NPL: Armadale go down 1-0 to resurgent ECU Joondalup


ECU Joondalup striker Gordon Smith celebrates his goal.
ECU Joondalup striker Gordon Smith celebrates his goal.

ECU Joondalup’s resurgence continued and recorded three wins on the bounce after a 1-0 win against Armadale at Alfred Skeet Reserve on Saturday.

Gordon Smith scored the only goal of the game with a stunning header midway through the second half.

But all the thoughts of the ECU Joondalup players were with Scottish midfielder Steven McGarry, whose father passed away last week.

The ECU players wore black armbands in a show of respect for the McGarry family and a minute’s silence was held before the start of the game.

It was a high tempo start to the game, with both sides needing the points to stay in contact with the top five and there were a number of feisty challenges, but early chances were few and far between.

The first real chance fell to the home side on 26 minutes after a sustained spell of pressure.

Jesse Fuller played in Anthony Skorich, whose shot on the run was saved low by Lewis Italiano.

ECU hit back and should have taken the lead four minutes later. Shane Pickering won the ball in the middle of the park and slipped Smith clear on goal, but Alec Radonich stood tall to deny the Scottish striker.

Armadale ended the half the better.

The visitors lifted after the break and Smith was again denied superbly by Radonich after good work on the left by Andy Higgins and Tommy Amphlett.

New signing Daryl Nicol came off the bench on the hour for the visitors and he should have opened the scoring three minutes later.

Jayden Drummond found space on the right and played Nicol in one-on-one with Radonich. His shot beat the keeper but flashed inches past the post.

Armadale, with Ellis Healing and Fuller outstanding, hit back and Italiano then had to be alert to save Fuller’s shot after the Armadale captain had caught Higgins in possession.

But on 68 minutes ECU hit the front. Higgins was sent down the left and whipped in a fantastic cross to Smith, who headed home superbly into the top corner of the net, giving Radonich no chance.

The game lifted and it was end-to-end football and the home side almost hit back moments later.

Healing’s free kick on the edge of the penalty area whistled past the post.

Armadale continued to press and in stoppage time almost nicked an equaliser.

A Healing cross picked out substitute Raveshlan Kuppusamy, whose shot was superbly tipped over the bar by Italiano.