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Hockey: England win bronze at European Championship
England’s women are once again European bronze medallists after beating Spain for the third European Championships in a row. A goal in either half from Chloe Rogers and captain Kate Walsh won it for England who held on well after Silvia Munoz’ equaliser with just over ten minutes remaining.
It was a game in which England looked comfortable for the most part but knowing the danger that Spain possessed, England were never fully in control.
Leicester’s Chloe Rogers settled English nerves early on with a well converted penalty corner after just seven minutes. When the ball arrived at the top of the circle from the push it was slipped left through Kate Walsh to Rogers and she made no mistake with a well placed strike into the bottom left corner to give England the lead.
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On ten minutes, at the other end, Becky Duggan got down smartly to save a penalty corner effort and she had to repeat the feat again later in the half, blocking a low shot down the middle of the goal with her defence dealing well with second effort from an acute angle.
The first half was scrappy at times with England hunting down the Spanish in packs while Spain showed good organisation, patiently trying to build their attacks.
Towards the end of the half Spain did have the ball in the England net but the shot from a penalty corner went straight in above the backboard and England’s lead remained intact. There was still time for Jo Ellis to have an effort on goal after dispossessing the Spanish defender she could not convert the opportunity and so it remained 1-0 at the break.
England began the second half well, probing down the right of the pitch and causing problems for the left side of the Spanish defence.
Eight minutes into the second half Alex Danson was tripped inside the circle and Kate Walsh stepped up to coolly extend England’s lead with a well placed penalty inside the left post, just above the backboard.
Now two goals behind Spain responded but the English back line remained resolute, thwarting Spain’s progress with some well timed tackles.
Midway through the half Walsh found herself facing the goalkeeper for the second time after Katie Long had been upended while on a promising run down the right (pictured above) but this time Maria Jesus Rosa saved her effort to keep Spain in the match.
That might have proved crucial as from the re-start Spain broke through the middle of the park, attacking England at pace. Entering the top of the England circle, Nuria Camon drew the defence before slipping the ball left for the waiting Silvia Munoz to pull a goal back for Spain; 2-1 with a little over ten minutes remaining.
England responded with a penalty corner at the other end but Kate Walsh’s shot was deflected high and over the bar by the Spanish runner.
In the last five minutes England stuck to their guns, keeping possession well and seeing off the final moments before the hooter went to crown them European bronze medallists.
Speaking afterwards, captain Kate Walsh was honest in her assessment of how England played: “It wasn’t a great performance if I’m honest. It was probably our worst of the tournament and we made it tight for ourselves towards the end. We’re pleased to have won the medal though; I think to have come out of this game without winning would have been devastating to us.”
Walsh scored once from the penalty spot but it could have been two had her second effort not been saved. “One from two – what can I say? I should have scored and then from me missing that one Spain went up the other end and scored themselves. But we had some experienced players out there today and they knew what to do in the last ten minutes. All in all we’ve had a good tournament and this is a great way to end it.”
Louise Hudson, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine
Photo credit: hockeyimages.co.uk / England Hockey