Fear factor not an issue for Glory says Edwards

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Perth Glory will face Melbourne Victory on Friday as the Hyundai A-League finals series kicks off, and coach Alistair Edwards believes his team has nothing to fear.

A point at home to Adelaide United in front of a bumper crowd of 16,707 at nib Stadium last night was enough to clinch sixth spot at the expense of Sydney FC.

Edwards was asked after the game about his target for the rest of the season having set the expectation of playing finals football when he initially took the reins.

“The goal is to play as many games as possible this season,” he said.
“I thought that we could make the finals and we’ve beaten most of the teams in the top six or so.
“We don’t hold any fears, we respect them because there’s some very good teams and very well coached teams in this competition but we’re a very, very good team.”

 
The game against Victory will be a repeat of a fixture that took place in the penultimate round of the regular season as a late winner from Josh Risdon gave Glory a 3-2 win.

Both sides were without a number of key players that day due to international duty but Marco Rojas, Archie Thompson, Mark Milligan, Michael Thwaite and Shane Smeltz should all take to the field for their respective sides.

Kiwi star Smeltz is the only doubt at the moment following a boot to the face against New Caledonia which needed 15 stitches.

With Travis Dodd ruled out for up to a year follow an ACL injury and Chris Harold also absent through injury, Dean Heffernan led the line against Adelaide and didn’t look out of place.

Edwards revealed that it was Heffernan who put himself forward for the job having played some time up front in his NSL days.

“I was actually thinking about playing Heff on the left and playing Ryo [Nagai] in the middle but then I sat down and talked to him and he wanted to play as a number 9,” he said.

“He thought that the way that we play and with the structure we’ve got he could do a very, very good job.”

Despite sitting bottom of the ladder just weeks ago, Glory have been rejuvenated under Edwards, who was given the job permanently a fortnight ago after initially taking over from Ian Ferguson on a temporary basis.

“We’ve got a bit of momentum going forward, there’s a bit of a swagger about the way the boys are playing at the moment, they’re playing with a smile on their face so why not?” said Edwards of their chances of going all the way.

“We’re going to be out there giving it our best shot.”

With Liam Miller also due to return next week following a suspension, Edwards could find himself with a bit of a selection headache when he goes to pick his team, albeit a good one.

Saturday night’s goalscorer Adrian Zahra did enough to suggest that he could be in the mix for one of the wide berths, while the back four finally appears to be settled with Josh Risdon and Scott Jamieson lining up either side of Thwaite and Steve Pantelidis.

Victory’s attacking prowess is undoubted, with Thompson and Rojas supported by the likes of Conor Pain and Marcos Flores, but their defence has been weak all season and if Glory can exploit that we could again see plenty of goals in a meeting between the two sides.

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Neil Sherwin
Neil has covered the Perth Glory and the Hyundai A-League for five years and is one of Western Australia's most knowledgeable football journalists.

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