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Glory through to second successive Cup final

Perth Glory will play in the FFA Cup Final for the second year in succession, after comfortably defeating fellow semi-finalists Melbourne City 3-1 on Wednesday night.

An own goal just before half time and a Chris Harold finish in the 72nd minute would wrap up the win for the Glory, after the two sides traded early goals through Gyorgy Sandor and Matthew Millar.

Kenny Lowe made just the two changes to the side that lost 2-1 to Wellington on Sunday afternoon, with Marc Warren and Nebojsa Marinkovic included at the expense of the suspended Richard Garcia and Antony Golec, who was suffering from an illness in the days leading up to the game.

For Melbourne City, manager John van’t Schip made five changes to the team that lost 3-2 in the Melbourne derby on Saturday. Youngsters Jacob Melling, Ben Garuccio, Steve Kuzmanovski and Millar all were brought into the starting XI, whilst Tando Velaphi replaced Thomas Sorensen between the posts.

A disappointing crowd of 4,165 was on-hand for this crucial Cup match, with only about half of the eastern stand at nib Stadium occupied and the other three stands all closed for the match. A 6:30pm mid-week kick-off surely didn’t help that fact, but also won’t have done Perth’s chances of hosting the Cup final any favours.

Perth did, however, start the better of the two teams in this contest, earning a few early chances to go in front.

In the 2nd minute, a mistimed header from Chris Harold cannoned off the player’s shoulder before eventually bouncing out for a goal kick. Then, in the 14th minute, a dangerous cross into the box from Gyorgy Sandor nearly deflected into the back of the net off a City defender, as a teammate attempted to clear.

City worked their way back into the game, but couldn’t produce any quality chances in the final third.

Come the 24th minute, they’d be made to rue their wastefulness. A corner from Marinkovic found Chris Harold unmarked in the box, with the young forward directing a header on goal. Velaphi was able to make a save to his left, but Sandor was on hand to force the ball home from a tight angle — his third goal in as many games for the Glory.

City had a chance from a 30th minute free kick to answer back, but Mooy’s effort could only ricochet out off the wall for a corner.

John van’t Schip was forced into an early substitution before the half time break, with Velaphi and Guyon Fernandez colliding heads in the penalty area, after the City custodian dived forward to clear a dangerous free kick.

Play was stopped for four minutes as both the striker and goalkeeper were attended to, but in the end, the City medical staff couldn’t stem the flow of blood from Velaphi’s nose, and Sorensen was brought on to replace him.

No sooner had that happened, than City were back on level terms. A corner off the boot of Aaron Mooy found the head of debutant Matt Millar, who powered a glancing header into the far corner.

As the game ticked down to half time, with four minutes of injury time added on, a defensive error from City gifted Glory the lead. A long clearance from Covic bounced high into City’s defensive third, with Harold able to head the ball on into the path of Fernandez. With the Dutchman almost through on goal, Ben Garuccio managed to get a foot it, but only proceeded to lob the ball over a helpless Sorensen to make it 2-1 to Perth at the break.

Perth started the second-half brightly, with a bustling run from Risdon down the right wing in the 56th minute almost producing a third goal. Risdon stretched to put a great ball across the face of goal, but Fernandez was a step behind the ball’s path and couldn’t get a touch to put it in the back of the net.

At the other end, a great team effort from City ended with Mooy laying off for Kuzmanovski, whose shot was fired high over the crossbar. Disappointing end to a promising play.

Melbourne then went close to an equaliser in the 70th minute. Mooy received the ball direct from a corner, then turned and cut inside before firing a bullet shot at Covic. The Glory custodian managed to parry the ball away, with second-half substitute David Williams volleying his shot inches wide from the rebound.

That narrow miss would be made to hurt, with the Glory establishing a two-goal advantage a minute later. Chris Harold and Diego Castro combined well down the right wing, with the former receiving the ball on his right boot before firing low and inside the near post past Sorensen to make it 3-1.

Glory almost added a fourth goal in the 84th minute, when a cross from Risdon was unbelievably left to run through to the back post, with substitute Sidnei Sciola just unable to turn the ball into the net.

It wouldn’t matter, however, as referee Shaun Evans eventually brought the game to its conclusion, with the Glory qualifying for the FFA Cup Final for the second year running.

About the author

avatarJustin is a passionate football fan, and the Editor-in-chief of Ultimate A-League.

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