June 18 2008
AUCKLAND - The Football Ferns were left to rue bad luck and a horror start after losing 0-2 to Canada in the Peace Queen Cup on Wednesday night.
The shock of a first minute goal to Christine Sinclair was topped by a red card for reserve goalkeeper Rachel Howard – two minutes after coming on as a halftime replacement for Jenny Bindon.
In just her second international, defender Kristy Hill was forced to don a borrowed pair of gloves and finish the game in goal. That she only conceded the resulting Kara Lang penalty was testimony to a courageous 10-player fight-back that denied Canada any threatening chances from open play in the second half.
With less than a minute played Canadian goal-machine Sinclair created enough of an opening on the edge of the area to squeeze off a curling shot over the outstretched leg of her marker.
Defender Kristy Hill donned the gloves after Howard was red carded.A full-stretch Bindon managed to get her fingertips to the shot but in torrential rain in Suwon, that wasn’t enough to deny Sinclair her 91st international goal, as New Zealand appeals for a foul on Emily McColl in the lead-up went unheard.
New Zealand were clearly rocked by the goal, as they struggled to replicate the form they displayed in the win over Argentina, but slowly managed to force their way back into the match.
Amber Hearn and Abby Erceg had half chances to equalise but the Football Ferns needed a point-blank save from Bindon to deny Sinclair just before the break to stay in the match.
However, any hopes of over-tuning the deficit in the second spell and claiming a second straight upset were quickly extinguished, as Sinclair chased down a through ball and drew Howard into bringing her down.
Despite appearing to get a touch on the ball in the challenge, Howard was given her marching orders, and Lang slotted the resulting spot kick.
Down a player and with all hopes of making the final gone, New Zealand summoned up their best football of the match. The best chances of the second half both fell to New Zealand’s Emma Kete, who caught a high Canadian defensive line on the hop twice in ten minutes.
Emma Kete beats Canada's goalkeeper butthe not the cover defence.Latching on to a through ball, she rounded the keeper with her first effort on the hour but saw the danger cleared by a retreating defender then forced Canada’s custodian into a 50-50 challenge on the edge of the box ten minutes later with the ball squirting to safety.
Disappointed by a group stage exit at the eight-team tournament, Football Ferns head coach John Herdman was full of admiration for his side’s spirit.
“They’re no better than us” Herdman said of the world number nine Canadians.
“They battered us in the first 20 to be fair, but for the next 25 we competed as well as they did, and in the second half we had the better of them.”
“The players are disappointed with losing 2-0 and that’s a positive. We haven’t tried to shut up shop or run the clock down as we might have in the past. New Zealand have shown a lot of pride in having a right old go at Canada even with ten players.”
Herdman also had a word of praise for stand-in goalkeeper Kristy Hill.
SInclair celebrates as the rain pours down“Kristy’s showed a lot of guts in grabbing the gloves in her second game and looked pretty comfortable out there. She tidied up well but never really had a save to make,” Herdman said
“Canada only had two really good chances and both in the first half. Jenny’s saved one of them and the other went top corner.”
“A year ago at North Harbour they had over a dozen so there’s a lot to take out of this match. Heading into games against Japan, Norway and the USA at the Olympic it let’s us know we can truly compete against sides at that level and if we can get some fitness into some of our key players they can have the same sort of impact Christine Sinclair did tonight.”
With wins in each of their three group matches, Canada topped group A and will face USA, Australia or Brazil in Saturday’s final.
New Zealand 0 Canada 2 (Christine Sinclair 1, Kara Lang 52 pen)
Wednesday 18 June
2008 Peace Queen Cup
Suwon World Cup Stadium, Suwon, Korea Republic
Red Card: Rachel Howard 47
New Zealand:Jenny Bindon (Rachel Howard 46), Abby Erceg, Kristy Hill, Rebecca Smith, Ria Percival, Ali Riley, Emily McColl, Kirsty Yallop (Betsy Hassett 85), Hayley Moorwood (Captain), Emma Kete (Emma Humphries 88), Amber Hearn (Renee Leota 87).
Substitutes not used: Anna Green, Annalie Longo, Katie Hoyle, Merissa Smith.
Coach: John Herdman