David Goodfield scored a brace as Great Britain enthralled fans to defeat World champions Australia 4-3 in the final of the 26th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup to lift the title for the second time in 23 years.
Great Britain, placed 7th in the FIH World Rankings, mesmerised World No 2 Australia with an attacking game in the first quarter, not giving the Kookaburras room to orchestrate and in the process charted their own progress towards the coveted trophy.
And the Britons, playing in only their fourth Sultan Azlan Shah Cup since winning the gold medal the last time in 1994 and bronze medals in 1987 and 2011, were in dramatic form in this epic final in front of an estimated 3,000 fans including the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah Al-Maghfur-lah and invited dignitaries.
Alan Forsyth breaks the deadlock for Great Britain in the 8th minute with a field goal beyond the reach of goalkeeper Andrew Charter and David Goodfield plugged in the second via a penalty corner three minutes later.
The Australians, who won 2-1 against the Britons in the group stage earlier, picked up five penalty corners in total but could not find the space to close the gap until a 28th minute Eddie Ockenden goal from open play brought great relief to the world champions – eying their 10th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup title since 1983. The second quarter, however, ended with the Britons leading 2-1.
There was more to come from the Britons and Australians in the third quarter and the fans loved every part of it. In a sudden move, Great Britain went 3-1 up in the 33rd minute with a Ollie Willars strike but the Kookaburras were back on track to close the gap in the very next minute.
Dylan Wotherspoon weaves his way into Britain’s penalty circle, relays a perfect pass to Joshua Pollard who strikes with a clinical touch to go 3-2.
However, in one of the most enthralling matches fans here had seen in the last six days of top action, Great Britain clawed their more illustrious opponents with the fourth goal in the 43rd minute through Goodfield’s double of the night and third in the tournament.
The fourth quarter was evenly contested as both sides had a fair share of ball possession before Australia closed in 4-3 from a Wotherspoon goal in 48th minute. The match progressed at a fast pace in the last seven minutes of play and at the final hooter, it was Great Britain that won the accolades to lift the title once again after a lapse of 23 years.
WHAT THE COACHES SAID
Bobby Crutchley (England Head Coach)
It was just a fantastic win for us tonight. I could not have asked for a better deal that this as we head towards the World League Semi-finals in June. I think the turning point was who is going to score first after we took the 2-1 lead.
That would make a lot of difference and we took our chances very well. Unlike the group match, we struck to our plans today and the players were motivated to change things around.
The last three minutes of play have been nervy experience as we did not get a penalty corner and Australia was pressing on. It could have been a nail-biting moment had the score been equal.
In the last four to five weeks we had increased our work rate for the Azlan Shah Cup as we faced top rated teams. Tonight was just a memorable win and great day for Great Britain.
Colin Batch (Australia Head Coach)
We created enough chances against Great Britain and had a couple of penalty corners. GB played a good game today, so did we. They plucked the goals early and we were not far behind in chasing those goals. I am a little disappointed but we will look into this and get back.