BY MAX HALL
England 2 South Korea 0
Wimbledon HC’s Anna Toman and Suzy Petty, and Wandsworth-born Sarah Haycroft can look forward to a hockey World Cup quarter-final against tournament favourites the Netherlands on Thursday after another tight encounter tonight at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.
Once again the hosts made hard work of converting their dominance into goals in front of a near-10,000 crowd after an early Sophie Bray strike but Lily Owsley’s second late goal of the tournament sealed progress against South Korea in a crossover match.
The Koreans had switched to a kicking back goalkeeper in a desperate search for an equaliser as the minutes ticked down and Wimbeldon’s Toman charged down the inside-right channel on the break and fed Hollie Pearne-Webb who found a gap past backpedalling stand-in keeper Heesun Jang for Owsley to force the ball home and take the roof of the stadium.
Surbiton captain Haycroft had played a vital part in Bray’s opener, displaying perfect control to pluck a lofted 40-yard ball from Giselle Ansley out of the air in the Korea circle before Rio gold medal winner Bray beat visiting keeper Su Ji Choi at the second time of asking.
With Surbiton’s Ansley seeing a penalty corner saved by a diving Choi at the close of the first period, England and GB ace Alex Danson and Susannah Townsend both went close twice in the second quarter as the second-seed hosts tried to establish a comfortable lead against lower-ranked opponents for the first time in Stratford.
Seul Ki Cheon forced a block from England keeper Maddie Hinch in the 37th minute as the third quarter settled into more of a stalemate but Toman almost found a way through six minutes later, twisting and turning near halfway before breaking down the right and crossing, though Hannah Martin was unable to get in front of her marker.
Danson raised roars from the crowd with a couple of late incursions down the left before Korea dispensed with their keeper three minutes from time to throw the kitchen sink at England and forced three crucial interventions from Hinch in a circle busier than a rush-hour Central Line carriage.
Owsley saw England home at the death but a tougher test awaits against the Dutch on Thursday.
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