ALW Match Preview: “We’re in it together” – Epakis

Glory Head Coach Alex Epakis believes that his united playing group has what it takes to get back to winning ways when they visit Western Sydney Wanderers for a crucial Liberty A-League Round 20 clash on Saturday (kick-off at 1pm WST, watch live and FREE on 10Play).

Securing a first victory since New Year’s Eve is vital if the women in purple are to force their way back into the top six, with Saturday’s opponents currently occupying the last Finals spot.

And while acknowledging that the recent run of indifferent form has taken its toll on players and staff alike, Epakis is confident that his charges’ season is far from over.

“I empathise with the group completely,” he said.

“We train really well and prepare really well, there’s no doubt about that.

“That hasn’t changed since the day we started pre-season.

“We’re still doing the same things, but at the moment they’re not being rewarded for the work that’s being put in.

“Understandably, some confidence and some of the spirit has taken a hit; we can’t deny that.

“But we’re in it together and that’s the key thing.

“I don’t expect anyone to be over the moon currently, but we’re all trying really hard to get a result and put a performance together that we’re proud of and hopefully in doing so, get a win.

“There’s no instant solution, no cheat sheet other than sticking to the process and performing like we need to.”

In terms of specific areas of improvement, the Head Coach is very clear in what he wants to see at Wanderers Football Park.

“A key thing for us this week is ensuring that our level of output remains strong across 95 minutes,” he said.

“That’s regardless of the game state, whether we’re up, whether we’re down and that’s with momentum or without momentum.

“We know that if we can do that consistently across the pitch, with and without the ball, we’re a much tougher opponent to play against.

“We’re coming up against a Western Sydney side which is super-dangerous in transition attacks and we need to make sure that our output is there in terms of recovery runs and ability to win the ball in key moments to stop promising attacks.

“That’s been a really clear theme for us this week.

“More than anything, we just have to perform better with the ball.

“We need to keep it for longer periods and be well organised so that when we lose it, we can win it back quickly and nullify the things that they do well.”

Wanderers will head west off the back of an impressive 4-1 victory over Canberra United in midweek and Epakis is under no illusions as to the challenge they will present.

“I think they’ve done tremendously well since the first quarter of the season,” he said.

“I’ve got a lot of time for Hooks [Head Coach Robbie Hooker].

“He’s really effective at what he does and he’s brought the best out of that group.

“Their key strength is their forward runs, their ability to play forward and recover quickly.

“They’re quite a direct and mobile team and that’s going to pose a threat to anyone.

“We have to be really mindful of that, but more than anything, what we need to do, is just ensure that we perform better with the ball.”

The red-and-blacks claimed the spoils when the two sides met earlier in the season, Sophie Harding grabbing both goals in a 2-0 win at Macedonia Park.

The 24-year-old forward has since taken her tally for the season to nine, while Holly Caspers has also enjoyed an impressive campaign, scoring five times and adding seven assists.

Match Details

Liberty A-League 2023/24 Season Round 20

Western Sydney Wanderers v Perth Glory

Wanderers Football Park

Saturday 16 March 2024

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

Western Sydney Wanderers squad: 1.Kaylie COLLINS (GK), 2.Vicky BRUCE, 4.Madison MCCOMASKY, 5.Lauren KEIR, 6.Amy CHESSARI, 7.Amy HARRISON, 8.Olivia PRICE, 9.Sophie HARDING, 10.Melissa CACERES, 11.Danika MATOS, 14.Ella BUCHANAN, 15.Cushla RUE, 17.India BREIER, 18.Malia MORRIS, 19.Talia YOUNIS, 20.Sham KHAMIS (GK), 22.Ischia BROOKING, 32.Bethany GORDON

Ins: 9. Sophie HARDING

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 3.Gemma FERRIS (international duty), 21.Alexia APOSTOLAKIS (international duty)

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, 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), 26.Tanika LALA, 30.Mischa ANDERSON, 31.Clara HOARAU

Four to be omitted

Ins: 17.Abbey GREEN, 22.Claudia MIHOCIC, 26.Tanika LALA, 30.Mischa ANDERSON

Outs: None

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