Australia v New Zealand report by Capital Football

Australia 1 - New Zealand 1

The Westfield Matildas claimed the Centenary Cup after Brianna Davey made two outstanding saves in the penalty shoot-out denying Katie Hoyle and Amber Hearn to guide Australia to a 4-2 win after the match ended in a 1-1 draw on a sunny day in Canberra.

Davey guessed right twice to block the Football Ferns' efforts allowing Samantha Kerr to seal the result.

Following their midweek victory over the Football Ferns at the AIS on Thursday the Westfield Matildas started brightly and took the lead with what was virtually their first attack of the match in the 11th minute. Winning a corner on the left hand side, Servet Uzunlar bent in a superb set-piece ball that was begging to be finished. Captain Clare Polkinghorne obliged, meeting the cross to send a thumping header past the stricken New Zealand goalkeeper, Erin Nayler.

New Zealand threatened sporadically on the break, Amber Hearn testing the attention of Davey in the Westfield Matildas goal, but it was the home side that looked the most likely with Tameka Butt, Emily Van Egmond and Elise Kellond-Knight combining well on the break.

The Football Ferns had willing front runners in Hannah Wilkinson, Amber Hearn and Sarah Gregorius but struggled to break down the Australian back-line, marshalled effectively by Teigen Allen and Alanna Kennedy. As the game progressed New Zealand came more into the contest and deservedly equalised seven minutes before the half-time break.

Wilkinson was at the forefront of the goal, showing her pace and strength down the right flank, bursting past a challenge and sweeping a delightful ball into the area. The cut-back eluded everyone but fell beautifully for Gregorius who controlled, turned and curled a stunning finish high above Davey and into the top corner.

That goal meant that New Zealand ended the half on a high with the teams entering the changing rooms' all-square at 1-1.

It was the Football Ferns that began the second stanza on the front foot as well with Wilkinson causing issues alongside a sprightly display from Ali Riley. The Westfield Matildas meanwhile were reliant on the overlapping runs of Stephanie Catley and the penetration of Samantha Kerr as they looked to re-establish their early superiority.

Polkinghorne was at the heart of the Westfield Matildas creativity and it was from one delightful curving ball into the area that Butt almost put them back ahead. Goalkeeper Nayler anticipated the danger and snuffed it out with a brave block, clattering into Butt in the process and forcing the Brisbane Roar midfielder off the field for treatment.

Butt returned shortly afterwards as the match became a midfield battle with both teams attempting to release their speedy attackers with long balls from defence but with limited success. Abby Erceg climbed highest to meet a free-kick with twenty minutes to play but her header lacked the requisite power to trouble Davey who gathered easily.

Neither side could find the breakthrough to steal the win sending the match to the lottery of the penalty shoot-out despite a last minute Uzunlar corner that caused a goalmouth scramble that the Football Ferns were lucky to survive.

And that set the scene for Davey's moment in the sun which sent the majority of the 2,248 crowd at McKellar Park home happy.

written by Russ Gibbs, Capital Football