Goals galore as Great Britain win final test

Barry Middleton scored his 100th international goal against Argentina.

Great Britain 5 (1)
Barry Middleton 2 (FG)
Chris Grassick 36, 45 (FG, FG)
Ashley Jackson 40 (PC)
Sam Ward 46 (FG)

Argentina 3 (0)
Juan Gilardi 43 (PS)
Lucas Rossi 49 (PC)
Gonzalo Peillat 54 (PC)

Two goals from Scotland’s Chris Grassick helped Great Britain to a 5-3 win in the final test of the three match series against Argentina. The Scotland star grabbed two open play goals to add to strikes from Barry Middleton – his 100th international goal, Ashley Jackson and Sam Ward. Argentina struck back through Juan Gilardi, Lucas Rossi and Gonzalo Peillat but it was not enough to stop Bobby Crutchley’s team taking the series 2-1.

Great Britain started brightly and it didn’t take long for them to go into the lead. Iain Lewers played a lovely pass forwards to Ward, who found Adam Dixon on the baseline. His cross was expertly slammed home by Middleton for his 100th goal in international hockey. Argentina hit back but George Pinner was equal to the task of denying Peillat from a penalty corner. Ward went close with a snapshot and then set up Simon Mantell who drew a good save out of Julian Sabaz and it remained 1-0 at the end of the first quarter.

The second period was a physical contest with both sides refusing to give an inch in the middle of the pitch. Alastair Brogdon won a penalty corner but Ian Sloan’s drag flick was saved and then Middleton almost grabbed his second with a deflection from a Dan Fox pass.

The third quarter was where the game really came to life. Grassick was first to strike, showing superb strength and determination to hold off the defender before firing a backhand shot through the goalkeeper’s legs to make it 2-0.

Jackson added his name to the score sheet on 40 minutes with a lovely low penalty corner that gave the goalkeeper no chance. Just three minutes later, Los Leones gave themselves a flicker of hope as Gilardi converted a penalty stroke. Undeterred, Great Britain restored their three-goal cushion before the end of the quarter with another strike from Grassick. The Surbiton man showed a cool head to beat the goalkeeper one-on-one with another backhand finish.

A minute into the final quarter and it was 5-1. Michael Hoare played the ball into the circle where it popped up off a defender’s stick; Ward was the quickest to react, beating the goalkeeper with an outrageous behind the back deflection to add to his goal tally.

Despite their healthy lead, Great Britain allowed Argentina back into the contest, conceding a series of penalty corners. Rossi and Peillat both converted chances in the 49th and 54th minutes to make the last five minutes a little less comfortable for the hosts. Despite their late rally, there was not enough time for Argentina to complete their comeback and Great Britain took the win and the series.

Bobby Crutchley, Great Britain Head Coach

“We were very good in parts but I was also frustrated with elements of the way we played. Some of our individual defending could have been better. We allowed them to win corners which they have a big threat from. I don’t feel we made them work hard for the corners that led to the goals, so I’m disappointed with that. We have to be satisfied overall however because we scored some good goals, played some nice hockey and got a good win against a good team. It’s been a long couple of weeks but physically the team are in good shape and that’s pleasing. There’s plenty to work on but plenty to be pleased about. We created more chances today than we had previously. We want to be an attacking threat and it was great to see Chris Grassick score a couple of goals. We’re playing him a bit further forward than he’s used to, so it’s nice to see him settling into that role.

My philosophy around World League selection is to give us an idea of what players can do as we look towards the Olympics. We’ll probably use a different squad than we have previously. We’re not just doing it for the sake of giving people a go, however. It’s because we believe these players are good enough and we’d like to see what they can do.”