Kerr-Hill combo consumes Victory and propels Perth to Grand Final Glory


Quality and commitment were the telling factors in this W-League semi-final. The superlative finishing of Sam Kerr, her almost telepathic understanding with left winger Rachel Hill, and superior fitness of the Glory team were critical in fashioning their unlikely triumph.

That the victory came in Premiership winners Melbourne Victory’s backyard made it all the sweeter. Perth now face Sydney FC who will host the Grand Final next weekend.

It looked good for Melbourne as they recorded the fastest ever goal in the W-League Finals series after two minutes thanks to Christine Nairn. The 28-year-old American midfielder on loan from Orlando Pride found herself with the ball about ten meters from the corner flag on the right.

The jury is still out on whether her cross-turned-shot was fumbled into her own net by Glory ‘keeper Alyssa Campbell, or, if Nairn took advantage of the Perth shot-stopper covering the central area for the expected cross and skillfully guided the ball into space at the near post.

Regardless, it was a spectacular way for Melbourne Victory to take the lead.

Glory huffed and puffed their way through the rest of the first half with a sense of injustice seeming to weigh heavily on their shoulders as they chased the game devoid of ingenuity or commitment.

Melbourne Victory continued to appear the most dangerous side throughout the third quarter of the match, despite having to substitute experienced goalkeeper Casey Dumont, who failed a concussion test at half time, after a collision with Hill late in the first half.

Substitute goalkeeper Bethany Mason-Jones had a couple of confidence-boosting touches early in the second half, reassuring her teammates that the loss of Dumont would not handicap their efforts to protect their lead.

It was not until a couple of Glory penalty appeals were dismissed, one for an obvious handball off a Shannon May cross and a clumsy defensive barge by Mastrantonio into Kerr, that the Perth side began to threaten.

Kerr transcended the perceived injustices by notching up the first ever hat-trick in a W-League finals game.

Perth’s equaliser came after 72 minutes. Hill went up for a Letitiia McKenna cross and failed to connect as desired but did enough to deceive the defence and initially Kerr. While jumping for the expected flick from Hill, Kerr remarkably changed her position and guided it home with her right, before landing, her razor reaction leaving the second choice ‘keeper with no chance.

Glory continued to make chances as the Kerr/Hill double act went through their repertoire.

The Victory goal was again breached five minutes before full-time. The cross came in from Kerr, who placed it right on Hill’s forehead and she guided the header between two flailing defenders and Mason-Jones to put Glory in the lead.

Victory weren’t finished yet. In the fourth minute of injury-time Nairn hoisted a deep free-kick into the box where central defender Laura Alleway knocked it down across goal and substitute Grace Maher was quick to react and grabbed the equaliser.

It stayed 2-2 till the end of normal time, the teams would be asked to produce again for another half an hour.

The atmosphere began to build as some of the Glory men’s team (forward Andy Keogh, midfielder Jake Brimmer and Socceroo ace Chris Ikonomidis) who were up next, came out to cheer on their clubmates. The stadium was also filling up with Victory fans as the A-League game eventually attracted a crowd of 25,071.

The fitness of the Glory women became telling as the game began to open up.

In the 97th minute Hill had the ball at the halfway line, spotted a direct forward run by Kerr and decided to loft it, over the defence, with devastating accuracy, into Kerr’s path. Mason-Jones came out the 18-yard line to meet the ball, but her naivety was exposed by a cruel lob from Kerr, which evaded the desperately outstretched defenders to put Glory 3-2 up.

Kerr’s mischief continued to torment the Victory defence culminating in a 2nd yellow card for Samantha Johnson, whose frustration showed as she attempted to grab the red from the referee before giving her the finger.

This forced Victory coach, Jeff Hopkins’ hand into using his 4th substitution (Melina Ayres for Teigen Allen) while Glory still had their starting 11 on the pitch against the tiring 10 women of Melbourne.

Kerr got her third with 107 minutes on the clock. 17-year-old Letitia McKenna did great work down the left as she drew in a tiring Melbourne defence before angling a ball to Kerr. The West Australian RAC Sports Star of the year put the game out of Victory’s reach with an emphatic finish. Victory 2 Glory 4.

Glory coach Bobby Despotovski stuck with his starting 11 for 114 minutes. Photo credit: Paul McNeela/PINT

Glory threatened to make it five, but the game ended with no further score.
When the final whistle came the Glory girls were jubilant in celebration. They now have the chance to win their first Grand Final at the third time of asking.

After the game Hill revealed the spirit of the Glory team:

“We had the front foot, we stayed positive, we knew we would win.”

But the last word must belong to Sam Kerr:

“That was epic. People stood up today. My teammates’ passes set me up for my goals.”

Melbourne Victory (4-3-3):
Dumont (Mason-Jones); Allen (Ayres), Alleway, Johnson (sent off), Beard; Weatherholt (Maher), Mastrantonio (booked), Nairn; Gielink, Dowie, Barbieri (Cooney-Cross).

Perth Glory (4-3-3):
Campbell; Gale, K.Carroll (Doeglas), Naughton, Rigby; May, Stanton, McKenna; Hill, Kerr, Mautz (S. Carroll).


About Author

Scozzie reporting on A-League and other stuff from the Indian Ocean shores. St. Johnstone fan. Follow me on twitter @perthmcneela.

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