Perth Glory bounced back from the disappointment of losing the Westfield FFA Cup earlier this week to crush Central Coast 4-1 at nib Stadium on Saturday night.
Chris Harold capped his return to the starting line-up with a brace while Irish Andy Keogh took his season tally to seven and Daniel De Silva scored one of the goals of the year in the resounding win.
Glory equalled Melbourne Victory’s record of eight consecutive home wins from the 2008-09 season as Kenny Lowe’s side moved six points clear at the top of the Hyundai A-League table following Victory’s 1-0 defeat to arch-rivals Melbourne City earlier in the evening.
The Mariners, who are yet to taste victory since the opening round, remain in eighth position on the table and in serious danger of missing the finals after crashing to their sixth loss of the season.
1-0 Chris Harold (33’) With three Central Coast players closing on him, Keogh leaped in the air and knocked an incoming ball to the advantage of Glory teammate Sidnei, who fired a low cross from the left to the centre of the box for Harold to complete the easiest of finishes.
2-0 Andy Keogh (35’) Mariners goalkeeper Liam Reddy was left with egg on his face after passing directly to Harold just outside the box. Harold then crossed the ball to the exact same spot from where scored he scored only two minutes earlier, only this time Keogh was there to put the ball into the back of the net.
2-1 Matt Simon (49’) The veteran striker became the first Mariners player to score multiple goals for the Gosford-based club this season when he turned Glory defender Dino Djulibic inside out at the top of the penalty area and fired a low strike at the bottom right corner which easily beat a desperate lunge from Perth custodian Danny Vukovic.
3-1 Daniel De Silva (71’) The brightest young prospect in Australian football brought the parochial nib Stadium crowd to its feet with a wonder strike which caught everyone by surprise, including Reddy. De Silva flicking a Harold pass to himself before turning and slotting the ball towards goal as a hapless Reddy desperately tried to make up for his poor positioning.
4-1 Chris Harold (79’) Harold staked his claim for a permanent starting spot with his second goal for the evening when he brilliantly curled the ball from a tight angle on the left, across the face of goal and into the back of the net near the far post. Glory coach then cruelly denied the former Gold Coast player a chance to snare a rare hat-trick by immediately substituting him from the game.
The game was still on the line when exciting prospect De Silva entered the arena in 57th minute and his wonder strike 14 minutes later ended any chance of a Central Coast fightback while justifying the hype surrounding the young star who could force his way in the Socceroos 23-man squad for the Asian Cup.
Opta Data Stats
Keogh’s seven individual goals this season is equal to the number of times the Mariners have found the back of the net in the first 11 rounds, highlighting the lack of attacking options at Phil Moss’s disposal. Central Coast also has woes at the other end of the pitch, with 14 of the 18 goals conceded this season coming from inside the penalty area.
De Silva’s stunning second-half strike is certainly a contender for goal of the season, while Reddy staked his claim for one of the saves of the season. Keogh looked set to add a second goal in eight minutes from close range when he turned and fired at the bottom left corner, but Reddy moved quickly off his line and bunted the ball away with his outstretched right arm.
Central Coast defender Michael Neill hobbled from the pitch in the 39th minute with what appeared to be a serious left ankle injury. He did not reappear on the team’s bench after half-time.
Glory winger Sidnei also limped from the field in the 57th minute with a left calf injury. The Brazilian missed the first nine rounds of the season with a similar complaint and was making his first starting appearance of 2014/15.
Back to the drawing board
Ruben Zadkovich will be glad to see in-form right back Josh Risdon return from suspension for Friday’s clash with Melbourne City after being horribly exposed in the position. The former Newcastle captain is regarded for his defensive qualities as a midfielder, but did not appear comfortable in a purely defensive role on Saturday night.
The Final Word
The convincing victory helped Glory put a week of heartbreak and scandal behind it ahead of a tough stretch that will see Kenny Lowe’s side travel to Melbourne for clashes with the resurgent City on Boxing Day and fellow title contenders Victory on January 2 before returning to Perth to seek revenge against Westfield FFA Cup conquerors Adelaide on January 5.
Another loss puts the Mariners in the tough position of needing to win each of the club’s next three games against fellow strugglers Brisbane Roar next Saturday, Western Sydney on New Year’s Day and Melbourne City on January 4 to keep alive their fast-fading hopes of playing off in another finals series.
Perth Glory: Danny Vukovic (GK), Rostyn Griffiths (Brandon O’Neill 80’), Dino Djulbic, Ruben Zadkovich, Andy Keogh, Nebojsa Marinkovic, Richard Garcia, Chris Harold (Jamie Maclaren 80’), Sidnei Sciola (Daniel De Silva 57’), Scott Jamieson, Michael Thwaite (C).
Central Coast: Storm Roux, Joshua Rose, Zach Anderson, John Hutchinson (C), Anthony Caceras, Nick Fitzgerald, Liam Reddy (GK), Richard Vernes (Mitchell Duke 54’), Glen Trifiro (Seung-yong Kim 70’), Matt Simon, Michael Neill (Matthew Sim 39’).
Scorers: Chris Harold (33’, 79’), Andy Keogh (35’), Matt Simon (49’), Daniel De Silva (71’)
Red cards: Nil
Yellow cards: Ruben Zadkovich (89’)'
Conditions: 24C, clear
Attendance: 9660 @ nib Stadium