London 2012: Capital’s trio powerless to prevent bruising defeat
19:43 29 July 2012
Team GB 4 Romania 13
Enfield’s Jack Waller got his name on the scoresheet, but his goal proved scant consolation as Team GB suffered a heavy Group B defeat to Romania in the Water Polo Arena.
Despite the backing of a vociferous home crowd, the inexperienced British side – which included three Londoners with Sean King and Matthew Holland in the squad alongside Waller – were simply outclassed.
Romania picked off their opponents at will and GB struggled to make the most of rare power play scoring opportunities.
Post-match stats showed 32 shots apiece for the two teams, but a nine-goal margin of victory was fully indicative of the pattern of the match.
Former Beckenham player King won the opening swim off as Team GB made a positive start to their first Olympic water polo outing for 56 years.
But, after two missed opportunities for the hosts, Romania opened the scoring through Alex Matei who capitalised on a power play with Joe O’Regan penalised and forced to serve a 20-second penalty.
Romania doubled their advantage through Tiberiu Negrean towards the end of the first period.
But GB found a way back into the match after Adam Schofield was fouled in front of goal and captain Craig Figes made no mistake with a penalty to halve the deficit.
In the second period Romania took a stranglehold on the game, netting four times without reply to give GB a mountain to climb.
Romanian skipper Cosmin Radu – who Waller confesses is his role model – powered his way forwards in typical bullish fashion to score from close range and a stunning fourth from Nicolae Diaconu soon followed.
Romania’s only downfall appeared to be an occasional lack of discipline as, for the second time in the match, they conceded a penalty, but Figes missed the chance to give his team a lifeline.
A quick-fire double before half-time from Diaconu and Ramiro Georgescu silenced the home crowd, as the GB players lack of big match experience began to tell.
The now familiar chant of ‘GB’ (clap, clap) began to echo around the Water Polo Arena as the third period began with the hosts just about treading water.
But their resistance lasted little more than three minutes as Dimitri Goanta’s delicate shot flew in off the frame of the goal.
Diaconu completed his hat-trick with Romania’s eighth goal soon afterwards, before Negrean flicked in his second of the match.
The GB crowd finally found something to cheer about when Rob Parker netted twice in as many minutes – both fine finishes – to restore some respectability to the score.
In the final quarter, Andrei Iosep brought up double figures, before the classy Diaconu scored his fourth and Romania’s 11th goal of the match.
Alexandru Ghiban fired over the top of hapless keeper Ed Scott, before Radu added unlucky goal number 13.
The final say went to Waller who pulled a goal back, but GB’s qualification hopes now look extremely slim with four tough tests still to come.