Perth Glory’s rugged eight-game, A-League road trip, opened in a 1-0 defeat to Western United at AAMI Park on Friday night.
Both side had few chances in an arm wrestle, poor finishing letting them down, but United substitute Dylan Wenzel-Halls split the sides with a late goal despite Glory appeals for the ball crossing the line before he shot home.
Glory coach Richard Garcia made four changes from the side that drew 1-1 at HBF Park with Adelaide United in the opening game, leaving star striker Daniel Sturridge out of the game day squad.
Sturridge was not carrying an injury and his absence was part of Glory’s long plan to bring the former England and Liverpool goal scorer up to full fitness before releasing him.
Both Spanish import Adrian Sardinero and Aaron Calver made their A-League starting debuts with Glory relying heavily on youth.
The entire bench of seven reserves and two starters, Luke Bodnar and Daniel Stynes, were all under-21 players.
Glory matchday captain Bruno Fornaroli showed some fine touches but wasted a couple of golden chances.
Opportunities were hard to come by in the first period with Glory content to play the ball out of their back third in the early stages.
They were quick to break when space opened, relying heavily on forward runs of Stynes.
United gave Glory an early scare, forcing them to scramble in the box from a free-kick after Aaron Calver picked up a yellow card.
Kosuke Ote and Jack Clisby also went into the referee’s book before the break.
At the other end a Clisby shot was deflected on its way to goal and Antonee Burke-Gilroy skied an effort into the stand.
Alessandro Diamanti then produced an audacious effort from inside his own half that had Glory goalkeeper Brad Jones back-pedalling as he palmed the ball way.
United keeper Jamie Young was forced to pull off a rare save from Sardinero and Western’s Josh Risdon could not apply a finishing touch from close range.
Fornaroli had his best chance just before the break but pushed his shot across the face as the half ended goalless.
He had another great chance to open the second-half with Young saving well as opportunities finally began to appear.
Penalty appeals were turned down at both ends as the game began to simmer.
United then found themselves under pressure and Pacifique Niyongabire should have given Glory the lead from close range before Wenzel-Halls slotted home in the 78th minute.
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