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.
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.
“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.
“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.
“Very disappointing, but we go again next week at Balcatta, and look to get back on track.”
Armadale 1 (Quinncroft 74min)