The defensive foundation on which Perth SC have built their National Premier Leagues WA campaign will pay dividends this weekend should Ramon Falzon’s side defeat Armadale.
The Azzurri will wrap up the title if they take maximum points at Alfred Skeet Reserve, or if second-place Floreat Athena lose at home to ECU Joondalup.
Even if the coronation is delayed to the final two weeks of the season, Perth will almost certainly be celebrating a third championship in four years. They hold a seven-point lead with three games to go, having conceded just 15 goals in 19 matches.
“Defensively we managed to improve our record last year where we let in, on average, exactly one goal per game. That is even lower this year and we have had eight clean sheets,” Falzon said.
“The less goals you concede, the less games you lose. It also alleviates the pressure on us at the other end.”
Indeed while Perth are accomplished at keeping out the opposition, they are also the league’s top scorers.
“Michael (Domfeh) and Gus (Gustavo Catarcione) – all of the offensive players – have been great for us,” Falzon said.
It has been a dominant display across the board from Perth and the 2-1 defeat to Floreat earlier this month was only their second of the season.
Falzon said: “In the league we are going to have a hiccup now and again. We played quite well didn’t capitalise on our chances and they did on the few that hey had. I just made sure we stayed focused last week when we beat Balcatta.
“Our objective this year has been to build up a lead (over the early part of the season).
“In the last three years, including the two occasions we won the league, it has been decided in the last 15 minutes of the season and that has been very nerve wracking.
“This year we have a few points up our sleeve and that’s a lot easier to manage. That’s credit to the boys.”
On paper second-bottom Armadale will be hard pushed to deny Perth the title on Saturday. But last week’s thumping win at Cockburn City will have given them impetus as they strive to beat the drop.
Falzon said: “They are definitely in a good place. They have put in a couple of good performances. They won 5-1 at Cockburn and before that drew 3-3 with Balcatta. But we will just focus on us.”
The one disappointment for Perth this season was their home defeat to Bayswater City in the FFA Cup. “Especially not getting to play on the national stage,” Falzon said.
“But after last season’s experience when, playing wise, we matched it with the champions of New South Wales, our main objective was to get back in the National NPL Finals Series.”
– The draw for the 2019 National NPL Final Series first round was made on Friday and the NPL WA champions – Perth or Floreat – will be away at winners of the NPL Victoria on September 21 or 22.
NPL WA fixtures
Saturday, August 17 (all 3pm)
Armadale v Perth SC (Alfred Skeet Reserve)
Balcatta v Sorrento (Grindleford Reserve)
Bayswater City v Rockingham City (Frank Drago Reserve)
Floreat Athena v ECU Joondalup (E&D Litis Stadium)
Inglewood United v Stirling Lions (Perth Plasterboard Centre Stadium)
Sunday, August 18 (3pm)
Perth Glory v Cockburn City (E&D Litis Stadium)