Another Good Day For GB In NZ
By Colin Pike
GB Men and Women had another successful day in Auckland with the men winning 3-0 and the women drawing 2-2 before winning the shootout 5-4 to complete a good weekend in New Zealand.
All three goals in the men's game came from penalty corners. Adam Dixon opened the scoring from GB's first award of the match, Liam Ansell doubled the visitors' lead in the 50th minute, the ball going in off the Black Sticks' Simon Child before Dixon added a third goal with five minutes to play.
New Zealand had a scare in the third minute when Child had to leave the pitch due to an injury, but although he initially appeared to struggle in pain, Child returned to the pitch to play his part.
Surbiton's Luke Taylor and Alan Forsyth returned to the matchday squad after being rested for the first game. Forsyth was a third minute substitute and Taylor followed two minutes later.
James Gall and Tom Sorsby were both in the starting lineup whilst Zach Wallace was rested. Goalkeeper Harry Gibson stayed on the bench as George Pinner played the whole game.
The women had won 3-0 in their first match against the Black Sticks, but New Zealand battled in a first half which came to life in the final two minutes.
Olivia Merry's pass put Olivia Shannon in a one on one situation with GB goalkeeper Sabbie Heesh with Shannon smashing the ball into the top right corner in the 28th minute.
Great Britain went close to levelling a minute later but Susannah Townsend's shot was saved by home goalkeeper, Georgia Barnett sliding towards the left post.
Six minutes into the third quarter, New Zealand went close to doubling the lead, Kaitlin Cotter on course to score on her debut guiding the ball past Heesh only for the goal to be disallowed.
That was the final warning GB wanted and by the end of the quarter, they had turned the match around to lead 2-1 thanks to two penalty corner conversions.
New Zealand were made to pay for knocking the ball away when Anna Toman drag-flicked the ball in to the bottom right corner, through Samantha Charlton's legs to equalise in the 38th minute.
Grace Balsdon put GB ahead in the 42nd minute with a spectacular flick into the top right corner to give the visitors the lead for the first time in the match.
New Zealand had struggled with their penalty corner routine in Game One, failing to convert any of their nine awards. In Game Two, they finally found a way to score but the GB defence will be unhappy as they failed to clear from the Black Sticks' third corner, Shannon in position to poke the ball home from relatively close range with seven minutes to play.
There was further drama with just 50 seconds remaining after Sarah Jones had appeared to score a last gasp winner, putting away a rebound after Leah Wilkinson's shot was saved by Barnett.
However a video referral revealed that whilst battling with New Zealand's Frances Davies, the ball had touched the back of Wilkinson's stick paving the way for a shootout.
Great Britain went first, Tess Howard, Lily Owsley, Hannah Martin and Sarah Robertson all scoring via the backboard.
Shannon smashed New Zealand's first effort into the top left corner, but Charlton could only push the ball past the right post to give GB the advantage.
Merry and Hope Ralph scored via the backboard to keep New Zealand in the match and with Toman putting her attempt past the left post and Stacey Michelsen finding the backboard, the first barrage ended at 4-4 to force sudden death.
With New Zealand due to go first in the second barrage, Michelsen's tactic of making successive attempts backfired as she went straight at Heesh who was able to clear the ball.
Howard found the backboard to allow GB to win the shootout 5-4 and claim the bonus point.
Martin, Heesh and Hollie Pearne-Webb were all in the starting lineup with Jo Hunter coming on as a 38th minute substitute.