Glory for Perth after dramatic comeback

Perth Glory 4-3 Melbourne City

by Jonathan Tay (26/3/23)

Above: Joy for Perth Glory in their stunning win today. Photo: Keep Up.

Perth Glory triumphed in an incredible, see-sawing battle with Melbourne City on Sunday, winning 4-3 at Macedonia Park, and boosting their chances of a top-four finish.

A second half which had six goals from both teams combined, saw a Cyera Hintzen-inspired Glory come back from a 1-0 deficit, before holding on to the lead by the skin of their teeth for the famous victory.

With Canberra United’s recent impressive form vaulting them into a heated battle with Melbourne Victory for fourth place in the league, it was vital for Perth Glory to get a result to retain any hope of catching either team and keeping alive their own Finals ambitions. Melbourne City meanwhile, were just a point ahead in third place, and also had their sights set on a win, with head coach Dario Vidosic emphasising the need to avoid a “do-or-die game next weekend.”

City welcomed back Melissa Barbieri from a calf injury, slotting into goal to play her 100th A-League match, whilst Rhianna Pollicina also returned to the side, with striker Hannah Wilkinson moving to the bench. Perth came into the match with a little extra motivation, with this home fixture being the last one of 35-year-old Kim Carroll’s career, after the defender announced her retirement earlier in the week. A much-loved legend of the club, Perth boss Alex Epakis stated ahead of the match that Carroll was a “fantastic person for the team, the club, and the game in general.”

Above: Perth Glory legend Kim Carroll received a presentation to mark her final home game. Photo: Perth Glory.

That description was exemplified immediately, with City wingback Kaitlyn Torpey having a point-blank effort charged down by Carroll just 36 seconds into the match. Unfortunately for Glory, that initial effort characterised the majority of the first half, as Melbourne seemingly set up camp around their final third, racking up 15 shots in the opening period. Perth were happy to concede possession to City’s ball-dominant style of play, asking for a lot of running from Hana Lowry and Alana Jancevski up front, and relying on Sakalis and Blake to provide width and creativity.

City’s front four of Maria Rojas, Holly McNamara, Daniela Galic, and Pollicina all combined well, linking play and constructing intricate passing networks to find each other in space and conjure their numerous chances. Rojas, McNamara, Galic, and Leticia McKenna all had good opportunities within the first half hour to open the scoring.

The eventual City goal in the 33rd minute came in very fortuitous circumstances; Perth keeper Sarah Langman spilling a tame through ball from McNamara right into the path of Pollicina, with the midfielder making no mistake in front of a gaping goal.

City were unlucky not to go into the half-time break two goals up; Galic crashed a spectacular long-range strike past a rooted Langman and off the underside of the crossbar. Glory coach Epakis was left scratching his chin and searching for answers amidst the City siege, but would have taken comfort in his side coming away with just a small deficit leading into the second half.

Cyera Hintzen was brought on in the 60th minute, as Glory looked to press a greater attacking impetus and make City pay for their profligacy in front of goal. The American delivered, sparking a period of magic as Perth scored two goals in the space of a minute, midway through the second period.

Hintzen first pressured City defender Naomi Chinnama into conceding a corner, before the substitute flicked on the resulting delivery to Sadie Lawrence who nodded home at the back post, and equalised for Perth.

No sooner had the game restarted than Glory suddenly had the lead; a weak Barbieri clearance fell to Perth’s Hannah Blake, and she produced a stunning effort from the right wing to lob the City keeper and find the back of the net.

A stunned Melbourne City were violently shocked back into life and wasted no time in finding their own way back into the game. Just minutes later, Pollicina had an initial shot blocked in the penalty area, but the rebound came straight to substitute Wilkinson who hammered home to become the all-time leading scorer in City history.

Perth though had their tails up, having already taken the lead once, with Hintzen in particular looking like she was not going to be denied. The game was played end-to-end at a frenetic pace, with both sides trading numerous chances.

Glory first regained the lead in the 81st minute, with Hintzen laying off for Lowry to finish exquisitely into the top corner. City then thought they had another leveller, with a corner creating a mad scramble in the box, but referee Kelly Jones adjudicated that the ball had been cleared off the line by the Perth defence.

Another Glory substitute Gabriella Coleman then set up their fourth goal, bursting down the left wing, before her cross found a streaking Hintzen who side-footed past Barbieri to send the home crowd wild. Melbourne though were still very much a threat, and in the first minute of stoppage time, a Wilkinson cutback saw Grosso tap home from close range to cut the margin in half.

City will be left wondering how they ended up on the losing end, after tallying 32 shots in total in the game and looking so at ease during the opening half. They even had late openings to again tie the game, with Katie Bowen having an effort tipped round the post by Langman before Torpey had another shot deflected just over the bar from the subsequent corner.

The Melbournians will now host a very nervy last home match of the season, coming up against a Canberra side who will be looking to leapfrog them into a Finals berth. For Perth Glory, whilst they will need other results to go their way to reach the top four, they again echoed Epakis’ words in having “that relentless desire to just find a way to win.”

Glory will hope this remarkable upset spurs them on in their sprint to the finish and provide them enough adrenaline, with two matches in four days to close out the regular season.

Ben Gilby‘s coverage of the post-match media conferences of both head coaches, plus Tom McCarthy‘s photo gallery match will appear on the site later today.

Teams: PERTH GLORY (4-4-2): Langman; Rigby, Anton, Carroll, Foletta; Blake, Lawrence, Mastrantonio, Sakalis; Lowry, Jancevski. Substitutes: Aquino, McKenna, Cain, Coleman, Hintzen.

Scorers: Lawrence 70’, Blake 71’, Lowry 81’, Hintzen 87’.

MELBOURNE CITY (4-2-2-2): Barbieri; Torpey, Chinnama, Checker, Grosso; Bowen, McKenna; Pollicina, Galic; Rojas, McNamara. Substitutes: James (GK), Accardo, Henry, Malone, Wilkinson.

Scorers: Pollicina 33’, Wilkinson 74’, Grosso 90+1’

Referee: Kelly Jones.

Attendance: 910.

Artwork: Charlotte Stacey, founder of On Her Side.

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