BY LUCAS BALL
Wimbledon’s Liam Ansell scored twice as Great Britain’s men made it six points from six with a 3-1 victory over Canada in the early hours of Monday morning in Pool B of the Tokyo 2020 hockey tournament.
Ansell notched either side of a Sam Ward penalty corner goal to make it three in two in Tokyo for the 27-year-old.
Having opened their campaign by beating South Africa by the same scoreline, Danny Kerry’s side headed into their second match looking to win once more against weaker opposition before facing the likes of Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium later in the Pool.
The top four sides from each pool qualify for the quarter-finals, with six points likely to see Great Britain through.
They started brightly against Canada and had a number of good early chances.
Phil Roper, also formerly of Wimbledon, had a penalty corner effort stopped on the line before a great save denied Chris Griffiths from the rebound.
Roper unleashed another generous drag flick minutes later but could only find the crossbar as Kerry’s side looked to make their dominance pay.
Their second quarter display was less impressive but the sole chance came the way of Sam Ward, who joined Roper in hitting the frame of the goal with a powerful backhand strike.
Ward was involved once more as a lovely move down the right-hand side saw the ball fall his way inside the circle. As both defenders moved towards him, Ward expertly played the ball back to Ansell who finished calmly to finally give Great Britain the lead.
It was 2-0 minutes later when Ward, who has no central vision in one eye, scored his 77th international goal with a drag flick into the bottom corner.
A frenetic start to the final period gave Canada hope, however, and they made GB pay for their lapse defending when Floris Van Son fired past Holcombe’s Ollie Payne on the reverse to half the deficit.
A number of penalty corners were dealt with by Great Britain’s defence before a second goal from Ansell ensured victory.
Roper was heavily involved in driving Kerry’s side forward and shot across goal for Ansell to deflect home from close range.
There is plenty to improve on in terms of consistency and decision-making but Great Britain will be encouraged with two wins from two as they aim for a medal.
Great Britain’s women take on South Africa at 10:30am on Monday before the men face Germany at 4:15am on Tuesday.
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