Glory’s Westfield W-League season finished on a frustrating note as Bobby Despotovski's side fell agonisingly short of pulling off an amazing comeback win against Western Sydney at nib Stadium on Sunday night.
After conceding two early goals, Glory mounted an inspired comeback to hit the lead with just 12 minutes left before the Wanderers spoiled the party by scoring twice right at the death to steal a 4-3 win in front of an 1,852-strong crowd.
Glory skipper Sam Kerr netted a brace to finish with 13 goals for the season, while American import Rachel Hill also added another to take her personal tally for the campaign to nine.
The hosts began the match knowing that a win would keep them in contention for a top four spot, pending other results in next weekend’s final round.
But Rachel Lowe handed the Wanderers the best possible start with a long-range strike which had both Glory players and fans in shock before the clock had ticked into the second minute.
Ellie Brush doubled Western Sydney’s lead three minutes later when she swooped on a loose ball which had been spilled by Glory goalkeeper Melissa Maizels during an attempted clearance.
Despite the 2-0 deficit, Glory began to settle as Raquel Rodriguez and Nikki Stanton took control of the midfield.
Amanda Frisbie was also pivotal in defence, closing down Erica Halloway from scoring what looked a certain goal in the 24th minute.
At the other end, meanwhile, a series of saves from Wanderers goalkeeper Jada Mathyssen-Whyman prevented the home side from reducing the deficit.
Mathyssen-Whyman first intercepted a dangerous cross from Shannon May which was bound for a roving Kerr, before inadvertently using her face to block a follow-up shot from Nicola Bolger. She then deflected a low strike from Hill towards Rodriguez, whose attempt hit the upright before finding its way back into the arms of the grateful, if battered and bruised shot-stopper.
Brush went agonisingly close to scoring her second for the night when Maizels failed to cleanly take a searching free kick from Lo’eau LaBonta, but the Glory goalkeeper positioned her body nicely to block the follow-up.
Stanton signalled Glory’s intention to attack in the second half with a powerful strike from outside the box which forced Mathyssen-Whyman to make a diving save to her left less than a minute after the resumption.
Rodriguez followed up minutes later with a close-range attempt which cannoned off the woodwork and away from goal, much to the Glory playmaker’s frustration.
Kerr then struck with her first of the night when she was first played in over the top by Bolger and was gifted an open net when Mathyssen-Whyman mistimed her run at the ball.
The recently-crowned Young Australian of the Year squared the ledger for Glory just past the hour-mark when she linked up neatly with substitute Marianna Tabain and finished in style.
Hill then put Glory ahead in the 77th minute when she was released by a flick-on from Kerr and despite sprinting nearly half the length of the pitch, the American did not miss a beat as she calmly slotted home.
The drama continued apace as referee Casey Reibelt awarded a penalty to the Wanderers when Kim Carroll brought down Lee Falkon on the edge of the box, only for Maizels to pull off a brilliant save to keep out Brush's subsequent spot-kick.
Glory were just moments from pulling off an amazing comeback win, but it was not to be, as in a dramatic finale, a deflected effort from substitute Olivia Price and a 90th-minute strike from Halloway consigned the home team to a heartbreaking defeat.
Perth assistant-coach Jessine Bonzas said it was a disappointing way for the team to end what had been an inconsistent season.
“We’re still proud that they fought back from 2-0 down to get their nose in front, but obviously we just couldn’t finish it off,” she said.
“We went out there and took risks in the second half and scored some good goals, but it wasn’t enough tonight.
“Until that final whistle goes, you’ve got to take care of the game. There are definitely some lessons for us to learn from this.”
Perth Glory 3 (Sam Kerr 51’, 61’, Rachel Hill 78’)
Western Sydney Wanderers 4 (Rachel Lowe 1’, Ellie Brush 4’, Olivia Price 88’, Erica Halloway 90’)
Attendance: 1,852 at nib Stadium
Referee: Casey Reibelt
Assistants: Matthew Southern, Adrien Liechti
Fourth Official: Shane Skinner
PERTH GLORY: 3. Kim CARROLL, 4. Natasha RIGBY, 7. Nicole STANTON, 8. Shawn BILLAM 17. Marianna TABAIN 46’), 9. Rachel HILL, 10. Raquel RODRIGUEZ, 11. Nicola BOLGER (5. Patricia CHARALAMBOUS 62’), 12. Shannon MAY, 16. Amanda FRISBIE, 18. Melissa MAIZELS (GK), 20. Samantha KERR (C)
Substitutes not used: 13. Jaymee GIBBONS, 30. Morgan AQUINO (GK)
Yellow cards: Nicole Stanton 55’, Raquel Rodriguez 86’, Sam Kerr 88’, Kim Carroll 90’+4
Red cards: Nil
WESTERN SYDNEY: 1. Jada MATHYSSEN-WHYMAN (GK), 2. Maruschka WALDUS, 6. Lo’eau LABONTA, 7. Ellie BRUSH, 8. Erica HALLOWAY, 10. Lee FALKON, 11. Marlous PIEETE (13. Olivia PRICE 66’), 12. Rachel LOWE, 15. Talitha KRAMER, 16. Alix ROBERTS, 19. Susan PHONSONGKHAM (5. Kahlia HOGG 88’)
Substitutes not used: 3. Jennifer BISSET, 30. Nicole SIMONSEN (GK)
Yellow cards: Rachel Lowe 50’, Lee Falkon 68’, Maruschka Waldus 80’
Red cards: Nil