Western Suburbs 1 – Stop Out 2
Marko Stamenic 46′ min
Wests Formation (4-3-3) Stop Out Formation (3-4-3)
Alex Clayton, Blake Jones, Nando Pijnaker, Danny Hartford-Silas
Dalton Wilkins, Marko Stamenic, Owen Parker-Price
Callum McCowatt, Matt Garbett, Xavier Green
Cameron McKenzie for Daniel Harford-Silas (74 mins) – Dalton moved to left-back
Jesse Kang for Matt Garbett (76 mins) – Straight swap
Liam Gerathy for Alex Clayton (82 mins) – Straight swap
For the final game of the season, Wests had an even younger than usual starting 11, and a bench littered with U-16 players. They were up against an experienced Stop Out team on a Hutt Park pitch that deteriorated significantly in the second half as heavy rain struck for the second match running.
The early stages saw some nice touches from Matt Garbett and Marko Stamenic, in addition to a confidence boosting save from Frankie Walkington, after a swift Stop Out break. Wests controlled the vast majority of possession, and at times, Stop Out appeared to be in end-of-season mode, allowing Callum McCowatt and Owen Parker-Price far too much time and space to dictate play. This resulted in a number of half-chances for Wests, the best of which coming after Matt Garbett and Xavier Green combined to set up Callum McCowatt, but his firm shot was tipped away by James McPeake in the Stop Out goal.
Some of Wests movement was outstanding with the midfielders and attackers have many neat interchanges and cross-overs. There was also intelligent role-swapping with Dalton Wilkins or Owen Parker-Price instinctively dropping into the 6-position on the occasions that Marko Stamenic drove forward.
Completely against the run of play, Stop Out pinched the lead when Micky Malivuk rose highest to thump home a header after a fine cross from the right. Stop Out then enjoyed a period of superiority up to half-time, creating several good opportunities. Frankie Walkington pulled off a couple of top-drawer saves, but unfortunately had no chance with Scott Henderson’s drilled finish just before the break.
Heavy rain set in from half-time onwards, but Wests were quick out of the blocks for the second period, halving the deficit immediately with Marko Stamenic’s excellent finish after a sharp one-two with Xavier Green.
Stop Out opted to “park the bus” from that point onwards, allowing Wests possession in their own half, but crowding them out in the final third. Callum McCowatt again brought out the best in James McPeake after being set up by Marko Stamenic, and Dalton Wilkins had a decent attempt deflected over. However, Wests struggled to manufacture any clear-cut opportunities against the stout Stop Out defence, and could easily have fallen further behind but for a couple of excellent saves from Frankie Walkington, and some last-ditch blocks from Nando Pijnaker and Blake Jones.
Cameron McKenzie and Jesse Kang made their debuts from the bench for the last 15-20 minutes, and both displayed the usual Declan Edge work ethic, combined with poise on the ball, during their brief cameos.
An equalizer was not forthcoming though, so Wests had to accept just their second defeat of the season.
Player of the Day:
3 points – Marko Stamenic – Silky skills, good link-up play and excellent goal
2 points – Frankie Walkington – Excellent debut with good ball skills & distribution, combined with 3-4 first-rate saves
1 point – Matt Garbett – Improving with every game, intelligent combinations with his fellow-strikers