Ben Gilby reports on both head coaches’ post-match media conferences, plus Tom McCarthy provides another superb photo gallery from Macedonia Park (5/3/23).
Above: Tash Rigby shows her delight after scoring her first A-League Women goal with teammates Alana Jancevski and Cyera Hintzen. Photo: Tom McCarthy.
Perth Glory head coach Alex Epakis lamented his side’s “clunky” performance in the first half of today’s game with Western Sydney Wanderers but remains confident that the Glory can finish inside the top four.
“It wasn’t as smooth and clean as we’re used to and capable of. But there was a mentality there where we stayed in the game despite things that weren’t working with our play. We were a bit clunky,” he told the media after the match.
The draw meant that Perth can no longer enter the top four by winning their game in hand, but with games away to sides in the lower reaches of the ladder in the coming weeks, Epakis believes the gap can be bridged.
“We’re certainly capable of making up those points in the coming games. I would have preferred the (three) points and so did the team. We’re six unbeaten…I’m pretty confident we can make it up.”
Asked how he asked his team to turn things around at the break after being on the back foot for much of the opening 45 minutes, the Perth boss said: “The first 30-40 minutes, they (Western Sydney Wanderers) had some good passages of play. Credit where credit is due they were pretty determined. We tweaked a few things to deal with the extra body they had in midfield and changed our press a bit and needed to be more aggressive.”
The highlight of the afternoon was club icon Tash Rigby’s first-ever A-League Women goal in her 90th game. The Glory boss has been a massive fan of what the defender offers his team ever since he took over three seasons ago.
“What a goal! At half-time, she was pretty fixated on ripping into them in the second half. What you get with Tash is she wears her heart on her sleeve. She loves the club, and moments like that it’s just her putting all those things out there. She deserves that goal and deserves everything she gets.”
Epakis was also impressed with the efforts of striker Cyera Hintzen, who had another hard-working afternoon.
“She is the best nine in the competition. She is so rounded. She is not just a striker who scores, she creates chances and creates space for others, she presses. She makes selfless runs for others. She is a really special player and is important to what we do. Cyera just needs a moment to create something.”
Western Sydney Wanderers boss Kat Smith was delighted that her side’s hard work in training paid off as they worked to reduce the impact Perth Glory’s attacking threats to emerge with a point that could have been all three.
“It was certainly entertaining! It was a cliched game of two halves. We had some opportunities and the balance of possession. What we worked on in training we certainly saw on the park, so that’s a tick. We’re searching for quality in the final third and will keep working on that.”
Wanderers were forced into making changes with two players on Young Matildas duty, and they would also lose Beth Gordon to injury in the second half, but Smith’s side never looked adversely impacted.
“We made some changes in personnel, we have players who can step up and step into those positions. The game opened up and, yeh, you just hold on, don’t you?”
Reflecting on the shift in momentum after the break, the Wanderers head coach said: “Goals change games. From there we had to try and settle and go again. That gave Perth a bit of ascendency. We didn’t change much in the second half as we were good first half. If we had been in a position to score one in that first half, it would have been different.
“We were finding good pockets of space but needed to be more connected in midfield. We were engaging our fullbacks to join the attack. Then against the run of play came the goal and there was a bit of panic stations. We changed our formation to get more players out wide and some more box entries.”
One of Western Sydney’s key attacking threats during the game was Sophie Harding. The former Newcastle Jet was looking to run through the centre of the park at every opportunity and proved to be a thorn in Perth’s side all afternoon.
“Sophie has some very good weapons in terms of her pace. She likes to get possession and drive with it. She is so quick that sometimes she gets isolated, so we’ve been doing a lot of work with her in terms of what area of the park we want her to get the ball in.”
Smith ended her media conference by updating the situation surrounding two of her players, first of all the injury to Beth Gordon, and then the status of goalkeeper Jordyn Bloomer. “Beth had a dislocated shoulder. She has had it put back in. We’ll look after her. The care for her was first class.
“It was Jordyn Bloomer’s last game for the club (before returning to the NWSL). Jordyn has been excellent. The value she has brought in has been irreplaceable in terms of her onfield professionalism and presence. She sets the tone with her expectations of the squad.”
Tom McCarthy’s photo gallery from Macedonia Park:
To read Ben Gilby‘s match report of Perth Glory v Western Sydney Wanderers, click on this link: https://impetusfootball.org/2023/03/05/honours-even-despite-rigbys-landmark-strike/