Glory suffered stoppage-time heartache in the nation’s capital on Friday evening as Michelle Heyman’s 95th-minute effort secured a 3-2 win for Canberra United.
Forced to play a ‘home’ game on the other side of the country, Alex Epakis’ side produced a gutsy performance, with Caitlin Doeglas and substitute Katarina Jukic scoring two fine goals to cancel out efforts from Nicki Flannery and Heyman for the hosts.
Then, in a remarkable finale, Kendall Fletcher missed two penalties for United, Sarah Carroll saw red for dissent and just as Glory seemed destined to hang on for a deserved point, Heyman powered her way into the box and found the bottom corner.
While naturally disappointed with the result, Glory Head Coach Alex Epakis was hugely heartened by the spirit his charges showed in extremely challenging circumstances.
“I’m just so proud of the group,” he said, “they did themselves and the club proud today.
“We had so much to deal with and these are not excuses, they are objective facts.
“We had to travel very quickly after the last game with fatigued legs, we had to travel without a full squad because some players couldn’t make the trip and we moved heaven and earth to make sure that we were in the right mindset for this game.
“And after all that, we delivered a 90-minute performance.
“They gave me so much, they gave each other so much and when I walked into the changing rooms after the game, for the first time in my coaching career, I was speechless.
“I just said I was sorry that it didn’t go their way in terms of the result.
“We dished up what I believe was our best performance to date and if that’s our level for the next four games, we can do something positive on the run home and if we drop below that, we know that we’ve not been at our best.”
It was Canberra who looked the more likely early on, the dangerous Paige Satchell twice going close before Heyman played in Flannery who finished clinically to make it 1-0.
Just before the break, however, Glory hit back in magnificent style as Doeglas bent a left-footed strike from outside the box into the top corner of Keeley Richards’ net.
Nine minutes into the second half, Heyman restored Canberra’s lead, reacting smartly to rifle home the loose ball after Lily Alfeld had produced a fine save to block the her initial effort and in doing so, the former Matilda replaced ex-Glory striker Sam Kerr as the Westfield W-League’s all-time top scorer.
But again Glory dug deep and responded through Jukic whose long-range effort caught Richards off her line and sailed into the roof of the net.
As the final whistle loomed, the drama only intensified, with referee Lara Lee taking centre stage.
In the 85th minute, she penalised Natasha Rigby for a trip on Fletcher in the box, but having taken responsibility for the spot-kick herself, the Canberra midfielder drove her effort against the post.
Lee then pointed to the spot again just two minutes later, adjudging that Sarah Carroll had handled the ball and then handing the already-cautioned Glory defender a second yellow, seemingly for dissent.
Remarkably, Fletcher fluffed her lines again, this time shooting wide, but the women in green still managed to have the final word as Heyman struck for a second time to seal victory right at the death.
Friday, 12 March 2021
Canberra United 3 (Flannery 36′, Heyman 54′, 90+5′) Perth Glory 2 (Doeglas 41′, Jukic 71′)
Viking Park, Tuggeranong
Referee: Lara Lee
Canberra United : 1.Keeley RICHARDS (gk), 2.Emma ILIJOSKI,4.Kendall FLETCHER (c), 5.Lauren KEIR, 6.Bianca GALIC, 8.Laura HUGHES, 10.Grace MAHER, 13.Paige SATCHELL (12. Hayley TAYLOR-YOUNG 74′), 15.Jessika NASH, 19.Nicki FLANNERY (9.Demi KOULIZAKIS 75′), 23.Michelle HEYMAN
Substitutes not used: 7.Rachael GOLDSTEIN, 14.Jessie RASSCHAERT, 29.Chantel JONES (gk)
Yellow Cards: Hughes
Red Cards: None
Perth Glory: 1.Lily ALFELD (GK), 2.Sarah CARROLL, 4.Natasha RIGBY (C), 5.Deborah-Anne DE LA HARPE, 7.Elizabeth ANTON, 8.Hana LOWRY, 9.Malia STEINMETZ (6.Tijan MCKENNA 61′), 10.Alexia MORENO (23.Katarina JUKIC 60′), 12.Sarah MORGAN (11.Patricia CHARALAMBOUS 70′), 13.Jamie-Lee GALE (17.Marianna TABAIN 70′), 14.Caitlin DOEGLAS,
Substitutes not used: 20.Rebecca BENNETT (GK)
Yellow Cards: Carroll, Gale, Jukic
Red Cards: Carroll