All guts but no glory

A spirited performance by Perth Glory has gone unrewarded as Wellington Phoenix took all three points courtesy of a late strike by Leo Bertos on a wet and windy evening in New Zealand.

A spirited performance by Perth Glory has gone unrewarded as Wellington Phoenix took all three points courtesy of a late strike by Leo Bertos on a wet and windy evening in New Zealand.

The Glory dominated proceedings in the second half and twice hit the cross bar with the game locked at one-all but were ultimately undone when a 35 meter free kick from Bertos took a deflection off a Glory defender and flew past the outstretched hand of keeper Tando Velaphi.

It was a deflating finish for the visitors who looked the much better side as the game wore on despite being forced into two early substitutions with Chris Coyne feeling the effects of a virus and Victor Sikora off with a corked quad.

Sikora in particular had made a significant contribution until he was forced from the ground after half an hour, the former Dutch international opening the scoring for Perth in the fourth minute.

The tenacious midfielder stole the ball from Michael Ferrante about 25 yards from goal and then drove his way to the top of the box to expertly slot the ball underneath advancing Phoenix custodian Mark Paston.

It was the perfect start for Perth however Sikora was soon struggling to keep pace with the match as he struggled to overcome a bruising challenge from Ferrante in the second minute of the match which earned the Phoenix midfielder a yellow card.

Sikora-s substitution followed that of Coyne who departed after 25 minutes as a virus sapped the Socceroo of his energy. The early changes forcing Dave Mitchell to reshape his squad and to their credit they adapted well.

As expected Wellington found something extra in front of their home fans as the first half ticked away and secured the equaliser through Paul Ifill on 24 minutes. The striker putting away a header from a pin point Bertos cross much to the disappointment of the Glory defence.

The home side continued to attack but Velaphi was up for the challenge, the Olyroos goal keeper making several spectacular saves to deny the Phoenix.

Perth had an opportunity on the stroke of half time to reclaim the lead but Wayne Srhoj-s header was cleared off the line to leave the scores locked at a goal apiece.

The second half saw a much more confident Glory outfit take to the pitch and the visitors proceeded to create several terrific scoring opportunities. Mile Sterjovski was enjoying getting amongst the action in midfield while Todd Howarth, playing just his second match, was outstanding on the left wing.

Five minutes after the restart youngster Andrija Jukic and Branko Jelic played a beautiful one-two, Jelic-s delicate back heal giving Jukic time and space for a shot but he blasted the opportunity over the cross bar with just the keeper to beat.

Wellington was then thanking the crossbar as it came to the rescue twice in quick succession. The first chance created by Howarth and almost finished by Sterjovski, while it was the former Perth SC man who saw his shot ricochet off the bar ten minutes later.

In between those unlucky misses Howarth delivered another wonderful cross to pick out Jelic in the 6 yard box but the former Bundesliga striker couldn-t keep his header down and it narrowly flew over the bar.

Glory denied Wellington a chance with ten minutes remaining when Adriano Pellegrino cleared off the line however the home side found a fortunate winner five minutes later courtesy of a former Glory favourite.

Bertos deciding to have a ping on goal from a long range and his decision was justified as the shot took a fortunate deflection from a Perth defender to leave Velaphi stranded despite his best efforts to keep the ball out.

After two tough away matches to start the season Perth will return home to the familiar surround of ME Bank Stadium and a clash against Newcastle on Sunday 23 August.

Hyundai A-League 2009/10 – Rd 2

Wellington Phoenix 2 (Ifill 24-, Bertos 85-)
Perth Glory 1 (Sikora 4-)
Sunday, 16 August 2009 at Westpac Stadium, Wellington

Crowd: 10,024
Referee: Peter O-Leary

Wellington Phoenix: 1. Mark PASTON (gk), 2. Manny MUSCAT, 3. Tony LOCHHEAD, 4. Jon McKAIN (17. Vince LIA 75-), 5. DIEGO (13. Troy HEARFIELD 74-), 7. Leo BERTOS, 8. Paul IFILL (11. DANIEL 74-), 9. Chris GREENACRE, 10. Michael FERRANTE, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 22. Andrew DURANTE (c)

Substitutes not used: 20. Reece CROWTHER (gk)
Yellow Cards: Michael Ferrante 2-
Red Cards:

Perth Glory: 1.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 4.Andy TODD, 6.Chris COYNE (23.Andrija JUKIC 25-), 7.Jacob BURNS (c), 8.Victor SIKORA (17.Todd HOWARTH 29-), 10.Wayne SRHOJ, 11.Branko JELIC, 12.Scott NEVILLE, 16.Adriano PELLEGRINO (24.Matthew MAYORA 88-), 19.Naum SEKULOVSKI, 21.Mile STERJOVSKI

Substitutes not used: 20.Aleks VRTESKI (gk)
Yellow Cards: Wayne Srhoj 78-, Adriano Pellegrino 84-
Red Cards: