This match is summarised by perhaps one of my most favourite terms in football commentary. Are you ready for it??
It was a game of two halves.
And oh boy was it. The play from both teams drastically shifted between the two halves. Where the Matildas were met with congestion around the ball, being unable to move it fast enough to really find the gaps like previous games this tournament in the first half, the second saw a side confident on the ball, transitioning quickly to utilise the gaps and playing more direct to break down the Kyrgyz side. In an impressive first half display, Kyrgyz were able to hold the Matildas to three goals in the first half due to their midfield dynamism and content with playing the long ball, moving up the pitch quickly off the transition. Unable to be nearly as disciplined in the second half, with tired legs and renewed efforts from the Australians, Kyrgyzstan were unable to build from the mammoth effort they put in before the half.
The second half proved to be a masterclass by the young side. Working hard off transitions, to ensure that pesky Kyrgyz midfield couldn’t get back fast enough to eat up all the space, meant the Matildas could actually find the space that was such a valuable commodity in the first half. By increasing the intensity, endorsing a quicker passing game and simply going more direct, determined to find the space in front of goal, even against the super tight, compact back four of Kyrgyzstan, meant goals were much easier to find in this half.
Absolute credit to the side and coaching staff for the second half performance. Seeing a game they would likely win no matter the style, but deciding to shift at the half to really stamp their authority on the game, really suggests class and brings a sense of exciting possibilities as this age group develops and builds from here.
Our crossing game has been quality. In a tough fought first half, it was our ability to cross the ball in from wide, and to find space in the box off the back of this, that created our three goals of the half.
For lengths of the first half, finding space was just a no go. Everytime an Australian player had the ball, there was pressure immediately, often with two, three or even four players around. In defence we failed to move the ball fast enough, often getting caught out and having to actually make the defenders work for the first time this tournament, due to Kyrgyzstan’s quick press.
Playing up against a dynamic midfield looked a struggle. Kyrgyzstan’s ability to compact space by having a midfielder shift deeper or further up depending on where the ball was, plus having the midfield and defensive lines so close to each other in defence, was quality by the home side. This forced the Matildas to not play their game in the first half, rather reactively try to force the situation, unable to be patient enough in the first half to really work the ball and find the gaps.
Despite the slow start to the match, this side were still able to crack home 10 goals. That’s impressive, especially when you look at the stats of 32 goals in three games, none conceded. A dream start to wearing the green and gold for any 16 year old.
Two players earned their hat tricks, in Paige Zois and Josie Morley. Zois’ hat trick coming in the space of 10 minutes in the second half, producing some spectacular goals amongst them. One on 63 minutes being a cracker of a strike 30 yards out to chip the goalkeeper, to then produce a swerving free kick, in a hold my drink moment to round off her three goals (not a hold my beer moment, these guys are too young for that type of drink).
Two goals for Morley in the first half, both from receiving the ball inside the box and knowing how to find the back of the net was rounded off on 84 minutes with a poachers goal, after Kyrgyzstan’s keeper pulled out a stunning save, to push the ball into the freight train that was Morley in getting into the mixer ready for the rebound.
The rest of the Matildas goals:
Alana Jancevski found space, unmarked in the box for her goal on the 32nd minute.
Jordan Jasnos gets credit here for the messiest goal of the game, a goalkeeper fumble allowing the ball to land over the goal line.
Tijan McKenna got one from the spot, in a practice makes perfect take of the kick, blasting the ball into the net.
There was one other goal scorer, but without access to a team sheet, nor the ability to find who scored it on Twitter, the player who scored is nameless, but did come as a result of the second ball from a failed short corner, hitting the ball into the back of the net, somehow getting the ball through the bodies around the box.
Westfield Junior Matildas v Chinese Taipei – 5pm Sunday 23rd September