GB’s Sam Ward scored four goals but it was not enough to prevent his side from going down to India’s men as FIH Hockey Pro League action continued in London. The result was eventually decided in a shoot-out, which India claimed 4-2, after the match ended 4-4 in regulation time. Later in the day, the Belgian women continued their unbeaten record in the mini-tournament, claiming a comfortable 3-1 victory over China, who once again only really fired in the second half.
(Men’s) Great Britain vs India 4-4 (SO: 2-4)
The home side created plenty of early chances, forcing Indian goalkeeper Krishan Pathak to make several excellent saves.
India’s first real chance came off their first penalty corner and captain Harmanpreet Singh made the most of it, dragging it into the left corner to take the lead.
GB responded almost immediately, earning a penalty corner just 25 seconds later. Sam Ward’s drag flick caught a small deflection off the edge of Amit Rohidas’s stick for the equaliser.
But the Indians came back at them with two great field goals before half time, the first a bullet of a strike from Mandeep Singh for his 99th career goal, and the next a reserve stick strike from Sukhjeet Singh.
With just over five minutes to go in the third quarter, Ward made sure that GB stayed in touch with his 100th international goal. This time, Pathak just couldn’t get enough stick on Ward’s strike from the penalty corner.
An action-packed final quarter saw Ward completing his hat-trick with a field goal, so finding the equaliser for GB at 3-3. India then regained the lead five minutes later, Dilpreet Singh, Vivek Prasad and Abishek combining to put their team in front. But another beautiful strike from Ward for his first four-goal haul in GB colours took the match to a shootout. Rupert Shipperley and Phil Roper missed their chances while the Indians slotted in all of theirs to take the 4-2 win.
Vivek Prasad was named player of the match and said: “It was a really good effort for the team. It was well played by all the players. It was teamwork – that’s why we won here, because [Great Britain] is a very tough team… I believe in myself, I’m not worried about who is the tallest or strongest but I believe in my skill and what I can do best.”
(Women’s) China vs Belgium 1-3
Belgium took the lead in the first quarter when Charlotte Engelbert’s dink into the circle on the reverse was fired into the bottom left corner by Justine Rasir. The Belgians doubled that lead in the second quarter. Having turned it over on the 23, Barbara Nelen drove it into the circle for a well-taken strike by Emily White.
Belgium still held that 2-0 lead heading into the half-time break but knew not to take anything for granted after seeing the Chinese fighting their way back from 3-1 down and pushing GB all the way a day earlier.
But a great comeback was not on the cards for the Chinese. The first time Belgian goalkeeper Elodie Picard was brought into action was towards the end of the third quarter, but she was up to the task to keep Zou Meirong’s shot out of goal.
A much better final quarter from China saw them playing themselves back into the game. The ball was recycled off a good penalty corner variation and fell to Liu Chencheng who drilled it in to halve the deficit.
After the goal, China immediately pulled off their keeper to push for an equaliser with an extra player. But it cost them when they conceded a penalty corner soon after and none of the defenders could stop Stephanie Vanden Borre’s drag into the top of the goal to seal the 3-1 win.
Vanden Borre was named player of the match and said: “We are super-happy with the three points. It was what we wanted and we have them. With the last goal, we had some difficulties at the end, so it was a good relief from the pressure they were putting on us. We know what they did yesterday and we expected that they would push in the second half so we were ready for it and we can be happy with the three points we have now.”
To see the current standings in the FIH Hockey Pro League, click here.
FIH Hockey Pro League – 3 June 2023
Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, London (GBR)
Result: Men’s Match 41
Great Britain 4-4 India (SO: 2-4)
Player of the Game: Vivek Prasad (IND)
Umpires: Hong-Zhen Lim (SGP), Ahmed Elsayed (EGY), Wanri Venter (RSA-video)
Result: Women’s Match 41
China 1-3 Belgium
Player of the Game: Stephanie Vanden Borre (BEL)
Umpires: Ayanna McClean (TTO), Sean Rapaport (RSA), Hong-Zhen Lim (SGP-video)