A first goal in Glory colours by Rostyn Griffiths was not enough to rescue his team from a 2-1 loss to Sydney FC at the Allianz Stadium on Saturday in a game where the Perth side failed to turn dominance into goals.
In contrasting weather conditions to last week, Perth Glory travelled to Sydney with a belief that they could get the win that would lift them into the top 6, but it was Sydney FC who, in front of a crowd of just over 11,000 took all 3 points and moved into a prized finals spot.
The home side handed a debut to new signing Sasa Ognenovski and also had former young socceroo skipper Terry Antonis back in the team after a long injury lay off. Perth Glory left club captain Jacob Burns on the bench and included all three recent signings Darvydas Sernas, Nebojsa Marinkovic and Rostyn Griffiths.
On a greasy surface at Allianz Stadium following a day of constant drizzle in the Harbour City it was Glory that started the game the brightest and in the 4th minute Rostyn Griffiths sent Josh Risdon down the line with a well measured through ball but his cross was just too long for striker Shane Smeltz to make any contact.
With Alessandro Del Piero lining up against William Gallas, the scene was set for an intriguing Hyundai A league fixture, this being the first time both players had faced each other since the 2006 World cup Final in Berlin.
And it was Del Piero who was starting to show his class and dominance in the midfield for Sydney, proving to be a thorn in the side of Perth Glory in the early exchanges as Glory midfielder Griffiths was shown a yellow card for two successive heavy challenges on the marquee man.
The Sky Blues were now starting to dictate play, with Del Piero pulling all the strings as Glory were struggling to contain him and in what had been a tough week for the Sydney team the Italian lifted the spirits of the Sydney fans when he cut open the Glory defence with a wonderful through ball to Serbian Ranko Despotovic who slotted the ball past Danny Vukovic to make it 1-0 on 17 minutes.
This seemed to lift the tension that had been evident with both the Sydney players and crowd alike and with Del Piero at the centre of seemingly everything, they started to dominate in possession.
But it was Glory who managed to stem the tide and started to put sustained pressure on the Sydney goal. A 28th minute corner from Marinkovic caused havoc for Sky Blues keeper Vedran Janjetovic who punched the ball onto his own crossbar, and in the scramble that ensued inside the Sydney 6 yard box Glory won an indirect free kick . From close range Smeltz had his effort blocked on the goal line and Gallas couldn't quite get enough contact from the rebound to force the equaliser.
In the 34th minute Glory once again came close with the tricky Sidnei unlucky not to score after a surging run into the oppositions box but seemed to take one touch too many and had his attempt on goal blocked.
Another good chance went begging in the 39th minute when new signing Sernas should have scored following good play by Sidnei, who cut the ball back for him and from point blank range managed to hit it straight at the keeper who made a comfortable save..
Glory were lucky on the stroke of half time not to be 2 nil down as Del Piero again weaved his magic with a run and had his shot well saved by Vukovic.
HT: Sydney FC 1 Perth Glory 0
Perth Glory seemed to lift as they started the second half determined to score and had a penalty claim denied not long after the restart. Glory then started to enjoy their best spell of the game but could not break down the Sydney FC defence .
On 59 minutes Glory coach Kenny Lowe made his first substitution taking off Sernas and sending on club captain Jacob Burns.
But five minutes later, against the run of play Terry Antonis, in his first game back after being out for 11 months through injury struck a beautiful curling shot past Vukovic and into the corner of the net to make it 2-0 to Sydney.
Glory finally scored in the 67th minute when Griffiths rose highest to glance a header home from a Marinkovic free kick over the despairing Janjetovic in the Sydney goal and give the Perth side a glimpse of a comeback.
Substitute Chris Harold almost had an immediate impact after replacing Griffiths with a shot from 30 yards but Janjetovic in the Sydney goal made a fine save to keep his side in front.
In a frantic final 10 minutes both sides attacked with Sydney determined to hang on for a much needed home win. Although Glory enjoyed the majority of possession it was the Harbour town side that hung on for all three points despite having defender, Calver, sent off for a second bookable offence four minutes from time.
FT: Sydney FC 2 Perth Glory 1
Sydney FC 2 (Ranko Despotovic 17’, Terry Antonis 65’) d Perth Glory 1 (Rostyn Griffiths 67’)
Crowd: 11, 160
Referee: Chris Beath
SYDNEY FC:20. Vedran JANJETOVIC (GK), 4. Ranko DESPOTOVIC (14. Mitch MALLIA 87’), 5. Matt JURMAN, 6. Nikola PETKOVIC, 9. Corey GAMEIRO (29. Alec UROSEVSKI 74’), 10. Alessandro DEL PIERO (c), 13. Sasa OGNENOVSKI, 17. Terry ANTONIS, 21. Milos DIMITRIJEVIC (24. Hagi GLIGOR 37’), 22. Ali ABBAS, 34 Aaron CALVER.
Substitutes not used: 1 Ivan NECEVSKI (GK), 36. Themba MUATA-MARLOW.
Yellow Card: Aaron CALVER 51’
Red Card: Aaron CALVER 89’
PERTH GLORY: 1. Daniel VUKOVIC (GK), 5. Rostyn GRIFFITHS(7. Jacob BURNS 68’), 8. Nebojsa MARINKOVIC, 9. Shane SMELTZ, 14. Steven MCGARRY, 16. Sidnei SCIOLA MORAES, 19. Joshua RISDON (10. Jamie MCLAREN 92’), 23. Michael THWAITE, 25. Riley WOODCOCK, 28. Darvydas SERNAS (17. Chris HAROLD 60’), 36. William GALLAS.
Substitutes not used: 18. Jack DUNCAN(GK), 2. Jack CLISBY.
Yellow Cards: Rostyn GRIFFITHS 8’, Michael THWAITE 35