Glory show some heart

Glory successfully brought their winless run to an end on Wednesday evening, claiming a deserved point from a 0-0 draw with Melbourne Heart in a game that was far more entertaining than the scoreline suggests.

Glory successfully brought their winless run to an end on Wednesday evening, claiming a deserved point from a 0-0 draw with Melbourne Heart in a game that was far more entertaining than the scoreline suggests.

Coach Ian Ferguson had promised to inject some youth into the side and he duly delivered, handing first senior starts to Brent Griffiths, Howard Fondyke and Tommy Amphlett. Skipper Jacob Burns was reinstated in the heart of midfield after missing the Central Coast game through suspension, Michael Baird was recalled up front, with Robbie Fowler moving to the bench and Naum Sekulovski, Steven McGarry, Branko Jelic and Ryan Pearson left out.

“It was a far better performance, a more positive performance and I think the young kids we played tonight were fantastic.

“We basically had nothing to lose tonight and I thought I give the youth a chance and I thought they paid us back handsomely,” Ian Ferguson said.

The changes seemed to have the desired effect with the home side looking bright and purposeful right from the outset and creating the first meaningful chance of the game with 12 minutes on the clock. Mile Sterjovski led a swift Glory break as a Heart attack foundered on the edge of the area and picked out Todd Howarth surging down the left flank. The midfielder-s deep cross was laid off to Amphlett by Andy Todd whose lung-bursting run has seen him go the length of the field, but the former ECU Joondalup man failed to get a clean contact on his angled shot, allowing Clint Bolton to make a comfortable save.

Simon Colosimo and Josip Skoko were both being employed as screening midfielders in a fairly defensive Heart formation, but Glory were still finding holes and only a last-ditch intervention from a sliding Michael Beauchamp prevented Baird from connecting with a Sterjovski cross drilled low across the face of goal after 20 minutes.

The visitors- main threat, meanwhile, was coming from set-pieces, with Beauchamp and Nick Kalmar both coming close to converting perfectly-delivered Aziz Behich corners in the space of two minutes.

In open play, however, Glory were in the ascendancy with Fondyke and Burns winning the battle in the midfield engine-room and Amphlett a constant threat down the right and they created another couple of decent chances before the break. Firstly Burns sent Baird racing away down the left channel, but Sterjovski was crowded out as he lunged to meet the Queenslander-s teasing cross and then on 41 minutes Scott Neville missed perhaps Glory-s best opportunity of the opening stanza as his free header from a dinked Sterjovski free-kick flashed wide of Bolton-s right-hand post.

Glory then survived an early scare as the second-half got underway, Kalmar almost capitalising on a rare error from Neville before Tando Velaphi-s swift intervention snuffed out the danger. As they had in the first-half, however, the home side continued to show more attacking intent than the visitors and came close to breaking the deadlock just short of the hour mark. Amphlett-s persistence forced an error from Behich but although his cross picked out Howarth who in turn teed up Fondyke, the young midfielder dragged his shot wide. Another dead-ball situation briefly caused some anxiety at the back for Ferguson-s men six minutes later, with Kalmar firing wildly over after a Skoko corner had only been cleared as far as the edge of the box, but Glory again responded almost immediately at the other end as Sterjovski blazed over having been picked out by an inch-perfect cross from Baird.

As the game moved into its final quarter the dangerous Kalmar flashed a header narrowly wide of the target and former Glory Youth Team striker Babalj also went close only to be foiled by Andy Todd as he prepared to pull the trigger from close range. Enjoying their best period of the game, the visitors continued to probe away at Glory-s backline and Babalj was guilty of wasteful finishing after heading wide from another pinpoint Behich corner.

Neither side seemed content to settle for a share of the spoils and with seven minutes left, Glory came close to snatching the win as substitute Adriano Pellegrino-s clever pass released Scott Neville, but his cross-shot was scrambled away with the Heart defence at panic stations.

In a thrilling finale the visitors almost bagged the points right at the death as Babalj crashed a powerful header against the post and was then denied by Velaphi seconds later, the Glory ‘keeper making a smart stop low to his right.

A Heart winner would have been harsh on Glory who certainly deserved to take something out of the game after turning in a spirited and upbeat performance from which Ferguson will have taken plenty of positives.