Smeltz scores again as Glory make it 3 from 3

A predatory first-half strike from Shane Smeltz proved enough to ensure that Glory continued their record-breaking start to the season with a third successive win.

A predatory first-half strike from Shane Smeltz proved enough to ensure that Glory continued their record-breaking start to the season with a third successive win.

Made to battle all the way by a dogged Wellington Phoenix side, Glory-s victory owed more to hard work and commitment than creativity and flair, but they dug deep and showed great character to claim another vital three points.

Resplendent in their specially-commissioned, one-off blue jerseys sported to celebrate both 15 years of Glory and the 125th anniversary of major sponsor QBE, the hosts found it tough to break down a well-organised and abrasive Phoenix unit in the early stages.

The visitors strung a solid cordon of five men across the midfield at all times in a bid to prevent Liam Miller from weaving his magic and for a while it proved effective as Glory struggled to get their passing game going.

Ricki Herbert-s men had also clearly been warned of the threat posed by Andrezinho down the left and both Ben Sigmund and Manny Muscat were cautioned for over-zealous challenges on the livewire Brazilian within the first thirteen minutes.

After Chris Greenacre and Dani Sanchez had missed half-chances for the Kiwis early on, Glory carved out their first real opportunity on 16 minutes when van den Brink nodded a Miller corner back across the danger zone, but neither Todd Howarth nor Travis Dodd quite managed to apply the finishing touch from close range.

Undeterred by that miss, however, the home side began to gain the upper hand and ask some serious questions of the Phoenix defence.

Some neat interplay between Andrezinho and Billy Mehmet on the edge of the box teed up a shooting chance for Shane Smeltz which the marquee man dragged wide of the post, but he wasn-t to be denied for long.

Just three minutes in fact, as Glory got their noses in front courtesy of a splendidly-executed set-piece move that came straight off the training ground.

Jacob Burns chipped the ball to van den Brink at the edge of the box, the big Dutchman steered his header across the face of goal and there was Smeltz, getting across his marker Andrew Durante to volley home his third goal of the season.

Half-time Perth Glory 1-0 Wellington Phoenix

Phoenix of course are a team renowned for their character and resilience and they showed both as they started the second-half on the front foot and came very close to levelling the game up on 54 minutes.

Sigmund managed to get above marker Chris Coyne to meet a Daniel corner from the left and Vukovic went full stretch to tip the defender-s thumping header onto the bar.

With Sanchez and Leo Bertos pushing up to support Greenacre, the visitors began to look more threatening than they had at any previous stage of the game and van den Brink and Coyne, the latter sporting a large bandage following a first-half head clash, had to be at their best to keep them out.

That said, the next clear-cut opportunity came at the other end as a clever exchange of passes between Mehmet and Andrezinho engineered a Glory breakaway.

Smeltz was played through and raced clear of the covering defenders, but as visiting goalkeeper Tony Warner advanced to narrow the angle, the Kiwi marksman blazed his shot over the bar.

Smeltz was then denied again on 75 minutes as a last-ditch sliding block from former Glory man Nick Ward prevented him from toe-poking the ball home after another Miller corner had prompted an almighty scramble in the Phoenix box.

For all their attacking efforts, Phoenix continued to be repelled by Glory-s rock-solid defence and were largely restricted to long-range efforts including a 25-metre free-kick from Dani Sanchez on 85 minutes which Vukovic had well covered as it flew harmlessly over his crossbar.

With Smeltz and Mehmet gamely tracking back to help the defensive cause, the home side rode out the latter stages without too many dramas although there were one or two nerves jangling as referee Ben Williams decided to play five minutes- worth of additional time.

That meant there was still time for Muscat to receive a second yellow for elbowing Mehmet in an aerial tussle before the final whistle sounded leaving the home fans to noisily celebrate another hard-fought, but ultimately well-deserved victory.

2011-2012 Hyundai A-League Round 3 Perth Glory:1 (Smeltz 33') Wellington Phoenix:0 nib Stadium Sunday 23rd October 2011 Attendance: 8299 Referee: Ben Williams

Perth Glory:1. Danny VUKOVIC, 3. Bas VAN DEN BRINK, 4. Billy MEHMET, 6. Chris COYNE, 7. Jacob BURNS, 9. Shane SMELTZ, 10. Liam MILLER (2. Josh MITCHELL 84-), 12. Scott NEVILLE, 13. Travis DODD (15. Tommy AMPHLETT 65-) 17. Todd HOWARTH, 27. ANDREZINHO (14. Steven MCGARRY 74-)

Substitutes not used: 30. Lewis ITALIANO (GK)

Yellow cards: Miller 18-, Coyne 83-

Wellington Phoenix:20. Anthony WARNER, 2. Manny MUSCAT, 3. Tony LOCHEAD, 7. Leo BERTOS, 9. Chris GREENACRE, 11. Daniel CORTES (13. Nikolas TSATTALIOS 76-), 12. Nick WARD, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 21. Dani SANCHEZ, 22. Andrew DURANTE, 24. Alexander SMITH

Substitutes not used: 1. Mark PASTON, 4. Brent GRIFFITHS, , 15. Cameron LINDSAY

Yellow cards: Sigmund 7-, Muscat 13-, Daniel 32-, Muscat 90 +2-

Red cards: Muscat 90 +2-