Despite what was probably their most impressive display this season Parramatta Power had the 3 points on offer snatched away from them by a Perth Glory who, according to Coach Bernd Stange, "stopped playing skilful and connected football after 30mins … and 0-1 up."
Certainly Perth were hardly in the game in a frenetic second half and it was only a penalty awarded to, and converted by, Bobby Despotovski which gave them the points at the death knock. David Mitchell seemed a little puzzled still when he said after the game "we didn't deserve to lose".
On a very warm and extremely humid Friday night in Sydney's second CBD on the Parramatta River David Mitchell's Parramatta Power were seeking to get back on track after the 'wheels fell off' last week in Adelaide and give their rising crowd numbers some reason to continue to come.
Bernd Stange's Perth Glory came thousands of km east still smarting from the recent home loss to Marconi and, despite last week's 7-2 demolition derby, they were eager to wrest points off a fellow top 6 team to put their title bid back on the rails. Indeed Stange said afterwards that they were "big points against a close opponent away".
In keeping with this (even with Brad Maloney left on the bench) Perth Glory still had an attacking look about it. Alistair Edwards came back from injury to provide penetration on the left and on the right Robert Trajkovski likewise. Up front NSL leading goal scorer Damien Mori paired with Despotovski.
Parramatta Power started the match in even more attacking mode with Joel Griffiths, Joe Miller, and even Steve Berry, pushed up.
The other Miller in the game, Perth's Scott, made himself felt in the 4th min when he received a sweet diagonal ball whilst free in the area but blasted it over. From the first of 17 corners in the game Power also tested the ball boys/girls with a blast over the bar.
At the 13th min mark as Perth took control of the game Mori curled a free kick into Andrew Crews in the Power goal and the custodian was forced to punch clear.
In order to breach the massive defensive wall that Parramatta were throwing up Glory's Mori, Despotovski, and Edwards were weaving patterns into and at times through the static Power defence. A sweet little flick on from Mori to Despotovski deserved a better result.
Parramatta was losing its way a little with passes increasingly going astray. Power's slow build up was not helping as Glory moved players around swiftly to counter.
In the 33rd min the opening goal came from a run by Jamie Harnwell into the area and his pinpoint ball to Mori was converted well by slipping it under the advancing keeper.
Power could have had an early equaliser with David Lee making an easy header of a cross from Berry look hard. Griffths started to come into the game more and in the 40th min his run into the area prompted by a quick release by Crews was brought to a halt by what seemed to be a 'dropped shoulder' by Jason Petkovic. The resultant penalty was well converted by Miller.
Power was now dominating and as the half ran down had several chances as they moved the ball around as fast and accurately as Perth had earlier.
After the break Parramatta came out firing with Griffiths early show blocked. Then came a sequence of play that would have to be seen to appreciate and as such is hard to describe. A 'pinball machine' is probably an apt description. So many players touched to ball in the box it is a wonder than one of them couldn't get it into the Glory net.
Perth rallied it's defence but could make little headway up front until against the run of play in the 63rd min a free-kick was awarded to Perth 25m out for the downing of Despotovski by Bennett. Kasey Wehrman slotted it over the wall and into the top left corner giving Crews no chance.
Again Power snatched the initiative and attack almost constantly only to see desperate and courageous play by the Perth defence save the day. In the 68th min Griffiths makes a run on the right and hits an excellent cross under pressure and in the box Miller bundles it past the keeper to draw level.
Again Power put on the pressure and in the 78th min Perth make changes dropping the wing men, Edwards and Trajkovski, and you could be forgiven for thinking Glory wanted to sit on the draw. Significantly they still have two men up front.
Parramatta continue to pressure but to no avail and when Mori ran at the Power defence in the 88th minute and slipped the ball to Despotovski only to be hooked down by former Socceroo Alex Tobin it was by no means certain that Power could be held out. Referee Matthew Breeze pointed to the spot however and Despotovski made no error in scoring.
A last gasp header by Thorp for Power and it was all over. Perth had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
After the game Stange was almost apologetic that his side had played such ordinary football and still won. Mitchell admitted that his opening approach was flawed and he was pleased that in the 2nd half the team had dominated.
Perth are back on track and asked about player losses overseas ruining the teams top 6 run he was very clear in stating that "we won't allow any player to go this season".
The game was very entertaining for the good crowd but not a great game as free kicks, corners, and missed passes disrupted it. Best for Glory: Despotovski, Petkovic, and Edwards; for Power: Miller, Brown, Blagojevic. The Power crowd were more vocal, with a core group of about 20-30 chanting and singing fans, and a small band a Glory fans that cheered their teams onto the bus added to the occasion.