Kyle lands killer blow as Floreat beat ECU in Men's State Cup final

Floreat Athena added more silverware to the trophy cabinet after Kyle Murray's second-half goal clinched a 1-0 win in Saturday's Men's State Cup final over ECU Joondalup at Inglewood Stadium.

Floreat win State Cup
Celebration time for Floreat Athena after their State Cup final win over ECU Joondalup. Photo by Football West/Tom McCarthy

Floreat, who lifted last year's Top Four Cup, were also the reigning State Cup holders after they won it in 2019, the last time it was held due to the pandemic.

Athena had the better chances against ECU and were rewarded when Murray fired in a fine left-foot finish from the edge of the box in the 56th minute.

The match was cagey, with 2020 Men's NPL champions ECU hampered by a serious knee injury to defender Jeremy Tshongo in the first half. 

Floreat had the first clear-cut opportunity when Nicholas Ambrogio broke forward, eventually finding Sean McManus whose shot was easily saved by Johnny Perkins.

Floreat win State Cup
The party's about to start for Floreat. Photo by Football West/Tom McCarthy

 ECU suffered a blow when Tshongo, who had started the game well, was carried off injured in the 38th minute.

Floreat win State Cup
Jeremy Tshongo, left, started brightly before being forced off through injury. Photo by Football West/Tom McCarthy

Athena ramped up the pressure late in the half, with Rob Harding shooting wide before Ambrogio's curling effort fizzed just off target.

Danny Hodgson had a golden opportunity for ECU in the 48th minute when Jason Saldaris did well to deny him from close range and Athena made them pay.

The tireless Phil Arnold dispossessed ECU's Jakub Prajza before turning the ball across the edge of the box, where Murray finished with a sweeping left-foot shot beyond Perkins.

Ambrogio should have added a second for Athena on 69 minutes when he got on the end of Arnold's cross but his free header hit the post, then McManus scuffed a late chance tamely to Perkins.

Floreat win State Cup
ECU's Andy Higgins holds up the ball under pressure. Photo by Football West/Tom McCarthy

Floreat coach Vas Vujacic was delighted with his depleted Athena side, who were missing Ludovic Boi and Dean Evans to injury and Dennis Galan with suspension, and had lost their past three league games.

Floreat win State Cup
Floreat players mob goalscorer Kyle Murray. Photo by Football West/Tom McCarthy

Vujacic said: "It's a fantastic effort from the boys with all the suspensions and injuries and events of the past few weeks. It's a great feeling. It's another trophy for us."

Athena's 20-year-old defender Ben Steele received the Player of the Match award after a strong and industrious display. He received his medal from former Socceroos great Stan Lazaridis

Floreat win State Cup
Player of the Match Ben Steele after receiving his medal from former Socceroos great Stan Lazaridis. Photo by Football West/Tom McCarthy

- Bayswater City celebrated a cup double in the Men's 18s and Men's Reserves State Cup finals.

In the 18s final, City beat Subiaco 1-0. Julian Kelly got the only goal when he scored directly from a corner on 20 minutes. Subiaco were given a great chance to send the match to penalties when they were awarded a stoppage-time spot-kick, but substitute Bojan Sobot's effort was saved by Bayswater keeper Preston Gilling.

Bayswater won the Reserves decider 2-0 against Sorrento. 

Alex McLean headed Bayswater in front on three minutes, while Alex Pietroniro made the game safe eight minutes from time when he followed up Shaun Mukwevho's saved effort.