Owen's brace gets ECU back on track

Report and photo by Peter Simcox

 

ECU Joondalup have moved up to fifth on the PS4 NPLWA table after a comfortable 4-1 win against Armadale at Alfred Skeet Reserve on Saturday.

After two games without a win, it was teenage striker James Owen who got them on their way scoring early, before Daryl Nicol doubled their lead before the break.

Owen added a second after the half time, before Billy Quinncroft pulled one back for the home side, but ECU skipper Gordon Smith sealed the points late.

It was Owen’s second league goal for the club, but he said the three points were more important.
 
“We came here and we knew it was going to be tough, but it was good to get the three points, and the two goals are a bonus,” he said.
 
“I’ve been putting in the hard work at training, and it's good (coach) Dale has given me the opportunity and I’m really enjoying my football at the moment.”  
 
ECU coach Dale McCulloch said it was a workman-like win from his side and he was happy to get back in the winner’s circle.
 
“(It's) never an easy place to come to, but we set our stalls out and got the job done,” he said.
 
“Great for James to score two, but I thought the two guys in the middle of the park ran the show, and Shane (Pickering) and Kevin (Moon) were outstanding.
 
“It’s tight at the top of the table and I’ve seen the results today, and with us having a game in hand, if we can string a few results together, we’ll see how we go from there.”
 
With former ECU and now A-League players Shane and Ryan Lowry in the crowd, the visitors made the perfect start and were ahead on six minutes, Owen turning home Nicol’s cross from close-range.
 
Armadale looked to hit straight back, and Quinncroft’s shot on the run flashed wide of the post, but on 19 minutes it was the visitors who doubled their lead.
 
Nicol picked the ball up on the half way line and raced at the Armadale defence easing past three defenders, before finishing with aplomb past Michael Craggs.
 
The woodwork came to ECU’s rescue just before half time, when Jackson Bealey’s cross was met by Quinncroft, whose effort bounced off the post and back into the grateful arms of keeper Fraser Greenwood.
 
Armadale opened brightly after the break and Greenwood produced a stunning save to deny Quinncroft early, before Dylan White fired home the rebound, but the assistants’ flag was up for offside.  
 
Their good start was cut short when ECU added a third just before the hour. Kevin Moon’s ball sent Owen in down the right channel, and the youngster superbly chipped the on-coming keeper to add his second.
 
Nicol’s pace was causing problems all afternoon for the home defence, and he was in again moments later, but Craggs stood tall to deny him.
 
Armadale gave themselves a lifeline 16 minutes from time as Bealey’s cross picked out Quinncroft, who lost his marker and headed powerfully home.
 
But their comeback was short lived when ECU added a fourth on 81 minutes. Owen was sent down the right again, and unselfishly crossed to Smith who made no mistake from close-range, for his 10th goal of the season.
 
Armadale coach John O’Reilly said his team has to learn to take their chances.
 
“We need to work harder in the final third, and we have to try and minimize mistakes, because today they cost us,” he said.
 
“Very disappointing, but we go again next week at Balcatta, and look to get back on track.”     
 
 
Armadale 1 (Quinncroft 74min)
 
ECU Joondalup 4 (Owen 6min, 57, Nicol 19, Smith 81)
 
Saturday, May 27, 2017
 
Alfred Skeet Reserve
 
Kick-off: 3:00pm
 
Referee: Tom Dowle
 
Assistant referees: Walter Ciotti, Jatin Lodhia
 
 
Armadale: GK Michael CRAGGS, 2 Dylan WHITE (19 Beau RAHIM 64’), 3 Jake SARDELIC, 4 Nathan COSTELLO (C), 14 David ANNALL, 15 Jackson BEALEY, 16 Billy QUINNCROFT, 17 James ATKINS (21 Shaydon PASSALACQUA 76’), 18 Milan OGNJENOVIC, 20 Ali GHOLAMI, 25 Anthony SKORICH (7 Charlie KENNA 64’)
 
Substitutes not used: RGK Alec RADONICH
 
Yellow cards: Skorich 54, Bealey 70
 
 
 
ECU Joondalup: GK Fraser GREENWOOD, 3 Fraser GARNAUT, 4 Jack IREDALE, 5 Graham DORAN, 6 Shane PICKERING, 7 Kevin MOON (15 Keylun POLLARD 85’), 8 Sam POLLARD, 9 Daryl NICOL, 10 Gordon SMITH (C) (16 Stefan VRANESEVIC 93’), 12 James OWEN, 18 Cian HIRRELL
 
Substitutes not used: RGK Todd HOYLE, 13 Ben JOHNS, 14 Declan HUGHES
 
Yellow Cards: Moon 25, Smith 72, Doran 83



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