Great Britain’s U21 Men’s squad suffered their first defeat of the 2018 Sultan of Johor Cup as they fell short against Japan.
Stuart Rushmere’s goal, coming in slightly strange circumstances as Japan thought the half-time hooter had gone, had given his side hope.
That came after they fell behind to strikes from Yosuke Takahashi and Japan’s captain Raiki Fujishima.
There was plenty of attacking intent in the second half from Jon Bleby’s side, with Nick Park hitting the post, but they weren’t able to find the equaliser.
After beating reigning champions Australia with a last minute goal yesterday, Japan started on the front foot as Wataru Matsumoto forced Ollie Payne into a save after just 25 seconds.
However it took them until the 10th minute to open the scoring as Kosei Kawabe fooled two defenders with a brilliant turn in the circle before Takahashi lifted the ball over Payne.
Cameron Golden had Britain’s best chance of the first quarter, his shot flashing across the face of goal, while Gareth Griffiths had two chances in a minute during the second quarter but couldn’t score.
Fujishima then tucked a penalty stroke underneath James Mazarelo to double Japan’s lead in the 29th minute but Rushmere struck in bizarre circumstances moments later as Takumi Kitagawa celebrated stopping Eddie Way’s corner flick, not realising the ball was still alive, allowing the forward to score.
Golden then almost provided a sensational assist in the 35th minute, crossing the ball through his legs with his back to goal, but a diving Park could only find the woodwork, while at the other end Payne produced another save to keep out Ryota Takigami shortly after.
The Durham University ‘keeper was called into action once again just before the end of the quarter to keep out Matsumoto once again after a great run down the right by Kazuki Yoneda.
Way then came close from another corner but Yuri Arnould kept his effort out down low to his right and, despite employing a kicking back late on and having plenty of circle penetrations, GB just couldn’t break through a solid Japanese defence.
Next up for Great Britain is defending champions Australia on Tuesday 9 October at 09:05.
Starting XI: Payne (GK), Nurse, Draper, Oates, Turner, Griffiths, Ramshaw, Park, Way (C), Mackenzie, Scott
Subs: Mazarelo (GK), Buckle, West, Crowson, Russell, Golden, Rushmere
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