Perth Glory dominate Western Sydney but fall short in 1-0 loss.
Ten-man Western Sydney Wanderers withstood a second-half onslaught at nib Stadium on Sunday to end Glory-s 100% home record by recording a 1-0 win.
Iacopo La Rocca headed the visitors into an early lead, but after they lost Youssouf Hersi to a red card shortly before the break, the league new boys were forced to dig in and repel wave after wave of home attacks to secure a gritty, backs-to-the-wall victory.
Even without star striker Shane Smeltz who was a late withdrawal from the squad due to family reasons, the hosts created a string of excellent chances only to be foiled by a magnificent display from Wanderers ‘keeper Ante Covic and the defenders in front of him.
The visitors may have managed only four goals all season prior to arriving at nib Stadium, but they showed plenty of attacking intent right from the off and had already gone close through Mark Bridge and Aaron Mooy before they made the breakthrough on 18 minutes.
Jason Trifiro-s corner was half-cleared to the impressive Mooy, he dinked the ball back into the box and Iacopo La Rocca rose highest in a packed box to power a header past home ‘keeper Danny Vukovic.
Stung into action by that early set-back, Glory finally began to assert themselves, though they find it hard to break down a Wanderers defence boasting the best away record in the league.
Liam Miller-s long-range sighter on 23 minutes was the hosts- first meaningful shot in anger, with Western Sydney ‘keeper Ante Covic doing well to tip the Irishman-s strike over the bar and moments later, the former Sydney FC custodian was again called upon to block a 22-metre effort fizzed in by Steven McGarry.
Still struggling for fluency going forward, the home side were forced into an early change when Adrian Zahra was brought on to replace Dean Heffernan who looked to be suffering from a back problem and moments later, the game took a dramatic twist.
Seconds after Bridge had squandered a golden opportunity to double the visitors- advantage, Youssouf Hersi tangled with Scott Jamieson in front of the Glory technical area, the Dutchman lashed out with his feet and referee Kris Griffiths-Jones immediately reached for his red card.
Tony Popovic-s men responded by dropping deeper and battening down the hatches in a bid to get to the break and regroup and they did so successfully, ensuring that Glory would head for the sheds a goal down for the first time this season.
The narrative for the second-half, meanwhile, was established as early as the 48th minute when Zahra dragged his low shot narrowly wide following some neat interplay with Travis Dodd.
Defending deep and in numbers, the Wanderers set out their stall and challenged Glory to break them down, occasionally launching counter-attacks, one of which culminated in Vukovic making a fine save from Bridge.
That chance aside, however, it was virtually all one-way traffic, with McGarry coming agonisingly close to producing a carbon copy of the goal he scored against Newcastle a fortnight ago when his stinging low drive struck the upright and rebounded away to safety.
The lively Nick Ward was the next to try his luck, cutting in from the left and forcing another save from the overworked Covic who again went full stretch moments later to palm a curling effort from Billy Mehmet around the post.
Chris Harold was thrown into the fray as the game moved into its final quarter and the siege continued with Jamieson-s goal-bound volley cleared off the line by Michael Beauchamp.
Popovic-s response was to introduce marquee man Shinji Ono off the bench in a bid to end Glory-s monopoly of the possession, but Ian Ferguson-s side still continued to sweep forward and almost grabbed a late leveller when Josh Risdon powered into the box only to see his goalbound effort blocked by a cluster of bodies in red and black.
Risdon then turned provider to tee up McGarry, but seconds after the Scot-s header crashed against the crossbar, Wanderers were celebrating becoming only the second side to win at nib Stadium this calendar year.