Glory, Wanderers share spoils
Western Sydney have survived a late Perth Glory onslaught to hold on for a 1-1 away draw at Patersons Stadium on Thursday night.
The result moves Western Sydney into third position on the A-League standings ahead of Melbourne Victory on goal difference, while Perth remain in fifth spot, two points behind the fourth-placed Victory.
Western Sydney scored against the run of play in the 36th minute when Labinot Haliti cut back inside Josh Risdon and slotted the ball home off the inside of the woodwork.
Haliti's celebrated in style with a run to the small group of travelling Western Sydney Wanderers supporters in a corner of Patersons Stadium.
Up until Nick Ward's 86th-minute equaliser, it looked as though Western Sydney would complete a rare double with two away wins in Perth this season after their 1-0 win over Glory in November.
But the home side pulled level when Ryo Nagai sent in a cross from the left and, unmarked at the back post, Ward hit the ball hard into the ground, hitting the crossbar and rebounding in for the equaliser.
Perth could have easily snatched all three points late in the game and put Western Sydney under pressure as the final whistle approached.
Shane Smeltz had a header blocked on the line by team-mate Nagai just two minutes after Ward's goal.
Perth had already missed a golden opportunity to equalise on 82 minutes when Steve McGarry's cross to the back post found Liam Miller, who headed tantalisingly across the face of the visitors' goal, only for it to be cleared.
Perth looked to open up the Western Sydney defence down the left-hand side in the opening exchanges of the first half, as Nagai and Dean Heffernan got forward and put in tempting crosses.
Nagai looked particularly dangerous with a series of deft touches that turned Tarek Elridge inside out before the Wanderers' right back brought down the Japanese midfielder, drawing a yellow card from referee Ben Williams.
Perth's best chances of the first half came from long range, with Smeltz, Nagai and McGarry trying their luck from beyond the box, but all the strikes failed to seriously challenge Ante Covic.
Glory controlled 56 percent of possession to Wanderers' 44 percent in the first half and had more shots on goals, as well as forcing Covic into action four times without the desired result.
Despite Western Sydney's defensive focus and Perth's possession control, the Wanderers were not without their own first-half chances, as well as Haliti's goal.
Haliti had a chance to score in the 20th minute when Tarek Elrich put in a swinging cross to the backpost that caught Risdon out of place, but Haliti's header crashed into the Perth defender and deflected away.
Perth will sweat on the fitness of central defender Michael Thwaite, who appeared to seriously strain his right calf late in the game.
Bet365 Man of the Match: Nikolai Topor-Stanley
He isn't popular when he heads back to WA, but he did his job admirably. One of the best in the league at cutting the ball out in the air, the tall defender was constantly in the right position throughout the match.
Perth 1 (Ward 86)
Western Sydney 1 (Haliti 36)