England Women’s head coach Danny Kerry accepted his team struggled to cope with the expectation against Scotland in their opening EuroHockey Championships match, despite securing a 2-1 victory.
Kerry and his side were returning to the scene of their London 2012 bronze medal success but the contest at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre ended up being a game of attrition.
Scotland took the lead early on through Kareena Marshall but Kate Richardson-Walsh and Helen Richardson-Walsh handed England an opening win against their neighbours.
“The challenge is for the players to expect and cope with expectation,” Kerry said.
“If we want to be up there with the best, we have to learn to cope with pressure. We looked really sluggish, although there were brief periods of sparkle. I think the players were tense, largely because of the scoreline and we were way off our best.”
Scotland, who had Vikki Bunce celebrating her 200th cap, were on top early on and that pressure was rewarded when Marshall deflected Sarah Robertson’s shot into the goal following the game’s first penalty corner.
England couldn’t make the most of their initial penalty corner but when the second came around, Kate Richardson-Walsh clinically fired home.
England started to take control, with Sophie Bray and Susannah Townsend impressing, and the hosts took the lead when Lily Owsley’s used her speed to break through the defence and Helen Richardson-Walsh left Amy Gibson stranded to make it 2-1.
Scotland had chances before the break but the second half was an even affair, in which both teams struggled to capitalise on their openings.
“Obviously disappointed with the result but not with the performance”, said Scotland Senior Women Head Coach Gordon Shepherd.
“I can’t fault the girls’ commitment to try and win that game and sometimes you have to stand back and take reflection on how close we came to beating a team that has qualified for the Olympics and just won seven out of seven in World League 3.
"They are the in-form team in the world. It is a credit to every single player in the squad that we’re able to compete with teams like this.”
© Sportsbeat 2015