W-League mid-season report card: Perth Glory

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Is it that time already? The W-League is at the halfway mark and it’s time to look at Perth Glory’s start to season 2019-20.

Semester Summary

There has been no lack of promise littered throughout the first half of Perth’s season but every time they score goals they seem to concede them as well, leaving Glory winless through the first half of the season.

A favourable fixture meant that the Glory started the season with an away game, a bye, and then three consecutive matches at Dorrien Gardens. They’ve scored in every game at home but have conceded six goals in those three games.

Not once have Perth played the same back four in consecutive games, with only captain Natasha Rigby putting in steady performances, despite being shifted between her natural full-back role and a more central role.

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In attack, Kat Jukic and Caitlin Doeglas have challenged defenders but their ability to get in behind regularly is questionable. New signing Celia Jiminez showed great promise in her two starts, including a goal against Newcastle in her first of those, and an ability to control the tempo of a game in her midfield role.

Perth’s defensive instability could be a factor in a trend that has seen them concede seven of their eight goals this season in the first halves of games. In the grand final rematch against Sydney FC, Glory were two goals down inside six minutes.

Leticia McKenna has been rewarded for good performances with consistent game time and 16-year-old Hana Lowry has excited home fans in all three games in Perth with her high pressing and youthful exuberance late in games.

Area of Excellence

Easily Perth’s deepest stocks are in their midfield. Celia Jiminez has slotted nicely into a group that already contains Morgan Andrews and Shannon May, who has at times sat just in front of the back four.

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McKenna and Lowry are improving with every appearance and Caitlin Doeglas has spent time there as well. Last week against Canberra, a better second half midfield effort was the major factor in the home side turning the game around and leaving with a point.

Area in Need of Improvement

The aforementioned defensive instability has hampered Perth’s ability to defend set pieces, play out from the back and – apparently – defend at all in the first 20 minutes of fixtures.

Rigby aside, most of the defenders have struggled. Arianna Romero, Julia Sardo and Sarah Carroll have all struggled. It was obvious that Carroll’s early yellow card against Canberra made life all the more difficult for her defensive colleagues.

Top Student

Rigby was handed the captaincy after the departure of club legend Sam Kerr at the beginning of the season and has been their stand out player so far. A local favourite from the south west of the state, Rigby has been thrown around the back four this season but continues to be a steadying influence amongst her defensive peers.

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In her preferred role as a right full-back she is fearless in her attack on the ball and has played important roles against opposition wingers – including a solid job on Caitlin Foord. She is the more defensive minded of the two full-backs, a role that has served the club well.

Needs Improvement

While defensive issues have plagued Glory this season, an increased scoring output in the second half of the season will see them pick up some points and Jukic is an important part of that. Jukic has been the primary target for the midfield pushing forward but is rarely able to get in behind and is mostly receiving the ball with her back to goal. Her struggles have heaped the pressure on Doeglas and Crystal Thomas.

Grade: C-

Outlook

Perth certainly haven’t passed the first half of the season but it’s not all bad news, hence the grade. The concession of first half goals is a worrying trend that will need to be reversed in quick time if they’re to work their way back into the season.

The midfield is the major positive and the side has looked better with Shannon May playing a sweeper role in front of the back four. As Celia continues to acclimatise she too will have an impact in the middle of the park.

There are promising signs throughout and it’s easy to see where the goals could come from, it’s just a matter of being more efficient in the front third.

Feature Image Credit: Vision Inspired Photography

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