A new-look New Zealand A women’s team came home strong to defeat a determined Thailand side 2-0 at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland on Saturday.
Midfielder Kate Loye opened the scoring in the 50th minute when she hammered home a left foot strike into the top right corner to give the home team the advantage and they controlled the match from there. Rosie White put the game to bed in the last minutes when she produced a fine touch and turn to score from a volley.
New Zealand Football Ferns coach Tony Readings, who singled out midfielder Annalie Longo as the game’s outstanding individual, said his team improved as the game went on.
“It was pretty satisfactory,” he said.
“This is not a team that plays together much. We grew into the game. We started pretty poorly but in the second half we were good and deserved our win. They did have a couple of chances which our goalkeeper dealt with well. In general, we deserved to win.”
New Zealand’s closest attempt in the first half was off a set piece from Anna Green. She found Erceg at the far post from a well-directed corner kick but the skipper could not convert the early chance.
Thailand, who were defensively sound and dangerous on the counterattack, had two gilt-edged goal scoring opportunities – both to Kanjana Sung-Ngoen – but she couldn’t convert.
The right winger found space on the outside of Green after 28 minutes but NZ A goalkeeper Anna Leat saved the one-on-one.
Sung-Ngoen had a second attempt 12 minutes later off a through-ball from Pitsamai Sornsai but she could not find the target from inside the box.
After the break Readings brought on Jasmine Pereira for Aimee Phillips and the home side began to attack with better shape and more patience.
Loye found space in the middle of the park and hit a great strike from 25 yards out which best the keeper in the top right corner. It was a great moment for the midfielder in her first taste of football at this level.
“It was a good goal,” Readings said.
“I don’t think she could have hit it any better and the keeper had no chance really. We had a couple of chances from that range that went over the bar so to see that one find the top corner was good. That goal settled us down.”
After the goal, the game opened up at both ends of the pitch. New Zealand had an ideal chance through Martine Puketapu in the 64th minute. A high looping ball found the forward in front of goal but she could not bring it under control. Paige Satchell also went one-on-one with the goalkeeper but could not finish.
White’s decisive strike in the closing moments ensured the young Ferns side made a winning start against a quality Thailand team.
“The second goal from Rosie was a great finish,” Readings said.
“She should be happy with that.”
New Zealand A will look to back up this result on Tuesday night when they play Thailand again at Fred Taylor Park in Whenuapai.
Story courtesy of New Zealand Football