THE Westfield Matildas have commenced their European tour suffering a 3-1 loss to a primed Dutch outfit.
The contest was locked at 1-1 at half time with the opening 10 minutes of the second spell seeing the Aussies gain control, however the game began to stretch out and a double display of beautifully-timed finishes allowed the Dutch ladies to edge forward and leave the Matildas in the lurk.
The Dutch defence was under pressure in the opening few minutes, and with Michelle Heyman & Lisa de Vanna pressuring high, two opportunities were created, but neither were able to be capitalised on.
A breakthrough came for the Netherlands in the 12th minute, as they skillfully dissected the Australian defence allowing Lieke Martens to slot the ball past Westfield Matildas goalkeeper Brianna Davey into the bottom right-hand corner of the goal.
This did not deter the Aussies, the game continued to take shape with possession evenly shared. Katrina Gorry began combining well with Emily van Egmond and there were glimpses of the Australian midfield taking control.
A stunning left-foot strike by Gorry was the golden chance to peg one back in the 27th minute, allowing Australia back in the game with the team gaining confidence and control of possession.
In the closing minutes of the first half defensive efforts by striker Lisa de Vanna did not go unnoticed, defending all the way back to the by-line. Davey also looked very composed in goals, blocking an effort from close range.
Scores were locked at half time, indicative of the game’s end-to-end nature. Possession was shared and strong challenges were plentiful.
Half-time substitutes Kim Carroll and Elise Kellond-Knight hoped to inject some added composure in to the back-line and they appeared to be a positive influence. However it wasn’t long before they were tested. As the spaces between the lines began to open, as did the defensive block of the Australians, providing room and space for the Netherlands to create attacking chances.
In the 58th minute the Netherlands took the lead once more, Martens slotted her second home with a clinical shot passing the outstretched hand of Davey. Unfortunately for the Australians, the game was put to rest with the final effort from Sherida Spitse in the 83rd minute.
Westfield Matildas Head Coach Hesterine de Reus said: “In the first half I think our midfield took control, you could see that Holland needed to play a lot of long balls because they couldn’t play through.
“I think in the second half it began to stretch out. Our defensive line dropped so we then had too much space in the midfield, we lost control.”
While Australia’s performance was initially strong, as the game wore on the Matildas match preparedness showed that more work was still to be done.
“We played very well in the first half. I think in the second half it dropped a bit, due to conditioning. Holland is in their top of preparations for the European Championship and we have an empty year. So we have only had some camps. I think that made a difference,” de Reus said.
“I’m looking forward, I’d like to see improvements in holding our shape for the whole 90 minutes & more aggressiveness in our defence in the midfield. I did not see many explosive runs from the midfield, so this is also something we can look to improve.”
The Westfield Matildas will play again on Tuesday against Dutch club team ADO Den Haag before flying to France for their final match in Europe against France.