ECU win Night Series opener

ECU win Night Series opener

Posted on February 1, 2016 in 'Reports'

ECU Joondalup have begun their 2016 QBE Night Series off in style, with a 5-2 win against Balcatta at Percy Doyle Reserve on Sunday evening.

First half goals to Gordon Smith, Paul Miller and Oliver Annis, put The Jacks in control. Zelfy Nazary pulled one back for Balcatta just after the hour from the penalty spot, but Steven McGarry added another for ECU moments later. Debaba Mtwale scored Balcatta’s second late on but Annis added his second to finish off the scoring eight minutes from time. (Photo – The ECU players celebrate Gordon Smith’s opener – Photo by Vince Caratozzolo/www.fotoenzo.com)

ECU Coach Dale McCulloch was happy with the performance but said it’s still early days. “A good performance tonight, but it’s still early days. The goals we conceded were disappointing and something we will need to work on,” he said. “Really pleased to get a got good start, we were a little scratchy at first but the longer the game went we sorted it out and it’s good for the new boys to fit really well.”

The coach was pleased the way the new signing fitted in, and said they will get better. “I thought they were all very good tonight, the two lads from the UK are still learning that the game is a little bit different over here to back in the UK, but both put in good shifts tonight,” he said. “Gordon showed tonight what he’s all about he led the line well and his work rate is first class, and Joseph was solid alongside the skipper (Ryan Lowry) so the signs were good, but like I said it’s early days and we have a long way to go.”

Young midfielder Annis came off the bench after only seven minutes, with Jay Marsden coming off with a head injury, and he was happy to help the side to victory. “We’ve worked hard in the pre-season and it was nice to get a first win tonight,” he said. “It was unfortunate for Jay to come off but I worked hard and I was happy with my performance and of course the two goals, it shows the good squad we have at the club at the moment but like the gaffer said it’s still early days and we need to keep improving.”

The youngster wrapped up the game with a stunning free kick late in the game, and said he’s in the queue to take the next one. “Paul (Miller) and Steven (McGarry scored quality free kicks as well, so I’ll be down the pecking order,” he joked. “We’ve got a number of new faces in the squad this season, so it’s all about getting used to way each other plays, and tonight is only the first game of the season, but it’s good to win.”

McCulloch had new signings Dave Keenan, Joseph Jones, Jack Oldham, Jay Marsden, Gordon Smith, Steven McGarry and Josh Booysen in the starting line-up and they were on the front foot early. Smith was denied early, by keeper Clint Davies, before on five minutes Booysen’s curling shot crashed off the post.  Balcatta went close themselves on 23 minutes, after sloppy play at the back left Cameron Teece in on goal, but his lob from the edge of the penalty area drifted inches past the post.

ECU was well in control, and three minutes later ECU hit the front. Oldham’s deep cross found Smith, who headed superbly back across Davies and into the net via the post. It was one-way traffic as ECU pressed, and Smith and Booysen were a constant threat, and on the half hour they added a second. Smith was bundled over 25-yards from goal, and Miller fired home the resulting free kick superbly into the top corner of the net, giving Davies no chance.

Balcatta were defending desperately, as ECU looked for a third, and two minutes later ECU pressure was rewarded. Smith was involved again, the Scottish striker raced into the box, and with the goal at his mercy, his shot crashed off the crossbar, but Annis fired home the rebound from 18-yards. They went within inches of a fourth on the stroke of half time; Miller’s free kick beat Davies, but the crossbar came to the Balcatta custodian’s rescue, but ECU went into the break 3-0 to the good.

It was a good start to the second half by Balcatta and on 69 minutes they reduced the margin, with Nazary converting from the penalty spot. It was the best period of the game for Balcatta but skipper Ryan Lowry, and new Welsh defender Joseph Jones were both working overtime. But seven minutes later ECU regained their three goal lead. The lively Booysen was bundled down on the edge of the penalty area, and McGarry curled home the free kick.

Some sloppy defending let Balcatta in again sixty seconds later, Hanafi Ghazalli crossed to the unmarked Mtwale, who scored from close-range. But ECU put the icing on the cake on 82 minutes, when they added a fifth. Smith was brought down on the right of the penalty area, and Annis curled the free kick into the top corner of the net, to end a good performance from the youngster, and a first up win in the pre-season competition.

Match details:

Balcatta 2 (Nazary 69’pen, Mtwale 77’)

ECU Joondalup 5 (Smith 25’, Miller 30’, Annis 32’, 82’, McGarry 82’)

Balcatta – GK Clint DAVIES, 2 Hanafi GHAZALLI, 3 Kieron STALLARD, 5 Conor KAVANAGH, 6 Jonathan CORNESS, 7 James SAMMUT (c), 9 Cameron TEECE, 10 Zelfy NAZARY (8 Patrick SARA 79’), 11 Feisal ZAW (13 Hasan EL YASSIRI 61’), 12 Eamon MCNELLS, 17 Keiran COLWELL (18 Debaba MTWALE 70’) – Subs not used:, 14 Luke RANDAZZO, 15 Marc DE FRANCESCH – Yellow Cards: Nazary 43’, Corness 61’, McNells 75’, Teece 88’, Kavanagh 90’

ECU Joondalup – GK Dave KEENAN, 2 Ryan LOWRY (c), 3 Ronald RIXER, 4 Joseph JONES, 5 Jack OLDHAM, 6 Paul MILLER (16 Shane PICKERING 58’), 7 Jay MARSDEN (13 Oliver ANNIS 7’), 9 Gordon SMITH, 10 Jake BENSON-COOPER (12 Bayley BROWN-MONTGOMERY 73’), 11 Josh BOOYSEN, 14 Steven MCGARRY – Subs not used: RGK Jamie SERRA, 15 Kye DOUGLAS – Yellow Cards: McGarry 69’