A Sam Kerr penalty has helped Perth Glory return to the top of the W-League ladder with a 1-0 win against Canberra United.
Historically, the game between these two teams have been full of goals, but this clash at Dorrien Gardens on Thursday bucked the trend, with both teams struggling to create clear-cut chances.
Playing the first game of the New Year at home, Glory were keen to rebound after their first loss of the season against Melbourne Victory while Canberra were also desperate for the points to keep their season alive and were not prepared to make life easy for the home team.
The first half was a cagey affair, with both sides playing counter-attacking football and this meant there were few real clear-cut chances in the first half. One of the best fell to Glory’s Young Matilda, Leticia McKenna, whose rising shot from outside the box was superbly saved by Canberra’s Sham Khamis who tipped the ball over the bar.
The attacking trio of Kerr, Rachel Hill and Alyssa Mautz were being well handled by the Canberra defence with Scottish Captain Rachel Corsie making some crucial tackles to thwart the leagues highest scoring team.
The cool conditions allowed for some high tempo football, and the home side came out firing for the second half.
Hill was prominent early after the restart and came close to opening the scoring with an attempted lob over Khamis, but the ball hit the side of the net rather than the back of it.
Canberra then started to dominate the game, with attempts by Nikki Flannery and Ash Sykes requiring two brilliant saves from Eliza Campbell to keep the visitors scoreless.
The game was settled in the 85th minute when Kerr was fouled in the box by Karly Roestbakken. Referee Casey Reibelt pointed to the spot, and the resultant penalty was slotted away to seal the points for Glory.
Canberra’s coach, Heather Garriock was not at all happy with the penalty decision after the game.
“It’s certainly not a penalty,” she said.
Perth Glory coach Bobby Despotovski had a slightly different opinion.
“I thought Sammy pushed the ball (wide), she (Roestbakken) didn’t touch the ball she took her (Kerr’s) legs out and that’s what it is."
He also revealed that Kerr was in doubt of playing right up until kick-off due to illness during the week.
“Sammy wasn’t at her best today because she was sick all week, and actually until this afternoon, she wasn’t playing. She’s our captain (and) she wanted to play so we gave her every opportunity to the last minute to prove her fitness which she did, but at the end of the day you could see she wasn’t at 100%, but that was good enough for us.”