Great Britain forward Alex Danson (pictured middle) capped her milestone 50th international appearance for GB with the winning goal against Korea on the opening day of the Visa International Invitational Hockey Tournament.
It was also her 50th goal at international level, including goals for England.
On the day that captain Kate Walsh joined an exclusive group of nine players in winning her 100th cap for Great Britain, her side finished victorious in its first official match at the Riverbank Arena in front of 4,000 vocal and partisan supporters.
After a goalless first half in which Korea enjoyed the better of the opportunities, Great Britain responded in the second half forcing two smart saves from Younghui Moon before Danson struck late on.
The 26 year old said afterwards, “The atmosphere was amazing. It was incredible to receive my 50th cap here on home turf in front of a home crowd and it was lovely to get a goal too.
“I was thinking I’d take it on my reverse because I’m pretty comfortable there and I just hit it. The goalkeeper got a glove to it but it was great to see it go in.”
Following the presentations to Walsh and Danson and a rousing rendition of the national anthem, Great Britain began brightly with Sarah Thomas testing Moon as early as the fourth minute with a low shot.
But that was to be Great Britain’s best chance of the half as Korea replied, winning a brace of penalty corners in the twelfth minute.
The first was saved by Reading goalkeeper Beth Storry while the second flew wide of the goal.
Storry was again called into action from another penalty corner soon after but she was up to the task. At the other end, shortly before half time, Great Britain had a penalty corner awarded and then reversed following a successful appeal by the Korean defence to the video umpire.
The second half saw few clear cut opportunities for either side before Clifton’s Georgie Twigg robbed her opponent and played in Reading’s Helen Richardson.
Richardson’s clever flick was well saved by Moon who thwarted the same player minutes later.
Richardson’s efforts were a sign of things to come and with eight minutes remaining Danson struck from a similar position.
Her reverse stick effort from the left of the circle looped up and off the goalkeeper’s glove into the far side of the net to the delighted of the Reading forward and the crowd, many of whom were wearing red as encouraged by Great Britain Hockey.
Late on, Great Britain survived another Korean corner, during which Leicester’s Crista Cullen was winded but the defender got up to continue the game and see out the victory.
Speaking after the match, Great Britain Head Coach Danny Kerry said, “We had intercepts in the circle but then poor execution in the circle.
“In terms of chances Korea probably shaded it overall with corners, but we did have some good open play opportunities which we unfortunately we didn’t take.
“I’m not overly disappointed with our performance, we got a win, but I am disappointed that we didn’t take the good chances we had.”
Earlier, reigning World Champions Argentina beat China 3-0 to top the standings.
Kerry’s side now look forward to tomorrow’s match against China at 1:15pm. Again, Great Britain Hockey is encouraging spectators at the Riverbank Arena to support the team by wearing red.
Lizzie Flint, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine