October 16, 2009
By Omar Rawji
Game 4 of the 7 Test Super Series between Canada and India featured two deliberate, patient teams.
“Our energy started late. We were flat,” was the explanation given by Alan Brahmst, Canada’s head coach.
The first 35 minutes was especially plodding as neither team was willing to take chances, choosing rather to sit back and wait for mistakes from the other side. Aside from Canada’s three penalty corner opportunities in the half, their best chance came in the 15th minute on a strong run by Mark Pearson, who crossed a ball through that just missed Connor Grimes for the finish.
Canada made one mistake in the half that would cost them dearly. Off the turnover, India’s Gurwinder Chandi rushed in alone on goalkeeper Matt Peck, who attacked the ball and inadvertently tripped up the player, leading to a Penalty Stroke. Vikram Pillay would make no mistake, shooting high blocker side, and putting his team up 1-0.
The second half featured more chances from both teams. India created pressure early and were rewarded just three minutes in as Rajpal Singh scored a field goal for a 2-0 lead.
Canada created a number of chances to get themselves back in the match. A 46th minute cross by Gabbar Singh from outside the D was just missed on the touch by Curran Taylor, and four minutes later Phil Wright hit a blistering shot that flew just past the goalie’s stick side post.
Once again Team Canada held the edge in penalty corners 6-2, but neither team was able to capitalize on these chances.
“Our corner is not working. We’re 3 for 21 in the series,” said Brahmst. “Usually it’s our strength, but we’re having big problems.” Canada did come very close on two of attempts, however. The first one was a clean drag flick in the 62nd minute.
“The goalie just barely made the save,” said the shooter, Wayne Fernandes. Five minutes later, in the 66th minute, he would have another crack at the ball. This time off a broken corner, his shot hit the post after being deflected by Pearson.
Scott Tupper, playing as Canada’s captain since both Rob Short and Ken Pereira returned to their club teams in Europe, had these thoughts on the game: “It was probably the lowest level we’ve played at throughout the series, which is disappointing. We really couldn’t get in any rhythm out there.” Asked if India’s new formations were a factor, Tupper was not about to shirk any of the blame saying, “This one was on us, it’s not really about what they were doing.”
“I’m more worried about us than India at this point,” echoed Brahmst. “We didn’t do a good job of reading their intentions. We weren’t double teaming very well, and we allowed them space down the sidelines. We were missing three guys (in Short, Pereira, and Paul Wettlaufer) who have about 900 combined caps between them, and it made a difference.”
This was the first game of the series in which David Carter did not play in net for Team Canada, as Matt Peck was given the start, and Brahmst felt satisfied with the effort: “I think he did a fine job, the goals were a shot and a stroke off a bad giveaway.”
Captain Tupper and his teammates will surely be ready for game 5: “Going into Sunday we should be able to get that first win of the series.”
22’ – IND Pillay, Vikram (PS)
38’ – IND Singh, Rajpal (FG)
Penalty Corners: CAN 6 – IND 2