A goal on his Great Britain debut from East Grinstead’s Mark Gleghorne and two from clubmate Ashley Jackson helped Great Britain’s men to a 3-1 win over Belgium in the first of two matches in Antwerp on Wednesday evening.
26 year old Ulsterman Gleghorne came off the bench to score Great Britain’s opener on a night that also saw Surbiton defender Ken Forbes make his first appearance in British colours while Glenn Kirkham represented Great Britain for the 50th time. For Gleghorne, the match against fellow Olympic qualifiers Belgium marked a long awaited debut following his return from 11 months out with injury.
On a bitterly cold night in Belgium, Great Britain were by far the quicker out of the blocks, forcing early penalty corners and, following good work from Surbiton’s James Tindall, a penalty stroke. Ashley Jackson saw his effort from the spot saved though by Belgium goalkeeper Julien Schoolans and it remained 0-0.
In the first half, Belgian attacks were few and far between but from their first penalty corner – in the ninth minute – Ken Forbes plucked the ball off the goal line at shoulder height. And the save was to prove important when four minutes later Gleghorne gave Great Britain the lead. A fine pass from Reading’s Richard Mantell found Gleghorne at the top of the circle and he did well to turn his marker before unleashing a rasping reverse stick drive that gave Schoolans no chance.
Great Britain’s dominance was rewarded again in the 19th minute as Ashley Jackson found his range with a penalty corner that flew high into the net. Jackson was unlucky not to double his tally five minutes later when another penalty corner drag flick struck the post.
With the temperature dropping and underfoot conditions becoming slippery the second half was a more even affair.
Former World Young Player of the Year Jackson effectively sealed the result in the 45th minute when he left the Belgium defence with no chance, converting Great Britain’s fifth penalty corner high into the net.
As the game entered its final stages Belgium began to come back into the match and following a period of concerted pressure Tom Boon flicked low beyond James Fair to reduce the arrears. Fair had already made several good saves but could do little about Boon’s effort.
Afterwards, Great Britain Head Coach Jason Lee said: “Both Ken Forbes and Mark Gleghorne did well tonight. It was great for Mark to get his goal having waited so long to make his debut. Overall I’m pretty pleased and looking forward to tomorrow.”
The two sides will meet again at 12:00 noon GMT on Thursday.