Australia met South Africa for the first time in an International Friendly hosted at the Kingsmeadow Stadium in Kingston, to a crowd of 1417. With The Matilda’s share of goals from Cortnee Vine, Clare Polkinghorne and Caitlin Foord, and a late consolation goal by Hilda Magaia to reward the very vocal and cheerful South African fans, who were singing from the first minute til the full time whistle blew.
Both sides were fielding a fairly young team, with The Matildas Head Coach Tony Gustavsson saying seven starters were out, the notable absentee being Australia’s all time lead goalscorer, Sam Kerr, who was returning from illness. This meant Cortnee Vine was afforded a start, and she hit the ground running, scoring her first senior goal for The Matildas in the 5th minute, from a well taken corner which met Mary Fowler’s header and rebounded off the post right to her feet to tuck away.
A nervous Banyana Banyana’s began to build back into the game, only to lose possession down the left hand side, where Catley was able to flick a ball in behind the defence to Caitlin Foord who slid a ball into a perfectly positioned Cortnee Vine to double the lead with a tasty bit of skill in the 25th minute, and you could see South Africa’s confidence deflate even more. Gustavsson remarked after the game that the link up play and chemistry of Catley and Foord from their time together at Arsenal played a huge part in the attack today, and you’d be hard pressed to disagree.
South Africa were clearly struggling with set pieces, as the shorter side, and minutes before half time, Catley dispatched another fantastic corner right onto Polkinghorne’s head, and we went into the break 3 goals to The Matildas, 0 to Banyana Banyana.
As the second half got under way, Caitlin Foord turned provider into goal scorer, finding the back of the net after some magical footwork took her past several defenders and slotting the ball in at the far post in the 52nd minute. From here, the game began to even out more.
Cortnee Vine was replaced by Alex Chidiac in the 59th minute, and three more subs were made in the 70th, introducing Emily Gielnik, Courtney Nevin and Larissa Crummer, for Foord, Catley and Charli Grant.
In the 86th minute, Hildah Magaia broke through the high defensive line and scored a clever and cool lob, stripping The Matildas of a clean sheet, and energising the crowd once more. Bambanani Mbane had played a clever lobbed pass from deep within the Banyana Banyana half, through the middle and created a problem for Teagan Micah, who rushed off her line but couldn’t close the distance quick enough.
South Africa had been much stronger in the second half, but Australia’s experience at holding possession and turning every pass into an attack ultimately gave them the win.
The Matildas: Micah, Luik, Polkinghorne, Vine, Catley (c), Grant, Foord, Fowler, Raso, Gorry, Cooney-Cross
Substitutes: Kerr, Chidiac, Crummer, Nevin, Gielnik,
Banyana Banyana: Ngobeni, Holweni, Makhubela, Mbane, Gamede, Salgado, Smidt, Motlhalo, Magama, Magaia, Seoposenwe (c)
Substitutes: Melinda Kgadiete, Robyn Moodaly, Thato Ietsoso, Thubelihle Shamase
Photo: Jon Barker
Words: Jon Barker and Charlie Firth