Australia 0 vs. 0 Belgium
2.30pm push back
At the start of the game, Australia are playing a 3-2-3-2 formation, with Belgium going for a 2-3-2-3 when going forward, but defensively a forward drops back, meaning that they have a 3 vs. 3 in attack.
The first short corner is for Australia, in 13th minute of the game. It’s for a foot in the circle. Number 7 for the Aussie’s Jodie Kenny takes the shot, it’s saved, but Aussies get another roll of the dice. This time the Belgium first runner 15, takes it in the body. The umpire awards a free hit for Belgium, but she’s hurt. The physio is called on to help the player limp off the pitch. A poor pass out from the hit out, puts the Red Panthers half back under pressure, but a bit of patience and some skill from Barbara Nelen, sees them advance further forward. The 26 year old really is the star of this team, moving the ball forward with her drives down the pitch and combinations with her team mates. Generally, though, it has been a uneventful first period and the score is 0 – 0 after 15 minutes.
In the second period Australia go for a 2-3-2-3, with Jodie Kenny acting as a deep playmaker. Two minutes into the quarter, the Hockeroos get a shot off, but saved by Belgium’s keeper Aisling D’Hooghe. It’s been all Australia since the restart, but only one shot so far.
Barbara Nelen gets her team moving again, as she drives into the circle. She moves to the right, evading tackle after tackle but runs out of space when the Australian keeper Rachael Lynch comes out to meet her near the baseline. Belgium are enjoying a period of high possession now, but struggle to create good chances, with Joanne Peeters spilling the ball just outside of the circle. Pauline Lecef drives towards the central channel and wins a foul just behind the 25 line. She smashes the ball into the circle, but it is touched over the bar, by her own team mate.
In the tenth minute, Australia win a short corner after a stick foul in the final quarter of the pitch. The injection goes out to the second, Jodie Kenny the big danger for the team isn’t on the pitch for this one. The ball is switched to the right post, but Aussie Kathryn Slattery doesn’t quite connect with it properly and it goes off the back line.
A minute later, the Aussies win another short corner. This time Kenny is on the pitch and stands at the top of the ‘D’, in the first castle to the left. It’s a poor injection and the Belgiums counter. It’s a toothless attack, however, which breaks down. The Hockeyroos revert back to a 3-2-3-2. Belgium are now playing the same. During an attack in the last minute of the first half the Belgium number 7, Judith Vandermeiren, puts herself about and goes down holding her left foot, although, she’s up and about in no time at all. At the break it’s 0 – 0, which no clear cut chances, apart from the Australian short corners.
In the fifth minute of the third period. Rosie Malone and Brooke Peris combine down the left wing and win a long corner, but the Belgiums are handy in defence and block all roads to the goal. Six minutes later Judith Vandermeiren takes a hit to the knee, but is low down to the ground and Australia get the free hit. She’s up again and helping her team defend. Vandermeiren nearly scores soon afterwards, as she makes a good run to the top of the ‘D’, as Lien Hillewaert sends her a long pass from the right on the halfway line, but it doesn’t quite reach her and the move breaks down.
Eimly Hurts is brought down win the circle, whilst driving forward and Australia win another short corner. Georgina Morgan, in the second castle, unleashes a drag, but it’s a comfortable height for D’Hooghe and ithe shot is palmed away.
13th minute Brooke Perris is shown a green card.
The Belgium fans have been great, making loads of noise. One of them has a rather big drum and has been using it to create a bit of atmosphere. Their team get two shots on goal, but both are straight at Rachael Lynch. With a few seconds remaining, the Australians find their captain Emily Smith in the circle, but the ball is bouncing off the turf and it bobbles over her stick.
It’s the end f the third period now and the game is still goalless.
In the final period of the match the Aussies are playing a 3-2-3-2, with Belgium deploying a 3-4-3 formation.
In the second minute Kalindi Commerford is shown a green card. This doesn’t seem to happen her team at all though, as the Australians win another short corner, for a foot in the circle. Jodie Kenny has her shot blocked and Belgium look to counter, but Aussies are fast and manage to slow the pace of the attack down, forcing the Belgium team backwards. Three minutes later, Commerford is back on the pitch, but Emily Hurts is shown a yellow card.
Barbara Nelen gets past Edwina Bone and feeds Anne-Sophie Weyns inside the circle, but Rachael Lynch does well with the resulting shot and her defence remove the ball from danger.
Brooke Peris drives into the circle, on the right and feeds the ball to her team mate Kathryn Slattery, but the shot is blocked and the move breaks down. The game is becoming quite end to end now, with both teams looking to transition quickly. I’m sensing that whoever fatigues first will potentially concede a goal.
With the end of the match approaching Belgium’s Jill Boon is given a green card. In the last minute Rosie Malone picks up a long ball down the left, drives into the circle and shoots, and sees her effort saved. Brooke Peris rebounds, but can’t score, the ball is played away…. The game comes to an end, with neither team able to score. Australia are now top of the group, with four points, with their third and final pool game against New Zealand. Belgium are bottom, with out ever having played badly in their two matches. They will look to beat Japan in order to progress to the cross over rounds.
Final score 0 – 0.