Andrew Barron has starred in another gripping late show for New Zealand to ensure Ricki Herbert’s All Whites hit their “Road to South Africa” running.
The Canterbury United midfielder rifled home an 88th minute winner as New Zealand pipped Malaysia 2-1 at North Harbour Stadium on Thursday night to seal the two-match series 3-1 on aggregate.
Barron, on as a 65th minute substitute in just his second international, squeezed the rebound from his initial shot past Shamsuri Mustafa and the acrobatic Malaysian goalkeeper’s near post to send an 8702-strong crowd crazy.
The winner was nothing more than New Zealand deserved in a match they again dominated only to be left frustrated by the faulty shooting radar that had Herbert sweating in Christchurch on Sunday before defender Steve Old supplied the only goal in the series opener in the 87th minute.
Debutant Campbell Banks gave New Zealand the fast start they wanted tonight when he finished coolly from the right hand side of the box in the 18th minute. The YoungHeart Manawatu marksman angled a shot across Mustafa into the far-post side-netting after controlling a nodded flick-on by midfielder Jeff Fleming from Leo Bertos’ clever ball over the top of the Malaysian defense.
But New Zealand’s lead lasted just six minutes when All Whites goalkeeper Glen Moss misjudged Malaysian striker Safee Sali’s swerving 20-metre speculator and palmed the ball into his own net.
All Whites defender Noah Hickey dragged a guilt-edged shot wide in between the two first half goals, a miss that changed the complexion of the match.
Malaysia went on to produce their best spell of the series just after halftime with some slick interplay - often involving the speedy Sali – to stretch New Zealand.
But it was one-way traffic from the 56th minute with the All Whites creating 13 of their 20 chances in the second half.
Striker Shane Smeltz had a left-footed shot blocked by the at times outstanding Mustafa in the 72nd minute before hooking a right-footed shot agonizingly wide in the same movement.
Debutant Jarrod Smith, watched in the stands by his famous test cricketing father Ian, had a blistering shot well saved by Mustafa four minutes later.
Jeremy Brockie, who replaced Fleming in the 65th minute for his second cap, then had three guilt-edged chances and a penalty shout waved away by referee Neil Fox in a helter-skelter six minute period just before Barron scored.
Herbert was relieved afterwards as he dissected the second win of his three match career as All Whites coach.
“There’s a nice feeling in the dressing room,” Herbert explained.
"There’s some areas of concern, we’ve made mistakes, we haven’t played well at times but we’ve won a series and that’s a nice feeling.”
Herbert and co-coaches Brian Turner and Stu Jacobs will now decide on which players from the Malaysia series to take on New Zealand’s two-match tour to Chile in April.
But for now at least he hopes New Zealand celebrate the All Whites successful return from a three and a half year home hiatus.
“A big thing we’re going to take out of this is that it’s nice to win international football matches,” Herbert said.
“This has been a great bunch of guys who have played no international football together at all really and the need the credit for providing the country with a series win…I think it’s a good start.”
Albany, New Zealand
23 February, 2006
New Zealand 2 (Campbell Banks 18, Andrew Barron 88) Malaysia 1 (Safee Sali 24) Halftime: 1-1
New Zealand: Glen Moss, James Pritchett, Danny Hay (captain), Steven Old, Noah Hickey, Tim Brown, Jeff Fleming (Jeremy Brockie 65), Adrian Webster (Andrew Barron 65), Shane Smeltz, Leo Bertos, Campbell Banks (Jarrod Smith 70).
Malaysia: Shamsuri Mustafa, Ronny Harun, Zamani Misbah, Thiru Veeran, Fadzli Saari (Azi Azmi 75/Azian Zainal 87), Safee Sali, Amri Yahyah (Surendren Rasiah 59), Rudie Ramli, Hardi Jaafar, Nantha Kalliappan, Chan Wing Hoong.