Match Report: Perth Glory 1-2 Adelaide United

Perth Glory’s highly talented team of youngsters went down to their second straight Westfield W League defeat of the season against a strong Adelaide United outfit at Dorrien Gardens.

The game took place on a warm late afternoon in Perth on a pitch which showed signs of being slightly sun scorched in places.

Glory made two changes from the side that went down 1-0 to the same opponents last weekend with Sarah Carroll coming in for Jamie-Lee Gale after recovering from illness and Hana Lowry replacing Kat Jukic in an attacking position. There was a further change on the bench with Patricia Charalambous in for Isabella Wallhead.

Adelaide just had one change in their starting line-up – a straight swap with Charlotte Grant coming in for Emily Hodgson in the defence who went down to the bench. Ella Tonkin dropped out of the squad in addition.

Perth started playing some really lovely easy on the eye triangular passing moves and looking comfortable on the ball.

Yet, despite this early possession, it was the visitors who took the lead. Emily Condon, scorer of the only goal between the two sides last week found Maria Jose Rojas who played the ball back to Condon on the right of box. Her cross in was cleared by Glory stalwart Tash Rigby. However, the ball was returned to the danger zone quickly through Mallory Weber who weaved a lovely pass through to former Leicester City and Coventry United striker Fiona Worts to slot home with just six minutes played.

Five minutes later, Rojas found her way into the box but she was brilliantly marshalled by Sarah Carroll and Elizabeth Anton at the expense of a corner, which Glory dealt with and the outstanding local youngster Gemma Craine showed her searing pace to break through and hit an effort wide.

Perth looked slightly more organised this week and had another opportunity when Malia Steinmetz found Craine who was too quick again for Maruschka Waldus and earned a corner. Deborah-Anne de la Harpe’s ball in was met by the head of Caitlin Doeglas but Sian Fryer-McLaren was not tested in the Adelaide goal.

A catastrophic error at the back almost led to the visitors doubling their lead. Whilst under no pressure, Glory defender Sarah Morgan’s attempted back pass was far too short and let Emily Condon in, but the Adelaide midfielder inexplicably put it wide.

United conjured up another effort when Charlotte Grant got free from de la Harpe down the right and played in a tempting curler which was just too high.

Perth finally managed to release themselves from defensive duties thanks to a great bit of skill which saw Doeglas turn a defender and a burst of speed saw her play in Hana Lowry. The seventeen year-old home towner played in a lovely cross for Doeglas but the danger was dealt with. Doeglas had another opportunity just before the break when Morgan dinked a ball over the top to her, but Fryer-McLaren snaffled up the danger.

The final chance of the opening stanza fell to the visitors as Grant got past Morgan but Elizabeth Anton did brilliantly to hold her up at expense of a corner. From the resulting set piece, Waldus headed down to Rojas, but Lily Alfeld was down quickly to deny Adelaide’s dangerous Chilean.

The overall pattern of the first half was Perth looking dangerous on the attack, but struggling to generate sufficient possession to maintain the pressure. This is, again partly connected to twin issues of putting a team together late and the consequences of coronavirus quarantine protocols, which has meant that they have only recently been able to train together.

Adelaide started the second half on the front foot. Charlotte Grant weaved her magic again and played in Maria Jose Rojas but Sarah Carroll cleared well.

Yet, out of nothing Perth conjured up an equaliser after 53 minutes. Hana Lowry picked up a loose Adelaide pass and found Marianne Tobain who combined with Caitlin Doeglas and the latter slotted a brilliant effort across the face of Sian Fryer-McLaren for Glory’s first goal of the season.

Lowry got free again and pulled in a glorious cross which Marianna Tobain connected with acrobatically but it flew over the bar. Beaming sixteen year-old Tijan McKenna then came on for her home debut for Perth. McKenna, younger sister of former Glory star Leticia, who is now at Brisbane Roar, is still at school.

The goal changed the momentum briefly and Perth began to cause real problems in the Adelaide defence, notably with Lowry, Craine and Tabain at the heart of it all. A high ball in from Tash Rigby was needlessly headed out for a corner under no pressure by Matilda McNamara. The flag kick found Lowry whose shot was blocked.

More disappointment came for Perth with twenty minutes to go when star player Gemma Craine went down attempting to run down McNamara. Glory will be hoping it proves to be cramp rather than a hamstring injury.

With sixteen minutes left, Adelaide’s Georgia Campagnale let fly with a stunning effort from outside the area which rocketed towards the top right hand corner, but an outstanding save from Lily Alfeld saw the ball pushed away for a corner.

Moments later, Adelaide had better luck when Rojas beat Rigby and found Weber on the edge of the box. Her ball in to the far post was headed in by Emily Condon.

Worts could have added a third with eight minutes left when she fired an effort over the bar, but perhaps she might have been better off squaring to a team-mate who was free on the right hand side of the box.

Condon had a chance in the closing periods, but she was well marshalled by young Perth striker Lowry in defensive mode. Mallory Weber fired in a powerful effort from the edge of the box to follow up, but Alfeld did well in the Glory goal.

There were more positives for Perth to take in defeat and there is clearly a lot of young talent in the squad, but they need more time to gel. However, time is something which is not available in this short W League campaign. Losing their most influential attacker does not bode well for an immediate change of form, particularly with Canberra United next up.

Perth Glory coach Alex Epakis said: “We’re heading in the right direction. We’ve had some good moments with the ball. We just need to find some cutting edge now to create chances. We have to be more proactive to create more pressure.

Gemma Craine has the X-Factor and we’re confident in her putting chances away. We have to do more to support her and make sure we have numbers up there with her and not just relying on her.”

Adelaide United have now wrapped up back to back victories after an opening 4-3 loss to pace setters Canberra United. The South Australians have a solid foundation to claim a maiden Finals appearance come March.

Teams: PERTH GLORY: Alfeld, Rigby, de la Harpe, Anton, Carroll, Steinmetz, Tabain, Morgan, Craine, Doeglas, Lowry. Substitutes: Bennett (GK), Charalambous, Green, McKenna, Jukic.

Scorers: Doeglas 53.

ADELAIDE UNITED: Fryer-McLaren, Grant, I. Hodgson, McNamara, Waldus, Holmes, Worts, Campagnale, Condon, Weber, Rojas. Substitutes: Grove (GK), E. Hodgson, Kirkby, Mullan, Tonkin.

Scorers: Worts 6, Condon 75.

Referee: Georgia Ghirardello.

Attendance: 673.