Top Four Cup: Floreat win thriller to stay alive
Report by Max Hayden-Evans
Floreat Athena rallied to survive an entertaining NPL WA Top Four Cup elimination semi-final against a spirited Balcatta at E&D Litis Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Athena overcame a slow start and an early deficit to win 3-2 and extend their season for another week.
Balcatta had momentarily silenced the home fans when they opened the scoring just after the quarter of an hour mark. Balcatta captain Calum O’Connell’s sublime cross found the head of striker Ben Pellizzari who did well to loop the ball beyond the outstretched gloves of Athena goalkeeper Jason Saldaris.
Balcatta’s lead was short-lived however when Athena strongman Robert Petkov rose superbly at the back post to head home from a corner.
It was another corner that would again prove the undoing of the Balcatta defence. This time it was Adrian Madaschi who got in on the goalscoring action, his headed effort initially saved brilliantly at point blank range by goalkeeper David Keenan before the Athena man thumped the ball into the roof of the net on the rebound.
Athena began the second-half as they had finished the first, their efforts rewarded with a third goal just minutes after the restart. This time it was enigmatic winger Ludovic Boi who was struck, continuing his sensational goalscoring form as he drove the ball low beyond Keenan from outside of the area.
A late stoppage time goal to Balcatta’s Adam Zimarino proved a mere consolation in the end as Athena held on to their lead, earning themselves the right to face Perth SC in midweek after the league champions were stunned 3-1 at home by Inglewood.
The winner of that clash will then earn a spot in the final and the chance to add to the trophy cabinet, while Balcatta’s defeat brings their tremendous 2019 campaign to a close.
Star player: Ludovic Boi (Floreat)
Floreat Athena 3 (Petkov 39min, Madaschi 45+1, Boi 48)
Balcatta 2 (Pellizzari 16min, Zimarino 90+2)
Saturday, September 7, 2019
E&D Litis Stadium
Referee: Steven Gregory
Assistant referees: Matthew Southern, Joshua Nixon
Floreat Athena: 1. Jason SALDARIS (GK), 4. Adrian MADASCHI, 5. Thomas JEBB, 6. Jesse FULLER, 9. Robert PETKOV (24. Sam THORNILEY 89.), 10. Nicholas AMBROGIO, 11. Dennis GALAN, 14. Ludovic BOI (32. Robert HARDING 87.), 15. Christopher SALDARIS, 17. Dean EVANS (C), 18. Phillip ARNOLD (29. Jack PAINTER-ANDREWS 77.)
Substitutes not used: 23. Jordan BARBAS (RGK), 25. Adam FALCONE
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil
Balcatta FC: 1. David KEENAN (GK), 2. Joseph MARINO (9. Gavin KNIGHT 65.), 4. Calum O’CONNELL (C), 5. Shubham MOKALA, 7. Ben PELLIZZARI (15. Callum STOCKS 51.), 10. Jonathan CORNESS, 12. Roberto DEL BORRELLO, 13. Carmelo GIUFFRE, 16. Alex CASTIELLO, 20. Anthony TOPINI (11. Adam ZIMARINO 57.), 22. Callum TIMMINS
Substitutes not used: 8. Alex WILD, 19. Nicholas CHALLOT
Yellow cards: Castiello 67, Corness 79
Red cards: Nil