England book semi-final spot, Scotland put on gutsy show

England book semi-final spot, Scotland put on gutsy show

24 August 2015 / 22:15
Patience was key for England women as they eventually ground down the Italian defence to book their place in the semi-finals of the EuroHockey Championships in London.

For much of the game it looked like a combination of an inspired display by Italian goalkeeper Martina Chirico and some dogged Azzurri defending would ensure it would be honours even.

But Helen Richardson-Walsh’s 25th England goal right at the end of the third quarter plus a late goal from Nicola White handed England a 2-0 win and maintained their 100 per cent start to the tournament.

England certainly had their chances to make the scoreline even greater – Alex Danson missing with a second-half penalty – although in the end the two goals were enough.

Already assured of progression to the knock-outs, they next face defending European Championships Germany in their final pool game on Wednesday.

And Susie Gilbert believes the mental boost gained from their hard-fought win over Italian can pay dividends going into the match.

“We always knew they’d give us a tough challenge and we would need to be on form to get the win,” she said.

“It took us a while to break them down but it was great that we kept to our processes, kept going and eventually it paid dividends.

“The mental challenge when a game goes like that is to not get anxious and to stick to your game plan and processes.

“We kept doing what we do and believed in the plans we had in place. We knew if we stuck to our strengths we’d get there, which we did.”

“Germany are a class outfit and we know they have skilful players so we’ll have to be on it.

"It’s exciting to be in the business end of a tournament we’re glad to be in the semi-finals but we’re not getting ahead of ourselves.”

Earlier in the day Germany beat a spirited Scotland side 2-1, to leave head coach Gordon Shepherd and the Scottish players winless from two matches.

It was still a spirited display by the Scots who fought back from conceding goals to Eileen Hoffman and Marie Mayers before half-time to put the pressure on their opponents in the closing stages.

The goal finally came five minutes from time following a ferocious drag-flick from Nikki Kidd but it was not enough to stop Germany in their tracks.

“We didn’t play for the full sixty minutes there. We were not good enough in the first half and if you’re playing a team who are ranked fifth in the world, we had to bring our ‘A’ game and we had to bring it for the full sixty minutes,” said Shepherd, who’s side now face Italy on Wednesday.

“For the second half we changed the system and it made a big difference. We were far more in the game and in the last quarter we just tweaked it again and I was happier with the second half performance.

“We’ve shown we can compete with these higher ranked teams. The players were brilliant in terms of the effort and commitment they gave but they are actually a bit down and disappointed with that.

“However, nothing changes, the big game is Wednesday against Italy and our confidence is good.”

© Sportsbeat 2015