Socceroos defender Matthew Spiranovic made an encouraging return from injury, but Perth Glory’s unbeaten start to the Foxtel Y-League was ended by Melbourne City at Dorrien Gardens on Saturday.
In a match where scoring chances were hard to come by, Moudi Najjar put the visitors ahead in the 19th minute before Dylan Pierias' effort and an own-goal from Glory’s Jayden Leader sealed a 3-0 win for the visitors.
With First Team Head Coach Tony Popovic watching on from the stands, Spiranovic lined up in Glory colours for the first time and acquitted himself well alongside youngsters Daniel Walsh and Zayd Farah before he was substituted at half-time
Emerging attacker Daniel Stynes also clocked up 30 minutes in the second half as he completed his own comeback from a lengthy injury lay-off.
Perth's Trent Ostler had the game’s first real scoring chance when he charged through the City defence, but he pushed his attempt to slot the ball between the left post and goalkeeper Ahmad Taleb wide of the target.
Glory dominated possession during the opening 15 minute of the half, with Pierias’ long-range strike the only shot the visitors had on target.
However, Najjar caught the home side’s defence napping in the 19th minute when he twice sidestepped Glory players before effortlessly slotting the ball home past a diving Jackson Lee into the bottom right corner.
Glory responded well and almost found an equaliser as half-time approached when Ostler fired in a cross from the left, but Abias Bukura was unable to force the ball home before Taleb swooped.
Ostler himself then had a chance to finish another teasing cross from Ethan Brooks, but he could not connect with enough power to seriously challenge the City goalkeeper.
Chances were few and far between in the second half until pacy Glory striker Jacob Selden intercepted an errant pass by the City defence and raced in on goal, only for Taleb to pull off an impressive save to keep his team in the lead.
The Victorian side capitalised fully in the wake of that let-off as Pierias scored in the 86th minute, with Leader's own-goal on the stroke of full-time rubbing salt into the wounds of Richard Garcia’s side.
“It’s a disappointing performance, but I think it’s a good learning curve for the boys,” Garcia said post-game.
“We did well in our first game, we did OK in our second game, but I think today we didn’t play to our full potential. We had bits and pieces where we did OK, especially towards the back end, but we just need to probably simplify things again and get back to what were doing at the start of the season.”
Garcia was full of praise for the efforts of Spiranovic and Stynes in their comeback games, especially their leadership both on and off pitch.
“They're two quality players who were looking to get some fitness,” he said. “It’s good for the other boys to see what it takes to be a professional player and see the qualities and the mentality they bring to the table.”
Glory will now look to regroup before next Sunday’s visit to Adelaide United, with Garcia expecting to ask his players plenty of tough questions at training during the week.
“I’m not really concerned with the goals, I’m more concerned with some of the attitude that was put out there in terms of going off-plan and playing by yourself,” he said.
“It’s a team game and you’ve got to play as a team. I think some of the guys were a bit off today and went back into old habits.”
Perth Glory 0 Melbourne City 3 (Najjar 19’, Pierias 86’, Leader o.g. 90’)
Referee: Shane Skinner
Assistants: Adrien Liechti, Harry Bolan
Fourth Official: Matthew Southern
Perth Glory 1. Jackson LEE (GK), 2. Matthew SPIRANOVIC (C) (14. Nicholas McDONALD 46’), 3. Daniel WALSH, 4. Zayd FARAH, 5. Jayden LEADER, 6. Jack LEECH (16. Kristian POPOVIC 58’), 7. Ethan BROOKS, 8. Abias BUKURU, 9. Jaidon SELDEN, 10. Henry HORE, 11. Trent OSTLER (17. Daniel STYNES 60’)
Substitutes not used: 12. Nicholas SPECA (GK)
Yellow cards: Ethan Brooks (44’), Abias Bukuru (69’), Henry Hore (84’)
Red cards: Nil
Melbourne City: 22. Curtis GOOD, 30. Moudi NAJJAR, 36. Dylan PIERAS (48. Joshua VARGA 86’), 37. Gianluca IANNUCCI (55. Stefan COLAKOVSKI 60’), 38. Joshua CAVALLO, 39. Anthony LESIOTIS, 41. Mitchell GRAHAM, 42. Ahmad TALEB (GK, 40. Mark MAWITH 60’) 45. Mark KARLIC, 51. Idrus ABDULAHI, 58. Yaya DUKULY (49. Jordan BOS 46’)
Substitutes not used: Nil
Yellow cards: Anthony Lesiotis (29’)
Red cards: Nil