The Investec South Africa women’s hockey team came within a minute of overturning four matches without beating Scotland but the Scots scored with the last play of the game to draw the first of the five-Test series 2-2 at a very hot Clydesdale Hockey Club in Glasgow Sunday.
Scotland were awarded a penalty corner after SA were adjudged to have deliberately infringed in the 23-metre area and another PC followed, which saw Nikki Lloyd scramble in the equaliser.
In the eighth minute, world number 18 Scotland hit the post through Nikki Kidd from their first penalty corner but world number 12-ranked SA hit back when Dirkie Chamberlain made no mistake from the rebound off goalkeeper Amy Gibson’s pads after the strong initial shot from Jen Wilson.
Six minutes from half-time SA felt aggrieved when a great run by Bernie Coston along the left-hand baseline didn’t result in a penalty stroke.
Turning around 1-0 up, SA suffered a setback when a neat move three minutes after the changeover between Becky Merchant, Nic Skrastin and inspirational captain Linda Clement saw Ali Bell slip the ball past goalkeeper Mariette Rix, on for first-half keeper Sanani Mangisa (1-1).
Turnovers began multiplying as the players felt the excessive heat and in the 43rd minute SA striker Sulette Damons dropped to the turf in agony and had to be helped off the field with what appeared to be an ankle injury.
SA captain Marsha Marescia, who was outstanding throughout, rallied her troops and SA earned a second and then a third PC but the Scotland defence was equal to the challenge. Then Shelley Russell, who had been a constant threat down the left flank, dropped like a stone after being struck on the shoulder from a full-blooded Scotland cross.
South Africa’s fourth PC was blocked in a match where Scotland keeper Gibson had a very good game before Damons returned to the fray and in an incisive run down the left side of the field she exhibited great control to set up Kath Taylor for a simple tap-in 10 minutes from time (2-1).
But victory was not to be as the spirited Scots drove upfield in search of the equaliser, which came through Lloyd in the dying seconds.
SA were missing world record goalscorer Pietie Coetzee and fellow double Olympian Kate Woods, who are scheduled to join the team later in the week, as well as striker Lauren Penny (shoulder injury) while Scotland are missing their four Great Britain Olympic squad members.
QuipuTV are providing “live” free-to-air online streaming of the five Test matches and it is globally available through the Scottish Hockey and QuipuTV websites, as well as facebook.com/quiputv and Twitter at #SASCOhockey which provides SA fans with ample choice to follow the second Test at 3.30 pm SA time Monday and the rest of the series.
South Africa: Sanani Mangisa Mariette Rix Illse Davids Marsha Marescia (capt) Shelley Russell Dirkie Chamberlain Lisa Deetlefs Jen Wilson Lesle-Ann George Nicolene Terblanche Lenise Marais Kathleen Taylor Bernie Coston Tarryn Bright Sulette Damons
Scotland: Amy Gibson Kat Ralph Kaz Marshall Leigh Fawcett Kat Camerson Aileen Davies Susan McGilveray Becky Merchant Nikki Kidd Morag McLennan Ali Howie Sam Judge Holly Cram Ailsa Wylie Linda Clement (capt) Nic Skrastin Nikki Lloyd Ali Bell
Umpires: Karen Thomson (Scotland) Kerri Targett (Scotland)