Sothern strikes for back-to-back 3-2 wins over Pakistan

Men’s senior international
Ireland 3 (A Sothern 2, J Duncan) Pakistan 2 (M Irfan Jr, M Umar Bhutta)

Ireland scored back-to-back 3-2 wins over Pakistan to win their three-game series 2-0, an impressive feat against a side they had only beaten once in 10 previous all-time attempts.

The first quarter was a frantic affair with chances for both sides but no one was able to break the deadlock in what was an open, end-to-end tussle.

A few minutes into the second quarter the first goal arrived from Alan Sothern after an opportunist burst into the circle by Neil Glassey and snap shot caught the Pakistan keeper Ali Amjad by surprise. Ireland were dominant at this stage and were probing the Pakistan defence constantly.

A second Irish goal duly arrived after excellent build-up play down which fell to Luke Madeley down the right hand side who pulled the ball back for Jeremy Duncan to finish smartly at the neat post, 2-0 at half-time.

In a similar fashion to the previous game, Pakistan had their best phase during the third quarter and pulled a goal back after a deflection on the 23-metre line eluded the Irish defence and fell kindly in the circle to Mohammed Butt. Butt had plenty of time time to pick his spot and slotted expertly past the Irish keeper David Harte.

Pakistan won a series of penalty corners but it was from one of their attacking set-pieces where they were hit with a classic counter punch. Chris Cargo got out well to block the initial shot and freed Sean Murray on the left touchline.

Alan Sothern lines up a shot. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Murray fed a 50 yard pass to Sothern who made his way into the circle and cleverly made an angle for himself to slot the ball past the Pakistan keeper, a classy finish to a swift move.

Pakistan did get a lifeline when a quick free was fired into the Irish circle and Muhammad Umar Butta deflected high into the Irish goal giving the keeper no chance, making it 3-2 with five minutes left.

Despite a series of last ditch attacks and a very high Pakistan press, Ireland held on for the victory and series win. Daragh Walsh became the second debutant of the series.

Speaking afterwards, coach Craig Fulton told BBC Sport: “It’s pretty important getting this squad back together. We’ve trained together for about three weeks so I am very happy with where we are at. Two good results against a nice attacking team; we were able to hold out in both so it’s building nicely for the summer.”

Ireland: D Harte, J Jackson, J Bell, O Magee, C Cargo, E Magee, S Murray, L Cole, P Gleghorne, J Duncan, K Shimmins
Subs: A Sothern, M Nelson, N Glassey, D Walsh, L Madeley, J Lorimer

Pakistan: A Amjad, M A Bilal, M Mushtaq, A Mahmood, T Abbas, M Irfan Jr, A Khan, A Shan, N Ashfaq, M U Bhutta, M Yaqoob
Subs: M Rizwan Jr, M A Qadir, A Ahmad, M Dilber

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