England Men’s Hockey Team secured their first European-level medal in 14 years after taking silver at the EuroHockey Championships, just missing out on the trophy to the Netherlands. The English side pushed a very impressive Dutch side all the way in the final, but it finished 2-1 to the Netherlands.
The Dutch took the double lead goal through field goals from Derck De Vilder (9′) and Duco Telgenkamp (37′), while England pulled a goal back through Sam Ward (47′) in what was a closely fought contest.
The opening minutes saw both teams exchanging attacks, with the Netherlands slightly dominating the possession. The first real chance came from the Dutch side as their captain Brinkman was in a one-on-one situation, but the English goalkeeper Ollie Payne nullified the danger. They again took a shot at goal from near the left side of the goalpost, but Payne stood tall to deny the Dutch from taking the lead.
The Dutch continued with their structured attack and were successful in breaking the deadlock through De Vilder’s field goal in the ninth minute.
England fought back and kept mounting pressure on the Dutch in the final minutes. They were rewarded with a penalty corner, but the Netherlands averted the danger to end the opening quarter with a narrow 1-0 lead.
The Netherlands dominated the ball possession in the second quarter. They kept making attacking inroads, but the English goalie kept the Dutch at bay. They also had a penalty corner in the final minute of the quarter but missed out on converting it.
England also made a few circle entries, but couldn’t find an opening, ending the first half with just a goal behind.
After a delayed start due to the thunderstorm, England took the first shot at goal at the start of the third quarter. However, Ward’s reverse flick was deflected by the Dutch defender.
The Dutch took control of the proceedings as they doubled the lead through Telgenkamp’s deflection from an open play in the 37th minute. They also had a penalty corner in the following minutes but couldn’t convert it.
While the Netherlands continued with their attacking intent, England created half-chances in the closing stage of the third quarter.
England came out all guns blazing in the final quarter and pulled a goal back within two minutes. It was Ward who found the back of the net from an open play in the 47th minute.
With the Netherlands down to 10 men, England took off their goalkeeper to put an extra outfield player. The Dutch had a clear-cut opening with an empty goal, but Brendon Creed’s diving save pumped up England’s spirits as they almost equalised but the goal was disallowed and a penalty stroke was awarded on a video referral by the Dutch.
Nick Bandurak’s shot was saved, but the stroke was rewarded on a video referral by England. However, they couldn’t capitalise on it as Bandurak’s second attempt was also defended by the Dutch goalie.
In the dying minutes, England had a series of penalty corners, but couldn’t take advantage the opportunities and they finished 1-2 in the final of the EuroHockey Championship 2023.
Reflecting on the final and overall performance in the tournament, England Captain David Ames said, “Very tough way to end the competition. Finals come down to small margins. I think we had a little bit of a moment of chaos with the video referral. I’m not sure we played as well as we could have in the first half but played pretty well in the second half and I think we deserved to get back into the game.”
“I’m very proud to win a silver medal. Everyone wants gold, and we fought long and hard for a long time to be able to get through the semifinals and to be on the stage pretty special. Now we just have to make sure we’re backing it a few more times and cross the line. We came in the tournament really well, having done a lot of prep, started obviously very well and just got better and better. When we sit down in a few weeks, we will be very happy and pleased that we have got to the final for the first time in 14 years,” he concluded.