Hockey: GB 'bitterly disappointed' by defeat to Argentina

Great Britain 1 Argentina 2

Riverbank Arena

They had all talked, heading into the tournament, of a “gold-medal” mentality – trusting in each other and fearing no-one – but the Great Britain women's hockey team could not muster these qualities as Argentina proved the impediment last night to them progressing beyond their previous best Olympic bronze. Their captain and coach were both close to tears at their press conference afterwards.

A bronze medal is still within their grasp on tomorrow, against the New Zealand side whose defeat on penalties to the Netherlands means the world's top two nations have reached the final. There are also grounds for optimism, whatever the outcome. The women's game's development, building up towards the Olympics, has helped attract seven-figure corporate sponsorship and a substantial number of new players at grass roots, to what has been one of the surprise hits of these games. But none of that will be of consolation to a group who believed they would go a step further than Jane Sixsmith's squad of '92. They will curse the umpiring decision which saw the Argentines advance to 2-0 lead just before half time, though the outcome was just.

Video analysis might have been another of the improvements in the British set-up since £15m was allocated over four years after the Beijing Olympics, but no amount of time spent scrutinising opposition at Bisham Abbey could prepare the home side for Luciana Aymar, who demonstrated last night that Lionel Messi is not the only sporting genius to hail from Rosario. Aymar made perhaps the most telling contribution, though Britain sealed their own fate, too. Their final delivery into the circle was lacking and on the whole they lacked finesse in possession.

They certainly needed those qualities because after Argentina scored with their first attack of the match - the ball landing on Georgie Twigg's foot to concede a short corner which Noel Barrionuevo seized on to convert - they displayed hockey's equivalent of parking the bus. "I felt Argentina were defending and not offering much other than that," the Great Britain coach, Danny Kerry, reflected. Britain also faced a familiar problem in this tournament – three defenders grouped around Alex Danson, their most potent threat by some distance. It took the very best of Danson – pivoting to reverse an yielding near-post shot wide at a narrow near-post angle, even while she was being pushed from behind – to elicit even a scent of hope for a raucous home crowd, which included the Duchess of Cambridge.

Argentina's second goal revealed Rosario Luchetti at her own imperious best, bundled to the floor by British keeper Elizabeth Storry but still displaying the dexterity to find two further touches and navigate the ball in from an unfeasibly difficult angle on the byline. Britain felt they had the right to a video referral for an infringement in that build-up, though incidents outside the 23-yard area cannot be referred. "This was the biggest day in sport in for four years and biggest audience in four years and [yet] people are confused," Kerry said. "The law is written that we could not use a video referral. It is an absurd rule."

His team still had chances. It was Helen Richardson, just the player you would want to be presented with an unchallenged shot in space from five yards, who scuffed one – criminally. Danson raised hopes by converting a cross to score with five minutes to play, though prospects always felt bleak. Kerry professed himself "overwhelmed" and feeling "bitter, bitter disappointment" though much may still hinge on his players. The target GB Hockey committed to, in securing its £15m funding three years ago, was one or two medals at these Games. "We will use the hurt and turn it into a really thorough performance," Derry promised for the the bronze-medal game tomorrow.

GB Hockey is acutely aware of how the sport was not ready to seize the opportunity presented when Sean Kerly inspired the men to gold in Seoul in 1988. This time its push has accompanied the preparation for an Olympics, rather than await its conclusion. A major boost to the sport's attempts to be ready for an uplift from the Olympics was securing, 12 months ago, of Investec's sponsorship of the women's team and other aspects of the game.

It has raised the Kerry's squad's profile, too. They were official guests at racing's Derby, which Investec also sponsors. They met the Queen there, featured in advertising campaigns and felt the benefits of being at the core of hockey's marketing as a sophisticated sport, open to women. All of which added to the sense of emptiness they were left with last night.

Painful exit for Glynn and New Zealand

The Netherlands team start to celebrate at the Riverbank Arena yesterday after dramatically beating New Zealand 3-1 in a penalty shoot-out to reach tomorrow's final in the women's hockey. It was a painful occasion in more ways than one for the Kiwis' Katie Glynn, whose side twice took the lead but were held 2-2. The striker was accidentally hit in the head by Ellen Hoog's stick and had to be led off the field with a deep cut before returning sporting a thick bandage. To add insult to injury, Hoog scored the winning penalty.

Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
peoplePamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
sportLeague Managers' Association had described Malky Mackay texts as 'friendly banter'
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
peopleCareer spanned 70 years, including work with Holocaust survivors
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape