A late goal from substitute David Heagney has seen Gwelup Croatia cement first place on the State League Division One table as they defeated Western Knights 2-1 in round 11 at Croatia Sporting Complex on Saturday.
Winger Noah Shamaki scored the opener for Gwelup with a headed effort in the 27th minute before Steve Burton replied in the 68th minute with a header of his own.
Although Western Knights looked the more likely to find the winner it was Gwelup who stole derby glory at the death.
Gwelup coach Taki Nicolaidis admitted it was a scrappy win but said he was satisfied with his side’s defensive performance in the second-half.
“It wasn’t the best performance over 90 minutes but we’ll take the three points,” he said.
“It was pretty much a game of two halves today, I thought we were quite disciplined and played the ball quite well in the first-half.
“And in the second-half they came out and put us under a bit of pressure but we put our bodies on the line when it counted.
“We’ve dropped points in the last two games, so it was important today that we maintained out position at the top.”
After a tightly contested start to the game, the deadlock was broken after a James Summut corner found Shamaki who headed the ball in off the post.
The Knights had a chance to level the scores just before the break when Dean Hurley stole the ball off a defender in the box however his shot was saved by keeper Riley Stephenson.
The away-side began the second-half with intent and fashioned a good opportunity to score in the 67th minute when Burton received the ball on the by-line.
The forward crossed the ball to Josh Cortez however the substitute skied his volleyed effort over an open net.
Western Knights did not have to wait long to make amends as one minute later Burton headed a free-kick from half-way past a diving Stephenson to make it 1-1.
Burton was at it again four minutes later when he chipped the ball to Jonty Turner whose shot from an angle was just kept out thanks to a deft save from Stephenson.
The winner came in the 84th minute when a shot from outside of the box from Heagney found the back of the net.
The visitors had a golden opportunity to equalise a mere minute later as a chipped effort from Burton hit the crossbar before rebounding to Turner who fired over the bar from close range.
Western Knights coach Trim Morgan said he was disappointed with his side’s inability to finish their chances but praised the performance of striker Steve Purton.
“We didn’t play well in the first-half but we were superb in the second but if you don’t finish your chances you don’t win games and we squandered numerous chances today,” he said.
“Steve was excellent today, he lead the line well and has been a massive influence at the club over the past couple of weeks so I’m really happy to have signed him.”
Gwelup Croatia 2 (Shamaki 27min, Heagney 84)
Western Knights 1 (Burton 68)
Saturday, June 23
Croatia Sporting Complex
Referee: A Best
Assistant referees: J Mkandawfre, J Weit
Gwelup Croatia SC: 2. Michael PUGLIESE, 4. Cameron YORKE, 6. Brodie MARTIN, 7. James SAMMUT, 14. Victor BRAUNER, 16. Stephen O’LEARY, 17. Sebastian MUNOZ (C) (11. Isaac KOOMSON 70’), 25. Noah SHAMAKI, 28. Kwangmook LIM, 47. Alex CLARKE (9. David HEAGNEY 59’), 98. Riley STEPHENSON (GK)
Substitutes not used: 1. Connor CAMPBELL, 24. Kyle MURRAY, 30. Reece ABRAMS
Yellow cards: Yorke 29, Brauner 64, Sammut 68
Red cards: Nil
Western Knights: 1. Sam STONE (GK) 2. Benny HOWE, 4. David MURPHY, 5. Graham TOUGH (C), 8. Alex RANDAL, 9. Dean HURLEY (7. Josh CORTEZ 55’), 10. Brian PATTERSON, 11. Jack RYCROFT, 16. Dave CLARKE, 17. Jonty TURNER, 19. Steve BURTON
Substitutes not used: 14. Paul MURRAY, 18. Dom DE FELICE, 22. Jordan COMBE
Yellow cards: Patterson 63, Rycroft 64, Murphy 84
Red cards: Nil