Ikonomidis proves decisive as Perth Glory edge past ten-man Melbourne City
Chris Ikonomidis pounced on the stroke of half-time as Perth Glory edged to a 1-0 win against a Melbourne City outfit who struggled to muster a goal threat.
Warren Joyce’s team were without Uruguayan striker Bruno Fornaroli for the third straight game and, although they did impose themselves on the game, City did not register a shot on target.
Also missing the experienced Ritchie de Leat and Florin Berenguer, City’s youthful side created a handful of opportunities but any chance of a fight-back fizzled out when Curtis Good was sent off for a second yellow card with ten minutes remaining.
Diego Castro returned to the Glory line-up and Matthew Spiranovic made his debut following a 12-month spell on the sidelines with a hip injury, but his game only lasted 33 minutes when the 30-year-old tweaked his left calf trying to control the ball.
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Tony Popovic placed his faith in Castro’s fitness after two substitute appearances, and the Spanish master turned on the magic when he released Andy Keogh on 19 minutes but the Irishman’s touch let him down.
Ivan Franjic had already tested City net-minder Eugene Galekovic with a curling effort as the first half began to develop following a cagey opening quarter of an hour. The game should have opened up even further on 21 minutes when Nathaniel Atkinson missed a sitter.
Glory goalkeeper Liam Reddy flapped a cross back into the danger zone and the 19-year-old slammed an eight-yard effort well over when anywhere on target would surely have been a goal.
In a match where chances were few and far between, that miss proved even more pivotal. As the clock ticked towards half-time, Keogh saw two angled attempts blocked before Ikonomidis found the target from close range to cap a spell of Glory pressure by breaking the deadlock on 43 minutes.
Castro grew into the game further after the interval. His shot proved too hot to handle as Galekovic palmed away a 49th minute effort, before Atkinson saw another chance go awry as City responded.
Ikonomidis showed his threat on 66 minutes by beating his marker and driving a shot at Galekovic and Tomislav Mrcela’s looping header cannoned back off the crossbar on 75 minutes as Glory looked to close the game out.
A double substitution by Joyce did little to alter the flow of the game, and Good’s second yellow card for a mistimed tackle on Franjic all but secured the result as Glory held off a late spell of City pressure.
Perth return to the top of the Hyundai A-League table and remain undefeated under Popovic’s stewardship with 17 points from their seven games.