Gulls get amongst top-flight visitors

Sorrento’s James A. Morgan shows Sydney’s Robert Stambolziev the Gulls won’t be pushovers. Picture: Getty Images
Sorrento’s James A. Morgan shows Sydney’s Robert Stambolziev the Gulls won’t be pushovers. Picture: Getty Images

Accustomed to crowds of 200 to 300, the players found themselves in high definition on national television performing against one of the country�s best professional sides in front of nearly 3500 supporters at Perth Oval last Wednesday night.

While they lost the match 2-0, it took nothing away from an opportunity that rarely presents itself to semi-professional athletes.

�It was amazing, to be honest. We thought we�d get a few (fans) down if the weather was nice,� Morgan said.

�But when we walked out, there was a lot more people than everyone thought there was going to be.�

Morgan, a plasterer by trade, had watched the Fox Sports coverage of the clash a number of times, describing the broadcast as surreal.

�It�s odd, because all of us spend so much time watching the English Premier League� and then all of a sudden you�re there in HD for everyone to see,� he said.

�It�s a bit daunting really� but an experience none of us will forget any time soon.�

The England-born midfielder admitted it was difficult to match the finesse of their opponents for whom soccer is a profession.

But he was proud to have at least challenged the A-League runners-up and given them cause for concern on occasion.

Down 1-0 after a first half where they never looked like scoring, the Gulls had genuine opportunities to equalise in an exciting turnaround in form.

The key moment came when substitute Jack Salter was set free down the right wing for an open shot on goal that was saved by Sydney �keeper Vedran Janjetovic.

�We couldn�t get near them in the first half, so we got a bit of a telling off at half time,� Morgan said.

�We started to get amongst them more in the second half. We were unlucky not to score.�

Known for their physical style of play, the Gulls reinforced that reputation with a number of challenges leaving Sydney players writhing on the turf.

Morgan was one of the key enforcers of the hard-nosed defensive style. He said it was not a planned tactic to fluster their more athletic rivals, but simply the way they approached their contests.

�Obviously no one tries to hurt anyone else, but we try to get amongst them,� he said.

�It�s just the way Sorrento plays: no viciousness, just a physical game.�

He praised his namesake in goals James Morgan, who was one of the side�s best, for keeping the Gulls in the game with a terrific second-half penalty save against former Perth Glory star Shane Smeltz.

It continued a rich vein of form for the �keeper, who was instrumental in the Gulls� penalties victory over Bayswater City that earned them their spot in the national stage of the FFA Cup.

Now eliminated from the knockout competition, Sorrento’s key focus becomes its National Premier Leagues WA campaign.