Glory downed by controversial late penalty

A controversial penalty consigned Glory to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Adelaide United in Saturday's Westfield W-League season-opener at the Marden Sports Complex.

Full match highlights

Both sides struck the woodwork during a lively contest which was ultimately decided in the 80th minute when referee Georgia Ghirardello adjudged that Glory skipper Natasha Rigby's had fouled Maria Jose Rojas in the box and Emily Condon duly converted the resulting penalty.

The decision and the result were harsh on a new-look Glory side featuring no fewer than seven debutants which more than held its own for long periods and created a string of decent chances.

The best of those fell the way of Gemma Craine who wasted no time whatsoever in adjusting to life in the Westfield W-League as she hit the post with her first sight of goal.

Fellow-debutant Lily Alfeld also caught the eye, producing a world-class save to keep out a first-half shot from Condon, while Glory's three teenage substitutes, Hana Lowry. Tijan McKenna and Abbey Green, all made a positive impression after being introduced during the second half.

While naturally disappointed that his team emerged with nothing tangible to show for their efforts, Head Coach Alex Epakis felt that there was plenty to like about the performance.

"I think we did well in certain periods and both teams had control of the game at different times," he said.

"We created enough chances to get a result, we got in behind them enough to do more with it, so I feel like when we do that, we give ourselves a chance.

"I don't think there was much in it and I felt that we were good for some kind of result.

"The penalty was a bit of sucker-punch at the wrong time in the game.

"Tash [Rigby] is a pretty honest player who would have been the first to put her hand up if she'd got it wrong.

"It looked as if she got the ball... it looked like a fair challenge.

"I thought in the last 15-20 minutes with the fresh players coming on and their ability, that we'd have enough freshness and quality to get  over the line, but it wasn't to be on this occasion.

"Ultimately, we just have to be a little bit more clinical and make sure that the efforts we're having on goal are meaningful.

"If we're better in that area next week, we'll give ourselves a chance and the girls are already dissecting and analysing how we can do what we do better to get a result on Thursday.

"I told the girls after the game that we did ourselves very proud.

"We know that it was a good performance, not a great performance and we are capable of great performances.

"We're very lucky that we have a quick turnaround to help us put that in place in the next match."

The tone was set for a lively first-half as early as the second minute when Craine raced clear of the home defence before rifling in an angled drive which struck the foot of the post and rebounded away to safety.

Despite the scorching conditions, both teams continued to operate at a high tempo as the half wore on, with chances flowing freely at either end.

After Marianna Tabain's free-kick flew just over for Glory, only a stunning fingertip save from Alfeld prevented Emily Condon's from volleying the Reds in front.

Craine, meanwhile, was continuing to torment the United defence and she got in behind again in the 27th minute, this time forcing Sian Fryer-McLaren to save well with her legs after cutting in from the left channel.

The final chance of the opening period fell the way of Adelaide, Alfeld getting down well at the near post to block a well-struck effort from Emily Condon.

It was the South Australians who again looked the more likely during the early exchanges of the second half and they came close to breaking the deadlock twice in as many minutes.

The first effort came from Dylan Holmes, her rasping drive striking the bar before Rigby's well-timed block prevented Mallory Weber from forcing home the rebound and then the dangerous Maria Jose Rojas lifted her shot just over having beaten four defenders during a mazy run into the box.

Glory managed to weather that storm and ease their way back into the contest, only to be undone in unfortunate circumstances with ten minutes left.

Having shown fine close control once again to work her way into the box, Rojas was stopped in her tracks by a challenge from Rigby that was deemed a foul by referee Ghirardello.

The decision prompted prolonged protests from the Glory players, but they fell on deaf ears and Condon eventually stepped up to fire the Reds in front from the spot. 

The visitors managed to regroup and go in search of an equaliser in the dying minutes, however Marianna Tabain's late free-kick was saved by Fryer-Mclaren, leaving Alex Epakis' side to switch their focus to Thursday's meeting with the same opponents at Dorrien Gardens.

Match Details

Adelaide United 1 (Condon (pen) 80') Perth Glory 0

Half-time: 0-0

Marden Sports Complex, Marden

Referee: Georgia Ghirardello

Adelaide United: 1.Sian FRYER-MCLAREN (gk), 2.Emily HODGSON, 3.Matilda McNAMARA, 4.Mallory WEBER, 6.Georgia CAMPAGNALE, 7.María José ROJAS, 8.Emily CONDON, 12.Isabel HODGSON (5.Charlotte GRANT 67'), 16.Dylan HOLMES (c), 19.Maruschka WALDUS, 23.Fiona WORTS (15.Meleri MULLAN 57')

Substitutes not used: 13.Ella TONKIN, 18.Annalee GROVE (gk), 21.Lara KIRKBY

Yellow Cards: McNamara, Hodgson, Condon, Fryer-Mclaren

Red Cards: None

Perth Glory: 1.Lily ALFELD (gk), 3.Gemma CRAINE, 4.Natasha RIGBY, 5.Deborah-Anne DE LA HARPE, 7.Elizabeth ANTON, 9.Malia STEINMETZ, 12.Sarah MORGAN (6.Tijan MCKENNA 58'), 13.Jamie-Lee GALE, 14.Caitlin DOEGLAS (15.Abbey GREEN 65'), 17.Marianna TABAIN, 23.Katarina JUKIC (8.Hana LOWRY 57') 

Substitutes not used: 20.Rebecca BENNETT (gk), 31.Isabella WALLHEAD,

Yellow Cards: De La Harpe, Lowry

Red Cards: None

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