Surbiton’s Jo Hunter and Giselle Ansley both scored as England beat old rivals, Scotland 2-0 in their last pool game at the Rabo EuroHockey Championships in Amsterdam on Tuesday.
Scotland had chances of reaching the last four with a victory, but despite a spirited defensive performance and yet another excellent display by former Surbiton goalkeeper, Amy Gibson, they now have to battle to keep their place in the top flight.
Scotland forced an early save from England goalkeeper, Maddie HInch, but England’s Lily Owsley dispossessed Surbiton’s Robyn Collins, only for the attacking move to breakdown.
Although England, as against Germany, had a lot of possession, once more they struggled to score even with both Hunter and Surbiton’s Hannah Martin attacking down the right wing, Surbiton’s Emily Defroand a threatening presence in the Scottish circle and Sarah Haycroft also battling against the Scottish defence.
Surbiton’s Hollie Webb was composed as usual in defence whilst trying to help set up attacks to outwit the Scottish defenders.
England suffered a setback in the last minute of the first half when they lost their video referral checking for a non-existent stick tackle, Scotland having previously used their referral wisely when challenging a penalty corner award.
The game came to life five minutes into the second half, moments after Scotland’s Sarah Jamieson was shown a green card. With Jamieson in the sin-bin, Anna Toman sent a long penetrating pass into the circle where Hunter timed a dive perfectly to deflect the ball past Gibson and into the top right corner of the goal, with Ellie Watton in close proximity.
The goal ended a barren run of 100 minutes without a goal since Alex Danson had converted a penalty corner to score England’s fourth goal against Ireland.
Former Surbiton player, Sophie Bray went close and Gibson was forced to make a double save to frustrate Bray and Martin as England stepped up the pressure.
At the end of the third quarter, captain Danson inexpicably missed the target from short range as England sought to clinch the win.
Scotland needed two goals to make the semi-finals and knock out the reigning champions, but their attempts to throw everything at England were frustrated as Sarah Robertson and Nikki Lloyd were both sent to the naughty step in the last five minutes.
England also suffered with Defroand and Rayer seeing green and Laura Unsworth shown a notional yellow card in the penultimate minute of the match.
Amongst all the excitement, England’s second goal came courtesy of Ansley, who celebrated her 100th combined cap with a low drag-flick penalty corner conversion in the 59th minute.
With 75 seconds to play, Scotland elected to throw the dice one last time and replace Gibson with a kicking back, but England held out easily and will now play the hosts, the Netherlands in Thursday’s semi-final at 7 pm BST.
Germany will play Belgium in the first semi-final at 4 pm BST.
Scotland will join Ireland, Spain and the Czech Republic in Pool C from which the bottom two teams will be relegated. Scotland and Ireland will carry forward one point from their goalless draw and Spain carry forward three points from their 7-1 win over the Czech Republic.
Scotland play Spain on Thursday at 1.45 pm and then meet the Czech Republic at 1.30 pm on Saturday.
Martin, Ansley and Webb were all in the England starting line-up, with Defroand coming on as a sixth minute substitute to be followed by Hunter a minute later and Haycroft two minutes later.
Collins was in the Scottish starting line-up. Former Surbiton player, Kate Holmes was a sixth minute Scottish substitute.
More information about the tournament can be found in the Match Centre section of the FIH website here
The England Hockey match report can be found here
The Scottish Hockey match report can be found here