Castro hands winner on a Plate to Franjic as Perth Glory ends 15-year trophy famine.


A majestic through ball by Diego Castro, perfectly weighted and timed, created the all-important breakthrough, finding Ivan Franjic on a penetrating run from the right. Franjic’s first-time nutmeg of Moss, was a fitting way to break Newcastle’s doughty resistance and claim Perth Glory’s first trophy in 15 years.

The A-League Premier’s Plate, is awarded to the top team after the 27-match home and away sequence. Winning the Plate also gives the Perth side a one-week rest followed by a home semi-final against Wellington Phoenix, Melbourne City, or Adelaide United.

If, as is likely, they prevail in that encounter, they would probably meet season-long rivals Melbourne Victory or Sydney FC in a blockbuster Grand Final at Perth’s new state of the art, 60,000 capacity Optus Stadium on Sunday the 19th of May.

This is the day after the General Election which may see Australia electing her eighth Prime Minister since Glory last won a trophy.

Another flow on benefit for Perth Glory’s Premiership is automatic qualification for the AFC Champions League next season, where coach Tony Popovic has a tilt at emulating his remarkable feat of guiding Western Sydney Wanderers, the first Australian club to win that trophy, in only their second season of existence in 2014.

Remarkably, three players involved in tonight’s game played in that AFC Champions League Final under Popovic: Jets centre half Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Glory sweeper Matthew Spiranovic, and benched veteran Glory forward Brendon Santalab.

Glory’s win also sealed the fate of the Newcastle Jets, who had to win tonight to keep their season alive, eliminating them from the finals series which features the top six A-League finishers.

The game started with Newcastle Jets looking every bit the party poopers. They had the better of the opening exchanges, and Irish centre forward Roy O’Donovan almost opened their account after 10 minutes with an audacious first-time shot/chip from 30m hitting the bar with Glory keeper Liam Reddy helplessly but appropriately off his line.

Glory responded in kind later in the half when their own Irish centre forward, Andy Keogh, (yes, you guessed it) hit the bar from 10m out.

Uncanny parallels continued in this game with four offside ‘goals’ being scored as the net rippled at the City end of the stadium, twice in each half, twice for each team.

The first half continued in rip-roaring fashion with flowing attacking football and goalmouth incidents aplenty.

On about the half-hour mark, following a frenetic phase of the game resulting in drama at both ends, the more sober-minded Glory players–midfield general Neil Kilkenny, sweeper Matthew Spiranovic, and defensive midfielder Juande–settled things down again, soothing Glory into their preferred style: defensive passing build-up play, probing for opposition weaknesses, and striking quickly when the opportunity presents itself.

But Newcastle Jets were determined not to play fall guys to the Glory script and made a fist of it, soaking up the pressure resolutely and creating goal-scoring chances of their own.

The first half ended 0-0 with both teams retiring with reasonable hopes of getting what they needed out of the game.

The second half continued in similar vein with Glory offering the more penetrative attacking moves, but the Jets showing enough threat not to discount the possibility of them scoring against the run of play.

It looked like the match could go any of three ways until a seminal moment in the 65th minute.

Mercurial midfield maestro, and Glory club captain, Diego Castro had shown glimpses of what he could do, without delivering the lethal touch. Until now.

Alternately teasing and inducing misplaced complacency in the Newcastle defenders during the first hour and a bit, the swashbuckling Spanish matador then mercilessly dismembered the Newcastle resistance limb by limb.

Picking up a ball about 35m out, he lazily weaved forward drawing the attentions of Ben Kantorovski and Joe Champness. Castro seemed to dither with the dispossessing tackle inevitable, but with Kantorovski and Champness fatally committed, he unleashed a through ball of perfect weight, pace, and direction.

Diego Castro hold Premier’s Plate aloft

Such was the accuracy of Castro’s ball tantalisingly threaded between the reach of Ivan Jujica and Nikolai Topor-Stanley, he’d taken out four Jets with one sublime pass.

Right wing-back Franjic had been running back and forward all game, but timed this advance to perfection to at last spring the offside trap and meet Castro’s deft delivery with a cheeky nutmeg of goalkeeper Glen Moss at the edge of the 6-yard box.

For the fifth time tonight, that City end net bulged but this time no flag was raised.

Instead, the roof was raised by cheers of relief on all sides of the stadium as Glory fans sensed that redemption from the lean years was nigh.

Nevertheless, the valiant Jets refused to lie down and continued to fight for their Finals lives till the death.

But there was no denying a Glory-ous result tonight.

The 11,349 Perthites who braved the West’s first winter storm of the season will be optimistic that Glory’s season has yet more fruit to bear.

At the post-match press conference, Newcastle Jets coach and Scozzie Ernie Merrick, was magnanimous in his praise.

Newcastle Jets Scozzie coach Ernie Merrick

“I’d like to congratulate Perth Glory and Tony Popovic…they’ll probably go all the way…they’ve hardly lost all season and played some fantastic football. The Spanish guy who never ages, I can’t believe Tony’s actually got him defending as well.”

Tony Popovic downplayed his own role and was keen to pay tribute to the whole squad but acknowledged “a bit of brilliance from Diego and a great run from Ivan was the difference, and how fitting that this fabulous goal won us the Premier’s Plate.”

Popovic was delighted

Glory now contemplates a trip to New South Wales to play Sydney FC on Thursday in what may be a dress rehearsal for the Grand Final.


Perth Glory: Reddy, Franjic (Neville), Davidson (Ferreira), Lowry, Spiranovic, Djulbic, Juande (Brimmer), Kilkenny, Chianese, Castro, Keogh.

Newcastle Jets: Moss, Koutroumbis, Vujica (Jackson), Topor-Stanley, Boogaard, Kantarovski, Ugarkovic, Champness (Sheppard), Ridenton (Vargas), Petratos, O’Donovan.








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Scozzie reporting on A-League and other stuff from the Indian Ocean shores. St. Johnstone fan. Follow me on twitter @perthmcneela.

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