Glory’s return to Westfield W-League action ended in defeat as Julie-Ann Russell’s first-half effort proved enough to secure all three points for Western Sydney Wanderers at Marconi Stadium.
Alex Epakis’ side produced a battling display following an enforced 25-day hiatus, but were ultimately unable to find a way through a well-drilled and uncompromising Wanderers defence.
Glory were also grateful to goalkeeper Lily Alfeld who maintained her impressive form by producing a string of fine saves, while 17-year-old Taneesha Baker was a lively presence in the final third on what was her senior debut.
The defeat means that the WA side will continue their search for a first win of the campaign in Sunday’s clash with Brisbane Roar at Lions FC Stadium, but while naturally disappointed with Thursday’s result, Epakis was delighted with the resolve displayed by his charges.
“It’s a theme at the moment,” he said.
“We’re showing good character to be in matches with a young and inexperienced group who are going toe-to-toe with more experienced teams and players and we have to be positive about that.
“I thought we started the match really well and were building some good momentum and then it’s a bit of a stinger conceding in the 45th minute or whatever it might have been.
“Obviously that changed the dynamic of the second half… and in the end I think they [Wanderers] were just a little bit more experienced than us.
“It was a good hit-out for us as we continue to evolve.
“These are the games and results that we’re going to learn the most from.
“We have to take it in our stride.
“We’re allowed to be disappointed with the result, but I think we should be impressed with the way our performances are improving and so many young girls came on today and did a really good job that they should be proud of.
“Taneesha Baker on debut punched above her weight, Tijan McKenna came on and did some outstanding things and Hana Lowry gave a very good account of herself and that’s just to mention a few of the younger ones.
“We just have to continue to highlight that this is a project and it’s not going to happen overnight, but these individual performances are going to be what help us go to that next level, hopefully in the not too distant future.”
A largely cagey first-half was characterised by plenty of endeavour from both sides but very little in the way of clear-cut chances.
With the impressive Elizabeth Anton to the fore, Glory were rarely threatened and looked lively on the break, notably when Baker fired in a long-distance effort which had Sarah Willacy scrambling in the Wanderers goal.
But as the teams seemed set to go to the break locked at 0-0, the hosts produced their most fluent move of the half to take the lead.
Caitlin Cooper was the architect, surging forward from midfield before playing in Russell whose shot beat Alfled despite the Kiwi ‘keeper getting a hand on it.
1-0 very nearly became 2-0 shortly after the restart, Sarah Carroll’s misplaced pass being picked up by Elizabeth Copus-Brown whose fine shot from just outside the box was spectacularly palmed onto the bar by Alfeld.
That let-off sparked a storm of pressure from Wanderers during which Russell, Bryleeh Henry and Sarah Hunter were all denied by a combination of last-ditch defending and two more fine saves from Alfeld.
Glory’s response came in the form of a good chance for Caitlin Doeglas who was sent in on goal by a fine through-ball from substitute Tijan McKenna, but Willacy raced from her line and made a sliding block to keep the 24-year-old forward at bay.
As the final whistle approached, a goal-line clearance from Carroll was required to prevent Hunter’s header from doubling Western Sydney’s advantage and the home midfielder was then denied once again by the heroic Alfeld who went full-length to keep out her fierce strike.
Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Russell 43′) Perth Glory 0
Marconi Stadium, Bossley Park
Referee: Rachel Mitchenson
Western Sydney Wanderers: 1.Sarah WILLACY (GK), 2.Caitlin COOPER, 3.Nikola ORGILL, 6.Olivia PRICE (15.Rosie GALEA 76′), 9.Bryleeh HENRY, 10.Libby COPUS-BROWN, 11.Danika MATOS, 12.Julie-Ann RUSSELL (14.Aideen KANE 85′),13.Georgia YEOMAN-DALE, 18.Sarah HUNTER, 25.Teigan COLLISTER
Substitutes not used: 7.Chloe MIDDLETON, 16.Isabel GOMEZ, 20.Courtney NEWBON (GK)
Yellow Cards: None
Red Cards: None
Perth Glory: 1.Lily ALFELD (gk), 2.Sarah CARROLL, 4.Natasha RIGBY (c), 5.Deborah-Anne DE LA HARPE (16.Isabella WALLHEAD 62′), 7.Elizabeth ANTON, 8.Hana LOWRY, 9.Malia STEINMETZ (12.Sarah MORGAN 72′), 10.Alexia MORENO, 14.Caitlin DOEGLAS (11.Patricia CHARALAMBOUS 72′), 17.Marianna TABAIN (6.Tijan MCKENNA 62′), 18.Taneesha BAKER
Substitutes not used: 20.Rebecca BENNETT (gk)
Yellow Cards: Rigby, McKenna
Red Cards: None