North Beach is off to a winning start, beating South Perth United 1-0 in round one of the Amateur Division One.
A single goal from Luke Aitken sealed all three points for Beach in what was a very tough battle at Charles Riley.
South Perth dominated most of the attacking play in the first half, forcing many saves from keeper Jackson Hughes who was looking very sharp between the sticks.
The game was very physical, with Luke Wearing and Ross Westwood taking heavy hits needing attention from the physio in the first 45-minutes.
Beach needed a strong team talk at the break, with Hughes’ heroics keeping the game goalless by the half-time whistle.
Alec Etheridge started the second half, replacing Michael Rea and pushing Jake Dean from Right Back into the midfield.
The first good chance of the second half came from a Dean free-kick, which hit the crossbar, then the keeper sending it back into the crowd where the follow-up was deflected wide for a corner.
The back-and-forth action continued until a clumsy tackle in the Beach box awarded United a penalty.
Fortunately for Beach, the spot-kick was taken poorly, as the United player launched it off the crossbar and then another player sending it far wide on the follow-up.
The deadlock was broken minutes later when Benny Reynolds put a ball into Aitken, who took a touch with his back to goal, turning and placing the ball through the United keeper’s legs to make it 1-0.
From this point, both sides’ discipline began to drop as the referee awarded quite a few yellow cards for some Sunday League Quality challenges.
With his first start of the season, Ali Westwood came off a few minutes later, being replaced by Kitson Catalfamo.
United had a clear opportunity to equalise ten minutes after Beach’s goal, but a lack of composure put the ball wide with a headed effort.
Ross Westwood had another excellent game, often leaving United players on the floor with his footwork, but he came off second-best when a United player went straight through his back for a header.
Unfortunately, he was forced off due to a head injury, being replaced by Jacob de Lima, who came on for his first-team debut.
The game continued its end-to-end theme, and United had another massive goal-scoring opportunity which they failed to convert, putting it over the crossbar.
The last 10 minutes felt like an eternity as Beach held onto the slim lead, with Hughes demonstrating his player of the match performance, making sure to hold onto every ball launched into his box.
Beach could hold on and picked up all three points to get the league campaign off to a good start.
It wasn’t the prettiest football game to watch, but it kept everyone on the edge of their seats. United pretty much had all the questions in the first half, and an on-form Jackson Hughes kept the game 0-0 going into the half-time break.
Luke Aitken’s moment of technical brilliance was the difference between the teams, but Beach’s defence had massively improved from Monday’s game. Corner situations were dealt with effectively, and the boys showed they had a plan in place to stop them from going in.
Coach Stephen Critchley says the game was a smash and grab.
“We didn’t play well first half and we thanked Jacko at half time for keeping it scoreless. Our defending from corners and free kicks was a big positive from the first half, though,” he says.
He says the second-half performance was much better.
“More fight, better passing and pressing and then we pinched the lead. Great finish from Luke Aitken,” he says.
“We defended like lions after that to hang on for the win; they must have had eight corners and second half, we were solid.
“Jacko and big Luke Wearing were particularly outstanding. Great start, 3 points and a clean sheet.”
He also congratulated Adam Ridgway and his reserves team for their 7-0 thumping of South Perth’s reserves.
Lineup: Hughes, Dean, Wearing, Roberts, Felstead, R. Westwood, Di Carlo, Rea, A. Westwood, Reynolds, Aitken
Subs: Etheridge, Catalfamo, de Lima, Persse, K. Parker
A few changes to last week’s 11. Aaron Roberts’ return allowed James Di Carlo to step up into midfield in place of the injured Chris Judge. Ali Westwood started the game in place of Kitson Catalfamo who started from the bench.
Seb Brekke was still unavailable for selection, and David Kelliher played in the reserves for match fitness after being unavailable for the past few weeks.
Jacob de Lima made his debut for the First Team, coming on for the injured Ross Westwood.
A clean sheet and very important saves earned keeper Hughes the Bar 1 Player of the Match award.
Around the grounds
NB Reserves 7-0 SPU Reserves
NB 3’s – BYE
Ellenbrook 2-4 NB 4’s (Metro Nth Div 5)
Noranda 5-2 NB Masters (Nth Div 2)
Mindarie 4-2 NB Masters O45’s (North A)
Noranda 1-7 NB 1’s (Metro Nth Div 1)
Subiaco 4-0 NB 2’s (Metro Nth Div 2)
The club’s media coverage is expanding, with volunteers from the women’s teams bringing updates and team news from our Women’s Firsts and Second teams.
This reinforces the clubs ambitions for the season, and it will be great to see all teams perform.