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Team GB denied by the woodwork

July 20, 2012 18:35 pm

Rachel Yankey came within inches of sending Great Britain's women's football team into their Olympic campaign on the back of a victory as the woodwork came to Sweden's rescue.

The 33-year-old Arsenal striker came off the bench at the break to rattle the post with a 70th-minute shot after being played in by fellow substitute Karen Carney. Great Britain held sway before the break, but were forced to defend for long periods after with Ife Dieke particularly impressive at the back as the Swedes staged a second-half fightback.

Hope Powell's side will nevertheless head into the tournament brimming with confidence after negotiating a difficult encounter with much credit.

Great Britain's women launch their first Olympic campaign against New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium next Wednesday in what will be the first event of the entire Olympic Games, and they will do so with high hopes of making an impact after more than holding the Swedes, who finished third at last summer's World Cup finals.

Striker Kelly Smith only just missed the target with an audacious effort from distance, with GB had suffered few scares of any note at the other end, although Casey Stoney was relieved to see Caroline Seger scuff her effort wide after the defender's error had presented she and Sofia Jakobsson with a gilt-edged opportunity.

But as time ran down, the visitors started to make an impression, and Karen Bardsley found herself in demand. The American-born keeper did well to beat away Kosovare Asllani's 40th-minute drive at her near post, and then had to deal with Jakobsson's skidding attempt after she had cut inside from space on the left as the whistle approached.

Both managers made changes at the break with Powell sending on Rachel Brown, Fara Williams and Yankey. The visitors soon enjoyed their best spell of the game, and Brown had little time to bed herself in before she had to claim Lisa Dahlkvist's 52nd-minute strike.

But it was Great Britain who came agonisingly close to taking the lead with 20 minutes remaining as Carney and Yankey combined to good effect. Carney's inch-perfect pass split the Swedish defence and allowed Yankey to run in on goal, but with Lindahl beaten, her shot came back off the post.

The Swedish keeper was beaten once again nine minutes later when Carney floated the ball over her head from 35 yards, but her effort also cleared the bar.

Yankey had another, harder, chance as time ran down after again finding space behind the Sweden defence, but with little support, she was unable to hit the target as the yellow shirts arrived in force.

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