Great Britain’s intensive five match test series against Argentina came to its conclusion with a 3-1 defeat to Las Leonas in Salta.
Three penalty corner goals had given the South Americans a comfortable half time lead before Great Britain rallied with an improved second half performance in which Crista Cullen scored, knocking home a loose ball. Shortly after scoring, Cullen received a blow to the face and left the field before travelling to hospital for further medical examination.
After Thursday’s 2-1 win Great Britain’s athletes would have been hoping for more of the same in their final test fixture but the intensive schedule since arriving in Argentina a week ago took its toll.
In a positive opening ten minutes Great Britain created and then squandered two good early chances when quick breaks put them through on the goalkeeper. And GB paid for those unconverted opportunities midway through the half when Maccari scored for Argentina with the aid of a deflection from a penalty corner before the hosts trebled their lead. Following Maccari’s opener, Noel Barrionuevo netted her third and fourth goals of the series with penalty corner drag flicks in the 21st and 26th minutes to effectively put the result beyond Danny Kerry’s young side by half time.
The Head Coach asked his team for more as they returned for the second half and they duly delivered, playing with more determination and control, keeping out Argentina’s attacks and creating opportunities of their own.
Eight minutes into the half Nicola White saw yellow, earning her a five minute suspension but GB were still intent on playing hockey.
Leicester defender Crista Cullen saw her shot from a penalty corner saved at full stretch by Argentina goalkeeper Laura Aladro but later Aladro could do nothing to keep out Cullen’s next effort; Cullen scoring after the ball fell to her in front of goal after good work from Alex Danson.
There then followed a significant stoppage after Cullen took a hefty blow to the face and she left the field of play to be taken to hospital for further treatment.
Late in the game Sally Walton also served a suspension for a yellow card but Argentina failed to capitalise against a resolute GB defensive.
After the match Danny Kerry was disappointed with the way in which his side had played for the opening spell: “If you only play for one half of a hockey match you’ll lose,” he said. “We were rightly behind at halftime. In the second half we got the goal and played better but the damage had already been done.”
Speaking at the conclusion of the week-long test series Kerry added, “Coming to Argentina has certainly been worthwhile. I have found out a lot about the players, such as who has the self motivational skills required to play five intense matches in seven days. I have discovered who can put in the performances, which will certainly help my thinking around selection as we progress towards the London 2012 Olympics.”
Argentina-Great Britain 3:1 (3:0)
Goals Argentina: Maccari 19 (PC), Noel Barrionuevo 21, 26 (PC, PC)
Goal Great Britain: Crista Cullen 58 (F)
Source: Great Britain Hockey ltd.
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