Hockey: Wright's return inspires England

England 3 Japan 0
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THE OLTON teenage striker Lucilla Wright marked her return to international hockey after injury and surgery with two well-taken goals as England overcame a defensive Japanese team in the first of their two Tests here yesterday.

An experimental England team, missing several senior players certain to be in the squad to be announced next week for the European Cup, struggled for long spells against a Japanese side lacking in experience.

England started aggressively, with Tina Cullen and the 19-year-old Wright combining well, and it was no surprise when they took the lead in the fifth minute, Wright deflecting home a free hit from Kirsty Bowden at the edge of the circle.

Twelve minutes later Anna Bennett, following up after the Japanese goalkeeper Kumi Matsui had saved well from Cullen, extended England's lead, and a massacre looked likely. Sadly, England went off the boil, and although they were to win 10 penalty corners, each was squandered.

Having survived three early penalty corners at the beginning of the second half, Japan moved out of their defensive mode and should have pulled a goal back when Katie Roberts, who took over in goal for the second half, misjudged a ball which rebounded off the post to Sakae Morimoto, who missed an open goal from close in.

Wright claimed her second goal in the 59th minute in a move started by Bennett and carried on by Mandy Nicholson, and only an upright denied her a hat-trick when she burst through six minutes later.

The teams meet again tomorrow at 10am.

ENGLAND: C Reid (Hightown); M Nicholson (Slough, capt), F Greenham (Slough), S Chandler (Slough ); L Catchpole (Ipswich), J Smith (Slough), M Clewlow (Canterbury), K Bowden (Fyffes Leicester); A Bennett (Slough), L Wright (Olton), T Cullen (Hightown). Substitutes used: K Roberts (Chelmsford), K Walsh (Hightown), H Richardson (Fyffes Leicester), L King (Ipswich), J Empson (Canterbury).

JAPAN: K Matsui; K Miura; Y Suzuki, M Sawaya, N Hori; S Iwao, A Kato, A Matsui; S Morimoto, S Miyazaki (capt), N Saito. Substitutes used: N Miyazaki, Y Ogura, T Sukui, Y Morishita.