Surbiton’s Hannah Martin and Sarah Haycroft both scored in England’s 4-1 win over China at the Sentinel Homes Hockey World League Final tournament in Auckland. The victory ensured that England finish third in their pool and will play the USA in the quarter-finals at 5 am GMT on Thursday.
China came close to taking an early lead, an angled shot going past the left post in the fifth minute. The deadlock was broken in the 12th minute, Lily Owsley’s long run and shot saved with England’s skipper Alex Danson sweeping home the rebound against the backboard.
Three minutes later, Martin found former Surbiton player Sophie Bray in the circle, Bray also finding the backboard to complete a very satisfactory first quarter.
Although England didn’t extend their lead in the second quarter, the Martin and Bray combination almost worked again in the 23rd minute, Bray forced another save two minutes later with Danson striking the right post as the Chinese defence was put under immense pressure.
China were awarded a penalty corner in the final seconds of the first half, but Surbiton’s Hollie Pearne-Webb asked for a video referral which was upheld when it was proven that a Chinese attacker had stepped on the ball, the award being reversed.
Five minutes into the second half, Martin extended the lead from a Danson cross from the right to put England in control with a 3-0 lead. China then forced two penalty corners, the first being video referred for a possible penalty stroke award, but a second penalty corner was confirmed, China failing to take advantage.
China played long passes into the circle aiming for a scoring deflection, but England’s defence coped well. At the end of the third quarter, China finally broke their tournament penalty corner conversion duck, Mengling Zhong putting the ball into an open goal after Maddie Hinch was committed having saved from Hong Li.
Trailing 3-1 with 8:05 left to play, China replaced their goalkeeper with a kicking back, but Haycroft scored with six minutes remaining to give England a comfortable 4-1 lead. China lost their video referral challenging the play from the 23 metre line from where the scoring move started.
However, China didn’t give up and had two goals disallowed, both from penalty corners. With five minutes to play, England lost their video referral challenging China’s third penalty corner award, from which Bingfeng Gu scored, but a subsequent umpire referral confirmed that Surbiton’s Emily Defroand had been obstructed by China’s Qiu Guo and the goal was ruled out.
Then in the 57th minute, China’s kicking back scored, only for the goal to be disallowed as it was deemed to have missed the backboard.
Surbiton’s Giselle Ansley, Martin and Pearne-Webb were in England’s starting line-up, whilst Defroand and Haycroft both came on in the sixth minute.
England will play the USA in their quarter final with Germany facing Korea; hosts New Zealand taking on Argentina and the Netherlands playing China in the other knockout ties.
More information about the tournament including the schedule (New Zealand is 13 hours ahead of GMT) can be found on the event page at the FIH website here
The England Hockey match report can be found here
The matches are being shown live on BT Sport. The various schedules can be found here All four quarter-finals are currently due to be shown on BT Sport 2.