Gold Coast edge past glory

A first-half goal from Jason Culina proved enough to retain the Iron Ore Cup for Gold Coast United and consign Glory to their first defeat of the season.

A first-half goal from Jason Culina proved enough to retain the Iron Ore Cup for Gold Coast United and consign Glory to their first defeat of the season.

For all their endeavour, Dave Mitchell-s men were unable to break down a superbly-organised United defence in which Kristian Rees, Michael Thwaite and former Glory favourite Dino Djulbic were outstanding.

Glory have been consistently quick out of the blocks this season and they continued that positive trend by carving out the game-s first goalscoring opportunity with barely sixty seconds on the clock. Naum Sekulovski-s quick free-kick caught the visitors napping and Jacob Burns was unfortunate to see his low cross-shot blocked by debutant Bruce Djite. From the resulting corner, Robbie Fowler got above his marker but was narrowly off-target with a powerful header.

“It-s disappointing to lose at home but we did not deserve to win.

“We will put it down as an off day and we didn-t have enough players at the races,” Mitchell said.

United goalkeeper Glen Moss was then forced to make a regulation save from Adriano Pellegrino and also gathered a strike from Mile Sterjovksi after the former Socceroo had pounced on his under-hit goal kick.

Having recovered from their uncertain start, the Queenslanders gradually began to force their way into the game, with their five-man midfield adopting an abrasive approach that seemed to catch Glory slightly by surprise. Burns and Zenon Caravella became embroiled in a running feud in the engine room and referee Matthew Breeze became the busiest man on the field as the game became increasingly fractious.

For all that, United were not looking especially threatening in the final third and it therefore came as something of a shock when Jason Culina put them ahead on 23 minutes. Steve Fitzsimmons drifted in a searching cross from the right which Culina headed powerfully goalward and although Tando Velaphi produced a superb reflex block to keep out that initial header, the Socceroo midfielder was not to be denied and duly lashed home the rebound.

Culina could and perhaps should have doubled his side-s advantage moments later when Adama Traore-s pace and trickery saw him elude Scott Neville and pull the ball back across goal, but the United skipper skied his shot wastefully over the bar.

A string of petty fouls marked the rest of the opening period, with referee Breeze just about keeping a lid on some simmering tempers and neither side managing to create anything meaningful in front of goal.

Half-time: Perth Glory 0-1 Gold Coast United

The break probably came at a good time for the increasingly exasperated home side and they began the second-half in lively fashion with Steven McGarry going close to restoring parity just two minutes in. Fowler was the architect, clipping the ball neatly into the Scot-s path as he raced into the box, but Moss was out sharply and blocked smartly with his feet.

Culina did have the ball in the net again for the visitors on the hour mark, only to have his effort ruled out for offside, while at the other end, Fowler fired over after linking up cleverly with Sterjovski on the edge of the box.

With Gold Coast now defending deep and in numbers, Dave Mitchell responded by introducing Andy Todd from the bench, switching to a back three and pushing Jamie Harnwell into attack and shortly afterwards really went for broke by replacing McGarry with Branko Jelic.

The home side cranked up the pressure as the clock ticked down, dominating in terms of both possession and territory, but United showed great tenacity to weather the storm and cling to their slender advantage. Dino Djulbic producing a towering display on his return to his hometown club and it was little wonder that the former Glory man was the first player hugged by jubilant coach Miron Bleiberg when referee Breeze signalled the end to a frustrating afternoon for the home side.