We’re down to the last eight in the Westfield FFA Cup where we’ll be taking on Perth Glory for a place in the semi-finals. Here’s the lowdown on Kenny Lowe’s side.
The future appeared bleak at best for Perth Glory in April.
With the club engulfed in a salary cap crisis, crippling instability on and off the field bled into what could have been a tumultuous off-season.
Yet, Kenny Lowe has done an admirable job in steadying the ship, and as a result, the side have been travelling under the radar nicely during pre-season.
Which is largely unfortunate for Lowe’s men, who are in great shape after winning all five pre-season fixtures – and a win over the Wanderers tonight would continue to wash away the sour outcome of last campaign.
In a similar fashion to the massive overturn in playing staff at the Wanderers, Perth have experienced a moderate upheaval themselves, with some familiar faces and big names arriving to give the Glory an exciting new look.
Perth have shipped just two goals during pre-season, both coming in the same FFA Cup tie against Newcastle. Although Lowe’s team were no slackers defensively last season (finishing with the equal third best defensive record), the ranks have been bolstered by a defensive trio of former Wanderers in Ante Covic, Jerrad Tyson and Antony Golec.
Golec in particular has settled in nicely next to Dino Djulbic, although the pair have yet to be fully tested. Former Sydney FC fullback Marc Warren has also come in to shore up the gap left by Scott Jamieson and could continue to deputise at left back tonight. On the opposite flank, Josh Risdon is a reliable defender who attacks with considerable purpose.
The most significant area of change for Perth lies in dimensions further up the pitch. The loss of key defensive midfielder Rostyn Griffiths sticks out in particular and has forced a minor reshuffle of the midfield configuration. Kenny Lowe has proposed an internal and somewhat surprising solution, moving centre-back Michael Thwaite into midfield to replace the physical presence of Griffiths, where he is partnered by new Hungarian signing Gyorgy Sandor.
Diego Castro, who was a firmly established La Liga player before his arrival down under, could be the signing of the season. The Spaniard is yet to feature for Perth yet but his inclusion in the squad for this tie suggests Kenny Lowe has made room for his new marquee, most likely on the left side of midfield.
The possible inclusion of Diego Castro for the first time makes it difficult to guess the exact shape of Kenny Lowe’s team, but it could likely push captain Richard Garcia to the opposite flank, completing a probable midfield four, complemented by two central strikers. Lowe has real variety in this position, with the likes of star recruit Guyon Fernandez and young gun Stefan Valentini both vying for starting roles. Oddly, the otherwise unconventional partnership of Sidnei and Nebojsa Marinkovic has been deployed regularly during pre-season to some effect.
4-4-2, or some variation of it, has developed into Kenny Lowe’s favoured formation since moving away from the 4-3-3 left behind by former manager Alistair Edwards. Since then, Glory have had a disposition for playing through two rapid, versatile forwards as part of a system structured on the counter-attack.
In this respect, the recurrent selection of Sidnei and Marinkovic up front is mildly puzzling, considering that neither player fits the mould of a natural forward who will run the channels and get in behind defences with the kind pace and direct movement that caused the Wanderers problems against the Glory last season.
This ought to keep the Wanderers guessing and no doubt all eyes will be on who gets the nod upfront in Kenny Lowe’s starting eleven in the time before kick-off.
Predicted Perth Glory lineup