Round 15 of the National Premier Leagues WA campaign gets under way on Friday night with a top-versus-bottom clash at Percy Doyle Reserve.
Struggling Joondalup United couldn’t ask for a tougher assignment as they chase their second victory of the season, with leaders Bayswater City on a five-match winning run.
And should Nick Jennings’ side need reminding of the firepower Baysie possess, they need only reflect on their Round Two meeting in early March when they kept it scoreless for more than an hour yet still ended up on the wrong end of a 7-0 hiding.
Bayswater banged in another four at Balcatta last Saturday and coach Chris Coyne believes his side will improve further now a number of key players are returning.
Action from Bayswater’s win over Balcatta last Saturday. Photo by Jonny Warrington
Coyne said: “We’re happy with where we’re at; we’d rather be looking down than looking up. But we’re still not anywhere near the finished article yet.
“We did okay on Saturday. We’re just starting to get some fit bodies back into the squad … we’ve really been bare bone the last five, six weeks and we’ve managed to get through that and get some results together.
“Now we’re getting the likes of (Brent) Griffiths and (Jason) Mirco and that coming back into the squad, it should, everything going well, make us stronger.”
Last week Bayswater were slow out of the blocks and needed a fantastic penalty save from Devon Spence to keep Balcatta out in the opening 10 minutes. Coyne accepted responsibility for a “sluggish” start after giving his players an extended break.
He said: “We gave them 10 days off and it was purely because we’ve been rolling the same 10, 11 bodies the last five, six games. We were aware they needed a rest, so I take full responsibility.
“But once Devon made that save, it was the impetus the boys needed to push on and we scored three times in the first half.”
Looking ahead to Friday’s match, Coyne said: “I think Nick and the boys have been a bit unlucky, they’ve not had the rub of the green at times. And when they’ve been in games the luck seems to have gone the other way.”
For Joondalup the situation is stark – 10 points from safety with 12 matches to play. They must start winning soon.
Coach Jennings said: “We’ve got 12 games left to raise our standards … higher standards, higher achievement is what we’re looking for.
“It will be a great escape if we achieve it but nothing’s impossible. We believe we can get out of trouble but obviously it’s going to take quite a few wins.
“Bayswater are the flagship of WA football, it’s always a massive challenge when you come up against the best. But we’ll have one or two surprises up our sleeve. We’ll have a real go.”
If United are to back up their coach’s belief they will have to cut out the kind of mistakes they made in last week’s 3-1 loss against Armadale.
Jennings added: “We’ve killed ourselves. The league table doesn’t lie. Individual errors, soft goals have killed us. We work so hard Tuesday, Thursday but it’s biting us on the backside.”
The remaining matches take place on Saturday with the southern derby between Armadale and Forrestfield United taking place at Alfred Skeet Reserve at 7pm.
Balcatta celebrate one of their four goals against Balcatta. Photo by Jonny Warrington
Armadale will start as favourites but Forrestfield will hope the home side have one eye on their FFA Cup Preliminary semi-final against ECU Joondalup, which takes place on Monday.
ECU are at home to another side with FFA Cup commitments on Monday, Floreat Athena. Howard Tweats’ side, who face Division One leaders Gwelup Croatia in the cup, also desperately need to pick up their league form.
Sorrento and Perth SC meet at Percy Doyle Reserve, while Cockburn City can keep the pressure on Bayswater with three points at Stirling Lions.
Fellow title hopefuls Perth Glory and Inglewood United are both away from home – Glory head to Balcatta while United travel to Subiaco.
Fixtures Friday, June 1 Joondalup United v Bayswater City (Percy Doyle Reserve, 7pm)
Saturday, June 2
ECU Joondalup v Floreat Athena (ECU Football Stadium, 3pm)
Balcatta v Perth Glory (Grindleford Reserve, 3pm)
Stirling Lions v Cockburn City (Macedonia Park, 3pm)
Sorrento v Perth SC (Percy Doyle Reserve, 3pm)
Subiaco v Inglewood United (Rosalie Park, 3pm)
Armadale v Forrestfield United (Alfred Skeet Reserve, 7pm)
Monday, June 4 FFA Cup Gwelup Croatia v Floreat Athena (Croatian Sporting Complex, 2.30pm)
Armadale v ECU Joondalup (Alfred Skeet Reserve, 5.30pm)