England keep their cool to see off Croatia

Giselle Ansley celebrates her goal with Susie Gilbert and Lucy Wood.jpg

Croatia 2 (2)
Anamarija Somin 1 (PC)
Marina Abramovic 20 (PC)

England 3 (1)
Giselle Ansley 17 (PC)
Grace Balsdon 32 (FG)
Lucy Wood 34 (FG)

Goals from Giselle Ansley, Grace Balsdon and Lucy Wood handed England a superb 3-2 win over Croatia in a nail-biting encounter at the EuroHockey Indoor Championships II.

Andy Halliday’s side fell behind twice but showed great discipline, sticking to their gameplan to edge themselves ahead of Croatia with some brilliantly taken goals.

A highly charged match got off to the worst possible start for Halliday’s side as Anamarija Somin gave Croatia a first-minute lead from a penalty corner. Undeterred, Giselle Ansley levelled the scores, ripping a bullet penalty corner past the goalkeeper in the 17th minute. Marina Abramovic restored Croatia’s lead three minutes later to send them in at the break ahead.

England had their share of chances to get themselves back on terms but they could not find a way through, whilst at the other end Amy Tennant, a half time replacement in goal for Sabbie Heesh showed good reflexes to keep Croatia at bay. England remained patient, probing and keeping possession as they hunted for the equaliser. Their patience paid off in the 32nd minute as Grace Balsdon, the team’s top scorer tied the game up with an open play goal, her fifth of the competition.

With Croatia reeling, England capitalised and Holcombe’s Lucy Wood got their noses in front with a well-taken finish two minutes after Balsdon’s leveller.

Croatia threw everything at Halliday’s side in the closing stages but a mature, calm and disciplined defensive display ensured they held on for a superb win.

A delighted Andy Halliday, Head Coach told England Hockey:

‘We knew we would need to be patient against the Croatian deep zonal defence. After a sloppy start, we showed patience and resilience both with and without the ball. The win was deserved. I am pleased for the girls, 2 victories today have demonstrated the progress we have made as an indoor team. A different challenge awaits with Scotland tomorrow.'

England round off their EuroHockey Indoor Championships II campaign against Scotland tomorrow, at 9am UK time.

For all the results, standings, fixtures and scorers in the competition click here.