A-League Men: Perth Glory draw 1-1 with Sydney FC as finals dreams officially ended

Ben Smith
The Nightly
Rhyan Grant of Sydney and Giordano Colli of the Glory contest for the ball during the A-League Men round 12 match between Perth Glory and Sydney FC.
Rhyan Grant of Sydney and Giordano Colli of the Glory contest for the ball during the A-League Men round 12 match between Perth Glory and Sydney FC. Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images

The door has officially been shut on Perth Glory’s A-League Men’s previously-thin finals hopes after they were only able to draw 1-1 with a 10-man Sydney FC at HBF Park.

Perth had entered the game needing to win all five of their remaining matches, and then hope rivals fortuitously dropped points, to entertain the possibility of an unlikely top six berth.

Robert Mak’s penalty gave the Sky Blues the lead, but a careless foul by Jake Girdwood-Reich on the edge of his own box saw Sydney reduced to 10 men before the break.

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Teenage defender Kaelan Majekodunmi grabbed his second goal of the season to snatch an equaliser, but it was too little, too late to rescue Perth’s already flagging finals hopes.

The Glory sit 10th with four games to play, 12 points off the pace of Western Sydney Wanderers, but with five less wins than the sixth-placed team — the tiebreaker if points are split.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 03: Jarrod Carluccio and Adam Taggart of the Glory plead with Referee Alex King for the VAR during the A-League Men round 12 match between Perth Glory and Sydney FC at HBF Park, on April 03, 2024, in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
PERTH, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 03: Jarrod Carluccio and Adam Taggart of the Glory plead with Referee Alex King for the VAR during the A-League Men round 12 match between Perth Glory and Sydney FC at HBF Park, on April 03, 2024, in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images) Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images

Recalled Socceroo Adam Taggart wasted a glorious chance early when Darryl Lachman drove out of defence and slid a pass through for Joel Anasmo to cross, but the Perth skipper spooned the slightly over-hit cross over the bar.

Mak then duplicated the wastefulness up the other end when Jaiden Kucharski fed Rhyan Grant to tee him up, but the Slovakian bobbled his shot wide.

Kucharski then snatched at a chance he should have buried himself when Hayden Matthews’ curled pass evaded Lachman, before Sydney took the lead in the 25th minute.

A needlessly desperate lunge by Bruce Kamau caught Jordan Courtney-Perkins in the box and referee Joel King pointed to the spot, allowing Mak to drive his penalty into the net.

Luke Brattan almost made it 2-0 a few minutes later when his first-time effort from range flew narrowly flew over, but the game-state was seismically altered when Girdwood-Reich dragged down Taggart as he chased a long ball.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 03: Referee Alex King shows the red card to Jake Girdwood-Reich of Sydney during the A-League Men round 12 match between Perth Glory and Sydney FC at HBF Park, on April 03, 2024, in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
PERTH, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 03: Referee Alex King shows the red card to Jake Girdwood-Reich of Sydney during the A-League Men round 12 match between Perth Glory and Sydney FC at HBF Park, on April 03, 2024, in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images) Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images

Despite initially awarding a yellow card, King consulted the Video Assistant Referee and upgraded his decision to red, before Andrew Redmayne acrobatically batted away Giordano Colli’s free-kick.

Having struggled with Sydney’s high-pressing game for most of the game, Perth found more space with the extra man - but the visitors’ compact low-block forced them to go sideways and wide, rather than through the middle.

Taggart was a marked man inside the box as Sydney twice hurried away low crosses which ended at his feet, while Joe Lolley’s mis-control while bearing down on goal up the other end was a let-off for the Glory defence.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 03: Jordan Courtney-Perkins of Sydney and Bruce Kamau of the Glory contest for the ball during the A-League Men round 12 match between Perth Glory and Sydney FC at HBF Park, on April 03, 2024, in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
PERTH, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 03: Jordan Courtney-Perkins of Sydney and Bruce Kamau of the Glory contest for the ball during the A-League Men round 12 match between Perth Glory and Sydney FC at HBF Park, on April 03, 2024, in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images) Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images

Sydney retreated deep in the second-half and dared Perth to play through them, as the hosts resorted to the tried-and-tested aerial assault from wide areas.

Perth thought they had a spot-kick when Grant appeared to catch substitute Jarrod Carluccio’s foot, but with contact appearing minimal, King stuck with his original decision of no penalty upon VAR review.

Taggart, Carluccio and Riley Warland all blasted attempts wide, but in the 72nd minute, Majekodunmi rose highest at the back post to meet and nod home his second goal of the season to draw his side level.

Glory had their tails up, but outside of a late David Williams header and a Trent Ostler ball which flashed dangerously across the face of goal, failed to really trouble Sydney.

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