Olympic Games – Pool A
India 1 Great Britain 4
Great Britain’s women lined up against India to secure their second successive 4-1 victory in the Oi Hockey Stadium, but were made to work for the win by an Indian team which failed to make the most of the chances they created in the match.
India trailed 2-0 after 19 minutes, but will wonder how they failed to get back on level terms, pulling a goal back from a penalty corner before forcing a several penalty corners which Great Britain successfully defended.
Great Britain went into the match inheriting England’s World Ranking of 6, with India five places lower at 11 and needed just 75 seconds to break the deadlock, Hannah Martin scoring from a rebound after Savita, the Indian goalkeeper made an initial save.
The rest of the first quarter action was dominated by penalty corners with Savita saving from Giselle Ansley followed by Laura Unsworth’s shot being deflected; with India’s Gurjit Kaur calling Maddie Hinch into action with a re-award blocked by Izzy Petter.
Martin doubled Great Britain’s lead in the 19th minute, Savita saving from Sarah Jones before Martin won possession and rotating before slipping the ball past Savita’s legs to seemingly put Great Britain in the ascendancy.
Instead, India battled back with Sharmila Devi having a shot saved by Hinch and Rani missing the target before Devi reduced the deficit from a penalty corner in the 23rd minute, injecting the ball and then racing to the left post to deflect the ball into the goal.
Great Britain were shorthanded with Sarah Robertson on the naughty step when India scored, an early indication that the game would turn feisty in the third quarter.
The momentum was shifting towards India, especially when Great Britain lost their video referral in the 27th minute, challenging a penalty corner award after Captain Hollie Pearne-Webb fouled Rani but made contact with the ball. Ironically, the injection was badly trapped and Great Britain mounted a counter attack thanks to Robertson before India broke it up.
Fiona Crackles was in the wars and Monika made Hinch work as the first half ended and India started the second half brightly, forcing three successive penalty corners but failed to make them count.
The feistiness started in the 34th minute when Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam saw green and Lily Owsley saw yellow, India again using their video referral well to win another penalty corner, Hinch saving again from Gurjit Kaur.
Martin was briefly injured in a collision with Navjot Kaur; Savita saved a penalty corner shot from Anna Toman and then in the 41st minute, after India’s Salima Tete had been banished to the sin-bin for five minutes, Great Britain earned some breathing space as Owsley, back on the pitch sent the ball into the corner to leave India trailing 3-1. To add insult to injury, India also lost their video referral, challenging a dangerous ball from Ansley in the build up to the goal.
In the fourth quarter, a minute after India were back to eleven players, they were reduced to ten again as it was Navjot Kaur’s turn to have a rest for a yellow card offence. To their credit, whilst shorthanded Vandana Katariya had a shot saved by Hinch, but Great Britain will be disappointed not to have taken advantage of their extra player.
The final goal came as a result of a penalty corner, Owsley’s shot blocked illegally to concede a penalty stroke. Grace Balsdon fired the ball into the top right corner with three minutes to play, but Great Britain will be more relieved than the final score suggests to have won their second match in Tokyo and all but book their place in the last eight.
Great Britain next take on the Netherlands in their penultimate pool game at 1100 BST on 29 July in a repeat of the 2016 final in Rio. India will face Ireland in a must win game at 0345 BST on 30 July.
Scorers: Hannah Martin 2-F, 19-F; Lily Owsley 41-PC, Grace Balsdon 57-PC
Starters: Maddie Hinch (GK); Laura Unsworth, Anna Toman, Hannah Martin, Susannah Townsend, Sarah Robertson, Ellie Rayer, Giselle Ansley, Hollie Pearne-Webb (Capt.), Shona McCallin, Lily Owsley.
Subs: Sarah Jones (2 mins), Izzy Petter (2), Grace Balsdon (2), Fiona Crackles (3), Leah Wilkinson (4).
Cards: Green: Sarah Robertson (23 mins). Yellow: Lily Owsley (34 mins).
Scorers: Sharmila Devi 23-PC
Starters: Gurjit Kaur, Deep Grace Ekka, Monika, Savita (GK), Vandana Katariya, Udita, Navneet Kaur, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Rani (Capt.), Salima Tete, Neha.
Subs: Nisha (2 mins), Lalremsiami (3), Sharmila Devi (4), Nikki Pradhan (5), Navjot Kaur (6).
Cards: Green: Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam (34 mins), Vandana Katariya (39 mins).
Yellow: Salima Tete (41 mins), Navjot Kaur (47 mins).
Umpires: Laurine Delforge (BEL) and Aleisha Neumann (AUS).
Report: Colin Pike