Wednesday, July 6, 2022

‘Amazing occasion’: GB women’s victory hailed by Izzy Petter

For a period during their second Pool match against South Africa, things were not going Great Britain’s way.

They were a goal behind against the amateur team and looking shorn of attacking intent.

But then East Grinstead’s Ellie Rayer scored twice as Team GB’s hockey women bagged a much-needed 4-1 Pool A win against South Africa following their opening defeat to Germany.

Lily Owsley and Rayer’s EG team-mate Laura Unsworth, latching on to a suicidal defensive pass, added quick-fire third-quarter goals for the 2016 Rio gold medallists after a shaky start.

“To come back from obviously 1-0 down, we were like ‘Oh God, we need to get back into this game’. I don’t think I’ve ever celebrated four goals more in my life,” said Izzy Petter.

“It just means so much to this team.”

An unmarked Nicole Walraven had scored from point-blank range as South Africa forced the issue early on with a string of corners.

The loud celebrations in the empty Oi Stadium told the story.

But when Sarah Jones’ squeeze shot was met at the far post by Rayer just before half-time, it gave GB some much-needed momentum heading into the break.

GB women celebrate at the Oi Stadium PIC: England Hockey / Worldsportpics

Forward Petter said GB’s three gold medals on Monday morning had put the hockey squad into a fantastic frame of mind.

“It really inspired us as a team to go out there and give our all,” she said. “The occasion is amazing. I know we don’t have a crowd, but we’re creating that buzz for ourselves.”

After Rayer’s opener, GB were a whisker from making it 2-1 in the final second of the first half but Shona McCallin’s far-post stretch from a first penalty corner was in vain.

Owsley’s intervention to deflect Anna Toman’s penalty corner slap shot looped into the net midway through the third quarter before Unsworth intercepted Marizen Marais’ pass at the back to fire home emphatically.

Rayer broke away down the right, taking a lofted pass from Sarah Robertson, and hammered the ball past keeper Phumelela Mbande with a little over 10 minutes on the clock to ease any nerves.

“It took us maybe a quarter or two to get into it, but I think we just showed there that we can come back from being a goal down and we were relentless,” said defender Fiona Crackles.

“We’ve got the energy, the goals will always come and we just waited it out. It was really good.

“We’ve got momentum coming our way now. We played well against Germany, just an unfortunate result. Now we’ve got the screws turning and momentum is building.”

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