Posted: 31.07.21 at 14:37 by Derek Davis
A former Holbrook Hornets footballer has helped Great Britain into the hockey quarter finals at the Tokyo Olympics.
Hannah Martin, scored her third goal of the Games to help GB beat Ireland 2-0 in the final Group A match to set up a last eight game with Spain on Monday.
Susannah Townsend bagged her first as GB hit back from their narrow defeat against the Dutch. Anna Toman also made her 50th appearance for the country.
They came close on a number of other occasions too as they looked to send out a message to the rest of the competition heading into the knockout stages.
With a place in the quarter-finals already secured, Great Britain began on the front foot as they won a corner in the third minute. However Lena Tice produced a sensational block to turn Giselle Ansley’s dangerous flick over the crossbar.
Great Britain dominated much of the rest of the first quarter, winning two more corners but both of Toman’s efforts were blocked and Ireland eventually cleared their lines.
Two more corners were awarded to Great Britain at the start of the second quarter and they made the second one count, Townsend in the perfect position to turn the rebound home after Ayeisha McFerran saved Grace Balsdon’s initial flick.
Ireland grew into the game after that with Nicola Daly forcing a save from Maddie Hinch while Katie Mullan’s effort from the top of the circle was deflected over the crossbar.
But Great Britain ended the second half on top once again with Izzy Petter coming close twice, the first effort smashed just the wrong side of the post after Sarah Robertson stole the ball in the circle before the two combined again as a sliding Petter couldn’t quite turn in Robertson’s dangerous pass.
Martin made no mistake in the first minute of the second half though as she diverted Rayer’s beautiful cross beyond McFerran.
Ireland almost hit back immediately as Hinch was forced into a save before they then kept out another British corner.
Mark Hager's team dominated thereafter as Rayer forced McFerran into a smart save after a blistering counter attack, Shona McCallin flashed a shot wide and then both Martin and Fiona Crackles forced the Irish goalkeeper into two blocks in as many seconds.
Crackles then came agonisingly close to scoring her first international goal with the final touch of the game but her shot just hit the wrong side of the back board.
After the game, Townsend said: "We’re peaking at the right time. We’re incredibly fit and just taking on each game as it comes. Taking on Spain is going to be a good challenge, they’re a good team and are going to bring something a little bit different.
"Knockout stages are always a little bit tricky but we’re incredibly well prepared, playing well and it’s only going to get better."
Starting XI: Hinch (GK), Unsworth, Toman, Jones, Townsend, Robertson, Rayer, Ansley, Pearne-Webb (C), McCallin, Owsley
Subs: Martin, Petter, Wilkinson, Crackles, Balsdon
GB's men play their quarter-final against India tomorrow, with Hannah's brother Martin travelling reserve, at 13:00 BST.
Free entry. Get your dancing shoes on and dance the night away. Music starts at nine ...