Great Britain’s five match test series against Argentina got off to a disappointing start in Salta on Saturday as four second half goals from Las Leonas undid the hard work that Danny Kerry’s side had put into an encouraging first period.
Prior to the match, eight of the 18 athletes in Danny Kerry’s squad had never played for Great Britain and Kerry opted to hand six of them debuts in the opening test; Natalie Seymour and Laura Unsworth started the match while Gemma Darrington, Hannah Macleod, Emily Maguire and Nicola White all came off the bench.
The opening five minutes saw the hosts in charge as the visitors found their feet. Hannah Macleod created Great Britain’s first foray into Argentinean territory in the sixth minute but Las Leonas goalkeeper Succi was equal to the task. After 18 minutes Rebecca Herbert had a chance for GB but Succi was again able to clear the danger to the flank.
Luciana Aymar, the six times World Player of the Year, was at the centre of Argentina’s quickest breaks but the game remained even as Great Britain coped well against the side ranked second in the world.
As the first half wore on Great Britain enjoyed sustained periods of possession until Crista Cullen, back in the side after a year long sabbatical, received a green card. As at the recent men’s ABN AMRO Champions Trophy, the officials are experimenting with a two minute suspension for green cards and Cullen took an enforced breather with four minutes of the half remaining.
Just two minutes later Argentina had the lead through Delfina Merina’s individual effort and despite a resolute and confident first half performance Great Britain went in at the break one goal down.
The second half began with Alejandra Gulla doubling Argentina’s lead from a Merino pass just five minutes in while at the other end Cullen had a penalty corner effort cleared.
On 57 minutes Merino netted her second from a move down the GB left and from there on Great Britain found themselves in trouble as first Rosario Luchetti scored a good individual goal before Ana Macarena Rodriguez Perez made it 5-0 with just two minutes remaining.
From the re-start Great Britain attacked and Rebecca Herbet put the finish on a move for her second ever GB goal but it was little consolation after a second half in which the hosts had dominated.
Speaking afterwards, Danny Kerry said he was disappointed with the second half performance but pleased with how his side had played in the early stages: “I’m disappointed that we reverted to type in the second half when we began to get tired. That’s when our bad habits came back and they hurt us. I was very encouraged with the first half though; there were some encouraging signs before the opening goal.”
Louise Hudson, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine