Late Maclaren magic denies Victory in Perth

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Jamie Maclaren again played the role of super sub for Perth Glory who battled back from 3-1 down to earn a point at home to Melbourne Victory on Sunday night.

The 21-year-old, whose brace from the bench gave Glory a 2-1 win over the Newcastle Jets back in November, latched on to a pass down the right flank to finish superbly across Victory goalkeeper Nathan Coe into the bottom left corner.

The goal sent most of the season high 12,271 crowd into raptures, and a draw preserves the West Australians’ four point lead at the top of the table.

“I’m going to have to start looking up the dictionary for some better words, I keep using ‘character’ and ‘blue collar’,” said Kenny Lowe of his players.

“In any walk of life you’ve got a little bit of adversity and it’s how you deal with that.

“You don’t look at people when everything’s plain sailing, you don’t look at people when you’re at the top of the game or whatever, you look at people when they’ve a little of pain and I’ll tell you what, our lads tick every single box, every single time.”

Glory lost youngster Daniel De Silva to illness before kick off, and he was replaced in the starting eleven by Ruben Zadkovich.

The first goal arrived on 18 minutes when neat build up play saw the impressive Fahid Ben Khalfallah link up well with Gui Finkler before placing a shot past Danny Vukovic.

Glory didn’t have to wait long for an equaliser though, just four minutes in fact, and were awarded a penalty when Victory goalkeeper Nathan Coe took out Chris Harold in the penalty area.

Andy Keogh stepped up and calmly rolled the ball into the bottom left corner for his ninth league goal of the campaign.

Victory were ahead again by half time though, with Besart Berisha punishing a rare error from Josh Risdon to score.

Victory looked certain to claim all three points in what was a fiery contest as they stretched their lead when Kosta Barbarouses capitalised on another defensive lapse from the hosts.

Rostyn Griffiths reduced Glory’s arrears with 11 minutes remaining, before Maclaren stole the headlines with his dramatic 89th minute leveller.

“We embrace what we are, we understand what we are,” said Lowe when asked about his team’s mentality and resolve.

“We know that even when we’re down we’re not down, only the scoreboard tells us we’re down.”

Recent signing Dragan Paljic was thrown in at the deep end in the first half when Harold was forced off with a potential ankle ligament injury, and the coach was happy for his new winger to get a run out.

“I said ‘play in the shade’, he’s a left footer but I said ‘go on the right wing and get in the shade’,” chuckled Lowe.

“He did great. Technically a very good player, nice footballer, linked in well for us. He’ll be a good signing.”

Victory boss Kevin Muscat expressed his disappointment at his side’s failure to win the game from the position that they found themselves in.

“I thought the performance was pretty good, just little lapses of concentration if you like,” he said.

“And to concede the way we did…to score three goals away from home, you should really be winning the game of football.

“I thought we were the better team, by far the better team tonight, trying to play football, getting the ball down, [we] scored some very good goals.”

Victory’s star man Ben Khalfallah is out of contract at the end of the season and reportedly wants to extend his stay at the club, but Muscat gave little away when asked about the Tunisian international’s future.

“In the near future we’ll get back to the hotel, he’ll have dinner with us, we’ll do recovery, he’ll get on the flight with us tomorrow, fly back to Melbourne, we’ll do some more recovery, and he’ll train with the team throughout the week,” he said.

Both sides now have a two week break before the A-League resumes a full fixture programme after the Asian Cup.

Perth Glory starting XI: 1. Daniel VUKOVIC, 5. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 6. Dino DJULBIC, 8. Ruben ZADKOVICH, 9. Andrew KEOGH, 10. Nebojsa MARINKOVIC, 11. Richard GARCIA, 14. Chris HAROLD, 19. Joshua RISDON, 21. Scott Jamieson, 23. Michael THWAITE.

Perth Glory substitutes: 3. Brandon O’NEILL, 15. Jamie MACLAREN, 27. Dragan PALJIC, 30. Jordan THURTELL.

Melbourne Victory starting XI: 1. Nathan COE, 2. Jason GERIA, 4. Nicholas ANSELL, 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 7. Gui FINKLER, 8. Besart BERISHA, 9. Kosta BARBAROUSES, 14. Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH, 15. Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 21. Carl VALERI, 23. Adrian LEIJER.

Melbourne Victory substitutes: 11. Connor PAIN, 16. Rashid MAHAZI, 18. Dylan MURNANE, 20. Lawrence THOMAS, 22. Jesse MAKAROUNAS.

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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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