Great Britain end World League campaign with 5-1 win


Great Britain 5 (2)
Nicola White 9 (FG), 48 (PC)
Ellie Watton 29 (FG)
Hannah Macleod 33 (FG)
Helen Richardson-Walsh 58 (PS)

Korea 1 (0)
Hye Lyoung Han 58 (PC)

Great Britain put in a stylish performance to seal a 5-1 win and take seventh place after mixed results at the Hockey World League Final in Rosario, Argentina.

The first quarter of this 7/8th place match between Great Britain and Korea was a battle for dominance in the centre of the pitch. Both teams were guilty of crowding the middle of the pitch and failing to challenge either circle. There was a lot of passing around, but little penetration into the opposition's circle for much of the first seven minutes of play.

The deadlock was broken by Nicola White (9'), whose run into the circle was unimpeded. Almost unable to believe her luck, the player smashed the ball deep into the far corner, past Korea 'keeper Jang Soo Ji. Great Britain had no time to rest on their laurels as the ever-dangerous Korea attack countered and Park MiHyun was left with only Kirsty Mackay in the Great Britain goal to beat. Mackay came out to reduce the angle and Park shot wide.

Helen Richardson-Walsh, who was enjoying a busy time in midfield, made a mazy cross pitch run, only for the Korea defence to cut out all passing options.

The second quarter began with the energetic Susannah Townsend running at the Korea defence. Laura Unsworth, who has enjoyed a steady tournament, was on hand to feed the ball in from the resulting long corner and Great Britain set up temporary camp around the Korea circle.

Kate Richardson-Walsh and Emily Maguire provided the cover, and any attempt by Korea to break out during this period of dominant play by Great Britain was cut out by the two experienced defenders.

As Korea finally managed a break-out, an uncompromising tackle by Crista Cullen put a halt to the speedy running of Cheon Eun Bi. The Korea forward picked up a fantastically placed ball from Lee Young Sil and was on route to Mackay's goal when Cullen stepped in with a risky, but ultimately successful tackle.

Great Britain's first penalty corner was won by some good build-up play from Alex Danson and Hannah MacLeod, but the ensuing corner was a disappointment. The ball was injected slowly and Hollie Webb undercut the ball and shot wide.

A second penalty corner was equally poorly executed. Kate Richardson-Walsh's shot was blocked and the slack clearance from Korea was not capitalised upon by the Great Britain forwards. Ellie Watton found some space seconds later, but her shot was well saved by Jang.

It was Watton (29') who doubled Great Britain's lead seconds later. She was in the right position as Alex Danson danced her way through the Korea defence. Danson slipped the ball across the face of the goal for Watton to shoot sharply home.

Great Britain got off to a fantastic start in the second half as Hannah MacLeod (33') got a touch to a shot from Danson. This seemed to energise the whole team and the sixth-ranked team won a series of penalty corners. The lack of clinical finishing in these situations is something that must cause some concern as the first four penalty corners yielded no shots on goal.

Han Hye Lyoung sparked a Korea attack, which alleviated the pressure on their goal, but found Unsworth in fine form as she took the ball neatly from the Korea captain's stick. A second wave of attack by the Asian champions was equally effectively dealt with as Crista Cullen stepped up to take the ball from Cho Hye Jin.

A fifth penalty corner nearly yielded results as Crista Cullen flicked high. Jang saved, and was then nimble enough to make two subsequent saves as the Great Britain forwards tried to put the ball away. There was finally success from a penalty corner in the 48th minute of the game. The ball was slipped to Nicola White who made no mistake as she put away her second goal and extended Great Britain's lead to four.

It was a case of Jang versus the Great Britain forwards for the next three minutes as the Great Britain team won a series of penalty corners only to see the acrobatic 'keeper make save after save.

The final five minutes saw Great Britain continue to flow forwards. From his vantage in the stand, head coach Danny Kerry exhorted his players forwards. The pressure paid off as Ellie Watton won a penalty stroke. Helen Richardson-Walsh made no mistake in slotting the ball home for her third goal of the competition.

Korea came back into the game with a consolation goal when Han Hye Lyoung put away a penalty corner.

Head Coach Danny Kerry:

"The tournament as a whole has been a good experience. The critical game was the China game where we created lots of chances but the ball wouldn't go in. Against New Zealand,the first half was really disappointing and as a result we find ourselves playing for 7/8th place.

"There were other interesting results. Australia and Netherlands in the bottom half too, is interesting.

"We have built some good understandings among the younger players and I am very pleased with the way we played against Korea. They play in a certain way and we negated that.

"Crista [Cullen] is coming back and we wanted to protect her a little from getting injured but she will get a lot of time now. We had 10 penalty corners today, another day the scoreline would be different.

"The players now get three weeks off. Then we will have a lot of meetings and some good matches through the January, February, March period. Then there will be some refining."

Crista Cullen:

"Set pieces are something you just have to believe will come. I am increasingly getting myself into situations where I have the opportunity to score. I am not getting frustrated, I am just keeping my cool.

"We must now go back and review and understand what happened. There was a culmination of errors as to why we didn't get a semi-final spot. We need to be hard on ourselves and learn from the mistakes. Come Rio we must be on the right end of the scoreline."

You can see Great Britain in action this summer at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre as they take on the best five teams in the World at the Women's Champions Trophy.