London 2012 Olympic Games: Ashley Jackson goal helps GB through to historic semi as they seek to surpass 1988 heroes
Ashley Jackson in action
against Spain on Tuesday Pictures:
by Alex Hoad at the Riverbank
Ashley Jackson says his GB team are
seeking to do something ‘even more special’ than the historic
Olympic Gold medal won by the historic team of 1988.
West Malling star Jackson scored again
as GB earned the point they needed to secure their first semi-final
place since the storied 1988 side with a 1-1 draw against Spain at
the Riverbank Arena on Tuesday night.
GB now face the red-hot Dutch side,
winners of all five of their group games, and while 24-year-old
Jackson (pictured) admitted: "It’s going to be tough," he insisted:
"We believe we can beat anyone."
The former Tunbridge Wells
player took his tally to five goals in as many games at this
Olympics with another trademark penalty corner drag-flick three
minutes before half-time which put send the packed Arena wild and
put GB ahead.
However, not for the first time in
this campaign, GB allowed their opponents to seize the initiative
after taking the lead and ended up withstanding a barrage of
pressure late in the second half.
The Spaniards had already drawn level
from a penalty corner conversion of their own from Pau Quemada
before they laid siege to the GB goal in the closing 10 minutes,
with keeper James Fair having to make a string of fine saves.
A goal at that stage would have sent
Spain through to the last-four along with Group A winners
Australia, but with the help of two penalty corner awards in the
closing two minutes being over-ruled by the officials, GB clung on
to their precious point against a team they have not beaten in a
major tournament for 25 years.
Jackson (pictured celebrating his goal) said: "I’m
really proud of the guys to hang in there and dig hard and fight
for each other. It shows how we are as a team.
"Hopefully that showed through - the
belief we could still do it, rather than the nervy, edgy last few
minutes it might have looked like.
"We hung in there at the end. We’re
strong. It takes a lot to break us down. We’ve seen in those dogged
last few minutes that we stood together.
"We’re in the semi-final, that’s all
that matters. We’ve come through a tough group. It gives us
Next up are powerhouses the
Netherlands, who have reached six straight Olympic semi-finals and
won gold in Atlanta and Sydney, on Thursday.
Jackson said: "They have had all wins
from their group and whoever you play in the semi-final is going to
be tough, but we really do believe we can beat them. We believe we
can beat anyone in this tournament.
"They know not to take us lightly, but
let’s hope they do."
Jackson said the crowd played a part
in helping GB withstand the late pressure, saying: "We’ve seen it a
few times in this tournament, against South Africa, Australia and
again in the last few minutes tonight.
"Hopefully they turn out in numbers
again and really make the difference."
Asked for the umpteenth time these
Games about the 1988 gold-winning team, inspired by Canterbury
legend Sean Kerly who scored a hat-trick in the semi-final in
Seoul, Jackson said: "They’re part of history and you can’t take
anything away from them.
"We’re trying to do something more
special. We’ve got 18 world class players. To do it as a group and
as a team and not necessarily have anyone stand out as the only
player that won them that tournament, it would be very special to
share it with these guys."
Jackson also revealed the hockey side
were able to draw inspiration from the Team GB gold rush of the
last few days.
He said: "It’s been unbelievable,
watching it. People think we’re under pressure but Jessica Ennis
was the face of these Games, look at what she had to go
" It makes you think ‘our job’s easy’
- it takes a bit of weight of our shoulders – but to see the looks
on their faces and what they’ve achieved... you definitely want to
be a part of it."
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