The PGFC Academy First Team remain firmly in the mix for a top-four NPL WA finish after securing a hard-fought 1-0 win over Stirling Lions at E&D Litis Stadium.
Midfielder Bryce Bafford scored the decisive goal nine minutes from time, firing home from the edge of the penalty area after Luke Salmon’s free-kick had crashed off the woodwork.
The result moved Richard Garcia’s side to within two points of fourth-placed Inglewood United and the Head Coach was delighted for his young charges.
“It was a good win for the boys today,” he said.
“We’ve spoken about turning our good performances into points and they did today and kept going for the whole game, which was pleasing.
“They stood up to the fight, won second balls and won a lot of headers, especially when they [Stirling] went direct late in the game
‘It was great for Bryce to get the winner. He’s really come into some good form of late and it’s taken him a while to get going.
“It’s difficult for him coming into the club and new surroundings, but he is full of confidence and it was great to see him on the scoresheet today.”
With ‘keeper Jackson Lee and midfielder Kristian Popovic away on international duty, Garcia brought in Nick Speca in goal, while Gomo Dukuly and Jordan Abrahams also came into the starting eleven and the game got off to a lively start.
After eight minutes, Stirling skipper Dean Cummings found space in the middle of the park and his long-range shot on the run flashed just wide of the post, while three minutes later, Glory’s Dukuly shot straight at Ryan Montgomery in the visitors’ goal having been played in by Luke Bodnar.
The Lions went close again on the quarter-hour, former Glory winger Yagoub Mustafa seeing his shot drift wide and they were then a touch fortunate not to go down to ten men after Darren O’Riordan’s crude challenge on Liam Murray was deemed worthy of only a yellow card by referee Tom Glavovic.
Either side of the break, the Lions again threatened through David Molinari, Zdenek Bezdek and Cummings, but as the second half progressed, Glory started to reassert themselves.
Montgomery was forced into a stunning reaction save to keep out a header from Daniel Walsh after the defender had lost his marker to meet Bafford’s free-kick and Salmon twice fired over from promising positions.
They were not to be denied in the 81st minute, however, Bafford reacting quickest on the edge of the box after Salmon’s free-kick had crashed against the bar and drilling home a first-time shot before being engulfed by his delighted teammates.
The vital victory capped off a successful day for the Academy teams after the Under-18s won 5-2 to move to the top of the table and the Under-20s cemented pole position with a 6-0 triumph.
Perth Glory 1 (Bafford 81′) Stirling Lions 0
Referee: Tom Glavovic
Perth Glory: GK Nicholas SPECA, 2.Zayd FARAH, 3.Jordan ABRAHAMS, 4.Daniel WALSH, 5.Alessandro CICARTI, 6.Luke BODNAR, 7.Ethan BROOKS (17.Trent OSTLER 58’), 8.Josh SAMSON, 9.Luke SALMON, 10.Liam MURRAY (15.Bryce BAFFORD 67’), 11.Gomo DUKULY (19.Gabriel POPOVIC 75’)
Substitutes not used: RGK Jacob RANGE, 22.Jack LEECH
Yellow cards: Samson 30’
Red cards: None
Stirling Lions: GK Ryan MONTGOMERY, 3.Darren O’RIORDAN, 4.David MOLINARI, 5.Steven MCDONALD, 6.Dhhors CHOL, 7.Yagoub MUSTAFA, 8.Dean CUMMINGS, 9.Zdenek BEZDEK, 10.Danny JONES, 12.Jackson MORGAN (11.Michael WANTEE 67’), 13.Andrew MARANTA (19.Ajak Riak 72’)
Substitutes not used: RGK Daniel MARQUES, 2.Renee KISESA, 16.Nelson TSHONGO
Yellow cards: O’Riordan 38’
Red cards: None