New problem for Victory, Perth consolidate top spot

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Melbourne Victory have brought in the new year in the worst possible style, recording a first home loss of the season with a 2-1 loss to Perth Glory at Geelong’s Simonds Stadium on Friday night.

The win sees Perth consolidate their place on top of the A-League ladder as the cracks appear in Victory’s armour for the first time this campaign.

Noticeably off their game, Victory’s experiment of taking a game to Victoria’s largest regional centre seemingly back-fired as they produced arguably their worst display of the season in what was anticipated pre-game as the game of the year.

These sides headed into the game occupying first and second spots on the ladder respectively, but once the whistle has sounded to end the game, it was clear who held the claim of being the best in the league.

It was a clinical display by Glory who took their when handled to them and frustrated Victory with a professional defensive display.

The previously free scoring Victory before today had little trouble in breaking down teams with its front third the envy of its competitors.

For the first time all year, Victory came up against an impenetrable purple brick wall that could only be broken through via a penalty.

It was a massive moment for both sides in the context of their league campaigns. For the first time this year questions now surround the Victory while the Glory more than proved their they belong on top of the table thanks to the manner in which they got the win in Geelong.

It was a smash and grab job of the highest order for Perth in the first half who despite being starved of possession and Victory creating most of the chances, went into the break with a 2-0 advantage.

Perth took full advantage of their first chance on goal in the ninth minute when Andy Keogh got the better of Adrian Leijer in the air to get clean on goal.

Leijer miss-judged the flight of a long ball down the middle from Nebojsa Marinkovic down the middle, leaving Keogh one-on-one with Victory keeper Nathan Coe with only one likely outcome.

Victory struggled to make any wave of possession count, with numerous times Victory players guilty of playing one pass too many or holding onto the ball when a shot was the best option.

Kosta Barbarouses was the main culprit with two times in particular a shot was on when he elected to hold the trigger.

Such was Barbarouses’ display this evening, the crowd appeared to cheer him coming off in the 68th minute when he was replaced by Connor Pain.

Perth had a second just eight minutes after their first thanks largely to another defensive balls-up by the Victory.

Keeper Coe was to blame this time when he came well off his line to approach a Marinkovic pass that fell invitingly to Chris Harold who rolled the ball home on a tight angle into an empty net.

Victory were handled a lifeline in the form of a penalty in the 56th minute when Scott Jamieson grabbed too much of Gui Finkler’s arm in the penalty box, sending Besart Berisha to the spot which he duly dispatched.

Jamieson was lucky to stay on the field after that moment having escaped a receiving second yellow from his tangle with Finkler.

After that moment Perth were more than happy to shut up shop and absorb any pressure the Victory threw at them.

Luckily for the visitors there was very little in way of pressure to speak of as the Glory held on for a huge win on the road.

A season that started so brightly for Victory now has to potential to go off the rails. Tonight highlighted some serious frailties in the Victory’s game that requires urgent attention if they are to challenge the likes of Perth for the title.

The Asian Cup break couldn’t come at a better time for Victory who will back up on Tuesday away to Western Sydney Wanderers before the three-week lay-off.

Melbourne Victory starting XI: 1. Nathan COE (GK), 2. Jason GERIA, 4. Nick ANSELL, 6. Leigh BROXHAM (C), 7. Gui FINKLER, 8. Besart BERISHA, 9. Kosta BARBAROUSES, 10. Archie THOMSON, 21 Carl VALERI, 23, Adrian LEIJER, 24. Scott GALLOWAY

Melbourne Victory substitutes: 20. Lawrence THOMAS (GK), 11. Connor PAIN, 13. Andrew NABBOUT, 18. Dylan MURNANE, 22. Jesse MAKAROUNAS

Perth Glory starting XI: 1. Danny VUKOVIC(GK), 5. Rostyn GRIFFTHS, 6. Dino DJULBIC, 8. Ruben ZADKOVICH, 9. Andy KEOGH, 10. Nebojsa MARINKOVIC, 11. Richard GARCIA, 14. Chris HAROLD, 19. Josh RISDON, 21. Scott JAMIESON, 23. Michael THWAITE (C)

Perth Glory substitutes: 18. Jack DUNCAN(GK), 2. Jack CLISBY, 15. Jamie MACLAREN, 16 Sidnei SCIOLA, 22. Cameron EDWARDS

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