Captain Eddie Way ensured that the Great Britain Men’s U21 side opened their 2018 Sultan of Johor Cup campaign with victory over New Zealand.
Last year’s silver medalists raced into a two goal lead by the 12th minute courtesy of Matthew Ramshaw and Cameron Golden, but were pegged back by stunning goals from Maks Wyndham-Smith and Sam Lane.
But Way – one of ten players in the team who featured last year – converted a penalty corner early in the second half, a moment that was to prove decisive.
It only took four minutes for Jon Bleby’s side to take the lead as Ramshaw expertly deflected Way’s crashed ball past the New Zealand goalkeeper Matthew van Aardt.
Jack Turner then saw a shot smothered and Jacob Draper fired over the bar before Ramshaw was fouled in the circle, with Golden sending van Aardt the wrong way from the resulting stroke to ensure his side ended the first quarter two goals ahead.
James Oates had two efforts well saved by van Aardt before New Zealand equalised from seemingly nowhere as a flying Wyndham-Smith diverted Kalyam Jerem’s wicked pass beyond James Mazarelo in the 23rd minute.
A flurry of chances for Great Britain followed before half-time but they couldn’t find a third goal and were duly punished three minutes into the second half as Lane’s stunning tomahawk gave Ollie Payne no chance.
But rather than let their heads fall, Way and his team-mates continued to press and it was the captain himself who restored their lead in the 35th minute as his drag flick snuck underneath Louis Beckert.
The same player then came agonisingly close to adding a fourth in the 55th minute but his penalty corner effort this time flashed the wrong side of the post.
Their opponents never gave up though and forced two penalty corners in the final minute but Great Britain held firm, with Way brilliantly charging down the first while the second went wide.
Next up for Bleby and his team is Japan at 09:05 tomorrow morning.
Starting XI: Payne (GK), Nurse, Draper, Oates, Turner, Griffiths, Ramshaw, Park, Way (C), Mackenzie, Scott
Subs: Mazarelo (GK), Buckle, West, Crowson, Russell, Golden, Rushmere