Jacks host Floreat Athena in Top Four Cup

Jacks host Floreat Athena in Top Four Cup

Posted on September 2, 2016 in 'News'

ECU Joondalup are in West Australian Top Four Cup action this weekend when they host Floreat Athena in the Minor Semi-Final at the ECU Football Stadium on Saturday (3.00pm)

ECU Joondalup Coach Dale McCulloch said all the hard work from the coaches and players has paid off and they are looking forward to the top four finals. “It’s been an outstanding second half to the season from the side, and the players deserve a great deal of credit,” he said.

“They have worked their socks off at training and match days and have been rewarded with a spot in the end of season finals, the first time since 2010, when I was kicking the ball around.” “We started our campaign full of hope and to be honest when we were losing games early it didn’t look good, but the other coaches and I had faith in this player group and we added a couple of experienced players to it and we haven’t looked back.

The Jacks reached Saturday’s Top Four Finals after a last minute stunner from Andy Higgins, direct from a corner, which gave them a 1-0 win against Inglewood United, and McCulloch said it was another top draw performance from the whole side. “We had to defend stoutly and once again our back five stood tall and came away with another clean sheet,” he said. “But saying that we had midfielders and strikers, chasing back to get important challenges in, so once again it was complete team performance and one we will need to repeat on Saturday against a talented Floreat Athena.”

Saturday’s opponents Floreat gave the Jacks a touch up at their place earlier in the season, before we fought out a draw in the rain at our place, and McCulloch said they have a good squad. “They have a strong squad and have quality all over the park, but we are in a good place at the moment, and know we can beat anyone in the league if we play our best,” he explained. “We’ve trained the house down this week, and the players are determined to win today and will be doing all we can to get the job done.”

Assistant Coach David Tough said they are playing some good football and looking to keep their unbeaten run going. “Everyone at the club is delighted with making the finals and the performances in the second half of the season,” he said. “After round ten it looked nearly impossible but going 12 games undefeated in a league where anyone can beat anyone, is some achievement.”

The win at Inglewood was pleasing for Tough, as he has a lot of respect for Coach Taki Nicolaidis. “We knew we would up for a battle, as all of Taki’s teams are always so well drilled and there squad is full of big powerful experienced players so we knew it was going to be a tight game and one goal could win it,” he explained. “They threw everything at us but Lewis (Italiano) and the back four stepped up again and got us another clean sheet, it was a great day for the club, but we aren’t finished yet.”

The club have given youngsters the opportunity this season and Tough said they have played their part in the clubs success. “With having such a strong and established academy ECU will always promote from within, and we’ve done that this season, and those players will benefit from the game time they received going forward,” he said. “You only have to look at our club captain Ryan Lowry and Andy Higgins, they seem to have been around for ages but are still both only 21, so like I said we are really happy with the contribution from the younger lads.”

Tough said Floreat have had the better of them in games this season, but the Scotsman knows Finals football is completely different. “To be fair Floreat have had the better of us over the two games so far this season, so will rightly go into the game as favourites. They have quality players and match winners throughout their whole squad,” he said.

“We do go into the game full of confidence and we know our boys are fit and will give everything to get the result. Having home advantage and being cheered on by another big crowd will be a big help, and there is a buzz around the club at the moment and the lads can’t wait for Saturday.”