Niki’s double not enough

A sensational second half brace from in form striker Nikita Rukavytsya looked set to take Perth Glory to a deserved victory against Central Coast but the home side had to be content with a point after the Mariners grabbed a dramatic equaliser on Saturday night.

A sensational second half brace from in form striker Nikita Rukavytsya looked set to take Perth Glory to a deserved victory against Central Coast but the home side had to be content with a point after the Mariners grabbed a dramatic equaliser on Saturday night.

There has been no shortage of stoppage-time drama at Members Equity Stadium this season and that trend continued as Sasho Petrovski delivered a controversial last-gasp leveller.

Trailing at the half, Glory came out full of fight in the second period with Rukavytsya-s double giving the home fans plenty to cheer about. A vital three points were within touching distance before being cruelly snatched from Glory-s grip as substitute Petrovski snuck behind the defence to tumble his shot past Tando Velaphi as calls for off-side fell on deaf ears.

“We came back well in the second half, played some good football and our second goal was a classic,” Coach Dave Mitchell said.

“That-s why it is so disappointing for the club, the owners, the fans and the coaches and players that we haven-t been able to shut them out.

“It is gut-wrenching for the players, we-ve been playing well but just can-t hold onto a lead and in the end it-s not good enough.”

The equalising goal came in the final minute of stoppage time when a miss-hit shot from Dylan Macallister fell kindly for Petrovski at the far post and he slid in to secure a share of the spoils.

Glory striker Eugene Dadi, who was restored to partner Rukavytsya up front, played a key role throughout the match and left little doubt about the disappointment felt by the players after letting a golden opportunity slip.

“What happened today is not acceptable and everyone in the change room is down and we can only blame ourselves,” Dadi said.

“We have done too many mistakes this season and today we are in a position where we have to blame ourselves for what went on and it-s not a great feeling.”

Adrian Trinidad was again positioned on the left and tormented the Mariners defence throughout the game. The midfielder almost scored himself after skilfully crafting his way into the box but was denied by the woodwork. The Argentinean steered a great shot past the outstretched hand of Mariners keeper Danny Vukovic only to see the ball hit the near post and ricochet along the goal line.

Clear-cut chances may have been at a premium during the opening exchanges, but Glory looked likelier to break the deadlock with Rukavytsya dropping a little deeper than normal and using his close skill and searing pace to ask plenty of questions of the Mariners- defence.

The Mariners have carved out a reputation as one of the most dangerous counter-attacking sides in the competition and despite being starved of meaningful possession for the first half-hour they took the lead in spectacular style on 31 minutes. A free kick on the edge of the box saw Mile Jedinak step up, as he did at Blue Tongue Stadium when the two sides met earlier in the season, to curl the ball over the wall and into the far corner of the net.

Glory come out in a purposeful manner in the second half with midfielder Wayne Srhoj testing Vukovic-s reflexes within the first two minutes. It was largely one-way traffic and the Mariners eventually bowed to the pressure on 54 minutes.

As he has done so often this season, Rukavytsya used his incredible acceleration and pace to race clear of a flat-footed Mariners backline to calmly drill a well-struck shot into the back of the net.

Glory pressed home their advantage and got their noses in front just eight minutes later when Trinidad and Dadi combined cleverly on the edge of the box to tee up Rukavytsya who bagged his eighth goal of the campaign with a crisp low drive.

Rukavytsya then came agonisingly close to securing a maiden Hyundai A-League hat-trick but was denied at point blank range by Vukovic.

Central Coast defender Nigel Boogaard saw red for a poorly-timed challenge on the effervescent Trinidad in the 90th minute and it seemed as though the Glory-s effort were to be rewarded. However a last gasp goal again changed the course of the game, and this time it was the home side left to ponder what might have been.


Perth Glory 2 (Rukavytsya 54-, 62-) Central Coast Mariners 2 (Jedinak 31, Petrovski 93-) Saturday, 29 November 2008 at Members Equity Stadium

Crowd: 6496 Referee: Peter O-Leary

Perth Glory: 30.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 2.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 4.Jamie COYNE (c), 5.Jamie HARNWELL, 6.Dino DJULBIC, 9.Adrian TRINIDAD (7.Nick RIZZO 93-), 13.Nikita RUKAVYTSYA, 14.Eugene DADI, 16.Adriano PELLEGRINO, 17.James DOWNEY, 22.Wayne SRHOJ.

Substitutes not used: 20.Frank JURIC (gk), 21.Mark LEE, 25.Marc ANTHONY. Yellow cards: Eugene DADI 28-, Jamie HARNWELL 30-, Wayne SRHOJ 34-, Adrian TRINIDAD 76-, Dino DJULBIC 79-

Central Coast Mariners: 20.Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 5.Bradley PORTER (2.Andre GUMPRECHT 77-), 7.John HUTCHINSON (22.Sasho PETROVSKI 82-), 10.Adrian CACERES (9.Nik MRDJA 71-), 11.Dylan MACALLISTER, 16.Nigel BOOGAARD, 17.Matthew OSMAN, 18.Alex WILKINSON (c), 19.Matt SIMON, 23.Mile JEDINAK, 26.Chris TADROSSE.

Substitutes not used:, 30.Andrew REDMAYNE (gk) Yellow cards: Brad PORTER 53-, Matt SIMON 55- Red cards: Nigel BOOGAARD 90-