Danson and Hinch upbeat despite late loss

Alex Danson v Argentina HWL Final 2017
Argentina (0) 1
Merino (FG, 57)

England (0) 0

England succumbed to another late goal as Delfina Merino’s strike gave Argentina their second win in the Sentinel Homes Hockey World League Final.

Despite their opponents penetrating the circle on 25 occasions and facing eight penalty corners, goalkeepers Maddie Hinch and Amy Tennant looked to have kept out their opponents in a ferociously quick game.

Noel Barrionuevo and Maria Granatto were the brightest sparks for the Argentinians while Sophie Bray and Grace Balsdon went close for England.

Captain Merino then found herself in space with just three minutes left and fired home to hand her side the win and leave England’s skipper Alex Danson frustrated after a resilient showing.

“The difference today was one very tidy finish. We are disappointed not to come away with the points but there was some fantastic work by the team,” the forward said.

 “We pride ourselves on how we work defensively and how we break on the counter. So we’re delighted with how we did and it’s now about looking at the next day and onwards.

“We’ll recover tomorrow and then have a look at where we can go forward and come out fighting for the next game against China.”

Argentina piled on the pressure on from the start as Suzy Petty deflected Agustina Albertarrio’s ninth minute effort over the bar before Hinch was called into action twice in the final minutes of the quarter to thwart Granatto and a firmly struck Barrionuevo corner.

England however came out flying in the second quarter, Lily Owsley winning a corner after just 11 seconds that Bray smashed narrowly wide before Emily Defroand forced Belen Succi into a save while Baldson fired another corner over the bar shortly after.

Argentina soon settled back into their dominant stride as Granatto forced substitute Tennant into two saves in the 20th minute but, despite having several more corners, the South Americans were forced to go in level at half-time.

The pattern continued into the third quarter as Lucina von der Heyde forced a returning Hinch into a save with her feet within a minute of the restart.

The Argentinian forward was then handed a 38th minute yellow card and shortly after Owsley forced Succi into a save before the ‘keeper also kept out a subsequent Giselle Ansley corner.

Barrionuevo then had three further corners of her own that were well blocked by Shona McCallin, Hollie Pearne-Webb and Hinch respectively as England continued to hold firm.

The final quarter was played at a much more pedestrian pace but Argentina continued to dominate the possession and it told in the 57th minute as Merino found herself in space in the circle before unleashing a superb reverse stick shot past Tennant.

Despite the result, Hinch said she was impressed by the improvement her team showed from their first game against Germany and believed they were unlucky to have lost.

She said: “It’s normally incredibly tight against Argentina and it was the same today, we had to be fantastic defensively. We’ve just got to start putting away our chances at the other end.

“We have a huge amount of belief as a side. We were a bit nervous at the beginning but we hung on. It was a case of who would be first to put a chance away and unfortunately it came to Merino who has a fabulous backhand. 

“I think we’re satisied. When you’re at a tournament like this where every team is great the results go by the way side and it’s about how we did as a team and I think we played better than yesterday.”

Starting XI: Hinch, Unsworth, Haycroft, Toman, Petty, Danson, Defroand, Ansley, Bray, Pearne-Webb, Owsley

Subs (Used): Martin, Paige, Sanders, Rayer, McCallin, Balsdon, Tennant