Perth Glory sit four points clear at the top of the ladder after their 3-0 victory over Wellington Phoenix on Saturday night brought up a club record four straight clean sheets, but manager Tony Popovic insists that he is taking nothing for granted.
“We’ll go a game at a time, as we have all year,” he said after watching Shane Lowry, Chris Ikonomidis and Andy Keogh secure three points for his impressive side.
“We’re on top because we deserve to be there and we’ll keep fighting. That’s where we want to stay.”
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Glory had an early warning when Wellington’s David Williams crashed his second-minute shot against the crossbar, but the home side tightened up and took firm control of the match from then on.
The visitors’ goalkeeper Filip Kurto made two outstanding stops before Lowry put Glory ahead on 19 minutes and Ikonomidis made it two with a close-range header 10 minutes before half-time.
Keogh completed the scoring after the break, notching his 50th Hyundai A-League goal in the process.
“We always feel that if we continue to create chances the goals will come,” Popovic said. “Maybe that’s the next step for us … when we’re on top and creating so many chances that we put a team away earlier.”
Glory’s three unanswered goals made for a club record four successive games without conceding, with Popovic adding: “I’m delighted for the players, for the club. Credit to all the players, not just the defenders.
“Everyone works together to try and make it as difficult as possible for the opponents to score, to get a clear chance. They did that again tonight and we kept another clean sheet.”
That victory sets-up a mouth-watering clash at second-place Melbourne Victory next Sunday (5:00pm AEDT). The West Australian side triumphed 3-2 at Victory in October 2018, and have won five and drawn two of their seven games on the road this season.
“It’s a big game,” Popovic said. “It was a great game when we played them in round two and I’m sure this one will be the same.
“I’m confident that we’ll perform, but I don’t know what the result will be. If we perform well as a team, as a squad, then we’ll keep the great away record going.”
Wellington Phoenix boss Mark Rudan has seen his side stutter a little in recent weeks after a great run, but had no complaints about Saturday’s defeat.
“We were up against a very good side, clearly,” he said. “Good teams punish you, they hurt you. They fully deserved to win today, no dramas.
“I’ve got nothing but praise for them. I think they’re the best team in the competition and they are where they are for a reason.
“We’re still progressing as a football club. We’ve come on in leaps and bounds this season, but I keep stressing to the players that we haven’t achieved anything yet.
“We’ve taken a couple of steps forward [in recent weeks], but today I felt we took a step back and that’s disappointing.”