Perth Glory Coach John Gibson was full of praise for his young side, despite a 4-1 loss to Floreat Athena, in week 12 of the PS4 National Premier League on Sunday at Inglewood Stadium.
Floreat sit second on the table, and have a number of experienced ex-professional players in their ranks and Gibson said his players will learn from playing against them.
“We conceded from three set pieces today, but they are a physical side, and we are playing in a men’s competition, so it’s a great experience for our young players to go up against them and will learn a great deal from that,” he said.
“We’ve gained a great deal of credibility this season from other clubs, as we’ve competed in every game this season, and that was our objective in the summer. But it would be nice for the players to be rewarded on the scoreboard for some of their performances this season.”
"The clubs in the NPL all have players that have played at high standard in the UK, and today Lewis McMahon, Steve Burton, Bobby Wilson and Kris Gate, to name a few, have played at a high level in the game and that's fantastic for the boys to be up against that calibre of player.”
The coach said injuries to strikers have been hard for them this season, but he said it’s given the younger players the opportunity to step up.
“To lose Joe Knowles, our top scorer in the Foxtel National Youth League for most of the season was a huge blow, and we’ve struggled in the final third all season,” he said.
“But the young players who have come in will learn a great deal, and it was nice to see 17-year-old Michael McDougall score his first senior goal for the club today, and the players continue to be positive moving forward".
“The program we have at the club is excellent and credit to the coaching staff we’ve got here. Jacob Burns, Bobby Despotovski, Steven McGarry, Callum Salmon and David Butterfield have all been excellent in developing the players up through the groups, and all the players feel part of the club which is great.”
In team news, the Glory regained the services of Tom King this week and he slipped into the back four in place of Nathan Costello who was unavailable, while Sam Mackernan came in for McDougall who dropped to the bench.
The Glory, who drew 2-2, in the reverse fixture on Anzac Day, were quick out of the blocks, and on two minutes Gian Albano shot flashed over the top.
Then on ten minutes, Glory skipper Jacob Collard saw his free kick crash off the crossbar and away to safety.
But two minutes later, in their first attack Floreat hit the front. Ludovic Boi’s corner found Arnold at the back post, who lost his marker, and he bundled the ball home.
Floreat were now on top and Glory keeper Jordan Franken produced a stunning one handed save to deny Arnold again moments later.
The Glory had plenty of possession, but was struggling in the final third, Slobodan Vulin had their best chance, but his free kick was straight at Floreat keeper Fraser Greenwood.
Franken was keeping his side in the game and on the stroke of half time the Glory custodian produced another great save, this time tipping Jon Stynes’ shot on the turn and onto the crossbar.
Floreat doubled their advantage six minutes into the second half. Collard and Steve Burton had a push and shove in the penalty area, and referee Daniel Elder, pointed to the spot, unfortunately missing the first shirt tug.
McMahon stepped up and finished low in the right hand corner of the net, despite Franken guessing right and getting a hand to it.
Floreat were now dictating terms and they made it 3-0 on the hour. Glory failed to clear their lines and McMahon volleyed home from nine metres.
The Glory youngsters continued to press and they were back in the game on 82 minutes. Second half substitute McDougall wasn’t closed down, and his long-range shot flew into the bottom corner of the net, for his first goal for the Glory senior side.
But Floreat restored their three goal advantage three minutes from time, in controversial circumstances.
Dennis Galan made space down the right, his cross picked out Jon Stynes, whose superb volley crashed off the crossbar, bounced on the line and back into the hands of Franken, but the assistant said the ball had crossed the line, but it was a close call.
McDougall was delighted to have scored his first goal for the club in the NPL.
“We moved the ball around nicely today, but we still need to work on a number of things, but we are improving each week,” he said.
“I was really stoked to score the goal and I’d like to thank the coaching staff for giving me the opportunity, and I was glad to repay some of the faith they have in me.”
“The under 18’s and under 20’s players are making the step up to first team football well, and again it’s down to the quality coaches we have in the program and it’s obviously working and we’re developing well.”
In other games on the day Callum Salmon’s under 18’s were beaten 2-1 by Floreat Athena, with Rhett De Silva scoring for Glory but the youn guns are still three points clear at the top of the table.
Bobby Despotovski’s under 20’s also maintained their lead at the top of the table with a 4-0 win against Floreat Athena, Losene Dulleh scoring a brace, with singles to Dilan White and Michael McDougall.
Perth Glory 1 (McDougall 82 mins)
Floreat Athena 4 (Arnold 12 mins, McMahan 52’, 60’, Stynes 88’)
Sunday 28 June 2015
Venue: Inglewood Stadium, Inglewood
Referee: Daniel Elder (South Australia)
Assistants: Josh Nixon and Alex Best
Perth Glory: GK Jordan FRANKEN, 2 Gian ALBANO, 3 Jacob COLLARD (c), 4 Tom KING (12 Waliedin ISMAIL 59’), 5 Ali GHOLAMI, 6 Calvin WHITNEY, 7 Sam MACKEARNAN (13 Michael MCDOUGALL 65’), 8 Dejan SPASESKI, 9 Nikola TALIMDZIOSKI, 10 Slobodan VULIN, 11 Daniel STYNES (15 Hayden STEVENS 73’)
Subs not used: 14 Henry DURR
Yellow Cards: Albano 27’, Vulin 29’, Collard 51’, Whitney 84’
Floreat Athena: GK Fraser GREENWOOD, 2 Blair GOVAN, 4 Aryn WILLIAMS, 5 Bobby WILSON, 8 Jonathan STYNES, 11 Dennis GALAN, 12 Kris GATE (6 Clayton ARNEZ 75’), 14 Ludovic BOI (c), 18 Phillip ARNOLD (10 Andrew SCALDEFERRO 69’), 19 Steve BURTON (16 Andrew XYDAS 84’), 20 Lewis MCMAHON
Subs not used: RGK Jordan BARBAS, 15 Greg HART
Yellow Cards: McMahon 40’, Galan 48’