Steph Catley at left-back, Kyah Simon up front. It's not unusual and it certainly doesn't take a genius, but for too many reasons to count this hasn't been the Matildas set up for what feels like a lifetime.

At times since, we've paid the price. Simon's presence up front - her deadly sense of poise and experience - settles the players around her. We were playing a high-tempo, quick pass and move rotational strategy in the forward third much more effectively tonight than we have usually under Ante Milicic. 

Simon holds the ball excellently and her ability to either release at the right moment or shoot under pressure, almost never losing possession, is a massively underrated attribute in a striker.

We'll be the first to admit, there were a few question marks over the veteran's inclusion, despite her absences being injury related, due to the plethora of young Matildas knocking at that door.

But Milicic's confidence has paid off and to see him egging on her every touch from the sideline...well, it was heartwarming.

Catley's presence at fullback was similarly engrossing. She allowed Chloe Logarzo so much freedom in front of her, in general, her combinations with Caitlin Foord are mouth-watering. We have suffered from the attacking qualities of our fullbacks, especially when Catley was filling in at centrehalf. There was no sign of any susceptibility on the wings tonight.

At the risk of rambling too long in this section, we want to quickly throw Katrina Gorry in here as well. Again, her experience made the difference in timing those release passes.

There are still problems, don't get us wrong. Taiwan were weak tonight by any measure. But you can only beat who's in front of you and we bloody belted them tonight.


We guess the next question, after such a dominant, fluid performance where every addition seemed to flow even more perfectly than the next, is how do you bring the world's greatest striker into this?

The 'problem' is that this Matildas squad sans-Kerr is actually a formidably well-balanced unit. Yes, Foord's a focal point of sorts, but she happily plays under the radar. Simon was happy to take on that main striker role, Hayley Raso was just as explosive on the breaks.

It helps the Matildas to have that natural democratisation of the forward third, where anyone is essentially as dangerous as the next. Bring Kerr, the captain, into that line and it unsettles that a little.

It's nitpicking sure, but we've seen it happen between Foord and Kerr in the past, where against a well-organised defensive opponent, too many cooks spoil the broth.

Tonight, the secret appeared to be allowing Kerr to take up as free a role as possible. Within two minutes before Kerr's goal, the striker had bombed down the right flank to send in a cross, then seemed to immediately appear open on the left.

As she and her forward teammates play with and against the world's best tactical set-ups in Europe, another level above Australia and the USA, we can begin to expect more from our Matildas.

We already have an impressively fluid attacking line, credit to the enormity of caps between them. Now, we should begin to witness that natural understanding mature into a wider range of systematic combinations.


It's easy to pick apart a single moment over a 90 minute match, lose context, and read too much into a loss of concentration.

Lydia Williams' mix-up with Clare Polkinghorne was more of a wince than a shriek and it comes from a goalkeeper who has been performing very strongly in the W-League this season, putting rest to the fears over her match-fitness that have plagued Australia for some time now.

It was, essentially, a flash in the pan. However if we had to pick one player that the Matildas missed most tonight, we'd be looking at Alanna Kennedy.

She plays two fundamental roles for the national team: she's our most astute defensive playmaker and our most confident assuring centreback. She's a natural leader, she talks, she yells.

Jenna McCormick is solid and obviously very promising, yet inexperienced and thus, unspectacular. Polkinghorne, while demonstrable and rock solid, lacks that dynamism and attacking impetus.

Less clear is the emerging fullback challenge.

It was interesting to see how Karly Roestbakken performed tonight, at the exclusion of Ellie Carpenter. We benefitted from the balance that Roestbakken added, playing a more restrained, organised fullback role.

This allowed Emily van Egmond and Caitlin Foord to work their magic on our right side and build dangerously through the middle, as we focused more on recycling narrow attacks than bombing forward on the counter.

Simultaneously, we missed Carpenter's pace in defending counter-attacks such as the two that led to Taiwan's greatest chances of the match. Food for thought for Milicic, but boy is it an excellent problem to have.