Cool hand Lewers not enough as England lose bronze medal game

[img_assist|nid=8553|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=76|height=100]Iain Lewers’ fine defensive display and spectacular goal were not enough for England who fell 3-2 to the Netherlands in the European Championship bronze-medal game.

Two Dutch strikes at the start of the second half blew away England’s 2-1 half-time lead. But they came agonisingly close to sending the game into a shootout when Adam Dixon didn’t connect with a Simon Mantell ball across the face of goal from the right in the final minute.

England allowed the Dutch too much space at the start of the second half after keeping the game tight up to the break.

The Dutch duly equalised from a Hertzberger corner, his second, on 39 minutes. The Rotterdam star appeared to scuff his flick slightly and put George Pinner off balance in the England goal – he will not be happy to have seen the ball go under him.

The dangerous Robbert Kemperman and Billy Bakker were now starting to find a worrying amount of space and they combined to give the Dutch the lead.

Kemperman broke down the left and smashed a ball into Bakker in the circle. Despite Lewers’ tackle the Dutchman set up Hertzberger at the top of the circle. He duly smashed in his hat-trick.

England then returned to their first half intensity and looked dangerous on the break while denying Bakker, Rogier Hoffmann and Kemperman any opportunity to turn in the circle.

Henry Weir continued his good form in this tournament with fine stickwork and a turn of pace. He combined with Smith, Nick Catlin and Barry Middleton to win a corner in the 56th minute. But, as has often been the case here this week for all sides, there was a mis-trap.

The Dutch opened the scoring in the final with a Hertzberger corner drag-flick in the ninth minute which came on a PC breakout after Richard Smith’s corner was saved down the other end.

On 15 minutes, Lewers produced his spectacular effort. Smith’s corner flick was charged down but the ball ended up with the injector who flicked it high into Jaap Stockman’s net from an impossible angle. Dan Shingles had won the corner, pulling the ball onto a foot inside the Dutch circle..

Lewers, Smith and Dan Fox continued to reign down aerials as England strove to break the Dutch press. With both teams consolidating after the equaliser a quiet period ensued.

England’s half-time lead came from and excellent low corner flick from Smith in the 34th minute, following a foot on a mistrap by Marcel Balkestein.

In a final push England substituted Pinner in the 68th minute with Lewers reluctanly taking the bib. They did manage to create that one last chance, but the bronze medal slipped from their grasp.

In other games, Ireland fell 3-1 behind to the Czech Republic but salvaged a 3-3 draw, and a place in the A division, with a late John Jackson corner goal.

The Czechs and Poland are relegateed to the Championship II for 2015.