Hockey: Luckes shines but Britain out of luck: Draw suffices for Spain

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The Independent Online
THREE fine saves by David Luckes were not enough to win Great Britain the Three Nations Tournament in Barcelona yesterday, as they drew 2-2 with Spain, who took first place on goal difference.

The Spaniards mangaged to expose flaws in Britain's defence, which was a disappointment in a game in which Britain promised so much and only through carelessness were forced to share the spoils.

The British manager, David Whittle, admitted his disappointment at the result, but expressed his delight with the development during the tournament's three games.

After absorbing tremendous Spanish pressure during the opening exchanges, Britain opened the scoring after 27 minutes, when Russell Garcia found the net with a high flick from a penalty corner.

Luckes made the first of his super saves from Juan Escarre a minute later but, two minutes from the interval, he was left exposed by a static defence as Escarre put Spain on terms.

A diving stick save and a high-handed save by Luckes early in the second half kept Britain in contention, although their constant substitutions and all-out attacking play left them living dangerously against the fast-breaking Spanish attack. Even so, it was Britain who took the lead 14 minutes into the second half, John Shaw diving to touch home a Bob Crutchley long corner.

Reduced to 10 men following the temporary suspension of David Freixa, Spain continued to cause problems for a shaky British defence, and a long ball from Juan Dinares set Xavier Amau goalwards for the equaliser.

There was still time for a winner as Britain forced three late penalty corners but with the stopper, Simon Nicklin, having been substituted, their corner drill fell apart. A last- minute effort by Spain to snatch the winner was successfully smothered by Luckes as Amau broke clear.

SPAIN: R Jufresa; R Sala; S Amat, J Ejarque, X Guerrero; V Pujol, J Dinares, J Garcia (capt); D Freixa, P Garcia, X Amau. Substitutes used: N Cobos, J Excarre, X Moline.

GREAT BRITAIN: D Luckes (East Grinstead); P Bolland (Hounslow), J Halls (Old Loughtonians); R Davis (Harleston Magpies), Soma Singh (Southgate), M Sutton (Bournville); D Williams (Havant), J Laslett (Teddington, capt), R Garcia (Polo Barcelona), S Nicklin (Teddington), R Thompson (Hounslow). Substitutes used: C Mayer (Cannock), J Shaw (Southgate), R Crutchley (Hounslow), P McGuire (Teddington).

Umpires: E Denis (Bel), A Renaud (Fr).

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