Report: One point for GBs men in FIH Pro League home opener

Report: GB 1-1 Spain
Great Britain 1
Ward (18’, PC)
Spain 1
Pau Quemada (1’, FG)

Spain win shootout 3-2

Great Britain’s men marked their first home FIH Pro League match with a battling 1-1 draw in regular time but were unable to pick up the bonus point in the resulting shootout.

Having come back from 4-1 down to win the reverse fixture 6-5, this meeting was quite the opposite to January’s goal-fest, with both sides looking well-regimented in defence.

Though Great Britain peppered the Spanish goal with shots, ‘keeper Quico Cortes had a superb game as he repeatedly came to the rescue for the visitors.

Sam Ward cancelled out Spain’s early goal, and though the forward had the ball in the back of the net again in the final minute his strike was ruled out to see the game into a shootout.

Despite a series of stunning saves from George Pinner, who was making his 50th Great Britain cap, Spain came out on top in the shootout in sudden-death.

GB men v Spain
Full report:
With barely thirty seconds on the clock Spain had found the back of the net, the FIH Pro League’s leading goal-scorer Pau Quemada adding to his tally.

Great Britain recovered well, enjoying the majority of the possession for the remainder of the quarter, however struggled to find a clear-cut chance to unleash a strike on goal.

The breakthrough was to come shortly after the restart as Sam Ward clinically fired home from a penalty corner to level the scores.

A quick succession of penalty corners followed for Great Britain, Ward’s first effort being well saved, with Cortes making another smart stop to deny Luke Taylor from the second.

Great Britain were well in the ascendancy and, following a dazzling run into the circle from Alan Forsyth, were awarded another penalty corner, this time Cortes with a firm hand to prevent Taylor’s attempt finding the back of the net. 

With time running out in the half, Sam Ward sent in a threatening cross which narrowly evaded a couple of on-rushing attackers as GB continued to come close to taking the lead. 

After controlling the second-quarter, GB maintained the momentum after the interval yet struggled to make their dominance tell on the scoreboard.

It had been an excellent performance from Cortes who again was on hand to prevent Great Britain from taking the lead from another penalty corner routine.

Spain conjured a half-chance with ten minutes remaining, but smart defensive work was enough to quell the attack.

Will Calnan unleashed a rocket of shot from close range with little over five minutes remaining, however there was too much on the strike as it whipped just over the goal.

Having taken victory over Spain last time out after saving three last-minute penalty corners, this time it was GB who had the chance to take the spoils with less than 30 seconds remaining. Great Britain looked to have won it from the corner as Ward swept the ball under the ‘keeper’s legs, however, after an umpire’s referral the goal was disallowed due to the ball not leaving the circle meaning the game would be settled by a shootout.

GB’s first draw in the FIH Pro League wasn’t to be marked with a bonus point as Spain claimed their fifth shootout win of the competition. Phil Roper and Jack Waller successfully netted for the hosts, and whilst Pinner put in a fantastic effort to try to push his side towards the extra spoils, it was Spain who would take the two points. 

Despite not taking all the points there was lots of encouraging signs from the GB side who are back in action on Saturday 18 May against Argentina in a double header which starts with the women’s match at 1pm.

GBR: Gibson (GK), Willars, Ames, Forsyth, Griffiths, Sloan, Ward, Roper, Dixon, Creed, Wallace
Subs: Pinner (GK), Taylor, Martin, Condon, Waller, Gall, Calnan
Shootout: Roper (scored), Martin (missed), Waller (scored), Wallace (missed), Forsyth (missed), Roper (missed - sudden death)