The opening match of the London Cup in Chiswick saw New Zealand take on Korea in what proved to be a cagey affair with the Black Sticks running out 2-0 winners.
New Zealand started the better of the two sides, forcing a penalty corner early in the first five minutes. But Hayward saw his flick charged down and Korea were allowed to break quickly down the right but the Asian side couldn’t make the most of the opportunity.
Despite enjoying the majority of the possession the Black Sticks were unable to convert a succession of penalty corners and the game looked to be tied going into the break. However, right on the stroke of halftime good work along the back line saw the ball pulled back for New Zealand’s Simon Child to slap home and give his side the lead.
The goal sparked both sides into life and the second half started at a higher tempo than the first.
New Zealand captain Phil Burrows had two good chances, the first on his favoured reverse stick and the second a quick strike on the forehand which squeezed just wide of Myung Ho Lee’s far post.
The points were secured mid-way through the half when good work down the left found Nick Wilson unmarked on the penalty spot. Striking his first shot into the goalkeeper’s pads he made no mistake with the rebound and stroked the ball into the unguarded net.
Korea pressed higher in an effort to come back into the game and a flurry of crashed balls into the circle saw them win a late penalty corner.
The packed crowd were given something to cheer as Jong Hyun Jang rattled the cross bar with a fierce drag-flick, but the ball was eventually cleared to safety.
After the game Korean coach Moon Ki Yoo remained positive despite the defeat, “We have struggled with preparation over the last few weeks and I am pleased with the way the side pulled together today”.
Korea will look to improve on the defeat when they face England on Wednesday. Tickets are still available for Wednesday’s London Cup action. Gates open at 16:30 with Belgium v New Zealand at 17:45, followed by England v Korea t 20:00.