Western United takes on Perth Glory for the second time in this Liberty A-League Women season with Kat Smith leading the team in her first home match in charge.
Liberty A-League Women Round 9
Western United vs Perth Glory
Friday, 22 December
Kick-off: 5:00pm AEDT
City Vista Pavilion and Sports Field, Fraser Rise
Broadcast: The match will be broadcast live and free on 10Play, and on Paramount+
Smith has named an extended squad that she hopes will put on a show for the fans in her first home fixture as Western United boss.
After one win and one defeat in her first two games, Smith has picked a similar looking squad as she continues to build on her work with the side.
United will again be without Kahli Johnson for this clash, the second straight game that she will miss after picking up a knock to her lower leg on international duty.
Avaani Prakash is in the extended squad and will hope to make her first appearance under Smith, while Kiara De Domizio returns to the extended squad having played against Perth in Round 1.
Western United squad: 1. Alyssa DALL’OSTE (gk), 2. Stacey PAPADOPOULOS, 4. Jaclyn SAWICKI, 6. Chloe LOGARZO, 7. Kiara DE DOMIZIO, 9. Hannah KEANE, 11. Emma ROBERS, 12. Lucy RICHARDS, 13. Avaani PRAKASH, 14. Natasha DAKIC, 15. Adriana TARANTO, 16. Melissa TARANTO, 18. Grace MAHER, 19. Tyla Jay VLAJNIC, 20. Keiwa HIEDA, 21. Hillary BEALL (gk), 22. Alana CERNE, 24. Julia SARDO
Last time out
Western United fell on the wrong side of a six-goal thriller last time out, going down 4-2 against Newcastle Jets.
Chloe Logarzo struck a penalty and Stacey Papadopoulos scored a stunner – her first goal in the Liberty A-League – but the Jets were on form up front to take the win on home soil.
Perth Glory are enjoying a tremendous season and have been one of the best sides in the Liberty A-League since the back half of the last campaign, as well.
Alex Epakis has done a fantastic job in Western Australia and recruited a number of star players this season, including former Chelsea striker Millie Farrow and Grace Jale, who entered this season fresh off a FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign with New Zealand.
Perth have only lost one game all season, but equally come into this one with one win in their past four fixtures, a difficult run which has seen them meet all other sides currently sitting in the top five on the table.
Western United have faced tough contests against the Glory on all three occasions so far and will be looking to reverse the 2-0 defeat on the opening day of this season.
Key Matchup: Alana Cerne vs Millie Farrow
Alana Cerne – and Grace Maher alongside her – has played every minute at the back for Western United and is continuing to show her enormous potential.
The 21-year-old is growing from strength to strength as a centre-back and remains an integral part of the Green and Black’s squad, particularly in embedding a new philosophy of playing out of the back this season.
Her comfort in possession and ability to read the game defensively makes her one of the competition’s best young defenders, but she will have her hands full against Perth’s Farrow on Friday.
Once an England Under-23 international, Farrow failed to score in her first five matches for Perth but has found her form with four in her last three.
That included a brilliant hat-trick in an away win against Melbourne City, meaning she will come into this clash with plenty of confidence.
Cerne will need to demonstrate the very best of her defensive ability in order to oust Farrow and help Western United to claim an important win.
Player to Watch: Tyla Jay Vlajnic
Relishing a return to a more advanced role following her brief injury lay-off, Tyla Jay Vlajnic has become a major threat in Western United’s attacking play.
Last season, only golden boot winner Hannah Keane had more goals and assists than Vlajnic and the Serbian international will be eager to open her account for this season as soon as possible.
Playing more off the right wing in the past couple of games, Vlajnic’s dual threat as a creator and an outlet in behind opposition defences is a menacing prospect for the competition.
Her defensive work rate is also crucial in United’s pressing and defensive structures and with a clean bill of health for a couple of weeks now, Vlajnic will be out to delivery a trademark performance against Perth to help guide the Green and Black to victory.
Words from Kat Smith
On her excitement at playing in front of the home fans for the first time
“The fans have bene fantastic so far in the support they’ve shown through social media comments and getting right behind the girls every week.
“I can’t wait to see it and feel it in person, especially with this festive season upon us.
On her thoughts after a win and a loss over her first two games in charge
“No doubt results are what we are here to collect, but at the end of the day I think we can take lots of positives from our performances.
“We’ve got to build on that, we know with a little bit of change it was going to be a challenge for the girls, but I think they’ve really grasped the concepts and we’ll see more of our principles come into play at home.”