England stay on course

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The Independent Online
England remain on course for a semi-final place in the women's World Cup qualifying tournament here following yesterday's thrilling 1-1 draw with Japan, but kept their supporters in suspense until the 59th minute when 20 year old Denise Marston-Smith struck home a penalty.

Taken out of their stride by the speed and aggression of the agile Japanese, England owed much to the skill, experience and commitment of Karen Brown to see them through. Japan took the lead in the 14th minute, with Akemi Kato taking England's defence by surprise with a snap-shot from the edge of the circle.

The remainder of the game was virtually one-way traffic towards the Japanese goal, but England were unable to get past Nima Miyazaki. Relief for England came when Miyazaki saved again from England's 11th penalty corner, but Mandy Nicholl's follow-up was stopped by the head of Keiko Miura from going into the net. Marston-Smith confidently converted the penalty.

ENGLAND: H Rose (University of Massachusetts); J Empson (Canterbury), K Brown (Slough); K Bowden (Leics), L Copeland (Slough) L Wright (Olton); M Davies (Sutton Coldfield, capt), M Nicholls (Slough), J Sixsmith (Sutton Coldfield), T Cullen (Hightown), J Smith (Slough). Substitutes used: P Miller (Leicester), D Marston-Smith (Clifton), J Mould (Leicester) and C Voss (Leicester).

JAPAN: N Miyazaki; K Miura; T Sasaki, M Sawaya, T Tanimura; S Miyazaki (capt), S Iwao, S Morimotos; H Takahashi, T Tsukui, A Kato. Substitutes used: S Nnakamura, K Minbuta.

Umpires: A Lario (Spain) and U Conen (Ger).

WOMEN'S WORLD CUP QUALIFIER (Harare). Pool A: South Africa 3 India 0; Ireland 1 Canada 1; England 1 Japan 1; Scotland 3 Spain 0. Pool A standings (all played 4). 1 S Africa 12pts; 2 England 8; 3 India 6; 4 Japan 4; 5 Canada 2; 6 Ireland 1. (South Africa qualify for World Cup finals).