Great Britain finish sixth after Argentina defeat

GB men line up for penalty corner 480 x 290

Great Britain 1 (0)
Simon Mantell 50 (PC)
Phil Roper 57 (FG)

Argentina 4 (3)
Pedro Ibarra 5, 17 (PC, PC)
Gonzalo Peillat 14, 54 (PC, PC)

Great Britain were forced to settle for sixth place at the FIH World League Final after a 4-2 defeat to Argentina. Four penalty corner goals, two apiece for Pedro Ibarra and Gonzalo Peillat were enough for Los Leones despite replies from Simon Mantell and Phil Roper.

Argentina forced James Bailey into action early on, the goalkeeper extending a left leg to clear before watching as Lucas Rossi blazed a backhand shot over the bar. At the other end Simon Mantell picked out Sam Ward but his deflection flashed wide. Argentina won a penalty corner in the fifth minute and with everyone expecting Peillat to take the shot, Ibarra instead stepped up and beat Bailey with a low drag flick to make it 1-0.

Great Britain had their first clear sight of goal after some lovely approach work from Harry Martin set up Chris Grassick but his shot was blocked by the defender and Alan Forsyth’s follow-up flew over the top. Ward forced a good save from Juan Vivaldi with a neat turn and shot as Great Britain pressed for an equaliser. Just before the break, Argentina forced a penalty corner on referral and this time they doubled their lead. Peillat found the net for his seventh goal of the tournament. The No2 had another penalty corner chance with a minute left in the quarter but this time Bailey got down well to make the save.

Argentina won a series of penalty corners in the opening exchanges of the second quarter and from the third of these, the ball was slipped to Ibarra who fired home his second of the match to make it 3-0. Great Britain created a number of half chances but could not find the goal to get back into the contest and went in at the break 3-0 down.

Bobby Crutchley’s side started the second half brightly and David Condon stung the gloves of Vivaldi with a snap shot inside three minutes. GB enjoyed plenty of possession in the third quarter with Argentina content to sit back and protect what they had but the possession and territory came to nothing and Great Britain went into the final quarter, still trailing.

Great Britain forced a penalty corner at the start of the final quarter. Roper’s effort was charged down by the runner, however. Condon showed superb skills to fashion a chance on his own but his effort went wide. With ten minutes remaining Mantell pulled one back from a fierce, low penalty corner strike, his fourth of the competition, giving Great Britain a glimmer of hope.

That glimmer was extinguished with six minutes left. Peillat scored his second from a penalty corner to make it 4-1. With three minutes to go, some lovely skill along the baseline from Roper set up a chance and although Forsyth couldn’t turn the ball in, Roper was on hand to slot it home to make it 4-2. It proved just to be a consolation goal for Bobby Crutchley’s side who were beaten into sixth place by Los Leones.

Bobby Crutchley, Great Britain Head Coach:

“We gave away some cheap penalty corners and didn’t defend them very well, which with the corner threats they have is always going to make life difficult. We played better in the second half but by then it was too little, too late and the damage was done.

We started well in the tournament but the group as a whole hadn’t experienced this environment before and so they seemed to find it hard to get the consistency needed for this level. We’ve learnt a lot and have plenty to take away from the competition but on the whole it’s a frustrating end for us.

“We made the decision to leave certain people at home, so we were missing a lot of experience, but I’m glad we did that. Unless you put players in a tournament environment you will never know how they’ll do. The calendar is very busy and punishing so you can’t play the same players all the time. We have lots to learn but we have lots of positives to take, too.”