Saturday, June 22, 2024

Hockey Pro League: Great Britain men climb table with Spain win, GB women take point

These two sides will play the opening men’s match of the Paris Olympics next month and, if dress rehearsals are anything to go by, we’re in for a gung-ho battle between Great Britain and Spain.

Spain halted GB’s run for a first Pro League title last season, while they made it devilishly difficult for an England side at last summer’s EuroHockey. Here, the Spanish were dominant for a majority of the quarters before Alan Forsyth once again struck in the 50th minute to earn GB a 2-1 victory.

Of course, we may see different sides running out in Paris next month. Conor Williamson, who could be one of several new young British stars in Paul Revington’s side, scored his first international goal, to set up a frenetic last 15 minutes.

Dangerman Marc Miralles levelled with a PC goal four minutes later, before Forsyth, as he did in the same minute against India on his return to the side, scored a fine rising reverse rattler as they once again made inroads to the top of the Pro League standings.

GB and the Netherlands are now favourites for the title as things stand, both with games in hand, although Australia went top of the men’s standings with a fighting 3-2 win over Germany, courtesy of two late PC goals.

Before the finale, Rupert Shipperley hit the post while James Mazarelo, voted man of the match, had to make a sprawling triple save from a Spanish corner.

There were signs of the physical contest looming in Paris, with captain David Ames hobbling off, only to return shortly afterwards, while Jacob Draper was also seen doubling over on the GB goal line. No one wants an injury at this stage of the summer.

James Mazarelo, the GB goalkeeper, was voted player of the match PIC: Worldsportpics

Tim Nurse had a fine game and set up GB’s first. He weaved on the right baseline into the circle and pulled back for Williamson to pick a bobbling ball and reverse low.

With 10 minutes left, Dave Goodfield found space with keepy-uppy momentum into the circle on the left and Forsyth was on hand to pick and send a rising reverse into the net.

Meanwhile, GB women shipped a two-goal lead in the closing stages to draw 3-3 with China, before taking the bonus points in a shoot-out.

An early Tess Howard goal, with good link up play with Ellie Rayer, was followed by an Anna Toman PC strike, which took GB into the lead before Zou pulled one back.

Howard was awarded a yellow card with under five minutes left and, with their goalkeeper off, had a two field player advantage.

China held possession and were rewarded with under three minutes left when Sophie Hamilton lost the ball in the circle and Ma Ning scored. Zhong then equalised with one minute left on the clock.

Miriam Pritchard saved four China shoot-outs, to see GB record the same outcome the last time these two met last week.

Total Hockey

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