Hockey: Great Britain 2 Belgium 1
PUBLISHED: 08:48 04 October 2018
Sam Ward netted his 49th and 50th international goals as Great Britain defeated world number three Belgium 2-1 in the Toshiba TVs Anniversary International at the Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre.
The match saw members of Great Britain’s 1988 Olympic gold medal-winning team in attendance as their achievements, 30 years ago in Seoul, were celebrated by fans young and old.
Florent Van Aubel gave Belgium the lead in the opening quarter but two fine counter attacking moves finished off by Ward saw them come from behind to claim victory. Zach Wallace was named man of the match in only his second senior appearance.
Both sides were immediately making circle penetrations in a fast start to the match before the visitors grabbed the game’s first goal.
Bringing the ball out from the corner a pass was cleverly deflected into van Aubel who slapped hard into the bottom corner.
Further chances were created before the break by both teams and GB – who included Hampstead & Westminster duo Harry Martin and Will Calnan – almost levelled after 11 minutes as the ball dropped to David Condon but his fierce strike crashed into the goalkeeper’s helmet and went wide.
GB made a bright start to the second quarter as Jack Waller struck at goal but Belgium found their feet and went on to have the better of the quarter.
Harry Gibson was at his best to deny the visitors from two penalty corners and ensure Belgium’s lead was kept to just one goal at the half-time break.
It was the perfect start after the restart for GB as they immediately levelled. Rhys Smith stole the ball in his own half before feeding Wallace, he made a strong run deep into the Belgium area and found Alan Forsyth in the circle who crossed to Ward to put over the line from close range.
The rest of the quarter fell into a tight pattern of play as both sides defended their circles well and looked after possession of the ball for long periods as they entered the final 15 minutes all square.
GB repeated the trick of striking after a break and in the first minute of the final quarter moved ahead. Wallace again made a strong run through midfield, Forsyth collected the ball and passed back to Ward who fired across goal and it found it’s way into the bottom corner.
As the final whistle neared the game opened up but Gibson was again at his best to deny Belgium and GB had chances of their own to extend the lead but controlled the final minutes to secure victory.
Great Britain: Harry Gibson, George Pinner, Liam Sanford, Michael Hoare, Luke Taylor, Adam Dixon, Jack Waller, James Gall, Ian Sloan, Rhys Smith, Chris Griffiths, Harry Martin, Barry Middleton, David Condon, Zach Wallace, Will Calnan, Sam Ward, Alan Forsyth.