Hockey: Britain on brink of qualification

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The Independent Online


reports from Barcelona

Great Britain 2 Netherlands 2

Great Britain twice came from behind in a classic match to break a run of seven successive defeats by the Dutch and keep alive their Olympic qualifying ambitions here yesterday. They need just a point from their last two games, against Malaysia and Belgium, to be sure of joining Spain and India, who qualified earlier in the day, and almost certainly the Netherlands.

Yesterday's game started at a cracking pace with Britain forcing a couple of early penalty corners without reaping any reward. It was against the run of play that the Dutch went ahead in the 23rd minute, Taco van den Honert taking advantage of confusion in the British defence.

The half ended in high drama. With Britain awarded a penalty corner in the final minute, the Spanish umpire, Santiago Deo, temporarily suspended two Dutch players for consistently breaking the line before the corner was taken.

Britain exploited their advantage at the beginning of the second half and were on terms within a minute. Chris Mayer, who throughout this tournament has caused problems with his speed, this time got on the scoresheet himself.

Restored to full strength, the rampant Dutch attack stormed forward with van den Honert claiming his second goal 11 minutes into the half from their first penalty corner. With just two minutes remaining, Calum Giles calmly walked on to strike home Britain's seventh corner for a well deserved equaliser.

GREAT BRITAIN: D Luckes (East Grinstead); 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).

NETHERLANDS: R Jansen; E Jazet, J Delmee, M Crucqs, W van der Wal, J Brinkman, M Delissen (capt), W van Pelt, S Veen, T van den Honert, R van Wijk. Substitutes used: T de Nooijer, S van Heeswijk, R Westbroek.

Umpires: S Deo (Sp), R St Rose (Trin).