It was heartbreak for the Westfield Young Matildas on Friday night as they let a two-goal lead slip in the AFF Women’s Championship final.
Three second-half goals from Thailand secured their 3-2 come-from-behind win as Australia was left to ponder what could have been after a thrilling, end-to-end match.
Australia started strong, dominating possession and the rhythm of the game forcing some of Thailand’s danger players in Kanjana Sung-Ngoen and Suchawadee Nildhamrong to chase the ball.
It didn’t take long to capitalise on that domination, with Mary Fowler opening the scoring in the 26th minute of play after a brilliantly worked team goal which was started from the defence.
Despite Australia’s domination of the ball, chances were few and far in between for the remainder of the first half. A few shots from outside the box were all that was of note, and Thailand wasn’t as effective on the counter-attack as they had been in their previous group stage meeting with Australia.
The Westfield Young Matildas started the second half just as fast as they did the first. It took them almost fifteen minutes to double their advantage, and it was Mary Fowler who finished off some wonderful combination play between Alex Chidiac and Rachel Lowe.
Thailand struck back just moments later though with striker Suchawadee Nildhamrong halving the deficit, and the momentum of the match began to swing.
The match was level in the 70th minute when Thailand substitute Orathai Srimanee hit a stunning strike into the top corner, and the comeback was complete with a similarly stunning shot just three minutes later from Rattikan Thongsombut.
Play continued to be end-to-end, high paced action but Australia was unable to pull back a goal. It was brilliant viewing, but heartbreak for the Westfield Young Matildas.
“Tonight’s performance saw much improvement in key areas,” said Westfield Young Matildas head coach Leah Blayney.
“We certainly approached the match with a fearless mentality and dominated for long periods of this match. I am very proud of all the girls’ efforts, not just tonight, but across the entire tournament.”
Westfield Young Matildas 2 (Fowler 26', 58')
Thailand 3 (Nildhamrong 59', Srimanee 70', Thongsombut 73')
Friday, 13 July 2018, Jakabaring Stadium, Indonesia
Westfield Young Matildas XI: 1. Jada Mathyssen, 3. Rasamee Phonsongkham 5. Rachel Lowe, 6. Amy Sayer, 7. Princess Ibini, 10. Alexandra Chidiac, 15. Taylor Ray, 16. Mary Fowler, 19. Karly Roestbakken, 21. Courtney Nevin, 22. Larissa Crummer (C)
Substitutes: 2. Emily Grace Hodgson, 4. Tory Tumeth, 8. Emily Condon, 9. Cortnee Vine, 11. Kaitlyn Torpey, 12. Annalee Sarah Grove, 13. Angelique Hristodoulou, 14. MelindaJ Barbieri, 17. Bethany Gordon, 18. Morgan Aquino, 20. Kyra Cooney-Cross,23. Holly McNamara