KOOKABURRAS 5-2 (HT: 4-1) KOREA
Kookaburras: Trent Mitton 18,22,52 (PC,F,F), Jake Whetton 34 (F), Josh Miller 35 (F)
Korea: Yoon Sung Hoon 3 (F), Nam Hyun Woo 26 (PC)
A hat-trick from local hero Trent Mitton and a slicker, more patient approach helped the Kookaburras to a resounding 5-2 victory over Korea in Perth on Sunday in game two of the four match series. Mitton’s treble was complemented by strikes from Queenslander Jake Whetton and New South Wales’ Josh Miller, the pair getting their names on the score sheet within one minute of each other at the end of the first period.
Kookaburras’ coach Ric Charlesworth was pleased with the progression made on Friday’s 0-0 draw: “We got a bit more reward for the opportunities we made. It was a bit slicker, we were a bit more patient and we made some better chances. A couple of errors in defence cost us so it’s encouraging that we came back from that but it’s work in progress. Three guys made their debuts today and for that reason you’ve got to expect it’s not going to be solid.”
Speaking about the three new faces, Tyler Lovell (WA), Jeremy Edwards (TAS) and Tom Wickham (SA), Charlesworth said he felt they had settled in well, adding, “Someone coming along here wouldn’t have known who the beginners were tonight and that’s how you’d like it. They got their opportunity because they’re ready. In the last two months that’s ten players who have made their debuts. That’s a pretty decent shift.”
Things got off to an inauspicious start for the Kookaburras who were behind inside three minutes when Yoon Sung Hoon met Kim Young-Jin’s cross from the left, adding a telling touch to guide the ball inside the back post to make it 1-0 to the visitors.
Fired up, Jake Whetton and Tom Wickham came close to drawing the Kookaburras level before Trent Mitton did the honours in the 18th minute. From Australia’s first penalty corner of the match, Mitton’s powerful low flick flew towards goal before ultimately ending up in the roof of the net via a deflection. It was no more than the Kookaburras deserved, although they’d earlier been fortunate to see You Hyo Sik fire wide under pressure from goalkeeper Tyler Lovell.
Mitton doubled his tally to put the Kookaburras 2-1 up four minutes later. The goal came as a result of positive umpiring by Tim Pullman, who played advantage through a series of infringements as Korea scrambled to clear the ball under intense pressure. Ultimately, Mitton swept home clinically after the ball fell to him in the middle of the circle. Daniel Beale had initiated the chance with a tomahawk shot from the top of the circle that forced a block from Lee Myung Ho in goal.
Korea fought back soon after from their first penalty corner of the match. Nam Hyun Woo’s lightning quick low flick nestled in the bottom corner to make it 2-2. And just as it looked as though that might be how things remained at the break the Kookaburras extended their lead with two goals in two minutes on the stroke of half time. In the 34th minute, Jake Whetton’s shot from a narrow angle found a way inside the near post after a mix-up between goalkeeper and defender and one minute later Josh Miller converted on the slide after being set up by Mitton on the counter attack to make it 4-2.
A series of Australian penalty corners came and went early in the second half and the Kookaburras always looked dangerous with Matt Willis coming close on one occasion.
Mitton bagged his hat-trick after a period in which Korea had upped the tempo but failed to find a way through the hard working Kookaburras defence. Good interplay on the edge of the Korean circle between Willis and Aran Zalewski allowed Zalewski to thread the ball through to Mitton and he made no mistake from close range to make it 5-2. Chances late on might have added to his and Whetton’s tallies but the match closed without further incident.
The third match of the four game series takes place on Tuesday, 7 May, at 5:25pm WST. All four matches in the series are being live streamed on the Hockey Australia website at www.hockey.org.au.