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Great Britain draw with Australia after a three-goal comeback

[img_assist|nid=5178|title=Worth a goal|desc=The crowd means we have to be a goal better says Australia coach Ric Charlesworth – hockeyimages.co.uk|link=node|align=right|width=220|height=146]LONDON, August 5 – GB coach Jason Lee had promised a Rocky-style performance. And at 3-0 down six minutes into the second half, in film terms, Great Britain men’s hockey side was scrabbling around on the canvas and trying to pick  up a mouthguard in boxing gloves.

The Riverbank Area crowd had turned glum and even the band were a little half-hearted. The last time Great Britain had beaten Australia at an Olympic Games was, after all, in the semi-final in 1988. Then there was a glimmer of hope. Jonty Clarke stuffed the ball across goal from the baseline and it flopped in of an Australian . There were 23 minutes to play.

“When we started to get a foothold in the game the crowd got behind us,” said GB coach Jason Lee. 

After 52 minutes a Barry Middleton pass into the circle caught a foot. Ashley Jackson’s corner flick rebounded high of keeper Nathan Burgers and from the re-award, Richard Smith passed to Middleton who deflected in from outside the right post.

[img_assist|nid=5179|title=Equaliser|desc=Barry Middleton (r) and Ashley Jackson celebrate James Tindall’s goal, Great Britain’s third – hockeyimages.co.uk|link=node|align=left|width=220|height=146]GB were now off the ropes, swinging. GB keeper James Fair saved a Chris Ciriello PC after 60 minutes. Then with three minutes to go James Tindall turned in the circle and his shot sneaked just inside Burgers’ left post. Australia went to the video for an obstruction on the keeper. The crowd chanted “It’s a goal,” and eventually Nigel Iggo in the video suite agreed.

Asked about the world number one ranked side losing leads two games in a row. Coach Ric Charlesworth said: “You never want to do that. My scoring of the second half was pretty even. The score-line isn’t. In the first half we had ascendancy. The crowd builds support. That is something you have to know about and you have to be a goal better.”

Austrailia raced to a two goal lead with Russell Ford scoring in the 7th and 11th minutes. Mark Knowles added the third.

The result was not decisive for the group and Great Britain have to get their feet back on the ground to play Spain on Tuesday at 7pm. “It’s going to be a tough game and if we have any lingering thoughts about what tonight was like, we will pay for it,” Lee said.

A win for Spain, who are one point behind GB in the pool, will knock Great Britain out of semi-final contention.  

Australia play Pakistan at 10.45am. Australia and Great Britain are on eight points, Pakistan on seven.

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