CACERAS CLOSE TO SAINTS DEBUT (by Jeremy Lowe of triballfootball.com)
West Australian Adrian Caceras is expected to soon make his first team debut for Southampton. Caceras can't stop scoring for the Saints reserves team and after scoring two more goals against Coventry in front of manager Stuart Gray it cannot be too long before the Saints boss uses him in the first team. With Jay Lucas joining Southampton next season - and with Scott McDonald in the club's youth set-up - there's every possibility that the Saints' attack in the future will be Aussie lead.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND FOUR
Percy Doyle Reserve on Saturday was the venue for the top-of-the-table showdown between Sorrento and Perth. The home side went into the game with a hat-trick of 5-2 wins under their belt, and there were more goals on the menu when the trio of Richard Turnbull, Scott McLeod and Stuart Banks passed late fitness tests to take their place in Trevor Morgan's line-up. Perth's secret in the past year and half has been an extremely stable playing roster, the only substantial change to Graham Normanton's starting eleven being 17-year old Gianni Papalia who replaced Robert Scarparolo between the posts.
On a well-manicured pitch bathed in afternoon sunlight, Sorrento came out of the blocks with a bang and threatened to take hold of the game inside the opening few minutes with some elegant passing of the ball. Todd Harnwell looked lively as an out-and-out attacker and in the 6th minute was brought down by Papalia, referee Derek Minett somewhat controversially pointing to the spot only for Ross Greer to hit the penalty hit well wide of the post. Two minutes later Jared Love made amends by beating the defence to a searching cross-field ball to hit a low drive under the body of Papalia from 14-metres which gave Sorrento the lead.
The visitors settled immediately after Love's opener and began to string together some promising attacks of their own. In the 15th minute Robbie Gasper, Robert Giorgi and Boni Botha combined to sent Vince Tana down the flank, his centring ball found Botha but the small striker appeared to have been impeded by a defender and he couldn't make the most of the opportunity. A few minutes later David Onoforo was sent through the middle but Sorrento 'keeper Neil Young proved a worthy opponent and foiled his attempt from close range. Perth's hard work paid off in the 18th minute when Gasper scored what will go down as one of the goals of the season. Onoforo pressured Young to mis-kick his clearance to Gasper who, 22-metres from goal, took a couple of steps before delicately chipping the ball over the retreating 'keeper, over the head of defender Danny Hill on the line and under the crossbar. It really was something special and a goal worthy of many a television replay.
What followed was a period in which neither side controlled play but both carved out a number of goal-scoring opportunities through some ingenious lead-up work. Love stripped Stephen Willey for pace in the 21st minute and lobbed the ball deep into the area, Greer headed it back across the face of goal towards Harnwell and Papalia scarpered off his line to cut out the danger. Two minutes later Gasper broke free to loop the ball into the box where it landed on the head of Onoforo, but his attempt flew straight to Young. The clearest chance came after 29 minutes, Harnwell found Richard Turnbull out wide and his first time cross picked out Glenn Thomas who scooped the ball over from close-range.
After half an hours' play Perth looked the more comfortable side, building their attacks slowly from the back and in no apparent rush to get forward. In the centre of the park it was Gasper and Jamie Coyne that were running the show, while Onoforo was especially dangerous when taking on the opposing defence. Sorrento's main forward thrust was coming from out wide, particularly the right where Turnbull and Love were functioning like a well-oiled machine. Harnwell was causing concern for the visiting back- three of Craig Naven, Perry Ielati and Aaron Cole, but in general they presented Sorrento with few opportunities.
As the opening 45 minutes came to a close it was the home side that picked up the pace. A Love corner was sent goalward by McLeod but somehow Papalia kept his powerful header out. Shortly after Love was involved again when he sped onto a long clearance and was squeezed off the ball by Willey and Naven inside the area, referee Minett awarding Sorrento what was a very soft penalty indeed. This time it was Michael Garcia that stepped up and confidently sent Papalia the wrong way to give the home side the lead just a minute from the interval.
The start of the second half got underway with the visitors directing traffic. Two minutes in and Young made a courageous smothering save at the feet Cole when he got forward quickly after the ball was turned over in the middle. Next Gasper found Willey out wide and his angled shot rocketed the wrong side of the post. Perth were going forward in waves and had their opponents well and truly on the back foot only to find the Sorrento players up to the task. But in the 50th minute they were caught ball-watching when Gapser's free-kick from just outside the area on the right bobbled to Onoforo who had all the time in the world to side-foot it past Young from close range. It was a momentary lapse in concentration in the heart of Sorrento's and against a side like Perth you are always going to get punished for such errors.
Perth continued to press forward and there was little their opponents could do but defend en-masse. Tana found Giorgi who skilfully turned an opponent before unleashing a blistering shot which Young parried, Onoforo pounced on the loose ball but took too long to shoot and the 'keeper scrambled back into position. Just after the hour mark Willey's cross flicked the head of a defender and landed in the path of the on-rushing Tana whose explosive from the top of the area flew narrowly over the top. Some frustrations were starting to creep into the game from players on both sides, and matters were not helped by some consistent refereeing which deteriorated the longer the game went.
All Sorrento had mustered so far was a few scattered half-chances, the best of which fell to Harnwell and Love would were both unable to capitalise. Perth's backline was simply too organised to allow their opponents much time or space, forcing Sorrento to shoot from long range. They did manage to penetrate the defence on a couple of occasions, but every time Papalia quickly came off his line to halt proceedings. Sorrento were showing signs of getting on top in the middle where Peter Butler and Glenn Thomas were stifling the creativity of their counter-parts, but there was just no way through the stubborn Perth defence.
Minett gave his third penalty of the game in the 73rd minute, this one to Perth, and just what it was awarded for is anyone's guess! In any case Mark Pottier, who had just replaced Coyne, knocked it past Young and into the bottom corner of the goal to put the visitors ahead for the first time today. Three minutes later Willey's cross was bound for Onoforo but defender Stuart Banks knocked it to safety before the Perth player could control. And not long after, Pottier released Botha with only Young to beat but his low shot from 9-metres didn't trouble the Sorrento custodian.
An all-action final 10 minutes ensured in which the referee deservedly earnt the wrath of the home crowd. With seven minutes left Minett allowed play to continue after a blatant handball by Giorgi, only to halt the game some 30 seconds later to award a free-kick after consulting both assistants. After 86 minutes Sorrento would have had a smashing equaliser if not for a fabulous save from Papalia to deny Harnwell's drive from 14-metres. The home side had by now worked out how to get behind their opponents defence and were making the most of the time remaining. Perth however stood firm to repel attack after attack despite the mounting pressure. Three minutes into added time, Love seized upon a poor clearance and hit a speculative shot from 15-metres which flew over Papalia and dropped the right side of the bar for a dramatic last-minute equaliser. Whether Love intended to shoot or cross is still up for debate, but either way he enabled Sorrento to snatch a point from a game in which they rarely had a shot after the break.
In a game that will go down as one of the best of this season, it must be said that Sorrento deserved a share of the points today. Despite finding the Perth backline a very tough nut to crack, they continually came at their opponents with enough vigour to make sure Perth could not afford to relax for even one minute. Harnwell, Love and Turnbull impressed for the home side in the first half, while after the break Young and McLeod played key roles in keeping them in the contest. Gasper was without a doubt the player of the match, he stamped his class all over this game with some superb distribution and great reading of the play. Coyne also stood out while Naven was superb in his command of the Perth defence. Despite some dreadful refereeing, the quality of these two teams shone in a game that had a little bit of everything - great skill, a liberal dose of controversy, one of the goals of the season and an equaliser right on the death knock - to keep the crowd on the edge of their seats right up to the final whistle.
Sorrento : Neil Young, Richard Turnbull, Scott McLeod, Daniel Hill, Stuart Banks (Shaun Bowyer 73), Jared
Love, Micheal Garcia, Peter Butler, Glenn Thomas (Ryan Jeans 73), Ross Greer, Todd Harnwell
Perth : Gianni Papalia, Craig Naven, Perry Ielati, Aaron Cole, Stephen Willey (Michael Icanovski 78), Vince Tana, Jamie Coyne (Mark Pottier 72), Robert Giorgi, Robbie Gasper (Dino Djulbic 85), Boni Botha, David Onoforo
Referee : Derek Minett
Cautions : Butler (12), Hill (72), Greer (89)
Dismissals : None
Attendance : 400 (approx.)
At the Edith Cowan University grounds, ECU Joondalup were hoping to kick-start their season against mid-table opponents Cockburn City. The game started at a frantic pace and it wasn't long before Joondalup had the City 'keeper diving to his right to save a Sandy Robertson long range effort which looked bound for the top corner. The opening 15 minutes saw the home side continually pressing their opponents defence and Joondalup's persistence paid off when Abdul Kamara pressured the City custodian into spilling Sean Fallon's cross and, with his back to goal, Joel Peacock produced a tremendous bicycle kick to make it 1-0. Less than two minutes later City were back on level terms after a rare foray into the Joondalup half. Goalkeeper Peter Stewart, making his first start of the season ahead of Gareth Deeg, played a goal-kick short to Jamie Kuzmanovich whose first-time pass inside to Gerry McEwan took a shocking bounce and Peter Petkovic drilled it back past the young 'keeper. In the 22nd minute a brilliant Dale McCulloch through ball sent Kamara on his way from the half way line, he out-muscled an opponent before slamming the ball under body of the 'keeper to restore Joondalup's advantage. Disaster struck for the home side three minutes later when Andy Mason was red carded for an altercation with an opponent.
The second period started with City laying siege on their opponents goal as wave after wave of attack was turned away by the Joondalup defence, in particular teenager 'keeper Stewart who pulled off some truly inspirational saves. Coach Paul 'Geordie' Simmons re-shuffled his line-up in an effort to rope in the effect that City midfielder Antonio Naglieri was having on the game, Kamara adopting a man-marking role to stifle his opponents effectiveness. The move worked a treat and shortly after Kamara robbed Naglieri of the ball and switched play to the opposite side where Fallon capped a great run by with a thunderous drive passed the advancing 'keeper. The goal knocked the wind out of City's sails and they were fortunate to not concede more goals as the ten men Joondalup outfit seized the initiative and stepped up their search for a fourth goal. Late in the game Joondalup lost Kuzmanovich to cramp and Peacock to exhaustion, and the introduction of the fresh legs of Steve White and Stuart Montgomery were a welcome relief to the sides fortunes. In the second minute of injury time City grabbed a late consolation when Branimir Mikulic made it 3-2.
Post-match Simmons was critical of Mason's first-half dismissal. "He chased the ball down the right and raised his foot in an attempt to control it and ran into a defender who then retaliated by punching Andy in the stomach * it was one of the most non-rational decisions I have ever seen! Andy had been cautioned earlier in the game but he had his eyes totally on the ball. Retaliation is worse that the initial offence - or so the referees keep telling us." The Joondalup coach also had some words of encouragement for the City players, "Cockburn are a young side with a lot of talent and they will be a force this season, make no doubt about it."
In Sunday's clash at the Swan Italian Club, the home side chalked up their first point of 2001 when they drew one-all with fellow strugglers Floreat Athena. Swan dominated the opening period and took the lead after 15 minutes when in, a goalmouth scramble, Damian Scali bundled the ball past John Xigas who got his hand to the ball but was unable to stop it from crossing the line. Midfielder Eddie Mura could have added a second to the hoe sides tally as half-time approached when he was unfortunate to get on the end of a low cross. Athena then had a legitimate claim for a penalty turned down when Robyn Dyers was fouled inside the area, and on the stroke of half-time Damian Scali came close to bagging his second of the afternoon only to screw his shot wide. After the break the visitors picked up the pace. State goalkeeper Corey Hugo, making his Premier League debut for 2001 after injuring his ribs in the Night Series, made an impressive save to deny Ryan Newhill. In a man of the match performance, the young 'keeper pulled off some great saves over the half to keep his side I the contest. Twice Hugo thwarted Troy Bernard with some aerobatics, but he was beaten in the 80th minute but thanked his up-right when Adrian Sutton's header struck the post. Two minutes from full-time Athena midfielder drilled a low shot through a crowded area and beyond the reach of Hugo to ensure his side didn't go home empty-handed. The visitors almost took home all three points but Dyer blazed over as the referee signalled the end of the game.
In a seven goal thriller at Nash Field, John Nicolaou bagged a double for the Western Knights who moved into second spot behind Sorrento on goal difference. Eugene Singeorzan took his season total to 5 goals while Claus Nielson also found the target for the home side, Scott Campbell, Phillip Smiljanic and Andy Cornwall scoring for Inglewood United. Fremantle City made it two wins in as many weeks when they accounted for Bassendean Caledonian at home. Goals from experienced campaigners Trim Morgan and Paul McVittie proved enough to overcome the visitors for whom Mark Cox scored.
FIRST DIVISION ROUND-UP (Ashfield-Kingsway Olympic details provided by Craig Culverwell of the Ashfield website)
Ashfield were looking to consolidate their top place on top of the First Division (North) when they faced Kingsway Olympic on the road. And it only took Steve Gillibrand just three minutes to give the visitors the lead, splitting the defence before drilling the ball past the home 'keeper. Eight minutes later the margin was doubled when Shane Fuhr's cross found Matt Pochroj, his header came back off the bar but after the Olympic defence could react Steve Goff despatched it into the back of the net. In a match which at times threatened to boil over, Ashfield dominated and almost went three up when Nathan Salisbury put it in the net at the post only for the referee to award Olympic a free-kick. Not long after Salisbury dislocated his shoulder to be replaced by youngster Iavor Georgeff, and before the half was out Ashfield also lost hard-working captain Gillibrand to an ankle injury, Brad Pochroj taking his place. Olympic found a way back into the game midway through the half when an Ashfield defensive mix-up resulted in Kevin Morris netting for the home side. But a minute before the break Fuhr restored the two goal buffer by putting the ball between 'keeper and post. Both defences had the better of the opposing strikers after the re-start and no further goals troubled the scorers. Late in the game Olympic were reduced to ten men when custodian Sam Scutti who was dismissed for hauling down Matt Pochroj. In what was undoubtedly a team effort, Gene Wyllie, Steve Goff and Phil Jackson were named Ashfield's best players post-match.
Wanneroo City moved into third place when they demolished the Dianella White Eagles 4-1 for whom Dragan Njegic bagged the consolation goal. Bayswater City earnt their first point of the season in the 2-2 away draw with Stirling Suns. On Sunday at Macedonia Park, the Stirling Lions stayed second behind Ashfield on goal difference when they proved too strong for Perth City to run out 3-2 winners. Bottom side Balcatta had the bye.
Armadale made the long journey south on Saturday fresh from last weeks 4-1 thumping of Canning and eager to make it two in a row against South West Phoenix. The tall Armadale side settled the better and quickly established a pattern which would see them dictate terms for much of the opening half. The visitors dominance was rewarded after 17 minutes when Phoenix's inexperienced midfield gave up possession and conceded a corner from which Nick Tyman nodded home a free header. With Sasa Garic being paid close attention by the opposing defence, some sloppy marking saw the big striker awarded a penalty just on the half-hour which he calmly sent past the 'keeper to bring his side back into the game. Immediately after half-time Armadale's Dennis Lee went on a jinxing run to which Phoenix offered little resistence, his shot from 20-metres look a deflection and rocketed past a stranded Reece Braitwaite in the Phoenix goal. Phoenix took the game by the scruffof the neck and made better use of the ball for the remainder of the game but were unable to fund a way to goal, the visiting defence effortlessly cutting out everything that the home side pumped into the area. Close to the final whistle, Armadale broke on the counter-attack and put the game out of their opponents reach once and for all by making it 3-1.
Queens Park and Rockingham City continue to slug it out for top spot in the First Division (South) ladder. On the weekend Queens Park had a convincing 5-1 victory over Southside United, while Rockingham City had little trouble accounting for Leeming Strikers 3-0. Morley Windmills moved a point behind the pair after their 3-0 home win over cellar-dwellers Canning City.
PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW
The game of the round this weekend is undoubtedly the showdown between Sorrento-Perth at Percy Doyle Reserve. After three rounds both sides are undefeated in the Premier League and sit first and second respectively after big wins last weekend - Sorrento 5-2 over Cockburn City, while Perth thumped Swan I.C. 5-1. Sorrento's hopes rest with Ryan Jeans and Ross Greer, who have bagged over half the clubs amazing haul of 19 League and Cup goals to date, but they also have plenty of others that can find the target should they be needed. Perth proved in the Night Series that they will be the side to beat this season and with the best midfield in the League, and plenty of depth, it's not hard to see why they are favoured for the title.
The other undefeated side is the Western Knights and they should prove too much of a challenge for Inglewood United's young guns who last week recorded their first win of the new campaign. Fremantle City are at home to Bassendean Caledonian, who are struggling consistency, and on paper you'd have to nominate City to come up trumps. Cockburn City should bounce back from last week's loss to Sorrento when the travel to play ECU Joondalup. Sunday's game sees the only two sides in the competition yet to win in the Premier League face each other at the Swan Italian Club. Swan I.C. are finding form difficult to come by at the moment and it will take an all-mighty effort for them to down an injury-hit Floreat Athena.
INJURY CRISIS HITS ATHENA
After a great showing in the pre-season Night Series, Floreat Athena have found it difficult to reproduce that form in the Premier League thanks to a series of injuries to key players. State midfielder Doug Ithier came off in the first half of last Saturday's home clash with Fremantle City with an ankle problem, and upon further investigation it was revealed he'd torn ankle ligaments which is expected to keep him sidelined for up to four weeks.
Long-serving forward Peter Coci, who has only recently returned from long term injury, also came off early in last week's game and did not train with the squad on Tuesday evening. State sweeper Troy Bernard also missed Tuesday's run with a lingering knee complaint that could see him facing an operation to remedy the situation.
On the plus side Robin Dyers looks to have recovered from an ankle problem after coming off the bench to replace Coci against Fremantle, and midfielders Jason Smith and Costa Socratous are said to be in the running for a spot against Swan I.C. this Sunday. Also coming back into the side this week is wing-back Adrian Spinelli who missed last weeks game due to his brothers' wedding.
SCORING OUR PROBLEM SAYS SIMMONS
After a poor showing in the Night Series, it looked as though ECU Joondalup coach Paul Simmons had turned things around for the northern suburbs club when they defeated Floreat Athena in the opening round of the Premier League. "We played really well against Floreat and our 1-0 win flattered them, it could easily have been three or four," Simmons said this week. But their woes have continued in subsequent rounds, a failure to find the net letting the side down and seeing Joondalup slide to eighth place on the Premier League ladder.
"The last two games were very disappointing," said the man affectionately known as Geordie. "We always knew the game against Callies would be a hard one with them having eighteen ex-Joondalup players on the books and two former coaches. The game itself was a credit to their coach Barry Smith - he sat with six players across the back and we couldn't break them down. The first half we had at least 80% of the play but got no reward. Then in about the fifth minute of the second half, in one of a very few Callies forages into our penalty area they were awarded a soft penalty and scored. They then pulled other players behind the ball and with us pushing for a goal they hit us on two breaks and scored two goals."
"Very disappointing, but a result we got over pretty quickly as Monday was the Cup. Against Kingsway we dominated and the 2-1 result flattered them, but again we had problems scoring goals," Simmons added. "And last Saturday against the Knights we were leading 1-0 at half time and if it had been a boxing match it would of been stopped at half time, but despite all our dominance we didn't capitalise with goals. The Knights scored two quick goals on counter attacks, we still dominated and eventually equalized only to see a very poor mistake at the back give them the winner."
Simmons believes that, should they be able to start converting their chances, Joondalup will be up there at the business end of the season once again. "We are playing very good football but our big problem is scoring goals, and we're certainly missing Carl McDarby who is probably 10 to 12 weeks away yet. I am still very confident of a top five finish but we are in desperate need for someone who is going to score goals for us."
It was hoped that Southampton youngster Brian Howard, who was to play the English off-season with the club, would provide a cure to Joondalup's woes. And things were looking on the up after Howard scored in the Cup win over Kingsway Olympic, but since then the England Schoolboy international has opted to return home for personal reasons after less than a fortnight with the club. "There was nothing we could do about it," Simmons said. "It was upsetting for us and for the Southampton staff here at the time."
STANGE TO JOIN SAWA?
There is a strong rumour going through the local soccer community that Perth Glory coach Bernd Stange, who looks likely to not have his contract with the club renewed beyond June, is set to join the Soccer Association of W.A. as a director of coaching. While this claim is unfounded at the current time, Stange did say on Perth radio during the week that he has made a decision on his future beyond the 2000/01 NSL season but that he is not yet willing to make that public.
SOUTHAMPTON VISIT COULD LEAD TO BIGGER THNGS
The four-team Easter long weekend mini-tournament held at ECU Joondalup was a roaring success according to those involved, and could possibly lead to a bigger and better event being staged next year. This year the visiting Southampton academy team competed with local academy sides from Joondalup and Perth as well as the W.A. Under-16 team. And it is believed that English giants Liverpool have expressed an interest in send a team next year, while New Zealand are also interested in sending some of their best young players to W.A. for the series.
Speaking to the "West Australian" this week, Joondalup Saints director of coaching Mike Lyons said the idea was to attract a variety of teams to Perth in order to establish a regular youth tournament. "The Easter tournament was such a success we intend to build on it for next year," Lyons said. "It was a really good experience for our kids because they were playing against the Southampton lads who play against teams like Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham back in England."
The event kicked-off on Good Friday with W.A. defeating Joondalup 2-0 and Southampton hammering six past Perth without reply. In a tightly fought second round match, WA came away with a 1-0 win over Southampton, while Perth found themselves on another hiding, this time 7-0 at the hands of Joondalup for whom Adam Bachelor bagged a hat-trick.
On the final day of competition - Easter Sunday - W.A. and Perth played out an entertaining game which ended 5-2 in favour of the State side. And Joondalup dominated their Southampton opponents in the last game, Darryl Platten opening the scoring before a spectacular bicycle kick by Tom Jones put the icing on a 2-0 win. The inaugural event was taken out by the older W.A. Under-16 side who won all three of their round-robin games. Joondalup were runners-up, Southampton came in third place while Perth finished without a win but having showed plenty of character.
Lyons was particularly impressed with commitment shown by the local players, especially against their more fancied opponents from the northern hemisphere. "The lads in Australia are physically strong and have a good attitude," Lyons told the "West". "I was pleasantly surprised with how much more our kids wanted to win. I think Southampton would be a bit disappointed they didn't win, but all the kids would have learnt something from the experience. They've made friendships that they'll probably keep for life."
Senior coach at ECU Joondalup, Paul Simmons, was also happy with the way the local youngsters performed and the future of the event. "The kids from Southampton had far better technical skills but our lads were a lot fitter and more aggressive," he said. "It was an excellent tournament which saw at least 4,000 people go through the venue and it opens the door for bigger and better things next year."
Joondalup have had great success with their academy set-up to date with several players moving overseas to pursue professional careers, while a number of others have represented W.A. at various levels. Lyons said the aim of the academy is to ensure that every player develops to his full potential. "The idea of the academy is for the players to reach the highest possible level they can, whether that be the State league or Europe," he said. "The facilities in W.A. are second to none. We have excellent pitches and much better weather than in England for training."
STATE UNDER-19 SQUAD ANNOUNCED
State under-19 coach Eric Williams has named a preliminary squad of 22 players for next months Tournoi de Croix in France, although it is believed the door is still open for further players to be added before the final touring party of 17 is named. The bulk of the squad has not surprisingly been drawn from the ranks of the Premier League although three players from First Division Kingsway Olympic have also been included. It is not yet clear if three over-age players will also be part of the squad as tournament rules allow. The squad commenced training on Monday at Wotton Reserve.
The training squad announced this week is Derek Cook (Bassendean Caledonian, right), Gary Numan (Cockburn City), Joe Liguan, Anthony Pereira (Fremantle City), Ryan Fredericks, Jason Godfrey, Benny Pietropiccolo, Greg Sharland, Oliver Taseski, Phil Smiljanic (Inglewood United), Dale McCullough, Peter Stewart (ECU Joondalup), Todd Howarth, Andreas Oliveira (Perth), David Foster, Jared Love (Sorrento) , Anthony Jones (Swan I.C.), Michael Vaz, Ivan Zuvela (Western Knights), Paul Cummings, Kosta Kalavrouziotis and Daniel Stoitis (Kingsway Olympic).
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND THREE
The game between Floreat Athena and Fremantle City should have been able to pull in a decent sized crowd - both sides have tasted a fair degree of success in recent times, Athena are one of the state's longest serving clubs while City are hopeful of getting the second NSL out of Perth. But despite these facts and a perfect sunny afternoon, the managed to tempt less than 150 to Litis Stadium by the time the game got underway at 3.00pm. The home team made just one change to the line-up that defeated City in the Cup six days earlier, new-signing Peter Vukmirovic coming into the starting eleven for Adrian Spinelli who was absent through family commitments. City on the other hand utilised the same players that dominated but failed to find the net in their earlier meeting.
People were still settling into their seats when Athena took the lead inside the opening sixty seconds. Doug Ithier strolled onto the ball well outside the area and sent a trademark long-range bomb which bounced awkwardly in front of Darren Williams and flew over the 'keepers out-stretched arms and into the back of his net. Athena coach John Hunter could hardly have asked for a better start and they came very close doubling the margin a minute later. Miguel Ortin's centring ball rolled across the top of the 6-yard box and just out the reach of Peter Coci with the City defence well out of position.
A goal up after just a minute's play, Athena then opted to slow proceedings down and ease their way into this game. But City were having none of that and pressed hotly for an equaliser. In the 10th minute John Xigas came well off his line to prevent a deep Will Pryce cross from reaching Trim Morgan. Two minutes later Pryce knocked a free-kick from 18-metres into the area where Scott Clissold's crashing drive came back off the inside of Xigas' left up-right. Then Morgan burst into the area but thumped a bouncing ball wide of the far post. City were coming at their opponents in waves only to be continually held at bay by Athena's well-organised back-three of Troy Bernard, Hugh Miller and Peter Nikoloski.
Over the opening 20 minutes it was City that were doing all the attacking but they had little to show for it. Slowly Athena found their rhythm and started to create some chances of their own. Lively striker Coci latched on to a long ball but the close attention of Clissold saw his attempted lob over the 'keeper land on Williams' chest. In fact it was Coci that was causing the City backline the most trouble, so when he succumbed to injury after 28 minutes Hunter must have been mightily miffed. Two minutes later Ithier ran onto a superbly weighted pass from Bernard but Williams was quick off his line and made a courageous save at Ithier's feet. Unfortunately for Hunter his chief playmaker required extensive attention on the sidelines following the clash, and would not long after leave the field of play with suspected ankle ligament injury.
In what was developing into a scrappy contest, Athena had all the chances going to the break. Robyn Dyers' cross was cut out by Cesare De Bartolo, but he slipped before clearing the danger and could only watched Ortin rifled off a shot for which Williams replied with a stunning save from close-range. In the 38th minute Ryan Newhill's corner found Dyers at the far post but his header flew off-target. And on the stroke of half-time Newhill's persistence paid off to take him past Evan Wallace before hitting a low shot that was too hot for Williams to hold, his parry falling into the path of the on-rushing Manolis Arapis but he was thwarted by a desperate tackle by De Bartolo.
At the break both coaches made changes to their teams. Hunter re-shuffled his deck in the wake of injuries, Robyn Dyers taking up for a central midfield role with Arapis partnering Vukmirovic in attack. Scott Clissold opted not to continue after suffering an ankle injury, Stuart Kamasz bringing on young Duilio Xavier who had completed a full game for the reserves. After a minor scuffle in the members' area between an over-zealous Athena supporter and an official from City, focus returned to the pitch with the emergence of the players from the tunnel.
City started the second half with a flurry and Dale Wingell was unfortunate not to score two minutes after the re-start when he pounced upon an error by Hugh Miller to lob over a fast back-tracking Xigas but the attempt landed on the top of the net. Sixty seconds later the visitors were back in the game thanks to a well-worked goal. In a controlled move which featured some exquisite first-time passing, Morgan, Michael Mirco and Pryce combined with the latter sending Trim inside the area, the midfielder taking two steps before slamming a low shot into the bottom far corner of Xigas' goal.
The goal bought renewed confidence to the City team. Pryce was showing some good touches out wide, while Paul McVittie and Trim were in command of the centre of the park. The Morgan-Wingell combination was looking dangerous in City's final third, and if not for some very dubious off-side calls the port side would have found themselves a goal up before the hour mark. Wingell showed great skill to wriggle past two opponents, then released Morgan inside the area only for the State player to be pulled up despite being a good metre on-side when the ball was played. A couple of minutes later Wingell raced clear of the last man after the ball rebounded off an Athena player in the middle of the park and again the referee judged him to be off-side - after the ball came off a player from the other team! Bewildering stuff indeed.
As was the case in the first half neither side could control play for long periods and soon it was Athena's turn to go on the attack. In the 64th minute Bernard clipped a free-kick over the City wall from 18-metres, Dyers connected well and Williams pulled off another superb reflex save from close-range. Two minutes later Newhill's free-kick flicked the head of Arapis who sent the ball narrowly wide of the up-right. City then raced the ball to the opposite end where John Mirco found Morgan but his whip-like shot on the turn from 12-metres slammed into the side netting.
While City were making great use of the full width of the pitch, Athena preferred use route one to goal and played it through the middle. But no matter which way either side went, both defences proved they were more than capable of the job at hand. Xigas was the busier of the 'keepers, he produced a superb one-handed save to deny Pryce after 76 minutes, then twice thwarted Trim within thirty seconds to keep his side in the hunt. Sensing the game was there for the taking, McVittie and Trim stepped up a gear but the visitors were continually broken down by a well-organised opposition.
As the clock ticked down Athena picked up the pace. Bernard made a long run out of defence in the 85th minute, he rounded two opponents before slotting wide to Ortin whose high cross was put over the bar by Dyers. Newhill found George Tiniakos with a searching pass and his centring ball was just out of Arapis' reach. A minute later Sutton turned Trim on top of the box but the Athena captain scuttled his shot wide of the target. The home side were looking the goods with three chances in as many minutes, but their luck was about to run out.
With a quick counter-attacking move, City sped the ball to the other end of the park where John Mirco made it 2-1 with a fine solo effort. The young striker raced onto a long clearance and skillfully rounded Nikoloski before drilling it past Xigas from 7-metres as Bernard threw himself at the ball in an effort to prevent it from crossing the line. The goal came completely against the run of play and left Athena's players deflated. With the last roll of the dice, Newhill pumped it long only to see Bernard send an explosive shot from inside the box soaring over Williams' bar.
A minute later the final whistle signalled City's first win of the season, one which also erased last week's Cup loss. Coach Kamasz was happy with the outcome, one he hopes is a turning point for the port side. "I thought we outplayed them and that it was going to be like the week before," City coach Stuart Kamasz said after the game. "The boys showed lots of character and deserved the win. Hopefully this will kick-start our season." Pryce was the standout player today with a non-stop performance, but in a scrappy match there were too many players that made glimpsing appearances then vanished just as quickly. But Inconsistency today was summed up best by referee Steve Muldoon. He was very slow to blow the whistle on occasions, then quickly halted play to award free-kicks for soft fouls when playing the advantage would have been a better option. And while this was by no means a physical clash, some late tackles were allowed to go unpunished while others were booked for seemingly little.
Floreat Athena : John Xigas, Troy Bernard, Hugh Miller, Peter Nikoloski, George Tiniakos, Miguel Ortin,
Adrian Sutton, Doug Ithier (Manuel Arapis 40), Ryan Newhill, Peter Coci (Robin Dyers 28),
Fremantle City : Darren Williams, Craig Surtees, Evan Wallace, Cesare De Bartolo, Scott Clissold (Dulio Xavier 46), Will Pryce (Joe Liguan 80), Michael Mirco (John Mirco 58), Paul McVittie, Daniel Trim, Dale Wingell, Trim Morgan
Referee : Steve Muldoon
Cautions : Dyers (57), Vukmirovic (90)
Dismissals : None
Attendance : 137 (approx.)
With Paul Wozny still trying to sort out the on-field problems at Swan I.C, the mid-week departure of big striker Peter Vukmirovic to Floreat Athena was not the most ideal of preparations for the club who played Perth at Dorrien Gardens on Sunday. It took Perth midfielder Robert Giorgi just 38 seconds to set his side on their way to victory when he latched on to a cross from new signing Robbie Gaspar and knocked home the opening goal. It wasn't the sort of start that Wozny was hoping for and things only got worse as the half progressed. After 6 minutes Damien Scali sent the ball past his own goalkeeper, Frank Letizia, to double Perth's lead. Perth's well-oiled midfield provided Andres Oliveira and David Onoforo with plenty of chances to further extend the margin and in the 27th minute the latter calmly rounded Letizia to slot home after a great ball from Steve Willey. It was 4-0 six minutes from the break when Onoforo set-up Oliveira who dummied an opponent before sending the ball into the top corner of the net. Ilia Manolev gave Swan some hope three minutes later when he seized upon some hesitant defending to lob Gianni Papalia and make it 4-1 going into half-time. After the re-start Swan forward Scott Halpin forced Papalia into a blinding save, but generally the visitors found chances on goal hard to come by. Oliveira completed the visitors misery, and celebrated his inclusion in the WA Under-19 squad, with an easy tap-in after Letizia had done well to keep out Jamie Coyne's initial shot. "Things are not going well at all," said Swan defender Justin Everley post-match. "I do however think the new coach will be able to turn things around. A season of struggle I am sure, but not one of relegation if we have our way."
Sorrento's astonishing start to the season continued on Saturday when they were on the road to Cockburn City. For the third successive week, Sorrento recorded a 5-2 victory in which Veteran Ross Greer scored a hat-trick while Glen Thomas and Todd Harnwell were also on the mark for the side. Branimir Mikulic and Peter Petkovich found the target for the home side. Despite being a goal down at the break, the Western Knights staged great comeback to win by the odd goal in the five-goal thriller at Nash Field. A double from Eugene Singeorzan and a single by John Nicolaou cancelled out goal by Sean Fallon and Dale McCullough for the visitors. At Jubilee Reserve, goals either side of the break from Daniel Harrop and Greg Sharland saw Inglewood United record their first win of the new season.
FIRST DIVISION ROUND-UP (Ashfield-Stirling Lions details provided by Craig Culverwell of the Ashfield website)
The Leeming Strikers started the stronger and more alert side on Saturday when they hosted South West Phoenix at John Connell Reserve where the experience of the home side played a big part in final outcome. After just three minutes a Strikers free-kick from 22-metres ricocheted off the defensive wall and Peter Murphy quickly lost his marker before giving visiting 'keeper Reece Braithwaite no chance to prevent it from hitting the back of the net. Three minutes later it should have been one-all when Stephen Suttie failed to convert a Sasa Garic cross to the near post. The margin was doubled in the 30th minute after Greg Newman smartly met a cross from the left and hammered another screamer past Braithwaite. Phoenix lost captain Steve Rodgers shortly after and struggled to find their rhythm over the opening half as Strikers dictated terms.
After the break a revitalised Phoenix outfit emerged and five minutes after play re-commenced Elliot Gibson put Garic through, the strongly built striker chipped over the advancing 'keeper but it fell the wrong side of the up-right. On the hour mark Jacob Fewster ran onto a long through ball and went one-on-one with the 'keeper, the ball spilled to Garic but his first time right footer slid pass the outside of the empty net. In the 66th minute Garic's near post cross saw the Strikers' custodian pull off a spectacular save from Stephen Suttie's close-range shot. Phoenix were now the side in control and had the home side firmly entrenched in their own half for the majority of the period where a combination of good defending, poor finishing and the a well-sprung offside trap denied the visitors. The game was put out of Phoenix's reach with five minutes remaining when Emelyn slipped the ball past the last man and sent it into the path of Murphy who scored his second and the Striker's third of the afternoon. The win put the Strikers on top of the Division One (South) competition after two rounds as the only site yet to drop a point.
In other south of the river action, Queens Park moved into second place thanks to the only goal of the game against Morley Windmills. Rockingham City fended off a determined Southside United second half comeback to win 2-1 and claim third place on goal difference. Armadale make up the top four after trouncing Canning 4-1 on the road.
Ashfield and the Stirling Lions battled out an entertaining nil-all draw at Ashfield Reserve in their top of the table clash. There was very little was between the two sides which saw scattered chances at both ends of the park, although Phil Jackson in the Ashfield goal was the quieter of the two 'keepers. The home midfield combination of Andy Taylor, Steve Goff and Steve Gillibrand worked hard all day and created some promising moves which resulted a great chance falling Shane Fuhr who couldn't make the most of his opportunity. The experience of Andy Wright was telling at the back for the visitors while Riste Stefovski and Tony Paolino also turned in impressive performances. Ashfield almost stole the points twice in the closing stages, Lions 'keeper Robe Pucovski making a spectacular save to deny Gareth Gorman, and with five minutes remaining, Lee McEvoy scuffed his shot when through. "It was real end to end stuff with a lot of action taking place in the midfield," Ashfield coach Tom Kilkelly said after the game. "Both sides battled hard and in the end nil-all was a fair result. It was pretty much full-on for 90 minutes, it was one of those games. At the end of the day both coaches were happy that there wasn't a winner as it would only have come from an error by the opposition."
Kingsway Olympic managed to keep Stirling Suns scoreless after 45 minutes, but three second half goals saw the Suns record their first points of the winter season. A first half goal from Wanneroo City was enough for them to down Balcatta at home and move into fourth place on the Division One (North) ladder. The game between third-place Perth City and fifth-place Dianella White Eagles was postponed, while Bayswater City had the bye.
SWC UNHAPPY WITH BIDDING PROCESS
Town of Vincent chief executive John Giorgi has rejected claims that Soccer West Coast were not given enough time to prepare a tender for the lease of Leederville Oval. SWC president David Schrandt told the West Australian's Jonathan Cook that it was unable to prepare an extensive proposal because it received the tender documents only 14 days before they had to be submitted.
But Giorgi said that SWC, who are bidding for the second NSL license out of Perth under the Western Lightning banner, has been aware since August 2000 of the Town of Vincent's intention to invite tenders early this year. "All people previously expressing an interest were well aware that the town would invite tenders in early 2001 and any allegations otherwise are totally refuted," Giorgi said. It is believed that the submission of Perth Glory chairman Nick Tana was the only tender received by the council.
Schrandt admitted SWC officials had been involved in preliminary talks with the local government authority back in August but said they had been given notification to proceed with their plans only a fortnight ago. "At no stage, one way or the other, were we ever told to proceed with the bid situation," he told Jonathan Cook. "All of a sudden we received a letter on April 4 saying we had two weeks, including Easter holidays, to prepare a bid."
PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW
For the second time in less than a week Floreat Athena and Fremantle City meet at the Litis Stadium. Last Monday the home side progressed to the Third Round of the Boral Cup courtesy of a 1-0 win, but expect the port side to get their revenge by a substantial margin on Saturday. Free-scoring Sorrento will be looking for Ryan Jeans to open their away clash with third placed Cockburn City brightly. Both teams showed in the Night Series they have what it takes this season and this should be a tight clash with a single goal separating them at the end of 90 minutes.
The Western Knights and ECU Joondalup at Nash Field will be another game that could go either way. The visiting Inglewood United youngsters should prove too hot to handle for a fast-improving Bassendean Caledonian. And on Sunday at Dorrien Gardens, Perth should have no trouble in accounting for Italian rivals Swan I.C. who have conceded thirteen goals in their three League and Cup games so far this season.
KNOW A LITTLE SOCCEROO?
Former Floreat Athena, Perth Italia and Inglewood United player Chris Barbas has these days switched his hand to coaching Perths' juniors via the Little Socceroo clinics. Having played at State League level for 16 years, Barbas believes the winter clinics will increase children's knowledge and skills of the game. "I have completed an accredited level three senior licence course for coaching from Soccer Australia," he said recently. The Little Socceroo clinics start on Monday 7th May, running until Friday 31st August. They will be held every Monday and Friday at Crimea Reserve in Noranda, staring around 4.30pm and lasting approximately 70 minutes. A Little Socceroo t-shirt and soccer ball is included in the GST- inclusive cost of $95.00. Further enquiries can be made by calling either 9375 3312 or 041 9967 657.
YOUR RADIO FIX
The W.A. Soccer Website is always happy to bring you all the latest new (and welcomes input from clubs and fans alike), but you can also get your weekly dose of soccer from the radio. The best known of these would be the 100FM Saturday Morning Soccer Show with Martin Wells and co-hosts Dennis Gedling and Penny Tanner. The program covers all aspects of the world game with regular segments on the W.A. Premier League, the NSL and the game in Europe. It goes to air every Saturday morning from 10.00am and lasts an hour.
The NSL Show on 93.7 Heritage FM kicks-off at 12.00noon on Sunday and runs until 1.30pm. Hosted by Dennis Gedling and Mark McGavock, it’s local coverage gets underway in the last half hour when we are taken through all results from the previous days action in the metropolitan area, followed by a preview of the up-coming games from the ranks of WAASSA. Being an Armadale station, it’s focus is on those side in the South Eastern suburbs but please don’t hold that against them.
Sunday night on Information Radio 990AM is the other big one. The opening 15 minutes from 7.00pm are taken up by the Junior Soccer Review. Following that and running until 8.00pm is the WAASSA Show when the hosts run through all the results of the days games as well as discussing the issues important to the amateur clubs in W.A.
NEW SOCCER FOUNDATION PROPOSED
Perth Glory chairman Nick Tana has made public his plans to set-up the W.A. Soccer Foundation whose primary aim would be to assist with the funding of soccer development in this state. In a written statement, Tana said the foundation would be funded initially by 10% of all future international transfers from the NSL club. It has been proposed that the foundation be run by a board of independent trustees with the Premier of the day as it’s chairman. The matter has been informally raised with current Premier Geoff Gallop who is said to be considering his involvement.
Tana also stated that he would eventually transfer his 75% shareholding in Glory to the Foundation. However, this was conditional on the NSL becoming a commercial viability, and the implementation of the Field Report recommendations. That report, commissioned by the State government in 1999, was a wide-ranging review soccer’s administration in W.A. and recommended a complete overhaul of the local game at all levels.
STADIUM CHANGE OF PLANS
Nick Tana also set a cat amongst the pigeons this week with the announcement that Perth Glory had submitted a tender to develop and convert Leederville Oval in a 18,500 capacity facility for soccer. The decision flies in the face of the State governments’ proposed purpose-built stadium for which Multiplex won the right to construct. The projected cost of the redevelopment is $12 million with Glory and the Town of Vincent each chipping in $2 million with the balance of $8 million coming from the State government. The new set-up would serve as a home ground and training venue for Glory, and would also be “available for state league finals, amateur finals, junior clinics and friendly international games, including fixtures for the Socceroos, Olyroos and Joeys” according to a prepared statement released to the media.
TARKA COMING HOME?
Former Cockburn City winger David Tarka could be heading back west later this year after impressing in a week-long training run with Perth Glory over the Easter break. Tarka is currently the captain of the Australian Institute of Sport side in the NSL Youth competition and is ready to reap the rewards of a professional contract. “I'd love to come back to Perth and play for Glory - they're the best club in Australia,” he said after a recent training session.
Glory coach Bernd Stange has given Tarka the thumbs up. “He is a good young man. Tall, quick and he is a good, strong defender. I think he can make it in the National Soccer League,” the German said. Having spent the past year and a bit in the same fertile environment that produced Ivan Ergic and current Perth Glory star Ljubo Milicevic, it comes as no surprise that the tall defender is also being courted by Northern Spirit and Sydney Olympic.
KOULIZOS ON SWC BOARD
Floreat Athena team manager Peter Koulizos was recently voted on to the Board of Soccer West Coast in the capacity as a Director. Before moving to W.A, Koulizos was involved with now defunct NSL outfit West Adelaide at coaching level
SAINTS DUO JOIN JOONDALUP
ECU Joondalup have recruited two rising stars - Brain Howard and Gary McManus - from English outfit Southampton for the coming winter season. The pair, who are both considered potential Premier League players, have come to W.A. to help them mature and to gain experience of other playing conditions. Wing-back Howard, an England schoolboy and youth international, is regarded as one of the best of the current Saints youth team and was one of the stars of a recent tournament in Chile. The 18-year old striker is currently 12 months into a three and a half year professional deal with the club. McManus is also highly regarded within the academy structure which he joined at the start of the 1999/2000 season. Sunderland-born, it wasn’t long before he became established as a regular feature of the Under-19’s team and has this season made the bench for the Saints reserves.
Southampton have high hopes of the Joondalup link bearing fruit with several players from W.A. having already signed with the English club. Teenager Darren Broxton joined the club mid-2000 and is a regular starter in their Under-17 side. And bright things are expected of recent triallist Andre Sarpe, who was a junior at Kingsway Olympic before joining Joondalup. There is also a third W.A. player at the Saints, former Perth striker Adrian Caceras who has been on the fringes of the first team this season. Also in the clubs junior ranks are Australians Scott McDonald and Mark Rosier who have started to force their way into the reserve team
Over the Easter long weekend the Saints sent a combined Under-14/15 team to Perth to compete in a mini-tournament against the Joondalup and Perth academy sides, as well as the W.A. Under-16 team. A Southampton club spokesperson said the visit was a relationship-building one which doubled as a scouting mission. “It is a good opportunity to maintain links with our Perth academy with a chance to pass on ideas, check on progress and make them feel part of the grand scheme … and it may also give us the chance to invite some of the more impressive Australians over to train with us at some point.”
PERTH SIGN GASPAR
Perth have scored an early-season coup by securing the services of midfielder Robbie Gaspar from NSL side Sydney Olympic. Gaspar, who joined Olympic last year from Cockburn City, has returned to W.A. to revitalise his career in the local competition after experiencing limited success in Sydney.
SWAN LOSE COACH
Swan I.C. coach Veselin Zmukic has resigned after just one round of the new season because, according to reports, his coaching style is not suited to the club. Zmukic, who wants to continue coaching, said he decided it was best to part company after more than three months in charge. Swan dipped out of the pre-season Night Series in the qualification stage, and were knocked out of the Boral Cup in the first round when thumped 1-5 by Bassendean Caledonian. Zmukic’s departure comes a matter of days after losing 1-3 to Cockburn City on the opening weekend of the Premier League season.
BORAL CUP, ROUND TWO
The Premier League season hasn’t got off to a great start for either Fremantle City and Floreat Athena, both sitting in the lower half of the table with one point apiece after two rounds when they met in the second Round of the Boral Cup at the Litis Stadium. It was the third game in six days for Athena who were missing key players Robyn Dyers and Costa Socratous, while midfielder Jason Smith is still absent through injury. The visitors were close to full-strength with only experienced defender Dave Evans out, in his spot coming Evan Wallace for this first start since succumbing to injury in the Night Series.
This game got off in spectacular fashion with Athena and City trading shots on goal from the opening minute when Doug Ithier’s volley was cleared off the line after he sent the ball past ‘keeper Darren Williams following a corner. The ball was immediately raced to the other end of the park where Dale Wingell’s speculative shot from log-range bounced into the arms of John Xigas. 35-metres from goal, Paul McVittie swung a free-kick it into area where Wingell’s header landed on the top netting. A few minutes later Miguel Ortin released Peter Coci who went one-on-one with Williams, the City ‘keeper showed great agility and reflexes to pull off a spectacular one handed save low to his left. It was an all-action start and all this was in just the first ten minutes!
City settled the better to control the flow of the game through their central core of McVittie and Daniel Trim. State captain Trim Morgan held off a challenge from Peter Nikoloski in the 12th minute only to see his deep cross headed out by Adrian Spinelli. The resulting corner was played into the heart of the Athena box where a mad scramble for possession ensued, McVittie unfortunate not to whallop the ball over the line before it was hacked to safety. Two minutes later Wingell sent a blistering low shot on target which Xigas needed two grabs before taking control.
The four man midfield employed by City coach Stuart Kamasz was really playing off. McVittie was the work-horse in the centre, with Trim paying close attention to dangerman Ithier who was having little effect on the game. Out wide Michael Mirco and Pryce were turning the ball over, seemingly without effort, to throw their team back into attack. Athena’s supply line to forwards Coci and Ryan Newhill was severely disrupted, and on the few occasions they did receive the ball City’s back four were quick to respond and smother their opponents.
Craig Surtees made a break into attack where he sent a hopeful long-range effort into the arms of Xigas. A quickly taken free-kick caught out the Athena defence as Michael Mirco raced clear with only the ‘keeper to beat, but Xigas sped off his line and made a courageous save at the feet of the City midfielder. The visitors were making excellent use of the full width of the park, Michael Mirco and Will Pryce pushing forward with menace at every opportunity. McVittie scuffed a shot wide after 18 minutes, and three minutes later Wingell’s cross was nodded on by Michael Mirco but Trim was unable to get enough of a deflection to re-direct the ball under the bar. Athena just could not get the ball out of their defensive zone and midway through the half Michael Mirco drew the defence before centring to Morgan who hammered the ball past Xigas only for Troy Bernard to make a desperate goal line clearance.
Athena finally found their rhythm after around 25 minutes of play and Ortin and Adrian Sutton got stuck in to restoring the balance in the centre. Bernard should have opening the scoring in the 32nd minute after he ran the full length of the pitch unchecked to wander in behind the City defence where he meet Ithier’s cross, only to sky the ball over from just outside the 6-yard. It was by far the clearest chance of the game so far and the young sweeper was well aware of the magnitude of his miss. Athena fought hard to get back into this contest and did well to stem their opponents non-stop bombardment of Xigas’ goal, but really could muster little danger of their own
Inside the final five minutes City picked up the pace to keep the ball locked up in their attacking half. A superb Surtees long ball saw Morgan rocket off a shot which Xigas somehow knocked around his post. Two minutes later Michael Mirco found his way around Nikoloski and lobbed the ball over the advancing Xigas only to also clear the bar. The visitors were stringing together some sweeping moves to take them into attack with players working tirelessly to get into space. A minute into stoppage time came City’s best chance of the half, Pryce’s free-kick clearing a pack of players and dropped to Michael Mirco and Morgan at the far post - but, with only the ‘keeper to beat, Michael Mirco’s shot surprisingly missed the target altogether.
Athena were lucky not to be a couple of goals behind by the time the half-time whistle was blown. The shot count told the story - Athena 5, City 13 - and it would have been much greater had the home defence not been able spring a well-rehearsed off-side trap with regularity. John Hunter must have had some strong word for his players in the changerooms and his side came out after the break the livelier. George Tiniakos got the better of Michael Mirco several times, Spinelli came into the game with more frequency and Ortin took on the playmakers role. Five minutes after the re-start Tiniakos won the home side a corner which was swung in by Coci, and Newhill’s ferocious header rocketed back off the underside of the bar. It was a clear sign that Athena meant business but one their opponents failed to hear, and two minutes later they would pay the price. Spinelli’s searching cross from the left saw Newhill rise unopposed and head the ball back across Williams and inside the bottom right corner of his goal to make it 1-0.
After all their hard work over the opening 45 minutes, City were devastated to now be a goal down, and it was very nearly two when Ithier’s header flew the wrong side of the up-right after another superb Coci corner in the 56th minute. On the hour mark, Ortin cleverly got past his man wide on the left before looping the ball into the area where Coci sent his header straight at the City custodian. But the visitors were by no means out of this game. In the 62nd minute Pryce showed great skill to go between two defenders only to be denied by the fantastic reflexes of Xigas. City then won three corners in quick succession as they piled on the pressure without success. In an attempt to spark that little bit extra life into his side, Kamasz sent on the fresh legs of John Mirco and Joe Liguan with just under half an hour remaining.
The two youngsters took a little time to settle and Athena had no trouble in turning the ball over in defence before going on the attack themselves. Bernard made a lung-bursting run out of defence in the 68th minute, knocking the ball to Newhill on the half-way line who switched play to Ortin on the opposite flank. His first time volley dipped at the last moment and skimmed the wrong side of the bar to cap a great counter-attacking play. Shortly after Tiniakos’ low centring ball found Newhill who went for placement over power and chipped it to Williams from 16-metres. And Newhill had a second chance within the space of a minute when two City defenders collided inside the area, only for Williams to parry his explosive shot.
The last 15 minutes of the game were all City, the visitors desperately seeking a deserved equaliser. Liguan had by now found his feet and was creating all manner of problems for the defence, while the additional threat of Morgan and John Mirco kept Athena on their toes. The home side responded to the on-slaught by getting numbers behind the ball quickly and concentrating on playing it safety first. Soaking up the pressure, their midfield used every legal tactic available to run down the clock.
With ten minutes left Morgan opened up a path to goal with a weaving run but Bernard deflected his low shot. Evan Wallace streamed through the middle after the Athena midfield failed to respond to a lose ball only to hit it wide from 20-metres. In the 88th minute John Mirco got behind Bernard and Miller, then skewed his shot from close in when he had Liguan free in the middle. Sixty seconds later it should have been one-all after Morgan out-paced two defenders but his low shot from 10-metres was blocked by Xigas, the ball rolled to John Mirco who, with the ‘keeper well out of position, missed the open goal.
A long five minute period of stoppage time followed and Athena’s players where overjoyed when Derek Minett signalled the end of the game. At the end of the day it was through good fortune that the home side held on victory today, spending much of this game on the back foot and in the defensive half where Xigas made some telling saves. They took a surprise lead early in the second half then hung on grimly and waited for the ride to end. City’s failure to capitalise on their chances in the first half set the stage for their early exit from the Boral Cup, and continued their disappointing start to 2001. Michael Mirco ran himself into the ground, and Trim and McVittie worked tirelessly in the centre, but it was a failure to convert chances that let down the port side.
Floreat Athena : John Xigas, Troy Bernard, Hugh Miller, Peter Nikoloaski,
Adrian Spinelli (Manuel Arapis 82), George Tiniakos, Adrian Sutton, Miguel
Ortin, Doug Ithier, Peter Coci, Ryan Newhill
Fremantle City : Darren Williams, Craig Surtees, Evan Wallace, Cesare De Bartolo, Scott Clissold, Will Pryce (Vladimir Beretovac 75), Michael Mirco (John Mirco 65), Paul McVittie, Daniel Trim, Dale Wingell (Joe Liguan 65)), Trim Morgan
Referee : Derek Minett
Cautions : None
Dismissals : None
Attendance : 200 (approx.)
A first-half hat-trick from Cockburn City striker Peter Petkovich was the inspiration behind his side’s 6-1 win over the Western Knights at Dalmatinac Park. The 25-year old was in an unstoppable mood and had the Knights scrambling on the first of many occassions just 4 minutes into the game when he thumped a shot into the woodwork after a splendid cross from Antonio Naglieri. Midfielder Gary Numan also hit the frame of the goal as City piled on the pressure. Petkovich started the rout in the 24th minute, doubled the margin 9 minutes later and wrapped up his hat-trick after 39 minutes. Any hopes the Knights had of a second-half revival were snuffed out two minutes after the interval when midfielder Dean Gartside scored. Knights midfielder Scott Devine tried to motivate his side with a 30-metre strike which came back off the bar. Petkovich bagged his fourth in the second half, Branimir Mikulic scored City’s sixth while Eugene Singeorzan netted the Knights lone contribution. Petkovich, who has scored five in a game before but only at reserve level, was happy with his contribution. “Out here we had more width and everything went right today,” he said . “Normally I'm happy just to get one goal.”
The Dianella White Eagles hosted Sorrento and pushed their Premier League opponents all the way in their Boral Cup clash. The visitors were the more creative in the first half hour, only to fall a goal behind when substitute Zelko Savic scored with his first touch, seizing upon a poor clearance by Sorrento 'keeper Neil Young. Sorrento’s Ryan Jeans converted a penalty five minutes later to be back on level terms, and both Savic and Dragon Njegic came close to giving the White Eagles the lead going into the break. Michael Garcia became more involved after the break and proved a handful for the home backline. Sorrento were rewarded for their early second half dominance when Danny hill found the back of the net to re-store their lead. The White Eagles showed great fighting spirit to keep their chances alive and the home fans went wild when Robert Cibesku scored the equaliser. They almost snatched the lead minutes later when a great chance fell to Savic only for Young to pull off a great save. Sorrento’s experience showed as they calmly mounted their attacks and made it 3-2 when Jeans scored his second of the afternoon from the poorly defended corner. The White Eagles went down to ten men in the 85th minute with the dismissal of Mario Lucic, and Todd Harnwell’s shot shortly before the final whistle deflected off Djukan Tesic to complete the White Eagles woes.
Morley Windmills started their home clash with South West Phoenix the stronger with veteran Willie Herd at the heart of every dangerous move the home side created early on. Phoenix 'keeper Reece Braithwaite made a fantastic save in the 30th minute, holding an explosive volley at the near post when it looked a certain goal for the home side. Phoenix took the lead three minutes from half-time when Sasa Garic released Stephen Suttie who then slotted it past the ‘keeper. Windmills came out firing after the break only to go two down after 50 minutes - Steve Rodgers split the defence and Stephen Suttie again left the defence in his wake before slipping it home. Windmills pulled a goal back ten minutes later through a thundering free-kick from 28-metres by Aaron Wong. The home side dictated terms over the closing stages but were unable to find a way through the visiting defence which was well marshalled by Damien Trim.
The Stirling Suns were the only other non-Premier League club to make the quarter-final stage of the competition when they overcame a determined Bassendean Caledonian outfit 1-0 courtesy of a Bosko Klenkovski goal. Generally, it wasn’t a good day for those from the First Division. Goals from Andrew Cornwall, Philip Smiljanic (2), Elton Holmes, Gary Jamieson saw Inglewood United run riot over Armadale to the tune of five-nil. Kevin Morris’ goal for Kingsway Olympic was countered by strikes from Stuart Montgomery and Sandy Robertson as ECU Joondalup progressed to the next round thanks with a 2-1 victory. Rockingham City were always had their backs to the wall in their away clash with Perth for whom Mark Pottier, David Onoforo (2) and Andreas Oliviera were the scorers.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND TWO
The points were shared at Ken Allen Field where Fremantle City hosted Perth. In an exciting match which saw the home side dominate proceedings opening half, it took until the 36th minute for the deadlock to be broken when Will Pryce’s speculative attempt gave the home team the lead. The midfielder let fly from 35-metres which dipped dramatically to catch Perth custodian Robert Scarparolo by surprise, the ball slipping from his grip and bouncing over the line. On the stroke of half-time Perth were back on level terms after a rare foray into attack - Vince Tana’s cross to the far post landing on the head of Andreas Oliviera who knocked it past City ‘keeper Darren Williams. Six minutes after the re-start the visitors snatched the lead - Olivieria combining well with 20-year old Rob Giorgi whose shot flew past the left glove of Willams. With Perth holding on desperately for three points, City captain Paul McVittie popped up two minutes into stoppage time to earn his side their first point of 2001. Scott Clissold’s corner was unsuccessfully cleared by the defence, and McVittie seized upon the lose ball to blast it through a sea of players to make the final score two-all.
ECU Joondalup celebrated their 10th anniversary on Saturday with the official opening of a new stand by W.A. Premier Geoff Gallop at the Edith Cowan University sports grounds. With first team proceedings against Bassendean Caledonian getting underway at 1.00pm, big things were expected from the home side who seven days ago defeated Floreat Athena 1-0, and mid-week secured the services of Brain Howard and Gary McManus from English club Southampton. Joondalup showed all the initiative in the opening half with Howard, an England youth international, showing his class in attack and linking well with Sandy Robertson in the middle of the park. But for all their creativity, the home team could not convert their chances in front of goal and scorers remained untroubled at the break. Having lost State defender Jamie Kuzmanovic to injury, Joondalup suffered a further blow five minutes after the re-start when Caledonian were awarded a penalty which Gary James coolly slotted home. Derek Cooke doubled the lead midway through the period, then killed off the game with 15 minutes remaining with is second goal of the afternoon as Caledonian recorded their first win of the Premier League season.
For the second time in as many weeks, Sorrento netted five times to maintain their 100% record and extend their lead at the top of the Premier League ladder. Playing away to Swan I.C., last week’s four-goal hero Ryan Jeans took his season tally to five, while a double from recent Perth Glory recruit Todd Harwwell and singles by Jared Love and veteran Ross Greer saw the visitors take home all three points. Scott Halpin and Damien Scali got their names on the scoresheet for the home side.
The Western Knights moved into second place on goal difference after being held 1-1 at home by Cockburn City, Tom Radic (Knights) and Joshua Pescud (City) the scorers. And Floreat Athena bounced back from last week’s shock loss to Joondlaup to earn their first point of the season when held 1-1 by Inglewood United. Athena striker Ryan Newhill punished his former club for the second time this season - he also scored the goal which knocked United out of the Night Series at the semi-final stage - only for United’s off-season recruit Elton Holmes to draw his side level.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND TWO (IN BRIEF)
For the second time in as many weeks, Sorrento have scored five goals and extended their lead at the top of the W.A. Premier League table. Playing away to Swan I.C, last week’s four-goal hero Ryan Jeans took his season tally to five, while a double from recent Perth Glory recruit Todd Harwwell and singles by Jared Love and veteran Ross Greer saw the visitors take home all three points.
Bassendean Caledonian spoiled ECU Joondalup’s 10th birthday celebrations with a surprise 3-0 win. Joondalup dominated the opening half but were unable to find the target as Brian Howard and Sandy Robertson reeked havoc. Early in the second half Gary James converted a penalty to get the ball rolling for Callies, and Derek Cooke wrapped up the game with two goals of his own.
Saturday’s three remaining fixtures ended in the points being shared. The Western Knights moved into second on goal difference after being held 1-1 at home by Cockburn City. Fremantle City and Perth battled out an entertaining 2-2 draw at Ken Allen Field. And Floreat Athena bounced back from last week’s shock loss to draw with Inglewood United 1-1.
FIRST DIVISION ROUND-UP
The Dianella White Eagles hosted Ashfield on Saturday in what was a very physical encounter. A hard-working Ashfield midfield created some good early chances only to be denied by the opposing ‘keeper, but in the 6th minute there was nothing he could do when David Mayers latched onto a loose ball to put Ashfield one up. The home team had to rely almost solely on the counter-attack while Ashfield controlled the middle of the park and extended their lead after 26 minutes after midfielder Steve Gillibrand pushed the ball passed the defence to score a good individual goal.
The White Eagles started the second period more positively and were awarded a penalty in the second minute of play when Robert Cibesku was brought down - Dragan Njegic took the spot-kick only for Phil Jackson to save. Two minutes later Gillibrand sent a spectacular volley from just outside the 18-yard box past the ’keeper to make it 3-0. However, the White Eagles weren't about to give up and Zelko Savic pulled one back after some good work down the right from Cibesku a few minutes later. The home side continued to push for a second and had their opponents on the back foot for long periods, Cibesku bringing his side back into the game with 20 minutes remaining. The goal sparked Ashfield to life and in the 85th minute Shane Fuhr netted with a superb chip that gave the ‘keeper no chance.
After two rounds the Stirling Lions are yet to concede a goal, their 2-0 win over rivals the Stirling Suns taking them into second place on the First Division (South) ladder behind Ashfield on goal difference. Perth City beat Balcatta 5-3 in a goal-feast at Kingsway Reserve, while Bayswater City’s dreadful start to the new season continued when they went down 1-3 at the hands of Kingsway Olympic.
South West Phoenix kicked-off their winter campaign with an entertaining home clash against Southside United on Saturday. The League’s new-comers should have had the game wrapped up by half time with golden opportunities missed by Sasa Garic (3), David Rodgers and Steve Suttie (2). The United ‘keeper was in tremendous form as he saved shot after shot and adapted to play as an extra sweeper for his team. Down the other end, Reece Braithwaite made two excellent first half saves but could do nothing about United taking the lead five minutes from half-time when poor marking gifted their opponents a free header inside the area.
Phoenix picked up the pace after the re-start and the visiting ‘keeper came to his sides rescue three times in as many minutes to deny Garic, Steve Suttie and David Rodgers. The home side doggedly wore the opponents down and Sasa Garic beat the offside trap and made no mistake as he calmly slotted the ball past the on-rushing ‘keeper after 54 minutes. Two minutes later United could have restored their lead after a misunderstanding between Braithwaite and one of his fullbacks saw the visiting side sent the ball goalward, only to be headed off the line by Damien Trim. Phoenix searched hard for a winner and their constant pressure paid off in the 85th minute when captain Steve Rodgers hammered it past the ‘keeper from close range.
A 4-1 home win by Morley Windmills over Armadale saw at the top of the First Division (South) leader board after one round. The Leeming Strikers claimed second spot when they won a seven goal thriller against Canning City by the odd goal, and Rockingham City and Queens Park played out a scoreless draw at Dowling Street Reserve.
LOTS OF LOCAL ACTION THIS LONG WEEKEND
It’s a big weekend of local action with Round Two of the W.A. Premier League taking place on Saturday, followed two days later by the Second Round of the Boral Cup. In the League, Floreat Athena will be looking to get their season back on track after last week’s 0-1 defeat at the hands of ECU Joondalup and should prove too strong for Inglewood United. The match of the round will be at Ken Allen Field where reigning champions Fremantle City take on Night Series winners Perth in a match too close to call. Joondalup should pick up the points when they host Bassendean Caledonian. Sorrento will add to their points and goal tally when the travel to play Swan I.C. And in their debut outing at Nash Field, Western Knights and Cockburn City will most likely battle out a fierce draw.
In Monday’s Boral Cup action, Floreat Athena and Fremantle City meet at Litis Stadium in what will be a tight contest. The only other all-Premier League clash sees Cockburn City and Western Knights meet for the second time in the space of three days, and this time the Knights should run out winners. Dianella White Eagles are at home to Sorrento and it’s hard to see the visitors going down there. ECU Joondalup should prove too strong for home team Kingsway Olympic. Bassendean Caledonian will have their work cut out keeping the Stirling Suns scoreless. Inglewood United should easily account for Armadale. Perth are the clear favourites against Rockingham City. And expect South West Phoenix to upset Morley Windmills.
IN CONVERSATION WITH ADRIAN MADASCHI
Now in his fourth season with Atalanta and armed with the security of a professional deal running to 2004, former Perth S.C. junior Adrian Madaschi is tipped to become the latest youngster off the Atalanta production line to make it big. The folks from tribalfootball.com caught up with the Under-20 international last week ...
How has your Primavera team performed this season?
My team has performed very well this season, leading the league table from the very start of the season. We are currently first on the ladder, two points clear of Inter, and probably have the hardest group out of the three groups of Primavera around Italy. We are in the Italian Youth Cup final for the second year running (we won it last year 3-1 against Napoli) and have already won the first leg of the final 1-0 against Bari this year at home. Wednesday, 4th April is the return leg in Bari and this will decide the winner. Even despite playing away, we all hope and believe that we can bring the goods back to Bergamo for the second year in a row. Personally, I have played roughly every game of the league minus the ones I missed whilst playing for Australia, that is about 23 in total, played all Coppa Italia games (12) and have scored 2 goals this season.
What is the standard like in Primavera?
The standard is impressive. It is an under 19 competition and brings together all the best emerging youngsters in Italy, of which, will either enter their respective first teams or be loaned out to Serie C clubs to gain experience of men's football. The next step up from Primavera is either Serie A or Serie B, depending whether your club is in A or B, (Primavera is made up of clubs who are currently in Serie A and Serie B) so the Primavera gives players two vital years to mature physically, mentally, technically and tactically for Serie A football.
What is your preferred playing position?
I would have to say my preferred playing position is sweeper as I like to play out from the back and it gives you the opportunity of a free role, where you can change defensive situations into attacking moves. I am very happy to play as a central defender in a flat back four (ie. playing a 4-4-2 formation) as this is very challenging and allows you to have an alternating role of both marking and as covering the other central defender. We adopt this style at Atalanta and every team, from the 10 year-olds to the senior team plays the same formation. It is probably one of the easiest and most comfortable to play and allows for great understanding between the central defensive pair.
How did you manage to get a contract with Atalanta?
It doesn't come that easy and initially it wasn't a contract. In fact, I played two season before I was offered a contract with Atalanta, that was in 1999. I arrived at Atalanta after trialling with Fiorentina with six other guys of Italian origin from WA. It was only after my Fiorentina experience, when travelling to Bergamo to visit relatives that my luck came. Here, my cousin, who was friends with an Atalanta scout, requested that I perhaps be able to take part in a training session to compare the standards between myself and the Italian kids. Well, to my luck, I actually had two training sessions, played one game and fortunately this was enough to convince the junior director to ask if I had the courage to take on a new Italian journey. I jumped at the opportunity with no doubt and no looking back in mind. After all, Atalanta was my "squadra del cuore", the team I used to watch on SBS every Sunday morning at 10.30 and to think, yes, just 7 months down the track in August of 97, it was finally a dream come true. I was wearing the blue and black striped jersey that I had always dreamed of. Sometimes I reflect back and think how lucky I really was and this makes me strive for higher goals and greater achievements as I go along this dream pathway.
Have you ever had any indication by the club about getting a run in the senior team?
That would be the ultimate! Yes, I have been given indications that next year I will be in the senior squad, however, I think it is better to focus on the immediate job at hand, keeping my feet firm on the ground as always, putting my head down and working harder both physically and mentally than ever before. I am playing very well, am in good form and have had a very good season to date and hopefully this can remain to see out the rest of the season and prepare me for an exciting under 20 World Cup. I am a firm believer that actions speak louder than words so the ball is in my court. If I can come up with the goods, then hopefully, I can be rewarded. However, there's one thing I can guarantee. Like anything in life, everything comes at a cost and in this situation the cost is sacrifice, dedication and most importantly desire. It is all up to me to prove that I have substantial desire to fulfil the requirements of playing Serie A football, and only I can decide this fate. I am a very positive person and I believe that by using humility as a strong guide, followed by the dedication and desire, I can arrive at my dream.
Describe what your usual week involves?
My usual week involves training on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday once a day starting at 3pm in the afternoon. Training sessions last for between 2-3 hours but more often than not get closer to 3 and on Thursday and Sunday I have rest days. Thursdays and Sundays are used as days to relax, stay with my relatives up in the mountains, chat with friends and family via internet and of course, never forgetting further refinement of ball skills. I do between 1-1.5 hours of ball juggling, stretching and similar exercises on these days all in my uncle's underground cellar which is about the size of a 5-a-side soccer pitch. It is the ultimate! What more could you want in life? A soccer ball at your feet, no one to disturb, time to focus, reflect and reset your goals, all in amongst the cool, fresh air and fine scenery of the mountainous areas located about 12 km out of Bergamo city. Saturday is game day, a day full of intensity involving a strict match preparation which I like to stick to, to gain full focus for the game ahead of me. I don't have a great deal of free time and I'm not the kind of person who likes to hit the night life. In fact, it is an extreme rarity, I like to remain focused on the job at hand here in Italy, fun is for when I come back home to Australia. Instead, I enjoy going shopping and for a walk in Cite Alta, the old part of Bergamo located on the nearby mountains in the city. An amazing site on a clear day! It is very historic and is filled with rich Italian culture to absorb and admire never forgetting of course, the fantastic Italian gelati that is the best in the world and adds to the picturesque scenery.
Do you ever train with the senior team or have any interaction with them?
Occasionally, I play training games, either mixed or against them and I get along well with the younger guys of the team. Players like Donate, who I used to live with at the hostel, Rossini, Beeline, Poniard and Rustic. Because I am not part of the first team, I don't really know the older players a great deal. Also because they are very busy and have little time to mix in with the junior players.
Are you signed as a foreigner or do you have an Italian passport?
Fortunately, thanks to my grandparents from both my Mum and Dad's side of the family, I have an Italian passport. This is my playing card and is worth more than gold to me, even if it does mean having to do Italian military service.
Do you have any family living in Italy?
Yes, fortunately I do have relatives right here in Bergamo with whom I stayed with for the first two seasons here, before moving to the player's hostel for foreign and extra-regional players who come from other regions of Italy. Having relatives in Bergamo was one of the main reasons why I came to Atalanta. At the age of 14, they were fundamental in acting as my mother and father-figures and I am ever grateful for their love, care and never ending hospitality that is so warm and welcoming. They have taken me on like another son and I don't think I will ever be able to repay them for their great support, but I know that my uncle and my cousins would be the proudest people in the world to see me wear the blue and black stripes of their home town club that they worship so much. Fortunately, having them as a point of constant support, the nostalgia of my family back in Perth was absorbed a bit, but yes, home is always home and no matter what anyone says, Perth is the best place in the world. The family, the friends, the peacefulness, the beach and long hot summers. The best! However when I left at 14 years of age, I thought to myself that it would be a small price to pay to be offered the chance to gain the success I have always dreamed of. Since then, it has become more of a normal thing, just something, like many things, that I must sacrifice in order to strive for my future goals.
You are playing in the World Youth Championships. What are your ambitions with Australian national teams?
Yes, I am playing with the Young Socceroos at the moment and that is all I want to think about at this stage. There is no room for anything else. We must focus on one thing at a time to get the best result possible. We have a strong team and strong ambitions and, after the Joeys in New Zealand in 1999, we want to prove to the world that it was not a one-off thing. There are many talented players in this very tight-knit team and we must work together to reach our highest goal, firstly as a team and then as individuals for future careers moves overseas.
PAPERWORK HOLDS UP CORREIA
The future of State striker Kevin Correia is in limbo following his apparent departure from Fremantle City. The 22-year old has been training with Sorrento for the past few weeks, and with that club interested in obtaining his services, paperwork has stepped in to halt proceedings. Half-way through a two-year contract with Portuguese 1st Division outfit Maritimo, Correia opted for a return to Perth last June when he linked up with City. Out of favour at the club this year, and with the possibility of a transfer to Sorrento, it has been discovered that Correia is still a registered player in Portugal. And until that, and his arrangement with City is sorted out, Correia’s career has been put on hold.
LIGHTNING AT LEEDERVILLE?
Soccer West Coast have reportedly approached the Town Of Vincent with the view of using Leederville Oval as a home base for their proposed Western Lighting NSL team. The local authority are at the current time calling upon interested parties to make expressions of interest on the facility which is currently utilised by Perth Glory and East Perth Football Club as a training base.
ATHENA HAMMER SOUTHSIDE
Premier League outfit Floreat Athena last night sent seven goals past Southside United without reply in their re-scheduled opening round Boral Cup fixture at the Litis Stadium. The visitors started well and looked to be in with a chance, that was until New Zealand international Adrian Sutton headed in the opening goal from point-blank range in the 15th minute to open the floodgates. Andrew Afkos made it 2-0 after 26 minutes, and Robyn Dyers killed off the game as a contest on the half-hour mark when he bared through a crowded goalmouth to net. A minute after the break Afkos bagged his second of the evening, Troy Bernard hit the goal of the game with a stunning volley in the 51st minute, captain Hugh Miller made it six and Doug Ithier completed the route late two minutes from full-time. Southside rarely troubled John Xigas between the posts for the home side, although Darren Ingham and Mark Edwards showed some flashes of skill in the middle of the park.
PERTH OPEN NEW FACILITIES
It has been a busy off-season at Dorrien Gardens where Night Series winners Perth have spent to the tune of $600,000 in redeveloping their ground and up-grading near-by facilities for the juniors. “The ground will include a lift for handicapped visitors and more standing room. The main grandstand and function area has also been extended,” club secretary Neil Cole said recently. “When the work is complete I believe this building will become very important to the local community. Perth Soccer Club has always been one of the most professional clubs in the State and these facilities are proof.”
Perth’s junior sides, who play their home games at near-by Forrest Park, have also seen an improvement in their set-up. They will now have an adjoining base at Mount Lawley Bowling Club where they’ll share a kiosk and other facilities with the local croquet club. “It is fantastic for the juniors to have somewhere to meet and socialise,” Cole added.
NEW REPRESENTATIVE HONOURS FOR AMATUERS
State amateur coach Dave Coward this week unveiled WAASSA’s plans to give their players more exposure at representative level with the introduction of a north-v-south game. Coward has used the Swan River to divide the metropolitan area into two areas from which two representative squads will be drawn for an annual friendly series. “At the moment it’s for clubs in Division One to Four, leaving out the Premier League because a lot of those players have already been part of the State program since April last year,” Coward said this week. “That should run until the end of August and it should give some new players an opportunity, other than those in the ‘A’ squad.”
Coward added that the series, if a success, could act as a possible feeder to the State amateur side. “I’m also looking for some young players to bring through, so we’ll be asking clubs to nominate players shortly. We’ll hold a series of trials, a couple of training sessions then a north-v-south game north of the river and another in the south,” Coward added. “I think it’s good that WAASSA have got behind the program and said they want to do something, not only for the young players but also for those with experience that want to take the next step - to represent WAASSA.”
STANGE LUNCHES WITH SWC
Perth Glory coach Bernd Stange, who is tipped to be dumped by the club at the end of the current NSL season, was late last week spotted lunching with three high-ranking Soccer West Coast officals - president David Schrandt, general manager Paul Tombides and board member Siggy Kramer - at Parliament House. The local body have applied for the second NSL license in Perth and just last month Tombides said that he would do everything in his power to keep the former East German national coach in W.A. should he part company with Glory. “We will try to do something with him - and maybe even create a job for him,” Tombides said four weeks ago.
VALE GEORGE PENDREIGH
Former WAASSA Board member George Pendreigh passed away on Sunday after a long battle with cancer, aged 58. Born in Scotland, Pendriegh served in the Australian Navy before joining the staff of the “West Australian” newspaper. After a spell as a reporter for local radio station 6NR, he was more recently editor of “British Soccer Week”.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND ONE
The opening round of the 2001 Cellular One Premier League pitted local rivals Perth against Inglewood United at Dorrien Gardens. Night Series winners Perth were still without captain Craig Naven for this clash, while influential midfielder Mark Pottier started on the bench after featuring in the reserves game. United on the other hand were at full strength with a fine blend of youth and experience in their starting line-up. The club have seen a lot of changes over the summer months and coach Steve Parkinson will have his work cut in making the side Top Five contenders this year.
Proceedings got underway at a frenetic pace and Perth came very close to taking a surprise lead after 5 minutes. Steven Willey’s cross was dropped by United ‘keeper Oliver Taseski and Boni Botha reacted quickly, but his shot from close range was blocked by Jason Godfrey. Other than that there wasn’t a lot to get excited about in the opening 20 minutes. The home side worked diligently to get the ball into attack only to meet strong resistance from a United outfit focused on defending. United were quick to close down their opponents but when it came to mounting attacks of their own the side was very hesitant to commit players forward, making it very easy for Perth to break them down. Out wide on the left Greg Sharland was the only United player wanting to get forward with any urgency, while his opponent Willey was the driving force behind many of Perth’s early attacks.
Mid-way through the half Lee Crosby became the first name in referee Steve Muldoon’s book for a dreadfully late tackle on Vince Tana. Willey swung the free-kick into the 18-yard box where Botha, one of the shortest players on the park, rose above the crowd and sent a strong header into the side netting. Two minutes later United had appeals for obstruction dismissed when David Onoforo held back Alex Cummings to allow Rob Giorgi to race through the middle, he rounded Drew Carruthers only to be stopped in his tracks by teenage defender Godfrey. Perth were beginning to show signs that they were wanting to take the game by the scruff of the neck, but the smothering tactics employed by United made sure the home side didn’t get out of first gear just yet.
It wasn’t until the 26th minute that United managed anything resembling a chance on goal, but Cummings’ downward header from Scott Campbell’s corner didn’t trouble Robert Scarparolo in the slightest. Part of United’s problem was that there appeared to belittle understanding between their strikers, you got the overwhelming feeling that Elton Holmes and John Bartolomei are still coming to terms with playing together. The visitors seemed content to rely on trying to catch Perth on the counter-attack, but their best chance of the half resulted from another corner. In the 37th minute Cummings volleyed a partially cleared corner back past Scarparolo, only to see his smashing shot amazingly headed off the line by Giorgi.
As the half came to a close Perth began to string some nice moves together and were finding holes in their opponents defence, mostly by playing the ball straight down the middle. Two minutes from the break a long cross-field ball from Willey exposed the frailties in United’s backline, Tana took the ball to the by-line before pulling it back to the far post when Todd Howarth’s half-volley whizzed just over the bar. A goal that close to the interval was what Perth deserved after a half which saw them do all the attacking, but have nothing to show for it after 45 minutes.
Coach Graham Normanton had some stern words for his players during the turn-around and Perth came emerged from the tunnel with fire in their belly. Seven minutes into the second half Onoforo took the direct route to goal but hesitated to shoot from 16-metres, Jamie Goodman making a perfectly-timed tackle from behind. Two minutes later Coyne sent Onoforo down the left flank, he flicked the ball into the path of Botha but his close-range shot lacked power. It was looking increasingly as though it would be only a matter of time before Perth found the back of the net, and it was. Botha ran onto a searching ball from Tana, rounded last defender Goodman before calmly slotting it beyond Taseski’s reach and into the far bottom corner of the goal to make it one-nil after 57 minutes.
United came very close to conceding a second goal within 60 seconds - Taseski’s poor clearance was pounced upon by Onoforo, he quickly found Botha who hammered his shot from 20-metres narrowly off target. And three minutes later Taseski was at fault again when he badly mis-judged a Willey corner which landed at the feet of a very surprised Mark Pottier, but before he could rattle off a shot Cummings conceded another corner. In between these came United’s only chance of the second half, Godfrey sending a deep cross to Holmes’ whose downward header put Scarparolo to the test, the ‘keeper coming up trumps with a great reflex save from close range.
The final 35 minutes was all one-way traffic. Carruthers and Goodman came close to colliding the centre of the park, Botha responded quickly and sent Pottier through the middle only for the midfielder to be twice denied by the reflexes of Taseski. Willey then had his shot from 16-metres land on the top netting. Perth came close to doubling their lead in the 76th minute when Botha made a bee-line for goal after Cummings mis-judged his clearance 25-metres out. The striker rounded one defender and his shot caught the advancing Taseski flat-footed, but Cummings never gave up the chase and got behind his ‘keeper to make a spectacular goal line clearance.
Next it was Taseski’s turn to performed aerobatics, Giorgi doing all the hard work to set-up Onoforo only to see his shot brilliantly turned around the up-right by the United ‘keeper. With six minutes left on the clock, Perth caught out United’s off-side trap when Howarth flew down the flank and slotted into the path of Botha, but dead in front and 7-metres from goal he amazingly failed to connect with the ball. Perth finally wrapped up the points in the 86th minute after Onoforo had been heavily brought down by Cummings on the edge of the penalty box. Howarth’s in-swinging free-kick was met by Onoforo and his glancing header flew past Taseski to nestle in the back of the net. It was a superbly taken goal, one obviously worked out on the training pitch and Cummings was the first to congratulate the scorer.
The 2-0 result would have been one that pleased neither coach. United were sluggish when in possession and created few opportunities for themselves over the 90 minutes. Their forwards failed to ignite, there was very little service coming from either the flanks or through the middle, while at the back it was their experienced heads that were making the simple mistakes. Campbell provided good penetration from out wide but had little support from those around him, while Godfrey is fast developing into a reliable stopper. Taseski pulled off some crucial saves after the break to over-shadow his earlier errors, but other than that were few positives for United’s coaching staff.
Perth coach Normaton was well aware the margin should have been far greater, especially the way in which his side dominated the second half. “It just goes to show that bad sides do win bad games,” he said after the game, with reference to the number of opportunities that went begging. Botha was without a doubt the stand-out player on the park, always moving into space, and capping a non-stop performance with a well-taken goal. Midfielders Giorgi and Tana gave 100% in supplying those further downfield with plenty to work with, and any threat at the back was quickly snuffed out by Perry Ielati. But while Perth should have won this game by four or five clear goals, they will be happy to have got the 2001 season off on the right foot to celebrate the opening of their new clubrooms with a first-up victory.
Inglewood United : Oliver Taseski, Alex Cummings, Jamie Goodman, Jason
Godfrey, Drew Carruthers (Phillip Smiljanic 67), Greg Sharland (Andy
Cornwall 46), Scott Campbell (Dom Ando 77), Daniel Harrop, Lee Crosby, John
Bartolomei, Elton Holmes
Perth : Robert Scarparolo, Perry Ielati, Michael Icanovski, Aaron Cole, Stephen Willey (Adam Bunce 73), Todd Howarth, Vince Tana, Robert Giorgi (Mark Pottier 57), Jamie Coyne (Andreas Oliviera 57), Boni Botha, David Onoforo
Referee : Steve Muldoon
Cautions : Crosby (20), Cole (66), Cummings (86)
Dismissals : None
Attendance : 350 (approx.)
OPENING DAY HIGH FIVE (by Kerry Slater)
Sorrento fans were walking tall after they achieved an exciting 5-2 victory over Fremantle City in their opening match of the 2001 Premier League season. Two teams that struggled to produce good form in the pre-season night competition gave the 300 plus supporters a match full of skill and passion. A first half hat trick by striker Ryan Jeans set Sorrento on their path to a handsome result.
Sorrento with the assistance of a reasonable breeze started the better. City survived one early goalmouth scramble, but succumbed to Jeans' first after 9 minutes, Michael Garcia’s cross from the right was headed back across goal by Ross Greer to Jeans who, from close in, needed two stabs at the ball as his first came back off ‘keeper, Darren Williams. Former Sorrento striker Trim Morgan should have put City on level terms when he surprisingly received the ball from a very poor clearance by Neil Young, who was quick to tackle, only for the ball to spill to Morgan and his follow up shot was well held by the Sorrento ‘keeper after 16 minutes. In the 25th minute a deep cross by Danny Hill from near the half way line was chested down by Greer and into the path of the active Garcia, unfortunately his instant shot was wide of the right post. Garcia was the sparkle as two minutes later he chased a lost cause and gained possession from Evan Wallace on the by-line and cut the ball back to Glen Thomas - his effort was battered away by Williams resulting in a goalmouth scramble in which Jeans' shot was cleared. On the half hour in another chaotic scramble in the City area created by a Scott McLeod header, a hand ball by Wallace resulted in a penalty which Jeans coolly despatched high into the right corner. A foot injury forced defender Richard Turnball off for David Colegate four minutes after the goal. Two minutes later, City dangerman Morgan received a pass wide from Michael Mirco. Morgan cut inside and his curling shot was wide of Young's right post. A minute into stoppage time and Garcia was again the architect as he created space for his cross from the left to Jeans at the far post, the striker bundling the ball home to give Sorrento a three goal half time lead.
Fourteen minutes into the new half Morgan pulled one back for the visitors when he tapped in following a cross by Dale Wingell. Five minutes later a free-kick on the edge of the area following a trip on Garcia saw Jeans' shot palmed away for a corner. Sorrento were dominating and the defensive partnership of McLeod and Hill stifled and hint of attack. Substitute Jared Love, who had replaced the injured Peter Butler, had his cross from the right handled by Dave Evans, the referee left with no option but to award Sorrento their second penalty of the afternoon after 76 minutes. Jeans put his spot-kick in the same corner and sent William diving the other direction. City grabbed another goal back in the 90th minute, again through the willing Morgan as he was left unmarked to pick his spot pass Young. Three minutes into stoppage time, Love gather the ball in his own half and out-sprinted Evans to end the game in spectacular fashion, blasting the ball past the fully stretched Williams. Four-goal hero Jeans was named Sorrento’s Player of the Week after the match which left Sorrento with high hopes for the season.
The reserves match was a bewildering affair, the match official's decisions difficult to fathom by the players. Sorrento started well, but surprisingly took until the 38th minute before taking the lead when, following a comedy of mis-kicks, the ball fell to David Foster who struck home from 6-metres. In the second half, City came into the game and equalised through Joe Liguan. He was fortunate that after his initial shot was blocked by Steve Partalo, the rebound came back to him and his second attempt found the net. From this point there were three players sent off in situations that hardly seemed to even warrant a caution. First to go was City’s Tryone Fenwick who was issued a red card by Robert Moore, and he was followed later by Sorrento's Toby Wright and Leo Harman in separate incidents.
A very entertaining Under-18’s clash saw Sorrento hold the upper hand early on and they deservedly went ahead in the 9th minute when James Morgan's effort from long-range came back off the bar, and Jake Harman pounced on the rebound to smash the ball pass Michael Basilio. City had a chance to level just before the break, but Chris Zarriceta lobbed over the bar with Matt Williams stranded mid-way. Fourteen minutes into the second half Peter Steeger scored on his debut for Sorrento. City will feel they had the chances to get back into the match, but inaccurate finishing let them down.
ELSEWHERE IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE
Young Cockburn City striker Branimir Mikulic got his club’s season off to a bright start with a stunning hat-trick as City overcame being reduced to nine men against Swan I.C. Defender Stuart Weston was dismissed in the 13th minute for holding back Scott Halpin inside the area, Peter Vukmirovic giving Swan the lead when he netted from the spot. Mikulic converted a penalty of his own to equalise five minutes later, then on the hour mark put the home side 2-1 up. City went down to nine in the 65th minute when midfielder Dean Gartside was given his marching orders, but any hopes Swan had of coming back were erased just seven minutes later when Mikulic bagged his third of the afternoon. Swan finished the game with 10 men when Justin Everley was sent off after 83 minutes.
Floreat Athena went into Saturday’s home clash with ECU Joondalup without key midfielders Doug Ithier (overseas), Jason Smith (calf injury) and Costas Socratous (hamstring). After a scrappy opening half, the visitors had a great chance to take the lead shortly after the break when Scott Broadley's effort was blocked by goalkeeper John Xigas, then Steve White's follow-up was cleared off the line. With the game seemingly destined for a scoreless draw, State teammates White and Jamie Kuzmanovic combined in the 87th minute for the winner - Kuzmanovic beating Robyn Dyers to White’s corner and sending the ball past Xigas for the only goal of the game. To add to Athena’s woes, Dyers was stretchered off after the clash which left the tall striker with concussion. It’s going to be trying week for Athena who will play three games in the space of seven days and are looking likely to be without Miguel Ortin (leg injury) and Dyers (concussed) in addition to Ithier, Smith and Socratous. Their re-scheduled opening round Boral Cup game with 1st Division Southside will take place on Wednesday evening, three days later they host Inglewood United in the League, and on Easter Monday there’s the Boral Cup Second Round fixture with Fremantle City (presuming they account for Southside).
Bassendean Caledonian’s return to the top flight was not a happy one, thumped 3-0 at home by the the Western Knights. First half goals from Eugene Singeorzan (2) and John Nicolaou getting their opponents season off on the wrong foot.
FIRST DIVISION ROUND-UP
Dianella White Eagles started their 2001 campaign off with the home clash against bitter rivals the Stirling Suns. In an entertaining contest played out in front of around 400 supporters, the Suns started the sharper of the two sides, dominating play over the opening 20 minutes and coming close to opening the scoring on several occasions. In 25th minute, the White Eagles punished their opponents for the missed opportunities when Dragan Njegic struck a beautiful volley in the top corner to give his side the lead. The home side introduced Pedja Jovanovic after the break to strengthen their midfield which picked up the pace over the next 45 minutes. After 60 minutes Dragisa Volarevic doubled the margin after a good lay-off by young Robert Cibesku. With 20 minutes left on the clock, Njegic made the final score 3-0 with a perfect chip over the ‘keeper. It was a great confidence builder for the White Eagles buster who play Ashfield next Saturday with a Second Round Boral Cup clash with Sorrento two days later. Earlier in the day the White Eagles reserves were beaten 0-1 by the Suns.
Elsewhere north of the river, Perth City and Wanneroo City slugged out a 2-2 draw, while the Stirling Lions opened their account for the season with a convincing 3-0 win over the Bayswater City Panthers. A revitalised Ashfield showed that they will be a force to be reckoned with then they hammered Balcatta 5-1 at home.
FREMANTLE FOCUSED ON THE TASK AT HAND
It’s been hard to wipe the smile off the face of Fremantle City coach Stuart Kamasz this week, after his side defeated NSL powerhouse Perth Glory in last weeks friendly between the two sides. Kamasz this week said that was in the past and his players were now concentrating on tomorrow’s opening round Premier League clash with Sorrento. “All in all it was a great effort, but we have to forget it and think about Sorrento on Saturday,” Kamasz said late in the week. “We have a strong squad and when we are all fit and available, hopefully we can show Friday’s commitment every week.”
The club have strengthened their stocks for the up-coming season this week with the signing of one-time State representative Scott Clissold. “A great signing for us, it’s good to have him back at Fremantle,” said the City coach. The midfielder spent the 1997 and 1998 seasons with City before spells with Floreat Athena and ECU Joondalup.
Elsewhere this weekend, Bassendean Caledonian make their return to the Premier League when they play the Western Knights at Jubilee Reserve, while in the game of the round Perth is at home to Inglewood United. Floreat Athena take on ECU Joondalup, and Swan I.C. will be hoping to erase last weeks’ Boral Cup loss when they are on the road to play Cockburn City.
BORAL CUP SECOND ROUND DRAW
Premier League side Floreat Athena will play their catch-up, opening round Boral Cup game with Southside United on Wednesday night at Litis Stadium. The winner will host Fremantle City in the second round on Easter Monday. The only all Premier League clash sees Cockburn City take on the Western Knights, while Dianella White Eagles verses Sorrento promises to be a tight game. Kingsway Olympic play ECU Joondalup, Bassendean Caledonian are drawn at home to the Stirling Suns, and Inglewood United travel to Armadale. Other games will see Perth play Rockingham City, and Morley Windmills against South West Phoenix.
MEDIA AND REFEREES IN STALEMATE (by Richard Kreider)
Last night the local media (aka the Media Maniacs) took on a referees combination (aka Riff Reffs) under lights at Perth Oval. The first half was one to forget for Maniacs who more intent on pouring verbal acid on their own players abilities rather than providing some badly needed encouragement for those that needed it - namely ALL of them. The Reffs were rewarded for their aggressive offensive play which handed them a 2-0 lead. "Bob-Cat" Figg pulled a goal back for the media side to make it 2-1 at half-time.
The Reffs then missed a penalty by hitting an upright, but scored to make it 3-1 just moments into the second half with a close-range header. The diminutive Figg was again on hand to make it 3-2 courtesy of a bye-line push back from John O'Connell's young prodigy Calum - in fact Figg's two goals were converted from about 2-metres out and even then he did his best to shoot over the top! The Maniacs were well on top by this stage and dominated the second half after, eventually finding a way through their opponents rearguard via the flanks, with Mr Kappa, Wally Aquino, making a noted contribution on the right.
If Figg was the "Bob-Cat", Mo Kaplin was certainly the bulldozer after upsetting a number of the Reffs with some 'shady' challenges. Richard Kreider equalised to make it 3-3 - again from close-range - after a classic nutmeg pass from ring-in Bernd Stange started the move off with a mazy solo run past a number of bewildered opponents who by this time had run out of puff.
When the controlling canary, David Mortimer, blew the final whistle many of those on the park snuck off for a spell on the iron-Lung which was rented just for the night. Certainly, goalkeeper Ashley Morrison kept the Maniacs side in the game with some brave goalkeeping and was well supported by the 'very mature' O'Connell. The equally evergreen Gary Marocchi worked hard out of midfield alongside the pacey Jonathon Cook, while Penny Tanner was very busy along the flanks for the media team.
TANA MEETS WITH CLUBS
Suspended Soccer Association of W.A. board member Nick Tana this week held two meetings with local officials to discuss the future of the game in this state. The Glory chairman met informally with representatives from several local clubs on Sunday, but is said to have been disappointed by the turnout which was less than half the number that attended a similar meeting recently.
On Tuesday Tana had a second go, inviting along two 'decision making' representatives from all Soccer West Coast clubs. Up for discussion were two issues that are of concern to the clubs, the first of which was the stalling tactics being employed by SAWA to not allow the Junior Soccer Association back into the controlling body. The other topic for discussion was the lack of action to implement the findings of the Feilding Report that was commissioned by the government and proposed the re-structure of the local game. The clubs are all in favour of the re-structure and have requested that it be implemented as soon as possible.
There were also a couple more meeting held this week. On Wednesday evening it was the Soccer West Coast general meeting where a new board member was elected, and the structure of the League for the 2002 season was decided. SAWA were also expected to meet on Thursday night to discuss the non-payment of administration fees to the body - the outcome of this meeting is yet to be made public.
IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBBIE PUCA
Fremantle-born Robbie Puca has become established as a regular starter for N.S.L. club Eastern Pride over the past couple of years. But the past year and a half have been a rollercoaster ride for the 21-year old midfielder - his 1999/2000 season was curtained by illness, he then trialled in Europe and more recently found himself smack-bang in the middle of the off-field problems which threaten to swallow his club. This week fellow Pride teammate Michael Katz agreed to interview Puca on our behalf, discussing his career to date and the current turmoil surrounding their club ...
Katz : You started out as a junior with Fremantle United in W.A., and later you spent time with Perth (Italia) in the W.A. Premier League. Could you give a brief run-down on your time in W.A.?
Puca : I started playing when I was five about because my brother was playing and I was always there trying to get a game in his team. I joined Perth around 1994 ... I played first in the Under-16's and then in the Under-18's when I was still 15-years old. I think I made my debut for the first team when I was 17-years old and played for four or so years with Perth, plus another year on loan during the N.S.L. off-season. As a team we took out the championship, the Cup and Top Four titles while I was there in the juniors, and I was also part of the senior side which won the Night Series in 1998. On a personal level I won the club's Development Player of the Year twice in a row and also earnt State team selection. At Under-16's I played for W.A. at the national championship in Sydney where we finished fifth, and I was captain of the W.A. Under-19's under coach Eric Williams when we went to Malaysia.
Katz : How did you first come to the attention of the Falcons (nee Pride)?
Puca : I was approached by John Higginson who said that Stuart Munro, who was the Falcons coach at the time, were looking for a left footed player and a stopper. He went around the W.A. Premier League and he chose me and Fremantle defender Dave Evans and asked if we wanted to go on trial as he thought we were what Stuart was looking for. So I went over and took part in two training sessions and played a game where I scored a goal and hit the post, then came back over for good a month later.
Katz : You've named Perth Oval as your favourite venue to play ... everytime you come back to W.A. with your club there is always a Robbie Puca fanclub in the stands waving flags etc. You must be quite touched by that sort of thing, still getting the support of those from your hometown despite playing for the visiting team?
Puca : Yeah, it's really exciting to see that. Initially they were people that I knew - family and friends - but now one of my best mates, Gary Faria, is playing for Glory so the supporter base has been split down the middle, half went for Gary and half stayed with me.
Katz : And I'd just like to add that Robbie does get a lot of teasing about his fanclub from the Pride players ...
Katz : Falcons/Pride haven't tasted a great deal of success during your time with them. What have been the highlights for you on a personal level?
Puca : Playing 70 N.S.L. games would be up there. And I've won two trophies, the Young Player of the Year and the Achievement Award which is given for overall contribution to the club, not just what happens on the field.
Katz : You are now firmly established as a first-team regular. What is the typical weekly routine at Pride for the players?
Puca : I double-up playing with being a Development Officer at the club. The average week is changing now because we haven't been paid for so long ... it depends really. If we are doing a double session we'll train in the morning, then all the boys will go to a place called La Puceta for a nice pasta lunch and we're back training at night. But if we've got the morning off then those of us that are Development Officers will go to schools and run clinics. We've also got a radio program every Thursday. On our days off I like to play a bit of golf, some Playstation and just take it easy ...
Katz : 2000 was a good year for you. You were one of the clubs best players last season, you trialled in Europe mid-year and early in the 2000/01 season chalked up a personal milestone with your 50th N.S.L. game in club colours. In reflection, how do you view that year?
Puca : Yeah, 2000 was an interesting one, one moment I was up in the air and the next it all went downhill a bit. I started the season flying and the club were doing well, then I found out I was sick. I was diagnosed as being diabetic and had been playing without knowing it and I lost 13 kilograms as a consequence. At the end of the season I picked myself up, I was still keen to go to Italy but, unfortunately, not a lot happened there. My manager also set up trials in England with Cambridge United, but first I spent time at Halifax Town as I had gone about a month without training, so I got my fitness up and played a few games at Halifax. They were very keen but I wasn't really interested in going lower than the Second Division. Anyway, I went to Cambridge and the pace of the game in England is unbelievable, it took me a while to get used to it but I did well and they kept me on for longer and eventually started negotiating with Pride. But all that fell through ...
Katz: I just want to add that Robbie was actually in Italy at the wrong time, there was a mix-up between the club there and Pride. Then by the time he got to England a lot of the clubs had already spent their budgets, so it was hard to even find a club to trial with. He did really well at Cambridge but unfortunately Pride were asking a really large transfer fee, and at that stage of the season Cambridge just couldn't afford it. But they were really happy with Robbie and asked him to go back over this year ...
Katz : This season has been a rollercoaster ride for the club, and they seem to have been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Let's look at what is happening on the park first. Pride are currently sitting in last place with just three wins from 25 outings ... what has gone wrong this season? Why are Pride stumping up the N.S.L. ladder?
Puca : That's a tough question ... to be honest it's hard to say. The team is probably the best since I've been here ... a lot of players are under-performing and I could maybe include myself in that ... and the off-field dramas haven't helped the players and we're all getting frustrated. But that's no excuse, in the first half of the season we were getting paid and there were no problems and we were still struggling but I really don't know. Katz, what do you think?
Katz: If you look at our results we haven't lost a game by more than two goals and we've lost six in the last minutes. We've been competitive in all our games, except maybe on or two when we were completely out of it. I think it's not that we're not good enough to be in the top half of the table, it's more a matter of expecting to win, of having a winning mentality and going out to wins games rather than trying not to lose. We've under-achieved in a lot of respects.
Katz : Off the park the club seem to be lurching from one crisis to the next. Problems with player payments (which I believe are continuing), the removal (and subsequent re-installment) of all N.S.L. points, and a growing uncertainty over the future of the club. This has obviously played a part in the poor showing this season. What is the feeling like around the club, and more specifically within the playing squad?
Puca : At the start it bonded us together more because we all agreed to stick together, but now before almost every game it's always "Okay boys, we are not going to get paid, are we going to play?" It's not the sort of preparation you want before a game and you really can't get motivated ... it's how am I going to pay my bills, how am I going to do this. It's pretty bad at the moment but we've all agreed we're going to stick together. We know we're not going to get any help from the club now, so the players are helping each other money-wise and so on. It's just us now, we've all said "Stuff the club, let's do it for ourselves." We want to try and fight through it and give the club time to find someone who will maybe buy or fix the club or do whatever needs to be done. But it looks like it might be happening, we got paid last week, it was the first full week we've got in around two months.
Katz : With the uncertainty surrounding the future of the club, what does the future hold for Robbie Puca? Are you planning to head back to Europe for further trials at the end of the season? And what are the chances that we might see you back in Perth at some stage playing/guesting locally?
Puca : I think I want to play another year or so in the National Soccer League. What let me down when I went overseas before was my strength and I've been working on that this year, building myself up a bit more and being a harder player which accommodates the English League, so another year might mentally toughen me up. Coming home would be great, as long as it's in the N.S.L., I don't want to be taking a step backwards. In the off-season I might be coming back, I don't know who for yet, but maybe I'll come back and play in the Premier League.
Katz : Thanks for your time Robbie. One last question ... I read somewhere that your most embarrassing moment was getting your head stuck in the net of the goals before a game. What is all that about?
Puca : When I was a junior, at our home ground I once scored a goal and the ball went through the net and the referee didn't allow it. So I became obsessed and before every game I'd go to the goal and check that they were pegged down correctly. Anyway, one day I found a hole in the net so I thought I'd check it out further and see if a ball could fit through it, but there was no ball handy at the time. I thought if my head can fit through that hole then a ball can also, so if I score the referee might disallow it again. So I squeezed my head through the hole but getting it back out was another thing, a few of the parents eventually yanked it off ... but I proved the ball would have gone through the net!
SUCCESS FOR MADASCHI AND DANZE
Atalanta and Australian youth international Adrian Madaschi has played an integral role in his side's Primavera Italian Cup victory after a 0-0 draw in the second leg against Bari. Following a 1-0 win in the away leg, Atalanta held on for a tight scoreless draw at home to ensure a victory. The West Australian born defender has been a star performer this season for the Atalanta youth team and is said to be close to first team selection.
And former ECU Joondalup teenager, now with NSL side Perth Glory, Anthony Danze is just ninety minutes away from representing Australia in the World Under-17 Championships in Trinidad and Tobago this September. The midfielder featured in Wednesday's 3-0 first leg win over New Zealand in the Oceania Qualifying Final, and is expected to be in the side for Sunday's return match in Auckland.
INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL - THE 2001 SEASON PREVIEW
The Western Australian State League kicks-off this weekend with the first round of fixtures in the both the Premier League and First Division. Next season will see the local governing body, Soccer West Coast, re-structure their competitions and reduce the top flight to eight clubs. This week we preview what the winter season has in store in the west, who is likely to make the drop from the Premier League and which clubs are favoured to take home the silverware.
FINLAY BACK HOME
Mark Finlay has returned to Perth after trialling in England with Sunderland, Notts County and Burnley. Despite not landing a contract this time around, the teenager is full of confidence for the future. With offers of further trials at a number of clubs, Finlay was advised to return to Perth and 'bulk up' over the local winter months before trying his luck in the UK later in the year.
SWC REJECTS GLORY PROPOSAL
Soccer West Coast have reportedly knocked back an offer from Perth Glory which would have seen the NSL club field a junior team in the W.A. Under-18 League. Next season Glory will establish a youth development program under former Socceroo coach Frank Arok which will see co-owner Nick Tana plunge around $400,000 into bringing on the states best young talent. It is been claimed that Glory had offered the local body $9,000 for a place in the Under-18's competition.
SAWA AND GLORY LOCK HORNS
Perth Glory are heading for a showdown with the Soccer Administration of W.A. and possibly Soccer Australia over unpaid fees. The state's controlling body claim they are owed some $30,000 by Glory - $20,000 in administration fees and a further $10,000 in overdue fees - and have demanded that the NSL powerhouse pay up. But Glory chairman Nick Tana, who was last week suspended from the board of SAWA over the matter, has disputed the amount and said his club would not be paying up.
When Glory was formed five years ago it chose to be just an affiliate member of SAWA, like the referees' body and women's soccer. It initially paid $400 but that later rose to $4,500, which the club felt was a fair amount. It was increased to $20,000 in 1998 without reason, but the club have continued to pay the smaller amount over that period. Tana claimed this week that Glory were charged more because of the success the club have experienced. "Just because it (Perth Glory) is perceived to be more successful that others and there is more money going into players, administration, marketing etcetera, does that arbitrarily mean we should pay 10 or 11 times more than anyone else?"
SAWA president Paul Afkos - who is also a 25% shareholder in Glory - said the fee increase was to provide funds for the development of the game in W.A. He pointed out that SAWA survived solely on the contribution of its affiliates to effectively manage the game. "The State federation employs a director of coaching, it employs staff to promote and develop the game of soccer and the only source of income is membership fees," he said. The whole issue appears to have been exacerbated by the well-reported personal feud between the Glory co-owners. "I think objections (to paying the amount) are of a personal nature and I see no commercial logic behind this stand Mr Tana has," Afkos said.
Tana said the club would consider paying up if it was ordered to do so by Soccer Australia. The national body has the power to penalise Glory through various options including banning them or stripping them of all points should they not pay their state fees. But NSL general manager Stefan Kamasz has refused to enter into the feud at this stage. "It's up to the parties to sort it out - it's not a matter for the NSL," Kamasz said on Sunday.
The seemingly never-ending feud between Nick Tana and Paul Afkos has claimed another victim - Soccer West Coast general manager Paul Tombides, who last week resigned from his post as treasurer of the Soccer Association of W.A. "I'm sick of wasting my time at SAWA meetings, listening to Afkos and Tana trying to sort out their personal battles. I just want to concentrate on Soccer West Coast instead of getting caught up in all the politics."
It has also emerged that SWC have themselves been given 21 days to pay outstanding fees which it owes to SAWA. Tombides said the states controlling body claimed it was owed around $30,000, but he believes that figure is more in the vacinity of $9000. "We don't have a problem with paying up, it's just the amount that is contentious," Tombides said.
KNIGHTS OPEN NEW HOME
For the third time in as many seasons Western Knights have changed home grounds, this time to Nash Field in Mosman Park. On Saturday, a well-attended gala day was held at the new clubrooms which had previously been utilised by the local rugby side. The Knights have spent considerable time and money up-grading the facilities over the summer months and the results are well worth the out-lay - a picturesque setting flanked by rows of tall pine trees. And, although a little bumpy at the moment, the well-manicured playing surface has all the makings to be one of the best in the League.
As part of day-long celebrations, the Knights senior side played the reserves in an intra-club friendly. In a tight contest, the youngsters held their own over the opening half but fell behind four minutes from the interval when Michael Vaz was given space to turn and shoot from close range and a superb pass from John Nicolaou. Twelve minutes after the re-start, the reserves were back on level terms after Steven Sulenta weaved past the defence and found Luke Pavlos unmarked at the far post. The decider can from the unlikely boot of Leon Russell who drilled the ball through a crowded area after a corner was poorly dealt with by the reserves defence. Eugene Singeorzan and Shane McNally had good chances to extend the lead, while Eric Kuzmar came close to equalising for the reserves late in the game but his spectacular long-range effort came back off the crossbar.
In squad news, former State representative Gavin Tait is training with the Knights first team after spending the past year in Scotland. And experienced defender Alex Christie this week undergoes the knife to alleviate a cartilage problem.
NIGHT SERIES FINAL, FLOREAT ATHENA vs PERTH
Floreat Athena went into the 2001 Night Series final with Perth as clear favourites. Athena were yet to lose a game in the tournament in which their defence had been superb, conceding only four goals to date. Troy Bernard and Hugh Miller have been superb at the back, Costa Socratous and Doug Ithier likewise in the middle with Robyn Dyers the chief destroyer up front. Perth coach Graham Normanton was without Craig Naven, still recovering from a recent hernia operation, and captain Mark Pottier, absent with a shoulder injury, for this clash. Their defence would have to be on top of their game to hold at bay the threat of Dyers and Ryan Newhill, while going forward they would be looking to wing-backs Todd Howarth and Stephen Willey. The fire-power up-front was provided by Boni Botha and the ever-dangerous Nick Mrdja.
The crowd was still flowing in through the Litis Stadium gates when Ithier scored a spectacular goal from Athena's first attack of the game. In the 4th minute of play, Perth's midfield failed to respond when a free-kick played deep into their defensive area was cleared, Ithier moved swiftly and sent a blistering first-time shot into the top corner of Robert Scarparolo's goal from some 35-metres. The goal left Perth and they spend the next ten minutes coming to terms with being a goal down so early in the contest. Seizing on the opportunity and playing straight through the middle, Athena created several good chances to extend their lead without success. Newhill saw his header from close-range well saved by Scarparolo, and Robyn Dyers sent a similar header wide. And a great in-swinging corner from Socratous was kept out at the back post by a desperate Scarparolo as Athena asserted their authority.
Perth slowly came back into the game through some determined runs from wide on the right by Howarth and a high work-rate from 20-year old midfielder Robert Giorgi. Howarth curled a 19th minute free-kick into the area which was cleared as far as Willey who sent a cracking volley on target but John Xigas had the shot well covered. Four minutes later and from the opposite side of the park, Willey floated the ball into the dangerzone, Xigas punched it to the top of the 18-yard box where Botha and Perry Ieltai combined with the latter's fine drive deflected wide. Perth were unlucky not to score from the resulting corner, Jamie Coyne's glancing header striking Xigas on the chest and before the 'keeper could figure out what had happened Perth were lining up another corner kick.
With Howarth and Willey working overtime on the flanks, Vince Tana and Giorgi kept a tight reign on the middle of the park where they kept Athena's regular playmakers out of the game. After 25 minutes Coyne's long-range effort was hit straight to Xigas, and a few minutes later Howarth picked out Botha whose shot on the turn curled past the 'keeper and narrowly the wrong side of the up-right. All the play was going with Perth and there was little Athena could do about it. Botha was put through one-on-one with the Athena 'keeper in the 31st minute, but Xigas snuffed out the nippy strikers' chances by diving at his feet. Then Howarth sent an explosive half-volley goalbound from 14-metres which slammed into the body of a defender before being hacked to safety.
Breaking on the counter-attack, Athena's sole chances of the period came in the 35th minute after some nimble footwork by Socratous. He laid it off to George Taniakos and the midfielders searching cross was well met by Miguel Ortin at the far post, his looping header going over Scarparolo and also the crossbar. Despite being a goal up Athena still had a lot to work on in the second 40-minutes before lifting the trophy, something coach John Hunter would no doubt would have told his troops at the break.
The second half saw Perth continue to dominate. One minute after the interval the visitors won a won a free-kick on top of the area after Botha was brought down - Mrdja chipped the ball over the wall and Xigas produced the save of the night, a spectacular one-handed effort to keep the shot from going into the top corner. A few minutes later Mrdja sent a long ball between two defenders and into the path of Coyne, only for the midfielder to put his shot into the signage. And in quick succession Coyne and Tana saw their long-range efforts sail into the arms of Xigas who was showing an uncanny ability to read where Perth's shots were headed.
Athena on the other hand found Perth's backline a hard nut to crack and very few opportunities came their way as a result. A corner was partially cleared after 54 minutes which landed at the feet of Adrian Spinelli, but his low half-volley from 25-metres crashed into the body of a defender. By and large running out of ideas, Athena dropped Newhill into a deep midfield position and resorted to playing the ball long over the midfield, but more often than not they were over-hit and gave Dyers little opportunity. The home side were getting a little frustrated at their lack of penetration which saw some nastiness creep into the game. Ithier became the first player in the referees book when he brought down Giorgi, and not long after Bernard was flattened by Mrdja after the defender beat him to the ball.
Ten minutes from full-time Perth's persistence finally paid off when Mrdja scored with another fantastic long-range strike. A free-kick played in the heart of the Athena defence was headed out of the dangerzone and the Perth forward timed his volley to perfection, sending it soaring into the roof of the net from 22-metres. Suddenly Athena came to life and the remaining time saw the ball sprinted from one end of the pitch to the other as the teams tried desperately to avoid extra-time. To their credit, both defences were calm and composed despite the knowledge that one false move could result in their side losing the trophy. A minute into injury time Athena almost stole the game when Newhill charged his way between two defenders before unleashing a thunderbolt which Scarparolo amazingly tipped over the bar.
For the second week in succession, Perth went into golden-goal extra-time. Athena started the stronger of the two sides and inside the first minute Newhill's speculative shot from the top of the area spun into the arms of Scarparolo. But they ran out of legs and it wasn't long before Perth again controlled play. Howarth spotted Xigas off his line and attempted to chip the 'keeper who back-tracked quickly and conceded a corner. David Onoforo's shot grazed the wrong side of the crossbar from a tight angle, and some lovely work by Mrdja released Coyne but Xigas was again to top of his game to make the save. With the first 15-minute period rapidly coming to a close, Bernard ran the ball out of defence and slotted it to Peter Nikoloski wide on the right, his centring pass was trapped by Dyers who shot disappointingly and didn't trouble the Perth custodian.
Play swung from end to end during the second period with twenty-two players giving their all to get their side forward. It was real edge-of-the-seat stuff with Perth and Athena attacking with flair and menace. In the 96th minute Coyne put second-half substitute Andreas Oliviera clear, his low shot flew past Xigas only to be cleared off the line by Miller. The ball was immediately taken to the other end where Phillipo Esposito got on the end of Ithier's deep ball, his header just clearing the bar. It took a long run out of defence by Howarth in the 100th minute to provide the winner - the winger caught Athena's defence all at sea on the counter-attack before slipping the ball into Coyne's path on the right, and the midfielder rifled it past the advancing 'keeper from 10-metres to make it 2-1.
It took a dramatic extra-time strike from Perth to loft the first trophy of the new season, but in reality they were the only side in this game for much of the games. Athena were comprehensively out-played all over the park by a hard-working Perth outfit which showed more ingenuity in attack and deserved the Night Series title. Mrdja was without a doubt the destroyer, always causing concern in Athena's defence and bagging a screaming equaliser. Howarth, Willey and Giorgi were also influential in the win. For Athena high praise goes to Xigas who was always well positioned and pulled off a number of vital saves. Defenders Miller and Adrian Sutton also performed admirably, but the teams downfall tonight was the fact that too many key players went missing during this game.
Floreat Athena : John Xigas, Troy Bernard, Adrian Sutton, Hugh Miller, George Taniakos
(Peter Nikoloski 55), Costa Socratous (Phillipo Esposito 40), Miguel Ortin, Adrian Spinelli, Doug Ithier,
Ryan Newhill, Robyn Dyers
Perth : Robert Scarparolo, Perry Ielati, Michael Icanovski, Aaron Cole, Stephen Willey (Andreas Oliviera 68), Todd Howarth, Vince Tana, Robert Giorgi, Jamie Coyne, Boni Botha (David Onoforo 59), Nick Mrdja
Referee : Wayne Oldham
Cautions : Ithier (64), Sutton (69), Cole (72), Nikoloski (80)
Dismissals : None
Attendance : 2,000 (approx.)
ARMADALE CONVINCING IN VICTORY
Down at Armadale, the home side raced into the lead after two great goals from Dennis Lee and Bryon Bull, only for Perth City to get back on level terms through a couple of goalmouth scrambles. Jason Wilcox restored the home sides lead with a stunning 30-yard chip, then beautifully finished off a move with Lee to make in 4-2. City's response was another scrappy goal, Armadale substitute Steve Sauzier putting the result beyond doubt when he lobbed the opposing 'keeper in the dying minutes.
In a tight reserves contest, both teams missed chances in the closing minutes for the game to go into a penalty shoot-out. Scores were tied at 2-2 after 90 minutes - Steve Sauzier and Gavin Chipperfield netting for the home side - Armadale missed their sixth kick from the spot to send City through 5-4. City ran out convincing winners in the Under-18's clash, racing to a 5-0 lead by half-time with the final score being 7-2. To the their credit, Armadale's team for this clash was side made up largely of 14- and 15-year olds.
PHOENIX WIN ON DEBUT
A nervous South West Phoenix side took the field for the first time on Saturday with high hopes. Despite starting hesitantly, there were clear signs of things to come when Savo Garic drew two defenders before releasing David Suttie down the flank, his deep cross being tipped over by the 'keeper. After 18 minutes Phoenix conceded possession in the middle of the park and allowed Queens Park to run at goal unchallenged, the (unnamed) player hitting a stunning 20-metre shot which caught Braithwaite flat-footed to give the home side the lead. Five minutes later Phoenix were back on level terms when they won a free-kick inside the penalty area, Joe Comito slipping it to Garic who hammered it home. Greg Hayes then finished off a well-rehearsed move to make it 1-2 to Phoenix from the top of the area. As half-time approached, Garic hit the crossbar with a wicked shot from 20-metres, and Stephen Suttie hit the wrong side of the up-right. Minutes before the break Phoenix extended their lead when Elliot Gibson placed the ball into the path of Garic, he cleverly back-heeled it to Stephen Suttie who gave the 'keeper no chance.
Phoenix were content to soak up the pressure after the re-start and created several chances of their own without success as the game wore on. In the 70th minute strikers Stephen Suttie and Garic combined to allow Gibson to find space, the winger lobbing the advancing 'keeper to make it 1-4. Garic should have made it five minutes later when Stephen Suttie was fouled in the box, Garic's spot-kick saved by the Queens Park custodian. Substitute Andy Beadle immediately got stuck into the action, putting David Suttie through only for the midfielder to hammer the ball just wide. The home side threw all they had forward and pegged a goal back, but it wasn't enough as Phoenix ran out convincing winners. The win made it a clean sweep for the League's new-comers after both their reserves and Under-18's chalked up victories. Nicholas Trim, Sasa Kilibarda and Aldo Scasserra got the goals in the reserves 3-1 win, while in the Under-18's James Bergin, Sasa Kilibarda, Voin Garic (2) and James Turbitt netted without reply.
GOOD RESULT FOR THE WHITE EAGLES
First Division Dianella White Eagles are through to the next round of the Boral Cup after defeating Balcatta 4-1 at home. White Eagles took the lead in the 15th minute after an impressive build up and beautiful cross from Peter Kuzet set up teenager Robert Cibesku who made no mistake. Five minutes later that margin was doubled - a swift exchange between Zelko Savic and Cibesku saw the latter bag his second of the afternoon. However the home side eased off a little and allowed their opponents back into the game as Balcatta made it 2-1 through Adrian Zonato. But just a minute after Zonato's goal, Dragan Njegic struck to take his side into the break with a 3-1 lead. The second half saw the White Eagles dominate and their persistence paid off mid-way through the period when Njegic scored his second to make the final score 4-1. White Eagles reserves also progressed to the next round courtesy of a 3-1 victory, while the Under-18's were forced to forfeit their game 0-3 after being unable to field a team.
OTHER BORAL CUP RESULTS
Canning City's debut in Soccer West Coast ranks went well for the first hour against Inglewood United at Willetton Sports Club. With an average age of just 20, City's youthful 1st Division squad had conceded once - Daniel Harrop on target after 21 minutes - before the floodgates opened. Harrop ran riot to net in the 60th, 64th and 83rd minutes with Phillip Smiljanic and Lee Crosby completing the route. Despite the result, the club was positive post-match about their abilities. The club went professional this year to provide an avenue for the 450 junior players on their books club to continue at the highest level possible in W.A. Senior coach Harry Long, who has played and coached in the state's top flight, believes a top five finish is not out of the question in their first season in the First Division.
Cockburn City progressed to the next round after brushing aside recently relegated Ashfield at Ashfield Reserve. In a hard-fought game dominated by the respective midfields, City took the lead after 35 minutes when Dean Gartside found the back of the net. And five minutes later Mileta Miletic doubled the margin. The second half saw the midfield battle for supremacy continue, with chances going begging at both ends of the park.
In the Stirling derby, Keegan Ashley's goal for the Lions was countered by strikes by Rob Milevski and Zoran Talimzioski as the Suns ran out 2-1 winners. Bassendean Caledonian bagged five against Swan I.C. to run out triumphant - Jason Van Rooy snaring a hat-trick with Gary James chiming in with a double, while off-season signing Ilia Manolev scored for the home side. The Leeming Strikers crashed 0-4 at home to Rockingham City, Kingsway Olympic downed the Bayswater City Panthers 3-1, and Wanneroo City lost 2-1 to Morley Windmills.
ITHIER WANTS ANOTHER BITE
One-time Perth Glory player Doug Ithier is hoping that success in tomorrow's Night Series final could help revive his career which has stalled since leaving the NSL club. The tough-as-nails 26-year old will be the key player in Floreat Athena's midfield against old rival Perth, but he's also wanting to catch the eye of scouts in a bid to get a second chance at the big time. On Monday Ithier is off to Medan in Indonesia where he will to play for a week for Haramau Tapanuli in an invitational tournament.
The versatile Ithier, who can play in defence, midfield or attack, acknowledges his career has got away from him since being a member of Glory's original squad five seasons ago. He left midway through the 1997/98 season and has since skipped from Malaysia to England, Singapore, Indonesia and back to Perth acting as a Mr Fixit for several clubs. "I was a bit immature when I started with the Glory, but I'm a different player now and I'd love to get another crack at the NSL," said Ithier on the eve of the Night Series final. He trialled with England's Blackburn Rovers a few years ago but was denied the opportunity to take it further. "I trained with them for a month and they made an offer but I couldn't get a work permit," he said. Ithier also tasted success in the Malaysian League with Sarawak where he was club captain, but that too came to a crashing halt when the League banned foreign players.
GLORY FOR FREMANTLE
Reigning Premier League champions Fremantle City staged a remarkable second half fightback against NSL glamour side Perth Glory to win Friday night's friendly 3-2 at Fremantle Oval. Just half an hour before kick-off City coach Stuart Kamasz was forced to re-shuffle his deck when key players Trim Morgan and Dave Evans pulled up with niggling injuries, this coming on top of the absence to State representatives Alan Dunlop and Kevin Correia and promising midfielder Daniel Trim. Their opponents were also well below par, regulars Scott Miller, Bobby Despotovski, Gary Faria, Shane Pryce, Gareth Naven, Jamie Harnwell and Edgar all rested to give the clubs fringe players some much-needed match practice.
Witness by a healthy crowd of around 4,000, it was the visiting side that started brightest with Socceroo striker Damian Mori and recent-signing from Perth Nick Mrdja both hitting the up-right inside the opening two minutes. And pre-match signs that Glory would prove too strong for City looked like being spot-on when Mrdja gave the side the lead after 6 minutes. Picking up a through ball on the left, Mrdja kept his cool in holding off a challenge before slotting it past Sam Tomea from close range. Glory continued to find holes in the City backline and in the following minutes Brad Maloney then Kasey Wehrman sent long-range efforts over the bar.
For their part the port side relied heavily on the quick counter-attack, only to be met by a steely Glory defence who comfortably had matters under control. Vladimir Beretovac was causing problems for Todd Harnwell wide on the left, and in the 15th minute a clumsy Harnwell tackle saw referee Angelo Nardi award a penalty. One-time Glory player Dale Wingell took the spot-kick only to see his feeble attempt beaten away by Tomislav Tomich. City were beginning to create chances of their own but found space limited in attack. Their best chance of the half came a few minutes after the penalty, midfielder Michael Mirco bringing out a fine save from Tomich with a good shot on the turn from just inside the area.
With 20 minutes gone, Harnwell doubled Glory's lead as the NSL side looked destined for an easy victory. Wehrman knocked it wide to Alistair Edwards and he took off down the left before sending a quality to the former-Sorrento youngster who turned neatly then thumped the ball past Tomea for his first goal in Glory colours. City were under siege for long periods at the back and to their credit fought hard to hold their opponents at bay for the rest of the half through a combination of desperate defending, good fortune and brilliant goalkeeping. Maloney came closest to further extending the margin in the 35th minute, drifting in behind the defence to meet a cross from Vinko Buljubasic at the far past only to see his shot deflected for a corner.
Five minutes after the re-start Edwards should have out the game out if City's reach when he was put clear by Mrdja, but the former-Socceroo pushed his initial shot weakly against the 'keeper then blasted the rebound wide. Shortly after Glory suffered a severe body blow when coach Bernd Stange made some bewildering positional changes to his line-up. Mrdja was replaced by midfielder Antonio Naglieri, Maloney and Edwards partnered eachother in attack while the NSL's all-time leading scorer Mori adopted a role wide on the left.
Fired up by Kamasz's half-time talk, and with their opponents all at sea with a radically revised formation, City took the game right up to their more faniced opponents for much of the second period. The home side grew in confidence and stature as the half progressed with Paul McVittie an inspiration in the middle of the park. In the 57th minute the one-time Glory midfielder pulled a goal back by sending a sent a fine header from the edge of the area through a crowd of players and beyond the reach of the young Glory custodian.
Not long after Wehrman had a chance to re-store his sides two goal buffer but blasted his free kick over the bar. City midfielder Will Pryce then showed the Socceroo how it's done with the goal of the night in the 70th minute. After taking his time to line-up his shot, Pryce struck a perfectly executed free-kick from 20-metres over the Glory wall, beyond the grasp of substitute 'keeper Jeff Cargill and into the top left corner of the goal. The free-kick drew rapturous applause for the until-recently Newcastle United youth player who was hoping to catch the eye of Glory coaching staff with his move to the west.
Both sides were now tiring noticeably and some sloppy tackling crept into the game as a result. Dean Wallace took down Harnwell with a ferocious tackle, but referee Nardi signalled play on without hesitancy when a yellow card was the least that should have been brandished. Glory picked up the pace for the final ten minutes to have their opponents continually holed up in defence, but the NSL side were unable to find the goal they were after. City sensed an upset in the offering and continually sped the ball out of defence Glory's forward thrusts amounted to nothing. In the 85th minute Ljubo Milicevic and Wingell wrestled for possession inside the heart of Glory's defence when the former was judged to have fouled his opponent. Wingell again stepped up to take the penalty and this time made no mistake from the spot to give City a 3-2 lead. Glory continued to press - only now for an equaliser - and their night was caped off by being reduced to ten men when PJ Roberts was dismissed for foul and abusive language in the 89th minute.
The 3-2 victory perhaps flattered City, but it sent a loud and clear message to their Premier League rivals, that their disappointing Night Series campaign was nothing more than a case of pre-season jitters. City showed tremendous character to come back from a two goal deficit with McVittie and Pryce turning in outstanding performances in the second half. Mention must also be made of 20-year old goalkeeper Tomea who was superb between the posts in the first half and prevented Glory from racing to a cricket score early on. The turning point tonight came when Stange replaced Mrdja, who was a constant threat to the City backline, and Glory failed to find their rhythm after that point. Wehrman worked hard in the middle to keep things turning over, and Buljubasic showed he is over the string of injuries that have sidelined him since November 1998.
Post-match, City coach Kamasz was over the moon with the outcome. "Obviously we're pleased with the result," he said. "We had a makeshift back four, Dave Evans pulled out of the side during the warm-up as did Trim Morgan. We had to re-arrange things at the last minute - we pulled young Tyrone Fenwick out of the crowd to fill the bench - so we were all over the place and let two quick goals in. But we had some great chances too and should have been on the scoresheet in the first half. Paul McVittie was having his first start, as was Dulio Xavier and John Mirco, so I though we would have run out of legs but the lads amazed me with their effort. So to give Glory a two goal start and still win the game was a great effort."
Fremantle City : Sam Tomea (Darren Williams 46), Cesare De Bartolo, Craig Surtees, Vladimir Beretovac
(Dulio Xavier 37), Michael Mirco (Johnny Ferriera 61), Paul McVittie, Will Pryce, Anthony Perriera
(Cisco Jorqueirez 61), Dale Wingell, Dean Wallace, and Joseph Liguan (John Mirco 46)
Perth Glory : Tomislav Tomich (Jeff Cargill 75), Ljubo Milicevic, Vinko Buljubasic, Craig Deans, Todd Harnwell, Alistair Edwards, PJ Roberts, Brad Maloney, Kasey Wehrman, Nick Mrdja (Antonio Naglieri 55), Damian Mori
Referee : Angelo Nardi
Cautions : (Unknown)
Dismissals : Roberts (89)
Attendance : 4,000 (approx.)
For an alternate view of this game, follow the link for two more reports on the Fremantle-Glory friendly.
FIRST TROPHY OF THE SEASON TO BE DECIDED
The 2001 Night Series final is played on Sunday night with Floreat Athena and Perth squaring off in what is being billed as a clash of the titans. The kick-off time has been brought forward by half-an-hour to at 6.45pm to cover the possibility of the decider going into extra-time and/or penalties.
Floreat Athena are undefeated after five Night Series games, banging in 13 goals while John Xigas has conceded just four down the other end. A big part of their success has been the midfield combination of Doug Ithier, Adrian Spinelli and Costa Socratous who have been in sparkling form to date. Perth would also be wise not to underestimate the match-turning abilities of Robyn Dyers and Ryan Newhill who shared the goals when Athena defeated them 3-1 in the group stage of the competition. Coach John Hunter will be hoping that State sweeper Troy Bernard is back to full fitness for the game as without him Athena are an entirely different kettle of fish.
Even though Perth have a very talented squad, they are widely considered lucky to have made it this far after a golden-goal extra-time win over Cockburn City in the semi-finals. That game left coach Graham Normanton with plenty of injury worries, of most concern will be the loss of strong midfielder Mark Pottier who fell awkwardly against City and was rushed to hospital with a dislocated shoulder. “They popped his shoulder back into place in the hospital, but the doctor told him he must rest for two weeks,” Normanton said during the week. In doubt is wing-back Vince Tana who is suffering from calf and hamstring problems, Jamie Coyne hobbled out of the semi-final with a badly bruised thigh, and defenders Aaron Cole and Perry Ielati each have groin strains. Wide players Todd Howarth and Steven Willey will be important on Sunday for Perth, while up-front Normanton will be relying on something special from David Onoforo.
IN CONVERSATION WITH DAVID TARKA
Not quite a West Aussies Abroad - more one interstate - David Tarka has gone on to greater heights since making his debut for the Cockburn City first team as a 16-year old. Having taken up a scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport in January 2000, Tarak is well into his second year in Canberra and was recently appointed captain of the A.I.S. side that competes in the Northern Division of the National Youth League. This week we caught up with the now 18-year old to get an insight into his world ...
Could you give us a bit of a run-down on your career as a junior?
I began playing at Spearwood Dalmatinac - now Cockburn City - at the age of seven and moved to Fremantle United when I was in the Under-14's where I spent the rest of my junior career. During this time I played State Under-13's and 15's, but I had to withdraw from the Under-15's national championships a week before the event due to an injury. At 16 I re-joined Cockburn City where I played one game in the reserves, then for the rest of the 1999 season was under Gerry Christie in the first team where I played as a left winger. During that season I made the Australian Under-20's Schoolboys team after competing in the national schoolboy championships in Canberra that August. I chose not to play for the state Under-16's team as I thought Schoolboys would be a greater challenge and could offer better exposure.
And that lead to a place in the Australian touring side at the end of the ... where did you travel to and how was the tour?
We travelled to England, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Wales, playing 10 games along the way against their national schoolboys sides. We also played a mixed Manchester United Under-17's and 19's drawing 3-3 and we beat Fulham Under-19's 3-1. Out of the ten games we won 5, drew 4, and lost just 1.
What was that experience like?
The experience was excellent as I could rate myself as to where I stood, as a player on an international level. I think the youth of Australia are better developed than the youth of U.K. but as we get older we don't have the senior leagues to further our development therefore we see a lot of the youth leaving Australia in search for the greater competition.
After the tour you were asked to try out for the AIS. How did that come about?
The A.I.S. were after a left-sided player, and the 2000 intake were those born in 1983. I was the only '83 in the Australian Schoolboys team, they where interested and invited me for a trial in January 2000. After going through a series of testing 20-metre sprints, shuttle runs and vertical jumps, I'd done enough to impress and coach Steve O'Connor awarded me a scholarship.
Was there any hesitation in your mind about leaving your family in Perth to set up camp on the other side of the country to pursue your footballing dream?
As soon as I was told that I received a scholarship at the A.I.S. the coach told me my flight was booked for the morning after. So I didn't have time for it to settle in - that I was moving away from family and home realising that it was for good. It happened so quickly and I had to adjust, but if you want to further your footballing career you must learn to get out of your comfort zones on and off the park. It makes you mentally stronger and a better player.
Give us a typical day in the life of someone in the football program at the A.I.S.? My Tuesday starts with weights from 6.30-7.30am, then it's an individual session with the coach between 10.00 and 11.00am. Off to work from 11.00-2.00pm, then back to train with team between 4.30-6.30pm. I have the evenings off - last year I had study hall from 7.30-9.30pm because I was at school, but now I don't go to school.
Where do you live in Canberra?
I live in residence on site with all the other athletes. We have a room each with a sink and fridge, there's a bathroom between shared between three players - it's alright - I pick up a lot of life skills having to do things myself.
Are you the only boy from Perth there?
I was the only Perth boy here all last year until Anthony Danze from Perth Glory received a scholarship a couple of weeks ago, which is good to have someone to talk to about home.
What do you do at the A.I.S. ... are you required to attend school as well as concentrate on football?
I finished year twelve last year, which was a lot harder juggling school and football but now I work 15-hours a week at the Australian Sports Commission in Publications. It's good to get a bit of spending money, not having to keep scabbing of my parents!! I also have much more free time to spend in the indoor and gym working on things.
How often do you train? What is the weekly routine, on what days do you train and play?
We train every afternoon and have weights on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. We play on the weekend in the National Youth League which is a good competition because you're allowed four over-age players in the squad, so when we play teams like Marconi, Olympic, Spirit and Parramatta - teams with big first grade squads - there's always first graders playing who missed out on the weekend. This is good for experience and prepares you for the N.S.L.
What's the overall set-up like?
The set-up is first class. The soccer program has an indoor synthetic, an outdoor synthetic, four outdoor playing fields and shooting boxes. We have also have access to all the facilities at the A.I.S. including the swimming pool, gym, spa, doctors, physios, masseurs, etc.
I believe you were originally offered a one-year deal at the AIS and recently that was extended to a second year. From your point of view, how did your first 12 months in Canberra go?
The first 12 months for me was a huge learning phase. Coming from the W.A. State League, where it's really about strength and fitness which is good whilst your young but it's a bit like "kick the young one", here we're are taught how to play at international level, it's all about the process. We constantly practice different scenarios in tight situations, always keeping possession. We are taught that if you can keep possession in tight situations and, never loose possession then you can play anywhere in the world. When I watch Ljubo Milicevic and Ivan Ergic I see them playing one two's, setting play up and I know they learnt it here. So you know that is doesn't change as you get higher up the scale.
Were you always hopeful of being offered to stay on for another year?
Yes, I was hoping to be offered another scholarship. Now I am familiar with how the coach wants me to play, and this year is about being consistent and making the most of the facilities. Every spare half an hour I get I want to be in the indoor working on things.
You are now the captain of the side from what I hear. How is this season going? How are the team performing? And what about yourself, how is your game coming along?
I was recently awarded the captaincy, which is excellent for me to develop leadership skills. This year there are six Joeys in the side whereas last year we only had five, so the older guys have got the responsibility of bringing the Joeys on quickly. I try but I must always remember what it was like for me when I first came in. The side is coming along well, we are currently 10 points clear on top of the table but Marconi have two games in hand, but that doesn't really concern us. We are about playing our own game, we never worry about who we are playing or who we are marking. If we play our game and do our jobs right and concentrating on the processes then we will win the game. My game is coming along well, I am happy with the way I have developed over the last 12 months and looking forward to becoming more consistent. I want a coach and teammates to know that I'll always give 100%, and that the minimum performance I would have in a game would be a good one ... and hopefully ripping out blinders every now and then!
What have been the highlights during your time at the A.I.S. to date?
The highlight so far was our trip to Italy. Last April we competed in a world club championship at Under-17's, but also allowing two over-age players. Our group consisted of Lazio, River Plate and Hit Nova, a Slovenian side. Other teams involved were Coventry, Inter, AC Milan and many others. We finished on top of our group beating Lazio 1-0, drawing with River Plate 0-0, and beating Hit Nova 5-0. We lost to Udinese in the quarter final 4-1, which we were very unlucky and wasn't as true reflection of the game. The football was excellent, it was another experience and the more experience I get can only make me better.
You've now been at the A.I.S. for just over 12 months, what do you feel are the benefits of being part of that program? And how does this differ from what you were experiencing in Perth?
The benefits are huge. I've learnt life skills, we've been taught professionalism, and what is expected of you at international level. The facilities are first class and the coaching is world class as you can judge by the amount of the Olympic squad that came through the institute - 75% of the players had scholarships here. W.A. needs to nurture their youth, linking with the A.I.S. Every state besides W.A. have acadamy's or institutes with soccer programs - W.A.I.S. needs one.
And where do you see yourself heading once you've completed your scholarship? Any plans to try your luck overseas, or are you looking to establish yourself in the NSL first?
I'm undecided whether to stay in Australia for a season or two before heading overseas, I think it's probably a better idea, but I haven't made up my mind.
Have you had any offers to date, either locally or from overseas?
I've had no offers as yet, but interest has been shown.
What about plans to play for Australia again one day?
Absolutely, that is my goal. I would love to represent my country, I am concentrating on being prepared for the next Under-20's World Cup in 2003.
Thanks for your time David, all the best with the A.I.S. side taking out the N.S.L. youth title. The job's half way there, hopefully you guys can go on with it with you at the helm ...
I hope so, that's the aim at the moment obviously ... and thanks for your interest, it's greatly appreciated.
FREMANTLE READY FOR GLORY
Stuart Kamasz, coach of reigning Premier League champions Fremantle City, has a few injury concerns ahead of this week’s friendly fixture with local NSL outfit Perth Glory. Versatile youngster Daniel Trim will most likely miss the game with a niggling complaint, State captain Trim Morgan has a bruised ankle, while first choice goalkeeper Alan Dunlop looks like being sidelined for up to a month with a knee ligament problem. On the plus side, former Glory midfielder Paul McVittie will make his first appearance for the port side this season, while Will Pryce will make his return from injury.
“I might also give some of our young players a run against Glory,” Kamasz said this week. “It should be a good opportunity for the youngsters to show what they can do, if we can settle quickly and not get unnerved by the big crowd we should do okay. I’m sure our players will lift for the game, but there could be a fitness problem late in the game. Glory are nearing the end of their season while we have only just started ours, so we could see a bit of a discrepancy there. But I’m confident we can put up a good showing though and all the lads are raring to go.”
The loss of Dunlop is one City could have done without, coming so close to the start of the Premier League season. But the club have moved quickly and secured the services of former Western Knights custodian Darren Williams to add to the goalkeeping stocks. “We’ve got Michael Cross from Swan I.C. on the books, he was the State Under-16 ‘keeper last year, and young Sam Tomea is coming along well, but we just wanted someone with a bit of experience in there as cover. We’ve been chasing Williams for some time and he agreed to a two-year contract last night,” Kamasz said on Tuesday.
The game between City and Glory kicks-off at 7.00pm at Fremantle Oval. Entry is free, although a gold coin donation would be appreciated to help out with City’s youth development program.
WE NEED TO KILL TEAMS OFF SAYS MORGAN
Sorrento coach Trevor Morgan is still smarting from the way his side bowed out of the pre-season Night Series competition. The Gulls young side played well throughout the tournament but their downfall was an inability to make the most of their chances in front of goal. “I feel we under-achieved,” Morgan said. “We created enough chances during our four games to have made the semi-finals but our inability to finish off teams when we had them under pressure was very frustrating. We defended not to badly, although we were punished every time we became sloppy … it was a pity that our forwards couldn’t do the same to other teams. We need to be more professional and kill teams off when we have the chance, and when we can do that we will be a hard side to beat.”
The club are never ones to go on major spending sprees over the summer months, and this year was no different. The only new-comers to Morgan’s first team squad for 2001 are former-Perth Glory midfielder Michael Garcia and promising youngster Gary Andrews, and both have already made an impression at Sorrento. “Michael Garcia has fitted in well, he has a great first touch and can bring other people into the game,” Morgan said during the week. “We’re not quite sure of his best position, either up front or in midfield, but he is a good team player and just needs to be a bit more selfish around the goal. We’ve been playing Gary Andrews at left back in a back-four and he is taking time to adjust. He was out-standing against Sarawak but hasn’t performed to that standard in our previous games and needs to do a bit more for the team and himself.”
Despite dipping out of the Night Series in the qualification stage, Morgan is confident his side have all the makings to be there at the business end of the Premier League season. “Without any disrespect to the other coaches and players, I know when we are on our game we are capable of beating any of the other teams in the League,” Morgan said, adding that there are also many potential pitfalls lying in wait this winter. “With the League cut to ten teams it will be very competitive and a run of three or four games without a win could see you drop out of the running. We want to win every game we play, if we can get our injured players back to full fitness for the start of the season and find someone to score us 20 goals a year then the players can achieve whatever they want.”
NORMANTON MUST PAY TO PLAY
Perth coach Graham Normanton has been told to cough up $100.00 to watch his side play-off for the Night Series trophy on Sunday night or face being refused entry to Litis Stadium. Normanton’s fine came about after he was dismissed from the coaching bench during the semi-final clash with Cockburn City last week for abusing match officials. “I admit I did give the officials a bit of verbal, but I wasn’t happy with what was going on and I let them know,” the coach said this week. “But I suppose I will have to get out the cheque book. There’s no way around it.”
MCVITTIE TO LEAD FREMANTLE
One-time Perth Glory player Paul McVittie has been named captain of Fremantle City ahead of Friday nights friendly clash with his former club. But if the midfielder could have things his own way, he’d probably rather be pulling on Glory’s new-look blue friendly strip that will be worn for the first time. “To tell the truth, it would be great to be still part of the Glory,” said 35-year old McVittie. “Glory really came five years too late for me. I enjoyed my two seasons, but it would have been great had it happened earlier when I was younger. I'd love to have continued, but at my age I was reluctant to give up my job to go full-time.”
Glory captain Gareth Naven has said he would not expect anything less than 100% from his former teammate. “Macker is Macker - you always know what to expect from him and this won't be any different,” said Naven, who has captained the N.S.L. side from day one and hopes to have at least one more season with the club. “We know this won't be just a trot in the park,” he said of the friendly. “They'll be keen to do well - I know I would be, in their shoes. It will be a good chance for some of our players to get 90 minutes under their belts.”
18 POSSIBLE COACHES
The local controlling body, Soccer West Coast, have received 18 applicants for the position of State Under-19 coach which closed on Tuesday. The successful applicant, who is expected to be named next week, will take the W.A. team to France late in May for the prestigious Tournoi de Crox. SWC have so far been unsuccessful in finding sponsorship for the trip, including via new Sports Minister Alan Carpenter. “We’d hope to get some backing for we’ll be flying the W.A. flag in an international event, but it’s been tough to crack a meeting with the Minister,” president David Schrandt said mid-week.
In other S.W.C. news, the body are said to be unhappy about the timing of Friday’s friendly between Fremantle City and Perth Glory. Although they have given the match the go-ahead, SWC have expressed concerns that it will take the spotlight off what promises to be a big weekend of local action with the opening round of the Boral Cup taking place on Saturday and the Night Series final on Sunday. Floreat Athena's involvement in the latter has meant it’s away Cup tie with Southside United has been postponed to a later, as yet unspecified, date.
LIONS SET FOR BIG SEASON
Ambitious First Division club Stirling Lions have signed former State defender Andy Wright for the up-coming winter. Wright, twice the W.A. Player of the Year, will make his debut for the club in the opening round of the Boral Cup on Saturday when the Lions take on Stirling Suns at Macedonia Park. Lions president Don Evans said that his club would be pushing hard in 2001 to win promotion to the state’s top flight which it dominated during the early 1990’s. "We've got a lot of new sponsorship, a new coach in Wayne Thorpe and there's an optimistic feeling in the club," Evans said.
ACADEMIES LEAGUE A WINNER
Former Perth Glory coach Gary Marocchi has hailed the introduction of the Academies League as one of the best initiatives in W.A. junior soccer. The league kicked off last week with the six junior soccer academies in the metropolitan region Perth, ECU Joondalup, Fremantle, Sorrento, Armadale and Forrestfield - fielding elite teams in five age groups from 11’s through to 15’s. “It's a big step in the right direction,” said Marocchi, who is now in charge of the Perth Soccer Academy. “It's a great thing for the kids, who are the future soccer talent of W.A. The better kids will get more and better coaching through these academies and the chance to play in this elite league is a bonus. I hope a lot of people come and support it.”
The academy with most points from the five age groups at the end of the 10 week competition will win the championship. Bill Oddy, the president of the Junior Soccer Association, said the body hoped to be able to expand the program in the future. “The league is designed to prove competition options for the growing number of junior soccer academies focusing on the development of talented junior players in W.A.,” he said.
MILLER MAKES SOCCEROOS
Homegrown Perth Glory wing-back Scott Miller has been named in Frank Farina’s Australian squad that will compete in the first stage of the Oceania World Cup qualifiers in Coffs Harbour next mont. The former Spearwood Dalmatinac star made his international debut last month at the age of 28 when he came on as a late substitute against Colombia. “I was very surprised the last time and equally surprised this time, so it’s nice to be given the opportunity to play for the country again,” he said when told of his inclusion.
Miller is one of 12 NSL players in the 20-man squad that will play Tonga, American Samoa, Fiji and Samoa starting 9th April. It is believed that another local product, Glory striker Bobby Despotovski is on stand-by for the qualifiers. Despotovski played for Floreat Athena in the W.A. Premier League during the early 1990’s where he took out the competition’s Leading Goalscorer trophy on three occasions.
PETTERSON TO RETURN?
With speculation rife that Jason Petkovic could be about to join Energie Cottbus in Germany, Fremantle-born Andy Petterson has been suggested as his possible replacement at Perth Glory. 31-year old Petterson was approached two years ago by Glory but rejected an offer to play for the NSL club, saying he still had a few more seasons left in England. But he might now be tempted to return to Perth, where he played with East Fremantle Tricolore as a teenager. In 12 years in England, Petterson has turned out for Luton Town, Ipswich Town, Charlton Athletic, Bradford City, Plymouth Argyle, Colchester United and Portsmouth. He joined the latter in late 1998, but has not made an appearance in the side since the tail end of the 1999/2000 season. Just last week Petterson went on a month's loan to 3rd Division Torquay United.
SARPE TRIALS WITH SAINTS
English Premier league club Southampton are running the rule over another young West Australian who could become the latest addition to their academy sides. Andre Sarpe, a 16-year-old striker from ECU Joondalup is currently on trial with the Saints. If successful, Sarpe will become the third player from Perth to join the club in the past 12-months, following in the footsteps of Darren Broxton (Under-17’s) and Adrian Caceras (Under-19’s and reserves).
PETKOVIC ON THE MOVE?
Perth Glory goalkeeper Jason Petkovic has left for Germany where he will be involved in talks and medical and fitness tests with First Division club Energie Cottbus. The Bundesliga side have been keeping tabs on the 28-yar old’s form in the NSL over recent weeks and want to offer him terms before another German club Second Division side Borussia Moenchengladbach - steps in with a deal. Moenchengladbach has also had scouts watching Petkovic, as has top Croatian team Dinamo Zagreb. The transfer deadline has passed in Germany so, if a deal is struck, Petkovic will finish this season with Glory and join Cottbus in June or July before the start of the 2001-2002 German season. “I understand someone from the German club saw Jason in one of our away games and they wrote to us asking if he could be released,” Glory general manager said on Sunday.
It has long been the Spearwood-born keeper's dream to break into European soccer. He nearly joined - Scottish champion Glasgow Rangers a few years ago but his club at the time, Adelaide City, priced him out of the market when it put a $2 million transfer fee on his head. He had trials in England with Southampton and in Norway with Rosenborg before deciding to join Glory in November 1999. Petkovic made 145 appearances between the posts for Adelaide City, before joining Glory where he’s played 52 consecutive matches for the side. He has also been called up for the national team on 11 occasions.
COCKBURN CITY vs PERTH, NIGHT SERIES SEMI-FINAL
On Sunday night, Perth and Cockburn City played off for the right to meet Floreat Athena in next weekend’s Night Series final. Perth’s defence had not been the best in the qualifying rounds, but that was about to change if Aaron Cole had his way, the defender wanting to put the disappointments of the past week behind him and with a point to prove to the management of Perth Glory. During the week Perth coach Graham Normanton acknowledged that 21-year old Branimir Mikulic, a player he tried to sign over the summer, would pose the biggest threat to his side. His opposite number at City, Laslo Koroknai, was confident that his young troops had what it would take to defeat their more fancied opponents, and big things were expected from speedy midfielders Christian Alvarez and Paul Cooke.
Pre-match expectations of an entertaining game drew in the largest crowd of the competition to date with in excess of 400 through the gates by the time kick-off arrived. Perth were the quicker out of the stalls with some delicate flicks and neat passes from Boni Botha and Andreas Oliviera catching out the City defence, only for the forwards to find themselves consistently out-numbered by a wall of defenders. Their opponents may have been the slower to settle but the best chances of the opening 20 minutes came the way of City. After 12 minutes a deep cross from the left by Cooke saw Mikulic rise above Cole, only to find Robert Scarparolo well-positioned to make the save on the line. And on the quarter-hour mark Mikulic collected an Alvarez throw-in, skillfully turned his marker and sent a left-footer into the 6-yard box where Dean Gartside’s header bounced into the arms of the Perth ‘keeper.
City were relying heavily on a well-rehearsed off-side trap which caught out their opponents time and time again. But Perth still managed to create chances of their own with some enterprising play. Andreas Oliveira connected with a marvellous curling Todd Howarth free-kick in the 20th minute, but his diving header flew wide of the target. Two minutes later Perry Ielati dashed half the length of the pitch and played a sweet one-two with Boni Botha to open up the defence only for Dino Pacella to save the low shot.
For their part, Gary Numan and Mikulic were pressing hard for the ball in attack, giving the Perth backline no time to think on the ball and forcing them to play it early. Mikulic in particular was making life for Cole uncomfortable, and on several occasions the tall striker broke free of his marker only to find Ielati primed for action. With 24 minutes gone, Alvarez floated the ball high over the heads of the Perth backline from wide on the right, and Numan’s thumping header crashed into the side netting as City began to show real signs of causing an upset.
With the tide stemming City’s way, Oliviera punctuated their flow when he sent Mark Pottier through on goal. But the midfielder was bundled over by Steve Adam as he was about to shoot and referee Derek Minett waved away all appeals for a penalty. City continued to string together some elegant passages to turn defence into attack with a minimum of fuss. In the 33rd minute Alvarez sent the ball into the signage from the top of the area after being freed by Numan. And two minutes from the break Numan showed great pace and control when he broke on the counter-attack to almost open the scoring. The youngster latched onto a well cleared Perth corner and sped the ball into attack, going past Michael Icanovski on top of the area before unleashing a thunderbolt which grazed the far post.
With some good chances coming at both ends of the pitch, City were ahead on points at the break, and could have found themselves 3-0 up if Mikulic, Gartside and Numan had luck on their side. In the centre of the park Antonio Naglieri and Gartside prevented Perth from playing their usual free-flowing game, which saw Normanton make a couple of changes to get his side back in the game. Nick Mrdja took Oliviera’s place in attack, while David Onoforo replaced Pottier who was forced out of the game through a shoulder injury. We also saw a rare change of referee, Minett having pulled a hamstring just before the interval and his place was taken by Jeremy Oliphant for the second half.
City picked up after the re-start where they’d left off. Spotting Scarparolo well off his line, Naglieri sent a well-weighted chip from some 35-metres over the ‘keepers head which dropped the wrong side of the crossbar. Five minutes later Alvarez’s cross from the right was not sufficiently dealt with and Naglieri was allowed to rifle off a shot on the turn from close range which whizzed just over the bar. The pressure on Perth’s backline was unrelenting over this period and it was more through good fortune that anything else that City failed to find the net.
Some tricky footwork by Onoforo in the 49th minute saw Perth have the best chance of the game so far. Coming completely against the run of play, Onoforo’s low cross to the top of the box found Jamie Coyne in space but he sent his strong shot directly to Pacella. With their backs to the wall, Perth suffered a blow when Normanton was expelled from the bench by the referee in the 51st minute - the coach protesting a little too loudly at a sloppy tackle by Gartside on Vince Tana which earnt the City midfielder a yellow card. And it looked as though bad turned to worse when Cole blatantly handled the ball when bringing under control a bouncing ball at the back which should have resulted in a City penalty. Referee Oliphant lifted the whistle to his mouth amidst calls for a spot-kick, but for some reason opted not to blow it.
Digging deep, Perth clawed their way back into the game following the introduction of Steve Willey, with Onoforo taking up an out-and-out strikers role. A clever flick by Coyne over the advancing defence saw Mrdja take control, but before he had time to rattle off a shot Cooke had hoofed the ball to safety. With eleven minutes remaining, Perth finally got the breakthrough they were after. Cole’s header from a corner was cleared off the line by Cooke, the ball went as far as Howarth who knocked it back into the dangerzone and Cole this time got the angle right to give Perth the lead and set up a tense final ten minutes.
With Henderson and Naglieri steering play back in City’s favour, they won a free-kick just outside the area wide on the right after 73 minutes. Lobbed to the near post, a mad scramble for possession ensued, Henderson’s close-range shot was blocked on the line and Cooke emerged from the log-jam celebrating the equaliser. Again play swung the other way, Perth flexing their muscle for the remaining minutes as City focused on getting as many players behind the ball as possible, and Mrdja and Onoforo were quickly surrounded by defenders every time the ball came anywhere near them. A minute into injury time, Willey chested down a searching cross-field ball from Howarth to go past Adam, the defender did well to recover and pressured the wing-back into putting his shot over the bar from 11-metres.
Into sudden-death extra-time we went for the first time this season. Perth wasted no time and within a minute Coyne found Onoforo inside the 18-yard box, but Boza Erakovic cleared to safety as the striker set his sights on goal. A minute later Pacella raced off his line to reach the ball before Mrdja who, with the help of Howarth, had out-manoeuvred the off-side trap. In the 83rd minute Perth would have wrapped up the game if not for an appauling refereeing decision. Mrdja waltzed past four defenders to go one-on-one with the City ‘keeper, only for Jeremy Oliphant to call the striker back and award Perth a free-kick on top of the box for a minor infringement. With the whistle not coming until Mrdja had rounded the last defender, there was not reason not to play the advantage.
Eight minutes into the period, Howarth’s deep cross cleared the defence, and fell to Giorgi who controlled but was unable to get in a shot before Adam conceded a corner. It wasn’t until the 90th minute that City crossed the halfway line and won a corner. Naglieri played it to the near post where Peter Petkovich sent a glancing header goalward, and Scarparolo showed great reflexes to finger-tipped the ball over the bar. City controlled the remaining minutes but were unable to do a lot with the ball once inside the 18-yard box.
The second period of extra-time was a scrappy affair with few goal scoring opportunities of note early on. Having already used their four out-field substitutes, Perth were forced to change goalkeepers when Coyne came down with an thigh injury, Scarparolo partnered Mrdja in attack while Gianni Papalia took his place between the posts. In a nail-biting finish, Dino Djulbic beat Pacella to a high ball played into the 6-yard box but saw his strong header go narrowly wide in the 107th minute. With the ball raced to the other end, Naglieri swung it into the dangerzone from the top corner of the area and picked out Petkovich who took one touch too many and saw his shot from close range blocked.
Just as the game looked destined for a penalty shoot-out, Perth found the strength for a final minute winner courtesy of Mrdja. Djulbic threaded the ball to Willey who was just inside the area, and with time and space to spare, saw his explosive shot parried by Pacella. Wasting not time, Mrdja pounced and rammed the rebound over the line to sent Perth through to next weekend’s decider. It was a cruel way for City to dip out of the tournament, but then again a penalty shoot-out is no way to decide any game. Perth mobbed the goal scorer as he huddled in the back of the net while their opponents trudged from the pitch devastated, knowing they has done enough to win the game only for luck not to be on their side. Naglieri was without a doubt the stand-out player tonight, he didn’t stop running and showed just why there has been so much interest in him over the past few months. Perth didn’t come to live until the second half with the introduction of Mrdja and Onoforo, while the return of Willey from injury must be a blessing in disguise for the coach.
Cockburn City : Dino Pacella, Craig Anderson (Joshua Pescud 91), Dusan
Macura, Steve Adam, Boza Erakovic, Paul Cooke, Christian Alvarez (Peter
Petkovich 55), Antonio Naglieri, Dean Gartside, Gary Numan (Simon Henderson
65), Branimir Mikulic
Perth : Robert Scarparolo, Perry Ielati, Michael Icanovski, Aaron Cole, Vince Tana (Dino Djulbic 70), Todd Howarth, Robert Giorgi, Jamie Coyne (Gianni Papalia 103), Mark Pottier (David Onoforo 40), Boni Botha (Steven Willey 61), Andreas Oliviera (Nick Mrdja 40)
Referee : Derek Minett / Jeremy Oliphant
Cautions : Oliviera (11), Icanovski (17), Erakovic (20), Gartside (51), Giorgi (82), Henderson (91), Mikulic (99), Willey (101)
Dismissals : None
Attendance : 450 (approx.)
PHOENIX END PRE-SEASON ON A HIGH
Joe Kelly’s last week of experimentation at South West Phoenix ended on the weekend when they took on WAASSA Premier Division side Spearwood Dalmatinac. Fielding a much changed side that drew 3-3 with Dallies last week, Phoenix drew first blood when Stephen Suttie converted a penalty early in the match. Dallies replied with a cracking 40-yard chip that caught ‘keeper Francis Allan off his line to see the sides go in on level terms at the break. Steve Rodgers scored Phoenix’s second after some good lead-up work by man-of-the-match Elliot Gibson. Dallies used their experience to catch their opponents out of position with alarming regularity and led to them taking a 3-2 lead late in the second half. But five minutes from full-time Greg Hayes pounced on the rebound after the Dallies ‘keeper parried a powerful Suttie drive from an acute angle to make it 3-3.
In the earlier reserves game Phoenix ran out comfortable 7-1 winners. Despite being bolstered by the return of four senior players returning from injury, Phoenix went a goal down after 15 minutes from a corner kick. But two goals from striker Savo Garic saw Phoenix go into the break with the advantage. Shortly after the re-start Sasha Kilibarda added to the tally, with further goals from Steve Rodgers (two), Richie Hall and Andy Beadle filling out the scoreline.
ASHFIELD WIN BATTLE OF THE A’S
It was the clash of the A’s on Saturday morning when Ashfield met Armadale at Ashfield Reserve. The home side came out trumps in two of the three games, the reserves ending 1-0 while the final score in the Under-18’s was 4-2. Honours were shared in the senior clash, the result a 1-1 draw.
SORRENTO DUMP DIANELLA
Sorrento’s failure to make the semi-finals of the Night Series saw the club taken on First Divison Dianella White Eagles on Saturday. Despite missing Pedja Jovanovic and Zelko Savic through injury, the White Eagles started brightly and held their more fancied opponents scoreless over the first 45 minutes. After the interval Sorrento raked up six goals, but the final 6-0 margin does not truly reflect the hardy resolve of the White Eagles side that only dissipated after conceding a penalty for the opening goal. Twenty six minutes into the second half Ryan Jeans was held back as he attempted to shield the ball to earn his side the spot-kick, and he showed his coolness to convert. That was enough for Sorrento to open the floodgates and further goals from Shaun Bowyer, Michael Garcia, Jared Love and Todd Harnwell (2) over the remaining 19 minutes rounded out the scoreline.
It was not the sort of result the White Eagles camp was after, coming just a week before their opening round Boral Cup clash with Balcatta next Saturday. Sorrento have a bye into the 2nd Round of the competition, but will kick-off their Premier League campaign on 7th April with the home fixture against Fremantle City. In other games, Sorrento’s Under-18 side ran out 7-0 winners against White Eagles reserve outfit, while Sorrento’s reserves were 2-0 winners over Perth’s reserve side.
FLOREAT ATHENA vs INGLEWOOD UNITED, NIGHT SERIES SEMI-FINAL
Floreat Athena went into Friday nights semi-final clash with Inglewood United as clear favourites with a 100% record over the qualifying rounds of the Night Series. Coach John Hunter’s only gamble was with the fitness of sweeper Troy Bernard who was named in the starting line-up after passing a late fitness test. United’s Steve Parkinson took the surprising step of naming Dom Ando, Philip Smiljanic and Greg Sharland in the starting eleven, meaning there was no room for talented youngsters Scott Campbell and Andy Cornwall in his squad tonight.
Both teams took their time to settle with Athena the more adventurous over the opening minutes. And the ‘home’ side were rewarded for their enterprise in the 10th minute when midfielder Costa Socratous cut a swath through United’s defence and lashed the ball into the net from 16-metres. It was a goal worthy of a television replay, Socratous showing great control as he cut inside Jamie Goodman before driving the ball into the top far corner of Oliver Taseski’s goal.
The goal sparked United into life and through some good movement of the ball, they controlled the remainder of the half with captain Lee Crosby inspirational in the centre of midfield. Not long after Athena took the lead, a corner was cleared half-heartedly by the Athena defence, the ball bounced to Alex Cummings whose shot from outside the area flew through the crowded 18-yard but didn’t troubled John Xigas in goal. After 23 minutes Jason Godfrey and Elton Holmes combined to put Ando through, but his effort from 20-metres ended up dribbling wide of the up-right.
Overall, there were few chances on goal at either end as both teams adopted a far more cautious style of play than the openness they displayed in the qualifying rounds of the Night Series. For long periods the was a contest dominated by the respective defences who opted to play the ball over rather than through the middle. Once in attack, forwards on both sides were very quickly closed down by opponents determined not to concede, often smacking the ball to safety with little concern for where it went. On the occasions that either team went for a spot of creativity and made use of the flanks, the final balls and crosses were consistently over-hit and Xigas and Taseski were on hand to mop of the danger.
It wasn’t until the last few minutes of the half that we saw anything to get excited about. In the 34th minute Godfrey dashed out of defence with the ball and, after combining with Crosby and Greg Sharland, Daniel Harrop half-volleyed high from 20-metres. Two minutes later United were back on level terms after Ando skinned Adrian Spinelli on the right to cross deep into the area. Holmes was unable to get a clear shot on goal so ran the ball wide, laid it off to Sharland who in turn knocked short for Phillip Smiljanic to drill a perfect first time shot past Xigas.
With their lead gone, Athena went on the attack to try and restore the advantage before the break. A sharp 38th minute close-range header from Robyn Dyers caused no problems for a Taseski who had read the play well. And on the stroke of half time Socratous went on another surging run from wide on the right but this time his shot sailed well clear of the bar. At the end of 40minutes, and with few highlights of note, the scores were tied at one-all in what was shaping up to be a game decided not so much on who was the better side, but more on which team would make the fewer mistakes.
Four minutes after the re-start Athena re-took the lead after an error in the heart of their opponents defence. Godfrey, under pressure from Dyers, attempted to square the ball across the top of United’s defensive area to Goodman, only for his pass to be intercepted by Ryan Newhill. And the big striker had plenty of time to pick his spot and hammered the ball wide of Taseski to make it 2-1. It was some sloppy defending all round from United, first when Godfrey conceded possession, and second, Newhill should never have been allowed to wander unchecked so close to goal.
The immediate response from the United bench was to bring on State striker Louis Parkinson to add more fire-power to the line-up as the sides traded shots on goal. Godfrey re-deemed himself in the 47th minute when he prevented Newhill from adding to his tally with a last-gasp tackle 12-metres from goal. Four minutes later Ando sent a long-range effort bouncing into the arms of Xigas. Shortly after some great teamwork by Godfrey and Goodman conspired to thwart Dyers after the tall forward raced onto a long clearance. Sharland was supplying United’s forwards with most of their ammunition, and so it was a surprise when he was substituted after 62 minutes. But his replacement Drew Carruthers wasted no time in getting involved, running onto a long ball from John Bartolomei before sending a deep cross to Holmes, whose explosive header was taken with confidence by Xigas.
The final 20 minutes closely mimicked the pattern of the first half neither side was really able to assert their influence to any great degree and chances on goal were scattered. Both defences shut up shop, forcing the forwards into shooting from outside the 18-yard box. Ithier hit a thumping drive well over the bar in the 65th minute, and two minutes later Goodman prevented Dyers from unloading from just outside the area. As the minutes ticked down United became desperate for an equaliser only to find few holes in an Athena defence commanded by Hugh Miller. Their best chances came close to the full-time whistle, Xigas tipping over a fierce drive from 17-metres by Bartolomei in the 78th minute, and deep in injury time Harrop sprayed a long-range effort wide of the target.
In a scrappy match which saw key players from both sides go missing for long periods, Athena rightly came out on top to earn a place in the Night Series final for the second successive year. Midfielder Socratous was an important feature in the middle of the park, while Newhill and Dyers remained a constant threat in attack. Down the other end of the park it was Miller, Manuel Arapis and Adrian Sutton who superbly weathered a late charge. Crosby was the central figure in United’s game, at times almost single-handedly trying to keep alive the teams aspirations of making the decider. But perhaps the most telling contribution from United’s viewpoint was the omission of young wing-backs Campbell and Cornwall which left the side with a lack of creativity and penetration when going forward.
Floreat Athena : John Xigas, Troy Bernard (Manuel Arapis 56), Adrian
Sutton, Hugh Miller, George Taniakos (Phillipo Espotito 54), Miguel Ortin,
Adrian Spinelli, Costa Socratous, Doug Ithier, Ryan Newhill, Robyn Dyers
Inglewood United : Oliver Taseski, Alex Cummings, Jamie Goodman, Jason Godfrey, Ryan Fredericks (Louis Parkinson 44), Greg Sharland (Drew Carruthers 62), Dom Ando, Daniel Harrop, Lee Crosby, Phillip Smiljanic (John Bartolomei 54), Elton Holmes
Referee : Steve Muldoon
Cautions : Goodman (67), Cummings (73)
Dismissals : None
Attendance : 350 (approx.)
CHAMPIONS TO PLAY GLORY
Premier League champions Fremantle City play local NSL outfit Perth Glory on Friday 30th March in a friendly challenge match under lights at Fremantle Oval (Parry Street, Fremantle). Glory have a bye from their home-and-away schedule next weekend and, needing to take maximum points from their remaining games to stay in the running for a top two finish, want to keep match-sharp for the run-in to the finals. Their opponents on the night are one of two Perth-based consortiums that have applied for entry to the NSL for the 2001/02 season. Proceedings get underway at 7.00pm with free entry, although a gold coin donation would be appreciated to help out with City's youth development program.
City coach Stuart Kamasz has a few injury concerns ahead of the friendly fixture. Versatile youngster Daniel Trim will most likely miss the game with a niggling complaint, State captain Trim Morgan has a bruised ankle, while first choice goalkeeper Alan Dunlop looks like being sidelined for up to a month with a knee ligament problem. On the plus side, former Glory midfielder Paul McVittie is expected to make his first appearance for the port side this season, while Will Pryce will make his return from injury.
"I might also give some of our young players a run against Glory," Kamasz said this week. "It should be a good opportunity for the youngsters to show what they can do, if we can settle quickly and not get unnerved by the big crowd we should do okay. I'm sure our players will lift for the game, but there could be a fitness problem late in the game as Glory are nearing the end of their season while we have only just started ours, so we could see a bit of a discrepancy there. But I'm confident we can put up a good showing though and all the lads are raring to go."
The loss of Dunlop is one City could have done without, coming so close to the start of the Premier League season. But the club have moved quickly and secured the services of former Western Knights custodian Darren Williams to add to the goalkeeping stocks. "We've got Michael Cross from Swan I.C. on the books, he was the State Under-16 'keeper last year, and young Sam Tomea is coming along well, but we just wanted someone with a bit of experience in there as cover. We've been chasing Williams for some time and he agreed to a two-year contract last night," Kamasz said on Tuesday.
COLE DUMPS GLORY
Perth Glory youngster Aaron Cole has opted to terminate his $100-a-week apprenticeship contract after being told he had no future with the club. The 20-year old centre-half was not available for comment on Thursday, but his father Neil said Aaron was left with no option but to break ties with the NSL club. "He took the step based on information supplied by the football manager, Manny Zammit, that there was no indication that the club wanted him," Cole senior said. "Aaron's keen to get on with his career. He's looking at his options over east and overseas as well. We've asked for clarification from the Glory if there will be a transfer fee involved if he joins another club."
Cole turned down offers from Carlton and Marconi Stallions to join Glory 18 months ago after winning W.A.'s Player of the Year award when with Perth. The tall defender made his debut in the NSL last month when he came on as a substitute against Sydney United. Expected to play for Perth in Sunday's Night Series semi-final against Cockburn City, it has been rumoured that Cole may head to England for trials to pursue his career.
AND THEN THERE WERE FOUR
In a replay of the 2000 Night Series final, tonight will see a showdown between an undefeated Floreat Athena side and Steve Parkinson's young Inglewood United outfit. Last year Athena won the decider 6-0, but this weekend's game promises a much tighter contest. Parkinson has used 22 players - including 10 under the age of 18 - in the qualifying rounds and promises a few tactical and personnel surprises on the night. "I'll do things a little bit differently, but I won't waver in my commitment to the younger players," he said. "They've shown they can compete. It's a bonus to have got this far and maybe they can take us all the way to the final." United were lucky to hold on to their semi-final berth last week as Sorrento came back at them late in the game and will rely upon the defensive partnership of Alex Cummings and Jason Godfrey to keep competition joint-leading scorer Robyn Dyers quiet.
Athena have conceded just three times in their four Night Series outings, but they are likely to be without sweeper Troy Bernard (knee injury) and defensive midfielder Jason Smith (calf problems) at the back against United. Coach John Hunter, who left United over the summer, is not concerned about his opponent's plans. "I haven't seen them playing, so whatever they come up with won't mean anything to me," said Hunter. "Anyway, we'll be focusing on doing our job. I'm quietly confident if we do it right we'll get to the final." At full strength you would have to pick Athena to progress to the final, but without two key players this game is very much up for grabs.
Free-scoring Cockburn City play Perth on Sunday in the other semi-final. City have amassed 12 goals in the competition to date with Branimir Mikulic leading the way by bagging half of that tally. Paul Cooke and Christian Alvarez have turned in some inspired displays in the qualifying rounds, and 17-year old 'keeper Jeff Cargill has earnt himself a two week trial with Glory for his efforts. But Perth have a depth and quality rarely seen at State League level with Todd Howarth, David Onoforo and captain Craig Naven the pick of the bunch. The club have also unearthed the find of the Night Series in young Andreas Oliveira who will be looking to add to his tally in front of goal. Both sides are expected to be at full-strength after having a bye last week, but Perth should prove to be too hot to handle.
Also this weekend, Sorrento will play Perth at Percy Doyle Reserve on Sunday 25th March. The opening game kicks-off at 9.00am with the senior clash getting underway two hours later.
JONES IMPRESSES COACH
Perth-born goalkeeper Brad Jones has earnt the praise of Middlesbrough's coaching staff after the reserves mid-week 1-2 loss to League leaders Sunderland. The young 'keeper performed well under pressure and twice denied Danny Dichio as well as reacting quick to thwart John Oster and Chris Lumsdon. "I thought he did very well and consistency of performance, if he gets a chance in the reserves again, will play a major part in his development."
'Boro looked to be cruising after taking an early lead, only to throw away three the points by conceding two soft goals late in the game. "I thought we had seen off the danger," admitted reserve team manager Dave Geddis post-match. "Sunderland were a threat, as they should be, but I don't think we had a major problem with inexperience, although we did have one or two young ones in. I thought we saw of the problem very well, particularly through the performance of young Brad Jones."
JOONDALUP TO HOST SOUTHAMPTON
English Premier League club Southampton will strengthen ties with ECU Joondalup over the Easter Weekend by sending an Under-15 team to compete in a specially arranged four-team tournament to the north of the city. The Saints team will take on the Under-15 teams from the Joondalup and Perth academies as well as the W.A. Under-16 State side. The tournament will take place Good Friday and Easter Sunday to commemorate the opening of a new stand at the Joondalup Arena.
The best of W.A.'s young talent will be on display courtesy of two of our most progressive clubs, while Southampton have promised that their side will include a number of English schoolboy internationals. Southampton currently have a number of Australian's on their books, including two from Perth. Midfielder Darren Broxton, a regular fixture in the Under-17's, and forward Adrian Caceras who has made the bench for the senior side several times this season, were signed by the English club last year from Joondalup and Perth respectively.
W.A. WOMEN HONOURED
Ten women players and administrators from W.A. received the Australian Sports Medal from the Federal Government at a ceremony in Perth on Wednesday night. Those honoured were former Matilda's goalkeeper Tracey Wheeler, six times W.A. Fairest and Best Sandra Brentnall, Julie Clayton (now Gorton), one-time Soccer Federation of W.A. secretary Barbara Gibson, Barbara Kozak (now Nicholson), Sharon Mateljan (now Loveless), Judy Pettitt, Janette Spencer, former Matilda (and 100FM co-host!) Penny Tanner and Teresa Varadi (now Kozak).
STATE COACHING POSITIONS ON OFFER
Soccer West Coast are currently calling for expressions of interest for the position of coach for the W.A. Under-19 team that will head to France in late May to compete in the prestigious Tournoi de Crox. Applicants must be in possession of a Soccer Australia State Licence. The controlling body are also seeking the services of a physiotherapist/trainer for the tour that holds ASMF Level 2 Trainer accreditation. Interested parties can send their details to Paul Tombides (General Manager), Soccer West Coast, PO Box 188, Jolimont 6014, Western Australia. Applications for both positions close on Tuesday 27th March.
Women's Soccer of W.A. are also advertising for two State team coaches to look after the affairs of their junior sides. The positions are for the Under-14 and Under-17 teams and require the applicant to have a minimum of Senior Coach Level accreditation and a police clearance is essential. Applications can be sent to The Secretary Women's Soccer of W.A., PO Box 38A, Thornlie 6988, Western Australia. The closing date is Friday 30th March.
BORAL CUP DRAW
The four semi-finalists in the 2001 Night Series - Inglewood United, Floreat Athena, Cockburn City and Perth - have been handed a potential fixture nightmare after the first round of the Boral Cup was made public this week. The Cup competition is due to get underway on Saturday 31st March, but two of the aforementioned clubs will be allowed to postpone their clashes as they will play-off for the Night Series title the following day. Soccer West Coast have given the finalists, to be decided this weekend, to play their opening round Cup games at a later date.
There are several intriguing clashes lined for with the pick of the bunch being the First Division derby between the Stirling Lions and the Stirling Suns. The only all Premier League pairing will see Swan I.C. host Bassendean Caledonian, while Cockburn City are the only other top flight club at home when they play recently-demoted Ashfield. Floreat Athena are away to Southside United, and Inglewood United will be on the road also when they take on Canning City. In another promising fixture, Kingsway Olympic will battle it out with the Bayswater City Panthers.
Elsewhere Wanneroo City meet Morley Windmills, Queens Park are at home to new-comers South West Phoenix and the Dianella White Eagles face north-of-the-river rivals Balcatta. The other games will see the Leeming Strikers take on Rockingham City, and Armadale play Perth City. Five Premier League clubs - Perth, Fremantle City, Sorrento, ECU Joondalup and Western Knights - have been given automatic byes into the next round.
JOONDALUP STRENGTHEN SQUAD
ECU Joondalup have added to their playing roster by agreeing terms with attacking midfielder Abdul Kamara and defender Richard Watson for the up-coming winter. Kamara, who played for Gillingham in England before coming to Perth, has previously played for Spearwood Dalmatinac, Floreat Athena and Fremantle City (where he was last season) in the Premier League. Soon to be 26-year old Watson has returned to the club that he's called home since 1997 after a 12-month break. The 1998 W.A. Player of the Year includes NSL outfits Heidelberg United and Canberra Cosmos amongst his former clubs.
THE PHOENIX RISES
Joe Kelly, recently appointed coach of First Division South West Phoenix, is well aware that the winter months are going to be a testing period for the new club. "It will be a real eye opener for many of our the players," Kelly said this week. "I feel this season will be a consolidation year. Ideally, I would like us to finish in the top half of the table this year, but realistically I just don't know, we haven't seen much of our opposition yet."
In their inaugural season, Phoenix have drawn players from all over the south of the state - Collie, Busselton, Bunbury, Australind, Hay Park and Margaret River. Kelly has supplemented these with several players from the Ashfield/Bunbury side of 2000, many of whom have been absent from the pre-season schedule. "Savo Garic picked up an injury which has hampered him reaching full fitness and participating in out pre-season games," Kelly said this week. "David Rodgers has been out with a ligament problem since early February and has been unable to train since, and Damien Trim has spent six months recuperating from a groin operation. Brett Norrie and Steve Rodgers only resumed training last week due to other commitments."
It's been a difficult pre-season for the fledgling club. Hit by injury and still experimenting with line-ups and tactics, Phoenix only last weekend chalked up their first win of the pre-season by defeating Perth S.C. in their first game on home soil. The reserves got the ball rolling with a 4-1 victory, strikes from Richie Hall, Andy Beadle and Brett Norrie along with an own goal doing the job. Despite missing Steve Rodgers, David Rodgers and Garic for the senior clash, Phoenix surprised the visitors to win 2-1 thanks to goals from Stephen Suttie and Elliot Gibson in what was very much a team effort.
The senior team's first pre-season hit-out was away to Inglewood United on 11th February. Fielding a largely inexperienced side, Phoenix crashed 1-4 with Stephen Suttie scoring their lone goal. The following weekend they faced Albany Caledonians, Savo Garic, Chris Doyle and David Suttie finding the net only for Caledonians to run out 3-4 victors. Phoenix goalkeeper Reece Braithwaite was the hero against Mandurah, making several crucial saves and restricting the final margin to 1-5 against his side, Stephen Suttie netting for Phoenix. Kelly was particularly proud of the way some of his sides' youngsters handled themselves in this game, "They showed great character, kept their concentration and their heads up despite the scoreline. We've got some very good 18 to 20-year olds who should open an eye or two this season."
Scottish-born Kelly has had a long career in the game overseas, interstate and locally. A semi-professional player in the London Spartan League before emigrating to Australia, he spent much of the 1980's as player/coach in various New South Wales and Queensland leagues before heading west due to work commitments. After a brief stint with Canning Corinthian, Kelly coached Collie for two years before giving the game away to focus on family. Last year he re-appeared on the scene as coach of Australind, ahead of his appointment with Phoenix in February 2001.
COYNE AWAITS CALL FROM FARINA
Former Perth junior Chris Coyne has put his hand up to take part in Australia's World Cup qualifying campaign which gets underway in the coming months. The young defender has enjoyed a superb season at the back for Dundee in Scotland's Premier League and is keen to break into Frank Farina's squad. "My performances speak louder than words, and he'll see we beat Rangers last week and wonder how I played. Craig Moore and Tony Vidmar are ahead of me so I might have to be patient but I'm really keen to play for Australia," Coyne said this week.
Coyne left Perth several years ago as an impressionable 17-year old to chase a dream career with West Ham United. "I was spotted playing in the World Under-17 Championships in Ecuador," Coyne recalled recently. "Harry Kewell was in the team, as was Brett Emerton who scored against Scotland at Hampden in November. I went over to London but my only first-team match was against Leeds as a late substitute when we lost 5-1 and had two players sent off - it was like Custer's last stand! After that, West Ham brought in experienced players like Stuart Pearce and it quickly became apparent that I was going to have to move on." That escape route from Upton Park was via Scottish club Dundee where Coyne has been a revelation in recent months.
ROCKINGHAM STAGE DRAMATIC FIGHTBACK
Kingsway Olympic and Rockingham City faced off in a pre-season friendly on the weekend as both sides get ready for the start of the First Division season. In a tight contest, City lost influential skipper Fraser Brown early in the match after a nasty clash of heads required extensive treatment. Olympic took advantage of this and held the upper hand for much of opening half but couldn't break down a resilient defence. Shortly after the re-start Olympic finally got the ball in the back of the net through a superb long-range goal. The goal sparked City into life and a burst of activity over the next seven minutes would leave their opponents wondering what had hit them. Five minutes after going behind, a lovely piece of individual work from Steve Cramphorn put City back on level terms. 30 seconds later they hit the front after a goal-mouth scramble which ended when Steven Stewart got the decisive touch. City again quickly turned the ball over from the kick-off and charged into attack where Luke Morris was brought down inside the area. And, to the delight of the travelling City supporters, Cramphorn hammered the spot-kick past the Olympic 'keeper to make the final scoreline 3-1. In the earlier match betweens the clubs' reserves outfits, Olympic defeated their previously unbeaten City opponents 1-4, Keith Reynolds the lone scorer for the southerners.
ARMADALE DOWN KNIGHTS!
First Division Armadale played host to Premier League outfit Western Knights in two pre-season friendlies played on Saturday morning. In the opening game the Knights Under-18's defeated Armadale's reserves 1-4, Ryan Jones bagging the home side's solitary goal. With the game between Armadale's senior team and the Knights reserves locked at nil-all after 45 minutes, a five-goal second half ensued which ended 4-1 in favour of the First Division side. Jason Wilcox, Bryon Bull, coach Billy Russell(!) and off-season signing David Twigg getting their names on the scorecard for Armadale.
NIGHT SERIES, WEEKEND FIVE (Floreat Athena vs Swan I.C. report provided by Community Newspapers reporter Mike Hennessey)
Sorrento went into Sunday's Night Series clash with Inglewood United needing maximum points to leapfrog their opponents and progress to the semi-final stage of the competition. United on the other hand required a draw or better go through ahead of Sorrento. Both sides were at full-strength for the game, Sorrento utilising the same small pool of players that has served them well in recent weeks while United coach Steve Parkinson continued to rotate his squad in an effort to find the perfect formula.
The game started at a cracking pace and it wasn't long before we saw the first openings created. Sorrento were caught napping after 4 minutes when Andy Cornwall's cross-field pass found Scott Campbell who cut inside but blasted high from 20-metres. Two minutes later Michael Garcia and Todd Harnwell combined on the right, the latter looping the ball into the United area where Shaun Bowyer's header tested the reflexes Oliver Taseski, the young 'keeper diving full length along the goal line to knock it around the up-right. United's defence were slow to react to the resulting corner, giving Ryan Jeans time to bring ball under control some 7-metres from goal where Taseki again came to his teams rescue by smothering at the strikers' feet. Shortly after United's Andy Cornwall seized upon an error by David Colegate, only to spray his shot wide of the far post with only 'keeper Neil Young to beat.
Slowly but surely Sorrento took the upper hand through Bowyer who was the difference between the sides in the middle of the park. The no-nonsense midfielder found himself in the thick of the action, Sorrento's defence channelling the ball through Bowyer who would in turn release Harnwell and Jared Love down the flanks. Going forward, the side had plenty of attacking options with players moving into space, and Sorrento quickly got the ball into their attacking half as a result. But once in their final third they hit a solid four-man United backline in which the experience of veteran Alex Cummings was telling. Along with teenager Jason Godfrey, the pair were superb in the centre of a defence which also featured Ryan Fredericks and Drew Carruthers and effectively limited the usefulness of Sorrento strikers Garcia and Jeans for long periods.
A searching cross-field ball from Glenn Thomas in the 17th minute saw Jeans out-pace Carruthers and do well to get a shot in from an ever-decreasing angle, only to hit to clear of the crossbar. Three minutes later Ryan Jeans' thumping drive on the run didn't trouble Taseski. With Harnwell pumping a never-ending stream of crosses into the heart of the United defence, Sorrento's dominance was finally rewarded after 24 minutes. Bowyer's persistence to not concede possession in the centre circle saw him feed the ball to Stuart Banks, who raced away down the left flank. He squared the ball into the path of Jeans and his first time shot was placed wide of Taseski, who was left exposed by a dozing defence.
United came into the game in the final ten minutes largely through the efforts of Cornwall, who was the only player showing any degree of urgency for his side. Nine minutes from the break Cornwall's cross to beyond the far post was nodded back into the 6-yard box by Elton Holmes, but Daniel Harrop was unable to get a clean shot on goal and scuffed his shot. Sorrento then had a golden opportunity to double the margin - Taseski was slow to release a back-pass as Love raced in to challenge, the 'keeper hitting his attempted clearance into the winger and then breathed a sigh of relief as the ball ricocheted the wrong side of the up-right.
With half-time fast approaching, United won a rare corner. Played deep, Cummings collected it close to the far corner flag, found Louis Parkinson who lobbed the ball back into the dangerzone. Rising unchallenged, Harrop sent a glancing header towards Young's feet which the 'keeper took the pace off but was unable to prevent from spinning across the goal line for the equaliser. And it looked as though Sorrento's bubble minutes later when United found the net for a second time - Holmes slotting home after running on to a pass from Parkinson only to have it disallowed for off-side.
United looked as though they were going to go on with the job after the break when, just two minutes after the re-start, Parkinson cleverly flicked the ball past Richard Turnbull to go inside the penalty area and one-on-one with Young. But the promising young striker tripped at the wrong time and saw Banks race in to clear the danger. After conceding on the stroke of half-time, Sorrento's backline tightened up after the interval to soak up the early pressure from United.
Parkinson showed great control to turn and lose an opponent before centring to Holmes surging through the middle. In a wonderful, flowing move Holmes quickly relayed the ball to Cornwall on the far side and the winger send an explosive shot on goal which soared over the bar. Scott Campbell then slipped past Banks and crossed from close to the by-line, Holmes headed it to feet and Parkinson was in the middle of a scramble for possession from which Turnbull emerged triumphant by hacking it to safety.
While the best chances were falling to United, their opponents were also showing great promise. The decision of Sorrento coach Trevor Morgan to introduce Kevin Murphy at the break was paying dividends, the defender making some darting runs out of defence. Seven minutes into the half Morgan opted for a three-man forward line when he replaced Jared Love with veteran Ross Greer. And while it took Sorrento some time to adjust to the new formation, the switch would prove to be a good one.
Realising that time was very quickly running out, Sorrento suddenly sprang into life with 20 minutes remaining. It started when Harnwell hit a low cross to find Garcia on top of the area, but the striker's shot on goal was blocked off the boot by a defender. Two minutes later Sorrento had appeals for a penalty waved away by referee Wayne Oldham, Garcia being brought down heavily after a quick break into the box. In the 65th minute Greer missed a sitter when a cross from the left flicked heads in the middle of the area and landed squarely at his feet. Unmarked, 4-metres from the line and with only Taseski to beat, the striker failed to connect properly and it dribbled wide of the target.
The pressure on United's backline was unrelenting. Taking a long clearance from Young in his stride, Harnwell flashed the ball across the face of goal after out-pacing Godfrey. In the 67th minute Taseski spilled the a high cross when challenged by Greer who sent the ball goalward, and Godfrey produced a spectacular bicycle-kick to prevent it from crossing the line. Another high ball slipped from Taseski's grasp and fell to Garcia, but the young 'keeper showed great reflexes to recover and rob Sorrento of another goalscoring opportunity. A long clearance by Banks saw Jeans out-manoeuvre Godfrey to find space, but his shot was deflected wide by the hard-working defender, and the referee added salt to the wound by awarding a goal-kick.
Despite the fact that both sides were visibly tiring, there were plenty of chances inside the final ten minutes as the ball was raced from one end of the pitch to the other. Harrop was sent clear though on goal but hit his shot wide of the up-right when he should have at least tested Young. Murphy chipped the ball back over the over the United defence after they cleared a corner, Harnwell controlled well but drove his shot the wrong side of the post with Cummings breathing down his neck. In the 77th minute Lee Crosby was called up for handball on the top edge of Sorrento's attacking area, and with all eleven United players inside the 18-yard box Banks had little chance as he drilled the free-kick into the wall. Within a minute of eachother, Harrop hammered into side netting from a narrow angle, then Parkinson almost snuck the ball between Young and his near post from wide on the left.
A tense four minutes of injury time followed. Taseski missed a high cross thanks to pressure from Jeans, Greer pounced on the lose ball but a desperate tackle by Godfrey blocked his shot. With United more than content to run down the clock, and a dipping 25-metre bomb from Crosby which was tipped over the bar by Young would be the last shot of the night.
The one-all scoreline meant that Sorrento bowed out of the competition, but not before giving their opponents on the night cause from concern. Having held possession for long periods and taken the lead after 24 minute with a well taken goal, Sorrento then conceded a soft goal on the stroke of half-time to throw away their advantage. And despite laying siege on their opponents' goal after the break, Sorrento were frustrated by their inability to find the target. United had their defence to thank for the win, Cummings and Godfrey rarely putting a foot wrong all night and both made some timely interceptions and clearances. United's flying wing-backs Cornwall and Campbell also turned in impressive performances, as did Taseski between the posts. The result means United finish as runners-up in Group B and go through to the next stage where they meet an undefeated Floreat Athena outfit on Friday night. The Sunday semi-final clash pits Cockburn City against Perth.
Inglewood United : Oliver Taseski, Ryan Fredericks (Jamie Goodman 49), Alex Cummings, Jason Godfrey,
Drew Carruthers, Scott Campbell, Andy Cornwall (John Bartolomei 57), Lee Crosby, Daniel Harrop, Louis
Parkinson, Elton Holmes
Sorrento : Neil Young, David Colegate (Toby Wright 61), Richard Turnbull, Stuart Banks, Todd Harnwell, Jared Love (Ross Greer 47), Shaun Bowyer, Gary Andrews (Kevin Murphy 40), Glenn Thomas, Michael Garcia, Ryan Jeans
Referee : Wayne Oldham
Cautions : Cummings (40), Bowyer (53)
Dismissals : None
Attendance : 400 (approx.)
Later in the night Floreat Athena were without regulars Jason Smith and Troy Bernard when they took Swan I.C. Athena had the better of the first 10 minutes of the contest but were rocked by a Peter Vukmirovic thunderbolt in the 15th minute that gave Swan a 1-0 lead. Two goals in three minutes by Robin Dyers turned that around by the 30 minute mark, both goals coming from defensive errors that were coolly slotted home by Dyers. Ryan Newhill might have increased their lead further but was just wide with only the goalkeeper to beat. Athena played out the second half with some ease. Although Scott Halpin put Swan on level terms with ten minutes to go Doug Ithier restored Floreat's lead in a quick counterattack to give his side a 3-2 victory. The win takes Athena into the semi-finals as Group A winners and maintains their unbeaten record. It also ensured local neighbours Perth of a place in the play-offs as runners-up.
It was a belated 21st birthday celebration for the Western Knights forward Tom Radic on Friday when he lead his side to a 3-1 win over newly-promoted Bassendean Caledonian on Friday night. It was the Knights first win in the pre-season competition and it didn't come easy after the Caledonain defence made life difficult in an uninspired opening half. The game was turned on it's head inside the opening 11 minutes of the second half, the youthful enthusiasm of a Knights side drawn primarily from their reserves ranks paying off with a stunning three goal burst. 18-year old Michael Vaz was rewarded for his persistence when he chased a long clearance to score the first goal after it rebounded off opposing 'keeper Tommi Tomich. Four minutes later Tomich's attempted to punch a high corner to safety, only for it to crash into Radic and spin into the net from close range. And Radic was on hand a few minutes later to bag his second of the night when he intercepted a poor clearance by the 'keeper before slotting home. The best goal of the match came late in the piece, Gary James expertly lobbing the ball into the net from the edge of the area for his sides consolation.
A very competitive battle in the late game saw ECU Joondalup go down 0-2 to Fremantle City. With either side able to advance to the next stage and playing for their first win of the tournament, a first half strike from Michael Mirco was enough to give City the lead going into the break. After the re-start State and club captain Trim Morgan was on hand to double the lead for the port side who will be looking forward to the start of the season in a few weeks time to erase the memory of a disappointing Night Series.
PERTH PAIR LINKED WITH NEW NSL CLUB
Socceroo teammates Stan Lazaridis and Shaun Murphy are two of five national team players being targeted by Adelaide real estate tycoon Con Makris. Confident that his bid to have South Coast Eagles included in next season's revamped NSL will be accepted, the South Australian is busy preparing for the club to be NSL-ready by mid-year.
Other than Lazaridis and Murphy, it is believed Makris has also personally approached Kevin Muscat (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Tony Popovic (Sanfrecce Hiroshima) and Zejlko Kalac (Roda) who are expected to make up the core of the Eagles senior squad. It has been reported that Makris has offered each of the five Australian internationals as much as $500,000 to play for the Eagles, bringing the wage bill already to $2.5 million for less than half a starting line-up.
Birkalla, the club that Makris plans to transform into the South Coast Eagles, were relegated from the Premier League last season and will spend the coming winter competing in the State League. Earlier in the month they showed that, although not currently in the state's top flight, they are still a power to be reckoned when they defeated the Adelaide Blue Eagles 2-0 in the S.A. Summer Night Series.
A MIXED BUNCH
Both of tonight's games in the 2001 Night Series are, to use tennis terminology, dead rubbers. The opening clash features Western Knights and Bassendean Caledonian who are both out of the running for a spot in the play-offs. The Knights, who are without young defender Ivan Zuvela through suspension, will be hoping to finish the game with 11 players on the park for the first time in a month. Like their opponents, Caledonian will be hoping for their first win of the competition, a task made all the more difficult with Garin Collins and Kevin Griffith suspended after being red-carded last week. The late game pits Fremantle City, who came back from the dead last week against Swan I.C., against ECU Joondalup. City coach Stuart Kamasz will give some of his club's youngsters a run including teenagers Cisco Jorquerez and Joe Liguan, who has twice scored after coming off the bench for the port side. Joondalup showed signs of improvement when they narrowly lost to Perth last Sunday and are out to prove that they will not be one of the sides battling to avoid relegation this season.
In total contrast, there is a lot riding on the outcome of Sunday's fixtures. It's do or die time for Inglewood United and Sorrento with a win to either side seeing them through to the play-offs along with Cockburn City. United are without a doubt in the driving seat and need only a draw to progress as the second-placed side, while three points for Sorrento are essential. Later in the night it's a similar situation with Swan requiring victory over Floreat Athena by three goals to leap-frog second-placed Perth. It's a tough ask for the club who last week threw away a two goal lead against Fremantle City to eventually share the points. If Swan are to make it, midfielder Carlo Scali will need a repeat performance of his dazzling form last week, while up-front Scott Halpin should keep Athena's backline busy. Athena have already made the finals, they are undefeated in the series and looking to maintain that record. Their defence have conceded one goal in 270 minutes of football, and with Robyn Dyers looking to over-take Cockburn's Branimir Mikulic as the Night Series' leading scorer, expect Athena to be too strong.
FRESH START FOR ASHFIELD
Ashfield Soccer Club are looking forward to the coming State League season having made a fresh start after last season's fiasco involving Bunbury. A fortnight ago the club held Premier League outfit the Western Knights 1-1, and on the weekend drew with Floreat Athena in a scrappy match at Ashfield reserve 2-2. But coach Tom Kilkelly is not getting carried away just yet and predicting big things from the side that were relegated from the top flight last season. "We're just looking forward to the season," Kilkelly said this week. "This year we are looking at the re-birth of Ashfield so to speak, we will take it as it comes and see what happens. We are not going out there and saying we will win the First Division and be back in the Premier League next year, but we will give it a good go. We'll be taking it one match at a time as I don't really know a lot about the opposition. But from the rumours that I have heard the Stirling Lions - who have apparently signed Andy Wright - and the Stirling Suns have recruited well and are the favourites for the title."
Kilkelly has managed to hold on to the bulk of last season's squad, although there was little he could do about the departures of Pedro Pavez (to Western Knights), Adrian Spinelli (Floreat Athena) and Daniel Trim (Fremantle City). In their place have youngster Andy Taylor, former Perth Under-21's captain Ivor Georgeoff, Irish recruit Gareth Gorman, and Gary Spinks and Lee McEvoy who both spent last season in the state's amateur ranks. Kilkelly is also hopeful of securing the services of Karl Atley, who started last season with Inglewood United and joined Bayswater City mid-season, before the week is out.
Ashfield's first competitive hit-out will be the 31st March Boral Cup match against Cockburn City. "If we can get past Cockburn and have a good Cup run, then that would be a fantastic boost for the club. I think the biggest problem could be keeping the players motivated - there's not a lot of publicity for the First Division and I expect that will have an effect on the side after being in the Premier League last year. But we've got 16 games in the League, and if we can make the top four then there are another 7 on offer, so that should provide the players with enough incentive to keep the momentum going."
The club are at the current time calling upon teenagers interested in turning out for Ashfield to make contact. "We are still wanting another four or five players for the Under-18's because you always lose players to injury or whatever over the season," Kilkelly said. "We're happy to just get three teams on the park every week, the first team and reserves have got squads of 15 or 16 but we're looking a bit thin in the 18's. Hopefully that will sort itself out before the season gets going."
SIMMONS CONFIDENT OF SUCCESS
Despite failing to set the Night Series alight, ECU Joondalup coach Paul Simmons is not about to hit the panic button after his sides poor results over the past month. With many in the Joondalup squad absent for a large part of the 2000 winter due to injury, Simmons' pre-season focus has been getting his players into peak physical condition for the Premier League season, while the Night Series has served to provide some much needed match practice. "Our club has never been one that places a lot of emphasis on the Night Series as we use it as a pre-season," Simmons said this week. "Up to two weeks ago we were solely working on fitness and that has proved a good move during the Night Series where I believe we have out run each side we've played. We have now started on working on a method of play, and by the time the season starts I am confident we will perform well."
Simmons has taken time over the Night Series to cast a discerning eye over his Premier League rivals and believes his side will be able to match the best of them once the season proper kicks-off. "When you look at the squad we have assembled for this season, there is no need what-so-ever to panic," Simmons said. "I can't see the other sides getting much stronger, yet we have used 16 and 17-year old kids throughout the competition. We also have Richard Watson - the best defender in WA - arriving home next week and Carl McDarby is fast approaching full fitness, and there might be a couple of other little surprises that you'll hear about nearer the time. So while most of the other teams have been at full strength, we still have at least four quality players to come. We're very confident of a successful season this season, the Night Series has highlighted areas were we need to sharpen up on like defending in the last third, but our stamina fitness and determination has never been an issue. Once we put right that area and given three weeks working on our method of play I can see a bright season ahead."
SIGNS ARE GOOD FOR FREMANTLE
Another coach who has seen the results go against his side over the Night Series is Fremantle City's Stuart Kamasz. And like his counterpart at Joondalup, Kamasz is not concerned with the way his side have played in the pre-season competition. "I thought our performance in the 2-2 draw with Perth was fine," Kamasz early in the week. "The Athena game meant nothing to me result-wise, having Craig Surtees sent off after four minutes and Alan Dunlop committing suicide with two horror mistakes really put us behind the eight ball. In fact I thought we out-played them in the first half, so the end result was a bit flattering for them. And on Friday against Swan we were poor for 40 minutes but could have scored five in the last 20 minutes."
Undoubtedly the state's most successful coach over the past decade, Kamasz is confident he has assembled a squad capable of going all the way in 2001. "Daniel Trim has been an excellent signing for us and has been outstanding over the Night Series," said the City coach. "Vlad Beretovac was missed against Swan with a groin strain along with Evan Wallace. Paul McVittie and John Mirco are back in training and Craig Surtees will be back next week after serving suspension. So we have five first-teamers on their way back. Will Pryce needs a bit of time to settle in and Joseph Liguan will start this weeks game with Joondalup as a reward for his two substitute appearances and two goals. We also have a good crop of youngsters coming up, but we have to be careful how we introduce them. I felt a little sorry for 16-year old Cisco Jorquerez on Friday as he needed some support from the older players who went missing for half the game."
"In all I am happy with the squad, I just have to sort out the balance and the system that suits them this year - I prefer to play 4-4-2 but we've been flirting with a 3-5-2 formation. It's a pity we are playing one game less in the round robin this year as this gives us less time to try things out before the season proper gets going," he added. Asked about City's prospects this Premier League season, Kamasz was straight to the point. "I haven't seen anything in the Night Series that worries me. Yes, I am disappointed that we haven't won yet [but] the club is a very healthy situation and we look like having another excellent Under-18's side which, along with our Under-21's who have a lot of last years' 18's, should help us retain the club championship."
PETTERSON MOVING ON?
Torquay United are said to be close to securing Portsmouth's Fremantle-born goalkeeper Andy Petterson. The Third Division club have expressed an interest in luring Petterson to Plainmoor in time to beat next weeks transfer deadline but Petterson is said to be reluctant to drop down to the lower depths of the English League on a permanent basis. However, the 31-year old has said that he would consider being loaned out to Torquay for the remainder of the season.
Out of contract come July, Petterson has been Portsmouths' third-choice goalkeeper this season and is yet to make an appearance in the first eleven. Earlier in the week it was claimed the 'keeper was holding out for offers from other clubs, but with none are forthcoming, he was expected to start training with Torquay on Thursday.
FINLAY TRIALS CONTINUE
The foot and mouth problem in the U.K. has been playing havoc with the trials of Joondalup United teenager Mark Finlay. The past fortnight has been spent with First Division Burley where the club's youth games were called off due to the out-break. Despite impressing club officials Finlay was not offered terms and will this week try his luck with Oldham Athletic. Should things not go his way at Athletic, Finlay is expected to head north to Scotland where trials are lined-up with several clubs.
LIFE TOUGH AT SOUTHHAMPTON
Former Perth youngster Adrian Caceras is just holding his own at Southampton after appearing in Glen Hoddle's first team squad at the turn of the year. The 19-year old striker is part of the Saints' reserve team, but is finding it tough to win a starting place ahead of club legend Matt Le Tissier, Uwe Rosler and wonderkid Kevin Davies. Caceras, who signed for the Saints at the start of the season, was involved in the club's double-header against French club Le Havre last week and played the final 20 minutes in Southampton's 7-0 reserves win against Spurs on the weekend.
Reproduced with permission from the tribalfootball.com website.
ATHENA BUSY DESPITE BYE
With the weekend off due to be scheduled a bye in the Night Series, Floreat Athena took on First Division Ashfield on Saturday at Ashfield Reserve. Athena coach John Hunter took the opportunity to rest the majority of his first team and have a look at some of the youngsters coming up through the clubs ranks. A scrappy match ensued with Terry Georganis and Miguel Ortin finding the net for the visitors, while Ashfield midfielder Steve Gillibrand and David 'DJ' Mayers replied to make the final score two-all. Athena were due to face an un-specified amateur side on Thursday night in preparation for the weekend clash with Swan I.C.
Hunter's side are undefeated after their three opening Night Series fixtures which has guaranteed them a spot in the play-offs regardless of this Sunday's result against Swan I.C. Having accounted for Perth, Fremantle City and ECU Joondalup, the mood in the camp of one brimming with confidence according to off-season signing Adrian Spinelli. "The club is really happy with the progress so far in the Night Series and we're hoping to continue setting higher standards for the way we are playing, week in-week out," Spinelli said this week. In other club news, long-serving forward Peter Coci is expected to make his comeback from injury in the next few weeks to further swell Hunter's impressive squad.
STATE JUNIORS BOUND FOR FRANCE
A trip to the north of France beckons for some of W.A.'s brightest young soccer stars after the board of Soccer West Coast this week accepted an invitation to send an Under-19's team to the Tournoi de Crox in France during June. The state's professional body voted on Monday night to accept the offer will see the squad fly out of Perth on 26th May and return 10-days later on 5th June.
Not a cheap exercise, Tombides is hopeful that they will be able to secure sponsorship to get the W.A. team to Europe. "We are chasing a bit of sponsorship and I'm very confident we will get the support for the players of the state," he said early in the week. "This is the chance of a life-time for our Under-19's." SWC president David Schrandt will meet new Minister for Sport Alan Carpenter next week when he hopes to convince the Minister that the State Government should become involved in supporting the tour, which marks the first time that a team from W.A. has taken part in a European soccer tournament. "It's a wonderful opportunity for the new Labor Government to get behind us," Schrandt said later in the week. "We're the only team from Australia to get an invite, so it's a great chance to push WA."
However, several locals clubs have already expressed their concerns over missing their young players for the duration of the tour. But SWC president Paul Tombides played down the issue saying that the tournament would affect just one round of local fixtures, and that he hoped clubs would be able to see the benefit of releasing players to match their skills against teams from around the world. The Tournoi de Crox, held in northern France, is an annual event now in it's 45th year which last year brought together teams from far and wide including Argentina, Congo, Romania, Greece, Brazil, Mexico, the United States and France.
With the tournament starting in around 10-weeks, Tombides is well aware that they will have to move quickly to appoint a coach and begin the process of selection and preparation for the trip. "It means that the Night Series would be part of the select process," he said. Senior state squad Louis Parkinson (Inglewood United), Antonio Naglieri (Cockburn City) and Todd Howarth (Perth) have already been touted as likely to make the trip. Andreas Olivieri (Perth), Ivan Zuvela (Western Knights), Anthony Pereira and Joe Liguan (Fremantle City) should also come into the equation having been outstanding for their clubs over the Night Series. 2000 W.A. junior representatives Ashwin Nair (ECU Joondalup), and Inglewood quartet Keith Taylor, Ryan Fredericks, Shaun Kilkelly and Anthony Danze are also believed to be under consideration. There is also provision for three over-age players to be part of the W.A. squad.
OTHER WEEKEND ACTION
With the First Division season not far from kicking-off, there were several pre-season friendies played over the weekend as the teams get ready for a long winter campaign. On Saturday Armadale played host to Southside United with all three grades seeing action, with the reserves and Under-18 clashes ending in favour of the visitors by 3-0 and 4-2 margins respectively. United dominated the opening half of the senior clash and hit the woodwork twice after taking an early lead. Armadale came out after the break to find the target five times in the space of ten minutes, both Gary Murdoch and Dennis Lee grabbing doubles with the fifth a bizarre own goal when the United 'keeper missed a back-pass. With the game in the bag, Armadale coach Billy Russell chose to experiment with his team during which time the visiting side scored a couple of late consolations, the final score being 5-3.
The following day it was last seasons' Premier League cellar-dwellers Rockingham City who played host to First Division high-flyers the Dianella White Eagles. City comfortably took out the reserves fixture 5-1 courtesy of by John Crawford (2),Glen Hallums, Ryan Cattermole and Chris Brown. In an entertaining senior clash that had a dose of everything, the visitors took the lead when Zoran Barovic found Zelko Savic unmarked in the box who duly knocked it past 'keeper Adrian Rawlings. City pressed for an equaliser and were awarded a penalty which was converted by Steve Cramphorn, but only after Nenad Djurasovic kept out the initial shot. The start of the second half saw City take the lead from a brilliant free kick by Paul Colkin. However, the White Eagles were not about to give up and leveled the scores when Savic netted his second of the afternoon after a through ball from Dragisa Volarevic. A minute later young substitute Mario Lucic provided a beautiful cross to set Savic up for his hat-trick and put the side 3-2 up. But in injury time a City corner was not cleared and after a scramble for possession Lee Hallums equalised for the home side.
NIGHT SERIES, WEEKEND FOUR (Sorrento vs Western Knights report provided by Kerry Slater)
On a windy Friday night, Fremantle City and Swan I.C. squared off in match both needed to win in order to keep alive their slim hopes of making it to the next stage of the 2001 Night Series. City, who have struggled so far in the pre-season competition, were without defender Craig Surtees, missing through suspension along, and midfielders Paul McVittie and John Mirco who have both only recently re-started training. Last weekend saw Swan notched up their first win of the series and were relying on striker Scott Halpin to add to his two goal haul against ECU Joondalup seven days earlier.
It took City just 6 minutes to hit the lead after a superb penetrating run by Michael Mirco. Winning possession in the centre circle, Mirco went past several opponents, played a neat 2-1 with Trim Morgan on top of the area, then rammed the ball past advancing swan 'keeper Pablo Centurion to complete a fine move. And the midfielder almost doubled the lead five minutes later, Centurion losing his footing when bringing down Mirco's hopeful long-range drive, the ball rolling narrowly wide of the left up-right. A goal down with less than quarter of an hour gone, Swan suffered a further blow when midfielder Justin Hugo was helped from the playing surface with a knee injury which brought his night to an early end.
The port side were well and truly on top over the opening stages of this match. Mirco was proving to be an inspiration in the middle of the park, while down the flanks it was youngsters Anthony Perreira and Cisco Jorquerez that were causing headaches for the Swan backline. A partially cleared corner fell to Perreira some 25-metres from goal, and he surprised everyone with a superb dipping drive that kissed the wrong side of the bar after 14 minutes. A lovely build-up featuring Morgan and Kevin Correia allowed Jorquerez time and space from the top of the area only for the Swan 'keeper to be well positioned to make the save. City's attacking players were combining with seemingly without effort, only to be thwarted by some last-gasp interceptions and tackles by a desperate Swan defence.
For their part, Swan's best opportunities came on the counter-attack. Mid-way through the half Justin Everley made a stirring run out of defence which took him well inside the opposing penalty area, only to run into a wall of defenders. The problem with Swan early on was their reliance upon Scott Halpin and Peter Vukmirovic to do everything unaided up-front against a solid City back-three consisting of Cesare De Bartolo, Dave Evans and Daniel Trim.
It wasn't until the final ten minutes of the half that the game really came to life, the two teams trading blows on goal. After 31 minutes Perreira showed great skill when under pressure from Rory Mouttet to square the ball from close to the by-line, it flew past Centurion at the near post but there was no-one on hand to knock it across the line only for City. Two minutes later Mouttet found Halpin with a great cross-field pass, the striker used his body to throw off an opponent before sending a thunderbolt from 16-metres for which Alan Dunlop produced the save of the game. Back down the other end Morgan drew the Swan defence wide on the right before centring to Correia, whose first touch let him down and gave Centurion time to get back into position and pounce on the ball before the City forward could recover. Five minutes before the break Swan finally pulled level as the pendulum began to swing their way. A corner was cleared as far as Anthony Jones, he hammered it towards a sea of players from which it bobbled to Halpin at the far post and he had the simple task of tucking it into the net from close in.
After a hard fought first half in which both defences were the stars of the show, immediately after the break all the play was with Swan. Within a minute of the re-commencement of play an explosive Terry Nicolaou volley was knocked around the post by Dunlop to concede what was the first of three corners in as many minutes. The best of these saw Carlo Scali time his shot to perfection, half-volleying it just inches wide of the post. Coach Vesko Zmukic had fired up his troops at the interval and in the 45th minute Swan got their reward when Vukmirovic ran onto a perfectly weighted pass played from inside Swan's defensive half by Carlo Scali. The big striker did well to hold off Dave Evans then knocked his shot wide of Dunlop to give Swan the lead.
It was largely down to Carlo Scali that Swan came back into this contest, the more he figured in play on the right side of midfield the more dangerous his side looked. Not long after setting Vukmirovic clear, Carlo Scali floated a free-kick to the far post which was nodded down by Jones in the direction of Halpin, but he was unable to get the ball under control thanks to the presence of Dunlop. Equally determined to see Swan increase the margin was Damian Scali who took the team into attack at every opportunity with some lovely breaks from the middle of the park.
Mirco was still trying to inspire his teammates onto greatness in the centre but was getting little response. A blinding run in the 54th minute was bought top a crunching halt by Chris Perks with what can only be described as a blatant shirt-front, and the Swan defender duly became one of nine players to have their names taken tonight by referee Michael Klaver. So many bookings would suggest a somewhat bruising encounter, but this was not the case as Klaver tried to assert his authority on the game simply by handing out yellow cards. All too often players were pulled up for little more than trivial offences as he time and again interferred with the flow of the game in a rather poor refereeing display.
Two minutes after Mirco was booked, City defender Evans was pulled up for handball just outside his teams' defensive area. Halpin wasted no time in waiting for the wall to get properly organised and sweetly sent the ball sailing into the far top corner of Dunlop's goal. City now looked dead and buried, two goals down and unable to get a grip on proceedings. But coach Stuart Kamasz is not someone to be taken lightly and an inspired 53rd minute double substitution - on came John Ferreira and Joe Liguan - saw the game swing back in City's favour.
Liguan was quickly in the action, out-witting an opponent to find Morgan who, surrounded by three defenders, somehow squirted the ball to Dale Wingell but he sent it a good 10-metres clear of the target. A few minutes later Centurion wasn't troubled when Liguan scuffed his shot on the run. But in the 64th the teenager finished a lovely flowing move which featured four City players to put his side back in the contest. Started at the back by De Bartolo, Mirco ran the ball through the middle before slotting to Wingell who in turn sent Liguan through on goal. And despite the attentions of two defenders, the young striker showed great composure to knock the ball over the advancing 'keeper to make it 2-3.
Swan were by now punch-drunk as City tightened their hold on the match. Opportunities were few and far between for Swan as City's defence effectively cut their forward-line out of the game. The black and whites only chance over the final 20 minutes saw some great individual work from Halpin to get past De Bartolo and go inside the area, only for the striker to finish poorly. City were enjoying the majority of possession, creating chance after chance and you had to question whether Swan would be able to hold on to their lead until the final whistle.
Nine minutes before full-time that was answered when Wingell bagged the goal of the night. He showed great ball control to cut between two defenders, then curled it around Centurion from 14-metres to level the scores. Sensing the game was theirs for the taking, City cranked it up a notch in the search for a winner. Swan's only response was to bottle up their defence, make it difficult for the City's forwards and hope to take home one point. But even employing this tactic, Ferreira was allowed space to send a stinging shot narrowly wide from 14-metres, and in the 76th minute Liguan's 15-metre drive was luckily blocked by Dejan Mlinar's out-stretched leg.
The final whistle saw a dejected Swan side trudge from the park. They knew the game was in the bag with little over 15 minutes left, only to throw it away by allowing their opponents back into the contest. For their part, City should have had the game wrapped up before the break, ruing several missed opportunities early in the game and, just when all looked lost at 1-3 down, a fine tactical move from Kamasz saw them control the closing stages and draw level. But it was a case of too little too late for City who now have a marginal chance of qualifying for the semi-finals, while Swan face an up-hill battle to overcome Floreat Athena in order to progress.
Post-match, City coach Stuart Kamasz was not happy with the way his side feel asleep mid-match, but was still able to draw a lot of positives from the game. "I was very disappointed the way we played, particularly the way we fell away after a good start," Kamasz said. "Even though we had a few injuries and Craig Surtees out suspended, we should have put Swan away after such a good start. I was very unhappy with our midfielders who failed to dictate and allowed Swan to get back in the game." Kamasz was also unimpressed with the way in which Swan scored their third goal. "My players were a little bemused - the referee had been telling them all night to wait for the whistle on numerous free-kicks, and then allowed a quick free-kick to be taken from which Swan scored!"
Fremantle City : Alan Dunlop, Cesare De Bartolo, Dave Evans, Daniel Trim, Anthony Perreira, Cisco
Jorquerez (John Ferreira 53), Dale Wingell, Will Pryce, Michael Mirco (Dean Wallace 68), Trim Morgan,
Kevin Correia (Joe Liguan 53)
Swan I.C. : Pablo Centurion, Dejan Mlinar, Chris Perks (Darren Freeman 68), Justin Everley, Anthony Jones, Rory Mouttet, Damian Scali, Justin Hugo (Terry Nicolaou 13), Tony Scali, Peter Vukmirovic (Eddie Mura 61), Scott Halpin
Referee : Michael Klaver
Cautions : Evans (1), Everley (26), Pryce (47), Correia (53), Perks (54), Jones (59), Morgan (68), Wallace (80), Halpin (80)
Dismissals : None
Attendance : 300 (approx.)
The late game saw a Bassendean Caledonian outfit playing for little more than pride take on Cockburn City. With the bye next week, City were desperate to take home full points to wrap up a spot in the play-offs, and erase the memory of last week's 4-1 hammering at the hands of Floreat Athena. After a scrappy opening period in which neither side was able to do a lot with the ball, City took the lead when Peter Petkovic raced through the middle to knock a low shot past Tommi Tomich in the 16th minute. The goal burst Caledonian's bubble and City controlled the game through their midfield. In quick succession, Petkovic, Paul Cooke and Branimir Mikulic all had good opportunities to extend the margin without luck. There was little else to get excited about until the closing stages of the half which started when Caledonian drew level courtesy of a defensive error. A 33rd minute corner was poorly cleared and, with the defence racing out of the dangerzone, Ian Griffith knocked it back over their heads for Garin Collins to run onto, round Jeff Cargill and slot into an empty net. Within two minutes City restored their lead after Tomich brought down Branimir Mikulic inside the box - Mikulic taking the spot-kick himself and sending Tomich the wrong way. In the 37th minute Collins turned villain when he was dismissed for a shocking late challenge on Christian Alvarez. With the break fast approaching City had two golden chances to go further ahead. Branimir Mikulic knocked the ball over the bar from close-range when it seemed a much easier a proposition to hit the back of the net. Then Antonio Naglieri beat Tomich to a high ball but sent his header the wrong side of the post.
Despite re-shuffling his line-up at the break, Barry Smith's side went 3-1 down five minutes after the re-start when Branimir Mikulic dummied way past two opponents before thumping the ball under Tomich's body. Caledonian responded immediately by going straight into attack, but Ian Griffith was disappointed when he finished a flowing move by knocking the ball over the bar from 14-metres. However, City were to totally dominate the remainder for the game, their opponents only managing a few forays forward where they were met by a resilient defence. In the 57th minute Branimir Mikulic and Alvarez combined to split wide open the Caledonian, Petkovic making the most of his opportunity to knock in their fourth of the night. 4-1 would be the final score, but it should have been much greater as City saw numerous chances go begging - especially after their opponents were reduced to nine players with the 65th minute sending off of Ian Griffith. Branimir Mikulic sent a close-range header over the bar. Substitute Damir Mikulic was slow to react after rounding Luke Croxall and Tomich pinched the ball from under his feet. With four minutes left on the clock Naglieri skied his shot after some lovely lead-up work which involving Simon Henderson, Melita Meletic and Branimir Mikulic. And in the final minute Damir Mikulic was allowed a free shot on goal after a partially cleared corner, blasting a superb volley which whizzed past the near post.
Perth maintained their push for a place in the Night Series semi-finals with a nail-biting 3-2 win over ECU Joondalup in Sunday's early fixture. Young wing-back Todd Howarth gave Perth the start they needed when he found the net after less than a minutes play. Not to be out-done, Joondalup struck with two quick goals from Stuart Montgomery, both low drives, to go in front with little over quarter of an hour gone. Shortly after Nick Mrdja levelled the contest with a lovely piece of individual magic. Shortly after the re-start, livewire Perth forward Boni Botha sent his header wide of the Joondalup 'keeper with what would turn out to be the winner. Post-match, Joondalup coach Paul Simmons was in two minds about the way his side performed. "We were disappointed in the end result, a loss 2-3 which we truly believed we deserved something out of it. The disappointing factor was the way in which we conceded the first two goals, I mean we allowed Nick Mrdja to turn with the ball and then run across the face of goal unchallenged. But what was pleasing was the two goals we scored were from set pieces that we worked on last week and both paid off, the long throw and a corner," Simmons said.
Ryan Jeans stayed ice cool to score the penalty that ultimately set up Sorrento's victory over the Western Knights in Sunday's late game. The match was just 6 minutes old when the first chance was created by Sorrento's Jared Love, he got behind the Knight's defence to cut the ball back, Ryan Jeans dummied for the in-rushing Todd Harnwell but his volley was too high to trouble Damon Sluchniak. The Knights first opportunity came three minutes later when Scott Devine put a ball over for Michael Roki to shoot, and Neil Young in the Sorrento goal did well to hold the shot. A swift attacking move on 18 minutes was started by Richard Turnbull who advanced from his sweeper role and ended with Harnwell blasting his shot straight to Sluchniak. The break finally through came after 20 minutes when Michael Garcia slotted to Harnwell and his cross from the right picked out Love who controlled the ball before powering in a low shot for the opening goal. Nine minutes later Sorrento doubled their lead when Stuart Banks ran from the back before slipping the ball through to Harnwell who shot low pass the sprawling Sluchniak. The Knights should have reduced the deficit two minutes before the break but Roki shot over the bar after latching on to a Eugene Singeorzan cross from the right.
Seven minutes after the restart the Knights were back in the match after Tom Radic beat the off side trap before racing on to beat Young. Then eight minutes later, they were surprisingly back on level terms - a goal mouth scramble ended when Turnbull's attempt to clear from the goal line ricocheted off the body of Singeorzan for the equaliser. In the 65th minute Glen Thomas headed back across goal for Harnwell, who had started the move, to power in a close range header that was goal bound until the intervention of Ivan Zuvela's hand. After a delay which saw the Knights defender expelled, Jeans kept his calm to send the spot-kick to Sluchniak's left and make it 3-2 to Sorrento. Coach Trevor Morgan introduced substitute Toby Wright to give his side fresh legs after 69 minutes, and he was immediately in the thick of the action. Leon Russell's mis-kick put Wright clear on goal with only the 'keeper to beat, but he opted to pass rather than go it alone and Garcia ended up shooting into the legs of Sluchniak. A minute later, it was Wright who crossed from the right for Garcia to control before calmly slotting home to make the three points secure for Sorrento. They now go into their final group match against Inglewood United next weekend knowing that another win is required to get them to the semi-finals.
FOUR ENTICING CLASHES
This weekend's four Night Series games are expected to play a big part in the make-up of this years' finals series which gets underway in a fortnight's time. The opening Friday night clash between Swan I.C. and Fremantle City promises to be a corker with both sides needing victory to stay in the hunt for a play-off berth. Third-placed Swan chalked up their first seven days ago by accounting for ECU Joondalup in less than convincing fashion, while fourth-placed Fremantle are winless after two games. Unfortunately, a win on Sunday night to Perth will most likely mean a result either way here is little more than academic. Cockburn City are favoured to down an improving Bassendean Caledonian in the late fixture, the former looking to hold on to their hopes of a play-off berth while the latter are current ensconced at the foot of the Group B ladder without a point to their credit.
Perth will be looking to bounce back from last week's loss to Floreat Athena - who have a bye this week - with a big win over Joondalup, and wrap up second spot on the Group A ladder in the process. Joondalup, who are yet to hit their straps this season, will find an in-form Perth outfit a very difficult nut to crack and need to subdue young striker Andreas Oliviera, who has scored in each of his club's Night series fixtures, if they want any chance of victory. Sorrento defeated Bassendean last week to move into third-place on the Group B table, just three points behind Cockburn who will have a bye on the final weekend of group-stage competition. Sorrento's Sunday night opponents are Western Knights who are struggling for consistency and will miss suspended pair John Nicolaou and Alex Christie who were red-carded against Cockburn a fortnight ago.
KAMASZ TO GAMBLE WITH YOUNGSTERS
Fremantle City coach Stuart Kamasz is ready to throw 16-year-old striker Cisco Jorquerez into the deep end by naming him in his side's starting line-up for tonight's make-or-break clash with Swan I.C. at the Litis Stadium. City must defeat Swan, and hope that ECU Joondalup can surprise Perth on Sunday, in order for Kamasz's team to advance. "This is a crunch game," Kamasz said on the eve of the game. "Craig Surtees is missing (through suspension) and Evan Wallace is injured. Cisco might well start, he has been challenging for a run." It is expected that new-signing Will Pryce and versatile youngster Daniel Trim will also feature heavily in Kamasz's plans.
Having taken just one point from their opening two Night series games, the City coach is well aware that only a resounding win will give his side any hope of making the play-off stage of the competition. With semi-final appearances in the two years and reigning Premier League champions, City's start has come as a bit of a shock to Kamasz, particularly the 4-0 defeat at the hands of Floreat Athena after the opening round 2-2 draw with Perth S.C. However, the coach is not about to lose any sleep over his side's pre-season form, "I thought we played well against Perth [and] the last game was a blitz, but I am not taking much note. We had a man sent off in the fourth minute and gave them two gifts."
CHANGE AT BAYSWATER
There has been a changing of the guard at First Division Bayswater City, who were demoted last season after 17 years in the state's top flight. They are at the current time under-going a major behind-the-scenes re-structure which as seen the recent departure of several prominent, long-serving members of the club's board. On the playing field the club have lost several key players from last season's squad. Premier League Player of the Year Alan MacKenzie is yet to return from holidays in Scotland, young goalkeeper Beni Pietropiccolo has joined Inglewood United, defender Michael Icanovski is back with Perth after 12 months with the Panthers, and experienced flank player Jason Van Rooy has moved to Bassendean Caledonian.
City are looking towards their future and have strengthened their junior ranks with the establishment of an academy set-up which is being overseen by development coach John Birrighitti. Interested players between 7 and 16-years of age are asked to contact new junior chairperson Maria Tancredi on 9275 7204 for further details of the program.
CALLS TO KEEP STANGE IN WA
Despite boasting the best record of any NSL coach since joining Perth Glory in 1998, Bernd Stange's future with the NSL club is again up in the air after recent indications that his current 12-month contract, which expires on 3rd June, will not be renewed. Acting quickly, Soccer Administration of W.A. president Paul Afkos and Soccer West Coast general manager Paul Tombides have both hinted that they may be able to offer the German something to keep his talents in W.A.
A 25% share-holder in Glory, Afkos has said that everything possible should be done to keep Stange in this state. "I would like to see the new Minister for Sport and his advisers get together with Bernd to make sure he is not lost to W.A.," Afkos said this week. "He's an asset. He should be utilised in some role - that is, of course, if he is not given a new contract by the Glory. I believe he is now the soccer icon of Australia. He has lifted the profile of the game immensely. He has become a marketing tool that has introduced our State to many European countries, with TV crews coming to Perth every other month to interview Bernd and take back wonderful images of W.A."
Soccer West Coast general manager Paul Tombides has also indicated that his body might consider offering Stange a job should he part company with Glory. "W.A. soccer should do everything in its power to keep Bernd here. He has touched the hearts of neutrals," Tombides said. "We will try to do something with him - and maybe even create a job for him. Soccer in W.A. is growing and we need someone like Bernd to help that growth."
WHITE EAGLES DOWN RIVALS
The Dianella White Eagles recorded their first win in preparation for the up-coming First Division season on the weekend, defeating north-of-the-river rivals Wanneroo City 2-1. Played in extremely hot conditions, the White Eagles took the lead after Zelko Savic was brought down in the box for hard-earned penalty that was duly converted. Courtesy of some sloppy defending, City clawed their way back into the contest to pull level. However, the White Eagles proved to be too strong for their opponents and dominated the remainder of the match, the winner coming after 40 minutes when Dragan Radojevic finished off a beautifully executed attack. The White Eagles had several chances to extend their lead but were denied by some excellent goalkeeping from the young Wanneroo custodian.
In other club news, the White Eagles are said to be negotiating terms with Mario Lucic and Pedja Jovanovic for the up-coming winter campaign. 17-year old Lucic was last season with Premier League Inglewood United, while Jovanovic was part of the Stirling Suns push for the First Division title.
ARMADALE AIM FOR IMPROVED SEASON
Perennial strugglers Armadale are hopeful of making the end of season play-offs and, with a bit more consistency, could well be up there come September. New coach Billy Russell has assembled a strong squad for the winter campaign and is looking to lift the club away from the bottom rungs of the First Division ladder for the first time in four years.
On Saturday morning Armadale traveled north of the river to take on First Division rivals Perth City which saw honours shared over two entertaining games. In the senior clash played in stifling heat, Armadale were limited to using only 13 players - including coach Russell - due to injury and cricketing commitments and were unlucky to go down 1-2, Bryon Bull again finding the net for the visitors. Goals from Justin Abbott, Steve McKean and Steve Sauzier ensured a 3-1 win to Armadale in the reserves game.
NIGHT SERIES, WEEKEND THREE (ECU Joondalup vs Swan I.C, Floreat Athena vs Perth, and
Cockburn City vs Inglewood United reports provided by Community Newspapers reporter Mike Hennessey)
Bassendean Caledonian and Sorrento went into Friday night's game desperate for maximum points after both lost their opening round encounters over the preceding weekends. With promising youngster Tommi Tomich in New Zealand as Perth Glory's back-up 'keeper, Caledonian's hopes took a further bruising pre-match when the international clearance of new-signing Mark Lennon failed to come through in time from Qatar. Despite missing Tony Cumace due to injury, Sorrento were pre-match favourites with several season experience in the state's top flight weighing heavily in their advantage.
Caledonian kicked-off in front of a small crowd and were immediately forced back into defence as Sorrento showed from the outset that they meant business. Jared Love should have opened the scoring in the 3rd minute, meeting a low cross from the left by Gary Andrews to side-foot wide from 6-metres. Four minutes later new-comer Michael Garcia hit a cracking shot from the top of the area which flew past veteran 'keeper Willie McNally, only to come back off the underside of the crossbar. Shortly after defender Richard Mills dashed down the left before squaring to Toby Wright on the opposite side of the area, who placed his shot high.
It was all one-way traffic as Sorrento controlled play, Caledonian rarely seeing enough of the ball go get into their attacking half. With 13 minutes gone, Sorrento took a deserved lead in rather controversial style. David Colegate knocked the ball long down the right for Love - who was a good couple of metres off-side at the time - to run onto, and with McNally advancing to narrow the angle the midfield kept his head and tucked it past the 'keeper to make it 1-0. The Caledonian defence had every right to feel aggrieved when the goal was allowed to stand, but really they should have played to the whistle rather than wait for it, leaving their 'keeper exposed in the process.
It was largely down the flanks that Sorrento found it possible to get into attack with ease, Andrews and Todd Harnwell in particular flying past their opposite numbers to run the ball forward. For their part, Caledonian were taking far too long to play the ball and often found themselves conceding possession unnecessarily. Playing with one recognised striker against Sorrento's three-man defence, it was always going to be a tough ask of Barry Smith's men who relied almost exclusively on the quick counter-attack. Twice in the space of a few minutes Gary James raced clear of the defence and onto bouncing balls, only for the striker to thump the ball over the bar on both occasions.
With half-time approaching, Sorrento went in search of a second goal order to deliver their opponents a killer blow. Harnwell out-paced the defence after 27 minutes but hit the ball wide of the target. Less than a minute later Love smashed the ball against the left post having found a way past McNally - the rebound flew to Shaun Bowyer who crashed it into the base of the right up-right before the defence could scramble it to safety. Caledonian were under pressure in defence with no let-up in sight. Love saw his header from point-blank range tipped over the bar by McNally after 32 minutes. And a few minutes later Harnwell again sped onto a long clearance to send a grass-cutter shot from 15-metres which McNally showed great agility to turn around the post.
The second half started with Sorrento straight back into attack. But Caledonian coach Smith had some stern words for his troops at the break and a more confident defence greeted their opponents. Martin Woodall, George Ramm and half-time replacement Kevin Smith played as a cohesive defensive unit and thwarted several enterprising attacks to limit Sorrento's chances in front of goal. In the 50th minute Glenn Thomas skied the ball over after some great lead-up work involving Love and Garcia. Two minutes later Thomas was given a golden opportunity to put his side two-up when Ramm badly mis-timed a clearance, but with a free shot on goal the Sorrento midfielder sent it wide.
With their defence showing clear signs of improvement, the Caledonian midfield now took hold of the game and lead the side back into the game with steely determination. Realising the game was still very much in the balance, Kevin Griffiths and Jason Van Rooy made their mark by driving the side into attack time and time again. Some great lead-up play featuring Paul Strudwick and James in the 55th minute saw the former's shot deflected goalward by Stuart Banks, and Neil Young conceded the corner. Played deep, it fell to Van Rooy whose thumping shot sounded a very loud warning bell for the Sorrento players. A couple of minutes later Damian Feszcar sent Kevin Griffiths clear down the right and, spotting Young off his line, brilliantly chipped the 'keeper only for the ball to land on the top netting.
With the tide having turned in favour of the 1st Division champions, Caledonian were quick to knock the ball to feet and create opportunities to get behind the opposing defence. With 15 minutes left Kevin Griffiths' long-range effort sailed into the arms of Young, then substitute Kevin Smith volleyed across the face of goal after meeting a deep corner. With time fast running out, Sorrento went into defensive mode and Young proved their saviour on more than one occasion. James was released down the right in the 72nd minute and forced the 'keeper into a fantastic sprawling save which he somehow kept out of the net. Van Rooy played the resulting corner to the top of the area where Smith cleared the bar with plenty of time to line up his shot. Another dead-ball situation on the right saw Van Rooy float it to the far post, Ramm got on the end of it only to direct his downward header into the arms of an expectant Young. In a final-minute attempt to take something from the game, left-winger Garin Collins' saw his speculative long-range effort scooped up by Young with what would prove to be the last attack of the night.
At the end of 80 minutes it was definitely a match of two quite distinct halves. Sorrento held the upper-hand over the opening period, rarely allowing their opponents time to think on the ball and laying siege on the Caledonian goal. After an even start to the second half, Caledonian took the game by the scruff of the neck in their quest to get back on level terms, bombarding Young's goal with wave after wave of attack only for a lack of quality finishing to be their downfall. Sorrento were lucky to hold on to their controversial half-time lead and record their first win of the Night Series, keeping alive their hopes of progressing to the play-off stage of the competition in the process.
Bassendean Caledonian : Willie McNally, Martin Woodall, Aaron Moscopoulos (Kevin Smith 40), George Ramm,
Damian Feszcar (Garin Collins 65), Jason Van Rooy, Ian Griffiths, Marco Schiano, Kevin Griffiths,
Paul Strudwick (Ivica Markovic 65), Gary James
Sorrento : Neil Young, David Colegate, Richard Mills, Stuart Banks, Gary Andrews, Todd Harnwell, Shaun Bowyer, Glenn Thomas, Jared Love (Ross Greer 55), Michael Garcia, Toby Wright (Ryan Jeans 55)
Referee : Steve Muldoon
Cautions : None
Dismissals : None
Attendance : 250 (approx.)
In the following match, Swan I.C. earnt themselves full points for the first time this season by beating ECU Joondalup 2-1. In a hard, physical encounter, the first 20 minutes produced a stalemate with both defences on top. Swan gradually gained the upper hand through the slick combination of Scott Halpin and Peter Vukmirovic. They produced the first decent chance of the game after 21 minutes, Vukmirovic heading on for Halpin to lob goalkeeper Peter Stewart only to see the ball just go over the bar. The pair's clever play gave Damian Scali a chance shortly after but his shot hit the post and was scrambled away. A cross from Vukmirovic was then headed narrowly wide by Halpin and Swan were unlucky not to have taken the lead. In the 27th minute a counterattack by Joondalup enabled Sandy Robertson - who passed a late fitness test - to go clear, and the skilful Scot gave Swan custodian Frank Letizia no chance with a shot into the bottom corner of the net to give his side a 1-0 lead. But within three minutes Swan were back on level terms - this time Halpin's delicate chip cleared the 'keeper and dropped into the net. Swan were clearly the better side but could not add to their score and had to be content with a 1-1 half-time scoreline.
The start of the second period was delayed when the referee requested Swan change their black and dark green strip for their better-known black and white one - after half the match Jeremy Oliphant had decided there was a colour clash with Joondalup's navy blue shirts! Much of the second half was a comedy of errors as both sides repeatedly gave the ball away. Swan were also continuously caught offside and only Halpin went close with a long range drive. Down the other end Swan relied on Letizia who thwarted Joondalup with several top quality saves. It was not until the game neared its end that Swan took the lead when Rory Mouttet's centring ball set up Eddie Mura who brought a fine save from Stewart, and from the ensuring corner Halpin superbly hooked the ball into the net to give his side a 2-1 victory.
On a sultry Sunday night at the Litis Stadium there were goals aplenty to entertain fans at the 2001 Night Series. In the early stages of the first match Inglewood United looked to be heading for defeat against Cockburn City with the latter controlling the game for the first 20 minutes. City took a deserved lead when Cristian Alvarez took advantage of a goalkeeping error to tap home the first goal. Against the run of play United equalised after 25 minutes - a quick break saw Andy Cornwall spirit the ball to Elton Holmes who drove it low into the net. A second was to follow after 31 minutes, John Bartolomei going through the centre to slot home and put United into a 2-1 lead. City came back and young 'keeper Jordan Conti was forced to make two fine saves - from Antonio Naglieri and Dean Gartside - to ensure United went into the half-time break with their 2-1 lead intact. They began the second half in attack - Cornwall again finding Holmes with a through ball and the striker shot home for his second and the side's third goal with 48 minutes gone. City's reply brought a great save out of substitute goalkeeper Beni Pietropiccolo but they were unable to seriously threaten again. After two earlier unsuccessful shots on goal, substitute Louis Parkinson added United's fourth in the 71st minute when he slotted home amid claims of off-side. The three points took United to the top of the Group B table, undefeated after three outings and now all-but guaranteed a place the finals.
Ryan Newhill gave the Perth-Athena game an explosive start when, in the third minute, he raced through the middle and unleashed an unstoppable 25-yard drive to put Athena into the lead. In a fast, and at times, physical encounter Perth were quick to reply and John Xigas was forced to make three fine saves in quick succession. A poor clearance gave Robin Dyers the chance to hammer a powerful drive past a hapless Robert Scarparolo in the Perth goal and double Athena's lead. Perth had their chances but it was not until midway through the second half that Andreas Oliviera headed home to reduce the arrears to 2-1 after 62 minutes. Any hope of Perth getting back on equal terms were quickly squashed when Dyers crashed home a spectacular volley two minutes later to put Athena into a commanding 3-1 lead. The win maintains Athena's place on top of Group A but Perth still have it all to do to gain a semi-final spot.
"MUST WIN" GAMES TONIGHT
Tonight's two Night Series games are "must win" affairs for all four sides involved. In the Group B clash, which gets underway at 6.45pm, Sorrento face Bassendean Caledonian and with the sides currently holding up the table, both will be after maximum points in order to stay in touch with the leaders. Caledonian will be hoping that new-signing Mark Lennon's clearance comes through in time for him to take the field. The 26-year old Scot has been playing club football in Qatar after previous spells in his homeland with Queen of the South and Carlisle as well as Coventry City (England). With regular custodian Tommi Tomich in New Zealand with the Perth Glory squad, veteran 'keeper Willie McNally has been re-called to a side which should be close to full-strength with Gary James, George Ramm and Kevin Smith all recovered from injury. Sorrento will be looking to get back on track after a shock first round defeat to Cockburn City and big efforts are expected from Michael Garcia and flankers Gary Andrews and Todd Harnwell.
It's do-or-die time in the Group A fixture also where Swan I.C. - losers to Perth 0-2 seven days ago - meet ECU Joondalup who had the benefit of a bye last week. Like the early game, a potential place in the play-offs is on the line for the victor, while for the vanquished it'll mean an early end to their Night Series campaign. Swan were disappointing last week and will be looking for a vast improvement on that performance, while Joondalup are hoping to erase the memory of the 0-1 defeat at the hands of Floreat Athena to a fortnight ago.
Sunday is shaping up to be a cracker with the top two sides from each group playing one-another. Kicking-off at 6.15pm, Cockburn City and Inglewood United are both coming off big wins last weekend over Western Knights and Caledonian respectively and another victory for either side should see them secure a play-offs berth. In the late match it's Perth against Athena in what is being billed as a Grand Final preview. Perth convincingly defeated Swan last Friday and will be looking to make it back-to-back wins, but they will have their work cut out against an in-from Athena outfit who are yet to concede a goal in the pre-season competition.
ALL THE OFF-SEASON MOVES
There has been plenty of activity on the local transfer market over the summer months with over two dozen players from the Premier League ranks switching clubs. Boral Cup holders the Western Knights have lost promising midfielder Joe Vaz, now playing in the Victorian State League with Altona, but picked up W.A. defender Steve MacDonald from Inglewood United. Perth Glory apprentice goalkeeper Tommi Tomich will be on loan to Bassendean Caledonian, Inglewood have secured the services of State squad member Louis Parkinson, and flying left-winger Adrian Spinelli will spend the winter with Floreat Athena. Other big-name moves include one-time Perth Glory pair Scott Halpin and Peter Vukmirovic who have joined Swan I.C., while Sorrento have picked up talented youngsters Gary Andrews and Michael Garcia. For a more comprehensive wrap of who has gone where read the 2001 Off-Season Players Movements page.
TOUGH TIMES FOR ARMADALE
The pre-season continues for First Division Armadale who last night went down 3-2 to Queens Park, Steve Cann bagging a double. On Sunday they played host to a young reserves side from Premier League Inglewood United when Bryon Bull scored the lone goal in the 1-2 win by the visitors. Earlier in the day Armadale's reserves drew with United's Under-18 outfit 1-1, Peter Lord finding the net for the home team.
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This page was last updated on the 30th April, 2001