EuroHockey 2013: England men come through Poland test

By Ollie WilliamsBBC Olympic sports reporter in Boom, Belgium
Eurohockey 2013 highlights: England 5-2 Poland

England's men beat Poland 5-2 in their opening game at hockey's European Championships in Belgium.

David Condon's first two goals for his country came after Tomasz Gorny cancelled out Adam Dixon's strike.

Michal Nowakowski converted a penalty corner with 15 minutes left but late goals from Alastair Brogdon and Tom Carson made the score look comfortable.

But England's women were beaten 2-1 by Germany in a disjointed performance, while Scotland lost 2-1 to Spain.

England women now need a win against Scotland in their final group game, on Tuesday, to be sure of qualifying for the semi-finals.

Earlier on Sunday, the men looked as though they might pay for squandering first-half chances against a side ranked 20th in the world.

England - ranked fourth - will face a sterner test from Olympic silver medallists the Netherlands on Monday.

The Dutch demolished Team GB 9-2 at the semi-final stage of London 2012, a match which involved several members of this year's England squad.

"We didn't start as well as we would have liked but we're happy enough," captain Barry Middleton, who also skippered GB's Olympic team, told BBC Sport.

"There's nothing to change massively [from the Poland game]. It's just getting the mental side of doing things a little quicker, passing to each other a little bit more.

"That'll come with playing against the Dutch - we know we have to be there against them and if we aren't, we're in trouble."

Scotland's women have now lost both of their matches at this tournament by narrow margins, going down 2-1 to Spain following their opening 1-0 defeat by Germany.

Nikki Kidd scored Scotland's consolation but a Spanish goal within 20 seconds of the start destroyed Scotland's game plan.

"Today was the game we were really targeting, we saw this as a key match for us. To say we're all pretty gutted with that result would not be an understatement," said Scotland's Emily Maguire.

Scotland are now almost certain to progress to the relegation pool, where they will play off against three other teams for survival in Europe's top flight, having only just been promoted.

EuroHockey 2013: Germany 2-1 England highlights

"This is where we belong," said Maguire. "It's really frustrating because as everyone will have seen, we play good hockey.

"We definitely belong here and it means the world to me to stay here."

Scotland's remaining group game is against England and could prove vital to the latter's hopes of winning a European medal.

England must win to be sure of reaching the semi-finals after losing to Germany, a game marked by a disallowed Ashleigh Ball goal, ruled out after video referral as she had struck the ball with the back of her stick.

Giselle Ansley had equalised for England on the stroke of half-time after Marie Maevers' early goal, but Maevers struck again with neat finish past oncoming England goalkeeper Maddie Hinch.

"Games against Germany are always close. We've not lost to them for quite a while so they'll be very pleased with that win," England's Helen Richardson told BBC Sport.

"As a team we did all right, we were inconsistent at times but that's bound to happen with the young squad that we've got. We're growing all the time.

"Scotland have been training incredibly hard - they've got the Commonwealth Games at home next year and they've put a lot of resources into that, trying to build a strong foundation. We're going to have to be on top of our game to beat them."

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