Women’s Match Review: Wellington Phoenix vs. Perth Glory

A feeling of déjà vu for the Wellington Phoenix in the Liberty A-League.

The Phoenix have been beaten 3-2 by Perth Glory at Wanderers Football Park in Sydney, after letting a 2-1 halftime lead slip for the second time in three matches.

Grace Jale and Chloe Knott scored first half goals to put Wellington in front, but Perth eventually wore them down in the second half, scoring twice in the final quarter of an hour to hand the Phoenix their eighth straight defeat.

Wellington head coach Gemma Lewis was left to rue a missed opportunity for their maiden win.

“It did feel like we had the win in us this time around,” Lewis told media after the match.

“Again we got into that mindset of defending the win, rather than playing, rather than sticking to our own game. You can’t spend 45 minutes trying to defend a 2-1 lead.”

Lewis felt her players started to panic when they were in front, like they did when they were up 2-0 against Brisbane earlier this month.

“We’ve seen us do it in the past so it’s frustrating that we’re not learning from that and realising we can’t let opposition dictate especially when we’re leading and having good positive moments in the game.

“If we stuck to our gameplan and focused on us rather than focussed on defending the lead I think we would have taken the sting back out of it and controlled the game a bit more.

“It’s something we’ve going to have to address and something we’re going to have to work out how to move through because we want to be leading in games, we want to be winning and we want that not to be a terrifying aspect for us.”

Gemma Lewis made two changes to her starting XI, with fit-again centre back Mackenzie Barry and midfielder Hannah Jones replacing Te Reremoana Walker and Isabel Gomez.

Walker, Gomez and Jordan Jasnos were dropped for disciplinary reasons.

“They weren’t putting the team first or behaving in the way of a professional athlete in terms of the choices they were making,” Lewis said.

“They had to be accountable for their actions and now they’ve learned from it and we’re all going to move on.”

It was Jones’ first start for the Phoenix and she had the first opportunity of the match when she won possession on the edge of the Perth box in the eighth minute but unfortunately wasn’t able to test Morgan Aquino in the Glory goal.

Instead it was Perth who took the lead in the 14th minute when Sofia Sakalis’ shot deflected off Wellington defender Kate Taylor and past the outstretched right hand of Lily Alfeld.

The Phoenix responded well to going a goal down and didn’t have to wait long for their equaliser. Alyssa Whinham slid an inch-perfect ball through for Jale, who managed to beat Aquino with a first-time effort.

Whinham almost turned provider for a second time before the half hour mark, when she won possession on the edge of the Glory area and found Jones, who’s first-time shot went straight into Aquino’s arms.

Wellington continued to look the more dangerous of the two sides with Knott volleying over the Perth goal after getting on the flick-on header from Jale in the 32nd minute.

Knott then put the Phoenix ahead a handful of minutes before the break when she forced a mistake from Aquino and then calmly steered the ball past the Glory ‘keeper to give Wellington just their second halftime lead of the season.

Perth controlled play at the start of the second-half but Barry and Kate Taylor marshalled the Wellington defence well and Lily Alfeld was untroubled until the 80th minute, when she tipped a Glory corner on to the bar.

Alfeld was unable to stop Perth from equalising moments later however when substitute Cyera Hintzen headed into the Phoenix net from another Glory corner.

A set piece was Wellington’s undoing for the match-winner too, with Dane Mie Leth Jans guiding the ball home from a Perth free-kick.

The Phoenix continued to push bodies forward and scholarship player Charlotte Lancaster came on for her A-League debut, but they unable to beat Morgan Aquino for a third time.

The Wellington Phoenix have little time to dwell on the defeat, with their next Liberty A-League match against reigning champions Melbourne Victory at WIN Stadium on Friday night.

Wellington Phoenix:
1. Lily ALFELD (gk) (c), 3. Kate TAYLOR, 4. Mackenzie BARRY, 7. Chloe KNOTT, 8. Grace WISNEWSKI, 9. Ava PRITCHARD (19 Charlotte LANCASTER 89th), 10. Grace JALE, 15. Zoe MCMEEKEN, 16. Hannah JONES (6. Isabel GOMEZ 66th), 17. Talitha KRAMER, 20. Alyssa WHINHAM (2. Saskia VOSPER 78th)
Unused substitutes: 12. Brianna EDWARDS (gk), 18. Annabel MARTIN

Perth Glory: Morgan AQUINO (gk), 3. Kim CARROLL, 4. Natasha RIGBY (c), 5. Deborah-Anne DE LA HARPE, 7. Liz ANTON, 8. Hana LOWRY, 11. Lisa DE VANNA (13. Sarah CAIN 75th), 12. Sofia SAKALIS (24. Gemma CRAINE 46th 9. Demi KOULIZAKIS 75th), 17. Abbey GREEN (15. Cyera HINTZEN 59th), 18. Sadie LAWRENCE, 26. Mie LETH JANS
Unused substitutes: 20. Courtney NEWBON (gk)

12. Sofia SAKALIS (Perth Glory) – 14th
10. Grace JALE (Wellington Phoenix) – 20th
7. Chloe KNOTT (Wellington Phoenix) – 39th
15. Cyera HINTZEN (Perth Glory) – 80th26. Mie LETH JANS (Perth Glory) – 89th

26. Mie LETH JANS (Perth Glory) – yellow – 36th
16. Hannah JONES (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 45th
15. Cyera HINTZEN (Perth Glory) – yellow – 90+3