A gutsy UWA Nedlands FC took a valuable point home from a wasteful Forrestfield United in a 0-0 draw away at Hartfield Park.
The match was anything but a bore draw, with both sides creating a barrage of chances in a physical, fast-paced encounter at the foot of Perth’s escarpment. Josh Marocchi and in-form goalkeeper Ranjit Sekhon were impressive in the heart of defence, while midfielder Connor Devlin was heavily involved throughout the course of 90 minutes.
The match began in cagey fashion, with neither side managing to create any meaningful attacking moves into the opposition half. After an even first 10 minutes, Forrestfield began to wrangle possession away from Uni, increasingly pushing closer to the visitors’ goal. The second placed team’s first attempt came 13 minutes into the match, when a speculative shot from Forrie’ captain Liam Merigan sailed over Sekhon’s crossbar.
From that chance, the match began to find its rhythm, still in favour of the home side. Forrestfield created a number of half-chances going forward and eventually found their first clear cut opportunity to score in the 23rd minute. Striker Sani Sinclair was found alone in the 18-yard-box with an incisive cross but placed his glancing header metres wide of Sekhon’s near post.
UWA’s first chance came in the 27th minute, after a smart cut back low cross from Lloyd Prout on the right wing almost found Junior. Forrestfield’s defence scrambled Prout’s pass only as far as midfielder Connor Devlin, whose powerful, goal-bound volley slammed into the midriff of another Forrestfield defender.
Forrestfield would continue to look dangerous on the break, with the ever-present Sinclair proving a threat once again. This time, going head-to-head with UWA captain Marocchi again, the striker opted to strike early, his shot taking a deflection and forcing a lightning quick, right-handed low save from the in-form Sekhon in goals. Sekhon continued his heroics a few minutes later again, Rhys Loxley low strike from distance was expertly parried away from danger.
UWA striker Patrick Morrison would almost sneak in a tap in at the near post late in the half, before the half time whistle brought a scoreless first 45 minutes to a close.
Forrestfield United came racing out of the blocks after the interval, with a 46th minute close range shot blocked by a well-positioned Tim Robertson. It was a clear indication of what was to come, as both teams began to flex their muscle in a high tempo, physical second half. In the 60th minute, a Forrie strikers' stooping header from a corner was saved in routine fashion by Sekhon.
Three minutes later, another bolting run and cross by Prout found Devlin in the box, but ball was too quick for the midfielder to glance his header on target, sending his looping shot well wide.
In the 67th minute, Forrestfield would blow a golden chance to take the league. The striker latched onto a smart through-ball to go one-on-one with Sekhon, after a smart passage of play from the home side. The striker went for a deft chip over a sprawling Sekhon, but his ambitious strike floated wide of Uni’s far post in what certainly proved to be the biggest chance of the match at that point.
Eight minutes later, Junior almost found in the net in superb fashion from the right wing. The speedy winger cut inside his defender with a clear sight to goal but dragged his shot from inside the box wide of Forrestfield keeper Luke Martino’s goal. It was almost the perfect finish to Junior’s afternoon despite the miss, as he was soon replaced by Joe Hayden on the wing.
Sekhon would find himself making another smattering of smart low saves late in the second half. The first was directly on target from a low cross to the near post, parried away from the goal. The second came in the knick of time, as the big keeper would spread himself to smother a Forrestfield one-on-one and stop the home side finding the winner. Sinclair would later slide a skidding long-range strike on target, but the shot headed straight at the UWA custodian. Sinclar would threaten one last time, with his low strike from a similar distance deflecting off Marocchi and bobbling narrowly wide of the far post.
The score finished 0-0, with the stalemate not helping either team, denying Forrestfield the opportunity to climb Western Knights to the top of the table and the single point holding UWA back from soaring to fourth on the table.
UWA face Dianella White Eagles next in a rescheduled clash this Saturday away from home at Dianella Reserve.
Reserves lost 2-0
18s drew 1-1