England Coach Bobby Crutchley had mixed feelings after seeing his side beaten in the semi-final of the Rabobank EuroHockey Championships by hosts, Netherlands. Despite a penalty corner goal from Mark Gleghorne, England were downed by a double from Mirco Pruijser and one from Mink van der Weerden.
“I’m frustrated at the result but really proud of some of the hockey we played.” Said the England coach. “We were the better team for spells but they were where it mattered-in the circle. We had some chances but they took theirs better and that’s the difference.”
“We have to be pleased with some things we’ve done today but we’re not happy because we didn’t get what we wanted. We had some good performances and some naivety but we’ll continue to learn and develop and be better for the experience.”
England got a good foothold in the early going with Mikey Hoare getting forwards well and the Three Lions driving their opponents back. Crutchley’s team created the first clear chance of the match. Liam Sanford threw a huge aerial which was brought down beautifully by Barry Middleton. He dropped the ball off for Ollie Willars but his slapped shot was saved. Pirmin Blaak was called upon again moments later diving to his right to spectacularly deny David Condon. Pruijser had the first sighter for the Dutch but his shot was easily dealt with by Pinner.
England were doing a good job of frustrating the crowd. The party atmosphere of before the game had dropped to a murmur, however with nine minutes to the break England found themselves behind. Mink van der Weerden broke the deadlock with a backhand off a broken-down penalty corner and then a minute later Pruijser made it 2-0.
“We had a couple of errors and we got punished. Things didn’t fall for us and going 2-0 down made it hard but we kept going, kept producing chances and kept at it and we caused them some problems but didn’t quite do enough.” said the Head Coach.
England responded to going 2-0 down and Gleghorne had a penalty corner run down before Sam Ward’s snap shot flashed just wide after a neat turn. However, they were soon to fall 3-0 down as Pruijser stabbed home his second from close range.
Gleghorne got England on the board with a rocket drag flick into the roof of the net and it looked like they would rally. Chris Griffiths showed terrific guile to break free in the circle but his strike flew over the bar.
NED 3-1 ENG Gleghorne rips a drag flick into the top corner from a PC, game on #EHC2017 pic.twitter.com/ZrNVk4Cpqs
— EuroHockey (@eurohockeyorg) August 25, 2017
George Pinner did well to beat away a blockbuster from Seve van Ass late on but despite England going to a kicking back they were unable to find the goals they needed to rescue the match.
“The performance was everything we asked of every player.” Said Barry Middleton afterwards. “I’m so proud of what we did. Netherlands have shown for years that they’re a quality side but we showed how you play against them. We didn’t sit in. We took the game to them through all the lines we matched them we just lacked those little moments in the circle and they made them count a bit better. That’s what we need to learn because that’s how you win tournaments.”
England now face Germany in Sunday’s bronze medal match after Germany lost on shootout to Belgium earlier today. Netherlands will take on Belgium for the title.