Hykes clinches series with equaliser 8 seconds from time
JONATHON COOK in Potchefstroom
South Africa men’s hockey team came back from a 2-0 half-time deficit to draw 4-4 with Malaysia in the third Test at University of North West Hockey Centre in Potchefstroom Sunday and clinched the series 2-0 with one to play.
SA had won the first Test 2-1 and the second Test 3-1 at UNWHC, while Malaysia desperately needed a win to give themselves a chance of levelling the series in the fourth and final clash at 7 pm Tuesday at Randburg Hockey Stadium.
Julian Hykes made the all-important equaliser for 4-4 with just eight seconds left in the match.
South Africa’s penalty corners were poor – just one of the six brought success - while a host of great combination plays were undone in field play when the final pass went astray just metres from goal.In the first half Malaysia made the most of what came their way and went into the half-time break with a 2-0 lead.
Against the run of play Fitri Saari worked some magic up the left-hand baseline with exquisite stickwork to set up Izwan Firdaus for the opening goal in the 27th minute, Malaysia having scored first in all three Test matches.
Two minutes later Malaysia stole away again and Faiz Helmi conjured up a fine piece of skill to open the way for Chua Boon Huat and it was 2-0 by the 29th minute.
In the first half, two of South Africa’s three penalty corners were botched at the stage of trapping the injection pass, while the only one on target saw captain Austin Smith’s effort glanced safely away by goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin.
Three minutes after the break SA won a fourth PC but again it was fluffed and five minutes later Razie Abdul Rahim went on an unchallenged solo run to smash the ball from the top of the strike zone into the net for 3-0 after 43 minutes.
Two minutes later, in the 45th, SA midfielder Taine Paton showed presence of mind to catch the Malaysian defenders unawares and finished with a cracking shot into the backboard for 3-1.
However, SA continued to miss gilt-edged chances in the goal zone, but they got it right in the 59thminute when Matt Botha’s assist was buried by Pierre de Voux for 3-2.
SA’s fifth PC followed soon after and Ricky West’s effort was blocked by keeper Jamaluddin. Then in the 63rd minute Smith sent a stunning drag-flick from SA’s sixth PC high into the net for 3-3 with seven minutes left.
Two minutes later (65th) Tengku Aad Tajuddin Tg Jalil dived for a fine deflection goal and Malaysia were 4-3 up.
Three minutes from full-time Smith made a courageous run-in from the left channel and Hykes’ reverse-stick snapshot cannoned into the near post and stayed out.
Then with eight seconds left Taine Paton made a courageous incursion from the same channel and got off a shot, which Hykes deflected into the net for a 4-4 draw and a series win for SA with one to play.SA went into the match with Jacques le Roux the starting keeper, number one goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse on the bench and Gowan Jones sitting this one out.
Vice-captain Rhett Halkett and fellow defender Ashlin Freddy, who both missed the first two Test matches due to injury, returned; Tim Drummond was still injured; Clint Panther was back after writing university exams on Saturday and his older brother, Brandon Panther, a new cap on Saturday, was rested, as was Nick Gonsalves. The Malaysia line-up remained much the same.