GB run out winners over USA at AYOF

Great Britain Youth (U21) men team huddle at the 2013 Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF)

Great Britain’s U21 men put in highly professional performance to beat USA 6-0 in their final pool match at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney on Saturday. A double from Sheffield Hallam’s Phil Roper was bolstered by goals by Canterbury’s Ross Gilham-Jones, Brooklands MU’s Sam French, Loughborough Students’ Andy Bull and Kelburne’s Alan Forsyth. The victory sets up a gold medal clash with Australia with Head Coach Martin Rodgers saying his side “don’t intend to carry any regrets away from here.”

Gilham-Jones’ early strike five minutes into the match settled GB but it was three goals in seven first half minutes that put the game beyond the USA before the break. Sam French’s strike in the 24th minute was followed closely by one from Roper before Bull’s penalty corner conversion made it 4-0.

Despite the advantage, Great Britain refused to take their foot off the gas and Roper’s second made it 5-0 just over ten minutes into the second half. Scotsman Forsyth struck a penalty corner five minutes later to make it 6-0 and give the Brits their second win of the tournament secure a place in Sunday’s final against the hosts Australia, against whom GB lost 6-4 earlier in the week.

Afterwards, Head Coach Martin Rodgers was pleased with how his side had played: “The whole GB management team were impressed with the professionalism of our players in preparing and executing the game plan in this tricky match against the USA in what could have been a difficult game. As it turned out we pressed and outleted intelligently throughout the game and even made some improved circle connections. The control we played with was very encouraging in what amounted to a semi-final for us. Attention now turns to the final against Australia tomorrow. The group are in a good place for this challenge and I’m not expecting that the players will leave anything on the pitch after this encounter. They don’t intend to carry any regrets away from here.”

Earlier in the day, Great Britain’s U21 women enjoyed a similarly free-scoring encounter with the USA as they found the goal five times to run out 5-0 winners.  Playing early in the morning, the cooler conditions suited the British team, who got off to an excellent start. Ipswich’s Hannah Martin, sister of GB London Olympian Harry, opened the scoring in the seventh minute and Firebrands’ Lily Owsley doubled the British lead four minutes later. Before half time, Shona McCallin made it 3-0, again from open play, giving GB control of the match.

A second strike by Martin came just six minutes into the second half and with 12 minutes remaining Loughborough Students’ Suzannah Petty made it 5-0. GB Head Coach Craig Keegan said afterwards that he thought the early start helped. “The early start in cooler conditions gave both teams the opportunity to play a high intensity game,” admitted Keegan.  “GB got off to an excellent start and once we scored in the seventh minute through Hannah Martin we didn't really look back. We controlled possession for long periods and restricted the USA to only a handful of circle entries for the 70 minutes. However, the girls are fully aware that this was simply a curtain raiser for tomorrow’s bronze medal match. With an 8.00am start the players that are the best prepared will most likely create the early opportunities.”

Great Britain will play against USA again on Sunday in the battle for the bronze medal.