Western Sydney Wanderers 1 Perth Glory 0
How good is this? ... Wanderers players celebrate after the whistle. Photo: Brendan Esposito
THE fairytale story continues for Western Sydney Wanderers, who clinched their seventh successive win by defeating Perth Glory to inch a step closer to a potential minor premiership in their debut season.
Just five months after making their debut, a squad comprised mostly of players discarded by rival A-League clubs has cemented its place in the finals with five games still to go.
Mobility and speed proved the difference for the Wanderers, whose fluid passing game unravelled the Glory. The winning goal – a deflected Aaron Mooy shot – may not have possessed the finesse their performance deserved, but it was an example of how labour is often rewarded by luck.
A-LEAGUE Feb 23rd
Western Sydney Wanderers defeat Perth Glory at Parramatta Stadium. Photo: Brendan Esposito
The Wanderers started brightly, and a quick exchange down the right flank between Youssouf Hersi and Jerome Polenz carved open a chance for Shinji Ono on the edge of the box. The Japanese star crossed his wires with Joey Gibbs, and a clear chance went begging.
They didn't have to wait much longer for their first shot at goal when a midfielder surged forward to set up Gibbs, but the striker's tame effort went straight into the arms of Glory goalkeeper Danny Vukovic.
Iacopo La Rocca became the first player to enter the book after 11minutes when he caught his opponent in the sternum with a late and high challenge.
The Wanderers' movement off the ball caused havoc for Glory's defenders, and Nicky Ward embodied the visitors frustration when he hauled down Mark Bridge outside the box. Ono forced a save from Danny Vukovic from the free-kick.
Glory provided no answer to the Wanderers onslaught in the first half and as the hosts continued to exert their fluid passing game, Perth gave away fouls that stuttered their opponents attack.
Perth eventually settled and began to find their rhythm midway through the first half as the Wanderers early enthusiasm subsided to a more patient approach. Liam Miller emerged as the fulcrum for Perth's game but they couldn't create a chance on goal despite a strong spell of possession.
The visitors did not show the mentality to take the game to the Wanderers and their lack of intent was reflected as they often slowed the clock down to keep the scores level by half-time.
Perth emerged with more purpose and structural discipline after the break which weakened the Wanderers grip on the match. Though, just as the match appeared to be heading into more of an open contest, the Wanderers eventually found a breakthrough. A quick one-two between Mooy and Mark Bridge exposed holes in the Glory's defence and the Socceroo midfielder's shot received a fortuitous deflection from Michael Thwaite to rattle the back of the net and elicit a deafening roar from the crowd of 11,772.
Glory coach Alistair Edwards responded with a double substitution, replacing Dean Heffernan and Nick Ward with Scott Jamieson and Argentinean midfielder Matias Cordoba. The move added composure to their midfield as the Glory began to retain possession with a short passing game after falling behind.
The Wanderers came close to doubling their lead midway through the second half when Aaron Mooy's 40-metre free kick almost hit the back of the net. His curving effort deceived Vukovic in goals and surpassed everyone in the box to shave the upright.
The visitors refused to surrender and came close again minutes later when they had a long-range drive narrowly deflected over the bar.
But their efforts proved too little, too late as the Wanderers held on for their seventh straight win.
WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS 1 (Aaron Mooy 58m) bt PERTH GLORY 0 at Parramatta Stadium. Crowd: 11,772. Referee: Ben Williams.