Perth Glory have put in strong all-round performance against Perth Soccer Club but were edged 2-1 in the Week 18 of the PS4 National Premier League WA.
Playing at Ashfield Arena, the visitors led 2-0 at the break with goals from Niccolo Sabatini and Jordan De Leo, but Glory's youngsters fought back. Yacoub Mustafa pulled one back, but try as they could, Glory couldn’t find the equaliser against the 2016 League Champions.
Mustafa said it was a game they deserved something from, but it wasn’t to be.
“Yes it was a disappointing result, we really believed that we could have got the win because we had a created some good chances,” he said.
“But unfortunately we weren't clinical enough in the front third to get the goals we deserved, but it was a good response after half time.”
It was the midfielder’s first every goal for Glory, and he said he was hoping it could lift the side to victory.
“I was really confident when I took the shot and believed I could score if I kept making those forward runs,” he explained.
“When I scored I hoped it would get us back into the game, but unfortunately we didn't end up getting the win.
"Fair play to our boys for putting in a good shift against a good Perth side.”
Glory Coach John Gibson said the second half performance was strong and they could have taken something from the game, but that his side needs to cut out the errors that cost them in the first half.
“Another super effort from the young side, and we really took the game to Perth in the second half, but we had a 15 minute period that ultimately cost us,” he said.
“It’s a huge learning curve for these young players, and with an average age of about 17, they are learning you can’t mistakes at this level and win games.
“We’ve had major changes with our roster, which always happens, but it’s provided opportunities for our younger players and they haven’t let us down - we just entrust them.”
Gibson was a little disappointed the way they conceded the two goals, but was happy with the response of the players after half time.
“We conceded a silly penalty and another set piece, which in particular is frustrating as we have focused tirelessly on defending set-pieces at training.
“But the positive reaction after halftime was really pleasing, we took the game to Perth and scored and had chances of our own.
"But with us pressing to get another goal, you are prone to being vulnerable in certain areas - yet we recovered well to negate their chances.
“We now look ahead to next week with a nice trip to Geraldton against Sorrento, another test but one we’ll relish, but obviously we need to turn strong, competitive performances into results.”
Gibson made two changes to the side that drew at Balcatta last week with Cameron Murray missing due to injury and he was replaced by Luca Bodnar, while Michael Domfeh came in for Gomo Dukuly, who moved to the bench.
It was a tight opening to the game, with early chances few and far between, the best falling to De Leo, whose long-range strike whistled over the top.
But on 22 minutes the visitors were awarded a penalty when De Leo was brought down by Bodnar, and referee Nico Hoyle had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Italian winger Sabatini made no mistake from the resulting penalty, despite McDonald going the right way.
Sabatini was in again moments later, but his shot from the angle hits the side netting, before new Perth SC signing Lewis Milne’s volley was well saved by Kyle McDonald.
Glory skipper Daniel Stynes went close to the equaliser on the half hour, after Callum Timmins free kick picked him out in the box, but his goal bound shot is blocked and cleared.
But three minutes later the visitors doubled their advantage. Sabatini’s corner found De Leo, who lost his marker and headed home past McDonald.
Glory looked to hit back immediately and Jack Leech’s long-range shot flashed wide, before Timmins played in Domfeh, but Perth keeper Francis Soale was out to save.
It was a brighter start to the second half for the Glory and they reduced the margin five minutes in. Timmins played a one-two with Mustafa in the penalty area, and the midfielder drilled his shot past Soale.
It was an entertaining game with both sides creating chances, Gustavo Catarcione fired over the top, and Bodnar got back with a last ditch tackle to deny Sabatini, before Glory substitute Gomo Dukuly’s effort flew wide of the target.
McDonald then produced a stunning save to Deny Catarcione close-range shot, after the Brazilian was played in by Milne.
Glory pressed late looking for the equaliser and it almost came in the final minute, a cross into penalty area picked out Dukuly, but his header sailed over the top.