Hollie Webb’s first international goal was not enough to give England a win over old foes Australia as Jodie Schulz’s penalty corner ten minutes from time ensured a share of the spoils.
A good crowd were treated to a tense, see-saw encounter which could have gone either way, but for some excellent goalkeeping from Maddie Hinch and Rachael Lynch.
Australia had the first good opening as Georgia Nanscawen popped up at the far post, only to be denied by some good goalkeeping from Hinch.
Australia looked bright, quick and energetic in the opening quarter of an hour and were putting England under a lot of pressure. England’s brightest moment in that period came when Susie Gilbert found a way past two challenges to feed Laura Unsworth on the right. Her cross caused panic in the defence and England won a penalty corner, however they were unable to convert and the chance was gone.
On 25 minutes, England managed to make the break through. Some superb skills from 18-year-old Lily Owsley on the left allowed the England No26 to make her way into the D where she won a penalty corner. Kate Walsh’s initial shot was charged down, but the ball fell to Webb who didn’t hesitate and lashed the ball home giving Lynch no chance.
Australia hit back and Nanscawen, who was a constant danger went close with a deflection after a good cross from Georgie Parker.
After the break Hannah MacLeod found herself clear in the D, she was forced wide by Lynch but still got a shot away as she approached the baseline. Somehow, Lynch got back and made an incredible stick save to push the ball away from danger from above her head.
Australia began to re-assert some control as an attacking force, but England, in particular Samantha Quek and Giselle Ansley defended superbly to keep the Hockeyroos at bay.
With ten minutes left, Australia won another penalty corner. Jodie Schulz produced a superb drag flick to beat Hinch to her left.
There was still time for high drama as Australia won a penalty corner via a video referral. Schulz stepped up again but opted for the other corner this time, however there was a great roar from the crowd as Hinch plunged to her right and made a fine save to ensure the scores stayed level.
A draw was probably a fair reflection Australia put England under great pressure, but some excellent defending limited the number of chances they could create. On the occasions they did threaten, Maddie Hinch continued her excellent form from yesterday with a string of fine saves.
Adam Commens, Australia coach was relatively happy with the result: “It was a hard fought game as you’d expect against England. They defended doggedly and got lots of players behind the ball. It’s good for us to learn how to play against teams who set up that way, so i’m pretty happy with the lessons my team will learn from today.”
Jason Lee, Commens’ opposite number was philosophical: “No one wants to draw Argentina so a draw probably suits us both. We are a new team without the training and conditioning required for international hockey behind us, so today we struggled physically. I think that’s why we defended so deep. It’s not how i want us to play, but it was pragmatic in today’s game. In a year’s time, i expect we will play very differently.”
Both sides have a rest day tomorrow, before their final pool games on Tuesday.
To my untrained eyes, there was quite a bit of nifty skills on display by some of the England girls today.
Spot on. Some good skills on show from both sides. It was a tense, but very entertaining game.