Teen sensation sparks Distance Derby as Perth edge Phoenix

Perth Glory have climbed to fifth place in the Hyundai A-League courtesy a solitary Diego Castro goal, but it was the performance of sixteen-year-old Jacob Italiano that was the highlight of an otherwise tense contest in Perth.

The youngster gave the Phoenix defence a tough time down Perth’s right in a match that the visitors will be eager to forget after injury cruelled last weekend’s man-of-the-match and captain for the night Dario Vidošić early on.

It was an unchanged line-up and bench named by Darije Kalezić from last week’s first clean sheet of the season away to Brisbane.

The visitors started brightly and could have gone ahead inside five minutes had Adam Parkhouse’s whipped cross found in-form striker Andrija Kaludjerović who was haring in at the far post, only to watch in despair as the ball flashed between striker and post.

With just eight minutes gone Vidošić was caught in a strong tackle from Shane Lowry, collapsing to the pitch and raising concerns about a repeat knee injury.

The Socceroo bravely attempted to play on, but was forced to make way for Ali Abbas just fourteen minutes in.

Still, Wellington provided the better early moments – Matthew Ridenton fired a shot goalwards that was blocked by a prone Lowry before Abbas’ instinctive snapshot was well-held by Liam Reddy.

Perth didn’t muster a shot on target in the first forty-five but it was good feet from Jacob Italiano that almost provided Castro with the opener, only for the Spaniard to fluff his lines.

After the break it was again Phoenix who looked the more likely to go ahead – the lively Ridenton firing a well-struck effort at Reddy in the 50th minute, which the former Nix ‘keeper was relieved to see rebound firmly off the base of the post.

The scare seemed to spark the hosts as Italiano’s mazy runs troubled the Phoenix backline before a long ball over the top finally led to the opener.

As Wellington pressed high Mitch Nichols sprang the offside line and picked out Castro clinically at the far post. The Spaniard calmly jinked back inside and finished with aplomb past Lewis Italiano.

Academy graduate Sarpreet Singh saw his first minutes in the A-League after fine form in the ISPS Handa Premiership coming on for the impressive Ridenton.

A late injury to Marco Rossi saw Hamish Watson enter the fray as Phoenix looked to chase the fixture.

Singh went on a jinking run and cut inside in the 81st minute but his effort was blocked, before a late set piece from the eighteen-year-old almost found Kaludjerović at the far post.

Perth stood resolute, holding out for a pressure-relieving win that catapulted them up a packed Hyundai A-League table.