GOALscorer Alex Danson insists the England women’s hockey team’s hard-fought victory over Wales in their opening match of the Commonwealth Games this afternoon demonstrates how desperate they are to restore some pride this summer.
Southampton-born Danson and her England teammates arrived at Glasgow 2014 following a disappointing 11th-place finish at the World Cup in the Netherlands at the start of last month.
And while victory at the London Investec Cup earlier this month helped the team back to winning ways, the emphasis was on more success at the Commonwealth Games, starting against Wales on the opening day.
Forward Danson led the way, breaking the deadlock on 29 minutes with an edge-of-the circle shot before Nicola White secured the points late on, and she was relieved to get up and running with a win.
“Obviously we have had a devastating few months and we just want ourselves, our supporters, our family and our country to see we wear our hearts on our sleeve when we play,” she said.
“We play as hard as we possibly can every minute on the field and we know we can finish this tournament proud if we’ve given everything. It was not easy at all against Wales, they played a fantastic match and it was very tight.
“It was a case of sticking to the game plan and hopefully those goals would come and thankfully they came from open play and a corner. To start off with a win will certainly lift morale.”
England shaded the opening exchanges before Danson capitalised on a defensive Welsh mistake to fire home.
They improved after the break with Wales’ Victoria Lea Male the busier of the keepers, although she was unable to prevent White from sliding home a second on 63 minutes from a cleverly worked penalty corner.
Next up for England is a clash against fellow Pool B opponents Malaysia on Sunday, as the team look to cement a top-two finish that would see them progress to the knockout stage.
But Danson, who has two Commonwealth bronze medals from Melbourne 2006 and Delhi 2010, admits they are taking a measured approach to qualification.
“We’ve had such a tricky summer, which is quite unique for this team, so we set our targets very differently this time and we are going two games at a time,” she added.
“Our first target is our first two games and we need to get six points and then as a team we very much decide and reassess at each step.”
– Commonwealth Games England (CGE) leads and manages the participation of the Team England at the Commonwealth Games and Commonwealth Youth Games. We work with sports, Sponsors and Sport England to support the development of athletes and their sports, and to achieve success at Games-time.