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Slick Jamaica down battling All Whites

Published: 10:24PM Wednesday February 29, 2012 Source: ONE Sport

Jamaica fought off a late All White fightback to claim a 3-2 win in an entertaining, free flowing game at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland.

It was New Zealand's last match before World Cup Qualifying begins and despite conceeding three goals, coach Ricki Herbert is likely to pull the positives from a performance where his young side showed glimpses of what the future holds.

The Kiwis were never able to recover after a freak Jamaican opener was doubled early in the second half and despite a late comeback, paid for some wasted opportunities and sloppy defending.

Chris Wood and Marco Rojas - two-thirds of New Zealand's exciting Under 23 strikeforce - combined to fire back immediately following Jamaica's second, linking up delightfully before Wood smashed the ball past Jamaican keeper Dwayne Miller.

But the difference in the two sides was the quality of finishing and Jamaica effectively killed the match off in the 77th minute when Navian Boyd found room on the right following a brisk counter-attack to smash his shot in off the far post.

Substitute Chris Killen pulled one back for the Kiwis in the 88th minute which set up an exciting end to the match cheered on by 15,000 vocal spectators.

But a late Tommy Smith header refused to fall in, and the All Whites were left to rue a match in which their young side paid the price for being sloppy defensively, and not clinical enough in front of goal against international opposition.

Herbert stressed pre-match that the result was not the most important thing and will be happy with the performances of his attacking trio.

But defensively New Zealand did not look the rock solid combination that went unbeaten at the FIFA World Cup, and they appeared like a backline that had been thrown together the day before a game.

Should New Zealand win the Oceania Nations Cup in June, as expected, they will face the fourth ranked side from the CONCACAF federation in a home and away qualifier to reach the FIFA World Cup.

Jamaica currently hold that position and this match will have given Herbert a real taste of what New Zealand are likely to be up against.