ECU Joondalup v Stirling Lions – Preview

ECU Joondalup v Stirling Lions – Preview

Posted on July 8, 2016 in 'News'

It’s week 16 of the PS4 National Premier League WA, and the Jacks host the in-form Stirling Lions at the ECU Football Stadium.

Stirling last lost in Round 11, while the Jacks haven’t lost since that round, so Saturday’s game should be a cracker. ECU skipper Ryan Lowry said they were disappointed not to come home with three points at Perth SC last week, but he said they are building momentum. “Realistically it should have been three points for us, as I thought we dominated the game,” he said. “We created some excellent chances and on another day we could have had three or four, but we’ll take the point and move on to Stirling.”

Lowry and his fellow defenders have been in outstanding form and have kept five consecutive clean sheets, which is an NPL record, but he said they are expecting a tough challenge against the inform Lions. “It’s another good test for us and hopefully we can continue our good form and collect all the spoils,” he said. “Stirling have some dangerous players which we will need to watch, but we also have a lot of quality in our side so will be an entertaining game.”

Coach Dale McCulloch said last week’s draw at Perth, could have been different. “Last week we came away from Dorrien Gardens, disappointed we hadn’t won the game, but we did dominate and had the chances to win it, but it shows how far we’ve come, and we need to produce another strong performance against a good Stirling Lions side on Saturday.”

McCulloch said they are heading in the right direction, but need to maintain the standards they have set. “We have been on a good run of form recently, and haven’t conceded in the last five games, and that’s been down to a solid defence, led superbly by skipper Ryan Lowry and new signing Rikki Smith, with Cian Hirrell and Andy Higgins also playing well, and behind them Lewis Italiano has made a huge difference too.” he explained.

“We’ve improved as a team in those five games with the players working extremely hard to bring what we want to this club, and that’s success, the players have set the standard and need to maintain it for the rest of the season.” In team news Jayden Drummond will miss again, while Jon Higgins and Kevin Moon will face late fitness tests.

Lions’ keeper John Perkins said they are playing with confidence at the moment and last week’s win against Cockburn continued their good form. “I thought last week we were pretty comfortable throughout and deserved the three points,” he said. “The team has gone out and performed like the coaches have asked of us, and we controlled the pace of the game and kept their chances to a minimum because of it.”

Perkins is expecting another tough game, and he said Joondalup have been one of the big improvers this season. “We are expecting a tough game this Saturday, as they (ECU) seemed to have turned a corner, and are producing some convincing wins,” he explained. “If it is like our last encounter it will be a physical game and I’ve no doubt both teams will be aiming for the three points and it should be a good game.”

Brodie Martin is back to full fitness and is line for a recall to the Lions starting eleven, but Michael Pugliese is in doubt with injury.