Two-goal David Heagney was the extra-time hero as first division Gwelup Croatia dumped NPL WA side Subiaco out of the FFA Cup at the Croatian Sporting Complex on Sunday.
Having cancelled out Joshua Booyson’s opener in the second half, Heagney struck again in the first period of extra-time to seal the cup shock.
The 2-1 win followed another upset in the previous round against Cockburn City and Gwelup are now just one match from the State Cup final and with it the national Round of 32 of the FFA Cup.
Coach Taki Nicolaidis was delighted with his team’s show of character. “One-nil down at half-time, we could have thrown the towel in but we rolled up our sleeves,” he said.
On a warm late autumn afternoon, it was the visitors who started the brighter with player-coach Ian McMurray shooting wide with the goal gaping before Jonas Dorling forced a smart save from Gwelup goalkeeper Riley Stephenson moments later.
The NPL WA side would get their just reward after 24 minutes, however, as Stephenson failed to deal with Manase Abendelwa’s corner and Booyson volleyed home.
Division One leaders Gwelup, unbeaten through the first five rounds of the league, looked to hit back immediately and Victor Brauner went close before winger Isaac Koomson showed a nice turn of pace to lose his man before shooting across the face of goal.
A defensive mishap by Gwelup’s Bobby Wilson almost allowed Robert Harding through on goal on the stroke of half-time, but Stephenson was up to the challenge to keep the margin at one goal.
Gwelup came out with a bang after the break and immediately looked more threatening as Heagney forced a good save out of Ryan Montgomery.
Just past the hour mark the Subiaco keeper could do nothing to stop Gwelup levelling, however, as Heagney’s low shot found the back of the net after a clever switch of play from substitute Benjamin Kouakou.
Just three minutes later Subiaco had the perfect opportunity to regain their lead but Booyson couldn’t keep his header down from Jackson Dongray’s long throw-in.
Dorling and Harding both had late chances to win it for Subiaco but couldn’t get past a stubborn Gwelup defence and the match went into extra-time.
Subiaco would live to rue those missed chances 10 minutes into the extra period when Heagney beat the offside trap to slot past the out-rushing Montgomery.
With Subiaco throwing bodies forward in search of the equaliser, they opened themselves up at the back and Kouakou missed two clear-cut opportunities to seal the win.
It didn’t matter, though, and Gwelup held on to record the upset and advance to the Preliminary Round Seven.
“I thought we deserved more from the game,” McMurray said.
“We’re disappointed but a lot of young boys played who haven’t featured in the first team before.”
Gwelup Croatia SC 2 (Heagney 62min, 100)
Subiaco 1 (Booyson 24)
Croatian Sporting Complex
Sunday, May 20
Referee: Michael Jasinski
Assistant referees: Adrien Liechti, Frank Laval
Gwelup Croatia SC: 2. Michael PUGLIESE (18. Isaac NEHEMIE 74), 4. Cameron YORKE, 5. Kwangmook LIM, 6. Brodie MARTIN (10. Benjamin KOUAKOU 53), 7. James SAMMUT (17. Sebastian MUNOZ (99), 9. David HEAGNEY, 11. Isaac KOOMSON, 14. Victor BRAUNER, 16. Stephen O’LEARY, 20. Bobby WILSON, 61. Riley STEPHENSON (GK)
Substitutes not used: 1. Connor CAMPBELL (GK), 3. Nelson TSHONGO
Yellow cards: Sammut (91), Kouakou (101)
Red cards: Nil
Subiaco: 1. Ryan MONTGOMERY, 4. Robert HARDING, 5. Manase ABENDELWA, 6. Jackson DONGRAY, 11. Joshua BOOYSON (7. Leigh MORGAN 75), 12. Nathan SMITH, 13. Jonas DORLING, 14. Ross JARMAN (8. Jack BARDSLEY), 16. Dean APLEGREN, 17. Alex CASTIELLO, 19. Ian McMurray (2. Jack Andrews)
Substitutes not used: 9. Matthew CLARK, 21. Teophile BROWN
Yellow cards: Booyson (56)
Red cards: Nil