Football: All Whites draw with China

All Whites coach Ricki Herbert.
All Whites coach Ricki Herbert.
The All Whites have ended their 2012 campaign with a well-earned 1-1 draw in Shanghai courtesy of a Chris Wood equaliser two minutes before half time.

All Whites coach Ricki Herbert was pleased with the way his new look side went about their business and felt they were unlucky not to come away with a win at Shanghai Hongkou Football Stadium.

"We had a number of our senior players not here tonight, so it was a huge challenge for the young boys that stepped out. At the end of the day on chances we probably should have won it," said Herbert.

China took the advantage just after the half-hour mark after a Peng Zhao header squeezed between Michael McGlinchey and Mark Paston from a China corner.

The lead last just eight minutes when Wood restored parity with his eighth goal in his last eight international matches. The Millwall man took advantage of some slack goalkeeping from Dalei Wang to head home a Marco Rojas free kick just before the interval.

Wood could have given the All Whites the lead in stoppage time after neat build up work from Rojas allowed him to slip Tony Lochhead in, but Wood couldn't connect with his driven cross.

Rojas and Kosta Barbarouses became more influential as the game wore on driving at the China defence and creating opportunities for Wood and Tim Payne, with the latter denied by a smart save by Wang just before the hour.

China threatened on the break in the first half but offered little in the second spell for captain Tommy Smith and the rest of New Zealand's rearguard.

"I thought they were more of a counter-attacking team and we had more of the ball. We were passing it around well and created a few chances and we feel like we should have won the game," said Smith.

Leo Bertos won his 50th 'A' international cap coming on as a 66th minute substitute along as Herbert cleared his bench giving time to Jeremy Brockie, Shane Smeltz, Ivan Vicelich and 17-year-old Cam Howieson.

The All Whites will now refocus on the Fifa World Cup qualifiers in March next year with the crucial home fixture against New Caledonia offering the possibility of wrapping up Oceania's place in the intercontinental playoff before the away match in the Solomon Islands.

The winner of the Oceania group will play the fourth placed CONCACAF side in a home-and-away playoff in November 2013.

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