SYDNEY PUNISH SLACK GLORY (by Peter Simcox)
Sydney F.C. continued their strong start to the A-League season with an emphatic 5-2 triumph over Perth Glory at the Sydney Football Stadium. The red carding of defender Dino Djulbic midway through the first half for arguing a penalty decision with referee Peter Green put Glory on the back foot and opened the floodgates for Sydney to race to a match winning lead by the break. "We were playing well to that point and after Dino was sent off we still had an opportunity to get something out of the match and continued to go forward however we didn't adapt at the back quickly enough and Sydney capitalised and it cost us," said coach David Mitchell.
The home side were gifted the opening goal after 3 minutes when Alex Brosque pounced on a sloppy Djulbic pass and race through to guide his shot past goalkeeper Frank Juric. Glory remained focused and nine minutes later were back on level terms thanks to Eugene Dadi who headed in unmarked an Amaral free-kick from the right. The game took another twist on 21 minutes when Steve Corica was brought down by Adrain Pelligrino, Djulbic argued the point with Green who had no hesitation sending off the defender after he allegedly spat at the official. Once order was restored, Corica stepped up to push the resulting penalty into the net to put Sydney back in front. With the advantage of an extra man, Sydney now began to dominate and on 39 minutes Corica played down the right to Brosque whose cross was converted by Mark Bridge. It was soon four-one as poor defending enabled Iain Faye's back post cross to reach Shannon Cole who fired low into the net.
A mistake by Jamie Coyne presented Corica with the first chance after the break which the veteran midfielder sent wide from close-in. Scott Bulloch looked set to capitilise on a mistake by Simon Colosimo but lifted his shot high from 7-metres as Glory started to get more involved. Amaral waltzed past a couple of opponents but his shot was paried by Clint Bolton, who was glad to see substitute Nikita Rukavytsya sent the follow-up wide. Dadi went down under a Simon Colosimo challenge in the 66th minute to earn Glory a penalty which the former Ivory Coast international duty dispatched into the net. This sparked the hosts back into action as Corica, new signing John Aloisi and Terry McFlynn tested Juric. The icing was put on Sydney's cake in the 88th minute when Mark Bridge's cross intended for Aloisi was turned into the net by defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND NINETEEN (Sorrento v Perth S.C. courtesy Football West; Stirling Lions v Mandurah City by Kirk O’Connor; Armadale v Swan I.C. by Peter Simcox)
Sorrento moved a step closer to lifting the Premier League trophy after inflicting a 2-0 loss on title contender Perth S.C. at Percy Doyle Reserve. First half goals by Shaun Kilkelly and Todd Harnwell earned the Gulls victory and effectively snuffed out Perth's championship dream. The early exchanges were controlled by the visitors who were unlucky not to go ahead through Andrija Jukic whose explosive shot came back off the upright after 7 minutes. This had a settling effect on the Gulls who almost immediately had the ball in the net via Todd Harnwell but his close-range effort was disallowed for offside. Harnwell was featuring prominently and in the 16th minute appeared to be pulled down by Michael Icanovski, however, referee David Currie saw it differently and waved play on. Sorrento's persistence paid dividends on 27 minutes when a partially cleared corner rolled out to Shaun Kilkelly who drilled the ball beyond Gareth Deeg's reach from the edge of the 18-yard box. The game was well and truly in the Gulls control when Harnwell's cross found Stuart Montgomery whose close-range effort was well saved by Deeg. Half-time was looming when Harnwell picked himself up after being pushed by Steven Campbell to rocket his penalty kick past Deeg. Perth came to life after the turnaround which opened with Antonio Naglieri scuffing wide, and Neil Young forced into a fine response to keep out Jukic's rasping drive. Greg Sharland should have done better than head wide when found unmarked at a corner, and next to threaten was substitute Jared Brooks whose stinging drive was deflected high. With fifteen minutes remaining Perth were caught square at the back as Harnwell beat the offside trap but his lob over Deeg also cleared the bar. A tirade of verbal abuse from Graham Normanton lead referee David Currie to eject the Perth coach from the bench as the final whistle neared.
Back-to-back championships remain an option for Floreat Athena after they twice came from behind to defeat Cockburn City 4-3 at Dalmatinac Park. Rafael Insaurralde bagged the late winner after Brad Scott (2) and Daniel Neiderberger clawed the hosts back into the contest. Cockburn overcame a slow start to go ahead after 11 minutes via a low Johnny Mirco free-kick which goalkeeper Vas Vujacic uncharacteristically spilled, gifting to Aaron Dos Santos a simple tap-in. Windy conditions forced both teams into playing the ball along the ground with Cockburn adapting better and Josh Findlater ever-dangerous on the right. The margin was doubled after 28 minutes when a poorly defended corner landed at the feet of Jason Godfrey who lift his shot high into the net. Floreat's response came eight minutes later when Scott fired a penalty kick into the bottom corner following a foul on Adam Bachiller by Findlater. Parity was restored through a slick exchange of passes at the end of which Neiderberger wriggled free of his marker to drill a superb shot past diving 'keeper Nick Feely. Fired up by coach Mirko Jelicic, the hosts aggressive approach to the second period saw them laid siege on the visitors goal. Their persistent pressure reaped rewards just before the hour when Aaron Dos Santos tapped in at the far post after Michael Mirco skewed his shot across the face of goal. Johnny Mirco could have delivered the knock out blow when sent through one-on-one with Vas Vujacic who saved courageously at the striker's feet. The host's failure to clear from within their 18-yard box would be their undoing as Scott seized upon the loose ball which he lashed past Feely with twenty minutes to go. Floreat hit the front for the first time seven minutes later when Insaurralde poked the ball in at close-range after Feely failed to take cleanly a Dean Apelgren grass cutter. The late sending off of Michael Mirco added salt to the wounds of a Cockburn side that a couple of months back were up there amongst the leaders.
Kevin Griffiths played the starring role when Inglewood United overturned a two-goal deficit to score a dramatic 3-2 win against E.C.U. Joondalup Clipsal Stadium. The northerners looked set for victory after John Higgins and Garin Collins netted late in the first half, however, Griffiths had other plans and his trio of goals after the break keeps Inglewood on course for a top four spot. It had all started so well for Joondalup who dictated play through elegant movement of the ball epitomised by Tommy Amphlett, Craig Young and Scott Bushby. The breakthrough arrived on 39 minutes when Higgins turned sharply near the bye-line and, under pressure from a couple of defenders, released a fierce shot that somehow found the net from a seemingly impossible angle. It was soon two-nil as Amphlett sent a cross into the penalty area which an unmarked Garin Collins volleyed crisply into the bottom corner with Oliver Taseski grasping at air. It was a much different Inglewood that emerged from the break, their increased urgency and desire leading to a half-chances for Griffiths and James Sammut. The hosts got the goal they sought in the 64th minute when Jamie Mitsopoulos' superb cross from the left wing was met by a strong Kevin Griffiths header that found the net. A great chance to seal the game went begging as McMurray fired wide from the spot after the Joondalup captain was felled by Daniel Kovacevic. The next twist had Inglewood draw level in the 87th minute through Griffiths who nodded past Bobson Koroma for the second time, on this occasion from a Sammut corner. The game was well into stoppage time when from wide on the right Jason Colli sent the ball into the path of Griffiths who stormed inside the 18-yard box and placed wide of Koroma to complete his hat-trick.
The play-off hopes of Mandurah City received a setback when held to a 1-1 draw by Stirling Lions at Macedonia Park. A superb solo goal by Marc Anthony late in the first half negated Phil O'Callaghan's penalty conversion to earn Stirling a point on an afternoon of few chances. The game didn't really get going until O'Callaghan slotted in a 23rd minute penalty awarded against Michael Pugliese who was ruled to have handled a long ball by Gary Collins. A driving run by Jordan Rhodes took him to within sight of goal before Ryan Townsend applied a no-nonsense tackle to deny the hosts a chance to equalise. Mandurah should have extended their lead after Jay Bonser's long throw-in found O'Callaghan whose goalbound strike was well saved by goalkeeper Phil Straker. Half-time was on the horizon when Anthony's exceptional skill saw him run the ball out of midfield, avoid a couple of challenges and place wide of 'keeper Michael Green to bring the teams level. Anthony turned provider after the break by rounding the 'keeper and centring to Matthew Italiano whose shot struck team mate David Geddes, who was deemed offside as he attempted to retrieve the situation. A cheeky back-heel by Christian Paschkewitz was cleared from close to the line by Chris Rutherford as Mandurah sought to regain the lead. Straker did well to parry an O'Callaghan shot, Gary Attrill seized upon the rebound but his goalbound effort was cleared by Dean Evans. With fifteen minutes to go Phil Arnold squandered a guilt-edged chance to snatch a Stirling victory by skewing the ball high and wide when afforded time and space to pick his spot. Referee Ton Klaver had no option but to issued a second caution to Jeff Bright for kicking the ball away in frustration after a decision went against the visitors, leaving Mandurah with ten men. The game faded during the closing stages with neither team taking any risks and both seemingly content to accept a point.
Armadale made sure of their place in next year's Premier League by stunning Swan I.C. 4-1 at Alfred Skeet Oval. A couple of first half goals by Japanese import Nao Oishi were complemented after the break by two more from man of the match James Robinson in a dominant display by the Reds. The early signs were positive for Swan as Andy O'Neill forced a good save from Beau Geerlings, and Damian Scali nodded over the crossbar at a Dom Ando free-kick. The home side slowly got into stride with Andy Bowyer rifling their first chance straight at Cory Hugo. Geerlings produced a terrific reflex save to keep out Dejan Djukanovic's diving header from a Scali cross. Armadale went straight down the other end and scored thanks to an intelligent pass by Robinson that split wide open the defence and allowed Oishi to beat Hugo with 19 minutes on the clock. Robinson could have doubled the lead seven minutes later when sent clear by Faria but his low shot was deflected away by Hugo. Scali lobbed a miscued clearance by Geerlings the wrong side of the post, and soon after O'Neill drilled straight at the teenage 'keeper. Armadale's second arrived in the 40th minute when Faria and Robinson combined with the latter delivering the ball in for Oishi to net. The second half continued in similar fashion as Hugo was stretched by a fierce shot from Robinson, who shortly after crashed the ball into the bar after beating three defenders. Oishi was denied his hat-trick by a terrific Hugo, and a minute later Kodi Madeley's effort from 16-metres was captured by the Swan custodian. The hosts relentless attacking was rewarded in the 70th minute when Robinson stole possession from Chris Marshall and confidently stroked low past Hugo to effectively seal the game. Ten minutes later Robinson latched on to a pass from Matt Bennion and again showed great composure in beating an exposed 'keeper. Swan were gifted a late consolation with as the ball deflecting into the net off defender Mark Darby after Geerlings misjudged the flight of an 85th minute Ando free-kick.
An inspiration display by David Micevski was at the heart of Western Knights 4-2 victory over Fremantle Spirit at Wauhop Park. Micevski scored twice and laid on the other two for a dominant Knights side that twice rejected attempts by the hosts to take something away from the afternoon. Fremantle hardly knew what hit them as Micevski, George Tcahmi and Paul Cooke orchestrated a series of penetrating early raids. Goalkeeper Steve Grant did well to parry Tchami's explosive strike after 11 minutes but was helpless as Micevski slammed in the follow-up from 10-metres. Matt Allen stung the 'keeper's gloves soon after and at the rebound Tchami's chip came back off the far post. Fremantle equalised with their first foray which came about through Jason Pottier's neat pass which permitted David Rodgers to round Kevin Miller before sliding in from a narrowing angle after 16 minutes. Allen was lining up the target when Tom Straker nicked the ball off his boot, while close to half-time Daniel Trim and Micevski each dragged shots across the face of goal as the ball remained locked in the visitors half. It was more of the same after the interval with Trim thundering against the crossbar and Cooke sent the rebound just beyond the top corner. Fremantle countered in the 52nd minute through Ben Kelly who arrowed the ball under the advancing 'keeper and into the net. Exquisite movement five minutes later between Cooke, Trim and Micevski ended with a ferocious first time shot by Luka Jukic that gave Grant absolutely no chance. Referee Hugh Best earned the wrath of the home side when he chose not to dismiss Jon Mathers for bringing down Callum Roberts. Micevski put the visitors back in front after 73 minutes by expertly controlling a bouncing pass from Jukic that he then lashed in from 13-metres. Roberts showed the game was far from decided when his dipping shot cleared the bar by the slightest of margins. The points were eventually made safe with six minutes remaining as Micevski got around the defence and crossed onto the head of Trim who made no mistake at close-range.
FIRST DIVISION, ROUND NINETEEN (South West Phoenix v Canning City by Phil Unsworth; Queens Park v Rockingham City courtesy Football West; Gosnells City v Forrestfield United courtesy Gosnells City)
Canning City moved nine points clear at the top of the First Division table by trouncing nearest rival South West Phoenix 3-0 in the winner-take-all contest in Bunbury. A big crowd was on hand to see Canning take a 3rd minute lead through Paul Van Dongen who lashed his shot past Ryan Montgomery after running onto Daniel Trevisoil’s pass. The hosts responded with a prolonged spell of sustained pressure in which Ryan Binnie fired just wide from 14-metres and Steve Suttie was brilliantly denied by Devon Spence. Paul Harvey should have extended the margin on 35 minutes but sent his shot straight at the ‘keeper. But it mattered little as five minutes later Paul Oliver picked up possession near the halfway line and after sizing up his options unleashed a stunning long-range bomb which flew into the top corner and triggered jubilant celebrations on the Canning bench. The second half was evenly contested with both sides playing open, attacking football. Canning always looked the more likely to score and Michael Klaver would have made the game safe on the hour if he hadn’t placed the ball too close to Montgomery. Ten minutes after coming off the bench Duanne Hepburn found himself in the right place at the right time to tuck away Harvey’s cross at close-range.
Rockingham City all but secured First Division survival with a 5-0 thrashing of Queens Park at Coker Park. The win moves Rockingham five points clear of the drop spot, but condemns Queens Park to battle it out with Ashfield to avoid relegation. It took only a couple of minutes for Rockingham to assert their authority as John McCreery’s vicious shot from the top corner of the 18-yard box snuck inside the far side of the net. The gap was widened in the 14th minute when Paul Johnson’s seemingly innocuous cross curled over goalkeeper Robbie Easton. McCreery was proving a constant threat and on 24 minutes it was his header which struck a defender and somehow finishing up in the net as the margin began to blow out. Queens Park’s chances were dashed when F.Condron was booked for dissent by referee Josh Mannella, who then flashed the player a red card for continuing his tirade. The first serious opportunity of the second half came via Tom Cullen whose header was tipped high by Rockingham custodian Craig Olenjik. Luke Rennie added the hosts fourth in the 58th minute by heading in unmarked at Michael Vaz’s far post corner. Rockingham added a fifth in the 79th minute when substitute Daniel Macklin had little trouble heading in at the back post from Vaz’s delivery.
Darren Francis scored twice to lead Gosnells City to a 2-0 win against neighbouring Forrestfield United at Walter Padbury Reserve. A home win was always on the cards as Gosnells controlled the pace from the opening whistle against an opponent that failed to get into gear. Ciaran Allen's cameo appearance in the forward line ensured Forrestfield were on their toes early as the hosts piled on the pressure. Gosnells made the most of their posession in the 20th minute when Sam Maguire neatly flocked the ball on to Allen who shrugged off one challenge to drive inside the 18-yard box and cut the ball back for Francis to tuck away. Forrestfield's only real opportunity of the half came the way of John Hunter who tested the reflexes of Alan Dunlop. It was more of the same after the break as Jimmy Capewell fired into the side netting and Jordan Naylor volley wide. The knock blow arrived on 58 minutes when Dunlop's booming clearance was chased down by Francis who looped his header over goalkeeper Brad Eiffe. There was a late surge from Forrestfield to steal something from the game but lackadaisical finishing meant Dunlop wasn't called into action.
Dianella White Eagles jumped to third place by defeating relegation threatened Ashfield 3-0 at Dianella Reserve. Jon Greenwood got the show on the road after 9 minutes, Mellad Sakie doubled the hosts lead just before the break with Aaron Moschopolous sealing the points midway through the second half. The points were shared at Kingsway Sporting Complex where Wanneroo City and Balcatta played out a tight 1-1 draw. Wanneroo went ahead after 29 minutes via Ceasar Meylan with Adrain Zonato bringing the sides level after 73 minutes. Ahmed Hafez got the goal that earned Bayswater City a 1-0 win against Morley Windmills at Wotton Reserve. Further details of these three games were not forthcoming from any of the six participating clubs.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
The championship credentials of Sorrento and Perth S.C. are on the line when they meet in the top of the table showdown at Percy Doyle Reserve. The Gulls ten-game unbeaten streak came to an abrupt end last week at Floreat Athena and the job tomorrow will be no easier with Michael Ord and James Morgan suspended. Missing for the very same reason is David Onoforo, who scored twice in Perth’s home win over Inglewood United last time out. Honours were even at 1-1 when the sides met in June and you can be assured this weekend’s game will be just as tight.
Defending champion Floreat Athena could find themselves on top of the pile if they beat Cockburn City as expected, and Sorrento draw with Perth. Michael Roki’s team sit just one point behind the joint leaders, are unbeaten in eight games, have the best defensive record in the league and appear to be have hit peak form at just the right time of the year. Cockburn are in the midst of a lengthy winless streak, leading coach Mirko Jelicic to switch some of his attention towards the future by introducing several promising youngsters to first team football. A repeat of Cockburn’s 4-0 Round Eight defeat of Floreat is just not on the cards.
Inglewood United is tipped to take all the points when E.C.U. Joondalup calls in at Clipsal Stadium. Lee Bamber's team had little show for 90 minutes of hard graft last week and no doubt want to make amends to keep their quest for a top four placing on track. Joondalup have taken quiet a battering of late, conceding fifteen goals in five games to tumble down to ninth. One thing's for certain - Anthony Jones, Scott Blackmore and goalkeeper Bobson Koroma are in for a difficult afternoon countering the attacking instincts of Jason Colli, James Sammut and Jamie Mitsopolous.
Coach Stuart Currie will consider anything less than victory as unacceptable when Mandurah City take on Stirling Lions at Macedonia Park. The Dolphins robbed themselves of a top four berth last week by drawing with Armadale, against whom Phil O'Callaghan played the starring role with another two goals. Christian Pascherwitz provides them with an extra avenue to goal as the run from out wide comes via Gary Attrill. Confidence is sky-high in the Stirling camp following last weeks come-from-behind win at E.C.U. Joondalup when Steve Porter, Ludovic Boi, Keith Clevenger and Jordan Rhodes found the target.
Armadale stands a good chance of collecting further points when they welcome Swan I.C. to Alfred Skeet Oval. A fighting 2-2 draw with Mandurah City last time out showed what the Reds are capable when they focus on the job at hand, and that’s exactly what they’ll have to do against a Swan line-up lead from the front by veteran Damian Scali. Successive League and Cup win has lifted confidence at Western Knights who should prove too strong for Fremantle Spirit when they visit Wauhop Park. Fremantle have shown improvement of late but it’s unlikely they’ll score their first win of the regular season this weekend.
The penultimate game of the 2008 First Division season takes place this weekend in Bunbury where second-placed South West Phoenix meet top of the table Canning City. It's a must-win game for Phoenix who'll need big performances from Gareth Johnston, Patrick Quinn and Steve Suttie if they are to cut Canning's lead from six points. Paul Harvey has apparently delayed his return to England so is expected to take his place in front of midfielders Paul Oliver and Paul Van Dongen. The meeting earlier this year ended with honours shared at 1-1 but Phoenix will draw inspiration from the corresponding fixture last year which they claimed 4-0.
The weekend's other key fixture takes place at the opposite end of the table as Queens Park and Rockingham City fight for State League survival at Coker Park. Sandwiched between these two are Ashfield who'll need a fair slice to luck to take a point from third-placed Dianella White Eagles. Wanneroo City has home advantage against Balcatta, while Wotton Reserve hosts the derby meeting of Morley Windmills and Bayswater City. Highlights have been few and far between for Gosnells City and Forrestfield United this year but boasting rights are up for grabs when the eastern corridor neighbours meet at Walter Padbury Reserve.
VOTE FOR THE FOOTBALLWA.NET PLAYER OF THE YEAR!
With the Premier League and First Division seasons drawing to a close voting has opened in the footballwa.net 2008 Player of the Year awards. As in previous years, there are two awards up for grabs - the Premier League Player of the Year and the First Division Player of the Year - with website visitors encouraged to vote in either, or both, categories.
The footballwa.net Player of the Year is the only award voted for by the players, coaches, administrators and supporters of the local game. Gold Medal winner Nick Ward and Perth Glory captain Jamie Coyne head the list of previous Premier League recipients which also includes Boima Karpeh, Simon Harland, Antonio Naglieri, Shane Crampton and Branimir Mikulic. The First Division Player of the Year has been taken out by Andy Brown, David Rodgers, Adam Raines, Scott Bulloch and Boima Karpeh.
On a 3-2-1 basis - where three is your preferred player of the season - we invite all our readers to submit their votes in either category as soon as possible. These will be tallied off-line with the winner and minor place getters revealed on Friday 26th September. Don't miss out on having your voice heard by sending your votes as soon as possible to Brett via firstname.lastname@example.org.
GLORY TO ATTACK WITH PACE
David Mitchell has given Perth Glory an injection of pace as they prepare to tackle Sydney F.C. on Sunday. Lively midfielder Jimmy Downey returns to the squad while exciting teenager Anthony Skorich has been promoted from the club's Youth team. It's the second time in three weeks Mitchell has called upon Skorich, whose keen eye for goal earned the 18-year old an A-League debut against Adelaide United in round one.
Glory has been forced into a minor reshuffle with versatile big man Jamie Harnwell ruled out of the trip east with a sore hip. Harnwell came off the bench against Newcastle United Jets last week but aggravated a hip problem at training on Tuesday. Next weekend's A-League break should provide Harnwell, James Robinson, Hayden Foxe (foot), Naum Sekulovski (hamstring) and David Tarka (thigh) ample time to recover before Glory's next assignment.
A late equaliser may have denied Glory victory last weekend but Mitchell saw enough positives in his teams performance to know their first win of the season isn't that far away. "The good thing about the A-League is that it is a big stage every week, Sydney are a good side but we'll be going over with a focus to secure the three points," said the coach. "If we can reproduce elements of what we did last week then we will give ourselves every opportunity to get the result."
RUKAVYTSYA COMMITS TO GLORY
Australian youth international Nikita Rukavytsya will remain at Perth Glory until at least the end of the 2009/10 season. The 21-year old, one of the nations brightest talents, recently returned from Beijing where he played a pivotal role in Australia's Olympic Games campaign and has shown no signs of slowing his rapid rise with a stunning goal against Newcastle United Jets last week. "I'm very happy to be part of the Glory for the next few years," said Rukavytsya after signing a one-year contract extension. "You have to have a great atmosphere around the club and I think we have that this season. The coach has done a lot of good things and we’ll be a strong team. He has also helped me in my own development and I know I will be able to continue to learn more under him."
Ukraine-born Rukavytsya moved to Australia at the age of fourteen and was smitten with the Glory straight away. "Since I came to Australia I've been coming and watching and supporting Glory," commented Rukavytsya, who played for Inglewood United and Perth S.C. prior to joining Glory for the tail end of the 2006/07 season. "They've been one of the best teams in the league back in the day so I want to see that happen again. It would mean a lot for the club and for Perth, it's been such a great club and it's still a great club and hopefully it will be one of the best in Australia again." Rukavytsya attended a week-long trial with German club Hannover 96 during the off-season and harbours ambitions of plying his trade in Europe in the future.
Unless Fremantle Spirit can turn things around quickly, they’ll become just the fifth club in 49-years to complete a top-flight season without experiencing victory. The port side is well adrift at the foot of the table with just five draws to show from 18 starts with the Premier League season entering its final month. Four clubs have previously gone the season with a win, those being Kelmscott Roos (1991), North Perth (1966), Julia (1965) and Cracovia (1964).
Sorrento goalkeeper Neil Young impressed sufficiently in recent trials with Adelaide United for the A-League club to offer him a contract. However, the table topping Gulls would much rather retain their highly rated ‘keeper as they attempt to take out the 2008 Premier League championship. Should Young agree to a deal he will replace injured 'keeper Daniel Beltrame and compete with West Australian teenager Mark Birighitti as well as Eugene Galekovic for the place between the posts.
Rhys Williams has been added to the Wales squad for next month’s 2010 World Cup qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Russia. Manager John Toshack brought in Williams along with Nottingham Forest forward Robert Earnshaw in response to injury concerns with several players named in the original 26-man squad last week. Wiliams is one of eight players in the senior squad who have also been included in the Under-21 party for a 9th September qualifier against Romania.
Brad Jones was a late withdrawal from the Middlesbrough side that went down 2-1 to Liverpool on Saturday. The one-time Socceroo dislocated a finger while diving to save a shot during the pre-match warm-up at Anfield Park, leaving manager Gareth Southgate to promote Ross Turnbull to the first eleven at the last minute. While Jones is not expected to be sidelined for long, the injury has prompted Southgate to consider bringing in another ‘keeper.
SOCCEROO CALL-UP FOR FOUR WEST AUSSIES
Four West Australians are amongst a 27-player squad named for the Socceroo's upcoming games against the Netherlands and Uzbekistan. Goalkeeper Brad Jones returns to the national set-up after a fourteen-month absence to join 'sandgropers' Chris Coyne, Richard Garcia and Michael Petkovic in Pim Verbeek's extended squad. Australia plays an international friendly with the Netherlands in Eindhoven on 6th September as preparation for their 2008 World Cup qualifier against Uzbekistan four days later.
A-LEAGUE GROWS TO TEN
The addition of two teams from Queensland will expand the A-League to a ten-team competition for the 2009/10 season. Gold Coast United were today officially announced the competition's newest entry by Football Federation Australia chief executive Ben Buckley, who also confirmed a license has been approved for the Townsville-based North Queensland consortium. Buckley reiterated FFA's view that the A-League has the capacity to be at least a twelve-team competition, and could eventually feature fourteen clubs. it is understood FFA are continuing discussions with consortia from Canberra, Wollongong and Melbourne for entry in 2010/11.
O'CONNELL KEEPS HIS FEET ON THE GROUND
Sorrento teenager Calum O'Connell is looking forward to a bit of piece and quiet after a whirlwind few months. There's hardly been a spare moment for the 19-year old defender since he tried out for the State Schoolboys in April, followed soon after by trials for the Fox8 'Football Superstar' reality television series. Successful in landing a spot in both, O'Connell somehow managed to find the time to squeeze in playing club football and have a red-hot go at making the inaugural Perth Glory Youth squad.
The opportunity to be involved in 'Football Superstar' was something O'Connell won't forget any time soon. "It was great experience, it was something that I didn't think would come so quickly," said O'Connell, who was one of ten players selected for the program nationwide. "The whole show really opened my eyes at how a professional club works and being on the first ever show and getting so far means a lot to me personally. That experience is something I'll cherish for a long time to come."
The task of cutting players from the show fell to former Socceroo captain and current Sydney F.C. boss John Kosmina, who O'Connell has a great deal of respect for. "Kosmina is a great bloke; he’s a character of the game that I believe is needed," he commented. "He's been there and done that so he knows what he's looking for. Obviously, on the show he displays the character that he is, but outside the show you can talk to him about anything which is great when you're a young player."
With the show still airing, O'Connell played the starring role in the Schoolboys flat showing at this years nationals. "Unfortunately, our final placing of flat sixth didn't really reflect the way we played," he said. "But to be told on the final day I'd been selected in the Australian squad was fantastic. It's a great honour to be selected in the Aussie squad I've never represented my country, so I'm looking forward to run around in the green and gold." The Australian squad travel to Japan and South Korea in late November.
A sports development student at Leederville TAFE, O'Connell took last week's disappointment of missing out on Glory's youth team in his stride. "I'm a little disappointed about it but that's football, you get knock backs and the stronger players move on from it and work hard for the next one," he commented. "I wish all the lads who have been selected all the best of luck and hopefully they have a good solid season because it's going to be difficult."
O'Connell is indebted to the guidance of his father, John, who played 41 times for the State in a glittering career that began in Liverpool. "My dad has been brilliant, he’s been involved in the game here for such a long time and has helped me progress over the years to become a better player," he commented. "I have a little bit of a burden to carry as he achieved a lot as a player, but I can't think of anyone better to have as a father than someone who can tell you what you're doing wrong and what needs to be worked on."
A summer move to Sorrento from E.C.U. Joondalup has paid dividends for O'Connell who's now knocking on the door of first team selection. "I've worked under Steve Neville before and he's given me some good opportunities this year and shown confidence in me. Steve and Trevor Morgan have helped me become more mentally strong," he said. "The club as a whole is a great environment with great people running it and being apart of the side this year has also helped with my progression as a young player."
Having got a brief taste of life as a professional footballer, O'Connell hopes to continue developing as a play and one day make the next step. "My main ambition now is obviously to play professional football," he said. "Being around the players at Sydney and in the Glory youth set-up and having a sniff of what is on offer makes you want to be apart of it. I've now got to really step up and be ready for the next opportunity that comes and don't look back."
COACH HAPPY WITH YOUNG SOCCEROOS
Australian Under-20 coach Jan Verslaijen was pleased with how his side performed at the Shizuoka Broadcasting System (SBS) Cup in Japan over the weekend. The Young Socceroos lost 5-4 on penalties to Japan and defeated Shizuoka Province 1-0 before succumbing 2-0 to Argentina. "This was a very good tournament for us to participate in against some very good, high class opposition," said the coach. "This international experience will be of great benefit to us as we head towards the AFC Championships."
The Young Socceroos squad for SBS Cup consisted of Mark Birighitti, Daniel Mullen (Adelaide United), Dane Milanovic, Sam Munro, Daniel Thomas (Australian Institute of Sport), Andrew Redmayne (Central Coast Mariners), Stefan Vrbesic (Las Palmas), Nathan Elasi, Sebastian Ryall (Melbourne Victory), Jason Hoffman, Jason Naidovski (Newcastle United Jets), Milos Lujic (Oakleigh), Luke De Vere, Tahj Minniecon, Mitchell Nichols, Thomas Oar (Queensland Roar), Matthew Jurman (Sydney Olympic) and Nik Tsattalios (Sydney F.C.).
MITCHELL REFUSES TO TAME DJULBIC
Dino Djulbic won’t be asked to tame his game after picking up cautions in both Perth Glory’s opening matches of the A-League season. David Mitchell acknowledges the defender’s vigorous style has the potential to hurt Glory, however, the coach does not want to detract from Djulbic’s foremost attribute. “He’s effective because he goes in so hard,” said Mitchell. “He fights for everything, and that’s why he sometimes wins balls he has not right to get. If I was going to war, he’d be one of the first I’d want next to me in the trenches. He’s an out-and-out competitor.” If Djulbic wears his heart on his sleeve, others wear his studs on their ankles. He is one of only two players to have been cautioned in each of the first two rounds of the season, the other being Sydney F.C. midfielder Simon Colosimo.
STIRLING’S YOUTH FOCUS PAYS DIVIDENDS
A change of focus towards youth development at Stirling Lions some six years ago has borne fruit with three of the clubs teenagers making the cut of the inaugural Perth Glory Youth team. State full-back Dean Evans and midfield wizard Ludovic Boi along with former Lions junior Adam Luca, currently with the National Training Centre, were amongst a dozen local lads given the nod by coach Gareth Naven to strut their stuff on the national stage.
While delighted, Evans was nonetheless surprised when told of his selection. "I was told on Wednesday night and was really pleased that all my hard work and effort has been all worth it," said Evans. "It's great news for the club with Ludo and Adam also being selected, but it was a surprise that Phil Arnold and Steven Hesketh weren't in the squad." Hesketh remains in Glory's sights and has been invited to train with the youth team as part of his rehabilitation from a fractured leg suffered against Floreat Athena earlier in the year.
Michael Lyons, Stirling's director of coaching, praised the efforts of the trio who he feels are ready to take the next step in their careers. "Dean and Ludo in particular have played very well with our senior side this year and have shown our fans what great potential they possess," he said. "Dean has been versatile playing in defensive and midfield roles while Ludo has played an attacking midfield role. Everyone at our club wishes them well in their dream to become professional footballers."
Stirling president Don Evans is pleased years hard work is now paying dividends for the club. "Efforts to turn our club around eight years ago began with building a foundation where the homegrown local talent would be given every opportunity to learn, enjoy and play football in an educational environment," he said. "These boys are very fortunate to have had developmental coaches like Alex Olejnik, Michael Garcia, Joe Pugliese and most importantly Michael Lyons help guide them into senior football."
NEW BEGINNING FOR MRDJA
West Australian striker Nik Mrdja is planning to use his one hundredth game at the elite level to signal a new chapter in his career. A series of knee and heel problems have so far prevented the strongly built 29-year old from making a major impression in the A-League, but if Mrdja has anything to do with it that is about to change. “It hasn’t been the best of times for me,” said the Cnetral Coast Mariners player. “It is all behind me now and maybe this 100th (game) can be the start of my new dash … play consistently and make sure my knee is right.”
Mrdja played 76 matches in the National Soccer League with Perth Glory before adding a further dozen to his career tally during a season at Swedish club Solna. Unfortunately, injury has limited him to just eleven Mariners appearances in three and a bit seasons. “Before I got injured, before the start of the A-League, I started to really enjoy my football,” Mrdja said of the motivation to beat his injury. “When I came here (to Central Coast) I started to relax and get the best out of myself. I got away from Perth to knuckle down and put 100 percent into my football.”
An impressive three game run last season lead to Mrdja’s inclusion in the Australian squad to play Argentina. But after making his international debut as a second half substitute, Mrdja again pulled up lame again and was not sighted until round one of this season. “That was the lowest point of my career,” Mrdja said. “It just shows you the work that you’ve got to put in to get to the very top is a lot compared to how quickly it can all be taken away. You slowly realise you’ve got to make the most of it while you can.”
INTERSTATE COMPETITION REVIVED
Western Australia and South Australia will meet annually for the Stratco Cup following a sponsorship agreement signed with the home improvement specialists. The agreement, which is for an initial two-year term, will see the local scenes best player's journey to Adelaide for an 11th October showdown with South Australia at the Marsden Sports Complex. "I am really excited about the Stratco Cup and can't wait for the best of our local players to match their skills against our South Australian counterparts again" said State coach Robbie Dunn. South Australia heads west for the return match in 2009.
Dunn is looking forward to assembling a squad to play those from just the other side of the Nullarbor. "Western Australia has some exceptional talent and hopefully we can get our best players on the park against the 'croweaters' and show them, and everyone else just how good the talent is in the west," he said. "I have been busy watching the local competition and have some new faces that I want to bring in and have a look at with the aim to select the best possible squad come October." After an absence of more than five years, the State team was resurrected for June friendlies against Perth Glory and the East Java Under-23's.
GARCIA MAKES POINT FOR HULL
Richard Garcia's header earned Premier League new boys Hull City a point away at Blackburn Rovers on Saturday. The 1-1 draw moved Hull up into third and was the icing on the cake of a terrific week for Garcia, who made his Socceroo debut in mid-week against South Africa. Craig Fagan provided the 40th ammunition by crossing to Garcia whose looping header clerared Paul Robinson and nestled inside the net after coming off the far post. It cancelled out Jason Roberts' goal of two minutes earlier when the unmarked striker stabbed the ball past goalkeeper Boaz Myhill. Hull will be looking to look to remain unbeaten when they welcome Wigan Athletic to the KC Stadium this weekend.
REF COPS BROADSIDE FROM GLORY COACH
David Mitchell could find himself in hot water with Football Federation Australia after criticising referee Craig Zetter following Perth Glory's 3-3 with Newcastle Jets on Friday. 95 minutes had been played when Jade North pounced to deny Glory their first win of the 2008/09 season. "Where did that four minutes come from and then they extended it, felt like six minutes at the end. Where that came from, I don't know, (but we're) bitterly disappointed," said Mitchell. "From that point of view, it feels like a loss but we picked up a point and it should have been three, no denying that fact and I think Newcastle will find themselves very lucky today."
The Glory boss was also raised his concern with the Jets' opening goal which resulted from a dubious penalty awarded for Dino Djulbic's foul on Joel Griffiths, with replays showing contact occurred outside the area. "Well, it was outside the box, I think everyone saw that who was there. I think every time we get this referee we just get a bit of bad luck you know, so that's unfortunate," he said. However, Mitchell he refused to comment on whether Zetter had officiated poorly in past matches involving the club. "I wasn't in charge then, but since I've been in charge, anyway, I won't say, I won't get myself into trouble ... I can't afford a fine. We're not allowed to say anything."
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND EIGHTEEN (Mandurah City v Armadale by Scoop Rafferty; E.C.U. Joondalup v Stirling Lions by Don Evans; Floreat Athena v Sorrento courtesy Floreat Athena)
David Onoforo has taken Perth S.C. to the top of the Premier League table by scoring both goals in Sunday's 2-1 defeat of Inglewood United at Dorrien Gardens. The win moves Perth level with Sorrento on 37 points, and just one more than Floreat Athena to set up a nail biting final month of competition. Superb defending at both ends of the park dominated a first half in which genuine scoring opportunities came at a premium. In fact, it took until the 31st minute for either goalkeeper to be tested when Oliver Taseski pulled off a world-class save to keep out a spectacular diving header by Onoforo. The only other notable opening came just before the break when James Duncan's timely interception robbed Onoforo of a shot from Todd Howarth's low centre. The game burst into life five minutes after the break when Michael Icanovski threaded a long pass down the right which Andrija Jukic ran to the bye-line before playing into the path of Onoforo who was never going to miss from a couple of metres. Another neat move two minutes later again had the ball at the feet of Onoforo who drove into the 18-yard box to angle his shot across Taseski and double the host's advantage. But Inglewood were having none of it and six minutes after Colli pulled the ball into the area from wide on the right for David Houston to head past Deeg's outstretched gloves from 8-metres. Taseski kept the game alive in the 64th minute with another superb save which denied Onoforo his hat-trick after running on to Antonio Naglieri's clipped pass over the defence. A dipping Michael Baczynski free-kick was hastily paddled over the crossbar by Gareth Deeg, who soon after was forced into a low save to James Sammut as Inglewood sought desperately to equalise. But as the final whistle approached Perth revealed they had more left in the tank as David Price's swerving shot was pushed wide by Taseski, Onoforo 15-metres drive just cleared the bar and Jukic skidded the ball narrowly past the post.
Floreat Athena struck three times in thirty minutes to destroy Sorrento 3-0 at Litis Stadium. Goals from Adam Bachillor, Paul Vatistas and Brad Scott highlighted a superb team performance that keeps Floreat on course for back-to-back championships. Sorrento hardly had time to settle when John Migas flew down the left to supply a superb cross which Daniel Neiderberger nodded down into the path of Bachillor who forced the ball in from a few metres. Steve McDonald wasted a great opportunity for Sorrento to draw level two minutes by scuffing wide from the penalty spot following Ante Kovacevic's foul on Stuart Montgomery. It was a miss that would haunt the Gulls on 21 minutes when Neil Young failed to claim a Bachillor corner and at the far post Vatistas, the smallest man on the pitch, powerfully headed into the net. The margin soon became three as Neiderberger's deft touch teed the ball up for Scott to drill a low shot into the bottom corner. Sorrento had few answers as Floreat dominated through some sharp movement and a strong work rate. Scott had the ball was in the net again on the half hour but this time the striker's effort was disallowed for offside. A few tactical chances at the break gave Sorrento hope of a second half revival as McDonald joined Montgomery and Todd Harnwell in the final third. Glen Thomas' effort was parried by Vas Vujacic and McDonald sent the follow-up straight back to the ‘keeper, then two minutes later Shaun Kilkelly crashed a shot into the upright. Floreat continued to press for further goals and Bachillor would have had added to the scoreline had it not been for a fine save by Young. The dismissal of Michael Ord on 73 minutes for two quick yellow cards effectively killed off any slim hopes the visitors had of salvaging something from the game. Salt was rubbed into the wound in stoppage time when James Morgan was issued his marching orders, also for a second bookable offence.
Armadale came from behind to hold top four contenders Mandurah City 2-2 in a thrilling game at Hyundai Stadium. Phil O’Callaghan had twice put the hosts in front only for Kodi Madeley then James Robinson to restore parity. The opening exchanges were one-way with Armadale asserting authority over their more fancied opponent. Mandurah were fortunate to have Mike Green remain on the park after Nao Oishi pressured the goalkeeper into handling outside his area. The first real shot arrived after 25 minutes and at the other end where Andy Brown's thunderbolt smacked into the crossbar. Gary Faria wasted a golden opportunity to put Armadale ahead on the half hour by blasting high from the penalty spot after James Hesketh’s shirt pull on Shannon Dally. Armadale worked tirelessly to break through and just before the break Robinson's hooked shot fizzled just high. Mandurah went ahead four minutes after the re-start courtesy of Jay Bonsor’s slick pass that sent clear O’Callaghan who kept his composure in slotting past an advancing Cyril Sharrock. A stinging shot from 18-metres by Daryl Platten which was tipped around the post by Green made it clear Armadale wanted a quick response. And that’s exactly what they got as from the resulting corner Madeley was allowed space to angle his volley into the top corner with 53 minutes gone. Only another two minutes had been added to the clock when O’Callaghan restored the host’s lead by converting a penalty awarded for Andy Bowyer’s foul on Brown. Faria almost made amends for his earlier miss with a terrific free-kick that was palmed over the Green, then in the 71st minute Mandurah went down a man with the dismissal of Chris Currie for a foul on Robinson. The sides were brought level for a third time son after when Madeley chipped a pass through to Robinson who beat the offside trap and calmly placed wide of the ‘keeper. Both teams have their chances to grab a late winner but Jeff Bright headed high at close-range, whereas Green kept out another well-struck Faria free-kick.
A virtuoso performance by teenage sensation Ludovic Boi inspired Stirling Lions to a 4-1 thrashing of E.C.U. Joondalup at the Joondalup campus of Edith Cowan University. Boi put the visitors ahead right on half-time then after the turnaround set-up Keith Clevenger on a day when experienced pair Steve Porter and Jordan Rhodes also found the net. Phil Arnold wasted a gilt-edged chance by scuffing an early chance at goalkeeper Chris McCrone, and shortly after Chris Rutherford found himself within range of goal only for his shot to be deflected past the post. The home team hit their straps on 16 minutes when Martin Ashworth darted down the left and crossed to an unmarked Tommy Amphlett who rifled into the net from the edge of the 18-yard box. Stirling's response was to take the intensity up a notch with Steve Porter pulling the strings and Boi doing his best to unsettle the defence. The reward came after 37 minutes when Porter's free-kick from wide on the right deceived all to curl into the top corner. With the interval looming, Arnold launched a long throw-in which Chris Rutherford headed down to Boi whose shot on the turn rocketed into the roof of the net from 3-metres. Stirling continued on after the break with Boi playing a perfect through ball for Clevenger who threaded goal number three between the legs of McCrone. Amphlett made it clear there was still plenty of time for the hosts to get themselves back in the game by forcing a superb save out of Phil Straker. The result was put beyond doubt with twenty minutes to go when substitute Ricky Filicamo delivered a beautiful pass which Rhodes calmly lobbed over the advancing 'keeper from 20-metres. Ian McMurray tried valiantly to lift his team with a couple of late attempts on goal after good lead up work featuring Amphlett and Scott Bushby, but both efforts were held by Straker.
Damien Scali scored twice as Swan I.C. defeated relegation-bound Fremantle Spirit 3-1 at the Swan Italian Club. The port side had taken the lead through teenager Callum Roberts but that was whittled away by Dejan Djukanovic before Scali took his season tally to 16 goals with a couple of second half finishes. Chris Marshall headed wide from a Justin Hugo free-kick to as Swan carved out the afternoon's first opening. However, Fremantle soon established control with Jason Barerra's shot from 16-metres stretching Cory Hugo, and David Rodgers' crisp volley was brilliantly saved by the Swan custodian. Fremantle's relentless pressure paid dividends in the 13th minute when Rodgers was allowed time and space to go past three opponents before firing beyond the reach of Cory Hugo from 10-metres. This spurred Swan into action and five minutes after going behind Scali flicked the ball through to Djukanovic who nicked in front of 'keeper Steve Grant to nod in the equaliser. The momentum was now with the home team as Trent Wood's half-volley landed on the top netting, Justin Hugo crashed a low shot into the near post and at the follow-up Michael Tronchin hit the opposite post. Ben Kelly fired just wide as Fremantle regained the upper hand leading into the break, which was moments away when Cole cleared in a goalmouth scramble following Adrian McBride's corner. The port side suffered a blow when Cisco Jorquiera was shown a straight red card by referee Josh Mihevc after clashing with Tronchin early in the second half. But going down to ten men didn't bother the visitors and soon after Rodgers headed narrowly wide from Llewelyn Bake's delivery. Roberts rounded the 'keeper but blazed high from a tight angle, then on 71 minutes Barerra provided the cross that Rodgers somehow put high at point blank range. There was no such wastage two minutes later as Scali headed in Wood's inch-perfect cross to hand Swan the lead. The points were made safe seven minutes later when Alex Cocking seized upon the loose ball and fed Scali to put away his second of the afternoon.
Western Knights backed up their mid-week Cup semi-final win with a strong 2-1 defeat of Cockburn City 2-1 at Nash Field. It was a solid all-round performance by the Knights who relied on disciplined defending and swift attacking play to earn the points. Daniel Micevski fired just high of the crossbar and Anthony Skorich forced a good reflex save from Nick Feely as the Knights started at full pace. The pay off came on 26 minutes when Paul Underwood took David Annall down inside the area, leading referee Jeremy Oliphant to point straight to the spot from where Anthony Fearon fired the Knights ahead. It was only now that Cockburn kicked into action and slowly they began to take control. A deserved equaliser arrived six minutes from half-time when Aaron Dos Santos whipped in a cross from the left for an unmarked Pedro Calazans to head well beyond Kevin Miller's grasp. Cockburn carried on after the break as they'd left off but still struggled to create clear-cut chances. There was a degree of luck involved when the Knights regained the lead in the 60th minute, Skorich's pass deflecting off an opponent to and into the path of Micevski who came out trumps in a one-on-one with Feely. The remainder of the half was an arm wrestle for control between two teams focused on taking three much needed points. The Knights constantly pushed forward in search of a third goal that would have killed off the game, whereas Cockburn desperately fought to revive their flagging fortunes. The visitors should have drawn level in stoppage time but Mario De Felice somehow screwed his shot the wrong side of the post despite being afforded time and space by the home defence.
FIRST DIVISION, ROUND EIGHTEEN (Canning City v Queens Park by Phil Unsworth; Balcatta v South West Phoenix courtesy South West Phoenix; Bayswater City v Dianella White Eagles courtesy Dianella White Eagles; Rockingham City v Gosnells City courtesy Gosnells City)
The massive gulf that exists between top and bottom was exposed as Canning City dominated Queens Park 6-2 in the local derby at Willetton Sports Club. It took only 6 minutes for the hosts to assert control with Duncan Hind powerfully heading in a Michael Klaver corner. Although played remained very much one-way, it took until six minutes from the break for Canning to add their second through Daniel Trevisiol who converted from close-in after Paul Harvey’s header came back off the upright. Three minutes later Canning added another through a sweeping move in which Harvey’s angled pass sliced open the defence and Trevisiol drove a low shot past advancing goalkeeper Robbie Easton. A well-weighted pass by Rory Mouttet allowed Harvey to fire in from 15-metres midway through the second period. Queens Park’s first opening came soon after but Troy Woodfin headed high of the crossbar. Trevisiol completed his hat-trick by outjumping the defence to head in Paul Oliver’s free-kick from a deep position. The sixth and final goal arrived on 75 minutes when Harvey whipped the loose ball into the net after Easton failed to hold a viciously struck shot from Oliver. A rash of substitutions caused Canning to lose the momentum and allowed Dan Evans and Lucas Whitehouse to bag a coupe of late consolations for the visiting team.
South West Phoenix came away from Balcatta with a 3-0 win to keep their slim title hopes alive. Balcatta will be disappointed to not have taken something from the game after competed well for the duration. It was an evenly contested match early on as Patrick Quinn and Rory Binnie competed with Igor Novakovic and Christian De Barro in an intriguing battle of the midfields. Balcatta may have one of the tightest defences in the league but midway through the half goalkeeper Kenny Ftynohiannis hauled down Jonathon Krawec for a penalty to the away team which Steve Suttie fired into the net. Ryan Montgomery wasn’t seriously troubled down the other end where the hosts lacked the type of finishing that would have produced the goal they desperately sought. Balcatta made a strong start to the second half with Novakovic fluffing a one-on-one with Montgomery just under the hour. Minutes later Phoenix doubled their lead after mis-communication between Tom Gaca and his ‘keeper was seized upon by Suttie drilled in his first time shot from 15-metres. Gary Mayers put the icing on the cake by getting between two defenders to force the ball over the line from close-range with eight minutes remaining.
It was a point apiece at Frank Drago Reserve where the final score was 2-2 between Bayswater City and Dianella White Eagles. Stephen Bettella opened the scoring after 9 minutes with a pile driver from the top of the 18-yard box after being set-up by Goran Radinovic. The teams were brought level ten minutes later when Ahmed Hafez delivered a cross from the left which Damien Todorovic controlled before blasting into the net under pressure from Riste Stefoski. Dianella thought they’d regained the lead close to the break through a Bettella header, but referee David Costello ruled out his effort for an infringement on goalkeeper Frankie Ternell. Ryan Frisina put the home team ahead just minutes into the second half by firing in a free-kick awarded for Laze Taneski’s foul on Todorovic just outside the area. Dianella’s response was swift as sixty seconds later Stefoski’s superb pass sent Jon Greenwood through to coolly flicking the ball past the advancing ‘keeper and into an empty net. Todorovic hit the post and Ternell saved from Dragan Njegic as the sides traded attacks. Matthew Battigelli was stretched by Frisina in the 72nd minute, and soon after Bettella’s vicious shot was parried by Ternell to Dimce Taneski who wasted the follow-up. Greenwood could have secured a late winner when sent through one-on-one with the ‘keeper but angled his shot past the post.
Rockingham City picked up a valuable point in their quest to avoid relegation by holding Gosnells City to a scoreless draw under lights at Lark Hill Sports Complex. There wasn’t a great deal to get excited about early on as the two sides prodded forward with caution. Jade Thorpe was called into action when Adrian Mulholland’s miscued cross from the left drifted perilously close to the goal. Soon after, Darren Francis skipped down the right but his cross intended for Jimmy Capewell was comfortably dealt with by the home defence. The only other real chance of note resulted from some terrific work by Ken Scott-Lembruggenn who made his way past a couple of defenders only to send his long-range straight to goalkeeper Craig Olejnik. The second half followed the same pattern before the game finally sparked into life with around twenty minutes to go. With Salvi Chavez and substitute Alan Claxton leading the charge, Gosnells carved out several positive attacking moves but each time failed to really test the ‘keeper. Knowing a win could save them from the drop, Rockingham forced the pace with a crisp display of passing that resulted in a trio of chances on goal which saw Jon McCreery twice and Andrew Keary once sent the ball wide of the target.
Ashfield moved one point clear of last place by drawing 1-1 with Wanneroo City at Ashfield Reserve. Ian Charming put Ashfield ahead on 59 minutes but that lead lasted just three minutes before substitute Josh Booysen levelled the equation. Forrestfield United and Morley Windmills played out a 1-1 draw at Hartfield Park. Forrestfield went into the break in front thanks to Andy Harold only to have Julio Barrendilla level four minutes after the re-start. Further details of these three games were not forthcoming from any of the six participating clubs.
GLORY ROBBED BY JETS LATE EQUALISER (by Peter Simcox)
Newcastle Jets showed their championship credentials by snatching a late 3-3 draw with Perth Glory in this evening’s A-League encounter at Members Equity Stadium. Five minutes of stoppage time had been played when Jets captain Jade North broke the hearts of an enthusiastic home crowd. Jets striker Edmundo Zura sent the first opening into the side netting, play soon switched to the other end where Adrian Trinidad’s volley was saved by goalkeeper Ante Covic. Craig Zetter gifted the visitors a penalty after 20 minutes when Dino Djulbic brought down Joel Griffiths outside the 18-yard box, and the referee’s error was compounded as the Jets marksman sent Frank Juric the wrong way to give the Jets the lead. Trinidad restored parity sixteen minutes later by converting a penalty awarded after the striker was fouled by Adam Griffiths. With half time in sight, Eugene Dadi forced a terrific reflex save from Covic after meeting an Adrian Pelligrino corner.
Poor defending three minutes into the second half put the Jets back in front as Song’s strike from 15-metres deflected off Jamie Coyne to wrong-foot Juric. Glory hit back with a terrific move on 57 minutes that began with Scott Bulloch and Trinidad who threaded the ball down the right for Amaral to deliver a superb cross which Dadi powered into the net with his head. The game was now up for grabs with the two sides trading attacks. Juric’s quick thinking denied Joel Griffiths, then moments later Trinidad flashed a shot flashed wide. Nikita Rukavytsya had been on the park only minutes when he latched on to Pellegrino’s long pass and held his calmly slotted past Covic to put Glory in the box seat. The Jets weren’t quite yet finished as Ahmed Elrich’s shot on the run flashed narrowly the wrong side of the post. The home crowd was whistling for full-time when Elrich’s long ball made its way to North who outpaced Coyne before finishing low past Juric with the final kick of the game.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
Games really do not come much bigger than the blockbuster at Litis Stadium between reigning champion Floreat Athena and title favourite Sorrento at Litis Stadium. John Migas and Ante Kovacevic need to be in peak form as the competition’s meanest defence comes up against its highest scoring forward line. Dean Apelgren plays the anchoring role in Floreat’s midfield with the impetus to attack coming from Branimir Mikulic and Adam Bachillor. The midfield supply of Scott Neville and Lewis Flatt has been complemented perfectly by Todd Harnwell’s expert finishing at Sorrento this year. Defensively, the Gulls boast a wealth of experience with Shaun Kilkelly and goalkeeper Neil Young the stand-outs.
Mandurah City are in with a fighting chance of qualifying for the top four play-offs which is why they must take the points when Armadale visit Hyundai Stadium. A lot has changed since the sides last met and the Dolphins would be wise not to expect a repeat of their Round Seven 9-1 thrashing of the Reds. The non-stop work ethic of Andy Brown, Jeff Bright and Phil O’Callaghan has more than made up for a defence that is not without its problems. The extra options afforded by James Robsinon and Gary Faira along with a stable defence anchored by Matt Bennion have been at the heart of Armadale’s recent move clear of the drop zone.
There’s not a great deal riding on the outcome of the three remaining Saturday games. A dreadful couple of months has cost Cockburn City a shot at the title and this weekend they face Western Knights at Nash Field. Another to have fallen by the wayside is E.C.U. Joondalup who welcome to the far north a spirited Stirling Lions side looking to ‘do the double’ over their hosts. Fremantle Spirit are in a confident mood after collecting points from their three most recent outings and head to Swan I.C. focused on registering a League victory for the first time in 2008.
If you’re at a loose end on Sunday then head on down to Dorrien Gardens for the second verses fourth showdown between Perth S.C. and Inglewood United. Perth are yet to be bettered on home soil this year but suffered a 4-2 loss to Inglewood when the sides met earlier in the year. David Onoforo will make sure his presence is felt in the final third, the return of David Price gives the hosts an extra option coming out of midfield as captain Michael Icanovski marshals the backline. The big game experience of Shane Pryce will be vital to Inglewood’s chances along with the ceaseless work rate of Michael Baczynski and Mladen Kovacevic.
As Canning City run away with the First Division title, focus is slowly turning to the opposite end of the table and the three-way battle to avoid relegation. Back-to-back wins have breathed new life into Rockingham City’s hopes of avoiding the drop and they have every right to feel confident heading into their home fixture with Gosnells City. Queens Park have a difficult game away at Canning, while Ashfield’s chances are equally slim at home to Wanneroo City. Elsewhere, South West Phoenix take on Balcatta at Graham Burkett Reserve, Bayswater City has home ground advantage against Dianella White Eagles, and Hartfield Park is the venue for Forrestfield United verses Morley Windmills.
ANNALL IS YOUR TOP DEFENDER
The local football community considers Western Knights’ David Annall the best defender in the top flight. Last week’s footballwa.net poll asked 'Who do you rate the best defender in the Premier League?' with Annall emerging trumps. Annall, who missed the first half of the season through injury, registered 21% of the count to edge out Floreat Athena stopper Jon Migas (18%). Inglewood United veteran Shane Pryce (15%) occupied third spot by tallying up just a few more votes than Perth S.C. captain Michael Icanovski (13%). There wasn't a great deal between Shaun Kilkelly (Sorrento, 10%), one-time Australian youth international Liam Lilly (Cockburn City, 9%) and Aaron Cole (Swan I.C., 8%) with the field rounded out by Stirling Lions teenager Dean Evans (6%). 297 votes were cast during the nine-day polling period.
JONES EARNS HIS SPURS
Middlesbrough's Brad Jones is hoping to build on his weekend performance against Tottenham Hotspur and cement his spot as club custodian. Jones has been at the Riverside Stadium since he was 18, and eight years later feels the time has come to prove his worth. "I've been here a long time, fighting with Mark Schwarzer to earn the right to play and him leaving meant it was down to me and Ross (Turnbull)," he said. "The coaches have said that we've both done well and they're happy with both us, so obviously it was going to be difficult for whoever wasn't going to play. I'm glad I played and hopefully I can have a run now."
The summer speculation surrounding the goalkeeping situation did not go unnoticed with Jones, but he feels with good performances he can show the fans that he's the answer to the dilemma. "Hopefully, if I get a run, I can prove to the fans that I'm deserving of a place," he said. "I know it's obviously difficult for them to see someone who hasn't played come into the side. The only way I can show them is being out there and playing. You always want your fans to have faith in you amd the only way they'll do that is by me performing well."
Jones made a crucial save to deny Jermaine Jenas moments before defender David Wheater opened the scoring against Tottenham. And while Mido made safe the points with four minutes to go, after which Tottenham scored a late consolation, Jones feels the Boro played a big part in the victory. “It’s always important to have the fans on side and have them behind you like they were on Saturday, the atmosphere was brilliant,” said Jones. “We defended well and Spurs didn’t throw that much at us. Every time they tried to break us down, we looked organised and comfortable.”
Middlesbrough journey to Merseyside this weekend where Jones will be hoping to avoid a repeat of his last visit to Liverpool and is focussed on a positive outcome. “A clean sheet at Anfield would be very nice. I played there a few years ago but managed to get one of the goals of season put past me,” he said, refereing Stephen Gerrard’s spectacular thunderbolt from 30-metres that earned Liverpool a 1-1 draw in April 2005. “We need to go out, do the same things as Saturday and have a good performance.”
GRIFFITHS NETS IN YEOVIL TRIAL
Rostyn Griffiths could be poised to swap Blackburn Rovers for Yeovil Town after finding the net in the mid-week win over Salisbury City. Yeovil romped home 6-0 in the Pontins Holiday Combination League fixture against Salisbury with Griffiths setting up the hosts fourth before lashing in their fifth ten minutes into the second half. The 20-year old midfielder, elder brother of Perth Glory recruit Brent Griffiths, recently signed a one-year contract with Blackburn but would welcome a loan move in order to gain valuable first team experience. Griffiths has been a regular for Blackburn's reserves over the past couple of years and towards the end of last season made a dozen senior appearances while on loan to Scottish club Gretna.
COYNE EYEING FIRST TEAM PLACE
Chris Coyne has set his sights on winning his back his place in Colchester United’s starting line-up. The club captain as been named as a substitute for Colchester’s last two outings and will do everything in his power to force his way back into the first eleven. “The lads have done well over the last couple of games but I’m no good to anyone sitting on my backside,” said Coyne, who turned out in Australia’s mid-week friendly with South Africa. “I want to be playing and I’ll be making sure that I’ll be pushing hard to try and get my first-team place back. The national team is a bonus for me - but I know that club football is my bread and butter.”
TARKA DOWNED BY INJURY
Perth Glory will go into Friday’s home game with Newcastle Jets minus David Tarka, who’s joined Hayden Foxe on the club’s injured list. Tarka suffered a quadricep strain during Saturday’s loss at Adelaide United, leading David Mitchell to take no chances with injury prone 25-year old. “It’s a soft tissue one (injury), so if you do try and play and mask it with anti-inflammatory injections, you can do more damage,” said the coach. “It’s just a precaution and we want to make sure he’s going to be fit for next week.” English import James Robinson will also miss the game after injuring stomach muscles prior to playing the Reds.
Despite the injuries, Mitchell remains confident of a committed Glory performance tomorrow, saying his side aren’t dwelling on the fact they were the only team to lose during the A-League’s opening round. “It’s just disappointing, that’s all,” said Mitchell. “The boys worked so hard … we had a couple of chances we probably could have capitalised on, but that’s the nature of football. But I think everyone could see the nature of the players; the effort and desire and commitment were there and that’s all I can ask of them, and a bit of guile and level headedness in certain cases, which I'm sure will come.”
When Richard Garcia stepped on the Loftus Road pitch on Tuesday evening he became just the 22nd West Australian to represent the nation at senior international level. The Hull City winger joined the exclusive club by replacing Mile Stejovski 62 minutes into Australia’s 2-2 draw with South Africa. Ron Adair became the first West Australian to play an ‘A’ international for Australia when he appeared in the 1954 loss to New Zealand in Adelaide.
Tommi Tomich has joined national league club Melbourne Victory on short-term loan agreement from South Melbourne. The one-time Perth Glory custodian returns to the A-League as emergency cover for regular number one Michael Theoklitos, who rolled his ankle in training during the week. Tomich will be on the bench when Victory meets Wellington Phoenix on Sunday.
Welsh Under-21 international Rhys Williams has been linked to a loan move to Burnley. Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate may be tempted to loan the 20-year old defender to provide him with some much-needed first team experience. Williams, who made the bench for Boro's weekend win against Tottenham Hotspur, is also understood to have attracted the interest of Tranmere Rovers and Yeovil Town.
Swan I.C. will use Daniel Agudelo sparingly over the closing weeks of the 2008 season. The 20-year old goalkeeper, who represented Australia at Schoolboys level last year, initially intended taking time away from the game citing mental and physical exhaustion. However, after talking things over the coaching staff Agudelo will stay on with Swan on ‘light duties’ for the remainder of the campaign.
Scottish import Paul Harvey will be hoping for a bagful of goals when he makes his final appearance for Canning City this weekend. The big striker has spearheaded Canning's charge towards the First Division championship, bagging twenty goals from sixteen appearances to emerge as one of the leading goal scorer favourites. Harvey returns to Scotland following Saturday's home fixture with Queens Park.
GULLS KEEP THE DREAM ALIVE (by Kerry Slater)
Sorrento remain on track to claim a historic League and Cup double after scrapping past amateur outfit Hamersley Rovers 1-0 in this evenings round of four meeting at Litis Stadium. Stuart Banks’ goal two minutes before half-time was all that separated the Gulls from Hamersley, who were far from overawed by the occasion. After a tight opening spell, Hamersley created the first chance when Ciaran Hughes beat the offside trap to go one-on-one with goalkeeper Neil Young whose sharp reflexes denied the striker. Sorrento fashioned an opening five minutes later with Steve McDonald volleying straight at Michael Lawton, then Stuart Montgomery also placed his shot too close to the ‘keeper. A poor pass down the other end was pounced on by Michael Hodgins but his rising shot was held by Young, and soon Ian Bunton and Danny Partington-Smith combined to tee up Martin Sherwin whose long-range effort flashed just over the crossbar. Half-time was looming when Montgomery’s shot was blocked by the defence, the loose ball was poorly dealt with and eventually made its way to Brodie Martin who laid it off for Banks to blast into the bottom corner from 22-metres. The Gulls were unfortunate not to increase their lead with Martin firing just wide after good lead-up work by Harnwell and McDonald.
Montgomery crashed the ball wide of the post as Sorrento made clear their plans two minutes after the re-start. However, Hamersley had the strength and stamina to go the distance and match their opponent. Hodgins’ attempted chip from an angle cleared the bar on 55 minutes, and that was soon followed by a goal bound strike from Hughes which Young gathered. Glen Thomas could have made the game safe six minutes after coming off the bench but fired high with only Lawton to beat after receiving Harnwell’s centring pass. The Hamersley custodian was at full stretch to prevent Montgomery’s low shot from creeping inside the upright as the pace began to take it’s toll on both teams. With twelve minutes remaining Sherwin delivered a terrific free-kick to which Burton rose highest but his header was past the top corner. The action continued with Thomas stretching Lawton with a well struck free-kick in the 81st minute. Young was required to tip away a Stuart Brett cross from the left that had drifted dangerously close to the net. Then Sherwin’s vicious show deflected off the head of Hughes and looped over the bar. Three minutes later Matthew Cheeseman’s final whistle brought rapturous applause from the crowd who had been treated to a pulsating game full of honest endeavour.
Hamersley Rovers – Michael Lawson, Joe Stocker (James Waller 78), Jesse Higgins, Stuart Brett, Ian Bunton, C.Rogers, Martin Sherwin, Michael Hodgins, Danny Partington-Smith (Liam Moorhouse), Ciaran Hughes, D.McDool
Sorrento – Neil Young, Danny Cain, Stuart Banks, Shaun Kilkelly, James Morgan, Brodie Martin, Todd Harnwell, Stuart Montgomery, Lewis Flatt (Glen Thomas 65), Steven McDonald, Sscott Neville (Michael Ord 67)
Cautions – Stocker (35), Neville (58)
Dismissals – None
Referee – Matthew Cheeseman
KNIGHTS CHARGE INTO CUP FINAL (by Peter Simcox)
Western Knights booked their place in the season finale by defeating E.C.U. Joondalup 2-0 in a fiercely contested Cup semi-final at Litis Stadium. Second half goals from Rory Grant and Luka Jukic kept alive coach Ronnie Campbell's hope of capturing the much sought trophy for the second time. Joondalup opened brightly with John Thornley thwarted by Kevin Miller after 5 minutes, and soon after Scott Bushby lifted the ball high from 9-metres. Anthony Jones reacted smartly after Joondalup custodian Chris McCrone spilled David Micevski's free-kick as the Knights began to find their rhtythm. Micevski was architect again when his low cross sent ripples of panic through the Joondalup defence before Darren Broxton asserted authority by clearing the danger. In typical Cup fashion, chances began increasingly rare leading into half-time with neither side wanting to go into the break a goal down. Anthony Jones again came to the rescue by clearing off the line a David Annall header. Joondalup's best opening came via captain Ian McMurray who fired wide from the top of the 18-yard box.
The second half had been underway just two minutes when Daniel Trim's quick throw-in caught out the defence, allowing Grant to make his way down the left before stroking a clinical shot past McCrone. Grant wanted to settle the game quickly and in the 49th minute was foiled by McCrone, then six minutes later steered the ball wide of the post from an acute angle. Tommy Amphlett was denied an equaliser on the hour by Miller who was at full-stretch in saving the teenagers 16-metre volley. The game opened up after this with McCrone called upon to keep out Micevski's long-range effort, while Amphlett's shot on the run was well saved by Miller. As the clock ticked down, the northern suburbs side stepped things up a gear but still could find no way past Miller who denied Amphlett after he'd played a tidy one-two with Craig Young. Against the flow of play, Jukic secured a Knights victory by swinging into the net a 74th minute free-kick awarded for Broxton's foul on Skorich. With their Cup hopes in tatters, Joondalup threw caution to the wind but could find no way past a stubborn defence under the command of Annall and Stuart Ferguson.
Western Knights – Kevin Miller, Marco Warmt-Murray, Jon Mathers, Luka Jukic, David Annall, Stuart Ferguson, George Tchami (Matt Allen 84), David Micevski, Rory Grant (Josip Peran 60), Anthony Skorich, Daniel Trim
E.C.U. Joondalup – Chris McCrone, Anthony Jones, Darren Broxton, Scott Blackmore, Martin Ashworth, Tommy Amphlett, Scott Bushby, Craig Young, John Higgins (John Walmsley 7, Tommy Jones 75), Ian McMurray, John Thornley
Bookings – Grant (42), Mathers (46), Young (71)
Dismissals – None
Referee – Paul Anderson
MITCHELL WANTS TO CAPTURE MISSING FANS
David Mitchell is confident Perth Glory can tempt the missing fans back to Members Equity Stadium. Last season saw Glory’s average home gate dip to just 7,606 - a far cry from the average 14,972 which streamed through the gates during the 1997/98 National Soccer League campaign. Mitchell believes strongly that his new-look squad can help increase that figure and press for a top four spot. “I think we’ve assembled a squad this year that has more depth than before and I think I’ve brought in a couple of players who can perhaps unlock things in a tight game,” commented the coach. “We want to be strong at home and if we can put a run of results together then you would hope the fans will be there and wanting to be part of it.” Glory’s first home game of the new season is on Friday evening against Newcastle Jets.
HAMERSLEY HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE
Hamersley Rovers’ Cup fairytale continues tomorrow evening when they take on Sorrento in the semi-finals of the prestigious knock-out competition. A bumper crowd is expected at Litis Stadium as the powerhouse clubs of amateur and semi-professional football match skills in the opening game of a Cup semi-final double header. Hamersley will be confident of going through to the final after last weekend becoming only the second team to beat Fremantle United this season thanks to a Martin Sherwin goal. The Gulls have never won the Cup and victory tomorrow will keep alive their hopes of making a clean sweep of the end-of-season silverware.
Making the last four of the Cup has been an added bonus for Hamersley, who made an early exit from the amateur competition when dumped 4-0 by Subiaco United. “The players were disappointing to get knocked out of the amateur Cup in the first round and the opportunity to play against the semi-professional was fantastic,” explained coach Kevin Clifford. “We have played well to beat First Division side Bayswater City and Premier League outfit Fremantle Spirit so we’re going into the game full of confidence as we’ve got nothing to lose,” explained Clifford.
Sorrento boss Steve Neville admits he would have much rather avoided playing Hamersley. “We had their coach, Kevin Clifford, at the club a couple of years ago when we had a goalkeeper crisis and he trained with us for a while,” commented Neville. “He comes to all our games and his son plays for our Under-12’s, so when the draw was made it was a big talking point. But it’s going to be a minefield for us - we’ve got nothing to gain but everything to lose. I’ve made sure the boys are focused on the game, and that they to carry on with what’s taken them to the top of the table.”
SPARKS WILL FLY WHEN KNIGHTS MEET JOONDALUP
The Cup showdown between Western Knights and E.C.U. Joondalup has all the trademarks of being an absolute cracker. The knock-out competition provides the only chance either club has of easing the disappointment of a poor season and ending 2008 with a trophy. Things are beginning to fall into place for the Knights who scrapped through the first half of the League season minus several influential players that are now returning to the fray. At one point Joondalup were being touted as a championship contender, however, the wheels really have fallen off in the past few months in which they’ve been heavily hit by suspension, injury and players being unavailable for a variety of other reasons.
Ronnie Campbell was disappointed with the Knights’ performance against Swan I.C. on the weekend and knows a much stronger showing is needed if they want to play in the Cup final. “It’s an important game for our club and I hope we defend better than we did against Swan in the first half. We gave away three terrible goals, like we gave away five terrible goals against Sorrento the week before,” he said. “We played well in the second half and could have taken a point but the damage was already done. We had a lot of players missing on Saturday and they will defiantly come into consideration for the Cup tie.”
Joondalup also went down on Saturday, crashing to Armadale at home, with Chris Nicholson determined to see his side through to the season finale. “The boys were disappointed but playing with ten men for 87 minutes isn’t the best and it just wasn’t to be our day,” said the coach. “The semi-final is a big game for our season, we’ve had some bad luck in recent weeks but you make your own luck in this game,” said the coach. “We’ve played some good football in the Cup this season, including beating last season’s winner Stirling Lions and league champions Floreat Athena. We’re looking forward to the challenge and hope we can make it to the final.”
ALL SQUARE BETWEEN SOCCEROOS AND BAFANA BAFANA
The Socceroos have earned a 2-2 draw from an enthralling friendly with South Africa at Loftus Road Stadium, London, tonight. Speaking after the game, national team coach Pim Verbeek said he was pleased with the overall performance of his players. “When we had the ball I thought we played very well,” he said. “Defensively we gave some chances away. I was not so pleased with that but that’s normal - we had one day’s preparation. Overall I was very pleased with the performance. The boys looked fresh and sharp.” Chris Coyne played a full game, Richard Garcia made his senior Australian debut by on in the 62nd minute, while Michael Petkovic was an unused substitute.
Although Australia looked the classier outfit in the first half, South Africa opened the scoring after 21 minutes when Benny McCarthy’s back-heel caught Coyne and Scott Chipperfield flat-footed allowing Siyabonga Nkosi to run on and finish smartly past Mark Schwarzer. The goal spurred the Socceroos into life and they were level within four minutes when Vince Grella chipped a pass over the defence for Mile Sterjovski to loop a header over advancing goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune. Seven minutes out from the break Australia took the lead when Marco Bresciano’s well flighted free-kick landed on the head of Josh Kennedy who made no mistake finding the net.
The second half began at the same frenetic pace as the first with both teams trading attacks. The last-gasp intervention of Mark Milligan denied Bryce Moon a shooting opportunity after he’d worked his way into position, and down the other end David Carney blazed narrowly over the crossbar. South African had the momentum when Teko Modise hit a stinging shot from inside the penalty area which flew past Schwarzer at his near post to level the game after the hour. Australia’s best chance to grab a winner came twelve minutes from the end but Bruce Djite couldn’t get a clean shot from 8-metres before the danger was cleared.
CUP SEMIS ON THE RADIO
The Soccer Pools Cup semi-finals will be broadcast live-to-air on Wednesday evening by 990am Information Radio. Coverage commences at 6.00pm with the 'David and Goliath' tussle between amateur outfit Hammersley Rovers and Premier League leader Sorrento. A revitalised Western Knights takes on Chris Nicholson's E.C.U. Joondalup in the 8.30pm fixture. Ashley Morrison heads up the 990am commentary team that includes former Socceroo goalkeeper Robbie Zabica, Floreat Athena coach Michael Roki and a guest appearance by State team coach Robbie Dunn.
GARCIA IN THE FRAME FOR INTERNATIONAL DEBUT
Hull City winger Richard Garcia has been added to the Australian squad to play South Africa in London on Tuesday. National coach Pim Verbeek called up the livewire 26-year old who'll earn his first international cap for Australia should he play a part in the friendly. A Socceroo call-up is a deserved reward for Garcia who last season featured prominently in the Tigers promotion winning side. On the weekend he wrote himself into Hull history by making the starting line-up of first ever Premier League outing, a 2-1 win against Fulham.
The Australian squad to play South Afria is Brett Holman (AZ Alkaamar), Scott Chipperfield (FC Basel), Scott McDonald (Celtic), Chris Coyne (Colchester United), Nick Carle (Crystal Palace), Mile Sterjovski (Derby County), Mark Schwarzer (Fulham), Carl Valeri (Grosseto), Richard Garcia (Hull City), Josh Kennedy (Karlsruhe), Jason Culina (PSV Eindhoven), Matthew Spiranovic (FC Nurnberg), Mark Bresciano (Palermo), David Carney (Sheffield United), Michael Petkovic (Sivasspor), Vincenzo Grella (Torino), Luke Wilkshire (FC Twente), Lucas Neill (West Ham United) and uncontracted Mark Milligan.
DODD EARNS ADELAIDE POINTS AGAINST GLORY
A new-look Perth Glory has gone down 1-0 to Adelaide United in the new season opener at Hindmarsh Stadium. Travis Dodd’s wonder strike sent Adelaide to the top of the A-League table in his first official outing as captain. With no fewer than six players handed their A-League debuts by Glory coach David Mitchell, it surprised no one that Adelaide seized the early initiative with Dodd and Jason Spagnuolo both going close to grabbing the game’s opening goal. Glory weathered that early storm and gradually brought themselves back into the contest before Amaral and Eugene Dadi fashioned an opening for Scott Bulloch who fired wide of Eugene Galekovic’s goal. However, Adelaide went into the break with the advantage after Dodd combined cleverly in midfield with Cristiano before racing goalward and beating Juric at his near-post with a well-struck low shot.
The injection of Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Nikita Rukavytsya for the start of the second half provided the visiting team an immediate increase in pace and urgency. That said, Adelaide did force a couple of regulation saves from Frank Juric before Glory shut down the supply coming out of midfield to dominate both possession and territory. Adelaide countered by clogging the midfield, making Glory play a long ball game that favoured a strong home defence. Bulloch did well to create space for himself with twenty minutes left but placed his shot too close to the ‘keeper. Attacking forays became increasingly desperate as full-time approached and with ten minutes to go Bulloch delivered the ball in from the right to Rukavytsya who was closed down by a cluster of defenders as he prepared to shoot.
INJURY SOURS HETT’S WIN
The triumph of Footballer Superstar winner Adam Hett has turned to despair after tearing knee ligaments during a training game at Sydney F.C. Hett, 20, is facing up to twelve months on the sidelines just days after being touted by Sydney coach John Kosmina as an outside chance to feature in the season opener against Melbourne Victory. Hett had made a big impression at Sydney since claiming the reality television series last month and was expected to be an integral member of his club's National Youth League side.
DOYLE AIMS TO REPAY COACHES FAITH
Teenage defender Hayden Doyle is determined to make the most of his debut season in the A-League and prove Dave Mitchell was right to sign him. Displaying maturity well beyond his 19 years, Doyle captained the Stoke City youth team and last season played first team football with Greek club Niki Volou. Having returned to Australia, Doyle is grateful to Glory and coach Mitchell for giving him the chance to play at A-League level. "Coaches have to put their neck on the line signing young players and you've got to, as a player, prove them right and make the club see he made the right decision," Doyle said. "By him signing me, that gives me confidence and obviously he's got that belief in me from then. (So) just to prove him right is always nice."
Doyle jumped at the opportunity of a month long Glory trial from which the reward was a one-year contract. "The coaches test players," said Doyle, who grew up in Bunbury and supported Glory during its dominant National Soccer League years. "They look for those sort of things and obviously if you really want it, you'll hang around like I did. I was here for about a month (and) it wasn't like after two weeks I was ... saying 'tell me tell me', I had to listen to what they had to say and just do what they said. At the end of the day I wanted it and I knew what I wanted and if I kept staying here I had a chance and it worked out well."
But Doyle admits he would prefer not to go through the wait again any time soon. "I think that they're the sort of things that people don't realise what players go through," he said. "Everyone thinks it's sort of a glamorous life but I came over and I was staying with a boy and his girlfriend in a one-bedroom unit and this unit's like the size of the change room, a tiny room. And then I was supposed to be getting the nod this week and then it went another week and another week and psychologically it really gets you. (But) the way it's worked out has been fantastic."
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND SEVENTEEN (Sorrento v Cockburn City courtesy Football West; Perth S.C. v Stirling Lions by Don Evans; Inglewood United v Floreat Athena courtesy Football West; Fremantle Spirit v Mandurah City by Kirk O’Connor; Swan I.C. v Western Knights by Peter Simcox; Armadale v E.C.U. Joondalup by Mark Rafferty)
Sorrento strengthened their claim to top honours by trouncing Cockburn City 4-0 at Percy Doyle Reserve. Todd Harnwell scored twice to take his season tally to nineteen goals on a day when young midfielders Brodie Martin and Scott Neville also found the net. The intentions of Sorrento were made clear early as Lewis Flatt drove just wide from distance, and a neat counterattacking move involving Flatt, Stuart Montgomery and Stuart Banks ended with the latter's cross pass across an open goalmouth. Josh Kamasz was left to ponder what might have been after failing by the narrowest of margin to connect with Giovanni De Bartolo's centre. Sorrento grabbed the lead after 14 minutes when Neville's free-kick was cleared to the top of the 18-yard box where Montgomery crashed a sensational volley into Dejan Aleksic's top corner. Harnwell was brought down on the edge of the area soon after, and Neville swung the resulting free-kick into the net with Aleksic rooted to his line. Cockburn's best chance came via a Johnny Mirco corner which Neil Young couldn't quite reach and Marco Aleksic was unlucky to see his hooked effort headed off the line by Shaun Kilkelly. Flatt's long-range volley whistled just wide and a James Morgan pile-driver had Aleksic at full-stretch as the Gulls continued to dominate. Their third arrived soon after as Neville capitalised on some hesitant defending to cross to the far post where unmarked Martin made no mistake by blasting into the roof of the net. Harnwell should have done better than shoot straight at the 'keeper early in the second half. Any lingering doubts as to the destination of the points were dispelled after 65 minutes when Harnwell coolly converted from the spot after being brought down by Paul Natale. A stinging first time strike by Flatt was tipped round the upright by Aleksic, and at the resulting corner Harnwell's powerful downward header was cleared off the line. It wasn't until late in the game that Young was finally put to the test in parrying a shot from Johnny Mirco, whose follow-up cleared the bar.
Perth S.C. moved up into second place, three points behind of Sorrento, after cruising past Stirling Lions 3-1 at Macedonia Park. With the score level at one-each after 45 minutes, the red carding of Alan Muir early in the second period turned the tide in Perth's favour as Antonio Naglieri twice found the net to add to David Onoforo's first half finish. The match kicked off in warm sunny conditions and Perth out of the blocks fast. A pinpoint cross from Greg Sharland was headed narrowly wide by Trent Kay on the quarter hour, while appeals for a penalty were ruled out by referee Jeremy Oliphant after Chris Harlond appeared to control the ball with his hand. Stirling weren't without their chances and only a goal line clearance kept out an in-swinging Steve Porter corner. Terrific link-up play between Andrija Jukic and Naglieri earned the visitors a 28th minute corner which Todd Howarth sent in for Onoforo to force into the net with his thigh. Ludovic Boi restored the balance after 42 minutes with a blistering shot which found the back of the net via Kay's leg. Stirling could well have gone into the break with the lead but Marc Anthony's half volley clipped the top of the crossbar. The turning point arrived two minutes into the second half when Muir was issued his second yellow card following a rash challenge on Naglieri. Perth capitalised on the hour through an audacious 35-metre lob by Naglieri which bounced into the net with goalkeeper Phil Straker well off his line. Steven Campbell's long-range shot flashed just wide as Perth sought another, then Jordan Rhodes' fired just past the post with the hosts searching to draw level. But the game was put beyond Stirling in the 68th minute as Sharland whipped in a cross that eluded the defence but not Naglieri who headed in at close-range. Phil Arnold's jinxing run saw him deliver a sharp cross to Michael Pugliese but the defenders goalbound shot went wide after hitting Kay. The final chance came via a Campbell cross to Onoforo whose header hit the post before being cleared to safety.
The title hopes of Inglewood United and Floreat Athena suffered a setback as the clubs battled out a tight yet entertaining 1-1 draw at Clipsal Stadium. Mladen Kovacevic put Inglewood ahead with a contender for goal of the season only for Branimir Mikulic to equalise moments out from half-time. Some fine work by Jason Colli on the bye-line presented Mladen Kovacevic with the first opening which goalkeeper Vas Vujacic kept out with his legs after 7 minutes. Colli was provider again soon after for David Houston who should have done better than head high when found unmarked on top of the 6-yard box. Floreat didn't threaten until midway through the half when Mikulic headed high from an Ante Kovacevic free-kick, which was followed shortly after by Brad Scott's effort which forced a great block from Oliver Taseski. The breakthrough came after 30 minutes when Houston crossed from deep on the right for Kovacevic to expertly tame the ball with is thigh before turning to unleash a scorching volley into the top corner. Vas Vujacic underlined his importance to Floreat ten minutes later by blocked Mladen Kovacevic's crisp shot after the visitors failed to clear their lines at a Colli cross. Parity was restored soon after as Mikulic pounced on a Daniel Niederberger knock down to rifle in from 10-metres. Floreat upped the tempo for the second half which opened with Niederberger being denied by Taseski. Scott's looping header dropped just wide of the post, and Rafael Insurraulde had a shot deflected wide after he waltzed past three opponents. From a rare second half foray, Inglewood won a corner which fell to James Duncan whose goal bound strike was brilliantly tipped onto the bar by Vas Vujacic. Floreat's quest for a late winner had Taseski move sharply to keep out Scott's low effort, and in stoppage time substitute Miki Vujacic fired beyond the back post before referee Hugh Best brought proceedings to a halt.
Fremantle Spirit threw away a three-goal lead to draw 4-4 with Mandurah City at Wauhop Park. Phil O’Callaghan’s second half hat-trick lead the fight back which denied Fremantle their first regular season win of 2008. David Rodgers got the show on the road by heading a Simon Elton-Bott free-kick from wide on the left clear of goalkeeper Mike Green with just 12 minutes on the clock. The small home crowd were given further reason to celebrate eight minutes later when an Elton-Bott long ball caught the visiting side by surprise as Ben Kelly nipped in to place wide of Green and inside the bottom corner. Amazingly, the margin became three goals after Llewelyn Bake’s lofted pass into the 18-yard box wasn’t properly deal with by Mandurah who paid dearly as Rodgers crashed his shot past Green with 27 minutes gone. The visitors had a strong penalty appeal dismissed leading into the break when Gary Attrill’s flick appeared to strike the arm of an opponent. Elton-Bott’s dismissed for dissent in the 50th minute wasn’t a good sign for Fremantle, nor was the resulting free-kick taken by Jeff Bright and headed in by Christian Paschkewitz. However, Fremantle quickly regained their composure and minutes later Kelly pressured Chris Currie into heading a Callum Roberts cross into his own net to return the gap to three goals. Mandurah’s frustration mounted as Andy Brown was felled inside the area by Peter Vukmirovic but no penalty given, then Jay Bonser headed into the net only for referee Tom Klaver to chalk off the effort for an earlier infringement. A soft foul by Mark Draper on Bright lead Klaver to awarding the visitors a dubious penalty that O’Callaghan stroked in to reduce the deficit. With eight minutes remaining O’Callaghan latched on to Bright’s long diagonal ball by steering his first time shot wide of the advancing ‘keeper to set up a tense finish. Fremantle hearts were broken in the 90th minute as a superb exchange of passes between Bright, Chris Wylie and O’Callaghan lead to a crisp finish from the latter to which Grant had no response.
Swan I.C. survived a second half barrage to pick up a 3-2 win against Western Knights at the Swan Italian Club. Chris Marshall, Damian Scali and Dejan Djukanovic gave Swan a three-goal half-time buffer before Daniel Trim and Rory Grant found the net late in a thrilling contest. Kevin Miller was in the action early when tested by Dom Ando's explosive free-kick from 16-metres, and minutes later watched as Brendan Knox rifled high. Swan's positive approach paid off in the 17th minute when debutant Marshall drilled into the net from close-range after David Micevski had blocked Scali's header after he met an in-swinging corner by Knox. The Knights first opening came six minutes later with Michael De Souza's scorching 18-metre drive well saved by Cory Hugo. But it was the hosts that were making all the running and on 28 minutes Djukanovic had a shot blocked on the line and from close-in Scali made no mistake at the follow-up. As the half closed the Knights began to pick up the pace with Grant shooting wide from 15-metres and Josip Peran nodding past the post from De Souza's delivery. So it was somewhat against the run of play that Djukanovic whipped in goal number three for Swan following a marauding run down the right by Justin Hugo. The Knights gave a much stronger account of themselves in the second half that was less than a minute old when a penalty appeal for handball against Justin Hugo was dismissed by referee John Taran. In the 65th minute Micevski's sweetly struck shot from 23-metres crashed off the bar as the Knights asserted their dominance. They had to wait only another thirteen minutes before another Micevski free-kick took a deflection off Trim and flashed into the net despite Cory Hugo getting his hand to the ball. With Trim and Micevski pulling the strings from midfield, the visitors deservedly grabbed their second on 84 minutes when Grant headed in to set up an intriguing finish. But it was too little too late for the Knights as Swan locked down the remaining minutes to ensure they collected all points on offer.
Armadale secured their top-flight status by upsetting E.C.U. Joondalup 4-2 at Alfred Skeet Oval. The day began badly for the visitors who had Bobson Koroma red carded after 3 minutes for pulling down Nao Oishi, but replacement goalkeeper Chris McCrone became an instant hero by saving James Robinson's low penalty kick. Armadale continued to press with Ryan Pearson unleashing a couple of long-range shots which rose over the crossbar. Against the run of play, Joondalup took the lead through captain Ian McMurray who converted from the spot after being fouled by Daryl Platten in the 18th minute. John Thornley, Tommy Amphlett and McMurray kept up the pressure as the visitors went searching for another for their tally. However, Armadale drew level after 38 minutes when Pearson found Robinson whose well struck shot deflected off Craig Simpson to wrong-foot McCrone. Garin Collins almost put the visitors back in control just before the interval when his free-kick deflected off the defensive wall and clipped the outside of the upright. The second half opened with Armadale working the ball around nicely as they finally began to make the most of the extra player. So it came as no surprise when an unchallenged Robinson headed them into the lead from 7-metres at a Gary Faria corner. The margin was increased by midfielder Kodi Madeley who found space inside the area to calmly slot past McCrone after receiving a cross from Platten on 58 minutes. Joondalup refused to surrender the game and were back in the hunt after Amphlett jinxed his way forward and threaded the ball to Collins who fired past Sharrock at close-range. The momentum was now with the visitors but Sharrock was in fine form, battering away goal bound attempts from Darren Broxton and Thornley as they sought to equalise. The result was put beyond doubt close to the final whistle when Shannon Dally's dipping cross was palmed by McCrone to substitute Joe Brunetto who slid the ball in from a few metres.
FIRST DIVISION, ROUND SEVENTEEN (Gosnells City v Canning City by Phil Unsworth; South West Phoenix v Ashfield courtesy South West Phoenix)
Canning City returned from Walter Padbury Reserve with maximum points for the first time after inflicting a 4-0 loss on Gosnells City. The home side were given a sign of things to come when Paul Harvey's acrobatic volley flashed wide of the post early on. It was a warning they failed to heed as a minute later Paul Van Dongen intercepted a stray pass and delicately chipped on-coming goalkeeper Alan Dunlop with the ball bouncing over the line after hitting the underside of the crossbar. Ten minutes later Harvey tucked away the visitors second by running the ball inside the 18-yard box to unleash a low angled drive that gave Dunlop no chance. Canning maintained the intensity and on the half hour Garth Lecky's shot cannoned off the upright to Harvey who drove in the rebound. Gosnells first opening of note came just before the break through Salvi Chavez whose lob cleared 'keeper Devon Spence but was prevented from going in by Lecky. Chavez and Darren Frances each went close for the hosts who began the second period with a refreshed approach. Spence was by far the busier 'keeper but ensured a sheet clean with a number of saves and timely interventions. The game was in stoppage time when Harvey sent a beautifully weighted pass to substitute Dave Mickler who raced clear and crashed goal number four past an exposed 'keeper.
South West Phoenix moved back on to the winners list by mauling Ashfield 6-0 at the Soccerdrome in Bunbury. The early pace was frantic and played for the most part in the middle third with neither team able to string together to many passes when going forward. As the minutes ticked on, Phoenix slowly took hold of proceedings as Greg Hayes and Jonathon Krawec went close to bagging the first goal. The breakthrough came in the 23rd minute when Kieran Kavanagh feed a pass over the top for Steve Suttie who slipped free of his marker before angling his shot past the goalkeeper. Phoenix’ lead was increased just before half-time after David Murphy threaded a pass to Suttie who cut across the top of the 18-yard box and unleashed a low shot into the far corner. Kavanagh raced on to a Suttie through ball which he slotted past the goalkeeper to take the difference to three goals shortly after the turnaround. Suttie put away his third when afforded time to pick his spot in the net from the edge of the area. Patrick Quinn then got in on the act by netting at close-range from Murphy’s inch-perfect delivery. The final goal was laid on by substitute Gary Mayers who went past one opponent before squaring for Suttie to tap in from 5-metres.
Dianella White Eagles moved to joint third with Wanneroo City who they defeated 3-2 at Kingsway Sporting Complex. T.Gooding, Stephen Bettalla and an own goal did the damage as Rowdy Yates and Brian Cairney netted for Wanneroo. Bayswater City took maximum points home with them by inflicting a 2-1 loss on host club Forrestfield United. Goals inside the opening quarter hour by Steven Worthy and Damien Todorovic set up the win with Andy Harold bagging Forrestfield a late consolation. Balcatta stretched their unbeaten run to five games with a 3-1 win against Queens Park at Coker Park. Julian Piromalli scored twice and Igor Novakovic once to negate Lucas Whitehouse's 23rd minute strike which had put the hosts in front. Rockingham City picked up their second win in as many outings by toppling Morley Windmills 3-2 at Wotton Reserve. Luke Rennie, Craig Howard and C.McCreary scored in quick succession for the visitors midway through the second half with Morley's goals coming via Paul Dundo and Farrell Hedges. Further details of these four games were not forthcoming from any of the eight participating clubs.
OLYROOS IN A-LEAGUE DASH
Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Nikita Rukavytsya are poised to play in Perth Glory's A-League opener against Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium tomorrow after an overnight dash from Beijing. The pair, plus goalkeeper Tando Velaphi, will arrive in Sydney at noon today and transfer to Adelaide where they'll join their Glory teammates. David Mitchell said he would assess the pair's mental and physical condition before deciding whether they would play. "We wouldn't have gone to the trouble if they weren't in contention," said the coach. "They give us more options and it's important they join the team as soon as possible."
Mitchell had been resigned to starting the season without Topor-Stanley and Rukavytsya but the Olyroos' tournament came to an early end when eliminated at the group stage. Although Mitchell will delay naming his side until tomorrow morning, he is expected to start Topor-Stanley alongside Jamie Coyne, David Tarka and Dino Djulbic in defence. "I've got a side in mind but first I need to meet the boys back from China to make sure they're fully fit and in a good frame of mind," commented Mitchell. "You have to remember they haven't taken part in our preparation, so there's a fair bit of discussion ahead." 34-year old Frank Juric is likely to occupy the spot between the posts ahead of former number one Jason Petkovic.
COYNE REWARDED WITH GLORY CAPTAINCY
Jamie Coyne has been appointed captain of Perth Glory for the 2008/09 A-League campaign. The 27-year old defender takes over the armband from Simon Colosimo, who moved to Sydney F.C. at the end of last season. Coyne has worn Glory colours on 89 occasions since joining them in 2002 and was part of the 2003/04 National Soccer League championship winning side. After a season in Holland with Den Haag he returned to Perth for the inaugural A-League season and has been one of the club’s most consistent performers.
The athletic defender had a stellar 2007/08 summer and in March was invited to train with the Socceroos by national coach Pim Verbeek. Out of contract and in demand, Coyne chose to extend his stay in Perth for a further two years, rejecting the approaches of several rival clubs eager to secure his signature. “To play for your home town team is a great feeling and to be given the honour of leading a club with such a long and successful history is something I’m extremely proud of,” Coyne said. “I’ll do everything to ensure this is a successful new era for the Glory,” he said.
After serving the club with distinction for five seasons Coyne has enthusiastically endorsed the current crop of players as more than capable of achieving the club’s goal of a finals place this season. “The way I see it is what has happened in the past can’t be changed so no point looking back, it’s time to move on and look forward so why not start that now?” said Coyne. “We are a very tight knit group and share a common goal. I look forward to leading a dedicated group of lads and bringing successful times to all of the loyal Glory supporters.”
Coach David Mitchell believes Coyne has the right mix of tenacity and diplomacy to shoulder the added responsibility that comes with the captaincy and is confident the defender will blossom in the role. “Jamie is a terrific player, a Perth boy and loves the club. He has shown his dedication and loyalty to Perth Glory and that’s the sort of person I wanted leading the team,” Mitchell said. “I think he has the right character on and off the field and will do a great job for us as captain. He wants to take the job on with everything he has and I’m sure we’ll see the growth of a great leader this season and beyond.”
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
Clipsal Stadium is the place to be tomorrow when title contenders Inglewood United take on Floreat Athena (3.00pm). Inglewood are this seasons' big improver and having lost only once at home this year will be confident of getting a positive result. The service from midfield of Jason Colli, James Sammut, Michael Baczynski and Jamie Mitsopolous is a key feature of their game and how much influence they can assert will have a large bearing on who takes out the points. Floreat pair Dean Apelgren and Daniel Niederberger come face-to-face with former team mates and together with Adam Bachiller and Brad Scott are sure to feature prominently.
The pressure is mounting on Sorrento who tomorrow welcomes Cockburn City to Percy Doyle Reserve (3.00pm). The Gulls are currently top the table but far from safe as Floreat, Perth S.C. and Inglewood wait to pounce on any slip-up. While Glen Thomas is absent due to suspension, Sorrento can still call upon the likes of Brodie Martin, Lewis Flatt and Scott Neville to provide drive going into the final third. One win in seven weeks has ended Cockburn's title hopes and they go into the weekend without suspended trio Liam Lilly, Adam Surjan and Aaron Dos Santos. The contributions of Johnny Mirco, captain Dom De Felice and Jason Godfrey have never been more important.
The action will last the full 90 minutes when Perth S.C. takes on Stirling Lions at Macedonia Park (3.00pm). Perth have their eyes on top spot and understandably go into the afternoon as favourites. Andrija Jukic has stepped up to the mark in first season at Dorrien Gardens and along with Greg Sharland, Todd Howarth and David Onoforo are the players to watch. Despite their mid-table placing, Stirling are not a team to take lightly with Alan Muir and Steve Porter providing the experience for a tenacious young line-up that includes up and coming defenders Chris Rutherford and Chris Harlond.
Mandurah City are expected to keep pace with the leaders by taking maximum points when they take on bottom of the table Fremantle Spirit at Wauhop Park (3.00pm). Jeff Bright and Chris Wylie come back into contention for Mandurah after missing last weeks win over Swan I.C., against whom Andy Brown and Gary Attrill played the starring roles. Fremantle have points up points from their last two outings and should be confident of getting a result again tomorrow. Simon Elton-Bott and Llewellyn Bake have both impressed at the back this season while the recent return of David Rodgers and Ben Kelly have provided a much needed spark in attack.
E.C.U. Joondalup journeys south to Alfred Skeet Oval where the only thing on their mind is victory against Armadale (3.00pm). Captain Ian McMurray popped up late to salvage a point against Fremantle last week and the big strikers contribution tomorrow is going to once again be vital to his teams chances of success. Unfortunately, the northerners will be minus suspended pair Craig Young and Martin Ashworth. Armadale will fancy their chances with goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock in top form behind a strong defensive line. Gary Faria and John Lund are sure to create headaches for the visiting defence as the Reds seek out a few more points to secure their place in next years top flight.
The Swan Italian Club hosts the lower table clash between Swan I.C. and Western Knights (3.00pm). The home team has a good record at home this year and will be looking to carry that through tomorrow afternoon. Alex Cocking returns from State Schoolboys duty and is likely to slot straight back into the line-up in place of Geoff Mason (suspended). Key roles await David Annall, David Micevski and Anthony Skorich as the Knights look to offset the absence of influential midfielder Luka Jukic, who is serving suspension. Pride will be the chief motivator for both teams.
Wanneroo City verses Dianella White Eagles at Kingsway Sporting Complex is the pick of the First Divison round seventeen games. Canning City have not lost a regular season fixture this year and that's unlikely to change after their visit to Gosnells City. South West Phoenix need to beat lowly Ashfield to hold on to second place. Bayswater City should account for Forrestfield United, providing they turn up to play. Queens Park have a difficult home meeting with Balcatta. Morley Windmills are best warned to be on their guard when bottom of the table Rockingham City call by Wotton Reserve.
INGLEWOOD FEAR NO-ONE : PRYCE
Veteran defender Shane Pryce is not in the least surprised that Inglewood United are in the mix for top honours as the season draws to a close. It was supposed to be a year of misery for Inglewood following the summer departure of several influential players, but that’s been far from the case and with six games to play the inner city outfit are placed fourth - and well within striking distance of leader Sorrento. “The feeling amongst the players is that on our day we can compete and knock over the best sides in the competition,” commented Pryce. “We’re not performing above our expectations - but it seems we are playing above everyone else’s expectations of Inglewood.”
Tomorrow’s meeting at Clipsal Stadium between Inglewood and reigning champion Floreat Athena has the potential to make or break the title chances of either club. Pryce feels is under no illusions as to the monumental task that faces his team. “This is a massive game for us, and I’m sure it will test the character of the team,” he said. “Floreat are well-organised, play a good passing and possession game which is up there with the best in this league. They like to control the tempo of the game, are physically strong and they know how to find the back of the net. It’s going to be tough for us - maybe playing seven in the backline can help us keep a clean sheet!”
As the pointy end of season 2008 arrives, the title race is wide open with Sorrento, Perth S.C., Floreat and Inglewood separated by only four points. “It’s very close in the top four but to be completely honest that doesn’t surprise me as some of the stronger teams have lost influential players and this has affected the overall league. I don’t believe that this years competition is as strong as what it has been in the past, but what it has done is make for some close games and some interesting football,” Pryce said. “It’d be safe to say that there aren’t many big game match winners in many of the top five teams and this is a reflection of how each team requires seven or eight established players to be on their game on match day.”
A number of talented youngsters, amongst them James Sammut, Jamie Mitsopolous and James Duncan, have make their mark at senior level for Inglewood this season. Lee Bamber’s decision to promote youth bodes well for Inglewood’s future. “There are some good young players at the club who’ve jumped at the chance to experience first grade football. With this you have allow for mistakes, but at the same time they have learnt quickly and this has led to us being well-organised and hard to break down,” said Pryce, who feels three players within the squad are capable of playing at the next level. “Oliver Taseski, Michael Baczynski and James Sammut have really stood out for us and the each have the potential to play at a higher level.”
Inglewood consolidated their place in the top four last weekend by coming from behind to defeat Cockburn City 2-1. It was a far from glittering display by Inglewood who played with an extra man for 70 minutes and Pryce knows there’ll need to be considerable improvement if they intend to takes points away from Floreat. “Our performance at Cockburn was disappointing on the whole - we were flat and didn’t up the ante when they had a player sent off early in the game,” commented Pryce. “We continued to pressure them out wide and in the end thankfully picked up the victory. As they say, a win is a win but the guys know that performance wasn’t good enough and we’re going to need a stronger team performance to beat Floreat.”
MORRISON RESIGNS FOOTBALL WEST POST
The local game has been dealt a savage blow with Ashley Morrison resigning his marketing and communications post with Football West after just a couple of months in the job. The appointment of Morrison in early June was widely embraced by the football community who viewed his addition to the Football West team as a giant step in the right direction. However, after realising the ambitions he had for the game would not come to fruition in the foreseeable future due to circumstances beyond his control and influence, Morrison chose to tender his resignation. Morrison, who kept goal for Western Knights and Subiaco United in his playing days, will remain involved in football through the ‘Not The Footy Show’, which airs Wednesdays from 6.00pm on 990 Information Radio, as well as being a part of the Fox Sports team for Perth Glory home games.
DOLPHINS MAKE A SPLASH IN THE TOP FLIGHT
It’s been a sensational year for Mandurah City who are positioned well to claim a top four placing from their first ever Premier League campaign. Stuart Currie has made a big splash since arriving in Mandurah, steering the Dolphins to the First Division crown in his debut season and this year guiding them into fifth spot with six games remaining. Currie readily admits the Dolphins, who many considered to be relegation contenders, have surpassed expectations in 2008. “We were always confident of staying up. We knew it would be very hard but we were confident with the signing’s we’d made that we would do okay, and that’s been the case,” said the coach.
One of Currie’s major concerns following last years First Division championship success was assembling a squad that was not only capable of top flight survival, but that would also be a competitive force. To turn that into reality the Mandurah coach brought in a number of quality recruits from the metropolitan area who have enhanced the existing player group. “That was one of my big concerns when we won promotion - that the squad we had lacked a bit of depth,” explained Currie. “We brought the new players down to have a look at the club and most of those we targeted were very impressed with the facilities. We also have a number of players training in Perth on a Tuesday night, which has helped out with travelling in midweek.”
Currie, a former professional footballer with Scottish club Hearts, has been delighted with the way the players have responded this season. “All the boys have been tremendous for us this season,” he said. “Andy Brown and Ryan Townsend are very experienced players who have given us that bit extra when we needed to dig deep. Young lads such as Ryan McDarby, Chris Currie and Chris Wylie have also been tremendous, to be honest I did not think they would have been called on so often but their performances have justified their selection so it has been easy to pick them every week. Phil O’Callaghan has been on fire and I am sure he will only get better and better as time goes on.”
The Dolphins could not have wished for a better start to their first Premier League campaign than to defeat reigning champion Floreat Athena on day one. Early wins over E.C.U. Joondalup, Western Knights, Fremantle Spirit and Armadale followed while more defeatly they’ve taken maximum points from Cockburn City, Joondalup and Swan I.C. to move to within touching distance of a historic play-off appearance. “We will keep fighting till the last game of the season,” commented Currie. “If we make it then great, but if not we can still be proud of what we have achieved this season.”
Currie is proud to have played a role in Mandurah’s recent history and didn’t have to think long when offered a contract extension. “I have agreed to stay for another season, the club have been tremendous with me and I honestly feel if I was to move on it would be a step down the ladder as Mandurah are the most professional club I have been with in WA,” he enthused. “The club have grown in leaps and bounds and with Todd Jenkins as president the club have a professional approach to the game. My coaching staff of Ron Harrison and Billy Russell have also played their part, we all think about the game in the same way so as coaches we get on great - I would not change Ron and Billy for anybody else.”
Heading into the final rounds of the season we find four teams – Sorrento, Floreat, Perth S.C. and Inglewood United – separated by just four points at the head of the table. Mandurah sit just outside that group in fifth, but are more than ready to pounce should one of the leaders slip up. Currie expects the title race to right go down to the wire as 2008 comes to an exciting conclusion. “This season most clubs on their day are capable of beating each other,” he said. “I think Perth is the most difficult team we have played this season, but I have a feeling Floreat will win the League and go back-to-back.”
FANS PREDICT MORE DOOM AND GLOOM FOR GLORY
The local football community is tipping another difficult summer for Perth Glory. Last week's footballwa.net asked "How will Perth Glory fare in A-League season 2008/09?" with over three quarters of those who participated selected our national league representative to finish in the lower half of the table. The most popular response was 'Sixth or seventh' (33%) closely followed by 'Wooden spoon' (291%). 'Fifth, just missing out on the play-offs' (18%) was next and just ahead of 'Top four finish' (16%). Glory is considered nothing more than an outside chance to be named 'Regular season champions' (4%) or 'Runners-up' (1%). 185 votes were cast in the seven-day polling period.
OLYROOS CRASH OUT
Australia have been eliminated from the Beijing Olympic Games after losing 1-0 to the Ivory Coast in their final group fixture at the Olympic Sports Center Stadium in Tianjin. A clinical Salomon Kalou strike in the 81st minute proved the difference and booked the Ivory Coast's place in the quarter-finals. For Australia it spelt the end of the road with Graham Arnold's side managing just one point from three games. "We've had problems scoring with this team. This is generally a problem with all levels of Australia's national teams," Arnold said after the game. "Disappointment aside, I am proud of the work the players put in and I think we have developed as a team."
The tentative approach employed by both teams made for a dull start to the game. Australia showed early promise and in the 19th minute David Carney's shot from 18-metres beat goalkeeper Vincent Angban only to be cleared on the line by Viera Diarrassouba. It was only now that the Ivory Coast began to threaten and in the space of a few minutes Gervinho and Kalou went close to putting them ahead. After a scoreless first half, Kristian Sarkies came close to breaking the deadlock with a well-taken free-kick which was pushed around the post by Angban on 53 minutes. Eight minutes later Adam Federici acrobatically tipped Brou Angoua's long-range effort over the crossbar. The decider arrived on 81 minutes when Gervinho slid a pass through to an unmarked Kalou who gave Federici no chance by lifting his shot into the top corner. Nikita Rukavytsya played a full game, whereas Tando Velaphi was an unused substitute.
GOALS! GOALS! GOALS!
Todd Harnwell is on track to make history by becoming the first Sorrento player to land the coveted Golden Boot award. A dual championship winner, 28-year old Harnwell has spearheaded the Gulls quest for top honours with 17 goals in the opening 16 games of the Premier League season. But hot on his heels is young Mandurah City excitement machine Phil O’Callaghan, who has so far returned 16 goals in his debut season with the Dolphins. Level with 12 goals each are Damien Scali (Swan I.C.), former New Zealand striker Brad Scott (Flroeat Athena), Johnny Mirco (Cockburn City) and Perth S.C. team mates Andreas Oliviera and David Onoforo. Ian McMurray (E.C.U. Joondalup) has 11 goals with Stuart Montgomery (Sorrento) and Andy Brown (Mandurah) netting on 10 occasions.
Scottish import Paul Harvey heads the field for the First Division leading goal scorer trophy with 18 goals for table topping Canning City. Harvey will be looking to score as many goals as possible in the next fortnight after which he returns to Scotland, missing the final four games of the season. Brian Cairney of Wanneroo City has netted 15 times during his first season in the northern suburbs, and is followed closely by South West Phoenix marksman Steve Suttie on 14 goals. Rising star Ryan Binnie (Phoenix) has bagged 11 goals to be one ahead of Ryan Frisina (Bayswater City), and two in front of 2007 Golden Boot recipient Jon Greenwood (Dianella White Eagles). Gary Mayers (Phoenix) had 8 goals, and gathered together with 7 goals are Bobby Klenkoski (Balcatta) and Darren Francis (Gosnells City).
FOXE OUT FOR A MONTH
Perth Glory has suffered a major blow on the eve of the new season with defender Hayden Foxe ruled out for up to a month with a foot injury. The one-time Socceroo was forced out of the game for 18 months after breaking his foot at Portsmouth and, with this in mind, David Mitchell is taking no risks after Foxe re-injured his foot recently. "(He injured it) just playing the game against Melbourne ... and it's been bruised since," said the Glory coach. "We've had x-rays on it, the x-rays have shown it's okay, he's just feeling a bit of pain when he's running on it, so we just want to be a bit cautious with that." Utility Jamie Harnwell will also be absent when Glory open their campaign in Adelaide this weekend after having a shoulder reconstruction done earlier in the pre-season and a hip operation five weeks ago.
HULL WANT MORE THAN SURVIVAL : GARCIA
Newly promoted Hull City do not want to talk about the prospects of top flight survival according to Richard Garcia they want more than that. The former West Australian junior, who has forged a career in English football since leaving Perth as a 15-year old in 1997, was instrumental in the Tigers rise to the Premiership and is determined to help the club stay there. Later in the season Garcia will come to face to face with former West Ham United team mates Michael Carrick, now at Manchester United, and Joe Cole. "It will be a laugh and a joke but then I'll put the business head on and try to win the game," he said of facing Carrick, who was a groomsman at Garcia's wedding in 2005.
Hull soared into England's top flight in storybook fashion when locally born veteran Dean Windass struck a wonderful winner in the Championship play-off final against Bristol City at Wembley, but are long odds to extend their stay beyond one season. It is customary for promoted teams to return swiftly to the Championship, though there have been exceptions. And according to Garcia the Tigers are preparing to make their own piece of history by bucking the odds. "Survival hasn't been mentioned around the club," Garcia said. "We're not there to survive - we're there to do the best we can, to complete and to beat teams. We can't go in there thinking about survival because we want more than that."
Garcia knows how it feels to plummet from the Premiership, having spent the best part of eight years at West ham when they were sucked into the Championship. Returning to his former club, who have long since bounced back into the top division, will be a thrill in itself. "I'm looking forward to going back to play at Upton Park," he said. "A lot of faces have changed but some of the backroom staff will be there and it will be good to go back there and play in front of the West Ham fans. I was there for eight years so it will always be like a home away from home for me."
As far as the Premier League goes, Hull has a kind introduction with early clashes against Fulham, Blackburn Rovers and Wigan Athletic. It might be as comfortable as life in the Premiership will get, although Garcia and his team mates are not contemplating much beyond the first game. "I've been thinking about playing Fulham for a long time," he said. "It's an important game. We need to get off to a good start and really cement ourselves in the league and build confidence. I think playing at home in the first game will help because we did quite well at home last year and the fans really get behind us here."
It will take more than voices on the terraces to carry the Tigers through the season and manager Phil Brown, who was recently joined by former Sorrento coach Trevor Morgan, has been busy in the transfer market. Although competition for places is hotting up and there are no guarantees Garcia will occupy a starting place, he knows strength in depth will be crucial. "I'm looking forward to playing as many games as I can and hopefully holding down a regular spot I the team and putting myself up against the best," he said. "At the moment I'm fairly confident I can get in the team but the manager hasn't shown his cards just yet. He's keeping everyone guessing."
GLORY PLEA FOR SALARY RELIEF
Perth Glory may be granted a partial exemption from the A-League salary cap next year to compete with clubs from the east for the nation’s best players. David Mitchell highlighted the difficulty of recruiting players by revealing he could not offer players an incentive outside the league’s $2.3 million cap. “I’ve tired but players say ‘thanks but no thanks’,” said the Glory coach. “They know Perth is a five-hour flight away straight after a game and they’ve read how high the cost of property and living is. It’s easier for them to stay in Sydney and Melbourne, which means the game won’t reach the level of popularity it once had in Perth.”
Bonita Mersiades, corporate affairs head at Football Federation Australia, confirmed Glory had raised the issue with national league administrators, who accepted the one-size-fits-all approach to player payments did not work for Glory, whose crowds have halved in four years. “We understand the issues implicit in the situation,” said Mersiades. “We’re working on some options. We need to see a competitive team in Perth for the good of the competition.” FFA is investigating ways to help the club without alienating the other A-League teams or destroying the salary cap concept.
BULLOCH BOLSTERS GLORY MIDFIELD
Perth Glory has continued a successful off-season recruiting drive by adding local midfielder Scott Bulloch to their squad for the 2008/09 campaign. Bulloch has been in sensation form for Sorrento during the winter and was a key member of the State team which played Glory and the East Java Under-23's in June. The left-sided midfielder has been training with Glory's for the past month and featured in the pre-season Cup fixture with Adelaide United, performing admirably against A-League opposition.
Bulloch, 23, has been on Glory's radar for several years but his commitment to completing training with the West Australian Police Force has prevented him from making the step up. Having been granted extended leave by the Police, Bulloch will now have the opportunity to pursue his love of football at the elite level. "The timing has been perfect," said Bulloch who will celebrate his 24th birthday on Wednesday. "I'm really grateful to the WA Police for allowing me to take up this opportunity and I can't wait to run out with my new team mates this season."
Glory coach Dave Mitchell believes Bulloch will be a handy player who can be called upon to play a variety of roles for the club. "He's very versatile, has two good feet and can play anywhere down the left for us," Mitchell said. "Scotty is someone I've had my eye on for a while. He is very keen to be a professional player and give it a crack and things have fallen into place that will allow him to do that which is fantastic."
The addition of Bulloch brings to ten the number of players from the local scene in Glory's ranks. "There are quality players locally and I'll continue to give them the opportunities to play with the Glory if they're up to the standard," said Mitchell. "We have a terrific mix of players this season and I'm confident that WA football fans will have plenty to get excited about when the season kicks-off." Glory start the new season away to Adelaide on Sunday, with their first home game on Friday 22nd August against champions Newcastle United.
HETT ACHIEVES FOOTBALL GOAL
Perth S.C. player Adam Hett walked away with a coveted one-year contract with A-League club Sydney F.C. after winning the Fox 8 reality television series ‘Football Superstar’. In a nerve-wracking finale that had the 19-year old midfielder up against Melbourne pair Reno Damianou and Evan Christodoulous, Hett showed former Socceroo captain John Kosmina he has what it takes to play in the national league. “When I tried out for it I didn’t think that out of all of the hundreds of lads I would be the one that would win it,” said Hett, who made the final fifteen along with fellow West Australians Carlo Coelho, Callum O’Connell and David Price.
Hett, 19, admits it was tough to stand and wait for the axe to fall at the end of each episode as Kosmina, coach of Sydney and head judge on the show, assessed each of the players. “I did get nervous but especially in the earlier weeks I was pretty confident I had done enough to stay in,” he said. “As it got on, it was pretty nerve-racking. But at the same time you can’t change anything when you get to that point. Komina had already made his mind up so there was no point getting nervous.”
Kosmina was impressed by Hett’s simple and uncomplicated approach to football. “He looked like a footballer and he behaved like one,” said Kosmina. “You could see he cared about football and he was willing to learn and listen and he showed leadership,” he said. “I was quite impressed when he copped a cork in the game against the AIS in Canberra and he battled on because they had no on e to replace him. Adam put himself on the line for his mates. I know it sounds a bit cliched and old-fashioned but that is how it is, because it is a team game after all.”
Although the prize is a contract with the Sydney Youth team, Hett is already being considered for the A-League season opener against Melbourne Victory next week. “We’ve got a few injuries and suspensions for the first game, but it’s something I’d really have to consider in the next week,“ said Kosmina, who is tempted to include Hett on the bench after some strong displays on the training track with the Sydney first team. “It’s a big thing for him to come from where he was to where he’d be expected to be, but it’s not out of the question.”
Hett, who also won a scholarship to Macquarie University, has been kicking a ball since he was in nappies and has always dreamed of playing professionally. In 2006/07 he made a nine-player squad from around the world vying for a spot in Coventry City’s youth set-up. Rather than try his luck with other English clubs, Hett came back to the familiar surrounds of Dorrien Gardens and coached juniors at Forrestfield United. He was on the verge of trying out for Perth Glory’s Youth team when he heard about ‘Football Superstar’.
OLYROOS SURRENDER TO ARGENTINA
The Australian Olympic team have been narrowly defeated 1-0 by football superpower Argentina in front of 38,182 spectators at the Shanghai Stadium. The Olyroos held their own against the gold medal holder until Ezequiel Lavezzi's 76th minute strike booked Argentina's safe passage into the quarter-finals. Coach Graham Arnold was pleased with is teams performance which followed their game plan pretty much to the letter. "I have nothing but pride for the boys and the way they played tonight against the best team in the tournament and the best under-23 team in the world," Arnold said. The result leaves Australia needing to beat Ivory Coast on Wednesday to progress to the knock-out phase - anything less and the Olyroos campaign is over.
Argentina began the stronger of the two teams and could have taken the lead on the quarter hour through captain Juan Riquelme whose shot went marginally wide of the right-hand post. Billy Celeski had a great solo effort six minutes later, beating three defenders to go inside the 18-yard box where his shot was blocked by a desperate Federico Fazio. Riquelme got on the end of a Lionel Messi pass but Federici had the his shot well covered, then Archie Thompson pulled the ball across the face of goal after being played in by James Troisi Messi combined with Riquelme on top of the box just before half-time but failed to trouble Federici as his shot drifted past the post.
The second half opened with a flurry of shots from Riquelme and Javier Mascherano as Argentina sought the lead. It wasn't until midway through the half that Australia again threatened with Nikita Rukavytsya rifling into the side netting with his first touch of the ball. There were fourteen minutes left when Angel Di Maria, Messi and Riquelme combined with the former delivering the cross which Lavezzi blasted past a diving 'keeper at the far post. Australia pushed players forward looking for an equaliser but Argentina closed the game down, content with their single goal victory. Rukavytsya came off the bench after 72 minutes, whereas Tando Velaphi was an unused substitute.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND SIXTEEN (Western Knights v Sorrento by Kerry Slater; Floreat Athena v Stirling Lions courtesy Football West; Cockburn City v Inglewood United courtesy Football West; Mandurah City v Swan I.C. by Peter Simcox; E.C.U. Joondalup v Fremantle Spirit courtesy Football West)
An inspirational performance from Stuart Montgomery allowed Sorrento to come from behind and thump Western Knights 5-1 at Nash Field. A goal down at the break, the Gulls rallied as Steve MacDonald twice found the net along with Brodie Martin, Scott Neville and an own goal to stay on top of the Premier League table. The game opened at a cracking pace and inside 2 minutes the Knights had the lead courtesy of Shaun Kilkelly who had the misfortune of heading a David Micevski free-kick into his own net. Sorrento responded in kind with Todd Harnwell then Montgomery finding space only to shoot to close to goalkeeper Jakub Chudy. Micevski crashed a free-kick into the side netting as the Knights went searching to add to their lead. Half-time wasn't far away when George Tchami was dismissed for a second yellow card offence, and minutes later Glen Thomas followed suit to even the ledger. The second half had been underway nine minutes when MacDonald stooped to head in Neville's free-kick and level the score. Four minutes later Montgomery touched the ball past Chudy only to be fouled by the 'keeper, leaving referee Michael Tolmie no option but to award a penalty which MacDonald used to put the Gulls in front. The better chances of a scrappy period which followed came from the hosts but neither Rory Grant nor Micevski were able to beat Neil Young. A shot from 18-metres by Harnwell that deflected into the net off Marco Warmt-Murray breathed new life into Sorrento with fifteen minutes to play. MacDonald turned provider in the 86th minute by playing in Martin who showed great composure to tame the ball with his chest before beating Chudy at his near post. The rout was completed soon after when Neville weaved past a number of challenges to thread goal number five through Chudy's legs from an acute angle.
Branimir Mikulic's early strike was enough to earn a 1-0 victory for Floreat Athena against Stirling Lions at Litis Stadium. The first half dismissal of defender Jovo Pavlovic made for a tough day at the office for Floreat, who remain in close proximity to table-topping Sorrento with six games to play. The home team could not have dreamt of a better start with Mikulic ramming the ball in at close-range after Phil Straker parried a low shot from the edge of the 18-yard box after 6 minutes. Stirling wasted no time in looking for a reply with Ashley Rosindale hooking the ball high, and Phil Arnold clipping the top of the crossbar with a rasping drive. Rosindale was faced with only goalkeeper Vas Vujacic when Pavlovic's intervention lead referee Ton Klaver to brandish a red card, much to the disapproval of the home crowd. Dean Evans curled the resulting free-kick past the defensive wall but was unable to get the better of Vas Vujacic. Stirling sought to capitalise and Chris Rutherford's long-range bomb was just high, while Arnold's low drive flashed past the far post. A superb last gasp tackle by Michael Pugliese denied Daniel Neiderberger the hosts a second goal after he'd gone past Straker. Brad Scott fired only inches wide from Adam Bachillor's delivery as Floreat picked up the second half where they left off. Stirling regained their composure and were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty following Ante Kovacevic's clumsy challenge on Ludovic Boi. Vas Vujacic made a fine save low to turn wide Boi's deflected shot after 74 minutes, but otherwise there wasn't a great deal for the Floreat custodian to do. An instinctive save by Straker prevented Neiderberger from wrapping up the points. Play immediately transferred to the other end where Vas Vujacic parried Rhodes' effort from 14-metres, and shortly after the 'keeper held Muir's drive to ensure a home victory.
Perth S.C. kept pace with the leaders by brushing aside Armadale 3-0 in blustery conditions at Dorrien Gardens. Greg Sharland, David Onoforo and Andrija Jukic each found the net in the first half to earn Graham Normanton's men maximum points. It took the Blues just 2 minutes to open their account as Sharland blasted in from close-range after Armadale failed to deal with an in-swinging corner from Antonio Naglieri. The visitors were fortunate not to concede again soon after when a lack of urgency on Shannon Dally's behalf lead to his dispossession by Onoforo who steered the ball into the near post. Armadale's only real chance of the period came via a Gary Faria free-kick which rose over the crossbar in the 17th minute. There was no such wastage from Perth and on 23 minutes their lead was doubled when Todd Howarth collected the ball in midfield and easily picked out Onoforo who beat the offside trap before delicately chipping the oncoming 'keeper. Perth's dominance was rewarded again in the 42nd minute as Jukic expertly turned his marker to strike a low shot past Sharrock from the edge of the 18-yard box. A tongue lashing from coach Brad Hassell had its effect on Armadale who came out firing for the second half but still struggled to open holes in the defensive line of Trent Kay, Gianfranco Circati and Michael Icanovski. Perth continued to dictate terms and an attempt to clear by Sharrock struck Onoforo and ricocheted out to substitute Roberto Lujan who was unable to rifle off a shot before Matt Bennion cleared the danger. Geneveo Human manoeuvred onto a Naglieri through pass but having out-paced the defence was denied a shot by Sharrock who’d come off his line to negate the danger. Ryan Pearson could have grabbed Armadale a late consolation but after playing a neat one-two with Nao Oishi the young midfielder lifted his shot high.
Inglewood United consolidated their top-four placing with a gutsy 2-1 victory over Cockburn City on a cold and windy afternoon at Dalmatinac Park. Jason Colli’s late deflected shot accompanied Mladen Kovacevic’s first half finish which came just minutes after Aaron Dos Santos had given Cockburn the lead. The only chances of the first quarter hour were speculative as Colli and Dos Santos chose to try their luck from distance. No one was more disappointed than Mladen Kovacevic in the 16th minute when he headed high after being found unmarked by Jamie Mitsopoulos. Michael Baczynski had his name taken by referee David Currie for a heavy challenge on Johnny Mirco, who picked himself up to stretch Oliver Taseski with the resulting free-kick. It was ten men each when Liam Lilly was issued his marching orders for an off the ball incident involving David Houston after 20 minutes. The home team had good reason to feel aggrieved after Johnny Mirco’s jinxing run ended with him being taken down inside the 18-yard box and Currie dismissed appeals for penalty. A moment of pure brilliance by Dos Santos saw him weave around a couple of opponents before blasting in the opening goal with 26 minutes gone. But the lead was to be short-lived as Mladen Kovacevic made no mistake at close-range after Baczynski’s effort rebounded to his feet off the post. Mladen Kovacevic should have converted again five minutes later but instead skied over the bar after his initial header came back off the post. Chances came and went for each team in an evenly poised second half that had coaches Mirko Jelicic and Lee Bamber look to their benches for a way to wrestle control. It was a busy time for Dejan Aleksic and his counterpart Taseski who were alert to any danger. A vocal home crowded were stunned into silence on 82 minutes as Jason Godfrey deflected Colli's shot into the net to decide the contest.
Mandurah City kept their play-off hopes alive with a commanding 3-1 defeat of Swan I.C. on a chilly afternoon at the Hyundai Stadium. All the damage was done in the first half as Gary Attrill, Phil O'Callaghan and captain Andy Brown found the net for the Dolphins, who move up into fifth position. Five minutes were on the clock when Attrill guided the ball into an empty net after blocking Daniel Agudelo's attempted clearance of an under-hit David McNally back pass. Ryan McDarby split the defence with a terrific through ball for Christian Paschkewitz only to have Agudelo come quickly off his line to deny the opportunity. Swan really were struggling in their attacking third and a rare opening presented after 18 minutes through Justin Hugo whose cross from the right was headed wide by Damien Scali. With Brown the dominant presence in midfield and Attrill causing no end of problems down the left, Mandurah now took the game by the scruff of the neck. The pay off came in the 33rd minute when McDarby played down the left for Attrill who cut past Hugo before squaring for an unmarked O'Callaghan to drive beyond the despairing gloves of Agudelo. Mike Green then made sure the visitors were not given a way back into the game by smothering at the feet of Michael Tronchin. With half-time in sight Mandurah put netted their third after Trent Wood was caught in possession by Brown who strode forward to lash into the net. Swan gave a better account of themselves after the break with Andy O'Neill and Michael Tronchin placing wide, and Scali denied by Green. Their persistence reaped rewards in the 70th minute when an O'Neill free-kick was flicked on by McNally for Scali to headed in from 9-metres. Both sides had opportunities to increase their tally before referee Hugh Best brought proceedings to a close.
Ian McMurray struck a dramatic late equaliser to snatch E.C.U. Joondalup a 1-1 draw with Fremantle Spirit at the Joondalup campus of Edith Cowan University. The port side looked the goods to register their first win of the campaign through Joseph Moffat's tidy first half finish only to be robbed in the final minute of regulation time. Garin Collins provided the ammunition for the game's first chance which Craig Simpson headed over the crossbar. Callum Roberts and Ben Kelly then orchestrated a series of attacking raids by Fremantle, the best of which had Llewellyn Bake's goalbound effort deflected past Chris McCrone's left post. Fremantle were given a scare when John Thornley's fierce shot roared past goalkeeper Steve Grant and crashed off into post. A thundering drive from Simon Elton-Bott was tipped around the post by McCrone as the port side flexed their muscle. The breakthrough arrived in the 34th minutes when Moffat tucked the ball in at close-range after McCrone parried a Peter Vukmirovic header. David Rodgers went within inches of doubling the margin on the stroke of half-time with a fierce strike that fizzed over the crossbar. The second period opened in similar fashion as Cisco Jorquiera's defence splitting pass released Rodgers who wasted the opportunity. Soon after it was Roberts that broke free but his explosive drive from distance cleared the bar. Grant was called into action at the opposite end to deny Colllins as Joondalup fought to get more involved. They should have been awarded a penalty after Thornley was felled by Grant on 75 minutes, however, young referee Troy Miller saw it differently and dismissed the appeal. Fremantle were waiting for the final whistle when Collins delivered a cross which was put away by McMurray to ensure his side a point.
FIRST DIVISION, ROUND SIXTEEN (Canning City v Morley Windmills by Phil Unsworth; Dianella White Eagles v South West Phoenix courtesy Football West; Balcatta v Gosnells City courtesy Gosnells City)
Breakaway First Division leaders Canning City were held to a surprising 2-2 draw when Morley Windmills visited Willetton Sports Club. It took only 8 minutes for Morley to announce their intentions as Trevor Hatton's free-kick deep into the 18-yard box was met by a crisp volley from Scott McIlroy to open the scoring. However, that lead lasted all of five minutes before Paul Oliver's ball into the area went to feet and in the ensuing scramble Rory Moutett netted at close-range. The remainder of the half produced remarkably few chances on goal as the two sides wrestled for control amid watertight defending from both camps. This pattern flowed through into the second half and for a long while it looked as though they would be no addition to the scoreline. But the deadlock was broken after 69 minutes when Paul Harvey evaded several tackles to go inside the area and unleash a low drive to the right of goalkeeper Chris Ramsey. With two minutes remaining Julio Barendilla latched on to Mitchell Castrilli's long ball and out-paced the defence before crossing for Simon El Chami to steer in the equaliser from 6-metres.
Dianella White Eagles reaffirmed their top four credentials by beating second placed South West Phoenix 2-0 at Dianella Reserve. An uneven surface made it difficult for either team to gain the early ascendancy or create much in the way of attacks on goal. In fact, the crowd had to wait until the 34th minute to see the first real opportunity that came via a Kieran Kavanagh's pile driver that cleared the crossbar by the narrowest of margins. Six minutes later Dianella had the lead after Dragan Njegic robbed Greg Hayes of possession to advance goalward and coolly chip goalkeeper Ryan Montgomery. A half-time spray from coach Micky Cairns had the desired effect on Phoenix who dominated the opening passages after the break. Patrick Quinn went agonisingly close to bringing the side level on 57 minute with a terrific strike from 20-metres which hit the outside of the left post. Phoenix were wasteful again three minutes later when Gary Mayers' header headed just high of the bar from a David Murphy free-kick. The points were made safe in the 67th minute by Dimce Taneski who rounded goalkeeper Montgomery and threaded into the net from a tight angle, despite Ryan Risdon's best efforts to clear off the line. Phoenix rallied and in stoppage time Steve Suttie found the net but the goal was not allowed to stand due to the strikers foul on goalkeeper Matt Battigelli.
Balcatta recovered from conceding early to earn a 1-1 draw with Gosnells City at Graham Burkett Reserve. Gosnells looked a little unsteady early on but with 10 minutes on the clock forced a series of errors which culminated in goalkeeper Kenny Ftynohiannis spilling the ball for Darren Francis to tuck into the net. This served to strengthen the visitors resolve and had it not been for some indecisiveness in the final third they could have wrapped up the points. Balcatta worked their way back into the game late in the half, then started the second period determined to get back on level terms. However, it was Gosnells that went closest to scoring when Jimmy Capewell ventured down the left before unleashing a powerful drive that Ftynohiannis did well to keep out. The sides were level soon after as Igor Novakovic whipped in a corner which was cleared as far as Mark Purcell who hammered the ball into the top corner from 15-metres. With this the momentum swung back to Balcatta for whom Novakovic and Adam Purcell worked tirelessly in the search for a winner. Gosnells almost pinched the points on the counterattack but Ian Maguire sent the ball into the waiting arms of Ftynohiannis rather than lay the ball off to the better positioned Ciaran Allen or Salvi Chavez.
Wanneroo City consolidated their place amongst the top three by overcoming Bayswater City 2-0 at Frank Drago Reserve. Brian Cairney and Caesar Meylan struck in the second half to earn the hosts victory. A 2-2 draw between Ashfield and Queens Park did neither team any favours in their struggle to move clear of the drop zone. Zac Jones and Jake Watson were on target for Ashfield as Tom Cullen netted twice for the visitors. Rockingham City breathed new life into their hopes of avoiding relegation by defeating Forrestfield United 5-3 in the evening fixture at Lark Hill Sports Complex. Craig McCreery, Andrew Keary, Adrian Mulholland, Craig Howard and substitute Darren Mathurine got the goals for Rockingham as Forrestfield’s reply came via A.Harold (2) and Jason Kingdon. Further details of these three games were not forthcoming from any of the six participating clubs.
FINISHING LETS SCHOOLBOYS DOWN
Western Australia placed a disappointing sixth at last weeks School Sport Australia Football Championships in Port Macquarie, New South Wales. But while the State side won just once in five outings, coach Damon Atthowe was far from disheartened as four of his squad gained international selection. "The big positives for us were Callum O'Connell's selection in the Australian squad, and the inclusion of Ryan Pretorious, Kynon Melling and Alex Cocking in the shadow squad," commented Atthowe.
An inability by Western Australia to convert chances into goals in their opening day clash with the Australian Capital Territory proved costly with the Territorians running out 1-0 winners. "We dominated play and created a hatful of chances which we failed to convert," explained Atthowe. "Credit to their 'keeper, we had fourteen shots on goal and he made some good saves. We restricted them to only a few chances and unfortunately for us they converted one of those to win the game."
There was no such malaise in front of goal on Monday as the boys from the west demolished Victoria 6-0 to breathe life back into the campaign. Leading the way up front was Swan I.C. striker Alex Cocking who bagged a hat-trick as Jordan Dunkley, Andrew Dhaiker and an own goal completed the margin. "We again created a number of chances against Victoria but the difference this time was we finished them off really well," commented Atthowe, whose team moved into third place after picking up all three points.
Day Three of competition had Western Australia go down 3-1 to perennial powerhouse New South Wales, against whom Ryan Pretorious scored. "The first half was fairly even with the shot count level at the break, the difference being they converted three of theirs and we didn't. We had two one-on-one's with the 'keeper and squandered them whereas they had a couple of long-range shots that ended in the back of the net," said Atthowe. "A win against Queensland would have kept us in the medal hunt."
Unfortunately, Western Australia's hopes came crashing down on Thursday when beaeten 1-0 by Queensland, and the disappointment of that result was compounded twenty-four hours later when edged out 1-0 by South Australia. "All in all, it was a very frustrating year for the Schoolboys," said Atthowe. "The nationals are in Perth next year and, hopefully, we can have a shot at winning the championship for the first time." The trophy was collected for a record nineteenth time by New South Wales, who completed the tournament without loss.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
Sorrento striker Stuart Montgomery is sure to receive a rousing reception when he steps on to Nash Field for the first time since splitting with Western Knights. On paper you simply can not go past a Gulls line-up which boats the talents of Todd Harnwell, Glen Thomas, Lewis Flatt and Shaun Kilkelly to name but a few. However, the Knights are not be underestimated in front of a partisan home crowd and should the likes of David Annall, Jon Mathers, David Micevski, Rory Grant find top gear then an upset isn’t out of the question.
Armadale has shown tremendous improvement over recent weeks and but this time out take on the might of Perth S.C. at Dorrien Gardens. Consolidation is the top four is on offer to Cockburn City and Inglewood United when they meet at Dalmatinac Park. Fremantle Spirit head north confident of registering their first win of the season against an E.C.U. Joondalup side for whom consistency is a thing of the past. Mandurah City have home ground advantage against Swan I.C. in what is likely to be a tight, physical contest. All five games kick-off at 3.00pm.
Round sixteen comes to a close with the meeting of Floreat Athena and Stirling Lions under lights at Litis Stadium (5.00pm). Floreat started out the year aiming to win back-to-back championships and with John Migas, Paul Vatistas and Branimir Mikulic firing on all cylinders there is no absolutely reason why they can’t achieve that goal. The young Lions gave a very good account of themselves in toppling Cockburn City last weekend. Jordan Rhodes may have scored a match-winning hat-trick but it was the central defensive pairing of Dean Evans and Michael Pugliese that really caught the eye.
First Division leaders Canning City are tipped for maximum points when Morley Windmills visit Willetton Sportsman Club. A home win by Dianella White Eagles will effectively spell the end of South West Phoenix' title hopes. Third-placed Wanneroo City ventures to Frank Drago Reserve to play fourth-placed Bayswater City. Balcatta welcome Gosnells City to Graham Burkett Reserve, while Ashfield have home ground advantage against Queens Park. Rockingham City are in with a chance of picking up a few points in their quest to avoid relegation when Forrestfield United call in at Lark Hill Sports Complex.
OLYROOS GRIND OUT DRAW WITH SERBIA
Australia picked up a valuable point by holding Serbia to a 1-1 draw in the opening match of the Beijing Olympic Games. Played in oppressive conditions at Shanghai Stadium, Ruben Zadkovich put the Olyroos in front midway through the second half only for Slobodan Rajkovic to equalise ten minutes later. Serbia enjoyed the better of overall play with Australia not really getting into stride until late in the piece. "That can come also from the occasion," coach Graham Arnold said. "You're at the Olympics, your first game, they haven't experienced a big tournament like this before, so the nerves could have been in there a little bit. We'll be looking for a better performance next time."
After a slow start by both teams, Zoran Tosic delivered a 13th minute warning when his goal bound strike from distance was cleared over the bar by Nikolai Topor-Stanley. Archie Thompson fashioned an opening for Australia ten minutes later but was dispossessed after cutting into the 18-yard box. Tosic was inches away from giving his side the lead with a crisp strike from 25-metres which struck the underside of the crossbar and bounced back into play. Matt Spiranovic fired Australia's first shot straight at goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic soon after. Adam Federici produced a good low save right on the stroke of half-time to deny yet another long-range effort by Tosic.
The second half opened with Serbia on control as Tosic had a shot deflected past the post, and Ljubomir Fejse sliced wide when well placed. Totally against the run of play, Australia went ahead in the 69th minute when David Carney cut in a low, hard cross which Zadkovich slid into the net at the far post. A diving save by Federici denied Aleksandar Koralov a quick reply, then Billy Celeski hit the post as Australia sought to seal the game. Serbia deservedly drew level in the 77th minute through a superb near post header by Rajkovic from Slobodan Rajkovic's cross. West Australian striker Nikita Rukavytsya was replaced in the 88th minute, while goalkeeper Tando Velaphi was an unused substitute.
SOCCEROOS NAMED FOR SOUTH AFRICA FRIENDLY
Chris Coyne and Michael Petkovic have been named in the Socceroos squad for Tuesdays international friendly against South Africa at Loftus Road Stadium, London. All eighteen members of the squad are based in Europe with the majority recently involved in the Asian qualifiers for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. "We're looking forward to this match as part of our preparation for the crucial World Cup qualifier next month," said coach Pim Verbeek, referencing the Socceroos away date with Uzbekistan on 9th September.
The Australian squad to play South Africa is Michael Beauchamp (Aalborg), Brett Holman (AZ Alkaamar), Scott Chipperfield (Basel), Brett Emerton (Blackburn Rovers), Scott McDonald (Celtic), Chris Coyne (Colchester United), Nick Carle (Crystal Palace), Mile Sterjovski (Derby County), Jason Culina (PSV Eindhoven), Mark Schwarzer (Fulham), Harry Kewell (Galatasaray), Carl Valeri (Grosseto), Josh Kennedy (Karlsruhe), Mark Bresciano (Palermo), Michael Petkovic (Sivasspor), Vincenzo Grella (Torino), Luke Wilkshire (FC Twente) and Lucas Neill (West Ham United).
GRIFFITHS TAKES HIS CHANCES AT HOME
Teenage prospect Brent Griffiths has turned his back on the English Premier League to pursue what he believes will be a better opportunity with the Perth Glory Youth team. At a time when young players are being drawn in increasing numbers to overseas clubs, Griffiths has bucked the trend by rejecting a one-year professional deal with Blackburn Rovers to return to Western Australia for the launch of the National Youth League. The 18-year old, who spent two years in the Rovers Academy, admitted some people would consider it an unusual move, but believed he could make the switch work in his favour. “I may have turned down a bit of money to stay here but hopefully I’ve made the right decision,” he said.
West Australian youngsters Rhys Williams (Middlesbrough), Shane Lowry, Chris Herd (both Aston Villa) and Griffiths older brother Rostyn (Blackburn) continue to forge ahead. And perseverance certainly brought success for Richard Garcia, who left Perth eleven years ago to pursue a professional career and will this season line up for Premier League newcomer Hull City. But Griffiths said his decision to join Glory had been made partly because he felt his chances were slim of ever seeing first team action at Blackburn. “Unless you are an outstanding talent, they don’t really give you much of a chance,” he said. “I think in the A-League you see young players coming through and getting a chance.”
Griffiths flew to Perth during the English off-season to recuperate with the intention of returning to Blackburn to sign a one-year professional contract. But he decided to stay when he was given an opportunity with Glory. “I came here to get fit before going back and maybe singing my one-year pro or going to another club,” he explained. “But when I came here, it was really good. The training’s good, Mitch (David Mitchell) is a great coach and I’ve got the opportunity to train with eh first team as well.” In fact, Griffiths may get his chance sooner rather than later after being included in the match day squad for the weekend’s Cup clash with Adelaide United.
Griffiths, who was born in Stoke but spent much of his childhood playing junior football for E.C.U. Joondalup and Stirling Lions, saw enough of the cut and thrust of life at Blackburn during his spell in the academy to turn down the contract offer. He felt that too many young players were lost in a development system that concentrated on elite youngsters and left other promising players floundering. Griffiths acknowledged there were benefits of being forced to grow up quickly in the academy environment. “I couldn’t rely on my mum and dad picking me and stuff, so I got my drivers licence over there and became very independent,” he said.
Football West has mapped put an exciting finish to 2008 with confirmation of dates for the Top Four play-off series. The semi-finals have been scheduled for the evening of Wednesday 24th September, with the trophy winner being decided on the Queens Birthday long weekend, Monday 29th September. The year's final piece of silverware - the association Cup - goes up for grabs on Saturday 4th October.
Danny Hill will find out shortly if he'll play again this year. The Sorrento defender has not played since picking up a knee injury in the mid-June Cup defeat of Forrestfield United. Scans early next week are expected to reveal the full extent of Hill's injury and determine whether surgery is required to rectify the problem. Hill, part of the Gulls 2006 championship winning side, returned to the Sorrento camp last summer after taking twelve months away from the game.
It’s almost certain 2008 will be the most successful in the history of South West Phoenix. Formed from the ashes of a five-year ‘merger’ with Ashfield, Phoenix stepped out on their own in 2001 and have done the Bunbury region proud by twice placing fourth before last year taking third spot on the final table. With seven games remaining Phoenix are sitting comfortably in second position, five points behind leaders Canning City but four clear of third placed Wanneroo City.
Fremantle United appear to have the Amateur Premier League title all wrapped up - some two months before the season ends. With just seven games to play the port side hold an imposing fourteen point advantage over nearest rivals Hamersley Rovers and Joondalup United. Such has been Fremantle's total domination of the competition that they've taken maximum points from thirteen of fifteen games played, amassing 34 goals while conceding just 12.
DUTCH TREAT FOR WEST AUSTRALIAN QUARTET
Four of the local scenes rising stars donned national team colours in the OBI-Hilden Cup in the Netherlands over the weekend. Million Butshiire, Eli Babalj, Trent Sainsbury and Julius Davies were selected in the 23-player Australian Under-17 squad which pitted skills with club youth sides from across Europe. The Joeys warmed up for the tournament with a 2-1 loss to Dutch club FC Utrecht, against whom Babalj was on the score sheet. Australia failed to reach the finals after being held to consecutive 0-0 draws by VfB Hilden, West Bromwich Albion and FC St Pauli before earning a 1-1 draw with RW Essen in their final group fixture.
The Australian Under-17 squad for the OBI-Hilden Cup featured Chris Bush (Australian Capital Territory), Kerem Bulut, Brendan Hamill, Robert Kolak, Jared Lum, Nikola Stanojevic, Marc Warren (New South Wales), Koh Satake (Queensland), Joseph Costa, Nathan Farrell, Mark Perrone (South Australia), Rani Dowisha, Petar Franjic, Kamal Ibrahim, James Jeggo, Bailey Wright, Tedros Yabio (Victoria), Eli Babalj, Million Butshiire, Julius Davies and Trent Sainsbury (Western Australia). The OBI-Hilden Cup is a modified tournament of 50-minute games.
ERGIC BREAKS SWEDISH HEARTS
Ivan Ergic has inspired F.C. Basel to twice come from behind to defeat IFK Gothenburg and keep alive their hopes of lining up in the European Champions League. Basel were facing elimination from the qualifying series when Ergic scored twice in the final six minutes to set-up a meeting with Portuguese club Vitoria S.C. for a place in the group stage. Pontus Wernblom put Gothenburg ahead after 19 minutes but soon after Benjamin Huggel netted to level the tie at 2-2.
Wernblom's second goal early in the second half looked to have assured Gothenberg of a place in the next round. But Basel had other ideas and were put back in the hunt by Scott Chipperfield who put away a 71st minute corss from Eren Derdiyok. Ergic made no mistake with a disputed 84th minute penalty awarded for handball against Hjalmar Jonsson. The game was in stoppage time when Ergic rounded two defenders before blasting past the goalkeeper to settle matters. The win rekindles memories of Basel's 2002/03 campaign when they defeated Celtic, Liverpool and Juventus in making it to the second group stage.
PRE-SEASON CUP TAKEN OUT BY MELBOURNE
Melbourne Victory last night claimed the first silverware of the A-League season, defeating Wellington Phoenix in a marathon penalty shoot-out in the final of the pre-season Cup. Goalkeeper of the Year Michael Theoklitos proved the difference between the two sides at Westpac Stadium, in Wellington, making two spectacular saves during the second half before keeping out Karl Dodd's sudden death spot kick to win the shoot-out 8-7. Goalscoring opportunities were rare in a scrappy opening half played on a greasy surface in front of over 9,000 fans who braved the chilly conditions. The second half was a little more lively with Richard Johnson and Shane Smeltz testing Theoklitos to deny Phoenix becoming the first New Zealand club to claim a trophy in an Australian competition.
FANS LIKE BAMBER’S STYLE
Lee Bamber has been given a resounding ‘thumbs up’ by the West Australian football community who’ve nominated the Inglewood United coach as the top flights’ best coaching newcomer. 292 votes were cast during the seven-day polling period in response to the question ‘Who do you consider the most refreshing “new” coach in the Premier League?’ Bamber, goalkeeping coach at Preston North End and Manchester United prior to his move to Perth, accumulated 28% of the count to finish a clear winner. Former national league player and now Armadale boss Brad Hassell (20%) took the runner-up position. In third place was Stuart Currrie (16%) of Mandurah City with Cockburn City’s Mirko Jelicic (14%) and Paul Lincoln (13%) of Swan I.C. close behind. Rounding out the field was Chris Nicholson (10%) from E.C.U. Joondalup.
FINISHING LETS SCHOOLBOYS DOWN
The State Schoolboys remain in medal contention despite making a flat start to the School Sport Australia Football Championships being played in Port Macquarie, New South Wales. Two loss in their opening three games have dented but not extinguished the hopes of the Western Australian side. "We're still in with a chance of a medal with results going our way to date, and if we can beat Queensland and South Australia we can continue our success at this tournament," said coach Damon Atthowe.
An inability by Western Australia to convert chances into goals in their opening day clash with the Australian Capital Territory proved costly with the Territorians running out 1-0 winners. "We dominated play and created a hatful of chances which we failed to convert," explained Atthowe. "Credit to their 'keeper, we had fourteen shots on goal and he made some good saves. We restricted them to only a few chances and unfortunately for us they converted one of those to win the game."
There was no such malaise in front of goal on Monday as the boys from the west demolished Victoria 6-0 to breathe life back into the campaign. Leading the way up front was Swan I.C. striker Alex Cocking who bagged a hat-trick. "We again created a number of chances against Victoria but the difference this time was we finished them off really well," commented Atthowe, whose team moved into third place after picking up all three points.
Day Three of competition had Western Australia go down 3-1 to perennial powerhouse New South Wales. "The first half was fairly even with the shot count level at the break, the difference being they converted three of theirs and we didn't," said Atthowe. "We had two one-on-one's with the 'keeper and squandered them whereas they had a couple of long-range shots that ended in the back of the net. We won the second half 1-0 which gives us confidence going into the next match against Queensland."
BROWN PLOTS STATE LEAGUE RETURN
State midfielder Keith Brown is looking forward to continuing his career at E.C.U. Joondalup next season. The tough tackling 29-year old is expected to add experience and muscle to a young Joondalup line-up. "I've agreed to sign for next season which I'm delighted about," said Brown. "Joondalup are rebuilding and have good young players coming through the ranks which is excellent, and I look forward to my new challenge at my new club."
Visa problems forced Brown to cut short his season with Mandurah City and return to the United Kingdom last month. "It's been hard having to leave WA but it's only for a short term and I can't wait to get back," said Edinburgh-born Brown. "It's been good to re-charge the batteries, but the holiday is almost over and I'll be back in around four weeks ... well, I'd better be or my girlfriend and her little boy will have disowned me!"
Joondalup president Syd Amphlett is happy Brown has agreed to play for the northern suburbs outfit in 2009. "We've spoke to Keith regarding next season and he is keen to join us," said Amphlett. "To sign a player of his ability is great for our football club. He's a quality player and I'm sure a number of clubs would have been after his services." Brown spent time at Blackburn Rovers and Barnley, and represented Scotland at youth level, before moving down under in 2003.
OLYMPIC GOAL ALMOST REALITY FOR RUKAVYTSYA
Nikita Rukavytsya is on the verge of living the dream. The Perth Glory striker was the surprise inclusion in Graham Arnold'as 18-player squad for the Beijing Olympic Games, but having made the final cut is now looking forward to playing for his adopted nation in the biggest sporting event in the world. "I'm over the moon; I'm so happy," said Rukavytsya, who was born in the Ukraine. "I have been training very hard for the past year or so and I am so glad to represent Australia in the Olympics."
Rukavytsya, 21, moved to Australia at the age of fourteen and initially impressed at youth level with Inglewood United and Perth S.C. He was soon whisked away to the Australian Institute of Sport on a two-year scholarship at the conclusion of which he signed a short-term contract with Glory, playing the final three games of the 2006/07 season. Now with a full season in the A-League under his belt along with a handful of Olyroo outings, Rukavytsya is ready to take on the might of Serbia, Argentina and Ivory Coast.
While sympathetic to those that missed out, Rukavytsya is nonetheless thrilled with his Olympic selection. "There are a few great players that missed out," he said. "Everybody deserved to be here, but it comes down to eighteen players and it's up to the coach who he chooses. People say that I am pretty quick, so I guess my pace is one of my good attributes that I bring to the game, but I will do anything I can to help the team to be successful."
Rukavytsya is joined by Glory team mates Tando Velaphi and Nikolai Topor-Stanley in Graham Arnold's squad. "At Perth, there are heaps of good young talent and with three players, we have the most players from the A-League clubs," he said proudly. "There is also plenty of talent in Perth itself, so it's good for the development of young players, to know that we can get to this level if given the chance in the A-League."
Australia's Olympic campaign commences against European heavyweights Serbia on Thursday. A starting berth alongside Archie Thompson awaits Rukavytsya, who is confident the Olyroos will do very well. "I will keep working hard; working on tactics and concentrate on doing well," commented Rukavytsya. "We have a goal, but you have to also take it day by day, do your best and concentrate on your job. We have a great squad and I'm positive we can do really well."
GLORY GO BRAZILIAN WITH ARRIVAL OF AMARAL
One-time Brazil international Amaral touched down in Perth last night ready to bolster Perth Glory's A-League ambitions. Despite a trip from Brazil which lasted more than 30 hours, the midfielder was in good spirits when he landed. "The flight was very long but I'm excited to be here. I'm very motivated and happy to finally be in Perth," the 35-year old said through his translator.
Capped 31 times for Brazil, Amaral played in both Glory's tour matches in Indonesia in late June before waiting for his working visa for Australia to be processed. "I felt at home with the team in Indonesia and I wish I was able to come straight to Australia," he said. "I think Perth Glory has a good team and a lot of potential to play well this season and strive for the championship. I have come here to help them achieve that goal."
Amaral is keen to continue his career in Australia after spells at some of Europe's biggest clubs, amongst them Fiorentina (Italy), Besiktas (Turkey) and Benfica (Portugal). "I am fit and have been training in Brazil twice a day. I'm ready to play and I feel I can contribute to the team straight away." Amaral - real name Alexandre da Silva Mariano - will train for the first time with his new team mates on Tuesday morning. Glory's A-League campaign opens at Adelaide United on Sunday 17th August.
BORO’S WILLIAMS TIPPED TO BREAK THROUGH
Gareth Southgate expects a new crop of Middlesbrough teenagers - amongst them former E.C.U. Joondalup player Rhys Williams - to break into the senior line-up this coming season. The 'Boro Academy has proved one of the most productive in England over the last four years, and following some strong showings in pre-season manager Southgate expects several youngsters to make the step up. "Already in this pre-season we've seen people like Joe Bennett, Jonathan Franks, Graeme Owens, Rhys Williams and Nathan Porritt, and Jason Steele was away with England and we think he has a very big future," said Southgate. "There's a lot of talent, and sometimes that talent just needs an opportunity. These lads know they will get a chance with us. There are seven substitutes in the Premier League next year so more of them will have a chance to be with the squad."
THREE POINTS PUTS SMILE ON SWAN FACES
Paul Lincoln was a relieved man on Saturday evening after Swan I.C. registered maximum points for the first time in over a month. The black and whites overcame a dogged E.C.U. Joondalup to emerge 2-1 victors and send their loyal supporters home from Swan Valley with a smile on their faces. "It was a good win for us, it continued on from a good second half last week," commented Lincoln. "We've regained a few senior players which is very important for us and it made us a lot stronger and I thought we deserved the points."
The hero of the hour was David Perich who, in his final appearance for Swan, scored twice to snap a five-game losing streak. "It's a credit to the lad; in his final game for the club he was outstanding," said Lincoln. "It leaves a big hole in our midfield but we wish him every success in America, and it gives an opportunity for some else to step up and fill the role for us." Perich leaves for the United States this week to take up an economics and commerce scholarship at Cardinal Strich College in Milwaukee.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND FIFTEEN (Stirling Lions v Cockburn City by Peter Simcox; Swan I.C. v E.C.U. Joondalup by Peter Simcox)
Jordan Rhodes was the hat-trick hero in Stirling Lions 4-1 mauling of Cockburn City in Sunday’s fixture at Macedonia Park. American import Ashley Rosindale iced his debut with the remaining goal for Stirling, who breathed new life into the top four aspirations. Although played at a cracking pace, the opening passages lacked clear-cut openings and it wasn’t until the 10th minute that either goalkeeper was called into action with Dejan Aleksic keeping out LudovicBoi’s vicious low strike. Five minutes later a stunning Rhodes volley from the top of the 18-yard box put Stirling in front after the visiting side insufficiently dealt with a free-kick from Steve Porter. A quick response was what Cockburn wanted but Johnny Mirco angled wide and Anthony Periera shot straight to Phil Straker. An unmarked Rosindale squandered a guilt-edged opportunity by narrowly failing to connect with another dangerous Porter free-kick. Cockburn had the greater influence late in the half when Michael Mirco’s stinging effect deflected wide off Dean Evans. So it was against the run of play when Phil Arnold combined down the right with Boi whose cutback was finished with clinical precision by Rhodes from 7-metres. The second half was six minutes old when Chris Harlond’s push on Aaron Dos Santos resulted in an away penalty that Johnny Mirco stroked past Straker, who managed to get a touch on the ball. Stirling were clearly in no mood to compromise as two minutes later Rhodes close-range diving header from an Arnold nod down gave the ‘keeper no chance. With their top four hopes hanging by a thread, Cockburn regrouped and through Dom De Felice, Michael Mirco and Periera took control. However, their hopes of a comeback were dashed on 73 minute when Jason Godfrey’s clearance cannoned off Rosindale and rolled into the net, catching Dejan Aleksic off guard. There were further chances for both sides but Dejan Aleksic brilliantly denied Arnold at close-range, while late in the piece Straker was quick off his line to save at the feet of Giovanni de Bartolo.
A dramatic stoppage time header by Shaun Kilkelly earned Sorrento a 1-1 draw with Inglewood United at Clipsal Stadium. The shared points keep Sorrento on top of the Premier League table with Inglewood placed just three points behind in fourth. Early possession may have been monopolised by Inglewood but very few genuine chances resulted against a resilient visiting defence. Sorrento sparked into activity midway through the period after Glen Thomas' precision pass put Brodie Martin goal side of the defence only to be denied by Oliver Taseski's terrific reflex save. Even so, the majority of play remained with the hosts for whom Jamie Mitsopoulos led a number of promising raids down the left. Their best chance came through Jason Colli who seized upon a stray pass only for Neil Young to keep out his shot. Shane Pryce's clearance from on the line prevented Todd Harnwell giving Sorrento the lead against the run of play shortly before the break. The second half opened in similar style and Stuart Montgomery smacked the crossbar with a cracking shot. Mitsopoulos charged down the left before centring for James Sammut whose curling effort was well saved by Young. Five minutes later Lewis Flatt drilled in a low shot which had Taseski at full stretch. The deadlock was finally broken in the 83rd minute when Michael Baczynski converted a penalty awarded after substitute Rodrigo Aguirre was felled by Young. Sorrento now moved into top gear as Harnwell and Morgan shot past the target while Steve McDonald headed straight at Taseski. The pressure on Inglewood increased in stoppage time when Aguirre was red carded for spitting at Kilkelly. The final twist came via Thomas' near post corner which Kilkelly headed powerfully into the net with 96 minutes on the clock.
A moment's inattention has cost Floreat Athena top spot and earned Armadale a 1-1 draw at Alfred Skeet Oval. James Robinson benefited from poor defending seven minutes from the end to level the game after Branimir Mikulic had put the visitors ahead earlier in the second half. Spectators could have been forgiven for letting their minds wander during a dull opening period in which the ball was turned over with regularity and shots on goal scarce. Daniel Neiderberger should have put the visitors ahead on the half hour but scooped the ball high when faced by Cyril Sharrock. Only a few more minutes passed before Brad Scott found himself within sight of goal but the striker's deft flick also cleared the crossbar. The best chance of the period came at the opposite end where Shannon Dally was sent clear by Robinson but placed his shot too close to Vas Vujacic. Floreat picked up the pace for the second half and on 58 minutes went ahead through Mikulic who made the most of a static defence to lift the ball over a stranded goalkeeper. With referee Jeremy Oliphant cautioning players left, right and centre - often for trivial offences - it was only a matter of time before some received their marching orders and that's exactly what happened on 75 minutes when Kodi Madeley was issued his second yellow card. Going down a man had a galvanising effect on the Reds and when Gary Faria volleyed just over the bar it was clear there was still plenty of life in the game. However, Floreat failed to take notice and with the clock running down substitute Nao Oishi guided the ball into the path of Robinson who steered his shot past Vas Vujacic from just inside the 18-yard box.
Perth S.C. were left to rue missed opportunities after substitute Cameron MacLean's late strike earned Fremantle Spirit a 1-1 draw at Wauhop Park. The port side will consider themselves lucky to have picked up a much needed point as Perth squandered a litany of chances to complement Todd Howarth's 32nd minute finish. It was clear from early on that this would be a tough day at the office for Fremantle as Peter Lord's shot was deflected for a corner. David Onoforo forced a hasty clearance from goalkeeper Steve Grant which smacked into Peter Vukmirovic and looped past the post. Callum Roberts was the instigator of a rare home foray on 17 minutes, finding Adrian McBride whose effort took a deflection and flew wide. Grant did well to turn wide Onoforo's effort, an unmarked Andrija Jukic headed high and Antonio Naglieri dragged wide when well positioned as Perth continued their onslaught. The visitors got the result they were seeking just after the half hour as an unchallenged Howarth headed in from 5-metres at a Naglieri corner. Spurred into action, Fremantle went close to levelling through Adrian McBride whose stinging drive was held by Gareth Deeg. Onoforo should have increased the margin when found by Greg Sharland but lifted his shot over the crossbar. The second half took off where the first had finished and Onoforo's close-range finish was blocked on the line. Peter Lord and Howarth went close to adding the visitors second before Ben Kelly glanced just wide at the other end. Sharland and Matt Danskin whistled shots past the post Grant's gloves were stung by substitute David Price. In the 88th minute Joe Moffat clipped through for Maclean who held his nerve to coolly dink over the advancing 'keeper and into the net. In a frantic finish, it was the hosts who went closest to a winner when Roberts' header looped agonisingly over the bar.
Mandurah City came from behind to earn a 1-1 draw from an entertaining tussle with Western Knights at Hyundai Stadium. Cormac Dawson gave the visitors an early lead that was cancelled out by Andy Brown's sensational second half equaliser. Just 3 minutes were on the clock when Mandurah were caught static at a curling Barry Devlin free-kick which Dawson was allowed to head in without challenge. A neat touch by Christian Pascherwitz created an opening for Jeff Bright whose tame shot failed to trouble visiting goalkeeper Andrew Larkin. Appeals for a Knights penalty were dismissed by referee Paul Anderson after Devlin had his shirt tugged by Chris Wylie. A defensive mix-up between Larkin and Stuart Ferguson was seized upon by Bright but with an open goal at his mercy the midfielder scuffed his shot before Ferguson mopped up. A looping cross from the right by David Micevski found the head of Devlin who nodded over the crossbar moments from half-time. The Knights came out fired up after the break and only the intervention of Chris Wylie prevented Micevski a clear shot on goal. Veteran defender Gary Collins was fortunate not to score at the wrong end after deflecting Devlin's centring pass high of the bar. Mandurah were put back in the game on 61 minutes by Brown who was afforded time and space to sent a bullet-like shot in from 28-metres. Only a few more minutes had passed when Luka Jukic was issued his marching orders for retaliation to a Bright tackle. Phil O'Callaghan's spectacular overhead flashed high as the home side sought to capitalise on their extra man. The Knights, too, had their chances with Michael Green tipping a far post cross away from the head of Rory Grant. Jon Mathers ensured the visiting went home with something to show for the afternoon by applying a no-nonsense tackle on Paschkewitz after he broke into the 18-yard box late in the piece.
David Perich scored twice to lead Swan I.C. to a 2-1 victory over E.C.U. Joondalup in his final appearance for the black and whites. The 20-year old’s double was the perfect way to snap Swan’s lengthy losing streak ahead of his move to the United States for study commitments. The stage was set for an exciting, end-to-end contest inside the opening minutes as Bobson Karoma and Cory Hugo had their reflexes tested by Brendan Knox and Ian McMurray, respectively. Michael Tronchin’s shot on the turn crashed off the base of the upright and Andy O’Neill’s follow-up was blocked by a defender, then Martin Ashworth crossed for Scott Bushby but his neat flick went inches past the far post. Damian Scali almost added to his season tally with a close-range header that flashed wide, and a defensive mix-up let in Tommy Jones whose lob was blocked by Hugo. With half-time fast appearing, Perich seized upon a loose ball which he blasted low into the net from 22-metres to give Swan the lead. The hosts weren’t far from increasing their advantage shortly after the re-start as Dom Ando had a shot cleared off the line, and a Perich header was well saved by Karoma. Garin Collins should have equalised when released by Darren Broxton but the striker blazed disappointingly high from 9-metres. With twelve minutes remaining Joondalup went down to ten men after Koroma handled the ball outside his area, leaving referee Steven Gregory with no choice but to issue a red card. The first action for replacement ‘keeper Chris McCrone was to collect the ball from his net as Perich doubled the margin with the resulting free-kick. Ashworth was given his marching orders for a second yellow card offence soon after and just a few minutes passed before the same fate befell Bushby, leaving the visitors with only eight men. The game was deep in stoppage time when McMurray got the slightest of touches on an in-swinging Collins corner for Joondalup’s consolation.
FIRST DIVISION, ROUND FIFTEEN (Forrestfield United v Canning City by Phil Unsworth; South West Phoenix v Wanneroo City courtesy South West Phoenix; Queens Park v Dianella White Eagles courtesy Dianella White Eagles)
Canning City worked hard before overpowering Forrestfield United 1-0 in an uninspiring match Hartfield Park. It didn’t take long for the home side to show their hand by stacking the defence and playing on the counterattack. It was through that very option that the games first opportunity arose with Brad Eiffe’s long clearance bouncing through for Jordan Hart who placed wide. This close call served to wake up Canning who went on to dominate the remainder of the afternoon as Paul Oliver, Simon Versaico, Mick Van Dongen and Paul Van Dongen orchestrated wave after wave of attack which Forrestfield somehow repelled. The hosts defensive approach was unlocked six minutes into the second half when an attempted clearance by Eiffe was blocked by Paul Harvey who skipped away to drill the ball into the bottom corner of the net. Going a goal down didn’t change a thing for Forrestfield who were well served by the defensive pairing of Jason Kingdon and Nathan Watkins as Canning went in search of a second. A rare attack in the 65th minute almost paid dividends for Hart who had the target within sight when Duncan Hind applied a last gasp tackle. It was only in the final ten minutes that Forrestfield began to attack with any conviction but when Craig Ruthven was sent off for a second yellow card Canning had extended their unbeaten run to fifteen games.
South West Phoenix’ title hopes took a serious blow when beaten 4-3 by Wanneroo City at the Soccerdrome in Bunbury. The home side emerged from an error riddled opening displaying the greater composure with Steve Suttie hitting the post and Jonathon Krawec having a shot cleared off the line. Brain Ciarney put Wanneroo ahead with their meaningful attack by clipping a long diagonal ball over Ryan Montgomery. Goalkeeper Fraser Siddall denied Quinn and Rory Binnie was thwarted by Guy McDonald’s sliding tackle as Phoenix went looking for a response. With half-time on the horizon Cairney got in behind the defence and with a cool execution doubted the visitors lead. Quinn brought the game back to a single goal early in the second half by coming out the better in a one-on-one with Siddall. However, the momentum was soon back with Wanneroo as Caesar Meylan was afforded space to tucked away his close-range shot from a Ben Yates free-kick. Fifteen minutes later Meylan added his second by powered in the rebound from Montgomery’s parry to Cairney. Rowdy Yates then had the misfortune of turning a Suttie cross into his own net to set up a tense finish. And although Gary Mayers’ clinical finish from 14-metres further reduced the deficit it just wasn’t enough for Phoenix.
Steven Cowbrough scored twice to lead Dianella White Eagles to a 4-2 win against Queens Park 4-2 at Coker Park. Dianella were in control of the game soon after kick-off but with their hosts happy to sit back and sock up the pressure genuine openings were scarce. So it came as a surprise when a Queens Park counterattack produced the lead via Scott Reinsma who headed in a cross from the right. Unfortunately, the dismissal of Michael Jennings just before the break for an undisciplined studs up challenge on Jon Greenwood undid a lot of the hosts hard work. The second half had been under way just a few minutes when Victor Bogos cleverly released Alan Crofts who sprinted past his marker before converting in a one-on-one with goalkeeper Robbie Easton. Shortly after Greenwood and Njegic opened up the defence with a slick one-two and from the formers cross Gavin Oakes headed in goal number two. The sides were level on 55 minutes when Riste Stefoski was forced into an error on which Reinsma capitalised. Dianella’s focus on attack was rewarded in the 78th minute when Cowbrough belted in an Alan Crofts cross from the middle of the 18-yard box. Chances came and went for both sides before terrific lead-up work by Greenwood allowed Cowbrough to put the icing on the cake in stoppage time.
Balcatta overcame a determined Morley Windmills 3-2 at Wotton Reserve. Adam Purcell, Adriano D’Adamo and Adrian Coloeiro found the target for the visitors with both Morley’s goals coming via Julio Barendilla. Gosnells City registered their fifth win of the campaign by out-shooting Ashfield 3-0 at Walter Padbury Reserve. All three goals came after the interval with Darren Francis netting twice and Ian Maguire once. Bayswater City spanked Rockingham City 5-0 in the late fixture at Lark Hill Sports Complex. Damien Todorovic (2), Damir Kudozovic, Tony Cumace and substitute Sal Marrapodi were the scorers. Further details of these three games were not forthcoming from any of the six participating clubs.
CUP CAMPAIGN ENDS WITHOUT GLORY
An undermanned Perth Glory side has rounded out their pre-season Cup campaign with a hard fought 0-0 draw against Adelaide United at Vansittart Park in Mount Gambier. The shared point means Glory finish the qualifying series third place in their group with two draws and one loss. Coach David Mitchell was pleased with how his troops performed after being left with just fourteen players after the late withdrawal of Adrian Trinidad. "I was really pleased with how hard we worked across the park," Mitchell said. "We were able to close them down for large parts of the match. Both sides made it difficult to find a clear opening on goal and it was another valuable hit-out ahead of round one."
A busy first half an hour produced openings for both teams. Cristiano headed wide of Frank Juric but also the upright, while Lucas Pantelis' long-range effort dipped just over the crossbar. Eugene Dadi rose well but headed poorly at Eugene Galekovic from a Hayden Doyle free-kick. Glory's best chance came when Scott Bulloch turned the ball over in midfield and released Dadi who shot into the goalkeepers legs. Cassio's free-kicks were causing Glory problems as Travis Dodd then Robert Cornthwaite headed wide. Cristiano's powerful shot prompted a diving save from Juric, and late in the period Bulloch skied high after getting himself into position.
Second half chances were few and far between as the pace dropped off. Jamie Coyne almost knocked the ball into his own net on 55 minutes when attempting to clear a cross. Glory were seemingly content to play for a draw and as the half progressed became increasingly defence-focused. Adelaide needed a goal in order to progress through to the Cup final and Cassio almost provided it with a long-range effort that drifted just past the post. With ten minutes remaining Fabian Barbiero rifled high, and late efforts from Cristiano and Travis Dodd also failed to produce the finish the hosts so desperately sought.
NO SECOND CHANCES : MRDJA
Having inked a new deal with Central Coast Mariners, Nik Mrdja has targeted the 2008/09 A-League season to kick start his career. Mrdja's luck while with the Mariners has been wretched to say the least, the striker playing only 24 games in three seasons due to frustrating knee and heel complaints. With a good pre-season under his belt Mrdja is determined to play his part this coming summer. "It's good to be back out there having a kick and running around with the boys again, I just hope that it all comes good for me," said Mrdja. "The injury is going well and at the moment it feels good, I'm confident in my knee and I know that the next month will be the most important time for me."
Mrdja signalled his comeback from long-term injury with a clinical penalty conversion against Sydney F.C. last Sunday. The goal was Mrdja's eleventh in Mariners colours, moving him to third in the club's all-time top goal scorers list. "There are no second chances now, I've always intended on staying here and I've always wanted to play with the Mariners," acknowledged Mrdja, who is all too well aware how important the next few months are. "The first three years have been a bit unfortunate, but I can now put that all behind me and make sure I have a good build up so that I can get out there and do my job."
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
This big game this weekend takes place at Alfred Skeet Over where a much improved Armadale square-off with title contender Floreat Athena (3.00pm). Brad Hassell’s side have come on in leaps and bounds in the past month thanks largely to the creative efforts of Gary Faria, Kodi Madeley, Jason Goodwin and Ryan Pearson. Floreat have moved into second place with four successive wins and you can rest assured Michael Roki’s side have their sights set on another three points tomorrow. Brad Scott and Daniel Niederberger are forming a strong understanding in the final third, while defensively it’s been Ante Kovacevic and John Migas who’ve been in control.
Clipsal Stadium hosts the rounds other crackerjack fixture in which Inglewood United go head-to-head to leaders Sorrento (3.00pm). Although Inglewood has stalled a little in recent weeks, they remain fourth and with a strong home record will be confidence of toppling the League leader. Seasoned campaigner Danny Kovacevic is back in the starting line-up and appears set for a busy afternoon alongside Shane Pryce. Sorrento has piled on twenty goals while conceding just six to go unbeaten in seven games. Shaun Kilkelly returns to the club he left last summer and with Steven McDonald back the Gulls have good reason to fancy their chances.
Perth S.C. travels south to meet bottom of the table Fremantle Spirit at Wauhop Park (3.00pm). The situation is precarious for the port side who must start picking up points or risk completely losing sight of those above them. Coach Marc Wingell would no doubt be pleased with the form of both David Rodgers and Ben Kelly since returning from long-term injury, and will have his fingers crossed first choice custodian Steve Grant is available for duty. Perth may be missing injured striker Andreas Oliviera but in Andrija Jukic, Greg Sharland and David Onoforo possess enough firepower to sink Fremantle’s ship.
If it’s goals you want to see then head to the Swan Valley for the meeting of Swan I.C. and E.C.U. Joondalup (3.00pm). Swan want to send David Perich off on a high and with Damian Scali, Danyal Bennett and goalkeeper Cory Hugo again available they’ll be confident of ending a five-game losing streak. It’s also been a tough month for Joondalup who go into the weekend without the defensive muscle of Anthony Jones (suspended), Craig Simpson and Scott Blackmore (overseas). On the flip side they hope to have Martin Ashworth and Thomas Nicholson back from injury.
Mandurah City has home ground advantage when Western Knights swing by Hyundai Stadium (3.00pm). The hosts mauled E.C.U. Joondalup last time out and another three points can take them back into the top five. Phil O’Callaghan, Jeff Bright, Ryan Townsend and club legend Gary Collins holds the key to their success. The Knights may have won just once on the road this season but are very much a team on the rise. Key roles await David Annall and Stuart Ferguson at the back, while down the other end of the park Rory Grant and Anthony Skorich should rekindle their goalscoring partnership.
Round fifteen concludes on Sunday with the clash between Stirling Lions and Cockburn City at Macedonia Park (3.00pm). Injury and other absences have made for a difficult season at Stirling where Phil Straker’s experience behind a young defence has proven invaluable. Michael Pugliese and Dean Evans are in terrific touch at the moment as imports Marc Anthony and Steve Porter pulls the midfield strings. Cockburn have managed just five points from as many games and only a late equaliser saved their blushes against Armadale last week. Johnny Mirco continues to impress while Jason Godfrey, Dom De Felice and Mileta Miletic have also have been important players for Mirko Jelicic this year.
The second verses third meeting of South West Phoenix and Wanneroo City highlights the fifteen round of First Division fixtures. Another comfortable win is on the cards for leader Canning City who venture to Forrestfield United. It’ll be a long 90 minutes for bottom team Rockingham City who welcome to Lark Hill Sports Complex a Bayswater City line-up with a point to prove following successive losses. Host club Queens Park will be confident of getting a result from their grudge match against Dianella White Eagles who have failed to impress when away from home. Morley Windmills take on Balcatta at Wotton Reserve, while Gosnells City comes up against Ashfield at Walter Padbury Reserve.
TALENTED TRIO ADDED TO GLORY SQUAD
Several promising West Australian footballers will be given a taste of the A-League when Perth Glory meet Adelaide United in tomorrow's pre-season Cup in Mount Gambier. Youth team player Brent Griffiths, Western Knights striker Anthony Skorich and Sorrento midfielder Scott Bulloch have been included in Glory's 15-man squad the clash. All three are expected to see match action under coach David Mitchell who'll be without nine players due to injury, suspension and international commitments.
Griffiths, a former Blackburn Rovers apprentice, is the first player to sign with Glory's Youth team while Skorich is expected to follow suit in the coming weeks. "When you talk about having depth in our squad we will have a number of boys in the youth team that, if needed, could step up straight away and not be out of their depth, that's always a huge bonus to have," Mitchell said. Bulloch has been on the club's radar for some time after a string of strong performances in the Premier League.
Mitchell is keen to see the team back in action after an intensive week on the training track and will again give Eugene Dadi and Adrian Trinidad more time together up front. "We've worked on numerous things at training this week. It's all part of the learning process and each team we play will give us a new challenge and we'll be looking to do the same to them in return, we won't be one dimensional this season," said the coach. "We'll put in a good show this week and the boys who are out there will once again have an opportunity to show what they can offer as they look to cement a place in the side."
SCHOOLBOYS A MEDAL CHANCE
Damon Atthowe has set the State Schoolboys the goal of returning home from the School Sport Australia Football Championships with a medal. The State side has enjoyed tremendous success during their four years under Atthowe who has no doubt Western Australia's young players are as good as any in the nation. "If we can stay injury-free, my minimum expectation is a bronze medal," explained Atthowe. "We've prepared well and will be employing a number of different approaches and tactics that we feel will enable us to do better than last year when we missed out on silver by a point."
Preparations for next week's championships, which start on Sunday in Port Macquarie, New South Wales, have been trying for all involved. "We've had a very interrupted preparation with a lot of players suffering injuries to the point where we've not had all sixteen boys together more than twice," explained Atthowe. "Even as late as last Thursday we had Jason Mirco pull out due to injury but that's opened the door for Nima Raei to join the squad." The squad will be draw inspiration from Western Australia's strong recent record at the tournament which has produced two silver and one bronze medal since 2004.
The 2008 Western Australian Schoolboys squad features Pavle Biserko, Jordan Dunkley, Nick Feely, Devon Gibson, captain Ryan Pretorious (Cockburn City), Rhys Loxley, Kynon Melling (Forrestfield United), Andrew Dhiakiir, Nima Raei (Inglewood United), Paul Rechichi (E.C.U. Joondalup), Callum O'Connell, Wesley Padley, Todd Ross (Sorrento), Alex Cocking (Swan I.C.), Craig Thompson and Alan Galic (both with Western Knights). Travelling with the squad are Damon Atthowe (coach), Wayne Brooks (team manager), Peter Rickers (tour manager) and Andy Ross (trainer/physiotherapist).
OLYROOS OUT-GUNNED BY SOUTH KOREA
Australia have been defeated 1-0 by Korea Republic in their final warm-up match for the Beijing Olympic Games. A well taken shot midway through the first half by Young-Rok Shin was enough to send home happy a crowd of 20,533 from a balmy evening at the Seoul World Cup Stadium. Nikita Rukavytsya forced an early save from goalkeeper You-Gual Song before the two sides traded opportunities. Korea gained the upper hand after 24 minutes when Shin placed past a diving Adam Federici from 11-metres. Ruben Zadkovich powerful shot to the near post was parried out by Song, while late in the half Sung-Yueng Ki flashed the ball just high of the crossbar.
The second stanza had the Olyroos seize control of the game, however it was the host nation who went close on the hour when Ki was thwarted by Federici in a one-on-one. Rukavytsya was unlucky not to get on the score sheet in the 68th minute by beating substitute 'keeper Sung-Ryong Jung only to see the ball ricochet off the post. Australia's quest for a late equaliser had substitutes James Troisi and Matt Simon each sting the gloves of Jung. With regulation time running out, Ki charged forward to send the ball past Federici but a fast back tracking Zadkovich cleared his shot off the line. Rukavytsya played a full game with Tando Velaphi an unused substitute.
IT’S MAKE OR BREAK TIME SAYS JOONDALUP’S JONES
Suspension will deny Anthony Jones the opportunity of lining up again his former club. The E.C.U. Joondalup vice-captain is unavailable for Saturday's visit to Swan I.C. after being sent off against Mandurah City last weekend. "It's not the best for the club - me getting sent off - as we're short at the back at the moment, but hopefully the guys can get the points," he said. "Bottom line is that if we don't win on Saturday then winning the League is out the question and possibly the top four as well."
Joondalup's top four aspirations have taken a battering in the past month, culminating in a four-goal pummelling at the hands of Mandurah on Saturday. "It was a physical game and we allowed ourselves to be bullied by them and didn't really roll up our sleeves and play the game we had to play," commented Jones. "We've struggled against teams that have a physical approach to their game this year and last Saturday was a prime example of that."
Jones is far from impressed with those team mates who've chosen now to go on holiday. "The club finds money week in week out to pay players, most who would play even if they weren't getting paid," he said. "But going on holiday during the six-month season doesn't re-pay the hard work and effort the club puts in to make that happen. I can understand if players have to miss a week or two for a special event - weddings, funerals - but holidays should be taken in the off-season."
Jones has fond memories of his days in the Swan Valley when Eric Williams was coach and Carlo Scali, Nigel Aubin and Trevor Hatton his team mates. "We had a great bunch of lads in teh two seasons I was at the club - no superstars, just a great team," said Jones, who joined the black and whites for their return season in the top flight. "Finishing fourth in our first year in the Premier League was the highlight of my time with the club."
COYNE DELIGHTED TO BE SKIPPER
Tough-tackling defender Chris Coyne will wear the captain's armband at Colchester United this coming season. The newly-capped Socceroo was awarded the captaincy by manager Geraint Williams ahead of Johnnie Jackson, Paul Reid and Matt Lockwood. "It is a great honour and obviously I will do my best for Colchester United," said 29-year old Coyne. "It is a position that I relish both on and off the pitch and I am happy to be the voice of the dressing room when we need to liaise with the manager. There are a lot of leaders in the team and that can only be a good thing."
Coyne has been impressed by Williams' off-season recruitment which has brought defenders Paul Reid, Matt Heath and Matt Lockwood to the club. "We've brought in more quality this summer and we have more options," commented Coyne. "They all look like excellent leaders and have had a good upbringing in the game. It's an excellent dressing room at Colchester now – but you have to be a tough cookie with all the verbal that flies around!" The U's are looking to bounce straight back into the Championship following relegation last season.
PASSION FOR FOOTBALL DRIVES EVANS
They say a footballer’s life is hectic and for Stirling Lions youngster Dean Evans never has a truer word been said. Five weeks ago the 18-year old made his State team debut in Indonesian and since returning to club duty his ability to play in defence or midfield has proven an invaluable asset to coach Mick Lyons. Somewhere in between training and playing for Stirling Evans has found the time to attend trials for Perth Glory’s Youth team where his performances have greatly impressed coach Gareth Naven.
Backing up club training with intensive sessions at Glory have put a squeeze on Evans’ time but he’s certainly not complaining. “We’ve played some Glory inter-club games recently and we’ve also played against the National Training Centre boy’s in a couple of matches, which all went well,” he said. “We’re down to fifteen players and Gareth Naven and his support staff have the arduous task off selecting a final ten players to represent the club in the youth league next season. It’s hard work but it’s a great challenge and one I’m looking forward too.”
Evans was thrilled at being called up for State duty and feels the boys did themselves and Western Australia proud against the East Java All-Province Under-23’s. “It was a great experience to play in Indonesia, and it’s always an honour to represent your State at any level,” he said. “The Indonesian’s were a very quick side and I thought we did reasonably well in the hot humid conditions over there. It took us a while to get used to the conditions but once we did I thought we matched them all night, and it was unfortunate that some of the decisions by the officials didn’t go our way, but that’s football.”
The teenager marked his return to club football with a couple of goals against Fremantle Spirit that was the perfect accompaniment to a sensational free-kick at home to E.C.U. Joondalup a few weeks earlier. “The two goals against Spirit was a surprise as I was playing more of a holding role in midfield after returning from the State trip,” explained Evans, who recently captained Stirling against Inglewood United. “The free kick against E.C.U. was a good feeling as I’ve practised them after training most nights, but it’s always great to get on the score sheet and I’m sure Michael will be hoping I score a few more during the season.”
Perth Glory has granted Jamie Harnwell a testimonial to honour his decade's service to the club. Percy Doyle Reserve is the place to be on the afternoon of Saturday 11th October when Glory and Sorrento stars past and present don the boots for Harnwell's testimonial game. Harnwell's 206 Glory appearances make him the clubs third longest serving player behind Bobby Despotovski (241 games) Scott Miller (227).
The title hopes of Perth S.C. have suffered a blow with star striker Andreas Oliviera sidelined with a knee injury. The lively 27-year old damaged knee ligaments after tangling with Paul Baczynski early in the weekend defeat of Swan I.C., and while the full extent of the injury is yet to be revealed it’s expected he’ll miss a minimum of six weeks. Oliviera’s season tally stands at 24 goals, a dozen of which have come of League competition.
Former State team defender Ivan Zuvela has been included in Western Knights senior list for the first time in twelve months. It's been a year since Zuvela was diagnosed with Achilles Tendonitis, a problem for which he required surgery. The road to recovery has been long for Zuvela who's proven he is again match fit and sharp to coach Ronie Campbell with a trio of Reserve team appearances.
A quartet of E.C.U. Joondalup teenagers heads to England this weekend with the hope of taking their careers to the next level. Aryn Williams, Ryan Williams and Adam Taggart will attend trials with Premier League club Portsmouth, while a similar opportunity awaits Alex Grant at West Ham United. All four boys are eligible to play Under-15’s and have featured regularly for the Under-18 side.
Building of a new clubhouse alongside the existing stand at E.C.U. Joondalup will commence later this year. The amenity is due for completion within two years and includes kitchen and bar facilities, referee change rooms with direct access to playing arena and clubhouse with accommodation for around 90 people. Joondalup have allocated $200,000 towards the development with the University chipping in the remainder.
'Let's Talk Football' made a successful return to the airwaves on Heritage FM (107.3FM) last Sunday evening. The two-hour show goes to air from 6.00pm with the primary focus being the local Premier League and First Division competitions along with our national league representative, Perth Glory. Hosts Eamon Duffy and Scari Morales will be joined on a regular basis by Perth S.C. coach Graham Normanton and a variety of other guests.
BIRIGHITTI WANTS TO BE ADELAIDE’S NO.1
Western Australia has long been recognised for its ability to produce exceptional goalkeepers and Adelaide United recruit Mark Birighitti is hoping to follow in the footsteps of some of Western Australia's greatest goalkeepers and bring national league glory to the South Australian capital. Willie McNally, Robert Zabica and Jason Petkovic were the cornerstones of Adelaide City's title-winning sides of 1986, 1991/92, 1993/94 and Birighitti wants to continue that tradition with United. "There's been a few keepers come to Adelaide from WA with the likes of Zabica, Petkovic and McNally," said 17-year old Birighitti. "Hopefully I can step up and become a top-class keeper as well."
Injury to regular Adelaide custodian Daniel Beltrame has pushed Birighitti into starting contention alongside Eugene Galekovic. Birighitti opted to accept a two-year deal with Adelaide rather than bide time in the fledgling A-League youth competition. "Adelaide United, Sydney FC and Wellington expressed interest in me after a trial with Bayern Munich fell through," said Birighitti. "As soon as I heard Adelaide had offered me a first-team contract and second choice to Eugene I knew it was the club to go to."
He might be Adelaide's new Italian stallion but you won't catch Birighitti demolishing mountains of pasta for dinner. "I was quite chubby when I was young so my parents took me to a metabolism specialist," recalled Birighitti, who lives with the family of Reds' financial controller and super-cook Sarina Bria. "I was storing too much carbohydrate in my body so they put me on a no-carb diet for two weeks and I lost four kilograms. I live with a great Italian family but I can only eat pasta during the day or vegetables and salads at night."
Birighitti is hoping to emulate former Adelaide pair Nathan Burns and Bruce Djite and experience European football after serving an apprenticeship at Hindmarsh Stadium. "I am concentrating on having a good two years here in Adelaide then hopefully go to Europe at some stage," said Birighitti, who was part of the Young Socceroos' camp earlier this month. "I am getting used to it now at the club and they are a top group of blokes to train with. I am really happy."
HOMEGROWN STARS IN HOT DEMAND FOR GLORY
Local officials hope national players Lisa De Vanna and Collette McCallum will be back home to lead the Perth Glory women’s team in the inaugural W-League when it kicks off in October. Although De Vanna and McCallum are playing professionally in Sweden ad the United States, respectively, Football West chief executive Garry Chandler is hopeful of luring the pair back to Perth. “With Lisa and Collette, you are talking about two of the world’s best players, so they are in high demand,” Chandler said. “It would depend on their schedules and contracts but I’m pretty confident they would make themselves available if they were here.”
National Training Centre program coach Nicola Williams, who led the State Under-17 team to second place in the recent National Youth Championships, is believed to be a front runner to take on the coaching role. The team will be made up of players from the local women’s competition and members of the NTC with the possibility of others being enticed from interstate and Asia. Although the team will compete as Perth Glory, Football West will be responsible for the day-to-day running of the team. Chandler said the initiative was evidence of the strength of the relationship between Glory and the local game.
HARNWELL TIPPED FOR GOLDEN BOOT
Todd Harnwell has emerged as the front-runner for the 2008 Golden Boot. The West Australian football community put the Sorrento striker at the top of the pile in the football.net poll which asked 'Who will win the 2008 Golden Boot?' Harnwell, a product of the Gulls youth system, picked up 25% of the vote to finish well clear of his nearest rivals. Mandurah City's Phil O'Callaghan (16%) came in runner-up just a couple of votes ahead of former New Zealand international Brad Scott (15%) whose wearing Floreat Athena this winter.
In fourth place was Perth S.C. marksman Andreas Oliviera (10%), whose season appears to be over after suffering a serious knee injury suffered last weekend. Hot on his heels were Johnny Mirco (Cockburn City) and Stuart Montgomery (Sorrento) who each collected 9% of the vote. Rounding out the field was Swan I.C. veteran Damian Scali (8%), 2005 Golden Boot winner David Onoforo (5%) of Perth and E.C.U. Joondalup captain Ian McMurray (3%). 303 votes were cast in the nine-day polling period.
VELAPHI WANTS STARTING ROLE IN BEIJING
Goalkeeper Tando Velaphi’s fight to represent Australia at the Beijing Olympic Games is far from over. The 21-year old Perth Glory custodian has his heart set on playing more than a supporting role but first must convince coach Graham Arnold to put him between the posts instead of Reading ‘keeper Adam Federici. “I think the whole starting eleven is up for grabs and Arnie has said that,” Velaphi said. “Fedders is a top-quality goalkeeper and he’s not going to make it easy for me. We’re all trying to get in the team - we’re not going there just to be on the bench.”
While Velaphi has played eight matches for the Australian Under-23 side, Federici made his debut only last week in the 2-1 loss to Japan. Australia’s final Olympic warm-up match is against South Korea on Thursday and the make-up of that team should provide a pointer to the likely starting line-up for the Games opener against Serbia on 7th August. A good start against the European Under-21 runner-up will be crucial to Australia’s chances of progressing to the second phase. “In the group format, the first game is always so important. I think three points would put us in good stead,” Velaphi said. Also in the Olyroos qualifying group and defending Olympic champions, Argentina, and the Ivory Coast.
Although recent losses to Japan and China have hardly been confidence boosting, the Glory ‘keeper believes the Olyroos learnt some important lessons during their Asian qualifying path. “We’ve had challenges thrown at us for two years,” Velaphi said. “We’ve played fourteen Olympic qualifying games in all conditions. We qualified through Asia and we understand how the conditions can be sapping and the food might be different. So we’ve got an advantage over players from other countries, who haven’t experienced that. And we’ve been together for two years. I think those two factors will help us.”
HALL OF FAME HONOURS FOR TWENTY-NINE
The contributions of twenty-nine individuals have been recognised through induction into the Football Hall of Fame Western Australia. There was a packed house at the Novotel Langley Hotel on Saturday evening where eleven former players were added to the Hall of Champions. The inaugural Hall of Merit for Players welcomed a further seven players, with eleven coaches, administrators, referees and journalists entered into the Hall of Recognition.
The State's most capped goalkeeper, Robbie Zabica, headed the Hall of Champions inductions. Zabica played 42 times for Australia during a seven-year stay at Adelaide City where he won two National Soccer League crowns and was named the 1992 Goalkeeper of the Year. His career also included stints at Perth Glory and English club Bradford City, and a quartet of State League Goalkeeper of the Year awards.
Shaun Murphy played in excess of 400 senior games for Notts County, West Bromwich Albion, Crystal Palace, Sheffield United and Perth Glory in addition to 20 appearances for Australia. Alistair Edwards donned Socceroo colours 22 times in a globetrotting career that took him to Scotland, England, Malaysia and Australia. Two Gold Medals highlighted the career of Norrie Sutton who collected a vast array of other silverware.
Goalkeeper Tracey Wheeler is Western Australia's most decorated female player, her 49 games for Australia include appearances at the 1995 and 1999 World Cup Finals and the 2000 Olympic Games. Teresa Kozak (now White) played over 40 times for Western Australia and represented Australia in the World Women's Tournament in 1978. Luciana Colangelo (now De Ienno) wore State colours in excess of 50 times during an 18-year career in which she collected eleven League winner's medals.
1985 Gold Medal winner Ronnie Campbell won six championships while playing with Perth Azzurri, Stirling Macedonia and Floreat Athena. Inaugural Perth Glory captain Gareth Naven collected the 1992 Gold Medal while with Perth Italia, and made 22 State team appearances. Craig Naven won a variety of medals and awards during a lengthy career with Perth Italia, gaining State selection on 17 occasions. Goalkeeper Tommy Maras represented the State 21 times and won six League titles.
Harry Boys, who in 1925 became first West Australian-born player to represent Australia, entered into the Hall of Merit for Players. Frank Reid became recognised as one of the best full backs of his generation after arriving in Perth just after World War Two. Gold Medal winner Rene de Koning turned out 28 times at State level, while Geoff Cole played over 640 State League games. Dual Goalkeeper of the Year Dave Roxby and fellow State representatives Alex Senjuschenko and David Kamasz completed the 'Merit' inductions.
The Hall of Recognition welcomed Peter Rickers, who established the State's first specialist football program. Alex McDowall formed the first football club in the Goldfields in 1986, while Alan Robertson initiated a successful football program for children in Newman. Malcolm Brown, Stuart Kamasz and Graham Normanton were recognised for their coaching achievements, and Eric Thomas for 35 years service on the referee front. Roger Smales, Rita Richardson and David Schrandt held a variety of administrative posts, and David Andrews reported on the game for 36 years.
MARINERS GAMBLE ON MRDJA
Nik Mrdja will spend the coming A-League season with Central Coast Mariners after agreeing to a new on-year deal. A trio of injury-dominated seasons has restricted Mrdja to just a handful of appearances for the Mariners, although, when fit the Perth-born striker has proven one of the competitions most uncompromising attacking weapons. Knee concerns have restricted Mrdja to 9 A-League starts over three campaigns, during which time he's netted three goals and and made his Socceroos debut.
With his long-term knee injury now behind him, Mrdja has signed on for another season with the Mariners with the option for a follow-up season in 2009/10. "Nik has been most unfortunate with some quite serious injury concerns, but he has worked extremely hard and to a stringent and specific rehabilitation program for almost six months now to ensure that he will be right to go for the new campaign," said Mariners executive chairman Lyall Gorman. Mrdja's signing takes to ten the number of players who've remainded with the Mariners through all four seasons of the A-League.
WA CONFIRMED AS W-LEAGUE STARTER
The announcement of an eight-team National Women's League has been warmly welcomed by both Football West and Perth Glory. The new competition, confirmed today by Football Federation Australia, is scheduled to commence at the end of October and features teams from Queensland, the Central Coast, Newcastle, Sydney, Melbourne, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory as well as Perth. The Western Australian outfit will play under the Perth Glory banner with day-to-day operations of the team managed by Football West.
It's an exciting time for the women's game according to Football West chief executive Garry Chandler. "The launch of the National Women's League is an exciting and eagerly awaited initiative, which will not only provide a tremendous boost to the women's game at national and state level, but also represents a significant further milestone in the relationship between Perth Glory and Football West" he said. "Given our recent performances at the FFA Girls National Youth Championships (WA finished second in the Under-17's) we should look forward to an exciting and competitive first National Women's League competition."
Perth Glory chief executive Scott Gooch feels confirmation of a women's league to be an important step forward for the game. "Perth Glory has a proud history and we're delighted to add another important component of the football family to our club," he said. "The introduction of a women's league alongside the recently established youth team set-up and our senior men's squad enables a clear pathway for all Western Australian footballers to aspire to the elite level. We will work closely with Football West to ensure the success of the Perth Glory women's team and look forward to seeing them in action this season."
YOUNG LIONS ON CUSP OF GLORY SELECTION
Six Stirling Lions youngsters are in contention for a spot in Perth Glory Youth squad. Coach Gareth Naven has trimmed his squad to fifteen players of which ten will be selected for the inaugural National Youth League season. State defender Dean Evans and his club mates Steve Hesketh, Ludovic Boi, Phil Arnold and Rory Feely along with former Lion Adam Luca, currently with the National Training Centre, are on that shortlist. “It was no surprise to see this group progress through with the lads displaying their talents well in the Stirling Lions senior squad this year,” said Stirling coach Mike Lyons.
CHARACTER PUTS FLOREAT BACK ON COURSE
Floreat Athena have got their quest for back-to-back Premier League titles back on track with a quartet of wins. The inner city club moved into outright second place following yesterdays 4-1 demolition of Fremantle Spirit and trail leader Sorrento by just two points. Despite their slow start to the year, coach Michael Roki never once lost faith in his players and is thrilled with the way they’ve turned their fortunes around. “We were a bit a sluggish out of the box at the start of the season, we played a couple of bad games in which we should have played far better in,” said Roki, whose side were languishing in eighth position this time last month. “When you start to fall behind the teams at the top of the table, there’s a lot of work to do. You have to show character to get back into it. I think the lads have done that in the recent matches, and now we’ve pulled ourselves into second spot. That’s a good sign, but all the tough games are still to come.”
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND FOURTEEN (Sorrento v Stirling Lions courtesy Stirling Lions; Floreat Athena v Fremantle Spirit courtesy Floreat Athena; Perth S.C. v Swan I.C. by Peter Simcox; Cockburn City v Armadale by Mark Rafferty)
Todd Harnwell provided a lesson in finishing by scoring both goals in Sorrento’s 2-0 win against Stirling Lions at Percy Doyle Reserve. The young Lions came out the blocks in an attacking mood as Marc Anthony and Steve Porter combined to deliver the ball to Rory Feely whose shot on the turn was well blocked by Danny Cain. Neil Young was called into action for the first time to keep out a rasping drive from Alan Muir after 9 minutes as the visitors continued their assault. Phil Straker almost gifted Sorrento the lead when his attempted clearance ricocheted off Todd Harnwell and flew past the post. The hosts opened their account after 21 minutes through Harnwell who nodded in Glen Thomas’ cross from the left after Stirling failed on several occasions to clearance the danger. With Cain and Shaun Kilkelly marshalled the defence, and Glen Thomas, James Morgan and Lewis Flatt controlling the flow through the centre Sorrento now took control of proceedings. The pressure proved too great for the visiting defence as on 36 minutes Straker hesitated before coming off his line at Morgan’s long ball and Harnwell nipped in and place into an empty net. Stirling began the second period determined to get on the scoreboard but Anthony’s close-range blast was brilliantly blocked by Young. However, Sorrento soon regained control and a Brodie Martin strike was turned around the post by Straker, while Glen Thomas fired high after a charging run by Cain. The introduction of Phil Arnold and Leo Harman had the desired effect on Stirling, however, it wasn’t until the closing stages that they began to find ways past the defence. Their best chance came via Arnold who created space on the right but his cross was agonisingly wide of both Muir and Harman. Harnwell was presented a chance to complete his hat-trick late on only to be denied by Straker.
Fremantle Spirit were simply not in the same class as Floreat Athena who emerged 4-1 victors from their meeting at Litis Stadium. Brad Scott scored twice, Branimir Mikulic once with the remainder being an own goal in a dominant performance which moved Floreat into outright second place with eight games remaining. The game opened with Vas Vujacic pushing wide a Jason Barerra shot from distance, and at the resulting corner Llewellyn Bake's header was tipped over by the Floreat custodian. Floreat soon gained control and Ante Kovacevic started a smooth move in which Miki Vujacic flicked the ball through to Scott to finish clinically into the bottom corner after 14 minutes. The home supporters were celebrating again within a minute as Daniel Neiderberger's shot struck the post and ricocheted into the net via defender Peter Vukmirovic. Niederberger then created a third goal with a slicing run at the end of which he threaded a pass in to Scott who coolly beat goalkeeper Dane McBride. Fremantle reduced the deficit a minute later through Ben Kelly who capitalised after vas Vujacic lost his footing on the slippery surface. A powerful David Rodgers header crashed into the woodwork as Fremantle sought their second, while Floreat's quest for further goals had Miki Vujacic and Neiderberger both place high. The hosts' dominance continued after the break with Neiderberger slicing wide a clever Kovacevic cross, while Scott was denied his hat-trick by an offside flag just after the hour. Their persistence was rewarded in the 65th minute Mikulic headed powerfully in a terrific corner from Adam Bachillor. And Fremantle's day went from bad to worse two minutes later when reduced to ten men for Cisco Jorquiera's second bookable offence. With this Floreat went into cruise control and although Miki Vujacic, Bachillor and Scott had chances there would be no further addition to the scoreline.
David Onoforo and Greg Sharland were on target to earn Perth S.C. a comfortable 2-0 win over traditional rival Swan I.C. at Dorrien Gardens. However, the three points came at a cost for the Blues who lost star striker Andreas Oliviera to a serious knee injury following a 3rd minute Paul Baczynski tackle. Early chances presented at both ends of the park as a far post cross by Dom Ando evaded Geoff Mason by the narrowest of margins, and minutes later Andrija Jukic headed wide at Antonio Naglieri's corner. Perth got the all important breakthrough after 17 minutes when Sharland picked out Onoforo and with Swan waiting for an offside whistle the striker strode forward to slam in his eleventh goal of the campaign. The visitors a denied a quick reply with Gareth Deeg blocking Mason's shot, Michael Tronchin crashed the rebound into Trent Kay amid appeals for a penalty which referee John Taran dismissed. Swan were next opened up by Onoforo and Peter Lord who was denied a shot by Ando, and shortly after David Price worked his way forward but rifled wide. The pressure valve was released on the half hour by Sharland's curling free-kick into the top corner which came about when Onoforo was felled by Baczynski. It was now all one-way traffic as Jukic flashed the ball on the turn, and Daniel Agudelo's reflexes denied Onoforo the hosts' third. Any hope Swan held of a comeback were dented two minutes from the interval when Baczynski received his second yellow card for a clumsy challenge on Roberto Lujan. A long-range strike by Lord was straight at Agudelo shortly after the re-start, then Jukic fired inches wide as Perth looked to add to their lead. A lot of the spark went out of the game in the final half hour. Onoforo and Jukic were denied by Agudelo, and a rare Swan attack had Deeg saved from Andy O'Neill. The day's final chance resulted from a Naglieri cross which Lujan headed wide.
The points were shared at Nash Field where Western Knights and Inglewood United played out a drab 0-0 draw. Unfortunately, an inability by either side to maintain possession for lengthy periods resulted in a disjointed game that failed to reach any heights as a spectacle. Inglewood were first to threaten through Jamie Mitsopoulos but his volley didn’t cause too much concern for Jakub Chudy, and three minutes later David Micevski blazed high after being teed up by Anthony Skorich. A neat pass by Anthony Fearon put Micevski through with only the goalkeeper to beat but the Knights midfielder drove his shot past the post. Sammut broke free only to get the angles wrong on his low drive from 16-metres, then Chudy was tested for the first time in keeping out a close-range effort by Rodrigo Aguirre as Inglewood began to assert some authority. Barry Devlin should have done better than glance high when found unmarked at a Micevski corner late in the half. Chudy ensured the sides went into the break on level terms by twice denying Jason Colli after he latched on to a pass out of midfield by James Sammut. The second period began on a positive note for the hosts with Micevski and Skorich going close in quick succession. Kevin Griffiths forced a good save out of Chudy as Inglewood made their intentions clear. Josip Perin has been on the park only a few minutes when he played Skorich through but the striker slid his shot wide after getting past Shane Pryce. A quick throw-in by Peran allowed Skorich to make his way down the right and deliver a low cross that Micevski blasted high, much to his disappointment. The Knights went close to snatching a late winner but Cormac Dawson’s cross evaded both Skorich and Matt Allen, then a few minutes later Devlin’s downward header from a Micevski corner was desperately hacked clear close to the goal line.
Cockburn City scored late to grab a dramatic 2-2 draw with Armadale under sunny skies at Dalmatinac Park. Mileta Miletic found the net in the final minute of regulation time to add to Johnny Mirco's first half strike and cancel out goals either side of the break from James Robinson and Ryan Pearson. Armadale were on the back foot from the opening with Anthony Pereira and and Mirco going close to the first goal inside the quarter hour. So it came as no surprise when Cockburn finally broke through on 26 minutes via Mirco who was allowed to go unchallenged before unleashing a blistering shot which had goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock helpless. This stung the visitors into action and the teams were brought level eleven minutes later via a neat exchange in which Gary Faria's perfectly weighted pass found James Robinson who gave young 'keeper Nick Feely no chance from just inside the 18-yard box. A goal line clearance by Kodi Madeley prevented Jason Godfrey from heading Cockburn back into the lead, then right on the stroke of half-time livewire Mirco fired just wide. The crowd were kept on the edge of their seats after the interval by some terrific end-to-end football as the two combatants went looking for the three points. Ryan Pearson sent the ball not too far wide of the target, while at the other end Mirco clipped the crossbar with a fierce drive. Goodwin found the outside of the post, and the timely intervention of Matt Bennion thwarted Mirco as he lined up the target. Armadale had every right to think they'd bagged the winner when Pearson headed Daryl Platten's cross wide of Feely with only a couple of minutes left. But sixty seconds later Miletic was left unmarked at the far post to smash the ball past Sharrock. A home victory was almost snatched with the last action as Miletic's goalbound effort was parried by Sharrock who pounced on the loose ball before substitute Jaime De Abreu had a chance to react.
Mandurah City returned to the winner’s circle by thumping E.C.U. Joondalup 4-0 in a one-sided contest at the Joondalup campus of Edith Cowan University. Christian Paschkewitz, Jeff Bright, Shane Crampton and Phil O’Callaghan shared the goals on a day when the hosts saw out the game with ten men following the red carding of defender Anthony Jones. It took only a couple of minutes for Mandurah to carve out their first chance which Crampton sent high of the crossbar to signal their intentions. Tommy Amphlett worked tireless to drive Joondalup forward but wayward finishing by Scott Bushby and Ian McMurray them the lead. The breakthrough came after 21 minutes when Paschkewitz shot on the turn whizzed pas Koroma Bobson who only moments earlier parried a Crampton header. Chances would be few and far between for the remainder of the half which was almost at an end when Jay Bonser’s free-kick struck the defensive wall and ricocheted to Jeff Bright who fired into the corner of Koroma’s net to double the difference. With the words of coach Chris Nicholson still ringing in their ears, Joondalup launched waves after wave of attack upon the re-start to little effect. They were almost caught out on the hour when Bonser’s quickly taken free-kick from the halfway line narrowly missed the target. It was a warning their failed to listen to as four minutes more passed before Crampton capitalised on a napping defence to put away goal number three. Anthony Jones was dismissed soon after for a reckless challenge on Bright, and the hosts were fortunate not to lose Koroma after capturing a high ball outside his 18-yard box. O’Callaghan out the icing on the cake by bamboozling the defence before curling the ball around a stranded ‘keeper. Paschkewitz could have added another in stoppage time but after being played through shot straight at the ‘keeper.
FIRST DIVISION, ROUND FOURTEEN (Canning City v Rockingham City by Phil Unsworth; Bayswater City v South West Phoenix courtesy South West Phoenix)
Canning City's march towards the First Division championship continued with a 5-2 defeat of Rockingham City at Willetton Sports Club. The win also secured Canning the 'River to the Sea Shield', an inter-club trophy first contested in 2002, for a sixth successive year. It took Canning only 3 minutes to open the scoring through Michael Klaver's low angled drive from just outside the 18-yard box. A surging run out of defence by Duncan Hind took him half the length of the pitch before being foiled by goalkeeper Craig Olejnik. Simon Versaico continued his rich goalscoring vein by heading in Mick Van Dongen's long throw-in just before half-time. Paul Harvey added to the hosts tally early in the second period with a fine shot from the top of the area, and with 52 minutes gone substitute David Mickler put away goal number four from a well-worked corner. Rockingham then enjoy a period on top during which David Nairn drilled a low shot in off the upright, and Andrew Keary further reduced the deficit by blasting into the roof of Devon Spence's net. Canning regained their composure and just before full-time Mickler rounded the defence to cross for Paul Van Dongen to hammer in from 8-metres.
South West Phoenix stretched their unbeaten run to ten games by coming from behind to see off Bayswater City 2-1 at Frank Drago Reserve. The home team came out firing to go ahead with just a couple of minutes on the clock as Tony Cumace swung the ball to the back post where Steve Worthy made no mistake at close-range. Through elegant movement of the ball and the central presence of Scott Campbell and Costa Socratous the hosts totally dominated the opening spell. Damien Todorovic went within inches of doubling the margin when his shot was tipped onto the crossbar by Ryan Montgomery. Phoenix kicked into gear with twenty or so minutes played with long-range strikes by Ryan Binnie and Patrick Quinn signalled their intentions. Steve Suttie’s angled shot forced a good save from Gianni Papalia while late in the half Binnie stole in between three opponents only to head high at a Jonathon Krawec corner. The second half opened with Phoenix on the attack and they deservedly equalised just before the hour when Suttie expertly clipped a free-kick over the defensive wall and into the top corner with Papalia rooted to his line. The relentless pressure applied by Quinn, Binnie and James Bergin paid dividends with three minutes left as Quinn drew the defence before slotting to Suttie who slid the ball past Papalia from 14-metres.
Wanneroo City overturned a two-goal deficit to defeat Queens Park 3-2 at Kingsway Sporting Complex. Queens Park looked to be cruising after Lucas Whitehouse and Grant Learmont gave them a comfortable buffer, however, Wanneroo fought back to take maximum points through Ben Yates’ double and a Brad MacDonald strike. Mohamed Bangura scored shortly after coming off the bench to earn Dianella White Eagles a 1-0 win against Gosnells City at Dianella Reserve. The points were shared at Graham Burkett Reserve where Balcatta and Forrestfield ended in a 1-1 draw. Jordan Hart put the visitors ahead after 63 minutes but that was cancelled out just sixty seconds later when Igor Novakovic converted a penalty. Morley Windmills scored just their fourth win of the campaign by dumping Ashfield 3-0 at Ashfield Reserve. Bobby Irving broke the deadlock minutes after the interval with Eddie Walsh securing the points with a double. Further details of these four games were not forthcoming from any of the eight participating clubs.
VICTORY TRIUMPH AGAINST GLORY
Melbourne Victory have edged out Perth Glory 1-0 in a solid pre-season Cup hit-out at Members Equity Stadium. Michael Thwaite scored the only goal of the game, taking advantage of a static Perth defence early in the first half. Although disappointed at not taking anything from the game, coach David Mitchell felt it provided another useful opportunity to tinker with the line-up ahead of the season proper. "Obviously it is disappointing to lose the game but we've learnt a lot from that performance," he said. "We wanted to play a few players in different positions and it probably did interfere with our cohesion but this is what the pre-season competition is about for us and I know we can improve significantly."
Glory were twice let off the hook early on with Frank Juric's attempted clearance ricocheting wide after hitting Ney Fabiano, and shortly after Danny Allsopp shot past the post. The visitors waited only until the 11th minute before going ahead as Evan Berger picked out an unmarked Thwaite who made no mistake heading past an exposed goalkeeper. Glory's first shot on target arrived after 33 minutes with Jamie Coyne forcing a response from Michael Theoklitos. Two minutes later Mark Lee drove the ball straight at Theoklitos but it was Victory who finished the stronger and chances for Berger and Nick Ward.
The game picked up where it had left off as Fabiano slipped a shot wide under pressure from David Tarka, and Juric deflected wide Allsopp's effort after 64 minutes. Victory dropped their intensity after this, allowing Glory an increased slice of possession. The hosts best chance arrived in the 76th minute as Dino Djulbic and Nick Rizzo combined down the left with the former's cross finding James Downey but his shot lacked power and didn't trouble replacement 'keeper Mitchell Langerak. Djulbic was provider again three minutes later for Adrian Trinidad who fired well high of the crossbar. Further opportunities came the way of Adriano Pellegrino and Downey but with neither able to convert Victory collected the points.
OLYROOS FALL TO LAST GASP WINNER IN JAPAN
A goal in the closing minutes has earned Japan a 2-1 win over the Australian Olympic team in yesterday’s friendly at Home’s Stadium in Kobe, Japan. The match looking destined to end in a draw before an 89th minute shot by substitute Shinji Okazaki deflected the ball in to give the host nation victory. The even opening was punctuated on 34 minutes when Nikita Rukavytsya took on two defenders and squared for an unmarked Archie Thompson to run the ball into the 18-yard box and slide his shot underneath the advancing goalkeeper Kaito Yamamoto. Japan equalised seven minutes later through Shinji Kagawa who received possession from Takayuki Morimoto and pushed the ball into the corner of Adam Federici’s net from 9-metres.
Kristian Sarkies came close to restoring Australia’s lead soon after the start of the second half but his near post flick from a Billy Celeski cross drew a fine reflex save from Yamamoto. The two sides then traded opportunities but rare was it that either goalkeeper was called into action, and it wasn’t until the final twenty minutes that the game really came to life as both coaches brought fresh legs off the bench. In the 89th minute Hiroyuki Taniguchi sent a speculative cross into a crowded area which Okazaki deflected past an unsighted Federici, the ball hitting the inside of the post before crossing the line to decide the game. Rukavytsya and Nikolai Topor-Stanley played full games with Tando Velaphi an unused substitue.
MATILDA'S WILT UNDER PRESSURE FROM JAPAN
The Australian women’s teams have been defeated 3-0 by Japan in yesterday’s friendly at the Home’s Stadium in Kobe, Hong Kong. Japan had the better of the opening exchanges but were frustrated in their attempts to take the lead by goalkeeper Lydia Williams. Unfortunately, there was little Williams could do two minutes from the break when an unmarked Homare Sawa headed in a cross from Aya Miyama. In the 47th minute Yuki Nagasato beat the offside trap, turned Brooke Spence and fired between replacement ‘keeper Melissa Barbieri and her near post. With five minutes to go, Caitlin Munoz’ foul on Karina Maruyama resulted in a Japanese penalty which Maruyama converted by sending Barbieri the wrong way. Lydia Williams played the opening half, and Lisa De Vanna was replaced after 78 minutes.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
The pick of Round Fourteen is the northern suburbs meeting of E.C.U. Joondalup and Mandurah City (3.00pm). Joondalup will want to give a rousing send-off to defender Craig Simpson and there's no better way to say ‘farewell’ than by collecting three points. Team captain Ian McMurray leads by example in the final third where he’s benefited greatly from the service of Tommy Amphlett and Scott Bushby. Mandurah are looking to rebound from successive losses and coach Stuart Currie would take great pleasure from defeating the club he was dumped by a couple of years back. Phil O’Callaghan’s stellar season has so far returned 14 goals, and with Jeff Bright, Andy Brown and Dale McCulloch in good form they have every right to fancy their chances.
Table-toppers Sorrento welcomes Stirling Lions to Percy Doyle Reserve (3.00pm). The Gulls haven’t been defeated in close to two months and with home ground advantage it’s no surprise they’ve been installed as pre-match favourite. Todd Harnwell and Stuart Montgomery have already netted in excess of 35 goals this year thanks to a fertile midfield that includes rising stars Scott Neville and Lewis Flatt. Not a lot has gone to plan for Stirling in 2008 but last weeks defeat of Inglewood United has instilled a whole new sense of confidence in a very young side. Dean Evans is one of the local scene’s brightest teenage prospects and his influence along with that of Jordan Rhodes, Ludovic Boi and Marc Anthony will go a long way to determining this game.
Reigning champion Floreat Athena are expected to maximum points from their meeting with cellar dweller Fremantle Spirit at Litis Stadium (3.00pm). Floreat have put behind them a flat start to their title defence to surge up the table and intensify the pressure in the top five. Coach Michael Roki will no doubt be pleased with Jovo Pavlovic’s defensive contributions this season alongside veteran Ante Kovacevic. Fremantle are desperate need of points and a draw last weekend with Cockburn City has given them a glimmer of hope of staving off relegation. David Rodgers marked his first team return by scoring in that game and again has a key role to play along with Callum Roberts and Jason Barrera.
Inglewood United makes the difficult journey to Nash Field where they face a Western Knights outfit on the improve (3.00pm). The return of star striker Anthony Skorich, midfield maestro Luka Jukic and goalkeeper Kevin Miller bolsters the options available to coach Ronnie Campbell. David Annall was the star performer in last week’s loss to E.C.U. Joondalup where Mario Marcinko and Daniel Micevski both left the field early through injury. Loss at Stirling Lions last week provided Inglewood a timely reminder of what it means to be a serious title contender. James Sammut has been a revelation in the centre of the park during his rookie season alongside Michael Baczynski, while Matt Wardle continues to impress at the back.
The traditional derby between Perth S.C. and Swan I.C. takes place at Dorrien Gardens (3.00pm). Perth will want to balance the ledge after being thumped by four goals when the clubs met earlier in the year. There’s been no shortage of goals for David Onoforo and Andreas Oliviera thanks largely to the creativity of Greg Sharland, Andrija Jukic and the like. Swan’s early season form has gone AWOL of late, leaving coach Paul Lincoln scratching his head in wonder. Aaron Cole and Dom Ando return to the club where he both grew up on a day when Swan are likely to be without as many as six first team regulars through injury and suspension.
Armadale face a difficult road trip when they play Cockburn City at Dalmatinac Park (3.00pm). Cockburn are still hurting from being held by Fremantle Spirit where defensive frailties - they’ve conceded 16 ties in four weeks - were once again their undoing. Jason Godfrey will hopefully be reunited with defensive partner Liam Lilly as Johnny Mirco and Mileta Miletic seek out the best route to goal. Armadale came back from the dead to earn a draw at Sorrento last time out so will be confident of getting a result at Cockburn. The defensive contributions of Matt Bennion, Mark Darby and Shannon Dally have been a major part of the Reds recent run of good form.
ANDO KEEPS FAITH
Veteran defender Dom Ando remains confident Swan I.C. can turn things around amid the club’s dramatic tumble down the table. The black and whites' strong start to the home and away series has come apart at the seams to spiral the club from third to ninth. "We’ve now lost four in a row and it’s not going to get any easier,” said Ando, now in his third season at Swan. “This week we have David Perich, Alex Cocking and Danyal Bennett suspended, and Corey Hugo and Damian Scali are both rated only a 50-50 chance to play due to injury ... that takes a lot of experience out of the side.”
Saturday's 3-0 loss to Floreat Athena leaves Swan still looking for their first away win of the campaign. “I don’t think Floreat were that much better than us, and certainly not three goals as the scoreline indicated,” Ando said. “We played well and created a couple of opportunities in the first half but Damian Scali came off injured at half-time which unsettled the centre of midfield, then Danyal Bennett’s sending off in the second half didn’t help matters. We were all a bit frustrated and down after the game but we’ll pick ourselves up in time for next weekend.”
Although Swan now sits firmly in the bottom half of the table, Ando says there have been plenty of positives from the winter so far. “The season in general has not been too bad for us. We’ve proved a few people wrong and are still in reach of the top four; we just have to believe in ourselves,” Ando commented. “The difference this season is that the young talent coming through the ranks has matured and are performing well. We are blending well together as a unit and that got us the results earlier in the season - what we have to do now is perform consistently to that level.”
The black and whites have a tough assignment on Saturday by visiting traditional rival Perth S.C., who they trounced 4-0 earlier in the year. “I’m sure they’d want something back after our first round meeting so we expect a grudge match,” said Ando, who played 18 years at Perth, from juniors right through to first team. “It’s the so-called derby between the two Italian clubs but at the end of the day it’s eleven verses eleven and anything could happen. We have to keep positive and do our best with what we have available. If we work hard we can get a result that keeps us within reach of the top four.”
WARD VOWS TO BOUNCE BACK
Nick Ward has broken a long silence to speak about how being omitted from Graham Arnold's Olympic squad almost lead him to giving football away. A pivotal player on Australia's qualification trail for Beijing, Ward is still coming to terms with failing to make the final 18-man cut. But the 23-year old midfielder has vowed to bounce back by having a stand-out season for Melbourne Victory, winning his way into Socceroos contention and eventually returning to Europe to show his failure to make the grade with Queens Park Rangers was merely an aberration.
Such was Ward's initial distress at missing the Olympics that he found it hard to return to club training. "I was there for the entire qualification campaign and it was gutting not to be picked after a three-year process," said Ward, who sprung to prominence with Perth Glory. "It took a while to pull myself back together - I didn't even want to go to training, the motivation to play just wasn't there. It was a massive down for me. For four or five days I just kept to myself, turned my phone off and only really talked to my family. I felt I played a part in getting us there and it was tough not be recognised for that."
Ward attributes his missing out on an Olympic Games berth to a drawn out selection process by coach Arnold. "He knows all of us and a decision could have been made a lot sooner," he said. "I missed a couple of camps (through injury and Asian Champions League committments) and when I returned to join the squad I felt on the outer. I'd gone from being a starting player to being a bit on the fringes, but I was still confident I would make the side. I'd got on top of a groin injury, passed all the beep tests but it just wasn't good enough. I'm now going to make sure I gave a good season and show Graham Arnold he was wrong not to pick me."
The A-League off-season has allowed Victory coach Ernie Merrick to fine tune his line-up which Ward now considers to be in the same class as that which won the title in 2007. "I think we're in for a really good year this year," predicted Ward. "We nearly sneaked into the finals last time and had we I think we'd have gone on to win it." He puts the club's failure to progress beyond the group stage of the Asian Champions League down to the loss through injury of star striker Archie Thompson and Costa Rican import Carlos Hernandez.
Victory went down to Adelaide United in last weekend's opening round of the pre-season Cup but Ward is confident they can get things right on Saturday against his former club. With a knack for scoring important goals, the midfielder has set himself a target of at least six this season. "I think that's achievable. I plan to shake things up this year. I'm also after that elusive Socceroos cap," said Ward, who made the bench against Bahrain last year. "I've been involved in some Socceroos camps under Pim Verbeek but my injury (groin) went against me. But I haven't given up - being a Socceroo is still a big goal for me."
Daniel Micevski will spend the next six weeks on the sidelines after fracturing his ankle. The Western Knights playmaker sustained the injury while contesting possession late in the weekend loss at E.C.U. Joondalup. Daniel’s ankle fracture completes what has been a frustrating year injury-wise for the Micevski boys after younger brother David missed the opening weeks of the regular season with torn ankle ligaments.
Alan Muir will be hoping he doesn't attract too much attention from match referees in the second half of the season. The Stirling Lions midfielder has only just returned from a two-game suspension after accumulating a staggering seven yellow cards in the first nine games of the campaign. Stirling supporters will be pleased to know Muir completed recent games against Western Knights and Inglewood United without incident.
The imminent departure of Craig Simpson will leave E.C.U. Joondalup with a very big hole to fill in their backline. Simpson, 22, makes his final appearance for Joondalup against Mandurah City on Saturday after which he leaves for the United States to commence a two-year physical education scholarship. The quick-thinking central defender has been one of the clubs stand out players since heading north on the eve of the home and away series.
Perth Glory Youth crushed the National Training Centre squad 7-1 in Wednesday evenings training match at Dorrien Gardens. The first half was controlled by the NTC who showed some neat touches in the slippery conditions. But a rash of changes at the break by Gareth Naven swung the game in Glory's favour as substitutes Ryan Pearson (2), Jason Barerra (2) and David Price found the back of the net along with Phil Arnold and Callum Roberts.
Fremantle Spirit’s success at youth development could have the unexpected consequence of ensuring the clubs relegation to the First Division. Two of the clubs brightest young prospects, Callum Roberts and Jason Barerra, are amongst those players vying for a spot in Perth Glory’s Youth team. It will almost certainly spell the end of Fremantle’s brief return to the top flight should the attack-minded pair both land a Glory deal.
Honours were even at 1-1 in the Round Seven catch-up game between between Ashfield and Dianella White Eagles on Tuesday evening. A first half finish by Martin Kelly put Ashfield in the box seat only for Dianella to earn a draw from a lacklustre match through Steven Cowbrough. The outcome could well have been much different if not for the heroics of Dianella goalkeeper Matthew Battigelli whose agility kept his side in the game.
LEE THRILLED WITH GLORY OPPORTUNITY
Mark Lee is focused on making the most of his opportunities as a full-time professional with Perth Glory. The versatile left-sided player put pen to paper on a one-year contract in May and has since been doing all he can to keep himself in the forethoughts of coach David Mitchell. "My main goal is to work hard everyday and play as many games as possible," said Lee, who made eight appearances for the club in two previous loan spells. "If I know I've given 100% and have been consistent when given the opportunity to play then I'll be happy."
Lee, 29, first experienced life as a professional football while at Scarborough and Hibernian in the mid-1990's. "I was 16 when I started playing full time and really enjoyed the opportunity I was given," commented Lee, who can not think of anything other than playing or working in football as a career. "Turning professional again has given me the chance to concentrate on training and playing, and to better myself as a player. Quite simply - playing football is the best job in the world!"
After half a dozen years on the local scene with Swan I.C., Western Knights, Bayswater City and E.C.U. Joondalup, Lee is well aware of the potential that exists in the State League. "There are quite a few players in the State League who'd be more than capable of stepping up to the next level, all they need is the chance to hone their skills in a full-time environment," Lee commented. "Obviously, when you are semi-pro you have work and other commitments which prevent you from devoting as much time as you'd like to your preparation and training."
Glory's recent trip to Indonesia, where they defeated Super League clubs Persik Kediri and Deltras Sidoarjo, served to build cohesion and confidence within the squad. "The trip was excellent and helped us establish a really close team relationship," said Lee. "We played in front of a big crowd against Persik and the results we achieved while in Indonesia has given everybody confidence for the season ahead. All involved with the club are looking forward to the season starting and showing what we can do against the best players in the country."
JURIC WANTS SOCCEROOS JERSEY
Returning to Australia is Frank Juric's first step towards working his way back into the national set-up. The veteran goalkeeper played twice for Australia in the mid-90's and while he'd love nothing more than to don the Socceroos jersey again, his first priority is to help Glory make the A-League finals. "We've got team goals and, first of all, that's a top four finish with the club so we can make the finals," Juric said. "Personal goals - I've actually come back so I can increase my chances of playing in the Australian national team. I always had a goal to come back to play in Australia for a few more years."
Juric faces stiff opposition from club legend Jason Petkovic and Olyroo custodian Tando Velaphi for the goalkeeping gloves at club level. His claim to a starting berth is strengthened by a wealth of experience accumulated from a decade in Germany with Fortuna Dusseldorf, Bayer Leverkusen and Hannover 96. He's represented Australia at under-20 and under-23 levels, including the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and stood between the posts in UEFA Champions League competition for Leverkusen.
Juric will make his Glory debut against his hometown club Melbourne Victory this weekend. "It's been a long time between drinks," Juric recalled. "The last time I played here in Australia, I think, was the season I had at Collingwood Warriors. It's been a good eleven years and I'm excited to play actually against my hometown. I've never played for Melbourne Victory before, even though it is my hometown club ... but I know a few of the boys that are playing for Melbourne at the moment so it will be interesting to play against them again."
GLORY RADAR TRACKS SKORICH
Western Knights' Anthony Skorich is poised to join Perth Glory for the inaugural National Youth League season. The promising young striker has been in terrific touch during a lengthy trial with Glory which culminated with an appearance off the bench in the weekend Cup clash with A-League champions Newcastle Jets. "I've been watching him for quite a while and he's a very good talent," coach David Mitchell said. "He's a good young player and he's already shown us that he's got an eye for goals." The National Youth League season kicks-off in conjunction with the A-League next month.
GULLS TIPPED FOR THE TITLE
A revitalised Sorrento are red-hot favourite to finish the job they've started and win the 2008 Premier League crown. At least that's the opinion of footballwa.net readers who voted the Gulls number one in response to 'Who will be on top of the Premier League table at the end of Round 22?' Over 200 votes were cast in last week's footballwa.net poll with Sorrento scooping 32% of the count. A distant second were Inglewood United (15%), currently placed second, with reigning champion Floreat Athena (14%) nipping at their heels. In fourth place were Cockburn City (11%), followed closely by Perth S.C. (9%) and newly promoted Mandurah City (7%). Swan I.C. (5%), E.C.U. Joondalup (4%) and Stirling Lions (3%) completed the field.
MILLER POISED TO RE-JOIN GLORY
Former Perth Glory defender Scott Miller has joined a growing list of ex-stars hoping to steer the club back to the pinnacle of the domestic game. Miller, who helped Glory win back-to-back National Soccer League titles, has been assisting inaugural captain Gareth Naven preparing for the club’s assault on the National Youth League, which kicks off in conjunction with the A-League season next month.
Although he is yet to officially commit to the role as youth team assistant, Miller indicated he was keen to work alongside Naven, who is already making his mark on the youth ranks. “Gareth, for me, was the perfect choice because he’s a good coach, he’s a leader and he’s great with the kids,” Miller said. “He asked me to be his assistant and I was very happy to get on board and help out.”
Miller, who played 227 times for the club in a decade-long career, said he had been impressed with the application of the young players, several of whom would soon be pressing for a senior call-up. “I’ve got a lot of admiration for the way the boys have gone about things,” he said. “They’ve all done the hard work and it just shows how ambitious the young boys are.”
STATE AMATEUR TEAM BACK ON THE AGENDA
Football West has resurrected of the amateur State team after an absence of more than five years. The decision to bring back the representative side will give over 5,000 amateur players the opportunity to pull on their State’s colours’ and comes on the heels of the return of the semi-professional State team. Expressions of interest for a suitably qualified coach have been called for by Football West with details of games to be announced in due course.
The decision to reinstate the amateur State team shows the commitment the governing body has to the thousands of Sunday league players according to Football West board member Rob MacKay. "Football West are highly committed to the development of the amateur game in this state and we hope that the return of the state side will give our best players in these leagues something to aspire to," he said. "With the high standard of games we have seen this year, positions in the squad will be highly sought after and extremely competitive."
CHINA DEFEATS OLYMPIANS
The Australian Olympic team went down to China PR 0-1 in yesterday's friendly at the Changchun City Stadium, Changchun. While disappointed with the outcome, coach Graham Arnold was happy with the commitment of his players. "You never like to lose a match, but there were plenty of positives for us and also plenty of things to work on in the lead up to the Olympics," he said. "The purpose of these matches was to get acclimatised to the conditions that we are likely to face in Shanghai for our opening match. As host nation, China has had a good preparation leading into the match and I expect them to go well in the tournament."
Played in warm and humid conditions, China had the better of first half opportunities with Han Peng rifling high of the crossbar and Gao Lin thwarted in a one-on-one with Tando Velaphi. The teams traded attacks after the break and Nikita Rukavytsya went closest to levelling but was unable to beat goalkeeper Qiu Shengjong. China grabbed the lead on 78 minutes when Zhao Xuri slotted inside the upright after receiving the ball from a goalmouth scramble. Dong Fangzhou was prevented the hosts second by Velaphi, while just before full-time Mark Bridge stung the gloves of Qiu Shengjong to deny Australia the equaliser. Velaphi and Nikolai Topor-Stanley played full games with Rukavytsya introduced off the bench on 57 minutes.
JOEYS CROWNED ASEAN CHAMPIONS
Australia have won the ASEAN Under-16 Youth Championship by out-gunning Bahrain 5-4 in a nail-biting penalty shoot-out at the Lebak Bulus Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia.. It was only right that Kerem Bulut, Australia’s leading goalscorer at the ten-nation tournament, bagged the deciding goal to earn the Joeys silverware. Australia had earlier completed the group phase without defeat after seeing off challenges from Bahrain, Indonesia and Malaysia before drawing with Singapore. Western Australian were represented at the tournament by striker Million Butshiire and defender Trent Sainsbury, both of the National Training Centre.
The Joeys commenced the tournament by coming from behind to defeat Bahrain 2-1 on Wednesday 9th July. Bahrain took the lead after 20 minutes through Sayed Dhiya Saeed who came out on top in a one-on-one situation with goalkeeper Robert Kolak. Kamal Ibrahim brought the sides level in the 34th minute with a close-range tap after being set-up by Million Butshiire. Both sides went looking for the winner after the break with Australia finding it after 87 minutes via Jared Lum’s penalty conversion following Sayed Hashem Adnan Mahfood’s foul on Kerem Bulut. Trent Sainsbury played a full game with Million Butshiire replaced in the 87th minute.
A 6-0 spanking of host nation Indonesia to days later went a long way to earning Australia a semi-final appearance. Brendan Hamil opened the scoring on the quarter hour and ten minutes later Kerem Bulut converted a Nikola Stanojevic cross. So when Tedros Yabio netted a Stanojevic cross on 32 minutes the game was effectively over. The margin became four shortly after the break when Kamal Ibrahim’s cross was turned in by defender Muhammad Abduh Lestaluhu. Ibrahim netted at close-range on the hour, and seven minutes from the end Joseph Costa added himself to the scoresheet. Million Butshiire played a full game with Trent Sainsbury an unused substitute.
Kamal Ibrahim and Kerem Bulut scored twice each in the second half as Australia demolished Malaysia 4-1. After a scoreless first half, Ibrahim the gave the Joeys a 52nd minute lead with a terrific solo goal in which he charged into the 18-yard box, rounded the last defender and blasted past the ‘keeper in a one-on-one. Four minutes later Ibrahim headed in a precise cross from Nathan Farrell, but Malaysia hit back on the hour through Devandrn Saarvindran. Joseph Costa’s cross in the 83rd minute was headed in by Bulut who, with the final whistle just moments away, netted for a second time with a close-range tap in. Both Million Butshiire and Trent Sainsbury were unused substitutes.
Australia closed the group stage by drawing 1-1 with Singapore. The only goal of the first half arrived after 41 minutes when Kerem Bulut headed in a Koh Satake corner. Muhammad Muhaymin Salim equalised for Singapore soon after the start of the second half, scoring from close-range on the counterattack. The Joeys proceeded to dominate the remainder of the match, creating numerous scoring opportunities but with a match winner eluding them Singapore held out for the draw. The result secured Australia top spot on the qualifying table and a showdown with either Bahrain or Malaysia in the tournament final. Million Butshiire played the opening 72 minutes with Trent Sainsbury an unused substitute.
Goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas and striker Kerem Bulut emerged as Australia’s heroes in the final where penalties were required to down Bahrain. With the score locked at four-all after five penalties, Thomas saved the first of Bahrain’s sudden death penalties before Bulut blasted his shot past the Bahraini ‘keeper to settle the final. A tight first half ended in Bahrain’s favour courtesy of a terrific goal on the counter-attack that was finished by Ali Muneer. Australia sparked into action after the break but it wasn’t until the 83rd minute that substitute Marc Warren met a Kamal Ibrahim corner and looping his header over the ‘keeper for a deserved equaliser. Million Butshiire came off the bench after 65 minutes.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND THIRTEEN (Stirling Lions v Inglewood United by Peter Simcox; Armadale v Sorrento by Kerry Slater)
Stirling Lions pulled off one of the surprise results of 2008 by toppling Inglewood United 4-2 on a glorious Sunday afternoon at Macedonia Park. The loss brought to an end Inglewood’s six-game winning run and more importantly denied them top spot on the Premier League table. An all-action start had both teams created some good openings as Rory Feely flashed past the post after being released by Jordan Rhodes, while at the other end a Mladen Kovacevic lobbed landed on the top netting. Inglewood were just finding their rhythm when Jordan Rhodes’ defence-splitting pass released Rory Feely who netted at the second opportunity after goalkeeper Oliver Taseski blocked his initial shot. Unperturbed, the visitors continued to go about their business in an orderly fashion with James Sammut Michael and Baczynski showing some neat touches in the middle. They deservedly were back on level terms after 37 minutes when Baczynski fired in from 7-metres after Sammut’s shot was blocked by Chris Harlond on the line. Stirling quickly reasserted themselves on the game and five minutes later were back in front thanks to a terrific move started and finished by Steve Porter which also featured Rhodes and Feely. Then just another couple of minutes elapsed when Feely provided the ball to Ludovic Boi who raced clear to apply a clinical finish past Taseski. The second half opened with Inglewood in an attacking frame of mind with Mladen Kovacevic testing Straker, and a low shot by Sammut was just wide after good approach work from John Davite. They were rewarded on 62 minutes when Mladen Kovacevic sent Straker the wrong way from the penalty spot after a handball decision went against Dean Evans. But within four minutes their hopes were dashed as great work down the right by Boi took him past Davite before delivering a cross which was spilled by Taseski and Leo Harman was positioned well to net at close-range. There were further openings created by both sides – Straker denying Kevin Griffiths, and Boi crashing the ball into the woodwork – before referee Michael Tolmie whistled for the final time.
League leader Sorrento let slip a two-goal advantage to share the points at 2-2 with Armadale at Alfred Skeet Oval. The Gulls looked to have the game sewn up at half-time courtesy of Todd Harnwell and Stuart Montgomery, however, Armadale aren't a team to under-estimate as evidence by goals in quick succession from Daryl Platten and Ryan Pearson. It was a lively start from the home team who almost took a 3rd minute lead after James Robinson flicked on a low cross which Nao Oishi pushed into the side netting. Cyril Sharrock ensured the teams remained level shortly after by saving a penalty taken by Stuart Montgomery, who was bundled over after turning his marker. Montgomery made amends inside a minute by sending the ball to Brodie Martin whose cross from the left was fired in by Harnwell. Armadale's day worsened in the 29th minute with Scott Devine's dismissal for handling a Harnwell header on the line, then Montgomery rubbed salt into the wound by converting from the spot. Although by far the dominant force, Sorrento struggled against a well-drilled backline consisting of Matt Bennion, Mark Darby and Shannon Dally. Platten breathed new life into the contest on 48 minutes by slamming into the roof of the net a rebound from Dally's free-kick. Gary Faria laid on the equaliser six minutes later by crossing for an unmarked Pearson to power his header past State custodian Neil Young. Appeals for what would have been third penalty for the hosts were dismissed by referee Ton Klaver after Harnwell appeared to be tripped when chasing down Lewis Flatt's long ball. Shaun Kilkelly thought he'd grabbed Sorrento a winner by sending the ball into Sharrock's net on 79 minutes, but his effort was disallowed by an offside flag. The Reds 'keeper came to their rescue shortly before the final whistle when he spectacularly tipped Harnwell's goalbound header around the post.
Bottom side Fremantle Spirit surprisingly held Cockburn City to a 2-2 draw in the local derby encounter at Wauhop Park. Johnny Mirco and Dom De Felice found the target for Cockburn either side of David Rodgers’ instinctive finish and a late own goal which the port side a much-needed point. A bouncy surface made for an at times scrappy first half in which both sides grafted hard for possession without creating a great deal I the way of chances on goal. The first opening came via Callum Roberts who elegantly sliced his way through the defence only to drill a rising shot just over of the crossbar. With 29 minutes elapsed Fremantle took the lead as Roberts unleashed a fierce shot which stung the gloves of Nick Feely and David Rodgers squeezed the loose ball in from an acute angle. But the lead would last all of two minutes before Anthony Periera threaded a pass through for Johnny Mirco who lashed his shot between goalkeeper Steve Grant and his near post. The second half was a much livelier affair that opened with Johnny Mirco slamming high at close-range. Llewellyn Bake was the provider on 55 minutes for Rodgers to head against the bar, and shortly after Johnny Mirco rifled a free-kick narrowly past the post. Cockburn’s enterprise was rewarded on 74 minutes when De Felice sent the ball wide to Johnny Mirco and maintained his course towards goal to receive a low return cross that the midfielder blasted into the net. Like earlier, it would be a short-lived lead as a contentiously awarded free-kick taken by Jason Barerra crashed into defender Adam Surjan and ricocheted past his own ‘keeper. This set up a pulsating final few minutes in which the respective defences were under intense pressure as play streamed from one end of the park to the other. The game was deep in stoppage time when Roberts went within inches of snatching Fremantle victory with a shot that flashed just wide of the post.
Floreat Athena continued their winning run by trouncing Swan I.C. 3-0 at Litis Stadium. James Isaia, Jovo Pavlovic and Miki Vujacic got the goals to move Floreat into second place and keep alive plans of defending their Premier League title. A bumpy surface had both sides concede possession regularly early on with shots on goal at a premium. Floreat were by far the more enterprising going forward and should have taken the lead on the quarter hour but Isaia blazed high at close-range after being found by a Miki Vujacic free-kick. The break through didn’t arrive until ten minutes before half-time when Jarred Smith’s free-kick fell to Isaia who was allowed time and space to drill into the bottom corner from the top of the 18-yard box. Floreat very nearly had their second minutes later but on this occasion Daniel Agudelo was at full-stretch to deny Daniel Niderberger. The second half was dominated by the hosts whose next opening came from a long-range strike by Dean Apelgren that was brilliantly kept out of the top corner by Agudelo. Swan briefly flickered to life as Alex Cocking was sent clear but the young striker hesitated just long enough for Jovo Pavlovic to block the shot. Apelgren threatened to add to the hosts tally again with a vicious shot from 15-metres which Agudelo tipped away. In the 63rd minute Miki Vujacic’s corner was punched by Agudelo but only as far as Pavlovic who made no mistake with his close-range finish. Any faint hopes Swan had of a late comeback were dashed in the 74th minute when Danyal Bennett was dismissed after being shown his second yellow card in a couple of minutes. Even so, the black and whites rallied to create a rare chance via Dom Ando whose free-kick was punched off the head of Aaron Cole by Vas Vujacic. The points were made safe with nine minutes remaining courtesy of Isaia’s superb pass which had Swan ball watching and permitted Miki Vujacic to go clear and tuck his shot past Agudelo.
Perth S.C. produced arguably their most polished performance of the season to dismiss Mandurah City 3-1 under lights at the Hyundai Stadium. Andreas Oliviera scored twice and David Onoforo once for the visitors with former Perth striker Shane Crampton bagging Mandurah’s consolation. Oliviera waited only a few minutes before playing a tidy one-two with Andrija Jukic to go past the defence whose blushes were saved by the quick thinking of Mike Green. Perth maintained the pressure to win a free-kick which Gianfranco Circati fizzled wide of the upright. Mandurah’s failure to heed these warning had dire consequences in the 12th minute when Onoforo’s shot was blocked by Green and in the blink of an eye Oliviera had netted the loose ball. On the half Jukic pumped a long the ball out of midfield to an unmarked Onoforo who’s deft flick looped over the on-coming goalkeeper to increase the margin. It was only now that Mandurah began to find their rhythm and their best chance came just before the interval via a fierce strike from Jeff Bright which Gareth Deeg did well to save. The second half began with Mandurah determined to open their account and only a superb instinctive save by Deeg prevented Phil O’Callaghan from doing just that. Antonio Naglieri was unlucky not to add a third to Perth’s tally by meeting Greg Sharland’s cross from the right but his neat flick was kept out by Green. The Mandurah custodian came to the rescue again soon after by moving sharply to save a low Naglieri free-kick that exploded through the defensive wall. With 78 minutes gone Crampton pounced on Michael Icanovski’s poor touch to fire Mandurah back into the game. For a few minutes it appeared Mandurah may just sneak a late equaliser, however, stubborn defending by Trent Kay, Circati and Icanovski made sure Deeg wasn’t required. Perth made sure of the points soon after courtesy of Oliviera who’s header from a Todd Howarth was beyond the reach of Green.
E.C.U. Joondalup ended their form slump by defeating Western Knights 3-2 at the Joondalup campus of Edith Cown University. Tommy Jones’ late winner added to neat finishes by Craig Young and Garin Collins that cancelled out a rare brace by defender David Annall. An entertaining contest opened with both sides showing a great deal of enterprise as they pushed forward in search of the first goal. A searching pass into the 18-yard box by Tommy Amphellt on 23 minutes had the desired effect for Joondalup as Ian McMurray tamed the ball before laying it into the path of Craig Young who found himself in space to convert. Going behind had a galvanising effect on the visitors who stepped up the pace to dominate the remainder of the half. Stuart Ferguson had a great chance to level but headed Daniel Micevski’s corner against the post, while Mario Marcinko forced a fine save from Bobson Koroma after meeting an Ivan Gavranic cross. Their persistence was rewarded three minutes after the break when Annall was deemed to have headed Daniel Micevski’s corner over the line. The game didn’t really come to life until the 65th minute when Garin Collins showed great composure to fire past goalkeeper Jakub Chudy after receiving a low cross from Amphlett. Parity was restored within five minutes as Koroma was caught in no mans land at a David Micevski’s free-kick, allowing Annall to head into an unguarded net. Only another couple of minutes passed before a defensive blunder left the Knights exposed and Tommy Jones poked his shot past the advancing ‘keeper after being played through by McMurray. The afternoon ended sourly for Knights playmaker Daniel Micevski when he limped from the field with a fractured ankle after tangling with an opponent. With the ball racing from one end to the other, both teams had their chances to add further goals before referee Hugh Best blew for the final time.
FIRST DIVISION, ROUND THIRTEEN (Canning City v Bayswater City by Phil Unsworth; Queens Park v South West Phoenix courtesy South West Phoenix; Gosnells City v Wanneroo City courtesy Gosnells City; Morley Windmills v Dianella White Eagles courtesy Dianella White Eagles)
Canning City ended the title hopes of Bayswater City by recording a 3-2 win from their meeting at Willetton Sports Club. The result effectively turns the battle for promotion into a two-horse race between Canning and South West Phoenix, who remain two points behind the leader. Bayswater's strong start paid dividends in the 9th minute when Peter Koidis headed over goalkeeper Devon Spence and inside the far post following Damien Todorovic's long throw-in. Although slow to find their feet, Canning pulled level through Rory Mouttet who fired in from 10-metres after the visitors were caught ball watching at a throw-in. The remainder of the half was fought out chiefly in midfield and with neither side able to add to their tally both had everything to play for after the break. With opportunities at a premium, the visitors thought they'd found the winner when Ryan Frisina raced on to pass out of midfield by Damir Kudozovic to rifle low into the net. But parity was restored just minutes later when Mick Van Dongen's corner went to feet and in the scramble that ensued Simon Versaico drove into the roof of the net. Canning conjured up a winner with the very last play of the day as central defender Duncan Hind arrived at the far post to convert Mick Van Dongen's corner at close-range.
Second half goals by Gary Mayers and Kieran Kavanagh earned South West Phoenix a 2-1 come from behind win against Queens Park 2-1 on a chilly afternoon at Coker Park. The majority of chances in a tight first half were created by Queens Park who should have gone after goalkeeper Ryan Montgomery failed to collect a cross but Tom Cullen sent the ball wide with an open goal at his mercy. The breakthrough arrived just before half-time when Mayers’ poor defensive pass was seized upon by Z.Angelo who tapped in from 8-metres with the ‘keeper caught out of position. Phoenix lifted the tempo after the break to have Queens Park camped in their defensive half for lengthy periods. A change of tactics by coach Micky Cairns who pushed Mayers up front alongside Kavanagh and Steve Suttie only intensified the pressure the home team felt. And it took only a few minutes for the move to pay off with Suttie playing a neat through ball for Mayers to run on to and slot into the net via the base of the post. From that point on there was only going to be one outcome and with seven minutes left on the clock David Murphy gave possession to Rory Binnie to deliver a cross which was tucked into the net by Kavanagh.
Wanneroo City extended their unbeaten run to four games by accounting for Gosnells City 2-0 at Walter Padbury Reserve. After a fairly uneventful opening spell it was Gosnells that took control of the game through some good combination play to create a number of opportunities deserving of better finishing. An awkward bounce thwarted Darren Francis as his lined up the target, Alan Claxton rifled wide after robbing an opponent, Ian Maguire scuffed wide and Jim Capewell headed against the crossbar. Wanneroo, too, had their chances with goalbound efforts from Cesar Meylan and Brian Cairney blocked on the line by Salvi Chavez and Ciaran Allen. The deadlock was eventually broken by Ben Yates who nipped in between Allen and goalkeeper Jamie Ellis to slot into the net. Gosnells emerged for the second half determined to equalise only to find Frazer Siddall and Guy McDonald hell bent on maintaining the status quo. Wanneroo were content to play on the counterattack and from such a move Brian Cairney stabbed in their second after David Herety’s cross was poorly dealt with by the defence. Even at two-down, Gosnells refused to concede the game as Ian Maguire then Darren Francis went within inches of breathing life back into their teams’ hope of snatching a point.
Dianella White Eagles won their first away game of the winter by out-shooting Morley Windmills 2-1 at Wotton Reserve. The ball had been in motion just a few minutes when Jon Greenwood's spectacular scissor-kick from an Aaron Moschopolous throw-in flashed past goalkeeper Chris Ramsey to put the visitors one-up. Dianella's second arrived in the 35th minute following a surging run by Alan Crofts whose neat post cross was glanced in off the head of Greenwood. Colin Hodge almost made it three-nil five minutes later but after beating his marker the Scotsman fired narrowly wide. Morley's best chance came the way of Simon El Chami who hit the crossbar just moments before half-time. Matthew Battigelli was under seige in the second half with a couple of excellent saves to thwart Bobby Irving and El Chami. Dianella son re-established control and Hodge should have done better when played through with only Ramsey to beat, while Riste Stefoski's long-range strike wasn't far off target. Morley didn't really spark into life until Paul Dundo's dismissal for a second yellow card on 75 minutes. Mitchell Castrelli was presented with a good chance to reduce the deficit only to be denied by Battigelli. The game was in stoppage time when Castrilli provided the ball to Swiss import Julian Noyer who calmly slotted in their consolation.
Balcatta were rarely troubled when they swept aside Rockingham City 4-0 in the late game at Lark Hill Sports Complex. Goals by Marc Purcell, Igor Novakovic, Adrian D’Adamo and Adrian Caloiero did the damage. Forrestfield United picked up just their fourth win of the season by thrashing Ashfield 7-0 at Hartfield Park. Jason Feather lead the way with a five-goal haul as Andy Harold and Jordan Hart also found the net. Further details of these two games were not forthcoming from any of the four participating clubs.
GLORY SHARE POINTS IN CUP OPENER
Perth Glory and Newcastle Jets played out an entertaining 1-1 draw in this afternoon’s pre-season Cup match at Hyundai Stadium, Mandurah. A small but enthusiastic crowd saw Glory take the lead early through Adrian Trinidad only for Newcastle captain Noel Spencer to earn the visitors a point by firing in just before half-time. “It was a tough game and exactly what we were looking for,” said Glory boss David Mitchell. “I felt we settled more as the match went on and were probably unlucky not to have snuck in a late goal. There is still plenty of work ahead before the season proper but I’m very happy with what I saw and we’re definitely on the right track.”
Young referee Steven Gregory had no hesitation in pointing to the spot in the 12th minute when Trinidad was brought down by a couple of opponents when retrieving a long cross, and after dusting himself off the Argentine import sent goalkeeper Ante Covic the wrong way. Adriano Pellegrino went close to doubling Glory’s lead shortly after but was denied by Covic’s great reflex save. The sides were level after 36 minutes when the hosts failed to clear at a corner and the ball fell for Spencer to thread in through a crowded goalmouth.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
Highlighting Round Thirteen of the Premier League season is the meeting of Mandurah City and Perth S.C. at the Hyundai Stadium (6.30pm). One win from their last five outings has tumbled Mandurah down the standing’s to sixth, and attempts to end that slide have not been helped by the suspension to Ryan Townsend. Phil O’Callaghan and Shane Crampton are developing a good understanding in the final third as captain Andy Brown shines in the centre of the park. Strike partners Andreas Oliviera and David Onoforo were both on the scoresheet for Perth last week and would love nothing more than to add a few more to their respective tallies with Andrija Jukic providing the drive from midfield.
Table-topping Sorrento head off on a road trip to Armadale (3.00pm). Stuart Montgomery scored twice last week to earn victory at Fremantle Spirit and with goalkeeper Neil Young in terrific touch, and Scott Bulloch and Glen Thomas full of life across the middle, the Gulls have deservedly been installed as favourites. Armadale have shown tremendous improvement in past weeks and deserved at least a point from last week’s game at Inglewood United. However, with the twin towers of Mark Darby and Shanon Dally forming an imposing defensive wall and James Robinson and Gary Faria leading the way in attack, don’t be surprised if the scoreline does end up in favour of Brad Hassell’s side.
E.C.U. Joondalup has hosting rights against Western Knights in an important lower-mid-table clash (3.00pm). Garin Collins and John Thornley have added an extra dimension to Joondalup’s game plan in recent outings but the northern suburbs side go into this game minus the influence of Scott Bushby (suspended) and Scott Blackmore (overseas). A good run of results have moved the Knights well clear of the drop zone and coach Ronnie Campbell will be confident of continuing their climb this weekend. Perth Glory target Anthony Skorich, Daniel Micevski and David Annall hold the key for a depleted Knights who’ll be missing Luka Jukic and Rory Grant (both suspended) and possibly goalkeeper Kevin Miller (injured).
Floreat Athena are tipped to take the points when an under-strength Swan I.C. visit Litis Stadium (3.00pm). Michael Roki team has made their way into fourth place with a series of solid performances including away at Mandurah City last week. The goals have flowed for Brad Scott whose combining to terrific effect with Daniel Niederberger, James Isaia and Paul Vatistas. Swan will lean heavily on the experience of Damian Scali and Dom Ando on a day when in all likelihood they’ll be without Aaron Cole, Paul Baczynski, Justin Hugo and regular goalkeeper Cory Hugo..
Wauhop Park hosts the derby clash of Fremantle Spirit and Cockburn City (3.00pm). Fremantle may be winless after a dozen games but have shown in recent weeks a resilience which is sure to see them break their duck soon. Veteran Peter Vukmirovic lends his experience to a young side that has been served well by Callum Roberts, Simon Elton-Bott, Lee Hallums and goalkeeper Steve Grant. Cockburn got back in the winner’s circle last week and coach Mirko Jelicic will be confident of continuing their push for the top two. Dom De Felice, Johnny Mirco, Jason Godfrey and Liam Lilly have been outstanding so far this year.
The round comes to a conclusion on Sunday when Stirling Lions and Inglewood United go head to head at Macedonia Park (3.00pm). Stirling have run hot and cold this season and look to be in for another difficult 90 minutes with influential pair Marc Anthony and Phil Arnold suspended. The efforts of Phil Straker, Darko Ilomanoski and Leo Harman will have never been more important to Stirling. Michael Baczynski and James Sammut are in absolutely superb form for Inglewood who have moved up to second place with six wins in row. Oliver Taseski continues to impress between the sticks as Jason Colli terrifies opposing defences with his lightning bursts down the right.
It’s make or break time for third place Bayswater City who visit breakaway First Division leader Canning City. Bayswater entered the season as a title contender but will fall well off the pace unless they become the first team this year to take three points against Canning. South West Phoenix are tipped to keep pace with Canning by accounting for Queens Park at Coker Park. Gosnells City are put to the test by Wanneroo City at Walter Padbury Reserve, Morley Windmills square off with neighbours Dianella White Eagles at Wotton Reserve, and Forrestfield United are home to Ashfield. Balcatta can cemented their place in the top half of the table by beating Rockingham City under lights at Lark Hill Sporting Complex (7.30pm).
DEPLETED GLORY READY FOR JETS ASSIGNMENT
The depth of Perth Glory's new-look squad will be put to the test tomorrow afternoon when they tackle Newcastle Jets in the opening round of the pre-season Cup in Mandurah. A combination of international duty and injury has left the club with just thirteen players, however, coach David Mitchell remains confident. "One of the key aspects in our recruiting this season was to ensure we had ample cover in every position and I believe we have been able to achieve that," Mitchell said. "Situations like this can arise at any time and you have to be prepared to overcome them and I have confidence that the lads we have out on the park can get the job done."
The trio of Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Tando Velaphi and Nikita Rukavytsya are overseas with the Olyroos while Jamie Harnwell, Josip Magdic, Nick Rizzo and Eugene Dadi have been ruled out through injury. Dadi's absence is a precautionary measure after the Ivory Coast target man twinged a hamstring late last week. "There is no point risking him for this game," said the coach. "If it was the grand final of the A-League then he would have taken part but the pre-season competition is all about giving players a competitive environment in which to get fit and that's the way we'll be treating it."
Amongst those in line for their Glory debut this weekend are Frank Juric, Hayden Doyle, Adriano Pellegrino and Adrian Trinidad. "We have tried various combinations during training and this is the perfect chance to implement some of those in a match environment," Mitchell commented. "It'll be a good early test and we'll be out there trying to win the game and hope to see a big crowd turn out in Mandurah where we enjoy strong support." The Round One Cup fixture kicks-off at 3.00pm at Hyundai Stadium in Mandurah - entry is $10 for Adults and $5 for children and concessions.
RUKAVYTSYA SET FOR MORE GLORY
Perth Glory has offered Nikita Rukavytsya a new two-year contract in an attempt to keep one of Australia's brightest young talents in the country. Coach David Mitchell has nothing but praise for the 21-year old striker, who is in camp with the Olyroos as they prepare for the Beijing Olympics. "We're in the process of negotiating with him for the contract," Mitchell said. "He's a bright young talent and a good player."
Mitchell hopes Glory can hold on to Rukavytsya, but says the club would not block a possible overseas move. "It depends, he's a very good player," Mitchell said. "If he performs this year the way he did towards the end of last year then there's a good chance he might get picked up overseas. Obviously you want to keep your best talent in Australia for as long as possible (and) he is one of the best young talents. But if a club comes over for him then we're not going to stand in his way."
Rukavytsya scored six goals for Glory last season despite making only ten starts. "He's one of the best young talents in Australia - he's very quick, technically very good and he can finish well," said Mitchell. "You have to give strikers confidence. For me, strikers should be getting three or four chances in a game, if you stick one or two away, you're doing your job." The Olyroos squad flew to China this week for a series of pre-Olympic Games friendlies.
The Glory coach is happy with how off-season recruiting has gone so far but hopes to add at least one more player before the season starts. "There's one overseas player I'm looking at but I can't name at this minute because I haven't entered formal discussions and I don't want anyone to know," said Mitchell. "We're still one or two short, probably a midfielder or a wide player. You want competition all over the park in every position. I'm just biding my time though and seeing how things develop in the pre-season Cup."
TEAMWORK GETS INGLEWOOD TO THE TOP
A mass exodus of experience coupled with an early year coaching change led many to believe another season of struggle was on the cards for Inglewood United. But the inner city club has proved their critics wrong with a six-game winning streak that’s positioned them second behind Sorrento. Coach Lee Bamber, who replaced Bobby Despotovski, is delighted with how his young troops have gone about their business. “The players have worked hard in training - physically, technically and on tactics - and are now beginning to understand what is required to win football matches,” explained Bamber. “When we’ve lost games we’ve looked at why we’ve lost and then worked harder at putting it right.”
The Inglewood line-up of years to come has slowly emerged during their superb recent run. “James Sammut, Jamie Mitsopoulos, James Duncan, David Whiteside, John Davite and Matt Worton have improved tremendously over the last six months,” explained Bamber, whose CV includes a decade as goalkeeping coach with Preston North End’s Centre of Excellent and a further two years at Manchester United. “They’ve all got the basics but are now learning about playing in a team and the responsibilities they have within the team. The hardest thing at the moment is keeping them all happy because they all want to play.”
Something Inglewood has got right this year where a number of their rivals have failed to striking the fine balance between experience and youth. “It’s never easy getting the balance right but whatever the outcome we learn from it and move on,” said 39-year old Bamber. “Shane Pryce, Ollie Taseski, Michael Baczynski and all the senior players have been fantastic. It’s always a challenge when you ask players who’ve played a certain way for years to try something different but they’ve taken up the challenge in a very positive manner. They’ve been very supportive of the younger boys and also of myself and assistant coach Kevin Brophy.”
Last weekend’s 1-0 home win over Armadale made it six on the trot for Inglewood, but it was far from a pleasant afternoon out for the coach. “I felt that we were well below par in the first half and improved a little in the second,” commented Bamber, who had to wait until late before substitute Rodrigo Aguirre settled the game. “It was always going to be difficult to break them down after the sending off (of John Lund) but credit must go to Armadale who stuck to the task with ten men. I was really pleased for Roddy getting the goal and hopefully he can go on and score some more for us.”
Inglewood’s next challenge is at Macedonia Park on Sunday when they meet a Stirling Lions side that’s won just once in their last five outings. “Although Stirling has had some indifferent results of late, we know that on their day they can give any team in this league a footballing lesson, as they did to us early in the season,” said Bamber in reference to the 5-3 hiding handed out by Stirling in April. “So we will show them the respect they deserve but make sure we play the game we want to as well.”
With ten games remaining the race for the Premier League title is wide open with Sorrento leading the way followed closely by Inglewood, Cockburn City, reigning champion Floreat Athena, pre-season favourite Perth S.C. and newly promoted Mandurah City. Bamber has been impressed with the quality of football played in the competition this year and is expecting a tough final few months for his side. “The League has been very even, and I believe the standard is improving,” he said. “Some of the top teams have come back into the pack a little bit, and that’s adding to the overall interest.”
HALL OF FAME HONOUR FOR NAVEN BROTHERS (courtesy Football Hall of Fame WA)
Perth Glory’s inaugural captain Gareth Naven and twin brother Craig Naven will make history when inducted into the Football Hall of Fame WA at a lavish ceremony later this month. The Naven boys will become the first set of brothers to enter the Hall of Champions, which salutes the great players of the past. Gareth Naven, now youth team coach at Glory, played 143 times for the club before retiring in 2002. Craig Naven played two seasons at Glory and won five State League titles and two Cups with Perth Italia. Both Gareth and Craig Naven represented Australia in the Under-16 World Cup in 1985.
Two other brothers, Stuart and David Kamasz, will also be honoured at the gala ceremony in Perth’s Novotel Langley Hotel on Friday 26th July. Stuart Kamasz, who coached several clubs to State League championships, will be inducted into the Hall of Recognition, which pays tribute to the achievements of coaches, administrators, referees and others. David Kamasz, a flying right winger with the all-conquring Spearwood Dalmatinac side that dominated the 1980’s, will be among the first inductees into the newly established the Hall of Merit for Players.
In all, there will seven history-makers taken into the Hall of Merit for Players, including Harry Boys who was the first West Australian to represent Australia at international level in the 1920’s. Eleven players, amongst them several former Socceroos and many greats of the women’s game, will be enter the Hall of Champions. And there will also be eleven newcomers in the Hall of Recognition. Tickets for the event, which includes a three-course dinner, all drinks and entertainment, are available by contacting Bob Brown (9446 3338) or Barbara Gibson (9526 0330).
BECOME A FOOTBALL WEST REPORTER! (courtesy Football West)
Budding journalists are invited to join Football West's team of official match day reporters. Football West are responsible for the management of the game across all levels of football of this State - semi-professional, amateur, masters, social, women’s and juniors. The governing body is committed to enhancing the profile of the game and requires the services of match day reporters.
The role of the match reporter involves attending primarily State Premier League games, however, Football West is also looking to expand its coverage to other leagues in due course. Reporters will be required to attend various grounds across the metropolitan area, be available on Saturday or Sunday afternoons, and provide a balanced view of the game they attend with no conflict of interest with participating clubs. Remuneration will be paid on a per match basis to the successful candidates.
Football West are also looking for skilled photographers to join our reporting team. Photographs will be used for distribution to local newspapers and media outlets as well as on the Football West website. If you would like to join the Football West team please email Ben Fitzpatrick - Ben.Fitzpatrick@footballwest.com.au - with a brief outline of your qualifications and experience.
MITCHELL EXPECTS GLORY TO BE IN THE TOP FOUR
Perth Glory coach Dave Mitchell says the pre-season Cup will be nothing more than a trial period for his new look squad but has declared strong intentions for the coming A-League campaign. The annual pre-season competition begins on Saturday with Glory doing battle with Newcastle in Mandurah but the Glory boss has his sights fixed firmly on finishing the season proper in the top half of the table. “The minimum we want is the top four - that’s the requirement, the benchmark, because if you’re in the top four you can actually win (the Championship),” Mitchell said. “The minimum for us is top four and (to) re-establish Perth as one of the top clubs in Australia.”
The pre-season serves as an experimentation period for most clubs around the country and Glory are no exception. “I’ll be trying certain things (in the Cup) and I know other coaches will be doing the same,” Mitchell said. “Obviously when you play a game it’s nice to win, but in essence we’ll be trying some different things and some different positions for players just to see if they feel comfortable in those roles. And if they do that’s an eye-opener for maybe going into the season with … you’ll be trying out different positions, different players and different systems.”
JONES READIES FOR JOONDALUP RETURN
E.C.U. Joondalup’s Tommy Jones is champing at the bit to return to first team duty and help his club climb their way back up the Premier League table. It’s been a quiet few weeks for the lively 22-year old whose been sidelined since damaging a knee in the away loss to Floreat Athena a fortnight ago. “I injured my right knee in a 50-50 tackle which I came off the worse from,” explained Jones. “I knew I had done something serious and I had to come off. A CT scan showed I’d some damage to the cartilage, luckily enough it was just a strain and not torn so I had to have two weeks off.”
Being injured has given Jones time to reflect on his season so far. “It was frustrating (to get injured) as I feel I was doing alright this season,” commented Jones, who returned to Joondalup just before the home and away series commenced from a year at Stirling Lions. “But I’ll hold my hand up and I didn’t play that well in the last few games before my injury. Maybe it’s a good thing I had two weeks off as it gives me a chance to start again, get some form under my belt and try to work my way back into the starting eleven.”
New coach Chris Nicholson has made a positive impression on Jones who feels confident the club is heading in the right direction. “Nico is doing great as coach, he hasn’t had the results he may of liked but we haven’t had the full squad together since he been coach,” Jones said. “He’s someone I’ve got a lot of respect for. He’s great with the players and has coached at a higher level, everything he says to me I take on board and try to do what he wants me to do. He will have a few selection problems soon when everyone’s back fit.”
One of the selection headaches that will no doubt please Nicholson is the plethora of options in the goalscoring department. “With five strikers now at the club - Ian McMurray, John Thornley, Craig Young, Garin Collins and myself - we all know that if we get the chance we have to perform,” Jones said. “Ian and JT have formed a good partnership in recent weeks, and as Garin, Youngy and I can play in midfield we have good depth in midfield and up-front. But we look a little bit short at the back and with Scott Blackmore going away for five weeks we’ll be even shorter.”
BIG NAMES ADD TO THE CHALLENGE : RUKAVYTSYA
Australia’ football team will not be daunted by the prospect of facing some of the world’s best players at the Olympic Games according to one of the men aiming to upset the odds by propelling the Olyroos into a medal place. Nikita Rukavytsya, who les than a year ago was ineligible to represent his adopted country after emigrating from the Ukraine in 2001, is relishing the opportunity to take on the likes of Argentine stars Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano.
Australia were handed an extremely difficult assignment when draw in the same group as tournament favourite Argentina, European under-21 runners-up Croatia and emerging African nation Ivory Coast. But Rukavytsya said the Olyroos, who take on Japan, China and South Korea in warm-up games, will be primed for the challenge. “It’s a pretty tough draw,” he admitted. “we’re against some quality teams but we won’t worry too much about it. We’re just going to concentrate on our jobs and prepare ourselves mentally and we’ll be all right.”
Rukavytsya and Perth Glory teammate Tando Velaphi leave Perth today as Australian coach Graham Arnold plots the team’s final assault after the long road to Beijing. Despite the difficulties of advancing from such a tough group, Arnold has already set the ambitious target of winning a Games medal. Australia qualified from a tough group in 2004 when they thrashed Serbia and Montenegro, lost to Argentina and drew with Tunisia.
Rukavytsya, who has shot to prominence in the past year to storm to an Olympic berth, is inclined to agree with his coach. “We have a good chance,” said the striker. “We have a great team and everybody knows their job. I don’t see why we can’t progress from the group and even get a medal.” Australia’s Olympics campaign opens against Serbia on 7th August, three days later they face the might of Argentina before completing the group phase on 13th August against Ivory Coast.
Australia’s meeting with a star-studded Argentina, who’ll be defending the title won four years ago in Athens, looms as a particularly special occasion for the Olyroos. “It will feel a bit weird because they are the best players in the world,” said Rukavytsya. “You watch them on TV and every week they are playing well and scoring goals. To be playing against them will be an amazing experience.” The South Americans have selected Juan Roman Riquelme, Fernadndo Gago and striker Sergio Aguer alongside Messi and Mascherano.
MORGAN STEPS INTO ENGLAND’S TOP FLIGHT
Sorrento's championship winning coach, Trevor Morgan, has been appointed under-23 development coach with English club Hull City. Morgan, 51, has a vast range of playing and coaching experiences from a career spanning four decades. The move to Hull reunites Morgan with former Bolton Wanderers team mate Phil Brown, who last season guided the club into England's top flight for the first time in their 104-year existence.
Morgan played in excess of 400 games and scored more than 100 goals as an English league professional for Bournemouth, Bristol Rovers, Exeter City, Bolton, Colchester United and Birmingham City amongst others. He cut his coaching teeth at Birmingham and Exeter in the early 1990's before relocating to Perth where he strapped on his playing boots for Inglewood United during the winter of 1996.
The following year Morgan joined Sorrento where, as player/coach, he captured Night Series and Top Five titles in 1999 and two years later guided the Gulls to their first ever Premier League crown. In more recent times Morgan has coached in Singapore, worked with both Perth Glory's youth set-up and the National Training Centre squad, and returned to Sorrento in an assistant coaching capacity.
Stuart Montgomery, who joined Sorrento last summer, has enjoyed the brief time he's spent under Morgan's watchful eye. "I've only played under him for a few months but regard him as one of the best coaches I have had the pleasure of playing for," said Montgomery. "I really hope it all works out for him, he is a great bloke and I speak for everyone involved with Sorrento in wishing him all the best at Hull."
GLORY EDGE OUT JOONDALUP
Anthony Skorich has earned Perth Glory a hard-fought 1-0 win against E.C.U. Joondalup from this evenings training match at the Joondalup campus of Edith Cowan University. Played in wet and blustery conditions across three 30 minutes periods, the opening spell was dominated by a couple of well-organised defences. Joondalup created the first chance for Garin Collins whose shot from close in tested the reflexes of Frank Juric. The best chance at the opposite end caem via Adriano Pellegrino whose low shot from the edge of the 18-yard box was held by Bobson Karoma.
Glory began the second period strongly as James Downey and Mark Lee exploited their pace to get in behind the defence out wide. The breakthrough arrived in the 40th minute when Dino Djulbic's cross from the right found James Robinson whose close-range effort was blocked by Koroma only to have Skorich net with the rebound. Jamie Coyne almost doubled Glory's lead with a shot from distance which rose over the crossbar. John Thornley went close to equalising with a header which was cleared off the line by James Downey following a Scott Bushby corner.
Joondalup were firing on all cylinders for the final half hour but found Juric in superb touch. The veteran goalkeeper was at full-stretch to touch Collins shot from 19-metres over the bar, and minutes later Juric did well to keep out a stinging shot by Craig Young. Glory weren't without their chances to wrap up the friendly as Koroma saved well a long-range strike by Coyne. The final opportunity came the way of substitute Naum Sekulovski who was also denied by the Joondalup custodian.
SACKING STUNNED THORNLEY
John Thornley is still trying to comprehend the decision of Perth S.C. to show him the door. The reserve team coach was told his services were no longer required on the back of a big loss at Cockburn City a month ago. The reason Thornley was given came as a complete surprise considering his team were sitting second at the time. “I was totally gutted by their decision,” admitted Thornley, whose team had five wins and a draw from their first eight games. “The reason I was given for my sacking was the boys were not coming on like the club wanted, there wasn’t enough intensity.”
The club hierarchy decided it was time to swing the axe following a 6-1 thrashing at Dalmatinac Park. “The Tuesday after we were beaten by Cockburn I only had seven players turn up for training,” Thornley said. “In that game I had the youngest and smallest squad in the league, our average age was eighteen years four months. It’s a real shame because the lads had worked really hard, we were in the top four with a game in hand and things were looking good. But that’s football and if I agree or not the decision has been made and I’ll just get on with my life, and I wish the lads all the best for the rest of the season.”
Saturday afternoons now hold a completely different set of priorities for Thornley, who says he’ll enjoy being on the other side of the fence. “I’ll be enjoying watch my son, John junior, playing for E.C.U. Joondalup,” said Thornley, who played locally for Fremantle Benfica and North Perth Croatia amongst others. “He’s a bad run of injuries in the past few years but is now hopefully over them. John retuned from a back problem a few weeks back and is doing what he does best - causing problems for defences by scoring goals.”
UNDER-17 GIRLS WIN SILVER
The West Australian Under-17 girls have suffered a heart-breaking extra-time loss to Queensland in the final of the National Youth Championships. With the game scoreless at the end of regulation time, Queensland secured the title 2-0 at Coffs Harbour International Stadium on New South Wales' north coast. The State Under-15's completed their campaign in fifth after defeating Victoria 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out for the minor placing.
Andrew Bettell, of Football West, says West Australia's performances in the Nationals deserve acknowledgement. "The improvement in the girls' game in the West has been exceptional over the last few years and our teams travel to the Nationals each year as a credible threat" Bettell said. "For a State of our size to be competing at semi-final level and above is an outstanding achievement and my congratulations go to all of those involved."
Ella Mastrantonio scored twice and Mariana Tabain once inside the opening 16 minutes to set the Under-17's up for a 3-2 win against Victoria in last Saturday's opening round of fixtures. The following day R.Quigley scored all three goals in South Australia's 3-2 defeat of West Australia for whom Ellis Glanfield and Samantha Kerr netted.
After a days' break, the Under-17's returned to action on on Tuesday by coming from behind to defeat the Australian Capital Territory 2-1 courtesy of goals by Marianna Tabain and Samatha Kerr. West Australia ended the qualifying phase by trashing Northern Territory 9-0 to secure second spot on the Group B table. Ella Mastrantonio (2), Samanatha Kerr (2), Marianna Tabain (2) Rebecca Davies, Shannon May and Ellis Glanfield got the goals.
West Australia's place in the tournament decider was booked by Carla Bennett and Rebecca Davies whose goals saw off New South Wales 2-0 in Thursday's round of four. Saturday mornings final was a tight affair in which both teams were well served by resolute defences. With the game in extra-time, it emerged Queensland had more left in the tanks with Alisha Foote and Susie McKeen finding the net.
The 2008 State Under-17 Girls squad consists of Kathleen Waycott, Casey Webb (Bunbury), Ella Mastrantonio (Cockburn City), Corrin Walmsley (East Fremantle Tricolore), Ellis Glanfield (Mandurah City), Danielle Calautti, Chloe Coghlan, Samantha Kerr, Shannon May, Elle Semmens, Rachael Smith, Mariana Tabain, Emily Williams (National Training Centre), Carla Bennett, Rebecca Davies (Northern Redbacks) and Nicole Campbell (Queens Park).
Granted a Day One bye, the Under-15 Girls commenced their campaign by thrashing the Northern Territory 10-0 on Sunday. Stephanie Goadsby lead the way with a remarkable seven-goal haul to which Sadie Lawrence (2) and Tash Rigby added. A 1-1 draw with the Australian Capital Territory came about through Stephanie Goadsby's strike midway through the first half.
West Australia's chances of making the semi-finals were dented by Northern New South Wales triumphed 1-0. Queensland delivered the knock-out blow 24-hours later by holding West Australia 1-1, despite Caitlin Coyles' goal after 11 minutes. The girls from the west coast claimed fifth by out-shooting Victoria 4-2 on penalties on Friday morning. The Under-15's title was won by New South Wales Country 2-1 against New South Wales.
The 2008 State Under-15 Girls squad featured Rebecca Salsano (Balcatta), Domenique Fedele (Bunbury), Ebony Drane, Annique Keisler, Krystle Spanos (East Fremantle Tricolore), Thia Eastman (Gosnells City), Becky Bennett, Courtney Omodei (E.C.U. Joondalup), Ashley Byrne (Lynwood), Tash Rigby (Margaret River), Caitlin Coyles, Sarah Van Noort (Melville), Jaymee Gibbons, Stephanie Goadsby, Sadie Lawrence and Nadine Rechichi (National Training Centre).
COYNE FOCUSED ON SEASON OPENER
Defender Chris Coyne is ready to crack on with the league season following a productive couple of weeks of pre-season training at Colchester United. The newly capped Socceroo admits he's looking forward to the glamorous friendly with Athletico Bilbao but it's the League One opener with Hartlepool five days later that he's really focusing on. "The match against Athletic Bilbao is going to be a fantastic occasion, but I reckon it's more for the fans than the players," insisted Coyne. "If you gave me the choice between beating Bilbao and beating Hartlepool, then there's no contest. I want three points at Hartlepool so that we can get off to a good start in our quest for promotion."
Even so, it's the home contest against eight-times Spanish La Liga champions Bilbao that all Colchester supporters are talking about. "Bilbao are a big side, and you always want to play the best," said COyne. "It's a high-profile game, and it would be nice to start off with a win at the new ground. It's important that we quickly make our new home into a garrison. We need to feel settled and comfortable in our new surroundings, and this game gives us a chance to do so. We will be able to test out the pitch, and get used to the atmosphere."
The English off-season didn't provide Coyne much of a break. He'd been back in Perth only days when Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek invited him into camp and shortly after Coyne made his long-awaited debut for Australia in the World Cup qualifier with Iraq. "I've only had about twelve days off this summer, but I've made the most of it," he said. "Now it's down to the hard work again. I always wanted to play for Australia, and now I can tick that box. We qualified for the next phase, which starts again in September, so hopefully I might get a few more games. The manager has my phone number now."
PETKOVIC COMMITS TO GLORY
Three-time championship winning goalkeeper Jason Petkovic will see out his career between the posts for Perth Glory after penning a new one-year deal with his hometown club. One of the nation’s most experienced and respected ‘keepers, Petkovic made 328 national league games to his name for Glory and Adelaide City plus 16 appearances for the Socceroos. Additionally, he spent a season at Turkish club Konyaspor while the domestic game in Australia was in recess during the summer of 2004/05.
A horrific leg injury suffered in November 2007 threatened to bring his playing days to a premature end. However, following a lengthy rehabilitation program Petkovic is back to full fitness and ready to add to his Australian league tally. “After nearly two years of being sidelined I wanted to see at the very least how I was going to go and I appreciate the club showing faith in me,” Petkovic said. “I’ll be doing everything I can to repay that faith with a good season.”
Petkovic showed he’d lost none of his touch during Glory’s recent trip to Indonesia. “I felt great, better than I expected,” Petkovic said. “I think now that I’ve had a decent few months to get my body right it has given me a good base and it showed in the game last week. I think every athlete would like to finish their career on their own terms and not have it dictated to them by injury, so I’m thankful to have the opportunity to give it my best shot.”
Petkovic’s signing completes a competitive shot-stopping line-up for Glory which includes new recruit Frank Juric and Olyroos custodian Tando Velaphi. “Jason has put in a tremendous amount of work to get back to a position to push for selection and we felt he could contribute significantly to our cause this season,” said coach David Mitchell. “Jason proved in recent outings he can continue to perform to the standard he has produced throughout a long and successful career.”
The veteran ‘keeper feels the squad Mitchell has assembled has the ability to again bring glory to the West Australian club. “There are plenty of boys, including me, that have been around the club for a while and are desperate to change the results of the last couple of seasons plus the new guys are also ready to take up that challenge as well,” Petkovic said. “There is a lot of determination amongst the players and from my experience that can only help breed positive results. I’m confident we’ll be very competitive this season.”
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND TWELVE (Fremantle Spirit v Sorrento by Kerry Slater; Western Knights v Stirling Lions courtesy Football West; Floreat Athena v Mandurah City courtesy Floreat Athena)
Stuart Montgomery scored twice when Sorrento saw off Fremantle Spirit 2-0 at their new home of Wauhop Park. The win extends the Gulls unbeaten run to five games and keeps them at the head of a congested table with ten games to play. Much of the early pressure came from the home camp but despite their increased possession Steve Grant remained untested between the posts for Fremantle. The first attempt on goal came after 13 minutes when Neil Young watched Callum Roberts' strike fly well wide of his right post. Three minutes later referee Troy Miller had no option but to award a penalty for Tom Straker's trip on Todd Harnwell, and from the spot Montgomery fired the visitors into the lead. Grant prevented the margin from being greater by blocking goalbound efforts from Montgomery and Scott Bulloch, while Peter Vukmirovic was lucky not to score an own goal with a mishit clearance which looped past the post. Roberts raced clear of the defence on 35 minutes to go one-on-one with Young who thrust out a leg to deny the youngster a scoring opportunity. Sorrento continued their quest for goals after the break through Harnwell who pounced on a spilt cross but failed to squeeze the ball past Grant with either of his close-range attempts. Their wait was ended a couple more minutes later when Harnwell glanced the ball through for Montgomery to blast in at the near post. Through neat movement of the ball Fremantle worked tirelessly to find a way back into the game but were let down by a lack of creativity and firepower. Young was required to make only one save of note, tipping Roberts' shot over the crossbar, thanks largely to a resolute display by the defensive wall of Stuart Banks, Shaun Kilkelly and Danny Cain.
Rodrigo Aguirre came off the bench to steal Inglewood United a 1-0 win against Armadale on an uninspiring afternoon at Clipsal Stadium. The opening passages were memorable only for their lack of openings and it wasn’t until the 14th minute red carding of Lund, for a cynical off the ball trip on Michael Baczynski, that the game flicked into life. Within minutes Gary Faria had Oliver Taseski at full stretch with a cracking volley, and only Shane Pryce’s intervention denied James Robinson a shot on goal. A Faria free-kick was deflected into the side netting off the defensive wall, then an unchallenged Robinson glanced the resulting corner wide. Inglewood’s first real threat came on 34 minutes when Baczynski headed against the post from Jamie Mitsopoulos’ delivery and Kevin Griffiths skied the rebound from a couple of metres. A terrific counterattacking move on 41 minutes was deserving of a better finish from James Sammut who blazed high. Lee Bamber’s address at the break had the desired effect on Inglewood whose control of the second period was total, however, that domination was tempered by a superb defensive performance from Mark Darby, Matt Bennion and Shannon Dally which by large forced the hosts into shooting from distance. Their best chance came on 66 minutes when Griffiths’ glancing header from a Colli cross was tipped onto the crossbar by Cyril Sharrock, the ball was only partially cleared and eventually made its way back to Griffiths whose curling effort was just wide of the upright. Armadale’s solitary opening came when Faria delivered the ball into a crowded goalmouth where Daryl Platten’s downward header was held on the line by Taseski. Play soon returned to the other end and Sharrock’s reflexes were tested by Danny Kovacevic at point-blank range. With 83 minutes on the clock Aguirre chased down a long ball which he pulled back from the byline and from the narrowest of angles threaded the winner across Sharrock and into the far top corner.
Cockburn City showed great resilience by coming from behind three times to defeat Swan I.C. 4-3 at Dalmatinac Park. Shane McNally, Josh Kamasz, Johnny Mirco and Mileta Miletic found the net to end a two-game losing streak for Cockburn who move back into the top three. The home side were quickly into stride as Dom De Felice, Johnny Mirco and veteran midfielder McNally stamped their authority across the centre of the park by driving the side forward at every opportunity. So it was again the run of play when Damien Catalano delivered the ball to Damian Scali whose low shot opened Swan's account after 23 minutes. The lead, however, was short-lived as just minutes later McNally was in the right place at the right time to tap in at close-range after Kamasz' header was brilliantly kept out by Cory Hugo. This spurred on Cockburn who created several good openings but Jason Godfrey's header hit the upright and a Johnny Mirco free-kick crashed against the crossbar. Swan regained the upper hand through Aaron Cole who rose majestically to powerfully head in a well-flighted Dom Ando corner on the half hour. Again, it took Cockburn only minutes to reply, this time via Kamasz who blasted in after an initial Johnny Mirco strike deflected into his path. David Perich and John Mansaray combined to terrific effect with Scali who squeezed Swan's third goal past Nick Feely just before the break. The teenage goalkeeper kept Cockburn in the game ten minutes after the break with a superb reflex save which denied Scali his hat-trick, and Swan an even greater lead. Johnny Mirco brought the game level for the fourth time by converting a controversial penalty awarded for Robert Monterosso touch on Giovanni Di Bartolo after 69 minutes. The home crowd were celebrating again ten minutes later as Miletic's diagonal shot flashed past replacement 's 'keeper Daniel Agudelo.
A ten-man Floreat Athena moved into fourth place by inflicting a 3-1 loss on Mandurah City at Litis Stadium. It was an important win for Floreat whose hopes of back-to-back titles were kept alive by Brad Scott's double which book-ended a Branimir Mikulic strike. Rafael Insurralde should have rewarded the hosts' strong start with an early lead but somehow sent the ball over from close-range. Daniel Neiderberger's exquisite touch created an opening for Scott whose dipping a shot cleared the crossbar by the narrowest of margins. Mandurah grabbed the lead against the run of play on 23 minutes when Ryan McDarby's precise pass out of midfield put Phil O'Callaghan behind the defence to skip around goalkeeper Vas Vujacic and slot in from an acute angle. Mikulic restored parity twelve minutes later by driving a low shot in from 12-metres after the visitors failed to clear from inside the 18-yard box. Floreat continued to display the greater creativity and desire but were denied what appeared a clear penalty when Neiderberger was infringed with only 'keeper Mike Green to beat. Their reward came six minutes after the break when poor defending at a corner allowed Scott to sent a blistering volley high and wide of Green to send the home supporters into raptures. Mandurah went close to levelling through Ryan Townsend whose header was parried by Vas Vujacic and Shane Crampton's follow-up was blocked by Jovo Pavlovic. It was now the hosts who were playing on the counterattack and both Neiderberger and Scott went close to increasing the difference. With fifteen minutes remaining Floreat were reduced a man with Insurralde dismissed for raising an elbow to Jeff Bright. Mandurah surged forward in increasing number as they sought to equalise but failed to break down a well-drilled home defence. The result was put beyond doubt in the 80th minute when Neiderberger beat his marker and centred into the path of Scott who clinically tucked in his second of the afternoon.
Western Knights resurgence continues to gather momentum following a 2-1 defeat of Stirling Lions at Nash Field. Mario Marcinko’s third goal in as many games coupled by Daniel Micevski’s late first half strike earned the Knights a third successive victory on home soil. Stirling were given a dream start by Dean Evans who converted an 8th minute penalty awarded for a harsh hand ball decision against Ivan Gavranic. After conceding, the Knights lifted a gear and Daniel Micevski should have done better than lift the ball over the crossbar when faced by goalkeeper Phil Straker at close-range. Ludovic Boi squandered a great chance to double the margin after 22 minutes by also blazing high when found by Leo Harman’s pinpoint cross. Following a trio of close calls the home team finally drew level via an innocuous free-kick which had Stirling ball watching as Marcinko’s neat header wrong-footed the ‘keeper and bounced in off the upright. A moment’s hesitation was all Straker needed to deny Daniel Micevski in a one-on-one situation as the Knights went in search of the lead. Their reward came five minutes from the interval when Marcinko deftly touched the ball into the path of Daniel Micevski who surged into the 18-yard box before stroking firmly under the advancing ‘keeper’s body. Gavranic was within inches of adding a third to the tally three minutes later when his vicious shot smashed against Straker’s post. The half came to a close with a terrific move involving Anthony Skorich, Gavranic and Marcinko whose powerful downward header was incredibly kept out by Straker. Stirling had their chances to level after the break but Jacob Chudy denied Alan Muir, while David Annall made a goal line clearance to frustrate Marc Anthony. But their chances were effectively dashed on 58 minutes when Anthony was issued his second yellow card. Straker prevented Marcinko from increasing the difference late on with a remarkable save which served to remind those in attendance why he was named last seasons’ Goalkeeper of the Year.
A small crowd was on hand to watch Perth S.C. and E.C.U. Joondalup play out a pulsating 3-3 draw on a chilly evening at Dorrien Gardens. Joondalup were only minutes away from a memorable victory when Andreas Oliviera converted at close-range to earn the hosts a deserved point. The ball had been in motion only minutes when Antonio Naglieri’s cross-field pass released Greg Sharland whose first time ball into the area was steered in by Oliviera at the near post. Perth soon went in search of adding to their tally and it tok a tactical reshuffle to bring the visitors into the game. The equaliser arrived after 31 minutes as Anthony Jones’ pass was flicked on by Craig Young to John Thornley who rounded goalkeeper Gareth Deeg before unselfishly squaring for Garin Collins to tap in the equaliser. It was only a short time after that Thornley drilled into the crossbar and the rebound was pounced on by Collins whose shot was diverted into the net by Gianfranco Circati. Perth wanted an immediate response and almost got it when Bobson Koroma’s poor clearance landed at the feet of David Onoforo whose clipped shot over the out of position ‘keeper was cleared off the line by Anthony Jones. Joondalup were under pressure after the break and it finally told on 57 minutes when Sharland provided a deep cross to Onoforo who evaded his marker to blast in the hosts’ second goal. Substitute Martin Ashworth showed great skill to get past his man and deliver a cross which an unmarked Thornley headed into the far corner to put Joondalup back in the box seat. Perth’s determination not to leave the game empty handed almost proved their undoing as Ashworth went one-on-one with Deeg but hesitated just long enough for the ‘keeper to make the save. Oliviera snatched a point for the home side when found unmarked by a late Naglieri corner which the expert marksman rifled in amid desperate attempts to prevent a shot.
FIRST DIVISION, ROUND TWELVE (Balcatta v Canning by Phil Unsworth; South West Phoenix v Gosnells City courtesy South West Phoenix)
Canning City kept their unbeaten record intact by coming from behind to beat Balcatta 2-1 at Graham Burkett Reserve. Bobby Klenkoski gave the hosts a crackerjack start by thundering a 25-metre drive into the roof of the net after a corner was only partially cleared by the defence. Balcatta barely had time to savour their lead before Simon Versaico headed in at the far post from a Rory Mouttet cross which deflected off defender Tony Fazari and looped over goalkeeper Kenny Ftynohiannis. The hosts were unfortunate not to regain the lead on the half hour when a Klenkoski shot was touched on to the post by Michael Smerilli, Fazari’s long-range strike crashed into the crossbar and Mark Purcell’s downward header was somehow held by the ‘keeper. Half-time was only moments away when referee Steve Knight awarded Canning a penalty for a trip on Paul Oliver in goalmouth scramble, and Paul Harvey rifled in his 15th goal of the season from the spot. The second half was a tight affair dominated by no-nonsense tackling. Klenkoski and Ian McKan went close to equalising as Balcatta enjoyed the better of possession but couldn’t come up with the finish they were after. Their final chance arrived via Igor Novakovic who rounded the defence and from a narrow angle flighted his shot over Smerilli only for the ball to skim off the bar.
South West Phoenix remains two points behind leaders following an emphatic 4-2 victory over Gosnells City at the Soccerdrome. Gosnells set the early pace and creating some good opportunities that went unconverted before Phoenix kicked into gear. Patrick Quinn put their first goal on the board midway through the half with a blistering strike from 18-metres which came to rest in the bottom corner. It wasn’t until the 53rd minute that the hosts’ dominance produced another goal through Steve Suttie who after being released by Quinn rounded the last defender before slotting into the net. Ryan Binnie got in on the act ten minutes later by meeting a Suttie cross from the right and heading powerfully past goalkeeper Jamie Ellis from 9-metres. A foul by ‘keeper Ryan Montgomery on Aaron Nadin when defending a corner resulted in a Gosnells penalty which was coolly converted by Nadin himself. The result was soon put beyond doubt as a mix-up between Mark Edwards and his ‘keeper was seized upon by Binnie who clipped in goal number four. Gosnells responded by grabbing a greater share of possession and with ten minutes left a neat series of passes between Salvi Chavez, Graham Herd and Ian Maguire ended with the latter netting a deserved consolation
Bayswater City stay in third place after edging past Queens Park 2-1 at Frank Drago Reserve. Ryan Frisina scored twice for the hosts, who remain six points adrift of Canning, before Lucas Whitehouse bagged Queens Park a late consolation. Wanneroo City’s title aspirations are effectively over after being held 2-2 by Morley Windmills at Kingsway Sporting Complex. Rowdy Yates and Simon Woodward were on the scoresheet for Wanneroo with Morley’s goals coming via Michael McGrath and Julio Barendilla. Forrestfield United registered just their third win of the campaign by thumping Dianella White Eagles 4-1 at Dianella Reserve. John Hunter scored twice with A.Harold and K.Melling also finding the net for the visitors, whereas Dianella’s solitary goal came via Colin Hodge. The battle of the bottom two was taken out by Ashfield 3-0 over Rockingham City. Ian Charming, Jamie Kumkar and Martin Kelly scored the goals that lift Ashfield three points clear of the relegation zone. Further details of these four games were not forthcoming from any of the eight participating clubs.
OLYROOS TOO STRONG FOR NEW ZEALAND
A Mark Milligan goal twelve minutes from full-time has given Australia a 3-2 victory over New Zealand in a pre-Olympic Games friendly at North Sydney Oval. Milligan scored twice and Kristian Sarkies once to earn Graham Arnold's side victory. "At the moment I'd say that we are around 75% fitness levels and over the next three and half weeks we want to increase that by another 20-25% to peak in China," said the coach. Australia now heads overseas for a series of friendlies against China (20th July), Japan (24th July) and South Korea (31st July) in preparation for August's Games in Beijing.
The Olyroos imposed themselves from the outset with Milligan heading in a Sarkies corner after 26 minutes. But two minutes later Jeremy Brockie equalised for New Zealand with a header himself from a free-kick. Sarkies restored Australia's lead with a cracking volley after 38 minutes, then on the hour Brockie brought the teams level with a cool finish past advancing goalkeeper Tando Velaphi. The game was settled when Milligan fired in during a goalmouth scramble resulting from a Sarkies free-kick. Velaphi, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, and Nikita Rukavytsya were in the starting line-up with the latter replaced after 79 minutes.
MATILDAS PIP KIWIS
The Australian women's team have farewelled veteran defender Di Alagich by defeating trans-Tasman rival New Zealand 1-0 at North Sydney Oval. Alagich, wearing national team colours for the 86th time, received a standing ovation after being replaced late in the match. The only goal of the afternoon came after 35 minutes when Leena Khamis capitalised on poor defending at Heather Garriock free-kick by heading in over the advancing goalkeeper. New Zealand had the better of second half play but found genuine opportunities scarce as Australia's defence held firm under increasing pressure. West Australia-born Lydia Williams took over between the posts from Melissa Barbieri at half-time.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
For the Round Twelve Premier League match of the week we visit Litis Stadium where reigning champion Floreat Athena take on the newcomers of Mandurah City (3.00pm). This game has all the hallmarks of being an absolute cracker with top five consolidation on offer to the winner as the competitions tightest defensive unit comes up against it's most lethal attack. Brad Scott and James Isaia were influential in Floreat's dumping of E.C.U. Joondalup last time out when Daniel Niederberger scored twice. Captain Andy Brown has lead by example at Mandurah, who are coming off a five-goal thrashing of Cockburn City, and is sure to feature prominently along with Jeff Bright and Ryan Townsend.
Sorrento pay a visit to Wauhop Park, home of East Fremantle Tricolore, for a top verses bottom meeting with Fremantle Spirit (3.00pm). With a squad boasting State representatives Neil Young and Scott Bulloch, ace striker Todd Harnwell and rising star Lewis Flatt, few will be surprised the Gulls have been installed as pre-match favourite. Everyone at Fremantle is hopeful their re-location to Wauhop Park can breathe life into what has been a so far fruitless season. A young and comparitively inexperienced port side need big contributions from Steve Grant, Lee Hallums, Simon Elton-Bott and Callum Roberts if they expect to take anything from this game.
Inglewood United will fancy their chances against a revitalised Armadale at Clipsal Stadium (3.00pm). James Sammut's late strike against Fremantle Spirit extended Inglewood's winning run to five games and elevated the club into second place. The form of Matt Wardle and Davud Whiteside has been just two of many highlights during Inglewood's charge up the table. Armadale have come on in leaps and bounds with recent outings and will be in a bouyant mood after downing Stirling Lions last week. The core trio of Gary Faria, Kodi Madeley and Scott Devine were outstanding in that game and will provide import striker James Robinson plenty to work with in the final third.
Cockburn City can arrest their tumble down the table by taking the points over Swan I.C. at Dalmatinac Park (3.00pm). The return from suspension of Jason Godfrey and Adam Surjan adds muscle and experience to the Cockerals defence as Josh Kamasz and Giovanni De Bartolo go in search of goals at the opposite end of the park. Swan boss Paul Lincoln will hope captain Aaron Cole recovers from injury in time to take his place in the line-up. Geoff Mason and Andy O'Neill have impressed on the flanks while Damian Scali continues his fine form in the final third.
Western Knights and Stirling Lions head to Nash Field needing victory just to stay in touch with the leading pack. Daniel Trim, Paul Cooke and exciting young striker Anthony Skorich come back into contention for the home team, but their return is tempered by suspension to creative midfielder Luka Jukic and goalscorer Rory Grant. Stirling is bolstered by the return of Alan Muir (suspension) and Jordan Rhodes (work commitments) as they attempt to make amends for an opening day loss to the Knights. Darko Ilomanoski continues to lead from the back where he’s partnered by Michael Pugliese and Goalkeeper of the Year Phil Straker.
The round concludes with Perth S.C. up against E.C.U. Joondalup under lights at Dorrien Gardens (7.30pm). Bolivian import Roberto Lujan came off the bench to score Perth’s winner against Western Knights so his hand up is for a starting berth alongside Andrija Jukic, Todd Howarth and Antonio Naglieri. Chris Nicholson has been without key players due to injury since taking the reins of Joondalup, a situation compounded this week by Scott Blackmore’s departure for overseas. Ian McMurray and John Thornley are developing a good understanding in the final third where they’re benefiting from the supply of Scott Bushby and Tommy Amphlett.
Ashfield have home ground advantage against fellow struggler and Rockingham City in the pick of the First Division games. The importance of this game can not be under-estimated with the loser facing the very real danger of being cut adrift at the foot of the table. Balcatta welcome table topping Canning City to Graham Burkett Reserve, while a home win by South West Phoenix against Gosnells City will keep the pressure on the leader. Wanneroo City is tipped to beat Morley Windmills, while Bayswater City has hosting rights against a resurgent Queens Park. Forrestfield United have failed to live up to pre-season expectations and should provide little resistance for home team Dianella White Eagles.
GAMBLE PAYS OFF FOR LUND
After seven months backpacking through Asia and Australia John Lund took a chance by fronting unannounced at training with Armadale. It took only a couple of sessions for coach Brad Hassell to realise Lund had something to offer and within days the Englishman had made his State League debut. "I’ve managed to get used to the pace of the game, which is slower than back in the UK," he said. "It's also not as physical which is something I'm struggling with at the moment – two yellow cards in two games."
The attacking midfielder was impressive on debut at Western Knights and featured prominently in last Saturdays win over Stirling Lions. Lund is confident of another strong showing when Armadale visit an in-form Inglewood United this weekend. "It's a difficult game on Saturday against a team who are on a good run at the moment," said Lund, who is yet to play at Alfred Skeet Oval. "I'm looking forward to my first home game (next weekend against Sorrento), I’ve heard all about the Army fans."
Lund, 23, has been pleasantly surprise by the standard and quality of football played in the Premier League. "It's great to see sides trying to play football here," commented Lund, who began his career at Rotherham United before time in the English non-League with Cheltenham Saracens and Belmore F.C. "Back home you just get players trying to kick you - at least they try and get the ball down and play a bit of football which is good."
The signing of Lund could not have been better timed for Armadale who've improved considerably in recent outings to move clear of last placed Fremantle Spirit. "John had a great game against the Knights and backed it up last week against the Lions," explained Hassell, who played in the national league with Perth Glory and Adelaide City. "He's been a fantastic find at this point of the season for us, he's got a great engine, likes to tackle and can pass with both feet."
HENDERSON IN LIMBO
Kevin Henderson is unsure whether he’ll strap on the playing boots again this year. A serious back injury has prevented the veteran defender Henderson from donning Stirling Lions colours for the past four months his last appearance was the Night Series defeat of Inglewood United in March. And while Henderson is on the road to recovery it’s doubtful if he’ll be putting his hand up for selection any time soon. “I sustained the injury at work, it’s a lower disc problem which required surgery three months ago,” Henderson explained. “Due to the delicate nature of the injury it’s only now that I can look at starting any kind of rehabilitation program. At this stage it’s not known when I’ll be back out on the field.”
Since relocating the Macedonia Park at the start of 2006 Henderson has anchored the Lions defence, guiding them to back-to-back Cup final victories, successive top three finishes and, on a personal level twice winning the club prestigious Players’ Player of the Year. So with Stirling struggling for consistency this year and stuck in the bottom third of the table, Henderson would love nothing more than to lend his vast experience to the young Lions. “It’s never easy being spectator, especially when the team’s had the indifferent start to the season that we have,” he said. “We set ourselves high standards at Stirling so it’s not been easy watching the boys battling it out this year … I’d much rather be out there helping them.”
It really had been a bumpy few months for Stirling where coach Mike Lyons has been denied his preferred starting eleven by injury and suspension. “We’ve had several key players out with injuries and suspensions have been another frustration we’ve had to to contend with,” Henderson commented. “But we have a great group of youngsters at the club and they’re learning a lot at the moment. Michael Pugliese has done very well since moving into the central defence, while Dean Evans, Ludo Boi and Phil Arnold have all continued to progress. We’re also now seeing the best of Alan Muir, and hopefully young Stevie Hesketh will be back shortly as he has been sorely missed in what is a big season for him.”
The 2008 Premier League season has been the tightest in recent memory with only eight points between first and ninth at the halfway stage. Although Stirling are currently placed eighth, Henderson is tipping them to charge up the standings during the second half of the winter and finish amongst the leading pack. “A competitive League is good for the game and to have everything so close at this stage of the season is fantastic,” he said. “I think we’re going to see the cream rise to the top in the next few weeks and come the end of the season I expect the title to be fought out between Mandurah City, Perth S.C., Cockburn City, Sorrento and, hopefully, Maccies.”
SOUTH WEST ACADEMY “A MASSIVE BOOST” FOR FOOTBALL
Young footballers from the south of the state will be given the best possible chance of making it to the top after the sport was included as one of four on offer at the South West Academy of Sport. The academy, the first program of its kind in regional Western Australia, was officially launched late last week with a gala function in Bunbury where association football, Australian rules football, basketball and hockey were named as the four inaugural sports on offer.
Steve Suttie, one of the regions most successful footballers and a 174-game veteran with South West Phoenix, says the academy is a massive boost to the game in the region. “Football is booming in the South West and the inclusion into the academy means elite players will be able to stay at home in the South West and still get top quality training and education,” he said. “Placing football into the academy alongside AFL recognises the huge potential the sport possesses.”
South West Academy of Sport board chairman Don Punch said it was heartening to see the planning stages of such an exciting project head toward the finish line. “Regional Western Australia has a strong history of producing quality athletes,” he said. “The academy is an outstanding project which will provide increased opportunity for young talents to rise through the ranks and become State, national and international champions.”
The academy has been designed so up and coming athletes can benefit from an elite level of coaching and education without the burdens of travel or having to leave their homes to pursue sporting excellence. The program will be based at Bunbury’s South West Sports Centre and scholarships will be offered to 50 individual athletes. The State Government and South West Development Commission have so far committed almost $250,000 toward the program.
Top-flight football returns to Wauhop Park for the first time in fifteen years on Saturday afternoon when Fremantle Spirit hosts Sorrento. The port club will play all their remaining 2008 home games at the venue under an 'in principle' agreement with the Town of East Fremantle and the East Fremantle Junior Soccer Club. There are plans afoot for Fremantle's long-term occupancy of Wauhop Park as well as a major redevelopment of the venue.
Mandurah City has severed ties with defensive midfielder Keith Brown. The 29-year old was one of the Dolphins stand-out performers in their inaugural Premier League season but visa complications have forced Edinburgh-born Brown to return to the United Kingdom. Brown played professionally in England and Scotland before moving down under in 2003 since when he turned out for The City, E.C.U. Joondalup, Stirling Lions and Mandurah.
A spate of signing’s just before the transfer deadline expired has positioned Armadale well to climb clear of the relegation zone. In the space of just a few days coach Brad Hassell added to his squad teenager goalkeeper Beau Geerlings, former State youth representatives Andy Pomfret and Mo Atak, the later fresh from a stint in Turkey, midfielder John Lund and import strikers James Robinson and Naohiro Oishi.
Bayswater City striker Daniel Cagorski has been banned from playing for twelve months by Football West. Cagorski was given the ban - six months of it suspended on a probationary basis - after being found guilty of violent conduct towards a match official for his push on referee David Currie after being fouled late in the Cup loss to Hamersley Rovers in May. Under the "2008 Football West Disciplinary Regulations" Cagorski could have received a life ban.
The First Division game between Ashfield and Dianella White Eagles has again been moved, this time to Wednesday, 22nd July, at Ashfield Reserve from 7.00pm. The original Round Eight fixture was called off due to a waterlogged pitch and the two clubs tentatively agreed to play the match this evening. However, it turns out that date didn’t suit Ashfield and the game is now expected to go ahead in a fortnight’s time.
MATILDAS TRASHED IN CHINA
The Australian women's team has been defeated 5-0 by China at the Tianjin Olympic Stadium Auxiliary Field in Tianjin. The loss comes just days after the Matildas recorded a 2-1 win over China in a training match of four, thirty minute quarters. China took the lead in the 7th minute when Han Duan struck low and hard from the edge of the 18-yard box, and the margin was doubled by Zhang Ying in the 22nd minute. A penalty converted early in the second half by captain Li Jie made it three-nil with goals in the final ten minutes by Xu Yuan and Yuan sealing a home victory. West Australian goalkeeper Lydia Williams was an unused substitute for the friendly.
PERICH PREPARES TO FLY THE COUP
Swan I.C. are still coming to grips with David Perich impending departure for the United States. Perich, 20, has been a central figure in Swan's season to date, his creativity in midfield and driving runs into the final third resulting more often than not in goalscoring opportunities for those around him. But all that will come to an end early next month when Perich heads to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to commence an economics and commerce scholarship at Cardinal Strich College.
Confirmation of his scholarship came as a surprise to Perich who thought the opportunity had passed him by. “It’s just sinking in at the moment but I’m really excited on the move. I’m sure it will hit home once I have visa, flights and other odds and ends sorted out,” he said. “My hopes for over there football-wise are simple - to play well, improve my game and not quit during pre-season ... I imagine it may be a little hard as they train twice a day.”
Swan coach, Paul Lincoln, admits Perich will be missed but views his departure philosophically. “For David it is a great opportunity, and the club and I wish him all the best,” said Lincoln. “His departure will have an impact on our midfield, but it opens the door for someone else to rise to the challenge. We have a number of players itching for a starting role at the moment so it’s up to them to deliver.”
College starts on 12th August for Perich meaning he’s only a handful of games left for the black and whites before eighteen-months abroad. “We’ve been very competitive this season, and Linc’s has given the young lads a chance to shine and we’ve not let him down,” said Perich. “It’s also helped us this season that we’ve had no suspensions and have conceded less goals through stupid errors, which helps. These are the big two improvements on last year I believe.”
DEANS TAKES UP PLUMB JOB AT NEWCASTLE
Former Perth Glory defender Craig Deans has been installed as Newcastle Jets’ inaugural youth team coach. It’s a big step for Deans, 34, who officially ended his playing days last season and feels lucky to have worked with two of the A-League’s most talented, up and coming coaching tag-teams. “I’m very fortunate to work with Gary Van Egmond and Mark Jones. Over the last two years I’ve learnt more from them by being at the club than I learnt in the previous ten as a player,” said Deans.
Deans still has a lot to learn about coaching and is looking to Van Egmond and Jones for guidance. “Obviously Gary, with a Dutch background, works a lot on technique and he’s pretty forceful on getting the guys to work in those guidelines. Hopefully it’s something they can pass on to me and I guess they see my philosophy as being similar to theirs,” he said. “I know they’ll be there to give me a hand. I’m just lucky they’ve given me this opportunity. I might be half decent at the job, I may be no good ... only time will tell.”
The Jets youth squad will be finalised within the next few weeks with a series of trial matches as curtain-raisers to pre-season Cup games giving Deans an opportunity to assess his charges. “We’ll look at 16-18 players from which the final 10-12 will come from. Mostly they’ll be from the Newcastle area. It’s great for the young kids to have this available and the future of football in the Hunter (Valley),” he said. The National Youth League will be played prior to regular season A-league games across the nation.
Deans started his senior career with Bassendean Caledonian but it was during three seasons at Floreat Athena that things started to really take off. A move to Western Knights in 1998 preceded his State team debut in friendlies against Northern Spirit and Glory, the later offering Deans a professional contract. Over the next seven seasons he'd play 132 games at national league level for Glory, Carlton and Newcastle United. A serious knee injury forced Deans into retirment after just two A-League appearances for the Jets.
GLORY TRIO THRILLED, EXCITED BY OLYMPIC SELECTION
The depth of Perth Glory's young talent has been brought into sharp focus with three players selected to represent Australia at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Homegrown talents Nikita Rukavytsya and Tando Velaphi along with Canberra-born Nikolai Topor-Stanley included in the eighteen-man squad for China. Glory are the only club to have three players selected in the squad with Sydney and Melbourne having two each while Adelaide and Newcastle have one representative. The remainder of the squad is made up from overseas based Australians.
Inclusion in the Olyroos squad is the culmination of a rapid rise to stardom for Ukraine-born Rukavytsya, who arrived in Australia as a 14-year old in 2001. "It has come pretty quickly and my parents were really thrilled. They were crying with happiness and couldn't really talk when I told them," said Rukavytsya, who started out on the local stage with Perth S.C. "They were really happy for me and I'm really happy as well. Australia is my home now and I consider myself an Australian. I'm very proud to represent Australia at the Olympics."
Velaphi was heavily involved throughout the Olympic qualifying campaign and selection in the squad for Beijing is a worthy reward for his hard work. "I was very excited when I was told and I think it's something that every athlete aspires to achieve," commented Velaphi, who played alongside Rukavytsya at Perth. "Not many people can say they're an Olympian so I'm very proud to be representing Australia and really excited about being part of the team which I'm sure will do well."
Topor-Stanley has really made his mark in the past twelve months, winning Glory's 'Most Glorious Player' award and making his senior international debut for Australia. "It has been a big year with not much down time but this is something I love doing and to receive official confirmation that I'm going to be an Olympian is the icing on the cake," Topor-Stanley said. "We'll definitely take some confidence into our matches and if the squad can stay injury free and play to our potential then knows where we can go."
LOCAL REFEREES ON THE WORLD STAGE
Two Western Australian referees will be on international duty in the next month. Michael Nugus, 35, has been selected to officiate in the 2008 Champions Youth Cup being hosted by Malaysia, starting 5th August. Josh Mannella, 21, will attend a week-long Asian Football Confederation Project Future Program course in India commencing 26th July. Both Nugus and Manella will benefit greatly from the experience as they strive to break into the professional referee system.
Australian referees have a good reputation in the world game and their services are much sought after with the AFC as well as by FIFA. "It is important from a Football West point of view that we produce match officials here in WA capable of stepping up to both of these challenges," said Eddie Lennie, Referee Development Manager at Football West. "We are now sending WA referees overseas to officiate at high level competitions and I would hope that will have an effect on how their peers and any aspiring referee views a career in refereeing."
Nugus has been appointed to referee games featuring the youth teams of Olympique Lyon (France), Bayern Munich (Germany), River Plate (Argentina) along with Qatar's youth side. Also in competition between 5th and 16th August are FC Porto, Manchester United and Juventus, amongst others. The Champions Youth Cup is an under-19 tournament featuring twelve European and South America clubs plus four national teams.
Practical and theoretical sessions relating to refereeing, laws of the game, fitness testing and what it takes to be a top level referee await Manella in India. "Having been through the previous course in Kuala Lumpur late last year, it gives me the opportunity to extend my knowledge and continue friendships that I have made from the previous course," he said. "Ultimately I would love to attain a FIFA badge, but in the short term it is to establish myself at local level before building onto the A-League."
BRAZILIAN AMARAL SIGNS WITH GLORY
Former Brazilian international Amaral will wear Perth Glory colours during the fourth season of A-League football. The 35-year old defensive midfielder brings to Perth a wealth of experience having played with Palmeiras, Corinthians (Brazil), Benfica (Portugal) and Italian clubs Parma and Fiorentina. Amaral, whose full name is Alexander Da Silva Mariano, represented Brazil on 31 occasions and played alongside Dida, Roberto Carlos, Bebeto, Juninho Paulista and Ronaldo when Brazil claimed the bronze medal at the 1996 Altanta Olympic Games.
Amaral linked up with Glory on their two-game tour of Indonesia and made a positive impression on coach Dave Mitchell. “Amaral is a wonderful footballer, he’s the type of player we’ve been missing in the last couple of seasons,” Mitchell said. “His interplay with the rest of the team after just a short time is outstanding and all the lads have taken to him straight away and can see that he is a special player. He will be a terrific addition to the squad and Glory fans will definitely enjoy watching him play.”
Keen to see him under match conditions Mitchell thrust Amaral straight into action and he wasn’t disappointed. “Amaral is super fit and a complete professional in the way he goes about preparing for matches. His fitness was thoroughly tested in the hot and humid conditions and he came through with flying colours,” Mitchell said. “He has a real presence about him while also bringing a calming influence when on the ball. There are very few players in the A-League who play the same position that have his awareness and ability.”
The energetic midfielder is looking forward to playing in Australia and is confident of a successful season with Glory. “I am very happy to be part of the group and feel like I am part of a big family,” Amaral said. “The manager and players were very friendly and welcoming and I already feel like I have been playing for Perth Glory for a long time. I think the manager and players are very strong and that we have a big chance of making this an excellent A-League season for the Glory.”
He is also delighted to again be pulling on the purple strip after wearing similar colours during a successful stint at Fiorentina that included winning the Coppa Italia in 2000/01. “I’m very happy with the colour of the Glory, it is very similar to the colours of Fiorentina where I had a good time and still have a lot of excellent friends there,” Amaral said. The midfielder rounds out an impressive list of international recruits to join Glory this season, including Argentinean midfielder Adrian Trinidad, Ivory Coast striker Eugene Dadi and former Socceroo goalkeeper Frank Juric.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND ELEVEN (Sorrento v Swan I.C. by Peter Simcox; Cockburn City v Mandurah City courtesy Football West; Floreat Athena v E.C.U. Joondalup courtesy Floreat Athena)
Sorrento consolidated their place on top of the Premier League by thrashing Swan I.C. 5-0 at Percy Doyle Reserve. Todd Harnwell’s goal just before the break was the catalyst for a second half scoring spree from the Gulls in which Harnwell, Stuart Montgomery (2) and Scott Bulloch found the net. After a passive opening, Sorrento threatened first via Glen Thomas whose header was pushed over the crossbar by Daniel Agudelo, while the visitors best chance came via Damien Catalano who fired wide midway through the half. A few tactical changes by coach Steve Neville ensure the Gulls would dominate the remainder of the half as Scott Neville and Montgomery tested the goalkeeper, and Danny Cain volleyed just wide from a poorly defended corner. The non-stop pressure paid off in the 43rd minute when Bulloch’s cross from the left found Neville who flicked it on for Harnwell to fire into the net from 8-metres. Harnwell and Bulloch caused the visiting side no end of problems after the break as Sorrento sought to increase their lead. The game should have been levelled in the 55th minute but Geoff Mason blazed high from 5-metres. It would prove a costly miss as three minutes later an inch-perfect ball in from the right by Neville made it easy for an unmarked Harnwell to head goal number two into the roof of the net. Montgomery’s volley from 15-metres crashed off the post as the Gulls took control. A long-ball from Lewis Flatt picked out Montgomery whose exquisite first touch allowed him to drill low past Agudelo in the 68th minute. A deep cross from Neville three minutes later found Bulloch who headed powerfully across the ‘keeper and inside of the post to blow the gap out to four goals. Sloppy defending to a cross from Bulloch produced a goalmouth scramble from which Montgomery blasted into the net at close-range after 82 minutes. Swan went looking for a late consolation but Neil Young stood firm, denying Mason and Andy O’Neill leading into the final whistle.
Mandurah City returned to the winner’s circle after a three-week absence by dumping Cockburn City 5-0 at Dalmatinac Park. The Dolphins were well worth the win and on another day could have racked up double figures as Cockburn struggled to deal with the attacking threat of Phil O’Callaghan, Shane Crampton, Jeff Bright and Andy Brown. Cockburn fashioned the first genuine chance with a neat move that featured five players but Johnny Mirco’s final shot flew just wide of the post. Play went down the other end were O’Callaghan’s shot was deflected off the boot by Marco Aleksic. It was a warning the hosts failed to heed and to Chris Wiley’s corner Ryan Townsend rose highest to head in with 14 minutes on the clock. Mandurah weren’t content with their single goal lead and O’Callghan’s neat flick released Brown whose right footer came back off the post. A quick exchange going the other way ended with Mike Green tipping Aaron Dos Santos’ shot away from the top corner. The margin was increased six minutes from the break when Dale McCulloch’s rasping low drive looped off defender Liam Lilly and O’Callaghan showed his predatory instincts by volleying past teenage goalkeeper Nick Feely. Cockburn had a chance to hit back almost immediately but Dos Santos’ glancing header from a Josh Kamasz free-kick flashed the wrong side of the upright. The second half was one-way traffic with Mandurah doing all the attacking but unable to find a way past a stubborn Cockburn defence. The floodgates were finally prised open in the 68th minute when Aleksic’s poor back header was seized upon by O’Callaghan who applied a cool finish to which Feely had no response. O’Callaghan turned provider three minutes later by cutting the ball back from the byline to Brown whose crisp low shot gave the ‘keeper no chance. The final whistle was just moments away when Brown slammed a vicious shot into the roof of the net from a seemingly impossible angle to put the icing on Mandurah’s cake.
A goal at the death by Bolivian import Roberto Lujan stole Perth S.C. a 3-2 victory from their clash with Western Knights at Nash Field. Unfortunately, Ton Klaver’s display overshadowed an otherwise entertaining contest with six players entering the referee’s book and a further two were sent off. Early chances were simply non-existent as the two sides sized each other up and probed for weaknesses in the final third. Perth eventually gained the upper hand and Antonio Naglieri should have done better when presented with an open goal. After several near misses, the hosts hit the back of the net in the 38th minute when Andreas Oliviera played the ball to Andrija Jukic who waltzed unchallenged into the 18-yard box area and slotted left of goalkeeper Kevin Miller. A minute later Daniel Micevski turned the ball over and crossed to the far post where Rory Grant angled a fine header across Gareth Deeg to bring the sides level. The Knights took the lead into the break after Josip Peran’s neat pass down the right allowed Daniel Micevski to drive forward and slip the ball to Mario Marcinko who fired past Deeg. Perth started the second half with more purpose and another strong run from Andrija Jukic set-up the equaliser for David Onoforo who kept his cool despite the presence of David Annall. David Micevski, Grant and Luka Jukic had goal bound shots blocked as the Knights went in search of their third. Just as Perth were regained control Danskin was issued two yellow cards in quick succession after a penalty appeal went against him. Grant could have sealed an away victory minutes later but sent the ball high from a Jon Mathers cross. Perth made them pay in the final minute when Nagilieri played a free-kick short to Howarth whose first time pass into a crowded goalmouth was poked in from 4-metres by Lujan. Klaver was surrounded by Knights players when the final whistle sounded shortly after and from the melee Grant was shown his red card.
Daniel Neiderberger scored twice to earn Floreat Athena a 2-0 win from their meeting with E.C.U. Joondalup at Litis Stadium. Some great possession accompanied by a solid defensive display helped Floreat command the game without too much threat from a Joondalup side that simply failed to turn up on the day. Floreat created some good chances to take the lead in a frenetic opening but neither Neiderberger, Brad Scott nor Branimir Mikulic were able to capitalise. Ante Kovacevic, Jovo Pavlovic and Julian Madaschi ran a tight ship at the opposite end where the visitor's only opening came via the inventiveness of Tommy Amphlett who was eventually thwarted by Adam Bachiller. Vatista's pass on 21 minutes sent Neiderberger past the offside trap and after taming the ball with his chest the striker lashed his shot into the net, past the advancing Bobson Koroma. After going ahead Floreat slipped into cruise control and allowed Joondalup to come at them with Scott Bushby influential in the middle. However, the visitors lacked intensity and the closest they came to equalising was through a poorly defended corner that Ian McMurray sent goalward but was cleared by Paul Vatistas. Dean Apelgren, Vatistas and James Isaia dictated the flow of play as Floreat went on the attack after the break, and they would have extended their advantage if not for some timely interceptions by Craig Simpson. As the game came to a close Mikulic headed in a Miki Vujacic cross only to have his effort disallowed for a foul on an opponent, and minutes later Madaschi's free-kick from wide on the right was nodded just wide by Bachiller at close-range. The points were made safe on 82 minutes when Bachiller's smart one-two with Apelgren led to a through ball for Neiderberger who raced cleared of Scott Blackmore, who lost his footing on the slippery surface, and applied a crisp finish to which Koroma had no response.
Armadale put some distance between themselves and the drop zone by upsetting Stirling Lions 1-0 at Macedonia Park. Gary Faria's delightful long-range chip midway through the first half was enough to secure victory for the away team, who move five points clear of Fremantle Spirit at the foot of the table. English striker James Robinson provided Stirling an early scare with a great pass to Faria who expertly turned his marker but sprayed high in the 7th minute. Ten minutes later Phil Straker's sliced clearance was gathered wide on the right by Faria who, spotting the goalkeeper off his line, sized the situation up perfectly by sending the ball into the net from some 30-metres. The remainder of the half was a scrappy affair in which the ball was regularly turned over and shots kept to a minimum. The battle for midfield superiority was being won by Faria, Kodi Madeley and Scott Devine who had too much muscle and wit for their younger opponents. Stirling's best chance came late with teenager Rory Feely smashing the crossbar having flashed the ball past Cyril Sharrock. The Reds 'keeper twice came to their rescue after the break, tipping Matthew Italiano's goal bound shot onto the post and later producing a truly world-class save to deny Leo Harman from long-range. Stirling's push for an equaliser was almost their undoing on several occasions but having broken on the counterattack Armadale were unable to apply the finish they sought, and probably deserved. Robinson went closest in the 82nd minute by turning the defence inside out to get off a shot that Straker gloved and Steve Porter headed to safety off the line. Stirling kept on fighting right up to the end and Michael Pugliese should perhaps have done better than hit the side netting with the goal at his mercy late in the piece.
Inglewood United moved into second place following a hard-fought 2-1 defeat of bottom of the table Fremantle Spirit at Clipsal Stadium. Kevin Griffiths and James Sammut got the goals for Inglewood with Jason Pottier bagging Fremantle' s reply. Further details of this game were not forthcoming from either of the participating clubs.
FIRST DIVISION, ROUND ELEVEN (Ashfield v Canning City by Phil Unsworth; South West Phoenix v Morley Windmills courtesy South West Phoenix; Queens Park v Gosnells City courtesy Gosnells City)
Canning City remains unbeaten at the halfway stage of the season following a 3-0 win away at Ashfield. It took only 3 minutes for Canning to open their account through Duncan Hind who nodded in at close-range after Paul Harvey headed Mick Van Dongen's free-kick back across the face of goal. Unfortunately, much of the passion then disappeared from the game with the teams struggling for control of midfield and creating little goalmouth action. The game burst into life minutes into the second period after Harvey headed into the side netting from Mick Van Dongen's long throw-in. Within minutes Michael Smirelli was called upon to come off his line and thwart Anthony Zinga who'd broken clear of the defence. In fact, the greater thrust came from Ashfield who frequently turned over possession to have the visitors under pressure. The turning point came on 73 minutes when Simon Versaico, who'd been on the park just eight minutes, cut past several opponents and along the top of the 18-yard box before striking a low drive into the corner of Matt Darling's net. Zinga's dipping shot which crashed into the crossbar three minutes later would be the closest Ashfield came to scoring. Victory was assured just before full-time when Versaico out-jumped the defence to head in Mick Van Dongen's cross from the right.
South West Phoenix made it four in a row with a comfortable 3-0 win over Morley Windmills at the Soccerdrome. It was clear from the outset that Phoenix meant business but an unability to bring Steve Suttie and Gary Mayers into the game made for a quiet afternoon for the strike partners. Thankfully, teenage midfielder Ryan Binnie knows a thing or two about scoring and on 19 minutes he opened their account with a classy header from David Murphy's cross. Patrick Quinn and Greg Hayes went close with strikes from long-range, while goalkeeper Chris Ramsey was given a reprieve after failing to control a back pass which bounced luckily back to him after hitting the post. The hosts second arrived five minutes from the break when Suttie's delivery from the right was met by a bullet-like Binnie header into the top corner. Morley may have played with greater composure after the break but a lack of creativity in the final third produced few genuine openings. Kieran Kavanagh put the icing on the cake by latching onto a chipped pass from Mayers and rounding the 'keeper to net the hosts' third from a tight angle.
Gosnells City’s revival continued with a 2-0 win against Queens Park at Coker Park. It was clear from the outset that Gosnells meant business as Ian Maguire and Mark Edwards controlled play to the extent that their hosts spent much of the opening quarter hour bottled up in their defensive half. Their dominance was rewarded in the 19th minute when a long Ciaran Allen throw was flicked on by Darren Francis and Alan Claxton snuck in to knock the ball past goalkeeper Robbie Easton. Queens Park’s solitary shot on goal came shortly after as Tyson Woodfin cut in from the left and directed the ball to the top corner but Alan Dunlop was well-placed to prevent it from crossing the line. Gosnells desire for further goals saw Francis twice go close with headers, and Claxton almost got his second by meeting Graham Herd’s cross. The margin was eventually doubled on 40 minutes when Aaron Nadin’s throw-in was helped on by Francis and at close-range Ian Maguire nodded past the ‘keeper. The second half failed to come to life with Queens Park defending deep and showing little desire to chase the game. Claxton had a cracking half volley saved by the ‘keeper as Gosnells sought a third goal, while Francis should have done better than place wide after working free of his marker.
Bayswater City lost valuable ground on the leaders after being held to a scoreless draw at home by Balcatta. Wanneroo City moved back into fourth place courtesy of a 4-2 win against Forrestfield United at Hartfield Park. Brian Cairney (2), Rowdy Yates and Gareth Davies got the goals for Wanneroo on a day when A.Harold and Jordan Hart were on target for the host club. Dianella White Eagles extended their unbeaten home run to five games with a 2-1 defeat of struggling Rockingham City. Andrew Keary gave Rockingham the lead after 25 minutes but that was cancelled out by James McPhail with Jon Greenwood grabbing a late winner. Further details of these three games were not forthcoming from any of the six participating clubs.
MAGDIC EARNS GLORY VICTORY IN INDONESIA
Perth Glory completed their pre-season trip to Indonesia by defeating Super League side Deltras Sidoarjo 1-0 this evening at Deltras Stadium in Sidoarjo, east Java. Midfielder Josip Magdic, signed during the summer from Floreat Athena, scored the only goal of the match after 25 minutes to silence an enthusiastic home crowd of around 5,000. New goalkeeper Frank Juric kept a clean sheet in first outing for the club, while in attack Eugene Dadi and Adrian Trinidad built on their chemistry to create a number of chances on goal.
David Mitchell used the game to try different combinations and was more than happy with the results. “It’s always nice to get the win but our main focus was to build our cohesion as a unit and I’m really pleased with how that is progressing. Deltras are a strong side and we were coming off a couple of hard training days but the boys maintained their intensity throughout he match and deserved the result,” said the Glory coach. “We achieved everything we set ourselves to do over here - we have been able to spend plenty of time together as a group both on and off the pitch and the tour has been a very positive part of our pre-season build up.”
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
This weekend marks the halfway stage of the State League season and with just five points between first and ninth positions every game is a potential season breaker. The pick of the round takes place at Dalmatinac Park where second-placed Cockburn City take on fourth-placed Mandurah City. Both teams suffered heavy losses last time out, Cockburn at Joondalup and Mandurah to Sorrento, so are out to make amends. The absence of defenders Jason Godfrey and Adam Surjan through suspension could not have come at a worse time for Cockburn as they take on a Mandurah side for whom Phil O’Callaghan and Andy Brown have been netting almost at will.
Premier League leader Sorrento welcomes Swan I.C. to Percy Doyle Reserve. The Gulls have lost just once to Swan at home in seven seasons and coming off a resounding win against Mandurah have rightfully been installed as favourite. Todd Harnwell and Scott Bulloch are sure to keep the visitors on their toes in attack while Steve MacDonald has been a pillar of strength at the back. Swan have not won away from home this year but will be strengthened by the return from injury of former State goalkeeper Corey Hugo, Paul Baczynski and John Mansaray.
Inglewood United are tipped to register their fifth straight win when Fremantle Spirit visits Clipsal Stadium (aka Kiev Sports Ground). Lee Bamber’s team is playing some quality, attacking football at the moment with James Sammut and Jason Colli in terrific form going forward, while defensively Shane Pryce and James Duncan run a tight ship. By contrast, Fremantle are winless after ten League outings and face an increasingly difficult task of climbing away from the relegation zone. Steve Grant and Simon Elton-Bott are sure to find themselves under pressure at the back as Jason Barerra and Callum Roberts go searching for goals.
Floreat Athena will be seeking revenge when they welcome E.C.U. Joondalup to Litis Stadium. Michael Roki’s team were depleted when eliminated from the Cup a fortnight ago by Joondalup, but with a number of key players back in the line-up this promises to be a much different encounter. Goals have flowed freely for Brad Scott who’s benefited greatly from the service of Adam Bachiller and Miki Vujacic. A hat-trick last weekend took Ian McMurray’s regular season tally to nine goals, and with Garin Collins and Craig Simpson facing former team mates spectators are assured of a crackerjack contest.
Long-time rivals Western Knights and Perth S.C. square off at Nash Field. The Knights go into this game full of confidence have beaten Perth 3-0 only a fortnight ago in the Cup. The contributions of Rory Grant, David Micevski and David Annall, who has been superb since returning to the club a few weeks back, will go a long way in determining how the afternoon pans out for the Knights. Andreas Oliviera sets up a lot more than he scores for Perth who have the creative talent of Antonio Naglieri and Greg Sharland providing the ammuntion.
A young Stirling Lions line-up won convincingly last week and a similar performance on home soil tomorrow will earn them victory against second from bottom Armadale. Versatile teenager Dean Evans has come on in leaps and bounds this year and together with Jordan Rhodes and Leo Harman will have a fair influence over the outcome of this game. There’s no doubt Armadale are a team on the up since Gary Faria returned to the midfield and James Robinson came on board to lead the attack. They’ll be further bolstered by Cyril Sharrock’s return from suspension.
Round Eleven of the First Division season is the highlighted by the make or break clash between Bayswater City and Balcatta at Frank Drago Reserve. Both teams entered the season as serious title contenders but a loss tomorrow could see them slip well off the pace. Pacesetter Canning City are yet to lose a league encounter this year and it’s hard seeing that running ending away at struggling Ashfield. South West Phoenix are expected to take maximum points from their home clash with Morley Windmills. Wanneroo City are home to Forrestfield United, Dianella White Eagles host bottom side Rockingham City, and Coker Park hosts the derby clash of Queens Park and Gosnells City.
GLORY TRIO BEIJING BOUND
Tando Velaphi, Nikita Rukavytsya and Nikolai Topor-Stanley have been given the thumbs up by Olyroos coach Graham Arnold. The Perth Glory trio were today named in Arnold's eighteen-man squad for the forthcoming Olympic Games in Beijing. The three over-23 places have been filled by Archie Thompson, Jade North and David Carney. The Beijing campaign is expected to be a tough one for Australia who've been drawn in the same group as Serbia, Ivory Coast and world super-power Argentina.
After a grueling Asia-group qualification campaign in 2007, the task of selecting eighteen players was never going to be easy for coach Graham Arnold. "It was a difficult job selecting the team ... I had a look not only at current form of the players but their form right through the qualification campaign," said Arniold. "The three overage players will bring both attacking and strong defence to the team," Arnold said. "We have a lot of work to do over the next month to build up our fitness even more and make the best of it in Beijing."
The Australia squad for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games is Kristian Sarkies (Adelaide United), Ruben Zadkovich (Derby County), Adrian Leijer (Fulham Athletic), Trent McClenahan (Hereford United), Neil Kilkenny (Leeds United), Billy Celeski, Archie Thompson (Melbourne Victory), Jade North (Newcastle Jets), Matthew Spiranovic (Nurnberg), Nikita Rukavytsya, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Tando Velaphi (Perth Glory), Adam Federici (Reading), David Carney (Sheffield United), Mark Bridge, Stuart Musialik (Sydney) plus uncontracted pair Mark Milligan and James Troisi.
SAMMUT STARS IN THE SPOTLIGHT
A blistering second half performance from young gun James Sammut paved the way for Inglewood United to dispatch Swan I.C. 3-1 last weekend. Sammut showed his quality with a couple of well-taken goals either side of the hour to move Lee Bamber’s team into third place after ten games. “We’re playing confidently at present and it showing in the results,” he said. “Everyone’s contributing and competition for places is intense. The midfield is chipping in with the majority of the goals which is great, but Lee has our feet firmly on the ground as it’s a long season.”
Lee Bamber, who took over as coach Bobby Despotovski in February, was thrilled with Sammut’s display in the Swan Valley. “I told him after the game it was his best performance since he’s been at the club,” said Bamber, a former professional at Preston North End. “James took the game by the scruff of the neck in the second half and scored two quality goals, and he was everywhere on the pitch. He was a little too deep in the first half and he wasn’t affecting the game as we would have liked so we told him to move a bit further forward and he got on the scoresheet and began to dominate the game.”
The early season change of coach didn’t prove disruptive for Sammut who feel both Bamber and Despotovski have provided some useful tips on improving his game. “It’s been a good transition in the coaching department as sometimes it takes time to get used to a new coach, but Lee was involved as assistant when Bobby was in charge,” he explained. “They are both good technical coaches, and Bobby is still down at the club which is great. They have both given me some great advice and I hope I’ve rewarded them with my performances.”
Sammut’s form this year hasn’t gone unnoticed with the youngster amongst those in contention for a place in the Perth Glory Youth team coached by club legend Gareth Naven. “I’m in the final 22 players for the squad which is fantastic, and we should hear sometime next month regarding the final squad,” said Sammut, whose rising up through Inglewood’s ranks in the past four seasons. “There are some good footballers in the last group so I hope I’ve done enough to be selected, it would be a huge challenge but one I’m looking forward too.”
MARCINKO TO THE RESCUE (courtesy of knightsarmy.net)
Mario Marcinko has been the talk of the town this week after his audacious final minute ‘strike’ snatched Western Knights victory from Armadale on Saturday. Only minutes were remaining when the 20-year old striker flicked his boot at a Josip Peran cross, catching the ball on the volley with his heel and looping it over the stranded goalkeeper. Marcinko admits the execution wasn’t perfect but that he did intend score. “I meant to do it - though I was going for the far post, not the near one,” he said. “But it came off my boot so cleanly and when I saw it go in I was ecstatic.”
Marcinko had come off the bench just twelve minutes before scoring as replacement for the tiring Anthony Fearon. “I was thinking of just getting out there and hopefully trying to make a difference,” he said of thoughts upon entering the game. “My main focus was to help the team and to score a goal. I wanted to pick my confidence up. Ronnie (Campbell) and Willie (Kelly) told me to stay on the last man and work with Rory and wished me luck … I wouldn’t go as far to say it was my best goal ever, but it was probably one of the most creative I have scored.”
Despite grabbing the winner last weekend, Marcinko knows there’s still a lot of work to be done in order to convince the coaches he’s deserving of a starting berth on Saturday’s home fixture with Perth S.C. “I have to knuckle down and train well this week and get picked,” said Marcinko, who sits behind Scottish-born Grant, Perth Glory trialist Anthony Skorich and Australian Schoolboys international Fearon in the Knights pecking order this season. “I heard Tonchi (Skorich) comes back on Sunday, so hopefully I’ll be able to start.”
Marcinko has had something of a nomadic life in football so far with spells in Canberra, Sydney and now Perth. “I started off playing football at Canberra Croatia, which is now Canberra F.C., and I then moved to Belconnen and went through the ranks there,” he explained. “After that I got a scholarship at the A.C.T. Academy of Sport. I went to Cooma F.C. before travelling to Argentina for half a year and trained over there. I came back to Australia and played for Sydney United last year, then this year I came to Perth.”
Ten games into the season and the Knights find themselves in tenth place with just three wins to their credit. Marcinko says that lowly placing is by no means indicative of their potential. “Winning the Cup and finishing in the top four would be a great achievement, and I think it’s achievable. Even though we didn’t start the season well we have plenty of quality in the squad to achieve this,” said Marcinko, who aspires to one day play the game professionally. “I’m hoping for a career in football … to play in the A-League and somewhere in Europe would be a dream come true.”
Jason Petkovic has made his first competitive appearance in close to two years. The veteran goalkeeper took his place between the posts on Sunday in Perth Glory's 2-1 pre-season friendly defeat of Indonesian champions Persik Kediri. Petkovic moved freely and made several good saves in his first outings since the removal of a pin inserted in the leg he broke against central Coast Mariners at the start of the 2006/07 season.
David Perich days at Swan I.C. are numbered. The 20-year old midfielder jets out to the United States early next month to take up an economics and commerce scholarship at Cardinal Strich College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The loss of Perich will be a major blow for Swan who have relied heavily on his creativity and non-stop work ethic coming out of midfield this year.
Mark Redshaw’s brief flirtation with the State League is over. Redshaw arrived on the local stage in a blaze of glory, scoring three goals on debut and hailed as the player to lead Stirling Lions to Premier League glory in 2008. However, the nippy marksman netted just once in a further eight appearances and departed Macedonia Park for the last time this week to continue his career in Asia.
E.C.U. Joondalup’s goalkeeping ranks have been left threadbare with Brynn Hindley’s departure for Scotland. The teenager, a former State junior representative, heads abroad to commence a two-year contract with long-serving Premier League club Dundee United. Hindley’s departure comes hot on the heels of Tommi Tomich’s move to Victoria where he’s joined South Melbourne.
The postponed First Division match between Ashfield and Dianella White Eagles will be played next Wednesday, 9th July, at Ashfield Reserve from 7.00pm. A waterlogged pitch prevented either team from stepping out on the original Round Eight match date in late May. The Reserve team game is to be played seven days later, 16th July, at Ashfield Reserve also with a 7.00pm kick-off.
‘DAVID AND GOLIATH’ SEMI-FINALS
The 2008 association Cup has produced a couple of 'David and Goliath' semi-final encounters. Amateur outfit Hamersley Rovers have been pitted against Premier League high-flyer Sorrento, while Western Knights go in as underdog against E.C.U. Joondalup. Both games are scheduled for Litis Stadium on Wednesday 20th August, Hamersley and Sorrento get the ball rolling at 6.00pm followed by the Knights and Joondalup at 8.30pm.
Although happy with the draw received, Steve Neville is cautious not to look too far ahead to a potential derby final meeting with Joondalup, should both teams make it that far. "We've drawn the lower league team, and they have two or three ex-Sorrento players, so they will have a point to prove," said the Sorrento coach. "We are happy with the draw but it is a potential minefield, as everyone expects Sorrento to win the game."
Hamersley boss Kevin Clifford has mixed feelings about meeting the Gulls. "I've played for the club and still support them and watch them every week," Clifford commented. "They are a good side, but I would have preferred to have drawn one of the other teams. It's a one-off game and anything can happen - it is the year of the underdog, we are happy to be in the competition and getting the opportunity to play Saturday (league) teams."
Chris Nicholson is eager to end Joondalup's run of six years without a trophy. "It is our biggest opportunity for a trophy (this year), it is a good competition and we are going to take it very seriously," he said. "We have done it the hard way so far, but to win the competition you need to beat the best teams and you are always going to draw a good team in the semi-finals. It is a one off game and they (Knights) will certainly be up for it - but so will we."
Knights coach Ronnie Campbell also feels the Cup holds his teams side's only realistic chance oflifting a trophy in 2008. "It is without doubt our best chance for silverware," said the clubs' long-serving coach. "We have had a disappointing start to the League season, so the Cup is our best opportunity; it is a special day (the final). We will do what we can to get not only our first team, but also our reserves through to the final."
NEW DEALS FOR ASTON VILLA PAIR
Shane Lowry and Chris Herd are amongst a dozen Aston Villa youngsters rewarded for their efforts last season with new deals. Lowry and Herd, both 19, put pen to paper on two-year contracts this week having impressed the senior coaching staff. The pair have progressed up through the ranks since initially moving to Villa Park on two-year Youth Training Scheme deals in February 2005.
Lowry played youth team football at E.C.U. Joondalup prior to joining Villa. Although a regular for the Reserves during the past 18 months, his only senior appearance was in a pre-season friendly against Stoke City last August. Lowry has played internationally for the Republic of Ireland at Under-19 and Under-21 levels.
Herd, who turned out locally for Bayswater City, has also featured prominently for the Villa Reserves. He made his English League debut last January while on loan at Port Vale, where he scored twice in eleven appearances. Herd then signed a one-month loan deal with Wycombe Wanderers for whom he played four times before returning to Villa Park.
EDWARDS, WILLIAMS RECEIVE COACHING SCHOLARSHIPS
Alistair Edwards and Nicola Williams have been awarded Elite Coach Development Program scholarships by Football Federation Australia. The scholarships provide a springboard for coaches to reach the top of the profession through the provision of a program customised to the individuals' level of expertise, skills, interests and aspirations. Scholarships, each valued at $25,000, were also awarded to former Socceroo captains Alex Tobin and Paul Okon.
Edwards, director of football with Perth Glory, said he was delighted to be chosen as one of four recipients of the scholarship. "I am pleased to be provided with this opportunity to further my coaching education," said the former Socceroo. "I have enjoyed being involved in the national teams programs for the past five years and with this scholarship I will be able to gain further experience and knowledge of the game."
The opportunity to broaden and enhance his coaching skills in Europe is something that particularly appeals to Edwards. "The scholarship will provide me the opportunity to learn from and work with the best coaches, clubs, academies and players in the world," he said. "I am looking to go to Spain and Holland and also spend time with the Qantas Socceroos in the lead up to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, as well as completing the FIFA Pro License."
Nicola Williams, coach of the National Training Centre women's program and the State Under-17 girls team, is the only female scholarship recipient. "I am extremely proud to be given the opportunity and this shows how important women's football is in Australia as it can sometimes go unnoticed," she said. "I have a huge passion for the sport and am very excited about the road ahead."
"The scholarship will give me a chance in providing the best for our current NTC squad and future WAIS (Western Australian Institute of Sport) team," Williams added. "With my teaching background, I can provide support for our specialist football schools as well as provide and strengthen links with national teams and international clubs," she said. "In the future I hope to be able to be involved in the mentoring of other future female coaches within Australia and providing coach education to the women's game."
ARNOLD PONDERS OLYMPIC PUZZLE
Potential Olympians have been given their last chance to impress Graham Arnold at a training camp in Darwin. Arnold ran the rule over 27 players during the fortnight long camp which culminated in a two-game friendly series with Chile. "The purpose of this camp was for me to make critical selection decisions and also to prepare the players for the Beijing Olympic Games," said the national Under-23 coach. "Now my coaching staff and I have a very difficult task in selecting the final squad that will go to the Olympic Games." West Australian's Tando Velaphi, Nick Ward and Nikita Rukavysta were amongst those who attended the camp.
A crowd of 1,404 was on hand to see the Chile defeat Australia 4-3 in Friday's first international played in the Northern Territory. Australia opened the scoring after 20 minutes through Aaron Downes only for Esteban Paredes to restore parity soon after. Chile edged in front via a Boris Sagredo half-volley early in the second half, Downes equalised in the 68th minute then Troy Hearfield grabbed Australia the lead. The sides were level for a fourth time thanks to Eduardo Vargas before Paredes scored the winner with five minutes to go.
An entertaining 1-1 draw was the outcome of Sunday's second meeting between the Australian and Chilean Under-23 teams. 1,780 fans turned out at the Darwin Football Stadium to see Kristian Sarkies put the Olyroos ahead from the penalty spot after 27 minutes. Australia dominated the game and if not for the goalkeeping heroics of Gregory Saavedra could have extended their lead on a number of occasions. Chile's patience paid off midway through the second half when Felipe Seymour finished off a one-on-one opportunity with 'keeper Chris O'Connor.
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This page was last updated on the 31st August, 2008