Source: GB Hockey

Two Victories For GB As Men Top Canada, Women Defeat South Africa

  • +1
  • Consecutive victories for GB’s men who defeat Canada 3-1
  • Liam Ansell scores a brace, Sam Ward also on target
  • GB’s women overpower South Africa with 4-1 triumph
  • Ellie Rayer nets two, Lily Owsley and Laura Unsworth also score
  • Men face Germany next on Wednesday 27 July at 04:15 BST, women to play India at 02:00 on Thursday 28 July

Great Britain’s men made it back-to-back victories in the Pool stage of the Tokyo Olympics with a 3-1 victory over Canada.

The team hit the crossbar, post, and saw the opposition goalkeeper make several impressive saves in a first half that would somehow finish goalless.

It was a different matter come the third quarter as Liam Ansell and Sam Ward both found the target with GB truly in the ascendancy.

Though Canada brought one back late on, any nerves were quickly shut down as Ansell hit his second of the match to make it consecutive victories for Great Britain’s men.

Meanwhile, Great Britain’s women secured their first win at the Tokyo Olympics with a 4-1 victory over South Africa.

Having gone behind early in the match, the team rallied and responded well to the adversity. Ellie Rayer erased the deficit in the final minute of the opening half with a composed finish on the volley.

Two goals spread a minute apart put GB firmly in the driver’s seat, Lily Owsley deflecting Anna Toman’s attempt over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net, before Laura Unsworth doubled the lead with a fantastic solo goal.

Rayer had her second of the match with only ten minutes remaining to ensure the team would take the three points with a 4-1 triumph.

Match report:

Great Britain 4 (1)

Rayer (29’, FG & 50’, FG), Owsley (39’, FG), Unsworth (40’, FG)

South Africa 1 (1)

Walraven (6’, PC)

South Africa started the game brightly and forced Maddie Hinch into making a smart save with less than five minutes on the clock.

There was little Hinch could do to prevent South Africa from taking the lead shortly after, as Nicole Walraven tucked the ball in at the far post to give the side a 1-0 advantage with just six minutes on the clock.

Owsley nearly produced a moment of magic when she weaved her way past numerous defenders to get into the circle, however, last ditch defending would prevent her from finding a telling shot.

Minutes later, Izzy Petter manufactured a chance for herself through clever close control, her shot on the reverse crashing into the side of the goal after shooting from a tight angle.

GB really ramped up the pressure and were rewarded for their endeavours just before the close of the half. Sarah Jones’ shot from the edge of the circle was drifting wide until Rayer popped up at the back post with a nice finish to level the scores in the final minute of play.

The team nearly had another before the end of the half. Giselle Ansley’s drag flick falling in the path of Shona McCallin, but the midfielder was just unable to find the critical touch to send it goalward.

Toman’s slap on goal saw GB start the second half in the same vein as Mark Hager’s side sought another score. The second goal followed a similar style. Toman drilled the ball on goal, this time Owsley finding a decisive deflection to send the ball over the ‘keeper and into the net to put GB 2-1 to the good.

A minute later, Laura Unsworth intercepted a loose ball between the last defenders and, with plenty of time and space, unleashed a fierce drive through the legs of the goalkeeper to add to GB’s advantage.

GB looked firmly in control and added to the score as the game entered the final ten minutes, Rayer bagging her second of the match. In what was a well crafted move, a perfectly weighted ball found Rayer, who drove at the goal and hammered the ball into the far corner with a clinical finish to give GB a 4-1 victory.

Next up, Great Britain’s women face India on Thursday 28 July at 02:00 BST.

Following the game, Ellie Rayer commented: “It was a good result and we’re really chuffed to come away with the three points.

“Against Germany yesterday we were really happy with how we came out and we executed. Today we started pretty slowly, we sort of let them get into the game and they took the lead early. For us, we need to go away and look at how we can start each game on the money, ready to go, and it doesn’t take a full half of hockey to get into it.

“It was pretty special to get two goals today. But this is why we do it, it’s like any other tournament really, we go out there to get the win. It’s nice to get on the scoresheet but it’s testament to the team and the work that we do together.

“We’re quite lucky in that we get to spend a lot of time together being on a centralised programme, so this feels like quite a normal environment to be in. There’s a lot of other athletes around which is an interesting factor though.

“Obviously we love playing in front of a crowd and these stands here would be incredible to have fans in. But we go out there and we’re still representing our country, we’ve got the badge on our shirts, and that’s what we’re going out here to do. We know there’s people back home watching and around the world watching, so we’re working hard to put some good performances in.”

Starting XI: Hinch (GK), Unsworth, Toman, Jones, Townsend, Robertson, Rayer, Ansley, Pearne-Webb, McCallin, Owsley

Subs: Martin, Petter, Wilkinson, Crackles, Balsdon

Match report:
Great Britain 3 (0)
Ansell (33’, FG & 55’, FG), Ward (41’, PC)
Canada 1 (0)
van Son (51’, FG)

Great Britain were looking threatening from the off with a succession of penalty corners coming within the opening minutes of the half.

Phil Roper twice looked to have given GB an early lead when his initial drag flick was blocked on the line by the last remaining defender before his next effort smacked into the crossbar.

As GB ramped up the pressure, Chris Griffiths conjured a sublime strike on the half-volley, though his thumping drive was well met by a fantastic save from Antoni Kindler in the Canadian goal.

Sam Ward also came agonisingly close to putting GB ahead as he broke forward on the counter-attack. With time to pick out his spot, the forward’s powerful shot on the reverse rocketed past Kindler but was then met by the far post as the woodwork denied Danny Kerry’s side once again.

It was all one-way traffic through the first half, though Canada were defending admirably, the team were struggling to create any meaningful chances of their own as the score remained goalless heading into half time.

After being frustrated through the opening half, the GB pressure would eventually tell after the interval. Just a few minutes after the half time break, Ansell found himself with time on the ball to produce a tidy finish and send GB ahead with his second goal in as many matches at the Tokyo Games.

The third quarter would prove to be decisive as Ward doubled the GB advantage with another superb drag flick from a penalty corner.

Canada wouldn’t go down without a fight and brought one back with ten minutes remaining to make GB work for their victory. Floris van Son’s brilliant reverse stick shot smacking into the inside of the post on its way into the goal to make it 2-1.

The team ensured there would be some nervy moments for GB, winning their first penalty corner of the match and testing the defence with two further set pieces.

However, GB held firm and quickly ended the Canadian pressure. Phil Roper’s shot was veering wide, but Ansell was on hand to tuck it in from close range at the back post to bag his second of the match and restore the two goal cushion.

With Kindler withdrawn for an extra outfielder, GB nearly made it four when Chris Griffiths latched onto an aerial into the Canadian circle, however the forward’s attempt flew just wide of the target.

The result means that Great Britain’s men have two wins from two games going into their next match against Germany on Wednesday 27 July at 04:15 BST.

After the match, Head Coach Danny Kerry commented: “We showed glimpses of our level of play but also the bit of tension in the game means that we aren’t playing high enough, so we need to be playing our game more consistently. We can take positives in that we’ve won both of our opening games.

“I think you have to understand when you’re playing teams ranked lower than you that they have nothing to lose and it’s a win-win for them. You have to play with the expectation and judgement on your shoulders. When our chances hit the crossbar, the post, and the goalkeeper also made a world-class save, but the game is still tight, then you feel the pressure a bit and I think that’s what happened to the lads today.

“What was good today was that when Canada took their goalkeeper off, we remembered our processes and nearly converted off them, so it was good to see that clarity of mind in that moment. Despite not playing anywhere near our best, we’ve still won our first two games.”

Liam Ansell added: “It’s a big three points for us. We knew coming into this game that we wanted to leave a mark on the game, keep a lot of the ball, and make them run, so that hopefully by the end of the game we’d have the energy advantage to score those goals. I think in these tournaments, the games are quick and fast, so we need to train, recover, and prep for Germany tomorrow now.

“We want to win every game. As a team you never want to lose or draw, you always go out there to win, so our focus is firmly on the next three Pool matches. They’re tough opponents but we’ve beaten them in the past. We want to go out and do that again and keep the momentum going.”

Starting XI: Ames, Griffiths, Ward, Roper, Dixon (C), Creed, Payne (GK), Waller, Gall, Sorsby, Wallace
Subs: Draper, Shipperley, Sloan, Ansell, Sanford