Euro Hockey: England women reach semi-finals with Ireland win

EuroHockey Nations Championships 2011

Venue:
Warsteiner HockeyPark, Moenchengladbach, Germany
Date:
20-28 August 2011
Coverage:
England matches live on BBC Sport website (UK only) and red button; Twitter updates from BBC Sport's Ollie Williams - @BBCSport_Ollie
England 3-1 Ireland

England's women will face the Netherlands in Thursday's Euro Hockey semi-finals in Germany after a 3-1 victory over Ireland on Tuesday.

Niamh Small gave Ireland a shock lead but Hannah Macleod and Helen Richardson responded in quick succession before Anne Panter tapped in a third.

The wins means England progress to the semi-finals with a 100% record.

Ireland head out of the women's event, while England's men play France for a semi-final place on Wednesday.

The women were already guaranteed a berth in the semi-finals following earlier victories over Belgium and Germany in Pool B, but were nevertheless expected to beat Ireland, ranked 11 places below them in the world.

However, Ireland pounced on terrible England defending as the first half drew to a close and Small converted at the second attempt.

Macleod's goal and a determined move started and finished by Richardson put England ahead after the break, and Panter nudged in a Kate Walsh penalty corner to make the victory comfortable.

But they will need a better first-half performance in their semi-final to have a hope of playing either Germany or Spain for a gold medal.

"Our standards are higher than that. It took all of my mental resolve to give a calm half-time team talk when I wanted to go in and smash a few heads together," said England women's coach Danny Kerry.

"We set a target of winning the pool with no goals scored against us - we won the game but it's about how you perform.

"Helen Richardson helped changed the game for us with her composure and skill, but I'm struggling to say anything positive other than that."

Walsh, the captain, added: "My penalty corners were poor today, I missed the target a few times which is inexcusable at this level.

"We were just asleep, not sharp enough. It's disappointing when we switch off like that.

"We all know that wasn't good enough. We'll train on Wednesday and put that game to bed."

Kerry's team will face the Netherlands at 1930 BST on Thursday, live on the BBC Sport website (for UK-based users) and red button.

England's men, the defending European champions, complete their group stage against France at 1200 BST on Wednesday.

Their group results have been such that England could win and miss out on the semi-finals or, alternatively, lose and still progress, depending on the result of the pool's other game between the Netherlands and Ireland.

Meanwhile, forward Mark Pearn is returning home with a knee injury picked up in the opening game against Ireland.

"Tough week," said Pearn on Twitter. "Back to the UK for surgery on torn meniscus of right knee. Choked to leave the guys behind as I've worked so hard to get here."

England Hockey officials do not believe the injury to be serious. Tournament regulations mean the squad cannot call up a replacement.

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