A goal from Angel Andres earned the WA State team a memorable 1-1 draw against Perth Glory on Wednesday night in a challenge match that served as part of the Hyundai A-League club’s preparations for the new campaign.
More than 600 people flocked to Hartfield Park, the home of Forrestfield United, to watch the evenly contested match that came to life when Dianella White Eagles striker Andres found the net after 28 minutes.
Glory drew level in the 36th minute when Adam Taggart fired home before tempers flared and the A-League side’s captain, Andy Keogh, was shown a yellow card following a confrontation with Subiaco’s David Perich.
Neither side could break the deadlock in an entertaining second half.
WA State team coach Ian McMurray, who had taken on the role at late notice, was impressed with the performance, given the squad had not trained together before taking on the Glory.
“We spoke before the game about working hard for each other, and they certainly did that,” he said.
“The boys were introducing themselves to each other before the game, so to put in a good performance like that was brilliant.
“We kept our shape really well and we knew we had to, as they were very sharp and knocked the ball around well, but we were all on the same page.”
It’s been a meteoric rise in the coaching ranks for McMurray, who coached his first season at PS4 NPLWA side Subiaco in 2017.
“It’s a huge honour for me to coach the WA State team,” he said.
“I’ve played for them, but to coach them is huge.
“When I took over at Subiaco I never dreamt of doing this, but I’m delighted to have been given the opportunity, and the boys backed my up with a good performance.”
WA skipper Daryl Nicol said they worked hard for each other and were rewarded with a good result.
“We were really happy in the first half, we got in behind them a few times and created some good chances,” he said.
“A number of us haven’t played competitive football for a few weeks with our season finishing, but to go to the end and earn a draw shows the commitment and discipline we had out there tonight.
“I was really honoured to captain the side tonight, thanks to Ian for giving me the opportunity. It was a proud moment to lead the side out.”
The Hartfield Park grandstand was full at kick off and Glory almost opened the scoring in the first minute.
Joel Chianese sent Taggart clear, but his shot was well saved by Ryan Montgomery. Taggart was in again moments later, but this time his effort flashed wide of the target.
WA settled and went close themselves on the quarter hour. Forrestfield United winger Rhys Loxley’s shot from the edge of the penalty area was pushed around the post by the alert Liam Reedy.
Nicol was then sent clear ten minutes later, but his shot whistled the wrong side of the upright. It was a good spell of pressure from WA and they were rewarded with the lead on 28 minutes.
A mix up at the back saw WA rob the Glory on the edge of the penalty area, and it ended with Andres finishing clinically into the bottom corner of the net.
Chris Saldaris then headed just wide, and David Perich’s long-range shot flew over the top, but against the run of play Glory levelled.
A defence splitting pass from Chianese sent Taggart in on goal, and the striker finished with composure past Montgomery.
After the break, Andy Keogh was denied by half time substitute keeper Jason Saldaris, and Nicol fired over the top after being picked out by Scott Witschge.
Moments later Shane Lowry’s header crashed off the crossbar, and Keogh was denied by a superb last ditch tackle from Alex Castiello, as Glory turned the screw.
Jason Saldaris then produced a great one-handed save to thwart Daniel Stynes’ snap shot, then at the other end Reedy saved low from Richard Howles’ effort.
Both sides continued their chances to win it, with Taggart stinging the palms of Jason Saldaris on 75 minutes and Keogh firing straight at the WA custodian but it ended all square with WA holding back the Glory.
Glory fans will have to wait a little longer to see their three Spanish signings in action together as Diego Castro, Xavi Torres and Andreu did not feature in the match.