June 20, 2013
AUCKLAND – The Football Ferns came back from a goal behind to claim a spirited draw against World Champions Japan last night at a rain soaked Best Amenity Stadium in Tosu.
Annalie Longo came off the bench to strike a memorable equaliser after a confident and convincing display looked set to be unrewarded despite the Football Ferns dominating possession and creating several chances.
Coach Tony Readings made one change to the team that started against Australia with Yallop coming in for Longo in midfield. The team continued from their fine performances against Australia with a bright and confident start. Hassett in particular was pressing the Japan defence high up the pitch and forcing early errors.
It wasn’t to be long before Japan came into the game and after 15 minutes started applying pressure and looking to break through the New Zealand back line. It was this quick movement that led to the opening goal on 21 minutes. A well worked ball down the right hand side led to space for a delightful cross across the six yard area that Ogimi tucked away leaving Naylor no chance in goal.
The goal gave Japan confidence and went close again with another dangerous ball into the area picking out a clever run from Miyama with the final shot going just over the bar.
Weathering the storm the Football Ferns kept calm and started to build again with the excellent Percival striking a low shot on 33 minutes that was parried by the keeper and Hearn straining to get to the rebound.
The game changed on the stroke of half time with Japan captain Aya Miyama sent off for two bookable offences. Harsh it may have been but it gave the advantage to the Football Ferns for the second half.
Looking to press this advantage early in the second half New Zealand started brightly, keeping possession and stretching the play well. The equaliser almost came straight away with the impressive Wilkinson controlling well on the edge of the area before swivelling quickly and volleying the ball against the crossbar. It was a moment of individual brilliance that deserved a goal.
With Hassett busy in midfield, Erceg calm at the back and Percival a threat on the right it wasn’t until the introduction of Longo that the equaliser finally came on 83 minutes. Some good work from Gregorius freed Percival on the right and as she raced to the by-line crossed the ball back towards the six yard box where Longo was waiting to smash the ball home to give the Football Ferns a well earned draw against the World Champions.
Japan 1 (Ogimi 21’)
New Zealand 1 (Longo 83’)
Best Amenity Stadium ,Tosu
Football Ferns: Erin NAYLOR (GK), Ria PERCIVAL, Katie HOYLE, Rebekah STOTT, Abby ERCEG (c), Ali RILEY, Amber HEARN, Sarah GREGORIUS, YALLOP (LONGO 65’), Betsy HASSETT, Hannah WILKINSON (COLLINS 83’)
Subs Not Used: Megan LEE, Anna GREEN, Jenny BINDON (GK), Sarah MCLAUGHLIN, Katie BOWEN, Holly PATTERSON, Rosie WHITE
Coach: Tony READINGS