Great Britain Women beat Belgium 2-0 for their first home win in the inaugural FIH Pro League in front of another enthusiastic crowd at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on Sunday afternoon.
Great Britain dominated Belgium and in the process put together their best performance in the Pro League following on from another encouraging performance against Argentina the day before.
Both teams took time to settle down but Belgium’s Aline Fobe forced a save from GB goalkeeper Amy Tennant in the eleventh minute from their first penalty corner before Great Britain started to take control.
Lily Owsley was unlucky not to connect with Surbiton’s Hannah Martin who just misjudged her dive when trying to score.
Surbiton’s Izzy Petter had a chance blocked in the dying seconds of the first quarter and then in the 20th minute, Great Britain had a goal disallowed, Laura Unsworth’s penalty corner goal chalked off after a video referral identified a back stick offence.
The frustration continued as Belgian goalkeeper, Aisling D’Hooghe refused to be beaten, thwarting Martin and Sarah Robertson in quick succession.
Petter came even closer to notching her first international goal a minute before half time, her shot agonisingly rebounding off the inside of the left post.
D’Hooghe performed more heroics in the third quarter before Grace Balsdon on her 50th combined international appearance finally broke the deadlock with an unstoppable drag-flick into the roof of the net in the 43rd minute.
With seven minutes remaining it took another bit of magic for D’Hooghe to be beaten a second time, Owsley scoring a brilliant individual goal, beating Belgian defenders before unleashing a vicious shot into the net to double Great Britain’s lead.
Two minutes later following Amy Tennant’s double save, Belgium lost their video referral asking for a penalty stroke, but to their credit, Belgium didn’t give up and forced further saves before the hooter sounded to confirm Great Britain’s first home win.
Surbiton’s Martin, Emily Defroand (who came in for Erica Sanders), Giselle Ansley, Hollie Pearne-Webb and Jo Hunter were all in the starting lineup.
Sarah Evans came on as a third minute substitute and Izzy Petter followed two minutes later. Although goalkeeper Sabbie Heesh was included in the squad, Tennant played the whole game.
After the game, Martin said that the key to the victory was preparation, “We did our research before the match and then having decided on the game plan, stuck to it.”
With the reverse fixture in Antwerp due to be held on 30 May, Martin added “We’ll watch the video of today’s game in advance of the match and then make sure we compete as we can’t rest on our laurels.”
More information about the Women’s FIH Pro League can be found at the FIH website
The Great Britain match report can be read at the Great Britain Hockey website