Sport Late Kyah Simon strike helps Matildas earn 1-1 draw against US
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Late Kyah Simon strike helps Matildas earn 1-1 draw against US

Kyah Simon scored in the 88th minute to earn the Matildas a 1-1 draw with the US in Newcastle. Photo: AAP
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A brilliant challenge from Newcastle local Clare Wheeler set up Kyah Simon to snatch a late equaliser and ensure the Matildas end their calendar year with an unconvincing 1-1 draw with the United States.

In Australia’s final game before January’s Asian Cup, the US’s Ashley Hatch scored in the fourth minute before Simon equalised with a deflection in the 88th minute.

Looking to add experience to his defence after losing 3-0 in Sydney on Saturday, coach Tony Gustavsson turned to Lydia Williams over Teagan Micah in goal, while Steph Catley shifted to centre back and Tameka Yallop dropped into left back.

Teenager Jessika Nash was dropped and Kyra Cooney-Cross started in midfield, while Hayley Raso replaced Caitlin Foord.

But the US got off to another fast start despite a vociferous crowd of 20,495 at McDonald Jones Stadium – a record for the Matildas in Newcastle.

“Obviously it was brilliant that Kyah’s got back and scored because she missed that chance and she said ‘I need to score tonight’, she had that mindset,” Gustavsson said.

“But the key to that goal was Clare Wheeler’s tackle. We said we need to be more physical, win our fight plan, our one-on-one duels.

“Clare was the game changer because she came in with that mindset and without that tackle we wouldn’t have scored.”

Gustavsson had stressed the importance of shutting down the US’ transition game, but it proved his side’s undoing in the fourth minute.

Yallop turned the ball over and Margaret Purce streamed forward before cutting the ball back for an untracked Hatch, who coolly slotted past Williams.

“It’s way too easy, that goal,” Gustavsson said.

“They were actually in good positions when we (lost) the ball.

“So it’s not positioning itself, it’s the attitude to get down and defend that ball from better and that wasn’t good enough, and that has to be a learning going forward.”

Lynn Williams fumbled an attempted header wide in the 11th minute while Hatch headed straight at Lydia Williams from close range in the 16th.

Many of the Matildas’ best chances broke down through poor crosses, but Kyra Cooney-Cross was inches away from her first international goal in the 21st minute when she looped a long-range shot into the post.

US captain Lindsey Horan almost made it 2-0 in the 34th minute but for Courtney Nevin’s last-ditch challenge.

Australia had a golden chance to level the scoring three minutes after half-time when Hayley Raso went on a blistering run then slipped the ball to captain Sam Kerr, who made space under pressure but dragged her shot wide.

In the 58th minute, Lynn Williams tried her luck from range and forced Lydia Williams into a fantastic save.

As the game further opened up, Catley made a superb challenge to stop Morgan Weaver in her tracks in the 80th minute.

Eight minutes later Wheeler, a substitute in the 86th minute, bravely slid in on Ashley Sanchez and as she spun away pinched the ball before passing to Catley. She in turn found Kerr, who worked it to Simon.

The 30-year-old, who missed a sitter in Saturday’s loss, saw her strike deflect off Becky Sauerbrunn before beating Casey Murphy in the US goal to salvage a draw much to the delight of the locals.

For the most part, Australia’s early chances were few and far between amid poor crossing, while Gustavsson lamented the first-half defence and said goalkeeper Lydia Williams had kept the Matildas in the game.

“I’m going to be honest here, I think in the first half, our pressing game was sh-t,” he said.

“Sorry to say that, but I do. We talked about it at half-time. We were too stretched, too far away, didn’t win enough of the duels.

“In the second half we were much better.”

-AAP