England women through to semi finals

Nicola White 33 (F)  
Alex Danson 40 (F)  
Georgie Twigg 46 (PC)  

In their last match in Pool B, England’s women sealed their place in the semi finals of the Commonwealth Games with a professional 3-0 victory over Malaysia.  A late first half goal from Slough’s Nicola White was followed by second half finishes from Reading’s Alex Danson and Clifton youngster Georgie Twigg, for whom it was a first international goal at senior level.

In humid conditions, England found Malaysia content to sit deep and defend in numbers, looking only to attack on the counter.  As a result, England enjoyed the best of the possession throughout but struggled to break down the Malaysian rearguard at times in the first half. 

Needing at least a draw to progress to the semi finals, England struck the first blow two minutes before half time when Slough forward Nicola White opened the scoring.  Reading forward Alex Danson did much of the hard work, running through the middle at the Malaysian defence before threading a ball through the defender’s legs to White who had made a run to the penalty spot.  Picking up the pass with her back to goal, White turned to her right and coolly finished with the goalkeeper advancing on her.

The start of the second half saw England begin to take more risks, getting forward in better numbers and penetrating the Malaysian circle.  And it was one such penetrative run that saw Danson bring up England’s second goal.  After driving hard down the right touchline the Hampshire born forward cut inside, skipping past two defenders before firing a low and controlled reverse stick strike inside the near post to make it 2-0.

And England added a third through Clifton youngster Georgie Twigg just over five minutes later.  Having pulled the penalty corner out to the top of the circle, 19 year old Twigg headed for a spot just outside the post where she was on hand to deflect home Leicester defender Crista Cullen’s low flick.  The goal was Twigg’s first for England since forcing her way into the senior squad earlier this summer.

Malaysia offered little threat as the match wore on and England ran out comfortable winners by three clear goals.  The result takes England level on points with New Zealand but the Blacksticks have one more Pool B fixture to play, against Canada.  England’s likely finishing position in the group is second, enough to take them to a semi final against either South Africa or Australia.

After the match, Head Coach Danny Kerry was happy with how things had gone.  “I’m happy with how the girls managed to play in difficult conditions today.  Rather than coming at us to try and squeeze into the semi finals, Malaysia were trying to avoid losing by more than two goals so it was a case of seeing if we could break them down without being exposed on the counter attack. 

“We weren’t as penetrative as I would have liked and we only had a few penalty corners but when we took a couple of risks going forward in the second half we got the goals.”

19 year old Twigg said of her first goal in senior international hockey, “It’s fantastic to get my first goal here at the Commonwealth Games.  It’s even better that it has helped us get to the semi finals.  The corner wasn't practiced, I just got myself into the right place at the right time.”

England will almost certainly finish the pool in second unless New Zealand lose substantially to Canada.  In finishing second, England would play the top team from Pool A, either South Africa or Australia.  That semi final is scheduled for 11:00  Delhi time on Monday morning.  The other semi final takes place at 17:30 local time the same day.