London 2012: Jackson double spares GB blushes
Team GB 2 South Africa 2
Ashley Jackson fired a spectacular equaliser with two minutes remaining to maintain Team GB’s unbeaten start to their Group A campaign.
However, the late goal simply papered over the cracks of a lacklustre performance that will leave head coach Jason Lee sweating on Team GB’s hopes of reaching the semi-finals with sterner tests still to come.
A strong, mazy run from Jackson on 12 minutes created the opening goal after the save from his shot flew into the air and earned GB a penalty corner.
And subsequently Jackson fired into the back of the net with powerful slingshot from just inside the D.
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Goalmouth action was limited in the first half though, with GB happy to sit back and soak up the pressure, as South Africa looked to dictate the tempo on a humid afternoon inside the Riverbank Arena.
The closest either side came to affecting the score in a lacklustre first half followed a push on Surbiton midfielder Rob Moore on 27 minutes, gifting GB another penalty corner with meek South African protests falling on deaf ears.
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Again it was Jackson the recipient from the dead ball, but his shot was superbly pushed over by keeper Erasmus Pieterse.
After the restart, Thornton McDade flicked wide from close range as South Africa got their first clear sight of goal.
With both defences on top, the second half offered little to inspire the crowd until the action sparked into life with 11 minutes remaining as South Africa forced a penalty corner and with it a golden opportunity to level.
Austin Smith duly obliged, firing the equaliser past keeper James Fair – a spectator for much of the match.
Then with seven minutes to go the visitors shocked the home crowd when Jonathan Robinson cut in from the left and fired low past Fair.
GB were staring defeat in the face, which would have dearly disrupted their chance to progress.
Such was their desperation to level Lee opted to bring off keeper Fair for an outfield player with three minutes left on the clock.
And within seconds Jackson got GB out of jail and rescued a valuable point with a superb long-range effort to equalise.
A heart-stopping few moments ensued as South Africa appealed against the award, but the video referee gave the home side the thumbs up.
GB earned a penalty corner with the final play of the game to set up a grandstand finish.
But Jackson fired agonisingly over the top.
At full-time the home crowd stood to applaud their new heroes. But Lee will be banking on vast improvements when Team GB meet Pakistan at 4pm on Friday.