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Perth steamrolls into NSL grand final

ASA: Perth Glory have steamrolled their way into Australia’s Homeart NSL Championship Series Grand Final after they brought league newcomer Adelaide United’s fairytale to a complete stop with a comprehensive 5-0 thrashing at Subiaco Oval in Perth today.

The Glory snapped off the shackles of a major semi final defeat in style as they finally rediscovered the attacking capabilities that ensured they finished well clear at the top of the NSL ladder after the completion of the regular season. Perth found so much space in Adelaide’s rearguard in the second half as they bagged four of their five goals after the interval.

The performance was so emphatic that it should send some warning signs to the folks at Parramatta, the team Perth will play next Sunday for Championship honours.

“They were outstanding,” United coach John Kosmina said of the Glory’s performance. “They were hurting from the last two results and were in good form”.

“I suppose the season caught up to us to some extent. It was a fairytale ride and at the end of the day, no one will complain about where we finished.”

Whilst for Adelaide, although they should be proud of themselves for exceeding the expectations by making the final three, didn’t quite put up a fight as they were well beaten all over the park by a rejuvenated Glory side that looked refreshed and ready for combat. Shots on goal were a rarity and there was not much for the vocal travelling `Stand’ fans from Adelaide to get excited about. Approximately 150 supporters made the trip across the Nullarbor.

The Glory stamped their authority on the match very early, with Damian Mori’s (pictured above) point-blank header well saved by David Scarsella in the sixth minute following a cross from Jamie Coyne on the right flank.

Four minutes later, Perth got the ball rolling with the inevitable opener.

After regaining possession, Adrian Caceres was upended just outside the penalty box. Bobby Despotovski – one of the Glory’s best on ground – stepped up and curled his low right foot strike around the four-man United defence and in between Scarsella and his left-hand post.

On 21 minutes, Caceres went on a weaving run through the middle before sending his shot just over Scarsella’s bar from on the edge of the penalty box.

Adelaide could only muster half chances for the whole match. Aaron Goulding – who was playing as an advanced left sided player – managed to get in behind the Glory defence on two occasions either side of the 20 minute mark but both efforts lacked the result. On the first attempt, his weak shot was collected by Jason Petkovic and on the second occasion, his low cross from the left intended for Nick Budin was thwarted by Petkovic.

It was all Adelaide could create in an opening period that was littered with dangerous chances for Perth.

United’s attack looked a little blunted as lone striker Budin would have been much more effective had he had a partner up front. Veart did provide some support as usual, but not enough to help his team back into the match. Ross Aloisi also struggled to find space in the middle as the Glory ran amok.

Six minutes after the restart, Perth doubled their lead.

Matthew Kemp – who, along with four other players suffered from a gastro-virus in the past few days – sent his back pass into the path of Mori, who latched onto it and buried it under Scarsella.

“At 1-0 we were well and truly in it,” Kosmina said. “We survived the first half, but their second goal killed us. It was game over after that.”

Indeed it was as on 69 minutes, Mori scored his second. However, the tempo of the match could have changed on the hour mark, as Veart had a close range effort dubiously disallowed for offside. Replays showed he was onside when the ball was played through.

But order was restored when Despotovski – whose absence was sorely missed last week – picked up the ball on the right wing before sending a probing through ball to Pondeljak on the inside right. Pondeljak shrugged off a challenge before using his vision to square to the open Mori in the box and the NSL’s all-time leading goalscorer then did what he does best by burying it past the helpless Scarsella.

Despotovski turned from initiator to scorer on 81 minutes.

Mark Byrnes headed it down to Pondeljak – who relished the open space – on the left wing before the latter drifted into the box, wrong-footed Scarsella, before finding Despotovski – who was again unmarked – in the six-yard box. The striker duly converted the open shot to make it 4-0.

The rot didn’t stop there for United as the Glory juggernaut continued to roll on, for one last hurrah.

Pondeljak on the left found substitute Wayne Srhoj running through the middle before Srhoj took advantage of the gaps to pinpoint a pass to Nick Mrdja – who came on for Despotovski in the latter stages.

Mrdja made his way to the top right corner of the box – under no pressure whatsoever – before squeezing his shot with his weaker right foot between the advanced Scarsella and the right post.

Glory coach Mich d’Avray was understably happy with the result.

“We needed this win to have another bite at the cherry,” d’Avray said. “There was a feeling of a sense of achievement in the dressing rooms, they were superb goals and the players feel really good about it.”

“We’re in with a chance but we go to Parramatta next week as underdogs. We’ll go there and give it our best shot, but, because we’ve lost three times to them this year, (we’ll start) as genuine underdogs”.

“Their experience got them over the line,” Kosmina said.

Kosmina also revealed that Kemp, Richie Alagich, Kristian Rees and Mimi Saric (who stayed at the hotel) each suffered a bout of gastro-virus, but said arriving yesterday and not Friday was beneficial.

“Kemp had a blinder for us against South Melbourne after being out for two months. Today I hoped he would show the same sparkle, but he was sick – along with other guys – and came over yesterday…(Because of this) we lost a bit of edge over the last few days,” Kosmina said.

Preliminary Final

PERTH GLORY 5 (B Despotovski 10′, 81′, D Mori 51′, 69′, N Mrdja 88′)

ADELAIDE UNITED 0

Cautions: R Aloisi (AU) 21′, C Veart (AU) 62′, D Mori (PG) 74′

Venue: Subiaco Oval

Referee: Eddie Lennie

Crowd: 17,524

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