The Kids Are Alright: Junior Matildas v Palestine

Ok, so welcome to “The Kids Are Alright”, where I’ll be watching and analysing some Young Matildas matches from the comfort of my own bedroom, streaming the match through the Matildas website on my trusty ipad (cause that doesn’t freeze like my laptop does), whilst the AFC U16 Women’s Championship Qualifiers are played out in Kazakhstan. Bonus for these games, is the time difference works out a mint, meaning I get to watch these games at dinner time more or less. Anyway, I’m using this as somewhat a testing ground to try a couple things before the W-League season is upon us (which is real soon guys, can’t wait!). So sit back, relax and check out how the youngsters are going.

 

The Tactics

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In case the early goal wasn’t enough, Palestine came out from the gates with a five player defence, plus a compact and narrow midfield, with barely an attacking player in sight, signalling the Matildas were going to be seeing plenty of the ball, but would be up against a brick wall. A lack of midfield control for Palestine, combined with the inability to clear and hold the ball up further up the pitch, meant the Matildas were in the driver’s seat. The rare times the Palestinians moved the ball out, the Matildas defence were more than capable of winning the ball back and putting the pressure back on straight away.

Playing a 4-3-3 and seeing so much of the ball in attack, meant the back four of the defence was always going to adjust. Instead of playing the wide, overlapping fullbacks tradition often dictates, the Matildas gunned for pushing the fullbacks up the field, but narrowly. With their defensive midfielder sitting deep, in the space away from Palestine’s parked bus, the midfield wasn’t crowded with the additions of the fullbacks. Meanwhile the two wide forwards stuck to the line, finding what little space there was on the park the wider they were.

The narrowness of the Palestine midfield and the Matildas ability to overload this area, meant the order of the game had to be play out on the wings. On a few occasions we were able to work some combinations through the guts of the field it came out looking either magnificent, the ball would be turned over too quickly or impatience itched at the feet of the ball carrier and a shot fired. Rather than be patient and build play through the centre though, often the decision from the midfield was to blast a shot from range. To be able to play through congested midfields is a quality that needs to be developed if any of Australia’s youth sides look to contest with the big dogs of Asian youth football of Japan, China and the Koreas.

Despite defending the entire match, Palestine maintained a well disciplined line, only dropping super, super deep towards the end of the game. Having a forward on the last player for the Matildas here was always a bit of a gamble with the offside flag. However during the first half this was successful and looked dangerous, allowing for some opportunities to play more directly than relying only on the flanks allows. The second half proved more difficult from this angle, as another body in the centre of defence cut off supply and forced the play wide. Nonetheless, having a player on the last line of defence, especially a goal hungry poacher as Georgia Beaumont looks, is clever.

One last thing. Short corners. Who wants them? The first half saw a few, and guess what happened. A whole bucket of nothing and resulted in turning the ball over. Second half comes with no short corners and two goals from the back of it. Corners aren’t rocket science. Just don’t hit them short when you’ve got someone capable of pummelling it into the mixer.

 

The Goals

2” Opening up the account early, a long range effort smashes the crossbar, to be tidied up and placed into the back of the net by Beaumont, as the goalkeeper looked on thinking “what the flip” (probably)

11” A free kick at the top of the D, taken by Nia Stamatopoulos, who did a rendition of bend it like Beckham, even if these kids are too young to remember a time of Beckham playing at United or Madrid.

22” An absolute peach of a goal by Alana Jancevski, whose first touch, left footed touch was only ever going to wind up in the back of the net.

39” Make that two by Stamatopoulos, whose trekkers saw her beat a diving goalkeeper and the tight angle of no challenge, as she sunk that sucker to the back post.

46” Stamatopoulos made scoring look easy this half, getting her hat trick before the end of it. Tracking back to win a challenge in the midfield, earning some space and hitting a pearler, chipping the keeper from 30 yards out.

Half Time Matildas 5 – 0 Palestine

57” Having pumped the ball back into the mixer after the initial ball was cleared from a corner, Isabella Wallhead stood up strong, won the ball and found the back of the net as the keeper couldn’t get a touch to punch the ball away.

65” The crosses from the right flank start coming, and Beaumont gets her second. Didn’t matter there were three defenders around her, timing the run right, Beaumont got the scoring touch on the ball.

82” Finally seeing the light of banning short corners, Wallhead was able to find a second, squatting down at the back post to put her head on the ball, placing it into the open net.

88” A mess and impromptu juggling session from Palestine’s goalkeeper, sees Charlie Farmer claim a goal after setting a shot off inside the mixer.

93” Space down the right flank again, sees a quality cross coming in, pinpoint onto Anna Hunts head, who is unmarked and nods it into her near side of the goal.

94” Order up, another cross in from the right flank for Hunt to place into the back of the net. With a near enough carbon copy of barely a minute before. Instead of a header, this one was a low cross and shot, but still, unmarked at the back post and composed finish sees the scoring wrapped up.

Full Time Matildas 11 – 0 Palestine

 

The Final Wrap-Up

Essentially a walk in the park by the finish. It’s difficult to complain about anything when a team can put away 11 goals with no reply.  Breaking apart a side set on parking the bus can be patient and difficult work, so putting eleven into the back of the net is a successful evening no matter how much domination of possession you’ve got. By the second half, we really bombed down the right flank. Is our right winger left footed? If you know please let me know, cause she’s got a good left boot and was able to cut in often, absolute quality. Another quality aspect of this performance was our hunger to win the ball the moment Palestine were looking to get forward, case in point being Stamatopoulos’ third goal. Those quick turn overs to win possession back allowed the Matildas to remain in control, with a Palestine break never truly looking likely.

Next Up

Matildas v Indonesia – 5pm Wednesday 19th September

Kyrgyz Republic v Matildas – 9pm Friday 21st September

Westfield Junior Matildas v Chinese Taipei – 5pm Sunday 23rd September

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