NZ beaten in McGarry's debut

James McGarry
James McGarry
Dunedin's latest All White had his hands full in his international debut yesterday but will be all the better for the experience.

James McGarry started on the left side of defence against Lithuania as All Whites coach Danny Hay changed the entire team from the one which lost 3-1 to Ireland in Dublin last Friday.

The All Whites ended up losing 1-0 to Lithuania in Vilnuis, a stunning strike on the stroke of halftime preventing Hay from recording the first positive result of his reign.

Winston Reid, Chris Wood and Ryan Thomas were not available after returning to their European clubs but there was still plenty of experience.

Tommy Smith captained the side and Bill Tuiloma, Michael McGlinchey and Marco Rojas also featured.

The match was the first time in New Zealand footballing history in which four players whose fathers were also All Whites took the field together: McGarry, Alex Rufer, Matt Ridenton and Andre de Jong followed in the footsteps of Mike, Shane, Michael and Fred.

Michael Woud also came in to make just his second All Whites appearance and his team-mates were indebted to him early on, the young goalkeeper saving at point-blank range as the home side made a bright start.

With so many changes in personnel and a tight turnaround in travel from the match in Dublin, the All Whites were always likely to need time to grow into the game, especially as they also had to get used to the unfamiliarity of playing on artificial turf.

Lithuania enjoyed the better of the first half, the lively Fedor Cernych working hard although le the All Whites did manage to carve out a couple of chances.

It appeared as if the stalemate would not be broken before the break but the impressive Aruydas Novikovas then stepped up to change that in stunning fashion, rifling an unstoppable left-foot strike into the top corner of Woud's goal from distance.

Hay made four changes in total - two at halftime and a couple more in the second half . McGarry (21) went off just past the hour mark for Nando Pijnaker.

But Lithuania was able to deal with whatever the All Whites threw at it as it celebrated a first win since March last year.

Hay was not too disappointed with his side's performance and had given all 22 players in the squad a run.

"I thought we came up against a particularly match-hardened team today who were really hungry and desperate to pick up a win,'' Hay said.

"But there were aspects of today's performance that were positive. The whole idea was to give everybody a really good opportunity and see whether they were a good fit in terms of character and mentality, ability on the pitch and the way we want to play.''

"I think we'll come out of this with a very clear idea of how to move forward.''

McGarry will return to Dutch club Willem II although he is keen to continue an international career with the Tokyo Olympics on the horizon next year.

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