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Commonwealth Games: England reach women's hockey semi-finals

England women's hockey team secured their place in the semi-finals of the Commonwealth Games with a hard-fought 2-1 win over hosts Scotland on Wednesday (July 30).

GLASGOW: England women's hockey team secured their place in the semi-finals of the Commonwealth Games with a hard-fought 2-1 win over hosts Scotland on Wednesday (July 30).

New Zealand will be England's opponents for a place in the gold medal match on Friday as they thrashed Canada 6-0 to complete a 100 percent record from Group A. With both Scotland and England having already beaten Malaysia and Wales and lost to gold medal favourites Australia, second place in Group B was on the line.

Alex Danson and Susannah Townsend had given England the perfect start as they marched into a 2-0 lead after 27 minutes. However, Scotland rallied before half-time when Nikki Kidd slammed home a penalty corner and the home side could have provided a sensational comeback in the second-half had it not been for England keeper Maddie Hinch as she made a string of fine saves.

Despite their best efforts, though, Scotland couldn't find an equaliser and will have to settle for a place in the fifth-place playoff on Friday. "Defeat would have been difficult to take after the summer the girls have had, but they have come together over the past four or five weeks and been quite united so I'm very happy," said England coach Craig Keegan.

"I think we will play better now. The first-half we were nice and bright, the second-half they let the anxiety get to them and I think in the semi-final when we are playing teams of a similar ranking to us, for whatever reason, they will play with less fear and go for it."

For Scotland coach Gordon Shepherd it was a tale of missed chances as his side failed to reach the Commonwealth semi-finals for the first time ever. "Against a team like England you don't get loads of chances, but I think in that second-half we had more than our fair share and I know a few of the players are disappointed they didn't take their chances."

New Zealand are likely to prove an even tougher task as they took their tally for the tournament to 25 goals in just four games in routing Canada. "I am not surprised at our form today," said New Zealand coach Mark Hager. "We have been building with each game, been clinical with passes and that forces the opposition to be defensive."

South Africa also booked their place in the semi-finals on Tuesday with a tight 3-2 win over India to take second place in Group A. Tarryn Bright opened the scoring for the Africans before Jaspreet Kaur restored parity for the 2002 champions. However, goals either side of half-time from Dirkie Chamberlain and Illse Davids sent South Africa through despite Rani Rampal's consolation for India.

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