A 10.30pm kick off. You’ve got to love them because one of the alternatives is a 3am kick off and that’s not good for anyone! Anyhow, the kids got to encounter the host nation, who really needed a win to bag them qualification to the next stage. To hear the “aussie aussie aussie” chant through the stream was so much fun, and one of the few times I’ll let it be ok to pull out that uncreative chant. A three nil win here, thanks to a special second half performance, meaning this side has gone through two rounds of qualification both undefeated and without conceding a goal. Their parents would be happy with all those clean sheets.
Ok, so I’ve got work this morning, so I’m going to try keep this short and sweet. Here’s three things from the match.
DEFENCE. It was a tough day in the office being under the pump for large spells of the match as Laos really were chasing something out of the match. They were both their own best friend and worst enemy. At times too casual on the ball meant they got caught out, like eating a pre-meal before the meal, only to realise the main meal is massive and everyone’s wondering why you’re not smashing down as much food as normal. Despite making extra work of it, the defence held up tight. Finally our old goalkeeper, so isolated and counting the stars previous matches, had her opportunity to get touches on the ball here. Despite some “oh my giddy aunt, what’s she doing so far from her line” moments, she was super solid and controlled everything that was thrown her way with confidence. Meanwhile the front line in front of her did consistently proved their metal without the ball, never appearing to jump in super quickly, waiting for support before committing a tackle and winning some good challenges along the way. Laos did get some opportunities, but when they got in behind our keeper was quick to deal with it, and when they were playing in front of the defence, Laos were shut out of the box, unable to get any real purchase on a goal scoring opportunity.
HALF TIME TALKS. A first half where the Matildas were flat, kept giving away cheap turnovers and just didn’t look up for it. It seemed destined that this side would succumb to their first draw, and very likely loss. However, something clicked in the dressing room at half time and suddenly it was as if the incentive of Mars Bars for the winner was on the line. The turnaround was sharp. Early signs in the second half brought the hope of smelling a roast in the oven. The opening goal was like getting to bite into those delicious roast potatoes. Suddenly our passes were actually landing at players feet, unlike the first half where they looked disjointed or playing the old faithful, unsuccessful “hit and hope” card. Really I’m pretty certain the turnaround was to make sure us Aussies tuning in would remain on the line to watch past midnight. To go from a first half representing the shambles that is burnt toast, to some of the beautiful play in the second half was special. We proved in the second half we deserve to qualify to the next stage. It was quality.
Oh and also, was Beaumont on in the first half? I’m unsure if she was subbed on at half time or just went missing for the first half, but she changed the game the second. To have a forward on the last line of defence, who moves around and creates the runs and space she does is class. Going from a really flat-footed first half up front, where they didn’t look near to getting any of the through balls, to really looking threatening in that area in the second is a mighty shift. I’ve loved watching Beaumont the past two tournaments, a super clever centre forward who is composed in front of goal. Every good side needs a quality number nine, that’s Beaumont for this team.
LOWRY’S THROUGH BALL. This deserves it’s own point. To open the scoring, Lowry had the ball on the left flank, saw Beaumont making an arched run to get in behind the defence, whilst remaining on side, and gave us the assist all there was left to do was yell “oh damn”. It was placed to perfection, the arc on the ball meant it was always going to land in the path of Beaumont smoothly, beating the defence and going nowhere near the one coming goalkeeper. The other goals were equally good. Lowry getting a goal of her own at the back post and McKenna burying a penalty, despite having to wait for a substitution while lining up for it.
Photos again taken by Jen Willmott. Thanks mate.