Glory triumph at home
Perth Glory has claimed its second win of the season, holding on to defeat Sydney FC 2-1 in a tense encounter that spilled over towards the end as the Sky Blues were reduced to 10 men.
Perth has claimed its second win of the season, holding on to defeat Sydney FC 2-1 in a tense encounter that spilled over towards the end as the Sky Blues were reduced to 10 men.
As the mercury nudged 33 degrees at Perth's Members Equity Stadium, Glory veteran Jamie Harnwell did the damage for the hosts, scoring twice at the start of both halves, his goals sandwiching a 12th minute strike from Sydney's Brendon Santalab.
After a tumultuous fortnight following 4-1 and 4-0 losses to Central Coast and Melbourne respectively, the Glory redeemed itself somewhat with a solid performance across the park, particularly in defence, and should have been further ahead after creating a host of opportunities in the second half.
But the club's failure to convert gave Sydney a chance at the death as Santalab sent a goalbound header towards Glory stopper Tando Velaphi five minutes from time.
And, as the exhausted Sydney players pressed for an equaliser, tensions boiled over during injury time as visiting defender Iain Fyfe was given a straight red for a clash with Perth's Adrian Trinidad.
Sydney coach John Kosmina felt his side probably deserved the result.
"We defended that second goal really poorly, same as that first one," Kosmina said.
"Sometimes you've just got to do the dirty work and twice we've been found wanting against teams that are prepared to roll the sleeves up and have a bit of a dust up."
Sydney remains in third on the Hyundai A-League table having missed its chance to leapfrog Melbourne (first) and Adelaide (second) into top spot. It also continues a lean run for the Sky Blues, who have claimed one point from their last three matches, while the Glory stay in last place following Wellington's victory over Central Coast, albeit just three points outside the top four.
With Eugene Dadi a late withdrawal after injuring himself in the warm-up, the Glory started with Harnwell and Nikita Rukavytsya up front, while the Glory's defence was boosted significantly by the return of former Socceroo Hayden for his first match of the year.
Despite Dadi's injury, Glory coach Dave Mitchell admitted Harnwell and Rukavytsya probably would have started together anyway.
"Last year, him and Nikita did really well together, they struck up a great partnership (and) he's been the top scorer for the last couple of years in the role," Mitchell said.
"They (Sydney) had a couple of chances and we had quite a few chances so I think, overall, we had the better chances and as I said, it was good the way we played as well, so important to have a good performance and getting the win."
Harnwell and Rukavytsya's renewed partnership showed some promising signs as early as the third minute when Harnwell fired a low shot just wide after taking the ball from his strike partner.
But the double act blossomed just three minutes later after Santalab gave up possession in midfield. Rukavytsya accelerated onto the ball, burning off Sydney's Tony Popovic before squaring the ball for Harnwell to tap in.
Santalab, though, made up for his mistake in the 12th minute as he burst forward down the left, cutting inside an over-committed Jimmy Downey and finishing off his run with a low shot from a tight angle that Velaphi could only get a hand to.
Three minutes later the Glory were fortunate not to fall behind as Velaphi palmed Mark Bridge's effort over the bar. The stopper was equally brilliant just after the half hour, getting his fingertips to Steve Corica's close-range header as Perth's much maligned defence held firm through the efforts of its 'keeper and the classy Foxe, who picked off several promising Sydney attacks.
As the half wore on, the Glory upped the ante, producing several attacks of their own just before the break.
On the half hour, Harnwell couldn't get his head to Rukavytsya's cross while the Olyroos striker slipped a powerful shot narrowly wide seven minutes before the break.
And, in the 42nd minute Sydney stopper Ivan Necevski did well to control the ball from a scramble of bodies after Jamie Coyne's cross allowed Adrian Pellegrino to run into the box.
But if the visitors thought they'd weathered the storm, they were sorely mistaken as Sydney's defence was picked apart within a minute of the re-start. Rukavytsya found Pellegrino with a crossfield pass after the midfielder ghosted forward and Pellegrino's cross from the right was nodded home emphatically by Harnwell.
The goal sparked a flurry of Glory attacks as Rukavytsya just missed a headed attempt and Coyne sent a powerful strike narrowly past the upright after a good exchange of passes.
In the 55th minute Pellegrino sent in another cross from the right that Harnwell couldn't get to while Perth's Brazilian playmaker Amaral, who grew in stature throughout his return from a three-match injury lay-off, almost set up Rukavytsya with a brilliant through ball that forced Necevski into a diving save.
Throughout the second half, the Glory's defence, looking a different and much more organised beast with Foxe and Nikolai Topor-Stanley forming a solid partnership in the middle, easily contained Sydney's forward forays.
But the club's failure to score a third gave Sydney a late chance to equalise as second half sub Adrian Trinidad lost possession in attack. Sydney countered rapidly and Terry McFlyyn crossed from the right, but Santalab could only nod towards Velaphi.
Perth Glory 2 (Harnwell 6, 46) Sydney FC 1 (Santalab 12)
Crowd 7759 at Perth's Members Equity Stadium