GB youngsters suffer narrow defeats

Great Britain youth (U21) men in action at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF) 2013

Great Britain’s young men played out a quite incredible match against their hosts Australia in match two at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney. Having taken an early lead  through captain Andy Bull of Loughborough Students in the third minute, GB found themselves behind to a rallying Aussie side, who netted twice.

But Great Britain battled back in front through Canterbury’s Ross Gilham-Jones and Loughborough Students’ Daniel Faulkner’s penalty corner. Not to be outdone, Will Gilmour equalised for Australia before half time, setting up an exciting second period. And it was the hosts that drew first blood through Dylan Wotherspoon but with 15 minutes remaining Sheffield Hallam’s Phil Roper equalised to make it 4-4.

Parity didn’t last long, though. A minute later Australia went back in front and with seven minutes remaining they put the game beyond doubt with a penalty corner goal by Cameron Joyce.

Afterwards, GB Youth Head Coach Martin Rodgers said: “This was a game in which we ran Australia very close indeed-our first half performance in particular was controlled and we were able to impose ourselves. Offensively we have all been very pleased with our approach and work. Tonight we passed and trapped well, scoring some good goals and creating numerous other chances and gaining a good number of circle penetrations. Our youngsters struggle with phases after scoring and we paid the price defensively for lapses in concentration at key times. Credit must go to Australia for upping the ante mid-way through the second half and they were clinical with their chances. We have a rest day tomorrow then in effect play a semi final against the USA on Saturday. Our focus now turns to that game.”

GB Under 21 men take on USA in their final match at midnight on Saturday.

Great Britain’s Under 21 women also suffered a narrow defeat on day two, losing 2-1 to China. Head Coach Craig Keegan described it afterwards as following “a similar pattern to the match the previous day against Australia. First half dominance created us numerous opportunities but disappointingly we were only able to score one goal.”

Great Britain had taken the lead shortly before half time with a goal from Bristol Firebrands’ Lily Owsley only to be pegged back in the second half by Mengyu Wang’s penalty corner before, three minutes later, Na Wang put the Chinese 2-1 up.

Keegan explained afterwards, "In the extreme heat both teams slowed in the second half and our young British girls were unable to sustain their dominance with the heat taking its toll. That, and some poor decisions resulted in us conceding two unnecessary goals.

"As a team, we need to quickly learn that at this level if you don't put away your chances when you are on top you give the opposition to get back into the match.

"We have a welcome rest day tomorrow and with temperatures set to rise above 40 degree playing a match would have been very testing."

Great Britain’s final pool phase match is against USA at 10pm GMT on Friday.