GB debut goals for English pair

East Grinstead’s Darren Cheesman and Loughborough Students’ Richard Smith both scored on their debuts for Great Britain in a 2-2 with Argentina at Lilleshall National Sports Centre on Wednesday afternoon. 

Having been behind at the break, Cheesman’s goal levelled things for GB before Smith flicked home a penalty corner to put Britain into a deserved lead.  But a fortunate late goal from Lucas Rossi secured Argentina a draw.

Darren Cheesman 48 (F)  
Richard Smith 51 (PC) 

ARGENTINA (Men) 2 (1)
Ignacio Bergner 13 (PC)  
Lucas Rossi 67 (F)

Darren Cheesman in action for East GrinsteadThe last time many of the British squad members played international hockey it was for their home nations in temperatures of more than 40 degrees at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.  Together again as Great Britain, it was just five degrees when they left the pitch in Shropshire after the first of two matches against Argentina, which form part of a Great Britain training camp as GB continue preparations for London 2012.  Head Coach Jason Lee included debutant Cheesman (pictured right) on his bench as Smith, an England regular who missed out on a GB debut in the summer through injury, started.  Lee again selected 18 year old youngsters Andy Bull of Loughborough Students and Harry Martin of Old Loughtonians.

In a first half that did not go to plan, Great Britain were slow out of the blocks, turning over possession on a number of occasions.  In the 13th minute, Argentina took the lead with a well executed penalty corner that Ignacio Bergner flicked high into the net beyond Cannock goalkeeper James Fair’s left.  The goal was enough to give Argentina, ranked 11th in the world, the halftime lead. 

Richard Smith celebrates scoring a goal for England against the Netherlands at the ABN AMRO Champions Trophy, December 2009Great Britain returned for the second half to put in a much improved performance.  In the 48th minute, East Grinstead forward Cheesman made no mistake after receiving a cutback from the baseline, slotting home from around seven metres out to level at 1-1.  And three minutes later Richard Smith (pictured right playing for England) put GB 2-1 ahead from their third penalty corner.  His low drag flick found the backboard low to the goalkeeper’s left and it was just reward for Great Britain’s dominant start to the second half.

Despite falling behind, Argentina remained dangerous on the counter attack and with just three minutes of the match remaining one such counter punch resulted in a late equaliser for the South Americans.  After winning possession from Great Britain near the top of the British circle, Argentina drove along the baseline through Lucas Rossi, whose miss-hit shot deceived James Fair and crept inside the far post for 2-2.

Speaking afterwards, Great Britain Team Manager Andy Halliday said, “We were punished for a sloppy start but in difficult conditions we got ourselves into a winning position.  It was disappointing that a lapse in concentration allowed Argentina back into the match at the end.”

The sides meet again on Thursday morning in the second and final match of the series.

James Fair (Cannock) GK [England]
Andy Bull (Loughborough Students) Def [England]
Richard Smith (Loughborough Students) Def [England]
Niall Stott (East Grinstead) Def [Scotland]
Nick Catlin (Loughborough Students) Fwd [England]
Ashley Jackson (East Grinstead) Mid [England]
Glenn Kirkham (East Grinstead) Mid [England]
Rob Moore (Wimbledon) Mid/Fwd [England]
Jonty Clarke (Reading) Fwd [England]
Barry Middleton (Der Club an der Alster) Mid/Fwd [England]
James Tindall (Surbiton) Fwd [England]

Substitutes Used
Richard Alexander (Surbiton) Def/Mid/Fwd [England]
Darren Cheesman (East Grinstead) Fwd [England]
Iain Mackay (Reading) Mid/Fwd [England]
Adam Dixon (Beeston) Def/Mid [England]
Harry Martin (Old Loughtonians) Mid [England]

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