Perth Glory FC has extended its lead at the top of the Hyundai A-League by a solid seven points, after a sublime performance, defeating rivals Melbourne Victory 2-1 at Simonds Stadium in Geelong.
Two quick goals in less than 20 minutes, the first a clinical finish from Andy Keogh in the 9’ and then an elegant goal by Chris Harold in the 16’, set Glory in a commanding position for the rest of the game.
The match was billed as a high octane thriller and it delivered that and more.
From the kick-off, Victory looked to press early but Glory’s defence was resilient moving the ball from defence to attack which is exactly how Glory produced its first goal. Nebo Marinkovic-who returned after a bout with the flu last week- delivered a perfectly weighted ball to Keogh, who shrugged off his defender and shot the ball past Nathan Coe into the back of the net.
It was somewhat an unexpected lead but it showed the Irishman’s skill and talent as he registered his eighth goal of the season.
Harold then produced one of the finest goals of the season, who thanks to another well threaded ball from Marinkovic, nipped in front of a rushing Coe and dribbled around him and shot the ball into the net, silencing the 21-thousand strong crowd.
As expected Kevin Muscat’s men didn’t capitulate. Victory attacked in waves and Archie Thompson almost pegged one back in the 27’ when he found himself one-on-one with Danny Vukovic but the Perth stalwart put his body on the line and blocked the shot.
Victory’s sharp shooters Kosta Barbarouses and Besart Berisha carved openings but yet again Glory showed why it’s one of the best defensive units in Australian football, cancelling every threat.
The second half picked up where the first 45 left off. But momentum swung towards Victory’s way when Guilherme Finker was awarded a dubious penalty in the 58', when he was allegedly fouled in the box by Scott Jamieson.
Berisha stepped up and converted the spot kick to reduce Glory’s lead.
Minutes later Berisha shot low and right in the middle of the goal but Danny Vukovic was already off his line and made the save.
Keogh could have added another in the 65’ but fired straight into the path of Coe who saved.
It was end to end drama as Vukovic, who again was forced to come off his line closed down Barbarouses who was certain to score.
The final 20 minutes were literally a battlefield. Keogh sustained a cut lip requiring two stitches after a clash with Adrian Leijer and had to wear a bandage around his jaw as Glory desperately defended their lead against a hungry Melbourne side that was desperate to inch closer to the top of the table.
But it was to be a glorious victory for the Western Australians who, nearing the mid-season break cemented their spot at the top of the table.
Coach Kenny Lowe again praised the character of his boys after the match.
“I thought the first 20 we were quality and then we just boxed them in and shut it off…I thought the two full backs were magnificent" he said.
“We are where we are, because we earned it…everyone’s in it for eachother, the two goals were magnificent, the through balls, both of them from Nebo were brilliant and the finishes were brilliant" he said.
Lowe also added old fashioned values played a big part in the team’s makeup so far.
“I think the words of work ethic and blue collar and character they’re part and parcel of this game and we’re trying to lay some foundation in this team and a lot of people want us to put the roof and windows on before the foundation is down..We need to get better I want to get better that’s what we got to do as a group” he stressed.
Glory now remain unbeaten in 10 matches and sits at the top of the league for the 10th consecutive week.
Perth host FFA cup winners Adelaide United on Monday, Jan 5 at nib stadium for the ultimate grudge match.
It will be the last game before the season breaks for the Asian Cup for three weeks.
Scorers: A Keogh 9' C. Harold 16' B. Berisha 58', P
Yellow Cards: J. Risdon 19' S. Jamieson 29' R. Zadkovich 52' C Valeri 55' A. Leijer 82' J. Geria 83'
Perth Glory FC Squad: 1.Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 2.Jack CLISBY, 3. Brandon O’NEIL, 5.Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 6.Dino DJULBIC, 8.Ruben ZADKOVICH, 9.Andy KEOGH,(90' 16.Sidnei SCIOLA), 10.Nebojsa MARINKOVIC (90+1" 2.Jack CLISBY) 11.Richard GARCIA, 14.Chris HAROLD (69', 15.Jamie MACLAREN, 16.Sidnei SCIOLA, 18. Jack DUNCAN (gk) 19.Josh RISDON, 20.Daniel DE SILVA, 21.Scott JAMIESON, 23.Michael THWAITE (c) 24.
Subs: 18. Jack DUNCAN(gk) 22. Cameron EDWARDS
Melbourne Victory: 1 Nathan COE 2 Jason GERIA, 4 Nick ANSELL, 6 Leigh BROXHAM,7, Guilherme FINKLER, 8 Besart BERISHA, 9 Kosta BARBAROUSES (69' 11Connor PAIN), 10 Archie THOMPSON, 21. Carl VALERI, 23 Andrei LEIJER, 24. Scott GALLOWAY,
SUBS : 13. A Nabbout, 18. D Murnane 20. L Thomas 22. J Makarounas