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GB to play Korea in Champions Trophy hockey quarter finals
A penalty corner double from Leicester's Crista Cullen and a goal from Slough’s Ashleigh Ball helped Great Britain to a 3-1 victory over China, the Olympic silver medallists, at the Champions Trophy in Rosario.
Great Britain will now play Korea in the quarter-finals on Thursday at 8.30pm UK time. The match will be shown on BBC Red Button.The result, coupled with the Netherlands’ earlier 4-1 defeat of Japan, left Great Britain second in Pool A, behind the Dutch on goals scored.
Great Britain played an almost faultless high-tempo first half but one in which they might have hoped for more goals. China were also unlucky not to equalise in the 10th minute when Tang Chunling claimed a touch on a cross that ended up in the GB goal behind returning keeper Beth Storry. The video was, however, inconclusive and the pitch umpire's 'no goal' call stood.
By that stage GB Cullen had set GB on their way with a PC drag flick, courtesy of some deradful goalkeeping by Zhang Liu. She made some amends saving two, far more difficult corner shots before the break.
In the 42nd minute, Cullen netted her second. This time hitting the ball from a penalty corner, her effort came up off the stick of an onrushing defender, who could only deflect the ball towards goal.
Baorong Fu halved the deficit shortly after, remaining cool to finish confidently from close range after being the recipient of a bobbling ball inside the Great Britain circle. The four times World All Star’s shot left Beth Storry with no chance.
But just as China looked to have found a way back into contention, a moment of excellence from Chloe Rogers at the other end set up Ashleigh Ball for Great Britain’s third goal. Carrying the ball in along the right baseline, Leicester midfielder Rogers drew the goalkeeper before confidently flicking it over her. As it came down, the audacious chip looked to be heading over the line until the intervention of Yibo Ma. However, Ma’s clearance was momentary as Ball followed up to strike an upright reverse stick shot home to make it 3-1.
Both sides created further set piece opportunities from penalty corners but neither could fully capitalise and it finished 3-1. With her brace, Crista Cullen remains the tournament’s top goal scorer with five goals.
Great Britain coach Danny Kerry said, “It was a very, very tough game. We covered a lot of distance out there. I know we can play better but it’s a good result against the Olympic silver medallists.
“I think we have been consistent over the first three matches, especially in hot conditions. Today was better and we could attack more. I’m reasonably happy with the three matches.
“Today, we should have scored more and equally China could scored more. It was close. Where we came in the group was always up to us and not reliant on anyone else.”
Captain Kate Walsh also admitted Great Britain have more to come, adding, “We know we can play better and hopefully we can show this as the tournament progresses.”
Having finished second in Pool A, Great Britain will play against the team finishing third in the other pool, Pool B. The quarter finals take place on Thursday.
GREAT BRITAIN SQUAD v CHINA
*caps and goals on the attached document
Beth Storry (Reading) Goalkeeper
Crista Cullen (Leicester) Defender
Emily Maguire (Reading) Defender
Anne Panter (Leicester) Defender
Natalie Seymour (EuroCanterbury) Defender
Kate Walsh (Reading) Defender
Helen Richardson (Reading) Midfielder
Chloe Rogers (Leicester) Midfielder
George Twigg (Clifton) Midfielder
Alex Danson (Reading) Forward
Sarah Thomas (No Club) Forward
Laura Unsworth (Loughborough Students) Defender
Ashleigh Ball (Slough) Midfielder
Laura Bartlett (Reading) Forward
Hannah Macleod (Leicester) Forward
Nicola White (Slough) Forward
Did Not Play
Abi Walker (EuroCanterbury) Goalkeeper
Sally Walton (Bowdon Hightown) Defender