Ipswich’s Hannah Martin says England stuck to the game plan as they beat South Africa in Commonwealth Games hockey opener
- Credit: PA Archive/PA Images
Hannah Martin admitted her Commonwealth Games debut could not have gone much better as England cruised to a comfortable win over South Africa in their opener, writes Ryan Walters.
The 23-year-old came off the bench and looked right at home on her Team England bow on the Gold Coast as strikes from Grace Balsdon and Susannah Townsend secured a 2-0 victory in their Pool A clash.
Martin was one of ten new faces in the England squad – alongside veterans like skipper Alex Danson and keeper Maddie Hinch who suffered a heartbreaking defeat in the Commonwealth final to Australia four years ago in Glasgow.
But the old and the new blended together seamlessly again today – even though England are without some key faces like Lily Owsley and Nic White through injury – to put away South Africa with ease and leave Martin grinning from ear to ear.
“It was fantastic to get the three points. We just went out there to start with a win and get the result and it’s pleasing to do that,” said Martin – whose older brother Harry has represented Team GB in the men’s hockey team at the last two Olympics.
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“I think we had a game plan in the first half and we stuck to it and that’s how we got our goals. “We defended tightly and we took our opportunities when we could and that led to a win.
“I think we kept playing our game in the second half but a few things didn’t go our way, we didn’t get quite the touches, the final touches we needed but we’ll look back at the video and get some tactics to improve that ahead of the next game.
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“Having different experiences in the squad is definitely helpful and we look out for each over and going forward that will be important.”
England dominated possession throughout the clash played in tropical conditions on the Gold Coast where bright sunshine has been regular interspersed with heavy rain.
And after their two first-half strikes they never looked unduly troubled – but there will be no complacency next time out tomorrow against a Wales side they know all too well.
The Welsh produced a famous upset on the opening morning by downing India and Martin knows they will need to be at their very best if England are to go one better than their silver four years ago in Scotland.
“It’s absolutely fantastic here, the village is amazing and the volunteers and fans are all fantastic so it’s such a special event to be at,” she added.
“I think of course the end goal is to get to the medal matches and challenge for gold but we have to take each game at a time and focus on each opposition and the results will take care of themselves.”
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