ENGLAND’s women ground out a hard-earned 2-1 win over Scotland to secure a place in Sunday’s final of the Investec London Cup.
A goal from Scotland’s Nikki Kidd was not enough after finishes from Alex Danson and Ellie Watton ensured the England ladies followed the men into the final at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.
The match was a scrappy affair though and despite England having the lion’s share of possession, their opponents worked hard to limit their chances.
England still seem to be suffering from the hangover of their penalty corner issues from the World Cup in The Hague with a Giselle Ansley flick charged down on seven minutes and a Kate Richardson Walsh effort skying over the bar eight minutes later.
England however showed sparks of their quality as Sophie Bray flashed a shot past the right post of goalkeeper Amy Gibson and it was Bray again the catalyst on 23 minutes working down the baseline and drawing the ball back to the waiting Alex Danson who slotted home.
Scotland continued to push forward when given the chance, and defensively mopped up much of what was being thrown at them, including a diving effort from Ellie Watton just before half-time.
Just two minutes after the break Watton’s endeavours were rewarded with a close-range finish.
Efforts followed soon after from Lucy Wood and the industrious Susannah Townsend, though both off -target.
Georgie Twigg made her first appearance in the second half, replacing Susie Gilbert who remained off for the remainder. And several England players were rotated to two or three positions as part of the squad’s pre-Commonwealth Games experimentation.
Scotland capitalised on a lapse in concentration earning a penalty corner in the 49th minute and Kidd’s flick fired into the backboard low to Maddie Hinch’s right.
England won a penalty corner soon after, but again failed to convert with Watton unable to deflect Richardson Walsh’s ball home.
Ten minutes later Laura Unsworth was given a yellow card, England having amassed already four green cards, one of those dished to Unsworth.
With England a player down, Ansley was dispossessed coming out of defence but Ali Bell was unable to punish her opponents and get a shot away.
Late in the game Nikki Kidd was given an opportunity to pull Scotland level from the top of the circle, but her low flick was skewed wide, leaving England to see out the final minutes untroubled.
Post-match, Kidd said: “I think when we came here, we were looking for a good performance and to improve every game and I think we have done that.”
England captain Richardson Walsh spoke of the ‘good buzz’ in the squad at present. Of the game, she said: “I think some of our corners were not quite there but they were good choices and on other days those go in.
“But overall we dominated the game.”
In the day’s earlier match, South Africa smashed Wales 8-2 to ensure their spot against England in Sunday’s final.
It was not all bad news for the Welsh though, scoring their first two goals of the tournament from slick penalty corner routines and 19-year-old goalkeeper Ella Jackson earned her first international cap.