Belgium go top of the table as Roper looks for positives.

Great Britain’s Phil Roper was keen to look at the positives in the wake of his side’s 4-0 defeat by Belgium in the FIH Pro League. Goals from Florent van Aubel, Thomas Briels and two for John-John Dohmen steered Belgium to a comfortable win and to the top of the Pro League table.

As with the defeat the day before, it was Great Britain’s failure to convert their chances which was the main regret as Roper explained:

“It feels like not converting our chances is the difference, to be honest. Early on in the Pro League we were scoring lots of goals and taking our chances. It feels like we need to have a little look back and see what we were doing well then. We still have a lot of positives, we’re creating the chances it’d be more worrying if we weren’t creating those chances.”

Great Britain v Belgium (RR)

Credit: Frank Uijlenbroek

Danny Kerry’s side managed 15 circle entries, seven shots and two penalty corners without finding the net but despite the disappointment of the defeat, Roper also stressed the quality of the opposition:

“We definitely could have played better but you have to give credit to Belgium. They aren’t the world champions for no reason. They pressed us really well and won a lot of ball off us and they were very clinical. We’ve got to look at our circle play; we created some really good chances which we didn’t convert. We’ll go away, have a decent week’s training and then go on the road to Holland and Belgium for some more tough games which we can hopefully get something out of.”

Van Aubel’s opener was a good case in point with regards the intensity of Belgium’s press. Tom Boon nicked the ball high up the pitch and fed his team mate who made no mistake, slotting past Harry Gibson from close range.

Great Britain tested the reflexes of Vincent Vanasch in the Belgian goal but he was equal to the task, blocking a fierce upright reverse shot from Ian Sloan and making a superb save from a pile driver from Roper.

Dohmen – back in the side for his 369th cap after a six month lay-off due to injury, slotted in Belgium’s second from a penalty corner rebound and then Briels made it 3-0 after another turnover high up the pitch. Goalkeeper George Pinner saved brilliantly from the initial shot but Briels reacted quickest to nudge the ball home.

Dohmen added a fourth, bundling home from close range after GB had removed their goalkeeper to push for goals and despite Ward drawing a fine save from Vanasch in the dying moments, the world champions closed out the game to go top of the table.

“Having two such big challenges in a weekend is great. It’s great to have such amazing support at home and hopefully next time we can get a win for them.”

“We know what to expect from the upcoming games. Again, Belgium will be fierce and clinical so we’re looking forward to that. Everyone knows what Holland are like but we’ve been really good on the road this year so hopefully we can carry that on.”

About thetopofthed

Columnist for The Hockey Paper and the man behind The Top of the D. Writer, podcaster, goalkeeper and BBC Sport man. Used to work for Great Britain Hockey and have covered the sport at every major tournament.
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