[img_assist|nid=8129|title=Jacob Smith of NZ (photosport.co.nz)|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=200|height=133]The Black Sticks Men battled hard but were defeated 2-1 by Korea in the sixth and final test of the series in a wet weather clash at Papatoetoe Sports Centre tonight. After trailing 1-0 at halftime, the Kiwis drew level through a stunning Stephen Jenness goal but surrendered the lead again soon after and could not equalise.
The Blacks Sticks looked impressive for much of the game and played with solid structure defensively, however it didn’t translate into goals at the other end.
Head coach Colin Batch said there were areas of his side’s game that were pleasing but it was disappointing to come away with a loss.
“Again I thought we made progress but we are disappointed with the result. We created chances and were dangerous but on the counter attack we were left exposed,” he said.
“We had good structure in the midfield and defensively which was a positive. I think we need to look at our attacking structure and how to evolve that into a really potent force.”
The Black Sticks dominated large patches of the first half, with veteran Phil Burrows once again providing much needed structure and vigour up front. Isaac Staples and Jared Panchia also created several good chances, but the Kiwis couldn’t find the back of the net.
With Blair Tarrant and Alex Shaw combining well on the defensive flanks, things were looking good before a penalty corner against the run of play put the Black Sticks in trouble just four minutes out from halftime.
Despite a good initial save from New Zealand goalkeeper Hamish McGregor, Nam Young Lee pounced on the loose ball and eased it into goal to put Korea ahead 1-0.
The Black Sticks kept their structure throughout the second half and steadily built the pressure on the Koreans. Capital’s Stephen Jenness delivered the equalising goal in the 62nd minute with a brilliant reverse shot from the top of the circle.
But Korea were swift to respond and scored through Hyun Woo Nam just one minute later from a penalty corner.
The Kiwis pulled McGregor out of goal in the final minutes to add an extra runner to the field but couldn’t pull one back.