Thornley triple downs The Lions

Thornley triple downs The Lions

Posted on August 2, 2011 in 'Reports'

ECU Joondalup 4 Stirling Lions 2 – by Football West Reporter Neil Sherwin

A John Thornley hat trick saw ECU Joondalup claim a 4-2 win over a lacklustre Stirling Lions side on Saturday afternoon, in the process relieving their relegation worries. (photo by Brett Kluzcnik)

Thornley was impressive all afternoon playing as the lone striker and after the game manager Syd Amphlett spoke highly of the striker.

“John’s had to carry to burden really because we haven’t had that second striker,” he said.

“We’ve relied on him to score the goals and for whatever reason that hasn’t happened but he scored three today and could’ve had a few more so yeah I’m delighted.”

ECU were the better side during the opening exchanges, and were given the perfect chance to open to scoring when Thornley was adjudged to have been fouled in the area. The striker dusted himself off to take the resulting spot kick, however his effort was well saved by Cory Hugo. Home supporters were relieved though when the rebound fell kindly to the number nine and he finished easily.

It took 16 minutes for Stirling to muster a chance of any note but Ludo Boi’s shot was straight at Andy Banks. At the other end, Scott Blackmore came close to doubling ECU’s lead but his low left foot strike flew just past the post.

Stirling continued to try gain a foothold in the game and their best move of the half came after 20 minutes. A neat ball by Michael Pugliese released Jamie De Abreu down the left and the winger cut inside before delivering a great cross to the back post. The ball was met by the onrushing Dave Hunt but his volley under pressure went over.

While the Lions probed and tried to get in behind ECU, the hosts continued to create better chances with Charlie Comyn-Platt forcing Hugo into an excellent reflex save following a goal mouth scramble.

The second goal came on 40 minutes as once again ECU were awarded a penalty. Great work in the left corner by Jake Benson-Cooper gave Scott Bushby the chance to fire in a shot on goal. His effort struck Bobby Wilson on the hand and referee Hugh Best pointed to the spot. Thornley once again stepped up and calmly converted to leave Joondalup two goals to the good at half time.

Things got even better for ECU within two minutes of the restart when centre half Mark Rodgers added a third, firing home John Higgins’ corner having been left unmarked.

Desperate to change the flow of the game, Stirling changed to a 3-5-2 formation. However they fell even further behind just after the hour mark when Thornley completed his hattrick. Lions skipper Jason Gavin lost the ball in midfield, allowing Blackmore to release Thornley who slotted home at the second attempt following another good save by Hugo.

With the game all but over at this point, Stirling did manage to trouble the scoreboard twice before the full time whistle. First Jamie Watt finished superbly from Phil O’Callaghan’s cross to make it three goals in his last two games. Then in the final minute Watt returned the favour, feeding his strike partner O’Callaghan who buried a header past Banks.

ECU boss Amphlett was satisfied with both the result and the manor of the team’s performance.

“The boys have been playing really well and we haven’t been putting the ball in the net and it was important to get the first goal and settle them down but then we just totally dominated the game,” he said.

“They’ve been up for it every week but we just haven’t put our chances away and today we did.”

The win gives ECU breathing space over both Armadale SC and Mandurah City, with Cockburn still rooted firmly to the bottom of the table.

ECU Joondalup: GK Andy BANKS, 4 Charlie COMYN-PLATT, 5 Marc RODGERS, 6 Scott BUSHBY, 7 John HIGGINS,  8 Scott BLACKMORE, 9 John THORNLEY, 11 Tom JONES, 10 Jake BENSON-COOPER,  17 Ryan MCDARBY (Luke SMITH 77’), 18 Dale MCCULLOCH. – Substitutes not used: GK Bryn HINDLEY, 14 Jordan DODD, 15 Jared MCNALLY, 16 Shane PICKERING.

Yellow Cards: Jake BENSON-COOPER 79’, Tom JONES 91’.

Stirling Lions: GK Cory HUGO, 2 Michael PUGLIESE, 3 Dave HUNT (16 Robeto LUJAN 56’), 4 Jason GAVIN, 5 Mitchell Crocker (11 Luke WOODARD 46’), 6 Clayton ARNEZ, 7 Jamie DE ABREU (15 Tim HILL 66’), 8 Bobby WILSON, 9 Jamie WATT, 10 Phil O’CALLAGHAN, 14 Ludovic BOI.- Substitutes not used: RGK Connor CAMPBELL.

Yellow Cards: Cory HUGO 6’, Jamie DE ABREU 28’, Bobby WILSON 40’, Michael PUGLIESE 83’.

Referee: Hugh Best