Former Perth Glory midfielder Steven McGarry returned to his former club and scored the decisive second goal to give ECU Joondalup a 2-0 win in week eight of the PS4 NPLWA at the Ashfield Arena.
Gordon Smith had given the visitors the lead on the quarter hour, but ECU had former Glory keeper Lewis Italiano to thank for keeping their lead, the custodian producing a number of fine saves to thwart the Glory youngsters.
Glory coach John Gibson said his side again dominated possession and created some good chances but they are not converting them at the moment.
“They (ECU) were very organised, and look that’s what we are coming up against every week, so we have to be better than that,”Gibson said.
“We had some glorious opportunities today and we didn’t take them, and conceded two really soft goals, which we had spoken about prior to the game.
“But the minimal level is we have to compete at this level, and today was really good lesson about competing and wanting to win and it’s something we have to improve and grow into.”
Gibson said the final ball today was lacking and they need to work on their performance in the final third.
“Our quality in the front third wasn’t the best today, we have worked hard on this but we need better quality balls going into that area,” he said.
“It was a good battle in the middle of the park, and Stevie (McGarry) is a wonderful player, a great competitor and he’s a winner and you have respect that, but you have to compete against him and not be in awe of him.
“If you want to be a footballer that’s what you will come up against, we still need to better on the ball and off the ball.
“We continue to drive our environment and we will continue to do that, we just need to get better, but the message will be the same and consistent, the players make choices and we want them to make the right ones and be better footballers and people.”
McGarry, who was recognised by the Football Federation of Australia, for his contribution to Hyundai A-League football last week prior to the Grand Final in Adelaide, said it was good to get to back to winning ways and they had to fight all game.
“We were desperate for a win, and we had a game plan coming into today’s game and the boys put in a good performance,” the Scotsman explained.
“We’ve shipped a lot of goals in recent games and the priority today was to be tough to beat and I think we were today.
“We worked our soaks off and kept our shape well, and it’s great to get the three points and most importantly keep a clean sheet.”
The Glory made two changes to the side beaten 1-0 by Perth SC last week with Jacob Mustafa and Nikola Talimdzioski coming in for Aryn Williams and Jackson Morgan, while Ross Millard came on to the bench after injury.
Both sides were desperate for the points and the Glory went close in the opening minute. Joe Knowles raced down the right channel, cut inside the penalty area, but his shot was pushed around the post by the alert Italiano.
But on 14 minutes it was the visitors opening the scoring. Joseph Jones found Smith, who turned his marker, leaving the Scottish striker in on goal, he rounded keeper Jordan Thurtell, and fired home.
It was just the start ECU wanted and Glory skipper Thurtell had to be alert on the half hour to stop a second. A long throw from Jones was met by Harley Orr, whose header was pushed around the post by the Glory custodian.
Glory should have levelled on the stroke of half time. A poor clearance from Italiano only found Daniel Stynes whose shot was well saved by the ECU keeper, the rebound falling kindly to Talimdzioski, but Italiano recovered superbly to deny the young striker from close-range.
After the break the Glory continued to press and Knowles sent Talimdzioski clear five minutes in, but Italiano stood tall to deny him again.
Glory were dominating and Talimdzioski was denied again by Italiano on 67 minutes. The lively striker made space in the box, but his shot on the turn was saved by the ECU custodian.
ECU were playing far too deep and the Glory continued to dictate terms as Italiano produced his best save of the day five minutes later.
Kosta Petratos’ was given far too much space and his long-range shot was heading for the top corner but Italiano superbly pushed it around the post at full stretch.
The visitors were living dangerously but went close themselves moments later. A cross from Orr caused problems in the penalty area and Scott Robinson’s attempted clearance went inches over his own crossbar, and from the resulting McGarry corner Smith headed inches over
But with Glory chasing the game they were caught out again on 85 minutes when ECU scored the winner. Bayley Brown-Montgomery was brought down just outside the penalty area, and McGarry curled the resulting free kick into the top corner of the net to secure the points for ECU Joondalup.
Perth Glory 0
ECU Joondalup 2 (Smith 14mins, McGarry 85)
Saturday May 7th 2016
Venue: Ashfield Sports Club
Referee: Tom Glavovic
Assistants: Julian Serra, Aaron Softley
Perth Glory: GK Jordan THURTELL, 2 Gian ALBANO, 3 Sean TROUP (12 Ross MILLARD 53), 4 Scott ROBERTSON, 5 Sam MACKEARNAN, 6 Calvin WHITNEY, 7 Daniel STYNES, 8 Jacob MUSTAFA (15 Jack LEACH 81), 9 Joe KNOWLES, 10 Kosta PETRATOS, 11 Nikola TALIMDZIOSKI (13 Chok DAU 72)
Substitutes not used: RGK: Riley STEPHENSON, 14 Ben JOHNS
Yellow Cards: Robertson 43, Whitney 67
ECU Joondalup: GK Lewis ITALIANO, 2 Ryan LOWRY, 3 Joseph JONES, 4 Shane PICKERING, 5 Andy HIGGINS (15 Cian HIRRELL 67), 8 Steven WALMSLEY, 7 Harley ORR (6 Josh TUCKER 89), 10 Gordon SMITH, 11 Keylun POLLARD (9 Bayley BROWN-MONTGOMERY 67), 14 Steven MCGARRY, 18 Henry DURR
Subs not used: RGK Todd HOYLE
Yellow Cards: Nil