England women overcome South Africa

Laura Unsworth in action for England against South Africa at the Investec London Cup - photo by Ady Kerry

A close game between England and South Africa played out in the rain and finished with England’s women a goal ahead and as-yet unbeaten at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.

South Africa 1 (0)
Illse Davids 47 (FG)

England 2 (1)
Alex Danson 34 (FG)
Georgie Twigg 61 (PS)

The match may have started in the rain but England’s supporters were still out in force at the Investec London Cup today. South Africa opened the game on the attack, but England took every opportunity to break that they could find for the first ten minutes, with the young crowd erupting every time they got the ball.

The final ten minutes saw South Africa having to play defensively, sometimes having all of their players in their own 23 while England pressed forward. For all of South Africa’s organised defence, it was no match for a superb solo effort from Reading’s Alex Danson to put England 1-0 in the lead just before half time - another reverse-stick shot high into the South African net.

With England buoyed by their one goal lead they continued to push into South Africa’s half after the break while the South Africans looked to counter-attack. South Africa’s patience was rewarded in the 47th minute, when they levelled the score thanks to a goal-line deflection from Illse Davids. It wasn’t long before England pulled ahead again though, as a penalty stroke was awarded for a foot on the goal-line, and Surbiton’s Georgie Twigg put it away with ease to give England the lead.

A series of penalty corners for South Africa looked like they might level the scores again, but great defence and goalkeeping from East Grinstead’s Kirsty Mackay meant England held on to win the game 2-1.

Speaking after the game, England Captain Kate Richardson-Walsh said: "I think the game matched the weather - a bit murky and foggy at times but we had to grit it out. We're off the back of a bit of a hiding from [South Africa] at the World Cup, so we had a point to prove - and it's much easier with the magnificent report we've had today."

For highlights of all matches visit England Hockey's youtube page - England Hockey TV. Sky Sports 1 will be showing Sunday's Finals live, from 14:30.