Glory bow out of finals race

Perth Glory’s finals series is over after a gut wrenching 4-2 loss on penalties to the Wellington Phoenix in a tense Hyundai A-League minor semi-final.

Perth Glory-s finals series is over after a gut wrenching 4-2 loss on penalties to the Wellington Phoenix in a tense Hyundai A-League minor semi-final.

With the two teams locked 1-1 after 120 minutes of football it came down spot kicks and Wellington goalkeeper Liam Reddy – who kept his side in the match throughout with some smart saves – saved attempts by Naum Sekulovski and Scott Bulloch to end Perth-s best season in the A-League.

Paul Ifill, Andrew Durante, Tim Brown and Adrian Caceres all converted for the Phoenix, while Steven McGarry and Daniel McBreen were successful for Glory.

“I-m proud of the boys and I thought we probably created the better chances of the game,” said Perth coach Dave Mitchell.

“We all know it-s not easy to come here. I-m proud of their achievement this year.

“It-s a sad way to go but the game plan and the way we played was great.”

A delighted Ricki Herbert admitted it had been tough sitting through the shoot-out.

“I can really sympathise with Dave and the Perth guys. They-ve had a hell of a season and it was always going to be a tough one.

“It-s not always the best way to go out but the flip side of that is that we-re through and we get another shot which is great.”

It was no surprise the match, which began with a moment-s silence in memory of former Socceroo Ian Gray, went to extra time and penalties given how tight the two previous encounters between the teams at Westpac Stadium had been this season.

The teams largely battled it out in midfield for the opening 30 minutes with neither side able to get the crucial breakthrough and it was the bone-crunching tackles that initially drew the biggest reaction from the vocal record Wellington crowd of 24,278.

The physical nature of the contest did not dissipate the whole match and referee Strebre Delovski dished out a total of seven yellow cards and one red – four to Perth and three to Wellington – over the 120 minutes.

Playing his first final, Scott Neville was one of Perth-s best players and his pace almost gifted the Glory the lead on 24 minutes when he broke clear, only to be denied by a sharp save.

Neville, who worked tirelessly down the right flank, then turned provider for Wayne Srhoj but his strike ricocheted off McKain.

The rash challenges continued from both sides and McKain was shown the first of his yellow cards.

From the resulting free-kick the ball found its way to Neville who beat Tony Lochhead and fired a cross in from the right only for Chris Coyne to head it wide.

Then on 37 minutes the deadlock was broken. A neat back heel from Ifill found Manny Muscat whose cross was tapped in by Greenacre.

The goal sparked the home side and Ifill then forced a fingertip save from Velaphi.

But Perth was not to be denied and fittingly it was the hard-working Neville who got the equaliser on 67 minutes when he connected with a well-struck free-kick by Burns to head past Reddy.

Both teams pressed hard for the winner as the clock wound down and extra time beckoned but to no avail.

The chances kept coming in the first period of extra time – the Phoenix-s best shot when Muscat had a free cross in but it was a poor delivery that flew over the head of Dadi.

Then just before the turnaround Neville went one-on-one with Reddy who pulled off a solid save to deny the 21-year-old.

The build-up to the move saw McKain shown his second yellow card for another rash challenge and given his marching orders.

Reddy saved his team again when play resumed after a short break, this time getting a hand to Neville-s goal-bound header and the match headed to penalties.

Match details:

Wellington Phoenix 1 (Chris GREENACRE 37-) (Wellington Phoenix wins 4-2 on penalties)
Perth Glory 1(Scott NEVILLE 67-)
Sunday 21 February 2010
Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Referee: Strebre Delovski
Assistant referees: Alex Glasgow and Rodney Allen
Fourth official: Chris Beath

Wellington Phoenix squad: 2. Manny MUSCAT, 3. Tony LOCHHEAD (15. Eugene DADI 76-), 4. Jon McKAIN, 6. Tim BROWN, 7. Leo BERTOS (14. Adrian CACERES 71-), 8. Paul IFILL, 9. Chris GREENACRE (18. Ben SIGMUND 105-), 13. Troy HEARFIELD, 17. Vince LIA, 22. Andrew DURANTE (c), 40. Liam REDDY (gk)

Substitutes not used:11. DANIEL, 20. Reece CROWTHER (gk)

Yellow cards: Jon McKAIN 32-/104-, Eugene DADI 118-

Red cards: Jon McKAIN 104-

Perth Glory Squad: 1.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 2.Danny MCBREEN, 3.Jamie COYNE, 4.Andy TODD, 6.Chris COYNE, 7. Jacob BURNS (c) (16.Adriano PELLEGRINO 112-), 10. Wayne SRHOJ (21.Mile STERJOVSKI 56-), 12.Scott NEVILLE, 14. Steven McGARRY, 17.Todd HOWARTH (13.Scott BULLOCH 56-), 19.Naum SEKULOVSKI

Substitutes not used: 5.Jamie HARNWELL, 20.Aleks VRTESKI (gk)

Yellow cards: Wayne SRHOJ 21-, Scott NEVILLE 41-, Andy TODD 60-, Jacob BURNS 72-

Red cards: Nil