Perth Glory held on in controversial fashion to hand coach Kenny Lowe his first victory in charge with a 1-0 win over the Newcastle Jets at Hunter Stadium on Saturday.
The Jets appeared to have cancelled out Chris Harold’s first-half goal in the 71st minute when defender Kew Jaliens tapped in a Emile Heskey far-post header from a corner.
Glory goalkeeper Danny Vukovic scooped the ball out but replays suggested it may have already crossed the goal line.
Jets coach Gary van Egmond believed the ball crossed the line.
“Yeah, it’s a goal, but there’s not much we can do about it,” van Egmond said.
Perth got on the board in the 38th minute when Harold pounced on a wayward pass from right-back Jacob Pepper towards his own goal.
Harold coolly converted the one-on-one chance with Jets keeper Mark Birighitti.
Newcastle created most of the chances in the round 13 match but Vukovic stood tall to give Lowe his maiden win in his third match as head coach after taking over from the sacked Alistair Edwards.
The win moved Perth to 16 points, two points behind sixth-placed Newcastle who lost 1-0 in Adelaide last week.
Lowe lauded his young squad, which had seven senior players missing, for pressuring the Jets into the crucial mistake and working hard to protect the lead.
“The goal we scored was something we had worked on, so it gives everyone a pleasing feeling, not just that we won, but the game plan worked,” Lowe said.
As for the controversial no-goal call, Lowe felt Glory were due for a change of luck after the injury-time 2-1 loss to Central Coast and Jacob Burns’s bizarre send off last week.
“I don’t believe the ref give it, so it can’t have been over the line,” he said of Jaliens’s shot.
“Last week we had 96 minutes, the ref sent somebody off and he put in his report he didn’t know why he’d sent him off.
“It’s a funny game, isn’t it? Last week it was us, this week it was Gaz, next week it will be somebody else.”
Van Egmond was critical of his side for not putting away a lower-placed team at home.
“We’ve got to get better at controlling games with the ball,” he said.
Newcastle had dominated most of the game up until the Glory goal.
Adam Taggart had a shot blocked in the 11th minute, Craig Goodwin struck a good chance across the face of goal in the 19th and Jaliens hit a free header well over the bar in the 26th.
It was a similar story in the second half.
Harold was off target twice but Newcastle created the bulk of opportunities.
Taggart was wide in the 49th minute and hit a one-on-one shot straight at Vukovic in the 63rd.
Marquee striker Heskey came in the 58th for Goodwin and made an almost immediate impact for Newcastle. His pass set up Nathan Burns for a good sight on goal but his left-foot strike was pulled wide.
Burns had another golden opportunity in the 82nd minute but Vukovic dived full-stretch to knock his curling free kick outside the post.