A stoppage-time goal from substitute Daniel Stynes secured a dramatic 1-1 draw for Glory in Sunday’s ISUZU UTE A-League clash with Central Coast Mariners at Central Coast Stadium.
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Jason Cummings had given the hosts the lead with a neat finish just short of the hour-mark and that looked set to prove the difference between the two sides until Stynes struck in the 93rd minute.
Adam Zimarino, making his A-League debut in purple, provided the assist, prodding the ball into the path of his fellow-former PGFC Academy representative who drilled a low shot past Mark Birighitti in the home goal.
With a number of senior players ruled out by, or still feeling the effects, of COVID-19, Head Coach Richard Garcia was heartened by the character his charges showed to keep battling away right to the death.
“It was a real gutsy performance,” he said.
“In the first half, we played well, the boys really stroked the ball around well and created some chance which we should probably have taken advantage of.
“But you could tell in that second half we lost our wind.
“We’ve got six guys who have just come out of quarantine from COVID and the effort they put in tonight was a massive one.
“Their desire and their effort to stick together as a group and eventually get a result was fantastic to see.”
Glory may have been returning to action following an enforced 11-day hiatus, but they started the brighter and went close to opening the scoring in spectacular style 17 minutes in when Aaron Calver let fly from 25m out and only a fingertip save from Birighitti prevented the defender from opening his account for the club.
The Mariners’ best effort of the first half also came courtesy of a defender, Lewis Miller producing a clever backheel in the midst of a goalmouth scramble which was cleared off the line by Glory debutant, Nick Fitzgerald.
Having finished the opening period on the front foot, Nick Montgomery’s side started the second in a similar vein and were rewarded with the opener in the 59th minute.
Marcos Urena was the architect, dinking a clever ball into the box where Cummings needed no second invitation to pick out the corner of Cameron Cook’s net with a low shot.
Although fatigue inevitably started to creep in as the second half wore on, Glory refused to buckle and were given fresh impetus by the introduction of Stynes, Zimarino and Andy Keogh who secured another personal milestone by becoming the first Glory player to make 150 A-League appearances for the club.
The visitors duly went close to levelling it up ten minutes from time when Antonee Burke-Gilroy’s cross found Bruno Fornaroli whose powerful header forced a second superb save of the game from Birighitti.
But The Perth-born ‘keeper was finally beaten as the clock ticked into the final minute of stoppage-time, Stynes’ well-taken effort prompting wild celebrations among the team, staff and travelling Glory fans alike.
Central Coast Mariners 1 (Cummings 58′) Perth Glory 1 (Stynes (90+3′)
Referee: Jonathan Barreiro
Central Coast Stadium
Central Coast Mariners: 1.Mark BIRIGHITTI (GK), 3.Lewis MILLER, 5.Noah SMITH (4.Josh NISBET 86′), 8.Oliver BOZANIC (C), 9.Jason CUMMINGS (11.Beni NKOLOLO 78′), 12.Marcos URENA (10.Matheus RODRIGUES 61′), 14.Kye ROWLES, 23.Daniel HALL, 25.Matthew HATCH (7.Cy GODDARD 46′), 27.Nicolai MULLER, 34.Harrison STEELE
Substitutes not used: 30.Patrick BEACH (GK)
Yellow Cards: Bozanic
Red Cards: None
Perth Glory: 12.Cameron COOK (GK), 2.Aaron CALVER, 8.Kosuke OTA, 9.Bruno FORNAROLI, 11.Nick FITZGERALD (14.Jack CLISBY 74′), 13.Brandon O’NEILL (C), 21.Antonee BURKE-GILROY, 23.Mitch OXBORROW (18.Daniel STYNES 66′), 24.Pacifique NIYONGABIRE (43.Adam ZIMARINO 56′), 26.Giordano COLLI (10.Andy KEOGH 73′), 29.Darryl LACHMAN
Substitutes not used: 33.Liam REDDY (GK), 5.Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 45.Aidan EDWARDS
Yellow Cards: O’Neill, Oxborrow, Burke-Gilroy, Calver
Red Cards: None