Glory moved to within one point of the top four in the Liberty A-League table after Deborah-Anne de la Harpe’s stunning free-kick secured a thoroughly-deserved 1-0 victory over Western Sydney Wanderers at Central Coast Stadium.
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de la Harpe opened her A-League goalscoring account in spectacular style, rifling the ball into the top corner from an acute angle four minutes into the second half and Glory were unfortunate not to win by a far wider margin.
Wanderers’ goalkeeper Sarah Langman made a string of fine saves, including one from Mie Leth Jans which saw her somehow parry the Danish midfielder’s powerful glancing header on to the bar.
Substitute Leena Khamis was also denied in a one-on-one situation, while Sofia Sakalis headed against the woodwork in first-half stoppage-time.
Coming as it did at the end of a tough week dominated by the ongoing uncertainty around the reopening of the WA border, it was little wonder that Head Coach Alex Epakis was full of praise for his side’s performance.
“All week, after the Newcastle game, we realised that we put together a performance for 70% of the match,” he said.
“The focus this week was turning that 70% towards 90 or 100 and making sure that from start to finish, we gave ourselves the best chance to dominate the game.
“In this instance, we did exactly that.
“For me, it’s the best performance we’ve had in the two seasons I’ve been here.
“We controlled the match from start to finish, we didn’t give them any real chances, we created a lot of chances and all we had to do was score another couple of goals for it to have been a perfect performance.
“”Hopefully we can build towards that, but I’m over the moon.
“The group was fantastic all week and despite the difficult news that came through in the week, we drew a line in the sand and said to the players that the only way we can respond to this is in our performance on the field.
“That was a huge motivator today.”
After a relatively quiet opening, Lisa De Vanna was narrowly off-target with Glory’s first chance some 20 minutes in and from then, Epakis’ side rarely looked back.
Leth Jans’ header from a de la Harpe corner looked nailed on to hit the back of the net before Langman’s incredible intervention forced the ball onto the bar and the woodwork was shaken again on the stroke of half-time by a powerful Sakalis header.
The breakthrough finally arrived four minutes after the restart as de la Harpe stepped up and unleashed a free-kick of such ferocity that Langman could barely have seen it as it arrowed its way past her.
Morgan Aquino did have to make a couple of regulation saves from the industrious Bryleeh Henry as the second-half wore on, but Glory always looked the more threatening and came very close to doubling their lead late on when Khamis was denied by Langman.
The result leaves the women in purple sitting in fifth spot at what is the midway point of the season and they will be out to make it three games unbeaten when they take on Wellington Phoenix next weekend.
Perth Glory 1 (de la Harpe 49′) Western Sydney Wanderers 0
Central Coast Stadium
Referee: Rebecca Mackie
Perth Glory: 1.Morgan AQUINO (GK), 3.Kim CARROLL, 4.Natasha RIGBY (C), 5.Deborah-Anee DE LA HARPE, 7.Liz ANTON, 8.Hana LOWRY ( 13.Sarah CAIN 82′), 11.Lisa DE VANNA ( 23.Alana JANCEVSKI 74′),12.Sofia SAKALIS ( 29. Leena KHAMIS 59′), 17.Abbey GREEN ( 21.Aideen KEANE 82′), 18.Sadie LAWRENCE, 26.Mie LETH JANS
Substitutes not used: 20.Courtney NEWBON (GK)
Yellow Cards: Leth Jans, Jancevski
Red Cards: None
Western Sydney Wanderers: 1.Sarah LANGMAN, 2.Caitlin COOPER, 5.Danika MATOS, 6.Olivia PRICE ( 13.Biana GALIC 73′), 8.Erica HALLOWAY ( 17.Sheridan GALLAGHER 58′), 9.Bryleeh HENRY, 10.Elizabeth COPUS-BROWN, 14.Clare HUNT, 15.Rosie GALEA (11.Teigan COLLISTER 58′), 21.Alexia APOSTOLAKIS ( 23.Teigen ALLEN 81′), 22.Alexandra HUYNH
Substitutes not used: 20.Shamiran KHAMIS (GK)
Yellow Cards: Huynh, Hunt
Red Cards: None