Australia 0-1 Scotland
Report by Nathan Edwards at Plough Lane for Impetus.
EXCLUSIVE photography from Hannah Parnell (7/4/23)
Above: Australia goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold punches clear during the Matildas clash with Scotland at Wimbledon today. Photo: Hannah Parnell for Impetus.
Nicola Docherty scored the only goal of the game to clinch the win for Scotland in today’s friendly at AFC Wimbledon’s Plough Lane stadium.
After a succession of chances to close out the first half that weren’t taken, Docherty opened the second half by bending a strike past Matildas goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold.
Australia mustered little in front of goal until the deficit and when they did, they struggled to turn their efforts on target.
Upon the defeat, Matildas head coach Tony Gustavsson said, “We have now looked at the individuals of the roster of the 23 players and see where we have the depth.
“We had a great opportunity for some of the players to get an opportunity today, and we learned a lot about our individuals and as a team in terms of our play style and how we want to play.”
With Australia missing six key players and Sam Kerr remaining on the bench, the game took until the second half to really open up.
Scotland had three occasions where they could have taken the lead, with two chances falling to Martha Thomas in quick succession. Both her opportunities were in similar positions, with Thomas unable to direct her first shot either side of Arnold, and her second was sent wildly over the bar.
Ellie Carpenter, back after her ACL injury, was making her first appearance for the Matildas since April 2022, had to make a crucial block to deny Emma Watson’s goalward shot. The Scot had an impressive debut.
Talking about the 17-year-olds performance, Scotland boss Pedro Martinez Losa said, “I think the most important thing was about the team, and what players and characters will help the team in any circumstances.
“Emma was very impressive with her performance in the last week, so at some point you want to see and hear how she is responding during camp, and in the three sessions we have had we decided she should play.”
The warning signs given to Australia were not dealt with, as early in the second half Docherty’s looping shot dipped just over Arnold’s glove to clip the post as it went in.
The Matildas fell behind without registering a shot on target, but after Docherty’s goal, Australia delivered their best spell of the game.
Cortnee Vine found space in Scotland’s backline to unleash a shot that came off the crossbar, and Lee Gibson would quickly be tested for the first time in the match.
Carpenter played through Hayley Raso, who after a decent touch was quickly smothered by Gibson as she got her shot away.
Australia continued to push, with Clare Hunt arrowing a shot from distance off the crossbar but space opened up in the game for Claire Emslie to find Thomas who prodded wide.
Scotland continued to break when given the opportunity. Caroline Weir, who was managed well throughout the game, carved the opportunity for Kirsty Hanson, to be denied by Arnold’s strong hand.
Scotland managed to keep Australia at bay, but with the World Cup looming Gustavsson will be looking for a response after a first defeat in seven games. Their next opportunity comes on Tuesday night against European champions England.
Teams: AUSTRALIA: Arnold, Polkinghorne, Vine, Fowler, Raso, Gorry, Carpenter, Grant, Cooney-Cross, Crummer, Hunt. Substitutes used: Nevin (for Carpenter 62′), Yallop (for Raso 82′), Chidiac (for Crummer 62′).
SCOTLAND: Gibson, Docherty, Mukandi, Howard, Brown, Kerr, Weir, Hanson, Watson, Emslie, Thomas. Substitutes used: Davidson (for Emslie 66′), Cornet (for Watson 66′), Napier (for Hanson 78′), Hay (for Thomas 87′).
Scorer: Docherty 47′.