Richard Alexander 3, 63 (F, F)
Simon Mantell 18 (F)
Jonty Clarke 57 (F)

Rogier Hoffman 7 (F)
Jeroen Hertzbeger 20 (F)
Mink van der Weerden 29 (PC)

England’s men performed something of a rescue mission on Thursday evening as they came from behind to take victory over the Netherlands at the ABN AMRO FIH Champions Trophy in Mönchengladbach.

Having twice been ahead in the first half through Surbiton’s Richard Alexander and Reading’s Simon Mantell, the English found themselves behind at the break after goals from Rogier Hofman, Jeroen Hertzberger and Mink van der Weerden gave the Dutch the lead.

The Netherlands came out for the second half intent on impressing their game on England, who had to play for lengthy periods without possession. With less than quarter of an hour remaining the tide turned as Loughborough Students’ Nick Catlin probed at the Dutch defence, winning a free hit outside the circle. From the set play, Ashley Jackson found Reading’s Jonty Clarke and his pass across the face of goal was turned in by a Dutch defender for 3-3. England were grateful to goalkeeper James Fair for his intervention soon after before Catlin against caused trouble for the Dutch, linking well with James Tindal to set up Richard Alexander on the back post to prise victory for England from the hands of the Netherlands.

England had never before beaten the Netherlands in their five previous Champions Trophy meetings. Ashley Jackson scored the golden goal winner in the European semi final in Amstelveen 11 months ago that secured England’s passage to the final but the Dutch had exacted their revenge in a close fought 4-3 win in the bronze medal match at the World Cup in Delhi in March.

On Tuesday, the Netherlands suffered a shock defeat at the hands of New Zealand on while England had given a good account of themselves against Australia but lost 3-2.

Going into the game, the Netherlands changed their goalkeeper, bringing in Jaap Stockmann while Beeston’s Adam Dixon returned to replace Brooklands’ Andy Bull in England’s line up. After two defeats and a draw England realistically needed at win to keep alive any hopes of playing in a medal playoff on Sunday.

England got off to the best possible start with a goal inside three minutes. Surbiton’s Richard Alexander got the credit for it, his ninth for England, but the final touch came from the stick of Dutchman Wouter Jolie, who deflected Alexander’s cross from inside the circle beyond his goalkeeper at the near post.

The Netherlands were level just five minutes later though with a goal that also cost England their team referral after Beeston’s Alastair Wilson unsuccessfully contested a decision in the build up. Wilson had thought he was fouled when the ball was taken from him on the left hand side of the English 23 metre area but the video umpire disagreed. The cross that followed from the Dutch right found Rogier Hofman and the 23 year old scored low to make it 1-1.

Neither side created much in the way of opportunities prior to Simon Mantell putting England back in front midway through the half. Adam Dixon, who sat out Tuesday’s defeat to Australia, was the creator with a cross from the right and when Mink van der Weerden missed the interception inside the circle Reading forward Mantell was on hand to steer it home inside the near post from a narrow angle. The goal brought up Mantell’s quarter century of goals in an England shirt.

But as happened earlier, the Dutch response was almost instantaneous as Jeroen Hertzberger finished off a fluid team move from close range. Robbert Kemperman did the hard work down the left channel, evading Richard Alexander’s lunging tackle before squaring to Rogier Hofman who knocked it on to Hertzbeger. The pace of the move had allowed Hertzbeger to find space at the back post and he had a straightforward finish on his reverse to level things at two all.

The Netherlands took the lead for the first time in the game on the half hour mark after Dan Fox was penalised for using the back of his stick as he dived to cut out a pass to the middle of the England circle. The umpire signalled for the penalty corner and Mink van der Weerden dispatched a shot at pace low beyond James Fair’s outstretched stick.

Jaap Stockman made a comfortable save shortly after the re-start when Mantell broke through the Dutch defence and fired an effort low down the middle. With two minutes of the half remaining Ben Hawes drove powerfully into the Dutch circle and forced a diving save from Stockman, who could only send the ball up into the air towards Ashley Jackson giving England their first penalty corner of the match. From the set piece Jackson aimed high but Stockman was equal to his effort, deflecting the ball away with relative ease.

The second half began with the Netherlands frustrating England as they kept control of possession, limiting England’s opportunities to get out of their half. Reading’s Iain Mackay and Surbiton’s James Tindall both left the field for treatment to injuries sustained within 30 seconds of each other; Mackay was accidentally clattered by Billy Bakker before Tindall went down clutching his wrist after an innocuous looking collision with Sander Baart.

Cannock goalkeeper Fair kicked a commanding clearance from the circle with 50 minutes played as the Netherlands probed the English defence and stifled their attacking intent. The Dutch were clearly determined not to let England become the third team in the tournament to take their scalp, retaining possession well inside the attacking half.

Knowing they needed an equaliser to keep alive hopes of featuring in Sunday’s bronze medal match England searched for a way back into the match. When Nick Catlin’s jinking run at the Dutch defence was brought to a premature end just outside the circle England took full advantage. Ashley Jackson, who will return to the England Hockey League with East Grinstead for the new season, found Reading’s Jonty Clarke on the left baseline inside the circle. Clarke unleashed a powerful cross to the near post 30 centimetres off the ground and the ball was deflected beyond Stockman into the goal. Simon Mantell was the man who reeled away in celebration but the video replays, requested by the Dutch defence, showed the ball had gone in off a defender’s stick and the goal was awarded to Jonty Clarke after video umpire Ged Curran ruled his cross was not dangerous.

England had their tails up but were thankful to James Fair for his one-on-one save to block the progress of Jeroen Hertzberger after the Dutch goal scorer snuck in behind Wilson at left back.

Upfield it was Loughborough Students’ Catlin at the centre of the next English play and his influence was telling as he set up Alexander for England’s winner in the 63rd minute. Running through the left channel Catlin found James Tindall on the baseline before receiving the ball back from the Surbiton forward inside the circle. With Stockman advancing and challenges raining in on the 21 year old he did well to find Richard Alexander waiting unmarked on the back post. Alexander still had to deal with the bobbling ball but he steered it home to put England into the lead with just seven minutes remaining.

Following the goal the Netherlands threw everything at the English defence, who were back in numbers. Ashley Jackson’s full length dive prevented Hofman getting in behind and the Ben Hawes’ sweeping up in front of goal kept the Oranje at bay.

Hofman had one final effort with just under two minutes remaining after persistent play by Robert van der Horst at the top of the England circle but Hofman’s strike hit the side netting and the chance was gone.

After the match England Assistant Coach Bobby Crutchley explained why the result was more important than the performance: “Sometime’s it’s just about getting the win,” he said. “We were disappointed with the first half performance but credit to the players for picking themselves up. In the second half they fought hard for the win.”

Speaking about Nick Catlin, who had a hand in both of England’s second half goals, Crutchley said: “Nick upped his game in the second half and his contribution was rewarded.”

The victory puts England up to fourth in the standings, ahead of New Zealand on goal difference. Coupled with New Zealand’s 4-4 draw with Spain earlier in the day, the result gives added importance to England’s final pool match on Saturday, when they take on the Black Sticks at 12:00 BST. A win over New Zealand will guarantee England a shot at the medals while a draw would leave them waiting on the outcome of the Netherlands’ game against hosts Germany.


Visit the official tournament website here: http://www.monchengladbach2010.sportcentric.com/vsite/vtrial/page/home/0,11065,5233-200541-217764-48319-307358-custom-item,00.html

The full list of fixtures and results from the tournament can be found on the attached document or at www.englandhockey.co.uk/menschampionstrophy

The latest table can be found on the attached document.

James Fair (Cannock) GK
Richard Alexander (Surbiton) Def/Mid/Fwd
Dan Fox (Hampstead & Westminster) Def
Richard Smith (Loughborough Students) Def
Alastair Wilson (Beeston) Def
Adam Dixon (Beeston) Def/Mid
Ashley Jackson (HGC) Mid
Glenn Kirkham (C) (East Grinstead) Mid
Simon Mantell (Reading) Fwd
James Tindall (Surbiton) Fwd
Alastair Brogdon (Bowdon) Fwd

Substitutes Used
Ben Hawes (Surbiton) Def
Nick Catlin (Loughborough Students) Mid/Fwd
Iain Mackay (Reading) Mid
Jonty Clarke (Reading) Fwd
Rob Moore (Surbiton) Fwd

Did Not Play
Nick Brothers (Reading) GK
Andy Bull (Brooklands MU) Def

Credit: hockeyimages.co.uk
Caption: Richard Alexander (back left) and Nick Catlin (middle) are involved in the build up to England’s winning goal against the Netherlands at the ABN AMRO FIH Champions Trophy in Mönchengladbach.

Further information:
Lawrence West, EHB PR & Sponsorship Officer, 07525 987283 / 01628 897509

Photgraph courtesy of hockeyimages.co.uk.