After making the Westfield W-League Grand Final in 2016/17, Perth Glory’s campaign the following season was disappointing to say the least.
So 2018/19 loomed as a big one and with Sam Kerr returning for another year, the pressure was on head coach Bobby Despotovski to return the Western Australians to the final four.
Here’s how they fared!
Record: 5W, 4D, 3L
Top scorer: Sam Kerr (17 goals)
Most appearances: Eliza Campbell, Kim Carroll, Rachel Hill, Shannon May, Katie Naughton, Natasha Rigby – 14 games (incl. finals)
Perth couldn’t have been handed a tougher start to their 2018/19 campaign with away trips to Brisbane Roar and Canberra United occupying the opening two rounds.
A 1-1 draw with the Roar at Suncorp Stadium was then followed by one of the more remarkable clashes this season.
Canberra United were in full control and led 4-1 with 10 minutes to play as Glory looked set to return home licking their wounds.
However quick-fire goals to Alyssa Mautz and Leticia McKenna gave the visitors a sniff before Sam Kerr forced an own-goal from Rachel Corsie to amazingly level things up at 4-4.
A convincing 3-0 win over Western Sydney Wanderers was followed up by a hugely impressive 5-2 demolition of defending Champions Melbourne City with Kerr and strike-partner Rachel Hill running rings around the defence.
Despotovski’s team would then be held to back-to-back 2-2 draws against Adelaide United and Newcastle Jets, two results which raised some question marks over the team's true potential as title challengers.
They got back to winning ways just before Christmas with an impressive 2-1 win over Sydney FC at HBF Park, a result which set up a mouth-watering top of the table clash away to Melbourne Victory - an enthralling contest which Glory fell 2-1.
The remainder of the season would see Perth struggle for consistency, beating Canberra 1-0 thanks to a late penalty from Kerr but shipping three goals in the second half to lose 3-1 to the Jets the next week.
They responded by thumping the Wanderers 5-1 but still weren’t guaranteed a finals spot heading into their Round 14 match against Victory.
Despite losing 2-1, Perth secured their position in the top four and would face the Premiers in Melbourne the following week in the semi-final.
It looked like they were headed for yet another loss at the hands of the Victorians when Christine Nairn put the hosts ahead after only two minutes.
But a hat-trick to Kerr stunned Victory and they were unable to recover with 4-2 the final score after extra time.
Sydney awaited them in the Grand Final at Kogarah but it wasn’t to be for Perth as a Savannah McCaskill double ultimately proved the difference for the Sky Blues.
Without a doubt their performance against Victory in the semi-final.
Having been beaten twice already by their navy-clad opponents, Nairn’s early goal indicated it wouldn’t be third time lucky for Glory.
In fact, it wasn’t until the 72nd minute that Kerr’s first goal arrived before Hill looked to have won the day for the visitors with an 86th minute effort.
Grace Maher nabbed a dramatic injury time equaliser to send it to extra-time but it mattered little as Kerr secured Perth’s passage with two lethal finishes in the space of 10 minutes.
It’s impossible not to mention Sam Kerr when reflecting on Perth’s season that was.
The Westfield Matildas striker had the honour of being the Westfield W-League’s first ever marquee player and certainly repaid the faith with 17 goals in just 13 games.
Partnering her in attack was Rachel Hill with the American and Aussie forming an almost telepathic relationship.
Eliza Campbell was also a rock at the back for the Glory, pulling off acrobatic saves to keep her side in the game.
At age 16 not many would have foreseen the season Leticia McKenna would have.
The midfielder played 13 games, nine of which were starts, scoring twice and providing an assist.
Fellow youngster Jacynta Galabadaarachchi also showed some good signs in her four appearances.
A third Grand Final defeat in five years will sting, but Perth can be proud of their 2018/19 campaign.
Consistency, or lack thereof, was the major stumbling block for the Glory with draws against sides they should be beating almost costing them a place in the top four.
On their day however they are as good as anyone in the Westfield W-League and if Bobby Despotovski can iron out the creases while retaining the majority of their squad, Perth should start the 2019/20 season as one of the favourites.