Last-gasp winner keeps Glory top

Glory have opened up a four-point lead at the top of the Hyundai A-League ladder after a stoppage-time goal from Chris Ikonomidis secured a thrilling 3-2 win over Central Coast Mariners at nib Stadium.

Ikonomidis gave the hosts an early lead with his first goal of the afternoon before a Tomislav Mrcela own-goal allowed the Mariners to go in level at the break.

Shane Lowry then marked his 50th club A-League appearance in style by heading Glory back in front only for Aiden O'Neill's fine strike to restore parity for a second time just after the hour-mark.

The Mariners subsequently lost Kalifa Cisse to a second yellow card, however and were unable to hang on as  Ikonomidis found the roof of the net right at the death to secure the win for the men in purple.

Neil Kilkenny claimed the man-of-the-match honours with a superb midfield performance that featured a hand in all three goals and there was another positive for Glory in the form of skipper Diego Castro making his first appearance of the season off the bench.

The moments that mattered...

Head Coach Tony Popovic was understandably delighted with his side's fourth win of the campaign and felt that they were good value for the three points.

"The euphoria was very high, as it always is when you win a game so late," he said.

"It was a great win for us. Central Coast were very resilient. I thought we were on top for long periods, but when we scored, they came back into it quickly and scored themselves.

"It was a great response from us to pick ourselves up again, get control of the game again, stay patient and eventually get the win.

"It was a tough win, but one I thought we deserved."

Popa's presser in full

Glory had already threatened the Mariners goal several times before opening the scoring in the 12th minute.

Neil Kilkenny's delightful chip was crossed first-time by Joel Chianese and Ikonomidis applied a composed finish from close range.

The lively Chianese then went close himself, just failing to hit the target with a header after being picked out by the overlapping Ivan Franjic, before a low shot from Keogh drifted narrowly wide of the far post.

At that point, it seemed only a matter of time before the second goal arrived for Glory, but instead it was the visitors who levelled things up completely against the run of play.

Andrew Hoole delivered the cross from the right and in his attempt to clear it, the luckless Mrcela only succeeded in diverting the ball past a stranded Liam Reddy.  

The first meaningful action of the second half saw Ikonomidis flash a right-foot effort narrowly wide after good approach work from Franjic.

Glory were not to be denied for long, however, Lowry heading home a Kilkenny cross on the hour-mark to make it 2-1 before racing off to celebrate his third goal for the club in front of The Shed.

And yet, just as they had in the first half, Mike Mulvey's men hit back, this time O'Neill finding the top corner with an impressively measured strike from outside the box. 

Cisse's dismissal for a foul on Ikonomidis duly swung the momentum back in Glory's direction and urged on by a vocal home support, Popovic's men continued their habit of scoring late goals as Kilkenny delivered from the left and Ikonomidis timed his run perfectly to slam the ball home.

Match Details

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Perth Glory 3 (Ikonomidis 12', 90+5' Lowry 61') Central Coast Mariners 2 (Mrcela o.g. 36', O'Neill 64')

Half-time: 1-1

nib Stadium, Perth

Attendance: 10,417

Referee: Jarred Gillett

Assistant Referee 1: Josh Mannella

Assistant Referee 2: Arvin Shanmuganathan

Fourth Official: Adam Fielding

VAR: Kris Griffiths-Jones

Perth Glory:  33.Liam REDDY (gk), 2.Alex GRANT (6.Dino DJULBIC 46'), 3.Jason DAVIDSON, 4.Shane LOWRY, 5.Ivan FRANJIC, 7.Joel CHIANESE (17.Diego CASTRO 74'), 9.Andy KEOGH, 15.Brandon WILSON (20.Jake BRIMMER 79'), 16.Tomislav MRCELA, 19.Chris IKONOMIDIS, 88.Neil KILKENNY

Substitutes not used: 1.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 22.Fabio FERREIRA

Yellow cards: Keogh, Lowry, Davidson

Red cards: Nil

Central Coast Mariners: 1.Ben KENNEDY (gk), 3.Jack CLISBY, 5.Antony GOLEC, 7.Andrew HOOLE (8.Michael McGLINCHEY 62'), 11.Connor PAIN (19.Matt SIMON 87'), 13.Aiden O’NEILL, 15.Kye ROWLES, 18.Matt MILLAR (25.Jordan MURRAY 78'), 20.Kalifa CISSE, 22.Jacob MELLING,  44.Ross McCORMACK

Substitutes not used: 4.Jake McGING, 12.Adam PEARCE (gk) 

Yellow cards: Melling, Cisse

Red cards: Cisse

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