Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

Beijing Olympics 2008

News from Beijing

19 August 2008

Middleton scores in draw against reigning champs

Loughborough student Barry Middleton scored in Team GB’s impressive 3-3 draw with world number ones and reigning Olympic Champions Australia in their final pool match of the 2008 Olympic Games.

Middleton put Great Britain ahead just before half-time, but Australia’s captain Bevan George levelled the scores five minutes after the interval. Jamie Dwyer put the Aussie’s 2-1 up before Richard Mantell pulled Team GB back to 2-2. Rob Moore regained Britain’s advantage, but Eddie Ockenden netted with just two minutes left on the clock to prevent Britain recording their first victory over Australia for twenty years.

Team GB will now play Korea (world number five) in the fifth-sixth place classification match. As the eighth ranked side in the world upon entering the competition, a top six finish will mark a successful campaign for the British team. It also guarantees them a place in the next edition of the elite six nation Champions Trophy tournament for the first time since 2000. Following their fifth placed finish at the 2006 World Cup, Great Britain’s men’s hockey squad is certainly showing solid progress towards challenging the top hockey nations in the world for a medal at London 2012.

Team GB began tonight’s game by absorbing a period of early pressure before Great Britain had a good chance to score in the 14th minute when a quickly taken powerful free hit by Richard Mantell was deflected by Matt Daly through the legs of a number of Australian defenders.

Australia earned the first of their two first-half penalty corners in the 19th minute and Britain, who had so far conceded only one penalty corner from eleven, kept up that impressive record when the shot went wide of the mark, but the ball had hit a defenders foot on the way out giving the Kookaburras a second bite of the cherry, but the attempt went wide again.

The ensuing play saw some very impressive defending and saw Team GB survive thanks to the quick thinking of Loughborough goalkeeper Alistair McGregor and captain Ben Hawes. Grant Schubert’s reverse stick shot was kept out by McGregor with the rebound attempt being cleared off the line by Hawes, but the ball was picked up again, this time by Fergus Kavanagh, and McGregor was again on hand to deny a further attempt from Australia before clearing it to safety.

In the 28th minute, Rob Moore won the ball just outside of the circle and passed to Loughborough’s Middleton, but he couldn’t quite get full control of the ball and was prevented from taking a shot by the approaching Stephen Lambert in the Australian goal.

Middleton, who was hard-working and impressive throughout, turned from defender to his more accustomed position of attacker within minutes and in the 33rd minute denied Australia at one end, before finding his way up the other end to put Britain a goal up a minute prior to half-time. Some good work from Matt Daly down the right saw him dance around three defenders before passing to James Tindall on his left, who quickly supplied Jonty Clarke near the back-line who in turn crossed to a waiting Middleton to direct the ball into the back of the net.

The Australians showed their intent early in the second half by winning three penalty corners in the opening four minutes. Hawes came out quickly for the first surprising the Australian attack, but when the ball hit his foot, another penalty corner was awarded. This time, a direct strike was turned away by McGregor. Their third set piece saw an interesting variation in which the ball came out to the top of the circle and was slipped left before David Guest took a shot which was saved, but captain Bevan George was on hand to convert for the equaliser.

Shortly after, the Kookaburras took the lead for the first time in the match when double World Player of the Year (2004 & 2007) and former World Young Player of the Year Jamie Dwyer finished well to put his side 2-1 up.

A minute later though, Team GB won their first penalty corner of the match and whilst Britain’s defensive record in this tournament is impressive, their scoring record from these set pieces is less so with only two converted out of nineteen. Richard Mantell’s shot was deflected wide, but another corner was awarded and this time Mantell’s made no mistake. His low drag flick straight down the centre of the goal gave Lambert little chance, making the score 2-2.

Team GB regained the lead after some good work from Hawes down the right ended with him crossing the ball into the circle from the back line. The ball came off Robert Hammond and fell to Moore who fired home to put Britain 3-2 up in the 55th minute.

In the closing stages of the match, Australia piled on the pressure. McGregor was in excellent form again with a point blank save in the 64th minute. Hawes then coolly cleared the ball off the line and the Kookaburras threatened again with a 66th minute penalty corner but it was turned away by Richard Mantell. Australian pressure finally told two minutes from time when a diving Grant Schubert crossed to Ockenden for an easy tap in to leave the final score in this entertaining encounter at 3-3.

Loughborough graduate and Team GB Head Coach Jason Lee summed up his feelings on Britain’s performances in the group stages after the match.

“I think we played equally well against the Netherlands, Pakistan and Australia,” he said. “In different ways, we had four-and-a-half good performances.

“Each game required different performances relative to our abilities as a team. We have had a good tournament, given our standard, so far. We will probably end up seventh in the world rankings after this, having been eleventh in 2006.”

Pinpointing areas for future improvement Lee said “I think we are technically weak, so that is always a target, as well as advancing both tactically and physically.”

Team GB’s fifth-sixth place classification match against Korea will take place on Saturday 23rd August at 11am local time.

Loughborough University - Beijing 2008

Beijing facts

There are 55 Loughborough athletes in action at the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Did you know?

Former Olympic Champion Sebastian Coe is a Loughborough graduate.

Useful links

Page maintained by: A.J.Overend@lboro.ac.uk