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Friday, September 24, 2010

Full Time: GB 18-20 Switzerland

BATTLING Great Britain narrowly lost for the second time in 24 hours, going down 18-20 to Switzerland in the second match of their Four Nations Tournament campaign in Liverpool.

This defeat rules out the host nation lifting the trophy tomorrow afternoon, but Jesper Holmris’ side will be fired-up against the Italians in their final match, eager to finish the competition with a win under their belts.

GB Head Coach Jesper Holmris had asked his squad before the match to be switched on from the very first whistle and his side responded to his call when GB left-back Ewa Palies (pictured) scored from the penalty spot after just 25 seconds, following a Swiss foul on GB pivot Lyn Byl.

Swiss left-wing Annina Ganz equalised on 3:40 but, despite their best efforts, they couldn’t break through the tough GB defence, particularly GB goalkeeper Sarah Hargreaves who had a near-100% save ratio for nearly the first third of the half.

GB captain Lynn McCafferty, Britt Goodwin, Lyn Byl, Ewa Palies and a special strike from dual Swiss and GB passport holder Yvonne Leuthold increased GB’s lead to 7-3 with 17 minutes gone, which lead to Swiss coach Marta Bon calling a time out for his side.

Holmris then called his own time out, bringing on attacking players Holly Lam-Moores, Kathryn Fudge and Louise Jukes for the first time and they further inspired the GB team to a 9-7 lead with six minutes of the half remaining.

This lead soon disappeared though as Holmris was shown a yellow card and a defensive mix up between Hargreaves and her defence saw Andrea Willimann take advantage for the Swiss to make the Swiss deficit only one at 9-8. The third stroke of bad luck came as Jukes was then handed a two-minute penalty for holding and the Swiss proceeded to draw level at 9-9 with just over a minute remaining of the half.

The final minute of the first half was a story of two fouls as Haag scored from the penalty spot to take the Swiss ahead for the first time on 28:48 and despite Karin Weigelt receiving a two-minute penalty for her foul on Kathryn Fudge, GB couldn’t capitalise on the subsequent set piece with five seconds remaining as the Swiss took their small lead into the dressing room.

GB emerged somewhat sluggish after the break and Willimann duly stepped in with two quick strikes and a further strike from Jessica Wenger increased the Swiss lead to four at 13-9 with 32:35 on the clock. A missed penalty by GB left-back Ewa Palies was punished with a penalty strike from the Swiss as the match looked to be getting away from the home side.

But GB stepped up their game and kept in touch with their opponents as Kelsi Fairbrother, Kathryn Fudge and Louise Jukes between them hit the back of the net to make the score 14-17 to the Swiss with half of the period remaining.

Just as the GB squad were getting up a head of steam again, supported by a fantastic home crowd, Hargreaves suffered an injury which required lengthy treatment and Jukes was hit by her second two-minute suspension.

Fairbrother then brought the scores to within two at 15-17, as coach Holmris again was talked to by the officials. A missed Fairbrother penalty was quickly forgotten as Jukes literally smashed the ball into the Swiss net in a classic fast-break score to bring the scores within one with less than seven minutes left in the match.

Hargreaves then pulled off a series of fine saves taking her total to 20 with five minutes remaining, but was clearly in pain from her previous injury. Lam-Moores then brought the crowd to a crescendo as she drew the game even on 56:07 with a great strike.

Swiss coach Bon quickly called a time out to refocus his troops going into the final passages of play and two strikes from Ganz, coupled with the Swiss defence closing down the GB offence, through any means necessary saw them home and set them up for their winner-takes-all clash with the Portuguese tomorrow at 1pm.

GB meanwhile will face Italy at 3.30pm hoping to get a victory and finish the tournament on a high.

After the defeat, Head Coach Jesper Holmris was upbeat about the performance, saying: “We were really happy with the start today, Yvonne didn’t have her best game yesterday against Portugal, but today she started at the right-back position.

“She played really well and made some good passes to her line players and it was really good and positive and we were leading 7-3 at one point. She was really looking forward to this match.

"We have a really good goalkeeper in Sarah Hargreaves – she is only 20 and she has the potential to be one of the best goalkeepers. We not only have a good goalkeeper, but we have a good defence too who are helping her a lot – we are working really well on defence and that helps Sarah a lot.

I think we made a lot less mistakes in the first spell of the first half, but throughout the game as a whole there was probably the same amount of mistakes as the first game against Portugal yesterday.

“The Swiss had a strong defence and a good goalkeeper, but I think the critical moment in the second half was when we were a player up – six against five – and normally that should mean that in this period the score to us is maybe 2-1 or 2-0, but they scored and it was 2-0 to them in this two-minute phase and this was decisive in the match in the end.”

GB Top Scorers - Fairbrother 3, Palies 3
Switzerland Top Scorer - Ganz 7

Report by Andrew McSteen
Pictures by Michele Davison

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