Great Britain secure second pool win in Rosario
31 January 2012
A penalty corner double from Crista Cullen and a goal from Slough's Ashleigh Ball helped Great Britain to a 3-1 victory over China, the Olympic silver medallists, at the Champions Trophy in Rosario.
The result, coupled with the Netherlands' earlier 4-1 defeat of Japan, leaves Great Britain second in Pool A, behind the Dutch on goals scored. Great Britain's quarter final opponents on Thursday will be the side finishing third in Pool B, to be determined on Tuesday evening.
Reading goalkeeper Beth Storry returned to the starting line-up, as did EuroCanterbury's Natalie Seymour; Abi Walker and Bowdon Hightown's Sally Walton sat the match out.
As early as the fifth minute, Leicester defender Cullen showed her penalty corner prowess once again as she converted from Great Britain's first opportunity, although Chinese goalkeeper Zhang Liu would have been disappointed to see the ball go through her legs en route.
Great Britain survived a slight scare in the tenth minute when the ball ended up in the back of the British goal after Tang Chunling tried to latch on to a cross into the circle. Although no goal was given Tang appealed to the video umpire claiming she had touched the ball inside the circle on its way through. The video umpire however declared that no decision was possible from the replay and it remained 1-0.
As the half progressed Great Britain won two penalty corners but Zhang was up to the task and it remained 1-0 at the break.
In the 42nd minute, Cullen netted her second. This time striking the ball from a penalty corner, her effort came up off the stick of an onrushing defender, who could only deflect the ball towards goal. Although Reading forward Alex Danson did her best to flick the ball on its way, she failed to connect and it was Cullen's effort that carried on towards the goal, trickling over the line off the foot of a defender.
Experienced China forward Baorong Fu halved the deficit shortly after, remaining cool to finish confidently from close range after being the recipient of a bobbling ball inside the Great Britain circle. The four times World All Star's shot left Beth Storry with no chance.
But just as China looked to have found a way back into contention, a moment of excellence from Chloe Rogers at the other end set up Ashleigh Ball for Great Britain's third goal. Carrying the ball in along the right baseline, Leicester midfielder Rogers drew the goalkeeper before confidently flicking it over her. As it came down, the audacious chip looked to be heading over the line until the intervention of Yibo Ma. However, Ma's clearance was momentary as Ball followed up to strike an upright reverse stick shot home to make it 3-1.
Both sides created further set piece opportunities from penalty corners but neither could fully capitalise and it finished 3-1. With her brace, Crista Cullen remains the tournament's top goal scorer with five goals.
Speaking afterwards, Great Britain Head Coach Danny Kerry said,
"It was a very, very tough game. We covered a lot of distance out there. I know we can play better but it's a good result against the Olympic silver medallists.
"I think we have been consistent over the first three matches, especially in hot conditions. Today was better and we could attack more. I'm reasonably happy with the three matches.
"Today, we should have scored more and equally China could scored more. It was close. Where we came in the group was always up to us and not reliant on anyone else."
Captain Kate Walsh also admitted Great Britain have more to come, adding,
"We know we can play better and hopefully we can show this as the tournament progresses."
Having finished second in Pool A, Great Britain will play against the team finishing third in the other pool, Pool B. The quarter finals take place on Thursday.