Team GB lose to Montenegro in women's handball
9:43am Sunday 29th July 2012 in London 2012 Sport
Team GB women’s first ever Olympic handball match ended in defeat as they lost out 31-19 to Montenegro in the Copper Box.
It was an impressive display from the host nation despite the scoreline but the result leaves them at the bottom of Group A, while the victors now lead the way.
With the sport’s High Performance Centre based in Crystal Palace, there was plenty of south London representation in the British squad.
Kathryn Fudge from Beckenham started for the hosts alongside Crystal Palace-based Britt Goodwin while the team was lead by captain Lynn McCafferty.
Ewa Palies, also from Beckenham, looked to make an impact from the bench alongside Nina Heglund and Louise Jukes while French-born Marie Gerbron provided the attacking threat on the right side.
Britain made a confident start in front of a vocal home crowd as goalkeeper Sarah Hargreaves saved well from Maja Savic inside the first minute.
However, the Montenegrins were not to be denied and soon opened up a lead.
Bojana Popovic first beat Hargreaves before Radmila Miljanic and Katarina Bulatovic both netted to see Britain trail by three.
However, the hosts were not about to roll over on their Olympic debut as left back Fudge strode forward with confidence to reduce the deficit and complete a frenetic opening five minutes.
Fudge was proving key to much of Britain’s attack going forward and she was involved again as the lead was cut further, with Lyn Byl this time doing the damage.
Goals were coming thick and fast and although Fudge grabbed her second, Montenegro added a further five to take the score up to 8-3.
Goodwin cleverly got herself on the scoreboard in completing a neat passing move and although Gerbron cancelled out a further goal from Ana Radovic, four unanswered goals saw Team GB trail 13-5 when the first timeout was called 16 minutes into the first half.
Skipper McCafferty was proving the creative force for Britain and her work in laying on the openings for her team-mates soon saw her rewarded with a brace of goals herself.
Montenegro still looked very dangerous going forward themselves and duly kept the score ticking over but a further two from Fudge as well as efforts from McCafferty and Gerbron saw the home side close the gap.
It was 16-11 when a timeout was called just two minutes before half time but two goals from the lively Popovic either side of a seven metre throw from Gebron saw Montenegro head for the break 18-12 to the good.
Changes were made at the interval and they looked to have an immediate impact as the Brits seemed to stem the tide of scoring.
Crystal Palace-based Jane Mayes was given some time between the sticks and produced a number of fine saves, aided by Zoe van der Weel who was also introduced.
However, Montenegro too proved tough to break down at the back, as the next eight goals were shared evenly between the nations, with Byl adding two to go with a double effort from seven metres by Gerbron.
With just over ten minutes to play though, three goals in quick succession, including two from seven metre throws, saw the deficit grow as Montenegro looked to put the necessary breathing space between the two sides to ensure victory.
A timeout was called with Team GB trailing by nine at 25-16 but it soon got worse as a quick breakaway from Majda Mehmedovic saw the lead grow to ten.
Britain had no answer to Montenegro’s speed in attack at this point and further swift counters saw the score rise to 29-16 with six minutes to play.
Britain conceded a 30th soon after but showed their fighting spirit late on as the skipper grabbed her fourth of the match.
Montenegro replied immediately but Goodwin pounced at the other end with three minutes left on the clock, showing great determination to net her second goal.
Gerbron confirmed her status as a standout performer for Team GB when she grabbed her sixth of the night but there was to be no magical comeback, as the host nation suffered defeat.
Montenegro: Vukcevic, Miljanic, Radicevic, Dokic, Jovanovic, Radovic, Bulatovic, Barjaktarovic, Savic, Popovic, Lazovic, Bulatovic, Mehmedovic, Knezevic.
Goals: Bulatovic (5), Radovic (4), Savic (4), Radicevic (4), Popovic (4), Miljanic (3), Mehmedovic (2), Jovanovic (2), Dokic, Knezevic, Bulatovic.
Great Britain: Hargreaves, Law-Moores, Van der Weel, Heglund, McCafferty, Jukes, Goodwin, Fairbrother, Byl, Leuthold, Palies, Fudge, Mayes, Gerbron.
Goals: Gerbron (6), McCafferty (4), Fudge (4), Byl (3), Goodwin (2).