Phonsongkham strikes again as Glory return to Liberty A-League summit in win over Jets

Perth Glory v Newcastle Jets – Extended Highlights | Liberty A-League 2023-24 | Round 02

Perth Glory attacker Susan Phonsongkham has continued her red-hot start to the 2023-24 season, scoring the solitary goal in a 1-0 win over Newcastle Jets to send her side back to the top of the table.

Perth began the weekend in top spot after the opening round of the campaign, and retained their position at the end of Round 2 thanks to Phonsongkham’s match-winner in the 50th minute, buried into the bottom-left corner to seal all three points in a tightly-contested matchup at HBF Park.

Phonsongkham has scored in back-to-back wins for Perth, with Alex Epakis’ side joining both Brisbane Roar and Melbourne City on six points from a possible six to start the new campaign.

After victory over Western United in Round 1, Epakis named an unchanged Glory lineup to take on the Jets. Striker Millie Farrow is yet to score for Perth but almost broke her duck early doors, attempting to latch onto a lofted through pass into the box from Georgia Cassidy that just evaded her sliding touch.

Newcastle arrived in Perth after an opening-round win over Central Coast decided by Melina Ayres’ late goal and it was the star recruit once again looking the most dangerous for the visitors against Perth. Ayres had the best chance of the first half for the Jets, getting ahead of Glory keeper Morgan Aquino in a 50-50 on the edge of the area before firing her shot just wide of the post.

Phonsongkham and Farrow continued their dangerous link-up late in the first half but neither of Glory’s dangerous attackers managed to find the breakthrough in the first 45.

Soon after half-time, that combination reaped rewards for Perth when Farrow received a through pass in behind the Jets defence, cutting past her marker and putting the ball on a plate for Phonsongkham to strike first time into the bottom-left corner.

Buoyed by the opening goal, Glory upped the ante and Farrow became increasingly dangerous as a result.

In the 61st minute, Sofia Sakalis played the English striker in behind but Izzy Nino was quick off her line to quell the danger. Just moments later another opportunity fell Farrow’s way and this time she directed a first-time shot on target from Phonsongkham’s cross – but a crucial touch off a Jets defender sent the ball spinning around the post and out for a corner.

The game lost its spark late on, with Glory reducing their attacking impetus in favour of defensive solidity. Philippines international Quinley Quezada came off the bench to make her Glory debut as the hosts managed to see off the Jets in front of more than 1,400 fans at HBF Park.

The talking point

Two wins from two and top of the table: Perth Glory are absolutely flying at the start of the new Liberty A-League season. Glory are one of three teams with six points from a possible six after two weeks – but Epakis’ side is the only team in the league yet to concede a goal.

It’s unfamiliar territory for Perth – a club yet to return to the finals since the 2018-19 season – Sam Kerr’s last for the club in the Liberty A-League. Epakis has been tasked with overhauling the squad and setting the club on a new path for the bulk of the years that followed and he appears to have struck the right balance in the squad this season – but can Glory continue to set the pace in 2023-24?

The star

Susan Phonsongkham has done it again. Two goals in as many games, both plucked from the top drawer, both pivotal in wins for Glory. The dynamic midfielder is enjoying a brilliant start to the new campaign; on this week’s episode of Dub Zone, former Sydney FC midfielder Teresa Polias praised Phonsongkham for finding consistency early doors.

“She has always been a technician and the only thing with Susan has been her consistency and continuity,” Polias said. “She’s had a few injury setbacks over the years, last season she had a great run and it’s obviously continued through NPL and pre-season for Perth – and now it’s paying off.”

What this means

Both teams have a long time to ponder this result with the international break drawing the season to a halt until Novermber 4. For the Jets, head coach Gary van Egmond won’t be discouraged by his side’s showing on the road; the Jets fell to an in-form Perth with the only difference being a touch of class from Phonsongkham that decided the contest in Perth’s favour.

The Jets return home in Round 3 to face the out-of-form Western Sydney who are planted to the foot of the table having lost two games, conceding five goals and scoring zero.

For Perth, it’s off to the international break knowing top spot is theirs for the next fortnight. Perth have benefited from a pair of home games to start the season but travel to face Canberra United in Round 3.