Western Suburbs 1 – Miramar 0
Owen Parker-Price 68
Wests Formation (4-3-3) Miramar Formation (4-1-4-1)
Alex Clayton, Blake Jones, Nando Pijnaker, Danny Hartford-Silas
Dalton Wilkins, Harry Edge, Owen Parker-Price
Callum McCowatt, Marko Stamenic, Xavier Green
Matt Garbett for Marko Stamenic (69 mins) – Straight swap
Ollie Van Rissel for Daniel Harford-Silas (89 mins) – Straight swap
Marcus Simmons-Godinet for Alex Clayton (90 mins) – Straight swap
A useful Miramar team was hoping to take advantage of the fact that Wests had already sewn up the League, and had been forced into multiple changes after the departures of several of this season’s big guns.
However, Wests demonstrated the depth of their squad and the adaptability of several of their players to gain a narrow, but deserved victory in an extremely entertaining game, played in wildly changing weather conditions.
Fine weather prevailed for most of the first half, prompting swift passing movements by both sides. Even with so many changes, Wests were very much business as usual, relying on a solid defensive formation of Blake Jones and Nando Pijnaker, with Harry Edge in commanding form as usual in the shielding number 6 position.
There was plenty of intelligent movement in midfield and attack, where players frequently created space with cross-over interchanges. Marko Stamenic was particularly prominent in the early stages, linking well with Dalton Wilkins, Owen Parker-Price and Callum McCowatt.
While Wests were good on the ball, they also experienced a few scares in defence, as Miramar, particularly through Joel Stevens, created a few decent chances. Fortunately for Wests, Isaac Tetteh was in exemplary form, pulling off two or three outstanding saves, in addition to being very accomplished with the ball at his feet.
A frequent occurrence at Wests’ games this season has been the ability of opponents to match Wests through the first 30 minutes, but for Wests to then gradually assert their dominance thereafter. This game followed a similar trend, as Wests started to up the pace as half time approached, with half-chances falling to Xavier Green, Owen Parker-Price and Callum McCowatt. The closest attempt came after Xavier Green was fouled 30 yards out, and Callum McCowatt’s free-kick was acrobatically tipped onto the bar by the impressive Phil Imray in the Miramar goal. Another clear symbol of Wests’ increasing dominance was the desperation in Miramar’s tackling, which ultimately resulted in them tallying up four yellow cards.
Declan Edge was satisfied with the first half performance, and pleased to see a cloud-burst during half-time, as this would make the surface slicker, and suit Wests’ passing game. Unfortunately, the torrential rain lasted for another hour, and from early in the second half, the players had the added issue of significant surface water.
Wests adapted best to the conditions as their high press caused several defensive mistakes from Miramar, with Xavier Green creating half-chances for Callum McCowatt and Marko Stamenic after robbing defenders who were dallying on the ball.
Owen Parker-Price also started to run the show in midfield, spraying excellent passes to the marauding full-backs, Daniel Harford-Silas and Alex Clayton, followed by an even better ball to Callum McCowatt. Callum unselfishly squared the ball to the onrushing Xavier Green, but he was denied by another great save from Phil Imray.
Finally, at the three-quarter mark, Wests took the lead. A neat move involving Dalton Wilkins and Xavier Green resulted in a free-kick on the edge of the box after Owen Parker-Price was clipped from behind. Owen Parker-Price took the kick himself, scoring directly, although Phil Imray was unlucky with the shot deflecting in off Finn Moore.
Miramar tried to hit back immediately, and Wests were again indebted to Isaac Tetteh who produced two more classy saves as the surface water threatened to turn the last 10-15 minutes into somewhat of a farce.
Despite a couple of nervy moments, it was Wests who came closest to scoring again. First, Callum McCowatt pounced on a back-pass that stopped in a puddle, but was foiled by Phil Imray. The next chance fell to Xavier Green about 12 yards out, however his pile-driver shot didn’t even reach the six-yard box, as it comically stopped in the swamp-like conditions inside the Miramar box. Finally, a surging run from Dalton Wilkins put him one-on-one with Phil Imray, who produced yet another fine stop with his feet.
So, a narrow 1-0 win for Wests from an entertaining game which had plenty of goalmouth action and two goalkeepers in excellent form.
Players of the Day:
3 points – Isaac Tetteh – At least five excellent saves which preserved Wests’ narrow lead
2 points – Marko Stamenic – Very composed on the ball, and combined neatly with teammates
1 point – Owen Parker-Price – Produced majority of the telling passes during the game, and involved in most of Wests’ best moves