Darcy Bourne opened her senior side scoring account with two goals against Germany, as England women defeated their European rivals in a close 4-3 encounter. In the men's game, it was again England who took all three points as they took an early 1-0 lead and then somehow kept the door shut on a continuous German onslaught.
Germany vs England (women) - Sparkassen Park, Mönchengladbach (GER)
This was a closely-contested match from start to finish with the two teams matching each other at every turn. The opening salvos saw Germany pressure Miriam Pritchard's goal and both Sonja Zimmermann and Katharina Kiefer saw shots just missing the mark. While Germany had the ascendency in the opening minutes, it was England who finished the quarter stronger. The goal count, however, remained at zero.
The second quarter began in much the same fashion. Nike Lorenz sent a shot high over Pritchard's crossbar, while Hollie Pearne-Webb's penalty corner strike was deflected wide. The ever-busy Charlotte Stapenhorst created a chance for Hannah Gablac but that was also sent harmlessly wide of the post.
It was Gablac who broke the deadlock however. In the 25th minute the England defence stopped as they anticipated a whistle. Gablac however took the opportunity to neatly twist past Pritchard and slot the ball home.
This galvanised England and just a minute later Grace Balsdon fired home a trademark penalty corner shot, which flew past Noelle Rother in the German goal.
Just before half-time, a great run and pass by Jette Fleschutz found Kiefer. The subsequent foul earnt Germany a penalty stroke, which Lorenz sent home without hesitation to give her side a 2-1 lead going into the break.
England pulled level three minutes into the second half. This was the first of Bourne's double as she picked up on a cross from Alexandra Malzer and created herself the space to fire the ball home.
For Germany, Anne Schroeder was unlucky to hit the side post, and Germany began to really pile on some pressure but the sides went into the third quarter break with the scores locked at 2-2.
England took the lead for the first time in the match when Tessa Howard received a beautifully weighted pass from Grace Balsdon. For Howard this was a sweet moment as she has missed a year of international action after a knee injury.
Germany answered through a penalty corner from captain Zimmermann but Bourne's second, scored three minutes from full-time gave her side a 4-3 lead and three more points on the FIH Pro League table.
Player of the Match Darcy Bourne (ENG) said: 'I am absolutely thrilled. We had a downhill start but we came together really well. We are a side that are just coming together now.'
Germany vs England (men) - Sparkassen Park, Mönchengladbach (GER)
This match started evenly enough with both teams showing flair and creativity, particularly in the midfield, and the game seemed to promise a lot of goals.
England took the lead in the 12th minute when Nick Bandurak was the recipient of a skilful standing reverse stick pass from David Goodfield. Bandurak only had to place his stick on the floor to deflect the ball past Alexandra Stadler in the German goal.
This galvanised Germany but the attempts by the higher ranked side (Germany are ranked 5th in the world; England are ranked seventh) were spectacular but not effective. On several occasions Christopher Ruhr burst through the England defence only to see his shots fly wide, while Oliver Payne was putting in an outstanding performance in the England goal as he parried and cleared shot after shot from the German team.
After the half time break, Germany increased the pressure further and England were subjected to a barrage of aerial balls across the goal circle plus the ever-present threat of Gonzalo Peillat from the penalty corner spot.
In all, Germany had 23 circle penetrations to England's 11 and more than double the number of shots. A dispirited Christopher Ruhr said after the game: 'You cannot win games without scoring goals. It will be different in tomorrow's match.'
Player of the Match Oliver Payne (ENG) said: 'I'm super happy. This (winning Player of the Match) doesn't happen very often, so I will enjoy this one. Germany are a good side but our lads put in one hell of a shift. In the second half it felt like wave after wave of pressure.'
The FIH Hockey Pro League action continues on Thursday 5 May at Sparkassen Park, Mönchengladbach, when Germany women and men play their second matches against England. The women's match takes place at 13:00 (CET), with the men's match beginning at 15:30 (CET)
FIH Hockey Pro League – 4th May 2022
Sparkassen Park, Mönchengladbach (GER)
Result: Women’s Match 26
Germany 3, England 4
Player of the Match: Darcy Bourne (ENG)
Umpires: Sarah Wilson (SCO), Céline Martin-Schmets (BEL), Jakub Mejzlik (CZE)
Result: Men’s Match 34
Germany 0, England 1
Player of the Match: Oliver Payne (ENG)
Umpires: Jakob Mejzlik (CZE), Martin Madden (SCO), Video Umpire Sarah Wilson (SCO)
To see the current women’s FIH Hockey Pro League Standings, please click here.
To see the current men’s FIH Hockey Pro League Standings, please click here.
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