Commonwealth Games: England’s women beat Australia to win historic first hockey gold

BIRMINGHAM (Agencies): England women’s hockey team won Commonwealth Games gold for the first time with a 2-1 victory over Australia.
Holly Hunt’s superb strike opened the scoring for England, before Tess Howard deflected in a second minutes later. Australia scored a consolation strike with 19 seconds remaining but were unable to silence the packed crowd.
“I’m a bit lost for words – it’s the first time in history we’ve ever done this,” England captain Hollie Pearne-Webb told BBC Sport. “It’s a new group. I think over the next two years it’s pretty exciting when we join up with the GB squad when the Scots and the Welsh come in.
“The crowd’s support has been absolutely phenomenal. I just feel so lucky that’s it’s in my career that we get a home Commonwealth Games.” England had won a medal at every Commonwealth Games since hockey was added to the programme in 1998 – but never gold. That all changed at the University of Birmingham on Sunday, in front of a boisterous home crowd who played their part as England’s 12th woman perfectly.
After a cagey opening quarter, in which England won three penalty corners, Flora Peel fed Hunt at the top of the D early in the second quarter to put the hosts ahead with a fine finish. Just four minutes later, Peel swept the ball in goal-wards with Howard touching it over the Australia goalkeeper and into the net.
Australia looked the stronger side after the break but England went close to a third goal through Anna Toman who, from a penalty corner, sent a strike crashing against the post.
The Hockeyroos did manage to pull a goal back in the dying seconds, Ambrosia Malone with a scrappy strike following a short corner, which was eventually confirmed after a lengthy video review.
It is the second successive Games in which four-time champions Australia have lost the final, having lost to New Zealand four years ago on home soil.
On her feelings at the final whistle, Pearne-Webb added: “Just pure relief – it was a bit of an up and down game. we played well in the first half, stepped off a little in the second half, absorbed a bit of pressure and got there in the end.”