Netherlands 2 (1)
Brinkman (22’, FG); Janssen (31’, PC)
Great Britain 2 (0)
Ward (52’, FG; 57’, PC)
Great Britain’s men produced a superb final quarter comeback to secure a point against The Netherlands to secure their place in the last eight of the Tokyo Olympics.
Knowing a point or more would see them qualify for the quarter-finals with a game to spare, it looked as though Danny Kerry’s side would have to wait until their final match with Belgium as they trailed 2-0 heading into the final 15 minutes.
But Sam Ward struck twice in quick succession to bring his side level before they kept out for corners in the final minute.
The result moves Great Britain to third in the table ahead of their final game against the Belgians tomorrow.
The opening quarter was a tense affair with neither side able to really establish any influence on the game. Ollie Payne was called into the action for the first time in the ninth minute as he produced a remarkable reaction save to keep out a corner rebound after Tom Sorsby had stopped the initial flick.
Ward then saw two corners of his own saved at the start of the second quarter before the Dutch produced a stunning team goal to open the scoring. Jonas de Geus beautifully controlled an aerial in the circle, played a smart one-two with Mirco Pruijser before crossing for Thierry Brinkman to score.
Zach Wallace sliced an opportunity to equalise shortly before half-time before Jip Janssen doubled the Dutch lead in the first minute of the second half as The Netherlands scored their first corner of the tournament.
Great Britain turned up the pressure after that, with Liam Ansell seeing two corners charged down while crosses from Liam Sanford and Chris Griffiths – playing his 50th game for the country – failed to find a team-mate.
The Netherlands struck the post from a corner rebound early in the fourth quarter after Payne had saved the initial effort and that proved to be the turning point in the game. Five minutes later, Great Britain pulled one back as Tom Sorsby raced into the circle before his shot was turned beyond Pirmin Blaak by Ward.
The forward then scored his fourth goal of the tournament in the 57th minute to equalise for Great Britain as he rifled in a corner.
The drama didn’t end there though as Great Britain won another corner a minute later but couldn’t convert before the Dutch had four corners in the final minute. However a combination of brave defending, a great save by Ollie Payne and some help from the frame of the goal kept the Dutch out and ensured the game ended level.
After the game, Dixon said: “It was a tough game, it’s always tough against the Dutch – they’re one of the best teams in the world for a reason. Going 2-0 down, it would have been easy to roll over and give up but that’s not what we’re about. That’s not what we’ve been working for across the last five years. It was great to see the reaction that we gave.
“Had it been another day, had we had a few more minutes left on the clock we might have pipped them. I honestly sense that we’re still getting stronger as a team; we weren’t flagging in the last stages of the game. We’ll have to go well against Belgium but I think we’re well up for the challenge and off the back of today’s performance we’re absolutely buzzing and can’t wait to get going.”
Great Britain’s final group game sees them take on Belgium at 13:15 BST on Friday 30 July.
Starting XI: Ames, Shipperley, Griffiths, Ward, Roper, Dixon (C), Creed, Payne (GK), Waller, Sorsby, Wallace
Subs: Draper, Sloan, Ansell, Gall, Sanford