Perth Glory in 1-0 win over NZ Knights
Perth Glory secured its second successive win of the A-League season with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over a poor New Zealand Knights side at Members Equity Stadium.
Although Perth had no trouble breaching the Knights' porous defence, it failed to ripple the net until Stuart Young stepped up to score his fourth goal of the year and perhaps inject some consistency into the Glory's sluggish start to the season.
Young followed up his double in last week's 3-0 win at Newcastle with a well-placed header that struck an upright and bounced into the net in the 36th minute.
It capped a neat team move, Leo Bertos finding Bobby Despotovski on the right side of the penalty box. Despotovski then dispatched a left-foot cross which Young duly headed home to give Perth a deserved lead.
However, the Glory didn't have much luck with Knights keeper Michael Turnbull's left-hand post in the 25th minute.
Simon Colosimo's chip forward deflected off a Knights player and bounced off the post and into the grateful hands of Turnbull after he and Neil Emblen suffered a major breakdown in communication.
Despotovski found the net in first half stoppage time but his diversion of Naum Sekulovski's shot past Turnbull was deemed offside.
Eager to get his first goal of the year after recently returning from a back injury, Despotovski looked to have been bundled over in the box early in the second half when rushing in for the kill, but his appeals for a penalty were waved away by referee Craig Zetter.
The Knights reminded the 7309 fans in attendance they were still in the game when midfielder Richard Johnson unleashed a blistering long-range piledriver following a quickly-taken free-kick.
But Glory 'keeper Jason Petkovic was equal to the task and dived to his left to parry it to safety.
In a surprising end to the match, Glory fans and players had their hearts in their mouths as the Knights mounted one last hurrah and almost stole a point.
First Scot Gemmill had his close-range effort snuffed out by Petkovic then minutes later Hickey's long-range shot was deflected over the bar for a corner.
Simon Colosimo could have sealed the game in stoppage time but he struck his shot directly at the oncoming Turnbull and Despotovski failed to direct the subsequent loose ball into the empty net.
Glory coach Ron Smith acknowledged New Zealand was able to give his side a unique challenge.
"I think we knew we were in for a fight tonight. In some ways, you have to be able to cope with whatever the other team throws at you," Smith said with regards to the Knights' physical strength.
"They gave us a problem tonight which was a little bit different from what we've faced so far and I'm just pleased that we managed to cope with it."
The Knights have failed to score in their past five matches but coach Paul Nevin believes the goals are just around the corner.
"I thought we didn't play too well (in the first half)," he said.
"We changed a little bit at half time and made ourselves more compact.
"I think in the second half we created a number of good opportunities - not half chances - but good ones and failed to get the goal when it mattered and again it's the same story.
"There have been periods in all our games where we've dominated.
"(Since the 5-0 loss to Queensland in mid-September) we've been tough to beat, we've taken the games to people, we've had to change our shape and overcome a few little obstacles and we've managed to do that and I think to come away with absolutely nothing from this evening is very, very frustrating."