Jacks NPL-WA top four march continues

Jacks NPL-WA top four march continues

Posted on August 11, 2018 in 'Reports'

ECU Joondalup have kept their NPL-WA top four hopes alive after a gritty 2-1 win against Balcatta at Grindleford Reserve on Saturday afternoon.

A stunning early strike from skipper Daryl Nicol set us on our way, and he added a second after half time to put us in control. But a Hayden Stevens goal with 14 minutes remaining made it a very tense final finish, and Balcatta had a goal disallowed with the last kick of the match, but we hung for three valuable points.

Click here to listen to Head Coach Dale McCulloch and skipper Daryl Nicol’s post-match interviews.

McCulloch made four changes to the side that beat Forrestfield United last week, with keeper Jack Nunn coming in for Johnny Perkins, while Gordon Smith, Josh Whitmore and Lukas De Lima came in for Cameron Murray, Brad McDonald, while Ethan Brooks dropped to the bench.

We went into the game on a good run of form, and looking for three points to keep the pressure on the teams above us, and we made the perfect start, taking the lead after only six minutes. Smith played Steven McGarry down the left and his cross picked out Nicol on the edge of the box, and his stunning volley flew into the top corner of the net giving Kyle McDonald no chance, for a contender for the goal of the season.

We went close to a second moments later, Andy Higgins’ corner headed just over the top by Smith, who looked lively on his return to the side after suspension. The home side settled and went close five minutes later, but Alex Wild’s long-range shot flashed over the top, before Asher Nelson fired straight at Nunn.

We were creating some good chances and Higgins was a constant threat down the left, and on 20 minutes he played in De lima, whose shot on the run fizzed over the top. Moments later Smith sent Nicol in again, but McDonald was out bravely to save at the strikers’ feet. Smith and Nicol combined again on the half hour, but the skippers lob landed on top of the net.

Balcatta ended the half well and Nicholas Challot’s glancing header from Robert Del Borrello’s teasing cross whistled just past the past, before Asher Nelson fired straight at Nunn, but at the break we held a 1-0 lead.

We were on the front foot after half time, and Cian Hirrell’s cross found an unmarked Nicol at the back post, but his header was superbly saved McDonald. Smith was working overtime as the Jacks looked for a second and it nearly came on 52 minutes. The Scottish striker raced down the left and his cross into the box was inches away from the diving McGarry in the six-yard box.

The Jacks pressure was finally rewarded with a second goal on 66 minutes. A ball into the penalty was dummied by Smith, leaving an unmarked Nicol at the back post and he finished clinically past McDonald.

It looked game over, but Balcatta had other ideas and they reduced the margin ten minutes later. Del Borrello’s cross was headed home by Stevens at the back post. We went close to regaining the two-goal lead two minutes later, when Tom Hough got on the end of an Adam Tong knock down, but the youngsters’ shot was well saved by the Balcatta custodian.

Balcatta pressed late, and they had a penalty claim turned down when the ball seemed to hit the arm of ECU defender Ross Millard, but referee Matthew Southern was well placed to wave away their protests.

Then in the fifth minute of stoppage time Balcatta thought they had levelled. A shot was saved low by keeper Nunn, but he could only parry the initial shot, and he managed to regain the ball, and in a goalmouth scramble Stevens fired home. But the referee deemed he had kicked the ball out of the hands of the keeper and disallowed the goal, much to the frustration of the home faithful.

The win moved the Jacks to fifth on the table, and they have the same points as fourth placed Bayswater, so with two games to go a top four spot is in their sights. In other results on the day at Balcatta, the under 18’s were beaten 4-2, while the under 20’s maintain top spot after a 4-0 win.

Match Details 

Balcatta 1 (Stevens 76’) ECU Joondalup 2 (Nicol 6’, 66’)

Balcatta: GK Kyle MCDONALD, 3 Hayden STEVENS, 5 Tom PELLIZZARI, 7 Asher NELSON (2 Joseph MARINO 79’), 8 Carmelo GIUFFRE, 9 Alex WILD, 10 Jonathan CORNESS (C), 11 Nicholas CHALLOT, 18 Robert DEL BORRELLO, 20 Shubham MOKALA (21 Rene ALBA 81’), 24 Tom LOGAN (14 Lawrence SHURAMA 63’) – Subs not used: RGK Damien STANOEVSKI, 16 Dougal KINDNESS – Yellow cards: Giuffre 11’, Nelson 77’

ECU Joondalup: GK Jack NUNN, 2 Cian HIRRELL, 3 Ross MILLARD, 4 Steven MCGARRY, 5 Adam TONG, 7 Tom HOUGH, 8 Josh WHITMORE, 9 Daryl NICOL (C), 10 Gordon SMITH, 11 Andy HIGGINS, 13 Lukas DE LIMA (17 Ethan BROOKS 75’) – Subs not used: RGK George JACKSON, 12 Ryan MCDARBY, 16 Liam MURRAY, 18 Ronald RIXER – Yellow cards:  Hirrell 58’, Smith 67’ – Referee: Matthew Southern