Western Suburbs 3 – Lower Hutt 0
Callum McCowatt 29, 49
Owen Parker-Price 53
Wests Formation (4-3-3) Lower Hutt Formation (4-1-3-2)
Liam Garethy, Michael Faber, Kyle Adams, Dalton Wilkins
Dominic Wooldridge, Harry Edge, Owen Parker-Price
Callum McCowatt, Noah Billingsley, Xavier Green
Elijah Just for Dom Wooldridge (70 mins) – Straight swap
Cold, damp and windy conditions greeted Wests at Fraser Park as they sought to maintain their long winning sequence against an energetic young LH side. Just one change to the Wests’ starting line-up with Noah Billingsley returning to the forward line in place of Elijah Just who had been away on international duty. LH coach, Steve Coleman, adopted a 4-1-3-2 formation and admirably tried to get his players to play a similar brand of football to Wests. Ultimately however, Wests were simply too good, and their superior skill and tactics led to a comfortable victory.
The early stages were very cagey, but it was evident that Wests held the upper hand, with Callum McCowatt and Noah Billingsley looking particularly lively. Both sides were quick to press their opponents, but Wests’ speed of pass and movement guaranteed that they played all of the composed football. Critically, Wests also managed to get both full-backs into well-advanced positions, whereas LH’s play was generally too narrow, playing into the hands of Wests’ solid defensive shield of Harry Edge, Mikey Faber and Kyle Adams.
As the half wore on, Wests gradually started to carve out reasonable chances, with Callum McCowatt and Owen Parker-Price both testing the large LH keeper, who appeared to be susceptible to low shots. The break-through came on 29 minutes when neat work from Xavier Green was finished off by Callum McCowatt with low drilled shot.
Dominic Wooldridge and Owen Parker-Price both came close to doubling the lead, and for the first time this season (indeed for the first time in the last 3 seasons), Wests actually looked dangerous from corners with Kyle Adams heading wide when well-placed on one such occasion.
Close to half-time, great skills from Noah Billingsley set up Xavier Green but his shot was crowded out, and then Dalton Wilkins delivered a scorching cross which Noah Billingsley couldn’t quite convert.
Wests were on fire early in the second half, and effectively settled the game with two quick-fire goals. First, a fine interception and surging run from Owen Parker-Price was finished off by another firm, low strike from Callum McCowatt. The favour was then returned, when after neat passing between Noah Billingsley, Xavier Green and Callum McCowatt, Owen Parker-Price expertly chipped the keeper from 25 yards, with ball going in off the underside of the bar.
Within two minutes, Owen Parker-Price was close to a brace, shooting just over after one of many surging right wing sorties from Liam Gerathy.
LH were now in damage limitation mode and started to sit deeper, hoping to stifle Wests. However, this simply allowed Wests to showpiece their passing skills, resulting in very high possession stats and some rash, desperate tackles from several frustrated LH players. Referee David Beattie had an excellent game allowing many good advantages, but quickly clamped down on the more dangerous tackles, producing three yellow cards for LH players.
The more defensive LH tactics did, at least, restrict Wests to longer-range shots for the final third of the game. Although there were no more goals, Wests’ play was first-rate with excellent passing, composure and decision-making. A couple of late efforts from Callum McCowatt and Owen Parker-Price were wayward, but this did not detract from a thoroughly entertaining and professional performance.
Player of the Day:
3 points – Owen Parker-Price – Live-wire performance and expertly taken goal
2 points – Liam Gerathy – Kept dangerman Jared Cunniff “in his pocket”, and made sound contributions up the right wing
1 point – Noah Billingsley – Good pace & power, combining well with other forwards and midfielders