A hat-trick by Gavin Knight helped Gwelup Croatia to a 4-1 win over North Perth United in Round 11 of the Consolidated Energy Amateur Premier League at Woodville Reserve on Sunday.
An early goal from Knight highlighted a mostly even first half before Gwelup ran away with the result in the second period.
Hat-trick hero Knight said it felt great to help his side earn the three points, and praised a strong team performance.
“It’s not an individual performance for anyone, it’s just a team game from the first minute until the last minute,” he said.
“As long as we get three points at the end that’s all that matters.”
While the result earns Gwelup a six-point buffer at the top of the table, coach Mike Ford said there is still a long way to go.
“Every game, same thing, we have to put all the effort in,” Ford said.
“We have to make sure that we don’t go out there thinking we’ve already won this.”
Steve Purton sent the visiting fans into momentary raptures in the 3rd minute when he slotted home, but the assistant had his flag raised.
Knight opened his and his side’s account in bizarre circumstances in the 12th minute, when he applied pressure to a risky defensive back pass.
North Perth keeper Paul Rainford attempted to clear the ball but kicked it at Knight with the deflection finding the back of the net.
The rest of the half saw an end to end contest with Gwelup holding the greater share of possession.
David Perich came close to equalising for the home side early in the second half with a long-range curling free kick but Thomas Dixon made a great diving save to deny him.
Gwelup were awarded a penalty in the 65th minute when a shot from Purton was deemed to have struck the hand of Darryl Gregory.
Knight stepped up and fired beyond the reach of Rainford, who dived the right way.
The result was effectively sealed two minutes later when Knight completed his hat-trick in style.
Benny Kouakou played in a fast-paced cross from the right and Knight timed his run well to head the ball in to the roof of the net.
Dejan Andric added to the damage in the 87th minute when he was first to the ball to head home after Rainford had parried an initial shot from Kouakou.
Substitute Steve Henry headed home a consolation for North Perth in the last moments of injury time but there was no cause to celebrate.
North Perth coach Alex Carter said an inability to hold possession in the middle cost his side on the day.
“I thought we set up reasonably well defensively but giving away cheap possession in the midfield cost us today,” Carter said.
The defeat is just the second North Perth have endured in 11 league outings this year, and Carter said his side still had everything to play for.
“We’re still looking to win (the league) and there’s no reason why we can’t,” he said.
“We’ve got to make sure we keep the pressure on Gwelup and keep it interesting until the final whistle at the end of the year.”
North Perth United 1 (Henry 90+4)
Gwelup Croatia 4 (Knight 12, 66 pen, 68, Andric 87)
Sunday, July 10, 2016
Referee: A Paraskevas
Assistant referee: K Harris
North Perth: GK Paul RAINFORD, 2. Leroy VAN ZWAN, 4. Keith MULLINS, 5. Darryl GREGORY, 6. David PERICH, 7. Hussain NASSER (16. Steve HENRY), 8. Noah SHAMAKI, 9. Medhi GLHOMI, 10. Emmon KELLY, 12. Michael ENGLISH (11. Dan CONWAY 73), 17. Stuart AITKEN
Substitutes not used: 13. Ago MUJIC, 19. John SAVIGNER, 111. Michael BRAND
Yellow cards: Gregory 51’, Shamaki 64’
Red cards: nil
Gwelup: GK Thomas DIXON, 2. Steve PURTON, 8. Jake VERINI, 10. Gavin KNIGHT (16. Luka JUKIC 70), 11. Benny KOUAKOU, 14. Isaac KOOMSON (82. Nicolas TATASCIORE 76), 17. Sebastian MUNOZ, 22. Joseph JONES, 30. Salvador CHAVEZ (5. Romano FRANULIC 44’), 43. Marcus NATOLI, 99. Dejan ANDRIC
Substitutes not used: 3. Chris WYLIE, 88. Kris SPASESKI
Yellow cards: nil
Red cards: nil