Perth Glory end Canberra hoodoo in front of record regular-season crowd in the capital

Canberra United v Perth Glory - Highlights | Liberty A-League 2023-23 | Round 03

Perth Glory continued their perfect start to the Liberty A-League season after overcoming Canberra United 3-2 in a classic at McKellar Park.

A second-half penalty from Sofia Sakalis proved to be the winner for Perth after a barnstorming first half saw four goals scored in front of a packed out crowd of 2,229 spectators on Saturday.

Glory skipper Natasha Rigby opened the scoring before Cannon Clough equalised, as Perth were pegged back before the break after Grace Jale had earlier found the back of the net against her old side.

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Canberra were playing on home soil for the first time in the Liberty A-League this season but they were certainly under pressure from the outset.

Glory midfielder Hannah Lowry thought she’d opened the scoring in the 11th minute but her fierce shot from inside the six-yard box was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Canberra goalkeeper Chloe Lincoln.

However, the Young Matildas shot-stopper was beaten soon after, only able to parry Rigby’s header into the net after the Perth skipper stole a march on her marker to find space at the far post.

That header though proved to be the spark Njegosh Popovic’s side needed. The home team steadily grew into the game and were level just four minutes later.

Mary Stanic-Floody whipped a dangerous ball into the near post from a corner where it was met by a thumping header from defender Cannon Clough, who made it all square in the 16th minute.

Canberra were in the ascendency as Perth’s early press had worn off but against the run of play it was Alex Epakis’ side who regained the lead.

Englishwoman Millie Farrow shaped to shoot on the edge of the box before threading an inch-perfect pass into the path of Jale, who slotted the ball home from 12-yards out to punish her former side.

But just four minutes later, Canberra restored parity once more. Maria Rojas twisted and turned inside the box and was brought down by Glory’s Claudia Mihocic, with the in-form Vesna Milivojevic coolly slotting home the spot-kick for her third goal of the season.

Shortly after the break Perth took the lead for a third time in the game. Canberra’s Alex McKenzie was adjudged to have fouled Sakalis inside the box, who then tucked home the resulting penalty despite the best efforts of Chloe Lincoln.

Substitute Deven Jackson then thought she’d snatched a point for the home side but her dipping volley from outside the box could only find the crossbar as Perth held on for their third-straight win.

The talking point

Perth came into this fixture having won just three times in their previous 27 meetings against Canberra and had never won in the nation’s capital.

However, in what was their 14th attempt at securing victory at McKellar Park, former Canberra assistant Alex Epakis masterminded the win to break the hoodoo.

The star

Grace Jale is certainly proving to be one of the signings of the season in the Liberty A-League.

The New Zealand international proved too much to handle for her former side as she notched her second goal in three games since joining the Glory.

But it’s not just Jale’s goalscoring antics that stood out in this game, the 24-year-old created more chances than any other player on the pitch and dovetailed beautifully with teammate Millie Farrow as their attacking partnership continues to blossom.

What it means

Perth Glory are absolutely flying this season. That 3-2 win means they’re now sat at the top of the ladder having won all three of their games so far.

Not only have they earned their first ever win in the nation’s capital, they’ve also now secured back-to-back wins over Canberra for the first time in competition history and Epakis’ side welcome a struggling Adelaide United to Western Australia in Round Four.

As for Canberra, Popovich’s team are simply leaking too many goals, having conceded nine so far as they search for their first win of the season.