Hockey: Simpson stands down with winning strike

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The Independent Online

Scotland and Wales ended their programmes in the Astroturf European Nations Cup here yesterday with mixed results. The Welsh women just failed in their fight to avoid the wooden spoon, although late goals from Georgina Sharples and Nia Fowler did raise a glimmer of hope.

Scotland's women, who have never been lower than sixth in the Europeans, ground out a 2-1 win against France to finish in seventh position. There was a sentimental farewell to Scottish international hockey for Rhona Simpson after a record of 158 games, in which she averaged a goal every other game. She is, nevertheless, looking to add to her 75 Great Britain caps and to sign off after the Athens Olympics. It was Simpson who scored Scotland's winning goal from the penalty spot after Cheryl Valentine had opened the scoring in the 27th minute.

Scotland's men, under their coach Mathias Ahrens, have made great progress in the last couple of years and although they lost yesterday to Poland 2-1, they will be satisfied with their eighth-place finish, with several of their players knocking on the Great Britain door for next March's Olympic Qualifier in Madrid.

Against Poland they went a goal down in the third minute when the Mikula brothers combined to give Poland the lead, Piotr setting up the goal for Artur. A double slip penalty corner in the 28th minute provided Scotland's equaliser for Andrew Sewnauth, but the winner came from Zbigniew Juszczak in the 56th minute.

Astroturf European Nations Cup (Barcelona) Men: 11/12th place: Switzerland 4 Russia 2; 9/10th: Ireland 3 Italy 2; 7/8th: Scotland 1 Poland 2. Women: 11/12th: Wales 2 Italy 3; 9/10th: Azerbaijan 3 Russia 2; 7/8th: France 1 Scotland 2; 5/6th: Ireland 0 Ukraine 3.

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