A 96th-minute equaliser from Hana Lowry ensured Perth Glory’s unbeaten start to the Liberty A-League season continued, rescuing a point in an entertaining 2-2 draw with Melbourne Victory on Saturday evening.
Lowry fired home the opener in the 24th minute, stepping up and burying an inch-perfect free-kick to give the league leaders the advantage, before two late goals from Rachel Lowe saw Victory take the lead with minutes remaining.
However, the 20-year-old Glory midfielder would have other ideas, sending Macedonia Park into raptures with a last ditch equaliser in one of the games of the campaign so far – ensuring Natasha Rigby’s 100th game didn’t end on a sour note.
Glory are now unbeaten from their opening five games to the season, but the stalemate is their first dropped points, having won each of their opening four games prior to the contest.
Victory – meanwhile – are unbeaten in their last three games and sit three spots further back in fourth place on the ladder for the time being.
Jeff Hopkins’ side started the stronger of the two teams with Jessika Nash hitting the crossbar with a cross-come-shot, before Kurea Okino just fired her effort wide of the goal.
The visitors’ inability to make the most of their fast start came back to bite them, as Millie Farrow won a free-kick on the edge of the area, leading to Lowry firing into the bottom corner from the resulting set piece.
Farrow – who is still looking for her first Glory goal – came within inches of doubling their lead minutes later.
The English attacker got on the end of a lovely ball from Sofia Sakalis, before jagging past Tori Hansen and forcing a stop from Lydia Williams, which had to be helped away from goal by Kayla Morrison – who cleared to safety.
Victory’s defence was under the pump once again to start the second half, as a mistake at the back between Morrison and Hansen, gave Grace Jale an opening – but her effort was saved by Williams.
Minutes later, Victory would have the ball in the back of the net as they began to gain a foothold in the contest once more.
A well weighted corner to the back-post was nodded towards goal by Morrison and flicked to McKenzie Weinert by Hansen, who slammed it into the back of the net, but the flag was up – denying an equaliser.
Glory did well to soak up the pressure and hit Victory with speed on the break, making the most of a quickly taken throw-in, to break down the flank and get the ball to an unmarked Lowry, who was denied by another strong stop from Williams.
Farrow had the chance to double Glory’s lead after being played one-on-one with Williams, but she put her effort just past the post – continuing an agonsing wait for a maiden Perth goal.
Perth’s inability to put Victory away kept the door ajar for Victory and Lowe made them pay.
Ella O’Grady’s shot was deflected into path of Lowe, whose volley took another deflection and rolled into the side of the net to bring the scores level in the 79th minute.
Five minutes later, Lowe would once more find the back of the net with a brilliant left-footed volley from just inside the box, scoring what looked to be the winner.
But with Perth’s last roll of the dice, Lowry got on the end of a lovely bit of teamwork to slam home the equaliser and salvage a point for the home side.
The talking point
We may have just watched an early contender for game of the season in the Liberty A-League.
Two of the competition’s best sides went toe-to-toe in one of the most enthralling contests from the opening four and a bit rounds of the 2023-24 campaign. Perth have been the team on everyone’s lips after the opening month and they showed their worth against one of the competition’s best on Saturday night, in a game they would feel they should have got more out of.
Victory, meanwhile, showed tremendous mettle to get back into the contest, pushing the league leaders to the limit even without Emma Checker, Emily Gielnik and Beattie Goad.
The reverse fixture in Melbourne on January 12 is going to be an absolute corker.
Hana Lowry and Rachel Lowe put on a show for those in attendance at Macedonia Park.
The duo combined to score all four of the goals on Saturday night, putting together two of the best individual performances seen this season. Lowry’s two goals were brilliant for different reasons, the first being a tremendous bit of individual skill, while the second was a class finish after a crisp build-up from her teammates.
Lowe, on the other hand, almost single handedly willed Victory back into the game. Her five minute brace had seemingly won the match for the visitors, scoring two volleys from almost the same spot and with the same foot, although the first did take a deflection.
Both midfielders are a sign of the future in Australia’s midfield stocks. Lowe – an already capped Matilda – has been brilliant since moving to Victory from Sydney FC, now taking her tally to four goals for the season and continues to bang down the door for a recall.
While Lowry is putting forward a case of her own and she’s no stranger to national team football, having been apart of three junior sides.
What this means
Perth remain top heading into the final games of Round 5 on Sunday, but could fall to second on goal difference if Melbourne City win by more than two goals against Newcastle Jets.
Alex Epakis’ side head on the road for only the second time this season, when they take on Wellington Phoenix next Saturday in Auckland.
Victory, meanwhile, sit in fourth on goal difference but could fall down to fifth if Brisbane Roar get a result against Western United on Sunday.
Up next is the high flying Central Coast Mariners at home on Sunday, who are also unbeaten in their last three matches.