Gold Coast returns to the top

Gold Coast United has survived a gallant Perth Glory challenge to reclaim top-spot on the Hyundai A-League ladder with a 2-1 victory at Skilled Park on Sunday evening.

Gold Coast United has survived a gallant Perth Glory challenge to reclaim top-spot on the Hyundai A-League ladder with a 2-1 victory at Skilled Park on Sunday evening.

Trailing by an own goal after the first half the Glory had the better of play through the second, but rued a raft of near misses and lost opportunities.

Todd Howarth equalised for the visitors soon after the break but a lack of communication allowed United to strike back with the defining goal seconds later.

With only two Perth defenders back, Brazilian Anderson went long from the restart.

Glory men Jamie Coyne and Scott Neville collided heavily on the way to the ball and Joel Porter was left an easy job of finding the unmarked Shane Smeltz for his 10th goal of the season.

Already without key defender Andy Todd, Perth was further weakened by the late withdrawal of striker Mile Sterjovski, the former international was sorely missed with Perth dominating much of the match but unable to land the killer blow.

Porter was in fine touch causing headaches for the men from the west, but it was the work of custodian Jess Vanstratten in goal which won the match.

United coach Miron Bleiberg was less than pleased with the performance of his men but wouldn't let that take the gloss off the fact they had won.

"Am I happy with the way we played? No. Did we play with flair? No. Did we play well tactically? No," Bleiberg said.

"But the sign of a good team is when you win and you didn't play well."

The Glory missed a golden opportunity to go ahead in the opening minutes when an Adriano Pellegrino through ball gave Branko Jelic a one-on-one with United's keeper, but the Serbian striker sprayed the ball past Vanstratten's left upright.

Ten minutes later United opened the scoring from a set start after Pellegrino took Porter down illegally.

Playing his third game in eight days, Jason Culina stepped up to take the free kick from 25 metres out.

He bent the ball around the Glory wall for a surging Porter but it was Scott Neville who deflected the ball past his own keeper to open the scoring.

Porter gave himself another chance with a scything run that saw him pass three defenders and to the top of the box, but his low left-footer was denied by a desperate Tando Velaphi.

Solid in the midfield, Robson was causing all sorts of problems for the visitors and nearly created another goal with Porter again involved.

A deft through ball into the box drew Velaphi forward to meet Porter and the Glory keeper did just enough to deflect Porter's sliding chip shot.

Pellegrino missed a chance to hit back on the counterattack when he sprayed wide and in the shades of half-time Perth missed its most certain opportunity.

Handy lead-up work saw Neville put Jelic into space on the wing before Jelic found Wayne Srhoj in range. Srhoj danced past Kristian Rees to give himself a great look at goal but Vanstratten was first-class in response to deny the shot.

Trailing 1-0, Perth came out and piled on the pressure early in the second half with Jelic again prominent.

After drawing a foul just beyond the box, Jelic stepped aside to watch Naum Sekulovski search for the top corner of the net but Rees did enough to deflect the ball away with his head.

Jelic was denied again before the Glory finally got on the board with a goal to Howarth.

A pinpoint ball from Srhoj on the wing found Victor Sikora who played forward for Howarth who only had to beat the keeper after quality lead-up work.

But United was back on top within 30 seconds after the calamitous Glory error.

Glory continued to pepper Vanstratten but were cruelly denied an equaliser after Jelic pounced on a rebound and drilled past the keeper only to be ruled offside.

Perth coach David Mitchell was frank in his assessment of the match post-game.

"We played well in the second half to get back in the match, but there were a couple of decisions that went against us that I think cost us the game," Mitchell said.

Gold Coast United 2 (Neville 13og, Smeltz 56) Perth Glory 1 (Howarth 55) @ Skilled Park, Robina. 18/10/09. Crowd: 4509