Head Coach Alex Epakis believes that an internal reset has enhanced his side’s chances of toppling Melbourne Victory in Friday’s Liberty A-League Round 9 clash at AAMI Park (kick-off at 2.05pm WST).
Glory will head east off the back of an unfortunate 3-2 home defeat at the hands of unbeaten Western United and looking to avenge their Round 4 loss to the navy-and-whites.
And Epakis is confident that they are in the right place mentally to get the better of the reigning champions who are currently occupying fourth spot in the table.
“The first thing you want to do after a loss is just get back on the field and make things right,” he said, “and that’s where we are as a group.
“We’re looking forward to having an opportunity to make things right quickly.
“We did play really well [against Western United] and that performance against 80% of the other teams gets us a result.
“To walk away with nothing was probably the most disappointing thing.
“After the three matches in quick succession with the travel in-between, we’ve now had a bit of time together as a team to kind of decompress and debrief where we’re currently at and reset the ideas that we’re trying to put together on the field.”
A second-half red card to Sarah Cain ultimately proved crucial when Glory hosted Victory last month and the Head Coach is quietly confident that his charges have what it takes to match Jeff Hopkins’ side in the return 1fixture.
“We were very competitive in that match before going one player down,” he said, “and I think that ultimately, we took away a bit of confidence from that, knowing that we could continue to compete while having a player less.
“There were certainly moments where we were really good and on top in that match and I’m hoping to build on that and get the result that we need.”
Cain will be unable to make amends in Friday’s game as she has been ruled out by illness and Epakis confirmed that he is likely to shuffle his selection pack at AAMI Park.
“There’ll be a few changes just to freshen it up and bring different characters onto the field,” he said.
“It’s important when you have a squad that you utilise players’ strengths for particular matches and particular moments in a season.
“That’s where we’re at and we’ll see some new faces in the squad this week.
“Every team in the competition has strong players [including Melbourne Victory] and a certain style of play and we just need to be aware of it, but continue to focus on what we’re doing more than anything.”
After a slow start to the campaign, Victory have enjoyed four consecutive victories over Wellington Phoenix, Glory, Newcastle Jets and most recently, Canberra United.
Powerful striker Melina Ayres has led the resurgence with five goals, although she will miss Friday’s game through injury, while US import Kayla Morrison has bagged three and Matildas midfielder Alex Chidiac has also been in impressive form.
Interestingly, this fixture has never produced a draw, with Glory winning seven times to Victory’s five, including last season when Mie Leth Jans and Leena Khamis both found the net in a 2-0 triumph at AAMI Park.
Liberty A-League 2022/23 Season Round 9
Melbourne Victory v Perth Glory
Friday 6 January 2023
Kick-off: 2.05pm WST (5.05pm Local)
Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Casey DUMONT, 2. Tiffany ELIADIS, 5.Jessika NASH, 6.Beattie GOAD, 7.Gema SIMON, 8.Alana MURPHY, 10.Alex CHIDIAC, 11.Natalie TATHEM, 15.Amy JACKSON, 16.Paige ZOIS, 17.Maja MARKOVSKI 18.Kayla MORRISON, 19.Lia PRIVITELLI, 20.Miranda TEMPLEMAN, 21.Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT, 22.Ava BRIEDIS, 23.Emily KOS, 25.Rikke MADSEN, 27.Rosie CURTIS
Ins: 20. Miranda TEMPLEMAN (returns from injury), 21.Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT (returns from illness), 23.Emily KOS (promoted), 26.Anna LIACOPOULOS (promoted)
Unavailable: 3.Claudia BUNGE (injured), 9.Catherine ZIMMERMAN (injured), 14.Melina AYRES (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, 10.Susan PHONSONGKHAM, 11.Rylee BAISDEN, 12.Sofia SAKALIS, 15.Cyera HINTZEN, 16.Isabella WALLHEAD, 17.Abbey GREEN, 18.Sadie LAWRENCE, 19.Izzy FOLETTA, 20.Sarah LANGMAN (gk), 21.Ella MASTRANTONIO, 22.Claudia MIHOCIC, 23.Alana JANCEVSKI, 42.Gabriella COLEMAN
Ins: 6.Tijan MCKENNA, 17.Abbey GREEN, 19.Izzy FOLETTA, 22.Claudia MIHOCIC
Unavailable: 13.Sarah CAIN (illness), 24.Milan HAMMOND (injured)
(picture courtesy of Tom McCarthy)