It was a night that belonged to Alex Danson, who collected her 200th cap and scored her 115th England and Great Britain goal, drawing her level with record-scorer Marjorie Pollard.
The England striker was just 16 when she made her debut in 2001. Since this date, she has grown into one of the foremost international players and had an illustrious career, the highlight of which saw her score five goals in Great Britain’s gold-medal winning campaign at the 2016 Olympics.
She said afterwards: “I just look at the stadium tonight and the overriding feeling with 10,000 supporters here I feel very proud of how far our sport has come during my career.
“It was incredibly special but for me playing in this game is special, walking out with my team mates of present and past is the hugest honour.”
With a sense of inevitability, she scored tonight – and it was a wonderful strike. It wasn’t enough to earn her country a win, though, with England being held 1-1 in a well-fought match against the US.
The result makes it successive 1-1 draws for the hosts in Group B following Saturday’s stalemate with India. They were always going to be in for a fight against America, who have gained a reputation for their never-say-die attitude and surprised more than a few by finishing fourth at the last World Cup.
The last three matches between the two nations have either been won by the odd goal or by a shootout.
The first quarter of the game was narrowly edged by the US, with their typical high-energy performance denying England so much as a circle entry.
It took until the second quarter for England to emerged as a force, with Susannah Townsend at the forefront. They won their first short corner of the match in the 20thminute, with Rayer deflecting just wide.
This was followed by another in the 26th minute, when the initial shot from the top of the ‘D’ was blocked, with the ball eventually finding its way skyward to Townsend. Improvising, she smashed the ball tennis style onto the woodwork, to gasps from the 10,000 crowd.
The hosts opened the scoring in the 34th minute, and naturally it was Danson with the goal. With great dexterity and directness, she evaded a number of US challenges before entering the ‘D’ and rifling a backhand into the bottom right corner. A fantastic strike.
It took only four minutes for America to level things up, and this time it was the turn of one of the new generation, with 18-year-old Erin Matson scoring a similarly excellent goal.
Latching on to the end of an American counter-attack, she was fed the ball at the top-left of the ‘D’ and hit a stinging reverse that flew past Hinch and rippled the net.
The US had the better chances to win the game, earning two short corners in quick succession at the death, but the latter was miscontrolled at the top of the ‘D’ and both sides accepted the draw.
One of England’s best players on the night, Susannah Townsend, said afterwards: “The game today was a step up to the India game. Both teams had their chances to put the game away and I think we dominated purely because we put in the fight.
“Personally, I think we should have come away with the win today with the way we played, but it didn’t happen.”
Townsend also had a moment to heap praise on her teammate Danson, saying: “I know that the one person I would want on my team is Alex Danson and whether she is having a good game or not she shows that fight and she is a leader on the pitch.”