The Vantage Black Sticks Men came up against an in form Malaysian side who were looking to build upon some impressive performances in the recently concluded Asian Games where they came away with the bronze medal.
Playing in some hot and humid conditions that was sure to test our team. We were playing in our traditional black strip while the Malaysian team was in white.
The match started with some great control from the Vantage Black Sticks as they looked to construct some good attack.
2 minutes into the game Stephen Jenness received a pass from the left hand side and pulled the trigger on a squeeze shot that flew past the keeper and put the Vantage Black Sticks up 1-0.
Malaysia then weathered the pressure that the Vantage Black Sticks threw at them including George Muir pinging one off the post.
From there Malaysia constructed their own chances including a near miss on a penalty corner which was deflected just wide of the goal.
At the end of the 1st quarter the score was 1-0 to the Vantage Black Sticks Men.
2 minutes into the start of the second quarter Dominic Newman beat a defender on the baseline and then crossed a ball to Aidan Sarikaya who slotted home a deflection.
Malaysia continued to fight and were rewarded just before the half with a penalty stroke to Faizal Saari which made it 2-1.
The match continued some great end to end play however the score remained unchanged and and the teams went to the sheds with the Vantage Black Sticks Leading 2-1.
After the half the Vantage Black Sticks looked to build some momentum and extend their lead.
Despite having 4 penalty corners the Malaysians were stout in defence and refused to concede another goal.
As the 4th quarter started the stadium started to cool as the sun begun to set.
The Vantage Black Sticks looked to use these improving conditions to their advantage and pushed hard to extend their lead.
The Vantage Black Sticks made a goalkeeper swap bringing on George Enersen who was immediately required to pull off a great save off a Malaysian penalty corner.
With 5 minutes to go and the game still very much in the balance Malaysia looked to play an attacking move and pulled their keeper looking to push for the equalising goal.
Malaysia with no keeper were rewarded with a penalty corner with two minutes to go as Malaysia nearly equalised however Nick Ross pulled off a goal line save to keep the Vantage Black Sticks up 2-1 as we entered a nail biting last two minutes.
The Vantage Black Sticks held on and ended the game with a hard fought 2-1 victory over the Malaysian side.
Vantage Black Sticks Coach Darren Smith said “This was a solid win for our team.
At times we were able to have periods of dominance especially in the 3rd quarter where we generated 6-7 good opportunities, which we were guilty of not taking.
This saw a tight 4th quarter where they were able to put pressure on including removing the goalie.
All of these situations are good preparation for the Odisha Men’s Hockey World Cup and in the end it was a good win against Malaysia at home”.
Vantage Black Sticks : 2 (Stephen Jenness 2’, Aidan Sarikaya 17”)
Malaysia : 1 (Faizal Saari 22”)