Harold strike gives ECU winning start

Report by Tommy Doleman

ECU Joondalup players congatulate Chris Harold on what proved to be the winner against Gwelup Croatia. Photo by FotoEnzo

ECU Joondalup began their NPLWA Men’s title defence with an impressive 2-1 win over Gwelup Croatia.

Both sides are expected to be in the mix in 2021. But it was last season’s champions who came out on top at the Croatian Sporting Complex on Sunday in another match this weekend whose kick-off time was pushed back because of the heat.

Last season’s Golden Boot winner Danny Hodgson gave the Jacks the lead after only 11 minutes when he controlled a fantastic long pass from Andrew Higgins, took the ball on then sold Gwelup keeper Stefan King a dummy before scoring into an empty net.

Gwelup were carved open again not long after, but Daryl Nicol’s weak shot gave King the chance to save.

It wasn’t all one-way traffic and ECU keeper Johnny Perkins did well to stop Shubham Mokala and Blamo Qua Qua in quick succession.

But Hodgson and Nicol were proving a real handful and the pair linked again to set up the second on 69 minutes as Gwelup’s defence was found wanting. Nicol, back at ECU following two seasons with Bayswater City, slipped the ball forward to Hodgson and he crossed for another new signing, Chris Harold, to shoot first time past King from the edge of the area.

Gwelup pulled one back in stoppage time after Jakub Prajza was penalised for a foul on Hasani Sinclair and Jon Stynes scored from the penalty spot.

But ECU Joondalup deservedly took the win in a game head coach Kenny Lowe felt they controlled “with and without the ball”.

On Saturday, Inglewood United built on their Night Series Final triumph as three first-half goals helped them record a 4-1 win on the road against Armadale.

Kevin Ashwood's early effort was saved comfortably by Alex Dunn, but the visitors took the lead on 13 minutes when Robert Petkov crossed for Steve Sokol to tap in the opener.

Petkov added his name to the scoresheet on 27 minutes as he charged towards goal and rifled brilliantly past Yousri Gharsallah from 25 yards.

Eight minutes later it was 3-0. Andreas Theodosiades was the architect as he drove through midfield and fed Ajak Riak, who curled nicely into the far corner.

2020 top scorer Angel Andres came off the bench for Armadale just before the hour mark and pulled one back quickly when his free kick went through the wall and nestled in Inglewood's net.

But the pre-season winners would not be denied, and they rubber-stamped an opening day win when Sokol latched onto Robert Del Borrello's cross to complete his brace and the 4-1 score line.

Riley Warland scored a late spot-kick as Perth Glory twice came from behind to draw 2-2 against Perth Soccer Club at Dorrien Gardens.

The Azzurri were still smarting from last week's Night Series defeat against Inglewood but made the ideal start when Michael Domfeh collected Calvin Whitney's long pass and bundled the ball past goalkeeper Cameron Cook at the second attempt.

Glory equalised midway through the first half as Ryan Montgomery parried Bryce Bafford's strike from range into the path of Charlie Leech, who had the simple task of tapping home the rebound.

Cameron Teece was making his second NPL WA debut for Perth following a spell with the club in 2017. He nearly restored Perth's lead immediately when he chipped Whitney's through ball against the bar.

Aidan Edwards then rifled a shot over the bar for Glory, while 2020 joint-Gold medal winner Giordano Colli cleared a set-piece off the line as an entertaining first half ended all square.

Perth retook the lead just past the hour mark when Colli tripped Whitney in the penalty area and Teece opened his account for 2021 with an emphatic spot-kick down the middle.

Colli blazed over a good chance moments later but Glory would get their leveller two minutes before time as Bafford was fouled in the box and Warland coolly sent Montgomery the wrong way for a share of the points.

Neil Gillies scored a late winner as Sorrento edged Cockburn City 3-2 in a five-goal thriller at Dalmatinac Park.

Sebastian Da Silva carved out the first opening of the match as he brushed past his marker and forced Joel Driscoll into a near post block.

At the other end, Scott Witschge was denied by an equally good save from Cockburn stopper Luke Radonich, but the deadlock on an entertaining first half would not be broken until 37 minutes in.

Gillies was adjudged to have handballed Dor Jok's shot at goal and Jesse Lazzaro stepped up to score from the penalty spot having scored double figures in the league last season.

But the Gulls would level before half time as Radonich misjudged the flight of Jordan Brown's cross-field ball and Billy Quinncroft poked in at the back post.

Dean Cummings drove an effort wide of the upright and that proved to be a warning sign for Cockburn as Sorrento took the lead soon after.

Play had paused temporarily as the players stopped for a drinks break in the humid conditions, but straight from the restart a long ball went forward from deep, and Brown looped a head over Radonich to make it 2-1.

Cockburn hit back five minutes later though as Daniel Robinson flicked Lazzaro's corner towards goal and Da Silva got the final touch from close range upon challenging Driscoll.

Both teams had chances to win the game, but it was Sorrento who took the three points back up north five minutes into added time.

Riley Woodcock was shown a second yellow card for a foul on halfway and from the ball forward Cockburn failed to clear their lines with Gillies sliding home at the back post.

2020 Finals Series winners Floreat Athena began their season with a 2-1 win at home to Balcatta.

Liam Murray's chip went narrowly over Riley Stephenson's crossbar, but the hosts opened the scoring on 11 minutes when Joshua Anasmo headed in his first senior NPLWA Men’s goal.

The lead only lasted five minutes though as Jawad Rezai found the top corner from Calum O'Connell pull back to net his first goal since joining from Perth SC this off-season.

Rezai was involved again on 36 minutes as he twisted and turned in the area before crossing to Hamza Hina, whose shot went straight into the arms of the grateful Jason Saldaris.

But it was Athena who regained the lead three minutes before the interval as Chris Saldaris' deep cross was headed into the corner by Nick Ambrogio.

Clear-cut chances dried up after the restart as Henry Durr and substitute Amir Ajan tried their luck from distance.

Dean Evans and Ambrogio were both thwarted by Stephenson in the final few minutes as Balcatta tried to push forward for an equaliser, but two goals proved enough for Floreat to secure the opening day spoils.

Finally, Gareth Naven got off to a winning start as Bayswater City head coach as they defeated Rockingham City 3-0 at Frank Drago Reserve.

The home side got off to a perfect start inside five minutes as new signing Ndumba Makeche, who joined from Gwelup in the summer, dinked coolly when through on goal.

Makeche nearly had a quickfire double after linking up with Fraser Dunlop down the left, but Cyril Sharrock was down smartly to deny the former Perth Glory striker.

Dunlop dragged a left footed shot wide of Sharrock's upright before Rockingham's best opening of the half unfolded. Jethro Yumange's cross was just beyond the outstretched leg of Shane Boyle before Luke Collins' strike was blocked and cleared by Bayswater's defence.

But two goals in six minutes before the break gave the home side a decisive buffer. Konstantinos Sparta doubled the lead when he brilliantly scored from a free-kick on the edge of the area, and then Dunlop coolly slotted Makeche's through ball past the goalkeeper for 3-0.

It was an uphill battle for Rockingham after the restart and no comeback would be forthcoming, but Christos Vaenas nearly bagged a spectacular consolation when his acrobatic effort went the wrong side of the post.

Makeche came close to adding a fourth for Bayswater when he rattled the post deep into the stoppage time, but it mattered little as the three-time Men’s NPLWA winners got off to a fast start in 2021.


Armadale 1 Inglewood United 4

Bayswater City 3 Rockingham City 0

Cockburn City 2 Sorrento 3

Floreat Athena 2 Balcatta 1

Gwelup Croatia 1 ECU Joondalup 2

Perth SC 2 Perth Glory 2






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