International Masters Hockey - Update 4
The Fitz files another report from Hong Kong.
Thursday - Over 40's - Australia v New Zealand
A battle between 2 of 3 teams who have not dropped a point to date (the other being England) promised to give us some indication of who would become favourites to take the title.
A tough end to end contest saw both teams striving for supremacy but giving little away. A NZ penetration looked like it was going to earn a short corner but the game was allowed to continue and the ball rolled free scrappily to an unmarked attacker whose shot was good enough to beat the keeper. 1 nil at half time to the Kiwis.
The second half saw the Aussies come back and some good attacking work saw a short corner awarded which was then converted. This led to the Aussies best period of the game where they strove for the second goal. It was tough uncompromising hockey with the umpires on the verge of losing control as players grew tired in the heat. The injury toll was mounting and it led to the first yellow card of the match to an Aussie. This changed the balance of the game as the Kiwis sensed their opportunity. Australia managed to keep them out through the period where they had the extra player. But, after sustained pressure the Kiwis again scored when Australia were unable to clear another NZ attack.
There was still time and Australia were able to force a couple of corners. One of which saw the runners committed and a slip left gave Louis Matthews the time and space required to flick confidently into the left of the net. There was still time left but neither team was able put enough pressure on the opposite defence to force a mistake. Two all the final score-line.
This leaves the competition still very much in the balance. Australia are to play England, Friday which will go a long way to eliminating one of those teams, with the Kiwis to play the Poms Saturday. At this stage the Kiwis are probably favoured as they have the superior goal difference.