SOUTHAMPTON-born star Alex Danson's women's World Cup dream is over.

She was part of a demoralised England side that slumped to a third successive defeat this afternoon, crashing 4-1 to South Africa to effectively end any hopes of making the semi-finals.

England went into the tournament ranked as the world's third-best side but have now lost to China (seventh), surprise package United States (10th) and South Africa (11th).

England are point-less at the bottom of Group B with title-holders Argentina and European champions Germany still to play.

The University of Birmingham's Lily Owsley hit the post in only the third minute but individual mistakes led to South Africa's two first-half goals with Zoe Shipperley and goalkeeper Maddie Hinch getting in a tangle to present Kathleen Taylor with a straightforward chance for the opener.

Captain Kate Richardson-Walsh then lost the ball on halfway and although Hollie Webb regained possession just outside her own circle she was robbed by Sulette Damons as she tried to dribble out and the South African smashed home reverse stick.

A loss of discipline cost England after the break as separate sin-binnings for Richardson-Walsh and Sam Quek were punished by Shelley Russell and Dirkie Chamberlain.

Reading striker Danson, playing her 151st game for England, had a reverse-stick shot deflected wide before Nicola White smashed home only England's second goal of the tournament to put the semi-finals, barring a freakish run of results for their opponents, beyond them as a second successive match ended with the players in tears.

"We are very angry and disappointed," Richardson-Walsh said in her post-match interview.

"We don't make the sacrifice we do and train as hard as we do for performances like that and the last few days. I am devastated.

"We are just not clicking. The pressure began to build (in the game) and it cracked our morale."