Hockey: King strike secures England final place

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The Independent Online

England moved comfortably into tomorrow's final of the Korean Telecom Cup in Busan yesterday following their 3-1 win against the Netherlands. It was England's first victory over the world silver medalists since they won 2-1 in Utrecht in 1998 and followed a run of six successive losses. England will play the host nation, with whom they drew 2-2 earlier in the tournament, in the final.

Yesterday England started tentatively against an under strength Dutch side who were late replacements for China who withdrew because of the Sars epidemic, with both sides making early errors. The tensions were eased, however, in the 12th minute when Canterbury's Anna Bennett scored with her first touch of the game with a powerful shot from the top of the circle. The Dutch, undeterred, forced a penalty corner within a minute which was converted by Alessia Padalino for the equaliser. Helen Grant put England ahead with a well worked penalty corner in the 28th minute as a below par first-half performance ended.

England's performance after the interval was much more positive, pinning the Dutch in their own half for long periods. Mounting pressure was rewarded in the 64th minute when Leisa King scored an open-play goal to put the game beyond the Dutch.

The England coach, Tricia Heberle, delighted at having reached the final said: "After an inconsistent first half it was pleasing to see the team put together a more consolidated and productive second half. The Dutch played unimaginative hockey and predominantly spent the game defending at half court. It took us a while to think through what was required but to the girls' credit they finished very strongly with some promising attacking play." England today play their last pool game against Spain.

England: K Roberts; M Nicholson, K Walsh, R Walsh; L Wright, J Bimson, M Clewlow (capt), R Walker; J Smith, H Grant, P Miller. Substitutes used: F Houslop, J Ellis, A Panther, S Blanks, L King, A Bennett.

KOREAN TELECOM CUP (Busan, South Korea) Day 4): Australia 0 Korea 1; Spain 2 South Africa 2; Netherlands 1 England 3. Standings after four rounds: 1 Korea 10pts`; 2 England 10; 3 South Africa 5; 4 Australia 4; 5 Spain 2; 6 Netherlands 1.

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