Gold Coast down Glory in classic

Gold Coast United have maintained their stranglehold of top position on the National Youth League table, as they came back twice from three goals down to record a simply remarkable 6-4 win over Perth Glory at Southport Tigers on Sunday afternoon.

Gold Coast United have maintained their stranglehold of top position on the National Youth League table, as they came back twice from three goals down to record a simply remarkable 6-4 win over Perth Glory at Southport Tigers on Sunday afternoon.

In the first meeting between the two sides since last season's NYL Grand Final, United were again triumphant but had to do it the hard way after a 15-minute triple salvo from the Glory in the first half had the hosts staring down the barrel of opening the New Year in disappointing fashion.

Gold Coast starlet Ben Halloran pegged one back just before the main break but when Branko Jelic struck his third goal just 10 minutes into the second half, all appeared lost for Mike Mulvey's men.

But Halloran fired twice more to complete a hat-trick of his own, Bobby Russell scored a spectacular individual effort and two penalties won by Chris Harold somehow brought United back from the dead and sealed an unbelievable victory.

The win takes United's tally to 25 points, six more than closest rivals the AIS, who will host Gold Coast next Saturday afternoon in a blockbuster first-versus-second matchup, which could allow United the opportunity to further extend their lead.

But on a hot and humid day on the Gold Coast, it was the hosts who dominated the opening minutes of the match as they controlled possession and created a number of chances that should have seen them go ahead well before the Glory opened the scoring.

First, Halloran forced Perth gloveman Francis Soale into a fantastic save from the edge of the penalty area, before a header from strapping defender Zac Anderson had to be cleared on the line to keep the scores locked away.

But the West Australians made the hosts pay for their inefficiency as three quick fire goals, largely against the run of play, gave them a sudden 3-0 lead.

In the 24th minute, Gold Coast were caught on the break as the ball was played into the path of Jelic, who finished nicely past United keeper Tim Anderson to nudge his side ahead.

Eight minutes later, a Glory corner resulted in a goalmouth scramble and Jelic was there again to get a boot onto the ball for his second.

Just as United began to come to terms with the sudden deficit, Perth striker Adam Taggart found himself one-on-one with Anderson and beat him for pace to propel the visitors to a 3-0 lead in the 37th minute.

Gold Coast managed to reduce it by one just minutes before half time, as Halloran made the most of a scrap in the penalty area to fire home his third goal of the season in the 41st minute - but United Youth coach Mike Mulvey still had plenty to think about going into the main break.

When Jelic slotted his third goal past Anderson to give the Glory a 4-1 lead in the 50th minute, it seemed an unassailable advantage - to all but the defending NYL champions.

They continued to fight and in the 62nd minute, substitute Russell gave United a lifeline after weaving in from the right hand side, beating a number of Glory defenders and tucking away a goal from a tight angle that restored his side's belief.

From there, Halloran scored twice in two minutes from near-identical positions from the edge of the box - the second, a stunning 20-metre rocket in the 68th minute - to dramatically even the scores with 20 minutes left on the clock.

But with all the momentum, Gold Coast went ahead and confirmed the win through two penalty kicks both earned by pacy striker Harold.

The first was converted by captain Steven Lustica but the second was reserved for Harold himself, as he smashed his spot kick into the back of the net for the tenth goal of an incredible afternoon and the exclamation point to a game that will last long in the memories of both United and Glory, the latter of whom will be wondering how on earth they let two three-goal leads slip away.