Author: Mitch Wynd
A 54th minute goal to Ambre Ballenghein has given the Hockeyroos their first defeat of the European leg in Antwerp.
In Savannah Fitzpatrick’s 50th appearance, it was a match for defenders as neither team was really able to take a hold of the contest one way or the other.
The first quarter saw Australia force Belgium into holding possession in the corner at times, with the major moment being Jocelyn Bartram’s goal-line clearance after the ball had taken a deflection between her legs.
Belgium went on the front foot in the second quarter, making a series of attacks that were well repelled by the Australian defenders - and Rachael Lynch made an impressive double save in her record 208th appearance for an Australian goalkeeper.
Australia looked to have scored in the 22nd minute, however after a lengthy umpire’s referral which originally saw the goal stand, it was determined that there had been no attacking touch from Australia inside the circle.
Belgium continued to build chances as the second half started, with a shot across goal from Sophie Limauge very nearly falling directly in the path of Louise Versavel with an empty net in front of her.
Both defences continued to hold firm, and Australia looked to make use of a referral to maybe force a penalty corner. The referral was unsuccessful, and the deadlock continued into three-quarter time.
Australia went on the attack in the final quarter, winning a series of penalty corners but failing to score from any of them.
The hosts then won their first penalty corner of the match, and after the initial shot was made, Ambre Ballenghein found space and deflected the ball in for a 54th minute goal.
Australia then decided to roll the dice by bringing Lynch off and playing with 11 outfielders, and some desperate tackles prevented Belgium from walking in a second goal.
Australia play their final home-and-away match against the Netherlands on Sunday in Amstelveen.
Belgium 1 (Ballenghein 54’)