Paralympic Games heartbreak for David Clarke

HARPENDEN’S David Clarke has admitted to being ‘devastated’ after his Team GB side were denied a place in the 5-a-side football semi-finals at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Iran inflicted a 1-0 defeat on the hosts on Tuesday, securing their first ever win at the Paralympics Games.

Great Britain needed to win by a two-goal margin to reach the final four but never looked likely to get ahead.

Ahmadreza Shah Hossein scored the penalty that won the Group A match, but Iran were indebted to goalkeeper Meysam Shojaeiyan for a number of saves in the second half.

Great Britain will rue missing four penalties that could have put them through, instead they finish bottom of the group.

And skipper Clarke, who missed one penalty in the encounter, has spoken of how disappointed the team are.

“We’re just devastated that we didn’t make an impact on the tournament. We didn’t start this game very well, we were too tentative and we’ve given three fouls away too early in the first half,” said the 41-year-old.

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“Anything after that and they’ve got an eight metre penalty which they scored from. We’ll stick together on this defeat because everyone feels destroyed, there’s been tears galore in that dressing room.

“We just couldn’t get it together in the first half and I don’t why. Everything we tried just didn’t work. We gave it a real good go in the second half but the ball just wouldn’t go in for us.

“The Iranian keeper did well, I thought at least one of my shots would go in. We had opportunities today, I missed the penalty from six metres as well. We had chances and we didn’t take them and that’s what hurts the most.”

Hossein Rajab Pour and Behzad Zadaliasghari ran the show for Iran in the first half, forcing British goalkeeper Dan James into a number of saves.

As in previous matches, Britain gave away too many fouls and conceded a penalty on 10 minutes that James saved from Mohammad Heidari.

But he could not stop the next penalty on 21 minutes, Shah Hossein shooting into a bottom corner.

Britain were given a lifeline before half-time when Amir Pourrazavi Haftdaran fouled Daniel English in the box but veteran skipper Clarke’s penalty was saved.

Outclassed in the first half, Britain put in an far better second-half display.

A foul on Clarke gave GB their second penalty, but Daniel English hit the bar from eight metres with the keeper beaten.

Clarke showed amazing skill to make space for a shot but Shojaeiyan turned past a post and then saved English’s next penalty that was aimed into a bottom corner.

Shojaeiyan saved again at full length from Clarke and then denied English from the penalty spot for a third time, this time diving to his left to save.