Middleton magic keeps Great Britain in the hunt

Barry Middleton celebrates scoring for GB

Great Britain go into their Hero Hockey Champions Trophy match with Belgium with everything to play for. Should Australia win or draw with India in the earlier game, a win for Bobby Crutchley’s side will take them into the final.

One of the key factors in their tournament so far has been their outstanding defence, in particular from penalty corners. Nine penalty corners were conceded against Germany, with only one making its way past George Pinner. As well as a string of fine saves from the giant goalkeeper, Captain Barry Middleton has played his part with two superb goal line clearances against the Germans.

“The first one when they played it round was a bit of guesswork and I just tried to get somewhere where it might fall to me.” says Middleton. “It came quickly but it fell to me and I just had to get a strong hand on it to clear.”

Middleton’s first goal line intervention was crucial but his second was impressive as well as a key moment. The Great Britain skipper produced a pull shot that Joe Root would have been proud of to hook the ball away from a fierce drag flick.

“The one from the top of the circle is something every team practices. We have to be alert so that if they do get it past our runner and goalkeeper I’m there to save it. I’ve been there before and not saved them and I didn’t like it, so it was nice to see it pay off against Germany. There’ll be more coming though!”

Middleton on the goalline

All these defensive heroics mean Great Britain are still in with a shout of making Friday’s final, something Middleton is keen to do:

“It’d be nice to get to the final. It’s what we came here for what we believe we can achieve, it’s not in our hands but it gives us a buzz to be in the big games. We want to be there, not watching two other teams enjoying the atmosphere and excitement of our home crowd.”

So, the stage is set, can Great Britain do it? Not long till we find out.

Watch the action live on BT Sport tonight, 8pm start. Or, tickets are still available for the event, click here for details.