Mariners shade Glory in a controversial ending
Perth skipper Jacob Burns was left fuming by a late turn of events as his young side suffered a 2-1 loss away to Central Coast in a drama packed-ending to their A-League clash at Bluetongue Stadium.
Midfielder Michael McGlinchey's goal in the sixth minute of stoppage time gave the Mariners' title defence a much needed boost, lifting them two places to fourth.
Glory appeared to have secured a point in the New Year's Eve clash through a 84th minute penalty to Steve McGarry in his 100th appearance for Perth.
Burns got a first yellow card in the 89th minute for persistent infringing and was given another yellow for verbal dissent in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
He had gone off the field for a change of shirt following a bloody head cut he alleged had been caused by an elbow and was then given a second yellow by referee Shaun Evans.
"The officials have to show some commonsense there and tell why you can't go back on, or at least give you an explanation," Burns said.
"I do the right thing, get off as quick as I can to get the game flowing.
"We deserved a point out of that game."
Quizzed for his take on the dismissal, new Perth coach Kenny Lowe said: "It's the first time I've seen a player sent off when he's off the pitch."
Lowe was thrilled by the character displayed by his young side, while Mariners counterpart Phil Moss said the result was down to the belief of his players.
"I thought there was great theatre tonight, I thought the game had a little bit of everything," Moss said.
"If we had come out of it with a point or less I would have been very disappointed, because I thought we were good value for the three points."
It was an eventful game for the Mariners' central defenders, with Zac Anderson and Trent Sainsbury combining for the latter's first A-League goal in the 12th minute, before both were forced off with injury in the second half.
Substitute centre back Marcel Seip was booked for coming onto the field without permission and then gave away the penalty with a foul on Chris Harold. The Mariners had 64 per cent of possession in the first half and were good value for their 1-0 lead at the break.
Sainsbury, whose only previous goal for the Mariners was in an Asian Champions League game, opened his A-League account in his 56th domestic appearance, following a flick from Anderson.
The Mariners created several other first half chances, while Perth occasionally threatened on the counter.
Glory came into the game more in the second half, with Harold prominent and the Mariners struggled to find a telling final ball.
Central Coast Mariners 2 (Trent Sainsbury 12m, Michael McGlinchey 90+7m) Perth Glory 1 (Steven McGarry 84m pen) at Bluetongue Stadium. Crowd: 12,919. Referee: Shaun Evans