Head coach Bobby Crutchley insists England were their own worst enemy as defeat to the Netherlands leaves them needing something against Ireland to advance at the EuroHockey Championships.
England’s men lost 2-1 to the Dutch as Jelle Galema and Billy Bakker netted in the first half before captain Barry Middleton responded after the break but that was as good as it got for Crutchley’s troops.
They were without Ben Arnold, who sat out as a precautionary measure after suffering a slight concussion in their opening pool match in Belgium – a 5-2 win over Poland.
London 2012 Olympian Harry Martin also only lasted 15 minutes before his hamstring strain became too much to bear with England now needing at least a draw against Ireland next time out to make the semi-finals.
England won the European title in 2009 before claiming bronze last time out in 2011 but Crutchley admits they need to begin faster if they are to win another medal this year in Belgium.
“We started slowly and you can’t give a side like the Netherlands a chance to be on the front foot. A couple of miss-traps, not being quite tight enough in defence and suddenly we were chasing the game,” he said.
“From there we made life really difficult for ourselves. After that, I thought we competed really well, but we got a couple of injuries and you could probably tell our squad was stretched quite a bit.
“In the second half I was really pleased with how we put ourselves out there and we played some good hockey. We would have liked to be more of a threat at the other end.
“But I think we can add that part of our game and cause more problems on the attack; I don't doubt that we have the ability, it’s just putting it all together.
“As soon as you see the fixtures for a tournament like this you know the final group game is likely to be the crunch game.
“We're very aware of the challenge ahead; Ireland are a quality side and have been improving for a number of years and their results reflect that.
“We're a relatively inexperienced squad, with only six players here from the Olympics, so I think that makes it a tough game."
© Sportsbeat 2013
Photo Ady Kerry/England Hockey