England bounce back for European bronze

Posted On 27th August 2017

Men’s Bronze Medal match: Germany 2 England 4 (1-2)
England netted twice in the closing nine minutes to beat Germany and claim the Rabo EuroHockey Championships bronze medal, the two sides playing out a thriller for the second time this week.

The tone for an end-to-end tussle was set from the start with Chris Griffiths flicking into Tobias Walter’s chest in the very first minute. Christopher Ruhr flashed a reverse across the face of goal while Sam Ward shot wide with Anton Boeckel in the sin-bin.

Mats Grambusch embarked on a beautiful run that led to a big save from George Pinner and he also smothered Marco Miltkau’s chance to end a scoreless first quarter.

Nine seconds into the second half, Ruhr won a corner that – at the second setting – Grambusch dived onto from Lukas Windfeder’s dragged pass. Barry Middleton equalised in similar fashion at the right post from a second England corner for 1-1 in the 24th minute and three minutes later, Ian Sloan had England in front.

Michael Hoare found his captain lurking in mid-circle from a raking pass and the midfielder slotted under Walter, a 2-1 half-time lead.

Germany spent much of the third quarter knocking on the door of an equaliser with Liam Sanford needing to show quick hands to control on the goal line from Tobias Hauke’s run. And the leveller came from another corner, Windfeder netting his fifth goal of the tournament, beating Pinner down his right-hand side.

It was a bruising affair with many players going down with injuries, Hoare and Middleton taking injury breaks in some pain.

Mark Gleghorne had England back in front as they shook off the shackles briefly with David Ames showing some immaculate skill to take in a long overhead, laying on an inviting pass for his fellow Ulster man to sweep home.

They had some big tests of their nerve in the closing minutes with Sanford making another crucial block and Pinner making some big boots to safety.

And it paid dividends when Germany removed their goalkeeper, breaking out of defence and racing up the pitch through Phil Roper who slotted into an empty net.

England coach Bobby Crutchley saw his side overcome a bruising affair, saying afterwards: “There was a lot of guts there and great goalkeeping. To see Mark Gleghorne get up there to get all the way up to score the goal that wins it, it shows heart more than the head.”

It was their first major medal since 2011: “We have a lot of fourths under our belt so we are very pleased with a medal from a tough competition like this. Winning the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament with GB, qualifying for the World Cup, it’s been a really good year for this group and we want to step up and continue to learn.

“The standard of competition is getting tougher and tougher. We keep improving but so does everyone else. The physical intensity, I am glad I am not playing anymore! It’s a great game to watch.”

Liam Sanford played a key role in the centre of defence, making several key interventions and is one of the newcomers to the side.

“Playing them in the group phase, losing 4-3, then playing quite well and losing to the Dutch, it was quite to get ourselves back up for it,” he said, after an impressive tournament.

“The crowd and the team spirit was incredible. We played with no fear and got the result we wanted.

“In other places, the atmosphere depends whether you play the hosts. The Holland game was unbelievable but every game has been unbelievable, too. It was really nice to have the crowds supporting all the time. Such an incredible tournament, especially for just my second one.”

On the German side, Tobias Hauke said: “We did not reach our aim of a medal, losing the shoot-out to Belgium. We wanted to do everything to get the win today because we know how good it feels to get the bronze, especially in a European Championships which is so short and so intense with so many good teams.

“But it was like the whole tournament; we gave away goals too easily and that’s why England beat us.”

Germany – England
16’ Mats Grambusch 1-0 (pc)
24’ Barry Middleton 1-1 (pc)
27’ Ian Sloan 1-2
43’ Lukas Windfeder 2-2 (pc)
51’ Mark Gleghorne 2-3
59’ Phil Roper 2-4

Umpires: J Mejzlik (CZE), L Zwierzchowski (POL)

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