Shots on target dwindle as Perth Glory's goals dry up
Perth Glory's pulsating seven-goal thriller against Western Sydney Wanderers earlier this month saw the table-toppers plunder four goals for the third time in a fortnight.
They were averaging almost 2.5 goals per game by the end of that 4-3 triumph and had not been held to a blank in any of their 13 fixtures.
Fast forward 10 days and Tony Popovic's team have mustered just five shots on target in two matches while failing to hit the scoresheet in five of their last six halves of football.
Wednesday night's 0-0 draw against Adelaide United – the first between the teams since December 2013 – followed an uninspiring stalemate away to Melbourne City and left Perth to confront a fresh challenge.
At no previous juncture in their convincing ascendancy to top spot has scoring goals been a burden, not even in the weeks immediately after Chris Ikonomidis linked up with the Caltex Socceroos.
And while two draws in which they have only occasionally been troubled at the other end is hardly cause for major concern, Perth will know there is an expectation to address the sudden imbalance in the two upcoming home matches against Newcastle Jets and Wellington Phoenix.
For his part, Popovic – who opted to employ Diego Castro and Andy Keogh as substitutes at HBF Park – is losing no sleep over a pair of results that have helped Sydney FC close back to within two points.
"It's a busy period for everyone and we've come through unscathed," the Glory boss reflected after the Adelaide encounter.
"It was not our best performance with the ball but we've got to give some credit to the opposition on that as well.
"We looked very resilient in a game where our play didn't really flow. I felt we were always dangerous and always a chance to score, although it wasn't our best performance in possession.
"But that's also a good sign that we feel we can win matches when we’re not quite there."
They might even have taken maximum points from the past two outings had Jason Davidson converted late opportunities against both City and Adelaide.
Relying on wing-backs to provide winners is not a viable solution, of course, and the onus is now on Castro, Keogh and company to bring a swift end to this stumble.