Medal hopes dashed
by Matt Phillips
Paralympics GB 0-1 Iran
3.45pm, Tuesday 4 September
The Paralympics GB Blind Squad are out of medal contention after falling to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Iran.
The loss means GB finish bottom of Group A and face a classification play-off against China while Spain and Argentina head through to the Semi-Finals to play France and Brazil respectively.
Spain and Argentina had earlier drawn 0-0 leaving Tony Larkin's team needing to win by two clear goals to make the London 2012 medal matches.
But a rash start to the game saw GB give away three fouls within the first ten minutes meaning they were on tenterhooks for the rest of the half with Iran now eligible for an 8m penalty following every subsequent foul in the half.
The resulting 8m penalty soon came their way and Dan James did well to push Mohammad Heidari's shot clear.
But Iran broke the deadlock when they converted their second 8m kick after a foul from Darren Harris.
This time Shah Hosseini stepped up and his right foot shot zipped along the ground leaving Dan James in the GB goal rooted to the spot.
GB now needed three goals to qualify for the Semi-Finals and they were gifted an opportunity to get back in the game when Dan English was felled in the penalty area for a 6m kick.
GB skipper David Clarke stepped up but his straight shot was palmed away by Iran's tall keeper, Meysam Shojaeiyan.
Tony Larkin's team were now facing an uphill battle to get back in the game and a minute into the second half David Clarke almost had GB on level terms but he was denied by Shojaeiyan.
With Iran looking to preserve their lead, the foul count soon went up and GB eventually got their first 8m kick of the Paralympics when Clarke was dumped to the ground.
Dan English, playing with a broken nose following a head clash against Argentina, took the kick but saw his shot cannon agonisingly against the bar.
Less than 60 seconds later and Clarke against broke through the Iran defence but the lean figure of Shojaeiyan denied GB's record goalscorer.
With 12 minutes remaining, English had another 8m shot opportunity but this time Shojaeiyan pulled off a decent save to his right.
The Riverbank Arena thought Clarke had GB back on level terms when he ran across goal from a corner but Shojaeiyan tipped his left foot shot superbly around the post.
With just three minutes left, English has another chance from 8m after a foul on Clarke but Iran's keeper stood firm to deny the Wearsider and give his side all three points.
The defeat ends both GB and David Clarke's hopes for a Paralympic medal with the veteran striker hanging up his boots at the end of London 2012.
Like their Cerebral Palsy counterparts, GB must now enter the play-off classification phase to determine their overall tournament finish and will play China at 11am on Thursday.