Last minute Penalty Corner gives Germany 2-1 win

[img_assist|nid=3254|title=|desc=Ashley Jackson battles with Jan Philipp Rabente of Germany at the Champions Trophy. Great Britain Hockey/Grant Treeby|link=node|align=right|width=200|height=139]Owen G Glenn Men’s FIH Champions Trophy
Auckland, New Zealand
Thursday 8 December 2011 

Martin Zwicker 4 (F)
Jan-Marco Montag 70 (PC)
Glen Kirkham 23 (F)            

Great Britain, now in Pool D of the Champions Trophy, faced Germany at the North Harbour Hockey Stadium, in an afternoon match in Auckland.  Before the start of the game the England Hockey Board’s Chief Executive Sally Munday made a presentation to both Ben Hawes and Glenn Kirkham who were playing their 200th game for Great Britain and England combined.  James Fair was back in goal after recovering from a bruised foot which kept him out of the game against Spain.  

The first few minutes of the game started brightly for Great Britain, playing in white and blue, with East Grinstead pairing Ashley Jackson and Barry Middleton working the ball well through the middle and linking up with their teammate Mark Pearn.  Pearn fed the ball into the circle and managed to find Jackson who sent a teasing ball across the goal.

On the fourth minute, and very much against the early run of play, Germany broke into the circle for the first time.  The ball was dragged back from the baseline by Benjamin Wess to Martin Zwicker, Germany’s top goal scorer in the competition so far, who was waiting unmarked.  His shot went through the approaching James Fair of Cannock HC and Germany took the lead.  

In the second game of the day in Pool D [Pakistan had earlier beaten Korea 6-2] Great Britain certainly looked a much more settled team than they had against Spain two days earlier and they enjoyed the majority of the ball throughout the first 20 minutes.

Even though Great Britain enjoyed more possession Germany looked dangerous when they did press forward.  Wess came very close to making it 2-0 when he skilfully brought down an aerial and found himself in the circle with just Fair to beat; however his ambitious shot flew high and wide of the GB goal.

Moments later, Great Britain were back on the attack.  This time Old Loughtonian’s Harry Martin, playing in his first Champions Trophy tournament, received the ball down the left hand side and played a pass from the baseline to a waiting Simon Mantell who forced a great save from the German goalkeeper Nicolas Jacobi .

Great Britain played patiently and created some good build-up work.  The well deserved breakthrough came on the 22nd minute when Glenn Kirkham, on his 200th appearance, received the ball from the baseline and with time to set-up he fired home a shot to beat Jacobi and make it 1-1.

Inevitably after the Great Britain goal Germany pushed forward.  The best of the chances in this period fell to Florian Fuchs whose shot was brilliantly kept out of the goal by Adam Dixon after James Fair had already made an initial save.

The half was to finish 1-1 and with chances for both sides it certainly could have been more. There had been no penalty corners going into the break.

Things were to change in the second half and with only three minutes played Great Britain conceded the first penalty corner of the game.  The ball came out to Germany’s Captain Jan-Marco Montag, but his shot was high and wide and ruled as dangerous by the umpire.

Following the penalty corner both teams continued to be evenly matched throughout the first ten minutes, creating half chances but nothing clear cut for the forwards to mount any goal threatening attacks.

Not long after the first, Germany earned themselves their second penalty corner of the game.  This time Montag flicked the ball low and to the left, but Fair was equal to the challenge and saved well.

With almost half of the second 35 minutes gone Germany had managed only two circle penetrations and as the rain started to fall in Auckland, Great Britain enjoyed a strong period of play on the ball.  Richard Mantell played a fantastic ball from defence through to Barry Middleton on the baseline.  His pass found Iain Mackay, but unfortunately on this occasion the Reading forward was unable to make good contact with his shot which was deemed dangerous by the umpire.

Germany’s defence looked strong as Great Britain continued to press, but were unable to cause any major problems in the circle.  There were some testing times for the forwards on both teams and their frustrations were clear to see at points.

The rain subsided and the sun came out with 10 minutes to go and both sides continued to battle hard.  Great Britain certainly enjoyed more of the ball and continued to push forward, but there were no clear cut chances for either side, until with three minutes to go Germany conceded a penalty corner when Surbiton’s James Tindall was pushed to the ground.  Germany challenged the decision, but to no avail and lost their right to appeal for the rest of the game.

With just three minutes to go and Great Britain’s first penalty corner of the game Jackson drove the ball at Jacobi, but it was saved well by Pilt Arnold on the line.  Jackson came close again seconds later as he tried to draw Jacobi out, but the move didn’t quite work out for the East Grinstead player.

In a cruel reverse of play Germany won a penalty corner in the final minute of the game. As the clock reached 70 minutes Great Britain just had to get the ball away, but the German’s first attempt forced a foul from Great Britain and gave Germany their fourth penalty corner of the game.  The ball came out to Germany’s Captain, Montag, who flicked a powerful ball past James Fair to make it 2-1.  Great Britain appealed in vain and the goal was awarded.  

Speaking after the game Great Britain’s Head Coach, Jason Lee said “I thought we played very well for most of the game and didn’t deserve to lose.  We controlled the game for long periods but just didn’t have the killer instinct to get ahead.”  He also highlighted some of the players performances so far in the tournament, “In terms of positives coming from this tournament there are plenty.  We are trying lots of different tactical things and the performances of Harry Martin, Iain Lewers and Mark Gleghorne in their first Champions Trophy are reasons for optimism looking ahead.”

Team Manager, Andy Halliday, added, “There are so many positives to take from this performance, and the way the boys have picked themselves up after the defeat to Spain has been fantastic.  Again, conceding a goal so early tested our character but the resolve we showed today was great. Obviously we are gutted with the defeat because it was a cruel end to a game which we feel we deserved to win.”

The result means that Great Britain are now third in Pool D.  Great Britain’s next match will take place at 01:05 GMT on Saturday 10 December against Korea who lost 6-2 to Pakistan in the other pool D game.