Hockeyroos keep series alive with 1-0 win in Sydney

Hockeyroos 1 Argentina 0 (0-0 half time)
Goals – Aus Ashleigh Nelson 51m FG

The Hockeyroos have pulled off an upset against world champions  Argentina, recording a 1-0 victory in Sydney on Friday.

The match was the third game of a four test series and although Argentina won both of the first two games 3-2, the young Hockeyroos team have shown considerable improvement in each match and were finally given some reward for their effort. [img_assist|nid=1778|title=|desc=Ashleigh Nelson hit the winning goal for the Hockeyroos Guil Hornos/Kangaroo Photos|link=popup|align=right|width=250|height=375]

Controlling the first half from the opening whistle, the Hockeyroos produced some really attacking hockey which has been their trademark since incoming coach Adam Commens took control of the team in late 2010. 

Jade Close put the Argentinean goalkeeper under pressure in the opening minutes, however the shot on goal went to the right of the post.

Newcomer Kellie White followed up only minutes later with a brilliant run in the circle taking on several defenders, but her shot also missed.

Despite not putting a goal away the Hockeyroos were playing with real confidence as they out played the reigning world champions, with their confidence only increasing as each minute continued. 

With the Hockeyroos applying enormous pressure on the ball they forced a number of turnovers, with Marnie Hudson using her speed to create pressure and ensure that the ball remained in the Hockeyroos half.

Defensively the Hockeyroos were also performing well, with the likes of Casey Eastham, Madonna Blyth and Jodie Schulz showing discipline to maintain great defence without conceding a penalty corner.

However despite the Hockeyroos having the better of the play in the first half they were unable to capitalise with a goal, with both teaming heading into half time at 0-0. 

Argentina took to the field a more focused team after the half time break and applied pressure to the Australian defence immediately, resulting in two early penalty corner attempts which both went wide of the goal, but demonstrated that they were on the attack.

The Hockeyroos held their ground well and went on the counter attack, with Casey Eastham continuing her good form to cause a turn over which gave Marnie Hudson a golden opportunity alone in the circle.  However an untimely slip from Hudson denied her a chance to collect the ball as she was forced to watch the ball dribble over the line.

Keen to make amends Hudson produced a great play in the circle only minutes later which drew the goalkeeper, however the desperation from the Argentinean defence didn’t allow Jade Close to get a shot away directly in front of goal.

After having all the momentum the Hockeyroos were finally given some reward, with a brilliant long pass from Jodie Schulz finding Ashleigh Nelson who took on two Argentina defenders to find space at the top of the circle and deliver an accurate shot on goal to give the Hockeyroos the lead.

With Argentina keen to make amends they put the Hockeyroos under even more pressure in an attempt to find an equalising goal. However despite a frantic final minute the Hockeyroos demonstrated their fighting spirit and held on to record their first win on Australian soil in 2011.

Hockeyroos coach Adam Commens said he was pleased with the improvement shown by his young team and the way they were able to hang on when Argentina pushed for an equalising goal. 

“I think we have progressed from the games in Canberra. We had a lot of opportunities tonight and we need to start to convert those opportunities a little better than we are at the moment but it is an encouraging sign with a team as young as we have getting that many chances against the world champions,” said Commens. 

However Commens said there was still room for improvement.

“We did have a lot of opportunities, but we didn’t get any penalty corners and with the amount of circle penetrations we had we needed to get more of a result in terms of penalty corners. I think our girls have the right thing in mind and they are working hard to get them right, but we are just a little bit off at the moment, and that is in attack and defence,” said Commens.

Source: Hockey Australia.