Hockey: Great Britain 2 Belgium 3
PUBLISHED: 09:00 03 October 2018
A late goal from Florent van Aubel secured a win for Belgium over Great Britain in the Toshiba TVs Schools International at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on Tuesday.
Over 2,500 schoolchildren, including 1,300 from East London schools, packed into the stadium and were inspired by watching two world-class teams in action.
And the match also saw Great Britain and England legend Barry Middleton make his 150th appearance for GB, taking his overall international appearance tally to 425.
It was also Danny Kerry’s first match in charge of the Great Britain men’s squad while Zach Wallace, Jack Waller and Rhys Smith all made their senior GB debuts.
Great Britain took the lead through David Condon before Cedric Charlier deflected home to equalise before half-time.
Tom Boon put the visitors ahead before the late drama unfolded as Chris Griffiths looked to have rescued a point when he scored on 57 minutes but van Aubel was on hand to grab a late winner.
The game began at a good pace with both sides showing a lot of intensity with the first goal of the match arriving after 10 minutes.
Debutant Smith collected the ball and neatly turned his man before finding Sam Ward in the circle and while his shot was straight at the keeper the ball fell kindly to Condon to tuck home from close range.
The visitors responded almost immediately though, as a smart initial save from Harry Gibson saw the ball came out to Felix Denayer and his reverse stick shot across goal was lifted over Gibson by Charlier as the sides entered the first break level.
GB had the better of the chances in the second quarter, as firstly Middleton made a great interception in midfield before feeding Phil Roper whose shot was saved.
Moments later the hosts reached the baseline with a swift move but the cut back just evaded the on-rushing Zach Wallace.
The half ended with back-to-back penalty corners for Belgium but the GB defence held firm to keep them out and ensure the score remained level.
The third quarter was closely fought with fewer chances but it was the visitors who edged ahead on the stroke of the final break when a short counter attack allowed Charlier space to pass into Boon, who passed into an empty goal.
GB came out with good intent as they looked to level the score and began to make numerous circle entries and with three minutes to go they grabbed a deserved equaliser.
A flowing move down the right eventually saw the ball cut back to Griffiths, who lifted high into the net, however that wasn’t to be the end of the drama as Belgium grabbed a late winner.
Attacking down the right the ball found van Aubel on the back post who tucked home to seal victory for the visitors.
The two sides meet again on Wednesday evening in the Anniversary International to mark 30 years since Great Britain’s men won the Olympic gold medal at the 1988 Games in Seoul.
Great Britain: Harry Gibson, George Pinner, Liam Sanford, Michael Hoare, Luke Taylor, Adam Dixon, Jack Waller, James Gall, Ian Sloan, Rhys Smith, Chris Griffiths, Harry Martin, Barry Middleton, David Condon, Phil Roper, Zach Wallace, Will Calnan, Sam Ward.