There were plenty of old faces at ECU Joondalup this week but it’s a new kid on the block who will be the centre of attention on Saturday night.
Sydney FC’s Brandon O’Neill, Ryan Lowry of Wellington Phoenix, Jack Iredale, who plays for Greenock Morton in Scotland, and India-based Aryn Williams all dropped in on their former club at training on Thursday.
However, the focus will be on new recruit Brad McDonald this weekend when he plays his first game for the Jacks since signing in the transfer window – against Sorrento, the club he left only last week.
McDonald, who treated his new teammates to a rendition of Oasis’ Don’t Look Back In Anger as his initiation song in the clubhouse after training, said: “It’s a tasty fixture to start with. I’ll probably cop a bit of abuse and a few kicks but that’s what it’s all about – they’ve got to catch me first!
“I knew ‘Toughy’ (ECU assistant coach David Tough) before at Wanneroo and I was keen to come here.”
The addition of McDonald and Cockburn defender Kieron Stallard, plus the return of youngster Sam Pollard, made it a “very good” transfer window, according to coach Dale McCulloch.
“We obviously got Sam Pollard just before the transfer window … he’s come back from America and he’s started nearly every game since,” McCulloch said.
“We’ve also got Brad McDonald from Sorrento, so that will be a little feisty one on the weekend, and also Kieron Stallard from Cockburn, so three quality players and we’re really happy with how the transfer window went.”
Feeding the feelgood factor at the club was their FFA Cup win over Forrestfield United last Saturday. The 5-0 victory earned ECU a Preliminary semi-final tie away to Armadale and they are one match from the national Round of 32 and the Belt up. State Cup final.
Daryl Nicol bagged his third hat-trick of the season last week but McCulloch dismissed the suggestion his side are over-reliant on the Scot’s goals.
“People talk about Daryl but I don’t care where the goals come from,” he said. “If he scores a hat-trick every week we are not going to complain.
“But the way Gordon Smith’s been playing the last few weeks, he’s had a tremendous work rate. Also we get a few goals from all over the pitch. Young Lukas de Lima … Sam Pollard scored on the weekend and our defenders have been chipping in this year too.”
Unlike ECU, Sorrento didn’t bring in anyone from outside during the window. McDonald left for ECU while Ryan Pearson headed to NPL WA leaders Bayswater City.
Coach Jamie Harnwell said he made a couple of inquiries about new players but nothing materialised.
He said: “We’re not a club that goes around and tries to bring in players here, there and everywhere. We’ve got a pretty good criteria of bringing people into the club and we’d much prefer to promote the youth than bring other people in.”
While ECU were tasting cup success last weekend, Sorrento’s players made the most of a rare week off after a heavy schedule.
“We gave them the wekend off last weekend, I think they had a bit of a team bonding session and enjoyed themselves on the Saturday,” Harnwell said.
“Hopefully they’ll be a bit fresher, there were a few tired legs coming into that last bye.”
Sorrento moved out of the bottom three a fortnight ago with a draw against Floreat Athena but Harnwell was left frustrated after they conceded a last-minute equaliser.
He added: “I think the performance in the second half was one of our best of the season. We should have been three or four goals up.
“The players know what they’ve got to do, the training the last couple of weeks has been superb, really sharp, and it’s a great game for us against ECU.”
All of this weekend’s matches are on Saturday and they include leaders Bayswater away to Balcatta, second-place Cockburn City at Subiaco, while Perth Glory’s home game against Perth SC has been switched to Dorrien Gardens.
Floreat Athena, buoyed by their win over Perth SC in the FFA Cup, host Forrestfield while Armadale travel to Joondalup United.
Two in-form sides meet at Macedonia Park when Stirling Lions host Inglewood.
Fixtures Saturday, May 26
Perth Glory v Perth SC (Dorrien Gardens, 3pm)
Floreat Athena v Forrestfield United (E&D Litis Stadium, 3pm)
Balcatta v Bayswater City (Grindleford Reserve, 3pm)
Stirling Lions v Inglewood United (Macedonia Park, 3pm)
Joondalup United v Armadale (Percy Doyle Reserve, 3pm)
Subiaco v Cockburn City (Rosalie Park, 3pm)
Sorrento v ECU Joondalup (Percy Doyle Reserve, 5pm)