Glory on top of the ladder

Perth Glory have continued their strong record at home, defeating Newcastle Jets 1-0 in a fast-paced match at NIB Stadium to move to the top of the A-League ladder.

Newcastle unsuccessfully disputed the goal, claiming Branko Jelic had hit the ball with his hand before it bounced into the net.

The Glory are top of the table after two wins and a draw but can be overtaken by North Queensland or Central Coast later in the round.

The Jets drew their previous games and have just one goal from three outings.

Newcastle aren’t known for being an overly physical team, but their high foul count was indicative of the difficulty they had containing the Glory’s invigorated attack.

Perth have become infamous for falling away in the second half, but coach Dave Mitchell seems to have reversed the trend, as the Glory sprinted home and were unlucky not to increase their 1-0 lead.

While many Perth fans had attended the match keen to see Robbie Fowler score his first goal for the season, it was substitute Jelic who scored the only goal of the match.

Jelic kneed a clumsy, ricocheted save into the back of the net to move Glory to the top of the A-League ladder.

Mitchell had said throughout the week that he didn’t care whether Fowler scored or not, but instead valued the controlling and delivery role the marquee recruit would play.

Perth’s win was marred by the ankle injury to star striker Mile Sterjovski, who fell victim to an ugly tackle and was grimacing in obvious pain as he was helped from the field in the 38th minute.

Shortly after Sterjovski’s substitution, Perth conceded a penalty on the top of the 18-yard box, and referee Matthew Breeze called for the Jets free kick. 21-year-old Marko Jesic, who has had three knee constructions in his short career, stepped up to the dead ball and thundered a curling right-footed shot into the crossbar. Centimetres of woodwork kept scores locked at 0-0 as the first half wound down.

Proving he didn’t need long to insert himself into the game, Glory replacement Jelic scored just before the half-time whistle. On the counterattack, Jelic kneed into the net off Jets goalkeeper Ben Kennedy’s save, giving Glory a one-goal half-time lead to pacify the boisterous local fans.

The Jets were forced to feed off crumbs for the majority of the match, as Perth attacked at pace.

In a sign of their need for speed on the counterattack, Newcastle coach Branko Culina substituted captain Michael Bridges for Labinot Haliti, in the hope the mobile midfielder could inject some pace into the floundering Jets offence.

It was only in the final five minutes that the Jets beagn to regularly find their way into the opposition’s 18-yard box, but it was too little too late.

Buford Balony says: There’s only 1 Perth Glory,1 Perth Glory. They look like they are the business,but it is only 3 games in can they continue on & become the dominant force again?

(Updated Aug 23)
P W D L F A Diff Pts
1 Perth 3 2 1 0 6 3 3 7
2 North Qld 3 1 2 0 7 6 1 5
3 Adelaide 3 1 2 0 4 3 1 5
4 Wellington 2 1 1 0 5 3 2 4
5 Brisbane 2 1 1 0 1 0 1 4
6 Central Coast 3 1 1 1 2 3 -1 4
7 Gold Coast 2 0 2 0 3 3 0 2
8 Newcastle 3 0 2 1 1 2 -1 2
9 Victory 3 0 2 1 5 7 -2 2
10 Sydney 3 0 1 2 4 6 -2 1
11 Heart 3 0 1 2 3 5 -2 1
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