GB bounce back with Australia victory

Alex Danson against Australia 480 x 290

Great Britain 1 (1)
Helen Richardson-Walsh 26 (FG)

Australia 0 (0)

A 26th minute strike from Helen Richardson-Walsh earned Great Britain their first win of the World League Final over World No2 Australia. After defeat to Argentina and a draw with China in the previous games Danny Kerry’s side needed a positive result and they produced that with a fine display against the Hockeyroos.

The first five minutes were a case of cat and mouse as both sides took some time to settle into the match. Every time Danny Kerry’s side got the ball up to Alex Danson in the circle she found herself surrounded by Australian defenders, keen to snuff out the threat of the No15. With nine minutes on the clock the Hockeyroos won the first penalty corner of the match. Georgina Morgan took the honours but Crista Cullen charged the ball down with Laura Unsworth making an important block on the second phase. Hannah Macleod broke through the middle of the Australia defence with Great Britain’s first clear sight of goal but her effort was blocked and the danger cleared. Right on quarter time Danny Kerry’s side were awarded a penalty corner. Cullen took the shot but Rachael Lynch was equal to the task and pushed it around the post to keep the scores blank at the break.

Australia forced another penalty corner in the second quarter. This time the ball wasn’t trapped cleanly. Jodie Kenny still got the shot in but Maddie Hinch got down well to block with her gloves. Great Britain hit back and Danson was fouled by Renee Taylor resulting in a penalty corner. Kate Richardson-Walsh played the pass in for Danson to deflect but Ashlee Wells made a splendid save to keep the ball out. It wasn’t long before Great Britain took the lead however. Danson did brilliantly along the baseline and cut inside. Her ball to the far post was turned in by Helen Richardson-Walsh for her second goal of the competition. Great Britain went in at the half time break ahead 1-0.

Five minutes into the second half Owsley showed terrific pace to get away from the defence but her placed finish was turned round the post by Lynch. Townsend then earned her side another penalty corner but Edwina Bone was out quickly to charge down the strike. Owsley’s pace was causing Australia a lot of problems and Lynch had to get down smartly to block from Joie Leigh after another strong run from the University of Birmingham forward. Bone’s defensive work on the penalty corners was in evidence once again as she charged down a shot from Cullen leaving GB still searching for the all-important second goal. Lynch was called upon again and made a superb double save to keep out a shot from Townsend and the follow up from Leigh. Despite the pressure Great Britain could not find a second goal before the end of the third quarter.

Danny Kerry’s side continued with their attacking intent and won another corner but yet again Bone got a stick on the ball and Cullen’s shot was deflected wide. Australia crept back into the contest and Ashleigh Nelson had a clear chance when the umpire played an advantage. Hinch did well and blocked at the near post. At the other end Danson turned well and fizzed a backhand shot in that Wells had to deal with, saving strongly with her feet. Owsley somehow managed another lung-bursting run in the final moments, firing in a lovely diagonal ball that a sliding Townsend deflected onto goal forcing another save from Wells. Despite a late yellow card for Unsworth, Great Britain closed the game out and took the win.

Great Britain are next in action in the quarter finals. Opponents and match timings to be confirmed.

Danny Kerry, Great Britain Head Coach:

"I felt we controlled the game, but Australia defended their corners really well which kept the score line close. Australia always carry a threat but we controlled large periods of the game. I think we were trying to use Australia's pressing to create chances and we had eight corners today to their two. That’s a threat but we turned it into an opportunity.

After the China game the team realised that the tactics worked, it just didn't go for them in that game and that certainly helped their confidence tonight."

Kate Richardson-Walsh, Great Britain Captain:

"We played with a lot more belief. We tried to do the same things in the first game but it just wasn't clicking. Today we made the passes and it clicked. We have a pretty explosive side going forward and really skilful players and we had to get that working.

There are a lot of players who have been in difficult situations before so we were able to call on that. But also, every training session we work on dealing with different pressures and that has really paid off. We do a lot of scenario based work where we have to figure it out for ourselves, so when we are under pressure as we were in patches of that game; we all know what we are doing."