Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory have played out a pulsating 1-1 draw in front of 10,151 fans at nib Stadium on Friday night.
New recruit Darvydus Sernas made himself an instant hero with the Perth Glory fans after coming on in the second half to score a spectacular goal from outside the box and cancel out Gui Finklers 37th minute penalty.
It was a tight contest in the first half which saw both sides locked in a midfield struggle. Steven McGarry had the first real chance on goal when he was set up by Shane Smeltz after the New Zealand international did well to get to the by line and cut it back, but the Scotsman couldn’t keep his shot down.
New Melbourne Victory recruit Tom Rogic was making his first start for the visitors and was causing the Glory plenty of problems. Rogic had the best chance in the first half after dancing around several defenders and drilling a shot from 25 yards out which flew back off the cross bar.
The most contentious moment of the first half happened in the 35th minute when Archie Thompson was awarded a penalty after being dragged down by Jack Clisby in the box. Referee Kris Griffiths-Jones had no hesitation in awarding Victory the spot kick even though replays confirmed Clisby had made minimum contact.
Perth Glory Interim Head Coach Kenny Lowe said he thought it was a soft penalty in his post-match conference.
“It didn’t look a pen. I don’t know what you guys thought of it but I thought it was soft. If it was, it was very, very soft,“ he said.
“I asked the ref to look at half time, I wasn’t aggressive in anyway, I asked him to have a look and chat to me later. I asked him again at full time if it was a pen and he said yes. I said it looks as though you’ve got it wrong twice.”
None of that mattered to Gui Finkler who stepped up to take the penalty kick and coolly send Danny Vukovic the wrong way, and give Victory the lead heading into half time.
Half-time: Perth Glory 0 - 1 Melbourne Victory
New Lithuanian international striker was only cleared to play Friday afternoon but made an instant impact after replacing Adrian Zahra at half time. The 29-year-old striker smashed home an unbelievable effort with just his second touch of the game to level the scores at 1-1 and send the home crowd into raptures.
Sernas’ goal seemed to jog the Glory into action as they started to dominate the majority of play. McGarry had the best chance moments later after Chris Harold delivered a beautiful cross into the box but the Scotsman was unable to direct his header on target as it sailed inches past the post.
Melbourne started to get back in the match with some blistering counter-attacks. Andrew Nabbout did extremely well to setup a one-on-one opportunity against Vukovic but he sprayed his shot wide in the 79th minutes with only the Glory keeper to beat.
Substitute James Troisi had another great chance four minutes later when he drilled a shot from 20 yards out but Vukovic was able to parry the ball over for a corner just as it was heading for the top left corner.
William Gallas was substituted in the 86th minute after coming off second best in a challenge. Initially it looked like a serious injury to the marquee defender but those fears were alleviated when he was able to walk back around the outside of the field to the subs bench.
It was a frantic end to the match as both teams tried to find the all-important equalizer but neither side could find the winning goal as the game finished one-all.
Hyundai A-League 2013-2014 Season – Week 17
Perth Glory 1 (Darvydas SERNAS 50’)
Melbourne Victory 1 (Gui FINKLER 37’)
Friday 31st January
Referee: Kris GRIFFITHS-JONES
Perth Glory: 1.Daniel VUKOVIC (GK), 2. Jack CLISBY, 7. Jacob BURNS (C), 8. Nebojsa MARINKOVIC (4. Ryan EDWARDS 89’), 9. Shane SMELTZ, 11. Adrian ZAHRA (28. Darvydas SERNAS 46’), 14.Steven McGARRY, 17. Chris HAROLD, 19. Josh RISDON, 23. Michael THWAITE, 36. William GALLAS (25. Riley WOODCOCK 86’).
Subs not used: 18.Jack DUNCAN (gk), 20. Danny DE SILVA
Yellow Cards: Josh RISDON 41’, Shane SMELTZ 46’, Michael THWAITE 66’, Jacob BURNS 69’
Melbourne Victory: 1. Nathan COE (gk), 2. Pablo CONTRERAS, 3. Adama TRAORE, 4. Nick ANSELL, 6.Leigh BROXHAM (C), 7. Gui FINKLER (14. James TROISI 67’), 10. Archie THOMPSON, 13. Andrew NABBOUT (11.Connor PAIN 82’), 16. Rashid MAHAZI, 21. Tom ROGIC (22. Jesse MAKAROUNAS 74’), 24. Scott GALLOWAY.
Subs not used: 20.Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 25.Jason GERIA
Yellow Cards: Pablo CONTRERAS 90’