Pritchard special seals points for Perth
Report by Daryn McCleave
Mark Pritchard turned super-sub to strike the all-important second goal as Perth continued their excellent away form, upsetting Balcatta with a 2-1 win to keep pace with the chasing pack at the top of the National Premier Leagues WA table.
Aden Da Luz slotted home right on half-time to give Perth the lead, before Pritchard entered the fray from the sideline to clinically dispatch a 25-yard free-kick in the 80th minute to extend the lead. However, a late curling effort from the hosts own super-sub, Benny Kouakou, ensured Perth had a nervous wait to celebrate the points.
Perth coach Taki Nicolaidis thought his side deserved to take all three points.
"I thought we had most of the control in the game, I didn't think they were dangerous,” he said.
“It was only when we went 2-0 up they pushed an extra man forward and looked dangerous. But overall over the 90 minutes I thought we were the better team.”
It was obviously a different story from the home coaching staff, with Balcatta boss Ramon Falzon furious with his side's first half showing.
"I'm disappointed with the defeat, but even more disappointed we wasted the first 45 minutes. We didn't turn up,” he said.
"We created some chances in the second half, but wasted the first half entirely. If we'd played for the full 90 minutes it would have been much a different story.”
Both coaches were quick to praise their respective teams' defensive efforts, especially in a first half where chances were few and far between before Da Luz's opener.
Perth certainly had the lion’s share of the ball and the game had been crying out for a goal, when in the first minute of time added on at the end of the half, a cross out on the right by Nicholas Ambrogio evaded the attention of Friday Zico and the Balcatta defence, before landing at the feet of Da Luz who coolly picked his spot beyond the reach of 'keeper Clint Davies' left hand.
Balcatta came out strong after the break, but were almost caught out when Ambrogio raced clear only to see Davies get down superbly to push his low shot away. The hosts responded with a snap shot from Adam Tong straight at the largely untroubled Perth stopper Alex Dunn.
Ambrogio was in the thick of it again, going down in the box in what appeared to be a clumsy tackle from Kieran Colwell, but the referee was having none of the visitors' rather loud appeals.
But Perth did find the breathing space they were after with 10 minutes on the clock, when following a foul on Zico, Mark Pritchard stepped up and struck his effort into the top right corner, with Davies rooted to his spot.
And a few minutes later it could have been three, Davies this time reacting well to push away another shot from Pritchard.
Balcatta though did finally manage to put together a spell of intense pressure, danger man Gustavo Catarcione scuffing wide with the goal at his mercy, moments before his surging run and ball to Kouakou, who cut inside and unleashed a tremendous curling effort past the despairing dive of Dunn, made it an interesting last three minutes.
But despite pumping as many long balls into the box as they could, Balcatta failed to find an equaliser they would scarcely have deserved.
BALCATTA 1 (Benny KOUAKOU 90+1)
PERTH 2 (Aden DA LUZ 45+1, Mark PRITCHARD 80)
Saturday 12th April, 2014
Grindleford Reserve, Balcatta
REFEREE: Trent FLESKENS
CROWD: Approx. 400
BALCATTA: 1. Clint DAVIES, 12. David CYRUS, 3. Kieron STALLARD, 5. Adam TONG, 6. Luke RANDAZZO (14. Benny KOUAKOU 67'), 7. James SAMMUT, 8. Gustavo CATARCIONE 9. Carlo COELHO (16. Ben MEREDITH 72') 10. Marc DE FRANCESCH 17. Kieran COLWELL, 20. Patrick QUINN (19. Matt IZZO 51')
SUBS NOT USED: 21. Daniel PASSARELLI, 18. Marc ZAGAMI
BOOKINGS: Carlo COELHO 61'
PERTH: 1. Alex DUNN, 2. Josh WILKINS, 4. Craig SIMPSON, 13. Alex CASTIELLO, 20. James MAROCCHI (7. Liam BOLAND 82'), 19. Andreas THEODOSIADES (14. Mark PRITCHARD 56'), 6. Clark KELTIE, 8. Aden DA LUZ, 15. Mitch DONINGER, 9. Friday ZICO, 16. Nicholas AMBROGIO (12. Tim ROBERTSON 72')
BOOKINGS: 16. Nicholas AMBROGIO 36', Clark KELTIE 38'