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Olympic hockey qualifier: Great Britain ease past Malaysia in superb display

Alan Forsyth during the Olympic qualifier PIC: WORLDSPORTPICS /WILL PALMER

THP Report | Lee Valley

Great Britain men blitzed Malaysia with a stunning second-half tirade, scoring four times in 14 minutes to leave Danny Kerry’s side in the hot seat ahead of Sunday’s second leg match. It was a period of play deserving of an Olympic berth.

Going behind to an early goal, Sam Ward started off a rampant third quarter performance, Phil Roper scored a wonder solo goal, Alan Forsyth slotted home a third, while James Gall capped a fine display with the hosts’ fourth.

Malaysia are chasing a first Olympic berth since Sydney 2000, while the Asian side have yet to prevail against GB this century. Under stalwart coach Roelant Oltmans, this two-legged encounter was always going to prove tricky for Danny Kerry’s side.

They were further buoyed by a hardy band of vocal Malaysian support at a windswept Lee Valley. And when Nabil Noor was on hand to follow up a sixth minute PC for the Tigers, they sensed an upset.

This was a typically fast-paced opening. Ward went close in the second quarter, the ball spinning agonisingly wide. Gall had blazed over the bar and George Pinner was called into action with the Tigers’ early PC threats.

But just like in GB’s first game, when the women’s side refused to panic, the men’s side came out with intent and found immediate riposte. Ward produced a routine dive to latch on perfectly to a low cross.

Then, three minutes later, Malaysia backed off Roper, or rather the Briton weaved left and right towards the top of the circle with no tackle forthcoming, before opening his shoulders and striking wonderfully across goal into the net.

Third quarter bounty was given further gloss when Gall fed Forsyth with a delightful backhand tap pass. The Scot was never going to miss one on one.

Gall then put the game beyond Malaysia when he followed up Forsyth’s fourth quarter shot, initially saved from an increasingly under pressure Kumar Subramanian.

Meanwhile, India, the eight-time Olympic champions, thrashed Russia 7-1 to qualify for Tokyo 2020. New Zealand had earlier edged Korea 3-2 in the first leg.

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