ECU Joondalup moved into fifth position on the NPL WA table after a hard-fought 2-1 win against Sorrento in the northern derby at Percy Doyle Reserve.
Sam Pollard put the visitors in front early, before Andy Higgins doubled their advantage shortly after the restart.
Reece Vittiglia pulled one back for the Gulls, but they then had striker Cameron Teece sent off after he received a second yellow card. And despite pressing late they couldn’t find the equaliser.
ECU coach Dale McCulloch said they had to work for the points but he thought they deserved them.
“It was a tight game but I thought we were the better team in the first half, and when we scored the second I thought we would take the game away from them,” he said.
“But credit to them, they came back in the second half. But we managed to hold on and could have added a couple more too, so it is a good result for us.
“I think all the players but in a good shift tonight, but at 2-0 we need to finish games off. We work hard on scenarios at training, but we need to fine tune it.”
Sorrento coach Jamie Harnwell thought his side deserved something from the game.
“We started well and created chances but didn’t take them and they then score with their first real shot,” he said.
“We scored a great goal to get back in the game but then Cameron is sent off. But we still created some good chances late but couldn’t find the equaliser.”
It was the home side who opened the brighter and Teece’s effort flashed over the top early after good work by Jordan Brown, before new ECU defender Kieron Stallard almost scored the own goal of the season. His back-pass flew over the head of keeper Johnny Perkins but the post came to the rescue of the Jacks, and the relief of the Scottish defender.
ECU, who had former Gull Brad McDonald making his debut, started to get a foothold in the game and Daryl Nicol’s shot drifted wide of the post, before Gordon Smith was sent clear but his shot was well saved by the alert James Morgan.
But on 17 minutes the visitors hit the front. A quick break down the left found Pollard and the youngster cut inside his marker and finished low past the keeper via the post.
The home side looked for a quick response and Perkins saved low to deny Scott Witschge, before Vittiglia’s shot from the edge of the penalty area flashed wide. Sorrento finished the half well and went close to levelling in stoppage time, Perkins standing tall to save from Teece.
Sorrento keeper James Morgan had to be alert in the second minute of the second half to save Nicol’s shot on the run, but three minutes later the visitors doubled their lead. Higgins’ corner was played back to him, and the defender whipped in a deep cross to the back post and it went straight in.
But the home hit back and reduced the margin five minutes later. A sweeping move from the back ended with Witschge on the right and he pulled the ball back to Vittiglia, who made no mistake from the edge of the box.
Both sides went close as the game opened up. ECU striker Smith’s snapshot crashed off the base of the upright, before Sorrento substitute Alex Morgan shot whistled just past the post.
The game took another twist on 75 minutes when Teece was shown a second yellow card by referee David Bruce and was sent off.
The 10 men took the game to ECU and Stallard produced a superb last-ditch tackle to deny Vittiglia late, and they went close to an equaliser in stoppage time. Godwin Darkwa eased past his marker on the left, but his shot from the angle was saved low by Perkins.
Sorrento 1 (Vittiglia 54min)
ECU Joondalup 2 (Pollard 17, Higgins 49)
Saturday, May 26
Percy Doyle Reserve
Referee: David Bruce
Assistant referees: Joshua Nixon, Amit Hosany
Sorrento: GK James MORGAN, 6 Daryl PLATTEN (C), 8 Scott WITSCHGE, 10 Jordan ROBERTS (7 Alex MORGAN 66), 11 Timothy HILL, 13 Steve MCDONALD, 17 Reece VITTIGLIA, 18 Jordan BROWN (22 Danny JONES 85), 19 Jack SALTER, 21 Godwin DARKWA, 23 Cameron TEECE
Substitutes not used: RGK Anastasis FARSALEAS, 3 Jaxon TEMATA, 16 Chris BALAZS
Yellow cards: Teece 35, 75, Darkwa 47, McDonald 81, Platten 86
Red cards: Teece 75
ECU Joondalup: GK Johnny PERKINS, 2 Cian HIRRELL, 3 Ross MILLARD (7 Cameron MURRAY 92), 4 Kieron STALLARD, 5 Shane CASSIDY, 8 Josh WHITMORE (18 Declan HUGHES 57), 9 Daryl NICOL (C), 10 Gordon SMITH, 11 Andy HIGGINS, 12 Brad McDONALD, 13 Sam POLLARD (16 Lukas DE LIMA 70’)
Substitutes not used: RGK Jack NUNN, 6 Tom HOUGH
Yellow cards: Stallard 43’, Murray 93’
Red cards: Nil