The PGFC Academy First Team extended their unbeaten run to nine games and strengthened their position at the top of the NPL WA ladder despite being held to a 2-2 draw by Floreat Athena at Ashfield on Sunday.
Ryan Malton headed Floreat ahead early, before Yacoub Mustafa levelled on the half hour. The Glory youngsters then took the lead on the stroke of half time through Michael Domfeh, only for Robert Petkov to snatch a point for the visitors by volleying home in the 89th minute.
The late strike denied Glory what would have been an eighth straight win and left Head Coach John Gibson deeply frustrated.
“They [Floreat] came here today with a new coach and gave us a tough game,” he said. “The group showed super character to hit back after Floreat took the lead, but we lost our heads and focus a little. We were bitterly disappointed in our second-half performance. We became loose and moved away from our processes. Anytime we go individual and go outside our framework, we start to struggle.
"The goals we gave away were very uncharacteristic, sloppy and soft and we conceded one in the last minute of the game. We were very unhappy about that as we have strategies for these key timings. We got a bit excited and lost our discipline with our shape, something we’ve prided ourselves on this season. There were some invaluable educational lessons and experiences today and we need to learn from them.”
Defender Harry Quigley, meanwhile, insisted that the minor setback won't derail his side's title challenge.
“We’ve progressed well as a team this season," he said. "Last year we were fighting relegation, but this season we’re top of the table and expect to win every game. The players have great belief in each other and we showed great character, like we have all season, to get the lead at half time.
“So were disappointed not to take the three points, but we roll on to Bayswater next weekend and will be looking to bounce back and get the three points.”
Gibson named an unchanged side from that which accounted for ECU Joondalup last week and they started in a similarly positive vein, having a penalty claim turned down before Henry Hore’s snap shot hit the side-netting.
Floreat, meanwhile, were happy to set back and hit on the counter-attack and against the run of play, they opened the scoring on 25 minutes. Dean Evans’ free kick picked out Phil Arnold at the back post and his header across goal was turned home by Malton in a crowded penalty area.
Glory hit back almost immediately, however, Jason Saldaris initially foiling Domfeh at the expense of a corner which was whipped in by Henry Hore and headed home by Mustafa.
The hosts continued to dominate, with Saldaris forced into two fine saves to deny Chok Dau and Daniel Walsh.
But the overworked Athena 'keeper could do nothing on the stroke of half time, as Domfeh latched on to Hore's perfectly-weighted through-ball and calmly applied the finish.
The game was then halted for five minutes early in the second half after referee Tom Glavovic went off injured and was replaced by assistant Shane Skinner and Glory seemed to lose their focus somewhat in the wake of the unexpected break.
Jackson Lee was forced into action to keep out both lively substitute Joe Tweats and Arnold, but he was beaten in the final minute of normal time when Calvin Whitney’s corner was headed back by Jon Stynes and Petkov lost his marker to score at the near post and ensure that the spoils would be shared.
In the day's other games, meanwhile, Glory's Under-18s and Under-20s both enjoyed thumping victories, winning 7-0 and 9-3 respectively.
All three sides return to action next week when they visit Frank Drago Reserve to take on Bayswater City.
The Under-18s start at 11am, the Under-20s at 1pm and the First Team at 3pm.
Perth Glory 2 (Mustafa 31’, Domfeh 44’) Floreat Athena 2 (Malton 25’, Petkov 89’)
Half time: 2-1
Referee: Tom Glavovic
Perth Glory: GK Jackson LEE, 2 Luca BODNAR, 3 Walter SCOTT, 4 Daniel WALSH, 5 Harry QUIGLEY, 6 Zayd FARAH (13 Ollie ANNIS 83’), 7 Chok DAU, 8 Henry HORE, 9 Michael DOMFEH (12 Bayley BROWN-MONTGOMERY 68’), 10 Michael MCDOUGALL, 11 Yacoub MUSTAFA
Substitutes not used: RGK Nicholas SPECA, 14 Nic MCDONALD, 15 Jordan ABRAHAMS
Yellow cards: Bodnar 90+5’
Red cards: Nil
Floreat Athena: GK Jason SALDARIS, 2 Marco SANTA LUCIA, 4 Andrew SCALDAFERRO (12 Ethan KERRIDGE 82’), 6 Jessie FULLER, 8 Jonathan STYNES, 9 Robert PETKOV, 10 Calvin WHITNEY, 11 Dennis GALAN, 16 Ryan MALTON (14 Joseph TWEATS 56’), 17 Dean EVANS (15 Keylun POLLARD 46’), 33 Philip ARNOLD
Substitutes not used: RGK Jordan BARBAS, 13 Tyler HOLDEN
Yellow cards: Petkov 90+5’
Red cards: Nil