MIDDLESBROUGH: The honour of the first Great Britain Olympic football outing in 41 years fell to Team GB’s women today in a goalless draw against Sweden at the Riverside, in a warm-up friendly for the Games competition which starts next Wednesday writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Britain’s women will be competing at the Olympic finals for the first time and they had the edge over the Swedes in the first half of a double-header – with Team GB’s men scheduled to take to the pitch later against Brazil.
Team GB should have taken the lead in front of a crowd who included British Olympic Association chairman Lord Colin Moynihan and director of sport Sir Clive Woodward. Ellen White pulled a shot wide in the 20th minute after sloppy defending by the Swedes for whom striker Caroline Seger wasted an even better chance at the other end minutes later.
Defender Stephanie Houghton and midfielder Jill Scott both went close as Team GB sought to step up the pace and Kelly Smith ‘scored’ almost on half-time only to be ruled offside. Inbetween Sofia Jakobsson wasted another sharp chance for the Swedes on a breakaway, keeper Karen Bardsley fall on the soft shot.
Sweden pressed more effectively in the second half and Team GB rarely emerged from their own half. Fortunately the Swedes’ finishing was no better than in the first half and they would have had no-one to blame but themselves had they fallen behind in the 70th minute. Fortunately for them Team GB substitute Rachel Yankey, on the break, saw her shot rebound off a post.
The goalless draw was an entirely appropriate result.
The hybrid nature of the game was evidenced by the sponsor and partner advertising running around three sides of the pitch; such in-stadium advertising is not permitted within competitive Olympic venues.
Team GB play New Zealand in Cardiff’s Millenium Stadium next Wednesday in what is the opening competitive event of London 2012, albeit two days before the formal Opening Ceremony itself.
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