Curtis Aspden will play for Cockburn City next season (Photo by Peter Simcox)

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Defender Alex Grant is desperate to win promotion with Macclesfield Town to go alongside his ongoing development. Grant has become a vital figure in the Silkmen’s backline since joining the club in August on loan from Stoke City. Macclesfield have conceded just 27 times in 31 league games en route to second spot in the Conference. And Grant says he’s at the best place for his development – and he’s determined to complete his experience with promotion.

“I feel like I’m progressing as a player, it’s definitely toughened me up, both mentally and physically,” said Grant, who made his thirteenth appearance for the club in last weekend’s win over Lincoln City. “It’s great playing first team football – I love it. It’s a big step up physically and mentally as well … you’ve got to have more areas to your game and more strings to you bow so you have to stay switched on all the time. It toughens you up I suppose.”

Macclesfield have just two dedicated centre-backs in their squad, Grant and George Pilkington. And as the two are poles apart in terms of their experience, 21-year old Grant admits he’s keen to tap into every ounce of his 33-year old partner. “It’s class having George alongside me, I drive in with him to training and he’s a great mentor really, I couldn’t have asked for anyone better, he’s top-class,” declared Grant, who will stay at Macclesfield until the end of the season.

Grant is hoping the time he spends at the sharp end of England’s non-league will put him in good stead going forward. “I could probably have gone back to Stoke and faded away again but I wanted to stay here, stay in this environment and thank the manager for giving me a chance as well,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll carry on as we are, that’s two clean sheets in a row and we couldn’t ask for anything better. The lads at the other end are doing their bit by putting them away as well so it’s all good.”

Saturday’s win over Lincoln put Macclesfield eight points behind leaders Barnet. “We can go all the way, I think we can win the league in all honesty,” he commented. “Barnet look shaky sometimes, I wasn’t that convinced by them when we played them. They are a good team and I can see why they’re at the top of the league but I think they’ll have to be careful because there’s a few teams breathing down their necks. If they slip up we have to be there to mop up and take advantage.”

“I think we can do it, go all the way and get promotion,” Grant continued. “We have to focus on each game, but I’d take going up in the play-offs as well. It’s a harder way to do it and it means you don’t get as long a holiday but it’d still be great to do it and get to Wembley, it would be a great experience for me and something to put on my CV – but I’d take promotion either way.”



Things are heating up on Inglewood United’s training track as players strive to convince new coach Michael Garcia they’re deserving of a spot in his starting eleven. Inglewood’s first game under Garcia – a Night Series clash with Armadale – is under a week away and defender Shane Pickering says the tempo and intensity at training has increased accordingly as the season opener approaches.

“Since returning from our Christmas break the players have stamped their foot on the pedal and we are well underway for a promising year, with Michael and (assistant coach) Victor Sikora in the driving seat,” Pickering enthused. “For everyone to be fit and sharp so early in the year is a massive positive, and the enthusiasm within the team at training has been excellent.”

Inglewood comes into 2015 with a renewed sense of purpose thanks to an astute recruitment drive which has revitalised the playing roster. “There is no doubt Michael has brought in some great talent,” commented Pickering, whose new teammates include Aleks Vrtestki, Jovo Pavlovic and Rikki Smith. “As a result there’s a much better balance to the squad and increased competition for spots.”

“Last year we continually had players playing out of their preferred positions,” the defender explained. “But at the minute we have two or three worthy candidates for all eleven spots on the field. Everyone knows that each session is an opportunity to impress the coaches and this creates an intense, intrinsically motivated environment for the players.”

“This has to be the most depth we’ve had in the side since I’ve been at Inglewood,” added Pickering, who has been part of the first team set-up since 2012. “The best teams in the world have depth with the players on the bench just as good as anyone on the park, that’s the way we’re looking … the Night Series will give us a good idea of where we stand.”



Socceroo Trent Sainsbury is confident team-mate Ivan Franjic will be fit for Saturday's Asian Cup final but is ready to fill-in at right-back if his fellow defender is ruled out. Franjic suffered a hip injury late in Australia’s semi-final win over United Arab Emirates and is in doubt for the tournament decider against South Korea. "I've played there a few times for (Central Coast) Mariners and once in pre-season for (PEC) Zwolle," Sainsbury said of his potential switch of position. "It doesn't bother me, I'll just have to adjust and do what the coaches tell me. You can put me in goal if you want to, I'm not fussed. I'll go out there and do the job I'm told."

Sainsbury opened his international account against UAE by steering Massimo Luongo’s corner into the net. "To be honest I was trying to stay as calm as I could," Sainsbury said of his goal, which arrived after only 3 minutes. "My first goal with the Mariners I got a little bit too excited and five minutes later I started cramping. I just remember trying to stay calm and focus on the game. It’s about time (I scored). We've been working on (set-pieces) at training and I've been getting my head on a few but to get it in a game and in such an important match is a pretty good feeling."



WA State keeper Curtis Aspden has flown the nest, after leaving The Gulls (Sorrento) to join fellow National Premier League WA club Cockburn City. The 27-Year-old, who has spent five seasons at Percy Doyle Reserve, after coming from the UK, believes the move is good for him, and he is looking forward to working with Coaches Marc Anthony and Scott Miller. “I have always known Marc, from playing against him and I’ve always had a bit of banter with him after games and with me now working in Cockburn Central it just made sense for me to move,” Aspden said. “It’s a fresh start for me with a team which is only five minutes from work, and that with a couple of additions including myself can make a real go of things this year.”

The decision to leave The Gulls was difficult, but one the former Hull City, Farsley Celtic and Northwich Victoria keeper believes is good for him. “Yes it was a difficult one after being there for so long and having made so many mates from within the club itself,” Aspden explained. “But at the end of the day I've got to do what’s best for me and I thought it made sense for me to move to Cockburn and start a fresh this year.”

Aspden had another good season at Sorrento, but injuries curtailed his impact. “I was carrying a knock for the back end of the season, which isn't an excuse, but at the end of the day I thought the team gave everything we had, and it just so happened that there was three better teams than us last year and I thought our league position was probably what we deserved,” Aspden explained. In his time at Sorrento, Aspden helped them to the league title in 2012, and back-to-back Cup wins in 2011 and 2012, but the double was a highlight. “Obviously winning the double was Sorrento’s best year ever, but just the couple of years we had with heaps of success were very pleasing for me personally and the club itself which created a great bond between the lads within the team on and off the pitch,” he said

So it’s a new start for Aspden, and he believes the squad at Cockburn is very strong and is looking forward to the new season. “Personally it’s going to be strange playing against Sorrento for sure, but even after only a couple of sessions I'm looking forward to the season,” he said. “Marc and Scotty have got the boys very sharp and already six weeks out to the start of the year things are looking up. We are a couple more additions short of a team that’s going to be right up there with Bayswater and Perth this year.”

His experience will be vital for the Cockerels this season, and he is looking for an injury free season. “It was strange after my first session as I've always been one of the younger lads at Sorrento, but just looking around this week I'm now one of the older ones,” Aspden joked. “Hopefully I can stay fit and my experience is only going to help the younger boys and we can get on a good run straight away. The Coaching staff wants us to get the ball on the ground and get it passed about quickly which is a complete u turn to what I've been used to at Sorrento, so the sooner we all get on the same wave length the quicker we will fly up the table.”



It’s been a tumultuous time at Stirling Lions in the pre-season, with a number of their senior players moving on. But they have been busy in the transfer market and have secured the services of German-born English striker Brian Woodall. The 27-year-old turned down the opportunity to join Luton Town to head down under with his partner and they have both settled in well to WA life. “We settled in pretty quickly, and both have picked up jobs which is great,” Woodall said. “It’s a lovely place to live and when my mate Kyle King, who has just signed for Bayswater, told me about the league he gave me Rob Milevski’s mobile number and the rest is history as they say. I could have signed for Luton in the Conference, but to me this is a new challenge, in a new country, and one I’m really looking forward too.”

Woodall has fitted in well with the new look squad, and has endured the 30 plus degrees temperatures in the pre-season, but he believes he will be OK. “There have been a large number of players coming over from the UK to play in Australia, and of course the heat will be a huge problem, as we don’t get that much sunshine back home,” he joked. “But I’m sure I will get used to it. The lads have been great and we have some very good players, and we are really fit and rearing to go in the Night Series.” New Lions head coach Rob Milevski was happy when the striker contacted them. “We’re really pleased to have signed Brian for the season,” he said. “He’s had a long and successful career in the game in the UK and he will add quality and experience to our squad.”

The striker has played for a number of clubs in the UK, most recently with Bishop Stortford in the Conference South, but also signed a professional contract. “I signed a four-year professional contract with Dagenham and Redbridge, which was a great experience,” Woodall explained. “My time at the club was great and a hat-trick against Bristol Rovers was something I won’t forget.” The Lions begin their Night Series campaign next weekend when they take on Champions Bayswater City at Macedonia Park.



A-League club Newcastle Jets have culled their playing and non-playing ranks by sacking five senior players and three members of the coaching staff. David Carney had his contract terminated for disciplinary reasons while Joel Griffiths, Kew Jaliens, Billy Celeski and Adrian Madaschi were sacked by owner Nathan Tinkler late today. Earlier in the day assistant coach Zane Clayton, goalkeeper coach Neil Young and strength and conditioning coach Andrew Packerwere also given their marching orders. The cleanout comes as Football Federation Australia set a deadline of this week for Tinkler’s Hunter Sports Group to meet their debts.



Perth Glory have breathed a sigh of relief with young winger Chris Harold expected to miss only a month with a high-grade ankle strain. Club officials had feared the worst when Harold went down clutching his right ankle in the first half of Sunday night's home draw with Melbourne Victory. However, scans revealed the 22-year old had not sustained a ligament tear or bone fracture that would have ruled him out for months. A club spokesman said Harold was expected to miss up to four weeks with a "severe strain and bruising" to the joint.

The diagnosis will come as a welcome relief to the league leaders, who have already lost regulars Youssouf Hersi and Mitch Nichols to long-term injuries. Harold has been a shining light for Glory this season, scoring three goals in his past five outings. Glory will be forced to make at least two changes to their starting line-up for their next match against Sydney at Perth Oval on 7 February. Rostyn Griffiths joins Harold on the sidelines because of a one-match suspension after receiving his fifth yellow card of the season.

Richard Garcia is another senior player walking the suspension tightrope, having so far received four yellow cards. Coach Kenny Lowe defended his players, saying he would not discourage the physical approach adopted by the likes of Griffiths. "If you look at the stats, he's made the most tackles in the A-League," Lowe said of Griffiths. "Part and parcel of that is you're going to make the odd one that's a little bit mistimed. He's no different. He's competitive. He does a really good job."



ECU Joondalup new signing Rowdy Yates is looking forward to coming home, after signing from fellow National Premier League WA side Subiaco AFC for 2015. The 24-year-old began his football at the ECU Academy, under the tutelage of former head Coach and now committee member Syd Amphlett. “I'm really looking forward to the new season with ECU, “Yates said. “I played all my youth football at the club, so it feels good to be back here to play first team football for them.”

The move of Yates to the ECU Arena is all about Coach Dale McCulloch, and once the coach spoke to the defender he knew it was right one. “I was asked a few weeks back by Dale if I was interested in coming down to the club. I already knew it’s a top set up down there with a good manager and quality players so I it was an easy decision to make,” Yates explained.

McCulloch believes Yates will be a great pick up for his side. “We’ve had our eye Rowdy for a while, and after talking to him and explaining what we are trying to achieve at the club, we were delighted he has chosen to play for us next season,” McCulloch said. “He will add to our defensive depth, and he can also play wide in the middle of the park, which makes him a versatile player, and I’m looking forward to working with him.”

Yates enjoyed his time at Subiaco, and wished them all the best next season. “It was hard to leave Subi as they gave me the opportunity to play NPL and I will always be thankful to them for that,” he explained. “Last season with Subiaco was a tough one, full of ups and downs, but I think Subiaco proved a few people wrong with some of the results we picked up last year, and I'm sure they will only get stronger.”

The pre-season is in full swing, as ECU prepares for their opening NPL Night Series game against Cockburn City next Friday and Yates believes they will be really competitive. “We have a good squad with a good mix of quality young and experienced players,” he said. “I really like Dale’s style of football and his winning mentality, he wants to win every game we play and I'm sure that will rub off on to the team so we can push on from last year and hopefully have a successful season.



A devastating early onslaught paved the way for Australia to advance to the Asian Cup final with a 2-0 victory over the United Arab Emirates at a rain-soaked Hunter Stadium in Newcastle. Defenders Trent Sainsbury and Jason Davidson scored their first international goals - inside the opening 15 minutes - to set-up an Asian Cup Final showdown with an unbeaten South Korean outfit on Saturday. "It was a dream start for us," said Davidson. "I think as the game went on fatigue kicked in a little bit but we hung on and kept a clean sheet."

UAE barely had time to draw breath when Sainsbury headed in, the defender rising unmarked to nod a Massimo Luongo corner down and past goalkeeper Majed Naser after only 3 minutes. Ahmed Khalil almost hit back on 10 minutes but his low shot struck the outside of Mathew Ryan's near post. Four minutes later Davidson gave Australia some breathing space with a cool finish into the bottom corner after Luongo prodded the ball into his path. Mark Milligan should have added another before the break but dragged his shot wide.

Khalil drilled narrowly wide from distance soon after the interval to signal UAE’s intention. With Australia struggling for territory, coach Ange Postecoglou introduced Matt McKay's fresh legs to the midfield in place of Mark Milligan, allowing the Socceroos to regain a foothold. Luongo almost got his name on the scoresheet, his curling left-footed effort would have found the far corner if not for a diving fingertip save from Naser.

Sainsbury capped another dominant showing with a superb sliding tackle to deny Ali Mabkhout a shot on goal in the final minute.



Socceroos defender Chris Herd has joined English Championship side Wigan Athletic on loan from Aston Villa for the remainder of the campaign. Herd has endured a frustrating season with injuries and was ruled out Australia's Asian Cup campaign after hurting his Achilles tendon on the training track during the tournament. The 25-year old is hopeful of staying fit and making an impact with Wigan. "I'm very happy to sign and get the deal done until the end of the season," said Herd. "It's a great club, a Premier League club. Unfortunately that's not where the club is at the moment but it's somewhere where it belongs."

The versatile Herd, who can play as a defender or midfielder, has been with Villa for almost a decade but has been limited to just only scattered competitive appearances in the past two seasons. He spent a month on loan with Championship side Bolton Wanderers last year but made only two appearances there. "I'm 25 now so I need to be playing regular first team football and hopefully I can do that here," Herd said. "I'm going to bring a lot of energy to the team. I can play in a number of positions and I'll play wherever the manager wants me to play. I can't wait to get out there."



Goalkeeper Mark Birighitti flies to Italy tomorrow to commence a loan deal with Serie B club Varese. The ambitious 23-year old was a member of the Socceroos training squad in the lead up to the World Cup last year but has been out of favour at Newcastle Jets since late November. Frustrated by a lack of A-League game time, Birighitti was desperate for a move during the transfer window and will be with AS Varese until the middle of 2015. Birighitti remains contracted to the Newcastle Jets but the agreement includes an option for the Italian club to purchase the former Perth SC junior at the end of the initial loan period.



Australian World Cup legend Craig Moore has lavished praise on emerging Socceroos star Trent Sainsbury, saying that with more experience he could become the complete defender. Sainsbury, 23, signed for PEC Zwolle in the Netherlands' Eredivisie early last year and he has now broken into the national team. He has left a strong impression in his first major international tournament and caught the eye in Australia's 2-0 Asian Cup quarter-final victory over China in Brisbane. Sainsbury is expected to retain his place in the side to face United Arab Emirates in the second semi-final in Newcastle on Tuesday.

Sainsbury's performance was not lost on Moore, who played for Australia 52 times and was a member of the 2006 World Cup team that reached the last 16 in the competition in Germany. "Trent seems to be somebody that the more games he plays the more confident he becomes as a football player," Moore said. "In terms of defensive attributes he seems to have all the qualities. He has good pace and anticipation and he's a good passer of the ball out from the back which is important especially when you look at the way the national team is looking at playing."

"With experience he will continue to improve and judge situations a lot better. You've got to have the drive to be fit and play 95 minutes," Moore continued. "You have to have the desire to do those things and from what we've seen from Trent he has that desire. Then you start looking in terms of being the complete player with the ability to play to the team's structure. All this will come with maturity and experience … He still has a bit of work to do in terms of concentration and in professional football that concentration must be there for 90 minutes."

Moore said he was not surprised by Sainsbury's rise from a promising defender at Central Coast Mariners to a Socceroos stalwart. "I'm not surprised at all by how well he has adapted to international football," he said. "The season before he left for the Netherlands he had a very good season with the Mariners. I think he himself would agree that his performance the following season probably dipped and now that he has the opportunity to be in Europe he has to challenge himself every single day to not only improve but get a game every weekend. And if you do that you develop a lot quicker."

So is Sainsbury here for the long haul? "At times I got sucked into that one in saying that players would go on and play for Australia for the next ten years," Moore said. "The message I give to all the players is 'yes, you may have an opportunity to play for Australia for a long time but that will only come on the back of what they put in on a week to week basis and playing well enough to be in a position to continue playing for the national team. There are no guaranteed positions but if you continue to do well in whatever league you are playing in you give yourself that opportunity."



It's not often Kenny Lowe is lost for words, but even the Perth Glory coach is trying to find new terms to describe his team's fighting qualities. Glory put away two goals in the last twelve minutes last night to salvage a 3-3 draw against fellow title contenders Melbourne Victory and maintain a four-point buffer at the top of the table. It was the sixth time this season Glory have come from behind to either win or draw and Lowe continues to be amazed at his team's ability to snatch a result from the jaws of defeat.

"I'm going to have start looking up the dictionary for some better words: I keep using character and blue collar," Lowe said. "But in any walk of life you've got a bit of adversity and it's how you deal with that. You don't look at people when everything's plain sailing, you don't look at people when they're at the top of their game. You look at people when they've got a little bit of pain and I'll tell you what - our lads tick every single box, every single time."



A-League leaders Perth Glory scored twice in the last twelve minutes to salvage an entertaining 3-3 draw against Melbourne Victory. The away team were three-one up after finishes by Fahid Ben Khalfallah, Besart Berisha and Kosta Barbarouses were countered only by Andy Keogh. But with the clock ticking down, Rostyn Griffiths grabbed a goal back before substitute Jamie Maclaren equalised with two minutes left to send the majority in the 12,271-strong crowd at Perth Oval into raptures. Glory now hold a four-point lead over Adelaide United and third-placed Melbourne at the top of the league.

Khalfallah opened the scoring with a sizzling strike from outside the box in the 18th minute. It took only three minutes for Glory to hit back, Harold earning a penalty after being brought down by Nathan Coe and from the spot Andy Keogh pushed the ball into the bottom left as the goalkeeper dived right. Buoyed by their quick reply, the mood within the Glory camp was slightly soured in the 29th minute when Harold succumbed to an ankle injury and had to be replaced. Both sides traded blows in the middle of the park and it seemed the half would finish level when Berisha grabbed the lead back for the visitors

Melbourne tightened their grip on the game when Barbarouses opportunistically capitalised on Josh Risdon’s failed clearance in the 57th minute. Griffiths brought the difference back to a single goal in the 78th minute by heading in from a Nebojsa Marinkovic corner. With this Glory jumped back into action and in the 89th minute substitute Maclaren zeroed in on goal and brilliantly slotted inside the far post. Stoppage time efforts from Griffiths and Maclaren were deflected wide by the defence as Glory sought unsuccessfully to snatch all three points. Lowe will be without Maclaren (injury) and Griffiths (suspension) when Glory next step out, against Sydney FC on 7 February.



Australia will not be underestimating United Arab Emirates in their Asian Cup semi-final according to Trent Sainsbury. UAE stunned Japan on penalties in the quarter-finals to book their spot in the last four but Sainsbury is confident the Socceroos are up for the challenge. “We'll go out there with 100% cent knowledge of what they’re going to bring at us and we’re going to be ready,” Sainsbury said. “We’re not going to take anything for granted, we know they’ve got a good strike force and it’s probably their main threat.”

Al Ain midfielder Omar Abdulrahman has starred for UAE at the tournament and Sainsbury knows the Socceroos will need to nullify the playmaker's influence on Tuesday. “He’s a great player, we’ve seen the talent he’s got so we’re going to have to keep a close eye on him,” he said. “Obviously one man can’t win you the game. They’ve got a great team unity and you see the fans are just as passionate as the players. We’re going to have to be on top of our game to win.”

Newcastle’s 23,000-seat Hunter Stadium, the venue for the semi-final clash, has come under fire in the lead up to the game amid calls for it to be moved to ANZ Stadium, has a capacity of 83,500, in Sydney. “It doesn’t bother me. As long as we’re going out there on the pitch and giving 100% for the fans and the badge. The boys are going to give their all, it doesn’t matter where we play,” he said. “At the same time UAE will have had a lot of fans there as well so it doesn’t really bother us. You’ve got a ball, you’ve got a pitch. We’re going to go out there and get the win.”



World Cup hopeful Lydia Williams is edging closer to her comeback following a second knee reconstruction. After watching Canberra United win the W-League title from the sidelines, Williams notched a small milestone in her road to recovery by joining the Matildas in a camp at the Australian Institute of Sport this week. The Canberra goalkeeper is racing the clock to prove her fitness before the Matildas World Cup campaign in Canada in June.

Williams was Australia's first-choice 'keeper last year before her knee gave way while playing for the Western New York Flash in the United States' National Women's Soccer League. "I've just been working at the AIS and that's different for me because I haven't really had that opportunity with a solid gym program before," said Williams, who previously tore her anterior cruciate ligament while playing in Sweden in 2012. "I'm trying to do the simple things right and correct things that have been a little bit off. It's about simplifying it, muscular remembering, and the more I do it, the better I become."

Williams knows she faces the tough task of winning back the number one shirt jersey before the World Cup without knowing when her next game will be. "I am a little bit nervous about (the limited game time before the World Cup), it depends on what we're doing in camps and how I'm involved," she said. "I'm in the camp as an injured player on modified training so they can monitor what I'm doing. I can pretty much do everything, but it's all in controlled environments with no unpredictability. It's all about getting the strength and functional movement back."



Melbourne Victory lost a perfect opportunity to reduce the lead of Perth Glory at the top of the Hyundai A-League table after throwing away a 3-1 lead, to eventually draw 3-3 in a packed house at the nib Stadium. Billed as the ‘Peoples Game’ by the Glory, it was the fans who helped them hit back late to snatch a share of the spoils. In front of over 12,000 fans it looked like they would go home disappointed two goals down with 14 minutes to play. Fahid Ben Khalfallah had given the Victory the lead early, only for Andy Keogh to level from the penalty spot. Besart Berisha put the visitors ahead before the break and Kosta Barbarouses added a third on 57 minutes. But with the fans urging them on Rostyn Griffiths pulled one back on 78 minutes, before super sub Jamie Maclaren levelled one minute from time.

Glory Coach Kenny Lowe praised his team for their fight back. "We like being behind, because we relish the comeback. I'll take the draw,” he said. “Even when we're down, we're not down. The scoreboard tells us but our players don't feel down.” Victory coach Kevin Muscat cut a forlorn figure after the match as he rued his team's failure to walk away with the three points. "We scored some very good goals, but in the end we were playing in patches and not for the full 90 minutes," he said. "We conceded some ridiculous goals."

It was a warm day in the West Australian capital, with the home side wearing a specially designed kit for the day, which incorporated the states black and gold colours. But it was the Victory who opened the better, looking to reserve the last result, where the Glory won 2-1 in Melbourne, and on 18 minutes they hit the front. Gui Finkler picked out Khalfallah on the edge of the box, and the Tunisian picked his spot and fired home powerfully past Danny Vukovic. But the home side hit back three minutes later. Chris Harold was sent racing down the right by Ruben Zadkovich’s superb through ball, and he was brought down by Victory keeper Nathan Coe, and referee Peter Green pointed straight to the spot, and Keogh did the rest to level, scoring his ninth goal of the season.

The Glory suffered a blow on 29 minute when Harold succumbed to an ankle injury and had to be replaced by new German midfielder Dragan Paljic. But three minutes before the break it was the Victory who hit the front. Victory made a quick break with Khalfallah feeding Berisha who made no mistake, firing the ball past Vukovic from eight meters.

The Victory extended their lead on 57 minutes, an attempted clearance from Josh Risdon fell to the Barbarouse, and the New Zealander made no mistake from close-range. It looked game over, but the big Glory crowd got behind their side and they were back in the game on 78 minutes. Nebojsa Marinkovic corner was headed home by Griffiths from four meters. Game on and the Glory pressed for the equaliser and it came on 89 minutes. Keogh laid the ball back to Risdon, who played the ball over the top for Maclaren, who raced clear and finished with aplomb past Coe, to send the Glory faithful into raptures.



Perth Glory Youth defender Jack Iredale has suffered a third ACL knee injury in their 2-0 loss against Newcastle Jets in today’s National Youth League game at Rockwell Automation Park in Weston. The 18-year-old, who has represented the Young Socceroos, had to fight his way back into the side this season, and has been a solid contributor for the league leaders, but he was carried off the field on a stretcher in the first half after turning his marker in the box and his foot getting stuck in the pitch. Striker Joe Knowles said the injury left the rest of his team mates devastated. “We all felt gutted for Jack, and it showed on the pitch as soon as it happened,” he said. “Everyone’s emotions got the better of them in the first half, and we conceded two goals. But the second half we came out a lot stronger but couldn’t find the net.”

Glory Coach John Gibson made five changes to the side that drew 0-0 with Adelaide United last time out, with leading scorer Knowles returning to the starting line-up. Ryan Barker came into goal, with Riley Woodcock, Todd Norris and Calvin Whitney also in the side. The Jets were coming off a good 2-0 win on the road against Western Sydney Wanderers were out of the blocks early, with first team squad member Taylor Regan in their side.

Both sides had plenty of possession, but clear cut chances were few and far between. Iredale was forced off the pitch after only ten minutes, when he was caught be a stray elbow, the youngster coming back on with what looked a broken nose. But it was the Glory who had the first really opportunity on 25 minutes. A break down the left by Riley Woodcock ended with a cross to Knowles, whose first touch took him clear of Jets keeper Jesse Cook, but he took the ball wide and his low shot from the angle crashed off the post and way to safety.

But the game changed five minutes later when Iredale was stretched off the field, and the Jets pounced with the opening goal four minutes later. Mitch Cooper started the move finding Nick Cowburn, who played Brandon Lundy down the left. He cut inside Matt Davies and crossed to Braedyn Crowley who fired home past Ryan Barker from close-range. It got worse for the Glory in the last minute of the first half when the home side doubled their advantage. A corner was whipped into the back post and Reece Papadimirios finished past Baker.

A shell-shocked Glory looked to hit back, but was struggling to break down a tight Jets defence. The best chance fell to lively winger Borbor Sam. He picked the ball up in the middle of the park and ran at the Jets, leaving four players in his wake, taking him one-on-one with Cook. His low shot beat the Jets custodian but to the Glory’s disappointed the post came to his rescue. The Glory continued to press but couldn’t find a break through and at the final whistle it was the Jets who ran out winners, but the thoughts of Glory coaches, players and supporters are with Jack Iredale and his devastating injury – Get well soon Jack!!! .



Former Perth Glory striker Darvydas Sernas has become Ross County's fourth signing of the January transfer window, and will join up with former ECU Joondalup defender Cameron Burgess. The Victoria Park club have added the Lithuania to their squad, after stints in Russia, Turkey and the Glory. Most recently he was playing with Wigry Suwalki in the Polish second division.

This month County boss Jim McIntyre has already brought in former Celtic defender Marcus Fraser, striker Craig Curran and Young Socceroo Burgess, who has joined on loan from Fulham. McIntyre said: "He has 35 international caps for Lithuania under his belt, bringing a wealth of experience to the squad." County are currently four points adrift of St Mirren at the bottom of the table, albeit with two games in hand.



Long-serving director Rob Mackay has renewed his Football West involvement with his appointment to the Board at the first meeting of 2015. Mackay, who resigned from his elected position at last month’s Annual General Meeting as required by the Constitution, was delighted to return to the Board by invitation. At Tuesday’s meeting, Liam Twigger was re-appointed Football West Chairman and Henry Atturo will again occupy the position of Deputy Chairman.

Respected journalist and media personality Gary Adshead and former Perth Glory and Australian international goalkeeper Jason Petkovic attended their first Board meeting following their election in December. Mackay had no hesitation accepting his appointment after many years in the game. “The bottom line is that I love the game,” Mackay said. “I’ve been involved for a long time but I don’t think my job is done. I know I’ve got a lot more to offer the game at what is a very exciting period for football in WA. “I’m passionate about football – it’s in my blood – and I want to help the game to continue to grow as the city and State grows, too.”



Mandurah City has been fined $5000 by Football West for comments made by the club’s President on social media in December. The club and its President, Peter Rowe, were found to have breached the Code of Conduct by bringing the game into disrepute. Based on Rowe’s apparent contrition, Football West has chosen to suspend $4000 of the fine for 12 months.

In considering an appropriate penalty, Football West noted that any form of discriminatory comment is entirely unacceptable, the effect of those comments can be magnified and can be seen to be the view of the entire club regardless of whether that is the case. Football West also noted that Mr Rowe had apologised for his comments, which he said were made at a “moment of extreme anxiety” during or immediately after the recent siege in Sydney. Should any member of the Mandurah City committee be found to have brought the game into disrepute by exhibiting discriminatory behaviour, including public disparagement of, discrimination against, or vilification of a person on account of an Attribute within that period, the remaining $4,000 will become immediately due and the suspension revoked.



Defender Trent Sainsbury has issued a very stern warning to the Socceroos’ Asian Cup rivals. Australia blew away China 2-0 in last night’s round of eight and Sainsbury believes his teams’ superior fitness will hold them in good stead for the semi-finals, and beyond. “I don’t think anyone in the tournament can stay with us, stamina wise,” the Dutch-based defender said. “We’re going to choke teams till they give in. It happened tonight. The first 20 minutes they (China) pushed up but they just couldn’t stay with us.”

The Socceroos killed off China with two brilliant goals later in the clash during which Tim Cahill netted twice in a devastating 16-minute spell. Sainsbury added the half-time message was one of patience. “Ange said treat it like a boxing match – you can’t win the game in the first five minutes,” he said. “We had to keep going round for round and pick our moments. And then wear them down …The boys have 100% faith that we can win this thing but we’ll focus on the next game whoever that is.”

Sainsbury had a chance in the first half from a set-piece to open the scoring but his powerful header went over the bar. “I think I got about 50 messages already saying, ‘ya plonker’. So I’ll have to reply to a few messages,” he commented. Sainsbury’s new central defensive partner against China was Alex Wilkinson, in for suspended Matt Spiranovic, and the K-League star impressed in his first game of the tournament. “Everyone has a job to do. Everyone can fill a position. So if you come in off the bench you do it 100%,” said Sainsbury.

The Socceroos head to Newcastle now for a semi-final date with either Japan or the United Arab Emirates. Sainsbury could not help but be impressed by Cahill’s extraordinary exploits. “He's just like wine, he just keeps getting better with age,” said the 23-year old defender, before offering a cautionary note. “(But) it’s not Timmy Australia; it’s Team Australia. We’ve got (Tomi) Juric on the bench and he’s a big boy who can hold up the ball and score goals for us. So we’re not worried if we lose one player (like Cahill).”



A second half brace by veteran Tim Cahill has put Australia through to the Asian Cup semi-finals with a 2-0 win over China in Brisbane. Cahill opened his account with an audacious bicycle kick just minutes into the second half before sealing victory with a trademark header soon after the hour. “That man again, Tim Cahill, comes up with the goods,” said captain Mile Jedinak. “We knew if we kept (our shape), especially in the first 10, 15 minutes in the second half, that we’d get our opportunities and that’s the way it panned out. Overall, a fantastic team effort … I am very proud of my team at the minute.”

The 46,067-strong crowd endured a nervous opening half hour as the pace of Sun Ke and Wu Lei caused problems for the Australian defence. But despite being called into action on several occasions, Socceroos custodian Mat Ryan remained unbeaten before his team, who enjoyed 77% of possession, clicked into gear. A rasping left-foot drive from Matthew Leckie forced a save from Chinese goalkeeper Wang Dalei, while Trent Sainsbury spurned a golden close-range opportunity by heading over from a corner.

The deadlock was snapped four minutes after the interval, Leckie heading a partially cleared corner back into the box where Cahill hit an acrobatic overhead kick past Dalei, who was caught flat-footed by the veteran’s finish. Cahill made the game safe in the 65th minute, powerfully heading in a cross from left-back Jason Davidson to make it two-nil. Australia will meet either Japan or the United Arab Emirates in Sunday’s semi-final in Newcastle.



Perth Glory will resume its march towards a maiden A-League premiership when it takes on Melbourne Victory in ‘The Peoples Game’ at Perth Oval on Sunday evening. After the mid-season break, Kenny Lowe and his team will be in prime condition for the Australia Day eve clash which promises thrills on and off the pitch. Fans can look forward to an Australia Day theme with sausage sizzles, a concert and a kick around after the match on the hallow Perth Oval turf, as well as the giant clash between the table topping Glory and third-placed Melbourne.

New recruit Dragan Paljic, most recently of Dutch club Heracles Almelo, is in line to make his first appearance as star striker Andy Keogh looks to add to the eight goals he’s bagged so far this summer. “Every game is a big game for us, it’s no different to any other,” said Lowe, whose team have beaten Melbourne twice this season already. “Hopefully we can continue our solid run at home, as we start the second half of the season.” Glory will be playing in a specially designed Australia Day kit, which features the traditional black and gold of Western Australia.



Perth Glory defender Scott Jamieson is confident the side can continue the form that has sent it to the top of the A-League when the competition resumes this weekend. Jamieson and his team mates play their first game in three weeks against third-placed Melbourne Victory at Perth Oval on Sunday following a three-week break due to the Asian Cup. "We recharged the batteries for a few days, the training has ramped up over the last six, seven days and we're in a good phase," Jamieson said. "We're top of the league, four points clear, so if you're mentally struggling after that there's something wrong with you."

Glory have already chalked up two wins over Melbourne, 4-2 in the FFA Cup quarter-finals and 2-1 in their first A-League meeting of the season earlier this month. "We're very confident," Jamieson said. "We've played them twice and beat them twice. If you beat a team twice I'd like to think you've got a little bit of an edge over them. They are obviously disappointed we beat them last time, but it's always hard to come over here and have the mental edge after we beat them last time. If we can beat them again and go seven points clear it will be another mental edge over them."



Perth Glory hitman, Andy Keogh, says the lack of infrastructure is the only thing stopping the A-League from “really taking off”. A haul of thirteen goals and eight assists in both the FFA Cup and A-League has reignited the Irish International’s club career and helped sweep his West Australian club outfit to the top of the league. Keogh, who played in the English topflight with Wolverhampton Wanderers, says he’s been impressed with the quality of the domestic comp.

“I think the fresh challenge is what I needed,” Keogh told “I’m feeling good and playing well, I still feel there is more to come and I can only get better as the more games I play. (The A-League) is very competitive, the players are very fit and it’s a very good standard of football. I think it’s only going to get better and, with a bit more investment in the infrastructure, it could really take off. In the future it could be a really attractive proposition for (overseas) players.”

Keogh said he looked Down Under for his next football gig after opportunities in England started to dry up. “The contract situations in England are deteriorating at the minute and I wanted to do something different and go against the grain,” he said. “It was a good opportunity as well to come over here and explore my options. I obviously did my research before I decided to sign here I was impressed with what I saw. Obviously having family in Perth, as well the weather and lifestyle and, it all just came together and in the end it was an easy decision to be honest.”

Before losing to Adelaide United going into the Asian Cup break, Perth were unbeaten at home with six straight wins. At the same stage last season Glory had won just one away game and lost four. In contrast, this season they have won four on the road and lost one. “We’ve approached it with a good mentality (this season),” Keogh said. “We’ve approached it with good fitness levels training and good preparation before games. It’s all to do with people’s mindsets. Now we’ve got a group of players that believe in all that we want to do and that goes a long way to helping.”

Keogh has represented Ireland in senior international football 30 times and while he still harbour’s hope of one day playing for his country again, the 28-year old says he’s concentrating on picking up silverware with Glory. “Of course (I want to play for Ireland again) but I think that’s a long shot,” he admitted. “I’m not concentrating on that too much. I’m concentrating on my goals over here and establishing myself as a good player in the A League. My goal is to win things, and do well and I think with hard work and dedication the goals will come.”

For the football journeyman, who has lined-up for ten different clubs since 2003, playing a season for Wolves is the high-water mark. “Making my debut for my country and scoring the goal that helped us (Wolves) get promoted (to the EPL) are my greatest achievement as a player,” he said. “I don’t have any disappointments - I just have situations that have happened in my career that have been learning curves really. I picked up an ankle injury when I was at Wolves - you learn a bit more about your body then. You’re not just learning as a footballer your learning as a human being and a man.”



South Korea stole top billing of their Asian Cup group by triumphing 1-0 over Australia this evening at Suncorp Stadium. Korean Lee Jeong-hyeop scored the winner in the first half as Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou rested attacking trio Tim Cahill, Robbie Kruse and Mathew Leckie from his starting line-up. Australia also had a third captain in as many games in Mark Milligan, with Postecoglou giving regular skipper Mile Jedinak more time to recover from an ankle injury. The Socceroos will remain in Brisbane for their quarter-final showdown with China next Thursday.

The Socceroos crafted plenty of genuine chances - six shots on goal to their opponents’ three - on a steamy night in front of a sell-out 48,513 crowd. But it was the South Korean’s that found the net in the 32nd minute, Lee Keun Ho arrowing a low centre into the 6-yard box where a sliding Lee Jeong-hyeop deflected the ball under goalkeeper Matt Ryan. Four minutes later the Socceroos went agonisingly close to equalising, James Troisi's shot on the turn hitting the side netting. It was among many opportunities the Socceroos had to draw level without success.

Eight minutes after the turnaround Tomi Juric failed to control the ball with the inside of his boot and sprayed the chance wide. Nathan Burns also threatened in the 70th minute when he tore through the visitor's defence only for his vicious right-footer to be saved by Kim Jin-hyeon. Kruse had a gilt-edged chance to square the scores in the 88th minute when Jin-hyeon produced another fine save in a one-on-one situation. Australia's night was further tarnished when central defender Matthew Spiranovic collected a yellow card, his second of the tournament, meaning he will miss the quarter-final.



Ross County manager Jim McIntyre feels the promise of first team football can help loan signing Cameron Burgess thrive at Victoria Park. Burgess joined County on loan until the end of the season late last week, shortly after agreeing a new two-year contract with English Championship side Fulham. The 19-year old defender grew up in Perth’s northern suburbs, playing juniors for ECU Joondalup, and last year pledged his international future to Australia, who he’s represented at Under-20 and 23 levels.

Burgess played the first four games of the Championship season for Fulham but has not featured since and McIntyre feels all parties will benefit from the move. “He is 6ft 4in, a left-sided centre back, and he’s a youngster we think has a good chance. He comes highly recommended,” said McIntyre. “He’s a big lad desperate for more first team experience. We’ll give him the chance and the rest is up to him. We feel, and Fulham feel, it is a great platform for him coming here.”



Melbourne City has added Perth Glory defender Jack Clisby to its ranks for the second half of the A-League campaign. Capable of playing either at left-back or in the centre of defence, Clisby will remain with Melbourne through to the end of the 2015/16 season. The 22-year old shot to prominence in 2012 with Inglewood United, winning that year’s Gold Medal and a few months later signed his first professional deal with Glory.

Clisby enjoyed a breakthrough 2013/14 campaign with Glory but has found first team opportunities hard to come by this season. “I’d like to thank the fans and supporters for their continued loyalty,” commented the defender, who chalked up 29 A-League appearances for his hometown club. “It’s been a difficult decision to leave a club at the top of the table but I feel this is the best for my career going forward.”

Melbourne coach John van’t Schip said Clisby would add depth to his squad for the second half of the A-League season. “Jack has been on our radar for some time and we are happy to welcome him to Melbourne and expect him to be an important contributor to the team,” van’t Schip said. “Jack comes to us at a time where we require depth as we embark on a busy fixture schedule in February and for the remainder of the season.”

Melbourne play five games in February; four in Melbourne against Western Sydney Wanderers, Melbourne Victory, Glory and Adelaide United as well as a trip to New Zealand to face Wellington Phoenix. Clisby is the club's second arrival during the mid-season transfer window after Socceroos striker Josh Kennedy.



Perth Glory is excited to announce defender Scott Jamieson has signed for a further two years with the A-League leaders. Sydney-born Jamieson has played every game so far this season after returning from an Achilles injury which ruled him out for most of last year. “I’ve settled in well here in the past couple of years and I've always said Perth is a beautiful place so I'm very happy to be staying," Jamieson said.

Jamieson made national headlines this season by netting a sensational free-kick against Western Sydney Wanderers in front of more than 12,000 screaming home fans. “I definitely want to see those fans buzzing again, so I’ll be doing my best to knock them in when I can,“ the defender said. "The team has made a great start to the season and my goal now is help the team to finish strongly at the top of the league, qualify for the Asian Champions League, but above all win the Premier's plate."



Fulham striker Adam Taggart will have to wait a little longer to make his English league debut. Taggart was supposed to have made his first team debut this month after suffering six months of groin problems that required surgery. But, despite after a run with the Reserves last month, the 21-year old has met with more bad fortune. "Strength-wise Adam's left side has shown to be not as strong as his right. So it was worth taking him out of training to strengthen that up," manager Kit Symons explained. "Because he's missed so much football, when he's fully fit we'll look for a loan opportunity to get him back playing games."



Socceroos defender Chris Herd has been ruled out of the Asian Cup after losing another battle with injury. Herd suffered an injury to his Achilles tendon at training in the lead-up to Australia's clash with Oman on Tuesday. National team medical staff treated the 25-year old but decided there was no prospect of Herd returning later in the tournament. "It's disappointing for the team and especially for Chris that he is unable to continue," Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou said. "It has been determined it is in Chris' best interests that he returns to Aston Villa for rehabilitation to ensure he can get back on the pitch." Tournament rules mean Herd cannot be replaced, reducing Australia's squad to 22 players.



Scottish club Ross County have signed Fulham defender Cameron Burgess on loan until the end of the season. Aberdeen-born Burgess made four appearances for the Cottagers at the start of this season and had been loaned out for the second half of the campaign to gain more first team experience. The 19-year old defender grew up in Perth’s northern suburbs, playing juniors for ECU Joondalup, and last year pledged his international future to Australia, who he’s represented at Under-20 and 23 levels.



Australia waltzed into the Asian Cup quarter-finals with a dazzling 4-0 rout of Oman tonight in Sydney. Goals rained as veteran Matt McKay, livewire Robbie Kruse and evergreen Mark Milligan scored in a 20-minute blitz before substitute Tomi Juric later added another. The results cemented Australia's place in the tournament's knock-out stage, the Socceroos holding a six-goal buffer on also qualified South Korea, who they meet in Brisbane on Saturday night. The Socceroos will head the group if they win or even draw that match.

The Socceroos dismantled Oman with style and substance before a raucous 50,276-strong crowd. The rout began with a rare goal from McKay, whose point-blank finish came after Trent Sainsbury nodded down a 27th minute Massimo Luongo corner. Three minutes later Luongo lobbed through to Kruse, who nudged the ball with his thigh before drilling low under goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi. Milligan completed the first half tally by converting from the penalty spot after Tim Cahill was hauled to the ground by a defender.

The second half provided more of the same, despite Australia replacing two of its stand-out performers in Cahill and Luongo in the opening minutes. Their fourth goal arrived in the 70th minute with the ever-influential Leckie delivered a precision cross to the awaiting Juric, who made no mistake. Only the sharp reflexes of Al Habsi denied both Milligan and Juric from adding further gloss to the score late on but it mattered little on a memorable night for the Socceroos.



New signing Dragan Paljic will use the rest of the Asian Cup break to ensure he can slot into the Perth Glory squad in time for their next game, against Melbourne Victory on 25 January. The 31-year old German left winger arrived in Perth at the weekend fresh from a two-year stint with Dutch club Heracles Almelo. Paljic, who joins Glory as an injury replacement for Youssouf Hersi, was given a brief introduction to local conditions with a brutal training session in 30C heat this morning.

Paljic said it was former teammate Jason Davidson and ex-Glory striker Branko Jelic who convinced him to make the move to Perth. " I have heard many good things about Australian football, from my friend Jason Davidson and his father Alan who’ve only spoken positively about the league and the growth of the sport here," he said. "I talked also with former player Branko Jelic and he told me a lot of good things about the team; that they have winning mentality and a good coach who wants to play football. I think it's a good step."

Paljic hasn't played a game in three months, but said he'll be ready to go by the Victory fixture. He said would play out his term as an injury replacement player before sitting down with the club and deciding whether to pursue a longer stay. "I come as a replacement so the risk is low for the club and for me," he said. "The first impression is very good, from the city and also from the teammates and coaching staff. But as I said, we'll see. Performance on the pitch is most important."

Prior to his stint in the Netherlands, Paljic played for German clubs TSV 1860 München II, Olympia Laupheim, Hoffenheim and Kaiserslautern as well as Polish side Wisla Krakow, winning the league with the latter in 2010/11. "Dragan is a professional, played at a top level and by all accounts is a top act," coach Kenny Lowe said. "He can play on the wing or in the midfield so he's a quality player and versatile which is what we’re looking for going forward." Paljic will wear the number shirt for the second half of the A-league season.



Trent Sainsbury is adamant the Socceroos still have plenty to do to prove the doubters wrong. Friday night’s 4-1 drubbing of Kuwait may have given Australia a dream start to their Asian Cup campaign but it was just the third victory in thirteen games under coach Ange Postecoglou. It’s why there’s no chance the side will be taking their foot off the gas tomorrow night against what is likely to be a desperate Oman line-up. “We’re going to be desperate also,” Sainsbury declared. “We’re at home, we have a point to prove and we want to get that three points.”

It’s not just the team that has something to prove but Sainsbury himself, after he got the nod to start in central defence to partner Matthew Spiranovic, ahead of close mate Alex Wilkinson. “It gives me a great deal of confidence from Ange to put me in the team,” Sainsbury said. “Hopefully I did enough to keep that spot and make it my own. There’s plenty of players that are pushing me for my spot and competition for spots is great. The more games (Spiranovic and I) play together the better understanding you get. If we keep working and continue to play well during the tournament hopefully we can both nail down the spots.”

Australia has spent the past few days looking at where they can improve before facing off with Oman. “We’ve had little discussions about it but we haven’t done it as a whole team,” said Sainsbury, who recognised the way the Socceroos allowed Kuwait to take the lead from a set piece will be the topic of much discussion within the squad. “The team conceded the goal, not just the defence. But we’re going to have a look at it and see what we can come up with. We got off to a great start against Kuwait but this games just as equally important if not more so. If we get that three points we’re through so it’s a massive game for us and Australia.”



AZ Alkmaar may allow Eli Babalj to leave during the January transfer window after the 22-year old striker failed to break into the first team. Babalj, 22, signed for Alkmaar in April 2013 but is yet to make his first team debut. His first season was plagued by injuries and this season he’s been unsuccessful in forcing his way into the side. "We signed Eli because we saw certain qualities in him, but they have not yet materialised,” Alkmaar technical director Ernie Stewart said. Babalj, a former Perth SC junior, shot to prominence with Melbourne Heart and represented Australia twice at senior international level in 2012.



West Ham United’s Taylor Tombides says he is happy to harbour high expectations after making an immediate impression at Canvey Island. 18-year old Tombides announced his arrival in England’s Isthmian Premier League with a hat-trick on his debut in last weekend’s 4-3 loss to Bury Town. And Tombides says he can’t wait to pull on the yellow jersey again when Maidstone United come to town today.

“Getting three goals was a dream and all I could have asked for was for the team to win,” said Tombides. “It doesn’t get much better than that, but I couldn’t have scored any of those goals without the team. I knew I was playing up front before the game and it was a different experience for me in a new system. I normally play in a 4-3-3, but to play up front with a target man was something I enjoyed. Doing well on your debut means people expect more from you, but I am happy to have that pressure.”

Tombides is not short of confidence and admits he is more than happy to get stuck in as Canvey look to pull themselves away from the relegation places. “I am a clinical finisher and can score different types of goals,” he said. “But I also like to get back and help the defence if I play slightly deeper. I’m not afraid to get dirty and tackle. Canvey are a good team and my early impressions have been really positive … Canvey want to play football the right way and I know I am going to enjoy my time here.”

If you have any additional information on Western Australian soccer that we have left out, or if you would like to get in contact, email Jacob at

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