Valencia – Anna Toman admitted to the sideline presence of Great Britain women’s former coach and captain as they negated a potential opening morning shock against Canada to head into Sunday’s showdown against hosts Spain with a winning start.
It wasn’t a polished or indeed gallivanting performance by GB following their 2-0 win, but with Danny Kerry and Kate Richardson-Walsh now ensconced in the Canada camp, opposite number David Ralph knew that they would try and make it as tricky as possible.
“They know us and they came out against us and pressed us really well,” said Toman. “We knew they would throw something against us and the main thing was how to pick them apart and I think we did that well.”
Canada had their best spell in the opening minutes of the match before GB took control. Goals from Tess Howard and Toman, with a third quarter penalty corner strike, got GB over the line.
“Coming into it, obviously we’d like to play well, but ultimately the most important thing was to get the win and we also got the performance on top of that which is a bonus,” added Toman.
The GB star spent a year off the pitch following cartilage surgery to repair her knee and her determination to be fit for the Olympic qualifiers has paid off.
“It was really hard and I have been fortunate not to have too many injuries but this was a tough one, I won’t lie,” said the 30-year-old. “There were some dark moments to begin with but I had a focus to get back for the Argentina matches a few weeks ago and this tournament here.”
Hollie Pearne-Webb, Giselle Ansley, Lily Owsley and Laura Roper are the quartet of players remaining from GB’s 2016 campaign at the same venue which saw the women rack up seven wins in a row for the first time in tournament play.
“We had conversations about it as a team and we don’t actually get to play many tournaments as GB,” added Toman.
“At the moment it’s only the Olympics and this has the pressure of being an Olympic qualifier, but the fact that we are playing tournament hockey as GB is fantastic.
“We are one of the highest-ranked teams here. We want to get the job done but ultimately we want to win the tournament and that will be excellent for us in the future.”
GB will face hosts Spain on Sunday, the Spanish overrunning Malaysia 7-0 and four final quarter goals. Patricia Alvarez scored a hat-trick and the Reds were thoroughly clinical in the D.