Perth Glory head into the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ at the Wildlife Safari Stadium, Hartfield Park on Saturday evening when they visit Forrestfield United in Week Four of the NPLWA (kick off at 7pm).
The Glory youngsters staged an impressive second-half comeback last weekend to beat Joondalup United 4-1, with striker Joe Knowles bagging a brace and the 21-year-old was delighted to get on the scoresheet as part of what was a fantastic all-round team effort.
“Joondalup came out flying and we were put under a lot of pressure from long balls and long throw ins,” he said, “but we sat down at half-time and discussed what we needed to do and the boys showed a lot of maturity and dominated the rest of the game.
“As a striker it’s always good to score or assist, but I’m just working hard and focusing on the win which is the most important thing to me.”
Knowles was a regular part of the club’s Hyundai A-League squad earlier in the season and scored his first goal in the competition against Newcastle Jets in Round 10 before injuries unfortunately curtailed his progress.
Having now battled his way back to full fitness, however, he is hoping to maintain his scoring touch in Saturday’s clash with newly-promoted Forrestfield.
“Yes I’ve struggled a little with a groin injury, but I’m just trying to strengthen it and play consistently for 90 minutes,” he said.
“Hopefully if I keep working hard, I can get back into the boss’ [Kenny Lowe’s] plans.
“They (Forrestfield) will be like every other NPL team and bring a different style of play, but we are looking forward to the challenge and most importantly looking to pick up the three points and keep our great start to the season going.”
Glory Coach John Gibson, meanwhile, was pleased with last week’s second-half performance against Joondalup and felt that it showed the character his young side possesses.
“We had trouble with Joondalup twice last season and they posed many problems against us,” he said, “so it was pretty cool to put in a strong, mature, physical performance this time around.
“Our first half was a great little challenge. At halftime we relaxed and recalibrated and provided solutions and in the second half we went back to our plan and followed our process. Credit to the group for taking on board the info provided; they showed great character in that second half.
“We created plenty of chances throughout the whole game and it was really pleasing to see Knowlesy benefit from that by scoring two and assisting in another.
“But it was a solid team effort. We were all a little frustrated with ourselves more than anything in the first half, but in the second half we responded well and dominated to the end. They are all tough games in this league and we look forward to all the challenges ahead of us.”
The first of those challenges will come at Forrestfield on Saturday where Gibson will go head-to-head with good mates and former Glory colleagues Rod Banjac and Bobby Despotovski.
“They (Forrestfield) have a great set up at Hartfield Park,” he said, “and it will be good to catch up with Rod and Bobby. But once the game starts, our focus is always on ourselves and our details behind our processes.
“As a group, we are not getting carried away with anything. It’s a long, relentless season with many more challenges ahead of us, but our start has been okay and encouraging.
“Forrestfield have a good side and have adapted well to the NPL from the State League. They are well coached and we are fully prepared for another tough game.”
Saturday 17 March 2018
Forrestfield United v Perth Glory
Venue: Wildlife Safari Stadium, Hartfield Park
Under 18s – 3pm, Under 20s – 5pm, First Team – 7pm