Hockey: Simpson comes to Britain's rescue

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The Independent Online
United States 0 Great Britain 1

Rhona Simpson, the Edinburgh striker who makes a habit of scoring important goals, is unlikely to have chalked up a more important one than the 51st- minute winner against the United States in Britain's third game in the Olympic tournament round-robin.

Britain opted for attack before a large, partisan crowd in the Morris Brown stadium on Tuesday. After their torrid opening game, which they lost 5-0 to South Korea, and then their heroic defensive draw against the Dutch, they knew that only a victory and two points against the Americans would keep alive their medal hopes.

With Jane Sixsmith looking much more like her old self and Mandy Nicholls taking the game to the Americans, Britain put the host nation under real pressure. But chances were still going begging and a draw was beginning to look likely until Nicholls, who had previously had two very good near misses, weaved past three American defenders and forced her way into the circle to see her powerful cross deflected into the net by Simpson from close in.

There were some anxious moments, generally created by the hustling Kelli James, in the British circle, particularly after Britain had taken the lead and the Americans pressed for an equaliser but with Hilary Rose again at her sharpest, the defence made precious few errors against the extremely fit, fast-moving Americans.

Britain today play the defending Olympic champions Spain, who are still without a point. A cautious British coach, Sue Slocombe, said: "We know Spain well and won't underestimate them despite their poor start here. There is little between all the teams. We are full of confidence after our win and can challenge for a place in the medal matches."

In an ill-tempered men's Pool A game, India, with two goals from Dhanraj Pillay, beat the United States 4-0 to register their first win of the tournament.

GREAT BRITAIN: H Rose (Sutton Canada Life); J Atkins (Bradford Swithenbank, capt); S Fraser ( Bonagrass Grove), K Brown (Slough), K Johnson (Balsam Leicester); P Robertson (Edinburgh), M Davies (Sutton Canada Life), T Miller (Clifton); J Sixsmith (Sutton Canada Life), R Simpson (Edinburgh), A Bennett (Slough). Substitutes used: C Cook (Hightown), T Cullen (Hightown), M Nicholls (Slough).

UNITED STATES: P Shea; B Marois (capt); P Bustin, L Lyness, J Reeve; A Lucas, T Fuchs, M Pankratz; K Fillat, K James, C Werley. Substitutes used: L Martin, L Tchou, D Madl, K Kauffman.

Umpires: L Crespo (Arg), K Yasueda (Japan).