England set up Quarter-Final clash with Italy

England's goal scorer Sophie Bray  against Spain in the final pool match at Chiswick 450x336

ENGLAND 1 (0) 
Sophie Bray 54 (PC)

SPAIN 1 (0)
Lola Riera Zuzuarregui 58 (PS)

The points were shared in England’s final group game of the Investec World League as a closely fought battle against Spain finished in a 1 – 1 draw. Sophie Bray gave England the lead in the 54th minute with a deflected strike from a penalty corner. However, just four minutes later, Spain were awarded a penalty stroke, which Lola Riera Zuzuarregui stepped up to convert.   

Speaking after the game, England’s Head Coach Jason Lee said, “I think both sides have come out of the today’s game pleased with the result. We’ve got a quarter-final draw which we are happy with [Italy] and that was the ultimate aim from the pool stages. We were trying to develop our style of play today and I’m not sure we quite nailed it. We seemed to lack a bit of intensity, however Spain put up a great fight as they pursued their goal of finishing third in the pool and avoiding Argentina.”

The first ten minutes of the final group game was evenly matched as both teams looked to settle into their rhythm. Spain were first to get a shot away at goal; Gloria Comerma Broto beat several England defenders as she drove into the circle. Holcombe’s Maddie Hinch was on hand though to push the ball clear after a tight goal mouth scramble.

Reading’s Alex Danson looked lively upfront and created a series of chances. Firstly, her interception on the half way line led to a promising England attack, however she couldn’t quite connect with the final ball as she threw herself in front of goal. Danson then won England their first penalty corner of the match but the Spanish defence were out quickly to stifle the shot from the top of the circle.

The latter stages of the first half saw England dominating and forcing the Spanish players into making mistakes. However, the home side were unable to convert and it remained goalless at half time.

England continued to press Spain in the opening minutes of the second half. A Danson reverse strike on goal and a drag flick from Reading’s Kate Walsh resulted in two smart saves from the Spanish goal keeper. After 54 minutes, England were finally rewarded as a strike from Walsh at another penalty corner was deflected by MOP’s (NED) Sophie Bray to give England a 1 – 0 lead and Bray her second goal of the tournament.

England’s lead didn’t last long though, as a foot in front of goal resulted in Spain being awarded a penalty stroke. Hinch dived low to her right and got a stick to the ball but was unable to keep out Reira Zuzarregui’s shot, to make the score 1 – 1 after 58 minutes.

England nearly snatched a winner in the final few minutes as Bowdon Hightown’s Sally Walton drove into the Spanish circle. The ball was pulled back to Reading’s Susie Gilbert but her shot was just wide of the left hand post and the final score remained at 1 - 1.

Speaking after the game, Walsh said “I think over the first two games we built up some good momentum, but like Jason said we tried some things today that didn’t quite work for us. We are still developing as a team and we have to take the momentum we’ve built up into the quarter final game on Thursday. I know we can really build on the strengths we have and if we focus on the positives we’ll put in a good performance against Italy.”

England finished behind Australia in pool B and as a result will face Italy in the quarter finals on Thursday at 20:00. Tickets are available on the gate.

Live coverage is available on the FIH YouTube channel and highlights will be shown on Sky. Click here to find out more.