NPL WA Round 9 Review

Chris Saldaris scored twice as leaders Floreat Athena won 2-1 at nearest rivals ECU Joondalup to open a five-point gap at the top of the NPLWA - Men’s table.

Saturday’s result ensured Athena maintained their unbeaten start to 2021 and ended ECU’s winning run which had stretched to five matches.

Yet it was Kenny Lowe's side who got off to a fast start when they took the lead inside three minutes. Daryl Nicol's corner broke to Luke Davis and he hooked the ball in.

However, that advantage lasted only two minutes. Dean Evans swung in a free-kick from the right and Saldaris headed home to breach ECU's defence, which hadn't conceded since Round Two.

Set-pieces were proving key and Saldaris nodded in his second of the afternoon from another Evans free-kick on 17 minutes.

ECU keeper Johnny Perkins had to be sharp to save from Jawad Rezai twice later in the half, while at the other end Jason Saldaris made an excellent reflex stop to deny Nicol.

Sean McManus fired over early in the second half for Floreat, but chances dried up in the driving rain as ECU tried to find an equaliser.

Their chances were aided by Phil Arnold collecting a second yellow card with 10 minutes to play, but the closest they came would be from a late Nicol strike as Floreat's rise continued.

ECU remain second in the standings after fourth-place Sorrento drew 1-1 with Perth SC, who are third.

Both teams went into the game at Percy Doyle Reserve having lost only once and that is how it remained, although the result did neither any good as they bid to stay with Floreat.

Sorrento’s Daniel Faichney set about giving the hosts a good start with an effort which was deflected over, while at the other end Bojan Radinovic forced a sharp reaction save from Connor Campbell. Faichney then saw an effort tipped over by Ryan Montgomery as the half ended goalless.

The deadlock wasn't broken until the 85th minute when Calvin Whitney chanced his luck from range on the wet surface and the ball squirmed under Campbell to give the Perth midfielder his third goal of the season.

But Jamie Harnwell's side would extend their unbeaten run to four games with a stoppage-time leveller as Billy Quinncroft headed across the six-yard box and Jordan Roberts stabbed home his first goal since returning to the Gulls.

Perth Glory moved up to fifth after coming from two goals down to defeat Rockingham City 3-2 at Saferad Stadium.

Rockingham came into the clash at the foot of the division but boosted their hopes of a second win this season when Feisal Zaw was fouled in the area and Ryan Kennedy hammered the penalty into the corner.

That lead was doubled on 12 minutes when Jethro Yumange threaded a pass through the Glory defence and Christos Vaenas finished one-on-one past Cameron Cook.

Sadly for Rockingham that was as good as it got, as Glory scored three times in the final 15 minutes of the half. Bryce Bafford made it 2-1 when he headed in a cross from the right and scores were level when Riley Warland blasted home after Rockingham failed to clear their lines. And another set-piece was their undoing as Nick Sullivan helped the ball across goal and Aidan Coyne completed the comeback.

Gwelup also moved into the top half as they put five past Cockburn at the Croatian Sporting Complex.

Julian Teles put into his own net from Shubham Mokala's cross before Hasani Sinclair netted his fifth goal of the campaign on 28 minutes.

Jon Stynes capitalised on an error at the back to make it 3-0 in first-half stoppage time, which was all but enough to give Gwelup a first league win since Round Three.

City’s Daniel Robinson found the net from the penalty spot to score for a second straight game, but Gwelup added some late gloss to the scoreline as Stynes slid in for his sixth goal of the season then Gustavo Marulanda bagged his first league goal in Gwelup colours to make it 5-1.

At Inglewood Stadium, all the goals were scored in the first half as Inglewood United and Balcatta drew 2-2.

Amir Ajan's cross was met by the head of Calum O'Connell after five minutes before Robert Petkov pulled United level from the penalty spot after winning the spot-kick himself.

Jon Corness bagged his second of the season as he followed in Dave Perich's shot, but the visitors were pegged back again when Ajak Riak brilliantly headed home on the stroke of half-time.

Finally, Armadale won their second game of the season as they defeated Bayswater City 2-0 at Alfred Skeet Reserve to move four points clear of the bottom.

Chad Nilson gave the hosts the lead with the final touch from Angel Andres' flick at the near post, and Armadale's chances of three points were boosted further when Bayswater’s Zayd Farah received a straight red card after a clash with Brian Patterson.

Pieter Jacobsz finished across City keeper Riccardo Mazzoleni on 62 minutes to secure the win as the home side inflicted a fourth loss in five on Bayswater.

Armadale 2-0 Bayswater City
ECU Joondalup 1-2 Floreat Athena
Gwelup Croatia 5-1 Cockburn City
Inglewood United 2-2 Balcatta
Rockingham City 2-3 Perth Glory
Sorrento 1-1 Perth SC

Image: FotoEnzo