Glory defy Wanderers for winning start

Perth Glory staved off a brave fightback from Western Sydney Wanderers to claim a 4-2 win in their Westfield W-League season opener at nib Stadium on Sunday.

Glory skipper Sam Kerr scored a second-half brace to seal the three points for the home side after the Wanderers fought back from 2-0 down in front of a 2011-strong crowd.

Perth took the lead after just 18 seconds when Kerr intercepted the ball inside her team’s attacking half before feeding it off to Caitlin Doeglas, who completed the easiest of finishes for her first Westfield W-League goal.

Returning striker Rosie Sutton doubled Glory’s lead in the 22nd minute, hammering the ball home after a goalmouth scramble from a corner kick.

Wanderers midfielder Paige Nielsen provided the spark her side needed just past the half-hour mark when she caught goalkeeper Melissa Maizels off her line, but her chip shot cannoned into the woodwork.

Former Westfield Matildas winger Joanne Burgess pulled one back for the visitors in the 39th minute, shrugging off two Perth defenders before curling the ball into the top left corner.

Burgess almost drew her side level during added time, but was cruelly denied by Maizels on the goal-line. However, the veteran showed her experience shortly after the break when she fired in a low cross for Helen Petinos to put the match back on even terms.

Both teams squandered chances for a third goal until Kerr brilliantly sidestepped her rivals and curled the ball past Wanderers custodian Casey Dumont in the 68th minute.

Kerr assured the result for Perth seven minutes from full-time when she pounced on a goalkeeping mishap by Dumont, who failed to cleanly grasp the preceding shot from Nikki Stanton.

Glory coach Bobby Despotovski said he was pleased with how his quartet of imports gelled with the rest of the squad.

“The mix we have now is amazing,” Despotovski said. “They’re spirit and camaraderie is unbelievable. It’s very pleasing to see and it makes it easier for them to gel.

“We started the game extremely well and deservedly gone 2-0 up, but then just fell in a little bit of a hole but we dug ourselves out of that hole in the second half.”

Wanderers coach Richard Byrne praised his side for not dropping their heads after conceding two early goals.

“It took us 20 minutes to settle into the game, obviously going 1-0 down so early on didn’t help,” Byrne said.

“To be honest I was quite proud the way the girls reacted. They didn’t panic, they still tried to play the football that we want to try and play. We got it back to 2-2, we hit the woodwork, so we are creating chances.”