England’s George Pinner targets EuroHockey semi-finals

George Pinner

George Pinner - Credit: Archant

England goalkeeper George Pinner is targeting a semi-final showdown against hosts Belgium with his team on the verge of the EuroHockey final four.

The former Ipswich School pupil, pictured, has been an ever-present so far as England defeated Poland 5-2 at the weekend, before losing 2-1 to the Netherlands on Monday.

A point against Ireland today (10.30am GMT push-back) will be sufficient to see Bobby Crutchley’s team through to the semi-final as group runners-up, by virtue of goal difference, and would set up a tie with Belgium who are poised to win their side of the draw.

Having already played in a vociferous atmosphere against the Dutch, Pinner is relishing the prospect of playing in front of another packed crowd once again.

“Such is their rivalry with the Dutch, a lot of the Belgium fans stayed behind to watch our game and supported us,” said Pinner, whose team-mate, another former Ipswich School pupil, Harry Martin, is suffering with a hamstring injury.

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“It was a fantastic atmosphere and that is motivation enough for us to want to progress and set up a semi-final game with the hosts.

“It was a superb crowd for the game, and they are the type of occasions that, as a player, you want to be involved in.”

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He added: “You don’t get opposition fans shouting hatred towards the other team, but you do get banter behind your goal with people telling how important it is for you to save the next shot.

“I enjoy that type of thing though and the more they shout and try and wind me up, the more I want to have the last laugh.”

Ireland’s men beat Poland 4-2 on Monday and, unlike England, have to win the game.

“A defeat against the Netherlands was as good as a draw as we would have still been required to win our last game,” said Pinner.

“We don’t want to go into that game with the mentality that a point will be enough though and we will be going out for three points.”

Pinner is set to start against Ireland today, but Martin’s participation is less clear-cut.

“Harry picked up the injury in our last warm-up game,” said Pinner. “He was rested for the first game would could not run at full speed against the Netherlands.

“He is receiving some amazing treatment and it would be good to have him back at some stage as he is a player that can make things happen.”

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