Jacks close in on West Australian Top Four Cup

Jacks close in on West Australian Top Four Cup

Posted on August 21, 2016 in 'Reports'

ECU Joondalup’s push into the West Australian Top Four Cup continued on Saturday with a 3-1 win against Cockburn City at the ECU Football Stadium. 

In front of the biggest crowd of the season the Jacks had to come from behind after Jack Adams gave the visitors the lead early, but Steven McGarry’s free kick in first half stoppage time sent them to the break level. Gordon Smith scored from the spot to give them the lead, and the Scottish striker, who has also re-signed for the Jacks next season, scored his second, and 19th goal of the season to seal the win.

Jacks Coach Dale McCulloch said they were lucky to into the break on level terms, but he said in the second half they got their game going. “We were slow out the blocks today, and we spoke on the bench if we can nick one before half time, which we probably didn’t deserve, it would be great,” he said. “So to score just before half time turned the tide a bit. We tried to rush the ball in the first half and we weren’t patient enough, but after the break we moved the ball a lot quicker and looked dangerous and got in some good areas. We created numerous chances and I thought we dominated and got the win. It’s put us in the four now, so it’s now up to us to stay there.”

McCulloch said their Top Four ambitions are in their own hands now.  “We’ll go to Inglewood and try and spoil their party,” he said. “Hopefully we can get a win, because we can still get second, and we can still miss out, so it’s in our own hands now, so next week it’s game on.”

The win stretched ECU’s unbeaten run to 11 games, and Tommy Amphlett said they are playing with confidence, but were scrappy in the first half. “We didn’t play like we have been in the first half, but scoring right on half time gave us a lift,” he said. “I thought we came out after the break and played with confidence and were a completely different team and we got the ball into wide positions a lot quicker and we hurt them and got our rewards.  It’s good to keep the unbeaten run going, and we go into next week’s game at Inglewood looking for the win to go into the finals on a high.”

The Jacks went into the game unchanged from the side that humbled Bayswater City last week, but it was the visitors who made a perfect on 12 minutes. Aden De Luz made ground down the right and whipped in a deep cross, and Adams got ahead of his marker and finished well past Lewis Italiano, who did get a hand to it but couldn’t stop hitting the back of the net.

Cockburn, who were the last team to beat ECU in the league this season, back in Round 10, were well on top and Angel Andres curling shot whistled past the post, before Riley Woodcock’s shot was well saved by Italiano at full stretch. The home side were struggling to find holes in a tight Cockburn defence, well marshalled by skipper Euen Grant, and it looked like the visitors would go into the break with the lead.

But in stoppage time Daryl Nicol was brought down on the edge of the penalty box, and McGarry fired low past Luke Radonich and into the corner of the net, to send the sides in level at the break. Both sides had chances early, Cameron Edwards’ long-range shot was saved by Italiano, before Amphlett’s dangerous low cross was well claimed by Radonich, with Gordon Smith ready to pounce.

The home were now on top and Cockburn had to scramble the ball away after Amphlett’s cross caused panic in the penalty area, before Gordon Smith’s header drifted inches past the far post on the hour. But four minutes later the home side hit the front. Gordon Smith was brought down in the penalty area by Reuben Tristao and referee Tom Glavovic pointed to the spot. The Scottish striker picked himself up to score from the resulting penalty.

It was now one-way traffic as ECU pressed forward, Amphlett’s long-range shot flashed inches past the post, and they had the ball in the net again on 68 minutes, but Shane Pickering’s goal was disallowed for a foul in the penalty area. But seven minutes from time ECU wrapped up the points with a third. Ryan Lowry’s cross from the right wasn’t dealt with by Radonich, and the ball fell kindly to Gordon Smith who scored into an empty net.

Cockburn almost pulled one back in stoppage time, substitute Liam Murray’s header looked goal bound, but a stunning one-handed save from Italiano, a contender for save of the season, denied the striker. The win sets up an intriguing game next week, when ECU travels to league leaders Inglewood United. The home side need the win to secure the title, while Joondalup need the win to make the West Australian Top Four Cup.

Credentia Construction – Man of the Match – Kevin Moon

ECU Joondalup 3 (McGarry 45+1 Mins, Smith 64 pen, 83) v Cockburn City 1 (Adams 12 Mins)

ECU Joondalup: GK Lewis ITALIANO, 2 Ryan LOWRY, 3 Rikki SMITH, 4 Steven MCGARRY, 5 Andy HIGGINS, 6 Shane PICKERING (8 Michael MCDOUGALL 88’), 9 Daryl NICOL, 10 Gordon SMITH, 11 Cian HIRRELL, 13 Tommy AMPHLETT (19 Paddy DOYLE 86’), 17 Kevin MOON – Subs not used: RGK Todd HOYLE, 7 Bayley BROWN-MONTGOMERY, 12 Ryan MCDARBY – Yellow Cards: Lowry 86’

Cockburn City: GK Luke RADONICH, 4 Euen GRANT (C), 5 Riley WOODCOCK, 6. Reuben TRISTAO, 7 Ali GHOLAMI (3 Josh KUSER 71’), 8 Cameron EDWARDS, 9 Angel ANDRES (14 Liam MURRAY 76’), 10 David ARAYA, 13 Blake ADAMS, 16 Daniel DOLS (2 Nathan DE ABREU 46’), 18 Aden DE LUZ – Subs not used: 12 Andrew EMSAVANA, 17 Jesse LAZZARO – Yellow Cards: Dols 41’, Woodcock 46’, Tristao 64’, De Abreu 71’

Referee: Tom Glavovic