Late Winner Fires Perth Past Wellington

by Jeremy Ruane:
with the compliments of

Wellington Phoenix FC 1 (Michael McGlinchey 73′)
lost to
Perth Glory FC 2 (Andy Keogh 32’, Jamie Maclaren 86’

Perth Glory silenced the 7,767 Wellington Phoenix fans present at Westpac Stadium on 12 October by scoring a late winner to clinch this opening round Hyundai A-League encounter by a 2-1 scoreline.

In a helter-skelter match, the visitors hit the ground running from the first whistle, and came desperately close to opening the scoring twenty seconds later. Scott Jamieson – a sound game – enjoyed the benefit of the bounce of the ball as he buccaneered down the left before picking out the late-arriving Mitch Nichols with his cross.

The former Brisbane Roar man controlled the ball deftly, but was prevented from executing his shot by a perfectly timed challenge from Thomas Doyle, one of five debutants in Wellington’s line-up.

Unperturbed, Perth continued to press, but came up against more resolute Wellington defending over the course of the next fifteen minutes, at which point the home team finally mounted an attack of note, one which involved the other newcomers to the team.

Nathan Burns and Roly Bonevacia combined with Alex Rodriguez to play in Michael McGlinchey. His shot was blocked, but Bonevacia latched onto the rebound and forced a parried save from Danny Vukovic. Burns swooped on the rebound and set up McGlinchey, but before he could strike Rostyn Griffiths and Dino Djulbic combined to spare Perth’s blushes.

After Burns had sent one flying over the bar on receipt of a McGlinchey pass, and Griffiths and Albert Riera had gone no holds barred into a thunderous challenge which saw the Perth player booked by referee Alan Milliner for following through, Wellington should have opened the scoring in the 29th minute.

Andrew Durante picked out McGlinchey with a pass which the playmaker instantly steered into the stride of Burns, whose well-timed run allowed him to outpace the Perth defence and bear down on goal, Vukovic his lone obstacle.

He proved to be a most formidable one, the goalkeeper producing a fine save with his legs to maintain parity on the scoreboard, a situation which lasted just three more minutes.

For Perth opened the scoring in style just after the half-hour mark. Nichols’ cross from the right was met by the head of former Eire international Andy Keogh, who darted in between Durante and Ben Sigmund to guide a delightful glancing header across the hitherto unoccupied figure of Glen Moss and into the far corner of the net.

Josh Risdon went close to doubling that advantage soon afterwards, but Wellington were unable to muster a response of note before the interval, soon after which Perth again threatened, this time via Nichols.

Nebosja Marinkovic’s free-kick was headed out by Durante well beyond the edge of the penalty area, but to a part of the pitch where Nichols was lurking. He met the ball flush on the volley, the ball swerving to the left of Moss, who flung himself full length to save superbly, holding onto the shot to boot.

This was the catalyst for a half of football laden with action at both ends of the park, as attacking thrusts were repeatedly met by defensive parries and counter-thrusts – it was a very open spectacle, with both teams striving to gain the upper hand.

Occasionally, the methods used weren’t always among those recognised by the Laws of the Game. Referee Milliner’s whistle became an increasingly obtrusive soundtrack to the encounter, with players of both teams allowing their frustrations to get the better of them at times as a few rugged tackles contributed to the contest.

Half-way through the second half, Wellington, who were pressing for an equaliser, twice went close within seconds. Bonevacia was denied on the penalty spot by a splendidly timed Richard Garcia tackle, while Burns sent the ball sizzling past the post upon receipt of that partial clearance.

Wellington’s pressure soon paid dividends – they drew level in the 73rd minute. Substitute Louis Fenton fed Bonevacia, who rewarded Burns’ well-timed run with a pass into his stride. A first-time cross to the near post area found McGlinchey arriving on cue, and he deftly steered the ball across Vukovic and into the far corner of the net.

The 1-1 scoreline prompted both teams to strive for a winner, with Vukovic fortunate to have his blushes spared by a fortuitous bounce having been caught in possession inside his penalty area by Jeremy Brockie soon after the equaliser.

Cue a grandstand finish, with Moss smothering the overlapping Risdon’s near post cross to stifle a 78th minute raid featuring Jamieson and Nichols. Four minutes later, it was Wellington’s turn to threaten, a clearance cannoning off Riera into Burns’ path, with the striker’s swerving drive being well parried by Vukovic.

Perth’s ‘keeper was relieved to see a Manny Muscat missile graze the side-netting soon after as the home team pressed for a winner, and was applauding his opposite number in the 84th minute as Moss produced a superb save to deny Nichols’ twenty yarder, Marinkovic and Keogh having combined to set up the chance.

With four minutes left, Perth struck what proved to be the decisive goal. Sigmund was unable to control a pass, unwittingly presenting possession to Youssouf Hersi as a result.

He sent substitute Jamie MacLaren scampering through the inside left channel from where he rifled a rocket into the roof of the net to clinch all three points for the Western Australians, a rare victory for the visitors on this side of the Tasman.

Match details:

Wellington Phoenix FC: Moss; Muscat, Sigmund, Durante, Doyle (Fenton, 61); Bonevacia (booked, 58) (Krishna, 90), Riera, Rodriguez (Lia, 80); Burns, Brockie, McGlinchey

Perth Glory FC: Vukovic; Risdon, Djulbic, Thwaite, Jamieson; Nichols (booked, 12), Marinkovic, Griffiths (booked, 26), Garcia (MacLaren, 80); Keogh, Hersi

Crowd: 7,767


Match  7
Pitch  8

3  Nichols (PG)
2  Burns (WP)
1  Jamieson (PG)

Referee: Alan Milliner 5/10