Mary Fowler's game-saving moment as Matildas rocked by Caitlin Foord blow before Olympics

The Matildas salvaged a draw with China, but there are big concerns ahead of the Paris Games.

Mary Fowler produced a brilliant free-kick to help Michelle Heyman score the equaliser, but the Matildas were rocked by a concerning blow for Caitlin Foord in their 1-1 draw with China on Friday night. Foord suffered a hamstring injury at Adelaide Oval in an untimely development for the Matildas with the Olympics just around the corner.

The Arsenal player lasted just 15 minutes after being brought on as a substitute in the second half. "I'm a bit concerned," Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson said after the game. "It's easy to say after something like that happens - should I really have used her today or should I have let her rest?

"We don't know how serious it is but she said she felt something. And if that would have been a World Cup game or Olympic game I think she would have tried to play on but at this point there's no way that we would risk that."

Mary Fowler and Caitlin Foord in action for the Matildas.
Mary Fowler rescued the Matildas with a rocket free-kick, but Caitlin Foord went down with a worrying injury. Image: Getty/Channel 10

Foord's importance to the Matildas at the Paris Olympics can't be understated, given Sam Kerr's unavailability due to a knee injury. She will almost certainly miss the second match against China in Sydney on Monday night as she nurses the injury.

"Hopefully it's not too serious," Gustavsson added. "But I can say now that if it's the slightest risk, there's no way I'm going to play a player like that in the second game because it's all about getting out of this camp without injuries."

The Matildas looked disjointed in the first half on Friday night before getting some cohesion when Gustavsson brought on some big names in the second. The Aussies trailed 1-0 for the majority of the game, before Fowler sent in a scorching free-kick in injury time that Heyman tapped in after the keeper couldn't handle it.

Gustavsson started the game with an experimental line-up, hoping to find some answers for what he said were four undecided positions in his 18-player squad for the Olympics. Foord, Steph Catley, Ellie Carpenter and Hayley Raso were all kept on the bench for the first half, and the results were obvious to the coach.

"It's a mix of looking for answers," Gustavsson said. "We had almost six different starting players than the most common starting line-up in the World Cup (last year). We wanted to evaluate players for selection.

"And that also influenced the game a little bit with a new relationship on right side, new relationship on left side, new centre midfield relationship - a lot of new new things. And I think you could see that as well. It wasn't as synced and connected as we normally see in a Matilda team."

Caitlin Foord, pictured here after suffering a hamstring injury.
Caitlin Foord suffered a hamstring injury in the Matildas' draw with China.
Mary Fowler and Steph Catley, pictured here after Michelle Heyman's late goal.
Mary Fowler and Steph Catley celebrate after Michelle Heyman's late goal.

When the big guns were summoned for the final 35 minutes, the Matildas found some form. "We had a bit of a challenge coming into this game," Gustavsson said.

"Some players that played in A-League hadn't played football for a very long time going into it, meaning you're not really in season and in form. Some (European-based) players are in the end of the season and coming in fatigued and tired from travelling, from playing.

"We needed to find the right balance and I am not using that as an excuse ... but that's how we felt as coaches. In the first half for some reason we actually looked a bit tired, not as aggressive that we can be ...we played way too slow."

with AAP