A 10-man Perth Glory has ended their turbulent season on a high with a spirited 2-1 win over Western Sydney Wanderers at a wet Pirtek Stadium on Saturday night.
Jamie Maclaren’s fifth goal from his last five matches had them 1-0 up at the break before the home side drew level through teenage debutant Liam Youlley early in the second half.
But Andy Keogh grabbed a winner 13 minutes later – his 12th of the season - to hand Glory their first-ever win at ‘Wanderland’.
0-1 Maclaren (17’) – Rostyn Griffiths spotted the run by Maclaren played a beautifully weighted pass in behind the Wanderers defence for the Olyroo attacker to run on to. He shot across the goal with Wanderers ‘keeper Dean Bouzanis getting a glove on it but not enough to keep it out.
1-1 Youlley (53’) – The Wanderers won a free-kick on the right but instead of crossing into the box, Nick Kalmar opted to play the ball square to an unmarked Youlley. The 18-year-old hit a low shot first-time which went through a sea of Glory legs, pin-balling off a couple and trickling past an un-sighting Danny Vukovic and trickling in.
1-2 Keogh (66’) – Josh Risdon sliced through the Wanderers defence, cutting inside from right-back before making a clever pass to Keogh. The Irishman made no mistake, curling his strike into the far corner with his weaker left foot.
Just after the break Glory had a great chance to double their lead. A shot from the edge of the box was deflected towards goal by the head of Richard Garcia, crashing onto the crossbar. The loose ball rolled nicely into the path of Danny De Silva just a couple of metres out but the youngster somehow skied his shot over the bar with the goal gaping. Definitely a contender for miss of the season. Compounding matters for the visitors they conceded soon after and allowed the Wanderers to level the scores.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
Perth extended their unbeaten run away from home to 11 matches and tasted victory for the first time-ever at Pirtek Stadium, in four attempts. The average age of the Wanderers' starting XI was just 23.48 years – the youngest ever in a match for the club. The debut of Youlley and introduction of Golgol Mebrahtu after the break meant the Wanderers used a total of 37 players for the season, an A-League high.
Kick off was delayed by almost an hour after a massive thunderstorm rolled in about 45 minutes before the scheduled start. The players were forced to abandon their warm up as the epic storm brought with it massive hail stones which covered the Pirtek Stadium surface. It made for an incredible sight as the entire pitch was covered white. Thankfully the storm cleared soon after to allow the match to go ahead in perfect conditions and to a picturesque backdrop.
Already on a yellow card for an earlier indiscretion, Kramar should have known better than to bring down Steve Kuzmanovski as he tried to get away down the Wanderers’ right. It left the referee with little choice but to send him off and leave Kenny Lowe’s side the last 15 minutes with just 10 men.
THE FINAL WORD
It’s a case of what might have been for Perth, who would have played in the Finals Series but for the club’s punishment for salary cap breaches. It promises to be an interesting off-season in the west. The Wanderers avoided the indignity of finishing with the wooden spoon and will be desperate to improve for the next campaign. The still have an ACL clash to come on May 5 against Guangzhou Evergrande in China. They must win and hope for the other result to go their way to progress to the knockout stage.
Western Sydney Wanderers FC: Bouzanis, D’Cunha, Aspropotamitis, Topor-Stanley, Golec, Youlley (Trifiro 75’), Poljak, Kuzmanovski, Kalmar (Mebrahtu 71’), Rukavytsya (Bridge 57’), Bulut
Perth Glory: Vukovic, Risdon, Djulbic, Thwaite, Kramar, Griffiths, Garcia, Oxborrow (Marinkovic 80’), Maclaren (Harold 90+2’), Keogh, De Silva (Jamieson 60’)
Scorers: Maclaren 17’, Youlley 53’, Keogh 66’
Red cards: Kramar 76’
Yellow cards: Bulut 27’, Youlley 38’, Oxborrow 40’, Kramar 52’ & 76’, Aspropotamitis 83’, Keogh 90+1’
Conditions: 20C, WetAttendance: 8852 @ Pirtek Stadium