Another trip up to Newcastle on a Friday night, all these kms / threat of rain, is it worth it? Well this time I had the company of two Glory supporters (recently moved over east) and was recognised and greeted effusively as I entered the ground by a couple of ladies I sat with last week at Belmore, the NYL were winning - so I was in good spirits. This was tempered by the expectation of a thumping from Glory and the half-time run for the Rowdies Steve Bradbury had put me down for. Perth must have been favoured as runaway leaders despite the sweeper Buljabasic being out & even though the Breakers had been showing big commitment against sides over the past few weeks. My report is short as I took no notes & spent time getting kitted up and down from the Rowdies match.
The game started at a good pace which it was to continue in, and over the first 15 mins Breakers showed that they were able to push Glory back and pressure well, and Glory that Markovski (free kick saved by Catlin) and Despotovski (goal taken off a sweet cross in the box, 0-1) are not to be given any latitiude. The goal sparked Breakers and began a period when Perth were almost pinned in their half. It wasn't pretty stuff, hard grafting and running, and lots of wasted ball - but it was taking it's toll on Glory's confidence. Despite this the Perth defence was holding firm with Gavin Wilkinson and Danny Hay making their presence felt (particularly on little Johnny Bounovaglia). The midfield battle between former Breakers Troy Halpin and Andy Roberts was a highlight. My companions were not happy however at half-time.
The Rowdies v media game at half-time was won easily by the Rowdies despite giving about a decade in average age to the media (1-0). The park surface is fantastic but I had forgotten after 11 years retirement how much running a midfielder does.
The second half started as the second had ended but I am afraid I was in an oxygen deficient state for 10 mins and in the change rooms when Shannon neatly placed a side foot past Franken and a defender off a nice cross from Yoon, 1-1. The battle raged up and down the park, and although not pretty to watch it was exciting, with Newcastle showing heaps of commitment and following a Lee Sterrey plan to a T. Perth seemed to be holding back but was this an elusion. At 74mins Sterrey makes a change which was to take the match for him. Surprisingly taking off Glenn Sprod, he brought on Greg Owens (last year in NYL). The ball goes up the left flank and Perth try to clear but it skews back into the middle where a running Owens brings the ball into contention and wacks a sweet volley from 25m into the net past a static Franken. I had just returned to 'my post' after running to the fence in celebration when up steps big John Markovski and whips in one of his flicks to beat Catlin at the near post, 2-2. After this Perth didn't seem to be able to lift a gear and go on with it (jet lag / travel stiffness?) and the Breakers sensing a chance here never gave up. As we entered the reasonable amount of extra time, it looked like a draw would be a great result for Newcastle. Strike me lucky but again a ball flies out from the Perth area and from 30m Owens hits it as it drops and it sails into the top left hand corner of the net! Pandemonium at Breakers stadium as the last 2 mins roll out leaving a shattered couple of Perth fans and thousands of smiling Breakers fans, and an over the moon team. Bring on Carlton!
Great if not beatiful game, with lots of excitment. Best for Breakers: Pryce, Roberets, Shannon; with a special award to 17yr old Greg Owens for two of the sweetest long range goals you'll see. perhaps we should bring up a few more YL, who BTW won 1-0 over Sydney United Colts to stay on top of the table. Best for Perth: Wilkinson, Hay, Miller.