Great Britain 5 (2)
White 5 (F)
Cullen 24 (PC)
Danson 37 (PC)
Twigg 60 (PC)
Rogers 61 (F)
Korea 2 (1)
Kim Darae 17 (F)
Han Hye Lyoung 51 (PC)
Park Mihyun 56 (F)
It was another scintillating evening at the Riverbank Arena as the Great Britain women continued their winning ways with a 5-3 victory over Korea to secure their place at the top of Pool A.
Slough’s Nicola White marked her second Olympic appearance by opening the scoring with her first goal for Great Britain. Kim Darae pulled one back for Korea before Leicester’s Crista Cullen ensured her side went into the break 2 – 1. The second half saw another five goals; Alex Danson, Georgie Twigg and Chloe Rogers were all on the score sheet for Great Britain while Korea’s Han and Park tried to pull their side back into it, but it was not enough.
Speaking after the game, Great Britain Head Coach Danny Kerry was pleased with his team’s performance, "Everyone knows that Korea are serious semi final candidates. I thought the girls got on the front foot and converted their opportunities very well. It would have been easy to let Korea roll us over when the game was at 3-3, but we didn't and that's a testament to our girls."
With Great Britain Captain Kate Walsh still in hospital recovering from an operation on a fractured mandible, her Reading teammate Helen Richardson stepped in to take the armband.
Great Britain controlled the play in the opening period and their dominance was rewarded in the fifth minute when Slough’s Nicola White opened the scoring for GB. From just inside the Korean’s half, White went on a driving run, eliminating two Korean players before entering the top of the circle. Her clean, powerful strike at goal was an awkward height for Korean’s goalkeeper Jang Soo Ji, who was indecisive in whether to clear the ball with her pad or glove. In the end she did neither, and the ball sneaked through into the back of the net to give GB a deserved 1 – 0 lead.
Great Britain continued to dictate the play and closed their opponents down effectively, giving them no time on the ball. Korea were unable to keep possession and struggled to create attacking chances or break down GB’s solid defence. However, after 17 minutes Korea seemed more settled and began to create some openings. Some good build up play resulted in the ball falling to Kim Darae, who made no mistake in equalising, sweeping the ball decisively past Reading’s Beth Storry.
Great Britain spread the play well throughout the first half and in the 24th minute, were awarded a penalty corner as Leceister’s Chloe Rogers strong stick skills forced the Korean player into committing a foul. Her club teammate Crista Cullen stepped up and fired the ball low into the bottom right hand corner, for her 28th Great Britain goal to restore her side’s lead at 2 – 1.
Two minutes later, Korea substituted their goalkeeper Jang Soo Ji for replacement Moon Younghui. The score line remained at 2 – 1 as the sides went in for half time.
Korea came out the blocks quickly in the second half and applied pressure in Great Britain’s defensive final third. However, it was GB who took the initiative and went into a 3 – 1 lead in the 37th minute. A stick tackle on Sarah Thomas led to a well worked penalty corner and resulted in a fantastic goal. Cullen’s low drag flick aimed at the P-spot was met by a diving Alex Danson, who deflected the ball expertly into the bottom right hand corner of the goal.
Despite the two goal deficit, Korea continued to fight and pressed the Great Britain players, forcing them to make mistakes and lose possession. In the 51st minute their determination was rewarded as they won a penalty corner. The initial strike was well-saved by Storry but the rebound fell kindly to Han Hye Lyoung who powered the ball home from close range to take the score to 3 – 2.
With 13 minutes remaining on the clock Korea, still pushing hard, found Great Britain on the back foot and pulled the score back to 3 – 3. A great pass from Jeon Yu Mi found an unmarked Park Mihyun on the back post who finished first time, leaving Storry with no chance.
Despite losing their two goal lead in the space of seven minutes, the animated crowd continued to cheer on their team, ensuring the players didn’t let their heads drop. In the 59th minute Kim Youngran was shown a green card and Great Britain capitalised on their one man advantage. A high tackle on Leceister’s Hannah Macleod resulted in a penalty corner and with Cullen not on the pitch, Loughborough Students’ Laura Unsworth and Reading’s Helen Richardson stepped up to the top of the circle. Initially the corner routine did not go to plan as the ball out was not controlled. However Richardson battled to win the ball back and laid it off to Reading’s Laura Bartlett, who cleverly aimed the ball to the back post where Clifton’s Georgie Twigg was waiting. Twigg calmly controlled the ball, turned, and finished on her reverse side, restoring GB’s lead and taking the score to 4 – 3.
In the final minutes Rogers re-established Great Britain’s two goal lead to the delight of the crowd and ensured they would be going back to the Athlete’s Village with all three points. Excellent stick work from Thomas down the left-side saw her set up Bartlett, who delivered a precise reverse stick cross to the back post, leaving Rogers with an easy finish.
The crowd showed their concern towards the end when Reading’s Alex Danson injured her ankle after a tackle with a Korean player. However, it has since been confirmed that the injury isn’t too serious. With no further goals, the match finished 5 – 3.
Speaking after the game, Great Britain goal scorer Georgie Twigg was delighted. “The crowd has just been absolutely fantastic and it’s just great to go out there and get another win. When we got to 3 - 3 we showed a real sense of true grit and determination. To score another two goals is just fantastic. It’s an exciting time for us. We know that every game is going to be difficult. Each team has different standards and I think we showed great determination to come back.“
Kerry also commented on Great Britain captain Kate Walsh’s condition. "Kate is doing well and I'm optimistic that she'll be back in the Olympic Village tomorrow (Wednesday). The surgeon says that her jaw is now stronger than it was before and does not pose a risk to her playing. She is staying in hospital until tomorrow so that doctors can monitor her recovery from the anaesthetic and how much pain she is in."
With two wins out of two under their belt, Great Britain sit at the top of Pool A. Their next match at the Riverbank Arena sees them take on Belgium at 19.00 on Thursday 2nd August.
Meanwhile, the Great Britain men are looking for their second victory tomorrow afternoon (1st August – 16.00) with their next pool match against South Africa.