SCHOOLS 2000 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
Both the W.A. Schoolboys and Schoolgirls sides competing in the national Championships in Darwin this week enjoyed success.
The boys started their campaign in style with a hard fought one-nil win over the strong Victoria side. With the game headed for a scoreless draw, David Foster got on the end of a Jason Godfrey cross five minutes from full-time to send the three points W.A.'s way. With Rhys Graham, Daniel Kovacevic and Matt Kamasz named amongst the best, it wasn't all smiles in the W.A. camp with injury scares to goalkeeper Robert Pedri and midfielder Louis Elliot.
The following day saw them face the Northern Territory in a match which saw few goal-scoring opportunities, the highlight undoubtedly Foster's second goal in as many days with a stinging shot which flew past the 'keeper to give victory to the lads from the west. Robert Cibesku, Foster, Mitchell Gregory and Louis Elliot were the pick of the crop on this occasion.
Later that same day W.A. took on the powerful New South Wales outfit and ended up on the wrong end of a 1-5 scoreline. With W.A. failing to make the most of the opportunities they were presented with in front of goal, their opponents finishing strongly with some classy play to overrun them in the second half. Derek Cooke grabbed our solitary goal in the hard, toughly contested match in which Graham, Gregory, Foster, and Adam Kiley turned in impressive games. After three games, W.A. sat in equal second position in the standings - New South Wales were undefeated on 9 points, followed by Victoria (6 pts, GD +5) and W.A. (6 pts, GD -2)
Having done the sight-seeing thing on Tuesday thanks to a day off from competition, W.A. returned on Day Four for what promised to be a difficult clash with Queensland who had the day before brushed aside the Northern territory 5-0. In an evenly contested game which produced four goals of the highest calibre, both teams had the opportunity to take the points with Queensland coming away 1-3 victors, Godfrey scoring the reply for the west.
Next up were the team from the Australian Capital Territory in a game that W.A. needed to win to stay in touch with the medal contenders. One-all at the break courtesy of a Graham goal, a controversial second half penalty changed the course of the match to see W.A. go down to their less fancied opponents 1-3, Graham, Brendan Barnes and Johnathon Van Der Voet named amongst the best. On the last day of competition South Australia were the opponents with the local boys hopeful of pulling off their third victory of the week. But, exhausted by the hectic schedule and perhaps lacking the mental toughness of their opponents, it wasn't to be and they ended up on the wrong end of a 0-5 whalloping.
Disappointed at finishing the tournament in 6th place, there was a small pot of gold for the squad when several players were named for international duty. Robert Cibesku was the only Perth-based player selected to take part in the tour of Vanuatu and New Caledonia with the Australian 'A' Schoolboys side later this year. Six other boys - Rhys Graham, David Foster, Jonathon Van Der Voet, Adam Kiley, Jason Godfrey and Robert Pedri - were chosen in the shadow squad for that tour. Of particular note is the efforts of Van Der Voet, a player whose normal position with Swan I.C. is in goal, but appeared for the Schoolboys in defence and has been ear-marked for the future in that capacity.
The 2008 west Australian Schoolboys squad was Mitchell Gregory, Jason Godfrey, Daniel Arias (Inglewood United), Brendon Barnes (Southern Spirit), Derek Cooke, Adam Kiley, Marc Craft (E.C.U. Joondalup), Robert Cibesku (Dianella White Eagles), Louis Elliot (Kingsway Olympic), Jamie MacDonald, Johnathon Van Der Voet (Swan I.C.), Rhys Graham, David Foster, Daniel Kovacevic (Perth S.C.), Matt Kamasz (Fremantle City) and Robert Pedri (Western Knights). The team officials were Tony Ratcliffe (coach) and Marita Ratcliffe (manager).
The Schoolgirls kicked-off their tournament with a convincing 3-1 win over Victoria where the hero was national representative Lisa Devanna who bagged a hat-trick, while N.Poulsen and Lindsey Jobling also put in sterling performances. In a highly entertaining game against the Northern Territory the following morning W.A. made the most of their chances to come away deserved 5-1 victors with K.Woodhouse, Jobling, S.Riley (2) and Devanna getting the goals.
The win was spoiled somewhat by the teams first loss later that day to New South Wales. 0-3 down at one stage, the W.A. girls refused to lie down a accept defeat to fight back as Devanna and Elise Bogle netted to put them back in the contest. But in the end it wasn't enough with the final scoreline 2-3 in New South Wales' favour, the best for W.A. being Stacey Woodfin, Devanna, N.Poulsen, Jobling, T.Burnnand, and Bogle. Like the boys side, the Schoolgirls were in equal second place after three games - New South Wales lead the way with 9 points and were followed by Queensland (6 pts, GD +9) and W.A. (6 pts, GD +4).
The W.A. Schoolgirls also had Tuesday off and took the opportunity to do a spot of travelling around Darwin and it's surrounds. Day Four marked their return to the playing arena for what would prove to be a hard-fought contest with Queensland. Both teams battled hard to break the deadlock but some great goalkeeping from the Queensland custodian and strong defending by W.A. made sure the game ended in a scoreless draw, Devanna again named amongst the best players on the day.
The following day the girls put ten past the Australian Capital Territory - Woodfin, A.Kane (2), Jobling, Devanna (4), Bogle and Poulsen getting their names on the scoresheet - as W.A. triumphed 10-1 to stay in the running for a medal. It was no surprise when Devanna was again named best on field with other outstanding efforts from Jobling, Woodfin and Poulsen.
The girls final game against South Australia was make or break time. Neck and neck with Queensland on the table, they needed to win by six clear goals to steal the silver medal. And they did just that with style, sweeping aside their opponents to recording a double figures score line for the second time, this one by 10-nil. With the silver medal under the belt, there were further honours Lindsey Jobling and Lisa Devanna made the Australian Schoolgirls squad of 16 with Gemma Langley and Tobie Bernard in the shadow line-up.
The 2008 west Australian Schoolgirls squad was Elise Bogle, Amanada Tana (Sorrento), Tobie Burnnand (Karratha), Domanique Dos Santos, Lindsay Lobling (Lynwood), Lisa Devanna (Murdoch), Ashley Kane, Gemma Langley (Floreat Athena), Sian Meyer (Margaret River), Kerryn Phillips, Nadia Poulsen, Stacey Woodfin (Queens Park), Stacey Riley (Balga), Kylie Woodhouse (Cockburn), Elena Fantasia and Helen Carroll (clubs unknown). The team officials were Wayne Baseden (coach) and Aric Foreman (manager).
TO THE WIRE
Top spot in both the Premier League and the First Division are still up for grabs going into the final round of the regular winter season. Three teams are in the running for the No.1 position in the Premier League, while the two-way battle between Bassendean Caledonian and the Stirling Lions in the First Division will be resolved when they meet each other on Saturday.
Don't be surprised if ECU Joondalup overthrow Fremantle City this weekend such has been their erratic form over the past five weeks. They've come away with some commanding wins over that period but have also crashed in devastating fashion, most notably to Swan I.C. (5-2) and Floreat Athena (4-0). For their part, Fremantle seem to have overcome their late season slump with three wins in as many weeks and must be considered favourites for the minor premiership at this stage.
The Western Knights will make sure the battle for No.1 goes down to the wire when they take on Ashfield/Bunbury. The Knights are undefeated in their past seven outings, which includes wins over fellow Top Five contenders Inglewood United and Perth, and are the form team going into the play-offs. They won't be expecting too much resistance from a side who've experienced a shocking second half to the season - in second spot after nine games, Ashfield/Bunbury have taken just two points from their past twelve outings, scoring only four times over that period. Unable to find the net over the past five weeks, Ashfield/Bunbury head into the weekend knowing their short time in the top flight is coming to an end.
Perth have made a fantastic end of season charge and go into the round with an outside chance of stealing top spot - providing both Fremantle and the Knights lose. They face Swan on Sunday in what looks to be the game of the round. Perth have lost just once since the half-way stage of the season and are coming off five consecutive wins. But Swan are on a role also, recording two strong victories in the last week over Joondalup (5-2) and the Bayswater City Panthers (7-1).
Leaders only a matter of weeks ago, Inglewood United will be looking for a win over Bayswater in order to hopefully steal 3rd spot from Perth. Inglewood are coming off two consecutive losses and seeking a big win in order to sound a warning to the other finals contenders. They met a Bayswater team experiencing a mixed month which has seen them pull away from the foot of the ladder courtesy of two victories, but they've also been on the receiving end of two 7-1 hammerings. No matter of the outcome, Inglewood are assured of a play-offs berth while Bayswater will be playing next season in the First Division.
The two remaining games this weekend are dead rubbers as far as influencing the play-off and relegation spots. Cockburn City and Sorrento will both be playing for pride while Floreat Athena will be hoping to end a disappointing campaign with a resounding win over bottom team Rockingham City.
In the First Division, promotion to the top flight will be the prize when leaders the Stirling Lions travel to face 2nd placed Bassendean Caledonian. Both teams must have thought they'd blown their chances last weekend - the Lions drew 2-2 with the Stirling Suns while Caledonian went down 0-1 against 7th placed Wanneroo City. Going into the weekend, the Lions hold a two point advantage over their rivals in a game which will make or break the season for one of it's competitors.
AMATEURS TO INDONESIA
The W.A. Amateur team will head to Surabaya, Indonesia in the middle of next month to take part in the Pardede Cup tournament in Medan. The squad selected for the trip is - M.Cockburn, Dean Gartside (Cockburn City Amateurs), G.Bramwell, C.Darling, John McCracken, Christian Paschkewitz (ECU Joondalup Amateurs), P.Davey, R.Santich (Fremantle United), A Rose (Joondalup United), Christopher Atkins (Kwinana United), Michael Bobridge, A.Rennie (Mandurah City), J.Dixon, M.Kendall, Gary Mayers, A.Van Lieshout (Murdoch University), Charley Jensen (Perth Azzurri) and B.Spinks (South Perth United).
CAMPBELL AIMS FOR NO.1
With the Premier league coming to it's conclusion this weekend, the Western Knights coach Ronnie Campbell is over the moon with how his team have fought their way back into contention for the title. "The boys have done really well. It looked like maybe five or six weeks ago that we were out of it, eight points behind Fremantle City but we're obviously on equal points now. We'd like to finish top, if you finish top of the League - minor premiers they call it here - but that decides really who the best team is and the most consistent team is and we'd certainly like to finish top."
Attacking midfielder Joe Vaz headed to Portugal some time ago for trials with Sporting Lisbon and F.C. Porto amongst others. Vaz played a major part in the teams success this season but Campbell is resigned that he will play no further part in the team's quest for silverware this season. "We're delighted for Joe. I mean last season I thought Joe and Adrian Caceras were the best two youngsters in the League and we tried to sign both of them. We managed to get Joe but he's over in Portugal at the moment, and we heard about Adrian this week which is really good news. I've always liked Joe as a player, I've always thought he was very skillful and he could score goals and make goals. He's really worked hard this year and has got a good attitude, he's an excellent player to coach and I hope he makes it to the bigger stage."
INGLEWOOD NO ONE-MAN TEAM
The past month has not been a happy period for Inglewood United who have slipping from top spot on the Premier League ladder to fourth place after a run of poor results. Coach John Hunter has relied on a strong, stable defensive line-up for much of the campaign, but a recent run of bad luck has seen those players out of action through injury, suspension and State duty.
Goalkeeper Robert Zabica is one of those players - he missed much of the vital clashes with Fremantle City and Western Knights - fuelling speculation that perhaps Inglewood rely too heavily on the former Socceroo, an idea Hunter finds laughable. "Robbie's been great for us this season, he's the best 'keeper in the state and he's second to none, he's got a great reputation. We've only conceded 15-18 goals but we've scored more than 30 goals and you know Robbie hasn't scored one of those goals. Once he scores maybe we'll think about giving him improved player. As I said, we've scored over 30 goals so we're not a one-man team."
Last season Inglewood United finished in seventh place and well out of the running for a spot in the Top Five play-offs. Hunter has challenged his players this year with a different approach, one which has seen a marked improvement in their fortunes as the end of season play-offs loom. "I like to try and improve the players and their playing style rather than just work on kicking the ball long and try and play the percentage game. Each coach has a different, players have different styles and I believe if you can get the best out of the players you're doing a reasonable job and then the players take over from there. The players are enjoying playing this style and I learnt a wee bit from a coach over the summer and I've tried to take some good points from him and it seems to have worked."
And the future of the club is looking bright following the implementation of a successful youth development policy. In the past few months alone Inglewood have provided several players for State junior teams including Damir Kuduzovic and Stefan Smiljanvic (Under-15), Michael Bushby (Under-16) and Mitchell Gregory, Daniel Arias and Jason Godfrey (Schoolboys). "We've got young players that can come in and have got a future and I'm quite confident that they'll do a good job," said Hunter of the club's young guns. "I believe in them and the good thing is that they actually believe in themselves which is great for a young kid."
PETKOVIC BACK AT SOUTH
Having spent the winter playing in the local competition with Cockburn City, former Socceroo 'keeper Michael Petkovic has re-joined South Melbourne on a one-year deal. The two time NSL Goalkeeper of the Year has decided to return to the club after a disastrous spell in France which saw him miss a season of football due to difficulties in obtaining an international clearance which would have seen him join F.C. Strasbourg. "I'm just looking forward to getting back on the park and playing again," said Petkovic. "Strasbourg are a very big and professional club, and I learnt a lot from being overseas. Many people have told me that I should've stayed (at South Melbourne) and played at the World Club Championships in Brazil, but the decision I made was right at the time and the only regret I have is leaving the club and my teammates. All that aside, I'm very happy to be back at South Melbourne."
A TEMPORARY TRUCE
The Be Active foundation have brought about an temporary truce between Soccer West Coast and Perth Glory with the announcement of the pre-Olympic Festival Of Sport 2000 tournament being held in a fortnight. Organisers have invited Soccer West Coast to stage the Boral Cup semi-final between Sorrento and Fremantle City as the curtain raiser for the Perth Glory-Slovakia friendly at the WACA Ground on Saturday 9th September. It will mark the first occasion Soccer West Coast and Perth Glory have agreed to put their differences aside and work together to promote the sport in this state. The other semi-final between Western Knights and Ashfield/Bunbury will be held the following day at Dorrien Gardens.
JUNIOR TOURNAMENT FOR PERTH?
Mike Anderton is hopeful that the Junior Soccer Association will be able to attract a number of overseas clubs to participate in a junior tournament in Perth sometime next year. Anderton was part of the coaching staff that went to Manchester last month where the W.A. Under-16's took out the Sportman's Plate at the Umbro International tournament. "I had a number of clubs, states and national squads from different countries approach us to ask what is available in Australia. It seems that Australia is a place of interest and obviously the Olympics have drawn it to everyone's attention," he said this week. "It's quite interesting to see the set-up for the American sides, they seem to be all over the place, all with English coaches or European coaches running them as academies and such and they all want to come out to Australia. So we'll certainly be looking hard in the close season at what we're required to do - we've got the contacts of different people in different countries - obviously we need to find out what sort of timelines are available and what we can do to bring them all together."
CELLULAR ONE PREMIER LEAGUE
Playing with the home advantage, Perth kept alive it's slender hopes of winning the minor crown with a 3-1 win over Cockburn City to move into third spot. The game began full of promise with both sides playing attractive football in the first half and it was Perth who set up most of the scoring chances. Shots went just wide or were well saved by young 'keeper Tommy Tomich but the home team finally found a way through to goal one minute before half-time - a fine centre by Vince Tana picked out Mark Pottier who hammered home a stinging right foot volley. Cockburn came out searching for an equaliser in the second period and were duly rewarded when a defensive slip allowed Branimir Mikulic to flick the ball over Tommy Maras and into the back of the net. The visitors almost took the lead soon after when Paul Cooke's header thumped back off the bar. Perth fought back and reclaimed the lead after a fine move released Jamie Coyne down on the right, the midfielder taking the ball into the area before unleashing a strong drive past Tomich. Cockburn were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty when Pablo Caceras was brought down in the box, referee Angelo Nardi instead giving a free-kick which Maras easily saved. The Perth 'keeper m ade several fine low saves as Cockburn tried to find a second goal, but it came as no surprise when Steve Willey broke down the right and centred for substitute Dario Pellicciotti to score his first senior goal and wrap the points up late in the contest.
Fremantle City travelled to Ashfield Reserve without striker Kevin Correia but still hopeful of a big win to stay ahead of the chasing pack. But they found the going tough against an Ashfield/Bunbury team that had not found the net in their past four outings. But despite dominating the game for long periods, a single goal struck from long-range by John Mirco after 20 minutes enabled Fremantle to stay in top spot.
Goals from Kevin Murphy and Todd Harnwell saw Sorrento account for bottom club Rockingham City. And it looked as though Floreat Athena were going to make hard work of ensuring their survival in the Premier League when they led ECU Joondalup 1-0 at the break thanks to a Robyn Dyers strike. But Athena took control after the interval and displayed the sort of form which won them the pre-season Night Series with further goals from Dyers, New Zealander international Adrian Sutton and midfielder Kevin Smith making sure of the points and the club's future in the top flight.
The competition's surprise early season leader, Swan I.C., completed a sensational fighting recovery to overcome their mid-season slump and nail a spot in the Top Five play-offs with a 7-1 home thrashing of the Bayswater City Panthers on Sunday. The game was over by the break with the 5-0 margin reflecting the difference between the two teams as veteran striker Nigel Aubin took his season tally to 16 goals with a first half hat-trick. Dale Wingell and Eddie Mura also got on the scoresheet with stunning long range shots. The second half proved to be little more than a training run for Swan with teenagers Daniel Sheppeard and Anthony Jones adding a goal each to give the home side their biggest win of the season. Bayswater's consolation came from a glancing header by youngster Alex Jankulovski.
INGLEWOOD UNITED vs WESTERN KNIGHTS
The importance of the weekend's fixtures was not lost on anyone who had even the remotest of interest in the local competition. With two games remaining, three points separated the top four clubs - Fremantle City, the Western Knights, Inglewood United and Perth - and a win for either of these could put them in the box seat going into the final round, while a loss would effectively kill off hopes of finishing on top of the ladder.
At Kiev Sports Ground on Saturday it was 2nd verses 3rd - the Knights verses United - in the much hyped game of the round. Speaking on Perth radio earlier in the morning, both coaches highlieghted the need for their side to win, a draw would do no favours to either team with leaders Fremantle City playing third from bottom Ashfield/Bunbury only a few kilometres down the road.
While the visitors were at full strength, United had troubles in their defence which has been the backbone of the team this winter. Former Socceroo Robert Zabica was out after being red carded the previous weekend, allowing 17-year old 'keeper Oliver Taseski to make his starting debut in the senior team. Also missing was experienced defender Alex Cummings, who was getting married, and regular replacement defender Jason Godfrey, away with the State Schoolboys. As if that wasn't enough, Micheal Di Fulvio pulled a hamstring minutes into the second half of the Under-21's clash and so didn't take his expected place on the bench. Jamie Goodman, who missed last week's game due to injury, was a late inclusion as coach John Hunter looked high and low to add strength to his backline.
It was the visitors asserted their presence on this match from the opening kick, immediately playing themselves into attack with the expressed desire for an early opener. It almost came after eight minutes when Shane McNally back-healed into the path John Nicolaou who outpaced the defence to be first to the ball. With Steve MacDonald closing fast, the Knights striker unselfishly knocked it back to McNally who sent a grass-cutting shot narrowly wide of the up-right.
It was all one way traffic with the Knights well in control. Carl Medica, Ray Marinovic and Scott Devine dominated the middle of the park and attacking midfielder Dean Nicolaou was causing the opposing defence all sorts of problems with some penetrating runs. United's only counter to the Knights quick interchange of passes through the midfield was to spring the off-side trap, which they did with efficiency and regularity. And on the few occasions this failed, the safe hands of Taseski would pluck the ball from the air much to the delight of the small home crowd.
The pace of the game did not suit United's usual style of play and they found themselves harried into making elemental mistakes a very fit and determined Knights outfit. Utilising a four man defence, Hunter's team struggled to come to terms with the unfamiliar formation and were further hampered with regular contributors Ryan Newhill and Lee Crosby kept well out of the action. Every time the side went into attack they encountered a resilient Knights backline in which Ivan Ljubicic and Andy Wright stood firm in the centre.
With genuine goal scoring opportunities quite rare in the opening 35 minutes, a sense of urgency crept into the game as the half time break beckoned. Both sides had several chances to opening the scoring, the first coming the way of the visiting team in the 37th minute when Taseski mis-judged a corner, it into John Nicolaou who couldn't get much power behind his shot and Jamie D'Arcy thumped the ball to safety from the line.
Within 60 seconds United had raced the ball to the other end and tucked it away with pretty much their first shot on target. Alex Josifovski found the back of the net when a fantastic long cross-field ball from Newhill found him lurking 12 metres from goal and the forward gave Darren Williams no chance of saving as he powered it over the line. Williams had been rarely called upon before the goal which came completely against the run of play and resulted in the Knights stepping up gear.
And it didn't take long - three minutes in fact - for the visitors to be back on level terms. Dean Nicolaou ran onto a great chip over the United backline but took too long in lining up the bouncing ball, allowing Goodman to knock it out for a corner. Ray Marinovic floated it to the near post where the ball skimmed the heads of Christie, John Nicolaou and McNally who appeared to have got the final touch and knock it over the line (the goal was actually credited to Nicolaou). It wasn't a pretty goal by any means but it was exactly what the Knights needed with half-time approaching. And they would have gone in a goal up if not for an alert Taseski. Carl Medica curled the ball into the area where Dean Nicolaou's strong volley was smothered off the boot by the United 'keeper who showed great maturity and reading of the game to race off his line and take matters into his own hands.
While the first half was tightly contested with neither team giving much away, the second period saw the play open up a little and more chances on goal. Twelve minutes after the re-start Taseski was again United's saviour, this time pulling off a great save from a thunderous, close range McNally volley. And not long after the action was at the other end as Crosby hammered wide a free shot on goal from the top of the 18 yard box.
In the 69th minute the Knights felt hard done by when their appeals for a penalty were waved away by referee Eddie Lennie after Goodman accidentally handballed inside the box - it was definitely handball, but considering Goodman had his back to the ball when he was struck the correct decision was made. The disgruntled boo's from the travelling supporters were still ringing out when McNally took the ball deep down the left wing and pulled it back towards Marinovic who was racing into the box. Goodman stepped in between the two to intercept but amazing over-ran the ball and could only watch as it rolled to the Knights midfielder who made no mistake from close range with only the 'keeper to beat.
It didn't take long for the Knights substitute Eugene Singeorzan to get involved in the action, five minutes after coming on he pounced on a loose ball and from 9 metres pumped it goalward where Taseski produced another fine save. United were relying on their off-side trap with alarming regularity and it seemed only a matter of time before their pacey opponents would break clear for the sealer. But in the 81st minute United pulled level, again against the run of play. A corner into the heart of the 6 yard box was punched clear by Williams but only as far as Josifovski who headed it back into the dangerzone. It picked out Newhill in the crowded area and he flicked the ball over the Knights 'keeper to put the home team back in the contest.
The goal sparked life into both sides - United as they saw an opportunity to snatch maximum points and the Knights who were until now looking like holding on for a win. The final 10 minutes was played on weary legs and saw the ball raced from one end to the other at a ferocious pace. Paul Lincoln beat his marker to a centre from Harrop but the United striker mis-timed the shot - Singeorzan drove a bouncing ball across the face of goal - and substitute for the home side Taki Nicolaides tried his luck from long range but shot over.
Then, with the full time whistle only a minute away, the Knights were awarded a free-kick 22 metres from goal. McNally played it flat to the far post where Singeorzan and McNally were lurking with menace, the pair struggled to get the ball under control and eventually Singeorzan took the initiative to drill it past Taseski from a fourty-five degree angle. Heads instantly dropped in the United camp as they had no-one to blame but themselves for the goal - their defence was caught ball watching as the free-kick came into the box and they were slow to react when the Knights pair looked to have messed up the opportunity.
And with the whistle, which followed shortly after, came contrasting emotions. The Knights players leapt into each others arms having snatched victory when all seemed lost, safe in the knowledge that they could do the same with top spot on the ladder. For the losing team however, all was lost - they trudged from the ground devastated not only to have lost in such circumstances, but also realising that they'd missed out on the double chance which comes with finishing in one of the first two positions.
It was a highly entertaining game (quite possibly the best I've seen this winter) which more than lived up to pre-match expectations. The Knights took the game to their opponents from the opening minute and always looked the more determined to come away with the result. While it was difficult to single out individuals in their camp - it was a true team in every sense of the term - strongly built defender Ljubicic put in a Herculean effort to cut out the options up front for United and deserved the man-of-the-match award. Dean Nicolaou also rated amongst the best on the park with other strong contributions from Devine and Medica.
For the home team special mention goes to Taseski who played a great game in goal. Coming into the team at the business end of the season and with so much riding on the outcome of this game, he displayed a confidence beyond his tender years and showed that he does have a bright future ahead. Others who did well despite being under pressure for much of the game were Goodman, D'Arcy and Andrews.
Inglewood United : Oliver Taseski, Jamie Goodman, Steve MacDonald, Jamie D'Arcy, Gary Andrews,
Daniel Harrop (Ross Donnelly 86), Drew Carruthers (Gary Jamieson 76), Lee Crosby, Ryan Newhill
(Taki Nicolaides 83), Alex Josifovski, Paul Lincoln
Western Knights : Darren Williams, Ivan Ljubicic, Andy Wright, Leon Russell, Alex Christie, Ray Marinovic (David Annall 90), Carl Medica (Eugene Singeorzan 69), Scott Devine, Dean Nicolaou, Shane McNally, John Nicolaou
Referee : Eddie Lennie
Cautions : MacDonald (20), Christie (58), McNally (87)
Dismissals : None
Attendance : 300 (approx.)
CACERAS BECOMES A SAINT
Perth teenage sensation Adrian Caceres has joined English Premier League club Southampton on a three year contract worth around $100,000. His local club will receive approximately $70,000 for his transfer with the balance to follow after Caceres plays a certain number of games with the Saints. There is also a substantial sell-on clause in his contract which could net Perth even more for their home-grown youngster.
The 18-year old striker headed to the UK some six weeks ago and immediately impressed the coaching staff at Southampton who in turn requested he stay on for further trials. With several more reserve team games under his belt, manager Glenn Hoddle last week offered Caceras a deal too good to refuse. He is the second player from Perth to join the English club in the past few weeks with 16-year old Darren Broxton agreeing terms on a three-year contract in June. Another local lad, ECU Joondalup teenage midfielder Sean Kilkenny is also currently on trial at the Dell.
Fremantle City striker Kevin Correia this week headed to Sydney for a week's work-out with Northern Spirit. But he is expected to return to Perth early next week without anything concrete on the table after the club discovered he was carrying a groin injury and told to rest for a month before again trying his luck with the club. Correia has been playing with Fremantle since May when he returned from Portugal where he's half-way through a two year contract with First Division outfit Maritimo. Spirit originally expressed their interest in the striker when he was playing for Fremantle in the local competition last season but Correia opted to pursue a career in Europe over the NSL clubs offer. A key figure in the Fremantle's side this winter, it is believed Correia would take up an offer to play in the NSL over his career in Portugal which is at a stand-still at the moment, yet to figure in first team action.
Also rumoured to be heading east is Perth forward Nick Mrdja who is hoping for a second chance to impress in the national competition with the Adelaide City Force. Mrdja came back to W.A. this winter after two seasons with Canberra Cosmos over which time he made only three appearances. In a season punctuated by injury, the striker has performed well with Perth where he's found the back of the net with some regularity.
CELLULAR ONE PREMIER LEAGUE
In the re-scheduled Round 18 game, Swan I.C. made easy work of ECU Joondalup to run out 5-2 winners. The visitors were under the hammer for much of the 90 minutes with two goals from Nigel Aubin and singles to Rory Mouttet, James Dimmock and Dale Wingell enough to see Swan take out the points. ECU's goals came via leading scorer Carl McDarby and defender Jamie Kuzmanovic. A win against the Bayswater City Panthers this weekend will give Swan I.C. a place in the finals in their first year back in the Premier League.
CELLULAR ONE PREMIER LEAGUE LEADING SCORERS
Nigel Aubin Swan I.C. 13 John Nicoloau Western Knights 13 Carl McDarby ECU Joondalup 12 Trim Morgan Fremantle City 11 Robin Dyers Floreat Athena 10 Paul Lincoln Inglewood United 10 Peter Petkovic Cockburn City 10 Antonio Naglieri Cockburn City 9 Eugene Singeorzan Western Knights 8 Hamilton Thorp Sorrento 8 Adrian Caceras Perth 7 Savo Garic Ashfield/Bunbury 7 Joe Vaz Western Knights 723.8.2000
15-year old Jordan Rhodes has signed schoolboy forms for English Premier League club Charlton Athletic. Hailing from Mandurah where he played most of his early years with Mandurah City, Rhodes has just returned from the Northern Ireland Milk Cup tournament where Charlton won the Under-15 trophy. This is Rhodes' third spell with the club where he is hoping to see out the 2000/2001 season.
COYNE DROPS OUT OF OLYROO SQUAD
Former Kingsway Olympic and Perth Italia defender Chris Coyne has turned down the opportunity to be part of Australia's Olympic Games campaign, instead opting to pursue his career at club level. Coyne was one of four players selected as standby members of the Olympic team that declined the invitation, the others involved being Jacob Burns, Peter Zois and Ivan Zelic.
Now with Scottish outfit Dundee, Coyne defended his decision in the face of some stanch media criticism. "I'd be lying if I said this has been easy for me but I have made up my mind that I have to stay put," he said. "The Olympics is a big, big deal and of course it would be fantastic for me to be a part of it all, especially in my home country. Our guys are going to be playing in front of crowds of up to 100,000 in matches screened to worldwide audiences. Had I gone over there as a standby there was an outside chance I could have played in those games. Unfortunately, it is not on. I am a footballer and the bottom line is that it is Dundee who pay my wages, not Australia. It wouldn't be right to go round the world and miss several weeks of the season for something that might never come off. My main focus is Dundee and helping us get back the form we showed in the first couple of games this season."
Coyne's manager Frank Trimboli pointed out that the defender had put his country first earlier in the year and to the detriment of his developing career at West Ham by playing in a four nations tournament in Adelaide. "He spoke to all the relevant people and it was done the right way," Trimboli said. "No-one should doubt that playing for his country is very important to him. Chris has done everything by the book, as far as Soccer Australia is concerned. The Olympics have always been his number one priority and, had he been selected as a full team member (rather than a stand-by player) nothing would stand in his way."
JUNIOR BODY REJOINS SAWA
At a meeting of the Junior Soccer Association's council last weekend it was decided that, in the interest of the game in W.A., the JSA will remain a member of the Soccer Administration of Western Australia. The junior body has since advised SAWA that they wish to withdraw their resignation of earlier in the year.
Although the JSA still has many concerns regarding SAWA, it is of the belief that being aligned with the SAWA is a positive move towards bringing about the reforms outlined in the Government Taskforce Report. There have been indications from the state's controlling body concerning a move towards an overall structure in W.A. will incorporate the junior game being operated by and under the guidance of Soccer West Coast and the Western Australian Amateur and Social Soccer Association. The JSA have scheduled a meeting on Saturday 2nd September at the Film & Television Institute in Fremantle with club officials to discuss the issues facing the game.
THREE BOYS MAKE NATIONAL SQUAD
Three Perth boys have been invited to attend the Joeys training camp in New South Wales as part of preparations for the Under-17 World Championship Qualifiers, to be held in December this year. ECU Joondalup trio Louis Parkinson, Anthony Danze and Ryan Fredericks were called up by coach Ange Postecoglou as part of his 27-man squad to take part in three friendly games set down for this week at Valentine Park, home of the N.S.W. Soccer Federation.
FREMANTLE STILL IN THE RUNNING
Despite some indifferent form over the past month, Fremantle City coach Stuart Kamasz believes his side are still well in contention to take out the Cellular One Premier League crown. At one stage with a seven point break over their nearest rival at the top of the ladder, Fremantle are now trailing pacesetters Western Knights by two points with only three games left in the season. "We had a few indifferent games and some bad luck," said Kamasz. "I reckon we've got to win our last three, It's a tough call but there's been a refreshing spark in training this week and I feel the lads are up for it."
CELLULAR ONE PREMIER LEAGUE
Fremantle City reclaimed top spot on the weekend with a 3-0 victory over Inglewood United in front of a vocal home crowd at Ken Allen Field. The home side were buoyed by the return from injury of evergreen attacking midfielder Steve Bourne, while Inglewood went into the clash with injury clouds hanging over defender Jamie Goodman and leading scorer Paul Lincoln. The visitors woes were compounded when reduced to ten men after the dismissal of goalkeeper Robert Zabica in the 20th minute when he was adjudged to have illegally brought down Kevin Correia just outside the area. The resulting free-kick was handled by Ryan Newhill inside the box, and Steve Bourne calmly slotted his side ahead to add salt to Inglewood's wounds. With Fremantle's lead looking uncertain as Inglewood threw everything forward to an effort to find the equaliser, coach Stuart Kamasz made a match-winning move with the late introduction of teenage substitutes Anthone Pereira (18) and Joe Liguan (16). The pair's enthusiasm sparked a resurgence from the rest of the side with the pacy Liguan brilliantly setting-up Pereira to score the all-important second goal after 80 minutes. The game was put beyond any shadow of a doubt not long after when Bourne converted a second spot-kick.
The lead changed hands when previous leaders the Western Knights were held to a nil-all draw with Swan I.C. at the Italian Club. Coming off a five-match winning streak but without suspended duo Carl Medica and Dean Nicolaou, it was expected that the Knights would cruise to victory going on the recent form of both sides. And it looked only a matter of time before the visitors found the net, dominating the first half with wave after wave of attack only to be denied by a mixture of resolute defending and poor finishing. With both their first and second choice goalkeepers away, Swan recalled Slaven Zloick who has only recently returned to the club after a year's absence. Along with defenders Chris Perks and Darren Freeman and sweeper Carlo Scali, Zloick was able to keep the Knights potent forward line at bay in a sterling defensive display. The second half was a complete reversal of the first - Swan went on the attack from the opening minute and had the Knights under the hammer for much of the next 45 minutes. They went close to scoring when a Scali cross found Dale Wingell only for it to come back off the crossbar. But like Swan in the first half, the Knights relied heavily on a solid defence to repel their opponents attacks.
Perth moved to within three points of the lead when they brushed aside Rockingham City, David Onoforo netting once either side of the break for the home side. The second half introduction of Nick Mrdja worked to great effect for Perth, opening up the Rockingham defence and setting up Onoforo with the simple chance to score their side's second goal. The win sealed Perth's spot in the top five play-offs and made sure they can finish no lower than fourth on the ladder.
The battle for fifth spot between Swan I.C. and ECU Joondalup intensified following the champions 2-0 home win over Ashfield/Bunbury. Goals from teenager Anthony Danze and Sean Fallon in the second half getting seeing the team move into contention for a play-off berth. The top five could well be decided on Wednesday night (23rd August) when Swan I.C. hosts Joondalup in a re-arranged fixture to be played under lights at the Italian Club.
In other weekend action, Sorrento extended a 2-1 half time lead into a 4-2 victory over Floreat Athena. Ryan Jeans (2), Trevor Morgan and Todd Harnwell netting for Sorrento as they moved into seventh place and an outside chance of making the play-offs. Returning from suspension, Doug Ithier bagged both goals for Athena. And the Bayswater City Panthers continued their late season revival with a 3-2 triumph over Cockburn City to halt that side's recent progression up the ladder. With the scores level at the break, it was a double from young striker Michael Catalano and a converted penalty from Dom Ando that got Bayswater over the line, Peter Petkovic and Jason Faria replying for the visiting team.
IT'S HOTTING UP AT THE TOP
As the season comes to a close, the race for both the Premier League and the First Division titles are still wide open. In the Premier League, the top three clubs are separated by just two points with all three sides coming up against stiff opposition in coming weeks. The Western Knights must be the clear favourites to go on with the job having won their past five encounters and with fixtures against Swan I.C. (5th), Inglewood United (2nd) and Ashfield/Bunbury (10th). Second placed Inglewood have gone nine games since losing and are this week on the road against Fremantle City (3rd) before home clashes with the Knights (1st) and the Bayswater City Panthers (11th). Of the top three, Fremantle have theoretically the easiest run and could nab the runners-up spot as they take on Inglewood (2nd), Ashfield/Bunbury (10th) and ECU Joondalup (7th).
It's just as tight at the top of the First Division where a single point separates the Stirling Lions and Bassendean Caledonian. At this stage the money is on the Lions - who were controversially relegated on eve of the season over the non-payment of fees - to return to the top flight as they play Balcatta (10th) and the Stirling Suns (5th) before the end of season finale against Caledonian (2nd). Caledonian meanwhile must overcome Kingsway Olympic (6th), Wanneroo City (8th) and the Lions (1st) if they want to take out the crown.
SCHOOLBOYS OFF TO DARWIN
The W.A. State Schoolboys side fly out to to the Northern Territory this week to participate in the 2000 Australian National Championship. Contested at Darwin's Marrara Sports Complex, the tournament will last a week, kicking-off on Saturday 19th August. Western Australia have been drawn in the same group as the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, the Northern Territory, Queensland and South Australia.
Two members of the W.A. side - Robert Pedri and Adam Kiley - will head to Dili, East Timor at the conclusion of the event as part of the Australian Schoolboys team on a goodwill sporting mission to the troubled territory. They will play the first nationally selected East Timorese team at the reconstructed Dili Stadium, participate in coaching clinics and visit Dili and its surrounds.
|1||Mitchell Gregory||Saftey Bay S.H.S.||Inglewood United||Goalkeeper|
|2||Brendon Barnes||Winthrop College||Southern Spirit||Forward|
|3||Derek Cooke||Prendiville College||ECU Joondalup||Midfield|
|4||Adam Kiley||Prendiville College||ECU Joondalup||Defence|
|5||Robert Gibeski||Morley S.H.S.||Dianella White Eagles|
|6||Louis Elliot (vc)||Tuart College||Kingsway Olympic||Midfield/Forward|
|7||Jamie MacDonald||Forrestfield S.H.S.||Swan I.C.||Midfield|
|8||Jason Godfrey (c)||Forrestfield S.H.S.||Inglewood United||Defence|
|9||Daniel Arias||Chisholm College||Inglewood United|
|10||Rhys Graham||Trinity College||Perth|
|11||David Foster||St Marks||Sorrento||Midfield/Forward|
|12||Marc Craft||John Curtin S.H.S.||ECU Joondalup|
|13||Daniel Kovacevic||Morley S.H.S.||Perth||Defence|
|14||Johnathon Van Der Voet||Morley S.H.S.||Swan I.C.||Midfield|
|15||Matt Kamasz||North Lake||Fremantle City||Midfield|
|16||Robert Pedri (vc)||Seton College||Western Knights||Goalkeeper|
CALEDONIAN COACH HOPEFUL
The last time Bassendean Caledonian won a trophy was 1992 when they took out the then PSL Second Division by sweeping all before them, losing just once in 18 games to earn their place in the old First Division. But their stay in the top flight lasted just one season, winning only six games from 26 outings to finish the campaign second from bottom and relegated to where they came from.
The 2000 season has seen the club ride the crest of a wave which coach Barry Smith believes will take Caledonian back into the Premier League. The have club enjoyed an unbeaten 10 game streak over recent months which saw them and the Stirling Lions break away at the top of the table in a battle for the cherished No.1 position. Having held off the Lions for much of that time, last weekend Caledonian crashed 3-1 to fourth placed the Dianella White Eagles, conceding top spot in the process.
With three rounds remaining, the path for Caledonian to win promotion over the Lions isn't going to be easy. It starts this week with the home fixture against 6th place Kingsway Olympic which Smith said, "They're doing really well up there. They've got a good crop of youngsters, very fit, they hit the ground running , move the ball quite nicely and they're improving every week. They're gaining experience on a weekly basis so yeah, it's gonna be a tough one." And the last Saturday in August sees them take on Wanneroo City, currently 8th on the ladder, "It's the old British derby and in games like that you throw form out the window and it's the same when we play Perth City. It can be bottom verses top but [derbies] are always tough ones and usually a goal will settle these encounters."
The season could well be decided on the last weekend of the season when Caledonian host the Lions. "If it comes down to the wire I think it's gonna be a bumper game, and it's a shame that if that senario takes place, the League can not manufacture some sort of spectacle for it. In the lower divisions you tend to get forgotten and pushed about a bit by our more illustrious counterparts," Smith said. "But it certainly will be no place for the faint-hearted. Macies have had a tremendous year, as which we have as well, and I think it's gonna be a bumper crowd and let's hope we can swell the coffers so we can spent some of the cash that we make in the top flight next year."
But even winning the First Division this season might not be enough for automatic promotion to the Premier League. Soccer West Coast have made it clear that the First Division champions' facilities must meet Premier League standard and there have been suggestions that those at Jubilee Reserve are not up to scratch which Smith scoffs at. "I'll tell you now that after playing a year in the lower division we certainly have the best playing surface in the League, we don't have a problem, a little bit of an up-grade [over the summer] and it's more than good enough."
ASHFIELD/BUNBURY vs FLOREAT ATHENA
Ashfield/Bunbury played host to Floreat Athena on Saturday in a do-or-die clash for two side desperate for a win and the three points which accompany it in order to ease their relegation fears. Coach for the home team, Tom Kilkelly went into this match full of confidence in the belief that, for the first time in five or six weeks, he was able to field his strongest side. This was despite the absence of leading scorer Savo Garic - who no longer seems to be part of the set-up at the club - midfielder Steve Goff and terrier-like striker Brett Norrie. The visitors were also missing several important figures from the starting eleven with Doug Ithier still serving suspension, Scott Daley injured, Adrian Sutton on international duty and Vas Kalogeracos relegated to the bench.
The game got underway after a very spiteful reserves clash that saw one player expelled and several others yellow carded for their indiscretions. Six minutes after kick-off, a great run down the left by Andreas Pantelias created the first chance of the game. His cross to the far post found Robyn Dyers whose shot flew beyond the reach of Phil Jackson only for it to come back off the post to the home 'keeper. It was a fast flowing opening period with both sides involved in a number of sweeping moves orchestrated by their defenses. But neither team was able to finish these off, their forwards forced to shoot from outside the penalty area.
Ashfield/Bunbury's best opportunity to take the lead came after 18 minutes when a charge down the right by David Mayers saw him avoid three opponents before releasing Daniel Trim through the middle. It was a great move from the home side who were denied a scoring opportunity only by the out-stretched leg of Boza Erakovic who quickly cleared the danger. Two minutes later came the games first moment of controversy as Daniel Trim put a very late challenge on Athena 'keeper John Xigas. A high cross into the area by Shane Fuhr was mis-directed and flew in Xigas' direction. With most of the players giving up the chase, Trim decided to continue the pursuit and clattered into the 'keeper, knocking him to ground well after he'd taken possession. The challenge should have seen the Ashfield/Bunbury striker booked but referee Steve Muldoon opted for a stern taking to instead despite the calls from the small crowd.
Justice was seen to be done in the 34th minute as Athena took the lead. Kevin Smith floated a free-kick wide from the right into the 6-yard box where Ashfield/Bunbury 'keeper Jackson crashed into a teammate also contesting possession. The loose ball landed at the feet of Pantelias who slotted it between Jackson and the up-right from a tight angle to give his side a lucky lead. Pantelias almost had a second goal three minutes later when another Smith free-kick was flicked on to the midfielder who hit a smashing volley towards the top corner only for Jackson to make a brilliant diving save and tip the ball around the post.
As an even first half came to a close both teams had good chances to get on the board. Troy Bernard almost found the target after a lucky bounce took him past two defenders before rounding the 'keeper - but his shot wasn't the strongest and it was easily cleared off the line by Damien Trim. A minute later Fuhr tried his luck from long range knowing that a chipped shot in goal would see the sun blind Xigas' - with the Athena 'keeper able to do nothing about the lob, the ball cleared the bar and the visitors went in at the break with a slender advantage.
Within 30 seconds of the re-start Athena founds themselves another goal up. The ball was quickly squirted out wide to Socratous who raced down the right wing and out-maneuvering David Mayers and Gene Wyllie before sending a lobbing cross to the far post. Dyers rose high and almost unchallenged to put a powerful header through the hands of Jackson into the net.
Spurred on by the goal, Athena's midfield started to stamp their authority on the game that was now ripe for the picking. The work-horse was Smith - who has recently returned from injury - who tackled strongly to win possession and put in a lunging-bursting man-of-the-match effort. Support was provided in the middle of the park by Socratous who seemed to get deep into his opponents half with ease before pumping in one dangerous cross after another. And Bernard was responsible for several penetrating runs through the middle and could have come away with a hat-trick for himself had luck been on his side.
A dramatic four minute spell ended Ashfield/Bunbury's hopes shortly after. It began with a 54th minute shot by Dyers that was going well wide until it struck the back of Adrian Spinelli - the deflection sent the ball towards the opposite side of goal and, with Jackson now well out of position, the home side were thankful when it rolled wide. A minute later Ilia Manolev and Wyllie chased a loose ball inside Athena's attacking area and, when both overran it, Manolev changed direction quickest and looked set to race clear only for Wyllie to clip his heals, sending him tumbling into the turf. The referee immediately pointed to the spot and up stepped Bernard who sent the spot-kick well wide and high. Soon after Bernard did find the net after an error by the home defence, seizing upon the opportunity to turn ball over and tucking it away off the post from close range.
Three down, the home side decided now was time to stepped up a gear and try to find a way back into this contest. A determined 10-15 minute spurt saw them take control and go close on several occasions, but a combination of poor finishing and a determined Athena defence stood in their way. A Spinelli cross was well met by Daniel Trim who found Xigas well positioned to make the save. Steve Gillibrand watched as his low cross flew across the face of goal with the 'keeper beaten but no-one at the far post to finish off the move. And a Steve Rogers free-kick was headed wide by Mayers. Possibly the best chance the home team had in the half came when Erakovic was slow in back-passing to his 'keeper, allowing Fuhr to race in an pressure Xigas. The Athena custodian panicked with the ball at his feet, lost possession and could only looked on as Fuhr sent his shot on the turn narrowly wide.
The final 20 minutes though belonged to the visitors with their passion for a fourth goal of the afternoon never in question. Dyers leapt high and unchallenged for a Smith corner to thump the ball narrowly wide of the target. A long clearance by Bernard released Socratous who, despite the best efforts of two opponents and an ever-decreasing angle, did well to chip Jackson but also (unfortunately) the far post. Dyers hammered wide from 20 metres, then Bernard blasted high from 25 metres when allowed time to control and line up his shot. And Socratous showed great conviction in dispossessing Mayers to break down the flank and make his way past Damian Trim only to lose it to Gyula Konscek. But the Athena midfielder refused to give up, won back possession with a strong tackle and then sent it into the box where Manolev's flying header was just off-target. Bernard flicked it over Jackson but also clear of the bar. Chris Georgianis had a strong drive from the top of the box tipped out for a corner. Bernard went close with another shot from just outside the area. Also from long range, Kalogeracos tried his luck to send the ball wide of the post. Georgianis dived to met a low Socratous cross into the 6-yard box but couldn't re-direct it into the goal.
Ashfield/Bunbury were in all sorts of problems as the game came to a close. Having well and truly lost their way by this stage, it was rare that they could get the ball out of their defensive half with the side unable to string together more than three passes. It was somewhat ironic then that the home side had the last chance of the day when Prehros broke free inside the area after a long ball from Joe Comitto, only for Xigas to courageously make the save by smothering at his feet. Ashfield/Bunbury's day was complete when, in the last minute of play, they were reduced to ten men with the stretchering off of Damian Trim after an innocent looking challenge by Kalogeracos.
For a team that couldn't find the net in their past two encounters, Athena played today played like a side possessed, laying siege on their opponents goal for lengthy periods and making the most of the ball out of midfield. Kevin Smith was the key to the win, working tirelessly in the centre of the park and providing the vital link between defence and attack for the side. Athena coach Michael Roki breathed a huge sigh of relief at the final whistle, his side pulling themselves 5 points clear of the dreaded third . relegation spot with this victory. On the flip side of the coin, Kilkelly must be a man nearing the end of his tether with Ashfield/Bunbury. Even fielding his strongest side was not enough for them to register their first win in ten weeks as the prospect of spending next season in the First Division now almost certain.
Ashfield/Bunbury : Phil Jackson, Gene Wyllie (Brett Colombena 55), Damian Trim, Adrian Spinelli
(Steve Rogers 63), Gyula Konscek, Shane Fuhr, David Mayers, Steve Gillibrand, Joe Committo, David Rogers
(Matt Prehros 63), Daniel Trim
Floreat Athena : John Xigas, Boza Erakovic, Peter Nikoloski, Hugh Miller, Manolis Aradis (Vas Kalogeracos 78), Andreas Pantelias (Chris Georgianis 72), Kevin Smith, Costa Socratous, Troy Bernard, Robyn Dyers, Ilia Manolev
Referee : Steve Muldoon
Cautions : Fuhr (41), Mayers (41), Konscek (55), Daniel Trim (75)
Expulsions : None
Attendance : 200 (approx.)
CELULAR ONE PREMIER LEAGUE
THe Western Knights replaced Inglewood United at the head of the Premier League table after the weekend fixtures. Cockburn City side caused the Knights all manner of problems in the first 45 minutes and took a deserved lead when an excellent cross from Branimir Mukulic found Peter Petkovic who headed beyond the arms of 'keeper Darren Williams. And they could have been two up at the break after Paul Cooke made a flying break down the left in the final seconds of the half but he opted to crossed rather than shoot himself and it ended up amounting to nothing. Some stern words from coach Ronnie Campbell, his assistant Willie Herd and captain Scott Devine saw the Knights emerged for the second period in a more confident mood. Within minutes Shane McNally had pulled the Knights level, and in the 65th minute they took the lead after Eugene Singeorzan raced on to Devine's penetrating pass and find the net. Ten minutes later the game was over as a contest when McNally swung in a dangerous cross from the left and John Nicolaou scored. With ten minutes left on the clock, the dismissal of Joshua Pescud finally killed off any hopes Cockburn had of taking a point out from this match. Campbell attributed his side's second half revival to the roasting they received at the break. "The first half was rubbish ... I gave them a real blast at half-time and questioned their desire. I told them it was like they were playing to lose. Cockburn are a young, fit side and you can't afford to give them any time on the ball. We were giving players like (Antonio) Naglieri, (Paul) Cooke and (Christian) Alvarez far too much space and time." Although the Knights took a one-point lead in the race for the championship Campbell isn't reaching for the champagne just yet, saying there is a lot of work to be done. "We still have to play Swan, Inglewood and Ashfield, and none of them are going to do us any favours," he said.
Inglewood United dropped to second place when they drew with ECU Joondalup who showed that their lowly position on the ladder was not a true indication of their potential. Sean Fallon put Joondalup ahead just on the half hour when he directed his header past one-time national goalkeeper Robert Zabica. But the lead didn't last long and eight minutes later Lee Crosby smashing a 25 metre drive to put the visitors back on level terms. The second half was an even contest with chances falling to both sides but neither able to put them away. The best came after some great lead-up work from midfielder Sandy Robertson saw Fallon presented with a golden opportunity to net but he shot weakly and directly at Zabica who wasn't troubled in making the save.
Fremantle City stayed third - two points behind the Knights and one behind Inglewood - after a 2-1 win over Swan I.C. The three goals came in the opening 25 minute period at Ken Allen Field where referee Wayne Oldham put on a bewildering display to leave both players and supporters stunned. Fremantle took the lead early in the first half with a Kevin Correia free-kick that took a wicked deflection off the wall to catch 'keeper Corey Hugo well out of position. Not long after though Swan were back on level terms when Dale Wingell converted a penalty, only for John Mirco to then score what would turn out to be the winner. At the end of the day Swan would rue a string of guilt-edged chances that went begging which included Rory Mouttet squandering an open goal from 10 metres and a missed first half penalty.
Perth consolidated their Top Five position with a confident 2-nil win over Sorrento, who seem to be a week-to-week proposition at the moment. Goals in both halves from Christian Marocchi and Nick Mrdja settled the match. And the Bayswater City Panthers moved off the bottom with a 1-0 win over Rockingham City courtesy of a second half goal from utility player Jason Van Rooy.
MACDONALD MAKING HIS MARK
Two years ago a teenage Steve MacDonald was little more than a fringe player with Premier League Kingsway Olympic. With his club relegated and just a handful of first team appearances to his credit, the promising defender made the move to Inglewood United for the 1999 winter season where, under the guidance of experienced coach John Hunter, he has blossomed into one of the state's best stoppers.
This season fortune fell MacDonald's way, being awarded the captain's armband when then on-field leader Lee Crosby was in dispute with the club. Crosby and the club have since settled their differences and the midfielder has been an integral part in United's charge towards the championship. With McDonald showing he is up to the captain's job, he has also been taken aback by the clubs fortunes this season. "In a way I've been surprised how well we've done this season but then in other ways I'm not," he said. "We've got a good bunch of players and I think because teams haven't been looking out for us we've surprised a few people."
INDONESIAN TOUR OFF
The W.A. State team have had their tour of Indonesia, which was to include an appearance at the Piala Kemerdekaan tournament in Surabaya, cancelled just weeks before the event. Soccer West Coast general manager Paul Tombides said the team was withdrawn from the tournament after the Indonesia Football Federation announced a late change to the competition dates, meaning the event would clash with two rounds of the Premier League season.
INGLEWOOD UNITED IN HOME RUN
With just a month before the Celular One Premier League comes to end, Inglewood United are in the middle of a three-way tussle with Fremantle City and Western Knights for top spot. With his side meeting both hose sides in the remaining four rounds, coach John Hunter is confident his side can give the championship a real shake this season. "We would love to finish in the top two, which gives us the double chance in the finals and obviously we would love to go on and win the title. We play Fremantle and the Western Knights in the next few weeks but as that old cliche goes, you have to take one game at a time."
Asked about what has been the difference between the United side of this season and last, Hunter is of the opinion he's seen improvements all over the park. "We have really worked on our defence and have conceded the least goals in the League. I think we are also the third highest scoring team in the League. And it's not just our forwards who are scoring but our midfielders as well." He also believes the club are at their strongest, both on and off the field, since he joined United as a player five years ago. "We cleared out several players a few years ago and brought in some young boys [and] There is now a good balance of young and old. One of our players - Lee Crosby - actually coaches one of our junior sides and we have employed a junior development officer this season. We are also having a $750,000 upgrade to our home ground at the end of the year, which will be great."
STATE UNDER-16'S WIN TOURNAMENT
The W.A. Country Under-16's recently took part in the Umbro International tournament in Manchester where they took out the Sportsman's Plate. Coach Steve Duckworth spoke on the Junior Soccer Review on Information Radio 990AM last Sunday night about the tour.
"It was a very big tournament, when I got there I was surprised by how many international teams there were, they were from apparently 24 different countries. In our group there was International Soccer from the USA, Dartmouth Boys from London, More Green Rovers from the Birmingham area, Crusaders from Stoke and ourselves. We finished 5th out of the six teams in our group which, looking at the standard, was not too bad because Dartmouth Boys made the overall Final so the strength of our group was very, very strong. In this tournament everybody plays for a prize regardless of what position you finish. The fifth and sixth from the four groups play-off for what's called the Sportsman's Plate and we actually won that by beating a team from Cheshire in the quarter-final, a team from South Africa in the semi-final and a team from Denmark in the Final."
Upon arriving in England, Duckworth and the coaching staff set about settling the W.A. lads in and got straight down to business. "As soon as we got there we were training every morning regardless of playing or not, which the kids seemed to enjoy. I think that as the tournament went on we seemed to get stronger and I think that this did help. The kids were obviously tired for the first couple of days and once they got used to the physical side of the game over there they came up very well."
"Before we went to the competition we stayed in Birmingham for five days and had two friendlies. We played a team called Rueberry Town who are a very, very good local league side. Our boys were shocked but the actual physical, not dirty but strong, aspect of their game - it's sort of take no prisoners, and if the player is in the way then they've got to go as well. I think the first game really opened their eyes and what I was saying was this is how it's gonna be, it's gonna be even worse in Manchester, more physical and they coped very well with it in the end. It just goes to show that if the Country kids could have had more time together, or me as the coach with the kids, before we went who knows what might have happened. We had four games unbeaten at the end of the tournament, we were just coming good as the tournament ended basically."
KAMASZ QUESTIONS COMMITMENT OF PLAYERS
Fremantle City coach Stuart Kamasz has spent a lot of timing trying to figure out just what has happened to his side over the past month. Four weeks ago City were sitting in the No.1 spot on the Premier League table with a seven point break on their nearest rival. But their fall from grace was quick - successive losses to Perth and Sorrento was followed by draws with struggling Rockingham City and fast improving Cockburn City.
"We had such a good run that when we lost the first game to Perth we just tended to gloss over it and think we had one of those days," Kamasz said. "We played very well against Perth and could have been two or three up at half time and then they scored quickly after half time, and the Sorrento game was pretty much the same. And it was pretty poor against a team like Rockingham, who've got a goal difference of minus 28 or something and who showed a lot of passion and commitment in the second half and hung in there. In every game we've been in it at half time, it's been all square, but what's come out of it in the last few weeks is that we just haven't stepped up for the second half and we've allowed teams to edge us out."
"You've got to try and find the balance and decide is that a little bit of bad luck, or is there something a little bit deeper than that. And I think last week showed we've got a problem stepping up a gear when teams tend to raise it a bit more. Basically that's what the players have been told - it's a commitment thing now. Mind games starting to take effect with people saying you're going to drop like last year and we've got to be positive about this."
The weekend clash with Cockburn marked the last time midfielder Gary Faria will pull on Fremantle colours for some time. Having made his way through the club's junior ranks, Faria recently signed a two year contract with Perth Glory and Kamasz is well aware that his influence will be missed in the run-down to the finals. "It's a big hole - team it with some of the injuries we've had and a few people on two cautions that might miss crucial games over the next few weeks if they pick up another card. His energy levels will be missed and over the last four or five weeks I was playing him a bit wider that a central role as he was the only guy giving me a bit of penetration out wide. And I think that's where Glory will probably see him playing, he'll probably play a bit wider when he makes it."
SUTTON CALLED UP BY KIWIS
Floreat Athena midfielder Adrian Sutton has been called up to represent New Zealand for the first time at the Merdeka Cup tournament in Malaysia later this month. Although he has been involved in the squad before, the call-up slightly baffled the 27-year old midfielder who was left wondering how he came to the attention of the Kiwi selectors. "I was pretty surprised because I thought I was a bit far away from home to be considered," Sutton said. As it transpired, the unavailability of players from Auckland-based NSL outfit the Kingz helped his cause.
Sutton's selection means he will not be available for three of Athena's remaining four Premier League matches. He has already missed the home clash with Perth last week, and they'll be without him for vital games against Ashfield/Bunbury (A) and Cockburn City (H). "I talked about it with the club and they were happy for me (to go) but also a bit reluctant because we've got a few injuries," he said. "I'm hoping like hell the boys can get some points over the next few weeks." Sutton flew out of Perth earlier in the week for Kuala Lumpur where New Zealand will face Malaysia August 13), Oman (August 15) and the Ghanian Olympic team (August 17).
FLOREAT ATHENA vs PERTH
Played in constant rain and on a pitch very obviously the worse for wear after the heavy overnight downpour, this clash between traditional powerhouses Perth and Floreat Athena was never going to be a pretty one. Athena, went into it with a very much under-strength side - Doug Ithier was absent through suspension, Scott Daley was injured, Adrian Sutton was international duty with the New Zealand team and Kevin Smith started on the bench having recently overcome injury. As if that wasn't enough to cope with, coach Michael Roki applied some bizarre positional changes to his line-up. Leading scorer Robin Dyers was pushed deep into midifield where he played just in front of the back three while Troy Bernard, who has spent the winter performing consistently in a sweeping capacity, was shifted into an attacking midfield position. Perth on the other hand were near full-strength with their only absentee striker Nick Mrdja who is still suffering an ankle injury, while they welcomed back David Onoforo from trials in the UK.
It was a scrappy opening as you would expect given the conditions with neither side able to do much with the ball. To make matters worse, both teams were insistent on playing through the middle of the pitch which also happened to be the area most affected by the rains. A large portion of the surface in the Perth attacking half - probably a 20-metre diameter circle - was little better that a swamp, everytime the ball skidded through it it carried maybe two metres before stopping dead in it's tracks.
It was the visiting side that settled first and displayed some lovely flowing one- and two-touch football. Boni Botha set up the first chance of the game when his low cross went past John Xigas and across the face of goal but teammates slow to react and the chance for an early lead went begging. In the 18th minute a great move through the middle by Robert Giorgi and Todd Howarth saw play switched to the right where Jamie Coyne was released. He crossed into path of Mark Pottier only for Xigas to pull ball off his head.
Pottier was constantly applying pressure to the Athena defence and forcing them into making some elementary errors in the danger zone. A Boza Erakovic back pass in the 21st minute was held up on the swampy surface, forcing Xigas to race out of his area to clear the ball. But he mis-hit it thanks to pressure from Pottier and the ball went straight to Coyne on the right who cautiously played it into the area only for Pottier to be called up for off-side.
Athena weren't getting forward with much success it wasn't until the 27th minute that the home side got their first shot at goal. A long curling ball from Andreas Pantelias evaded Stephen Willey and fell into the path of Dyers who had pushed forward with the play - but with Willey beating a hasty retreat, Dyers hurried his shot and it flew wide of the target. It would prove to be one of the few genuine chances on goal that the home side would get all day. They struggled to break down a solid Perth backline, finding it difficult to string together enough passes to cause much concern for Craig Naven, Aaron Cole, Willey and goalkeeper Robert Scarparolo. On the few occasions they did find a way through, the Athena forwards ended up shooting under pressure and from outside the area.
Perth had their chances to take the lead but weren't making the most of them. Christian Marocchi should have done better to finish off a move involving six Perth players in the 30th minute, the midfielder side-footing a difficult pass from Howarth over the bar from 6 metres. Shortly after Coyne released Botha only for the forward to slip when shooting and the ball dribbled wide without troubling Xigas. Howarth was doing well on the right flank, getting forward with the ball quickly to catch out the opposition and was one of the few players who tried to avoid the boggy patch by running around rather than through it.
The home side's second scoring chance in the 35th minute forced Scarparolo into making one of his few saves of the match. A storming Ilia Manolev close range header saw the Perth 'keeper dive full length across goal to fingertip the ball around the post. Athena's new striking partnership of Manolis Aradis and Vas Kalogeracos took time to settle and, while there were flashes of brilliance between the two, the understanding just wasn't there to make better of their chances. But the majority of the action was at the other end as Perth looked to break the deadlock before the interval. Another sloppy back pass, this time by Vas Kalogeracos, saw Pottier nip in and send a low cross into the area which Giorgi stretched to reach but was unable to get enough of a touch to re-direct it goalward. Further chances fell to Coyne, Giorgi, and then Pottier with the break fast approaching but no-one got the result the were after.
Conditions worsened after the break with the rain increasing to add to problems faced by the players. Two minutes after the re-start Athena had their appeals for a penalty waved away by referee Frank Moretti. Kalogeracos floated a corner in from the right that was in turn knocked to the edge of the area by the Perth defence. It landed at the feet of Pantelias who rifled a shot at goal which struck Coyne on the shoulder at close range - in all fairness, Moretti made the correct decision although there was a moment of indecision from him.
In less than favourable circumstances, Moretti wasn't having the best of games himself. He was quick with the whistle when he probably should have let play flow a little more, often pulling up players for soft fouls and trivial offences. And when action was needed - such as when Pantelias hacked Giorgi from behind after the Perth midfielder made a great run out of defence - Moretti did nothing, allowing the Athena winger to walk away without so much as a warning for his indiscretion.
Perth were by far the more enterprising side, rapidly knocking the ball through the middle and out to the flank players who drove the side into attack. A sweeping 57th minute move turned defense into attack for Perth as Vince Tana switched play to the opposite side of the park and Howarth hit a stinging drive from 20 metres only for it to be tipped over the bar. Four minutes later Botha thumped a low free-kick into the area which skidded past everyone, including Cole who was caught off-guard at the far post and only needed to touch the ball for it to cross between the posts.
Not long after Moretti's in action almost saw the game turn into a boxing match. Perth's Pottier, who was the instigator of several spiteful clashes, was unceremoniously pushed into the turf by Hugh Miller who had climbed over his opponent in an attempt to get a high ball. Pottier didn't take lightly to this treatment and verbally abused Miller, the two squared off and it only seemed a matter of time before the two exchanged blows. During this Moretti stood his distance and let the two air their grievances before speaking to them, but still no names went in his book when yellow cards would have been the responsible thing to do. Shortly after Giorgi showed no desire to gain possession of a loose ball and blatantly shirt-fronted Athena substitute Kevin Smith as the game took a turn for the worse.
Forays into attack were getting rarer as the game progressed for Athena who looked out of ideas about how to break down the Perth backline. It wasn't until the 73rd minute introduction of Andrew O'Neill that they saw a bit of life come into their game, the winger providing a fair degree of penetration on the right with some spirited runs and threatening crosses. The only other player for the home side doing anything was Kalogeracos who in the 62nd minute chipped from 20 metres to catch Scarparolo out of position, but the Athena custodian showed great agility in pulling off a spectacular diving save to concede a corner. But the nippy forward too often showed his willingness to run at opposing defences and take on one man too many to concede possession.
The final 15 minutes were all Perth with Coyne and Tana getting more involved with play. Giorgi had a free shot on goal but mis-timed a bouncing ball and skied it well over the bar. Howarth drove a low ball into the box that evaded Athena legs and Dario Pellicciotto smashed it through a crowd only for a defender to blocked it on the line. Pottier then robbed an opponent of possession but shot wide from close range. And in the 90th minute David Onoforo took the ball past two defenders before skillfully knocking it to Pellicciotti who flicked it over his marker and blasted high from 10 metres.
Three minutes into injury time, the home defence were caught napping and David Onoforo was there to steal the points for Perth. Collecting the ball near the halfway line and with time fast running out, Pellicciotti raced forward before spotting Onoforo charging down the blindside of the Athena defence. The substitute hit an inch-perfect, 20-metre pass to his teammate who showed a touch of class to find the back of the net. With his first touch Onoforo brought the waist high ball under control, and with his second flicked it past the advancing Xigas with the outside of his foot, the ball tumbling into the base of the up-right before crossing the line and sending the Perth bench into raptures.
It was a hard fought but deserved win for Perth who secured fourth place. Pottier, Cole and Howarth all made vital contributions to the victory but overall it was a strong team effort from the visitors. For Athena, they had too players fade in and out of the match with frequency and, in all honesty, never looked like scoring from the outset. Bernard made the switch into midfield well but found little support from those around him and it wasn't until the late introduction of O'Neill that the side looked threatening.
Floreat Athena : John Xigas, Hugh Miller, Boza Erakovic, Peter Nikoloski, Robin Dyers (Kevin Smith 52),
Andreas Pantelias (Andrew O'Neill 73), Ilia Manolev, Troy Bernard (Daniel Forbes 87), Costa Socratous,
Vas Kalogeracos, Manolis Aradis
Perth : Robert Scarparolo, Craig Naven, Aaron Cole, Stephen Willey, Todd Howarth, Vince Tana, Christian Marocchi (David Onoforo 77), Robert Giorgi, Jamie Coyne, Boni Botha (Dario Pelliccitto 85), Mark Pottier
Referee : Frank Moretti
Cautions : None
Expulsions : None
Attendance : 250 (approx.)
CELULAR ONE PREMIER LEAGUE
Fremantle City's championship took a turn for the worse on Saturday when they were held to a controversial 2-all draw with Cockburn City at Dalmatinac Park. With midfielder Steve Bourne out with an ankle injury, the visitors welcomed back Abdul Kamara and Dean Wallace and took the lead after 23 minutes through Gary Faria. The lead was short-lived though as less than two minutes later Cockburn drew level when Antonio Naglieri converted a spot-kick. Cockburn goalkeeper Dino Pacella was in great form and kept his side in the hunt on many occasions, none more so that a fantastic reflex one-handed stop from a John Mirco bullet. But Mirco responded quickly by setting up Trim Morgan who blasted home from a difficult angle six minutes from half-time. Fremantle forward Kevin Correia missed two great second half chances to secure the points for his side before Naglieri equalised with Cockburn's second penalty of the day. The result left Fremantle third, three points behind leader Inglewood United.
Inglewood, who expected to come away with a big win over Ashfield/Bunbury, relied on a first half penalty converted by Lee Crosby to take out the points. The Western Knights kept the pressure on the leaders with a convincing 4-0 drubbing of Rockingham City where Shane McNally, captain Scott Devine and John Nicolaou (2) found the back of the net. Sorrento extended a 3-0 half-time lead into a 7-1 thrashing of bottom side Bayswater City in a game that at one stage looked like being called off after heavy overnight rains. Goals from Ryan Jeans, Jared Love (2), state Schoolboy David Foster, Leo Harman, Ross Greer and an own goal made sure that Michael Capalano's second half strike counted for little. The Swan I.C. vs ECU Joondalup clash was postponed due to the condition of the playing surface at the Swan Italian Club.
In the First Division, Bassendean Caledonian and the Stirling Lions both had convincing wins in the race for top spot. Caledonian defeated bottom side the Leeming Strikers 3-nil to move onto 46 points while the second placed Lions stayed two points behind after thrashing second from bottom Armadale 9-1.
MATASSA TOUCHES BASE
Having left Perth Glory on the eve of the 1997/98 season for a backpacking tour of Europe, Vince Matassa eventually settled in London come mid-1998. Out of the game for around 14 months, he "went down to Basingstoke Town in the Ryman Premier League to try and get a bit of fitness back and of course one thing led to another and I was playing within a couple of weeks." With 35 appearances under his belt, Vince was again bitten by the travel bug at the conclusion of the season and by December 1999 had made his way back to Perth where he was married.
Returning to England the following February, Vince signed an 18 month contract with Basingstoke. But having missed the first half of the season, he was loaned to Salisbury City (12 games) in the Dr Martens League for a month to regain his match fitness. "That spell went really well so I stayed with Salisbury until the end of the season - as they needed a bit of help to avoid relegation." Vince impressed not just the folks at the club during this spell and was rewarded with a place in the Ryman Representative XI for an exhibition match.
During the off-season, Salisbury offered to purchase Vince from Basingstoke only to find their asking fee - said to be around £10,000 - a little too steep. Now living in London and with the new season fast approaching, Vince is hoping for a move closer to home. "I am finding the travel a bit too much to get to Basingstoke 3 times a week (for training), so I have asked if I can move to a London based team, so I am a bit in limbo at the moment."
DREAMS DO COME TRUE
The dreams of 16-year old Inglewood United midfielder Sean Cooney look to be coming true after he agreed terms on a three year contract with English Premier League club Coventry City. Having made his first team debut for Inglewood earlier this season, Cooney headed off to the UK a couple of months back with trials lined-up at Barnsley, Blackburn Rovers and City. With things having gone well at all three, he returned to Perth without only to be contacted three weeks later and asked back for further trials at City who this week offered him a deal.
And Perth attacking midfielder Adrian Caceras could be the next youngster from W.A. to make the move overseas. He left two months ago for trials at Southampton and has been asked to stay on at the club after some impressive pre-season appearances. Most recently he appeared against non-League Basingstoke Town in a side featuring four Saints first team players. Taking up a position just behind the front two, Caceras was involved in numerous enterprising moves up front and came close to scoring on three occasions. According to reports on TeamTalk, the midfielder "showed up positively and will get further opportunities before a decision needs to be made about him."
Meanwhile young W.A. born goalkeeper Brad Jones is closing in on a spot in the Middlesborough first team. Last week he appeared on the bench in the club's 2-1 pre-season win over York City. Jones, who signed apprentice papers at Boro a couple of years ago, is one of three Australians at the club, the others being goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer and Socceroo captain Paul Okon.
VALE FRED BURFITT
It is with great sadness that the passing of Perth Glory Foundation Member Fred Burfitt, who slipped away in his sleep on Sunday 30th July, has been bought to our attention.
Fred was born in England in 1926 and served in the Royal Navy during WW2. He arrived in Perth in 1949
and immediately set about devoting himself to the game he so dearly loved. Amongst his achievements
over coming years were -
· Played for Queens Park 1950-52
· Refereed for a period of 15 years stretching from 1952 until 1965 which included local and international matches.
· Executive Member and Senior Vice President of the Soccer Federation of W.A. 1968-1981 - longest serving executive member in Western Australian, and possibly Australian, history
· State team manager for the Mederka tournament in Malaysia, 1970. And for the 1972, 1973, and 1974 Medan Indonesia tours for the Marah Halim Cup tournament when W.A. took out the trophy in 1972 and 1973, and were runners-up in 1974
· Life Member of the Soccer Federation of W.A.
· Witnessed history being made in Hong Kong in 1973 as Australia qualified for their only World Cup Finals appearance to date
· Foundation Member of Perth Glory. When most people believed the club would only get crowds of 3,000-4,000, Fred put his money and faith in the club and was proved right when 43,242 turned up for the Grand Final only a few months ago
Condolences to Fred's family, in particular wife Carlyne and sons Russell and Murray.
STATE SCHOOLBOYS GEARING UP
The W.A. Schoolboys side are well into preparations for their assault on the 2000 National Championship which start on August 19th in Darwin. Interested players were asked to turn out for trials at Brittania Road Reserve in Mount Hawthorn on the first weekend of May with the squad having been slimmed down to 16 players in more recent times. That squad assembled over the July school holidays for a training camp before kicking off their pre-tournament practice schedule. A first up win over the Cockburn City Youth side got them off on the right foot only to be trounced 2-6 a week later by ECU Joondalup.
This week saw the Schoolboys take on the Inglewood United Youth team in a hard fought match at Kiev Sports Ground. The first half was marred by some over-zealous tackling from the United players whose intimidating approach forced the state team onto the back foot. As a result, the Schoolboys rarely got into their attacking half for much of the opening 45 minutes and not surprisingly the best chance came from United forward Matt Aitken whose explosive drive crashed against the bar after 34 minutes. As it was, the strong Schoolboys backline marshalled by goalkeeper Mitchell Gregory kept the scoreline at nil-all by the interval.
Six minutes after the restart United found the break through they were after when Norbert Hajdanyi seized upon some slack defending to tuck the ball home from close range. Six minutes later they were 2-0 up after Vlad Malasinovic converted a penalty having been bundled over in the area. But the two goal buffer was to be short-lived - Robert Pedri pounced on a defensive error, rounded 'keeper Oliver Taseski and slotted the ball into the empty from 8 metres. The goal breathed new life in the state teams game, they started to make better use of the ball and would dominate the remainder of this clash. Derek Cooke was making some penetrating runs down the left flank while Matt Kamasz and David Foster were influential in midfield. Cooke sent a 30 metre blast whizzing narrowly wide after 81 minutes and shortly after Pedri went close from close range only to be denied by substitute goalkeeper Adrian Rawlings as United held on for a lucky 2-1 victory.
MORE FROM THE CLUBS IN CRISIS
As reported last week, both Ashfield/Bunbury and the Bayswater City Panthers are facing uncertainty over their respective futures in the W.A. Premier League. And there have been further revelations from both camps in the past few days.
Ashfield/Bunbury are having as many problems off the park as they are on it at the moment. With the club without a victory to their credit since early June, it is looking more and more likely that the Bunbury component of the outfit will depart at the end of this season. It has come to light that the off-field problems stem from an incident several weeks ago when leading scorer Savo Garic - one of their Bunbury-based players - was dropped to the reserves for the weekend. His father and co-coach Ivan Garic was infuriated with this decision and in no uncertain terms let the club officials know his feelings on the matter. It is believed that, in protest over Garic's dropping, several of the clubs Bunbury-based players refused to turn out for the 1st team to add further fuel to the fire.
The Bayswater City Panthers, who recently approached Perth regarding an amalgamation only to be knocked back by that club, have now turned their attention towards joining forces with the Ashfield part of Ashfield/Bunbury for the 2001 season. The proposal would see the new club play their Premier League games at Frank Drago Reserve with Ashfield Reserve being utilised by their junior sides. The However, the alarming claims coming out of Bayswater at the moment surround their playing squad who have not been paid in over seven weeks, which explains why the club have lost so many players in recent times. The financial situation at Bayswater has lead one observer to speculate that the club must be sailing very close to the wind with insolvency surely only a short step away.
KEEPER TURNS DOWN LOAN MOVE
Portsmouth's Fremantle born 'keeper Andy Petterson has turned down the chance to join Scunthorpe United in a loan deal. Having been told he would play no part in Portsmouths' plans this season by manager Tony Pulis, Petterson outright rejected the proposed three month move to Scunthorpe. "At this stage in my career, it will not do me any good to drop down into Division Three so I rejected the move," he said. Frustrated with the situation at Portsmouth and his manager, the 'keeper revealed he could be heading back to Australia shortly should a suitable transfer not be forthcoming. "If things don't work out for me, then I will head back to Australia when my contract expires."
FULL STEAM AHEAD FOR JUNIOR SUMMER COMPETITION
Nick Tana has been flooded with applications from prospective coaches and administrators since the advertised positions appeared a month ago in relation to the new elite youth summer development league. The Perth Glory co-owner received 17 applications for the position of Youth Development Manager, and he expects to make the appointment within the next fortnight. The successful applicant will then be responsible for sifting through the 30 applications for the coaching positions, interview candidates and make a proposal to Tana who will oversee the decision.
With Tana currently looking into sponsorship for the league, he expects that the competitions' kick-off will be delayed due to unforeseen circumstances. "The objective was to have launched it for October. It may well be that the infrastructure may be in place, but we might only pick up one or two months of this next summer season," he said. "We will not be rushed just for the sake of doing it to appease people or just to prove a point as such - as some people are expecting me to do. Far from it, in fact what we are doing in terms of the set up that's required and the host clubs that need to be approached, there is a mountain of work to be done. And, given that this is a totally different approach to youth development in this state, we want to make sure that it is going to be started on the right foot."
He also hit back at critics of the league who claim that Perth already has enough youth academies. "I was talking to one of the applicants and they made comments in terms of the academies and schools of excellence overseas - I won't mention the country involved - and I don't believe you can ever get enough school that are going to improve the quality and standard of the game. It's a contradiction of terms. The whole purpose is to improve and increase the technical and skill level of soccer players."
STATE SQUAD ANNOUNCED
The West Australian state squad commenced training at Kiev Sports Ground this week for the proposed trip to Indonesia starting on August 23rd. The All Indonesia Football Federation has invited teams from Europe, Africa and China to participate in the Piala Kemerdekaan tournament in Surabaya where $70,000 is on offer as prizemoney.
Former state player Paul Wormley has been given the task of coaching the team in Surabaya. He took Inglewood to their only W.A. Premier League crown in 1996 and last year coached the State Under-23 side to victory over NSL new-comers Parramatta Power. Wormley plans to cut the list of 33 players announced this week to 20 for the tournament and believes the W.A. squad will travel to Indonesia confident of doing well. There are also plans for W.A. to take on the Slovakian Olympic team in early September as part of its build-up to the Sydney Games.
The provision squad of 33 players announced last weekend draws almost exclusively on the Premier League's top seven clubs. League leaders Fremantle City and ECU Joondalup are the most represented clubs with six players apiece selected in the squad, while five from Perth and the Western Knights have been invited to try out.
But it is the timing of the tournament that has caused concern at some clubs. The Indonesian tour will take place between August 23rd and 31st, meaning that clubs will be without their players for Round 21 - the second last round of the season - which will be played over the weekend of 26th/27th August. As it stands at the moment, two points separate the top three clubs - Fremantle City, Inglewood United and the Western Knights - while there are another six with a realistic chance of snaring one of the two remaining Top 5 play-off berths.
The full list of players named is - Savo Garic (Ashfield/Bunbury), Paul Cooke, Michael Petkovic (Cockburn City), Dave Evans, Gary Faria, Abdul Kamara, Paul McVittie, Trim Morgan, Craig Surtees (Fremantle City), Alex Josifovski, Steve MacDonald, Robert Zabica (Inglewood United), Scott Broadley, Scott Clissold, Michael Garcia, Carl McDarby, Sandy Robertson, Steve White (E.C.U. Joondalup), Adrian Caceres, Aaron Cole, Nick Mrdja, Craig Naven, Mark Pottier (Perth), Stuart Banks, Glenn Thomas (Sorrento), Corey Hugo, Rory Mouttet, Damian Scali (Swan I.C.), David Annal, Aaron Beattie, Scott Devine, Carl Medica and Joe Vaz (Western Knights).
RELEGATION STILL A MUDDLE
Seventeen weeks into a 22 games season, many W.A. Premier League clubs are still awaiting notification of the number of teams being relegated at the end of this season. There is confusion amongst those near the foot of the table as to whether it is one or three sides that will go down after the first weekend in September.
Prior to the season kicking-off in early April, Soccer West Coast announced plans to trim the Premier League from twelve to ten sides for the 2001 competition. In order to better fit the NSL off-season, it was decided that the bottom three clubs would make the drop into the First Division with the First Division champions being promoted.
By mid-year several clubs had been informed through unofficial channels that the system had been altered with a one down-one up system having taken its place. Upon hearing this, one Premier League club official who wished to remain anonymous speculated that it was because the League did not want to lose clubs of the calibre of Floreat Athena - one of the state's proudest and longest running clubs - who were then sitting comfortably third from the bottom.
But confusion still reigns amongst the clubs as the end of the winter season nears and the system again looks to have take another tact. In the most recent senario, the bottom two clubs - Bayswater City and Rockingham City, unless they can perform miracles - will be automatically relegated. They will be joined in the First Division next year by the club finishing third from the bottom only if the facilities of the Fist Division champions do not meet Premier League standard.
With only a handful of games left in the season, it appears that some clubs may not know their fate until the last round of fixtures has been played and the final table decided.
THREE KNIGHTS HEAD OVERSEAS
W.A. Premier League outfit the Western Knights this week lost three players who are seeking careers overseas. 22-year old attacking midfielder and first team regular Joe Vaz has left for trials in Portugal with leading club Sporting Lisbon next week, while youth team central midfielder Michael Vaz and Sydney Blunsdon (both 17) have opted to take the tougher route to success. The pair have headed to the UK without trials lined-up at any club, determined to knock-on as many doors as it takes to get themselves recognised. First stop is Middlesbrough where their friend Brad Jones has recently signed papers.
MARTIN TO SOUTHPORT
Former Joondalup City goalkeeper Ian Martin has not received an offer of a contract extention from Newcastle United and will link up with English Football Conference outfit Southport for the pre-season. Martin, a Northern Ireland youth international, will be joining fellow Australian defender Scott Guyett at the club.
FREMANTLE AIM FOR NO.1
Fremantle City will approach their remaining games of the season as virtual cup finals as they search for the club's first trophy since 1983's 3rd Division championship. A couple of weeks ago the club were sitting in the top spot with a six point gap, but a recent poor run has seen that slashed dramatically.
It is not the first time the club has found itself in first place going into the final rounds as a quick scan of the final standings over the past three years will show. In 1997 Fremantle finished runners-up to Floreat Athena, and a similar situation was repeated twelve months later with the Western Knights finishing No.1. Last year the club came in third behind champion ECU Joondalup and Sorrento.
Coach Stuart Kamasz believes his side now has the maturity to finish the job this year thanks to some c lever recruiting over the summer months. "The players we've brought in, like Paul McVittie, Trim Morgan and Dave Evans, have been there before and they are used to winning things," he said. The club were further strengthened a couple of months back with the arrival of striker Kevin Correia who is on-loan from Portuguese side Maritimo.
ASHFIELD/BUNBURY IN TROUBLE?
The future of W.A. Premier League club Ashfield/Bunbury is under a cloud after it was revealed last week that a rift had developed between the outfit's two founding side's. An emergency meeting was held to try and alleviate the problems being experienced by the Bunbury component who now want out of the alliance. With the outcome of that meeting a closely guarded secret, Ashfield/Bunbury president John Van Hoek remained tight lipped when asked about the imminent split with "It could just be mate" his only comment.
The club came about through the 1996 merger between Ashfield Dynamo and south-west club Bunbury United. Within two years they'd won their first trophy - the First Division championship - and promotion to the state's top flight. Last season, their first in the Premier League, saw the club coming to terms with the pace of the competition which saw them finished it 10th place. One of the early pace-setters this year, the club have now gone seven games without a win and are dangerously close to the third relegation spot.
The problem at Ashfield/Bunbury comes hot on the heels of Bayswater City's proposal of a merger with Perth. It is believed that had the move been accepted, the two clubs would have started the 2001 season as a united force. The Bayswater City Panthers are facing certain relegation from the Premier League this season, frustrated at their inability to hold onto key players over successive seasons and finding life difficult with mounting debt.
THE FORGOTTEN MAN
The career of goalkeeper Andy Petterson is still up in the air with Portsmouth boss Tony Pulis adamant that the Australian will not figure in his plans during the up-coming season. He was loaned to Wolverhampton Wanderers for the last few month of the 1999/2000 campaign and later was among five names who were told they were surplus to the club's requirements. "It is well known that I am on my way now - the manager wants me out," he said recently.
Still under contract with Portsmouth, Petterson has been keeping his fingers crossed that someone will make the club an offer so he can resume his senior career. "I have been hanging around seeing if anything is happening but it has been quiet everywhere and there has not been that many moves. So I am just hoping now with all the teams now getting back, someone will need a keeper. It is frustrating because I know I am not going to get a game here so it is basically pointless being here."
Despite the rate at which transfer rumours are circulating in the UK with club's preparing to begin the new season, Petterson is yet to hear of any tempting offers for his signature. "It is about time my agent did some work for me," he said jokingly. "I have not heard anything. There was something in the paper about Brighton, but at the moment, I do not really want to drop down to the lower divisions. I am just hoping a good move comes up whether it is here or abroad and we will go from there."
LINCOLN THE SAVIOUR FOR INGLEWOOD
Inglewood United midfielder-come-striker Paul Lincoln has been finding the net with regularity of late. It started with a single against Rockingham City, was followed up with a double verses Cockburn City, and this week he went one better against with a hat-trick in the 4-0 demolition of Swan I.C. The recent run of good fortune has taken his season tally to 10 and equal second top scorer in the Premier League.
The hat-trick against Swan was only the second of the 30-year-old's career - the first coming seven years ago when playing for Bayswater in a 3-4 Night Series loss to Kingsway Olympic. "For most of my career I was a creator and now I'm getting the chance to finish off," Lincoln said after the 4-0 win. And he believes that Inglewood have what it takes to take out the club's first championship since 1996. "I think we've got the ability in the team to win the championship, but it's going to be tough."
INGLEWOOD UNITED vs SWAN I.C.
It was another top of the table clash at Kiev Sports Ground on Saturday where second-placed Inglewood United hosted fourth-placed Swan I.C. Both sides were without key players for the match - the home team were missing Alex Cummings (suspended) and Vinko Buljubasic (on trial overseas) while Swan I.C. would sorely miss the services of Justin Everley (unavailable) and leading scorer Nigel Aubin (suspeneded).
The game was only 45 seconds old when the home side found the net in freakish fashion. United were on the attack from the outset and forced Swan I.C. into their own penalty area where goalkeeper Corey Hugo attempted to hoist the ball upfield from outside the 6-yard box. But his attempted clearance struck opposition forward Paul Lincoln who had chased the ball all the way and it flew back past Hugo with the United forward having little idea of what had happened.
>From then on the odds were always stacked against Swan I.C. but to their credit they controlled the opening 20 minutes of play only to come away with little to show for it at the end of the day. Rory Mouttet was causing all sorts of problems down the right flank while Justin Hugo was doing likewise on the opposite side of the park. In the middle Damian Scali was Swan I.C.'s workhorse, wining the hard tackles and distributing the ball to his wingers with pin-point accuracy. Up front in Aubin's absence was Dale Wingell who was quick in the race to the ball and displayed some deft touches early on. But the visitors downfall was that they were relying too much on playing long balls over the United defence onto which Wingell and Elton Holmes were expected to run. Everytime they put this tactic into action the ball was over-hit and Zabica safely took possession on the edge of his area.
Against the run of play, United forced Swan I.C. into another error at the back from which they scored their second of the afternoon. In the 19th minute young midfielder Daniel Harrop played a hopeful ball to the top of the United area which Anthony Jones shielded from Lincoln and allowed to run to Corey Hugo. The Swan I.C. 'keeper dived on the ball only for it to bounce awkwardly and bobble out of his possession - Lincoln reacted first, sticking out a boot to send the ball rolling into the exposed Swan I.C. goal.
There were very few genuine chances in the first 45 minutes with play clogged up in the middle third of the pitch. Swan I.C. should have had an equaliser in the 35th minute when, after a great run down the right, Justin Hugo picked out an unmarked Holmes but he mis-hit his shot from 8 metres which didn't even trouble Robert Zabica in goal. Four minutes from the back it was Wingell who could have netted - Holmes pressed Godfrey into a sloppy backpass to his 'keeper, Wingell pounced on the mistake only for Zabica to thwart his efforts with a courageous diving save at his strikers feet.
Swan I.C. found themselves getting forward with more frequency in the second half but still lacking the ability to play it to their strikers feet. On the few occasions they achieved this, the finishing of Holmes and Wingell in particular left a lot to be desired. In the 63rd minute a Justin Hugo throw-in released Scali who took the ball to the by-line before knocking it back to Wingell. But, 10 metres from goal and unmarked, the ball got tangled up between his feet and United had time to regroup and clear before Wingell could fire on goal. Shortly after midfielder Trevor Hatton tested Zabica for the first time in the match which saw the former-Socceroo dive full-length along the goal line to make the save.
Having had few chances in the half, the home side killed off Swan I.C.'s hopes of a comeback in the 73rd minute. From a throw-in, Taki Nicolaides weaved past his man and laid the ball off to Lincoln who sent a low stinging shot goalward which Corey Hugo took the pace off but couldn't hold. And United substitute Alex Josifovski was quickly on the scene to put the loose ball into the net from 1 metre. It was turning into a day the Swan I.C. 'keeper would rather forget, facing the side that released him on the eve of the season and playing an unfortunate part in the three goals so far.
It wasn't until the final 10 minutes that we saw the action hot up. A Harrop cross from the right was flicked on by Steve MacDonald and Lincoln needed only make contact for it to go over the line. A minute later Lincoln rounded Jones only for Corey Hugo to take the ball off his feet. Justin Hugo slotted the ball past Zabica and across the face of goal to Wingell who somehow tapped it wide from one metre. And, in quick succession, Zabica denied Wingell and Holmes as Swan I.C. searched for a late consolation.
But it was at the other end that the goal was breached. In the 85th minute Lee Crosby knocked the ball to Lincoln just inside the area and, with Corey Hugo advancing to narrow the angle, Lincoln had little difficulty in lifting it over him to make it 4-nil. And two minutes later it was almost five - another searching Harrop cross was met at the far post by Lincoln and his header from 5 metres crashed into the up-right before Corey Hugo knew what was happeneing.
Inglewood United : Robert Zabica, Jamie Goodman, Steve McDonald, Jason Godfrey, Gary Andrews, Drew
Carruthers, Taki Nicolaides (Gary Jamieson 84), Daniel Harrop, Lee Crosby, Ryan Newhill
(Alex Josifovski 56), Paul Lincoln (Ross Donnelly 88)
Swan I.C. : Corey Hugo, Anthony Jones, Chris Perks (Adam Williams 46), Darren Freeman, James Dimmock, Justin Hugo, Rory Mouttet (Eddie Mura 78), Trevor Hatton (Gareth Healy 73), Damian Scali, Dale Wingell, Elton Holmes
Referee : Michael Nugus
Cautions : Josifovski (61), Dimmock (62)
Expulsions : None
Attendance : 350
CELULAR ONE PREMIER LEAGUE
Controversially dropped by Perth Glory during the week, James Afkos marked his return to the W.A. Premier League by being sent sent off in Floreat Athena's 3-1 win over the Bayswater City Panthers. Robyn Dyers put the homeside ahead before the interval and further goals from Vas Kalogeracos and Costa Socratous ensured the points went to Athena. Charles Condipodero got the reply for Bayswater City.
Ashfield/Bunbury newcomer Matthew Pochroj put his side ahead against Cockburn City only to see Peter Petkovic pull the visitors level as half time approached. Petkovic capped his return to the scoresheet with his second of the day which ultimately proved the winner as Ashfield/Bunbury continued their slide down the table and into the relegation zone.
Sorrento have been the big improver over the past month and were strengthened on the weekend by the return of defender Kevin Murphy from suspension. After a scoreless first half, veteren striker Ross Greer popped up to score the only goal of the game and consign Fremantle City to their second loss in as many weeks as their lead at the top was narrowed to one point.
The gap between the top three and the rest of the field widened to four points following the Western Knights 2-1 away win over Perth. Young Knights midfielder Joe Vaz gave his side a 1-nil lead going into the break, which was then extended by John Nicolaou before Nick Mrdja pulled one back for the home team.
A Carl McDarby double and a single from Scott Broadley saw ECU Joondalup over the line at the Arena where they hosted Rockingham City. The home side had found consistency hard to come by earlier in the season but seem to be making a late charge for a finals berth having gone undefeated in their past three outings.
VAS ON THE MOVE
Back in W.A. after an 11 week stay in Norway with HamKam, Vas Kalogeracos isn't planning on sitting still for too long. Barely with enough time to catch his breathe, Kalogeracos will be jetting east next week where he'll be discussing his immediate future with an as-yet-unspecified Sydney-based NSL club.
CELULAR ONE PREMIER LEAGUE LEADING SCORERS
Club Goals Nigel Aubin Swan I.C. 11 Trim Morgan Fremantle City 10 Robin Dyers Floreat Athena 9 Carl McDarby ECU Joondalup 8 John Nicoloau Western Knights 8 Hamilton Thorp Sorrento 8 Adrian Caceras Perth 7 Savo Garic Ashfield/Bunbury 7 Paul Lincoln Inglewood United 7 Eugene Singeorzan Western Knights 7
JOEYS CALL-UP FOR THREE
Having finished fifth in the Under-16's event at the National Talent Identification Championships last week, there was further reason to celebrate for three Perth boys who were named in Ange Postecoglou's Joeys squad. Midfielders Anthony Danze and Ryan Fredericks and striker Louis Parkinson - all of Premier league outfit ECU Joondalup - were amongst 30 players that participated in a 3 day training camp immediately after the Championships.
The squad was assembled with the view of the up-coming Under-17 World Cup Qualifiers which will be held in Samoa this December. Postecoglou is hoping to hold further two camps before the qualifiers kick off and it is anticipated that another W.A. boy, Darren Broxton, will be invited to attend. Broxton was until recently also at Joondalup having only three weeks ago agreed to a three year d deal with English Premier League side Southampton.
ZABICA'S STILL GOT IT
A few weeks ago someone posted a message to the Oz-Soccer mailing list asking what had become of one-time Adelaide City and Socceroo goalkeeper Robbie Zabica who seemed to disappear off the map after a career threatening knee injury in mid-1994. The good news is that Zabica is still playing the game he loves in the W.A. State League where he is one of the reasons Inglewood United are currently sitting comfortably inside the Top Five.
Born in Spearwood, Zabica was a natural sportsman as a kid, excelling at cricket and soccer in particular. Having made the state cricket team at junior level, he contemplated a playing professional cricket having for a while. But at the age of 21 he opted for a career in soccer - "I was just placed in goal with 'Stay there Robbie' you're pretty tall," he'd recall in later years. Having spent his developmental years playing with Cockburn and Spearwood Dalmatinac, Zabica signed with State league outfit Stirling Macedonia in 1987 with whom his career suddenly blossomed.
Within 12 months he was snapped up by NSL heavyweights Adelaide City (195 games) with whom he would play for the next seven seasons and which included an incredible 170 consecutive appearances between January 1988 and November 1993. Zabica first tasted NSL success in his second year with the Zebra's, winning the 1989 Cup final by defeating Sydney Olympic 2-0.
Zabica's rise to the top was swift. By February 1990 he'd made his debut in national team colours in the 'B' friendly 3-0 win over touring Russian side Moscow Torpedo, and within 6 months he'd made his 'A' international debut against Indonesia in the Merlion Cup. In the years that followed Zabica would appear 42 teams for the Socceroos - which includes 18 'A' internationals - and played a prominent part in numerous tournaments which included the 1991 and 1992 President's Cup in South Korea.
At club level, 1991/92 saw City do the double. After downing Marconi in the Cup final, they finished the regular season in 4th place before steam-rolling their way to the title, taking out the Grand Final by defeating Melbourne Croatia 4-2 on penalties. Twelve months later saw another grand final appearance but there wasn't much to cheer about at the end of the day for the Zebra's as Marconi are out triumphant. But on a personal level 1992/93 was Zabica's best summer at club level to date and he was rewarded with the end of season N.S.L. Goalkeeper of the Year award. The following year saw another winners medal added to his impressive list of trophies when the Zebra's took out the Grand Final 1-0 over Melbourne Knights.
Under national coach Eddie Thomson, Zabica was regarded as first choice 'keeper on the Socceroos tour of Central and South America that preceded the 1994 World Cup qualifiers, a period that would have it's up and downs for the then 30-year old. Just 17 minutes into the away leg of the series against Canada, Zabica received his marching orders for taking down Domenic Mobilio and was forced to watch from the sidelines as Australia triumphed on penalties in Sydney.
Having missed the home leg against Argentina, Zabica was recalled for the game in Buenos Aires which many fondly recall as his best in a Socceroos jersey. The match saw some brilliant football from both sides and the Australian goalkeeper had the game of his life. Twice he kept out close range Oscar Ruggeri headers with flying saves, later blocking a thundering Abel Balbo shot from a tight angle with his legs. At the end of the day it was only an unlucky looping own goal by captain Alex Tobin that prevented Australia from a World Cup Finals spot in the U.S.A. Zabica still rates this amongst the highlights of his time on the international stage.
It was in the May 1994 Kirin Cup in Japan that Zabica's career came to a crashing halt. In the opening match against the host nation, he ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee when making a save. It looked to have ended his professional career, on his return to Australia Zabica announced his retirement from the game before undergoing an operation to repair the damage that was later to prove a resounding success. For the next two years he stayed out of the game, relocating with his young family to Perth and settling into domestic life.
It was the winter of 1996 the marked Zabica's return, appearing in the in the W.A. State League with Spearwood Dalmatinac. A sensational season was capped the honour of captaining the state team against Indonesia and the W.A. Goalkeeper of the Year award.
Tipped to be part of Perth Glory's squad when they entered the N.S.L. in 1996/97, Zabica turned down the offer having voiced his concern over the level of commitment required. In any case, he did answer the call late in the campaign, appearing in Glory's last 7 games and bringing with him much needed experience and confidence to the defence as the club narrowly missed out on a finals berth.
Still rated one of the best 'keepers in the land at the age of 33, it speaks volumes for Zabica's ability that in June 1997 English club Bradford City signed him in a deal reportedly worth $250,000. Unfortunately his career in the U.K. lasted only seven months during which time there were only five first team appearances. "Zabica's move never really worked out due to the injuries he suffered," Bantams boss Paul Jewel said at the time. "He had a reconstruction of his knee while here and there have also been signs of arthritis. It is disappointing for him and us." By mutual consent his contract was cancelled and Zabica, his wife and two boys headed back to Perth once again.
Upon his return the 195 centimetre tall goalkeeper re-joined Spearwood Dalmatinac, turning in some fine performances which saw him in line for a return to Glory colours. This wasn't to be - Glory signed Danny Milosevic instead - and 1999 saw another strong season from Zabica, this time in the colours of Bayswater City.
This winter saw Zabica join Inglewood United late in the piece, missing the pre-season Night Series through his cricketing commitments. Back in time for the kick-off of the 2000 Premier League, he has established himself as a first team regular - despite pressure from up-and-coming 'keeper Oliver Taseski - and has been a commanding presence at the heart of the United defence. Now 36 years old, Zabica has brought to the United side a wealth of experience while his agility still amazes many as he protects his goal. Testament to this is that in 18 League and Cup clashes this season, Zabica has conceded only 16 goals. There have been suggestions that he might call it a day after the current campaign (from what I've seen, I'm sure Zabica could play at this level for at least another 5 years). But with United in line for a Top Five play-off berth, what better way would there be for one of the games great than to bow out having added another medal to an already impressive list of honours.
CELULAR ONE PREMIER LEAGUE
Inglewood United ventured to Cockburn City and took into the game a typical away team approach - defending in numbers and relying on a quick break by their strikers to sneak a goal. The opening period was a scrappy affair with City having the better of play but United the first clear cut chance on goal. Alex Cummings lobbed an partial clearance back into the area which it dropped at young defender Jason Godfrey, unmarked and in front of goal, but it caught him off-guard and he steered the ball wide of the post.
Play settled after 20 minutes with City dominate in the middle of the park where Chrisitan Alvarez, Paul Cooke and Antonio Naglieri were showing their skills but the home side was unable to break down United's strong defence. Naglieri came close when he headed Alvarez's cross against the bar, and shortly after Alvarez broke through the centre only to be brought down when rounding 'keeper Robert Zabica - referee Lou Prospero played the advantage but City were unable to capitalise. Their best chance of the half came late when Craig Anderson had a strong shot on the run saved low by Zabica. United didn't create a lot of chances for themselves and seemed content to see out the half in defence.
Nil-all at the break, City came out with all guns firing with Cooke and Gary Numan wreaking havoc down the flanks. Eventually the deadlock was broken when Joshua Pescud put Cook clear and the young midfielder cleverly lobbed the ball over Zabica to give the home side a deserved lead. The game livened up with United now with nothing to lose and it wasn't long before they were back on level terms - a clearance of the line was fired back to Lincoln who thundered it home. Minutes after Steve MacDonald headed over Lincoln was put through and cooly lobbed Dino Pacella to turn the game on it's head. City refused to concede and fought to find an equaliser - Naglieri just failed to make contact with a cross from close range, Alvarez fired high, and Pescud brought out the best in Zabica as the visitors held on to take the three points.
Feeling the combined effects of injury and players on State team duty, ECU Joondalup enticed Joe Kelly out of retirement during the week for the away clash with Sorrento. It proved to be a genuis recruitment as Kelly hit the only goal of the afternoon in the 88th minute to put the club on a level footing with the other sides in the battle to avoid the drop. And Rockingham City stole a much needed point off Ashfield/Bunbury as the sides played out a 1-all draw - defender Steve Gillibrand put the visitors ahead only for Paul Da Costa to put Rockingham level.
Perth leapt into third place on the weekend - albeit temporarily - with a shock 2-nil win over League leaders Fremantle City at Ken Allen Field. Former West Ham United youth payer Jamie Coyne was the visitors hero in scoring both goals in a match marred by the windy conditions. Perth's opening goal came after Todd Howarth and Mark Pottier combined down the left flank, the latter playing in a cross which 'keeper Alan Dunlop parried as far as Coyne who had the enviable task of tucking the ball home from close range. The second came in similar circumstances with the supplier this time being midfielder Gary Upton. Fremantle's best chance came from a Gary Faria corner but the ball slammed into the bar. But the day really belonged to the Perth defence of Craig Naven, Stephen Willey and Aaron Cole who fought valiantly to resist everything the home side threw at them.
At Frank Drago Reserve, the clash between Bayswater City and Western Knights was abandoned 30 minutes before the scheduled kick-off time due to the poor conditions. The pitch was in poor condition last week when Bayswater hosted Fremantle City and the home side didn't train on the surface during the week in the hope it might recover, but heavy rains in the latter part of the week saw that a ball would not be kicked at the ground over the weekend. The game was played the following Wednesday evening at Macedonia Park with John Nicolaou scoring his eighth goal of the winter to give the Knights the lead. He then turned provider, setting up Ray Marinovic to net a header two minutes from time to secure the points.
In the Sunday game, struggling Floreat Athena travelled to Middle Swan where they faced Swan I.C. Winger Rory Mouttet was the hero for the home side as twice his persistence in chasing the loose ball paid off with goals for the side. On both occasions the ball spilt free inside the area, Mouttet pounced and twice found the net from close range. Leading scorer Nigel Aubin made it 3-0 from the penalty spot before Robin Dyer bagged a late consolation, tapping home Troy Bernard's cross. The win allowed Swan I.C. to climb over Perth and re-claim third place.
The promotion race in the First Division looks to be a two horse race with seven rounds remaining. It was hard work for leaders Bassendean Caledonians (37 points) to against Perth City who had a 2-0 lead at the break. But Caledonians bagged three in the second half to steal the three points and keep their two point break at the top. Second placed Stirling Lions (35) defeated Leeming Strikers 1-0 while the other sides in the running, Queens Park (32) and Dianella White Eagles(31), defeated Waneroo City and Armadale respectively.
2000 NATIONAL TALENT IDENTIFICATION CHAMPSIONSHIPS
The best of the nations young players took their place at the National Talent Identification Championships hosted by the New South Wales Soccer Federation during the week. Staged at Valentine Sports Park, the tournament this year showcased both male and female players in the Under-15 and Under-16 age brackets. Competing at this years event were teams from New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, Queensland, Northern New South Wales, Western Australia, the Australian Capital Territory, Country New South Wales, Tasmania, Northern Territory, and Country Victoria.
Playing in Group B, the W.A. Under-15's were outplayed in their opening match by a powerful New South Wales side, eventually succumbing 0-3. Two down at the break, coach Richard Slade made four changes at the break but the task was made all that more difficult for W.A. when Paul Wright was dismissed in the 57th minute of play.
The following day they bounced back to recorded their first point of the tournament in a hard-fought 1-all draw with South Australia, defender Ryan Townsend getting the all important goal for W.A. five minutes from full-time. Despite the point, it was not all smiles in the camp after the match, Damir Kuduzovic came off injured after 35 minutes and was forced to sit out the next two games.
By Day Three the boys had put their first day blues behind them as they faced the Australian Capital Territory. First half goals from Brian Hedges and Stefan Smiljanvic ensured maximum points for the first time and put the side in equal third place on the Group B table, one point behind second placed Northern New South Wales and well in contention for a spot in the Semi-Finals.
It was Northern New South Wales that the came up against on Day Four in what was a make-or-break match for the teams with both sides seeking maximum points in order to secure their spot in the finals stage. Nil-all at the break, two second half strikes from the 'home' side made sure it was them that came away with the goods.
The final group stage match was against Country Victoria and there was an early set-back for W.A. when Nick Ward came off injured after just 9 minutes. Despite this, it was the Perth lads that drew first blood, substitute Wright striking in the 24th minute to give his side the lead. But the Victorian side were made of stern stuff and pulled a goal back, then netting a second after the interval to leave W.A. in 5th spot on the final Group B ladder.
This teed-up a Finals stage clash with a Northern Territory side that had scored only once in four games while seeing 24 goals go past them at the other end. And that trend continued as W.A. thumped them 7-1 to finish the championship in 9th place. The Under-15 tournament was taken out by Queensland who fought off a determined New South Wales line-up in the Final to earn themselves the trophy through the only goal of the game scored in the 2nd minute of play by Mark Cruse.
The West Australian Under-15 squad for the 2000 National Talent Identification Championships was Alan Matteucci, Ryan Townsend, Jeff Bright, Dean Apelgren, Fred Wilson, Jordan Rhodes, Matthew Danskin, John Migas, Scott Royal, Brian Hedges, Paul Wright, Damir Kuduzovic, Stefan Smiljanvic, Nick Ward, Liam Lilly and Matthew Pirga.
Our under-16's got their tournament underway with two successive losses. Anthony Danze put the side ahead after 26 minutes to give W.A. a 1-nil lead at the break. When Louis Parkinson added a second shortly after the re-start victory looked a sure thing for W.A.. But it wasn't to be their day as the A.C.T. side slammed three past them to take out the points at the end of the day. It was a similar story against Tasmania, an early strike from Parkinson followed by another by Danze meant W.A. were 2-1 ahead at half-time. But again they let the lead slip with Tasmania slotting in two goals to make the final margin 2-3.
By Day Three the boys had re-discovered the form they displayed recently in Singapore during the Lion City Cup and were 5-nil up at the break. Danze and Chad Barton gave us a 2-0 lead over Country Victoria after just 12 minutes while three goals - Parkinson, Michael Bushby and Barton - in the space of four minutes effectively killed off the game. Bushby completed the route late in the second half.
First half against bottom placed Northern Territory was hard going and at the break the scorers were yet to be bothered. The floodgates opened with the re-start as Parkinson smashed a hat-trick with singles coming from Danze and Barton ensuring a 6-0 victory. W.A. kept their third consecutive clean sheet as they ran out triumph by a 3-0 margin over Country N.S.W. in the final Group match, earning themselves third place behind the A.C.T. and Tasmania.
The Finals stage game pitted W.A. against Victoria in a hard fought clash which W.A. won 3-2, leaving the side in 5th place in the final Under-16's standings. New South Wales swept aside Northern New South Wales 3-nil to claim the trophy, the goals coming from Jay Lucas (2) and Michael Di Meglio.
The West Australian Under-16 squad for the 2008 National Talent Identification Championships was Michael Cross, Keith Taylor, Ryan Fredericks, Shaun Kilkelly, James Hesketh, Michael Bushby, Anthony Danze, Sam Miller, Chad Barton, Louis Parkinson, Scott Bulloch, Damien Delaurentis, Joseph Reale, Ashwin Nair, Daniel Webb and Gianni Papalia.
BAYSWATER'S WOES CONTINUE
Sam Todaro this week became the Bayswater City Panthers's third coach of the season - fourth if you include Alan MacKenzie who was caretaker coach last week.
Former St. George and W.A. State team player Allan Pottier started at the helm but having gone winless in the pre-season Night Series and the opening three rounds of the Premier League, he stepped down to be replaced by Jimmy Pearson. But after 11 weeks in the job, Pearson too found the kitchen too hot for his liking and departed the scene a fortnight ago. MacKenzie then stepped into the breach for one week while Todaro was interstate with the State Women's Under-14 team.
Most recently in charge of Bayswater's reserves side, Todaro takes up the senior position with the business end of the season fast approaching and the club firmly rooted at the foot of the Premier League ladder. "With only a handful of games 'til the end of the season, obviously we're not happy with the way the season has gone, but we've had our problems, not that I'm making excuses."
The general feeling around the club is that Lady Luck has not been kind to Bayswater this season, a number of games slipping away through pure bad luck. "Yeah, things have gone against us at times. There have been games that we have completely dominated - like against Inglewood - where we controlled the game and did everything right but put the ball away and they had one shot and that was the winner. But that's the game, some days it will go your way, other it's against you. Unfortunately we've had a lot of the latter this year."
And it's not just been in the coaching department that Bayswater have seen change this winter. Several first team squad members have decided to jump ship during the season, including some it was hoped would play an important part keeping the club in the Premier League. Gone is the experience of Pottier, Mark Wingell and his brother Dale Wingell (both former Perth Glory players) plus a slew of young talents including Bobbi Klenkovski, Simon Madaschi and Albert Odei Tutu. Todaro said that the departure of such players had an instability effect at Bayswater, "whether that was down to our situation with the club sitting low on the table or something else I'd don't know, but it certainly hasn't helped."
In their place have come young defender Michael Icanovski (ex-Perth), one-time State midfielder Karl Atley (ex-Inglewood United) and promising striker Carson Backhouse (ex-Swan I.C.). In addition to this trio, several players have been promoted through the clubs ranks and grabbed the opportunity of first team exposure with both hands. "I'm pleased with the number of young players we've been able to blood this season," said Todaro. "Youngsters who've come through the Under-18's and Under-21's, they're the future of the club." Jamie Kumkar, Paul and Simon Da San Martino are three such players who have established themselves as first team regulars this winter.
With eight games remaining in the regular Premier League season Todaro hasn't confined his side to the First Division just yet. "At this stage I'm optimistic that we can still avoid relegation, I mean, we're only one point behind Rockingham City and I'm positive that, with a change of luck, we can stay up." And the young coach is already looking towards the 2001 season. "In the remaining rounds I want to keep introducing young players to the game at this level, hopefully that will work for us when next season comes around."
Todaro was recently in Queensland at the Australian's Women's Soccer Association Championships where he was in charge of the W.A. Under-14 outfit. The W.A. side ended the tournament in 7th place, defeating Tasmania in the play-off. "The girls did very well there," he said. "They set themselves individual goals - unfortunately they didn't achieve some of them - but they all played their hearts out and had a great time. Aside from the first game where we lost to New South Wales Country, we were always competitive and unlucky not to score a few more goals which would have swung a few results our way."
TOUGH GAMES COMING FOR INGLEWOOD
It will be a tough fortnight for second-placed Inglewood United who take fifth-placed Cockburn City, and fourth-placed Swan I.C. in coming weeks. "The next fortnight will be the two biggest games for us," said coach John Hunter during the week. "Cockburn is one of the challengers for a finals spot. If we beat them, it will give us a break. They are a couple of very tough games. We are very strong in defence and I am confident we will win both games."
Inglewood United has steadily improved its position after a disappointing start to their season. "Everyone's talking about Fremantle City and the Western Knights," Hunter said. "But we have been working steadily and are a very solid unit. We don't have any super stars. We don't score a lot of goals, but don't concede many, either."
In fact the club have the best defensive record of the competition, conceding just 10 goals in 14 outings before the weekend. This is largely down to the efforts of a strong backline which is marshalled by former-Socceroo Robert Zabica and features the talents of Alex Cummings, Steve MacDonald and Jamie Goodman on a regular basis.
SUN SHINES FOR FARIA
The same day that it was announced Ivan Ergic was leaving Perth Glory, the club introduced their latest recruit, outstanding Fremantle City midfielder Gary Faria to the public. 20-year old Faria has agreed terms on a two year contract with the NSL outfit having previously been on loan to the club for a short spell in February/March 2000.
Faria first came to the attention of the W.A. soccer public in 1998 when he took out the State League's Rookie of the Year award following a consistent season with Fremantle City. He was subsequently called up for his first appearance in state colours for a friendly against NSL new-comers Northern Spirit. 1999 saw Faria take out his club's Player of the Year trophy and another outing for W.A., this time against Parramatta Power in which the midfielder sparkled and topped off the night with a goal as the State side clinched victory.
With the Glory squad decimated by injury and suspension early in 2000, coach Bernd Stange requested Faria's services for a month's loan from Fremantle City and, two days and one training run later, he made his NSL debut at Perth Oval against the Wollongong Wolves. Stange always had Faria pegged as a future Glory player as he explained at the time, "Gary is one of the best in the local League, he's a runner and a fighter ... maybe we'll find a new player for Glory in him."
After his NSL stint, Faria returned to the W.A. competition and has been an integral part of Fremantle City's charge up the ladder this season. The club are currently sitting in the No.1 position and are clear favourites to take out the title.
WA PREMIER LEAGUE
The slide of the competition's early pace-setters - Swan I.C. and Ashfield/Bunbury - continued over the weekend. Swan I.C. played host to fast improving Cockburn City who continued their fantastic form of late, recording a 1-nil win through a second half strike from Antonio Naglieri. The result sent Cockburn City into the Top Five for the first time this winter and left the home side looking like having to fight to hold onto their play-off aim.
Sorrento continued their fight to avoid relegation with a 4-0 thrashing of Ashfield/Bunbury who have now gone five weeks without recording a win, scoring twice and conceding nine goals over that period. Ross Greer struck in the first half to give the visitors a 1-0 lead at the break, and another from his boot plus others from Ryan Jeans and Glenn Thomas made sure of the points. Ashfield/Bunbury were undefeated after four rounds, but are now looking at the very real possibility of relegation with eight rounds left.
Inglewood United stole second place on the ladder with a 2-0 win over Rockingham City. Young Daniel Harrop scored in the first five minutes and Paul Lincoln doubled the lead 15 minutes from full-time. Vinko Buljubasic worked hard in midfield for United, with Lee Crosby and forward Ryan Newhill the sides others shining lights. "After the first goal it was a battle," coach John Hunter said post-match. "They made it very tough for us. We created more chances and deserved to win."
Things were square at the break between ECU Joondalup and Perth with goals from Carl McDarby and Boni Botha respectively cancelling each other out at the Arena. It was a similar story after the re-start with Michael Garcia (Joondalup) and Mark Pottier (Perth) seeing to it that both teams went home with a point.
Floreat Athena breathed a sign of relief with the final whistle at Litis Stadium where they hung on to a 3-2 lead to take out the points in a spiteful affair. Athena, who have struggled for form in recent outings, had utility Adrian Sutton to thank for taking the lead two minutes into the contest in controversial circumstances - his shot appeared to have been cleared off the line only for the referee to award the goal. The lead was increased seven minutes from the break, Knights 'keeper Darren Williams was caught chasing the ball well outside his box, Scott Daley pounced on the chance only to hit his shot into the body of Williams but Robin Dyers was on hand to tuck him the rebound. The second half saw both side's miss golden opportunities to score and eventually the Knights came back into the match with a double from in-form John Nicoloau. But it wasn't enough to earn the visitors a point and Sutton swooped late in the game to bag his second of the day.
GASPAR IN NATIONAL SQUAD
Perth-born midfielder Robbie Gaspar, who is now plying his trade with Sydney Olympic, has been included in Ange Postecoglou's national Under-20 training squad. The 19-year old began his career with the Western Knights, had a brief spell with Croatian club Hajduk Split before joining Sorrento in the W.A. Premier League last winter. He joined NSL club Sydney Olympic in the middle of 1999 having impressed at that years National Talent Identification Championships which saw him called up for national honours in the Australian Schoolboys side that toured the United Kingdom and Ireland last December.
2000 AUSTRALIAN WOMEN'S SOCCER ASSOCIATION CHAMPIONSHIPS
For the first time since 1991, the Australian's Women's Soccer Association combined their national junior and youth championships on Queensland's Gold Coast starting 2nd July. And the event attracted a record number of teams with a combined total of 21 regions being represented.
Ten teams took part in the Junior Championship (Under-14) - New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, the Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania, Northern New South Wales, Northern Territory, and New South Wales Country. In the Youth Championship (Under-17), eleven sides battled it out - the above ten plus a representative side from New Zealand.
W.A. have never had a strong team at these events as was evidenced last year when held at Gibney Reserve in Perth. The locals finished last in their group having lost all four qualifying matches but put some respectability back into their tournament with a 6-nil thrashing of Tasmania in the 9th Place Playoff. All wasn't lost for the host state, however, as two of their players - midfielders Lisa de Vanna and Colette McCallum - made the All-Star team.
The future of the sport in W.A. is strong after the recent successes of Perth Glory in the N.S.L. and the Matilda's at international level. This is no more so that at Inglewood United who had three girls - Linda Ostrick (11), Laura Turnbull (12) and Carmen Mutton (12) - in the Junior side which competed in Queensland.
Bruna Mutton, mother of Carmen, believes women's soccer has taken off in leaps and bounds in the past few years and said the set-up at United in particular was fantastic in fostering young talent. "The girls love playing soccer and the club has helped them every step of the way. The coaches are very supportive and everyone has made sure we had the funs to go to Queensland."
Unfortunately, there wasn't a lot to cheer about in the W.A. sides opening fixture, a 0-5 loss to New South Wales Country. The Country side dominated throughout and held a comfortable three goal lead at the half-way point, including a double from Sally Shippard.
Second cab off the rank were South Australia in what was to be a scrappy encounter that was dominated by a strong breeze blowing downfield on a sloping pitch, meaning both sides had the advantage for 35 minutes. S.A. used their first half 'help' to tuck the ball away twice in goalmouth scrambles, but W.A. failed to find the net despite their territorial advantage in the second period to lose 0-2.
The Group 2's bottom two sides were pitted against each other the next day which saw both the Northern Territory and W.A. girls come away with their first point of the event. In an entertaining match which both teams had their chances to win and it looked like being W.A's day when Tasha Vener beat the last defender to slot the ball home in the 23rd minute. But within two minutes N.T. hit back with an equaliser through an Emelia Cardona strike.
The final group match saw a 0-2 loss to the side from Northern New South Wales, enabling the W.A. team to finish in fourth position, above Northern Territory on goal difference. W.A. finished the tournament on a high, taking out 7th Place in the final standings by defeating Tasmania through a Carmen Mutton goal in the 7th minute. New South Wales defeated Queensland in the final 3-1 the following day. The A.C.T.'s Nicole Somi was named the Most Valuable Player in the Junior competition.
The 2000 West Australian Women's Youth (Under-17) squad was Megan Jenys, Claire Wragg (Armadale), Linda Ostrick, Caren Mutton, Laura Turnbull (Inglewood), Francezka Laurence, Jessica Pilcher (Joondalup Jags), Brid Dawson (Claremont Nedlands), Catherine Gooding (Lynwood Saints), Tasha Vener (Murdoch), Kylie Woodfin (Queens Park Thunder), Jessica Valvasori (Bayswater), Felicity Rogers, Julia McInerney (Claremont Nedlands), Jenna Sammut (Swan Valley) and Amber Roberts (Sorrento Joeys). The team officials were Sal Todaro (coach), Katy Rutter (manager) and Peter McMurtrie (sports trainer).
The Youth Championship promised a thrilling week's competition with Northern N.S.W. the favourites for the crown. That side featured no less than five members of the Australian Under-17 squad which recently competed in the Adidas Cup in America. Like their Junior counterparts, W.A.'s Youth side struggled last year, going down in all five group fixtures to finish bottom of the heap in Darwin where Melissa Gonzalez scored the state's only goal of the tournament.
W.A, kicked off this years event with a 5-nil thrashing at the hands of New South Wales who dominated from the outset and were more than worthy winners at the end of 70 minutes. Former Western Australian Collette McCallum opening N.S.W.'s account after just four minutes, Emma Davison later put away a goal in each half with the others coming from Kim McMinimee and an own goal.
A shock 0-1 loss to the Northern Territory followed, striker Melanie Healey bagging the all-important goal in the very first minute of play. Despite two early losses, spirits were high in the W.A. after national broadcaster Triple J adopted the W.A. side as their own, morning host Adam Spencer interviewing defender Angea Travers on an daily basis until the end of the tournament.
W.A. caught Queensland napping the next day, scoring their first goal of the tournament after less than a minute's play, Jessica Sardi the hero. The Maroons failed to settle and looked disorganised and shapeless for the remainder of the first half. A turnaround after the break however saw the Queenslanders finally hit back, scoring three goals in the space of nine minutes through Lana Harch (2) and Aivi Luik.
The Perth girls finally got their first points of the tournament by snatching a 1-0 win over Tasmania in dramatic circumstances. A hotly disputed penalty awarded with two minutes of play remaining was coverted by Elise Bogle. Aside from an early chance to W.A. which came back off the woodwork, South Australia were always in control of their clash and they ended up recording a 0-3 win to put them in contention for a finals berth.
The final round of matches saw W.A. take on the Australian Capital Territory side. With both sides playing for pride alone by this stage, the A.C.T. side earnt their second win of the event thanks to a great right foot strike from 16 metres by Kerenna Rawson to see the points go their way.
The Youth crown eventually went to South Australia who faced Northern new South Wales in the final. With the scores deadlocked at 0-0 after regulation and extra-time, penalties were required with the South Australian's triumphing 6-5. It was a day of double celebrations for the side as Stacey Stocco won the age-groups Most Valuable Player award.
The 2000 West Australian Women's Youth (Under-17) squad was Elena Fantasia, Jessica Sardi, Lydia Hirstm, Stacey Woodfin, Allarice Keswell, Morgan Deegan, Diane Murray, Angela Falcetta (Queens Park Thunder), Kelly McGrath (Claremont), Lindsay Easton, Kylie Goodwin (Armadale), Angea Travers (Cockburn), Elise Bogle (Sorrento), Ashley Bennett (Joondalup), Anna Sweetingham (Murdoch) and Rachel King (Victoria Park Rovers). The team officials were Nino Sardi (coach), Mimma Sardi (manager) and Peter McMurtrie (sports trainer).
CITY BREAKING AWAY
Fremantle City have hit their straps at the right time of the season and before the weekend had opened up a five point gap between them and second placed Western Knights in the Celular One Premier League. With the second half of the season underway, City are shaping up as the clear favourites to take out the premiership come in September.
"I think we're probably starting to peak now which I think is good," said midfielder Michael Mirco when interviewed by Paul Tombides on Channel 31. "For the first couple of games in the season we were unfortunate with some of our game play and that, but we're peaking now and we've got the players to do it." Mirco attributes this to the good work done by the club's coaching staff. "Stuart (Kamasz) and Mick Tetlow have done well, they work us hard at training and it's showing on the field now."
STATE TEAM HEADING TO INDONESIA?
Word about Perth is that the W.A. State team will be heading overseas within the next six to eight weeks to participate in a tournament in Indonesia, more specifically Surabaya. "There's has been some confirmation from the people in Indonesia but at this stage we are just waiting to see if it's been finalised," said Paul Wormley, State coach, during the week.
Wormley has been getting down to local grounds in recent weeks to find out "who's in form and who may be available" for his squad. "(I'll) probably look at a squad of maybe 25 and then bring it down to 18 for the actual tour if it does go ahead, because we've got to find out who's available with work commitments, etc ... but we'll go with 25 to begin with."
BULJUBASIC LOOKING AHEAD
The road to recovery has been a long and bumpy ride for Perth Glory sweeper Vinko Buljubasic. Since breaking his right leg in two places against Adelaide Sharks in November 1998, the former Australian Under-23 international has spent little time playing the game he loves. Part of the following 12 months were spent completing a coaching course which he then put into practice by taking control of a Western Knights junior side over the winter 1999 season.
Buljubasic commenced pre-season training with Glory in August of that year having convinced coach Bernd Stange that he was ready to resume playing. But his return was short-lived and, after three substitute appearances, a training run injury put the defender out for another four weeks at which stage he decided to write-off the remainder of the season.
In an effort to regain his fitness and touch, Buljubasic has turned to the W.A. State League where he is playing for Inglewood United, determined to put the set-backs behind him. "I think that's all in the past, I came back a bit too early. I was pretty anxious to get back into the side, but I had a 35 centimetre pin inserted into (my leg), so it made it very difficult for me to run and a lot of injuries occurred after that. I decided to take that out and that set me back another three or four months so I wasn't in contention for the finals. I'm just enjoying my time in the State League now and hopeful of getting a contract." Buljubasic has put in some outstanding performances for United of late and surely it's only a matter of time before Glory offer him the contract extension he's after.
W.A. DEVELOPMENT LEAGUE UNDER FIRE - AGAIN!
With the proposed the Perth Metropolitan Youth Development Summer League coming under fire from nation wide, Junior Soccer Association president Bill Oddy is determined to see the competition kick-off later in the year.
A fortnight ago the JSA asked for applications for the positions of Youth Development Officer and four level-three Coaches for the proposed league. More recently they have forwarded information to all JSA clubs inviting interested players to register for the league which is scheduled to begin in October. "The competition will go ahead as planned," Oddy said. "We are now awaiting Nick Tana to set up the new commission and get that body affiliated with us."
All this comes despite the protests of the Soccer Association of Western Australia. Paul Akos, president of that body, said that as of Wednesday details of the proposed league had not been submitted to SAWA for approval, as required by the regulations of the Australian Soccer Federation. It is expected that SAWA will be instructed by Soccer Australia not to sanction the league in its proposed form. "With all development plans for soccer in W.A., SAWA must receive such plans and have them considered by experts regarding the benefits to the players, the stake holders and the sport of soccer," Afkos said.
Soccer Australia chief executive David Woolley has already urged the JSA, which resigned its membership with SAWA earlier in the year, to re-join the state body immediately. Woolley also suggested the summer league may be rejected by Soccer Australia in its current form. Oddy has so far refused to take notice of these requests, saying the JSA had an independent and direct affiliation with Soccer Australia and therefore was under no obligation to gain SAWA approval for the league.
Soccer West Coast general manager Paul Tombides has raised a number of concerns over the league. He said he could not see what benefits it could offer to the development of the sport considering there area already five junior academies in Perth. "This league set up by Nick Tana will only be in competition with existing academies," Tombides said. The league would also clash with plans for an annual mini-tournament involving these academies that will be contested over the summer months.
Tombides once again highlighted the issue of player burn-out, saying that 14- and 16-year old players should not be playing competitively all year round. He is supported in this by director of the Saints Academy Gary Wiliams. Williams claims that by adding even a 14-game summer competition to the existing winter season, JSA will be exceeding UEFA guidelines which restrict the number of games a 14-year old should play to 26 games a year.
BUILDING THE DREAM
The plans for the refurbishment of the Kiev Sports Ground, home of W.A. State League side Inglewood United, are nearing fruition. The final plans for the new grandstand to replace the existing shedded area have been submitted to the relevant local council authorities and are expected to be approved in coming weeks.
It is anticipated that construction will commence at the end of September with a scheduled completion date of January/February 2001. The new stand is being built in conjunction with the club's major sponsors National Homes and BGC. The recent summer saw work carried out on the playing surface with new turf being laid and the installation of an irrigation system which has transformed the pitch area into one of the League's best.
INGLEWOOD UNITED vs SORRENTO
On a slippery pitch and facing torrential rain in the second half, Sorrento came away from the Kiev Sports ground - where they faced Inglewood United - unlucky not to get at least one point, of not more, out of the match.
Both sides took their time in settling into a rhythm of any sort with both making their fair share of mistakes early on. The best chances of the opening spell fell to the visitors when, with 9 minutes elapsed, Glenn Thomas pounced on loose ball but hammered wide from close range. Six minutes later Trevor Morgan turned past Michael Di Fulvio to try his luck from just inside the box but the shot didn't trouble 'keeper Robert Zabica who was well positioned for the save.
It was United that made the most of their first real opportunity when, in the 24th minute, Alex Josifovski evaded the Sorrento off-side trap to race onto a through ball from Ryan Newhill. Visiting goalkeeper Mike Harkness was left with no choice but to race out and pressure the striker, diving at his feet to take with him the ball and also Josifovski's legs. Referee Angelo Nardi had little choice but to book the 'keeper and award a penalty which Lee Crosby confidently stepped up to convert.
Seven minutes later midfielder Vinko Buljubasic did himself no favours in securing a further year on his Perth Glory contract when he missed a golden opportunity to put United two up. Having been put clear inside the area by Gary Andrews, Buljubasic mis-kicked a wet, bouncing ball from 6 metres and it flew the wrong side of the upright much to Harkness' delight.
Harkness controlled his area masterfully throughout the half, cutting out several high balls played inside and quick to take possession of every corner and free-kick that floated his general direction. He was ably assisted by the Sorrento backline who were forcing United to play the long ball into their attacking half. Right flanker Kevin Murphy was having a great game, making several penetrating runs and causing troubles in the United defence.
For the home side, skillful midfielder Newhill was used in an out-and-out attacking capacity which proved to be an inspired move by coach John Hunter. Newhill was in fine form for United, getting into position quickly and displayed some class touches to set up his teammates. It was expected that the home defence would struggle without influential captain Steve MacDonald, missing through an accumulation of yellow cards, but in his place Di Fulvio grabbed the opportunity of a first team appearance with both hands in teaming up with Alex Cummings and Jamie Goodman. The trio worked overtime, especially in the second half when they were under the hammer for long periods.
The last 15 minutes of the first half were dominated by a heavy downpour which saw the standard of the game degenerate markedly. Neither side could carve anything meaningful out in such conditions and the margin remained 1-0 going into the interval. The wind picked up during the break to the degree that Sorrento's substitutes were very reluctant to have their usual half-time kick about, and when they did venture out of the dug out, it was only for a few minutes.
Further rain greeted the players on their return for the second half and after five minutes Josifovski had what would be his sides only real chance of the period. The tall striker raced clear when the Sorrento off-side trap once again failed, and like earlier, Harkness was left as the only man between Josifovskli and the goal. But Josifovski muffed what should have been the simple task of chipping the 'keeper, instead blasting it into the 'keeper's legs and the ball deflected to safety.
The remainder of the match belonged to the visitors with several decent chances coming their way to get back on level terms. The 53rd minute saw veteran Ross Greer turn his marker and put a curling shot wide of Zabica but also the far post. Four minutes later a great cross from Leo Harman was controlled by Morgan who slipped it into the path of Ryan Jeans, but the skidding ball got way and his ill-directed shot went wide of the left post. And a great run down the right from Kevin Murphy was capped off with a fantastic curling cross into the 6 yard box which missed the diving head of Jeans but not Greer - only for the striker to mis-time his shot and it sailed over the bar.
An uncharacteristic fumble by Zabica in the 70th minute lead to another moment of panic in the United defence. A Sorrento cross was played too deep and Zabica took to have it covered, only for the greasy ball to slide through his hands. Sorrento substitute David Foster, who had chased up the initial cross enthusiastically, reacted quickly and further pressured the 'keeper who was forced to bat it out for a corner.
United dropped ten men behind the ball for long periods late in the game as their tried to stem the tide of Sorrento attacks, leaving Josifovski stranded as the lone target up front. They created few chances over the second 45 minute period and those United did muster were easily broken down well outside the area by a solid Sorrento backline. It wasn't until the addition of Paul Lincoln with 11 minutes left that United managed anything resembling a strike on goal - he somehow broke away from his man and hit a strong bullet-like shot from the corner of the box which unfortunately flew straight to Harkness.
The wind picked up midway through the half and was blowing against Sorrento to make matter worse for the visitors. None-the-less, Murphy was finding space to get down his wing and sent a series of crosses into the danger zone. With 15 minutes left, Thomas drove strongly from 20 metres and it required a fantastic backwards diving save from Zabica to keep the dipping ball out of the top corner. A Scott McLeod centring cross provided another golden chance, but Morgan couldn't get enough of his head on the ball to make a difference. Todd Harnwell put in a fantastic shot in the turn shot only to see it whiz wide from 7 metres, and in the last minute of play McLeod was unable to connect with a Harnwell corner for what was to be the last chance of entertaining game.
United were lucky to record a win against Sorrento and will need to improve if they expect to be challenging for the title at the busines end of the season, especially going on their second half efforts. Their saviour was once again former Socceroo Zabica who put in an outstanding performance between the posts. It was never more evident that in the second half when his command of the area was second-to-none and his agility, whether in the air or down low, proved to be Sorrento's undoing on a number of occasions.
Inglewood United : Robert Zabica, Jamie Goodman, Micheal Di Fulvio, Alex Cummings, Taki Nicolaides,
Grant Learmont (Paul Lincoln 79), Gary Andrews (Jamie D'Arcy 90), Vinko Buljubasic, Lee Crosby, Ryan
Newhill, Alex Josifovski
Sorrento : Mike Harkness, Richard Turnbull, David Colegate, Scott McLeod, Kevin Murphy, Leo Harman (David Foster 66), Glenn Thomas, Shaun Bowyer, Ryan Jeans (Todd Harnwell 66), Ross Greer, Trevor Morgan
Referee : Angelo Nardi
Bookings : Harkness (24), Learmont (25), Nicolaides (58), Harnwell (75)
Expulsions : None
Attendance : 250 (approx.)
CELULAR ONE PREMIER LEAGUE
Perth picked up three valuable points to move into the top five with a 1-nil win over Ashfield/Bunbury at Dorrien Gardens. In a match of many chances, the home side suffered an early blow when striker Nick Mrdja limped off after just minutes having been on the receiving end of an aggressive challenge from Gyula Koncesk. Perth dominated the half with Jamie Coyne, Rob Giorgi and Mark Pottier missing golden opportunities to get on the scoreboard. Seven minutes after the restart, a Vince Tana corner found Boni Botha - one of the shortest players on the park - who headed beyond the reach of Phil Jackson. The final score meant that Perth kept pace with the top five while Ashfield/Bunbury slipped to seventh after some indifferent results of late, winning just twice and drawing once in their past seven encounters.
Cockburn City moved into contention for a top five berth with a 3-1 win over Floreat Athena. City, who haven't looked back since signing one-time Socceroo 'keeper Michael Petkovic, relied on two goals from young forward Antonio Naglieri and another by Christian Alvarez to negate Robin Dyers strike. Athena, who had problems rekindling their pre-season Night Series form once the season proper got underway, looked to have turned the corner with three wins and a draw in their past four outings, but this loss puts them back in the relegation danger zone.
The shock of the round came at Dowling Street where struggling Rockingham City defeated Swan I.C. 2-1. Swan I.C's new signing Robbie Peruzza put the visitors ahead early in the first half but, for the second time in as many weeks, Swan I.C. faded in the second period to allow the opponents to take control of the match, goals from Danny Abbas and Steve Tsallis getting the home side over the line. The win lifted Rockingham off the bottom of the table for the first time this season, but they have a long way to go if they want to avoid relegation come September. Swan I.C. were sitting pretty after six rounds, undefeated in spot, but have found that consistency hard to come by since, winning just once in their last 6 games and will need to turn that form around to make their ambitions of a top five finish become reality.
The Bayswater City Panthers took Rockingham's place at the foot of the ladder following a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of ECU Joondalup. A double by Carl McDarby and singles from Keith Shortall and Michael Garcia ensured Joondalup did the double over Bayswater this year - the 2nd Round clash ended 3-0 to the Saints' - and cancelled out Sal Marrapodi's first half striker. The three much needed points pleased coach Paul Simmons no end - his side had taken just one point from the 18 on offer in Joondalup's past six outings, and the four goal haul by far outweighed the three they'd bagged over that same period.
Sunday saw the top of the table clash between the Western Knights and Fremantle City at Perry Lakes Stadium and it was a repeat of when the clubs met earlier in the year with City running out 3-nil victors. It was Knights player Paul McVittie that was the architect of the visitors win, carving up the middle of the park and setting his side into attack with some deft headers and unerring headers. Tall defender Dave Evans got procedings underway with a goal 5 minutes out from the half-time break. Trim Morgan snared his eighth of the winter in the 72nd minute, and substitute Abdul Kamara sealed the points minutes before full-time. "This win is what we wanted," McVittie said after the game. "It give us a buffer at the top of the premiership table, but we still have a long way to go. We have hit form at the right time. They (the Knights) are a good side, they are a well organised side." Aside from the 33-year old midfielder, there were outstanding performances from his teammates goalkeeper Alan Dunlop who has now gone 496 minutes (five and a half games) without conceding a goal, central defender Evans and right back Cesare de Bartolo. For the Knights - who have been in fine form of late and hadn't lost in seven games prior to the weekend - it was defenders Andy Wright and David Annal that showed patches of class.
The fight to avoid relegation is hotting up with three teams making the drop this season. Rockingham City and Bayswater look certain to go down with the current contenders for that third spot being Joondalup, Floreat Athena and Sorrento. Coming the other way will be the First Division champions as Soccer West Coast cut the Premier League down to ten sides for the 2001 season. In the First Division, Bassendean Caledonian won 3-0 over Southside United to open up a two point gap over joint second-placed Queens Park and the Stirling Lions. Queens Park were held to a nil-all draw by fourth-placed the Dianella White Eagles while Stirling Lions defeated Kingsway Olympic 2-1.
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This page was last updated on the 30th August, 2000