Perth Glory FC remains in the hunt for its maiden Hyundai A-League Premiership despite a 2-1 loss at the hands of New Zealand rivals Wellington Phoenix at nib Stadium.
Roy Krishna bagged a brace for the visitors, but Ruben Zadkovich stole the show after his thumping equaliser set the game alight in the 29th minute.
Glory got the game underway, but it was the Phoenix who registered the first shot on target in the 3rd minute when an under-hit back-pass found its way to Krishna who fired low at the near corner.
However Glory custodian and Hyundai A-League appearance record holder, Danny Vukovic, was equal to the challenge, saving well to his left.
In the 10th minute, teenage superstar, Danny De Silva cleverly picked the pocket of Manny Muscat on the right hand side and floated a delightful ball across the goal, however it lacked a purple shirt to guide the ball home.
In the 23rd minute Phoenix hit the lead through Krishna. Louis Fenton was able to escape Jamieson on the left wing and whip in a lively ball. Risdon was able to get to the ball first but his clearance cannoned into the legs of Krishna and rebounded past Vukovic into the net.
Just over five minutes later, Glory replied in spectacular fashion. Zadkovich charged through the Wellington defence and let fly a devilish shot from beyond the 18 yard box. The ball crashed into the left hand post before nestling in the net behind an outstretched Moss.
Just before half time, Glory skipper Michael Thwaite charged forward before sending through a neat ball to Dragan Paljic whose shot was blocked by a desperate Phoenix defence.
Glory finished the half on level terms but was the stronger of the two sides.
Phoenix burst out the blocks after the break when Joel Griffiths surged into the box after an impressive run down the right, but Thwaite ushered the former Jets man to the touchline before tackling clinically to clear the danger.
Jamie Maclaren entered the fray in the 64th minute and after barely a minute on the lush nib Stadium surface, he found himself in space inside the 18 yard box. He let loose a curling effort but it went marginally wide of Moss’ right hand post.
With chances rare to come by for either side, Glory had a golden chance to take the lead through Andy Keogh in the 77th minute. The Irishman skinned two Phoenix defenders but saw his shot parried to safety by Moss.
A minute later and the complexion of the game took a turn for the worst for Glory. Krishna dribbled his way past the Glory defence before rifling a well-placed shot into the bottom corner of Danny Vukovic’s net.
With the ‘Nix leading 2-1 with ten minutes to play, Glory needed to produce something special to claim the point that would see them return to the top of the Hyundai A-League ladder for the 18th consecutive week.
Wellington went close to extending its lead in the 84th minute when Jason Hicks’ shot across Vukovic skimmed the face of the far post.
Deep in to injury time, Glory managed to sustain some pressure from two consecutive corners but it wasn’t enough for the Perth side who would finish the round below top spot for the first time in five months.
Kenny Lowe was left to rue his sides few, but costly errors.
"I think we can't give away those two goals when we're top of the table. We got hurt by two bad errors. We were more in the game in the second half."
Lowe was not convinced the result was a fair reflection of play but was confident the side had what it took to return to the top of the Hyundai A-League.
"We were in the ascendancy. Very tight game. Everybody has beaten everybody. There are more twists and turns to come,” he said.
"We're only one point off the top, we just need to regroup and refocus."
Perth Glory travel to the Central Coast next week to take on the Mariners, before returning to nib Stadium on March 28 to take on the Western Sydney Wanderers.
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GOALS: Roy KRISHNA 23’, 78', Ruben ZADKOVICH 29'
YELLOW CARD: Jason HICKS 80’
PERTH GLORY FC: 1. Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 5. Rostyn GRIFFITHS (11. Richard GARCIA 83’), 6. Dino DJULBIC, 8. Ruben ZADKOVICH, 9. Andy KEOGH, 10. Nebojsa MARINKOVIC, 19. Josh RISDON, 20. Daniel DE SILVA, 21. Scott JAMIESON, 23. Michael THWAITE (c), 27. Dragan PALJIC (15. Jamie MACLAREN 64’)
SUBS NOT USED: 14. Chris HAROLD, 18.Jack DUNCAN (gk), 28. Denis KRAMAR
COACH: Kenny LOWE
WELLINGTON PHOENIX: 1. Glen MOSS (gk), 2. Manny MUSCAT (5. Michael BOXALL 69’), 3. Joel GRIFFITHS (15. Jason HICKS 72’), 4. Roly BONEVACIA, 10. Michael McGLINCHEY (19. Thomas DOYLE 82’), 13. Albert RIERA, 16. Louis Fenton, 17. Vince LIA, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 21. Roy KRISHNA, 22. Andrew DURANTE (c)
SUBS NOT USED: 20. Lewis ITALIANO (gk), 29. Joel STEVENS
COACH: Ernie MERRICK
Referee: Chris BEATH
Assistant Referees: Josh MANNELLA& Matthew CHEESEMAN
Fourth Official: Adam FIELDING