Perth Glory have secured their first ever premiers plate in the A League after a tight 1-0 win against Newcastle Jets at HBF Park on Sunday night.
Ivan Franjic was the man whose name went up in lights, scoring the only goal of the game in which Glory were forced to overcome a determined Jets outfit who saw a goal correctly chalked off by the VAR for offside.
Despite being goalless, the first half was an entertaining end to end affair. Perth had possession for most of the half but the Jets’ lightning-fast counter-attacks ensured they too were able to create chances, with both sides rattling the crossbar.
Roy O’Donovan was the first after he spotted Liam Reddy off his line in the 13th minute. He perfectly but his effort was just millimetres too high and slammed into the crossbar. Andy Keogh had Perth’s best chance in the 39th minute when his strike also crashed into the crossbar after a well placed Joel Chianese cross.
It took until the second half but Perth finally seized control of the game and created opportunity after opportunity. A tense Glory crowd twice saw goals ruled out for offside but the breakthrough finally came in the 65th minute.
Diego Castro played a well weighted ball in behind for Ivan Franjic who finally was able to find the back of the net, sliding the ball beneath Glenn Moss who was otherwise faultless.
It was a special moment for Franjic with this also being his 100th A-League win.
Perth win maiden A-League silverware
In his first season as Glory manager, Tony Popovic has done what no other coach could do and bring some A-League silverware to Western Australia.
Sunday’s win clinches a well deserved premiers plate for Glory. They have been the best team all season and it showed in their triumph over Newcastle, now eight points ahead of second-placed Sydney FC.
Perth have suffered just two losses over the course of the season and are sitting on 55 points with two games left of the regular season.
Jets’ season officially over
It has been a disappointing year for Newcastle and with Sunday’s loss, their hopes of finals are now gone. While it has been unlikely for months, the nature of a six-team finals series means that despite a massive drop-off from last year, they were still alive for an unlikely finals berth.
The drop-off can be put down to a mixture of injuries and poor form, with this season not going to plan for Ernie Merrick’s men. It took until Round 5 for the Jets to get their first win of the season, a poor start that, ultimately, was never recovered from.
There is still plenty of quality in the Newcastle outfit. While this season was disappointing, all is not lost and one expects the Jets to climb the ladder next season.
Glory focus now shifts to the double
While there will be plenty of celebrations after winning the premiership, Popovic will be shifting his team’s focus to securing the double when finals start in just a few weeks’ time.
Perth will travel to Sydney to take on the Sky Blues next week before hosting Wellington Phoenix in the final game of the season.
Popovic may opt to rest some of his stars in these fixtures to ensure his team is fresh ahead of finals.