Perth take the Glory with superb win at Western United

Western United 1-3 Perth Glory

by Ben Gilby (4/2/23)

Above: Alana Janecvski (right) celebrates her sensational free-kick that put Perth Glory 2-1 up at Western United. Photo: Perth Glory.

Perth Glory have come back from their lengthy hiatus with a superb 3-1 win over A-League Women leaders Western United at breezy Ballarat today.

With three weeks since their last fixture, Alex Epakis’ side could have been forgiven for being rusty, but the potential and form that the Western Australian side were starting to show before their enforced break was there from the start in Victoria as they condemned the league leaders to only their second defeat of the season.

A typical piece of magic from Alana Jancevski, added to Susan Phonsongkham’s early penalty and a debut strike in second-half stoppage time from Football Fern Hannah Blake sealed an impressive win.

Western United went into the game without Chloe Logarzo with a foot injury. For the visitors, Ella Mastrantonio was serving the first of her reduced two-match suspension, with long-term injury victims Claudia Mihocic, Milan Hammond, and Rylee Baisden on the sidelines. This week’s injury replacement signing Blake was on the bench.

After the earliest of exchanges, with 10 minutes gone, the visitors earned territory and Hana Lowry played in a succession of corners from the right. The third in the series was played short to Susan Phonsongkham who looked to advance into the box parallel to the byline and beat Mel Taranto, but the United defender responded with a clumsy challenge that led to referee Caitlin Williams instantly pointing to the spot.

Phonsongkham picked herself up, dusted herself down, and rolled a low shot into the left-hand corner of the net to give Perth the lead.

Glory were crisp in their passing, and Sofia Sakalis was able to find space to play her flicks and tricks to link up with Cyera Hintzen along the left.

Western United were finding it difficult to maintain possession and therefore launch attacks in the opening 25 minutes. It was a real challenge for them to get past Perth’s energetic block. Any home player on the ball was rapidly faced by a white shirt buzzing around to force an error and turnover.

It meant that chances for the league leaders to level were few and far between. Indeed, in this period, there were only two – and Emma Robers was prominent in both. First, she took advantage of a loose pass from Sarah Cain to break into the box on the left and hit a shot that Sarah Langman repelled well in the Perth goal.

The second chance, with 22 minutes on the clock, saw Tyla-Jay Vlajnić cross high into the box from the left. Danielle Steer, Hannah Keane, and Langman went up to challenge for the ball with the three colliding and falling to the ground, which gave Robers an empty net to lift the ball in to level the scores.

Above: Emma Robers celebrates after hitting the equalising goal for Western United. Photo: Jonathan DiMaggio/West Australian.

Perth’s press forced another error from the hosts on the edge of the box, allowing Phonsongkham to rifle in a shot that Hillary Beall saved well as the visitors continued to enjoy the bulk of the play before the break with more quick, crisp passes leading to Lowry getting a powerful effort away from the right-hand edge of the box.

Western United looked to develop a stronger foothold in the game in the second period, and had a penalty shout seven minutes into the re-start claiming Keane’s run into the box was cut off by Kim Carroll but referee Williams was unmoved.

Then United came alive as Beard broke through the centre and found Keane outside her. Beating two defenders, Keane played a low ball in, but Izzy Foletta dived in superbly to clear. There was still time for a follow-up from Jaclyn Sawicki.

However, the home side never quite built on this potential foundation, and with Jess McDonald no longer around to create and dispatch in attack, Mark Torcaso’s team paid the price.

With the game entering its final 20 minutes, Lowry looked to break through before being brought down by Mel Taranto around 25 yards outside the box to the left of centre. Substitute Jancevski reached into her extensive box of tricks as she stepped up and curled an absolute stunner over the wall and into the top of the net. It was the 19-year-old starlet at her absolute best.

Western United were unable to respond in the closing stages, with only Keane’s header over the bar from a corner coming remotely near to levelling matters. Indeed it got worse for the home side.

Six minutes into stoppage time, hometown product Foletta threaded the eye of a needle to release Blake who ran through into space to comfortably slot home on her debut to make it 3-1.

Perth Glory head coach Alex Epakis was understandably delighted when he spoke after the game.

“It was a very proud performance,” he said. “We stuck to the structure that we wanted to play, we were focused and got the reward for playing good football for 90 minutes. It was a complete performance because the players looked comfortable and managed the transitions. They are top of the table for a reason, but we were able to nullify them in attack.”

Above: Celebrations after Alana Jancevski’s sensational strike. Photo: Keep Up.

With the victory coming after his team had an extended lay-off brought about by Sydney FC not being able to find a venue to play Perth a fortnight ago, followed by the club’s scheduled bye, the Glory boss was enthusiastic about how his team responded in very difficult circumstances.

“It is sweet for a number of reasons. The APL made decision with our scheduling and we haven’t been able to play for a few weeks, and we had to flip our thinking and try and make it a positive.

“The players stepped up, we’re really proud for them individually. We know that every performance is going to matter…things can go right down to the wire, and we want to put ourselves in the picture.”

“I’m really hoping that this is a season-defining performance. I’m really confident in that. We have a run of games at home now, and we can use the momentum from this to drive us.”

Alex Epakis, Perth Glory head coach.

Epakis highlighted the influence of two of his substitutes in turning the game. “Alana (Jancevski)’s goal – such a sensational strike. I’m so happy for her. She is such a weapon. The ability to come on and do that when it is needed is something that we are very lucky to have. Hannah Blake slotted in seamlessly to the group late last week.

“Every player did their job and they were outstanding.”

Teams: WESTERN UNITED (4-3-3): Beall, Medwin, Cerne, Cummings, Beard, M. Taranto, Sawicki, Robers, Steer, Vlajnic, Keane. Substitutes: Dall’Oste (GK), Iermano, Johnson, Sardo, A. Taranto.

Scorer: Robers 22′.

PERTH GLORY (4-2-3-1): Langman, Foletta, Carroll, Anton, Rigby, Cain, Lawrence, Sakalis, Lowry, Phonsongkham, Hintzen. Substitutes: Aquino (GK), Blake, Green, Jancevski, Koulizakis.

Scorers: Phonsongkham (pen) 11′, Jancevski 72′,

Referee: Caitlin Williams.

Attendance: 545.

Artwork: Charlotte Stacey, founder of On Her Side.

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