Smith, Robinson score but Great Britain sneak a draw | SASCOC - SASCOC

Smith, Robinson score but Great Britain sneak a draw

By Mark Etheridge
in London

A penalty corner strike by captain Austin Smith and a field goal by Jonty Robinson with less than 10 minutes to play saw South Africa go ahead 2-1 in their Olympic Games preliminary stage men’s hockey game at the Riverbank Arena on Wednesday.

But with three minutes to play a hotly disputed goal by Ashley Jackson, his second of the match, saw the hosts draw level and a brave save by goalkeeper Rassie  Pieterse in the final second kept South Africa level.

British captain Barry Middleton had the first real chance in the fifth minute when he found himself unmarked with only Pieterse to beat but his lobbed strike went high and left of the SA goal.

South Africa’s first chance came just before the 10-minute mark through Lloyd Norris-Jones who broke down the centre-left channel before whipping a reverse-stick shot harmlessly across ‘keeper James Fair.

First penalty corner of the game came in the 13th minute and it was Jackson, at just 1.55 metres, the shortest player in the GB team, who sent a shot high into the SA goal to lead 1-0.

A second penalty went the hosts’ way in the 28th minute after a foul and once again it was Jackson who was the go-to man but on this occasion he blasted way over the crossbar.

With just under five minutes to the half-time hooter Wade Paton did some good work down the right to get within sniffing distance of the GB goal but the defence stood firm.

South Africa once again went close in the dying seconds but were unable to convert and went into the change-room trailing by that Jackson goal.

The second half started off much like the first with the SA side often pinned in their last quarter and forced to swap horizontal passes and unable to work their way up the field.

Six minutes into the half Andrew Cronje, who celebrated his 100th Test against Australia, was green-carded for a foul and had to sit out for two minutes.

Then Lloyd Norris-Jones went close for South Africa but Fair was up to the task of clearing.

Eleven minutes into the half some impressive build up by the South Africans saw Justin Reid-Ross get a cross in from the right but Thornton McDade could only deflect it narrowly wide of goal.

With 11 minutes to go and GB’s Jonty Clarke was green-carded and sent off for two minutes.

South Africa then got their first penalty corner of the match with 10 minutes to go and Smith made no mistake and levelled the scores.

Just four minutes later Robinson found himself with a bit of space on the edge of the D and rifled a cracker of a shot into the backboard.

And then it was Jackson’s second goal that finally saw things end level and probably a pretty fair reflection of a match that had seen Team GB dominate the attacks by and large.