(Photo: FIH / Frank Uijlenbroek)

China goalkeeper Zhang Yimeng saved a penalty stroke from Helen Richardson in the last ten minutes of the game to deny England victory in their final Pool A match here in Amstelveen. The match finished scoreless, with the penalty stroke being by far the biggest opportunity of breaking the deadlock in a match that contained limited goal-scoring opportunities.

Although disappointed not to win the game, England still have a chance to reach the medal round although they are now relying on Argentina to defeat Korea by two clear goals in their meeting later today. China are now unable to qualify for the medal rounds.

“I’ve only taken three penalty strokes in my 12 year career” said England captain Helen Richardson in the post match press conference.  “I put it up in the high left corner but it was just a good save from the goal keeper.”

England made an excellent start to the early match here in Amstelveen. Laura Unsworth went close when she fired over the crossbar before a penalty corner chance went begging.  

It was a very positive start for Danny Kerry’s team, a China were soon creating opportunities for themselves in the form of penalty corners. A powerful drag-flick from Wang Mengyu was confidently beaten away by England goalkeeper Beth Storry in what was probably the Asian side’s best chance of the first period.  

There was very little between the two teams for most of the opening period, something that was perhaps expected from sides that are separated by just one place in the world rankings (China - 4th / England - 5th). The distinct lack of clear goal-scoring opportunities highlighted the cautious approach from both teams, but England almost found a way through in the dying moments of half when Alex Danson burst through and forced a save from Zhang.

The deadlock was almost broken five minutes from the break when England won a penalty corner courtesy of a smart referral to the video umpire, but the attempted deflection from Helen Richardson at the right post flew just wide of the target.

 China had a glorious chance to open the scoring five minutes into the second half when midfielder Song Qingling sent a defence-splitting pass through to Zhao Yudiao, but Beth Storry came off her line to deny the 2010 FIH Young Player of the Year a certain goal.

The side from Asia dominating the early stages of the second half, but Storry and her defenders held firm and worked themselves back into the game before heavy rain started to fall on the Wagener Stadium.

The biggest moment of the match arrived with seven minutes remaining in what was an incredible passage of play. England’s Alex Danson showed skill and persistence to battle her way into the circle before eventually cracking a shot towards goal only for her goal-bound effort to hit the body of a China player. Umpire Elena Eskina immediately awarded a penalty stroke for the infringement, but Zhang moved to her right to deny the high flick from Richardson to ensure that the points were shared.  

 

Review 9. England vs China 0-0 - Rabo FIH Champions Trophy 2011   
> China are out of medal competition, and now go on to play for rank 5-8.
> England only qualify for Pool C if Argentina beat Korea by at least 2 goals, later today.
> England negotiated their first goalless draw in Champions Trophy competition.
> For China this marked only their 2nd 0-0 CT match. Their fist came in 2001 against New Zealand.
> This was the first goalless match in CT competition since the 2009 CT final which saw Argentina beat Australia on penalty strokes.
> This was the first CT match in which China failed to score since a 0-1 defeat against The Netherlands in 2009.
> Helen Richardson (ENG) failed to convert the first penalty stroke awarded at the 2011 Champions Trophy.
> England’s penalty corner success rate at the 2011 CT is now 0 for 3.
> China are on 3 for 10 (30%) in terms of penalty corners.