PERTH Glory coach Kenny Lowe praised the intensity of the contest against the WA State team after his side claimed the Heritage Cup at Inglewood Stadium tonight.
Chris Harold fired home on the stroke of half time to earn the A-League team a 1-0 win over a collection of the best players from the local league.
But the National Premier Leagues WA (NPL WA) players were far from overawed, giving as good as they received in a match played in difficult conditions.
“It was great value,” Lowe said of the match.
“It was really good; a competitive game. It might’ve been wild and windy but I think they enjoyed it just by the attitude and the intensity and the way they went about their work. I was really pleased with our guys.”
The match was a perfect tune up for Glory ahead of their FFA Cup Round of 16 clash against Sydney FC at Dorrien Gardens on August 30.
WA coach Chris Coyne, who has juggled his Bayswater City duties with the State role recently, was pleased with the output of the local players, whose club season is reaching a critical point.
“It speaks volumes for the NPL and the quality in there and after two training sessions together the boys can hold they heads high,” Coyne said.
“They gave a really good account of themselves. Everything we’ve tried to work on in such a short space of time they took on board. They showed they wanted to win the game. But Glory were bright and sharp as well and it was a good performance by both sides.”
With only two games left in the NPL WA season, and crucial matches to be played for teams at the top and bottom of the league, Coyne made a succession of changes to protect players against fatigue and potential injury.
“Sometimes players come on and they struggle to get to grips with the pace of the game but we didn’t lose the continuity,” he said.
“I think it shows the depth of quality in the league.”
The Heritage Cup, inaugurated to acknowledge 120 years of league soccer in WA and 20 years since Glory’s first game, made a high tempo start.
There were chances at both ends in the opening five minutes as Nebojsa Marinkovic and Joe Knowles threatened for Glory, while ECU Joondalup frontman Gordon Smith headed into the arms of goalkeeper Nick Feely in an early warning of the WA state team’s threat.
Armadale’s lively attacker Ellis Healing and Bayswater City striker David Heagney had separate opportunities to break through before Sorrento’s Matt Sparrow delivered a cross from the left that Smith was unable to divert beyond Feely.
Marinkovic went close again with a free kick that went just over and Andy Keogh had a shot on the turn that failed to worry WA goalkeeper Francis Soale.
Referee Adam Fielding went to his pocket to book WA skipper Clark Keltie for his bruising presence and State defender Chris Saldaris.
Soon after, Rhys Williams, playing in WA for the first time since returning to his hometown club following more than a decade with Middlesbrough, had his name recorded by Fielding.
With half time beckoning, and after Smith had stung Feely’s palms, Harold controlled a ball in from the left and stabbed home to give Glory the lead.
The A-League side moved through the gears after the break but were constantly thwarted.
Goalkeeper Lewis Italiano, who came on at the break, reacted brilliantly to deny Joe Mills’ early effort and was equally alert to deny the Englishman with 10 minutes to play.
Trent Kay had a late opportunity for WA but his header was dealt with comfortably.