Larissa Crummer scored a dream goal on her eagerly awaited return to the W-League after a two year injury lay-off as Brisbane Roar ran out comfortable winners against a game Perth Glory outfit in a match played in front of a big crowd in thirty degree heat at Lions Stadium.
There was plenty of interest before the game with on-field matchups. Notably, the teenage McKenna sisters were coming up against each other. Leticia had established herself in the Perth side last season before moving to Brisbane Roar for this season and her younger sibling Tijan is making her first inroads into the Glory side this campaign. Another former Glory favourite, Kim Carroll, who spent five seasons in WA, lined up in the Roar orange and black along with Morgan Aquino, who kept goal for Perth last season.
This was always going to be an exceptionally tough challenge for Perth Glory, who were just on their way back in the competition after Coronavirus related border restrictions and have only played half the number of games that some sides have. Factor in a game in Sydney less than three days earlier, a trip to the only unbeaten side in the W-League was not exactly the fixture schedule of choice that the Western Australians would have gone for.
Brisbane started well initially with Tameka Yallop looking particularly dangerous. Perth were looking to maximise retaining possession with skipper Tash Rigby asserting her influence with Alexia Moreno looking to offer herself around the box without being quite able to get an early shot away. Glory boss Alex Epakis would have been happy with the way his team set out their stall in the early exchanges.
Emily Gielnik got the first shot on goal after ten minutes. The Matilda cut in from the left hand wing, got away from Liz Anton and got a fierce shot away that Lily Alfeld did well to push away.
Just sixty seconds later, Roar teenage sensation Jamilla Rankin played Gielnik in again down the left and Alfeld had to make another decent save.
Just before the twenty minute mark, Glory’s seventeen year-old Taneesha Baker, playing only her second W-League game got away from Winonah Heatley thanks to some outrageous skill on the left and played in a dangerous cross that Caitlin Doeglas couldn’t quite get on the end of.
However, Brisbane made Perth pay for missing this opportunity and a defensive error shortly afterwards. After they had originally dealt with a free kick from Kim Carroll, Perth gifted the ball to Yallop who played a ball across to Leticia McKenna who in turn found Mariel Hecher. Her cross eventually was laid off by Isobel Dalton to Olivia Chance and the Kiwi fired a sensational left footed effort into the net from outside of the ‘D’ giving Alfeld no chance.
Perth responded well with Moreno holding the ball up well. Hana Lowry showed great maturity to win a corner off of Clare Polkinghorne which the Queenslanders dealt with and quickly broke away.
Emily Gielnik strode purposefully through the middle of the park and saw Alfeld off her line and from just inside the Glory half lobbed a glorious shot over the Perth keeper who couldn’t do anything other than help push it in with twenty-seven minutes played.
Just after the half-hour mark, Brisbane almost grabbed another sensational goal. Winonah Heatley chipped a ball in from the right flank which cannoned back off of the crossbar with Alfeld beaten.
With five minutes of the half left, Baker got through again down the left for Perth and put in a cross which Lowry got a touch to before being brought down by Polkinghorne with the play being waved on.
Gielnik was denied just before the break after she managed to get a shot away despite the close attentions of Deborah-Ann De La Harpe with Alfeld getting the slightest of touches that put the ball out for a corner.
The second half opened with a rainbow across Lions Stadium and the Roar furthering their bid to find the mythical pot of gold at the end of this W-League season.
It took five minutes of the second half for the game to be finally put to bed. Emily Gielnik was given far too much space on the left and she cut in, beat Sarah Carroll with ease and fired a shot into the far corner for her eighth goal of the season.
Mariel Hecher was gifted a free-kick near the right hand corner flag which was floated in by Jamilla Rankin but a combination of Tash Rigby and Taneesha Baker cleared the danger.
Perth pushed forward just before the hour mark with Hana Lowry creating down the right and finding Caitlin Doeglas. Mariana Tabain managed to get an effort deflected out for a corner. Deborah-Ann De La Harpe curled the flag kick in and it was met with a powerful header from Malia Steinmetz which went wide.
Roar responded with Olivia Chance firing in a long distance effort after being played in by Isobel Dalton, but it went well wide of the left hand post.
Perth produced some excellent continued attacking efforts in this period with Alexia Moreno turning Polkinghorne beautifully which led to Tash Rigby putting in a dangerous cross. The Glory also brought on Tijan McKenna to come up against her older sister Leticia with twenty-five minutes left.
Fellow teenage sub Isabella Wallhead then found Moreno. The nineteen year-old played a sensational cross field ball to Doeglas who controlled it beautifully and cut back on her left foot but fired over.
Brisbane responded with Tameka Yallop receiving the ball outside of the box and curled an effort just wide of the left hand post. Shortly afterwards, Hecher showed great strength to beat two defenders and fire in a great cross which no-one could get a decisive touch on.
With just over twenty minutes left, there was a welcome return to the W-League for Larissa Crummer who came back two years after a dreadful broken leg injury which ended a period of her career which had seen her amass twenty caps for the Matildas, three W-League championship medals and the competition’s Golden Boot and Young Player of the Year awards.
As the game entered the final ten minutes there was concern for the Roar as Emily Gielnik left the field injured.
On eighty-three minutes, Crummer turned and payed in a teasing low cross which was met by Kaitlyn Torpey but the ball went over.
It took just another four minutes before Crummer got a dream goal on her return. Torpey played a low ball in from the left and Crummer got ahead of Patricia Charalambous to gleefully hit the Roar’s fourth to complete the scoring.
Perth Glory’s Caitlin Doeglas said: “It was probably our best performance so far in terms of keeping possession. The weather was quite humid, not what we’re used to in Perth. We had to keep it tight at the back and focus on playing our game and taking our chances up front.”
In the end Brisbane Roar kept their unbeaten record intact comfortably and looked persistently threatening. The skill and experience in this team is something which could well eventually be the difference in their favour in this season’s W-League.
For Perth, this was a game from which they could take a number of positives – they played some lovely passing football at times and did threatened the Roar defence – but they still struggle to convert those chances into goals. They are a team with a lot of potential, albeit one who will take a while to reach their best.
Brisbane Roar: Aquino, Heatley, Polkinghorne, K. Carroll, Rankin, Yallop, Dalton, Chance, Gielnik, L. McKenna, Hecher. Substitutes: Worth (GK), Torpey, Horsey, Freir, Crummer.
Scorers: Chance 23. Gielnik 27, 50. Crummer 87.
Perth Glory: Alfeld, Rigby, S. Carroll, Anton, De La Harpe, Lowry, Steinmetz, Tabain, Doeglas, Moreno, Baker. Substitutes: Bennett (GK), T. McKenna, Charalambous, Morgan, Wallhead.
Referee: Kelly Jones.