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Glory finish on a high at icy Wanderland

Perth Glory have ended the A-League season on a high note, recording a 2-1 victory over Western Sydney Wanderers at Pirtek Stadium on Anzac Day.

It seemed fitting that their opponents for the evening might well be the only other side in the league capable of sympathising with the roller-coaster nature of their campaign.

Tony Popovic’s side were spared the dishonour of the wooden spoon only by Brisbane Roar’s victory over Newcastle Jets on Friday night. But, for the Asian Champions League winners and last season’s A-League grand finalists, sights were set slightly higher in October than ninth place.

Popovic made eight changes to the side which suffered Champions League heartbreak midweek, including a debut for Liam Youlley.

His opposite number Kenny Lowe had vowed to field a full strength side despite having only pride to play for after being booted from the finals series for breaches of the salary cap.

And the visiting Glory started the brighter, once kick-off was observed 45 minutes late due to a passing hailstorm in Sydney.

In-form Jamie Maclaren partnered Andy Keogh at the top of the park and the pair found themselves with plenty of time and space to work with.

Match Details Full match details »

Date/Time Sat Apr 25, 2015, 5:55 PMStadium Pirtek StadiumAttendance 8,852Referee Matthew Conger

Perth

Goal17′ J.MaclarenYellow Card40′ M.OxborrowYellow Card52′ D.KramarGoal66′ A.KeoghSecond Yellow Card76′ D.KramarYellow Card90′ A.Keogh

Maclaren in particular, last week’s hat trick hero, ran rampant down the right channel and took only 17 minutes to break the deadlock.

His first-time shot ought to have been dealt with more comfortably by Dean Bouzanis, but the stopper let the effort slip through his hands and into the back of the net. It was Maclaren’s fourth goal in just seven days.

Earlier he had been denied by a determined recovery by Nikolai Topor-Stanley, while Richard Garcia could have scored with a header were it not for the intervention of the frame of the goal.

Five minutes after falling behind, Bouzanis had to react smartly to palm away an effort by Andy Keogh, who was looking to break a dry spell in front of goal.

Even Dino Djulbic was in on the action, his free-kick saved by Bouzanis before he was unfortunate not to have connected with a header from deflected set piece.

While the trio of Keogh, Maclaren and Garcia complemented each other well in the opening half hour, at the other end it was a tale of frustration as Kerem Bulut appeared a lonely figure in attack for the Wanderers.

He adopted a strategy of shoot-on-sight, but Danny Vukovic was up to the task on more than one occasion.

The Perth goalkeeper was at it again soon after, diving to his right to save from Steve Kuzmanovski.

Western Sydney failed to convert a goalmouth scramble in the shadows of half-time but to have gone into the sheds level would have been a misrepresentation of how the first half played out.

Glory ought to have doubled their lead moments after the second half kicked off, Daniel De Silva blazing over with the goal at his mercy.

A shot from the edge of the area was deflected toward goal – intentional or otherwise – by the head of Garcia before looping over Bouzanis and striking the crossbar.

You’d have put your house on De Silva scoring from the rebound, but the youngster couldn’t provide the perfect send-off in his last game for the Glory before departing for Rome.

It nearly came back to bite the Glory, with Youlley scoring on his debut ten minutes after the re-start.

Western Sydney’s training ground set piece was driven toward goal before taking at least two touches, but the 18-year-old will no doubt claim credit for the goal.

Parity didn’t last too long, however, with Glory scoring 15 minutes later – a lead that this time they would hold on to.

Keogh collected a pass after a strong run by Josh Risdon and fired home a superb finish with his left boot to register his 12th goal of the season.

Maclaren tried to add another goal to his tally in the remaining minutes, denied once by Bouzanis before firing wide of the goal.

His side perhaps made things more difficult for themselves than was necessary when Denis Kramar was dismissed for a second yellow card with ten minutes to play.

Wanderers pressed for a late equaliser but couldn’t find the decisive touch. In stoppage time, Mateo Poljak sent his free header over the bar and Kuzmanovski’s effort was heroically blocked by the tireless Michael Thwaite, who didn’t miss a minute of the Glory’s up-and-down season.

But in the end it was a deserved win for the visiting Western Australians which ended a winless streak in Parramatta.

It means they finish the season with 50 points – a tally that, were it not for their suspension from the post-season, might be enough to secure the Premier’s Plate.

Fans of the Glory could wonder what might have been after an unforgettable campaign, both on and off the field.

Their final ladder position will be seventh, but by points alone Kenny Lowe’s side could finish as high as second depending on the league’s remaining fixture.

Meanwhile, Western Sydney may well welcome the end of the season, after a campaign that has seen unprecedented levels of fatigue on the domestic scene.

It showed as well; Wanderers used a total of 37 players this term, a national league record.

Popovic might quietly now breathe a sigh of relief as he looks to rebuild his squad for next season.

About the author

avatarJoe is a sports journalist for Goal Weekly, and a writer for Ultimate A-League.

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Comments

  • britesparke

    Thank goodness for that…..both sets of fans must be thinking! For the WSW, the boneheads at FFA who think they know how to schedule AFC and A League commitments will, hopefully, get some urgently needed instruction on how to do this properly without impacting heavily on a team’s performance in both competitions. Presently, it is a “poison chalice” to any Australian team competing in both competitions. For the Glory, I feel sympathy for the fans to see their team suddenly reduced to a finals non entity as a result of “boardroom blindness”- there is always next season for both teams!