Hockey: Britain are too good for Belarus

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reports from Barcelona

Great Britain 4 Belarus 1

Great Britain remained on course for a place in the Atlanta Olympics when they confidently beat Belarus in their third game in the qualifying tournament yesterday, never looking back after a flying start of three goals in the opening 15 minutes.

Unlike in their earlier games, Britain maintained their concentration yesterday and, although Gennady Bribovski pulled a goal back for Belarus at a penalty corner midway through the second half, they were quickly back in command, with Nick Thompson boring his way through the Belarussian defence for his second goal.

A third-minute goal from Jon Wyatt, following up at Britain's second penalty corner, paved the way and when, three minutes later, Calum Giles cracked in a second, the game was as good as over.

Thompson, thriving in what became a rough, tough, physical game, forced his way down the left to score from a narrow angle for a comfortable 3- 0 interval lead. The margin would have been considerably greater without a string of outstanding saves from goalkeeper Alexander Eklemenko, particularly at penalty corners.

Britain's coach, David Whitaker, was delighted with the result, although he conceded that he was disappointed with the way his team gave Belarus opportunities in the second half.

Spain, Britain's next opponents tomorrow, held India to an exciting goalless draw and currently lead the table. Today is a rest day.

GREAT BRITAIN: S Mason (Reading); J Wyatt (Reading), Soma Singh (Southgate); G Fordham ( Hounslow), Kalbir Takher (Cannock), S Hazlitt (Hounslow); C Mayer (Cannock), J Shaw (Southgate), R Thompson (Hounslow), J Laslett (Teddington, capt), N Thompson (Old Loughtonians). Substitutes used: C Giles (Havant), H Hoskin (Reading), D Hall (Guildford).

BELARUS: A Eklemenko; A Vintskevitch (capt); G Bribovski, D Jukovski, S Drozdov; A Jukovets, I Voltiuk, A Budikov; A Tchebotarev, I Korottchenko, S Klimovitch. Substitutes used: I Canja, I Barkov, A Mankovski.

Umpires: R St Rose (Trinadad & Tobago), F Idenburg (Netherlands).

Results, Sporting Digest, page 23