Smith, Byrne hit hat-tricks but it's Knights who lead the charge


Western Knights continued their 100% start to 2024 as they won 1-0 at Inglewood United in Round Two of the NPLWA - Men’s competition.

The promoted side backed up last week’s home win against Perth SC with victory by the same margin thanks to Kristian Santich’s late goal. It means they sit two points clear at the top early doors, while Inglewood are without a point in their first two outings.

The hosts had the best of the early chances with Charlie Garnham’s drive cannoning back off the post, before Dhours Chol struck straight at keeper Sam Reilly.


Albert Luwi rifled wide from range with Knights’ best first-half opening, while early in the second period it was Jack Bardsley who was off the mark from distance.

Santich’s header was grasped by Nic Speca after the restart, while Inglewood’s new signing Kotaro Yamamoto struck at Reilly when slipped in by a teammate.

Ultimately a tight contest was decided five minutes from the end when Jay Sheridan’s low cross came off Jesse Lazzaro with Santich sliding in to turn home the game’s decisive goal.

Inglewood Knights Peter Simcox
Western Knights matchwinner Kristian Santich closes down Inglewood's Elliot Ireland. Photo by Peter Simcox

Knights are two points clear of Bayswater City who recorded an impressive 5-1 victory over Olympic Kingsway thanks largely to Gordon Smith’s second-half hat-trick.

It was David Tough’s side who took the lead on 55 minutes as Liam Boland headed home from Aryn Williams’ pinpoint cross to mark his first goal since returning to the NPL.

But two goals in a minute from Smith turned the game on its head. The attacking midfielder arrived to finish after being teed up by Chris Jackson, before Bayswater won the ball back straight from Olympic’s kick-off and exchanged passes to give Smith a tap-in.

The Scot then provided an assist for Jackson to stay onside and score his first goal of the season as Bayswater gave themselves breathing room.

Smith completed his hat-trick with 10 minutes remaining as he followed in from his own saved penalty to nod in, before Jackson rattled in a late fifth which sent Bayswater second on goal difference.

Byswater City Gordon Smith Olympic Kingsway
Gordon Smith celebrates one of his three goals for Bayswater with teammates Chris Jackson and Samuel Dweh. Photo by Bayswater City SC

Fremantle City are also unbeaten with one win and one draw after winning 4-1 against Armadale in their maiden NPL home game at Hilton Park.

Matty Sparrow’s side led in first-half stoppage time thanks to Alex McLean’s brilliant header from Pat Loughrey’s cross.

In-form McLean made it three goals in his first two games with a pile-driver from Robert Petkov’s lay-off and Freo held that two-goal buffer until late on when a flurry of goals came.

Ex-Perth SC man Alex Silla came off the bench to head in another Loughrey cross and mark his return to the NPL in style following a year out with injury.

There was still time for Ryley Wishart-Stephen to score his first league goal for Armadale in stoppage time from the penalty spot. But it was City’s day in the sun and they made it 4-1 when Dylan White registered his first goal since joining from Inglewood.

Glory Floreat Tom McCarthy
Nick Ambrogio turns away after giving Floreat Athena the lead against Perth Glory. Photo by Tom McCarthy

Perth Glory and Floreat Athena are also on four points after drawing 1-1 at the Sam Kerr Football Centre.

The Glory academy will be playing their home games at the venue in season 2024 but didn’t make the best start as Athena went ahead on seven minutes. Kyle Murray’s corner wasn’t dealt with by Glory’s defence with Nick Ambrogio on hand to smash in.

But John Walmsley’s side pegged back last year’s State Cup winners before the half-hour mark as Jaylan Pearman headed Sam Barry’s cross past Jason Saldaris.

Elsewhere, Matty George was the late hero as Perth RedStar came from a goal down with 10 men to defeat Balcatta Etna 2-1.

Ben Hinshelwood’s spot-kick made it two goals in two games for the striker and it was a lead Etna held until the final 10 minutes, before the defending champions returned serve.

Dennis Galan collected a second yellow card, yet moments later RedStar were level with Theo Leeming quickest to react after Daryl Nicol’s initial shot was well saved.

Then six minutes into stoppage time, Nicol was involved again as he crossed for George to score low with a first-time volley and get RedStar on the board.

Glory Floreat Tom McCarthy
A flying Jason Saldaris is unable to prevent Jaylan Pearman's equaliser for Perth Glory against Floreat. Photo by Tom McCarthy

Round Two started on Friday night at Dorrien Gardens as Stirling Macedonia sensationally came from two goals down to win 3-2 against Perth SC.

Substitute Ciaran Byrne bagged an 11-minute hat-trick for last year’s Top Four Cup winners who rallied to provide a perfect response to last week’s Kingsway defeat.

Perth put themselves in a strong position thanks to two goals in as many first-half minutes. David Ninkovich scored from the penalty spot after Ryan Malton’s foul on Ethan Banks before Gordon Perkins’ fine header from a Banks free-kick doubled the lead.

Both teams were reduced to 10 men late in the opening period when Federico Achilli and Dejan Spaseski both collected second yellow cards in separate incidents.

Ian Ferguson freshened things up with four early changes in the second half and he was rewarded almost immediately when Byrne latched onto Calvin Whitney’s pass to reduce the arrears.

The striker then followed in on a partial clearance from Perth to plant a header past Joe Pollard into the bottom corner. Whitney then provided the ammunition for Byrne to fire home for his treble, as Stirling held firm despite a couple of late Perth scares.

stirling perth sc ciaran byrne Rob Lizzi
Stirling players congratulate hat-trick hero Ciaran Byrne. Photo by Rob Lizzi
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