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CWG22: England Top India in Hard Fought Battle

Commonwealth Games Pool A

India 1 England 3

England beat India in a hard fought encounter at the University of Birmingham on Tuesday afternoon to stay on course to finish top of Pool A and if they beat Wales on Thursday, will qualify for the semi-finals as pool winners by winning all their pool games for the first time in Commonwealth Games history.

The hosts matched their 2006 record of winning their first three pool games, beating Canada 5-0, Scotland 5-0 and Barbados 10-0 in Melbourne. But for Vandana Katariya’s penalty corner conversion with mere seconds remaining, England would also have matched their record of keeping three successive clean sheets.

England had drawn 1-1 with India in both teams’ first match at the Women’s World Cup in Amsteelveen and the matchup in Birmingham proved to be equally competitive, even when England battled to a three goal lead midway through the final quarter.

India suffered an early setback, Giselle Ansley converting England’s second penalty corner of the match in the third minute, an Indian defender deflecting the ball above the board, requiring the umpires to confirm the deflection via a video referral.

Nine minutes later, India also lost their right to a video referral following an outstanding reaction save by England goalkeeper Maddie Hinch, preventing the ball from crossing the goal-line. India challenged the decision not to award a goal but Hinch’s heroics confirmed that India would lose their video referral.

England were in the ascendancy in the first quarter with Flora Peel unlucky not to be in position to convert Lily Owsley’s cross and Ellie Rayer’s shot going past the right post. With 6 seconds remaining in the first period, India won their first penalty corner but Hinch denied Gurjit Kaur to preserve England’s advantage.

India ramped up the pressure in the second quarter by forcing two penalty corners, Hinch saving from Deep Grace Ekka and Gurjit Kaur firing wide of the goal. Towards the end of the first half, England seemed to go through a period of not being focused under Indian pressure, but held on to their single goal lead at half time.

Rayer was frustrated twice early in the third quarter, attacking down the left as India defended well, with Sophie Hamilton having a shot blocked and Tess Howard’s follow-up shot whistling past the left post.

Indian resistance was broken in the 40th minute when Howard deflected Hamilton’s cross high into the roof of the net just inside the left post after Hamilton ran towards the Indian goal.

Trailing 2-0, India forced two quick penalty corners, Gurjit Kaur forcing another save from Hinch and Monika unable to get the ball on target. Vandana also tested Hinch before the end of the third quarter.

England needed Hinch again at the start of the fourth quarter as Salima Tete and Devi Sharmila tried to get India back into the match.

India then received a sucker punch in the 52nd minute as the Anna Toman and Hannah Martin penalty corner combination worked wonders for the third time in the tournament, Martin deflecting Toman’s drag-flick to give England a 3-0 lead. The goal was only awarded after an umpire video referral to check whether the injection was trapped completely outside the circle.

With just 9.6 seconds remaining, India won their eighth penalty corner of the match, which Vandana duly converted to make the final score 3-1.

England face Wales on Thursday at 1100. England last faced Wales in the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018, when England won 5-1. Wales have lost all four previous meetings, 6-0 in 1978; 4-1 in 2010 and 2-0 in 2014.

India:

Scorer: Vandana Katariya 60-PC

Starters: Gurjit Kaur, Deep Grace Ekka, Sharmila Devi, Savita (GK and Capt.), Vandana Katariya, Udita, Jyoti, Navneet Kaur, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Salima Tete, Neha.

Subs: Sonika (3 mins), Nikki Pradhan (4), Sangita Kumari (5), Nisha (5), Lalremsiami (5), Monika (6).

Sub not used: Rajani Etimarpu (GK).

Cards: Green: Jyoti (35 mins).

England:

Scorers: Giselle Ansley 18-PC, Tess Howard 40-F, Hannah Martin 52-PC

Starters: Maddie Hinch (GK); Laura Unsworth, Anna Toman, Hannah Martin, Ellie Rayer, Izzy Petter, Giselle Ansley, Hollie Pearne-Webb (GK); Fiona Crackles, Lily Owsley, Flora Peel.

Subs: Holly Hunt (3 mins), Tess Howard (3), Shona McCallin (3), Sophie Hamilton (4), Grace Balsdon (4), Lily Walker (5).

Sub not used: Sabbie Heesh (GK).

Cards: Green: Hannah Martin (17 mins), Flora Peel (23 mins).

Umpires: Wanri Venter (South Africa) and Cookie Tan (Singapore).

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