Athena bounce back to sink Bayswater
Report by Kelechi Osunwa
Pictured: Goalmouth action from Sunday's encounter. Photo: Kate Jackson
A 10-man Floreat Athena pulled off a stunning 2-1 come-from-behind win to down Bayswater City in Sunday’s PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues WA fixture at E&D Litis Stadium.
The loss for City, who won the league by 10 points last season, put them in fifth place, on 35 points, with just one match to play.
Floreat climbed to third place (38 points) behind Perth SC (40) and Inglewood United (42), who can win the league with victory over ECU Joondalup (38) on Saturday.
But Glen Grostate’s men had done it tough against Bayswater, who hit the front through Brian Farrell in the 27th minute.
Farrell took advantage of a miss-timed clearance from Chris Saldaris to tap home into an empty net.
It got worse for Floreat when they were reduced to 10 men. Denis Galan was given his marching orders after picking up two yellow cards in the space of two minutes.
But Floreat started the second half in flying form and two quick goals turned the game on its head much to the delight of assistant coach Tim Kantor.
“Credit to the boys they were magnificent today,” he said.
“Our season was on the line and we just said to the boys at half time to put up a huge effort because we’re not going to get defensive we’re going to stay attacking and they were magnificent.”
The match lived up to the cliché of a game of two halves with Bayswater dominating the first half and Floreat turning things around in the second.
Bayswater looked patient and poised with young Luka Ninkovic being a nuisance for the Floreat defence.
And with the dismissal of Galan it seemed like Floreat would have a mountain to climb following a half where they failed to create anything of note.
But three minutes into the second half Phillip Arnold bundled a header from a deep corner and buoyed by the home faithful Floreat would take the lead five minutes later.
Lone target man Lewis McMahon turned his defender before springing Jonathan Stynes free on goal.
Stynes out-paced the recovering defence from the halfway line but managed to still keep his composure to finish past Devon Spence.
With a West Australian Top Four finals place on the line for both teams, Bayswater pushed forward while Floreat were happy to break with pace through Stynes and McMahon.
But it was Bayswater that would rue some wasted opportunities with Sam Mitchinson and Jason Mirco the most glaring of misses.
Mitchinson flashed a header wide and Mirco found space 4m out from goal but also failed to hit the target.
Floreat grew in confidence with every missed opportunity and Dean Evans slowly stamped some influence into the match and made it easy to forget that the home side only had 10 men.
Bayswater would have one last throw at the dice when a deep cross found its way to Devon Gibson only for the substitute to snatch at his effort high and wide.
Bayswater assistant coach Alun Vernals refused to give up on a top four place while cursing his side’s fortune in front of goal.
“We can’t buy a goal at the moment,” Vernals said.
“And it’s just not falling for us and that’s football. We keep working at it and keep telling the boys that if we make the finals no one will want to play us.”
Kantor praised the unity of his side especially while missing a host of players including last seasons Gold Medal winner Ludovic Boi.
“There’s one thing about this group and they galvanise in situations like this and not just today they’ve been fantastic all year,” Kantor said.
“There were times there when you looked out onto the pitch and didn’t know which side had the 10 men. And when we get Ludo (Boi) and Bobby (Wilson) back we’re going to scare teams.”
Floreat Athena 2 (Phillip Arnold 48min, Jonathan Stynes 53’)
Bayswater City 1 (Brian Farrell 27min)
E & D Litis Stadium, Leederville
Referee: A. Fielding
Assistants: A. Novatis, D. Cole
Floreat Athena: 1. Jason SALDARIS, 3. Blair GOVAN, 33. Cameron YORKE, 15. Chris SALDARIS, 6. Clayton ARNEZ, 17. Dean EVANS, 11. Denis GALAN, 19. Lewis MCMAHON, 18. Phillip ARNOLD (9. Robert Gasper ), 2. Shaun TIMMINS, 8. Jonathan Stynes
Substitutes not used: 16. Sam KHANKALILI, 12. Nathan SCULLY, 23. Jordan BARBAS, 4. Andrew SCALDAFERRO
Yellow cards: Denis Galan 36’, Lewis McMahon 38’, Phillip Arnold 54’, Shaun Timmins 67’
Red cards: Denis Galan 38’
Bayswater City: 1. Devon SPENCE, 5. Andrew REALE (11. Devon GIBSON 83’), 15. Brian FARRELL, 21. David HEAGNEY, 16. Jamie COYNE, 10. Jason MIRCO, 8. PaulMCCARTHY, 20. Samuel MITCHINSON, 13. Trent KAY, 24. David STOKOE, 18. Luka NINKOVIC (14. Lawrence SHURAMA 65’)
Substitutes not used: 6. Todd HOWARTH, 25. Fraser GREENWOOD, 23. Andrija JUKIC
Yellow cards: Sam Mitchinson 67’, Jamie Coyne 75’
Red cards: nil