Dylan Pierias shone under the lights in Tasmania as Western United defeated Perth Glory 2-0 to return to the top of the Isuzu UTE A-League Men table.
Pierias was rewarded for a fine performance when he finished an excellent team move in the second half to extend United’s lead after Aleksandar Prijovic had scored his fifth goal of the season before the break.
A third win in succession and seventh game without defeat took United back past Melbourne City at the top of the league while still having a game in hand.
The sole change to Western United’s starting lineup was a big one, with Slovenian midfielder Rene Krhin coming in for his first start for the Club.
He came in for Adisu Bayew in an otherwise entirely unchanged 18-man squad, with Alessandro Diamanti and Connor Pain both missing again due to injuries.
Pierias was a thorn in the side of Perth Glory early, as despite the hosts having the majority of early possession the No.5’s pace down the right-wing posed a serious threat.
The recently turned 22-year-old had a particularly big chance as he was playing in beautifully by Lachie Wales, but Liam Reddy was equal to his shot from inside the box.
United began to increase the pressure after the first quarter of an hour with Wales coming close before a string of set pieces and forced turnovers high up the pitch kept the visitors on the front foot.
Perth responded though and ensured United couldn’t take too much control of the match, with much of their good work coming through Bruno Fornaroli up front.
Wales was inches away from breaking the deadlock just after the half hour as he slid in at the back post but just couldn’t reach a Josh Risdon cross, and that sparked a move at the other end.
Perth worked the ball forwards and Fornaroli looked to place a shot into the bottom corner, but Jamie Young was sharp to save low to his left before Neil Kilkenny arrived to remove the danger.
United went the other way and took the lead just minutes after that, and while the scorer was a predictable one, the creative source came from out of the blue.
Nikolai Topor-Stanley got forward from centre-back for just the sixth assist of his professional career as he squeezed the ball through to Prijovic who swept a left-footed strike into the bottom corner.
Western United came out of half-time with a similar mindset to the first period, looking to dominate and add to the lead and John Aloisi didn’t have to wait too long to celebrate on the touchline.
Kilkenny turned beautifully just inside his own half and played in Ben Garuccio down the left-hand side who made a lung-busting overlapping run.
United’s left-back then sent a beautiful low cross into the box, teeing up Pierias for a richly-deserved goal and his first of the campaign.
The Green and Black – albeit in white on the night – was happy to slow the pace of the game down following the two-goal cushion and maintained a little more possession to try and take the sting out of the contest.
Perth stayed in the game though and had half chances through Fornaroli, Antonee Burke-Gilroy and Daniel Styned, but none of them managed to hit the target as time ran out for the home side.
Adam Zimarino had the West Australian side’s biggest chance with 15 minutes to play, but Young showed his typical sharp reflexes to save with his feet and keep United’s clean sheet alive.
United did indeed hold onto that clean sheet and secured a ninth win of the season, offering a preview of what might be to come when the Club heads to UTAS Stadium for two home matches in April.