Hockey: GB women seek return to form in semi-final against Argentina tonight


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The Independent Online

GB stalwart Anne Panter says the players are determined to find a return to their best form for a last-four clash tonight as they bid to become the first GB women's side to reach an Olympic final.

But the challenge ahead of them is considerable as Argentina are ranked second in the world - two places ahead of Danny Kerry's side - and beat GB in the final of the Champions Trophy in February, admittedly on home soil.

Having lost their last two pool matches Britain have not had a positive result since last Thursday, and after criticism from Kerry following Monday's defeat to Holland Panter said they would not allow standards to drop again.

"There was some good stuff in there and there was some stuff we know we need to do better," she said. "At this level the small details really tell and can change the momentum of a game. We had patches of really good play and had Holland under pressure at times but those slightly small errors allowed them to get a flow to their game and put us under pressure.

"Those are the little moments that we need to put right. We absolutely deserve to be in the semi-finals, We are one of the top four sides here and are good enough to win gold and that is now our next aim.

"We have learned a lot from the Holland defeat and we will come out and play a lot better than that."

The women half-stumbled into the semi-final as Japan's win over China meant that instead of having to get something out of their match with Holland their place was already secure.

But Panter rejected suggestions they had been fortunate having lost their last two pool matches.

"I don't think luck was anything to do with it, I think we were outstanding in our first three games," she added.

"It doesn't matter whether you get your points at the start or the end, we did the job.

Britain's men also reached the semi-finals, their first since the gold medal winners of 1988, but in controversial circumstances.

Needing a point to progress at the expense of opponents Spain they were drawing 1-1 with just a couple of minutes to go after Pau Quemada equalised Ashley Jackson's penalty corner.

Twice Spain had penalty corners awarded only for the umpires to change their minds, with the British players launching vociferous protests.

Coach Dani Martin has called for the International Hockey Federation to explain the circumstances.

"We are in a tournament where there are clear favourites and these countries are being favoured," he said.

Coach Jason Lee admitted it had been a difficult situation for the officials but rejected any allegations of bias.

"It is a researched fact that officials in any sport go with the pressure often and there certainly was a lot of pressure out there," he told Press Association Sport.

"They decided the decisions by themselves and I thought it showed good clarity of thought under that pressure."