England were unhospitable hosts on the first day of the Investec London Cup with their women’s hockey side hitting eight unanswered goals past Wales and the men hitting six against a scoreless Scotland.
In other games, South Africa women defeated Scotland 2-0 and Ireland men defeated South Africa 4-2.
England’s 8-0 win over Wales is their best result in 60 years against the side they face on the opening day of the Commonwealth Games hockey tournament (July 24). The men’s 6-0 win over Scotland is their best win since 1956.
England women opened the scoring against Wales through Alex Danson who found the target with a tap-in after pressure from Nicola White and Susannah Townsend. Less than ten minutes later England increased their lead as Lily Owsley ran the ball along the baseline to find Sophie Bray waiting at the goal for an easy tap in to make it 2-0 inside 10 minutes.
After 25 minutes in Townsend capitalised on her space in the circle to score another for England and shortly after a deflection by Laura Unsworth put the score at 4-0 to England going into the break.
It took eight minutes for England to add to their tally in the second half, as Bray fired in a ball which found Ellie Watton who deflected in for 5-0. A minute later it was 6-0 as a penalty corner effort from captain Kate Richardson-Walsh’s bounced over the Welsh keeper and into the goal.
Danson scored her second with ten minutes left on the clock; the Reading forward picked up an aerial and drove into the circle finishing off with a trademark reverse-stick shot to the keeper’s right. England’s last came as Giselle Ansley’s accurate drag-flick was sent low and to the keeper’s left to round off an 8-0 victory.
England captain Kate Richardson-Walsh said: “I don’t remember the last time we scored eight goals. We’re really pleased – it’s been a tough few weeks so we were keen to show we have fight and we’ve done that.”
In the first women’s game, South Africa required just 15 minutes to break the deadlock against Scotland, with Kathleen Taylor scoring the first ever international goal at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre. Taylor captitalised on a rebound from teammate Lilian Du Plessis’ attempt on goal with a great volley into the back of the net. Taylor scored her second of the day on 65 minutes rounding off South Africa’s opening game with a 2-0 victory.
England’s men’s first game of the Investec London Cup started explosively – a penalty corner in the second minute allowed East Grinstead’s Ashley Jackson to score with his trademark drag flick and make it 1-0.
England doubled their lead, this time through Henry Weir who tapped the ball in to the back of the net after a goal-line scramble.
A run along the baseline by Phil Roper set up England’s third goal which was rifled home by Mark Gleghorne, then England scored a team effort finished off by Reading’s Simon Mantell with ten to go to complete the first-half scoring.
England continued to press the Scottish defence early in the second half, but it wasn’t until the 60th minute that another goal was scored. Roper, with a rifling a shot past Scotland’s goalkeeper Gavin Sommerville, made it 5-0. With just three minutes to go Jackson added his second of the game with another penalty corner, this time a low effort past Sommerville.
England captain Barry Middleton said after the game; “We’ve been looking at trying to score goals, so it was nice to get a few today. Some were scrappy goals, obviously they’re not great to watch but they’re the goals we’re looking to score because they win tournaments.”
The first of the men’s matches in the Investec London Cup saw Ireland face South Africa in warm sunshine at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre. It was Ireland who broke the deadlock when Shane O’Donoghue scored from a penalty corner, his low drag-flick sneaking beneath Erasmus Pieterse in the South Africa goal. Taine Paton equalised from an opportunist strike, but Michael Darling restored the Ireland lead going into half time.
Two Alan Sothern goals early in the second half gave Scotland a dominant 4-1 lead. When Conor Harte received a yellow card in the 47th minute, Lance Louw scored from the resulting penalty corner to keep South Africa in with a chance, but it wasn’t enough as the final score remained at 4-2 to Scotland.
Double goal-scorer Alan Sothern commented after the match: “The boys worked very hard today. We’re feeling strong and looking forward to our next couple of games – hopefully we’ll finish well at the weekend.”