Captain Middleton describes three match series as “learning curve”
In the third and final match of the series Belgium recorded their biggest victory of the week as they put five goals past England with no reply. In a repeat of the first two fixtures, the Red Lions went into the break three goals to the good, and to reinforce recent form they were able to convert twice more before full time to make it 5-0 and cement their series whitewash.
Speaking after the game a disappointed, but nevertheless confident England Captain Barry Middleton summed up his side’s trip to Belgium. “It’s been a tough few days, but a good learning curve for all the guys out here. We’ve played great hockey in patches but going forward we need to play consistently well for 70 minutes. It’s been great to get together as a squad properly for the first time and test ourselves against a side like Belgium, but we now need to take that forward and start winning.”
Reading’s James Bailey made his international debut in Enlgand’s goal, subbing on at half time for Beeston and England’s number one keeper, George Pinner. Pinner’s club teammate, Harry Martin, rejoined the squad after completing university exams, while Loughborough Student’s Andy Bull watched this one from the sidelines.
In similar style to the first two matches England held their own for much of the game, but ultimately were punished for some indecisiveness and poor play against a Belgian side who looked very sharp and took their chances well.
The first three goals came from England turning the ball over in their own defensive third, which allowed Belgium to attack in numbers. Tom Boon was the first to benefit inside five minutes to make it 1-0 to the home side.
On the 23rd minute, Captain Barry Middleton was unlucky to deflect the ball into his own goal past a helpless Pinner as he attempted to stop a crossed ball coming into the danger area from Boon.
At 2-0 the game was still very much in England’s reach, but another turnover in a dangerous area allowed Belgium’s Van Doren through to register his first goal of the series and take the score to 3-0 at half time.
Across the 70 minutes Belgium were awarded six penalty corners to England’s four. The Red Lions converted two out of their six attempts and defended well to keep England’s efforts at bay. Both penalty corner conversions for the home side came in the second half with Dekeyser registering his second goal of the series in the 42nd minute with a low flick to Bailey’s left. Hampstead & Westminster’s Dan Fox got half a stick to it, but it wasn’t enough to stop it. Then, in the final two minutes Tom Boon finished the game off as he’d started with his second goal of the match, this time a with a powerful flick high to Bailey’s left.
Adding his thoughts following the 5-0 defeat, England Assistant Coach David Ralph said, “Ironically of the three games this was the closest, however our defensive and attacking circle play was poor and we need to improve on that going forward. There has definitely been an overall improvement across the three games, but we have to concentrate on scoring goals and defending better over a 70 minute period.”
Belgium v England
Thursday, 6 June 2013
BELGIUM 5 (3)
Tom Boon 5, 68 (FG, PC)
Arthur Van Doren 31 (FG)
Jerome Dekeyser 42 (PC)
ENGLAND 0 (0)
Source: England Hockey