Great Britain 5 (4)
Ansell (9’ FG); Creed (13’ PC); Roper (20’ PC); Griffiths (24’ FG); Martin (32’ PC)
Germany 3 (3)
Rothlander (1’ FG); Prinz (20’ FG); Doesch (28’ PC)
Great Britain’s men impressed in their first FIH Hockey Pro League match of the year as they defeated Germany 5-3 in a gripping encounter at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.
Liam Ansell, Brendan Creed, Phil Roper and Chris Griffiths all found the net in a relentless first-half that ended with seven goals and GB holding a slender advantage.
Though the goals didn’t flow as regularly in the second-half, with Harry Martin’s solitary strike proving the difference maker, the excitement didn’t end there with both sides creating plenty of chances.
After a long-awaited return for international hockey in the UK, the action came thick and fast right from the off. In a lightning fast start, Germany took an immediate lead through Moritz Rothlander to mark a perfect start for the visitors.
The lead didn’t last long though as Ansell, who had put in fantastic work to earn a penalty corner just a minute prior, levelled the scores with a skilful finish.
One goal was quickly followed by another, a constant theme through the match, as Brendan Creed latched onto a loose ball following a scramble in the circle from a penalty corner, sparking jubilant celebrations from the defender in scoring his first international goal.
Three goals in the space of just four minutes followed, Roper commencing the frenzy with a brilliant drag flick before Thies Prinz responded straight from the restart to capitalise on a rapid attack. Griffiths ensured GB would maintain their two-goal cushion with a sublime solo goal after pinching the ball high up the field and producing a tidy finish to make it 4-2 to the hosts.
That wouldn’t be the last of the scoring in the half, Paul Doesch converting with a powerful effort from a penalty corner just before the whistle sounded to end a frantic half.
The excitement didn’t end with the first-half though. Dixon’s effort from a penalty corner was expertly deflected by the diving Martin to divert the ball past the German ‘keeper just two minutes after the restart.
Whilst the goals dried up, the energy certainly didn’t. First, terrific interplay between Forsyth and Ansell saw the latter released downfield, he beat the defender with pace but couldn’t get past the ‘keeper on the reverse.
Sam Ward and Roper also came close to adding to the score line but couldn’t find their way past the German ‘keeper.
At the other end, Payne put in another masterful performance with brilliant blocks on several occasions, the best of which coming in the final minutes of the match. With Germany trailing by two goals, the visitors removed their goalkeeper for an extra outfielder and quickly accumulated a couple of penalty corners only to be thwarted on both occasions by the young goalkeeper.
Despite several chances falling their way at the end, GB secured an impressive win on their first home match since the 2019 FIH Olympic Qualifiers with a 5-3 victory in a memorable occasion.
After the match, Brendan Creed commented: “It’s as close to normality as we’ve been in a long time and it’s really nice to be back playing. With everything that’s been going on we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and this is kind of it for us in terms of the light, it’s just so nice to be playing games again.
“It’s great way to spark momentum, which is what we’ve spoken about a lot in training recently. To get the win here is big especially since we haven’t got that many games in the build up to the Euros and Olympics. The game was a bit higher scoring than we’d hoped in terms of goals conceded but at the same time that’s the sort of thing we need to work on so it’s a good experience.
“It’s been five years since I’ve scored competitively, which was in the league, so for me it was the unknown and not knowing how to react when the ball came to me!
“We’ll prepare for tomorrow’s game the same as we always do. We’ll have a look over the video, make sure we recover well with ice baths in the morning to make sure we’re ready to go from the moment the whistle goes again.
“From one point of view, without having the fans here, it was much easier to hear each other talking which was great as communication was a lot easier. At the same time, would we rather this place be packed, you bet we would! We’re excited for when it happens again when we can have fans back, but at the same time we’re almost used to having no fans after the past year without any.”
Starting XI: Forsyth, Shipperley, Sloan, Ward, Roper, Dixon (C), Payne (GK), Sanford, Sorsby, Wallace, Draper
Subs (Used): Martin, Griffiths, Creed, Ansell, Waller, Gall
Subs (Unused): Pinner (GK)