Sophie Bray shows her class to lead England to Bronze

England 6 (1)
Pearne-Webb (PC, 27); Bray (FG, 43; FG, 49; FG, 56); Unsworth (FG, 55); Danson (FG, 57)
 
India 0 (0)
 
Sophie Bray was England’s hero as they won their sixth consecutive Commonwealth Games medal, securing bronze with a crushing victory over India.
 
The Kampong forward scored a 13-minute hat-trick – including an outrageous 43rd minute effort from the edge of the circle –while also pulling off two brilliant blocks on the line from penalty corners.
 
Having struggled for rhythm early on – with Maddie Hinch making a number of crucial saves – England produced a second half masterclass, with Laura Unsworth and Alex Danson also finding the net late on after Hollie Pearne-Webb opened the scoring shortly before half-time.
 
That result gave Team England their 100th medal of Gold Coast 2018 while also ensuring this is the 10th consecutive year the women have medalled at a major tournament as England or Great Britain.
 
Following on from their semi-final shoouout defeat to New Zealand, England began this game slowly with Gurjit Kaur denied by Hinch and then Emily Defroand from consecutive eighth minute corners.
 
At the other end England’s only chance of note early on was an Unsworth corner which was saved by Savita, who then showed smart reflexes to prevent a diving Ellie Rayer from scoring in the 17th minute.
 
Ten minutes later England opened the scoring as Pearne-Webb recovered well from an initial mistrap to smash the ball beyond Savita and give her side the all-important half-time lead.
 
It was India who started the second half on top though with three corners in quick succession, only for Bray to block Monika’s poke towards goal after Hinch saved Rani’s strike from the first before Ellie Watton read the third to perfection, intercepting the ball before the Indian captain could strike.
 
Hinch then produced two crucial saves in just over a minute to deny Vandana Katariya and Lalremsiami to preserve England’s lead, while at the other end Unsworth flashed a shot wide after being found by a beautiful Pearne-Webb pass on the diagonal.
 
Bray then took the game by the scruff of the neck as she produced a wondrous backhand strike, lifting the ball into the top corner, to double England’s lead before grabbing her second to secure the win in the 49th minute, with another fantastic goal-line clearance coming in between.
 
Unsworth then classily swept the ball past Savita from a tight angle to make it four before 27-year-old Bray completed her hat-trick with four minutes remaining.
 
There was still time for her to turn provider as well as she set up captain Alex Danson for England’s sixth to cap off an imperious performance, one which will provide them with the perfect platform to build on ahead of this summer’s Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup.
Speaking after the match on the future of this team Sophie said,
“It’s an extremely talented group, we’ve been working really hard and I think there are very special things to come from this group.”

Alexandra DANSON (ENG) – bronze

On the outcome of the game:

“It was a resilient performance. We’ve got a very big, very talented squad. It’s a fantastic way to end this performance. It’s a relief when you’ve done the work at home, and you’ve got the tactics and the ability as individuals in the team to play. It’s all about the mindset, how you feel going into the match. How you talk, how you think, and how you stand.”

 
England Starting XI: Hinch (GK), Ansley, Balsdon, Toman, Pearne-Webb, Unsworth, Haycroft, Townsend, Watton, Bray, Danson (C)
 
Subs: Tennant (GK), Petty, Lane, Defroand, Martin, Hunter, Rayer
Images: World Sport Pics | England Hockey

 

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