A stunning first-half goal from Chris Ikonomidis was not enough to prevent Glory from slipping to a 3-1 defeat to league leaders Melbourne City at HBF Park on Wednesday evening.
The COVID-19 restrictions currently in place meant that the game was played behind closed doors, thus denying Glory’s Members and fans the chance to witness first-hand the Socceroos frontman bagging his first goal since returning from over a year out through injury when he rocketed a shot into the net from just inside the box on the half-hour.
City drew level six minutes later, however, as the unfortunate Luke Bodnar put through his own net and the visitors took a 2-1 lead into the break after former Glory striker Jamie Maclaren headed home his 100th A-League goal.
And the league’s leading scorer added his second and City’s third midway through the second half, leaving the men in purple with too much to do in the final quarter.
Addressing the media after the game, Glory Head Coach Richard Garcia condeded that his side faded after making a bright start.
“It was a difficult game and full credit to Melbourne, they came and put the pressure on,” he said.
“I thought we did well in that first 20 [minutes] and then once the own-goal went in, confidence dropped again and we lost focus and I don’t think we really recovered.
“Confidence isn’t high and that becomes an issue.
“I feel that there are moments in the game when we need to brave and actually step up and be counted and we find ourselves lacking and that is a big issue and something that we need to change.
“We want to get the points required to make the top six and it’s not impossible.
“It’s just about the group re-finding themselves and believing in themselves again.
“We always knew that this was a project to be able to build and grow upon and that [performance] tonight and probably the last month has shown us what direction we need to go in and how we need to reconfigure for the coming years.”
Chances flowed freely right from the off at an eerily quiet HBF Park, with Marco Tilio firing just over and Maclaren just unable to hit the target with a header from Florin Berenguer’s corner.
At the other end, meanwhile, Diego Castro’s trickery and strong hold-up play from Bruno Fornaroli fashioned a shooting opportunity for Wilson, but his fierce strike was blocked by a cluster of City defenders.
Glory ‘keeper Liam Reddy was called into action for the first time in the 19th minute to palm a Rostyn Griffiths header around the post after the former Glory man had risen highest to meet an inswinging Craig Noone free-kick and at that stage, City looked the more threatening.
Yet on the half-hour mark it was the hosts who hit the front in spectacular style, Andy Keogh picking out Ikonomidis who eased past his marker with his first touch and rifled home an unstoppable shot with his second.
That lead was to last just six minutes, however, as Bodnar sliced Tilio’s dangerous cross into his own net and it was another ball in from the right which led to City’s second goal on the stroke of half-time, this time Scott Galloway providing the delivery and Maclaren nodding in from close-range.
2-1 almost became 3-1 early in the second half, Noone striking the post having been picked out by Connor Metcalfe and Kosuke Ota then blocking Maclaren’s follow-up effort on the line.
Glory responded with a long-range effort from Castro which flew over and a far post header from Fornaroli that found the side-netting, but just as they looked set to force their way back into the game, Garcia’s men were dealt a killer blow.
With 68 minutes on the clock, Maclaren and Noone exchanged passes inside the box and the former then picked out the bottom corner with a typically unerring finish.
Although Glory pressed right to the whistle, they were ultimately unable to find a route back into the contest, with their best chance falling to Andy Keogh who was unable to get a meaningful touch on an inviting low cross from second-half substitute Joel Chianese.
Perth Glory 1 (Ikonomidis 30′) Melbourne City 3 (Bodnar o.g. 36′, Maclaren 45+1′, 68′)
HBF Park, Perth
Referee: Adam Fielding
Perth Glory: 33.Liam REDDY (gk), 5.Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 7.Chris IKONOMIDIS (11.Joel CHIANESE 65′), 8.Kosuke OTA (37.Riley WARLAND 69′), 9.Bruno FORNAROLI (20.Carlo ARMIENTO 65′), 10.Andy KEOGH, 13.Luke BODNAR, 15.Brandon WILSON, 17.Diego CASTRO (18.Nick D’AGOSTINO 65′), 23.Dane INGHAM, 88.Neil KILKENNY
Substitutes not used: 1.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 29.Darryl LACHMAN, (gk), 38.Ciaran BRAMWELL
Yellow Cards: Keogh, Kilkenny, Aspropotamitis, Warland
Red Cards: None
Melbourne City: 1.Tom GLOVER (gk), 2.Scott GALLOWAY, 3.Scott JAMIESON (c), 7.Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 8.Aiden O’NEILL, 9.Jamie MACLAREN, 10.Florin BERENGUER-BOHRER (20.Adrian LUNA 65′), 11.Craig NOONE (17.Stefan COLAKOVSKI 87′), 18.Connor METCALFE, 22.Curtis GOOD, 23.Marco TILIO (19.Ben GARUCCIO 87′)
Substitutes not used: 4.Nuno REIS, 14.Naoki TSUBAKI, 33.Matthew SUTTON (gk)
Yellow Cards: Jamieson
Red Cards: None