Hough goal gives ECU win at Forrestfield
Report by Peter Simcox
Photo by Peter Simcox
ECU Joondalup’s top-four finals hopes are still alive after a hard-fought 1-0 win against Forrestfield United at the Wildlife Safari Stadium on a wet Saturday afternoon.
Youngster Tom Hough was the scorer of the only goal four minutes into the second half and despite Forrestfield pressing late, they couldn’t find the equaliser and remain in trouble near the foot of the table.
The home side were convinced they should have had a penalty in stoppage time when Will Tshabangu was felled in the box, but their appeals fell on deaf ears.
ECU head coach Dale McCulloch said it was a battle but was delighted to head home with the points.
“We knew it would be a tight with what was on the line today. It was scrappy game, and the weather didn’t help, so to come here and take home all three points and a clean sheet as well is really pleasing,” he said.
“We had three 18-year-old’s in the starting line-up today and they all put in a good shift, so it was cracking win for them and it keeps us in the mix.”
Hough was happy his goal counted this week, after his effort last week was given as an own goal.
“We knew it would be a tough game and it was, so we’re happy to take home the three points,” he said.
“I’m happy to score the winner today - and hope they don’t take it off me again!
"But it was vital to win today. We now have three cup finals in the final games and if we can win them the top four is in our reach.”
It was the visitors who made the better start when Daryl Nicol’s shot from the angle went wide, before Adam Tong’s long-throw was flicked on by Steven McGarry and the ball had to be punched from under his own bar by keeper Luke Martino.
Forrestfield went into the game in the relegation zone and needed the points and they ended the half the better. Rhys Loxley’s shot was deflected wide then Liam Merigan’s long-range strike flashed over the top, but at the break it was all-square.
But it was the visitors who opened the scoring four minutes into the second half. Andy Higgins’ inswinging corner was fired goalwards by McGarry, and while Martino produced a good reaction save the rebound fell to Hough who headed home from close range.
ECU went close to a second on the hour, Higgins’ free-kick only cleared to Cian Hirrell and his first-time shot flew wide of the target.
Forrestfield weren’t done with, though, and they went close to the equaliser seven minutes later.
Cameron Murray lost possession on the right and Tshabangu cross found Loxley at the back post, but his shot was well saved by the alert Johnny Perkins.
It was end-to-end football as the game opened up and Jordan Hart’s shot at the back post drifted wide for the home side, before Jamie Duncan got back with a superb last-ditch tackle to deny ECU skipper Nicol at the back post after good approach work from Murray.
Forrestfield were knocking at the door and Duncan’s shot on the run was well saved by Perkins, before Sinclair fired wide moments later.
It was one-way traffic as the home side pressed for the equaliser and they had a huge penalty appeal turned down by referee David Bruce in the final minute of stoppage time.
A ball into the penalty area found Tshabangu, who was impeded in the box, but the referee was well placed and waved away their protests, much to the frustration of the Forrestfield players and bench.
Forrestfield coach Rod Banjac was left to rue missed chances and the late penalty claim. “When you’re at the bottom of the table you don’t seem to get a decision and today we didn’t,” he said.
“I thought our keeper was impeded for their goal and nothing was given, and I thought it was penalty late when Will had his shirt pulled in the area.
“But we did have enough chances to win the game and if one of them, or one of the deflected shots, had gone in it could have been different.
“We know our fate is in our hands and two wins will keep us in the league, which I think we deserve to be in.”
Forrestfield United 0
ECU Joondalup 1 (Hough 49min)
Saturday August 4
Wildlife Safari Stadium
Referee: David Bruce
Assistant referees: Matthew Southern, Martin Hicks
Forrestfield United: GK Luke MARTINO, 2 Tom SOUTHGATE, 3 Will TSHABANGU, 4 Jamie DUNCAN, 6 Kristian DESPOTOVSKI (7 Josh KOTIO 56), 8 Mitchell CROCKER (12 Callum DOBBS 90+2), 9 Hasani SINCLAIR, 10 Jordan HART, 11 Liam MERIGAN (C), 17 Leslie MARI, 23 Rhys LOXLEY (14 Ben ROGERS 90+1)
Substitutes not used: RGK Ben PARRY, 5 Seded YAGLI
Yellow cards: Hart 75
Red cards: Nil
ECU Joondalup: GK Johnny PERKINS, 2 Cian HIRRELL, 3 Ross MILLARD, 4 Steven MCGARRY, 5 Adam TONG, 7 Cameron MURRAY (13 Liam MURRAY 90+2), 8 Tom HOUGH, 9 Daryl NICOL (C), 10 Brad MCDONALD, 11 Andy HIGGINS, 12 Ethan BROOKS (17 Lukas DE LIMA 58)
Substitutes not used: RGK Jack NUNN, 16 Harry EDWARDS, 18 Roland RIXER
Yellow cards: Millard 23, McGarry 82
Red cards: Nil