Perth Glory v Western United preview

Ben Gilby reports on both sides’ media conferences this week in the build-up to Sunday’s game at Macedonia Park (29/12/22).

PERTH GLORY

Above: Perth Glory head coach Alex Epakis believes his team has proved they are more than capable of mixing it with the best ahead of Western United’s visit on New Year’s Day. Photo: Tom McCarthy.

Perth Glory head coach Alex Epakis believes his team can use the positives of pushing league leaders Melbourne City close on Tuesday when it comes to hosting unbeaten Western United on New Year’s Day.

Reflecting on Perth’s showing at AAMI Stadium, Epakis said: “It was a very hard-fought performance. We defended very resolutely against some of the best attacking threats in the competition. I genuinely thought we could have walked away with something a bit more positive (result-wise).”

The Glory boss went with a bench stacked full of dynamic attacking threat which added pep to the final quarter of an hour. Explaining the reasoning behind taking that approach rather than starting with those players, he said:

“We brought on players to bring the energy we needed. Those that started laid a foundation and put a lot of effort in. It’s bitter-sweet. We did a lot of really good things, but unfortunately didn’t get anything (from the match). We do have the belief though that we can mix it with one of the strongest teams in the competition.”

Perth went into the match without in-form striker Rylee Baisden due to a minor injury. Epakis provided an update about the American’s availability for Sunday’s game: “Rylee pulled up a bit sore after the game against Canberra and was a risk that if we played her (at Melbourne City), from a loading point of view, might have had more damage and been out for longer. She should be back (for New Year’s Day).”

Western United’s first-ever visit to Macedonia Park comes in the midst of a tough turnaround of matches against two of the competition’s top teams in the space of five days – a spell that included 1,600+km flights to and from Melbourne. The Glory head coach sees no negatives in scheduling though.

Above: Perth Glory’s Rylee Baisden is likely to return to the squad on New Year’s Day after missing the trip to Melbourne City on Tuesday with a minor injury. Photo: Tom McCarthy.

“I’m happy about that because we don’t have time to sit and frown on the negative thoughts. We can pick ourselves up and I genuinely believe that the players are going to be raring to go knowing that they can take a lot of internal belief out of this match (against Melbourne City) and go out and have a crack at another good opposition ASAP.

“It was tough with the heat and the travel, but we’ll be fine. The players are so focused on the task in hand, that overcomes any fatigue.”

Sunday’s opponents Western United are riding the crest of the wave after a dream start to their first A-League Women season, but it is a start that Epakis is not particularly surprised about.

“I think they are getting exactly what they deserve. When you invest heavily in anything, you always get some level of return, and they are definitely getting that from their playing group. They’ve come in as a new team, but a lot of them have played together in NPL (for Calder United) for a few seasons and they’ve topped that up with top tier recruits, so credit to them for that.”

“Having said that, we’re in a good place in our own business. They are going to come here in good form, but we’re coming in with a fixated mindset on getting a mindset, and I’m positive about what we can achieve.”

Outlining what he expects from the game, the Perth Glory boss said: “I think it will be a transitional one because they (Western United) like to attack quickly. It is going to be end to end. The 4pm gale force winds at Macedonia Park will play havoc and will suit the team who gets possession in the first half.

WESTERN UNITED

Above: Western United’s Mark Torcaso – detailed planning and preparations before his team’s entry into the A-League Women are bearing fruit. Photo: Western United.

Western United head coach Mark Torcaso believes that the extra break that his team have been afforded after the postponement of their scheduled game at home to Newcastle Jets this week has come at the perfect time for his unbeaten side.

United last played on 17th December, when they gained a superb 3-1 win at Melbourne City, and it has allowed Torcaso’s players to rest and recuperate as well as add detail to preparations for their first trip West.

“We’ve been able to freshen a few people up,” the Western United boss said, “We had a few knocks against City. Harriet (Withers) has had a setback with her ankle. She went under the knife on Monday or Tuesday so she will be maybe another eight weeks away. The others are pretty much ready to go.”

After her superb two-goal performance at AAMI Park last time out, Torcaso revealed that his Matildas star Chloe Logarzo could be in line for her first call into the starting line-up this season, although her game time remains a careful balancing act.

“She’s definitely capable of starting, we’re just going through the process of whether she will or not. She has some targets she needs to meet both in-house and Matildas, so we’re just ramping her up.”

In terms of what those targets are, the United head coach identified that it surrounds “Her physical preparation. She wants to be in the best form physically but to be primed ready for World Cup selection. We’re happy with where she’s at and she’s happy with the way we’ve managed it. It’s now a matter to build minutes.”

Above: Chloe Logarzo – seen here scoring her second goal for Western United at Melbourne City – could be in line for her first start for the club on New Year’s Day. Photo: Western United.

Asked if he was surprised by how quickly the members of his squad that have little or no previous top-tier experience have adapted to Western United’s first A-League Women campaign, Torcaso underlined the importance of the long-term planning of the side’s entry into the competition

“We tried to create the set-up at Calder (United) to be similar to A-League Women in regards to all players’ preparations. “I always knew a lot of these players had the ability, it was about how long they would take to adjust. I feel they adjusted pretty quickly. It shows our NPL is one of the better ones in the country if we have players who are able to stand up and compete in the A-League straight away.

“Perth – you have Sarah Cain, Alana Jancevski – girls who have been playing NPL Victoria as well. From that perspective, we have good people and good players around who can step up to the professional level.”

Whilst Perth Glory have only a single win to their name so far this season, Torcaso is well aware that the Western Australians offer his team a real threat.

“They are a good side, they have a coach who has them well organised. It has been a pretty consistent group. He (Alex Epakis) is building in the same way to what Adelaide have (in terms of keeping the majority of a squad together) so they are a dangerous opponent. They have good players individually, but also ones that can link together and play well.

“We’ve worked very hard on what Perth’s strengths and weaknesses are. It’s a long trip, some of our girls will be having their first Perth trip, but if we worry about ourselves we’ll be OK. But they are playing us for the first time, so there’s no expectations on us in that position.”

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