Glory march on

Perth Glory deservedly claimed victory on election day, downing Newcastle Jets 1-0 at nib Stadium.

Perth Glory deservedly claimed victory on election day, downing Newcastle Jets 1-0 at nib Stadium.

Substitute Branko Jelic bagged what proved to be the winner on the stroke of half-time, though the margin could have been far greater as the home side dominated for long periods en route to reclaiming top spot on the Hyundai A-League ladder.

Several squally showers had swept across nib Stadium shortly before kick-off and both sides seemed to struggle initially to adapt to the consequently greasy surface. A stop-start first-half ensued, with neither Glory nor the Jets able to click their passing game full into gear and there was precious little goalmouth action to excite the fans in the first half-hour.

“We-ve not played the best today but we created a lot of chances. It-s a credit to the boys; they dug deep.

“I-m happy we kept a clean sheet and got the three points," Coach Dave Mitchell said.

Sterjovski did his best to break the deadlock, firing just wide following a well-executed training ground throw-in drill on 17 minutes, but by and large both defences remained untroubled as a midfield arm-wrestle unfolded in front of them. Unfortunately for Sterjovski his involvement in the game came to a premature end shortly after the half-hour mark, as he picked up an ankle injury courtesy of a crude Ljubo Milicevic challenge and was replaced by Branko Jelic.

Glory then came close to suffering a further blow five minutes before the interval when a Mario Jesic free-kick crashed against the woodwork. Jamie Harnwell was rather harshly adjudged to have baulked Michael Bridges just outside the box and Jesic needed no second invitation to strike the dead ball, beating both Tando Velaphi and the wall, but not the crossbar.

That fortunate escape seemed to serve as a wake-up call for Mitchell-s men who provided an almost immediate response in the form of the opening goal from substitute Jelic. Adriano Pellegrino-s deep cross from the right picked out the onrushing Todd Howarth and although the midfielder-s thundering volley was superbly parried by Jets keeper Ben Kennedy, Jelic showed his predatory instincts to calmly chest the loose ball home from close range.

“He-s a goal scorer. He-s usually in the right place at the right time and he certainly was today,” Mitchell said.

Having finished the first-half on the front foot, Glory began the second in similar style as Robbie Fowler came agonisingly close to grabbing his first competitive goal for the club. The industrious Howarth was again involved, neatly chipping in a cross from the by-line which Fowler headed powerfully past Kennedy only to see the ball strike the cross bar and rebound away to safety.

The former Liverpool legend was becoming increasingly influential as the game progressed and moments later he turned provider, deftly curling a teasing cross into Jelic-s path, only to see the Serbian frontman slice his shot wide when well placed.

Sensing the tide turning in their favour, the home side began building the pressure on the increasingly rattled visitors, as firstly Burns saw his goalbound low drive deflected wide for a corner just short of the hour mark and moments later Jelic blazed over after Sekulovksi had rounded Kennedy and dragged the ball back across the face of goal.

More last-ditch defending from former Glory defender Milicevic then prevented Fowler from doubling Glory-s lead on 70 minutes after Jelic had teed up his strike partner having latched onto an inch-perfect through ball from Pellegrino.

The chances kept coming for Glory as full-time approached, with Jelic and Fowler carving out fine opportunities for one another in the space of sixty seconds. Jelic just failed to convert from close range after Kennedy had flapped at a Fowler corner and then the Englishman headed straight at the over-worked Jets goalkeeper after a fine cross from his Serbian colleague.

Hard-working Kiwi striker Jeremy Brockie did give the home fans a late scare, dragging a shot narrowly wide from just inside the box on 88 minutes, before Velaphi comfortably gathered a weak header from Zadkovich, but Mitchell-s men stood firm to see out the final seconds and in doing so, secure the best start to a season in the club-s Hyundai A-League history.

Hyundai A-League Round 3 Perth Glory 1 Newcastle Jets 0 Saturday, 21 August 2010 nib Stadium Referee: Matthew Breeze Attendance: 12,031

Perth Glory squad: 1. Tando VELAPHI, 3. Jamie COYNE, 5. Jamie HARNWELL (2. Josh MITCHELL 90-+2), 7. Jacob BURNS (C), 9.Robbie FOWLER (23. ANDRIJA JUKIC 87-), 12. Scott NEVILLE, 14. Steven McGARRY, 16. Adriano PELLEGRINO, 17. Todd HOWARTH, 19. Naum SEKULOVSKI, 21. Mile STERJOVSKI (11. Branko JELIC 38-)

Substitutes not used: 20. Aleks VRTESKI Yellow cards: Neville 29-, Burns 59- Red cards: Nil

Newcastle Jets squad: 1. Ben KENNEDY (gk), 3. Adam D-APUZZO, 5. Ljubo MILICEVIC 6. Ben KANTAROVSKI 7. Kasey WEHRMAN 8. Michael BRIDGES (14. Labinot HALITI 67-), 10. Ruben ZADKOVICH, 11. Tarek ELRICH, 12. Jobe WHEELHOUSE (19. Ali ABBAS 46-), 16. Jeremy BROCKIE, 18. Marko JESIC,

Substitutes not used: 2. Taylor REGAN, 30. Paul HENDERSON Yellow cards: Zadkovich 43- Red cards: Nil