England go 5-2 down to Belgium in first Crutchley test

[img_assist|nid=8177|title=Darren Cheesman|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=150|height=140]BELGIUM 5 (3)
John-John Dohmen 13, 30 (FG, FG)
Felix Denayer 23 (FG)
Jerome Dekeyser 36 (PC)
Cedric Charlier 47 (FG)

ENGLAND  2 (0)
Darren Cheesman 40 (FG)
Dan Fox 44 (FG) 

As part of England’s preparation for their World League Semi Final in Malaysia at the end of the month they played their first of three warm-up games against Belgium in Antwerp.

The home side, ranked ninth in the world, dominated the first half of play with four goals inside 36 minutes. England did pull two goals back in the second half through Darren Cheesman and Dan Fox, but a fifth goal from Belgium in the 47th minute cemented the home win.

Speaking after the game England Head Coach, Bobby Crutchley said, “We were far too slow out of the blocks today, however after a poor start I thought we picked ourselves up well in the second half and enjoyed the majority of possession. I hope we can now carry this into our games tomorrow and Thursday.”

Reading’s Tom Carson made his international debut in the first of a three match series. 

Belgium came into the game high in confidence and fresh from their first place finish at last month’s World League Round 2 tournament in Saint-Germain, France.

John-John Dohmen was first player to get his name on the match sheet in the 13th minute and with momentum firmly on their side they showed no signs of slowing down with two more goals coming inside the first 35 minutes of play. Felix Denayer made it 2-0 for the home side 10 minutes after the first goal and Dohmen cemented the lead shortly before the half-time whistle to register his brace and give a three goal cushion going into the break. 

A three goal deficit was a less than ideal start, but England made it even harder for themselves one minute into the second half when they conceded a penalty corner. The initial shot was not cleared, allowing Jerome Dekeyser to chase the ball down and deflect it back high into Pinner’s goal to make it 4-0. 

Not to be kept on the defensive, England started pushing back, and in the 40th minute a strong cross by Hampstead & Westminster’s Dan Fox allowed Reading’s Darren Cheesman to deflect the ball in past the Belgian keeper with a reverse stick to pull one goal back. Four minutes later another surge from the visitors saw Fox score his first England goal, pouncing on a loose ball and hammering it home from 10 yards out, beating the Belgian goalkeeper at the near post. 

Sensing that Belgium were on the back foot, England pushed hard for a third goal only to be hit on the counter attack in the 47th minute by Cedric Charlier to restore the three goal cushion. England worked hard to reduce the deficit, but were unfortunately unable to turn fruitful circle possession into goal scoring opportunities.

England’s next game against Belgium takes place tomorrow at 19:00 UK time.