FIH Champions Trophy, Rosario, Argentina
( Saturday, 28 January 2012source EH/GB Hockey Communications. Editing, additional research and images john coxon media)
GREAT BRITAIN 3 (2)
Crista Cullen 21 (PC)
Helen Richardson 33 (F)
Alex Danson 64 (F)
JAPAN 0 (0)
On a hot and sunny afternoon in Rosario, Great Britain women’s hockey team got their Champions Trophy campaign underway with a 3-0 victory over Japan putting them at the top of Pool A. Earlier on in the afternoon the Netherlands won their first game against China 3-1 and Argentina drew with New Zealand.
(Great Britain thus continue their remarkable record of having never suffered a Champions Trophy defeat when Crista Cullen gets on the score-sheet thanks to a 3-0 win against Japan. The 26 year old scored the opening goal and Great Britain have never lost a Champions Trophy match when her name was mentioned on the score-sheet.)
Canterbury’s Abi Walker and Leicester’s Anne Panter watched the first game from the sidelines.
Great Britain started strongly with several circle penetrations and half chances in the first ten minutes, Reading’s Alex Danson causing many of the early headaches for Japan to deal with.
On 21 minutes Leicester’s Crista Cullen made it 1-0 scoring her 18th goal in Great Britain colours with a powerful drag flick from the first penalty corner of the game. Cullen narrowly missed adding her second a short time after following some great work from Danson on the edge of the circle to win Great Britain their second penalty corner.
Great Britain continued to press in the closing minutes of the first half and with just two minutes to go some great team work from Slough’s Ashleigh Ball and Cullen saw them take possession back.
Following a play of advantage from the umpire in the circle Reading’s Helen Richardson found herself with space and time to smash the ball into the back of the net past the near post to make it 2-0.
Great Britain started the second half very much as they had ended the first with Danson creating a chance in the opening minute. Japan however weren’t giving up without a fight and they tested the Great Britain defence several times in the first ten minutes pushing hard and earning themselves their first penalty corner of the game.
The corner resulted in a penalty stroke initially being awarded to Japan, but GB successfully challenged and overturned the decision. The video referral showing that the initial shot had been going wide when Helen Richardson stopped the ball with her arm.
During the second half Japan’s number 4, Sachimi Iwao, made two goal saving tackles against Alex Danson to keep Japan in the game. Moments later Danson was again involved in the action, earning her team their third penalty corner of the game. Great Britain failed to convert their chance and continued to be placed under pressure by Japan who certainly enjoyed the majority of possession throughout the second half.
Following Japan’s second penalty corner of the game, which they failed to convert, Leicester’s Chloe Rogers took the ball the length of the pitch and crossed a fantastic ball to Danson who was waiting on the goal line to make it 3-0. Japan took their video referral to ask about dangerous play which was denied. The game finished 3-0.
Speaking after the game Great Britain’s head coach, Danny Kerry said, “We were dominant in the first half and given the conditions I’m really pleased with the team’s performance. We knew it would be a tough game today and the great execution of the first corner was really important for us to gain control early on.”
Great Britain’s Captain Kate Walsh, was pleased with her team’s opening performance saying, “This was a professional start to the tournament and we stuck to the game plan well.” Kerry highlighted some concerns over the scheduling of the Pool matches for the tournament with Pool A games all taking place during the afternoon and Pool B games in the cooler evening temperature. Walsh, however added, “We have a very physically fit team and have worked hard to overcome the heat.”
Congratulations Japanese team-captain Yukari Yamamoto and Rika Komazawa played their 200th internationals today.
In other games World Champions and hosts Argentina's Las Leonas could only manage a draw with the NZ Blacksticks. The Netherlands had made the perfect start to the defence of their title with a 3-1 victory over China in the opening match in Rosario.
Great Britain squad v Japan
Beth Storry (Reading) Goalkeeper
Crista Cullen (Leicester) Defender
Emily Maguire (Reading) Defender
Laura Unsworth (Loughborough Students) Defender
Sally Walton (Bowdon Hightown) Defender
Kate Walsh (Reading) Defender
Ashleigh Ball (Slough) Midfielder
Helen Richardson (Reading) Midfielder
Chloe Rogers (Leicester) Midfielder
Alex Danson (Reading) Forward
Nicola White (Slough) Forward
Natalie Seymour (EuroCanterbury) Defender
George Twigg (Clifton) Midfielder
Laura Bartlett (Reading) Forward
Hannah Macleod (Leicester) Forward
Sarah Thomas (No Club) Forward
Did Not Play
Abi Walker (EuroCanterbury) Goalkeeper
Anne Panter (Leicester) Defender
1. Great Britain (3 pts)
2. Netherlands (3 pts)
3. China (0 pts)
4. Japan (0 pts)
1. Argentina (0 pts)
2. Germany (0 pts)
3. Korea (0 pts)
4. New Zealand (0 pts)