Versaico double sinks ECU(by Tim Lefort, Football West)

Versaico double sinks ECU(by Tim Lefort, Football West)

Posted on April 13, 2011 in 'Reports'

Two first half goals from Simon Versaico gave Western Knights an impressive 2-0 victory over ECU Joondalup at the Edith Cowan University campus. Versaico struck twice in the space of seven minutes to maintain the Knights’ unbeaten start to the season and move them into second place on the table, four points behind pacesetters Balcatta. Joondalup’s miserable day at the office was compounded in stoppage-time when Scott Blackmore was dismissed for a second yellow card offence.

There were chances for both teams to take early lead with Stuart Montgomery angling a volley into the side netting before Jordan Dodd’s close-range effort was taken comfortably by Frazer Siddall. The Knights goalkeeper was given a sterner test after 25 minutes when he pushed John Thornley’s effort around the post. The Knights had the lead within two minutes as Versaico made no mistake from 6-metres after Glen Thomas’ speculative effort from the left edge of the 18-yard box deflected his way off a defender.

If there was an element of good fortune about the Knights opening goal, there was nothing lucky about their second after 34 minutes. Montgomery received the ball just inside the Joondalup half and, after playing a neat one-two with Branimir Mikulic, ran the ball to the by-line before delivering a pinpoint cross which a diving Versaico headed into the back of the net. Joondalup worked tirelessly to pull a goal back before the interval but found few holes in a defence under the command of David Annall and Stuart Ferguson.

The few chances of the second period came from the visiting team, Thomas volleying wide from 14-metres before Montgomery failed to get enough power behind his header to seriously test Andy Banks. Joondalup returned fire in the 65th minute via Ian McMurray whose effort following a corner was scrambled off the line. Five minutes later Siddall was forced to get down at his near post to keep out substitute Jordan Withey’s low strike.

The Knights were keen to finish the game as a contest. In the 73rd minute Mikulic pounced on a poor punch by Banks but his hooked shot from close range was cleared of the line by Oliver McGee. Thomas headed onto the roof of the net for the visitors, Versaico volleyed high from 14-metres and substitute Callum Roberts couldn’t direct his header on target from James Morgan’s cross. Blackmore, who had been booked with seven minutes left, was issued his marching order in with just seconds remaining.

Knights assistant coach Alex Christie was delighted with the three points and his side’s performance. “That (two first-half goals) set us up nicely,” said Christie, who called the shots from the sidelines as head coach Carl Medica served suspension in the stands. “We were a bit concerned about the way we were playing in the first half but obviously the two goals were a bonus. In the second half I knew they’d come at us but I thought we were pretty much in control of the game and it was a just result in the end.”