HOCKEY: Ireland 1 – 3 England EUROPEANS (women) EuroHockey Nations
Ireland 1 (1) Niamh Small (op)
England 3 (0) Anne Panter; Helen Riachardson; Hannah Macleod
Ireland took on England in their final pool match today, knowing already that no matter what they would be fighting the relegation battle at the end of the week.
Ireland were immediately put under pressure when England secured the first penalty corner in the second minute but Smithwick who was between the posts today, showed composure as she cleared the decks. Ireland countered immediately displaying their intent to attack and the resulting penalty corner saw Clarke’s shot deflected high over the bar.
Despite England enjoying the lion’s share of chances, some great keeping and clean defending kept Ireland’s chances alive and it was Ireland who took the lead in the 32nd minute when a great reverse stick by Smyth rebounded to Small who put it away for a great goal. Ireland surged and just two minutes later were unlucky not to double their lead when McCay burst through and her mis-hit reverse saw the ball bobble away from an open goal.
England found more rhythm in the second half and made sure they put away their chances. It was Macleod on her 50th cap who levelled the sides for what was a soft goal, when she deftly touched in a free pass on the 40 minute mark.
England capitalised on their momentum and just minutes later Danson drove through to the circle enabling Richardson to pop home the loose ball to go 2-1 up.
England continued to pile on the pressure including penalty corners, one of which was plucked off the line by Sargent, but Ireland dealt ably with the threats with clean defending. The English put the final nail in the coffin in the 54th minute when Captain Kate Walsh dragged to the left post for Panter to deflect in to close out the game 3-1.
Commenting after the match Coach Gene Muller said “We started better today, we haven’t been able to keep the tension in matches and today that was better. We are disappointed to concede two goals in such quick concession, but overall this was an improvement for us and our aim is to stay up in the top division.”
Captain Alex Speers was also a lot happier after this game “We can take a lot of positives from this game, we had lost our rhythm which we got back today and we will go into the final stages with confidence.”
Ireland will play Azerbaijan on Thursday at 16.00 and Italy on Saturday at 10.30
Ireland Starting XI: Pamela Smithwick (GK); Cliodhna Sargent; Emma Clarke; Alex Speers; Shirley McCay; Lisa Jacob; Niamh Small; Sinead McCarthy; Nikkie Symmons; Audrey O;Flynn; Lizzie Colvin
Reserves: Michelle Harvey; Miriam Crowley; Emma Smyth; Julia O’Halloran; Chloe Watkins
England Starting XI: Madeline Hinch (GK); Laura Unsworht; Crista Cullen; Helen Richardson; Natalie Seymour; Kate Walsh; Chloe Rogers; Alex Danson; Georgina Twigg; Sally Walton; Susannah Townsend
Reserves: Hannah Macleod; Anne Panter; Kerry Williams; Rebecca Herbert; Ashleigh Ball