WNT Reports

Slatyer snatches draw

Slatyer snatches draw for Matildas | Credit: Joseph Mayers
Slatyer snatches draw for Matildas | Credit: Joseph Mayers

A last gasp equaliser from Thea Slatyer ended New Zealand’s hopes of breaking an 18-year winless record against the Westfield Matildas.

An early second half goal from striker Hayley Moorwood opened the scoring following a strong period of dominance from the New Zealand side.

But with time running out for the Westfield Matildas, Slatyer broke Football Ferns’ hearts in the 93rd minute when she powered home an Ellyse Perry corner to make it 1-1 in the final moments of play.

Westfield Matildas coach Tom Sermanni handed debuts to Melbourne Victory pair Ashley Brown and Stephanie Catley, along with Newcastle Jets midfielder Alanna Kennedy in a relatively inexperienced side.

Following a nervous start to the match the Westfield Matildas were given minimal chance to set the agenda as New Zealand pressed hard and allowed the Aussies no room to play.

An early lob from New Zealand’s Amber Hearn caught Westfield Matildas captain Melissa Barbieri off her line and the goalkeeper could only watch and hope as the ball sailed toward the goal, hitting the top corner of the post before falling safely wide.

The half struggled to come alive until local star Caitlin Foord began to take control of play with five minutes remaining in the half.

A surging run from midfield and some neat interplay with striker Sarah Walsh saw Australia’s first real opportunity on goal but the young Lake Illawarra product couldn’t find the angle to beat the Jenny Bindon’s goal, only finding the side netting.

The second half again saw New Zealand make the stronger start with a high pressing game that continued to put the Westfield Matildas under pressure.

A 50th minute Anna Green cross from the left drifted into the box with the Westfield Matildas defence unable to deal with the ball.

Hayley Moorwood was first to react and, using her torso, put the ball past a wrong footed Barbieri to take the lead.

Sermanni brought on Catherine Cannuli in the 54th minute to give Australia a more attacking set up which proved vital as the midfield creator began to pick out balls and open up play for the Aussie team.

The game started to come alive in the 64th minute with Foord again in the thick of it.

A period of strong possession lead to Australia having several players inside the New Zealand penalty area but with the Football Ferns flooding back in support, Foord lost her initial chance and turned away from goal with the ball being temporarily cleared by the feisty Kiwis.

Stephanie Catley was on hand and quickly regained possession before taking off down the left and putting in an early cross that was cleared into the path of Kennedy whose first time effort rocketed just wide of the goal.

New Zealand again took control with a series of corners but could not find a weakness in the Westfield Matildas defence.

Straight up the other end and a perfect through ball from Cannuli put Walsh in a one-on-one chance with Bindon but the usually potent striker couldn’t quite get the connection on the ball to put Australia level.

The introduction of Ellyse Perry saw Australia’s attacking threat from set pieces improve and from a corner Laura Alleway rose highest to power a header down but couldn’t beat the New Zealand keeper.

Alleway was again in the action when a Stephanie Catley cross from the right found her at the near post with Bindon pulling off an impressive save to keep New Zealand in front.

The 90th minute came alive with Player of the Match Catley at one end blocking a certain goal with Barbieri taken out of play on the corner of her area.

Immediately the ball was down the other end with Foord unlucky to put her effort over the bar after some tenacious work by young debutant Hayley Raso.

Raso and fellow Canberra United debutant Georgia Yeoman-Dale quickly became a menace for the New Zealand defence and began creating a much larger threat on Bindon’s goal.

Perry was again in the action putting Raso through on goal with her strike bringing Bindon to full stretch to push the ball wide of the goal.

The resulting corner, expertly whipped in by Perry, found Westfield Matildas veteran Thea Slatyer at the back post whose powering header found the back of the New Zealand net depriving the Football Ferns of their first win on Australian shores in 21 years.

“To be honest I’m over the moon,” said Westfield Matildas coach Tom Sermanni.

“We came into this match with limited preparation, limited experience and another vastly different squad of players.

“In saying that though our girls did extremely well under pressure from a team coming off nine matches already this year and who are on their way to the Olympics.

“Full credit to the New Zealand team who came out today with a high pressing game and came to win.

“Five of our players were on debut today and I can say I’m very satisfied with the manner in which they played. The majority of the team we started with on the park tonight were under 20 years of age which bodes well for where we’re headed.”

Westfield Matildas 1 (Thea Slatyer 90’+3)
New Zealand         1

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