China take three points vs England women
England’s women suffered defeat to China in the FIH Hockey Pro League in London.
Having drawn the previous match on Saturday, England were looking to get back to winning ways but came up against an extremely determined China side who countered expertly to win the game.
Grace Balsdon had given England a first quarter lead with a penalty corner, but China were level by halftime thanks to a Bingfeng Gu penalty stroke. And goals in each of the third and fourth quarters from Xindan Zhang and Yang Chen handed the visitors three points.
Starting XI: Heesh (GK), Ansley, Balsdon, Pearne-Webb (C), McCallin, Unsworth, S Hamilton, Crackles, Rayer, Bourne, Petter
Subs (used): Martin, O Hamilton, Owsley, Peel, Walker
Sub (unused): Pritchard (GK)
England looked to wrestle the initiative in the first ten minutes and thought they had a penalty corner but it was overturned by a good Chinese referral. However though David Ralph’s side did soon have a breakthrough from a set piece as Grace Balsdon fired goalwards and away from the dive of Ping Liu in the China goal.
China were proving dogged opponents, and when presented with a breakaway chance on 22 minutes they capitalised with aplomb. Sabbie Heesh made a challenge that was deemed to be a deliberate foul when one-on-one, and Bingfeng Gu slotted home the penalty stroke.
It was a game with few clear chances, but Hannah Martin tried to change that in the second half as she won a corner; Balsdon’s effort saved by Liu. Then China scored an excellent goal of their own; Xindan Zhang producing a moment of real quality to finish on the reverse high into the net.
Giselle Ansley then saw a corner blocked as England looked to get back on terms, and Shona McCallin didn’t fully catch a half chance with ten minutes to go on her first game back since the Tokyo Olympics.
England continued to have reasonable possession, but China were always a threat on the counter and so it proved when they won a corner; converted by Yang Chen on 56.
Fiona Crackles tried an inventive flick to reduce the deficit, but when it went just wide any hope of an English comeback was vanquished.
England will of course be disappointed with the result, but credit must also go to the Chinese team who stood up well at both ends of the pitch to go home with a first win of their FIH Hockey Pro League campaign so far.
Balsdon (11 PC)
Bingfeng Gu (23 PS); X Zhang (32 FG); Yang Chen (56 PC)
With thanks to England Hockey