Western United celebrating a goal. (Photo: Keep Up/ A League)

Western United started 2023 off with a bang after a nail biting win over Perth Glory at Macedonia Park, keeping their unbeaten streak alive.

After being behind for most of the match, a power surge in the last 15 minutes of the second half saw the visitors get on top.

Much like the match last week against City, Western United continued to build on the counter attack but ultimately came unstuck early in the first half, with a press from Glory in the visitors defence saw an unmarked Rylee Baisden getting her first goal on return for the Glory. 

Despite the goal within the first 10 minutes of the match, the visitors weren’t worried with coach Mark Torcaso saying post match that they knew Perth were going to come out firing. 

“Not really rattled, we expected Perth to come at us,” Torcaso said. 

“We know that they are a good side, they’ve got a few individuals that I know from Victoria as well that can perform but all around the park they’re really good too. 

“It wasn’t a shock as well, we just had to be ready for whatever it was going to be if it was us scoring first or them then just keep staying in the game.”  

Glory continued to look lively when in and around the 18 yard box with Cyera Hintzen getting a chance in front of goal before a save by United’s Julia Sardo saw Perth get the corner kick but ultimately couldn’t convert.  

The equaliser came through a corner shot, with Western United continuing their strong form from set kicks with a corner seeing Hannah Keane equalising the score, with Torcaso speaking on the internationals importance to this Western United side post match. 

“Hannah Keane is a special player, she’s obviously got a lot of European experience, I’ve known Hannah for 8 years. We tried to get her into this team straight away, she was one of our first signings.

“Hannah is critical for our side, she’s quick, she’s powerful, she’s big, she’s got a fantastic shot on her and causes defence lots of problems so i knew she was going to be a fantastic player for this league.  

There were a flurry of attempts from Western United to claim the lead, with the crossbar getting a lot of work. Between a few wayward shots and the work of Perth Glory keeper Sarah Langman saw the ball end up in the hands of the home side. 

The end of the first half provided plenty of heat with a no call after Hillary Beall stopped an almost certain goal from Sofia Sakalis after a pinpoint perfect pass from Baisden.

 Then came a clash of legs with Beall taking out Hintzen which left the Glory camp up in arms, with the home team calling for a red card against the Western United goalkeeper, with Beall instead receiving a yellow. 

The Glory kept pressing to open the second half with the home side coming in with the lead through Hana Lowry for her first goal of the season after a superb pass from Ella Mastrantonio. 

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Much like she did a few weeks ago against Melbourne City, Chloe Logarzo was subbed on around the 60 minute mark as she continues her rehabilitation over an ACL injury. Logarzo was able to kick the equaliser to give her side momentum going into the pointy end of the match. 

Torcaso said that while Logarzo is just about ready to play full 90 minute blocks, they’ll keep building as she eyes off the Women’s World Cup later on this year.

“She’s building towards the minutes for the world cup, she probably wanted to start today but she’s got a few more weeks to make sure she’s ready for 90 minute games. 

“She was ready today but we’re looking after her but we also haven’t lost a game so we owe the players that are doing the job and they’re performing now. 

“Chloe is a fighter and also understands where she’s at, she’s bought into this club and she’s really driven by making sure she’s ready for the world cup and she’s fully supportive of our staff and what we’re doing so she’s not jumping to be ready for next week or the week after she focuses on each week as well.” 

“She’s going to be really good when she plays 90 minutes and hopefully ready for the world cup and back to the US.”

United kept pushing and applying plenty of pressure on the Glory defence and while Glory were able to maintain the United wave for some time, a penalty kick from Alana Cerne allowed Hannah Keane to pounce, sending the ball into the net which resulted in an own goal from Demi Koulizakis which sealed the match. . 

Speaking post match, Perth Glory coach Alex Epakis was disappointed to come away empty handed despite a strong performance for most of the game. 

“It’s disappointing not to get something at least, I thought some players individually had some really good games, maybe the best of their seasons for some of them but it’s just these moments in the contest that are hurting us where it just doesn’t go our way.

“ Overall they got a certain style of play and we tried to compete and we did really well at times and that’s why it’s sort of disappointing not to walk away with nothing.” 

With Epakis highlighting a few of his players that made a real impact in Sunday’s match which made the result sting just that little bit more. 

“Sofia Sakalis is really growing into that position out wide, she’s getting through 90 minute blocks, Cyera Hintzen, Ella Mastrantonio put in a really good shift today. 

“I’d say there was eight or nine really good players who put their hand up and gave  a fantastic account of themselves and that’s why it hurt.” 

Despite a fast start, kicking the opening goal within the first 10 minutes of the match Glory will focus on stringing together a full 90 minute performance over the coming weeks. 

“We had a really good start it’s been good we’ve had a consistent start for the last sort of two games now and it’s good to watch to be on the front foot, just really puts them on the back foot and it just creates some momentum but we also want to finish strong and play strong for the 90.

 “So I was impressed with the start but we’ve just got to continue to do more to make sure that’s a 90 minute performance.” 

Western United will face Wellington Phoenix on Saturday at City Vista Reserve in Melbourne’s West while Perth Glory will head to Melbourne to face Victory at AAMI Park on Friday. 

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