Champions Melbourne City fought back from a goal down but eventually fell to a 3-2 defeat against Perth Glory in an absorbing contest at AAMI Park on Tuesday evening.
In a captivating clash between two genuine Westfield W-League title contenders, City found themselves trailing when Rosie Sutton opened the scoring minutes after the half-time break, until Jess Fishlock levelled the contest with a world class volley.
The Welsh midfielder’s goal sparked a rousing comeback as Aivi Luik’s deflected strike handed City the advantage after 72 minutes, only for Sam Kerr to restore parity only five minutes later.
Both sides pushed forward in search of the winner but it would be Kerr who would deny City five minutes from time, netting a well-weighted chip over City goalkeeper Lydia Williams to ensure the Glory returned home with all three points.
Looking to bounce back from two consecutive league defeats, City enjoyed decent spells of possession during the early stages of the contest, but were hassled and harried by a high-pressing Glory outfit looking to cause havoc on the break.
Kerr’s influence on the match continued to grow as the contest wore on, and the forward had two golden opportunities to put the visitors ahead at the break. The first of which produced a superb save from the boot of Williams, while a curling effort just before half-time was a whisker away from putting the gloss on another swift Perth break.
Such was the volume of chances created, a goal was inevitable. However it was the visitors who caught City cold only moments after the restart, as Sutton turned home Shawn Billam’s cut-back past Williams to hand Perth the advantage.
It was the wakeup call City needed. Tymrak stung the palms of Dal Bosco with another clever run and shot from the left, before Fishlock rattled the side netting after yet another driving run into the penalty area.
But the Welsh midfielder would have the crowd on its feet only moments after with a moment of acrobatics, volleying home spectacularly to bring City level.
City coach Joe Montemurro opted to inject some pace with the introduction of Jacynta Galabadaarachchi on 62 minutes, and the teenager nearly made an instant impact with a thunderous effort that rattled the crossbar after Steph Catley's cross was only partially cleared.
Both sides continued to trade blows as Kerr saw another effort denied by a brilliant reaction save from Williams, until City turned the contest on its head in the 72nd minute with the go-ahead goal.
Galabadaarachchi's cross went through a sea of Perth defenders before making its way to Luik, whose shot took a wicked deflection past Dal Busco and into the net to give City the lead in the 72nd minute.
Any celebrations were short lived, however, as Kerr finally got on the score sheet to square the contest at 2-2, running on to Sutton's pass and slotting home past Williams.
City were up against it when Lauren Barnes received her marching orders for a second yellow card, before Kerr stunned the home crowd with six minutes remaining, chipping Williams from an acute angle to put the Glory ahead with five minutes left on the clock.
Alleway nearly earned City a share of the spoils at the death with a header that cannoned off the post deep into injury time, but it wasn’t to be for Montemurro’s side who will look to bounce back at home against Adelaide United next Monday.
The win sees Perth Glory, who host Newcastle Jets on Monday, now have a lone hold on top spot after Round 8.