Record-setting Reddy primed for more Semi-Final heroics
Perth Glory gloveman Liam Reddy is no stranger to Semi-Final heroism, and he'll be out to prove that once again when Perth face Premiers Sydney FC in a Grand Final rematch on Wednesday night.
The 39-year-old approaches the contest off the back of one of the best performances of his Hyundai A-League career: Reddy made 11 stops in Perth's 1-0 Elimination Final win against Wellington Phoenix, the most of any goalkeeper in a Finals Series game since Opta began stats collection in the 2012/13 campaign.
His 11 saves are the second-most by any goalkeeper in any Hyundai A-League game overall in that time, only bettered by Oliver Sail's 12 for the 'Nix against Perth in 2019.
A theatrical dive to keep a left-footed Ulises Dávila strike out of the top left corner highlighted Reddy's superb night in between the sticks for Perth, as Tony Popovic's side held onto a one-goal advantage carved out in the 18th minute by Joel Chianese to send the fancied Phoenix packing.
The hard-fought win ensured Perth progressed to a Semi-Final showdown with Sydney FC, the Premiers who are without a win in their last five Hyundai A-League matches.
Speaking to a-league.com.au, Reddy says he took little note of his best afield performance until he was notified after the game, such was his focus on being just one part of Perth's solid defensive unit.
"I was aware [of the record] after the game," Reddy said.
"I didn’t feel like that during the game that I had made that many [saves].
"We defended really well as a team, it was a really good defensive display from the team to get the clean sheet.
"In sudden death football and finals football it’s important to be strong at the back - that gives you the best opportunity to win those big games.
"We knew that if we didn’t score the second that defensively if we didn’t concede we’d win the game.
"We knew they would be throwing everything at us, definitely in the last 30 minutes which they did and we handled it really well."
Reddy's night out against the 'Nix on Saturday may have been his best in Perth Glory colours but it wasn't his most memorable; that performance came against Adelaide United in a heart-stopping Semi-Final clash in the 2018/19 campaign.
With scores locked at 2-2 after 90 minutes and 3-3 after half an hour of extra time an unforgettable penalty shootout ensued, in which Reddy was the star.
Of the 16 penalties taken by either side seven were missed; three of those misses were by Reddy's teammates however the Glory gloveman had no such issues from the spot himself, stepping forward as Perth's fourth penalty taker and burying the ball into the back of the net.
Reddy's converted penalty followed his crucial save to deny Isaías and level the ledger after Diego Castro's earlier miss.
With the Reds shooting first and scores locked at 4-4 in the shootout Reddy then pulled off three consecutive saves to hand his side multiple chances of securing the win and progressing to the Grand Final.
The first two of those chances were wasted by Jason Davidson and Shane Lowry before Chianese stepped forward after Reddy's block on Nathan Konstandopoulos to score the decisive penalty and send Perth to their first home Grand Final in Hyundai A-League history.
Reddy says his memorable performance was built on the belief he - like all goalkeepers - takes into a penalty shootout.
"It was a great night to do it in Perth in front of home fans to get ourselves into a Grand Final, especially with the season we had that year being the Premiers and the best team of the season," Reddy said.
"It was a great night, and something we hopefully can replicate on Wednesday night, but hopefully not to the extent of going to extra time and penalties.
"I’m always confident in penalty shootouts, you just get a feeling and all the pressure is on the kicker - there’s no doubt about that.
"I’ve been a winner and unfortunately have lost some, if it gets to penalties hopefully I can be the difference and get us through, if it goes that far.
"You ask any goalkeeper, they always feel the pressure is on the kicker and hopefully they can produce something special."
One week after the pandemonium of Semi-Final triumph, however, the Sky Blues broke purple hearts.
Glory, the Premiers, hosted the Grand Final at Optus Stadium - the sparkling new centrepiece of Perth's sporting hub - against a Sydney FC outfit who had played the role of the chaser throughout the entire 2018/19 campaign.
Reddy kept his sheet clean for 120 minutes of football but with scores locked at 0-0 another penalty shootout ensued - this time in much less dramatic fashion - as Andy Keogh and Brendon Santalab's misses handed Sydney FC the Championship.
Nearly one year later the roles have reversed as both sides head towards Wednesday night's Semi-Final: Sydney FC held the Premiers' Plate aloft at the end of the 2019/20 season, and will play host to Glory at Bankwest Stadium - the sparkling new centrepiece of football in New South Wales.
While the Sky Blues chase a record fifth Championship Reddy and the Glory both continue their pursuit of their first, and in his 13th campaign of Hyundai A-League football Reddy will be hell-bent on making the most of the opportunity to enact vengeance on Steve Corica's side, with a Semi-Final performance of equal significance to his last.
"We know they're quality," Reddy said when assessing the Sky Blues strengths.
"We know they’re a clinical team, they’re definitely the best team this year by being the Premiers.
"We’re going to have to be defensively very good to stop their front four players, and make sure that we take our opportunities when we get them."
Sydney FC v Perth Glory
When: Wednesday, August 26
Kick-off: 8.10pm AEST
Venue: Bankwest Stadium
Broadcast: ABC ME (Channel 23) + iview, FOX Sports 507
Stream: MyFootball Live App, Kayo Sports, ABC iView
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