Great Britain draw with Spain not enough for quarter final place

Nick Catlin against Spain

Spain 1 (1)
David Alegre 9 (FG)

Great Britain 1 (1)
Sam Ward 15 (FG)

Full match details can be found here.

Great Britain’s Olympic campaign came to an end after a 1-1 draw with Spain in Rio. Sam Ward’s first half strike cancelled out a ninth minute goal by David Alegre but despite Great Britain throwing everything at the Redsticks, Bobby Crutchley’s side were left hoping for a favour from Belgium against New Zealand in order to progress. With the Blacksticks running out 3-1 winners over the already qualified Belgians; Great Britain’s draw was not enough and the team will not compete in the quarter finals.   

Great Britain started with plenty of purpose but it was Spain who created the first opportunity with Roc Oliva drawing a fine save from George Pinner. Mark Gleghorne looked the most likely to get Great Britain on the board in the early going, the No14 showing good determination to manufacture a chance which was well saved by Francisco Cortes. Gleghorne tested the Spain No1 again with a good deflection but was left frustrated by the Redsticks’ stopper. On nine minutes Great Britain fell behind. Spain broke away down the right, switched the ball into the circle where Alegre calmly lifted into the net to make it 1-0. The lead remained intact until the stroke of quarter time when Mikey Hoare’s long pass found a sliding Ward whose touch took the ball in to make to 1-1. 

Crutchley’s team thought they had the lead early in the second quarter. Ashley Jackson’s penalty corner deflected off Andres Mir and into the net. Spain asked for a referral and the goal was disallowed by the video umpire. Undeterred GB continued to press for another goal. Simon Mantell took up a good position in the circle and got a shot in but once again Cortes denied him and it stayed 1-1 at the half way point.   

Early in the third quarter Great Britain lost Harry Martin. A stick in the face resulted in the No9 having six stitches before returning to the fray. A slick move involving Jackson, Iain Lewers and Ian Sloan resulted in the latter bringing the best out of Cortes once more. Mantell stung the goalkeeper’s palms and from the rebound Nick Catlin was felled resulting in a penalty corner. From the set piece Jackson picked out Middleton whose touch just eluded Lewers at the far post with the goal gaping.    

Spain rarely threatened but at the start of the final quarter they won their first penalty corner. Pau Quemada fired the shot in but George Pinner got down in a flash to glove it away. Great Britain were laying siege to the Spain goal in search of the all important winner. Catlin shot on the turn but it clipped a defender's stick and dropped just over the bar. Cortes made another good save from a Jackson penalty corner but despite a barrage of late pressure Great Britain were unable to find a way through and a draw was the result. This meant Great Britain were left needing a favour from Belgium against New Zealand, however with the latter’s win, Great Britain’s Olympic campaign is now all over.  

Barry Middleton, Great Britain Captain:

“It went sort of to plan in terms of the performance. We moved the ball well, worked them hard and created chances but things didn’t quite fall for us and we didn’t have the luck. The corner we scored wasn’t given and it didn’t go for us. Sometimes those things go for you and sometimes they don’t. You have to keep getting in the positions and the luck brings itself. Afterwards we needed some luck from somewhere else.”

“The Belgium game; at this stage we can’t explain what happened.  If you look at the games after that we’ve played better but the first game put us on the back foot. Results had to come and we shouldn’t be relying on other teams. We were perhaps a bit panicky against New Zealand but that’s how tournaments go.”

“Scoring goals is the hardest thing and we put a lot of work into that aspect of our game but it comes down to executing those skills when it matters. Spain have a good defence and goalkeeper they beat Australia 1-0 so it shows what they can do. We were there but we didn’t take the chances. Sometimes that’s how sport goes.”