Kate Walsh played the archetypal captain's role for England here yesterday. The 23-year-old converted a 67th-minute penalty corner to ensure her side beat the Netherlands 1-0 and record their first victory in the BDO Champions Trophy.
Walsh would be the first to pay tribute to an outstanding series of first-half saves which kept England in the game from the goalkeeper, Carolyn Reid, in her 99th international. Tricia Heberle, the England coach, was emphatic when she described three of the saves against the reigning Olympic champions as "world class".
Yesterday's win should have been a dream 200th England game for the veteran striker Jane Smith, who 10 minutes into the second-half dived in to deflect a cross from Anna Bennett past the Dutch goalkeeper, Clarinda Sinnige. But the Argentinian umpire decided otherwise and ruled out the strike, bizarrely declaring that the ball had been illegally lifted into the circle.
With gaps apparent in both midfields, the game swung from goal to goal, with near misses at both ends, before Leisa King won a penalty corner with a powerful drive into the Dutch circle. Walsh, standing at second slip, did the rest.
There was still time for a scare when the Netherlands won a penalty corner with just 22 seconds remaining but it went wide.
A delighted Heberle said: "I thought the girls worked hard and deserved their win, but it was not pretty."
The result keeps alive England's slim chances of making the bronze medal play-off and they now require a victory over the holders, China, in tomorrow's final group game as well as other results going their way.
Earlier, China almost assured themselves of another final place with a 2-0 win against South Korea. An exciting contest between Australia and the world champions, Argentina, finished in a 1-1 draw, both goals coming in the last three minutes. Peta Gallagher gave Australia the lead with Agustina Garcia equalising for Argentina a minute later at a penalty corner.
BDO WOMEN'S CHAMPIONS TROPHY (Sydney): China 2 South Korea 0; England 1 Netherlands 0; Australia 1 Argentina 1. Standings after four rounds: 1 China 10pts; 2 Argentina 8; 3 Australia 7; 4 Netherlands 3; 5 Korea 3; 6 England 3.
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