Surbiton’s Zach Wallace made his GB debut against Belgium on Tuesday lunchtime but Belgium spoiled both Wallace and new GB Men’s Head Coach, Danny Kerry’s debuts with a 3-2 victory in front of around two thousand enthusiastic schoolchildren at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.
Surbiton’s Harry Gibson was in the starting GB lineup, rotating by quarter with George Pinner. The game burst into life when the teams traded goals in the first quarter. David Condon scored from close range in the tenth minute to the delight of the young spectators, only for Belgium to equalise a minute later through Cédric Charlier.
The game was played in windy conditions and after initial sunny spells, the skies became overcast enough for the floodlights to be switched on at half time.
A minute before the end of the third quarter, Tom Boon gave Belgium the lead for the first time in the match, a lead they held until the 57th minute when Chris Griffiths seemed to have earned Team GB a draw, the ball passed from the right for Griffiths to push the ball over the goalline.
However, Belgium again responded quickly, Florent van Aubel notching the winning goal in the 59th minute.
Surbiton’s Luke Taylor came on as a third minute substiute, Wallace officially made his debut in the fourth minute while play was stopped after John-John Dohmen was injured and had to come off the pitch. James Gall joined Gibson in the starting line-up.
After the match as further entertainment of the schoolchildren, a shootout was played out which ended 4-2 to Belgium, the biggest cheer coming when Barry Middleton, making his 150th appearance for GB, scored his country’s second goal in the shootout.
The second match in the two match series takes place at Lee Valley at 7.30 on Wednesday night.