Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way! O what fun it is to ride with Fornaroli leading the way

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Look over there! It’s the Ghost of Christmas Past! He’s pointing to a happier time, when the festive season was full of goodwill and cheer, and the only thing that died hard was at the hands of Bruce Willis. 

But here we have the Ghost of Christmas Present shaking his head and watching ruefully as he assesses the damage: 8 goals allowed but very unevenly distributed, and 11 men living through a Nightmare, four days before Christmas. 

Let’s start with the positives: the Newcastle away kit is lovely. I’d wear it. The sky appears to be blue and not hamstrung by smoke and ash. The Christmas holidays have started for a lot of people. And, it’s an excellent day to be a Perth fan at a football game. 

Newcastle’s Jason Hoffman thinks he’s in for the first goal at the 10 minute mark and he is… in front of the defender! Hoffman more like Hoffside. A few minutes later Perth’s Diego Castro takes a free kick that sails right past Glen Moss’ desperate, lunging, outstretched left hand. That’s goal one. 1-0.

Goal two, though, that’s a cracker. First, Ugarkovic ends up on the ground care of Bruno Fornaroli. Then, Newcastle’s Dimi Petratos takes the resulting free kick. He loops it kind of to the right of goal, where Lachy Jackson heads it backward to Matty Millar, who heads it on to Nikolai Topor-Stanley, who heads it into the net! It’s a team goal! Everyone put their heads together! It’s a Christmas miracle! 1-1. 

Onto goal three. Newcastle’s Kantarovski is overexuberant in his defending, taking out Perth’s Meredith in the area, and getting a spot kick awarded against his team. Neil Kilkenny takes it, Glen Moss dives one way, but Kilkenny kicks it to the other and never the twain do meet. 2-1.

Goal four comes a minute after half time. An attacking fumble by Newcastle sends the ball goalward for Perth and finds Glen Moss well out of position. Newcastle scramble to push it away and though Moss finds his way back to cover, the ball makes its way to Chianese in the meantime, who floors it into goal, a superb left-footed strike. 3-1.

3-1 can be hard to come back from, but Newcastle is cool under pressure. Goal five comes from a one-two with Ugarkovic and Petratos with Petratos beating Liam Reddy, cool as you like. 3-2.

Goal six is underwhelming. Castro cuts the ball square to Bruno Fornaroli who rolls it slow-motion past Glen Moss. 4-2.

The game’s taken on the energy of when your all-age park side is having a hit out against the Div One Under 20s who train at the same time as you, and they’re scoring all the goals and you’re walking in defense because you’ve had a good time but now you’re ready to go home. 

Goal seven comes from Bruno Fornaroli, the ace with the brace. It’s a long range strike from the edge of the area. At this point you feel for Glen Moss. There’s no way he saw his day panning out like this. 5-2.

Goal eight comes and – ok, we get it Perth, you’ve found your shooting boots again. Castro’s goal is almost a carbon copy of Bruno Fornaroli’s second one. 

There are still seven minutes and injury time to go. A close up of Newcastle coach Ernie Merrick shows him watching his life flash before his eyes. 

A potential goal nine is disallowed by the Ebenezer Scrooge that is VAR. The ball glances across the shoulder/upper arm of Chianese en route to Meredith, who thinks he’s in for his first goal for Perth with a sliding kick into goal.

Chris Ikonomidis, who’s been kept on the bench for an apparent form issue, is subbed on for Diego Castro in the 87th minute. There are four minutes of injury time added and no more goals despite Fornaroli trying his hardest for a personal third. 

Was a team ever so happy to hear a final whistle blow? 

Newcastle’s problem seems to have been that they were expecting Perth Glory to play like Perth Glory have been playing this year. But Perth shocked everyone and played like they did last year. 

Fun fact: the next time these two teams meet is February 29, a leap year, when anything can happen. Anyway, here’s a message from Christmas Future: “Newcastle will be back next year… with a vengeance.”  

By Kelly Simpson

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