Sorrento coach Jamie Harnwell accepts Saturday’s bottom-three clash against Floreat Athena is must-win – but not for the reason most fans might think.
The Gulls have been on a horror run, losing six of their last seven games and slipping from fourth after Round Five to the relegation zone as the National Premier Leagues WA season hits the halfway mark.
Floreat are in an even worse position. Howard Tweats’ side are second bottom, struggling with injuries and have two players suspended after skipper Dean Evans and midfielder Calvin Whitney were sent off in last week’s loss to Subiaco.
With three sides scheduled to go down at the end of the season, even this early on it could be a tense afternoon at Percy Doyle Reserve. But Harnwell is taking a “glass half full” approach to proceedings.
“We are not thinking of the bottom three, we are still trying to make the top four,” he said. “So it’s not a must-win in regards to relegation. But in terms of the top four it’s getting close.”
Harnwell’s optimism is what his side will want to hear but that doesn’t mean he’s blind to their position. The Gulls’ coaching staff and players sat down at training on Tuesday to look over their most recent defeat and Harnwell hopes the debrief will deliver results.
“There’s no magic formula, just hard work,” he added.
“We are not keeping the ball well enough and players are switching off – the players looked again at the goals from the weekend and they scratched their heads wondering how we conceded.
“Our focus is on possession and keeping the ball better. It is good that we are all on the same page.”
Turning to this weekend’s match, Harnwell said both sides find themselves in unfamiliar territory.
“I don’t think either team has been in this position for some time,” he said.
“Like all teams they’ve been feeling the busy schedule and now they have two players suspended. Evans has been one of the best players in the league.”
The only side below Sorrento and Floreat are Joondalup United and Harnwell agreed Nick Jennings’ team threw the cat among the pigeons with their first win of the season last Saturday.
Joondalup can move to within six points of safety if they follow up their victory over Inglewood with three points at Perth SC on Saturday.
Inglewood, who earned a blast from coach Andy Keogh for that 3-1 loss, host Balcatta, while Subiaco will do themselves a big favour with victory at Perth Glory.
Leaders Bayswater City can extend their advantage at the top to six points if they defeat ECU Joondalup and other results go their way. Out to prevent that will be second-placed Cockburn City, who travel to Armadale.
Stirling Lions, who have found a bit of form, are at home to Forrestfield United.
FIXTURES Saturday, May 12
Perth Glory v Subiaco (Ashfield Arena, 3pm)
Perth SC v Joondalup United (Dorrien Gardens, 3pm)
Bayswater City v ECU Joondalup (Frank Drago Reserve, 3pm)
Stirling Lions v Forrestfield United (Macedonia Park, 3pm)
Sorrento v Floreat Athena (Percy Doyle Reserve, 3pm)
Inglewood United v Balcatta (Perth Plasterboard Centre Stadium, 3pm)
Armadale v Cockburn City (Alfred Skeet Reserve, 6pm)