KOOKABURRAS 3-3 (HT: 1-2) KOREA
Kookaburras: Russell Ford 11,54 (F,F), Matt Willis 67 (F)
Korea: Yoon Sung Hoon 3 (F), Own Goal 28 (OG), Lee Jung Jin 40 (F)
Two Russell Ford (VIC) strikes and a first goal for his country from Matt Willis (NSW) helped the Kookaburras fight back twice for a 3-3 draw against Korea in the third of four Tests in Perth, WA, on Tuesday.
In wet conditions, Australia found themselves behind early in the match but equalised through Ford’s well placed shot in the 11th minute. An own goal against the run of play courtesy of the pads of goalkeeper George Bazeley put Korea back in front at the break and the Kookaburras found themselves two goals down soon after the restart through Lee Seung Hoon’s tomahawk. But Ford’s second strike following good work by Trent Mitton down the left and Willis’ sweep home earned the Kookaburras a share of the spoils. And it could have been more had a late penalty corner been successfully converted.
Head Coach Ric Charlesworth praised his side’s comeback afterwards but expressed his disappointment at the way they had conceded goals. “Korea started the match with lots of energy and we were perhaps a bit off the pace,” he said. “We allowed them to score three very soft goals from the few chances they had but we persisted, got ourselves back into it and could have won it. It was a resilient effort to get back into it from being two goals down midway through the first half. They were hanging on in the end.”
Australia’s first equaliser came after Tom Wickham’s shot was initially saved by the Korean goalkeeper and Ford converted confidently as the ball fell to him in the middle of the circle. But against the run of play Korea went back in front before half time. Despite being a man down following a temporary suspension handed out to Kim Young Jin a fortunate deflection put the visitors 2-1 ahead. A pass deep in behind the Kookaburras’ backline was deflected towards goal and goalkeeper George Bazeley was unfortunate to see the ball settle in the goal via his pads.
Things got worse when Lee Seung Hoon made it 3-1 shortly after the break but Australia’s patience paid off as they worked their way back into the match, firstly through Ford’s second and then through Willis’ swept effort. After netting a hat-trick on Sunday, WA’s Trent Mitton turned provider for Ford’s neat finish with just over 15 minutes remaining to give Australia hope. And with three minutes left on the clock good work from Glenn Turner, this time along the right baseline, presented Willis with the opportunity to sweep home from eight metres out. Tamworth’s Willis, who only made his senior international debut on Friday, kept his cool, slotting home inside the near post.
With time running out the Kookaburras were awarded a late penalty corner but Matt Gohdes shot was deflected high and wide.
Double goal scorer Russell Ford admitted afterwards, “We want to win every game we play. We probably had a few lapses that cost us but on a positive note we fought back from two goals down at one stage. We stuck to our game plan and even had some chances at the end there.
“Three-all is probably a fair result. They’re a strong team, a well drilled team. They run hard, they don’t miss many passes and have a good corner battery.”
The fourth match of the four game series takes place on Thursday, 9 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.