Glory Snatch Draw In Perth Heat


A brave NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers team fought a hot and bloody 1-1 draw with Perth Glory in blistering heat last night.

A brave NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers team fought a hot and bloody 1-1 draw with Perth Glory in blistering heat last night.

The young Wanderers dominated most of the match and were unlucky not to leave the West with the three points again.

A stunning Labinot Haliti strike in the 38th minute had the second-string Wanderers outfit deservingly ahead for the next 50 minutes until Perth struck back late to clinch the draw at Patersons Stadium.

Coach Tony Popovic looked to have delivered a masterstroke by making six changes to his squad and their speed and fitness looked likely to get them home.

But it was the experienced Glory that adapted better to the conditions played in 30 degree-plus temperatures and they mustered the strength to mug the win from the young Wanderers.

It was rough and ugly and Glory got away with plenty but in the end a draw was probably a fair result.

When the dust settles, Popovic will be happy with the result but disappointed his move to preserve his best players for the busy schedule ahead almost became a masterstroke.

Popovic made drastic changes to the line-up that annihilated Adelaide 6-1 last week at Parramatta Stadium.

Midfielder Shinji Ono, defender Jerome Polenz and forward Youssouf Hersi were rested.

Adam D-Apuzzo (calf) and Tahj Minniecon (soreness) were out injured and Iacopo La Rocca came down with a virus.

Promoted to the starting team were Kwabena Appiah-Kubi, Jason Trifiro, Shannon Cole Tarek Elrich and Labinot Haliti.

Youngster Reece Caira made his Hyundai A-League debut off the bench.

The Wanderers were first out of the blocks and looked determined to test the older Glory squad in the intense afternoon heat.

Appiah-Kubi was involved in a ding-dong battle down the right side with veteran Dean Heffernan.

Heffernan used his experience and strength and Appiah-Kubi relied on his confidence and speed and the youngster finished the first half well on top winning a swag of corners.

The tussle probably finished evenly in the end.

At the other end, Elrich and Japanese newcomer Ryo Nagai went at it for the full 90 minutes, with Nagai on top early, Elrich winning the middle period and Nagai finishing the game in front.

There were torrid battles all over the park and Glory playmaker Liam Miller was perhaps lucky to get only a yellow when he heavily attacked Aaron Mooy-s Achilles in the 34th minute, causing the Wanderers midfielder to leave the pitch for several minutes for treatment.

Mooy also got regularly belted by Glory hard man Jacob Burns.

The midfield was the major battleground with Glory winning many of the early exchanges before the Wanderers evened it up with class from Mooy and Mateo Poljak.

All the Glory raids in the first half were easily covered by the Wanderers central defence and goalkeeper Ante Covic.

It was Haliti who made the biggest impression of the newcomers when he took a sharp pass from flying Croatian midfielder Poljak who sliced his way up the midfield.

Haliti took the ball on the edge of the box on his left before turning it to his right and firing a missile across the posts.

The ball careered off the inside of far post and into the net leaving Glory keeper Danny Vukovic with no chance.

The start of the second half was heavily influenced by the heat with players from both sides looking obviously fatigued at stages, several going down with cramp.

Perth relied on their trademark physical game to leave the purists seething at the quality of the football.

The desperate Glory sent wave after wave towards the Wanderers- goal.

Most of the sorties and the route one balls were easily shut down by the watertight Wanderers defence which consisted of plenty of players at times.

It wasn-t until the 87th minute that Nagai beat Elrich with a cross and found substitute Nicky Ward loose at the far post.

Ward could not believe his luck as he cannoned the ball into the ground then the crossbar and down into goal.

Covic had no chance.

The goal brought the crowd into play and Glory picked up the momentum.

Hapless striker Shane Smeltz almost snatched the lead a minute later with a free header that was deflected wide.

Wanderers fought on bravely through substitutes Dino Kresinger and Mark Bridge and could also have snatched a win.

After the game, Foxsports Man-of-the-Match Mooy said it was disappointing to not get the win.

“They moved the ball around really well and created better chances in the second half,” Mooy said.

“But it was a bit disappointing because we were the better team for most of the game but we let them get on top in the end.”

Perth 1 (Ward 87-)
Wanderers 1 (Haliti 38-)