England will face New Zealand in Hockey semi-finals

Goalkeeper George Pinner.

Goalkeeper George Pinner. FFU PRESS AGENCY COPYRIGHT FRANK UIJLENBROEK - Credit: ffu.nl/Frank Uijlenbroek

Goalkeeper George Pinner says England do not fear anyone after Bobby Crutchley’s young side moved into the semi-finals of the FIH HERO Hockey World League on Wednesday.

Tom Carson’s goal gave Pool A winners England a 1-0 victory over Pool B basement boys Belgium, in New Delhi, and set up a last-four showdown with New Zealand on Friday, after the Black Sticks defeated Argentina 4-3 in a shoot-out.

Pinner won the Man of the Match award, thanks to a series of fine saves, in a game that also featured fellow ex-Ipswich School pupil and current Suffolk Sports Personality of the Year, Harry Martin as a substitute.

With the World Cup and Commonwealth Games scheduled for May and July respectively, the omens are looking good for England, who lost to Belgium in the EuroHockey semi-finals, 3-0, last summer.

“We really don’t fear anyone now. We are showing we can grind out results and Tom Carson scored an excellent individual goal to win the game,” said Pinner, whose team have already defeated New Zealand 5-1 in Pool A

“I would not say our gameplan was a case of damage limitation when we played Belgium last summer but we took the game to them more yesterday.”

The result was another step in the right direction for this young England team, following last summer’s remit to rebuild in the wake of Great Britain’s (featuring several England players) fourth-place finish in the 2012 Olympics.

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“This tournament was more about our development as a team but we are delighted to be in the semi-finals and are keen to take away a medal,” he said.

“We are not going to get carried away though and will come away having learned from the tournament and will hopefully be better for it at the World Cup and Commonwealth Games.

“It was nice to play a part in the win, but the main thing is that we are in the semi-finals.”

England went into the game buoyed by victories against India (2-0), Germany (2-1) and New Zealand (5-1), while Belgium had drawn with The Netherlands (2-2) and lost 3-2 to Australia and Argentina.

“We were always expecting a tough game against Belgium and we are playing in a tournament featuring six of the top seven teams in the world,” added Pinner.

“Belgium reached the Euro finals last summer and are one of Europe’s in-form teams right now.”

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