Aaron McEneff’s goal in the sixth minute of stoppage-time earned Glory one of the most remarkable results in the club’s history as they recovered from losing Jordan Elsey to a second-minute red card to secure a 1-0 win over high-flying Western Sydney Wanderers.
View full match highlights HERE.
The club’s return to its HBF Park home could hardly have got off to a worst start as the central defender received his marching orders just seconds into the game for a foul on Yeni Ngbakoto.
Bringing their numerical advantage to bear, Wanderers proceeded to pepper the Glory goal, striking the woodwork three times in the second half and also forcing Cameron Cook into a string of superb saves.
But Ruben Zadkovich’s side showed incredible resolve to withstand the bombardment and when former Glory man Tomi Mrcela was dismissed for a foul on substitute David Williams six minutes from time, the scene was set for a sensational finale.
Roared on by a vocal home crowd of 7980, the men in purple surged forward in the dying moments and earned their reward when McEneff let fly from the edge of the box and via a minor deflection, his shot found the back of Lawrence Thomas’ net.
The win moves Glory to within four points of the top six and Zadkovich was unsurprisingly full of praise for the way his charges defied all the odds to secure a result which keeps their Finals hopes alive.
View his full post-match media conference HERE.
“I’m really, really proud of the guys,” he said.
“Those moments, a red card that early in the game, tests the depth of players’ character and belief and I’m just super-proud that the reaction was that way.
“You need a little bit of luck in those moments as well and we haven’t had much luck in the last five or six weeks.
“We’ve had some good performances and lost… but tonight, defensively especially, there was a lot of effort and a real togetherness and a real belief and that probably makes me the most proud.”
Plenty of Members and fans were still finding their seats when Elsey’s departure left Glory facing a mountain to climb against an in-form Wanderers side seeking to lock in second spot in the table.
And it certainly seemed destined to be a long night for those of a purple persuasion as Brandon Borello went close with two early efforts and Adama Traore drew the first of what were to be many stunning saves from Cook.
Morgan Schneiderlin was the next Western Sydney player to be thwarted by the Glory ‘keeper who had signed a new, long-term contract and been named in the Olyroos squad earlier in the week.
Adam Taggart did see an effort blocked by a cluster of defenders close to half-time, but by and large it was one-way traffic and that pattern continued into the second half.
Borrello sent a glancing header narrowly wide before hitting the foot of the post with a fizzing strike and Wanderers’ top scorer was then denied twice by Cook in the space of 20 seconds.
Cook repeated the feat to tip a Calem Nieuwenhof effort onto the post and the Wanderers midfielder fired against the crossbar moments later as the visitors continued to pummel away at the home defence.
But a reprieve then arrived courtesy of Mrcela, who, as last man, hauled David Williams down on the halfway line and received a straight red for his efforts.
With the home faithful preparing to acknowledge the securing of a remarkably brave draw, McEneff ensured that they would instead have a famous win to savour.
The tireless Ryan Williams saw his cross from the left cleared to the Irishman at the edge of the box and he found the net to spark the wildest of celebration on and off the pitch.
ISUZU UTE A-League 2022/23 Season Round 20
Perth Glory 1 (McEneff 90+6′) Western Sydney Wanderers 0
Referee: Alex King
Perth Glory: 13.Cameron COOK (gk), 2.John KOUTROUMBIS, 4.Luke BODNAR (19.Zach DUNCAN 81′), 5.Mark BEEVERS (c), 6.Aaron MCENEFF, 7.Ryan WILLIAMS, 14.Jack CLISBY, 15.Jordan ELSEY, 16.Keegan JELACIC, 22.Adam TAGGART (18.David WILLIAMS 81′), 29.Darryl LACHMAN
Substitutes not used: 3.Jacob DOWSE, 28.Trent OSTLER, 30.Pierce CLARK (gk), 37.Jacob MUIR, 43.Adam ZIMARINO
Yellow Cards: Taggart, Cook
Red Cards: Elsey
Western Sydney Wanderers: 20.Lawrence THOMAS (GK), 3.Adama TRAORE, 4.Morgan SCHNEIDERLIN (c) (8.Oliver BOZANIC 26′), 5.Tomi MRCELA, 10.Milos NINKOVIC (33.Alexander BONETIG 86′), 11.Amor LAYOUNI (14.Nicolas MILANOVIC 86′), 16.Tom BEADLING, 17.Romain AMALFITANO (21.Jarrod CARLUCCIO 78′), 23.Yeni NGBAKOTO (9.Kusini YENGI 78′), 26.Brandon BORRELLO, 28.Calem NIEUWENHOF
Substitutes not used: 1.Daniel MARGUSH (GK), 19.Daniel WILMERING
Yellow Cards: Beadling, Amalfitano
Red Cards: Mrcela