India. . . . . .1
GREAT BRITAIN, in a disciplined performance, followed the example set by their women on Wednesday evening with a well deserved win against India to keep alive their semi-final aspirations.
With 19-year-old Simon Nicklin lining up at inside-left instead of captain Rob Clift and Don Williams starting on the right wing in preference to Steve Batchelor, Britain were quickly into their stride but it took them 19 minutes to wear down a tenacious defence.
Rob Thompson and Williams combined well to force Britain's only penalty corner of the match. Rob Hill, with his accustomed aplomb and well-rehearsed drill, flicked the ball high into the net to give Britain a lead they were to protect, with an element of luck and sound goalkeeping from Sean Rowlands, until the 53rd minute.
Although Britain had held the upper hand during a far from pretty first half they were, in the words of their coach Norman Hughes, 'to come under the cosh after the interval', with India once again finding it possible to attack down their right wing.
The half indeed started with Rowlands making two desperate, smothering saves from Pillay Dhanraj and Didar Singh in quick succession. Pressure was not relieved until 12 minutes into the half when an overhead from Hill sent Batchelor, who had just replaced Williams, dashing down the wing to shoot narrowly wide.
A casual approach from Rowlands, allowing a deflection to go for a long corner, gave India the opportunity to equalise. The long corner cross from Pargat Singh fell to Jude Sebastan to jab home despite a desperate lunge by Russell Garcia.
Seconds later Britain were back on the attack, Thompson blasting wide on the turn. At this stage British prayers might have been for the final whistle to go and to settle for a draw as the Indians returned to the assault on the British citadel.
It was all to change with a shrewd, tactical substitution. Within a minute of his arrival, John Shaw had sent Nicklin off on a long penetrating run to find Thompson whose push on to Sean Kerly gave Britain's sharpest shot the opportunity to add his name again to a score sheet for his 16th Olympic goal in as many appearances.
Three minutes later Shaw's fresh legs were to take on the tiring Indian defence, move behind it, and with a precision pass set up Thompson for a cracking goal into the roof of the net. There was still time for India to force three late penalty corners and for Mukest Nandanoort to be suspended for a crude foul on Jon Potter, who has shown vintage form in Britain's defence, without change to the 3-1 scoreline.
Hughes said after the game: 'We played to a plan which - although not pretty - was effective. Now for Argentina on Saturday.'
GREAT BRITAIN: S Rowlands (Havant); S Martin (capt, Holywood 87), P Bolland (Hounslow), J Potter (Hounslow), J Laslett (Teddington), R Hill, D Williams, R Garcia (all Havant), R Thompson (Hounslow), S Nicklin (Slough), S Kerly (Canterbury). Substitutes: S Batchelor (East Grinstead) for Williams, 47; J Shaw (Southgate) for Garcia, 60; R Clift (East Grinstead) for Nicklin, 63.
INDIA: A Ballal; Pargat Singh (capt), C Poonacha, Harpreet Singh, Sukhjit Singh, S Ahmed, M Nandanoori, J Sebasten, Jagbir Singh, P Dhanraj, Didar Singh. Substitutes: Darryl Souza for Didar Singh, 43; Lakra Ajit for Sukhjit Singh, 64.
Umpires: P van Reth (Netherlands) & J Gortazar (Spain).Reuse content