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EuroHockey Nations Championships -England (women) v Netherlands
NETHERLANDS 2 (1)
Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel 11 (PC)
Kim Lammers 60 (F)
ENGLAND 0 (0)
England's European Championship semi final ended in disappointment as the Netherlands, the reigning champions, ran out 2-0 winners in Monchengladbach on Thursday evening. It was a result that Head Coach Danny Kerry admitted was "bitterly disappointing".
England, who came through the pool phase with maximum points, found themselves defending for long periods of the match and struggled to create meaningful attacking opportunities. With just over ten minutes gone, from the game's first penalty corner, Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel latched onto a rebound from Maartje Paumen's flick and fired the Netherlands into the lead.
As they repelled a number of efforts, there remained hope for England's women that one goal would be enough to level things but Kim Lammers extinguished that hope ten minutes from time, adding a telling close range deflection to a smashed pass towards goal by Marilyn Agliotti. The result puts the Dutch into the final and seals their qualification for the London 2012 Olympic Games. For the fourth consecutive European Championships, England will contest the bronze medal playoff on Saturday.
Afterwards, Danny Kerry said, "The Dutch played well today and we were outcompeted. I thought we turned the ball over too much."
England captain Kate Walsh added, "We were too tentative on the ball and it coming back at us. The Dutch tackled back very effectively and our players weren't ready, which is disappointing."
England recalled Reading goalkeeper Beth Storry to the starting line up after she sat out the 3-1 win over Ireland on Tuesday while Slough's Nicola White also returned to the bench. Natalie Seymour, who plays her club hockey for Canterbury in the Investec Women's Premier Division, made her 50th appearance for England.
The last time England and the Netherlands met in the European Championships, the Dutch ran out 5-0 winners, helped in part by a dislocated shoulder sustained by Storry from a Maartje Paumen penalty corner flick. But England came close to avenging that defeat in the semi final of the 2010 World Cup when they drew 1-1 before going down 4-3 on penalties in emotional circumstances.
An open first five minutes saw both sides develop moves and it was Sabine Mol who had the first sight of goal early on, but her shot on the angle was comfortably kicked clear by Storry. In the 11th minute the Netherlands won a penalty corner off the foot of Bowdon Hightown's Sally Walton and from it they took the lead. Standing alongside Storry, Helen Richardson did well to get her stick to Maartje Paumen's shot but the ball rebounded to Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel who fired it into the goal to make it 1-0.
The goal seemed to settle the Dutch. In reply, England tried hard to find a way into the Netherlands' circle but despite interplay between Leicester's Hannah Macleod and Slough's Ashley Ball there seemed no way through.
In the 25th minute the Netherlands won a third penalty corner and it looked as if Paumen, the tournament's top goal scorer, had made it 2-0 but England captain Kate Walsh immediately appealed to the video umpire. Replays showed Dirkse van den Heuvel clearly obstructed Crista Cullen's defensive run as attempted to close down Paumen and the goal was disallowed.
Four minutes into the second half Storry came to England's rescue, athletically racing out to meet Kim Lammers at the top of the circle after a long defence splitting pass found the Dutch team's most capped player in space. As Lammers looked to round Storry, the 2010 FIH World All Star goalkeeper thrust out a leg to kick the ball clear as a goal looked likely.
For much of the second half England found themselves on the back foot and they were grateful to defenders Crista Cullen and Kate Walsh for timely interventions inside the circle as the Netherlands looked to extend their advantage. Cullen's pluck out of the air and Walsh's diving tackle on her reverse epitomised the efforts to which England had to stretch to maintain the narrow deficit.
Storry was again called upon to keep out Naomi Van As, who fashioned herself a shot after working her way along the baseline. Marilyn Agliotti then flashed a cross through the English circle, which Lammers came within inches of connecting with but it remained 1-0.
As the match entered its final ten minutes it looked as if England had finally conceded their second goal, only to see it ruled out and a bully awarded outside the circle following a consultation between the umpires. However, England's relief was short-lived. Moments later Lammers did put the final touch on an Agliotti smashed pass into the circle, diverting the ball beyond Beth Storry from close range to make it 2-0.
With fewer than five minutes remaining England won their only penalty corner of the match. Despite having seen little of the action in the previous 65 minutes, Netherlands goalkeeper Joyce Sombroek reacted smartly to save Leicester defender Crista Cullen's powerful low flick with her right foot.
The result means England will contest the bronze medal playoff for the seventh consecutive European Championship, looking for their fourth consecutive third place to add to 2005, 2007 and 2009. Their opponents will be the loser of Germany versus Spain, the second semi final.
England's men are also in European semi final action. In a rematch of the 2009 final, They take on the hosts Germany at 20:00 BST on Friday as they look to defend the crown they won in Amstelveen two years ago. The match will be live on the BBC Sport website and on the red button on some BBC platforms.
Women's EuroHockey Nations Championships Standings*
*Full tables on attached sheet
Pool C (Relegation Pool)
Belgium (6 pts, 2 games)
Azerbaijan (3 pts, 2 games)
Ireland (3 pts, 2 games)
Italy (0 pts, 2 games)
Spain (9 pts, 3 games)
Netherlands (6 pts, 3 games)
Azerbaijan (3 pts, 3 games)
Italy (0 pts, 3 games)
England (9 pts, 3 games)
Germany (6 pts, 3 games)
Belgium (3 pts, 3 game)
Ireland (0 pts, 3 game)
England Squad v Netherlands*
*caps & goals stats updated on the attached sheet
Name (Club) [Position]
Beth Storry (Reading) [Goalkeeper]
Natalie Seymour (Canterbury) [Defender]
Crista Cullen (Leicester) [Defender]
Kate Walsh (c) (Reading) [Defender]
Laura Unsworth (Leicester) [Defender]
Ashleigh Ball (Slough) [Midfielder]
Helen Richardson (Reading) [Midfielder]
Chloe Rogers (Leicester) [Midfielder]
Alex Danson (Reading) [Forward]
Hannah Macleod (Leicester) [Forward]
Sally Walton (Bowdon Hightown) [Defender/Forward]
Anne Panter (Leicester) [Midfielder]
Susannah Townsend (Canterbury) [Midfielder]
Georgie Twigg (Clifton) [Midfielder]
Rebecca Herbert (Leicester) [Forward]
Nicola White (Slough) [Forward]
Did Not Play
Madeleine Hinch (Leicester) [Goalkeeper]
Kerry Williams (Leicester) [Forward]