Ireland fall 1-0 to world number 2 England despite superb defensive effort throughout.
England certainly edged the possession stats in the opening exchanges and it was their captain Alex Danson that drew the first save of the game but Ayeisha McFerran continued her fine form and booted the ball clear. Ali Meeke and Nicci Daly combined well at the other end for the latter of the two to send a pass across the circle but there was nobody on the back post for the tap in.
England won 3 penalty corners in the opening quarter but Yvonne O’Byrne put huge pressure on Laura Unsworth at the top of the circle to prevent her efforts. Likewise Shirley McCay made a phenomenal diving deflection to send Ellie Watton’s close range shot wide. O’Byrne was also the creator of a chance for the Green Army but Deirdre Duke couldn’t slip her marker for the shot.
Similarly McCay charged out of defence on more than occasion and forced Maddie Hinch into a save as Katie Mullan lingered at the post. The half ended with England notching up 13 circle entries but the discipline and structure of the Green Army defence limited the clear cut chances.
McFerran was called upon to make yet another great save as Sarah Haycroft poached the ball in the circle but she made the double save and cleared with her stick. Megan Frazer reminded everyone of her enviable skills as she left 2 defenders in her wake and fired the shot goalward only for it to be deflected wide. The Green Army won 3 penalty corner’s in quick succession with the final one being saved by Hinch.
England continued to rack up their own penalty corners, amassing 15 in total, and they broke the deadlock in the 53rdminute courtesy of Giselle Ansley’s drag flick that was deflected into the net. The Green Army very nearly had an equaliser in the dying moments as Anna O’Flanagan sent the ball into the circle but Duke couldn’t get the vital touch.
Regardless of the result, Ireland still sit top of Pool B and progress to the quarter finals on Thursday where they will play either India or Italy.
Commenting on the result, head coach Graham Shaw said “I cannot fault our players, I’m very proud of their effort. We need to learn from moments and phases in the game, but it’s a different atmosphere and environment than we’ve ever played in before, and I thought our players reacted superbly. From the very first minute they worked incredibly hard and stayed compact”.
Starting: N Evans, K Mullan (Captain), S McCay, G Pinder, R Upton, A McFerran, C Watkins, L Colvin, H Matthews, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson
Subs: G O’Flanagan, Y O’Byrne, M Frazer, E Tice, N Daly, D Duke, A Meeke
Ireland’s Pool B Vitality Hockey World Cup Fixtures:
Ireland 3vs1 USA 21/7/18 6pm
Ireland 1vs0 India 26/7/18 2pm
Ireland 0vs1 England 29/7/18 7pm
Quarter Final Ireland vs India or Italy 2/8/18 8:15pm