Great Britain 2 (1)
Lily Owsley 26 (FG)
Alex Danson 43 (FG)
Australia 1 (0)
Georgina Morgan 33 (PC)
Goalkeeper Maddie Hinch produced a goalkeeping masterclass as Great Britain got their Olympic campaign off to a perfect start with a thrilling 2-1 win over Australia. Hinch made a string of fine saves whilst goals from Lily Owsley and Alex Danson ensured Georgina Morgan’s goal for the Hockeyroos was in vain. Despite a late barrage from Australia, Great Britain prevailed in a tense encounter.
Australia started well and created the first clear chance via a neat turn and strike from Kathryn Slattery. Hinch was alert and beat the ball away with her gloves. The Hockeyroos were putting the pressure on and Emily Smith had a gilt-edged opportunity, finding herself clean through only to be denied by the GB goalkeeper who bravely blocked the shot with her facemask. Danny Kerry’s side came into the contest more as the quarter wore on and a fine run and shot by Danson forced a good save from Rachael Lynch. Australia won their first penalty corner with two minutes to go to the break. Jodie Kenny took the strike but Crista Cullen was brave and charged the shot down to keep it scoreless at quarter time.
Adam Commens’ side started the second quarter well and Grace Stewart broke free in the circle. Once again Hinch was the saviour, dashing from her line to make another good block. Karri McMahon then went close with a penalty corner but Helen Richardson-Walsh was on the line to touch the ball away to safety. Hinch continued to frustrate Australia and denied Stewart once more as the Hockeyroos hunted the opening goal.
With four minutes to go to the break Danny Kerry’s side got their noses in front thanks to a sublime team move. Hollie Webb’s long pass was touched on by Shona McCallin to Sophie Bray. Her first time pass found Owsley who calmly slotted home.
Australia hit back immediately at the other end but Georgina Morgan’s shot rattled the woodwork and it remained 1-0 at the half way mark.
Three minutes after the break it was all square. Morgan, who had been denied by the frame of the goal earlier on, found her range and fired a lovely drag flick into the top corner. Undeterred, Great Britain went up the other end and after some excellent work from Owsley won their first set piece of the match. Cullen took the shot but Lynch got a strong glove on it to repel the chance.
Australia pushed hard for the next goal, hoping to edge themselves in front. Jane Claxton had a wonderful opportunity but with Hinch putting her under pressure she could only shoot wide. With time running out in the third quarter, what turned out to the the match’s decisive moment came. A flowing move from GB carved the Hockeyroos’ defence open. McCallin dummied the through ball allowing Susannah Townsend to break into the circle. She found Danson who spun onto her backhand and fired home.
The final quarter was a nervy affair with both sides knowing the next goal would be crucial. Hinch made another splendid save from Stewart and at the other end Lynch was on hand to block brilliantly from a marauding Owsley. There was late drama as the Great Britain goalkeeper had to deny Brooke Peris and then watch on as a penalty corner flashed wide of the target but Great Britain were able to run the clock down and clinch a famous win.
Great Britain’s next match is Monday at 22:00 vs. India, live on BBC Sport
Lily Owsley, Great Britain forward:
“We gave them the respect they deserved going into the game. They’ve had the better of us in other games so we knew it’d be tough and they’d come out flying. We had to match them and that’s what we did early on. We got the momentum throughout the game and were able to get the win. To say we’ve been waiting for this game for a while is an understatement; We’ve been waiting four years and it’s great to get the ball rolling.”
“As far as Saturday nights go, making my Olympic debut and scoring on it tops most other Saturday nights as a 21-year-old. I’m over the moon to get the three points in the group stage. To be where we want to be puts us in a strong position. We have to take it game by game and it’s a long group stage but to start with three points is really important.”
Great Britain team vs. Australia
|Laura Unsworth||East Grinstead|
|Crista Cullen||No Club|
|Sophie Bray||East Grinstead|
|Hannah Macleod||St Albans|
|Lily Owsley||University of Birmingham|