Australia and New Zealand shared the honours in the second of their three match under-17 international series in Canberra playing out a 0-0 draw in blustery conditions at the AIS.
Australia and New Zealand shared the honours in the second of their three match under-17 international series in Canberra playing out a 0-0 draw in blustery conditions at the AIS. The result was perhaps the right one as both sides cancelled each other out in key areas of the pitch with chances for both at a premium as a result.
Heading into the fixture having won the first match 2-1 played last Sunday, an unofficial training match, the hosts were in a confident mood and the opening half did little to dispel that confidence as Australia had the better of possession and created the only two half chances of a forty-five minute spell that was played mostly in midfield.
Jessica Waterhouse was a standout for Australia in this area, controlling the ball and dictating the pace at which her team was playing, with some neat touches and some composed distribution. Her midfield partner, Alexandra Chidiac, prompted with some effect as well but it was Waterhouse who got into position to curl a shot just wide of Kiwi goalkeeper Emily Hanrahan's right hand post in the 26th minute.
New Zealand's bustling centre forward Martine Puketapu was their main threat up front but it was the performances of central defensive pairing Elizabeth Anton and Hanna English that caught the eye for the visitors with both showing calmness in possession that belied their tender years.
The second half offered more of an attacking impetus from both teams with Australia making a trio of half-time substitutions that injected more pace and a direct approach in the final third. It was one of the replacements who managed to get the ball in the net three minutes after the resumption as Sunny Franco spectacularly connected with a Waterhouse free-kick to loop a volley over Hanrahan and into the top corner. Australian celebrations were cut short though by an offside flag.
Franco was causing mischief with her timely runs behind the defence and after collecting a pass from Emily Henderson might have done better than shoot straight at Hanrahan. Chidiac then hit the side netting from the angle as Australia looked for the decisive goal.
It wasn't all one-way traffic by any means and New Zealand created chances of their own in the second stanza, most notably when substitute Emily Oosterhoff tricked her marker and crossed low into the penalty box only for Jade Parris to scuff the opportunity wide of the post from close range.
That was the last meaningful attack of the match as the final whistle blew on an entertaining goalless draw that sets up the third fixture between the countries, at the AIS Athletics Track on Saturday afternoon, quite nicely.
After the match Australian coach Belinda Wilson was philosophical on the result. "I was pleased with our possession and the chance we created, but was unhappy with the final result. I was especially disappointed after reviewing the video footage of the offside call."
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