PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND THIRTEEN (Perth vs Sorrento report provided by Kerry Slater)
A much depleted Floreat Athena side welcomed Swan I.C, who are winless so-far this winter, to the the Litis Stadium on Saturday. Out of action for the home side were long-serving 'keeper John Xiags (knee), midfielders George Tiniakos (knee), Doug Ithier (ankle), and Adrian Spinelli (ankle), and new-signing Dave Evans (hamstring). Even without these players the home side were expected to make light work of Swan after winning eight of their past ten fixtures. In total contrast was Swan's form, twelve games for three points and just ten goals this season. And while these results tend disagree, the black and white's have shown improvement in recent times only to be frustrated by an inability to put the ball past the 'keeper - which, at the end of the day, is what the game is all about.
The home side started the more lively of the two but for all their possession could not do much with the ball. Reliant on breaking quickly on the counter-attack, Swan managed to expose the frailties of the home defence with regularity, but without success. Their best chance came when Brian Robertson ran onto a lobbed ball played over the defence after 7 minutes, going forward with Nigel Aubin and Justin Hugo to his right and Troy Bernard the only defender in sight. But instead of releasing one of his free teammates, the striker took on Bernard who timed his tackle perfectly and goalkeeper Anthony Mori scooped up the loose ball.
The longer the game went the better Swan looked, but despite their increasing dominance the visitors rarely called Mori into action. In the middle Carlo Scali and Ross Holtom controlled the flow of play with some great distribution and reading of the play, while down the right flank Michael Gronnow consistently beat his opponent as the side went forward. After 13 minutes Mori vented his anger at his teammates after they allowed Damian Scali to stroll through the middle without meeting resistance before unleashing a 20-metre bomb which went narrowly wide of the 'keeper's right post.
It took until the quarter-hour mark before Athena created any worry for Swan 'keeper Corey Hugo. In a comical situation, the 'keeper twice muffed a clearance outside the area thanks to pressure from Robyn Dyers, the lanky striker then stole possession only to be forced wide by Justin Everley happily conceded a corner with his 'keeper still well out of position. Twelve minutes later, and completely against the run of play, the home side took the lead with their second attack. Costa Socratous rounded one defender and threw another off with a wiggle of the hips to open up a path to goal, his low drive striking the base of the up-right and in a flash Dyers had whipped it in from close range.
Deflated after dominating only to go a goal behind, Swan kept their heads and pressed hard to get back on level terms for the remainder of the half. Damian Scali lifted the ball over the bar from long range after good lead-up work from Aubin and Gronnow in the 32nd minute. Four minutes later Aubin's low drive was deflected wide by Jason Smith. Shortly after Aubin's chip over Mori was kept out by a desperate Peter Nikoloski clearance on the line. The Scali brothers combined in the 39th minute, Damian rising unchallenged to flick Carlo's in-swinging free-kick narrowly wide of the post. And three minutes before the interval Aubin's low drive saw Mori's reflexes tested courtesy of a Bernard deflection.
Late in the half Swan lost the inspirational Holtom to injury and veteran striker Aubin didn't re-appear after the interval. Neither change interrupted Swan's game play as they continued their offensive. Within a minute of the re-start substitute Paul Borg raced away down the right to sent an inch-perfect cross to Carlo Scali at the far post, but he nodded it wide unaware that he probably had the time to bring it under control before shooting. Sixty seconds later the same two players combined, this time Scali's shot from a tight angle finding the side netting.
Having spent five minutes doing nothing other than defend, Athena turned things around and enjoyed their period in control. Ryan Newhill raced past Everley then danced around Dean Mlinar to open up the angle but skied his close-range shot with only Corey Hugo to beat. In the 52nd minute Adrian Sutton's cross was met solidly by Dyers but Darren Freeman also got a touch as it went out for a corner. The ball was floated into the heart of the area where Newhill rose highest, his header sheering the wrong side of the post. Athena were back in the game and looking dangerous.
The home crowd were vocal in letting their disapproval known after Athena squandered three good chances in quick succession, but in the 55th minute they had nothing but praise for their side when the margin was doubled. An advancing Swan defence was caught flat-footed when Socratous chipped it back over their heads and Dyers' flicked an explosive header past Corey Hugo despite pleas for off-side. Steve Muldoon ignored the calls and allowed the goal to stand, thus making the only mistake in an otherwise faultless performance by the referee.
The goal breathed new life into Athena who knew another goal would kill of the game as a contest. And it would have been 3-0 not long after if not for the agility of Corey Hugo who made a brillant flying save to keep out Newhill's close-range volley. In the 66th minute Dyers weaved past three defenders in a weaving run which took him along the top of the 18-yard box before being halted by a no-nonsense tackle from Everley. It was a clear warning not to under estimate the home strikers, and just a minute later the followed with the killer blow. Newhill out-paced the Swan defence to get to a long ball played from the halfway line, dummied his way past Corey Hugo and blasted it into the back of the net despite the best efforts of a fast backtracking Mlinar.
Conceding two goals in the space of 12 minutes would have left most sides shattered, but knowing their season was very much on the line Swan had no time to entertain such thoughts. The visitors wrestled back control of the game but, try as they may, could not peg a goal back. Carlo Scali's rising shot from 15-metres flew high after some superb footwork from Gronnow. Christian Maroochi then fought hard to retain possession and lay it off to Damian Scali whose shot from 16-metres went straight the Mori. Swan must have known in the 79th minute that, for the thirteenth time this season, it was not to be their day when Carlo Scali's lob over the 'keeper ended up the wrong side of the bar.
As was the case for much of the game, the closing stages were spent in Swan's attacking half but they were unable to capitalise as Athena's well-organised defence effectively shut them down time and time again. It was the story of Swan's day - they dominated possession but when it came to sticking the ball in the back of the net they ran into a brick wall. It was no surprise then that the final attack of the game went to Athena. Corey Hugo parried Miguel Ortin's low shot, Dyers pounced on the loose ball and Mlinar made a desperate clearance off the line.
In an entertaining game Swan showed that their low Premier League ranking is not a true indication of their abilities, only to be consistently let down by a failure to net. Captain Damian Scali put in a man-of-the-match effort, while others deserving of praise were sweeper Mlinar and Gronnow, who gave 100% for the entire 90 minutes. For Athena it was the ever-reliable Bernard who stood out, along with Smith in midfield. While the 3-0 final score may have flattered Athena's performance, the fact remains that they grabbed their chances and made their opponents pay dearly for their misses. Attacking forays may have been scattered, but when they did get forward Athena made evident that the difference between a top three and a bottom three side this season is only a matter of finishing.
Floreat Athena : Anthony Mori, Troy Bernard, Peter Nikoloski, Jamie D'Arcy (Andreas Pantelis 76),
Jason Smith, Costa Socratous (Manuel Arapis 79), Miguel Ortin, Adrian Sutton, Peter Coci,
Ryan Newhill (Hugh Miller 67), Robyn Dyers
Swan I.C. : Corey Hugo, Dean Mlinar, Justin Everley, Darren Freeman, Michael Gronnow, Justin Hugo (Christian Marocchi 67), Ross Holtom (Paul Borg 41), Damian Scali, Carlo Scali, Brian Robertson, Nigel Aubin (Eddie Mura 46)
Referee : Steve Muldoon
Cautions : None
Dismissals : None
Attendance : 125 (approx.)
Title contenders Perth and Sorrento were evenly matched over the opening period of their game played out on a heavy, bumpy surface at Dorrien Gardens. The visitor's Shaun Bowyer fell victim to a hamstring injury in the 26th minute and was replaced by David Colegate. Two minutes later Perth Glory striker Nick Mrdja, back on loan to Perth, flashed his shot across the face of goal. On 34 minutes, Kevin Murphy blocked Mark Pottier's first attempt at a cross from the left, but his second from the rebound found Mrdja unmarked at the far post and he duly slotted the ball home. Sorrento couldn't find their fellow players and gave the ball away too often. The half time deficit would have been greater if central defenders Scott McLeod and Danny Hill hadn't been on top of their game.
The second half didn't start any better for Sorrento as they struggled to keep up. Neil Young saved the visitors from going further behind when he raced out of his area to tackle at the feet of Robbie Gaspar, preventing a breakaway goal in the 55th minute. The introduction of player/coach Trevor Morgan and young Jared Love in the 62nd minute gave Sorrento a controlling forward influence. On 64 minutes Perth 'keeper Robert Scarparolo did well to hold a Ryan Jeans volley. Five minutes later Ross Greer expertly headed a Colegate cross into the path of Hill and he adjusted to steer he ball in at the far post for Sorrento's equaliser. Worse to come for Perth when Todd Harnwell cut in from the right in the 76th minute and pushed the ball across the edge of the area where Greer's dummy allowed Morgan his solidly shoot into the bottom left corner. Two minutes later Mrdja, Perth's liveliest player, had a fine effort held by Young. Love's attempted chip tested Scarparolo in the 70th minute, the 'keeper stretching to turn it away for a corner. Perth's next attack within a minute had Young beaten, but Gaspar's curling shot was wide of the right post from 20-metres. Four minutes into stoppage time the visitors were enraged when referee Mark Oliphant awarded a dubious penalty after Andreas Oliveira, a former Sorrento junior, looked to have dived as Stuart Banks challenged him inside the box. After a moment's hesitation Oliphant pointed to the spot and Mark Pottier calmly converted the penalty to level the scores at two-each and see the two side shared the championship points.
Two late penalties converted by midfielder Sandy Robertson got ECU Joondalup out of gaol against Cockburn City for whom recent addition Dragon Njegic found the target. At Jubilee Reserve, Bassendean Caledonian went down 4-0 to Fremantle City where Dale Wingell scored a hat-trick and Daniel Trim bagged the other. And the only goal of the game from Inglewood United striker Paul Lincoln saw his side record their second win in as many weeks, and get their season back on track, at the expense of the Western Knights.
FIRST DIVISION ROUND-UP (Ashfield vs Kingsway Olympic details provided by Craig Culverwell of the Ashfield website ; Armadale vs Queens Park report provided by Michael Di Pietro)
Kingsway Olympic went into Saturday's First Division (North) meeting at Ashfield full of hope after the recent re-signing of Jamie Trandos and Stuart Montgomery from ECU Joondalup. But it was the home side which started the strongest with Steve Goff slamming the ball past Olympic 'keeper Sam Scutti from close range after less than two minutes to give Ashfield the lead. Not to be out-done, the visitors then went straight into attack and a cross from the left saw Trandos steer his header past Phil Jackson in the Ashfield goal to make it 1-1. In a very entertaining match which saw some enterprising play from both sides, Ashfield went into the break when midfielder Steve Gillibrand hooked the ball in from the left and Steve Goff bagged his second of the day from a header.
After the break the visitors applied the pressure and were back on level terms through Montgomery who connected sweetly with the bouncing ball to chip it over the advancing Jackson. Olympic continued to look the better side as the half progressed and took the lead for the first time after Montgomery beat two players before thundering it into the left hand corner of Ashfield's goal from 22-metres. The goal sparked the home team back into action and shortly after Nathan Salisbury's near-perfect header was amazingly turned over by Scutti. But Ashfield wouldn't have to wait long before getting their third goal, star performer Goff presented with the simplest of tap ins to complete his hat-trick. Olympic looked nervous as the clock ticked down and Ashfield pushed strongly for a late winner which did not arrive, the game ending in a fair 3-3 draw.
With six games remaining in the competition, the four play-off places are still wide with six teams in the running. Sitting in the box seat to make the finals are the Stirling Lions (25 points) and Perth City (23) who battled out a tough 0-0 draw on the weekend. Ashfield (21) are third but breathing down their neck is Dianella White Eagles (20) who accounted for Wanneroo City 2-1, Zoran Barovic and Dragan Radojevic the scorers for the home side. With a game in hand on those above them, Olympic (19) must be happy with their position, while sixth-placed Stirling Suns did their chances no harm when they defeated Bayswater City 3-1.
With just three games to go and three points separating fourth-placed South West Phoenix and fifth-placed Morley Windmills, it didn't take a Rhodes Scholar to figure out their First Division (South) meeting in Bunbury was crucial to the play-off hopes of both teams. The home side didn't take long before showing their hand, a flowing move involving four Phoenix players capped by leading scorer Sasa Garic who slipped past two opponents before despatching a trademark left-footer which left the 'keeper grasping at air as it rippled the back of the net. And the margin doubled in the 25th minute, when Garic released Greg Hayes down the left, the midfielder leaving three opponents in his wake before finding the target from 16-metres. Eight minutes later Garic and Hayes combined only for the latter to volleying over the bar.
Phoenix re-appeared after the interval without Garic (injured) and Andrew Cantoni, replaced by Stephen Waycott and Brett Norrie. For much of the half Phoenix sat back and allowed the visitors to come at them, but Windmills chances were few and far between as the home defence held firm and forced them into shooting from outside the 18-yard box. The home side virtually guaranteed their place in the finals 15 minutes from full-time when Chris Gaynor floated the ball to Steve Rodgers, he in turn relayed it Stephen Suttie who showed great skill in lobbing it over the advancing 'keeper from 22-metres to make it 3-0. Post-match, Phoenix coach Joe Kelly said it was very much a team effort while singling midfielder David Suttie and left-sided player Hayes out for praise.
The top four of the First Division (South) is pretty much decided with two games to go in the home and away season there. Leaders Rockingham City stunned home team Canning City 5-0, Luke Morris bagging a hat-trick with the others coming from Carlos DaCosta and Graham Matthews. Queens Park were held to a thrilling 3-3 draw by mid-table Armadale in the game of the round, while in another high-scoring encounter Leeming Strikers rocked Southside United 7-1. Phoenix' win over Windmills pretty much ensures their place in the play-offs.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND THIRTEEN (IN BRIEF)
After putting in a man-of-the-match effort, Swan I.C. captain Carlo Scali had reason to be disappointed after his side bowed 3-0 to Floreat Athena at Litis Stadium. The visitors deserved at least an equal share of the points after controlling this game for long periods, but their failure to convert their many chances saw Swan go home empty handed.
Perth and Sorrento played out an entertaining 2-2 draw in their top-of-the-table meeting. ECU Joondalup left it until late to consolidate their place in the top half of the table with a 2-1 win over Cockburn City. Fremantle City thumped four past Bassendean Caledonian without reply, and Inglewood United made it two wins in as many weeks when they defeated the Western Knights 1-0.
PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW
The pick of the bunch this Saturday takes place at Dorrien Gardens where League leaders Sorrento are away to second-placed Perth. The Seagulls have won each of their past five encounters, including last week’s 4-3 victory over high-flyers Cockburn City. Perth last lost in early May, since which time they have scored nineteen goals and conceded five in six outings. If these two sides can produce a match half as entertaining as the 3-3 draw they played out earlier in the season then those that turn up are in for a real treat.
Both Cockburn City and ECU Joondalup will be wanting to consolidate their place in the top half of the table by taking full points when they meet at Dalmatinac Park. Finals contenders the Western Knights will also hope to take home three points from their away fixture with Inglewood United. Fremantle City travel to Jubilee Reserve where they face Bassendean Caledonian who could upset their more fancied but out of form opponents. And Floreat Athena shouldn’t be troubled by the so far winless Swan I.C. who recently recalled veteran striker Nigel Aubin.
W.A. YOUNGSTERS MAKING AN IMPRESSION ABROAD
Paul Wright, a former junior with Forrestfield United and Fremantle City, has signed Youth Opportunity Scheme papers with English Premier League side Liverpool where he is about to commence his second season.
Louis Parkinson’s time in the UK has borne fruit with English Premier League side Birmingham City formally inviting the State representative back for the pre-season. It is also believed that at least one NSL side are also seeking the services of Parkinson.
Another Inglewood United youngster, Keith Taylor, returned to England last week to attend the pre-season at Sunderland in the top flight. The defender, who played for ECU Joondalup last year, was part of the W.A. squads which competed in the 2000 Lion City Cup tournament and the National Talent Identification Championships.
2001 KANGA CUP
The Junior Soccer Association of WA are this year sending five State sides to take part in the Kanga Cup, an international youth tournament which is staged annually in Canberra. Played out between 8th and 15th July, W.A. will this year be represented by JSA. Country teams in the Under-17’s, Under-15’s and Under-13’s age groups, along with JSA Metro North and South teams in the Under-14 category. All games will be played at the AIS Multipurpose Fields, AIS Athletics Stadium and the University of Canberra Fields.
The travelling parties for the tournament are -
JSA Metro North, Under-14 : Alexander Bakreski, Stephen Bettella, Cody Bolton, Constandinos Dermedgoglou, Milos Dragic, Dennis Galan, Stuart Hartmann, Robert McDonnell, Adam Morrey, Michael Sfiligoy, Scott Stocks, Tyrone Sutton, Kevin Williams, Rhys Williams and David Wimbridge. The side is coached by Paul Wozny with Greg Hartmann as manager.
JSA Metro South, Under-14 : Alexander Darby, Luke Eoannidis, Joshua Harvey, Daniel Hatley, Simon Hemus, Steven Hesketh, Gerard Keeley, Fraser Marr, Thomas Orme, Byron Page, Oliver Poynter, Lee Radics, Christopher Smith, Alex Waller and Aleksander Zylinski. The team is coached by Stephen Duckworth and managed by Mike Anderton.
JSA Country, Under-13 : Cameron Bond, Todd Dwyer, Matthew Evans Thomson, Lewis Flatt, Joseph George, Matthew Gillespie, Benjamin Hart, David Horton, Kieran Kavanagh, James Monks, Rachan Phanthawee, Patrick Quinn, Andrew Reale, Simon Robinson, Corey Williams and Mohamad Zhody. Gerry McEwan has been appointed coach and will be assisted by managed by Anita Brady.
JSA Country, Under-15 : Darian Anderson, Jaison Bairstow, Joel Davey, Tiago Dugue, Zac Greeve, Matt Maguire, Daniel Morris, Matthew O'Byrne, James Robinson, Jonathon Romeo, Ljupco Taneski, Laze Taneski, Shae Watmore and Matt Waycott. Andy Ross is the coach and Anita Brady manager.
JSA Country, Under-17 : Sebastian Cook, Jarrad Dawson, Gyrall Ganicz, Daniel Howell, Clinton Meyer, John Robertson, Matthew Robinson, Shane Russell, Sebastian Swoboda, Peter Treeby, James Turbitt, Damien Whelan and Clint Yeates. On the officials side of things we have Andy Walsh (coach ) and Anita Brady (Manager)
The 2001 Kanga Cup is sanctioned by Soccer Canberra, Soccer Australia and FIFA. With over 150 teams participating in last years event, it is expected that a similar number will send sides this time around from as far away as the United State, England, Georgia, Fiji, New Zealand, Denmark, South Africa, Russia and, of course, from throughout Australia.
STANGE LIKELY TO RETURN
If the rumour mill is to be believed, we have not seen the last of one-time Perth Glory coach Bernd Stange in Western Australia. Having been officially released by the club on Monday, it has since been reported that the German will return to Perth to coach in the National Soccer League in 18 months’ time if the Western Lightning consortium is successful in it’s bid for the second NSL licence. One of two Perth-based bidders for the license, the Soccer Administration of W.A. have earmarked Stange for the position of State director of coaching.
Speaking with “Australian and British Soccer Weekly” correspondent Richard Kreider, Stange signalled his intentions to return to Perth after his spell in charge of the Oman national team. “I signed just the one-year contract, which is nothing. After the twelve months is up, I’ll be returning to Perth, although I hope to be back earlier to catch up with friends.” He also was confident that the second license would be granted. “I think a second team will come definitely, but it has to be done for the right reasons. If they do it for personal reasons it won’t work. They must do it for soccer, have decent training facilities, money for marketing, do their homework on the players, and then it will work. Besides, I think Perth Glory needs a competitor in this State to generate added interest.”
UNDER-16’s TAKE THIRD IN SINGAPORE
The Western Australian Under-16 team have finished third at the 18th annual Lion City Cup tournament which was held in Singapore last week. It was the first time since 1997 that the side didn’t make the final game of the event.
Once again playing under the moniker Perth FC, the local lads were just three minutes away from losing the opening game of this years event to Singapore at the Queenstown Stadium. The hosts played for much of the game with ten men following the dismissal of goalkeeper Muhamad Yunus Mohamed Ali in the 31st minute, red carded for bringing down striker Scott Royal in a one-on-one situation. The sending off had the effect of firing up the Young Lions and four minutes Khairul Amri lost his marker and sent a blistering 20-metre effort past the outstretched arms of Perth custodian Alan Matteucci to give them the lead.
Singapore lost their momentum after the interval when Khairul had to be substituted after pulling a muscle in his right leg. Perth stepped up the pressure and came close to equalising in the 66th minute through Chris Zarricueta and again four minutes later through Royal, but both failed to capitalise on their one-on-one opportunities. The visitors’ persistence paid off in the 77th minute, winger Bryan Hedges finding Zarricueta alone on the top of the box who expertly lobbed the ball over the head of Singaporean replacement ‘keeper Muhamad Azrul Salleh. In the days’ other Under-16 game, Malaysia’s Bukit Jalil Sports School thrashed Hong Kong 4-0 at Hougang Stadium.
The second day of fixtures kicked-off with hosts Singapore going down 3-0 to Bukit Jalil. Perth got over their opening round jitters by thrashing Hong Kong 5-1 at Bedok Stadium, all but assuring themselves a spot in the decider - or so it seemed. With Singapore defeating Hong Kong 4-0 in the early game, even a narrow loss to the so far undefeated Bukit Jaili would put Perth into the final, and things were looking good with the scores tied at nil-all with 15 minutes remaining. But that was when the Malaysian’s kicked into gear, stunning the side from ‘down under’ with four quick goals to send them tumbling to third on the ladder and into Sunday’s place-off for third and fourth.
The Under-16’s play-off for the minor placings was held in Geylang where Perth met a Hong Kong outfit determined to restore pride after being thumped in all three qualifying games. With the scores tied at 2-2 at the end of regulation time, Perth claimed third by winning the resulting penalty shoot-out 4-3. Bukit Jalil comfortably won the final 2-0 over Singapore.
FORMER SOCCEROO IN CHARGE OF BALCATTA
First Division (North) club Balcatta have appointed former Socceroo Jimmy Pearson as senior coach for the remainder of the season. Scottish born Pearson played for Ayr United before enjoying a successful career in Victoria and New South Wales in the early 1960’s. He was a member of Australia’s first World Cup campaign in 1965 and went on to make 8 appearances for the national team including the 1965 tour of South-East Asia. Pearson has previously spent time at the helm of Inglewood Kiev, amongst others, in the State League.
COYNE ATTACKS REFEREE AFTER DUNDEE’S EURO EXIT
Dundee centre-half Chris Coyne has blasted the referee that officiated in his team’s 5-2 InterToto Cup defeat against Sartid on the weekend. The Scots European departure at the hands of the Yugoslavian minnows comes amid claims that Bulgarian referee Marinov Svetlozar was bribed before the game. The referee controversially sent off Dundee midfielder Fabian Caballero, cautioned five of his teammates and awarded Sartid two soft penalties during their visit to Serbia.
Speaking to the “Daily Record”, the former Perth Italia player was outraged by the match official. “What happened was a disgrace,” Coyne said. “To be honest, it was diabolical. The decisions the referee made didn’t give us the slightest chance of playing football. As soon as we got the ball the ref would break the play down by giving a free-kick. That meant they would come at us again and again. In the end the scoreline flattered them.”
“I actually said to one of their players, ‘How many dinars did you pay him?’ and he just started laughing. It was so obvious and blatant. He knew exactly what I meant because his English was good and I was looking him straight in the eye when I said it,” Coyne added. “There is no doubt something was going on, there is no way he was impartial. It was not an even wicket to play on. We knew straight away we didn’t have a hope in hell of winning this. In the first few minutes I went up for a header and was elbowed in the face but he gave the foul the other way. I looked at him and wondered what was going on. After that he was just flashing cards everywhere.”
Dundee manager Ivano Bonetti was also critical of the referee and called for an inquiry into his handling of the game. “I have never seen refereeing like that in my life, not even when I was a child,” Bonetti said. “The standard of officiating was a joke … We will make a report which will go to UEFA. I saw things before the match and at half-time. Because of what I saw, I was not confident that we could win this game even before it started, and I told my colleagues Dario Magri and Jim Thomson how I felt at the time.”
VEST TARGETED BY GLORY
Following the instalment of Mich D’Avray as coach of Perth Glory, chairman Nick Tana has announced his plans to appoint former State team coach Alan Vest as his assistant. It is believed that Tana will approach Vest’s current club, Singapore League side Marine Castle Untied, and request his early release in time for the 2001/02 NSL pre-season. Vest was Director of Coaching with the W.A. Soccer Federation between 1974 and 1976 during which time he doubled as State coach. He later coached Floreat Athena and Perth Italia in the W.A. State League and since 1991 has tasted success with Sarawak (Malaysia) and Geyland United (Singapore) before taking over at Marine Castle this season.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND TWELVE (Swan I.C. vs Perth report provided by Community Newspapers reporter Mike Hennessey; Sorrento vs Cockburn City report provided by Kerry Slater)
The Premier League clash between Inglewood United and Bassendean Caledonian was crucial to the fortunes both participants as three points would be enough to lift the victors clear of the relegation zone, virtually guaranteeing their top flight status for 2001. Rory Mouttet made his debut for United after signing mid-week from Swan I.C., and they last week received the added boost of striker Paul Lincoln completing his first full game of the year after long-term injury. In the other camp Caledonian were far from full-strength, midfielders Kevin Griffiths and Mark Cox suspended after being sent off last week, and experienced campaigner Martin Woodall was missing for the second consecutive week with a back complaint.
The home side made their intentions clear from the outset, pushing their opponents onto the back foot from virtually the opening kick of the game. In the 4th minute Lincoln clipped the ball into the box from wide on the right, Elton Holmes’ superb volleyed was parried by Tommi Tomich but only as far as Andy Cornwell whose explosive follow-up shot was cleared off the line by Willie Grubb. Four minutes later Cornwell out-stripped the defence to run onto Jamie Goodman’s searching pass, Tomich was quick off his line only to be caught in no man’s land when the winger lobbed the ball over him from 25-metres, the ball bouncing half a metre wide of the far post.
Having weather the early storm, and with coach Barry Smith less than impressed on the sidelines, Caledonian slowly made their way into the game and began to push forward themselves. Although wingers Jason Van Rooy and Anthony Jones worked hard to get the ball forward, it wasn’t until the 16th minute that the visitors managed to do anything which caused concern for the United backline. Mark Cox seized upon some sloppy passing and skilfully threw Shaun Kilkelly off the scent before sending a low ball low into the path of Lee Burns, only for home ‘keeper Oliver Taseski to intercept just as the midfielder was lining up his shot.
The biggest problem Caledonian had to overcome was not posed by their opponents but by their central players who were conspicuous by their absence, especially when the sides went forward. Almost every time Cox and strike partner Gary James gained possession they were immediately set upon by United’s well-organised defence, and with the midfielders nowhere to be seen, the ball was turned before the pair so much as sighted goal. In addition to that, the supply line through the middle was virtually non-existent, at times forcing Cox and James well of position in order see action.
In the middle of the park it was the United trio of Daniel Harrop, Alex Cummings and Scott Campbell that were having the greater influence over proceedings, while wide on the right Mouttet was increasingly causing problems for the defence. In the 22nd minute the new recruit opted to try his luck from long range which forced Tomich into a sprawling save, finger-tipping the ball round the post. Ten minutes later his penetrating cross was brought down by Lincoln and Cornwell’s 16-metre drive brought out another spectacular save from the Caledonian ‘keeper. Nine minutes from the interval Tomich came to his sides rescue once again, making a great reflex save from close range to deny Godfrey after a United corner was poorly dealt by the defence.
With the half time break fast approaching, Caledonians frustrations started to get the better of them. Moschopoulos was cautioned for clattering into the back of Lincoln, and less than a minute later Cox should consider himself lucky not be have been carded for unnecessarily taking the legs from under Godfrey. Perhaps looking forward to a 15 minute break, United allowed their opponents back into the game and were lucky to go into the interval at nil-all. In the 42nd minute the home defence were slow to respond to a deep throw-in which James brought down just outside the 6-yard box, only for the striker to lose his footing as he shot. Two minutes later Cox ran onto a Burns pass and hit a vicious first time shot on the run diagonally across Taseski who required to grabs at before bringing it under control.
The second half continued the theme of the first with a lot of unforced errors being made by players in both shirts, and scrappy play the order of the day. Five minutes into the period Caledonian got the ball into the net but the goal wouldn’t stand. Taseski punched a dangerous cross clear of Cox, who then landed in a heap on top of the goalkeeper, the ball fell to James just inside the penalty area and he quickly chipped it into the open goal but the referee ruled Cox to have impeded Taseski after their initial challenge. United immediately went on the counter-attack Campbell skipping past a stagnant defence but unable to find a way past Tomich.
The next ten minutes were all United, forcing the opponents into making some desperate clearances from well inside their defensive area. Encouraged to push forward, veteran Alex Cummings slipped the ball to Cornwell in the 54th minute who in turn found Lincoln, his low drive from 10-metres was blocked and Harrop’s follow-up went wide. Three minutes later the home teams’ persistence paid off. Cummings broke down the right and clipped the ball into the 6-yard box where Cornwell sent Tomich the wrong way with an angling header that crashed against the up-right before crossing the line
Sniffing there was a second goal in the making, Elton Holmes sent Lincoln racing clear of the defence but rather than shoot himself the striker laid it into the path of Harrop where Grubb intercepted. In the 63rd minute United had players lining up to shoot from the top of the 18-yard box - Lincoln, Holmes then Cornwell all seeing their shots either blocked or deflected as Caledonian stacked their defence. Three minutes later Taki Nicolaides was slow to release the ball out of defence and former teammate Lincoln robbed him of possession and squared to Cummings whose grubber failed to prove a problem for Tomich.
Earlier in the half Caledonian’s brought on teenager Derek Cooke in place of Cox who was having an ineffective afternoon. The impact of the change was near instant, the partnership between Cooke and James showing early signs of promise as the visitors sought an equaliser. Twelve minutes after coming on Cooke connected with Keith Shortall’s cross but Kilkelly managed just enough of a touch to send the volley wide. Six minutes later Shortall again provided Cooke with the ammunition, this time his shot from 14-metres was deflected for a corner off the shin of Godfrey. And with 15 minutes remaining Jones sent James down the right wing before making his way to the near post, only for James’ cross to go deep, over Jones and Cooke to Harrop who had all the time in the world to walk the ball out of the dangerzone.
For the second time in as many weeks Caledonian went to sleep in the final ten minutes and effectively handed the game to their opponents. In the 80th minute Lincoln turned his marker and found Cummings pushing forward down the right, he swung the ball into the area and Harrop slammed the ball past Tomich at the far post after it evaded a pack of players in the middle. With the ball rarely crossing the half-way line, Cummings picked out Ryan Fredericks who skewed his shot across the face of goal, and Lincoln hit the rolling ball high. It was very nearly 3-0 in the 89th minute when Fredericks volleyed Campbell’s corner on target only for Grubb to block it on the line. A minute into stoppage time Fredericks pumped the ball into the box, Harrop skilfully brought it under control and Lincoln lashed it into the roof of the net from close-range to ensure three points to the home side.
United controlled this game from the opening kick but in reality it was a far from convincing performance by either side this afternoon. In a man-of-the-match effort, United midfielder Cummings was superb, setting-up two goals and providing the inspiration for many of their second half attacks. Others that impressed for the home side were Harrop and new signing Mouttet. For much of this game Caledonian were unable to get out of first gear - they were second to the ball with regularity, had far too many passengers and were hampered by a midfield that went A.W.O.L. for long periods. Only James, who worked tirelessly in attack, and goalkeeper Tomich showed reason why they should be automatic selections for next week.
Inglewood United : Oliver Taseski, Jason Godfrey, Jamie Goodman, Shaun
Kilkelly, Andy Cornwell, Rory Mouttet (Ryan Fredericks 72), Alex Cummings,
Scott Campbell, Daniel Harrop, Paul Lincoln, Elton Holmes (Greg Sharland 66)
Bassendean Caledonian : Tommi Tomich, Taki Nicolaides, Aaron Moschopoulos, Willie Grubb, Anthony Jones, Jason Van Rooy, Keith Shortall, George Ramm, Lee Burns (Ian Griffiths 76), Gary James, Mark Cox (Derek Cooke 56)
Referee : Ronnie More(?)
Cautions : Holmes (14), Moschopoulos (40), Cornwell (71), Ramm (77), Godfrey (82)
Dismissals : None
Attendance : 175 (approx.)
Sorrento and Cockburn put on a thrilling, value for money performance at Percy Doyle Reserve where the Premier League’s top two teams battled it out for supremacy. The home side was the quicker out of the blocks and, with the crowd still settling in, Todd Harnwell powered a low shot pass Dino Pacella for the opener in the 2nd minute. City found their rhythm and on 12 minutes had their first opportunity, Joshua Pescud’s free-kick into the area created confusion and Neil Young was brave to gather as the competition’s leading marksman, Branimir Mikulic, moved in to pounce. Todd Harnwell won a free-kick deep on the left in the 19th minute which Michael Garcia swung to the far post Kevin Murphy, the younger brother of Australia’s Shaun, powered his header off the bar and Grant Holt was well placed to head in the rebound to double Sorrento’s lead. Two minutes later the home side coughed up the ball in midfield for City to mount a swift attacking move which ended with Mikulic finally squeezing the ball in at the second attempt after Young had blocked his initial shot. Holt almost scored a stunning goal in the 24th minute but his volley after a Danny Hill header flashed wide of the left post. Five minutes later City were level from the penalty spot, Murphy’s tackle brought down Mikulic and he duly got up to place his shot to Young’s left as the ‘keeper went the other way. The visitors lifted a notch and their quick passing in midfield had Sorrento chasing shadows at times. However, Sorrento put the ball to better effect when they had it at their feet with Garcia’s cross from the left met by Ross Greer whose glancing header flew past Pacella for his eight goal of the season. At half-time Sorrento were forced to replace Shaun Bowyer with teenager Jared Love after the former suffered severe cramps just before the break.
Seven minutes after the re-start and Sorrento once again found the net when Scott McLeod scored from a narrow angle, however, an off-side on Greer ruled out the fine effort. Ten minutes later Love had time on the right to pick his spot and, with Pacella expecting a cross, the ‘keeper came off his line only for Love to lift the ball over him and into the far corner. Again two goals to the good, the match seemed to be Sorrento’s. But City were not reading from the same script and they continued to press for a way back into this game. With 15 minutes remaining Garry Numan got in behind the Sorrento defence and cut back for Mikulic to blast home his third hat-trick of the Premier League season. Chances came at both ends with Sorrento’s best to Holt who showed his skills by turning two defenders but, alas, his shot was wide of the left post after 81 minutes. Sorrento’s leading scorer Ryan Jeans entered the contest and within minutes had Pacella at full-stretch to turn around the up-right the strikers sterling shot. Three minutes into stoppage time Numan broke through and it was only a perfectly timed tackle from man of the match Hill as he pulled the trigger that denied City a share of the points. The two coaches might not have been happy with their respective side’s performances, but those in attendance were treated to an entertaining match that either team could have won. In a match that produced seven goals - the same as when the side’s met earlier in the season - Sorrento did well to hold off a determined City side that fought for the entire 90 minutes, allowing them to hold on to top spot with six rounds remaining.
At Ken Allen Field, Fremantle City were in desperate need of maximum points to keep alive their play-offs dream when they hosted Floreat Athena. But it would be a day the home side would much rather forget as Robyn Dyers marked his return to first team action with two goals, while others by Peter Coci and Ryan Newhill, his ninth for the season, saw Athena comfortably over the line 4-0. ECU Joondalup would rue a stack of missed first half opportunities when they played host to Western Knights. Claus Neilson gave the visitors the lead, Sean Fallon put the two side’s back level terms only for John Nicolaou’s second half strike to see the home side go without at the end of 90 minutes.
In the Italian derby Perth retained the Spring In The Valley Cup and gained three valuable Premier League points when they downed Swan I.C. 2-0 at the Italian Club on Sunday. The game was decided in three minutes midway through the first half when Swan squandered two golden chances to open the scoring before Perth broke away to go into a 1-0 lead. The game opened brightly with end-to-end football to keep the good crowd entertained. Both goalkeepers, Rob Scarparolo for Perth and Corey Hugo for Swan, were kept busy. In the 17th minute Swan had their best chance, Brian Robertson gained possession in front of goal and took his time with a low drive but Scarparolo saved brilliantly. A minute later Eddie Mura was wide with another effort when well-placed. Perth were quick on the break and Andreas Oliviera gained possession on the right to slot the ball past the advancing Hugo to give his side a 1-0 lead. Swan had their chances to equalise before half-time. Nigel Aubin brilliant work on the right set up a great chance as he squared the ball across the goal but not for the first time the hardworking forward lacked the necessary support. The second half belonged largely to Swan - they did most of the attacking and ended with some twenty attempts on goal to Perth’s eight, but all too often the ball went sailing high over the bar for the home side. Perth were always threatening on the break. Jamie Coyne’s header brought a great save from Hugo. As the game neared its end a quickly taken throw-in sent Mark Pottier down the right, his pass set up Coyne who made no mistake as he placed his shot into the bottom far corner to give his side a 2-0 win.
PREMIER LEAGUE, UNDER-18’S ROUND-UP
After eleven rounds of the Under-18’s competition, Perth and Cockburn City look to be sure bets to make the end of season play-offs as five other sides battle it out for the remaining spots. ECU Joondalup made it three wins in as many weeks with a two goals by Tom Jones and another from Craig Cheesman as the home side won 3-2 against fellow finals contenders the Western Knights. Sorrento would have been hoping for more than the one point they took home from their clash with second-placed Cockburn City. Cockburn found the net through Omar Lemzouri after just 8 minutes, but their lead last only 14 minutes before Joe Woodin bagged his first goal for Sorrento to see the points shared. Fremantle City and Floreat Athena are also in the hunt, their fixture postponed due to a number of players from the port side being overseas with the W.A. Under-16’s. Well out of the race are Inglewood United, they notched up win No.3 by thrashing the visitors from Bassendean Caledonian 4-0. In the Sunday game, the undefeated Perth side were held to a surprise 1-1 away draw by struggling Swan I.C.
FIRST DIVISION ROUND-UP
Armadale’s away trip to Rockingham City was an important clash for the Reds in their quest for a berth in the end of season play-offs. And things got off on the right foot for the visitors, Dennis Lee making his way past several opponents before finding Jason Goodwin who had the simple task of taping it home in the 5th minute. And 19 minutes later the game got better for Armadale, Rockingham reduced to ten men when Rob Crerar was sent off for retaliation. With yellow cards being dished out left, right and centre, it was Armadale’s turn to have a player sent off in the 26th minute - goalkeeper Justin Peroni dismissed after bringing down an opponent when challenging for possession. Shortly after the home side drew level from a corner converted by Luke Wood. Then, in the 32nd minute, a superb cross from the left by Emlyn Whetnall found Gary Murdoch just inside the box, he beat one opponent only for his initial shot to be parried by Adrian Rawlings, but from the follow-up he made no mistake in restoring Armadale’s lead.
The bewildering sending off of Armadale’s sweeper six minutes into the second half changed the entire complexion of the game - the player being issued his second yellow card for time wasting at a throw in when an instruction to “hurry up” would have been more appropriate. With the visitors now down to nine players and in total disarray at the back, it came as no surprise when Luke Morris put Rockingham back on level terms in the 84th minute. A minute into stoppage time the referee effectively decided the game when he awarded a very dubious penalty to Rockingham, Graeme Matthews slotting home from the spot to give his side the three points. It wasn’t so much the final 3-2 scoreline, but more the way in which it was handed out that left the Armadale side wondering if today’s inconsistent refereeing had cost them a chance playing in this seasons play-offs.
In other First Division (South) games, Queens Park suffered their first loss of 2001 when they went down 0-1 at home to third-placed Leeming Strikers. Having looked to have made fourth spot theirs just seven days ago, South West Phoenix surprised all by going down 1-3 to bottom side Canning City for their first win of the season. And Morley Windmills kept alive their slim hopes of making the finals with a difficult 1-0 win over Southside United.
Starting the weekend on top of the First Division (North) ladder, Perth City dropped one place after losing 0-1 away to the Dianella White Eagles, who kept alive their play-offs hopes courtesy of Zelko Savic’s goal on the hour mark. At Macedonia Park, the Stirling Lions reclaimed top spot in the First Division (North) by downing Ashfield 2-0. Kingsway Olympic effectively ended Stirling Suns’ seasons with a 1-0 away victory, while Wanneroo City belted Balcatta 4-0. Bayswater City had the bye.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND TWELVE (IN BRIEF)
Inglewood United claimed three vital Premiership points when the defeated Bassendean Caledonian 3-0, lifting themselves clear of the Premier League relegation zone. After an uninspired first half, Andy Cornwell's 57th minute header brought the game to life, with late goals by Daniel Harrop and Paul Lincoln capping a dominant display by the home side.
At the top, Sorrento pulled two points clear of the chasing pack by downing second placed Cockburn City by the odd goal in a match that produced seven. ECU Joondalup failed to convert their earlier dominance at home to end on the wrong side of a 2-1 scoreline against the Western Knights, while Floreat Athena's 4-0 win over Fremantle City looks to have brought the port sides' season to a premature end. On Sunday Perth accounted for Swan I.C. 2-0.
PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW
It's first verses second at Percy Doyle Reserve on Saturday when Sorrento take on Cockburn City. The home side have lead the way for much of the Premier League season with just one loss in ten games, while the visitors are the surprise packet of 2001 and proved last week that it's not just Branimir Mikulic that can find the target. At the other end of the ladder, Inglewood United's youngsters host Bassendean Caledonian at Kiev Sports Ground where both sides will be seeking maximum points to put some breathing space between themselves and the single relegation spot.
Andy Mason is on fire for ECU Joondalup, bagging five of their past eight goals and he'll be looking to add to that tally when the play the Western Knights, who have won once in five weeks and are quickly losing ground on the top half of the table. In the rounds other key contest, Fremantle City will be desperate for a win to keep alive their play-off dream when they play an in-form Floreat Athena side at Ken Allen Field. The Sunday game this week should see Perth comfortably win the Italian derby with Swan I.C.
STANGE LOST TO W.A.
It looks as though the talents of coach Bernd Stange have been lost to Western Australia following his departure for the middle east yesterday. Stange, formerly coach of the East German national team and more recently Perth Glory, is believed to be finalising negotiations to take over the reigns of Oman as they press for a place at next years World Cup Finals. It had recently been rumoured that Stange would link up with the Soccer Association of W.A. in a non-coaching capacity.
INGLEWOOD GAMES DEFERRED AGAIN
Inglewood United's three postponed fixtures against Fremantle City and Sorrento have been put off until late in the season. The round seven clash with City, originally scheduled for 19th May, was due to be played on Tuesday of this week but was pushed back until a date yet to be agreed upon by the two clubs.
The round nine League clash with Sorrento was expected to go ahead next Tuesday, but that too has been switched for reasons unknown. The senior game is now due to be played on Wednesday 18th July starting at 8.15pm, and following the friendly between the W.A. Under-19 side and Indonesia's Under-23's which gets underway at 6.30pm. The Reserves and Under-18 games are due to be played a week earlier at Kiev Sports Ground.
United's delayed Boral Cup quarter-final clash with Sorrento is currently scheduled for Sunday 5th August which, if you look at your fixture book, is just twenty-four hours after the two sides meet in the final Premier League game of the home-and-away season! Both of these games will be played at Percy Doyle Reserve. With all that cleared up, we have been informed that some of these dates are not yet set in concrete and could well change again.
NSL LICENCE DECISION SOON?
There have been some very strong rumours circulating in Perth this week that the second local National Soccer League licence might be as close to being announcing as next week! With Premier League outfit Fremantle City and Soccer West Coast's Western Lightning in the running, we'll just have to wait and see what develops over the next seven or so days.
On a related topic, it has been suggested that former Swan I.C. coach Eric Williams could be in line to take on the assistant coaching position with Perth Glory next season. Current assistant Mich D'Avray expected to be named as Bernd Stange's successor on Monday and Williams is believed to be in the running as his 'right hand man'.
NEW HARVEY FRESH CLINICS
The Junior Soccer Association of W.A. are conducting a - series of clinics during the July school holidays designed to promote the fun and enjoyment aspects of soccer. The Harvey Fresh Soccer Experience programs will include activities designed to promote maximum participation in an atmosphere of maximum fun. These activities will focus on an understanding of game-play, strategy, positioning and field movement.
The clinics are for players of all skill levels aged between 6 and 13 with the main focus being fun through skills and techniques activities. Conducted by JSA accredited coaches at six locations across the metropolitan area, there will be appearances from 'Beat The Keeper' and lots of great prizes and giveaways. For further information contact Glenn Morley on 9271 7677.
YOUNG PANTHERS PLANNING FOR TOP FLIGHT RETURN
It might not happen over night, but it will happen. That is the message coming loud and clear from Bayswater City coach Salv Todaro who hopes to lead the club back into the Premier League in the next few years. After the disaster that was last season, 2001 has not been that much kinder to the club focused on re-building from the ground up. "The committee has been working tirelessly and putting in long hours in order to get the club re-established, and they should be congratulated on their hard work," Todaro said this week. "The long term aims of the club are to develop a team that is capable of getting back into the Premier League and being competitive; to create an environment for developing players; to become financially secure; and to have a thriving social club."
This season has not been one that they will look back on with great fondness, the Panthers wuinless after eleven games and stumping up the First Division (North) ladder. But Todaro is not overly concerned by these facts. "We lost nine players from last season including several with a lot of experience behind them. We started this season with the average age of the first team being twenty years, six months old and with only two players having played more than ten first team games … and four players were making their first senior appearance. We have recently picked up the experienced Ian Ballantyne and he has been a steadying influence."
"On the whole I have been pleased with the attitude and endeavors of the players and they are learning the hard way," Todaro said. "We have played some good soccer and at times we have been our own worst enemy letting in some soft goals, but other times we have been crucified by some inept refereeing, so this is making the season a little frustrating for everyone. However, it is also exciting knowing that the experience that the young players are getting is priceless. The team is improving every week and the position that we currently find ourselves in is not a true indication of what we are capable of. As a club we will continue to focus on our goals and continue to improve our standard of play and we will be out to score a few wins before the season is over."
Todaro took over as coach of Bayswater mid-2000 at a stage when the club's fate had already been decided. With the Panthers facing certain relegation from the Premier League, Todaro set about sorting out the problems of the playing staff. "The first thing that we did was to set some short term goals for ourselves, this included playing and non-playing issues. I wanted to bring back some fun and enjoyment at training and the games, have a game plan to work to and get the players settled down into the system without chopping and changing the team each week. We also worked on team spirit which had been lacking, and finally I decided to give the young players that were in the Under-21's an opportunity to see what they could do and start to plan for the following year (2001). We finished the season with two wins and draw in the last four games which was quite pleasing and gave us hope for this year."
MORE INJURY CONCERNS FOR ATHENA
Despite turning their season around after a disappointing first month, Floreat Athena have continued to be hampered by a string of injuries and absences. The club have been without influential midfielder Doug Ithier for the past nine weeks, and it's believed he is still several weeks away from making his return. The news isn't so good for the in-form George Tiniakos who has been ruled out for the remainder of the season after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament against ECU Joondalup, a knee reconstruction might be on the cards for the midfielder. Coming back into the team this week is lively forward Robyn Dyers who returns from two weeks overseas, while recent signings Jamie D'Arcy (from Inglewood United) and Dave Evans (Fremantle City) have strengthened Athena's playing stocks.
GOING GETS TOUGH AT FREMANTLE
Nothing seems to be going right for Fremantle City of late, just as coach Stuart Kamasz predicted when his sides' round seven clash with Inglewood United was controversially re-scheduled. Kamasz said at the time that delaying the fixture would upset the port side's rhythm, and never has a truer word been spoken - undefeated in the month leading up to the original date, City's form has since plummetted, taking just one point from the twelve on offer.
"We've had no luck recently, we've been in a position to win our recent games but things just haven't gone our way," Kamasz said this week. "In our last few games we've had the opportunity to take the lead inside the first minute but we've not been able to put the ball in the net. Against Cockburn we could have scored in the first thirty seconds but missed an open goal, and the following week at Swan we dominated the game but they bottled up the defence and we couldn't find a way through. John Mirco had two chances to net in the first minute against Sorrento but both were saved, and we controlled play for the rest of the half without success. And on Saturday against Perth we had our chances only to go behind after an error at the back."
But an inability to capitalise on their chances has not been the only problem Kamasz has had to contend with, a string of injuries wreaking havoc with the playing squad. "A knee ligament injury to Anthony Perreira will keep him out of action for at least the next four weeks and Paul McVittie has been struggling to overcome a niggling calf problem for much of the season. Daniel Trim broke his cheek against Cockburn City and has only had the stitches removed this week, he'll probably be sidelined for several weeks yet. When you look at it that's basically our entire midfield gone, so our injury problems have left us a bit thin across the middle."
In an effort to spur the side into action Kamasz has tried several combinations in attack in recent times. On Saturday it was 16-year old Cisco Jorqueira and State representative Trim Morgan up-front, and while they didn't find the target against Perth their coach was encouraged by the partnership which he hinted might be used in this weeks crucial home clash with fifth-placed Floreat Athena. "At the moment we've got to focus on doing the job and that starts this week against Athena, which is going to be a tough game. We can't afford to lose to them, if we can win then we jump back into contention for the play-offs. At this stage I really don't think we can win the League - Sorrento are nine points ahead of us, and while we have a game in hand there aren't a lot of games remaining. But if we can get a few wins under our belt, and hold onto a top five position, then come the play-offs you never know what can happen."
Perth defender Aaron Cole is believed to be heading to England within the next few weeks for trials with a number of clubs. The 1999 W.A. Premier League Player of the Year was part of Perth Glory's apprenticeship program until he pulled the plug early in the New Year after it became clear that a long-term contract was not in the offering. Cole is been rated as one of the best young talents in the state.
16-year-old Kristofer Haxton will be bound for Scotland at the end of this month for a second set of trials with Premier League club Heart of Midlothian. Currently in Singapore with the W.A. Lion City Cup squad, Haxton tried out with Hearts in March and April and impressed it the extent that he was asked back for pre-season training. The Swan I.C. defender said he didn't notice a great difference between the standard of the game in Scotland and locally, "I don't think there was much in it at the skill level," he said. "But it is a lot quicker. I reckon they have to run faster to keep warm."
Not heading for trials, but recently returned from overseas is Inglewood United striker Louis Parkinson. He has recently spent several weeks in the U.K. trialing with a number of clubs including Premier League Charlton Athletic, home of Perth youngster Jordan Rhodes.
PHOENIX SURPRISE EVEN COACH!
South West Phoenix have surprised many in their debut State League season, last week defeating Armadale 3-1 on the road to put themselves in the box seat for a play-off berth going into the closing stages of the First Division (South) regular season. And coach Joe Kelly is just as surprised by his teams performance as anyone. "To be honest I didn't know what to expect," Kelly said this week.
"My recognised first grade team at the moment has only four regulars from the Ashfield/Bunbury team of last year, and many of them spent the second half of the season playing in the reserves" Kelly said. "Whilst we may not match the other teams in skill content at times, we more than make up for this in team spirit, commitment and playing to our strengths. When you have moulded a team together like this you are always in with a chance and I believe our best is still yet to come."
With Phoenix sitting comfortably in fourth place, six points clear of nearest rival Morley Windmills, Kelly has been impressed with the way his players have 'earned their stripes' this season. "We have been gaining respect from the other clubs who know they'll have a fight on their hands for 91 minutes if they want to take any points off us. We don't lie down for anyone, we work hard for each other on, and off, the park."
And while it has been very much a team effort, a couple of players have stood heads and shoulders above the rest. "Sasa Garic is class personified, he must have been some player four or five years ago as he is now 32 and still brilliant. I would say he has at least another 10 years in this grade," Kelly said. "Chris Gaynor is another, he has made two mistakes all season - unfortunately they both cost us goals - but he's got a tough, no-nonsense approach and the skill to match his tenacity." It seems the future of the Bunbury-based club is assured with goalkeeper Francis Allan (17-years old) - "the best young keeper I have seen" - skillful midfielder Elliot Gibson (18), centre forward Stephen Suttie (19) and classy ball player Stephen Waycott (17) all coming up through the ranks.
Looking into the crystal ball, the Phoenix coach believes it's a two-horse race for the First Division (South) trophy, but when it comes to the play-offs it'll be a much different story. "I think Queens Park will just edge out Rockingham City especially considering they've added well to their squad since their Boral Cup exit at our hands. They now have great depth in their squad but there isn't much between both teams in my mind. Phoenix won't win the League but be very wary of dismissing us with no chance in the final four play-offs."
SCHOOL ACADEMY FOR KELMSCOTT
Kelmscott Senior High School will be holding trials during third term for boys and girls interested in joining in their soccer academy. The program, which has been coordinated by Chris Burgoyne, will cater for around twenty Year 8 students enrolled at the school on a full-time basis with the opportunity to continue on through upper school should they be able to maintain a minimum of C-grades in their academic studies.
Burgoyne plans to introduce a flexible coaching program that will see regular and guest coaches training the side both during and after school hours. The school also has ties with local clubs Armadale, Kelmscott, Gosnells, and Sutherland Park which Burgoyne said will assist the participants. "This provides such strong links that the development of young players involved with the soccer program can be assured."
At lower school level the main focus will be on skills development, ball control and theory. In their senior years the students will be required to make a firmer commitment to theoretical enhancement and emphasise soccer skills development through practical sessions. There will also be the opportunity to study for coaching and refereeing qualifications.
COYNE STARTS NEW SEASON IN STYLE
Just 18 days after ending the 2000/01 season, West Australian Chris Coyne has kicked-off a new season with Dundee by being named best afield as his club made their first European appearance in 27 years on the weekend. The First Leg Intertoto Cup clash with Yugoslav side FK Sartid ended in a nil-all draw, and it was the the 22-year old defender who came closest to breaking the deadlock just after the hour mark, his header flying agonisingly wide of the mark.
It was Coyne's second excursion into European competition, his first coming while he was on the books of Londoners West Ham United. "I was in the West Ham squad which enjoyed success in the Intertoto Cup in 1999. It was a great experience, especially as it meant we had won a place in the UEFA Cup. I picked up a knee injury against Jokerit of Finland in an earlier round, but the lads still went on to win the trophy and it was a great achievement. I want a similar experience with Dundee, although the road to success will be longer as West Ham only entered the tournament at the Third Round."
Coyne has only recently returned to Scotland after making a 12,000-mile return journey to Perth. "If you take away the two days travelling, I only got 13 days in Australia," the defender said prior to the Sartid clash. "I hadn't seen my family for nearly a year and it would have been nice to stay longer, but it's definitely worthwhile coming back to Scotland early. Normally, pre-season entails facing six or seven friendlies and building things up from there. This time, however, there's a sharper edge to the proceedings and I think that can work out well for us."
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND ELEVEN (Perth vs Fremantle City report provided by Community Newspapers reporter Mike Hennessey; Sorrento vs Swan I.C. report provided by Kerry Slater)
Bassendean Caledonian went into Saturday's home clash with ECU Joondalup full of optimism, but shortly before kick-off their chances received a jolt when key player Martin Woodall pulled up injured during the pre-match warm-up, forcing coach Barry Smith to hastily reshuffle his line-up at short notice. The visitors utilised much the same line-up that defeated Floreat Athena seven days earlier, their only changes being State defender Scott Broadley, controversially dropped to the bench, and teenager Andre Sarpe who was rested.
The game got underway at a frantic pace with both sides making good use of the ball to mount some promising but ultimately unrewarding attacks. Joondalup had the better of the early chances, getting into their final third with great frequency but unable to find ways past an alert defence. With Tommi Tomich caught unsighted on the line, Gerry McEwan came close to scoring in the 3rd minute when he curled a free-kick from the top of the 18-yard box just beyond the up-right. Five minutes later it was left winger Steve White who created the danger with weaving run only to slam the ball into the side netting from 11-metres.
The home side eventually settled and began to penetrate deep into their attacking half where their best moves were snuffed out by central defenders McEwan and Richard Watson. Caledonian's only real opportunity came after 20 minutes, Mark Cox rising unchallenged to Mark Lennon's corner but his header kissed the wrong side of the crossbar. Relying almost exclusively on breaking on the counter-attack, Caledonian focused on hitting the ball long for strikers Cox and Gary James to race after but the pair were caught time and time again by a very well-organised off-side trap.
Joondalup continued to go forward in waves and it looked only a matter of time before they took the lead. In the 17th minute White found himself in space after going past Kevin Griffiths, crossing to the far post where Mark Benbow was unable to direct his header under the bar. Four minutes later Sean Fallon tried his luck from distance, his dipping shot landing squarely on the chest of Tomich. And shortly after Andy Mason seized upon a defensive error to curl the ball just wide of Tomich's right post from 15-metres. The breakthrough finally came after 34 minutes - White's low centring ball saw a mad scramble for possession inside the area which Carl McDarby knocked past Tomich, Keith Shortall blocked it on and Mason drove the rebound through the congestion and into the back of the net.
That sparked the Caledonian side into life and they went on the attack almost immediately. Cox came close to putting his side back on a level footing in the 38th minute with a low drive from 16-metres that Peter Stewart couldn't hold, but unfortunately no one on hand for the home side to knock in the loose ball. As though things weren't already difficult enough for Caledonian, they were about to get much tougher. Three minutes before the interval Lennon received his marching orders for a needless studs-up tackle on Jamie Kuzmanovich which earned him his second yellow card in the space of sixty seconds. It was the last thing the home side needed and right on the stroke of half time came a warning of things to come as Tomich made a brilliant reflex save to tip Mason's bullet-like close-range header over.
Two minutes after the interval Joondalup should have doubled their lead. From the middle of the park White flicked the ball to Dale McCulloch who ran it into attack and expertly drew the defence before sending Mason clear, only for the striker to disappointingly lift it onto the chest of Tomich from 10-metres. The home side spent much of the second half fending off wave after wave of attack which saw their defence working overtime as a cohesive unit to limit their opponents to shots from distance for extended periods.
Benbow's 59th minute cross into the area flicked the head of Mason and, racing in at the far post, McCulloch a squandered golden opportunity by sliding the ball past the up-right from close-range. Two minutes later McCulloch was involved again, making a darting run into attack which was halted by a defender, the ball rolling to Stuart Montgomery who unleashed a thunderbolt from 16-metres for which Tomich produced a top-class save. After the turn-around, all the pressure was always going to be on the Caledonian backline who were standing firm in the face of Joondalup's relentless onslaught.
Much of the visitors forward thrust was coming from wide players Benbow and White, and in the 64th minute the latter teed up goal number two. White capped a fine run by centring the ball low into the 6-yard box where, back to goal, Abdul Kamara's clever back-heel bounced up off the foot of Tomich and Mason was there to head it into the net from close in. Six minutes later it was very nearly 3-0 after McCulloch held the ball up in attack before slipping it past the defence and into the path of White who made no mistake, only for his effort to be disallowed for off-side.
The introduction of Sandy Robertson with just under 20 minutes remaining added some style and flair to Joondalup's attacks. Two minutes after being introduced the midfielder sent an inch-perfect, 40-metre plus ball into the path of Fallon who was denied from 12-metres by Tomich's reflexes. Two minutes later Montgomery beat the off-side trap to send White inside the area, the winger placing his shot wide of the up-right. And in the 77th minute Montgomery didn't break stride when he ran onto another long Robertson pass to thunder the ball on target, Tomich taking the pace off the shot but unable to hold the ball and young Anthony Jones came in behind to prevent it from crossing the line.
The closing stages are best forgotten from the Caledonian point of view. Ten minutes from time Willie Grubb was fortunate not to be red carded for a very late tackle from behind on Robertson. In the 87th minute a dreadful error by Grubb saw him concede possession deep in his sides defensive half and Mason wasted no time in flashing it in the net of a badly exposed Tomich. Two minutes later the visitors found the target once again, albeit amidst some very convincing appeals for off-side, with Montgomery looping his shot over Tomich and into the far side of the goal from an acute angle. Caledonian winger Kevin Griffiths was stupidly dismissed for retaliation in the 90th minute, and sixty seconds later only Tomich stood between Montgomery and a five-nil final scoreline.
Post-match, visiting coach Paul Simmons was happy with the result and the fact his side limited Caledonian to just one shot all afternoon. "We were very disciplined and committed to our method of play and despite Bassendean attempting to out-muscle us we were just to strong, to quick and to good for them," Simmons said. In reality, this game was over as a contest the moment Lennon was dismissed - it was just too difficult a task for Caledonian to come back into the game a man and a goal down, and Joondalup's second half dominance saw Stewart rarely called upon. For the visitors it was Mason that was the hero, bagging a hat-trick to take his tally to five goals in eight days, while defender McEwan and wingers White and Benbow also played their part in the win. Grubb was without a doubt Caledonian's best player with a non-stop performance that a player half his age would have been proud of. George Ramm man-marked McDarby out of the game to the point that he was eventually substituted, and between the posts Tomich pulled off some crucial, and at times spectacular, saves.
Bassendean Caledonian : Tommi Tomich, Anthony Jones, Aaron Moschopoulos, George Ramm, Keith Shortall,
Kevin Griffiths, Willie Grubb, Lee Burns (Ian Griffiths 85), Mark Lennon, Mark Cox (Derek Cooke 71),
ECU Joondalup : Peter Stewart, Gery McEwan, Richard Watson, Jamie Kuzmanovich (Scott Braodley 46), Mark Benbow, Steve White, Abdul Kamara (Sandy Robertson 71), Dale McCulloch, Sean Fallon, Andy Mason, Carl McDarby (Stuart Montgomery 59)
Referee : Derek Minett
Cautions : Cox (1), Kamara (35), Lennon (41), Shortall (52), McDarby (59), Grubb (80), McEwan (91)
Dismissals : Lennon (42), Griffiths (90)
Attendance : 250 (approx.)
Sorrento had super-sub Ross Greer to thank for extending their winning streak to four games when they faced bottom club Swan I.C. at Percy Doyle Reserve. There was blunted action until the 14th minute when Sorrento carved out first opportunity, Michael Garcia's corner from the right found Danny Hill but he headed high. Four minutes later a Garcia free-kick from the left was met by a glancing Grant Holt header which found the back of the net, Holt scoring his first goal for the senior side and on his full home debut! Another corner by Garcia after 27 minutes was met by Hill at full-pace, but this time Corey Hugo was good enough to batter the ball away and Todd Harnwell was wide with his shot from the rebound. Hill finally had the ball in the net after 31 minutes, but referee Steve Muldoon ruled the effort off-side. Seven minutes later Hill again met a Garcia corner only to have it cleared off the line by Christian Marocchi.
The start of the second half saw a marked change in the Swan side who now seemed the hungrier for the ball, but they were unable to deliver the telling blow. That was until the 75th minute when poor control released the ball to Swan substitute Adrian Robertson who still had work to do before he clipped it in off the crossbar for the equaliser. Greer had just entered the game before the goal, but soon started controlling play in the Sorrento's attacking area. Hill's afternoon was complete other than not being able to add his name to the scoresheet and in the 82nd minute his header to a Harnwell free-kick came back off the left up-right. Three minutes later Sorrento re-took the lead - Kevin Murphy found Holt on the right, he rounded Hugo and squared the ball to Greer who partially mis-hit his shot and Paul Borg missed his attempt at a goal line clearance. In the 86th minute Sorrento went two goals in front when Garcia swung another corner to the edge of the area where Hill headed the ball goalward, Greer pivoting to slide it home in a crowded goal mouth. Four minutes into stoppage time Garcia's shot from an angle flashed just wide of Hugo's left post.
Perth maintained their position in the top three of the Premier League by beating arch rivals Fremantle City 3-1 at Dorrien Gardens. The first half saw both sides far too ready to give the ball away in a tightly, congested game. Perth opened the scoring in the 17th minute when David Onoforo crossed the ball and a defensive slip by Evan Wallace allowed Nick Mrdja to slide the ball past goalkeeper Rob Zabica. The second half produced similar fare to the first but City did equalise in the 57th minute. A questionable corner was not cleared and Craig Surtees was able to fire home the equaliser. Perth were unlucky not to have regained the lead when clever play by Mrdja gave Mark Pottier an open goal - his first attempt was well blocked by Zabica and his follow-up shot hit the far post and rebounded clear. City then missed a similar opportunity when Joe Liguan put Surtees through but he could not repeat his earlier effort and the scores seemed locked at 1-1. Coach Graham Normanton then brought on Andreas Oliveira and this soon produced the desired result. Jamie Coyne found Oliveira unmarked in front of goal and he calmly beat Zabica to give Perth a 2-1 lead. Minutes later he again went through the centre, his shot hit the post but the teenager was able to slot the rebound into the bottom corner to give Perth a comfortable 3-1 lead and the three points.
In a scrappy match, Inglewood United started the stronger against visitors Floreat Athena but squandered a handful of first half chances to take the lead. Athena introduced Costa Socratous at the break and his influence was near-immediate, breaking down the right and creating all manner of problems for the opposition defence. It was from a Socratous that the only goal of the game came - his low cross resulted in a goal mouth scramble which former United striker Ryan Newhill put in from a couple of metres. The visitors missed several opportunities to kill off the game with Alex Cummings outstanding in the centre of a solid home defence. Having made some telling saves in the opening half, John Xigas came to Athena's rescue in the final minute when he showed great reflexes to turn over a close-range effort on the line.
In the rounds other game, goals from midfielders Paul Cooke and Antonio Naglieri saw Cockburn City defeat the Western Knights 1-2 at Dalmatinac Park, John Nicolaou scoring for the visitors.
PREMIER LEAGUE, RESERVES ROUND-UP
In the Premier League reserves', Perth stretched their run without a loss to eleven games by thrashing Fremantle City 7-1 at Dorrien Gardens on Saturday. Eight points off the pace and in second place are Sorrento who accounted for Swan I.C. 3-0, Jake Harman scoring his 22nd goal of the season with Toby Wright and Gary Andrews bagging the others. Western Knights downed Cockburn City 3-0 away from home, Bassendean Caledonian ran riot after the interval to hit four past E.C.U. Joondalup without reply, and Inglewood United drew 2-2 with Floreat Athena.
Perth (27 points) and Sorrento (19) sit well clear at the top of the reserves ladder with the Knights and Fremantle (14 each) sharing third place. From there down it's pretty tight with just three points separating the remaining six teams - Athena (12), Caledonian (12), Inglewood (11), Joondalup (11), Cockburn (10) and Swan (9).
PREMIER LEAGUE, UNDER-18'S ROUND-UP
Perth have lead the Under-18's ladder since day one, taking 28 points from a possible 30 so far this season. With their weekend fixture against Fremantle City postponed due to a number of players from both teams being in Singapore with the W.A. Under-16 team, it offered the opportunity for some of the other clubs to step into the limelight. Joondalup seized that chance with both hands by hammering Caledonian 5-1 away from home. Sorrento downed Swan 2-0 thanks to goals from Michael McGrath and Mark Findlay, and Athena came home with the points by defeating Inglewood 3-2. Despite being held 2-2 by the Knights on the weekend, second-placed Cockburn (22) have managed to open up a big gap between themselves and the rest of their field. But there's little separating Joondalup (16), Sorrento (15), Athena (14), Fremantle (13) and the Knights (13) as they all shape up to battle it out for the remaining three play-off spots over coming weeks. At this stage there's not a lot left to play for other than pride for the likes of Swan (9), Inglewood (7) and Caledonian, who have managed just three points from eleven outings.
FIRST DIVISION ROUND-UP
The Dianella White Eagles were at home to Ashfield in what would be a very physical First Division (North) encounter. White Eagles controlled the game from the outset but had to wait until the 30th minute when Zelko Savic was brought down inside the area and Barovic converted from the spot. Five minutes before the break Savic was again involved, awarded a penalty after tangling with Gene Wyllie - who was red carded - but this time Barovic's spot-kick crashed into the crossbar and came back into play. The second half saw the home side dominant, creating chance after chance before new-signing Scott Halpin was brought down by the Ashfield goalkeeper. This time Peter Vukmirovic took the responsibility and made it 2-0. Despite being reduced to nine players, Nathan Salisbury also receiving his marching orders for the visitors, Ashfield continued to go on the offensive and pegged back a goal with nine minutes remaining through Steve Goff to make the final score 2-1. The result means the White Eagles keep alive their play-off dream as Ashfield's form slump continues.
The Stirling Suns also kept alive their chances of making the end-of-season play-offs by defeating rivals Stirling Lions 4-3, who slip to second as a result. The new leaders are surprise packet Perth City who downed Balcatta 3-2 at home, and comes hot on the heels of their 3-2 win over White Eagles on Foundation Day. Bayswater City's woes continued, thumped 4-1 by Kingsway Olympic who remain fourth.
South West Phoenix traveled to Alfred Skeet Oval on Saturday eager to avenge their 3-1 home loss at the hands of Armadale earlier in the First Division (South) season. It was a vital clash for both teams - Armadale needing full points to peg back the gap between themselves and fourth-place Phoenix, while a win to the visitors would see them put some daylight between themselves and the bottom half of the ladder. Phoenix made their intentions clear after just 5 minutes, Stephen Waycott's shot was deflected to Jack Grabowski who hammered it from the top of the box, Armadale's Maikol Taseski parried the shot and the ever-alert David Suttie was on hand to slip it home from 5-metres. Stephen Suttie should have made it 2-0 shortly after when Steve Rodgers freed him down the right, but his stunning shot grazed the outside of the up-right.
This woke Armadale up and they went on the attack for much of the next ten minutes, Phoenix forced to defend very deep much to their coach's discomfort. The home side earned themselves five corners in succession but were unable to convert any of the opportunities due to some solid defending. Then, in the 20th minute, the Phoenix defence was caught ball-watching as Darren Ingham's cross from the right was converted from close range by Dennis Lee to make it one-all. The visitors regained the lead in the 27th minute, the referee awarding a penalty after Steve Rodgers was hauled down by David Twigg and Sasa Garic coolly fired home from the spot. Phoenix continued to plug away and came close on a couple of occasions - Rodgers' header coming back into play off the underside of the bar, and not long after the same player scraped the top of the crossbar with a delicate shot.
The visitors started the second half in spectacular style. Garic out-jumped the defence on the edge of the area to nod the ball backwards to Grabowski who, spotting the 'keeper off his line, lobbed it into the top right hand corner from 22-metres. Two a comfortable two goal lead, Phoenix eased off and allowed the reds back into the game, but try as hard as they could Armadale were continually thwarted by the visiting defence. Their best chance came in the 67th minute when new-signing Emlin Whetnall found himself on the end of a cross but placed his shot wide of the target. A lack of penetration led to some frustrations in the Armadale camp and 20 minutes from full-time they went down to ten men. Now on cruise control, Phoenix confidently played out the remaining time to go home with the three very valuable points.
Queens Park stay on top, and three points ahead of nearest rivals Rockingham City, courtesy of a hard-fought 2-1 away win over Southside United. It was second verses third when the Leeming Strikers hosted Rockingham, the side from down south winning the seven-goal thriller by the odd goal. Phoenix consolidated fourth place, while Morley Windmills' season could have come to a premature end after they were held to a scoreless draw by struggling Canning City.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND ELEVEN (IN BRIEF)
Nothing changes at the top of the W.A. Premier League ladder with the top three sides all taking maximum points from their weekend fixtures. Sorrento remain first after cruising to a 3-1 win over Swan I.C, Cockburn City stay one point behind as a result of downing Western Knights, and Perth triumph over visiting Fremantle City keeps them third.
A hat-trick by Andy Mason did most of the damage at Jubilee Reserve where ECU Joondalup thumped four past Bassendean Caledonian without reply. Floreat Athena make up the top five courtesy of Ryan Newhill's lone strike of the game against Inglewood United.
PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW
The most enticing game this weekend takes place at Jubilee Reserve where Bassendean Caledonian is at home to ECU Joondalup. Coach Barry Smith has introduced several new faces over the past month that has seen them push some of the competitions high-flyers all the way, and they'll be further buoyed by the fact they've already beaten their opponents once this season - 3-0 at Joondalup. Currently in fourth place, their visitors have had an inconsistent season but with good results against Perth and Floreat Athena in recent weeks Joondalup are beginning to show their best form.
Fourteen goals in the past month has put Perth back in the top half of the ladder, but they'll need to be on top of their game when they face a Fremantle City outfit looking to get over a month of poor results. Having won five of their past six outings, home side Cockburn City are expected to easily account for the Western Knights who ended a dreadful run of results last week when the defeated Bassendean Caledonian 3-2. At the Kiev Sports Ground, Inglewood United will find the going tough against Floreat Athena, while Sorrento should take full points when they host Swan I.C.
SINGAPORE HERE WE COME!
The West Australian Under-16 team head to Singapore this weekend to take their place in the Lion City Cup tournament. W.A. have a proud history of achievement at the event, last taking home the trophy in 1994 while making the final on every occasion since 1997. The State side kicks-off their campaign next Monday against hosts Singapore, followed by games with Hong Kong (Wednesday) and Bukit Jalil SS. (Friday). The finals will be staged on Sunday afternoon at Tampines Stadium, home of S-League outfit Tampines Rovers.
The 16-man playing squad is Alan Matteucci (Balcatta), Jeff Bright (Cockburn City), Dean Apelgren, Matthew Danskin, John Migas, Chris Zarricueta (Fremantle City), Jordan Conti (Inglewood United), Bryan Hedges, Nicholas Ward (ECU Joondalup), Damir Kudozovic, Josip Magdic, Scott Royal, Jan Zablocki (Perth), Blake Greathead (Rockingham City), Kris Haxton and Adrian McBride (Swan I.C.). Travelling with the side are Ron Tindall (coach), Steve Coppack (tour manager), Bill Oddy (tour official) and Philippa Byrne (physiotherapist).
W.A. IN NATIONAL REVOLT
Soccer Australia will face new elections within the month following the withdrawal of support for the national body's commission by four key state federations, including Western Australia. In the past the four states involved - the Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, Tasmania and W.A. - had all been strong allies of Soccer Australia chairman Tony Labbozzetta. But following recent decision made by the commission, which includes the axing of Brisbane Strikers and Canberra Cosmos from the National Soccer League, that support has waned. The federations will apply dissolve the board of Soccer Australia immediately and instigate fresh elections next month, the first step being an extraordinary general meeting which has been called for 30th June.
In the wake of these developments Senator Chris Schacht has urged the Federal Government to hold an independent inquiry into the future of soccer in Australia. "Today's call by some State soccer associations for a spill of the board of Australian soccer further demonstrates that something is seriously amiss in the administration of Australia soccer," Schacht said via a press release today. "The administration of soccer is an important issue because this coming year it will be receiving 1.8 million dollars of Federal funding to develop the sport in Australia. It must be very frustrating for soccer fans in Australia that when our national team has just achieved great success at the Confederation Cup and is about to enter the next stage of qualification for the World Cup, the administration of Australian soccer seems to be falling apart." Since raising the issue at the Senate Estimates hearing on 4th June, Schacht said he had received many messages of support from fans of the game in Australian.
IN CONVERSATION WITH OLIVER HILTON
One-time Sorrento junior Oliver Hilton has recently signed up with English league side Stockport County after spending a number of years in the youth system at Crewe Alexandra. Born in England, Hilton emigrated to Western Australia with his family in 1993 and wracked up a stack of achievements before returning to the U.K. five years later. During the week we caught up with the now 16-year old to get the run-down on his career to date.
Could you give us a bit of a run-down on your career in W.A.?
I started out in Perth for Sorrento Seagulls at Under-10's where I played until returning to England in 1998. I was captain of the Sorrento team from Under-10 to Under-13. At Under-11 we were League Champions and Top 4 Play-Off Winners and I also received the trophy for Fairest and Best Player that year. At Under-12 we won the Top 4 Play-Off again and we were also the Under-12 Bunbury Carnival Winners. At U13 we were runners up at the Under-14 Bunbury Carnival and I received the trophy for Players Player of the Year As well as playing for Sorrento I also represented Northern Districts and played for John Curtin Soccer School where I was on a scholarship.
Did you represent W.A. as a junior at any level? If so, did you get the chance to go on tour and how did the side perform?
I represented WA at Under-12 when we toured Japan and, believe it or not, I still have the signed match ball from the two hat-tricks I scored! Our coach was Bill McBride and the teams we played were a mixture of school teams and club teams. We won all our games except the Final against J.E.F. United which we lost 8-1, partly because the final was played on astro-turf - which we were not used to playing on - and also because they fielded a few older players. We stayed mostly in lodges and hotels where I roomed with Darren Broxton who was also my classmate at Lymburner School in Hillarys. It was a great experience, my first time away from home. Amongst the highlights were visiting Mount Fuji, travelling on the bullet-train and the opening carnival where we paraded through the streets wearing Japanese kimonos and head bands!
You moved to the U.K. in 1998. Why did the family decided to head to England? How did you go adjusting to a radically different lifestyle and climate that you were used to in Perth?
My main reasons for wanting to live in England were to become a professional footballer in the English Premier League ... and to watch Liverpool at Anfield! The weather here is certainly a lot different to Perth. We play football in rain, snow and ice and as soon as the weather improves, the season stops.
What has been happening for you on a football level since that move? How did you come about joining Crewe?
When we were still living in Australia my dad contacted several English clubs to see if I could get trials with them. A number wrote back offering me trials when we returned to England. Liverpool is the team I support so when we got back to England I went for a trial there first. Unfortunately I found the conditions totally different to Perth - it was April, snowing, freezing cold and the pitch was very heavy. Although I did okay, I knew I wouldn't get signed on as you have to be better than the players they already have. I waited until June and then phoned Crewe who also invited me down for a trial. I trialled for about 6 weeks and was then offered a one year contract, our first game was against Liverpool. I was also offered trials at Leeds United and Manchester City but didn't follow these through after being signed by Crewe. And at the end of that season I was offered a further two years.
How did the team perform in the League?
Academy football up to Under-16 is not played on a league basis but it is all about development and you only play friendly matches against other academies. However we won virtually every game so we must have been pretty good. Two of my former team mates are now playing for the England Under-16 team after signing for Manchester United. The highlight apart from beating Manchester United both home and away was probably going to Northern Ireland for the Milk Cup competition in 1999. This is a top competition with teams from all over the world including Lazio, Boca Juniors and several national teams. We came second in our group but lost in the semi-final of our competition, although our Under-17 team won their competition beating Manchester United in the final.
I believe you also captained a representative side which toured Germany ...
That was another personal highlight, captaining the Cheshire Schoolboys Team that went to Germany last year. The trip to Germany is an annual exchange between Cheshire and Heilbronn that has gone on for forty years and is the longest running exchange in Great Britain. We were on tour for ten days and stayed with host families. The family I stayed with had previously hosted Danny Murphy, who now plays for Liverpool but was then with Cheshire and Crewe at Under-16 like myself. We played three games against teams from the Stuttgart area and won them all.
How have you found the standard of the game compared to what you experienced in W.A.?
The standard is far higher in England than in Perth ... I think the State teams in Australia would find it very hard against any academy club side. I have had to work very hard to improve my game since arriving here and I think the older you are the harder it must be to adapt to the English game.
How have you found settling into the playing side of things in England?
Initially I found the pitches hard to play on. They were very heavy in winter and the mud stuck to your boots. It was much faster and a lot more physical than playing in Perth. Crewe has an excellent reputation for youth football and the Under-14 coach is Dario Gradi MBE, who is also the first team coach and the longest serving manager in the Football League. He helped me a lot in training and I've worked hard on the weights to get stronger.
You have recently signed on with Stockport County's Under-19 side ... how did that offer come about? And are there any differences between the two clubs in terms of their youth structure?
At the end of my three years at Crewe I was out of contract and free to look for another club. Several clubs enquired about me including Stockport, I played I think six trial matches for them including against the Japan Under-16 national side and was then offered a two year contract. There is not really a lot of difference between Crewe and Stockport as both have excellent facilities. Crewe is an academy and operates a scholarship at Under-17 and Under-19 level whereas Stockport operates a Youth Training Scheme (YTS) at only Under-19 level.
You obviously impressed Stockport enough for them to sign you, how did the 2000/01 season treat you?
I have enjoyed my time in England so far and have enjoyed all the football. 2000/01 was a good season that ended well for me as I was one of the players offered a two year paid contract. I think that over the past twelve months my game has improved a lot and having played in six different countries so far has also benefited my development. I have adapted to the conditions now and Stockport play me in my favoured position of the centre of midfield.
Could you give us a typical day in the life of someone in the youth set-up at Stockport?
We don't start pre-season training until July at Stockport but we have been told it will be with the first team which should be good. I have had one training session with the first team when I was on trial and I was training with the youth team players over the Easter holidays. I played alongside Shefki Kuqi and Jarkko Wiss who are both internationals and played for Finland against England recently in the World Cup Qualifiers.
At Stockport the day starts at 8:30am when we report to the club and do jobs until training starts. Training is in two sessions, 10.00am until 12.00noon, then lunch until 1.00pm and then more training from 1.00 until 3.00pm. Then it's more jobs until 5.00pm. Each YTS player is assigned to a first team player to look after, we have to clean their boots, look after their training gear, do messages and so forth, and we are also each given a club job to do like sweeping the changing room floors, cutting grass, rolling the pitches or sorting the kits out.
Where do you see your career heading from here? Do you think a place in the Stockport reserves is a chance during this period?
I don't expect to play that much next season in the Under-19 team but I know I have to work hard on improving my game then get a regular place in the team, then the reserves and eventually I hope the first team before I am 19. My current contract is for two years but hopefully I will have been offered a professional contract before then.
Do you harbour dreams one day playing for Australia?
I think I am eligible to play for both England and Australia and, like any young footballer, would love to represent my country, be that England or Australia.
Thanks for your time Oliver. All the best for the up-coming season with Stockport and maybe one day we'll be watching you on tele playing for Liverpool.
I can but dream. And thank you for taking an interest in me ...
For the third time this season, Peter Vukmirovic has switched clubs with the latest move taking him back to the Dianella White Eagles. The versatile big man started 2001 at Swan I.C, leaving them for Floreat Athena just weeks into their Premier League campaign. Former State defender Dave Evans has left Fremantle City after little over 12 months with the club to sign with Athena. ECU Joondalup have signed 22-year old midfielder Mark Benbow who has previously played in England with Hereford United, Worcester City and Merthyr Tydfil.
There has been plenty of movement at Bassendean Caledonian since the season proper got underway. In recent times they have secured the services of experienced defender Taki Nicoladias from Inglewood United, along with promising youngster Anthony Jones who started 2001 at Swan I.C. Mark Lennon has finally been allowed to play for the club after hold-ups with his international clearance while another import, Lee Burns, has wasted no time in settling in at the club as was evidence by his two goals against Cockburn City a fortnight ago.
As reported some weeks back, former Socceroo custodian Robert Zabica has signed with Fremantle, while Perth have picked up Robbie Gaspar following a spell with NSL outfit Sydney Olympic. After spending the pre-season with Swan, young defender Davorin Svirac has agreed terms with Cockburn. And veteran goalkeeper Willie McNally is now part of the set-up at Sorrento along with one-time State striker Kevin Correia, who spent 2000 with Fremantle.
THIRD TIME LUCKY FOR WILSON AT CHELSEA?
Sorrento's rising star Fred Wilson will be heading to London come July for trials with Premier League club Chelsea. The skilful central midfielder Wilson spent three weeks with Leeds United as a 13-year old, but it was at last years National Talent Identification Championship that he really shot to prominence as the Under-15's vice-captain. Within three months he was invited to Stamford Bridge for an initial trial period, returning in February 2001 for an eight week stay when he was 'taken under the wing' of club captain Dennis Wise. "Things went very well," Wilson said this week. "I was told if I did well they would invite me back, which is what has happened."
Floreat Athena continue to lead the way in the Womens' Premier League having conceded just three goals in six outings this season. On the weekend they demolished Lynwood 10-0 to go three points clear of Murdoch A, who had the bye this week. Third-placed Queens Park followed up last weeks 8-0 thrashing of Lynwood by hitting five past cellar-dwellers Claremont/Nedlands without reply. Stirling Reds 6-0 win over Sorrento Breakers sees them hold onto fourth place with University A breathing down their neck after a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Curtin/South Perth.
MORE FROM FRANCE
With the W.A. Under-19 representatives now back with their local clubs, we have been able to gleam a few more details from their adventures at the Tournai De Croix. The teams' first game upon arriving in France was a friendly with Croix which ended in a 4-2 win to the State side, a double from Andre Sarpe and singles by Andreas Oliviera and Derek Cooke making sure the tour got off on the right foot.
Goalkeeper Oliver Taseski was the star of the physical opening fixture with Vitoria Guimaraës that ended in a scoreless draw. W.A. were still recovering from the effects of a physical encounter with the Portuguese side when they faced Lens the following day. Sarpe became the first Australian to score in the tournament, but shortly after missed a penalty with the scores at 1-2 in favour of the French who ran out eventual winners 1-4.
Sorrento's David Foster scored our lone goal against the Tunisia National Team who triumphed 1-3, setting-up an 11th/12th place play-off match against the Province of Chengdu (China). A hat-trick by lively Andreas Oliveira and further strikes by Sarpe and midfielder Antonio Naglieri seeing W.A. end their visit with a comfortable 5-0 victory. In addition to Taseski, who took home the Best Goalkeeper trophy, W.A. coach Eric Williams named Daniel Stoitis, Todd Howarth, Antonio Naglieri and Greg Sharland as the State's best performers.
LOCAL BODIES UNHAPPY WITH RE-FORM DOCUMENT
Officials from both the Junior Soccer Association of W.A. and Womens' Soccer Western Australia have spoken publicly against the latest draft of the soccer re-structure which is currently in circulation. The document - "Soccer restructure for the new millennium" - was commissioned under the direction of the Soccer Association of W.A. and is believed to be set for review mid-month.
Speaking on the Junior Soccer Review with John O'Connell on the weekend, JSA president Bill Oddy said the JSA clubs had decided unanimously to reject the draft at a meeting on Saturday. "The clubs have voiced their concerns with the existing document which is in place * to be honest, it was difficult to find any supporters," he said. "There was a motion that we go back and advise the delegates that this is not an acceptable document in its current format and should be rejected. The document currently presented by S.A.W.A. in relation to the restructure does not meet the Fielding recommendations, or the requirements for soccer in the next millennium."
WSWA vice-president Jeanette Spencer expressed her alarm over the constitution several weeks ago on Radio Fremantle (100FM). "Basically, the constitution gives power to the board to change the constitution from time to time, which is very unusual as far as constitutions go," the WSWA spokesperson said. Spencer urged all parties involved in the re-structure to make their opinions and concerns known. "We can't, through just not being interested in the business end of our sport, allow a constitution that doesn't serve its members adequately," Spencer said. "All the associations have a really big responsibility here because they could be binding themselves to something that, in the end, is not a workable document."
FANS PASSION WILL KEEP ME AT BIRMINGHAM SAYS LAZARIDIS (Reproduced with permission from the tribalfootball.com website)
Birmingham City winger Stan Lazaridis has moved to deny reports he is ready to quit the club in the summer. The Australia international was outstanding against Brazil on Saturday night and spoke with Birmingham fans of his future this week. "Without sounding fake, there is some unfinished business here. If you ask me 'do I want to leave because we did not get promoted,' the answer is 'no.' Like any player I want to play in the Premiership and I believe that this club can get there and do well."
"I am quite happy to go again next season to try and be part of something successful. I feel as though myself and a number of others are capable of performing in the Premiership and that is what really hurts. We should be up there already. I am wrapped up in the passion of Birmingham and, having gone so close, it is as if there is a hold on me to stay here and help us to achieve our aim of winning promotion." Lazaridis has been linked with Middlesbrough, Glasgow Rangers and Aston Villa since the end of the season.
AMATEURS UNLUCKY IN NATIONALS
The 2001 National Amateur Championships were staged over the weekend in Melbourne with South Australia taking home the silverware after defeating New South Wales on the final day of competition. Western Australia started the four-team tournament sluggishly, trailing South Australia by the break but came back strongly in the second half and snatching a point when Graeme Bramwell found the net in the 91st minute.
The following day it was NSW that lead 1-0 after 45 minutes. W.A. fought back and within 15 minutes of the re-start two well-worked goals by Mark Kelly put them ahead, only for W.A. to go to sleep late in the contest and come out with a 2-2 draw. Going into the final day of competition only two points separated the top three - S.A, N.S.W. and W.A. - with only Victoria out of contention. As it was S.A. defeated N.S.W. to lift the trophy, while W.A. snuck into the runners-up spot with a convincing 2-0 victory over Victoria, the goals coming from Christian Paschewitz and Andrew Willards.
CUP SUCCESS FOR OUR SOCCEROOS
Australia has finished third in the 2001 Confederations Cup tournament which was played out in South Korea and Japan over the past fortnight. While France claimed the final 1-0 against Japan, the Socceroos showed the world that they are no longer to be considered also-rans with victories over highly-fancied France, Brazil and Mexico. And two West Australians - Stan Lazaridis and Shaun Murphy - were right in the thick of the action.
On the first day of competition Australia faced Mexico, ranked 13th in the world. "Left wing ower" was how the official FIFA match report described Lazardis' non-stop performance which eventually saw him replaced with 11 minutes remaining. Murphy also played a key role in the 2-0 win, heading home Steve Corica's cross to the far post after 20 minutes to give the Socceroos the lead. "I just closed my eyes, as always," the 30-year old central defender joked post-match when asked about his goal.
Unfortunately, Murphy was ruled out of the hard-earnt 1-0 win over reigning world champions France a couple of days later. Lazaridis saw out the full 90 minutes and again was impressive, but picked up his second yellow in as many games to miss the final group stage match. Assured of a semi-final berth after two convincing wins, the Socceroos went down 0-1 to the Korean Republic with Murphy playing a full game at the back. And there wasn't much joy for the side against Japan in the round of four, the co-hosts winning 0-1 with Murphy an unused substitute against Japan while Lazaridis played a full game.
The Socceroos surprised the world for the second time in nine days when they downed Brazil, the world's No.2 ranked nation, in the play-off for third and fourth by ending triumphant 1-0. And both West Australians featured in the matches only goal - Lazaridis' curling a deep free-kick into the box where Murphy's header left the Brazilian 'keeper with no chance in the 83rd minute of play. But the former Sorrento defender played down the goal which was rated by many as one of the best of the tournament, "We send the tall timber up for the set-pieces, and if you can get on the end of it then you get on the end of it." The goal meant Murphy finished Confederation Cup as equal top scorer, sharing the honour with French trio Robert Pires, Eric Carriera and Sylvain Wiltord, Takayuki Suzuki (Japan) and Sun Hong Hwang (Korea).
DEANS TO TRIAL IN SCOTLAND
Perth Glory defender Craig Deans is set for trials with newly-promoted Scottish Premier League outfit Livingston. Currently on loan to Premier League side Western Knights, the centre-half is expected to join Livingston for pre-season training in a bid to win a European contract. Deans spent last season trialling with English First Division side Preston North End and came away disappointed that he didn't do himself justice after arriving in the country injured.
WEST AUSSIES SHINE IN THE NSL
It's been a big year in the National Soccer League with nineteen West Australians taking to the park in a playing capacity, while another nine took on roles as match officials. Perth-born Michael Petkovic took out top honours at the end-of-season NSL awards night, winning the Goalkeeper of the Year title with brother Jason Petkovic (Perth Glory) coming in third. First choice 'keeper at South Melbourne, Michael Petkovic took his career tally to 133 games, missing only one game due to international commitments with the Socceroos. Also at South's was well-travelled striker Vas Kalogeracos who found the net six times in 25 games for the minor premiers.
Not surprisingly, the largest contingent of West Aussies in the NSL is at Perth Glory where three players chalked up their 150th NSL appearance. With 28 games and 17 goals this season, Bobby Despotovski took his career tally to 153 games on his way to second place in the NSL Players' Player of the Year poll. Scott Miller made his international debut in March's friendly with Colombia, while at club level the wing-back scored five times in 25 appearances to end 2000/01 with 190 appearances in the competition. And captain Gareth Naven saw action on 23 occasions to take his all-time total to 150.
The only player to feature in all 30 games for Glory was goalkeeper Jason Petkovic, whose 214 NSL games makes him one of the clubs most experienced players. Jamie Harnwell (28 games) and Gary Faria (26 games) were other two local products that were regular features of the side in 2000/01. Alistair Edwards made 19 outings as he closes in on 150 games at this level, while Craig Deans' 12 games saw him end the campaign with 57 NSL appearances spread between Glory and the now-defunct Carlton.
John Carbone was little more than a fringe player and was released at season's end, most of his 20 appearances in 2000/01 being off the bench. Defender Aaron Cole didn't wait that long to show his hand, he quit the club in March after spending just 14 minutes on the park, that against Sydney United in February. Todd Harnwell and Nick Mrdja showed they would be pushing for first team spots next season in the short time they spent on the park this year.
Midfielder Anthony Danze is yet to made his debut for the club, but did made seven appearances - and scored four goals - for the Joeys who will compete in the 2001 Under-17 World Championship in Trinidad and Tobago this September. Other players on Glory's books who didn't make a senior appearance this season were teenager Antonio Naglieri, and back-up goalkeepers Tony Franken and Tommi Tomich, the latter has subsequently been released by the club.
Over at Eastern Pride Robbie Puca's season ended on a sour note when the club was forced to called off its last four games due to a mass player walk-out over the non-payment of wages. The midfielder made 22 appearances for his club before things took a turn for the worst, taking his career total to 69 games and 5 goals since joining the then-Gippsland Falcons in 1998.
In the referees corner, FIFA recognised Eddie Lennie and Angelo Nardi were put in charge of several top level games over the summer. Lennie in particular ended the season in a high, adjudicating the Grand Final for the second consecutive year while being named the Referee of the Year for the fourth time in seven years. Patrick McCaffrey, Stephen Muldoon, Frank Moretti and Michael Nugus ran the line during the season while the local match inspectors were Keith Davies, Jim Sharp and Ahmed Ismail.
JSA TO PARTNER GLORY
Nick Tana's plans for a youth development scheme are again back on track as revealed at a meeting with representatives from the Junior Soccer Association of W.A. clubs on Saturday at Perth Oval. With the blessing of JSA president Bill Oddy, Tana and Glory youth development manager Frank Arok outlined their plans which, according to a document handed out at the meeting, "will be undertaken for the benefit of all clubs and players."
The program will see the metropolitan area split into four geographic zones - north, south, east and central Metropolitan. In total, 128 players will be "put through a unique program of skills drawn up by Frank Arok and executed by highly qualified coaches every week for 46 weeks in the year," read the handout. These sessions will be conducted in addition to the players' club training and will be provided at no cost to the player, his parents/guardians or club.
The idea behind the program is to identify talented soccer players at an early age and give them the opportunity to improve their level of skill. The goal is to nurture young talent in W.A. and assist them in having the best possible chance of becoming a professional player, either in the NSL or overseas.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND TEN (Cockburn City vs Swan I.C. report provided by Community Newspapers reporter Mike Hennessey; Sorrento vs Fremantle City by Kerry Slater)
The first game of the season at Kiev Sports Ground pitted local rivals Inglewood United and Perth. The two clubs have had contrasting season to date, United struggling towards the foot of the table with just seven points from eight outings while their opponents have spent much of the campaign firmly ensconsed in the top half of the ladder. Despite a heavy downpour earlier in the day a big crowd turned up for the unveiling of the grounds new 800 seat stand, with somewhere in the vacinity of 350 spectators in attendance by the time the senior clash kicked-off at 3.00pm.
It was a young and comparatively inexperienced United side that took to the park and not surprisingly the visitors took the upper hand to force their opponents into a lot of defending over the opening quarter-hour. But for all Perth's possession they could not find a way through United's stubborn back four of Jamie Goodman, Jason Godfrey, Ryan Fredericks and Drew Carruthers who were quick to snuff out any danger. The visitors continued to come forward in waves and within minutes of one another Robbie Gaspar, Nick Mrdja and Mark Pottier all had opportunities to put Perth on the board score, but all failed to bring United custodian Oliver Taseski into the action.
United eventually found their rhythm and began to get deep into their opponents half with some enterprising play of their own. A well-worked free-kick on the left saw Greg Sharland send Scott Campbell to the by-line, his over-hit cross almost sneaking into the far top corner. A few minutes later the home team strung together a lovely flowing move featuring six players that ended with Goodman rifling the ball narrowly wide from long-range. It was largely through some brilliant first time passing and great movement down the flanks that United were causing their opponents the most concern but, with the Perth backline in top form, they were unable to get the sort of penetration needed really to test Robert Scarparolo.
Perth should have taken the lead in the 20th minute after Mrdja shrugged off his man and found Gaspar, but his shot from 9-metres skidded disappointingly wide. Six minutes later it was the home side that were denied the lead through a combination of bad luck and alert goalkeeping. Andy Cornwall brought under control a long ball from the middle before blasting it under a diving Scarparolo, only to see the ball come back into play off the base of the left post. Sharland was onto the rebound in a flash, slamming it towards the opposite corner but Scarparolo amazingly got back on his feet in time to launch himself at the ball and tip it out for a corner.
With both sides having enjoyed their share of possession over the first half hour, Perth stepped up a gear in the final 15 minutes but squandered some of the clearest chances of the afternoon. Pottier knew he should have at least tested the 'keeper when he nodded Vince Tana's cross well wide in the 31st minute. Sixty second later Mrdja left the defence in his wake only to spray the ball closer to the corner flag and the goal from 12-metres. After 36 minutes Gaspar carved open the defence but his weak shot didn't trouble Taseski. And six minutes from the break Jamie Coyne sent his shot straight to the 'keeper after a long weaving run.
For much of the period United's defence managed to keep a tight reign on visiting strikers Mrdja and David Onoforo but, with the break fast approaching, the former only needed a second to show just why he is so highly rated. Scarparolo's long clearance was controlled by Mrdja on top of the 18-yard box and, in one calculated move, the striker turned Goodman, held off Fredericks and drove it under the advancing Taseski to give Perth the lead with three minutes left in the half.
United went straight into attack after the interval with Sharland releasing Andy Cornwell whose bullet-like shot rose narrowly over the bar. But it didn't take long for Perth steer control of the game back in their direction and in the 49th minute Gaspar's free-kick rocketed through a poorly organised wall, catching Taseski flat-footed as it crashed into this right post. Shortly after Perry Ielati hit a long-range effort straight to Taseski. And in the 59th minute the United custodian produced a fine reflex save from close-in after Mrdja beat Goodman just outside the 6-yard box.
That should have been enough to suggest to United that it was time to watch Mrdja more closely, but they failed to heed the warning and two minutes later he struck a devastating blow from which the home side would not recover. From just outside the area on the right, Onoforo clipped the ball to the opposite side of the box where Mrdja collected the high ball and, in one lightning-fast move, turned sharply to throw off Fredericks before hammering it past Taseski from 10-metres. Two-nil.
Not content to ease off the throttle a little, Perth continued to attack by channelling the ball through the midfield where Coyne, Gaspar and Pottier dictated play. In the 63rd minute Stephen Willey, who was having an quiet day, played it low to the near post where Onoforo surprised Taseski by flicking it narrowly wide with the outside of his foot and back to goal. Four minutes later it was that man Mrdja who again caused panic in the home defence, this time slipping past Godfrey to open a path to goal only to shoot disappointingly high.
For their part United were well on top out wide, Campbell and Cornwell proving particularly effective, but the side really struggled once they got into their final third. Ielati, Aaron Cole and Michael Icanovski were virtually impregnable at the back for Perth, and behind them Scarparolo was quick off his line to cut out any deep crosses into his area. With his side well out-played, United coach Steve Parkinson introduced the experienced heads of Alex Cummings, Dom Ando and Paul Lincoln midway through the half in an attempt to reel in Perth's dominance.
And six minutes after coming on Lincoln almost pegged back a goal - the striker meeting Cornwell's cross and re-directing it past Scarparolo and towards his top corner only for Ielati headed it over from on the line. It was by far the closest United had come to scoring this half and it looked as though Parkinson's changes might yet bear fruit. But his Perth counterpart Graham Normanton had other ideas, bringing on the attacking trio of Boni Botha, Todd Howarth and Andreas Oliviera which caused the home side to take their focus off going forward for the time being.
Oliviera was a particularly inspired substitution, the teenager injecting renewed life into Perth's attacking forays. Tana and Botha sliced their way through the United backline in the 83rd minute before the latter's pass to Mrdja was intercepted by Godfrey. But no sooner had the ball been cleared than Perth came forward again, this time Mrdja doing all the hard work by keeping possession despite the best efforts of two defenders before laying it off to Oliviera who made no mistake from 7-metres. In the final minute of play Perth would have extended their margin even further if not for a spectacular save by Taseski who dived full-length to keep Mrdja's volley from crossing the line.
A third of the way through this game and United were looking every bit as good as their more fancied opponents, but their inability to break down a well-organised Perth defence would prove a hurdle to big to overcome. The visitors dominated the final hour of this contest through some thoughtful movement both on and off the ball and if not for the heroics of young 'keeper Taseski the final margin might have been much larger. Perth's chief destroyer was once again Mrdja whose close ball control and deadly accuracy inside the 18-yard box proved to be the deciding factor.
Inglewood United : Oliver Taseski, Jason Godfrey, Jamie Goodman, Drew Carruthers, Ryan Fredericks
(Alex Cummings 61), Scott Campbell, Andy Cornwell, Shaun Kilkelly (Dom Ando 70), Daniel Harrop,
Greg Sharland (Paul Lincoln 70), Elton Holmes
Perth : Robert Scarparolo, Perry Ielati, Aaron Cole, Michael Icanovski, Stephen Willey (Andreas Oliveria 72), Vince Tana, Jamie Coyne, Robbie Gaspar, Mark Pottier (Todd Howarth 67), David Onoforo,(Boni Botha 67) Nick Mrdja
Referee : Steve Muldoon
Cautions : None
Dismissals : None
Attendance : 350 (approx.)
The opening minutes of the ECU Joondalup-Floreat Athena clash were played at a frenetic pace as the home side went searching for an early goal. And Joondalup found what they were after in the 8th minute when Hugh Miller's partial clearance fell to Steve White who quickly released it back into the area where Andy Mason sent it past John Xigas to make it 1-0. From the re-start Abdul Kamara robbed Jason Smith and sent new-signing Joondalup Mark Benbow away down the right, his perfectly weighted cross met by Mason whose header slammed against the crossbar. Carl McDarby pounced upon the rebound only to see it come back off the inside of the post before Adrian Sutton scrambled the ball to safety. In the 14th minute Jamie Kuzmanovich conceded a penalty when he brought down Ryan Newhill, the big striker converting to put the visitors back on a level footing. Ten minutes later Athena took the lead against the run of play when defender Dave Evans nodded home Smith's free-kick, and that was the way things stayed going into the break.
Joondalup continued to dominate after the interval with White and Benbow in fine form out wide and creating all sorts of headaches for the opposing defenders. Having been frustrated by the woodwork, Xigas and some desperate defending, the home team drew level on the hour mark when Dale McCulloch and Kamara combined to send Benbow down the flank where he beat his man before whipping a low ball into the box which Mason thumped home. The visitors didn't have much time to re-group before they found themselves a goal down, White's 65th minute corner was flicked on by Sean Fallon and Scott Broadley knocked it over the line in the ensuing goalmouth scramble. Athena plugged away and lookde to have grabbed a point-saving goal when, in the 87th minute, Sutton collected Miller's long clearance before spiriting it to Peter Coci, his cross picking out substitute Adrian Spinelli who made no mistake from inside the 18-yard box. With referee Angelo Nardi playing some eight minutes of stoppage time, Joondalup nabbed the winner with just seconds to spare, but it wasn't without it's controversy. A long ball from Fallon was run onto by Andre Sarpe, who appeared to be in a clear off-side position, the teenager not waiting for the flag to round Xigas before calmly slotting the ball into the back of the net.
Swan I.C. went down 1-4 Cockburn City on Saturday at the Italian Club. It was a disastrous day for Swan with Justin Everley sent off in the 22nd minute. A 10-man Swan were always going to struggle against the in-form Cockburn. Swan gave away two penalties in the first 22 minutes. Branimir Mikulic made no mistake from the spot leaving Cory Hugo with no chance with either kick. Everley was sent off for the second time in three weeks again for a second bookable offence. His handball in the penalty area provided Cockburn with their second goal. Swan worked hard to get back into the game and had a good, gutsy spell in the second half. Paul Borg fired home to reduce the arrears to 2-1 in the 75th minute. For the ten minutes that followed Swan were on top. They hit a post but could not manage to equalise. Cockburn broke away in the final five minutes to score twice through Peter Petkovich and Mikulic with his third goal to make Swan pay dearly for their early indiscretions.
Western Knights struggled to overcome a pumped up Bassendean Caledonian side when the two teams met at Nash Field on Saturday. In the end it took a double from Eugene Singeorzan and another from Andy Lawson to get the home side over the line 3-2, goals from Willie Grubb and Gary James seeing the game go down to the wire.
Sorrento, despite being reduced to ten men, overcame Fremantle City in with a tough and thrilling victory at Ken Allen Field on Sunday. But the result could have been so different had Fremantle capitalized on their early opportunities. In the 1st minute John Mirco was clear with only Neil Young to beat, however, the Sorrento custodian did excellent to block the first attempt and from the rebound Mirco had his effort cleared from the line by Kevin Murphy. Michael Mirco was as dominant on his flank, the Mirco brothers flashing several low crosses into the penalty area only to find no one there to finish off the good work. On 12 minutes John Mirco's drive was only just wide of the right post from 20-metres. Sorrento's first and only real chance of the half came after 20 minutes, Jeans' good cross from the left finding striker Kevin Corriea who blasted into the body of Robert Zabica. In the 39th minute Michael Mirco had the frustration of seeing his shot clip off the cross bar, and a minute into stoppage time Young again saved Sorrento when he blocked an Evan Wallace shot from inside the area.
Sorrento made two changes at the break, Shaun Bowyer and Grant Holt coming on for Ross Greer and Corriea. Any improvement was not immediate and Young was well placed to stop Trim Morgan giving Fremantle the lead after 58 minutes. The arm wrestling that was the midfield battle was little more than a stalemate. The turning point came in the 67th minute when Sorrento's leading scorer Ryan Jeans was dismissed for taking a swing at Cesare De Bartolo. From that point on the visiting team proved their strength of character and quickly adjusted their formation to stun their hosts. Four minutes later De Bartolo conceded a free-kick for a crude tackle on Michael Garcia, the midfielder curled the ball to the far post where Danny Hill directed his header in off the left post. An identical situation on the right a few minutes later almost produced the same result but this time Hill's header was just over the bar. The home side made a number of substitutions in an attempt to get something from the match, but they received a set-back when on 79 minutes De Bartolo was given his marching orders for another vicious foul on Garcia. With the numbers again even, Sorrento controlled play and in the 88th minute Todd Harnwell was denied by the good positioning of Zabica. Then two minutes later Sorrento landed a knock out blow - Holt held up a long clearance before releasing the ball into the path of Glen Thomas, who comprehensibly beat the exposed Zabica. A minute into stoppage time Craig Surtees almost reduced the deficit, but the defender couldn't get enough on his header. The three championship points went to Sorrento who reclaimed top spot from Cockburn City, who had held the position for just twenty-four hours.
FIRST DIVISION ROUND-UP (Armadale vs Canning City report provided by Michael Di Pietro)
With only five rounds left in the regular season it’s looking increasingly as though there is only one spot up for grabs in the First Divison (South) play-off series. Armadale maintained its challenge for that spot with a solid demolition of newly formed Canning City on Saturday. The Reds found plenty of room to knock the ball around and the game was all over after 30 minutes with goals from Jason Goodwin (19th, 33rd), Darren Ingham (24th) and Dennis Lee (29th). Before the end of a very good half by the Reds Goodwin put the icing on the cake with a well deserved hat-trick in the 41st minute. After the break the Reds tried to carry on from where they left off, but the goal number six didn't arrive until the 64th minute when Darren Clark found himself one-on-one with the ‘keeper to slip it past him, but unfortunately Clark was stretchered off after colliding with the ‘keeper. Canning scored in the 68th minute thanks to defensive error. Nick Twyman restored the six goal buffer in the 74th minute and Darren Ingham got his second for the match in the 83rd minute to conclude the scoring festivities at 8-1.
Third-placed Leeming Strikers went into their away clash with fifth-placed South West Phoenix as clear favourites after defeating their opponents 3-0 earlier in the season, Phoenix coming off a 6-1 Boral Cup loss just five days earlier. But Phoenix had other ideas and the first half saw the sides slug out a highly entertaining match in which the respective defences stood head and shoulders above the rest. The Strikers started the second half with a bang but failed to convert their opportunities. The home sounded their intentions in the 53rd minute when Steve Rodgers first time shot whistled narrowly wide. Five minutes later Elliot Gibson and Sasa Garic combined to send Stephen Suttie on his way between two defenders, only to be hauled down from behind - Garic took the resulting free-kick and picked his spot from 18-metres to put Phoenix 1-0. Seven minutes later Striker were back on a level footing when they charged down the left and were allowed to charge unchallenged into the box and Reece Braithwaite was left with no chance from 5-metres. The introduction of young Steven Waycott had an immediate effect on the Phoenix midfield, and with 20 minutes remaining they retook the lead. Damien Trim spent the ball to Steve Rodgers who immediately released Stephen Suttie with another well-weighted pass and this time he gave the defence no chance, drawing the ‘keeper before slotting it past home from the top of the 18-yard box. The goal deflated the visitors chances and five minutes later the result was out beyond any doubt when Garic latched on to Steve Rodgers defence splitting pass then hammered the ball into the top right hand corner of the goal to make it 3-1.
Elsewhere, Morley Windmills made Queens Park fight hard for maximum points at Wootton Reserve, the visitors running out 2-1 to stay three points clear at the top of the ladder. Second-placed Rockingham City struggled but finally overcame Southside United 1-0 thanks to a goal from Graeme Matthews. Phoenix stay fourth with Armadale just three points behind.
The surprise of the First Division (North) games took place at Frank Drago Reserve where bottom side Bayswater City, who are yet to win this season, held leaders the Stirling Lions to a two-all draw. Ashfield let slip the opportunity to go overhaul the Lions when the best they could do against eighth-placed Balcatta was a one-all draw. Perth City continued to make ground on the leaders by defeating Wanneroo City 2-1 away from home. Kingsway Olympic remain fourth despite having the bye, while Dianella White Eagles’ 3-2 win over Stirling Suns lifts them to fifth place.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND TEN (IN BRIEF)
Perth spoilt the opening of the new stand at Kiev Sports Ground when they defeated Inglewood United 3-0 on Saturday. Nick Mrdja gave the visitors the lead close to the end of an even first half, then proved the inspiration after the break as Perth ran away with the match. Mrdja grabbed his second in the 61st, minute and substitute Andreas Oliveira wrapped up the three points seven minutes from full-time.
It took a late strike to separate ECU Joondalup and Floreat Athena, the former winning a seven-goal thriller. Branimir Mikulic's hat-trick saw Cockburn City easy winners over a ten-man Swan I.C., while the Western Knights struggled to a 3-2 against the visiting Bassendean Caledonian. Sorrento re-claimed top spot on Sunday when they defeated Fremantle City 2-0 away from home.
PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW
The second half of the Premier League season gets underway over the weekend with just four points separating the top seven teams. The game of the ground will be at Ken Allen Field where Fremantle City play Sorrento on Sunday. Fremantle will be looking to regain their early season momentum after dropping points recently to Cockburn City and Swan I.C. but might find the going too tough against the competition's leading scorers.
In the Saturday games, Bassendean Caledonian will be on a high after hammering Cockburn and could well shock again when they travel to play the Western Knights, who have lost each of their past three encounters. Inconsistent would sum up ECU Joondalup's League form to date but they'll be full of confidence after holding Perth to a draw last week. Unfortunately it's their opponents, Floreat Athena, who will go into their fixture as favourites after three victories in the past fortnight. Cockburn will be desperate to bounce back from last weeks loss and take home maximum points from their away clash with Swan, who are still searching for win number one this season. And at Kiev Sports Ground, where Inglewood United are opening their new stand, Perth should prove too strong for the home team.
THE RESULTS FROM FRANCE
The West Australian Under-19 side has finished the 12-team Tournai de Croix in eleventh place after a crushing victory over the side from China's Province of Chengdu. The tournament started in promising fashion for the local youngster who held Vitoria Guimaraës (Portugal) to a scoreless draw. Twenty-four hours later W.A. were on the receiving end of a 1-4 hiding by eventual runners-up Lens (France).
In the finals to decide place nine through twelve, the Tunisian National Team ran out comfortable 3-1 to set-up the 11th/12th place play-off between W.A. and Chengdu which ended in the side from Perth thrashing their opponents 5-0. Inglewood United's Oliver Taseski was named the Best Goalkeeper of the tournament.
For 18-year old Clint Davies the tournament proved a roaring success. The young West Australian was in goal for Birmingham City who cruised their way to the trophy, crushing Lens 4-0 in the final. City's Tresor Luntala was named the event's Best Player, with teammate Craig Fagan Top Scorer on six goals. The Blues also received the trophy for the Most Attacking side, while the Best Defensive Record was won by Royal Excelsior Mouscron. The Fair Play Award was taken out by the Province of Chengdu.
GIVING OURSELVES A PLUG
It's not often that we get to blow our own trumpet, but the fact that the W.A. Soccer Website has been recognised overseas seems like something worth bragging about. Page 27 of England's "Racing and Football Outlook" (issue dated 29th May-4th June) features a review of Australian soccer websites which includes "the excellent, unofficial Western Australian Soccer Website. This contains match reports on the Western Premier games, usually by the middle of the following week. It's full of news too, although sometimes they get carried away : last summer they went on about Gazza joining Joondalup." Well, it was big news over here at the time ... wasn't it?
This also seems like the right time to announce some exciting news regarding the W.A. Soccer Website. As of very late last week, we are now accessible via the all new web address of www.soccerwa.com which will automatically re-direct you to the much longer (and much more confusing!) address that we so fondly refer to as home. If you would like to contact us feel welcome to email Jacob (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Brett (email@example.com)
SOCCER ON THE GROW IN GOLDFIELDS
Junior soccer is booming to the east of the Stirling Ranges according to Goldfields Junior Soccer Association president Ann-Mare Ford. "The youth of the Goldfields have embraced soccer with enthusiasm," Ford said this week. "We are the largest junior sporting body in the Goldfields region. The popularity of Perth Glory among our younger players is amazing, with many of them wanting to wear the same number on their shirt as their favourite Glory player."
The association has 108 teams in competition ranging from Under-5's through to Under-16's, and while the majority of those sides are based in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, they do spread as far as Kambalda. "Our numbers have grown rapidly, having more than doubled since 1996," Ford said. "We now have 1,170 participating players for 2001 and new player enquiries are still coming in daily. We have outgrown the smaller sports grounds and now have games at two venues. For those people who know Kalgoorlie-Boulder, roo-ball is played at the Cruickshanks Sports Arena and the League games are held at Usher Park."
"The Association and clubs are administered by volunteers, mostly parents, (some of whom have undertaken sports administration courses), interested in promoting the game of soccer and encouraging the participation of young people in sport. We have a small band of dedicated people who spend there spare time, away from work and family commitments, ensuring that Soccer remains at the forefront of sporting activities in the Goldfields."
ERGIC LOST TO AUSTRALIA?
Australia look to have lost the services of one-time Perth Glory midfielder Ivan Ergic who was last week named in the Yugoslav Under-21 squad. While it is not yet clear if Ergic made his debut for Yugoslavia, he was part of the 21-man squad named to travel to Moscow on the weekend where Russia defeated the visitors 0-2 in the Under-21 European Championship Qualification match. The move comes despite Ergic's claims in January that he was committed to representing Australia at international level.
The midfielder's rise to fame has been swift. Born in Belgrade, 16-year old Ergic came to Western Australia in 1997 and within 12 months took up a scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport where he helped the side to the 1999 NSL Youth championship. 1999/2000 was spent with Perth Glory after which time he signed with Italian giants Juventus for $1.6 million. Ergic was loaned to Swiss outfit FC Basel for the recent European season, the midfielder making 24 appearances for the senior side. But repeated requests to become involved with the Australian youth team now appear to have had no impact on the rising star.
JUNIORS HEADING TO SINGAPORE
The West Australian Under-16 team will shortly be heading to Singapore where they will take part in the Lion City Cup. Having last won the tournament in 1994, the W.A. has made the final for the past four years running only to stumble at the last hurdle. Coach Ron Tindale spoke to John O'Connell on 990 6RPH Information Radio this week about how things stand some two weeks from departure.
"We've had one or two problems with players unable to make the trip for one reason or another but we've now virtually finalised the squad," Tindale said. "But we haven't been able to get in as many matches as I would have liked. We leave on 17th June and the long weekend made it difficult to get a mid-week match with many of the players turning out at least twice for their clubs. So we don't have a game this Wednesday but we will the following week."
Last year W.A. made it through the qualification stage undefeated only to crash 3-0 to Ghanaian side Olympia Athletic in the tournament decider. Despite the good showing, Tindale said the playing conditions in Singapore at thins time of the year were something he had not expected. "We could have taken 20 players last year and we ended up taking only 17, and this time around we're only taking 16 which could present a problem as we ran into difficulties last year in regards to the very humid conditions. Obviously the boys are only 15 and 16 and they've not really experienced how to manage the full 90 minutes. We always seem to start off at 100 miles an hour and that's going to be an experience we can learn from last year when we had players having problems early in the second half because of the humidity."
Tindale will use the event in Singapore as preparation for the National Talent Identification Championships which will be held in New South Wales in late September which is the Junior Soccer Associations main goal. But Tindale believes the Lion City Cup can provide young players invaluable experience that might come in handy later it their careers. "One of the key things is that the players will get the experience of what it is like to be a professional player. With the squad they train everyday, they play and get instruction and they learn what it is like to focus purely on soccer," he said.
BORAL CUP, ROUND THREE
South West Phoenix made the long road journey from Bunbury on Monday for the Boral Cup Third Round tie with Floreat Athena at Litis Stadium. Coach Joe Kelly spoke pre-match of his disappointment in being forced to field an under-strength side after five key players - big striker Sasha Garic, David North, Steve Rodgers, Brett Norrie and promising youngster Steve Waycott - pulled out late in the piece. In addition, 'keeper Reece Braithwaite carried a muscle injury into the game, while the entire Phoenix bench had turned out for either the Under-18's or reserves earlier in the day. It was hardly the sort of preparation Kelly had wanted going into the game with one of the Premier League's top dogs.
It didn't take long for the game to settle into a pattern that would be maintained for much of the 90 minutes. Within minutes of the kick-off Athena took control across the centre of the park from where they built one attack after another to have the visiting defence under immense pressure. Phoenix were restricted to breaking on the counter-attack but, for the most part, spent this game performing duties in their defensive half of the pitch.
The first ten minutes saw the ball hardly cross the half-way line with the home side intent on drawing first blood. In particular it was winger Costa Socratous that was doing most of the damage, using his close control and pace to leave opponents trailing in his wake on the right. In the 3rd minute Socratous' deep cross from the right found Ryan Newhill but his header flew over the bar. Four minutes later Newhill got on the end of another Socratous cross, this time Braithwaite pulling off a tremendous diving save to keep things on an even knell.
Not surprisingly, Phoenix took a long time to settle but once they did there were signs that when the visiting players focused on the task at hand they could prove just as dangerous. In the 11th minute, the visitors strung together a great move which got them inside the Athena area, Jack Grabowski, Stephen Suttie, Joe Comito and Greg Hayes combining on the right with a lovely display of passing and movement off the ball which ended in a corner to the visitors. But for all Phoenix' hard work, the home defence were not troubled when the ball was swung in and they instantly went back on the attack.
Miguel Ortin made space for himself on the left in the 15th minute and sent the ball into the area low, but Peter Coci was unable to capitalise due to the presence of Chris Gaynor. Two minutes later there was little the visitors could do to prevent Athena from taking the lead. >From 35-metres, Troy Bernard's free-kick was flicked on by Adrian Sutton and Ortin nodded the ball past Braithwaite at the far post. And it was very nearly two-nil minutes later when the Phoenix defence conceded possession without a fight and, with Braithwaite well out of position, the visitors breathed a collective sigh of relief when Sutton's low drive skidded wide.
The remainder of the half was all one-way traffic as Athena easily broke down their opponents attacking forays before switching to attack mode themselves. Sutton made amends for his earlier miss when, in the 25th minute, he out-jumped the defence to meet Coci's corner which he sent past the 'keeper at the back post. A minute after coming on, substitute Andrew O'Neill curled the ball into the box where Coci's attempted chip over Braithwaite failed to test the 'keeper. Socratous was proving too hot to handle out wide and in the 32nd minute he turned Andrew Cantoni before laying it off to Sutton whose drive from 16-metres flew narrowly over the bar.
Virtually a spectator, Athena goalkeeper John Xigas enjoyed the opportunity to soak up the winter sunshine while his side applied the pressure at the far end. And he was thrilled when the home side extended their lead in the 36th minute, again Socratous the provider. The wingers' deep cross was brought under controlled by O'Neill who mis-hit across the face of goal, Newhill reacted quick and cheekily back-heeled it into the net from 6-metres. Two minutes from the break O'Neill decided to try his luck from long range only for his thumping shot to clear the bar.
Phoenix came out after the interval with new determination and three minutes into the half Stephen Suttie raced clear down the left and, with only the 'keeper to beat, the striker finished poorly. But the visitors couldn't maintain the level of concentration to break down their far more experienced opponents and before long Athena were back in control. After 52 minutes Sutton picked out Robyn Dyers, he knocked it into the path of substitute Andrew Afkos and Braithwaite produced a stunning save from close-range. O'Neill was having the game of his life and three minutes later his corner was headed wide by George Tiniakos at the near post. Shortly after Elliot Gibson prevented a certain goal on the line after another O'Neill corner.
Any remote chance that Phoenix had of getting back in this game vanished in a devastating three minute period around the hour mark. In the 59th minute Bernard capped a brilliant run to find the target, heading the bouncing ball over one opponent and flicking it past another before slamming it under the body of Braithwaite from 7-metres. A 61st minute corner by O'Neill was played to Afkos who lobbed it to the back post and Athena captain Hugh Miller ran in unchecked to head it past the 'keeper who was left well exposed by a dozing defence.
Five-nil with thirty minutes remaining and it was looking likely Athena would hit double figures before the final whistle blew. A minute after goal number five Dyers headed Bernard's cross wide of the target. In the 65th minute O'Neill's superb long pass was collected by Coci, but Alex Cosenza refused to give up the fight and dispossessed the striker after a seesawing tussle for possession. Not long after, new-signing Jamie D'Arcy found O'Neill whose speculative shot curled safely into the arms of the Phoenix 'keeper.
In the 71st minute O'Neill out-sprinted the defence to a long ball only to shoot high. Sixty seconds later it was Bernard who found space but his volley rocketed the wrong side of Braithwaite's right post. Athena finally bagged goal six with 15 minutes left on the clock. Sutton's short throw-in was brought down by Afkos who, spotting the 'keeper off his line, sent an inch-perfect chip over Braithwaite which kissed the underside of the bar on it's way in the back of the net.
But rather than continuing on with the job, the goal signalled Athena's easing off of the pace and two minutes later Phoenix restored some lost pride. Athena were slow to respond to Stephen Suttie's ball into the heart of the area and David Suttie nipped in to slip it past Xigas to make it 6-1. What followed was a mini-revival from the visitors. With 79 minutes gone, Greg Hayes tested Xigas with a thundering shot from long range which produced an equally spectacular save from the Athena custodian. A minute later David Suttie was denied his second goal by Xigas after being sent inside the box by a teammate. And David Rodgers' 82nd minute shot from 12-metres was blocked by a defender, David Suttie disappointingly sending the follow-up clear across the face of goal.
Phoenix' period in control didn't last long, however, and in the closing minutes they found themselves under increasing pressure at the back. Sutton's shot was cleared off the line by a defender after he snuck it past Braithwaite. Then Coci scooped his shot into the arms of the 'keeper from 12-metres. In the 89th minute Coci turned his marker to shoot and Braithwaite made a fantastic diving save, O'Neill was onto the parry in an instant but his shot came back off the base of the up-right. And in the final minute Miller timed he leap to perfection when he met Bernard's corner, the midfielders header skimming the wrong side of the crossbar.
Athena deservedly went through to the semi-final stage which will be played over the weekend of Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th August. Socratous was a highlight on the right flank in the first half, while O'Neill showed he is more than ready to step up to first team football on the opposite side. In the middle it was Sutton that orchestrated the victory with some fine distribution. This game was always going to be an up-hill struggle for Phoenix who lost several key figures before setting off on the three hour coach trip to Perth. Goalkeeper Braithwaite was the stand-out performer, almost single-handedly preventing the margin from blowing out even further with some timely saves. But despite being out-played all over the park, the Phoenix players never once stopped giving 100% until that final whistle sounded. "A spirited performance against an very good side where lessons have been learned," Phoenix coach Kelly would say in hindsight.
Floreat Athena : John Xigas, Troy Bernard, Hugh Miller, George Tiniakos, Jamie D'Arcy, Costa Socratous
(Andrew Afkos 46), Miguel Ortin (Andrew O'Neill 27), Adrian Sutton, Peter Coci, Ryan Newhill
(Peter Nikoloski 49), Robyn Dyers
South West Phoenix : Reece Braithwaite, Chris Gaynor, Damian Trim, Alex Cosenza, Andrew Cantoni (Adam Cole 82), Elliot Gibson, Greg Hayes, Jack Grabowski, Joe Comito (David Rodgers 67), David Suttie, Stephen Suttie
Referee : Derek Minett
Cautions : Grabowski (41)
Dismissals : None
Attendance : 150 (approx.)
Premier League outfit Perth also breezed into the Boral Cup semi-finals with a big victory over their First Division opponent the Stirling Suns at Dorrien Gardens. Midfielder Jamie Coyne put the home side in the box seat just five minutes into the game and a Mark Pottier double saw Perth race to a 3-0 half-time lead. Defender Aaron Cole extended the margin early in the second half before substitute Rhys Graham came into the action and bagged two goals of his own. Perth coach Graham Normanton was happy with his side's performance, saying things were all but over very early on. "It was a stroll in the park really and something you need after you've just played a league game on Saturday." Normanton also singled out the efforts of teenager Graham who was earlier in the year part of the Australian Schoolboys squad. "It was a good opportunity for young Rhys and he looked very impressive. He's very quick and aggressive."
At Dalmatinac Park, Cockburn City left it until late before edging past fellow Premier League side ECU Joondalup. With chances wasted at both ends of the park, Branimir Mikulic converted a penalty late in the game to see his side progress to the semi-finals. Sorrento's quarter-final fixture with Inglewood United was postponed until later in the season.
IN CONVERSATION WITH SHAUN MURPHY (Reproduced with permission from Soccer Australia)
One of the West Australians representing the Socceroos at the Confederations Cup over the past fortnight was one-time Sorrento defender Shaun Murphy who now plies his trade in England's First Division with Sheffield United. The folks from Soccer Australia chatted with Murphy on the eve of Australia's second group stage fixture with France to discuss his involvement in the national team, the recently completed English season and his future ...
As a player, what is the difference between Shaun Murphy 2001, and Shaun Murphy of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics?
Family. My wife and two kids, who take up a lot of my time are a pretty big change in 10 years, because instead of focusing on just yourself and your game and performances, you have other priorities. As a footballer, I'm obviously more experienced, it's a much bigger challenge playing in Europe than at home - it's the number one game in England and a priority - it's a way of life, not just for me, but for so many of the fans.
You scored the opening goal in the game against New Zealand that got us here ... and you scored the opening goal in the game that got us off to the flying start against Mexico ... is it going to become a regular thing?
I hope so! I've scored a few goals for Sheffield United this season, and seem to be getting in the right spot at the right time. Most of my goals come from headers, although I have scored a couple - just a couple - with my feet. Against Mexico, I shouted out to Clayton (Zane) to leave it and he reckons he heard me, so he did. I didn't know if it was going in - I was a little blinded by him being in my way, and I wasn't even sure I was going to get on the end of it, I just went through the motions and it went in.
What's the feeling in camp now, with a win under your collective belts in the first game?
Everyone feels that we have it all to play for. If we'd got nothing out of that game, then the next two would be very difficult, but winning, and Korea losing puts us in a very good position to qualify for next round. Winning your opening game gives you a lot of confidence, but above all, I'd say everyone's still very level headed - games don't come much harder than against France tonight - Mexico was a challenge, but France will be something altogether different, so let's not get too ahead of ourselves just yet.
After such a long season, and with the prospect of little time off before Club duties resume, was it a tough decision to make the trip to Korea for the Confederations Cup?
No, not at 30 years of age, and having just broken into the national team- at my age you don't pick and choose when you want to play for your country. But in saying that, I just enjoy playing for Australia, it's an honour ... as simple as that.
How far can Australia go in the Confederations Cup?
Obviously we're looking to qualify for the next round - after that it becomes a bit of luck, a bit of good fortune and a lot of good play, so who knows. We're just looking at this round at the moment, and game by game.
We hear and read a lot about the English Premier League but not so much of the First Division ... in your own words, what was season 2000/2001 all about with Sheffield United?
The club has been in a bit of financial trouble for the past few years, so this season was really a consolidation season, but in the end we progressed more than we'd anticipated I think. We were consistent in the top 6 until towards the end of the season, where we fell away a bit, but it was exciting to have something to play for, not a relegation scrap. Personally, I had a great season, I played in every game and actually walked off with the Player Of The Year award, which was fantastic - it was by far my best season in England. I'm contracted with United for another two years, they renewed my contract this season, and I'm very happy where I am. It's a common cliché in football, but the lads at United are a really good bunch of lads - you can talk all you want about team spirit, but we all get on which makes the whole package very enjoyable. I've also lived just outside of Sheffield for the last 9-10 years, so things are very settled all round - why would you change anything?
Think back to the goals and ambitions you set yourself as an 18 year old - would you say you've accomplished most of them?
Obviously everyone still has goals, and I still have mine. Back then, I was studying at uni, looking to become an engineer - I never thought I'd become a professional footballer, when I left the AIS, I thought that was pretty much it, I'd go back to Perth and play part time football. I suppose looking back then, no one expected us to do so well at the Barcelona Olympics, or the qualifying games against Holland, but I was able to ride on the back of that and get a professional contract in England. It was a matter of let's see how it goes, and if it didn't go well, I'd go back to studying. I haven't been back to the studies since!! So at 30, my ambition is what we're doing right now - trying to qualify for the World Cup, seeing out my two years with Sheffield United - and hopefully getting into the Premier League with the club.
What do you see as your strengths as a defender?
I'm pretty strong in the air, and organizational at the back. We have a good understanding in the squad - we've played a fair bit together now over the years, and we all play back four at club level at the moment - so it translates well into international football.
Australia is blessed with some solid options in the backline - how do you get on with your fellow defenders, and what is the competition like for places?
The competition is very strong for places, especially with such good players coming through like Hayden Foxe and Stephen Laybutt, so no one can afford to rest on their laurels - but we all get on. There's a job to be done, we're very professional like that - but we can all sit down and have a coffee and a chat together as well.
What do you miss most about Australia?
(big sigh) - the climate. So many things, but the main one is the climate, and the beach. Yes, definitely the beach. In England, what they qualify as a beach doesn't register on my scale.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
On a beach. Teaching my kids to swim. Somewhere in Perth.
And finally Shaun, what's your tip for young players out there?
Believe in yourself, and be prepared to take the knock backs with the good stuff.
NO EASY RIDE SAYS NORMANTON
Perth coach Graham Normanton say his team should not expect an easy ride in the Boral Cup semi-finals when they take on First Division challengers the Stirling Suns at Dorrien Gardens on Monday. After being held to a one-all draw with ECU Joondalup in the League yesterday, Normanton said he would be taking no chances against their lower ranked opponents. "This is definitely a danger game for us and if we don't go out there with the right attitude it'll be difficult," he said on the eve of the Cup tie. "We'll have to be up for it. They won't need any motivation. But a win for us could really set us up for the rest of the season."
Normanton felt missed chances cost his side three points against Joondalup. Mark Pottier gave the visitors the lead in the opening half, only for Sean Fallon's equaliser just after the break to mean the sides shared the points. "We missed a couple of chances and, on reflection, we should have won it." With Todd Howarth and Andreas Oliviera absent with the W.A. Under-19 side in France, Perth will also be without midfielder Rob Giorgi who strained his groin against Joondalup.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND NINE (Fremantle City vs Swan I.C. report provided by Community Newspapers reporter Mike Hennessey)
For the first time in weeks, Bassendean Caledonian coach Barry Smith had the luxury of selecting from a near-full playing squad when his team hosted second placed Cockburn City on Saturday. Wing-backs Jason Van Rooy and Kevin Griffiths had recently returned from injury, while new-comer Lee Burns has quickly settled into life at Jubilee Reserve. In the City camp the only notable absentee was midfielder Dean Gartside who was sent off last week against Fremantle City, otherwise Laslo Korakai also had his full squad available. Coming off four successive wins, and clear favourites today, victory number five would see the visitors overhaul Sorrento at the top of the Premier League table.
A slow and rather uneventful opening 20 minutes saw both teams take a long time find their feet on a pitch which was left spongy by overnight rains. As a result there were very few shots on goal in a very even opening period. The first opportunity came the way of the home side, Jason van Rooy's long ball from midfield catching out the City defence and Gary James raced through on goal only to hit his effort wide in the 8th minute. The visitors didn't manage anything until the 16th minute, Dusan Macura's free-kick from 25-metres swinging in the area and Scott Bailey rising unchallenged to head it straight to goalkeeper Tommi Tomich.
But once the two teams settled and found their rhythm, the pace picked up and there was activity inside both penalty areas. Breaking on the counter-attack, Mark Cox wriggled past an opponent after 26 minutes but his shot from the top corner of the 18-yard box flew narrowly wide. Less than 60 seconds later the Caledonian defence was slow to react inside their defensive area and Jason Faria tested Tomich from close range, only to find the young 'keeper in superb form. It wasn't until the 29th minute that the game really came to life when, in just his third outing for the club, midfielder Lee Burns gave Caledonian a surprise lead. Van Rooy's cross from the left evaded several players around the penalty spot and the 18-year old showed great composure to slot the ball across the body of Dino Pacella and inside the far post.
Having managed just one shot in 30 minutes, City upped the tempo and dominated the remainder of the half but failed to make use of their chances. Branimir Mikulic showed great pace to go past his marker in the 34th minute to send a low cross into the area, Peter Petkovich flicking it wide with the outside of his foot. Three minutes later Gary Numan's low cross from the right saw defender Aaron Moscopoulos almost turn it past his own 'keeper - the resulting corner was hit long and Mikulic's stab at goal found Tomich well positioned on the line. Five minutes from the interval Mikulic made a weaving run which took him past several defenders only to hold on to the ball for too long and Tomich made a smothering save at his feet.
After the re-start the visitors continued to strive for an equaliser and three good opportunities went begging in quick succession. A long pass from midfield saw Petkovich beat the defence but he failed to extend Tomich when it mattered. Then Tomich twice came to his sides rescue after some sloppy Caledonian defending. With time to spare, Mikulic shot low from the penalty spot for which Tomich produced a sprawling save to his right, Faria seized upon the parry but before he had time to think the 'keeper had pounced at his feet to take possession.
The home side slowly stemmed the flow and what resulted was a period in which chances came thick and fast at both ends of the ground. In the 50th minute Burns lobbed precisely over the defence onto which Cox sped, only to volley his first-time effort over the bar. Two minutes later it was Numan who raced through with only the 'keeper to beat after the Caledonian defence was caught flat-footed but he sprayed his shot wide of the up-right. Shortly after Boza Erakovic climbed highest to meet Mucura's free-kick but he too failed to test Tomich.
Twelve minutes into the half Tomich's long clearance flicked the heads of two City players in the centre circle and fell into the path of Burns who, after a short run, slammed a low shot past Pacella which tucked itself in at the far post. It was poor marking by the visiting side - two players contesting the same ball and leaving an opponent free - but full credit must be given to the teenager who calmly raced through on goal before finding the net. Shortly after, the margin was almost increased when Davorin Svirac hauled down Cox just outside the area, but Lennon's strong drive rose over the bar.
Now two goals down, City had no option but to attack and they'd control proceedings for the next 15 minutes. But as hard as they tried, there was just no way past the Caledonian defence that was marshalled by veteran George Ramm with Willie Grubb and Moscopoulos by his side. Midfielder Martin Woodall also dropped back to help shoulder the burden along with wing-backs Van Rooy and Griffith. For all the possession the visitors enjoyed, they managed nothing that caused Tomich concern.
The proverbial 'straw which broke the camel's back' came in the 74th minute. Burns lifted the ball over the City defence and that was all Cox needed - racing onto the ball and holding off one defender before skilfully turning another, then sending a delicate chip over the 'keeper which found the far top corner of the goal. As the ball rippled the back of the net the Caledonian supporters went into raptures, safe in the knowledge that their side had knocked off one of the competition's high-flyers.
But four minutes later it looked as though the celebrations could have been premature. Burns, who was undoubtedly Caledonian's hero, lashed out at an opponent in retaliation and referee Angelo Nardi was left with no choice but to issue the teenager with an instant red card. Sensing the possibility of taking something home from the game, City again stepped up the pressure. Macura made a solid run in the 80th minute only to let himself down by sending his shot straight to the chest of Tomich. Three minutes later Numan's explosive shot was deflected for a corner by Van Rooy.
The visitors continued to press forward in a desperate search for at least a consolation goal, but the Caledonian players were keen on keeping their first clean sheet in a month. Tomich produced a brilliant reflex save from close range in the 89th minute when he parried Numan's shot after two defenders over-ran the ball. The danger wasn't over yet, Numan collecting the loose ball and clipping it to far post where substitute Mileta Miletic squandered a golden opportunity when all he needed was to touch the ball over the line. Caledonian had one last burst in them, Keith Shortall and James combining in the final minute with the former sending a thundering shot from 18-metres whizzing narrowly wide.
Caledonian coach Smith would have been a very happy man on Saturday night after his side gained itself some much needed breathing space at the bottom half of the Premier League table. The club have showed signs of improvement in recent weeks and today should they can turn on the style when they put their mind to it. The home side effectively shut their opponents out of the game for long periods and always looked dangerous when going forward. Today City were nothing but a shadow of the side that have been such a revelation this season, failing to get out of first gear and rarely putting Tomich to the test.
Bassendean Caledonian : Tommi Tomich, George Ramm, Willie Grubb, Aaron Moscopoulos, Kevin Griffith,
Jason Van Rooy, Martin Woodall, Lee Burns, Mark Cox (Keith Shortall 79), Gary James, Mark Lennon
Cockburn City : Dino Pacella, Dusan Macura, Davorin Svirac, Steve Adam, Gary Numan, Paul Cooke, Boza Erakovic, Jason Faria (Jamie Bell 70), Peter Petkovic (Mileta Miletic 63), Branimir Mikulic, Scott Bailey (Craig Anderson 75)
Referee : Angelo Nardi
Cautions : Svirac (60)
Dismissals : Burns (79)
Attendance : 175 (approx.)
Swan I.C. battled courageously to earn a precious point from a 0-0 draw in their Premier League match against Fremantle City at Ken Allen Field on Saturday afternoon. It was a tough, dour encounter in a game for the true believers. Swan were shaken in the first minute when Anthony Pereira's shot hit the bar but quickly settled down to have the better of the first twenty minutes. City then began to dominate particularly down their left flank but floundered against a solid defence in which Dean Milnar and goalkeeper Cory Hugo were outstanding. A fierce shot by Carlo Scali took a wicked deflection to curl just over the bar and Fremantle had a near miss at the far post just before half-time. Despite all efforts the game remained scoreless at the interval. Half-time changes by Swan saw them making better progress down the right but neither side looked like scoring as goalkeepers Rob Zabica (City) and Hugo (Swan) dominated their goal areas. Swan ended the game looking the more likely to grab a winner and only a desparate clearance off the goal line by Casare De Bartolo prevented them from taking the three points. As it was both sides gained a deserved point. Swan could feel the more pleased with a point away from home that should put them in good shape to tackle Cockburn City at the Italian Club next Saturday.
Perth took a first half lead thanks to midfield general Mark Pottier when they faced ECU Joondalup away from home. But Sean Fallon's equaliser shortly after the break ensured the points were shared between the two sides. In front of a healthy crowd at Nash Field, the Western Knights inability to converted numerous first half chances would prove fateful against Floreat Athena for whom Ryan Newhill and Miguel Ortin found the net to give the visitors maximum points.
FIRST DIVISION ROUND-UP (Armadale-Morley Windmills report provided by Michael Di Pietro; Ashfield-Wanneroo City details provided by Craig Culverwell of the Ashfield website)
Saturday's match between Armadale and Morley Windmills was certainly worth the admittance fee, as both teams entertained the crowd with great goals and plenty of end to end action until the final whistle. >From the outset the pace of the game was fast and furious with the Reds in control for most of the first half. But it was the visitors who took the lead in the 24th minute when the ball was floated to the far post and Armadale failed to respond and the Windmills striker had the simple task of heading it into the back of the net. The reply was only nine minutes away when a good bit of play down the right resulted in Darren Ingham beating an opponent before crossing to the far post where Jason Goodwin slid in to make sure the ball crossed the line. With three points there for the taking, Armadale went in front after 58 minutes when Dennis Lee took control just beyond the half way line and initiated a run down the left, beating a couple of opponents and easily placing the ball past the oncoming 'keeper. The goal brought the home crowd to life but they were silenced just 60 seconds later when a Morley player repeated the same run - but in the opposite direction - to level the scores. Good chances came the way of Armadale's Jason Goodwin and Gary Murdoch, but in the 72nd minute Morley re-took the lead after another solo effort which began in the middle of the park. Armadale looked to have blown it when they were reduced to 10 men, Peter Lord dismissed for his second yellow card offence. Two substitutions followed which proved to be the saviour for the reds - in the 81st minute a deep cross found replacement (and coach) Billy Russell who rose like a young salmon out of water to give his side a deserved share in the points.
Coming off back-to-back wins and with a very large home crowd behind them, Southside United were expected to do the business over visiting South West Phoenix when the sides met on Saturday. But Phoenix refused to adhere to the script and would go home with three valuable First Division (South) points. Having lost defender David North early on, Phoenix controlled this game from the middle of the park and in the 22nd minute took the lead when Stephen Suttie set-up Sasa Garic who netted with a superb volley from 20-metres. Phoenix opened up the home defence with regularity and should have extended their lead before the break, but instead would go in at one-all. A defensive error in the 35th minute saw an unmarked Southside player knock it past Reece Braithwaite with a well-placed header. Ten minutes after the interval United were reduced to ten men and the visitors wasted no time in taking advantage. The diminutive Elliot Gibson notched Phoenix's second when he got on the end of a Greg Hayes cross, and five minutes later jumped the tall United 'keeper to make it 3-1. Garic got his second goal with 15 minutes left when he beat the offside trap and smashed an unstoppable shot past the 'keeper. David Suttie completed the thrashing when he bagged goal number five with a great long-range effort.
Both Queens Park and Rockingham City went into their top of table First Division (South) clash undefeated after seven rounds of competition. And at the end of 90 minutes it would be the home side, Queens Park, that continued on their merry way by downing their opponents 3-1 to go three points clear at the top of the table. In third place, Leeming Strikers made up ground by defeating Canning City 3-1.
Ashfield went into their weekend fixture with Wanneroo City hoping to get back on the winning track after a run of poor results due largely to injury. With captain Steve Gillibrand and defender David Mayers still one the road to recovery, coach Tom Kilkelly called into the squad Under-18's striker Sam Danesh for his first senior outing. Ashfield started strongly with some determined pushes down the left but their opponents forced play back into the middle where Ashfield were quick to turn things around and go back into attack. A long throw-in from Shane Fuhr found Andy Taylor who shielded the ball from an opponent before hitting a unstoppable shot on the turn into the top corner of the goal. Ashfield continued to dominate after the break and pushed hard for a second goal which wasn't to come, Kilkelly happy that his side picked up maximum points in stayed within striking distance of the Stirling Lions.
Elsewhere, First Division (North) leaders the Stirling Lions were held to a scoreless draw at home by Kingsway Olympic. The Stirling Suns took three much-needed points away from their clash with Balcatta, while the Dianella White Eagles drew 1-1 with bottom side Bayswater City, where veteran Ian Ballantyne has come on board in a playing capacity.
BORAL CUP, ROUND THREE (IN BRIEF)
The fairytale Cup runs of First Division teams South West Phoenix and the Stirling Suns came to crashing halts on Saturday, thrashed by Floreat Athena (6-1) and Perth (6-0) respectively. Cockburn City also progressed to the semi-finals after defeating ECU Joondalup with a late Branimir Mikulic goal. The Sorrento-Inglewood United fixture was postponed.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND NINE (IN BRIEF)
Struggling Bassendean Caledonian have pulled off the shock of Round Nine by convincingly trouncing Cockburn City 3-0 to record their second win of the season. 18-year old Lee Burns stunned the high-flyers from south of the river when he struck in the 29th minute, then doubled the margin shortly after half time. Mark Cox put the icing on the cake with a superb solo effort in the 74th minute.
All round it wasn't a good weekend for those inside the top five. The Western Knights lost 0-2 at home to Floreat Athena who continued their climb up the Premier League table. Fremantle City let valuable points slip when held to a scoreless draw at home by Swan I.C., while the ECU Joondalup-Perth fixture ended 1-1. Despite not kicking a ball on the weekend, Sorrento stay on top after their game with Inglewood United was postponed.
WEEKEND LEAGUE AND CUP PREVIEW
This weekend marks the half-way stage of the W.A. Premier League season and after eight games there are just five points separating the top seven sides! Simply unstoppable at the moment, Cockburn City have won four games on the run and it’s difficult to see Bassendean Caledonian coming up trumps at Jubilee Reserve. Branimir Mikulic has bagged nine goals in eight games for Cockburn and he is expected to keep the home defence busy on Saturday. Fremantle City’s five game unbeaten streak came to an end last week at the hands of neighbours Cockburn and, with quality all over the park, they are expected to easily account for so far winless Swan I.C.
The Western Knights have had a dreadful month and will be looking to bounce back when they host Floreat Athena who have turned their season around with three wins in the past month. An under-strength ECU Joondalup side were widely considered unlucky not to have taken something home with them from Percy Doyle Reserve last Saturday and they’ll prove a difficult hurdle for the visiting Perth side. The fixture between Inglewood United and League leaders Sorrento, which was to be played at Kiev Sports Ground, has been postponed until Tuesday 26th June.
The Third Round of the Boral Cup takes place on Monday with the only all Premier League clash being at Dalmatinac Park where Cockburn City meet ECU Joondalup. Cockburn are flying high at the moment having recorded four wins on the trot and will prove difficult to overcome. Joondalup can take comfort that they have already defeated their opponents once this season - 3-2 in the Premier League - and will be looking for a repeat performance this long weekend.
Dorrien Gardens is the venue for the showdown between Perth and First Division club, the Stirling Suns. Down the road at the Litis Stadium, Floreat Athena are expected to encounter stiff opposition from First Division South West Phoenix, but in the end the home side should come out on top by a comfortable margin. The fourth fixture between Sorrento and Inglewood United game will be played later in the season at the request of the clubs.
LADY LUCK NOT ON THE KNIGHTS SIDE
Although currently fifth on the Premier League table, the Western Knights have not had the best of starts to 2001. They bowed out of the Night Series in the qualification stage, a few weeks later crashed at the first Boral Cup hurdle, while their League form has resembled a roller coaster ride. But coach Ronnie Campbell isn’t about to hit the panic button just yet as he explained to Dennis Gedling, Penny Tanner and Brett Klucznik on Radio Fremantle’s (100FM) Saturday Morning Soccer Show this week.
“We have been a bit inconsistent, but to be fair we have had injuries as well, guys like Alex Christie and Dean Nicolaou have been out and we’ve certainly missed them,” Campbell said. “We also ended up losing six players, which was unexpected, at the start of this year. We lost a lot of quality defenders, Darren Williams our goalkeeper, Andy Wright, Ivan Ljubicic and Aaron Beattie, which was basically our entire backline, as well as Joe Vaz and Ray Marinovic. We had only signed two players in the pre-season - Pedro Pavez and Steve MacDonald - so we had to go out and get a few players. Obviously we’ve brought in a bit of experience in Gavin Tait and Michael Roki and we managed to get a guy called Claus Neilson over from Denmark, and he’s been outstanding for us.”
Campbell has also tempted Perth Glory defender Craig Deans back to the Knights camp for a guest spell, Deans making his return against Perth S.C. on the weekend. “Craig is a lovely guy and a tremendous player and we’re over the moon to have him. I got him back from Melbourne in ’98 when he wasn’t playing and I said ‘get your boots on because you’re good enough to go all the way’ and he’s done it. He moved from Western Knights to Perth Glory to Carlton and now he’s obviously back at Glory. There is the opportunity that Craig may be moving on to bigger things overseas and he can help us by doing the job on the park and we can help him with training and playing. Craig missed part of the season when he left Carlton and he feels that he could play for another month … I think he’ll give us a little bit of a boost at the right time, we certainly need a little bit of a lift at the moment.”
Always a club with a strong youth policy, the Knights coaching staff are working hard behind the scenes to ensure the future development of the club. “We’ve been trying to develop young players and our reserves have improved tremendously in the past two years as have our Under-18’s,” Campbell said. “We’ve got two really good young players going away with the State Under-19’s - Michael Vaz, a midfield player and Ivan Zuvela who can play either as a sweeper or in the middle of the park. They’re two tremendous players who I think will go on to bigger and better things, and we’ve some other good young kids coming through. There is probably five or six in the Under-18’s that we’d like to promote to the reserves fairly soon.”
IN CONVERSATION WITH VINCE MATASSA
Vince Matassa had a fruitful season in England where he was a regular fixture in the starting eleven at Conference League outfit Woking. Out of favour at Basingstoke, the one-time national Under-20 custodian joined Woking in October and quickly established himself as an integral part in the team which climbed out of the relegation zone to end the recently-completed season mid-table. This week we caught up with the Perth born 28-year old to get his views on Woking's season, the standard of the English Conference, and his future ...
How did the offer to join Woking come up?
After returning from Australia at the end of the 1999/2000 season, I moved house to central London and was finding the travel out to Basingstoke a bit difficult so I requested a transfer but it was knocked back. I understand that Woking had already made an offer for me in the off-season, which was rejected, then when a second offer was made in October Basingstoke accepted it. I was delighted at the move as it was a higher level of football, and it cut my travel time in half.
I believe you were a regular in the Woking side for the best part of the season ... how did the winter pan out for the club?
Woking - who were one of the strongest teams in the Conference in the mid-1990's - have been struggling over the past few years. They just escaped relegation in 1999/2000 and when I joined they were second bottom with only three wins from their first seventeen games and things were looking a bit hazardous. We won my first two matches and over the next few months slowly moved up the table including a run of only one loss in thirteen games stretching from January to mid-April. We finished fourteenth (out of twenty-two) and, although slightly disappointing, we were well clear from relegation which meant we could relax in the last month of the season for a change!
That about for you personally, were you happy with your season?
On a personal level, I was very pleased with the way the season went. I received four of the five trophy's at the end of season presentation - Player of the Year, Supporters Player of the Year, Sponsor's Player of the Year, and Junior Supporters Player of the Year - so I guess the club and supporters were happy as well.
You were also named in a representative game during the season ...
Yeah. My form was such that I was selected in a F.A. XI trial game in early December, but suffered an injury the week before the trial which meant I couldn't take part. As a result I wasn't selected in the squad for the England Semi-Professional team that played Holland in March. It was disappointing, but I am not sure whether I was actually eligible in any case being Australian!
What is the Conference like?
The English Conference is a very tough, physical League. There are now eight full-time teams, mostly teams that have been relegated from the Third Division in previous years, so, as one of the remaining part-time teams we find it quite difficult to compete over a full season with them. With only one team gaining promotion to the Third Division each year it means a bad start gives you nothing to play for except to avoid relegation and try to progress as far as possible in the F.A. Cup. As shown during the early rounds of the F.A. Cup each season, teams in our League can compete very well with professional teams from higher divisions. In fact, Kingstonian, who defeated Brentford, Southend, and drew with Bristol Rovers in this years competition, ended up being relegated from the Conference at the end of the season as they were not good enough.
Having played for Gippsland Falcons and Perth Glory in the N.S.L., how would you say the Conference holds up compared to Australia's top League?
I think that the N.S.L. is a much more skilful league than the Conference, and as more and more teams in Australia turn full-time this will continue to improve. However, with 70-80% of players in the Conference having once played for higher division clubs, I think the Conference is a much faster, physically tougher league to play in. In fact there are ex-First and Second Division players in the Conference who claim that it is the physically toughest league they have played in, although not quite as fast paced as those leagues above.
I also find that we do not train as much as I used to in Australia, partly because we are not a full-time team and also because we usually have midweek games. With a successful Cup run you end up playing between 50 to 55 games in a season which is about double what we were playing in the N.S.L., so you can see why it is much more demanding.
What about off the park, how do the clubs in the Conference compare with those in the N.S.L.?
In terms of facilities and professionalism, there is a big gap between the top and bottom clubs like in Australia. The team promoted this season, Rushden and Diamonds, are a relatively new club like Perth Glory and have fantastic facilities and a millionaire owner who supports the club with anything they need. In fact, they are expected to go very close to promotion next year up to Division Two as they are better organised than a lot of Third Division clubs.
But the smaller clubs are trying to survive on crowds of around 1,000 which must be difficult - it certainly puts the N.S.L. and teams like Glory in a good light when they can attract 16-17,000 spectators a week. Woking attract an average of around 2000 spectators to their matches, and during a successful season this can increase to around 3000. I will say that 2000 English spectators in a stadium make more noise that 20,000 spectators of other nationalities, so the ground doesn't lack for atmosphere each week, that's for sure!
What are your plans for the future? I believe you have recent agreed to see out another season with Woking. What about beyond that, any plans to return to Perth in the near future?
My current contract with Woking allows me to leave them on short notice, so they are currently trying to get me to sign a new deal for the next 2-3 years. At this stage I am not sure what I will be doing so I have not signed, although I expect to be hear until around Christmas. I have been away from Australia for nearly four years, and while it has been thoroughly enjoyable, there is no place like home as they say. Ideally I would love to return to Perth in the near future, but I may find that the best opportunity for work or soccer is in the eastern states, and so I will have to wait and see what options I have. Goalkeepers can continue playing well into their 30's, and with the season I have just had I feel that there are plenty of years of football left in me at a top level.
LENNIE GETS THE GIG
For the fourth time in seven years, Perth referee Eddie Lennie will be in charge of the National Soccer League grand final. Scottish-born, Lennie was the man in black last year when Wollongong Wolves came back from the dead to defeat Perth Glory in a penalty shoot-out at Subiaco Oval. On Sunday, he will rule the roost in Sydney where Wollongong meet South Melbourne. “If it is half as good as last year it will be a cracker. It is a great honour to be asked to officiate in the country's cup final and I'll spend some time with the assistants on Saturday night, talking about how we will do the game.”
On Monday Lennie flies to New Zealand where he will officiate in the Group Two Oceania World Cup qualifying matches involving New Zealand, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands and Tahiti. The winner of that tournament will battle with Australia for a spot the right to play South America's fifth qualifier for a spot in the World Cup finals in Korea and Japan next year.
INGLEWOOD-SORRENTO POSTPONED … TWICE!
Saturday’s Premier League fixture between Inglewood United and leaders Sorrento has been postponed as both clubs have a number of players overseas with the State Under-19 team. The two sides will now meet at Kiev Sports Ground on Tuesday 26th June, the reserves and Under-18’s games taking place 24 hours later.
Sorrento and Inglewood were also due to meet in the Third Round of the Boral Cup on Monday, but that too has been put back. However, there will still be action at Percy Doyle Reserve when the reserves clash between the two clubs kicks-off at 1.00pm. This will be preceded by the Under-18’s fixture between Sorrento and Perth City at 11.15am. Entry to these games is free and the usual facilities will be available.
Inglewood will officially open their new stand at Kiev Sports Ground next week. The first game at the re-vamped venue will be when United host cross-town rivals Perth in the Round 10 fixture on Saturday 9th June.
RANGERS HEADING OUR WAY? (Reproduced with permission from the tribalfootball.com website)
Scottish club Glasgow Rangers are set to tour Australia in the near future according to former star player Dave McPherson, who was until recently part of the set-up at NSL side Carlton. Rangers Legends have played two games this year - one against Glasgow Celtic in front of 50,000 fans at Ibrox, and another against a Linfield select at Windsor Park, Northern Ireland where 10,000 turned up - are keen to travel to Australia, United States and South Africa.
Speaking to tribalfootball.com, McPherson said he expected the Rangers Legends to be a huge hit in Australia, especially here in the west. "The stars of the past have really captured the imagination of the public and I feel sure that if the team was taken to Australia they would prove just as popular there. I was talking to a friend in Perth and he reckons we could draw a 20,000 crowd without any problem because there is still a high British influence in Western Australia."
"The people there only get the chance to see players on TV so if a team of ex-Rangers players went down there I'm sure they would create a great deal of interest. There has been a terrific response to the former players as was seen in the Auld Old Firm game too. I think it is because the team is made up of British players, by and large, and they can identify with that."
COYNE RETURN TO PERTH AFTER DUNDEE SUCCESS (Reproduced with permission from the tribalfootball.com website)
Chris Coyne is flying back to Australia for a break ahead of Dundee's InterToto Cup campaign which kicks off on 16th June. Coyne established himself as first-choice centre-half at Dundee this season and returns to Perth for a quick break. "Eleven months is an awful long time to be away from your people and I am desperate to see my parents, also my brother and sister," he said.
"In a ideal world I would have gone back sooner but, having only joined Dundee from West Ham last year, I had a few things to sort out and wasn't able to go in the winter break," the defender said. "Because of our InterToto commitments I'll only be able to stay for a couple of weeks but at least it will give me a chance to catch up with everyone."
NEW TOURNAMENT FOR W.A. JUNIORS ON THE CARDS
The Junior Soccer Association of W.A. are never ones to sit still for too long and this week comes the news that they are involved in the establishment of a new international youth tournament. Speaking to John O’Connell on 990 6RPH Information Radio, J.S.A. president Bill Oddy explained how far things have gone to date.
“What we’ve endevoured to do is try and structure an international tournament that will be played both here and overseas, and we’ve made the first footsteps towards doing that,” Oddy said. “We’ve managed to pursued Singapore to initially stage the competition for a 14 age group. I’ve spoken to a number of board members from South Australia and they are very keen to participate, and Victoria as well, but rather than a takeover bid by Australia, we’ve emphasised to Singapore that this is the first step.”
“South Australia will be sending two teams, as will W.A., Singapore will also be participating and there’s the strong possibility that Malaysia and one other country may get involved as well,” Oddy elaborated. “The aim of this is over the next two or three years to move it around and at some stage it will come to W.A. and hopefully South Australia also. That will give the local players a chance to look at an age group competition from various participating states and also overseas countries, and lift the game in general.”
It’s shaping up to be another big year for the J.S.A. as they send State teams to a number of national and international events, beginning with the Under-16’s who will take part in the Lion City Cup in Singapore next month. The tournament this year will also feature an Under-18 age group for the first time and J.S.A. are hopeful of sending a team to compete at that level also. “It’s an excellent tournament, very well run and if we can hope to get to their height in the first couple of years when our tournament comes here we’ll have done an excellent job,” Oddy said.
In early July the W.A. Under-13’s head to Canberra where they’ll compete in the Kanga Cup. Trials for this have recently been wrapped up and the announcement of the travelling squad is expected in the not too distant future. The State Under-15’s and Under-16’s will travel to New South Wales in late September for the National Talent Identification Championships which will once again be held at Valentine Sports Park.
GLORY YOUNG GUNS (Reproduced with permission from “Glory Days” Volume 19, June 2001)
During its first two or three seasons, everything Perth Glory touched seemed to turn to gold, and much of it still does. There were record crowds, great success on the pitch, huge media coverage … in fact, the boys at Perth Oval and their supporters quickly became the talk of the town. Perhaps the only criticism by some was that the club weren't developing enough local players. Sure, there were a number of State League players in the inaugural squad, but really, with the exception of Jamie Harnwell and to a lesser extent, John Carbone and James Afkos, there weren't too many local youngsters around the traps. And that's probably fair enough.
The young W.A. club needed to be successful early - both on and off the pitch. They needed high-profile players, and players who could make (or at least go close) to a finals berth in their debut season. They needed to establish a solid core of supporters. After all, if the sponsors and support from the terraces weren't there, young local talent wouldn't want to play for the Glory, or there possibly wouldn't be such a well-supported W.A.-based side after a few years -it might go the way of Brisbane or Canberra. But that's all changed over the last couple of years.
While Harnwell has gone on to establish himself as one of the best central defenders in the league, Gary Faria has swept all before him this season. The 21-year-old was drafted into an injury and suspension hit Glory team for one match last season and did enough in his 10 minutes or so to be invited back to train with the NSL outfit. The Fremantle City midfielder impressed the Glory coaching staff and after signing a two-year contract, came off the bench in the Round 2 match against South Melbourne. And he hasn't looked back, playing 26 games and scoring three goals.
Now there's a healthy queue of youngsters ready to follow in Faria's footsteps. Nick Mrdja, Todd Harnwell, Antonio Naglieri and Anthony Danze are four extremely promising local lads who, along with goalkeeper Tommi Tomich, have been training regularly with the Glory squad this season. In fact Harnwell, younger brother of Jamie, along with the now-departed Aaron Cole, actually had a brief taste of the big time, coming on as late substitutes in an N.S.L. match, while the lively Mrdja has taken part in eight of the Glory's last 12 games. In fact, the 22-year-old Mrdja impressed many good judges with his ability to hold the ball up front and also with his good skills and distribution. Tomich too, sat on the bench several times during the season when national coaching duties meant regular deputy Tony Franken was unavailable.
As Naglieri said, it's an ideal situation with the up-and-coming players learning from the established stars. “A lot of them are Australian (national team) players, so of course I'm going to benefit,” he said. “I'm training every day now, before I only trained twice a week, so I've got fitter, I've got better skills and I'm quicker.” And after seeing what Harnwell, Faria and Mrdja have achieved in the past couple of seasons, the 18-year-old is aiming high next season. “I'll be pushing, not straight to the starting line-up, but to at least get some games under my belt. I've got a bit of experience from training now, so I can see what it takes.”
AFKOS LASHES SOCCER AUSTRALIA BOARD
With Soccer Australia's board of directors on the verge of dismissal by the disenchanted state federations, SAWA president Paul Afkos has spoken of the need for open discussion with the powers that be to ensure the future of the game in Australia. It is believed that, from the point of view of the state federations, that the new board is so bogged down in a power struggle between president Tony Labbozzetta and Victorian Joe Brondolino that the running of soccer has been compromised.
Speaking to John Taylor of the “Sunday Telegraph”, Afkos said the states had taken notice of recent events - notably the sacking of Ross Musso as national team manager, and the board's initial decision to reject Channel Seven's live broadcast of the NSL Final. “We are disappointed there is limited dialogue with the chairman and commissioners and many discussions at board level are discussed outside the boardroom,” he said. “We are also concerned at the criticism levelled at senior management and staff of Soccer Australia which no doubt reduces morale and the enthusiasm of the staff. It's also extremely upsetting that the new commissioners said initially that they would work together and support the chairman but it has become obvious to the stakeholders (the states) that is not happening.”
Afkos has to been the only one to have spoken out on the issue. Former commissioner and Tasmanian Soccer Federation president John Barker said the board's behaviour in making decisions was “very concerning” and projected a poor image. Tony Petty of the Queensland Soccer Federation said that body was “extremely disappointed” after it was made clear all parties would try and work together at the annual general meeting.
Peter Gray, president of the N.S.W. Soccer Federation, said “My state expects the board to act responsibly for the benefit of the game. They should look at issues as separate issues.” Soccer Canberra president Steve Dozpot says the power games must stop. “There are always politics in any sport but they (the board) should be concentrating on administration,” he said. “It's very disappointing the way the board is acting.”
HARNWELL OUT WITH BACK PROBLEM
Perth Glory defender Jamie Harnwell, who has recently re-joined Premier League side Sorrento, received a set-back in furthering his career overseas late last week when he was diagnosed as having a stress fracture in his lower back. Harnwell had been close to finalising trials in England but those plans were put on hold when told to rest for three months to enable the injury to heal. “Things were starting to roll and my agent had just got me something with at least one club overseas,” Harnwell said.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND EIGHT (Swan I.C. vs Inglewood United report provided by Community Newspapers reporter Mike Hennessey)
Despite scoring twice in last week’s 7-1 win over Bassendean Caledonian, Perth striker Nick Mrdja was surprisingly relegated to the bench for Saturday’s home fixture with the Western Knights. The away win was the blues first in a month and it was hard to fathom just why the hero of seven days ago wasn’t on the park from the start. The Knights have had an up and down season so far but all the signs are there that they will have things together by the time the business end of the rolls around. Despite two losses in three weeks, coach Ronnie Campbell was confident his troops would be able to overcome Perth’s youngsters today.
Other than an initial flurry of activity from the visitors which saw them win two corners in quick succession, Perth controlled the opening period through a solid midfield performance. Andreas Oliviera came close to bagging the opening goal in the 2nd minute when he pounced on some hesitant Knights defending at a corner, only for his shot to come back off the bar from 14-metres. With the teenage striker proving difficult to contain, and Todd Howarth supplying a constant steam of balls into the box, it looked as though it wouldn’t be long before the home side opened their account, but a steely Knights defence made sure Perth were not in for an easy afternoon.
The Knights settled after about 10 minutes and began to push deep into their opponents half largely through flank players Shane McNally and Carl Medica, who was enjoying a spirited tussle with Howarth on the far side of the park. John Nicolaou out-paced the opposing defence in the 13th minute to be first to a long ball for which Gianni Papalia raced well off his line, only to be caught in no man’s land as Nicolaou placed the bouncing ball over his head, the young goalkeeper breathing a sign of relief the attempted lob cleared the crossbar.
While both teams managed to get forward and into their attacking third with regularity, that was as far as things would go as the respective defences flexed their muscle. Perth’s trio of Perry Ielati, Aaron Cole and Michael Icanovski efficiently snuffed out any danger the visiting side could muster, while down the other end it was central defenders Gavin Tait and Craig Deans that were the busiest with ample support from David Annall and Leon Russell. In fact such was the dominance of these players that neither ‘keeper was required to make a save until after the half hour mark.
While clear-cut chances were few and far between, Perth were the only side able to create anything of note. Oliviera and David Onforo were in sparkling form in attack and in the 26th minute combined only for the former to be sandwiched off the ball by Tait and Russell. Six minutes later Onoforo sent Robbie Gaspar down the left and his looping cross landed between two defenders and at the feet of Oliviera whose thundering shot from close-in was brilliantly tipped wide by Pedro Pavez. Perth were in control of the middle of the park and limited the flow to the Knights target-men Eugene Singeorzan and Nicolaou to little more than a trickle. To counter this the visitors relied on attacking quickly on the break, but even that failed to open up a path to goal.
The pace picked up considerably as half-time approached with good chances coming at both ends. In the 38th minute Oliviera picked out Onoforo whose shot curled safely into the arms of Pavez. The ball was raced to the opposite end of the pitch as Medica sent Nicolaou inside the area, but the striker lost his footing as he was about to shoot and Icanovski mopped up. The Knights won a free-kick just outside the box shortly after, but Medica’s low drive flew never looked like troubling Papalia. Two minutes from the break and Perth should have had a penalty when Howarth was held back, then pulled down, inside the area by Medica but referee Michael Nugus allowed play to continue.
It was a case of so near yet so far two minutes after the break, Cole’s header grazing the outside of the up-right after he rose above a stagnant Knights defence to meet a Howarth corner. Rather than waiting to see what Perth would do next, the Knights responded swiftly and decisively. Nicolaou seized on some poor defending in the 50th minute and put the ball at the feet of Singeorzan, the strongly-built striker hitting a speculative shot which sailed over Papalia and clipped the underside of the bar on it’s way into the back of the net. 1-0 to the Knights and we had a game on our hands.
The home fans vented their frustrations by booing coach Graham Normanton when he opted to introduce Mrdja at the expense of long-serving Stephen Willey who was proving productive out wide. While Perth’s supporters let their feelings known, in time Normanton’s move would prove a match-winner and the first fruits were not far away. Full of life with the ball at his feet, Mrdja was tripped by Deans just outside the area in the 57th minute, Pavez producing a top-class save to tip Mark Pottier’s bullet-like shot over the bar. Vince Tana swung the resulting corner into the 6-yard box where the Knights custodian let the ball slip from his grasp, Onoforo reacting quickest to restore the balance and bring Perth back into the game.
Having been booked earlier in the half, Medica received his marching orders in the 65th minute. Mrdja went down in a screaming heap after the midfielder challenged him close to the sideline, and after some initial confusion during which Deans was mistakenly booked, referee Nugus issued Medica with his second yellow card of the day. Medica had every right to feel aggrieved by the decision - contact was minimal, if made at all, and as he left the playing surface the midfielder let Nugus know his feelings on the matter.
The effect of the dismissal was instantaneous on the Knights - a renewed sense of urgency was injected into their game and everyone of the ten players left on the park responded to the challenge of downing Perth’s eleven. In the middle it was McNally, Claus Nielson and Scott Devine who rose to the challenge and slowly but surely steered control in favour of the visitors. The supply to the Knights forwards, which had been until now been limited, saw several half-chances but nothing of any real danger. That was until the 75th minute when Singeorzan’s blistering shot from the top corner of the area struck the out-stretched leg of Cole, and there was little Papalia could do as it looped him and snuck in at the far post, making it 2-1 to the Knights.
Shortly after Mrdja showed a sign of things to come when he showed some fancy footwork to out-wit the defence, then sky his shot from 14-metres. Mrdja, who is on loan to his old club from Perth Glory, was proving a handful for the Knights backline with his close ball control and speed and both would be a key feature of Perth’s next attack. In the 80th minute the striker latched on a pass from midfield and created a stunning equaliser out of nothing - dribbling his way past several defenders along the top of the area before slamming a low shot from 15-metres past a full-stretch Pavez.
With just ten minutes left on the clock, and the sweet scent of victory in the air, both sides gave their all in the search for a late winner. Tana sent a waist-high volley whizzing agonisingly wide of the far post after a deep corner evaded the Knights ‘keeper. Then McNally spotted Papalia well out of position and chipped the ‘keeper who hurriedly back-tracked and caught the ball on the line. In the 86th minute Perth were awarded a free-kick some 19-metres from goal when Deans hauled down Mrdja. Gaspar and Coyne spent some time discussing who would take it before the latter curled it around the wall and inside the left up-right to give Perth the lead for the first time.
The goal knocked the stuffing out of the Knights and they were lucky the margin did not blow out even further. A minute after Coyne made it 3-2, Onoforo superbly found Oliviera who slipped past an opponent and put a thumping shot into the side netting, much to the disappointment of the home supporters. Onoforo then delivered an inch-perfect ball to Mrdja whose shot on the turn was blocked, Rob Giorgi crashing the loose ball over the bar. Coyne could have put the icing on the cake deep in stoppage time but was twice denied by some desperate defending - initially by Pavez, who produced a great reflex save from close-range, then Deans came to the rescue by clearing the follow-up off the line. Within a minute the referee’s whistle would signal the end of the game.
Perth should have wrapped this game up before half-time but a combination of bad luck and great defending prevented the game from coming to a premature end. The decision to start Mrdja on the bench proved a masterstroke by the Perth coaching staff which breathed new life in the side’s flagging fortunes. Howarth made some darting runs out wide and provided the forwards with plenty to work with, while Oliviera started brightly but faded after the break. After a poor first half, the Knights showed great character to fight their way back in the contest and twice take the lead, only to succumb late in the game. The Knights most effective player was McNally who proved the inspiration behind many of the sides attacking forays. Pavez kept the side in the game with a wonderful goalkeeping display and, on his return to the Knights camp, Deans provided some much-needed muscle at the back.
Perth : Gianni Papalia, Perry Ielati, Aaron Cole, Michael Icanovski,
Stephen Willey (Nick Mrdja 53), Todd Howarth, Mark Pottier (Jamie Coyne
73), Vince Tana, Robbie Gaspar, David Onoforo, Andreas Oliviera (Robert
Western Knights : Pedro Pavez, Gavin Tait (Andy Lawson 92), Craig Deans, David Annall, Leon Russell, Carl Medica, Shane McNally, Claus Nielson, Scott Devine, Eugene Singeorzan, John Nicolaou
Referee : Michael Nugus
Cautions : Singeorzan (42), Medica (48), Icanovski (82)
Dismissals : Medica (65)
Attendance : 350 (approx.)
Fremantle City failed to take advantage of playing half the game with Cockburn City with the numerical advantage when they met at Ken Allen Field. Cockburn took the lead in the 10th minute through Peter Petkovich, then doubled it just two minutes later when Gary Numan made the most of his opportunity. Fremantle defender Evan Wallace tried his best to pull a goal back in the 28th minute, only for his initial header to be blocked, then a stab towards goal was scrambled to safety despite his protests the ball had in fact crossed the line. Shortly after Daniel Trim left the game clutching the side of his face and his replacement Dale Wingell wasted no time in making an impression. The midfielder slotted an excellent pass to Trim Morgan who finished rifled it home from a tight angle. Cockburn went into the break a goal up but also a player down then midfielder Dean Gartside was dismissed for a second bookable offence on the stroke of half-time. After the re-start it was all Fremantle but, despite having their opponents on the ropes for long periods, the home side could not find that much-needed second goal. Post-match, Cockburn coach Laslo Koroknai said it was his side’s best win of the season to date. “We scored two quick goals and in the second half we defended very well,” he said. “But now we have to forget that game and concentrate on the next and then the week after that.”
Swan I.C.’s woes continued on Saturday afternoon when they took on fellow Premier League strugglers Inglewood United at the Italian Club. The visitors stunned Swan when they scored in just the 3rd minute of play, Andrew Cornwell giving Corey Hugo no chance as he put his side into a 1-0 lead. The early goal put Swan on the back foot and, although they had their chances, only the safe hands of Hugo kept United from going further ahead before half-time. United's second goal came in the first part of the second half when 16-year old Shaun Kilkelly gave his side a 2-0 lead. Swan fought back and, in a fine move, Eddie Mura reduced the arrears to 2-1. Swan's comeback was made even harder when Justin Everley was sent off for a second bookable offence in the 70th minute, and worse was to follow. Having used their three substitutes, Swan were reduced to 9 men through injury with ten minutes remaining. But luck was on the side of the home team when Cornwell missed an easy chance as the game neared its conclusion.
At the Litis Stadium, it was a case of missed opportunities in the clash between Floreat Athena and Bassendean Caledonian. Both sides had their chances to take the lead in a scrappy opening half but neither could finish the moves they carefully crafted thanks to some great goalkeeping from the respective custodians. Recently returned from injury, Athena marksman Peter Coci injected some much-needed life into the game when he knocked home a goalmouth scramble shortly after the re-start. 12 minutes later a poor clearance allowed the visitors back in the game, Mark Cox netting his second goal of the season to make it one-all. And Caledonians should have taken the lead midway through the half when Gary James was brought down inside the box, but his penalty came back off the upright. It was left to Coci to decide the game, skilfully making his way past two defenders before showing great composure to slot home. A miserable day for Caledonian was complete inside the final ten minutes when they were reduced to ten men. After a rugged encounter, Athena defender Adrian Spinelli summed up the home sides feelings - “At the end of the day we’re quite happy to take the three points and stay within striking distance of the top sides.”
Sorrento coach Trevor Morgan, who retired from playing at the end of the 2000 season, named himself on the bench as a result of Sorrento’s injury problems when they hosted ECU Joondalup on Saturday. Without the services of Michael Garcia, Jamie Harnwell, Richard Turnbull, Toby Wright and the suspended Todd Harnwell, Sorrento looked light-on going into this clash with their northern neighbours, who themselves had several players in limbo. Gerry McEwan, Andy Mason and Jamie Kuzmanovich all left the training track early on Thursday night with a variety of ailments, influential midfielder Sandy Robertson is injured, while State Under-19 representatives Dale McCulloch and Andre Sarpe were rested ahead of their up-coming trip to France.
Conditions at Percy Doyle Reserve were perfect as the game kicked-off, the playing surface bathed in brilliant sunshine without the hint of the breeze which has plagued the games between these sides in recent times. The opening period saw some brief end to end exchanges with no real chances created until Sorrento custodian Neil Young swooped low to gathered a Sean Fallon attempt on goal. Not long after Shaun Bowyer had a chance at the other end of the park but mis-hit his effort high.
Joondalup started to get on top as Abdul Kamara and Fallon took control of the midfield. Steve White waltzing past Jared Love in the 15th minute and delivered a great ball to Jamie Trandos in the box, his header flying agonisingly wide with Young caught flat-footed. From the goal kick Fallon turned the ball over to send Any Mason away on the right, his low cross knocked out for a corner. The corner resulted in some staunch defending by Scott McLeod and Danny Hill who put their bodies on the line to block consecutive attempts from Joel Peacock and Kamara. Sorrento’s backline were under all the pressure and were showing signs it would take something special to beat them this afternoon.
Lively in attack, Trandos’ shot on the turn rocketed over the bar after 27 minutes. Sorrento stemmed the flow somewhat as their midfield stepped up a gear and the final 15 minutes were an even contest with chances at both ends. Five minutes from the break Fallon beat Glenn Thomas before releasing Trandos who went one-on-one with Young, but with time and space on his side, the striker shot from 16-metres rather than take on the ‘keeper who saved comfortably. Three minutes later Sorrento’s Kevin Corriea came close to getting the breakthrough when his curling effort from an angle whizzed wide of Peter Stewart’s right post.
Five minutes into the new half, Ryan Jeans was sent clear by Stuart Banks only to find Stewart in great touch and he saved well to his left. Finally, in the 54th minute, the deadlock as broken courtesy of a spot of luck. White robbed Thomas of the ball and played a sweet one-two Jamie Kuzmanovich before delivering a looping centre which Peacock pressure Young into spilling and Mason headed it in from his position on the ground.
The goal inspired the Joondalup players and they continued to pressure the Sorrento backline in the search of a follow-up goal. Substitute Stuart Montgomery got on the end of another White cross, heading it into the path of the Kamara whose fierce drive was blocked on the line by McLeod. Trandos side-footed the rebound goalward and this time Hill prevented it from crossing the line, then Scott Broadley headed the partial clearance straight back into the goal area where Montgomery’s volley on the turn crashed into the far post. And in the 68th minute Trandos had an excellent chance to double Joondalup’s lead, however, Young stood up and deflected his shot to safety.
The game really came to life in the final 20 minutes with some great chances at both ends laced with a dash of controversy. Stewart was called into action for the first time when McLeod put Jeans through, Stewart pulling off another remarkable save to his left to deny his opponent. A few minutes later Broadley hit a 40-metre pass to White who turned Love only to be pulled down by his opponent when he appeared well inside the area. But referee Jeremy Oliphant disagreed and awarded the visitors a free-kick outside the box which was wasted. It was an amazing decision which left many in disbelief as White was level with the penalty spot when he crashed to the ground.
With 14 minutes remaining Sorrento brought on veteran striker Trevor Morgan and, within two minutes, he became embroiled in controversy which turned the game on it’s head. Morgan and Kuzmanovich tussled for possession at a throw-in and, after consulting his assistant, the Joondalup player was dismissed for lashing out at his opponent. Playing a man down, Joondalup continued to surge forward and really should have wrapped up the game in the 81st minute. Fallon sent Montgomery through from the halfway line and from close-in he squared the ball to Mason whose shot was brilliantly saved by Young.
Minutes later Ross Greer clipped the ball into the Sorrento box, Morgan lobbed it short to Jeans who smashed a great volley on the turn that rocketed over Stewart and under the bar for the equaliser. And in the 86th minute Thomas made up for a quiet afternoon with one of the goals of the season and this matches decider. McEwan thought he’d headed a long ball to safety, only for the Sorrento midfielder to slam it first-time from 25-metres and from the moment it left his boot it was destined for the top corner of Stewart’s goal.
Although time not on their side Joondalup refused to give up. Shortly after the re-start Montgomery beat his man on the right before whipping in a low ball which somehow evaded Fallon, Kamara and Trandos when all it needed was one touch. A minute into stoppage time, Trandos pulled his shot across the face of goal with only Young to beat. Sorrento cleared the danger as far as Broadley who knocked it over the defence and again Trandos found himself with only the ‘keeper to beat, this time flicking the ball over the advancing Young only to bounce just wide of the far post.
It was a case of too many wasted opportunities by Joondalup who let three valuable points slip through their fingers. They were the side that did all the attacking, creating numerous chances but unable to get the ball past Stewart who was superb between the posts for the home side. Then go a man down close to the end in controversial circumstances only rubbed salt in the wound. But no one will argue the quality of Sorrento’s two goals that keeps them at the top of the Premier League ladder.
FIRST DIVISION ROUND-UP (Leeming Strikers vs Armadale report provided by Michael Di Pietro)
Armadale’s slide down the First Division (South) ladder continued on the weekend, but the club are still confident of gaining fourth spot before seasons’ end and making the play-offs. The weekend threw up an away trip to Leeming Strikers for the Reds who started the game as underdogs. An even opening 20 minutes saw both sides involved and challenging well, but a 23rd minute lapse in concentration in Armadale’s midfield saw Strikers take the lead with a delightful long-range chip which left the visiting ‘keeper with no chance. The Reds came out strong at the start of the in the second half but couldn't find the back of the net, hitting the post on several occasions. Strikers doubled their lead in the 60th minute. Twelve minutes later Armadale suffered a set-back when reduced to ten men, but to the sides credit they refused to give up the fight and dominated until the margin blew out to 3-0 with six minutes left on the clock.
South West Phoenix should have taken a 1st minute lead when they travelled to play Queens Park, Sasha Garic releasing Greg Hayes down the left, he quickly put in back into the path of Garic who sent his shot wide of the up-right. The visitors threatened continuously over the opening half but found the opposing defence very hard to break down where the off-side trap was sprung with regularity. Down the other end the Phoenix backline of Chris Gaynor, Alex Cosenza and David North were superb in snuffing out the few opportunities that Queens Park could muster. It wasn’t until the 60th minute that the deadlock was broken, a lovely run down the left flank was capped off with a thundering shot from 20-metres which crashed into the back of the Phoenix net. The visitors should have been back on level terms five minutes later when Steve Rodgers beat the offside trap and drew the ‘keeper before slipping it past him, only to see it hit the inside of the post and roll across the face of goal before being cleared. In an effort to get back into the game Phoenix pushed players forward, but the ploy backfired in the 71st minute when Queens Park turned the ball over in the middle before being allowed time and space to create their second goal of the afternoon. Phoenix continued to press forward but it just wasn’t to be their day, Queens Park making it 3-0 in the closing minutes of play.
It is still neck and neck at the top of the First Division (South) ladder after seven games where Queens Park and Rockingham City sit on 19 points apiece. Rockingham, undefeated so far this season, continued their run by downing Morley Windmills 2-0 at home, and Leeming consolidated third with their win over Armadale. Two points separate the next four clubs - Windmills, Phoenix, Southside United and Armadale. Canning City recorded loss number seven when they were defeated 2-0 away from home by Southside.
North of the river, 200 spectators turned up to watch Veselin Zmukic back in control of the Dianella White Eagles when they hosted a young Kingsway Olympic outfit. The White Eagles applied pressure to their opponents backline from the outset and were rewarded in the 6th minute when teenager Robert Cibesku set- up Dragan Njegic. A few minutes later Cibesku made a great run down the right only for his centring ball to be halted by the hand of a defender - Zoran Barovic making no mistake from penalty spot to make it 2-0. With a two-goal lead, the home side eased off and allowed Olympic back into the game. After several foraying into their opponents area, Deny Stolich pulled a goal back in the 21st minute and shortly before half-time the ledger was squared at 2-2. A brutal second half followed in which seven yellow cards was dished out by the referee and Olympic saw out the match with just nine players on the park. Despite being down two men, the visitors held on desperately for a draw as both Zelko Savic and Cibesku were denied in the closing stages by some fantastic goalkeeping.
The Stirling Lions have opened up a three point gap between themselves and second-placed Ashfield without kicking a ball. The Lions had the bye on Saturday and were allowed some much needed breathing space when Perth City up-set Ashfield 2-0, City moving into third spot as a result. The Stirling Suns were held two-all by Wanneroo City. Balcatta recorded their first win of season 2001 when they won a seven goal thriller at Bayswater City by the odd goal.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND EIGHT (IN BRIEF)
Perth twice came from behind before defeating the Western Knights at home on Saturday to leapfrog back into the top half of the Premier League table. Eugene Singorazan gave the visitors the lead after 50 minutes only for a David Onoforo tap-in to equalise seven minutes later. The Knights were reduced to ten men when Carl Medica received his second yellow card of the day, and with 15 minutes remaining Singeorzan again put their nose in front. Five minutes after Nick Mrdja replied, and four minutes from full-time Jamie Coyne's spectacular free-kick gave Perth three valuable points.
Leaders Sorrento too left it late before grabbing the winner at home to ECU Joondalup. Cockburn City move into second courtesy of a 2-1 win over Fremantle City, with Perth taking third. 16-year old Shaun Kilkelly, who is off to France on Monday, scored Inglewood United's winner against Swan I.C. who later went down to nine men. Floreat Athena defeated Bassendean Caledonian 2-1.
UNDER-19'S READY FOR FRANCE
The W.A. Under-19 squad flies out of Perth on Monday afternoon (4.30pm to be precise) to take part in the prestigious Tournoi de Croix in France. The State teams' opening Group A fixture is against Portuguese club Guimaraes on 2nd June. The following day they take on French outfit Lens in their final group stage match. Also sending teams to the event are Birmingham City (England), Rosario (Argentina), Muscron (Belguim) and Lille (France).
It has been a busy fortnight for the playing squad, playing four friendly games for the State team in addition to the players' commitments at club level. In their first outing as a team, the Under-19's overcame an experimental Inglewood United outfit 3-2 early last week. A few days later they picked up where they'd left off by demolishing the Swan I.C. first team 5-2, and the final margin could have been greater had the State players been a bit sharper in front of goal.
A strong Floreat Athena side were the opponents on Monday night and again the youngsters shone to record a convincing 3-2 victory, after which Athena coach John Hunter apparently heaped praise the State side. Twenty-four hours later they defeated a youthful ECU Joondalup side 5-2 which completed their match preparation. After these results, the coaching staff are confident of making a lasting impression in France.
BIG GAME IN NORTHERN SUBURBS
Percy Doyle Reserve is the venue for this weekend's north-of-the-river derby between Sorrento and ECU Joondalup. With both teams are nestled in the top half of the table - Sorrento on top and Joondalup in fifth place - and just two points separating them, this fixture has all the makings of being the highlight of round eight.
"For us there is no bigger game in the calendar than those against our arch rivals Sorrento," Joondalup coach Paul Simmons said this week. "They are certainly the form side at the moment and we will do well do push them." Joondalup are on a roll at the moment with three victories in four weeks, and Simmons believes his players are ready to take on the competition leaders. "Our lads have trained well this week and we are at near full strength. I promise it will be hard fought game with no compromises given."
The visitors will be looking for Joel Peacock to continue his form up front where he's bagged four goals in as many outings, while Carl McDarby is close to making his first team return after a lengthy lay-off due to injury. Young goalkeeper Peter Stewart has been impressive between the posts, while W.A. Under-19 representatives Andre Sarpe and Dale McCulloch will be raring to turn on the style before they head to France early next week. On the down side, the Saints will sorely miss inspirational midfielder Sandy Robertson who will be absent for several weeks.
Sorrento were made to fight hard for maximum points last Saturday when they defeated the Western Knights 1-0 away from home. The Seagulls welcomed back to the fray one of their favourite sons Jamie Harnwell, who partnered Danny Hill at the back, for the game. Jamie Harnwell has carved out a reputation as being one of the NSL's best defenders and with some 80 plus appearances for the club under his belt will prove a worthy acquisition.
Down the other end of the park Sorrento have been banging in the goals with Ryan Jeans and Ross Greer snaring 13 between them, while the signing of State player Kevin Correia has further added to Trevor Morgan's arsenal. But they will be without the services of winger Todd Harnwell who was dismissed late in last week's game and sits out the clash through suspension.
PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW
It's a big round of fixtures this Saturday in the Premier League. Fremantle City are itching to get back on the park and take on local rivals Cockburn City who have taken maximum points from their past three outings. It's make or break time for bottom side Swan I.C. who have a great opportunity to record their first victory of the winter when they host Inglewood United. United might find the distraction of seven players heading to France with the W.A. Under-19's two days later, and won't take comfort from the fact they've conceded 13 goals in the past three weeks.
There's another big derby match taking place at Percy Doyle Reserve where Sorrento host ECU Joondalup. Sorrento will be hoping to re-discover their early season form while the visitors are looking to introduce some consistency into their results. Bouyed by a big win last week, Perth battle it out with traditional rivals the Western Knights at Dorrien Gardens in a game too close to call. The final fixture pits a much improved Floreat Athena outfit with Bassendean Caledonian, who last week crumbled 1-7 at home to Perth.
JONES MAKES IMPRESSIVE DEBUT
Goalkeeper Brad Jones has kept a clean sheet on his international debut as the Young Socceroos defeated Guam 6-0 in their second game of the East Asia Games in Osaka, Japan. The Australian Under-20's progressed to the semi-final stage of the tournament after downing the host nation 1-0 in their first group match.
At club level, it is believed that the Perth-born youngster could be set for a move from Middlesbrough next season. Rumour has it that Jones is being chased by a number of clubs from outside the Premier League with the view of taking him on loan for the duration of the 2001/02.
LAZARIDIS ON THE MOVE?
The days of Stan Lazaridis at Birmingham City appear to be numbered after the club's failure to win their way into the Premier League for the 2001/02 season. The former Floreat Athena player indicated last month that he wasn't keen on spending another season in England's First Division and that a return to the top flight was his aim at his stage of his career. With a proven track record at international level for Australia, Lazaridis was never sure of his place in the blues first team under boss Trevor Francis. Linked with a move to Middlesbrough early in the season, it is believed Aston Villa and Ipswich Town have also joined the chase for Lazaridis' signature.
The game between Inglewood United and Fremantle City, which was postponed last week, has been re-scheduled for Tuesday 19th June. Three days earlier Inglewood host Floreat Athena, and Fremantle are away to Perth. Four days later Inglewood are at home to Bassendean Caledonian, while Fremantle take on Athena at Ken Allen Field.
SWC PLAN GOES UP IN SMOKE
Soccer West Coast's plan to charge NSL side Perth Glory to loan players back tot he local clubs over the winter months has gone up in smoke after it was revealed that, under FIFA rules, it is illegal for the local body to demand such payment.
MATASSA A HERO AT LITTLE WOKING
Former Perth goalkeeper Vince Matassa enjoyed a fantastic 2000/01 season in England where he played for Conference League outfit Woking. The one-time Young Socceroo went home from the clubs' end of season trophy night this week with an armful of silverware after picking up four of the nine awards on offer - the prestigious 'Player of the Year', the 'Telepeople.com Player of the Year', the 'Supporters Club Player of the Year' and the 'Junior Cards Player of the Year'. It is believed Matassa has recently agreed terms with Woking for the next season.
ONE UP-ONE DOWN
There has been a change of heart at Soccer Headquarters where it has been decided that only one club will be relegated from the Premier League this season. It was mooted pre-season that top flight was being reduced to eight teams next season, meaning three sides would go down at the end of this winter. But this week comes confirmation that a ten team competition will be retained for the 2002 Premier League season with a straight swap taking place between the First Division champions and the tenth ranked top flight club.
UNDER-19 SQUAD ANNOUNCED
The W.A. Under-19 squad that will compete in the Tournoi de Croix in France early next month has been announced with seven of the seventeen players named drawn from the ranks of Inglewood United. Having come together under a month ago, coach Eric Williams has pushed the players through some punishing sessions at Wootton Reserve in an effort to get them up to speed. Speaking to Jonathan Cook of the "West Australian" late last week, Williams said he would have liked a longer preparation for the trip but is confident that those selected will do the state proud. "If we can compete as a unit and work hard off the ball we should do okay," he said. "We know there'll be some good, skillful players out there."
Williams said the tournament would provide great exposure for some on W.A.'s finest young talents. "It's a chance for everyone to show what they can do," the coach said. "We want ambitious players. This will be a great experience for the guys to play in Europe and see what they are up against." The trip will also provide some consolation for the local players who do not have the opportunity to compete in the National Youth League.
The 18-man squad which leaves Perth on Monday, departing at 4.30pm, is Derek Cooke (Bassendean Caledonian), Antonio Naglieri (Cockburn City/Perth Glory), Ryan Fredericks, Jason Godfrey, Shaun Kilkelly, Beni Pietropiccolo, Greg Sharland, Philip Smiljanic, Oliver Taseski (Inglewood United), Dale McCulloch, Andre Sarpe (ECU Joondalup), Todd Howarth, Andreas Oliviera (Perth), David Foster, Jared Love (Sorrento), Michael Vaz, Ivan Zuvela (Western Knights) and Daniel Stoitis (Kingsway Olympic).
After five rounds of WAASSA competition, Fremantle United's Andrew Willars is the leader in the Premier Leagues Fairest and Best award. With referees awarding votes on a 3-2-1 basis, Willars has picked up eight votes to be two ahead of the chasing pack. Steve Adams (Mandurah City), Matthew Alcock (Forrestfield United), Tim Benson (Murdoch University), Neil Evans (Kwinana United) and Mark Kelly (Shamrock Rovers) are close behind with six votes each. In joint third place on five votes are Michael Vassilou (Perth Azzurri), Christ Atkins (Kwinana United), Jason Dixon (Murdoch University), Charlie Jenson (Perth Azzurri), Andrew Rennie (Murdoch University) and Frank Vezich (Spearwood Dalmatinac).
The Premier League's leading scorers charts has Flavio L'Abbate (Hamersley Rovers) and Andrew Rennie (Mandurah City) sharing top billing with four goals each. There is a large group of players close behind on three goals.
Maxwell Wright of breakaway First Division leaders Subiaco sits comfortably at the top of that competitions Fairest and Best poll with twelve votes. Scott Chambers (Belmont Villa) is second on seven, while a single vote behind we find Nidio Valadares (Carlisle) and Matthew Turnbull (Cockburn City Amateurs). On five votes and currently in joint fourth place are Alistair Page (Subiaco) and Christopher Stevenson (Cockburn City Amateurs).
The early leader in the First Divison scorers chart with 15 goals is Alistair Page (Subiaco), who looks certain to eclipse last seasons tally of twenty-three goals which saw him take out last seasons' trophy. Patrick O'Doyle (Geraldton La Fiamma) is a distant second with seven goals. There are a bunch of players sharing third place on five goals - Michael Ferraz (Cloverdale Chindits), Shane Turner (Carlisle), Jimmy Midera (Carlisle), Nidio Valadares (Carlisle), Luke Myburg (Canning/Langford) and Tino Bruzzese (WA Maccabi).
JOINT BID FOR LICENSE?
Soccer West Coast are believed to be interested in lodging a joint bid with Fremantle City for the second NSL license from Perth. Although a new W.A. club is unlikely to get the go ahead until at least the 2002/03 season, SWC president David Schrandt told the "West Australian" on the weekend that the local body would be delighted to talk with the Fremantle consortium regarding to a joint bid. Schrandt said this was on the proviso that the W.A. State League clubs had a 15% stake in the proposed side.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND SEVEN (Cockburn City vs Floreat Athena report provided by Community Newspapers reporter Mike Hennessey - Western Knights vs Sorrento report provided by Kerry Slater)
Saturday's game between Bassendean Caledonian and Perth at Jubilee Reserve was one both were desperate to win in order to keep their respective seasons on track. The home side have had a dreadful run of late - it's been a month since their last win, although recent draws with Swan I.C. and then-leaders Sorrento have shown they have the quality to mix it with the best of them. Perth had taken just one point from a possible nine going into this fixture, tumbling from second to seventh in the space of three weeks. And while they welcomed Nick Mrdja back from Perth Glory, the absentee list included Robbie Gaspar (suspended), Robert Scarparolo (injured) and Craig Naven (recently retired).
The game was just 4 minutes old when Caledonian took a surprise lead. Taki Nicolaides' near post corner went quickly to feet and a mad scramble for possession followed, referee Jeremy Oliphant judging Gary James to have got the all important final touch. The goal rocked Perth and the home side seized control. A free-kick just outside the area was played to midfielder Joe Kelly who scooped the ball over the bar from 12-metres. In the 12th minute Taki Nicolaides long thrown saw Lee Burns out-jump the defence but flick the ball just wide of the far post.
Perth looked to have won a penalty when Vince Tana was brought down inside the area two minutes after Caledonian scored, but after a lengthy consultation with his assistant referee Jeremy Oliphant ruled Tana to have been off-side when Todd Howarth played the ball. Never a side to discount, Perth slowly but surely chiselled their way back into the contest and were back on level terms in the 13th minute with a stunning goal. After some great led up work in the middle, Stephen Willey looped the ball in from the right and Mark Pottier timed his leap to perfection, rising above the defence and heading it over Tommi Tomich and under the bar. It was a textbook goal yes, but to see it performed so elegantly was something very special.
Not to be outdone, Keith Shortall tested Perth custodian Gianni Papalia five minutes with a superb curling shot from long range which Papalia somehow kept out of the top corner. Perth began to get on top midway through the half but Caledonian continued to go forward chiefly by playing the ball long over the midfield onto which strikers James and Mark Lennon raced. Perth's defence found themselves under a lot of pressure inside their own penalty area, at times being forced to make some hoofing clearances to get out of trouble. Caledonian made life difficult for the visiting back three - Perry Ielati, Aaron Cole and Michael Icanovski - by chasing up and pressuring at every occasion, only to find teenager Papalia ready for any eventuality.
With both sides going in hard, referee Oliphant should have had more influence over proceedings as frustrations began to get the better of the players. In the 25th minute Papalia was slow off his line and ended up on the receiving end of a rather crude challenge by Lennon which was allowed to go unpunished. This was a physical game from the start, but as it progressed and Oliphant took no action, things deteriorated into what at one stage looked like being last man standing wins.
With their midfield slowly coming into the game, Perth upped their creativity and made good use of their possession. David Onoforo released Mrdja down the left in the 31st minute, the striker running the ball into the area but took on one too many defenders as the ball was cleared before he could even line up the target. Two minutes later Onoforo and Howarth were a good four metres off-side - which amazingly went unnoticed - when they raced onto a long clearance from the back, but Tomich was alert and raced out to make a take the ball from Howarth's feet.
As the half came to a close it was all one-way traffic in favour of the visitors. Andreas Oliviera narrowly missed touching Willey's curling ball into the area in the 37th minute. Mrdja was proving to be a handful for the Caledonian defence, and in the 40th minute he pounced on a defensive error and ran at goal unchallenged before calmly slotting it past the advancing Tomich from 8-metres to make it 2-1. Three minutes later Oliviera sent a splendid shot from just outside the penalty area which Tomich had covered from the moment it left the midfielder's boot. And right on the stroke of half-time Tomich came to his sides rescue when Aaron Cole was allowed time to line up, hitting a vicious out-swinger from 20-metres which the 'keeper tipped around the up-right.
With the rain easing off after the interval, Perth bottled play up in their attacking half for the opening period of the second half but were unable to find any joy. Tomich could not be faulted as he marshalled those in front of him with maturity beyond his years, while Luke Croxall, Martin Woodall and George Ramm did a great job keeping Mrdja and Onoforo quiet. The closest the visitors came was four minutes after the re-start when Cole side-footed Willey's corner goalward, only for it to be cleared off the line.
Caledonian could have been back in the game when Mark Cox beat Icanovski on the right but flashed his shot wide from a tight angle in the 60th minute. Then, within the space of five minutes, the game was turned on its head as Perth struck with a killer one-two punch. In the 63rd minute Mrdja ran onto a perfectly weighted pass, took the ball past a couple of defenders and slammed his left-footer beyond Tomich. Two minutes later Mrdja was again at the heart of Perth's attack, half-volleying Willey's deep cross from the right on target which the 'keeper failed to hold and Onoforo was on hand to tap the follow-up into an open net to give Perth a commanding 4-1 lead.
With a three-goal buffer you'd think Perth would have eased off the pedal a little, but that wasn't to be the case as they took up camp in the Caledonian half. But to Tomich's and his defences credited, Perth could muster few chances until the closing stage when the introduction of substitutes Rhys Graham, Dino Djulbic and Boni Botha paid off for coach Perth Graham Normanton. All three got stuck in immediately and played their part in the visitors win.
Ten minutes from full-time Graham caught Tomich in no-man's-land and clipped the ball over the 'keeper to make it 5-1. Four minutes later Botha, who had just replaced Onoforo, finished off a sweeping move to further widen the gap. Mrdja made a strong run through the middle before finding Howarth out wide, his cross to the far post picking out Botha who nodded it into the back of the net. And in the 88th minute Graham looped the ball in from close to the by-line to find Oliviera unmarked, the young midfielder heading home the final goal of the afternoon.
The home side went in search of a late consolation straight from the re-start and Cox made his way past Djulbic only to be brought down by a brutal tackle from behind. With all appeals for a legitimate penalty ignored by the referee, Perth sprinted the ball to the other end on the counter-attack. Botha's inch-perfect pass found Mrdja who out-paced two defenders but his sloppy shot from 13-metres didn't trouble Tomich. A minute later the referee blew his whistle for the last time just as Perth were mounting another attack on goal.
Having started promisingly and taken the early lead, Caledonian were Perth's match for the opening hour of this fixture only to fade away dramatically as Perth piled on the pressure and went on a scoring spree. While the home side had far too many players flit in and out of the action without leaving a lasting impression, full marks must go to Caledonian defence who stood firm in the face of the almost non-stop on-slaught. For Perth it was difficult to single out individual players, it was a team effort in every sense. Playing a central role, Tana showed his quality while Howarth and Mrdja also proved difficult to keep tabs on. Coach Normanton would have been happy with his sides performance this afternoon after some poor results. But it looks like being a long week for his counterpart at Caledonian, Barry Smith, who must now try and motivate his players ahead of the tough away fixture with Floreat Athena on Saturday.
Bassendean Caledonian : Tommi Tomich, George Ramm, Luke Croxall, Martin Woodall, Taki Nicolaides
(Jason Van Rooy 46), Keith Shortall (Aaron Moschopoulos 78), Joe Kelly (Willie Grubb 56), Mark Cox,
Lee Burns, Mark Lennon, Gary James
Perth : Gianni Papalia, Perry Ielati (Dino Djulbic 78), Aaron Cole, Michael Icanovski, Todd Howarth, Stephen Willey (Rhys Graham 70), Vince Tana, Mark Pottier, Andreas Oliviera, David Onoforo (Boni Botha 80), Nick Mrdja
Referee : Jeremy Oliphant
Cautions : Lennon (47)
Dismissals : None
Attendance : 200 (approx.)
On a wet Saturday afternoon Swan I.C.'s season continued it's downhill slide when they lost 3-2 away to ECU Joondalup. In a game of three penalties Swan came back from being 3-0 down to score twice in a game they were unlucky to lose. The game started at a frenetic pace with the visitors dominating play and winning a bucketful of corners. In the 8th minute, referee Derek Minnet somewhat harshly judged Swan defender Anthony Jones to have pushed Jamie Kuzmanovic at a corner and immediately pointed to the spot from where Sandy Robertson made no mistake. To say Swan were furious at the decision is an understatement - especially as Jones appeared to be at least a metre away from his opponent when Kuzmanovic went down! But things would get much worse for the home side before they started to improve. In the 13th minute a long pass from Gerry McEwan from the heart of the Joondalup defence found Andy Mason on the right, he laid the ball off to Sean Fallon who in turn chipped it into the path of Joel Peacock. From 22-metres Peacock unleashed a vicious right-footed volley that dipped over the head of Corey Hugo and into the top corner of the net. The two goal buffer gave the visitors a false sense of security as Swan fought their way back into the game. Joondalup 'keeper Peter Stewart was put to the test three times in quick succession, twice by Damian Scali and once by Jones, but the young custodian saved well on each occasion. In the 36th minute Joondalup was another corner which was clipped to the front post and flicked on by Fallon before Mason bundled it over the line to make it 3-0 at the turn around.
The opening 15 minutes of the second half saw the game see-saw with both 'keepers making some timely saves. Then in the 62nd minutes Swan found a way back into the game when Damian Scali converted a spot-kick, and Brian Robertson further narrowed the gap with a great individual goal after cutting in from out wide. Five minutes later Joondalup should have killed off their opponents revival when Andre Sarpe won the visitors another penalty, but this time Sandy Robertson's attempt was well saved by Hugo. With the margin reduced to 3-2 Swan fought hard for the equaliser they thoroughly deserved. With the final play of the match, Damian Scali shook off McEwan then sent the ball thundering for goal from 18-metres only for Stewart to make a desperate save to his right and prevent Swan from grabbing a last minute equaliser. Post-match, Swan president Tony Scali and Joondalup coach Paul Simmons were very critical of Minetts' work with the whistle, the Swan official saying that he would be discussing matters with the referees body before Swan's next Premier League outing.
Sorrento regained top position on the Premier League ladder with a thrilling victory over the Western Knights in Mosman Park. The Knights were only pierced once, but that was enough to knock them from top position. Sorrento started the brighter and in the 3rd minute club leading scorer Ryan Jeans had the frustration of seeing his shot come back off Pedro Pavez's left post. The move that lead to the only goal of the day started in the Sorrento defence where Stuart Banks feed Kevin Correia, who was making his full debut for the club following his recent loan move from Fremantle City. Correia controlled the ball down to Michael Garcia who in turn knocked it to Todd Harnwell who, after speeding down the right, crossed for Correia to tap in - Pavez dived to get his hand to the ball but to no avail as the ball had crossed the goal line. The striker was the focus of the Sorrento attack and in the 29th minute he turned Gavin Tait but his shot was straight at Pavez. Three minutes later Todd Harnwell had his effort from in front deflected away by David Annall for a Sorrento corner. The Sorrento defence looked a impenetrable force as Jamie Harnwell, making his return on loan from Perth Glory, partnered Danny Hill in the heart.
Seven minutes after the break the Knights tested Neil Young who produced a superb reflex save to block Ivan Zuvela's powerful shot. Then four minutes later Young was again Sorrento's savior as he tipped over a Eugene Singeorzan header. It was action-a-plenty as Pavez could only parry Stuart Banks's shot from an angle, but somehow Todd Harnwell couldn't turn the ball in whilst under pressure from Aaron Nadin. On 68 minutes a Kevin Murphy free kick was firmly headed by Jamie Harnwell, but Pavez at full stretch tipped it over. In the 74th minute Sorrento went down to ten men when Todd Harnwell seemed hard done by to receive his second caution for an innocuous clash with Tait. Despite being down a player, the home team had a golden opportunity to double their lead - a long clearance from Young was headed by Jeans into the path of substitute Glen Thomas, but he blasted wide of the left post after 78 minutes. Within a minute the Knights's substitute, Tom Radic shot was well held low down to his right by Young. Sorrento held firm through three minutes of stoppage time to claim their first clean sheet of the campaign.
After their recent successes in the Premier League, Floreat Athena were disappointed to lose their latest match 4-3 against Cockburn City on a wet Saturday afternoon at Dalmatinac Park. The odds were always going to be against Floreat after they were reduced to 10 men midway through the first half. Both teams struggled to play attractive soccer in the wet conditions. A disputed free kick in front of goal gave Antonio Naglieri his chance and he curled the ball over the wall and into the top corner to give his side a 1-0 lead. Floreat replied immediately - Peter Vukmirovic's immaculate pass put Ryan Newhill through the centre and he slotted home to equalise the scores at 1-1. Athena's jubilation was abruptly ended as Vukmirovic was sent off for foul and abusive language directed at the referee. Reduced to 10 men Athena were forced on to the defensive. Well-marshalled by Hugh Miller, Athena held out to half-time and even managed a couple of attacks with Robin Dyers firing just wide. The home side took advantage of their numerical advantage in the second half. John Xigas was called upon twice to save from Naglieri but he could do nothing to stop Branimir Mikulic's powerful shot in the 58th minute that gave City a 2-1 lead. Seven minutes later Mikulic scored again following a goalmouth scramble. Worse was to follow for Athena when Naglieri fired home his second to his side a 4-1 lead. A penalty converted by Ryan Newhill reduced the arrears to 4-2 before Dyers broke through on the left to slide the ball past goalkeeper Dino Pacella. At 4-3 Athena had a glimmer of hope but time was against them although Troy Bernard's curling shot just scraped over the bar in the last minute to the relief of the home fans.
FIRST DIVISION ROUND-UP (Armadale vs Southside United report provided by Michael Di Pietro)
There was no joy for Armadale this week when they hosted Southside United in the local derby. Missing a number of regulars through suspension and injury, the game started disastrously for the reds with new signing Darren Ingham coming off with concussion after just 10 minutes. Eight minutes later they suffered another casualty, Gavin Clapperton off with a shoulder injury. With the game hanging in the balance, the home side had the greater percentage of play but were unable to capitalise in their final third. A defensive error in the 39th minute gifted a goal to the visitors, Jason Smith punishing the error to make it 1-0. The second half was played at a frenetic pace chances falling at both ends of the ground. The margin was doubled when United finished off a counter-attack in the 62nd minute. Armadale had their chances to get back in the game but the lacklustre finishing cost them dearly in the end. In the reserves clash, Armadale's climb up the ladder continued but not after an early stutter - United taking a the lead shortly before the break and then going two in front in the 49th minute. With an upset looming, the home side dug deep and after a good run down the right Steve McKean crossed to the far post where the unmarked Michael Di Pietro made no mistake with a well place header. The crowd came alive in the 73rd minute when substitute Cameron Bergsma levelled the scores, and eight minutes later Steve McKean made the comeback a reality scoring the winning goal for Armadale. Armadale's Under-18 side recorded their first win of the season where goals from Frank Mommone, Chris Abbott and Nick McLean made it 3-1 to the home side.
Bunbury was the venue for the First Division clash between South West Phoenix and Rockingham City. The opening half ended goalless with play evenly shared by the two sides, both defences stood firm and eliminated any threat well before their opponents got within striking distance. Ten minutes after the interval the visitors got the breakthrough they were after when Paul Colkin met a low cross to the back post and burried the ball from point blank range. Poor defending would cost the home side dearly this afternoon. In the 65th minute a dreadful blunder by David North allowed Robert Cerera to race through with only Braithwaite to beat, the striker slotting it past the hapless 'keeper to make it 2-0. Two minutes later City wrapped up the points when Graham Matthews was allowed time and space on top of the area from where he sent the ball into the back of the net. Phoenix pushed forward in an attempt to salvage something from the game and the final quarter of an hour was played out in the City half. Ten minutes from full-time the City 'keeper failed to hold a Steve Suttie shot and substitute Sasa Kilibarda scored a Phoenix's consolation goal. Phoenix badly missing influential captain Steve Rodgers today, missing through injury, while basic mistakes again cost the side valuable points. In the reserves Phoenix were unfortunately to go down 3-1 despite having the better of play, while the Under-18s crashed 4-1 with Sasa Kilibarda bagging the only goal for the home side.
Queens Park took their tally to 16 goals from their past three First Division (South) fixtures by defeating Canning City 2-0 away from home on the weekend. Rockingham stay second after downing Phoenix, and Leeming Strikers' 3-1 win over Morley Windmills sees them hold on to third spot.
The Stirling Lions over-hauled Ashfield at the top of the First Division (North) ladder on Saturday. With Ashfield having the bye, the Lions were made to fight hard for maximum points on the road to the Dianella White Eagles. The home side dominated the early stages of this game and took a deserved lead after 20 minutes when Robert Cibesku finished off some good work by Peter Kuzet. But after the break all the play was with the Lions who piled on the pressure and found the target three times for a 3-1 final score. Ashfield remain second and six points clear of third placed Kingsway Olympic who were held to a 2-2 draw by Balcatta. Perth City made it two wins on the trot by accounting for the Stirling Suns 4-2, while the game between Wanneroo City and Bayswater City ended in a 1-1 draw.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND SEVEN (IN BRIEF)
Bassendean Caledonian got off to a flying start against Perth at Jubilee Reserve wen they took the lead in just the 4th minute of play. But the visitors held the advantage at half-time through goals by Mark Pottier and Nick Mrdja. Mrdja's second in the 63rd minute opened the floodgates as David Onoforo, Rhys Graham, Boni Botha and Andreas Oliviera all scored over the next 25 minutes to make the final score 7-1.
Sorrento reclaimed top spot thanks to Kevin Correia who scored the only goal of the game against the Western Knights. Despite having their fixture with Inglewood United postponed, Fremantle City stay second and on level points with Cockburn City and the Knights. Cockburn defeated Floreat Athena 4-3 with young midfielder Antonio Naglieri bagging his sixth goal in three weeks for the southerners. ECU Joondalup retained their position in the top five with a 3-2 win over Swan I.C.
INGLEWOOD-FREMANTLE CALLED OFF
It has come to our attention that tomorrow's Premier League clash between Inglewood United and Fremantle City, which was to have been played at the Kiev Sports Ground, has been postponed due to the new stand at the ground not being finished. Officials from City offered several alternate venues for the game, all of which were of equal or better standard to United's ground, only to have them turned down. The game will be re-scheduled for later in the season.
PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW
The Premier League last weekend marked the passing of the first third of the season and it's shaping up to be a very tight winter. This Saturday, League leaders Fremantle City shouldn't have too many problems when they take on Steve Parkinson's young Inglewood United outfit who are leaking goals at an alarming rate. Second plays third when the Western Knights entertain Sorrento at Nash Field in what should be the game of the round. Sorrento have been finding the net with great frequency this season and the Knights defence will have to keep the likes of Ryan Jeans and Ross Greer quiet if they want any chance of victory.
Bassendean Caledonian have been big improvers in recent weeks, despite not chalking up win number two for the season, and this week face Perth who will be pumped and ready to emerge from a form slump which has seen them take just one point from their last three outings. Another side that have started to put it together on the park is Floreat Athena who defeated Sorrento and Perth in the past fortnight. This week they are away to Cockburn City who will by buoyed by last weeks thumping of Inglewood. In the remaining fixture, ECU Joondalup should bounce back from last week's 3-0 loss to Fremantle when they travel to play Swan I.C.
CRAIG NAVEN CALLS IT A DAY
Perth captain Craig Naven this week announced his retirement from the game after a long and distinguished career. Virtually a part of the furniture at Perth, the 32-year old defender has struggled this season after going under the surgeon's knife over the summer months for a hernia operation. Naven bows out of the game on a high, leading his club to the Champion Of Champions crown last year while being part of this season's triumphant Night Series squad.
Naven, younger than twin brother Gareth by five minutes, represented W.A. at all junior levels while playing for Gosnells City and later Bayswater Inter before representing Australian at the 1985 Under-16's World Cup in China. Shortly after returning from that trip he joined Perth and over the intervening years would play an integral part in the club lifting numerous trophies including five Premier League championships in a row, five play-off titles, two Cups and five Night Series trophies.
A tough-tackling, never-say-die attitude earnt Naven the respect of players and fans alike and it came as no surprise to anyone when he was named as captain of the Perth Kangaroos side that won the S-League championship in 1994. A stay in Malaysia with Sarawak followed before signing with then fledgling NSL outfit Perth Glory where he'd play 29 games between 1996 and 1997. Upon his NSL retirement, Naven returned to his old club and took his number of appearances for W.A. at senior level into double figures.
ATHENA ON THE MEND
Floreat Athena have come on in leaps and bounds in the past fortnight, recording victories over high-flyers Sorrento and Perth. The addition of one-time Perth Glory defender Peter Vukmirovic, signed from Swan I.C. a few weeks into the season, has added some much needed stability at the back for the club. Athena's other new signing is team physiotherapist Sam Duff who was formerly with Perth.
On the injury front, midfielder Jason Smith looks to be well on the road to recovery after last week featuring in the reserves' clash with Perth. He is expected to come back into the senior team in the not-too-distant future. The bad news for Athena though is that they will be without State representative Doug Ithier who damaged ankle ligaments against Fremantle City three weeks ago. He has since undergone surgery and is expected to be out of action for up to ten weeks.
INGLEWOOD-FREMANTLE VENUE CHANGE?
There is some confusion over where this week's fixture between Inglewood United and Fremantle City is to be held. The game was originally scheduled to be played at Kiev Sports Ground, but with the new 1,000 seat stand still not finished and Ken Allen Field in use, the various parties have spent the past week running around trying to find a suitable venue for the Premier League game. At the time of publication, we are yet to have confirmation as to where this fixture will be played.
GLORY RELEASE LOCAL PRODUCTS
NSL side Perth Glory this week announced that midfielder John Carbone and young goalkeeper Tommi Tomich, both products of the local system, would not be offered new contracts with the club. Carbone joined Glory mid-1998 after spells with Perth Azzurri and Floreat Athena in the State League, but failed to establish himself as a regular feature in the starting eleven. The former Australian Under-17 international made 49 appearances for the club, most of those coming off the bench.
Tomich was seen as a signing for the future when he agreed terms with Glory shortly before the commencement of the 1999/2000 season, making the bench on several occasions but unable to force his way into the team. After an impressive 1999 season with the Western Knights which saw them take out the Premier League, Tomich spent the following winter on loan to Cockburn City and is currently playing for Bassendean Caledonian.
Also released by Glory were favourite Vinko Buljubasic, who spent part of last winter playing for Inglewood United, and Peter Buljan who saw out the NSL season with Brisbane Strikers. Buljan made a couple of appearances locally for Rockingham City last season. It is believed that Inglewood United are negotiating terms with a number of the released players.
JEANS LEADS THE WAY
The two goals by Sorrento striker Ryan Jeans against Bassendean Caledonian on the weekend have taken him to the top of the Premier League's leading scorers. Jeans has found the target eight times in six outing this season to lead Trim Morgan (Fremantle City) and Branimir Mikulic (Cockburn City) on seven goals. Following closely behind is Eugene Singeorzan (Western Knights) with six, while on five goals is Jeans' teammate Ross Greer.
In all competitions it's Mikulic that leads the way with 13 goals, which includes his brace of five in the Night Series. Jeans is in second place with 10 goals, while Morgan, Singeorzan and Floreat Athena's Robyn Dyers share third with 9 goals each. Ryan Newhill (Floreat Athena) and Peter Petkovic (Cockburn City) are a further goal behind on 8.
OLDFIELD SCOOPS THE POOL
Soon to be 32-year old David Oldfield has completed his first full season with Peterborough United by dominating their end-of-season awards. The Perth-born midfielder went home with an armful of trophies after collecting awards both before and after the final League game of the 2000/01 campaign against Rotherham United.
Prior to kick-off Oldfield received the Supporters' Club "Player of the Month" award for April, B.B.C. Radio Cambridgeshire's "Posh Player of the Season" trophy, and also became the first recipient of a "Player of the Season" trophy from the Posh Monthly magazine. Later in the day at the Peterborough United Supporters' Club's annual presentations the midfielder picked up the coveted "Player of the Season" trophy.
Despite being one of the most experienced West Australians now playing overseas, Oldfield is far from a household name in this state. The midfielder first came to prominence when he joined Luton Town in May 1986 where his good passing and eye for goal attracted the attention of several clubs and earnt him a move to Manchester City three years later.
After one season in the top flight with the Manchester club, Oldfield would spend the next six seasons with Leicester City where he made over 200 appearances. A brief loan period to Millwall followed, before lengthy stays at Luton and Stoke City. With in excess of 500 games in the English game, Oldfield joined Peterborough in March 2000 and this season established himself firmly as an integral part of the starting side.
TWO WEST AUSSIES IN SOCCEROOS
Shaun Murphy and Stan Lazaridis have both been included in Frank Farina's 23-man Australian squad which will compete for the FIFA Confederations Cup in South Korea and Japan later this month. Murphy, who spent three years at Perth Italia in the local competition, has been a mainstay at the back for Sheffield United over the 2000/01 winter which saw him chalk up his 150th appearance for the club. Perth-born Lazaridis also enjoyed a productive season in the English First Division, being a key figure in Birmingham City reaching the Premier League play-offs and voted fourth in the club's "Player of the Season" award.
In what is shaping up to be a tight WAASSA season, Sunday saw surprise leaders Mandurah City maintain their lead at the top of the Premier League after they defeated bottom side the Morley Windmills Amateurs 2-1 away from home. Kwinana United stay second after five games courtesy of a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Forrestfield United, while it's a three way tie for third between Forrestfield, Murdoch University and Balga who are all on 9 points. Balga recorded their second win in as many weeks by downing Spearwood Dalmatinac 3-2, Kevin Pope getting the deciding goal, while Murdoch lost at home to Perth Azzurri 4-3. Fremantle United drew with mid-table rivals the ECU Joondalup Amateurs and Hamersley Rovers climbed away from the bottom three when they defeated Shamrock Rovers 3-1.
In the First Division Subiaco hammered the Cockburn City Amateurs 5-0 to open up a six point gap at the top of the ladder. The result maintains Subiaco's 100% win record in 2001 and saw them extend their goal difference to +18. Carlisle and W.A. Maccabi are level second on 9 points, Carlisle having defeated Canning Langford 4-2 at home with Maccabi being too good for North Perth United. Fourth-placed University of WA were held 1-1 at home by Geraldton La Fiamma. Canning/Langford and Cloverdale Chindits, who were thumped 6-1 by Colo Colo, make up the top six. Belmont Villa recorded their first win of the season by beating strugglers South Perth United 5-1 on the road.
HOW HARD CAN IT BE?
The W.A. Soccer Website would like to apologise to anyone that turned up at the Kiev Sports Ground on Saturday to watch the scheduled clash between Inglewood United and Cockburn City, which was to have been our feature review this week. Unfortunately the fixture was switched at short notice, and with a minimum of publicity, to Dalmatinac Park which caught a number of people by surprise, including a number from recognised media outlets.
The question must be asked as to why the media and general public was not informed of this change well in advance? Surely it is not that hard for the controlling body, Soccer West Coast, to issue a media release advising of a change of venue? We believe this is not the first time this sort of thing has occurred this season, and fear it will not be the last.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND SIX
Only the most passionate of supporters ventured out of their homes this afternoon as winter finally came to Perth. On the coldest day in 18 months the mercury peaked at just 13.6 degrees celcius well before mid-day, but by the time half-time arrived at Dorrien Gardens it was down to a chilly 10 degrees! To make conditions even harder for those on the park, the game between Perth and Floreat Athena was played in constant rain that saw 43mm fall on the city over the course of the day.
It was a much depleted Perth side that started - regular goalkeeper Robert Scarparolo out through injury and midfield general Mark Pottier suspended, while on the bench were State representative Todd Howarth and club captain Craig Naven who are both on their way back from injury. Doug Ithier, who has recently undergone surgery on an ankle complaint, was the only absentee for John Hunter's side. The Athena coach handed regular sweeper Troy Bernard a more attacking role just behind the front two, with Peter Vukmirovic, who has been playing in attack for the past couple of seasons, spending the game at the heart of his sides defence.
Both Perth and Athena spent the first 15 minutes adjusting to the cold and slippery conditions with neither able to assert much control over the flow of play. The visitors suffered the early set-back of George Tiniakos being replaced after just 7 minutes due to injury, Adrian Sutton taking his place in midfield with Peter Nikoloski slotting into the back-four. The only chance of the period came the way of Perth when Stephen Willey's centring ball picked out Andreas Oliviera who side-footed it wide of the target from close range.
With quarter of an hour gone that pace picked up with both sides finding some rhythm. David Onoforo beat John Xigas to a long clearance in the 17th minute which took him past the Athena 'keeper but left the striker to close to the by-line to shoot. Instead he squared it into the path of Rob Giorgi but the young midfielder was unable to get the touch needed to open the scoring. The visitors immediately raced the ball to the opposite end made the most of their opportunity - Sutton's cross from close to the corner flag saw Robyn Dyers leap above the crowd and thump his header past Gianni Papalia who had been left badly exposed by his defence.
The goal gave Athena some much needed breathing space, allowing them to be more creative on the ball while their opponents tried to play catch-up. The visitors midfield began to knock the ball around with increased confidence and, while they didn't exactly pepper Papalia with shots, he was much more involved that his counterpart at the other end. In the 22nd minute Sutton scuttled his attempt from long-range wide despite having plenty of time to line up the target. Four minutes later a deep corner by Bernard fell to Sutton on the far side of the area from where he brilliantly half-volleyed narrowly the wrong side of the top corner. Shortly after Bernard tried his luck from distance but it too whizzed off-target.
Perth were finding it difficult to get past the opposing backline where Vukmirovic and captain Hugh Miller were in complete control. Onoforo and Oliviera were making all the right moves but quality service just was not forthcoming from Perth's normally reliable midfield. The best chance for the home team came in the 31st minute when defender Aaron Cole pushed forward and made Xigas stretch for his long-range effort but, with little power behind the shot, it never really looked like being a problem for the experienced 'keeper. With half-time approaching, Bernard took the ball down the right and lofted it into the box where Dyers forced Papalia into conceding a corner, which Bernard took. The ball fell to feet and a mad scramble for possession followed during which it was somehow bundled over the line, referee Jeremy Oliphant crediting the goal to Miguel Ortin despite Sutton claiming it as his own at the time.
After a brief respite from the rain, the two teams emerged for the second half with only one change between them - Perth coach Graham Normanton replacing Giorgi with Todd Howarth. And the substitute wasted no time in making his intentions known, sending an elegant chip over an out-of-position Xigas which the fast back-tracking 'keeper caught at the far post. The home side looked much better with Howarth in the line-up, they upped their possession of the ball and were making good use of the full width of the park. Seven minutes after the re-start Willey made his way past an opponent before sending a blistering shot on target which Xigas held at the second attempt.
Just as Perth were starting to look like would mount a convincing comeback they were reduced to ten men for the second time in as many weeks. In the 54th minute influential midfielder Robbie Gaspar made a silly two-footed tackle on Vukmirovic which left the referee with very little option but to red card the new recruit. Two goals behind and now a man down, Normanton was forced to leave Onoforo in attack on his own and drop Oliveira back into a more central position. And the re-structure almost paid off immediately, Onoforo racing onto a searching pass before hitting a powerful drive on target from 18-metres, Xigas doing well to make the save.
What little hold Perth had over the game was showing signs of wavering and for much of the final half-hour they were the ones on the defensive. Ryan Newhill came very close to making it 3-0 when he surged into the area and busselled an opponent off the ball, but Papalia came to his sides rescue with a breath-taking save from close-range. In the 69th minute a speculative shot by Sutton from close to the by-line looped agonisingly the wrong side of the far post.
The introduction of Boni Botha and Rhys Graham injected some much needed urgency into a fast fading Perth team as they threatened a late comeback. It started when Onoforo sent his shot from a narrow angle high after being forced wide by Nikoloski. Five minutes from time Jamie Coyne curled the ball over the Athena defence, and Onoforo beat the off-side trap but couldn't keep the bouncing ball down. Three minutes later Coyne pounced upon a dreadful error by Sutton to race through on goal and knocked it over the advancing 'keeper but wide of the up-right. But it was a case of too little too late for the home team.
Three minutes into stoppage time Newhill once and for all put the game out of Perth's reach. He chased up a very long clearance which Papalia raced out of his box to collect, only for the bouncing ball to bobble over the 'keepers head and allow Newhill to walk it into an open net. Two minutes later Onoforo came close to nabbing a consolation goal when he connected with Howarth's cross from the left, but his header crashed against the crossbar and out for a goalkick in what would be the final play of the day.
With the final whistle came the signal to all that it was time to re-evaluate Athena's position this season. Many had written the club off as struggling to avoid relegation, but with back-to-back wins over then-leaders Sorrento and Night Series champions Perth their odds for end-of-season honours must surely have been shortened. Perth on the other hand were today out-classed all over the park and coach Normanton must be beginning to feel the heat as his side tumbled out of the top half of the table for the first time in 12 months.
Perth : Gianni Papalia, Perry Ielati (Boni Botha 71), Michael Icanovski, Aaron Cole, Vince Tana, Stephen
Willey (Rhys Graham 78), Rob Giorgi (Todd Howarth 46), Jamie Coyne, Robbier Gaspar, Andreas Oliviera,
Floreat Athena : John Xigas, Adrian Spinelli, Hugh Miller, Peter Vukmirovic, Adrian Sutton, Costa Socratous, George Tiniakos (Peter Nikoloski 7), Troy Bernard (Manuel Arapis 82), Miguel Ortin (Andrew Afkos 77), Ryan Newhill, Robyn Dyers
Referee : Jeremy Oliphant
Cautions : Vukmirovic (20), Giorgi (41), Spinelli (76)
Dismissals : Gaspar (54)
Attendance : 150 (approx.)
In driving rain and battling a strong wind, long-time rivals Fremantle City and ECU Joondalup fought it out at Ken Allen Field on Saturday. The visitors controlled the opening 45 minutes only to somehow find themselves two goals behind at the break. Joondalup came out of the blocks with a bang and had the home side on the ropes for the opening period, former Socceroo custodian Robert Zabica making three tremendous saves to keep his side in the hunt, including a stunner from Sean Fallon's vicious drive. The 13th minute proved an unlucky one for Joondalup, a deep cross to the far post evaded City's strikers but a dreadful mix-up between young goalkeeper Peter Stewart and experienced campaigner Sandy Robertson saw the ball spin off the latters' boot and into the net. The goal did not change the pattern of play however with Joondalup creating numerous goal scoring opportunities but unable to convert. In the 25th minute Will Pryce's long ball was charged on to by midfielder Daniel Trim who nipped in between Scott Broadley and Stewart to double the margin. Shortly after Broadley had to be substituted due to a knee injury, and a few minutes before the break Joondalup's problems were compounded when striker Abdul Kamara came off with a calf strain.
For the second time in as many weeks, Joondalup coach Paul Simmons was forced to re-shuffle his line-up at the interval but it didn't appear to have much effect on the eleven players which took to the park for the second half. Joondalup continued to work hard in their final third and peppered their opponents goal, only to find no way through the City defence who were in outstanding form. City sparked into life around the hour mark when Paul McVittie and Trim took control of the midfield and stemmed their opponents flow. Stewart produced some classy saves to deny Trim Morgan, Trim and Michael Mirco, the latter being especially noteworthy. The final 15 minutes was real end to end stuff which saw the respective defences stand firm in the face of the on-slaught. A few minutes before the final whistle Morgan, who had been very quite all afternoon, ended up with the ball at his feet inside the 6-yard box from where he slotted it past a helpless Stewart. In hindsight, Joondalup probably deserved to have taken something home from this game, but had to be content knowing that striker Carl McDarby is close to making his comeback from injury, bagging both goals in the reserves 2-1 away win.
The Western Knights trip to the Swan Valley proved fruitful on Saturday as they battled to a hard-fought 1-0 victory over the winless Swan I.C. In a game which the home side dominated for long periods, young Knights goalkeeper Pedro Pavez was the star of the first half with a string of fine saves which kept Swan at bay. In total contrast, Corey Hugo between the posts for Swan made forced into making one save over the entire 90 minutes. However, the Knights were the only side to find the target when Eugene Singeorzan forced the ball home after a rare foray into attack by his side. Swan enjoyed the better of play after the break but still could not make the most of their chances. At the back Dean Milnar turned in another strong performance, while in the middle of the park it was Carlo and Damian Scali along with Eddie Mura who maintained Swan's dominance.
In the fixture switched at late notice to Dalmatinac Park, Cockburn City moved into the top five with a comfortable 5-2 victory over Inglewood United. Branimir Mikulic and Antonio Naglieri bouth found the net twice for the home side along with midfielder Dean Gartside, while United's goals came from Scott Campbell and Daniel Harrop. Bassendean Caledonian took a valuable point home from Percy Doyle Reserve where they took the early lead against Sorrento. But a double by Ryan Jeans and Ross Greers' fifth goal of the season cancelled out two goal from Mark Lennon and another by midfielder Keith Shortall.
FIRST DIVISION ROUND-UP (Ashfield-Stirling Suns details provided by Craig Culverwell of the Ashfield website)
Playing at home for the second week in a row, an injury hit Ashfield side took on the Stirling Suns who are yet to hit the sort of form that they displayed last winter. Such is the problem at Ashfield that first team coach Tom Kilkelly pulled on the boots once again for the reserves outing. In the senior clash, the Suns pushed hard all day and at times had their opponents under some red-hot pressure from which Ashfield managed to escape unscathed. The best chance of the opening half fell to the Suns' Sven Hein who missed a golden opportunity to give his side the lead. It wasn't until the 70th minute that the deadlock was finally broken, Ashfield's second half replacement Colin McKeon crossing from the right to find stand-in striker Alen Havic, who cleverly turn a defender before slamming it past the out-stretched hand of the 'keeper. Shortly before the final whistle the visitors lost hard-working Robe Markovski when he collected his second yellow card of the day. Steve Goff put in another sterling effort in the middle of the park for the home side with Karl Atley and Andy Taylor also leaving their mark.
Ashfield and the Stirling Lions are the breakaway leaders in the First Division (North) after six rounds, both yet to lose a game this winter and sitting seven points clear of third placed Kingsway Olympic. The Lions were made to fight hard for their three points one the weekend by bottom club Balcatta who eventually succumbed 1-0. Kingsway Olympic thumped Wanneroo City 4-0, while Bayswater City's dreadful 2001 campaign continued when they lost 5-0 to a much-improved Perth City outfit.
The Wotton Reserve pitch resembled a duck pond by the time the First Division clash between home side Morley Windmills and South West Phoenix got underway. Windmills were out for revenge after being knocked out of the Boral Cup some four weeks earlier by Phoenix, but it was the visitors which got off to the better start when Sasa Garic released David Suttie down the flank straight from the kick-off, but his ball into the area was cleared before a teammate could get on the end of it. With their first attack of the afternoon, Windmills scored from a cracking 22-metre shot which took a wicked deflection and flew past stranded Phoenix 'keeper Reece Braithwaite. Stunned by the blow, the visitors took some time to get back into the game as Joe Comito and Elliot Gibson worked hard to break down most of their opponents attacking forays. Garic was continually sending Phoenix forward and in the 23rd minute his side found their equaliser after Stephen Suttie was fouled just outside the 18-year box. Garic's free-kick slammed into the up-right, Jacob Fewster saw his follow-up superbly but it was to no avail as David Suttie rammed the ball home from 10-yards. With Phoenix now getting on top of the home side, the referee was left with little choice to abandon the game after 30 minutes due to the middle of the playing surface being deemed unplayable. Both clubs are now waiting to hear from Soccer West Coast as to whether the result will stand or the game needs to be replayed.
Queens Park followed their six-goal demolition of Leeming Strikers last week by thumping eight past a luckless Armadale side without reply at Coker Park. The win keeps Queens Park on top of the First Division (South) table on goal difference, ahead of Rockingham City who downed the pointless Canning City 4-0 at home. After five games, Queens Park and Rockingham sit on 13 points - four clear of third placed Leeming Strikers - having conceded just one goal each. The final game of the round was another high-scoring affair, Southside United crushed 9-1 by Leeming.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND SIX (IN BRIEF)
The dismal form of Perth continued on the weekend when they were out-played all over the park by a far more determined Floreat Athena side at Dorrien Gardens. An extra time strike by Ryan Newhill completed the 3-0 route, Robyn Dyers and Miguel Ortin finding the net before the break.
Fremantle City claimed top spot on difference when they thumped ECU Joondalup, while the Western Knights kept pace with the leaders courtesy of Eugene Singeorzan's first half goal against Swan I.C. Bassendean Caledonian claimed a valuable point from their road trip to Sorrento in a six-goal thriller. And the Inglewood United crashed 5-2 away from home to Cockburn City.
PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW
This weeks' game of the round would have to be the contest between Fremantle City and ECU Joondalup at Ken Allen Field. City have turned their season around with three wins on the trot and Trim Morgan will be bouyed after scoring a hat-trick against the Western Knights last Sunday. But Joondalup will prove stiff competition, Paul Simmons has his side primed and they are improving with each and every outing.
At the Kiev Sports Ground, Inglewood United mark the opening of a new stand when they play Cockburn City in a must-win game for the home side. Having upset Sorrento last week, Floreat Athena will be looking to make it two wins in as many weeks when they travel to play Perth. Sorrento should bounce back from last weeks shock loss when they host strugglers Bassendean Caledonian. Winless after five games, new Swan I.C. coach Paul Wozny will have to have his troops in peak form to overcome a determined Western Knights side.
JONES NAMED FOR JAPAN TOURNAMENT
Perth-born Middlebrough goalkeeper has been named in the 18-player Young Socceroo's squad that heads to Japan next Tuesday to take part in the East Asia Games being held in Osaka, Japan, from 19th May. National youth coach Ange Postecoglou will use the games, in which Australia plays Japan and Guam in its opening rounds, as valuable preparation for next month's FIFA World Youth Championship in Argentina.
"The East Asia Games herald the start of a very hectic period for Australia's youth teams, and will provide valuable experience for each member of the squad," said Postecoglou. "The tournament is a very prestigious one and we are delighted to have been invited, we're looking forward to continuing the good form which saw us through our recent qualifiers, and we're obviously hoping to win it."
McNALLY OUT FOR TWO WEEKS
Western Knights midfielder Shane McNally has been suspended for two weeks and fined $150 by Soccer West Coast after an unsavoury incident during the game with Fremantle City at Nash Field last week. Shortly before half-time McNally was sent off for stamping on City player Anthony Perriera as he lay on the ground. It is believed the one-time State representative has also been disciplined by his club over the clash.
The Knights will also be without captain Scott Devine for the next two weeks due to work commitments. He will miss the away game with Swan I.C. this Saturday as well as the important home clash with Sorrento next week. Youngsters Michael Vaz and Ivan Zuvela, who have been included in the W.A. squad heading to France later this month, are expected to come into the starting eleven for the Knights this weekend.
ASHFIELD SEEK COACH
Ashfield Soccer Club are looking for a suitably qualified and/or experienced coach for their Under-18s side. Five games into the 2001 season, Ashfield's juniors sit in fifth place on the First Division (North) ladder with a 2-1-2 win-draw-loss record. Interested parties are requested to contact senior coach Tom Kilkelly on 0416 130 820 (mobile) or 9309 3082 (after hours).
BORAL CUP QUARTER-FINALS DRAW
The Boral Cup quarter-final draw has been made with all game scheduled to be played on Monday 4th June. League leaders Sorrento take on Inglewood United at Percy Doyle Reserve, while in the other all Premier League clash it's Cockburn City at home to ECU Joondalup. Dorrien Gardens is the venue for the fixture between Perth and the Stirling Suns, and down the road at the Litis Stadium Floreat Athena play host to First Division (South) outfit South West Phoenix.
ZABICA JOINS FREMANTLE
Former Australian representative Robert Zabica recently agreed terms with reigning Premier League champions Fremantle City for the remainder of the W.A. State league season. His signing comes after it was revealed that State representative Alan Dunlop, who started the season as the clubs first choice 'keeper, will be out of action for much of the 2001 winter due to injury. Former Western Knights custodian Darren Williams, who joined the port side only a few weeks ago, has been transfer listed.
City will be the fifth club for Zabica in four years. During that time he has turned out for Cockburn City (1998), English club Bradford City (1998/99), Bayswater City (1999) and Inglewood United (2000). The one-time Socceroo 'keeper, who recently celebrated his 37th birthday, is regarded as the best goalkeeper to emerge from W.A. and includes amongst his credits 24 'A' internationals for Australia and three W.A. Goalkeeper of the Year trophies.
SECOND LICENSE ON HOLD
It is looking increasingly unlikely that Soccer Australia will allow a second Perth-based team into the ranks of the NSL next season. It is believed that at a meeting this Saturday in Sydney, the national body will announce 14 -team competition for the 2001/02 season consisting of the current NSL clubs minus Eastern Pride who folded just weeks before the end of the home-and-away series.
The impending announcement comes as a blow to the two local consortiums that applied for the license - Soccer West Coast and Fremantle City. It has been suggested that two NSL clubs - Adelaide City and the Brisbane Strikers - may yet fold before next season, but Soccer Australia have made it clear that they would prefer to replace those clubs with sides from their respective states - the South Coast Eagles (South Australia) and the Brisbane Lions (Queensland).
Speaking with "The Sunday Times" late last week, SWC president David Schrandt said that even if local body was given the go-ahead they would find it difficult to be ready in time for the new season. "I would suggest to you, that if we got the nod to go in October this year, we would be facing an uphill battle," Schrandt said to "the Sunday Times". "Three months is short - you're virtually dreaming to get something up and running. You're looking for the quick fix and that's not right, plus it's not commercially diligent to rush something as big as this. Perth Glory did it the right way and look at them now."
Fremantle director John Da Luz agreed with Schrandt, saying that to be up and running in the space of five months would be a tough ask but one definitely not out of the question for his club. "It would be hard and it would be rushed but I think we could get up," Da Luz said. "The following season would make more sense."
The good news for both consortiums is that it is believed that either SWC or Fremantle will be invited to join the NSL for the 2002/03. It has been suggested the League will be expanded to 16-teams at that time, although it is more likely that a 14-team competition will be maintained with natural selection taking care of two of the existing clubs that are struggling to make ends meet.
SWC CLAMP DOWN ON GLORY LOANS
Speaking with Jonathan Cook of the "West Australian" newspaper late last week, Soccer West Coast president David Schrandt said that the local body would be asking Perth Glory to pay for the right to loan its players back to State League clubs. Some of Glory's recent signings from the Premier League have been staying match fit by turning out in the local competition, and SWC will ask the NSL side for compensation for this as of this week. Schrandt suggested that the body would enforce regulations which fixed loan transfers at a minimum of 28 days should payment not be forthcoming.
According to Glory general manager Roger Lefort, the NSL club are acting in accordance with Soccer Australia's guidelines which permits their players to move between Glory and the local clubs. The players which would be most affected by SWC's decision are Nick Mrdja, Antonio Naglieri and Todd Harnwell who have been loaned to Perth, Cockburn City and Sorrento respectively this season.
The early leaders in the local womens' competition is Floreat Athena who, undefeated after three rounds, have an amazing plus 24 goal difference. In the weekends' fixtures, Athena thumped the Sorrento Breakers 8-0 away from home, Stirling Reds defeated Queens Park A 3-0 at home, and University A chalked up their first win of 2001 by downing Lynwood 3-1. Athena are ahead of Murdoch A on goal difference at the top of the leader board on 9 points, with Queens Park, the Stirling Reds and the Sorrento Breakers making up the top five with 6 points apiece.
The local womens' association are already busy preparing for the 2001 National Junior and Youth Championships which are being staged in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, between 9th and 15th September. Sal Todora has been appointed coach of the Under-17's side, with Leo Curley in charge of the Under-14's. Selection trails for both teams will commence in the not too distant future. For more details on the activities of the secretary of Womens' Soccer in W.A. Barbara Gibson on 9493 1627.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND FIVE (Perth vs Cockburn City report provided by Community Newspapers reporter Mike Hennessey)
Bassendean Caledonian Barry Smith and his Swan I.C. counterpart Paul Wozny acknowledged before the meeting at Jubilee Reserve that both sides could do with three points today - a draw would do no-one any favours and would only see them lose ground on those clubs higher on the Premier League table. Going into what was expected to be a tight game, winger Jason Van Rooy was the only noticeable absentee for the home side while Swan were without regulars Justin Hugo and Darren Freeman.
Neither side started this game in what would you term sparkling form, rather we were witness to a very scrappy opening on a narrow pitch which is going to cause a lot of visiting teams' problems this winter. For much of the first 20 minutes Swan struggled to adjust to the confines of the playing surface, unable to get into the swing of their natural game which sees the wing-backs playing very wide. With space limited and players quickly closed down, there were simple mistakes made by both sides which resulted in the ball being turned over with great frequency. The congested nature of the game meant their neither team were able to construct any meaningful attacks during the opening period, the only chance coming in the 9th minute when Caledonian striker Mark Cox sent the ball wide from the top of the 18-yard box.
Eventually the two teams settled with Caledonian making better use of the ball courtesy of some pin-point passing when running the ball through the middle. In the 21st minute Mark Lennon broke on the counter-attack and sent Ian Griffiths inside the area where Carlo Scali saved the visitors with a perfectly-timed sliding tackle. Two minutes later Gary James out-paced Dejan Mlinar to a long ball down the right but his in-swinging shot ended the wrong side of the up-right. Then it was Cox's turn, brilliantly turning an opponent but blazing high from a narrow angle. And just after the half-hour mark Lennon won his side a free-kick just outside the area which Taki Nicolaides curled narrowly wide of the post.
While the home side were having all the shots, Swan were by no means out of this game. The too showed promise when going forward only to find the opposing four man defence in fine form. From wide Rory Mouttet pumped several crosses in the dangerzone where the Caledonian players were quick to gobble up the ball before knocking it confidently to their midfield. The best chance of the half for the black and whites came nine minutes before the break when Mouttet found Carlo Scali, but before the Swan captain could shoot Martin Woodall had taken the ball from his feet and Caledonian went on the attack. The home defence were giving Swan no room in which to manoeuvre and in everything the visitors tried in their final third of the pitch was nullified by their opponents well organised backline.
Caledonian continued to create chances down the other end but really there wasn't a lot which caused visiting 'keeper Corey Hugo much cause for concern. Cox showed great skill in the 38th minute when he got on the end of a long clearance by Nicolaides, cleverly flicking the ball over the head of a Swan defender only to half-volley it high from 14-metres. The Caledonian striker was a key feature every time his side went forward and it wasn't long before he was being paid closer attention. A minute before the half time whistle Cox found enough space to send a lovely through ball to James who went down inside the area after being sandwiched between two defenders, referee Michael Nugus rightfully waiving away appeals for a penalty.
The pattern of the second half was established early on with the respective defences lofting the ball over the heads of those in the middle for their forwards to race onto. In effect this cut out a lot of the unattractive play in the middle of the park, but it also made redundant both midfields who had limited effect as a result. Caledonian and Swan took their time in settling after the re-start and when they did it was the home team that again looked the more likely to score. But Swan's adoption of a very flat defence would come to their rescue twice in quick succession. In the 54th minute Cox skated onto a long ball played down the right and rocketed it past Corey Hugo, only for the referee to disallow the goal for off-side. Two minutes later Caledonian found the target again, Griffiths this time thumping it past the 'keeper only for the assistants flag to again halt celebrations.
The home side continued to ply the pressure throughout the half and, if only for better finishing, would have found themselves a few the better at the end of the day. In the 60th minute James and Cox streamed into attack when the ball was played over the Swan defence who were left stranded on the halfway line, but neither striker was willing to take the final shot and a wasted chance resulted. Two minutes later Joe Kelly lobbed the ball back over the advancing Swan players, Cox out-muscled Justin Everley but with only Hugo to beat he skied the clearest shot of the game. Not long after, Lennon found himself with only Hugo standing between him and the net when he pounced on some lax Swan defending only to hit it wide from 12-metres.
With flank players Mouttet and Carlo Scali working tirelessly to get their team back into this game, Swan were getting in attack with regularity too but could still find no way past a stubborn Caledonian backline. Midway through the half they looked like coming right back into the game when Mouttet carved out a couple of goal scoring opportunities. In the 71st minute the State representative raced down the left and drove the ball to the far side of the 18-yard box where Carlo Scali's first time effort thundered into the side netting. Four minutes later Mouttet was the inspiration again, his centring ball picked up by Eddie Mura whose curling shot required two grabs from goalkeeper Tommi Tomich as Carlo Scali raced in for the crumbs.
Inside the last 15 minutes and both defences tightened considerably to make sure their side wouldn't go home empty handed. The only chances of the period fell to the home team - Keith Shortall caught the Swan defence ball-watching in the 77th minute but blasted high from 15-metres, and 60 seconds later Cox expertly turned Mlinar only to flash the ball wide of Hugo's post. Both sides were by this stage showing outward signs of the effects a warm afternoon and there was little to get excited about as the match fizzled out into a scoreless draw.
In a game dominated by the respective defences, Caledonian captain Woodall was out-standing and rarely put a foot wrong all afternoon. Fellow defenders George Ramm and Luke Croxall also contributed with some timely challenges and made sure that 'keeper Tomich would have a restful afternoon. For much of the match Swan were playing catch-up football and only Carlo Scali had a noticeable impact on proceedings. Mouttet and young defender Anthony Jones also deserved praise for their efforts in a Swan side which found it difficult to get out of first gear. The final result only re-enforced the believe that it is going to be a long and difficult winter for both of these sides as they fight to avoid the drop.
Bassendean Caledonian : Tommi Tomich, Martin Woodall, Luke Croxall, George Ramm, Taki Nicolaides, Keith
Shortall, Ian Griffiths (Derek Cooke 70), Mark Lennon, Joe Kelly, Gary James, Mark Cox
Swan I.C. : Corey Hugo, Dejan Mlinar, Anthony Jones, Justin Everley, Chris Perks, Rory Mouttet (Christian Marocchi 90), Carlo Scali, Damian Scali, Ross Holton, Scott Halpin (Ilia Manolev 84), Eddie Mura
Referee : Michael Nugus
Cautions : Holton (34), D.Scali (65), Croxall (80)
Dismissals : None
Attendance : 200 (approx.)
Inglewood United's young side made the trip north to the ground of ECU Joondalup on Saturday, and despite many of the travelling party having been at that club last season, they were greeted with a warm welcome. Joondalup started the game with a flurry of activity, winning numerous corners in the first ten minutes before their continued pressuring of the United defence paid off. In the 10th minute, Sean Fallon clipped another corner to the near post, it was flicked on by Scott Broadley and Joel Peacock did the rest, heading in past a stagnant defence to make it 1-0. Joondalup then enjoyed an extended period in possession, knocking the ball around the park with confidence whether in attack or at the back. The home side lost lively forward Abdul Kamara to injury after 15 minutes, his place taken by 16-year old Andre Sarp who only recently arrived back in W.A. after a trial spell with Southampton in England. Two minutes later a flowing Joondalup move resulted in them doubling their lead. Some delightful passing between Richard Watson, Gerry McEwan and Jamie Kuzmanovich caused the United side to break ranks - the ball was knocked to Dale McCulloch who swiftly sent it wide to Stuart Montgomery, he whipped it into the area and McCulloch sent a thunderous header past Oliver Taseski. Not long after Kuzmanovich had to be taken from the ground with severe bruising to the ribs after colliding with Alex Cummings. The home side lost their momentum in the re-shuffle and United began to steer control away from Joondalup, only to suffer a killer blow ten minutes from the break. Fallon and McCulloch played a delightful one-two which saw the latter race past Ryan Freddericks before chipping into the area from the by-line, Taseski punched it to the edge of the 18-yard box where Steve White volleyed the ball back past an array of defenders and the stranded United 'keeper. Joondalup started the second half with injury clouds over three key players - Watson with a back complain, a thigh strain was hampering Sandy Robertson, but most concerning was Montgomery who was violently ill at the break. It wasn't long before Montgomery's state deteriorated and Joondalup coach Paul Simmons called for a substitution which was disallowed by the referee on the grounds the side had already made three changes - which was clearly not the case. A heated exchange followed after which the referee consulted his assistant, the mistake was finally acknowledged and on came 17-year old Dwayne Sajda. Again the re-shuffle unsettled the home side and United fought their way back into the game with Greg Sharland providing much of the inspiration wide on the right. In quick succession, the visitors won a series of corners and it was on their third attempt that Elton Holmes bundled it over the line at bring his side back into the game. In the 70th minute United were reduced to ten men after Holmes spat at the Joondalup bench in full view of the assistant referee who in turn reported the incident to the senior official. Now a man down, the visitors stepped up a gear to dominate the remainder of the match as Joondalup held on desperately with Watson's injury getting worse with every passing minute. With 5 minutes remaining, an error by Robertson saw three United players race past the advancing Joondalup defence which saw Sharland find the back of the net as the visitors sensed they could still take a point home from this game. But immediately from the re-start kick the ball was clipped wide and Fallon set off on a run, beating two defenders then hammering a hot on target which Taseski parried as far as Peacock who side-footed home.
Perth disappointed their supporters losing 2-0 to Cockburn City at Dorrien Gardens. Without Nick Mrdja (interstate with Perth Glory) and Todd Howarth (injured) Perth never looked like winners, even before the sending off of Mark Pottier in the 74th minute. The home side began brightly enough with David Onoforo clipping the bar in the fourth minute. Cockburn responded well and began to put pressure on the Perth defence. A fine move in the 10th minute enabled Antonio Naglieri to slot home to give Cockburn a deserved 1-0 lead. The standard of the game surprisingly fell away after the goal. Andreas Oliviera had a chance in the 23rd minute but could not convert and Perth had to rely on goalkeeper Rob Scarparolo coming to their rescue with a top save just before half-time. Perth opened with more purpose in the second half. A fierce drive by Rob Giorgi flashed just wide. Pottier's effort was well saved by Dino Pacella and Onoforo missed an open goal after a great through ball from Jamie Coyne. Disaster struck Perth in the 74th minute when they were reduced to ten men following the sending off of Pottier for a second bookable offence. Four minutes later Naglieri completed a double when he headed home to give Cockburn a 2-0 lead. It might have been worse for Perth but for a great double save by Scarporolo who foiled Branimir Mikulic then denied Naglieri. For the rest it was a lacklustre performance by Perth that left Cockburn deserved 2-0 winners.
Sorrento's flying start to the 2001 season came to a crashing halt at the Litis Stadium on Saturday when they took on an improving Floreat Athena outfit. The home side saw a golden opportunity to take the lead after just 7 minutes but Robyn Dyers' shot failed to test the 'keeper. Just before the half hour mark the tall forward made amends when he set-up striking partner Ryan Newhill who tapped the ball past Neil Young. Shortly after Dyers was again in the thick of the action, finishing off a move to convert from close range and making it 2-0 to Athena. Ryan Jeans slotted his penalty past John Xigas before the break, and shortly after the re-start Sorrento defender Danny Hill brought his side back into the game with a header which flew out of Xigas' reach. But in the 57th minute Athena reclaimed the lead when New Zealand international Adrian Sutton scored what would prove to be the deciding goal.
The Western Knights chance to jump to the top of the Premier League table went nowhere as they crashed 5-0 at home to reigning champions Fremantle City at Nash Field. In a tough and uncompromising battle, City had a chance to take an early lead when awarded a penalty, but Trim Morgan's effort was saved by the feet of young Knights custodian Damon Sluchniak. Confusion reigning in the 12th minute when Daniel Trim put the ball in the back with his hand, referee Frank Moretti awarding the goal but was convinced otherwise by his assistant, and Trim was booked for his somewhat cheeky behaviour. Two minutes later Morgan blasted home from 20-metres to make it 1-0 to the visitors. On the half hour mark the Knights had turned down what appeared a legitimate penalty when City defender Cesare De Bartolo handled a Carl Medica cross, but play was allowed to continue. With half-time fast approaching, John Mirco made it 2-0 when he seized upon a defensive mix-up between Sluchniak and Gavin Tait. A couple of minutes later the Knights were down to ten men when midfielder Shane McNally was sent off for lashing out at Anthony Perriera, who also took no further part in proceedings due to injuries sustained. Nine minutes into the second half Morgan tapped home his second of the day. Five minutes from full-time City captain Paul McVittie converted from the spot, and Morgan completed a great day for his club by rounding the 'keeper to score his first hat-trick of the 2001 season.
FIRST DIVISION ROUND-UP (Ashfield-Kingsway Olympic details provided by Craig Culverwell of the Ashfield website)
Saturday's local derby between Ashfield and Bayswater City was always going to be a difficult game despite the contrasting fortunes of the two clubs this season. As on several occasions this season, Ashfield caught their opponents on the hop to net the opening goal inside the opening few minutes. A 3rd minute free-kick was taken quickly and Andy Taylor finished off to snare his first goal of the 2001 season. But things were about to turn bad for the home side who, already missing four first team regulars through injury, saw Brett Colombera stretchered off with a knee problem after just 20 minutes. Two minutes after Colombera was replaced, Ashfield asserted their home ground advantage to double the margin - Matt Pochroj crossing deep from the right to find Shane Fuhr at the back post, he cleverly found the unmarked Taylor who coolly slotted it past the 'keeper. City fought hard to string together some promising moves but they were unable to break down the opposing defence.
The second period started in much the same fashion as the first finished with both midfields trying to get the upper hand without success. Ashfield's injury problems increased when Shane Fuhr was forced out of the game with a hamstring injury, then minutes later Lee McEvoy, who had come on for Colombera in the first half, had be replaced after going down with a foot injury. What had been a evenly-tempered game so far changed dramatically after an innocent tussle between Gene Wyllie (Ashfield) and Dario Dicesare (City) resulted in the pair being red carded. Two goals down and with their frustrations growing, the visitors were reduced to nine men a few minutes before full-time when another player was dismissed for his second yellow card offence. It was a good win for the injury ravaged Ashfield side for whom Gene Wyllie, Steve Goff and Andy Taylor were named as the best on field. But coach Tom Kilkelly is going to have his work cut out getting eleven fit players for this Saturdays home clash with Stirling Lions.
At Graham Burkett Reserve, Balcatta proved no match for a Dianella White Eagles outfit under the guidance of new coach Milos Bosnjakovic. Dragan Njegic bagged a hat-trick with Robert Cibesku (2), Peter Mrdja (2) and Zoran Barovic also finding the target as the game ended 8-2 in the visitors favour.
The Stirling Lions kept the pressure on leaders Ashfield when they defeated Wanneroo City 3-1, while Perth City went down 4-1 at home to Kingsway Olympic.
South West Phoenix went into their away clash with Canning City in desperate need of maximum points after two consecutive League defeats. And for the first time this season Phoenix clicked from the first minute, putting their opponents under pressure early on and taking the lead after just 5 minutes when Steve Rodgers released Sasa Garic whose right-footer from 14-metres flew past the 'keeper. The visitors settled to control play with a stylish display that left City at times chasing shadows. In the 26th minute Garic turned provider when he won the ball in midfield and slipped a pin-point pass through to Stephen Suttie who sent the ball across the 'keeper and into the net. Sloppy defending allowed the home side back into the game two minutes later when they were allowed a free shot on goal to reduce the deficit. Solid work by Garic and Suttie in the opponents third of the park saw the ball break between Steve Rodgers and the City 'keeper, the Phoenix man getting to the loose ball first and toe-poking it home.
The visiting midfield took command early in the second half and 12 minutes into the period Elliot Gibson turned his man to switch play, Suttie out-manoeuvring his marker before slotting it past the 'keeper. 4-1 up and Phoenix started to relax and made some elemental mistakes to conceded possession. In the 66th minute the visiting midfield and defence were caught napping when two City players were left unmarked in their attacking third of the park, Reece Braithwaite being drawn well out of position as the home side pulled another goal back. Seven minutes later another defensive lapse resulted in a penalty which Braithwaite brilliantly saved. Phoenix buckled down after the penalty miss and again took control of the contest. 12 minutes from time some good passing led to Steve Rodgers rounding the last defender only to be brought down for his efforts, and Garic bagged his second of the afternoon when he sent the 'keeper the wrong way from the spot to make the final score 5-2.
Queens Park are the surprise leaders of Division One (South) after four games, this week hammering six past the Leeming Strikers without reply. Rockingham City move into second on goal difference after a hard-fought 1-0 away win over Armadale, while Morley Windmills claim third place after being held to a 1-1 away draw with Southside United who are yet to win this season.
WA PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND FIVE (IN BRIEF)
It wasn't a good weekend for Premier League's leading pack with the top three clubs all recording losses. Floreat Athena recorded their first win of 2001 with a surprise 3-2 victory over leaders Sorrento at Litis Stadium, while Perth dropped two places to fifth after losing 2-0 at home to Cockburn City.
ECU Joondalup's reversal of form continued when they defeated Inglewood United 4-2, moving into fourth place in the process. At the other end of the table, Swan I.C. and Bassendean Caledonian slugged out a 0-0 draw at Jubilee Reserve.
In Sunday's action, the Western Knights crashed 5-0 at home to reigning Premier League champions Fremantle City. A hat-trick by Trim Morgan and singles from John Mirco and Paul McVittie moved the port side into second place on ten points, separated from Sorrento (1st) and the Knights (3rd) only by goal difference.
PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW
Both Bassendean Caledonian and Swan I.C. will be hoping for victory when they face each other at Jubilee Reserve. Neither side has got their season off in great style and will be looking for something special to revive their flagging fortunes. Perth face another stiff test when they host Cockburn City who are coming off a 2-3 loss to Joondalup. Perth last week proved they are one of the sides to beat with an impressive display in the 3-3 draw with Sorrento and it's hard to see them dropping points at home on Saturday.
The mid-table clash between ECU Joondalup and Inglewood United will see both sides desperate to take home maximum points with the threat of a substantial gap developing between the loser and the top part of the table. Despite the home ground advantage, Floreat Athena will find the going tough against an in-form Sorrento outfit for whom Ryan Jeans, Jared Love and Ross Greer have bagged 13 goals between them in four League outings. On Sunday second-placed Western Knights and fourth-placed Fremantle City slug it out at Nash Field in what could be the pick of the round.
ONOFORO BENEFITS FROM PERTH SET-UP
There have been few changes in the Perth camp over the off-season where coach Graham Normanton continues to build an impressive squad. With a good blend of youth and experience, Perth took out the Champion of Champions play-off title last season, and more recently they lifted the first silverware of 2001, the pre-season Night Series trophy. One of the youngsters that has benefited from the club's youth policy is 20-year old Australian Institute of Sport graduate David Onoforo who is looking forward to helping the club to further honours.
"We've picked-up where we left off last season and I think that having very few changes in the team has been beneficial for us," Onoforo said this week. "Normo is of the opinion that he's got the players to do it again this season so there was no reason to change personnel. All the playing staff know each other very well and we play to each others strengths." By his own admission, Onoforo's hasn't had the best of starts to the new campaign but he is determined to re-discover the cracking form he showed last year when Perth lost just two of their last 15 games. "I had a consistent season in 2000, it was my best year so far," he said. "We had a pretty gruelling pre-season which started early December 1999 and we just kept working hard throughout the season. As a team we refused to drop our heads even when results didn't go our way and in the end it paid off when we won the play-offs."
Onoforo started playing the game at the age of four, initially at Fremantle United and later Fremantle City. After impressing while playing for the state team at the National Talent Identification Championships in Sydney, Onoforo was offered a one-year scholarship at the AIS which he describes as the "experience of a life-time." "During my year at the AIS I developed as a player and made some good friends which included Ljubo Milicevic and Ivan Ergic. I would advise any young player offered a chance to go to the AIS to take it and use the Institute to its full capacity. While I was there we became minor premiers of the Northern Division and then went on to win the title at Olympic Park in Melbourne against Adelaide City, defeating them 4-1. I scored eleven goals during the season including one in the Final in front of about 15,000 people, that game was the curtain raiser to the South Melbourne-Carlton Final in 1997/98. A month later we went to Singapore and Malaysia where we spent four and a half weeks training and playing games in Indonesia which was another great experience."
1999 saw Onoforo return to W.A. where he played with Fremantle City but unable to hold down a permanent position in the first team he transferred to Perth at the end of that season. Besides being one of the club's leading scorers last winter, Onoforo also spent time on trial with Middlesborough and Sydney Olympic. As for future, the striker is more than happy to keep putting in on the park for his Premier League club. "Playing in the NSL or overseas has obviously been my ultimate dream, but after leaving the AIS nothing has really panned out. For now I am concentrating on working hard at my game and weaknesses and helping Perth win as many trophies as possible. If anything happens with the NSL or overseas it's a bonus, but I'm putting all my efforts and concentration into making Perth a success. I don't plan on moving to any other club locally - Perth is who I want to play for, it's a great club to be associated with and definitely the best in W.A."
SCHOOLBOYS TRAILS CONTINUE
The W.A. Schoolboys trials started over the recent school holiday break under the guiding eyes of coach Tony Ratcliffe and team manager Aric Foreman at the Britannia Road Reserve in Mount Hawthorn. While the announcement of the squad will not take place for a couple of weeks, the pair were impressed with the quality of the 70-odd participants that turned up for the try-outs. This years national titles are being held in Lisarow and Gosford in New South Wales from Sunday 5th to Friday 10th August, 2001.
INTERNATIONAL CALL-UP FOR YOUNG 'KEEPERS
Two Perth-born teenagers are leaving their mark between the posts in the UK. 18-year old Clint Davies has been a regular feature of Birmingham City's Under-19 team this season as well as making several appearances for the reserves. Davies, who qualifies to play for all the 'home' nations along with Australia, was recently named in the Northern Ireland Under-18 squad that will play a series of friendlies in Austria this May. The teenager has also been included in his clubs Uner-19 side that will compete in the Tournoi de Crox in France early in June when he hopes to catch up with friends and former teammates in the W.A. team taking part in the tournament.
The season is fast coming to an end for 19-year old Middlesbrough goalkeeper Brad Jones. In recent weeks Jones has featured in the Under-19's 1-1 draw with Aston Villa and the 3-2 win over Manchester United a few days later. On Tuesday (1st May) the West Australian was singled out by the clubs' reserves' coach David Geddis after an impressive performance against Manchester United. "We had a lot of 19 and 20-year-olds in the team and I was very encouraged by their contribution. Paul Stephenson, Liam Smith and Brad Jones in particular were excellent," Geddis said post-match. In the running for a spot in the reserves side which takes on Liverpool at Anfield this the weekend, Jones recently received an invitation to represent the Australia at Under-20 level at May's international youth tournament in Japan.
ECU Joondalup teenager Andre Sarpe is back in Perth after spending time on trial with English Premier League outfit Southampton. Although no offer has been forthcoming to date, Sarpe also managed to catch the eye of Arsenal's Liam Brady who was said to be very impressed with the youngster.
RECORD INTEREST FROM SCHOOLS
A record number of 165 schools have nominated for this year's high school soccer competition, an increase of 20% on last years figures. Secretary of soccer for School Sport WA, Peter Rickers attributed a good part of the rise in numbers to NSL outfit Perth Glory. "Part of soccer's growth comes from the success of Perth Glory," Rickers told Steven Tuohey of the "West Australian" this week. "However, it can also be attributed to kids looking for alternative sports - especially girls, who can enjoy the relatively contact-free nature of the sport."
Rickers pointed out that the tournament was all about providing children with the opportunity to play soccer outside the often highly competitive environment of structured club soccer. "Our main objective is just to keep kids playing the game," he said. "Numbers tend to drop off around the teen years and the competition gives them a chance to play with their mates in a cost and pressure-free environment."
The interschool competition kicked-off on Monday with four age-groups taking part - senior boys and girls for Years 10 through to 12, and junior boys and girls for those in Years 8 and 9. Schools have been divided into geographical divisions of six and play a round robin competition during the current term. The top two teams from each division qualify for the knockout rounds which gets underway in term three, the finals being held at Dorrien Gardens on Tuesday 18th September.
The schools soccer competition was first held in 1976 when Morley SHS took out the inaugural trophy which was contested only by senior boys teams. CBC Highgate were the most successful side in the early years of competition when they recorded a hat-trick of wins starting in 1979, while in more recent times John Curtin College have dominated with six wins in a row stemming from 1994 though to 1999. Some of the players which have played for their school in the competition include national representatives Stan Lazaridis and Robbie Dunn, and current Marconi Stallions star James Afkos.
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This page was last updated on the 30th June, 2001