MacLaren levels late in six-goal thriller
Glory looked dead and buried when Kosta Barbarouses put Victory two goals ahead in the 57th minute, but Rostyn Griffiths and substitute Jamie Maclaren each found the back of the net twice to rescue a point for the league leaders.
Perth’s late heroics, however, were soured by a serious ankle injury to in-form winger Chris Harold.
0-1 Fahid Ben Khalfallah (18’) The French-born Tunisian winger was given too much space at the top of the box and fired the opener into the top right corner after a clever build-up from Victory playmaker Gui Finkler.
1-1 Andy Keogh (22’ pen) Harold was brought down in the penalty area by Victory goalkeeper Nathan Coe as he chased down a pass. Referee Peter Green did not hesitate to point to the spot and put Coe’s name in the book for the careless challenge. Keogh then effortlessly pushed the ball into the bottom left corner from the spot as Coe dived to his right.
1-2 Besart Berisha (42’) Glory defender Josh Risdon turned the ball over mid-pitch and the ball was soon in the possession of Ben Khalfallah as he charged towards goal. Berisha made a timely run alongside him and was in perfect position to first receive the pass and then dodge Dino Djulibic before curling the ball past goalkeeper Danny Vukovic to give Victory the lead on the verge of half-time.
1-3 Kosta Barbarouses (57’) The speedy forward attempted to flick a low cross to Berisha in the box after running on to a long ball, but his pass was foiled by Risdon. However, the deflection went straight back into the path of Barbarouses, now in the box, and he evaded Djulbic to register his team’s third goal of the match.
2-3 Rostyn Griffths (79’) Glory needed a hero and the defensive midfielder emerged high from a cross to pull back a goal and give the home side hope of a late rally.
3-3 Jamie Maclaren (89’) The young striker has developed a reputation for late heroics and he secured a point for Glory with a dashing run down the wing and slotted the ball perfectly past Coe at the far post.
It may not have resulted in a goal on the scoresheet, but Finkler’s deadly cross in the opening six minutes set the tone for Victory and exposed fragility in Perth’s usually impenetrable defence.
Opta Data Stats
Ben Khalfallah’s goal enhanced Victory’s reputation as the best long-range scoring team in the league. Victory has now scored six times from outside the box this season, one more than Glory.
Victory has also scored on 15 consecutive visits to Perth, but it was just the third time the two-time A-League champions have netted more than two goals.
Harold collapsed to the turf in the 28th minute after twisting awkwardly on his right ankle as he attempted to evade a Victory defender. The in-form winger was in obvious pain and was immediately pulled from the game before the half-hour mark for the second straight game after being forced off with heat exhaustion during Glory’s last match earlier this month. Harold had to be carried from the pitch by the team’s medical staff and he appears set for an extended stint on the sidelines.
Mystery also surrounds the late withdrawal of Daniel De Silva before the start of the match. The Glory youngster was named to start, but was replaced in the starting XI by Ruben Zadkovich just before kick-off. Meanwhile, Victory pair Archie Thompson and Scot Galloway did not take part due to soreness.
Back to the drawing board
Rostyn Griffiths will miss Glory’s next match against Sydney FC after picking up his fifth yellow season, creating a headache for coach Kenny Lowe at the back. The defensive midfielder has been a linchpin in front of the back four this season and there are no obvious replacements in Glory’s squad. Zadkovich will most likely fill the void, but has rarely looked comfortable in a defensive role during his few appearances since joining Perth from Newcastle.
The Final Word
Perth Glory keeps finding a way to salvage a result, even if it does happen late. Kenny Lowe’s side ensured at least another fortnight at the top of the A-League with the draw, but the defensive lapses will give the coach plenty to ponder ahead of his team’s next match against Sydney at home on Saturday week.
Victory coach Kevin Muscat cut a forlorn figure after the match as he was left to rue a missed chance to close the gap on Perth. There was plenty to like about the performance though, especially without Mark Milligan, Archie Thompson and Scot Galloway.
Perth Glory: Danny Vukovic (GK), Rostyn Griffiths, Dino Djulbic, Ruben Zadkovich, Andy Keogh, Nebojsa Marinkovic, Richard Garcia (Jamie Maclaren 72’), Chris Harold (Dragan Paljic 30’), Josh Risdon, Scott Jamieson, Michael Thwaite (C).
Melbourne Victory: Nathan Coe (GK), Jason Geria, Nick Ansell, Leigh Broxham (C), Gui Finkler (Connor Pain 79’), Besart Berisha (Jesse Makarounas 86’), Kosta Barbarouses, Fahid Ben Khalfallah, Daniel Georgievski, Carl Valeri, Adrian Leijer.
Scorers: Fahid Ben Khalfallah (18’) Andy Keogh (22’ pen), Besart Berisha (42’), Kosta Barbarouses (57’), Rostyn Griffths (79’), Jamie Maclaren (89’)
Red cards: Nil
Yellow cards: Rostyn Griffiths (10’), Nathan Coe (21’), Adrian Leijer (67’), Andy Keogh (86’), Leigh Broxham (75’)
Conditions: 32C, hot
Attendance: 12,271 @ nib Stadium