GB and Belgium strengthen their place in FIH Pro League

Great Britain women and Belgium men both emerged victorious from their respective FIH Hockey Pro League matches on Sunday, completing healthy points hauls each from this latest series.  
GB’s women made it five points from a possible six against Belgium this weekend thanks to a narrow 2-1 win over the Red Panthers. The reigning Olympic champions added three points to the two claimed on Saturday, which came courtesy of a 1-1 draw before winning the shoot-out to claim the bonus point, helping them climb above Australia into fourth position in the FIH Hockey Pro League standings.  
Lily Owsley put Great Britain ahead with a well-executed penalty corner deflection just before the end of the first quarter, bur Belgium hit back within seconds of the re-start when Barbara Nelen volleyed home after an interchange of passes down the right carved open the British defence. 
GB’s winner came at the end of quarter three and was very much against the run of play, with Sarah Robertson deflecting home Anna Toman’s perfect penalty corner pass at the left post.   

“I think we are a really resilient team”, said Great Britain’s Fiona Crackles, the 19-year-old who was named Player of the Match in only her fourth senior international appearance.  

“I think we’ve had four games in about a week, and we are feeling it in our legs, but it didn’t really matter. We knew we had to leave nothing in the tank and keep grinding it out because we know that when it comes to the last quarter we can win. We just put everything into it.” 

Belgium’s men claimed a second win in two days over Great Britain, although like on Saturday there was only one goal separating the top and bottom placed teams in the standings.  

Great Britain took the lead in the tenth minute when David Condon pounced on loose ball following a glove save from Belgium goalkeeper Loic Van Doren.  

However, the reigning World and European champions turned the match on its head in the second quarter, with John-John Dohmen scoring his second goal in two days from open play before Alexander Hendrickx rattled home a trademark penalty corner drag-flick to put his team ahead and move level with Argentina’s Jose Tolini at the top of the scoring charts.  

Belgium dominated the third and fourth quarters, but Great Britain came within centimetres of levelling the scores in the final minutes when a diving Rupert Shipperley fired wide of the left post from close range.  

The win sees Belgium move seven points clear at the top of the league table, although they have played two games more than second placed Netherlands, who face the Red Lions this coming Wednesday in Brussels.  

“I think the second game was a lot better than the first one”, said Player of the Match John-John Dohmen.  

“We started really well; we just didn’t score enough. In the second half, we saw we were better physically. They had two more games in their legs, so that makes the difference. We really want to win the Pro League.  

“We missed the occasion last year when we lost in the final against Australia, so we really want to win it. We have a big game against the Netherlands, and we will do our best to win the Pro League.”