Great Britain midfielder Ashley Jackson inspired his side to a comfortable 4-1 victory over Pakistan with a performance befitting his stature as one of the world’s top players.
The 24-year-old was at the heart of the hosts’ play as they rediscovered their attacking flair, contributing two second-half goals to ensure there was no repeat of their late capitulation against South Africa.
Coach Jason Lee had criticised his players for their lacklustre approach in Wednesday’s 2-2 draw where they conceded two late goals and salvaged a point even later, but there was no repeat this time around.
It took only four minutes for them to make their mark when Jackson’s run into the right side of the circle allowed Jonty Clarke to cross and while the diving Iain McKay missed, James Tindall was on hand to convert.
Jackson had a penalty corner saved on the line by Rashid Mahmood and while Great Britain could not take advantage when Pakistan were briefly reduced to nine men – confusion reigning as they were apparently punished for having too many players on the field – they gave themselves a cushion just before the interval.
In a superb passage of play, Jackson picked out Nick Catlin in a similar position to where the first goal was created, and when he squared, Clarke had only to take a touch before slotting into an empty net.
Within a minute of the second half starting Pakistan won three successive penalty corners but goalkeeper James Fair stood up well to the threat of set-piece specialist Sohail Abbas.
The determination of the hosts not to concede was exemplified by Ben Hawes who dived head first to deflect over a rebound strike from the third effort.
Once GB were restored to 11 men, with Jackson’s sin-binning from late in the first half having been carried over, they could attack again and Glen Kirkham was only inches away from connecting with Matt Daly’s cross.
Tindall’s deflection on Hawes’s driven pass was turned behind by goalkeeper Imran Shah as GB continued to press for the crucial third goal.
Jackson’s excellence was eventually rewarded midway through the second half when his low penalty corner flick gave his side the cushion they needed and him his third goal in his last two matches.
The East Grinstead midfielder almost added a second when his shot, destined for the far corner of the goal, was tipped behind by Shah, but it duly arrived when he flicked another penalty corner – high this time – to make it 4-0.
Sohail maintained his ratio of a goal for every one of his appearances with a late corner of his own but the day belonged to Jackson, the poster boy of Great Britain hockey.