Perth shocks Central Coast 2-1 in A-LeagueAP , Associated Press
Feb. 17, 2013 3:46 AM ET
SYDNEY (AP) — Alistair Edwards began his tenure as coach of the Perth Glory by leading his last-placed team to a 2-1 win over first-placed Central Coast in the A-League on Saturday.
Edwards took over as coach in the week before the match, after the firing of Ian Ferguson who led Perth to last year's grand final but had been unable to rouse it from an eight-match winless streak.
Perth went a goal down when Bernie Ibini scored for Central Coast after only 13 minutes. But Edwards' decision to start Nick Ward in midfield - the only change from Ferguson's last match in charge - paid dividends when Ward set up acting captain Travis Dodd for the equalizer.
New Zealand striker Shane Smeltz scored the winner, heading home a right wing cross from defender Josh Risden in the 61st minute.
"I couldn't be prouder of the players," Edwards said. "We worked on a few things during the week and it was really pleasing to not only get the three points, but the performance.
"We controlled the game for large parts, particularly in the second half, up against a really good Central Coast Mariners that caused us a lot of problems in the first half.
"As the game progressed, we just got stronger and stronger."
Central Coast's third loss in 21 matches trimmed its lead atop the A-League ladder to only one point over newcomer Western Sydney, which beat the Melbourne Victory for its sixth-straight win.
Western Sydney has won 13 matches this season compared with Central Coast's 12 wins and has moved five points clear of the third-placed Victory.
Iacopo La Rocca and Japan star Shinji Ono scored as Western Sydney inflicted the Victory's second straight loss and its first home defeat since its opening-round loss to derby rivals the Melbourne Heart.
"They don't always match, performances and results," Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic said. "But we continue with a long run of games now where we've been performing well."
Western Sydney's six-match winning streak is the best in the league this season.
Sydney FC beat fourth-placed Adelaide United for a record fifth straight home win to continue its steady climb up the ladder after its troubled start.
Terry Antonis and Blake Powell scored second-half goals to improve Sydney to fifth spot in the standings with six regular-season games to play.
Sydney's star recruit, Alessandro Del Piero, hit the left post with a curling, 30-meter free kick not long after halftime, before Antonis struck in the 49th minute with his first A-League goal.
Sydney kept up the pressure with Del Piero forcing a save from goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic, and Powell extended the lead from a corner in the 66th.
Tom Juric scored for Adelaide 12 minutes later.
"It's pleasing but, although I'm getting tired of saying it, we're just playing it week by week," Sydney coach Frank Farina said. "The next two weeks will be critical.
"We've got two away games against the Heart and Perth. It's great we've got three points but we just move on."
On Sunday, Sydney signed Australia captain Lucas Neill for the remainder of the season.
Former England striker Emile Heskey scored as Newcastle beat the Melbourne Heart 2-0 to move back into the top six. Heskey opened the scoring after 10 minutes with a powerful strike and Ryan Griffiths sealed the win with a goal 10 minutes from fulltime.
Coach Gary van Egmond paired Heskey with compatriot Michael Bridges for the first time this season, starting the former Premier League pair behind Australia international Adam Taggart. The tactical change paid off as Newcastle looked much more dangerous in front of goal.
On Sunday, defending champion Brisbane beat Wellington 2-0 to leave the New Zealand side anchored at the bottom of the table.