Catley return provides encouragement for Westfield Matildas
Steph Catley provided the silver lining on a frustrating night for the Westfield Matildas that resulted in a 0-0 draw with a stoic Korea Republic.
The 24-year-old defender looked typically classy and composed in Australia's opening 2018 AFC Women's Asian Cup match in Amman.
Casual observers could hardly have known her it was her first minutes since she won the Westfield W-League Grand Final with Melbourne City in February.
Injury had hampered those celebrations and forced Catley to sit on the sidelines at last month's Algarve Cup, leaving her in a race against time to be fit for the Westfield Matildas' shot at silverware in Jordan.
But she confidently shook off the fitness concerns to join Clare Polkinghorne in the heart of defence, exhibiting the kind of versatility that makes the natural left-back such a valued member of Alen Stajcic's squad.
And while her athleticism is a useful asset when it comes to nullifying agile forwards, the creative City captain didn't miss the chance to issue a reminder of her attacking talents.
Catley dug deep to surge forward on Australia's left flank in the dying stages of the game and deliver a pin-point low cross that substitute Kyah Simon unfortunately stabbed over the bar.
It was the brightest moment in a game that Korea Republic's rigid defence otherwise ensured would be a grind.
There were no surprises that Catley was the player to at least momentarily break the match open, having done so on countless occasions since her international debut in 2012.
That propensity to lead will prove essential when cool heads are again needed to break down a stubborn rearguard or, hopefully, help the Westfield Matildas thrive at the pointy end of the tournament.
Catley appears ready to provide when it matters.