Five different goal scorers gave Great Britain their second win in as many games at the London Olympics in a topsy-turvy encounter with Korea this afternoon.
Missing Captain Kate Walsh, recovering from a broken jaw sustained against Japan, Great Britain gave the captaincy to Helen Richardson in her 230th appearance.
Roared on, as ever by a vociferous home crowd, Great Britain got off to a dream start as Nicola White opened the scoring. Her mazy run gave her space in the D and her low shot bamboozled Soo Ji Jang, whose mistake let the ball squeeze under her glove and over the line.
The lead didn’t last that long, and Kim Darae profited from a mix-up between Chloe Rogers and Beth Storry in the D to make the scores 1-1 after 18 minutes.
Great Britain hit back and had their opponents penned in their own half. A strong run forward by Clifton’s Georgie Twigg opened things up, and Chloe Rogers’ excellent close control won her side a penalty corner. Up stepped Crista Cullen to score her 52nd international goal with an unstoppable low drag flick. Coach Lim Heung Sun had seen enough and opted to replace his goalkeeper with Young Hui Moon for the remainder of the game. The change was, in truth a little harsh on Jang.
There was a slight scare in the dying seconds of the half as Mih Yun Park rounded Beth Storry in the D, but was beaten by the half time whistle and the score remained 2-1.
It took just three minutes for Great Britain to strike again. A strong run from Sarah Thomas won her side a penalty corner. With everyone expecting a direct flick from Crista Cullen, no one noticed Alex Danson’s movement. In a perfectly executed training ground routine, Cullen’s fierce low pass was superbly deflected past the goalkeeper by a diving Danson.
At this point, the home side were totally dominant. FIH All Star Park was hardly getting a look in as Laura Unsworth and Emily Maguire were having stand out games in defence whilst Georgie Twigg was doing a splendid job of breaking up attacks just in front of the defence. The game started to become a bit scrappy, with Korea fighting hard to try to give themselves a chance of snatching a point.
Not long after, Korea hit back. A clever penalty corner move was saved by Beth Storry, but Han Hye Lyoung was on hand to snap up the rebound to make it 3-2. Just four minutes later the crowd were stunned into silence as Park Mi Hyun tied it up at 3-3. The star striker was left all alone at the back post as Yu Mi Jeon’s cross evaded everyone.
With less than ten minutes to go, some good individual skills from Hannah MacLeod won her side a penalty corner. With Crista Cullen off the pitch, Great Britain were going to try a variation. Instead, the set piece broke down as Helen Richardson was unable to trap the ball. Showing great composure she slotted the ball back into the D, finding Laura Bartlett. Bartlett found Georgie Twigg, who under immense pressure, drew the goalkeeper and despatched the ball on the reverse stick to make it 4-3. Korea asked for a video referral but the goal was given.
Laura Bartlett then linked up well with Nicola White but the Slough forward was denied by some excellent goalkeeping. With time running out, Korea’s replacement goalkeeper Moon mirrored her colleague’s first half error, getting her angles all wrong, allowing Chloe Rogers to prod home from close range to notch up her 16th goal for Great Britain, making the three points safe for her side.
With the game fizzling out Great Britain’s injury curse struck again. Alex Danson left the field on a stretcher after appearing to roll her ankle under pressure from Seo Nok Lee. With Kate Walsh already an injury doubt, Great Britain can ill afford to lose another one of their most important players. Fans and players alike will be checking on the progress of Danson as they hope to see the Reading star fully fit for the hosts’ next game against Belgium on Thursday.