9:40am Thursday 25th July 2013
By Ashley Loveridge
SHORTWOOD duo Jake Parrott and James Baldwin tasted life-changing experiences after scooping silver for Great Britain at the World University Games in Russia.
Britain were looking to emulate their female team-mates by going all the way and winning the tournament but fell short in dramatic style, going down 3-2 to France after extra-time.
Two-goal hero Michael Rae forced the additional period when he levelled the score at 2-2 in the third minute of injury time at the end of the regulation 90. But after Shortwood captain Parrott was dismissed for a second bookable offence in the first half of extra-time, British hopes were dashed when Fanch Weyders struck the winner with just seven minutes remaining.
France had taken an early lead through Florian Sotoca before former Forest Green player Jack Winter's own goal just after the break put them two up. Rae pounced on 68 minutes to begin Britain's fightback before he added his second right at the death, only for his efforts to be in vain.
However, midfielder Baldwin, 24, who had a brief spell under Forest Green boss David Hockaday, insists his personal highlight was the sem-final against Russian team worth £12m and watched by national boss Fabio Capello in the Rubin Stadium.
He said: "Although the final was amazing and had quite a bit of drama with the missed penalty, coming back from 2-0 down and a red card, the footballing highlight has to be the semi-final against Russia.
"Playing in front of a 15,000 capacity crowd being watched by Fabio Capello, and coming up against eight U21 internationals and one full international was incredible."
The match was certainly a thriller for a Great Britain side, which included former Forest Green captain Luke Graham.
Baldwin added: "Being down to 10 men for an hour, conceding to go 1-0 down and having everyone in the stadium and millions watching on Russian TV against us only to snatch a late equaliser and to be one of the few British teams to win a penalty shoot out in a world tournament, is by far the best feeling.
"The whole event was amazing and the closing ceremony featured a stadium packed full of 50,000 supporters."
Shoprtwood captain Parrott, a former Cheltenham Town trainee, hopes the trip will kick-start his footballing career.
He said: " The trip has improved me as both a player and person. Living like an international athlete for nearly a month was something I really enjoyed. "It was difficult to adapt to the international style of play, but has definitely improved me as a player.
"The coaching team of James Ellis and former Cheltenham Town and Forest Green striker Steve Guinan have already said I am in the frame for Korea in two years' time, so that's something to focus on.
" I am looking forward to the season at Shortwood and my final year at Hartpury College and then potentially looking to kick my career on if the right opportunity arises."
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