Sunday is set to be an historic day for Perth Glory Football Club, as they contend their second Westfield W-League Grand Final against reigning champions Melbourne City FC.
Perth head into the Westfield W-League Season 9 Grand Final on Sunday full of confidence after their 5-1 battering of a star-studded Sydney FC side. Glory have regained form in the last fortnight to ensure they go into the big dance primed and ready to claim their first ever championship.
The semi-final was a fantastic professional performance by Bobby Despotovski's team, as they soaked up the attacking pressure from Sydney with such composure and made the most of their late chances to seal an impressive victory and Grand Final berth.
Captain Samantha Kerr's tireless running and hold-up play in the final third allowed players such as Rosie Sutton and Vanessa DiBernardo more opportunities to attack and eventually strike.
Glory's Grand Final opponents, Melbourne City, experienced a more gruelling battle in their semi-final against this season's premiers Canberra United. The sides couldn't be split after 90 minutes, but talisman Jess Fishlock broke the deadlock with a timed volley to seal a 1-0 win in extra-time.
Whilst City boast experience and more internationally recognised stars, Glory have the all important home advantage and superior form. As Despotovski noted last week, fitness will be the key in the finals campaign, something his side showed in spades last weekend.
This Grand Final is sure to be one for the ages, with two entertaining and attack-minded teams full of goals going head-to-head for the second time this season. You don't want to miss this one.
Key Players: Sam Kerr v Jess Fishlock
The respective stars of the two Grand Final teams. Between the two they boast an astounding 133 international caps (Kerr 46 for Australia; Fishlock 87 for Wales) and have had standout seasons again this campaign. It was recently announced that their peers had voted them into the PFA Team of the Season, with Kerr captaining the side. Despite both sides fielding an array of great players on Sunday, you can't help but think these two could decide who will be crowned champions.
Star: Vanessa DiBernardo
With Kerr attracting all the attention from the Sydney defence last week, DiBernardo took on the role of playmaker and goalscorer in the semi-final rout. The American's brace proved pivotal, with her second strike a sublime volley that had Sydney keeper Claire Coelho rooted to the spot in disbelief. The midfielder's work rate and eye for goal will again be crucial to Perth's chances this Sunday at nib Stadium.
Last Time We Met: Melbourne City 2-3 Perth Glory
The last time these two sides met, Perth's dramatic 3-2 Round 8 win was touted as the game of the season. This match proved a watershed moment in Glory's sensational season, with Despotovksi's troops proving they could mix it with the best and beat them on their own turf; showing the league Perth Glory meant business. The enthralling end-to-end encounter saw Glory come from 2-1 down to seal a late victory courtesy of Kerr's unworldly lobbed shot over Lydia Williams in the 85th minute. If this five-goal thriller is anything to go by, Sunday's Grand Final at nib Stadium is going to be a captivating match-up filled with twists and turns.
Westfied W-League Grand Final
Perth Glory v Melbourne City
Venue: nib Stadium
Kick-Off: 4:30 (AWST) 7:30PM (AEST)
Perth Glory Squad: 1.Melissa MAIZELS (gk), 2.Sarah CARROLL, 3.Kim CARROLL, 4.Alyssa MAUTZ, 5.Patricia CHARALAMBOUS, 6.Carla BENNETT, 7.Nicole STANTON, 8.Shawn BILLAM, 9.Rosie SUTTON, 10.Vanessa DIBERNARDO, 13.Jaymee GIBBONS, 14.Caitlin DOEGLAS, 17.Natasha RIGBY, 18.Gabrielle DAL BUSCO (gk), 20.Samantha KERR (c), 22.Arianna ROMERO.
Melbourne City Squad: 1.Lydia WILLIAMS (gk), 2.Teigen ALLEN, 3.Lauren BARNES, 5.Laura ALLEWAY, 6.Aivi LUIK, 7.Steph CATLEY (c), 10.Jessica FISHLOCK, 11.Erika TYMRAK, 12.Olivia ELLIS, 13.Rebekah STOTT, 14.Melina AYRES, 15.Amy JACKSON, 16.Beverly YANEZ, 17.Marianna TABAIN, 18.Jacynta GALABADAARACHCHI, 19.Tyla-Jay VLAJNIC, 20.Emily SHIELDS (gk) **two to be omitted**
Ins: 12.Olivia ELLIS, 18.Jacynta GALABADAARACHCHI (promoted)
Unavailable: 9.Larissa CRUMMER (foot - season)
Referee: Kate Jacewicz
Assistant Referees: Sarah Ho & Allyson Flynn
Fourth Official: Danielle Anderson
Additional Assistant Referees: Rebecca Durcau & Lara Lee