England Men Hit Spain for Six, While Netherlands Start Life Without Annan
The Estadio Betero in Valencia provided the ideal setting for two FIH Hockey Pro League matches featuring host nation Spain. They faced FIH Hockey Pro League newcomers England men and the mighty Netherlands women in the first of two matches in the respective men’s and women’s leagues to be hosted in the Spanish city.
Valencia proved a productive hunting ground for the visiting teams, as England’s men outperformed their Spanish opponents with pace and ingenuity, while the Netherlands women wore down a spirited Spanish team to win 1-0. The three points enabled the Dutch women, currently led by Jami Mülders, to reclaim first place in the FIH Hockey Pro League table.
England’s men opened their inaugural season in the FIH Hockey Pro League with a 6-1 victory over host nation Spain.
The match’s MVP David Condon praised his team’s ‘aggressive and open style of play’ throughout the majority of this encounter.
On paper, there are two squads that are extremely similar. In nine prior meetings, each team won three times and drew three times. This was a totally different contest, with England demonstrating a clinical finish that Max Caldas’s team lacked.
The first quarter was goalless as the two teams battled it out, then Duncan Scott, one of six England debutants, opened the score with a well-taken penalty corner.
David Condon boosted the lead late in the quarter, and two goals in the third quarter from captain Zach Wallace and James Oats basically put the game out of reach of Spain.
Condon added a fifth, and a brilliant interplay between Wallace and the seasoned Phil Roper set up David Goodchild for a goal.
Spain’s Ignacio Rodriguez scored a consolation goal, but the Red Sticks were unable to replicate any of their previous Pro League comebacks.
After the game, David Condon stated: ‘We haven’t been together as a group for that long, but in some ways that has allowed us to play freely. We set out to play aggressive hockey, which we accomplished.’
The women’s match between Spain and the Netherlands was decided by a single goal from the reliable Frederique Matla.
While Anne Veenendaal in the Dutch goal did not have to make a save, the reigning FIH Hockey Pro League, World Cup, and Olympic winners did not get off easy.
Spain kept the Dutch at bay for lengthy swaths of the game thanks to a combination of a hard-working defense and a well-structured midfield. Additionally, this was a Netherlands team that appeared to be out of sync for the majority of the encounter.
Both teams played a number of inexperienced players, and Player of the Match Maria Verschoor cited the fact that the players were still getting to know one another as an explanation for the breakdown of numerous attacking plays that would normally finish in a Dutch bombardment on the opposition’s goal.
Matla demonstrated her attacking skills with the game-winning goal in the third quarter. Matla struck the ball goalwards after it bounced clear. Clara Ycart, who had a great defensive game, was unlucky to turn it past Melanie Garcia, the Spanish goalkeeper.
After the game, Player of the Match Maria Verschoor, who had performed a sensible and subtle position in the Dutch midfield, stated: ‘I am overjoyed to be on the pitch with the team. We needed to acclimate to one another. It was an excellent starting point.