Canberra United 2-2 Perth Glory
By Kieran Yap (19/11/22)
Above: Goalscoring celebrations for Canberra United at McKellar Park. Photo: Canberra United.
Canberra United welcomed Perth Glory to McKellar Park in a fixture that promised goals. When these two last met, the result was a dramatic 3-3 draw, and this round one match started in similarly frenetic style.
Glory named the hugely talented Bella Wallhead in their starting line-up for the first time since the 2020/21 season, and the youngster and her defensive colleagues had to step up in the early stages.
Canberra started aggressively and with attacking intent. Moving the ball forward at pace was valued over possession by the home side, and they created a flurry of goal-scoring chances in the opening minutes.
Michelle Heyman looked dangerous early. The A-League Women’s star striker skipped around Glory keeper Sarah Langman but hit her shot over the bar.
Wu Chenshu was next to threaten for Canberra United. Her shot from the edge of the box flew just over the bar. Following efforts from Vesna Milivojević and the returning Nikki Flannery, Perth Glory had Langman to thank for keeping things level.
Canberra United’s fast start paid off in the 12th minute. New signing Grace Jale making an immediate impression on the fans after heading in Grace Maher’s corner kick to open the scoring.
It was a perfectly struck, in swinging delivery from the Canberra United playmaker. The New Zealand attacker had only to direct it goalward and she made no mistake from close range.
With Perth still reeling after conceding, Michelle Heyman almost doubled the lead. Her shot hit the upright after she danced through the defence and struck off her left foot.
As the half wore on, the visitors worked their way into the game. Alana Jancevski dropped deep to receive the ball. Sofia Sakalis and Hana Lowry became more involved and started to scheme in midfield.
Lowry was the first Glory play to test Chloe Lincoln in the Canberra goal. Her shot on her non-favoured right foot forced Lincoln into a spectacular diving save at full stretch.
New American striker, Gabriella Coleman began to trouble the Canberra defence. Her run and cross from the left bounced off the near post and trickled along the line before it was cleared by Emma Ilijoski.
Perth eventually carved out an equaliser in the 35th minute. In a similar style to Canberra’s opener, Liz Anton leapt to head home Ella Mastrantonio’s corner kick. The players from both sides paused in shock, but there were no arguments from the home team when the goal was awarded after it bounced in off the woodwork. Anton’s goals for Perth are few and far between, and notably Canberra are the only side she has scored against for Alex Epakis’ side.
Canberra United restored their lead before halftime. Grace Maher was once again the architect. Her long run through midfield ended with a well-timed pass into the path of Milivojević, who finished under Langman to make it 2-1.
It was a much more even second half. Although both teams had threats, clear chances on goal became harder to forge. Cyera Hintzen was introduced for Glory in an attempt to switch up the attack.
The American striker was a huge influence last season and made an almost immediate impact on this match.
Hintzen found space inside the penalty area and cut the ball back to Coleman who levelled the scores in the 64th minute.
The momentum had swung slightly toward the visitors and Sakalis was having a huge impact as an advanced midfielder. An attempted overhead kick and a shot on the turn did not result in goals, but the Victorian NPLW star looked dangerous until she was swapped for Susan Phonsongkham.
Canberra searched for the winner through efforts from Wu and Milivojević, while rising star Sasha Grove pushes further up the pitch.
Neither side could find the winner, despite both teams playing with plenty of intent. In the end, a draw felt fortunate but not undeserved from Perth Glory. Canberra United would have felt unlucky not to win in the opening round after dominating the shots on target 11 to four. Nikki Flannery had the best two chances to win the game late, but her shots hit the post and flew over the bar respectively
This was an exciting match between two sides focussed on scoring. Canberra United looked far sharper than their opening rounds of last season. Perth Glory entered this season with ambitions of a top-four place. They would not be perturbed by this performance, after initially being on the back foot, they were able to work their way back into the contest admirably.
Both teams will look to improve, but look to have all the pieces on the field to do so.
This fixture looked likely to produce goals and attacking play, and it delivered on that promise.
Teams: CANBERRA UNITED (4-1-4-1): Lincoln, Grove, McComasky, Faulknor, Ilijoski, Maher, Flannery, Wu (Hughes), Milivojević (Christopherson), Jale, Heyman.
Scorers: Jale 13′, Milivojević 41′.
PERTH GLORY (4-3-3): Langman, Rigby, Anton, Carroll, Wallhead (Baisden), Mastrantonio (Cain), Sakalis (Phonsongkham), Lowry, Jancevski (Hintzen), Coleman, Green.
Scorers: Anton 34′, Coleman 63′.
Referee: Casey Reibelt