Honours even despite Rigby’s landmark strike

Perth Glory 1-1 Western Sydney Wanderers

by Ben Gilby (5/3/23)

Above: The historic moment when Tash Rigby scored her first A-League Women goal in her 90th appearance to win the match for Perth Glory against Western Sydney Wanderers today. Photo: Anthony McCarthy.

Perth Glory and Western Sydney Wanderers played out an entertaining draw which will always be remembered for Glory captain Tash Rigby scoring her first-ever A-League Women goal in her 90th appearance.

Whilst Perth have extended their unbeaten run to six matches, this is a damaging result to their Finals hopes. Wanderers will feel frustrated not to have taken all three points at Macedonia Park after unpacking an intelligent game plan which combined energetic attacking play with wrapping up the home side’s attacking weapons for the whole of the opening 45 minutes.

Both teams went into the game making changes. Perth Glory boss Alex Epakis handed a first start for the hugely talented youngster Alana Jancevski since December with Ella Mastrantonio also in the 11 at kick-off after initially returning from suspension on the bench last week. Hannah Blake and Sarah Cain dropped down to the bench as a result.

Above: Olivia Price looks to get past Alana Jancevski. Photo: Keep Up.

The visitors were without Gemma Ferris and Alexia Apostolakis, both on Young Matildas duty, but on the positive side of the ledger, could welcome back Sarina Bolden who had been in action at the Pinatar Cup competition for the Philippines in Spain.

The Wanderers made a fast start and conjured up a real chance within the opening two minutes as Sophie Harding fired an early long ranger which crashed back off of the angle of post and bar with Morgan Aquino beaten in the Perth goal.

The hosts replied from a rare error at the back from new Matildas defender Clare Hunt who lost possession from Jordyn Bloomer’s place kick as Sofia Sakalis picked her pocket and played in Cyera Hintzen outside her, with the American striker’s effort rolling narrowly wide.

With 20 minutes on the clock, possession was officially at 50% each, but the visitors had more of it in the areas that mattered and looked full of energy. However, Wanderers were not just looking good coming forward, they were successful in nullifying the key link-ups between Sakalis and Hintzen that have been such a major contributing factor in the Glory’s five-match unbeaten run were being stifled. Hana Lowry and Jancevski were also seeing limited possession as Kat Smith’s side worked hard to nullify their impact.

Above: Amy Chessari, who went close for Western Sydney Wanderers. Photo: Keep Up.

Western Sydney continued to pose the questions and rack up the chances. Amy Chessari had a shot in the box that deflected narrowly wide for a corner. Runs through the centre of midfield towards the box were continuing to cause Perth real problems and two further efforts from such moves came their way.

First, Amy Harrison received the ball and turned away from Lowry to fire a shot that went just over the bar. Then Harding ran through the space and unleashed another effort. The visitors were patiently probing.

Perth had the last opportunity of the half when Jancevski’s outside of the boot pass found Hintzen who broke through to get a shot in that Bloomer held. It was just a reminder of the home side’s potential. The fact that the scoreline remained 0-0 at the break raised questions as to whether Wanderers had missed their chance.

That seemed to be the case, as from the restart, it was immediately apparent that Perth’s attacking weapons were being allowed far more time on the ball. For the first time all afternoon, Sofia Sakalis had time and space to dance up the wing and cut inside to create. It was a warning that Western Sydney did not heed.

Above: Perth Glory celebrate Tash Rigby’s historic goal. Photo: Keep Up.

Within nine minutes of the restart, captain Tash Rigby had possession along the right and played a rapid-fire one-two with Jancevski before steering home her first-ever A-League Women goal in her 90th appearance. The Western Australian native has been a huge part of the fabric of Perth Glory down the years and this was a richly deserved goal.

Once the joy calmed down after the goal, the Glory were never quite able to push on to ensure the win, and as the half went on, Wanderers got their second wind and began to gather more of the possession, despite losing Bethany Gordon with an excruciating looking injury that after the match was diagnosed as a dislocated shoulder.

Finally, with 10 minutes to go, the visitors got the goal they deserved for their efforts. Harding sliced her way through again and looked to have been pushed wide of the target by Kim Carroll, but out came Aquino who brought Harding down, giving referee Isabella Blaess no option but to point to the spot. Up stepped Amy Harrison to level matters.

The final periods were harem-scarem with opportunities at both ends. Football Fern Hannah Blake, on as sub for Jancevski, broke through and curled a shot wide of the right-hand post when a powerful drive may well have been a more realistic choice.

Above: Western Sydney Wanderers celebrate Amy Harrison’s equalising penalty. Photo: Keep Up.

There was one final chance at the death as Demi Koulizakis crossed for Hintzen at the back post, but the striker couldn’t direct her effort on target.

This outcome means that Perth have now lost their advantage in the Finals race. Even winning their game in hand will not be enough to break into the top four without teams above them dropping points.

To read Ben Gilby‘s report of the post-match media conferences and see Tom McCarthy‘s photo gallery from Macedonia Park, click on this link: https://impetusfootball.org/2023/03/05/perth-glory-v-western-sydney-wanderers-extra/

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

Scorers: Rigby 54′.

WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS (4-1-4-1): Bloomer, Matos, Hunt, Abdul Massih, Gordon, Harrison, Price, Chessari, Steinmetz, Harding, Bolden. Substitutes: Caceres, Chlastáková, Hristodoulou, Khamis (GK), Rue.

Scorers: Harrison (pen) 80′.

Referee: Isabella Blaess.

Attendance: 656

Artwork: Charlotte Stacey, founder of On Her Side.

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