Most coaches, when asked about a controversial decision regarding their team, affect ignorance, incomprehension or innocence, usually with the added rider that they didn’t actually see the incident in question.
Perth Glory boss Kenny Lowe, however, is not most coaches.
Lowe has built a largely positive reputation for his sharp one-liners, pithy wisecracks and his gallows humour about games, incidents and the performance of his team. A tall, slim former defender in England’s lower leagues, he employs the blunt honesty anyone familiar with people from the north-east of England – Lowe’s original home – knows all too well.
So it was hardly surprising on Saturday night that when asked about the legality of his forward Andy Keogh’s goal, the strike who earned his side another point on the road against the free-scoring Victory, he didn’t resort to subterfuge.
“It was probably offside,” he said with disarming frankness, readily agreeing with claims made earlier in the evening by his Victory counterpart Kevin Muscat.
“I think it’s swings and roundabouts though. We could have had a penalty for Keogh’s strike [which Perth claimed hit a defender].”
Even though Glory have been at the top of the table since the start of the season there has been a reluctance to regard them as serious title challengers.
That suits Lowe’s style – he loves it when his team is under-rated and he can throw the siege-mentality switch – but it does the West Australians, and their coach, a disservice.
Perth’s starting eleven is made up of a lot of hard-nosed, tough professionals who know how to get results. At the back Michael Thwaite and Dino Djulbic form an impressive central barrier, with the tall Rostyn Griffiths protecting them in the defensive midfield slot.
Scott Jamieson and Josh Risdon are tough-tackling, aggressive full backs, and in Danny Vukovic they have one of the competition’s best and most in-form goalkeepers. Up front Irishman Keogh represents a constant threat with his workrate, mobility and ability to finish, even if his goal on Saturday night broke something of a mini drought for him.
Glory have not won in their last seven matches, but they have earned five draws, showing that while they might not be putting teams away at present they remain very difficult to beat.
“We have got to get wins to win the league. If you want to win you have to score goals. We have done very well, we have lost three games all year. We are competitive, we have just got to find that little knack of scoring goals again.
“Wherever the cards fall they fall, we are in as good a spot as anybody. Everybody is beating anybody.”
He was typically unrepentant about his side’s physicality against Victory, when six players were cautioned and a seventh, Mitch Nichols, was sent off.
“We are coming to a cauldron with 20,000 people against the best team in the league. We are not going to wear pink tutus and let them walk around us. It was a top-of-the-table clash, we wanted to win desperately, they wanted to win, everyone cares.”
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