Two late goals from two substitutes have delivered the Football Ferns their first win inside 90 minutes since before the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup.
Paige Satchell and Gabi Rennie both benefited from the creativity of Olivia Chance in the national women’s football team’s 2-0 win over South Korea on Tuesday.
Goalkeeper Vic Esson was handed a rare start and delivered in the first half with several fine saves to keep her side in it at Goyang Stadium.
Jitka Klimkova has been appointed as the new coach of the Football Ferns through to 2027
The two forwards then put the icing on the cake inside the final 10 minutes to bring the Ferns’ eight-match losing streak to an end.
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They will now head into 2022 full of confidence they are heading in the right direction, as they build towards the 2023 World Cup, which they will host alongside Australia.
It was the team’s first win under new coach Jitka Klimková in her fourth match in charge. She said afterwards that she was glad they reversed things from the first match between the two teams on Saturday, where a good first half performance was undone by a poor one in the second spell that resulted in a 2-1 loss.
“This time our second half was much better than our first half, and I’m glad that we found a way to win this game.
“We made really good adjustments for the second half, which helped us, we made our [defensive] block a bit lower, and we were waiting for those balls coming into our block, which helped, and it opened up more space behind the Korean back four and that’s how we scored those two goals.
“I’m so glad and so happy and so proud of this team – the way we played, the way we competed, the way we were fighting, that’s the Kiwi culture I know.”
Klimková was forced to make one change, with captain Ali Riley injured and replaced by debutant Ashleigh Ward, who had a few shaky moments, but improved as the game went on.
Her other change was to hand Esson her first start since the 2018 OFC Nations Cup in place of Anna Leat in goal, where she quickly became the first half’s key figure.
She was twice called on to make saves in the first 20 minutes, as it became clear the Ferns were not starting as strongly as they did on Saturday, where they took a first-half lead.
Her biggest moment came after 28 minutes, when she had to deny Choe Yu Ri, who had a header from close range after a Ji So Yun shot from distance rattled off the crossbar, then reacted to cover a third attempt, which Daisy Cleverley blocked before it got to her.
There was another save to close out the half, when Jang Sel Gi did well to control the ball on the byline down the left, then fired off a shot from an acute angle.
Esson did have the odd nervy moment, but her efforts will have given Klimková plenty to consider as the team heads into an almost-three month break between international windows.
The immediate impact was that her saves kept the scores level at the start of the second half, where the Ferns began brightly.
Betsy Hassett forced Kim Jung Mi in South Korea’s goal to make a flying save with a shot from distance, but the attempts dried up as both sides defended stoutly, and as the clock ticked past 80 minutes, it was still 0-0.
That was when Chance seized the moment, playing a first-time pass for Satchell after a long ball forward from Ward down the left flank, which allowed her to race in front of two defenders and score with a smart finish.
Almost immediately, Chance was the creator again, this time from the right, where she curled a ball towards the back post, giving Rennie just enough time to get her foot to it.
Those goals gave the Ferns their first 90-minute win since they beat England on the eve of the last World Cup in France more than two years ago, which was also the last time they kept a clean sheet. It was also just their second win against South Korea – and their first since 1996.
Since that win, the Ferns had played 15 times, for 14 losses and a penalty shootout win over Belgium at the 2020 Algarve Cup.
They still have plenty of work to do – as Klimková said, they “found a way to win the game” – but for the first time in a while, things are looking up.
And with 2021 almost done and 2023 drawing ever closer, their timing couldn’t have been better.
Football Ferns 2 (Paige Satchell 83’, Gabi Rennie 85’) South Korea 0. HT: 0-0