TWO first-half goals earned Sorrento a 2-0 win over Perth Glory in the historic first regional National Premier Leagues WA (NPL WA) match at Wonthella Oval in Geraldton on Saturday.
The victory, secured through goals from Reece Vittiglia and Sean Canham, lifted Sorrento to third on the table as it seized its chance to leapfrog Perth SC, who lost 3-2 away to league leading Inglewood United.
Despite lashing rain and strong winds in the lead up to the match, more than 500 locals turned up to the Sorrento-Glory clash, which was part of the Geraldton Football Festival.
The crowd did not have to wait long for a goal as Vittiglia flicked a header beyond Glory goalkeeper Kyle McDonald with 14 minutes gone.
Sorrento dominated possession and territory and made it count when Canham doubled the Gulls’ advantage in the 38th minute.
Both goalkeepers were called into action in a busy second half that produced no goals but plenty of nervy moments for Glory coach John Gibson and some for Sorrento’s Jamie Harnwell.
In particular, Sorrento’s James Morgan had to be alert to the danger when he produced a well-timed block to deny Daniel Stynes as Glory tried in vain to breach the Gulls’ defence.
Sorrento were deserved winners of the NPL WA Regional Cup, and Harnwell said his team put in a great effort to take home the three points.
“The players were fantastic, and I thought our performance, particularly in the first half was first class,” he said.
“To come off a five-hour coach ride and start the game with such endeavour is a credit to the group.
“The only disappointing thing is that we didn’t come off four or five goals to the good at half time.”
Harnwell, who was also heavily involved in the co-ordination of the game through his role as Football West’s Head of Development, said the event was a great success.
“It was a great atmosphere and the players and club staff really enjoyed the trip,” he said.
“The effort from the Geraldton volunteers was huge and Sorrento is very keen to spread their regional wings further.”
Perth Glory coach John Gibson was disappointed with his team’s loss.
“It was very tough in the first half with tough weather conditions against a strong Sorrento side,” he said.
“We didn’t play to pitch and weather conditions and we certainly didn’t manage the game correctly.
“Sorrento deserved to be in front at half time but we didn’t help our own cause.
“We had a little chat at half time and I provided further solutions. The second was a very good performance but that’s two weeks in a row we’ve conceded two in the first half.”
Gibson was pleased his side had the opportunity to experience a match where the players were required to travel.
“For us, going to Geraldton as a squad was invaluable,” he said.
“The whole experience of travelling, staying overnight and playing in tough conditions was great and it’s something we look forward to doing again.”
In other round 19 matches on Saturday, Cockburn City edged Mandurah City 2-1 at Dalmatinac Park, Bayswater City claimed all three points against Joondalup United with two injury time goals to Gustavo Marulanda, and Armadale beat Stirling 2-0.
The Balcatta vs Floreat Athena match and the Subiaco vs ECU Joondalup match were postponed because of the weather conditions.
NPL WA round 19 results
Sorrento 2 (Vittiglia 14min, Canham 38)
Perth Glory 0
Inglewood United 3 (Salmon 20min, 50pen, Hina 70)
Perth Soccer Club 2 (Catarcione 67min, Sabatini 87pen)
Cockburn City 2 (Adams 25min, Albano 29pen)
Mandurah City1 (Brown 61min)
Bayswater City 3 (Sam 42min, Marulanda 90+2, 90+3)
Joondalup United 1 (Maplestone 65pen)
Armadale 2 (Quinncroft 74min, 91)
Stirling Lions 0
Subiaco v ECU Joondalup – Game postponed
Balcatta v Floreat Athena – Game postponed