SA men lose tight encounter
Santander - The South African men's hockey team lost a closely fought 5-3 unofficial Test to hosts Spain on Monday afternoon in the penultimate match of their European tour in Santander.
The South Africans were recovering from a narrow 6-5 loss to India on Sunday evening less than 24 hours earlier before they met Spain on the newly-laid blue turf in the coastal town.
Spain opened the scoring in the ninth minute after Pol Amat picked up a turn-over ball inside the SA half as he ran towards the South African area before slotting home past goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse.
SA attempted to come back after the restart with a well-worked attack as Rhett Halkett found striker Ian Haley, who got past his marker, but shot wide of goal.
Spain then took control of possession, regularly attacking the SA defence that managed to hold firm, with Pieterse making a fine save in the 13th minute to keep his side in the game.
He made another brave stop a minute later from a Spanish penalty corner (PC).
SA regrouped as they searched for an equalizer, which came in the 18th minute of the half following a PC through Julian Hykes.
Spain, however, took the lead again before the break through Pau Quemada from their third PC of the half.
SA did start the second half brightly as they dominated the opening exchanges.
Their pressure led to Clinton Panther scoring his first goal of the tour and the second equalising goal of the match after great vision from fullback Lloyd Madsen.
Pieterse, meanwhile, remained solid at the back as he was forced to pull off a diving save from Spain's fifth PC.
SA skipper Austin Smith's presence in the midfield allowed the visitors to find space and time, as Smith blazed his shot just wide of goal after a superb run through the middle.
Spain crept back into the lead in the 56th minute through Eduard Tubau before their celebrations were cut short as Tim Drummond levelled the scores again to 3-3.
Spain came back five minutes later and scored their fourth through Quemada for his second of the game from a sixth PC.
Tubau completed his brace a minute from time after good work from Roc Oliva as the home team secured the win.