Susie Gilbert’s first half penalty corner strike handed Danny Kerry’s team a win in the second of the six-test series against Australia. Gilbert reacted the quickest to the rebound from a Crista Cullen flick in the 18th minute to slot home her 15th international goal, Despite some late pressure from the hosts, the goal was enough to secure the victory and level the series at one apiece.
Great Britain started brightly and won a penalty corner with their first attack. Cullen’s attempted slip to Hollie Webb was intercepted, allowing Australia to break forwards. Casey Sablowski was on the end of the move with a backhand shot from the left of the circle but it was well saved by Maddie Hinch. Two minutes later the Hockeyroos won a corner of their own but Jodie Kenny blazed it over the bar.
The game was end to end with Sarah Haycroft showing a good turn of pace to force a save from Ashlee Wells at one end before Kenny put another penalty corner over the top at the other. Australia pressed Great Britain very high up the pitch and it almost paid dividends. Ashleigh Nelson won the ball and fed Georgie Parker but the No19’s shot flashed wide of the target, meaning it was all square at the end of the first quarter.
Danny Kerry’s side repeated their strong start at the beginning of the second quarter. Shona McCallin stole possession inside the final third and broke into the circle, she found Ellie Watton who did well to win a penalty corner. Cullen stepped up and although her flick was saved by Wells, Gilbert reacted quickest to slam home the rebound to make it 1-0.
Emily Smith tested the reactions of Kirsty Mackay, a quarter-time replacement in goal for Great Britain but the East Grinstead stopper was up to the task. The goalkeeper was almost beaten moments later as Kathryn Slattery’s mishit shot deceived her but came back off the post and away to safety.
Australia started the third quarter with renewed intent and won another penalty corner. They worked it left to Kenny but Hinch, who had come back on in goal did well to make the save. On the counterattack Haycroft once again used her pace to good effect to win a penalty corner for Danny Kerry’s side. This time Giselle Ansley took the shot but Wells was equal to the task and made the save. McCallin went close with a backhand shot just wide after another good turnover in the Australia half and then Haycroft, who was having an excellent game, did well to manufacture some space in the circle. Her shot on the turn flew over the top as Great Britain hunted for the second goal.
Australia threw everything at Great Britain in the final quarter as they battled to get back on level terms. Brooke Peris stung Mackay’s gloves with a snapshot. Great Britain’s deep defence proved to be very solid with Laura Unsworth in particular doing an outstanding job to keep the Hockeyroos at bay. The hosts won another penalty corner with time running out but Mackay was there with a fine save to her left before the defence cleared the danger. Despite the increased pressure, Danny Kerry’s side stood firm and took the win to level the series.
The series is now tied at one game apiece with four left to play. The next match is on Tuesday 16 February at 10am UK time. For details on the scheduling, click here.
To watch the matches live, click here.
Great Britain starting XI vs. Australia
Maddie Hinch (Holcombe)
Laura Unsworth (East Grinstead)
Hannah Macleod (St Albans)
Helen Richardson-Walsh (C) (Reading)
Susannah Townsend (Canterbury)
Joie Leigh (Clifton)
Giselle Ansley (Surbiton)
Sophie Bray (East Grinstead)
Hollie Webb (Surbiton)
Shona McCallin (Holcombe)
Kirsty Mackay (East Grinstead)
Sarah Haycroft (Surbiton)
Georgie Twigg (Surbiton)
Susie Gilbert (Reading)
Ellie Watton (St Albans)
Zoe Shipperley (Buckingham)