Football Ferns lose to Australia on penalties

FRED WOODCOCK
Last updated 18:34 16/06/2013
Katie Hoyle
Getty Images
SO CLOSE: Katie Hoyle of New Zealand and Tameka Butt of Australia battle for possession.

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It's been 18 years since New Zealand last tasted success in a women's football international against Australia and they'll have to wait a bit longer.

Despite having the better of the match, the Football Ferns lost a penalty shootout against Australia in their international friendly in Canberra today.

With the scores level at 1-1 after 90 minutes, a shootout was held to determine the winner of the inaugural Centenary Cup, and the dice rolled Australia's way after 18-year-old goalkeeper Bree Davey saved New Zealand's first two attempts, through Amber Hearn and Katie Hoyle.

The hosts, ranked No 9 in the world, simply couldn't miss, claiming a 4-2 victory in the shootout over the 20th-ranked Ferns.

Australia won the first of two matches in Canberra, 1-0 on Friday, but New Zealand were happy enough with their performances as they head to Tokyo to take on world champions Japan this week.

"The rivalry is always tough against Australia, especially playing for a trophy, but we did what we needed to do to get the draw and then the penalties were a bit of fun at the end," said Ferns defender Abby Erceg, the player of the match.

Australia claimed an early lead when Clare Polkinghorne rose high from an 11h minute corner and buried a strong header into the back of Ferns goalkeeper Jenny Bindon's net, but otherwise chances for the hosts were few and far between.

New Zealand dominated possession and territory in the first half and got the equaliser they deserved seven minutes before halftime, and it was a cracking goal.

Lanky striker Hannah Wilkinson beat a defender down the right flank and fired a low cross that made its way to Sarah Gregorius at the back post, the striker controlling the ball before unleashing a right-footed shot from the edge of the penalty area that curled into the top-right corner.

But despite shading their higher-ranked opposition in the statistics stakes, the Ferns couldn't find a winner.

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