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Report by Peter Simcox
Mandurah City will play State League Division One football next season after a thrilling 5-3 penalty shoot-out win against a gallant Swan United in the Relegation & Promotion Play off Final second leg at Securitas Protect Stadium on Wednesday evening.
In a pulsating game Mandurah City’s Joe O’Brien scored just after half time and the tie looked over, but goals to Brennan Borzecki and Gavin Knight levelled things up.
In extra time Oriol Fernandez restored parity for the hosts, only for James Burns to give the visitors back the lead and level things up again on aggregate and send the game to a shoot-out, where Mandurah keeper Kieran Shail saved Jay Lang’s first penalty, before the home side scored all five to win the game and set off wild celebrations in the crowd and on the pitch.
Mandurah coach Alex Grayson said he had never been in a game quite like it and was delighted the way his side fought the game out.
“What an unbelievable game,” he said.
“I’m speechless – I’ve never been involved in a game like that in my life and to see the big-time boys step up late was massive for us.”
“I didn’t realise going into extra time the away goals didn’t count and I was trying to throw the kitchen sink at it as I thought we needed another goal.
“But what a great end to the season, and eight games to go everyone thought we were down. Credit to the players we stood together and finished the season off well and to stay up tonight is massive for this football club.”
Swan Coach Paul Dundo was proud of his players’ performance and said they gave it everything.
“It’s a horrible way to lose the game on penalties, but I can’t be prouder of the boys tonight,” he said.
“We knew we needed two to get the win and the game see-sawed but at the end of the day we finished 3-2 winners, but penalties are a lottery, and we didn’t have the Powerball tonight.
“It’s been a great season for the club. I joined a week before the first game of the season and the players have been fantastic.
“Yes, we’re disappointed, but I told the players sometimes in football you have to taste defeat and use that to carry on to next season, and make sure we don’t feel that way again.”
Mandurah went into the second leg with a 2-1 lead and they were on the front foot early, with O’Brien and Fernandez a constant threat, and Swan keeper Joey Smith saved well to deny O’Brien on the quarter hour.
Swan’s front two of John Monterosso and Knight were also a handful, and the pair combined on 35 minutes to pick out James Shamim at the back post, but his shot flew wide.
The home side went close to the lead in the final minute of the first half, O’Brien fed the overlapping Jeff Bright down the left, and his shot on the run crashed off the woodwork.
Mandurah continued their pressure after the break and Reece Allan’s snap shot was superbly tipped over by Smith early, and four minutes later Mandurah’s pressure was rewarded with the lead. O’Brien found space on the edge of the penalty area and fired home off the far post.
Smith then produced another stunning save to thwart Fernandez, before Andy Brown’s free kick was deflected just wide.
Swan were struggling to break down a tight Mandurah defence but the introduction of Borzecki gave them a lift and he leveled on 74 minutes. A ball into the box wasn’t dealt with by Mandurah and Borzecki pounced to fire low past Shail.
It was game on and both sides pressed for the win. First Swan striker Knight’s shot flashed wide, then Fernandez rattled the post moments later at the other end.
The game ebbed and flowed which had the big crowd on the edge of their seats, but it was Swan who levelled the tie on 81 minutes.
Knight, who had been given plenty of advice by the Mandurah supporters all night, found space on the edge of the penalty area and finished with aplomb, and raced over to celebrate with them.
Both sides had late chances to win the game; first Smith produced another fine save to deny Allan in the first minute of stoppage time, before Knight’s header crashed off the post in the fifth.
Swans thought they had hit the front in the first minute of extra time, with Jay Lang’s shot hitting Chris Marshall on the line, and after consulting with his assistant the referee disallowed the goal for offside.
But it was Mandurah who regained the lead in the tie three minutes later. A long ball over the top sent Fernandez clear and he lobbed the on-coming keeper to score.
Dundo’s side weren’t going down without a fight, and led superbly by skipper Aaron Colli they regained the lead on the night and levelled the tie in the first minute of the second period of extra time. Knight’s cross from the right found substitute Burns, who headed home at the back post.
It was Swan finishing the game off well and Tom Black fired straight at Shail, before James Shamim’s goal bound shot was blocked and cleared by Brown, but the teams couldn’t be separated so it was off to penalties.
Shail was the hero saving Lang’s first spot kick, and Mandurah scored all of their penalties and they sealed the game when Brown scored the fifth to set off wild celebrations on and off the pitch.
State League Play Off Final Second Leg
Mandurah City 2 (O’Brien 49 min, Fernandez 94)
Swan United 3 (Borzecki 74, Knight 81, Burns 107)
Mandurah City win 5-3 on penalties
Wednesday October 3
Securitas Protect Stadium, Mandurah
Assistant referees: Arvin Shanmuganathan, Harry Bolan
Fourth official: Martin Hicks
Mandurah City: GK Kieran SHAIL, 2 Mitchell FIRTH, 3 Jeff BRIGHT, 4 Matthew STARES, 5 Dylan URQUHART, 6 Aidan CLARK (7 Joshua WARREN 74), 8 Andy BROWN, 9 Michael DE BELISS (12 Regan DAVIDSON 73), 11 Joe O’BRIEN, 16 Reece ALLAN, 17 Oriol FERNANDEZ
Substitutes not used: RGK GK Lochlan MORRISON, 10 Jack WILD, 14 Luke HOBSON
Yellow cards: Bright 36, Stares 50, Fernandez 94, Warren 120
Red cards: Nil
Swan United: GK Joey SMITH, 3 Dom ANDO (17 Tom BLACK 59), 5 Chris MARSHALL, 6 Nick TATTSICIORE (4 Brennan BORZECKI 49), 8 Aaron COLLI, 9 James SHAMIM, 10 Gavin KNIGHT, 11 John MONTEROSSO, 12 Luke COLLI (2 James BURNS 69), 15 Rory MOUTTET, 16 Jay LANG
Substitutes not used: RGK Cory HUGO, 14 Josum MOWOWO,
Yellow cards: Lang 61, Burns 78, Shamim 101, Colli 120
Red cards: Nil