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Gwelup return to top of Division One

Football West News

Gwelup Croatia moved two points clear at the top of the State League Division One table after a 2-0 win in Tuesday evening’s rescheduled Round Six game away to Mandurah City.

Two early goals from David Heagney were enough for Taki Nicolaidis’ side at Securitas Protect Stadium. Gwelup now need to refresh and prepare for a clash with third-place Fremantle City on Saturday.

Just three points separate Gwelup and Fremantle, with Western Knights sandwiched between the pair in second. All three clubs have been confirmed as National Premier Leagues WA-compliant should they win the title and claim the one promotion spot.

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“The boys really dug deep tonight under tough conditions,” Nicolaidis said. “It was an important three points against a Mandurah side that always hard to beat, especially at home.”

Mandurah suffered a big blow before the game with experienced defender Andy Brown ruled out through injury and the visitors capitalised with a goal on two minutes

Some neat lead-up play saw the ball end up with Sam Wynne on the right, his cross picked out the unmarked Heagney in the penalty area and he tapped home.

Heagney went close to a second three minutes later. The former St Johnstone striker’s stunning half volley stung the fingertips of Mandurah keeper Phil Herschell, who acrobatically denied him.

On 16 minutes Gwelup did double their advantage. A misplaced header from Mandurah defender Oscar Thompson allowed Heagney to nip in, Herschell slipped at the wrong time and the striker walked the ball into the empty net.

Mandurah went close to reducing the margin on 35 minutes when a ball into the area picked out Jeff Bright, who beat Gwelup keeper Riley Stephenson to the ball and headed goalwards, but Andrew Scaldaferro got back to clear the ball off the line.

That was an isolated chance for Mandurah and Herschell was keeping his side in the game. He produced another smart save to keep out Ellis Healing’s powerful shot after the midfielder had been found by Sam Wynne.

Mandurah opened the brighter after the break and player-coach Alex Grayson went close, while the lively Joe O’Brien fired wide.

It was a tight game as both sides pressed, with Heagney almost adding a third on the hour. Great work by Wynne out wide, saw his deep cross pick out Heagney in the penalty area, but his volley from close range failed to find the target and his hat-trick chance was gone.

Mandurah continued to push forward looking for the goal to get them back in to the game but they couldn’t break down a tight Gwelup defence, and at the final whistle it was the visitors celebrating the victory.

Defeat ended Mandurah’s recent good form and defender Jeff Bright said the quick start from Gwelup had ultimately proved too much.

“I thought Gwelup started really well and scored a couple of goals early, which was always going to be hard to come back from,” he said.

“Lucky it’s a quick turnaround and we can go out and make amends on Saturday at home again against Morley.”

Star player: David Heagney (Gwelup Croatia)

Mandurah City 0
Gwelup Croatia 2 (Heagney 2min, 16)

Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Securitas Protect Stadium, Mandurah
Referee: Walter Ciotti
Assistant referees: Harry Bolan, Tom Ashton

Mandurah City: GK Phil HERSCHELL, 2 Max SNELSON, 3 Jeff BRIGHT, 4 Matt STARES, 5 Silas BECSI, 6 Oscar THOMPSON, 7 Regan DAVIDSON, 9 Joe O’BRIEN, 10 Lee STEWART, 11 Alex GRAYSON, 13 Harry GEEVES
Substitutes: RGK Dan GRIFFIN, 12 Reece ALLAN, 14 Jack TERRELL, 15 Josh WARREN, 16 Jackson ELDRIDGE

Gwelup Croatia: GK Riley STEPHENSON, 2 Ciaran SALINGER, 4 Sam WYNNE, 5 Clark KELTIE, 8 Matthew SPARROW, 9 David HEAGNEY, 12 Isaac KOOMSON, 15 Andrew SCALADFERRO, 30 Graham TOUGH, 77 Ellis HEALING, 88 Bobby WILSON
Substitutes: RGK Mitchell PAPAS, 17 Sean CANHAM, 25 Ali GHOLAMI, 33 Nasser BELLO, 35 Afian GIYANTO