Monday, August 15, 2022

England Women let fly to set up Argentina clash at Hockey World Cup

England 5 (Ansley 2, Howard, Martin, Rayer) Korea O

Two days after they were stuck at Schiphol’s chaotic security lines, Giselle Ansley sent England flying into the Women’s World Cup quarter-finals to set up a delicious showdown with Argentina on Wednesday. On the day that BT Sport mistakenly labelled the sport as lacrosse in its TV guide, England were also too good in this cross-over clash.

Ansley netted two sublime penalty corner flicks, while Tess Howard was rewarded for her circle menace in this competition with a wonderful turn and strike. Ansley’s choice words – caught on TV at the end of third quarter – then propelled England to two further strikes late on. It was just the tonic after they had laboured in the Terrassa humidity. 

A 5-0 victory, a day off and then head’s down for the Las Leonas test, which set pulses racing back to 2018 and England men’s triumph at the same World Cup last eight four years ago. 

In notching their biggest win since a 6-0 triumph over India at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, England women also continue to make their mark across two countries. A second game without conceding, leaving Sabbie Heesh to don the pads for Maddie Hinch, who again was largely a bystander. 

England had several high press chances as this cross-over pushed back in front of a sparse crowd at the Olympic Stadium. Korea’s goalkeeper, Lee Jin Min, had little time to take it all in.

Darcy Bourne couldn’t find the angle with back to goal to force a shot past Lee, while she had to save from Ellie Rayer’s centrally-hit forehand which came off her pads.

The second quarter then saw David Ralph ask for a higher press. Before we could see his request take effect, Ansley had gone airborne herself as England made early PC inroads. The PCA set up for Ansley at the top, who carved a world-class flick high into the net, handing the pint-sized Lee or any lurking defender no chance. It was Ansley at her best.

England briefly saw possession go against them as Korea looked for a quick riposte but Howard soon changed that. The East Grinstead forward has been a constant menace in opposition circles this tournament, and without much luck. On the baseline, she backed away to find space, kept the ball tight, pirouetted and shot low past Lee. 

Howard nearly had a second later in the quarter, finding a diving deflection but on to Lee’s stick. However, a video review fell England’s way, which set up another Ansley rocket.

With her stick still in sizzling tapas mode, she changed angles and flicked across goal, past Lee to the left and once more high into the roof of the net. Three goals in nine minutes.

Korea opted for a change of goalkeeper for the second half, the barrage continuing for Kim Eunji as Balsdon struck straight to her body from England’s third PC.

Laura Unsworth celebrated her 300th international cap PIC: Worldsportpics

Whether it was the heat or the scoreline, England’s intensity began to wane as the third quarter took shape. Their defence once again held firm – no PCs were given away – although Hinch was tested as Korea began to have their best spell of the game.

Ansley ran the riot act in the England huddle at the break, Ralph also chipping in with what he perceived as a lacklustre third quarter. 

A needless yellow – England’s second of the game – for Lily Owsley in the final quarter didn’t help matters. But England soon found the openings. Rayer laid on for Hannah Martin for England’s fourth, before a direct run from Fiona Crackles, who led the way in the final quarter, found Rayer unmarked.

There were cheers as Ralph indicated a day off for England at the final hooter, while a player tunnel ensued for Laura Unsworth, who celebrated her milestone 300th international in style. What a player.

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