Though still rooted to the bottom of the table, Perth Glory looked anything but easy beats following their 1-0 victory over the Western Sydney Wanderers at Macedonia Park.
Recording just their win of the season, it was a different-looking Perth Glory outfit that took on the Wanderers. Due to a combination of a short turnaround between fixtures coming up and injuries, coach Ruben Zadkovich made five changes to the side that went down to Adelaide last week.
Ryan Williams and Mark Beevers were out due to injury meanwhile Liam Reddy was replaced by youngster Cameroon Cook in goal and Jacob Dowse and Luke Ivanovic started over Zach Duncan and David Williams respectively.
Though the inexperienced and youthful-looking Glory proved to be up for the challenge with the side braving out the victory in swirly conditions.
20-year-old Keegan Jelacic was one who stepped up, just before the hour mark to put his side ahead with his first A-Leagues career goal and helping keep his side’s home record intact with the Glory yet to lose at Macedonia Park this season, going undefeated in their three home ties this season.
Speaking post-game on how his side performed in the absence of experienced players, Zadkovich was full of praise for his side, saying internally there’s a big belief in what the side can achieve.
“[I am] extremely proud, I think inside our four walls [there] is a real big belief and we know where we are and we know some of the points that we should have picked up in other games where we actually played well and didn’t take those chances,” Zadkovich said.
“We weren’t good enough in those moments but I thought tonight we were and [I’m] extremely proud of the group, there’s a real togetherness inside that dressing room and they deserve it tonight.
“For long periods of the match, I thought we were the better team, I think obviously the wind plays a part, it’s a big help having it behind you.”
Having been unused subs against Adelaide a week prior, Zadkovich started Luke Bodnar and Johnny Koutroumbis, with the duo putting in solid showings. The Glory coach was complimentary of the duos’ performances saying the two played their role and can offer more going forward.
“You know one man’s loss is another man’s gain, and in our squad, we’ve got some guys that have been working really hard and getting themselves to fitness,” he said.
“Bods [Luke Bodnar] I thought his performance was very good, he can still be a lot better if I’m honest without having a go at him for a few things just because I know how good he can be.
“But he’s been working hard and in the end that hard work pays dividends come the moment.
“I thought Johnny Koutroumbis did really well, but I must stress it was just a good collective effort, I thought we did things together and we showed a real commitment to play the way we play and move the ball the way we want to move it.”
In his first appearance of the season, keeper Cameron Cook kept a clean sheet with the youngster getting the nod over Liam Reddy with Zadkovich opting to rotate his squad as they’re set to face the Roar in four days’ time.
Speaking on Cook’s performance, Zadkovich admitted though Cook was initially brought in to freshen the squad, it’ll be hard to drop him for the next game due to his performance between the sticks.
“It’ll be hard to move him (Cameron Cook) [to the bench] just on the fact that it’s a clean sheet, the reason for the change was more around the four-day turnaround [and] obviously Rocket’s [Liam Reddy’s] age,” he said.
“I think not many people realise he [Cook] was he was out for about seven or eight weeks at the start of this season so he’s taken a while to get back to fitness and to be honest, he hasn’t played a game in a long time so we’ve had to be very patient with him and make sure we got him right before we throw him in the deep end.
“I thought tonight his performance was fantastic, but we’ll look how they [both] recover and look at how everyone comes through the match and then pick what we think will beat Brisbane.”
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Having looked at a more dangerous side in their home state than on the road, the Glory have made Macedonia Park a fortress this season, adapting well to the swirly windy conditions. Though Zadkovich said it’s more the comfort of playing in their home city than adapting to the conditions which have played a role in going undefeated at home thus far.
“I think it’s more a case that we’re at home and we’re comfortable and we haven’t travelled and for us right now the margins are quite small,” he said.
“We’re a team that’s in its infancy really and we didn’t have many competitive games in pre-season even though it was a long preseason.
“I’ve always been very clear in saying that we’ve got a lot of improvement in this [team] and I still believe that it’ll still take a couple more windows for us to get back to where we want to get to, it’ll still take a few more additions.
“But the ones that we do have and the ones that we’ve brought in, they’re really buying in and they’re really working hard so I think it’s more a case of we’re at home we find some sort of comfort.”
Tunisian Salim Khelifi picked up an injury and was the only low coming out of the game for Perth after being subbed out of the game inside the final 15 minutes of play.
Speaking on the injury Zadkovich believes the injury was not major and criticised the fixturing believing their calendar is a major factor in his players missing games.
“I haven’t spoken to the physio yet but I think it was just a little bit of groin pain. So it’s never a positive, obviously [I] sound like a bit of a broken record but the season has been weird,” he said.
“We’ve had you know seven out of our 10 games away from home a week apart and then we have five weeks or six weeks or whatever it was without a game and then all of a sudden we’re at home and we play four games in 16 days crammed together.
“So that four-day turnaround along with travel it’s not ideal, it’s not very professional if I’m [being] honest given the amount of miles we travel, so I think the boys have done really well to get the points tonight with what we had out there.”
With rumours during the week of Ryan Williams and Mark Beevers having a fallout with Zadkovich during the week, the Glory coach was quick to dispel the rumours saying both were left out due to injuries.
“I’ve got asked that on the pitch post-match and it’s the first I’ve heard of it, certainly no training bust-ups. We didn’t train so that’s actually quite funny because all we’ve done is really recover and then have a separate group running,” he said.
“Inside our four walls, we’ve got a fantastic group of players, a fantastic group of people, staff, and players that have been working really hard without getting the rewards that we probably should have in some games.
“I’m not sure where that external noise comes from but you know like most things when you’re down the bottom of the ladder, the wolves will come out and people will talk.
“But we’re not really interested in rumours or hearsay. What we are interested in is sticking very clear to the long-term plan for this club.”
He’d further comment by saying that while they didn’t play, the duo of Williams and Beevers were in the rooms after the game and complimented how they’ve rallied around the squad since their arrival in the preseason.
“They were leading the team song there and having the right old chuckle, but like I said when you’re down the bottom people will try and create conflict outside of our four walls,” he said.
“Beaves didn’t play with a stiff back and Ryan had a sore groin and they both tried to train here at Maco Park the day before the game and didn’t get through their fitness tests.
“Both fantastic players [and] fantastic people who were in there getting their arm around all those young ones and hugging players and stuff so like I say now inside our four walls we’ve got a fantastic group and we’re just going to continue building.”
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