The Perth Glory defeated Northern Spirit 5-3 at Pittwater Park tonight in what was a thoroughly entertaining and erratic match. The visitors led by the odd goal in seven at half time thanks to goals from Tom Pondeljak, Damien Mori, Bobby Despotovski and Bradley Hassell. For the home side, off season recruit Wayne OıSullivan netted twice and fringe Young Socceroo Matthew Osman scored his first NSL goal.
Hassellıs second, moments into the second half, was enough to seal a well-deserved victory for Perth and send the Glory back home with their undefeated intact in 2004.
The Spirit got off to a dream start when OıSullivan fired a low shot towards goal after some great lead up work by Dylan MacAllister to open the scoring.
The home sides joy was short lived, as within a frantic four minutes, the Glory scored three times to take a comfortable, and seemingly unassailable lead.
To the Spiritıs credit, with a special nod to MacAllister, the home side rallied hard and pulled back the two-goal deficit towards the end of the first half.
Both goals were the result of some fantastic play by MacAllister, who was again faultless up front for the Spirit.
Within minutes though, Hassell restored the Gloryıs lead after a terrible mix up in the Spiritıs defence.
Hassell was virtually given a license to roam down the left flank as former youth international Matthew Hunter proved no match for the experienced winger, and was caught out time and time again.
The flat Spirit back four was constantly exploited by the fast breaking Glory complemented by the speed and cohesion offered by Mori and Despotovski.
At half time the home side was still very much in the encounter, but one sensed that the Glory was always in control.
Jason Petkovicıs goal was in effect untroubled in the second stanza as the Glory adopted a much more cautious approach after reinstating their two goal cushion.
Shaun Murphy and Mark Byrnes were solid at the back and wingers Matt Horsley and Hassell were a constant threat to Spiritıs defence.
Apart from MacAllister and workhorse OıSullivan, the Spirit lacked a player to push the final pass that was necessary to unlock the tight Glory defense.
Henderson had a night to forget between the sticks and coach Lawrie McKinna will be looking forward to Alex Tobinıs return from injury, so to add some steel to what was a tardy Spirit defense.