Glory down 'Nix to set up Grand Final rematch
A well-taken first-half goal from Joel Chianese proved enough to secure Glory a hard-fought victory over Wellington Phoenix in a pulsating Elimination Final at Bankwest Stadium.
The 30-year-old found the bottom corner in the 18th minute and Tony Popovic's men then held firm in the face of a late onslaught from the Kiwi side to set up a Grand Final rematch with Sydney FC in Wednesday's Semi-Finals.
In a breathless game littered with chances at either end, Liam Reddy produced several key saves to preserve Glory's lead, notably from Ulises Davila just before the break, while David Ball struck the woodwork as Phoenix maintained their desperate search for an equaliser right up to the final whistle.
Unsurprisingly, Popovic was quick to hail his side's character in his post-match comments.
"It was a fantastic defensive display," he said.
"We lost Alex Grant to an ankle injury in training yesterday, unfortunately, so we had to readjust the line-up and I thought the players were excellent.
"It was everything you could ask for from a playing group in a Finals game and I think that just shows the belief the players have had throughout this whole hub.
"Results aside, I've always believed in these players and what they showed today may surprise many people outside the hub, but certainly no-one within the hub.
"Now we focus on Sydney FC.
"You have to beat the best to win the Championship and they've been the best this year, so we know what we're up against.
"But we're a game away from the Grand Final, so we'll go and give it everything we have, as we did tonight and we know we're a chance."
Any notion of a cagey Finals contest unfolding was dispelled as early as the second minute when Tomislav Mrcela rose highest to meet Neil Kilkenny's inswinging free-kick but couldn't keep his header down.
And it was from another Kilkenny corner soon that Glory came agonisingly close to opening the scoring, Bruno Fornaroli trying to force the loose ball over the line, Stefan Marinovic somehow managing to push the Uruguayan's effort onto the bar and David Ball clearing Chianese's follow-up effort off the line.
Glory and Chianese were not to be denied moments later, however, Jake Brimmer's pinpoint through-ball releasing the pacy attacker who showed no hesitation in bagging his fifth goal of the season with a crisp left-foot strike.
Stung by that setback, Phoenix proceeded to test out the Glory defence and they found Reddy in fine form.
The man who starred for Wellington when they defeated Glory on penalties in the 2010 Finals produced a smart stop at the near post to foil Jaushua Sotirio, before repeating the feat to keep out both a free-kick and a 20m strike from Davila.
Ivan Franjic then did well to block Liberato Cacace's goalbound effort right at the start of the second half ahead of another strike from Davila which drew a regulation save from Reddy.
Piscopo was next to try his luck for Phoenix, fizzing a shot narrowly wide from just outside the box and it was the lively attacking midfielder's free-kick that was volleyed over by Steven Taylor seconds later.
Reddy was called into action once again in the 70th minute, getting down well to keep out Sotirio's shot across the face of goal and the Wellington forward threatened again almost immediately, contriving to blaze wide from 10m out having been teed up by Callan Elliot.
The Glory 'keeper continued to excel, blocking Ball's angled shot and yet another long-distance effort from Davila, before Ball struck the top of the bar with a hooked volley in what proved to be the final chance of a memorable encounter.
Hyundai A-League 2020 Elimination Final 1
Wellington Phoenix 0 Perth Glory 1 (Chianese 18')
Bankwest Stadium, Parramatta
Referee: Alex King
Assistant Referee 1: Owen Goldrick
Assistant Referee 2: James Cleal
Fourth Official: Kurt Ams
VAR: Kris Griffiths-Jones
Wellington Phoenix: 1.Stefan MARINOVIC (gk), 4.Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI, 5.Matti STEINMANN (14.Alex RUFER 86'), 7.Reno PISCOPO, 8.Cameron DEVLIN (21.Callum McCOWATT 74'), 9.David BALL, 10.Ulises DAVILA, 11.Jaushua SOTIRIO, 13.Liberato CACACE, 17.Callan ELLIOT, 27.Steven TAYLOR (c)
Substitutes not used: 2.Liam McGING, 12.Brandon WILSON, 30.Zac JONES (gk), 31.Ben WAINE, 32.Sam SUTTON
Yellow Cards: Devlin
Red Cards: None
Perth Glory : 33.Liam REDDY (gk), 5.Ivan FRANJIC, 7.Joel CHIANESE, 9.Bruno FORNAROLI (c), 16.Tomislav MRCELA, 20.Jake BRIMMER (22.Vince LIA 87'), 21.Tarek ELRICH, 23.Dane INGHAM, 27.JUANDE, 29.Kristian POPOVIC (13.Osama MALIK 80'), 88.Neil KILKENNY
Substitutes not used: 8.James MEREDITH, 25.Carlo ARMIENTO, 28.Gabriel POPOVIC, 50.Daniel MARGUSH (gk), 61.Yianni PERKATIS
Yellow Cards: Mrcela, Juande
Red Cards: None
Perth Glory Media Release
Versatile Perkatis joins Glory squad
Perth Glory is pleased to confirm that midfielder Yianni Perkatis has signed for the club.
The former Western Sydney Wanderers man has joined on a short-term deal which runs to the end of the current Hyundai A-League campaign.
The 26-year-old is a former Australia Under-17 and Under-20 representative who made eight Hyundai A-League appearances during two seasons at Wanderers under current Glory Head Coach, Tony Popovic.
Perkatis, who also enjoyed two successful spells at NPL NSW club Blacktown City, tried his luck overseas at Cypriot side Ethnikos Assia and in the Philippines with Global FC before returning to Australia in 2017 and linking up with Sydney United.
Glory Football Director Jacob Burns, himself a former Sydney United midfielder, believes that Perkatis is an excellent addition to the squad.
“Yianni has been a standout in the NPL NSW since returning from his time overseas,” he said.
“We do, of course, have strong links with Sydney United through both Head Coach Tony Popovic and myself and have been aware of Yianni’s impressive form for some time.
“He’s a talented, versatile midfielder who can play in the middle or at the back if required and he will add quality and depth to our squad during the busy period we have ahead.
“We’re confident that he will grab this opportunity with both hands and in doing so, press his claim to secure a longer-term deal with the club.”
Perkatis himself, meanwhile, is understandably relishing the prospect of returning to Hyundai A-League action.
“I was thrilled when Tony Popovic told me there was a potential opportunity for me to come and join the Glory squad,” he said.
“I’m now really excited and looking forward to coming into the squad and getting to know the other players.
“I’m aiming to develop as a player and as a person, help the club to win a trophy and explore any opportunities there might be with Perth going into next season.”
Like fellow-new recruit Thomas James, Perkatis will join up with the rest of the Glory squad upon their arrival in Sydney later today.
Glory snap up Wollongong hot-shot
Perth Glory is pleased to confirm that striker Thomas James has signed for the club.
The 27-year-old, who scored 24 goals for Wollongong Wolves in the NPL NSW last season en route to claiming the competition’s Golden Boot and Player of the Year Award, has put pen to paper on a deal that will run through to the end of the current campaign.
London-born James was a part of the youth system at Nottingham Forest and played for Boston United in the UK before moving to Australia in 2015 and duly scoring a remarkable 80 goals in 83 games for Canberra FC in the NPL Capital Football competition.
Having continued his prolific form in front of goal at Wollongong, James was linked with a number of Hyundai A-League clubs over the past 12 months and Glory Football Director Jacob Burns is delighted that the club have managed to secure the frontman’s services.
"Thomas is a player that we’ve been monitoring for some time," he said, "and we’ve given him this short-term deal with a view to it being extended should he impress when the season resumes.
"A quick and versatile central striker with a proven goalscoring record, we believe he has the ability to play at a higher level and look forward to seeing him prove that in the coming weeks.
"He will give us another exciting attacking option during what will be an intensive period with the games coming thick and fast."
James himself, meanwhile, is understandably relishing the opportunity to reignite his professional football ambitions with Glory.
"This was the solid offer that I was waiting for and from a top club like Perth Glory, it was impossible to knock back," he said.
"Now I just want to enjoy every minute, have no regrets and get on the field as much as I can because I know I’ll score a few goals, that’s for sure.
"I was actually in hospital when I found out about Glory’s interest because I’d just had a new-born baby boy, so I was super-excited about the birth of my child and about the opportunity to play for Perth."
Current Wollongong Head Coach and former Socceroo Luke Wilkshire is similarly confident that James has what it takes to make the step up from NPL level.
"He’s a goalscorer, he’s quick and creative and always a threat for defenders," he said.
"He’s always had that goalscoring ability, but he’s now brought more into his game off the ball as well, improved mentally and physically and I have no doubt that he’s good enough to be playing in the A-League."
James will join up with the rest of the Glory squad upon their arrival in Sydney.
Castro withdraws from squad ahead of season resumption
Perth Glory can confirm that Diego Castro has withdrawn from the squad which will complete the remainder of the Hyundai A-League 2019/20 season, citing health reasons relating to COVID-19.
The Glory skipper informed the club that he viewed his participation to be an unacceptable health risk for him and/or his family.
Glory CEO Tony Pignata said that the club respected Castro’s decision.
"It is very unfortunate that Diego will not be available for the remainder of the season,” he said, “but we understand this personal decision that he has come to after careful consideration."
Those sentiments were echoed by Glory Football Director, Jacob Burns.
"Obviously we’re very disappointed to have lost a player and leader of Diego’s quality,” he said, "but his absence will create an opportunity for other members of what is a strong, versatile squad united in its aim to build upon last season’s historic success."
The club will not be issuing any further comment on this matter at this time.
FFA Update on Hyundai A-League 2019/20 Season
Courtesy Perth Glory.
Please see below for a statement issued today by Football Federation Australia (FFA) regarding the Hyundai A-League 2019/20 season:
Football Federation Australia (FFA) today re-confirmed its intention to resume the Hyundai A-League 2019/20 season as soon as possible, identifying a number of criteria that need to be satisfied before a firm date for the resumption could be set.
Those criteria include the sustainable provision of:
• Player and staff Health and Safety threshold requirements
• State and Federal border restrictions being lifted
• Large gathering restrictions allowing for the required squads and support staff to gather
• Social distancing protocols being agreed with governments to allow the holding of professional games
The FFA confirmed that it is in ongoing dialogue with government health authorities on all of these elements with thresholds for activation being identified.
Any recommencement would require an initial period of training and conditioning for club squads in order to ensure both the health and safety of the Hyundai A-League’s elite players and the integrity of the competition.
FFA Chief Executive James Johnson said there was agreement between the FFA and the clubs that the season would be completed:
“Our goal is to deliver live, professional football and complete the Hyundai A-League 2019/20 season, and we have set a number of criteria that will define when this is going to be possible.
“Our priority remains the health and safety of all players and staff and we will need to be satisfied that appropriate measures are in place to ensure this. Secondly, we will need to meet all government restrictions in place at the time, including state/territory border controls. Finally, any decision to resume will be made in full alignment with Government and its medical advisors.
“We will resume play as soon as possible, and the first stage would see the players return to training. We would then schedule matches. It is difficult to see that process beginning before the end of May, but we will work with all stakeholders to achieve the earliest possible resumption.
“Football takes its responsibilities as a good corporate citizen very seriously, and remains committed to working in partnership with the Government to slow the spread of COVID-19. At the same time, we want to play our part in supporting the social and mental wellbeing of the Australian football family and all sports-loving Australians.
“Ultimately, the coronavirus will have the final say on when we can get the season started again, and completed.
“We want to thank the clubs and players who have been understanding of the current circumstances and worked collaboratively with us in relation to this matter throughout this period. I would also like to acknowledge our supporters, commercial partners and football community who continue to remain engaged and connected during this difficult time, and we thank them for their continued support."
FFA will continue to work with the clubs as well as our broadcasters and provide a further update in May 2020. In the meantime, please stay engaged with the Hyundai A-League and Clubs through all our social channels.