Preview: North Queensland Fury v Perth Glory
The Glory kick off the second leg of their Queensland road trip knowing victory is a must to be considered a real contender.
Date: Saturday October 24 Kick-off: 7:30pm AEST, 5:30pm (AWST) Venue: Dairy Farmer Stadium TV and Radio: Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 1 and Sky Sports 1. Hyundai A-League club broadcast partner is 6PR 882AM (Perth). To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.com.au
Head-to-head Played 1: Draws: 1
Previous meeting Perth Glory 1, North Queensland Fury 1, ME Bank Stadium, Round 10, October 2009.
Past five matches: North Queensland: Round 7: Wellington 1, North Queensland 1, Westpac Stadium Round 8: North Queensland 0, Adelaide United 2, Dairy Farmers Stadium Round 9: Perth Glory 1, North Queensland 1, ME Bank Stadium Round 10: Central Coast 1, North Queensland 1, Bluetongue Stadium Round 11: North Queensland 1, Wellington Phoenix 1, Dairy Farmers Stadium
Perth Glory: Round 7: Brisbane Roar 2, Perth Glory 4, Suncorp Stadium Round 8: Newcastle Jets 0, Perth Glory 1, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 9: Perth Glory 1, North Queensland Fury 1, ME Bank Stadium Round 10: Perth Glory 1, Adelaide United 0, ME Bank Stadium Round 11: Gold Coast United 2, Perth Glory 1, Skilled Park
Analysis: The Glory kick off the second leg of their Queensland road trip knowing victory is a must to be considered a real contender. But Perth is up against one of the league's bravest sides in North Queensland and the never-say-die Fury won't be giving away the points on their home patch.
Neither coach will have been happy with last week's result but will take much from the performance. The Glory had the chance to take top spot on the table but blew its lines against Gold Coast United, a calamitous defensive mistake conceding the winner to Shane Smeltz just 11 seconds after Todd Howarth had equalised at 1-1 apiece. To Perth's credit, it kept coming and should have pulled at least one goal back but for a contentious off-side decision against Branko Jelic. Indeed, after a lame first period, the second half was about the best the Glory have played all year and they did it without suspended star defender Andy Todd and injured marquee man Mile Sterjovski.
While Perth played well after the break, the Fury are proving the second half specialists. Time and again the script's had Ian Ferguson's men conceding a poorly-defended early goal before responding after the break with an against-the-odds late equaliser. As a result, in the last eight weeks, North Queensland has only lost once to Adelaide United, but has drawn six games and only stays on the bottom of the table with an inferior goal difference to ninth-placed Newcastle. They followed this script perfectly last Saturday night against the Phoenix as Robbie Fowler's late equaliser cancelled out an early Tim Brown goal.
While the Fury's tenacity can't be questioned, their main problem is consistent selection. Specifically, Ferguson needs to find a stable back four super quick as his first choice rearguard of Karl Dodd, Jacob Timpano, Shane Stefanutto and Scott Wilson are all unavailable to long-term injuries, with only Dodd likely to return this season. It seems likely Ferguson will rely on a makeshift defence once again on Saturday, using young midfielder Rostyn Griffiths as a central defender with Chris Grossman slotting in at right back despite his defensive limitations. With the defence an ongoing concern, it was surprising to see Ferguson leave young fullback Jack Hingert out of the side this week, despite his ability to play either side. Instead the coach has just brought Osama Malik into the squad, while Robbie Middleby will play after being a late withdrawal last week.
The Glory, meanwhile, will be looking to take advantage of North Queensland's defensive issues. They didn't do that the first time these sides met in Round 9, though. Instead, Perth produced a particularly listless second half against a 10-man Fury, allowing them to equalise late in the game when the three points should have been a gimme. Dave Mitchell's biggest concern will be Sterjovski's fitness after he missed last week with a left leg injury. Sterjovski and youth midfielder Howard Fondyke have been included in a squad that will be cut by two come match day, with Sterjovski likely to play off the bench, possibly replacing Scott Bulloch in this role.
The second half last week showed the Glory can play some exhilarating football but like it has on too many occasions, it was a case of so close yet so far. Even though the Glory are travelling to North Queensland this is the type of match the club needs to put away if it's to be considered among the real threats this season. The Fury are also due a maiden win at home and would dearly love to do it in this round, but don't bet your house against another draw being on the cards.
North Queensland squad: 1.Paul HENDERSON (GK), 2.Robbie MIDDLEBY, 3.Chris TADROSSE, 6.Ufuk TALAY, 7.Jason SPAGNUOLO, 9.Robbie FOWLER (c), 10. Jeremy BROCKIE, 11.David WILLIAMS, 14.Chris GROSSMAN, 15.Fred AGIUS, 17.Osama MALIK 18.James ROBINSON, 19.Daniel MCBREEN, 20.Justin PASFIELD, (RGK), 21.John TAMBOURAS, 24. Dyron DAAL. 23. Rostyn GRIFFITHS
*two be omitted*
In: Osama MALIK (promoted)
Out: Jack Hingert (not selected), Beau Busch (not selected)
Unavailable: Jacob Timpano (hamstring - indefinite), Karl DODD (Knee -5 weeks), Shane STEFANUTTO (knee - indefinite), Scott WILSON (knee - indefinite)
Perth Glory Squad: 1.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 3.Jamie COYNE, 6.Chris COYNE, 7.Jacob BURNS (c), 8.Victor SIKORA, 10.Wayne SRHOJ, 11.Branko JELIC, 12.Scott NEVILLE, 13.Scott BULLOCH, 14.Eugene DADI, 15.Howard FONDYKE, 16.Adriano PELLEGRINO, 17.Todd HOWARTH, 19.Naum SEKULOVSKI, 20.Aleks VRTESKI (gk), 21.Mile STERJOVSKI, 23.Andrija JUKIC
*two to be omitted*
In: Mile STERJOVSKI (return from injury), Howard FONDYKE (promoted)
Unavailable: Andy TODD (suspended - 1 week), Jimmy DOWNEY (knee - 3 weeks), Brent GRIFFITHS (hamstring - 6 weeks), Jamie HARNWELL (knee - 6 weeks)