The Jacks open title defence with win at Gwelup

The Jacks open title defence with win at Gwelup

Posted on March 21, 2021 in 'Reports'

ECU Joondalup began the defence of the NPLWA title with a hard-fought 2-1 win against Gwelup Croatia at Wishart Street on a warm Sunday afternoon.

Danny Hodgson gave us the lead on 11 minutes, before Chris Harold doubled the lead on his NPLWA debut midway through the second half. Gwelup pulled one back deep into stoppage time, with Jon Stynes scoring from the spot, but it was too little too late.

“We knew it would be tough game, they have good players, but we had a game plan and it worked, and we’re delighted to start the season with a win,” midfielder Sami Riak said post match.

“It was a great team performance from us today, and it’s always great to start the season with a win, and to come here and get the result we’ve put a marker down to the rest of the league we will be hard to beat again.”

Head coach Kenny Lowe said it was good start to the season. “We changed our approach for today’s game and it worked, I thought we controlled the game with and without the ball,” he explained.

“We caused them all sorts of problems and great to see Chris (Harold) and Andy (Higgins) cutting in from the flanks, and strikers Danny (Hodgson) and Daryl (Nicol) were a handful for them.

“So, a good performance, just disappointing to not keep a clean sheet, because I thought we deserved one, but the referee spotted something in the area, but it did look a little harsh.”

Lowe gave club NPLWA debuts to Nelson and Jeremy Tshongo, Harold and Jakub Prajza, while there were places in the starting line-up for former players Daryl Nicol and Declan Hughes, both in their second spells at the Campus.

It was the home side who opened up the brighter, and former Jacks’ midfielder Ethan Brooks saw an early effort flash wide, before Stynes picked out Brooks again moments later, but he couldn’t keep his header down.

But on 11 minutes it was the Jacks who opened the scoring. Andy Higgins defence-splitting through ball sent Hodgson clear, and the former Gwelup striker raced into the penalty area, rounded the keeper and rolled the ball home.

It was almost 2-0 four minutes later, Nicol was sent clear by a neat Harold pass, but Gwelup keeper Stefan King got down well to deny him.

King was in the action again on the half hour, this time producing a smart save to deny Sami Riak, as the Jacks pressed for a second.

But keeper Johnny Perkins came to our rescue four minutes later with a great double save.

First, he stood tall to deny Shubham Mokala, before produced a smart save to stop Blamo Qua Qua follow up shot, but at the break it was the Jacks holding a 1-0 advantage.

The Jacks were quickly out of the blocks after the break, and Nicol was thwarted by the alert King, before Hodgson headed over after good work by Harold.

But their good start to the half was rewarded with a second goal on 70 minutes. Riak started the move picking out Nicol in the middle of the park.

He found Hodgson down the right, who crossed to Harold, whose first time shot, clinically found the bottom corner of the net.

Gwelup looked for an immediate response, but Perkins saved well to deny Brooks’ long-range shot, and the Jacks immediately broke on a quick counter attack but Nicol’s through ball was blocked by a desperate Gwelup defender, with Hodgson ready to pounce in the box.

It looked like a clean sheet and three points for Kenny Lowe’s side but Gwelup found a consolation goal deep into stoppage time.

It looked like little danger, when Thomas Southgate crossed into the box, but second half substitute Hasani Sinclair fell under a challenge from Prajza, and referee Michal Jasinski pointed to the spot and booked the Jacks defender.

It looked a little harsh, but Stynes stepped and sent Perkins the wrong way, to set up a grandstand finish. But the Jacks held firm to start their season with three points.

In earlier games Dimitri Phylactou’s under 18s drew 1-1 with Gwelup, while Mark Scanlan’s under 20s went down 1-3 to Gwelup.

The Jacks are back in action next week when we host Armadale at the Campus.

Match Details

Gwelup Croatia 1 (Stynes 90+3’) ECU Joondalup 2 (Hodgson 11’, Harold 70’)

Gwelup Croatia: GK Stefan KING, 2 Ciaran SALINGER, 4 Thomas SOUTHGATE, 5 Blair GOVAN, 6 Declan HARGREAVES, 8 Jon STYNES, 11 Ethan BROOKS (9 Paul ZIMARINO 89’), 13 Rocco PIZZATA (3 Adam FIELDS, 76’) 14 Shubham MOKALA (12 Hasani SINCLAIR 67’), 15 Blamo QUA QUA, 22 Joshua SAMSON (7 Brent GRIFFITHS 76’) – Subs not used: RGK Benjamin RATAJCZAK – Yellow Cards: Southgate 40’, Griffiths 90’

ECU Joondalup: GK Johnny PERKINS, 2 Jeremy TSHONGO, 3 Nelson TSHONGO, 4 Declan HUGHES, 6 Sami RIAK, 7 Danny HODGSON, 9 Daryl NICOL, 10 Andy HIGGINS, 11 Chris HAROLD, 12 Jakub PRAJZA, 16 Shane CASSIDY – Subs not used: RGK Joe POLLARD, 14 Ben HINSHELWOOD, 15 Lewis DAVIS, 17 Harry EVANS, 18 Danny DOUGLAS – Yellow Cards: Hodgson 6’, Prajza 90+3’ – Referee: Michal JASINSKI