Joy and despair for England

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The Independent Online

reports from Vught, Netherlands

England's Under-21 squads experienced both triumph and disaster on the opening day of the Four Nations Volvo Masters tournament here yesterday with the women taking the honours in an entertaining 8-4 win against South Africa while the men suffered a humiliating 4-0 defeat against Pakistan.

A goal down after five minutes, England never got to grips with the quick moving and close passing of the Asian champions and did not seriously pose a threat to them. Indeed, only a series of brave saves by Jon Ebsworth in the English goal denied Pakistan further goals before a crunching tackle by Keith Reesby eight minutes into the second half conceded a penalty stroke and Pakistan's second goal. Two further goals came in the closing minutes.

Jon Royce, the coach, expressed his satisfaction with his defence, even though they conceded four goals, but was bitterly disappointed with the attack: "It was all huffs and puffs," he said."But then only Mark Pearn will have played before against Pakistan with their unique style of stealing the ball."

In a game of fluctuating fortunes, England's women played some brilliant attacking hockey mixed with some atrocious defending. They were two goals up inside the opening seven minutes, the first from the captain, Lucy Newcombe, and the second brilliantly taken by Purdy Miller from a through pass from Melanie Clewlow. South Africa, however, bounced back, taking advantage of some woeful defending, to score four goals in nine minutes. Although Clewlow and Sarah Blanks scored late in the half for a 4-4 interval scoreline, the defence had looked so brittle that victory seemed far from certain.

Helen Grant, a second-half substitute, put England ahead one minute after the interval and then deflected home a free hit from Clewlow for her second. England made sure of the win when Clewlow rammed home a penalty corner shot and Newcombe collected her second

The coach, Mary Nevill, said: "I was delighted with our attacking play and our penalty corners but our defence had one of those days. They have already had a talking to."

In contrast to the high scoring opening women's game the Dutch-German encounter produced three open play goals, none of which took advantage of the "no offside" rule being played in a tournament for the first time. The Dutch won 2-1

ENGLAND (men v Pakistan): J Ebsworth (Teddington); J Evennett (Canterbury), R Todd (Havant); D Byfield (East Grinstead), H Collins (East Grinstead), K Reesby (Teddington); S Humphries ( Canterbury), B Oarrard . (Surbiton, capt), M Pearn (Reading), D Mathews (Canterbury), A Boyse (East Grinstead). Substitutes used: L Hodges (Bournville), Manpreet Kochar (Bournville), R Irvine ( Teddington).

ENGLAND (women v South Africa): N Goodhill (Loughborough Students); C Gilbert (Hightown); K Taylor (Aldridge),V Knott (Balsam Leicester), J Bimson (Olton); K Bowden (Balsam Leicester), F Greenham (Loughborough Students), L Newcombe (Hightown, capt); S Blanks (Balsam Leicester), M Clewlow (Canterbury), P Miller (Blueharts). Substitutes used: M Merrigan (Loughborough Students), H Grant (Bradford Swithenbank), D Marston-Smith (Portishead), J Fletcher (Loughborough Students).