Perth Glory marquee player William Gallas scored his first goal for the club and what a cracker it was. The former French international defender, who injured a thigh earlier in the half, curled home from the edge of the penalty area on 35 minutes, after good lead up play by Nebojsa Marinkovic and skipper Jacob Burns.
Glory debutant keeper Jack Duncan made some vital saves to keep his side in the game, while Matthew Davies was a star on his return to the starting up. But all their hard work was undone five minutes from time, when Costa Rican international Kenny Cunningham levelled for the home side.
The Glory made three changes to the side that were beaten by Brisbane, with Duncan replacing Danny Vukovic between the sticks. Davies came in for Josh Risdon, while Michael Thwaite returned from suspension for Brandon O’Neill, who dropped to the bench.
It was an even start to the game, which was vital for both sides, and the first opportunity fell to the Glory after only four minutes. Marinkovic found Sidnei down the left, he outpaced Ben Sigmund and his cross was only inches away from striker, Shane Smeltz, at the far post.
Moments later Wellington then went close to the opener. Fiji international striker Roy Krishna saw his shot from 18-yards whistled inches past the post. Then on the quarter hour it was that man Krishna again, he cut inside Jack Clisby, but his shot was cleared off the line by Gallas, and Matthew Ridenton’s follow up shot flashed wide of the post.
The home side brought on former WA State player Shaun Timmins for his A-League debut on 26 minutes. The former ECU Joondalup and Sorrento defender replaced the injured Joshua Brindell-South.
It looked like Gallas would take no further part in the game after receiving lengthy treatment for a thigh injury, but the former French international was back on, and in the action moments later with the opening goal on 35 minutes.
Gallas started the move winning the ball in the middle of the park. He fed Marinkovic who played Jacob Burns into the penalty area, Gallas had continued his run and was picked out by the Glory skipper, and he curled the ball around Glenn Moss and into the bottom corner of the net.
On the balance of play it was a just reward, but the Phoenix pressed late and went close to the equaliser on 42 minutes. Rostyn Griffiths lost the ball in the middle of the park and Carlos Hernandez played a great through ball into the path of Krishna. His low shot beat Duncan, but the post came to the rescue for the Glory custodian.
Glory Coach Kenny Lowe made a double change at the break, with Brandon O’Neill coming on for the injured Michael Thwaite and Jamie Maclaren for Shane Smeltz.
They opened the second half brightly and Matthew Davies shot from long-range was claimed by Moss in the opening minute. Moments later Davies and Chris Harold combined down the right, and Harold’s deep cross found Sidnei, but he fired over the top.
Like the Glory, the home side needed the points to keep in touch with the top six and Duncan had to be brave to save at the feet of Krishna after he was sent clear by Carlos Hernandez on the hour.
The young Glory keeper was having a solid debut, but the visitors went close to doubling their lead five minutes later. After a long period of sustained pressure Marinkovic found space on the edge of the penalty area, but his shot drifted high of the crossbar.
Moss then came to the rescue of the Phoenix, saving well from Harold’s close-range header, after he was picked out by Marinkovic.
The home side were pressing late, and the Glory defence were working overtime to quell them. Timmins whipped in a deep cross on 80 minutes, but Duncan was alert to block Cunningham’s header at the back post.
Duncan again came to the Glory’s rescue, saving Tyler Boyd’s low shot, before Ridenton blazed over the rebound from eight-yards.
But on 85 minutes the Phoenix’s pressure finally paid off with the equaliser. Boyd again swung in a teasing cross and the unmarked Cunningham headed home from six-yards to level the score
The home fans now sensed a win was on the cards, and Jason Hicks fired over in stoppage time and Stein Huysegems headed over moments later. But at the final whistle the points were shared.
Hyundai A-League – Round 22
Sunday 9th March 2014
Wellington Phoenix 1 (Cunningham 85’)
Perth Glory 1 (Gallas 35’)
Venue – Westpac Stadium
Referee – Jarred Gillett
Attendance - 6,401
Wellington Phoenix – GK Glenn MOSS, 5 Michael BOXALL, 6 Joshua BRINDELL-SOUTH (25 Shaun TIMMINS 26’), 9 Kenny CUNNINGHAM, 10 Stein HUYSEGEMS, 17 Vince LIA, 18 Ben SIGMUND, 21 Carlos HERNANDEZ (15 Jason HICKS 63’), 22 Andrew DURANTE, 23 Matthew RIDENTON, 24 Roy KRISHNA (12 Tyler BOYD 71’)
Subs not used – RGK Lewis ITALIANO, 11 Jeremy BROCKIE
Yellow Cards – Hernandez 32’
Perth Glory – GK Jack DUNCAN, 2 Jack CLISBY, 5 Rostyn GRIFFITHS (14 Steven MCGARRY 74’), 7 Jacob BURNS, 8 Nebojsa MARINKOVIC, 9 Shane SMELTZ (10 Jamie MACLAREN 46’), 16 Sidnei SCIOLA MORAES, 17 Chris HAROLD, 23 Michael THWAITE (3 Brandon O’NEILL 46’), 24 Matthew DAVIES, 36 William GALLAS
Subs not used – RGK Luke RADONICH, 20 Daniel DE SILVA
Yellow Cards – Clisby 30’, Marinkovic 93’