England vs. Ireland
7.00 pm push back
Ireland are already in the quarter finals and England want to get at least a draw to confirm second place. I’m actually a little excited about this. It’s a derby game and both teams will be looking to get stuck into it. If the English are going to win this then Sophie Bray and Sussannah Townsend will need to have a bigger effect on things than they have in the tournament so far.
England are looking slightly more positive in the opening stages. Ayeisha McFerran, in the Irish goal, is forced boot the ball clear, after a circle entry. Danson drives into the circle, takes a reverse stick strike, hits the keeper, the rebound is also saved. The host nation refer for a lifted ball in the circle and the video umpire advises the award of a penalty corner. It’s a straight strike at McFerran and the second phase sees a free hit to Ireland.
England are probing and testing for weakness and in the thirteenth minute they get another short corner. It’s played to the left and slapped in leading to a long corner. From here we get another short corner. It’s been England for a while now and we just need to cap it off now. Delivered to the right post, but Townsend can’t find that all important touch. At the end of the first quarter it’s still goalless.
Ireland’s game plan seems simple but effective; defend together and then counter and it’s working for them. They are proving a very difficult team to break down. Within a minute of second period, the ball hits an Irish foot in the circle and it’s the first short of the period. Unsworth shoots, but the first runner deflects it over the bar.
In the sixth minute there Ireland work a circle entry, but the ball rolls of Deirdre Duke’s stick. When Ireland have the ball, England are only pressing one vs. one and not always winning the ball. Ireland are now in the ascendency. Holiie Pearne-Webb is looking steady at the back for the English, she is the natural successor to Christa Cullen. The Irish are really trying to stretch their opponents defence, with Duke leading the line and Anna O’Flanagan running from deep. At the end if the first half it’s still 0 – 0. As it stands England will finish second in Pool B.
As we start the second half, the Irish forward is placed very high during England attacks. Townsend and Bray are looking to cut inside from the flank, during this game. Danson looks lively on the ball. If she can find space, she might be able to slip a pass through. In the sixth minute of the third quarter Sarah Haycroft picks the ball up in the circle, but the Irish keeper is quick out of goal and is able to smother it. Ireland clear their lines. England are starting to get behind the Irish defence. All that is needed now is a few more shots on goal.
In the tenth minute the Irish number 11, Megan Frazer, unleashes a hell of a shot towards the back post, but is unable to hit the target. 30 seconds later England give away a short corner. It’s shelled into a busy area and Ireland win another short and then a third in quick succession. This is saved by Maddie Hinch and England counter, a steady challenge from Duke slows the English down, but they regain possession. The Irish have regrouped though and the space isn’t there anymore. A firm pass to Danson at the near post leads to a deflection, but the angle is too tight and the ball goes out of play, behind the goal.
A long corner from Unsworth, to Bray and then to Hannah Martin, leads to a shot on goal and a short corner for England. A shot by Giselle Ansley, hits an Irish foot and there is another chance for the English. Unsworth’s shot is blocked by the first runner, the second phase leads to another in quick succession. This time the Irish win a free hit. Danson is immediately over to the umpire , saying that there was a hit to an Irish body. It’s given and the penalty corner stats are staking up for the women in red. A poor injection by Townsend is regained by Pearne-Webb, but the ball is eventually cleared by the Irish defence.
England are on the attack again. Townsend draws a foul. Danson is on the move quickly and sends the ball into the Irish circle. Another short corner. 5 seconds remain of the third period. It’s been all England. Ansley shots and it’s deflected over. End of the third period.
A crashed ball into the circle, brings out the big toe, of McFerran. She’s having a great torurnament. After two and a half minutes, England get the first short corner of the fourth quarter. We’ve got to do better here. A shot and a big kick away from Irish goalie and in the fourth minute McFerran turns another one away. She’s on fire tonight.
In the fifth minute a well worked combination into the circle sees a Townsend shot and another short corner and then another in quick succession. England have been wasteful with their set pieces so far, for a foot. Ireland refer this one. They are asking for an English back stick near the baseline, in the second phase of their previous set piece. The advice is that there is no clear reason to change the decision. Ireland lose their appeal. England get the set piece. The ball bounces up off of McFerran and England ask for a referral this time. It was dangerous off the keeper England are getting lucky here, with Ireland letting them back in all of the time. Another wasted chance, goes begging and now we start again.
The sixth minute sees a green card for Grace Balsdon, England down to ten players. Within 45 seconds Chloe Watkins joins Balsdon on the naughty step with a green herself. After eight minutes a short is given for England again. Ireland are struggling to get out of their own area. This time Ansley sends it home YEEEEEEESSSSSS!!!!!!
Ireland finally come out of their own half and Hinch has to block Nicola Evans upfront. Four minutes and thirty seconds are left and Ireland are coming back into it, looking for the equaliser. England find a bit of space with Hannah Martin getting a shot off, but McFerran is up to the challenge again. Any other keeper but McFerran and I reckon it could be three or four goals for England by now. Ireland flash another towards the back post, but it doesn’t find a touch in the circle. Danson turn and spins and gets a shot off, but it’s wide and a long corner is given. Danson is immediately to the umpire asking for a foot in the circle. Given, but saved and cleared.
It’s a 1 – 0 win for England, who progress to the cross over in second place. Ireland are straight through to the quarter finals as the group winners. India advance in third place and that’s the end of the group stages of the 2018 World Cup. Hollie Pearne-Webb is the Player of the Match.