Commonwealth Games Semi-Final
England 0 New Zealand 0 (England win 2-0 in shootout)
England maintained their hopes of a maiden Commonwealth Games Gold Medal, beating New Zealand 2-0 in a shootout after an entertaining goalless draw at the University of Birmingham, to earn a place in the final against Australia at 3 pm BST on Sunday. Australia also needed a shootout to win the second semi-final against India, coming out on top 3-0 after a 1-1 draw in normal time.
Once again, England goalkeeper Maddie Hinch proved that she had done her homework, saving all four New Zealand attempts, while there was a mini Surbiton reunion as Izzy Petter and Hannah Martin, both returning to the Sugden Road club for the 2022-23 season found a way to outwit former Surbiton goalkeeper Grace O’Hanlon and end the Black Sticks reign as Commonwealth Games champions33.
The game started with a flurry of penalty corners, England winning two in succession by the third minute, Giselle Ansley having the first shot deflected wide of the goal and then drag-flicking the ball past the right post.
New Zealand immediately responded with two penalty corners of their own in the fourth minute, Megan Hull having a shot blocked from the first and then Hinch making a double save from the second, the first from Hull and the second from Tessa Jopp.
Then the penalty corner count eased as both teams fashioned chances out of open play, Holly Hunt unlucky not to put England ahead in the sixth minute with a strike hitting the post before Hinch was kept busy by Olivia Merry and Katie Doar, who had scored twice for the Black Sticks in their 3-1 win in the World Cup a month earlier.
New Zealand lost Rose Tynan in the seventh minute after she went to ground and was given a ten minute yellow card suspension. England failed to take advantage, suffering a lesser penalty as Sophie Hamilton was sent to the sin-bin after seeing green in the tenth minute.
Shortly after Tynan’s suspension ended in the 17th minute, it was England’s turn to have a single player disadvantage with Giselle Ansley sitting on the naughty step after a quick game of musical chairs with Shona McCallin.
The second quarter was largely uneventful although Laura Unsworth’s long pass was deflected past the right post by Tess Howard just before half time.
The third quarter saw two yellow card suspensions within seconds of the start and end of the quarter with Unsworth banished after just 14 seconds of the second half for knocking the ball away and Hope Ralph sent to the sideline with just 7.5 seconds remaining after the umpires lost patience with the Black Sticks’ tactics.
In between, the penalty corner count resumed with Olivia Merry’s shot bravely blocked by Fiona Crackles and Hinch saving from Stephanie Dickins as New Zealand tried to find the breakthrough.
At the other end, Ansley was thwarted again after her shot was deemed to be dangerous and O’Hanlon saved from Flora Peel before Hinch again thwarted Hull from New Zealand’s fifth and last penalty corner.
In the fourth quarter, England forced four penalty corners but couldn’t find a way through the New Zealand defence, Anna Crowley’s upright stick coming to the Black Sticks’ rescue in a pressurised sixth penalty corner which saw Ansley, Lily Owsley and Hollie Pearne-Webb all have shots on goal.
New Zealand were clearly unhappy when they lost their right to a video referral in the 49th minute after claiming there was no foot, but O’Hanlon saved Anna Toman’s shot to keep the game scoreless. With eight minutes remaining, Hamilton set up a chance for McCallin to send the ball past the left post but although Martin had a late shot blocked, the game was destined to be decided by a shootout.
New Zealand had ended England’s hopes of reaching the final in a shootout after a goalless draw on the Gold Coast in 2018 and England avenged that loss after both Hinch and O’Hanlon dominated the first efforts.
The Black Sticks went first with Ralph going round Hinch but getting the angle wrong to shoot past the left post. Tess Howard ran out of time after having a shot blocked by O’Hanlon.
Hinch saved from Tynan to keep the shootout score goalless but Lily Owsley was also denied by O’Hanlon as the goalkeepers were on top. Katie Doar ran out of time from New Zealand’s third attempt after yet another Hinch save, but Petter stepped up and found the backboard to put England ahead.
With Hinch also saving from Olivia Shannon’s fourth attempt, Martin was on course to book England’s place in the final and she made no mistake although her shot was probably not her most powerful, but the ball slipped just inside the left post to make the other England players run towards the goal and celebrate a guaranteed medal.
England will make their fourth appearance in a Gold Medal match, having lost 8-1 to Australia in 1998; 3-2 to India after extra time in 2002 and 3-1 to Australia in a shootout after a 1-1 draw in normal time and will maintain their record of winning a medal at every Commonwealth Games.
Starters: Maddie Hinch (GK); Laura Unsworth, Anna Toman, Hannah Martin, Ellie Rayer, Izzy Petter, Giselle Ansley, Hollie Pearne-Webb (Capt.), Fiona Crackles, Lily Owsley, Flora Peel.
Subs: Holly Hunt (3 mins), Tess Howard (3), Lily Walker (5), Sophie Hamilton (5), Shona McCallin (5), Grace Balsdon (6).
Sub not used: Sabbie Heesh (GK).
Cards: Green: Sophie Hamilton (7 mins), Giselle Ansley (18 mins). Yellow: Laura Unsworth (31 mins)
Starters: Tarryn Davey, Olivia Shannon, Olivia Merry, Frances Davies, Hope Ralph, Aniwaka Haumaha, Grace O’Hanlon (GK), Stephanie Dickins, Tessa Jopp, Megan Hull (Capt.), Katie Doar.
Subs: Kaitlin Cotter (3), Tyler Lench (4), Anna Crowley (5), Alex Lukin (6), Alia Jaques (6), Rose Tynan (6).
Sub not used: Brooke Roberts (GK).
Cards: Yellow: Rose Tynan (7 mins) – 10 mins suspension; Hope Ralph (45 mins) – 5 mins suspension.
Umpires: Aleisha Neumann (Australia) and Wanri Venter (South Africa)