Report by Peter Simcox, Photos by Football West/FotoEnzo
A late own goal from Gold Fields WA State Team skipper Calum O’Connell gave Perth Glory a 2-1 win in Thursday night’s Challenge Cup match at Dalmatinac Park.
The WA side were outstanding and despite going behind to a Tomislav Mrcela header early in the second half, Trent Kay levelled with 17 minutes remaining and it looked like they would hold on for a draw.
It wasn’t to be. Yet despite the defeat Gold Fields WA State Team head coach Jamie Harnwell said his players had pushed the A-League side all the way.
“I was really pleased with the side tonight, they kept their shape well and were disciplined all night and I couldn’t have been prouder of them. To lose narrowly to an A-League team, four weeks out from their season, is very pleasing,” he said.
Harnwell, who was also in charge of the State side that went down 5-2 to Glory at Inglewood early last month, added: “The players enjoy playing these games and you could see the desire amongst them, the work rate was excellent.
“We flagged a bit late but you get that. But I thought it was a great advert for the talent we have in our local leagues.”
Balcatta defender O’Connell said the State side matched Glory in most departments on the night, but the respective fitness levels probably told toward the end.
“I thought when it got to 1-1 we had the chance to put the pressure on them, but the late own goal was unlucky. But there were a few tired legs out there as well,” he said.
“I thought we all put in a good shift and made them earn the win. We had our chances, we hit the bar and created a couple of others and kept our shape well, but their fitness probably showed late.”
The WA side made a positive start with Bayswater City’s Gian Albano a constant threat, and after being picked out by great cross field pass by David Stokoe early, his shot on the run was well blocked and cleared.
Moments later Glory midfielder Jake Brimmer’s long-range effort stung the palms of Luke Radonich, playing at his Cockburn City home ground, before Jason Davidson’s effort was saved low by the WA keeper.
Glory lost youngster Jacob Italiano on 16 minutes with a knee injury but coach Tony Popovic strangely didn’t replace him, meaning the Glory played the rest of the half with only 10 men.
Both sides had chances as the game started to open up. First Hasani Sinclair headed over from an Albano cross, before Brandon Wilson’s long-range effort was well saved by the alert Radonich.
WA were having their best spell of the game and they went within inches of the lead on 35 minutes, when former Glory Youth player Albano cut inside from the left and unleashed a shot which beat Jackson Lee but crashed off the upright.
Glory should have gone into the break with the lead in the final minute, when a cross from Mrcela picked out the unmarked Chris Harold, but the striker failed to find the target.
There were several changes at the break for the Glory and they did start the second half with a full side, but it was the WA side who went close early. A long ball sent Chris Jackson racing clear, but Glory keeper Lee stood tall to deny the 2018 Joint NPL WA Golden Boot winner.
But on 56 minutes it was Glory who hit the front when Brimmer’s corner was headed home powerfully by Mrcela.
It was a bitter blow for the WA side, and they almost conceded a second moments later, Harold’s shot on the run was saved low by Radonich.
They continued to push and almost levelled when Sinclair’s header was saved by Glory trialist keeper Devon Spence.
But on 73 minutes the WA side were rewarded for their pressure with the equaliser. David Micevski’s corner picked out Kay, and the Bayswater man rose highest to head home.
It was well deserved and the State side almost grabbed a second when Spence spilled Micevski’s inswinging corner, but the keeper got back in time to save the ball on the line at the second attempt.
It looked like the WA side would hold on for a draw but five minutes from time Glory found the winner in fortunate circumstances.
A great run into the box by Joel Chianese ended with a low shot that hit one post rebounded onto the other, before the unfortunate O’Connell’s attempted clearance went into his own net.
WA had one last chance to earn a draw in the final minute, when Liam Merigan’s shot on the run was saved low by Spence, but the Glory held on for the win.
Gold Fields WA State Team 1 (Kay 73min) Perth Glory 2 (Mrcela 56, Chianese 85) Wednesday September 13 Dalmatinac Park
WA State Team: GK Luke RADONICH (RGK Sam STONE 63’), 4 Callum O’CONNELL, 5 David STOKOE, 6 Johnny CHALMERS, 7 Gian ALBANO (15 Chris SALDARIS 57’), 10 Chris JACKSON, 11 Hasani SINCLAIR (12 David MICEVSKI 71’), 14 Brian WOODALL, 16 Scott ROBERTSON (2 Liam MERIGAN 63’), 27 Jonathan CORNESS, 28 Shane CASSIDY (13 Trent KAY 63’) Substitutes not used: None Yellow cards: None Red cards: None
Perth Glory: GK Jackson LEE (RGK Devon SPENCE 67′), 2 Alex GRANT (6 Dino DJULBIC 46′), 3 Jason DAVIDSON (25 Walter SCOTT, 46′), 4 Shane LOWRY (19 Zayd FARAH 46′), 23 Scott NEVILLE (7 Joel CHIANESE 67′), 14 Chris HAROLD (11 Brendon SANTALAB 67′), 16 Tomislav MRCELA (24 Henry HORE 67′), 21 Jacob ITALIANO (9 Michael DOMFEH 46′), 20 Jake BRIMMER (8 Jordan ABRAHAMS 67′), 15 Brandon WILSON (88 Neil KILKENNY 67′), 31 Chok DAU (22 Fabio FERREIRA 67′) Substitutes not used: None Yellow cards: None Red cards: None