Euro Hockey League
Pool D: Banbridge 0 WKS Grunwald Poznan 6 (P Bratkowski 2PC, D Kotulski FG, M Poltaszewski FG)
The “double-goal” introduced for the Euro Hockey League added a harsher look to an already inflated scoreline as they fell 6-0 to Poland’s WKS Grunwald Poznan in their opening game in Barcelona.
It was a tie in which Bann probably created more than double the clear-cut opportunities but were caught cold from a couple of counter-attacks with three added to the scoreline in the closing four minutes.
The result means Mark Tumilty’s side are out of the KO16 running barring a five-goal win over Royal Racing Club de Bruxelles on Sunday, a highly unlikely prospect given their 6-2 win over Poznan on Friday.
In the early stages, the two sides had corner chances but neither converted in a tight, physical battle with Gareth Lennox brilliantly saving one while Philip Brown pushed his corner wide. He was flicking in the absence of the injured Eugene Magee along with Johnny McKee, blunting their forward line.
Bann went the closest to scoring 22 minutes in when Matthew Allister had a chance but a light flick of a foot bounced the ball just out of his reach. The follow-up corner also went awry.
Within a minute, Grunwald had the lead as they won another corner which Pawel Bratkowski dragged in to the right corner for the only score of the first half from a borderline corner decision, 1-0. Soon after, Bruce McCandless was shown yellow as Bann felt the decisions were going against them at each turn.
Bann handled that absence well enough but Grunwald tripled their total early in the second half. Dominik Kotulski controlled a long overhead pass and dropped the ball back for Michal Poltaszewski, arriving late, and he cracked home a rising shot for 3-0 due to field goals counting double.
During that phase, Bann had more than enough openings to reel in the gap as the Poles sat deep and attempted to launch aerial bombs to relieve pressure. Neil Gilmore had a reverse tipped out of his swing while Allister missed another close range chance.
Owen Magee fired two reverses at goal with the latter stinging the palms of the goalkeeper as did Gilmore with a powerful shot.
And then came the sucker-punch with four minutes left via Kotulski, finishing off another counter-attack move. Out on their feet, Bratkowski closed out the success with a second penalty corner, moving them ahead of Racing Club de Bruxelles on goal difference. Bann play Racing on Sunday at