Team GB victorious over Argentina in the Hockey
7:46am Tuesday 31st July 2012 in London 2012 Sport
Team GB’s men’s hockey side made a winning start to their Olympic campaign with an impressive 4-1 victory over Argentina in Pool A at the Riverbank Arena tonight.
Matt Daly looked to have given Britain an early lead but his effort was chalked off following a successful Argentine appeal.
The home nation were not to be denied though as captain Barry Middleton eventually did put them in front, a lead which they held going into the second period.
Argentina were brighter after the restart but the lead was doubled when Middleton secured a personal brace.
Britain were in dominant mood by this point and their attacking prowess was further rewarded when Dan Fox struck ahead of Richard Smith converting a penalty corner to make it 4-0.
Pedro Ibarra pulled one back for Argentina but it was as good as it got for the South Americans.
There was plenty of London interest in the game with five players in the British squad playing their club hockey in the capital.
Surbiton trio Daly, Rob Moore and James Tindall were all involved and were joined by Wimbledon’s Ben Hawes.
Elsewhere, Old Loughtonians’ Harry Martin, the youngest member of the squad, completed the quintet of Londoners in the group.
Britain made a bright start and looked to have taken an early lead when forward Daly tapped in after Argentine stopper Juan Manuel Vivaldi had saved well.
However, much to the annoyance of a vocal home crowd, Argentina’s protestations eventually saw the official reverse the decision to allow the goal and the sides remained in deadlock.
Team GB were still making all of the early running though and whenever Argentina were able to enter the penalty area, their attack was quickly snuffed out.
The hosts were looking the most likely to score and appeared set to do so when Glenn Kirkham struck at goal but his effort was well saved.
With 15 minutes played, Britain again went close when the ball was worked into the area and played right across goal but Martin was unable to get the decisive touch.
The decisive breakthrough came 21 minutes into the contest as the British pressure was finally rewarded with a goal.
It came from a penalty corner on the left which Vivaldi did well to initially stop but skipper Middleton was on hand to convert at the second attempt.
Britain continued to press and looked set to double their advantage when Ashley Jackson was played in but with only the keeper to beat, the pressure of a recovering defender was enough to hinder his shot which was well saved.
At the other end, Argentina had their first meaningful chance of the game when Facundo Callioni turned his marker to run through but, unable to get a clean connection, James Fair was able to save.
Both sides were now looking for the game’s second goal but it was not forthcoming in the first half as Britain took a one-goal lead into the break.
Argentina came out fast after the interval and should have levelled were it not for a fine save from Fair.
Agustin Mazzilli’s fierce strike from distance was redirected at the last second by an unmarked Callioni, but the British man between the sticks was well placed to make the save.
Despite their early pressure though, it was Team GB who struck next, with Middleton again finding the net.
A neat passing move across the Argentine penalty area saw the captain pick up the ball and cut inside before firing into the net.
And it should have been 3-0 immediately after as a long ball through the middle from Jackson found Tindall but, under tight pressure from his marker, his shot on the turn fell inches the wrong side of the post.
Mazzilli tried his luck from distance again but saw his effort blocked by Hawes who was proving a commanding presence at the back.
It was Britain playing the more attractive brand of hockey and their fluent style almost saw them rewarded with a third.
Nick Catlin took up the challenge, driving forward and riding tackles before his strike was deflected wide.
They weren’t to be denied for long though and with over 20 minutes still to play, the comfort zone was increased.
Fox was the scorer this time around, playing a clever one-two passing move on the break with Jackson before neatly finding the corner of the net.
And three soon became four as on 53 minutes, Argentina conceded a penalty corner which Britain made the most of, Smith this time the man to beat Vivaldi.
Britain didn’t have it all their own way however, as Argentina were able to pull one back from a penalty corner with Ibarra firing in low through a sea of British sticks and legs.
It was long way back for the South Americans still but the hosts were not looking to rest on their laurels, continuing to press forward in search of fifth goal which the crowd had called for.
Jonty Clarke’s cross from the right looked certain to provide it but the onrushing Daly was just unable to get his stick on the ball as the chance went begging.
Ibarra’s effort actually brought an end to the scoring though as Britain were able to see out the game and get their Olympic campaign off to a winning start.
Team GB: Fair, Kirkham, Jackson, Moore, Hawes, Wilson, Middleton, Tindall, Lewerrs, Catlin, Smith, Martin, Daly, Clarke, MacKay, Fox.
Argentina: Vivaldi, Vila M, Ibarra, Callioni Rey, Cammareri, Vila L, Lopez, Brunet, Mazzilli, Peillat, Bergner, Vila R, Paredes, Montelli, Rossi.