GB Blind squad draw opener
by Matt Phillips
Paralympics GB 1-1 Spain
3.30pm, Friday 31 August
Paralympic torch bearer, David Clarke, scored his 127th international career goal as ParalympicsGB took a point against Spain at the Riverbank Arena complex this afternoon.
The 41-year-old had been bouyant after helping to ignite the Paralympic cauldron at the opening ceremony on Wednesday and it was a superb solo strike that ensured his side of a point against the 2010 World Cup runners up.
Clarke received the ball around the eight metre penalty mark on 22 minutes and turned the Spanish defence superbly before unleashing an unstoppable right foot shot that sailed past Alvaro in the Spanish goal.
Just three minutes earlier and it looked like ParalympicsGB's bow on home soil was going to take a turn for the worse when Spanish dangerman, Antonio Martin, converted from the six metre penalty mark after a foul on Marcelo in the penalty area.
Martin, who had won the Golden Boot at the 2010 World Cup in Hereford, hit a low right foot shot which GB keeper, Lewis Skyers, did well to partially block but he couldn't stop the ball from nestling in the side net.
Two minutes later and Martin could have doubled Spain's lead when ParalympicsGB committed their fourth foul of the half, resulting in an eight metre penalty. Again, Martin hit a strong right-footed shot but Skyers did well to palm the ball away to safety.
And Spain were left to rue their missed chance when David Clarke converted 60 seconds later to restore parity.
ParalympicsGB Head Coach Tony Larkin was pleased with the point but felt Spain were there for the taking.
He said: "I thought if we could score first then we could probably go on and win the game but we gave a silly foul away and they've converted the penalty.
"It was a great strike from David Clarke to get us back in it though and he took a bit of a battering today with a nose bleed and a couple
of blows to the head.
"The pitch is water based but it was a bit dryer than we'd expected. The wet conditions seem to suit to our style of play as we can zip the ball around quite quickly on our day but it seemed that the likes of David Clarke and Robin Williams were getting the ball caught under their feet a little bit."
The draw means that both ParalympicsGB and Spain are tied for second behind group leaders Argentina who sealed all three points in
a comfortable win over Iran earlier today.
Larkin added: "We've got Argentina on Sunday and they're similar to us in that they're beginning to start a transitional phase with younger players coming in for the old guard so it's another difficult game for us."