The Matildas have recorded a 1-1 draw with England at Craven Cottage to end their European tour on a positive note.
The Lionesses were the better of the two teams for majority of the match and, if not for some questionable refereeing decisions, could have had at least three goals.
In the opening 20 minutes, England had the bulk of the chances with clean passing and smart runs abounding.
The Lionesses looked hungry and dangerous, entering the box repeatedly and catching out the Australian defence regularly. England could have led early on if not for some wayward shots and some last ditch defending.
However, it was two poor Australian touches that allowed England to go ahead. Steph Catley’s back pass was poor and Mackenzie Arnold’s attempted clearance was poorer.
Beth Mead pounced on the loose ball and played it square to Fran Kirby whose intelligent turn fooled the oncoming Ellie Carpenter before she buried it from close range.
The Lionesses could have gone into the half time break with a sizable lead if not for some contentious decisions going the way of Australia.
Just past the half hour mark, Mackenzie Arnold was forced into a double save with the ball looking like it may have crossed the line.
No goal line technology or VAR meant the decision was left to the referee. Despite the protests of Mead, who was standing right over the ball and Arnold, and adamant it had crossed, the referee did not agree.
In the 44th minute, England found the back of the net through Lucy Staniforth with the Matildas being saved by the raised flag of the assistant referee. However, replays suggested that no one was offside throughout the England move.
An injury time penalty shout at the end of the half after Caitlin Foord fouled Mead in the box was also waved off to ensure Australia was only down by a goal at the break.
The second half saw Australia work its way into the game. The likes of Princess Ibini and Amy Sayer – who had been brought into the starting XI in place of Kyah Simon and Larissa Crummer following the France game – showed plenty of promise.
It was Ibini who had the Matildas best chance of the game up to that point. Lisa De Vanna’s little through ball found Ibini after a great diagonal run behind the defenders but couldn’t be converted.
While Australia still looked nowhere near its best, England was unable to add to its lead.
In the 84th minute, following a solid period of more promising play for the Matildas, Carpenter had a moment of individual brilliance, beginning and ending Australia’s best chance. The 18-year-old was denied what would have been a great goal by a top shelf save from Mary Earps.
The resulting corner was taken by Elise Kellond-Knight who in her 100th appearance for the Matildas found the head of Clare Polkinghorne for an unlikely equaliser.
Both teams will continue to prepare for the World Cup next year with England taking on Sweden in November while the Matildas will host Chile on home soil in a two game series.