OLYMPICS LONDON 2012: China sneak victory over Team GB
THIS STORY IS BEING LIVE EDITED... DEVELOPING
By Phil Jones, Sportsbeat, London 2012
GREAT Britain’s women hockey players dropped their first points of London 2012 in a lacklustre defeat to China.
CAPTAIN'S RETURN: Anne Panter challenged by China's Liang Meiyu in Team GB's first loss
Team GB received a boost prior to the match as captain Kate Walsh returned to the starting line-up having fractured her jaw only six days ago.
It was ultimately an unhappy return though as her side went down 2-1 to the Beijing silver medallists.
The home side’s goalscorer Crista Cullen was disappointed with their performance but quick to praise their opponents.
“They didn't allow us many chances and we dropped off in the first half, but towards the end we played really well, really gutsy,” said the World Championships bronze medallist.
“They needed a win and that's what they got. They won silver in Bejing. They are a counter-attacking team with very skilful forwards who are able to get corners.
“They didn't allow us much open play with their very compact defence. They marked well, sticking like glue to us.”
In an uneventful first-half that featured little action in either side’s circle, the most dramatic moment came when Anne Panter was struck in the face by the ball.
Fears of another serious injury were allayed though as she walked from the pitch and emerged for the second-half.
The second 35 minutes again featured little action in open play and was dominated by penalty corners.
China were the most efficient and converted two of their three corners to take a 2-0 lead courtesy of Fu Baorong and Zhao Yudiao.
Penalty corner specialist Crista Cullen finally converted from Britain’s fifth corner, low to the bottom right corner.
With just one minute to go though it was too little too late and Britain couldn’t force the equaliser.
The loss leaves Team GB in second place in Pool A with just one game to go against leaders the Netherlands.
Great Britain will need to win the game to guarantee progression to the semi-finals but a draw will more than likely be enough and Cullen is aware of the dangers the reigning Olympic champions possess.
“They are a very good team and have the luxury of knowing they are already in the semis. They could take their foot off the pedal because of that,” she said.
"We are a team with a lot of character, we know how to pick ourselves up. It's how you react to defeat that counts. We'll go all out to beat the Netherlands and to capitalise on our three wins so far, not our one defeat."
© Sportsbeat 2012