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Hockey - 07. September 2010.

World Champion Dutch likely to be England’s semi final opponents

England Hockey Results Service, BDO FIH World Cup

Rosario, Argentina


Monday 6 September 2010



Noel Barrionuevo 13 (PC)                      

Daniela Sruoga 67 (F)               




England captain Kate Walsh faces down Argentina’s Augustina Soledad Garcia during their Pool B encounter at the BDO FIH World Cup in Rosario.
photo Grant Treesby



England will almost certainly meet reigning World, Olympic and European champions the Netherlands in the semi finals of the BDO FIH World Cup after their unbeaten start to the tournament was ended by the hosts Argentina.


At times it was 11 against 12011 as the partisan home crowd turned the purpose built stadium into a cauldron of noise in support of their team, who won 2-0 with a goal in either half.  Set piece expert Noel Barrionuevo’s first half penalty corner gave Argentina a slender lead at the break with England defending well against the pace of the Argentine attack.  England were resolute in the second period without creating many chances of their own and it took until three minutes from time for Daniela Sruoga to guarantee victory with an excellent reverse stick effort that went in off the back post, sparking scenes of celebration in the stands.


Afterwards, Head Coach Danny Kerry paid tribute to how his side dealt with the pressure of the match, which he had previously called “a sporting moment of a lifetime”.  “We contained them throughout,” he said.  “Helen Richardson had a great game and was our best player.  I was very proud of how our team coped well with the 12000 strong crowd.”


Both sides were certain of progression to the semi finals prior to the clash, allowing them to concentrate on game plans and leading to an entertaining contest.  Clifton’s Georgie Twigg came back into the England side having missed Saturday’s 2-1 victory over South Africa with Leicester’s Hannah Macleod sitting out.


Despite beating Argentina in their opening match at the Samsung FIH Champions Trophy in Nottingham in July, England’s record against the South Americans indicated they were in for a tough contest.  Prior to the Nottingham victory, England had not beaten Las Leonas since 1990, when they won 1-0 on their way to fourth place at the Sydney World Cup.  The 2-1 victory in Nottingham was England’s sixth win in 17 meetings, with two draws and nine defeats.


As the teams lined up for the national anthems and the tension rose, Leandro Negre, President of the International Hockey Federation, presented England captain Kate Walsh with a bouquet of flowers on the occasion of her 250th international appearance, 165 of which have been for England with a further 85 for Great Britain.


When the match got underway the players were met with a wall of noise that only seemed to get louder every time six times World Player of the Year Luciana Aymar touched the ball.


In an even start, it was the hosts that won the game’s first penalty corner in the fourth minute.  A double switch to the left set up Aymar for a shot on goal but Crista Cullen made an excellent tackle before the Argentina captain could set her sights.


England showed early on that they would look to attack when they could and a minute after Cullen’s tackle, Reading forward Alex Danson flashed a cross through the Argentina circle from the right wing.


The pace of the match was exceptional and Argentina won their second corner in the 13th minute after the ball came up off the stick of Georgie Twigg inside the England circle.  From the corner, to a deafening roar from the capacity crowd, Noel Barrionuevo flicked powerfully home beyond Beth Storry, who threw herself to her right but who was beaten by the sheer pace of the shot.  It was Barrionuevo’s fifth goal of the tournament, all of them from penalty corners.


Breaking quickly at every opportunity, Argentina’s Augustina Soledad Garcia threatened twice either side a Twigg green card as she unleashed lightning reverse stick shots wide of each of Beth Storry’s posts, the second having been diverted off the outstretched stick of Kate Walsh.


For the majority of the first period England found themselves under pressure from the world’s number two side but coped admirably.  Leicester defender Cullen was again out quickly to Argentina’s third penalty corner in the 31st minute and Kate Walsh cleared the second phase of the attack.  With England having cleared and the ball high in the Argentina half, Luciana Aymar appealed belatedly to umpire Julie Ashton-Lucy for a team referral to the video umpire for what she believed was a foot inside the English circle at the corner.  Replays showed though that Cullen blocked with her stick and Walsh tackled fairly and Argentina lost their right for further referrals.


With just one goal separating the sides at the break there was all to play for in the second half as both sides vied to top Pool B.


The second half began encouragingly for England with Leicester midfielder Chloe Rogers working her way behind the Argentina defence and along the baseline from where she cut the ball back to Helen Richardson at the top of the circle.  Finding space on her reverse, England’s tournament top scorer saw her shot blocked by a defender who cleared the danger.


There followed a spell where both sides traded possession in the midfield before England’s Sally Walton had to use the team referral to overturn a decision to give Argentina a penalty corner.  A fourth penalty corner was awarded after Carla Rebecchi found Walsh’s foot inside the circle as she broke at pace; Bowdon Hightown’s Walton was then green carded for an earlier foul.  Argentina switched the corner left but the ball back into the circle hit an Argentine foot.


Goalkeeper Beth Storry stuck out a leg to save Delfina Merino’s close range flick in the 51st minute.  Less than five minutes later the umpires showed yellow cards to University of Birmingham’s Susie Gilbert for a shove and Argentina’s Rebecchi for a rash tackle around the ankles of Canterbury defender Natalie Seymour, a decision that did not go down well with the vocal crowd. 


While both sides played with ten, Crista Cullen pulled out a top drawer tackle just in front of Storry to prevent Rosario Luchetti from finishing from close range.  Soon after, just as in the previous match against South Africa, England found themselves down to nine as Ashleigh Ball joined Gilbert on the sidelines for a foul in the midfield.  Argentina failed to capitalise on the numerical advantage and it was in fact England that threatened a goal; popping up in the right channel Cullen entered the circle but hit her shot into the near sideboard.


At the other end, Reading pair Helen Richardson and Kate Walsh combined to thwart Aymar as she ran marauding into the circle. 


While just the one goal down England still had a chance of an equaliser and Slough’s Nicola White and University of Birmingham’s Susie Gilbert combined well to work their way into the circle but Argentina defended solidly. 


With just three minutes remaining, Argentina’s 22 year old Daniela Sruoga made sure of Las Leonas’ place at the top of Pool B with a fantastic reverse stick strike that flew across goal, going in off the back post to give Argentina a 2-0 victory.


Afterwards, Head Coach Danny Kerry spoke about his side’s inability to break down the Argentina defence but praised his charges for the way they coped in such a highly charged atmosphere: “Our younger players failed to break down a defensive Argentina tonight,” he said, before adding, “We contained them throughout.  Helen Richardson had a great game and was our best player.  I was very proud of how our team coped well with the 12000 strong crowd.”


Talking about the gap between the sides, the coach added: “Argentina are better than us but that gap is closing.”


England’s semi final opponents are almost certain to the Netherlands, who sit top of Pool A, three points clear of Germany and Australia with a superior goal difference and just one game remaining, against winless Japan.  Australia and Germany meet in their final Pool B fixture on Tuesday vying to join the Dutch, Argentina and England in the semi finals.

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