Cheered on by a packed Riverbank Arena, Great Britain men were back to their best this afternoon with a dominant display against Pakistan coming out 4-1 winners.
The result leaves the home side equal on points with Australia at the top of Pool A and sets up a mouth-watering contest in two days time when the sides will face each other.
After drawing 2-2 with South Africa on Wednesday night, Great Britain came out with a point to prove against the world number eight side. Two goals in the first half from James Tindall and Jonty Clarke set the tone and an unstoppable Ashley Jackson added two more in the second half to make it 4-0 before Pakistan pulled one back in the final minute through their captain Sohail Abbas.
Speaking after his man of the match display, Great Britain forward Ashley Jackson said, “It was very important for us to win after a disappointing performance against South Africa, but that was a much better today and there was a lot more fight about us. We knew that if we slipped up here then it was going to be very difficult from here on in, so we were playing with a bit of fear, which always makes it a bit better.”
Great Britain made a great start to the match and broke the deadlock early in the fourth minute through Surbiton’s James Tindall who scored his first goal of the competition. East Grinstead’s danger-man Ashley Jackson made an excellent break and found Old Loughtonians’ Harry Martin in space inside the circle. The midfielder’s smart shot was saved by Pakistan’s goalkeeper Imran Shah but the ball broke to Tindall at the back post and his reverse stick shot made it 1-0 to Great Britain.
Two minutes later, Great Britain had a chance to double their lead following Surbiton’s Matt Daly winning a penalty corner for a foot infringement. However, Jackson’s drag-flick towards the top right hand corner of the goal was brilliantly deflected over the cross-bar by Rashid Mehmood’s outstretched stick on the goal-line.
The second goal for Great Britain in the 27th minute came as the result of exquisite inter-play between the influential Jackson and Reading’s Nick Catlin. With Shah’s attempt to smother the ball being foiled by Catlin’s clever draw and pass, his Reading team-mate Jonty Clarke was left with the simple task of rolling the ball into the unguarded Pakistan goal to double the home nation’s lead at 2-0.
Great Britain almost took a three goal advantage into the half-time interval but both Surbiton’s Matt Daly and Great Britain Captain Barry Middleton’s despairing dives couldn’t connect with Jackson’s excellent cross from the left hand side of the circle. The score remained 2-0 as the sides went in for the break.
A flurry of penalty corners were awarded to Pakistan in the opening minutes of the second half with Pakistan Captain Sohail Abbas, a renowned penalty corner expert, stepping up to take all three set-plays. However, an initial defensive block and two brilliant saves by the commanding Great Britain and Cannock goalkeeper James Fair denied the 37 year-old veteran from scoring Pakistan’s first goal of the game.
Shortly afterwards, the irrepressible Jackson had another opportunity from a penalty corner when neat stick-work from Surbiton’s Rob Moore forced a Pakistan foot infringement in the shooting circle. The former World Young Player of the Year’s first shot on goal was illegally blocked by the on-coming Mehmood, who took a painful knock and treatment for his troubles. However, the 24 year-old composed himself again to dispatch the resulting penalty corner past Shah and extend Great Britain’s lead at 3-0 in the 50th minute.
With Pakistan tiring towards the end of the match, Jackson crowned a fantastic man of the match performance with another penalty corner strike in the 67th minute. Martin’s quick dart along the by-line was impeded illegally by a defender and the subsequent set-play saw Jackson expertly drag-flick the ball high beyond Shah’s attempted save to put Great Britain 4-0 up.
Not to be completely out-done, Abbas continued his remarkable international scoring record by pulling back a consolation goal in the 69th minute when he beat Fair from a penalty corner to make the final score Great Britain 4-1 Pakistan.
As a result, Great Britain are now level with Australia at the top of Pool A on seven points. The two unbeaten sides will meet each other at the Riverbank Arena on Sunday 5 August (19.00).
Looking forward to Sunday’s game, Jackson said, “It’s going to be tough. We’re going to be slogging it out toe to toe. I’m sure it’s going to be a fantastic match and very entertaining.”
Meanwhile, Great Britain women have the chance to qualify for the semi-finals tomorrow, when a win or draw against China will guarantee the home nation a last four place and the prospect of a medal match. Great Britain vs. China starts at 16.00 at the Riverbank Arena.
GREAT BRITAIN 4-1 (HT:2-0) PAKISTAN
Great Britain Goal Scorers: James Tindall 4’ (F), Jonty Clarke 27’ (F), Ashley Jackson 50’ 67’ (PC) (PC)
Pakistan Goal Scorer: Sohail Abbas 69’ (PC)
Great Britain Hockey Press Release