ALEX Danson helped England guarantee Commonwealth Games hockey silver – but it’s gold she wants in a crunch clash with favourites Australia in Glasgow.
Goalkeeper Maddie Hinch was the hero, pulling off three saves in a penalty shoot-out semi-final win over New Zealand.
Lily Owsley gave England a 27th-minute lead but Katie Glynn equalised for the Black Sticks with just two minutes remaining.
But Hinch kept her nerve as England dominated the shoot out 3-1, thanks to goals from Georgie Twigg, Danson and Susie Gilbert.
After a nightmare World Cup campaign, this was arguably the best England performance in months but they’ll need to find another level against three-time gold medallists Australia in the final.
The Hockeyroos have been totally dominant in Glasgow and were 7-1 winners in their semi-final against South Africa, taking their goal tally to 32 from just five matches.
But their ‘worst’ result was a 3-0 win over England in the group stage – and Danson has reasons for optimism.
“We are just delighted to get into that final but a silver is nice – a gold is better,” she said.
“We’ve done our homework on them already and we are a very professional outfit, it’s going to be a tight game with lots of counter attacks and we’ll have to grab the opportunities when they do come.
“I’m just very proud of this group and how they’ve responded to a tough few weeks. They’ve showed a lot of character and if we show that character again in the final then we’ve got every chance.”
England have never won hockey gold at the Commonwealth Games, settling for silver in 1998 and 2002 and bronze at the last two editions at Melbourne 2006 and Delhi 2010.
And inspirational captain Kate Richardson-Walsh, who will make a decision on her future in the sport after Glasgow, insists that could change despite the odds being stacked against them.
“I thought we played well against Australia in the pool stages, we need to capitalise on the errors they make,” she said.
“I think it will be a race between our midfielders and forwards against their back-line players.
“We have to be brave and take them on. We need to go at them but all games against Australia are good games and I'm looking forward to it.”
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.