Perth edge Wellington in uninspiring affair

by Jeremy Ruane
with the compliments of

Hyundai A-League – Season 13 – 2017/2018 – Round 11
7pm, Saturday 16 December, 2017 – East Perth Oval

Perth Glory FC 1 (Diego Castro Glory 59′)
Wellington Phoenix FC 0

Perth Glory edged Wellington Phoenix 1-0 in the latest Hyundai A-League “Distance Derby” at NIB Stadium on December 16, a result which leaves the beaten team adrift at the bottom of the table.

In a game which rarely captured the imagination, the 7,750 fans present saw the visitors enjoy the better of the early exchanges, with Adam Parkhouse’s cross-shot whistling narrowly past the far post in the fourth minute, sixty seconds prior to Liam Reddy’s clearance off the toes of Matthew Ridenton, as Perth failed to deal with a through ball.

Wellington’s momentum was struck square amidships in the seventh minute when Dario Vidosic stayed down after a strong Shane Lowry tackle. The striker twisted his knee in the challenge, and was showing all the signs of the dreaded ACL injury when he eventually departed from the fray after trying to run it off.

Poor passes and stoppages aplenty were features of the first half, but Perth finally got their act together in the twentieth minute. Diego Castro – the one player on the park who consistently rose above the mediocrity which was much in evidence – picked out Mitch Nichol’s run down the left, from where he delivered a low cross for Joe Knowles to convert.

Marco Rossi’s intervention prevented the youngster from breaking the deadlock on this occasion, and it was the defender’s delightful through ball seven minutes later which presented Andrija Kaludjerovic with a chance, only for Lowry to intervene once again.

In between times, Wellington had twice gone close to opening the scoring. Ali Abbas, Vidosic’s replacement, latched onto a wayward clearance and fed Kaludjerovic on the left. His low cross picked out Ridenton in the heart of the penalty area, from where he fired a shot on the turn.

Lowry flung himself at the shot and succeeded in blocking it, inadvertently using his arm in the process. Wellington immediately appealed for a penalty, but their claims were ignored, the ball rolling free for Abbas to batter a twenty-five yarder straight at Reddy.

Six minutes before half-time, Perth picked up the pace of a dull spectacle, with Jacob Italiano feeding Castro, whose deft touch allowed Chris Harold to surge forward down the right before picking out Knowles ahead of him.

The striker’s cross arced behind Castro, but gave renewed vigour to the home team, who went close again on the stroke of half-time when Joseph Mills picked out Italiano on the left, where he did Scott Galloway a treat before laying the ball back to Castro.

Had he fired first time, there’s every chance Perth would have been celebrating the opening goal. But the desire to over-elaborate overtook the playmaker, and the chance went begging.

Five minutes into the second spell, Wellington went desperately close to breaking the deadlock when Ridenton rattled the upright from twenty yards, after Abbas and Kaludjerovic had teamed up to reward the midfielder’s supporting run.

That stirred Perth into a concerted spell of pressure, Nichol’s off-the-ball run allowing Harold to exploit the space to good effect in the 53rd minute. His cross from the by-line resulted in Castro spectacularly volleying over the bar, but didn’t put Perth off in any way – they kept on coming.

Four minutes later, Galloway’s vital flicked clearance prevented Castro from converting Italiano’s cross from the by-line on the right. But the hosts weren’t to be denied, and in the 59th minute Castro broke the deadlock, controlling the ball well then picking his spot after Jacob Poscoliero had released Nichols down the right once more.

Four minutes later, Lewis Italiano’s brave save at the feet of Nichols prevented Perth from doubling their lead after Castro had played an inviting through ball for his team-mate to exploit.

Wellington offered little in response – Alex Rufer’s glancing header from Ridenton’s cross went past the post in the 65th minute, while in stoppage time Tom Doyle headed Goran Paracki’s header past the upright – but Perth always had that little extra in hand to keep them at arm’s length, with Castro’s vision and execution ultimately the difference between the teams in this uninspiring affair.

Match details

Crowd: 7,750

Perth Glory FC: Reddy (gk); Walker, Poscoliero, Lowry, Mills; Harold (Brimmer, 81), Nichols (Chianese, 71), Wilson (booked, 86), J. Italiano; Knowles (booked, 44) (Guerao, 46 (booked, 90)), Castro (booked, 90)

Wellington Phoenix FC: L. Italiano (gk); Galloway, Mullen, Rossi (Watson, 83), Doyle; Parkhouse, Paracki, Rufer, Ridenton (Singh, 67); Vidosic (Abbas, 14), Kaludjerovic

Ratings and points

Referee: Referee: Jarred Gillett 4/10

Match 3/10
Pitch 4/10

Players points:
3. Castro
2. Ridenton
1. Lowry