Sixsmith inspires fightback from England

HOCKEY
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The Independent Online
reports from Amstelveen

England drew 3-3 in the opening game in the three-match Test series against the Netherlands yesterday with a tremendous fightback after going two goals down.

England's coach, Maggie Souyave, said: "I am quite pleased once we got to grips with the game, but we were perhaps a yard short of pace."

England were unfortunate to go a goal down in the 11th minute. Wietske de Ruiter's shot from a penalty corner beat Jo Thompson although the ball had been pushed out before the umpire had restarted the game.

There was, however, no disputing the second goal in the 22nd minute, De Ruiter scoring with an equally brilliant shot from the edge of the circle.

But with Jane Sixsmith back at her best and Karen Brown dominating the midfield, England's fightback was swift. Sixsmith won a penalty stroke as her stick was smashed out of her hand and Brown made no mistake from the spot.

Seven minutes later, Sixsmith was again hit to win a penalty corner from which Tina Cullen swept the ball in off the keeper's pads after Jill Atkins' powerful drive.

Seven minutes into the second half, an Atkins penalty corner was deflected into the roof of the net. But England's lead was short-lived as Margje Teeuwen, unmarked on the left, dived in to touch the ball past Thompson.

There was still excitement at both ends, and Jane Smith missed an open goal after good work by Brown and Sixsmith.

ENGLAND: J Thompson (Ipswich); J Atkins (Bradford Swithenbank); S Lister (Ipswich, capt), F Lee (Hightown), C Cook (Hightown); M Davies (First Personnel Sutton Coldfield), K Brown (Slough), T Miller (Clifton); J Sixsmith (First Personnel Sutton Coldfield), M Nicholls (Slough), T Cullen (Hightown). Substitute used: J Smith (Ipswich).

NETHERLANDS: S de Hay; M Vossen; I Appels, D van den Boogard, M Derks; M Donners, N Koolen, F Steenberghe; J Lewin, W de Ruiters Capt., M Teeuwen. Substitutes used: S Plesman, J Abbas and C Vinke.

Umpires: G Spitaleri and C D'Alberto (Italy).

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