Gwelup Croatia’s fairy tale run in the FFA Cup came to an unceremonious end on Wednesday as they lost 4-0 to Adelaide Comets.
Gwelup, the State League Division One leaders, had overcome three NPL WA teams on their way to the national Round of 32.
But they were well beaten by the excellent Comets, who made light of the rain and swirling wind at Dorrien Gardens to win with plenty to spare.
The NPL SA team took less than five minutes to nose ahead. The crowd were still settling into their seats when Mark Ochieng fed Ibrahima Kamara down the left. Kamara pulled the ball back from the byline and Tom Briscoe met his cross to fire past Connor Campbell in the Gwelup goal.
Ochieng and Kamara combined well throughout the first half, while Briscoe went close to making it 2-0 as his side-foot volley from the corner of the area drifted just over.
Campbell rescued Gwelup two minutes before the break with a fine low save to deny Kamara, but Gwelup were caught napping from the corner and the unmarked Terence Carter took advantage to stab home his side’s second.
Gwelup had the perfect opportunity to get back in the game three minutes into the second half. A great through ball from James Sammut sent Benny Kouakou in on goal, but the striker took one step too many and his shot was blocked before Victor Brauner’s follow-up effort flew over the top.
Comets soon regained their dominance in the middle of the park and it was no surprise when they went 3-0 up. Allan Welsh’s ball into the penalty area was only cleared to Nathan Andijanto and his low shot had enough to beat Campbell.
Gwelup went close when defender Cameron Yorke’s header hit the crossbar but it wasn’t their night and Comets added a fourth near the end. Referee Adam Fielding spotted a handball from Stefan Simic’s cross and Welsh sent Campbell the wrong way with his penalty.
At the final whistle the visitors celebrated their deserved victory on the pitch. But it was another disappointing return to the home of Perth SC for former Azzurri coach Taki Nicolaidis following his team’s Belt Up Cup Final loss to Armadale there 11 days ago.
“It’s a game of chances and if we had gone in at half time 1-0 down we would have been happy, but to concede so late really hurt us,” Nicolaidis said.
“But credit to them, they are a very good side, and we rolled the dice after half time and their pace up top exposed us at times.”
Comets head coach Theo Tsiounis said: “I think scoring the early goal took a bit of the pressure off us, and getting the second on the stroke half time was the sealer for us.
“But credit to all our players they were fantastic tonight, it was a great team effort overall and every player contributed to the win.”
Midfielder Briscoe, who was outstanding in the centre of the park, said they had done their homework on Gwelup.
“We watched some footage of the Gwelup game against Armadale. We knew their strengths and we know if we stopped them scoring we would back ourselves to score a couple, and that’s what happened,” he said.
Armadale are the next WA side to play in the FFA Cup when they face Cairns FC in Queensland next Wednesday.
Six days after that Perth Glory are up against Melbourne Victory, possibly at Dorrien Gardens which is perhaps why coach Tony Popovic, assistant Hayden Foxe and striker Andy Keogh were among a Glory delegation watching last night’s match.
Gwelup Croatia 0
Adelaide Comets 4 (Briscoe 5min, Carter 45, Andijanto 55, Welsh pen 86)
Wednesday July 25
Referee: Adam Fielding
Assistant referees: Matthew Southern, Josh Nixon
Fourth official: Shane Skinner
Gwelup Croatia: GK Connor CAMPBELL, 2 Michael PUGLIESE, 3 Kwangmook LIM, 4 Cameron YORKE, 6 Brodie MARTIN, 7 James SAMMUT, 9 David HEAGNEY, 10 Benjamin KOUAKOU (8 Brian MASHINGAIDZE 67), 11 Isaac KOOMSON, 14 Victor BRAUNER (21 Reece ABRAMS 76), 20 Bobby WILSON
Substitutes not used: RGK Riley STEPHENSON, 16 Stephen O’LEARY, 17 Sebastian MUNOZ
Yellow Cards: Sammut 33, Wilson 89, Abrams 90+2
Red cards: Nil
Adelaide Comets: GK Julian TORRESAN, 4 Tom DITTMAR, 5 Adam LECOMU, 7 Ibrahima KAMARA, 8 Mark OCHIENG, 11 Tom BRISCOE (10 Christopher PEPE 88), 14 Nathan ANDIJANTO, 15 Stefan SIMIC (21 Shan TOBIAS 88), 18 Terence CARTER (9 Andreas WEINS 84), 22 Allan WELSH, 23 Mitchell NICHOLSON
Substitutes not used: RGK George SAVVOUDIS, 16 Stephane TRAVAGLIONE
Yellow Cards: Carter 46
Red cards: Nil