EuroHockey Championships: England 4 Ireland 1
- Credit: Frank Uijlenbroek
Women start title defence with win
England’s began the defence of their EuroHockey Championships title with a convincing 4-1 win over Ireland.
Laura Unsworth, Ellie Watton, Sophie Bray and Alex Danson were all on target as the defending champions grabbed all three points in their Pool B opener.
The victory capped off a special day for England who were also celebrating the one year anniversary of Great Britain’s Olympic Gold medal win at Rio 2016 as well as the launch of the public ticket ballot for the Hockey Women’s World Cup being held in London next summer.
Defender Giselle Ansley said: “It was a good, tough and well-fought game. It’s a good start to our tournament but now we need to refocus ready for tomorrow’s game against Germany.”
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Assistant Coach David Ralph, leading the team in the absence of Danny Kerry, added: “We are delighted to win the first game of the tournament and pleased with how we performed against a tough opponent in Ireland.
“Now the process is to look forward to the challenge of the game against Germany.”
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From the off England were straight into the Ireland half, and this early intent was rewarded in the fifth minute, Susannah Townsend released Unsworth into the area and her fierce cross was deflected in off an Irish stick to give them the lead.
The second quarter saw England continue to dominate and two minutes after the restart they went close to making it 2-0.
Danson stole the ball outside the area and turned quickly before releasing a rasping shot which was well saved by Grace O’Flanagan and the score remained 1-0 at half-time.
Ireland almost levelled straight from the restart in the third quarter when captain Kathryn Mullan found space in the England circle but she sliced wide her strike from a tight angle.
They were soon made to pay for this miss, as from a penalty corner Ellie Rayer dragged to the left hand post where Watton was on hand to deflect high into the net on the reverse.
Ireland responded immediately, though, with England down to 10 players as Tice scored from a penalty corner to get the them back into the game.
However, the Irish joy was shortlived as Bray grabbed England’s third with a cool finish just before the final break.
The final 15 minutes saw England at their attacking best creating numerous chances and a winning a flurry of penalty corners.
Shortly before the final whistle England made it four as Danson reacted quickest in the circle, collecting the ball and flicking calmly over the keeper.
Up next for England are Germany in Pool B, tomorrow at 4.45pm UK time, live on BT Sport.
England: Maddie Hinch, Anna Toman, Hollie Webb, Laura Unsworth, Giselle Ansley, Shona McCallin, Susannah Townsend, Lily Owsley, Hannah Martin, Alex Danson (C), Sophie Bray, Jo Hunter, Ellie Watton, Emily Defroand, Ellie Rayer, Sarah Haycroft, Zoe Shipperley. Unused sub: Amy Tennant.