England Coach Bobby Crutchley was upbeat despite his side coming out on the wrong side of a 4-3 score line in an enthralling encounter with Germany.
Crutchley’s side trailed to early strikes from Mats Grambusch and Niklas Wellen inside the first 11 minutes but rallied to lead 3-2 before eventually succumbing in the final quarter.
“We started poorly and weren’t on it defensively. At times, we were sloppy but there was still a hell of a lot of good stuff.” said Crutchley. “The things we can sort out are things we can learn. Being prepared for the intensity of other teams and the way they start is something we can learn and become better at. The high-quality stuff we produced is much harder to teach. So, we have to keep doing that good stuff and be a bit more diligent with the not so good.”
England trailed 2-0 at the end of the first quarter but hit back immediately with Mark Gleghorne’s third goal of the tournament. The No14 fired home after good approach work from Ian Sloan and Henry Weir. The rest of the second quarter was played at breakneck speed but it stayed 2-1 at the half way stage.
The third quarter was where the game really took off. Chris Griffiths set the tone, testing Tobias Walter in the opening seconds before Liam Sanford cleared off the line from Marco Miltkau at the other end. David Condon and Sloan also brought the best out of Walter but an equaliser seemed to be on the cards.
No one could have predicted the quality of the goal when it came. Brendan Creed threw a monstrous aerial over the top and Phil Roper latched onto it and calmly lofted a glorious first-time finish into the net.
— EuroHockey (@eurohockeyorg) August 21, 2017
England then took the lead with another superb goal. This time Adam Dixon, making his 200th international appearance marked the occasion by touching home a slick penalty corner routine.
Germany rallied and Pinner was at his best to make two fine saves in quick succession before being alert enough to snuff out the danger from a counterattack after England could not trap a penalty corner.
— hockey.nl (@hockey_nl) August 21, 2017
Germany thought they had been awarded a penalty stroke after a melee in the circle but after what seemed an eternity, a penalty corner was given by the video umpire. England saw it off but from a reaward Lukas Windfeder found the bottom corner to level it once more.
“Germany are a good team with great players so it’s hard.” said Crutchley. “That game swung from side to side all the time. It looked like one team was on top then the other.”
Germany got their noses in front in the final quarter thanks to a goal from Anton Boeckel after a good first save from Captain Pinner. The goalkeeper performed heroics to keep England in the hunt with a string of super saves. The giant goalkeeper’s performance earned him a huge ovation from the crowd when he left the field for a kicking back late on. England chased the game right to the end but the clock ran out and the Three Lions were beaten.
“We’ve got to learn from it.” said Crutchley afterwards. “It’s a great experience for our young players about what this level is really about. They’ve shown they can match it, they just need to be able to do it for longer.”
That result means that England now face a winner-takes-all clash with Ireland in their final pool game with Ireland on Wednesday.