FIH Pro League: GB men win, women take shoot-out spoils

Great Britain's men celebrate a goal against New Zealand (pic GB Hockey)

Great Britain's men celebrate a goal against New Zealand (pic GB Hockey) - Credit: Archant

Great Britain’s men eased to a 3-0 win over New Zealand, while the women won a shoot-out following a 2-2 draw against their rivals.

Two goals from Adam Dixon helped Danny Kerry's side secure their first win in the 2020 FIH Pro League, with Liam Ansell also on target after a draw the previous day.

Meanwhile, Anna Toman and Hampstead & Westminster's Grace Balsdon netted with fine corner flicks for the women, as Sarah Jones had a last-minute goal disallowed, before Tess Howard and Sabbie Heesh starred in the 5-4 shoot-out triumph.

Dixon's precise flick from a 14th-minute corner opened the scoring in a sedate opening quarter, with two Luke Taylor corners cleared in the second period.

George Pinner was called into action for the first time early in the third quarter, while Richard Joyce produced two fine saves to keep out efforts from Alan Forsyth and Phil Roper.

The visitors increased the pressure in the final quarter and added a second as Ansell fired a corner through the man stationed on the post in the 50th minute.

Five minutes later Dixon wrapped up the points with another superb finish, finding the opposite corner to his first goal with ease to ensure Great Britain's men - who included Hampstead & Westminster quartet Harry Martin, Will Calnan, Jacob Draper and Rupert Shipperley, ended their tour of Oceania on a high.

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Dixon said: "I'm very happy with the result. Obviously we've been here for a while and not found a win so to come away with the full points is reflection of the work we've put in.

"We've been trying a lot of new stuff over the last couple of weeks so to see it come together is all very nice.

"We didn't feel like we played that badly yesterday to come away with the draw but we weren't clinical enough in front of goal. So to see a few things click into place is great and to wrap the tour up with a win is great for team morale.

"It felt nice to score. It was a bit of a shock. They were the first flicks I've had on this trip so it was a bit of a bonus for them to go in. It was a good day at the office."

Heesh and opposite number Georgia Barnett were in early action as the women battled it out, with Hampstead & Westminster's Lily Owsley charging down a corner.

GB fell behind as Shannon smashed home from a counter-attack on 28 minutes, but Susannah Townsend was denied by a diving Barnett save moments later.

Kaitlin Cotter had an effort ruled out early in the third quarter, with Toman firing home her fourth goal in seven matches to level soon after.

Balsdon produced a trademark short corner finish into the top corner to put GB ahead, but Shannon squared matters after Laura Unsworth had blocked a corner.

Jones found the net in the last minute after good build-up play from Charlotte Watson, but New Zealand reviewed and it was disallowed for having touched the back of the stick.

Howard, Owsley, Hannah Martin and Hampstead & Westminster's Sarah Robertson put GB 4-2 up on shuffles, but the hosts hit back to force suddent death.

Heesh then denied Michelsen and Howard stepped up again to claim the extra point, with Toman saying: "We're happy to get those two points with the bonus in the shootout. However we are a bit disappointed to not get all three. We dropped intensity a little bit in the first half compared to yesterday, which is something to learn from as we will have back-to-back games again.

"I wouldn't say I'm becoming a goal machine but it is nice to be able to step up and get a few goals - as a defender it doesn't happen that often and it didn't happen at all for me earlier in my career.

"This weekend has given us heaps of confidence. We aimed to get 50 per cent of points from this trip so we're a little bit down on that but it's been an incredible tour, we've improved leaps and bounds as a team.

"We've started to create a new identity as a team as well so we need to carry that forward. I'm really excited for what's to come."