Adelaide United recorded their first W League win of the season at Marden Sports Complex when they saw off a Perth Glory side who put in a game effort in the first half of a game played in 34c heat.
It was the Western Australians’ first game of the campaign on a weekend when some clubs were playing their third match of the season. This actually may well have benefitted new head coach Alex Epakis and his players. Given the extremely late arrival of the vast majority of coaching staff and squad which meant that around Christmas, five were still in quarantine, it has meant than some full squad training sessions have been able to take place ahead of their opening game in Adelaide.
Perth conjured up their first chance of the game with just three minutes played as Gemma Craine cut in from down the left and let fly with an effort which came back off the post.
Everything dangerous from a Perth point of view came along that left flank in the first period with Craine at the heart of everything positive that her team were producing. With eight minutes gone she played in Marianna Tabain who put an effort wide of the left hand post.
Maria Jose Rojas was the star turn for Adelaide United in the opening exchanges and after being played in by Isabel Hodgson, the Chilean turned beautifully and found Fiona Worts before Glory tidied up.
Perth replied with Kat Jukic winning a free kick on the edge of the on twelve minutes after being robustly brought down by Matilda McNamara, who received a yellow card. Tabain’s curling free kick went narrowly wide of the left hand post as Glory continued to look good coming forward. Five minutes later, Craine ran onto a through ball which forced home keeper Sian McLaren to race off her line quickly to grab the ball.
Lily Alfeld then kept Perth in the game when she pushed over a sensational strike from Emily Condon just ahead of the first drinks break.
Once more Craine was causing real problems for Adelaide. With twenty-six minutes gone, she drove her way up the left and eased her way into the box before McLaren denied her again. Shortly afterwards Craine had United in knots again and a great pass found Deborah-Anne de la Harpe who forced McLaren into another save.
With eight minutes of the half to go, the tempo eased due to the conditions, but Craine was still looking sharp in getting another shot away which McLaren held.
Lily Alfeld was called into action shortly afterwards when Condon danced through the box and hit an effort which was saved as the two sides went in 0-0 at the break.
Adelaide were the more organised side at the start of the second period as Perth found it more challenging to build possession, particularly in the final third. United’s build up found Dylan Holmes who drove in a glorious effort which came back off the bar to Mallory Weber who took too long to get her effort in.
Minutes later, Maria Jose Rojas took the ball past the entire Perth defence with ease, but her shot flew over the bar.
Adelaide conjured up another effort when Marianna Tabain fouled Mallory Weber on the edge of the box. Emily Condon’s free kick landed in Glory keeper Alfeld’s arms.
Perth’s inability to make patient, accurate passes when attacking just added to the amount of pressure that Adelaide were able to build. Whilst it was apparent that the large number of new players in the Glory side were still trying to settle in and work out how to play together, there was still an argument for changing the tactics slightly to shake things up. Gemma Craine got a rare second half effort away for Perth from the right hand side of the box which Sian McLaren had to dive to save.
With ten minutes to go, a clever run from Rojas ended with a penalty when Natasha Rigby went in with her and looked to have taken the ball first but was adjudged by referee Georgia Ghirardello that the challenge was robust enough to warrant the spot kick. Emily Condon hit the penalty into the right hand side of the goal with the ball flying through a hole in the net and Adelaide were ahead.
Craine broke clean through for Perth with four minutes left and was brought down just outside the box by Sian McLaren who was yellow carded for her efforts. Tabain’s effort was well dealt with by a diving McLaren and that was the last chance for the visitors.
Perth Glory will be delighted by the problems that Gemma Craine caused Adelaide plus some of the work of Lily Alfeld and Marianna Tabain. Despite this, with the season so short in 2021, the Western Australian side will need to hit the ground running from now on to avoid being left behind.
After their great effort in defeat to Canberra in their opening game, Adelaide will be delighted to get the win. They are undoubtedly a good team with some super players in Maria Jose Rojas, Mallory Weber, Emily Condon and Chelsea Dawber – if they can win the tight games regularly then they can be a real danger this season.
Adelaide United: McLaren, E. Hodgson, I. Hodgson, McNamara, Waldus, Holmes, Worts, Campagnale, Condon, Weber, Rojas. Substitutes: Grare (GK), Grant, Kirkby, Mullan, Tonkin.
Scorer: Condon (pen) 80.
Perth Glory: Alfeld, Rigby, de la Harpe, Anton, Gale, Steinmetz, Tabain, Morgan, Craine, Doeglas, Jukic. Substitutes: Bennett (GK), Wallhead, Lowry, Green, McKenna.
Referee: Georgia Ghirardello