Hockey: Team GB qualify but Kerry delivers home truths to ‘passive girls

Great Britain 1 The Netherlands 2

Click to follow
The Independent Online

For the second night running here a British team faced a technically superior side, ranked No 1 in the world, but this time class and form prevailed. Unlike the men in their 3-3 draw with Australia 24 hours earlier, the women's team did take the lead – with almost their only chance of the night – before succumbing to two second-half goals.

The upshot of what was effectively a dead rubber is not unsatisfactory, bringing a semi-final against either Argentina – the Dutch will meet New Zealand in the other semi-final – but the performance displeased coach Danny Kerry.

"I'm really disappointed," he said. "I've spoken to the girls and been very straight. It wasn't a rant. They were very passive in the second half and to give away an equalising goal like that was unacceptable."

Kerry did not feel that discovering earlier in the day that GB would definitely qualify was the reason for falling short. A British semi-final berth had been determined when China surprisingly lost to Japan, but it was just as well that the home side did not require a victory. For all the sterling defensive work done by captain Kate Walsh – the so-called Sheriff of Fractured Jaw was playing with a titanium plate in her face – and goal- keeper Beth Storry, the Netherlands, who are the defending champions, had the two best players on the pitch in Naomi van As and the captain Maartje Paumen.

Only a lack of proficiency from set-pieces threatened to undermine the Dutch. For such a gifted team, they have a shocking record from penalty corners, which have now brought only two goals from 23 attempts. To be fair to them, Storry made an outstanding save to keep out Paumen's shot from their second one last night, but by that point they were a goal down.

Britain, in contrast, had worked their only penalty corner perfectly for the prolific Crista Cullen to score her 55th international goal, shooting low into a corner of the net.

That and some dogged defending ensured a half-time lead, but the equalising goal – "a piece of suicide," said the coach – that so annoyed Kerry came within eight minutes of the resumption when Britain conceded a penalty corner and the Dutch at last scored from one, Van As finishing neatly.

Ten minutes later five defenders were unable to prevent Kitty van Male turning the ball in from close-range and it took another fine double-save by Storry to prevent a heavier defeat as the Dutch ended group winners.