19/04/2024

Rylee Baisden suffered a horrific injury in Perth's 1-1 draw against Melbourne Victory (Image: Liberty A-League - Twitter)

Substitute Alana Jancevski was just inches away from willing Perth to an upset win over Melbourne Victory. A remarkable 89th-minute save from Casey Dumont ensured the points were shared at AAMI park.

Glory had their best performance of the season in the draw against the reigning champions, however, the result couldn’t help but be overshadowed by a horrific injury to Perth midfielder Rylee Baisden. The American import starred in the first half before falling to the ground in the 57th minute trying to pressure the Victory defenders.

Baisden appeared to be in agony from the moment she went down and had to be stretchered from the field. Clutching at her left knee, her screams echoed against the empty seats of the stadium and head coach Alex Epakis was visibly upset when speaking about it post-match.

“It doesn’t look good, which was obvious from the reaction,” Epakis said.

“It’s very heartbreaking and, you know, you just forget about the game for that moment.

“I don’t know 100% yet. We’ve just got to remain hopeful, but it doesn’t look great.”

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The game stopped for what felt like an eternity as teammates and opposition alike paced around in distress. An empty AAMI park fell eerily quiet as first responders worked quickly to carefully stretcher Baisden from the field for further care.

1-0 down, and dealing with the loss of their most influential player, Perth would’ve been forgiven for the narrow defeat. However, in a show of defiance, Glory players steeled themselves and went on the offensive for the final half hour.

Jancevski was the replacement for Baisden, coming to the field with big boots to fill. She lit a spark in the visiting side’s attacking phases and looked dangerous whenever the ball was at her feet.

The relentless pressure and forward drive inevitably paid off. In the 74th minute, Jancevski beautifully controlled a well-weighted lob ball from Ella Mastrantonio in the box and fired a shot past the outstretched hands of Casey Dumont to level the scores.

She very nearly scored in the dying stages of the game to give Perth the win, but couldn’t beat Victory’s ‘keeper a second time. The 19-year-old was previously in Victory’s youth setup before crossing the Nullarbor to make a name for herself in Perth, Epakis hinted there may have been a personal touch to that goal.

“It means a lot to her because she was here for such a long time,” he said.

“When you’ve got a point to prove, it really does mean a lot.”

It was a determined performance from Perth, who were coming off back-to-back defeats against Melbourne City and Western United. Being able to take points off Victory will feel just as good as a win in the circumstances of the game.

Glory has had an inconsistent start to the 2022/23 campaign and sits in eighth on the table at full-time of their game. They’ll be hoping to build on Friday night’s performance in nine days when they host bottom-placed Wellington to create momentum into the back half of the season.

When asked what impressed him the most from the performance, Epakis had no hesitation in crediting his team’s resilience.

“We had that quick little drink break just when she was getting treatment,” he said.

“The players looked shocked and they were incredibly upset.

“I just said to them ‘as best we can, we’ve just got to stay focused for the next 25 minutes and try do something for Rylee’.”

Victory face rivals Melbourne City next week in the Women’s Melbourne Derby, the top of the table clash is set to test the capabilities of both title challengers. While Perth will enjoy a leisurely nine-day break before looking to continue their momentum against lowly Wellington.

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