It was another beautiful winter’s day in Perth as we welcomed Gwelup Croatia to the Game Guardian Stadium for round 16 of the State League Division 1. We have already played Gwelup twice this season with a win each (ours coming in the night series final) so it was sure to be a close affair.
As always, the curtain raiser was the under 18s. After a very promising first half in which we could’ve easily found ourselves 2/3-0 up we went in at 0-0. The second half was a different story and 3 Gwelup goals seen them take all three points.
Next up was the table topping reserves. This was a massive game for the reserves who were two points clear of Gwelup going into the match although Gwelup have one game in hand it was a chance to really stamp our authority on the title race. In what was always going to be a cagey affair and a game of few chances we shared the points with a 0-0 stalemate. It was mixed emotions at the end for the boys but in truth a draw was probably a fair result. One major positive from the match was that Club Captain Rhys Loxely was able to get through 45 minutes on his return after 8 weeks out with injury.
Last but certainly not least was the first team. If (and it was a big if) we won it put us 5 points behind top spot with 5 games remaining. We started the game on the front foot. Good work down the right-hand side from Jordan Hart and Luquan Sayyed resulted in the latter putting a delicious cross in that Dan Corbett was only inches away from getting on the end of. Dan looked like he was in the mood and got reward for pressing and blocking the goalkeepers attempted clearance. The clearance fell to Ben Rodgers who expertly lifted the ball over the keeper but was brilliantly cleared off the line by the Gwelup defender. He however cleared it straight to Ryan Francis on the left who instead of crossing unleashed an unstoppable drive into the far top corner of the net to put us deservedly 1-0 up. League leaders Gwelup grew expectedly back into the game and almost equalized when a bending shot from the left forced a brilliant save from keeper Ben Parry. 1-0 HT. The second half saw Gwelup pressing for an equaliser. They were very unlucky it didn’t come when a cross from the right was headed towards goal only to be blocked on the line unintentionally by the Gwelup striker! There was a flash point on 60 minutes when a Gwelup defender seemed to needlessly kick out at Dan Corbett and with the referee right next to them produced a straight red card. Unfortunately, all of our hard work was cancelled out with a long throw into the box was bundled into the net despite what looked like a very obvious foul on Keeper Ben Parry. The action, of course, was not over yet. Gwelup were reduced to 9 men when their striker fell over in the box (not for the first time in the afternoon) looking for a penalty. When it was not given, he gave the referee an earful of abuse and was shown a second yellow. The last 10 minutes was understandably all Forrie as we pushed for a winner against the 9 men. With numerous chances going begging the best one fell to Mitchell Crocker whose effort from 20 yards was deflected leaving the keeper with no chance but luckily for Gwelup it fell just on the wrong side of the post. 1-1 it finished with a point each.
This now means we’ve only lost 1 of our last 10 games… unfortunately far too many draws see us still sit seventh on the ladder. Next weekend we travel to Subiaco for round 17!