Hannah Wilkinson strike secures draw for Ferns

Last updated 06:33 06/03/2014

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The luck of the Irish did not hold out with the Football Ferns scoring late in the game against the Republic of Ireland to draw 1-1 in their opening match in the Cyprus Cup on Thursday (NZ time) at the Tasos Marko stadium in Paralimni, Cyprus. 

The game remained deadlocked at 0-0 at half time, with both teams having good spells of possession and opportunities in front of goal in the first half. 

It wasn't until the 64th minute when Ireland's Aine O'Gorman was able to break through, scoring from a cross delivered by half time substitute Siobhan Killeen. 

The 16th ranked Football Ferns had a number of chances in the second half over 33rd ranked Ireland, both Betsy Hassett and Sarah Gregorius with chances in front of goal. 

It was not until the 87th minute when Hannah Wilkinson was able to get on the end of a long ball in to the box that the Ferns were able to draw level at 1-1. 

New Zealand coach Tony Readings was happy with his team's performance but disappointed with the result. 

"I thought our performance was better than the games we played recently in China, it's just the final piece of the jigsaw that we need to improve on," Readings said. 

"We need to improve our play once we get in the attacking third, with more composure at times. 

"Ireland defended really well in the game and made it hard for us. We controlled the possession side of the game, but our play in the attacking third needs to improve." 

Readings said there is plenty to work on, with crossing, the quality of shooting and the timing of playing through balls high on the list. But he also noted that the New Zealand team is always improving. 

"We controlled possession, we were patient and we were positive when we needed to be and we created a lot more chances. It was a step forward for us because we are turning that possession into goal scoring chances. 

"The next step is taking some of those chances, because if we had done that today, we would have won the game." 

"This team keeps getting better each game, so we'll keep taking one step forward." 

The Football Ferns have one day to recover before they head into their next match against Switzerland on Friday 7 March, 5.30pm (Saturday 8 March, 4.30am NZT) at the same venue, Tasos Marko Stadium in Paralimni. 

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- Fairfax Media

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