ALW Match Preview: Epakis and co ready for “step into the unknown”

Glory Head Coach Alex Epakis believes his squad are as well prepared as they can be for the club’s first ever Liberty A-League trip to Wellington Phoenix on Saturday (kick-off at 12pm WST).

The Match Week 18 fixture at Sky Stadium is a vital one for the women in purple as they seek to keep their Finals hopes alive by closing the gap on fourth-placed Melbourne Victory.

And while keenly aware of the threat posed by the hosts, who enjoyed an impressive win over Sydney FC last time out, Epakis is backing his charges to bounce back from last weekend’s narrow defeat against Adelaide.

View his full pre-match media conference HERE.

“We’re going into the unknown as a coaching group as we haven’t had this experience of playing Wellington away and we’re managing that as a group,” he said.

“But we’re a professional outfit and this is an opportunity and an experience that we’re looking forward to.

“Credit to Wellington; they’ve established themselves as a competitive team, despite being a new team with a really young squad as well.

“I certainly admire from a distance what the coaching team is doing over there.

“So we have to respect exactly where they’re at.

“They had a great result and performance against Sydney last week, so it’s certainly going to be a challenge.

“But we’re not in a position to slip up; we need to go there and win.”

Last weekend’s away defeat by Adelaide ended an unbeaten run of six games and Epakis revealed that it prompted some frank discussions among the players and staff.

“It was disappointing, especially as we’ve been tracking so well in recent weeks,” he said.

“Our performances were really and strong and we had a really strong vibe about what we were doing.

“But the reality was that the last performance wasn’t good enough.

“We acknowledge that and accept that, but I’m very proud of the group because we’ve had a pretty deep conversation collectively about what’s been working and what we need to do better and it takes a strong team sometimes to put those things out on the table.

“We’ve trained really well this week and I’m looking forward to the trip to Wellington and the challenges that poses.

“We’re just making sure we’re taking training day by day and the games week by week.

“We just can’t look too far ahead and the reality is we need things to go our way as well [elsewhere] from a results perspective, so let’s just put all our energy and attention into what we can control.”

Glory will be defending a 100% record against the Kiwi outfit on Saturday, having won each of the three previous meetings between the two sides.

Phoenix have enjoyed two wins thus far this term, against Canberra United and Sydney FC and among their standout performers have been skipper Chloe Knott, livewire attacking midfielder Paige Satchell and fellow-Football Ferns representative, Mackenzie Barry.

Victory at Sky Stadium would move Glory to within four points of Melbourne Victory, with a game in hand, should the navy-and-whites lose their away fixture at Canberra United which is also scheduled for Saturday.

Match Details

Liberty A-League 2022/23 Season – Match Week 18

Wellington Phoenix v Perth Glory

Sky Stadium

Saturday 18 March 2023

Kick-off: 12pm WST

Wellington Phoenix squad: 2. Saskia VOSPER, 3. Kate TAYLOR, 4. Mackenzie BARRY, 5. Marisa VAN DER MEER, 7. Chloe KNOTT, 8. Grace WISNEWSKI, 9. Ava PRITCHARD, 10. Alyssa WHINHAM, 11. Betsy HASSETT, 12. Brianna EDWARDS (gk), 13. Paige SATCHELL, 14. Michaela ROBERTSON, 15. Zoe MCMEEKEN, 16. Emma ROLSTON, 17. Claudia CICCO, 18. Te Reremoana WALKER, 19. Charlotte LANCASTER, 20. Milly CLEGG, 21. Michaela FOSTER, 22. Georgia CANDY (gk)

Ins: 17. Claudia CICCO (returning from international duty)

Outs: 50. Corina BROWN (gk) (end of short-term contract)

Unavailable: 1. Lily ALFELD (gk) (injured), 6. Isabel GOMEZ (injured)

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: Nil

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