With Glory’s third consecutive victory on the weekend marking the midway point of the season, we take a look at the campaign so far.
Last week’s fixtures signalled the half-way mark of what has been an intriguing opening seven fixtures to Season 9 of the W-League. With Melbourne City finally tasting defeat for the first time in their short but decorated history, Canberra United emerging as a force and of course Perth Glory showing their title credentials with an impressive hat-trick of wins leading into the second half of the season.
The opening game of the season proved a perfect curtain raiser, as the doubleheader at nib Stadium saw a bumper crowd witness an enthralling six-goal thriller, with Glory taking all three points in a 4-2 win.
Following a couple of rollercoaster weeks after Round 1, Bobby Despotovki’s side have been gathering momentum week by week with a string of impressive results and performances both at home and away that have seen them positioned in 2nd spot.
Glory’s last three fixtures have showcased the sort of free-flowing and energetic attacking displays expected from the talented forward line, with the team believing they can score with every foray into the opposing half.
Star: Sam Kerr
The Matildas star and Glory captain is back to her dynamic and prolific best following last season’s injury. Kerr wasted no time in marking her return to the pitch with a second-half double helping to seal all three points in Round 1. The skipper’s pace has caused problems all season for opposition defenders, with Kerr adding the final product five times to see her top the Golden Boot charts half-way into the season.
The striker’s goals and general attacking play will be key to continuing Glory’s push towards final as the side work to further prove their title credentials.
Unsung Hero: Nikki Stanton
Whilst the likes of Kerr and Rosie Sutton have been receiving plaudits around the league for their attacking prowess, US import Nikki Stanton has been behind them providing the grit and cover in midfield for the forwards to flourish. Stanton’s work ethic and composed presence in midfield has been vital this season, with the Washington local sweeping up and distributing superbly from deep in midfield.
The 26-year-old’s tough tackling and maturity is another pivotal ingredient in Despotovski’s side and one that deserves more praise.
Young Gun: Gabrielle Dal Busco
Since being thrust into action against Melbourne Victory in Round 5 after Melissa Maizels injury, the 19-year-old has looked at home in between the sticks. In her three appearances so far, the youngster has only conceded once, having kept two clean sheets against Victory and Sydney.
The Australian U20 has had to bide her time at the club but is making the most of her opportunity as Glory’s custodian.
Best Performance: Perth Glory 1-0 Sydney FC
The 1-0 triumph over high-flying Sydney FC was a real statement to the rest of the competition. Not only did Perth grab all three points against the in-form side of the competition at the time, but they did so with such comfort. Glory’s pace, pressing and desire was on full display throughout the crucial match-up, as Kerr’s lone strike was enough to seal a potentially season-defining victory.
Highlight: Caitlin Doeglas’s first A-League goal
At the beginning of the season, the team was asked to outline some of their personal goals for the season, and for teenager Caitlin Doeglas, she was desperate to open her Perth Glory account with a goal. Whilst some goals take months and even years to achieve, Doeglas decided to tick that box within a minute of the first whistle in game one. The number 14’s perfectly placed strike just inside the box ensured a bright start to the match and her season.
With Glory well and truly in the mix to make an impact in the pointy end of the season, the rest of the top 4 sides are all contenders for silverware in Season 9. Canberra United became the first team to defeat Melbourne City in Round 6 with their 2-1 away win cementing their status amongst the W-League’s best teams. Pair that historic win with the 5-1 dismantling of Brisbane the following week and the signing of Matildas great Lisa De Vanna, and Canberra are a real threat.
Whilst recording back-to-back defeats, reigning champions Melbourne City are most definitely strong contenders to repeat last season’s success with the side just one point from top spot.
Fourth-placed Sydney FC has been another outfit making their presence felt in the upper echelon of the league, with their staunch defence and power through midfield proving too much for most sides so far.
With just a solitary point separating first and fourth, the rest of the 2016/2017 is bound to be an exciting narrative, with Glory well and truly in the mix.