Perth And City Prepare For Huge Clash

Above: Perth Glory captain Tash Rigby, captured in action against Sydney FC earlier this season. Photo: Kris Goman for Impetus.

With two teams firmly engaged in the Finals race meeting head-on at Central Coast Stadium on Sunday, Impetus’ Ben Gilby heard from Perth Glory captain Tash Rigby and Melbourne City head coach Rado Vidosic (12/2/22).

Perth Glory captain Tash Rigby spoke about her huge pride in achieving a 1-0 win over Adelaide United on Thursday and how the deep bond in the team is driving their bid for a place in the Finals.

An ebullient Rigby revealed how after a combination of tough seasons for the club and being forced on the road since the beginning of January, things are coming good at last. Something that was encapsulated in the win over the South Australians.

“Oh my God, I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy after a game! It was so important and we tried to articulate that before the game. I couldn’t have asked for more from the girls. They gave every inch of themselves. It was a very intense game and we were able to grind it out. The energy in the team is great and it’s a real confidence boost.

“Over the last couple of seasons, we’ve had some tough runs, so these moments make it all worth it. I couldn’t be doing it with a better group of girls. To experience this with them is phenomenal.

“We knew Adelaide were going to be really tough, we went down to them 4-2 earlier in the season. Now we take on Melbourne City, we’re playing at Central Coast Stadium which we believe to be our 100% good luck stadium as we’ve had two great performances there (wins over Western Sydney Wanderers and Adelaide United). We have a few Central Coast fans on our side now as well!”

Rigby reflected on the road trip nature of Perth Glory’s enforced time on the road due to the COVID border restrictions in Western Australia.

“I’d say the last two weeks are probably the best it’s been. We now know we are here for the rest of the season. There are no uncertainties. We’ve got some amazing characters in the group and we’ve been able to gel and find cohesion. It’s created a closer group.”

The win over Adelaide United on Thursday came despite playing for much of the second half without striker Susan Phonsongkham who was sent off after receiving two yellow cards. Rigby revealed what the dismissal did in terms of team structure and cohesion.

“We tried to stay more compact, tighter, and not let anyone through. I really felt after the game almost like that the sending-off didn’t happen as Adelaide didn’t really break through and we were still able to go on the attack. That response was really important.”

Above: Perth Glory captain Tash Rigby speaking to the media on Friday. Photo: Perth Glory.

The Adelaide win came on the back of a disappointing result in Canberra last weekend where Perth lost a 3-1 lead in the final ten minutes and only left the national capital with a point.

The Glory defender spoke about how the outcome of that game was used as a motivating tool going into the match with the South Australians.

“After the review, we realized we played really well in the middle hour of the game, but not so good in the fifteen minutes at the start and end. So we knew that we needed to look at our game management. It’s always tough playing at Canberra, they have a fantastic crowd, but we didn’t play well enough in the final 10 minutes. We need to get that better focus on game management.”

Positivity is high in the camp, but focus has to move on to being tight once more for a tough game with Melbourne City.

“The camp is elated, but the turnaround is really quick,” Perth’s captain emphasized. “We’ve made sure we had a recovery day today (Friday) and we’re going to hone in our focus for City tomorrow. We need to ride on the energy going into the game.

“The Finals word is absolutely being banded around! Absolutely! We’re sitting equal third at the moment. It’s probably going to be a fight between us, Victory and Adelaide for who makes Finals. I think Sydney and City pretty much are certain for Finals.

“The sacrifices we’ve made being over here (in a North Sydney hub) for almost 10 weeks in total. We don’t just want to be here. We have four games left and Finals is a real chance for us. We need to be pushing for the best. We’re a collective group and we want that moment. It’s so exciting.”

With Susan Phonsongkham out due to suspension after receiving two yellow cards against Adelaide United, Rigby revealed that there is a chance that Leena Khamis may potentially be available for the weekend’s game.

Focusing specifically on Melbourne City, with the Sky Blues having Rebekah Stott and Hannah Wilkinson in their travelling party before they depart for international duty with New Zealand, Perth’s captain knows that she will have to be marshalling her defence strongly on Sunday.

“Stotty is such an incredible player and inspiration to everyone. On the field she is a menace. The service she provides to Wilkinson is so good. We were really tight on our players against Adelaide, so we’ll be aiming to do the same on Sunday.”

Above: Melbourne City head coach Rado Vidosic speaking to the media on Friday. Photo: Melbourne City.

Melbourne City head coach Rado Vidosic was full of praise for Perth Glory’s achievements this season and knows that his team face an exceptionally stern test on Sunday.

“I’m expecting a tough game. I’ve read what Alex (Epakis, Perth Glory head coach) was saying about their game with Adelaide being in tough conditions (temperatures over 30C), being away from family, friends, and loved ones. But, I think that situation has really galvanized them as a unit. They have been together for a long time now.

“You can see that camaraderie, that never say die attitude, and the fighting spirit they have produced. It has been exceptional. When they were down to 10 players (after Susan Phonsongkham was sent off), you didn’t notice it. It was unbelievable.

“You could hear them talking to each other through the whole game. The communication, the encouragement was excellent. One player that stood out for me was Sarah Cain. She was with us last season. To see her so dominant was really good to see. Her improvement under Alex is good.”

Whilst City are three points clear of those below them in the Finals race, Vidosic knows that nothing can be taken for granted. “It’s a very important game for us and for them. Every game is important now as here are less and less to play.

“We can’t talk about Finals, we have to take one game at a time. Once you start talking about Finals then you lose focus on the current game. That is something that you can’t do. We have to match Perth and then hope our quality comes out on top.”

In terms of availability, Vidosic had good news to share. “We have a full set of players available, everyone who had COVID is also back and available.”

Artwork: Graphics by PW.

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