Four clubs will be chasing a spot in the All Flags State League Division One this weekend, as play-offs take centre stage in WA football.
Kicking off the first leg of the play-off on Saturday will be Gosnells City and Swan United at Walter Padbury Reserve, while Morley Windmills host Wanneroo City at Wotton Reserve.
Roles will be reversed when the second leg is played on Tuesday, September 26, with Swan United hosting Gosnells City at Perth Plasterboard Centre Stadium, while Wanneroo City entertain Morley at Wanneroo Reserve.
Despite being a tough season for Gosnells, coach Alan Dunlop thinks having a young team will be a positive factor for his club in coming years.
“We’ve had a horror run with injuries (and to key players too), but on a positive we have brought through some great young players and we are starting to build a good squad,” he said.
“We have shown that we can compete with the top teams on our day, so whatever happens in the playoffs we are confident we can develop this group into a good team.
“We have a great club with ambition and we are determined to be successful.”
Gosnells were beaten in the final league game at South West Phoenix last week but despite the result, Dunlop said it was good preparation for the play-off.
“Last week was the story of our season,” he said.
“We played very well again but never got anything from the game, but it was certainly a good work out for the lads.
“We are really looking forward to the game, but we are aware these type of play offs are always tricky.
“They (Swan) have had a great season and will be right up for the game, especially with momentum on their side.
“But the lads see this as a winnable game and we will be doing everything to get something from it on Saturday, especially in front of a big crowd which is expected at Walter Padbury this weekend.”
Swan United finished fourth on the Division Two table, with a late surge that saw them beat Champions Gwelup Croatia and Kingsway Olympic in the final two games to seal a spot.
Coach Matt Debarro said his side’s victories over the last two weeks are proof that his side can beat any other team.
“We beat Sorrento and Ashfield pre-season and went the distance with Perth as well in a narrow 3-2 loss,” he said.
“Those sorts of games definitely prepared us for what we faced the last few weeks and for what we now need to overcome.”
Debarro, whose Swan Valley club was part of the Premier League in 2010 and won the State League Cup in 2003, will ensure his club can do all they can to bring success back.
“It has been a very tough season where we have been up and down with form, but thankfully we have come good at the right time,” he said.
“The players and I know we have the opportunity to go one step closer and to get the club back to where it once was.”
Debarro is hoping to spring a surprise on Gosnells, who will be fighting to stay in Division One.
“We know Saturday will be tough, as they will not want to be relegated, so thankfully the pressure is all on them, as we have everything to gain whilst they have everything to lose,” he said.
“We look forward to the challenge and will enjoy participating in a playoff series. Whatever happens, I am extremely proud of the boys for their efforts.”
Morley Windmills were in the title race for most of the season, but didn’t win in their last three games.
Coach John Castrilli said his side has performed better than expected.
“It has been a great season for the club and the players have exceeded all expectations,” he said.
“There is no concern on our behalf about our results in the last few weeks, as we have been rotating players as soon as we knew we were in the play-offs.
“Last week against Kelmscott we played three players that were 18 years old or younger, and I thought they did a great job against a side that was battling to stay in contention.”
Castrilli is preparing his side for a tough competition against Wanneroo.
“Obviously this week’s game is as important as it gets,” he said.
“We are all focused on the task at hand and will be working hard to try to get the needed result.”
Wanneroo coach Tim Kantor has brought his side to third place on the ladder, despite sitting in second-last place in 2016.
Kantor said he has given players the opportunity and they haven’t let him down.
“It’s been a very rewarding season so far, and since taking over the head coach role we have assembled an entirely new squad with only one or two lads from last season remaining,” he said.
“We set about building a young squad with a sprinkling of experience. So far it’s worked well and the boys have really adopted and embraced our style and formation well.
“The average age of our squad is 22 with our youngest being just 16, and I have put my faith in these youngsters and they have really taken the bull by the horns and delivered.”
Kantor, whose side have performed well against Morley during the season, will be looking for a repeat in the play-offs.
“We have played Morley twice in the league and have taken four out of six points, but this is high pressure finals football and it will be interesting to see how our young squad handle the occasion,” he said.
“Morley have been in the top two all season, they have an extremely experienced squad and Saturday is going to be a huge challenge for our young squad.
“But there is one thing that I’ve learned this year. With youth comes no fear and our boys are ready for the challenge.
“They will hopefully make a good account of themselves, and I’m sure they won’t leave anything in the tank come Saturday.”
State League Division One Playoff details:
First Leg – Saturday, September 23 (3.00pm)
Gosnells City v Swan United – Walter Padbury Reserve
Morley Windmills v Wanneroo City – Wotton Reserve
Second Leg – Tuesday, September 26 (7.00pm)
Swan United v Gosnells City – Perth Plasterboard Centre Stadium
Wanneroo City v Morley Windmills – Wanneroo Reserve