Netherlands snatched the game from England, who came within three minutes of their second victory over the world number two side in 2013. The dutch girls scored two quick goals in the 67th and 68th minutes to win 3-2 and take the three points from England at the Argentina World League Final in Tucumán.
England defender Sally Walton and forward Nicola White both received flowers for reaching milestone caps; Walton 100 for England and White 100 combined [England & Great Britain].
Speaking after the game England Head Coach Jason Lee said, “I thought the performance was ok, although not as good as we were aiming or hoping for. I didn’t feel like we deserved to be 2-1 up at the end, the Dutch had created a lot of chances throughout the game.”
On the defensive and attacking elements of the performance he added, “It was a strong defensive display overall, but it was our attacking play and creating chances that let us down today – we need to be pushing a team like the Netherlands far more throughout the game, not just holding on. We gave the ball away too cheaply at times and in the end that cost us the game.”
The Netherlands took the game to England over the first 35 minutes, playing some very slick hockey and getting the better of England in the one-on-one battles. Their deserved first goal came after just six minutes of play, Dutch Captain Maartje Paumen scoring from a penalty corner low past a diving Maddie Hinch [Holcombe] in England’s goal. Hinch was in fine form making several key saves throughout the first 35 minutes, and England’s defensive line, led by Captain Kate Walsh, withstood everything the Dutch could throw at it. With just two minutes to go before the break England won a penalty corner and a well-worked move saw the ball come to Twigg on the post who deftly redirected the ball home to make it 1-1 at the break.
England enjoyed far more of the play in the second half and started to push the Netherlands into making errors. In the 41st minute England moved the ball from one end of the pitch to the other via a great touch from Sophie Bray to Laura Unsworth, who hit a strong ball into the circle where Lily Owsley was pressing the goal line. The ball found its way through the defender and goalkeeper into the goal and an own goal was awarded to England to take the score to 2-1.
The Dutch pushed hard for an equaliser, but England’s defence was resolute and it took until the 67th minute for the world number two side to level the scores. Paumen was again on target with a brilliant effort high into Hinch’s goal. The game looked to be heading to a draw, but a quick restart from the Dutch saw England caught on the back foot and Kitty van Male slotted the ball home from close range making it 2-3 and stealing the victory from England in the 68th minute.
Speaking after the game a disappointed Giselle Ansley [England & Surbiton defender] gave her thoughts on the game, “We gave it everything out there and I thought it was a positive performance for the majority of the game, but it was disappointing in the last three minutes to let in two goals. It’s still early stages in this tournament and we’ve got plenty more games to keep fighting. The Dutch came at us hard in the first half and defensively we matched them for pace and diligence, which is very positive. We have a day to recover now and look forward to playing Germany in the final pool game on Tuesday.”
In the other Pool A match of the morning there was nothing to choose between Germany and Korea as they played out a 2-2 draw.
Tomorrow is a much needed rest day for the teams as they get chance to recover from two gruelling games in 35 degree heat. Looking ahead to England’s next game on Tuesday against European Champions Germany, Lee said, “Tuesday will be a different game to today’s as Germany play in a very different style to the Dutch. They’ve [Germany] had the better of us over the last 12 months, but the games have been very close, including of course the last time we played them in the European Championship Final when it was 4-4 after 70 minutes.”
England’s match against Germany starts at 14:30 (UK time) on Tuesday and will be streamed live on the FIH YouTube Channel.