On a very hot evening in Canberra the home side posted only their second win of the season, and in doing so wiped away the horrible corresponding result in Perth. The visitors were only a shadow of what they could and should have been like and totally deserved to lose, and probably should be happy that the result wasn't what it should have been - double figures.
Early on Perth showed that they were not going to enjoy the trip to the nation's capital when very large holes appeared in their defence. After only five minutes, Canberra's first real good chance came about when Lachlan Armstrong challenged for the ball allowing it to fall to the feet of Rodrigo Moreno. With half the goal to look at and a keeper who was litterally facing the wrong way he wasted his shot sending it into the side netting.
It took only about another few chances and four minutes before the breakthrough came. A long run by one of Canberra's best, Michael Garcia, finished with him trying to chip Matassa from long range. The ball bounced back off the post and a completely unmarked Norman Kelly half-volleyed the ball back past the keeper to open the scoring.
The game settled down a bit and the old rubbish play we are more used to seeing at Bruce Stadium was coming back. It felt like an equaliser was about to come about, even though Perth never got near the Canberra goal for even a shot. Meanwhile the locals were providing chances after chances only to see them wasted, like in past games.
At the half hour Markovski made a run into the box and back-heeled the ball for Armstrong, but his first time shot was very well saved by Matassa for a corner. Armstrong was again in the action when he was put through for a one-on-one, the first of many, and I mean about 5 of them at least, but he took the ball too far and it was easily smothered by Matassa.
Five minutes from the break, Garcia made a run into the box and looked like he was about to shoot. Matassa went to cover the shot, but Garcia squared the ball only to find Armstrong too slow and another chance wasted. The crowd was getting restless. Then just before half-time, Perth were awarded a free-kick just outside the box. Paul Strudwick lined up and shot at the wall, which for some reason didn't do it's duty. The ball ricocheted and into the path of Bobby Despotovski who was only a meter out for the easy push in.
The scores were level at the break, but the visitors didn't deserve anything near that as other than the goal, they had once shot during the whole fo the first half. Those in the stands had seen this all before. It looked like the Cosmos were probably going to lose by a goal even though they held control over the whole game. Was Markovski going to make the difference.
The second half started well for the home team as they continued to pressure for that lead. Just after the half, a cross was devastating for the visitor's goalkeeper, when he clashed heads with Paul Wade. Paul had to be taken off to get a gash in his head covered whilst Vince was in a complete daze and really didn't know what was going on. In fact Matassa didn't know anything about the incident.
Then came the turning point. A throw went to Markovski, who first controlled the ball with his chest and then sent a bicycle-kick style 'hail mary' into the box. Matassa didn't come for the ball and so Armstrong and a defender challenged each other. Armstrong was first to the loose ball and volleyed it in superbly whilst falling down.
Only a minute later, Despotovski did what he normally does, something stupid. He, within 5m of Brazzale, head-butted Armstrong and was duly sent-off. So the visitors were to play out the last 40 mins a goal down as well as a player down. Unlike other times, Canberra was able to take advantage of this and moved the ball around with ease using both wings.
Perth rarely ventured forward and had only a handfull of shots, most of those in the last few minutes when the game was wrapped up. In the 66th minute Rodrigo Moreno manouvered to be free on the right side to send in a pin-point cross for Paul Dee to head in at the near post. Then 4 minutes later Dee sent in a cross from that very same side for Armstrong to beat Matassa but not Gavin Wilkinson on the line.
John Markovski, who was pulling his weight up front, was finally rewarded for a great night out, when Garcia headed back a cross from Dee for Johnno to slot home from close range. A well deserved goal for a player who did well all night and tried his heart out for his new club. The game now out of reach, both he and Wade were subbed off to the congratulatory cheers of the small crowd.
Tony Lemezina, who came on for Markovski, had two unbelievably excellent chances to increase the tally to five, but completely messed up both one-on-one chances. To say that the score should have been a lot more was really an understatement, and Tony's two misses late in the game just showed this.
Mike Lyons was undoubtedly pleased with the effort and said that "we could have scored 8, we missed 3-4 chances. In the second half we lifted. Big John is a catalyst; he took a lot of weight off the others." Mike felt that Moreno was the best, even though Kelly was awarded man-of-the-match. He said that "defensively we played well."
Mike noted that John Markovski was 'streetwise' and that hopefully the team would learn from this. Overall he was very pleased the team won tonight and could see no reason why they could not win the rest of the games this season.
Gary Marrochi was 'very disappointed'. He said he had 'no solutions', the player getting the red card didn't help and that if "we had lifted to our best we could have done better". He stated that "Canberra Cosmos deserved the win" and that "the second goal was the turning point." Overall Marrochi was 'very confident that the team would bounce back'.
Overall, this was really a one way street match with all Cosmos and really no Glory. Canberra controlled the midfield with Wade superb in tackling and taking the ball away and Moreno and Garcia controlling the flanks. In the backs Koch was outdone by one of my MOTM, George Sorras. George never let a ball past him throughout the game and most often went forward with it, having ripped it from the feet of an attacker.
The forwards need to settle down and hopefully John Markovski can help with this. Hopefully he can teach the rest of the players how to handle a one-on-one situation. Yeesh! So, a complete team effort and a well deserved win. As JM was saying in the dressing room - we're undefeated for this weekend and next.