London [UK], May 27 (ANI): Hosts Great Britain replaced India on the top of the pool table with a fine 4-2 victory in the FIH Hockey Pro League encounter here at the Lee Valley Hockey Stadium in London on Saturday.
It was goals by Timothy Nurse (7'), Thomas Sorsby (32), Lee Morton (34') and Nicholas Bandurak (54') that saw the home team through while India Captain Harmanpreet Singh (14', 43') scored a double to become the all-time best goal scorer in the FIH Pro League with 35 goals.
Backed by a boisterous home crowd, Great Britain got off to a roaring start with a lethal attack trying to push India on the backfoot right from the word go. Though India warded off an early shot on goal, a lapse in defence allowed newcomer Timothy Nurse to score a fine goal. Nurse did well to pick up a good assist and score his first international goal, driving into the left flank and putting the ball past India's Krishan Pathak.
Though Great Britain's 7th-minute goal put India under the pump, the visitors made an aggressive comeback when Mandeep Singh earned a penalty corner. In good nick, with 11 goals so far in the League, Harmanpreet used a powerful drag-flick to find the corner of the post beating GB's goalie James Mazarelo with ease. The 14th-minute goal put India in good stead for the next quarter as they tested the hosts' defence, finding ways to create PCs. Though they created three good PC opportunities, they could not convert the chances.
Adding to the team's woes, a good referral by GB in the 28th minute denied India a lead as it was ruled that the goal came off the back stick.
With seconds left for half-time, India conceded a penalty stroke while attempting to tackle the GB attacker in the top of the D from taking a shot on goal. Guarding India's post, experienced goalie PR Sreejesh was impeccable in his effort to stop Zachary Wallace from scoring off the stroke.
But it did not take long for the home team to gain a comfortable lead in the match. Returning from the half-time break with the score at a 1-1 stalemate, GB changed gears as they produced some insatiable attacks to score back-to-back goals. It was Thomas Sorsby who scored in the 32nd minute through a PC followed by a field goal in the 34th minute by Lee Mortan, putting GB ahead by 3-1.
With under 2 minutes to go for the third hooter, India was awarded a flurry of PCs. Not letting this golden opportunity go wasted, Harmanpreet executed a perfect flick to earn India a much-needed breakthrough to narrow down the lead to 2-3. This was not only Harmanpreet's second goal of the match, but with this goal, he also became the all-time best goal scorer in Pro League with 35 goals and also retained the top spot as the leading goal scorer in this edition of the League with 13 goals.
As the contest went into the last quarter, the two teams lived up to the billing, producing some nervy moments. Only 90 seconds into the quarter, GB won a PC but experienced Sreejesh was undeterred in his effort to pad the ball away.
Continuing to put pressure on the Indian defence, GB came up with a well-executed attack that fetched them a splendid field goal in the 54th minute. It was Nicholas Bandurak who scored for GB, taking their lead to 4-2. Though India created some scoring chances, through Abishek in the following minutes, they could not find success. A PC opportunity, with less than two minutes left for the final hooter, brought some hope to Indian fans. But it was cleared off by GB's PC defender Sorsby, thus ensuring GB three points from the win.
Expressing his thoughts about today's match, India Captain Harmanpreet Singh said as quoted by a Hockey India press release, "We played better than yesterday, we had better control in our structure. I think there is room for us to improve in our defence. They scored two goals from the baseline, that is something we must watch out for and get better at defending."Speaking of his own achievement as the all-time best goal scorer of the League, he said, "I am able to score because my team is able to create penalty corners, so this is a collective effort."India will next take on Belgium on June 2, 2023. (ANI)