Perth Glory coach Kenny Lowe admits he may have found the second striker he has been craving in the form of match-winning youngster Jamie Maclaren.
Maclaren scored twice in three minutes to seal a 2-1 win for his side over Newcastle Jets at nib Stadium on Saturday after coming on as substitute in the 76th minute.
It was the 21-year-old’s third goal of the season – his second overall – and comes after scoring just two goals in his debut campaign as he battled to win a regular place in Glory’s best team.
Maclaren has since formed a deadly partnership up front with Irish striker Andy Keogh, with the pair scoring seven goals in four games, despite playing mainly off the bench.
Lowe has previously voiced his desire to sign another striker – potentially a marquee signing – to support Keogh, but the missing link could already been on Perth’s roster.
“Macca has come back lighter (this season), he’s worked ever so hard and he’s a super character,” Lowe said.
“He’s a young boy, he’s just doing everything that he should be doing in his game; he’s living right, he’s working hard, he’s enjoying your football and I can’t praise the kid enough.”
Maclaren would likely have started against the Jets had he not suffered cramp in the last half-hour of Wednesday night’s thrilling FFA Cup quarter-final win over Melbourne Victory.
“I think if we started both it wouldn’t have lasted so we said we’ll take one off and put the other one,” Lowe said.
“We were just about to make another sub and we scored so we just said, ‘OK, we’ll run with it’ and hope Andy doesn’t ping something. It worked out well in the end.”
The usually jovial Lowe expressed his relief post-match at claiming maximum points from a contest his side dominated, but almost let slip when Argentine striker Jeronimo Neumann put the visitors ahead in the 74th minute.
“We weren’t exactly Brazil, but I think the biggest danger we had was flick-ons from goal kicks in the first half,” Lowe said.
“I thought if we could just get a goal it would settle things down for us. Unfortunately they scored first...I just don’t know how we managed to pull it out of the fire.”