ECU under 18’s beat Mandurah to top the League

ECU under 18’s beat Mandurah to top the League

Posted on April 22, 2011 in 'News'

ECU Joondalup moved to the top of the All flags Premier League under 18’s table with a 3-0 win against Mandurah City at The ECU arena. (by Trevor Chapman)

After a 7-0 win at Mandurah in the first round of the Cup earlier in the season the boys were probably lulled into believing this might be a walkover, especially after taking the lead after four minutes, but this was a much more resolute Mandurah side than the team who met us in the cup.

ECU came out firing from the very first minute and it was little surprise when Gareth Hamilton opened the scoring on 4 minutes with a sweetly struck first time shot from a delightful low cross from Daniel Dixon.  ECU have typically been slow starters in most games this season, sizing up the opposition in the opening minutes, but not today.  They were 2-0 up after 12 minutes when a nicely taken free kick from the left by Dixon found Jamie Blue at the far post to head home. Was this going to be another high scoring one-sided game?

Alex Davies got in on the action after 28 minutes with a great run down the right wing and a delightful far post cross but the resultant header was blocked by an increasingly determined Mandurah defence.  Then minutes later Centre Back Liam Chapman set off on a long mazy run from defence running half the length of the pitch, but then tried a long range shot which was easily blocked when a pass to a colleague might have been a better option.  Fellow Centre Back Cameron Burgess also went close after 37 minutes when a long free kick from Declan Hargreaves was headed just wide.

After 41 minutes ECU were awarded a penalty after a foul in the box but Hargreaves had his spot kicked well saved by keeper Herd.

The tackling from both sides was ferocious at times and the referee spoke to several players and both sets of coaching staff to calm things down either side of half time.

The tempo of the game slowed a little in the second half with ECU having the majority of possession and certainly never looked troubled in defence and keeper Reid Ahrens rarely touched the ball. ECU were playing the ball out well from the back via Blue, Chapman and Burgess and across the midfield but when it got to the final third we either failed to make the telling pass, failed to support striker Lee James or direct our shots on goal.  Whilst we had lots of possession and several long range efforts we had few clear cut chances.  Gareth Hamilton and Aaron Gordon were controlling central midfield with Jack Strachan, Daniel Dixon and Alex Davies linking up often down the flanks but for all their possession the third goal would not come.

ECU made several changes in the second half giving three U15 squad players, Jack Jones, Ross Millard and Damien Simic another taste of U18 football and the three boys were all immediately involved in the action.  A great run down the left by Cam Burgess and a pin point cross to the far post saw Simic head just wide.

In the 87th minute another foul out on the left wing saw Hargreaves line up a 30 metre free kick and he brought more respectability to the score line with a glorious curling free kick, that dipped just under the crossbar and in at the far post, to seal a 3-0 win for ECU and cement their place at the top of the league.