April 1, 2009
AUCKLAND – A brace of goals from All Whites captain Ryan Nelsen earned New Zealand a 2-2 draw with Thailand ‘A’ to finish their Bangkok camp on Wednesday morning.
Nelsen struck in the 20th and 58th minutes to draw New Zealand level after twice falling behind in the first half.
The Blackburn Rovers defender smashed a volley from 12 yards after Andy Boyens nodded a corner back into his path, then met a wide free kick with a powerful header for New Zealand’s second.
He would later have a strong penalty claim turned down and also put another header wide as a potential first international hat trick went begging.
New Zealand were forced to play the last 25 minutes with 10 men after fullback Tony Lochhead was sent off for two questionable bookings, although the first yellow card was rescinded after the match due to a case of mistaken identity by the local referee.
Thailand coach Peter Reid utilised many of the same players from Sunday’s match and his ‘A’ side took the lead after just seven minutes through a precise 25-yard free-kick that sailed into the top corner.
They restored their advantage two minutes before halftime when a ball played over the defence caused indecision between Boyens and goalkeeper Glen Moss and allowed a Thai striker to pinch a 2-1 lead.
All Whites coach Ricki Herbert said the side had lifted its performance from Sunday morning’s loss to Thailand.
“I was very pleased tonight, we dictated 60 to 65 percent of the game,” Herbert said.
“We fell behind to a hell of a strike and it was a defensive error for the second with a couple of players getting caught in no man’s land, but apart from that I think we only allowed one shot the second half.
“It was a step up, which was important for us to achieve tonight so onwards and upwards.”
Herbert was particularly pleased with the way the side responded to playing with ten men on another hot Bangkok night and the performance of the four changes to the starting line-up.
“To play that last 30 with ten men, we only went to the bench once and the guys really had to dig deep on what was a pretty sapping night anyway.
“We’ve nursed everybody through. The new players we brought in played extremely well. Glen Moss, Chris James and Jeremy Christie all played well and Aaron Scott looked very comfortable at right back.”
All Whites vice captain Tim Brown said the week-long camp had helped forge a close-knit group heading into New Zealand’s next internationals – likely to be warm-up matches en route to South Africa at the end of May, he acknowledged that there was still work to be done on the field.
“I think if we qualify for the World Cup no-one’s going to remember these games. In saying that, there were things that needed to be done better and the message has certainly been shared that some things weren’t good enough,” said Brown.
“But there’s a bigger picture. We’re two games away from playing at a World Cup and that’s the focus, even throughout the Confederations Cup. We need to improve, we need to be better and we will be come May-June.”
New Zealand 2 (Nelsen 20, 58) Thailand ‘A’ 2
March 31 (April 1 NZT)
Supachalasai Stadium, Bangkok
New Zealand: Glen MOSS (GK), Aaron SCOTT, Ryan NELSEN (Captain), Andrew BOYENS, Tony LOCHHEAD, Simon ELLIOTT, Tim BROWN, Jeremy CHRISTIE, Jeremy BROCKIE (Kris BOUCKENOOGHE 83), Chris JAMES, Shane SMELTZ.
Substitutes not used: Mark PASTON (RGK), David MULLIGAN, Duncan OUGHTON, Kris BRIGHT.
Unavailable through injury: Chris KILLEN, Jarrod SMITH.
Coach: Ricki HERBERT