Handball: Angola ensure Team GB women slump to another defeat

Angola 31 Great Britain 25

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The Independent Online

Great Britain women's tough introduction to the Olympic Games continued as they slumped to a fourth successive Group A defeat at the hands of Angola this morning, ending any faint hopes of progressing to the quarter-finals.

Losses to Montenegro, Russia and Brazil in their opening three matches were par for the course, after only forming six years ago, but they went into the day's opening encounter at the Copper Box with realistic hopes of beating the African champions, having done exactly that in this arena in November's test event.

But Angola have improved considerably since then and Team GB were unable to replicate their performance of nine months ago, though they did produce a display to be proud of in parts, with nine-goal Marie Gerbron top-scoring.

However, it was sloppy play in the attacking third that really cost Team GB, with too many missed chances and handling errors preventing them from recording a historic Olympic win.

With the track and field events and cycling now under way in the Olympic Stadium and Velodrome, Team GB will have been keen to keep handball in the headlines after the unprecedented exposure it received in the first week of London 2012.

And Jesper Holmris' side enjoyed a solid start, with two Lynn McCafferty goals and a Holly Lam-Moores fast break giving the crowd reason to cheer, while keeping the deficit down to 5-4 after the opening 10 minutes.

But a familiar story was unfolding as for all their impressive defensive work, with goalkeeper Sarah Hargreaves again in good form, they could not make it pay at the other end due to several misplaced passes and glaring misses.

That allowed Angola to score five of the next six goals to open up what was looking like an already unassailable five-goal lead after 18 minutes.

Lyn Byl, Team GB's top scorer in the tournament, stopped the rot with a nice turn and throw and Gerbron added a penalty to keep her side in it.

But continued frustration in the attacking third prevented the host nation getting as close to Angola as their defensive play should have allowed, though they finally did something to rectify that, throwing in three unanswered goals to bring the gap down to 14-10 at the break.

For the first time in the competition the women came out for the second half playing for something other than pride and Kelsi Fairbrother and two Britt Goodwin goals raised the roof as they brought their deficit back to three.

Angola continued to keep Team GB at arm's length, though, and four of the next five goals stretched that lead to six as they remained in control.

To their credit, GB continued to chase the impossible dream, with Gerbron excelling, but the Africans flexed their muscles, snuffing out GB's challenge courtesy of four successive goals midway through the second period.

Goals from Ewa Palies and Lam-Moores gave the Copper Box reason to cheer in the final 10 minutes and brought some respectability to the scoreboard, but with four defeats from four, Team GB will go no further in the competition after Sunday's last preliminary clash with Croatia.