by Kieran Yap (7/7/22).
Thailand 2-2 Australia U23
Above: Amy Sayer (19) focuses on the ball during Australia’s game with Thailand on Wednesday. Photo: AFC Asian Cup.
If you are a Matildas fan, you know that Thailand are not to be taken lightly. In January, the two senior teams met at the Asian Cup. Australia fought out a 2-1 win, but it brought back flashbacks of the notorious 2018 meeting. That Asian Cup semi-final was determined by penalties, and only following a late Alanna Kennedy equalizer.
Thailand has sent their senior squad to the AFF Championships in Manilla. So it would be a point of interest to see if how the Under 23 Matildas would fare against an opponent that historically matches Australia.
Chelsie Dawber came into the line-up, replacing Princess Ibini who was rested after playing in both friendlies in Europe a fortnight ago.
Dawber’s impact at centre forward was obvious early. Her quick control and pass helped provide the opening chance. Amy Sayer was slipped through by the Chicago Red Star and finished with one-touch beyond the goalkeeper.
Australia had hit the scoreboard early against Thailand for the first time in years. Seven minutes of play had passed.
Mel Andreatta’s team soon had a second goal. Abby Lemon’s surging run up the left and after a few step-overs she cut into the box and was brought down to win a penalty.
Mackenzie Hawkesby, stepped up to convert and make it 2-0 in the 25th minute.
Before half time, Thailand pulled one back. With five minutes left, a hopeful ball forward was lofted out of defence. The Australian keeper was outside the box and positioned to come out to clear, but Kanyanat Chetthabutr skilfully lobbed Whyman as she scrambled back.
With the result in the balance, both teams went on the attack. Sheridan Gallagher had a good chance to extend Australia’s lead but her shot skipped agonizingly wide of the post.
Thailand’s eventual equaliser was spectacular. Ploychompoo Somnonk received the ball 30 yards from goal. There seemed to be no danger as Australian defenders got quickly behind the ball. She took a touch and sent a rocket of a shot into the top corner to beat Whyman again.
Both sides looked for an equaliser, but despite Australia going close with an end-to-end move that finished with an Ibini cross, the game ended level. Australia’s representative squad was held to a draw by the 2018 tournament winners.
It was a bright start for Australia’s Under 23’s that was foiled by a sensational goal, but they have their first point of the tournament. Captain Charli Grant was on the end of a bruising challenge in the second half, and with less than 48 hours before the next match, Australian fans will hope that there was no injury.
Australia’s representative squad meets Indonesia on Friday evening at 6pm AEST.
Teams: AUSTRALIA: Whyman, McNamara, Rankin, Hunter, Heatley, Grant, Hawkesby, Gallagher, Sayer, Lemon, Dawber.
Scorers: Sayer 18′, Hawkesby (pen) 26′.
THAILAND: Thongmongkol, Saenkhun, Philawan, Utchai, Somneuk, Panyosuk, Rodthong, Pram-Nak, Pengngam, Waenngoen, Chetthabutr.
Scorers: Chetthabutr 41′, Somneuk 60′.
Referee: Bui Thi Thu Trang.