Commonwealth GamesSport

South London ‘Wall’ holds firm as England take hockey gold

By Max Hall

England women’s hockey team seized a historic first Commonwealth gold – thanks in no small measure to three South London bricks in the defensive wall that repeatedly repelled Australia.

The Wimbledon trio said the Lionesses’ Euro glory at Wembley last week had spurred them on and said they hoped the legacy of this great win would be ‘to put women’s hockey on the map.’

Fiona Crackles had taken a heavy hit in the first half as England defended a two-goal lead at Edgbaston and she was there again, throwing her body in the way three times in succession as Australia pushed late on with a succession of penalty corners.

It is a short-corner defence Team England call ‘The Wall’, Anna Toman told the South London Press, and Toman and clubmate Hollie Pearne-Webb were alongside Crackles as England’s defence held firm five minutes from time.

“She’s done an incredible job,” said Toman of Crackles. “[England goalkeeper] Maddie Hinch set us up to fill in the corners.  We like to call it The Wall, where we run two people out and [Australia have] a good drag-flick on the top of the D, so those people’s job is to charge it down and they did an absolutely brilliant job. It was nice to see it was Wimbledon girls as well.”

By that late stage England were two goals up thanks to a decisive second quarter which saw Flora Peel twice hurl in inviting crosses that were snapped up by Holly Hunt and Tess Howard.

Toman thought she had secured gold for England in the third quarter when her fiercely-hit penalty corner cracked off the right hand post.

“I was half celebrating,” said Toman, “I thought the goal was going in but obviously it didn’t so then we’ve got a job to do.

“Two-nil isn’t a big score in international hockey so it was important that we then concentrated on the match and you saw what happened at the end. It was unfortunate, that, but you stay switched on.”

Toman was referring to Australia’s late strike, 19.4 seconds from time which proved too little, too late as Team England followed in the footsteps of the Lionesses the previous weekend.

“It was absolutely inspirational seeing the Lionesses last weekend,” said Toman. “That was a big leap forward for women’s sport but us, obviously, we want it to be hockey on the map as well.

“I like to think that we’ve done the nation proud and I think the support here all week has been fantastic, not just for us but for every single game, which I think is amazing.

“We often go to tournaments and only the hosts have the crowd and I think the fans here have been absolutely amazing.”

She added: “To hear the roar today here for the final, it was something special and I think we did our job and now I hope it puts hockey on the map a little bit more and we get a little bit more coverage, like we deserve.”

Pictured top: Anna Toman (Picture: Max Hall)

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