GB hockey men and women take huge step towards Tokyo
02 November 2019 / 19:41
Great Britain's men's and women's hockey teams both took a huge step towards Tokyo 2020 qualification by winning the first legs of their Olympic qualifiers at Lee Valley.
The women’s side comfortably beat Chile 3-0 while the men produced a stunning second-half comeback to defeat Malaysia 4-1.
Great Britain’s women, who came into the weekend knowing it was their last chance to qualify and try to defend the title they won at Rio 2016, are in a strong position to head to Tokyo thanks to goals from Izzy Petter, Hannah Martin and Anna Toman.
The game was goalless at half-time, but Petter found a breakthrough five minutes after the break with a stunning solo effort to put the defending Olympic champions in front at Lee Valley.
Martin and Toman then scored in what was a dominant second half from the hosts to ensure Great Britain go into Sunday’s second leg with a great chance of qualifying, with the side with the highest aggregate score across the two legs taking a place at Tokyo.
Their lead may be comfortable, but captain Hollie Pearne-Webb doesn’t want the team to get ahead of themselves just yet knowing there is another big 60 minutes left to play.
"We're pleased with the result but it's job half done – there will be absolutely no complacency, we know we're not qualified yet," said the Rio 2016 gold medallist.
"We started tentatively, the nerves showed and there is plenty to improve on.
"Hopefully the nerves will have gone by then, it's a fresh start.
“We would have liked to score more, but we have another game to go tomorrow so the focus is on that.
“We knew they were going to come out hard, but we knew we had to stick to our gameplan. That’s what we did, and we managed to have quite a few chances.
“Playing at home is always incredible and the fortress we have made here at Lee Valley is special.”
The men’s win over Malaysia was not quite as simple, the visitors taking the lead when Nabir Noor scored from a corner after six minutes.
But Danny Kerry’s men managed to turn their fortunes around, Sam Ward, Phil Roper, Alan Forsyth and James Gall all netting to give the hosts a huge advantage ahead of Sunday’s second.
But goalscorer Roper is in no doubt as to the magnitude of Sunday's task, knowing Great Britain will need to stay on top of their game to see off their opponents, who will be hungry for the comeback.
"It's a strange one, we're not used to playing two games in a row and the aggregate score is new to us," he said.
"They'll have everything to play for and nothing to lose so they're going to come out hard in the second leg.
"We need to react and be positive but we're confident we can get it done."
Picture credit: Great Britain Hockey