ENGLAND 0 (0)
CHINA 0 (0)
England's Helen Richardson saw her late penalty stroke saved by China goalkeeper Zhang Yimeng as the 2010 bronze medal winners played out a 0-0 draw with the Olympic silver medalists in their final Pool A match at the Champions Trophy. The result means that England must await the outcome of Korea's match with Argentina, which will determine whether Korea or England join Argentina in Pool C to compete for medals.
In what was an open match, England's hard work and endeavour was evident throughout as they looked to take maximum points from the match but things did not quite fall for them. Head Coach Danny Kerry said afterwards that he was proud of the effort his team had put in, adding, "We had lots of pressure at the end of the match but we couldn't convert that into a penalty corner or a clear opportunity. We worked hard but with the running we did and the openness of the game fatigue crept in towards the end."
Together in the world rankings with China fourth and England fifth and together in Pool A with one point each, previous results meant both sides went looking for the victory that would give them the best chance to progress to the medal pool. In their five previous meetings at the Champions Trophy prior to the match, China had won twice and the sides had drawn twice with England winning 2-1 on home turf in Nottingham last July courtesy of goals from Helen Richardson and Charlotte Craddock.
Reading goalkeeper Beth Storry returned to the side having sat out on Sunday and clubmate Sam Quek also featured, starting on the bench, Clifton's 20 year old forward Georgie Twigg made her first start in the tournament having come off the bench against Argentina and Korea.
A lively start saw England Leicester's Laura Unsworth shoot over before Helen Richardson won a penalty corner but England could not take advantage. China won a penalty corner of their own shortly after but the shot from the top of the circle flew wide of Storry's goal.
There was no lack of endeavour throughout the first half but clear cut chances were few and far between. Midway through, Reading's Anna Bennett had a half chance during a scrappy moment inside the Chinese circle but the team in yellow cleared the danger before she could finish.
Moments later, China's counter attack looked to have won a penalty corner but England successfully appealed to the video umpire, who overturned the decision to award the corner on the grounds that the ball struck an English stick, not the foot.
Five minutes from the break Helen Richardson came close at the other end but her back post deflection from a penalty corner went wide; and on the stroke of half time Alex Danson's shot was saved by China goalkeeper Zhang Yimeng.
Despite edging the first half in shots and possession statistics, England found themselves on the back foot early in the second half and were grateful Beth Storry as she pulled off a good one-on-one save after a long ball had split the English defence. China then fired a cross through the circle before England regained possession.
In the space of five minutes China's Li Hongxia and England's Sam Quek were both shown green cards for bad tackles resulting in two minute suspensions for each.
Having survived the Chinese pressure and shown plenty of spirit, England found themselves with the opportunity to win the match from the penalty spot with just six minutes remaining. Excellent play between Richardson and Danson culminated in the ball striking a defender's foot on the goal line and England were awarded the penalty stroke. Richardson stepped up but the midfielder, who was England's top goal scorer in the 2010 Champions Trophy, saw her effort saved by Zhang, who stepped right to glove the ball away in front of her face.
England's response to the disappointment of the penalty was to pile on the pressure, dominating the latter stages of the match but failing to convert their dominance.
England now await the outcome of Argentina v Korea. If Argentina wins by two goals or more over Korea, England will progress to Pool C from second place in Pool A on account of their superior goal difference. If Korea beats Argentina, there's a draw or Argentina wins by one goal, Korea will pip England to second and England and China will go into Pool D for fifth to eighth places.
Squad v China
England Squad for Rabo Champions Trophy, 25 June - 3 July
*caps and goals statistics updated on the attached sheet
Name (Club) Position
Beth Storry (Reading) Goalkeeper
Crista Cullen (Leicester) Defender
Laura Unsworth (Leicester) Defender
Kate Walsh (C) (Reading) Defender
Sally Walton (Bowdon Hightown) Defender
Helen Richardson (Reading) Midfield
Chloe Rogers (Leicester) Midfield
Georgie Twigg (Clifton) Midfield
Anna Bennett (Reading) Forward
Alex Danson (Reading) Forward
Hannah Macleod (Leicester) Forward
Sam Quek (Reading) Defender
Ashleigh Ball (Slough) Midfield
Anne Panter (Leicester) Midfield
Rebecca Herbert (Leicester) Forward
Nicola White (Slough) Forward
Did Not Play
Madeleine Hinch (Leicester) Goalkeeper
Kerry Williams (Leicester) Forward