ECU Joondalup Jacks and the Sorrento Gulls played out an entertaining 1-1 draw in the northern derby on Saturday in the Football West National Premier League. This opening round of the league season attracted a large crowd at the at the University ground for the 3pm kick off.
Sunny with very scatted clouds at 33 degrees with a very slight breeze from the west on a good surface at the Campus. Warm for supporters, but hot for the footballers. Gulls Captain Daryl Platten called correctly the toss of the coin by referee, Michal Janaski and asked ECU Joondalup captain, Daryl Nicol to attack the City (northern) end goal.
It was a typical derby game with both sides looking for bragging rights in their first meeting of the season. ECU were the better side in the initial exchanges with captain Daryl Nicol having the first chance of the game after only four minutes, but his shot flew past the post.
Sorrento had one chance early on through Jack Salter, but ECU’s Steve McGarry and Lukas Da Lima were soon controlling the midfield.
Sorrento’s Alex Morgan made room and had a shot tipped over the bar by the ECU keeper while Gordon Smith shot straight at the keeper, James Morgan as the half wore on.
Then on 23 minutes ECU hit the lead after a monumental mistake by Sorrento at the back. A back pass by Brad McDonald at the edge of his own area was well underhit and Josh Whitmore pounced, taking the ball and slotting it between the legs of advancing Sorrento keeper, James Morgan and into the back of the net.
From a well-worked free kick, Scott Witschge hit the post for Sorrento and Nicol hit the sidenetting as the first half closed with ECU in the lead.
In the dying moments Sorrento veteran Steven McDonald almost put the ball in to the back of his own net trying to clear a dangerous cross.
In the second half Sorrento looked better with more sustained pressure. Witschge was a changed man on the right and was finding plenty of space creating work for the ECU defenders. On 61 minutes Sorrento had their equaliser when Witschge controlled the ball on the edge of the area on the right before he switched inside and drove home a powerful shot.
From here ECU huffed and puffed trying to retain possession and get a foothold in the game but even after using all three of their substitues they looked exhausted.
The teams wilted in the later moments of the game and there was controversy when Nicol went down after a challenge from fellow captain Daryl Platten. It was deemed Nicol had dived and was given a yellow card, much to the bewilderment of the home support.
A draw was on the cards, but ECU almost snuck in a winner as Smith set up Nicol, who had his powerful shot at the edge of the area saved by the keeper in some late drama.
Witschge was wrapped with the second half performance and the fitness shown by his teammates despite a slow first half. “Considering our changerooms are being restored at the moment, our pre-season has been interrupted so this was a good sign we’re doing okay,” he said.
Next week ECU Joondalup are away to Floreat Athena while Sorrento travel to Dorrien Gardens to take on Perth.
20s: ECU JOONDALUP 4 (Paddy Doyle 2, 30, 57, Liam Murray 8) v SORRENTO 0
18s: ECU JOONDALUP 4 (Fraser Horne 19, Jacob Turner 28, Daniel McKenzie 35, Dylan Leonard 57) v SORRENTO 1 (Shayan Balmani 89)
Sorrento’s next Football West match is away to Perth on Saturday, 31 March at Dorrien Gardens, Lawley Street, North Perth. Kick off times are 18s at 3pm, 20s at 5pm and First Team at 7pm.