No splitting Fury, Glory

Perth Glory have produced a courageous performance to hold on for a 1-1 draw with just nine men against the North Queensland Fury at Dairy Farmers Stadium on Sunday.

Perth Glory have produced a courageous performance to hold on for a 1-1 draw with just nine men against the North Queensland Fury at Dairy Farmers Stadium on Sunday.

In a physical game which saw Kris Griffith-Jones blow the pea out of his whistle, the Glory’s Naum Sekulovski and Brent Griffiths were both given their marching orders by the 64th minute after collecting their second yellow cards of the match.

That left the Glory scrambling to defend a 1-0 lead set up by a 23rd minute Robbie Fowler header, which they were able to do for 16 minutes until Mark Hughes finally broke the dam wall with his 80th minute header to equalise.

The Fury had a multitude of chances to secure a vital win but were errant in their shot selection and execution, missing time after time and at one point squandering four corners in a row.

The point is a relieving one for the Glory, in freefall after losing 11 of its past 13 games leading into the Fury clash.

And there was plenty of feeling between the two clubs, with marquee man Robbie Fowler returning to his old club and engineering the win.

Fowler was unlucky not to earn a penalty shot in the opening stages, brought to ground in the box by a desperate Mark Hughes challenge. It was Groundhog Day just after halftime, Hughes bringing him down again but escaping a whistle.

And Fowler was desperately unlucky not to score in the 10th minute when he popped a sweet ball over keeper Justin Pasfield’s head only for it to clatter into the crossbar.

But he got the goal he wanted against his former club in the 23rd minute, heading in a Michael Baird cross to open up a 1-0 lead.

It was the Fury that had the majority of field position for the best part of the first half, but they squandered plenty of chances to make it count.

Gareth Edds missed an open chance in the 17th minute, hitting the right post and was denied by a first class clearance by Joshua Risdon in a passage of play which saw the Fury miss three shots on goal.

Dyron Daal, returning from a knee injury, also missed multiple chances including a one-on-one with keeper Tando Velaphi which ended with his shot sailing over the top of the post.

In the second half the chances began to flow as fast as the North Queensland rain which drenched the stadium in the second half, but they couldn’t convert them, leaving them rooted to the bottom of the Hyundai A-League table.

It was a frustrating night for coach Franz Straka who was left scratching his head at his sides inability to finish, something he conceded was becoming a major problem.

“I’m very disappointed … how are going to win a game if you can’t score? That is the question,” he said.

“The players are under pressure.”

“We have to keep going and hopefully be better against Gold Coast (on Wednesday).”

Perth coach – and former North Queensland mentor – Ian Ferguson was happy to escape with the point but was scathing in his assessment of referee Griffiths-Jones for sending two of his men off but letting Hughes escape without a card for his tackles on Fowler.

“I thought the referee’s performance tonight was poor,” he fumed.

“There was nothing in them at all, I think there has to be a bit of common sense when you’re throwing cards about left, right and centre.”

“I think it’s soft, ridiculous at times.”

“I thought there was two stone cold penalty kicks, the boy Hughes is the last man. We don’t get a penalty and unfortunately for us that’s the boy who scores the goal.

“He should have been off the park.”

North Queensland Fury 1 (Hughes 80)
Perth Glory 1 (Fowler 23)