Jacks win it for McGarry
Report by Peter Simcox
Pictured: ECU Joondalup striker Gordon Smith races away to celebrate his winner. Photo: Peter Simcox
ECU Joondalup's resurgence continued as they made it three wins on the bounce with a 1-0 victory against Armadale at Alfred Skeet Reserve on Saturday.
Gordon Smith scored the only goal of the game with a stunning header midway through the second half, but all the thoughts of the ECU Joondalup players were with Scottish midfielder Steven McGarry, whose father passed away last week.
The ECU players wore black armbands in a mark of respect for the McGarry family and a minute silence was held prior to the game.
Smith, who bagged his ninth goal of the season said it was good to win away from home after struggling in recent games on the road.
“We weren’t at our best today, but we’ll take the three points, and it’s vital to win away from home,” he said.
“The pitch made it difficult for us, but we defended well today and that’s three clean sheets on the trot, and long may it continue.”
The former Heart of Midlothian striker said he could have had a hat-trick, but he was delighted to score the winner on a sad day for the players.
“A great cross from Andy (Higgins) and I managed to on the end of it, “he said.
“I had three good chances today and the one I scored was probably the most difficult, so delighted to score the winner and most importantly get the three points and keep our good form going, and that one is for Steven, we’re all thinking of you mate.”
Joondalup conditioning coach Mark Scanlan said it was hard fought win and the lads ran the game out well on a difficult pitch.
“A hard fought win on a tough pitch, but we ground out the win today, matched then and I thought our fitness showed late,” he said.
“We defended well today and Rikki Smith has come into the club and he is a terrific organiser, and his partnership at the heart of the back four with Ryan (Lowry) has been outstanding.
“But I thought we defended well as a team today, and it’s never easy to come here and pick up three points so we’re happy with the win.”
It was a high tempo start to the game with both sides needing the points to stay in contact with the top five, and there were a number of feisty challenges, but early chances were few and far between.
The first real chance fell to the home side on 26 minutes, after a sustained spell of pressure. Jesse Fuller played in Anthony Skorich, whose shot on the run was saved low by Lewis Italiano.
ECU hit back and should have taken the lead four minutes later. Shane Pickering won the ball in the middle of the park and slipped Gordon Smith clear on goal, but Alec Radonich stood tall to deny the Scottish striker.
Armadale ended the half the better and Skorich’s header late flashed just over the top, but at the break it was scoreless.
The visitors lifted after the break and Gordon Smith was again denied superbly by Radonich, after good work on the left by Andy Higgins and Tommy Amphlett.
New signing Daryl Nicol came off the bench on the hour for the visitors and he should have opened the scoring three minutes later.
Jayden Drummond found space on the right and played Nicol in one-on-one with Radonich, his shot beat the keeper but flashed inches past the post.
Armadale, with Ellis Healing and Fuller outstanding, hit back and Italiano then had to be alert to save Fuller’s shot, after the Armadale captain had caught Higgins in possession.
But on 68 minutes ECU hit the front. Higgins was sent down the left and whipped in a fantastic cross to Smith, who headed home superbly into the top corner of the net, giving Radonich no chance.
The game lifted and it was end-to-end football, and the home side almost hit back moments later.
Healing’s free kick on the edge of the penalty area, whistled past the post.
Nicol then went close at the other end, this time sent clear by Kevin Moon’s inch perfect through ball but Radonich came to his sides rescue spreading himself well to deny the lively striker.
Armadale continued to press and in stoppage time almost nicked an equaliser. Healing cross picked out substitute Raveshlan Kuppusamy, whose shot was superbly tipped over the bar by Italiano.
ECU Joondalup 1 (Smith 68mins)
Saturday June 18 2016
Venue: Alfred Skeet Reserve
Referee: Alex Novatsis
Assistants: Shuo Chen and Robert Read
Armadale: GK Alec RADONICH, 2 Alex CASTIELLO, 3 Jake SARDELIC, 4 Jesse FULLER (c), 5 David ANNALL, 6 Anthony SKORICH (7 Danny HODGSON 57’), 10 Papa KPATAR (9 Darren FRANCIS 51’), 12 Dannie RICHMAN (8 Raveshlan KUPPUSAMY 75’), 14 Dylan WHITE, 15 Nathan SMITH, 17 Ellis HEALING
Subs not used: RGK Alfie BRINCAT, 18 Brendon OFFER
Yellow Cards: Nil
ECU Joondalup: GK Lewis ITALIANO, 2 Ryan LOWRY, 3 Rikki SMITH, 4 Cian HIRRELL (9 Daryl NICOL 58’), 5 Andy HIGGINS, 6 Shane PICKERING, 10 Gordon SMITH, 11 Jayden DRUMMOND, 13 Tommy AMPHLETT (19 Paddy DOYLE 88’), 17 Kevin MOON (12 Ollie ANNIS 91’), 18 Henry DURR,
Subs not used: RGK Todd HOYLE, 15 Coire MCGUIGAN
Yellow Cards: Nil