Women’s Champions Trophy: Great Britain 4-1 Korea.

Two goals from Reading’s Alex Danson alongside a virtuoso display from Helen Richardson saw Great Britain through to set up a Semi Final tie with old foes Germany.

From the start, as in their last game, Great Britain pressed high up the pitch not allowing their opponents time and space on the ball. Korea seemed content to sit back, adopting a half court press to try and frustrate Britain.

It took just 5 minutes for the first short corner to be won. Crista Cullen, with 5 goals in the tournament so far stepped up but saw her flick saved by goalkeeper Soo Ji Jang.

Great Britain looked to use quick restarts to try and catch their opponents out. From another of these on 11 minutes, Alex Danson did well to find some space in the D, but her shot was blocked by Jang and scrambled clear.

Five minutes later Nicola White won another short corner. Kate Walsh flicked the ball low to the goalkeeper’s right where Georgie Twigg got the faintest touch to divert the ball into the corner off the post to give her side the lead.

Just four minutes later, Natalie Seymour linked well with Helen Richardson. The FIH All Star showed superb 3-D skills to get to the baseline. She slipped the ball back to Danson who made no mistake from 8 yards out, calmly lifting the ball over the on-rushing goalkeeper and into the net.

Only two more minutes had elapsed when a long ball found Danson in the D again. Brimming with confidence, the Reading star turned, held off the defender and sent a superb reverse stick strike into the far corner giving the goalkeeper no chance. 3-0 and Great Britain were in complete control.

Korea had shown little or no ambition going forward for the entire half. Their first entry into the circle came on 30 minutes. A long ball in was deflected goal wards by Mi Hyan Park, Beth Storry made a fine save, but the striker got to the rebound first and was brought down by the Great Britain keeper to give away a penalty stroke. Seon Ok Lee stepped up and despatched the chance to make it 3-1.

For the remainder of the half Korea showed some ambition going forward at last. On half time they won a short corner which Lee slipped to the far post for Sung Hee Gim to deflect. Beth Storry managed to adjust her body and made a wonderful save with her glove to keep the chance out. It was another reminder of why some rate Storry as the best in the world.

That was it for the first half. Korea showed no attacking ambition until the final five minutes. Great Britain had shown great patience and been extremely clinical in front of goal, which was so far the difference between the sides. Korea’s coach, Lim Jung Woo was extremely animated during his half-time team talk. Would his players show the same amount of passion in the 2nd half?

Korea came out strongly and won a penalty corner within 2 minutes of the restart. The ball was slipped to the far post for a deflection, but Helen Richardson reacted first and drilled the ball to safety.

Korea forced a series of further corners as they enjoyed a spell of domination but they were unable to capitalise on them.

Great Britain were being pegged back in their own half and finding it difficult to maintain possession of the ball or to get their forwards involved. Korea’s change in tactics had put them firmly in the driving seat. Despite this, Great Britain’s defence held firm and weathered the storm. With 16 minutes of the half gone, Ashleigh Ball won a short corner. Kate Walsh sent the ball low towards the right had post where Helen Richardson slid in to divert the ball home for the fourth goal. A slick routine which saw the Reading star get the goal her tireless performance deserved.

With the game starting to fizzle out, Alex Danson was still hunting for her hat-trick goal. On 25 minutes she turned well onto her strong side and hit a fierce shot goalwards which Jang did well to keep out.

With time almost up, Korea won a penalty corner, much to the disappointment of captain Kate Walsh. Seon Ok Lee sent a low flick towards the bottom corner, but Storry showed her class once again and turned the ball round the post at full stretch with her stick. That seemed to be Korea’s last chance, and Great Britain ran the clock down for a well-earned win.

Britain seem to be coming into form at just the right time: Their ruthlessness in front of goal as well as their solid defending have ensured they are a side not to be taken lightly. With their semi-final opponents, Germany sneaking past Japan by 3 goals to 2, Danny Kerry’s side will feel they have a real chance in this tournament. To find out how they do, hit the BBC Red Button on Saturday night.

About thetopofthed

Columnist for The Hockey Paper and the man behind The Top of the D. Writer, podcaster, goalkeeper and BBC Sport man. Used to work for Great Britain Hockey and have covered the sport at every major tournament.
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