Perth Glory sit just three points from a coveted finals berth as their late season revival gathered further momentum following a 4-1 hiding of Sydney at the Sydney Football Stadium.
Perth Glory sit just three points from a coveted finals berth as their late season revival gathered further momentum on Sunday following a 4-1 hiding of Sydney FC at the Sydney Football Stadium.
The Glory made a perfect start by taking a two goal lead into the break courtesy of Adriano Pellegrino-s 11th minute strike and an own goal from Anthony Golec after an on target header from Nikolai Topor-Stanley.
Perth began the second half determined to make this game one to remember and it certainly was for midfielder Wayne Srhoj who not only played a vital role in the middle of the park but also scored a stunning long range effort to notch his first goal in the Hyundai A-League.
Sydney managed to get one back from an equally great strike from Stuart Musialik but it was only a consolation as Perth re-gained their three goal lead thanks to an own goal from defender Robbie Middleby.
In a match crucial to the finals aspirations of both sides, Perth showed their hunger for a maiden play-off berth by picking up their first win on the road this season. It has been a successful fortnight for the Glory, a point in Wellington and then all three against Sydney has the WA side well in the mix for a finals spot with five matches remaining.
“We thought we could give Sydney a real run for their money, as we did last season, and there is a genuine belief in the team. The boy-s spirits are high,” Mitchell said.
“We rode our luck a couple of times in the first half but we defended very well. We-ve played some great games on the road but not got our just rewards so I think this result has been coming for a while.
“The result today really puts us back in the frame and we have Adelaide coming up, who are the top team in the league at the moment, so it-ll be a tough game but we-re playing at home and we will be out to extend our excellent record there this season,” said Mitchell.
The result was every inch a team effort, the collective contribution proving a strong bond between the players and their passion for the Glory shirt.
Jamie Harnwell and Topor-Stanley were again outstanding at the heart of a rock-solid defensive performance while Tando Velaphi-s judgement and distribution in goal were faultless.
Srhoj toiled relentlessly in the midfield engine room alongside new recruit Marc Anthony and Pellegrino continued his impressive debut Glory season with some eye-catching creative work down the right flank.
Mitchell opted to make just the one change from the side that started last week-s draw in Wellington, with Nick Rizzo making a start against his hometown club in place of Scott Bulloch and Adrian Trinidad returning to the bench after overcoming a foot problem.
Both sides took some time to adjust to the recently re-laid pitch, and although Sydney enjoyed the bulk of the early possession, it was Glory who opened the scoring with just 11 minutes expired on the clock.
Nikita Rukavytsya has captured plenty of headlines for his goal scoring exploits this season but on this occasion he turned provider for Pellegrino. The young striker got away down the left, whipped in a low cross to the near post for Pellegrino to run onto and deftly clip the ball past Sydney keeper Clint Bolton and into the far corner of the net.
Sydney returned fire with a string of set-pieces but Harnwell brilliantly marshalled the defence as the visitors stood firm in the face of the onslaught and restricted John Kosmina-s side to just one decent chance, which was squandered by John Aloisi on 26 minutes.
The home fans may have been anticipating an equaliser given the pressure that their side were applying at that stage, but instead it was Glory who delivered a classic sucker-punch when Bolton needlessly conceded a corner after failing to deal with a shot from Rukavytsya.
It was Perth-s first corner of the match, Sydney having ten by that same stage, but football is about making the most of your opportunities and that-s exactly what the Glory did. Pellegrino-s delivery was spot on to Nikolai Topor-Stanley 15 yards out and his powerful header took a deflection off Golec to send Bolton the wrong way and extend the lead for the West Aussies.
Aloisi had yet another excellent chance to get one back for Sydney late in the opening half but his horror day only got worse when he inexplicably miss cued with the net wide open from less than a meter out.
Perth again made the most of their openings when just four minutes into the second stanza Rukavytsya used his searing pace to burst into the box before pulling the ball back for Srhoj who thundered an unstoppable shot past Bolton.
Sydney reduced the deficit with half an hour to play but any thought of a late comeback was quickly dispelled when Glory had their fourth a short time later. Pellegrino was again in the thick of the action as he beat two defenders to whip in a teasing cross that just evaded Dadi but was put away by the Sydney defence as they rubbed salt into their own wounds.
Perth comfortably saw out the final quarter of the game with few defensive alarms and could have won by a more emphatic margin had Rukavytsya-s late effort not skimmed narrowly wide of the post.
Socceroos- boss Pim Verbeek was present at the Sydney Football Stadium, to run the rule over a number of prospective Socceroos, and the Dutchman may ultimately have pencilled in one or two of Glory-s resurgent heroes for future consideration.
“People are taking notice of how well we-re playing because there is a very good football team playing the game the way it should be played and winning games,” Mitchell said.
“The last six or seven games we-ve played has been very good.
“There is a harmony in the group and that was evident this week in Sydney, the boys have bonded very well and it-s very pleasing to see. We have set ourselves for a shot at the finals and are looking forward to the challenges ahead,” said Mitchell.
Perth returns home now for a huge Boxing Day fixture against Adelaide and will be further strengthened by Dutch International Victor Sikora who is expected to play his first game for Glory after recently signing as an injury replacement for Brazilian midfielder Amaral.
HYUNDAI A-LEAGUE RD 16
Sydney FC 1 (Stuart MUSIALIK 60-)
Perth Glory 4 (Adriano PELLEGRINO 12-, Anthony GOLEC(og) 34-, Wayne SRHOJ 48-, Rob MIDDLEBY(og) 69-)
Sunday 21 December at Sydney Football Stadium
Referee: Ben Williams
Assistant Referees: Sarah Ho, Murray Wilson
Fourth Official: Kris Griffiths-Jones
Sydney FC line up: 1.Clint BOLTON (gk), 2.Iain FYFE, 7.Rob MIDDLEBY, 8.Stuart MUSIALIK, 10.Steve CORICA (c) (28.Bobby PETTA 68-) 12.Shannon COLE, 14.Alex BROSQUE, 23.John ALOISI (19.Mark BRIDGE 55-), 29.Beau BUSCH, 31.Antony GOLEC (34.Rhyan GRANT 78-), .32.Brendan GAN.
Substitutes not used: 20.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk).
Yellow cards: Nil.
Red Cards: Nil.
Perth Glory line up. 30.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 2.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 5.Jamie HARNWELL, 7.Nick RIZZO (28.Andrija JUKIC 88-), 13.Nikita RUKAVYTSYA, 14.Eugene DADI, 16.Adriano PELLEGRINO, 17.James DOWNEY, 19.Naum SEKULOVSKI (3.David TARKA 91-), 22.Wayne SRHOJ, 25.Marc ANTHONY (9.Adrian TRINIDAD 86-).
Substitutes not used: 1.Jason PETKOVIC (gk),
Yellow cards: Adriano PELLEGRINO 53-.
Red Cards: Nil.