England came up against a classy Blacksticks side in their Champions Trophy Quarter Final going down 3-1 to the world number four side. Rose Keddell, Anita Punt and Stacey Michelsen were all on target for New Zealand, while Holcombe’s Laura Unsworth scored England’s solitary goal. The result means that England will now face Japan in the first of two 5th-8th classification matches at 1430 on Saturday. New Zealand will join the Netherlands and Australia who booked Semi Final spots earlier in the day.
Surbiton’s Hollie Webb and Holcombe’s Maddie Hinch received flowers before the game to mark their 50th appearance for England.
In an eventful opening quarter England had the first chance with a deflection from Lily Owsley forcing a save from Sally Rutherford in the Blacksticks’ goal. Despite their fast start, England were put onto the back foot and Maddie Hinch was called upon to keep New Zealand at bay, saving an Anita Punt penalty corner and then blocking well from Petrea Webster. There was nothing the goalkeeper could do to keep out the opener as Rose Keddell deflected another Punt penalty corner into the net to make it 1-0. England levelled straight away as Laura Unsworth slapped home her third goal for England from their first penalty corner of the match.
New Zealand forced a penalty corner at the start of the second quarter but Hinch, on her 50th appearance for England, did well again to see off a deflection from Sophie Cocks. England pressed for a second goal but against the run of play New Zealand took the lead. Punt’s low drag flick beat Hinch via a deflection off Shona McCallin’s stick. England wobbled and but for more heroics from Hinch to keep out Olivia Merry they could have trailed by more than the 2-1 deficit at the break.
In the third quarter, as in the previous quarters, New Zealand forced a penalty corner but Punt’s drag flick was charged down by England’s defence. Chances were increasingly hard to come by as both sides battled for control of a crowded midfield and the 15 minutes passed without any more openings.
Hinch had to be alert in the opening seconds of the final quarter to smother from Merry after good work from Punt. However with four minutes on the clock, the Blacksticks gave themselves a cushion with a third goal. Hinch made a stunning save to turn Michelsen’s deflection onto the bar but the Blacksticks No31 reacted quickest to slam home the rebound. Ellie Watton came agonisingly close to scoring her third of the competition in the last 30 seconds as she latched onto an aerial and beat Rutherford, only to see the ball roll just wide, but England were unable to find the goals they needed and New Zealand celebrated as they booked their Semi Final place.
Click here to find out squad and caps information and to see the other results at the tournament.
England Head Coach, Danny Kerry: On the performance: “It was a bright opening spell for us across the first seven minutes or so and we had some good chances, however we rapidly went off our game after that. Three of our squad are suffering with heat stroke following the match and I think it was clear how tough it was out there today; it’s hard enough to play these matches with a full squad of 18 [Alex Danson is currently sidelined after a collision in the first pool match].”
On the Blacksticks: “New Zealand have some quick players and they capitalised on our errors in the high heat. They played with great execution and pace across the game and thoroughly deserved their win and place in the Semi Finals.”
Tomorrow is another rest day in Argentina. England’s next game will be on Saturday against Japan at 1430 [UK time]. Please be aware that match timings are subject to change. All matches are being shown live on Sky Sports. For the schedule click here.