So far and yet so close was the story of Scotland`s 3-2 defeat at the hands of Malaysia in the World Cup qualifier in New Zealand today.
Scottish coach, Russell Garcia said: ?This was a great fight back after a disappointing first half. We dominated after the interval and played the best hockey I`ve seen since taking over the squad. Despite the outcome, the performance was promising.?
The Asians dominated the first half and strolled into a three goal lead by the break through Faizal Saari (2) and Muhammad Rahim. Scotland`s John Harris (Inverleith) created a good opportunity in the first half but shot wide of the target.
Needing to boost their goal difference to have a chance of making Sunday`s final, the Malaysians almost added a fourth at the start of the second half but keeper Allan Dick (Surbiton) was on hand to make the save. But it was the Scots who then scored when Glynhill Hotel Kelburne striker Kenny Bain robbed a defender and shot low into the bottom left hand corner.
The game became a little untidy with cards shown to Vishal Marwaha (Western Wildcats) and two Malaysians. Russell Garcia`s charges were back in the hunt in 49 minutes, this time Bain was the provider and Inverleith`s Stephen Dick finished off to reduce the lead to a single goal.
It was the Scots turn to put the Asians under the cosh, but John Harris? volley rebounded off the post to allow the Malaysians to weather the storm.
The game ended controversially, with the Scots throwing everything at the Malaysians when the final hooter went off 23 seconds early, it took nearly two minutes to sort out the hiatus, but too late for a dramatic equaliser.
In other matches, high flying New Zealand thumped China 6-1 while Austria leapfrogged Scotland with a 2-0 win over pointless Wales. Scotland`s final pool match is against Wales on Saturday at 10:00 (NZDT).