Surbiton’s Giselle Ansley and Hannah Martin were both on target as England Women beat India 4-1 on Tuesday afternoon, not only to reach the last four in the Hockey World League Semi-Final tournament in Johannesburg, but also to secure their place in the Final tournament in Auckland later this year.
England will face the United States in Thursday’s semi-final (6 pm BST) after an impressive win over a team ranked ten places below them in the world. The win came in spite of Lily Owsley having to miss the game through illness and with David Ralph replacing Danny Kerry as coach after Kerry was taken ill. He will miss the remainder of the tournament.
England (WR 2) put early pressure on India (WR 12) forcing three successive penalty corners in the fifth minute. Indiscipline led to India having to defend the third corner without the services of two defenders who had broken from the line early.
Susannah Townsend’s shot was illegally blocked on the line, resulting in the award of a sixth minute penalty stroke. Indian goalkeeper, Savita hardly moved as Ansley coolly slotted the ball to her left to give England the lead.
Surbiton’s Jo Hunter and Sarah Haycroft ran at the Indian defence as England tried to build on their early advantage, the second goal coming in the 13th minute, Townsend crossing from the left for captain, Alex Danson to blast the ball against the backboard.
The second quarter was quieter, but India had two chances to pull a goal back from penalty corner routines. Ritu Rani tried to find Anupa Bala at the right post on both occasions. The first time, the ball evaded Bala, but on the second occasion, the routine worked, only for Bala to be denied by the right post.
Ansley had had an injury scare when Preeti Dubey struck her hand, wildly swinging with her stick, but Ansley was able to carry on without treatment.
England’s lead was extended in the third quarter, Martin’s fantastic run from the right leading to Townsend’s clinical finish in the 42nd minute.
Surbiton’s Emily Defroand posed an attacking threat in the early minutes of the fourth quarter, but after Danson could only lift the ball over the crossbar from short range, India’s penalty corner routine earned them a consolation goal three minutes from time thanks to Gurjit Kaur.
Trailing 3-1, India elected to play with a kicking back, with Surbiton’s Hollie Webb helping to run the clock down before with just under a minute remaining, Martin scored England’s fourth goal with a strike from the left of the circle.
India used their video referral to challenge whether Danson, in setting up the goal had committed a stick block, but India lost their referral and England completed a comfortable 4-1 victory.
Ansley, Defroand, Haycroft and Hollie Webb, who once more worked hard in defence, were all in the England starting line-up with Hunter and Martin both coming on as sixth minute substitutes.
The United States beat Japan 1-0 to reach the semi-finals, whilst Argentina overcame a brave Irish squad, who just came up short, going down 2-1. Argentina will meet Germany in the other semi-final, Die Danas having eliminated the hosts from the tournament with a 1-0 win.
More information about the tournament can be found at the FIH website here