England Women beat Argentina 5-2 to finish third in the Hockey World League Semi-Final tournament in Johannesburg on Sunday morning and avenge their 5-1 defeat at Lee Valley last month.
England also bounced back after their disappointing shootout defeat to the USA, Surbiton’s Giselle Ansley scoring twice in the fourth quarter to seal the morale boosting victory.
With the teams expecting to meet in the final with England ranked second and Argentina third in the world, a battle for bronze was not quite what was expected but in a pulsating and attack oriented match, Grace Balsdon forced a glove save from Argentina goalkeeper Belen Succi in the seventh minute from England’s first penalty corner.
In the 12th minute, England took the lead, former Surbiton player, Sophie Bray converting from close range after the ball bounced kindly off an Argentinian defender’s stick in front of goal.
Las Leonas equalised in the 20th minute, Lucina von der Heyde’s shot from the top of the circle eluding England’s Maddie Hinch.
Three minutes before half time, England scored with an excellent team goal, Susannah Townsend getting the finishing touch as the Argentinian defence were unable to cope with England’s attack from deep within their own half.
England should have held a 2-1 lead at half time, but shortly before the break, Argentina scored from their third penalty corner. Owsley intercepted the injection but lost possession once beyond the circle, Delfina Merino deflecting the ball past Hinch to leave the destination of the bronze medals in doubt at the halfway mark.
England took the lead for the third time five minutes into the second half. After Succi parried the ball, the ball found its way to Surbiton’s Jo Hunter who crossed the ball from the right for Laura Unsworth to sweep against the backboard.
The umpires asked for a video referral to check if the ball had crossed the backline between Succi and Hunter, but the ball stayed in play and the goal was confirmed.
England still led 3-2 at the end for the first quarter. In the 48th minute, England forced their second penalty corner of the match and this time Ansley’s drag flick ended up in the bottom left corner to leave Argentina trailing 4-2.
Two minutes later, with Hunter in the sin-bin for the fourth time in the tournament, Owsley received the ball from Hinch and ran through the Argentinian defence before being brought down by Succi in the circle. Argentina lost their video referral after they challenged the subsequent penalty stroke award.
Ansley stepped up and sent the ball into the far right corner to all but clinch the bronze medals for England.
Argentina forced four penalty corners in the last four minutes, the penultimate award leading to England losing their video referral, but England, in spite of making fewer circle penetrations and having fewer shots on target, came away with the 5-2 win.
Ansley; Sarah Haycroft, who had a third minute shot; Emily Defroand and Hollie Webb, who had another excellent game in defence were all in England’s starting line-up.
Hunter and Hannah Martin both came on as fifth minute substitutes.
David Ralph, standing in for Danny Kerry who became unwell during the tournament said, “We are delighted with the result today and what pleases us most is our performance. To pick ourselves up from the semi-final result and play like that shows the character within this group. Argentina are a good team and we knew it was going to be tough, so it’s a pleasing result for us.”
More information about the tournament can be found at the FIH website here