No glory for Perth against Fulham

The biggest crowd to watch a Perth Glory match since the inception of the Hyundai A-League was treated to an action packed double header of top-flight football on Wednesday night at Members Equity Stadium.

The biggest crowd to watch a Perth Glory match since the inception of the Hyundai A-League was treated to an action packed double header of top-flight football on Wednesday night at Members Equity Stadium.

The opening fixture saw Wolverhampton Wanderers score twice to defeat North Queensland 2-1 with 14,903 supporters delighted to be part of the debut performance on Australian soil by former Liverpool star Robbie Fowler, who scored from the penalty spot for the league new boys.

The second match, featuring Perth Glory and Europa League bound Fulham, also saw plenty of goal mouth action but unfortunately for the home side it was all one way traffic with the Cottagers applying the blowtorch to run away with a 5-nil win.

The Glory went into the break just a goal down and had more than held their own against the English Premier League side however a stunning hat-trick in eight minutes from Norwegian star Erik Nevland turned the game on its head.

Despite the final lopsided score line Glory Coach Dave Mitchell was pleased with how the new look Glory outfit played in several strong patches throughout the game and said signs the team were finding their feet as a unit were evident.

“For long periods of the game I was happy but then Fulham scored a couple of goals and their confidence went up and they showed what a quality side they are. They-re playing in Europe in a couple of weeks and they-ll do well no doubt,” Mitchell said.

“They certainly put their foot down in the second half and really came at us and showed they-re a quality side.

“We-re still a new team blending and have a couple of players we want to bring in and have a look at. From my point of view this has been a good exercise and we-ll learn a lot from that,” said Mitchell.

A purposeful start from the visitors saw them threaten to open the scoring after just three minutes. Bobby Zamora picked out the onrushing Zoltan Gera as Fulham broke swiftly from midfield, but the Hungarian international scuffed his shot wide from the edge of the box.

That early escape seemed to serve as a wake-up call for Glory who upped their game almost immediately and carved out a decent half-chance of their own a short time later.

Jamie Coyne-s deft ball over the top was beautifully controlled by Mile Sterjovski, but as the Socceroo prepared to pull the trigger defender Chris Smalling slid in to snuff out the danger.

Coyne continued to impress, thundering forward from left-back at every opportunity and linking up well with the industrious Scott Bulloch.

On the other flank, meanwhile, Victor Sikora showed some neat touches, usually in concert with Adriano Pellegrino who had been switched to a more central role from his usual position on the right hand side of midfield.

Just as Glory appeared to be gaining the upper hand, however, they were downed by a sucker punch landed by the predatory Andy Johnson. Chris Baird-s flighted through ball picked out the England international and although Aleks Vrteski parried his initial effort with a fine reflex block, Johnson retained his composure to hook home the loose ball from close range.

A midfield arm-wrestle then began to develop, with neither side able to mount any periods of sustained pressure, although Bulloch did bring the crowd to its feet with a thumping volley on 23 minutes. The midfielder-s 22 metre effort had Mark Schwarzer scrambling in the Fulham goal, but ultimately flashed just centimetres wide of the left-hand post.

Roy Hodgson opted against making wholesale changes at the break, although strike pairing Andy Johnson and Bobby Zamora were both withdrawn to be replaced by Nevland and Eddie Johnson respectively.

Mitchell, meanwhile, stuck with the same line-up that had served him well in the opening 45 minutes and was rewarded for his faith as Glory made a bright start.

Firstly Wayne Srhoj just failed to get a meaningful shot away as he battled with several Fulham defenders to reach a clever Sterjovski through ball and moments later, Jamie Harnwell rose highest to reach a Pellegrino corner, but headed narrowly wide.

As in the first-half, however, Fulham managed to strike while Glory was enjoying something of a purple patch.

On the hour mark, the lively Gera played in Eddie Johnson and the American international showed great poise and awareness to square the ball for the unmarked Nevland who applied a pinpoint finish.

Four minutes later Glory-s defence was prised open again as Nevland burst through to bag his second and the Norwegian completed a stunning hat-trick moments later, once again linking up with Johnson to maximum effect.

Glory battled on gamely as driving rain and a squally wind rendered playing conditions less than ideal, but as they committed more bodies forward in search of a goal they were again punished when substitute Andranik finished off a swift break for the Londoners.

Striker Eugene Dadi, who battled hard against a miserly Fulham defence, said that while the result wasn-t ideal the match did give the players another great opportunity to develop their chemistry together.

“We-re not quite ready yet but we-re heading in the right direction,” said Dadi.

“There was a lot of talking on the park and we still have several weeks to go before the season. There is time to come together as a team and put everything in the right place.

“It was good to be out there and playing against a quality team, a quality club. Unfortunately for the fans, and for us, it wasn-t the right result, but it has been more about gelling together and that is happening.”

Perth Glory 0 Fulham 5 (Johnson 16-, Nevland 60-, 64-, 68-, Andranik 83-) Members Equity Stadium, Perth

Crowd: 14,903

Perth Glory: 20.Aleks VRTESKI (gk), 3.Jamie COYNE, 4.Andy TODD, 5.Jamie HARNWELL, 8.Victor SIKORA (25.Ryan PEARSON 71-), 10.Wayne SRHOJ, 12.Scott NEVILLE (19.Naum SEKULOVSKI 63-), 13.Scott BULLOCH (26.Dean EVANS 84-), 14.Eugene DADI (18.Brent GRIFFITHS 78-), 16.Adriano PELLEGRINO, 21.Mile STERJOVSKI (24.Million BUTSHIIRE 74-)

Substitutes not used: 15.Howard FONDYKE, 30.Nick FEELY (gk)

Yellow cards: Bulloch 15-

Fulham: 1.Mark SCHWARZER (gk) (12.David STOCKDALE (gk) 46-), 2.Stephen KELLY, 6.Chris BAIRD (28.Matthew SAUNDERS 76-), 7.Ki HYEON SEOL, 8.Andrew JOHNSON (10.Erik NEVLAND 46-), 11.Zoltan GERA (14.ANDRANIK 62-), 13.Danny MURPHY (22.Fredrik STOOR 62-), 18.Aaron HUGHES (37.Matthew BRIGGS 70-), 25.Bobby ZAMORA (21.Eddie JOHNSON 46-), 26.Chris SMALLING (27.Adrian LEIJER 70-), 33.Toni KALLIO (4.John PANTSIL 46-).

Substitutes not used: 19.Pascal ZUBERBBUHLER