Report by Peter Simcox
The first silverware of the State League season is up for grabs on Sunday evening when Forrestfield United meets South West Phoenix in the Night Series Final at Perth Plasterboard Centre Stadium in Inglewood.
Both sides went through the group stage undefeated, with South West Phoenix winning all five games to top group D, while Forrestfield secured a draw in the final Group C game against Gwelup Croatia to progress.
In last weekend’s semi-finals South West Phoenix needed a stoppage time penalty from Nicola Gazzola to beat Ashfield 4-3 at Wanneroo Reserve, while Forrestfield’s Rhys Loxley converted a last minute spot kick to beat Dianella White Eagles 3-2.
Phoenix skipper Adam Guthridge expects Sunday’s clash will be a tight affair.
“Being a final you’d expect a close game and it’s clear both clubs are doing great things both on and off the pitch this year to find themselves in this position.
“(Phoenix coach) Mauro (Marchione) brings a huge amount of experience, knowledge and professionalism to a club that has been seeking a coach of this calibre for years. The playing group has responded well to Mauro in the last four months and the results of our hard work in training over this period have started to show on the pitch.”
Guthridge felt his side would also benefit from the semi-final win.
“They definitely made us earn our spot in the final,” he said. “But credit to our boys for getting the result to put us into the final. Although it wasn’t our best performance we showed character to grind out the win which will hold us in good stead for the final.”
Forrestfield skipper Liam Merigan also felt his side’s tough semi-final win would hold them in good stead.
“We were pleased with our performance as a whole and will have the opportunity to analyse areas for improvements looking towards the final this week and the upcoming season,” he said
Merigan, who joined the Hartfield Park club from Ashfield, said the Phoenix has been the form team of the tournament. “The entire squad is excited moving forward to the final, and as always the Phoenix will provide another huge test,” he said.
“They have been playing very well; another team that looks to keep control of the ball. It will be a tough night keeping them from scoring as they have been in great scoring form over the course of the competition.
“We will be looking at our own game plan this week and areas for improvement and also look to areas where we can potentially expose the opposition.”
State League Night Series Final
South West Phoenix v Forrestfield United
Sunday March 26, 2017 – 7:15pm
Venue: Perth Plasterboard Centre Stadium, Inglewood