Bobby Crutchley insists his England side have come on leaps and bounds from last year as they enacted some revenge on Belgium to reach the semi-finals of the Hockey World League Final.
After topping their group England faced off against Belgium in the competition’s first quarter-final, having lost to the world number five side at last year’s EuroHockey Nations Championship at the semi-final stage.
After a goalless first half Tom Carson struck for the third time in the competition, this time from a penalty corner drag-flick in the 47th minute.
From then on it was backs against the wall to keep Belgium out, goalkeeper George Pinner impressing as England secured the 1-0 victory to move into the final four.
And after watching his side make amends for last year’s 3-0 defeat to Belgium, head coach Crutchley admitted it was nothing less than his troops deserved.
“I think the result and performance reflects on how far we’ve come as a team since the Europeans,” Crutchley said.
“We’ve improved a lot, even over the four games in this tournament, and to get a win over a side as strong as Belgium is credit to how hard the team has worked over the last five months in training.
“I think the quality of our defending was outstanding, but it is the improved team performance across the whole pitch which is encouraging.
“Looking ahead to Friday, I still want us to improve our attacking play on the ball and convert the chances we create into more goals.
“We’re much more tactically astute than we were in the summer and that shows the progress of us developing from being an inexperienced team to beating some of the top sides in the world here.”
© Sportsbeat 2014