Great Britain held by Ireland in World League clash

Chris Griffiths celebrates GB goal

Great Britain 2 (2)
Barry Middleton 5 (FG)
Chris Griffiths 7 (FG)

Ireland 2 (1)
Kyle Good 19 (FG)
John Jackson 36 (FG)

Great Britain were forced to settle for a point in their second match of the World League Semi-Final after being pegged back by a stubborn Ireland side in Antwerp. Bobby Crutchley’s men led 2-0 after the first quarter thanks to goals from Barry Middleton and Chris Griffiths but the Green Machine replied through Kyle Good and then leveled in the second half through Reading’s John Jackson to ensure a share of the spoils.

It was a measured start by both sides with the teams seemingly sizing each other up and the first few minutes passed with little incident. In the first real foray forwards, David Ames linked up well with Ashley Jackson but his pass was cleared by David Harte in the Ireland goal. Great Britain then took the lead in the fifth minute. A long overhead out of defence was missed by Conor Harte, letting in Barry Middleton. The Captain cut in and slid the ball across where it was turned into the net by John Jackson under pressure from Chris Griffiths. At the other end Ireland forced a penalty corner immediately but Shane O’Donoghue’s effort was well saved by George Pinner.

On seven minutes it was 2-0. A superb piece of play from Mark Gleghorne on the right set up Griffiths who dived in to deflect the ball over David Harte for his first goal of the competition. Middleton drew a fine save out of the Ireland goalkeeper moments later as Bobby Crutchley’s side threatened to run riot. Ireland almost pulled one back late in the quarter as a slipped penalty corner set up John Jackson but his effort cannoned back off the woodwork. GB broke and won a corner at the other end but Ireland defended it well and the danger was gone.

Craig Fulton’s side won a penalty corner at the start of the second quarter. O’Donoghue took the shot again but it was deflected over the top. However with 19 minutes on the clock Ireland halved the deficit. Kyle Good supplied the deft touch in front of the goalkeeper to find the corner and make it 2-1. Pinner did well to see off a stinging shot from Eugene Magee as Ireland hunted the equaliser. With two minutes left to the break, Great Britain had a penalty corner. Jackson went low but Harte did brilliantly to extend a right leg to make the save and it stayed 2-1 at the interval.

Six minutes after the break Ireland drew level. John Jackson drove along the baseline and forced a save out of Pinner at the near post but the Ireland No3 was alert to the situation and stabbed the ball in on the rebound. At the other end, a good run by Alastair Brogdon almost set up Griffiths for his second but as the East Grinstead man slid in David Harte got a touch to the ball to divert it into the Great Britain player to see off the danger. Then, John Jackson almost grabbed the lead for Craig Fulton’s side with an outrageous above the head touch off a penalty corner which landed on the top of the net.

The game shifted from end to end as the clock ticked down. Sam Ward battled well to set up a chance for Brogdon from the edge of the circle but once again Harte made a fine save to keep the scores level. Harte’s opposite number Pinner showed his skills to deny O’Donoghue from another penalty corner and it was still 2-2 heading into the final quarter.

Brogdon threatened again in the final quarter but couldn’t manufacture the power to beat Harte. Tempers flared as the game entered the closing stages with both sides keen not to give any quarter as the next goal looked like it would settle it. Magee was sent to the sin bin with five minutes to go but then Adam Dixon followed moments later, conceding a penalty corner in the process. O’Donoghue went for goal but Pinner saved before springing up to make an excellent stop from Conor Harte’s follow up to preserve the point for Bobby Crutchley’s side.

Great Britain’s next match is against China on Thursday 25 June at 15:00 UK time.

Quotes – Great Britain Captain Barry Middleton

It’s frustrating because we’ve been ahead in both games but let the opposition back in to give them draws. It’s a long tournament and little things make a big difference. We still have a lot of games to achieve what we want to achieve.

We started well and went 2-0 up but we need to do a few things a little bit better to take advantage when we get into those positions. We weren’t quite as good as we can be; we need to do what we do every day at home.

We played well against Belgium and Ireland are a good team. We didn’t play badly today we just need to start doing the things needed to do to get through a tournament.

Great Britain Head Coach – Bobby Crutchley

We were not near our best in defence or attack so we’re very frustrated with how we played. They’re a good side and they’ll cause some problems for other teams, no question.

We weren’t accurate enough in our play which is why we’re so frustrated. The saves by George Pinner at the end were really important and when you look at those it shows the result isn’t the end of the world. The most disappointing thing is we didn’t execute our game plan and we paid for it.

We have China next who are a totally different challenge. They’re another team whose world ranking perhaps doesn’t do them justice. We’re in reasonable shape as a group and we’ll look forward to that game and hopefully putting today behind us.

Don't forget you can see Bobby Crutchley's England side in action this summer as World Class international hockey returns to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for the Unibet EuroHockey Championships 2015. Details are available on the tournament website.