ALW Match Preview: “For us, the Finals start now” – Epakis

There may be five games of the regular Liberty A-League season still to go for Glory, but Head Coach Alex Epakis believes that his charges already find themselves in a play-off-situation.

Watch his full pre-match media conference HERE.

The women in purple face Newcastle Jets at Maitland Regional Sports Ground on Sunday (kick-off at 1pm WST, watch live and FREE on 10 Play) needing three points to climb back into the top six having hit some indifferent form in recent weeks.

And Epakis certainly did not underplay the significance of the Round 18 clash during his pre-match media conference.

“We’ve always ended the season in the last two years with an all-or-nothing mentality,” he said.

“We’ve always found a way where we’ve had to put together a string of results to try and make the play-offs.

“The reality is, in the last two seasons, we’ve fallen short.

“It was one goal two seasons ago and it was one point last season.

“So that scar tissue is still there for a lot of players.

“I reminded them of what that feeling is like, because we don’t want to be in that position again come the end of the season.

“We want to still be in control of whether we make the play-offs and to do that, we have to win games.

“If we want to be a Finals team, these are the types of games we have to win.

“We know that if we do manage to overcome Newcastle, it pushes us back up into the six and we want to do that and then cement our position in there.

“For us, it’s almost as if the Finals have started now.”

The Head Coach went on to reveal that the squad and staff have done some soul-searching during the international break and are in determined mood ahead of the long trip east.

“We’re not totally comfortable with the form and the position that we’re in right now, so we’re excited that we have games in front of us in which we can put things right,” he said.

“We’ve been really focusing on creating a change in our form and we’re hopeful that will happen this weekend.

“Our attack hasn’t been as strong as it was at the start of the season and that’s not something as a coach or as a team that we want to be.

“We want to be an attacking team and that’s something we set out from the start of the season.

“Grace Jale is back in the squad now after being away for a few weeks and we’re hopeful that she can bring some energy back in.

“We’re also hopeful that a few of the other players can give us a bit more in that area of the pitch.

“But we’ve also got to be better defensively and better in transition, so I wouldn’t say it’s one specific area; we need to be collectively better across all moments.

“I believe that since that last fixture [against Central Coast Mariners], the players have had to time to really digest everything and collectively they’re now working towards the next performance and making sure it’s a better showing than what that was.

“There’s so much to play for for us.

“We’ve got five fixtures in front of us and we’re really focused on doing everything we can to make Finals.

“So we’re driven and motivated by that, I can definitely see that the fire is there for the players and we’ve got to utilise and harness that and make sure we put together a performance on the pitch over 90 minutes to win us the game.”

Glory will be up against a Jets side which has claimed maximum points in four of its last eight games, including a 3-0 victory over Brisbane Roar in Round 17.

Philippines international forward Sarina Bolden has been their standout performer, bagging 11 goals and adding four assists, while Saturday’s hosts can also call upon a number of other big names, including Gema Simon, Libby Copus-Brown and Melina Ayres.

The most recent clash between the two sides ended with Glory earning a hard-fought 1-0 win at HBF Park back in October and the women in purple have lost on only one of their last five visits to the Hunter Valley.

Match Details

Liberty A-League 2023/24 Season Round 18

Newcastle Jets v Perth Glory

Maitland Regional Sports Ground

Sunday 3 March 2024

Kick-off: 1pm WST (4pm Local)

Referee: Isabella Mossin

Newcastle Jets squad: 1. Izzy NINO, 2. Josie WILSON, 4. Natasha PRIOR, 6. Cassidy DAVIS, 7. Gema SIMON, 9. MelindaJ BARBIERI, 10. Libby COPUS-BROWN, 11. Sarina BOLDEN, 13. Lauren ALLAN, 14. Melina AYRES, 15. Alex HUYNH, 18. Sophie HOBAN,21. Kiara ROCHAIX, 22. Lorena BAUMANN, 23. Zoe KARIPIDIS, 24. Milan HAMMOND, 26. Josie ALLAN, 28. Emma DUNDAS

Ins: 7. Gema SIMON, 14. Melina AYRES

Outs: 3. Claudia CICCO, 25. Lara GOOCH

Perth Glory squad: 1.Morgan AQUINO (GK), 3.Jessika COWART, 4.Natasha RIGBY (c), 7.Liz ANTON, 8.Hana LOWRY, 9.Millie FARROW, 10.Susan PHONSONGKHAM, 11.Grace JALE, 12.Sofia SAKALIS, 13.Sarah CAIN, 14.Tia STONEHILL, 17.Abbey GREEN, 18.Sadie LAWRENCE, 19.Izzy FOLETTA, 20.Quinley QUEZADA, 22.Claudia MIHOCIC, 23.Isobel DALTON, 24.Sally JAMES (GK), 28.Anika STAJCIC, 31.Clara HOARAU

Four to be omitted

Ins: 11.Grace JALE, 13.Sarah CAIN, 14.Tia STONEHILL, 22.Claudia MIHOCIC, 28.Anika STAJCIC, 31.Clara HOARAU

Outs: 25.Grace JOHNSTON, 27.Georgia CASSIDY

Unavailable: 16.Isabella WALLHEAD (injured), 25.Grace JOHNSTON (injured), 27.Georgia CASSIDY (international duty)