Barnett bonanza keeps GB on course for Masters final
A brilliant hat-trick from Gideon Barnett kept GB’s Masters team on course for their first-ever gold medal as they came from behind to rock Gibraltar 9-2.
In a must-win game for both teams, GB quickly found themselves two goals behind but they drew level during the first half courtesy of strikes from Barnett and an own goal.
One of the most-improved teams in the competition, Barnett put GB in front early in the second half, scoring at the second attempt for a tight angle.
Playing with great confidence, GB started to turn on the style with Paul Shamplina producing a Cryuff-esque turn and shot that was well saved by the keeper.
Adam Lustigman’s men started to dominate and rasping drive from Danny Schweiger smacked against the stanchion with the keeper only able to look on in admiration.
GB were in full flow by now as Hadley Silver was next to test the keeper but the inevitable fourth goal came through an excellent run and finish by Laurence Newman, who had celebrated his birthday the day before.
It was soon 5-2 as Mark Wagman played a sublime one-two with Silver before producing an unerring finish.
Max Radford was at the heart of the action, ending a counter-attack with a precision pass to Silver who smashed home.
Phil Caplin, the GB keeper, was kept on his toes and he made two fine saves including an unorthodox one with his head.
Barnett completed his hat-trick following a one-two with the impressive Ollie Olsen.
The goals continued to flow as Jamie Kaye picked out the pass of the match that was met by a brilliant first touch and finish by Olsen.
GB were enjoying themselves at this point and it was just like watching Brazil.
Max Radford joined the party. First he produced a top-class step-over before firing against the post. Had it not been for the woodwork, GB would have accumulated double figures as Kaye hit the same post, Radford cracked a shot against the bar from the half way line and Wagman was denied with the keeper well beaten.
Radford completed the rout with a stunning effort. He mounted a break before playing in Silver who in turn played the ball back to Radford who finished with a backheel flick that his namesake Ronnie would have been proud of.
“Our aim was to reach the final,” said GB manager Adam Lustigman after the match as the team awaited the outcome of the match between Germany and Spain. “Some of our players have only played football so this is an unbelievable achievement.
“We knew it wouldn’t go our way all the time today. It’s a long game and I told the boys that if they stayed patient and didn’t panic, our pace and fitness would prove decisive and that was certainly the case.
“I’m absolutely with all the boys. The players who have been a bit withdrawn on the pitch during the first couple of games came to the fore today and produced the type of performance we knew they could.”
The only negative for GB saw Schweiger shown a red card following two cautionable offences, the second for encroaching at a substitution, offences, but we understand that the team will appeal in a bid to remove a potential suspension from any possible final.
Lustigman said: “I’m absolutely gutted for Danny. The first yellow was very harsh and I hold up my hands for the second.
Reflecting on his strike, an emotional Mark Wagman said: “My first Maccabi goal is a moment I will remember for the rest of my life.”