Great Britain’s men returned to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the scene of London 2012 for the first time to face Olympic Champions Germany in front of a full house.
Reigning world champions Germany narrowly edged out Great Britain 2-1 in the Nations Cup at the Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre on Tuesday evening.
A first half strike from Ali Brogdon was answered by second half goals from Germany’s Mats Grambusch and Christopher Wesley.
Maybe it was the excitement of being back at the Olympic Park in front of a sell-out home crowd again, or maybe it was exhaustion following the weekend’s hockey league play-off finals that was responsible for the defensive errors that ultimately cost GB the game.
The visitors started a calm, measured performance strongly, racking up four shots in the opening 15-minute quarter, two of those forcing saves from GB keeper, George Pinner.
The home side came out for the second quarter altogether more assertive and Sam Ward gave first sight of goal with an upright reverse shot that forced a save from German ‘keeper Nicolas Jacobi.
Moments later Jacobi was forced into action again but the ball pinged off his pads to Ali Brogdon who cleverly lobbed the ball into the net to open the scoring for GB.
Germany responded well, earning a penalty corner that was fired wide and later a fierce shot from Christopher Zeller dinged off the upright. And just before half-time Pinner gave Christopher Wesley’s shot a helping hand over the bar – where it was probably going anyway.
Early in the second half GB enjoyed some good spells of possession but Mark Gleghorne failed to convert from two penalty corners.
As the match wore on, GB seemed to play with unnecessary hurry, while conversely, their opponents stalked and probed with stereotypical poise and patience.
Germany won their second penalty corner in the third quarter and Jan Philip Rabente’s shot was not cleared well, allowing Mats Grambush to slot home an equaliser.
It got worse one-minute later when Henry Weir, one of the GB squad’s most improved young players, misplaced a square pass inside his own half. Wesley picked up the loose ball, drove into the circle seeing off the close attention of three GB players and finished passed Pinner, silencing the already quietened crowd.
Several more defensive errors followed into the final quarter but GB recovered well and their best chance to get back level came when Ashley Jackson – who, along with Iain Lewers had been afforded very little time on the ball – pushed forward, linking intuitively with Barry Middleton who fed Tom Carson, but the 180-degree spin-shot was cleared by Jacobi.
A last-gasp deflection from Chris Griffiths was narrowly wide and the game ran out, with GB’s age-old opponents winners once more.
Speaking after the game, Great Britain Head Coach Bobby Crutchley said: “It was a frustrating night I think.
“We defended well in the first quarter and started to play some good hockey, but unfortunately we gifted them a couple of goals with two basic errors and it was always going to be difficult to come back when you’re playing against a side like Germany.”
Speaking of his side’s victory, German Captain Tobias Hauke said: “I think that was a really tough game against GB, like always.
“Today we had a great atmosphere and it was good for us. It was our first time playing in this stadium and we are looking forward to coming back in August to play in the European Championships.”