Kilkenny the puppet master in marvellous Glory show

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Behind Glory’s red-hot strike force is Neil Kilkenny, the puppet master pulling the strings, directing play and making his teammates shine on centre stage.

Kilkenny’s performances have not gone unnoticed by Tony Popovic, a coach full of praise for his midfielder after Glory’s dramatic 3-2 victory over Central Coast Mariners on Sunday afternoon.

“He was excellent today,” Popovic said.

Kilkenny finished the game with two and a half assists, the half belonging to the delightful dink he played to Joel Chianese which left the Mariners defence stranded, allowing Chianese an easy pass to Chris Ikonomidis to finish off the move.

Popovic’s praise for Kilkenny, however, stemmed beyond his attacking contribution; it was his leadership alongside 21-year-old Brandon Wilson, making his first start of the season, that the Glory boss appreciated most.

“Neil took real responsibility in helping young Brandon Wilson and Jake Brimmer when he came on, to be a real leader in midfield,” Popovic said.

“I’m sure all of our players and young midfielders will learn from that and also appreciate the way he helped them on the field today.”

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Kilkenny has begun this season in terrific form, turning Glory’s best creator in the absence of Diego Castro.

He leads the Glory in goal assists, chances created, passes and crosses so far this season.

And it was two Kilkenny crosses which lead to goals to Shane Lowry and Ikonomidis against the Mariners, the latter being the winner deep into stoppage time.

“It was his ball at the end, left foot, edge of the box, a good bit of skill and he played in that way throughout the whole match,” Popovic said.

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“The euphoria is very high when you win a game so late, basically the last kick of the game, and you do it at home in front of your fans.

“It was a great win for us.”

Kilkenny’s performance for his side on Sunday will undoubtedly be lost amongst the fanfare created by the late Ikonomidis winner but his assists, play-making ability and leadership throughout the game were no less vital to the win than the goals scored by his teammates.

Those names on the score sheet are merely the names of Kilkenny’s puppets and so far this season he’s been making them sing.

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Matthew Comito
Matthew Comito
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.

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