Glory farewell a legend

Jamie Harnwell’s 256th and final game for Perth Glory has ended in a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Gold Coast United at nib Stadium.

Jamie Harnwell-s 256th and final game for Perth Glory has ended in a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Gold Coast United at nib Stadium.

“The club has always been there for me and at times it has been a rollercoaster.

“Unfortunately today wasn-t the fairytale finish,” Harnwell said.

The 13-year veteran again produced another lion-hearted utility performance with a customary all-action display, shackling last season-s Golden Boot winner Shane Smeltz to good effect, leaving his fellow-defenders in no doubt as to what was required of them and rumbling forward at set-pieces to cause the United defence plenty of anxious moments.

On the bench, meanwhile, Assistant Coach Stuart Munro took the reins with Ian Ferguson away in Sydney completing the coaching qualifications required for him to continue coaching the side next season and between them the two Scots opted to make several changes to the starting eleven.

In of course came skipper for the day Harnwell, with Todd Howarth dropping to the bench, while up front youngster Adam Taggart was given the nod to make his first senior start in the absence of Mile Sterjovski.

Neither side managed to create much in front of goal during a sluggish opening, but the game then exploded into life on 31 minutes as livewire attacker Golgol Mebrahtu raced into the box, forcing an exposed Harnwell to come across him in a bid to clear. Down went the youngster, leaving referee Jared Gillet little choice but to point to the spot and although a lengthy delay ensued as Mebrahtu was helped from the field, Smeltz kept his nerve to thump the spot-kick unerringly past Tando Velaphi.

Seemingly determined to spare the blushes of the man of the moment, Glory finally began to hit their straps in the immediate aftermath of the goal and on 37 minutes created their best opportunity of the half. Steven McGarry-s tenacity created a long-range shooting opportunity for Adriano Pellegrino, but although the midfielder-s ferocious swerving drive beat Glen Moss in the United goal all ends up, it also flashed centimetres wide of the right-hand post.

Glory managed to stay on the front foot during the early second-half exchanges and on 52 minutes could and perhaps should, have restored parity. Robbie Fowler peeled out wide before picking out Scott Neville with a fine cross from the right, but the young defender failed to make contact and in the ensuing scramble Taggart could only fire into the side netting from close range.

Two minutes later the Gold Coast goal again came under threat from the combination of Fowler and Neville, but this time the latter scuffed a tricky half-chance well wide of the target.

Just as the hosts looked set to force their way back into the contest, however, Miron Bleiberg-s top four hopefuls again stung them from the penalty spot. This time Josh Mitchell was the offender, bundling substitute Adama Traore to the ground just inside the box and Smeltz duly stepped up to bag his and United-s second goal of the afternoon.

If the first-half had been a little low-key, the second was proving to be anything but and within two minutes of conceding the second goal, Glory almost halved the deficit. Taggart managed to escape the attentions of Dino Djulbic and found himself clear in the box, but although he managed to round Moss as the goalkeeper narrowed the angle, he failed to get anything on his shot and the ball drifted harmlessly wide.

On the hour mark Munro opted to throw Tommy Amphlett and Todd Howarth into the fray and both looked lively as the home side desperately tried to salvage something from the game. Only a last-gasp intervention from Kristian Rees prevented Amphlett-s low cross from reaching the unmarked Fowler on 68 minutes and from the resulting corner, Howarth just failed to keep his shot down after latching onto a mis-hit clearance on the edge of the box.

The introduction of third substitute Brent Griffiths allowed Harnwell to spend the final 20 minutes up front searching for a fairytale farewell goal in front of The Shed, but the 33-year-old-s first contribution in the final third was an assist for Taggart-s first senior goal. Mitchell dinked in the through ball, Harnwell got above his marker to head on and Taggart showed great pace and awareness to nip in and coolly slip the ball past Moss.

Clearly lifted by the goal, the home side continued to press and had two strong penalty appeals waved away in the space of a minute. Former Glory defender Djulbic was the man involved on both occasions, seemingly tripping Taggart as he bore down on goal and then appearing to handle the ball as he prepared to clear his lines.

At this stage the fans were finding their voices and Taggart was finding his feet at A-League level. Having opened his account, the 17-year-old prospect visibly grew in confidence and went close to bagging an equalizer with some eight minutes remaining, firing an audacious long-range half-volley fractionally over the crossbar.

Harnwell too was causing the Queenslanders- defence plenty of problems and as the final whistle loomed he showcased his supreme aerial ability for the umpteenth time, rising above his marker to meet a Neville cross, only to see his firm header drift wide.

Referee Jared Gillet brought proceedings to an end moments later, allowing Harnwell to take centre stage for the final time.

There was hardly a dry eye in the house as the fans- favourite embarked on a slow lap of the ground accompanied by his wife and three young children, with fans flocking to the fence to pay tribute to the man that so many have idolised for so long.

One carried a small, home-made banner upon which was scrawled a simple message that said it all:

“Jamie Harnwell – legend. Thanks for everything”.

Hyundai A-League Week 26

Perth Glory 1
Gold Coast United 2
Sunday, February 6, 2011 nib Stadium
Attendance: 6617
Referee: Jared Gillet

Perth Glory: 1. Tando Velaphi (gk), 2.Josh Mitchell, 5. Jamie Harnwell (c), 7.Jacob Burns (c), 9.Robbie Fowler, 12.Scott Neville, 14.Steven McGarry (18.Brent Griffiths 71-), 16.Adriano Pellegrino, 19. Naum Sekulovski (17. Todd Howarth 60-), 24. Josh Risdon (13.Tommy Amphlett 60-), 26. Adam Taggart

Substitutes not used: 20. Alex Pearson (gk).

Scorers: Taggart 75-

Yellow cards: Neville 21-, Burns 24-, Harnwell 31-

Red cards: Nil

Gold Coast United: 1.Glen Moss (gk), 2.Steve Pantelidis, 3.Michael Thwaite (c), 6.Dino Djulbic, 7.Zenon Caravella, 8.Anderson, 9.Shane Smeltz (27.Chris Harold 90+1-), 15.Tahj Minniecon (23.Steve Fitzsimmons 73-), 16.Kristian Rees, 21.Golgol Mebrahtu (22.Adama Traore 34-), 33.Peter Perchtold.

Substitutes not used: 20.Scott Higgins (gk),

Scorers: Smeltz (pen) 33-, (pen) 56-

Yellow cards: nil

Red cards: nil