In contrast to the previous games yesterday’s encounter was a tight, tense game with few clear cut chances and defenders on top from the start. With the series tied at one each neither team wanted to lose the deciding game, leading to a cautious game.
Coach Aaron McFarland knew it was going to be a tight game after the openness of the two previous encounters.
“It was what we were hoping for actually. We wanted a really good challenge from Australia and they provided that for us. The previous game should have been tighter,” McFarland said, looking for a performance in response to the 4-0 loss at Kiwitea Street on Saturday afternoon.
After an exciting cameo appearance on Saturday, Jasmine Pereira was rewarded with her first start of the series, along with starts for Chloe Knott, Emily Jensen and Megan Lee. The changes throughout the three-match series were planned to give each player an opportunity to impress.
“We wanted to give them the opportunity to show what they’ve got at international level,” McFarland said.
The match had few clear cut chances with Australia perhaps carving out the best of them in a five minute spell in the second half, with Alisha Bass in particular having a couple of shots that were comfortably saved by Lily Alfeld in goal for New Zealand.
The Junior Football Ferns also had their half chances. Megan Lee slalomed through the Australian defence but dragged her shot wide and Emma Rolston had several sights on goal but unable to get past Mackenzie Arnold in the Australian goal.
It was a flurry of pressure just before half time where the Junior Football Ferns had their best opportunity. Pereira put in a dangerous ball in the box that was well cleared by Australia, which was swiftly followed by a dipping shot by Rolston which Arnold did well to tip over.
The second half followed the first with a few half chances for each side, and substitutions and injuries disrupting the flow of the game.
Despite a rush of free kicks for the Junior Football Ferns in injury time no winner was to be found and the game ended 0-0 and the series 1-1, with New Zealand having won the first match 2-1.
In terms of the three-match series McFarland feels that the team achieved the goals they set themselves.
“We look back at the goals at the start of the campaign and we’ve achieved those. In terms of getting international minutes for many of the players, getting international exposure, trying to develop a possession based style of play and for the players to exhibit their playing personalities on the international stage so we’re really happy to hit all of those goals.”
Although results matter it was more the performances that McFarland was keen to look back on.
“It could have been that we won all those games but played poorly and then we wouldn’t have been happy. We’ve learnt a lot of things from the week together on and off the field.”
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