Women's Hockey World League Semi-Finals: England seal top spot in Pool A

Alex Danson
Danson's second goal of the Pool A campaign sealed victory over Ireland

England finished on top of Pool A at the Women's Hockey World League Semi-Finals after beating Ireland 3-2.

It was a third win out of four for coach Danny Kerry's side, who were beaten 1-0 by Japan on Wednesday.

They went ahead in Johannesburg through Sarah Haycroft's deflected shot, Shona McCallin made it 2-0 before Ireland levelled with two goals in two minutes.

Alex Danson fired in a rebound in the third quarter as England went through into Tuesday's quarter-final games.

Goalkeeper Maddie Hinch, who made a fine save in the early stages when the match was goalless, said: "We didn't panic and knew the next goal would be crucial and knew we could find it."

England were two goals up by half-time, having taken the lead when Haycroft broke down the right and crossed onto an Irish foot, which deflected the ball into the net.

Then Lily Owsley, making her 100th international appearance, won a penalty corner and McCallin was perfectly placed at the left-hand post to guide home Giselle Ansley's drag flick.

After the interval Ireland staged a dramatic recovery as Nicci Daly's reverse shot deflected in off Ansley's stick and Kathryn Mullan's bobbled effort through a crowded circle snuck past Hinch.

Ireland continued to press but on the stroke of the final break, Danson's 102nd international goal proved decisive.

From a penalty corner, Ansley's effort was saved and Danson was the quickest to react as she rattled in the loose ball.

The top four teams from the Johannesburg tournament will go through to the World League Finals in New Zealand in November.

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