Birmingham — As Old Joe struck six, 60 minutes of hockey failed to produce a semi-final worthy of the occasion. But then along came Maddie Hinch, England women’s star turn in goalkeeper yellow, a colour she couldn’t hide from in front of 6,000 expectant fans. Instead, she stood tall once again in the shoot-out drama. Perhaps more than ever. Like a teacher knowing her pupils’ notes, she saved three New Zealand attempts outright as England reached their fourth Commonwealth Games gold medal match.
They will head into Sunday’s finale with the crowd behind them as they go for that first title, across both genders. Atoning for the defeat they dominated at last month’s World Cup, they will be buoyed by this, no doubt, but will have to find more quality to see off Australia or India.
After a scoreless hour, they squeezed past the youthful defending (and they sure did a lot of that) champions – the third Commonwealth semi-final between these two sides to end in a shoot-out – courtesy of Hinch’s heroics and Izzy Petter and Hannah Martin’s 23m line goals as red and white players danced for joy into ‘Super Sunday’.
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