Jacks edge out Armadale
Report by Peter Simcox
ECU Joondalup opened their PlayStation4 National Premier Leagues WA account with a hard fought 2-0 win against Armadale at the ECU Football Stadium on Saturday.
Tommy Amphlett gave the home side the lead in the first half, before new Scottish striker Gordon Smith capped his league debut with the second on the hour.
Smith, who two months ago played in front of 25,000 fans in a Scottish FA Cup tie at Ibrox, for Cowdenbeth against Rangers, reveled in the wet and could have had a hat-trick.
But he said it’s good to get his first league goal for the club and most importantly get the win.
“It’s always good to get the first three points of the season, and it’s nice to get on the scoreboard, and I should have a couple more,” he said.
“They (Armadale) beat us well in the Night Series, but I thought we dominated today and could have scored a few more.
“Yes David (Keenan) had to make a couple of good saves at crucial times for us, but I thought we controlled the game and it’s a good start to our home campaign.”
ECU coach Dale McCulloch said it was great to see Smith get off the mark in the league, but he thought the win was built on a solid defensive display.
“It was good win for us, and good for the morale of the side,” he said. “It’s great for Gordy (Smith) to get off the mark, he couldn’t hit a barn door at training on Thursday, but he showed his quality today.
“This win will breed a lot of confidence within the squad, but we had to dig deep today, and I thought we were very good and outstanding defensively. I’ve been very critical of the defence and we’ve conceded too many goals.
“But we’ve worked in training to make us hard to break down, and we switched it around a bit today, and I thought we had a number of leaders out there today, which is pleasing.”
The rain was heavy at kick off, but it didn’t stop both sides going close early.
Bayley Brown-Montgomery tested Armadale keeper Alfie Brincat with a low shot, before Jesse Fuller long-range shot was saved low by ECU custodian David Keenan.
But on 24 minutes the home side opened the scoring. Steven McGarry picked the ball in the middle of the park, and the former Perth Glory midfielder threaded a perfect through-ball into the path of Amphlett, who finished clinically.
It should have been two on the half hour. Amphlett drifted past two Armadale defenders before picking out the unmarked Brown-Montgomery in the box, but the teenager blazed over from 5m.
Armadale ended the half well, and ECU had keeper Keenan to thank for keeping them ahead. First Alex Salmon cut inside his marker, but his curling shot was well saved by the ECU custodian low to his left at full stretch.
But in the final minute the ECU keeper produced a stunning double save to deny the visitors. First Keenan saved low to deny Salmon, but his follow up save to thwart Banin Hasham was even better.
Keenan was at it again after the break, denying Salmon again, before superbly saving Fuller’s header, all in the opening three minutes.
The home side settled and after a one-two with Smith on 57 minutes, Amphlett’s shot from the edge of the penalty area was pushed around a post by Brincat.
But three minutes later ECU doubled their advantage. Good lead up play by Smith and Brown-Montgomery, ended with the youngster sending the Scottish striker into the box, and he held off his marker and drilled his shot low across Brincat into the corner of the net.
ECU almost added third on 79 minutes, McGarry’s free-kick found Smith, whose header crashed off the crossbar and away to safety.
Both sides had late chances. Raveshian Kuppusamy fired wide when well placed for Armadale on 85 minutes, before Josh Booysen shot hit the base of the post for ECU moments later.
ECU Joondalup 2 (Amphlett 25min, Smith 61)
Saturday 26th March 2016
ECU Football Stadium
Referee: Tom Glavovic
Assistants: Stuart Muldoon and Brian McDonald
ECU Joondalup: GK David KEENAN, 2 Ryan LOWRY (C), 3 Joseph JONES, 4 Shane PICKERING, 5 Coire MCGUIGAN, 8 Steven WALMSLEY, 10 Gordon SMITH (16 Jack OLDHAM 90’), 11 Bayley BROWN-MONTGOMERY (15 Josh BOOYSEN 67’), 13 Tommy AMPHLETT (7 Harley ORR 86’), 14 Steven MCGARRY, 18 Henry DURR
Subs not used: RGK Scott WALLIS, 9 Ollie ANNIS
Yellow cards: Walmsley 51’, McGarry 52’, Booysen 76’, Jones 88’
Armadale: GK Alfie BRINCAT, 2 Alex CASTIELLO, 3 Jake SARDELIC, 4 Jesse FULLER, 5 Sam LOVELESS, 7 Banin HASHAM (13 Jackson BEALEY 63’), 8 Caleb DIXON (9 Raveshian KUPPUSAMY 81’), 10 Alex SALMON, 11 Ellis HEALING, 14 Darren FRANCIS (17 Trevor LAURE 81’), 15 Nathan SMITH
Subs not used: RGK Alex RADONICH, 16 Jordan CANDISH
Yellow cards: Nil