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Thursday, September 23, 2010

GB Go Down 22-23 to Portugal

LEADING narrowly by one goal at half time, Great Britain went down 22-23 to visitors Portugal in their opening clash of the Four Nations Tournament at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.

GB Women faced Portugal on their return to Liverpool, scene of one of their greatest victories nearly a year ago to the day when they beat Finland in the 2010 European Championship pre-qualifier, but couldn’t repeat that result or their summer 26-18 friendly victory over the Portuguese here tonight.

Portugal opened the scoring from the penalty spot within a minute of the match starting, but GB left-wing Holly Lam-Moores quickly equalised in front of a passionate, partisan crowd.

However, Portugal proved to be quicker out of the blocks and lead by their centre-back Claudia Correia, who top-scored in the game with eight, they quickly built a 5-2 lead before stretching it to four as left-back Rita Alves started to get in to the game and with just over 12 minutes gone on the clock GB found themselves 8-4 down.

But the GB fighting spirit soon shone through and goals from Marie Gerbron, Ewa Palies and GB captain Lynn McCafferty, saw the home side back in contention at 7-9 with less than 10 minutes left of the half.

GB Coach Jesper Holmris then called a time out where he delivered a passionate war cry which saw his side step up their efforts, defending solidly and strikes from Gerbron, Lam-Moores, McCafferty and finally Fudge, following fantastic recovery work from Lam-Moores, who put her side 12-11 up going into the break.

Britt Goodwin extended the lead to two for GB early on in the second period, but the half-time break had come at the wrong time for GB as Portugal powered back, scoring six of the next seven goals to find themselves 17-14 up with 20 minutes left. A two-minute penalty for Portuguese pivot Bebiana Sabino soon after allowed GB to bring the score within one through Gerbron and Lyn Byl who were backed-up by strong goalkeeping from Sarah Hargreaves which lifted the crowd who sensed victory.

Holmris then switched tactics, bringing on Louise Jukes for Hargreaves on a number of occasions, pushing for the equaliser but was frustrated by missed chances and the Portuguese defence.

With three minutes left on the clock Lam-Moores brought the scores to within two at 21-23 and as GB applied the pressure everyone watching held their breath as a great double save from Hargreaves and a strike from Yvonne Leuthold, who made it 22-23 with 21 seconds remaining, saw GB close to drawing even.

However there simply wasn’t enough time on the clock and as the full-time buzzer sounded the Portuguese celebrated their narrow victory.

GB top scorers: Palies 4, Gerbron 4
Portugal top scorer: Claudia Correia 8

Report by Andrew McSteen
Pictures by Michele Davison

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