BOTN

Women's International Football Series
New Zealand (Football Ferns) vs Australia (Matildas)


(Football Ferns and Matildas, North Sydney 2008 - Photo BOTN archive)

New Zealand 0 - Australia 3

New Zealand 0 - Australia 3

Clinical Matildas Hold Off Much-Improved Ferns

Report by Jeremy Ruane
with the compliments of
www.sportswebsoccer.com

Bill McKinlay Park, Auckland 3pm, Saturday 20 February, 2010

New Zealand 0 lost to
Australia 3 (Heather Garriock 37', Lisa De Vanna 49', Leena Khamis 84')

Crowd:

The Matildas' ability to mercilessly punish errors was at the heart of their 3-0 triumph over a vastly improved Football Ferns combination at Bill McKinlay Park on February 20, a match watched by a decent crowd on a gloriously sunny Auckland afternoon.

The Football Ferns fielded four changes to the side which produced such a rusty effort at North Harbour Stadium three days prior, and matched their Australian counterparts stride for stride during long spells of this clash, in which the levels of passion and pride on show across the park couldn't be faulted.

But the West Islanders continue to hold the upper hand in this storied series, extending to twenty their winning sequence over New Zealand in this match, the first incident in which saw Anna-Marie Keighley marking her international refereeing debut by taking a tumble just five minutes into it - not the most auspicious of starts on the world stage, but at least she saw the funny side of the incident.

Two minutes later, a timely Kristy Hill tackle thwarted Clare Polkinghorne in the act of shooting, after Servet Uzunlar and Lisa De Vanna had combined to slip their team-mate through the inside-right channel.

After Jenny Bindon had grabbed a De Vanna drive, and Anna Green had headed narrowly past her own post in dealing with a dangerous Collette McCallum free-kick, the Football Ferns fullback let rip a teasing seventeenth minute cross-shot which Australian custodian Lydia Williams - one of three changes in the Matildas' line-up - grabbed greedily under her crossbar.

Three minutes later, the Football Ferns were opened up down their left by the pace of De Vanna, who swept past Abby Erceg on receipt of a McCallum pass before the combined efforts of Green and the recovering central defender forced the striker to check her run and lay the ball back for Kathryn Gill.

The beanpole striker was looking up at the sky seconds later, then towards the referee in vain hope of a free-kick. Never in a million years, lass - when Hill cleans you out with one of her trademark uncompromising, bone-jarring, ball-n-all tackles, you take your medicine and suffer in silence.

It was a challenge which galvanised the Football Ferns? resolve, and none too gently reminded the Matildas that a twentieth successive victory over their old foes was by no means a fait accompli.

After Bindon had easily dealt with a mistimed Kyah Simon volley, Hill and Green combined to unleash Amber Hearn down the left on the half-hour. The powerful number nine had the back-pedalling Uzunlar twisting this way and that as she surged goalwards, but the defender stood her ground well and was able to block the striker's twenty-five yard drive to safety.

Seconds later, a Kirsty Yallop free-kick gave Williams cause for concern, but the 'keeper, upon grabbing the ball, promptly sent De Vanna spearing downfield on the counter-attack, her pace eventually thwarted just outside New Zealand's penalty area by Green's covering challenge.

Back came the Football Ferns, a delightful 32nd minute raid in which the hard-working Rosie White combined with Ria Percival and captain for the day Ali Riley - this a rare venture on Kiwi soil for the US-born-and-based professional - to produce a scintillating interchange of passes which culminated in a cross from Riley.

Hearn, rising in between three defenders, deftly headed the ball across and into the stride of the versatile and vivacious Hannah Wall, whose vibrant performance deserved a goal. She came within a yard of getting it on this occasion, her rising twenty-yarder flashing past Williams' right-hand post.

Eight minutes before half-time, Australia were awarded a free-kick just outside the area which McCallum curled over the wall and towards Bindon's top left-hand corner. The 'keeper tipped the shot onto the crossbar, but the defenders in front of her reacted far too ponderously to the rebound, unlike De Vanna, whose touch invited Heather Garriock to mark her 115th appearance in green and gold with a goal from six yards out.

The goal stunned the home team, and the visitors looked to swiftly build on their advantage. Five minutes before half-time, Garriock, Gill and McCallum combined to put the Kiwis under pressure, with Green's attempt to head clear only diverting the ball into De Vanna's stride.

Hill stepped in to avert the danger, but another Australian raid, on the stroke of half-time, had consequences of an unwanted nature for the Football Ferns, with McCallum crudely taking out Percival, who cried out in pain as she took a blow to the knee from which she has only just returned to action following injury.

After treatment, she returned to the fray, but her first attempt to kick the ball - the last of the half, as it happened - suggested that all was not as it should be, and she was replaced by Annalie Longo for the second half.

A second half which started in the worst possible manner for the Football Ferns, as they yielded the game's second goal. Uzunlar's hopeful ball forward was allowed to bounce by the hesitant Erceg, and De Vanna stole in on the defender's blindside to pounce, lobbing the sphere over the stranded figure of Bindon to double Australia's lead.

The home team reeled, and were dealt a second blow two minutes later when referee Keighley ignored claims for a stonewall penalty. White sent Longo spearing into the penalty area, where she looked to turn the ball inside her, where Hearn was arriving on cue.

Half-time substitute Sally Shipard had other ideas, however, swatting the ball away with her arm and promptly clearing the ball as it fell to her advantage. Longo and her team-mates instantly appealed for a spot-kick, their unified cries embellished by the instant roar of the crowd as they witnessed the injustice.

Those roars turned to howls of disbelief as the referee waved play on - what a goal from the penalty spot would have done for the Football Ferns' confidence and self-belief at that stage in the game we can only but wonder.

At least their work on employing the offside trap was paying off - the Australians were caught almost constantly throughout the second half as the back four more often than not timed things to perfection to thwart the pace of De Vanna and Simon, both of whom paid the ultimate price for their repeated failings on the hour mark - ruthless Matildas coach Tom Sermanni does not stand on ceremony when his charges under-perform.

One of their replacements, Tameka Butt, made an instant impact upon her introduction, getting in behind the covering figure of Erceg to send a low cross fizzing across the face of goal, eight minutes before Garriock warmed the gloves of Bindon with a shot arising from the creativity of Uzunlar and the other front-running replacement, Samantha Kerr.

In between times, Katie Hoyle, who was much more like her usual tenacious self in this match, played the ball forward to the much-improved Yallop, whose deft turn unhinged an opponent before a measured cross-field pass picked out Wall in space on the right. The youngster dashed inside and let fly, only to see a deflection take the sting from her shot and make life far easier for Williams than had threatened to be the case.

Seventeen minutes from time, Wall's corner was headed out by Shipard to substitute Betsy Hassett, whose shot through the crowd flew straight at Williams. Two minutes later, the Football Ferns were in again, this time thanks to the enterprise of White.

The reigning Oceania Women's Player of the Year caught Lauren Colthorpe napping just outside her penalty area, and the striker instantly looked to exploit the opportunity, dashing across field before linking with Yallop.

Her slide-rule pass rewarded Riley's run down the left, the weight on the ball allowing the flying fullback to whip in a first-time cross on the run to the near post, where Longo was arriving on cue. It was a difficult opportunity to volley goalwards, and the youngster?s attempt saw the sphere slice through the air a yard wide of the target.

After Bindon had smothered an effort from Kerr, ever-willing Kiwi substitute Emma Kete surged through the middle nine minutes from time and was about to pull the trigger when Shipard stopped her in her tracks. White gathered the loose ball but was unable to direct an effort on target from the most acute of angles.

Several players succumbed to cramp in the latter stages of the match, with the uneven playing surface doubtless contributing to their plight. The state of the pitch was an issue of considerable concern before the match - a great shame for the hosting University-Mt. Wellington club, who have made considerable efforts to improve their facilities generally, but really need to install an artificial surface if those efforts are to prove worthwhile.

One of those to succumb was Yallop, and while both she and Erceg - for a cut - were receiving treatment on the sideline six minutes from time, the Matildas capitalised on the confusion in the temporarily short-handed Football Ferns line-up to conclude the scoring.

Kylie Ledbrook and Garriock combined to get in behind Hill on the left, and the cross to the far post found substitute Leena Khamis completely unmarked to head home one of the easiest goals she'll ever score - 3-0.

It was particularly hard on the home team, whose performance certainly wasn't reflected in the scoreline. Indeed, they twice went close to reducing the deficit before the final whistle.

Hassett won the ball in midfield and squared it to Yallop in the 86th minute. Her last act of the match - she was soon to be replaced by Hannah Wilkinson - saw her reward Riley's rampaging run down the left with another pass into the acting captain's stride. Her teasing cross-shot crept inches past the far post - desperately unlucky!

After Butt had fired across the face of goal following a through ball from Kerr, powerful running by Wilkinson gave the Matildas a new threat to deal with late in the match, with Uzunlar utilising impeding tactics to hinder the striker's progress. The youngster kept on coming, however, forcing Williams to race out and save at the feet of both front-runner and defender in stoppage time.

Of which there was plenty, given the numerous replacements and injury treatments during the half. Five minutes after the scheduled finish time, they were still at it, with the home team hot on attack.

Wall's corner wasn't cleared, and Wilkinson, in the ensuing scramble, drilled a shot through the gathered throngs which Ledbrook cleared off the line. The ball struck the arm of a defender and ricocheted into Williams? hands, prompting further penalty appeals.

Again, referee Keighley was unmoved, this time with justification, and soon after blew the final whistle to conclude a match in which the Football Ferns' much improved effort bodes well for their pending Cyprus Cup conquest. But they again failed to end the Matildas' continued dominance of this fixture - they haven't lost to their trans-tasman rivals since October 1994.

The Westfield Matildas, will now meet North Korea (DPR) for two international friendly matches in Brisbane on the 3rd and 6th of March.

SQUADS:

NEW ZEALAND: 1. Jenny BINDON (gk), 2. Ria PERCIVAL (10. Annalie LONGO +46'), 3. Anna GREEN (12. Betsy HASSETT +57'), 4. Katie HOYLE, 5. Abby ERCEG, 7. Ali RILEY (c), 9. Amber HEARN (16. Emma KETE +77'), 11. Kirsty YALLOP (17. Hannah WILKINSON +87'), 14. Rosie WHITE, 15. Hannah WALL, 18. Kristy HILL
Subs not used: 13. Bridgette ARMSTRONG, 20. Aroon CLANSEY (GK)

Cards: Ria PERCIVAL

Coach: John Heardman

AUSTRALIA: 18. Lydia WILLIAMS (gk), 4. Clare POLKINGHORNE (10. Kylie LEDBROOK +68'), 5. Lauren COLTHORPE (Aivi LUIK +75'), 6. Servet UZUNLAR, 7. Heather GARRIOCK, 11. Lisa DE VANNA (24. Tameka BUTT +58'), 12. Kathryn GILL (19. Leena KHAMIS +75'), 14. Collette MCCALLUM (c), 16. Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT, 17. Kyah SIMON (22. Samantha KERR +58'), 23. Kim CARROLL (15. Sally SHIPARD +45')
Subs not used: 1. Melissa Barbieri (rgk)

Cards: Lauren COLTHORPE, Lisa DE VANNA

Coach: Tom Sermani

Referee: (NZ) - Rating: 5/10

Best players: 3. Collette McCallum (Aus), 2. Hannah Wall (NZ), 1. Rosie White (NZ)

Game ratings: 7/10
Pitch rating: 3/10


Marauding Matildas Flatter Flat Ferns

Report by Jeremy Ruane
with the compliments of
www.sportswebsoccer.com

North Harbour Stadium, Albany, Auckland 7pm, Wednesday 17 February, 2010

New Zealand 0 lost to
Australia 3 (Sarah Walsh 23',52', Lisa De Vanna 84')

Crowd: 1,853

New Zealand's Football Ferns produced one of their flattest performances in many a moon at North Harbour Stadium on February 17, and Australia's Matildas took full advantage to record a 3-0 win - which flattered their trans-Tasman rivals.

But for some outstanding goalkeeping from Jenny Bindon, the Matildas could well have doubled that margin of victory in front of 1,853 paying spectators, who were hoping to see the Football Ferns score a first win in nineteen games against the old enemy in what was just their 25th game on home turf.

Instead, they were left feeling as flat and disappointed as the Football Ferns performed. And therein lies the nub - as a team, they didn't!

Bindon, Bridgette Armstrong - she marked her first start with a top performance, Hannah Wall, and debutant Hannah Wilkinson, who gave her all in a display rich in raw potential, were the only members of the starting line-up to satisfy the standards expected of them.

Their efforts were bolstered by the introduction of substitutes Rosie White and Annalie Longo, who both added some much-needed dynamism to a side which, given this rare chance to play on home soil, never really got going.

Far too many of the side's senior outfield players failed to do justice to the shirt they usually wear with passion aplenty, and duly produce performances to match. Not today.

Captain Hayley Moorwood, Katie Hoyle, Amber Hearn and US-based Betsy Hassett all looked short of recent match-play - in the case of the last-mentioned, that's no surprise, given this was her first game back since suffering a broken leg nearly a year ago.

Last year's Lion Foundation National Women's League affords the other trio no such excuse. However, one of the star turns in that competition, Kirsty Yallop, was muscled off the ball more often in this match than happens in an entire calendar year!

As for Abby Erceg and Ria Percival, she of the heavily strapped leg, they had a collective nightmare on the right-hand side of the Football Ferns' rearguard, so much so that all three goals scored by the Matildas stemmed from exploiting the inconsistencies so often in evidence on that flank.

Yes, this was not the Football Ferns' finest hour-and-a-half, not by a long chalk! In fact, it reminds this writer so much of the inglorious first clash between these countries in the 2007 series, when the Matildas prevailed 6-0 in Canberra. Then, as now, dissatisfaction abounds.

Australia, as a team, hadn't played an international since Italy mauled them 5-1 a year ago. But they were made to look good on this occasion by a Football Ferns team which was far too often guilty of gifting possession to their opponents - the number of times they failed to deliver accurate, quality passes, particularly in their own half of the pitch.

They struggled to contain the pace of Lisa De Vanna, too, the striker first exploding down the left in a fifth minute run from half-way into the penalty area before taking on one Football Fern too many. Bindon mopped up in her usual calm, accomplished manner.

The home team responded nine minutes later with one of their few raids of note in the entire match. Bindon gathered a cross and threw the ball out to Percival, whose lobbed ball inside found Yallop in rare space. She guided her header into the path of Wilkinson, who took on a defender and got the better of her, but shot early and wide of the near post.

There was little between the teams in the first twenty minutes, which was when the Matildas first unleashed their greatest threat, the ability to counter-attack at pace. Captain Melissa Barbieri ventured out towards the edge of her penalty area to powerfully punch clear a Percival free-kick, and it instantly sent Heather Garriock hurtling forward.

It needed all of Percival's recovering powers to thwart the 114-times-capped Australian veteran, albeit at the expense of a corner, which saw Garriock pick out the head of Thea Slatyer. Bindon made the resulting save seem easy - like picking a plum off a tree!

She hadn't a prayer in the 24th minute, however, as Erceg, as is so often her wont, dallied near the edge of her penalty area, and paid the price for her ponderous play. Garriock caught the defender in possession, and instantly pinged the ball across the box and beyond the fast-retreating figure of Wall. Arriving on cue was Sarah Walsh, who fair smashed a ten-yard volley into the top far corner of the net to open the scoring.

That strike silenced the crowd, but they perked up on the half-hour as Percival powered down the right and delivered an inviting cross towards the far post, where Hassett was arriving on cue. Clare Polkinghorne, who had a fine game in midfield, tracked her opponent's run well, and was perfectly placed to head clear.

New Zealand's lack of genuine attacking penetration meant Barbieri and company had little to concern themselves with for much of the match. Indeed, they were doing it comfortably long before the end of the first half, with only a superb save by Bindon prevented the visitors from doubling their advantage eight minutes before the break.

Collette McCallum, making her fiftieth appearance for the Matildas, curled in a free-kick from the left-hand edge of the penalty area which the 'keeper, at full stretch diving low to her right, managed to paw away. Garriock outmuscled Percival in getting to the rebound before cutting in and letting rip a cross-shot - Bindon once more made things look easy.

The second half was mere seconds old when World Cup Finals-bound referee Mike Hester wielded the yellow card for the second time in the match, Moorwood's ill-timed lunge earning her a booking, joining the 44th minute entry for Erceg's display of dissent.

The Football Ferns rightly copped an earful from coach John Herdman at half-time, and looked to respond in the 52nd minute. Wilkinson scampered down the right and fired in a cross which arced narrowly over Hearn's head. Hoyle, hovering, gathered the loose ball and fired in a cross towards Wall.

It never reached her, due to the diving headed clearance of Polkinghorne, who directed the ball to Walsh. The striker instantly stormed downfield, continuing her run even after laying the ball off the McCallum, who, in turn, found Garriock and, beyond her, De Vanna.

This sweeping move from right to left was afforded a quite superb finish, with De Vanna, having raced clear of the covering defence, clipping a cross into the near post where Walsh was arriving on cue. She opened her body and deftly flicked the ball beyond the wrong-footed Bindon - a quality strike.

And one which knocked the stuffing out of the Football Ferns, for a few minutes at least. Cue the twin introductions of Longo and White, and with their arrival, some much-needed vim and vigour, dynamism and desperation, attributes which had been sorely lacking in too many for too long.

They made an impact, as did Armstrong on Kathryn Gill, the Matildas' beanpole striker, who went straight down the tunnel nursing an injury when she hobbled off in the 66th minute, having been done an absolute treat by the youngster, whose lack of fear against the 'old enemy' reflected the best traditions of her football-steeped pedigree.

Sitting on a 2-0 lead against opponents who didn't even force a corner, let alone trouble Barbieri unduly, the marauding nature of the Matildas took over in the final twenty minutes, counter-attacking at pace every time a promising Football Ferns move broke down due to final ball failings.

More often than not, the visitors outnumbered their hastily retreating opponents as they swept downfield, such as in the 73rd minute, when substitute Samantha Kerr should have done an awful lot better when played through by De Vanna.

The duo reversed roles two minutes later - yet another stray pass inside their own half compromised the home team's creativity - but this time it was De Vanna who was guilty of spurning the chance, shooting straight at Bindon, who was called upon again six minutes later to deny Kerr, after De Vanna had done Erceg a treat as she tormented her way down the left.

In between times, the Matildas should certainly have increased their advantage in the 76th minute, the moment Erceg and Percival reached their collective nadir in this match. Both said 'Yours' to each other as they attempted to deal with a situation near the edge of their penalty area, to which De Vanna gleefully replied 'Thanks' as she stormed between them onto the loose ball, and surged to the by-line.

Her low cross was missed by substitute Leena Khamis, but Kerr gathered the loose ball and edged past Armstrong near the by-line before pulling the ball back for her fellow replacement. Cue an air-shot, much to New Zealand's relief.

The goal De Vanna deserved materialised six minutes from time, and oozed quality in its finish. Again, it stemmed from a clearance from a promising Football Ferns raid which instantly sent the Matildas marauding downfield once more, Garriock - a top game - leading the charge.

With options left and right as four green-and-gold-clad opponents bore down on three white-clad rivals, she opted for De Vanna, who powered into the penalty area before unleashing a tight-angled shot at Bindon. The 'keeper parried it, but the rebound sat up perfectly for the Australian, who executed the most deft of chips to beat Bindon all ends up, not to mention those who had beat a hasty retreat towards the goal-line.

3-0, game all but over, although a further twist of the knife was at hand. Before it, Longo's sweeping ball wide rewarded Percival's forward thrust, and she picked out White lurking near the edge of the penalty area. She evaded one challenge, but was buffeted once too often as she looked to shoot on the turn, and never made clean contact.

Nor did Moorwood in the ninetieth minute, at least, not with the ball. But her ill-timed tackle was to prove costly, referee Hester wielding his yellow card, then the dreaded red one - the first time in her career New Zealand's captain had seen the hue at first hand. Sympathetic applause rang out as she ran down the tunnel, but the tears were hers alone.

Stoppage time saves by Bindon prevented both Khamis and Elise Kellond-Knight adding to Australia's 3-0 advantage, one which extended their winning streak against Oceania's champions to nineteen matches, although a scoreline more akin to that early 2007 match would have better reflected their advantage.

Incidentally, that series was also a two-match affair, and the Football Ferns produced a performance far more in keeping with the passion and pride this writer has come to expect from New Zealand's national women's team over the last quarter of a century in the second encounter.

They didn't deserve to suffer a 1-0 reversal in that Waitangi Day match, so impressively did they perform. The Matildas know they dodged a bullet that day - hopefully they will be less evasive when these foes meet again at Bill McKinlay Park from 3pm on Saturday.

SQUADS:

NEW ZEALAND: 1. Jenny BINDON (gk), 2. Ria PERCIVAL, 5. Abby ERCEG, 13. Bridgette ARMSTRONG, 15. Hannah WALL (16. Emma KETE +75'), 4. Katie HOYLE (3. Anna GREEN +67'), 12. Betsy HASSETT (10. Annalie LONGO +57'), 8. Hayley MOORWOOD (c), 11. Kirsty YALLOP, 9. Amber HEARN, 17. Hannah WILKINSON (14.Rosie WHITE +57')
Subs not used: 18. Kristy HILL, 20. Aroon CLANSEY (rgk)

Cards: Erceg YC 44', Moorwood YC 46', RC 90'

Coach: John Heardman

AUSTRALIA: 1. Melissa BARBIERI (gk) (c), 4. Clare POLKINGHORNE (10. Kylie LEDBROOK +76'), 5. Lauren COLTHORPE, 6. Servet UZUNLAR, 7. Heather GARRIOCK, 9. Sarah WALSH (22. Samantha KERR +65'), 11. Lisa DE VANNA, 12. Kathryn GILL (19. Leena KHAMIS +65'), 13. Thea SLATYER (15. Sally SHIPARD +45'), 14. Collette MCCALLUM (27. Aivi LUIK +71'), 16. Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT
Subs not used: 17. Kyah Simon, 18. Lydia Williams (rgk), 23. Kim Carroll, 24. Tameka Butt

Cards: De Vanna YC 90'

Coach: Tom Sermani

Referee: Mike Hester (NZ) - Rating: 6/10

Best players: 3. Lisa De Vanna (Aus), 2. Jenny Bindon (NZ), 1. Heather Garriock (Aus)

Game ratings: 6/10
Pitch rating: 8/10


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