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Ferns break attendance record again in first ever Eden Park game

Jan 21, 2023

History was again made as the Ferns played their second game of the series against the United States of America, as 12,721 fans turned up to see women’s international football played at Eden Park for the first time.

Head coach Jitka Klimková made three changes to the 11 that started in Wellington as Ally Green, Liz Anton and Paige Satchell started in place of Grace Neville, Ashleigh Ward and Betsy Hassett.

Before the game Klimková said that an aim for her side was to spend more time in attack, and the Ferns responded, with Satchell and Grace Jale combining down the right to earn the Ferns a corner in the 8th minute

The United States opened the scoring in the 26th minute, as late USA starter Ashley Hatch ensured the States started scoring earlier than in the capital, latching onto Trinity Rodman’s cross and diverting the ball past Nayler. Stand in captain Rose Lavelle then doubled the visitor’s lead in the 39th minute, with skipper Lavelle striking from close range.

The second half began with another debut for the Ferns, as Deven Jackson came on for Paige Satchell to become the 201st Ford Football Fern, and her club teammate Tayla O’Brien also won her first Ferns cap later in the half to become Fern 202. It capped off a whirlwind couple of months for the Eastern Suburbs attacking duo, who can now add winning their first Ford Football Ferns caps against the world number one team to winning Eastern Suburbs’ first National League title last month.

While the USA added to the scoresheet three times in the second half, with an unstoppable side foot from Swanson, adding to the double she scored in Wellington in the 53rd minute, while Rose Lavelle added to her tally in the 75th minute, while Taylor Koernick made it five in the 81st minute off a corner, Erin Nayler led from the back with a series of strong stops, while Gabi Rennie was again tireless up front.

Speaking to press after the game, Klimková was pleased with what the tour had enabled the team to do as turns its focus to this year’s World Cup.

“We were focusing a lot on our journey, on our processes and what we can improve in the next game. And I have to say, our shape got better. We were much more consistent.

“I could see the progress. I am very happy that we stayed consistent in our togetherness. That’s what we are building in our team: that positive culture and the many high fives and smiles and solution-focused communication on the field we saw today.

“For me as a coach that’s the one of the successes that we were waiting for and we were working on. And as I already said it’s just amazing to play in front of a home crowd and start to connect with our fans more and inspire them to come back to see us again. So from this perspective, it was a positive, positive tour.”

The importance of the fans, who were very vocal today, getting behind the Ferns was emphasised by defender Anna Green after the match.

“We’ve got really generous fans in that they do celebrate those small moments and obviously it’s tough for them to come out and see us on the receiving end of that score but they really relish the big tackle. They relish anything that we sort of get as well. And if we have a counter attack then they’re all behind us and I think that makes a huge difference.

“That’s what we’re gonna need from our home fans for the World Cup as well, when we are really battling and trying tooth and nail to get out of our group.”