Perth hit back to take the spoils at Joondalup
Report by Peter Simcox
Pictured: Perth SC striker Gustavo Catarcione and ECU defender Andy Higgins in action. Photo: Peter Simcox
Perth Soccer Club maintained their 100 percent start to the PS4 National Premier Leagues WA season with a come-from-behind 2-1 win against ECU Joondalup at the ECU Football Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
It was a classic game of two halves, with Scottish striker Gordon Smith giving a dominate home side the lead at the break, but Perth hit back and second half goals to Gustavo Catarcione and Dino Topcagic gave them a hard fought win.
Perth coach Gareth Naven said it was resilient performance from his side and he thought they deserved the points.
“We were a little bit off the pace in the first half, but after the break we worked harder and I’m really happy the boys showed some fight, and that really important in any team,” he said.
“We’ve given opportunities to some younger players this season and today proves they can cope in the NPL.”
Naven also praised the experienced players in the side, who were vital in the win.
“We have some senior players within the group who led by example today,” he said.
“They are vital to mentor the younger players, both on and off the field to make sure the standards we set are kept, and they really stood up today when they came at us and as a coach that’s is pleasing.”
The winner came from 20-year-old Topcagic, his first NPLWA goal for the club.
“It wasn’t our best performance today, and we had to grind out the three points today,” Topcagic said.
“I was happy to pop with the winner, but when you have the quality in your side like we do chances are always going to come it’s just a matter of taking them, and luckily I did today.”
The home side were out of the blocks early, buoyed by back-to-back home wins, and they were ahead on eight minutes.
Steven McGarry’s well-timed through- ball sent Smith racing clear of his marker, he rounded the keeper and fired home, his third goal in as many matches for the club.
It was one-way traffic and moments later Joseph Jones’ header was cleared off the line.
Then on 14 minutes ECU suffered a huge blow, losing keeper David Keenan with a bad knee injury, and he was replaced by Scott Wallis.
Perth had now settled and began to get in the game, and Wallis was called into action ten minutes later, superbly saving Topcagic snap-shot.
Smith was constant threat to the Perth defence. The former Heart of Midlothian striker combined with Tommy Amphlett on 40 minutes to set up McGarry, whose shot flashed wide.
Then in stoppage time Smith and McGarry combined to send Amphlett into goal, the former Perth Glory midfielder was caught as he got his shot away, Francis Soale made a telling save, and referee Steven Gregory waved away the home sides protests for a penalty.
Soale had to be alert early in the second half pushing Henry Durr’s shot around a post, but on the hour Perth were handed the equaliser.
Defender Ryan Lowry slipped to let Catarcione in, and the Brazilian striker drew the keeper before calmly slotting the ball home.
Perth were now dictating terms and Jordan De Leo saw his shot well saved by Wallis, and on 68 minutes they hit the front.
A quick counter attack down the right and Perth got in behind the Joondalup defence, and the ball was cut back to Topcagic, and the youngster made no mistake, firing low into the corner of the net.
It was nearly three to Perth moments later. Dean Evans’ free kick was parried by Wallis and De Leo’s follow up shot crashed off a post.
ECU weren’t done and Jones played in Smith whose shot crashed off the crossbar with ten minutes, and moments later McGarry’s shot was superbly tipped on to the crossbar by Soale.
Both sides pressed late, but it ended 2-1 to Perth. ECU coach Dale McCulloch was left fuming with some of the decisions and said his side had deserved something from the game.
“Decisions haven’t gone our way today, hopefully they will even themselves out during the season.”
ECU Joondalup 1 (Smith 8 min)
Perth SC 2 (Catacione 59 min, Topcagic 68)
Saturday April 9 2016
Venue: ECU Football Stadium, Joondalup
Referee: Steven Gregory
Assistants: Brian McDonald and Peter Kaiser
ECU Joondalup: GK David Keenan (RGK Scott WALLIS 14’), 2 Ryan LOWRY, 3 Joseph JONES, 4 Shane PICKERING, 5 Andy HIGGINS, 8 Steven WALMSLEY, 10 Gordon SMITH, 11 Bayley BROWN-MONTGOMERY, 13 Tommy AMPHLETT (7 Harley ORR 46’), 14 Steven MCGARRY, 18 Henry DURR
Subs not used: 12 Paddy DOYLE, 15 Coire MCGUIGAN, 16 Josh TUCKER
Yellow cards: Amphlett 38’, Walmsley 68’, McGarry 69’
Perth SC: GK Francis SOALE, 2 David FILIPPOU, 3 Marco SANTALUCIA, 5 Dean EVANS, 6 Clark KELTIE, 9 Gustavo CATARCIONE, 10 Nick AMBROGIO (8 Tom KING 67’), 12 Jordan DE LEO, 13 Rocco PIZZATA, 14 Dino TOPCAGIC (16 Thomas JEBB 88’), 20 Matthew MILENKOVIC
Sub not used: RGK Daniel PASSARELLI, 21 Ayden DRAGUN
Yellow cards: Catarcione 29’, Keltie 38’, Topcagic 87’