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Japan Hit Back To Hold GB To Champions Trophy Draw

GB v Japan HCT 2018
Japan 2 (1)
H. Nagai (FG, 22; PC, 41)

Great Britain 2 (2)
Bray (FG, 4); Howard (FG, 6)

Great Britain are still searching for their first win at the 2018 Champions Trophy after being held by Japan.

Goals from Sophie Bray and Tess Howard saw the reigning Olympic champions race into an early lead, the latter finding the net for the first time in international hockey. 

But Japan dominated much of the rest of the game, with Hazuki Nagai scoring twice while Motomi Kawamura smashed the woodwork during the third quarter.

Despite not securing their maiden victory of the tournament, head coach David Ralph could still find plenty of positives for his side to take from the match.

“We know Japan are a good team – we went 2-0 up and played really well in the first quarter but their aggressive pressing got to us a bit.

“Like a lot of teams at this tournament, we’ve got some new players in our squad so we’re developing. 

“We’re pleased with several areas of our game but we’ve still got some aspects to work on.”

Kawamura flashed a shot wide in the third minute before Britain raced up the other end to open the scoring as Bray bundled the ball home after neat work between Anna Toman, Laura Unsworth and the East Grinstead forward.

Howard then scored in spectacular style two minutes later, showing impressive determination to force her way into the circle before slotting the ball into the corner of the goal while falling.

Bray could have made it three before the end of the first quarter but fired her shot narrowly over the crossbar before Sarah Robertson did well to charge down two 20th minute corners.

Japan now had the bit between their teeth and clawed one back shortly after, Nagai lifting the ball over Amy Tennant after good work by Minami Shimizu, who then almost equalised in the 26th minute but was thwarted by the GB ‘keeper.

The Japanese pressure continued in the second half as Kawamura smacked the post before they converted their seventh corner of the game through Nagai, moments after Sarah Jones almost grabbed Great Britain’s third after a swift counter by Bray.

Tennant and Giselle Ansley then combined to prevent Nagai from getting her hat-trick from another corner in the final quarter, while at the other end Lily Owsley saw an effort superbly blocked by Mayumi Ono before Susannah Townsend’s final second shot was smothered.

The draw means GB currently lie fourth in the table on two points with two group games remaining.

Next up for GB it’s their first meeting with The Netherlands since the Rio 2016 final at 10am on Thursday 22 November, a game you can watch on BT Sport.

Starting XI: Heesh (GK), Unsworth, Evans, Toman, Martin, Robertson, Ansley, Bray, Pearne-Webb (C), Owsley, Costello

Subs: Tennant (GK), Townsend, Petty, Sanders, Howard, Jones, Balsdon
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