Great Britain Men had to settle for fourth place in the inaugural FIH Pro League Grand Finals in Amstelveen on Sunday afternoon, losing out to hosts, the Netherlands 5-3 in a thoroughly entertaining match.
The Netherlands took the lead in the ninth minute, Jeroen Hertzberger sliding the ball home at the right post from a cross from the left.
Seven minutes before half time, the Netherlands still led 1-0 but a crazy final six minutes of the first half saw the teams score five goals to leave the destination of the bronze medals in doubt at half time with the score deadlocked at 3-3.
Surbiton’s Zach Wallace equalised for Great Britain in the 24th minute, receiving the ball from Chris Griffiths before slipping the ball past Dutch goalkeeper, Sam van der Ven.
Surbiton’s Harry Gibson played the first half in the Great Britain goal and was able to watch Henry Weir give Great Britain the lead for the first time in the 27th minute, getting a touch from short range from Sam Ward’s shot towards goal.
Gibson had a closer look at the next goal, Hertzberger levelling in the 29th minute deflecting Jip Janssen’s shot from a second penalty corner after Gibson had saved from the first..
A mere 32 seconds later, Great Britain were back in front, Phil Roper’s drag-flick giving them a 3-2 lead from their first penalty corner of the match.
In the final minute of the first half, the Netherlands won a penalty corner via video referral and Mink van der Weerden made no mistake to make the half time score 3-3, the sellout crowd having fifteen minutes to take in what they had seen before the second half as due to start.
George Pinner took over from Gibson in goal for the second half and had two warning crosses across goal to monitor in the early minutes of the third quarter. Ward came close to scoring a fourth goal in the 33rd minute, having a shot saved from Great Britain’s second penalty corner and then shooting past the left post from the 23 metre restart.
The game winner for the Netherlands was Mirco Pruijser with two goals in the last five minutes, both angled shots from the right of the circle.
The first came in the 40th minute from a cut back pass with the second at the end of the third quarter coming after an overhead pass and an attack down the right before another pass was rifled into the goal to give the Netherlands a 5-3 lead, more impressive with the Dutch down to ten players with Bjorn Kellerman in the sin-bin after seeing green.
In a thriller, that was the only card to be shown and Great Britain Head Coach, Danny Kerry elected to replace Pinner with an eleventh outfield player with just over six and a half minutes remaining, but the Netherlands successfully thwarted Great Britain’s attacking ambitions to clinch third place.
Great Britain can still take consolation from finishing higher than their seventh place world ranking.and were the sixth highest ranked team of the eight participants.
Along with Gibson, Brendan Creed and Wallace were both in the Great Britain starting lineup whilst James Gall and Tom Sorsby both came on as fifth minute substitutes. Alan Forsyth was replaced by Will Calnan in the squad, Calnan coming close to scoring at the end of the third quarter, only denied by a glove save.
The Great Britain Hockey match report can be read here
More information about the Men’s FIH Pro League can be found at the FIH website