A confident and hard working second half performance helped Great Britain’s women roar back from a goal behind to beat Germany for the second time in as many days but their satisfaction was tempered by an injury to Reading forward Laura Bartlett.
A clash with a German defender high up the field in the 33rd minute resulted in the Scot leaving the pitch on a stretcher to be taken to hospital for further examination.
The victory, Great Britain’s 12th in 30 meetings with Germany, came courtesy of Chloe Rogers and a double from Leicester defender Crista Cullen. All three goals came from second half penalty corners as Great Britain penned Germany deep inside their half for much of the period.
Great Britain welcomed back Reading pair Laura Bartlett and Emily Maguire following their Scottish assignment at the World Cup Qualifiers in Santiago, Chile, at the start of the month. Head Coach Danny Kerry elected to hand a Great Britain debut to 21 year old Leicester goalkeeper Maddie Hinch, whose only previous senior international appearance came in a developmental England side in October 2008, against Germany.
From the start Germany looked to stretch Great Britain with a series of long aerial passes from the back deep into the hosts’ half but Great Britain defended well in numbers; Leicester’s Laura Unsworth making a couple of solid tackles to prevent Germany from entering the circle.
As in Tuesday’s opening match Germany won two penalty corners in quick succession. Tina Bachmann’s first effort came off the foot of the onrushing Ashleigh Ball and Bachmann’s subsequent corner was well saved by Hinch in goal with her left glove. Unable to fully clear the danger, Hinch was in the thick of it seconds later as she kept out a high powerful shot with a combination of her glove and helmet.
Looking to establish themselves in the match, Great Britain pressed on but struggled to make an entry into the German circle until the tenth minute when good play from Slough’s Nicola White won Great Britain their first corner. From the set piece Crista Cullen was unlucky to see her effort come back of the post and bounce clear.
Following the let-off, Germany increased the pressure on Great Britain and Hinch was in action again not long afterwards, kicking clear a tame reverse stick effort before producing a good save low to her right from Germany captain Fanny Rinne at Germany’s third corner.
When Germany’s pressure eventually paid off midway through the half there was not much Hinch could do as a misplaced pass out of defence turned possession over to the Germans. Celine Wild picked up a quick through ball in space at the top of the circle with only Hinch to beat. Turning onto her forehand she fired the ball past Hinch, despite the goalkeeper’s dive to her left.
The visitors, ranked fourth in the world, almost forced a second shortly afterwards when a speculative long pass went off the backline from a British stick. Receiving the quickly taken corner, Maike Stockel drove into the circle and unleashed a shot from the top that Hinch again kept out, this time stretching with her right foot.
Britain were able to enjoy some possession just after the half hour mark when Lina Geyer was shown a green card and subsequently served a two minute suspension for a heavy challenge on Helen Richardson, to whom she had just lost the ball on the halfway line. The Germans dropped deep to defend but GB had little time to make inroads before Laura Bartlett collapsed to the floor holding her right knee following a minor collision.
The 21 year old Beijing Olympian was still on the ground several minutes later as she was attended to by the team’s medical staff before being taken off the pitch.
Following a frustrating first half, Great Britain immediately signalled their intent at the start of the second. Reading’s Jo Ellis began a move down the left that resulted in Laura Unsworth drilling the ball across the German circle but Bowdon Hightown’s Sally Walton failed to connect on the penalty spot.
Chloe Rogers and Alex Danson, and then Danson and Nicola White, combined well on the right in the minutes that followed but Germany recovered inside their circle on each occasion. Germany goalkeeper Yvonne Frank, a relative spectator aside from the penalty corner, smothered Danson’s probing dribble along the baseline with fewer than five minutes of the half played.
Frank was unable to stop Great Britain a minute later though as Chloe Rogers netted the equaliser from a penalty corner. The ball out from Ellis to Cullen at the top was slipped sideways to Rogers whose low flick went beyond the outstretched right leg of Franks into the bottom corner for 1-1.
Within three minutes Great Britain had turned the game on its head, once again scoring a penalty corner. Leicester’s Kerry Williams won the first of two penalty corners but the effort was saved by Frank. Another corner followed and this time it was Cullen who took responsibility from the top of the circle. Her flick into the inside right of the goal seemed to catch the goalkeeper by surprise, putting her off balance and putting Britain into the lead.
The hosts were by now enjoying the vast majority of possession and mistakes began to creep into the Germans’ play. Leicester’s Chloe Rogers rode a tackle before cutting back to the centre where clubmate Katie Long was waiting but a defender’s intervention prevented her from hitting the target.
Growing in confidence, GB won another penalty corner in the 53rd minute when Danson was heavily fouled in the 23m area. Staying on strike, Cullen elected to go the other way and slotted the ball home into the bottom left corner to put her team 3-1 up.
Germany seemed to sense the urgency of the situation following the goal and changed things in the final 15 minutes, pressing higher up the pitch and hunting down British defenders, giving them very little time on the ball in their own half.
Crista Cullen deflected a tame German shot wide as the match entered the final ten minutes and from the resulting move Hinch made her first save of the second half from Katherina Otte’s shot from the edge of the circle.
German pressure was mounting and Eileen Hoffmann set up a nervy final few minutes as she got the final touch on a driven pass from the left to make it 3-2 in the 63rd minute. Almost from the re-start Germany were up in the GB half again but a tame shot wide ended what had been a dangerous break.
With just minutes remaining Germany won a penalty corner after Maike Stockel’s good work down the right forced some scrambled defending in front of goal. A mistake at the top of the circle let the visitors down though and Ashleigh Ball pounced to clear upfield to Walton. She fed Rogers who broke into the German circle before unleashing a powerful shot at Frank’s near post which the goalkeeper was equal to.
Defending in numbers at the other end, Great Britain held Germany at bay as the clock ticked down to hold on to their 3-2 lead and with it, secure a 2-0 series win.
Afterwards Danny Kerry admitted his side had been outplayed in the first half, offering praise to his debutant goalkeeper Maddie Hinch: “Maddie kept us in the game in the first half,” he said, “she has done herself plenty of favours today.”
Talking about the difference in performance between the two halves, Kerry said, “Germany out-competed us in one-to-ones in the first half but we handled their aerial ball better in the second half and I thought we were the better side in the second half. In the last few minutes we didn’t react well to Germany’s change in style and it caused us some problems.”
News on the knee injury sustained by Laura Bartlett is minimal at this stage. She was taken to hospital for further examination after receiving treatment from Great Britain Hockey’s medical team on site.
Louise Hudson, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine