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Latest Junior Ferns match report 1
Junior Ferns Fire Dozen Goal Starting Salvo
by Jeremy Ruane
Sarah Morton





Selina Unamba





Rebecca Lake





Ramona Padio





Grace Jale





Leah Jaro





Malia Steinmetz





Margaret Joseph





Nicole Mettam





Belinda Goida looks to hold off the challenge
of Emma Main





Sammi Tawharu lines up a shot as Faith Kasiray looks on. This one went wide.




Hannah Blake plays a pass, watched by Melissa Jofari (17)




Sarah Morton forced to check her run towards goal
New Zealand's Junior Ferns kicked off their quest to qualify for the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Finals in France on July 11, pounding Papua New Guinea 12-0 in the opening match of the OFC U-19 Women's Championship at Ngahue Reserve.

But their performance, although dominant, wasn't as sharp as the scoreline suggests, with Gareth Turnbull's charges very much short of a gallop, particularly in the first half of this encounter, which was punctuated with inconsistency, inaccuracy and a lack of intensity by those clad in white.

Too often, precision, consistency and quality were conspicuous by their absence in their overall play, and there was a distinct lack of composure about their finishing, with opportunities snatched at on occasions when more haste, less speed would have proven far more beneficial.

Such as in the second minute, when Grace Jale volleyed wildly wide after Saskia Vosper and Emma Main had teamed up on the right, the latter's cross arcing over the head of Jacqui Hand into the stride of the commanding midfielder.

Two minutes later, Rebecca Lake released Vosper down the right, the fullback standing up Natasha Sagem a treat before picking out Hannah Blake with a lovely cross.

Papuan 'keeper Faith Kasiray didn't know much about what happened next, Blake's cannon-like shot striking the goalkeeper and ricocheting over a crossbar which Sammi Tawharu grazed with a rising ten yard effort in the ninth minute, after Lake, Vosper and Main had cut a swathe through the left-hand side of PNG's defence.

Five minutes later, Tawharu and Main worked a delightful one-two in the penalty area which allowed the former to get to the by-line and fizz a delicious low cross across the goalmouth. Hand somehow failed to get on the end of it - had she slid in, she would almost certainly have been rewarded with the opening goal.

This materialised in the sixteenth minute, and came about following a Sarah Morton corner. PNG cleared it to Blake, who slammed the ball into the roof of the net from fifteen yards to ease any nerves which may have been rising in the Junior Ferns' ranks.

Kasiray was called upon to save three times in the next five minutes as the Kiwis looked to build on that advantage. Main was twice denied in quick succession by the 'keeper, who wasn't aided by her defenders conceding possession cheaply in their defensive third.

Tawharu, too, was thwarted by Kasilay in this phase of play, after an enchanting run by Malia Steinmetz which saw her nonchalantly weave her way through three would-be tackles before setting up the number nine, whose first touch deserted her half-way through the first half, Liz Anton having sent Morton scampering down the left en route to picking out Tawharu with a measured cross.

It wasn't until the 31st minute that the Junior Ferns doubled their advantage. Jale was the instigator of the attack, her fine pass releasing Main down the right, from where she scythed into the penalty area before unselfishly setting up Tawharu for a tap-in.

Blake twice went close inside the next six minutes before Papuan playmaker Ramona Padio reminded the host nation's representatives that the job wasn't done, rattling the near post with a well-taken corner in the 42nd minute after Vosper's timely recovering tackle had curtailed Padio's passage towards the target, on what was PNG's first attack of note.

Until that point, Anna Leat had been a spectator, but soon after she was grabbing a Padio free-kick and launching a counter-attack with a fine piece of distribution which allowed Main to move through the gears down the left before picking out Jale with a cross.

Her measured shot was directed straight at Kasiray, unlike the Junior Ferns' two attempts on goal in first half stoppage time, both of which struck the back of the net to bring about the 4-0 half-time scoreline.

The first of them saw Lake and Jale combining to play in Hand, who had Blake in support as she bore down on goal with just Kasiray to beat. Hand nearly made a meal of it, however, her opting to play in Blake resulting in a pass which was far too near the goalkeeper for comfort.

Kasiray, suitably startled, could only parry the ball, allowing Blake to recover the situation and shoot first time. Kasiray blocked this effort, but couldn't prevent the rebound from falling to Hand, who couldn't miss from point-blank range.

Seconds later, the Junior Ferns made it four with the last kick of the half. Morton whipped in a free-kick over the heads of both Jale and Hand to Tawharu, lurking in behind them.

From an acute angle, she rattled the crossbar, the ball dropping perfectly for Hand, who somehow saw her shot blocked on the line. There was no such obstacle blocking Blake's point-blank range bullet, however, the ball crashing into the roof of the net to wrap up a first half which definitely had a 'must do better' feel to it about the Junior Ferns' performance.

Whatever was in their half-time tea certainly had the desired effect at this Spartan third-world-like venue! First impressions of Ngahue Reserve are very much of a work in progress which is being cobbled together as and when funds permit, its uncovered stands for spectators and portacabins for use by officials and competing teams ample evidence for the prosecution on this score.

Just 45 seconds into the second spell, Morton played a great ball in off the left to Main, who cut inside past two opponents before lashing a shot narrowly past the far post.

Three minutes later, half-time substitute Dayna Stevens' first touch in international football saw New Zealand's fifth goal registered, Hand's replacement turning the ball home after Anton and Tawharu had combined to create the opening.

5-0 became 6-0 two minutes later, Blake's slide-rule pass allowing Main to bust the offside trap and finish unerringly, a goal to which PNG responded through Padio, who tested Leat from distance, and was the lone player in the Papuans' ranks who would not have looked out of place had she been in the New Zealand line-up.

Sadly for Padio, she was all too often ploughing a lone furrow for the cause, so was easily contained by a Junior Ferns side which played with far more vim and vigour in this half - no way were they satisfied with just six goals on the scoreboard!

In the 57th minute, Anton released Morton down the left once more, and after beating one, she linked with Main to present Blake with a chance which Kasiray saved well, a feat she repeated seconds later to deny Tawharu, after Blake had picked out the number nine in the penalty area.

Only some brave defending by PNG captain Margaret Joseph prevented the Junior Ferns from scoring in the 59th minute, the defender hooking the ball off the line as she won a foot-race with Main, who had lobbed Kasiray from distance after being released by Jale.

From Morton's resulting corner, Lake rattled the bar with a header, seconds before Blake worked a one-two with Stevens as she burst into the penalty area before directing a low cross across the bows of the incoming figure of Main.

No one in white was following in behind Main on this occasion, but when the Junior Ferns next attacked, in the 64th minute, the scoreboard operators were roused from their slumbers - a 10am kick-off time for any international can most kindly be described as challenging for anyone involved in its production!

This includes the match officials, and it must be said Tongan referee Tapaita Lelenga and her assistants were far from wide awake where some of their decisions in this match were concerned.

They made the right call on this occasion, however, awarding Main her second goal of the game as she turned home a sumptuous cross from Morton, who had been released down the left once more, this time by Jale.

Two minutes later, Anton and Steinmetz combined to send Stevens scorching through the Papuan rearguard at pace, and she deftly steered the ball beyond Kasiray to make it 8-0.

A brief lull in proceedings followed while Jale's replacement, Nicole Mettam, got up to speed. Fellow substitute Serena Murrihy was introduced to the fray simultaneously, but unlike Stevens, her debut was less than memorable, to the extent that the number of times the injured Lily Bray's late replacement gave the ball away in the last 25 minutes very likely eclipsed the tally of her passes which found their way to team-mates.

In the 74th minute, Mettam was instrumental in a move which also featured Tawharu and Blake, and culminated in Main squandering a great chance to complete her hat-trick when pulling her shot wide of the target.

Sixty seconds later, Stevens became the first player to complete a personal treble - not the worst way in the world to mark your international debut! - when turning home Tawharu's cross for the Junior Ferns' fifth goal of the half.

More were to follow, but not before a bout of head tennis between Steinmetz, Main and Blake had bamboozled the Papuan defenders, allowing Tawharu to burst through on goal with just Kasiray to beat, only to scuff her shot past the near post.

To her credit, PNG's goalkeeper had been cutting out a lot of threatening Junior Ferns raids with great anticipation, but six minutes from time she was afforded no chance as Blake completed her hat-trick, unselfishly presented to her by Mettam.

Only a fine tackle by Belinda Giada prevented Main from giving the Junior Ferns an eleven-goal cushion in the 85th minute, but that tally was reached two minutes later in fine style.

Tawharu released Main down the right before she picked out Blake with a cross which rewarded the striker's arced run, one which took her away from the defence and afforded her all the time in the world to turn the ball home from six yards.

The race was on to beat the clock and mark New Zealand's fiftieth international fixture with Papua New Guinea at all levels of the game with a round dozen goals-wise.

The stoppage time intervention of Joseph prevented Stevens and Main from capitalising on another fine through ball from Anton - the central defender hardly put a foot wrong throughout this match - but with time up on the clock, a tired challenge from Leah Karo sent Tawharu sprawling in the penalty area.

Referee Lelenga had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot, and with the very last kick of the contest, Tawharu despatched the spot kick past Kasiray to wrap up a 12-0 win for the Junior Ferns over a Papua New Guinea team which was expected to present the host nation's representatives with their toughest challenge of what is a drawn-out round-robin tournament.

The other results on the first match-day of five saw New Caledonia edge Samoa 1-0, while Fiji, whom the Junior Ferns face at 10am on Friday, proved too strong for Tonga, prevailing 4-0.

Junior Ferns:     Leat; Vosper, Lake (Murrihy, 65), Anton, Morton; Jale (Mettam, 65), Steinmetz, Blake; Main, Tawharu, Hand (Stevens, 46)
Papua NG:     Kasiray; Karo, Joseph, Natera, Sagem; Ageva, Sep (Tamgol, 67), Padio, Giada (booked, 56), Unamba; Maiyosi (Jofari, 46)
Referee:     Tapaita Lelenga (Tonga)
Emma Main challenges Natasha Sagem





Sammi Tawharu





Faith Kasiray





Liz Anton





Natasha Sagem





Hannah Blake





Belinda Giada





Emma Main





Isabella Natera





The ball takes evasive action as Grace Jale and Melissa Jofari (17) collide in midfield





Serena Murrihy





Emma Main weaving her way through PNG's defence




Saskia Vosper (2) watches Anna Leat catch the ball
Hat-trick coming up! Dayna Stevens about to steer home her hat-trick strike past Faith Kasiray
Sammi Tawharu wraps up the scoring from the penalty spot with the last kick of the game


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