Six goal thriller ends in a draw

A dramatic stoppage-time equalizer prevented Perth Glory from opening their campaign with a win as they fought out a thrilling 3-3 draw with North Queensland Fury in front of a record A-League crowd –at nib Stadium- of more than 16,000.

A dramatic stoppage-time equalizer prevented Perth Glory from opening their campaign with a win as they fought out a thrilling 3-3 draw with North Queensland Fury in front of a record A-League crowd -at nib Stadium- of more than 16,000.

Goals from Branko Jelic, Scott Neville and Mile Sterjovski looked to have earned the points for Dave Mitchell-s men, but the spirited visitors replied through Chris Payne, David Williams and in the dying seconds, Chris Grossman.

“It-s really disappointing and it feels like a loss,” was Perth Glory Coach Dave Mitchell-s reaction.

“We did enough to win the game and I feel we created enough chances.”

Roared on by the bumper crowd, Glory hit their straps almost immediately and got their noses in front with barely five minutes on the clock. A quick Scott Neville throw-in was nodded into Adriano Pellegrino-s path by Steven McGarry, the diminutive midfielder whipped in a teasing low cross and Branko Jelic showed a true striker-s instinct to run across his marker and clip the ball past a helpless Justin Pasfield in the Fury goal.

nib Stadium erupted, anticipating a goal-fest and Dave Mitchell-s men did go close to doubling their advantage on 17 minutes as Robbie Fowler, McGarry and Mile Sterjovski combined to slice open the visitors- defence and tee up Pellegrino whose well-struck volley flashed narrowly wide of the target. To their credit, however, a combative and committed Fury weathered the early storm and gradually established a foothold in the game. Their tight pressing disrupted Glory-s passing game, while their physical presence troubled the home side at set pieces. Midway through the half Tando Velaphi did well to fist clear a long-range free kick from Isaka Cernak and from the resulting corner, the Glory ‘keeper finally emerged with the ball following a protracted and frantic scramble inside the six-yard box.

Sensing a change in the flow of the game, Fury continued to improve as the half wore on and shortly after the half-hour mark they levelled things up. Jacob Burns inadvertently deflected the ball to the feet of Chris Payne as he tried to clear his lines and the former Sydney FC man needed no second invitation to rifle a low shot past Velaphi and into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.

Half-time

Perth Glory 1-1 North Queensland Fury

Glory again started brightly following the break and went agonisingly close to restoring their advantage eight minutes in when Neville linked up cleverly with Pellegrino before unleashing a searing right-foot drive that had Pasfield beaten, only to clip the top of the crossbar and rebound away to safety.

The young full-back continued to cause the Fury defence all sorts of problems on the overlap and forced the corner on 55 minutes from which Pasfield was forced to go full length to deny Sterjovski before Fowler fired just over.

Glory were in full flow at this stage, laying siege to the visitors- goal and Sterjovski again threatened moments later, latching onto a cleverly delayed through ball from Fowler and racing clear on goal, only to drag his shot wide of the target.

Remarkably, however, it was the visitors who stunned the home crowd into almost total silence on 64 minutes by snatching the lead totally against the run of play. The impressive Payne led a rapid breakaway, eventually lofting a superb cross-field ball to David Williams and the former Brondby man showed great technique to crash an angled volley past the helpless Velaphi.

Sekulovski went close to restoring parity five minutes later, cutting in from the left to curl a right-footed 20 metre shot that had Pasfield scrambling, while Adam Casey swiftly replied in kind at the other end, nodding a header centimetres wide of the target with Velaphi beaten.

With the game becoming increasingly stretched, chances were coming thick and fast and finally on 74 minutes Neville bagged the goal that he-d been threatening to score all night. Sterjovski-s corner from the left was only half-cleared, it fell kindly for Neville just outside the box and he thundered a rasping low shot past Pasfield before racing away to celebrate in front of The Shed.

The equalizer brought the crowd back to life and the noise level went off the scale with eleven minutes left as the home side scored a beautifully-crafted third. While best known for his strength and commitment, Harnwell showed that he also has a fine touch by deftly lobbing a ball into the box for Pellegrino who supplied another inch-perfect cross which Sterjovksi headed home with aplomb.

The fans were back on their feet again moments later to salute Fowler-s contribution as he made way for Anthony Skorich and at that point Glory looked poised to open their campaign with a deserved win. There was yet another twist to come, however, as Neville conceded a stoppage time free kick close to his own by-line. Substitute Dyron Daal chipped it into the box and the Glory defence, perhaps distracted by the presence of goalkeeper Pasfield who had been thrown forward, failed to clear, allowing Chris Grossman to head home a stunning last-gasp leveller.

“It-s like we-ve lost which is a good thing because it shows how much we wanted to win,” Scott Neville said.

Perth Glory 3-3 North Queensland Fury (Half-time 1-1 ) nib Stadium, Perth Friday, 6 August, 2010 Local kick-off: 8.00pm (10.00pm AEST) Referee: Kevin Docherty

Perth Glory: 1. Tando VELAPHI, 3. Jamie COYNE, 5. Jamie HARNWELL, 7. Jacob BURNS (c), 9.Robbie FOWLER (22. Anthony SKORICH 82-), 11. Branko JELIC (17. Todd HOWARTH 71-), 12. Scott NEVILLE, 14. Steven McGARRY, 16. Adriano PELLEGRINO, 19. Naum SEKULOVSKI, 21. Mile STERJOVSKI,

Substitutes not used: 20. Aleks VRTESKI, 23. Andrija JUKIC.

Scorers: Jelic 5-, Neville 74-, Sterjovski 79-

Yellow cards: Burns 23-, Sterjovski 29-, Sekulovski 65-

North Queensland Fury: 1. Justin PASFIELD (gk), 4. Eric AKOTO, 5. Mark HUGHES, 7. Gareth EDDS (c), 8. Adam CASEY (21. Jason SPAGNUOLO 83-), 11. David WILLIAMS, 14. Chris GROSSMAN, 15. Chris PAYNE (10. Dyron DAAL 76-), 16. Simon STOREY, 17. Osama MALIK, 19. Isaka CERNAK

Substitutes not used: 18.Brett STUDMAN, 20. Matthew HAM (gk),

Scorers: Payne 34-, Williams 64-, Grossman 92-

Yellow cards: Akoto 23-, Storey 33-, Hughes 45- (+2)