NPL WA Round 18 Preview

Sorrento look to maintain their title charge with a month of the season remaining when they travel to relegation-threatened Balcatta on Saturday.

The Gulls are currently in a three-team tussle to become NPLWA – Men’s champions, although ECU Joondalup could also join the scrap if they win their game in hand.

Jamie Harnwell’s side have lost just once in their past eight games, winning their last three and scoring 10 goals in the process. One of the stand-outs has been Dean Cummings, who scored a hat-trick in last week’s 3-1 win over Rockingham.

“The three points was the main aim last week because conditions were tricky and the pitch was a little muddy, so we were just concentrating on getting the win no matter what,” Cummings said.

“I’ve not scored too many hat-tricks over the years, but I was delighted with that one because it was my first in the NPL.

“The way the team plays, I have a bit of freedom to get forward. Me and Tim Hill in the middle, he’s a bit more naturally fit and gives me some protection to get forward and support the striker.”

Cummings completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot, before treating his teammates to a mini “guitar hero” celebration with the corner flag.

“I scored the first two goals and I always run to the corner flag, just to have a breather more than anything,” the midfielder said. “But the boys have been into me saying I need to do something when I run to the corner because I don’t do anything, so I did that for a bit of a laugh.”

Prior to his arrival in Australia, Cummings played professionally in Scotland.

“When I left school, I was at Livingston in the Scottish Championship and played in some big games, the likes of Hearts and Celtic in cup games in front of lots of fans,” he said.

“I dropped back to part-time football because of work. I remember playing in the freezing cold and it was dark every day and I just fancied a change.

“When I first came, I was going to sign with Bayswater who I was in contact with back home, but we couldn’t get the visa through and they already had their two players. We were going to hold out, but I ended up going to Stirling and having two seasons there which I really enjoyed.

“I went to Bayswater last year because I wanted to be part of a team to challenge for the league, but it was very stop-start because of COVID. It was frustrating, I had a couple of injuries and couldn’t get a consistent run in the team.

“Then Sorrento got in touch, and I live up this way so thought why not, and I’m really happy and enjoying it. I like the way we play. We’re direct and it’s a good game plan for us to play off the second balls and play to our strengths.

“Some people see it as a bad thing but in my opinion if you’re getting the ball forward, you’re playing in the opponents’ half and that’s a good thing because you can’t concede there. Every week you see goals conceded from playing out to the centre-back, the full-back, someone gets caught and it’s turned over. So, we’re a bit more direct but it’s definitely working and paying off for us.”

Dean’s younger brother Jason is a professional footballer who has forged a career in Scotland with Hibernian, Rangers and currently Dundee, as well as spells in England.

Jason made his Scotland debut in a friendly match against the Netherlands in 2017. He is also eligible to play for Australia and there has been talk the Socceroos have been monitoring him.

“We were always competitive growing up. Always kicking the ball in the backyard and getting in trouble,” Dean said.

“When the ball used to go into the neighbours’ garden, she used to run out and pop it with a knife because it would go over that many times.

“We’d play all day and be out in the summer holidays until 10:30pm and totally brought the best out of each other. I’m obviously a couple of years older, so I gave him a hiding a couple of times but it was always in good spirits!

“He’s gone higher than me, is doing brilliant and I’m super proud of him. They (Australia) were looking at him, he’s played for Scotland but only once in a friendly.

“He’s back in the SPL now with Dundee and scored in their opening game last weekend. He was also in the Hibs team with Martin Boyle, who came over, so hopefully Jason gets a chance at one point if he can keep scoring, and he’s said to me he’d be keen as well.”

Elsewhere this weekend, new league leaders Perth SC meet Armadale, who still harbour ambitions of a place in the top Four Cup.

Second-place Floreat Athena a chasing a first win in six at home to lowly Gwelup Croatia.

Fifth hosts fourth as Perth Glory entertain ECU Joondalup, while Inglewood United travel to Rockingham City.

Finally, Bayswater City host Cockburn with both sides out of the finals race and unlikely to be dragged into the relegation scrap.


Saturday (3pm)

Perth Glory v ECU Joondalup
Perth SC v Armadale
Floreat Athena v Gwelup Croatia
Bayswater City v Cockburn City
Balcatta v Sorrento
Rockingham City v Inglewood United