Hot and cold weekend for Durham graduates in Team GB Hockey


The Team GB Women’s Hockey team, featuring second-year Durham student Fiona Crackles, cemented their place in the knockout stage, teeing up a quarter-final against Spain. Knowing a draw would be enough to push them through, they ran out 2-0 winners in the last game of Pool A. They beat a resolute Ireland side also seeking a win to keep their Olympic dreams alive.

So far, Team GB Women have endured an inconsistent campaign. Comfortable 4-1 victories against South Africa and India have been dulled by narrow defeats to Germany and the Netherlands, the latter being the tournament favourites. Both losses followed the same narrative of missed chances.

Their clash against Ireland threatened a similar fate; three penalty corners in the first quarter but no fruit for their labour. Not long into the second quarter, though, there was a breakthrough. Another penalty corner, but this time their efforts paid off at the sixth time of asking, Susannah Townsend sweeping home after a mix up inside the circle.

Hannah Martin added another early into the second half and from then on it was a case of controlling the game for Team GB.

Fiona Crackles continued her remarkable rise up the ranks of Team GB hockey, coming off the bench to provide another solid performance from defence. After only making her senior debut for Team GB just eight months ago, the match against Ireland was another sign of how far she has come in such a short time.

It was nearly a day to remember for the twenty-one-year-old, as she twice came close to scoring her first international goal. Irish goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran did well to produce a double save against her and Martin. And with the last touch of the game, Crackles nearly had a goal to her name as well, the ball agonisingly hitting the wrong side of the back board.

The Men’s team, however, did not enjoy such luck. They are now out at the quarter-final stage, after a frustrating 3-1 loss against India. The side featured History graduate Jack Waller, and Sports, Exercise and Physical Activity graduate Ollie Payne.

Payne started in goal for GB but was substituted minutes from the end in what was only his eleventh senior appearance at international level.

Despite enjoying their fair share of possession, they had only themselves to blame as they went behind midway through the first quarter, India capitalising on some sloppy play. While the first quarter was a relatively even match, India cranked up the pressure in the second, adding another goal through Gurjant Singh.

Team GB did manage to pull a goal back through Sam Ward seconds from the end of the third quarter, but it proved only a consolation as India scored again to end any hopes of a Team GB gold.

Team GB Women go on to face Spain in the quarter-final on Monday afternoon.

Image: Team GB

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