The Westfield Junior Matildas are on the cusp of progressing to the knockout stage of the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship for the first time since 2009 after a 6-1 win over hosts Thailand.
Braces from Alana Jancevski, Hana Lowry and substitute Georgia Beaumont rounded out a comprehensive victory for Rae Dower’s side need, who now need just a draw against Bangladesh (on Saturday) to earn a spot in the Semi Finals.
Australia opened the scoring within five minutes when Claudia Mihocic’s ball split the Thailand defence before Jancesvki coolly finished past the goalkeeper with her first-time shot.
The Westfield Junior Matildas then doubled their lead in the 27th minute when Lowry got on the end of Jamilla Rankin’s cross to send the ball looping over the goalkeeper and into the net.
A defensive error from the Thai goalkeeper led to a tap-in for Jancevski’s second goal in first-half stoppage-time, before Lowry also brought up her brace with a curling shot from outside the box before the end of the half.
Beaumont made it five goals for Australia five minutes into the second half when the substitute headed home Rankin’s pinpoint cross at the back-post.
Less than 10 minutes later, Beaumont had her second of the night and Australia’s sixth when she controlled Charlize Rule’s cross before volleying the ball into the net.
Thailand managed to pull one goal back through a smart finish after from Janista Jinantuya, who was played in behind Australia’s defence in the 70th minute.
But it was far too little too late as Australia sealed a dominant three points to be on the verge of qualifying for the knockout stage for the first time in 10 years.
"I'm really proud of the whole team performance last night as we picked up our first win of the tournament," said coach Dower.
"Against the home nation and with a strong crowd cheering them on, Thailand were a very good technical, well organised team. We needed to play well all across the park and our entire team, including the subs that came on executed the game plan very well.
"I thought our pressing was excellent and we created a number of goals from building sustained pressure on Thailand. Our combination play in and around the middle of the park was also very good and that led to scoring some really great team goals. The rain and pitch surface played it's part, especially in the second half where we weren't as clinical with our passing game trying to adapt to the heavy conditions.
"We also have some great learning moments to come out of the match, including conceding our first goal throughout the entire qualification process. We will continue to work on improving on all aspects, particularly being more clinical in front of goals. I thought we wasted another dozen or so really good opportunities to score and in tournament football, goal average can be very telling.
"All in all, another really impressive performance from the team and another stepping stone to build on the platform we've set up over these last 12 months. We'll rest and recover over the next couple of days as we look towards our next match against Bangladesh on Saturday."
The Westfield Junior Matildas play the final game of the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship Group Stage against Bangladesh on Saturday from 7pm AEST.
You can watch a live stream of the match on the Westfield Matildas website.
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Westfield Junior Matildas | Match Schedule – 2019 AFC U-16 Women’s Championship
Australia vs Bangladesh
Date: Saturday, 21 September 2019
Venue: IPE Chonburi Stadium, Chonburi, Thailand
Kick-off: 4.00pm (local); 7.00pm (AEST)
Admission: Open to the public