Perth Glory's clinical strike force of Rachel Hill and Sam Kerr were the difference between the home team and Western Sydney Wanderers in an absorbing W-League clash at Dorrien Gardens on Saturday evening.
Playing their first home game of the campaign after two successive away trips to Brisbane and Canberra, Glory were forced to reshuffle their starting XI following the suspension of Sarah Carroll after her red card in the match against Canberra.
Coming into the starting XI were teenagers Leticia McKenna and Jenna Onions, but most of the attention of the home crowd was focussed on superstar Sam Kerr.
Glory started the game the better and forcing Wanderers onto the back foot from the start. Kerr and strike partner Hill were swapping roles and making life difficult for the Wanderers defenders.
Alyssa Mautz and Natasha Rigby were also combining well and producing some fine attacking moves down the right-hand side.
In the sixth minute a nasty clash of heads between Kim Carroll and Georgia Yeoman-Dale saw both players requiring treatment and causing a lengthy delay. Yeoman-Dale was forced to leave the pitch and returned with her head heavily bandaged.
Making the most of the temporary player advantage, Glory pressed hard for an opening goal but the Wanderers defence held firm.
In the 13th minute Yeoman-Dale returned to the game and a minute later Glory took the lead through a terrific goal from Hill. Good work from Rigby forced a mistake from the Wanderers defence and the ball ended up with Hill just inside the box. Taking the ball cleanly she unleashed a fabulous strike that finished in the top corner.
The goal seemed to jolt the visitors into action and they started taking the game to the home side, with Yeoman-Dale and Courtney Nevin causing major problems for the Perth full backs. Some great work from Yeoman-Dale saw her feed the ball to Lowe at the top of the box in the 18th minute and Lowe's strike smashed against the bar, much to the relief of the home side.
After 25 minutes Glory were forced to make a change as Carroll was replaced by teenager Isabella Foletta and moved Mautz into centre back.
Wanderers continued to have the upper hand in terms of possession, and shortly after the substitution Eliza Campbell was forced into a smart save by Eric Halloway.
Naughton then gave away a free kick on the edge of the box, and the resulting free kick found its way into the Glory net, only for the referee to disallow it due to the kick being taken too quickly. The re-take saw the ball go high over the bar.
It was somewhat against the run of play that Glory doubled the lead on the 41st minute with Kerr smashing the ball high into the roof of the net following some great work from Hill to win the ball and pass it to her strike partner.
The second half saw the game continue in the same vein as the last 20 minutes of the first half, with Wanderers enjoying most of the possession but not able to create any clear-cut chances.
In the 55th minute Hill sealed the win with another wonder strike. Fine work from Foletta saw Hill receive the ball with her back to goal. A smart turn and shot beat Jada Whyman and Glory were 3-0 up.
Despite being 3-0 down, Wanderers continued to press for their 1st goal of the campaign but were denied by the Glory defence and in particular Naughton and Mautz who both had outstanding games.
After the game, both coaches reflected that the main difference between the teams was their strike forces.
Western Sydney Wanderers coach Daniel Barrett said: “They (Perth) go down the other end and they hurt you."
He felt that once they get their first goal though his team will be much better and they will be able to finish games.
Glory coach Bobby Despotovski felt this was a much harder game than the scoreline suggested, and that having quality strikers helped them at vital times of the game.
“Sammy scored in the 42nd or 43rd minute and that sort of clipped their wings a little bit and secpnd half we wanted that third goal to put the game beyond (them),” he said.
Glory now sit third on the ladder and face Melbourne City at home next Sunday, whilst Western Sydney try to score their first goal against Newcastle Jets on Saturday.