Glory v Sydney

Round 23 report by Eamon Duffy
Perth Glory v Sydney United

Just 6801 spectators were in attendance at The Members Equity Stadium on a very warm humid night as Perth Glory clinched their 3rd Premiership in 4 years. Unfortunately the trophy was not part of that attendance and although the Glory were crowned Premiers they did not have a trophy to show for it.

The visitors had come to Perth knowing that only a victory would keep them in the hunt for a finals spot, but in fact with the exception of 2 chances either side of half time, they never really threatened a very strong Glory defence.

In fact only for the Man of the match performance from goalkeeper Liam Reddy the final outcome could have been a lot worse for them.

Perth Glory coach had made 1 change to the previous starting lineup with Adrian Caceres getting his first start this season at the expense of Brad Hassell.

After just 3 minutes of play good combination on the left wing between Mori and North finished with the latter sending in a dangerous cross that brought the first save from Reddy as he punched the ball clear.

Just 5 minutes later it was the same duo combining as North applied a superb tackle in midfield to win the ball and play it into Mori. The striker controlled the ball before beating his marker and firing in a shot that Reddy again did well to get down to and save.

In the 13th minute it was Pondeljak who combined with Mori and when the formers cross was headed clear it fell invitingly to Caceres who hit it first time on the volley and it screamed just inches wide of the right post, this time with Reddy beaten all ends up.

However Glory only had to wait another 7 minutes before they took the lead. Despotovski won the ball on the half way line and switched play to the right wing where he found Coyne raiding. Coyne controlled the ball before playing it at chest height to Mori just inside the box. He controlled the ball superbly before delaying his shot and firing with great power and accuracy beyond Reddy and into the back of the net.

After 26 minutes a complicated exchange of play in midfield by Glory finished with the ball being threaded through to Mori on the edge of the box, he again brought the ball under close control before finding himself with a one on one with Reddy, who somehow managed to stick a foot out and intercept the ball as the striker tried to round him.

The next great chance for Glory and save by Reddy came in the 34th minute when Coyne raided superbly down the right, got to the bye line and pulled the ball back to Despotovski. The strikers eyes lit up as he could see goal number 100 coming, however he had not allowed for Reddy who pulled off a superb save from a point blank shot.

United for the first time caused a scare in the crowd when in the 45 minute Heffernan from out of nowhere in midfield fired in a shot on target but unfortunately for him Petkovic was alert to it and saved.

The 2nd half was just 3 minutes old when United had their best chance of the game, following good lead up play by Zmire, his cross was headed goalwards by Beldham but again Petkovic was alert and saved.

In the 51st minute Coyne again got in a telling cross that was well controlled in the area by Bingley but not for the first time Reddy got his feet to the shot and blocked the ball.

It was Coyne again just 2 minutes later who crossed from the right to the far post, Mori gently guided his header down to Despotovski, only for the striker to turn and shoot wildly over the bar from just 10 meters out.

The home side were awarded a corner in the 62nd minute and Despotovski and Pondeljak combined in the corner for Despotovski to send a long cross to the far post that Murphy climbed well to get a header to, and for him to look on in agony as the ball beat Reddy but found the cross bar and the ball was cleared.

A further 6 minutes had elapsed before some great interchange between Mori and Bingley finished with Despotovski being set up with a shot that once again was superbly saved by Reddy.

The United keeper even improved on that save just 4 minutes later when he beat away a great Pondeljak shot from his near post.

In the 80th minute we had the strange site at the Members Equity of all 3 Glory substitutes being used at the same time as Packer, Hassell and Mrdja came on to replace Faria, Caceres and Mori.

For the 2nd time in 2 matches the changes had an immediate effect as with his first touch of the match Mrdja hit a stunning left foot drive from 15 meters following great play by Hassell and great running and crossing from North.

The goal finished off the game from United's point of view and Glory coasted to the final whistle and claim their 3rd Premiership in 4 years. For their sake they will hope that the Grand Final in April does not finish with the same result as their previous Premierships, that is on the assumption that they make it to the Grand Final.

The final action of the game was the sending off of United's Collina in the 2nd minute of injury time for alleged use of the elbow in a heading duel with Packer.