Birmingham — England women racked up their biggest Commonwealth Games victory across both genders after decamping in Ghana’s final third all afternoon and facing 10 behind the ball, but biding their time and scoring 12 goals on Saturday.
Eight players found the scoresheet while there were hat-tricks for Grace Balsdon and Hannah Martin. Ghana, perhaps feeling the effects of back-to-back matches coupled with the gulf in class, failed to make inroads into the English circle and Sabbie Heesh, who started and played the full 60, didn’t touch the ball once.
“The key is patience and to win with a scoreline like that over 60 minutes, not 15 minutes,” said Lily Owsley, one of four former Birmingham students to hit the net.
“You want to go out there and break those floodgates straight away, but it doesn’t work like that. They have a physical side and you have to show them respect and they make it ugly.
“You don’t want to stay too close, you want to stay out of contests and you have to wait the course. It’s the highest scoring match I’ve been involved in and it feels very good to be part of that.”
A flick of the stick from Izzy Petter and clattering the post inside the third minute signalled the intent before Balson set the ball rolling in the 10th minute as they cruised past the previous record, a 10-0 mauling of Barbados at the 2006 Games.
Amidst the Balsdon flicks and Martin show, there were goals from Giselle Ansley (PC), Holly Hunt, a thunderous hit from Tess Howard, Owsley, Anna Toman and, to top it off, a rare goal from Laura Unsworth, who celebrated like it was her first. The midlander’s effort was the pick of the lot and was last seen heading towards Birmingham New Street.
It will be a clean slate against Wales, says Owsley. “We are going to have to keep up the intensity and inject our own tempo and pace,” the Bristolian added. “It’s easy to get into the rhythm of a slow game and we had to bring it ourselves.
“We will draw a line under that and treat Canada with equal respect.”
The Canadians looked in fine fettle for their 4-0 win over Wales on the opening day. As top seeds in their Pool, England will look to rubber-stamp a semi-final place and see off the worries of last-game group stage fears.
“It was incredible to run out, everyone had goosebumps,” said captain Hollie Pearne-Webb, an onlooker for most of the match. “We were eager to get going after watching the atmosphere yesterday.
“I’m just really proud of everyone because in the past games like this have been very difficult, and I think today we stuck to our game plan.”