Smeltz snatches a draw

A last minute goal from striker Shane Smeltz has helped Gold Coast United come from two goals down to secure a 2-2 draw with Perth Glory at ME Bank Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

A last minute goal from striker Shane Smeltz has helped Gold Coast United come from two goals down to secure a 2-2 draw with Perth Glory at ME Bank Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The Glory had opened up their lead by half-time on the back of goals from Branko Jelic and Victor Sikora but United stormed back into the contest when defender Bas van den Brink pulled one back in the 52nd minute.

United stopper Scott Higgins produced two brilliant saves to deny Jelic and then Wayne Srhoj in an action-packed 73rd minute, but the misses proved costly as Smeltz scored his ninth goal in six matches when he buried a late finish from Steve Pantelidis' cross.

There appeared little danger when Amaral conceded a free kick at the half-way point, but when it was rapidly taken by van den brink, it released Pantelidis down the right and his cross was converted by an onrushing Smeltz, who concussed Glory stopper Tando Velaphi in the process.

"I think we let them back into the game and it's very disappointing," Glory striker Mile Sterjovski said.

"Hopefully our lucks going to change (but) we can concentrate on that last 15 minutes of the game, 'cause I think that's where we do struggle a bit," he added, referring to a late goal by Central Coast in the last round that saw the Mariners claim a 2-1 win.

Gold Coast United boss Miron Bleiberg, however, was thrilled for his charges, saying the result could only instil belief in a team that, despite its good performances, is still coming together in its first season.

"I think today's game in the long run, we lost two points but character wise, and building wise, it probably cements the group," Bleiberg said.

To come to Perth, a hungry team, with such quality, three Socceroos ... and we came from 2-0 down and we made it 2-2 and we looked the goods."

"I mean, in the long run, the boys know that whatever happens, whether it be next week or a final or a grand final, we can be 2-0 down and we're still good enough."

The result sees league leader Gold Coast move three points clear of second-placed Sydney FC as Perth stays in seventh on the Hyundai A-League table, ahead of a trip to face bogey side Brisbane next Sunday.

A nervous Glory may have given away an early headed chance to Smeltz, but the Perth side settled quickly in front of its home crowd and started taking the attack to the Gold Coast.

Despite having only conceded three goals so far this season, United's defence appeared rattled as the Glory thrust forward repeatedly and were unlucky not to open scoring in the eighth minute when Jelic slipped the ball wide from close range.

Adama Traore looked particularly vulnerable at left back as the Glory targeted his flank for several attacks on goal. As early as the ninth minute, Glory right midfielder Adriano Pellegrino had sent in a quality cross that Sikora only just failed to control in the area and it was no surprise when Perth opened the scoring from a Traore mistake.

The Ivorian teenager lost possession in the 14th minute, allowing Pellegrino to slip a slide-rule pass through to Mile Sterjovksi, with the marquee man's cross-cum-shot prodded into the back of the net by Jelic.

The strains of The Fratellis' 'Chelsea Dagger', played whenever Perth scores a goal, had barely been muted when the Glory doubled the advantage two minutes later.

A poor kick off allowed Naum Sekulovski to take possession at left midfield and his pass released a full-pelt Sikora who accelerated onto goal and fired home past a diving Scott Higgins.

Clearly rattled, United's defence almost conceded a third when an errant backpass fell perfectly for Pellegrino in the area who fired over the bar.

There just seemed no respite from Perth as its players held onto possession with intent and closed down United's attacks, forcing skipper Jason Culina to play a deeper role that negated his ability to create goals for an isolated Smeltz.

The visitors did have one opportunity in the 38th minute when Culina's free kick from the right glanced off van den Brink's thigh close to goal, but Velaphi showed he was back to his best after a horror game last week as palmed the ball to safety.

Gold Coast coach Miron Bleiberg would have had some harsh words for his charges at half-time and they came out a much more settled unit after the break.

The Glory seemed content to soak up the pressure but it came back to haunt them in the 52nd minute when van den Brink pulled a goal back.

The warning signs were there when Velaphi did well to punch away Kristian Rees's header. But from the corner that followed, van den Brink was on hand to power home his header from Culina's whipped-in ball.

Against the most dangerous side in the league going forward, the Glory opted to attack instead of going into their shells. Just after the hour a Pellegrino corner led to a mad scramble in the United box while Higgins brilliantly blocked Jelic's goalbound effort in the 73rd minute.

As the ball ricocheted out, Higgins was again on hand to save Srhoj's powerful half volley before United earned a point from their efforts through Smeltz's late strike.

Perth Glory 2 (Jelic 14, Sikora 16) Gold Coast United 1 (van den Brink 52, Smeltz 90) Crowd: 9408 at ME Bank Stadium