Perth Glory’s run of good form has come to a disappointing end after going down to an impressive Western Sydney Wanderers outfit 3-1 at Pirtek Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Goals to Brendon Santalab and Aaron Mooy in the first half did the damage for the Wanderers. Shane Smeltz was able to pull one back for the Glory in the 55th minute to ensure a tense second half before Mark Bridge was able to finish off the job in the 70th minute.
The Wanderers never let Perth settle and were able to control large portions of the first half. Matthew Spiranovic played the unusual role of defensive midfielder and helped Shinji Ono, Youssouf Hersi, Aaron Mooy and Mark Bridge pressure the Glory midfield into forced errors at every opportunity.
Santalab’s goal came after Spiranovic released Bridge down the left-hand wing, who was able to cross the ball for the number 11 to complete the easiest of tap-ins, while Mooy’s goal came from a free kick outside the box which took a massive deflection, leaving Daniel Vukovic with no chance.
The Wanderers could’ve been a lot more goals in front if not for the scintillating form of Vukovic in the Glory goals. Perth’s number 1 made several good saves in the first 45 minutes to keep the score line respectable heading into the main break.
Half-time – WSW 2 - 0 Perth Glory
Perth started the second half with greater intensity and were able to work Chris Harold and Sidnei Sciola Moraes into the match a lot more effectively.
Their good work was nearly undone in the 52nd minute when Bridge found an unmarked Ono in the 6-yard box with a pin-point cross, but Vukovic made an outstanding reflex save to deny the international marquee’s effort.
Smeltz is the Hyundai A-League all-time leading goal scorer with 75 goals but Western Sydney remained the only A-League opponent he had never scored against. All that changed in the 55th minute when he was able to latch onto a terrific through ball from Chris Harold that caught the Wanderers’ defence on the back foot.
The intensity and desperation went up after Smeltz’ goal as the match hung in the balance with just over 30 minutes of play still to go.
William Gallas was starting his second match in a row for Perth Glory and was looking more assured as the game went on. Everything was going well until the 64th minute when he nearly scored an own goal following a mix up between Michael Thwaite and Vukovic which resulted in the ball deflecting off Gallas. However, Perth was able to clear the ball off the line just in time.
Gallas was replaced by Jack Clisby in the 77th minute as he continues to build up game conditioning.
Western Sydney were able to wrestle back control of the game in the 70th minute when Shannon Cole was awarded a highly contentious penalty after being tackled by Riley Woodcock in the 18-yard box. Woodcock was left stunned as replays confirmed there was no contact with Cole, but none of that mattered to Bridge, who confidently stepped up to squeeze the penalty shot under Vukovic’s outstretched arm.
There were some good signs for Glory as they chased the game with Nebojsa Marinkovic making his debut in the 59th minute. The 27-year-old showed some nice touches including a bullet-like cross to Smeltz in the 83rd minute but the New Zealand marksman was unable to direct his header on goal.
The result means Glory slide back a position to seventh place on the Hyundai A-League ladder. They will have a short turnaround time before taking on the Melbourne Victory at nib Stadium next Friday night at 6.45 p.m.
Hyundai A-League 2013-2014 Season – Week 16
Western Sydney Wanderers 3 (Brendon SANTALAB 28’, Aaron MOOY 33’, Mark BRIDGE 70’)
Perth Glory 1 (Shane SMELTZ 55’)
Sunday 26th January
Referee: Strebre Delovski
Western Sydney Wanderers: 1.Ante COVIC (gk), 2.Shannon COLE, 4.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 5.Michael BEAUCHAMP (c), 10.Aaron MOOY, 11.Brendon SANTALAB (7.Labinot HALITI 77’), 13.Matthew SPIRANOVIC, 17.Youssouf HERSI (12.Tahj MINNIECON 81’), 19.Mark BRIDGE, 21.Shinji ONO, 22.Dean HEFFERNAN (32. Daniel ALESSI 90’)
Subs not used: 20.Jerrad TYSON (gk), 23.Jason TRIFIRO
Bookings: 2.Shannon COLE
Perth Glory: 1.Daniel VUKOVIC (GK), 6.Cameron EDWARDS (8.Nebojsa MARINKOVIC 59’), 7.Jacob BURNS, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 14.Steven McGARRY, 16.Sidnei SCIOLA MORAES (10.Jamie MACLAREN 65’), 17.Chris HAROLD, 19.Josh RISDON, 23.Michael THWAITE, 25.Riley WOODCOCK, 36.William GALLAS (2.Jack CLISBY 77’)
Subs not used: 18.Jack DUNCAN (gk), 24.Matthew DAVIES
Bookings: 16.Sidnei SCIOLA MORAES 22’, 19.Josh RISDON 46’, 9.Shane SMELTZ 90+’