Athena surge toward finish line
Report by Aidan Shaw
Photo courtesy Tim Yorke
Floreat Athena have made their title aspirations clear with a 5-0 drubbing of Balcatta in Round 19 of the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues WA at E&D Litis Stadium on Saturday.
The win comes on the back of a resolute performance against A-League outfit Melbourne City in the Westfield FFA Cup on Tuesday, and sees Athena climb to second on the league table.
With five different goal scorers on Saturday and without captain Ludo Boi, coach Glen Grostate said his side’s performance reflected their quality and confidence.
“Ludo is a super player, there’s no question,” he said. “But this team has the quality with or without him and that’s what we love about it.”
“We’ve got goal scorers all over the park and if you’re going to stop us you’re going to have to score a lot of goals.”
Floreat started the match with a 3-5-2 formation and their back three, led by stand-in skipper Bobby Wilson, did well to contain Balcatta’s early pressure.
Shaun Timmins surged forward from left back and produced a great left-footed strike from a tight angle to give Floreat the lead after 17 minutes.
It was another defender, Chris Saldaris, who doubled Floreat’s lead in the 26th minute.
A goalmouth scramble following a corner saw Balcatta keeper Kyle McDonald save an initial shot but Saldaris pounced on the follow up and fired home from close range.
With enormous scoreboard pressure Balcatta were reduced to a few half chances, with their best coming on the stroke of half time.
Cameron Teece got on the end of a long ball and attempted to loop his shot over Jason Saldaris but the Floreat custodian did well to track back and tap the ball to safety.
Teece again came close to pulling one back for the visitors early in the second half but his shot from an acute angle could only rattle the upright.
A classy left-footed strike from Dean Evans in the 63rd minute was the catalyst for a scoreboard blowout and also marked Evans’ first goal for Athena since his mid-season transfer from Perth SC.
Jonathan Stynes added to the damage in the 82nd minute when his header from a Clayton Arnez cross was deemed to have crossed the goal line.
An in-form Kris Gate rounded out proceedings against his former side with a great strike deep into injury time.
Balcatta’s Marc Anthony said school boy errors let his side down on the day.
“It doesn’t matter what level you play at, if you give teams a one or two goal start you’re always going to be struggling,” he said.
“Fair play to Floreat, they had a tough game on Tuesday against Melbourne City and they’ve come out today and given us a thumping.”
With their finishing position on the ladder all but set with three games remaining, Anthony said personal pride is at stake now.
“We’ve been playing poor for the last few weeks now and it’s not going to get any easier for us. We’re not going to get relegated but we need to play for our personal pride.”
Floreat, contrarily, find themselves full of confidence and right in the mix of the title race, and Grostate made a clear statement about his side’s intentions.
“Winning the league is the ultimate goal now. Getting in the top four and having a good old crack at it.”
Floreat Athena 5 (Timmins 17min, C Saldaris 26, Evans 63, Stynes 82, Gate 90+3)
Saturday, August 6, 2016
E&D Litis Stadium
Referee: Nico Hoyle
Assistant referees: Adrien Lichti, Zach Piccicacco
Floreat Athena: GK Jason SALDARIS, 2. Shaun TIMMINS, 3. Blair GOVAN (16. Kye DOUGLAS 87), 5. Bobby WILSON (c), 6. Clayton ARNEZ, 8. Jonathan STYNES (12. Nathan SCULLY 90), 10. Kris GATE, 11. Dennis GALAN, 15. Chris SALDARIS (33. Cameron YORKE 57), 17. Dean EVANS, 19. Lewis MCMAHON
Substitutes not used: RGK Jordan BARBAS, 13. Aaron DELANY
Yellow cards: Evans 29’, Govan 84’
Red cards: nil
Balcatta: GK Kyle MCDONALD, 2. Hanafi GHAZALI, 3. Keiron STALLARD (c), 4. Alexsander SULESKI, 5. Conor KAVANAGH, 6. Jonathan CORNESS, 10. Zelfy NAZARY (9. Gomo DUKULY 72), 13. Cameron TEECE, 17. Kieran COLWELL, 19. Alan CARROLL, 22. Scott NEWLANDS (18. Daniel MOSS 60)
Substitutes not used: RGK Clint Davies, 12. Eamon MCNELIS
Yellow cards: Ghazali 69’, Carrol 85’
Red cards: nil