Adelaide end winless run in style to dent Perth’s Finals hopes

Adelaide United 2-1 Perth Glory

by Kris Goman (11/3/23)

Above: Dylan Holmes celebrates after her effort, which went in off of Perth goalkeeper Morgan Aquino, put Adelaide United ahead. Photo: Liberty A-League.

Adelaide United ended their nine-match winless run with a superb win over a Perth Glory side who were pushing for Finals football.

Perth Glory came into this match on a hot streak of six games unbeaten. However, Adelaide United have only lost one of their last nine head-to-heads against Perth and they haven’t lost to the Glory at home since December 2016.

Saying all that, Adelaide are in a bit of an injury crisis having to bring in Chrissy Panagaris to cover for Emily Condon as an injury replacement for the rest of the season. With Isabel Hodgson, Ella Tonkin, Hannah Holgersen, and Sasha Coorey all out injured or unavailable and Emilia Murray and Grace Wilson away on international duty with the Young Matildas, Adelaide were unable to name a full bench of substitutes.

However, history, as well as the crowd, is on Adelaide’s side today as they put in a dominant performance against the team from the West to ruin their chance to achieve their longest unbeaten streak but also, and more importantly, making their run to the finals a lot more difficult. A win today would have seen Glory jump into fifth position. Although with Canberra playing tomorrow, it might not have lasted long.

But, to today’s game, Perth got the first chance early after a bit of confusion in the box, Cyera Hintzen had a weak toe poke gathered safely by Annalee Grove.

Above: Perth Glory captain Tash Rigby looks for a way through. Photo: Perth Glory.

Not long after, Dylan Holmes intercepted in the midfield and drove into the box to shoot high just over the crossbar to look very dangerous.

Hana Lowry took a free kick from the right and went for goal. The defensive header nearly sent it in for an own goal but Grove managed to get a hand to it to tip it over the bar in a very close call.

The first half saw Adelaide with the bulk of possession and control and Holmes had another shot on goal where she pivoted and twisted in the box but sent it just to the left of the post. In a continued attack, Fiona Worts took a longer shot from the left edge of the box that skimmed the crossbar.

Mindy Barbieri dispossessed Glory near the box on the left and passed back to Worts who had another shot that went wide to the right of goal. Plenty of shots were coming from Adelaide but all were just off-target. With a little more time and consideration the score could have been a lot different midway in the first half.

Perth had a great opportunity when Sofia Sakalis slipped a pass through to Hintzen who was in the clear in front of goal but she was offside and play was called back.

Two further opportunities were wasted by the visitors. First, when Tash Rigby brought the ball down the right and crossed but Sakalis couldn’t quite get to it cleanly as it was just behind her and it was cleared right in front of goal. Then, Hannah Blake fired one in from the right but Hintzen couldn’t control the header that shot out to the right of goal.

Above: Mindy Barbieri looks to get away from Sadie Lawrence (left) and Sofia Sakalis (right). Photo: Adelaide United.

Back up the other end, Holmes took an ambitious shot from well outside the box which was finally on target but was an easy catch for Morgan Aquino. In extra time of the second half, Lowry slid a pass through to Sakalis very close to the goal but she lost her footing in the tackle and her shot was wide. Adelaide fired in six shots to Perth’s three in the first half, but both only had one on target.

There must have been some good halftime talks as both teams came back on firing in the second half.

In the third minute after the break, Lowry ran down left towards goal to be dispossessed by Jenna McCormick. Hintzen ended up with the ball again and returned it to Lowry, who sent it right across the goal and Blake just touched it in, right in front of goal, to give Perth the lead.

Just two minutes later, Adelaide retaliated with a goal from Holmes. She shot once and it was stopped but rebounded straight back to her for a second effort that was low and to the right of goal. It bounced off Perth goalkeeper Morgan Aquino and rolled into goal for the equalizer. The goal was awarded as an own goal but it seems unfair to Holmes who had two clean shots and certainly deserved the goal.

Sakalis, who was on a yellow and has had a couple of knocks, comes off to be replaced by Abbey Green at 55 minutes.

In a near replay of the first goal for Glory, Foletta passed to Lowry on the left who sent in a sitter right in front of goal for Blake but her first touch failed her this time and she skied it over the top.

Above: Dylan Holmes (left) and Meisha Westland celebrate. Photo: Liberty A-League.

A long pass from the left towards the box led to a clash between Holmes and Kim Carroll with the Perth defender shown a yellow card. The resulting free kick was taken by Barbieri who sent a beautiful curling ball around the wall that was deflected by Aquino in a diving save to the bottom right corner.

With 20 minutes left, Worts received a long cross from Holmes out on the right and she headed or maybe even chested it into the left post and it rebounded into the goal as Aquino was left floundering and Adelaide went ahead.

Adelaide’s new signing Panagaris came on as a sub in the final stages and had a spirited shot on goal from the left after winning a tussle in the box. The shot was blocked by a very outstretched arm of Aquino. A goal on debut would have been impressive and it was only Aquino’s goalkeeping skills that prevented that from happening.

Perth had two final chances to claim a point. First, substitute Alana Jancevski tried a long shot to goal but there wasn’t enough on it to be a challenge for Grove, and then, in the dying seconds, Abby Green’s shot is stopped by Grove in front of an open goal.

With that chance gone, Adelaide United recorded their first victory since 17th December – a nine-match run that had yielded just two points for the South Australians and sent them tumbling from the Finals race to the bottom three.

With three matches left for Adelaide, it’s not impossible for them to make the finals but it would be very difficult. They’d have to win all their games and have no one above them, except the top three, win any. Perth have four matches left to play – against Wellington, Melbourne City, Brisbane Roar, and Sydney so it won’t be an easy path to navigate either, and would also rely on some favorable losses by other teams.

Above: Joy for Adelaide United as their long winless run comes to an end. Photo: Liberty A-League.

One thing’s for certain, nothing is set in stone with Finals qualification, other than Sydney and Western United are definitely in it. And the A-League Women continue to keep us guessing.

Speaking after the game, Perth Glory head coach Alex Epakis identified his side’s lack of composure on the ball in the first half as one of the reasons for Adelaide United gaining momentum, writes Ben Gilby.

“It was a performance that went down to fine margins and moments. In this occasion, Adelaide were better in those moments. We had a good performance but not a great performance, and as a result we left ourselves open to fine margins.

“At half-time, we came in and agreed that we could be better both with and without the ball. We panicked a bit in possession and as a result, gave transitions, and Adelaide (got) a bit of momentum. In the second half, we definitely actioned that to be better and getting the goal shows that, but ultimately we were not good enough in key areas.

“We know we weren’t at our best and when you are not at your best you leave yourself open to whether you get the three points or not.”

Perth’s Finals hopes are now hanging by a thread, four points and three places behind fourth-placed Melbourne Victory who play their cross-city rivals City on Monday. With both Canberra United and Brisbane Roar ahead of them, Epakis knows the challenge of making Finals is getting harder.

“It leaves us in a position where we need to work even harder now. We had a hold on to fourth spot, and we’re not going to give up on that. We are going to push on to try and get that.”

Teams: ADELAIDE UNITED (4-4-2): Grove, Tolland, McCormick, Waldus, E. Hodgson, Bowler, Holmes, Westland, Sasaki, Barbieri, Worts. Substitutes: Farrow (GK), Hayward, Kontoutsikos, Panagaris.

Scorers: Aquino (OG) 51’, Worts 70.

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

Scorer: Blake 49’.

Referee: Bec Mackie.

Attendance: 975.

Artwork: Charlotte Stacey, founder of On Her Side.

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