BY MAX HALL
Wimbledon ace Anna Toman may be in the midst of a hockey World Cup on home soil but it seems her South London club is never too far from her thoughts, thanks in part to a big supporting contingent at the tournament.
“I’ve been in contact with quite a few [Wimbledon HC] girls,” Toman told the South London Press in the wake of England’s 1-1 draw against the USA tonight. “Quite a few of them are even working here as ‘hockey makers’ [stewards], and it’s brilliant to get so many people involved from clubs around here.
“I know our club is so happy with us and what we’re achieving,” said Toman of the major role she and clubmate Suzy Petty are playing in the England campaign. “It’s also a first World Cup for both of us so they’re really behind us, it’s a brilliant club and it’s an exciting time for us both to be here.
“I think to play in any World Cup is unbelievable but a home World Cup is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and it’s something I’m not taking for granted, I’m so proud to step out there with my team-mates and wear the England shirt.”
Toman was once again in England coach David Ralph’s starting XI and clocked up a lot of minutes in a match which saw England again struggle to break down opponents many supporters would have expected them to beat, following Saturday’s 1-1 draw against India.
In fact it was Toman’s sharp drive that prompted England’s first penalty corner and there was a South London connection for the second set-piece, as a shot from Wandsworth-born Sarah Haycroft hit a defender’s foot. But, as on Saturday, England failed to take their chances, with Hannah Martin having already missed a glaring opportunity in the 23rd minute that would look very costly as the hooter sounded at the end.
It was Olympic hero Alex Danson, who else, who marked her 200th cap with a joint record-equalling 115th goal for her country but the cheers lasted barely four minutes before Hollie Pearne-Webb – playing in the right defence position Toman fills with such distinction – afforded Erin Matson too much time and space and the American squeezed a rising drive between England goalkeeper Maddie Hinch and her near post.
And it could have been even worse, with the hosts indebted to Hinch for a brilliant penalty-corner stop 72 seconds from time.
There is all to play for on Sunday, when England take on Ireland at 7pm at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Stadium at 7pm knowing defeat to a side that has already stunned the US could see them eliminated in the group stage.
The second-tier duo from Wimbledon may have to step up to the plate once more and show the gold medal winners how it’s done.
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