The PGFC Academy First Team’s 2021 NPL WA campaign came to an end at the Elimination Final stage on Tuesday evening as they were edged out 2-1 by Floreat Athena at E&D Litis Stadium.
Having fallen behind in the 13th minute when a low shot from Sean McManus was deflected into his own net by the luckless Aidan Coyne, Glory found themselves 2-0 down early in the second half after Robert Harding drilled home via the underside of the bar.
Ciaran Bramwell did haul the visitors back into it with six minutes left, forcing the ball into the net from close-range to set up a frantic finale, but it proved to be too little, too late for Ruben Zadkovich’s side.
The hosts may have struggled for form in the latter part of the regular season, but they started brightly in front of a vocal crowd and had already hit the bar through skipper Chris Saldaris when McManus took aim and Coyne’s attempt to block the midfielder’s shot ended with the ball flying past a wrong-footed Cameron Cook.
The rest of the first half saw little in the way of goalmouth action, although Adam Zimarino did flash a shot across the face of goal in the 36th minute and just before the break, Floreat’s Nicholas Ambrogio heading a cross from the lively McManus straight at Cook.
Harding proved far less wasteful four minutes after the restart, however, meeting another fine McManus cross from the left with an emphatic finish to leave Glory with a mountain to climb.
To their credit, the youngsters battled gamely to regain a foothold in the contest, substitute Charlie Leech forcing a smart save from Thomas Chudy and Zimarino seeing his powerful shot deflected over the bar and after Bramwell eventually found a way through during a goalmouth scramble, Glory threw bodies forward in a desperate bid to force the game to extra-time.
But the Athena defence held firm to see out the final moments and set up a Top Four Final derby showdown with Perth SC.
Floreat Athena 2 (Coyne o.g. 13′, Harding 49′) PGFC Academy First Team 1 (Bramwell 84′)
Referee: Josh Mannella
Floreat Athena: 1.Thomas CHUDY (GK), 2.Marco SANTALUCIA, 6.Jesse FULLER (19.Ethan MOM 46′), 8.Sean MCMANUS, 9.Robert HARDING (4.Ben STEELE 77′), 10.Nicholas AMBROGIO, 11.Dennis GALAN, 13.George FESTA, 15.Chris SALDARIS (C), 18.Phil ARNOLD, 20.Andrew PALMER
Substitutes not used: 14.Laat MATHIANG, 16.Kyle MURRAY, 35.Theo SARRIS (GK)
Yellow Cards: McManus
Red Cards: None
PGFC Academy First Team: 30.Cameron COOK (GK), 2.Will FORMSTON (7.Charlie LEECH 55′), 3.Jacob MUIR, 4.Aidan COYNE, 5.Joseph FORDE, 6.Chris DONNELL, 8.Aidan EDWARDS (20.Jack ANDREWS 55′), 9.Ciaran BRAMWELL, 10.Giordano COLLI, 11.Adam ZIMARINO, 18.Tyler VECCHIO (17.Josh ANASMO 46′)
Substitutes not used: 1.Sam REILLY (GK), 14.Joel ANASMO
Yellow Cards: None
Red Cards: None
(picture courtesy of Tom McCarthy)