Glory’s Finals chances slipped from their own hands on Wednesday evening as despite producing a valiant display, they were downed 4-2 by reigning Premiers Sydney FC at Kogarah’s Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.
View full match highlights HERE.
The hosts dominated the opening exchanges and deservedly took the lead via a first ever Liberty A-League goal from teenager Indiana Dos Santos.
Showing the kind of resolve that has characterised their performances all season, however, Glory hit back courtesy of an Alana Jancevski penalty and although the Sky Blues almost immediately restored their lead through Cortnee Vine, substitute Gabriella Coleman drew the visitors level again just short of the hour-mark.
Knowing that three points would leave them in control of their Finals destiny heading into this weekend’s final round of regular-season fixtures, Glory pushed forward in the final half-hour, only to twice be picked off by the clinical hosts.
Madison Haley crashed in Sydney’s third and Princess Ibini-Isei iced the cake with a fourth right at the death.
The result means Glory must win against Brisbane Roar on Saturday and both Melbourne Victory and Canberra United have to lose in order for Alex Epakis’ side to make the Finals and even then, goal-difference may see them still miss out.
But Epakis insisted that the permutations of the Finals race elsewhere will not impact the way his side go about their business at the weekend.
“We’re going to go out on Saturday and put on a performance against Brisbane that is reflective of what we want it to be regardless of the external matches and the results that they bring,” he said.
“We’re just going to focus on ourselves and get the job done and make sure that if it our last game, it’s a performance that we can be really proud of.
“The reality is that, tonight, Sydney made a great start and had a lot of control in the early stages of the match.
“I think to go in at half-time with the score that we did [trailing 2-1], I felt as if that gave us a platform and something to chase for the second half.
“We gave it a really good crack, but ultimately we fell a little bit short and that’s just the reality of it.
“We can’t think about it for too long; we’ve just got to get back up and get ready for the game on Saturday.”
Knowing that victory would move them to the top of the table and within touching distance of claiming yet another Premiership, Sydney FC came flying out of the traps and immediately laid siege to Glory’s goal.
Ibini-Isei and Mackenzie Hawkesby had both gone close by the time Vine got away down the right and teed up Dos Santos for the opener on 25 minutes.
Hawkesby then struck the bar as the Sky Blues continued to threaten and it therefore came as major surprise when Glory drew level via what was their first incursion into the home side’s box.
Hana Lowry was needlessly clipped by Sarah Hunter while attempting to shield the ball and Jancevski calmly sent Jada Whyman the wrong way from the resulting penalty.
Glory’s hopes of going into the break on level terms disappeared moments later, however, as the impressive Vine carved her way into the box and picked out the bottom corner to make it 2-1.
Epakis opted for a double change at the break, with Coleman and fellow-US import Cyera Hintzen entering the fray and the substitutes soon made an impact, albeit after Morgan Aquino had saved twice from Dos Santos.
Coleman had already embarked upon some dangerous runs down the left when Hannah Blake’s cross-shot was spilled in her direction by home ‘keeper Jada Whyman and she calmly headed home from point-blank range.
At that stage, it was game on and yet just as Glory looked poised to launch the same kind of late onslaught which accounted for Melbourne City last weekend, Sydney struck again.
A contentious free-kick was delivered into the box and Haley reacted quickest to fire into the roof of the net.
The latter stages saw Glory throw bodies forward in a desperate bid to keep their Finals hopes alive, but the inevitable gaps they left at the back were eventually exploited in the shadows of full-time when a Vine-led breakaway culminated in Ibini-Isei slotting Sydney’s fourth past Aquino.
Liberty A-League Season 2022/23 Round 11
Sydney FC 4 (Dos Santos 25′, Vine 45+2′, Haley 75′, Ibini-Isei 89′) Perth Glory 2 (Jancevski (pen) 45′, Coleman 58′)
Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
Wednesday 28 March 2023
Referee: Casey Reibelt
Sydney FC: 1. Jada WHYMAN (GK), 4. Anna GREEN (5. Kirsty FENTON 58′), 6. Sarah HUNTER, 8. Rachel LOWE (9. Madison HALEY 58′), 11. Cortnee VINE (23.Anika STAJCIC 90+2′), 12. Natalie TOBIN (c), 15. Mackenzie HAWKESBY, 16. Deborah-Anne DE LA HARPE, 19. Charlize RULE, 20. Princess IBINI, 22. Indiana DOS SANTOS (21. Shay HOLLMAN 86′)
Substitutes not used: 30. Katie OFFER (GK)
Yellow Cards: Haley
Red Cards: None
Perth Glory: 1.Morgan AQUINO (gk), 3.Kim CARROLL, 4.Natasha RIGBY (c), 7.Liz ANTON, 8.Hana LOWRY, 12.Sofia SAKALIS (42.Gabriella COLEMAN 46′), 13.Sarah CAIN (6.Tijan MCKENNA 80′), 14.Hannah BLAKE, 18.Sadie LAWRENCE, 19.Izzy FOLETTA (21.Ella MASTRANTONIO 54′), 23.Alana JANCEVSKI (15.Cyera HINTZEN 46′)
Substitutes not used: 20.Sarah LANGMAN (gk)
Yellow Cards: Carroll
Red Cards: None