England see off stubborn Scotland in tournament opener

Kate Richardson Walsh celebrates Euro's goal 480 x 290

England 2 (2)
Kate Richardson-Walsh, 10 (PC)
Helen Richardson-Walsh, 20 (FG)

Scotland 1 (1)
Kareena Marshall, 3 (PC)

Goals from Kate Richardson-Walsh and Helen Richardson-Walsh gave England a hard fought 2-1 win over Scotland in front of a packed house at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre. Scotland had opened the scoring through a beautifully worked penalty corner from Kareena Marshall but England hit back with two goals before half time to come out on top in a typically tenacious encounter between the two traditional rivals.

Scotland started brightly and took the lead on three minutes from a superb set piece. Nikki Kidd played the ball to Sarah Robertson who fired it across for Kareena Marshall to divert the ball into the net.

England hit back and Kate Richardson-Walsh’s raking pass found Alex Danson inside the circle but her backhand strike went just wide. With nine minutes gone England won their first penalty corner. The pass was slapped at goal by Laura Unsworth but Amy Gibson made the save low to her right. The hosts forced another penalty corner with 5 minutes left in the quarter and this time Kate Richardson-Walsh’s shot found a way through Gibson’s legs and levelled the scores.

England had another penalty corner chance at the start of the second quarter but Gibson excelled again and made a good save from Giselle Ansley’s shot. However, ten minutes before the break England took the lead. A splendid run from Lily Owsley left the defence trailing in her wake and she teed up Helen Richardson-Walsh who supplied a calm finish. Scotland rallied and Vikki Bunce went close, but her rocket shot was well saved by the body of Maddie Hinch

In the third quarter Sophie Bray almost scored an incredible individual goal. Her lovely run from half way put her clear of three defenders but Gibson, not for the first time, did well to make the block. The Scotland goalkeeper was at it again moments later, saving brilliantly from Sam Quek to keep Gordon Shepherd’s side in the contest going into the last 15 minutes.

The final quarter was a tense one with both sides throwing bodies forwards in search of the crucial next goal. Owsley broke free inside the circle and her cross shot was touched just wide by Danson at full stretch but in a frantic final quarter further chances proved hard to come by. Gordon Shepherd’s side withdrew their goalkeeper as a last throw of the dice but England saw the game out for the win.

England’s next match is against Italy on Monday 24 August at 19:30 live on the BBC Red Button and the BBC Sport Website

Quotes – Georgie Twigg

“It’s always a feisty game with Scotland. The last time we played them was at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and it was a similar type of match. We ground it out, and that’s what’s important. We’ll take the points and move on to the next game.

They didn’t have too many chances, which shows we were quite solid defensively but we need to work on being more patient and converting our chances when we get them. We have plenty of time to prepare for Italy who will be a similarly tough side to Scotland but the confidence we get from today should stand us in good stead.”

The Unibet EuroHockey Championships 2015 showcases the best eight men’s and women’s teams in Europe, including both England teams. The event will offer entertainment both on and off the pitch with a large fan park, including a fun zone for children. The stadium capacity has been expanded to cater for demand for tickets, with some sessions on the verge of selling out again at the increased capacity. The tournament is one of UK Sport’s National Lottery funded events as part of the #EveryRoadtoRio series. You can find out more at www.uksport.gov.uk/events .