Western Sydney Wanderers coach Mark Rudan rated his club one of the better first round performers in the A League Men competition, after a goal from Bosnian recruit Sulejman Krpic settled a scrappy encounter with Perth.
Krpic headed home from close range in the 78th minute at Commbank Stadium, after Perth goalkeeper Liam Reddy and his defence failed to deal with a loose ball.
Krpic wasted a glorious chance for a double when his 90th minute penalty was well saved by Reddy diving to his left, after Stefan Colakovski fouled fellow substitute Ramy Najjarine.
Glory had a couple of chances in the fifth minute of added time, when Aaron McEneff had a shot tuned around the post by Lawrence Thomas, who caught a Jack Clisby header from the following corner.
It was Perth’s first opening game loss since 2017, but Wanderers were the more consistently dangerous side, with four more shots on target.
Rudan said his team played far better after he made several moves at halftime, adding they would take a lot of confidence from the game.
“We were very solid; defensively everyone understood their roles and responsibilities,” Rudan said.
“The energy was there, they worked extremely hard for each other, a very professional performance.
“For a first-up game, where no team is going to look convincing at this stage of the season, I thought we were one of the best looking teams in round one.”
Both sides were guilty of poor execution in the front half, with few penetrating or testing passes or crosses into the box.
With Wanderers fielding nine starting debutants and Glory seven, both new-look sides unsurprisingly struggled for cohesion in Sunday’s match.
“There were a lot of new players in our squad and the same for them, so I think the game lacked rhythm, timing and execution of things, so I think it was a pretty cagey affair,” Glory coach Ruben Zadkovich said.
“I was proud of the boys to keep pushing till the end and create some opportunities late.
“That shows a lot of character, and character is a really good starting point for a team that’s in a rebuild, so we just need to improve, we need to get better.”
Neither goalkeeper was troubled in a dull first half.
The game perked up after halftime, with the Wanderers in particular looking more lively in a match which produced seven bookings.
Krpic wasted a good chance when he shot wide from close range and Brandon Borrello’s fierce long range shot was pushed away by Reddy, who then caught a Milos Ninkovic drive.
Perth substitute David Williams fired a shot wide a few minutes before the only goal.
One of the Wanderers’ major off season recruits, 37-year-old former Sydney midfielder Ninkovic, played 87 minutes before being substituted.
“There’s a lot of talk from around the place that he’s a 30 minute player,” Rudan said.
“I think he shut a lot of people up today. Thats only the first game as well, he’s only going to get better and stronger for us.”