ENGLAND reached the final of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games after beating New Zealand 3-1 at the National Hockey Centre on Friday.
However it took a penalty shoot-out to separate the two sides, who were a goal apiece at the end of normal time.
Lily Owsley’s first half effort to put England ahead was nullified late in the game by New Zealand’s Katie Glynn.
The first half was a cagey affair from two teams who know one another’s gameplay well.
New Zealand won a penalty corner on 17 minutes when England captain Kate Walsh’s clearance was turned-over on the England 23-metre line and the resulting attack found a foot in the circle.
The ebb and flow of attacks being broken down and countered continued for ten minutes before England broke the deadlock.
Sam Quek attacking down the right flank fed the ball into the energetic Alex Danson, whose reverse cross was picked up by Owsley, who slotted home on the reverse.
The Black Sticks called for a video referral, leaving the decision hanging for several minutes, before the video umpire confirmed the goal.
England added further pressure, Sophie Bray breaking down the left and passing the ball across the circle, but the ball rolled behind the on-running England strikers.
Shortly after another cross came unexpectedly to Danson, who deflected instinctively on her reverse, but well wide.
Seven minutes into the second half, New Zealand won a penalty corner, but were unable to convert from an Anita Punt dragflick.
England attacked again through Susie Gilbert who slammed the ball into the circle where diving Ellie Watton deflected it high and wide of the target.
Shortly after England won a penalty corner, Kate Walsh’s shot was into the body of NZ ‘keeper Sally Rutherford prone on the floor and the follow up shot from Georgie Twigg came of defender Emily Naylor’s stick and over the crossbar.
New Zealand won a penalty corner of their own shortly afterwards when the ball hit Holly Webb’s foot in the circle.
Captain Kayla Whitehead lined up for it, but the ball was switched left to Punt whose flick was deflected safely away from danger.
Whitehead was then forced to leave the field of play for five minutes, being shown a yellow card when the Black Sticks fielded 11 players after having had a Petrea Webster green carded.
Despite being a player down, Krystal Forgesson picked the ball up on the left, fired it into the circle where Katie Glynn neatly deflected it past England goalkeeper Maddie Hinch for an equaliser.
At the final hooter, England won a penalty corner, but the intended play, a flick into the pads of Rutherford for the loose ball to be swept home, was defended well, sending the game into a penalty shoot-out.
Going into the shoot-out, England gained the advantage when Punt missed New Zealand’s second attempt.
At 3-1, Bray had the chance to seal it for England, but shot wide of the left post.
It was down to Stacey Michelsen to keep the Kiwis in contention, but she hurried her play and the ball ran loose, to the delight of Hinch, swarmed by her team-mates.
Speaking after the game, New Zealand’s Katie Glynn said: “I think we dominated for periods, but we probably held on to the ball too much today and didn’t counter as well as we have in other games.”
Of the penalty shoot-out she said: “It is something we are not the best at, we have lost a few times in big games in shoot-outs now, I don’t know why.”
She added: “We will just go back, re-group and try and finish on a high as we still have a bronze medal to play for.”
England’s Sam Quek said: “I think it was a really good performance, we stuck to our gameplan.
“New Zealand have some fast forwards and fast players and I think at the end we just had a lapse in concentration.”
On the prospect of playing Australia in the gold medal match, she said: “On the pitch it is the minor details we need to pay attention to.
“Hopefully we can really take it to them, I am really excited.”