Bayswater City are crowned 2014 NPL-WA Champions. (Photograph by Peter Simcox)

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14.9.2014

GILL GETS GLORY WOMEN OFF TO A WINNING START

Perth Glory Women got their new W-League campaign off to a flying start with a 2-1 victory over Brisbane Roar this afternoon at Ashfield Reserve. Australia international Kate Gill scored early in each half to set-up the win before Emily Gielnik pulled a goal back in the final minute for Brisbane. “You could see the energy in the first ten or fifteen minutes - they were working so hard and some of the football was superb,” said coach Jamie Harnwell. “You just see that quality we’ve got now in that front third, we’re always likely to score goals.”

It took the home team just 12 minutes to open their account with Gill sliding the ball into the bottom corner after goalkeeper Kate Stewart fumbled a shot from livewire Samantha Kerr. Brisbane didn’t come into the game until midway through the half when Gielnik and Hayley Raso called Mackenzie Arnold in the action. Gill doubled Glory’s advantage after 53 minutes by converting a penalty awarded after Kerr was brought down by Raso. Brisbane had looked unlikely to score until the 94th minute when Gielnik found space to flicked the ball past Arnold.

13.9.2014

HEAGNEY STRIKES AS BAYSWATER TAKES OUT THE NPL-WA TITLE (by Peter Simcox, nplwa.com.au)

A second half strike from Bayswater City’s David Heagney has given them a 1-0 win against Perth SC, in the inaugural National Premier League WA Grand Final, in front of 2,000 supporters at Dorrien Gardens. The former Huddersfield Town and St Johnstone striker’s long-range effort clinched Bayswater the NPL-WA championship and fourth trophy of the season to go with the Night Series, Cool Ridge Cup and league, in a historic day in WA football. Heagney was voted the player of the match and was awarded the ‘Gary Marocchi medal’, and he was just happy to do his job in a good team effort. “It’s an amazing feeling today, we played well and I thought we deserved the win,” he said. “We’ve been the best team all season and today we showed that, we all stood up when it was required it was a great team effort.”

The win was built on a good defensive display from Chris Coyne’s side. Perth had beaten them 5-0 in the semi-final two weeks ago, and defensive midfielder Declan Hargreaves was delighted with the win. “We had a game plan and the lads stuck to it, and we deserved to win in the end,” he said. “We needed a bit of confidence in the new system, and the goal came at a great time for us and we then knew if we kept our shape we would be hard to breakdown and that was the case.” “We knew it would be a tight game especially in the middle of the park, as some of their players have played at high level. I real enjoyed the battle, and we never gave them time on the ball and I thought we came out on top.”

It was a great day for football with a big crowd still entering the ground as the game got under way, and Perth dominated the early exchanges. Mark Doninger and Ashley Rosindale both testing Devon Spence, but the Bayswater custodian was up to the challenge. But on 12 minutes Perth should have taken the lead. Tim Robertson was sent down the right, and he outpaced Adam Bachiller and cut the ball back form the bye-line to the unmarked Aden da Luz, who blazed over from six meters.

Then on 18 minutes Spence almost handed the lead to Perth. Mark Pritchard’s corner was spilled by the keeper, the ball heading towards goal, but Spence reacted well to save the ball on the line. Perth was celebrating the goal, but assistant Mathew Cheeseman was well placed to rule the ball hadn’t crossed the line. Bayswater awoke from their slumber and Chris Saldaris’ header was straight at Francis Soale, and on the half hour Gustavo Giron-Marulanda cheeky back heel sent Heagney in on goal, but Soale was out bravely to block his shot. It was Bayswater who ended the half the stronger; Paul McCarthy’s long-range strike was deflected wide, before Soale had to be alert on the stroke half time to save Marulanda’s low shot from the edge of the penalty area.

After the break Bayswater had a strong penalty claim turned down by referee Adam Fielding after only five minutes, after Marulanda was brought down in the box by Clark Keltie, but four minutes later they hit the front. Heagney picked the ball up in the middle of the park and was given far too much room and the striker made Perth pay, rifling home from 25-yards to send their faithful into raptures. Perth were still in the game and on the hour midfielder Andreas Theodosiades sent a perfect ball over the top to Rosindale, whose shot beat Spence, but Kay got back to clear the ball off the line.

Bayswater sat back and let Perth come at them, but with Kay and the rest of the Perth backline outstanding, they struggled to create any clear cut chances, and Bayswater were hitting on the counter attack, with Brian Farrell and Heagney going close. Still Perth pressed and on 84 minutes they went close to the equaliser. Prichard’s corner was headed goalwards by second half substitute Harley Orr, but Declan Hargreaves was alert to clear the ball off the line. That was the final chance of the game and after three minutes of stoppage time the final whistle was greeted with delight from the Bayswater coaches, players and supporters alike, as they wrote themselves into the history book, becoming the first WA side to win four major trophies in a season.

Bayswater assistant coach Stewart Moses knew they had to play different to the way they played in the semi-final and said the team delivered their game plan to perfection on the day. “We had a game plan today and the lads stuck to it, they showed great character, especially after the 5-0 defeat last time we played Perth,” he said. “In saying that that defeat did us a favour, it brought us back to reality, and we worked on things on the training track. “They got in behind us last time, but we worked hard to deny them space and to the lads credit they did it superbly today.”

Perth had begun the game positively and had a number of good early chances that they failed to convert, and Coach Taki Nicolaidis said they were made to pay for their profligacy. “At the end of the day the lads gave me everything, but we couldn’t find the target, especially in the first half when we created a number of good chances but didn’t take them,” he said. “We knew it would be a tough game today and a superb strike from Heagney won it. But it’s all about if’s and but’s, we’ve come a long way from last season and things are looking up for our club and we have to take positives from the season.”

Perth SC: GK Francis SOALE, 2 Josh WILKINS, 4 Craig SIMPSON, 6 Clark KELTIE, 8 Aden DA LUZ, 10 Ashley ROSINDALE, 12 Tim ROBERTSON (13 Alex CASTIELLO 67’), 14 Mark PRITCHARD, 15 Mark DONINGER, 19 Andreas THEODOSIADES (22 Harley ORR 78’), 20 James MAROCCHI (9 Friday ZICO 89’) - Subs not used: RGK Alex DUNN, 5 Laurence GAUGHAN
Yellow Cards: Nil

Bayswater City: GK Devon SPENCE, 2 Declan HARGREAVES, 3 Adam BACHILLER, 6 Todd HOWARTH, 8 Paul MCCARTHY, 9 Gustavo GIRON MARALUNDA (16 Jamie COYNE 69’), 13 Trent KAY, 15 Brian FARRELL (10 Damien CATALANO 90’), 20 Sam MITCHINSON, 21 David HEAGNEY (18 James ISAIA 78’), 23 Chris SALDARIS - Subs not used: RGK Joel DRISCOLL, 5 Andy REALE
Yellow Cards: Nil

Attendance: 2,000
Referee: Adam Fielding
Assistants: Mathew Cheeseman and Josh Mannella
Fourth Official: David Bruce

13.9.2014

PERTH EDGE LIONS IN UNDER 20'S GRAND FINAL (with Rachel Collier, nplwa.com.au)

A Thomas Southgate goal earned Perth SC a 1-0 win over Stirling Lions in the Under 20's NPL-WA championship decider at Dorrien Gardens. The goal came in the 45th minute and ensured victory for the ladder leaders, who finished 14 points ahead of their opponents. Conceding only 17 goals in 22 games, Perth’s defence again stood strong to ensure the title.

Coach Gavin Tate was thrilled with his team’s achievement. “I’m absolutely delighted,” he said. “We started back in December and there is a lot of hard work that goes into a season from all of the background staff, coaches and players. We’ve got a great bunch of lads who have really enjoyed this season and this is a fantastic way to cap it off. “A big congratulations must go to Stirling who have had a magic season. It’s great for us and them that we both got into the final, as we’ve been first and second throughout. We’ve pushed each other all the way, playing some fantastic head to head games and today was no exception.”

Perth won 19 of the 22 games played, losing on only three occasions and scoring a total of 65 goals. Tate believed justice was done in the final. “I’m from the old school and I believe that if you win the league you deserve to be champions,” he said. “We had to remain focused and concentrate on winning the finals and thankfully we did that. The players have been fantastic. “We created lots of chances today and we sort of felt that it might not be our day especially when the penalty was saved. “However, we spoke at half-time about remaining composed and keeping our lead in the second half. I told them to make sure we were focused on that second 45 and to maintain our physical and mental strength. It’s a long and difficult season and the boy’s hard work finally paid off today.”

Goal scorer Thomas Southgate made an outstanding contribution to the game and he got special praise from his coach. “It’s quite fitting that Thomas Southgate scored as he’s turning 20 this year,” he said. “I brought him to the club when he was 12 years old and it’s a lovely way for him to finish his season as he pushes for a first team place. Nathan De Abreu in the middle was superb, his ball winning and desire was exceptional.”

The early exchanges were littered with nervousness, with both sides struggling to stamp their authority on the game. The final heated up in the 13 minute when Perth’s first meaningful attack led to a penalty. Referee Gabriele Merlacco showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot when Nick Ambrogio was cut down in the box. Ambrogio picked himself up to take the resulting penalty but Stirling keeper Connor Campbell made an excellent diving save down to his left to keep the scores level. The penalty miss brought the game to life with Perth in the ascendency. Jordan Candlish beat two Stirling defenders with a mazy run in to the box. His side footed effort went just wide of the post. Perth looked dangerous on the attack and threatened again in the 26th minute. A clever back heel from Ambrogio found Candlish, who neatly played in Jordan DeLeo. His strike from the edge of the box went well over the bar.

Good build play once again by Southgate, Daniel Tait and Candlish led to a chance for Matt Milenkovic who could have put his side ahead. His effort from inside the area was well saved by Connor Campbell in the Stirling goal. Perth had the better of the play but were unable to break down the Stirling defence. The game was a stop start affair with both teams giving away needless free kicks. Stirling’s best chance of the half came in the 32nd minute. David Filippou’s free kick from the left wing fell to Simon Filocamo in the box, who instinctively poked an effort on goal. Perth keeper Domenic Savoldelli calmly collected after having very little goal threat to contend with. A late challenge by Stirling’s Dylan Filocamo, resulted in a booking and a Perth free kick. Southgate whipped in a dangerous looking ball from 40m, which the Stirling keeper palmed behind. Milenkovic took the subsequent corner, which goal keeper Campbell could only punch away to the edge of the box. An unmarked Southgate had time to weigh up a powerful low drive, which shot through a crowd of players and into the back of the net in the 45th minute.

With Stirling knowing that they had 45 minutes to reclaim the tie, they started the second half on the front foot. They were awarded a free kick in the 51st minute which Alen Patarov took. His effort cleared the wall but also cleared the crossbar. David Da Silva Dias looked threatening down Stirling’s right side as the lions continued to press for an equaliser. Opportunities were limited thanks to a strong Perth defence who were intent on keeping their 1-0 lead. Perth continued to look the mostly likely to score, with Southgate continuing to impress. His driving midfield run, out paced two Stirling players and his inch perfect through ball led to a one on one chance for Ambrogio, whose side footed effort was well saved in the 66th minute.

As the game entered its final stages, Stirling struggled to hold up the ball against a powerful and well organised Perth side. Chances were few and far between with Perth looking the most likely to extend their lead. Perth came close to a second goal in the 89th minute. Southgate’s cross field pass was kept in by substitute Conor Mackay who drove to the by-line and stood up a perfect far post cross for unmarked, fellow sub, Joel Bayobahe. His looping header beat the keeper but rebounded of the crossbar.

Stirling Lions coach Rob Milevski was proud of his team’s effort. “The boys have worked hard all season and it’s obviously disappointing to get to the final and lose but on the other side of the coin it’s great to have the top two sides battling out and Perth deserved it,” he said. “We knew it was going to be a tough game and we knew there wouldn’t be many goals in it. We played them two weeks ago and I thought we created a lot more chances that day, but we just couldn’t break them down today. They were very good defensively, yet again.” Over all the Stirling coach is pleased with how the season has gone. “We rebuilt the team from last year with about 70% of the squad being new faces,” he said. “The boys have gelled together really well from the start and to finish second in the league and make the top four final is a great achievement.”

Perth SC: 1 .D. SAVOLDELLI (GK) 2. M. SANTALUCIA 4. O. LALOVIC (c) 6. A. PIZZATA 7. M. MILENKOVIC 8. D. TAIT (3. C. BECSI 89’) 10. J. CANDLISH (14. J.BAYOBAHE 70’) 13. J. DELEO (11. C. MACKAY 84’) 15. N. AMBROGIO 21. N. DE ABREU 22. T. SOUTHGATE Substitutes not used: 16. A. CARLINO 24. S. WALLIS (GK)
Yellow Cards: 21. DE ABERU 23’ 8. TAIT 39’

Stirling Lions: 24. C. CAMPBELL (GK) 3. D. FILOCAMO 4. M. GAMA (9. J. KESSELL 78’) 5. D. FILIPPOU 7. L. KESSELL 8. A. PATAROV 10. S. FILOCAMO 11. R. PETKOV (c) 12. R. MARIANO 13. J. MATHIANG 14. D. DA SILVA DIAS (6. B. MTWALE 86’) Substitutions not used: 20. A. VACCA (GK) 16. M. PRESCOTT 2. M. SULAIMON
Yellow Cards: 3. FILOCAMO 44’ 14. DA SILVA DIAS 59’ 4. GAMA 77’

Referee: Gabriele Merlacco



Perth win the Under 20's NPL-WA championship. (Photograph courtesy Perth SC)

13.9.2014

PERTH WIN UNDER 18'S NPL TITLE WITH GREAT COMEBACK (with Colin Outhwaite, nplwa.com.au)

Perth SC scored in stoppage time to become NPL-WA Under 18's champions, beating minor premiers ECU Joondalup 3-2 at Dorrien Gardens. Perth have now won twenty-one Under 18's Premier League championships since the competition started in 1975, a remarkable statistic.

Bayley Montgomery-Brown and Ronald Rixer put the visitors two ahead but Brody Walker and Alex Silla equalised before Adam Carlino won the game in the dying moments. Perth Coach Richie Abrams said his side had shown character to come back and win. "ECU were determined," he said. "So to be 2-0 down and come back in the second half the way we did was fantastic. "It was disappointing that we were punished for two mistakes. But they sat back a lot deeper in the second half and they invited us on and you can't do that against us because we want to attack."

ECU started strongly with Jake Davies muscling his way into the box but keeper Scott Wallis reacted quickly at the near post. Under 15's player Montgomery-Brown made use of the early pressure when Davis thread a tight pass into the box in the 16th minute for him to fire confidently into the far corner. Perth settled and pushed for an equaliser towards the end of the first half and were almost rewarded but Ash Maynard-Brewer parried Cameron Pique's powerful first-time shot. ECU pressured early after the break and Conor Tucker worked beyond the defence and passed across to Callum Boshell, who pulled the ball from underneath him and tapped home.

But Perth picked up where they left off in the first half and responded with intent, Maynard-Brewer again proving his worth to keep them at bay - first with a low diving save to block Liam Healey's strike, then bravely pouncing to dispossess Airmoson Garley. But captain Walker provided the break-through with a cracking strike from range in the 66th minute. This gave Perth an extra edge and Alex Silla equalised six minutes from time as he met Healey's free-kick. Then Perth man of the match Carlino dispossessed captain Coire McGuigan and struck home to top off a perfect comeback for the league runners up.

ECU coach Danny Stevens said it was devastating to lose after being up 2-0. "We played some great football early on but we put so much energy into it that it was hard to maintain," he said. "To be honest, we'd have happily settled for penalties in the end but I felt we deserved to win for the majority of the game. "The boys have been relentless all year, so we'll learn from this and we'll be back next year just like I said last year."

PERTH SC: 1. Scott WALLIS, 2. Alex SILLA, 3. Joseph MARINO, 5. Brody WALKER (c), 7. Eric BIRIGHITTI, 8. Zach BROWNE (11. Luke GARAS 53'), 9. Adam CARLINO, 10. Cameron PIQUE (13. Michael ZIMARINO 53'), 12. Anthony TOPINI, 15. Liam HEALY, 17. Airmoson GARLEY (14. Joshua CORTES 85') Substitutes not used: 4. Daniel HENRY, 24. Alessandro BIRIGHITTI
Yellow cards: 5. Brody WALKER 67'

ECU JOONDALUP: 1. Ash MAYNARD-BREWER, 2. Richard BUTLER, 3. Bayley MONTGOMERY-BROWN, 4. Coire McGUIGAN (c), 5. Ronald RIXER, 8. Ollie ANNIS, 9. Jake DAVIES (11. Harry GENT 86'), 10. Conor TUCKER, 12. James BRUCE, 14. Callum BOSHELL, 15. Lucas Da LIMA (16. Lee HALLIDAY 46') Substitutes not used: 6. Ayden DRAGUN, 13. Bayley YEOMANS
Yellow cards: Nil

Referee: Tom Dowle



Perth celebrate winning the Under 18's NPL-WA title. (Photograph courtesy Perth SC)

13.9.2014

ROCKINGHAM CLAIM SECOND SPOT (courtesy Rockingham City and Forrestfield United)

ockingham City welcomed Forrestfield United to Lark Hill for the last home fixture of 2014, the clash had plenty of meaning with both sides looking to take out second spot on the ladder. Unfortunately for the home side they started their final home game slowly and where under constant pressure from a hardworking and physical away side, it was no surprise when Forrestfield took the lead. A long ball forward caught the Rockingham rear guard napping and Ben Fraser cut inside, his scuffed shot deceived everyone and nestled in the bottom corner of the net.

The constant aerial bombardment was causing Rockingham plenty of problems, Forrestfield looked to extend the lead with a series of set pieces however Rockingham stood firm. Finally Rockingham settled into their stride and neat inter play between Rowland, Laure and Louvie seen a Laure shot expertly saved by Matt Zappacosta in the Forrestfield goal, next up was Taono whose blistering volley was expertly saved by Zappacosta again as Rockingham started to dominate. It was no surprise when the equaliser came, a series of neat passes in the middle of the park set Louvie charging towards goal, he easily side stepped two Forrestfield defenders before striking across the keeper for a superb individual goal.

In the second half it was the home side looking far more comfortable, dominating in possession and creating several good opportunities in a real tussle between two of the top sides. The match may have turned out differently had the referee sent of the last Rockingham defender for a foul with Mitchell Sapsworth clear through on goal. Rockingham where awarded a penalty after strong work from Frank and Laure resulted in Frank being felled inside the box, after a brief discussion Captain David Clark relinquished the penalty to team mate Taono who made no mistake and put Rockingham in the driving seat.

There was time for some late drama as a Forrestfield set piece brought out the best in veteran Sharrock, it was Sapsworth again bringing in a finger tip save onto the bar from a bullet header which kept Rockingham in the lead. Soon after Rockingham burst throw on goal and youngster Josh Mackinder had the ball in the net only for an offside flag to rule that one out and then just before the end Laure rounded the keeper however his shot was placed over the cross bar with an empty net at his mercy and was probably the miss of the year. The game ended with Rockingham winning the game by two goals to one.

13.9.2014

FULHAM'S WILLIAMS LOVING THE GRIND IN NOT-SO-PRETTY CHAMPIONSHIP

Attacking midfielder Ryan Williams believes Fulham will only get better as the English Championship season goes on. Fulham has endured a horror start to its first Championship season in over a decade, after relegation from the Premier League, managing four losses and one draw from its opening five league fixtures. The Cottagers secured their first win of the 2014/2015 campaign with victory over Brentford in the League Cup and take on Reading this Saturday.

Williams, who made his Fulham first team debut in midfield in the 1-0 loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers at the end of last month, said the young side is starting to gel. “We’re getting better as the weeks go on because everyone’s getting used to and more familiar with each other,” he said. “We’ve just signed a player, Matt Smith, who’s a big kind of target man, who can add some experience in the Championship. Hopefully he can get us a few goals and help us push up the table.”

William’s Fulham debut came two and half years after he arrived at the west London club from Portsmouth, after experiencing loan spells at Gillingham and Oxford United. “It’s been a long time coming I guess,” the 20-year old said. “But I’ve just been patient and went out on loan and it obviously did me a world of good. I managed to sign a new contract and now I’ve made my debut. I’ve just got to try and stay in the team now.

“I’ve started two out of a potential four games,” continued the winger, who racked up eight goals and five assists in 42 appearances for Oxford United last season. “I’m happy with that at the moment but as far as the team goes, we’re a really young team and half of them have only just made their professional debuts. I think with a few games under our belts and a few more experienced players that hopefully that we can get in will be a lot better for us moving forward.”

Williams, who was deployed in central midfield against Derby and on the right flank against Brentford, said he only felt a few nerves when he walked out at Craven Cottage against Wolverhampton. “Surprisingly I thought I would have been nervous walking out the tunnel but I wasn’t at all,” the Young Socceroo said. “But that’s good as it shows my experience now that I’ve played in a few big games against some big crowds. I was a little bit nervous but as soon as you touch the ball all the nerves go away and the business starts.”

Williams feels the recent League Cup defeat of Brentford can be a turning point and maybe the Cottagers had underestimated the toughness of the Championship. “The way we performed that day was good, we really grinded out a win and I think that’s what we need,” he said. “When our style of football isn’t working we’re going to need to grind the game out and defend as a team and not be so pretty sometimes. I think that’s how the league is.”

“Some games you’ll be able to play nice football and some games you have to sit behind the ball and smash it up the pitch,” he added. “That’s why its caught so many people out … You just don’t get time on the ball in this league compared with the Premier League. In the Premier League you have loads of time, you can turn players and play nice football. But down here it’s just a bit of everything – 100 miles an hour, tackles flying in everywhere. I love it, I like that kind of football, mixed in with a bit of nice football.”

12.9.2014

NPL-WA GRAND FINAL PREVIEW

The 2014 National Premier League-WA season comes to a conclusion on Saturday afternoon when Perth SC and Bayswater City meet in the Grand Final at Dorrien Gardens (2.30pm) The game is the highlight on the football calendar in WA, and it has a little extra spice, as the traditional Italian rivals go toe-to-toe.

Perth won hosting rights for the inaugural NPL Championship game after beating Bayswater 5-0 in the major Semi-Final, and Coach Taki Nicolaidis thought they played well that day, even without influential midfielder Clark Keltie. “The skipper missed the game, but on the day the boys stood up and were outstanding, every player played their part. We scored some very good goals at important times of the game,” said Nicolaidis, who took over the reins at the club last season, and missed out on a final berth.

“To be honest it has been a very hard and long road to pretty much rebuild our whole squad and club. We have blended a very good group of youth and experience and exited with the potential our playing list has. We have come a long way since the first game of the season and have kept improving every week. “The players are really focused and hungry to make sure we finish off the season with a trophy. Our win against Bayswater has definitely given us plenty of confidence and belief however our feet are firmly on the ground, as they are an experienced team filled with quality. I'm expecting a much closer game this week.”

In team news for the home side, Jason Barrera and Luka Njegich are struggling with injury, while Clark Keltie has overcome his injury and will come straight back into the starting side.

Bayswater Coach Chris Coyne started his senior football career at Perth, and has a great deal of admiration for the club, but that will be forgotten at kick off, as they look to gain some payback for the big defeat in the major Semi-Final. “I don’t think it was a 5-0 game although I respect the fact that we were beaten well and truly,” he said. “I wasn’t too concerned, the boys did have that tough schedule – four games in two weeks for a semi-professional side is a lot of football, but I won’t have to mention it but the boys will probably use it as motivation.”

The Preliminary Final win against Balcatta took a great deal out of the side, with Steve Burton limping off in extra time and Jamie Coyne struggling with injury but Coyne knows they will prepare well and will be ready for a tough encounter. “The pleasing thing for me is seeing a bunch of players run through 120 minutes and get stronger and stronger as the game goes. I know I don’t have to get them fit. I just have to make sure they are sharp and I know they will be mentally prepared for the game,” he said.

In team news for Bayswater, Steve Burton will miss the game after tearing his medial ligament against Balcatta, while skipper Trent Kay and James Isaia are back in contention after missing last week due to injury.

12.9.2014

RESERVES AND UNDER 18'S GRAND FINAL

There are two big games prior to the main match at Dorrien Gardens on Saturday. The action starts at 10am, when ECU Joondalup take on defending champions Perth SC in the Under 18's Grand Final. Joondalup narrowly defeated Perth two weeks ago in the major semi-final. The Reserves (Under 20's) sees Perth SC meet Stirling Lions at 12:15pm. Perth easily finished the season on top of the league by fourteen points, and will be heavy favourites to lift the trophy. The Lions will be looking for their first Reserves title since 2008. This will be the first time that the finals will decide the league championship in the lower grades.

12.9.2014

DIVISION ONE PREVIEW, ROUND TWENTY-ONE

There is only two rounds remaining in the First Division for 2014 season, and Saturday clash between Wanneroo City and Ashfield at Kingsway Reserve has ramifications at both the top and the bottom of the table. League leaders Ashfield, only need to keep winning to take out the title, while Wanneroo sit three points adrift at the bottom and will be desperate for the points. “This week’s game is another cup final playing Wanneroo who are fighting for survivals with relegation, so were are not taking the game lightly,” Ashfield Coach Paul Dundo said. “We are expecting a tough encounter and no one is going to give us the league title, you have to earn it. I am expecting Shamrock to also continue winning their remaining games, so it is in our hands now and the players need to step up and grab it.” Games are running out for The Roos, but keeper Connor Anderson knows they will be giving it all on Saturday. “It’s a huge game for the club, we need to get something from the game,” he said. “We're three points behind Dianella, but Ashfield are chasing the title, so they’re not going to do us any favours. It's going to be tough every game, but the boys need to dig deep and hopefully we can get the right result.”

Shamrock Rovers are hot on the heels of Ashfield, and entertain UWA-Nedlands at Grimrey Oval, looking for the win and will be hoping Ashfield slip up. “UWA will be tough game, they are more than capable of pulling off a result against the top sides, so we won’t be taking them lightly,” Rovers’ Coach John O’Reilly said. “Ashfield are strong favourites to win the title, though they do have a game against a team in the relegation battle, which will be desperate for their own survival, and on the last day they take on Bunbury, who feel they should have been playing in the NPL, and have a point to prove. We have a couple of tricky games too, but all we can do is get a result, and hope Ashfield slip up.”

In other games David Annall and Johny Mirco will play their last games for Western Knights before retirement, when they host Canning City at Nash Field. The visitors hope to have Mark Trevisiol, Simon Versaico and youngster Charlie May back in the line-up, but Paul van Dongen, Tom Gibbins and Simon Correia are unavailable. Bunbury Forum Force does battle with Dianella White Eagles at Payne Park, the visitors welcome back Stefan Drca, while Morley Windmills and Gosnells City go head-to-head at Wotton Reserve. Gosnells will be missing the suspended Sean Taylor, while Ian Maguire is struggling with injury. Swan United host Mandurah City at the Swan Italian Club, and City skipper Craig Young says the club are struggling with injuries. “We have had a number of injuries recently, so the club are giving the younger lads a go, and it will be the same this week,” he said. “It will give them the chance, to show the manager what they have.”

12.9.2014

DIVISION TWO PREVIEW, ROUND TWENTY-ONE

The standout game in the Second Division is the clash between Rockingham City and Forrestfield United at Lark Hill. Both sides are pushing for the runners-up spot behind champions Joondalup United and a draw will give City that honour, but United know a win will put them above their opponents on goal difference. “We go into the game knowing that second spot is up for grabs, however Forrestfield are a talented side who will be out to get one over us after we beat them earlier in the year,” Rockingham Coach Rob Crerar said. “We are in good form and enjoying the challenges that we face each week, and this one will be no different.” City welcomes back Cyril Sharrock, Martin Barnes, Lance Louvie, Reece Frank and Alex Grayson, but Fraser Marr is not available. Forrestfield Coach Rod Banjac also knows the importance of the game and hopes his young side are up for the test. “Rockingham is a physical side, as my lads found out at first hand when we played them early in the season,” he said. “Our problem this year has been the inconsistency, and that is due to immaturity as a squad, and not being able to field the same team two games in a row throughout the whole season, but we go there looking to come away with the points.” The club has a striker problem going into the game, with four out injured or unavailable, meaning former WA State ‘Goalkeeper of the Year’ Brad Eiffie will playing the striker role this weekend, while skipper Trent Wood is struggling with injury and will have a late fitness test.

The round starts tonight when Curtin University and Fremantle United meet at Edinburgh Oval (8.30pm) Fremantle are at full strength and Ty Fenwick is expecting a tough game. “The boys are playing some good football and are looking very strong in this second half of the season and will look to continue that over the next two weeks,” Fremantle’s Ty Fenwick said. “Friday is a tough challenge, Curtin is playing well, but the boys will rise to it.” Curtin welcome back Carlo Chiellini to the squad after injury, while Rory Binnie, who impressed in the reserves last week, will be pushing for a starting role.

In other games Melville City takes on Kingsway Olympic at Len shearer Reserve, while the other three games all have a bearing on who finishes in the bottom two. Bottom of the table Kelmscott host Joondalup City at Frye Park desperate for all three points, and City welcome back Danny Allen from suspension. Likewise Ellenbrook United, who take on Quinns in a ‘Northern suburbs derby’, at Gumblossom Park. Balga, who are fresh off a huge win against Kelmscott last week, host the champions Joondalup United at Princess Road Reserve. United are at full strength as they look to continue their unbeaten run this season, although Josh Whitmore will have to pass a late fitness test.

12.9.2014

OLD MATES FACE OFF IN GRAND FINAL (by Jonathan Cook, Football West)

Not so long ago, Craig Simpson and Trent Kay were teammates aiming for glory in the sky blue of Perth SC. On Saturday, the pair will go head-to-head as the respective captains of Perth and Bayswater City in the inaugural National Premier Leagues Grand Final at Dorrien Gardens. Since they last stood shoulder-to-shoulder for Perth in 2012, Simpson has had a season with Inglewood United before returning ‘home’ and Kay has joined a resurgent Bayswater City.

Simpson has recent bragging rights over his mate after Perth crushed Bayswater 5-0 in a semi-final at Frank Drago Reserve but he will be taking nothing for granted when Saturday’s match kicks off at 2.30pm. “We want to be confident but definitely not cocky after that result,” Simpson said. “We took our chances and we managed to stop their chances but this is a completely different game. We really want this because we haven’t won anything this year so this is our chance to get the title.”

Perth finished 10th last season and have stormed to second place under the guidance of coach Taki Nicolaidis. Even though Simpson was confident of a turnaround, he has been surprised by just how quickly Perth has climbed back towards the top of WA football. “It’s massive for the club to have turned it around like it has and to win this weekend would be huge,” he said. “Personally, to be the captain lead them into the Grand Final is a huge honour.”

Kay has been under an injury cloud recently with a hamstring strain but said he was ready to return for the big match. “This is the first Grand Final I’ve ever played against Perth and coming off a 5-0 loss in the semi wasn’t good enough,” said Kay, whose team have already lifted the Night Series, Cool Ridge Cup and league trophies this year. “We’re looking to bounce back and hopefully hit them where it hurts in the final. It was a wake-up call and even during training after that the boys stepped it up a level.”

11.9.2014

WESTERN KNIGHTS LEGEND CALLS IT A DAY

Western Knights stalwart David Annall will play his final home game for the Nash Field club in Saturday’s game against Canning City. The 33-year-old will retire from the game at the end of the season after 15 years’ service for the Knights, and he believes the time is right. “I'd thought about it at the end of last season and was close to hanging up the boots then, but a few people got in my ear and convinced me to go around one more time,” explained Annall. “At that stage there was still something left in the tank. But it's the right time now. I've got a young family, the body isn't what it used to be and when you start to think you're a bit behind the eight ball, it’s finally time.”

The talented defender has been a part of the Knights successes, over the years and has enjoyed every minute of the highs and lows. “There have been some great moments over the years, and the 2004 league win and top 5 would be up there, we had a great side that year,” said Annall. “The 2008 Cup win is another, especially when we were going into the game as underdogs against the league's champions. Captaining that side to victory was a great moment, made more special with someone like Paul Cooke scoring and retiring on a high.” “The biggest lowlight was being relegated in 2012. We had such an inexperienced side after losing so many players from the season prior. The frustrating thing was we were outplaying sides but weren't getting a break anywhere. The day we drew with Perth SC 3-3, after leading most of the way, was the lowest point - I was physically and emotionally drained, that day confirmed we were being relegated and it hurt.” A number of clubs tried to lure the defender away from the Knights, but he stayed loyal, apart from missing most of 2007 due to travelling. “There’s been a few clubs interested over the years but when it boiled down to it, I was always happy at the Knights,” he said. “The players, coaches, committee and supporters have all been good people, and to move from a club like that was always going to be difficult. Also we were always competitive and in the hunt for trophies, which played a big part in me staying as well.

Annall played with some great players in his time at Nash Field and he reluctantly named his top three. “I feel bad singling out just three players – there were so many great ones. Jason Williams would have to be up there though; he was so consistent it's ridiculous. I think I saw him play one bad game and that was because he played out of position. He was tough as nails and I don't think there was one striker he didn't have in his pocket. He could also ping a ball and find feet anywhere – just a quality defender,” he said. “Stuart Montgomery was all class. He could turn a game on its head with a bit of finesse and out of nowhere. He was the king of nutmegs as well. He taught me everything I know about them, how to do them and not to get done by them. “The last guy would have to be Daniel Trim. He was an absolute unsung hero. Trimmers was such a utility, he could play anywhere and he did so often. His attitude on and off the park was second to none. If you have a player like Daniel Trim in your squad, you’re halfway there.” The one regret Annall had in the game, was he didn’t represent the WA State side enough, and it wasn’t about not been selected. “I was selected a number of times but due to injuries and cancellation of games I actually only ever played once,” he said. “It was really quite frustrating as the years went on because my debut for the state would constantly be pushed back. In the end it was a great honour to represent the state and I’m glad I can say I’ve done it, and it’s not something players should take for granted.”

Annall has played under a number of experienced coaches, but two came to mind immediately. “Ronnie Campbell and Willie Kelly,’ he said. “They coached me for about 10 seasons and were a big influence in the way I played. It was ‘good cop, bad cop’ with them - and it worked so well. Willie wouldn’t hold back and you needed thick skin to take his criticism at times, but you knew not to make the same mistake again. While Ronnie would always be the calm head and chat to you one on one and go into great detail about the game and what he expected. “In saying that, I like to think that I’ve taken knowledge from all the coaches I’ve been under and hopefully I can use that to my advantage if I move into coaching myself.” So what is next for the defender? “At this stage I’m undecided with what I’ll do football-wise. I'd like to think I’ll stay involved, but at the same time there's a part of me that thinks maybe I should just walk away and enjoy being a spectator. Either way I think I’ll be involved in some form of coaching - whether it's juniors with my son, or seniors somewhere else around the traps.”

11.9.2014

PERTH PLAY DOWN ROUT BEFORE GRAND FINAL

Perth SC striker Ashley Rosindale is not reading too much into his side’s recent 5-0 thrashing of Bayswater City ahead of Saturday’s National Premier Leagues Grand Final at Dorrien Gardens. Mark Doninger scored all five goals in the semi-final demolition but his Perth teammate Rosindale expects a much tougher outing with the championship at stake. “The semi-final win was a great result for us,” Rosindale told thewest.com.au “To keep a clean sheet and score five against any team is an achievement, but to do it to the team that everyone thought was going to run away with the league this year made it even more impressive.

“There were some great individual performances on the day but collectively we were very strong,” added Rosindale, who joined Perth last summer from Balcatta. “Our confidence is high at the moment but finals are usually tight, cagey affairs that are separated by a bit of magic or a mistake and it will come to down to who wants it more on the day. We are happy to have the home ground advantage and I know the club are excited to have the big games hosted back at Dorrien Gardens.”

Coach Taki Nicolaidis has done a superb job in turning around Perth’s fortunes since stepping into the role. “Taki, Ante Kovacevic and Robbie Puca have worked very hard in terms of bringing players in to ensure we had the right mix of experience and youth and our position on the ladder and getting to the Grand Final is a testament to their hard work,” Rosindale commented. “Bringing players in is one thing, but getting a brand new team to gel is another and the coaches and players have worked hard all year to make that happen … we hope to end the season on a high on Saturday afternoon.”

After losing to Perth in the semi-final, Bayswater were made to work hard to reach the showpiece game with Gustavo Giron Marulanda grabbing a dramatic winner against Balcatta. Goalkeeper Devon Spence made a crucial save just moments before Chris Saldaris equalised to send the game into extra-time. “At the time I didn't think much of the save but then we got the equaliser in the next play it put us back in the game,” the 23-year old said. “It was a tough game, a tight contest throughout. The boys dug deep knowing what was on the line, and we all know we deserved to be in the final from our overall season, but we had to work for it.”

Spence, who had two successful seasons at Perth, believes the heavy workload on the Bayswater players, who won the Night Series, Cool Ridge Cup and league title as well as featuring in an FFA Cup match against Melbourne Victory, was partly responsible for the semi-final loss to Perth. “The number of games some of the lads have played definitely took its toll,” he said. “I believe it caught up a little sooner than the game against Perth but we’re not using anything as an excuse. We have recovered well and are looking forward to the game.”

11.9.2014

MAGNIFICENT SEVEN READY FOR GLORY WOMEN (courtesy Football West)

Seven new faces were unveiled at last night’s Perth Glory Women season launch where coach Jamie Harnwell spoke of a team spirit and quality he believes can be rewarded with success this year. Glory Women have reached the finals only once in seven W-League seasons but, with six Matildas signed for the new season and a quality local contingent, Harnwell is optimistic of cracking the top-four again. “I don’t have any doubt that Perth Glory Women are in a better position to have a good go at making the finals in 2014 but no-one at the club will underestimate how much work has to be done to get there,” said Harnwell.

Glory Women’s 20-strong squad includes newcomers Alanna Kennedy, Caitlin Foord, Shelina Zadorksy, Katie Schubert and Gabrielle Marzano, while Sam Kerr and Mackenzie Arnold return to the club. “We’ve got a good squad of players and I’ve been pleased with how the girls have performed in pre-season,” said Harnwell, who has been delighted with how quickly the new recruits have settled in. “The local players have been so important in welcoming the new additions and really making them feel part of Perth Glory.” Glory Women kick-off the new season against Brisbane Roar at Ashfield Sports Club this Saturday at 12noon.

11.9.2014

GARCIA AT HOME WITH GLORY

Richard Garcia left Western Australia as a teenager nearly two decades ago to try his luck in Europe, but always knew he would end up playing back home. Two months after joining hometown club Perth Glory in what could be his last move as a player, the veteran attacker has settled in well and is loving life. "Since Perth Glory came on the scene (in 1996), I've always wanted to play for the club," Garcia said. "I made that well known so for me to come home and have this opportunity, I'm really excited and looking forward to having a great season."

Garcia, 33, spent thirteen successful years in England with West Ham United, Colchester United and Hull City before two year ago moving to the A-League, in which he’s played for Melbourne Heart and Sydney FC. He also made 18 appearances for the Socceroos, including at the 2010 World Cup. Garcia adds experience and depth to Glory as part of a new-look squad that has been brought together with the aim of scoring more goals. Andy Keogh, Youssouf Hersi and Mitch Nichols will also add firepower to a team that managed to find the net just 28 times in 27 games last term.

Coach Kenny Lowe still has space in the squad and is on the lookout for another striker. The result of the aggressive recruiting drive so far has been a team that has proved much more potent in the front third during several impressive pre-season performances. "We've assembled a new squad and we're working hard at getting our game together and things are going really well," Garcia said. "We've concentrated on the fitness side of it so far and now, coming towards the back-end of pre-season, we've started looking at how we're playing together and how we're gelling as a team."

Glory's major focus over the next fortnight is an FFA Cup clash with third-tier Victorian club St Albans in Melbourne on 23 September. Despite the Saints being rank outsiders, Glory aren't taking their opponents lightly. Assistant coach Andy Ord was on hand to watch St Albans' National Premier Leagues clash with Richmond SC last week. "It's going to be a tough game," Garcia said. "We've got to go out there in the right frame of mind and keep doing the things that we've been doing well. It's a competition that we want to go far in, so the next game is going to be very important."

11.9.2014

BIRIGHITTI BETTER FOR LEVERKUSEN SETBACK

Mark Birighitti is in the ‘right mindspace’ to lead the Newcastle Jets to their first finals appearance in five years despite an off-season which included a failed European move and missing the final World Cup cut. The 23-year old shot-stopper is determined to win back the number one shirt at Newcastle after falling out of favour for the final four A-League games of last season following a form slump. That dip came on the eve of a March trip to meet with Bayer Leverkusen officials at which his move to Germany was all but sealed.

However, the Bundesliga switch collapsed three months later in the wake of the sacking of Leverkusen boss Sami Hyypia. The transfer breakdown happened only days after Birighitti left the Socceroos squad in Brazil after missing the final 23-man cut. The twin disappointments might have broken a lesser man, but Birighitti says he is better for the experience. “I’m feeling very positive about this season,” Birighitti said. “Going over to the World Cup in Brazil and being picked in the All Stars to play Juventus, I’ve come out of these experiences a totally different person.”

“I’m in the right mindspace at the moment,” continued the former Perth SC junior. “I don’t want to harp on it too much. The (Leverkusen) coach got sacked and that destroyed things for me, but this is football. It’s about how well you recover from these setbacks. If Europe comes up, it comes up. I’ve got good people looking after me, I’ve got a good agent and my family is behind me. I’m on the right path. Yes I want to end up in Europe one day, but I’m still young and now I’m focused on helping the Jets play finals football.”

Birighitti is likely to be one of the few constants in Newcastle’s starting eleven from last term, with wholesale personnel changes made by new coach Phil Stubbins during the off-season. Adam Taggart, Josh Brillante, Ruben Zadkovich, Craig Goodwin, Zenon Caravella, James Brown, Connor Chapman and Josh Mitchell have departed. In their place the club have added a rich South American attacking flavour in Marcos Flores, Jeronimo Neumann and Edson Montano, while Jonny Steele and Adrian Madaschi have also arrived. Newcastle’s recent pre-season results, which includes losses to Sydney FC and Brisbane Roar, suggest the group is still not yet cohesive.

Birighitti, though, was bullish about their chances of ending the club’s long wait to play finals football. “One hundred per cent (we can make finals),” he said. “We’ve got a good group. A few results in pre-season haven’t gone our way (but) we’ve definitely got enough quality in the team to do well in this league. We’re a team other sides are going to find hard to beat. We’ve made a lot of signings, added a lot of class players …it’s been four years since we made the top six. There’s no excuses. We’ve got all the players and all the resources we need. It’s on us, we need to perform.”

10.9.2014

SAINSBURY: IT’S A LEARNING CURVE

Trent Sainsbury says inexperience is not an excuse for some of the Socceroos defensive lapses in this week’s friendly win over Saudi Arabia. After a superb debut against the might of Belgium four days early, Sainsbury was a little less assured as the Socceroos held on for a 3-2 victory. The PEC Zwolle defender started from the bench but was summoned inside five minutes after Alex Wilkinson succumbed to a glute injury. Partnering debutant Bailey Wright in the middle, flanked by Chris Herd and Jason Davidson, it was a backline with just 17 caps between them.

“You’ve got to gel pretty quickly. We’re all out there trying to cement our own spot in the team and bring leadership to the group,” Sainsbury said. “There’s a lot of inexperience but at the same time the boys have got experience with their clubs. I thought we handled ourselves well. There was a few times myself personally I gave the ball away too cheaply in the middle. But at the end of the day it’s a learning curve and hopefully I’ll come away with the best (from the experience).”

Having helped the Socceroos secure their first win of 2014, Sainsbury says spirits are high in the camp heading towards January’s Asian Cup. “The win justifies everything the boys have been training hard for,” the former Armadale said. “Ange (Postecoglou) is a very smart mind when it comes to football. Sometimes even when he gives his speeches at lunch it can be like a Braveheart moment … and then you’ve got to go eat your lunch and calm down. It’s good because the boys are buying into it and we want to keep doing it on the park and come away with good results.”

10.9.2014

LOWE TARGETING MARQUEE STRIKER

Perth Glory hope a new marquee finisher can bring the glory days back to Western Australia. Coach Kenny Lowe wants a marquee striker to finish off his squad as he looks to turn last season's weakest attacking side into a title challenger. Glory look set to play a diamond midfield in a 4-4-2 formation and Lowe is targeting a partner for Irish import Andy Keogh, who has already scored six goals in the lead-up to the 2014/15 A-League campaign, to finish off the work of his impressive group of attacking midfielders.

Lowe has one more spot free in his squad and will be targeting a marquee striker - either international or Australian - to complete his pre-season recruitment. "Whether we fill that or not I don't know, I'm certainly trying to fill it, whether we do fill it or not all depends on personnel, finances, logistics, the usual scenarios," Lowe said. "But yeah, it'd be good if we could get another player up alongside Keogh. I think then you would see a real change ... you add that in there and you could do really well with a little bit of luck."

With marquee wages on offer, Glory could potentially attract a big name such as Portugal international Hugo Almeida and former Brazil striker Nilmar, both who are still looking for clubs this season. Another option could be to try and lure one of the club's favourite sons, Nikita Rukavytsya, back to Perth as an Australian marquee. Rukavytsya, 27, arguably enjoyed the best years of his career in purple but has struggled to settle since moving to Europe in 2009, since when he played for five different clubs.

9.9.2014

SOCCEROOS HOLD OUT SAUDI ARABIA

Australia has finally returned to winning ways by edging out Saudi Arabia 3-2 in last night’s friendly at Craven Cottage in London. Coming off five straight losses, the Socceroos sprinted into a two-goal lead through Tim Cahill and captain Mile Jedinak but had to endure a nervous finale, as debutant Bailey Wright scored the decider between finishes from Hassan Muath and Taisir Al Jassim. “I was pretty happy with the first half, we controlled the game really well for the most part,” coach Ange Postecoglou said. “The second half, it just became a really scrappy, open affair and we just lost our composure a little bit.”

Cahill struck his 35th international goal after only a few minutes, the striker starting a fine team move near the halfway line and finishing it from close-range after Massimo Luongo’s shot was blocked. The Socceroos then suffered a blow with Alex Wilkinson was forced off by injury and replaced by Trent Sainsbury after just 5 minutes. But seconds later the difference was doubled as an unmarked Jedinak rose to head in from Josh Brillante’s free-kick. While the scoreboard looked promising, the performance was less so with Australia struggling to maintain possession and failing to create much more on the way of chances on goal.

Yasir Al Shahrani should have brought Saudi Arabia back into the game early in the second stanza but sprayed wide when found unmarked on the edge of the 6-yard box. Mitch Langerak’s trip on Mukhtar Fallatah after 70 minutes gained the gulf nation a penalty which Muath duly converted. Seven minutes later, and against the run of play, Wright headed in from a corner to seemingly seal the game. However, the Saudis continued to make inroads and on 84 minutes Al Jassam punished some poor marking to post their second goal and set-up a tense finale.

8.9.2014

TAGGART GOES UNDER THE KNIFE

Socceroos striker Adam Taggart will have to wait up to six more weeks to make his Fulham debut after undergoing surgery. Taggart, 21, joined the Cottagers in July but has been prevented from making his first competitive outing by a lower abdominal problem. The former ECU Joondalup junior went under the knife over the weekend and is expected to miss up to six weeks of the Championship season. Taggart’s only appearance for Fulham to date was in a pre-season friendly win over Crawley.

8.9.2014

LOWE POSITIVE DESPITE LOSS

Coach Kenny Lowe has drawn many positives from Perth Glory’s tough pre-season road trip. Glory were forced to come from behind to earn a 1-1 with Adelaide United late last week and on the weekend went down 3-0 to Melbourne Victory. Despite latter result, Lowe was upbeat over his team’s performance. “I thought the performance was okay from our guys, it was a tighter game than the score indicated,” Lowe said. “We did quite well in the second half we just got punished for a lack of quality when we had the ball. They caught us on the break but it was a tight game, a good game.”

The closing stages of Sunday’s game were a testing time for Lowe. Glory played the final 13 minutes with only ten men after defender Jack Clisby fell ill and Scott Jamieson and Josh Risdon succumbed to minor injury. “I think we could’ve put one of the boys back on the pitch to make it eleven verses eleven but I think we got to be mindful of the players’ welfare.” Lowe said. “We didn’t concede with ten men, so it was a good exercise for us.” Rostyn Griffiths, Michael Thwaite, and Nebojsa Marinkovic travelled to Melbourne but did not play against Melbourne.

Lowe praised the ability and character of his new-look squad. “We’ve had a remit this year to go get what I call ‘blue-collar players; lads who have got no ego who are quite prepared to roll up their sleeves and do the work but also are quality players on the ball,” said Lowe. “Andy Keogh has made 40-yard runs to cover for people who have been caught out of position. Mitch Nichols has got great endeavour and great energy. That’s what the drive has been, getting hard working people who are also good footballers and I think you can see that throughout the squad.”

7.9.2014

INJURY HIT GLORY GO DOWN TO VICTORY

Perth Glory keeper Danny Vukovic was in great form in Sunday’s pre-season friendly against Melbourne Victory, but he couldn’t stop the home side from recording a 3-0 win at AAMI Park. A brace from new striker Besart Berisha and another from Brazilian midfielder Gui Finkler was enough for the home side, while the Glory ended the game with 10 men when Josh Risdon limped off with a knee injury, and with the Glory having used all there subs they played the last 12 minutes one player down. Glory played a 4-1-3-2 formation with new signings Youssouf Hersi, Richard Garcia and Mitch Nichols sitting behind a front two of Irish international Andy Keogh and Chris Harold. Michael Thwaite, Sidnei Scola and Nebojsa Marinkovic were missing from the squad, while Rostyn Griffiths and Ruben Zadzovich were still missing and Daniel de Silva was away on international duty.

Coach Kenny Lowe was happy with the workout as he prepares the side for the FFA Cup game against St Albans at The Knights Stadium in two weeks, but said he might be tempted to head back into the transfer market for another striker. "I thought the performance was OK, it was certainly closer than the scoreline indicated," Lowe said. "We've got one spot left, the marquee position. Whether we fill that or not, I don't know, I'm certainly trying to fill it."

The Victory, who beat NPL-WA side Bayswater City to reach the last 16 of the FFA Cup, started brightly and the crossbar came to the rescue of the Glory after only two minutes. Archie Thompson raced clear, his shot beat Vukovic but the ball crashed off the upright and away to safety. Glory were soon into the game and on five minutes Hersi sent Harold racing down the right, his cross was only inches away from Keogh in the six-yard box. Then on quarter hour mark Brandon O’Neill’s long-range shot was straight at Victory keeper Nathan Coe. The pitch was tricky and uneven after Melbourne Storm’s NRL game on Friday night with both sides passes going astray. There was nothing wrong with Vukovic, who was shining for the Glory and on 23 minutes the Glory custodian saved superbly from Archie Thompson’s close-range shot.

The Glory’s best chance of the half came on the half hour. Harold burst clear down the right, his cross found former Victory midfielder Nichols at the front post, but his shot was well saved by Coe. But there was not a great deal Vukovic could do on 34 minutes when Victory hit the front. Berisha was brought down on the edge of the penalty area by Risdon. Finkler’s free kick took a wicked deflection off the Glory wall and wrong footed Vukovic and into the net. Glory went close to an equaliser on the stroke of half time, Garcia sent Keogh clear, but Coe was out quickly to save at the Irish strikers’ feet. Lowe brought on Cameron Edwards at half time to replace Jack Clisby, with O’Neill dropping into the back four.

The Glory began the second half well and had plenty of possession, but lacked the final ball in the final third of the pitch. Both Kenny Low and Kevin Muscat made a host of changes early in the second half. Jamie Maclaren, Riley Woodcock and former Victory player Diogo Ferreira came on for the Glory, while the Victory brought on youngsters Andrew Nabbout and former Glory player Jesse Makarounas.

Maclaren tested Coe again on the hour as they pressed for the equaliser, before Woodcock’s cross found Keogh moments later, but again Coe denied him. Then on 71 minutes and against the run of play the Victory doubled their advantage. The ball was given away in the middle of the park, and the Glory were made to pay. Thompson found Berisha, and the Albanian striker slide past Dino Djulbic and finished powerfully from the edge of the box. It was 3-0 four minutes later. Thompson was again the provider, his slide rule pass sent Berisha clear, and he was brought down by Vukovic, and referee Shaun Evans pointed straight to the spot. The striker picked himself up to send Vukovic the wrong way from the resulting penalty. With Risdon off for the last ten minutes, Victory dominated and Vukovic kept the scoreline respectable producing stunning saves to deny Makarounas and Nabbout’s long-range shots.

Melbourne Victory: GK Nathan COE, 2 Jason GERIA, 6 Leigh BROXHAM (c), 7 Gui FINKLER, 8 Besart BERISHA, 10 Archie THOMPSON, 11 Connor PAIN (13 Andrew NABBOUT 66’), 16 Rashid MAHAZI (22 Jesse MAKAROUNAS 66’), 17 Matthieu DELPIERRE (28 Milos RIDESIC 71’), 18 Dylan MURNANE, 23 Adrian LEIJER
Subs not used: RGK Lawrence THOMAS
Yellow Cards: Broxham 18’, Murnane 59’

Perth Glory: Danny VUCOVIC (c), 2 Jack CLISBY (22 Cameron EDWARDS 46’), 3 Brandon O’NEILL, 6 Dino DJULBIC, 7 Youssouf HERSI (13 Diogo FERREIRA 57’), 9 Andy KEOGH, 11 Richard GARCIA (26 Harry O’BRIEN 71’), 14 Chris HAROLD (15 Jamie MACLAREN 57’), 17 Mitch NICHOLS, 19 Josh RISDON, 21 Scott JAMIESON (4 Riley WOODCOCK 60’)
Subs not used: Nil
Yellow Cards: Clisby 3’, Keogh 33’
Referee: Shaun Evans

7.9.2014

NEW SOCCEROO HERD INJURED

Aston Villa’s Chris Herd is nursing a knee problem stemming from his international debut for Australia. Herd gained his first Socceroos cap in last week’s friendly loss to Belgium, but was forced out of the action in the 44th minute. It was the 25-year old utility’s first competitive outing since Villa’s defeat at Stoke City in December. Herd, who is in the final year of his claret and blue contract, is now in doubt for Monday’s friendly against Saudi Arabia.

6.9.2014

MARULANDA PUTS BAYSWATER INTO GRAND FINAL (by Peter Simcox, nplwa.com.au)

Colombian striker Gustavo Giron-Marulanda’s goal late in the second period of extra time has put Bayswater City into the National Premier Leagues WA Grand Final against Perth SC at Dorrien Gardens on Saturday. Marulanda’s strike sealed a thrilling 3-2 win in the Preliminary Final at Frank Drago Reserve against a Balcatta side who had twice led. The striker, who has been hampered by injury for most of the season, gave credit to his side for their resilience. “We always fight out games and have a mentality of not giving up and today was a classic example,” he said. “We knew if we could find an equaliser we would win the game, that’s the sort of character we have in our side and for me to score the winner was great. We now look forward to next week’s final against Perth and we head there looking to reverse last week’s result against them.”

Perth thumped Bayswater 5-0 in a semi-final encounter just over a week ago. But there was to be no repeat against Balcatta, who were just moments away from reaching their first ever Grand Final with a 2-1 lead that was wiped out by substitute Chris Saldaris’ header. Alex Canigila had given Balcatta the lead early before Andy Reale levelled before the break. It looked like Benny Kouakou had won it for Roman Falzon’s side but Bayswater kept pressing and got their rewards.

Bayswater Coach Chris Coyne was proud of his players’ commitment and character to fight back to set up a showdown against Perth. “Going behind twice to two sloppy goals was frustrating but we showed good resolve and we ran the game out well,” he said. “The boys have been magnificent since I’ve been here. They have given me everything they have. In retrospect, the lads were tired last week. It was a tough two weeks - four games in that period is a lot of football for semi-professional players… it just caught up with them.”

Coyne said Marulanda was getting close to full fitness and is hoping he has peaked at the right time of the season. “Gustavo was out for a long time this season and he has got to understand that,” he said. “Yes he wants to play every week but he is getting stronger each week and we haven’t seen the best of him this year yet. Hopefully he’s saving it for next week.”

Balcatta dominated the early exchanges and created three good chances, the best falling to Kouakou. The striker was sent clear by Kris Gate but his shot was straight at Devon Spence. Their early dominance was rewarded on 23 minutes with the lead. Kouakou was brought down on the edge of the penalty area, and the striker’s resulting free kick crashed off the underside of the crossbar and Caniglia was the quickest to react to fire home from close-range. Conceding the goal lifted Bayswater and Marulanda went close on the half hour before Todd Howarth’s long-range free kick flashed over the crossbar. It wasn’t a surprise that on 38 minutes Bayswater levelled. Howarth made space down the left and his deep cross found Reale at the back post. The defender looped his header over Davies and into the net to send the sides in level at the break.

Balcatta reacted well to conceding late in the first half and were back in front on 57 minutes. Caniglia played in Kouakou, who burst into the box, rounded Spence, and fired home. The home side were not going down without a fight and went close to levelling five minutes later but Reale’s shot on the turn was well saved by Davies. Then 60 seconds later Bayswater won a penalty when former Bayswater defender Patrick Quinn brought down Marulanda and referee David Bruce pointed straight to the spot. Marulanda stepped up but Davies guessed the right way and saved superbly low to his left.

Bayswater were throwing everything at Balcatta but with skipper Adam Tong and Kieron Stallard outstanding at the heart of the defence they held sway. With time running out, and pushing men forward looking for the equaliser, Bayswater almost conceded a third. Caniglia sent Gustavo Catarcione clear on 86 minutes, and he had the chance to seal victory but Spence stood tall to deny the Brazilian striker and keep his side in the game That save became more significant a minute later when Bayswater levelled. Adam Bachiller found space down the left and his cross found Saldaris at the back post, whose header went into the net.

In extra time, both sets of players were fatigued and struggled in the wet and windy conditions. Jamie Coyne was struggling with injury but the former Perth Glory defender continued bravely. It looked like the game was heading to a penalty shoot-out but three minutes before the end Bayswater won it. Declan Hargreaves’ free-kick picked out Marulanda, who kept his composure and fired low past Davies to seal victory for Bayswater.

6.9.2014

SHAMROCK EDGE GOSNELLS IN SEVEN-GOAL THRILLER (by Kalon Harrison, footballwest.com.au)

Shamrock Rovers almost blew a three-goal lead against their hosts Gosnells City but managed to add to their winning streak with a 4-3 win at Walter Padbury Reserve. Shamrock Rovers coach Mike Ford said his side were nervous going into the game with his side level on points with Ashfield but trailing the leaders on goal difference. “(There are) two games to go and it’s good to get a result that we’ve had to earn,” he said. “We thought we cruised it, but the tables turned and we had to find another level, which we did. “(With two games left, you can easily say the pressure is on (Ashfield). If they slip up they lose the league.”

After a scrappy opening 45 minutes the deadlock was broken on the stroke of half-time by Shamrock’s Alec Robinson. Robinson received the ball just inside the area from the right wing and guided his shot with the help of a tricky bounce past Tom Allen in goals. The nerves had settled and Rovers had two goals in three minutes inside the first 15 minutes of the second half. Nick Little beat his marker after a nice pass from Wil Pender and guided his shot from 10m out with only the keeper to beat. Three minutes later Shamrock appeared to have wrapped up the win when Pender worked some space on the right side of the penalty area and blasted his shot into the top right corner of the goal after a quick counter attack.

The Gosnells fight back began when substitute Christwich Mutsram finished off an excellent passing move with one of his first touches of the game. The home side grew in confidence and the away side regressed and with eight minutes to go Gosnells scored again. Sean Taylor converted from the spot after a hand ball was given when two players challenged for a header. Taylor thought he had snatched a point for his side when in the 89th minute he rose highest at the back post and finished his free header after missing a few headed chances throughout the game.

Paul Curren was the unlikely scorer of Shamrock’s fourth when Gosnells failed to clear their area and flicked the ball backwards and into the top corner. There appeared to be a foul on Allen and he was slow to his feet when the header went in but the goal stood. Gosnells coach Chris Bates said his side deserved more from the game. “They gave everything today and we deserved a draw,” he said. “We tweaked things after half-time and it changed the game well for us. It worked but the result was unfortunate.” In other results Ashfield beat Dianella White Eagles 4-1 to remain top of the league, Canning City and Bunbury played out a 0-0 draw, Swan United beat Wanneroo City 5-0, Western Knights beat UWA 2-0 and Morley Windmills beat Mandurah City 3-0.

6.9.2014

DEBUT CAPS SAINSBURY’S ‘NEVER FORGET’ NIGHT

It wasn’t the result he wanted but for youngster Trent Sainsbury, the Socceroos recent loss to Belgium is something he will never forget. The defender – along with Chris Herd and Brad Smith – made his senior international debut by starting in the heart of defence and, despite a shaky start, was one of the teams’ best in a tough two-goal loss. “I was lying in my bed before the match and I was just giggling,” said an ecstatic Sainsbury. “I couldn’t believe I was at this stage. Six months ago I was out with a fractured knee and I was devastated but to come back and finally get rewarded with a jersey is incredible.”

Sainsbury, 22, partnered former Central Coast Mariners teammates Alex Wilkinson and Matt Ryan at the back and together they stood up well under some intense pressure from the hosts. “We’ve got the bond over the years so we knew a few things that were going to happen between us,” Sainsbury said. “But at the same time I was really just trying to get to grips with the game at the start because I’ve never experienced anything like that in my life. It was incredible. Even though they had some of their bigger names out, the list and the clubs they play for, I was definitely pinching myself to start alongside one of my old partners, it was definitely a good experience.”

5.9.2014

GATE WARY OF BAYSWATER BACKLASH

Balcatta midfielder Kris Gate has paid Bayswater City a grand compliment on the eve of their National Premier Leagues elimination final at Frank Drago Reserve. Gate, who came through English Premier League club Newcastle United’s academy, is a firm believer in the first-past-the-post system and has no doubt that Bayswater deserve to be regarded as champions, despite their shock 5-0 semi-final defeat to Perth SC. “Bayswater, in my eyes, are the champions,” he said. “But we all know when a good team gets beat by a large margin they usually react, which I’m sure they will be trying to do on Saturday.”

Balcatta go into the clash full of confidence after beating Sorrento 3-1 at Percy Doyle Reserve last weekend. “Saturday’s game was a tough game against Sorrento as it always is,” he said. “We worked hard as a team when you have Gustavo Catarcione up top you know we will score.” Catarcione, who returned from his honeymoon in Brazil two weeks ago, scored twice against Sorrento and will enjoy the opportunity against his former club Bayswater, according to Gate. “Gustavo has been quality all year for us and I’m sure if he never went away for six weeks he would have won top goal scorer and maybe a shout for gold medal,” he said. “I know he is really keen to score… it's always nice to get one over your old club.”

Gate said coach Ramon Falzon, and the outstanding performances of some young players, had been key to turning around the club’s fortunes. “We have had a huge turnover of players this season but we have played some nice football, which Ramon has said he wanted from the start,” he said. “We have young lads playing with the experienced players, and it's working for us… we’ll continue to roll with it.” Balcatta will be at full strength for the big game, with Gate, Keiron Stallard and James Sammut all recovering from slight knocks last weekend. Saturday’s winner will take on Perth in the Grand Final at Dorrien Gardens next weekend.

5.9.2014

BELGIUM TOO SLICK FOR SOCCEROOS

The Socceroos have again come up short against top-class opposition as Belgium inflicted a fifth straight defeat with a 2-0 friendly international win in Liege. Goals in either half to midfielders Dries Mertens and Axel Witsel proved the difference at the Stade Maurice Dufrasne last night in what was both sides' first post-World Cup outings. "It was obviously a very challenging game for us, they're a very good side," Postecoglou said. "For the most part I think we grew into the game ... there aren't going to be many countries that come here and dominate a game of football."

An internationally inexperienced backline was exposed at times by Belgium's attack but Postecoglou paid tribute to the defensive efforts on debut of Trent Sainsbury and Chris Herd. "We're exposing these guys to the highest possible level and some real pressurised situations," Postecoglou said. "I think Trent Sainsbury for a debut against some quality was very good. He's not going to come to many more difficult places than here." Liverpool youngster Brad Smith also made his Socceroos debut off the bench, completing his change of eligibility having represented England at junior level.

The game began at a high tempo and Australia needed the impressive Mat Ryan to make a great save to deny Mertens in the 12th minute. The opening goal came six minutes later when Mertens shot bounced up over the head of Ryan after Kevin de Bruyne’s powerful effort came back off the crossbar. Australia squandered a golden chance to equalise in the 23rd minute with Tim Cahill side-footing straight at Thibaut Courtois. The Socceroos started the second half brightly but could not fashion any real chances. Witsel sealed the win with a cracking half-volley in the 77th minute.

5.9.2014

NPL-WA PRELIMINARY FINAL PREVIEW

Regular season winners Bayswater City will head into this crunch game against rivals Balcatta (at Frank Drago Reserve - 2:30pm) knowing that a much improved performance on last week will be required if they are to progress to the Grand Final. Bayswater were dealt their heaviest defeat of the season when they were humbled 5-0 at the hands of Perth who had the week off to prepare for the season's showcase event against the winner of this fixture. Five goals from Perth hero Mark Doninger handed Bayswater their biggest loss of the year.

Balcatta came through the Minor Semi-Final by defeating Sorrento 3-1 at Grindleford Reserve. Gustavo Cartcione (x2) and Adam Tong were the scorers for the home side who proved too strong for a plucky Sorrento outfit. Balcatta will no doubt be focussed and mindful of the job at hand this Saturday as they head into the 'Do or Die' fixture against the League and Cup winners. This will be the fourth meeting between the sides in 2014. Bayswater hammered Balcatta 5-0 when the sides met in the Quarter Final of tis seasons Night Series and back it up with a 5-2 victory back in Round Two of the league campaign. Balcatta got themselves some bragging rights when they faced off in the reverse fixture with Balcatta winning 2-0.

5.9.2014

DIVISION ONE PREVIEW, ROUND TWENTY

The title race in the First Division is in full swing, with Ashfield and Shamrock Rovers battling it out at the top of the table. Ashfield holds the upper hand at the moment but only on goal difference, and this week they make the trip to Dianella Reserve to take on Dianella White Eagles, who need the points at the other end of the table. “We are looking forward to the game, and it’s a must win for us,” Dianella’s Milos Pavic said. “We need our key players to come out and play and I think it will be a tough game and it will be won in the middle of the park.” Ashfield welcomes back Nick Davies to the squad but Chris Thackeray is in doubt for the game, and striker Jamie Burns knows the title is in their hands. “This is as big as any game we have played this year, as it puts us three points closer to the title if we win,” Burns said. “We know Dianella will be right up for it as they have slipped into the relegation battle after the loss to Wanneroo on the weekend and they will be looking to bounce back. But the league is in our hands we win three and we win the league, it's as simple as that, and I hope we can do that.”

Shamrock Rovers travel to Walter Padbury Reserve and a clash with Gosnells City, and Paul Concannon knows they can’t slip up in the title race, and he is expecting a tough game. “Since our loss to Ashfield we knew we would have to win every game if we wanted to win the league. So far we’ve done that, so all we can do is look after ourselves, win the last three games and hope Ashfield slip up,” the Rovers midfielder said. “Every game is a cup final for us now and we have another at Gosnells on Saturday. They (Gosnells) have had some decent results of late, notably the win against Bunbury. So we are expecting a very tough game and certainly won’t be underestimating them.” The home side welcomes back Ian Maguire from injury, while Shamrock will be missing John Hogan and the suspended, Brian Patterson, but Paul Curran returns.

In other games Canning City entertains Bunbury Forum Force at Burrendah Reserve. The home side will be without Mark Trevisiol, Simon Versaico, while Michael van Dongen is in doubt, but they do welcome back Charlie Parry and Paul Van Dongen. Western Knights will be missing the suspended Shaun French when they travel to the UWA Sports Park to take on UWA-Nedlands. Midfielder Luka Jukic is in doubt with injury as the Knights look to end the season strong with three wins. Swan United has Steve Shore, Ryan Treacey and Ross Cosgrove in doubt when they host Wanneroo City at the Swan Italian Club, while Morley Windmills travel to the Hyundai Stadium to take on Mandurah City.

5.9.2014

DIVISION TWO PREVIEW, ROUND TWENTY

Its round 20 of the Football West Second Division and with Joondalup United already having taken out the title, the battle to avoid last spot takes centre stage. Bottom of the table Kelmscott Roos won for the first time last week since round six, to close the gap, and they will be looking to jump out bottom spot when they travel to Princess Road Reserve to take on Balga in a real six pointer. “We are looking forward to the game, we have our heads down and working hard and looking to continue from our great win last weekend,” Roos Coach James Coffey said. “We’re looking to get off that bottom and this is an opportunity we have to take. It was a good hard fought win by Balga at our place last time we meet, so we’re looking to match them and get a win.” Balga welcomes back Curtis Wreglesworth to their squad, and Coach Martyn Day also knows the importance of the match. “With Kelmscott picking up useful points over the past few weeks we know that it is not going to be an easy game, but we are hoping that our home form will see us pick up the 3 points,” he said

Ellenbrook United host Joondalup City at Arbor Grove Reserve, and they need to start winning, and their last three points was against Saturday opponents back in round nine. Keeper Jake Bungert will be hoping home ground advantage can see them over the line. “Our squad is depleted with absences of key players, injuries being the main factor. However, we do not use this as an excuse for our recent run of defeats,” he said. “We have enough depth and belief within the squad, and will be looking to take more points on offer before seasons' end, starting with this weekend at home to Joondalup, expect the unexpected.” The visitors regain the services of Mark Thornton.

Joondalup United will look to continue their unbeaten season when they entertain Melville City at Forrest Park. Arran Maplestone, James Collins and Josh Whitmore return to the side, but they will be without Alex Wild, Lee Shepperd and Tony Taylor. United coach Daniel Smith says the players must take a great deal of credit to come back to earn a draw at Rockingham last week. “The boys need to take a lot of credit for the comeback against Rockingham to remain unbeaten this season, they showed a great deal of character, which as a coach is pleasing,” he said. “This week will be another tough game, Melville is in great form but it’s one we are fully committed to ensuring we keep our unbeaten run intact.”

In other games Rockingham City makes the trip to Kingsway Reserve to take on Olympic Kingsway, Forrestfield United welcome Curtin University to Hartfield Park and welcome Will Tshabangu to their squad, but Matt Harold and Jason Feather are in doubt, while Fremantle United entertains Quinns at Hilton Reserve

5.9.2014

GLORY TAKE ON SORRENTO IN HARNWELL TESTIMONIAL (courtersy Sorrento)

One of WA football's longest serving players will be recognised with a testimonial match at Percy Doyle Reserve. Sorrento attacker Todd Harnwell, who has played more than 400 games for the club, will line up for the Gulls in a September 20 match against Perth Glory as they continue their preparations for the Hyundai A-League season.

The match will kick-off at 2pm with a 12pm curtain raiser between Sorrento and Glory legends. Perth Glory Supporters Club has donated $500 as a man-of-the-match prize. Entry is $5 and free for children under 16.

4.9.2014

NPL JUNIOR GRAND FINAL VENUE CHOSEN (courtersy nplwa.com.au)

Floreat Athena’s E&D Litis Stadium has been chosen to host this season’s inaugural National Premier Leagues WA Junior Grand Finals. The 2014 NPL Junior Grand Finals will feature the best teams from the 12 – 16 NPL competitions. Having missed out on a finals berth in the NPL Senior competitions in 2014, Floreat Athena has accepted the opportunity to put on this season’s NPL Junior showcase event on Sunday, September 14.

NPL Manager Chris Beech said: “E&D Litis Stadium was awarded hosting duties after careful consideration was made of several options. It is a fantastic opportunity to showcase some of the best junior players in the state at such a good venue. We are hopeful the players will enjoy playing inside the stadium with a finals atmosphere.” NPL clubs Sorrento, ECU Joondalup, Perth Glory, and Cockburn City have all booked their place in junior NPL Grand Finals after winning their semi final clashes on Sunday, August 31. The winner’s from this weekend’s elimination finals will join these clubs in the hope of being crowned the inaugural NPL Champions in the junior NPL competitions.

4.9.2014

GLORY AND ADELAIDE SHARE THE SPOILS

Perth Glory came away from Coopers Stadium with a 1-1 draw against Adelaide United in a closed pre-season friendly on Thursday afternoon. Sergio Cirio gave the Reds the lead after 32 minutes, picking up the ball just outside of the 18-yard box and slotting to the right of Danny Vukovic, before Glory captain Thwaite equalised with a looped header over Eugene Galekovic six minutes later.

The Glory went into the game without Sidnei Sciola and Youssouf Hersi, but it was Reds new Spanish signing Pablo Sanchez who had the first opportunity on 22 minutes. His half volley beat Vukovic but the crossbar came to his and the Glory's rescue. But on 32 minutes the home side hit the front. Spanish striker Cirio was given too much space on the edge of the penalty area and he fired low past Vukovic. Their lead only lasted for six minutes, with Glory skipper Thwaite heading back over Galekovic to make it 1-1 The Glory dominated after the break with Mitch Nichols impressing, and Galekovic had to be alert early to deny the former Melbourne Victory striker. The Reds hit the woodwork again on the hour, the lively Sanchez’ snap shot hit the post and away to safety. Richard Garcia looked lively, and the former Socceroo almost won it for the Glory on 80 minutes, his volley whistled just past the post. The Glory will now take on Melbourne Victory at AAMI Stadium on Saturday

Adelaide United – GK Eugene GALEKOVIC, 3 Nigel BOOGAARD, 4 Dylan MCGOWAN, 8 ISAIAS, 9 Sergio CIRIO, 18 James JEGGO, 21 Tarek ELRICH, 22 Pablo SANCHEZ, 16 Scott NAGEL - Subs: 12 Mark OCHIENG, 13 Dylan SMITH, 32 Nathan KONSTANDOPOULOS, 26 Anthony COSTA, 25 Jordan PUDLER, 30 Sergio SERRETT, 15 Ruon TOGYIK
Perth Glory – Daniel VUKOVIC, 6 Dino DJULBIC, 9 Andy KEOGH, 10 Nebojsa MARINKOVIC, 11 Richard GARCIA, 13 Diogo FERREIRA, 17 Mitch NICHLOLS, 19 Joshua RISDON, 21 Scott JAMIESON, 22 Cameron EDWARDS, 23 Michael THWAITE - Subs: RGK Jordan THURTELL, 3 Brandon O’NEILL, 14 Chris HAROLD, 15 Jamie MACLAREN, 26 Harry O’BRIEN

4.9.2014

I ALWAYS WANTED TO PLAY FOR AUSTRALIA: HERD

Chris Herd has dismissed suggestions he was ever going to play international football for anyone other than Australia. After a couple of false starts, the Aston Villa utility looks set to start for the Socceroos at right-back tonight against Belgium. Herd was also eligible to play for Scotland but has made it clear pulling on the green and gold of Australia will be “one of the best days of my career”. “I’m feeling really good,” Herd said from Liege. “I’m grateful to be here, grateful to the manager for the call-up. I’m just looking to re-pay his faith in me and do my best for the country.”

Herd, a former ECU Joondalup junior, made it clear his international career was always going to be with the Socceroos. “I think it’s all rumours made up by people who didn’t know the situation,” he said of the notion of playing for Scotland. “I always wanted to play for Australia. Scotland’s never came into my mind. I’ve always wanted to represent Australia. Unfortunately the times I’ve been called up, I’ve been injured. I’ve got over all my injuries now and am looking after my body really well and am feeling as fit as I’ve ever been.”

Coach Ange Postecoglou has every confidence Herd can solve a few problems within the national team. “There’s an opportunity there (for Herd),” Postecoglou said. “We’re certainly keen to have a look at Chris. “We certainly need to create more depth in those (defensive) areas and he can provide that because he can play a number of positions across the back. He looks pretty keen. He’s had a few false starts in terms of his international career, so I’m sure he’s pretty keen to don the green and gold and establish himself as an international.”

3.9.2014

GLORY START BUILD-UP TO CUP TIE

Perth Glory coach Kenny Lowe took a strong squad interstate today as preparations for the club’s upcoming FFA Cup tie intensify. Glory meets Adelaide United tomorrow before visiting Melbourne Victory on Sunday. The fixtures will provide valuable game time for the Glory squad ahead of the FFA Cup round of sixteen meeting with Victorian club St Albans on 23 September. Rostyn Griffiths travelled with the squad but is unlikely to play as he recovers from a knee injury, while Sidnei Sciola (hamstring), Ruben Zadkovich (knee) and Daniel De Silva (international duty) are unavailable.

Lowe said most of his key players would see some action over the weekend. “I think everybody’s got to get exposed to A-League quality games, if you want to call it that, to get ready for the season,” Lowe said. “We’ve had a good build-up with Newcastle, Malaga and some games against teams from the local competition, which has been great because it allows us to get moving in patterns. The whole focus is the FFA Cup game and then we get a bit of a breather for a few weeks before the lead-in to the A-League season.”

Glory have been doing their homework on St Albans, who play in the third-tier of the Victorian league. The Saints sit third on the league table with four rounds to play and qualified for the FFA Cup round of 16 with a win over Parramatta last month. Glory will send a member of the coaching staff to Melbourne in the coming weeks see their opponents in action. “We’ll take their games in and we’ve spoken to a fair amount of people,” Lowe said. “Someone from the staff will get to see them play.”

Lowe has is happy with where his squad, which features eight new players, is positioned heading into the 2014/15 season. “We’re very pleased with the boys,” Lowe said. “They all came back in a professional manner with minimum weight and skin fold gain. We set targets with regards to (aerobic speed) running and all of those have been exceeded. We use GPS and hear-rate monitors every session and there’s nowhere to hide for anyone anyway, and you can see that in the shape of the boys.”

3.9.2014

COACH EXCITED BY DE VANNA

Melbourne Victory’s push for back-to-back W-League titles has received a massive boost with news star striker Lisa De Vanna is returning to the club. New Melbourne coach Joe Montemurro said De Vanna’s re-signing was significant in light of her contribution of eight goals from fourteen outings last summer. “Lisa is one of the most decorated players in Australian football and we’re happy to have her not only as a player but as a character,” Montemurro said. “She’s a great addition to the team so we’re very excited to have her back.”

Montemurro, whose team kick-off the new season against Newcastle Jets next weekend, welcomed the challenges of taking over the reigning league champions. “I’m actually looking forward to the challenge,” he said. “Obviously the expectations are there and I don’t think that we’ve left any stone unturned in regards to making sure that we’re ready to go for round one. Yes, everyone’s going to come out and try to beat the champions. But I think that’s a massive challenge for me, a massive challenge for the girls and a massive challenge for the club.”

2.9.2014

LYDEN LANDS NEW VILLA DEAL

Young midfielder Jordan Lyden is closing in on selection for Aston Villa's first team squad after signing a two-year extension to his existing three-season deal with the English Premier League club. The 18-year old former ECU Joondalup junior will now be tied to the club until mid-2017 as coach Paul Lambert rewards his potential. Lyden has been on Villa’s books since he was twelve and is targeting a senior call up this season, as well as a place in the Young Socceroos side which will head to Myanmar in October in a bid to qualify for next year's Under-20 World Cup.

Lyden is understandably thrilled with his new deal. “At the end of last season I was training with the first team every day and the great thing for me is that the boss Paul Lambert has taken a liking to me, which is a massive boost,” he said. “The boss has basically told me to keep pushing myself, knuckle down and to be ready when the opportunity comes. I'd love to make my debut this season but I will need to keep working hard and hopefully push on from there. My immediate ambition is be a part of the Young Socceroos team in October.”

Lyden considers fellow West Australian Chris Herd as his closest friend at Villa, and is delighted to see him fit again. “We were together at Joondalup and he's a class player. He's been a big influence on me and a bit of a role model in many ways over the years,” said Lyden. “We have been close since we were young and he's been looking pretty sharp in training and I know he wants to grab his chance with Australia, and obviously force his way back into the Villa first team.” Herd was recently named in Australia’s squad for upcoming friendlies with Belgium and Saudi Arabia.

31.8.2014

NEVILLE CELEBRATES NEWCASTLE RETURN

Newcastle Jets defender Scott Neville admits he could not sleep before his return from a knee reconstruction against North Queensland All-Stars on Saturday. Not only did Neville get through the game unscathed, he scored with a header in Newcastle’s 3-0 friendly victory. "It was great just to play," Neville said. "I was nervous leading into it. I tossed and turned all night. It was like the night before Christmas when I was young. I was a bit rusty early. I overcooked the first cross and sent it high over the byline. Once I got going, it was business as usual."

Neville, 25, had been sidelined since he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee playing against Melbourne Victory in early December. He resumed full training three weeks ago and had planned to play the opening half hour against the All-Stars. "It was good to actually start and get into the routine of going through the team talk and warming up properly," Neville said. "We had trained in the morning so it was a good test under fatigue. The fitness held up well. It was the sharpness which was a bit down. Making an effort and then getting up and making another effort. The knee held up fine. It was all positive on that front."

31.8.2014

BALCATTA TWO WINS AWAY FROM NPL GLORY (with Aisling Lawless, nplwa.com.au)

Balcatta progressed to the NPL WA preliminary final after conceding an own goal and scoring a penalty in the dramatic closing stages of their 3-1 win over Sorrento at Grindleford Reserve. Ramon Falzon’s side will take on Bayswater next weekend to determine who will meet Perth SC in the Grand Final. Perth shocked Bayswater on Saturday with a 5-0 win that has ensured WA soccer’s big day will be held at Dorrien Gardens. Balcatta led all game thanks to goals either side of half-time from Gustavo Catarcione but conceded in the 92nd minute before captain Adam Tong sealed the win with a penalty a minute later. Defeat ended Sorrento’s season.

Falzon is now confident his side can beat Bayswater after a performance he labeled the best of their season. “We’ve worked hard all year to play the way we did today and it was a solid 90 minutes of good football,” he said. “But it will be a much different Bayswater when we face them. I’ve never seen them beaten that badly. They seemed a bit off the pace and burned out but I think they’ll get up again for next week.”

Sorrento had a free kick in the 10th minute but Scott Bulloch’s free header went beyond the post in an indication of things to come for the visitors. The Gulls had their chances but could not manage to hit the target. Reece Vittiglia’s shot from 25m zipped past the left post in the 26th minute and Bulloch also narrowly missed just before half-time. The home side looked most dangerous and Benny Kouakou came nail-bitingly close to scoring in the 20th minute when he had a free shot right in front of goal but Curtis Aspden kept it out. Catarcione was clinical in front of goal and coolly slotted the ball past Aspden on the half hour mark.

It took him less than 10 minutes after the break to double the lead. Alex Caniglia made a great run into the box and passed to Catarcione, who knocked it into the back of the net with precision. It was looking increasingly difficult for Sorrento to stage a comeback and tensions were raised as time went on. Substitute Jason Mirco added some vigor down the right wing and in the 70th minute Vittiglia forced Balcatta keeper Clint Davies into his first save of the game.

The Gulls gave themselves brief hope in the 92nd minute after Mirco delivered a great ball into the box, which appeared to have been diverted into the net by Brodie Martin but was recorded by the official as an own goal. But it was too little too late for the visitors as a minute later Danny Cain gave away a penalty and Tong confidently put the ball away. Sorrento technical director Steve Neville said the team had made too many defensive errors this season. “We’ve given bad goals away all season and that’s cost us today,” he said. “While we’ve been playing well the last few weeks we didn’t really cause them any problems and never got going. “But we’ve had some good performances this season and we’ll look to improve defensively for next year.”

30.8.2014

DONINGER'S FIVE PUTS PERTH IN GRAND FINAL (with Daryn McCleave, nplwa.com.au)

Mark Doninger helped himself to all five goals in a one-sided major semi-final at Frank Drago Reserve as Perth SC claimed hosting rights in the NPL-WA championship decider in two weeks, after their 5-0 thrashing of Bayswater City. Once Doninger was handily placed to net his first, the Azzurri never looked back. They led 3-0 at the break before a penalty 10 minutes into the second half dashed any hope of a Bayswater comeback with the fifth goal adding a well-deserved gloss to the final score deep into added time.

"It's always a good feeling scoring goals but getting the team through to the final was all that counts really," Doninger said. "Bayswater started well and for the first 15 minutes or so we did well to contain them but once we got the first goal we got on top and built from there. It was a great team performance."

Perth coach Taki Nicolaidis was "over the moon" to be hosting the Grand Final and was full of praise for his squad for their season's efforts so far following a lowly ladder placing last season. "Credit to the group we've got, they've given it their all today, they executed the game-plan to perfection, every one of them did their job," Nicolaidis said "We had a few players out today including Clark Keltie, who's probably the best player in the league this year. We can say we missed him but every single guy out their contributed to this result." "Twelve months ago we were 28 points behind them (Bayswater) so to come here and close that gap is huge credit to the boys.”

The outcome could have been so very different had visiting keeper Francis Soale not been alert within the first two minutes to superbly tip over the bar Paul McCarthy's swerving, dipping shot from the edge of the box. Soale was again called into action to push away Todd Howarth's stinging free-kick but that was about as good as it got for City as Perth, who looked good on the counter in the early stages, took the lead in the 21st minute. The impressive Josh Wilkins delivered a deep cross from the right for Aden Da Luz who saw his shot blocked by Devon Spence but showed great awareness to lay the ball to Doninger from the rebound who squeezed it home from barely a metre out.

There was perhaps a hint of good fortune about the second in the 32nd minute, as a harmless looking shot from around 30 metres deflected off a Bayswater defender into the path of Doninger who steadied himself before calmly side-footing past goalkeeper Devon Spence under pressure from two defenders. Bayswater looked out-of-sorts and the Azzurri went for the kill, Spence denying Andreas Theodosiades before Doninger's hat-trick was completed two minutes before the break. Wilkins' cross-field pass caught the home defence napping, and Doninger coolly lofted the bouncing ball over the on-rushing Spence. Despite a last-ditch attempt on the line to keep it out, Bayswater found themselves with a mountain to climb to rescue their hopes of a home final.

City coach Chris Coyne introduced Gustavo Giron Marulanda for the start of the second half to bolster their attack, but seven minutes after the re-start it was game-over after Chris Saldaris was penalised for handling in the area. With regular penalty taker Keltie out, Doninger stepped up to send Spence the wrong way. Perth were happy to soak up the pressure as Bayswater sought an unlikely way back into the contest, and three minutes into stoppage time Doninger raced away down the left hand side before cutting in and firing in his and the visitors' fifth goal.

Bayswater assistant coach Stewart Moses thought too many players were missing for his side. "It's how we react now during the week,” he said. “Hopefully we bounce back and do it the hard way. We will be training three times next week to prepare for whoever we'll play next Saturday.” Bayswater will have a second chance to reach the Grand Final when they face the winner of today’s minor semi-final between Balcatta and Sorrento in next weekend’s preliminary final.

30.8.2014

ASHFIELD LEAVE IT LATE (by Chris Andrawes, footballwest.com.au)

A last-minute penalty gave Ashfield a vital draw that keeps them at the top of the All Flags State League Division One table with three games to go as they snatched a 1-1 draw against Canning City at Ashfield Reserve. There was controversy with only a minute of regular time left to play, as Ashfield striker James Burns was pushed in the back by Canning’s Mark Trevisiol forcing the referee to award the penalty. Joe Briggs stepped up and put the ball in the back of the net to set up a grandstand finish to the game. Briggs could have won it for Ashfield minutes later as he found himself in on goal. His effort through the keeper’s legs was sensationally cleared off the line by Rory Moutett keeping the scores level at full time.

Ashfield coach Paul Dundo was relieved following the game. “We’re happy with the point, under the circumstances, we failed to take our chances and break a good organised Canning side down” he said. “For us, this season, we’ve been winning and leading in so many games, so when the tables are turned, it’s not panic stations, but we like to be on top of sides and frustration kicks in.”

Canning had taken the lead in the 13th minute through a barrage of shots from different players, before the ball fell to Michael Van Dongen who put the ball into the top corner emphatically. Dundo was full of praise for a strong Canning side. “We’re struggling with a couple of injuries at the moment, but full credit to Canning, they’ve got some experienced players in their side and they had good passages of play,” he said. “At half-time I said to the boys we’re 1-0 down and they’ve really only had one shot and they scored. I felt we were the better side in the first half, it was more even in the second.” “It’s in the boys hands. They’re the only ones who can go and grab it. We’ve just got to go out and win the next three games.”

30.8.2014

CLARKE GOES FOR GLORY

Exciting midfielder Ryan Clarke will come under the close eye of Perth Glory coach Kenny Lowe when the team travels to the southern suburbs this weekend for another vital pre-season hit out. Clarke has been a key part of Inglewood United’s squad since joining the club five years ago and last summer the 27-year old came close to landing a professional deal with Scottish club Greenock Morton. . “He’s been a quality player in the State League,” said Lowe. “I just want to see how he goes at training and see if he can lift a gear … nothing more, I’m not promising or committing to anything.” Clarke is expected to see some game time when Glory take on Division Two side Rockingham City tomorrow at Lark Hill Sportsplex .

30.8.2014

DE SILVA TO BOOST CUP CREDENTIALS

Perth Glory prodigy Daniel De Silva has set his sights on a call-up to the Socceroos squad for next year's Asian Cup but remains focused on furthering his development in the A-League and at junior international level. De Silva, 17, is entering his second full season with Glory, having made his debut in the latter stages of the 2012/13 campaign, and is rated one of Australia's best young prospects. He will spend this season at home with Glory before completing a big move to Serie A club AS Roma next year.

De Silva, a former Stirling Lions junior, will be part of the Young Socceroos squad at the upcoming ASEAN Football Federation Youth Championship in Vietnam and hopes to use the junior team as a launching pad to full international honours. "It's definitely in my sights to be able to go to the Asian Cup, so hopefully if I just keep working hard then something good will come of it," De Silva said. "I've seen a few things in the newspapers but you try not to let that get to you. I would love to be able to play for the Socceroos but at the moment I'm just focusing on the Young Socceroos."




Articles compiled by Brett Klucznik, Paul Oliver and Peter Simcox unless otherwise stated.

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 jacob@footballwa.net

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