Azzurri to meet Glory in Top Four final
Report by Ryan Borrett
Photo by FotoEnzo
The McInerney Ford Top Four Cup delivered again on Tuesday night as Perth SC booked their place in the final after beating Cockburn City 2-1 thanks to Nicholas Ambrogio’s injury time winner.
Ambrogio's effort came just minutes after Cockburn thought they had forced extra time at Dorrien Gardens following substitute Chris Thackray's equaliser.
Ambrogio had other ideas, however, as he broke the Cockerels' hearts to ensure the league champions set up another meeting with Perth Glory at Frank Drago Reserve on Saturday.
It is a fitting end to the season between the NPL WA's top two sides and there will be few complaints if there is a repeat of last Saturday's semi final, which Glory won on penalties.
Perth coach Ramon Falzon was delighted for his players who fought until the final whistle and he also praised Cockburn’s efforts.
“Very happy to make our third consecutive grand final in three years,” he said.
“I’m always pushing our boys absorb the characteristic of resilience, to keep fighting until the last second of the game.
“Credit to Cockburn, they’ve had an excellent season.”
Cockburn’s Scott Miller was equally proud of his players and said tiredness played a part in the finale after playing 120 minutes against Bayswater on Saturday night.
“The boys just showed a lot of heart,” he said.
“They just kept going and going and got the equaliser and then I thought we just ran out of gas.
“Getting that goal I think they sort of switched off, and it was a great goal by Nicky [Ambrogio] to win it.”
The first half was closely fought and both sides created a lot of chances but couldn’t find the back of the net.
Cockburn winger Harry O’Brien came close to finding a breakthrough in the 28th minute but his low effort was saved well by Francis Soale.
Perth had a great chance in the 37th minute after Ambrogio played in Jordan De Leo but he blasted his shot straight at Luke Radonich in goal for the Cockerels.
The opening goal of the match came early in the second half. Perth had a succession of chances before the ball spilt to Matthew Milenkovic inside the box and he drove a low shot into the bottom corner to make it 1-0.
Fatigue came into play as the match wore on after both sides’ weekend semi-final matches went to penalties and their tiredness was exacerbated by the wet and windy conditions.
However in the 89th minute Cockburn found an equalising goal. A corner was met by Reuben Tristao’s head, Soale saved but the ball rebounded to Thackray who headed in from close range to bring the scores level.
The crowd was settling in for another 30 minutes of action and possibly penalties after Cockburn’s late equaliser but Perth made them think again. Milenkovic broke down the right wing before delivering into the box to find Ambrogio at the far post and he headed into the net to send his side to the final.
Glory will surely be fired up to beat Perth SC after letting the NPL WA title slip to the Azzurri on the final day of the season.
Falzon said of the final: “Over the next few days we’ll recover as many bodies as we can and go again on Saturday.”
The loss for Cockburn sees their excellent season come to an end after a third place league finish.
“It’s been a fantastic season, really proud of the season and really proud of our efforts today,” Miller said.
"It’d be hard to beat Glory just because of [them] not playing tonight, but everyone said Perth weren’t going to win the league and then they won the league so you never write them off.”
Perth SC 2 (Milenkovic 52min, Ambrogio 90+2)
Cockburn City 1 (Thackray 90)
Saturday, September 4
Perth SC: 1. Francis SOALE, 4. Adrian MADASCHI, 5. Niccolo SABATINI, 6. Harley ORR, 7. Aleksander JOVIC (20. Paul ZIMARINO 83), 9. Gustavo CATARCIONE (14. Kristan SANTICH 80), 10. Nicholas AMBROGIO, 11. Matthew MILENKOVIC, 12. Jordan DE LEO, 13. Rocco PIZZATA, 16. Kieran COLWELL (2. Alex SILLA 90+4)
Unused substitutes: 19. Adam ZIMARINO, 23. Malek KUC
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil
Cockburn City: 1. Luke RADONICH, 3. Daniel DOLS, 6. Reuben TRISTAO, 8. Cameron EDWARDS (2. Chris THACKRAY 67), 9. Julian TELES, 10. David ARAYA (7. Lucas MELLO 53), 11. Harry O'BRIEN, 12. Ryan PRATT, 15. Daniel SANTICH, 16. Daniel ROBINSON, 21. Jesse LAZZARO (13. Blake ADAMS 43)
Substitutes not used: 20. Harry COLLINS, 23. Ryan BARKER
Yellow cards: O’Brien 57, Adams 62
Red cards: Nil