Tony Popovic hailed his wing-backs and the many players he has on hand capable of playing the role after Perth Glory’s dominant win over Brisbane Roar on Saturday night.

It was business as usual up front for Glory with Andy Keogh and Diego Castro scoring three goals between each other, but it was the threat of Glory’s wing-backs marauding forward and overloading the defence which caused Brisbane headaches all night long.

It’s a facet of Glory’s play which is vital to Popovic’s system, and he couldn’t have been happier with the output of his not-so-secret weapons after the game.

“I think the way we play, they’re an important part of our system,” Popovic said.

“Today it really showed up even more in the attacking sense because we had control of the game.

“It gave us an opportunity maybe more than some other games where they could get forward and the key part is that we got goals, we got an outcome in the end.”

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Glory’s first choice wing-backs – Jason Davidson and Ivan Franjic – wreaked havoc in the early stages of the game.

Franjic should have opened the scoring for Glory when his volley from inside the box sliced just wide of the post, but Davidson had no such trouble hitting the target, scoring his second goal of the season to put Glory in the lead.

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Then a first half injury to Franjic caused Popovic to take an early dip into his bench.

He pulled out Scott Neville, and with his first touch deep in Glory’s attack Neville assisted Glory’s second goal with an inch-perfect cross which landed directly on Andy Keogh’s head for him to bury in the net.

As the crowd rose to its feet Neville sprinted to embrace Popovic on the sideline, a sign of the mental strength of a substitute ready to take his chance when the moment arose.

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“That was a great moment for us,” Popovic said.

“I was happy for him, I was really pleased for him.

“I understand and respect the fact that players that aren’t starting really want to be out there.

“It’s not easy for some of the players when they’re not getting a lot of minutes to come on and get into the speed of the game very quickly.

“I’m really pleased for players that come into the game and make an impact, he deserves some praise for that.”

Popovic played Davidson, Franjic, Neville and Joel Chianese through the two wing-back positions over the 90 minutes.

Usually occupying one of Glory’s front three attacking positions Chianese was thrust into the wing-back role late in the game, with Neville reverting to centre-back.

Chianese had chances to score late in the game and Neville helped see out Glory’s fourth clean sheet in five games, showing Popovic’s defensive unit were flexible, capable of adapting and ready to play any role to help the team.

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“Jason [Davidson] scoring, Scotty [Neville] setting up the goal, Ivan [Franjic] was very good when before he had to go off unfortunately and Joel [Chianese] I thought as a wingback was excellent, and almost scored,” Popovic said.

“I think that’s something we worked on in preseason to give everyone a taste of the different positions, to see for us as a coaching staff to see what the players were capable of, and whether they could learn a different position.

“We’re very happy players can slot in and do a very good job.”

Feature image credit: Darren Speedie, Vision Inspired Photography

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Football nut, student journalist and firm believer that Berisha dived in the 2012 A-League Grand Final. Covering Perth Glory for the 2018/19 season.