Fan Reaction: Wooden spoon confirmed, rumour mill just starting

HBF Park delivered a fitting spectacle in the Glory’s final home match for the season: it was high scoring, with a high dosage of underwhelming defending and at the end of the 90 minutes, like on most occasions, the defence gave the attack too much work to do.

The 4-3 loss to Western United means a wooden spoon for Alen Stajcic in what might be his only season in charge out west.

Just days before the final game against Sydney FC, there is speculation he will be replaced by a current A-League coach for the following season, which will be the first full season under the new ownership regime led by Ross Pelligra.

Stajcic’s departure would be a loss for the club, and a decision which won’t go down well with the majority of supporters.

The fans understand he was put in an immensely difficult position, with no off-field stability for most of the season and a squad which needs improving in multiple areas.

He took the Mariners from the bottom to the top end of the league and I am confident he can do the same with Perth. More confident than I would be with the rumoured replacements.

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This story will play out more once the season has concluded, a forgetful one characterised by defensive lapses which cost us a potential win on the weekend.

Starting the game strong was essential following the heavy defeat to Melbourne City and subsequent apology, but it quickly fell apart.

Matthew Grimaldi drifted in behind the Glory backline and was picked out by Lachie Wales inside the opening five minutes. A delightful chip over Oli Sail followed suit to open the scoring.

Unlike the previous week, the Glory gained control of the contest after going behind. Western United’s next shot after their goal came 21 minutes later and by that point, the home side had found an equaliser.

It was a well-crafted attack, started by Mustafa Amini under pressure. His pass to Jarrod Carluccio opened up space on the right hand side, and he in turn played a ball down the wing for Johhny Koutroumbis.

The right-back picked the perfect moment to cross, straight onto the head of Taggart who picked his spot and headed home emphatically in front of The Shed.

Stef Colakovski was denied the go-ahead goal by a strong save from Tom Heward-Belle and at the other end, Riku Danzaki missed a golden one-on-one opportunity after Darryl Lachman’s misplaced pass led to a quick break.

The second half started a lot brighter than the first, and resulted in another goal for Taggart. Tomoki Imai was put under immediate pressure by Colakovski from a goal kick, who forced the error and allowed his strike partner to swoop in and punish the mistake by the Japanese defender.

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The Glory thought they had the all-important third when David Williams put the ball in the back of the net after dispossessing Charbel Shamoon, but referee Shane Skinner ruled it out for a foul which could easily have been let go.

As per usual, the defensive slip up arrived and proved costly. Kaelan Majekodunmi’s clearance was headed back into a dangerous area and picked up by Michael Ruhs.

Western’s striker passed it off to Danzaki who atoned for his missed chance in the first half by smashing a low strike into the bottom corner.

Another giveaway in the centre opened the door for a break and this time, it went punished by a second gamer. Angus Thurgate cut out David Williams’ pass and spotted Abel Walatee free on his own on the left.

Koutroumbis couldn’t make up the ground from high up the pitch. The young attacker finished with poise and precision past Sail, who probably wouldn’t have been able to stop it if he had made an effort.

Late attempts from Susnjar and Taggart weren’t enough to get the Glory back level; the latter smashed a volley straight at Heward-Belle and the former nearly secured his hattrick with a header which didn’t miss by much.

The visitors managed to find a fourth through Oli Lavale in stoppage time, who tackled Gio Colli on the edge of the area and caught Sail out of position to score his first professional goal.

Williams kept up the drama by scoring a minute later, reaching the milestone of 50 A-League goals thanks to Trent Ostler, who got a toe on a loose pass to set up the veteran.

A frantic ending involving a late set-piece and the keeper coming up didn’t yield another goal, handing the Glory a third consecutive loss and leaving them without a win in nine.

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The Wrap Up

The only positive to take out of the match was Adam Taggart rewriting history, overtaking Shane Smeltz’s 2011/12 season to become the Glory’s single season scoring record holder.

The Kiwi managed 17 goals in 26 games played in a campaign which saw the club reach a Grand Final and fall agonisingly short.

Taggart has 19 in 24, with his brace taking him into the lead of the Golden Boot heading into the final round. He is one ahead of former Glory striker Bruno Fornaroli.

It’s an incredible achievement considering the strength of this current side, made even more so by the fact none of his goals have been from the spot.

I wouldn’t be surprised if foreign clubs come calling; all we can hope for is that he is happy and settled back home, and wants to lead the line next season, the first of the Glory’s new era.

There’s more match to go. Away at Sydney, who are guaranteed a spot in the finals but are still in with a slim chance of nabbing a home final.

They’re playing for position, and we’re playing for pride.Ending on a positive note is the target; for the coaches, the players and most importantly for the fans.

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