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GB women close in on hockey semi spot

August 2, 2012 20:51 pm

Great Britain's women's hockey team moved to within a point of qualifying for the semi-finals with a hard-working 3-0 victory over Belgium.

Goals from Ashleigh Ball, Laura Bartlett and Crista Cullen were enough to secure a win despite a late rally by their opponents.

They require only a point against China on Saturday to be sure of a place in the last four and are still on course to top Pool A.

Four days after fracturing her jaw on this pitch captain Kate Walsh, now with a titanium plate inserted, was named in the squad but her role was purely observational and she remained on the bench throughout the warm-up and game.

What she witnessed was a bright start soon fading as, in the first half, GB represented a shadow of their former selves in this tournament so far.

Alex Danson, recovered from an ankle injury sustained late in the Tuesday's 5-3 win over South Korea, hammered a trademark reverse-stick shot over inside two minutes. After, the only real goalmouth action came when Danson played in Nic White on her own in front of the goalkeeper only for Aisling D'Hooghe to quickly smother the danger.

It was not until two minutes before the interval GB made the breakthrough via in a good old-fashioned manner rather than an expansive passing move which has become more the norm nowadays. Sarah Thomas' shot was deflected into the path of Chloe Rogers close to the right byline and she pulled it back for Ball to sweep home her first Olympic goal.

After the interval, Hannah Macleod slipped a pass to Bartlett on the left of the circle and she transferred it to her reverse-stick side and beat D'Hooghe, who will have been disappointed to see the ball squeeze under her body. In doing so the Scott became the eighth different scorer in three Pool A matches so far.

GB goalkeeper Beth Storry had been a virtual spectator but did well to block Lieselotte van Lindt's shot and was then tested with a couple of others as Belgium launched a late flurry.

But any fears of letting the lead slip were snuffed out minutes from the end when Cullen powered home a low penalty corner flick.

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