Getting around Perth has been a pain in the proverbial nether region for the last few months.
Construction of the new Elizabeth Quay development is now in full swing and West Australians are bracing themselves for arguably the worst traffic congestion in the nation.
With scaffolding spread across all pockets of the city, nib Stadium was not spared today and though Perth Glory vs Melbourne Heart was a sell out, only 7,458 people managed to get through the gate.
Though the match was a little drab in parts at least the fans were close to the pitch, a far cry from the view shared by 14,385 people attending the Glory’s first home game at Patersons stadium.
Long side construction at nib Stadium.
Perth lacked pace today, often slow to push in their offensive half.
Though Dean Heffernan managed to convert a Liam Miller-corner in the 38th minute, Glory coach Ian Ferguson would surely have felt the loss of both Shane Smeltz and Bas Van der Brink at half time.
Ferguson spoke after the match of anxiety on the sideline and the Glory’s preparation this week.
“We were a little bit nervous until the second goal went in and I was really proud of the boys.
“There was a big emphasis on retaining the ball because last week we were rushing things and turning the ball over, but this week we worked hard on retaining the ball and being patient, and I was pleased with that.”
Billy Mehmet was soft on his feet up front, a few stray touches turning the ball over to the Heart defence.
He did however manage to seal the win for Perth in the 85th minute, heading the ball into the net from yet another corner.
Shane Smeltz watched from the sidelines after succumbing to a hamstring injury on international duty for New Zealand.
The Glory missed him today and he is expected to be out for at least two weeks.
Last season he scored six times in four games against the Heart.
The club’s new Japanese recruit Ryo Nagai neither started the match nor was he named as a substitute.
The Cerezo Osaka-loanee came on in the 75th minute in last week’s 1-0 loss to the Central Coast Mariners but has also been recovering from a hamstring injury.
] Nagai in front of a red brick wall.
A start for Nagai in coming weeks may boost the Glory’s attacking options, at least if words from his Manchester United compatriot Shinji Kagawa are anything to go by.
In a recent interview he spoke of sharing a dorm with Kagawa in high school.
“Kagawa’s position and my position are the same, so I’m always watching his game to learn. He told me my shot is the best in the world, but the key is whether or not I can do it in a game” Nagai said.
Melbourne Heart arrived in Perth on the back of a relatively good start to the A-League season – a win and a draw – but looked sluggish in the 30 degree heat.
New coach John Aloisi admitted this might have been a contributing factor.
“We struggled with the conditions, really struggled, and looked flat, fatigued and then the game became stretched, and they outplayed us in the midfield and it was a struggle for us.
“I know you can’t make up excuses, but it has been quite cool in Melbourne and coming over here to play at two o’clock in the afternoon really affected us.”
The Heart’s Brazilian captain Fred came off at half time with a swollen eye, after a clash with Perth defender Michael Thwaite.
Simon Colosimo sat out the game, serving a one-match ban for a red card against Wellington Phoenix last week.
Though they are temporarily joint top of the table and wedged between Adelaide United and Newcastle Jets on goal difference, Perth have scored just three goals this season - and all have been headers.
Mehmet is joined by his teammates after scoring the Glory's second goal.
With a State election looming in March 2013, policy debate over infrastructure is bound to resurface.
Plans for a new stadium at various locations around W.A have been an election issue before.
Typically media shy W.A businessman and billionaire Ralph Sarich recently hit out at the Barnett government’s infrastructure policy.
“I just cannot comprehend why the priority is to build a new stadium rather than help struggling families desperate for housing,” said the inventor of the Orbital engine.
Though the Purple Army would rather see an end to their home game hassles.
This blog appeared first at http://insideroffsider.wordpress.com/