Top-of-the-table North Perth United defeated bottom-of-the-table Southern Spirit 6-0 in the Belt Up Amateur Premier Division at Woodville Reserve on Sunday.
The scores were locked at 0-0 at half-time but two goals from Oscar Kelly and further goals to Sean Lahert, Paul Gabel, Dan Conway and Edin Nalic ensured an upset was not on the cards.
The result means North Perth maintain their four-point gap at the top after Kingsley beat Subiaco 6-0 while it will be Division One football for Spirit next season.
“We were really scrappy in the first half, in possession of the ball we were giving away quite cheap possession,” North Perth coach Alex Carter said.
“Our shape was a little bit all over the shop as well, there was a lot of individual efforts in the first-half.
“We addressed probably three or four points at half-time. It was more our starting positions with our shape and how we pressed to win the ball back.
“And credit to the boys as well, second half they came out and they had some unity in what we were trying to do and some collectiveness. And obviously it showed in how we turned the game around in the second half.
“The game (against Wembley Downs) next week’s massive. The game against Kingsley will mean a lot more, obviously, if we don’t win next week but if we win next it’s (the title) up for grabs. But we’re only worried about next week, we’re not thinking too far ahead.”
Yet Spirit made a promising start and they looked dangerous with balls over the top to striker Jacob Ledo, although it was Jacob Deabreu who had the best chance of the opening stages. Deabreu found space inside the box but opted to try and chip keeper Jamie Serra and hit it straight to him.
North Perth soon found their stride and Gabel drove a shot from the edge of the box but Spirit keeper Simon Madaschi got down well to keep it out.
Lahert could then have made it 1-0 when he had a free header at the back post but he couldn’t find the target.
It didn’t take long after the restart for the first goal to come when in the 50th minute William Pender squared the ball to Kelly who tapped home.
Lahert made it two in the 56th minute when he created space for himself and stabbed the ball into the back of the net.
North Perth were controlling the game and eradicated their errors from the first half as Gabel unleashed a strike from distance that beat Madaschi.
Three quickly became four when Kelly squared the ball to Conway who adjusted well to finish with a stooping header.
And Kelly went from provider to scorer as he was found at the back post by Gabel and blasted the ball past Madaschi.
Nalic rounded out the scoring in the 83rd minute when he was sent through on goal with a long ball over the top and lobbed Madaschi.
“North Perth at home, whether they’re having a good season or a bad season is always going to be hard,” Southern Spirit coach Rob Pagnoni said.
“I thought we started off in the right way, we did everything right and played a fantastic 45 minutes. I knew that 45 minutes was never ever going to be enough against a top side and they came out and punished us and we just didn’t have any answers.
“But I was proud of the boys, what they did in the first-half, and hopefully we can learn from that.
“It’s hard work. We’ve got a few young boys and it’s taken a little bit of time to get them used to the league. We haven’t had the best of seasons but we’ll just keep going and make sure that we work hard and get better.”
North Perth now have a tricky test away to Wembley Downs before all eyes turn to the title-deciding match against Kingsley, while Southern Spirit will look to finish their season with some positive results, starting with Belmont Villa at home.
North Perth United 6 (Kelly 50min, 75, Lahert 56, Gabel 64, Conway 71, Nalic 83)
Southern Spirit 0
Sunday, August 19
Referee: Walter Ciotti
Assistant referee: R Newbury
North Perth: 26. Jamie Serra, 21. Chris Wylie (13. Raido Rensalu 72), 6. Keith Mullins, 14. Niall Murray, 3. Richard Dendle, 8. Ago Mujic, 16. Paul Gabel (2. Mickey Doherty 78), 17. Sean Lahert, 20. William Pender (7. Dan Conway 68), 10. Oscar Kelly, 18. Edin Nalic
Substitutes not used: 5. Sam Nicol, 1. Liam Reid
Yellow cards: Gabel 72
Red cards: Nil
Southern Spirit: 1. Simon Madaschi, 12. Savo Banjac (7. Anthony Gouveia 76), 14. Haris Kolenovic, 16. Alen Galic, 8. Sam Organ, 2. Noah Gregory, 11. Jordan Andrews, 6. Ed Monaco (9. Felim Rugel 60), 4. Jacob Deabreu, 13. Jacob Ledo, 10. Brandon Deabreu
Substitutes not used: 40. Joe Oljell, 5. Daniel Aries
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil