The Football Ferns were struck by a sense of déjà vu overnight as they again competed well with an accomplished Scotland outfit but fell to a 2-0 loss – the same outcome they had experienced in the first instalment of the two-match tour over the weekend.
The New Zealand line-up took to the field at the Pinatar Football Arena with hopes high they could notch a more positive result this time and were greeted by more pleasant conditions, the rain being replaced by some brilliant Spanish sunshine.
But the disposition of coach Andreas Heraf was not as sunny by the full-time whistle as he witnessed his side show plenty of promise but again leave empty handed. As in the first match between the pair, one goal was scored in either half and it was a familiar foe that put Scotland ahead in the form of Jane Ross, who had done likewise just a couple of days earlier.
The periods either side of half-time proved to be match defining as the 40th-minute strike from Ross was followed soon after the interval by a Fiona Brown goal. It was a deficit the Ferns could not claw back but, regardless of the result, it was a notable occasion for several members of the squad.
With CJ Bott and Betsy Hassett both ruled out through injury, former captain Abby Erceg made her keenly-anticipated return to the heart of the Football Ferns defence while Anna Green earned just her second start in the past six matches as midfielder Annalie Longo moved to the bench. She was joined there by Emma Rolston, who entered the fray late on to make her debut for the Football Ferns.
The tweaks in personnel nearly paid off in the opening half hour as the Ferns rode out a bright start from Scotland before Ria Percival threatened with a strike from distance that fizzed narrowly wide in the 14th minute. Ali Riley, who retained the captain’s armband despite the return of Erceg, also went close on 26 minutes after breaking into the box and drawing a fine save from Scottish custodian Lee Alexander.
The ball was in the net at the other end just a few moments later but Scotland captain Rachel Corsie was adjudged to have committed a foul and her strike was ruled out. Her side would not be denied for much longer though as Ross tucked in a low cross from Brown to break the deadlock and the latter then got herself on the scoresheet with an outstanding solo effort, darting down the wing before cutting inside and finding the corner.
With the majority of the second half still to play, the Football Ferns had plenty of time to launch a comeback but nearly found themselves three down moments later, goalkeeper Erin Nayler needing to be at her best to deny Erin Cuthbert in a one-on-one situation.
In an attempt to find more potency, Heraf had replaced Green with striker Katie Rood at half-time and he continued with his attacking mindset after conceding the second goal. Stephanie Skilton was introduced on the hour while Longo joined the action 10 minutes later and Rolston came on for her first cap with a few minutes remaining.
But they could not supply the goals to salvage something from the game as Heraf was left to reflect on a second consecutive 2-0 loss. Despite both results not going in the Ferns’ favour, the tour will have been a hugely valuable exercise for Heraf, who relished the chance to bring his players together as the squad works towards the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
New Zealand 0
Scotland 2 (Jane Ross 40’, Fiona Brown 48’)
New Zealand: 1. Erin Nayler (GK) (23. Victoria Esson (GK)), 2. Ria Percival, 3. Anna Green (22. Katie Rood 46’), 5. Meikayla Moore, 6. Rebekah Stott, 7. Ali Riley, 9. Amber Hearn (29. Emma Rolston 89’), 11. Sarah Gregorius, 14. Katie Bowen (10. Annalie Longo 70’), 16. Olivia Chance (27. Stephanie Skilton 59’), 19. Abby Erceg
Substitutes not used: 17. Hannah Wilkinson, 20. Malia Steinmetz, 21. Anna Leat (GK), 25. Liz Anton
Coach: Andreas Heraf