Glory v Power

Round 20 report by Eamon Duffy
Perth Glory v Parramatta Power

Tonight at the Members Equity Stadium in Perth in front of the biggest crowd of the season - 12,624 - the home side produced a display of sheer power and excitement to play 2nd place Parramatta Power off the pitch and open a 5 point gap at the top of the NSL, with a game in hand.

From this position it is indeed very difficult to see how Glory cannot claim the Premiership and guarantee a major semi final match at the Members Equity Stadium.

It is also likely that Perth and power will have to do battle 3 more times this season before one or the other is crowned NSL Champions.

After the match Power coach Nick Theodorakopoulos conceded the top spot to Perth, whose coach Mich d'Avray refused to accept. It was just another measure of the mind games that went on all night and that was won convincingly by the Glory coach.

With both teams suffering from both injuries and International duties it was always going to be a battle between the coach as to which side would be best prepared.

Glory opted to start with resigned defender Harnwell in the middle of the defence with Murphy and to move Byrnes to the left back position in place of the injured Miller.

To say these moves paid off would be an understatement, as Harnwell played as if he had never left the club and had been playing alongside Murphy for years and Byrnes completely outplayed ex Glory favorite Gumprecht.

With Gumprecht out of the picture, although he still was close to the best Power player, the visitors looked to be without ideas in attack, where Perth continually played a brand of attacking football not seen for many a year in Perth.

Tonight's performance from Perth was indeed very close to its best ever since it started in the NSL. They completely outplayed a very good Power side and did it with such panache that how they could be called boring by anybody is beyond this writer.

The game started like a game of chess, with Glory conceding possession in the early minutes without being stretched at the back. Gradually though the Perth side started to gain control of the vital midfield area, especially with Byrnes on top of Gumprecht and Colosimo being controlled by Bingley.

After 18 minutes the home side won a free kick which was floated into the penalty area by Despotovski, a clearing header followed but the ball fell to Mrdja just outside the box and he took aim before firing perfectly into the back of the net to give Glory the lead.

With this first vital goal the confidence of the home side soared and they proceeded to lay siege to the Power goal. Just 2 minutes after the goal a raid down the right finished with Mrdja crossing towards the far post, the ball was headed back by Despotovski into the path of Hassell but the normally ever reliable midfielder managed to blast a volley over the bar from 10 meters.

However we did not have to wait long for Glory to extend their lead, as when Power tried to break out of their own half they were continuously hassled by both Mrdja and Pondeljak until the latter won the ball at half way. He sprinted towards the Power box before laying off perfectly to Mrdja.

The big striker took possession of the ball and rounded the keeper, then just as he was about to finish he was tackled by Thompson and brought crashing down. Referee Lenny had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot and issuing Thompson with a yellow card.

Despotovski duly dispatched the ball into the top right side of the goal as Bolton dived the wrong way and give Glory a 2-0 lead.

Just 2 minutes later another great Glory move had Despotovski releasing Hassell down the left, he crossed to Byrnes who in turn controlled the ball and chipped it towards the far post, there Pondeljak got to the ball and he crossed it to Hassell whose shot was saved by Bolton.

After 32 minutes again combination work by Despotovski and Hassell had the latter playing the ball into Pondeljak, who in turn delivered a great pass to Mrdja, but this time the big forward fired over the bar.

Just 2 minutes from half time it was Power's turn to exert some pressure and Petrovski gained possession just outside the Glory box, he for the first time turned a Glory defender and fired in a shot that was just wide of the target.

The 2nd half was just 7 minutes old when Mrdja won a header in the middle of the park, the ball found Despotovski who hit a sublime pass to the running Pondeljak. The speedy midfielder carried the ball into the penalty area and rounded Bolton to get to the bye line. He then somehow managed to turn the ball back into the area and the unguarded goal where Mrdja had run to and had a simple job to tap in the Glory's third.

In the 70th minute it was Despotovski sending Mrdja clear, he ran towards goal before playing a great ball to Pondeljak, who controlled the ball well before shooting, however Bolton made a great save to parry the ball, which was just cleared before Despotovski could connect to finish.

In the 74th minute Power were awarded a disputed free, just 25 meters out and central to the goal. The wall was formed and Sekilovski stepped forward to hit a great shot over the wall and under the crossbar to give the visitors a lifeline they scarcely deserved.

However any hopes they had of a shock come from behind result were well and truly buried in the last minute when Hassell won a hard challenge on the edge of the area before passing to substitute Mori who in turn played the ball back perfectly for the 2nd Glory substitute Caceres to finish magnificently and put the icing on the Glory cake.

It was indeed a great performance and one that will send shudders through the NSL.