Hockey men held to frustrating draw

First published in Sport

A Great Britain men's hockey team featuring Winchester's Rob Moore escaped with a late draw against South Africa after it seemed they would pay dearly for not making the most of their early advantage.

Having taken the lead through Ashley Jackson's penalty corner, they were staring at a defeat two minutes from time only for the East Grinstead midfielder to pop up with the slightest of touches to equalise with his second of the match.

Even then it required a video review to ensure the 24-year-old had actually deflected in Richard Smith's driven cross.

While a point may be something of a disappointment against the lowest-ranked side in the tournament the fact they were able to snatch a draw - having briefly withdrawn goalkeeper James Fair in order to gain numerical outfield supremacy - was significant.

Captain Barry Middleton, on his 100th GB cap and 259th appearance overall, should have put away an early chance when he was played through by Rob Moore but he flicked wide.

Jackson made no mistake with a 14th-minute penalty corner, won by himself after a good run down the right.

Lloyd Norris-Jones missed a good opportunity to equalise but skewed wide while Jackson smashed a reverse-stick shot over from the top of the circle.

Jackson was in set-piece action again in the 28th minute when his flick was well tipped over by goalkeeper Erasmus Pieterse but that was really the last of the action until the match entered the final 10 minutes when South Africa produced a five-minute double which stunned GB.

From their first corner of the game captain Austin Smith planted a low flick inside Fair's left-hand post before Jonathan Robinson fired home from the top of the circle after the defence was slow to close him down.

Jackson deflected a Middleton cross wide before coach Jason Lee took off Fair and sent on Beeston defender Ali Wilson as kicking back.

Within seconds GB grabbed their equaliser as Richard Smith fired in a cross from the left and Jackson popped up in front of his marker to get the minutest of touches, so negligible it was almost indecipherable on the television replay, to give the departing Riverbank Arena crowd a finale - if not a match - to remember.

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