Forrestfield United are one step closer to joining the PS4 NPLWA competition in 2018 after a dominant 3-0 win over Mandurah City in their first leg play-off game Hartfield Park last night.
The two sides will now prepare for their second play-off at Mandurah City’s Securitas Protect Stadium on Saturday.
All Flags State League Division One side Forrestfield dominated from the first whistle and skipper Liam Merigan gave them the lead early, before Rhys Loxley doubled their advantage before half time.
Mandurah pressed in the second half but couldn’t find a way past a tight Forrestfield back four, and Loxley put the icing on the cake by adding the third.
Forrestfield coach Rod Banjac thought his side deserved the win.
“It was a polished performance tonight, the boys were focused and rose to the occasion,” he said.
“We’ve had some tough times and some tough games in recent weeks, but the boys were well prepared and they executed the game plan to perfection.
“We will need more of the same on Saturday, and the players know that.”
Forrestfield skipper Merigan will go into the second leg play-off full of confidence.
“We will have the same mentality going into Saturday’s game, nothing changes for us,” he said.
“We need to maintain our high standards to come away with the right result.
“We don’t fear anyone, but we respect them (Mandurah) being a good footballing side.”
Mandurah coach Steve Robinson was disappointed with his side’s performance in the first leg.
“It was a terrible result for us tonight and I’m absolutely devastated,” he said.
“I thought we set up well, but I don’t know if it was the occasion, nerves, or a mixture of both, but it didn’t pay off and I totally take the responsibility for that.
“We didn’t create many chances tonight and it’s just not good enough. I had harsh words with the lads at half time and after the game, and I’m sure there will be a reaction on Saturday.”
It was a great atmosphere at kick off with both sets of supporters trying to out-sing each other, but it was the home side who made the better start.
Ben Rogers’ early shot was saved low by Kieran Shail, and on ten minutes Forrestfield’s pressure was rewarded with the opening goal.
Jamie Duncan played the ball into Merigan who found a pocket of space on the edge of the penalty area and his shot was saved by Shail, but the midfielder was quickest to react and fired home the rebound.
Forrestfield were looking dangerous every time they went forward and Mitch Croker saw his low shot crash off the base of the post moments later.
It wasn’t a surprise when Forrestfield added a second on 23 minutes. Loxley wasn’t closed down, and his shot from 18meters went under the body of Shail and into the net, much to the delight of the home faithful.
Mandurah hit back and created their first chance of the night five minutes later, Ryan Francis sending Jordan Rhodes in on goal, but Luke Martino stood tall to deny him.
It was the best period of the match for the visitors and Rhodes’ snap shot on the half hour flashed over the top, but Forrestfield still looked dangerous and Merigan’s long-range shot was saved low by Shail.
Forrestfield continued to dominate after the break and Loxley fired over the top early. The winger was sent clear again moments later by Trevor Laure, but he failed to find the target.
On 73 minutes Forrestfield scored a vital third goal. A cross into the penalty area wasn’t dealt with by Mandurah, and Loxley pounced to fire home from close-range.
Loxley limped off the pitch moments later and Mandurah pressed for an important away goal, but Martino was alert to punch Rhodes’ cross shot away, and Jeff Bright’s follow up shot whistled over the top.
It was the Forrestfield supporters celebrating at the final whistle, but in the changerooms Rod Banjac and his team were already focusing on the second leg of the play-off.
“Someone said we were going to sing the club song, but the players and I said it’s only half time,” he said.
“We have another massive game at Mandurah on Saturday. We will be better for this experience and I will do everything in my powers to make sure we bring it home now.
“We have a three goal advantage, and we have to ride it through for the next 90 minutes to earn our spot in the PS4 NPLWA.”
The second leg of the play-off will take place on Saturday, September 23 at Securitas Protect Stadium in Mandurah, kicking off at 2:30pm.
Forrestfield United 3 (Merigan 10min, Loxley 23, 73)
Mandurah City 0
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Referee: Steven Gregory
Assistants: Michal Jasinski, Stuart Muldoon
Fourth Official: Tom Glavovic
Forrestfield United: GK Luke MARTINO, 4 Mark BARNETT, 5 Jamie DUNCAN (12 Leslie MARI 63’), 6 Matt HAROLD, 8 Mitch CROCKER, 10 Jordan HART (7 Trevor LAURE 69’), 11 Liam MERIGAN (C), 13 Scott BARKER, 14 Ben ROGERS, 15 Trent BLEWETT, 23 Rhys LOXLEY (3 Sedad YAGLI 77’)
Substitutes not used: RGK Ben PARRY, 2 Joshua KOTIO
Yellow cards: Nil
Mandurah City: GK Kieran SHAIL, 2 Oliver MCGEE, 3 Jeff BRIGHT (C), 4 Thomas STRAKER, 5 Mitchell FIRTH, 6 Lance LOUVIE, 7 Jack EADES, 8 Joe O’BRIEN (9 Sean TROUP 46’), 10 Jordan RHODES, 11 Ryan FRANCIS (16 Daniel DAVIES 77’), 12 Joshua WARREN (15 Slade RULE 59’)
Substitutes not used: 14 Kevin CASTLE, 17 Daniel MARSHALL
Yellow cards: Straker 92’