Glory, Phoenix draw thriller

Wellington has extended its unbeaten home run to 13 games but left it late to secure a 1-1 draw with Perth Glory at Westpac Stadium.

Wellington has extended its unbeaten home run to 13 games but left it late to secure a 1-1 draw with Perth Glory at Westpac Stadium.

The Phoenix has not lost at home since going down 1-0 to Queensland Roar in October last year, but that record looked in danger of being broken when Glory took the lead in the 68th minute with a well-struck free-kick by Wayne Srhoj.

But the Wellington side stepped up a gear in the final 10 minutes and was rewarded when Paul Ifill stole in to fire the rebound home after substitute Adrian Caceres- shot was blocked by Perth keeper Tando Velaphi.

Wellington pressed hard for the winner in an exciting closing few minutes to no avail but on balance a draw was probably a fair result.

The Phoenix fielded the same starting line-up that beat the Newcastle Jets 3-0 in midweek after goal keeper Mark Paston failed a fitness test on his troublesome hip.

Ricki Herbert also opted to stick with Costa Barbarouses up front with Chris Greenacre, meaning Leo Bertos began his second game on the bench.

The Phoenix players wore black armbands following the death of Murray Naylor on Friday. Naylor played a key part in helping owner Terry Serepisos get the club up and running.

Perth coach Dave Mitchell welcomed back striker Branko Jelic from illness which forced Eugene Dadi to the bench.

But the visitors were without the injured defender Jamie Coyne which handed Scott Neville a start.

It was a scrappy opening 15 minutes as both teams took time to settle and it was Crowther who was called into action first after some great lead-up work from Adriano Pellegrino and Todd Howarth.

The Phoenix squandered a glorious chance on 21 minutes when a mistake by the Glory defence set Costa Barbarouses free but the young striker fired his shot just wide.

Six minutes later Mile Sterjovski was equally as wasteful at the other end when Jacob Burns put him clear in the box with just the keeper to beat but his weak shot was easily gathered by Crowther.

Play was flowing from end to end but clear chances for either side were few and far between until the closing minutes of the half when Perth peppered the Phoenix goal.

A great ball from Wayne Srhoj got Howarth in behind the Phoenix defence but Sterjovski-s glancing header flew just wide.

Then Barbarouses made another strong run into the box and laid off a good ball for Greenacre but Andy Todd raced in to block the English striker's attempt.

It was Perth that finished the stronger and should have gone in at least a goal up but Sterjovski blasted another effort over before Burns rattled the crossbar bringing an even first half to a close.

Tando Velaphi was the busier of the two keepers in the opening spell of the second period as Tim Brown initially headed a Paul Ifill volley wide before a long-range effort from Daniel forced a save from the Perth custodian.

Todd was in the right place at the right time again to block a shot from Ifill two minutes later but Daniel regathered the ball only for Andrew Durante to head it wide.

Perth finally broke the deadlock 21 minutes from time when Ben Sigmund conceded a free-kick 25 metres out and Srhoj struck it beautifully past a leaping Crowther.

But the home side responded strongly with substitutes Bertos, Caceres and Troy Hearfield adding some impetus when they were introduced to the fray.

The players were eventually rewarded for their endeavours with the equaliser with eight minutes to go when Caceres- shot came back off the keeper and Ifill made no mistake from close range.

The home side had several chances to take all three points in the dying minutes but Caceres, Ifill, Durante and Hearfield could not manage to land the killer blow.

Referee Matthew Gillett had a busy day with five players - Ifill, Vince Lia, Ben Sigmund, Srhoj and Jacob Burns - all shown yellow cards.

Herbert was pleased with how strongly his team finished the match, considering it was their third game in a week.

"The guys really rolled their sleeves up and have gone the distance tonight after three really tough games," he said.

"We ended extremely well. Another night, another day maybe the bounce of the ball might have been a bit kinder to us and we could have got the three (points)."

"(But) It's been a good week for us."

Perth coach Dave Mitchell was also a happy man after seeing his side snap a three-game losing run.

"I think we played well. We made numerous chances. Wellington have been playing very well at home. It's a bit of a fortress for them and for us to play the way we did - we could have won the game with a bit of luck."

"I'm happy to get the point."

Wellington Phoenix 1 (Ifill 82) Perth Glory 1 (Srhoj 68)