Perth Glory started their PS4 National Premier League WA season in style, with a 4-1 win over Armadale at Alfred Skeet Oval at the weekend.
Joe Knowles was the star, the striker continuing his form from the Foxtel National Youth League, bagging a hat-trick, and Stefan Valentini adding the other, while Faustino Machochi scored the home sides’ goal.
“I think we matched them physically which allowed us to play our own game,” said Glory midfielder Dejan Spaseski, who was making his first start for the club in the competition.
“We let them back into the game with the equaliser but we showed great resolve to push on, and I am happy to get the three points in my NPL debut for the club.”
Glory coach John Gibson was happy with the performance especially after losing youngster Jesse Lazzaro early.
“We started really well and scored the opener, but had to re-adjust after losing Jesse to a knee injury after a poor tackle, and we wish him all the best in his recovery,” he said.
“It’s a good start and we’ve improved as a side from last season’s NPL, but we now we have a long way to go, and we now focus on our first home game of the season next week when we take on Stirling Lions at Inglewood Stadium.”
The early Glory pressure was rewarded with the lead on 17 minutes.
A clearance from defence was seized on by Spaseski, who played a great through ball into Knowles, one-on-one with former Glory Youth keeper Luke Radonich, and the striker finished clinically.
But on 28 minutes Lazzaro was carried off, and the Glory had to rearrange with Nic Talimdzioski coming on.
It was then that Armadale seized its opportunity and scored its first goal of the season. Machochi lost his marker in the penalty area, and fired low past Jordan Franken.
Both sides had chances for the rest of the half, but Radonich and Franken kept the scores level at the break.
After the break, Glory took control and hit the front again eight minutes in.
Skipper Jacob Collard's diagonal pass found Knowles, the home side looked for the offside flag but it never came, and the striker skipped past three defenders before firing past Radonich.
Armadale was still in the game but with Collard and former Reds defender Nathan Costello outstanding, they couldn’t find a way back into the game and nine minutes from time the Glory added a third.
Radonich’s clearance only fell to Valentini, who sent it back over the keepers head from 30-yards, for a sensational finish.
Then in the last minute Knowles completed his hat-trick. Collard found substitute Waliedin Ismail, who raced into the area and slid the ball into Knowles, who was brought down, but found the back of the net.
However referee David Bruce pointed to the spot and Knowles had to pick himself up to convert past Radonich from the resulting penalty to make it 4-1 and complete a well-earned hat-trick.
Knowles, who was the leading scorer for the club in the Foxtel National Youth League, was happy to contribute to a good first up win.
“It’s a great start for us, and we’ve now got to back up next week against Stirling,” said Knowles.
“We created some good chances today, but we had to defend well as they put us under some pressure late in the first half.
“We’re not getting carried away, yes it’s a good start but its early days and we have to improve.”
The Glory is next in action on Saturday 11th April, against Stirling Lions at Inglewood Stadium.