CommBank Matildas go down to Scotland 1-0 at Plough Lane

The CommBank Matildas have lost their first game since September, falling 1-0 to a spirited Scottish side in London.

A goal less than two minutes into the second half by Nicola Docherty proved the difference in a game where the Australians had their chances but were unable to convert.

The CommBank Matildas lined up in a 4-3-3 in attack, dropping back into more of a compact 4-5-1 in defence. It was a shift from the formation that allowed their seven-game winning streak, the 4-4-2.

This shift was in large part instigated by a change in personnel. Caitlin Foord was unavailable due to injury and Sam Kerr did not take part from the bench, meaning that the front line was much changed.

The Australians, debuting their new away kit, had the better of the first 20 minutes. In particular, Ellie Carpenter was making her presence felt, working well with Cortnee Vine on the right-hand side.

The CommBank Matildas’ best first-half chance came from a free kick. Hayley Raso was fouled on the edge of the Scottish penalty area, resulting in a yellow card for Emma Mukandi. The resulting free-kick delivered from Katrina Gorry landed on the chest of Raso at the back post, but she was unable to control and get a decisive touch to trouble the goalkeeper.

There were also good signs from Gorry in midfield, who was able to effectively switch play and release players on the flanks.

However, as the second half wore on, Scotland began to make their mark on the game. Caroline Weir in midfield was largely able to play Gorry out of the game.

In the 27th minute, Martha Thomas found herself in acres of space in the box after Clare Polkinghorne was dispossessed. Luckily for the Australians, her shot was straight at MacKenzie Arnold, who dealt well with the effort.

More opportunities – a volley from Martha, a (Scottish) Sam Kerr shot from outside the penalty area that flashed wide, and a close-range effort from Emma Watson – quickly followed.

After surviving that ten-minute spell, the CommBank Matildas regrouped but weren’t able to create a clear-cut opportunity. This was best exemplified by a wonderful run by Hayley Raso in the dying minutes of the first half that found Cortnee Vine in the box, who found herself muscled off the ball before she could get a shot away.

Scotland continued to look dangerous with their high press but struggled for clear-cut opportunities of their own.

The halftime break saw no changes in personnel, but an almost immediate change in intensity by both teams.

It paid off within minutes for Scotland. After winning the ball from a high press, Nicola Docherty unleashed a shot from distance and slotted it in the top corner of the goal. It was unstoppable by an Arnold at full stretch and was a deserved lead for the Scots.

The CommBank Matildas looked to respond almost immediately. Kyra Cooney-Cross facilitated a switch of play that found Cortnee Vine on the edge of the area. Her shot found the underside of the crossbar and bounced away, agonisingly close to an instant equaliser.

The Australians kept on coming. Soon after, Mary Fowler found herself in space in the penalty area after near one-touch football in midfield. She was unable to slot home the goal but it signalled a change in the game as it opened up.

A breathless minute of football followed. Clare Hunt hit the frame of the goal from distance. Scotland immediately countered, a first-time ball from Clare Emslie releasing Martha Thomas whose shot flashed wide. Immediately, the CommBank Matildas countered the counter, a shot from Vine in the box deflecting away from the goal.

The 62nd minute saw the introduction of Alex Chidiac and Courtney Nevin, who replaced Larissa Crummer and Ellie Carpenter respectively.

Chidiac almost made an immediate impact. She was able to force a turnover high up the field minutes after coming onto the pitch – her shot was deflected just wide by goalkeeper Lee Gibson.

Scotland were not resting on their lead. In the 75th minute, Gorry was caught in possession in her own half. Caroline Weir was able to find Kirsty Hanson, who forced a strong one-handed save from Mackenzie Arnold to keep the lead at one.

Tameka Yallop entered the field of play in the 82nd minute, in place of the busy Hayley Raso. That precipitated a change in formation – Clare Hunt moved up top in a 4-4-2 to try to chase the equaliser.

Players of Australia form a huddle as Tony Gustavsson, Head Coach of Australia speak after the Women's International Friendly match between Australia and Scotland at The Cherry Red Records Stadium on April 07, 2023 in Wimbledon, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Players of Australia form a huddle as Tony Gustavsson, Head Coach of Australia speak after the Women’s International Friendly match between Australia and Scotland at The Cherry Red Records Stadium on April 07, 2023 in Wimbledon, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

However, it was a ploy that was ultimately unsuccessful. Despite a better showing in the second half, the CommBank Matildas were unable to record a goal and fell to Scotland.

Attention will now turn to our upcoming clash against England.

England v CommBank Matildas
Date: Tues, 11 April 2023 (local) / Wed, 12 April (AEST)
Venue: Brentford Community Stadium, London
Kick-Off: 7:45 pm (local) / 4:45 am (AEST)
Broadcast: Network 10 and Paramount+