24 Nov 2016

Black Sticks held to draw in Melbourne

6:57 am on 24 November 2016

The New Zealand men's hockey team have drawn 1-1 with Malaysia in their opening game at the International Festival of Hockey in Melbourne.

Black Sticks captain Simon Child celebrates scoring a goal 2015.

Black Sticks captain Simon Child celebrates scoring a goal 2015. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

With the return of five players following last week's Trans-Tasman Trophy, the Black Sticks held plenty of possession but struggled to produce shots at goal.

Malaysia carried a one goal advantage for much of the second half after scoring in the 32nd minute before the Black Sticks Jared Panchia grabbed the equaliser two minutes out from fulltime.

The New Zealand coach Colin Batch said it was frustrating not to come away with a result.

"We started the game very well and had lot of forward momentum in the first half. While we had some good opportunities, we didn't create any real goal shots," he said.

"Overall we created seven or eight penalty corners and that should have been enough to win the game.

"To our credit we got a late goal thanks to some good structure and passing which was pleasing but one of the things we need to get better at in those situations is being able to win the game."

The Black Sticks played an up tempo first quarter and looked threatening in the attacking circle, highlighted by several penalty corner attempts from Kane Russell which Malaysia defended well.

After a goalless first half, Malaysia snapped up the opportunity to open the scoring in the 32nd minute with Sharil Saabah delivering a stinging penalty corner drag flick.

New Zealand lifted following the goal and poured the pressure on with four penalty corners late in the third quarter, but were unable to convert.

With Malaysia headed for a win, Panchia smashed home the equaliser from close range in the 58th minute after getting a perfect pass from Jacob Smith.

The Black Sticks are back in action against hosts Australia at 10:00pm tomorrow night (NZ time).