Patience was a virtue for Great Britain’s women as they eventually wore down Spain to make it a winning start to their World League Semi Final in Valencia.
Goals in the final quarter from old head Alex Danson and debutant Joie Leigh handed Great Britain a 2-0 victory against a determined Spanish outfit.
In what is the first opportunity to qualify for next year’s Olympics, Great Britain headed into the tournament knowing a top-three finish in Spain will book their spot on the plane to Rio.
But it was no easy opener in Pool A as Spain, ranked 15th in the world compared to Great Britain’s eight-place ranking, matched their opponents for large parts.
Leigh had the best of the openings in the first quarter but shot tamely at the Spanish goalkeeper while Helen Richardson-Walsh couldn’t apply the finish at the far post before the interval.
Great Britain continued to look for the breakthrough but Kate Richardson-Walsh’s penalty corner crashed against the post before Spain found the net themselves but saw it chalked off for being too high from the penalty corner.
Then on 49 minutes, Danson picked herself up after being fouled to fire in a penalty stroke before crossing the ball a minute later for Leigh to bag her first international goal.
Captain Kate Richardson-Walsh said: “I’m happy with the result, it’s good to score a couple of goals.
“There was a point in the first half where I thought ‘is the ball ever going to get in the goal?’
“But we stayed patient and we stayed with it. Spain are playing fantastically well. We played them a few times in the build up, they are a good side with lots of energy and as fit as they have ever been.
“So I’m really pleased with the result. Alex is a fantastic striker, she’s very good under pressure so there was no doubt she was going to put that away.
“We’ve got some really exciting talent. Joie Leigh and Lily Owsley for example playing up front, and I’m just really pleased she (Joie) got on the scoresheet.”
© Sportsbeat 2015