Epakis: Glory going “all in” on ALW season

Perth Glory coach Alex Epakis says that his young side will go “all in” on ending the club’s three-year absence from A-League Women’s playoffs across the second half of their campaign. 

For the second straight season, Glory was able to come to AAMI Park and take something off two-time defending champions Melbourne Victory on Friday afternoon; Alana Jancevksi’s well-taken 74th-minute strike enough to erase Paige Zois’ 26th-minute pearler and secure a 1-1 draw. 

With just a solitary win to their names heading into the encounter, any realistic hopes that Glory had of playing finals football were on the line in that contest, with the gap between them and the finals places to have grown to at least ten points had they lost. 

While three points, of course, would have been better, the draw at least kept them to within seven points of fourth-placed Victory, although that gap to the playoff spots could increase to nine if Adelaide can defeat Canberra United on Saturday evening. 

Alana Jancevski brings Perth level with Victory
Image Credit: 10Play

Nonetheless, Glory’s quest to end there absence from the finals – Sam Kerr on their books the last time they reached that point – retains a pulse. 

“We knew we had to go all in today, and we were very clear about that throughout the week – that we needed a result,” said Epakis. “Just to keep us in the finals hunt. 

“I think that that performance today was a very resilient, front-foot-based performance. As far as I was concerned, I thought we dominated the chances, we looked really good. I’m really proud. 

“It’s just unfortunate that we don’t have more points to show for it but it’s a really big step in the right direction.”

The coach also praised the work of Jancevksi, who is in her second season out West after being recruited from Victoria. Last offseason, she was a standout for FC Bulleen Lions in Victoria’s NPLW competition, playing alongside Victory’s goalscorer Zois. 

“[The goal] means a lot to her, because she was here for a long time,” he said. “When you’ve got a point to prove, I know that means a lot. That little flashpoint just shows how good she can be in moments. 

“She has some serious technical quality, and we just need to grow that further and make sure that it’s happening at the right moments.

“And continue to grow her physical and mental side of the game. I love coaching her, she’s a joy to work with and I think she will continue to progress in a positive direction as well.” 

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Glory will now return to Perth and enjoy an extended break before they host Wellington Phoenix in the first ALW distance derby on Jan. 15, before then returning to the East coast six days later to take on Sydney FC.

Beyond giving extra time for any niggling injuries to heal and for players to bring themselves back up to full fitness, Epakis is also hoping to use this brief sabbatical to refresh his player’s mentalities, as well as potentially get in some reinforcements. 

“To have an opportunity to reflect and recap on where we’re at and then really attack the next half of the season will be good,” he said. “We need to freshen up the minds and the bodies now. 

“We’ve tried to be really active with the guest marquee, but we keep getting knocked back by the decision makers [APL]. We’re active and we’ll strengthen where possible. 

“We’ve got to attack the second half now. We’ve been proud of our performances in the first half of the season but we just didn’t have enough to show for it. 

“Now that we had that opportunity to refresh and re-stock, we now know that for the second half of the season, we’re all in every game. 

“That’s the message we’ve got internally. We know that we’re capable of some really important results and performances like [against Victory], we’ve just need to mirror that every day of every week and we’ll get the points we need.”

Unfortunately for Glory, the rest of their season will almost certainly be undertaken without Rylee Baisden after the American suffered what appeared to be a severe knee injury during the second half of Friday’s draw. 

Screaming in pain as she fell to the turf after challenging Victory captain Kayla Morrison for the ball, the 28-year-old was taken off on a stretcher with her head in her hands after the incident.

Morrison, who herself tore an ACL at the very same end of the AAMI Park pitch that Baisden went down on, and several other players were moved to tears. 

“It doesn’t look good. Obviously from the reaction, it’s heartbreaking. You forget about the game at that moment,” said Epakis. 

“We’ve just got to remain hopeful. But it doesn’t look great.”

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Header Image Credit: 10Play


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