Perth Glory striker Stefan Valentini bagged a second half brace, but the damage had been done as the Glory youngsters went down 4-2 at the hands of Stirling Lions at Macedonia Park at the weekend.
The home side led 3-0 at the break, with goals from Teeboy Kamara, Daniel Micevski and Nathan Bowden-Hasse, and they added a fourth early in the second half through Lawrence Shuruma, and looked to be cruising.
But the Glory youngsters turned the tide and Valentini’s double put them on the front foot and dominated the rest of the game, with plenty of chances to level but they couldn’t convert.
“It was a disappointing first half, but we came out after the break and wanted to get a positive result, but we conceded early to put us on the back foot,” Valentini said.
“We played really well from then on and could have nicked something from the game late. It’s always nice to score goals, but it would have been better if we had taken the three points.”
Glory Coach John Gibson said a change of formation at the break worked but conceded defence let them down
“We weren’t switched on early and conceded a couple of goals, but credit to the boys the second half was outstanding,” he said.
“We changed the system slightly and it seemed to work, and the boys showed a whole lot of belief and character and did a fantastic job, and probably would have liked the game to go for another 15 minutes.”
Gibson was pleased with the side going forward, but he said they need to improve at the back.
“We’ve been delighted with the strikers who have come into the side, they haven’t let us down,” he said.
“Stefan this week and Nikola last week have performed well and have shown the processes we are trying to achieve is working".
“But we have another component of the game, that’s defending, and we have to focus on that and that’s just a mentality we have got to improve on and we will.
Gibson said they will take positives from the second half performance moving forward.
Stirling made a perfect start to the game and they were ahead after only three minutes when Shuruma picked out Kamara on the left and he cut inside his marker before curling the ball home from the edge of the penalty area.
The Glory almost hit back immediately. Stirling defender Billy Quinncroft was caught in possession by Valentini, and the striker raced towards goal, but as he prepared to shoot, a superb last ditch tackle from Steve Purton denied him.
John Gibson’s side were struggling to get into the game, while the home side looked dangerous every time they moved forward, and it was no surprise when they doubled their lead on 32 minutes.
Shuruma found Micevski on the right, the winger slipped away from Gian Albano, before firing home powerfully, despite keeper Jordan Franken getting a hand to it.
It was one-way traffic, as Stirling continued to dominate. Bowden-Hasse headed just wide on the half hour, before Purton fired over the top moments later.
Glory, was hanging on, but their resistance was finally broken nine minutes before the break, when Stirling added a third.
Miki Vujacic’s corner was only half cleared by the Glory, and the Stirling skipper whipped a teasing cross into the penalty area and Bowden-Hasse rose highest to head home from five metres.
It could have been worse for Glory, with Micevski’s shot in stoppage time whistling inches past the post
Glory needed a good start to get back into the game, but four minutes in they conceded a fourth.
Purton found space down the left and cut inside the penalty area, his shot was parried by Franken and Shuruma fired home the rebound from five metres.
But the tide started to turn and on 56 minutes the Glory pulled a goal back.
Valentini won a tackle on the edge of the penalty area, raced into the box and fired low past Joel Driscoll.
Now it was the Glory who was dictating terms and added another on 67 minutes.
Talimdzioski won a strong tackle on the right of the penalty area and crossed to Valentini who made no mistake from six metres.
It was game on and Glory went close to a third three minutes later. King crossed to Dejan Spaseski, who fed Talimdzioski in on goal, but Driscoll rushed out bravely to save at the strikers’ feet.
Glory continued to press forward and Talimdzioski’s shot on the run flashed wide of the post, but time ran out and Stirling hung on for the points.
In earlier games Callum Salmon’s under 18’s ran out 6-0 winners against Stirling. Abias Bukuru was outstanding, scoring a hat trick and setting up another. Rhett De Silva, Ismail Atak and 14-year-old Jacob Italiano scored the others.
Bobby Despotovski’s under 20’s went even better, beating Stirling 8-1. Tom Kirby, Losene Dulleh, Daniel Stynes and Alex Taneski all scored two goals.
Glory face off against Subiaco at home this weekend.
Stirling Lions 4 (Kamara 3', Micevski 32', Bowden-Hasse 36', Shuruma 49')
Perth Glory 2 (Valentini 56', 67')
Saturday 11 July 2015
Macedonia Park, Balcatta
Referee: Michal Jasinski
Assistants: Adrien Liechti and Colin Duncan
Stirling Lions: GK Joel DRISCOLL, 3 Steve PURTON, 4 Billy QUINNCROFT, 6 Kyran NUNES (12 Robert MARIANO 72’), 7 Miki VUJACIC (c), 8 Tim HILL, 10 Daniel MICEVSKI, 14 Lawrence SHURUMA (16 Alen PATAROV 90’), 15 Robert PETKOV (9 Million BUTSHIIRE 72’), 17 Teeboy KAMARA, 18 Nathan BOWDEN-HASSE
Substitutes not used: RGK Lance ALAVAKIS, 12 Liam WOOD
Yellow Cards: Hill 11’
Perth Glory: GK Jordan FRANKEN, 2 Gian ALBANO, 3 Jacob COLLARD (c), 4 Tom KING, 5 Ali GHOLAMI, 6 Calvin WHITNEY, 7 Waliedin ISMAIL (13 Sean TROUP 63’), 8 Dejan SPASESKI, 9 Stefan VALENTINI (14 Dylan WHITE 84’), 10 Slobodan VULIN, 11 Nikola TALIMDZIOSKI (12 Sam MACKEARNAN 87’)
Subs not used: RGK Riley STEVENSON, 15 Daniel STYNES
Yellow Cards: King 80’, Mackearnan 90+3’