Great Britain Men pulled off a stunning comeback from 4-1 down after the first quarter to open their FIH Pro League campaign in Spain with a 6-5 victory.
The drama wasn’t over until after the final whistle as Spain threatened to repeat their heroics of the week before when they earned a 2-2 draw with Belgium with two late penalty corners, only for Great Britain to hold out after conceding three awards.
After the first fifteen minutes of action, a Great Britain win seemed to be a distant hope as Spain led 4-1, Xavi Lleonart scoring in the second minute, with Adam Dixon replying two minutes later. Marc Bolto’s deft lob restored the Spanish lead in the seventh minute, then the ball was pulled back for Diego Arana to extend the lead two minutes later.
There was drama in the eleventh minute when Albert Beltran scored Spain’s fourth goal, the goal confirmed only after a video referral to check a touch in the circle.
The goal scoring slowed down in the second quarter, Surbiton’s Zach Wallace reducing Great Britain’s deficit to 4-2 with his first GB goal.
The drama returned with five minutes remaining in the third quarter as Great Britain struck twice in as many minutes from penalty corner conversion to draw level with their hosts. First Mark Gleghorne’s trademark drag-flick rebounded off the backboard and then Dixon put away a rebound after Gleghorne’s initial shot was saved in the 41st minute.
The comeback appeared to be completed two minutes into the final quarter when Phil Roper gave Great Britain the lead for the first time in the game, and then sealed when with three minutes remaining David Condon left Spain trailing 6-4.
However, just as in their first match against Belgium, trailing by two goals late in the match, Spain scored in the 58th minute, this time thanks to an Alvaro Iglesias penalty corner deflection. Spain installed a kicking back and with Great Britain just three seconds away from victory, Spain forced the first of three penalty corners. The first was injected after the clock ran down and resulted in a follow-up award with Great Britain losing their video referral.
Lead runner Liam Sanford’s bravery resulted in a third corner for Spain which was brilliantly saved and cleared by goalkeeper, George Pinner.
Great Britain are therefore the early leaders of the competition having won the highest scoring match in the history of the FIH Pro League.
Harry Gibson was in the starting lineup together with Surbiton team-mates Brendan Creed, Alan Forsyth and Zach Wallace. Luke Taylor was a fourth minute substitute with James Gall coming on a minute later.
More information about the men’s tournament can be found here
More information about the women’s tournament can be found here