A young Perth Glory side pushed local powerhouse Perth Soccer Club all the way on Sunday, before eventually losing 1-3 in week 18 of the PS4 National Premier League WA.
Mark Pritchard put the visitors in control with a brace before half time, but a rejuvenated Glory side hit back after the break, with Michael McDougall scoring.
Glory had chances to draw level but found Perth 'keeper Francis Soale in good for. Glory pushed for a late equaliser, but Perth added a third through new Serbian defender Aleksander Susnjar to seal the points.
Perth Glory coach John Gibson, who was without 10 first team players for the game, said his young chargers were magnificent and took the game to Perth after the break.
“We had a very young crew out there today, but the second half performance was excellent,” he said.
“We talk about opportunities, and with injuries and first team commitments we were missing some of our first team players today, but the youngsters who came in did a fantastic job and it bodes well for the future of this program.”
Gibson believes the club’s NPL program is working well, and said the youngsters showed a great deal of maturity against a strong Perth SC side.
“Michael took his goal ever so well, and he linked up well with Nikola (Tamdzioski) up front today, but the whole group has shown a great deal of character and maturity,” he said.
“I thought the skipper Nathan Costello and Ross Millard were great at the back, but like I’ve said all season the players have been magnificent.
“But we are still making small errors which are costing us goals, but that’s the learning curve for these youngsters.”
With injuries, suspensions and first team commitments, Gibson was forced into four changes to the side that lost in the last minutes against Inglewood United last week.
Jacob Collard, Tom King, Slobodan Vulin, Stefan Valentini, Jesse Lazzaro were all out injured, while Calvin Whitney was suspended, meaning the Coach brought in some of the younger players in the NPL program.
McDougall deputised up front, while Matthew Ntoumenopoulos and Daniel Stynes came in to fill the void in the middle of the park.
Former Stevenage FC defender Ross Millard partnered skipper Nathan Costello at the back, while Under 20’s league top goal scorer Alex Taneski was rewarded for his good form with a spot on the bench.
It was an even opening to the game with chances few and far between; the first real opportunity fell to the Glory on the quarter hour.
The lively Waliedin Ismail picked out Ross Millard on the left; his low cross in to the area was well blocked by Grenada international defender David Cyrus, with Nikola Talimdzioski unable to capitalise.
But on 23 minutes the visitors hit the front. A long ball from Susnjar was played on to Pritchard, whose half volley from the edge of the penalty area flew low past Jordan Franken.
The Glory youngsters were giving as good as they got and they went close themselves seven minutes later.
Daniel Stynes played a well weighted ball into the path of Talimdzioski, who raced into the area, but Soale was alert to save.
Perth lifted the tempo before half time and two minutes before the break they doubled their lead.
Ambrogio was picked out by Susnjar, and the striker laid the ball back to Pritchard on the edge of the penalty area, and he picked his spot and finished clinically, firing the ball low past Franken.
The Glory were quick out of the blocks after the break and they were back in the game five minutes in.
A long ball over the top sent Talimdzioski clear, Soale came racing out of area to clear, but the striker managed to get to the ball first and cut the ball back to McDougall who fired home from long-range.
Glory were enjoying their best period of the game and they went within inches of levelling ten minutes later.
McDougall played a one-two with Talimdzioski on the edge of the area, and McDougall’s fierce shot was heading for the top corner, but Soale made up for his error for the goal, saving superbly at full stretch.
The home side was creating the better chances and substitute Sam MacKearnan’s free kick caused problems in the area, but some good defending from the Azzurri kept the Glory out.
Pritchard was denied a hat-trick, with a smart save from Franken, and moments later his goal bound shot was blocked by Millard.
With the Glory pressing forward looking for the equaliser, they were caught out at the back in the 90th minute when Perth scored the sealer.
The Glory failed to clear their lines and Susnjar shot on the turn from the edge of the penalty area flew low into the corner of the net.
In other games on the day Callum Salmon’s under 18’s played one of their best performances of the season to beat second placed Perth SC 6-1. Abias Bukuru scored a hat-trick, while Rhett De Silva, Jack Leech and Abu Dulleh scored the others. Best players on the day were Ashwin Jayakumar, Bukura, De Silva and Walter Scott.
It wasn’t good news for Bobby Despotiovski’s under 20’s who lost the top of the table clash against Perth SC4-1. Despite the loss they stay top of the table on goal difference.
Sunday August 9 2015
Inglewood Stadium, Inglewood
Perth Glory 1 (McDougall 50')
Perth Soccer Club 3 (Pritchard 23', 43' Susnjar 90')
Referee: Michal Jasinski
Assistants: Josh Nixon and Simon Hicks
Perth Glory: GK Jordan FRANKEN, 2 Gian ALBANO, 3 Ross MILLARD, 4 Nathan COSTELLO (c), 5 Ali GHOLAMI (14 Hayden STEVENS 71’), 6 Matthew NTOUMENOPOULOS (15 Sean TROUP 58’), 7 Waliedin ISMAIL, 9 Michael MCDOUGALL, 10 Daniel STYNES (12 Sam MACKEARNAN 75’), 11 Nikola TALIMDZIOSKI, 16 Dejan SPASESKI
Subs not used: RGK Riley STEPHENSON, 13 Alex TANESKI
Yellow Cards: Nil
Perth SC: GK Francis SOALE, 2 Josh WILKINS, 3 David CYRUS, 4 Aleksandar SUSNJAR, 5 Dean EVANS, 6 Clark Keltie (c), 8 Aden Da LUZ (11 Julian MADASCHI 76’), 13 Rocco PIZZATA, 14 Mark PRITCHARD (9 Harley ORR 83’), 16 Nicholas AMBROGIO (19 Andreas THEODOSIADES 60’), 17 Reece VITTIGLIA
Subs not used: RGK Alex DUNN, 12 Marco SANTALUCIA
Yellow Cards: Nil