|By PADDY HIGGS
Perth coach Alistair Edwards has refused to criticise the refereeing in his side's nail-biting 2-1 loss to Melbourne Victory, but revealed there were some 'angry boys' in the Glory's change rooms following their exit from the A-League finals race.
Glory fell in Friday's elimination final despite taking a first-half lead through Japanese flyer Ryo Nagai, while they also spurned a chance to go 2-0 up in the dying moments when they were awarded a penalty.
But striker Shane Smeltz missed from the spot, with Victory sending the match at Etihad Stadium to extra-time when Mark Milligan converted the hosts' own penalty moments later.
Steve Pantelidis was sent off by referee Jarred Gillett in the aftermath of his foul on Andrew Nabbout for Victory's penalty, with Archie Thompson's header capping his side's comeback in extra-time.
"I feel immense pride in the boys - the way they performed tonight [and] the way they performed over the last eight games," he said.
"To go from bottom [of the A-League table] to playing in such a marvelous game - a finals games.
"I'm really disappointed - there's a few angry boys in the change room. But I'm just disappointed because I think the way we were playing, we probably should have won the game."
When asked about the penalty decision, Edwards said: "By all accounts, it wasn't a penalty, but I'm not here to talk about refereeing decisions. The fact is that we literally should have scored one before."
Edwards - having signed a three-year deal to become Glory's full-time coach in March - said the focus would now turn on the squad ahead of the 2013-14 season.
He revealed the club was keen on keeping on-loan Cerezo Osaka attacker Nagai, who had finished the season impressively after being used sparingly by former coach Ian Ferguson.
Edwards said Argentine midfielder Matias Cordoba, like Nagai, had also expressed his interest in staying at Glory.
"Now we know the ones that are going to fit into our playing style and we've got a few decisions to make over the coming weeks on who's going to stay and what we're doing," Edwards said.
"We've got a lot of former players from Western Australia wanting to come back, so we're looking to try and regenerate the squad."