Azzurri still alive in title race
Report by Tommy Doleman
Perth Soccer Club kept alive their slim chances of winning the NPL WA league title with a 2-1 win over Stirling at Dorrien Gardens.
Lions' Alex Suleski cancelled out Nicholas Ambrogio's opener in a fairly even first half, before Azzurri keeper Francis Soale saved David Micevski's penalty late in the first half.
And it turned out to be a costly miss as Gustavo Catarcione scored a second-half winner for Perth after good work from Kristian Santich, with Lewis Italiano making several good saves to prevent Perth from extending their lead.
Perth Glory's 3-3 draw at Inglewood coupled with Perth's win means the margin between the sides is down to four points and Ramon Falzon says anything is possible with three games still remaining.
"Today's win gives the boys a lot of belief that we are still in it. It's been a rollercoaster of emotions this year, but with the league being this tight we have to keep fighting until the end," he said.
"Until we can't mathematically catch them, we will keep pushing because there are still nine points to play for."
Falzon was also happier with the way Perth managed the game this week after conceding a late equaliser to Balcatta last week.
"I thought we kept the lead really well. We could have scored another goal in the second half to make things more comfortable, but I'm very pleased that we did not make the same mistake as last week," he said.
"We kept pressuring the ball when we did not have it and we kept the ball well. The conditions made it hard for both teams today."
Perth broke the deadlock in the 14th minute after a cagey opening when Ambrogio collected Catarcione's lay-off and side-footed into the bottom corner.
But Stirling looked fairly good in open play and deserved their equaliser when Suleski stooped to head in unmarked from six yards.
Ambrogio nearly added a second for Perth but Italiano made a fine save to deny the midfielder, before Stirling managed to scramble Santich's shot away from danger.
It was the Lions who had the best chance to go 2-1 up before the break when Alex Silla's high boot was deemed to be a foul and a penalty was awarded.
But Soale saved down low to his left with Micevski's penalty not quite in the corner and the hosts survived to be level at half-time.
Perth would make Stirling pay for that missed opportunity in the 58th minute when Santich intercepted Italiano's clearance and squared for Catarcione to score his 11th NPL WA goal of the season.
Stirling's goalkeeper was again busy as he turned Frank Furfaro's cross-shot over the bar before denying Catarcione one-on-one with five minutes remaining.
Tumbling rain in the latter stages prevented any late drama from occurring, as Perth held firm to retain second spot, while Stirling continue to sit just above the drop zone.
Perth SC 2 (Ambrogio 14min, Catarcione 58)
Stirling Lions 1 (Suleski 28)
Saturday 4 August
Referee: Tom Glavovic
Perth SC: GK: Francis SOALE, 2. Alex SILLA, 5. Niccolo SABBATINI, 6. Harley ORR, 8. Tom KING, 9. Gustavo CATARCIONE, 10. Nicholas AMBROGIO (7. Aleks JOVIC 70), 11. Matthew MILENKOVIC, 13. Rocco PIZZATA, 14. Kristian SANTICH, 17. Frank FURFARO
Substitutes not used: RGK: Malek KUC, 7. Aleks JOVIC, 12. Jordan DE LEO, 16. Kieran COLWELL, 19. Ali NAZARY
Yellow cards: Silla 45
Red cards: Nil
Stirling Lions: GK: Lewis ITALIANO, 2. Nathan DE ABREU, 3. Chris MCLAUGHLIN, 4. Alex SULESKI, 5. David MOLINARI, 6. Dhors CHOUL, 7. James DOLHERTY, 8. Zane CASELLA, 9. Dean CUMMINGS (12. Abu DELLAH 62), 10. David MICEVSKI (14. Steve SOKOL 82), 11. Conor SCULLION
Substitutes not used: RGK: Damien DAMSONIBRI, 13. Ben CAMPBELL, 14. Steve SOKOL, 15. Daniel HEPWORTH
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil