New Zealand vs Czech Republic She Believes Cup Recap
Updated: Apr 29, 2022
Heading into the second to last game of the She Believes Cup, New Zealand sat at the bottom of the table with 0 points while the Czech Republic sat in third with 1 point from a draw with the United States. Coming into this game, both teams wanted to leave the She Believes Cup with a win on their record. For this Ferns side, they are working to find their team identity while the Czech Republic is looking for consistent performances against top teams.
As the game began, it was evident that New Zealand wanted to work on building out from the backline, using their defense to pull in the Czech pressure then release it calmly. The game started favoring New Zealand but quickly became more back and forth between the squads with no real chances coming early. The flanks proved to be the only real method of offense production for either team as both teams were trying to work outside and then bring a cross into the box. For the Czech Republic especially, their crosses proved to be very dangerous and just lacked that final touch on the ball from a target player.
For the New Zealand backline, one noticeable difference was the security and patience brought into the back four with the return of Abby Erceg to the starting lineup. Erceg who plays for the North Carolina Courage in the NWSL is one of New Zealand’s best defenders and is able to win aerial battles as well as gain possession of players using her physical strength. Her distribution could have been better in this game but overall, she was very solid for the Ferns last evening.
In the 23’ minute, we saw a penalty shout from the Czech Republic after Gabi Rennie got tangled up with a Czech player inside the New Zealand 18. This was quickly waved off by Danielle Chesky although on replay, it was pretty clear a penalty should have been called and Rennie and New Zealand caught a rare break from Chesky. Just two minutes later, the Czech set up the best attacking moment of the game so far as Michaela Khyrova received a ball in, turned on Erceg, and put a good shot on target. Victoria Esson, the New Zealand keeper, was ready and made a good reaction save to deny any scoring.
After this burst of action, the game calmed down a bit. Both teams started to become more patient in their play and attack until Paige Satchell took New Zealand’s shot of the game in the 28’ from distance. Although not on target, it started to show promise of the New Zealand attack when they are clicking. Satchell was one of the key players in the first half for New Zealand as she was working to help defensively when needed and helping create chances offensively. Nearing the end of the first half, New Zealand had a few good chances on crosses and balls into the box with the best coming from Ria Percival as she hit the crossbar with a half cross-half chip on goal. This bounced straight up then down before being collected by the Cezch goalkeeper, Barbora Votíková. The half ended even 0-0 with no stoppage time.
Going into the second half, both teams made substitutions with Ria Percival coming off for Daisy Cleverley as well as Rennie coming off for Elizabeth Anton for New Zealand and Lucie Martinkova coming off for Andrea Staskova for the Czech Republic.
The best chance so far of the match came early on in the half with C.J. Bott on a breakaway after winning the ball in the center circle, beating three Czech defenders to leave her 1v1 with Votíková only for her to put it into the side netting. After this, the Czech began to take control of the match offensively although it was not for long as a cross came in for Hannah Wilkinson. Wilkinson headed the ball to the back post for Bott running in but it was expertly cleared away before Bott could get any touch on the ball. In the 62’ Wilkinson was subbed off for Emma Rolston and six minutes later, Satchell came off for Olivia Chance. In the 64’, the Czech made two substitutions with Katerina Buzková and Michaela Khyrova coming off for Antonie Stárová and Miroslava Mrázová.
Headed into the 70’, the game was still scoreless and tight as ever. New Zealand was trying to build out of the back and then used the flanks to spring their attack with the large majority coming from the left side with Ali Riley. The Czech had to play more on the counter at this point in the match, limiting their numbers forward. This started to switch throughout the following minutes of the match.
The Czech Republic created what they thought was the opening goal of the game off a well-worked play from a free-kick. The ball came in from the dead play and was cleared out, just for Gabriela Slajsová to put a good cross back into the box, Mrázová collected the ball and laid it off to Anna Dlasková who ripped a shot from outside the box. This shot rocketed off the crossbar and Esson’s back to fall in front of Stárová for an easy tap-in. But the flag was up on Stárová and there was no goal.
At this point in the match, New Zealand was starting to get their captain, Ali Riley, more directly involved with the play and attack. Riley had more space and time down the left flank and definitely took advantage of it as she was whipping in cross after cross, near and far post. Most of these ended up in the arms of Votíková but the production and work rate cannot go unnoticed from Riley who is an integral part of this team.
A few more substitutions were made as we approached the 80’ minute of the match, still goalless. The Czech brought on Franny Cerna as Slajsová’s night was finished. New Zealand was also forced to make a change as C.J. Bott went down from a head collision and had to be brought off due to concussion protocols. The Ferns brought Rebekah Stott on as her replacement and decided to also give Meikayla Moore some game time after her unfortunate first half against the United States days prior, with Claudia Bunge being brought off. Some Czech frustration with not being able to break the Ferns’ defense apart as well as not being able to effectively relieve pressure by the New Zealand front lines started to feel evident at this point in the match. The match seemed to begin to dull only for Simona Necidova to lift a cross into the box for Katerina Kotrcová as she headed the ball towards goal but the header lacked the power needed to get past Esson. There were three minutes of stoppage time in the match and the final minutes were all the Czech Republic. Tereza Krejcirková had a high shot that hit the upper corner of the crossbar as well as a shot from Dlasková that went just over the bar. The Czech made one final sub with Krejcirková coming out for Aneta Pochmanova. With that, Chesky called the game and it ended the way it started, 0-0. Both teams played great football and it was a very exciting second half despite the lack of goals. New Zealand finished the She Believes Cup with 1 point and a 0-2-1 record. The Czech Republic finished with 2 points and a 0-1-2 record.