GB Men Pipped By Australia After Shootout
By Colin Pike
Great Britain Men lost 3-1 to Australia in a shootout after battling with the Kookaburras to a thrilling 4-4 draw in normal time in Sydney on Saturday in their first FIH Pro League match of the season.
In extremely hot conditions, the deadlock wasn't broken until the 19th minute when Eddie Ockenden turned the ball in from a penalty corner to give Australia the lead.
A minute later, Great Britain fought back, their equaliser also coming from a penalty corner, Ashley Jackson putting away a rebound after seeing his first effort on goal saved.
Tom Wickham restored Australia's lead from open play a minute before half time, but the goal of the match came in the second minute of the third quarter.
Surbiton's Zach Wallace ran from just inside his own half and through the centre of the pitch, pursued by Australian defenders before unleashing a fierce shot into the top left corner to restore parity.
Things got better from Great Britain when in the 44th minute, a misplaced Australian pass found its way to former Surbiton player Rupert Shipperley who duly smashed the ball into the goal off home goalkeeper Tyler Lovell on his GB debut to give the visitors the lead for the first time.
A minute later, another former Surbiton player, Liam Ansell caught an Australian defender in possession and ran towards goal before another spectacular finish doubled Great Britain's lead.
However, Australia fought back with two goals in the last four minutes to draw 4-4 and force a shootout. In the 56th minute, Aran Zalewski finished from a narrow angle from the left of the circle from a penalty corner after Harry Gibson's initial save and in the penultimate minute, Trent Mitton fired home from close range to leave honours even after 60 minutes.
In the shootout, Surbiton's Alan Forsyth put Great Britain ahead after Matthew Swann failed to score for Australia, but that was to be the visitors' only success.
Jake Whetton and Jake Harvie both scored for the Kookaburras whilst Surbiton's Tom Sorsby and Phil Roper were unsuccessful.
Flynn Ogilvie extended Australia's lead to 3-1 with Wallace's failure to score within the alotted eight seconds ensured that the Kookaburras took the additional point.
Surbiton's Gibson; Luke Taylor, Forsyth and James Gall were all in the GB starting lineup whilst Sorsby came on as a fourth minute substitute and Wallace followed in the fifth minute.
After the match, Wallace said, "It was a tough game, tough opposition and coming our here in 40C. So getting out here and putting in a good performance obviously we're very happy with, but we're gutted not to get all three points.
"The goal was great. I picked it up, started running and the next thing I knew I was in the circle. It was a great feeling to score it though.
"We're going to come back harder tomorrow to secure all three points."