Vidošić: dogged Glory to present a challenge to City

After watching them stage a valiant rearguard action to hold off Adelaide United, Melbourne City A-League Women coach Rado Vidošić is under no illusions about the fight Perth Glory will put up when they face off this Sunday. 

Needing a win to ensure they kept pace with the race for the ALW’s top four, Glory grabbed an early goal against the Reds in their clash on Thursday evening and then promptly dug in: holding off their finals’ rivals for the remainder of the 84 minutes to record a 1-0 win. 

It wasn’t without its controversy, Adelaide denied a goal for an offside that may or may not have actually existed, but coach Alex Epakis’ young side was nonetheless able to persevere despite being outshot 14 to seven (six on target to one) and losing Susan Phonsongkham to a red card just beyond the hour mark. 

It continued a remarkable season for Glory, who went without a win last season but are now undefeated in their last five games and in the thick of a finals push despite being forced to relocate to the East coast thanks to West Australia’s border rules.  

Of course, there’s nothing like a bit of adversity to bring a side together, and Vidošić said that the unity the Glory group held was obvious.

“I was reading what Alex said about tough conditions; being away from family, loved ones and friends,” the City coach said. “I think that situation has really galvanized them as a unit. They’ve been together for a long time now. They’ve got to learn about each other inside and out. 

“I think you can see the camaraderie. The never say die attitude and the fighting spirit that they produced against Adelaide was exceptional. Even when they were a player down you could hardly say they were handicapped. I think their effort was unbelievable.”

Having had hardly any time to prepare for his first season in the West in 2020-21, Epakis got to work early during the last offseason in assembling his squad: dipping into East coast NPLW competitions for talent that had been on the fringes but hadn’t been able to quite make the breakthrough at senior level. 

This included a couple of players that had spent time in and around the City setup in years gone: Sarah Cain and Sofia Sakalis.

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“One player that stood out for me [against Adelaide] was Sarah Cain,” said Vidošić. “She was with us last season and to see her so dominant, it was really good to see her improvement under Alex. 

“We know [Cain, Sakalis]. We know they are good players. Maybe they needed a bit of time to establish themselves and probably the environment they are in now and being away from the distractions of everyday life, I think that is helping them as well. 

“They may have some difficulties in that environment but from [Glory’s] performances you can see how united they are. You can hear them talking to each other throughout the whole game. The communication and encouragement, I think that was excellent.”

Vidošić’s side will enter Sunday’s contest sitting second on the ALW table, three points clear of a trailing pack of Adelaide, Melbourne Victory, and Glory with a game in hand. 

Welcoming Holly McNamara back to the side after the young attacker was a part of the Matildas’ Asian Cup campaign, the Citizens recorded a 2-1 win over Western Sydney Wanderers – making it a happy celebration of goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri’s 25-years as a professional – but will soon be forced to say goodbye to more players on international duty: striker Hannah Wilkinson and defensive and midfield utility Rebekah Stott set to jet off to join the New Zealand national team in the She Believes Cup. 

With the Matildas set to sit out the looming international window, however, City will not be losing the likes of McNamara, Winonah Heatley, or Emma Checker in the coming international window. 

And depending on how Sunday plays out, Vidošić said he may even begin to prepare his side for the absence of Wilkinson and Stott.  

“If there is a result that goes either in our favour or in their favour and it’s unreachable either for us or for them then obviously you need to consider [experimenting],” he said. “But as long as the game is in the balance then we need to do our best. 

“Because this is a very important game for us and them. There are fewer games remaining and every result is important. We’ll see how the game goes and make those decisions on the run. 

“[Finals don’t enter his thinking] until you’ve got no mathematical ways of missing out. As long as there are enough games to and for someone to win and you find yourself below the line. 

“But as long as we are above the line and the situation is in our hands, we are quite comfortable that we should qualify for the top four and also for the top two.”

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Header Image Credit: Melbourne City

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