NEWCASTLE'S CARLE WINS TOP A-LEAGUE AWARD
Newcastle Jets midfielder Nick Carle has taken out the prestigious Johnny Warren Medal at this evenings 2007 A-League Awards Night in Sydney. Carle received 284 votes from his playing peers to finish comfortably ahead of Melbourne Victory trio Daniel Allsopp (258 votes), Kevin Muscat (235) and Archie Thompson (200). Perth Glory striker Stuart Young was fifth with 94 votes.
The Johnny Warren Medal was Carle's second honour of the evening having earlier picked up the Goal of the Year award for his match winning, solo effort against Adelaide United in Round Ten. Victory picked up three awards with Daniel Allsopp collecting the Golden Boot, Adrian Leijer taking out the Rising Star Award, and Ernie Merrick named Coach of the Year.
For the second time in as many years Perth Glory received the Fair Play Award for accruing the least number of yellow and red cards during the home and away series. Interestingly, the three 'fairest' teams - Glory, Central Coast Mariners and Queensland Roar - failed to make the finals. Mark Shield, who officiated at last years World Cup finals tournament in Germany, was named the Referee of the Year, also for the second successive time.
NEW BOARD MEMBERS ELECTED
Jodii Maguire, Luke Martin and Robert Mackay have been voted on to the Board of Football West at this evenings Annual General Meeting at Dorrien Gardens. The trio will provide guidance in developing strategic programs and initiatives to fuel the growth of football within the state during their four-year terms.
"Having a diversity of people who have senior business and management skills, knowledge of the sport, together with strong networking capability, makes for an effective Board and I am delighted that this has been achieved following tonight's election," said chairman Kevin Campbell on the new appointments.
Maguire is human resource manager for the law firm Freehills and a qualified Sports Psychologist. Martin is operations manager for Ausco Building, while Mackay works for Telstra in marketing of sales and solutions to large corporate customers and industry segments. They join Campbell and directors Steve Coppack and Paul Kelly on the Board of the state governing body.
JONES, VIDUKA STAR AS BORO MOVE INTO LAST EIGHT
Australia's Brad Jones and Mark Viduka have lifted Middlesbrough into an FA Cup quarter-final showdown with Manchester United following this evenings thrilling victory over West Bromwich Albion. Jones pulled off three sensational saves in the opening quarter hour to keep the teams on level terms, while Viduka's eighth goal in ten games sent the match into a penalty shoot-out from which Boro emerged triumphant 5-4.
Jones was in the thick of the early action by denying Paul McShane, Nathan Ellington and Zoltan Gera before Darren Carter's long-range strike found the net on 26 minutes. It was only after the break that Boro began to press and on 63 minutes Viduka brought the teams level at close-range. Although Boro dominated after this they were unable to conjure up a winner and after 120 minutes the game went to penalties. Jones' ice cool demeanour in the shoot-out resulted in West Bromwich twice firing over the crossbar, much to the delight of the Boro faithful.
TARKA SHARES TOP AWARD WITH COLOSIMO
Perth Glory defender David Tarka and midfielder Simon Colosimo were crowned joint winners of the club's Most Glorious Player award on Friday evening. In what became a thrilling vote count, Tarka polled three votes and Colosimo one for the final game of the season to leave the pair tied on 20 votes each. It is only the second time the prestigious award had been shared, the other occasion being 1999 when defenders Danny Hay and Scott Miller were joint winners.
The night belonged to Tarka who capped a brilliant season by also taking out the Young Player, awarded to the clubs most outstanding under-23 player, and Players' Player of the Year. "I remember coming to games as a kid and watching some of those players who are on this MGP trophy and wishing one day I'd be alongside them on there too," Tarka said. "This is a great club, I love playing here, and I can't wait to get back onto the pitch next season. We'll be doing everything we can to take the Glory back to the very top of Australian football."
2006/07 marked a return to form for Tarka whose career had been stalled after a series of hamstring problems. "I've enjoyed being back out there,'' he commented. "To play twenty games after having a couple of years out really means a lot and to win these awards really caps off a fantastic year for myself. At times I thought my body might not be able to hold up to the physical standard of the A-League. But I always knew if I put my head down and got back out there I had a lot to prove, and I guess that became my burning ambition.''
Throughout the 2006/07 season Colosimo showed why he is considered one of the country's premier midfielders as he directed traffic and distributed the ball to perfection in the centre of the pitch. The 28-year old, currently in Turkey on a four month loan spell with Sivasspor, also collected the Best Clubman award. "Perth Glory has a long and proud tradition and I'm honoured to have secured a small place in this wonderful club's history by being presented the MGP award," Colosimo said. "I'm looking forward to coming home and having a successful season with Perth Glory in 2007/08."
New Zealand international Leo Bertos finished runner-up Most Glorious Player with 14 votes, just ahead of defender Ante Kovacevic (13). Goalkeeper Tommi Tomich (11) and Jamie Harnwell (10) were close behind. Glory also bid farewell to recently retired Bobby Despotovski and handed the Golden Boot Award - named in his honour - to Harnwell. The team captain said the award was further motivation to push for A-League finals next year. Harnwell was also crowned the Supporters' Player of the Year.
PREMIER LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES, WEEKEND FIVE
E.C.U. Joondalup's ability to convert chances into goals earned them maximum points by 4-1 over Fremantle Spirit on Friday evening at the Joondalup campus of Edith Cowan University. The ball had been in motion only two minutes when some fine lead up work down the left allowed Mark Lee to deliver a near post cross which Ian McMurray headed in. Play may have flowed from end to end following Joondalup's early breakthrough but shots on goal were limited to long-range. With half an hour gone Fremantle struck back through on the counterattack as Cisco Jorquiera transferred possession to Ben Kelly who sent in a terrific cross for Roberto Colalillo to clip over the advancing goalkeeper. Fremantle were exploiting their pace going forward and the port side should have taken the lead through Tyrone Fenwick who rounded Andy Petterson only to hurry his shot wide of the target. Joondalup reclaimed the advantage just before the break when Lee sent a free-kick to the near post and Anthony Jones made the most of hesitant defending to nod past teenager Brad Parfitt. The new half began with Fremantle eager to restore parity and Colalillo volleying into the underside of the crossbar and ricochet to safety. An efficient exchange down the left saw Lee played a diagonal cross into the area which McMurray brought down into the path of Jamie Gibb who sent the 'keeper the wrong way to increase the hosts lead. The sealer came shortly after through a fine move involving Jones, Lee and Martin Ashworth whose cross was volleyed in McMurray at the near post.
David Dugdale's strike fifteen minutes from full-time earned Stirling Lions a hard fought 2-1 victory over Wanneroo City at Alfred Skeet Oval. Much of the early pressure came from Wanneroo with Derek Cooke and Ahmed Hafez both thwarted by Phil Straker. Although slow to get into gear, Stirling went ahead on 8 minutes via a swift counter-attacking move in which Keith Brown powerfully headed past Kevin Miller from Ludovic Boi's delivery. Stirling stepped up a gear and Boi's first time strike was saved by Miller who, later in the half, came up trumps by tipping away Daniel Micevski's curling effort. Just before the break Wanneroo were unlucky not to level through Houston whose snap on goal cannoned back off the base of the post. Wanneroo began the second period in full flight and within two minutes were rewarded when Hafez' cross from the right was headed in Morgan Dendle. In a tight second half Stuart Hartman, Cooke and Houston went close to giving Wanneroo the lead, while going the other way it was Micevski, Okwy Diamondstar and Boi that threatened. The deciding goal came on 75 minutes when Dugdale was allowed space inside the area to fire in at close-range. There was still plenty of fire left in Wanneroo but, after beating to defenders, Hafez shot weakly at Straker. As Wanneroo chased the game holes began to appear in their defence and a stunning double save from Miller in which he kept out shot from Diamondstar and substitute Tom Jones prevented any addition to the scoreline.
Liberian born striker Boima Karpeh led Floreat Athena to a resounding 5-0 victory over Inglewood United at Litis Stadium on Sunday. Karpeh produced a stellar display, scoring twice and causing no end of problems for the Inglewood backline. Despite Inglewood's early enterprise, Floreat gained the upper hand on 22 minutes when Stefan Smiljanic rose to head in at close-range from a Karpeh cross. From that point on Floreat didn't look back and dominated the remainder of the contest. Eleven minutes after going in front, a fine through ball from James Isaia found Karpeh who skipped past two defenders before calmly slotting past goalkeeper Oliver Taseski. Within two minutes a neat flick by Smiljanic sent Karpeh on an inspiring run into the penalty box where he again the Inglewood defence chasing shadows before drilling in goal number three. With half-time approaching the margin was further increased when Miki Vujacic's free-kick into the area produced a goalmouth scramble which ended with Paul Vatistas stabbing into the net. The second half began slowly before, with 59 minutes gone, Vatistas iced the cake with a simple tap-in after Isaia cleverly flicked on a cross by Miki Vujacic. Kareph was denied what would have been a deserved hat-trick not long after by an incredible reflex save from Taseski. With the result in the bag, Floreat appeared content with the five goal margin and their third successive clean sheet.
Western Knights cruised to a 3-0 victory over Swan I.C when they met at the Edith Cowan University campus in Joondalup. Swan made a positive started with Anthony McStea's cross headed goalward by Aaron Cole only to have Ante Ramic make the save. But once the Knights settled there was no stopping them and on 10 minutes they had the lead through a Luka Jukic free-kick which Daniel Trim blasted in at close-range after the Swan defence was caught in disarray. Almost immediately Swan hit back with Danyal Bennett cutting in from the right before unleashing a low shot which Ramic tipped away at full stretch. The Knights doubled their lead on 21 minutes as Andrija Jukic fed the overlapping Paul Cooke down the right and his cross was deflected into the net by an unfortunate Bennett. Swan continued to push forward looking to get back into the game and David Foster's bullet-like header was brilliantly turned away by Ramic. Going the other way, Daniel Agudelo was alert in coming off his line to thwart Trim after he was sent clear. The game was made safe in the opening minute of the second half when McStea brought Andrija Jukic down inside the 18-yard box, Troy Miller-Hayes pointed to the spot from where Stuart Montgomery sent Agudelo the wrong way. It wasn't through a want of trying that there was no further addition to the scoreline with Montgomery and Trim going close for the Knights while Swans best chances came the way of Foster and David Perich.
FIRST DIVISION/AMATEUR NIGHT SERIES, WEEKEND FIVE
Queens Park picked up their first point of the pre-season competition by holding Murdoch University to a 2-2 draw at Alfred Skeet Oval on Friday evening. Dwayne Martens and Ben Dean found the net for Queens Park with Murdoch's goals coming from S.Gojic and N.McClure. Rockingham City and Queens Park Reserves kept themselves in contention for the semi-finals by playing out a 2-2 draw at the Joondalup campus of Edith Cowan University. Rockingham's goals came via M.O'Brien and A.Keary with S.Reinsma and R.Simpson scoring for Queens Park Reserves.
Morley Windmills went to the top of Group A despite being held 1-1 by Stirling Panthers when they met on Sunday at Litis Stadium. Scott McIlroy put Morley ahead early in the second half only for E.Cross to equalise with eleven minutes remaining. Balcatta kept their hopes of making the last four alive with a slim 1-0 defeat of Kingsway Olympic at Edith Cowan University in Joondalup. The only goal of the game arrived in the 90th minute through T.Wright. Further details of these game were not forthcoming from any of the eight participating clubs.
MATILDAS QUALIFY FOR SECOND ROUND
Australia are through to the second stage of qualifiers for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The Matildas made a clean sweep of this weeks' preliminary qualifying group with wins over Myanmar, Uzbekistan and host nation Chinese Taipei. The second and final stage of qualification commences in April with Australia grouped alongside DPR Korea, Chinese Taipei and either Korea Republic, India or Hong Kong. Midfielder Collette McCallum was West Australia's sole participant in the four-team series.
The Matildas commenced the qualifying campaign with a solid 2-0 over Myanmar on Wednesday. Myanmar were under the hammer for the entire 90 minutes and it was only by defending in numbers that they prevented the scoreline from being greater. The deadlock broken after nine minutes by Walsh, who secured victory by putting also netting ten minutes into a second half. McCallum played a full game in midfield.
A spot in the second round of qualifiers was secured with a 10-0 demolition of Uzbekistan on Friday. The Matildas opened up a five goal buffer with 25 minutes before adding a further five goals in the second half. The goals were shared amongst nine different goalscorers with McCallum, who came off the bench on 59 minutes, leading the way with a double. Also finding the target were Gill, Thea Slatyer, Lauren Colthorpe, Danielle Small, Walsh, Garriock, Rhian Davies and Lana Harch.
Australia celebrated Joanne Peters' one hundredth senior international appearance by smashing Chinese Taipei 8-1 in the final game of the series. Peters marked the occasion with a second half goal, while Gill will long remember the night courtesy of an astonishing five-goal haul. Walsh found the net for a fourth goal in the three games while also on the scoresheet was substitute Danielle Small. McCallum played a full game.
The twenty player Australia squad for the qualifying series was Di Alagich, Melissa Barbieri, Joanne Burgess, Lauren Colthorpe, Rhian Davies, Heather Garriock, Kate Gill, Lana Harch, Collette McCallum, Sasha McDonnell, Kate McShea, Caitlin Munoz, Joanne Peters, Clare Polkinghorne, Karla Reuter, Cheryl Salisbury, Thea Slatyer, Danielle Small, Sarah Walsh and Emma Wirkus.
TRIO FOCUSED ON REVIVING GLORY
A trio of West Australian businessmen will inject $3.5 million into Perth Glory over the next three years in a bid to revitalise the A-League club. Mining entrepreneur Tony Sage, property developer John Spence and financial services director Brett McKeon were yesterday unveiled as an ownership dream team that is expected to be augmented in the not too distance future by former Liverpool midfielder Craig Johnston.
The new owners, who take over Glory's A-League licence at the end of next month, have flagged the possibility of moving matches to either the WACA Ground or Subiaco Oval, but are conscious of supporter concerns about leaving the club's traditional base at Members Equity Stadium. "We are not going to commit to the WACA, to Subi or to Members Equity until all options are on the table and we have an exact comparison of costs," commented Sage.
Yesterday's announcement brought some rare positive news for Glory who have struggled to retain their status as a national soccer leader since the birth of the A-League two seasons ago. The new ownership team immediately backed coach Ron Smith and vowed to spend the money needed to restore the club to its former glory. McKeon said the club would make use of the A-League's marquee and guest player provisions to make high-calibre, overseas additions to the squad. "We need to spend what the other clubs are spending otherwise we won't be able to compete," he said.
Sage confirmed Johnston, who played over 250 games for English clubs Liverpool and Middlesbrough, was in the running to add his football expertise to the board and explained that Spence, who did not attend yesterday's announcement due to commitments in Asia, would speak with Johnston to finalise the move. "It's a necessity to have someone on the board who has technical experience in football," Sage said. "I'm 90 per cent sure it will be Craig."
Rumours that Sage was spearheading a push to take over Glory began circulating last August. But negotiations with Football Federation Australia had taken longer than expected and there had been a real possibility that the takeover would collapse. "It went right to the wire," Sage said. "John was wavering at the end because it had taken so long for FFA to verify some things in relation to the stadium."
It is believed former Crystal Palace midfielder Anthony Danze, goalkeeper Tando Velaphi and defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley have been offered contracts for next season. Naum Sekulovski, who is recovering after shoulder surgery, has been offered a new deal, while young striker Nikita Rukavytsya and former Perth S.C. defender Dino Djulbic are also in the frame to be part of the Glory revolution.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
It's another blockbuster weekend of Night Series action. Round Five kicks off with Stirling Lions seeking a third successive win when they meet Wanneroo City (8.30pm) on Friday evening at Alfred Skeet Oval where Queens Park and Murdoch University (6.30pm) open proceedings. Fremantle Spirit travel north to the Joondalup campus of Edith Cowan University where E.C.U. Joondalup (8.30pm) have home ground advantage. Rockingham City meet Queens Park Reserves (6.30pm) in the curtain raiser.
On Sunday, Bobby Despotovski's Inglewood United take on inner city rival Floreat Athena (7.30pm) in a vital Group B clash at Litis Stadium. Morley Windmills meet Stirling Panthers (5.30pm) in the early game. Swan I.C. go in search of their first point of the tournament when they meet Western Knights (7.30pm) at Edith Cowan University in Joondalup where the action gets under way with Olympic Kingsway up against Balcatta (5.30pm). Admission is $6 adults, $4 concessions and under 15's are admitted free - so get along and support you team!
GLORY ANNOOUNCE NEW OWNERS
Perth Glory have solved their long-time ownership issues with three local businessmen announced as the A-League club's new owners. Mining entrepreneur Tony Sage heads the new ownership team which includes leading financial services director Brett McKeon and property developer John Spence. The trio officially take charge of Glory from Monday 2nd April with each holding an equal one third share in the club.
The new owners are ardent football fans and have made it a priority to revive the club's fortunes following their worst season in a previously glorious history. Glory had been a powerhouse in the old National Soccer League, winning two Grand Finals, but has failed to qualify for the A-League finals series in two seasons. "We want to get the Glory back to where it was in its proud history about four or five years ago, that's our commitment," Sage said.
"We are excited by the opportunity to play a part in making the Glory into one of the leading football teams in Australasia," Sage continued. "This club has a proud history, quality players, experienced coaching staff, and a loyal supporter base. We feel that in a short time Perth Glory can again be challenging for the Hyundai A-League Championship and a place in the Asian Champions League."
Another area the new owners are keen to work on is re-engaging WA sports fans, and in particular the local football community, with Glory. "Each of us in the partnership is competitive by nature and that's the attitude we will bring to the club. West Australian's are passionate about their sport and by providing exciting and competitive matches we are confident we can see the support grow," commented McKeon.
Coaches Ron Smith and David Mitchell have updated the new ownership team as to recruitment plans for the 2007/08 season. "Ron has discussed the playing list with us and highlighted potential recruits. We are genuinely excited about the quality of the players he is targeting," said McKeon. "We are well on the way to securing the services of some outstanding footballers and expect to be in a position to be able to announce signings in the near future."
HASSELL RINGS IN THE CHANGES
The appointment of new coach Brad Hassell has been the catalyst for much change at Morley Windmills. Hassell, a former national league player with Perth Glory and Adelaide City, relocated to Wotton Reserve late last year shortly after helping Sorrento capture the Premier League title. And in the intervening months he's been hard at work assembling a squad capable to challenging for top honours in this years First Division competition.
Hassell admits there's been plenty of movement at Morley over the summer. "Half the players have stayed on and the other half have come in fresh which is probably what the team needed," he said. "I've got the feeling by speaking to a few people at the club that we needed a few new, fresh faces." Amongst those who have joined Morley for the coming year are Alan Nanini, Joe Woodin, Farrell Hedges and Peter Noiszewski. On the flip side the club goes into 2007 without goalscoring machine Ray Rose and the creative drive of Adrian McBride.
Having player under a number of coaches, Hassell hopes first and foremost that his players will enjoy their game under his tutelage. "I've taken on board a few things I learnt from Mich d'Avray but I think I'm a new coach that's got some new ideas," Hassell explained. "I'm not one of the old style coaches who doesn't use the ball at training and makes the players do laps. I think coaches need to be on the ball all the time and see that the players are fresh and enjoy their football."
Last season Hassell featured prominently in Sorrento's championship 2006 winning side before bringing the curtain down on a distinguished career. "I'd been with Sorrento for three years, they're a fantastic club and looked after me. I knew it was going to be my last season so to win the League was a great note to go out on," he said. "It's a big challenge to move into coaching but that's why I gave up the game - I wanted to coach and I'm really looking forward to it."
Hassell's career began with South Australian club Croyden for whom he gained Australian Schoolboys honours. The versatile midfielder stepped up to national league ranks with Adelaide and tasted success in his first season by helping the Zebra's win the 1993/94 Grand Final. A member of Australia's 1996 Olympic Games qualifying squad, Hassell fell out with the Adelaide hierarchy after 213 games. He headed west and in three seasons with Glory played 70 times including their back-to-back Grand Final wins of 2002/03 and 2003/04.
LEAGUE SEASON GIVEN SHAPE
Governing body Football West have unveiled the much awaited fixtures for season 2007 of State league football. The twelve team top flight commences on Saturday 14th April and, after twenty-two rounds of home and away competition, concludes with the crowning of Premier league champions on Saturday 29th September. Running concurrently, a dozen First Division clubs will be slugging it out to gain promotion to the top flight for season 2008.
Amongst the early season highlights are Fremantle Spirit's return to the top flight away at E.C.U. Joondalup on the day one of competition. Round Three has Perth S.C. hosting traditional rival Swan I.C., and the following weekend Armadale have home ground advantage over Wanneroo City. Reigning champion Sorrento make the trip to Macedonia Park for a Round Five showdown with Cup holder Stirling Lions. A fortnight later Fremantle Spirit are at home to neighbouring Cockburn City.
The First Division open with a crackerjack match at Burrendah Reserve between Canning City and Morley Windmills. Neutrals would be wise to pencil into their diaries Balcatta against Mandurah City in Round Four. The following weekend Ashfield are home to Balcatta, and another seven days elapse before Mandurah face Canning at Peelwood Parade. The complete list of fixtures for the 2007 Premier League and First Division seasons are available from the Football West website.
AUSTRALIA TAKE THIRD IN HONG KONG
Australia have concluded their preparations for next week's Olympic Games qualifier with Iran by finishing third in the Lunar New Year Cup in Hong Kong. The national under-23 side started the four-team friendly tournament with a 0-2 loss to China on Sunday. Three days later Perth S.C. goalkeeper Tando Velaphi emerged heroically by saving two penalties in the 5-3 shoot-out win over a Hong Kong Select XI. The four-team friendly tournament was won by Jamaica Under-23s who defeated China 5-4 on penalties.
A severely depleted Under-23 side lost 0-2 to China in the opening match of the tournament. The Chinese opened the scoring after 7 minutes courtesy of an own goal from Robert Cornthwaite who deflected a cross into his own net from close range. Australia's best opportunity came mid-way through the half with Nikolai Topor-Stanley's fiercely struck free-kick forcing a great save from the Chinese goalkeeper. A near full-strength China had the best of the second half and wrapped up the game three minutes from full-time through a superb long-range shot by Jiang Ning. Velaphi was an unused substitute.
Australia out-shot a Hong Kong Select XI from the penalty spot overnight to take third place. Nathan Burns put Australia ahead by netting after the goalkeeper failed to hold a Mark Bridge shot on 37 minutes. The match opened up after the break with chances for both teams before Bruce Djite doubled Australia's advantage mid-way through the second half. Festus Baise powering home an uncontested header in the 72nd minute to bring Hong Kong back into the game, then nine minutes from the end Keith Gumbs equalised from the spot. Bridge, Topor-Stanley, Kristian Sarkies, Stephen O'Dor and Dario Vidosic all converted their penalties to earn Australia a 5-3 win.
WARD NETS SEAGULLS' WINNER
Nick Ward's move to Brighton and Hove Albion has brought near instant rewards for both parties. In just his third appearance for the Seagulls, Ward, on loan from Queens Park Rangers, put away the deciding goal in Saturday's 2-1 defeat of Nottingham Forest. Brighton's first home win in ten weeks came about through second half goals in quick succession from Dean Hammond and Ward which cancelled out Jack Lester's earlier strike for Forest, who had Nathan Tyson sent off with the game scoreless.
Ward made his Brighton debut on the left wing against Brentford last weekend before taking up an attacking midfield role behind the front two in recent outings with Leyton Orient and Forest. "That's the role I prefer. Against Brentford I was out on the right and I'm not really comfortable as a winger," said Ward. "It always takes a little while to learn other people's games but I think it will work well with the two boys up front eventually. I'm starting to get to know the rest of the team already and it has only been three games."
PREMIER LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES, WEEKEND FOUR (Cockburn City vs Fremantle Spirit by Blake Kagi; Sorrento vs Wanneroo City by Kerry Slater)
Perth S.C. continued their good form with an amazing 5-3 victory over Swan I.C. at Litis Stadium on Friday evening. In a remarkable first half, referee Hugh Best awarded five penalties, all which were converted. The ball had been in motion only 4 minutes when Robbie Puca converted from the spot after being up-ended inside the area by Aaron Cole. The margin was doubled five minutes later as Puca was this time brought down by Tony Cumace and again the Perth midfielder made no mistake in slotting past goalkeeper Daniel Agudelo. Although stunned, Swan fought their way back onto level terms with Cumace netting twice from the spot, the first after David Foster was infringed upon by Michael Icanovski, and again on the half hour for a foul on Paul Baczynski. Three minutes from the break Cole was ruled to have impeded Andres Oliveira inside the area and once again it was Puca converted. There was still time for Perth to go forward once more as Todd Howarth's pass sent Puca clear to calmly beat Agudelo for his fourth of the night. Nitita Rukavytsya spurned a couple of good opportunities to increase Perth's tally after the break, while down the other end Tom Shepheard had a goal disallowed for a foul on Deeg. The game was made safe by Oliveira who showed great composure and skill in beating three opponents before firing in. However, the best was still to come and on 83 minutes Catalano cut in from the left to thunder an unstoppable long-range shot past Deeg.
Scott Miller gained his first competitive win as coach of Cockburn City when they downed Fremantle Spirit 1-0 at Alfred Skeet Oval on Friday. Fremantle made a positive start and pressed forward at every opportunity but were unable to trouble goalkeeper Louis Lopresti thanks to a well-drilled Cockburn rear guard. Although slow to get into gear, Cockburn went ahead shortly before the interval as Josh Kamasz threaded a pass to Giovanni De Bartolo who was fouled inside the area by Tom Straker, and from the spot Johnny Mirco fired into the bottom corner to give Steve Grant no chance. Fremantle were thrown a late lifeline when injury forced Kanasz from the field, and having used their three allotted substitutes, Cockburn ended the game with ten men. Not surprisingly, the final fifteen minutes was pretty much one way traffic as Fremantle sought to equalise with their best chance coming the way of substitute Tyrone Fenwick who fired narrowly past the post after some loose marking inside the box. "In the first half Fremantle kept the ball well, but then we started getting on top of them and creating a lot of chances," said Miller post-match. "Unfortunately in the pre-season a few of the boys are underdone so we tried to give them some time but it backfired on us with a player getting injured so we had to play the second half with ten men. But it was a good test for them and I was happy they got a win with ten men because they pushed on well towards the end."
A late strike from Adam Bachiller earned Floreat Athena a hard fought 1-0 win over Armadale in Sunday's clash at Litis Stadium. Athena started at full pace with Boima Karpeh testing goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock with a fine strike from distance, and minutes later Miki Vujacic crashed the ball into the base of the upright at close-range. Armadale's first opening arrived on the half hour when Darryl Platten surged down the right before delivering a cross to Ben Howe whose shot was smartly saved by Vas Vujacic. By far the more creative play was coming from Floreat but they could find few ways to unlock a defence marshalled by Platten and Craig Anderson, and underpinned by Sharrock. The second period began much like the first with Athena doing all the attacking and good chances to break the deadlock falling to Karpeh, Miki Vujacic and James Isaia. The pressure finally paid off with 73 minutes gone Bachiller fired past Sharrock at the back post from an Isaia corner. Armadale looked to be dead and buried ten minutes later when Peter Lord was dismissed for a second yellow card, however, the Reds had nothing to lose and threw caution to the wind. With two minutes remaining a surging run from the back by Anderson was tucked into the net by substitute Richard Lacey, but in a tight call the effort was ruled out by the assistant referee who cited offside. The controversy didn't end there and Platten, who had earlier been taken off, was red carded for arguing the decision.
Wanneroo City were given a lesson to remember as Sorrento took out their meeting at Edith Cowan University in Joondalup by 5-1. The star of the show as Sorrento's Glen Thomas who, having scored two outstanding first half goals, was denied his hat-trick by goalkeeper Kevin Miller. Early chances were far and few between as both camps cautiously eased themselves into the game. But that changed on 26 minutes when Thomas sublimely chested down a bouncing ball inside the area before hooking it back across his shoulder and into the far corner. The margin became two goals a minutes from the break as Todd Harnwell chipped to the far post where Thomas, diving at full stretch, headed in at the near post. All the running after half-time came from Wanneroo and good chances came the way of Houston and Ahmed Hafez. They were rewarded on 62 minutes when Steve McDonald impeded Houston inside the 18-yard box, and from the spot Houston sent Young the wrong way. Three minutes later Sorrento gained a penalty of their own after Harnwell was brought down by Miller, Thomas stepped up but the Wanneroo 'keeper turned away his spot kick. Sorrento had more in the tank heading into the closing stages and with nine minutes to play an unmarked Steve McDonald guided into the net a cross by substitute David Wimbridge. Three minutes later Wimbridge headed in at close-range from Lewis Flatt's delivery. And any remaining hope Wanneroo had was extinguished shortly after as Guy McDonald unleashed a belter from 22-metres that flew into the top corner.
FIRST DIVISION/AMATEUR NIGHT SERIES, WEEKEND FOUR
Olympic Kingsway edged past Ashfield Reserves by 2-1 at Litis Stadium on Friday evening. Brian Hedges and J.Wright found the net for Kingsway with Ashfield's goals coming from Bobby Golub. At Alfred Skeet Oval, Gosnells City scored a comfortable 3-0 win against Stirling Panthers. Darren Francis put Gosnells ahead in the 19th minute, Brian Cairney doubled their lead midway through the half before the icing was put on the cake by Enda Condon on 59 minutes.
Morley Windmills scored twice in in the final quarter hour to account for Bayswater City 3-1 at Litis Stadium on Sunday. Damien Todorovic netted twice and Peter Noiszewski once for Morley while Bayswaters' response came from Sal Marapodi. Ashfield and Balcatta shared the points at 1-1 in a dramatic match at the Joondalup campus of Edith Cowan University. Anthony Toutountzis put Balcatta ahead two minutes from the end which was just long enough for Igor Novakovic to bring the sides level.
FIVE STAR THOMPSON EARNS MELBOURNE VICTORY
A stunning five-goal haul by Archie Thompson has secured Melbourne Victory the 2006/07 A-League title. Victory rarely looked troubled as they romped to a 6-0 win over Adelaide United in front of a Telstra Dome record crowd of 55,436. Thompson, part of Australia's 2006 World Cup squad, stole the show with a remarkable performance before Kristian Sarkies put the icing on the cake in stoppage time. "I don't think you could get much better than this," Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick said. "It was a night for great football and great goals and the boys just performed, and had threatened to perform like that all year. And they picked the right night to do it."
The opening goal arrived on 21 minutes when Brazilian import Fred dinked a clever pass for Thompson to poke past Daniel Beltrame and into the net off the post. With the home side doing all the attacking, it took only another six minutes before the margin was increased as Danny Allsopp fed the ball to Fred whose superb cross into the area was put away by Thompson at close-range. Adelaide's uphill battle took a turn for the worse on 25 minutes when captain Ross Aloisi was sent off for a second yellow card following a reckless challenge on Grant Brebner. Just five minutes later Kevin Muscat cut open the defence to find an unmarked Thompson who strolled into the 18-yard box to complete his hat-trick.
There was a hint of off-side on 56 minutes when Fred released Thompson to go one-on-one with the 'keeper and calmly knock in Victory's fourth of the afternoon. Michael Theoklitos was beaten by Nathan Burns shortly after but his close-range strike was disallowed by a controversial offside call, then substitute Bruce Djite forced a fine reflex save from Theoklitos as Adelaide strived to get back in the game. But normal service resumed on 73 minutes when Fred broke clear on the left to deliver the ball for Thompson to slam his fifth into the net. Minutes after coming off the bench Sarkies completed a superb run to the edge of the box with an exquisite finish into the far top corner.
GLORY EYE VAN HOODIJDONK
Former Dutch international Pierre van Hooijdonk is being lined-up for a seven game guest stint with Perth Glory next season. Van Hooijdonk, who plays for Dutch giant Feyenoord, made 46 appearances for the Netherlands in a career which has included spells with Glasgow Celtic, Nottingham Forest and Benfica. "We've been looking at him for a while and he's still on the radar," said Glory assistant coach Dave Mitchell. "He's a bit of a name player and he's played at some big clubs. And he's still with Feyenoord so he's playing at the top level." Last season, Glory failed in their bid to bring in a guest player when attempts to lure former Italian star Gianfranco Zola and ex-Scotland international Duncan Ferguson for four-game spells were fruitless.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
The Night Series continues this weekend with week four of the pre-season tournament. The round gets under way on Friday evening at Litis Stadium when trophy holder Perth S.C. square off with traditional rival Swan I.C. (8.30pm), and Ashfield Reserves meet Olympic Kingsway (6.30pm). Meanwhile, at Alfred Skeet Oval, Cockburn City battle it out with local rival Fremantle Spirit (8.30pm), while Gosnells City take on Stirling Panthers (6.30pm).
Its back to Litis Stadium on Sunday when Group A’s two unbeaten side, Floreat Athena and Armadale, go head to head from 7.30pm. This will be preceded by a meeting of Morley Windmills and neighbouring Bayswater City (5.30pm). At the Joondalup campus of Edith Cowan University, Wanneroo City go in search of their first points of the tournament when they meet Sorrento (7.30pm), and in a key Group C clash Balcatta play Ashfield (5.30pm). Admission is $6 adults, $4 concessions and under 15’s are admitted free - so get along and support you team!
FOOTBALLERS TO HIT THE CATWALK (courtesy Football West)
Perth’s premier footballers will be hitting the catwalk at the Onyx Bar in West Perth to launch Football West’s 2007 home and away season on Wednesday 28th March. Players from the State League, First Division, Amateur Premier and Women’s Premier division will be joined on stage by some of Perth’s finest models, dancers and special guests at what promises to be an exciting and memorable evening.
“This inaugural event will help to promote our game and also bring together the WA football community as we launch what promises to be an exciting 2007 season,” said Garry Chandler, chief executive of Football West. “It would be fantastic to see club officials and supporters of our game at the event in support of our beautiful game.”
The launch event will compliment a full schedule of football activity in March with the final of the McInerney Ford sponsored Night Series and the inaugural Football West Shield tournament to be staged on the last weekend of the month. “Football is entering a new era and events like this provide our sport with a tremendous opportunity to promote and fuel the growth of our sport within the state,” said Football West chairman Kevin Campbell.
To reserve your seat at what promises to be one of the most talked about events on the Perth football calendar, contact Football West on 9422 6900 or email@example.com. Entry is free, but tickets are limited!
VRTESKI BACK IN THE GAME
E.C.U. Joondalup have strengthened their playing stocks for the coming season with the recruitment of Australian youth international goalkeeper Aleks Vrteski. Fresh from his debut season of national league football with Perth Glory, the 18-year old marked his return to the local scene with stand out Night Series performances against Floreat Athena and Inglewood United in the past fortnight.
When Joondalup coach Willie McNally came calling at the beginning of the month Vrteski didn’t need a second invitation to join the club. “Willie has already helped me so much in my career, as a coach and mentor, so I’m pleased to be given the opportunity to return the favour,” he explained. “Willie called and asked me to join them as the Joondalup ‘keeper hadn’t been to training for over a week. Glory agreed to a loan deal and a few days later I was playing against Floreat.”
It’s with great fondness that 18-year old Vrteski looks back on his introductory season of A-League football. “If you’d have said to me at the start of the season I’d play ten games for Glory I would have laughed in your face,” he commented. “When I joined the club I was happy enough to be there and to be given the opportunity to learn from the likes of Jason Petkovic and Tony Franken. But, like any footballer, once you get a taste the only thing you want is more. I was happy with how I played in those games for Glory and at the end of the day you can’t really ask for more than that.”
Vrteski is looking forward to the prospect of getting some regular game time under his belt before contemplating the next step in his career. “For me, the next few months is all about playing and enjoying my football,” said Vrteski. “I saw very little game time at the end of the A-League season and I need to be playing. I’ve really enjoyed my time with Glory and I’d like to stay at the club, but at the same time if a club from overseas comes knocking on the door then it could well be time for me to head abroad.”
CACERES READY FOR BIG STAGE
Adrian Caceres is on the cusp of becoming the first West Australian to play in, and possibly win, and A-League grand final. The 25-year old is expected to take his place in the Melbourne Victory side that meets Adelaide United in the decider of the 2006/07 season on Sunday at the Telstra Dome. And a Grand Final winners medal would be the perfect way for Caceres to finish off a memorable debut season with the Melbourne club.
When Caceres joined Victory last April his football career was very much at the crossroads. The exciting attacker played three seasons with Perth Glory but, given scant opportunity to showcase his talents, headed east in search of a new beginning. "At first I was hoping just to get into the team," said Caceres. "I knew it was going to be a very tough team to break into, they had great players already, and they were going to bring even better players in. My dream was just to be in the starting eleven, and be involved and hopefully I've accomplished that."
Caceres managed just seven starts for Glory in his final season with the club, but when Victory coach Ernie Merrick went looking to improve his squad Caceres was one of the first approached. Initially, the former Perth S.C. player struggled to earn a starting spot in with his new club, however, his ability to operate as both a left-back and a left-sided midfielder quickly gained him favour with Merrick. Caceres certainly isn't the only reason for Victory's stunning 2006/07 campaign, but along with Brazilian import Fred, Grant Brebner and Andy Vargas, he's created plenty of headaches for opposition defences who are trying to keep tabs on Danny Allsopp and Archie Thompson.
Now Caceres has a genuine shot at starting in an A-League Grand Final, and he knows that a strong performance on the training track this week could be the difference between being in the first eleven or biding his time on the bench. "I think you have to do what you have been doing all-week and all year - train hard, be consistent and do the right things what the coach asks you to do. And if you get picked, do your best from there," he said. "Hopefully I can bring a bit more attacking style to the game. I like to get forward, but I can't forget my defensive responsibilities. I love going forward, and hopefully I can do a bit more of that."
INNER HARMONY STIRLING’S ‘SECRET TO SUCCESS’
There’s no denying Stirling Lions had a season to remember in 2006, capturing the association Cup and earning second spot in both the Premier League and Night Series competitions. The club has their sights set on bringing further silverware to Macedonia Park this year and pre-season wins against Swan and Western Knights suggest they’ll again be one of the teams to beat. “I think the reason we did well last year was we had a really good bunch of lads and they all stick together, go out together and socialise together and it’s a great spirit at the club,” Mike Lyons said of Stirling’s success.
Stirling head into the new campaign with much the same squad as last year. “We’ve got a good squad and have eighteen players that we think are capable of playing in the first team,” commented Lyons. “We’ve added three or four players with Okwy Diamondstar coming from Athena, Daniel Micevski from Bayswater, and young Tommy Jones joined us from Joondalup.” The clubs only major departures are midfielders Robbie Miller and Jordan Rhodes who have joined Hitchin Town (England) and Mandurah City, respectively.
One of Stirling’s greatest attributes is a strong youth policy which last year saw Ludovic Boi and Steven Hesketh benefit from lengthy stays in the first team while teenage striker Phil Arnold was the star of the Cup final defeat of Swan. “Phil was away for much of the season but came back and timed it to perfection, he came on in the Cup final and scored two goals to swing the game in our favour,” said Lyons. “Phil, Ludo and Steve - they’re all only seventeen years of age. It’s great that they’ve come in to the first team and we’ve got another good bunch of youngsters underneath them waiting for the same opportunity.”
MANDURAH TAKES POINTS OVER CANNING
Mandurah City kick started their Night Series campaign this evening by defeating Canning City 3-2 at Alfred Skeet Oval. Canning started strongly with Simon Versaico forcing a fine save from Michael Green after 10 minutes. As the half progressed Mandurah began to take hold of proceedings through midfield pair Andy Brown and Jordan Rhodes along with the hard running of Christian Paschewitz. The deadlock was broken by new signing Jeff Bright who stuck the ball in the net after his initial shot came back off the post. Mandurah increased their lead after the interval through Jordan Rhodes who converted from the penalty spot following a foul on Michael Bobridge. Shortly after Canning went down to ten men with the dismissal of Paul Oliver for a second yellow card, and when Bobridge headed in goal number three Mandurah looked to have the game in the bag. Canning, though, had other ideas and some work by Versaico allowed Daniel Trevilsiol to reduce the gap, then Kyle Mitsopoulos brought it back to a single goal with a spectacular strike from 20-metres. However, time was not on Canning's side and Mandurah held on to earn the three points.
OLYROOS ADVANCE TO NEXT STAGE
Australia have progressed to the second phase of qualifiers for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. The Olyroos defeated Chinese Taipei 12-0 on aggregate to tee-up home and away fixtures against Iran, Jordan and Saudi Arabia over the next couple of months. Perth S.C. goalkeeper Tando Velaphi was Western Australia's sole representative in the squad after the late withdrawal of Perth Glory's David Micevski due to injury.
The two-match series was all but ended after the first 90 minutes of football with Australia holding an 11-0 advantage following the game at Hindmarsh Stadium in Adelaide. The Australians scored eight second half goals, five of which arrived in the final twelve minutes. Kristian Sarkies led the way with a four-goal haul, Nikolai Topor-Stanley netted a double while Mark Milligan, Nathan Burns, Bruce Djite, Robert Cornthwaite and Dario Vidosic also got on the scoresheet.
The return leg was a much closer affair that had Australia edged past Chinese Taipei 1-0. Australia dominated the game but only once breached a packed home defence with captain Mark Milligan clipping a superb shot over the goalkeeper on 63 minutes. "We have done what we needed to do tonight and can now concentrate on the next match against Iran in two weeks which will undoubtedly be a crucial match in the group," said coach Rob Baan. "Our opponents played extremely defensively tonight even when they fell behind in the match so it was a very different type of match to last week." Velaphi was an unused substitute.
The Australia Under-23 squad for the series against Chinese Taipei featured Nathan Burns, Robert Cornthwaite, Bruce Djite (Adelaide United), David Williams (Brondby), Danny Vukovic (Central Coast Mariners), Leigh Broxham, Vince Lia, Adrian Leijer, Kristian Sarkies (Melbourne Victory), Steven O’Dor (New Zealand Knights), Mark Bridge, Adam D’Apuzzo, Ben Kennedy, Stuart Musialik (Newcastle Jets), Tando Velaphi (Perth S.C.), Spase Dilevski, Ben Griffin, Dario Vidosic (Queensland Roar), Mark Milligan, Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Ruben Zadkovich (Sydney F.C.).
COACHING CHALLENGE EXCITES DESPOTOVSKI
Bobby Despotovski had a stellar career in Australia’s top flight. The gifted striker spearheaded Perth Glory’s attack for over a decade and earned four Most Glorious Player awards, the inaugural A-League Player of the Year trophy as well as a handful of appearances for Australia. With his playing days at an end, Despotovski now faces a new challenge as coach of Premier League side Inglewood United. “I’m enjoying coaching these boys and most of them I know from when I played for Inglewood three years ago,” he said. “It’s a new challenge and I’m looking forward to it.”
For much of 2006 Inglewood struggled for form and consistency and it wasn’t until the late season appointment of Alan Vest that they were able to turn things around and pull clear of the relegation zone. “I watched Alan coach the side and I obviously learned a hell of a lot when Alan was coaching at Glory and I’m going to introduce that work ethic that Alan drilled into us,” said Despotovski. “He tried to do something with the boys last year but didn’t have enough time and I want to continue working on what he started and hopefully we’ll have a better season than last time.”
The Night Series has so far produced some mixed results for Inglewood. Their campaign commenced with a 1-1 with Fremantle Spirit, was followed by a 3-2 win over Cockburn City while on the weekend they went down 1-3 to E.C.U. Joondalup. There’s little doubt the club have missed the experience and leadership Shaun Kilkelly who is on the road to recovery from a broken leg. “He’s going to be alright probably for the start of the season,” said Despotovski. “He’s not going to be fit so we’re going to manage his injury and get him right for around the middle of the season.”
Inglewood experienced a minimum of movement during the off-season with attacker Louis Parkinson the only significant departure. Rather than bring in new players, Despotovski will be looking to promote members of last years League and Cup ‘double’ winning reserve side. “We’ve got a couple of young boys coming through from the reserves and under-18’s,” he said. Amongst those who’ll be looking to make their mark this season are James Duncan, Ryan Frisina, Mladen Kovacevic, James Sammutt, Alex Stamatiadis, David Whiteside and Stephen Worthy.
MILLER SEES VALUE IN LOCALS (by Jonathon Cook)
Scott Miller has not had long in the coaching ranks of WA’s local competition, but the former Perth Glory defender has already seen enough to recognise a sprinkling of players capable to stepping into the cut and thrust of the A-League. And Miller, who spent ten years playing for Glory and a season with Premier League outfit Sorrento before turning his hand to coaching with Cockburn City, said introducing more local players into the Glory squad would be doubly beneficial to a club that has fallen on hard times since the formation of the A-League.
“There are boys who are definitely good enough to play in the A-League and I think it would get more people through the gates as well,” Miller said. “A lot of people have said to me they don’t go to games because they don’t know the blokes in the team. That’s nothing against the boys in the team because they are quality players. But it’s what people say.”
Though Glory identified the need to tap into the local talent pool some time ago, there remains a feeling among the WA football community that many of the better players are still being overlooked after often token measures to strengthen the bond between local and national levels. Miller identified Cockburn’s Jason Dos Santos and Shane Nunes as having the potential to rise to A-league standard, while he was not afraid to point to the quality of some of City’s rivals.
Sorrento’s Glen Thomas and Neil Young, Inglewood United’s Greg Sharland, Anthony Danze and Dean Apelgren, Perth SC’s Antoni Naglieri, Andres Oliveira and the recently returned Todd Howarth were other he believed could be useful to Glory. Many of the names are familiar - the club having taken some of the players on trials and loans, while others, such as Danze and Naglieri, were contracted during the National Soccer League days.
Last season Glory called on E.C.U. Joondalup’s Mark Lee, Perth’s Australian Institute of Sport graduate Nikita Rukavytsya and western Knights goalkeeper Tommi Tomich. When injuries stretched the squad. At the start of the campaign they already had home-grown talents Jason Petkovic, David Tarka, Jamie Harnwell, David Micevski, Jamie Coyne, Josip Magdic and Stan Lazaridis in the squad. And there are already more WA players in Glory’s sights with Perth goalkeeper Tando Velaphi, defender Dino Djulbic, now under contract to South Melbourne, and former Crystal palace midfielder Danze targeted for next season.
Outspoken Perth coach Graham Normanton has no doubt about the ability of some individuals to perform in the A-League. “It’s all about giving them the right opportunities, the right sort of training and advice in terms of nutrition and things like that, and honing their ability on the ball. And they will be great players,” he said. “But you can’t expect them to come into a full-time environment and shine straight away. You’ve got to work with them and give them time.”
Normanton said it was crucial for the game’s development for local players to believe they had a genuine chance of progressing to Glory. “I think it’s vital because players coming into their teenage years, who’ve got aspirations of playing professionally, have got to know they had an opportunity with Glory.” Miller expects the local competition to improve as teams strive to meet the challenge set by Perth, the Knights and Inglewood. “I think they’ve raised the bar with the quality of players they’ve got, so when you play those teams everyone lifts.”
PREMIER LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES, WEEKEND THREE (Stirling Lions vs Western Knights by Shayne Hope)
A great team performance from a young Armadale side saw them run out 3-1 winners over Fremantle Spirit in front of a big crowd at Alfred Skeet Oval on Friday. Teenage striker Ryan Pearson was in the thick of the action early and twice went close to putting the hosts ahead. Fremantle didn’t threatened until the 20th minute when Jason Barrera threaded a pass to Cisco Jorqueira whose shot was only inches past the upright. Six minutes later Armadale took a deserved lead as Ben Howe was played down the left flank by Jason Goodwin who then raced into the 18-yard box to head in at close-range. Armadale doubled their lead in the 39th minute with Goodwin cutting the ball back for Pearson to net. The port side should have drawn level shortly after when Ben Kelly was sent through on goal but shot straight at the goalkeeper. The second half opened with Fremantle on the attack and a long-range strike from Jorqueira which Cyril Sharrock saved at the second attempt. Poor defending at a corner saw the ball fall nicely for Andrew Pomfret whose shot was just past the post. All three points were secured by Armadale on 74 minutes as Paterson found the overlapping Kodi Madeley whose delivery from the right was fired in by substitute Richard Lacey. To their credit, Fremantle reduced to give up and after winning a succession of corners bagged a late consolation when Jason Pottier stroked past Sharrock.
Perth S.C. cruised to victory by 5-0 when they met Wanneroo City at the Joondalup campus of Edith Cowan University. The star performer was midfielder Antonio Naglieri who orchestrated a fresh and lively Perth side which dominated proceedings from the opening whistle. An outstanding individual effort by Todd Howarth put Perth one-up after only 7 minutes, the midfielder collecting the ball inside his own half before surging forward to stroke the ball past goalkeeper Kevin Miller from just outside the 18-yard box. The onslaught continued with Barry Wood coolly finishing into the bottom corner after being set up by Matt Danskin. Robbie Puca finished off a terrific move by getting in behind the defence to fire across Miller and inside the far post. Perth had numerous chances to add further goals to their tally but were left frustrated by some dogged defending and excellent ‘keeping by Miller. The second half produced more of the same with Perth doing all of the attacking but unable to find a way past an in-form ‘keeper. The relentless pressure paid off on 80 minutes when Andreas Oliveira converted from the penalty spot after being brought down inside the area. The icing was put on the cake three minutes later by teenage striker Nikita Rukavytsya who turned in a low cross after some great work by Trent Kay. With Michael Icanovski, Scott Bulloch, Gary Faria, Gareth Deeg and Shane Crampton rested on the night, Perth are shaping up to be one of the teams to watch out for in 2007.
Stirling Lions have joined Western Knights at the top of Group B after defeating the previously undefeated group leaders 3-2 at Litis Stadium on Sunday. The Lions made it hard for themselves in front of a vocal crowd, surrendering an early two-goal lead before pulling clear through Kevin Henderson’s header early in the second half. The game had dose of everything long range strikes, neat headers and a controversial sending off plus some free-flowing football which would not have looked out of place at a higher level. Daniel Micevski gave Stirling the lead inside 5 minutes by taming the ball some 22-metres from goal before unleashing a dipping, swerving shot into the bottom corner. The margin was doubled midway through the period when Keith Brown’s corner was partially cleared and Micevski’s strike was deflected to Leo Harman who side-footed home from 12-metres. Just before half-time Andrija Jukic knocked the ball over the line in a goalmouth scramble to bring the Knights back into the game. Stuart Montgomery had been making life difficult for the Stirling defence and on 53 minutes brought the sides level by converting from close-range after goalkeeper Phil Straker thwarted the striker from the penalty spot. Two minutes later Kevin Henderson restored Stirling advantage when allowed time to pick his place past Ante Ramic from Ludovic Boi’s cross. The Knights were delivered a fatal blow on 71 minutes when referee Ton Klaver dismissed Scott Bushby for an innocuous challenge on Keith Brown.
E.C.U. Joondalup registered their first win of the pre-season competition by downing Inglewood United 3-1 at the Joondalup campus of Edith Cowan University. The host club were off to a flying start as Garin Collins delivered a superb corner to the back post where Ian McMurray’s towering header was blocked by Oliver Taseski and with the rebound Scott Blackmore made no mistake at close-range. Joondalup were well and truly on top and on 10 minutes deservedly increased their advantage when McMurray powerfully headed in another deep corner by Collins. Only a few minutes more had elapsed when Taseski moved sharply to keep out Blackmore’s low free-kick and prevent the hosts from going further ahead. It was only after this that Inglewood started to fire and goalbound strikes from Michael Baczynski and James Sammutt were saved by Aleks Vrteski. On 33 minutes Danny Stoitis brought down Tom Amphlett just outside the area for a Joondalup free-kick which Blackmore curled into the top corner to give the hosts a handy three goal buffer at the turnaround. Looking for inspiration, Inglewood brought on Darren Broxton, Greg Sharland and James Duncan with great effect. An early shot from Dean Apelgren was tipped over the crossbar by Vrteski, Sharland fired inches past the post and Ryan Frisina also placed wide. Their persistence was rewarded on 67 minutes when Sharland delivered the ball in from the left for Frisina to net at close-range. Unfortunately it was too little too late for Inglewood who’d see out the game with nine players after David Whiteside and Frisina limped off injured.
FIRST DIVISION/AMATEUR NIGHT SERIES WEEKEND THREE (South West Phoenix vs Southern Spirit courtesy South West Phoenix)
A goal two minutes from full-time earned Balcatta a 1-1 draw with neighbouring Dianella White Eagles on Friday evening at the Joondalup campus of Edith Cowan University. The opening forty-five minutes were evenly contested with changes presenting for both teams to take the lead. On 60 minutes Dianella got the breakthrough as Dragan Njegic whipped a free-kick into the 18-yard box where the ball came off the head of Jon Greenwood and over the Balcatta goalkeeper. Both teams created further chances in the second half before the dismissal of Sean Boyd and Christian DeBarro reduced Balcatta to nine men. With Adrian Caloiero outstanding at the back and Ben Rogers working hard in the centre of the park, Balcatta refused to give up hope. As the clock ticked down Mark Da Scanio found space out wide to hit a speculative shot which Todd Busby parried as far as 17-year old Adam Stillitano who slammed in the equaliser from close-range.
Trent Hathaway and Kris Braekmans found the net as South West Phoenix ran out 2-0 winners over Southern Spirit when they met at Litis Stadium on Sunday evening. The match started at a good pace with Phoenix dominating the opening half hour and Spirit content to soak up the pressure and attack on the counter. The opening goal came on 8 minutes when Hathaway powered in a low shot from a narrow angle after his initial effort was blocked by a defender. The margin was doubled six minutes later by Braekmans whose neat finish from the edge of the 18-yard box gave the goalkeeper no chance. Further chances to extend the difference came the way of Etienne Sharpe and Tomasz Kowalczyk but neither was able to capitalise. Spirit came into the game after the break but it wasn’t until late that Phoenix ‘keeper Marc Cavanagh was called upon to make a save.
Ashfield thumped Ashfield Reserves 4-0 at Alfred Skeet Oval on Friday. Mohammad Komadaric netted twice on a night Igor Novakovic and Adam Purcell also got their names on the scoresheet. Murdoch University mauled Rockingham City 7-1 when they met on Sunday at the Joondalup campus of Edith Cowan University. M.Jennings bagged a remarkable six-goals for Murdoch for whom E.Celenza also found the net. Steve Cramphorn was the scorer of Rockingham's solitary goal. Further details of all these game were not forthcoming from any of the four participating clubs.
REAL FOOTBALL SCHOOL (by Mark Lee)
The inaugural Real Football School saw over 35 players converge on Wesley College for the intensive training course which saw participants work with some of the states leading youth coaches including Darren Young and Sean D'Arcy.
The Camp was divided into two, two-day courses, commencing on Saturday 13th January for players under the age of 10, and a camp for players under 12 on the Monday. This camp had been in mindset for some time and it was tremendous to work with such talented young players who I am certain will make up our State, National Training Centre (NTC) and national squads in the near future.
Our aim was to provide players, who were selected from Football West’s Futsal and FFV Programs, as well as Milo Clinics, with an insight into the day to day life of a professional footballer and the tools required to 'be the best they can be'. The whole ethos behind the School was to allow players to make their own decisions as an individual and as part of a team. The low player to coach ratio allowed coaches to assess and guide players at every opportunity, with training focusing on individual technical work and team play situations.
Following each training session, a cool-down session was held in the schools swimming pool. Participants were educated on the importance of this and the need and benefits of relaxation and recovery. Players were also briefed on the importance of diet and hydration with various classroom sessions held throughout the Camps duration.
Players were put into squads and presented with a Football West diary; Kelme bag and training kit early on in the Camps schedule to allow each team to prepare for the final day match 'show-down'. Preparation included a team meeting where players were asked to prepare strategies and discuss various formations, tactics and set plays. Following on from this, each team held a training session to put their respective plans into practice.
The first day concluded with dinner and a 'player profile' presentation where squads discussed attributes and characteristics needed to succeed as a professional footballer and the skills needed to be a world-class player. Footage was also shown of various Champions League goals, with set-plays, skills and team work analysed.
At the Under-12s camp players were fortunate enough to attend a presentation by NTC Assistant Coach, Kenny Lowe, a former professional player who discussed player roles and responsibilities at English Premier League club, Middlesborough. As the NTC squads were present at Wesley College for the 10s Camp, it was invaluable for them to interact with arguably some of our states best players and coaches and watch and learn from our future stars!
Part of the camp involved venturing to the South Perth foreshore to play street football. WA certainly has a bright future in our game if the skill shown by participants is anything to go by! When players are allowed to play in a non competitive environment they produce moments of individual brilliance and I am proud to say we were awestruck on numerous occasions.
On the final day of each respective camp, players spoke one on one which their coach before heading into their teams final training session. Each session concluded with a team talk involving imagery and covered aspects of the game to equip players with the confidence, knowledge and skills needed not only to perform on the pitch, but also to improve both mentally and physically.
Players showed no signs of nerves during the match and it was great to see parents cheering on from the sidelines. It was also fantastic to witness teams attempt their set-plays, many of which resulted in some fantastic and truly memorable goals. After the match, players and parents headed to Members Equity Stadium to do a match analysis on the Perth Glory versus Newcastle Jets game. Tickets were kindly provided by Perth Glory and gave players and parents the opportunity to analyse our states premier team. Some players were also fortunate enough to walk out with members from the Glory and Jets team - one day they may be doing the real thing!
Football West would like to thank players, parents and coaches, as well as our partners at Wesley College, Kelme and Perth Glory for their assistance in the Camps preparation and in ensuring the Camps success. All participants should be commended on their dedication, hard-work and attitude throughout the Camps duration and should consider themselves assets to our sport in WA.
Players involved in the Under-10s camp included Jack Boardman, Tristan Colli, Ryan Dowler, Geremy Fatourous, Jacob Florez, BJ Grant, Lee Halliday, Alex Ishida, Josh McCormick, Jnanadev Purcell, Mitchell Willis, Keenan Wozny and Paul Zimarino.
Players involved in the Under-12s camp included Lachlan Bechtold, Thomas Benjamin, Harrison Bissett, William Bissett, Christian De Domenico, Anton De Francesch, Nicholas Delborello, Kye Douglas, Frank Furfaro, Carmello Giuffre, Nathan Grostate, Harry Hosking, Tom King, Joseph Knowles, Ogi Lalovic, Nicholas Marland, Matthew Milkenovic, Jordan Mirco, Milos Pavic, Jake Price and Marco Santalucia.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
The Night Series is heating up in more ways than one with the third round of pre-season fixtures. The weekend’s action gets under way with Armadale up against Fremantle Spirit (8.30pm), and Ashfield taking on Ashfield Reserves (6.30pm) at Alfred Skeet Oval. Wanneroo City have a difficult meeting with a star-studded Perth S.C. (8.30pm) at the Joondalup campus of Edith Cowan University where the curtain raiser is Balcatta verses Dianella White Eagles (6.30pm).
Western Knights go in search of their third successive win when they square off with Stirling Lions (7.30pm) on Sunday at Litis Stadium where South West Phoenix and Southern Spirit (5.30pm) open proceedings. E.C.U. Joondalup have home ground advantage over Inglewood United (7.30pm), while earlier in the evening Rockingham City pits kills with Murdoch University (5.30pm). Admission is $6 adults, $4 concessions and under 15’s are admitted free - so get along and support you team.
HARNWELL KEEN TO CONSIGN SEASON OF FRUSTRATION TO HISTORY
Perth Glory captain Jamie Harnwell does not want to experience another season like 2006/07. Once the pride of the national league, Glory struggled through the second A-League season winning just five of twenty-one games and finishing just a single point above last placed New Zealand Knights. "It describe it as frustrating would be an understatement!," said the clubs' longest serving player, Jamie Harnwell. "We put ourselves in the position of being able to win matches but couldn't capitalise on those opportunities."
Everyone has an opinion as to what the major contributing factors were to Glory's poor on-field record this season and the team captain has his own slant on things. "We were probably naive and made mistakes at the wrong time that invariably got punished," said Harnwell. "Also, we didn't have the greatest run with injuries which meant the team often had to be shuffled around and that made it difficult for us to maintain a rhythm from one game to the next."
For much of the season Harnwell, traditionally a defender, lead Glory's attack in the absence of veteran strikers Bobby Despotovski and Stuart Young. "It was certainly different up there!," said Harnwell, who's seven goals made him the club's leading scorer this season. "I knew the sort of areas I had to get into to cause defenders problems so I did that and then tried to put a bit of pressure on them when we lost the ball. I was quite pleased with the way I played during the season, both at the back and up front."
So it came as a surprise to Harnwell when coach Ron Smith recently informed the defender he's likely to play a 'diminished role' next season. "It came as a shock at the time and after thinking things over it's not too much clearer now," he commented. "Ideally I would love to stay in Perth and be an integral part of the side again, as I have been for the past eight or so years. But I also have to be sure that I will be given the opportunity to play regularly. Fortunately there is still some way off till pre-season starts so there is time."
Probably the single incident that garnered Glory the most media attention during the campaign was Harnwell's post-match bust up with Adrian Webster. The Glory team mates had to be separated after frustrations boiled over following Glory's home draw with Adelaide United in late December. "The whole issue was embarrassing for both myself and Webby," Harnwell said of the incident. "We get on well together and moved on from it pretty quickly … I think the whole thing got blown out of proportion really."
The issue of Glory's ownership dominated off-field talk for the better part of the past year and while the playing staff do their best not to concerned by such matters it does occasionally enter their minds. "The players try not to let it affect us, but it is obviously in the back of our minds," said Harnwell. "The clubs ownership definitely needs to be settled as soon as possible … it's dragged on for a while now and is not helping the club. Once it's settled I think you'll see a lot more stability return to the club."
Looking towards next season, Harnwell feels the recruitment of a proven goalscorer should be on the top of Glory's shopping list. "We need to bring in a top level striker to not only replace Bobby and Stuey but to also increase competition for places," he said. "There's also a need for us to score more goals from midfield, as well as for the players to dig deep and battle for points when things aren't going our way. Let's face it, you can't play well every week and its' the points you nick when you're not playing well that determine where you end up on the ladder."
STIRLING TRIUMPH IN NIGHT SERIES CATCH-UP GAME
A late strike from Leo Harman earned Stirling Lions a hard fought 1-0 win over Swan I.C. in this evenings re-scheduled Night Series match at Litis Stadium. The first chance on a barmy evening came the way of Swan and an Aaron Cole headed that was cleared off the line by the Stirling defence. Cole was involved at the opposite end a few minutes later when his handball resulted in a Stirling free-kick which Daniel Micevski fired high and wide. A defensive error by Swan was pounced upon by Phil Arnold whose lob was just the wrong side of the post. Swan though they had the lead on 25 minutes but David Foster's low finish past Phil Straker was ruled out for offside. Stirling's best chance of the period came just before the break when Okwy Diamondstar picked out Micevski whose long-range strike was parried by Frank Letizia and Cole swept away the danger. The second half began with Swan on top and shots from Brendan Knox and Damien Catalano. As the minutes went by Stirling slowly worked their way back into the game as David Dugdale fired over the crossbar and Arnold past the post. Geoff Mason wasted no time getting involved after coming off the bench and shot narrowly high after combining with David Perich and Foster. The deciding goal arrived on 82 minutes when Tom Jones' cross from the right was met by Dugdale whose shot was blocked by Letizia and Harman put away the follow-up at close-range.
AUSTRALIA LOSE WILLIAMS TO WALES
Teenager Rhys Williams is the latest Australian-born player to slip through the net. The Middlesbrough defender last night made his international debut for the Under-21 side of Wales who defeated Northern Ireland 4-0 in a friendly at the Oval in Belfast. Williams, 18, only recently discovered he was eligible to play for Wales. "I had no idea I had Welsh ancestry until a few weeks ago. My Dad phoned me to say I had a Welsh grandfather," said Williams, who is also eligible to represent Australia, England and India. "I had never met him before but we did a bit of a research and the next thing I knew Brian Flynn wanted me in the squad." Williams played locally for E.C.U. Joondalup before accepting a three-year deal with Middlesbrough in mid-2005.
DENMARK CATCH SOCCEROOS ON THE HOP
Australia were beaten 3-1 by Denmark in this evenings’ friendly international at Loftus Road in London. With eight first-choice players absent, Australia received a footballing lesson by a highly organised and full strength Danish side for whom Jon Dahl Tomasson scored twice and Daniel Jensen once. The Socceroos lone goalscorer was captain for the night Brett Emerton.
The ball had been in motion only five minutes when captain Tomasson stunned the Socceroos with an opportunistic blast from the edge of the penalty box which swerved into the top corner with goalkeeper Michael Petkovic rooted to the spot. Michael Thwaite headed the ball in from a Josip Skoko free-kick on 22 minutes but the defender’s effort was ruled out for an infringement by John Aloisi.
Denmark doubled their lead when Dennis Rommedahl whipped in a cross from the right which an unmarked Daniel Jensen headed past Petkovic. A terrific exchange of passes between Daniel Jensen and Martin Jorgensen sliced open the Australian defence and allowed Tomasson to blast in goal number three on 37 minutes. Australia had the ball in the Danish net for the second time two minutes later but Aloisi’s header from another Skoko cross was ruled out.
The Socceroos went straight into attack after the break with Mile Sterjovski forcing Thomas Sorensen into a diving save with a volleyed lob from distance, and minutes later the attacker blasted a shot against the woodwork from close-range. Australia had to wait until five minutes from the end before bagging a consolation through Emerton’s brilliant free-kick which beat the wall and curled inside the near post. However, it was too little too late for the injury-depleted Socceroos in their home away from home.
KIWIS NO MATCH FOR MATILDAS
The Matildas have warmed up for their up-coming Olympic qualifiers with back-to-back wins over Trans-Tasman rival New Zealand. The two-match series was part of a seven-day camp for the national women's team at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra this week. Australia strolled to victory 6-0 in the opening game before wrapping up the series a few days later by downing the Kiwis 1-0. Flying the flag in camp for the west coast were one-time Western Waves midfielder Collette McCallum and Katanning-born goalkeeper Lydia Williams. Lisa De Vanna was absent due to club commitments with English side Doncaster Rovers Belles.
In extremely warm conditions, the Matildas scored three goals in each half to comprehensively defeat New Zealand 6-0 on Sunday evening. Sarah Walsh opened the scoring after just three minutes with further goals to midfielders Collette McCallum and Heather Garriock. Half-time substitute Lana Harch scored with a spectacular long-range strike early in the second period with Walsh soon scoring a second before teenager Sasha McDonnell rounded the goalkeeper to score her first goal at senior level.
Fielding a much-changed line-up, Australia dug deep in securing a 1-0 win over a resilient New Zealand in their second training match in Canberra. A tight first half gave way to a second period which saw Australia create an increasing number of goalscoring opportunities. Sarah Walsh looked to have opened the scoring midway through the second period, however, her goalbound strike was cleared off the line. Walsh turned provider on 79 minutes by playing the ball through to Joanne Burgess who finished neatly from 15 metres.
The 27-player Australian squad for the A.I.S. training camp was Dianne Alagich, Melissa Barbieri, Ellen Beaumont, Louisa Bisbi, Joanne Burgess, Kim Carroll, Lauren Colthorpe, Rhian Davies, Heather Garriock, Kate Gill, Lana Harch, Lisa Hartley, Collette McCallum, Sasha McDonnell, Kate McShea, Caitlin Munoz, Amber Neilson, Joanne Peters, Clare Polkinghorne, Karla Reuter, Cheryl Salisbury, Thea Slatyer, Danielle Small, Jenna Tristram, Sarah Walsh, Lydia Williams and Emma Wirkus.
PETKOVIC AND JONES TUSSLE FOR SOCCEROOS SPOT
West Australian's Michael Petkovic and Brad Jones will be vying for the spot between the posts when Australia meet Denmark in London tomorrow. The withdrawal of the Socceroos regular custodian Mark Schwarzer through a back complaint has opened the door for the local pair to stake their claim on the number one shirt. 30-year Petkovic, who has been in red hot form for Turkish side Sivasspor, is tipped to start and make only his fifth appearance for Australia. Middlesbrough's Jones has been drafted into the senior national squad for the first time and is likely to be second choice for coach Graham Arnold.
PREMIER LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES, WEEKEND TWO (E.C.U. Joondalup vs Floreat Athena by Shayne Hope; Cockburn City vs Inglewood United by Stuart Duncan)
Floreat Athena escaped with a 1-0 win over E.C.U Joondalup who were reduced to nine men in hot and humid conditions at the Edith Cowan University in Joondalup. The visiting side controlled the game from start to finish but it wasn’t until two minutes from the end that substitute Paul Vatistas headed in the only goal. The first real chance came after 12 minutes when Boima Karpeh was sent clear only for Joondalup goalkeeper Aleks Vrteski to make a brilliant one-on-one save. A deep cross by the hard working Miki Vujacic was received by Adam Bachiller whose shot dribbled back across goal. Joondalup’s only real chance of the period came on 30 minutes when Ian McMurray headed down to Mark Lee whose long-range shot landed on the roof of the net with Vas Vujacic caught out of position. The host club’s job was made all the more difficult by the sending off of defender Simon Ward for a foul on Karpeh. Ward would later be joined on the sidelines by teammate Martin Ashworth. Floreat continued to dominate after the break with Miki Vujacic finding Branimir Mikulic who headed just wide of the target. Joondalup were forced to defend for much of the half with their only opening coming in the 79th minute when Jamie Kuzmanovich was through on goal after charging down a Julian Madaschi clearance but Vas Vujacic came to Floreat’s rescue by blocking the shot. Floreat’s persistence was rewarded just before full-time as Andre Sarpe’s corner found its way to the head of the pint-sized Vatistas who scored from close-range.
Anthony Skorich’s last minute strike earned Western Knights a 3-2 win over Sorrento in a thrilling contest at Alfred Skeet Oval. The Knights began well and were ahead after just 6 minutes when Paul Cooke released Stuart Montgomery who made no mistake with a low finished past Neil Young. Sorrento went close after 12 minutes Steve McDonald headed wide a Glen Thomas cross. A fine run from midfield by Andrija Jukic saw him slide the ball through to Scott Bushby whose shot hit the angle of post and crossbar as the Knights looked to increase their advantage. However, Sorrento drew level five minutes from the break through Daniel Cagorski who fired in at close-range following a Glen Thomas corner. The Gulls opened the second half at full pace and were unlucky not to go ahead as Jared Love’s defence-splitting pass sent Brodie Martin clear and while the midfielder’s shot beat Ante Ramic it cannoned back of the post and to safety. Sorrento’s perseverance was rewarded on the hour as Thomas swung a corner to the back post where McDonald headed powerfully into the net. Love was unlucky not to wrap up the points five minutes later when he fired past Ramic only for it to strike the post before Steven Zuvela cleared. Against the run of play the Knights drew level as Bushby played substitute Skorich down the left and his cross was superbly put away by Montgomery. With time fast running out, Jukic delivered a cross to Skorich who headed in the deciding goal.
A brave move by Bobby Despotovski earned the debutant coach his first win as Inglewood United came from behind to overpower Cockburn City 3-2 in an entertaining match at Litis Stadium. The better of first half opportunities came from Cockburn who continually attacked their opponent down the flanks with Jason Dos Santos causing no end of trouble for the Inglewood backline. The relentless pressure paid off on 35 minute when poor defending allowed Dean Wallace time and space to collect the ball, stroll unchecked into the area and hit a low shot into the Inglewood net. However, the lead was short-lived as just four minutes later youngster Ryan Frisina took advantage of a goalkeeping error and scrambled in the equaliser from close-range. Despotovski made a triple substitution early in the second half, bringing on James Duncan, Dean Apelgren and Darren Broxton in an attempt to swing the game in his side's favour. But things didn't initially go according to plan for Inglewood who almost immediately conceded a penalty which Dos Santos converted to restore the Cockerels lead. Unperturbed, Inglewoodresponded by pushing forwardat every opportunity and pressuring the Cockburn's rearguard. Mladen Kovacevic was featuring prominently and his close control combined with Frisina's finishing touch enabled Inglewood to score a couple of well taken second half goals. The young striker levelled the game by despatching a Broxton through ball past Louis Lopresti. And in stoppage time Frisina completed a deserved hat-trick to register Inglewood's first win of the tournament.
Sunday's match at Alfred Skeet Oval between Stirling Lions and Swan I.C. was called off due to bushfires around the Armadale ground. Armadale president Bill Easton rang the club's early in the day to flag that the game was in jeopardy, and as the fires worsened throughout the day it became evident the game would not go ahead as scheduled. "I'm just thankful the fire missed our club," said Easton. "The flames were all around us, and we've lost a few fences but we were very lucky." Details as to where and when the Stirling-Swan game is to be played will be posted upon confirmation from Football West.
FIRST DIVISION/AMATEUR NIGHT SERIES, WEEKEND TWO
Bayswater City thumped Stirling Panthers 7-2 in Friday's match at the Joondalup campus of Edith Cowan University. Sal Marrapodi lead from the front by netting on four occasions with the remainder coming via an own goal, A.Hailu and Daniel Naumovski. Stirling's goals were scored by J.Arto and S.Da San Martino. Alfred Skeet Oval hosted Gosnells City and Morley Windmills who ended level at 1-1. Aaron Nadin put Gosnells ahead early in the second half only to have Morley draw level five minutes from the end through Scott McIlroy.
Queens Park Reserves were too good for Queens Park by 4-2 when they squared off on Sunday at Litis Stadium. R.Simpson bagged a double and G.Oakes and T.Omenhu got one each for the Reserves, while the senior teams' goals came via J.Daniels and D.Martens. The other Sunday fixture - Canning City and Mandurah City - was postponed due to push fires in close proximity to Alfred Skeet Oval. Further details of all these game were not forthcoming from any of the six participating clubs.
EDDIE LENNIE APPOINTED STATE REFEREE COACH
Football West have confirmed the appointment of former World Cup referee, Eddie Lennie, to the position of State Referee Coach. The role of State Referee Coach will generate strategies to enhance the professional development of match officials and coordinate coaching, training and education programs across the state. Lennie takes up the position immediately and his first engagement being to present at the Annual Referee Seminar on the weekend of 10th/11th February at Litis Stadium.
Lennie, part of the Football Federation Australia’s National Referee Technical Committee, will see this newly developed role accompany his recent appointment as head referee coach of the National Training Centre program. “I am delighted to be part of the Football West team that will take refereeing education and development to the next level in this state,” said Lennie. “It is encouraging to see Football West recognising the importance of educating and nurturing our referees who are an important part of the Football West family.”
A referee for over thirty years, Lennie is something of a football celebrity having officiated at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and 1998 FIFA World Cup in France. “I am delighted to have someone with Eddie’s credentials and stature on board in this very important role,” said. Garry Chandler, chief executive of Football West. “The relationship between officials, players and clubs, referee development, recruitment and retention are all critical elements within our game and Eddie’s background, knowledge and experience will be invaluable in progressing these issues moving forwards.”
JONES HAPPY AT MIDDLESBROUGH
Middlesbrough goalkeeper Brad Jones insists he is happy at the Riverside Stadium despite suggestions he is about to leave he club. "If something happens it happens, if it doesn't, I'm more than happy here and that's what I've said to the club," Jones told the club's official website. "I'm not desperate to get out and I'm not trying create any problems. If I can stay here then all the better. I've been here for eight years now and if I'm here for another two, three or four then that's fine for me ... I have to try and take my chances because I've got a very good goalkeeper (Mark Schwarzer) ahead of me who doesn't give me too many opportunities. If he's playing well then I'll try and bide my time and be ready when I'm called upon. If he's playing well then I'll try and bide my time and be ready when I'm called upon."
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
The pre-season continues to pick up pace with a feast of Night Series football. On Friday evening at Edith Cowan University in Joondalup, E.C.U. Joondalup take on Floreat Athena (8.30pm) after Stirling Panthers go head to head with Bayswater City (6.30pm). The action at Alfred Skeet Oval has Western Knights against Sorrento (8.30pm) and Morley Windmills up against Gosnells City (6.30pm).
Inglewood United and Cockburn City feature in the main game at Litis Stadium on Sunday (7.30pm). This is preceded by Queens Park against Queens Park Reserves (5.30pm). It’s a replay of last year’s Cup final at Alfred Skeet Oval where Stirling Lions pits skills against Swan I.C. (7.30pm). The early game features Canning City and Mandurah City (5.30pm). Admission is $6 adults, $4 concessions and under 15’s are admitted free.
FLOREAT COACH TAKES IN THE BIG PICTURE
Michael Roki won't be losing any sleep should Floreat Athena not make it past the group stage of the Night Series. While the Floreat coach would like to see his side qualify for the semi-finals, he'll be approaching the annual pre-season competition as preparation to mount a serious challenge for the State League's ultimate prize. "Our policy is to gather momentum steadily at the beginning of the season so that we're peaking at the right time in the League," said Roki. "The Night Series will gives us a good indicator where we are at and we'll have two or three Night Series games to start finding our feet, but our focus is building for and peaking for the season ahead."
Season 2006 was very much a case of contrasting halves for Floreat who went neck-and-neck with eventual champions Sorrento over the opening months before dropping off the pace and taking forth. "We started the season well and at the half way mark it was looking very good for us," explained Roki. "But we dropped a couple of critical games mid-season which allowed Sorrento to break away, and from then on it was a battle to close ground. We managed to stay one or two on the ladder for a large part of the season, and it was only really the last game which we slipped from second to fourth, so overall we were reasonably happy with 2006. The experience should serve us well for 2007."
One of the standout performers last season for the club was young defender John Migas who, at seasons' end, was awarded Floreat's Fairest and Best trophy. Roki is expecting another big year from the XX-year who he rates very highly. "John is a remarkable player in both character and ability" the coach said. "We signed him as an injured 19-year old in 2005 - he recovered from osteitis pubis and worked his way back into the side to be one of our most consistent performers, and the 2006 club champion. He is extremely accountable, and while he doesn't necessarily always catch the eye, he is one of the most reliable players in the League in my opinion."
Tight financial constraints often provide an opportunity for players to experience senior football ata young age and, although historically a high profile club, Floreat is no different to anyone else. Current squad members Adam Bachiller, Migas, Julian Madaschi, Alex Dunn, Paul Vlachou, Paul Vatistas and Steven Guest got their break through as teenagers and Roki has vowed to continue this trend. "We've maintained a nucleus of young players at the club for three years now, they worked hard and it's great to see them part of teams finishing in the top five for the past two seasons." said Roki. Last season midfielder Vatistas, utility Simon Barber and attack-minded Chris Socratous staked strong claims for starting berths, while amongst those expected to be knocking on the door this year are Jonathon Davite, Themo Georgeiou and Craig Howard.
Through a strong youth development program Roki has introduced team team football to several youngsters that he considers to be the future of the club. "We've had the same bunch of young players at the club for three years now, they worked hard and it's great to see them now getting their opportunity to play State League football," said Roki. Last season midfielder Paul Vatistas, utility Simon Barber and attack-minded Chris Socratous each staked strong claims for starting eleven berths, while amongst those expected to be knocking on the door this year are Jonathon Davite and Themo Georgeiou.
During the off-season Floreat said goodbye to some familiar faces, amongst them Adrian Sutton, Costas Socratous, Okwy Diamondstar, Vlachou and Chris Wylie. "They all were seeking new challenges and that's fair enough for them," said Roki, who's recruited wisely. "We've replaced them with some quality players and Miki Vujacic, Andre Sarpe and James Isaia will add a great deal to our squad. We have a couple of other players on the agenda at the moment that hopefully will sign and give us what we need in 2007."
In a seventeen year playing career Roki turned out for Osborne Park Galeb, Spearwood Dalmatinac, Floreat Athena and Western Knights as well as stints abroad at Kuala Lumpar (Malaysia) and Tampines Rovers (Singapore). "Playing in Malaysia was great, and I really enjoyed my three years up there," he said. "But my highlight would be playing in a triple winning side here at Floreat, and then winning another triple nine years later with a completely different squad. It's been a fantastic club to work for over the years and I hope to stay involved with them for a long time to come."
HARNWELL LEFT STUNNED BY GLORY TALKS
Perth Glory skipper Jamie Harnwell's days with the A-League club appear to be numbered after the big defender was stunned to be told he should consider a move to Asia. In the aftermath of a poor season and the retirement of Bobby Despotovski, Harnwell learnt he did not feature prominently in Glory's plans for next season. The 29-year old met coach Ron Smith last week hoping to negotiate an extension to his Glory deal after a season in which he was used in his regular defensive position as well as up front.
However, Harnwell, who made his Glory debut in 1998, was told the club was prepared to release him from the final year of his contract after receiving an offer for his services from a team in Singapore. "It was a massive shock. I just sat there and was a bit stunned for a while," Harnwell told the 'West Australian'. "I haven't made up my mind what I'm going to do but if I stay it's obviously going to be difficult to keep my place."
The meeting with Smith has left Harnwell in no doubt he could expect to play a diminished role if he remained with the club. "If you're a valuable member of the team, you're not really going to be told to seriously consider an option to move elsewhere," he said. "It's rocked me a bit." Harnwell has featured in all 42 of Glory's A-League games and his 188 appearances for the club is bettered only by retired greats Despotovski and Scott Miller.
Smith said he was obligated to make Harnwell aware of the offer from Singapore but it did not mean he was surplus to requirements. "There was an offer for Jamie but it's dead now because he wasn't interested," Smith said before heading to London to take up a temporary post as assistant to Graham Arnold for the Socceroos’ friendly against Denmark next week. "He's part of the squad for next year [but] there's always the potential for contracted players to move on."
Harnwell, Glory's captain for the past two seasons, said he had not decided whether to look more seriously at his options or fight to prove the coach wrong. "At 29, if you're not going to be playing regularly you've certainly got to consider what else there is," he said. "I haven't run away from too many things in my career, so there's always the thought I'll stay here, fight it out and hopefully prove I'm good enough."
GOSNELLS IN CHASE FOR KEEPER
First Division outfit Gosnells City are looking to add another goalkeeper to their squad ahead of the coming season. The Thornlie-based club have already boosted their outfield stocks with the return from injury of talented young defender Sam Maguire and exciting attacker Adam Bremner. But injury concerns over long-time custodian Jayson Mehnert, who has served the club brilliantly for several seasons, has forced Gosnells to seek cover for the position between the posts.
Coach Alex Grindley said 37-year old Mehnert still has a lot to offer the club but was feeling the wear and tear of his many years service to Gosnells. “Jayson’s done brilliantly for us over the years but before long it’s probably going to be a bit too much for us to keep asking him to put his body on the line,” Grindley explained. “Having said that, he’s a good club man and he wants to do the best for Gosnells. If he has to play, he will and I know he’ll do well for us. But we’d like to get someone else in as well to take the pressure off him.”
Mehnert is willing to hand over the number one shirt and has considered putting his knowledge and years of experience to use by taking on a coaching role at Gosnells. “We look okay in most areas but the goalkeeping situation could be better,” said Grindley. “If there’s a goalkeeper out there who takes the game seriously but also wants to be part of a great, friendly club, we’d like to have a look at them.” Players interested in taking up the challenge are invited to contact Gosnells president Tony Pritchard on 0403 009 214.
Former Inglewood United striker Gary Jamieson has looked sharp during pre-season training, as has one-time Western Knights defender Aaron Nadine and both are both primed for a big season. Another former Knight, midfielder Mark Edwards, has shaken off his injury troubles and could be one of the keys to a successful season for Gosnells. The club has also retained influential duo Brian Cairney and Andy Daffin along with a talented crop of players which includes Ian Maguire, Artur Majewski and Ciaran Allen.
SEAGULLS SWOOP FOR WARD
Former Perth Glory midfielder Nick Ward will spend the remainder of the English season on loan to Brighton and Hove Albion. Ward, 21, joined Queens Park Rangers last year and featured on a regular basis under coach Gary Waddock, however, since the arrival of John Gregory he has been used sporadically. Brighton coach Dean Wilkins is pleased with his new acquisition. "He's a very attack-minded midfield player and he will bring much-needed competition to the squad," he said. Ward was one of four players to sign for Brighton on a hectic transfer deadline day, the others being Dean Bowditch, Alexis Bertin and Joe O'Cearuill.
DESPOTOVSKI TAKES UP COACHING (by Stuart Duncan)
A-League Player of the Year and one-time Australian international, Bobby Despotovski, will turn his hand to coaching this winter following a distinguished career with Perth Glory. After capturing Despotovski’s signature on a coaching contract, Inglewood United are confident that the player many consider to be Western Australia’s greatest ever can bring success to the club.
As a player Despotovski was a rare commodity. In 241 games for Glory he netted a club record 113 goals, while his four Socceroo appearances resulted in five memorable goals. Perhaps more importantly than the goals he scored were those Depotovski created for teammates. “He has a special talent,” said Glory boss Ron Smith. “To be able to not only see people, but to be able to find them, shows he has an all round technique.”
Inglewood are counting on Despotovski to turn their fortunes around after an extremely disappointing 2006 in which the inner city outfit finished ninth. When asked about his ambitions for the club this coming season Despotovski was cautiously optimistic. “Yes, we can win the State League,” he said. “However, our first priority must be to avoid relegation to Division One”.
Early indications are promising and Kevin Brophy, coach of Inglewood's League and Cup winning under-23 side, is one of those impressed. “Pre-season training has been excellent,” said Brophy. “The emphasis has been on fitness work with the majority of sessions evident by the absence of footballs. This is how a pre-season should be conducted.”
Team manager Vince Radcliffe is equally optimistic of an improved season under Despotovski. “With Bobby’s involvement there is tremendous interest this season,” said Radcliffe whose been with the club since 2003. “All the players have been working hard. They are all aware of Bobby’s status in the game and are keen to impress him and make up for last year’s disappointments.”
As for Despotovski himself, he is obviously keen to make a positive impression in his first senior coaching post. “I have ambitions of coaching in the A- League,” said the 35-year old Inglewood resident. No doubt a successful season with Inglewood in 2007 would provide a strong foundation for Despotovski’s return to the national arena. Inglewood go in search of their first win under Despotovski when they face Cockburn City on Sunday evening at Litis Stadium.
COACH PRAISES MIDDLESBROUGH’S JONES (courtesy tribalfootball.com)
Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate heaped praise on Australian goalkeeper Brad Jones after keeping a a clean sheet in last night's 0-0 draw with Portsmouth. Consistently ignored by Australia coach Graham Arnold, Jones' reputation continues to grow in England where he has Everton, Fulham and West Bromwich Albion all keen to speak to him about a Bosman switch, while a two-year deal remains on the table from Boro. "I'm really pleased for him, " said Southgate. "He came out and caught a lot of crosses which some other keepers wouldn't fancy. It is always hard having to replace somebody as outstanding as Mark (Schwarzer) but Brad has a great temperament and did a fine job."
LEE DELIGHTED WITH A-LEAGUE OPPORTUNITY
Out of contract Perth Glory defender Mark Lee says he enjoyed every moment of his short stay with the club. Just days after agreeing terms with Glory as replacement for injured striker Bobby Despotovski last December, Lee stepped on to the national stage for the first time and maintained his position at left back for the clubs final six games of the campaign. “It’s been a dream move for me, it’s something I thought I’d never do at the age of 27, and I thought my time had passed,” he said. “It’s been superb and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience.”
With his Glory contract up, Lee will return to the State League and E.C.U. Joondalup for the winter months. “I’ll be back at Joondalup this season,” he explained. “My Glory contract finished after the final game of the season in New Zealand. I’ve been up to see the boys during my time with Glory and we’re looking forward to the season ahead. We have a new coach in Willie McNally who I played with at Swan when I first arrived in Perth and I’m really looking forward to working with him again.”
So far Lee has had no indication from Glory management so to whether he’ll be offered new terms for the 2007/08 season of national league football. “Ron hasn’t said anything about a contract for next season,” Said Lee, who’ll speak with coach Ron Smith early next month. “I’ve been taking it day-by-day. I never thought that I’d get an opportunity to play A-League, and the amount of games I’ve had. If I’m offered a contract it will be superb - if not, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time there.”
When he’s not playing, Lee is employed as the junior development officer for Football West. The past couple of months have been a busy time for the 27-year old as he juggled Glory and Football West duties. “We’ve been working with the Real Football School and the National Training Centre squad’s at Wesley College, so it has been really demanding juggling the two,” explained Lee. “But Football West has been superb, they’ve let me have this opportunity to play for Glory. I was planning to take a week off work over Christmas and then Glory came along … but I’m not complaining.”
Lee began his football career in 1995 and a two-year scholarship with Scarborough in what was then England’s Third Division. He signed professional forms not long after and at the age of 16 made his debut for the Seadogs. Lee headed north to Scotland in 1997 for a spell with Hibernian but, unable to break into the first team, moved on for stints with non-league outfits Blyth Spartans, Gateshead and Spennymoor United. A season-long stay at Swan I.C. preceded time at Lynn University in Florida where he completed a sports management degree.
By 2003 Lee had returned to Perth and time with Swan, Western Knights, Bayswater City and Joondalup followed. In 2005 he collected the Gold Medal as the Premier Leagues best and fairest player while wearing the black and blue stripes of Bayswater. “Winning the Football West Gold Medal was a really proud moment for me, and something I’ll never forget,” explained Lee. “Winning the Boral Cup with Swan in 2003 was also fantastic as it was their first major trophy. I also won the League championship with the Knights in 2004, so I’ve been very fortunate in my playing career in Western Australia.”
SCHOOLBOYS PERFORM STRONGLY AGAINST ISLAND NATIONS
Ben Howe and Daniel Agudelo have returned home after represented the Australian Schoolboys on their successful tour of New Zealand and Samoa. The Australian squad played seven games in a whirlwind twelve day period against representative teams from the Soloman Islands, Samoa, Vanuatu and Tahiti, along with a couple of club sides. Howe and Agudelo, who play locally for Armadale and Swan I.C., respectively, featured prominently throughout the trip for the Schoolboys.
Australia arrived in Auckland, New Zealand, at 3.30am on Wednesday 10th January and little over twelve hours later were out on the park playing the Solomon Island Under-20's. Not surprisingly, the Schoolboys got off to a slow start and a penalty late in the first half put the Soloman's a goal up at the break. The teams were brought level on the hour when a fine cross from Daniel Cornett was converted by Howe. Two days later Australia rebounded from their flat performance by defeating Samoa's Under-20 team 2-0 through first half strikes from Mitchell Nichols and Fortunato Filleti.
A meeting with Vanuatu Under-20's was next on the agenda and, although the Melanesian islanders scored first and last, it was Australia who emerged 5-2 winners. Nichols brought the teams level after 20 minutes, then put Australia one-up early in the second half. Filleti bagged a double and Glenn Trifiro also got on the scoresheet to earn the Schoolboys victory. Australia ended their time in New Zealand with a narrow 0-1 loss to Tahiti on Tuesday 16th January. The match appeared destined to end in a scoreless draw until Tahiti snatched a dramatic winner with only minutes left on the clock.
>From the land of the long white cloud, Australia headed to Samoa where they opened with a 3-1 win over Barbarian F.C. at Sepp Blatter Stadium. Played in hot and humid conditions, Howe headed the Schoolboys into a first half lead with Nichols netting twice in the second half to secure victory. A couple of days later Australia strolled to a 5-2 win over Samoan club champion Tuanaimato Breeze. James Sharman and Trifiro spearheaded the Schoolboys attack by netting twice each while Mitchell took his goal tally to six in as many games. A 5-2 defeat of the Samoa Under-23 side completed the Schoolboys tour.
The Australian Schoolboys squad consisted of James Barac, Ben Cheyne, Nuru Somi (Australian Capital Territory), Daniel Cornett, Xavier Forsberg, Glen Trifiro (New South Wales), Daniel Dacey, Jay Dumont, Tom Neilsen, Mitchell Nichols (Queensland), Christopher Atsikbasis, Fortunato Filleti, James Sherman, Rocky Violi (South Australia), Nick Katsamboukas (Victoria), Daniel Agudelo and Ben Howe (Western Australia).
NATIONAL COACH TIPS BIG FUTURE FOR RYDER
Australian Schoolboys coach John Romeo believes Indigenous teenager Wes Ryder has the potential to become a big name on the Western Australian scene. The Bayswater City striker is one of six local players who headed to Italy on Saturday with New South Wales team APIA Leichhardt who’ll compete in the prestigious Coppa Carnevale tournament in Viareggio where they’ll face the youth teams of AC Milan, Siena and Santos (Brazil).
Romeo, who is also coach of APIA Leichhardt, said Ryder had A-league potential and the Viareggio tournament would be a wonderful learning experience for the 19-year old. “I think he’s got the ability but it’s up to him really,” said Romeo. “This is the opportunity of a lifetime for him. It could be an amazing step.” Joining Ryder on tour are Bayswater team mate Jovo Pavlovic, Perth S.C. attacker Brendan Ross, Daniel Agudelo of Swan I.C., Rodrigo Aguirre and Trent Pagnozzi.
Though the likes of Newcastle United Jets defender Jade North and Adelaide United midfielder Travis Dodd have earned Socceroos selection, their cases are rare and there remains a dearth of indigenous Australians in the round ball version of football. “I just see myself as another player. I’m just like every other guy out there,” said Ryder, who played for the Australian Schoolboys on their tour of England in 2005.
His passage to Italy is in no small part thanks to the financial assistance of the Bayswater club and their alliance with the ANZ bank. Without it, the youngster would have been left to foot a bill of more than $7000 - or the prospect of staying home. Neither was very appealing to Ryder who has played for Bassendean Caledonian, Forrestfield United, Future Glory, Fremantle City and Bayswater. “I’d love to play professionally. To do something you love full-time is a dream,” he said.
PREMIER LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES, WEEKEND ONE (Fremantle Spirit vs Inglewood United by Stuart Duncan; Perth S.C. vs Sorrento by Shayne Hope)
Fremantle Spirit and Inglewood United shared the points in sweltering conditions Edith Cowan University in Joondalup. With the temperature hovering around forty degrees at kick-off, the players could have been excused for taking the game easy. Contrary to expectations, however, the match was a fast, open affair which kept the appreciative spectators entertained. The youthful Spirit outfit settled into the game quicker than their opponent and on the quarter hour they went ahead when an Inglewood defensive error allowed Ben Kelly to advance into the area and skilfully steer the ball past Oliver Taseski. The goal spurred Inglewood into action and for the remainder of the half the more experienced line-up was able to maintain possession and apply increasing pressure to the Fremantle defence. Jason Colli was enjoying the space afforded to him down the right to deliver numerous threatening crosses into the danger area but excellent goalkeeping by Steve Grant allowed the port side to go into the break clinging on to their slender advantage. The second half continued in much the same vein with Inglewood applying the pressure. They were rewarded when Shane Pryce was brought down inside the area leaving the referee with no option but to award a penalty which Michael Baczynski confidently stroked into the back of the net. With Taseski having little to do for the remainder of the match, Inglewood created many more opportunities than their opponents, however, poor finishing together with desperate Fremantle defending saw no further addition to the score.
The first game of the new season at Alfred Skeet Oval had host club Armadale run out 3-1 winners over Cockburn City in hot and humid conditions on Saturday evening. it took just 12 minutes for the visitors to go ahead through Shane Nunes who headed in an Aaron Dos Santos corner. Cockburn created several chances to extend their advantage only to be let down by poor finishing. Armadale levelled on 40 minutes when great approach work from young Ryan Pearson wide on the right saw his cross knocked in at close-range by Australian Schoolboys representative Ben Howe. Armadale began the second half strongly and should have taken the lead through Pearson who snatched at a close-range effort after goalkeeper Robert Pedri spilled a cross from Matt Bennion. The action was end-to-end as Nunes headed inches high from a Johnny Mirco free kick. On the hour Pearson gave Armadale the lead by finishing low past Pedri after being played in by Jason Goodwin. Three minutes later a long ball from the back sent Marlon Ramirez into the area where he was brought down by Pedri, referee Tom Klaver pointed straight to the spot and Peter Lord converted the penalty to seal a confidence boosting victory for Billy Russell's side. Late chances came the way of both sides as Mileta Miletic's header was saved low by Cyril Sharrock, while at the opposite end a free-kick flashed just the wrong side of the upright via the boot of Lord.
Western Knights recorded a 4-2 victory against Wanneroo City in an entertaining game at Alfred Skeet Oval on Sunday evening. The Knight's dominated the opening exchanges with Jon Higgins' early free kick going inches past the post. Wanneroo goalkeeper Kevin Miller was in superb form, saving brilliantly from Andrija Jukic and moving sharply to keep out a long-range drive by Scott Bushby. The pressure valve was released on 34 minutes as Stuart Montgomery's cut back from the right was met by Jukic, and although Miller produced another stunning save Cormac Dawson was on hand to put away the follow up at close-range. Wanneroo's best chances of the period came moments later as a long-range strike from Craig Wells was tipped over the bar by Ante Ramic. The Knights continued to dominate after the restart and three minute in doubled their advantage as Jukic fired past Miller from the edge of the 18-yard box. Wanneroo were back in the game on 53 minutes, a long ball caught out the Knights backline and Simon Woodward scored low past Ramic. With this Wanneroo stepped up a gear and it wasn't long before they levelled through Ben Yates who finished clinically past Ramic after being sent clear. The Knights re-grouped and were back in front in the 75th minute, Jonathon Mathers spirited the ball to Anthony Skorich whose cross was converted by Montgomery. The game was ended as a contest four minutes later when the Knights made it 4-2 with Montgomery again the scorer from a Bushby cross. Salt was rubbed into Wanneroo's wound with the late dismissal of Peter Vukmirovic for a second yellow card.
Perth S.C. and Sorrento opened their 2007 Night Series campaigns with an entertaining 2-2 draw at Litis Stadium. Defending its Night Series title, Perth twice surrendered the lead under lights and lightning despite most of the chances falling its way. The Blues did all the early attacking and scored first after 13 minutes when Shane Crampton side-footed the ball past advancing goalkeeper Neil Young. The hot and humid weather forced a drinks break after 25 minutes with Perth controlling the match. The Blues continued to dominate after the break with Matt Danksin proving the ammunition for Crampton and Andres Oliveira, both of whom failed to convert good opportunities into goals. To the relief of the players the rain came down after half-time as Young was given a workout in the Sorrento goal. Oliveira should have done much better than shoot wide from 10-metres after working his way through the defence. The Gulls began to get into the game and Steven McDonald thought he'd levelled by heading in a free-kick but the goal was disallowed. However, Sorrento didn't have to wait too much longer to open their account with Brodie Martin pouncing on a defensive error to restore parity. Perth looked to have stolen a win in the 88th minute with Oliveira using substitute Oliver Hilton as a decoy before laying off for Antonio Naglieri to net from close range. But last season's Premier League champions refused to lie down and Jared Love smashed home a dramatic stoppage time equaliser from a Stuart Banks corner.
FIRST DIVISION/AMATEUR NIGHT SERIES, WEEKEND ONE
Ashfield opened their Night Series campaign by spanking Olympic Kingsway 8-1 at Edith Cowan University Joondalup on Friday. Mohammad Komaderic bagged a hat-trick, Igor Novakovic and Mel Lovic both scored twice and Jason Van Rooy once for Ashfield while Kingsway’s solitary goal came via Brian Hedges. At Alfred Skeet Oval, Dianella White Eagle triumphed 3-0 over Ashfield Reserves. Jon Greenwood scored twice and Zelko Savic once for Dianella who ended with ten men following the second dismissal of Corey Herrington.
Queens Park were welcomed back to semi-professional football by Rockingham City who ran out 2-0 winners at Litis Stadium. D.Mathurine and Steve Cramphorn found the back of the net for Rockingham who had Brian Hastie send off close to the final whistle. Sunday’s other fixture had Canning City take the points over Southern Spirit by 3-0 at Alfred Skeet Oval. Further details of all these game were not forthcoming from any of the eight participating clubs.
MITRE PARTNERSHIP STRENGTHENED
Football West is pleased to announce the continuation and strengthening of its partnership with manufacturer Mitre, who’ll be match ball sponsor for the 2007 and 2008 seasons. The new sponsorship agreement will see Mitre as official ball sponsor across the Men’s State, Amateur, Social and Masters Leagues, which will require the use of Mitre match balls in all League games played.
Garry Chandler, Football West’s chief executive officer, welcomed the agreement worth an estimated $40,000 over a two-year period. “Consolidating the number of ball suppliers and securing a quality product were the prime factors in brokering this agreement,” Chandler said. “Having one supplier provides us with numerous benefits that can we therefore pass on to our clubs.”
Mitre account manager, Rodney Lawson, echoed Chandler’s statement by adding that the company was looking forward to working closely with Western Australia’s governing body to strengthen the sports profile. “Mitre Sports is excited about the prospect of working with Football West to grow the game in Western Australia through Mitre’s focus on ‘football at the grass roots level’,” said Lawson. “Players will be the winners in this deal, as they will be using the same quality Mitre ball in all fixtures of their respective leagues.”
DUMPED GLORY STRIKER HITS BACK
Angry Perth Glory striker Stuart Young has criticised coach Ron Smith for a lack of communication during the latter stages of the season as the A-League club’s campaign slipped away. Young was one of five players axed yesterday as Smith started the clean-out after a dismal season in which Glory finished just a point above last placed New Zealand Knights. Striker Luka Glavas, midfielders Adrian Webster, Mimi Saric and Mark Robertson and Young have all been told they will not be offered contracts for next season.
Young said he had an agreement with Smith that he would be told by 28th December if he would be offered a fresh contract to allow him time to seek other opportunities. But the deadline had passed without any communication until he was dumped this week. “I think he’d made his mind up before he got here about what he wanted for next season and I wasn’t in the plans,” Young said. Smith said his agreement to inform Young last month had slipped his mind and he had apologised during a meeting this week.
The 34-year old Young, who scored five goals this season, said it was not the first time he had felt the club had acted unprofessionally during his two years in Perth. Just months after joining Glory, the club had tried to cancel his playing contract because then coach Steve McMahon had considered him surplus to requirements. “It’s been disappointing and unprofessional at times,” Young said. “And I think they’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of them if they are to be any better next season.”
Webster, a regular in the Glory engine room this season, was released in order to free up one of the club’s three foreign player positions. “Adrian falls into the foreign player category because he was born in New Zealand,” said Smith. “His role in central midfield is a position where we currently have several options and in our process of rebuilding the squad we will need to find players that can give us cover in other areas which may include looking internationally.” Decisions on the future of the remaining players coming out of contract will be made as the team takes shape in the coming months.
Smith said it had been a difficult decision to axe the five but not everyone could be retained. “I have had to make some tough calls in what I believe will be the best interests of Perth Glory and ensuring we’re able to further strengthen our playing squad going forward,” commented the coach. Smith said he was likely to be looking outside Australia for a striker and for midfield players who could score goals. “This year, I don’t think we had one goal from a midfield player all season which is quite rare and highlighted the problems we face as a squad,” he said.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
The 2007 Night Series competition bursts into life this long weekend with a host of games right the way across the metropolitan area. Newly appointed Armadale coach Billy Russell takes the reigns against his former club, Cockburn City, at Alfred Skeet Oval on Saturday (8.30pm). This is preceded by Dianella White Eagles and Ashfield Reserves (6.30pm). That same night at Edith Cowan University in Joondalup, First Division champion Fremantle Spirit square off with Inglewood United (8.30pm) after Ashfield and Olympic Kingsway go head to head (6.30pm).
The Sunday action has Jamie Goodman's Wanneroo City up against Ronnie Campbell's Western Knights at Alfred Skeet Oval (7.30pm). The early game is Southern Spirit verses Canning City (5.30pm). The match of the round takes place at Litis Stadium where Premier League champions Sorrento take on Night Series holder Perth S.C. (7.30pm). Queens Park and Rockingham City pit skills in the opening fixture (5.30pm). There is plenty of football to watch over the long weekend, so get along and support you clubs at all three venues. Admission is $6 adults, $4 concessions and under 15's are admitted free.
COUGARS UNDONE BY PREPARATION
Members of the WA Cougars have expressed their disappointment at not making the knock-out phase of the Australian National Futsal Championships in Canberra. Leading into the five-day event the side, made up of predominantly Premier League players, had set themselves the target of qualifying for the quarter-finals. However, things didn't quite go according to plan for the Cougars who had to settle for fifth placing in Pool A.
"After competing well last year at our first attempt we really expected to be able to improve and make at least the quarter-finals," commented goalkeeper Vas Vujacic. "Overall, I think we played below what we're capable of. That said, we only lost three games and each of those were to sides that went on to play in the semi-finals. Going into our last game we knew a win would get us into the last eight and, to be honest, I thought we deserved to win but because we were the ones chasing victory we left ourselves exposed at the back and Victoria punished us."
A lack of match fitness was the Cougars undoing according to Rob Monterosso. "Performance-wise we did considerably well," he said. "In terms of skills and tactics we weren't that far off the mark and overall we played well as a team. The key difference between us and the other sides was they were a lot sharper and quicker to act on the ball. Fitness is always going to be a factor when you've got to play three games in a day, and when those games are played at such high intensity and you don't get much time to recover between games then it doesn't take long before you really begin feel it."
Vujacic feels there are some valuable lessons to be learnt from this years tournament which can make WA a much stronger proposition in the future. "Our preparation was lacking," said Vujacic. "One of the big obstacles we have to overcome is a lack of quality opposition in WA, there aren't many sides here who can deliver the level of intensity to what you get at the nationals. I also think we were physically under-prepared and the tight schedule took its toll on us. Even in goal you're always a part of the action and I've never felt as fatigued after a game as I did in Canberra."
TOMICH URGES GLORY TO CONSIDER HOMEGROWN TALENT
Tommi Tomich had backed calls for Perth Glory to look in their own backyard when planning for the third season of A-League football. Recruited from Western Knights when Jason Petkovic broke his leg, Tomich says there are numerous State League players capable to playing at the next level. "There are plenty of players that can make the step up to the A-League," he said. "When you get full-time football under your belt and you're training every day you're going to improve and it's just a matter of getting used to stepping up. And boys are proving that they can do it coming from the State League."
Having been appointed coach just weeks before the season began, Ron Smith wasn't really in a position to properly assess the local stocks according to Tomich. "He came in late and had to concentrate on the players that he had," said Tomich. "I think he managed to get to one game before the A-League season started but it was too much to ask him to thoroughly scout for new players when he already had a lot on his plate. But now the season is over and the State League is about to start Ron and David Mitchell will hopefully watch a few games, study the players and invite a few down to try out for Glory."
With his short-term contract due to expire, Tomich will return to Western Knights for the winter season and keep his fingers crossed he's one of those offered new terms by Glory. "There are ten players coming out of contract and the club have got to review who they're keeping and who they're not keeping," he explained. "Me - I'm out of contract and will come back to the Knights and continue playing in the State League and we'll see what happens after that. I absolutely enjoyed playing for Glory this season and would love the opportunity to do so again next season."
UNDER-23 SQUAD GATHERS FOR OLYMPIC QUALIFIERS
Twenty-three of Australia's best locally produced talent will assemble in Adelaide on Monday as Australia gear up for the initial qualifiers to reach the 2008 Olympic Games. The Australian under-23 side take on Chinese Taipei in a home and away series in just over a week's time with the winner progressing to play Iran, Saudi Arabia and Jordan in the second round of qualifiers. Western Australia is represented in the squad by Perth Glory midfielder David Micevski and goalkeeper Tando Velaphi, who is contracted to Premier League side Perth S.C.
The complete Under-23 squad to face Chinese Taipei is Nathan Burns, Robert Cornthwaite, Bruce Djite (Adelaide United), David Williams (Brondby), Billy Celeski (Bulleen Zebras), Danny Vukovic (Central Coast Mariners), Leigh Broxham, Vince Lia, Adrian Leijer, Kristian Sarkies (Melbourne Victory), Mark Bridge, Adam D'Apuzzo, Labinot Haliti, Ben Kennedy, Stuart Musialik (Newcastle United Jets), Tando Velaphi (Perth S.C.), David Micevski (Perth Glory), Spase Dilevski, Ben Griffin, Dario Vidosic (Queensland Roar), Mark Milligan, Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Ruben Zadkovich (Sydney FC).
W.B.A. IN TALKS WITH JONES
Middlesbroughgoalkeeper Brad Jones is in talks with West Bromwich Albionas Premiership suitors make contact. Middlesbrougharekeen for Jones toremain onTeesside andhave made a fresh offer of a new two-year deal.However, Jones is keen to be playing regular first team footballand a moved to The Hawthorns could provide him with this at a time Everton and Fulhamhave also expressed an interest in the 24-year old."Brad has had a very good two-year offer from Middlesbrough and there are other clubs interested but he wants first-team football and feels he'd have a good chance at Albion. There aren't many clubs he'd want to join outside the Premiership but West Brom are an attractive proposition," Jones' agent Gary Williams told the'Evening Gazette'.
AMBITION BURNS BRIGHT FOR SUBIACO
Subiaco United's dream of playing to Saturday football is one step closer following the naming of John Thornley as first team coach. The appointment reunites Thornley with assistant Steve Lihou who together guided South Perth United out of the Third Division and into the Premier League in the space of four years. "We're looking forward to having a strong year," said Thornley. "The club has been around a long time and in the next few years is intending to push for a place in the Saturday competition. Subiaco has a strong support base with six senior teams and seven ladies sides not to mention one off the biggest junior set-ups in the state, and with the right leadership they can be a major force in WA football."
PETKOVIC KEEPS PRESSURE ON SCHWARZER
Mark Schwarzer will be looking over his shoulder as Australia prepare for this year's Asian Cup. While Socceroos boss Graham Arnold made it clear that Schwarzer remained first-choice when announcing a strong 20-man squad for next month's friendly international against Denmark in London, he offered no guarantees. Western Australian 'keeper Michael Petkovic, who plays his club football in Turkey for Sivasspor, will be working hard to unseat Schwarzer and put himself in the frame for not just the Asian Cup but also Australia's 2010 World Cup campaign.
Arnold says Petkovic , 30, could well get some game time against Denmark if the opportunity arose. "He looked very good in the camp for the Ghana game (last November), and he's been playing very well in Turkey," he said. "Schwarzy is the number one, but to be honest there's not much between all the keepers. That was the story at the World Cup, and looking ahead to the Asian Cup, it's going to be the same. Depending on how the game is going, I wouldn't mind having a look at Michael. I wouldn't jeopardise the result, because we've set standards and we want to maintain them. But he could get his chance."
The 20-man Socceroos squad to face Denmark is John Aloisi (Alaves), Scott Chipperfield, Mile Sterjovski (Basel), Brett Emerton (Blackburn Rovers), Tim Cahill (Everton), Patrick Kisnorbo (Leicester City), Mark Schwarzer, Mark Viduka (Middlesbrough), Craig Moore (Newcastle United), Brett Holman (NEC Nijmegen), Michael Beauchamp (Nuremburg), Mark Bresciano (Palermo), Jason Culina (PSV Eindhoven), Vince Grella (Parma), Ryan Griffiths (Rapid Bucuresti), Michael Petkovic (Sivasspor), Luke Wilkshire (Twente), Lucas Neill (West Ham United), Josip Skoko (Wigan Athletic) and Michael Thwaite (Wisla Krakow).
DESPOTOVSKI RUES GLORY'S FAILURE TO PLAN
A lack of forward thinking robbed Perth Glory the opportunity to groom a natural successor to retired great Bobby Despotovski. The one-time Socceroo spearheaded Glory's attack for over a decade, scoring 113 times in 241 appearances to be the club's highest goalscorer of all-time. But with his retirement at the age of 35, the A-League club has been left without a recognised frontline striker for their first time in their history.
Despotovski feels Glory should have begun planning for the future when it became apparent he and strike partner Damian Mori were nearing the end of their careers last season. "They are big shoes to fill and I'm not sure if they need to go overseas, but they need to find some talented strikers," he said. "Last season, with me and Damian coming to the end of our careers, the club needed to give some young players a chance. We need to give young players more of a chance in Australia and maybe the WA Premier League can play more of a role in developing them."
Injury limited Despotovski's participation this season and there's little argument Glory missed his predatory instincts in and around the box. Lacking firepower, they averaged just over a goal a game with captain and makeshift striker Jamie Harnwell leading the way on 7 goals. Of Glory's recognised forwards, Mimi Saric and Luka Glavas failed to make a lasting impression while veteran Stuart Young fell out of favour during the second half of the season after making a promising start. Saric, Glavas and Young are all coming out of contract.
Glory coach Ron Smith said he would search high and low for someone to lead the attack next season. "Good strikers are hard to find anywhere in the world. Whenever there's a shortage, the only avenue tends to be overseas, but you also have to look at young strikers," he said. "Nikita's (Rukavytsya) quite a promising player. He's had a good education at the AIS and now he needs to play. The State Leagues will be starting soon, so there may be a few players who impress, and we also have to bring in experience."
Exciting young prospect Rukavytsya, who made his Glory debut at the start of the month, is tipped to be offered one of the under-20 contracts for next season. Australian youth international Bruce Djite is also on the market along with 17-year old Tahj Minniecon who recently trained with Glory but is also being courted by Queensland Roar. On the local front players such as David Foster (23), David Dugdale (23) and Andreas Oliveira (25) would no doubt take their game to a whole new level if provided full-time training and an opportunity.
PLAY-OFFS EVADE W.A. AT FUTSAL NATIONALS
The State Futsal teams have returned home from Canberra where they took part in the 2007 Australian National Futsal Championships. Western Australia was represented at the five-day event by two teams - Cougars and Pumas - who performed admirably against representative teams from the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. Unfortunately, the Cougars and Pumas both missed out on the berth in the knock-out stage from which New South Wales Thunder emerged triumphant by thumping Queensland Vikings 4-0 in the Final.
The Cougars placed fifth in the seven-team Pool A. Their campaign got off to a flying start with a 6-3 win over Northern NSW 6-3, however, they were soon brought back down to earth when beaten 0-4 by Queensland Vikings. After a 1-3 loss to NSW Thunder, the Cougars bounced back with successive 3-2 wins over South Coast NSW B and ACT Colts. But a place in the knock-out stage eluded them as Victoria claimed the final qualifying game 3-5. The Cougars squad consisted of Eldon Abrahams, Andre Babaeff, Simon Barber, Scott Campbell, Derek Cooke, Renato Gomez, Anthony McStea, Robert Monterosso, Miki Vujacic and Vas Vujacic.
Allocated a place in Pool B, the Pumas ended the qualifying stage in sixth place. Successive losses to ACT Cobras (8-1), NSW Under-23 Thunder (4-0) and South Coast NSW (2-4) were not the sort of start they were hoping for. The Pumas regrouped by outscoring Queensland Crusaders 4-3 before completing their schedule with spirited performances against ACT Under-23 Cobras (lost 3-4) and NSW Lightning (lost 6-7). The Pumas squad featured Allan Armstrong, Jamie Bonj, Vishal Bulsara, Daniel Cappellaro, Nick Cullum, Saeed Danesh, Patrick Fitzgerald, Ivan Gavrawic, Kevin Grima, Ahmed Hafez and Daniel U'lisse.
Overall, it was a tremendous effort by the boys from the west coast who featured players from a number of futsal and State League teams, and competed well against full-time futsal players including several Australian internationals. The boys have been improving year after year thanks to the leadership of team manager Brian Watkins who was involved in an unfortunate motor vehicle accident while in Canberra. We wish Brian a speedy recovery and all the best.
WARD COURTED BY ITALIAN CLUB
Australian youth international Nick Wardcould soon find himself lining up in Italy's top flight. The Queens Park Rangers midfielder has reportedly been approached by Torino with an offer to trial for the Serie A club. Ward, signed from Perth Glory in July last year, has worked hard to regain his place in the Rangers match day squad after spending time on the outer following John Gregory's appointment as coach in late September. He's made 21 appearances to date and has been named as one of Australia's standby players for the upcoming friendly Denmark.
POOR FINAL SHOWING BY GLORY AS KNIGHTS TAKE POINTS
A flat Perth Glory outfit has closed out the 2006/07 A-League season with a surprise 0-2 loss to New Zealand Knights at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland this afternoon. The Knights scored both of their goals in a dominant first half performance with Neil Emblen and Malik Buari finding the target against a Glory side which was but a shadow of the team that just three years ago were national league champions. It was Glory's eleventh defeat of the 21-game campaign and left them just one point above the Knights who collected the wooden spoon for the second successive season.
The home side showed the greater enterprise during a quiet opening with spell and Lelei Gao should have done better than shoot straight at Tommi Tomich after a neat move down the left. The Knights thought they had the lead on 17 minutes when Gao poked the ball under Tomich, however, the effort was incorrectly disallowed for offside. Buari's pace was causing the Glory defence all manner of problems and on 25 minutes the lively Ghanian shot narrowly wide after being played down the right by the influential Emblen.
The pressure valve was relieved with 32 minutes gone as Noah Hickey sent a low ball into the area where Buari's powerful shot was superbly blocked by Tomich who was left stranded as an unchecked Emblen knocked in the rebound at close-range. Further sloppiness seven minutes later would again cost Glory as Buari stabbed the ball in after Ante Kovacevic and Leo Bertos failed to respond as Emblen's header bobbled around inside the 6-yard box. Glory's best effort of the period had Josip Madgic turn the ball wide shortly after.
After a scrappy start to the second spell the Knights set about to score their third goal. Buari had two great chances fifteen minutes into the second spell to extend the Knights lead but on both occasions he was unable to force a save from Tomich. Bertos crafted a rare opening for Glory which Jamie Harnwell headed just past the post. The Knights could have extended their lead as chances came the way of Buari, Emblen and Gao but with no addition to the score the home fans were left to rejoice at the Knights fifth and final win of the season.
GLORY'S SEASON FROM HELL (by Jonathon Cook)
Perth Glory coach Ron Smith has started planning for the next A-League season, though he accepts he might not be around to enjoy the fruits of his labour after leading the club during the worst season in its history. As Smith contemplates the shape of his squad for the next campaign, his own position is not entirely safe with new owners poised to take over.
Under their provision arrangement to take on the club's A-League licence, mining entrepreneur Tony Sage and property developer john Spence could decide to dump any office or coaching staff, including chief executive Michelle Phillips and Smith. The possible takeover, which has dragged on for months, is now expected to be completed by March. "All I would say is that if anybody came in and said 'we don't want you anymore', I'd expect to be paid out like any player would," said Smith, who has a year remaining on his contract.
Despite enduring such a disappointing season Smith said he had no regrets about ditching his job as Football Federation Australia's football manager to take a role at a club in crisis. "If I only had a one-season contract I wouldn't have come here because everyone judges you on results," he said. "I was prepared to come in and bite the bullet in the first season in the knowledge that I've got another season to try to turn things around. I'll have more time to work with players."
Sage has indicated that sweeping changes are unlikely, but after an abysmal season some significant adjustments are essential whether driven by the new bosses or by Smith and assistant coach David Mitchell. There have been some extenuating circumstances such as the late appointment of Smith and Mitchell, injuries to the now retired Bobby Despotovski and former Socceroos winger Stan Lazaridis, and a fixture list that was clearly not designed with the players' wellbeing in mind. During a horror mid-season spell Glory were on the road in seven out of nine matches.
Phillips acknowledged the club was at rock bottom but she denied the job had been more challenging than anticipated. "Some things have worked, some things haven't worked and it's just a matter of learning from those," she said. "But I never thought any part of it was going to be easy." Though live broadcasts of matches on Fox Sports have affected attendances, an increase in ticket prices also acted as a deterrent for fans. But there are no signs prices, set by FFA according to Phillips, will be reduced for next season. "I can't commit either way," Phillips said. "But it's something we will review."
Glory will complete their season, perhaps fittingly, away to basket case New Zealand Knights, who have been rooted to the foot of the table almost since the A-League kicked off. Soon after, Smith will start informing players if their services will be required for next season. Perth goalkeeper Tando Velaphi will be offered a contract, while other locals, such as defender Dino Djulbic, could also be handed an opportunity. But the recruitment net will also be cast far and wide as Glory hunt a seasoned striker to boost the attacker in the wake of Despotovski's retirement.
AUSTRALIA COLLECTS MEDALS AT YOUTH FESTIVAL
The future of Australian football looks bright after both the men's and women's teams claimed medals at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival which came to a close today in Sydney. The women's team, and under-16 squad featuring local pair Danielle Calautti and Ella Mastrantonio, finished the five-day event in second place behind Korea. The men's side, comprised of Australian Institute of Sport scholarship holders, had to be content with the bronze medal after missing out on second by goal difference.
A 1-2 loss to Korea was a far from an ideal start to the women's tournament for Australia. So Yun Ji netted twice in the second half before Sohphie Hogben bagged a late consolation for the host nation. The following day Kyah Simon's 68th minute goal earned Australia all three points over Japan. The women's team secured silver by downing China 2-1 on the final day of competition. Second half goals from Jenna Kingsley and Tameka Butt cancelled out an earlier strike by Chinese attacker Rong Zhao.
Australia's campaign opened with a 0-1 loss to Korea, and was followed by a fighting 3-3 draw with Japan. Sebastian Ryall opened the scoring only for goals in quick succession to put Japan 2-1 up by the break. Jason Naidovski equalised, Japan regained the lead before Marco Jesic netted in stoppage time to snatch a point. Australia rounded out their campaign with a 1-0 win over China courtesy of Jason Naidovski's 3rd minute effort. Despite the win Australia finished with the bronze medal behind Japan on goal difference and gold medallists Korea.
MAGDIC STEPS UP AT GLORY
Josip Magdic's A-League career was in danger of ending before it started until coach Ron Smith handed the midfielder a late opportunity in the closing stages of the season. Prior to Perth Glory's outings this month against Melbourne Victory and Newcastle United Jets, 21-year old Magdic had 45 minutes of national league football to show for countless hours on the training track. It looked as though he was destined to become a forgotten man before he was even known by the majority of fans.
But a strong performance as a second-half substitute in the 2-2 draw with Melbourne coupled with a terrific display in last weekend's 3-3 draw with the Jets have showed what Madgic has to offer Glory. His powerful strike clattered the crossbar and gave captain Jamie Harnwell the opportunity to put Glory into a 2-1 lead against the Jets, before Magdic surprised even himself with a crisp volley that seemed to have put the home team into an unassailable lead. "You dream about things like that - coming on and setting up a goal and scoring one," Magdic said.
The reality, though, is not lost on Magdic who joined Glory on a one-year deal from Floreat Athena before Smith's appointment a month before the season began. "I'm happy I got a chance and showed the supporters a bit of what I can do. You don't want to play for a club and no one knows who you are," Magdic said. The attacking midfielder hopes to get one final chance to stake his claim for a spot in Glory's squad for next season, in New Zealand on Sunday.
MILLER EXCITED BY COCKBURN CHALLENGE
When Scott Miller stepped down from a long and successful national league career he promised to put something back into the game at the local level. Never one to go back on his word, Miller turned out for Sorrento last year and was integral in the northern suburbs gaining their second Premier League title in six years. For 2007 the one-time Socceroo has returned to the club at which he started, Cockburn City, where he'll draw upon his vast knowledge and experiences in his role as first team coach.
For Miller, the chance to lead Cockburn was simply too good to pass up. "I'm really excited about coaching the club," he said. "I'm under no illusions - it will be tough - but the opportunity to come back home and coach is fantastic. In a perfect world I would've liked a year off to get more experience under my belt, but what an opportunity for me to coach this club. Hopefully the guy's can do well, i guess if they don't I'll be watching from the other side of the fence!"
Last season Cockburn finished third, edged out of the runners-up spot by Stirling Lions on goal difference, and Miller takes into the new campaign much the same set of players. "We've got everyone back from last year, which is great," he explained. "In addition, Liam Lilly is on the mend after missing all of last season, both the De Felice brothers (Dom and Mario) are back after suffering injuries that curtailed their participation last year and Johnny Mirco is champing at the bit … so in a way we have four new players."
"Cockburn is not a club like Perth who are fortunate enough to attract highly experienced players to their club, much like Bobby (Despotovski) has done at Inglewood," Miller added. "We've never been the sort of club to go out and chase players. The one thing that has pleased me is the players want to be here, they're not doing it for money or anything ... to me we are already ahead because the players are here for the love of the game."
Winning the championship with Sorrento last season provided Miller the perfect end to a glittering career. "I promised Derek Harnwell, Jamie's dad, that once I finished with Glory I'd have a season at Sorrento and I honoured that commitment, " he explained. "It was probably the best thing I could have done. The boys there were brilliant and the team spirit got us through on many occasions. Steve Neville and Willie Grub worked the boys well, they knew when to push the guys hard and when sheer passion would be enough. I'd say it was one of the most enjoyable seasons I've ever had in football."
In a national league career that spanned twelve years Miller got to experience all the high and lows of the game. But when asked what his most cherished memory was he didn't need to think long. "I was lucky enough to score a goal on the same day as the birth of my daughter, something most players don't have the opportunity to do," he said. "It was also my first goal of the year and the players celebrated with me which was very special." Few who were at Perth Oval that January 2000 afternoon will forget Miller's celebration after netting in Glory's 7-2 thrashing of Brisbane Strikers.
Miller picked out a number of other highlights from 290 game national league career for Glory and Morwell Falcons. "My first year at Morwell was great as it was the first time they had reached the finals," he said. "To eventually win a Grand Final for the Glory was fantastic and a huge relief for the players, especially after losing a couple before. But to be honest every home game we won was highlight for me - the crowds were brilliant, and it was like you were winning an FA Cup final every other week."
During his time as a player Miller was privileged enough to be under the tutelage of some of the best coaches to ply their trade in Western Australia. "I'm a bit biased but my dad has one of the greatest football minds I've ever known. He analyses every game and I'm really lucky to have him to learn from," he said. "I learnt a lot of Eric Williams when I was coming up through the ranks, and I thought Gary Marocchi, tactically, was the best coach I've ever been with, so I learnt a little bit from him."
"Personally, Alan Vest was great as he taught me how to be a defender," Miller continued. "I used to run around chasing the ball and kicking people, let's just say there was a lot of room for improvement. But Alan taught me to defend, physically, mentally and tactically. Both Mich d'Avary and Steve McMahon had good training drills, and add to that Bernd Stange who had all the charisma to go with the job. I’ve learnt a little from them all and hope to draw it all together this year at Cockburn City."
GLORY DREAM COMES TRUE FOR RUKAVYTSYA
The rise to national league ranks has been swift for young striker Nikita Rukavytsya. A few months ago the 19-year old was nearing the end of a two-year scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport. Upon returning to Perth he was invited to train with Perth Glory and when midfielder Naum Sekulovski was placed on the long-term injury list Rukavytsya accepted a short-term deal with the club. With a couple of A-League appearances now under his belt Rukavytsya is determined to make the most of his opportunity.
Born and raised in the Ukraine, Rukavytsya arrived in Australia five years ago and instantly fell in love with Glory. So it was no surprise that he jumped at the opportunity to join the club when it arose. “I always came to watch Glory and I thought ‘yeah, I would really love to play one day for the Glory’,” Rukavytsya explained. “I’ve been training at the Australian Institute of Sport and just trying to get better every day and hopefully get there one day, but I never thought it (a chance to play in the A-League) would come this soon.”
Rukavytsya has been forced to the bench in both appearances for Glory due to cramp and said the A-League was ‘a lot quicker and sharper’ than the local Premier League. Rukavytsya will return to the local scene following this weekend’s game at New Zealand Knights to spend the winter months with Perth S.C. and, hopefully, earn a full-time contract with Glory for next season. “I’m just trying to do my best on the park and hopefully something will work out.”
COBWEBS SHAKEN OUT IN FRIENDLY SERIES
Preparations for the coming season were last night taken up a notch for four teams. Armadale, Fremantle Spirit, Mandurah City and Rockingham City took to the field for a pre-season friendly tournament at Alfred Skeet Oval. All four coaches used the competition as a way of experimenting with line-ups and formations ahead of the Night Series which commences in just over a week. The friendly tournament comes to a conclusion on Saturday evening when Mandurah face Rockingham (5.00pm) followed by Armadale and Fremantle (7.00pm).
The opening match last night saw Premier League newcomer Fremantle up against First Division outfit Mandurah City who fielded a young and inexperienced team. With neither sides able to break through in regulation time, penalties were required with Fremantle claiming victory. "The game was about blooding new young players and getting a bit of fitness in legs," said Fremantle president Carlos Correia. "It was a good work out with players putting in the hard yards to impress coaching staff."
In the late fixture, Armadale, under the charge of Billy Russell, squared off with Rockingham City who had Mike Brazil in the hot seat for the first time. Armadale struck twice in the first half, the opener coming via a Darren Kingston lob with youngster Ryan Pearson sealing the win with a typical penetrating run. Pearson, the hat-trick hero in last seasons Cup final, gave Russell plenty of food for thought with a lively display.
KNIGHTS EYE TITLE IN ANNIVERSARY YEAR
It promises to be a big year for Western Knights who'll be lead for a tenth successive year by the successful team of Ronnie Campbell and Willie Kelly. Since taking up the reigns in 1997 Campbell and Kelly have guided the Knights to a host of silverware and gained a top five placing in each of the past nine seasons. As way of marking their tenth anniversary at the club the pair have set their sights on adding a third Premier League title to those won in 1998 and 2004. "We were disappointed to finish fifth last year and are aiming to better than by winning the League" said Campbell confidently.
Stability has been one of the Knights greatest assets in recent years and they head into the new season with much the same squad as last year. "We've really only lost Evan Wallace, he was going to retire at the end of last season but that was brought forward when he picked up a serious knee injury," said the coach. "We've signed two players from Swan, Jon Mathers and Scott Campbell, along with Scott Bushby from Joondalup and have Andrija Jukic back after a season overseas. We're glad to have them all on board and I think we've got a squad capable of finishing at the top."
High on the Knights wish list for 2007 is to have Daniel Trim and Stuart Montgomery available for the full length of the season. "Daniel is the most under-rated player in the league. He's outstanding, he can play in a midfield role or up front but unfortunately he works away a lot," stated assistant coach Kelly. "Monty's a complex character ... sometimes he's hard to handle but that's what makes him the great player that he is. He's very dangerous inside the box and without a doubt has been one of the best centre forwards in the competition for the past few years."
Amongst the highlights of last season was the outstanding form of Tommi Tomich and Paul Cooke. Tomich's form between the posts earned him a national league deal with Perth Glory while Cooke claimed the Gold Medal as the State League's player of the year. "Tommi has been a very consistent 'keeper over the last couple of years and it's great to see him with Glory because he deserves a national league placing," said Kelly. "Paul's development has been very good, he's always had the potential and last year everything came together for him. There's still a few things he's got to work on but it was an excellent performance from Paul last season."
Another of the positives to come out of 2006 was the number of youngsters who were given an opportunity to strut their stuff for the Knights. "I think that's one of the exciting things about this year, we've got a lot of young good players who have proved that they are good enough," said Campbell. "They got the opportunities last year because of injuries to experienced players and I think this year some of them will be able to cement a first team spot. We'd like to have younger players in the first team if possible, but obviously you've got to have the blend of experience as well."
Since emigrating from Scotland in 1980 Campbell has experienced all the highs and lows the game has to offer, initially as a player and in more recent times as coach. "The first couple of years I played at Perth Azzurri alongside Willie was absolutely fantastic," he said. "We won the League, the Night competition and the Cup. We went through the 1981 season undefeated in the League and that for me was the highlight. I was also won three League titles with Stirling Macedonia, and was fortunate to play national league for Preston Makedonia and Heidelberg. And to coach the Knights for ten years with a lot of success has been an absolute honour."
In 2004 Campbell was inducted into the Western Australian Football Hall of Fame as one of the State's best one hundred players of the century. "Yeah that was nice, my dad and my brother came over from Scotland for that. It's always nice to be acknowledged and if there was more recognition and respect shown here the game would be better for it," said Campbell before Kelly interjected. "Ronnie's said the magic word respect. We speak about it all the time and for the game to progress we've got to start respecting eachother as players, coaches, referees and administrators, and get things on a level playing field because it's a great game and that is what it deserves."
LET'S TALK FOOTBALL LAUNCHED
Underscoring its position as Perth's premier sport destination, 90.5FM today announced a new weekly football program for news, views and previews of the world game from here and around the globe. Hosted by Eamon Duffy, Mo Caplin, Stuart Horton, Scari Morales and Tom Niedrich, 'Let's Talk Football' makes it 90.5FM debut this Sunday, 21st January, from 6.00pm and will continue every Sunday there after.
The team will look at the Football West State League, the A-League, England's Premier League, the Italian Serie A, the Primera Liga from Spain, Germany's Bundesliga as well as carry news from South America, France and Asia. Through 'Let's Talk Football' 90.5FM now offers the most comprehensive coverage of local and world football in Western Australia. For more information visit the exciting new 'Let's Talk Football' website.
DESPOTOVSKI VOWS TO REMAIN A GLORY BOY
Perth Glory's greatest ever player, Bobby Despotovski, refuses to view his retirement as a sad occasion. The veteran striker enjoyed his 241st match in Perth Glory colours - a dramatic 3-3 draw with Newcastle United Jets - and has no intentions to now walk away from the club. "I'm not going to run out and play with the boys again, but at the end of the day I'll be here every Sunday supporting the boys," Despotovski said. "If the club wants me to help in any way, shape or form, I'll be here with bells on. I will not be lost to the game."
Despotovski, capped by four times by Australia and last seasons' A-League player of the year, said he was looking forward to the next phase of his career in which he'll take on first team coaching responsibilities at Inglewood United during the coming winter. "I had five or six different coaches in my twelve years here at Perth and I've learnt from every single one of them different things which I will hopefully transfer to my players at Inglewood in the state league," he said.
Coach Ron Smith labelled 35-year old Despotovski a special talent. "I think Bob's been an inspiration to a lot of people over the years. He's enthusiastic, committed to the game and to the Perth Glory and he's had a fabulous career," Smith said. "He's got the best awareness I've seen for a long, long time, if not ever, of where people are and how to find them. That's a special talent, it really is. To be able to not only see people, but to find them, shows he has an all-round technique. It's been a pleasure working with him this year, it really has."
SLOPPY DEFENDING COSTS GLORY AS JET NICK A POINT
A couple of stoppage late strikes by Joel Griffiths allowed Newcastle United Jets to snatch a 3-3 draw and gatecrash Perth Glory's farewell celebrations for Bobby Despotovski this evening at Members Equity Stadium. "I'm gutted because it would have been great if Bobby could have gone out with a win, we could have done with a win and restored a bit of pride," commented coach Ron Smith. The result ensures Glory will end the season in seventh position regardless of the outcome of next weekend's clash with bottom-placed New Zealand Knights.
Played in oppressive heat, Glory created the first opportunity through a Simon Colosimo free-kick which David Tarka headed back across goal only to have Ante Covic snaffle possession. However, it would be the Jets who'd draw first blood when, on 12 minutes, Mark Bridge's shot was blocked by Tommi Tomich and sloppy defending allowed an unchecked Nick Carle to put away the follow-up. Carle was featuring prominently for the visitors and he combined with Joel Griffiths whose cross from the right was pulled wide by Milton Rodriguez. Colosimo did his best to lift the home side with a fine cross that Jamie Harnwell flicked on to Ante Kovacevic whose shot rose narrowly over the crossbar.
As the half came to a close Glory began to assert themselves with Colosimo pulling the strings. David Micevski fed the ball to Colosimo who side-stepped an opponent before unleashing a low shot that flashed the wrong side of the post. The teams were brought level in the 43rd minute when Jade North handled a cross from Adrian Webster, and from the spot Colosimo slotted past Covic who managed to get a hand on the shot but couldn't keep it out. Rodriguez was presented with a golden opportunity to restore the Jets advantage following a poor clearance by Tomich who redeemed himself by smothering at the feet of the visiting striker.
The biggest cheer of the day came upon the resumption of play when Despotovski took to the field for his final appearance in the purple shirt. Glory pressed early with Nikita Rukavytsya heading just past the post, and shortly after the young striker fired straight at Covic when well placed. Newcastle should have re-taken the lead moments later as Rodriguez' perfectly weighted through ball was seized upon by Mark Bridge whose shot was too close to Tomich. Chances presented at both ends as Leo Bertos' effort was blocked and a back post header by North was tipped away by Tomich.
The pendulum swung in Glory's favour on 76 minutes as a fierce strike by substitute Josip Madgic cannoned off the underside of the bar and Harnwell reacted quickest by poking the rebound past Covic. The home side looked to have wrapped up the points three minutes later when Magdic brilliantly volleyed past the 'keeper from Bertos' delivery to make it three-one. However, the Jets were given a way back into the game when poor defending allowed Griffiths to tap into the after Tomich parried a shot from Carle in the first minute of stoppage time. Glory again went to sleep at the back on 94 minutes as North's low cross into a crowded area was converted at close-range by Griffiths.
VELAPHI STARS AS ROAR TAKE THE POINTS
Teenage goalkeeper Tando Velaphi will long remember his first game of national league football. Velaphi, on loan from Perth S.C., turned in a man of the match display as Queensland Roar kept their finals dream alive with a 2-1 win over Melbourne Victory last night at the Testra Dome. "It was pretty intense, wasn't it," Velaphi commented minutes after the final whistle. "It was just great to get the win. I knew I felt good in the warm-up but sometimes that doesn't mean you always play well. But I knew if I could get through the first twenty minutes I would probably be okay."
Frank Farina, coach of Roar, was full of praise for the 19-year old Velaphi who only had a single training session to acquaint himself with his new teammates. After his string of spectacular saves Farina predicted Velaphi would be a first-choice 'keeper in the A-League as soon as next season. "He did himself a huge favour tonight in terms of his career - he was outstanding," said Farina. "Perth are signing him next season and they’ve got a fantastic acquisition ... it would be surprising if he’s not their first-choice keeper next year."
Velaphi's busy night began just minutes after kick-off when he pushed wide Adrian Caceres' sweetly struck shot, and from the resulting corner he kept out a close-range Kevin Muscat header. Later in the half Danny Allsop and Caceres were both denied by the Australian youth international, while after the break he handled well a long range effort from Kristian Sarkies. With the game tied up at one apiece Leigh Broxham brought the best out of Velaphi who then moved swiftly to thwart Socceroo Archie Thompson.
END OF AN ERA AS DESPOTOVSKI BOWS OUT
The final scene in the glittering career of Bobby Despotovski will be played out this weekend when he pulls on the boots for the last time. Despotovski, the sole remaining member of Perth Glory's inaugural squad, will farewell the club's loyal supporters when he takes the field for Sunday's meeting with Newcastle United Jets at Members Equity Stadium. The veteran striker has battled ongoing back problems this season and after two operations feels the time is right for retirement.
Despotovski has no regrets concerning his colourful, and at times controversial, 264-game national league career. "In the last twelve years I had fun and I would not change one bit in my career," he reflected. "That's the good thing about it, I have nothing to regret what I did in my career, good or bad. Every game that I played I tried to put 120 per cent in it, and that's all you can ask. When I played I think we won more games than we lost, simple as that, and I'm proud of that."
While Despotovski leaves the game with many cherished memories - amongst them two Grand Final victories and a handful of appearances for Australia - the 35-year old says it's 'friendship between the players' that he'll miss the most. "We won Championship's and (I've been) voted best player and stuff, I will miss that, but at the end of the day it's the things that you do after the game and before the game ... funny things with the players on the plane (that I will miss the most)," Despotovski said.
A coaching role with Inglewood United will ease Despotovski into the next stage of his career which, at a later date, may include a return to Glory. "I'm going to walk away from the game but I'm not going to walk away from the club," he said. "If the club wants me to get involved in any way possible I'll be available to the club, that's not a problem. I've learned a lot from different coaches that we've had at the club in the last ten years and hopefully, with my experience, I can give something to the younger players."
Born in Perth but raised in Yugoslavia, Despotovski initially made his mark on the local scene with Floreat Athena. Successive seasons at Heidelberg United and Morwell Falcons gave him a taste for national league football but his career really only took off after joining Glory in 1996. Over ten seasons Despotovski played a club record 240 games, scored a staggering 113 goals and won four Most Glorious Player awards.
Despotovski played a key role in Glory finishing top of the national league table on three occasions and was a vital ingredient in the back-to-back Grand Final successes of 2002/03 and 2003/04. He was called up for national duty in mid-2002 and in four Socceroo appearances put away five goals. At the conclusion of the inaugural A-League season Despotovski collected the Johnny Warren Medal as the competitions best player.
BRIGHT KEEN ON MANDURAH CHALLENGE
The recruitment of exciting young midfielder Jeff Bright has strengthened Mandurah City's stocks ahead of the coming season. Bright, a State representative, joins Mandurah on a one-year loan agreement from top flight outfit Perth S.C. "I had a fantastic couple of years with Perth, they're a great bunch of people but I live and work near Mandurah so it only made sense that I play down that way," Bright explained. "I'm only on loan and would jump at the chance to return to Perth if they needed me."
Bright is looking forward to the challenge ahead with Mandurah. "Our squad is good enough to push for a spot in the Premier League," he said. "There are far too many players who, like myself, travel from Mandurah to Perth to play in the Premier League, and if the club were to get to promoted it might keep a few of them down here. Mandurah have a lot of potential, a good coach in Stuart Currie and a new stadium, and I'll be doing all I can to help them get into the Premier League."
VELAPHI SET TO MAKE A-LEAGUE DEBUT
Queensland Roar has flown in teenager Tando Velaphi to replace suspended goalkeeper Liam Reddy for tomorrow night's A-League clash with Melbourne Victory at Telstra Dome. Velaphi, selected for Australia's under-23 squad earlier this week, is a member of the Perth S.C. squad and has been released by the club on a gentleman's agreement to cover Reddy's suspension. "All reports are that Tando is the best young 'keeper coming through and although he's young he does look the goods. He will help us out while Liam is suspended and hopefully the experience will do him good as well," said Roar coach Frank Farina. Queensland are one point out of the top four with two matches remaining and must the runaway league leader to shore up their finals hopes.
SCALI CONFIDENT OF NEW SEASON SUCCESS
Swan I.C. have condemned the heartbreak of last season to history as preparations for the coming winter swing into full gear. Coach Carlo Scali takes great pride in the successes of 2006 which he says indicate the club is on their way up. "The first team may have faded late in the season but we qualified for the Cup final and improved on the previous season in terms of points gained. Our Under-23's were League and Cup runners-up, and the Under-18's finished in fifth spot and only a few points away from second. It shows the depth of the club at present and on the overall League table, were all three teams' results are calculated, we finished second behind Sorrento."
The signing of State defender Aaron Cole and return of Dom Ando, Justin Hugo and Danyal Bennett has Scali excited about his sides' prospects this year. "It's great to get Aaron down to the club, he's a quality player and one of the best defenders in the league," commented the coach. "He'll give us stability at the back and bring a whole new level of confidence to the team. Added to that is that we've got the likes of Dom, Justin and Danyal back who missed much of last year due to injury and work commitments so all in all we're in good shape for the new season."
The club's junior set-up is also coming on in leaps and bounds according to president Cos Conigilo. "Colin Carnachan and John Ralph have done a great job to bring the right people to the club," he said. "They have brought some talented coaches to Swan, and we've also added two coordinators who will work closely with Carlo and the rest of the senior coaches to progress the boys to senior football when they are ready. It's been great to see Carlo, Paul Lincoln and a number of first team players getting involved in the training of the young lads."
CAIRNS GIVEN TASK OF REVIVING PHOENIX
South West Phoenix have confirmed former State captain Michael Cairns as first team coach for the coming season. Cairns' appointment is a major boost to the Bunbury-based club as they seek to improve on a disappointing 2006 campaign that produced just three wins from twenty starts. It'll be Cairns second time at the helm of Phoenix having coached the club to fourth place in 2005. On that occasion he showed an eye for talent by promoting 16-year olds Patrick Quinn, Jacob King and Robert Milligan to regular first team football.
Cairns is no stranger to the State League having forged a successful playing and coaching career . As a player he represented the State and collected League and Cup winners' medals while wearing East Fremantle Tricolore, Floreat Athena and Spearwood Dalmatinac colours. Upon hanging up his boot Cairns moved into coaching with Ferndale United whom he lead to the First Division title in 1992. He switched to Swan I.C. the following season and was successful in guiding the black and whites into the top flight. Cairns was assistant coach for the State teams outings with Sheffield United, West Ham United and Nottingham Forest amongst others.
NEW APPROACH TO NIGHT SERIES
Football West have adopted a fresh approach towards the Night Series with games in the Premier League and First Division/Amateur competitions played back-to-back at the same venue. Each round of the pre-season tournament will open with a First Division/Amateur game followed by a fixture in the Premier League series. Additionally, hosting of the upcoming Night Series will be shared by amongst three venues - Litis Stadium, Alfred Skeet Oval and Edith Cowan University in Joondalup.
All twelve clubs will take part in the Premier League Night Series which features two groups of six in the initial qualifying stage. Group A is made up of Armadale, Cockburn City, Floreat Athena, newly promoted Fremantle Spirit, Inglewood United and E.C.U. Joondalup. Trophy holder Perth S.C. are in Group B along with Premier League champions Sorrento, Cup holder Stirling Lions, Swan I.C., Wanneroo City and Western Knights.
The First Division/Amateur Night Series features seventeen clubs split into four groups. Pooled together in Group A are Bayswater City, Gosnells City, Morley Windmills and Stirling Panthers from the amateurs. Group B consists of Canning City, Mandurah City, South West Phoenix and amateur club Southern Spirit. Ashfield, Ashfield Reserves, Balcatta, Dianella White Eagles and amateur side Kingsway Olympic make up Group C. Battling it out in Group D will be amateur giants Murdoch University, Queens Park, Queens Park Reserves and Rockingham City.
The 2007 Night Series kicks off on Saturday 27th January with games at two venues. Alfred Skeet Oval hosts Dianella White Eagles against Ashfield Reserves (6.30pm) and Armadale verses Cockburn City (8.30pm). The action at Edith Cowan University in Joondalup opens with Ashfield and Kingsway Olympic (6.30pm) followed by Fremantle Spirit and Inglewood United (8.30pm). Games are then scheduled for every Friday and Sunday evening with the final group stage matches taking place on Friday 16th March.
The top two ranked teams from the Premier League groups will progress to the semi-finals, while the winner of each First Division/Amateur group will go through to the last four of that tournament. The round of four is scheduled for Sunday 18th March at Litis Stadium (Premier League) and Alfred Skeet Oval (First Division/Amateur) with both series deciders taking place seven days later at Litis Stadium. The full draw, including venues and kick-off times, can be found on the 2007 Night Series page.
MICEVSKI, VELAPHI SELECTED FOR OLYMPIC CAMP
David Micevski and Tando Velaphi have been called up for next weeks' three-day camp at the Australian Institute of Sport. The camp will provide Australian under-23 coach Robert Baan an opportunity to work with the squad before the first qualifying games for the 2008 Olympic tournament next month. "This training camp will be mostly about getting to know the players, their strengths and their weaknesses and then formulate a strategy for our first matches against Chinese Taipei," said Baan. Australia's quest to qualify for the Beijing Olympics commences with a home and away preliminary play-off against Chinese Taipei on 7th and 14th February.
MIDDLESBROUGH FUTURE IN DOUBT FOR JONES
The Middlesbrough future of goalkeeper Brad Jones is clouded as he enters the final six months of his current contract. Jones has been mentioned as part of a swap offer tabled by Boro manager Gareth Southgate to West Bromwich Albion for their Hungarian midfielder Zoltan Gera. Talk of Jones departure was further fueled when it was revealed Czech Republic club FC Brno turned down an offer from Middlesbrough for shot-stopper Martin Lejsal. Jones has played for Middlesbrough on just 24 occasions since joining the club in 2000 with much of his time spend as understudy to Socceroos number one Mark Schwarzer. He's made an additional 59 appearances while on loan to Stockport County, Rotherham United, Blackpool and Sheffield Wednesday.
GLORY SQUANDER LEAD AS VICTORY STEAL POINT
Perth Glory let three valuable points slip through their fingers as Melbourne Victory came from behind to draw 2-2 in this evenings A-League clash at Members Equity Stadium. A Jamie Harnwell header and an own goal from Mark Burns earned Glory a two-goal lead which was eroded in the second half by a Kristian Sarkies double. "Once again, from our own inadequacies we dropped points," said a disappointed coach Ron Smith after the game. "In a way that has been a bit of a reflection throughout the when we could have had points."
The hot and humid conditions made for an even start in which the first chance had Harnwell head high from a Mimi Saric cross after 6 minutes. Melbourne looked ragged and with passes often going stray they struggled over the opening stanza. Glory threatened again when Simon Colosimo sent Leo Bertos clear but his shot was blocked by goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic and in the scramble that followed neither Bertos not Harnwell could capitalise. This sparked the visitors into life and Sarkies unleashed a long-range bomb that Tommi Tomich pushed away at full stretch.
Harnwell was making a nuisance of himself inside the 18-yard box and on 28 minutes was rewarded with the games first goal. A terrific diagonal cross into the area by Mark Lee saw Harnwell climb above Mark Byrnes to head over the outstretched gloves of Galekovic. Melbourne looked for a quick response with Steve Pantelidis heading narrowly high from an Adrian Caceres corner. With half-time approaching Glory doubled their lead in bizarre circumstances when Lee's in-swinging cross from th eleft was sliced into the net by the unfortunate Byrnes.
Glory were firing on all cylinders upon the restart with substitute Josip Magdic having an immediate impact with several driving runs forward. Melbourne re-shuffled their line-up following the introduction of Leigh Broxham and in teh 59th minute Grant Brebner was afforded too much room on the edge of the area to rifle off a shot which came back off the post for Sarkies to net the rebound. Nikita Rukavytsya went close moments later for the hosts by cutting in from the right only to shoot straight at Galekovic. Glory weren't without their chances to restore the two-goal buffer but Rukavytsya again shot at the 'keeper while Lee fired wide after good lead-up work involving Harnwell and Mark Webster.
The day went from bad to worse for Byrnes when he was issued a second yellow card for a crude tackle on Harnwell after 72 minutes. However, the visitors heads didn't drop and four minutes later Broxham was upended just outside the area, and with the resulting free-kick Sarkies delightfully curled the ball past a stranded Tomich to level the game. Glory pushed hard to snatch a late winner with openings coming the way of David Tarka, Webster and Magdic, however, Galekovic took tall between the posts to ensure the champions-elect extended their lead to thirteen points.
SMITH CONSIDERS RECRUITMENT OPTIONS
Ron Smith will cast his recruitment net far and wide for what he hopes will be a more productive second season on the west coast. The Perth Glory boss has already identified a handful of players he'd like to bring to the club for the summer of 2007/08 with promising Melbourne Victory midfielder Kristian Sarkies at the top of his list. Billy Celeski may make a surprise return to the club while plans to boost Glory's local contingent may spell good news for Nikita Rukavytsya, Dino Djulbic and goalkeeper Tando Velaphi.
Sarkies, who was in the Socceroos train-on squad at the World Cup, has been used sparingly by Melbourne Victory and is out of contract at the end of the campaign. "I think he's a very talented player and he's one we've looked at," said Smith. However, Sarkies could yet be offered new terms by Victory and scuppering Glory's bid before it gets off the ground. Celeski made 19 appearances for Glory last season only to be released and play the winter months with Victorian State League side Bulleen Zebras.
19-year old Rukavytsya made his A-League debut on the weekend after agreeing a short-term deal with the club. Born and raised in the Ukraine, the promising striker moved to Perth five years ago and has been at the Australian Institute of Sport since 2005. Smith has been impressed by defender Dino Djulbic who is fresh from a stint in Victoria with South Melbourne. "I've been very pleased with Dino in training and I'll be having a chat with him about his future," said the coach. Velaphi, an Australian youth international, has also caught the eye during his recent trials.
STEELE OFFERS 'KEEPERS UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY
The art of goalkeeping is something that comes naturally to former English professional Eric Steele. Following a senior career which took him to Newcastle United, Peterborough United, Brighton and Hove Albion, Watford and Derby County, the former England youth international has switched his attention to developing the skills of young goalkeepers the world over through the 'Eric Steele Coaching Services'. "The course will show participants the importance of good technique allied to an appreciation of understanding the role of the goalkeeper in the team," commented Steele who brings the course to Perth next week. "It'll also impress upon the young keeper's the importance of being mentally strong, which is vital in football today."
Memories of a successful playing career come thick and fast for Steele on the eve of his trip down under. "Representing England was a very proud moment for me and anyone involved in sport. Gaining six promotions with various clubs will always be a proud achievement," he commented. "But there are two highlights that stand out. The first was winning promotion to the Premier League for Brighton on the final game of the season at my home town club Newcastle. The other would be successive promotions with Derby County to the Premier League. Derby holds a special place in my career as I still live in the area, the fans are loyal and something special and I returned to win a further promotion as a coach with Steve McClaren and Jim Smith."
Since hanging up his playing boots in 1988 Steele has worked with some of the biggest goalkeepers in Europe. "I have been fortunate throughout my career to work with some good 'keepers and great characters, ranging from current England number one Paul Robinson to former Manchester United 'keeper Peter Schmeichel and young 'keepers Lee Grant and Lee Camp at Derby. However, the one that gave me the most in terms of personal satisfaction would be Mart Poom, currently with Arsenal. When he arrived at Derby he was a raw recruit from Estonia but helped establish the club in the top eight of the Premier League. He had limited natural talent but was a good listener and was prepared to work at his game, which is a lesson to all."
Limited places are still available in the Elite Goalkeeper course which commences this weekend. Steele, who possesses an UEFA A Goalkeeping Licence and is an English FA Goalkeeping Instructor, will be accompanied by Perth Glory's Mark Lee in hosting the clinics at Wesley College in South Perth. The cost of attending the specialist course is $100 with clinics being offered on Sunday 14th (players aged 8 to 12), Tuesday 16th (13 years plus) and Wednesday 17th January (senior). To register your interest download and complete the form on the Football West website.
RUKAVYTSYA GETS OPPORTUNITY TO SHINE
Exciting young striker Nikita Rukavytsya may get an immediate taste of A-League action when Melbourne Victory visit town on Sunday. Perth Glory will sign the former Australian Institute of Sport scholarship holder as a replacement for Naum Sekulovski after he was placed on the injury list. "I've been impressed with him in training," Smith said of the 19-year old. "He's very mobile and he's not afraid to take people on and have a shot. I just think under the circumstances it's a good opportunity for us to have a look at him and I'm sure he'll pull his weight."
Glory will see out the season minus Sekulovski and Stan Lazaridis after both opted to have niggling injuries operated on. Sekulovski is to have surgery to correct a shoulder injury with Lazaridis undergoing the knife for a troublesome groin. Lazaridis, whose first season with the club has been hampered by injury, is contracted for another season, while Sekulovski's deal will expire in June. E.C.U. Joondalup midfielder Mark Lee has agreed to remain with Glory until the end of the season after being offered an extension to his short-term deal.
COACHES FIRST STEP TO ROCKINGHAM’S REVIVAL
Rockingham City have unveiled their new season coaching team of Mike Brazil, Ian Clarke and Mike Tetlow. Brazil, a former State youth team coach, takes up the first team reigns following a turbulent 2006 season for the club. Clarke steps up to reserve team duties after leading the Under-18's to second place last season with Tetlow replacing him at the helm of the youth side. The trio will pass on a wealth of knowledge and experience as Rockingham lay the foundations for future success.
For Tetlow it'll be the third time he's aided the development of Rockingham's youth. "I live in the area and at this time of my coaching career it would be good to give something back to the club that give me my first opportunity way back in 1983," he explained. "I've had a break and I'm ready to start a fresh at Rockingham." Tetlow's initial stay with the club saw him take the Under-17's to second position on the table. Greater success followed in 1993 when Rockingham's Reserves won the Premier League and Top Four titles under Tetlow's tutelage.
Keen develop depth for the coming season, Tetlow wants to see as many players trial for Rockingham's under-18 side over the coming month. "Any player 15, 16 or 17 years of age who lives in the Rockingham area and wants to try out for us can contact me on 0412 188 701. Trials will be held over the next three to four weeks at Dowling Street Reserve," explained Tetlow. The progression of several of last seasons youth side to reserve team football has opened the door for a fresh intake of teenagers at Rockingham.
TOMICH HUMBLED BY EXPERIENCE
It may have been a meteoric rise to national league ranks for Tommi Tomich but the 26-year old is taking nothing for granted. Tomich started the season training with Perth Glory on a casual basis and jumped at the opportunity of an A-League contract when regular goalkeeper Jason Petkovic broke his leg in October. An initial four-week deal was extended until the end of the season after Tomich proved himself to be of national league standard through a string of standout performances for Glory.
Tomich made his A-League debut against Melbourne Victory in Round Twelve and last week earned his first clean sheet in Glory's scoreless draw with Adelaide United. Tomich admitted he did not expect to receive the opportunity to play in the A-League this season, but jumped at the chance when it presented. "My aim was always to play in the A-League, whether it be here or anywhere else ... football's a funny game, one day you are in the State League, the next day you're in the A-League."
Although committed to making a name for himself in Australia, Tomich harbours the ambition of one day playing abroad. "It's always been a dream to play overseas," he said. "My first aim was to play in Australia. I thought if I can't make it in Australia, I haven't got much chance of making it over in Europe. I'm only 26 so you never know ... You can never stop improving. I'm one of those people who just want to improve every aspect of my game. You can't think that you know everything, I reckon until your 30-plus you keep learning," he said.
Coach Ron Smith has hinted at various times in recent weeks that Tomich was likely to be retained for next season but for now the custodian is just concentrating on the remaining three games of the current campaign. "There's a lot of players coming out of contract so if I continue playing the way I do, hopefully, I have a good chance, but at the end of the day it's up to the club," Tomich said of his chances of remaining with Glory beyond his current contract.
MRDJA’S SEASON ENDED EARLY BY INJURY
Injury has ruled Nik Mrdja out of Central Coast Mariner's attempt to qualify for the A-League finals. A bruised heel suffered in last month's win over Perth Glory will keep the big striker sidelined for at least the next month, and with just three home and away fixtures regular season outings remaining it could spell the end of Mrdja's season. The Mariners are locked in a dog-fight with Newcastle United Jets and Queensland Roar for the fourth finals spot with just a single point separating the three clubs. It's been a frustrating year and a half for Mrdja who has been restricted to just six A-League appearances due to a series of knee and heel problems.
2006 ANOTHER RECORD BREAKER
Thanks to the support of the West Australian football family 2006 was another record breaking year for footballwa.net. The state's only independent football website continued to go from strength to strength by logging a grand total of 355,867 hits for the twelve month period commencing 1st January 2006. That figure by far eclipses the previous record tally of 305,463 registered in 2005, and shows just how far we have come since receiving 4,889 hits in 1998 - our first full year online. We would like to thank all readers of footballwa.net for making 2006 such an outstanding success.
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This page was last updated on the 28th February, 2007