Nervous Harnwell opens up

Jamie Harnwell has seen a thing or two in his 10-year association with the Perth Glory so when he says he's never been more nervous than before last Sunday's win over Sydney, it's a fair bet the stakes were pretty high going into the encounter.

Jamie Harnwell has seen a thing or two in his 10-year association with the Perth Glory so when he says he's never been more nervous than before last Sunday's win over Sydney, it's a fair bet the stakes were pretty high going into the encounter.

The Glory, a one-time National Soccer League powerhouse, started the season determined to reach the Hyundai A-League finals for the first time in the new competition.

But seven matches in, with just one win and 20 goals conceded, Perth's finals' hopes appeared a pipedream, particularly after consecutive 4-1 and 4-0 thrashings by Central Coast and Melbourne respectively.

Those losses led to one of the most intense periods of soul searching seen at the club. It also led to coach Dave Mitchell taking one of his biggest chances since taking over from Ron Smith midway through last year.

With Hayden Foxe fit once more after missing the first seven matches through injury, Mitchell changed his structure entirely, bringing the flame-haired former Socceroo in at centre-half alongside Nikolai Topor-Stanley while dropping the club's topscorer Eugene Dadi and replacing him up front with defender-cum-forward Harnwell for a game that could literally have broken the club's season.

Harnwell is no stranger to scoring goals of course, being the club's all-time top scorer with 20 strikes to his name. He also scored five goals in 12 appearances for Lichtenstein's FC Vaduz during the Glory's off-season, helping the principality side into Switzerland's top tier for the first time.

But after playing in defence all season, he was suddenly being asked to score goals instead of save them and it was enough to give the popular veteran a few sleepless nights heading into what turned out to be a 2-1 win over the Sky Blues.

"Dave Mitchell took a pretty big gamble and I just wanted to repay him for the faith ... (especially as) Eugene had done so well in previous games," said Harnwell, who fired in a brace, scoring in the sixth and 47th minutes to more than cancel out Brendon Santalab's early strike for Sydney.

"(And now) you sort of wake up in the morning, you don't feel quite as sore and got a nice feeling of satisfaction."

"All the boys are happy and bubbly, so that's what you want to play the game for, we haven't had it for a couple of weeks but it's good to have it back again."

After the loss to Melbourne, Harnwell and French-Ivorian striker Dadi, who eventually missed the Sydney game altogether with a groin injury, were instated as members of a new player leadership group alongside skipper Jamie Coyne.

But, Harnwell felt a more important development during the two-week break was a testimonial match, celebrating his own 10-year association with the club.

As most of the competition's sides took a weekend off during the FIFA international break, a full-strength Glory took to a bumpy suburban field against Sorrento, from which Harnwell was originally recruited from, beating the WA State League club 4-0.

A modest Harnwell, though, downplayed the match being in his honour, saying instead that it simply helped restore some of the belief that had evaporated over the first seven rounds.

"It was a really positive day, had a lot of great feedback from old players, from supporters, the administration, everyone enjoyed themselves," Harnwell said.

"I had a great day and I know the players did as well and it was just good to get that upbeat feeling around the club again, a bit of positivity and I think that got demonstrated through the week at training."

Harnwell is more than aware the club's offered false hope before, saying a solid performance on the road to Adelaide this week is vital if the Glory is to build any momentum, especially as the Reds will be coming off a difficult Asian Champions League semi-final trip to face Bunyodkor in Uzbekistan.

The Adelaide match will be followed by a clash with Wellington at home - the Glory beat the Phoenix 1-0 at Members Equity in Round 5 - and, with the last-placed still Glory just three points adrift of the top four, the next two matches are shaping as a pivotal time in their season.

But Harnwell's optimistic as he believes there's certainly more goals to come from his strike partnership with Qantas Olyroo Nikita Rukavytsya, especially as the Ukrainian-born striker missed several chances he'd normally swallow up against the Sky Blues.

"You just look at the chances he (Rukavytsya) makes for himself every week, he's just got pace to burn, he's such an exciting player to watch, his skill is unbelievable," Harnwell said.

"All he needs is one to go in and I think they'll start flowing. It sort of happened last year, he had a bit of a dry spell at the start of the season but came strong at the end and he finished off with six in the last half of the season."

"There's no doubt he'll score goals and we strike up a pretty good partnership. He knows what I'm going to do and I've got a pretty fair idea of what he can do, so it works well for us."