The women’s team of England won the second test match against Spain (3-1), while both teams stayed equal in the first encounter (1-1).
England – Spain 3-1 (2-0)
Goals England: Helen Richardson 17 (F), Chloe Strong 25 (PC), Alex Danson 47 (PC).
Goal Spain: Glora Comerma 56 (PC)
A dominant first half performance set England on their way to a 3-1 victory over Spain in the second of two Tests at Highfields Sport Club in Nottingham.
In glorious sunshine England began brightly with Alex Danson finding Jo Ellis charging down the left straight from the start and it did not take long for England to threaten the Spanish goal after quick thinking from Helen Richardson. Her self pass at the top of circle created the space to shoot and Maria Lopez Eguilaz had to look sharp to make the save with her defenders clearing the rebound as England looked to scramble the ball over the line.
At the other end, Beth Storry had to be alert to advance off her line and clear the ball with Montse Cruz looking to get on the end of the through ball.
A period of Spanish pressure followed but England dealt with it well. Spain won the first of their 11 penalty corners with just under quarter of an hour on the clock but they found Storry in good form in the England goal as she got down low to her right to keep the scoreline blank.
The tide began to turn just after the quarter of an hour mark with England playing the ball around with pace and precision, forcing the Spanish midfield onto the back foot. Katie Long fired a reverse stick effort over from an acute angle on 17 minutes and just one minute later England took the lead through Helen Richardson. Rebecca Herbert’s reverse stick cross was well controlled by Richardson on the near post and she turned to fire the bobbling ball past the Spanish goalkeeper from close range.
Despite England’s dominance of the play, Spain won another two corners in quick succession but Storry again proved equal to the challenge, making another save low to her right from the powerful strike of Maria Romagosa.
England extended their lead in the 25th minute through defender Chloe Strong’s powerful penalty corner strike, low into the left hand corner. The goal was her first for England in only her sixth senior international appearance.
At this stage England were looking comfortable and every attack brought hope of another goal; a minute later Kerry Williams had a shot saved by the Spanish goalkeeper and a counter attack after a Spanish penalty corner nearly saw England score a third but the pass to the back post narrowly eluded the onrushing England forward line.
With a minute of the half remaining, a loose ball fell to Alex Danson in the circle but her shot was again saved by Lopez Equilaz.
Danson had England’s next best opportunity just two minutes into the second period; her reverse stick snap shot at the top of a crowded circle looped towards goal but the goalkeeper cleared with her glove.
Spain were always dangerous from set pieces and Storry was again called into action from the low flick of Raquel Huertas, who scored Spain’s goal in Saturday’s first test.
Danson finally got her goal in the 47th minute as she pushed home a loose ball after the goalkeeper had got down well to her right to keep out Chloe Strong’s powerful strike. Danson, the pusher, was the first to react and knocked the ball into the empty net to put the game beyond Spain.
After her stunning goal in Saturday’s match Katie Long was entitled to be confident as she powered into Spanish territory with 53 minutes on the score board but with Rebecca Herbert supporting at the back post she elected to shoot across the ‘keeper, who did well to keep the effort out and away from the advancing Herbert.
Spain scored a consolation goal in the 56th minute through Gloria Comerma. After an infringement on the edge of the English circle led to the upgrading of a free hit to a penalty corner her strike, perhaps the least troublesome of her team’s 11 set pieces, found its way through the so far excellent Storry to the backboard: 3-1.
With England’s players tiring from the exertion Spain came at them looking for an unlikely comeback but two more Storry saves and captain Nuria Camon’s failure to connect at the back post with the goal gaping ensured that the match finished 3-1 to England.
Speaking after the final whistle, Coach Danny Kerry said he saw an improvement on yesterday’s performance: “In the first half we were good,” he acknowledged. “We were dominant and looked like we could cut loose to freely score goals.
“We started the second half in the same vain but tiredness took over and we actually could have thrown it away in the end.”
England – Spain 1-1 (0-0)
Goal England: Katie Long 45 (F)
Goal Spain: Raquel Huertas 39 (F)
There was stalemate between England and Spain in the first of two meetings at Highfields Sports Club in Nottingham as Leicester’s Katie Long struck a superb effort to equalise Raquel Huertas’ opener.
There was little to choose between the teams in the opening spell with both enjoying periods of controlled possession in the East Midlands sunshine. The first real opportunity of the match fell to England but Chloe Strong’s penalty corner flew past the left hand post.
On 17 minutes, Captain Kate Walsh’s mistake inside 25 metres saw her robbed by Montse Cruz, who entered the circle with just Duggan to beat. In trying to make amends for her mistake Walsh took the stick of the Spanish number eight while she lined up to shoot and the umpire immediately pointed to the penalty spot. Becky Duggan spared England’s blushes though with a comfortable save from Raquel Huertas’ medium height flick and the scoreline remained 0-0.
Further goal scoring opportunities were few and far between as the half wore on; Spain’s only first half penalty corner was miss-controlled at the top of the circle allowing Walsh to charge down before a shot was released and at the other end, Helen Richardson, who had been presented with a cap before the match to mark her 100th appearance for England last month, was crowded out as she attempted to shoot on the reverse.
The second half was an altogether livelier affair and with Spain looking more threatening it was the World number seven side that took the lead just four minutes into the period. Good work down the right culminated in a cross that reached Huertas’ at the back of the circle and with time to pick her spot she made no mistake, firing the ball low into the corner of the goal.
Two Spanish penalty corners followed shortly after as they looked to put the game beyond the hosts but after a save from Duggan, with her left glove, and a good block by onrushing defenders at the second, England fought to get back into the match.
The equaliser was not long in coming and in the 45th minute good work between Alex Danson and Jo Ellis down the right channel allowed Ellis to feed Leicester’s Katie Long, who struck a rasping shot beyond Maria Jesus Rosa into the far netting. It was fine strike from a young player, for a second goal in just her fifth senior international match.
The goal gave England renewed energy and just two minutes later Danson found herself with just Jesus Rosa to beat from close range but the World’s best goalkeeper pulled off a good block to keep the scores level.
With the pressure mounting on the Spanish defence they conceded two more penalty corners but England failed to make them pay as first Walsh’s flick was comfortably saved, before the goalkeeper made another good block from Chloe Rogers.
A yellow card to Montse Cruz with six minutes remaining saw Spain drop to a half court defence and the game finished 1-1.
Afterwards, England Head Coach paid tribute to Katie Long’s equalising goal: “I was delighted Katie Long took her chance so well, especially for a player with so few caps.”
Speaking about where he’d like to see improvements, Kerry acknowledged, “Our turnovers at the back gave Spain too many opportunities and we failed to really capitalise on our counter attacks.”
Source: England Hockey
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