NPL Round Two: ECU Joondalup too good for Armadale

ECU Joondalup opened its National Premier Leagues WA (NPL) account with a 2-0 win against Armadale at ECU Football Stadium on Saturday.

Tommy Amphlett gave the home side the lead in the first half, before new Scottish striker Gordon Smith capped his league debut with the second on the hour.

Smith, who two months ago played in front of 25,000 fans in a Scottish FA Cup tie at Ibrox Stadium for Cowdenbeth against Rangers, revelled in the wet and could have had a hat-trick.

The rain was heavy at kick off, but it did not stop both sides going close with early chances.

Bayley Brown-Montgomery tested Armadale keeper Alfie Brincat with a low shot, before Jesse Fuller’s long-range shot was saved low by ECU custodian David Keenan.

On 24 minutes the home side opened the scoring after Steven McGarry picked the ball in the middle of the park, and the former Perth Glory midfielder threaded a perfect through-ball into the path of Amphlett, who finished clinically.

Armadale ended the half well and ECU had keeper Keenan to thank for keeping them ahead.

First Alex Salmon cut inside his marker before his curling shot was well saved low to Keenan’s left.

In the final minute the ECU keeper produced a stunning double save to deny the visitors, first saving low to deny Salmon and following up to thwart Banin Hasham, which was even better.

Keenan was at it again after the break, denying Salmon once more, before superbly saving Fuller’s header, in the opening three minutes.

Just three minutes later ECU doubled their advantage.

Good lead up play by Smith and Brown-Montgomery ended with the youngster sending the Scottish striker into the box, where he held off his marker and drilled a low shot across Brincat into the corner of the net.

ECU almost added a third on 79 minutes; McGarry’s free-kick found Smith, whose header crashed off the crossbar and away to safety.