Goals from Alex Danson and Susannah Townsend sent England through to the Commonwealth Games semi-finals but they were made to sweat on the win by a determined and spirited performance from Scotland. Roared on by the home crowd, the side ranked 16th in the world gave their illustrious old enemy a torrid time with an excellent second half but a combination of Maddie Hinch in the England goal and the home side’s failure to make their chances count meant they came up short, losing 2-1.
England started the brighter of the two sides with Sophie Bray continuing her great form, threatening the Scottish goal with her full repertoire of individual skills. Alex Danson forced Amy Gibson into action early but the Scotland keeper made a fine save before watching moments later as Bray’s effort fizzed wide.
England took the lead just past the quarter hour mark. Nicola White played a nice pass into Alex Danson who teed the ball up before rifling a superb strike into the goal beyond Gibson.
For Scotland, the two Nikkis, Lloyd and Kidd combined well and the latter was unlucky not to be able to divert a cross towards goal as she came in at the back post, just unable to get a vital touch.
With seven minutes to go before the break England doubled their advantage. Although the penalty corner was not what they planned, the ball was worked back into the D and Townsend applied a deft finishing touch to make it 2-0.
Undeterred, Scotland hit back in the 32nd minute through an excellent penalty corner goal from the impressive Kidd and it was game on.
The stakes seemed to get to the players at the start of the second half with both sides turning the ball over with increasing regularity.
Scotland settled and seized the initiative. Knowing only a win would do for them they threw everything at England who defended very well to keep their opponents at bay. Kidd was kept out by the excellent Hinch from a penalty corner and then Ailsa Wyllie’s reverse stick effort went over the bar. At the other end Danson almost capitalised on a defensive error but she too could only shoot over.
Scotland forced a succession of penalty corners but Hinch stood firm and kept them out with a string of fine saves and despite racking up ten shots to England’s two in the second half, the all-important equaliser eluded them and England held on to win.
Nicola White, the Holcombe and England forward said afterwards:
“We made it closer than we maybe could have done but sometimes it is just about grinding out the result and especially in front of this crowd on a home ground. The semi-finals are where we want to be, then you are in with a chance of the medals.”
It may not have been pretty or a vintage display, but England had got what they came for. For Scotland the result was a disappointment but the performance was something to be proud of. They will hope to take the momentum into the classification matches whilst England weigh up a possible clash with New Zealand in the semi-finals.