Hockey Olympic Qualifiers : GB take 4-1 lead after first match

By S. Ramaguru In Lee Valley London

Great Britain took a giant step towards Olympic Qualification by defeating Malaysia 4-1 at the Lee Valley Hockey Stadium in London.

It was a comeback win for the home team who trailed for a large party of the match having gone down 0-1 as early as the sixth minute.

But they took their chances well for a three goal lead going into the second match to be played on Sunday to determine just who goes to Tokyo 2020z

Four goals in the space of 15 minutes between the third and fourth quarters put paid to the Malaysian chances of upsetting the home team.

“ Britain deserves to win but the scoreline was a bit flattering,” said Malaysian coach Roelant Oltmans.

“ In the first two quarters we knew what we were doing but after that slowly but surely we started making mistakes like running with the ball abd not giving options to those in possession,

“ We need to change out second half performance for sure and look to score the first two goals tomorrow in order to put pressure on our opponents.”

It was a tentative and nett start in the opening few minutes as Great Britain and Malaysia were probing for gaps in each other’s defence.

But the Asian side looked more dangerous and it soon paid dividends.

And in the 6th minute Malaysia took the lead after the initial shot from Malaysia’s penalty corner is chased down but Nabil Fiqri Mohd Noor is on hand to shoot home past goalkeeper George Pinner.

However Great Britain had a chance to equalise via a penalty corner in the 11th minute.

Harry Martin won a penalty corner but Sam Ward’s shot is blocked and cleared by keeper S. Kumar .

Fine play by Nice work by Phil Roper won Great Britain a penalty corner in the 23rd minute but the shot saved by Kumar and second penalty corner attempt cleared to safety.

A minute before halftime saw Malaysia being awarded their first penalty corner after a good run but Nik Aiman Nik Rozemi but the GB defence held well.

But Great Britain were not to be denied.

A poacher’s goal for Great Britain striker Sam Ward put Great Britain on equal terms with Malaysia in the 33rd minute.

And suddenly the visitors were backpedaling.

A moment of brilliance from Phil Roper as he took the ball into the Malaysia circle, turned his defender and fired home to turn this match around for the host nation to go into the lead 2-1 in the 36th minute.

Great Britain went 3-1 ahead through lovely touch from James Gall that placed the ball perfectly in the path of Alan Forsyth saw the striker hit home his 99th goal for Great Britan in the 42nd minute to widen the lead to 3-1.

A goal mouth scramble, which Malaysia couldn’t clear, allowed James Gall to add his name to the score-sheet to make it 4-1 in the 47th minute.

Both Malaysian coach Roelant Oltmans and skipper Mohd Shukri Mutalib said that the weather was not the factor in the defeat.

“ We played well in the first two quarters but made silly mistakes especially in the third quarter to concede some soft goals,” said Shukri.

“ We just have to go all out tomorrow and try our very best but u am still optimistic we can make it to Tokyo.”

And Oltmans summed up the weather theory by saying;

“ Let’s not even talk about the weather. We have been in Europe for two weeks and the weather is never the reason.”