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Zuvela praise for Knights despite disappointment
Report by Coen Vass
Western Knights missed out on promotion to the National Premier Leagues WA after playing out an entertaining 1-1 draw with UWA Nedlands at UWA Sports Park.
Going onto Saturday’s final round, Knights needed to win, Gwelup Croatia had to lose at home to Subiaco and there needed to be a six-goal swing on the league leaders in Knights’ favour. None of the three transpired and it will be Gwelup who replace relegated Stirling Lions in the NPL.
Both sides raced out of blocks early but it was the Knights who asserted their authority by forcing five corners inside the first 10 minutes.
The away side continued to push and almost got the break when Joshua Kamasz found some space before chipping it over Luke Stonebridge, but his effort went just wide of the bar.
UWA started to work their way into the match and looked likely to score when Riaz Kelly pounced on a poor pass before attempting to round Sam Stone, but the Knights keeper used his body well to deny him.
The biggest chance came in the 42 second minute when Tim Robertson drove into the area before crossing well, only for Knights’ Cam York to get a hand to the ball. The official pointed to spot and Kelly stepped up, but Stone pulled of an exceptional save to ensure a goalless half.
After the break, the home side came out strongly and controlled the midfield well and theywere rewarded in the 67th minute when Bryce Conway fired off a spectacular shot from outside the area which flew past Stone and into the top right corner as his side took the lead.
Knights needed a lifeline and that came in the 85th minute as they equalised through Dean Hurley.
UWA’s back three switched off as Andy Cartwright was allowed to stroll up the right wing before letting off a soft shot that deceived Stonebridge and Hurley tapped it in on the line to claim his 17th goal of the year.
Moments later, Knights almost stole the three points in similar fashion. Cartwright curled a ball in from a set piece and Hurley finished, but this time the referee’s assistant had his flag up.
Despite the result and missing out on promotion, Western Knights manager Ivan Zuvela was proud of what his side had achieved. “We came second this year and lost out to a very good side in Gwelup,” he said.
“We are a very proud club, on field and off field, and we look forward to coming back in 2020.”
As for UWA, they finish their 2019 campaign in eighth position.
Star player: Sam Stone (Western Knights)
UWA Nedkands 1 (Bryce Conway 67min)
Western Knights 1 (Dean Hurley 85)
UWA Nedlands: (GK) 1. Luke STONEBRIDGE, 2. Samuel GUTHRIDGE, (3. Sam CARRELLO 77), 4. Lloyd PROUT 7, 8. Andrew XYDAS, 9. Tim ROBERTSON, 10. Riaz KELLY, 11. Bryce Conway, 15. Tomas MORONEY, (16. Thomas WHITE 83), 18. Mark TREVISIOL, (22. Ivwananji SIMBILE 89), 30. Max WELTON
Unused substitutes: 5. Karl MALUGA, 6. Samuel KENT
Western Knights: (GK) 1. Sam Stone, 2. Andy CARTWRIGHT, 3. Ryan COX, 4. Cam YORK, 6. John CHALMERS, 9. Dean HURLEY, 10. Paul Lloyd, 11. Jack RYCROFT, 15. Joshua KAMASZ, 17. Callum ROBERTS, (18. Andrija JUKIC 59), 19. David MURPHY, (20. Scott JOHNSTON 77), (21. Noah SHAMAKI 50)
Unused substitutes: 12. Tom KENNEDY, 22. Jordan HOWELL