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Commonwealth Games 2018: Penalty pain for England women

PUBLISHED: 15:30 12 April 2018

England captain Alex Danson (pic Nigel French/PA)

England captain Alex Danson (pic Nigel French/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

England's women face a battle for the bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Australia on Saturday after suffering penalty shuffles heartbreak in their semi-final.

After a tense 0-0 draw with New Zealand, England saw Hannah Martin convert one of their five efforts in the shoot-out, but Samantha Harrison and Stacey Michelsen netted in reply on the Gold Coast.

England, with Havering’s Emily Defroand among their line-up, had beaten South Africa (2-0), Wales (5-1) and Malaysia (3-0) to top their qualifying group, despite a 2-1 loss to India.

And after Maddie Hinch made early saves from Anita McLaren and Harrison, they began to get on top against New Zealand.

Hollie Pearne-Webb saw a short corner strike saved by Sally Rutherford, while captain Alex Danson was also denied and Sophie Bray had an effort smothered.

The Black Sticks also had chances, but Hinch kept out Kelsey Smith as the first half ended goalless.

Play continued to swing back and forth in the second half and England went agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock on 43 minutes when Laura Unsworth’s corner was deflected off the line and just wide of the post by Brooke Neal.

England then had an escape as Giselle Ansley deflected McLaren’s drag flick off the line at the other end, early in the final quarter, before Sarah Haycroft found the net on her birthday, only to find the whistle had already gone.

Hinch produced another good block to thwart the dangerous Michelsen and, in the final seconds, pulled off a stunning save to keep out Olivia Merry’s hard-hit shot and force shuffles.

But Hinch, who remained unbeaten when Great Britain beat the Netherlands on shuffles in the 2016 Rio Olympic final, could not repeat that feat this time as England’s hopes of returning home with a gold medal were shattered.

Head coach Danny Kerry and his support staff will now have to pick the players up for their bronze medal play-off – which starts at 1.30am on Saturday British time – when they will face either hosts Australia or India.

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