Amid a flurry of green and yellow cards on Sunday, it was the reds of Belgium who took the points to end GB men’s unbeaten record in normal time in this season’s FIH Pro League.
Concluding the second weekend at home in the FIH Pro League, GB men lost out 3-2 to Belgium, the Olympic champions, while the rising Red Panthers beat GB women 3-0 in a final quarter onslaught.
The men’s game was a furiously-paced affair. If the Pro League’s competitive feel continues to be challenged – Belgium were still missing key figures in their starting line-up – this encounter gave glimpses as to what’s in store later this summer when GB turn to England for the EuroHockey Championships.
GB remain top of the men’s standings, the Dutch about to start out on their run of games and with eight to make up on Paul Revington’s side. Prize-winning status could go to the wire, while GB will hope to eradicate infringements that led to green cards and two of Belgium’s goals at sun-drenched Lee Valley.
The cool hands of Nick Bandurak slotted GB’s opener from the stroke spot, before Belgium found sustained pressure in the second quarter – including Nelson Onana hitting the post from one yard out.
Finally, with 80 seconds left of the quarter, a David Ames push led to a bullet PC from Tanguy Cosyns, flicking with rising accuracy high into the net. Tempers flickered at the hooter and a second-half set to gather space and pace in the offing.
Ill discipline led to Belgium’s second; after Lee Morton was green carded, Thibeau Stockbroekx touched home after a piercing one-touch move inside the D.
Tom Boon then deflected over, while the evergreen John-John Dohmen lost his marker with three GB men lurking and reversed to double the Red Lions lead.
Thirty six seconds later, GB attacked on the left, Phil Roper fed Tim Nurse and his drag back bobbled through Louic van Doren’s legs.
A flurry of green and yellows – two to Belgium, one to GB – in the last quarter saw the game lose shape, while GB couldn’t level after a last-gasp PC. A first defeat in 60 minutes for GB, but yet more positive signs that Revington has the side to challenge for major men’s honours.
Meanwhile, GB women’s inconsistencies came to the fore as they fell 3-0 to Belgium women after a confidence-boosting 4-3 win over China on Friday.
Open play goals from Alix Gerniers and two in as many minutes from Charlotte Englebert gave Belgium the points.
In their first games of the weekend, Sam Ward netted all four goals in their thrilling 4-4 draw against India, who took the extra bonus point in the shoot-out. The Old Georgians hitman racked up his 100th international goal in the process.