Soccer: Football Ferns denied drought-breaking win

The Football Ferns have drawn 1-1 with Australia in Wollongong. Photo / Getty Images.
The Football Ferns have drawn 1-1 with Australia in Wollongong. Photo / Getty Images.

The New Zealand women's football team ended an 18-year losing streak against Australia with a 1-1 draw in Wollongong, but a last-gasp Australian equaliser ensured celebrations were muted.

The Football Ferns hadn't beaten Australia in 22 matches but Hayley Moorwood's 50th minute goal put New Zealand on course to end that run and give the side their first win against any side ranked inside the world's top 10.

The 79-cap midfielder headed Anna Green's left hand cross back across goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri into the bottom left hand corner shortly after halftime to cap a period of sustained New Zealand possession.

The Ferns missed chances to make the game safe and, after two top class saves from goalkeeper Jenny Bindon protected the lead in the latter stages, a fast-finishing home side found an equaliser through Thea Slayter in the third and final minute of added time.

The Football Ferns will take some pride, however, in extending their current unbeaten run to a record-equalling nine matches, including the recent 2-0 series win over China.

New Zealand coach Tony Readings said the side's consistency of performance throughout 2012 is laying a solid foundation for an Olympic campaign.

"We're asking for improved performances in every match prior to the Olympics and we got that today,'' he said. ``It was an improvement on the China series and clearly an improvement on what we've done previously against Australia.

"We strung together great periods of possession and we dominated the whole match apart from 15 minutes at the end.

"We're all disappointed not to win that match after the chance we gave ourselves but it's all about the Olympics and today was another step forward.''

The Football Ferns will get another chance to claim a rare victory when the two sides meet again in Wollongong on Wednesday afternoon.

Australia 1 (Thea Slayter 90+3)

New Zealand 1 (Hayley Moorwood 50)

HT: 0-0.

- APNZ

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