Two Popa’s, one Glory, no kits

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Round Two, Saturday 5pm and it was Western United’s first home A-League clash in Geelong. Could they continue the party at home and have back-to-back wins or will Popa’s Perth Glory rain on the newbie’s parade?

Disclaimer: As a diehard Vuck fan I know I should hate WU but to be completely honest I want a “proper” Melbourne/ Victorian based rivalry (sorry City fans) and City just don’t cut it. So if WU could actually come good I’ll be stoked. Have to feel for the Glory playing in a makeshift kit as their luggage got lost, how can you not love the A-League and its peak A-League things?!

The opening minutes had the visitors with a fair chunk of possession in Western United’s half, could the visitors maintain the pressure and find the back of the net or will WU hit them on the counter?

The 9th minute had Glory with a free-kick curling nicely into the box but WU cleared it without any problems. Two minutes later Connor Pain sent the ball towards the back of the Perth’s net but it trickled wide.  

The opening eighteen minutes have been an arm wrestle in the midfield, it was looking to be a case of who will blink first. Glory were awarded a free-kick on the far right in the 27th but it was sent wide and close to Kurto who collected it without any problems.

It was a beautiful Chianese cross into the box for Fornaroli but it was sent straight into the waiting arms of Kurto in the 32nd. Alex Grant saw a yellow card for his tackle on Alessandro Diamanti in the 37th at the halfway line but again, WU couldn’t maintain possession and make something of it.  Then it was Jertec’s turn to see a yellow for a crunch on Chris Ikonomidis in the 39th minute. 

Half time and it was a 0-0 deadlock. The first half felt a little lacklustre but with some solid attacking players for both sides, surely somebody will find the back of the net in the second. 

It was Panagiotis Kone who found the back of the net in the 49th minute with a beautiful hit in the top left corner!
1-0 for WU! 

There was a chance for WU to find their second in the 55th minute but the shot was blocked and then again in the 58th this time from Diamanti forcing Reddy to make a save.

Besart Berisha wanted to join in on the fun but his goal was disallowed thanks to the offside call in the 60th. Kim tried to find an equaliser for the Glory in the 67th but Kurto managed a save.

Alessandro Diamanti was tearing apart that midfield and yes, I was (still am) very annoyed knowing my club wanted to sign him three years ago but essentially was told “excuse me, not a big enough presence.” It is beautiful to see for the league but I am a little salty! 

We know Popa’s men have the quality to sneak in an equaliser so was it just a matter of time until the visitors draw level? Who else but mini Popa – Kristian Popovic with his first goal in the 76th and of course Papa Popa didn’t even crack a smile. Beautiful little header from the young man indeed! 

1-1!

Bruno Fornaroli looked to seize the lead for the Glory in the 80th but Kurto was ready and waiting, stretching to stop the ball. On the other side of the pitch it was Kone with a hit on goal but Reddy’s parry fell for Berisha who sent it sky high into the atmosphere in the 82nd. Would either side be able to find a second goal and steal the three points?

Dylan Pierias for Western United almost did in the 84th! The 19-year-old was one on one with Reddy but damn that cross bar!

The 90th saw Kone trying to slot the ball into the net but he pulled a “oh crap I panicked” lash and Reddy definitely dodged a bullet there! With the fourth official showing three minutes of stoppage time would WU get their first home win?

It wasn’t to be a fairy tale win for Western United and Mark Rudan’s men, thanks to the magic of mini Popa’s strike. The points are shared it was good to see the new boys on the block keep up with the Glory who we know have a quality side. 

By Jakie Manevski

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