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Clare Polkinghorne has handed the Matildas a last-gasp draw with England's Lionesses in the international friendly at Craven Cottage in London.

Polkinghorne's headed equaliser, six minutes before the full time whistle, came after England had dominated the first half and were perhaps unfortunate to only go into the break with a one-goal advantage.

External Link: Matildas tweet: FULL TIME Plks 84th minute header means this one finishes level!

The hosts missed a raft of chances as they massed 17 shots to the Australians' nine, but were unable to make that count on the scoreboard.

Fran Kirby, who yesterday was named on the shortlist for the inaugural women's Ballon d'Or award alongside international teammate Lucy Bronze and absent Australian star Sam Kerr, had opened the scoring for England in the 21st minute after the hosts pounced on a mistake at the back.

However, the Australians weathered the English pressure to secure a draw after the disappointment of Saturday's 2-0 defeat against France.

"To have a draw with England in England, with the squad we've got and the fatigue we've got in the squad, I really couldn't be prouder of the effort we put in and the improvement from the other night," coach Alen Stajcic said on SBS.

The Matildas were without a number of first team regulars, allowing Stajcic to hand teenagers Amy Sayer and Princess Ibini their first international starts.

Ibini almost capped her maiden start with a goal in the second half, but was denied by a spectacular reflex save from England goalkeeper Mary Earps.

Mary Fowler also made a huge impact off the bench, with Stajcic praising the 15-year-old as one to watch for the future.

"I thought she was fantastic. The other night when she came on against France I thought she had a good impact but it was minimal, but tonight I think she had a really good impact." Stajcic said.

External Link: Mark Schwarzer tweet: TheMatildas v Lionesses FulhamFC

"As long as she can keep improving and developing her game, there's no doubt she's going to be a big threat for us in the coming years."

England were left to rue their missed chances, with coach Phil Neville bemoaning a number of wasted opportunities.

"We weren't ruthless again, we had so many one-on-ones," Neville said.

"We should have had two penalties, it's best we don't mention the referees regarding some decisions."

The former Manchester United and Everton star was possibly right to feel aggrieved, with Caitlin Foord appearing to bring down Beth Mead in the first half and Nikita Parris with just 10 minutes remaining.

England also had a goal ruled out for offside in the first half, with replays suggesting officials got that decision wrong.

That kept Australia in the game, giving Polkinghorne the opportunity to power home her header from Elise Kellond-Knight, who was celebrating her 100th cap with the captain's armband normally worn by Polkinghorne.

"I knew what was coming, they had good delivery from that righthand side, they're bigger, taller and I knew if they got more set pieces they'd get the goal," Neville said.

The Matildas will return to Australia before matches against Chile in Penrith and Newcastle next month.

Original Article


ABC .net


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