Glory v Sharks

Grand Final report by Eamon Duffy
Perth Glory v Olympic Sharks

In front of 38111 mainly fanatical Perth Glory fans the home side laid to rest the chokers tag. All week it had hung around like a bad smell but after the game the club had the sweet smell of success.

The game started at a frenetic pace and in the early stages was quite physical with Perth determined not to let the Sharks gain their expected midfield control.

The battle between Miller and Ishida was one of the most intriguing especially after the match in Sydney earlier in the finals campaign where Ishida outplayed Miller. From the very beginning it was clear that Miller remembered this and closed his man down to an extent that Ishida had little or no influence on the game.

In the midfield battle again Perth closed players down and as the game progressed it was clear that Halpin was struggling and the man of the match Simon Colosimo was taking over the mantle of best midfielder in the country.He was well supported by the very hard working Gumprecht, Horsley and Hassell, who outplayed the much vaunted Olympic midfield for the match.

The first chance of the game came in the 19th minute when Despotovski dispossessed Halpin, accelerated beyond 2 Sharks defenders and found himself one on one with Bolton who made a splendid save.

There then was a period of Shark pressure as Milicic shot over and Miller made a superb stopping challenge on Harris as he appeared through. However the complexion of the match and the mood of the crowd changed dramatically in the 30th minute. Glory won a corner on the right and Simon Colosimo sent over a pin point cross that was met brilliantly by the head of the inrushing Jamie Harnwell who dispatched the ball into the corner of the net to give Glory the lead.

Olympic tried to fight back and had with just 4 minutes to the interval, following a rare Glory defensive mistake Porter burst through into the box before Petkovic pulled off a great stop. Just 2 minutes later it was Porter again who got on the end of an attempted headed clearance and from 25 metres out attempted to lob the Glory keeper but the ball just fell over the bar.

Any thoughts that Olympic would come out all fired up after their extended half time break failed to materialize as it was Glory who seized the initiative. First Horsley was found in space on the right by Despotovski, and he made ground into the penalty area before firing a shot past Bolton but unfortunately for him also agonizingly just past both the far post and Damian Mori's outstretched foot.

Just 10 minutes later it was Mori who had the opportunity when he burst into the penalty area and bearing down on goal brought a great save out of Bolton at the near post.

Then with just 4 minutes left on the clock the moment all of Perth waited for finally arrived as Mori won a 50/50 ball in the middle with Srhoj, laid it off left to Miller who was overlapping, he cut inside 3 defenders and while being tackled somehow managed to squeeze the ball out to Mori, who in true striker fashion got his foot to the ball. In almost slow motion effect the entire 38111 spectators watches as the ball rolled passed Bolton and slowly made its way just inside the Sharks left hand goalpost before snugly sitting in the back of the net. Waves of emotion were then released as both players and fans knew the long wait was finally over.

Just minutes later Mark Shields blew the final whistle and the celebration continued. It may not have been the best of games but it was certainly like most Grand Finals full of tension. The difference this year for Perth was that there appeared to be more steel about their play and they had a creative midfield that outplayed the Sharks one. Where Perth goes from here remains to be seen as they are resigned to losing some of their squad in the off season. Already on the way from the club are Harnwell, Price and by all reports Gumprecht. These will be hard players to replace. As for the Sharks well they will be disappointed that they did not create even one worthwhile scoring attempt in the 2nd half but will still go out of this season with the Premiership.