Armadale edge out Bayswater in top-six battle

Floreat Athena’s Phil Arnold inflicted more pain on Bayswater City as the battle to make the NPLWA Men’s top six threw up an enthralling Round 11 on Saturday.

With the competition splitting in two next week, six teams were chasing the final four spots and the chance to join Floreat and Gwelup Croatia in the top half.

As the afternoon wore on, Cockburn City, ECU Joondalup and Sorrento were pretty much home and hosed.

That left one place to be filled. Inglewood United’s race was run as they trailed 2-0 against Perth Glory before eventually losing 2-1.

Which meant sixth spot was between Armadale and Bayswater.

Armadale, who began the day in sixth, were doing themselves no favours at Cockburn. John O’Reilly’s team fell two goals behind after only 18 minutes and that was how it ended.

So Bayswater had to beat Floreat by three goals or more to edge out Armadale on goal difference, and they gave it a real crack.

Daryl Nicol got the ball rolling on eight minutes when he side-footed in Luke Salmon’s daisy-cutter free-kick. And although Floreat equalised late in the half through Bala Noah Shamaki’s diving header, City still had time to regain the lead before half-time when skipper Gustavo Giron Marulanda followed up to fire home.

The dismissal of Athena’s Nelson Tshongo for a second yellow card on 55 minutes boosted Bayswater’s cause and they took full advantage with two goals in six minutes. First Marulanda got his second, a real poacher’s effort from inside the six-yard box. Then when Salmon fired past Jason Saldaris from the edge of the area, Bayswater were suddenly in the top six.

But Floreat were not willing to give their big rivals an easy passage and 12 minutes from the end they scored the goal which ultimately did for Bayswater and ensured Armadale’s loss against Cockburn was not too costly.

Arnold, who scored the winner for Floreat against Bayswater in last year’s Belt Up Cup Final, laid the ball off to substitute Andrew Palmer before collecting a lovely return pass and shooting beyond Jackson Lee.

Bayswater threw everything in their search for a fifth goal, having Ryan Pearson dismissed for a second yellow in the process, but they had to settle for a 4-2 victory which means their chances of a fourth NPL title are over for 2020.

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