Round 18: NPL WA from around the Grounds
Do we finally have a title race on in the NPL WA?
Floreat Athena will think so after their 2-1 defeat of Perth SC on Saturday cut the Azzurri’s lead at the top to five points.
With only four matches left in the season, Ramon Falzon’s team are still firm favourites to retain their crown.
But Floreat are now an outside chance, as they showed at E&D Litis where they had to dig in for long periods to repel Perth.
Ludovic Boi opened the scoring for Floreat and although Tom Southgate levelled from the penalty spot, the home side went in at the break 2-1 ahead following Chris Saldaris’ close-range finish.
The inevitable Perth surge came in the second half but they could not find a way past Athena keeper Jason Saldaris, while a stoppage time melee resulted in Chris Saldaris and Perth’s Michael Domfeh being sent off.
Perth, who have been on top since Round Five, have another tough-looking match next Saturday, at home to third-place Balcatta.
As for Floreat, they probably will need to win all of their remaining fixtures to have a sniff of adding the league title to the Night Series and Belt Up Cup they have already won, starting at Sorrento on Saturday.
Elsewhere, Rockingham City did their hopes of survival a massive favour thanks to Michael Farmer’s stoppage-time header which brought a 1-0 win over Cockburn City.
Rockingham are now five points clear of bottom side Stirling Lions, who went down 1-0 to Perth Glory.
Armadale’s creditable 3-3 draw against Balcatta moved them a point ahead of Stirling, while third-bottom ECU are a further two points better off following their 1-1 draw at Bayswater City, whose head coach Chris Coyne urged his players to start enjoying their football.
The battle for the top four remains as tight as ever. Sorrento, in seventh are only two points off third place after their 2-2 draw at Inglewood, who stay fourth.