Perth Glory Youth had to come claw its way back from two goals down to earn a hard fought 2-2 draw with Melbourne City at Ashfield Sports Club at the weekend.
The visitors looked on course to take all three points in the top of the table clash, after goals to Wade Dekker and Baki Efe, gave them a perfect start.
But a stunning goal from Borbor Sam in the final minutes of the first half lifted John Gibson’s side, and were level four minutes into the second half when Slobodan Vulin headed home.
Both sides had chances to win it, but Glory had to hang on with 10 men, to secure a point, after Mitch Oxborrow was sent off with 11 minutes remaining.
Glory coach John Gibson said his chargers responded well after an indifferent first half to share the spoils.
“First half they (Melbourne City) out enthused us on something we pride ourselves on, being, work rate and attitude"he said.
“But credit to this group, we had a good chat at the break, and second half we turned up and deservedly levelled early, and could have taken all three points.”
Glory's back four were under great pressure late in the game and skipper Jake Collard and Nathan Costello, in the centre of defence were outstanding, and Costello said the speech from the coach at the interval got the lads revved up.
“Gibbo really pumped us up in the huddle on the pitch after halftime and we scored early and could have won it,” he said.
“We took the game to them in the second half, and cut out our mistakes, and the point still keeps us in the title race.”
The top of the table clash didn’t disappoint and it opened at a frantic pace, and the visitors were ahead on 18 minutes.
Mitch Oxborrow was disposed on the left of the penalty area by Anthony Rizk, who played in Dekker, and his lob went into the net.
That wasn’t in the Glory script, and the young guns went in search for the equaliser. Sam made space down the right eight minutes later, and his cross was heading to Joe Knowles at the back post, but a superb last ditch tackle from Matthew Millar saved the day for City.
But on the half hour City doubled their advantage. Philip Petreski’s corner picked out the unmarked Baki Efe, who had only been on the pitch for three minutes, and he headed home from close-range.
City were well on top forcing Glory keeper Jordan Thurtell to stand tall between the posts. He did well to save a shot by Stefan Zinni, and moments later Hernan Espindola’s shot crashed off the crossbar and away to safety.
In the shadows of the half time break, Glory found a life line. Sam was sent racing down the left, and cut inside his marker and finished clinically past Marko Stevanja from eight-yards.
Whatever Gibson said at the break worked and Glory was level four minutes in. Riley Woodcock broke down the left and crossed to the back post to Oxborrow, who sent the ball back into the penalty area, and Vulin headed home powerfully from six-yards. The home side was now well on top and Nicholas Symeoy had to be alert to clear Cameron Edwards’ shot off the line on the hour.
But City settled and had a strong penalty claim turned down ten minutes later. The lively Espindola burst into the area and fell under the challenge of Costello, but referee Nico Hoyle waved away their protests.
The game took another twist on 79 minutes when Oxborrow was sent off after receiving a second yellow card and City went in for the kill. Espindola was sent clear again on 82 minutes, but Costello got back superbly to block his shot, while City skipper Petreski's curling free kick on the edge of the penalty area whistled past the post.
However after 90 minutes the points were shared, and the title race will go down to the wire, with only two games remaining.
Glory is away to fourth placed Adelaide United next Sunday, while Melbourne City host fifth placed Central Coast Mariners.
Foxtel National Youth League
Perth Glory 2 (Sam 45’, Vulin 49’)
Melbourne City 2 (Dekker18’, Efe 30’)
Venue: Ashfield Sports Club
Referee: Nico Hoyle
Assistants: Josh Nixon and Zach Picciacco
Fourth Official: Matthew Southern
Perth Glory Youth: GK Jordan THURTELL, 2 Ali GHOLAMI (13 Matthew DAVIES 46’), 3 Jacob COLLARD (C), 4 Nathan COSTELLO, 5 Riley WOODCOCK, 6 Mitchell OXBORROW, 7 Borbor SAM, 8 Harry O’BRIEN, 9 Joe KNOWLES, 10 Cameron EDWARDS, 11 Slobodan VULIN (12 Gian ALBANO 77’)
Subs not used: RGK Ryan BARKER, 14 Dejan SPASESKI
Yellow Cards: Oxborrow 22’, 79’, Costello 90’
Melbourne City Youth: GK Marko STEVANJA, 2 Tyler JAMES, 3 Tomislav FADLEVIC (4 Baki EFE 27’), 5 Nicholas SYMEOY, 6 Philip PETRESKI (C), 7 Hernan ESPINDOLA, 9 Wade DEKKER, 10 Luka PRELEVIC (12 Leo ATHANASIOU 59’), 11 Anthony RIZK (8 Andrija KECOJEVIC 79’), 14 Matthew MILLAR, 15 Stefan ZINNI
Subs not used: RGK Lajos OLIVIERA
Yellow Cards: Espindola 48’, Dekker 68’, Zinni 90’, Millar 90+1’