Great Britain slip to quarter final defeat against hosts

GB men team huddle

Great Britain 1 (0)
Simon Mantell 52 (PC)

India 2 (1)
Vokkaliga Raghunath 19 (PC)
Talwinder Singh 39 (FG)

Great Britain’s medal hopes came to an abrupt end at the hands of hosts India as Bobby Crutchley’s side were beaten 2-1 in their World League quarter final match in Raipur. Goals for Vokkaliga Raghunath and Talwinder Singh put India 2-0 up and although Simon Mantell pulled one back it was not enough and Great Britain were condemned to playing off for fifth place.

The game took a while to get going with both sides seemingly sizing up their opponents. As expected, every time India broke forwards, the crowd roared them on but Great Britain remained undaunted and kept them at arm’s length with some solid defensive work. Chances were hard to come by but with five minutes left in the quarter Great Britain won their first penalty corner. Ian Sloan took the honours but PR Sreejesh got down well to his right to make the save. A lovely move from Bobby Crutchley’s side almost forced the opening goal moments later. Nick Catlin’s raking pass found Simon Mantell inside the circle and he played it in towards Phil Roper who couldn’t quite apply the finish and it remained all square at the end of the first quarter.

Great Britain briefly lost the services of Alan Forsyth early in the second quarter as he was struck in the face with a stray stick and had to receive treatment. India enjoyed a good spell of possession and forced a penalty corner in the 19th minute. VR Raghunath took the shot and beat Harry Gibson low to his right to open the scoring for the home side. Great Britain tried to hit back but found Sreejesh alert in the India goal and the hosts’ goalkeeper was on hand to snuff out a couple of half chances to protect his side’s lead going into the half time break.

Great Britain pushed forwards immediately at the start of the second half. Henry Weir’s pass flashed across the face of goal with a diving Sam Ward not quite able to get a touch. They continued to press and David Condon forced a fine save from Sreejesh before Amir Khan flashed a shot wide at the other end in a frenetic opening few minutes to the half. India were unlucky not to extend their lead after a flowing move freed Ramandeep Singh. His shot crashed against the crossbar and away to safety. There was no reprieve for Bobby Crutchley’s side in the 39th minute however. Kothaljit Khadangbam scooped a pass over the top for Talwinder Singh who rounded James Bailey and slotted home to make it 2-0. Great Britain forced a penalty corner in response but Catlin’s shot was charged down and the danger was cleared. Ward almost picked out Mantell from another penalty corner move but with the time ticking down in the third quarter Great Britain still couldn’t find a way through.

Bobby Crutchley’s team threatened again at the start of the final quarter. Alastair Brogdon slapped an effort just wide but then with eight minutes remaining, Great Britain handed themselves a lifeline. A broken down penalty corner was recycled and from Sloan’s pass Mantell applied the finish for his third goal of the tournament. Condon rattled the goalkeeper’s pads with five minutes remaining and then Great Britain took off their goalkeeper to try and force the equaliser. The plan seemed set to work when they won a penalty corner with a minute left but the ball wasn’t trapped, the chance went begging and India held on for the win.

Great Britain will now play off for fifth place on 4 December 2015 at 15:15 UK time, opponents to be confirmed

Bobby Crutchley, Great Britain Head Coach:

“We allowed them to dictate the game in the first half and at times we were a little too passive. We still created chances but we weren’t quite able to get the goals we needed. We were better in the second half and dominated for long periods of the game but our execution in the final third was a little bit lacking today. We probably did enough to get something from the game so we’re a little frustrated but if you don’t take the chances you create it makes life difficult.

Despite the disappointment there is a lot to be positive about from this tournament. Some of the less experienced guys have stepped up and played well and at times we’ve played some really good hockey. We’ll be better for the experience and hopefully this will stand us in good stead and allow us to get over the line in the future. I’m positive that this group will bounce back. They have a lot of pride in what they do and will be keen to put things right in the next game.”