Popovic lauds Perth defence as Glory go 35 days without conceding
Perth Glory boss Tony Popovic lauded another sterling defensive display from his side after holding Melbourne City to a 0-0 draw on Saturday night.
The reigning Premiers' defence could not be breached for the fourth consecutive game as Perth held City – the Hyundai A-League's second-highest scorers – to a rare blank at AAMI Park.
Several observers had earmarked the clash between second-placed City and third-placed Glory as a case study in determining which of the two Premiers Plate outsiders held the strongest claim to chase down runaway leaders Sydney FC.
And on the basis on the run of play in Melbourne, and the formidable sequence of six shut outs from seven league matches, many would be inclined to tip the men from WA as the Sky Blues' nearest challengers despite a 12-point deficit between the two 2019 Grand Finalists opening up as a result of Saturday's stalemate.
It has been over 400 minutes of action since Glory last conceded – an ultimately ineffective consolation goal from Newcastle Jets' midfielder Steven Ugarkovic in a game on December 21 that Glory would go on to win comfortably, 6-2.
And after securing back-to-back away clean sheets against Western Sydney Wanderers and City in their last two fixtures, Popovic says Perth's ability to grind out defensive shutouts is 'a real positive' as the AFC Champions League winner seeks to fine-tune his side for another title assault.
"We had to really dig deep as a team [against City]," Popovic told FOX Sports.
"You could see there are a lot of tired bodies out there but we dealt with the crosses well. We didn't give away any chances, we kept their striker relatively quiet.
"The last couple of games for us we've been a little depleted and I'm delighted with the two results we've picked up on the road.
"We take a good point away from home back to Perth."
After clocking up the travel kilometres in the past two rounds of action, Popovic is relishing the trip back to WA for next Saturday evening's clash with Melbourne Victory, where a fifth clean sheet would be a new club record for the ex-National Soccer League powerhouse.
More importantly for the Glory taskmaster will be the chance to take stock and recover after a gruelling run of games in which last season's Premiers have underlined why it would be premature to rule them out of the title race despite the handsome advantage Sydney possess.
"There are a lot of tired bodies out there from two tough away games," Popovic admitted.
"Hopefully we recover some bodies for next week."
Adelaide United v Melbourne City
Saturday, 1 February 2020
Kick-off: 7.00pm local, 7:30pm AEDT
Perth Glory v Melbourne Victory
Saturday, 1 February 2020
Kick-off: 6.45pm local, 9.45pm AEDT