THREE former Repton School pupils played as England women found their World Cup hopes hanging in the balance with a 3-0 defeat to China.
Georgie Twigg, Susie Gilbert and Ellie Watton were all heavily involved in Tuesday’s clash in Holland, which followed on from a 2-1 defeat to the USA in their opening game.
Speaking afterwards, Twigg said on Twitter: “Obviously so disappointed with yesterday’s result, we now must show strength of character as a team and fight back.”
Head coach Jason Lee said: “That’s two games running now that we’ve had three times as many circle entries as the opposition.
“For 60 circle entries we’ve only scored one goal and for 20 against we’ve conceded five, which makes life very difficult.
“For long periods I felt we just needed to get one goal from the chances we were creating.
“As the game progressed the nerves among the players grew and of course the result of the first game made them even more tentative.
“I think if we’d got an early goal we’d have found it quite an easy game.”
Right from the start England began to apply pressure, maintaining possession and pressing forward, with several shots on goal, but the Chinese defensive line was always quick to shut down any space they could find.
Ten minutes before half-time China had an opportunity to get ahead courtesy of three penalty corners in a row, but fearless defending – with Twigg taking a hit to the arm after the first corner and Ashleigh Ball catching a ball on the hand after the second – meant the opponents could not break through.
A green card for China gave England a brief window of opportunity, but the Asian side kept them at bay and the score was 0-0 going into the break.
In the 42nd minute, China broke away and scored from open play as a good ball to the top of the circle found Yang Peng, who was able to turn on the spot and fire a shot away to the top left-hand corner and just out of Hinch’s reach.
A flurry of penalty corners followed for England, but Dongxiao Li was equal to them.
China then won a penalty corner of their own and a shot to the right, courtesy of Meiyu Lang, was not cleanly struck but bobbled over Hinch’s leg, to put them 2-0 up.
Their third goal came after Hollie Webb was brought on as a kicking back, allowing England an extra outfield player, but China’s Peng was able to get around England’s defenders to fire the ball into the open goal.
England captain Kate Richardson-Walsh said after the game: “We prepared professionally, as we always do, and did our homework on the opposition.
“I’m just devastated.
“There are still a lot of games to go in the tournament but I think one thing we pride ourselves on is our fight and I think we’ve been lacking a bit of that.
“As Jason said, we are getting opportunities but we aren’t taking them.
“I hold my hands up as it’s me and everyone else in the team who are responsible.
“We need to be hard and honest with each other and come out for the rest of this tournament and play like an England team play.”
Play resumes today with England – who must now win their final two matches to have a hope of qualifying for the knockout stages – up against South Africa, 2.30pm pushback.