Great Britain move closer to Sultan of Johor final with fourth successive win

Great Britain U21 2017 Sultan of Johor Cup v Japan
Japan (1) 1
Watanabe (30, PC)

Great Britain (0) 3
Way (45, PC), Mackenzie (54, FG), Wallace (59, FG)

Great Britain took one step closer to Sunday’s Sultan of Johor Cup final as they kept up their perfect record in the tournament with a 3-1 victory over Japan.

Having come from behind to defeat Australia on Wednesday, Jon Bleby’s side were forced to repeat the feat against a compact Japanese outfit who went ahead on the stroke of half-time through Ramu Watanabe.

But Britain got into their stride in the second half and goals from Eddie Way, Callum Mackenzie and Zach Wallace ensured their side emerged victorious for a fourth straight game.

A draw against India on Saturday will now guarantee them a place in the final the following day, although they will certainly want to finish the group stages with a perfect winning record.

Way almost opened the scoring with the first meaningful efforts of the game, only for Yusuke Takano superbly deny him twice in a matter of seconds from successive penalty corners.

Yet while Britain enjoyed much of the possession early on, it was their opponents who created the next clear-cut chance as Atsushi Sugiyama forced Chris Wyver into a save at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter saw substitute stopper Oliver Payne also called into action to keep out Ryosei Kato when the Japanese attacker may well have passed to his team-mates instead of going for goal.

A period of stalemate followed after that until Japan won four penalty corners in quick succession during the final minute of the first half, the last of which they scored from as Payne’s save landed at the feet of Watanabe who could not miss from two yards out.

Britain pressed hard in the third quarter but were limited to nothing more than half chances until the final minute when they got their own back on their opponents by also converting a penalty corner, Way sweeping home at the second attempt to equalise.

Mackenzie then struck for the third game in a row in the 54th minute to give his side the lead, scrambling the ball into the goal after Ben Francis’ shot was saved by Takano.

Wallace then capped another superb individual display with a goal of his own one minute from the final whistle, also pouncing on a rebound and leaving head coach Bleby very happy once again with the resilience his side showed.

“We are really pleased to have won four from four,” he said.

“Tonight was a different type of challenge but the team showed brilliant character to execute an improved second-half performance and beat a tough Japanese team.

“Now our focus turns to the final pool game against India.”

You can watch that game against India by clicking here.

To find out which players are taking part in this year’s Sultan of Johor Cup click here.