England go into Wednesday’s game against Ireland with their goal-difference advantage intact after a 2-1 loss to Netherlands in the European Championships tonight.
Netherlands have not yet fired on all cyclinders in Boon with uncharacteristic passing errors and poor corner conversions rates limiting their effectiveness.
To be fair, however, they showed marginal improvement over yesterday’s efforts against Ireland – where they also won 2-1.
England didn’t help their cause with a slow start and a few minor mistakes giving the Duutch the space they love and a 2-0 half-time lead.
There were sighns however that things were sharpening up, despite the loss of Harry Martin with a hamstring pull and Ben Arnold who was rested as a precaution after a head injury.
The improvements came late in the half but it took until the 54th minute for England to break through when skipper Barry Middleton smashed one in after a cross from the right found him in space high in the circle in the 54th minute.
Meanwhile keeper George Pinner seemed to have Mink van der Weerden’s corners under control.
A few chances also came via Iain Lewers’ aerials and enterprise down the flanks where Dan Fox, Henry Weir and Mike Hoare were always ready to link with the midfield.
But that sixth-minute Billy Bakker goal – a nice volleyed finish after an aerial lobbed into the D from an attempted interception – and Jelle Galema’s finish on a rebound from a Robbert Kemperman thump in the 24th were too much to overcome.
Coach Bobby Crutchley was left ruing the slow start. “We played well enough in the second half defensively. I was pleased with how we put ourselves out there.”
He said that with a little more quality in attacking play – and England did have the players to do that – they could have put more pressure on the Dutch in the second half.
“It was a funny kind of game becasue whatever happened out there today we have to get a result when we play Ireland.
“Ireland are a quality side who have been improving year-on-year as they have shown with their performances here.
“When the fixtures came out you knew that was going to be crunch time.”