Wellington and Perth Glory played out an entertaining 1-1 draw in Christchurch, leaving Perth unbeaten in four games and Wellington winless in five.
Wellington putting their reputation as slow starters to bed after taking the lead after only four minutes into the match.
A dangerous free kick whipped in by Costa Rican playmaker Carlos Hernandez combined with a distracting run from Ben Sigmund caused Danny Vukovic to misjudge the ball and all Andrew Durante had to do was tap it over the line.
An early set back for the Glory seemed to spur them on and they really grew into the game. Scott Jamieson and winger Sidnei Sciola having a field day, in the first half alone, Perth had notched up 11 balls in from the left compared to Wellington’s 2.
With Cameron Edwards earning a starting spot next to captain Jacob Burns after impressive performances off the bench, this allowed Steve McGarry to start further up the field as the creative number 10.
Perth dominating large periods of possession and looking ever so dangerous out wide, you could see a goal was coming. Wellington also looked dangerous on the counter attack with Jeremy Brockie and Stijn Huysegems threatening Vukovic’s goal.
Glory were rewarded for their continuous attacking forays in the 24th minute after Sidnei was found in behind and beaming down towards Glen Moss’s goal. The left winger’s speed and skill proving too much for Durante as Sidnei smartly faked to shoot, did a nice turn and laid it on a platter for Ryo Nagai to slot it home making it 1-1.
Shane Smeltz made his first start after his off season hip surgery and looked busy for the away side after combining with the midfield well and creating attacking chances.
The addition of C.Edwards into midfield proved a good move as his link up play with the midfielders and forwards found to be the catalyst for a majority of Perth’s fluidity and attacking play.
The second half saw both teams go for the win. Perth continued on from the first half performance with full backs Scott Jamieson and Matty Davies bombing forward, proving a handful for the Wellington defence.
The 54th minute saw the introduction of Ryan Edwards (for Cameron Edwards) and Jamie Maclaren on for Smeltz. Coach Alistair Edwards wrapping Smeltz in cotton wool as he and six Wellington players were to jet off to America for World Cup qualifiers straight after the game.
Wellington also introduced Paul Ifill for Riera and his impact was immediate. Creating chances for Brockie and Huysegems, he was the go-to man for the Kiwis.
A frustrated Carlos Hernandez was not as effective as in recent weeks after the Perth midfield did well to close him down and put him off his game by not letting him get on the ball by putting in some strong challenges.
Glory putting the afterburners on in the last 20 minutes as Jamie Maclaren was sent through by some great footwork by Ryan Edwards, who drew in three players and then threaded the ball through for Maclaren. The youngster timed his run to perfection and opted to take the ball past Glen Moss but failed to hit the target from an acute angle.
Ifill looking dangerous, forced a foul out of Jamieson right on the edge of the box in the 75th minute – the game hanging on a knife’s edge after the match really started to open up.
Wellington though failed to threaten from the resulting free kick.
Another youngster 19 year old Brandon O’Neill replaced Ryo Nagai and the move almost immediately paid off after his strike from the edge of the box forced Moss into a scrambling save.
Minutes later after great play from Maclaren taking the ball to the by line then cutting it back to O’Neill, he shifted it out to Sidnei who 6 yards out was denied by a brilliant last ditch tackle from Andrew Durante.
Perth finishing strongly, something teams against Wellington have failed to do in previous games. Attacking until the very last minute, a vast improvement from their last game at home against Sydney FC.
Glory edging out overall possession 51% to 49% and looked the more likely to have won the game. The signs for Wellington are good although they go another week without a win.
The team is playing well and will no doubt grow into the league in the coming weeks.