Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Hockey Pro League: GB men must await their title fate after Spain defeat

Great Britain’s men were dealt another blow in their final match of their FIH Hockey Pro League campaign, beaten 3-2 by Spain on home soil in London, as their title aspirations remained on ice and attention turning to the continent for the final round of matches.

The back-to-back losses meant that GB finish on 32 points and top of the table for now, but with Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands hot on their heels with several matches still in hand.

GB women, meanwhile, finished on a high with a 2-1 win over the USA. Over in Antwerp the night belonged to Belgium – their women’s side holding on for a 2-1 victory over New Zealand and the men winning 1-0 over the same opposition.

GB men had created much of the early pressure against Max Caldas’ side. But against the run of play, a superb strike from Marc Reyne, after receiving a pass from just inside the half, gave the Spanish the lead. The home side found the equaliser when a rebound off a penalty corner bobbled out for Nick Bandurak to fire it in for his 12th Pro League goal this season.

GB’s second came when James Oates worked the ball in for Phil Roper who get the better of the Spanish defence on the stroke of half-time to take his team into the break 2-1 up. But Spain came back at them when Ollie Payne failed to deal with a fairly regulation strike from Borja Lacalle.

The Spanish then scored what turned out to be the winner less than 10 minutes later when Pau Cunill’s shot hit a GB defender’s foot on the way into the circle. The umpire played advantage but the defence had already let their guard down in anticipation of the penalty corner being awarded and Alvaro Iglesias took advantage, handed plenty of time and space to fire his team in front.

Sophie Hamilton got GB women off to a good start when she lifted in from a seconf quarter PC.

With just six seconds remaining in the third quarter Megan Rodgers fired in from wide of goal and Sanne Caarls got the faintest of touches in the air to secure the equaliser. That meant there was all to play for in the final period.

GB broke the deadlock with two and a half minutes left on the clock, Lily Owsley bouncing it in off a reworked penalty corner after a sustained period of pressure. That proved the difference between the sides, as the home team sealed the 2-1 victory.

Lily Owsley said: “We’re absolutely chuffed. It’s been a hard Pro League season. It’s been up and down, the consistency has not been quite there for us so it’s really nice to finish like that.

“It’s great tournament practice and winning your last game is important so I’m glad we did.”

Total Hockey

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