Gold Coast United have closed the gap between themselves and second-placed Perth to just three points, thanks to a 3-1 win over the Glory in their National Youth League clash on Saturday at Owen Park.
Gold Coast United have closed the gap between themselves and second-placed Perth to just three points, thanks to a 3-1 win over the Glory in their National Youth League clash on Saturday afternoon at Owen Park.
The hosts never really looked in doubt, with goals to Mitch Cooper, Sami Tesfagabr and Bobby Russell enough for a valuable victory as the business end of the NYL season approaches.
The match began at an extremely high tempo, with Perth striker Ndumba Makeche spurning a golden opportunity two minutes in.
Latching onto a through ball from the back, Makeche's quick feet were too much for United captain Zac Anderson as he cut into the box, but his shot was well covered by Jerrad Tyson.
Despite that early lapse in concentration, Gold Coast quickly asserted control of the match, with young midfielder Cooper putting in a dynamic first-half shift.
Cooper had his first chance on goal eight minutes in, but poked his shot wide of the target after he was unleashed by defender Neko Vujevich.
But the former Qantas Joey wasn't going to make the same mistake twice, and 10 minutes later he broke the deadlock after an almost identical run.
This time it was Tesfagabr who picked him out, with a lovely curling cross from the left - and while the 17-year-old still had a lot to do from there, he made it look easy.
With poise beyond his tender years, he controlled the ball under intense pressure and then lobbed the advancing Young to score his fifth goal in four matches.
Five minutes from half-time, Tesfagabr got his name on the scorer's sheet from point-blank range, after Elliot Ronto's shot was blocked by a desperate Young.
The Eritrean simply tapped home the scraps, giving United a deserved 2-0 lead at the interval.
With plenty of ground ahead of them to make up, the Glory began the second half intent on keeping possession and working their way back into the game.
But all those well-laid plans were thrown out the window in the 66th minute when their captain, Sam Mitchinson, was shown a straight red card for a reckless tackle on United substitute Bobby Russell.
With a man advantage and some fresh legs in the form of attacking terror Russell and local junior Kwame Yeboah, the hosts took back control of the game.
Both Russell and Yeboah had opportunities to extend Gold Coast's lead, but they were either off-target or comfortably saved by the Perth gloveman.
With less than eight minutes to go though, Perth fired back with Harry O'Brien scoring from a corner kick to reduce the margin to just one goal, making for a nervy last few minutes of the match for United.
However, Russell was on the spot for the home side, knocking home the sealer from close range one minute into injury time.
Gold Coast United 3 (Cooper 18, Tesfagabr 41, Russell 90+1) Perth Glory 1 (O'Brien 82)