ALW Match Preview: Carroll factor will lift Glory says Epakis

Glory Head Coach Alex Epakis believes that the desire to mark Kim Carroll’s final home game in style will provide extra motivation for his squad when they take on Melbourne City in Sunday’s crunch Liberty A-League fixture at Macedonia Park (kick-off at 3pm, tickets HERE).

The former Matildas defender announced her intention to call time on her illustrious, 15-year professional career at the end of the season earlier this week, meaning that Sunday will mark her last home appearance in the famous purple.

And Epakis is confident that Carroll’s teammates will do everything they can to ensure she signs off at Macedonia Park on a winning note.

“Everyone in the group has a lot of respect and love for Kim and that emotion was definitely shared when she announced it,” he said.

“I imagine it will be even more so on Sunday and rightly so, because she’s been a fantastic servant for the club and the game in general.

“She deserves all the accolades and the praise and I’m just really pleased that she’s been able to do it on her terms.

“That provides extra motivation for the team to put on a performance that she’ll remember as her last home game.”

With three games left to play in the regular season, Glory currently trail fourth-placed Melbourne Victory by five points, but do have a game in hand on the navy-and-whites.

Three points at the expense of third-placed City is therefore essential if they are to keep their Finals hopes alive and while aware of the visitors’ strengths, Epakis is quietly confident that Glory can get the job done.

“I think it’s really important that while we know what’s ahead, we don’t look too far ahead and we just take it match by match, starting with this weekend,” he said.

“There’s a real opportunity there for us if we’re really focused and committed and then a day later we’ll be on our way to Sydney for that test and then on to Brisbane.

“So it’s step by step.

“When you look at City’s squad and their playing style, they move the ball well, have some really good technical players, they’re balanced across the field and have a clear identity in terms of what they try to do.

“Ultimately, we have to match that.

“We need to be really good with the ball when we have it and strong without the ball when we don’t have it.

“If we do those things, we give ourselves a chance.

“We’re taking a bit of inspiration from our previous match against them earlier in the season.

“I thought that we had a really strong performance that day and that was in the middle of a really congested period of fixtures for us.

“We had some really good opportunities and I’ve done my best to highlight that to our team just to remind them that we can go toe-to-toe with them and with anyone.”

The Head Coach went on to outline how vital the home support will be this weekend.

“They’ve played a really important role to date and contributed to a positive atmosphere which I know the players really enjoy playing in,” he said.

“Given that it is the last [home] game, we’d love to see more of them and we’ll do our best to make sure that occasion is worthwhile for them to come to.”

In terms of squad news, Glory appeared to come through last weekend’s battling 1-0 away win over Wellington Phoenix unscathed, leaving Susan Phonsongkham (foot) and Rylee Baisden (knee) as the only notable confirmed absentees.

The women in purple will be up against a City side whose form has been indifferent in recent weeks, with their last six games yielding two wins, three defeats and a draw.

Among the visitors’ standout performers this year have been Bryleeh Henry, who has scored four goals and added three assists and New Zealand international forward Hannah Wilkinson, who has found the net on three occasions.

City have won the last five meetings between the two sides, conceding just one goal in the process, but Glory have been beaten only once in their last eight Liberty A-League outings.

Match Details

Liberty A-League Round 19

Perth Glory v Melbourne City

Macedonia Park

Sunday 26 March 2023

Kick-off: 3pm WST

Perth Glory Squad: 1. Morgan AQUINO (gk), 3. Kim CARROLL, 4. Natasha RIGBY (c), 6. Tijan MCKENNA, 7. Liz ANTON, 8. Hana LOWRY, 9. Demi KOULIZAKIS, 12. Sofia SAKALIS, 13. Sarah CAIN, 14. Hannah BLAKE, 15. Cyera HINTZEN, 16. Isabella WALLHEAD, 17. Abbey GREEN, 18. Sadie LAWRENCE, 19. Izzy FOLETTA, 20. Sarah LANGMAN (gk), 21. Ella MASTRANTONIO, 23. Alana JANCEVSKI

Ins: 6.Tijan MCKENNA, 16.Isabella WALLHEAD

Outs: None

Unavailable: 10.Susan PHONSONGKHAM (injured), 11.Rylee BAISDEN (injured), 24.Milan HAMMOND (injured)

Melbourne City squad: 1. Sally JAMES (GK), 3. Naomi CHINNAMA, 4. Chelsea BLISSETT, 6. Leticia MCKENNA, 7. Julia GROSSO, 8. Kaitlyn TORPEY, 9. Holly McNAMARA, 10. Rhianna POLLICINA, 14. Katie BOWEN, 15. Emma CHECKER (C), 17. Hannah WILKINSON, 19. Maria ROJAS, 21. Isabella ACCARDO, 22. Bryleeh HENRY, 24. Daniela GALIC, 25. Darcey MALONE, 33. Sophia VARLEY (GK).

In: 10. Rhianna POLLICINA (promoted)

Outs: None

Unavailable: 5. Tori TUMETH (ACL), 16. Karly ROESTBAKKEN (foot), 18. Leah DAVIDSON (ankle), 20. Caitlin KARIC (knee), 23. Melissa BARBIERI (calf)