Late finishing flourish fires Perth past Wellington

by Jeremy Ruane
with the compliments of

Hyundai A-League 2013/14 season, Round 9
6:45pm, Friday 6 December, 2013 – East Perth Oval

Perth Glory FC 4
(Sidnei Sciola Moraes 16′, 90’+1, Michael Thwaite 60′, Adrian Zahra 82′)
Wellington Phoenix FC 2
(Stein Huysegems 32′, Paul Ifill 48′)

Two goals in the last ten minutes helped Perth Glory score a come-from-behind 4-2 victory over Wellington Phoenix at NIB Stadium on 6 December to climb into the Hyundai A-League play-off spots as the competition reached the one-third stage of the season.

A lively opening stanza captured the attention of the 8,232 fans present, with visiting goalkeeper Glen Moss forced to smother efforts from Jamie MacLaren, Danny De Silva – one of a host of youngsters in Perth’s under-strength side – and Ryan Edwards in the first twelve minutes of the match.

Stein Huysegems, with a twenty-five yarder, went close for Wellington during this period, but it was the home team who opened the scoring in the sixteenth minute, and how!

Sidnei Sciola Moraes, who had already exposed the shortcomings of Wellington’s Louis Fenton – there is no way on earth he’s a fullback, so why persist with the practice of trying to fit a square peg in a round hole? – latched onto a loose ball in midfield, surged forward and, from twenty-five yards, hit an absolutely ferocious drive into the roof of the net. Cracking strike!

Another Fenton blunder two minutes later almost led to Perth doubling their lead. The goalscorer turned provider, picking out Chris Harold with a cross which he headed down into the stride of De Silva. From ten yards, the youngster sent a shot fizzing past Moss’ posts.

Within seconds, Harold was charging at pace at Wellington’s retreating rearguard, beating a couple on his way into the penalty area before letting rip with an effort which Moss blocked with his legs in the nineteenth minute.

Until this point, Wellington had barely fired a shot in anger, but the recalled figure of Paul Ifill offered some resistance in this regard in the 21st minute, cutting a swathe in off the right flank before forcing a smothered save from Danny Vukovic, who, by his standards, had a quiet game.

He was called upon again four minutes later, however, with Ifill again testing the ‘keeper, this time with a shot on the turn after Kenny Cunningham had pounced on a Steven McGarry error and linked with Huysegems, who lashed a twenty-five yard free-kick over the bar on the half-hour.

What that lacked in accuracy, the Belgian’s 36th minute effort more than made up for, as he drew Wellington level. The otherwise anonymous Jeremy Brockie controlled the ball before guiding it into the path of his fellow striker, who sent a twenty yarder careering into the top corner to level the scores.

1-1 became 2-1 to Wellington four minutes into the second half. Having started the half strongly, the visitors earned a corner, which was played short to Vince Lia – another who was conspicuous by his absence, this contribution apart.

His teasing near post cross picked out the unmarked figure of Ifill, whose glancing header angled the ball across goal and into the net via the inside of the far post – 2-1 Wellington, who have yet to win in this season’s A-League.

Perth were determined that would remain the case, and set about the task of fighting their way back into the contest. Yet another Fenton error saw possession gifted to Scoila Moraes, who raced to the edge of the penalty area before unleashing a shot which had ‘bottom far corner’ written all over it, at least until Moss got just enough of the bottom of his hand on the ball to divert it to safety.

Six minutes later, Wellington were wondering about the injustices of life. Albert Riera was not a happy camper after Ryan Edwards trod on his inner thigh after the Spaniard had won a tackle, so quite how Perth ended up being awarded the free-kick …

Referee Matthew Gillett doubtless had his reasons, however, and Scoila Moraes duly delivered a peach of a free-kick to the far post from way out near the touchline. Perth captain Michael Thwaite dashed in to meet the ball, and promptly sent it crashing into the bottom far corner of the net with a devastating header.

There wasn’t a lot Moss could have done in the circumstances, so a tense final half-hour was in store as both teams went about trying to settle a contest which has been dubbed ‘the distance derby’.

After Moss had saved from Perth substitute Ndumba Makeche, referee Gillett got tongues wagging by brandishing both cards to Riera in the 72nd minute, seconds before his withdrawal from the fray for debutant Matthew Ridenton.

Wellington players surrounded the referee and pointed out the errors of his ways, meaning the substitution could still take place – this being just the first time Riera had been booked in this contest.

With twelve minutes remaining, Wellington substitute Jason Hicks whipped in a free-kick from the right which Ben Sigmund only just failed to get on the end of. The sphere continued on past Vukovic’s right-hand post, much to the ‘keeper’s relief.

Four minutes later, Perth regained the lead. McGarry pounced on a loose ball and powered through the inside left channel en route into the penalty area, beating a couple of players once within the confines of same.

A challenge came in which took the ball off the midfielder’s toes, but directed it straight to the far better placed Adrian Zahra, the substitute swivelling before slamming home from ten yards, to the delight of those fans who stayed on to support their side to the end, not the “fair-weather” set who could see no way back for Perth once they fell behind early in the second half, so headed for home.

Not only did they miss out on that goal, but a fourth one as well, in stoppage time. Makeche made his way to the by-line on the right before steering the ball back to Harold, who miscued his shot completely.

Zahra latched onto it, and guided it back into the stride of Sciola Moraes, despite the fact the scorer of the game’s opening goal had been nursing what looked like a hamstring twinge seconds earlier.

Given the chance to shoot for goal, the Brazilian did so with relish, and the power on his shot was such that it squeezed under the diving figure of Moss and over the goal-line behind him – 4-2.

Brockie was denied in fine fashion by Vukovic in the time remaining, as Wellington looked to mount the comeback to end them all in what little time remained. But this was Perth’s day, their come-from-behind triumph firing them into the top half of the table on a day their winless opponents’ woes increased further.

Match details
Crowd: 8,232

Perth Glory FC: Vukovic (gk); Davies, Thwaite, Clisby, Woodcock; Harold, R. Edwards (booked, 59) (Zahra, 59), De Silva (C. Edwards, 46), McGarry, Sciola Moraes (booked, 90); MacLaren (Makeche, 59)

Wellington Phoenix FC : Moss (gk) ; Fenton (booked, 64), Sigmund, Durante, Caira; Ifill (Hicks, 71), Lim, Riera (booked, 72) (Ridenton, 73), Cunningham (Bertos, 78); Huysegems, Brockie

Ratings and points
Referee: Matthew Gillett 5/10
Match 7/10
Pitch 7/10

Player points:
3. Sidnei Sciola Moraes (PG)
2. Paul Ifill (WP)
1. Danny De Silva (PG)
By Jeremy Ruane