GB suffer second narrow loss to Japan as Unsworth wins 250th cap

Unsy 250

Japan 1 (1)
Nomura (21’, PC)

Great Britain 0 (0)

Laura Unsworth played her 250th combined international match today as Great Britain’s women suffered a second loss to Japan in Hiroshima.

After beating GB 2-1 on Monday, a single Kana Nomura goal from a penalty corner was enough to secure another narrow victory for Japan.

Head Coach Mark Hager made several changes to the team that played the first test, with Amy Tennant, Giselle Ansley, Jo Hunter, Lizzie Neal and Izzy Petter all featuring in the game.

Laura Unsworth was named captain as she brought up yet another milestone in her illustrious career, having also played her 100th match for Great Britain earlier this year in the FIH Pro League.

Since making her international debut back in 2008 Unsworth has won a host of medals for both England and Great Britain, including Olympic gold and bronze as well as the 2015 EuroHockey title.

Shona McCallin also started the game as she continues her comeback to international hockey after 17 months out through injury.

Ahead of the game, she said: “It’s been a long journey for me to get back but I’m super chuffed to be back playing for GB – 17 months is a long time to be out.

“A lot of thanks must go to the support staff, medical staff, EIS for all their hard work behind the scenes to get me back and to everyone else that has supported, guided and believed in me over the rehab period.

“It’s been great to get out on the pitch to find my feet again. The intensity of international hockey is a lot higher than what I’ve been used to so it’s been good to knock out the cobwebs and get back into the swing of things.

“I’ve really, really enjoyed being back in the fold and being out for so long has really made me appreciate every moment being back out on the pitch so I will take that forward and appreciate every moment I have with the England and GB teams moving forward.”

GB Starting XI: Tennant, Unsworth (C), Martin, Townsend, Howard, Ansley, Pearne-Webb, Neal, McCallin, Owsley, Petter

Subs (Used): Robertson, Defroand, Hunter, Burge, Balsdon

Subs (Unused): Hinch, Evans, Toman, Jones, Watson, Costello

This was the final fixture of six – four uncapped and two capped – for the women having spent two weeks in Hiroshima as part of a trip to experience playing in the extreme heat and humidity of Japan in the lead up to potentially featuring at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

They will now separate back into their Home Nations squads in the build up to this summer’s EuroHockey Championships. Scotland are hosting the women’s EuroHockey Championship II between 4-10 August and will be hoping to use the home advantage to secure promotion back to the top tier. Wales will also be hoping for the same result at that tournament.

England’s women then compete in the EuroHockey Championships in Belgium between 17-25 August knowing that if they emerge victorious then Great Britain’s women will have a guaranteed spot at Tokyo 2020.

If not Great Britain could then qualify for next year’s Olympics – starting on 25 July – through an Olympic qualifier to be held in late October/early November.