This is why we need Clare Wheeler

This article should read “the best team won”. The USWNT totally outclassed us in the first half and the Matildas still remained on the back foot and looked deflated during the second half.

Instead. Wheeler finally got subbed on with five minutes to go. She was hungry for the ball. Determined to win it, she put pressure on a USWNT midfielder and that was the spark. 

Kyah Simon shot from range, it ricocheted off Sauerbrunn and BOOM. An equaliser out of nowhere.

Horan thought she had scored the winner in extra time, but the dreaded offside flag denied her.

I’ve not done a “the good, the bad” wrap for a while. So let’s bring it back for this second and final game.

The Good

Somehow, somehow the Matildas didn’t concede more. There was luck, an offside flag and several last ditch challenges. But somehow the floodgates didn’t open. A miracle.

Whilst the football purest in me is conflicted on the result, the fan and media parts of me know this result is for the better of our game. It’ll take the heat down just a notch. For the layman, hearing the Matildas drew 1-all against the world champions is far nicer than hearing the Matildas lost 3-nil BUT.

The other good? We’ll talk about Courtney Nevin and Clare Wheeler real soon.

The Bad

It was a difficult match to watch. The first half was pure chaos. The second half was somewhat more organised but still a shocker.

Midfield organisation sold out our backline faster than unattended popcorn takes to burn in the microwave. It was less organised than my sock draw and I love a good odd sock collection. 

Close your eyes Kyra Cooney-Cross lovers please.

Cooney-Cross and Emily Van Egmond are too similar to be playing as a double pivot protecting a three back line. Or a shifting four backline, whatever it may have been throughout the game. Both cruise at their own pace and lack the tenacity a more defensive midfielder has.

No doubt the duo will do wonders creatively against weaker opponents. Heck there’s an argument they’re perhaps the starting midfield in the Asian Cup group stage. But going further? There needs to be more of an engine and organisation there. 

Too often Lavelle or Horan would win the ball and have literally yards to take the ball to. Simply not good enough.

Clare F***ing Wheeler and Courtney Bloody Nevin

In the words of Tony Gustavvson, it was Courtney Nevin’s coming of age today. She had an absolute ripper. 

Nevin stood up and had a phenomenal match under extreme pressure. Determined is a word that can be thrown around without much meaning, but let me expand on that. There were times Nevin was beaten. Fair dinkum. But she didn’t give up, instead acting like a pest, nipping at heels. 

Previously she had been giving away dodgy fouls, but this time was different. Using every bit of her experience, it shone through with a number of last ditch efforts. 

Nevin was player of the match. Anyone who thinks otherwise needs to go to specsavers.

And Wheeler?

Five minutes on the field and she’s the game winner. There’s a whole bandwagon of us who think so. Once again Wheeler showed she is playing well beyond her years and experience.

She was the game changer.

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