Keogh header keeps finals hopes alive

Andy Keogh's first-half header proved the difference as Glory kept their finals hopes well and truly alive with a hard-fought, 1-0 win over in-form Melbourne Victory at nib Stadium.

A lively opening period saw both sides create plenty of chances, with Diego Castro twice going close and the returning Liam Reddy producing an acrobatic save to deny Leroy George at the other end.

The game's decisive moment arrived just short of the break, however, when Keogh rose to the occasion by meeting Scott Neville's cross with a superb header which found the top corner of the net.

Victory pushed hard late on, with even'keeper Lawrence Thomas racing forward for set-pieces in the dying stages, but the hosts'defence held firm to claim all three points. 

The victory, Glory's fourth on the bounce at home, leaves them just one point outside the top six with three games left, the first of which takes place on Thursday when champions-elect Sydney FC visit nib Stadium.

Perth began the contest full of energy and hunger, with the side clearly mindful that their finals chances hung in the balance. Castro was as busy as ever on his return, the Spaniard enjoying plenty of touches in the final third, but he was ultimately unable to break the deadlock early on.

Victory gradually forced their way into the match with Berisha and George causing problems for the Glory defence. The latter's vicious volley forced Reddy into a stunning save after 23 minutes, but after braving the Victory storm, Glory took the lead through their skipper.

Scott Neville's perfectly-timed challenge on Kosta Barbarouses allowed the full-back to deliver a cross into the area and Keogh's powerful header gave Thomas no chance.

Glory began the second-half where they left off, with Keogh coming agonisingly close to doubling the lead from six yards. The Irishman's outstretched leg diverted the ball on target from Xavi Torres' driven cross, but Thomas did well to smother the chance and Rhys Williams then cleared the bouncing ball off the line.

Perth refused to rest on the laurels as they continued to press for a second, Torres forcing Thomas into a great diving save with a strike from just inside the area.

To their credit, Victory fought gallantly to even the ledger, with wave after wave of dangerous crosses and set-pieces testing the Glory defence late on.

But it was a test the home rearguard passed with flying colours, with right-back Neville's outstanding contribution throughout earning the defender Man of the Match honours.

Match Details

Perth Glory 1 (Keogh 44') Melbourne Victory 0

Half-time 1-0

Attendance: 7796

Referee: Adam Fielding

Perth Glory: 33. Liam REDDY (GK), 4. Shane LOWRY, 7. Joel CHIANESE (14. Chris HAROLD 60'), 8. Xavi TORRES, 9. Andy KEOGH (C), 16. Joseph MILLS, 17. Diego CASTRO (2. Alex GRANT 82'), 18. ANDREU (22. Adam TAGGART 60'), 23. Scott NEVILLE, 66. Dino DJULBIC, 88. Neil KILKENNY 

Unused substitutes: 13. Nick FEELY (GK), 20. Jake BRIMMER

Yellow cards: Keogh 7', Djulbic 32', Neville 66'

Melbourne Victory: 20. Lawrence THOMAS (GK), 4. Rhys WILLIAMS, 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 8. Besart BERISHA, 9. Kosta BARBAROUSES, 14. Thomas DENG (16. Josh HOPE 83'), 17. James DONACHIE, 18. Matias SANCHEZ (31. Christian THEOHAROUS 65'), 21. Carl VALERI (C), 24. Terry ANTONIS, 41. Leroy GEORGE (22. Stefan NIGRO 84')

Unused substitutes: 1. Matthew ACTON (GK), 7. Kenjok ATHIU

Yellow cards: George 32', Broxham 90+4'