Ireland 3-2 Russia
Ireland have finished in fifth place at the EuroHockey Championship in Antwerp after a 3-2 victory over Russia on Sunday morning.
After Friday's gritty win against host nation Belgium, the Irish knew a draw would guarantee them safety from relegation to the EuroHockey II Championships, a fate their male counterparts suffered yesterday.
They finished on a high with a positive result, though head coach Sean Dancer said he still wants more from his charges, particularly offensively.
"We always knew it was going to be a tough game and Russia are a good team; they certainly have some good players," he said.
"There I things we can do better, especially in the attacking circle and we only forced one penalty corner so we probably weren't as smart as we’ve been in the last few games, but real credit to the girls. They kept fighting."
It was a quiet first quarter from both sides. The first chance of the game came from Russia's Svetlana Eroshina, although Ayeisha McFerran saved comfortably. There was little goal action from either side.
Ireland managed to get into the Russian circle a number of times but failed to convert.
Bogdana Sadovaia had the opening goal of the game, converting a penalty corner for Russia to give them a lead ahead of half-time.
Ireland had a number of opportunities in the second quarter but Russian keeper Viktoriia Aleksandrina frustrated attempts by Deirdre Duke and Katie Mullan, while Nicci Daly and Mullan both sent shots wide of the mark on separate occasions.
Things heated up in the second half when a slap from Zoe Wilson sent the ball up the pitch with Nikki Evans on hand to receive it and take a shot to give Ireland and equaliser.
A penalty corner to Ireland saw Shirley McCay’s shot deflected over the goal, while Sarah Hawkshaw was stopped by Russian defence shortly afterwards when Gillian Pinder found her well in the circle.
McFerran was on form ahead of the third quarter whistle as Russia advanced in the Irish circle. She came out to meet the threat, sliding along the pitch to hit the ball out of harms way.
Nikki Evans supplied Hawkshaw with an opportunity in the final quarter and she managed to get around Aleksandrina to give Ireland a 2-1 lead. Evans was there again moments later narrowly missing out on extending Ireland’s lead.
A penalty corner for Russia saw McFerran save, but Aleksandra Leonova secured the rebound and brought the sides level again. Ireland continued to apply pressure with Anna O’Flanagan denied by Aleksandrina before hitting the post with a second chance shortly afterwards.
A yellow card to Russia’s Sorokina in the final five minutes saw them go down to 10 players.
Hawkshaw and Evans got the ball in to O’Flanagan again with two minutes left, Aleksandrina came out to save and Mullan was there to pounce on the loose ball and slot home the winner.
Ireland: A McFerran, K Mullan, S McCay, E Tice, C Watkins, L Colvin, N Daly, H Matthews, S Hawkshaw, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson,
Subs: R Upton, N Evans, G Pinder, B Barr, E Murphy, D Duke, A Meeke
Russia: S Salamatina, K Shulilina, K Koroleva, S Eroshina, A Kolpakova, M Bordolimova, M Drepenkinda, V Aleksandrina, B Sadovaia, A Leonova, E Sorokina
Subs: A Iashina, V Chepurnova, A Khalimova, I Cheplygina, D Yushkova, K Sanina, V Makeeva