China defeated England by 3-0 in their second Pool B match at the Rabobank Hockey World Cup at The Hague, Netherlands. The result was a cruel blow for Head Coach Jason Lee’s side after they had lost 2-1 to the USA in their first game of the tournament on Sunday.
England were undoubtedly up against tough opponents; China are ranked seventh in the world and are renowned for their strength in defence, which they demonstrated across the 70 minutes of play today.
The difference in the two teams came down to efficiency in the danger areas of the pitch. China had just three shots on target throughout the whole game and those three shots resulted in three goals, while 25 circle penetrations from England failed to result in a single goal.
The first half saw England dominate possession with seven shots on goal in comparison to China who apart from a couple of penalty corners failed to trouble Maddie Hinch in England’s goal. Despite England’s best efforts, which included forward Lily Owsley hitting the post twice in quick succession, there was nothing to separate the sides at half-time as they headed in for the break at 0-0.
Against the run of play in the second-half China found the target first through Yang Peng in the 42nd minute with a fantastic finish to go 1-0 up. Despite dominating play England just couldn’t find the target and before the end of the game China had added two more goals to their tally. Firstly through Meiyu Liang in the 55th minute from a penalty corner and then from Peng who secured her brace with just four minutes left on the clock after England had opted to bring a kicking back on.
England Head Coach, Jason Lee said on today’s game: “That’s two games running now that we’ve had three times as many circle entries as the opposition. For 60 circle entries we’ve only scored one goal and for 20 against we’ve conceded five, which makes life very difficult. For long periods I felt we just needed to get one goal from the chances we were creating. As the game progressed the nerves amongst the players grew and of course the result of the first game made them even more tentative. I think if we’d got an early goal we’d have found it quite an easy game.”
“The first goal by the Chinese was fantastic, it really was excellent. Then they scored from a corner not long after that and all our confidence was drained. China put up a wall against us and some of their defence was excellent. They took their chances well. “ he added on China’s performance.
On his team and role as head coach: “The players put their heart and soul into the game. Ultimately it is my job to get them ready to play and take their chances. We’ll be looking at that – how are the chances created and what can we do to help the girls to take them.”
On the two defeats so far, England Captain, Kate Richardson-Walsh said: “We prepared professionally, as we always do, and did our homework on the opposition. I’m just devastated. There are still a lot of games to go in the tournament but I think one thing we pride ourselves on is our fight and I think we’ve been lacking a bit of that.
“As Jason said, we are getting opportunities but we aren’t taking them. I hold my hands up as it is me and everyone else in the team who are responsible. We need to be hard and honest with each other and come out for the rest of this tournament and play like an England team play.” she added.
England women’s next game is against South Africa on Friday at 1330 (BST). England’s men play against Malaysia on Thursday at 1200 (BST). Tomorrow is a tournament rest day. All matches will be shown live on Sky Sports with expert analysis from a host of international stars including Kwan Browne and Chloe Rogers. (Detailed schedule and telecast details here)