Hockey: Pakistan takes series lead

New Zealand's Harry Miskimmin and Jonty Keaney challenge for the ball in front of goal. Photo / Photosport
New Zealand's Harry Miskimmin and Jonty Keaney challenge for the ball in front of goal. Photo / Photosport

Pakistan captain Abdul Haseem Khan led from the front with a first half double as the Vantage Black Sticks Men went down 2-1 in front of a vocal crowd at the Trust House Hockey Wairarapa complex.

Head coach Darren Smith said despite the loss, there were some good passages where we his young side was able to dictate parts of the game.

"It was a mixed game with an element of softness in the two goals we gave away which were not particularly well earnt from Pakistan, and that's frustrating when you see those ones go in," he said.

"We just weren't able to create enough chances in front of goal, and it'll be interesting to see the stats but I'd be surprised if it was more than 10 which is not where we want to be."

Pakistan started the brighter of the teams with Haseem Khan striking an early lead after 10 minutes before Jonty Keaney drew the Kiwis level with his first international goal in just his third test.

The Black Sticks exploded to life with a goal one minute into the second quarter, after Keaney finished off a strong attack following a lung busting run from Harry Miskimmin leading to the well taken goal in a scrap at the Pakistan goal mouth.

However, Pakistan reclaimed the lead seven minutes later with a second goal from Haseem Khan, taking a 2-1 lead into halftime.

The Black Sticks had their chances to equalise but couldn't find the finishing touch.

Their closest chances were in the third quarter, after a sprawling dive from Stephen Jenness saw the ball rolling just past the outside post with the Pakistani keeper left stranded.

New Zealand almost scored again just seconds before the end of the third quarter but a great save from Pakistan keeper Mazhar Abbas tipped a rocket of a shot over the bar.

Despite some late pressure and the crowd cheering the hosts on, a goalless second half ensured the score remained 2-1 at fulltime.

Pakistan now lead the five test series 2-1, giving the Vantage Black Sticks one last chance to level the series in the final test at 6:30pm tomorrow night at Trust House Hockey Wairarapa complex in Clareville.

- NZ Herald

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