INGLEWOOD United will be aiming to claim only its second top-flight league title in the club’s 63-year history when it hosts ECU Joondalup at Inglewood Stadium on tomorrow.
Victory for Inglewood coach Taki Nicolaidis will ensure the fortunes of his former club Perth SC, away to Sorrento, will have no bearing on the destination of the National Premier Leagues WA title.
Last weekend, Perth, who Nicolaidis steered to second place in the NPL WA in 2015, could have sealed the title by beating Inglewood at Dorrien Gardens but were undone by goals from Ash Rosindale and Callum O’Connell.
The scales have now tipped in favour of Inglewood, who lead Perth by two points heading into the final round of the season.
“It was deuce and then advantage to them and now it’s match point and we’re serving to win,” Nicolaidis said.
“But I’ve been around for long enough to know that things don’t always fall into place. We’ve just got to keep our feet on the ground.”
Although Inglewood, then known as Kiev, was formed in 1951, the team did not play a game until 1953 and waited 43 years before claiming its first league success.
Anything other than an Inglewood victory would allow Perth to clinch the title if it beats Sorrento at Percy Doyle Reserve.
In one of the most exciting finishes to a season, Inglewood, on 42 points, is the only team to have secured a place in the Top Four Cup, which is a separate knock-out competition to be run at the end of the league campaign.
Six other clubs, including Perth on 40 points, are fighting for the remaining three places with Floreat Athena, ECU Joondalup and Sorrento on 38 points and sixth-placed Bayswater City on 35.
Perth’s most recent championship success was in 2011 when it beat Sorrento in the Grand Final. It last topped the league standings in 2005.
Perth’s chances will not be helped by the suspension of influential skipper Clark Keltie and midfielder Nathan Diaz, while Inglewood will be without John Migas.
ECU and Sorrento, who have both been in fine form recently, will be aiming to play gatecrashers at the separate parties.
Dale McCulloch’s Joondalup are unbeaten in its past 11 matches, while Sorrento extended its winning streak to six matches with a 3-2 success over Cockburn City on Wednesday.
NPL WA Final Round Fixtures
Saturday, August 27
Armadale v Subiaco (Alfred Skeet Reserve, 3pm)
Perth Glory v Stirling Lions (Ashfield Arena, 3pm)
Cockburn City v Floreat Athena (Dalmatinac Park, 3pm)
Bayswater City v Balcatta (Finance 365 Stadium, 3pm)
Inglewood United v ECU Joondalup (Inglewood Stadium, 3pm)
Sorrento v Perth SC (Percy Doyle Reserve, 3pm)