Brits fall short after stirring comeback

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5th August 2012

The British women put in their performance of the tournament as they staged a last quarter comeback before losing a thrilling quarter-final against Spain at London 2012.

Playing against the winners of Group A, the Brits fought back from a four goal deficit but couldn’t quite summon an equaliser as Spain scored once more at the death to secure a 9-7 victory.

The Spanish appeared to be cruising with a 6-2 lead at half-time but the Brits knew defeat would end their hopes of a medal on their Olympic debut.

And with the crowd behind them throughout, Team GB surged back to within a goal of their opponents, pushing for a winner with two minutes left on the clock.

Spain had gone unbeaten through the group stage of the Olympics and were visibly intimidated in the final quarter as the Brits threw everything at their rattled opponents.

And an emotional Team GB head coach Szilveszter Fekete admitted he couldn't have been prouder of his team's efforts.

"I didn't want to make a comment right after the game and I don't really want to now," said Fekete. "I'm too upset to say anything because I don't want to say anything negative.

"I wasn't surprised it was that close. We wanted to win and we could have won."

It wasn't the first agonising defeat for the Brits in London, who began their tournament with a one-goal loss to Russia.

And while defeat ends their medal hopes, it does throw up the chance for revenge in a 5-8 classification match against the Russians on Tuesday.

Team GB started the quarter final the stronger of the two sides with Frankie Snell twice giving them the lead, first through a penalty, then on a man-up – both earned by Angie Winstanley-Smith working hard in the pit.

But a neatly-worked team effort and a goal on the man-up saw Spain take a 3-2 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Spanish settled into a rhythm in the second quarter, pressing well to deny the Brits on the man-down and adding another three goals to take control of the game 6-2 at the interval.

But with their medal-chances at stake, the Brits refused to lie-down and pulled themselves back into the match.

Ciara Gibson-Byrne scored early on with a man-up before Hazel Musgrove found space and put home Gibson-Byrne’s pass a minute later.

Spain pushed hard to finish off the match but while they added a goal from 5m and another on a man-up, Team GB goalkeeper Rosie Morris was making save after save to keep her side in it.

With 18 seconds left on the clock, Gibson-Byrne put home her second goal of the eight minutes to ensure the Brits won the quarter and pulled back to 8-5 ahead of the last.

Morris made three more crucial saves at the start of the fourth quarter before Fiona McCann’s cheeky lob found the corner as the shot clock hit one second – a signal that maybe it was meant to be the Brits’ day.

Two minutes later the comeback was nearly complete as Snell completed her hat-trick on a man-up to put the Brits 8-7 down and with the momentum behind them.

But with two minutes on the clock, fortune deserted the Brits as they saw only one more spell of possession, with Chloe Wilcox’s shot saved by the Spanish keeper.

And with 27 seconds remaining, Spain secured the win, a backhand shot from the Spanish centre forward carrying heart-brakingly over the line in the corner.

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