Brilliant Bray inspires England to Gold Coast bronze

Bray scores v India CWG 2018
England 6 (1)
Pearne-Webb (PC, 27); Bray (FG, 43; FG, 49); Unsworth (FG, 55); Danson (FG, 56; FG, 57)

India 0 (0)

Sophie Bray was England’s hero as they won their sixth consecutive Commonwealth Games medal, securing bronze with a crushing victory over India.

The Kampong forward scored twice – including an outrageous 43rd minute effort from the edge of the circle – provided two assists for captain Alex Danson and also pulled off two brilliant blocks on the line from penalty corners.

Having struggled for rhythm early on – Maddie Hinch making a number of crucial saves – England produced a second half masterclass, with Laura Unsworth adding to Bray’s efforts before Danson grabbed two well deserved goals of her own.

That came after Hollie Pearne-Webb opened the scoring shortly before half-time, with the result securing Team England’s 100th medal of Gold Coast 2018 while also ensuring this is the 10th consecutive year the women have medalled at a major tournament as England or Great Britain.

Following on from their penalty defeat to New Zealand in the semi-final England began this game slowly, with Gurjit Kaur denied by Hinch and then Emily Defroand from two consecutive eighth minute corners.

At the other end England’s only chance of note early on was an Unsworth corner which was saved by Savita, who then showed smart reflexes to prevent a diving Ellie Rayer from scoring in the 17th minute.

Ten minutes later England opened the scoring as Pearne-Webb recovered well from an initial mistrap to smash the ball beyond Savita and give her side the all-important half-time lead.

It was India who started the second half on top though with three corners in quick succession, only for Bray to block Monika’s poke towards goal after Hinch saved Rani’s strike from the first before Ellie Watton read the third to perfection, intercepting the ball before the Indian captain could strike.

Hinch then produced two crucial saves in just over a minute to deny Vandana Katariya and Lalremsiami to preserve England’s lead, while at the other end Unsworth flashed a shot wide after being found by a beautiful Pearne-Webb pass on the diagonal.

Bray then took the game by the scruff of the neck as she produced a wondrous backhand strike, lifting the ball into the top corner, to double England’s lead before grabbing her second to secure the win in the 49th minute, with another fantastic goal-line clearance coming in between.

Unsworth then classily swept the ball past Savita from a tight angle to make it four before 27-year-old Bray turned provider as Danson gave the goalkeeper no chance by touching Bray’s cross-shot between her legs with four minutes remaining.

There was still time for the duo to combine once again with three minutes remaining as Danson grabbed her third of the tournament and England’s sixth to cap an imperious performance that will provide them with the perfect platform to build on ahead of this summer’s Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup.

England Starting XI: Hinch (GK), Ansley, Balsdon, Toman, Pearne-Webb, Unsworth, Haycroft, Townsend, Watton, Bray, Danson (C)

Subs: Tennant (GK), Petty, Lane, Defroand, Martin, Hunter, Rayer