ECU Joondalup 2016 PS4NPLWA Season in Review (Part 2)

ECU Joondalup 2016 PS4NPLWA Season in Review (Part 2)

Posted on October 7, 2016 in 'News'

At the half way point of the season The Jacks sat in ninth place on the PS4NPLWA table, and were looking to improve in second half. We now look back on the second half of the season and review the highs and lows of the season that was.

The first game in the second half of the season was a local derby against Sorrento at the ECU Football Stadium in Week 12. New signing Rikki Smith, Jayden Drummond, Kevin Moon and Jon Higgins came out of retirement to start, and Gordon Smith bagged a brace with Tommy Amphlett also on target as The Jacks buried their opening day loss against the Gulls with a 3-0 win.

They then had three away games, first up it was somber day at Armadale when the Jacks players stood as one in minutes silence for their team mate Steven McGarry, whose father Thomas who passed away in the week. Gordon Smith scored the winner as they left Alfred Skeet Reserve with a 1-0 win.

Next up we travelled to Rosalie Park to take on Subiaco. Another brace to Gordon Smith and a first goal for new signing Daryl Nicol, and another fantastic defence display saw the Jacks return home with a solid 3-0 win, the momentum was now with the Jacks and assistant Coach David Tough said the Joondalup train was on the move.

The next game was against top four side Perth SC at Dorrien Gardens, and despite dominating they couldn’t find the goal their performance deserved and they had to settle for a 0-0 draw. Jacks keeper Lewis Italiano and his back four set a new NPL record after not conceding a goal for five consecutive games.

We returned home in week 16 to take on another top 4 side, Stirling Lions. The Jacks raced to a two goal lead at the break with a double from Daryl Nicol but the Lions hit back and levelled in the second half. It looked like the points would be shared but an Andy Higgins free kick deep into stoppage time was turned home by Gordon Smith to win it.

The weather was the winner in week 17 after the home game against Floreat Athena was abandoned after the heavy rain made the pitch unplayable with both sides taking a point a piece. It was one that got away for the Jacks, after leading 2-0 with goals from Gordon Smith and Tommy Amphlett, but Floreat scored just before half time and were given a dubious penalty in the second half to take home a point.

Next up it was a trip to Grindleford Reserve to take on Balcatta. Marc Anthony’s side had thrashed the Jacks in the reverse fixture but we got some revenge for that loss with a 3-0 win. Second half goals to Gordon Smith, Shane Pickering and Kevin Moon, moved the Jacks up to sixth and made it eight games without defeat, the ECU train was picking up speed.

In week 19 Perth Glory youngsters visited the ECU Football Stadium. A game were they weren’t at their best, but some good saves from Lewis Italiano and another solid defensive performance kept the Glory at bay, and Gordon Smith scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot late in the game to seal a 1-0 win.

The week 20 clash saw The Jacks visit 2015 League Champions Bayswater City, and a win would take them into the top five for the first time this season. We had to withstand the home sides’ pressure early but Daryl Nicol sent us into the break with the lead. Then a second half brace from Gordon Smith wrapped up a 3-0 win, and it put on notice the rest of the league we were the real deal.

In our final home game of the season we took on Cockburn City and found ourselves behind early, but Steven McGarry levelled just before half time. But a second half brace from Gordon Smith won it for the Jacks, in front of the biggest crowd of the season – over 600 supporters.

So it came down to the final game of the season and we needed a win at Inglewood United to seal a spot in the West Australian Top Four Cup. The home side needed a win to win the league, but the Jacks hit late to win it, with Andy Higgins’ in-swinging corner going straight into the net to set of wild celebrations on and off the pitch and set up a home Elimination Final against Floreat Athena. The only downside to the win was the injury to Gordon Smith, which ended the season for the striker.

It was the first time since 2014 that the Jacks had made the end of season Finals and the clash against Floreat turned out to be a classic. Floreat led 2-0 at the break, but two early second half goals from Paddy Doyle and Rikki Smith levelled. Floreat hit the front again and it looked like the season was over, but Shane Pickering scored deep into injury time to take the game to extra time. Floreat hit the front again early in extra time but goals to substitute Michael McDougall and Daryl Nicol gave the Jacks a sensational victory in front of nearly 1,000 supporters.

We then meet Inglewood at the Inglewood Stadium to take on Perth SC in the Top Four Grand Final, and it started the Jacks leading 2-0 at the break with Michael McDougall and Paddy Doyle on target. Inglewood hit back after the break to even things up, but Bayley Brown-Montgomery regained the lead in extra time, but Inglewood levelled five minutes from time and won the shoot-out 6-5. It brought an end to a fantastic second half of the season the Jacks showing the rest of the league they are back, and we will be looking for more of the same in 2017.