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DAWBER DOUBLE DOWNS GLORY AS ADELAIDE USHER IN NEW YEAR WITH WIN

Chelsie Dawber bagged a brace as Adelaide United opened 2022 with a thrilling 4-2 victory over the previously unbeaten Perth Glory in the Liberty A-League.

Perth were back in action for the first time since December 10 after border restrictions and surging COVID cases made it difficult for the Glory to continue playing consistent league fixtures.

But the Glory – the only team with a perfect record prior to Saturday having won consecutive games to open the campaign – were overpowered by Adelaide on New Year’s Day at Coopers Stadium, where the Reds were fuelled by Dawber’s first-half double and goals from stand-in captain Matilda McNamara and Emily Condon, who scored a stunning free-kick.

Highly rated American striker Cyera Hintzen capped her Glory debut with a goal but it was not enough for the visitors in warm Adelaide conditions as the Reds claimed their second victory in four matches.

Perth almost scored in the 20th minute when Kim Carroll launched a long free-kick to the back post, where Susan Phonsongkham ran on and volleyed.

Phonsongkham’s shot travelled across the face of goal and bounced back off the upright, with the rebound somehow avoiding the outstretched Hintzen, who was looking for a tap in.

But it was Adelaide who broke the deadlock just past the half-hour mark when Condon stormed though midfield, evading her Glory opponents before drawing a defender and releasing an unmarked Dawber on the edge of the area.

Dawber took a touch before placing her shot into the bottom corner.

Perth drew level against the run of play in the 40th minute – Phonsongkham was released down the right wing and whipped in a cross behind the Reds’ defence.

Hintzen latched onto the pass and coolly slid her shot past Annalee Grove in Adelaide’s goal.

United regained the lead two minutes into first-half added time after Nanako Sasaki flicked a through ball between two Glory defenders with Dawber taking a touch on the turn and firing a powerful shot into the roof of the net from just inside the area.

The visitors earned a penalty seven minutes into the second half when Kayla Sharples went through the back of Gemma Craine and Alana Jancevski converted – but only just.

Phonsongkham’s next attempt was expertly parried away by Grove before Hintzen went close for Perth, rattling the crossbar from outside the area with a swerving left-footed effort just moments later.

Adelaide regained the lead with 13 minutes remaining after an inch-perfect corner from Fiona Worts left Perth keeper Morgan Aquino stranded and McNamara was left with the simplest of finishes, powering a header into an empty net.

Condon deservedly got on the scoresheet four minutes later to make it 4-2, delightfully curling in a free-kick from 20 yards.