Balcatta defeat Mandurah to survive
Report by Callum George
Second half goals from Calum O’Connell and Lucas Mello have given Balcatta a vital 2-0 PS4 NPLWA win over Mandurah City, securing safety for another season and leaving Mandurah at the foot of the table.
The stakes were high heading into Saturday’s relegation encounter with hosts Balcatta needing just a point, while Mandurah needed nothing but a win to avoid last place.
In front of a packed house at Grindleford Reserve, it was the bottom placed Mandurah City who made the brighter start, dominating the opening stages of the match.
Captain Jeffery Bright got the away fans off their seats when he latched on to the end of a failed clearance and rattled the crossbar with an audacious volley from the edge of the area.
While City had momentum early on in the fixture, Balcatta were slowly working their way into the match.
Lucas Mello almost opened the scoring for the hosts when he bustled his way into the box and forced a tremendous save out of Mandurah custodian Cyril Sharrock.
With survival at stake, both sides came out firing in the second half.
Balcatta went close to gaining the lead through winger Anton De Francesch, who had a close range volley denied by a fantastic Sharrock save.
That attempt left the home side exposed, allowing for City to launch a counter attack through Slade Rule, who looped his one on one attempt over the crossbar.
With the game in the balance, both sides were looking for someone to step up, and Balcatta captain Calum O’Connell was just the man to do so.
The skipper managed to find space down the left and unleash a strike which took a deflection and looped into the back corner, sending the Balcatta faithful into raptures.
Balcatta should have secured their survival moments later when De Francesch was left one on one with the keeper, but the winger skewed his shot just inches wide of the far post.
Facing the threat of relegation, City threw everything at Balcatta and were unlucky not to draw level when Joseph O’Brien got on the end of a brilliant Rhodes cross and was denied by a save from Domenico Savoldelli.
With five minutes to go, Balcatta striker Mello ensured Balcatta were staying in the PS4 NPLWA for another season, cutting in onto his left foot and rifling a shot in off the crossbar from 20m.
The 2-0 victory ensured Balcatta finished outside the relegation zone, while Mandurah finished last.
City coach Doug Hesketh was understandably disappointed with the result after Saturday’s match.
"I thought we played the better football, then we conceded an unfortunate goal and we had to go for it, a draw wasn't going to be enough,” he said.
Meanwhile, Balcatta coach Salv Todaro was ecstatic with his side's victory and paid tribute to the fantastic support from the home crowd.
“All the effort the boys put in all year was fantastic," he said.
"We had a fantastic crowd today who helped the boys in, we worked really hard, and we're really happy.”
Balcatta 2 (O’Connell 68min, Mello 86)
Mandurah City 0
Saturday, August 26, 2017
Referees: Josh Mannella, Stephen Knight, Darren Quinlan, Michael Divers
Balcatta: 1. Domenico SAVOLDELLI, 3. Justin ONEK, 4. Calum O’CONNELL, 9. Lucas MELLO, 10. Jonathan CORNESS, 12. Anton DE FRANCESCH, 13. Daniel HEPWORTH, 14. Brody KENNEDY, 20. Tom PELLIZZARI, 22. Dejan ANDRIC (19. Endalk ACHAMYELEH 56’)(18. Ben MEREDITH 89’), 23. Ismael BANGURA (8. Brennan BORZECKI 65’)
Unused Substitutes: 2. Rudnei NOGUERIA, 18. Ben MEREDITH, 21. Luke HUTCHESON,
Red Cards: Nil
Mandurah City: 1. Cyril SHARROCK, 2. Oliver MCGEE, 3. Jeffery BRIGHT, 4. Matthew STARES, 5. Mitchell FIRTH, 6. Lance LOUVIE, 7. Jack EADES, 9. Sean TROUP (17. Thomas STRAKER 73’), 10. Jordan RHODES, 11. Ryan FRANCIS, 14. Slade RULE (12. Joseph O’BRIEN 58’)
Unused Substitutes: 15. Kevin CASTLE, 16. Mark MCLAUGHLIN, 21. Kieran SHAIL
Yellow Cards: Jack EADES 77’
Red Cards: Nil