England’s men were denied a bronze medal with defeat to Belgium as the women’s team defeated Scotland in their final match of the EuroHockey Championships.
It was a phenomenal effort from England’s men when they met Belgium in the bronze medal match, and though Sam Ward recorded a brilliant brace, it wasn’t to be enough as they fell to a 3-2 defeat in what had been a close encounter throughout.
In the final match with involvement from the Home Nations, England’s women earned a battling 3-1 victory over Scotland to secure World Cup qualification.
Having received the blow of a narrow semi-final defeat to Germany in their previous match, England’s men were looking to leave the competition with silverware when they met Belgium in the bronze medal match.
However, after falling behind to Tom Boon’s opening quarter penalty stroke, the team found themselves chasing the game in the second-half, despite matching Belgium for large parts of the first 30 minutes.
Sam Ward ensured that pressure wouldn’t go without reward as he rifled the ball into the top corner from a well-executed penalty corner routine to level the scores just two minutes into the second-half.
The equilibrium didn’t last long as both sides enjoyed a flurry of chances, but it was Belgium who were first to profit as Thomas Briels got a wicked late deflection on the ball to take it past Ollie Payne in goal.
Belgium made England pay for failing to convert more of their litany of chances as Boon bagged his second of the game, this one coming from a penalty corner as the team added to their lead.
Ward bit back just a minute later with another successful drag flick as he found the top corner with pin-point precision to bring the scores back to 3-2 and tee up a nail-biting finish.
Despite the English pressure in the dying minutes, Belgium clung on to ensure they would be victorious and take home the bronze medal.
Later in the day, England’s women met Scotland in the final match with involvement from the Home Nations as the former sought World Cup qualification whilst the latter aimed to finish the tournament with a win.
England got off to the perfect start as Izzy Petter displayed excellent close stick control to work her way into a central position in the circle from which she delivered a clinical finish to open the scoring with less than five minutes on the clock.
Scotland found a way back into the game, McKenzie Bell’s brilliant effort in the final minute of the first-half levelling things up. It wasn’t level for long as Lily Owsley pounced on a loose ball following a penalty corner to ensure England would have the lead going into the break.
Elizabeth Wilson picked up her first international cap as Scotland put up a resilient performance and kept the scores close throughout.
However, when Owsley bagged her second of the match with another smart finish, the goal ended Scottish hopes of a comeback as England secured a 3-1 victory as the competition came to a close for both teams.
The result means that England finish top of Pool C and confirm World Cup qualification.