[img_assist|nid=4607|title=Celebration|desc=Richard Smith – hockeyimages.co.uk|link=node|align=right|width=220|height=190]Great Britain made a confident start to their men’s hockey London Olympic Games campaign with a 4-1 win over ninth-ranked Argentina.
The home side led by a solitary goal, a penalty corner rebound from skipper Barry Middleton after 22 minutes.
But they had created a hatful of first-half chances and the opportunites continued to open up in the second period with Middleton striking a hard reverse-stick shot through the legs of the otherwise excellent Juan Manuel Vivaldi in the Argentina goal after 42 minutes.
The third came after 49 minutes as defender Dan Fox galloped forward and exchanging passes with Ashley Jackson before drilling a shot from the top of the circle. It was his first international outdoor goal and the capacity Riverbank Arena crowd roared.
“It’s amazing out there. You actually get a better sound when you are not one the one who has scored because your teammates are around you banging you on the head and so on. But it is brilliant, the crowd are amazing,” said Fox.
GB added a fourth from a very good Richard Smith low and right drag-flick (53 mins). Argentina pegged one back with a Pedro Ibarra corner two minutes later, but it was all over bar the shouting and there was plenty of that.
Middleton said: “The crowd is giving us a big buzz. It feels like the whole country is behind us. We have said for a few weeks it’s going to be exciting hockey. We did that today.”
Coach Jason Lee said: “It’s a great result. We lost to Argentina just a month or so ago and finished behind them in a tournament. [The Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia]. It was a different game today. We played very well and got better after a bit of a nervous start. It was a little bit sloppy in the last 15 to 20 minutes when we could maybe have taken the game away from Argentina and set ourselves up for the rest of the tournament.”
“It’s always positive to start the Olmpics with such a good result.”
After that nervous beginning, Great Britain created a hatful of first half chances but their only goal came from Middleton’s rebound on a Richard Smith shot after 22 minutes. Middleton took the high rebound on the right side of the goal. The corner had been won by Matt Daly (foot) while corner specialist Ashley Jackson was off the field.
Before that Daly had put a reverse shot caught into the crowd, and Glenn Kirkham and Jonty Clarke had shots well saved by Vivaldi. Jackson and Rob Moore had also narrowly failed to slide onto crosses.
Argentina had their moments too, with turnover ball a big danger to a GB team determined to play high-tempo attacking hockey. Facundo Callioni was forced into an off-balace forehand shot by keeper James Fair and shot wide on one of very few clear chances.
But the first half was GB’s with Jackson having a reverse strike from the left excellently saved by Vivaldi. Tindall almost slid onto a Jackson cross to the left post, before the period ended with a green card for Nick Catlin for not retreating. Daly also felled Pedro Ibarra. It was a foul and there was no card, but the veteran defender was unimpressed by Daly’s exuberance.