The Matildas’ preparations for the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 have started in impressive fashion following a highly encouraging 2-1 win over Korea DPR in their international tri series match in Auckland on Tuesday afternoon.
Defender Clare Polkinghorne gave the Westfield Matildas an 11th minute lead in a frenetic opening against the seventh ranked women’s football nation in the world, timing her run from a corner and thumping a volley into the back of the net from close range.
Korea DPR hit back courtesy of Kim Yun Mi three minutes later but Michelle Heyman restored Australia’s advantage after some fine link up play from Elise Kellond-Knight and Canberra United’s Westfield W-League Grand Final hero Ashleigh Sykes.
Forced to defend gallantly as Korea DPR went in search of an equaliser, the Westfield Matildas held firm to record a confidence building victory in their first match since last year’s AFC Women’s Asian Cup Final.
Coach Alen Stajcic was delighted with the result and the performance, particularly considering a number of players were making their first appearance at international level or returning after a substantial time out of the national setup.
“It was a great effort," Stajcic said.
"We grinded it out towards the end when we were under pressure but it was a tremendous effort.
“The resilience and hard work was a stand out, there were some match winning moments throughout the game and the work rate, intensity and desire to chase back and defend the result was brilliant.
“There were four or five players either debuting for the national team or returning to the fold after time out of it so there were a lot of players playing for their spot and they all did really well. To have a lot of new players battle it out and get a result against a world class team was outstanding.”
The Westfield Matildas will now turn their focus to their match against the Football Ferns (New Zealand’s Women’s Team) on Thursday 12 February 2015 (Kick-Off 7pm local, 5pm AEDT).
Korea DPR 1 (Kim Yun Mi 14’)
Westfield Matildas 2 (Polkinghorne 11’, Heyman 37’)
@ Bill McKinlay Park, Auckland
Westfield Matildas starting line-up: Brianna Davey (gk), Servet Uzunlar, Hayley Crawford (Danielle Brogan), Clare Polkinghorne, Stephanie Catley (Caitlin Foord), Elise Kellond-Knight (Teresa Polias), Katrina Gorry (Alanna Kennedy), Nicola Bolger, Michelle Heyman (Kyah Simon), Ashleigh Sykes (Lisa De Vanna), Larissa Crummer