An injury time penalty from substitue Joseph O’Brien gave Mandurah City a 2-1 away win at Wanneroo City in the first leg of their Division One/Two Promotion & Relegation Play Off Semi Final on Saturday afternoon.
Wanneroo looked to have pulled a draw out of the fire when Ash Corker lived up to his name by cracking home a 35-yard screamer in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
But O’Brien’s second of the match turned the tie back in Mandurah’s favour and they will fancy their chances of making the final when they play the second leg at home on Wednesday night.
Mandurah coach Billy Lent didn’t try to play down the significance of the late winner.
“I think it resembles the way we have been all year,” he said.
“Absolutely happy for the boys. We got the rewards, we worked so hard and stayed positive to stay in the game after conceding the lead like that, it’s massive for us.”
Asked whether supersub O’Brien will start on Wednesday, Lent said: “We’ll see how he goes on Tuesday but he has definately proved himself.”
Both teams started off very defensively, creating few chances in a goaless first half.
But that all changed when O’Brien entered the fray in the 62nd minute and it took him just five minutes to put Mandurah in front.
Division Two runners up Wanneroo, who went into the tie on the back of a 16 game unbeaten run, looked out of the contest until Cork equalised with a stunning strike.
But O’Brien soon popped their balloon with the late winner from the spot after he had been tripped.
Mandurah, who finished the season second bottom in Division One, are clear favourites to advance to a two-legged final against Swan United or Dianella White Eagles, with Wanneroo coach Tim Kantor faced with a big task to get his players back up for Wednesday night’s second leg.
State League Play Off First Leg
Wanneroo City 1 (Corker 90+4min) Mandurah City 2 (O’Brien 67, 90+6min pen) Saturday, September 22 Wanneroo Kick-off: 3pm Referee: Shane Skinner
Assistant referees: Bent, Robinson
Wanneroo City: 1. Andy WILLIAMSON (GK), 36. Gareth LLOYD, 8. Kye DOUGLAS, 40. Adam O’NEIL, 23. Godfrey ASIMWE, 21. Ash CORKER, 4. Dave WHILLIANS, 7. Jack HAILSTONES, 30. Shakeel ALEXANDER, (10. Dom BREARO ELLIOTT 66min), 26. Matt FRANKEN, (Nathan SCURRY HT) 35. Flynn NOLAN (52. Erik LOPEZ HERNANDEZ 70min) Substitutes not used: 50. Alex ANNIS, 6. Natt HATTON Yellow cards: 21. Ash CORKER, 4. Dave WHILLIANS, 36. Gareth LLOYD Red cards: Nil
Mandurah City: 1 Kieran SNAIL (GK), 2 Mitchell FIRTH, 3 Jeffrey BRIGHT, 4 Matthew STARES, 5 Maxwell SNELSON, (15 Dylan VERNHART 81min) 6 Aidan CLARK, (11 Joseph O’BRIEN 62min) 7 Joshua WARREN, 8 Andrew BROWN (C), 9 Reece ALLAN, 10 Cohen AITKEN, (Regan DAVIDSON 85min) 17 Oriol FERNANDEZ Substitutes not used: 12 Alex GRAYSON, , 20 Niall DIXON Yellow cards: 6 Aidan CLARK Red cards: Nil