8 Jun 2016

Ferns clinch draw against Australia

7:44 am on 8 June 2016

The Football Ferns have missed out on a golden opportunity to beat Australia for the first time in over 20 years after drawing 1-1 in Melbourne last night.

Football Ferns goal-scorer Sarah Gregorius

Football Ferns goal-scorer Sarah Gregorius Photo: Photosport

The last time New Zealand beat Australia was 27 years ago and a 63rd minute goal from Katie Bowen put the Ferns on track to end that drought.

However New Zealand taking the lead kick-started the Matildas into life and they responded when Lisa De Vanna hit a fine shot across the face of goal to beat Kiwi keeper Erin Nayler in the 72 minute.

It was somewhat against the run of play as the Ferns had dominated the possession and shots on goal for long periods.

Australia, who won the opening game at Ballarat 2-0, were not the same outfit as the Kiwis black wall of defence pressed them high up the pitch and into a number of errors.

The best chance of the opening 45 minutes came in the 36th minute when skipper Abby Erceg delivered a delightful flick on for striker Amber Hearn to have an open look at goal but she couldn't get a touch.

The Ferns kept coming and midfielder Annalie Longo, who was a constant threat all night on her searching runs, found Hannah Wilkinson in space but the striker could not beat the keeper.

The visitors went into the sheds knowing that they had the better of the first half but had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard. Coach Tony Readings made two changes at half-time bringing on super substitutes Betsy Hassett and Sarah Gregorious. Both made an immediate impact in the middle third and the Ferns intensity went up a level.

The Ferns had a plethora of chances - in the 54th minute Erceg hit the bar with a thundering header and Gregorious also had a strike hit the wood work a minute later - before Bowen made her chance count.

Last night's match was the final international fixture for the Ferns before competing at the Rio Olympics in August.