Perth take the win but lose out on Finals by a whisker once more

Brisbane Roar 0-1 Perth Glory

Report by Ben Carey, post-match coverage from Ben Gilby (1/4/23)

Above: Elizabeth Anton and Demi Koulizakis run towards Gabriella Coleman in celebration of her match winning goal. Photo: Perth Glory.

Perth Glory beat Brisbane Roar in a tight contest on Saturday afternoon, but the point that Melbourne Victory took in Wellington earlier in the day meant that the Western Australian side’s Finals hopes would be dashed.

It was a mild, overcast day, and the game had good attendance and a great atmosphere. It was the Glory’s third game in three states in six days. They came into the match having lost to Sydney FC mid-week. The Roar lost Larissa Crummer to Norwegian club Brann during the week, yet another blow to the Brisbane club who have had a chaotic season. Nonetheless, they were looking to end their season with a win at home.

The match started out with a lot of energy. In the first 10 minutes, Perth Glory had a number of successive chances, mostly coming from corner kicks, but none of them were converted. Every attempt went high, wide, or was saved by the Roar keeper, Hensley Hancuff. Brisbane Roar absorbed the early pressure from Perth Glory and eventually settled into the match. They started pushing up a bit more and the match shifted to more of a midfield battle.

The Roar’s best chance of the first half came about five minutes before half-time. Sharn Freier put in a lot of hard work to get the ball down the left side of the pitch, and passed it out to Shea Connors, who found Hollie Palmer in the box with a nicely weighted pass. Palmer took a cracking shot across the face of the goal, drawing a spectacular diving save from Glory keeper, Morgan Aquino.

Brisbane came into the second half playing with a lot more intensity. They were passing better and pressing higher, trying to make something happen. Just a few minutes into the half, Brisbane defender, Jessie Rasschaert, almost scored from a header following a well-placed corner kick from Tamar Levin, but the header was just a fraction too high.

10 minutes later, up the other end, Perth was building a well-structured attack on the Brisbane goal. A Glory midfielder hit a beautiful low and hard cross into the box, which was spilled by Hancuff. The ball ended up at the feat of Hana Lowry, right in front of goal. It looked for all the world like it would be the goal that broke the deadlock. Lowry took a good shot , but Rasschaert was able to make a wonderful goal-line clearance to keep her team in the match.

It would not be Lowry who would break the deadlock, but she would be involved. In the 73rd minute, the Perth youngster’s well-positioned and perfectly weighted corner kick found the head of American international Gabriella Coleman, who power it past Hancuff, whose hand remained outstretched for a good five seconds after the goal went in, dazed by the angle and power of the header.

About 10 mintues before full time, the Roar had a series of corners, but they were unable to convert any of them into a goal. There was one half chance, where some sloppy defending by Glory gifted Connors the ball in the box. She turned and got a shot off, but it was cleared off the line.

Perth Glory managed to close out the game without many more hiccups. They dominated possession, passed accurately, defended well, and took their chances in attack when they could.

Hana Lowry, the talented young midfielder, had a phenomenal match, providing the match-winning assist, and creating several more big chances throughout the match. Coleman had a strong performance as well, scoring the game-winning goal and creating other goal scoring opportunities.

Kim Carroll, in her final A-League match, put in a very good shift, defending very well, and providing important leadership to her fellow teammates. It is very fitting that Carroll’s last match was in Brisbane, as she was born in Queensland and Brisbane Roar was her first A-League club, whom she played for seven years.

Brisbane Roar, by contrast, were too slow on the ball and not efficient with their possession. Connors tried her best, getting herself into dangerous positions and taking a handful of shots, one of which hit the side post. But she was largely isolated up the front without support from her teammates. Palmer had a good day in the midfield, creating several opportunities and taking a couple of shots on goal.

But the standout Roar player of the match was Rasschaert. Like Carroll, it was also her last A-League match, having played two seasons with Canberra United and two with the Roar. She defended exceptionally well at the back, blocking three shots from going in and making a number of vital clearances as well. She was also a vital presence in the Roar attacks, taking four shots on goals. It seems that she wanted to go out with a bang. It’s a shame that she is retiring, as this season was truly her best so far. Her leadership, pace, and skill will be sorely missed by the Roar next season.

Speaking after the game, Perth Glory head coach Alex Epakis spoke of his pride in his team’s efforts, writes Ben Gilby.

“Very, very happy with the result and with the performance. It was a good way to end the season. We said prior to the match that we’re not going to be able to play Finals, but we wanted to put out a performance that was reflective of a Finals match, and I thought we certainly did that. We had some great phases of possession and looked in control for most parts of the match, and were unlucky not to get another goal or two.”

Whilst Melbourne Victory’s point at Wellington Phoenix meant that making the top four was out of Perth’s reach, Epakis outlined the motivating factors that the team still had ahead of kick-off in Brisbane.

“We still had a bit to play for – it was Kim Carroll’s last match, it was Hana Lowry’s 50th (appearance) and we wanted our last performance to be reflective of the things we’ve worked hard on playing-wise.”

The Glory boss was able to give a positive update on the condition of captain Tash Rigby who went down with an injury to her knee. “I believe at this stage it is just a deep cut.”

The Western Australian side have narrowly missed out on Finals for the past two seasons now. Last year it was goal difference, this time it will be a single point. It’s frustrating for Epakis, but he takes pride in seeing the continued positive developments at the club.

“Ultimately, we’re not going to get the opportunity to play Finals and that’s going to sting because we know we can compete with those top four teams. Our results and performances against those teams indicate that had we made it into the four, we would have given it a good shake-up.

“Nonetheless, we’ve had a strong and solid season. It’s certain had its ebbs and flows, but as I look back I see the players have progressed, the team has progressed and we’re heading in an upward trajectory.”

Teams: BRISBANE ROAR (5-3-2): Hancuff, Riley, Rasschaert, McQueen, Rankin, Freier, Kruger, Norrie, Palmer, Levin, Connors. Substitutes: Shuttleworth (GK), Haffenden, Kramer, Davern, Robinne.

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

Referee: Anna-Marie Keighley.

Attendance: 854.

Artwork by Charlotte Stacey, founder of On Her Side.

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