There is an old saying in sport that winning is a great habit to get into and no doubt Tom Sermanni will be saying that to his Westfield Matildas, after their 2-1 victory over New Zealand in Gosford on Sunday.
They have now gone 17 games unbeaten and there is obviously a great belief amongst the team. Credit must be given to Sermanni for injecting new young players into the team, and so far they have all stepped up and seized the opportunities given to them.
This game was the Matildas’ last in Australia before heading off to the World Cup on June 14th, and news that Lisa de Vanna had been stepped down from the squad could easily have affected the team, but they started well. Catherine Cannuli opened the scoring with a header in just the ninth minute.
However New Zealand fought back and in truth dominated the game, with Ali Riley and Rosie White standing out. In the 27th minute they were rewarded for their endeavour, when Hannah Wilkinson nut-megged Melissa Barbieri to pull the Football Ferns level.
Tameka Butt who worked tirelessly for the Matildas won what turned out to be a crucial free kick for Australia in the 54th minute. Up stepped Collette MacCullum who curled a wonderful left foot strike into the bottom left hand corner of Jenny Bindon’s goal, with the keeper left a mere spectator.
There was no doubt the team was far from cohesive, but with 8 changes from the one that had beaten the same opposition 3-0 on Thursday, it was an extremely positive result, and will no doubt give Sermanni food for thought as he now finalises his squad for the World Cup.
In the meantime he intends to work on the girls match fitness before their opening game on June 29 against Brazil