Nicholls inspires adventurous England

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The Independent Online

reports from Glasgow

England's women made certain of qualifying for the semi-finals of the European Indoor Cup, beating Austria 10-1 and Slovakia 11-4 on the opening day of the tournament at the Kelvin Hall yesterday.

These were two powerful and purposeful performances by a side who slipped into top gear after a shaky start in both matches. After conceding a second- minute goal to Austria, taken with aplomb by Andrea Jelinek, England, galvanised by the arrival of Mandy Nicholls whose penetrating runs threatened constant danger, stormed their way to a 5-1 interval lead. Lorraine Marsden snatched two early goals and in between Tina Cullen finished a delightful flowing move. Jane Smith converted a corner to make it four with less than 10 minutes gone and Lynne Bollington added the fifth in the last minute of the half.

Jackie Crook and Sam Wright had both scored from second-half corners before Crook hit the post with a penalty stroke. Further goals followed from Nicholls and Cullen before Lucy Culliford, with her first touch in an indoor international, rounded a defender and laid on Marsden's third.

England's destruction of Slovakia, who lost 10-2 to Spain in the opening match, was even more emphatic, with eight goals coming in the first half. Crook converted five corners, although she again failed with a penalty stroke and Nicholls scored two including one marvellous effort after riding two heavy challenges. There was a goal each for Wright, Marsden, Bollington and Cullen.

In the other pool, Scotland made short work of Denmark winning 12-1. Wendy Fraser scored three as did Susan Gilmour, including two in the first five minutes of her indoor international debut.

The shock result was France's 1-0 win against Germany, who had never been beaten by a European country. Sophie Llobet forced in a 15th-minute corner at the third attempt and the Germans could find no way past the French defence, in which Llobet and Sophie Le Jossec were outstanding.

EUROPEAN INDOOR CUP (Kelvin, Hall, Glasgow): Pool A: France 1 Germany 0; Scotland 12 Denmark 1; Germany 10 Denmark 1; Scotland 4 France 0. Pool B: Spain 10 Slovakia 2; England 10 Austria 1; England 11 Slovakia 4; Spain 12 Austria 0.