FIH Pro League: GB 2 Netherlands 2 (3-4 pens)
PUBLISHED: 07:46 17 June 2019 | UPDATED: 07:46 17 June 2019
Great Britain come away with a point against the Dutch in a thriller in the FIH Pro League.
Danny Kerry's side were 1-0 and 2-1 down in the game, but took the match to a shootout with a last-minute penalty stroke from Alan Forsyth.
The stroke was won by Forsyth after a sensational pass from the returning Ashley Jackson, while Chris Grassick also more than played his part in the game after 18 months out injured, almost scoring twice in front of a hugely supportive crowd at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.
Jackson had already set up Chris Griffiths in the second half for GB's first goal, and Kerry's men showed quality, heart and endeavour against a top drawer Dutch side.
The point means the men are still in the hunt for a top four finish in the FIH Pro League, and go into next weekend's finale at the Twickenham Stoop with still all to play for.
Head coach Kerry said, "First half I thought we were the better side, we lost our way a little in the second half but stayed in it and I can't ask any more of the lads, they are doing very well. There's plenty more growth to come and we're in a good place.
"It was great for both Ash and Chris to be back, Ash told me he wasn't anticipating being so choked up before the game, and what a story for Grass, amazing for him playing a first game since April last year.
"It's The Stoop next, and if you haven't already got a ticket, get one! It'll be a cracker and I'm looking forward to it, it will be a real moment for the sport."
Jackson commented, "It was great to be back, I got a bit choked up during the anthem which I wasn't expecting to be honest! It was enjoyable to play in a game like that, I'm sure it was great to watch and the crowd were fantastic. Every aspect of the day was enjoyable, although of course we wanted the win. Now it's onto the Stoop which would be a great game to be part of."
Grassick added, "It felt pretty special to be back. I tried not to put too much pressure on myself, it was a great game and good to get the point at the end. We created chances and hopefully we're still in with a shout for the finals."
In glorious evening sunshine on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the game started at a lively pace; a good hockey crowd in attendance buoyed by the return of both Grassick and Jackson.
You may also want to watch:
The first quarter saw few chances as the teams sized each other up, and it was Grassick who came closest as his effort clipped the keeper and landed on the top of the net.
Early in the second quarter and the Dutch had a great sight of goal with an overload on the home defence, but young Tom Sorsby got back well to snuff out the threat.
The Netherlands were upping the tempo, and took the lead when Jeroen Hertzberger was well placed to expertly turn home a free hit that was leathered into the D from distance.
GB looked for an immediate response as Zach Wallace won a penalty corner but Jackson was denied and Grassick put the rebound just wide with little time to react.
With GB down to ten players after a card for Chris Griffiths, the visitors found a little space inside the D but George Pinner was well placed to boot clear on 25 minutes.
With the half almost up, a superb crossfield pass from Brendan Creed released Phil Roper, and he won another corner that Sam van der Ven did well to stop from Jackson.
Harry Gibson had a couple of efforts he needed to deal with early in the second half, but GB then began to get a greater foothold in the game and were showing patience in possession. That approach paid dividends with 38 on the clock, Jackson sliding a super pass into Griffiths, and although he still had a lot to do the East Grinstead man fired home superbly at the near post.
Wallace was next to go close in front of goal, firing in a stinging effort that was only kept out by the very top of van der Ven's pad. And then Britain were made to pay for turning over possession just outside the 22, Hertzberger smacking home on the reverse with a little under ten minutes to go.
With five minutes left Danny Kerry removed 'keeper Gibson, and it almost paid immediate dividends as Griffiths was very close to finding a teammate in the D.
A sensational Jackson pass then allowed Alan Forsyth to expertly win a corner in the final minute, and from the set piece we were then awarded a penalty stroke on referral for a stick tackle. Under immense pressure, Forsyth remained cool and took the game to a shootout to decide the extra point.
Into the shootout, the Netherlands always had the upper hand after Jorrit Croon scored the first effort and then Forsyth put his inches wide, and it was left to Adam Dixon to keep Britain in it with the final attempt, but Blaak managed to keep him out. And so Britain took a single point but still remain in the hunt for a top four spot.
Great Britain: Pinner (GK), Gibson (GK), Willars, Creed, Waller, Dixon (c), Gall, Sorsby, Sloan, Ames, Grassick, Jackson, Condon, Martin, Griffiths, Wallace, Roper, Forsyth.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Newham Recorder. Click the link in the orange box above for details.