Sport Football Late equaliser rescues Matildas in London

Late equaliser rescues Matildas in London

Clare Polkinghorne Matildas
The Matildas were missing up to seven starting players. Photo: Getty
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A second-half equaliser from Clare Polkinghorne has helped the Matildas secure a highly fortuitous 1-1 draw against England in the women’s football international at Craven Cottage.

The Australia skipper found an unlikely equaliser on 85 minutes, when she powered home a trademark header from a corner delivered by Elise Kellond-Knight who was celebrating her 100th cap.

England opened the scoring through Fran Kirby’s goal on 21 minutes and were hugely unlucky not to have been out of sight by halftime.

The first half saw the home side have a goal incorrectly ruled out for offside, and a clear penalty claim waved away by the French referee.

Australia goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold made a superb save to deny England captain Steph Houghton, but claims that the follow up from Beth Mead crossed the line were ignored with replays inconclusive.

An understrength Australia side missing up to seven starting players proved no match for the world No.3 for most of the match, despite an improved performance following the 2-0 defeat five days ago against France.

Missing headline names such as Sam Kerr, Emily van Egmond, Katrina Gorry, Alanna Kennedy and Lydia Williams, the Matildas lined-up with inexperienced teenagers Amy Sayer and Princess Ibini while several others played out of position.

Australia attempted to press higher and pass through the lines in contrast to their one-sided defeat against France, but England found a huge amount of space in behind the rejigged Matildas backline.

Despite England’s creativity in attack the opening goal came from a poor back pass and equally poor clearance from Arnold, which resulted in the highly-rated Kirby firing home on the turn.

Ibini and the 16-year-old Sayer had attempts on goal before being substituted early in the second half, but England continued to create numerous goalscoring opportunities.

For the second time in the match, makeshift full-back Caitlin Foord was lucky to avoid a incurring a penalty, this time for a challenge on Nikita Parris.

Polkinghorne’s equaliser meant Australia avoided suffered succussive defeats for the first time in over two years.

The Matildas will play two home matches against Chile next month before the 2019 Women’s World Cup draw takes place in December.