Leading from the back
Perth Glory defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley has regained the form that won him the club’s best player award last season and in the process helped the club's previously under-fire defence establish itself as a lean, mean, goal-stopping machine.
Perth Glory defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley has regained the form that won him the club-s best player award last season and in the process helped the club's previously under-fire defence establish itself as a lean, mean, goal-stopping machine.
Speaking at the Glory's recovery session on Monday morning following a 2-0 victory over the Phoenix, Topor-Stanley said Perth's second clean sheet of the season had eased some of the pressure on a defence which had leaked 23 goals over the first nine matches of this campaign.
"It was a solid performance by the boys," Topor-Stanley said of the win.
"It wasn't really the prettiest football we've played, but at the end of the day it's about results and we're pretty happy with it.
"As a team we haven't performed defensively as well as we'd like to, but the clean sheet has taken a bit of pressure off our shoulders."
The team's increasing defensive solidity has coincided with a reshuffle at the back that has seen Topor-Stanley moved into the heart of defence while the return of former Socceroo Hayden Foxe has also had a significant impact.
Although Foxe was absent on Sunday, as coach Dave Mitchell opted to be cautious with his defender who's been suffering from hamstring soreness, fellow stopper Dino Djulbic returned to the central role and combined with Topor-Stanley to great effect.
While the early part of the season has seen plenty of movements through the back third due to injury and suspension, Topor-Stanley said the players had become accustomed to the weekly variance and were in a good frame of mind to cope with anything thrown their way.
"You've just got to concentrate on staying solid," Topor-Stanley said when asked how difficult it was to adjust to numerous selection changes.
"It's not ideal but we're not professional footballers for nothing and we have to deal with it."
The club-s next test will come from Newcastle and last season-s Hyundai A-League leading scorer Joel Griffiths. The match on Sunday at Members Equity Stadium takes on even more significance with the Glory and Jets locked on 10 points apiece.
While Griffiths and the Jets are always dangerous the Glory-s back four won't have to worry about Ecuadorian striker Edmundo Zura who left Newcastle on Monday afternoon citing personal reasons for his decision to return to South America.
Topor-Stanley, though, just wants to ensure the Glory extends their winning run at home, currently three matches, and establish Members Equity Stadium as a genuine fortress against opposition raids.
"We're equal on points now with Newcastle, we've jut got to take what we have been doing over the last few weeks into this game and hopefully we'll win again," he said.
"We're not going to make it easy for anyone who makes the trip over and that's what we're really concentrating on, keeping the home record and making it as difficult as possible for travelling teams to come here."