The New Zealand U21 side have fallen 2-0 to Great Britain in their first match of the 2019 Sultan of Johor Cup. The two sides were tied at the half time break as the New Zealand side played some outstanding hockey and put the Great Britain team under immense pressure through the first two quarters. Great Britain came out strong in the second half and made the most of the opportunities they created to seal an important win for their campaign.
The New Zealand U21 side started their match against the defending champions Great Britain in a positive fashion, early on in the match Sean Findlay was finding some great space in the midfield and was creating havoc for the Great Britain defence. Midway through the first quarter, Findlay found an open Tim Neild in the circle, Olivier Payne was up to the challenge in goal for Great Britain as he shut down the attack with some aggressive goalkeeping. With minutes to go in the first quarter, Moss Jackson was left open in the circle and played a great unselfish ball to the far post, unfortunately for New Zealand, the diving Dylan Thomas couldn’t get the touch into the goal. At the end of the first quarter, the two sides couldn’t be separated in what was a highly entertaining contest.
New Zealand continued playing well in the second quarter earning a penalty corner in the opening minute of the spell, Benji Edwards stepped up for the drag flick, the Great Britain defence just managed to stop the high flick as the scores remained tied at 0-0. The New Zealand side was forced to absorb some significant pressure from the Great Britain team, despite being on attack for large portions of the second quarter the British side was struggling to create any significant chances. At the end of the first half, the match remained tied at nil-all.
Great Britain opened the scoring early in the second half when a crash ball couldn’t be controlled by the New Zealand team and Thomas Russell was able to put the ball through the New Zealand goalkeepers’ legs and into the goal. New Zealand then looked to hold better possession as the quarter wore on, despite some great sequences of play the kiwis were struggling to break through the British defence. Heading into the final quarter the New Zealand side found themselves trailing 1-0 and needing a big push in the final quarter to get themselves on the scoreboard.
Great Britain was reduced to ten men midway through the final quarter and New Zealand immediately went on the attack as they desperately searched for the equalizing goal. New Zealand then had several penalty corners, unfortunately for the New Zealand side, they were unable to crack the Great Britain defence. Just before the end of the match, the Great Britain team scored their second of the contest when James Oates drove along the baseline and threw the ball through the New Zealand goalkeepers legs.
The New Zealand team don’t have a lot of time to recover before they return to the turf on the 13th of October at 11 pm (NZT) where they will take on India.
New Zealand 0
Great Britain 2 (Thomas Russell 34 min, Thomas Oates 58 min)