MATILDAS: Gorry shines in promising victory

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An attack-minded Westfield Matildas struck twice in the opening 45 minutes to claim the first of a two-match series against China in Wollongong on Sunday.

Long-term fullback Elise Kellond-Knight joined Tameka Butt and Katrina Gorry in a proactive midfield trio and Hesterine De Reus’ move was justified with the latter pair scoring both of Australia’s goals.

The 8th-ranked Matildas had the first chance of the match when Sam Kerr squared for Michelle Heyman, but the centre-forward was unable to reel in her touch after rounding China ‘keeper Fei Wang.

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Australia shot-stopper Lydia Williams was called into action almost immediately following the opportunity when she came quickly off her line to smother a one-on-one.

The visitors carved a quality opening in the 24th minute when Xianglin Li cleverly lifted a pass over Clare Polkinghorne’s head and into the path of Li Yang but, having kept her feet under Williams’ risky challenge, Yang shot into the sidenetting.

China exerted more pressure in the moments following and came within inches of the opener in the 31st minute when Williams, at full stretch, shovelled away Shanghan Wang’s cross/shot.

However, it was Australia who took their chance first to lead in the 34th minute.

Scheming midfielder Gorry’s quality shone through when she pounced on a poor clearance in the Chinese penalty area and, after firing her first effort into a defender, won the loose ball through sheer determination and slammed home from close range.

Just five minutes later, it was 2-0.

Gorry’s free-kick was only headed skyward by Wei Pu, where it was nodded on first by Clare Polkinghorne, then Laura Alleway, before being expertly driven into the roof of the net at the back post by Butt for a Matildas cushion at the break.

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Williams remained alert in the Australian goal after the restart, turning a threatening free-kick over the crossbar in the early moments.

Another searing strike from Gorry on the half-volley seemed destined for the bottom corner shortly after the hour but was Fei Wang was up to the task, diving to tip the long-range effort around the post.

Sam Kerr was next to go close for the Matildas when her sliding finish at the back post was blocked by the legs of ‘keeper Wang.

A third wasn’t needed for de Reus’ side, though, as they comfortably saw out the match with their 2-0 advantage intact, and can be confident of quickly forgetting last month’s USA nightmare in the series’ second match at Parramatta Stadium on Wednesday.

Australia: 18. Lydia WILLIAMS (gk), 3. Kim CARROLL, 4. Clare POLKINGHORNE, 5. Laura ALLEWAY, 8. Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT, 11. Lisa DE VANNA, 13. Tameka BUTT, 16. Stephanie CATLEY, 19. Katrina GORRY, 20. Samantha KERR, 23. Michelle HEYMAN.

Bench: 21. Eliza CAMPBELL (gk), 2. Emma CHECKER, 7. Collette MCCALLUM, 9. Haley RASO, 10. Emily VAN EGMOND, 14. Ashleigh SYKES, 17. Chloe LOGARZO, 22. Nicole SYKES.

China: 12. Fei WANG (gk), 3. Lingling WANG, Haiyan WU, 6. Yini HUANG, 7. Yanlu XU, 11. Wei PU, 19. Xianglin LI, 20. Li YANG, 21. Lini WANG, 23. Shanghan WANG, 25. Rui ZHANG.

Bench: 1. Yue ZHANG (gk), 4. Jiayue LI, 8. Shanshan LIU, 9. Jiahui LOU, 10. Ying LI, 13. Qi GAO, 15. Shuang WANG, 16. Chen WANG, 18. PENG HAN, 27. Xin ZHANG, 34. Jiao XUE.

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