China hold key to Britain's challenge

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The Independent Online

The progress of Great Britain's women towards Sydney was frozen in the icy wind last night when they were beaten 1-0 by New Zealand in the Olympic qualifying tournament at the National Stadium here. A draw would have put them on the plane to Australia along with the men's team, but now they will need at least a 3-3 draw against China this evening to secure their passage.

The large crowd, including the Sports Minister Kate Hoey, were treated to a highly entertaining game in which New Zealand used their high pressure game to subdue Britain for long periods.

In a physical, bruising first half in which both sides squandered chances, the quick and sharp tackling New Zealand front runners had the edge. Kylie Foy created all sorts of problems for the British defence down the left-wing and won a 33rd-minute penalty corner that led to New Zealand's winner. Although Britain rebuffed the first attempt, it was only at the expense of a second from which Mandy Smith put the Kiwis ahead. Anna Lawrence's initial shot was well saved by Hilary Rose, but Foy was on hand to prod the ball to Smith to execute the coup de grâce.

A superb run by Jane Sixsmith early in the second half raised British hopes, but resolute defending by Tina Bell-Kake helped the Kiwis keep Britain at bay, and the goalkeeper Helen Clarke made a fine save from Tina Cullen to safeguard New Zealand's victory.

Earlier, Germany beat Ireland 2-1 to book their ticket to Sydney.

GREAT BRITAIN: H Rose (Bury); K Bowden (Fyffes Leicester), M Clewlow (Canterbury), F Greenham (Slough), K Johnson (Harleston); J Smith, S Chandler (capt; both Slough), D Marston-Smith (Clifton); J Sixsmith (Sutton Coldfield), L Wright (Olton), T Cullen (Hightown). Substitutes used: M Nicholson (Slough), H Richardson (Fyffes Leicester), K Walsh (Hightown), S Blanks (Fyffes Leicester).

NEW ZEALAND: H Clarke; S Bennett, R Petrie, S McGregor, C Paewa; K Trolove, T Bell-Kake, A Lawrence Capt.; K Foy, S Pearce, M Smith. Substitutes used: M Senior.

Umpires: A Lario (Sp) and M Power (Ire).