North Beach has pulled off a staggering second-half comeback after being 3-0 down at the break to beat East Perth 6-4 at Inglewood Stadium.
If you were not there, then you missed the most exciting game so far this season that saw an emotional finale full of fist pumps and pile-on celebrations.
The game played at the home ground of the NPL’s Inglewood United was what Beach needed to get the season back on track after two hard defeats in a row.
However, it didn’t come easy as East Perth found themselves 1-0 up within five minutes of the first whistle.
A ball from the right-wing wasn’t dealt with, and the East Perth player took a brilliant touch taking it away from Alec Etheridge, who tried his best to recover.
An on-rushing Jackson Hughes wasn’t able to stop the shot driven into the bottom-left corner.
For the next 25-minutes, the game was back-and-forth for the most part, with East Perth having the superior number of chances.
Half-an-hour in East Perth struck again, a powerful strike from just inside the box was parried by Hughes, who had inadvertently taken the pace off the ball, and it dropped into the goal to his dismay. 2-0 to East Perth.
Just minutes before the end of the first half, East Perth found the net again, which was quite spectacular.
Down 3-0 at the break, coach Stephen Critchley needed to change things up and deliver an inspiring team talk if Beach were going to get anything from the game.
Changes were made, with Aaron Roberts coming on for Alec Etheridge which also saw a change in formation to a 3-5-2, with captain James Di Carlo moving into the midfield.
Whatever Critchley said at the break woke Beach up as the intensity of play had drastically improved.
Within the first minute of the half, Beach scored after a deflected ball was pounced on by Kaimon Parker who hit a low outside of the foot shot to the keepers right.
Four minutes later, Kitson Catalfamo put a low cross into the box which was toed in by Benny Reynolds to make it 3-2. The comeback was on.
Ten minutes pass and then Reynolds receives the ball outside the box and delivered a pin-point pass towards the back post met by Ross Westwood who completed the comeback.
Beach was not over yet, as four minutes later a ball was deflected onto the crossbar by an East Perth defender which fell towards Reynolds who put away his second with a half-volley from the penalty spot.
Another ten minutes passed, and Beach started to ease off on the hard pressing which saw East Perth eventually play through the midfield and defence to make it 4-4.
It was nervy for the next 20 minutes until Beach won a corner and the returning Seb Brekke connected with the ball and scored what everyone thought was the winner with three minutes to go.
Step up Ross Westwood who picked up the ball near the middle of the pitch and went on a solo run until he was stopped inside the box.
The ball was played back to the last man, but before he could clear it long, Westwood had got up and scored the easiest goal he could have asked for after it was launched right into him.
The ball bounced off him and rolled into the back of the net. Then came the celebration.
Truly a game of two-halves, Beach completed a spectacular comeback in style and should take the 6-1 second-half performance into every game for the rest of the season.
It’s fair to say all the goals Beach conceded today were when they sat back and let East Perth put balls into dangerous areas. The long balls weren’t stopped in the first half and it put a lot of pressure on the Beach defence.
The second half was a massive improvement. The quick comeback set the mood for the second half, and the entire game turned around. The press from Beach stifled any of East Perth’s forward play and everyone on the pitch put in 100%.
One of those players was Ross Westwood who was named Player of the Match.
“Great win from the Beach. 3-0 down at half time to come back to win 6-4 against East Perth, great effort from boys in the second half to believe that we can still win from there,” he says.
Coach Stephen Critchley says he told the boys at half time that there were some working harder than others.
“All 11 had to work at the same level and that’s why we got the two quick goals because we worked as a team and forced them back creating chances,” he says.
He says improvement needs to be made on playing the full 90 minutes at the same level, and not giving teams a chance to win a half.
He says the result was amazing.
“Lost the first half 3-0 and won the second half 6-1,” he says.
“Lads were brilliant second half, we need 90 minutes of that next week.”
Starting XI: Hughes, Dean, Etheridge, Di Carlo, Felstead, Westwood, Kelliher, K. Parker, Catalfamo, Reynolds, Brekke
Subs: Roberts, Cross, Cross, Aitken, A. Westwood, Richings
A few changes were made from the team that lost to Stirling the week before. Alec Etheridge started with Luke Wearing serving his one-game suspension. Seb Brekke returned to the team after being away for a few weeks, replacing Luke Aitken who wasn’t available for kick-off. Kitson Catalfamo made the starting IX, in place of Harry Richings.
Aaron Roberts returned to the team after missing last weeks game, starting from the bench. Logan Cross was named and came on in the second half for his first-team debut.
Around the grounds
East Perth 1-1 NB Reserves
Curtin University 1-3 NB 3’s (Metro Nth Div 3)
NB Masters – Quinns (Nth Div 2)
NB O45’S – Joondalup United (North A)
NB 1’s – Bassendean Caledonians (Metro Nth Div 1)
NB 2’s 10-1 Alexander Florina (Metro Nth Div 3)