Perth share spoils

Perth Glory has broken through for their first points away from home, and first in Wellington, after an edge of the seat encounter against the Phoenix in the New Zealand capital.

Perth Glory has broken through for their first points away from home, and first in Wellington, after an edge of the seat encounter against the Phoenix in the New Zealand capital.

Perth took the lead courtesy of a 76th minute Eugene Dadi strike and were on track to record all three points but for a late Phoenix fight back. The result ensures both sides remain in the hunt for the finals without giving either team the real boost they were looking for.

“When it was one nil I thought we had it in the bag, they weren-t causing us problems but once they scored the goal they threw a lot of guys forward and created chances trying to win the game,” Mitchell said.

“It-s not the result either club wanted but overall looking at the game it was probably the correct result,” Mitchell added.

The match sat delicately balanced during a tense second half with both sides trading blows before the first punch was landed by the Glory.

A wonderful cross-field free kick from midfielder Wayne Srhoj found Nikolai Topor-Stanley at the far post, the big defender sending his header to Scott Bulloch who pulled the trigger on a fierce shot. The ball deflected off a desperate Wellington defence but landed back with Bulloch who this time headed into the danger zone where Dadi was lurking to produce a wonderful volley to open the scoring.

While it was Dadi that put the Glory in front it was the heroics of goal keeper Tando Velaphi that kept Perth in the game with a string of fine saves. A brilliant smother on Shane Smeltz, the competition-s leading scorer, and an aerobatic effort to deny former Glory player Leo Bertos in the dying minutes were just some of the more memorable efforts from the Olyroos keeper.

Glory-s starting eleven showed three changes from that which accounted for Melbourne last week, with Marc Anthony handed his first start for the club in place of the sidelined Jamie Coyne, Nikita Rukavytsya returning up front and Naum Sekulovski slotting in at left-back. Scott Bulloch moved into the left midfield role with Adrian Trinidad not risked after hurting his ankle a week earlier while Jamie Harnwell took the captain-s armband in Coyne-s absence.

Following a first half devoid of any real clear cut chances, the second half sprung to life with Nikita Rukavytsya and Smeltz hitting the woodwork in the space of two minutes which proved to be the catalyst for a far more entertaining 45 minutes.

Glory had the first opportunity to strike as Adriano Pellegrino's searching cross-field ball was cut back across the box by Bulloch only for Rukavytsya to drill his sliding shot against the crossbar from just meters out.

The Phoenix were then gifted a wonderful opportunity when Sekulovski had a brain snap as his back pass fell at the feet of Smeltz. The star striker was initially blocked by a desperately advancing Velaphi but the ball popped out to give Smeltz a second chance however he thundered the shot into the bar with the goal at his mercy.

That let-off seemed to inspire the Glory, who proceeded to enjoy their best spell of the game which produced the goal to Dadi, his eighth of the season.

It was a quality piece of team play that created the opportunity, Srhoj-s pin-point ball, Topor-Stanley-s vision and Bulloch-s awareness all contributed as Dadi finished superbly to give Glory the lead.

Lengthy celebrations followed amongst the Glory players and staff, as well as the loyal band of fans that had made the long trip across the Tasman, but delight swiftly turned to anguish as Wellington got back on level terms just seven minutes later.

A Bertos cross from the left found substitute Daniel and although Velaphi did brilliantly to parry the Brazilian-s curling shot, the ball cannoned straight onto the head of the unwitting Tim Brown and into the back of the net.

Determined to capitalise on their good fortune, the home side thundered forward as full-time approached, with McKain firing narrowly wide after a barnstorming run from the centre circle before seeing a goalbound effort heroically headed clear by a diving Harnwell. Bertos then looked to have earned all three points for his side in the last minute of normal time, but his curling shot was tipped spectacularly onto the bar by Velaphi at full stretch.

Mitchell made several late substitutions as much needed fresh legs were injected into the visitor-s line-up, including young midfielder Andrija Jukic who made his Hyundai A-League debut after being promoted from the Youth Team. It was enough to help Perth repel Wellington-s forward pressure and secure a point that keeps them in touch with the top four.

“We-ve turned things around and been playing well and today was probably our worst performance over the last month but it-s nice to get our first point away from home this season and we can now build on that.

“We are looking forward to the game against Sydney next weekend and will be going in with a lot of confidence” Mitchell said.

Wellington Phoenix 1 (Tim Brown 83-) Perth Glory 1 (Eugene Dadi 76-) Saturday, 13 December 2008 at Westpac Stadium, Wellington

Attendance: 6362

Perth Glory: 30.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 2.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 5.Jamie HARNWELL, 11.Scott BULLOCH, 13.Nikita RUKAVYTSYA (28.Andrija JUKIC 90-), 14.Eugene DADI (7.Nick RIZZO 90-), 16.Adriano PELLEGRINO, 17.James DOWNEY, 19.Naum SEKULOVSKI (3.David TARKA 86-), 22.Wayne SRHOJ, 25.Marc ANTHONY.

Substitutes not used: 1.Jason PETKOVIC (gk) Yellow cards: nil Red cards: nil

Wellington Phoenix: 20.Glen MOSS (gk), 3.Tony LOCHHEAD, 4.Jon McKAIN, 6.Tim BROWN, 7.Leo BERTOS, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 10.Michael FERRANTE (11.DANIEL 73-), 13.Troy HEARFIELD, 18.Ben SIGMUND (5.Karl DODD 67-), 22.Andrew DURANTE (c), 25.Manny MUSCAT.

Substitutes not used: 30.Scott HIGGINS (gk), 2.Jeremy CHRISTIE. Yellow cards: nil Red cards: nil