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Historic result for All Whites

BY COEN LAMMER IN RUSTENBURG
Last updated 01:49 16/06/2010

All Whites draw with Slovakia

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The All Whites system developed in the desert heat of Bahrain worked a treat in the Antarctic gale of Rustenburg, with a late Winston Reid equaliser giving the Kiwis a bit more than they deserved.

Coach Ricki Herbert conjured up the now famous 3-4-3 formation for the World Cup playoffs due to the absence of an international right back and to take advantage of his abundance of strikers.

Like in the recent build-up matches against technically superior sides, the All Whites showed that a tight formation of hardworking Kiwis can frustrate any international side.

Young backs Reid and Tommy Smith looked confident for most of the match alongside Ryan Nelsen, until Reid gave Robert Vittek half a metre to head home the 1-0.

However, he more than made up for that with a goal-saving tackle and a last minute equaliser.

Simon Elliott was again superb, dominating much of the midfield battle against Slovakian superstar Marek Hamsik, tackling hard and controlling the pace and distributing the ball across the field.

The three strikers knew they were going to work with crumbs today but Shane Smeltz nearly made a meal out of two of them, one on the stroke of full time.

Fallon struggled against the big Slovakian defenders, making too many fouls and was lucky not to get booked.

The main weakneses of the Bahrain system, which was exposed this morning was the lack of supply from midfielders Tony Lochhead and Leo Bertos who are often miles away tackling their hearts out.

Only after Slovakia had taken the lead did New Zealand's wings push forward and started the team taking the more obvious Route One approach.

First Smeltz gave goalkeeper Jan Mucha a fright in the 88th minute, until fullback-turned-striker Reid gave New Zealand the most unexpected, yet historic, draw.

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- Stuff

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