Pearne-Webb calls for improvement despite semi-final berth

England collected the three points they needed to book their place in the EuroHockey Championships semi-finals but their performance against Belarus was far from convincing.

Germany v England (Pool B)


Mark Hager’s side needed just a point against the team who had conceded 24 goals in their opening two matches of the tournament. Although they got the victory, Captain Hollie Pearne-Webb stressed the need for improvement:

“We made it difficult for ourselves because some of our basics weren’t on it. We’d put a bobbly pass or play it somewhere we didn’t want it and then they were really on us which made it difficult. We need to look at our basics and tempo and try to impose our game better on teams.”

Belarus were searching for their first goal of the tournament and were unlucky not to find it in the opening moments of the match. Krestsina Papkova was set up by some fine work from Sviatlana Bahushevich, but with the goal at her mercy she struck the post from close range.

Lily Owsley broke the deadlock on nine minutes. She slotted in from a penalty corner and before the quarter time hooter sounded Izzy Petter scored her first England goal, converting Hannah Martin’s pass from close range.

Belarus caught England cold right at the start of the second quarter and Karyna Syddykava’s precise penalty corner strike beat Maddie Hinch to make it 2-1 – Belarus’ first goal of the tournament.

Six minutes later things got even better for Herman Kruis’ side. Nastassia Syrayezhka overlapped into the circle and fired a fierce shot through Hinch for the equaliser.

“They were much better today than in previous games so we have to give them credit for that. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy today. We knew they’d be different to opposition we’ve played in the past and we knew it’d be a fight but we made it a lot more difficult for ourselves today.” said Pearne-Webb afterwards.

Parity lasted less than a minute as Laura Unsworth forced home a penalty corner rebound to put England back in front – her tenth international goal.

Belarus had been beaten 13-0 by Germany and 11-0 by Ireland in their two previous matches in this tournament but the expected deluge of goals in this match never arrived. In fact, with seven minutes left, incredibly, it was all square once again. A sweeping counterattack after an England penalty corner resulted in joyous scenes among the Belarus players as Natallia Shtsin dived in at the far post to make it 3-3.


Although Hannah Martin’s neat finish four minutes from time ultimately earned England the win and their semi-final spot there was little in the way of celebration at full time after a below-par performance from Mark Hager’s side.

“The positive today is we got the win and we’re into the semi-finals. Stage one is done for us. We’ll review that game and look ahead to the semis.” Pearne-Webb said after the match.

“I think we’ll need a massive step up from today. The team know we have a good performance in us. Whoever we play in the semi-finals we know will be tough it’s really important we stick to our game plan, remain calm and stay in the game no matter what the score. I’m really looking forward to it.”

England now face Belgium, Spain or Netherlands in the semi-final.

About thetopofthed

Columnist for The Hockey Paper and the man behind The Top of the D. Writer, podcaster, goalkeeper and BBC Sport man. Used to work for Great Britain Hockey and have covered the sport at every major tournament.
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