Belgium were ruthless in front of goal, taking advantage of any mistakes in our back line and showing the quality that gave them a first Men’s Hockey World Cup at the back end of last year. Britain had their moments but the visitors were excellent at both ends of the pitch; decisive in attack and Vincent Vanasch top class in the Red Lions’ goal.
While of course the home crowd wanted Britain to win, they cannot fail to have been impressed by a side that includes the current FIH world player, goalkeeper and young player of the year.
For Britain, they reflect on two games against Argentina and Belgium this weekend in which they performed well in considerable spells but ultimately weren’t able to convert possession into the goals they craved.
It was another top class weekend of international hockey in the capital, and next up for Danny Kerry’s side is the reverse fixture as we travel to Antwerp on 30 May.
Britain had the first noteworthy attempt, Phil Roper played into space by Alan Forsyth, forcing Vincent Vanasch into a stop at his near post. It was Belgium though who took the lead, Florent van Aubel smashing home after Tom Boon pinched the ball from Tom Sorsby – something of a tough ask for our Surbiton youngster Sorsby as he was making his second international appearance compared to Boon’s 272nd.
In the second period Cedric Charlier almost produced a stunning touch to beat Harry Gibson but it went narrowly wide. Britain also showed skill down the left side; Rhys Smith gliding past a couple of players before Forsyth’s effort was denied.
In a good spell for the home side, Will Calnan crashed in an excellent effort on the reverse but Vanasch was well placed to block, before Calnan again went close but saw his hit go just wide. It was a game of top class hockey, and Boon then forced Gibson into a save down the other end five minutes before half time. Moments later he should have scored but dragged just wide from close range.
Into the second half and Britain produced a nice move that was ended by a green card for a Belgian defender, before George Pinner produced a good save after magnificent skill from Victor Wegnez in the build-up. And soon it was 2-0, John-John Dohmen beating Pinner from a penalty corner after he made the initial save.
Belgium were ruthlessly punishing Britain for any slips, and when pinching possession on the edge of our box, captain Thomas Briels was on hand to turn home from close range after Pinner saved the first shot. Britain did not go into their shells though, Roper forcing Vanasch into another stop near the end of the third quarter.
With the visitors three to the good, Danny Kerry went for broke and removed goalkeeper Pinner, but Belgium were able to capitalise as Dohmen added his second and his country’s fourth.
Britain searched for a consolation in the final moments, but Vanasch made a top class save from Phil Roper’s corner and that proved to be the final action.
Great Britain 0
van Aubel (13′, FG)
Dohmen (38′, PC), (56′ FG)
Briels (43′, FG)