SA fight-back fails to weaken Pakistan

2008-04-27 00:00

Pakistan withstood a fantastic South African fight-back to win the fifth Test 5-3, and with it the U21 men’s hockey series by a 4-0 margin at Queensmead in Durban late on Saturday afternoon.

Trailing 3-0 at half-time after their flattest first-half performance in the series, South Africa came out firing in the second half following an earnest team talk from coach Kurt Cerfontyne.

The man who drove the South Afircan fight-back was inspired central midfielder Taine Paton, who forced a penalty corner in the 41st minute, and SA skipper Eugene Pelteret slapped the slip-left into the backboard past the outstretched left leg of goalkeeper Imran Shah.

Nine minutes later, a Matt Botha/Paton one-two saw the striker earn another penalty corner and, after the trap was initially botched, Matt Coombes recovered to fire in a partially parried shot that push-out man Botha gleefully guided over the goalline. Not five minutes after, SA scored their third goal inside 14 minutes to equalise at 3-3 when Anthony Vervoort slipped left from yet another penalty corner for Satchi Reddy to slap home.

The game was well and truly on, but Paton protested at SA umpire Ayden Shrives awarding Pakistan a penalty corner and he was sent to the sin-bin.

Pakistan went back into the lead when Muhammad Zubair scored a beautiful goal after running to the post from the right and deflecting home the penalty-corner striker’s pass.

Then, much to the disgust of the vociferous crowd, Vervoort was inexplicably sent to the cooler by controversial Pakistan umpire Arshad Tanveer after a visiting player had collapsed dramatically.

Soon after, the brilliant Pakistan captain and midfielder Shafqat Rasool set up a wonderful combination of passes at lightning speed with Khurram Sharzad for the latter to make the game safe at 5-3 to the tourists.

Although SA started the match better than in earlier Tests, three good chances in the opening quarter-hour did not yield goals. And Pakistan came back through a Kashif Ali penalty corner, a goal of sheer individual skill by Zubair and a clinical, net-bulging penalty stroke from Ali.

Results

1st Test: Pakistan 5-2; 2nd Test: Pakistan 2-0;

3rd Test: Pakistan 3-1; 4th Test: 1-1 draw; 5th Test: Pakistan 5-3.

Pakistan win five-Test series 4-0.

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