Matildas see off New Zealand in series opener
The Matildas have scrapped together a 2-0 win over a well-organised New Zealand team, in the first of their three-game series being played at Stockland Park on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
The Matildas have scrapped together a 2-0 win over a well-organised New Zealand team, in the first of their three-game series being played at Stockland Park on Queensland-s Sunshine Coast.
Played in a strong southerly wind, Australia managed a goal either side of half time from Sarah Walsh (16th minute) and Jo Burgess in the 54th minute.
Australia ran into a strong headwind in the first half, but with the first real chance of the match, Walsh, playing her 50th game for Australia, pounced on an errant pass from the goalkeeper to finish clinically from the edge of the box.
The home side continued to control possession well, but the final ball into the penalty area, was more than often astray.
Right on half time, Heather Garriock almost managed a second goal for Australia, but saw her close range effort cleared off the line.
Australia with the wind at their backs started positively in the second half, with Clare Polkinghorne sending a header just wide in the 47th minute, while a shot two minutes later hit the post and came back to as grateful NZ keeper.
The pressure finally counted on the scoreboard, when Walsh played a great ball to Burgess, who struck a firm shot from 20 metres on a slight angle that gave the keeper no chance.
Garriock almost made it 3-0 in the 63rd minute, with a solid header that hit the crossbar and saw another header go over the bar 13 minutes later.
Australian goalkeeper Lydia Williams was largely a spectator throughout and her first save didn-t come until 10 minutes from the end, saving a long range effort comfortably.
Coach Tom Sermanni was reasonably pleased with the effort, considering it was the first time the squad has been together since last year-s FIFA Women-s World Cup in September.
“I-m pleased with result considering the adjustments we had to make to our team,” Sermanni said. “We are missing several regular and experienced players and it was our first competitive match since the World Cup.
“It was always going to be difficult against a well organised and focused NZ team, who have made considerable improvement since we last met in July last year.”
Australia 2 (Sarah Walsh 16-, Jo Burgess 54-) New Zealand 0
Matildas starting line-up: Lydia Williams (gk); Clare Polkinghorne, Karla Reuter ( Lyndsay Glohe 63-), Cheryl Salisbury, Amber Neilson, Heather Garriock, Caitlin Munoz, Sarah Walsh, Collette McCallum, Sally Shipard, Jo Burgess (Amy Chapman 60-) Subs not used: Melissa Barbieri (gk); Vicki Balomenos Lisa De Vanna, Kate Gill, Tameka Butt, Elise Kellond-Knight, Renee Rollason
Cautions: Garriock (58-)