An inexperienced Perth Glory scored two goals in the final eight minutes to snatch a thrilling 4-2 win over Wellington Phoenix at nib Stadium on Friday night.
Glory took the lead in the 16th minute through a stunning opener from Brazilian winger Sidnei before Stein Huysegems and Paul Ifill scored either side of half-time to give Wellington the lead.
The Phoenix looked set to record their first win over the season until Michael Thwaite levelled the scores from a Sidnei cross in the 60th minute and Adrian Zahra capitalised on a great run from veteran Steven McGarry in the final 10 minutes to secure three points for the home side.
Sidnei, who only minutes earlier appeared to injured his left hamstring, iced the win in injury time with his second of the evening when Glenn Moss fumbled what should have been a regulation save for the Phoenix goalkeeper.
It was Glory’s first win since Round 4 and puts the club back in the A-League’s top six ahead of three more games this weekend.
Perth fielded one of its most inexperienced sides in recent memory following the sudden departure of utility Steve Pantelidis to Malaysian club Selangor FC during the week and the absence of suspended captain Jacob Burns and injured trio Shane Smeltz, Scott Jamieson and William Gallas.
It opened the door for talented teenagers Daniel De Silva and Riley Woodcock to make their starting debuts for Glory, while the relatively inexperienced Jack Clisby and Matthew Davies were placed in a defence that was exposed at times by Ifill, Huysegems and Jeremy Brockie.
De Silva and Jamie Maclaren fired early shots on goal, but it was Sidnei who slammed home a long-range stunner from outside the box to give Perth the opener.
Huysegems and Costa Rican team-mate Kenny Cunningham both kicked over the bar before the Belgian threaded the ball through the narrowest of gaps between Perth custodian Danny Vukovic and the left post to level the score.
It took just three minutes after half-time for Ifill to grab the lead for the visitors when some sloppy defending allowed the Wellington veteran to effortlessly head the ball home from Vince Lia’s short corner.
Moss produced a classy save with his outstretched left hand to deny Sidnei after another great run into the penalty area, but there was nothing he could do to stop Thwaite’s header shortly afterwards.
Zahra was lively after coming on as a substitute prior to Thwaite’s goal and was in the right place at the right time when McGarry opened up the Wellington defence eight minutes from the final whistle.
Sidnei sent a scare through the Perth camp when he went down clutching his left hamstring as full-time approached, but after receiving some treatment from the club doctor, returned to the pitch to score his second and Glory’s fourth.
Perth Glory 4 (Sidnei 16m, 90m+1, Thwaite 60m, Zahra 82m)
Wellington Phoenix 2 (Huysegems 32m, Ifill 48min)
Crowd: 8232 at nib Stadium