PFA TO FIGHT FOR LAZARIDIS’ RIGHT TO TRAIN
The Professional Footballer’s Association will fight to ensure Stan Lazaridis can train with Perth Glory during any playing ban he may incur for testing positive to a banned substance. Players union boss Brendan Schwab said a difference in interpretation of Football Federation Australia rules may allow the veteran to prolong his career by remaining in the official training squad while sidelined. “It depends on how the law is interpreted during the hearing, because it can be taken to mean two different things,” Schwab said. Although the PFA chief executive could not explain what he would argue specifically, the new is a massive boost to Lazaridis’ hopes of playing on.
Lazaridis faces a maximum two-year ban for testing positive to a banned substance - finasteride - which the Glory winger used to treat a scalp condition. The PFA have vowed to vigorously defend their client at an upcoming hearing in the hope that Lazaridis can be part of the 2007/08 A-League season. While a backdated ban of twelve months would allow him to play the last third of the campaign, anything in excess of eighteen months is likely to end the former Socceroos’ playing days. Allowing Lazaridis to train with teammates and access the club’s facilities during a potential ban is seen as crucial in Lazaridis’ recovery from surgery for a serious groin injury.
DRAW MADE FOR SECOND ROUND OF CUP
The second round of the Soccer Pools sponsored association Cup was drawn this afternoon by Angie Horton from Lotterywest and Perth Glory player Naum Sevulovski. The pick of the action takes place at Peelwood Parade where First Division leader Mandurah City pit skills with E.C.U. Joondalup from the top flight. Fremantle Spirit verses Inglewood United makes for an interesting meeting at the Spanish Club, and Frank Drago Reserve hosts the traditional derby between Bayswater City and Swan I.C.
Night Series holder Perth S.C. meet defending Premier League champion Sorrento at Dorrien Gardens. Armadale and Dianella White Eagles square off at Alfred Skeet Oval, and Floreat Athena are home to Morley Windmills. Queens Park have a difficult away clash with Cockburn City, while the underdog tag has already been placed on South West Phoenix who travel to Stirling Lions. Round Two of the prestigious knock-out competition is scheduled for the afternoon of Saturday 2nd June.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND THREE (Stirling Lions vs Western Knights by Don Evans; Fremantle Spirit v Armadale by Beau Crompton)
Floreat Athena continued their unbeaten start to the season with a hard fought 3-1 victory against Cockburn City at Litis Stadium. The small crowd was treated to some enterprising early exchanges which opened with Domenic De Felice feeding possession to Jason Dos Santos whose low shot flashed wide. Josip Magdic orchestrated Floreat’s response but Branimir Mikulic should have done better than fire straight at goalkeeper Dino Pacella. Chances flowed at both ends of the park with Dean Wallace and Michael Mirco going close for the visitors, whereas Floreat’s best openings came the way of Mikulic and Boima Karpeh. A superb individual goal from Adam Bachillor broke the deadlock on the half hour, the Floreat player driving his way through midfield before beating Pacella with a low shot from 8-metres. Cockburn emerged from the break fired up and within eight minutes were back on level terms as the ever-impressive Jason Dos Santos’ cross from the right was volleyed in by Josh Kamasz. It took the hosts only four minutes to regain control through a long ball from John Migas which caught Cockburn napping at the back as Karpeh raced in to strike the ball past Pacella at his near post. Referee Ton Klaver pointed straight to the spot with an hour played after Migas brought down Dos Santos, but the opportunity went unconverted as Vas Vujacic kept out De Felice’s effort. Nine minutes later Madgic played down the left for Bachiller whose cross was tapped in at the back post by Paul Vatistas who’d come off the bench less than a minute earlier. With a little luck Floreat could have won by a greater margin as Karpeh fired wide when well placed and a long-range strike by Bachiller cannoned back of the crossbar.
E.C.U. Joondalup overcame a dogged Wanneroo City 1-0 in their third round fixture at the Joondalup campus of Edith Cowan University. It was a battling performance from Wanneroo who had goalkeeper Kevin Miller to thank for keeping them in the game with a string of saves which constantly frustrated the home attack. Joondalup dominated from the outset with Craig Young finding the side netting with an early strike on goal that resulted from a defensive error. Miller was never far from the action and on 22 minutes produced a fine double save to deny Mark Lee from close-range and then block the follow-up by Ian McMurray. The onslaught continued after the break with Miller tipping a long-range effort from Tommy Amphlett over the crossbar. Their persistence paid off in the 58th minute when Young's shot was blocked by Luke Croxall and the loose ball sat nicely for Mark Lee who made no mistake from 11-metres. A minor scuffle involving Young and Daniel Hendley raised the derby atmosphere with both issued yellow cards by young referee Troy Miller. A few minutes later Wanneroo went down to ten men with Hendley given his marching orders following a rash challenge on Martin Ashworth. Joondalup could have wrapped up the points in the 85th minute after great interplay between McMurray and Young saw the latter's shot fingertipped on to the post by Miller who gratefully clutched the rebound. Wanneroo almost snatched a point in the final minutes through a scramble inside the penalty area which saw Derek Cooke's shot cleared off the line and David Houston blasted the follow-up high of the bar.
Honours were shared at 1-1 between Stirling Lions and Western Knights in a classic encounter between two long-time foes at Macedonia Park. A big crowd was on hand as Stirling opened in an attacking frame of mind with young guns Ludo Boi and Phil Arnold leading the way. Boi’s electric pace created the games first opportunity when he dashed free to chip advancing goalkeeper Tommi Tomich who was pleased to see the ball drift wide. With David Price and Paul Cooke orchestrating some penetrating moves out of midfield, the Knights gained a free-kick just outside the area which Jon Higgins sizzled past the past on 26 minutes. The action was end to end as Arnold’s explosive shot on the run forced a terrific save from Tomich, and Scott Bushby went one-on-one with Phil Straker only to see his shot superbly blocked by the sprawling ‘keeper. Stirling threw caution to the wind in an attempt to go ahead but Andy Brown and Darko Ilomanoski were left wondering how they failed to get the ball over the line in a goalmouth scramble close to half-time. The Knights opened the second half on the attack and in the 65th minute were rewarded as Andrija Jukic’s in-swinging corner found the head of Daniel Trim who powerfully nodded into the net. Stirling’s response was swift and a great exchange between Boi and Arnold lead to David Dugdale putting away the equaliser within minutes. The fans were treated to an open and attacking finish as both sides went in search of a winning goal. David Annall’s shot on the turn just went wide, while at the opposite end a Kevin Henderson free-kick was magnificently tipped away by Tomich who, close to the final whistle, pushed Boi’s goalbound effort over the rossbar.
Mladen Kovacevic scored twice as Inglewood United came from behind to defeat Sorrento 3-1 at the Kiev Sports Ground. In a fast opening spell it was Inglewood who posed the greater threat as Mladen Kovacevic headed into the crossbar and Michael Baczynski was denied in a one-on-one by Neil Young. So it came as some surprise when Sorrento took the lead on 24 minutes when Todd Harnwell seized upon a poor clearance and expertly drew the defence before squaring for an unmarked Dejan Gurovski to dispatch the ball into the far top corner. With this the Gulls finally kicked into action with Harnwell and Gurovski were thwarted by the cat-like reflexes of Oliver Taseski in quick succession. Only a coat of paint prevented Sorrento from going to the break with a two-goal buffer after Gurovski's thunderbolt from 22-metres struck the underside of the crossbar and ricocheted to safety. The loss to injury of goalkeeper Young and Richard Watson at the break had an unsettling effect on the visitors and ten minutes after the restart Inglewood equalised through Mladen Kovacevic who nudged across the line a delicate far post cross from Daniel Kovacevic. With this the game opened up as the two midfields worked frantically to assert their influence over proceedings. With 77 minutes gone Dean Apelgren's shot struck the hand of Steve McDonald and referee Angelo Nardi controversially pointed straight to the spot from where Baczynski put Inglewood in front. All three points were secured five minutes from the end as Baczynski nodded the ball down to Mladen Kovacevic who, afforded time to pick his place, shot low past replacement ‘keeper Anthony Cochrane.
The points were sahred at the WA Spanish Club where Fremantle Spirit and Armadale fought out an entertaining 1-1 draw. The reason why both teams are tipped to be in the mix for relegation showed during the early stages with neither able to construct any meaningful chances. Cisco Jorquiera's through ball to Ray Rose created the first opportunity but with the goalkeeper to beat and a defender on his heels the Fremantle striker screwed his shot wide. The closet Armadale came to scoring was on 21 minutes when Ryan Pearson's tame shot from distance took an unusual hop and almost snuck between Steve Grant's legs. After a lacklustre opening stanza, the teams came out with different mindsets for the second half. The all important breakthrough came on 62 minutes when Rose latched on to a great cross from Jason Barrera to give the hosts a deserved lead. Within a minute Armadale were back on level terms when Pearson took advantage of some hesitant defending to poke in a loose ball from 5-metres. The goals breathed new life into the final twenty minutes as both teams rallied for the winner. Sharrock was quick off his line to diffuse the danger after Jorqueira beat the offside trap, however, the Fremantle attacker would take no further part in the game after colliding heavily with the 'keeper. With five minutes remaining as Fremantle were reduced to ten men with the dismissal of Sebastian Booysen for a second bookable offence. As the match headed into injury time one last chance came the way of Armadale as the ball fell to feet of Pearson and with only the 'keeper to beat the youngster crashed his shot into the underside of the crossbar and graciously into the arms of Grant.
Swan I.C. were given a footballing lesson as Perth S.C. ran out 6-0 winners in Sunday’s game at Dorrien Gardens. The better of early chances came from the visiting team for whom Aaron Cole headed over the crossbar at a corner, and David Perich’s long-range strike sizzled wide. But that was as good as it got for the black and whites as Robbie Puca, Antonio Naglieri and Todd Howarth began to flex their midfield muscle. Midway through the half Perth made their dominance count by netting twice in the space of a few minutes. The first on the scoreboard was defender Trent Kay who headed in from an Antonio Naglieri corner on 22 minutes, and shortly after a spectacular volley from 10-metres by Rukavytsya doubled the margin. Swan may have been shell-shocked but they pressed on regardless and Damien Catalano’s long-range strike forced a low save out of Gareth Deeg. Goal number three arrived for Perth right on the stroke of half-time when Puca was allowed space to advance on goal from the left and fire low past Hugo. This same pattern continued after the interval and Rukavytsya should have done better than shoot wide after being sent clear of the defence. Swan’s slim fight back chances were snuffed out on 55 minutes when Paul Baczynski was sent off by referee Steven Gregory for a second bookable offence. The difference became four goals in the 75th minute as substitute Barry Wood netted at the back post after Rukavytsya’s initial effort was parried by Hugo. Naglieri added himself to the scoresheet five minutes later by curling in a free-kick from the edge of the 18-yard box. And with the final play of the afternoon Rukavytsya put the icing on Perth’s cake with his sixth goal in three weeks.
FIRST DIVISION, ROUND THREE (Mandurah City v Forrestfield United by Kirk O’Connor; Canning City v South West Phoenix courtesy South West Phoenix; Ashfield v Rockingham City courtesy Ashfield; Morley Windmills v Gosnells City courtesy Morley Windmills)
Mandurah City picked up maximum points for the third successive time by out-shooting Forrestfield United 2-0 at Peelwood Parade. The home side started at full pace, stringing together several promising moves and creating a handful of early chances on goal. But as the minutes ticked by the quality of play deteriorated and the teams went into the break with neither on the scoreboard. With the words of Stuart Currie still ringing in their ears, Mandurah took things up a notch for the second half with Andy Brown and Scott Halpin stamping their authority on the game. The deadlock was broken on 70 minutes when Jake Loreto's shot was ruled to have crossed between the posts despite protests from the Forrestfield defence that it had been cleared off the line. An off the ball incident lead to the dismissal of Michael Bobridge on 83 minutes and opened the door for Forrestfield to get back in the game. However, the visitors hopes were dashed two minutes later when Christian Paschkewitz converted from the penalty spot after being fouled by Craig Ruthven who was duly red carded.
South West Phoenix returned to Bunbury with a hard earned point after twice recovering from being a goal down to draw 2-2 with Canning City at Willetton Sportsman Club. The better of the early exchanges were in favour of Canning who should have led after Ryan Montgomery fumbled a cross which Dave Mickler rushed wide of the target. With 32 minutes gone the hosts Paul Van Dongen nodded down a cross into the goalmouth and Mickler squirted the ball into the net in the scramble that followed. That lead would last just five minutes before Laurence Endersby slid a fine through ball to Steve Suttie who slotted past the goalkeeper from 8-metres. Canning applied most of the pressure after the interval before reclaiming the lead on the hour when a centring pass from the left was blasted into the net by Daniel Trevisol from the top of the 18-yard box. The points were very nearly wrapped up a few minutes later when Kyle Mitsopolous crashed the ball into the upright following a quickly taken free-kick which caught the visitors off-guard. As it was Phoenix drew level on 70 minutes when Patrick Quinn’s delicate chip found Gary Mayers whose powerful left foot shot beat the ‘keeper at his near post.
Ashfield won an entertaining match with Rockingham City 3-0 at Ashfield Reserve. A fast and furious pace was set by both sides with Ashfield having the better early opportunities. However, Rockingham's hard-working midfield brought the visitors back into the game once the sides had settled. Ashfield claimed the lead after 35 minutes through Luke O'Neill who out-sprinted the defence to deftly slot into the net with his right foot. Ten minutes later a well worked exchange between Andrew O'Neill and Luke O'Neill enabled Igor Novakovic to bag his second goal in as many weeks. Within four minutes of the re-start Ashfield has increased their advantage to three goals as some sublime skill from Andy O'Neill set up Rydeen Botha who skilfully lost his marker to fire in. Rockingham worked hard to get on the scoreboard but could find few ways past a well-organised defence featuring Mark Purcell and Jason Van Rooy. The game then opened up with both midfields displaying plenty of creativity. As the game came to a close Ashfield took control and were prevented from adding to their tally on four separate occasions by the frame of the goal.
Morley Windmills edged past Gosnells City 1-0 in a game of few opportunities at Wotton Reserve. Swift movement of the ball took the visiting team straight into attack from kick-off and from a narrow angle Ciaran Allen's shot beat the goalkeeper only to crash into the side netting. Play then settled with neither team able to get on top and limited genuine goalscoring chances created. Morley went ahead through a rare attack in the 19th minute when crisp passing put the ball at the feet of Joe Woodin who neatly lobbed goalkeeper Jade Thorpe. A guilt-edged chance to increase the difference went begging six minutes later as Damien Todorovic took one touch too many after rounding Thorpe who gratefully snatched possession. Farrell Hedges was fortunate to remain on the park following a rash challenge on Arthur Majewski which came just minutes after picking up a soft yellow card. Scott McIlroy's tireless workrate was almost rewarded in the 55th minute when Wayne Culverwell's pass sent him clear on goal only for his shot to come back off the upright. The introduction of teenager Darren Francis breathed new life in Gosnells who continually pushed into the final third only to be turned back by a well-organised defence.
Honours were shared at Frank Drago Reserve where Bayswater City and Balcatta ended level at 1-1. A goal three minutes from the break by Sal Marrapodi put the hosts in the box seat only for Tony Cumace to equalise shortly before the final whistle. Dianella White Eagles thrashed Queens Park 8-1 when they met at Dianella Reserve. It was a day to remember for Jon Greenwood who scored five times with M.Mayne, Darius Dweh and M. Gigoroski also netting for the home team. Queens Park’s solitary goal came via Ricky Simpson just before half-time. Further details of these two games were not forthcoming from any of the four participating clubs.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
The www.footballwa.net Match of the Week takes place at the WA Spanish Club where Fremantle Spirit have hosting rights against Armadale. The season may be only a few weeks old but, with both teams expected to struggle this year, this is an early chance for someone to pick up three valuable points. The two combatants head into the afternoon brimful of confidence after good results last weekend where Armadale held a highly fancied Stirling Lions outfit to a scoreless draw, whereas Fremantle earned their first win of the campaign by accounting for Wanneroo City.
Floreat Athena and Cockburn City will be out to extend their unbeaten starts to the season when they meet in the top of the table clash at Litis Stadium. The feint-hearted are best advised to avoid the no holds barred showdown of Stirling Lions and Western Knights at Macedonia Park. Northern neighbours E.C.U. Joondalup and Wanneroo City pit skills at the Joondalup campus of Edith Cowan University. Inglewood United have home ground advantage over champions Sorrento who are still searching for their first point of the campaign. On Sunday, 90.5FM will broadcast live the traditional derby between Perth S.C. and Swan I.C. from Dorrien Gardens.
There’s a tantalising fixture at Frank Drago between Bayswater City and Balcatta who are both tipped to be amongst the leading pack in this seasons’ First Division competition. Mandurah City should score a home win against Forrestfield United, while Canning City are expected to collect maximum points when they host South West Phoenix. Queens Park go in search of their first point of the season when they venture to Dianella White Eagles. Ashfield are home for the third successive week when they take on Rockingham City, while just down the road Morley Windmills welcome Gosnells City to Wotton Reserve.
BRAZIL CHARTS WANNEROO’S REVIVAL
Little time has been wasted by Mike Brazil who’s outlined his plans to ease Wanneroo City away from the foot of the Premier League table. It was just over a week ago that Scotland-born Brazil took up the challenge of coaching a Wanneroo side whose last win over was ten months ago. But in his short time at the helm Brazil has identified some key areas in which Wanneroo need to lift their game.
The first cab off the ranks for Brazil is to improve fitness levels and increase squad depth. “We really need to get the boys’ fitness up to a higher level in order to compete for the full ninety which is why we’ve brought the squad in for three sessions this week, and possibly next week as well,” said the new Roos boss. “I’m also looking to add some new faces over the next few weeks to strengthen the squad with defender Luke Croxall being the first new arrival.”
Wanneroo’s first game under Brazil resulted in a narrow loss to Fremantle Spirit last weekend and the coach says he saw plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the coming winter. “We kept our shape until such time as we ran out of legs towards the end of the game but that’s something that we can work on,” he said. “It was encouraging that we created quite a few chances and the squad was generally up-beat after the game. I believe Wanneroo can turn things around in the very near future as all the signs are there. It’s all about building belief and confidence in ourselves.”
Brazil isn’t overly concerned that his first game in charge ended in a narrow loss to Fremantle Spirit. “I thought the boys did what I asked of them against Fremantle,” said the coach. “There’s an old saying in football ‘if you don’t take your chances you don’t deserve to get anything out of the game’ and on Saturday both sides had chances with Fremantle taking theirs. Our push in the second half came from a couple of changes and going to a 3-4-3 system as we had to get something out of the game but it was not to be as Fremantle finished the game a lot stronger.”
On Saturday Wanneroo head to E.C.U. Joondalup where Brazil was assistant coach last season. “As individuals Wanneroo are up for the challenge offered and what Garry Church and myself have to do is mould the players into a disciplined unit,” said Brazil. “I know many of the Joondalup players from my time there and have the upmost respect for them. I know all too well how professional the likes of Ian McMurray and Mark Lee are in their preparations for a game and our challenge is going to be to match them on that front.”
NEW SEASON DRAW SUITS GLORY
The Perth Glory hierarchy have given the draw for the 2007/08 A-League season a resounding thumbs up. Scott Gooch and Ron Smith, chief executive officer and coach respectively, believe the clubs' players and supporters will be pleased with the new season draw which has Glory playing no more than two consecutive away games. "Easing the travel burden on the team and giving our members and supporters a more home and away feel was the feedback we received from our last campaign," explained Gooch.
Glory will play eleven matches at home with nine of those falling on a Sunday and two scheduled for Friday evening. They kick-off the season on the afternoon of Sunday 26th August with a home clash against Newcastle Jets. "Our first three matches are against finalists from last season including the champions Melbourne Victory on their home pitch. This will be a big test however we're confident in being able to match it with every team in the competition and setting about achieving our goals of a finals berth," Smith said.
The club's requested kick-off times have also been granted with early evening starts scheduled for matches during the hottest months over summer. "The kick-off times will ensure that we're not playing in the heat of the day and are also early enough so that the whole family can come to the game," said Gooch. "We listened to our members and supporters and put their suggestions to the FFA and together we have been able to achieve a family friendly fixture which will deliver great entertainment over the summer."
"THE INSIDER" PREVIEWS 2007
In his inaugural column for footballwa.net, "The Insider" provides a sneak peak into how the new season will pan out and introduces each of the Premier League clubs’ unofficial mascots. In coming weeks "The Insider" will further analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the title contenders, pretenders and also rans, and as the season evolves he'll interview players, coaches and supporters of our great game. To submit news or information to "The Insider" email Football_WA_Insider@hotmail.com or send a private message via the Bayswater City Forum to Football_WA_Insider. Anonymity will be maintained when requested.
mascot : Paris Hilton
Publicly hated by everyone, privately envied by all.
mascot : Starsky & Hutch
The original team was better than this current remake.
mascot : John Wood
Runner-up too many times to be considered a true champion.
mascot : Britney Spears
Since the marriage not much success.
mascot : Bobby McFerrin
Still living off their one big hit.
mascot : MacGyvor
Predictable show. Was all the rage in the mid-90's, now happy to get noticed.
mascot : Casey Donavan
Despite being champion, Hard to see where next hit will come from.
mascot : Macauley Caulkin
Never reached full potential after promising early signs.
mascot : Milo
Good in a cup.
mascot : Irish Cricket Team
May cause an upset or two but will still be a minnow this year.
mascot : The Titanic
Great story but we all know how it will end.
mascot : Greyhounds Buses
Plenty of coaches but can't see them going anywhere.
GARCIA DREAMING OF PROMOTION
Colchester United's Richard Garcia insists the U's extraordinary season can get even better with a play-off campaign now a distinct possibility. Garcia grabbed his seventh goal of the season as Colchester, the pre-season relegation favourites, dumped Sunderland 3-1. "There's no reason why we can't reach the play-offs, we've just got to keep winning," said Garcia. Saturday's win propelled Colchester to within a point of the top six and brought to an abrupt halt an unbeaten 17 game run for Sunderland.
Attack-minded Garcia is confident Colchester United can continue on their winning ways and gatecrash the English Championship play-offs. "Hopefully, someone will slip up over the last couple of games," he insisted. "No one probably believes that we can make it, but we are very ambitious boys and we fancy our chances. We know that we are putting pressure on ourselves but we like it that way. Layer Road has had a massive effect - the crowd is great and our confidence at home is a big issue. We are a very attacking team at home and we believe that we can beat anyone."
GLORY UNSETTLED ON HOME GROUND
Perth Glory made a late request to Football Federation Australia yesterday to de-list Members Equity Stadium as the club’s venue for A-League games as doubts continued over their tenancy at the East Perth ground. Glory co-owner Tony Sage made it clear from the moment he expressed an interest in taking over the club that remaining at the old Perth Oval, the club’s home since 1996, hinged on striking a better deal with the stadium’s manager, Allia Venue Management. While currently in discussions with Allia, Sage is also investigating the possibility of taking games to Burswood Dome and the WACA Ground. It is understood a final decision could be made within a week.
UNIONS PUTS HANDS IN POCKETS FOR JUNIORS
As the countdown to this year’s Federal election rolls on the union movement have announced their sponsorship of sixteen junior teams as part of its publicity assault on the WorkChoices legislation. UnionsWA has arranged $8800 in sponsorship from a range of unions to provide new playing kits for the Tuart Hill juniors, whose shirts will carry the slogan “Your Rights at Work” and union logos. Tuart Hill play in the marginal seat of Stirling, held by Liberal incumbent Michael Keenan.
UnionsWA secretary Dave Robinson denied it was inappropriate to use children as young as eight in the campaign, claiming that unions’ sponsorship was no different to that offered by companies. “We sponsored juniors because we think Howard’s workplace laws will adversely impact on parents’ time with their kids in the future and it’s very much about kids and their future so we saw this as a very important way to get our message across,” he said. “We just think there is a natural affinity there.”
Tuart Hill club registrar Diane Eldridge said it was purely a commercial decision and the club had no intention of pushing the union message. “We haven’t had new shorts for years and years,” Eldridge said. “The shirts will be made of nice material, it is nice new modern design and it’s in our colours. Nobody in the 42 years of the club has ever offered anything like this … This is about the kids and it means we can spend more money on equipment for the club.”
NORMANTON HAS EYES ON TITLE
Graham Normanton says he expects Perth S.C. to meet pre-season expectations and take out this years' Premier League "Everybody tells me we are favourites and we want to play well every week and obviously as a coach you want to win the League," he said following yesterday's 3-0 win at Western Knights. "I've worked hard in the off-season to strengthen the squad, which we've done, and we think we have the squad to win the League so I will be pretty disappointed if we don't."
Although Perth comfortably accounted for the Knights Normanton says there was plenty of room for improvement in his teams' second half performance. "It was good in the first half, but I was pretty disappointed with our second half performance. If you've got a team three-nil at half-time you want to really press the point home but we didn't do that took our foot off the pedal," he said. "Sometimes you've got to go for the game and go for the jugular and we didn't and that was disappointing."
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND TWO (Sorrento vs Floreat Athena courtesy Floreat Athena; Armadale vs Stirling Lions by Jacob Kagi)
Perth S.C. outlined their title credentials with a 3-0 victory over Western Knights at Nash Field in the second round of the 2007 Premier League season. With the ground bathed in sunshine, Perth got off to a perfect start with Nikita Rukavytsya out pacing the home defence and firing past goalkeeper Tommi Tomich with 5 minutes on the clock. Perth increased their hold over the game when Andreas Oliveira caught the defence napping with a slide rule pass through to Rukavytsya who showed great composure to net his second of the afternoon. The game was ended as a contest on 36 minutes with Rukavytsya this time the provider with his smart pass that allowed Antonio Naglieri to turn in the box and send his shot past Tomich and take the half-time margin to three goals. Whatever was said by Ronnie Campbell during the interval had it’s effect as the home team began the new half by putting Perth under some sustained pressure. The Knights should have pulled a goal back on 61 minutes after Jon Higgins danced past three defenders on his way into the 18-yard box only for his lofted shot go just high of the crossbar. Rukavytsya could have had his hat-trick shortly but this time Tomich was equal to the task with a fine block after the teenage striker used his explosive pace to leave the defence in his wake. With 68 minutes elapsed Michael Icanovski’s soft foul on Daniel Trim resulted in a home penalty but Gareth Deeg only frustrated the Knights faithful with a sharp response to push away Scott Bushby’s powerful spot kick. There were further opportunities created at both ends of the park before the final whistle signalled Perth’s second successive three-nil win of the campaign.
Peter Coci, Stefan Smiljanic and Boima Karpeh found the target in Floreat Athena’s 3-1 defeat of Sorrento at Percy Doyle Reserve. All the early running came from the visitors for whom Smiljanic headed just wide from a corner and, just minutes after, Miki Vujacic’s angled strike flashed the wrong side of the upright. Goalscoring opportunities became scarce once the two sides found their rhythm. Sorrento’s best move had Todd Harnwell latch on to a fine through ball from Brodie Martin only to be dispossessed by a superbly timed tackle from John Migas. The deadlock was broken a few minutes out from half-time when Coci poked in a gilt-edged chance into the net with Sorrento appealing for offside. The second half was only minutes old when Steven Worthy put Sorrento back on level terms in a goalmouth scramble after Vas Vujacic parried an initial header by Steve McDonald. With this the Gulls stepped up a gear and pushed an extra man into attack in an effort to again open up a resilient defence underpinned by Migas and Ante Kovavevic. The visitors added to their tally on 76 minutes played Miki Vujacic unleashed a stinging shot that Neil Young could only parry and Smiljanic was first to react by stabbing the ball into the roof of the net from 9-metres. The pendulum was now back in Floreat’s favour and Josip Magdic’s long-range strike was well held by Young. The sealer arrived shortly after when substitute Boima Karpeh showed exquisite skill to head the ball over one defender then round another before firing low past young for Floreat’s third of the day.
Cockburn City maintained their perfect start to the season with three second half goal to see off E.C.U. Joondalup 3-2 on perfectly manicured pitch at Dalmatinac Park. By adopting a very defensive formation for the opening exchanges Joondalup were able to soak up the early pressure and and stifle their hosts creativity in the final third of the park. Livewire pair Johnny Mirco and Jason Dos Santos looked dangerous whenever they had the ball at their feet but were restricted to shot from long-range. Ian McMurray was unlucky not to put the visitors ahead when he wriggled past Shane Nunes and unleashed a powerful shot which forced Dino Pacella into a fine diving save. Craig Young and Marc Anthony were exploiting the space between midfield and defence as Joondalup switched their focus to attack midway through the half. The pay off arrived on 38 minutes when McMurray laid the ball off to Anthony whose fierce drive from just outside the 18-yard box flashed into Pacella's net. The roles were reversed after the break as Cockburn hit three unanswered goals to swing the game in their favour. After exchanging passes with Michael Mirco, Jason Dos Santos charged into attack to unleash a powerful, low shot which crept under goalkeeper Andy Petterson with 52 minutes gone. Josh Kamasz made the most of space afforded to him by swivelling on the spot and netting from 7-metres following a Johnny Mirco corner. Cockburn's comeback was complete on 73 minutes when Dean Wallace fed a pass to Johnny Mirco who expertly side-stepped his marker before stroking in the hosts third of the afternoon. Young was rewarded for a tireless performance in the 85th minute when he volleyed Martin Ashworth's cross under Pacella to set up a tense finish. Anthony Jones went within inches of snatching a dramatic equaliser by heading Mark Lee's free-kick just over the crossbar.
Swan I.C. and Inglewood United had to settle for a point each from their 0-0 draw at the Swan Italian Club. It was the first time in four and half years that neither the home nor visiting team had scored at the venue. The first opportunity came via an Anthony McStea free-kick which was punched clear by Oliver Taseski, only to be returned by David Perich and Paul Baczynski headed narrowly high. Inglewood slowly established control over proceedings and a long-range shot by Aaron Colli was saved low by Cory Hugo. On 18 minutes Dean Apelgren delivered a cross on to the head of an unmarked Albert Osei-Tutu who somehow headed over the crossbar. The visitors continued to dominate but a lack of quality finishing meant the sides went into the break with neither on the scoreboard. The second half opened in much the same fashion as Michael Baczynski’s effort was cleared off the line by brother Paul Baczynski, and not long after a long-range strike by Apelgren fizzed wide. Swan worked hard to get back in the game as Perich and McStea both sent efforts the wrong side of the post. Clear cut openings were few and far between as the two teams battled for midfield ascendancy. Daniel Niederberger’s low strike stretched Hugo, and Tom Shepheard should have done better than shoot wide when well placed at the opposite end. As the game entered the final ten minutes it was Swan that had more left in the tank and a last gasp challenge by Shane Pryce prevented substitute Geoff Mason from getting his shot off. Taseski ensured the game would remain scoreless by producing a stunning reaction save which prevented Mason’s stoppage time header from sneaking into the top corner.
Armadale showed they have no intention of languishing towards the foot of the table by clawing out a 0-0 with a powerful Stirling Lions line-up at Alfred Skeet Oval. The best chance of the first half came on 14 minutes when, following an Armadale corner, Marlon Ramirez stabbed the ball high from 5-metres. Other than that, chances were few and far between in an opening period in which Stirling was unable to breakdown the defensive style of Armadale, who battled hard and worked tirelessly. It wasn’t until late in the half that David Dugdale finally broke through only to place wide in a one-on-one with Cyril Sharrock. Stirling introduced teenage sensation Ludovic Boi as well as Tommy Jones at the break in an attempt to open up a well-drilled home backline lead by Lee Hallums and Darryl Platten. However, it would be the home team which stepped up a gear in the second half and on 56 minutes Darren Kingston’s powerful header from 9-metres was acrobatically kept out by Stirling custodian Phil Straker. The eastern corridor side created another great opportunity on 72 minutes when, from near the corner flag, Adam Galvin crossed perfectly for Ryan Pearson who shot high from close-range much to the disappointment of the home crowd. Leo Harman should have given Stirling the lead six minutes later after intercepting a poor back-pass inside the 18-yard box but his shot cannoned back off the inside of the far post. Soon after Boi sent in a cross to Keith Brown who rushed his shot over the crossbar as Stirling came home under full steam. The last chance of the afternoon fell to Harman who was left unmarked at a final minute corner which he headed high from 7-metres.
A late strike by teenager Callum Roberts earned Fremantle Spirit a 1-0 win over Wanneroo City at the Kingsway Sporting Complex. A tight first half saw only a handful of chances carved out by either side as the respective defences held firm despite what was at time some intense pressure. The periods’ main talking point was the yellow card dished out to Fremantle veteran Alex Christie for not removing a ring from his finger. There was a little more urgency in the visitors game after the interval as the pace of Andy Pomfret, Cisco Jorquiera and Jason Barrera began to create more than a few problems for Wanneroo. Luke Croxall and Daniel Hendley ran a tight ship for the hosts, and on those occasions their defences were breached goalkeeper Kevin Miller ensured the score remained level. Wanneroo weren’t without their chances as David Houston headed narrowly high from close range, while Derek Cooke was denied by a stunning save at point blank range by Steve Grant. The game looked set for a scoreless draw when, on 81 minutes, Dale Wingell and Barrera exchanged passes on the edge of the area before the latter cut the ball back to Roberts who gave Miller no chance by slamming his shot into far corner of the net. With the last roll of the dice Wanneroo were awarded a free-kick 22-metres out which Cooke sizzled narrowly over the crossbar.
FIRST DIVISION, ROUND TWO (Rockingham City vs Mandurah City courtesy Mandurah City; Balcatta vs Canning City courtesy Balcatta; Ashfield vs Queens Park courtesy Ashfield)
Mandurah City went home from Dowling Street Reserve with maximum points courtesy of a 4-0 thrashing of neighbours Rockingham City. Playing with the benefit of a strong breeze, Mandurah hit the deck running and within 2 minutes had the lead through Christian Paschewitz who headed in a near post cross from Jeff Bright. The visitors maintained the pressure as another Paschewitz header whistled narrowly high of the crossbar while Jeff Bright sent a free-kick just wide of the upright. Andy Brown's powerful header out of midfield set up Shane Crampton whose volley skidded past the goalkeeper. It didn't take long for Mandurah to add a third to their tally as Fraser Marr's through ball found Jordan Rhodes who calmly slotted into the net with 21 minutes gone. Rockingham, who now had the breeze at their backs, seized control after the break but could find few holes in a defence under the command of Scott Halpin and James Hesketh. Although playing chiefly on the counterattack, Mandurah still looked dangerous with Rhodes in particularly causing the hosts no end of trouble. Some great movement involving Marr and Rhodes enabled Crampton to net his fourth goal in two outings close to the final whistle.
Canning City continued their winning start to the 2007 First Division season by downing Balcatta 2-1 in splendid conditions at Graham Burkett Reserve. Canning could not have dreamt of a better start as Dave Mickler was put through by a superb pass by Paul Van Dongen to slot in the opening goal after only 3 minutes. Genuine chances on goal were few and far between in a tight first half despite both teams getting into their final third on a regular basis. A golden opportunity to equalise went begging on the half hour when a Tony Cumace cross found Scott Broadley whose glancing header at close-range went shy of the post. Balcatta got back on level terms shortly before half-time when poor marking at a set piece allowed John Nicolaou to send the ball past young goalkeeper Devon Spence. The second half began with Balcatta focused on taking the lead, however, the hosts were let down by poor finishing. The game would be decided on 75 minutes when Paul Van Dongen stole possession from Broadley before unleashing a thunderbolt from 30-metres that gave left goalkeeper Tony Alexovski stranded. Balcatta mounted a late charge to snatch a point but neither David Moschilla nor Adrian Caliero could capitalise on chances inside the 18-yard box.
Ashfield stormed back into the winners circle by thumping Queens Park 4-0 at Ashfield Reserve. The opening passages may have been scrappy but that mattered not to the hosts who held a two-goal advantage by the quarter-hour mark. Michael Filippou got the ball rolling on 6 minutes with a neat right-foot effort after being left unmarked inside the penalty box. The margin was doubled through an expertly struck free-kick by Igor Novakovic which swung past the defensive wall and beyond the reach of a diving Phil De Souza. On 32 minutes Ashfield suffered a setback when Filippou's clumsy challenge on Ian McKean was deemed a red card offence by the referee. The second half opened with Brian Kinson, Mckean, James Bartlett and new signing Adam Bremner leading Queens Park into attack in a desperate attempt to reel in the deficit. However, the ten men of Ashfield responded well and were rewarded with a third goal in the 53rd minute when Andy O'Neill finished off a stunning counterattack. After this the game opened up with both teams stringing together some good moves. Andy O'Neill put away his second of the afternoon on 85 minutes to ensure Ashfield picked up maximum points for the first time this season.
South West Phoenix twice threw away the lead in crashing 3-5 to Morley Windmills at Bunbury's Soccerdrome. The opening goal to a fast paced game arrived after 20 minutes when Steve Suttie flicked on a searching ball to Patrick Quinn who sent goalkeeper Chris Ramsey the wrong way from the edge of the 18-yard box. Late in the half Farrell Hedges coolly converted past Ryan Montgomery from a Joe Woodin cross to equalise, and minutes later Phoenix failed to deal with another dangerous cross which Scott McIlroy nodded back to Hedges who put Morley in front at the break. Fired by the coach Micky Cairns, the home side equalised when Quinn threaded a neat pass to Suttie who rounded Ramsey then guided the ball past a last defender Mark Walsh. Greg Hayes' put the home side back in the driving seat with a long-range strike on the hour which Ramsey failed to hold. There was still plenty of life in Morley as Woodin supplied Damien Todorovic to make it three-all, and minutes later Hedges completed a deserved hat-trick. The points were made safe shortly before full-time when Walsh got on the end of a dipping corner with what could only be described as an improvised finish.
Forrestfield Unitedclaimed the points at Bayswater City's expense courtesy of a 3-2 scoreline when they meet at Hartfield Park. Roger Miron, Phi Bell and Jordan Hart were the scorers for Forrestfield and negated early strikes from Ryan Frisina and Sal Marapodi. Gosnells City registered their first win of the new season by out-gunning Dianella White Eagles 2-1 at Walter Padbury Reserve. Further details of these two games were not forthcoming from any of the four participating clubs.
GLORY SET SIGHTS ON FORMER RANGERS STAR
Former Glasgow Rangers striker Michael Mols has emerged as a potential key signing for Perth Glory as coach Ron Smith contemplates the final few places in his A-League squad for next season. Mols, a one-time Dutch international, scored almost a goal in every second match for Rangers, although the complications of a knee injury in late 1999 restricted his impact at Ibrox. After five years in Scotland, he returned to the Netherlands, where he currently plays for the Dutch first division’s bottom club ADO Den Haag.
Smith, who returned yesterday from Malaysia where he cast an eye over several players, including Zambian striker Phillemon Chepita, said he had been in talks regarding Mols and that the 36-year-old who is a product of the famous Ajax youth system could pull on a Perth shirt this season. “He’s one of a number of possibilities,” Smith said. The club has already been linked to Italy star Gianfranco Zola, Dutchman Pierre van Hooijdonk and former England international player Teddy Sheringham as possible guest players for the new season, which starts in August.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
The second www.footballwa.net Match of the Week of 2007 takes place at Nash Field where Western Knights take on title favourite Perth S.C. Knights coach Ronnie Campbell is looking forward to the challenge and needs Tommi Tomich, Paul Cooke and Daniel Trim to be in top form. Perth boasts a squad brimful of talent and key roles await Michael Icanovski, Gary Faria and Nikita Rukavytsya. Some spectacular goals and top quality football is always on the agenda when these two long-time rivals meet for what is one of the highlights of the West Australian football calendar.
The match at Percy Doyle Reserve between Sorrento and Floreat Athena promises to be another cracker. Title contender Cockburn City welcome a much improved E.C.U. Joondalup to Dalmatinac Park. Both Swan I.C. and Inglewood United go in search of their first points of the new season when they meet at the Swan Italian Club. Armadale will find the going tough when Stirling Lions visit Alfred Skeet Oval. Fremantle Spirit head north for the second successive week, this time to Wanneroo City who are under Mike Brazil for the first time.
The pick of the First Division action takes place at Graham Burkett Reserve where Balcatta take on Canning City. Rockingham City have home ground advantage for their derby meeting with Mandurah City. Forrestfield United and Bayswater City go head to head at Hartfield Park, and Ashfield are tipped to pick up their first points of the season when they host Queens Park. Gosnells City welcome Dianella White Eagles to Walter Padbury Reserve, while South West Phoenix' first home game of the new season is against Morley Windmills.
GOAL REMAINS THE SAME FOR SORRENTO
Sorrento may have lost the bulk of last seasons championship winning squad over the summer months but as far as long-serving midfielder Glen Thomas is concerned it's business as usual at Percy Doyle Reserve. "There have been a number of transitional seasons in my time at the club and we've usually managed to finish in the top five or six, and this season will be no different," Thomas said. "Steve Neville has every confidence in the boys, we will be focused on developing and progressing with the current player group and our season goal, as always, is to be competing for one of the top spots in the League,"
Thomas remains unphased by the fact Sorrento head into the new season minus some key players from their highly successful 2006 campaign. "Losing six first team players is tough for any side, but when those players are of the calibre of Scott Miller, Brad Hassell, Simon Harland, Michael Ord, Andrew Bowyer and Danny Hill it makes it all the harder to adjust," said Thomas. "And while it has been tough, we had a lot of depth last year and that's given us a good platform from which to make the transition without too many problems."
"The upside to losing so many established players is that the younger boys will now get a chance to make their mark in the first team," Thomas continued. "We'll be looking to players like Lewis Flatt, Brodie Martin and Daniel Cagorski who've already have some experience at first team level to become consistent performers, while coming through the ranks are the likes of Scott Neville, Cameron Yorke and Darren Quinncroft who are all very promising prospects for the future."
Todd Harnwell put Sorrento one-nil up last weekend against Cockburn City who struck three second half goals to take out the points. "The game was a lot closer than the 3-1 scoreline suggests," said Thomas. "To their credit Cockburn took their chances in the second half whereas we didn't and at the end of the day that would be the crucial difference. We were disappointed to come away with nothing from the game, but the fact everyone gave 100% for ninety minutes puts us in good stead for the rest of the year."
Sorrento's first home game of the season takes place this Saturday against a Floreat Athena line-up which thumped Swan 5-0 in round one. "Floreat were a strong side last season and have added to their squad so we're expecting a tough game," commented Thomas. "Unfortunately, we will be missing Carl Poore who has had to return to the UK for family reasons and myself due to a two week trip to America. On the upside, James Morgan and Stuart Banks should both return from injury and the boys will be desperate to get off the mark after our disappointment last week."
AUSTRALIA LOSE TO SAUDI ARABIA IN OLYMPIC QUALIFIER
Australia's Olympic team have suffered a 1-2 loss to Saudi Arabia in this evenings qualifying match at the Prince Mohammad bin Fahad Stadium, Dammam. The hosts controlled the opening half only to go a goal down moments before half-time when Mark Bridge volleyed in after Bruce Djite headed down a Kristian Sarkies cross. Australia were reduced to ten men thirteen minutes after the interval when Adrian Leijer received a second yellow card, and Jaffin Al-Bishi equalised with the resultant penalty. The Saudis took the lead eight minutes later through Youssef al-Salem when a long ball over the defence exposed goalkeeper Danny Vukovic who had no chance. Australia were denied a late equalizer with two minutes remaining when Sarkies was ruled offside after finishing a cross from Bridge. Perth Glory goalkeeper Tando Velaphi was an unused substitute.
INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL, PART TWO …
The forty-seventh season of semi-professional football in Western Australia kicked off last weekend with the opening round of home-and-away fixtures. Perth S.C. are widely tipped to add the 2007 Premier League title to the trophy cabinet at Dorrien Gardens, but to do so they’ll have to fend off the challenges of Western Knights, Stirling Lions and Floreat Athena amongst others. It may be early days but there’s plenty of interest at the other end of the table as well with a handful of clubs expected to be involved in a dogfight to avoid relegation. This week Brett Klucznik takes a close look at each of the twelve clubs, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and makes a few predictions as to how the 2007 Premier League season will play out ...
COYNE CALLS FOR END TO LUTON CIRCUS
Luton Town captain Chris Coyne is demanding chairman David Pinkney put an end to the “circus” act at Kenilworth Road. “I have gone through receivership, administration, changes in the chairmen, and the stuff with the managers at this club,” said Coyne. “It’s has been a bit of a circus at times. But now we have a new chairman. He a very affluent man, he is very driven and he loves the club.” With only a handful of games remaining in the English season Luton are rock solid last place in the Championship and almost certain to be relegation.
ASIA CUP BERTH NEXT ON JONES AGENDA
Middlesbrough goalkeeper Brad Jones has gone from flying off the Socceroos' radar a couple of years ago to establishing himself as a strong contender for Australia's inaugural Asian Cup campaign. Fresh from signing a new deal with the English Premier League club, Jones now has his sights on securing a place in the Australian squad for the July tournament to be jointly hosted by Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Jones hopes his recent efforts will earn him a place in the squad for Asia. "The Asian Cup is a big competition and if I had the chance to go to that it would be great," said the 25-year old. "Hopefully I've done enough while I've been in the camps to stay in the squad. Whether that will happen, I don't know but at least now I've had the chance to show what I can do."
Despite years spent in the shadow of Middlesbrough's first choice goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, Jones recently signed a new two-year deal to stay on Teesside. English Championship side West Bromwich Albion expressed their interest in him during the January transfer window but they eventually baulked at Boro’s valuation, which is believed to have been around AU$2.2 million.
"Middlesbrough rejected the offer and the transfer window closed - if it had been agreed I probably would be there,” Jones admits. "But then I started thinking that leaving wasn't going to be the right move anyway. I would've been leaving somewhere where I've got good people around me and coaches who've believed in me. I'm at a good club and I didn't want to go somewhere and regret it later."
WANNEROO APPOINT BRAZIL AS COACH
Mike Brazil has been installed as coach of Wanneroo City just a week into the new season. “We’re pleased to confirm the appointment of Mike Brazil as Wanneroo’s new first team coach, and Gary Church as his assistant,” said a Wanneroo spokeman. “The club feel that Mike’s experience will be able to give Wanneroo the impetus for a successful season.” Brazil becomes Wanneroo’s fourth coach in eighteen months and takes over from Jamie Goodman.
Goodman’s tenure lasted twenty games and came to an end following Saturdays’ opening round loss to Stirling Lions. “The club stood by Jamie during a difficult end to last season and wanted to continue with him this season,” explained the club spokesman. “However, our Night Series results were not encouraging and the club decided that a change of coach was necessary to try to improve matters as quickly as possible. Wanneroo City very much appreciate the efforts which Jamie has made, and wish him every success in his future endeavours.”
VALE DAVID SCHRANDT
Former player and administrator David Schrandt has passed away following a lengthy battle with leukaemia. A popular figure on the local scene, Schrandt played with success for Morley Windmills during the 1960’s and in retirement returned his hand to administration. Over the years he served the game in a number of positions, most notably as president of Soccer West Coast.
NTC CLAIM YOUTH TITLE
Football West’s National Training Centre has tasted their first major success with the boys squad winning a four-State tournament in Adelaide over the weekend. The team from the west coast defeated strong opposition from Victoria and South Australia before being held to a draw in their final meeting with the Australian Capital Territory.
Officials from the Australian Institute of Sport were on hand to watch the progress of the nations best teenage talent, and get a first look at Australia’s playing future. The tour kicked off on Friday afternoon with a meritorious 3-1 win over host State South Australia. A rock solid defence lead by Dean Evans and Liam Harvey had as much to do with the victory as goalscorers Eli Babalj and Clayton Arnez, with the west’s third being an own goal.
The following day West Australia overpowered the Victorian boys who put up a strong show before going down 2-1. A clinical finish by Milljon Butshiire and a terrific in-swinging corner from Michael Currie that found the net earned the west a well deserved win. West Australia completed the tournament with a dour 1-1 draw against the Australian Capital Territory. An early own goal put the west one-nil up but relentless pressure from the ACT resulted in a hard-earned equaliser.
The National Training Centre squad consists of Dejan Aleksic, Clayton Arnez, Eli Babalj, Mark Birighitti, Jarrad Bracewell, Milljon Butshiire, Jack Clisby, Michael Currie, Cameron Edwards, Jake Geddes, Lewis Hall, Liam Harvey, Rhys Loxley, Emmanuel Linga, Adam Luca, Joshua Risdon, Trent Sainsbury, John Tancredi and Reece Vittiglia.
MATILDAS CONTINUE WINNING WAYS
The Matildas have continued their impressive form with a 10-0 demolition of Chinese Taipei in tonight's qualifying match for the Beijing Olympics. The win puts Australia, who beat Hong Kong 15-0 last week, on top of Group B ahead of DPR Korea on goal difference. Kate Gill and Sarah Walsh led the way by scoring three each with Joanne Peters (2), captain Cheryl Salisbury and Joanne Burgess also on the scoresheet. Collette McCallum played a full game for the Matilda's with fellow West Australian Lisa DeVanna coming off the bench on the hour.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND ONE (Cockburn City vs Sorrento by Beau Crompton; Floreat Athena vs Swan I.C. courtesy Floreat Athena; Stirling Lions vs Wanneroo City by Don Evans)
Cockburn City started the 2007 Premier League season in impressive style, coming from behind to defeat reigning champions Sorrento 3-1 at Dalmatinac Park. Second half goals from Domenic De Felice, Paul Natale and Johnny Mirco guided the home side to victory after Todd Harnwell gave Sorrento a 1-0 lead at the break. Cockburn made the early inroads could have taken the lead when a clever through ball from Mario De Felice found the feet of Michael Mirco but his shot was well blocked by Neil Young. The Gulls goalkeeper was again at the rescue shortly after when he denied Josh Kamasz the opening goal with a well timed block. Although the home side dominated the opening half, they went behind on 32 minutes when Todd Harnwell narrowly beat the offside trap before coolly slotting past Dino Pacella. Sorrento to took a valuable lead into half-time but it was all Cockburn after the break with Shane Nunes and Johnny Mirco both having golden chances denied by outstanding goalkeeping from Young. The hosts were back on level terms after 72 minutes when Aaron Dos Santos though pass found Johnny Mirco who was brought down attempting to round Young, referee Angelo Nardi awarded a penalty and from the spot Domenic De Felice sent Young the wrong way. Four minutes later Cockburn snatched the lead, much to the delight of their loyal supporters, when Paul Natale rose high from a deep corner to head in their second. Johnny Mirco rounded off a man of the match performance on 82 minutes by skipping past the Sorrento defence before finishing superbly from a tight angle to seal an inspiring home victory.
Floreat Athena opened the new season by mauling Swan I.C. 5-0 on their visit to Litis Stadium. It took just 10 minutes for the hosts to open their account through Peter Coci who converted from the penalty spot after a Stefan Smiljanic’s shot was handled on the line by Rob Monterosso, who was duly red carded. There were few highlights in a stale and largely scrappy first half in which chances on goal were at a minimum. Brave goalkeeping from Daniel Agudelo saw him smother at the feet of Coci in a one-on-one situation, while Swan’s solitary opening had David Foster’s explosive effort from 10metres turned away by Vas Vujacic. Floreat stepped up a gear after the break and through some quick movement of the ball they began to exploit the extra player. Nine minutes after the re-start Miki Vujacic little space for himself on top of the 18-yard box before squeezing a low shot into the far corner to double the margin. The home side then turned the screws and a sweet exchange between Bajo Savic and Coci ended with the former classily slotting in with 60 minutes played. A similar move five minutes later enabled Josip Magdic to rifle goal number four past Agudelo. Tom Shepheard squandered a great opportunity to peg one back for Swan when his penalty kick was saved by Vas Vujacic. Boima Karpeh was introduced with twenty minutes to go and twice crashed the ball into the frame of the goal. The games final goal arrived via another shot from Karpeh which took an unfortunate deflection off Aaron Cole before coming to nestle in the net.
Perth S.C. broke down a resilient Armadale 3-0 in a hard-fought contest at Dorrien Gardens. The balance of first half possession was well and truly in favour of the home side thanks largely to the commanding presence of Gary Faria and Scott Bulloch. Nikita Rukavytsya, Andreas Oliveira, Faria and Michael Icanovski each placed shots either the wrong side of the target or which were saved by goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock. Armadale’s main avenue into attack was on the counterattack and while they did at times threaten the visitors were undone by poor delivery in the final third. The reward for Perth’s dominance arrived a minute from the interval when Faria threaded a neat pass in behind the defence for Bulloch to race in and slot past the advancing ‘keeper. The pattern of the second half mirrored that of the first with Perth controlling play and Armadale reliant on the occasional quick break. The margin was doubled on 67 minutes when Rukavytsya used his pace to get clear of his marker and blast into the net. Armadale responded with some positional and tactical changes aimed at getting them back into the game, however, Perth were having none of it and refused to relinquish control. Faria thought he’d bagged the hosts third by unleashing a rocket from the edge of the 18-yard box to which Sharrock produced a truly world-class save. The sealer arrived in the 85th minute when Todd Howarth sent the ball into a crowded area when Rukavytsya scored an early contender for goal of the year with a sensational bicycle kick from near the penalty spot. The closing stages had Armadale see more of the ball and gain several corners, none of which called Gareth Deeg into action.
David Dugdale scored twice to lead Stirling Lions to a 3-1 victory over Wanneroo City in summery conditions at Macedonia Park. The hosts came out of the blocks fast and on were on the scoreboard after 10 minutes when Dugdale smash on goal produced a great reflex save from Wanneroo custodian Kevin Miller who was helpless as ever-alert midfielder Leo Harman drove the loose ball into the net. Wanneroo were not to be denied with their search for an equaliser lead by Ahmed Hafez and David Houston. Terrific goalkeeping from Miller kept the visitors in the game as the youngster kept out goalbound shots from Andy Brown and Dugdale. It was only a matter of time before the pressure valve was relieved via a good through ball from Andy Brown which was into the path of Dugdale who sized up the advancing ‘keeper to chip into the roof of the net after 36 minutes. Andy Brown then crashed a shot from point-blank range into the crossbar following some nimble footed lead-up play from Phil Arnold. This same pattern carried over into the second half and both Arnold and Dugdale went within a whisker of adding to the tally. Stirling’s total domination culminated in a third goal on 62 minutes when Dugdale guided the ball into the net after a blistering run down the right by Arnold. To their credit Wanneroo refused to throw in the towel and a swift counter attack caught the hosts by surprise with Hafez cleverly flicking past an advancing Phil Straker to reduce the deficit. The game lost it’s sizzle late in the piece with the hot conditions sapping player energy levels.
Scott Bushby commemorated his Western Knights league debut by scoring both goals in their 2-0 away defeat of Inglewood United. The opening exchanges were relatively tame as the two combatants sized each other up and prodded for chinks in the others armour. Both sides were limited to shooting from distance with Andrija Jukic’s speculative strike tipped over the crossbar by Oliver Taseski, while at the opposite end Greg Sharland stretched Tommi Tomich with a grasscutter. After half an hour the game began to spark into life with David Price’s bullet-like header flashed narrowly high from an Andrija Jukic corner. On 32 minutes the Knights were awarded a penalty for Danny Stoitis’ foul on Andrija Jukic, and although Bushby’s spot kick was blocked by Taseski who was unable to prevent the striker from netting with the follow-up. Frustration got the better of Alex Stamatiadis who was issued a straight red card seven minutes later for lashing out at Jon Mathers. Taseski ensured made sure the gap remained a single goal at the break by superbly finger tipping wide an in-swinging strike by Bushby. The Knights could not have wished for a more perfect start to the new half as Paul Cooke delivered a low cross in from the left which Andrija Jukic cleverly back heeled through a stagnant defence to Bushy who stroked his shot under Taseski to make it two-nil. Further opportunities came the way of Andrija Jukic, Cormac Dawson and Bushby as the Knights sought to capitalise on their advantage. Inglewood day of misery was compounded late on when David Whiteside and Louis Parkinson both succumbed to injury and, with Bobby Despotovski having already used his three allotted substitutes, they ended the game with only eight men.
E.C.U. Joondalup picked up maximum points from their home encounter with Fremantle Spirit by a 2-1 scoreline. The first chance of a frantic opening spell came the way about through Craig Young who got in behind the defence but his cross narrowly evaded the on-rushing Ian McMurray. Joondalup were making plenty of inroads and Marc Anthony was unfortunate not to score on debut after playing a neat one-two with Young which the Scotsman then pulled wide. Joondalup’s reward arrived after 19 minutes when McMurray’s shot was parried by Steve Grant and in an instant Martin Ashworth whipped the rebound into the net. Almost instantly Fremantle hit back as Callum Roberts’ cross into the area found an unmarked Ray Rose whose header was tipped over the bar by Andy Petterson. The second half started with Fremantle on the attack and long-range strikes from Roberts and Jason Barerra tested the agility of Petterson. As the minutes ticked by Anthony and Scott Blackmore re-established control over midfield as the hosts sought to end the game as a contest. In the 67th minute Anthony Jones gained possession near the halfway line and pushed forward before laying the ball off to Young charged toward goal before playing a clever back heel into the path of Jones who slid his shot under the advancing goalkeeper. Fremantle were dealt another blow five minutes later when Tom Straker was sent off for a harsh second yellow card. This seemed to spark the port side into life and a stinging shot from 18-metres by Jason Barerra brought the difference back to a single goal with five minutes to play. Fremantle continued to force the pace and Ben Kelly almost snatched a point with a miscued cross which flew over Petterson but crashed into the upright.
FIRST DIVISION, ROUND ONE (Mandurah City vs Queens Park by Donny Carty; Balcatta vs Forrestfield United courtesy Balcatta)
Mandurah City unveiled their new Peelwood Parade facilities with a 4-2 defeat of Queens Park in front of an appreciative crowd The game opened at a frenetic pace and, after absorbing some early pressure, Mandurah went ahead following a fine exchange between Jordan Rhodes and Shane Crampton which the latter netted. However, the hosts success was soured on 28 minutes with the dismissal of Stuart Francis who clashed with Shane Laing while contesting a header. Queens Park wasted no time in capitalising with James Bartlett skipping past two opponents before releasing Ricky Simpson who knocked in the equaliser. A period of re-adjustment followed for Mandurah after which they regained the advantage through Christian Paschewitz. Missed opportunities dominated the second half with neither team able to make the most of their chances. Then, with 63 minutes elapsed, Mike Green failed to hold on to a corner and Toby Obinham drilled through a sea of legs to bring the visitors level. It didn't take long for Mandurah to hit back with Paschewitz the scorer following a fine lead-up involving Michael Bobridge and Jeff Bright. The points were made safe by Crampton whose predatory instincts took him past two defenders before spearing his shot into the net.
Balcatta opened their season account with a 4-2 come from behind defeat of Forrestfield United at Graham Burkett Reserve. The home side were on the attack early with Christian Debarro netting inside 5 minutes, however, the youngsters effort was disallowed for offside. Forrestfield posted their first goal of the season on 18 minutes when Tony Cumace had the misfortune of deflecting a cross into the path of Matt Harold who lofted goalkeeper Tony Alevoski. Balcatta turned up the pressure and on the half hour Toby Wright restored parity after forcing goalkeeper Luke Woodfin to concede possession. Good work by Adrian Caliero after the break saw him draw the defence and goalkeeper before playing the ball to an unmarked Wright who had the simple job of tapping in his second of the afternoon. A terrrific exchange between John Nicolaou and Peter Koidis laid the foundations for Caliero to put away the hosts' third goal. Nicolaou then added his name to the scoresheet by crashing the ball past Woodfin and into the net on 68 minutes. Forrestfield grabbed a late consolation through Craig Ruthven who fired in from the edge of the 18-yard box.
Canning City took all three points courtesy of a 2-1 scoreline from their meeting with Morley Windmills at Willetton Sportsman Club. Farrell Hedges scored a second half response for Morley after Daniel Trevisiol and an own goal had put the hosts in a commanding position. The upset of the round took place at Ashfield Reserve where Gosnells City toppled Night Series winner Ashfield 1-0. The games only goal arrived after 67 minutes via Ciaran Allen. Bayswater City opened the home and away series with a 1-0 defeat of Rockingham City at Frank Drago Reserve. Adrian Sutton bagged the deciding goal shortly before half-time. Dianella White Eagles shared the points with South West Phoenix at Dianella Reserve. Jon Greenwood scored two and Rydeen Botha one for Dianella who played the last halfhour with ten men after the red carding of T.Bushby. Phoenix’ scorers were Gary Mayers, Steve Suttie and Patrick Quinn. Further details of these four games were not forthcoming from any of the eight participating clubs.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
The 2007 Premier League season kicks-off tomorrow with the www.footballwa.net Match of the Week taking place at Dalmatinac Park where Cockburn City meet reigning champion Sorrento. Scott Miller won a championship medal last season with the northern suburbs side and he’ll be looking to start his coaching career on a positive note. Sorrento have undergone significant change during the summer and a first round trip to Cockburn will provide Steve Neville a good indication as to where his team is at as they attempt to defend their title.
Clipsal Stadium hosts the mouth watering clash between Inglewood United and Western Knights. Swan I.C. face a tough trip to Litis Stadium where Floreat Athena will hope to start the new campaign by taking maximum points. Armadale have a difficult first up fixture against Night Series winner Perth S.C. at Dorrien Gardens. Recently promoted Fremantle Spirit makes the long journey north where E.C.U. Joondalup has home ground advantage. Stirling Lions are tipped to open their season by taking maximum points at the expense of visiting Wanneroo City.
The meeting of Canning City and Morley Windmills at Willetton Sportsman Club is the pick of this weekend’s First Division round. Queens Park’s return to semi-professional football commences with a tough away meeting with Mandurah City. Ashfield have home ground advantage over Gosnells City, and just down the road at Frank Drago Reserve it’s Bayswater City verses Rockingham City. Balcatta host Forrestfield United, while Dianella White Eagles meet South West Phoenix at Dianella Reserve.
PACELLA BACK ON HOME TURF
The familiar figure of Dino Pacella will be between the posts when Cockburn City commence their 2007 Premier League campaign at home to Sorrento on Saturday.Pacella has missed the past couple of season due to business interests but has been lured back to Dalmatinac Park following confirmation regular shot-stopper Alan Dunlop will miss much of the coming winter through injury. "It's good to be playing again and I'm glad it's for Cockburn," commented Pacella."I've played my entire senior career for Cockburn so it's like a second home for me."
The opportunity to rejoin Cockburn was a matter ofbeing in the right place at the right time according to Pacella. "I had a two year lay off so I could focus on starting my sport store, Sportz 29,and to be honest I neverhad any intention of returning to playing.I was down at Cockburn doing some fitness work at the beginning of the year when newscame through about the seriousness of Alan's injury.Scott Miller asked me if I wanted to returnto the club and after taking a week to contemplate all the factors I accepted his offer."
Pacella's number 29 shirt got it's first airing in two years last weekend when Cockburn downed Gosnells City 6-2 in the first round of the Cup. "To win on your first game back is a good feeling but I felt we playedsome very averagefootball, especially in the first half," Pacella said. "We were one-nil down at the break but the guys showed great spirit to turn things around early in the second half and come away with a good win. There are a few new guys at the club since I last played but they are all very good players and all quite youngwhichis fantastic for the clubs' future."
Cockburn's pre-season was something of a mixed bag with the side winning just two of their five Night Series fixtures. But as the regular season has drawn nearer the players at Cockburn have become increasingly excited about playing under former Perth Glory star Scott Miller. "We'reshaping up very nicely," he said. "Scott has re-ignited some players desires to play that maybe were dying off a bit last season and it's really helped the younger players confidence to play well when they see the experienced players wanting to put in 110% week in week out."
Pacella is hopeful Cockburn can be amongst the leaders in this years' title race."Scott has assembled a nicely balanced squad," said Pacella. "Hehas the utmost respect of all the players, and I'm sure that withhis playing experience he'llhave afew things up his sleeve this season.I hope we can get the results on the board to challenge for top honours as the club has come close to collecting some silverware in the past few seasons but have just fallen short."
INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL, PART ONE …
Promotion and relegation between the Saturday Premier League and First Division remain a one-up one-down policy as per last year. The First Division playing field looks remarkably level on the eve of the new season with any one half a dozen teams capable of claiming top honours, and the battle to avoid the drop is shaping up to be just as tight. This week Brett Klucznik puts each of the twelve First Division clubs under the microscope, assesses their strengths and weaknesses, and makes a few bold predictions as to how 2007 will pan out …
AGUDELO AIMS TO MAKE STARING SPOT HIS
A solid pre-season has enabled teenager Daniel Agudelo to make a strong claim to the number one shirt at Swan I.C. When regular goalkeeper Corey Hugo was ruled out by injury Agudelo jumped at the chance to play first team football, and now he’s there the 18-year old has no plans to relinquish his place in the first eleven. “I hope I can keep my spot, and that’s up to me,” he said. “I’ve got the spot at the moment but that might change if my form slumps. I’ll continue to train hard and play to the best of my ability and then it’s up to the coaching staff to make the choice.”
The off-season was an eventful time for Agudelo who gained Australian Schoolboys selection alongside Armadale's Ben Howe. Wearing the green gold in friendlies withthe Soloman Islands, Samoa, Vanuata and Tahiti was a great honour for Agudelo and he hopes the experience gained willput him in good stead for the season ahead.“It was great playing international football and it’s something Ben Howeand I will never forgot. I hope to continue that form into the new season at Swan.”
A few days after returning from international duty Agudelo was back on a plane jetting his way to Italy as part of the APIA Leichhardt Tigers squad which met AC Milan, Sienna and Santos at the prestigious Coppa Carnevale tournament in Viareggio. “It was amazing playing against some of the biggest club teams in the world and some of the best youngsters in world football, and I’d say it was probably the greatest moment in my very young career so far,” said Agudelo.
Swan coach Carlo Scali Scali says Agudelo has what it takes to play in the Premier League. “Daniel has proved to be very capable in goals throughout the night series and he will be pushing to keep Corey out of that spot in 2007,” said Scali. “He has improved from last year and he needs to keep working on the mental side of his game as his physical side is very good. He is a great team member and likes to mix it up with the outfield players.”
DESPOTOVSKI TO PLAY ON
The A-League’s loss will be the local scenes gain after Bobby Despotovski confirmed he would pull on the boots for Inglewood United this winter. After struggling with a back problem during the latter stages of his national league career, Depotovski called time in his Perth Glory days in January after more than a decade with the club. While his main focus is coaching Inglewood, the former Socceroo says he plans to “play a few games” this season. “I had a long break and my back feels good now. I went to a chiropractor and I don’t have any pain,” said Despotovski of the problem that twice required surgery. “If I went there earlier I might have played another season with Glory.”
EASY WIN FOR MATILDA’S
The Matildas commenced the second and final stage of qualifying for the Beijing Olympic games by trouncing Hong Kong 15-0 in Coffs Harbour yesterday. The game was over as a contest by half-time with Australia opening up a six goal buffer as Sarah Walsh and Collette McCallum each netting twice and Kate Gill and Joanne Peters once. The floodgates opened after the break with Gill taking her game tally to five, McCallum completed her hat-trick, veteran Cheryl Salisbury bagged a double and Joanne Burgess and Danielle Small each got one. Australia’s next Group B fixture is in Chinese Taipei on Sunday.
ASSOCIATION CUP, ROUND ONE (Gosnells City vs Cockburn City by Lennie Bavich; Sorrento vs Rockingham City by Kerry Slater; Wanneroo City vs Floreat Athena courtesy Floreat Athena)
A second half strike by David Foster was all that separated Swan I.C. and Western Knights in their Cup meeting at Francis Street. The black and whites opened brightly with Tom Shepheard’s header from an Anthony McStea corner tipped over the crossbar by Tommi Tomich. The Knights custodian was again in the thick of the action shortly after by moving sharply to keep out a header from Robert Monterosso. Having taken their time to settle, the Knights began to press and a long-range strike by Cormac Dawson flew narrowly past the upright. An Andrija Jukic volley flashed the wrong side of the post, then Daniel Trim had a goalbound effort saved by Daniel Agudelo at the second attempt. The loss of David Annall to an ankle injury after half an hour disrupted the Knights rhythm and allowed Swan to end the half in control. Brendan Knox tested Tomich with a cracking strike from distance, and just before the break Tomich denied Foster at close-range with a terrific instinctive save. The second half picked up where the first left off with Swan enjoying the better of possession. An inch perfect pass from David Perich sent Foster past the defence only to have Tomich spread himself and eliminate the danger. The hosts persistence reaped rewards on 69 minutes when Shepheard flicked on a corner from McStea and Foster did the rest by nodding in at the back post. The Knights threw everything into conjuring up a late equaliser and Agudelo pulled off a stunning save to thwart Ivan Zuvela. Swan, too, weren’t without their chances and great lead up work from Knox put Foster in the clear only to have Tomich again show his class in making the save.
Perth S.C. was simply a class above Ashfield in claiming a 4-0 victory in the Round One Cup fixture at Ashfield Reserve. All the early running came from the visitors who were quick to establish control of midfield and apply pressure to a young Ashfield backline. Young striker Nikita Rukavytsya should have twice put Perth ahead but a combination of poor finishing and excellent goalkeeping kept the sides on level pegging. The Blues reward arrived on 32 minutes when Gary Faria’s deep cross was hooked back into the danger zone by Trent Kay for Andreas Oliveira to tap into the net from a couple of metres. The margin was doubled right on the stroke of half-time when Faria lashed the ball over the line in a goalmouth scramble after his initial shot and another by Oliveira were blocked. Perth continued after the break where they left off as Michael Ord played through to Rukavytsya but goalkeeper Dusan Martinovic was quick to respond and snuff out the danger. Antonio Naglieri was pulling the strings in the middle of the park and on 53 minutes his terrific pass set-up Scott Bulloch who was unable to capitalise. Perth’s third goal came on the hour when Gianfranco Circati’s blast from 22-metres was parried by Martinovich and in the blink of an eye Kay whipped in the rebound from close-range. Ashfield’s only threat came via Andy O’Neill but he lacked support against a well-organised backline consisting of Michael Icanovski, Kay and Circati. Rukavytsya made amends for his earlier misses in stoppage time with a neat shot on the turn from the edge of the 18-yard box which resulted from neat lead-up work by Faria.
Cockburn City emerged 6-2 winners over Gosnells City when they met at Walter Padbury Reserve. It was far from smooth sailing for the visiting side who fell behind on 11 minutes when Darren Francis darted down the left to deliver an inch-perfect cross which Ian Maguire fired beyond the reach of goalkeeper Dino Pacella from 15-metres. First half openings were scarce for Cockburn as a stubborn Gosnells defence lead by captain Aaron Nadin and veteran Alex Grindley held firm. It was a far better organised Cockburn side that came out after the break and four minutes in Johnny Mirco and Anthony Perriera combined for Josh Kamasz to equalise from the edge of the 18-yard box. Only a few more minutes had elapsed when Giovanni de Bartolo turned his marker and shot past goalkeeper Jade Thorpe to put the visitors in the box seat. A handball decision against Alex Grindley on 69 minutes resulted in a Cockburn penalty and Johnny Mirco gave Thorpe no chance with a vicious finish. Gosnells had a spot kick of their own six minutes later for Paul Natale’s infringement on Brian Cairney, and up stepped Nadin to put the hosts back in the hunt. However, that hope was extinguished shortly after when Grindley received his marching orders for a second bookable offence. Kamasz and de Bartolo danced their way through the area before the latter tapped in his second of the day with twelve minutes remaining. Just minutes after coming off the bench Mileta Miletic added his name the score sheet. The icing was put on the cake by Johnny Mirco who combined with Liam Lilly in opening up the defence before firing in the games eighth goal. Gosnells ended the day with nine men following the late dismissal of Sam Maguire for a second yellow card.
E.C.U. Joondalup dumped Canning City 7-1 on a perfectly manicured surface at the Joondalup campus of Edith Cowan University. Much of the early pressure came from the visitors who went ahead on 11 minutes when Simon Versaico’s shot from 12-metres wrong-footed goalkeeper Andy Petterson. This woke Joondalup from their slumbers and shortly after Mark Lee and Martin Ashworth exchanged passes down the left before the latter crossed to an unmarked Howard Fondyke who volleyed in the equaliser. Joondalup were now in control and Jason Mirco’s delivery into the 18-yard box had only been partially cleared by the defence when Ashworth drilled the ball into the far corner. A third was added to the hosts tally by Scott Blackmore when he brilliantly headed in another dangerous cross by Mirco. Canning kept on pressing and were unlucky not to nick another goal through Versaico whose free-kick was brilliantly saved by Petterson. It took until midway through the second period for Joondalup to make the game safe when Ashworth’s cross evaded all inside the area except Mirco who side-footed in. The goal of the afternoon came from the boot of Blackmore who, after throwing off a defender, unleashed an exquisite curling shot from 27-metres that gave the goalkeeper no chance. A long ball from the back by Anthony Jones made its way to substitute Ian McMurray who was crudely bundled over in the box, and with the resulting penalty Lee sent the ‘keeper the wrong way. Mirco completed a man of the match performance by delivering a superb cross for Tom Amphlett whose low diving header took the gap to six goals. To their credit Canning refused to give up and were unfortunate not to snatch a second late consolation.
A brace of late goals booked Sorrento’s participation in the next round courtesy of a 3-0 defeat of First Division opponent Rockingham City at Percy Doyle Reserve. Rockingham got the game underway but were soon on the back foot as Glen Thomas’ curling effort was tipped wide by Craig Olenjik, and from the resulting corner a goal line clearance by Alan Fitzpatrick denied Todd Harnwell. A few minutes later Daniel Cagorski’s low cross found it’s way to the back post where Harnwell was foiled by Olenjik. The pressure was temporarily released on 10 minutes when Michael Vaz unleashed a vicious shot that Neil Young gathered at the second attempt. A heavily congested midfield dominated the remainder of the half and although Sorrento enjoyed the better of play they rarely called Olenjik into action. This same pattern continued for the twenty or so minutes after the break and, with neither side looking like scoring, some began to wonder if penalties would be required. A double substitution midway through the half sparked a bit of life into the visitors and within minutes of coming on Greg Hyde was denied by Young who was quick off his line to smother . Sorrento’s supporters were finally given reason to smile on 72 minutes when Guy McDonald advanced on goal after latching on to a through ball which he firing low pass Olenjik. Rockingham were left mesmerised by a neat exchange of passes fourteen minutes later between Harnwell, David Wimbridge and Guy McDonald which ended with the latter netting his second of the afternoon at close-range. Sorrento’s third and final goal arrived in the 89th minute as Wimbridge played through to Guy McDonald who unselfishly squared to Harnwell who rifled into the roof of the net.
Wanneroo City were no match for a free-scoring Floreat Athena line-up which ran out 5-2 winners at Kingsway Reserve. It took only ten minutes for the visitors to open their account through Stefan Smiljanic who headed in powerfully at the back post from a Miki Vujacic corner. The margin became two goals twelve minutes later as Floreat worked an indirect free-kick around the defensive wall for Josip Magdic to slot in from 10-metres. The game was ended as a contest on 26 minutes when Peter Coci delivered a cross on to the head of a diving Smiljanic who gave goalkeeper Kevin Miller no chance. Smiljanic was twice presented with opportunities to increase Floreat’s tally when sent past the defence but on both occasions was foiled by the Wanneroo custodian. As half time approached Madgic poked in his second of the afternoon to increase the difference to four goals. Within minutes of the restart Smiljanic posted his hat-trick by running on to a through ball from James Isaia and driving a low shot into the far corner of Miller’s net. Although shell-shocked at conceding again, Wanneroo regrouped to work their way back into the game with Morgan Dendle and Derek Cooke particularly effective when going forward. A defensive misunderstanding allowed Ahmed Hafez in to drill past Vas Vujacic at close-range and reduce the deficit. Minutes later Hafez unleashed a stunning shot on the turn from 20-metres which crashed into the frame of the goal before crossing the line. Wanneroo continued to pressure but could find few ways to open up a well-organised backline consisting of John Migas, Julian Madaschi and Isaia. Miller prevented the score from blowing out late in the game by denying both Coci and Branimir Mikulic in one-on-one situations.
Bayswater City progressed to the second phase by downing Forrestfield United 4-1 in a spiteful contest at Frank Drago Reserve. Play has been under way less than a minute when the hosts were awarded a soft penalty that Daniel Naumovski converted by sending Matt Zappacosta the wrong way. Jason Kindon and Michael Bushby responded by seizing control of the middle ground as Forrestfield went in search of an equaliser. A stinging shot on the run by Matt Harold whistled narrowly past the top corner, while an explosive strike by Roger Miron flashed across Gianni Papalia and wide of the far post. So it was against the run of play that Bayswater increased their advantage on 19 minutes when Sal Marrapodi ran on to Rick Fonseca’s pass over the defence and clipped the bouncing ball past the oncoming goalkeeper. Forrestfield brought the gap back to a single goal eight minutes later as Craig Ruthven floated a free-kick into the area where Miron was afforded time to control and fire in at point-blank range. Lucas Whitehouse was presented with a terrific chance to level just before the break but his close was too close to the ‘keeper in a one-on-one. Bayswater began the second half with a bang and Ryan Frisina kept his cool by calmly slotting in goal number three on the counterattack. This opened up the game and good chances presented at both ends of the park. Miron got on the end of a Harold cross but his header was cleared off the line by Andrew Afkos, and a couple of minutes later a close-range Frisina header cannoned off the underside of the crossbar. Any hope Forrestfield had of a late revival evaporated when Wes Ryder’s cross came off Andy McGettrick and ricocheted in at the front past with eleven minutes remaining.
Armadale scrambled to victory 3-2 against a determined Balcatta line-up at Graham Burkett Reserve. Rob Crerar opened the scoring after 26 minutes with Jason Goodwin adding Armadale's second to put the visitors in a commanding position by half-time. However, within nine minutes of the re-start Balcatta were back on level terms as John Nicolaou and Rob Giorgi found the back of the net. The deciding goal arrived on 70 minutes when Kodi Madeley hit the target. Further details of this game were not forthcoming from either of the two participating clubs.
INDOOR OPTION LOOKING GOOD FOR GLORY
Plans to move Perth Glory indoors the Burswood Dome are gathering momentum. According to co-owner Tony Sage, who officially took control of the club this week, both Football Federation Australia and FoxSports have thrown their support behind switching Glory’s home venue. “Stadium wise, Burswood is ready to go. The pitch takes eight hours to put in and about twelve hours to remove, and (Burswood) would absorb a lot of the costs,” said Sage. “We’re waiting to hear back from them though in regards to capacity. We want to average 12,500 this season so we need at least that many seats plus room for 1,000 corporates. We are working together with rugby and there is a chance that a new rectangular stadium will be built at the Burswood precinct.” It’s understood the Glory hierarchy tabled an offer to Members Equity Stadium management yesterday, but that is believed to be the club’s second option.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
The 2007 association Cup kicks off on Saturday with a blockbuster trio of games highlighting the opening round. The pick of the action takes place in the Swan Valley where last years Cup finalists Swan I.C. are up against the Western Knights. The black and whites have a strong Cup record of recent years but will have to be on top of their game to get past the Knights in Ronnie Campbell’s tenth year at the helm.
Floreat Athena were one of the form teams in pre-season and they venture to Kingsway Reserve tomorrow when Wanneroo City have their sights set on causing an upset. First Division outfit Balcatta is keen to start their season on a positive note and what better way would there be that to topple top flighters Armadale who make the trip to Graham Burkett Reserve.
Ashfield have a tough home fixture with Perth S.C., and it’s a similar story for Canning City who head to E.C.U. Joondalup. The first meeting of Bayswater Cityand Forrestfield United in over twenty years takes place at Alfred Skeet Oval. Rockingham City travel to the northern suburbs where Sorrento are hosts, while Gosnells City have home ground advantage against Cockburn City.
Allocated a free pass into Round Two of the prestigious knock-out competition, scheduledfor Saturday2nd June, areDianella White Eagles, Fremantle Spirit, Inglewood United, Mandurah City, Morley Windmills, Queens Park and Stirling Lions. Thefinal of the 2007 association Cup, sponsored by Soccer Pools,will be held on Saturday 13th October at a venue yet to be decided.
KOVACEVIC SIGNS FOR FLOREAT
Floreat Athena is proud to announce the capture offormer Perth Glory defender Ante Kovacevic for season 2007.Peter Koulizos, Floreat president, is excitedby the prospect of Kovacevic donning his clubs blue and white stripes."There is no secret that many clubs throughout Australia and Asia were keen for Ante’s services," said Koulizos. “This is a player of high regard who still has much to offer the football family and now he is part of the blue and white family at Floreat.”
Kovacevic, who played over 250 national league games forMelbourne Knights, Adelaide City, South Melbourne and Perth Glory, is looking forward tocontinuing his career at Litis Stadium.“Floreat is a progressive football club in Australian StateLeague terms," the 32-year old commented. "They have forged a unique sister club arrangement with South Melbourne [and]have a hunger to return to their successful past and I want to be part of it. It is time for me to give something back to grass roots football,that’s where I started and that’s where I will end my playing days.”
Melbourne-born Kovacevicstarted his senior career atVictorianclub St. Albansfrom whom he stepped up to national league level with the Knights.Between1994 and 2000 the solidly built defenderfeatured regularly for the Knightsand twice helped the club to Grand Final victory.Kovaceviccommenced a three season spell with Adelaide in 2000, and that was followed by single seasons atSouth Melbourne and in Malaysia with Selangor. His final two seasons at national league level were with Glory where Kovacevic was a near ever-present.
COCKBURN’S MIRCO HINTS AT RETIREMENT
The name Michael Mirco is synonymous with the Cockburn City. Mirco has over the proved a difficult opponent for the league's top defenders through his tremendous pace, exquisite skill and keen eye for goal. But at the age of 30, Mirco is considering bringing his career to an end. “I’m looking forward to this season which may be my last,” he commented. “I’ll see how I go, and most of all how the body goes.”
Cockburn started the pre-season Night Series slowly but picked up the pace with Mirco leading the way. He feels the direction Cockburn are heading under former Perth Glory and Australia defender Scott Miller is the right one. “We did begin the Night Series a little bit rough, but Scotty gave some of our fringe players a run to see how they would go, and I think he was pleasantly surprised with a few of them,” Mirco commented.
As well as playing, Mirco is taking on a mentor role at Cockburn this year to aid the development of the youngsters at Dalmatinac Park. “I’ll help the younger players out in training and on match days,” he said. “That’s why I’m hanging around the club, and we do have a great deal of exciting talented players coming up through the ranks and it bodes well for the club’s future. I love the club so I’ll just keep at it.”
The off-season coaching change at Cockburn has given Michael’s younger brother, Johnny, a new lease of life at the club after falling out of favour last year. “He didn’t see eye-eye with the coaches last season, but you get that sometimes,” he said. “Johnny was given a chance in the Night Series to show what he can do and played really well.” Johnny Mirco’s importance to Cockburn was underlined by the winning goals against Fremantle Spirit and Floreat Athena.
Mirco’s potential was identified as a teenager when he gained State Under-15 honours as a junior for Spearwood Dalmatinac. His progression up through the ranks lead to Mirco becoming an integral part of the first eleven and in 1997 he made his senior State debut in the 2-0 defeat of Singapore. Mirco was an influential figure at Fremantle City whom he helped win the 2000 Premier League championship. In the past four years he’s twice helped Cockburn claim the regular season runners-up spot.
BAYSWATER ADD DEPTH
A trio of signings has strengthened Bayswater City's plans to return to the top flight at the soonest opportunity. One-time New Zealand international Adrian Sutton heads the list of newcomers to Frank Drago Reserve which former State youth team goalkeeper Gianni Papalia and exciting young attacker Ryan Frisina will also call home. Sutton, who cut short time with Perth S.C. to join Bayswater, says he's looking forward to the coming season. "I've been enjoying training at Bayswater and all the boys have made me feel welcome," he said. "The club are ambitious about getting back in the Premier League and I'd like to be part in that." Sutton, Papalia and Frisina are expected to make their Bayswater debuts in Saturday's home association Cup meeting with Forrestfield United.
SWAN UNEARTH TEENAGE GEM IN MASON
For Swan I.C. teenager Geoff Mason 2007 is shaping up to be a memorable year. Mason, last seasons’ Young Player of the Year, has shown he’s ready to step up from youth team football by scoring his first goals at senior level in Swan’s 4-1 Night Series victory over Wanneroo City last month. “It was great to score my first senior goals for the club but I was disappointed not to score a hat-trick,” said Mason. “Best of all it was our first win of pre-season competition and we’re hoping that will kick-start our season for the Cup game against Western Knights this week.”
Mason joined the Swan midway through last season from Bayswater City and put away sixteen goals for the under-18 side and a further four in the reserves. “It’s great to now be playing first team, it’s a huge step up from the under-18’s” commented Mason, who also scored in the weekend friendly defeat of Balcatta. “I’m enjoying the challenge and having fun which is the main thing. The guy’s have made me feel really welcome and it was great to repay the coaching staff’s faith in me with a couple of goals.”
First team coach Carlo Scali has no doubts Mason can make it to the next level. “Geoff has shown he can mix it with the big boys in the Night Series and at training,” he said. “He shows a lot of fight and has a good turn of speed, but being young he needs to work on his physical and mental strength and learning to play a more complete game. He should be pushing for a first team spot this year and could be a regular for the first team if he keeps scoring goals.”
MICEVSKI ENTERS THE LIONS DEN
Stirling Lions’ summer recruit Daniel Micevski can’t wait for the home and away series to commence. Following a season of disappointment at Bayswater City, the exciting midfielder has moved to Macedonia Park where some impressive Night Series performances underlined the impact he hopes to have this season. “I’ve been happy with the way I’ve settled in at the club, the boys have been great and made me feel welcome. It was also good to score my first goals for the club during the Night Series.”
With a number of clubs chasing his signature, Micevski found himself in demand during the off-season. “What brought me to Stirling was Mike Lyons,” the 22-year old explained. “He has a lot of experience in the game so to play under him is a great opportunity. There’s also a number of younger guys at the club I know well and they’ve helped me settle in, and added to that is it’s a return to the club were I started my junior playing career.”
Micevski was outstanding in the middle of the park last year for Bayswater who fought unsuccessfully to avoid relegation. “It was difficult not getting the results we needed last season and struggling in a relegation scrap, it wasn’t very enjoyable,’ he commented of the demands of playing week in week out with your back to the wall. “But I believe I developed a lot as a player, and I’m happy about that. I’ve no regrets and I’m really looking forward to the season with the Lions.”
Last year was a roaring success for Stirling and Micevski feels there will be some pressure on the club to continue that trend. “The Lions did have a successful season in 2006 and the coach expects us to perform to that standard again so there will be pressure on the guys,” he said. “There’ll be a number of clubs who’ll be strong this season. Perth and Western Knights will be up there, I’m sure Sorrento will want to hold on to their title, and Floreat Athena have a good young side also.”
The Micevski name is familiar in West Australian football circles through David Micevski who plies his trade at Perth Glory. And the opportunity to play alongside his brother at national league level would be a dream come true for the Stirling midfielder. “That is one of my ambitions at the moment, along with my university studies,” he said. “I’ll have to perform well here at the Lions, and that is my only focus at present but I’d love to play along side David one day … but only time will tell.”
GLORY LINE-UP FORMER ENGLSH INTERNATIONAL
Perth Glory’s ambitious new owners are keen to sign English Premier League striker Teddy Sheringham for a guest stint at the start of the next A-League season. Glory co-owner Tony Sage has confirmed that talks had been held with representatives of Sheringham, who turned 41 yesterday. Ron Smith has not been involved in the discussions but Sage said the Glory coach would make all decisions on player recruitments. “It’s completely up to Ron who he wants to sign,” Sage said. “But Teddy is fit, he’s still playing and I think he would add a lot of value to the club both on and off the field.” Sage also revealed Glory had not completely given up hope of signing Italian great Gianfranco Zola should the Sheringham deal not come to fruition, while the club has also expressed an interest in former Dutch international Pierre van Hooijdonk.
TOPOR-STANLEY ADDED TO GLORY SQUAD
Australian youth international Nikolai Topor-Stanley will wear the purple and orange of Perth Glory after committing to the club for their next two seasons of A-League football. “The club has made some really positive steps in the past couple of months with new owners coming on board and the coaching staff putting together a new look squad which I’m confident will be able to have an impact in the finals next season,” said Topor-Stanley. “There is a real buzz throughout the league about Perth Glory and I can’t wait to be part of it.”
Glory assistant coach David Mitchell has been keeping a close eye on the up and coming star and believes Topor-Stanley will be a valuable addition to the sides defence. “Nikolai is a confident and skilful defender who will give us added flexibility on the left which was an area where we lacked depth last season,” Mitchell said of the 22-year old. “He is a terrific athlete who is creative in his movement from the back, he also likes to get forward and is a big threat in front of goal from set pieces.”
ON THIS DAY … 1976
A young and experimental West Australian State team drew 2-2 with Indonesian First Division champion Jayakarta on Thursday 1st April, 1976. On the balance of chances created the State side should have won easily, however, they had to settle for honours even from a game which lacked sparkle. Jayakarta, typical of the Asian style, kept on the move and probing for a passage to goal. It was surprising that they failed to make headway because WA’s defence for most of the match was all at sea.
Despite WA’s lack of system, they opened the scoring in the 4th minute when Tony Trinca ran along the wing and sent a high cross to the far post for Bert Kirkpatrick to head into the roof of the net. Six minutes later Trina picked up a loose ball for a corner, rounded the defence and hammered home a second goal from point-blank range. Jayakarta reduced the hosts lead five minutes later when Tony Witschge blocked a shot on goal and Risdianto pounced on the loose ball by lashing it into the top corner.
WA squandered a couple of golden opportunities to increase the margin midway through the half. On the half hour Dave Jones was unable to find the net with an open goal at his mercy, and five minutes later John O’Connell did likewise. Early in the second half the State side strung together some great passes but with Jayakarta playing it square at the back the hosts attacks were halted by the offside flag.
The best of Jayakarta’s attacks came from out wide where their pace continually caught WA out, but poor finishing prevented the visitors from capitalising on some superb supply from the flanks. Territorially, Jayakarta were swamping the home side and eventually they were rewarded with an equalising goal through winger Andi Lala who crashed a loose ball past Witschge after he did well in parrying another goal bound shot.
Western Australia (squad): Tony Witschge, Stephen Martin, Sauro Iozzelli, Arno Bertogna, Dave Jones, Ian Emslie, Johnny Fiamengo, Stephen Sceats, Gary Marocchi, John O’Connell, Bert Kirkpatrick, Clive Pearce, Wally Migas, Tony Trina
STIRLING CLAIM INAUGURAL SHIELD
Stirling Lions captured the inaugural Football West Shield by toppling Sorrento 2-0 at Litis Stadium this afternoon. It took a while for both teams to some rhythm and get out of first gear with the first meaningful attack arriving on 12 minutes when Glen Thomas’ deep free-kick found the head of Steven McDonald whose effort was cleared off the line. A golden opportunity to put Stirling ahead was wasted by Okwy Diamondstar six minutes later after neat approach work from Phil Arnold and David Dugdale set up the big attacker who blasted wide.
Thomas was featuring prominently in the middle of the park for Sorrento as Todd Harnwell tested the reflexes of Phil Straker. With 28 minutes gone Stirling got the all important breakthrough when Keith Brown’s corner was powerfully headed over the line by Kevin Henderson, despite appeals from Sorrento that a defender had in fact cleared the ball from on the line. In introduction of David Wimbridge re-ignited the Gull’s and within minutes the youngster rifled just high of the crossbar following a great pass by Guy McDonald.
The second half opened with Stirling determined to put the game to bed and Phil Arnold, Dugdale and Diamondstar ensuring there was not a moments peace for the Gulls rearguard. On 64 minutes Arnold almost doubled his teams lead with a stinging shot which Neil Young could only parry and with the follow up Tommy Jones’ header was deflected wide for a corner. A foul on Andy Brown soon after resulted in a free-kick just outside the 18-yard box from where Keith Brown crashed a swinging shot into the top corner to double Stirling’s advantage.
With no choice now but to chase the game, Sorrento threw Steve McDonald into the attack but for the most part the Gulls lacked the creativity required to break down an opposition defence under the command of Henderson. Playing on the counterattack, Stirling were unfortunate not to add to their tally as Dugdale and Arnold sent shots narrowly wide of the target. The final whistle was greeted with much celebration from Stirling’s loyal supporters who were pleased as punch by the addition of another trophy to the cabinet.
Stirling Lions: Phil Straker, Michael
Pugliese, Kevin Henderson, Steven Hesketh,
K.Hansen (Dale McCulloch 79), Ludovic Boi (Tom
Jones 60), Keith Brown, Okwy Diamondstar (Andy
Brown 60), Leo Harman, Phil Arnold, David Dugdale
Sorrento: Neil Young, Karl Poore, Cameron Yorke (Scott Neville 61), Steven McDonald, Stuart Banks, Lewis Flatt, Guy McDonald, Glen Thomas (D.Ashworth 81), Daniel Cagorski, Todd Harnwell, Dejan Gurovski (David Wimbridge 35)
Referee: Ton Klaver
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
The 2006 Premier League champions and Cup holders meet across this weekend in the inaugural Football West Shield. The State League Shield pits Sorrento against Stirling Lions at Litis Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The curtain-raiser is a friendly between the National Training Centre boy's team and a State League youth XI.
The action flows through into Sunday afternoon with the League champion and Cup winner of the amateur and womens' competitions playing off at Dalmatinac Park. The Amateur Shield promises to be a hotly contested clash between Spearwood Dalmatinac and Fremantle United. This is preceded by the Womens' Shield in which Balcatta take on Queens Park.
ASHFIELD ACHIEVE PRE-SEASON GOAL
Ashfield could not have wished for a better start to the year than by claming the First Division/Amateur Night Series. "Winning the pre-season competition was one of our team goals for 2007," said coach Salv Todaro following his teams' 3-1 defeat of Bayswater City on Sunday. "The game itself was quite the spectacle - it was quick, there were strong challenges, good passages of play, some great individual performances, a couple of well worked goals and a super strike by Rick Fonseca."
The early season success positions Ashfield well for the coming league campaign. "It's good for the boys to have played some meaningful games with a little bit of intensity in them," said Todaro. "Pre-season friendlies can at times lack what's required to get the team in shape and match sharp. I was very pleased with the way that the boys played on Sunday, especially the first 25 minutes when we had good movement of the ball. The tournament has also given me the opportunity to try out a few ideas in a competitive atmosphere."
Shortly after Ashfield took the lead through Michael Filippou, Bayswater had a goal ruled out and a player sent off. "I thought Bayswater had their best spell of the game after the send off when they put enormous pressure on us," commented Todaro. "From where I was standing I didn't think Sal Marrapodi's shot crossed the line, and people sitting in front of the clubhouse who had a much better view than me also said the ball did not cross the line. And I think Matt Novatsis' sending off resulted from the frustration of having the disallowed goal."
With Ashfield a goal up at the break and playing with an extra man, Todaro made sure his players' minds remained stayed focused on the task at hand. "I reminded them of their individual jobs, and that nothing had changed - we were still playing a final and I expected Bayswater to come out all fired up. I also pointed out that teams with ten players usually lift their intensity and if we weren't on our guard we could end up paying for it. I was pleased with the way the boys stood up and handled themselves given the circumstances."
Second half strikes from Filippou and Andy O'Neill secured Ashfield their first trophy under Todaro. "I was really happy for the players when the final whistle went as they've worked really hard in the pre-season and success on Sunday was a small reward for them," said Todaro. "The win helps the players to believe in themselves and provides us a good platform from which to start the new season. As a club we are still rebuilding regarding the under-18 and reserve teams and hopefully Sunday's win will encourage potential players that we are worth a go."
SORRENTO SECURE WALSALL LEGEND
Veteran English defender Chris Marsh has joined Premier League champion Sorrento for the coming season. Marsh, who made 479 appearances for Walsall, has accepted a player-coach role with the northern suburbs outfit. "Initially it will be for six to nine months. That way I can take a look at the club and they can take a look at me," said Marsh. "I was going to go coach in American but this offer really appealed to me."
Marsh says he is looking forward to strapping on his playing boots for Sorrento. "I didn't really miss playing after I retired, but when I started to do some coaching with the youngsters at Walsall the football bug hit me again," he commented. "After playing for fifteen years as a professional I needed to do something different for a while, but deep down I don't think you ever fall out of love with the game."
In addition to helping Sorrento defend their title, Marsh will assist first team coach Steve Neville and conduct junior coaching courses during his time in Perth. "This game is was my life for such a long time and it's really all I know," said the 37-year old. "It will give me a chance to see what's involved in the management side of things and hopefully I can learn a few things."
Marsh signed for Walsall shortly after leaving school and quickly established himself as a regular part of the club's defence. Over the course of the fifteen seasons he would gain promotion with the Saddlers on three occasions, and endure the disappointment of relegation three times, before leaving in 2002 as their longest-serving player. Spells at Wycombe Wanderers and Northampton Town took his career tally to 534 senior games before entering retirement in 2003.
PERTH'S KAY STEPS UP TO THE MARK
The manner by which Perth S.C. swept their way to consecutive Night Series titles on the weekend is sure to send a shiver down the spines of their Premier League rivals. It was a polished display from Graham Normanton's side who scored twice in each half to out-class E.C.U. Joondalup 4-0. One of the star performances on the night came from towering young defender Trent Kay who, alongside Michael Icanovski and Gianfranco Circati, kept at bay an opponent which fought tooth and nail right up to the final whistle.
Kay feels the foundations for Perth's pre-season trophy success was laid by a commanding opening 45 minutes of football. "We played really well in the first half, holding most of the possession and knocking the ball around nicely, and the reward for that was a two-goal half-time lead," said the 20-year old. "Joondalup came at us after the break and looked very strong early on but just couldn't find the back of the net. We worked really hard for each other to make sure they didn't break through, and when we got the ball down the other end we made the most of our chances."
While it's the goalscorers who usually collect the accolades, Perth's defensive combination of Icanovski, Circati and Kay deserves a big round of applause for the way they responded to their opponents' never-ending pressure. "Our back line was very strong on Sunday night," commented Kay, who was particularly happy with his contribution. "You tend to play better when you have the full support and confidence of the players around you, and I thought I did well against Joondalup."
There's a strong desire inside the Perth camp to erase once and for all the memories of a disappointing 2006 campaign. "We won the Night Series last year and were looking very good for the season ahead," explained Kay. "However, when the league games started we were unable to follow through and ended in seventh place. The disappointments of 2006 will spur us on this season, they'll be there in the back of our minds and all the players will be working very hard to make sure there are no repeat performances."
Winning the Night Series put Perth in a strong position for the coming season according to Kay. "I think we'll be staking a strong claim for winning the league this year," he commented. "That said, it's not going to be a walk in the park - we're going to have to play some quality football and put in the hard yards if we want to be near the top of the table. Competition is going to be fairly intense with Western Knights, Stirling Lions and Floreat Athena the teams to beat, and Sorrento will be up there as well."
Kay joined Perth just over four years ago and attributes his rapid rise to senior ranks to the coaching team at Dorrien Gardens. "I joined Perth in 2003 and owe a lot to all the coaches I've played under," explained Kay. "I started in the 18's with Aldo Trinca and had two years playing regularly for John Coyne in the reserves. Last year I moved up to the first team and that was a huge learning curve for me ... Graham Normanton is very passionate about his football and always pushing his players to the next level."
JONES SIGNS NEW MIDDLESBROUGH DEAL
Brad Jones has agreed a new contract with Middlesbrough that will keep him at the club until mid-2009. The 23-year old has been an understudy to first-choice custodian Mark Schwarzer at the Riverside for the past few seasons and is considered an important part of teh club's future. "It's pleasing that we have managed to keep hold of a promising young goalkeeper who was coveted by other clubs," manager Gareth Southgate told the Middlesbrough website. "It's about him developing over the next couple of years and pressing Mark Schwarzer for his position."
AUSTRALIA PICK UP CRUCIAL WIN OVER SAUDI ARABIA
Australian has secured a vital 2-0 win over Saudi Arabia in this eveings' qualifying match for the Beijing Olympic games. A headed goal in the 74th minute from Nikolai Topor-Stanley and a stoppage time strike by Kristian Sarkies secured three important points for Australia who move to within a point of the Saudis who remain top of Group D. Midfielder Nick Ward played the opening 65 minutes while new Perth Glory recruit Tando Velaphi was an unused substitute.
CHINESE STEEL GIANTS TO SPONSOR GLORY
Chinese steel company Delong Holdings have come on board as Perth Glory's joint-major sponsor for the 2007/08 season. Co-owner Tony Sage said the sponsorship package, valued at $750,000 for a single season, is one of the most lucrative in Australian football. "Delong Holdings want to introduce their brand in Australia and believe Perth Glory is an ideal vehicle to drive that programme," Sage said.
The sponsorship deal is likely to open the door for Glory to play friendlies against Chinese Premier League side Zhejiang Lucheng, which is owned by chairman of Delong, Liguo Ding. "We have spoken about having matches each year in Perth and Beijing between Perth Glory and his team," Sage explained. "He believes that would attract around 50,000 people in the Chinese capital to come along and see Glory play, which would be a magnificent experience for our players and great preparation during the pre-season."
Glory's playing strip will feature both the Delong Holdings logo and that of long-time supporter Western QBE Insurance next season. "Western QBE enjoys a strong position in the Australian business landscape and Delong Holdings are an emerging presence in this country," Sage said. "We look forward to working with both companies to ensure they receive the best value from their investment and I believe that Perth Glory has now set the benchmark in Australian football sponsorship."
WARDLE ENCOURAGED BY EARLY SIGNS
Plans for Bayswater City's speedy return to the Premier League are well gathering pace. New coaches Gerry Wardle and Willie Herd have been bunkered down at Frank Drago Reserve mapping out plans for what looms to be a difficult season for their club. "We've been here only six weeks and know there's a lot of hard work ahead of us," Wardle commented. "The club is currently in a rebuilding phase after being relegated last year and the departure of a lot of players."
Anyone associated with the Bayswater club last season will tell you it was a period they'd much rather forget. 2006 pre-season expectations of a strong year were eroded when the first team coach walked out on the club after the opening round of the home and away series, and two subsequent changes of coach only created further instability at the club. By seasons' end Bayswater had scrambled just four wins from their twenty-two starts to end the campaign in last place.
Restoring confidence to a shell-shocked squad was a priority for Wardle and Herd. "When we first arrived at Bayswater confidence was low and fitness was very poor," he said. "So our first job was to get the players' confidence back and improve their fitness levels. We are getting there but it's very much still a work in progress ... making the Night Series final certainly helped and was a fitting reward for all the hard work the players have been putting in."
Bayswater's coaches have spent considerable time assembling a squad they feel can elevate the into the upper reaches of the First Division table. "Willie and myself have had a good look at the players who remained with Bayswater," explained Wardle. "We've assessed what we have to do player-wise to get us into a position to contend for promotion. Our first signing was Kevin Carmona, and there a couple more players we hope to sign very shortly."
Wardle admits it won't be easy for Bayswater to achieve his season goal. "Our target for the season is pure and simple - to win games and gain promotion," Wardle commented. "Having said that, it will be extremely hard to win promotion this year as everyone is capable of beating each other on their day. The favourites for promotion have to be Mandurah City, they've recruited some good players and are a well organised side."
RUKAVYTSYA SIGNS FOR GLORY
One of west Australia's most exciting young prospects, striker Nikita Rukavytsya, has joined Perth Glory on a two-year deal. The 19-year old says he's delighted to be given an opportunity to play national league football after honing his skills at the Australian Institute of Sport and with local club Perth S.C. "Playing for Perth was a really good grounding and I'm looking forward to taking the next step in my career," Rukavytsya said.
Rukavytsya trained with Glory for several months last season and received an opportunity to showcase his skills in the club's final three A-league encounters. "I learned a lot just by being around the team last season," he said. "Having the chance to play a few games gave me a taste for playing in the A-League and I can't wait to start pre-season training and get back out on the pitch."
The young striker's tenacity and eye for goal impressed Glory coach Ron Smith who is putting together a new look strike force this season. "He's a quality finisher and that's a very encouraging sign in a young striker," said Smith. "He doesn't drop his head if he misses a scoring opportunity, he just puts in the hard work to create another chance and more often than not the ball finds itself in the back of the net."
Glory now have eighteen contracted players for the 2007/08 A-League season, twelve of whom are West Australian. Smith says it's a reflection of the quality of local talent on offer and the club's commitment to providing a path for local players to progress to the professional level. "It's terrific to have local lads coming through that fans can identify with and may have seen as younger players," Smith commented.
GLORY CONFIRM NEW CEO
Perth Glory has announced the appointment of Scott Gooch to the position of Chief Executive Officer. Tony Sage, who recently took control of the club in partnership with Brett McKeon and John Spence, said Gooch was the stand-out candidate in an extremely strong field of contenders for the role. Gooch takes over from Michelle Phillips who has been offered a position with governing body Football Federation Australia.
"This is a new era for Perth Glory and we believe that the position of CEO at the club is one of the most exciting and challenging in Western Australian professional sport," Sage said. "In appointing Scott we have someone who strongly believes in Perth Glory and shares the vision and passion of the owners to revitalise this club. Scott has a wealth of experience in professional sport and an outstanding network of corporate contacts which will go a long way to strengthening our off-field position."
Gooch joins Glory after six and a half years with AFL club West Coast Eagles where he held the position of Relationship Marketing Manager during a time the club experienced considerable growth. "I'm very much looking forward to leading Perth Glory and am confident with the backing of our owners this club will have a bright future," Gooch said. "Football in Australia continues to blossom and Perth Glory has the opportunity to further entrench itself in the WA sporting landscape."
FLOREAT JOINS FORCES WITH SOUTH MELBOURNE
Floreat Athena have formalised a 'sister club' arrangement with Victoria Premier League giant South Melbourne. Members of the Floreat board recently met with Jim Marinos, South Melbourne's football director, to sign off on the agreement which includes player development, sponsorship and corporate exposure.
"The arrangement is the first of it's kind for Australian football," explained Floreat committee member Alex Novatsis. "It is the result of both club's board of management having similar visions in regards to taking their respective clubs forward. The great thing for Floreat is we will have a greater insight into the management of one of Australia's most successful football clubs."
"Formal documents of understanding and cooperation have been signed to facilitate the sharing of idea's and strategies of all aspects of football club operations, including financial management and squad development," added Novatsis. "There's the potential for Floreat players to play in the Victorian state league, while South Melbourne players will have the opportunity to turn out in Football West competitions. The two clubs have also made it a goal to play friendly matches in the future."
WARD ON TRACK FOR OLYMPIC HONOURS
Olympic hopeful Nick Ward has no regrets about his decision to swap the relative comforts of the A-League for the hard slog in England. The former Perth Glory midfielder has done it tough since moving overseas last June and admits feeling refreshed by his return to Australia to help the national under-23 team plot their way to the Beijing Olympics. "It's been nice to get back and to see my family. And the under-23s is a different style of football; it's more enjoyable. It's not as direct and you get a lot more touches on the ball," Ward said while in Perth prior to Wednesday's crucial qualifier against Saudi Arabia.
Ward was forced to take a backward step within months of clinching a deal with Championship club Queens Park Rangers. His time in England began promisingly only to unravel when manager Gary Waddock was replaced by John Gregory and Ward, who turned 22 yesterday, found himself on the outer. Unable to force his way back into the starting line-up, he took up a loan offer from League One side Brighton and Hove Albion and commutes the two and a half hour round trip from London to England's south coast for daily training sessions.
It's not what Ward had envisaged when he left Australia as the country's brightest young star, but he's taken it in his stride and not been deterred by the experience. "I still think it was a good move. I feel more experienced now and I've been involved with the Socceroos a couple of times in London," said Ward, who has been part of Australia's train-on squad, though he is yet to make his senior debut. "I think if I'd been playing regularly for QPR I probably would've played for the Socceroos by now."
Australia's new Dutch under-23 coach, Rob Baan, has been impressed by Ward, whose commitment to the national team has been highlighted by his presence in Australia for the qualifiers. Ward has his heart set on helping Australia qualify for the Olympics and knows that good performances with the under-23s will also further enhance his chances of convincing Socceroos coach Graham Arnold he is ready for senior football. Ward is contracted to Rangers for another year but has been linked with possible moves to Belgium, the Netherlands or Italy.
PREMIER LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES, FINAL
Perth S.C. made it back-to-back Night Series crowns by smashing E.C.U. Joondalup 4-0 in this evening's final at Litis Stadium. Cheered on by an enthusiastic crowd of around 1,000, Perth scored twice in each half to claim the pre-season title for the fifth time in seven years. Garry Chandler, chief executive of Football West, was thrilled with the turnout and said the game was a fantastic way to finish the pre-season competition. "The crowd and atmosphere here tonight was amazing and it was a fantastic game," said Chandler.
Joondalup started positively and Scott Blackmore's looping header found the junction of crossbar and upright, with Ian McMurray snapping a difficult follow-up high. With 15 minutes elapsed Gary Faria's slide-rule pass opened up the northerners defensive line for Scott Bulloch to race through and poke the opening goal past an on-coming goalkeeper. Andreas Oliveira should have added to Perth's tally moments later but somehow mis-kicked Trent Kay's cutback from the right. The game would have soon after been back on level terms if not for Gareth Deeg who smothered at the feet of Jamie Gibb, and shortly after the Perth 'keeper turned away a close-range effort from McMurray.
By the half hour mark Perth's trio of Gary Faria, Michael Ord and Costa Socratous had established control over the middle of the park. A fierce first time strike by Nikita Rukavytsya from just outside the 18-yard box forced Aleks Vrteski into a smart save. Faria and Ord opened up Joondalup's defence with a superb exchange of passes that ended with the latter placing narrowly high of the bar. Their reward came on 36 minutes when Faria centred to Oliveira who's grasscutter from 22-metres flashed across Vrteski and crept inside the far post.
The second half began with a bang as Deeg was stretched full-length to tip away Howard Fondyke's stinging volley. Joondalup clearly meant business and for the next fifteen minutes it was pretty much one-way traffic as Martin Ashworth and Mark Lee made their presence felt down the left. But for all their enterprise Joondalup carved out few genuine chances on goal against a Perth backline that stood its ground. Anthony Jones headed high by the narrowest of margins, David Abel crashed the ball into the frame of the goal from a Lee corner, and a powerful McMurray header was pushed wide by the 'keeper.
Perth secured themselves the seasons' first trophy via an efficient counterattack on 73 minutes in which Rukavytsya laid an inch-perfect pass in behind the defence which Bulloch rifled into the roof of the net from 14-metres. There was still plenty of fight left in Joondalup and Jones' header was just wide from a cross by Ashworth who, minutes later, provided the ammunition for McDarby to fire into the side-netting. Perth then relayed the ball to the opposite end where Faria angled a low pass across the top of the 6-yard box which Puca slid into the net from close-range.
Perth S.C.: Gareth Deeg, Gianfranco Circati, Michael Icanovski
(Simon Trinca 85), Trent Kay, Scott Bulloch (Antonio Naglieri 82),
Todd Howarth, Michael Ord, Costa Socratous (Robbie Puca 62), Gary
Faria, Nikita Rukavytsya, Andreas Oliviera
E.C.U. Joondalup: Aleks Vrteski, Anthony Jones, Matt Donlevy, David Abel, Steve Baines (Howard Fondyke 45), Jason Mirco (Tom Amphlett 70), Scott Blackmore, Mark Lee, Martin Ashworth, Ian McMurray, Jamie Gibb (Ryan McDarby 45)
Referee: Troy Miller
FIRST DIVISION/AMATEUR NIGHT SERIES, FINAL
Ashfield claimed the First Division/Amateur Night Series trophy by defeating neighbours Bayswater City 3-1 in a fiercely contested game at Litis Stadium. The early exchanges belonged to Ashfield who moved the ball around with great fluency as Daniel Webb and Igor Novakovic asserted their influence in midfield. A terrific cross from the right by Julian Piromalli lead to the first chance on goal which Mohammad Komaderic headed the wrong side of the post. For their part, Bayswater's early openings came through dead ball situations but Peter Treeby remained untested in goal.
The deadlock was broken on 32 minutes when man-of-the-match Michael Filippou met a free-kick ahead of goalkeeper Drazan Saric which he headed into the vacant net to hand Ashfield a deserved lead. Controversy erupted two minutes later when Bayswater were denied an equaliser as Sal Marrapodi's shot cannoned off the underside of the crossbar and was ruled to have not crossed the line by referee Vince Trimboli. The decision raised tempers within the Bayswater camp and, with 35 minutes played, they were reduced to ten men after the dismissal of Matthew Novatsis for a rash challenge on Andy O'Neill
The second half was three minutes old when Ashfield doubled their advantage through Filippou who found the back of the net after Komaderic's initial effort was fumbled by Saric. Ashfield should have added a third to their tally but O'Neill miscued his shot from inside the 18-yard box. O'Neill did find the target shortly after only to be ruled offside when receiving a centring pass from Novakovic. Bayswater were handed a life line when Chris Beech went down under the challenge of Edin Mehic and Trimboli pointed to the spot from where Daniel Naumovski slammed his shot into the upright.
The margin came back to a single goal on 76 minutes when Ricardo Fonseca brought the big crowd to their feet with a spectacular shot from 35-metres which crashed into the back of the net. Bayswater then took things up a notch as they sought desperately to get back on level terms. However, the result was put beyond doubt in the 78th minute as O'Neill slid the ball under Saric to make it 3-1. The final margin would have been much greater had Komaderic been wearing his goalscoring boots, the big striker foiled on three occasions by Saric in one-on-one situations.
AUSTRALIA TOO STRONG IN CHINA
The Socceroos recorded an impressive 2-0 win over China in this evenings' friendly international in Guangzhou. Brett Holman put Australia ahead after just eight minutes following fine lead-up work by Marco Bresciano. Australia's dominance resulted in Bresciano adding their second on 28 minutes when the midfielder capitalised on a defensive error and expertly stroked the ball past goalkeeper Leilei. The one-way traffic continued with Mile Sterjovski and Mark Viduka going close to scoring the Socceroo's third of the game. China came into the game in the second half with their best chance arriving on 65 minutes when Yan Peng's close-range shot was brilliantly turned away by Mark Schwarzer. Armadale-born goalkeeper Brad Jones was an unused substitute.
VRTESKI REFRESHED BY LOCAL SPELL
A stint in the local competition has revived Aleks Vrteski's passion for the game after it had waned during a frustrating A-League season. Vrteski said helping E.C.U. Joondalup reach the Night Series final was the perfect tonic to a disappointing season, and credits coach Willie McNally for reigniting his enthusiasm for the game. "I took a lot of stuff for granted and you can't afford to," Vrteski said. "Willie just told me I was lucky that I've realised it now because I'm young and I can still learn from it."
Vrteski, a former Australian youth international, made ten appearances in Perth Glory's recent season but spent much of the campaign as back-up to Jason Petkovic or Tommi Tomich. In the absence of an A-League reserve or youth competition, and without a concurrent local season in which to compete, Vrteski could only watch from the sidelines as his season slipped away. "You're never going to get better just by training, so it's good to be playing games again," Vrteski said of his loan move to Joondalup.
McNally believed Vrteski, who has also been doing extra physical training under Stirling Lions coach and mentor Mick Lyons, had unlimited potential. "I think if he gets a break, he will be as good as anybody in Australia," said McNally, who has led Joondalup to their first night series final in their 15-year history. "He's been outstanding for us, he's the reason we are playing in the final. He's come in and stabilised things. We've got quite a young team and he's been talking and organising - he's been brilliant."
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
The first piece of silverware for 2007 is up for grabs when Perth S.C. meets E.C.U. Joondalup in Sunday's McInerney Ford sponsored Night Series final at Litis Stadium. The match will be a true David and Goliath affair with Perth seeking their fifth pre-season crown in seven years whereas Joondalup are making their first ever Night Series final appearance. Neighbours Ashfield and Bayswater City battle it out in the early game for the right to be crowned First Division/Amateur Night Series champion.
Football West chief executive Garry Chandler is looking forward to a crackerjack weekend of football. "Sunday's matches promise to be something very special. The quality of football we've witnessed so far in the tournament has been great, and I'm sure the finals will be no different," commented Chandler. "I'd like to encourage all sports lovers to get down to the grounds, support your local clubs and soak up the atmosphere and excitement of the McInerney Ford Night Series Final. Such events really encapsulate the passion and magic of our beautiful game."
Perth, the current trophy holder, go into Sunday's game as red-hot favourite. Goals flowed freely for Graham Normanton's side during the group phase, the Blues tallying up fifteen goals in five games, to tee up a semi-final meeting with Floreat Athena where they triumphed 2-0. Formed in 1992, Joondalup have never before made it this far in the pre-season competition. New coach Willie McNally has brought together a hard working group of players which has won each of its past five games, including the semi-final 3-1 upset of Stirling Lions. The feature game is scheduled to kick off at 7.15pm.
Ashfield, under the tutelage of Salv Todaro, has been the form team of the First Division/Amateur Night Series. A 3-0 semi-final thumping of Murdoch University their goal tally to nineteen for an just two against in five pre-season outings. Bayswater City surprised many by beating Mandurah City 4-1 in the round of four, a result which has underlined why they should not be taken lightly. New coaches Gerry Wardle and Willie Herd have given the club a new lease on life and you can be sure they'll give their all right up to the final whistle. The final of the First Division/Amateur Night Series starts at 5.00pm.
JONES POSITIVE OF A JOONDALUP SUCCESS
Confidence isn't something E.C.U. Joondalup are lacking as they prepare for their first appearance in the Night Series final. The northern suburbs side takes on Perth S.C. this Sunday at Litis Stadium and defender Anthony Jones says the club are ready for action. "Everybody is excited about playing in the final, these are the games you want as a player and a team to play in and we're all on a high at the moment," Jones commented. "It's natural to be a bit nervous but we'll be approaching the game like any another and each player will go out to win their individual battles, which will in turn bring us a victory."
Joondalup go into the game as underdog and Jones knows they'll need to be in tip-top form to get the better of their opponent. "When you consider their squad and track record it comes as no surprise that Perth are the favourites," he said. "They have a lot of players who have been successful and I know any team coached by Graham Normanton will be fit and up for the challenge. This game is not going to be for the feint hearted, both teams will keep going up to the end and I think it'll be fiercely contested from start to finish."
One of Perth's strengths is that they have quality players in every position. "They can play a very quick counter-attacking game which we will need to be wary of," said Jones. "Depending on how they line-up, we are going to have to keep a close eye on Todd Howarth and Matt Danskin as well as my old team-mate Andreas Oliviera. But then you've still got another eight players who provide us problems in one way or another. That said, Willie McNally and Gerry McEwan will have us prepared for any eventuality."
There was considerable movement within the Joondalup camp during the summer months and early indications are that the club is on track for a strong year. "We have some quality acquisitions including Aleks Vrteski, David Abel and Steve Baines and they've been joined by some of our young lads who've been promoted from the youth team," said Jones. "Our fitness levels are much higher than this time last year thanks to Willie and Gerry, and all the lads are also responding to the way the coaches want us to play who augers well for the season ahead."
GLORY SNAP UP VELAPHI
Australian youth international Tando Velaphi has inked a two-year deal with Perth Glory. The 19-year old is widely considered one of the nations best young goalkeepers and joins Glory from Premier League club Perth S.C. Velaphi played junior and youth team football for Perth before accepting a two-year scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport. He marked his national league debut with a man of the match performance while on loan to Queensland Roar against Melbourne Victory earlier this year.
Velaphi is pleased to be starting his professional career with Glory. "I used to come each week and watch the team play and thought if one day I could play with Perth it would be awesome so today is pretty much a dream come true," Velaphi said. "It's something I've been working towards for a long time and now that I have finally got the chance I'm really wrapped and looking forward to it," he said.
Glory coach Ron Smith has witnessed the rapid progression of Velaphi since first meeting him at the Australian Institute of Sport and believes he will be a valuable acquisition for the. "Tando is very quick with great agility and good hands, they're all attributes that a lot of goal keepers aspire to," Smith said. "He is now in a transition phase from being a good young goal keeper having played at youth international level to the next step of playing senior football."
Meanwhile, Tommi Tomich has been retained by Glory as a replacement player for injured goalkeeper Jason Petkovic, currently recovering from a broken leg sustained early last season. Tomich, who turned out for Western Knights during the Night Series, played the final ten games of the 2006/07 season for Glory. The A-League club is also understood to be in the final stages of contract negotiations with teenage Perth striker Nikita Rukavytsya.
ICANOVSKI TIPS CRACKING PRE-SEASON FINALE
Perth S.C. defender Michael Icanovski is looking forward to defending his club's title of Night Series champion when they meet E.C.U. Joondalup this weekend. The robust 26-year old expects this year's final to be a no holds barred affair between two fiercely competitive teams. "It's going to be what any final should be - a fast-paced, hard-fought game," he said. "As a team we will need to be at our best and match or better everything they throw at us."
Although Perth have been installed as pre-match favourite, Icanovski says Joondalup, who defeated Stirling Lions in the semi-finals, should not be taken lightly. "I don't think any team should be under-estimated and we'll be expecting Joondalup to be coming out with all guns blazing on the night," he said. "Their strength has always been they fight hard for each other and don't give up until the final whistle has blown, and to be honest I expect nothing less from them on Sunday."
Night Series success is no stranger to Perth who'll be shooting for their fifth pre-season title in seven years. "We've been lucky as a club to be a part of so many finals of recent," said Icanovski. "The feeling amongst the players is very positive right now but we know we've still got a job to do on Sunday night. As Normo always says 'These are the games as a player you want to play in', so for us we'll be doing our best to bring the trophy back to Dorrien Gardens and use it as a major step into the new season."
Perth won last years Night Series by out-shooting Stirling 4-2 in extra-time, however, they were unable to carry that success over in to the regular season. Icanovski says Perth v.2007 are a different proposition and is confident they'll give a much stronger account of themselves when the home and away series commences next month. "The difference between last year and this year is that we have a lot more depth," Icanovski explained. "Anyone in our squad is capable of doing a the that is required on the park and I think we've shown throughout the Night Series."
FREMANTLE MOVE TO NORTH LAKE
Fremantle Spirit has marked their return to the Premier League by moving to a new ground. The port side has vacated their home of the past eight seasons, Ken Allen Field, to re-locate to the WA Spanish Club in North Lake. "Fremantle Spirit has always had problems in securing a home base," explained club president Carlos Correia. "The Spanish Club is a venue with a lot of future potential and we've negotiated the use of the ground for at least the next two years. We hope to assist the management committee of the Spanish Club in promoting our sport and in making the facility one of the best around."
The switch to the Spanish Club provides Fremantle's senior and junior teams with access to the same facilities. "One of the reasons we have moved to Spanish Club it that it allows our clubs juniors to play there on Sundays, which was something we could not do at Ken Allen Field," Correia said. "Our coaching staff and player group are waiting in anticipation for the start of the 2007 league season. We have a good blend of young talent mixed with some experienced heads and are looking good for the new campaign."
GLORY PONDER TAKING THE GAME INDOORS
Perth Glory's new owners are considering a move that would see them switch from using Members Equity Stadium to the Burswood Dome for home games next season. The club have already been given permission by Football Federation Australia to explore the move from their traditional home in East Perth - where fans get no protection from the weather - to the air-conditioned indoor arena.
Tony Sage, Brett McKeon and John Spence, who take over from FFA at the end of the month, turned to Burwood's little used venue after recent negotiations with Allia Venue Management, which runs Members Equity Stadium. The new owners have also looked as basing the team at the WACA Ground and Subiaco Oval, though they are still considering a proposal to stay at Members Equity Stadium.
Sage told the 'West Australian' newspaper the ownership team were looking seriously at playing games next season at Burwood and denied the venue was being used to facilitate a better deal to stay put. "We are investigating it very seriously with the technical team at Burswood," he said. "It looks like it will be a viable option. We are just looking at the cost structures of bringing in a pitch."
The club are hopeful that Burswood can be set-up to accommodate around 13,000 fans. "I think with that sort of configuration, with the marketing we are going to do and the team we are going to have on the pitch, it will be very exciting," Sage commented. Sage said the venue would be unavailable for only one of Glory's fixtures on a draft schedule for next season and that the club would seek to switch that to an away date.
FORMER TEAMMATES BACK LAZARIDIS
Some of biggest names in Australian football have leapt to the defence of Stan Lazaridis following new the Perth Glory returned a positive test to a banned substance. Mark Viduka and Mark Schwarzer, who were in Germany alongside Lazaridis at last years World Cup finals, along with former Socceroos Frank Farina, Shaun Murphy and Zeljko Kalac are amongst a growing number of players to voice their support for the 34-year old.
Viduka believes Lazaridis' well-respected name has been dragged through the mud unnecessarily by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority. "Their attitude, especially lately, is guilty until proven innocent," said Viduka from England. "I've known Stan for years - he's the nicest bloke you'll ever meet and he wouldn't take anything without asking. Stan would never do anything that's illegal and ASADA have gone too far. The people conducting the tests have got to think about the person."
Farina slammed the allegations against Lazaridis as 'ridiculous' and a 'botch-up'. "People will want to fling as much s... as they can and milk it for what they can because it's football, and that's what I find disappointing," said Farina. "Ridiculous is the best word to describe this situation. I've known Stan a long time and there's no way he'd be taking anything illegal. He's the victim of some botch-up and to suggest any impropriety is ludicrous. When people see a player's name and the word 'drugs' printed in the same sentence, it's there for everyone to read and people draw their own conclusions."
It appears administrative and bureaucratic red tape delayed Lazaridis' application to use finasteride. The Glory defender notified authorities and intended to apply for Therapeutic Use Exemption in November 2005, however, bureaucratic red-tape meant he was unable to officially apply until October 2006. Lazaridis is believed to have started taking finasteride last November - the same month he was tested by Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority.
PREMIER LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES, SEMI-FINALS
E.C.U. Joondalup will make a historic first ever appearance in the Night Series final following this evening's 3-1 defeat of Stirling Lions at Edith Cowan University's Joondalup campus. It was an even opening with the host club carving out the first opportunity in which Martin Ashworth's cross from the left was half-volleyed just high by Ian McMurray. Having found their rhythm, Joondalup began to take control and Jason Mirco's low strike forced a sharp response from goalkeeper Phil Straker. Stirling were finding it difficult o break down their opponents defence and only a long-range effort by David Dugdale called Aleks Vrteski into action. As the half came to a close Joondalup stepped up the tempo and a Scott Blackmore free-kick was saved low at the near post by Straker while D.Abel fired disappointingly wide at close-range. Joondalup's domination continued into the second half and on 58 minutes they deservedly went ahead as Mark Lee's deep cross found Jamie Gibb who bundled the ball over the line from only a few metres. Ten minutes later Stirling were given a way back in as Daniel Micevski was hauled down just inside the 18-yard box, referee David Currie pointed straight to the spot but Dugdale's spot-kick was superbly kept out by Vrteski. The margin was doubled on 80th minutes when McMurray was fouled inside the area by Darko Ilomanoski, who was sent off, and Mark Lee converted with the spot kick. Stirling pulled a goal back within five minutes when substitute Phil Arnold slammed a low shot past Vrteski. However, it would be Joondalup that had the last say when Gibb's shot cannoned back off the post and McMurray headed in the rebound.
Perth S.C. will defend their Night Series title after downing inner city rival Floreat Athena 2-0 in this evening's semi-final at Litis Stadium. Caution was the priority in a tame first half that produced few goal scoring opportunities. Gareth Deeg came up trumps over Boima Karpeh after he was sent one-on-one with the Perth goalkeeper just minutes into the game. The best chance of the period came on 27 minutes when teenager Nikita Rukavytsya pounced on an under-hit back pass and knocked his shot past goalkeeper Vas Vujacic only to have a back-tracking John Migas clear from on the line. Ten minutes into the second half Floreat crafted a great opportunity as Josip Magdic's through ball sat nicely for Karpeh who clipped his shot over the advancing Deeg but narrowly high of the crossbar. It was a miss Floreat would rue as just four minutes later they fell behind when Gary Faria played a superb pass in behind the defence for Andreas Oliveira to calmly place the ball beyond the reach of Vas Vujacic. A cross from the left by Miki Vujacic provided Stefan Smiljanic with a golden opportunity to equalise but the big striker headed tamely into the ground from just a few metres. Rukavytsya then squandered a guilt-edged chance in the 68th minute to double his sides lead by blazing over the bar from 5-metres after Vas Vujacic parried a thunderbolt by Oliveira. Perth's spot in the series decider was booked nine minutes later as Michael Icanovski combined with Oliver Hilton to set up Scott Bulloch whose spectacular shot from 22-metres was too hot for the 'keeper to handle.
FIRST DIVISION/AMATEUR NIGHT SERIES, SEMI-FINALS
Ashfield booked their place in the final of the First Division/Amateur Night Series by trouncing Murdoch University 3-0 at Edith Cowan University in Joondalup. Mohammad Komaderic was the architect of Ashfield's win by scoring all three goals in the second half. Murdoch were reduced to ten men in the final minute of the match when M.Jennings was sent off. Bayswater City recovered from an early setback to defeat pre-match favourite Mandurah City 4-1 at Litis Stadium. Sal Marrapodi and Daniel Naumovski each scored twice for Bayswater after Daniel Harrop had given Mandurah the early lead. Further details of these games were not forthcoming from any of the four participating clubs.
EUROPEAN STRIKER IN GLORY'S SIGHT
Perth Glory coach Ron Smith will travel to Europe to sign a top-class striker cfter completing his duties as Socceroos assistant coach this month. Smith will assist Graham Arnold with Australia's preparations for next weekend's clash with China in Ghangzhou before heading to Europe to clinch a pre-arrangement deal with the player. While Smith refused to divulge further details of the trip, Glory have been linked to Zambian striker Phillemon Chepita and former Liverpool midfielder Nick Rizzo.
Smith said his immediate plans are to secure a European based striker. "My main concern at the moment is try and secure one players from overseas - a striker - and to have a good look at some others," he told Jonathon Cook of the 'West Australian' newspaper. Smith also confirmed getting a guest player, possibly Dutchman Pierre van Hooijdonk, was also on his list. "Getting someone in for the first game would give us the best opportunity to get us off to a good start," the coach added.
PREMIER LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES, WEEKEND EIGHT
E.C.U. Joondalup completed the group phase of the 2007 Night Series with a come from behind 3-1 defeat of Cockburn City at the Joondalup campus of Edith Cowan University. It didn't take long for Cockburn to hit top gear with Jason Dos Santos and Johnny Mirco exploiting their pace to cause the host club all sorts of problems. A lightning break in the 5th minute by Dos Santos ended with Dean Wallace sending the ball past goalkeeper Aleks Vrteski, however, his effort was disallowed for handball. Cockburn weren't about to be put off and a minute later Johnny Mirco tore away down the left before delivering the ball to Wallace who again made no mistake only this time the goal was allowed to stand by the match referee. Having soaked up the early pressure Joondalup gained themselves a penalty on 15 minutes for Shane Nunes's shirt pull on Tom Amphlett, Mark Lee stepped up to the spot only to have Louis Lopresti brilliantly push his kick onto the post. The teams were back on level terms ten minutes later when Lee expertly chipped in a cross which Anthony Jones headed in to the net. Any hope Cockburn had of victory evaporated just before the interval when Michael Mirco and Jason Dos Santos were red carded within a few minutes of eachother for dissent and a rash challenge respectively. The second half opened with Steven Baines forcing a great save from Lopresti after which play was pretty much one way traffic. In the 58th minute Joondalup earned another penalty for Peter Kuzet's foul on Jamie Gibb and this time Lee confidently sent the 'keeper the wrong way. The sealer arrived seven minutes from the end when David Abel headed in from a cross by Lee.
Premier League champion Sorrento have bowed out of the Night Series despite beating Stirling Lions 1-0 this evening at Edith Cowan University in Joondalup. Needing to win by five or more goals, Sorrento clearly meant business as James Morgan's rasping drive from 16-metres was tipped away by goalkeeper Phil Straker, and Stuart Banks nodded narrowly wide from the resulting corner. Stirling's first crack on goal came from Okwy Diamondstar who forced Neil Young into saving down low. Play streamed from one end of the park to the other with the two combatant trading shots on goals. A long-range strike by Lewis Flatt whizzed just wide and Banks' free-kick was pushed away by an alert 'keeper, while going the other way Tommy Jones headed over and Leo Harman's low effort was held by Young. The second half began with Stirling in full flight and chances on goal for both David Dugdale and Keith Brown. The game's only goal arrived on 77 minutes when Todd Harnwell was brought down inside the area and referee Jeremy Oliphant pointed straight to the spot. Harnwell took the spot kick himself only to have Straker saved the shot, however, Oliphant spotted an infringement against Keith Brown, who was duly sent off, and Carl Poore held his nerve to convert the re-take. Shortly after play was held up for a good fifteen minutes after the Edith Cowan University floodlights failed for a second time in seven days. Sorrento pressed for further goals upon the resumption and although Banks fired high they would have to be content with a single-goal victory and an early exit from the tournament.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
It’s a busy weekend of Premier League Night Series action with the final round of the group games on Friday, followed two days later by the semi-finals. The Edith Cowan University in Joondalup hosts this evenings double-header which opens with Group A winner Stirling Lions against Sorrento (6.30pm) who must win by five or more goals to pip Perth S.C. for a spot in the knock-out round. E.C.U. Joondalup need only to draw the late match with Cockburn City (8.30pm) to book their first ever appearance in the last four of the pre-season competition.
The semi-finals of the pre-season tournament take place on Sunday. Floreat Athena meet inner city rival Perth S.C. (7.15pm) at Litis Stadium where the curtain-raiser features Bayswater City against a rampaging Mandurah City (5.00pm). E.C.U. Joondalup have home ground advantage over runaway Group A winner Stirling Lions (7.15pm). The early game at Edith Cowan University in Joondalup has Ashfield pitting skills with Murdoch University (5.00pm). Admission is $6 adults, $4 concessions and under 15's are admitted free - so get along and support you team!
TRIALS COMMENCE FOR STATE SCHOOLBOYS
Damon Atthowe has been appointed coach of the State Schoolboys side which will compete at the Schools National Championship in Darwin this August. "Western Australia has finished second twice in the past three years and during that period we've had ten players selected to represent Australia," commented Atthowe.
"I'd like to take the strongest team possible to Darwin and call on all eligible players to attend trials," added Atthowe. "The aim is for us to bring the trophy for the first time, and to see more West Aussies follow in the footsteps of Stan Lazaridis, David Tarka and Nick Ward and play in the national team."
To be eligible for the Schoolboys squad players must be either a full-time TAFE or secondary school student, and be aged 19 or under as of 31st December 2007. Trials are being conducted at Parnham Reserve, Carlisle, on Wednesday 21st and 28th March, Wednesday 4th April and Wednesday 2nd May between 4.00pm and 6.00pm.
OLYMPIC TEAM DENIED BY LATE EQUALISER
Australia's Under-23 side have been denied victory by a remarkable long-range strike four minutes from full-time in their Olympic Games qualifying match with Jordan. Ahmad Alzugheir struck a blistering 30-metre equaliser to cancel out Kristian Sarkies 58th minute goal and ensure the match at at Hindmarsh Stadium in Adelaide ended level at 1-1. Australia looked set to take all three points from the Grop D meeting after striking the frame of the goal on three occasions, while at the other end of the field goalkeeper Danny Vukovic was rarely called into action. West Australian midfielder Nick Ward was replaced on 82 minutes while Tando Velaphi was an unused substitute.
MANDURAH ONE STEP CLOSER TO GOAL
Stuart Currie says he’s the man to help achieve Mandurah City’s long-held ambition of playing Premier League football. Since taking up the reigns late last year Currie has re-modelled the club’s senior list in an effort to capture Mandurah’s first piece of silverware since turning semi-professional in 2002. “When I was offered the job Mandurah had a three-year plan to get into the Premier League,” said Currie. “However, Ron Harrison (assistant coach) and I had a good talk about what we wanted to achieve and we know that with the players we have Mandurah shouldn’t be to far away this season.”
The early signs have been good for both Currie and Mandurah who’ve booked a First Division/Amateur Night Series semi-final date with Bayswater City on Sunday. “We’ve had a good pre-season and I’ve been very encouraged by the attitude and commitment shown by the lads,” Currie said. “I didn’t know most of the players before we began training so those early sessions were a great opportunity for me to objectively assess each player and what they could offer the team. So to make the last four of the Night Series without losing a game has been something of an early bonus for us.”
Some astute recruitment during the past few months has significantly strengthened the clubs’ stocks and installed as pre-season favourite to claim the First Division championship. “With Mandurah close to the top for the last few seasons they have the basis of a good squad, but I felt we needed to strengthen it with a few more experienced players,” explained Currie. “So far we’ve added James Hesketh, Jeff Bright, Jordan Rhodes, Shane Crampton, Scott Halpin, Daniel Harrop and Frazer Marr, while Stu Francis has returned after a year off. We also have Stuart Young helping out with our forwards at training and, who knows, he might decide to put the boots back on.”
It’s not only the new recruits that has Currie excited about Mandurah’s prospects this coming season. “We decided to use the Night Series as a learning curve, to gauge where we needed to improve as a team,” explained the coach. “We gave a number of the younger boys a run and they’ve performed well, especially last week against South West Phoenix where we were missing several of the more established players. Overall I’ve been surprised at the high standard of young players in the Peel region and that speaks volumes for the strength of the game in this area.”
One aspect of Mandurah’s game that Currie has already identified as needing attention is their defending. “We have worked hard defensively to try and stop losing goals as this seems to be there problem having done some research over the last few seasons,” said Currie. “We have a lot of natural attacking players and I would never encourage them to become negative and sit back behind the ball and play on the break, however, I will teach them where and when they should be pushing forward.”
Currie, who guided Wanneroo City into the top flight in 2005, knows what it takes to wins championships but admit to being out of touch with Mandurah’s current rivals. “I didn’t see a single First Division game last season so I’m not sure how strong the teams are,” he commented. “But I know how difficult it is to get out of this division having been through the process with Wanneroo and there are no easy games. I would image that Ashfield, Dianella White Eagles, Bayswater City and Balcatta will all be there or thereabouts come the end of the season.”
LAZARIDIS TESTS POSITIVE TO BANNED SUBSTANCE
The career of Stan Lazaridis hangs in the balance after the Perth Glory star tested positive to banned drug finasteride - an offence which carries a maximum two-year penalty. The former Socceroo would not comment yesterday but the positive test, which was returned in November and verified last month, has been confirmed by Football Federation Australia head of operations Matt Carroll.
The players' union came out in defence of Lazaridis yesterday, claiming the player was using the drug - classed as a masking agent - for therapeutic reasons and that he had since been given approval to use the medicine. Professional Footballers Association chief executive Brendan Schwab said Lazaridis had advised the relevant authorities in November 2005 that he needed to use the drug to address a medical condition, believed to be alopecia.
Schwab confirmed the approval for Lazaridis to take the substance was granted in January 2007 and that the player, who has been plagued with injury since joining Glory last season, was tested in late November last year. Part of the reason for the delay in the granting of the application was related to Lazaridis playing under different soccer authorities in England and then Australia. Lazaridis is due to face an FFA antidoping hearing next month
Schwab admitted authorities often took a heavy-handed approach to drug use but he was adamant consideration of Lazaridis' circumstances would allow him to play on. "It is a rule of FIFA that the individual circumstances of every case need to be taken into account and Stan's individual circumstances are extremely compelling. We would think it untenable for one of Australia's champions to face a penalty for taking a substance which the authorities now recognise he needs to take for important health reasons," Schwab said.
PERTH’S FOCUS IS ON REGULAR SEASON SUCCESS
It won't be until Friday evening that Perth S.C. find out whether or not they're through to the Night Series semi-finals. But for Graham Normanton making the last four is about more than Perth defending their pre-season title. "Winning the Night Series isn't that important to me," said the Blues coach. "The reason I'd like to get into the semis is because we then have two more really competitive games to get us ready for the season proper. If that means we win the Night Series then all well and good, but if we don't then I still need those games for the players to be prepared for the season."
Normanton has enhanced an already talented Perth squad with a number of impressive signings during the summer months. Todd Howarth has returned after spending a couple of years in England and is rejoined by Antonio Naglieri and Andreas Oliveira who helped South Melbourne to the championship glory in Victoria last year. Defence minded pair Michael Ord and Costa Socratous also have come on board, while Australian Institute of Sport graduate Nikita Rukavytsya has featured throughout the Night Series.
Perth's decision to invest in new players is viewed by Normanton as a way of safeguarding against some of the problems he encountered in 2006. "We were a bit thin on the ground in terms of an experienced squad and I've learnt that lesson,” said Normanton of the seventh placing gained last year. "We had the bare eleven last year and the rest came from our up and coming youngsters who, we knew weren't ready but we didn't think we'd have to rely on them as much as we did."
Unfortunately, the injury toll is already mounting at Perth with four players currently sidelined. "Robbie Puca's got a dodgy hamstring to start with and he did it again in training on Tuesday but we're hopeful that's not anywhere near as bad as it was last season when it kept him out for the whole season," Normanton commented. "Antonio Naglieri has signs of osteitis pubis, Barry Wood has done a knee ligament which will keep him out for six weeks, Brendan Ross has broken his foot so he'll miss up to weeks … and we've not even started the season."
Perth are for many punters the pre-season favourite to claim top honours and Normanton knows the onus to get results now sits on his shoulders. "The pressure is really on me," Normanton explained. "We've signed the players I asked the club to sign, the club have backed me, and we've got the squad I think can win the League, so if we don't I might be getting the flick at the end of the season. I expect we should be in the top one or two but football is a strange game and it may be that we don't get there at all, who knows."
Competition for places in Perth's starting eleven is red-hot and Normanton admits it's difficult to please everyone. "Players think they should be playing first team no matter where they are and it's pretty hard to keep players happy in a squad situation," he said. "Up to now our team spirit has been marvellous and the lads have gone along with every decision I've made and every team I've selected. But when the season starts and trophies are on the line will that still go on - I'd like to think it will but we'll have to see what happens down the track."
QUEENS PARK TARGET SURVIVAL
Survival will be the name of the game when Queens Park step onto the park next month for the opening round of the 2007 First Division season. The eastern corridor club, one of the oldest in the state, learnt a lot in the top flight of amateur competition last year and coach Tony Campbell is under no illusions as to how difficult this coming winter will be for his young side. "Our goal is to finish no lower than tenth and anything above that will be a bonus," said the coach. "It's going to be tough but I believe we can achieve that. It'll be about us taking the hits and there's a good chance that there will be a few."
Campbell has every confidence that his players will give a much stronger account of themselves than the Queens Park side that won just twice and were bumped down to the amateurs at the end of 2005. "We are twice the team that we were two years," he said. "Last season the players developed a good team spirit and showed that they can pull together when the chips are down. They've got a full season together under their belts and that experience will be vital. We were dead last when I took over last year and using the same group of players we moved up the table by winning eight of our last twelve games, so the boys know what its like to battle."
A summer recruitment campaign has lured to Queens Park the likes of Shane Laing, English defender Brian Kinson, while Vince Grooby and Michael Jennings return to the club after a year out of the game. "We've added four players during the off-season and have two or three of our younger players who've stepped up from the reserves and will increase competition for spots," said Campbell. "So in terms of our first team squad we've gone from having twelve or thirteen quality players to about eighteen, and then there are an additional three or four reserve team players who are likely to feature for the first team this year ... it's great for the club."
The Queens Park coach admits he has concerns about the club's transition from amateurs back to Saturday football. "I get the feeling some of the players perhaps don't quite realise what will be expected of them this season and, to be honest, I'm not completely sure what to expect myself. Everything I hear is that eleven clubs will be in for a top six spot and we won't be one of them, so each game it will be about us giving 110%," said Campbell. "Our fitness is steadily getting to where it needs to be, and we've shown patches of play that indicate we have it in us to perform at the level required of the First Division. I believe we will be ready once the season comes along and there will be no better test than against title favourite Mandurah."
WORLD CUP DREAM ENDS FOR WOMEN'S YOUTH TEAM
The Australian Under-17 women's team have stumbled at the first hurdle and dipped out of the qualifying campaign for the inaugural FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup. Allocated a place in Group A, Australia crashed 1-3 to Korea Republic on Saturday before being held to a scoreless draw by China today. Flying the flag for Western Australia in Malaysia were Danielle Calautti and Marianna Tabain.
A three-goal burst early in the second half earned Korea Republic victory over Australia by 3-1 in the opening group match. Five minutes after the re-start Park Hee-Young surged past two defenders to slotting precisely beyond the reach of goalkeeper Casey Dumont, Kim Jungin increased the difference before Lee Hyun-Young sealed the win. Kyah Simon pulled a goal back for Australia on the hour.
China fended off a determined Australian challenge to draw 0-0 and finish top of Group A. Australia were unable to break the deadlock despite having the better of their highly regarded opponents for much of the match. After a tense first half Australia carved out a several goalscoring opportunities with Sophie Hogben and Rhali Dobson coming close with strikes on goal.
The Australian Under-17 women's squad consisted of Jennifer Bisset (Australian Capital Territory), Rhali Dobson, Taleah Doyle, Alesha Clifford, Stephanie Haim, Jenna Kingsley, Kirstyn Pearce, Melissa Redmond, Elizabeth Sharpe, Kyah Simon, Samantha Spackman, Emily Van Egmond, Samantha Wood (New South Wales), Tameka Butt, Casey Dumont, Alisha Foote, Sophie Hogben, Vedrana Popovic (Queensland), Sian McClaren (South Australia), Danielle Calautti and Marianna Tabain (Western Australia).
LACK OF GROUNDS A PROBLEM FOR JUNIORS
With the new season about to kick-off junior clubs are turning players away because of a lack of space. The City of Stirling, the biggest council in the metropolitan area, says Education Department delays in signing off on a collective agreement for community access to school facilities, which are unused on weekends, is denying children the chance to play the world game.
"There's plenty of space," said the City of Stirling's recreation manager Brett Spencer. "It's just getting access. If we're fair dinkum about physical activity and child obesity, then we've got to start looking at the department and its infrastructure because it's just ludicrous. Kids are being turned away because we can't get access to some of these school grounds."
"Balcatta Soccer Club is going through the roof and it can't get access to the school grounds 60-metres away. So they can't have three additional kids teams this year," added Spencer. "At the end of the day, the infrastructure is owned and operated by the Education Department, and it's their call."
Local Government Association president Bill Mitchell said it made no sense for both school and community facilities to be maintain separately. "We've got to make better use of our resources," he said. "Why would you water two ovals and only use them 50 per cent of the time?" Mitchell said some individual principals had already allowed groups to use their grounds, proving the concept worked.
The City of Melville said all sports had difficulty finding space in the area and the use of school facilities at weekends was the way of the future. The Education Department said it was considering being part of a collective agreement. "There isn't a one-size fits all approach," acting executive director of infrastructure Mal Parr said. "It is up to each school and local community groups to come to an arrangement that works best for them."
PREMIER LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES, WEEKEND SEVEN
Perth S.C. put themselves in the driving seat for a spot in the last four of the Night Series by overcoming a young Western Knights side 2-0 in cold and windy conditions at the Joondalup campus of Edith Cowan University. The first chacne on goal came after 12 minutes when Daniel Trim’s header beat Gareth Deeg only to crash into the crossbar, and shortly after it was Tommi Tomich who breathed a sign of relief as Nikita Rukavytsya fired wide of the target. A short break in play caused by the floodlights going out didn’t help either side find their rhythm and the Knights first opening came after 37 minutes when Stuart Montgomery had a fine shot blocked by Gianfranco Circati. Tomich made sure the sides went into the interval on level terms by smartly saving at the feet of Andres Oliviera following a Todd Howarth corner which was flicked on by Michael Ord. The pace quickened for the second half as Andrija Jukic placed narrowly high of the crossbar from 15-metres, then Rukavytsya fired just past the post from a terrific cross by Matthew Danskin. Just minutes after coming off the bench Gary Faria was taken down on the edge of the 18-yard box, Howarth whipped the resultant free-kick into the dangerzone where the ball was expertly glanced into the net by Circati to put Perth ahead. With fifteen minutes left the Knights made a triple substitution which saw Anthony Skorich, David Price and Aaron Bahadori added to their attacking options. However, Perth wrapped up the game when Oliviera’s free-kick was parried by Tomich and Rukavytsya made no mistake from 5-metres.
Armadale staged a dramatic late comeback to earn a 2-2 draw with Inglewood United at Alfred Skeet Oval. Much of the early running came from Inglewood with Mladen Kovacevic's shot deflected wide and a long-range strike by David Whiteside was saved by Cyril Sharrock. Their persistence was rewarded on 20 minuets when Greg Sharland started a move that Dean Apelgren finished clinically at close-range. Armadale's search for an equaliser saw Richard Lacey head narrowly high of the crossbar from a Scott Paterson free-kick. But Inglewood always looked the more likely to score and Sharrock was called on to keep out shots from Aaron Colli and Sharland either side of the break. The home almost drew level through a Paterson free-kick which took a deflection off the defensive wall and crashed into the post. Sharland doubled the margin on the hour by latching on to a long ball from Daniel Stoitis and powerfully half-volleying past the 'keeper from 16-metres. Danny Kovacevic almost made it three-nil on 72 minutes by charging through midfield only to have Sharrock tip wide his stinging shot. Armadale were back in the game on 87 minutes when Scott Paterson curled a free-kick into the net after 'keeper Jason Razmovski was ruled to have handled the ball outside his area when kicking it back into play. The host team's quest for an equaliser was answered a minute into stoppage time when a long pass found Lacey who beat the last defender and knocked his shot low past Razmovski to snatch a share of the points.
Floreat Athena's new strike force of Boima Karpeh and Stefan Smiljanic shared all the goals in Sunday's 4-0 demolition of Fremantle Spirit at Litis Stadium. Karpeh took just 17 minutes to get his name on the score sheet after Paul Vatistas had played the lively striker into a position where it was almost impossible to miss. Having gone ahead, Floreat sustained the pressure on Fremantle's defence to the effect the margin became two goals on 33 minutes as Smiljanic powerfully headed past Robbie Figg from a corner which sliced off the head of defender Dale Wingell. The game was ended as contest two minutes before half-time when Karpeh and Smiljanic neatly combined down the right with the former netting his second with a delightful flick of the boot which left the young Fremantle goalkeeper helpless. The second half commenced in much the same fashion as the first with Floreat applying the pressure and going close to adding to their tally on numerous occasions. Fremantle were denied an opening goal by John Migas who headed off the line Roberto Colalillo's lob from distance. With that the port side grew in confidence and Jason Barrera thundered a left foot drive into the crossbar. At the other end Miki Vujavic was also denied by the frame of the goal with a superbly struck free-kick from 22-metres. Karpeh left it until the final minute of regulation time to complete a deserved hat-trick by shrugging off his marker to drive into the penalty area net and lashing the ball into the top corner of the net.
Geoff Mason’s first goals at senior level helped Swan I.C. ease past Wanneroo City 4-1 in the Group C clash at Alfred Skeet Oval. A cautious opening was punctuated by chances at both ends but Mason placed wide while Ahmed Hafez and Stuart Hartmann were both thwarted by Daniel Agudelo’s agility. As the minutes ticked by Swan began to see more of the ball and on the half hour went ahead as Brendan Knox fired in at close-range from a far post corner by Damian Catalano. Wanneroo were unfortunate not to open their account leading into the break with Hafez’ free-kick tipped away by Agudelo who, minutes later, kept out David Houston’s grass-cutter from 14-metres. Swan tightened their grip on the game two minutes after the re-start when David Perich charged down the right to deliver a pinpoint cross which Mason powerfully headed in at close-range. Moments later Wanneroo went down to ten men with the somewhat harsh dismissal of Mark Donnelly for a foul on Mason inside the penalty area, and goalkeeper Kevin Miller kept his side in the hunt by saving Catalano’s spot kick. Within minutes Wanneroo were awarded a penalty of their own following a handball decision against Perich and Hartman confidently stepped up to bring the difference back to a single goal. Swans made the most of their extra player and Tom Shepheard’s cross from the right was neatly put away by Mason on the hour. The final goal arrived eleven minutes later when Shepheard fired low past Miller following neat lead-up working from Aaron Cole and Catalano. Miller prevented the final margin from being much greater by preventing Cole, Mason and Catalano from adding to the tally.
FIRST DIVISION/AMATEUR NIGHT SERIES, WEEKEND SEVEN
Goals flowed freely at Alfred Skeet Oval on Friday evening as Murdoch University out-shot Queens Park Reserves 5-3. S.Gojic scored twice and S.Watson, J.Dixon and A.Walsh once each for Murdoch while finding the net for Queens Park were Alex Seed, I.McKean and Scott Reinsma. Balcatta dumped Ashfield Reserves 5-1 when they met at the Joondalup campus of Edith Cowan University. An early strike from Jake Watson put Ashfield ahead but that was soon overturned by goals from Toby Wright (2), Ben Rogers, Daniel Causerano and Ogi Radonvic.
Ashfield claimed top spot in Group A by downing Dianella White Eagles 2-0 at Litis Stadium on Sunday evening. Oliver Langdale and Mohammad Komaderic found the back of the net to ensure Ashfield ended the qualifying round without loss. Mandurah City made it a clean sweep of their group fixtures by defeating South West Phoenix 5-2 at Alfred Skeet Oval. Shane Crampton scored a hat-trick on debut for Mandurah for whom, Daniel Harrop and Michael Bobridge were also on the scoresheet. Phoenix’ goals came from David Murphy and Ryan Montgomery. Further details of these games were not forthcoming from any of the eight participating clubs.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
It’s the second to last weekend of Group stage fixtures in the Night Series and spots in the last four are on the line. The pick of the action takes place this evening at Edith Cowan University in Joondalup where trophy holder Perth S.C. pit skills with long-time rivals Western Knights. Balcatta are tipped to take the points over Ashfield Reserves in the curtain-raiser. At Alfred Skeet Oval, Inglewood United will be put to the test by an Armadale side for whom victory could lead to a semi-final appearance. The entertainment commences with the Group D meeting of Murdoch University and Queens Park Reserves.
Floreat Athena are tipped to return to their winning ways on Sunday when they face Fremantle Spirit at Litis Stadium. The early match features Ashfield and Dianella White Eagles with the winner likely to progress to the round of four. Swan I.C. and Wanneroo City are both still searching for their first point of the tournament and meet at Alfred Skeet Oval. A semi-final berth will be the reward for the winner of the early game between Mandurah City and South West Phoenix. Admission is $6 adults, $4 concessions and under 15's are admitted free - so get along and support you team!
MAROCCHI CALLS FOR STRONGER FOCUS ON YOUTH
Living legend Gary Marocchi has made an impassioned plea for Perth Glory's new owners to work closely with Football West for the sake of the state's youth. Marocchi, a former captain of Australia and the inaugural Glory coach, is a big advocate of youth development and would like to see Glory and Football West work hand in hand to bring through the next generation of national league footballers. "There has to be a lot more co-operation between the privately run team and the State body," he said.
Glory have been a major figure on the West Australian sporting landscape for over a decade but the fact they are yet to establish a youth system concerns Marocchi. "We still haven't learnt as we still don't have a development structure underneath the Glory to bring very good quality young players through," said the former Glory coach. "That's something that is missing at the moment and Western Australia is suffering badly. We need to develop younger players who can be Glory players in the future."
"If I was one of the directors of Football West I'd be organising a State Under-18 team that would train on a full-time basis and play in Europe for four weeks of the year," Marocchi added. "We have a State-14 and 15 teams but once those age groups finish there is nothing for the 16, 17 and 18-year old players. They need coaching and to gain playing experience and playing against European teams is to me the answer because they are the best teams in the world. The owners of Glory need to have a look at it as well because it needs them to work with Football West to develop these players."
Marocchi suggested a re-structure of the State League competitions as another way to further aid the state's emerging talent. "Maybe we should go for a senior set-up, an under-19 side and then an under-17 team," he said. "It's ludicrous to have so many teams playing and the middle age kids are missing out. If we had an under-17 competition you'd probably get a lot more kids participating and the better ones would go on to play at the higher level. I just don't see any point in playing an under-21's competition and allowing four or five overage players, it just doesn't work."
BALCATTA LOOK AT PROMOTION
Balcatta’s plans to mount a serious assault on the 2007 First Division championship are gathering pace. The disappointment of finishing fourth last year is a fading memory for coach Basil Lenzo whose sights are set high for the coming season. “Ultimately, our aim is to win every game we play,” enthused Lenzo ahead of tomorrow evenings Night Series clash with Ashfield Reserves. “It’s no secret that as a club we are very keen to get promoted as we have an excellent junior system, committee structure, sponsorship base, social atmosphere and perhaps most importantly an attitude to succeed.”
The coming season will be Balcatta’s third with Lenzo at the helm and the coach says he could not be more pleased with how his squad is coming together. “We’re shaping up very well for the new season,” he commented. “We’ve assembled a fantastic group of guys who have a terrific attitude and have really worked hard in pre-season. It’s probably the best they have worked since we have been at the club. At this stage we are very happy as we consistently have thirty to forty players at training for our two squads. This means they are all pushing each other for a spot in the side and that increases the intensity.”
In assembling his squad for the new season Lenzo has recruited a handful of players whose impact is already being felt. “Ben Rogers, Christian Debarro, Jason Healy, Sean Bowyer, Toby Wright and Tony Alevoski have either joined or returned to us,” the coach said. “They are highly respected by all at the club and have added so much more to our team with their presence and attitude rubbing off on a lot of players, especially the young lads. Credit must also go to teenagers such as Daniel Colletta, Ogi Rudosvski, Adam Stillitano and a few more who have trained hard and shown they are very willing to learn.”
This time last year Balcatta were being touted as one of the title favourites. However, those plans were son put on the back burner as the club’s injury list mounted and players became unavailable. “Last season we experienced an unbelievable amount of injuries. At one stage last year we had eighteen players injured or at the World Cup and we just couldn't get any rhythm,” said Lenzo. “This took a toll across the entire club and we didn’t play the same team once in our last sixteen games. This year we do have a lot more depth and I think we have struck the balance with some promising youth and a core of experienced, senior players.”
Lenzo is tipping the First Division champion to come from one of four clubs. “From what I have seen so far it’s going to be close between Ashfield, Mandurah City and ourselves, and not far behind will be Morley Windmills. Ashfield and Mandurah have both recruited very well, and I’m hearing the same for Morley who have Brad Hassells’ experience to draw upon. I hope it goes down to the wire as without a top four competition it can be hard when someone streaks away it in like Fremantle did last year. However, as we have seen in the past, the league is all about who wants it more on the day so I don’t think you can discount anyone just yet.”
MCTIERNAN BACKS ARMADALE
State politician Alana McTiernan is determined to help Armadale achieve what is best for the club. McTiernan has been Armdale’s club patron since mid-2003 and sees great potential in the eastern corridor club. “Soccer is expanding [so] we’ve been working with the Australian Rules club and the other clubs to see how we can grow into the future as we’re a bit confined I terms of space here,” said McTiernan. “We think we can come to a resolution that will allow the club to stay here in this location but have enough room to expand and deal with this growth.”
The current Minister for Planning and Infrastructure praised Armadale’s ability to keep their eye on the ball through several changes of club administration. “One of the things that I think really distinguishes this club is that as the administration has changed they’ve built on the work of the previous administration,” McTiernan said. “Sometimes what can happen in sporting clubs is the new mob get in and say ‘the last crowd were no good.’ But there’s a really good spirit at this club and they’re a very united group.”
Amongst Armadale’s recent achievements have been promotion to the Premier League and the completion of their new clubrooms. McTiernan considers the development of the women’s team as an important step in their continued growth. “We’re looking to see if we can get some women’s change rooms as well,” she said. “As an ex-women’s player for twenty years I’m well aware that many of these areas don’t have good facilities for the women that are playing. So we’ve really got everything here at Armadale in terms of juniors, women’s and Premier League … it’s all good.”
TODARO SETS ASHFIELD A MODEST TARGET
Ashfield may be one of the early favourites to win this year’s First Division title but coach Salv Todaro says he’ll be approaching the coming season just like any other. Todaro, who gained promotion with Bayswater City in 2003 and guided Ashfield to second place last year, feels his job will be done if his players are enjoying their game. “The only goal I’ve set for the players is for us to improve as a team and as individuals,” he said. “I believe we’ll continue with the improvement that we started last year and I’m looking forward to coaching a group of players who’ve shown they want to learn more about the game.”
Fielding what is arguably the youngest squad in the league, Ashfield have come a long way since Todaro took over the reigns at the start of last year. “We have a young squad whose average age is 21,” Todaro added. “Over the past twelve months everyone has grown together and the players have had an opportunity to experience life in the first team and feel comfortable in the role that they are being asked to play. We’ve got a few new additions for the coming season and they’ll add that extra bit of competition for places which keeps everyone on their toes.”
There’s been a minimum of movement at Ashfield during the off-season with Todaro bringing in just a few players to occupy key positions. “We have retained the majority of last year’s squad with the only additions being young Oliver Langdale and goalkeepers Kenny Ftynohiannis and Atekhis Elhossain. Edin Mehic has returned from an extended holiday overseas and Luke O’Neill is back from a lengthy timeout through injury so you could say they are also new players. The only major loss we’ve incurred is Francis Allen who’s working in Thailand.”
Ashfield’s Night Series performances and overall preparation for the coming season have given Todaro reason to smile. “The boys have been training very well and I’m pleased with their attitude and commitment” said the Ashfield coach. “We’ve had a number of sessions at the gym and changed things around on the training track with plenty of small sided games as well as being involved in the First Division Night Series. Unfortunately, we’ve already been hit by two major injuries, Kenny Ftynohiannis has suffered a broken leg and Adam Purcell needs a knee reconstruction.”
Todaro expects the coming season to be fiercely competitive and, come the end of September, little will separate the champions from the also rans. “Last year’s First Division was reasonably competitive - there weren’t too many games with one-sided scorelines - and I think this year will be much the same,” he said. “Most teams appear to have strengthened their squads with some very good players. Mandurah City appear to be pushing hard for promotion with a number of good quality signings, and I’ve always thought Canning City play good football. Bayswater City will want to go back up at the first attempt and Balcatta will also be there or thereabouts.”
DANZE AIMS FOR THE TOP AGAIN
New Perth Glory recruit Anthony Danze wants to climb back to the summit of the professional game after eighteen months with barely a thought of playing again. The 22-year old midfielder said he had rediscovered the hunger to play again after a horror run of soft tissue injuries and a significant knee problem prompted him to end his time with Crystal Palace and spend more than a year out of the game. “I’m just going to take the good out of the experiences I’ve had,” he said. “I’ve tried to address why certain things happened and hopefully I’ll be better for it.”
Danze’s decision to cut short his time in England was made after months of consideration for where his career should be heading. “I’m very happy with the decision I made and I don’t regret it at all,” said Danze, who briefly played for Inglewood United last year. “I had just over six months left at Crystal Palace and I didn’t have a work permit; I was on a working visa. I had to have played the majority of the games (for Palace) in the season to qualify to stay over there and that wasn’t going to happen with the injuries I had.”
Though Danze is desperate to play a key role for Glory next season, he still sees a future beyond Australia’s shores and he has not been deterred by his experience in England. “I know within myself that I’m capable of playing at the highest level,” he said. “That’s always been my ambition and it still is. But the first thing I want is to be an important part of this team.” Danze has a sense of needing to complete some unfinished business at Glory, having played on only 11 occasions in the old National Soccer League before he joined Palace after the 2004 Olympics.
OPENING ROUND OF CUP DRAWN
The draw for the 2007 association Cup, sponsored by Soccer Pools, was held on Friday evening at Litis Stadium. Conducted during the interval of the Night Series showdown between Perth S.C. and Stirling Lions, the draw was made by Football West chairman Kevin Campbell, chief executive Garry Chandler and Fred Notargiacomo from Lotterywest.
This year’s competition commences on 24th March with a qualifying Youth Cup fixture between Canning City and the National Training Centre from which the winner will progress to Round One proper. The opening weekend of knock-out competition is scheduled a fortnight later and highlighted by three blockbuster games. Swan I.C. has home ground advantage against the mighty Western Knights, Balcatta take on Armadale, and Floreat Athena head north to face Wanneroo City.
Ashfield have a difficult opening round date with Perth S.C., and the story is the same for Canning City who are on the road to E.C.U. Joondalup. Rockingham City journey north to play Sorrento, while Gosnells City have home ground advantage against Cockburn City. The only all First Division clash is at Frank Drago Reserve where Bayswater City meet Forrestfield United.
Granted a free pass into the Round Two are Dianella White Eagles, Fremantle Spirit, Inglewood United, Mandurah City, Morley Windmills, Queens Park and Stirling Lions. The prestigious knock-out competition will commence on the Easter long weekend, 7th April, and will reach its climax with the Cup final on Saturday 13th October.
PREMIER LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES, WEEKEND SIX
E.C.U. Joondalup's quest for a first ever Night Series semi-final appearance continues to gather momentum following their 3-1 demolition of Armadale at Alfred Skeet Oval on Friday evening. The northern suburbs outfit totally dominated the match much to the disappointment of Armadale club patron, Alannah McTieran, who was amongst the crowd. The host club could have gone ahead early but Darren Kingston was let down by poor finishing, and shortly after Ben Howe's low strike forced a sharp response from goalkeeper Aleks Vrteski. Although slow to settle, Joondalup took the lead on 15 minutes when Ian McMurray's explosive shot was brilliantly blocked by Cyril Sharrock who could only watch on as Tom Amphlett fire in the loose ball from close-range. Joondalup continued their onslaught and a Garin Collins corner evaded all except Rob Crerar who cleared from on the line, while a fierce strike by Amphlett cannoned back of the crossbar. The pressure value was finally released when McMurray fired into the net from 9-metres after Armadale failed to clear their lines. Marlon Ramirez took Armadale forward early in the second half and his cross ended with Howe whose shot was parried by Vrteski and with the follow-up Kingston made no mistake. This breathed new life into the hosts and Richard Lacey’s header was cleared off the line by Chris Porter, then a curling Scott Paterson free-kick was pushed wide by a full stretch 'keeper. But missed opportunities would haunt Armadale as, with minutes to play, McMurray pouncing to score from 10-metres and secure the points for Joondalup.
Stirling Lions stretched their winning run to four games with a come from behind 2-1 defeat of Night Series trophy holder Perth S.C. at Litis Stadium. Despite having less possession and creating fewer chances, Stirling claimed the points courtesy of superb finishing from Daniel Micevski and Leo Harman which stunned the 500 strong crowd. A fantastic counter-attacking move produced the opening goal for Perth on 22 minutes as teenage striker Nikita Rukavytsya stroked Antonio Naglieri’s pass into the bottom corner. Going a goal down spurred Stirling into life and with 31 minutes gone Daniel Micevski equalised by dancing past a couple of defenders before unleashing a rocket into the top corner. Gianni Papalia made sure the teams went into the break on level terms by keeping out a terrific strike by young left back Steve Hesketh from just outside the 18-yard box. David Dugdale got in behind the Perth defence minutes into the second half but shot wide from an acute angle. The deciding goal came in the 57th minute when Leo Harman tapped into the net after Papalia, under pressure from Dugdale, failed to hold a cross from Hesketh. After falling behind Perth stepped up the pressure and Rukavytsya created two good chances in quick succession but on both occasions was denied by goalkeeper Phil Straker. Michael Ord headed just wide, then substitute Shane Crampton shot straight at Straker after neat lead-up work from Todd Howarth. With the final roll of the dice Naglieri sent a high ball into the penalty area where Ord’s powerful header was acrobatically kept out by Straker.
A Steve McDonald goal early in the second half inflicted a fourth successive defeat on Swan I.C. as Sorrento triumphed 1-0 in Sunday's game at Alfred Skeet Oval. The early signs were positive from Swan with teenager Geoff Mason firing narrowly wide and Damien Catalano thwarted by goalkeeper Neil Young. Sorrento's first opening didn't arrive until midway through the half when Daniel Agudelo intercepted Guy McDonald's low cross intended for Dejan Gurovski. Young was certainly the busier to the two goalkeepers, capturing a Rory Mouttet header otherwise destined for the top corner and later saving well from David Perich's long-range strike. Sorrento came out for the second period with more purpose and ten minutes in James Morgan delivered a curling cross into the danger area which an unmarked Steve McDonald slammed low into the net past a scrambling 'keeper. Swan responded with a series of attacks that saw David Foster head over the crossbar at close-range and, to his own disappointment, Perich fired straight at Young when well positioned. From this point on an already scrappy game slowly deteriorated further with both teams conceding possession with alarming regularity. Sorrento were denied a second goal on 71 minutes when Gurovski’s thumping shot stung the hands of Agudelo, and from the resulting corner Daniel Cagorski headed high. Going the other way, Paul Baczynski nodded wide with the goal at his mercy while Mason was denied on separate occasions by Young and the wide of the post. The final drama came in stoppage time when Danyal Bennett was issued his marching orders for a second yellow card.
Cockburn City took out all three points, and in the process kept alive their play-off hopes, by toppling Floreat Athena 3-2 at Litis Stadium. Floreat went into the game as favourite and not surprisingly went ahead on 21 minutes when Miki Vujacic was allowed space to curl a shot into the far top corner from 15 metres. However, that lead was short-lived as a minute later a defensive mix-up between Vas Vujacic and John Migas enabled Giovanni De Bartolo to nip in and tap into an unguarded net. Floreat restored their advantage in the 27th minute when Stefan Smiljanic tucked the ball away after goalkeeper Louis Lopresti could only parry a shot by Boima Karpeh. Midway through the second half Dean Wallace brought the team level by heading in at close range after Vas Vujacic failed to claim possession a corner. This set up a tense finish in which Floreat spurned several good opportunities to again take the lead. The main culprit was Karpeh who twice got free of his marker but on both occasions shot weakly with only Lopresti to beat. Resolute defending thwarted Craig Howard as he bore down on goal, while Smiljanic should have done better than head wide with the goal at his mercy. With just a minute remaining Cockburn sprang a neat counter-attack and, having made his way into the penalty area unchallenged, Johnny Mirco cracked an unstoppable shot into the net from 14-metres to snatch a dramatic victory for the visitors.
FIRST DIVISION/AMATEUR NIGHT SERIES, WEEKEND SIX
Bayswater City came from behind to down Gosnells City 2-1 at Alfred Skeet Oval on Friday evening. Gosnells went ahead after 12 minutes through Aaron Nadin but goals from Sal Marrapodi in the 17th and 25th minutes earned Bayswater all three points. Kingsway Olympic were on the receiving end of a 6-1 thumping as Dianella White Eagles emerged victorious at Litis Stadium. Jon Greenwood netted four times before Aaron Moschopoulos and Goran Radinovic added themselves to the scoresheet, while Kingsway's sole response arrived midway through the second half via L.Armstrong.
South West Phoenix moved to the verge of qualification for the semi-finals by beating Canning City 2-0 on Sunday evening at Litis Stadium. Goals either side of the break by James Turbitt and David Murphy got the team from Bunbury over the line. Mandurah City came away from Alfred Skeet Oval as 2-0 winners over Southern Spirit. Christian Paschkewitz and Michael Bobridge got the goals for Mandurah who ended with ten men following the late sending off of Andy Brown. Further details of these games were not forthcoming from any of the eight participating clubs.
FIVE ARRIVE AT GLORY
Perth Glory's squad for the third season of A-League football has taken a significant step forward with the announcement today of five signings. Midfielder Naum Sekulovski has agreed to a new one-year deal with the club which welcomes back former players Anthony Danze and Billy Celeski. New to the Glory camp are West Australian defender Dino Djulbic and Australian Institute of Sport graduate Jimmy Downey. "We're excited about the addition of these players to the squad and I expect in the coming weeks we'll have a similar number again who'll join the club," said coach Ron Smith.
The latest on-field additions comes after new owners Tony Sage, Brett McKeon and John Spence gave the green light to commence player recruitment for next season. "The owners have said to us that we can take it for granted that we have the full salary cap to use and that's obviously going to influence how many players we can sign and our capacity to attract players of high calibre," Smith said. "Since the end of last season Dave and I have been scouting around the world for players we believe can help Perth Glory. Our recruiting process is still continuing and it's a terrific start to have these lads join the club."
Danze, who made 11 appearances for Glory during his initial spell at the club, returns after an injury hampered two-year spell in England with Crystal Palace and Milton Keynes Dons. "Anthony is a terrific athlete who has tremendous ability to get through a lot of work in a game and has a knack of getting in the box and scoring goals," Smith said. "He's only 22 years of age and has had international experience and now that he has given his body time to rest after a frustrating run of injuries he is really keen to get back on the park."
Celeski will be another to add impetus to the midfield and returns to the club after playing 18 times in Glory's inaugural A-League campaign. "I have known Billy since he went through the AIS and he is a skilful midfield player with good vision, excellent passing range and can beat people. They're qualities I think you need in a number of players to be able to threaten opponents and create problems and goal scoring opportunities," Smith commented.
After training extensively with Glory late last season, Djulbic and Downey have each secured their first A-League contract. Former State Schoolboys defender Djulbic impressed the coaching staff with a combination of skill on the pitch and a dedication to the game that's second to none. "Dino has ambition and wants to achieve in the game which I like to see in young players and has personal goals of playing in the A-League for a lot of years to come and I believe he can achieve those goals," Smith said.
Downey, who hails from Queensland, will be one of Glory's under-20 signings and joins the club after honing his skills at the AIS in Canberra. The 19-year old has represented Australia at youth level and can fill a variety of roles including wide on the right side of midfield or full back. "Jimmy is an extremely good athlete aerobically, can get up and down the park all day and is an exciting prospect," said Smith.
Sekulovski, currently recovering from shoulder surgery, has received the best tonic with an offer to add to his 33 A-League games for Glory. The likeable midfielder played in a makeshift role at left back for much of last season and Smith said he was looking forward to releasing the creative side of Sekulovski's game next term. "Last year Naum ended up playing at left back because of circumstances and applied himself extremely well," said Smith. "This season I’ll be looking at playing him in a more attacking role."
Glory now has fifteen players under contract and will continue recruiting for next season over the coming months with Smith set to return overseas in search of new additions. "The advantage we have in Australia at the moment is that the Hyundai A-League has gone so well and it has received so much publicity around the world. You have players from Australia that have gone overseas and want to come back plus a number of players who would like to have a new experience and enjoy the lifestyle this country has to offer."
Smith expects the club will be in a position to reveal further new signings in the not too distant future. "Without letting the cat out of the bag, we're pretty well down the line with some contract negotiations and that'll continue until we have their signatures in black and white," he said. "I'll spend a few days in Europe to have a look at some players we've identified and to finalise the contract of one particular player which will be a big announcement if it comes off at the right time."
OUTREACH FOR DIVERSITY (courtesy Football West)
Smarter than Smoking and Football West teamed up in late 2006 to develop a pilot football program aimed at providing football opportunities for special-needs children and people from multicultural backgrounds, particularly young indigenous players and immigrants. From a small group of twenty friends the squad has now expanded to more than fifty regular participants, having extended their welcome to Maylands locals and other culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) children aged 4 to 14.
The program runs under fully-accredited head coach Asefah Woldeselassie who has experience administering football programs and tournaments for people in humanitarian crisis and in coordinating competitions and training programs in treacherous and adverse conditions in Africa. Woldeselassie described the program as, “A chance for people to keep fit, learn and be educated about healthy lifestyles and have fun whilst discouraging anti-social behaviour and discrimination”.
The Smarter than Smoking partnership highlights the association between sporting success and a smoke free lifestyle. Leith Mete from the Heart Foundation said that it is vital that young people continue to be exposed to message that prevent the uptake of smoking. “For those who desire to perform well with their football, smoking is not a smart move. Smokers are more easily exhausted, are slower to react and have poorer visual judgment. This program provides us with the ability to teach those less fortunate the Smarter than Smoking message,” said Leith Mete.
During 2007, in addition to their fun and learning programs, children involved in the program will, on selected Saturday afternoons, play a series of friendly and a handful of official games with teams from around the metro Perth area. A ladder will be updated regularly on the progress of the United Maylands Junior Football Club, whilst younger teams compiled from within UMJFC will play a series of friendly and fun Rooball matches during the season.
Football West in conjunction with the DSR and following approaches by a large number of community groups will work together to expand the ‘Outreach for Diversity’ program across the metro area. “Our pilot program has proved extremely successful and beneficial to the local community,” said Football West cheii executive Garry Chandler. “The expansion of the program provides an opportunity for other similar groups to not only benefit from participation in the game, but also for greater interaction into their surrounding communities. It is a wonderful initiative with which we are proud to be associated with.”
The CaLD program currently trains on a Saturday afternoon at Gibbney Reserve in Maylands from 4.00pm and welcomes new participants to experience the world game. For further information regarding the program, please contact Jodie MacCallum on 9422 6900.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
Plenty of thrills and spills are guaranteed in the sixth weekend of Night Series games which take place this Labour Day long weekend. It opens this evening at Alfred Skeet Oval where a semi-finals berth is on the line as Armadale take on E.C.U. Joondalup (8.30pm). The winner of the early game between Bayswater City and an undefeated Gosnells City (6.30pm) will guarantee themselves a spot in the last four. Night Series trophy holder Perth S.C. square off with Stirling Lions (8.30pm) in the match of the round at Litis Stadium. The curtain raiser pits Olympic Kingsway against Dianella White Eagles (6.30pm).
Swan I.C. will be seeking their first points of the pre-season competition on Sunday evening when they take on reigning Premier League champion Sorrento (7.30pm) at Alfred Skeet Oval. Mandurah City are tipped to down Southern Spirit (5.30pm) in the early game. Floreat Athena will be looking to extend their unbeaten run to four game when they meet Cockburn City (7.30pm) at Litis Stadium. Canning City take on South West Phoenix (5.30pm) in the early game. Admission is $6 adults, $4 concessions and under 15's are admitted free - so get along and support you team!
'THE FAME GAME' GOLDEN OLDIES : ALEX MANSFIELD
'The Fame Game' is the official newsletter of the Football Hall of Fame Western Australia. Each issue profiles a player from the State's glorious past and in The Fame Game' Issue Two (pdf, 440kb) that spotlight is turned on Alex Mansfield, who captained and coached the State team to many triumphs in the 1940's and 1950's and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005.
Alex Mansfield, at the age of 86 and with a pacemaker recently fitted, is not as mobile as he used to be - but he is still a football fanatic...and a lively vocal contributor to the game. "I'm a great lounge room coach - I sit in front of the TV and shout my advice," he laughed when we caught up with him in his Bicton home. "I watch several games each week and loved Australia's effort in the World Cup. A pity about that game against Italy."
Alex was born in Essex in England on June 4, 1920, although his father - grandly named George Robert Albert Campbell Mansfield - was originally from Campbelltown on the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland. "Dad was a very good full back and played for Morton, so I got my passion for the game from him," said Alex. Both father and son served during the Second World War - Alex in the Navy and his dad as an experimental munitions expert. "Dad was world-renowned for his ability to solve problems with all sort of armaments, instruments, guns and ammunition," said Alex. "He received the British Empire Medal for his work during the War."
Alex, who had played for Essex County, captained the Navy X1 during the War and turned out in games in England - against Millwall and Newcastle - and all over the world, including the United States and Australia. He was given trials by Millwall and Southend and offered terms by both clubs, but decided to emigrate to WA in 1946. He got a job in insurance - he was later a civil servant - joined up with the North Perth club and, with his keen eye from a pivotal position in defence, became an influential player and turned out many times for the State. He was also player-coach of Perth City and Azzurri.
His most significant triumph was skippering WA to victory in the 1948 Southern States Carnival in Adelaide. "The papers of the day lauded us as the best team to ever win the Carnival," he said. "We had a wonderful side. The ball playing and passing was perfect. One of the opposing sides tried to upset our rhythm with some tough tackles, but we were far too good for them."
WA beat South Australia 4-2 in the first game, overcame Tasmania 3-2 in the next contest of the three-team event and then smashed the Tasmanians 6-2 when they met again the final. Alan Beale was the top scorer in the tournament with six goals. "Alan was a great goalscorer and a fine player, but I thought that Jack Smethurst was the best centre forward of that era. He was what I would call a bustling front-runner. He was very hard to shift off the ball," said Alex.
For the record, the squad that won that 1948 event was Ron Oswald (Balmoral), Bill Brackenridge (Caledonians), Ron Robertson (Fremantle City), Alex Mansfield, Alan Miller, Bert Robertson (North Perth), George Allison, Jack Smethurst (Perth City), Bob Cherry (Shenton Park), Don Hunter (South Belmont), Stewart Johnson, Don Turner (South Perth), Alan Beale (Spearwood) and Frank McShane (Victoria Park).
GLORY OWNERS PROMISE TO RELEASE PURSE STRINGS
Perth Glory's new owners will inject an extra $500,000 into player recruitment as their campaign to revive the A-League clubs fortunes gathers pace. And initial plans are being laid for Ron Smith's team to fine-tune its preparations for the 2007/08 season with tour matches in Asia. Glory are also considering a proposal to take on an overseas team in Perth as part of a concerted effort to reignite supporter interest in the club.
Part-owner Tony Sage said the new ownership team are committed to spending big on on-field improvements, including making use of every available cent under the salary cap and providing more funds for guest or marquee players. Glory are believed to have spent about $1.3 million of the $1.6 million salary cap last season as the club went into a holding pattern under the conservative guidance of Football Federation Australia, who were in the process of seeking new owners.
Spending will increase significantly under Sage, John Spence and Brett McKeon who take over Glory at the end of this month. "We've just approved a massive increase in what the FFA spent on salaries," Sage said. "We will spend the cap plus we want guest players so we'll probably end up spending $500,000 more than they did last season." It is understood the salary cap will be extended by FFA to $1.7 million for next season.
Glory had a meeting on Monday with Members Equity Stadium manager Allia Venue Management, a company owned by Glory founder Nick Tana. Sage said the meeting went well, although he continues to have concerns over profits from catering and drink sales. Sage hopes to reach an agreement that will keep Glory at the East Perth venue, which he expects will attract an average 12,000 fans next season. "If our plan comes to fruition, we'll end up getting 14,000-15,000 people there," Sage said of the longer-term aims.
UNDER-23S PICK UP VALUABLE DRAW
The Australian Olympic team secured a valuable point from their opening Stage 2 Olympic qualifying match with a scoreless draw against Iran overnight in Tehran's Azadi Stadium. There were few chances for either team in the match played in cold conditions with snow falling in the Iranian capital the day prior to the match. Iran started strongly and had their best opportunity after just seven minutes with Milad Meydavoudi unable to beat goalkeeper Danny Vukovic in a one-on-one situation. Australian striker Mark Bridge fired a fierce shot over the crossbar just on half-time, while David Williams also came close on the hour mark with an attempt on goal. Locally produced midfielder Nick Ward came off the bench to replace Nathan Burns, while Perth S.C. goalkeeper Tando Velaphi was an unused substitute. Australia's next game is against Jordan on 14th March at Hindmarsh Stadium.
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This page was last updated on the 30th April, 2007