Football Ferns crush PNG in Olympic qualifier

SIMON PLUMB
Last updated 20:32 31/03/2012

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The Football Ferns have all-but qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games after an 8-0 obliteration of Papua New Guinea.

The one-sided first leg of a do-or-die qualifier means it would take a miracle to stop the national women's team joining the Oly-Whites in London.

Tony Readings' ferns were ahead as early as the sixth minute in Whangarei when Abby Erceg laid on a simple tap-in for Hannah Wilkinson.

By half-time the ferns were already in full control of the match, and the playoff, 4-0 up with Rebecca Smith, Sarah Gregorius and Amber Hearn piling in goals.

Hearn's effort was particularly impressive, smashing home from over 22 metres.

Just after the hour-mark Readings completed a raft of three substitutions as his side cruised to victory.

And it took one of those changes, Rosie White, less than two minutes to extend the lead.

Ria Percival added a sixth in the 70th minute with the rout completed in the final two minutes of the match.

A minute from the end White added her second and in injury time, Hearn also added a second after White's initial shot was parried by PNG goalkeeper Linda Bunaga.

The return leg will be played in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, on Wednesday with the winner advancing to the Games.

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- Fairfax Media

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