• England National Teams

England's women reach double figures against Ghana to go top of Pool B

England 12

Balsdon (10, 18, 46 PGs); Martin (15, 33 PGs, 49 FG); Ansley (27 PG); Hunt (28 FG); Howard (32 FG); Toman (48 PG); Unsworth (53 FG)

Ghana 0

England’s women started their pursuit of a medal in fine fashion, beating Ghana 12-0 in Birmingham thanks to hat-tricks from Grace Balsdon and Hannah Martin.

Balsdon started the scoring in the 10th minute and from there England were in complete control. She added a second after Martin’s first and there were also goals for Giselle Ansley and Holly Hunt to give England a five-goal lead at the break.

Tess Howard ensured there would be no let up, scoring inside two minutes of the second half and the goals kept on coming as Balsdon and Martin completed their hat-tricks, while Lily Owsley, Anna Toman and Laura Unsworth also netted in a comprehensive first Commonwealth Games outing.

England: Heesh (GK); Ansley, Pearne-Webb (c), Toman, Crackles; Unsworth, Owsley, Peel; Martin, Rayer, Petter. 

Subs: Hinch (GK), Hunt, Walker, Howard, Hamilton, McCallin, Balsdon. 

England stars rush to Laura Unsworth after she added England's 12th and final goal in their victory over Ghana

Match report

England were the last side to play in Pool B and were keen to announce their arrival from the off at the University of Birmingham.

Izzy Petter hit the post with a back-hand shot inside three minutes and England’s first penalty corner of the game quickly followed after smart work down the flank from Hannah Martin.

After holding off the initial onslaught, it seemed that Ghana might grow into the contest but those hopes were quickly dashed when Grace Balsdon struck from England’s third set piece of the game.

Having been thwarted with their first two attempts, England shifted the angle slightly wider and with a low drag flick high to the goalkeeper’s left, Balsdon put England ahead.

Five minutes later it was two. On this occasion, Anna Toman stepped in on the edge of the circle for the penalty corner and her slap was turned home by Martin.

Their third and Balsdon’s second came from yet another penalty corner. Despite being forced to change injector, with Petter stepping in for Flora Peel, the routine was just as effective. Captain Hollie Pearne-Webb teed up Balsdon, and the Hampstead and Westminster defender kept her cool to make it three.

Ghana briefly rallied but struggled to escape their half and a quick double-strike on the cusp of half time effectively ended the contest. Giselle Ansley guided her effort into the corner of the goal with a crisp forehand strike and just 45 seconds later Holly Hunt made it five with England’s first field-goal, a tap in from close-range after an error from the Ghanaian goalkeeper.

Another field goal provided the perfect start to the second half. Tess Howard was next to score, rifling home on the back foot after turning inside the circle. Martin then made it seven, guiding home Toman’s hit from the top before Owsley made it eight from another penalty corner to give England their fifth goal in 11 minutes.

There was more than a hint of fortune about this one though, as the ball popped up off a combination of the goalkeeper and post defender leaving the midfielder with the simplest of finishes.

The final quarter of the game was England’s most fruitful, adding four as Ghanaian legs tired. Balsdon was the first to complete her hat-trick, with a low drag through the goalkeeper from a short corner before the impressive Toman notched via a ricochet off a defender.  

Then, less than a minute later, Martin capitalised on indecision at the back to race through on goal and add her third with a powerful reverse stick strike.

There was time for one more and it was arguably the pick of the bunch. Laura Unsworth does not score many goals but this was a fine effort, undercutting a bouncing ball into the top right corner to become England’s eighth different scorer on the day.

The win takes England top of Pool B after the first round of fixtures, and they return to action on Sunday when they face Canada, who beat Wales 4-0 on Friday.