Goals from Hannah Macleod and Samantha Quek gave England a place in the semi-final of this competition but it was far from a comfortable afternoon for Jason Lee’s side. Scotland’s last win over England came in 1993 however with a bit more composure in front of goal, they could easily have broken that sequence in Belgium today.
England started the brighter of the two sides. Lily Owsley continued to catch the eye with her pace and excellent stick skills proving a constant thorn in the side of the Scottish defence.
Laura Unsworth, earning her 100th cap today had a great chance to score as she latched onto Alex Danson’s cross but was unable to beat Amy Gibson who kicked the ball to safety.
Scotland forced a number of penalty corners but Catriona Ralph was unable to beat Maddie Hinch who spread herself well to block three times. At the other end Kate Walsh thought she’d beaten the goalkeeper to make it 1-0 but her penalty corner was swatted away by Kareena Marshall on the line. Owsley continued to cause the defenders problems, a fine run from the left hand side took her away from three players but Gibson was out well to block the teenager’s shot.
Hinch was called into action again, this time diving high to her right to push away a Nikki Kidd penalty corner, before Gibson was alert to see off a shot from Susie Gilbert at the other end.
With a minute to go before the break England managed to get their noses in front. The shot from the top of the D took a wicked deflection but Hannah Macleod was alive to the situation and diverted the ball home for her second goal of the competition.
If England had dominated the first half the second half was all Scotland’s. Holly Cram’s cross somehow evaded Nicola Skrastin with the goal at her mercy and Hinch did well to block another close range effort from her GB teammate Emily Maguire.
England were struggling to maintain possession of the ball as Scotland ramped up the pressure in their search for an equaliser. They got that goal on 49 minutes. Kidd managed to find a gap between Danson and Hinch with her penalty corner to tie it up at one apiece.
Parity lasted just four minutes. England broke down the right. Unsworth’s cross was diverted goalwards by a diving Susannah Townsend. Her effort was saved but Quek followed up well to calmly slot home to give her side the lead against the run of play.
Cram had a great chance immediately at the other end but Hinch was alive to the danger and cleared well with her glove. Scotland forced a series of five consecutive penalty corners but a combination of poor execution and solid defending meant they were unable to capitalise.
With time running out, Scotland’s fans thought they’d squared the game up but Cram’s goal was rightly ruled out as she played the ball with her foot, not her stick.
England clung on to take the three points and leave Scotland rooted to the foot of the table. It was far from England’s best performance but ultimately, Jason Lee and his team will be delighted to have ground out the win to take their place in Thursday’s semi final.