Despite a strong showing in their first game of 2014, the Football Ferns were beaten 1-0 by hosts China in the opening match of the Yongchuan International Women’s Invitational Tournament on Tuesday.
After a scoreless opening 45 minutes, China struck the decisive goal mid-way through the second half with Tony Readings’ Football Ferns unable to find the goal required to get back on level terms.
Readings said soon after the match he was satisfied with how the side went about their work, setting aside the 1-0 result.
“We are pretty happy with the performance, we dominated possession and China had a plan to sit deep and counter attack,” Readings said.
“It was a game of few chances. On another day we might have won that game comfortably but we didn’t create enough chances to go on and win today.”
Having consistently improved their work in possession of the ball in recent times, Tuesday’s match gave Readings a good indication of where the next progression must come as the Football Ferns continue their drive towards the top 10 sides in the world and higher.
“We do push teams back for long periods now and it’s a credit to our players that it was their strategy. It’s a good thing for us as we’ve got to learn new ways of breaking teams down.
“We’re keeping the ball really well. Now we’ve just got to add that variety in the way we can hurt teams.
“As we evolve the team between now and the World Cup and the Olympics, mixing up our game is something we need to get better at because we’ll be facing different styles against top sides at the big events.”
Readings highlighted the work of New Zealand U-20 player Megan Lee, starting her first match for the Football Ferns while fellow fullback Ria Percival and midfielder Katie Hoyle also enjoyed strong outings with and without the ball.
The Football Ferns’ next match of the tournament is on Thursday 13 February against 10th ranked Korea DPR. The match kicks off at 10pm (NZ time).
Women’s Invitational Tournament – China
New Zealand 0
New Zealand: 1. Erin Nayler (GK), 2. Ria Percival, 4. Katie Hoyle, 5. Abby Erceg (capt), 6. Rebekah Stott, 9. Amber Hearn, 10. Sarah Gregorius, 11. Kirsty Yallop, 12. Betsy Hassett, 20. Helen Collins, 26. Megan Lee
Substitutes: 3. CJ Bott, 13. Rosie White, 15. Meikayla Moore, 16. Annalie Longo, 17. Hannah Wilkinson, 18. Katie Bowen, 19. Evie Millynn, 21. Rebecca Rolls (GK)