Adelaide United 4-2 Perth Glory
By Ben Gilby (1/1/22)
Above: Perth Glory’s Gemma Craine (left) tangles with Adelaide United’s Nanako Sasaski. Photo: Perth Glory.
Adelaide United sent Perth Glory to their first defeat of the season in a match that swung one way then the other in humid conditions at Coopers Stadium.
Reds head coach Adrian Stenta gave first starts to returning hero Dylan Holmes and American Kayla Sharples. Fellow countrywoman Cyera Hintzen was given her Perth Glory debut and Susan Phonsongkham came into the eleven from the kick-off for the Western Australians. Lisa De Vanna was missing from Alex Epakis’ squad.
Adelaide started strongly, focusing their attacks along both flanks. The left was particularly productive in the early exchanges with Chelsie Dawber combining with Fiona Worts along that side.
Holmes was busy from the off, providing strong cover at the back and working hard to minimize the threat of Alana Jancevski. Whilst Gemma Craine was at the heart of Perth’s offensive threat, Emily Condon and Sharples were putting in the hard yards to attempt to nullify the Derbyshire-born star. Phonsongkham was also buzzing around, earning plenty of possession and driving hard to create.
United were ahead in terms of possession, but couldn’t find the final ball to penetrate the five-strong Perth backline, and Brisbane Roar could provide the details on what happens when you fail to do that against Alex Epakis’ side.
Perth came agonizingly close to making their South Australian hosts pay with 20 minutes on the clock. Sarah Carroll was tripped by Hayward on the left. Kim Carroll floated a ball in which eluded the heads of everyone before dropping to Phonsongkham who got away from her marker Nanako Sasaki to stretch out and direct the ball against the left-hand post with Hintzen unable to get a follow up on it.
With half an hour on the clock, with chances really at a premium, Adelaide got their first effort on target when Condon’s corner on left was met by Worts who got up well, but her header landed comfortably into Morgan Aquino’s arms.
However, just two minutes later, United made the breakthrough. Condon broke through the midfield, getting the better of Kim Carroll and Mie Leth-Jans before finding Dawber in space on the left-hand side of the box. The locally born striker doesn’t miss from there and her shot across Aquino put Adelaide ahead.
The hosts dialled up the pressure forcing a succession of corners leading up to the half-time interval. Adelaide were pushing up with real pace whenever Perth had possession to force errors.
Despite spending quite a bit of time on the backfoot in all three games this season, Perth have a habit of being able to hit back and take chances when necessary. With three minutes of the half left. Jancevski and Phonsongkham put together a quick exchange of one-touch passes along the right to bypass would-be defenders. The latter’s curved ball into the box was perfectly weighted to roll into the path of Hintzen who shot home a first-time effort on her debut between Grove’s legs.
However, in stoppage time at the end of the half, Phonsongkham lost possession just outside her own box, Adelaide made the visitors pay the ultimate price. Sasaki played a ball to Dawber with the outside of her foot and the ever-dangerous South Australian saw off Kim Carroll and rifled a shot into the top right-hand side of the net before Liz Anton could get a block in.
Dawber had two chances to complete her hat-trick within moments of the second-half opening. The closest was the second opportunity. Substitute Deborah-Ann de la Harpe played a short pass to Phonsongkham, but the former Western Sydney Wanderers midfielder had her pocket pinched by Holmes who combined with Worts to play a ball across to Dawber who was unmarked, but Anton got a block on the shot.
Adelaide came close once more shortly afterward as teenage defender Ella Tonkin, a SA NTC product, got up between Anton and Rigby but directed her header wide of the left-hand post.
It took Perth seven minutes to weather the Adelaide storm, but crucially for them, they were able to score when the chance came. Craine was found in the box on the far left-hand side with her back to goal. A combination of Sharples’ knee and thigh made contact with the striker’s back in a needless challenge which gave referee Rebecca Mackie no option but to award a penalty.
Jancevski stepped up and hit a shot that was initially blocked, but agonizingly for Annalee Grove, it rolled out of her grasp and over the line, with the 18-year-old scoring her second goal in three games this season.
Sharples was lucky to avoid conceding another spot-kick five minutes later when she looked to pull Phonsongkham by the shirt in the box. Perth were now having their longest spell of offensive pressure and Grove had to be alert to push away Phonsongkam’s shot from the left-hand side of the box.
Hintzen came agonizingly close shortly afterward as she took one touch and rifled a left-footed effort against the underside of the bar. The American did find the net later after being played through by Craine, but the effort was correctly ruled out for offside.
After a drinks break, Worts was responsible for Adelaide’s first chance in 20 minutes when the striker got a shot away under the close attention of Kim Carroll which was powered over the bar.
With thirteen minutes to go, and at the ninth attempt, an Adelaide corner finally got its reward. Worts stepped up on the right and curled a sensational ball in which left Aquino in doubt whether to stay or come towards it and Matilda McNamara was able to come running through the middle of the Perth box unmarked to head home.
Within four minutes, matters were settled when Emilia Murray earned a free-kick on the edge of the box under the close attention of Jancevski. Condon stepped up to the left of centre, just over 20 yards out, and curled her shot into the far corner.
Within moments, Adelaide thought they had scored again when Worts got away and fired home, but in the build-up, the Reds’ striker’s elbow made contact with the face of Perth captain Tash Rigby and rather than a goal, Worts received a yellow card.
The overall scoreline was harsh on Perth who hit the woodwork twice, but Adelaide reaped the rewards for producing an offensive display which was arguably their best of the campaign.
Adelaide United’s two-goal hero Chelsie Dawber said: “I scored last time against Melbourne City and it’s good to get a few more goals. It’s a good result. We had most possession. The thing is we need to be taking our chances.”
Perth Glory head coach Alex Epakis recognized that his team was not quite at their best.“We were good enough at times, but there were times when we weren’t. It was an inconsistent performance.
“I believe that not playing competitively for three weeks meant we didn’t have the edge we needed to manage the game from start to finish. The times we did play well, I really liked what we did and we were effective in phases.
“We are going to focus on that and eradicate the pressure we put on ourselves with cheap, silly turnovers. We know we can better.”
Teams: ADELAIDE UNITED: Grove, E.Hodgson, Tonkin, McNamara, Sharples, Sasaki, Holmes, Condon, Hayward, Dawber, Worts. Substitutes: Templeman (GK), Stanbury, Omiya, Varley, Murray.
Scorer: Dawber 32′, 45+2′, McNamara 77′, Condon 81′.
PERTH GLORY: Aquino, S.Carroll, Leth-Jans, Anton, K.Carroll, Rigby, Jancevski, Phonsongkham, Hintzen, Craine, Lowry. Substitutes: Newbon (GK), de la Harpe, Sakalis, Cain, Hooks.
Scorer: Hintzen 42′, Jancevski (pen) 53′
Referee: Rebecca Mackie.