Monday 30 July 2012
Great Britain 4 (1)
Middleton 22, 42 (PC, F)
Fox 49 (F)
Smith 53 (PC)
Argentina 1 (0)
Ibarra 55 (PC)
A double for Great Britain Captain Barry Middleton and a goal each for Dan Fox and Richard Smith ensured that Great Britain men got their London 2012 Olympics campaign off to a great start with a 4-1 victory over Argentina at the Riverbank Arena tonight.
Speaking after the match, Great Britain Captain Barry Middleton was very grateful to have the home support. “It (the crowd) makes such a difference to us. We’re not used to this in the usual hockey we play in during the year. To have a crowd like this making so much noise just gives everyone a lift. The hard thing at times is trying to control that energy and not get too carried away. We got a perfect balance today. We used the energy of the crowd.” He then added his views on the team performance and goal scoring, saying, “This team shares the goals around a lot. You can go to some tournaments and get on a roll and end up with five or six or not. You play the same tournament; you just miss a few chances. I think that’s what we’ve shown today. A lot of the guys have had chances and we’re a team that will share them around. Another day it’ll be someone else’s job.”
Great Britain’s players thought they had opened the scoring in the 5th minute when Reading midfielder Nick Catlin’s shot was smartly saved by Juan Manuel Vivaldi in the Argentine goal. The rebound fell to Surbiton’s Matt Daly, whose first time shot was dispatched into the back of the net. Unfortunately for the home side, the video umpire adjudged the ball to have hit Daly’s body before the strike, resulting in the Argentina appeal being upheld and the goal chalked off.
Despite this early disappointment, Great Britain continued to increase the pressure on their South American opponents and their efforts were rewarded in the 22nd minute with a penalty corner. With regular set-play receiver Ashley Jackson off the pitch, Loughborough Students’ Richard Smith collected the injection at theedge of the circle, but saw his drag-flick palmed away by Vivaldi. The ball fell to Middleton, who with expert precision lashed the ball past the despairing ‘keeper for the home nation to take a 1-0 lead into the break.
With a slender one goal advantage, Great Britain soaked up some strong Argentinian pressure in the opening period of the second half before doubling their lead in the 42nd minute. Surbiton’s Rob Moore slalomed through the Argentine midfield, eventually finding East Grinstead playmaker Jackson with a clever pass. The 24 year-old picked out club team-mate Middleton on the right hand side of the shooting circle, where he dragged the ball onto his left hand side and delivered a reverse stick drive straight through Vivaldi’s legs to claim his second goal of the game.
With the score now at 2-0, Great Britain were beginning to turn the screw and a third goal for the home side in the 49th minute involved the influential Jackson once again. His swift counter-attack and pass finally led to Hampstead & Westminster’s Dan Fox staring down Vivaldi in the centre of the circle. The defender kept his composure and fired the ball low into the corner of the net to register his first international goal and make the score 3-0.
Not to be out-done by their female counterparts, the Great Britain men’s team grabbed a fourth goal in the 53rd minute when an Argentine infringement was punished with a penalty corner. Smith again found himself on the end of the set-play and the 24 year-old delivered a clinical finish past Vivaldi to put Great Britain out of sight at 4-0.
An otherwise excellent evening for the home side was partly spoiled by Pedro Ibarra’s consolation goal from a penalty corner in the 55th minute. Nevertheless, Great Britain come away from the first game having laid down a marker to the rest of their pool rivals.Their next match at the Riverside Arena will be on Wednesday 1 August, when they play South Africa at 16.00.
Speaking after the game Dan Fox was delighted with his first international goal, "Absolutely brilliant, no better time to score I guess. We had a lot of shots on target and quite a few balls flashing across goal, so if you put those away in international hockey you win by three or four goals every game. That’s where we need to improve in the next match (against South Africa).”
Meanwhile, Great Britain women continue their quest for an Olympic medal on home soil when they play Korea at 16.00 tomorrow in their second Pool A match.