Falzon: Perth to fight for title
Report by Blayne Treadgold
Ramon Falzon vowed that his Perth SC side will keep up their charge in hopes of winning the NPL WA following their 2-1 win over fellow title chasers Cockburn City in an entertaining but fiery clash at Dorrien Gardens on Saturday afternoon.
Gustavo Catarcione and Mathew Milenkovic were on target for the Azzurri, while Daniel Robinson put Cockburn on terms for just a minute early in the second half.
Both sides were reduced to 10 men on 58 minutes when Perth's Richard Howles saw red for a bad tackle on Luccas Mello and City captain Euan Grant joined him for his reaction.
In the wash-up it meant Perth moved up to fourth and are now only a point behind Cockburn, who remain second but are now five points behind leaders Perth Glory.
“We want to keep fighting for the title until the end ... It was a must-win in terms of trying to close the gap between ourselves and Cockburn.
“It was a game of two-halves, I thought the first half we were superior, we deserved to be leading at half-time.
“Second half Cockburn were probably superior, after the sendings-off both teams lost their shape and they probably had the momentum.
“It was great for us to immediately get that second goal as soon as they levelled. It was a very tough game.
“We’ve been wasting too many chances recently, in the first half today we should have capitalised a bit more in the first half. But credit to the boys, they withstood the pressure.”
Catarcione opened the scoring for Perth in the 32nd minute in lucky circumstances as he found him with the ball unexpectedly in the six-yard box following Grant’s air-swing clearance.
The ball seeming to take a unfortunate bobble over Grant's foot to the waiting Catarcione, who obliged in carefully tapping the ball into the bottom corner of the Cockburn net.
Just minutes after the break Cockburn rallied to restore parity through Robinson after Perth keeper Francis Soale failed to deal with a skied ball, the fumble causing the ball to fall to the feet of Robinson who bundled it over the line.
However, Perth showed their resolve immediately after the restart with Milenkovic hitting a spectacular strike from distance to once again send Perth into the lead.
Simmering tempers hit boiling point on 58 minutes as Howles was sent for an early shower following his reckless tackle on Mello.
A small fracas ensued where Cockburn captain Grant was also sent off by referee Steven Gregory.
Perth held on for a valuable three points but Cockburn coach Scott Miller was still pleased with the football on display.
“I thought it was a really good game. I enjoyed it, end to end with both teams having a crack, it was good to watch,” he said.
“From the first 20 minutes I thought we were in for a tough day but we worked our way back into the game.
“It’s always disappointing to get yourself back level and then immediately give a goal away.
“I thought we were probably good enough for a draw today, not taking anything away from Perth. I thought they were great.”
Perth SC 2 (Catarcione 32min, Milenkovic 52)
Cockburn City 1 (Robinson 51)
Saturday, July 7
Venue: Dorrien Gardens
Referee: Steven Gregory
Assistant referees: Ammar Timour, Alex Wright
Perth SC: 1. Francis SOALE (GK), 5. Niccolo SABATINI, 6. Harley ORR, 9. Gustavo CATARCIONE
(17. Frank FURFARO 86’) 11. Matthew MILENKOVIC, 12 Jordan DE LEO, 13. Rocco PIZZATA
14. Kristan SANTICH, 16. Kieran COLWELL, 8. Richard KNOWLES, 20. Paul ZIMARINO
Substitutes not used: 2. Alex SILLA, 10. Nicholas AMBROGIO, 19. Adam ZIMARINO, 23. Malek KUC
Yellow cards: 14. Kristan SANTICH, 9. Gustavo CATARCIONE, 13. Rocco PIZZATA
Red cards: 18. Richard HOWLES
Cockburn City: 1. Luke RADONICH, 4. Euen GRANT, 7. Lucas MELLO, 8. Cameron EDWARDS,
9. Julian TELES, (6. Reuben TRISTAO 81’) 10. David ARAYA (18. Adam ANFUSO 87’) 11. Harry O’BRIEN,
12. Ryan PRATT, 15. Daniel SANTICH, 16. Daniel ROBINSON, 17. Jesse LAZZARO (13. Blake ADAMS 68’)
Substitutes not used: 14. Josip VUJICA, 23. Ryan BARKER
Yellow cards: 7. Lucas MELLO, 15. Daniel SANTICH
Red cards: 4. Euan GRANT