Western United clinched a brilliant 1-0 win over league leaders Perth Glory in the Liberty A-League Women with Chloe Logarzo the hero on her birthday.
The Western United captain was unplayable across the 90 minutes and score the game’s only goal, a venomous finish into the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty area.
The Green and Black had plenty of chances to add further impact on the scoreboard but the defensive structure ensured there was no need, holding onto a first clean sheet of the season.
Shooting up to fifth on the table and just four points behind Perth, Kat Smith and her side will be eager to carry the momentum from this result into the new year.
Smith named an identical starting XI for the third game running as Western United boss with the ever-present duo of Grace Maher and Alana Cerne remaining at centre-back.
Fresh from her maiden Liberty A-League goal on her birthday last week, Stacey Papadopoulos continued at left-back while Logarzo led the team out as captain on her own birthday.
Both teams were largely feeling each other out in the opening 10 minutes with the biggest chances at either end coming from turnovers at the back.
Perth’s came first after Julia Sardo’s pass was cut out, allowing Millie Farrow a sight of goal but Maher but enough pressure on her to force the shot over the crossbar.
Hannah Keane then intercepted a risky pass at the other end and slipped Logarzo in behind, but her stretching effort was deflected out for a corner, from which Tyla Jay Vlajnic struck the crossbar.
Farrow had another big chance when she bustled her way through United’s defence and seemingly had the ball destined for the bottom corner, but the strike trickled wide of the post to sighs of relief from the fans at City Vista.
Western United put the foot down thereafter and suddenly seized control of the game, pressing Perth high and linking up to great effect high up the pitch.
It wasn’t long before United hit the front thanks to a brilliant bit of play from Melissa Taranto to set up her captain.
After Maher had won the ball initially as Perth tried to play out, Taranto emerged between two Perth defenders to control a bouncing ball before sliding the ball across to Logarzo who thrashed it into the bottom left corner to give United the lead.
The Green and Black remained on the front foot and continued to swarm Perth’s goal with Keane and Logarzo behind much of the action.
Keane flashed a strike just wide of the post and then hit the woodwork soon after, albeit from an offside position after Maher’s initial effort had stung Morgan Aquino’s palms.
Adriana Taranto stole a march on her marker with a lovely jink inside before her strike was blocked and fell to Logarzo who was inches away from finding the same corner she had done minutes earlier.
Perth offered a reminder of the danger they pose going forward with a penalty shout just before half-time, but the referee waved those claims away as Farrow tumbled over Maher’s trailing leg.
The hosts had another flurry of efforts on goal before half-time as Keane and Adriana Taranto came close, but the side was unable to add to the lead ahead of the interval.
Going against the wind in the second half, United couldn’t quite find as much joy going forward but the pace and the quality of play meant Perth weren’t able to exploit the conditions to full effect at the other end.
The Taranto twins were again instrumental in much of United’s possession play and Adriana nearly had a brilliant assist when she burned a defender and crossed low into the box, with Melissa so close to getting on the end of it as Aquino fumbled her initial gather.
United had a sequence of opportunities in succession with constant balls in the box and counter pressing keeping Perth on the back foot, but none of that pressure resulted in a second goal as the game approached its final 20 minutes.
Smith’s side managed the game extremely well to ensure there was no undue pressure on Hillary Beall’s goal until the only major scare in the second minute of stoppage time.
After an initially brilliant piece of recovery defending, Cerne lost out to Farrow in the box and the English attacker squared the ball to Hana Lowry for what looked a certain goal, but Stacey Papadopoulos made an outstanding block to send the ball looping harmlessly into Beall’s arms.
Fitting with the dominance across the game, United had the final chance of the day when Keane threaded Keiwa Hieda through on goal in the final seconds but Aquino made a good one-on-one save to deny the substitute the clinching goal.
It was immaterial to the result, though, as United came away with a big three points to give the Green and Black fans the perfect early Christmas present.