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  1. ITV Report

Region's hockey stars shine

Great Britain players celebrate beating Argentina during the third day of the London 2012 Olympics. Photo: Stephen Pond/PA Wire

The Meridian region's hockey stars shined last night in another big win for the Great Britain squad - in a fiesty encounter with Argentina.

GB coach Jason Lee and his Argentina counterpart Pablo Lombi both dismissed suggestions the hosts' 4-1 win had been anything other than fiercely contested.

Two strikes from captain Barry Middleton were followed by a neat one-two between Dan Fox and the influential Ashley Jackson, from Tunbridge Wells, that led to Fox's first international goal.

Richard Smith, from Portsmouth, then converted a penalty corner before Pedro Ibarra pulled one back.

The encounter had been billed a grudge match by certain sections of the media in reference to May's controversial political video which showed Argentina international Fernando Zylberberg, not selected for the Olympics, running on the Falklands War Memorial.

And while there were three sin-binnings, two for the South Americans and one for GB's Matt Daly, and some dubious tackling and disruptive play coaches and players alike rejected claims of any unsavoury undercurrent.

"There is no-one in world hockey who does not play with dignity and a desire to win and that is what you saw today, nothing more than that," said Lee.

"I hope the biggest motivation was that if they didn't play right I was going to rip their heads off, that is the bottom line.

"If they don't run hard enough they get me shouting at them and that is the sport we are in.

"The top line is they play hockey for the love of it and they have a great opportunity which I hope they seize over the next two weeks which will stay with them for the rest of their lives."

Great Britain's Ashley Jackson in action against Argentina's Pedro Ibarra. Credit: Stephen Pond/PA Wire

Middleton agreed, saying the players were only focused on getting off to a good start.

"This game for us was always about the sporting element," he said.

"We have never gone into any game against Argentina with anything other than hockey on our minds.

"There was some needle in the game but that is because this is an Olympic Games - if you didn't see that I don't think we'd be putting in our all out there.

"We've put two years of our lives on hold to do this and I think that showed - and the Argentinian guys are the same.

"It is a battle, it is hard, but no-one stepped over the line.

"There were some big tackles but everything was within the laws of the game."

Disappointed Argentina coach Lombi stressed it was "only a hockey match" while captain Matias Vila added: "I think it was very clear this is just sport. We don't mix it with any other things."

On the performance itself, which at times was scrappy but also included brilliant passages of play - like the quick move downfield for Fox's goal - Lee was more than satisfied.

"They beat us in Malaysia in May but I thought we played very well tonight," added the coach.

"I think we got a lot better as we had a nervy 10 minutes and we were a little bit sloppy in the last 15 but we had enough about us to take the game away from Argentina."