England had to be content with a share of the spoils as they drew a pulsating match with the Netherlands 2-2 at the Rabo Men’s Four Nations tournament in Amstelveen on Friday evening.
As they had against Pakistan on Wednesday, England twice came from behind with goals from Jonty Clarke and Barry Middleton cancelling out efforts from Jeroen Hertzberger and Rogier Hofman.
Afterwards Head Coach Jason Lee was pleased with the performance of his squad, who will be in action on home turf at The London Cup in two weeks’ time, although he acknowledged that it was game his side could have won. He said, “The game was played to a high standard. We’re happy with the performance but we want to try winning these games, not just be happy with how we play. We need to take that step.”
England threatened as early as the first minute when Loughborough Students’ Nick Catlin burst down the right hand side to set up Rob Moore whose shot was comfortably saved. It was a promising start and England enjoyed the best of the opening spell before Jeroen Hertzberger broke the deadlock for the Dutch in the eighth minute, finishing with a clever dribble after a move that spanned the length of the field.
For a while the goal knocked the wind out of England’s sails but the determination of Reading’s Olympian forward Jonty Clarke levelled the score just before the half hour. Collecting the ball on the 23 metre line, Clarke initially fell over onto his knees but recovered under pressure from a Dutch defender to take the ball into the circle and let off a low flat shot on his reverse that flew into the goal. It was the 30 year old’s 25th goal for England.
Both sides failed to take advantage of penalty corners late in the first half and returning for the second half, England found themselves under a spell if pressure during which they struggled to win meaningful possession defending deep. When Rogier Hofman scored it was not against the run of play as he swept the ball in off the crossbar to put the Netherlands 2-1 up. Moments earlier Nick Brothers had pulled off a point blank save but he could do little about the Hofman effort as the Dutchman connected with a cross from the left.
Rallying impressively, the final 20 minutes were all about England. With 18 minutes left Mark Pearn hit a shot on the bounce after the ball had rebounded to him and Barry Middleton, named in the FIH World All Stars Team of the Year 2010, deflected it into the net to make it 2-2.
Following the equaliser, Pearn, Surbiton’s Richard Alexander and Loughborough Students’ Richard Smith all came close but England had to settle for the draw, their second of the three match tournament.
Adding to Jason Lee’s comments, Team Manager Andy Halliday said, “The pace of the game was a real feature and we played quite expansive hockey at times. You can tell by the reaction of the players that they’re pleased with the performance but a little disappointed we didn’t win. These are the games we’ll need to start winning.”
Earlier in the day Germany beat Pakistan 2-1 to climb above England into second in the table. The two sides meet in their final match of the tournament at 14:00 BST on Saturday. England will need to beat the side they defeated to win the European Championships two years ago if they are to have a chance of winning the tournament and hope that Pakistan can at least hold the Dutch to a draw.
England Hockey Results Service, Rabo Four Nations Cup
Friday, 1 July 2011
NETHERLANDS 2 (1)
Jeroen Hertzberger 9 (F)
Rogier Hofman 45 (F)
ENGLAND 2 (1)
Jonty Clarke 24 (F)
Barry Middleton 52 (F)
Rabo Four Nations Cup Schedule (revised)
Local Time - BST - Fixture
Wednesday 29 June 2011
17:30 - 16:30 - England v Pakistan
20:00 - 19:00 - Netherlands v Germany
Friday 1 July 2011
17:00 - 16:00 - Germany v Pakistan
19:30 - 18:30 - England v Netherlands
Saturday 2 July 2011
15:00 - 14:00 - Germany v England
17:30 - 16:30 - Netherlands v Pakistan
Rabo Four Nations Cup Table
1. Netherlands (2, matches, 4 pts)
2. Germany (2 matches, 3 pts)
3. England (2 matches, 2 pts)
4. Pakistan (2 matches, 1 pt)
Source: England Hockey Media Release.
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