Knowles at the double for The Jacks

Knowles at the double for The Jacks

Posted on August 17, 2019 in 'Reports'

ECU Joondalup striker Joe Knowles has scored a first half brace to seal a vital three points in Saturdays 2-1 win against second placed Floreat Athena at E&D Litis Stadium in week 20 of the NPL WA.

The former Perth Glory fired home the opener early, and doubled the visitors lead before the break. Floreat pulled one back just after the hour, with second substitute Robert Harding on target, and they had the chance to draw level in stoppage time, but Robert Petkov fired his penalty wide. The three points moved Dale McCulloch’s side four points clear of the drop zone, while defeat for Garret McDulling’s side has given Perth SC their 23rd Premier League title, after their 2-0 win at Armadale.

Click here to listen to post-match interviews with Joe Knowles 

Click here to listen to post-match interviews with Nick Koefler

It was the visitors who were on the front foot early and they were ahead on four minutes. Ollie Annis’ ball sent Knowles in on goal and he cleverly lobbed the on-coming Jason Saldaris. Knowles could have had a hat-trick in the opening seven minutes. First Bayley Brown-Montgomery sent the striker clear, but Saldaris denied him, and from the resulting corner the Floreat custodian got down well to thwart him again.

The home side lifted and Johnny Perkins had to be alert to save from Ludovic Boi, then Nick Ambrogio’s shot on the turn flashed wide, before Phil Arnold headed over from Boi’s teasing cross. But on 37 minutes it was ECU who doubled their advantage. Ewan Fawcett’s ball sent Knowles clear, and he raced into goal and finished clinically past Saldaris, much to the delight of the travelling supporters.

It was an even start to the second half, and Knowles curling effort flashed wide, before Petkov fired wide for the hosts. Knowles was in again on 64 minutes, but Saldaris stood tall to deny the striker his hat-trick. But three minutes later the home side found a lifeline, ECU gave the ball away on the edge of the penalty area and Petkov’s cross found Harding who finished low past Perkins. Both sides had chances as the game opened up, Petkov was again denied by Perkins, before debutant defender Luke Rhodes saw his shot well saved by Saldaris.

It looked like the visitors would hang on for the points but in the first minutes of stoppage time Floreat won a penalty. A ball over the top sent Arnold in on goal, but he was brought down by Perkins in the box, despite getting his effort away and Nick Koefler clearing the ball off the line. But referee Josh Mannella brought it back for the foul and pointed to the spot.

Petkov took responsibility for the penalty, but he fired well wide of the target. Floreat pressed late looking for the equaliser but after six minutes of stoppage time the referee blew for full time, to seal a vital win for the northern suburbs club in their fight to avoid relegation.

Floreat Athena: GK Jason SALDARIS, 5 Thomas JEBB (24 Sam THORNLEY 86’), 6 Jesse FULLER, 9 Robert PETKOV, 10 Nick AMBROGIO, 14 Ludovic BOI, 15 Chris SALDARIS (13 George FESTA 45’), 16 Ryan MALTON, 17 Dean EVANS, 18 Phil ARNOLD, 38 Adam FALCONE (32 Robert HARDING 43’) – Subs not used: RGK Jordan BARBAS, 31 Jacob STUBBERFIELD

ECU Joondalup: GK Johnny PERKINS, 3 Nicholas KOEFLER, 5 Luke RHODES (13 Tommy AMPHLETT 87’), 6 Ollie ANNIS, 7 Joe KNOWLES, 8 Josh WHITMORE, 9 Bayley BROWN-MONTGOMERY (11 Lukas DE LIMA 49’), 10 Andy HIGGINS, 12 Billy QUINNCROFT, 14 Ewan FAWCETT, 15 Tom HOUGH – Subs not used: RGK George JACKSON, 2 Ryan MCDARBY, 4 Henry DURR – Referee: Josh Mannella