Glory leave comeback too late

Headshot of Justin Fris
Justin FrisSouth Western Times
Saturday night’s loss was an unsuccessful homecoming for Glory’s South West product Natasha Rigby.
Camera IconSaturday night’s loss was an unsuccessful homecoming for Glory’s South West product Natasha Rigby. Credit: Daniel Carson/Getty Images, Daniel Carson

Perth Glory’s W-League season came to a close on Saturday night after falling 3-2 to the Western Sydney Wanderers at the WML Stadium in Bunbury.

Bobby Despotovski’s side were punished for a sluggish opening half hour in which the visitors appeared to have put the result beyond doubt — however a determined second half from the hosts put them within striking distance of salvaging an unlikely point.

With a top four spot on the line, Dean Heffernan’s Wanderers burst out of the traps and subjected Glory goalkeeper Eliza Campbell to some nervy moments as they bossed possession throughout the middle of the park.

And within two and a half minutes, the visitors took the lead through Sam Staab.

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After a tantalising inswinging corner was whipped to the top of the six-yard-box at the city end, Staab reacted first to a hasty clearance off the line by Glory defender Shannon May, and fired a curling effort into the bottom left-hand corner.

It became apparent the Wanderers had been considerable time at their training ground working on set pieces, because they replicated their effort nine minutes later, although this time Kristen Hamilton’s finish was straight out of the top drawer.

The American, who was returning from suspension, cleverly read the telegraphed inswinger and rose above the congested crowd of players to steer her header past Campbell in the top right-hand corner.

Given the classy nature of her finish, it appeared as though the striker had plenty of tricks left in her kitbag.

Sure enough, Hamilton nearly had a brace in the 17th minute after lashing her close-range drive inches wide from the far post, much to the relief of Campbell, as the sheer velocity of the shot would have been impossible to keep out.

But good things come to those who wait and Hamilton made it 3-0 on 27 minutes after nodding home from three yards out.

Following a clumsy tackle from Leticia McKenna on the left flank, Ella Mastrantonio’s silky free-kick glided lovingly into the six-yard-box and before you could blink, Hamilton was mobbed by her teammates, such was the quick yet deadly nature of her glancing header.

Glory, who were second best in possession and appearing to lack creativity in the final third, charged out in the second half a different team, after coming face-to-face with a naturally unhappy Despotovski in the dressing room at half time. Late goals to Celia Jimenez and Morgan Andrews put the home side back in contention to secure an unlikely draw, however the visitors managed to hold firm.

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