Black Sticks men open campaign with victory
The New Zealand men's hockey team started its Commonwealth Games campaign with a 3-1 win over Group B rivals Canada at the National Hockey Centre in Glasgow this morning.
It took a goal from substitute Arun Panchia, 12 minutes from fulltime, to send the Black Sticks on their way to victory over a resolute and physical Canadian team, who, despite being ranked 10 places lower than the Black Sticks, offered a strong defence and a constant threat on attack.
It started well for New Zealand, who opened the scoring through a penalty stroke from Andy Hayward in the third minute after Nick Haig shot from a penalty corner struck Canadian captain Scott Tupper on the shoulder in front of goal.
It was reward for Hayward who had been in a moon boot just 24 hours earlier.
Despite having four unanswered corners and seven shots to two, the Black Sticks struggled to generate further scoring chances in the first half.
The early set-back did not deter the world number 16 Canadians as they began to threaten on attack against the world No 6 Kiwis.
The two teams drew 1-1 at the Delhi Commonwealth Games four years ago and a well taken goal from substitute Sukhpal Panesar saw the Candian pressure pay off in the 21st minute.
His shot, just one of two his team had in the first 35 minutes was gently lifted over Kiwi goalie Devon Manchester, who got a touch but could not stop the shot.
New Zealand tried to inject Simon Child and Hugo Ingles to be more of an attacking presence in the second half but the Kiwis struggled to penetrate the attacking circle.
Canada were reduced to 10 men for two minutes after Benjamin Martin committed a stick check, but the Kiwis still could not find a way through.
A jinking run from the right corner from Steve Edwards drew a number of Canadian defenders and left Panchia free with an open goal for a simple finish.
Veteran Phil Burrows then gave his team a two-goal advantage when he got a deflection from New Zealand's fifth penalty corner of the game with six minutes remaining.
The Black Sticks hit the post in the dying minutes but a goal would have flattered the Kiwis on the scoreboard.
Colin Batch's side will next face Trinidad and Tobago on Saturday night.
The Caribbean team were comprehensively beaten 6-1 by Group B favourites, England, in the opening men's match.