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Mixed results for England at EuroHockey Indoor Nations Challenge
21 Jan 2008 07:28

© FIH / Gordon Morrison

The national indoor teams of England scored good and not so good results at the EuroHockey Indoor Nations Challenge. The English men team secured promotion to the EuroHockey Indoor Nations Trophy, while the English women just failed to do this.

England men made sure of promotion to the EuroHockey Indoor Nations Trophy with an emphatic 5-1 victory in their final group match against Finland.

The home nation started the match where they left off yesterday against Turkey and came out playing hard fast direct hockey that immediately put Finland on the back foot.

While England were dominant in the early part of this game Finland matched them with gritty defending exemplified by a fine display of goal keeping from Toni Lehtinen.

England’s pressure had to eventually tell and Richard Smith made the breakthrough after 10 minutes when he converted England’s fourth penalty corner.

Three minutes later Alistair Brogdon put England two up when he punished Finnish laxity at the back intercepting the ball just outside the circle and moving in to the right past the desperate dive of the keeper.  Brogdon flicked the ball high into the net just below the cross bar.

In the second half it was more of the same as England came out determined not to slip up and piled more pressure on Finland from the off. Early penalty corner chances were squandered by England as they failed to get clean stops and shots on target.

Adam Dixon finally ended the mini-goal drought when he scored a scorcher high just inside the left hand post to resume England’s march towards victory.

A rare lapse by the English defense allowed Finland the luxury of an attack and a well taken goal from Eemeli Moilanen made the most of the only real chance they had during the match.

Two minutes later Dixon was at it again as he took his tally for the tournament to seven ­- this time his penalty corner flick went low into the centre of the goal.

From this point on, Finland looked a beaten side and Harry Jawanda added the icing on England’s cake when he added a fifth goal just before the final whistle.

The England women were left devastated in Ponds Forge today after losing out in the final 3-2 against a Danish side who they had beaten 5-2 just yesterday.  Defeat for England means that despite topping a group which they dominated throughout, they fail to secure promotion to the EuroHockey Indoor Nations Trophy after falling at the final hurdle in a dramatic encounter.

2-0 down at half-time, England offered the home fans hope as they fought back to level the scores, but Matilde Lundberg’s goal with nine minutes remaining broke English hearts and left the team with Silver, when Gold had looked a certainty.

The home side, starting the game as favorites, lived up to this billing and dominated the early exchanges but failed to turn this dominance into goals.

So when Denmark took the lead through Charlotte Rasmussen it seemed it wouldn’t be long before England would be back on level terms.  Instead, just moments before the interval, the Danes’ penalty corner routine struck gold, as Captain Louise Hansen found Marianne Nielsen who shot low beyond Becky Duggan in the England goal.

At the other end, England had kept Mie Petersen busy, as she made fine saves to deny Natasha Brennan and Sally Walton among others.

After the interval, Petersen was called into action again to deny Alex Scott, but could do nothing when Scott found Emma Thomas overlapping to her left, allowing her in to peg back the Danish advantage.

Just one minute later Sarah Page found Scott, whose shot was blocked but Natalie Seymour moved the ball left for tournament top scorer Thomas to score an almost carbon copy of her first.

Momentum was with England, but it was the Danes who stole back the initiative, as Lundberg moved clear on the left of the England circle and fired beyond Duggan.  Their lead was nearly doubled moments later when Lundberg had the chance to make it four, but as the clock ran down it was England who looked the more likely scorers.  As the time ticked away, England won a brace of penalty corners which provided chances for Scott and Thomas, the latter of which came as final hooter sounded, for the match and unfortunately for England’s promotion hopes.

Speaking after the game, England Coach, Craig Parnham believed that there were positives to take despite the result, saying: “It’s obviously disappointing.  There’s nothing that’s going to make either myself or the players feel good at the moment.  The ultimate goal was to win this competition and we’ve failed to do that.  I was disappointed with the way we performed in front of goal today.  We were also a bit sloppy in our own defense, and that sort of combination doesn’t work out.  It’s a learning experience for the players and should they be in a similar position again they will hopefully make better decisions.  Although it’s not nice, we can take something from today.  It’s not a nice lesson, but it is a lesson learnt, so we can come back all the better for it in two years time”.

Results men’s EuroHockey Indoor Nations Challenge:
Croatia - Turkey 4-1
England - Sweden 2-3
Finland - Bulgaria 5-4
Finland - Turkey 5-5
Sweden - Bulgaria 11-4
England - Croatia 3-1
Sweden - Turkey 10-2
Croatia - Finland 6-2
England - Bulgaria 11-0
Finland - Sweden 2-11
Croatia - Bulgaria 10-0
England - Turkey 7-1
Bulgaria - Turkey 3-5
Croatia - Sweden 3-3
England - Finland 5-1

Results women EuroHockey Indoor Nations Challenge:
Sweden - Denmark 1-3
England - Turkey 10-0
Turkey - Sweden 3-1
England - Denmark 5-2
Turkey - Denmark 0-7
England - Sweden 9-0
Sweden - Turkey 0-1
England - Denmark 2-3

Source: England Hockey

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