England finished in the Hague with the least-celebrated victory in the history of hockey World Cups having pipped Belgium for the 11th place with a shoot-out win.
With the team at a low-ebb anyway, Stephaine de Groof’s slapped corner goal for Belgium, making the score 1-1 after the clock had run out, could have sunk England even lower. But they showed commendable nerve to go on to win, inspired by another excellent shootout from Maddie Hinch.
The denouement came when Hinch forced Liesolotte van Lindt to shoot wide, denying Belgium for the fourth time. Meanwhile finishes from Sally Walton,and Susie Gilbert were enough to produce a win that had an air of ‘glad that is over’ rather than just glad.
England’s first-half goal came from some enterprise by Gilbert to get around the defence at the top of the circle to fire a cross in from the right. Nicola White got a lift on the ball and Susie Bray reacted well at the far post to score in the 16th minute.
The Commonwealth Games now beckon. “There will be changes in our approach to the team,” said coach Jason Lee who will take his side to watch the USA play their semi-final today, a big turnaround from their last-place finish at the Olympic Games less than two years ago.
“There is a lesson to be learnt there,” he said.
Ashleigh Ball was stretchered from the field in the second half with what looked like a serious leg injury.