Ferns come up short against US

Sunday Star-Times - - SPORT - AN­DREW VOERMAN

The Foot­ball Ferns’ search for a sec­ond win against the United States goes on, af­ter a 3-1 loss in Denver, Colorado, yes­ter­day.

Two first-half goals from Julie Ertz had left the US look­ing com­fort­able at half­time but Han­nah Wilkin­son hit back with 15 min­utes re­main­ing to set up a tense fin­ish, only for Alex Mor­gan to then put the game to bed soon af­ter.

The Ferns weren’t out­classed by the world No 1 in their first out­ing since the start of March, and did well to limit the hosts’ chances.

But the Ki­wis’ in­abil­ity to fash­ion chances of their own is the big area to im­prove on, head­ing into the sec­ond match between the two on Wed­nes­day. The Ferns have beaten the US just once, in 1987.

The Ferns un­veiled a new 4-4-2 di­a­mond sys­tem, with Katie Bowen at the base in mid­field, Betsy Has­sett at the tip, An­nalie Longo and Kirsty Yal­lop to ei­ther side; and Wilkin­son and Rose White up top, tak­ing turns to drop off when they were out of pos­ses­sion.

The big­gest weak­ness of us­ing a di­a­mond is its lack of nat­u­ral width in mid­field, and it was clear from early on that the US would be look­ing to take ad­van­tage of that, with Megan Rapi­noe find­ing plenty of space down the left flank.

It was from a cor­ner won by Rapi­noe that the US took the lead, in the 16th minute. The Ferns failed to clear it prop­erly, and it fell to Kelly O’Hara, who sent the ball back into the right side of the box, where Lind­sey Horan headed it down and Ertz squeezed between Meikayla Moore and Bowen to fire it home.

Eight min­utes later, it was Ertz again, to dou­ble the hosts’ ad­van­tage, fir­ing home the re­bound af­ter Rapi­noe had sent a header into the left-hand up­right, meet­ing a cross from Mal­lory Pugh that came at the end of a 15-pass se­quence, where Ertz touched the ball three times.

The Ferns halved the mar­gin in the 74th minute, when Wilkin­son bravely headed past keeper Alyssa Nae­her.

PHOTOSPORT

Even at 35, power for­ward Mika Vukona is sure he can make a mean­ing­ful con­tri­bu­tion to the Break­ers’ up­com­ing Aus­tralian NBL cam­paign .

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.