Two exquisite headed goals from Billy Mehmet and Adam Hughes powered Glory back into the winners’ circle on Saturday night as they comfortably downed finals rivals Newcastle Jets 2-0 at nib Stadium.
Two exquisite headed goals from Billy Mehmet and Adam Hughes powered Glory back into the winners- circle on Saturday night as they comfortably downed finals rivals Newcastle Jets 2-0 at nib Stadium.
It was a third successive home win for the men in purple which moved them up to third place on the ladder and to within touching distance of a first ever home A-League final.
Even the loss of midfield playmaker Liam Miller to an apparent hamstring injury as early as the 12th minute failed to faze the rampant home side, with the Irishman-s replacement Hughes making an immediate impact by scoring the game-s opening goal.
And the victory was all the more impressive given that the visitors had travelled west on the back of three consecutive wins and boasted a strike duo in Ryan
Griffiths and Jeremy Brockie who had bagged an impressive seventeen goals between them coming into the game.
In keeping with the adventurous approach coach Gary van Egmond has favoured since returning to the club, the Jets fielded three up front, with Tarek Elrich joining the prolific Griffiths and Brockie.
The dangerous Francis Jeffers lurked just behind the front three, meanwhile, but with Jacob Burns carefully shadowing the former England international and
Glory-s back-four standing firm, the Jets rarely managed to threaten Danny Vukovic-s goal in the opening stanza.
Indeed, so comfortable in his defensive duties was Josh Risdon that he found plenty of opportunities to surge forward and he played a key role in Glory-s deserved opener which arrived on 16 minutes.
The highly-rated right-back surged down the flank, before turning inside to deliver a teasing left-foot cross which substitute Hughes needed no second invitation to head firmly past stranded Jets- goalkeeper Ben Kennedy from twelve metres out.
That opening goal seemed to take the wind out of the visitors- sails and it was the home side who cranked up the pressure for the rest of the first-half.
With the Jets defence creaking, the second goal seemed inevitable and it would have arrived on 35 minutes had it not been for some superb goalkeeping and a major dose of bad luck.
Firstly Kennedy produced a stunning one-handed save to tip Hughes- 25 metre screamer onto the bar and when Steven McGarry responded quickest to hook the rebound goalward, the bar again intervened to deny the Scot what would have his third goal in four games.
As half-time approached it was Dodd-s turn to threaten the Newcastle goal, but his stinging low drive flashed centimetres wide of Kennedy-s right post.
Perth Glory 1-0 Newcastle Jets
Having seen fellow-midfielders McGarry, Dodd and Hughes try their luck in the first-half, Mile Sterjovski decided to get in on the act early in the second, coming agonisingly close to doubling Glory-s advantage with a rasping 25-metre shot from a short free-kick that grazed the bar on its way over.
And Glory-s ongoing affair with the woodwork continued moments later as Hughes weaved his way across the top of the box and thundered a superb shot that beat Kennedy all ends up only to canon back off the post.
Any thoughts that Ian Ferguson-s side might be punished for failing to put their chances away all but evaporated just short of the hour mark, however, as the second goal finally arrived.
Burns capped a scintillating midfield display by curling in a superb cross from the right and Mehmet rose highest to power a classic centre-forward-s header into the top corner of the net.
The tenacious Griffiths did fire one shot across the bows moments later, but Vukovic was untroubled and normal service was swiftly restored as Dodd twice went close at the other end, the second of his chances teed up by Andrezinho who was handed a late cameo off the bench.
The lively Brazilian then carved out another decent opportunity as the final whistle approached, taking advantage of a tiring Jets- defence to race down the left and whip in a deep cross which Sterjovski mis-hit wide of the target.
Glory toyed with their opponents in stoppage time, playing passing triangles to the delight of The Shed and comfortably nailing down a win which sets up an absolute blockbuster against reigning champions Brisbane Roar at nib Stadium next Saturday.
Hyundai A-League Week 20 Perth Glory: 2 (Hughes 16- Mehmet 59-) Newcastle Jets: 0 nib Stadium Attendance: 8108 Referees: Ben Williams
Perth Glory: 1.Danny Vukovic (GK), 3.Bas Van Den Brink, 4.Billy Mehmet (27.Andrezinho 81-), 5.Steve Pantelidis, 7.Jacob Burns (C), 10.Liam Miller (8.Adam Hughes 12-), 13.Travis Dodd, 14.Steven McGarry, 19. Josh Risdon, 21.Mile Sterjovski, 35. Dean Heffernan (17.Todd Howarth 66-)
Substitutes not used: 20. Neil Young (GK),
Yellow cards: Heffernan 64-
Newcastle Jets: 1. Ben Kennedy (GK), 2. Taylor Regan (22. Ali Abbas 43-) 4. Nikolai Topor-Stanley, 5. Tiago Calvano, 8. Jeremy Brockie (9. Michael Bridges 60-), 10. Ruben Zadkovich, 11. Tarek Elrich (26. Connor Chapman 79-), 13. Sung-Hwan Byun, 23. Ryan Griffiths, 24. Francis Jeffers, 25. Jacob Pepper
Substitutes not used: 19. Matthew Nash (GK),
Yellow cards: Griffiths 54-, Pepper 71-