Harnwell secures point for Perth

Perth Glory favourite Jamie Harnwell made a spectacular return to first-team action by firing home from close range to secure a share of the spoils against Brisbane Roar at ME Bank Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Perth Glory favourite Jamie Harnwell made a spectacular return to first-team action by firing home from close range to secure a share of the spoils against Brisbane Roar at ME Bank Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Harnwell had spent more than two months on the sidelines with a knee injury but was introduced into attack as a second half substitute. As he has done many times before the talismanic utility man tormented the opposition defence and delivered a crucial goal for Perth.

Introduced just before the hour mark he needed only 20 minutes on the pitch to make his presence felt and popped up to squeeze a shot under Roar goalkeeper Griffin McMaster and into the back of the net via the foot of the post.

“Coming on I was taking deep breaths on the sidelines because I knew it was such a big chance and it-s been a long time coming for me,” Harnwell said.

“The way the game was panning out the opportunity was there for me.

“Having the two injuries one after the other always puts doubts in the back of your mind whether you can come back and perform at the level you want to and be involved in the way to want to. You do get those doubts but I-ve been pretty lucky that I-ve come back probably earlier than most people expected and come back in a bit of form as well so I was pretty happy,” said Harnwell.

“I wanted to put a case forward for a place in the starting 11 and for being here next year. It-s a huge relief and a huge weight off my shoulders.”

The leveller was a just reward for Glory who dominated the first-half and then again laid siege to the visitors- goal in the latter stages of the second, going close on several occasions to snatching a dramatic winner.

A back problem saw Chris Coyne pull out of the side prompting a reshuffle of the back four with Scott Neville coming in at right-back and Jamie Coyne moving into the heart of the defence alongside Andy Todd.

Glory immediately set their stall out and looked to pressure the Roar defence with some free flowing football. Dutchman Victor Sikora continued his excellent season and was the main distributor for the home side in the early stages.

The visitors did manage to create a couple of early half-chances for Sergio van Dijk and Mitch Nicholls but it was Glory who carved out most of the genuine goal scoring opportunities of the afternoon.

Perth-s best opportunity of the first half coming in quick succession for striker Branko Jelic and industrious midfielder Adriano Pellegrino. Jelic outjumping his marker to head an inch perfect cross on target but it hit the cross bar and rebounded to Pellegrino but his follow-up effort fell straight into the hands of McMaster.

Four minutes later Sikora-s persistence teed up another chance for Jelic, but this time McMaster got a hand to his 20 metre drive and tipped it away at the expense of a corner. The action then immediately switched to the other goalmouth as the visitors broke swiftly and Glory were grateful to Neville for a superb sliding challenge that foiled Nicholls as he prepared to pull the trigger.

McMaster was again his side-s saviour just short of the half-hour, racing from his line to smother Pellegrino-s effort after the midfielder had been picked out by Sikora as Perth continued to find holes in Brisbane-s defence.

For all their endeavour Perth couldn-t secure the break though and with the Roar refreshed at half time it was the visitors who found the opener through Luke DeVere.

The defender slotting home from close range after Henrique-s in-swinging corner was headed down by Josh McCloughan.

The Glory needed a hero and one was delivered as Harnwell duly strode onto centre stage in the 57th minute. He instantly ruffled a few feathers with his physical presence, duelling several times in the air with Craig Moore, and after Tando Velaphi-s alertness prevented van Dijk from doubling Roar-s advantage, Harnwell opened his account for the season.

Fellow-substitute Todd Howarth swung in a superb cross from the left, Pellegrino headed it down and Harnwell bustled in between two defenders to get the crucial touch before celebrating in front of a delirious Shed.

It was backs to the wall time for Ange Postecoglou-s side in the latter stages as Glory threw everything forward in search of a winner and it so nearly arrived in the very last minute of normal time.

Howarth showed great technique to bend an angled shot goal ward with the outside of his left foot but the overworked McMaster somehow managed to get a fingertip on it and deflect the ball wide.

“I-m happy with a draw in the end but overall I-m disappointed we couldn-t get the three points,” said Coach Dave Mitchell.

“I don-t think we were as sharp as we could have been in the final third. I felt that there were a few players that just weren-t on song today and that was reflected in some of the sloppy passing we had out there.

“There are always positives to take out of a game. I guess in the past we probably wouldn-t have come back and got something out of the game, so that was good, as was Jamie-s successful return.

“I know he-s a threat up front and we didn-t look like we were creating much up there and I felt it was time for Jamie Harnwell and he delivered,” said Mitchell.

Hyundai A-League 2009/10 - Rd 17

Perth Glory 1 (Jamie HARNWELL 78-) Brisbane Roar 1 (Luke DEVERE 52-) Sunday, 6 December 2009 at ME Bank Stadium, Perth

Referee: Strebre Delovski Assistant referee: Michael Nugus and Josh Manella Fourth official: Steven Gregory

Crowd: 7217

Perth Glory: 1.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 3.Jamie COYNE, 4.Andy TODD, 7.Jacob BURNS (c), 8.Victor SIKORA (28.Tommy AMPHLETT 78-), 10.Wayne SRHOJ, 11.Branko JELIC (5.Jamie HARNWELL 57-), 12.Scott NEVILLE, 16.Adriano PELLEGRINO, 19.Naum SEKULOVSKI (17.Todd HOWARTH 66-), 21.Mile STERJOVSKI

Substitutes Not Used: 20.Aleks VRTESKI (gk) Yellow cards: Scott NEVILLE 90-+2 Red cards: Nil

Brisbane Roar: 2.Andrew PACKER, 3.Craig MOORE (c), 4.Luke DEVERE (12.Matthew MUNDY 61-), 5.Josh McCLOUGHAN, 6.David DODD, 9.Sergio VAN DIJK, 13.HENRIQUE (25.Luke BRATTAN 75-), 14.Adam SAROTA, 17.Mitch NICHOLS, 20.Griffin McMASTER (gk), 21.Tommy OAR (7.Michael ZULLO 54-)

Substitutes Not Used: 1.Liam REDDY (gk) Yellow cards: Michael ZULLO 87- Red cards: Nil