Netherlands take deserved win but encouraging signs for women

Great Britain's women in the FIH Pro League
Netherlands 2
Matla (12' FG)
Veen (19' FG)

Great Britain 0

Netherlands took a deserved 2-0 win over Britain's women in the FIH Pro League in Eindhoven, although Mark Hager's side will have been boosted by a spirited display, particularly in the second half.

Britain started well and fashioned an early corner, but Frederique Matla scored with a nice finish inside the first quarter to break the deadlock. When Marijn Veen made it two in the second quarter, it looked like the all-conquering Dutch would go on to score more, but Britain proved stoic in the face of pressure.

While not creating the chances they would have liked, Britain had good passages of play and dug in against the strongest XI that the Dutch have yet fielded in the league so far.

Qualification for the top four looks like it may now be a step too far in this first ever FIH Pro League season, but there were positives signs for our women on the road - and an honourable mention must go to Sarah Evans for her 100th international appearance.

Captain Hollie Pearne-Webb said, "The performance was 100% better than when we played Belgium on Thursday, which is a massive positive. But, we made two mistakes and they cost us. At the top level we've got to cut them out but overall it was much better."

Full report
Britain started well in Eindhoven, and Grace Balsdon forced the Dutch to defend well from the first penalty corner of the game as Marloes Keetels stopped her goalbound effort on the line. Down the other end, Lidewij Welten was an early threat on the reverse but Sabbie Heesh saved well.

Soon though the Dutch found their rhythm, and Frederique Matla finished expertly with 12 minutes gone after Malou Pheninckx did well down the right. Then not long after the quarter break, with Britain down to ten players, Marijn Veen doubled the advantage with a very cute finish after a cross was deflected by a British defender. Britain had their moments in the first half but couldn't cut through decisively, and Heesh saved from a Dutch corner not long before the break.

After a delayed start to the second half, the game lost a little of its urgency and cutting edge; Heesh well placed to prevent Welten from scoring a third from a corner. Balsdon then had a sight of goal from a corner but the Dutch stood very firm. Moments later Tess Howard stung the palms of the home 'keeper as Britain ended the quarter positively.

Into the final quarter and again Britain's defence did well to repel Dutch corners early on in the period. Laura Unsworth then had a sight of goal for Mark Hager's side, but shot wide from a narrow angle. With five minutes to go, Britain dispensed with goalkeeper Heesh in search of a goal, but the chance unfortunately never came.

Netherlands deserved to win, but Hager's women will have been boosted by their display of resilience, especially in the second half.

Great Britain: Heesh, Costello, Balsdon, Unsworth, Toman, Ansley, Pearne-Webb (c), Robertson, Jones, Neal, Petty, Sanders, Defroand, Hunter, Evans, Howard, Martin
Unused: Cochrane

Great Britain's women face Germany in the FIH Pro League