Glory win battle of fine margins

Tony Tannous Columnist

By Tony Tannous, Tony Tannous is a Roar Expert

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    Perth Glory host Western Sydney Wanderers, desperate to end a nine-match winless streak. (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

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    In a grand final qualifier that was always likely to be decided by the finest of margins, it was no surprise that this one went all the way to the final spot kick.

    In front of a disappointing Bluetongue crowd of 7,572, Perth Glory eventually beat the Central Coast Mariners 5-3 on penalties after scores were locked at 1-1 after extra time. 

    This was always going to be a tight and tense affair, and so it proved, with the game twisting this way and that, the cards eventually falling in the Glory’s favour.

    Such is the physicality and style of both these sides, there was likely to be little separating them, with the formations selected only confirming a risk-free approach, perhaps understandable for a final.
    With Ian Ferguson playing Shane Smeltz in the hole behind Billy Mehmet, in a formation that looked like a 4-2-3-1 in defence and 4-4-2 in attack, this only made the game tighter.

    Graham Arnold, meanwhile, had a choice between the muscle of target man John Sutton or the younger and quicker Bernie Ibini, effectively a choice between hitting a big man and playing for seconds, or trying to expose the Glory in behind.

    Choosing Sutton and leaving Ibini for late impact off the bench highlighted the way Arnold was thinking.

    He was prepared to engage Ferguson in a physical battle, and leave Ibini for later, when the game opened up and players tired.

    In truth, it was the most sensible option, and had both Adam Kwasnik and Ibini been a little more ruthless when the Mariners were dominating the second period, things may have been entirely different.

    Indeed, in the space of a couple of minutes midway through the second period, Kwasnik missed two great opportunities, firing the first close enough for Danny Vukovic to react with his right foot, and then blazing across the goal a minute later.

    And this was after the missed penalty by Patrick Zwaanswijk earlier in the second half. 

    Punching in my notes at the game, I wondered whether these three great opportunities would come back to haunt the Mariners.

    No doubt Arnold and a few in the gallery may have been thinking the same thing. 
    In truth, an inability to finish has been the issue for the Mariners since Matt Simon’s departed in January.

    Flying mid-season, but bereft of funds and needing to balance the books, they took a pragmatic approach by letting Simon and Rostyn Griffiths go.

    This was always likely to come back to bite, and with Sutton failing to have an impact up front, the attack often floundered.  

    Simon’s absence, in particular, effected the performances of Ibini. Together they were developing quite the partnership, sharing scoring and assist duties, but the youngster has struggled since.  

    While Arnold was able to cover the centre of his midfield through John Hutchinson, the lack of midfield cover in his squad meant that Hutchinson, Michael McGlinchey and Oliver Bozanic  were playing game after game, in both the A-League and Asian Champions League.

    Perth on the hand have been able to concentrate on matters domestic, and at times it showed, with Dean Heffernan in particular running on strongly towards the end while his apposing fullbacks looked jaded.

    Earlier in the evening it was Josh Risdon getting forward and impressing, playing a key role in Smeltz’s equaliser.

    While the Mariners had fair claims for feeling aggrieved about the lack of an offside flag in the build up, the ledger was balanced somewhat by the awarding of a soft penalty against Steve Pantelidis.

    At the end of the day, as Arnold hinted afterwards, it was poor finishing rather than poor officiating that cost them.

    The Glory, meanwhile, continue a run that has seen them lose only two of their past 18, that after a five game losing streak before Christmas.

    Ominously, one of those 3-0 losses was at the hands of next week’s grand final opponents, Brisbane Roar.

    Having played two periods of extra time on the spin, there’s little doubt Ferguson will have to nurse some sore and aging bodies through the next week. 

    As well, it looks like he’ll miss his influential Brazilian left sided player Andrezinho, who limped off Bluetongue with what looked a bad groin injury.

    It won’t be easy on the wide expanses of Suncorp, but you’d be mad to completely write off the Glory.

    As I wrote a fortnight ago, Ferguson should take much of the credit for pulling things together, but the reality is that everyone at the club has played a role.

    From Tony Sage to Jacob Burns and the rest of the players, there has been a steely determination to turn things around.

    Burns has epitomised the mentality running through the place, leading by example, rekindling some of his best form.

    Yesterday he took the responsibility of looking after Tomas Rogic, one few have been successful at. Often he was seen throwing his body at an opponent to block a shot, inspiring stuff.

    It was fitting therefore that he stepped up and buried the winning spot kick, as sad as it was to see Michael McGlinchey, one of the Mariners best this season, miss his.

    Such were the fine margins between success and failure on this gripping evening.

    Tony Tannous
    Tony Tannous

    Follow Tony on Twitter @TonyTannousTRBA

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    The Crowd Says (25)

    • April 15th 2012 @ 8:11am
      pete4 said | April 15th 2012 @ 8:11am | ! Report

      Yes you get the feeling Perth has to have a really good day and Brisbane has to have a really bad one to have a chance. How Brisbane pull up from there mid-week ACL fixture is the unknown. However Brisbane will be the very warm favourite in the big one!

    • April 15th 2012 @ 9:01am
      Qantas supports Australian Football said | April 15th 2012 @ 9:01am | ! Report

      I’m really delighted for finally Tony Sage has had the success he richly deserves. Although his team is a very ordinary one—he is an owner who through sheer persistence deserves something for all of his effort; not to mention the rubbish that was thrown at him during the year where he had threaten to walk away because of the abuse he and his family received at Nib, when the team was on the ropes. His faith and loyalty in his manager was amazing who plays with a third rate British style of football that most managers have discarded. I don’t know how this team will fair in the ACL, but Perth will be embracing the league far better than other clubs. For this is the one Tony wants—providing his boys can jump the final hurdle against the Roar. And some how … I can’t help but feel that they will with just sheer, guts, hunger, and determination, with a willingness to battle for every 50/50 ball—it’s their destiny this year.

    • April 15th 2012 @ 9:10am
      Roarsome said | April 15th 2012 @ 9:10am | ! Report

      Good to see Fox Sports playing their part to even the comp by unsettling Brisbane. More articles about Ange going to MV.

      Comment left via The Roar’s iPhone app. Download The Roar’s iPhone App in the App Store here.

    • April 15th 2012 @ 9:27am
      agga78 said | April 15th 2012 @ 9:27am | ! Report

      I take great delight in knowing Fozzie died a little more inside after last nights result and he may need midfielders defibrillator next week if Perth win it against his Barca in minture, no matter how fozzie and others put it this is the 6th grand final out of 7 in the A league where a Scottish born manager has taken his side to the Grand final that is unbelievable effort considering the bashing British managers get on SBS, forums and other media outlets.

      Ferguson was seen as a dud from the begining of his tenure at Perth and Sage almost got rid of him as Melbourne Victory have now done with Magilton because of fozzies rants on TWG, facts are facts if you want to be successful in the A league get yourself a Scottish manager not a british manager a Scot, they may not be able to play football as good as they once did, but they sure know how to manage a side in the A league or EPL.

      Good luck to both sides, I really enjoy the different styles both sides play it is a real contrast and should make for an excellent final, I appreciate all styles and if a more direct style wins out on the day than so be it, football would be boring if it was only played in one way ok Foz.

      • April 15th 2012 @ 9:56am
        Mick said | April 15th 2012 @ 9:56am | ! Report

        PG play some of the worst football in the league..

        I am glad you can handle watching a team that is consistently involved in the most ordinary games

      • April 15th 2012 @ 10:25am
        Realfootball said | April 15th 2012 @ 10:25am | ! Report

        Sage has bought Ferguson his place in the final with a team of aging star players. The football they play never rises above dull and ordinary. On one level I’m pleased at the result because it is great to see Perth thereabouts after so long, and I’m also looking forward to a different grand final opponent to CCM. On the other hand, I have no confidence in Ferguson’s ability as a coach, and this result condemns Perth to several more years of dull, uninspiring True Brit football.

        Next season will be a better test for Ferguson. He has a lot of players in their early to mid 30s, and as a result this is a Perth team that will decine, not improve, with every season unless significant rebuilding is undertaken – exactly what Merrick failed to do at Victory. With this team another year older, Perth will sink without a trace in the ACL without new blood. Frankly, even in the A-League next season, Perth will struggle to keep up with this group of aging players.

        • April 15th 2012 @ 10:46pm
          daniel said | April 15th 2012 @ 10:46pm | ! Report

          Actually, the average age is 29, which drops significantly if you take Miller out.

          • April 15th 2012 @ 11:03pm
            Nathan of Perth said | April 15th 2012 @ 11:03pm | ! Report

            We get such an unfair rep with people. LAST year was the one we tried to buy the league. This year we did it with a lot of judicious, well-thought out purchasing. Even though some of them had us puzzled at the time.

        • April 16th 2012 @ 12:51pm
          Perth OzGooner said | April 16th 2012 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

          Clearly you haven’t watched much of Glory. When we were losing last season and this season it was trying to play route 1 football bashing it long to Billy and Smeltz. Since we moved back to a more possession style game we’ve returned to winning ways, scoring a lot of team goals with long passing moves starting at the back and working the ball forward to the strikers. The overlapping runs from our fullbacks down the wings and quick movement across the field as well as the skill of players like Andrezinho, Miller and McGarry to pick a pass through the defense has made the difference.

          The emergence at the end of the season of some of the teenage players through the middle of the park (while still winning games) shows what we have coming through and the fact that Josh Risdon (19) was one of our most consistant players shows we wont be fading away any time soon. Scott Neville missed most of the season through injury but is back in now and will be again next season. He is only 23. Burns is the only mid 30’s player who consistently starts games. The other 2 (Coyne and Sikora) haven’t been anywhere near the park. The average age of the squad, not including the kids at the end of the season, is under 28. It’s under 27 if the oldest 3 (Burns, McGarry and Dodd) are taken out (all players who have young players backing them up) meaning this squad has a lot more to give so do some research before you next comment on a team.

          • April 16th 2012 @ 12:56pm
            Perth OzGooner said | April 16th 2012 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

            Further to that we also had the equal second highest goals scored in the league.

            • April 16th 2012 @ 5:59pm
              Nathan of Perth said | April 16th 2012 @ 5:59pm | ! Report

              And not one scoreless draw for the entire year, haha.

    • April 15th 2012 @ 10:32am
      The Bear said | April 15th 2012 @ 10:32am | ! Report

      Well done to Perth. Mariners are s little too inexperienced with attacking options.

      Interesting Roarsome! TWG source apparently. Hopefully just a rant. I would trade Ange for MacKay 😉 All is not lost especially if our core stays together.

      Comment left via The Roar’s iPhone app. Download The Roar’s iPhone App in the App Store here.

    • April 15th 2012 @ 1:44pm
      Whites said | April 15th 2012 @ 1:44pm | ! Report

      Also well done to the coverage by Fox Sports. We should be thankful they have the red button facility so they were still able to show the penalty shootout after cutting to an AFL regular season game.

      • April 15th 2012 @ 3:22pm
        Ballymore said | April 15th 2012 @ 3:22pm | ! Report

        Unless you watched it in a pub, hotel room or taped it of course.

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