Perth Glory has continued its surge up the Hyundai A-League table, moving to fifth after comfortably disposing of Central Coast 4-0 at nib Stadium on Saturday night.
An ill-disciplined Mariners side was reduced to nine men early in the second half, with Mitch Austin and former Liverpool and Barcelona star Luis Garcia picking up their second yellows within the space of six minutes.
Diego Castro and Andy Keogh were the beneficiaries of Central Coast’s poor tackling, netting penalties in the 4th and 67th minutes respectively.
Keogh also scored just before the second penalty to become the first Glory player to find the back of the net in five consecutive matches, before Chris Harold headed home his seventh goal of the season just seconds before the full-time whistle.
1-0 Diego Castro (4’ pen) – The Spaniard threaded the ball between two Mariners defenders to Harold, who was brought down on the edge of the penalty area by a clumsy challenge from Tomislav Uskok. Castro took the spot kick, carefully placing the ball into the bottom right corner as goalkeeper Paul Izzo dived the opposite way.
2-0 Andy Keogh (53’) – The Irishman netted his fifth goal in as many matches when he comfortably headed home a Josh Risdon cross from the right side of the penalty area, becoming the first Glory player to score in fifth consecutive matches.
3-0 Andy Keogh (67’ pen) – Mariners captain Nick Montgomery recklessly gave away his team’s second penalty of the night when he took out Risdon’s legs as the right back attempted to master his way through a cluster of defenders. With Castro subbed off seven minutes earlier, Keogh took the penalty and scored an almost identical goal to his teammate’s earlier spot kick.
4-0 Chris Harold (90’+4) – Keogh played the ball to Risdon deep on the right side in the box, with the Glory skipper firing in a high cross which in-form winger Harold headed home with the final play of the match.
Glory dominated the first half, but netted just one goal. Mariners striker Roy O’Donovan latched on to a Garcia free kick in the 18th minute, knocking the ball agonisingly wide of the right post. With Perth goalkeeper Ante Covic not in a position to make a save, a Central Coast goal at that point in time could have changed the context of the match.
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Perth is in the middle of a hot streak, having won seven of their last eight matches. Glory has also now won five of their last six matches against the Mariners.
Central Coast has not been held goal-less in three consecutive matches since the 2008-09 A-League finals series. The Mariners have also not won on the road in Australia for 23 straight matches.
The nib Stadium crowd rose to their feet and honoured the late Dylan Tombides with a minute’s applause during the 38th minute, the number he wore during his stint with West Ham United before losing his battle with testicular cancer in April 2014. Perth-born Tombides would have turned 22 last Tuesday. Glory fans almost had some extra to cheer about during the standing ovation, with Keogh heading a Castro free kick into the post.
Austin and Garcia were both given their marching orders within the space of six minutes early in the second half, reducing Central Coast to nine men. Austin was twice booked for crude tackles on Risdon, the first of which he was lucky not to be shown a straight red. Garcia picked up yellows in the 51st and 54th minutes, the second an unnecessary challenge on Krisztian Vadocz given his team’s plight.
Uskok left the pitch in the 42nd minute after landing awkwardly during an aerial challenge in his team’s attacking half. The 24-year-old centre back looked distressed as he walked along the sideline after being pulled from the match.
Castro, one of the favourites for the Johnny Warren Medal, sent a scare through the Perth camp in the 12th minute when he grabbed at his calf after firing in a long-range cross. The former La Liga winger left the pitch momentarily and was limping noticeably upon his return, but he toiled away until being substituted in the 60th minute with Glory leading 2-0.
Glory is rising up the table at rapid pace. Now sitting pretty in fifth, Kenny Lowe’s men will back themselves to claim maximum points from the upcoming road double against Wellington next Sunday and then in Newcastle the following round. A top-two finish is not out of the question if Perth wins all four of their remaining games and other results go their way – not bad for a team which was sitting dead last in early December.
Central Coast will collect their first ever wooden spoon, having slipped 13 points adrift of ninth-placed Wellington. The Mariners could still shape the outcome of the final six, starting with next weekend’s home clash with seventh-placed Sydney FC. Also expect coach Tony Walmsley to have a stern chat with his side after six of his players were booked, including two red cards.
Perth Glory: 1.Ante COVIC (GK), 2.Alex GRANT (6.Dino DJULBIC 76’), 3.Marc WARREN, 4.Shane LOWRY, 7.Gyorgy SANDOR, 9.Andy KEOGH, 11.Richard GARCIA (24.Jamal REINERS 71’), 14.Chris HAROLD, 17.Diego CASTRO (18.Mitch OXBORROW 60’), 19.Josh RISDON (C), 23.Krisztian VADOCZ, 29.Aryn WILLIAMS
Central Coast: 1.Paul IZZO (GK), 3.Josh ROSE, 4.Jacob POSCOLIERO, 5.Harry ASCROFT, 6.Mitch AUSTIN, 7.Fabio FERREIRA (15.Brad McDONALD 69’), 8.Nick MONTGOMERY (C), 9.Roy O’DONOVAN (19.Josh BINGHAM 67’), 10.Luis GARCIA, 22.Jake McGING, 23.Tomislav USKOK (16.Liam ROSE 42’)
Scorers: Diego Castro (4’ pen), Andy Keogh (53’, 67’ pen), Chris Harold (90’+4)
Red cards: Mitch Austin (48’), Luis Garcia (54’)
Yellow cards: Tomislav Uskok (4’), Mitch Austin (37’), Luis Garcia (51’), Nick Montgomery (65’), Josh Rose (85’), Josh Bingham (87’)
Conditions: 24C, clear
Attendance: 11,127 at nib Stadium