The A-League and FFA have yet another officiating and video assistant referee fiasco to answer for after Perth Glory’s 3-1 Friday night win over Melbourne City was blemished by poor first half decisions.

Even worse for City is that the result is their third loss in four games and they only have one point from the last month of football – a meeting against league leaders Newcastle awaits next week at McDonald Jones Stadium.

The AAMI Park crowd of 6,963 were incensed at referee Daniel Elder and VAR Craig Zetter’s perplexing and delayed decisions to expel City defender Osama Malik from the game for a tackle on Perth forward Jacob Italiano in the penalty area in the 39th minute where a studs-up challenge raked the youngster’s thigh.

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It took Elder and Zetter nearly three minutes after the event to finally issue Malik a red card and a further two minutes for the resulting penalty to be taken; Xavi Torres’ goal put Perth 2-1 ahead.

While there probably isn’t a debate as to whether it was a foul or not (the red card can be argued), it was the four minute long hindrance which most are criticising.

To rub salt into Melbourne wounds, a clear penalty decision was overlooked by both the referee and VAR five minutes later when defender Bart Schenkeveld was grabbed over the shoulder and tackled to ground by Shane Lowry in the box.

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Perth Glory exposed City twice on the counter attack. First when Marcin Budzinki’s misplaced pass was pounced upon by Brandon Wilson to release Italiano up the field and set up Andy Keogh and Mitch Nichols; the latter’s shot from outside the box took a heavy deflection to fool Eugene Galekovic in the 12th minute opener.

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A stunning free-kick from Ross McCormack in the 30th minute and the Torres penalty followed before half-time, and the Glory sealed the game late in the game when substitute Mitch Mallia stripped Nick Fitzgerald of the ball and slid the ball beyond Galekovic in an open one-on-one.

Melbourne City coach Warren Joyce tinkered with his team line-up, opting to one of either Bruce Kamau or Nick Fitzgerald as wing-backs to add an extra number on attack, Luke Brattan was played wide and Budzinski up front alongside McCormack.

The result saw City create more chances but also find themselves congested in the final third, misplacing passes in attempts of articulate build-up play and numerous offsides.

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Credit must be given to Perth who began brightly and forced themselves on the ball with solid midfield work through Torres and Brandon Wilson, encumbering City’s once-domineering midfield presence and playing the game as equals to their hosts.

Glory captain Andy Keogh was substituted off after 30 minutes after struggling with an injury in the first half; other Perth players continually went to ground needing medical attention, giving the City crowd another reason to become irate.

Melbourne’s next challenge against Newcastle will provide coach Joyce with his next almighty challenge, while the win puts Perth into fourth and a game behind their AAMI Park opponents.

Melbourne City 1 (McCormack 31′)
Perth Glory 3 (Nichols 12′, Torres pen 43′, Mallia 83′)

AAMI Park, Melbourne (Crowd: 6,963)

Referee: Daniel ELDER
Assistant Referees: Luke BRENNAN & Daniel ILIEVSKI
Fourth Official: Jack MORGAN
VAR: Craig ZETTER

Melbourne City
18. GALEKOVIC Eugene (GK), 3.JAMIESON Scott, 5. SCHENKEVELD Bart, 6. MALIK Osama, 7. FITZGERALD Nick, 11. KAMAU Bruce (2. MUSCAT Manny 50′), 13. MAUK Stefan (8. KILKENNY Neil 78′), 22. JAKOBSEN Michael (c), 26. BRATTAN Luke, 27. BUDZINSKI Marcin, 44. McCORMACK Ross (17. CAHILL Tim 69′)

Unused substitutes: 1. BOUZANIS Dean (GK), 25. LA ROCCA Iacopo

Perth Glory
33. REDDY Liam (GK), 2. GRANT Alex, 4. LOWRY Shane, 6. NICHOLS Mitch (20. BRIMMER Jake 86′), 8. TORRES Xavier, 9. KEOGH Andy (c) (19. KNOWLES Joe 30′), 14. HAROLD Chris (11. MALLIA Mitchell 67′), 15. WILSON Brandon, 16. MILLS Joseph, 26. ITALIANO Jacob, 29. WALKER Jeremy

Unused substitutes: 13. FEELY Nick (GK), 5. POSCOLIERO Jacob

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Football and Aussie rules commentator, writer and radio host/producer from Melbourne.