Belgium’s women avenged their recent 2-0 away defeat against reigning Olympic champions Great Britain by recording a fine 4-1 win on home soil
, with Pauline LeClef, Judith Vandermeiren, Anne-Sophie Weyns and team captain Barbara Nelen all on target for a Red Panthers team that continues to confound all expectations in the FIH Pro League. The lowest ranked team in the competition sit third in the standings with a win percentage of 66.67, with Great Britain currently occupying seventh place with 33.33 percent.
Great Britain’s women (WR:2) were 2-0 winners against Belgium (WR:13) when they met in London just under two weeks ago, a score-line that was reversed in the first fifteen minutes of the re-match in Antwerp. The Red Panthers – who took two points from a possible three with a shoot-out success in against China in Changzhou just five days ago – matched the achievement of their men’s team by scoring twice in the opening quarter, with Pauline LeClef and Judith Vandermeiren putting the hosts firmly in control. Both goals came from penalty corners, with LeClef’s fierce forehand strike beating GB goalkeeper Nicola Cochrane at her near post before Vandermeiren doubled the advantage with a close range effort.
Emily Defroand went close to pulling a goal back for Great Britain in the second quarter, but it was Belgium who scored again early in the third period when Alix Gerniers pounced from close range after an fine turn and shot from the excellent Ambre Ballenghien. A yellow card five minute suspension for Tessa Howard did not help great Britain’s cause, although the visitors did pull a goal back early in the fourth period when Sarah Robertson netted from a slick penalty corner routine.
Great Britain’s hopes of a comeback ended just one minute after Robertson’s strike. A second yellow card for Howard resulted in a second suspension, with Belgium putting their opponents to the sword just seconds later when team captain Barbara Nelen cashed home a blistering strike from the top of the circle to complete the match scoring at 4-1.
“We played them ten days ago and I think it was our worst game of the Pro League”, said Alix Gerniers, who was named Player of the Match. “I think we had something to prove today and we were happy to play in front of our home crowd. It was a massive team performance today, winning 4-1. I don’t think we have done that before so we are very happy, it is a great feeling.”
Great Britain captain Hollie Pearne-Webb said: “I think it was just a pretty poor performance by us. We are disappointed with the result and disappointed with our own performance. We won’t lose too much confidence – we all know, both individually and as a team, that it wasn’t to the level that expect of ourselves. We’ve got a game the day after tomorrow against the Dutch, which will be a really tough one. We’ll get back on the pitch tomorrow, look at what went wrong and try to improve on that.”
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