Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Hockey Pro League: Great Britain men denied by Belgium as women earn extra point

Great Britain men were denied a morale-boosting draw as world and European champions Belgium snatched a dramatic 3-2 win with a late goal in rain-drenched Brussels.

Bottom of the Pro League standings, GB put up a spirited performance against the world No.1 and Victor Wegnez-inspired outfit but were left to rue only one conversion from the 10 penalty corner chances presented to them.

Twice GB came back to level, Phil Roper cancelling out an Alexander Hendrickx PC – Belgium guilty of tardiness in getting to their line on time – and Jack Waller scoring his first GB goal following a brilliant Tom Boon hit to beat Ollie Payne.

But as the game ticked towards a shoot-out, John-John Dohmen was on hand with under two minutes remaining to follow up a Boon hit off the bar which left GB nursing a third straight defeat on their European tour.

Meanwhile, captain Laura Unsworth said GB women should have put the game to bed after dominating early passages of their Pro League draw against Belgium earlier.

GB had to be content with a bonus point win over the hosts in Brussels after a 1-1 normal time draw before winning the shoot-out 3-1. Sabbie Heesh’s 60-minute performance doubled over into the shoot-out with three smart saves.

Sarah Jones had given GB the lead thanks to Tess Howard, whose circle vision saw her carve out a deft pass through her legs to leave the Welsh international with space.

There were several chances to double the lead but on the stroke of half-time Belgium were awarded a penalty stroke and Tiphaine Duquesne swept to the backboard.

This match was GB’s for the taking but it was taken to the 23m line where Lily Owsley, Sarah Robertson and Howard all scored, while Heesh, who has been a solid performer this week between the posts, kept out Belgium’s lacklustre efforts.

Unsworth said: “We’re a bit disappointed to come away with a draw. We came out really hard and had a strong start, we should have probably killed the game in the first quarter after having some really good chances to make it two or three nil.

“It’s great that we got the bonus point in the shootout which is a step up from the other day when we played the Dutch, but we’re a bit disappointed overall.”

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