October 9, 2010
AUCKLAND – A first international goal for eighteen year old striker Chris Wood wasn’t enough for the All Whites to mark their World Cup homecoming with a win, as Honduras held the home side to a 1-1 draw in the first match of the ASB International Series at Auckland’s North Harbour Stadium on Saturday night.
New Zealand enjoyed the lion share of opportunities but were ultimately left to rue a 90th penalty miss from the normally clinical Shane Smeltz, who blasted his spotkick onto the underside of the crossbar and put his follow up over the top.
Wood repaid the faith of coach Ricki Herbert, who handed the Barnsley forward by way of West Bromwich Albion his first start on home soil, meeting a cross from the impressive jeremy Brockie with a towering header just before halftime.
The teenager had an unusual way of celebrating what should be the first of many All Whites strikes displaying the word “Woodzee” printed on a special pair of red and white underpants. He was yellow carded for his trouble.
Mark Paston, who was comfortable in the first half as the sides played most of the game in Honduran territory, produced two stunning saves 15 minutes into the second spell to deny Walter Martinez.
The first was required a sharp dive low to his left and a firm glove to beat away a header and the second, a minute later, a strong parry to keep out a free kick from outside of the area.
Martinez got the last laugh though, with a back post header to level the scores in the 64th minute.
Honduran captain and goalkeeper Noel Valldares was also in fine form, turning a top-corner bound Wood header over the bar, and doing the same to another shot late from the same player into the game.
At times the All Whites were their own worst enemies in front of goal, with shots being blocked by team mates or the woodwork, although the healthy crowd of 18,153 was treated to a display full of a willingness to entertain.
“That’s a good sign too,” said New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert of the missed chances.
“At the end of the day the stats would have been very lopsided in our favour. We just haven’t been a team like that but over the last four years the team’s developed to be like that, and if Tuesday night’s half as entertaining everyone will be pleased.”
“Personally I didn’t think it was close. I think it very much opened up tonight and we were very good we had some great chances, and at half time we could’ve had three or four without too many chances.”
The size of the gate ensured New Zealand Football will at least broke even on the match while also laying a challenge to Wellington fans who welcome quarterfinalists Paraguay to the capital for a World Cup rematch on Tuesday night.
Ryan Nelsen, who was substituted late in the game as a precaution, said the team enjoyed their homecoming.
“It was in our hands,” Nelsen said. “We wanted to win but I think it was an entertaining game and everybody got their money’s worth. That was a very good Honduras side they put that and it shows just how far New Zealand has come in the last 10 years.
“It’s fun thing to be a part of when you’ve got confident young men pulling their pants down in goal celebrations. It’s great to see that confidence.
“It was fantastic to play of front a big crowd and I’m honestly saying that. It shows how far the game has come. It’s fun and it’s reflected in the way the guys play. They want to express themselves and they want to entertain.”
New Zealand and Paraguay, who lost to Australia 0-1 in Sydney, fly into Wellington on Sunday. Paraguay arrives at 2pm and New Zealand at 3pm.
The All Whites will have just one training session, the captain’s run, before Tuesday night’s game.
New Zealand 1 (Chris WOOD 45) Honduras 1 (Walter MARTINEZ 64)
North Harbour Stadium
New Zealand: 1-Mark PASTON (GK), 4-Winston REID, 5-Ivan VICELEICH, 6-Ryan NELSEN (captain / 2-Ben SIGMUND 82), 7 Simon ELLIOTT, 8-Tim BROWN (21-Jeremy CHRISTIE 75), 9-Shane SMELTZ, 10-Chris KILLEN, 11-Leo BERTOS (16-Aaron CLAPHAM 88), 20-Chris WOOD, 22-Jeremy BROCKIE (15-Michael MCGLINCHEY 75).
Substitutes not used: 12-Glen MOSS (RGK), 13-Cole PEVERLEY, 14-Rory FALLON, 17-David MULLIGAN, 18-Andrew BOYENS.
Coach: Ricki HERBERT
Cautions: Winston REID 27, Chris WOOD 45+1, Jeremy BROCKIE 56, Jeremy CHRISTIE 82
Honduras: 18-Noel VALLDARES (GK / captain), 5-Erick NORLAES, 7-Emil MARTINEZ (4-Johnny PALACIOS 85), 9-Georgie WELCOME, 10-Mario MARTINEZ, 15-Walter MARTINEZ (13-Jerry BENGSTON 83), 16-Maurico SABILLON, 17-Eddie DELGADO (14-Oscar BONIEK GARCIA 46), 19-Ivan GUERRERO, 21-Jorge CLAROS, 23-Sergio MENDOZA.
Substitutes: 1-Ricardo CANALES (RGK), 2-Quiarol ARZU, 11-Roger ROJAS.
Coach: Juan de Dios CASTILLO
Cautions: 23-Sergio MENDOZA 47, 10-Mario MARTINEZ 90, 16-Maurico SABILLON 90, 13-Jerry BENGSTON 90