England Women’s Team started off their EuroHockey Championship 2023 campaign on a high as they beat Ireland 3-0 in their opening match held in Mönchengladbach, Germany on Friday.
Grace Balsdon (8′), Tessa Howard (21′) and Hannah Martin (48′) scored a goal each to help earn three crucial points.
Although it was Ireland who made a dominating start to the match, with dangerous runs inside the English striking circle, it was England who managed to break the deadlock through a penalty stroke in the eighth minute. England sneaked into the Irish circle and managed to draw a penalty stroke, which was duly converted by Balsdon.
Ireland continued with their high press, making a few attacking forays, but England’s defence kept them at bay to end the first quarter with a 1-0 lead.
Having shrugged off early jitters, England looked more dangerous in the second quarter. They went on to double the lead through Howard’s field goal in the 21st minute. She slotted the ball home with a subtle deflection in front of the goal, wrong-footing the Irish goalkeeper.
England rode on the momentum and went on to earn their first penalty corner of the match, but missed out converting it as Owsley’s deflection from close range missed the target. England enjoyed ball possession for the majority of the second quarter, they made timely inroads, but Ireland denied them from scoring the third goal.
England started the third quarter on the front foot having won as many as three penalty corners inside the first two minutes but missed out on converting them. England dominated the proceedings but couldn’t capitalise on it.
Both teams earned penalty corners in the final two minutes of the third quarter but couldn’t take advantage of the opportunities. The scoreline remained intact at 2-0 in favour of England.
It was a similar start to the final quarter, with England dominating the ball possession and looking to extend their lead. They were successful in making it 3-0 through Martin’s field goal in the 48th minute. It was Hunt who orchestrated it with a fiery strike into the Irish goalkeeper, who lost sight of the ball and found Martin in the right place at the right time. She found the back of the net from very close range in front of the goal to put England in the driver’s seat.
England went on to earn yet another penalty corner but missed out on converting it. They slowed down the proceedings in the dying stages of the match, ensuring a clean sheet and crucial three points.
Reflecting on the performance, Alex Malzer, who was awarded the player of the match said, “It didn’t start the way we wanted to start, but we felt we have got the momentum and 3-0 in our first game, so it’s good.
“We’ve just got to go forward, bring the energy, bring the momentum and hopefully get a goal. I think it was just our mindset, we stuck to our processes, we didn’t change anything and truly believed we can win,” she added.
They will take on the hosts Germany on 20 August at 04:30PM UK Time.