ALL GOING TO PLAN FOR WARD
The growing number of stamps from Asian nations in Nick Ward's passport is an indication of how quickly the midfielder's life has changed. In the last few months, Ward has visited North Korea, Thailand and Japan while South Korea and China also feature in his imminent travel plans. Upon returning to the A-League last December the 23-year old midfielder helped spark his clubs late season surge and in more recent times has been a key figure in their inaugural Asian Champions League campaign.
Ward has enjoyed coming face-to-face with the regions best players and the challenges of playing against a variety of styles. "I've enjoyed playing in the AFC," he said. "It's a lot higher standard than the A-League especially when you come up against a Japanese team like Gamba Osaka - they've got lots of international players. You can tell the quality, especially in their front third. If you give them opportunities, they tend to take them."
Having addressed a groin injury which plagued the start to his days with Melbourne, Ward is excitedly looking forward to the up-coming Beijing Olympics. "Since coming back to Australia with Melbourne Victory I recovered from a hernia operation and things seem to be going a lot better," he explained. "I haven't missed any games with Melbourne Victory and it's really good for me to look forward to the Olympics in August."
The prospect of playing Serbia, the Ivory Coast and defending champions Argentina this August provides Ward the biggest challenge of his career to date. "You get only one chance to play in the Olympics - it's a great honour to represent your country," he said. "The draw is a very tough one. Serbia are always good at youth and national level. Ivory Coast will be tough (and) Drogba's shown interest that he wants to play in the Olympics. And the Argentinians speak for themselves." ward is hopeful selection and a strong showing in Beijing can springboard him into the senior Australian squad. "I've had a lot of experience with the younger teams and I've always been a starter with them," he said of his time with the national youth teams. "Obviously there are players ahead of me and I've got a lot to learn to come up to their standard. You've got Timmy Cahill, Mark Bresciano and those sorts of players ahead of you but all you've got to do is be given a chance and you never know."
REDS READY TO TURN THE CORNER SAYS BENNION
Armadale may be winless from three starts but Matt Bennion has every confidence the Reds are on the verge of turning their season around. The 22-year old defender has seen a lot of change at Alfred Skeet Oval in the past few years and says Brad Hassell’s recent overhaul is close to paying dividends. “The players had a good pre-season and we achieved a few good results during the Night Series,” said Bennion, a product of Armadale’s youth system. “We haven’t had the best of starts to the season but we have a fairly new side and a new coach. I think we’re improving with each game and soon we’ll be getting results.”
The off-season appointment of Hassell, a former national league player with Perth Glory, is a sure-fire sign of Armadale’s desire to make their mark in the top flight. “Brad is settling in fine at the club, he’s played at a high level and he brings a lot of experience and knowledge with him. The players are always learning new things from him and that bodes well for the future,” commented Bennion. “Brad has brought a number of players and we’ll take time to gel, but they’re all settling in well and the more games we play the better we’re going to get. A few of the players bring some good experience to the club which will be beneficial for the younger players coming through.”
Hassell, too, is confident of an Armadale revival and points to the form of Bennion as one of the early season highlights. “Matt’s versatility makes him a very important player for this club,” said Hassell, who coached at First Division Morley Windmills last year. “He’s a fantastic man marker, and can play in defence or midfield. It’s good to know that if we need to make a change that Matt is capable of filling a number of roles for us. His consistency is amazing - he gives you nine out of ten every week - and I’m sure he’ll be a big part of the Armadale’s future.”
MANSARAY COMES UP WITH THE GOODS
When a teenage refugee from Sierra Leone turned out to trial for Swan I.C. in 2005 never did he imagine that within a few short years later he’d be playing first team. But that is exactly the dream that’s come true for 21-year old John Mansaray who has been a shining light in the opening rounds of the new season. It began with a best on ground performance in the home win defeat of Cockburn City, continued with a starring role against champions Floreat Athena while on the weekend he found the net in Swan’s spanking of Perth S.C. “I’m really enjoying my football at the moment - it’s a great experience playing first team football,” said Mansaray.
A strong pre-season has improved Mansaray’s overall fitness level and provided him the confidence to press for a regular starting spot under new coach Paul Lincoln. His clever use of the ball and electrifying pace have proven decisive in the Swan engine room where Mansaray operates alongside another of the clubs rising stars, David Perich. “It’s my first pre-season with the club and I’m now seeing the benefit,” said Mansaray. “I’ve formed a good midfield partnership with David and we sort of complement each other which augers well for the season.”
Lincoln believes Mansaray has a bright future in the game and will feature prominently for the club in coming years. “John has started well this season and it’s all down to his hard pre-season,’ explained the Swan coach. “There’s no doubt he’s got ability - you don’t win the Football West Under-23 Player of the Year if you can’t play. This year he’s a lot fitter and his attitude and approach to the game have both changed. John has adapted well to first team football and I hope he continues on with his progress as he will be a valuable player to this club.”
GARCIA DETERMINED TO RETURN
Richard Garcia says he is desperate to win his fitness battle and stake a claim for honours with both Hull City and Australia. The 26-year old is keen to play a leading role in the Tigers' push for the Premier League despite missing their last three games due to a shoulder injury. "I'm hopeful I'll be back sooner rather than later," he said. "You want to be able to play when it matters most. It's disheartening that I can't be involved, but I know the boys will do a job regardless. It hurts that you can't help your team out. As a footballer you want to play in all the big games and in a run-in like ours, these are exciting times."
Garcia, who was recently added to the Socceroos training squad, believes his summer move to the KC Stadium has now been fully justified. "Coming to Hull was something I knew would move me forward," said Garcia, who left Colchester United on a free transfer last July. "I felt that if I was moving along in my club football, I could also move forward in other parts of my career. This season, we've made a few headlines and people have started to recognise me a bit more." Victory in this Sunday's final game of the season, away at Ipswich Town, can secure Hull promotion to the top flight for the first time in their 104-year history.
‘UNFINISHED BUSINESS’ MAY TEMPT LAZARIDIS TO PLAY ON
Perth Glory’s decision to dump Stan Lazaridis could back fire with several A-League clubs showing interest in the former Socceroo. The veteran feels he has unfinished business in the national competition and would seriously consider any interstate offer before deciding whether it’s time to retire. But of Lazaridis does play on it’s likely to be on a performance-based contract and the proviso he does not line-up against his former club. “I’m haven’t officially retired,” said Lazaridis. “I am very close to it, but I’m not sure whether I am ready to hang up the boots yet. I still feel like I have some unfinished business, something still burns inside of me … There may be a few options for me but if I do go on I don’t want to play against Glory - I would feel too bad, it would feel too weird.”
The former West ham United and Birmingham City winger may not have fielded any official offers but there is believed to be strong interest in obtaining his services. While a full-time contract is a possibility, the more likely outcome is a month-by-month deal for the left-sided specialist. “To me, a performance based deal makes perfect sense to me,” commented Lazaridis. “I wanted to play on and importantly, still felt like I could be a major contributor to the teams success. On a pay-per-play contract I would have been made accountable for every minute I was on the pitch, every cross I whipped in.” Melbourne Victory, Sydney F.C. and Adelaide United have been suggested as possible destinations for Lazaridis.
WOMEN’S PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND THREE (by Penny TannerHoath)
Northern Redbacks maintained their perfect start to the season by downing Cockburn City 5-1 at Beale Park. With coach Tim Hodgson overseas, Redbacks captain Carys Hawkins stepped in to guide a young side to their second win from as many starts. Ciara Conway and Elise D'Ovidio shared the goals as Cockburn's defence shook under the Redbacks onslaught. Cockburn's third straight loss keeps them rooted to the foot of the table and has coach Kristina Antonic thinking long and how about how she can turn around their season.
Mandurah City suffered their first loss of the season when out-played 2-1 by University of WA. The first half was very much a case of one-way traffic with university winning the midfield battle, however, wayward finishing and some superb goalkeeping from Sara King kept the teams level. That was until five minutes from the break when F.Simmons was afforded space to pick her spot past King from 16-metres. The game looked over when M.Kolker increased University's lead midway through the second period. But Mandurah refused to give in and minutes from the end Nicola Pritchett benefited from a sleeping defence to score the goal of the game.
Subiaco United accounted for Nedlands 3-0 when they met a Rosalie Park. The turning point came late in the half when Nedlands custodian Penny TannerHoath was stretchered off after colliding with an opponent. Replacement 'keeper Katy Rutter did well as the midfield trio of Joanne Weigel, Cathy Young and Carol Howes took control after the break. The pressure eventually proved too great as Weigel, Sonja Felderholf and Donna Harris tallied up goals for the home side. Michelle Kent and Rana Amasha stood out in a Nedlands defence which was worked overtime by their opponent.
Queens Park collected maximum points for the first time this season by defeating a flat East Fremantle 2-0 at Wauhop Park. Midfield dynamo Amy Thorpe scored once either side of half-time to secure victory for Queens Park. Teenage playmakers Monique Gordon and Brittany Woodfin stood out for the visiting side, while a glancing header from newcomer Ebony Drane skidded along the crossbar as they sought to add a few more to the tally. The Balcatta-Beckenham Angels contest was postponed.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND THREE (Swan I.C. v Perth S.C. by Peter Simcox; Stirling Lions v Sorrento by Kerry Slater; Mandurah City v E.C.U. Joondalup courtesy Mandurah City)
Swan I.C. surged to the top of the Premier League table by crushing Perth S.C. 4-0 in sunny conditions at the Swan Italian Club. Damien Scali. John Mansaray, David Perich and Aaron Cole found the back of the net as the hosts went on a second half goal blitz to crush their traditional rival. The day could have ended so much differently had David Onoforo and Andreas Oliviera been able to make the most of their early opportunities. Swan carved out their first opening on 10 minutes when Alex Cocking was sent clear only for Gareth Deeg to race off his line to block the youngsters low shot. Perth went close twice in quick succession as Cory Hugo pushed away Onoforo’s strike, then inside sixty seconds Gianfranco Circati headed wide when found unmarked at a corner. As the half came to a close the visitors stepped up the pace with Todd Howarth clipping the top of the crossbar, Robbie Puca rifled narrowly wide and Oliviera denied by Cory Hugo. The game was turned on its head eight minutes into the second half when a disputed handball decision against Puca resulted in a penalty that Scali fired low past Deeg to give the home side the lead. On 73 minutes the margin became two as Justin Hugo’s long ball out of defence was helped on by Cocking to Mansaray who coolly sent a low shot past Deeg. Perth’s response was immediate but a shot on the turn by substitute Andrija Jukic flashed wide while Cory Hugo did well to keep out Oliviera’s low effort. The game was ended as a contest in the 83rd minute when Scali’s delivered a superb pass to Perich whose sweet first time shot curled over Deeg and into the top corner from 22-metres. Cole put the icing on the cake in stoppage time by deflecting a Perich shot into the net from a partially cleared Ando corner.
A large crowd were treated to an enthralling 1-1 draw between Stirling Lions and Sorrento at Macedonia Park. Jordan Rhodes created the games first opening with a far post cross to Andy Brown who was disappointed that no one on hand to put away his nod back across the face of goal. It took 11 minutes for Sorrento to threaten when Stuart Montgomery headed straight at Phil Straker from a Stuart Banks cross. This sparked a period of intense activity from the Gulls in which Steve McDonald’s looping header was held by Straker, and Shaun Kilkelly headed high from a Glen Thomas free-kick. So it was against the run of play that Stirling went ahead after 29 minutes when a low cross from the right by Rhodes deceived Neil Young and bounced through to an unmarked Redshaw who guided the ball in from 2-metres. Sorrento regrouped and leading into the break Todd Harnwell cut the ball into the path of Thomas who was thwarted by an alert Straker who, a minute later, was a full-stretch to tip Montgomery’s shot around the post. The start of the second half saw referee David Currie issue a spate of cautions in a tight battle for midfield supremacy. Montgomery smacked a low shot into the post in the 67th minute as Sorrento began to gain the upper hand. And they waited only another four minutes before drawing level as Michael Ord relayed possession down the right for Todd Harnwell who slid the ball in for Montgomery to belt past Straker from 12-metres. The crowd was kept on the edge of their seats as the teams traded attacks without delivering a knockout blow. Redshaw squirted the ball just wide after getting in between Kilkelly and Young. Eight minutes from the end Thomas’ corner resulted in a goalmouth scramble that bobbled against the bar before Straker saved the day by literally putting his body on the line.
Two goals just before half-time ensured Inglewood United claimed all three points from their home date with Western Knights. A good size crowd braved the chilly, overcast conditions to see Bobby Despotovski outline his pedigree with a well taken penalty before laying on the sides' second scored by Kevin Griffiths. The first chance of the afternoon came the way of Dennis McRoberts who expertly lost his marker on top of the 18-yard box but sent his shot past the upright. What followed was a scrappy contest in which the ball was turned over with regularity and as a consequence very few cut chances on goal came about. Half-time was four minutes away when Griffiths' driving run into the area was illegally halted by Jon Mathers, referee Jeremy Oliphant pointed to the spot and Despotovski did the rest to put Inglewood a goal the better. Only a couple more minutes elapsed before Despotovski neatly turned his marker to lay the ball off to Griffiths whose curling shot from 17-metres snuck inside the post to leave the Knights stunned. It was only after the break that the visitors finally started asserting some pressure as Luka Jukic stamped his authority in the middle of the park. An early Jukic corner was volleyed goalward by Anthony Fearon but Shane Pryce was well placed to clear off the line. A second corner a minute later was cleared only as far as Keith Butler whose drilled shot clipped the top of the crossbar. Despotovski should have put the result beyond doubt when sent through with only the goalkeeper to beat but blasted well wide of the target. And late in the piece Michael Baczynski worked his way inside the penalty area but his low centring pass was behind Griffiths and the chance was lost.
The Hyundai Stadium is turning into something of a fortress for Mandurah City who dumped E.C.U. Joondalup 2-1 in front of a big, boisterous crowd. Goals from Jeff Bright and Phil O’Callaghan ensured Mandurah remain unbeaten on home soil this season. The early advantage was in favour of Joondalup who forced a series of corners, none of which troubled goalkeeper Mike Green. Mandurah slowly got into rhythm and went close though Bright who flashed a header just wide from a precision cross by Andy Brown. Gary Attrill profited from some fine work by O’Callaghan but his low drive fizzed just wide of the target. Jon Higgins was causing problems down the left and could have put the visitors ahead when found in space by Martyn Ashworth but placed wide as Green narrowed the angle. Bright laid the ball off to debutant Michael Currie whose effort sailed high as the home side sought the lead. Their increased desire paid off in the 44th minute when Bright’s shot deflected off the leg of Anthony Jones and looped into the net over an unfortunate Tommi Tomich. Parity was restored early in the second half by Higgins who fired his free-kick past the defensive wall and an unsighted ‘keeper following a foul on Tom Jones. This stung the Mandurah into action and chances again began to flow with Andy Brown heading high and O’Callaghan twice sent shots past the post. The centre of the park was controlled by Keith Brown and Andy Brown, and it was the latter who threatened next with a rasping drive which cannoned off the upright. Just when it seemed the game would with the points shared O’Callaghan jinxed his way past two opponents before ramming the ball into the roof of the net at the second attempt to snatch a deserved victory for the home side.
Floreat Athena picked up their first win of the campaign by out-classing Fremantle Spirit 3-0 in a one-sided encounter at Litis Stadium. Raphael Insurralde, Brad Smith and Garin Collins found the back of the net for the home side who were rarely troubled by a young and inexperienced Fremantle line-up. Daniel Neiderberger showed some good early touches on his Floreat debut which was curtailed after 15 minutes by a lower leg injury. A terrific exchange of passes between Insurralde and Collins in the 27th minute lead to the latter backheeling through the defence for his Argentinian team mate to slot coolly into the net from 15-metres. The game opened up a little more as half-time neared leading to several chances at both ends of the park. Fremantle put themselves in a position to draw level with a streaming attack orchestrated by Cisco Jorquiera but wayward passing in the final third robbed the visitors of what would have been a deserved chance on goal. The second half was only minutes old when Floreat strung together another series of fine passes which ended with a Branimir Mikulic cross to which Scott rose high and headed past goalkeeper Steve Grant. Ante Kovacevic could have wrapped up the game shortly after when found unmarked but blasted high of the crossbar from 16-metres. John Migas, Paul Vatistas and Kovacevic called the shots as Floreat dominated possession without creating too much in the way of goalscoring chances as Fremantle chased the deficit. By contrast, the port side struggled to compete with their opponents although Jorquiera and David Araya did work tirelessly in attempting to revive their flagging fortunes. The hosts third and final goal came on 86 minutes when Adam Bachillor's cross from the left evaded a sea of defenders before making its way to Collins who stroked the ball at the far post.
Cockburn City made it back-to-back victories by dumping Armadale 3-0 in Sunday's meeting at Alfred Skeet Oval. Johnny Mirco scored twice and Josh Kamasz once to inflict a third successive loss on Armadale who played three-quarters of the game with ten men. Johnny Mirco rifled narrowly wide with just a couple of minutes on the clock to make the visitors intentions crystal clear. A long-range strike by Giovanni De Bartolo was scooped up by goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock who also thwarted Johnny Mirco after being sent clear by Michael Mirco. Armadale were dealt a crippling blow on 22 minutes when Joseph Brunetto was red carded for handling Jason Godfrey's close-range shot on the line, and with the resulting penalty Johnny Mirco put Cockburn one-up. Dom De Felice fired wide and De Bartolo high as the visitors pressed for a second goal, while Dejan Aleskic was called into action for the first time shortly before half-time to keep out Scott Devine's free-kick. The second half mirrored the first with Cockburn on the attack and Armadale doing all they could to prevent the margin from blowing out. Sharrock was at his best in turning wide De Bartolo's long-range drive, and minutes later brilliantly pushed away a Liam Lilly header. Armadale sparked into life briefly with Jason Goodwin forcing an instinctive save from Aleksic, while Oliver Hilton placed wide not long after. Daniel Palermo and Mileta Miletic were denied by Sharrock in quick succession before Lilly squandered a great chance by heading high from a couple of metres. Ryan Pearson almost brought the teams level on 75 minutes after receiving Stefan Smiljanic's flick on but slammed his first time shot just wide. The result was put beyond doubt nine ninutes later when Kamasz got his angles right to head under Sharrock from Paul Natale's delivery. Johnny Mirco converted his second spot kick in stoppage time after referee Troy Miller ruled Matt Bennion to have impeded the Cockburn livewire.
FIRST DIVISION, ROUND THREE (Queens Park v Wanneroo City courtesy Wanneroo City; Rockingham City v Canning City by Phil Unsworth)
Wanneroo City went two points clear at the top of First Division table after thumping Queens Park 6-2 at Coker Park. Ben Yates, Cesar Meylan and David Herety called goalkeeper Robbie Easton into action early as the visitors started with a bang. Their reward came on 20 minutes when Meylan benefited from a defensive slip and fired Wanneroo into the lead. Queens Park worked their way back into the game and five minutes from the break Ian McKean equalised by converting a penalty awarded for a foul against Stephen Cowborough. Within minutes the home side were in front courtesy of Reuben.Karpeh who slipped the defence and beat Daniel Holgate in a one-on-one situation. An ear-bashing from coach Gerry McEwan during the break had its effect on Wanneroo who'd dominate the second half. Parity was restored on 52 minutes when Rowdy Yates crisply volleyed in a fine corner from Herety. The writing was on the wall for Queens Park when Freddy Navarro was dismissed for a soft foul on Meylan, and Brian Cairney made no mistake with the resulting penalty. Five minutes later Ben Yates caught the home defence flat-footed to effectively end the game as a contest. The margin blew out in the closing stages with Rowdy Yates and Herety taking the hosts tally to six for the afternoon.
Bayswater City leapt into second place following their 4-0 demolition of South West Phoenix at the Soccerdrome in Bunbury. Both teams took their time to settle into the game with the opening chance coming after the quarter hour when Ahmed Hafez fired wide as Phoenix goalkeeper Ryan Montgomery narrowed the angle. Steve Suttie and Gary Mayers threatened to put the hosts ahead midway through the half but neither was able to find a way past Gianni Papalia. A miscued clearance by Alex Dawson opened the door for Hafez who guided the ball past Montgomery from 15-metres to hand Bayswater the advantage. Ryan Frisina entered the fray at half-time and almost immediately began causing the Phoenix rearguard problems. The gap was widened on 53 minute when Morgan Dendle made his way to the bye-line before laying the ball back into the path of Adrian Sutton to blast in from 7-metres. Phoenix weren't about to give up hope as Rory Binnie forced a good save from Papalia. But Frisina ended any chances of a home revival by robbing one defender and rounding another before placing his shot wide of the oncoming 'keeper. The sealer came not long after when Frisina headed in at close-range after Dendle's strike from distance came back off the crossbar.
A trio of rapid-fire goals early in the second half earned Canning City a 3-1 win against Rockingham City under lights at Lark Hill Sporting Complex. The game didn't really get going until midway through the first half when both Paul Harvey and Daniel Trevisiol flashed shots across the Rockingham crossbar. However, it would be the hosts who'd find the net first through a sweetly struck shot by Craig Howard from the edge of the 18-yard box. Canning wasted a golden opportunity to level straight from the restart when Rory Mouttet was felled inside the area, referee Steve Knight pointed to the spot but Paul Oliver drove his spot kick wide. Harvey made amends on the stroke of half-time by heading past Craig Olenjik from Michael Van Dongen's delivery. The second half was minutes old when Harvey's cross from the right deflected off Stuart McCall and past his own 'keeper to put Canning in the driving seat. Oliver turned provider in the 64th minute by sending in a free-kick for Harvey to head in his second of the night. The game was all but over when Ryan Allomes' near post corner was forced over the line at close-range by Dave Mickler. The final margin would have been much greater if not for the heroics of Olenjik who worked tirelessly between the posts for Rockingham.
Balcatta registered their first win of the campaign by seeing off Forrestfield United 4-1 at Hartfield Park. While both teams saw their fair share of possession on early it was Balcatta that went forward with the greater conviction. Andy O'Neill sent the visitors down the path to victory on the hour half by making the most of some hesitant defending and rifling into the net from 10-metres. The visitors began the second half full of running and deservedly increased their tally through Tom Gaca who headed in a cross from O'Neill. It was backs to the wall stuff for Forrestfield who conceded again in the 55th minute when Adrain Zonato broke through to whip in a cross which Julian Piromalli nodded in. Good lead-up play down the right eight minutes later put the ball with David Moschilla who was took quick for the defence and slotted under the advancing goalkeeper on 63 minutes. The game reached flashpoint sixteen minutes later following an altercation between Zonato and Trent Wood which ended with both being red carded. There were five minutes left on the clock when Kynon Melling crashed a direct free-kick into the net to earn Forrestfield a late consolation goal.
The points were shared between Gosnells City and Dianella White Eagles who played out a pulsating 3-3 draw at Walter Padbury Reserve. A foul on Miladin Gligoroski after 16 minutes produced the first goal that Matt Butler struck through the defensive wall from just outside the 18-yard box. The sides were brought level seven minutes later when Darren Francis flicked the ball on to Allan Claxton whose well-placed shot evaded Matt Battigelli’s out-stretched arms. The home side soon had the lead as Graham Herd charged down the right and centred for Francis to guide the ball into the net. Aaron Moschopoulos brought the teams level right on the stroke of half-time by nodding Butler’s well-executed far post corner past Jade Thorpe. Second half possession was evenly shared with both teams creating opportunities but unable to convert. All that changed in the 70th minute when Alan Crofts lung-bursting run ended with him cutting the ball back to veteran Peter Vukmirovic who made no mistake. But the home team were not yet finished and Herd played the ball across the top of the area to Claxton whose spectacular right foot shot is sure to be a contender for the goal of the season.
Morley Windmills picked up maximum points for the first time this season by accounting for neighbouring Ashfield 3-1 at Wotton Reserve. Wayne Culverwell (2) and Paul Dundo got the goals for Morley with I.Charming scoring on the hour for the visitors. Further details of this game were not forthcoming from either of the participating clubs.
NAVEN LEADS GLORY YOUTH
The next generation of Perth Glory stars will be in safe hands following the appointment of inaugural captain, Gareth Naven, as coach of their new Youth League side. Naven enjoyed a long and successful career with Glory in which he played 143 matches and won the Most Glorious Player award in 1999/2000. Naven’s passion for the game saw him move into the coaching coaching arena after hanging up his playing the boots. "I'm delighted to be at the Glory in a coaching capacity and look forward to putting together a youth structure from the ground up," Naven said. "There is enormous potential in our state's young footballers and we'll be doing everything we can to provide a pathway for them to achieve their dream of playing at the highest levels."
Glory chief executive Scott Gooch said Naven's experience and knowledge of youth development made him stand out in a high quality field. "Gareth's appointment is a coup for our new youth programme," Gooch said. "He has a strong history of identifying and developing players in Western Australia and a vast knowledge of the exciting talent that is coming through the state's youth system, many of whom we hope will one day take the field for the Glory in the Hyundai A-League. It is a bonus that he happens to be a former captain and player, but first and foremost we were looking for a coach with the right mix of experience and passion for this vital role and Gareth ticked all the boxes."
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
The footballwa.net match of the week is the traditional derby between Swan I.C. and Perth S.C. at the Swan Italian Club. Swan have made a positive start to the home and away series with youngsters John Mansaray and Michael Tronchin performing well along with Aaron Cole and Cory Hugo. Perth haven’t lost in ten outings and they’re keen to not only extend that run but also consolidate themselves amongst the competition pacesetters. David Onoforo has made an superb return to Dorrien Gardens and along with Andreas Oliveira will keep the home defence on their toes, while Andrija Jukic and Antonio Naglieri are sure to assert their influence in the middle of the park.
Macedonia Park is the venue for the blockbuster showdown between Stirling Lions and Sorrento. A hat-trick on debut put Mark Redshaw amongst the headlines last week for a Stirling side driven by Phil Arnold, Alan Muir and Jordan Rhodes. Stuart Montgomery, Todd Harnwell, Scott Neville and Glen Thomas have been in fine form the Gulls who are one of four unbeaten teams after two games. Sorrento has won four of the past five meetings between the clubs so have good reason to be confident of collecting another three points.
Mandurah City have impressed in their first two games in the Premier League but will need to be in peak form to topple E.C.U. Joondalup when they visit Peelwood Parade. Floreat Athena will be seeking their first win of the campaign when Fremantle Spirit drops in at Litis Stadium. Michael Roki’s side has been far from convincing in their first two games of the season but are tipped to stem the tide in front of their home fans. Three valuable points are up for grabs at the Kiev Sports Ground where Inglewood United and Western Knights square-off.
The Sunday game has Armadale searching for their first point of the season against Cockburn City at Alfred Skeet Oval. Brad Hassell took a number of positives from the Reds outing at Sorrento, namely an impressive performance by Stefen Smiljanic in attack and the defensive contributions of Daryl Platten, Matt Bennion and goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock. Cockburn City required a stoppage time winner to see off Fremantle Spirit last time out and new coach Mirko Jelicic will be looking for big efforts from young ‘keeper Dejan Aleksic, Liam Lilly, Michael Mirco and Johnny Mirco as they seek maximum points. All six Premier League games kick-off at 3.00pm.
The pick of the First Division games takes place at Hartfield Park where a young and enthusiastic Forrestfield United come up against pre-season title favourite Balcatta. South West Phoenix are looking to extend their unbeaten start to the season when Bayswater City visit the Soccerdrome in Bunbury. Queens Park should provide little resistance for away team Wanneroo City. Morley Windmills are home to local rival Ashfield, while Gosnells City welcome Dianella White Eagles to Walter Padbury Reserve. Canning City would be wise not to underestimate Rockingham City when they meet at Lark Hill Sports Complex. All six games commence at 3.00pm on Saturday
ON THIS DAY … 1916
World War One took a massive toll on soccer in Western Australia with close to 300 players and officials enlisting in the Australian Forces. Although all competitions were suspended for the duration of the Great War, one club felt its effects more than any other - Caledonians. The club, formed in February 1913, had no less than twenty-seven players and officials sign up for the war effort on Europe's mainland.
Eleven players from the Caledonian first team of 1914 and 1915 fought in the war, namely Alec Cowan, James Cowan, Bob Dewar, Jim Durward, David Henry, Richard Leonard, Frank Lyon, Alec Marr, Dave McKinnon, Roger McKinnon and Jamie Simpson. Of the group six players - James Cowan, Henry, Leonard, Lyon, Dave McKinnon and Simpson - would never again set foot on Australian shores, all dying on the battlefields of Turkey and France. In addition Alec Cowan and Durward were wounded in action.
By the end of the Great War the majority of the Caledonians staff had also served the nation. This included another twelve players in James Anderson (wounded), Frank Beisley (wounded), Charlie Braidwood (wounded), Donald Cameron (wounded), James Chalmers, William Chalmers (died), William Earnshaw, James Gourley (wounded), James McFarlane, Alex McPherson (gassed), Charlie Monteath (died) and J.Thompson. Team officials Alec Brown, George Brown, Charles Grieve (wounded) and David Reid also answered the call to arms.
INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL: THE FIRST DIVISION PREVIEW
Promotion and relegation between the Saturday Premier League and First Division remains one-up, one-down as per last year. Balcatta, Bayswater City and Canning City have already singled themselves out as championship material but lining up behind them and waiting to pounce are a host of other contenders. Early indications suggest the battle to avoid the drop will be fiercely contested by Ashfield and Queens Park, however, a slow start could see any one of a number of clubs sucked into the relegation mire. This week Brett Klucznik takes a close look at each of the twelve clubs, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and makes a few predictions as to how the 2008 First Division season will play out ...
FLOREAT SIGN KIWI INTERNATIONAL
Former New Zealand midfielder Brad Scott has bolstered Michael Roki's attacking options as Floreat Athena attempt to go back-to-back. Scott, who's played 17 times for New Zealand, is expected to make his debut for the State League champions in Saturday's visit Fremantle Spirit. "Brad recently moved to Perth and has been training with us for a few weeks," explained the Floreat coach. "He's a mobile midfielder with a good eye for goal and will help us restore balance after the departure of Josip Magdic and Jerry Karpeh. Brad's a strong finisher with a good work ethic and he comes to us with an impressive record of scoring goals."
Having completed last season without loss, Floreat have managed to pick up just a single point from the opening two rounds of the new season. Roki feels the opening day loss to Mandurah City and last weekend's draw at Swan I.C. has shaken any lingering complacency out of his side. "The loss to Mandurah was timely wake-up call for us, and we corrected a few things for the game with Swan where he picked up a point," explained Roki. "We've continued to address the problem areas of our game and training has been very solid this week with the squad raring to make amends at Fremantle."
"THE INSIDER" PREVIEWS 2008 : THE FIRST DIVISION
"The Insider" this week provides us a sneak peak into how the 2008 First Division season will pan out for each of the twelve clubs and introduces their unofficial mascots. Over the course of the year "The Insider" will contribute news snippets, rumours and general gossip to this website - if you have something worth telling then please let "The Insider" know by email to Football_WA_Insider@hotmail.com or by sending a private message via the Bayswater City Forum to Football_WA_Insider. Anonymity will be maintained when requested.
|CANNING CITY||Unofficial mascot : The James Bond franchise
Always puts out a good movie but never make a classic.
|BAYSWATER CITY||Unofficial mascot : Waterworld
Just proves big budget doesn't equal box office success.
|BALCATTA||Unofficial mascot : Dukes of Hazzard
Small screen success doesn't necessarily equate to a big screen bonanza.
|SOUTH WEST PHOENIX||Unofficial mascot : Back to the Future
Everyone loves it despite being set October 26, 1985.
|FORRESTFELD UNITED||Unofficial mascot : Goonies
Who would've thought that a movie with so many kids could be so good?
|WANNEROO CITY||Unofficial mascot : Rocky V
Just as things go up, they must also come down.
|MORLEY-WINDMILLS||Unofficial mascot : Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
Great movie back in the day, now just another ordinary flick.
|GOSNELLS CITY||Unofficial mascot : The Rock
Coming out is good - escaping with three points is even better.
|DIANELLA WHITE EAGLES||Unofficial mascot : The Next Karate Kid
As the years go on the badder the movies get.
|ROCKINGHAM CITY||Unofficial mascot : National Lampoons
Different location but same Grizzwald humour.
|ASHFIELD||Unofficial mascot : Grease 2
Without the stars this sequel could be the biggest flop in history.
|QUEENS PARK||Unofficial mascot : Blues Brothers 2000
Had disaster written all over from the start.
2007 Golden Boot winner Jerry Karpeh has officially been released by Perth Glory. Karpeh, currently playing for Victorian State League club Whittlesea Stallions, has been invited to trial with A-League outfit Wellington Phoenix in May. Should he be unsuccessful in landing a deal with the New Zealand-based outfit there's every likelihood Karpeh will return to local ranks with Floreat Athena.
Former Liverpool trainee Steve Porter has re-joined Stirling Lions. Porter, the hero of last year's dramatic Cup final win against Cockburn City, Porter arrived in Perth this week fresh from a spell at Cammell Laird in England's Northern Premier League Division One South. Porter will add bite to the Stirling midfield where he's likely to accompany Scottish import Marc Anthony.
Bajo Savic has joined his Floreat Athena team mates on the tracking track for the first time in eight months. The Floreat captain underwent a knee reconstruction during the off-season and this week continued his recovery with some light running around Litis Stadium. Savic missed the latter stages of last season after injuring his knee in late August's 2-0 away defeat of Cockburn City.
Armadale will be without star recruit and playmaker Gary Faria for the next couple of months. The former Perth Glory midfielder made a positive start to his time at Alfred Skeet Oval by scoring twice in the Reds' encouraging Night Series campaign. However, Faria's season has been interrupted by a scheduled trip abroad that will prevent him from taking to the field until late-June at the earliest.
A foot injury will prevent Josip Madgic from turning out for Floreat Athena any time soon. The goalscoring midfielder will shortly go under the surgeon's knife to remedy the problem after which he's expected to commence pre-season training with Perth Glory. Magdic was one of the stars of Floreat's championship winning side last season and agreed terms on a new Glory contract earlier this month.
Please contact 'The Insider' via firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any club news or gossip, transfer rumours or general scuttlebutt for inclusion in future editions of Short Passes.
FOOTBALL SUPERSTAR! COMES TO PERTH
The process of unearthing the next Australian whiz-kid is the aim of Fox8's new reality television series 'Football Superstar!' Local players aged between 16 and 21 to attend are invited to trial for the show this Sunday at Dorrien Gardens but you have to be early as registrations close at 9.15am. The top ten will be invited to attend a two-day trial in Sydney where they'll compete with players from around the country for one of fifteen spots on the show. 'Football Superstar!' will turn one youngsters dreams into reality with the winner guaranteed a one-year contract with A-League heavyweights Sydney F.C. as well as a one-year scholarship at Macquarie University.
U’S MUST PLAY FOR PRIDE : COYNE
Colchester United defender Chris Coyne is urging his relegated team to regain some pride by impressing in their final two games of the season. The U’s let slip a half-time lead on the weekend to suffer a humiliating 5-1 loss to Coventry City on home soil. With games against Stoke City and Scunthorpe United coming up, Coyne is calling on his team mates to finish strongly before facing up to life back in League One next season. “We’re playing for pride now, we’re already relegated and we’ve got a point to prove,” he said. “That’s not the sort of point or the reflection they we want people to take on this group of players. We’re a lot better than that, heads are down but we have to pick ourselves up for a big game against Stoke next week. We’re a strong unit and a proud unit and we’ve got to make sure we pick ourselves up for the remaining two games.”
REDSHAW STARS ON STIRLING DEBUT
Stirling Lions chances of ending 2008 with silverware received a major boost following the arrival of one-time England youth international Mark Redshaw. The dynamic 23-year old was offered a year-long deal with Stirling last week and immediately repaid their faith by bagging a memorable hat-trick in Saturday's 5-2 away win at Inglewood United. With Stirling two-down, Redshaw brought his new club back into the game before half-time by twice out-muscling the home defence, while after the break his predatory instincts inside the penalty area enabled him to complete his haul and put Stirling well in control.
Praise came from on high for Redshaw following his best on ground display. "Some of the old boys were saying it was the best debut of any player to don the Macies strip since the clubs beginning," enthused Stirling president Don Evans. "Mark may stand at just over five and a half feet but he's a giant in the finishing department. He beat the offside trap for his first, turned a couple of defenders inside out for his second and clinically blasted in his third from Andy Brown's cross ... a true master of his trade is Mark 'Lionheart' Redshaw."
Redshaw's professional approach to the game makes him a perfect role model for Stirlings youth brigade. "He goes about his work in such a professional and efficient manner and all the young boys at the club are in awe of his sharp skills and no-nonsense manner," added Evans. Redshaw played six games and scored four goals for the England Under-17 team while playing youth team football at Manchester United, Wrexham and Manchester City. Time with English non-League sides Radcliffe Borough and Rossendale United preceded spells with U.S. Triestina (Italy) and L.A. Galaxy (United States).
LAZARIDIS’ GLORY DAYS ARE OVER
The playing future of Western Australia's greatest ever player, Stan Lazaridis, is in doubt after being cut from Perth Glory's playing roster. The club confirmed this afternoon they had not offered Lazaridis a contract for next season following a meeting between the former Socceroo and Glory coach David Mitchell. "Stan has been a wonderful ambassador for Australian football over a significant period of time," Mitchell said. "Moving forward and putting together a squad for the season ahead I've had to make some tough decisions and not offering Stan a new contract has been one of the toughest of all."
Mitchell thought long and hard before making his decision to not re-sign 35-year old Lazaridis. "There was a possibility that we could have nursed Stan though another season in the A-League but I don't think that would have done him or the club any favours. This is a vital campaign for the Glory and every single person in our squad will be called upon and they must be ready for action. After looking at the various scenarios I felt for the long term prosperity of the club and the development of our exciting young talent that this was the best course of action."
In a glittering professional career Lazaridis played 395 games for Adelaide United, West Ham United, Birmingham City and Glory. His 60 'A' international appearances for Australia make Lazaridis the nations eighth most capped player. Unfortunately, Lazaridis return to Australia was far from a roaring success. The left-sided specialist featured in only 13 games across his two seasons with Glory due to injury and a positive drug test for prescription alopecia medicine which resulted in a 12-month ban from playing.
Lazaridis has reportedly attracted interest from other A-League clubs but he is also believed to be interested in coaching. Glory chief executive Scott Gooch said the door will always be open for Lazaridis to continue his involvement with the club in an off-field capacity. "Stan is a terrific person and will always be welcome at Perth Glory," Gooch said. "I look forward to sitting down with him once he has had time to think about the next stage of his life and hopefully that could include an off-field role with Perth Glory."
GARCIA GAINS LONG OVERDUE CALL-UP
Richard Garcia could end a memorable first season with Hull City by winning his first international cap for Australia. The 26-year-old winger was notified late last week of his inclusion in Pim Verbeeks' training squad as the Socceroos prepare to play five internationals in the next two months. Garcia has been earning rave reviews this season for a Hull side chasing promotion to the Premier League. Tigers' manager Phil Brown was delighted to break the news to Garcia, who is currently sidelined with a shoulder injury. "I had a little bet with Richard when he signed for us last summer that we would help him get into the international team," said Brown. "It's great news for Richard and it's great news for this football club. Richard has had a fantastic year since he arrived and this is a great reward for him." Garcia started out at West Ham United in mid-1999 and has taken his career tally to 183 games through time at Leyton Orient, Colchester United and Hull.
YOUNG MATILDAS DOWN KIWIS
The Young Matildas completed their four-day training camp by defeating the New Zealand Under-17 team 4-2 in Canberra. National Training Centre squad members Danielle Calutti, Samantha Kerr, Ella Mastrantonio, Shannon May, Elle Simmons and Marianna Tabain took part in the camp which is early preparation for Australia's campaign to qualify for the 2010 Women's World Youth Cup. The Australian Under-20's rebounded from conceding early to take a commanding two goal lead with Kyah Simon twice finding the net along with Teresa Polias. Nicola Bolger slotted in Australia's fourth just minutes after coming off the bench in the second period before the Kiwis grabbed a late consolation.
The Australian Under-20 squad which played New Zealand was Hayley Abbot, Nicola Bolger, Carly Ikonomou, Jenna Kingsley, Loren Mahoney, Linda O'Neill, Elizabeth O'Reilly, Teresa Polias, JKarina Roweth, ess Seaman, Britt Simmons, Kyah Simon, Sam Spackman, Ashley Sykes, Nicole Sykes (New South Wales), Emily Van Egmond (Northern New South Wales), Ruth Blackburn, Tameka Butt, Casey Dumont, Alisha Foote, Sophie Hogben, Elise Kellond-Knight, Monique Kofoed, Vedrana Popovic (Queensland), Angela Formida, Sian McLaren (South Australia), Danielle Calutti, Samantha Kerr, Ella Mastrantonio, Shannon May, Elle Simmons and Marianna Tabain (Western Australia).
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND TWO (Swan I.C. v Floreat Athena by Peter Simcox)
Goals either side of the interval from Todd Harnwell and Stuart Montgomery enabled Sorrento to see off a resilient Armadale 2-0 in a scrappy contest at Percy Doyle Reserve. Although possession was evenly distributed early on, Sorrento always seemed the more likely to score with the know-how of Harnwell and Montgomery causing more that a few problems for the visiting team. Montgomery created the first opening on 6 minutes by setting up Michael Ord whose delicate chip cleared Cyril Sharrock’s crossbar. A rare chance came the way of Armadale eight minutes later when Shannon Dally drive forward after seizing upon a loose ball but his fierce strike flew high. The breakthrough came via a 27th minute goalmouth scramble in which Sharrock blocked Harnwell’s initial shot but couldn’t prevent the striker’s follow-up from finding the net. Sorrento eased off the pace leading into half time and were given an almighty scare when Joseph Brunetto smashed the ball just wide of Neil Young’s far post after a Daryl Platten free-kick struck the defensive wall. It was a warning the Gulls heeded as two minutes after the turnaround Montgomery nipped in ahead of his marker to slide James Morgan’s near post cross past Sharrock. Good work by Scott Neville almost resulted in the hosts third but Montgomery’s sharp shot on the turn was pushed away by Sharrock for a corner. Platten went close to putting Armadale back in the game with quarter of an hour remaining by charging his way into the final third only to fire narrowly wide of the upright. A strong finishing Sorrento had the ball in the net for a third time courtesy of Shaun Kilkelly’s close-range header which referee Paul Anderson disallowed for pushing as players jostled for position at corner. Brodie Martin and Morgan combined well down the right to supply Montgomery who sent his shot from 3-metres against the upright. But it mattered little as Sorrento completed match day two as the only team with an unblemished start to the new season.
E.C.U. Joondalup picked up their first win of the season by downing a gallant Western Knights 2-0 at Nash Field. Tommy Amphlett and Ian McMurray found the target to earn Joondalup all three points, however, it was a far from a comfortable ride for the visitors who played much of the second half with ten men following the dismissal of John Thornley. Chances on goal were few and far between in a tight opening half hour in which Joondalup held the upper hand by the slightest of margins. Amphlett did well in getting past Josip Peran to fire under goalkeeper Kevin Miller who turned to see the shot rebound off the upright and roll across the line before being cleared by Cormac Dawson. Joondalup took a deserved lead eight minutes before the break when Amphlett's superb swerving shot found the far corner after a darting run through midfield. With Ronnie Campbell's half-time address still ringing in their ears, the Knights came out for the second half determined to tie the game. A header at point blank range by Anthony Fearon was tipped away by Tommi Tomich, while Rory Grant sent the ball narrowly wide after meeting a Luka Jukic corner. The Knights chances of snatching a result were given a massive boost when Thornley was issued a couple of quick yellow cards. Grant had a golden opportunity to level in the 72nd minute when put free with just the 'keeper to beat but once again Tomich was up to the task. It would prove a costly miss as four minutes later McMurray latched on to a long Tomich clearance and, after beating two opponents, the Joondalup captain rounded Miller and slotted into an empty net. Lead by Paul Cooke and Dawson, the Knights refused to give up hope but could find no way past a solid defensive line marshalled by Tomich and Craig Simpson.
Floreat Athena’s poor start to the season continued when held 0-0 by Swan I.C. in sunny conditions at the Swan Italian Club. The visitors had Vas Vujacic to thank for their point, the goalkeeper pulling off a series of save to thwart a determined Swan line-up. Floreat, playing in an unfamiliar black and gold strip, were quickly into stride and an early Miki Vujacic cross found Garin Collins who was thwarted by an alert Cory Hugo. Eight minutes later Raphael Insurralde and John Migas combined well with the latter’s goalbound shot blocked by David McNally. Having weathered the storm, Swan almost snatched a 25th minute when Damien Scali deflected an attempted Vas Vujacic clearance goalward but Ante Kovacevic moved in to clear the danger. After this the game opened up and John Mansaray had a header saved by Vas Vujacic, while Dom Ando had to be alert down in clearing Insurralde’s shot off the line. The home side ended the half the stronger and Mansaray should have done better than blaze high with only the ‘keeper to beat. And in stoppage time Vas Vujacic did brilliantly in turning away Brendan Knox’ first time shot from 9-metres. Floreat may have started the second half strongly but it was Swan that went close on 53 minutes through David Perich who surged clear only to rifle just past the post. Play streamed from one end to the other with Branimir Mikulic clipping the outside of the post from 18-metres, and a close-range effort by Perich was instinctively kept out by Vas Vujacic. Floreat should have gone ahead in the 76th minute when Adam Bachiller’s superb ball released Mikulic but his weak shot failed to test Cory Hugo. Swan went straight into attack where Vas Vujacic thwarted Alex Cocking after he stole possession from Kovacevic. Floreat were forced to play the last few minutes a man down after Dean Aplegren received his second yellow card from referee Mathew Cheeseman.
A stunning hat-trick on debut by Mark Redshaw was at the heart of Stirling Lions’ come-from-behind 5-2 victory against Inglewood United at the Kiev Sports Ground. Daniel Neiderberger put the hosts in a commanding position with a couple of early strikes, however, Stirling showed great depth of character in responding with five unanswered goals. Inglewood had the lead within 6 minutes as Neiderberger’s superbly struck free-kick crept inside the far bottom corner. And the margin was doubled ten minutes later when Alex Stamatiadis’ diagonal ball to the top of the 18-yard box was misjudged by Steven Hesketh allowing Neiderberger to roll his shot past an badly exposed Phil Straker. Stung into action, Stirling hit back just four minutes later as Leo Harman played through a square defence for Redshaw to round Oliver Taseski and slot into an empty net. Harman was the provider again on 31 minutes when he dinked a pass to Redshaw who wormed between two opponents and lashed the ball under the advancing ‘keeper. By this stage the visitors were well on top thanks to crisp movement going through the middle by Jordan Rhodes and Alan Muir. With half-time looming Rhodes delivered a dangerous corner which Taseski paddled onto the crossbar, the rebound came to Andy Brown who nodded against the bar and in attempting to clear the danger Jason Colli had the misfortune of deflecting the ball into his own net to give Stirling the advantage. Stamatiadis had Straker at full-stretch early in the second half after dancing his way along the top of the area. The game was as good as over after 56 minutes when poor defending at a cross from the right by Brown presented Redshaw with a simple goal to complete his hat-trick. Rhodes put the icing on the cake with a cool finish from 15-metres following a neat lead-up involving Muir and Brown in the 74th minute.
Perth S.C. collected maximum points for the first time this year by defeating Mandurah City 4-2 on a chilly Sunday afternoon at Dorrien Gardens. Andreas Oliviera scored twice and Antonio Naglieri and David Onoforo once each to lead Perth to victory against the top flights newest team. The early momentum was with the visitors as Andy Brown influenced happenings in the middle of the park. Jeff Bright was first to threaten when his close-range effort cleared the cross bar from Ryan Townsend low centre. Six minutes later Bright turned provider with an inviting cross that an unmarked Andy Brown headed wide. Having slowly settled into the game, Perth went ahead through only their second meaningful attack in which Oliviera latched on to a long ball down the right and was afforded time and space to angle his shot across Mike Green and in off the far post from 15-metres. The goal prompted Perth into life as Oliveira curled a shot narrowly wide of the upright, and Greg Sharland's free-kick was tipped by Green over the crossbar. Onoforo should have increased the margin two minutes out from half-time but Green came out trumps in a one-on-one situation. Mandurah looked a lot sharper after the break which was seven minutes old when Phil O'Callaghan headed in a cross from Chris Wiley to level the game. But Perth were soon back in control as Oliviera lofted a pass over the defence which Naglieri crashed into the roof of the net. The visitors were again celebrating in the 61st minute after Andy Brown drilled in a vicious shot from 25-metres. The dismissal of Chris Currie four minutes later for a second yellow card tipped the scales in Perth's favour. Onoforo restored their lead by pouncing on some sloppy defending and drifting past Green to convert from 14-metres with 73 minutes gone. A home victory was secured two minutes from the end when Oliviera put away his second of the afternoon after neat lead-up work from Naglieri and Onoforo.
Cockburn City took all three points from their meeting with Fremantle Spirit by 2-1 at Dalmatinac Park. The ball had been in motion half an hour when Mileta Miletic put Cockburn ahead. Callum Roberts brought the sides level in the 75th minute, only to have Paul Natale snatch a home victory by finding the net in stoppage time. Further details of this game were not forthcoming from either of the participating clubs.
FIRST DIVISION, ROUND TWO (South West Phoenix v Queens Park courtesy South West Phoenix; Dianella White Eagles v Morley Windmills courtesy Dianella White Eagles; Bayswater City v Canning City by Phil Unsworth)
South West Phoenix maintained their perfect start to the season by dumping Queens Park 3-0 at the Soccerdrome in Bunbury. Steve Suttie netted either side of the break with Rory Binnie adding a third to secure a deserved home victory. There were few highlights in a tepid opening as both teams struggled to find their rhythm in the chilly conditions. Phoenix eventually woke up and good chances came the way of Suttie, Gary Mayers and teenager Jonathon Krawec. Queens Park weren’t without their chances with lone striker Colin Hodge narrowly missing the top corner. The deadlock was broken on the half hour when Krawec whipped the ball in from the left for Suttie to powerfully head in. The game was all but over within ten minutes of the second half as Phoenix pilled on to further goals. Alex Dawson provided the delivery for Suttie to bundle the ball in from close-range with the defence posted missing. Binnie completed the scoring in the 54th minute by nodding past Robbie Easton at the second opportunity following a quality cross from Greg Hayes. The game petered out following this with both sides creating some good chances, all of which went unconverted.
Canning City overcame a two-goal deficit to earn a 3-3 draw from their meeting with Bayswater City at Frank Drago Reserve. The first half belonged to Bayswater who were rewarded after 20 minutes through a Tony Cumace free-kick that curled around the defensive wall and low into the bottom corner of the net. Not content with a single goal lead, Bayswater soon added a second through Damir Kudozovic whose cross from the left sailed over goalkeeper Devon Spence and inside the far top corner. Within two minutes Canning hit back as Mick Van Dongen’s corner found the head of Rory Mouttet who nodded powerfully past the ‘keeper. Paul Hickey went close to restoring Bayswater’s two-goal buffer just before the break when his sweet volley from 15-metres rattled the frame of the goal. The second half was ten minutes old when Ahmed Hafez rounded Spence and unselfishly cut the ball back for Morgan Dendle to finish in an open goal. The gap was soon reduced by Paul Oliver who converted a penalty awarded for a handball decision against Daniel Cagorski. Canning deservedly drew level with five minutes to go when Ryan Allomes free-kick was headed into the roof of the net by Daniel Trevisiol at close-range. The visitors saw out the game with ten men after Simon Versaico was issued his marching orders by referee Alan Rush.
Dianella White Eagles picked up three valuable points by downing Morley Windmills 2-1 in a tightly contested meeting at Dianella Reserve. The home team were quick in gaining control with Zoran Delov and Matt Butler displaying some good touches in the middle of the park. Dianella could have been a few goals up at the break if not for early season rustiness. As it was, they did take the lead after 19 minutes when Butler's curling cross was met by Aaron Moschopoulos whose goalbound shot was driven into the net by Alan Crofts. Simon El Chami brought the teams level in the final minutes of the half by converting from the penalty spot following a hand ball against Dragan Njegic. Morley came out for the second period with an increased desire for goals as Noong Naranphunt and Wayne Culverwell went close to putting them ahead. Down the other end substitute Miladin Gligoroski shot wide of the mark and Goran Radinovic headed narrowly high as the sides traded attacks. The game was five minutes from full-time when Croft skipped past an opponent and squared across the goalmouth where an unmarked Butler tapped in. Morley's miserable day was compounded with the late dismissal of Trevor Hatton for a second yellow card offence.
Wanneroo City scored their second win in as many weeks by out-scoring Gosnells City 2-1 at Kingsway Sporting Complex. Jay McDonald gave the hosts a first half lead with David Herety securing the points on the 90th minute. Gosnells snatched a stoppage time consolation goal via Jim Capewell. Forrestfield United came from behind to earn a dramatic 2-2 draw with home team Ashfield. Ryan Thomasz and James Long got the goals for Ashfield with John Hunter and Jordan Hart netting for Forrestfield. The points were also shared at Graham Burkett Reserve where Balcatta scored late to draw 1-1 with Rockingham City. Craig Howard put the visitors ahead after 16 minutes only for Igor Novakovic to level in the final minute of regulation time. Further details of these three games were not forthcoming from any of the six participating clubs.
HARNWELL REFRESHED BY SWISS CHALLENGE
Jamie Harnwell's loan to Swiss club FC Vaduz has thrown more that its fair share of challenges at the Perth Glory star. In the two months he's spent in Vaduz Harnwell has experienced only three days over 15 degrees meaning gloves, beanies and tracksuits have replaced sunscreen and t-shirts at training. "Staying on your feet can also be a bit of a challenge," Harnwell said. "The pitches alternate between very muddy when it is raining to bone hard when it's not because they don't need to water the grass to get it to grow here!"
With just a handful of games remaining Vaduz are well placed to gain promotion to the Switzerland's Super League. Harnwell feels Residenzler won't be out of place should they successfully move up to the top flight. "The club has excellent facilities at the stadium where there is an administration area, a restaurant, the main pitch, two training pitches and an all-weather pitch," he added. "We had to use the all-weather training field a couple of weeks ago when we experienced a large amount of unseasonal snowfall, so it has definitely been a bit different from home."
Harnwell has been plying his trade as a defender after breaking into the side and has made valuable contributions in several of the club's recent thrilling wins. "It is great to be involved with Vaduz where the pressure is on to perform to try and win promotion," he said. "I have really enjoyed my time here and I can't believe that we only have just over a month to go in the season. The team is well placed but anything can happen and hopefully I can continue to do my bit to help them gain promotion."
GLORY ASK FFA FOR CASH BREAK
Perth Glory has appealed to the national body to provide financial compensation as the club battles to attract players to the ailing A-League franchise. Coach David Mitchell admits he’s finding it difficult to lure players to Perth, particularly those considered to be the cream of the eastern seaboard crop. “It’s tougher than I thought it would be to bring players in,” said Mitchell. “Perth was always the leading light of the game and it’s become bottom of the list of clubs to play for. We need to turn that around - we have to be successful and hopefully we can get some dispensation to help us.”
Glory chief executive Scott Gooch confirmed the club had approached Football Federation Australia about providing assistance, particularly to combat the excessive cost associated with accommodation on interstate trips, which will increase this season with the introduction of a national youth league. “As a team that has more travel requirements than any on the east coast, it makes good commercial sense to explore as many financial incentives from the FFA as we can,” said Gooch. “Whether it’s a grant or increase in the salary cap, we’ll explore any option that’s made available to us.”
Gooch agree with Mitchell’s observations that it was more expensive to entice players to Perth because of the city’s increased cost of living and the financial burden of relocation. But Gooch was confident FFA would assist the club as it tried to desperately turn around its fortunes after finishing second last in the past two seasons. “The FFA have said they’ll work with us to ensure we’re not disadvantaged,” Gooch said. “They want Perth Glory to be a success and also our youth team to be successful.” Glory has been handicapped since the inception of the A-League in 2005 which heralded the introduction of salary caps and strict squad quotas.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
The round two match of the week takes place at Nash Field where Western Knights first home game for the year pits them against E.C.U. Joondalup. Ronnie Campbell’s side scored a morale boosting win last weekend and will be hoping import Barry Devlin, who bagged the winner against Stirling Lions, can continue his good form in attack. Joondalup showed great character in coming from two goals down to earn a 2-2 draw with Perth S.C. with new signing John Thornley and team captain Ian McMurray finding the net.
Several clubs will be looking to kick-start their campaign following an opening round jam-packed with surprises. Floreat Athena are widely tipped to get their title defence back on track by taking maximum points from their trip to Swan I.C. Brad Hassell returns to Percy Doyle Reserve to lead Armadale into battle with Sorrento. Inglewood United enjoyed a good win against Armedale on day one of the season but the task will be much greater when they host Stirling Lions. And it’s derby day at Dalmatinac Park where Cockburn City and Fremantle both go in search of their first point of the season.
The Sunday fixture has newly promoted Mandurah City matching skills with Night Series winner Perth S.C. at Dorrien Gardens. This will be a tough test for Stuart Currie’s side who’ll be full of confidence after disposing of Floreat Athena in their first ever Premier League outing. But they’ll need to be in tiptop form to take anything away from a Perth line-up that is still smarting from last weekends disappointing showing against Joondalup. All six Premier League games this week kick off at 3.00pm.
The pick of the First Division action is the meeting of title contenders Bayswater City and Canning City at Frank Drago Reserve. South West Phoenix are expected to account for Queens Park in Bunbury, likewise Balcatta who welcome Rockingham City to Graham Burkett Reserve. Tom Kilkelly will be looking for a stronger overall performance from Morley Windmills when they travel to Dianella White Eagles. Wanneroo City hit six goals a week ago and have their sights set on another hefty haul when Gosnells City swing by Kingsway Sporting Complex. Forrestfield United are expected to take home the points from a much-changed Ashfield.
INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL: THE PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW
The forty-ninth season of semi-professional football in Western Australia kicked off last weekend with the opening round of home-and-away fixtures. This years Premier League is expected to be a two-horse race between reigning champion Floreat Athena and perennial favourite Perth S.C., however, for either to claim top honours they’ll first have to fend off challenges from Cockburn City, Stirling Lions and Sorrento, amongst others. It may still be early days but there’s plenty of interest at the other end of the table where a handful of clubs are expected to be involved in a lengthy battle to avoid the drop. This week Brett Klucznik takes a close look at each of the twelve clubs, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and makes a few predictions as to how the 2008 Premier League season will play out ...
NEXT GENERATION MATILDAS DOWNED BY KIWIS
The Australian Under-17 women's team has been defeated in a two-match series with New Zealand. The youthful Australian squad, which was two years junior their opponent, were defeated 4-0 in each of the games played in Canberra. Flying the West Australia flag were National Training Centre trio Jaymee Gibbons, Sadie Lawrence and Samantha Kerr. Coach Gary Phillips used the series as part of Australia's preliminary preparation for the 2010 Under-17 Women's World Cup qualifiers that start later this year.
The Australian Under-17 squad consisted of Teagan Allen, Nicola Bolger, Hannah Brewer, Sharni Brown, Caitlin Foord, Riarna Keane, Candance Sciverras (New South Wales), Tara Andrews, Sarah Grist, Georgia Peterson, Madeline Searle, Emily Van Egmond (Northern New South Wales), Sally Thurston (Queensland), Nicole Calder, Ashlee Faul, Lily Ryden, Ruth Wallace (South Australia), Adelyn Ayton (Tasmania), Brianna Davey (Victoria), Jaymee Gibbons, Sadie Lawrence and Samantha Kerr (Western Australia).
GREATS LINE UP FOR WORLD CUP DUTY
The stars of yesteryear will fly the flag for Western Australia at the third Thailand Seniors World Cup next week. The side, which features eleven ex-State players, will test itself against teams from South Korea the United States of America and the host nation over four consecutive days from Monday 21 April. "The tournament is being played in the city of Phitsanalok and this it the third time a team from WA has participated," explained coach Gary Marocchi. "We've been preparing since December and for the past couple of months have been training twice weekly."
The squad heads abroad confident they can return home with the Seniors Cup World in their possession. "They believe we have a chance of succeeding this year if we can keep injury free. There's considerable talent in the squad and we're delighted to have former Socceroo Alan Davidson on board as a guest player," said Marocchi. "The squad has come about through the ex-State players association which has been in regular competition with Malaysian teams, and some of the players will continue on after the World Cup to Malaysia to play for the 'Bob McShane Cup'."
The squad travelling to Phitsanalok, Thailand, consists of Serge Alfieri, Zoran Barovic, Mel Brown, Enzo Brunini, Gary Church, Alan Davidson, Jamie Ellis, Lawrence Endersby, Dave Evans, Frank Houston, Bob Lee, Darl McDarby, Alan MacKenize, Leo Marocchi, Peter Murphy, Allan Pottier, John Saunders, Michael Sawyer, Geoff Smith, Mike Smith, Peter Vukmirovic, Steve Walker, Darren Yates, Robbie Zabica and Veselin Zmukic.
GLORY DAYS AWAIT RUKAVYTSYA
Perth Glory coach David Mitchell has no doubt that promising young striker Nikita Rukavytsya will benefit greatly from another season in the A-League following his recent trial in Germany. Rukavytsya has returned home after training with Bundesliga club Hannover 96 and is now set to kick-off the new season with Glory in August. Hannover will track his progress and there is a chance they could renew interest in the Australian under-23 international during the January transfer period.
Mitchell, who returned from his own European scouting missin this week, is pleased 20-year old Rukavytsya will remain a Glory player. “The fact that nikita has come back now has changed things,” said the coach. “It’s good for us that he’s back and I think it’ll be good for him. I don’t think he’s quite ready to play over there yet but he’s had a great experience. He went there and did well even though they were n the middle of their season and he wouldn’t have been as fit as he could be.”
But Mitchell, who acknowledged recruitment for next season was a moving feast of possibilities, still has plenty of work to do to complete his squad. Glory have fourteen players contracted for next season although there remains a chance that Jamie Harnwell could get the chance to extend his stay in the Swiss second division with FC Vaduz, and defender Dino Djulic might be tempted to try his luck in Europe. The coach confirmed his interest in one-time Scotland striker Paul Dickov, who is currently on loan to Blackpool from Manchester City.
CONTINUITY IS KEY FOR COYNE
No-nonsense defender Chris Coyne thinks Colchester United can bounce back from their relegation woe - providing they can maintain a settled side. The U’s have been ravaged by injury this season with last weekend’s meeting with Leicester City only the eighth time Geraint Williams was able to field an unchanged line-up. And although it is now too late for Colchester remain in the Championship, Coyne says it’s essential they keep a settled side if they are to be a success in League One. “It’s very hard for a manager when he hasn’t got that continuity in selection because of injuries,” commented Coyne, one of seven players to fill the centre-half role this season. “Centre-half is a position where you build continuity and not being able to do that has been difficult. But it’s more about the second week of August now that we’re looking towards. We will keep working hard and we won’t stop doing that until the end of the season.”
GARCIA EYES ENGLAND’S TOP FLIGHT
Helping Hull City secure a place in next year’s Premier League would finally provide recognition to Richard Garcia who’s meandered through England’s lower divisions since 2004. Garcia started his professional career at West Ham United before pursuing more game time through spells at Leyton Orient, Colchester United and Hull. Having worked his way up to the summit of the Championship, Garcia has his sights set on playing up a level next year. “I’m pretty confident but we’re almost waiting on other teams’ results,” he said. “Personally, my form’s been pretty good. I went back home (to Perth) in March for family reasons and I’ve got better and better since I’ve been back and hopefully I’ll be peaking at the right time.”
Garcia has backed up a stellar 2006/07 season by netting five times and setting up a few more in 38 appearances. And as if playing in England’s top flight was not enough to motivate the right winger, then entering the Australian national team picture is. “The Premiership alone is motivation enough, it’s one of the top leagues in the world, if not the top league, but if international honours come along, it’s the icing on the cake,” the 26-year old said. “Playing in the Premiership would probably help because people sit up and take notice.” Garcia has worn the green and gold at every level except senior but has not been contacted by Australian officials since damaging his knee while in camp with the Olyroos just prior to the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
With the top two Championship teams guaranteed promotion, and the next four playing off for the coveted third and final promotion spot, Hull’s up-coming games are likely to determine their destiny. Everyone in England knows what is at stake and Garcia proceeded to rattle off numbers as if he were the Tigers accountant. “It’s worth £50 million ($107 million) for the club, £30 million ($64.2 million) for going up then two £10 million ($21.4 million) parachute payments over the next two seasons so for the clubs, it’s the big thing, it’s so important,” Garcia said. “As well as the money for the clubs, the players all want to play at the highest level and it’s what everyone strives for.”
GLORY’S PRENTICE FINED FOR RESTAURANT ASSAULT
Perth Glory player Mitchell Prentice has been fined more than $1,000 for assaulting two people in a Morley restaurant earlier this year. The Perth Magistrates Court was told Prentice and a friend assaulted two people after they were asked to leave the restaurant because of their behaviour. The pair later returned to assault the restaurant manager as well as a customer. Prentice was fined a total of $1,150 and ordered to pay court costs of more than $100. The Magistrate refused to grant him a spent conviction order which would have cleared Prentice of any criminal record in relation to the matter.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND ONE (Sorrento v Fremantle Spirit by Kerry Slater; Swan I.C. vs Cockburn City by Peter Simcox; Stirling Lions v Western Knights by Peter Simcox)
A ten-man Sorrento fended off Fremantle Spirit's youngsters 3-1 when they met under sunny skies at Percy Doyle Reserve. Goals from Stuart Banks, Glen Thomas and Stuart Montgomery did the damage on a day when the Gulls played much of the second half with a man down after the dismissal of Danny Hill. The first half was largely devoid of highlights as both teams kept tight control over happenings in the final third. The visitors were eventually opened up on 31 minutes when Banks' brilliantly struck free-kick bent past the defensive wall and evaded the out-stretched gloves of Steve Grant. Other than that the majority of play took place between the boxes and neither 'keeper was threated. The second half was only a couple of minutes old when a crunching tackle elicited a violent response from Hill who was duly sent from the field by referee Jeremy Oliphant. Not surprisingly, Fremantle went on to dominate the remainder of the game but rarely did they trouble 'keeper Neil Young. A minutes later the Gulls doubled their lead through a superbly crafted move that started with Young, was channelled through the middle by Lewis Flatt and Scott Bulloch whose flighted pass over the defence was lobbed into the net by Glen Thomas from just outside the 18-yard box. Fremantle hit back just after the hour through Josh Moffatt's cross to the far post which Callum Roberts headed across Young and inside the upright. This lifted spirits within the Fremantle camp as Roberts and Cisco Jorquiera made their presence felt down the flanks. Roberts went close to bringing the sides level but Young was placed well to deny the young attacker. Montgomery secured maximum points for the hosts with thirteen minutes remaining when he stroked in a loose ball after Grant parried an explosive drive from 16-metres by Bulloch.
Inglewood United commenced the new season in perfect style and a deserved 3-1 victory over Armadale. James Sammutt, Bobby Despotovski and Michael Baczynski found the net to secure maximum points for the visitors before Shannon Dally earned Armadale a late consolation. With Alfred Skeet Oval bathed in sunshine, Inglewood asserted early authority as Sammutt was denied by Cyril Sharrock after only 3 minutes. Despotovski should have opened the scoring on 12 minutes but blazed high from point blank range. Their persistence paid off shortly after when Jason Colli found space down the right to pick out Sammutt who was afforded time and space to slot past the 'keeper. Sammutt and Colli were finding plenty of space out wide as Inglewood's crisper passing gave them the upper hand. It was only late in the half that Armadale came into the game and Ryan Pearson should have equalised when through with just Oliver Taseski to beat but he shot straight into the goalkeepers hands. The hosts were dealt an unfortunate blow on the stroke of half-time when Daryl Platten's clumsy foul on Dennis McRoberts resulted in a penalty which was converted by Despotovski, who was quick to exchange pleasantries with Sharrock. The second period was witness to a similar pattern with Armadale displaying plenty of endeavour but lacking a cutting edge in the final third. By contrast Inglewood were clinical and on 68 minutes Matt Wardle delivered a wonderful left foot cross which was headed in at close-range by substitute Baczynski. Although the game was by this stage beyond their reach, Armadale refused to give and a superb curling shot into the top corner from 20-metres by Dally finally gave the small but boisterous gathering of home fans something to cheer about thirteen minutes from the end.
Paul Lincoln was given a dream start to his senior coaching career as Swan I.C. earned a 3-1 win over Cockburn City at the Swan Italian Club. Aaron Dos Santos had the all in the net after 5 minutes only for his effort to be ruled out for offside, then a crisp Michael Mirco shot called Cory Hugo into action as Cockburn opened positively. But with their first meaningful attack Swan took the lead as David Perich released Damian Scali who delivered a far post cross which an unmarked Alex Cocking had no trouble converting from a couple of metres. Although shell-shocked, Cockburn kept on plying the pressure and had appeals for a penalty dismissal after Michael Mirco went down under a David McNally tackle. Sixty seconds later referee Hugh Best was pointing to the spot but at the opposite end when he ruled Dejan Aleksic to have fouled Perich, and Scali doubled the margin by sending the young goalkeeper the wrong way. Cory Hugo was by far the busier of the ‘keepers and on 23 minutes his reflexes were tested by Michael Mirco, while later he again denied Michael Mirco then Dos Santos in quick succession. Perich went close to adding a third with a long-range strike than flew narrowly past the post, and on the hour Aleksic did well to tip a Dom Ando free-kick over the crossbar. The visitors were given a way back into the game two minutes later when Johnny Mirco reacted instinctively to knock the ball into the net after a deflected clearance from Aaron Cole. This reignited the visitors but Liam Lilly and Dos Santos were denied an equaliser by Cory Hugo. The points were made safe with five minutes to go when substitute Justin Hugo thumped his shot into the net from the top of the 18-yard box.
The points were shared a 2-2 when E.C.U. Joondalup hosted Perth S.C. at the Edith Cowan University ground. A first half brace from David Onoforo looked to have sent Perth down the road to victory before John Thornley and Ian McMurray netted after the interval to snatch a share of the points. Perth’s fluent passing game gave them the early advantage as Onoforo unleashed a powerful shot which crept under the body of Tommi Tomich following a terrific pass in behind the defence by David Price. This had a settling effect on the home side and through the central efforts of Scott Bushby and Darren Broxton they slowly worked their way into the game. Tommy Amphlett was prominent on the right in delivering several promising crosses but all went unconverted despite the best efforts of Jon Higgins, McMurray and Craig Simpson. With half-time nearing Perth broke on the counterattack quickly and David Price again found Onoforo who made no mistake at close-range. Joondalup emerged from the break pumped up and in quick succession Bushby and Broxton fired past the target while McMurray should have done better than volley straight at ‘keeper Gareth Deeg. Their reward came on 55 minutes when Thornley expertly shrugged off his marker and lashed the ball low into the corner of the net. Deeg was at full stretch in tipping wide a glancing header from McMurray as Joondalup went in search of an equaliser. It arrived with just three minutes left on the clock when Andy Durkin threaded the ball through to McMurray who neatly evaded Michael Icanovski before curling a beautiful shot beyond Deeg which came to rest in the far corner.
History was made at Peelwood Parade where Mandurah City registered victory in their first ever Premier League outing by defeating reigning champion Floreat Athena 2-1 under lights on Saturday evening. The home side came out firing and could well have been two goals the better inside twenty minutes but Jeff Bright headed wide from a Ryan Townsend cross, and shortly after the same player skied the ball high from the corner of the 6-yard box. Floreat were struggling against a tenacious home side who took the lead when Townsend's superb cross from the right was glanced in off the far upright by Ryan McDarby. The second half opened with Floreat by far the dominant side in terms of possession but poor delivery kept chances to a minimum. Mike Green came under threat on the hour when Garin Collins latched on to a through ball but his lob over the on-coming goalkeeper was just wide of the post. Vas Vujacic kept the visitors in the game midway through the half by keeping out Phil O'Callaghan's crisp volley from a deep Bright cross. But there as nothing the Floreat 'keeper could do in the 79th minute when O'Callaghan flicked the ball through the defence for Young to put the result beyond doubt with a neat chip from 10-metres. Floreat were given a glimmer of hope three minutes later as Miki Vujacic swung on a corner which Collins blasted into the net from close-range to set-up a tense finish. Bright went agonisingly close with a cracking shot from distance which rebounded off the post on 85 minutes. And close to the end referee Ton Klaver dismissed appeals for a Floreat penalty after substitute Sal Contera went down inside the area.
A late strike by new recruit Barry Devlin earned Western Knights all three points from Sunday's clash with Stirling Lions at Macedonia Park. Played in picture perfect conditions, the first chance arrived after 13 minutes when Ivan Gavranich's header was pushed over the crossbar by Phil Straker. Next it was the turn of Rory Grant who shot flew well wide after being found by Anthony Fearon. Stirling didn't threaten until the 20th minute when Dean Evans' snap shot whistled the wrong side of the upright. Play then see-sawed from one end to the other as the sides sought the go-ahead goal. Fearon was thwarted by an alert Straker who was quick off his line following a rare mistake by Darko Ilomanoski. A superb Phil Arnold cross landed on the head of Andy Brown who nodded disappointingly wide when unmarked. A goalbound strike by Fearon was deflected wide by Jordan Reid, and just before the break Kevin Miller denied Evans twice in as many minutes. Stirling picked up the second half where they left off with Miller again preventing Evans from scoring, while Arnold fired wide from Steven Hesketh's long throw-in. The Knights forced their way back into the game with captain Cormac Dawson shooting wide from 16-metres. Brown's header was cleared off the line by Keith Butler in the 66th minute and with the very next play Jon Mathers was sent clear by Michael de Souza only to blaze high. The deciding goal came seven minutes later when Fearon and Paul Cooke combined well on the right with the latter threading through for Devlin to drill a low shot into the net from 14-metres. A desperate charge failed to produce a Stirling equaliser as Hesketh headed wide and Miller saved a long-range strike by Leo Harman's in the closing minutes.
FIRST DIVISION, ROUND ONE (Canning City v Balcatta by Phil Unsworth)
Canning City drew 2-2 with Balcatta when they met in a replay of the Night Series final at Willetton Sports Club. The home side were quick to convert early dominance onto the scoreboard with Paul Oliver converting a penalty awarded for a shirt pull inside the area after 6 minutes. Through fluent movement, Canning continued to pressure before breaking through again in the 29th minute when Mick Van Dongen's throw-in was helped on by Duane Hepburn for Daniel Trevisiol to deliver a looping header that left goalkeeper Kenny Ftynogiannis stranded. The pattern changed after the break with Balcatta reducing the deficit on 55 minutes when Andy O'Niell stormed down the left before crossing into the area when Ryan Allomes had the misfortunate of deflecting the ball into his own net. Rydeen Botha brought the sides level with twenty minutes to go by converting from the spot after Simon Versiaco was ruled to have impeded Adrian D'Adamo while contesting a high ball. It was only after this that Canning sparked back into life and in the closing stages Balcatta found themselves under increasing pressure at the back. Some last-gasp defending following a Mick Van Dongen saw the visitors twice scramble the ball off the line only moments before the final whistle.
South West Phoenix returned home from Walter Padbury Reserve with all three points courtesy of a 4-1 thumping of Gosnells City. Jonathon Krawec created the opening goal on the quarter hour by beating his marker down the left and swinging in a cross to which Rory Binnie rose highest and headed in from 10-metres. A curling Gary Mayers shot increased the margin after Krawec again made his way down the flank and pulled the ball back to his veteran team mate. Binnie and Greg Hayes went close to adding to the tally but the visitors would have to be content with a two-goal buffer at the break. A tame start to the second half was interrupted on the hour when Steve Suttie tapped in at close-range after Krawec's first time shot screwed across the face of goal. Ciaran Allen gave the hosts a glimmer of hope by nodding past the goalkeeper, and shortly after Jim Capewell would have further reduced the deficit had he not sent a close-range header just over the crossbar high. But Phoenix were not finished yet and with five minutes remaining Ryan Risdon forced his way past three opponents before lashing the ball in from 12-metres.
There were goals aplenty at Wotton Reserve where Wanneroo City triumphed 6-4 over Morley Windmills. The visitors came out firing to open up a two-goal buffer inside the quarter hour as Brian Cairney and Rowdy Yates found an avenue to goal. Farrell Hedges put Morley back in the game just before the half hour by firing in from the top of the 18-yard box after good lead-up work down the right by Noong Naranphunt. However, Cairney put Wanneroo back in command with goals in the 47th and 55th minutes before the margin blew out to four goals courtesy of Ben Yates. Morley mounted a late comeback with Dave Gordon's shot from 20-metres coming to rest in the back of the net. And with five minutes left on the clock Mitch Castrilli made his way down the left before crossing for Wayne Culverwell to head in and bring the gap back to just two goals. But Wanneroo were in no mood to throw the game away and two minutes later D.Herety put the result beyond. Julian Noyer brought some respectability to the scoreline by heading in Morley a stoppage time consolation.
Michael Di Fulvio got his senior coaching career off to a dream start as Bayswater City dumped Queens Park 3-0 at Coker Park. Second half goals from Adrian Sutton, Ahmed Hafez and Scott Campbell got the visitors over the line. Forrestfield United got their season off to flying start by defeating Dianella White Eagles 3-2 at Hartfield Park. Matt Harold scored twice and John Hunter once for the hosts while Dianella's goals came from Zoran Delov and Alan Crofts. The points were shared at Lark Hill Sports Complex where Rockingham City drew 1-1 with Ashfeld. Jamie Kumkar gave the visitors the lad midway through the first half only to have Craig Howard bring the side level with sixteen minutes remaining. Further details of these three games were not forthcoming from any of the six participating clubs.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
There are a number of attractive fixtures when the new season home and away series kicks off this weekend. The highlight of the opening day Premier League games on Saturday is the big showdown between northern giants E.C.U. Joondalup and title favourite Perth S.C. With Ian McMurray and Jon Higgins coming back into the line-up Willie McNally's side have good reason to fancy their chances on home soil. Perth tasted early season success by winning the Night Series and with the likes of Antonio Naglieri and Andreas Oliviera firing on all cylinders they go into the game tipped to take maximum points.
Mirko Jelicic's first League game back in charge of Cockburn City takes him to Swan I.C. The Cockerels have lost only once in eight visits to the Swan Valley and it's expected the visitors will again go home happy. A strong recruitment drive over the summer has signalled a strong year by Sorrento who are favoured to defeat a young Fremantle Spirit line-up at Percy Doyle Reserve. Armadale square off with Inglewood United in what is expected to be a tight encounter at Alfred Skeet Oval. All four games kick-off at 3.00pm.
Floreat Athena start their title defence away at Mandurah City on Saturday evening, kick-off 7.00pm. Mandurah are tipping a bumper crowd for their first ever game in the top flight but it should be Floreat that comes away with the points. The round concludes with the Sunday meeting of Stirling Lions and Western Knights, kick-off 3.00pm. The Knights have undergone significant change since earning a draw at Macedonia Park last April and its difficult seeing them taking any points away from Mick Lyons young charges.
Canning City take on Balcatta in a replay of the First Division Night Series final at Willetton Sports Club. Bayswater City are tipped to collect all three points from their encounter with a Queens Park at Coker Park. Wanneroo City re-commence their time in the second tier with an away clash at Morley Windmills. Gosnells City host South West Phoenix, and Forrestfield United welcome Dianella White Eagles to Hartfield Park. Rockingham City and Ashfield are both expected to struggle this year so the importance of their meeting at Lark Hill Sports Complex can not be underestimated.
JONES BACK WITH A BANG!
Tommy Jones made a sensational return to E.C.U. Joondalup on the weekend by bagging both goals in their away Cup defeat of Fremantle United. The 21-year old striker scored once in each half to book his teams’ participation in the last sixteen of the competition but says Joondalup are only just getting warmed up for the season ahead. “I thought we played okay, we knew it wasn’t going to be easy but they only had two shots on goal all game and the one they scored shouldn’t have been allowed, but that’s football as they say,” said the 21-year old striker. “We should have scored more and put the game to bed a lot earlier but in the end a win is a win and we are through to the next round.”
Having fallen behind to a Felim Rugel strike, it looked as though it was going to be a long day at the office for Joondalup. That was until Jones popped up to bring the sides level shortly before half-time, then found himself well positioned to put away Tommy Amphlett’s low centre midway through the second period. “I thought I did alright, I was glad to get the goals for the team and also for myself to boost my confidence. I need games to get full fit after hardly playing at Stirling Lions,” Jones said of his performance. “We had a few key players missing and I’m sure they will be starting this weekend against Perth S.C., so a few of the lads are going to be disappointed. We will have to be on top of our game to beat Perth and I really think we can do it.”
Jones started his career as a junior with Joondalup and returns to the club after a frustrating year at Stirling Lions. “They are a great bunch at the Lions but I needed to be playing regular football and that just wasn’t happening,’ he explained. “I was injured for most of the second part of last season with a pulled hamstring. It was frustrating as I’d give it a week to rest, but injured it again on my return and did more damage. That gave me four weeks on the sidelines, and when I got over the injury I got sent off and I was suspended for three weeks so I didn’t have much luck second part of the season.”
Now back in more familiar surrounds and playing alongside elder sibling Anthony, Jones is eager to show his value to the Joondalup coaching staff. “I’m enjoying being back at the club, training has been really good and of good quality,” commented Jones, who was part of the State team which met Perth Glory in a friendly in 2006. “Even last year I would always be on the phone after games to my brother asking how Joondalup had gone on - I like being at this club and at the moment I’m looking to playing regularly again and then see what happens.”
INGLEWOOD’S WOES COMPOUNDED AS STOITIS WITHDRAWS
Inglewood United has been dealt another blow in the lead-up to the new season with defender Daniel Stoitis declaring himself unavailable for duty in 2008. Stoitis joins Dean Apelgren, Shaun Kilkelly and Greg Sharland in Inglewood's 'out' column after opting to take a year out from playing for work and personal reasons. "I'm working on a couple of business projects and organizing a wedding at the moment so time for football has become none existent," he explained. "I will helping out were I can with the development of some of younger players that are coming through the system but that will be the extent of my contribution this year." Stoitis shot to prominence with Kingsway Olympic and Sorrento, gaining State representative honours along the way, before moving to Inglewood at the start of the 2004 campaign.
PAVLOVIC MAKES BIG STEPS AT FLOREAT
Michael Roki knew exactly what he was doing when he added teenager Jovo Pavlovic to the Floreat Athena squad this time last year. The versatile 18-year old has matured greatly over the past twelve months and looks like playing a key role on the Floreat’s title defence this coming winter. “I’m really happy at Floreat - the boy’s have made me feel welcome and on and off the park it’s a great club to be at,” he said. “The squad is strong and I’ve learnt heaps since I’ve been here. The coaches have encouraged me since I arrived and I hope I’m now paying back their faith in me.”
No one has been happier with Pavlovic’s progress than coach Roki who feels he’s yet to see the best of the former State Schoolboy. “Jovo came down to the club last season, and he was fairly raw but he definitely has an abundance of talent,” said the Floreat boss. “We started him off facing the ball at the back and he’s stood up very well. He got limited time last season in the first team, but when he did come on he did a good job for us and he’s improved steadily which has been very pleasing. We got a glimpse of what he can do in the Night Series final when he did a really good job for us against an experienced opponent.”
One of Pavlovic’s greatest assets is his ability to play in either defence and midfield and so far this years it’s been the former where he’s been utilised. “Michael has worked hard on my game, which I’m grateful for. He sees me as a defender and with the guidance of Ante Kovacevic and John Migas I hope I can improve my game,” he said. “To play along side Ante is a great honour, you learn every time you go on the park, he’s so experienced and there is no better teacher for me. I know I’ll have to fight for my spot in the side, and I’m ready for the challenge.”
"THE INSIDER" PREVIEWS 2008
"The Insider" is back from a refreshing summer break and champing at the bit for the season to start. This week he provides a sneak peak into how the new season will pan out for each of the twelve Premier League clubs and introduces their unofficial mascots for 2008. Over the course of the year "The Insider" will contribute news snippets, rumours and general gossip to this website - if you have something worth telling then please let "The Insider" know by email to Football_WA_Insider@hotmail.com or by sending a private message via the Bayswater City Forum to Football_WA_Insider. Anonymity will be maintained when requested.
|PERTH S.C.||Unofficial mascot : Big Day Out
Always manage to bring the big acts together no matter the cost.
|FLOREAT ATHENA||Unofficial mascot : Mariah Carey
Who would have thought after the dizzying highs and devastating lows that a number one hit was only an album away?
|STIRLING LIONS||Unofficial mascot : Bon Jovi
Massive in the early 90's, recent releases show only glimpses of their former glory.
|SORRENTO||Unofficial mascot : Spice Guirls
Were once a hit then went separate ways to pursue unsuccessful solo careers. Now reforming to try make amends for a horror few years.
|COCKBURN CITY||Unofficial mascot : Madonna and Don McLean
Some things are just better left separated.
|ECU JOONDALUP||Unofficial mascot : Michael Bolton
Can anyone even remember the last time he had a hit and what it was?
|WESTERN KNIGHTS||Unofficial mascot : INXS
Still releasing songs but without their front man just another ordinary band.
|INGLEWOOD UNITED||Unofficial mascot : Peter Andre
It's mysterious how they managed a hit and why they're still in the news.
|MANDURAH CITY||Unofficial mascot : Dolly Parton
Probably never would have made it without acquiring some new assets.
|FREMANTLE SPIRIT||Unofficial mascot : Hanson
It turns out that now the youngsters have grown up they're not so hot afterall.
|SWAN IC||Unofficial mascot : New Kids on the Block
Whoooooaaaaa Hangin' Tough ... for seven years!
|ARMADALE||Unofficial mascot : John Farnham
Everyone expects them to go out but they just keep on going around one more time.
BENTLEY HAS STIRLING IN SAFE HANDS
The goalkeeper’s life is busy but when you are also the team physio then things are simply hectic. But for Stirling Lions shot-stopper Mark Bentley it’s all part of mixing the game he loves with the profession he’s chosen. “I’m a medical student at UWA in my fourth year, it is challenging but I’m assured by (president) Don Evans I’ll have someone to help me with the physio role at the club soon,” commented 20-year old Bentley.
Bentley, who keeps goal for Stirling’s reserves, got a rare first team opportunity during the Night Series. The promising young ‘keeper took the place of regular custodian Phil Straker when Stirling overcame a shaky start to shrug off Inglewood United 5-3. “I thought I did okay, and hopefully I proved to Mickey (Lyons) and Geordie (Paul Simmons) that if needed during the season I’m ready to fill in,” commented Bentley, who played youth team football at Western Knights, Fremantle City and Floreat Athena prior to moving to Macedonia Park..
Working with Straker, 2007 Goalkeeper of the Year, has been a pleasure for Bentley who has picked up quite a few tips from the one-time Sunderland youth team player. “Phil is a great bloke and I’ve managed to learn quite a bit from him,” explained Bentley, who has represented the State at youth level. “It’s great to play under a ‘keeper with so much experience and he brings the best out of me at training and I’m learning all the time.”
MADGIC RETURNS TO NATIONAL ARENA
Perth Glory have bolstered their attacking options for next season with the capture of midfielder Josip Magdic from Floreat Athena. The 22-year old played four times for Glory during 2006/07 and was invited to re-join the club after starring in Floreat's unbeaten run to last years Premier League title. "Josip is an extremely talented player and it's a credit to him how he has gone about forcing his way back into the A-League and I'm confident he'll be a solid contributor for us next season," coach David Mitchell said.
Magdic is determined to make the most of his second chance and has set himself to play a more significant role at the club this time around. "I maintained the belief that I had the ability to play at the top level and I just went about trying to perform consistently in every game I played," Magdic said. "I'm really happy to be given another opportunity at the Glory and I'll be doing everything I can to contribute to getting the club back to the top of the A-League."
Hardworking utility Naum Sekulovski became the fourteenth players on Glory's books for 2007/08 by agreeing to extend his stay in Perth for another year. The versatile left footer joined Glory for the inaugural A-League campaign and has made 45 appearances across three seasons. "Naum has a proven track record and can play a variety of roles for us," Mitchell said. "He is a great character to have around the club and I look forward to him playing a big part in a successful season for us," Mitchell said.
DICKOV LINKED WITH GLORY MOVE
Former Scotland striker Paul Dickov is believed to be in discussions with Perth Glory. Dickov is currently playing on loan at Blackpool and will become a free agent when his Manchester City contract expires at the end of the season. Blackpool have expressed an interest in keeping the 35-year old for another season but media reports from England have Dickov as “very close” to agreeing terms with Glory. In a 424-game career Dickov has put away 113 goals in spells at Arsenal, Leicester City, Blackburn Rovers and Manchester City, amongst others.
ERGIC CAPTAINS BASEL TO CUP GLORY
Ivan Ergic has lifted the Swiss Cup for the second time in as many years. The former Perth Glory midfielder captained Basel to a 4-1 victory against second-tier AC Bellinzona outfit in front of 33,000 ecstatic supporters at St. Jakob-Park. Bellinzona had the better of the opening stages, however, Eren Derdiyok settled Basel by netting the opening goal on 31 minutes. Bellinzona equalised after 58 minutes through Christian Pouga but their euphoria was short-lived as they conceded three times in as many minutes to lose any chance of causing an upset. Daniel Majstorovic headed in on 62 minutes, substitute Marco Streller made it 3-1, and Benjamin Huggel put the match beyond doubt to book Basel’s place in European competition next season.
LAZARIDIS WANTS ONE MORE SHOT
Western Australia’s most decorated player, Stan Lazaridis, is willing to play on past his 36th birthday to help lift Perth Glory away from the foot of the national league table. However, there us no guarantee Lazaridis will again don Glory colours with the club yet to enter into contract negotiations with the former Socceroo. Lazaridis, who made 60 ‘A’ international appearances for Australia, was restricted to the sidelines for the better part of the past twelve months but is till to take a pay cut to extend his career. “The hunger and motivation is there and I feel like my body can definitely handle the rigours of A-League football,” he said. “I know I can still make a big contribution at this level and my last few games last season proved there was gas left it he tank.” Lazaridis hopes to meet coach David Mitchell in the next few weeks and agree to a new deal prior to the commencement of pre-season training in May.
ASSOCIATION CUP, ROUND ONE (Inglewood United v Swan I.C. by Peter Simcox; South West Phoenix v Mandurah City by Kirk O’Connor; Cockburn City v Sorrento by Kerry Slater; Stirling Lions v Gosnells City by Don Evans)
Adam Bachillor scored three times as Floreat Athena brushed aside Canning City 5-1 in a one-sided contest at Litis Stadium. The host club were on the offensive early and with quarter of an hour gone took the lead when Josip Magdic delivered the ball to an unmarked Adam Bachillor who had the simple task of tapping in from 8-metres. Magdic was involved again five minutes later by feeding possession to Garin Collins whose cut-back was sent into the net by Miki Vujacic. Canning were lucky not to fall further behind as Bachillor, Collins and Magdic each failed to capitalise on good chances. A terrific flowing move just before half-time had Miki Vujacic thread the ball to Magdic whose centring pass was blasted into the top corner by Bachillor. There was no let-up from Floreat following the turnaround as Collins charged into attack but was unable to beat young goalkeeper Devon Spence. Paul Van Dongen and Mick Van Dongen worked hard to keep the hosts at bay while at the opposite end of the park Duaane Hepburn made sure Floreat's defence was kept on their toes. Canning deservedly pulled a goal back just after the hour when Floreat were caught square by Duncan Hind's through ball which allowed Hepburn to race clear and round Vas Vujacic before netting. This jolted Canning into action as Garth Lecky and Ryan Allomes began to have greater influence in midfield as Dave Mickler and Hepburn searched for a second goal. However, the result was put beyond doubt by Bachillor who completed his hat-trick by converting a swift move down the right which featured Julian Madaschi and Magdic. David Foster came off the bench late on and immediately made his mark by out-muscling two defenders before lashing past Spence in a one-on-one.
Tommy Jones celebrated his return to E.C.U. Joondalup by scoring both goals in their 2-1 defeat of Amateur champions Fremantle United at Hilton Reserve. With Scott Bushby and Darren Broxton pulling the strings in midfield Joondalup dominated the opening half, however, the visitors ability to over-complicate their game combined with poor delivery into the final third made genuine chances a rarity. So it was against the run of play that Fremantle grabbed the lead when Felim Rugel charged down an attempted clearance by Tommi Tomich and the loose ball sat kindly for the striker to tap into an empty net after 20 minutes. Although stunned, Joondalup continued to dictate terms before deservedly drawing level ten minutes from half-time when a great move involving Tommy Amphlett and John Thornley ended with the latter squaring for Tommy Jones to drill in from 8-metres. The pattern of the first half flowed through after the break with Amphlett and Andy Durkin using their pace down the wings to wreak havoc on a well-organised home defence. By contrast, Fremantle’s main avenue into attack was Rugel who worked tirelessly to find space against a backline under the command of Anthony Jones and Craig Simpson. The all-important breakthrough came on 55 minutes when Amphlett got in behind the defence and centred to Tommy Jones who bundled in Joondalup’s second of the afternoon. Tommy Jones could have secured victory and his hat-trick not long after but stroked the ball wide from Amphlett’s cut back. Fremantle became increasingly desperate as the clock ticked down and a succession of long-range shots failed to elicit a response from Tomich.
James Sammut’s strike three minutes from full-time snatched Inglewood United a 2-1 victory against Swan I.C. at the Clipsal Stadium. The away team was quickly into stride with Tom Shepheard breaking clear only to be thwarted by Oliver Taseski, and Gary Andrews crashed the ball off the underside of the crossbar from a Robert Monterosso cross. James Duncan immediately launched Inglewood into attack through Daniel Niederberger who was unable to find a way past goalkeeper Corey Hugo in a one-on-one situation. Swan’s persistence paid off after 12 minutes when Monterosso’s cross fell to John Mansaray who fired past Taseski from 7-metres. The score should have been levelled just three minutes later when a long ball over the defence released Niederberger but his shot crashed into the bar and Bobby Despotovski’s follow-up was blocked by Dom Ando. But Inglewood were not about to be denied and on 27 minutes Jason Colli’s cross from the right found an unmarked Despotovski who converted at close-range amid Swans’ appeals for offside which fell on death ears. With this the hosts seized control and if not for the brilliance of Hugo could have been three or four goals up by the break. Neiderberger was left frustrated by a truly world-class save after 36 minutes, and six minutes later a superb double save saw Hugo keep out a Despotovski then Niederberger’s follow-up. The second half produced fewer chances as both teams struggled to find their rhythm. David Perich should have done better on the hour than shoot directly at Taseski, while Hugo foiled Niederberger for a fifth time midway through the period. With the game seemingly destined for extra-time, Sammut combined well with Despotovski on the edge of the 18-yard box before despatching his shot past Hugo to settle the tie.
Morley Windmills overcame local rival Ashfield 1-0 in a fiercely contested if scrappy encounter at Wotton Reserve. The games solitary goal arrived with just 8 minutes gone when Gareth Lloyd's corner was flicked on by Alan Nanini and Chris McCulloch pushed the ball past the out-stretched arms of goalkeeper Atekhis Elhossain. With neither team able to stamp their authority over proceedings play ebbed and flowed from one end of the field to the other for the rest of the half. Morley displayed the greater composure with Paul Dundo the architect of their better attacking moves and would have extended their lead if not for rusty finishing by strike partners Lloyd and Greenwood who squandered several guilt-edged chances. Greenwood eventually found a way through just before half-time when he emerged from behind the defence to net, however, last years 2007 Golden Boot winner was denied a goal by a dubious offside call. Jamie Kumkar, Martin Kelly and Osman Conteh featured prominently as Ashfield emerged for the second half determined to get back on level terms. Martin Kelly was denied what looked like being a certain goal when his free-kick from 20-metres crashed into the legs of an opponent. A lung-bursting run by James Long took him past several opponents only for his shot to be blocked by a defence underpinned by McCulloch and Nanini. Morley almost snuck a second goal close to the end when Greenwood slipped clear of the defence but placed wide with only the 'keeper to beat.
Perth S.C. exposed the gulf between semi-professional and amateur football by thumping Murdoch University 8-0 at Dorrien Gardens. It took only a couple of minutes for the home side to gain the upper hand as David Price eased his way through the defence only to have his crisp shot saved by John De Sousa. Murdoch almost took a surprise lead on the quarter hour when Tapiwa Ndlovu's shot was deflected just wide by Michael Icanovski. Andreas Oliviera was afforded space two minutes later to shrug off his marker and delicately chipping De Sousa from 16-metres. A cross from the left Antonio Naglieri avoided all but Andrija Jukic whose deft touch was enough to roll the ball into the net on 23 minutes as the floodgates opened. Greg Sharland added the third on 34 minutes by drilling a low shot past De Sousa after being released by Oliveira. Four minutes later Antonio Naglieri laid the ball off to Sharland who found the back of the net from the edge of the 18-yard box. Goal number five resulted from Sharland's short corner to Adam Hett whose curling cross was nodded in at the far post by an unmarked Oliviera. On the hour David Onoforo tapped in at close-range after a neat lead-up involving Hett, Jukic and Peter Lord. Murdoch's best chance came shortly after when Andrew Jennings' low cross was met by Anthony Walsh whose first time effort flashed wide. Oliviera weaved his way through the defence before cutting the ball back for Lord to tap in with ease with 66 minutes gone. Murdoch's miserable day out was made complete with nineteen minutes to go when defender Clayton Kendall had the misfortune of looping a header over his own 'keeper for Perth's eighth and final goal.
Fremantle Spirit scored twice in the second half to defeat a gallant Rockingham City 2-0 at Lark Hill Sports Complex. The port side adapted the better to the warm and humid conditions with young guns Cisco Jorquiera, and Jason Barrera providing much of the forward drive. Andrew Keary and Luke Rennie worked tirelessly in a defence under pressure while goalkeeper Craig Olenjik was called upon on several occasions to keep the teams on level terms. It looked as though Fremantle would go ahead midway through the half when Jorquiera was played through by David Araya but Olenjik was equal to the task with a spectacular save. It was only now that the hosts started to find their rhythm with midfielder John McCreery asserting some control to renew his teams’ confidence. Their best chance fell to Rob Clackett who was sent through with only the ‘keeper to beat but Steve Grant was quick off his line to block the shot. The interval gave Fremantle time to steady the ship and they soon regained control of the game upon the resumption of play. Smart off the ball movement and crisp passing lead to opportunities for Callum Roberts and David Rodgers, all of which went unconverted. The pressure eventually paid off in the 70th minute when Jorquiera slid a pass through to Roberts who accelerated past the defence before placing his shot to Olenjik’s right. The introduction of Michael Vaz had immediate impact for Rockingham with the striker heading a cross from McCreery narrowly over the crossbar. Barrera doubled the visitors lead with a stunning volley from the edge of the 18-yard box which hit the back of the strike before the ‘keeper could react.
Mandurah City showed no mercy in despatching South West Phoenix 5-0 at Bunbury’s Soccerdrome. The win provided the Premier League newcomer a timely confidence boost ahead of next weekend’s opening round of home and away fixtures. With just 5 minutes gone Phil O’Callaghan won possession just outside the 18-yard box and laid the ball off for Bright to side-foot in the opening goal from 10-metres. Five minutes later Ryan Townsend delivered a deep cross to the far post where Bright’s intelligent header lobbed over goalkeeper Ryan Montgomery to drop into the net. Things only got worse for the home team as Keith Brown made it three-nil with a classy finish from the edge of the area following some neat one-touch passing by O’Callaghan and Gary Attril. Phoenix, to their credit, marshalled their forces and fought their way back into the game. David Murphy and Greg Hayes worked hard to hold possession and stabilise Phoenix but a lack of penetration meant there were no clear cut goalscoring chances. A delightful lob just before half-time gave Ryan McDarby his first goal for Mandurah and effectively ended the hosts’ hopes of a second half revival. Townsend went close to adding a fifth to the tally early in the second half but Montgomery tapped the defender’s header over the bar. Phoenix picked up the pace and were unlucky not to score a consolation through Lee Stewart whose clipped shot cleared Mike Green as well as the bar. Not long after a crisp first time strike by Stewart was cleared off the line by Chris Currie after substitute David Mayers rounded Green but was forced wide. Stuart Young put the icing on the cake for Mandurah in the 80th minute when he reacted quickest to a ball into the area by O’Callaghan which he poked past Montgomery from a metre.
Todd Harnwell popped up in extra-time to send Sorrento into the next round courtesy of a 3-2 defeat of Cockburn City at Dalmatinac Park. Johnny Mirco, Dom De Felice and Shane McNally each had shots saved by Neil Young or fired narrowly wide as Cockburn held the early possession. It took 11 minutes for Sorrento to venture forward but Guy McDonald's effort flew past the post. Cockburn continued to press with Liam Lilly heading against the upright from Johnny Mirco's delivery. Against the run of play Stuart Montgomery put the visitors ahead by coolly slotting past Dejan Aleksic after Harnwell was fouled inside the penalty area on 22 minutes. But celebrations were short-lived with Michael Mirco threading the equaliser through a crowded goalmouth after a partially cleared corner just three minutes later. A spate of bookings leading into the break culminated in a heated confrontation between De Felice and James Morgan which lead referee Michael Nugus to rightfully dismiss both players. Sorrento began the new half full of life as Montgomery and Harnwell both went close inside the first few minutes. Johnny Mirco blasted a free-kick past the defence wall and into the bottom corner put Cockburn in the box seat after 56 minutes. Danny Hill entered the fray shortly after and restored parity by converting at close-range after Michael Ord got on the end of a well-flighted Glen Thomas free-kick in the 65th minute. Caution became the main priority going into the final twenty minutes with neither team wanting to concede what could have been the deciding goal. Harnwell settled the game six minutes into extra-time by lashing a loose ball into the net after Aleksic parried Stuart Banks' low free-kick. With legs tiring and having exhausted options off the bench, Cockburn battled hard to send the game to penalties. However, Young and his well-organised defence weren't about to let that happen and held firm to record victory for the away team.
Teenagers Phil Arnold and Rory Feely both scored twice as Stirling Lions opened their Cup defence with an emphatic 5-0 win over a brave and battered Gosnells City at Macedonia Park. Stirling announced their intentions early with Arnold rifling narrowly wide and Steve Hesketh heading against the crossbar inside the opening minutes. With 6 minutes gone Jordan Rhodes knocked the ball through for Arnold to outpace the defence and drill past veteran goalkeeper Jim Ellis to put Stirling one-up. Only a couple more minutes passed before Rhodes sent a corner to the far post where Leo Harman tucked in their second of the day. Gosnells first opening came via Ellis' booming goalkick which was latched on to by Adam Bremner who blasted disappointingly wide. Arnold skimmed the top of the bar after receiving a low cross from Feely as Stirling sought to add a third. Feely bagged his first senior goal on 24 minutes by tapping in at close-range after Arnold headed Rhodes' in-swinging corner against the bar. Having gone three-up Stirling eased off the pace, allowing Gosnells to venture forward a bit more as Ian Maguire and Aaron Nadin began to assert some influence. Ellis found himself under siege as Arnold and Feely rained shots down on the Gosnells goal after the break. A defence splitting pass by Harman on the hour was into the path of Feely whose clinical low finish gave Ellis no chance. Gosnells came back into the game late on with Ian Maguire's driving runs producing a couple of half chances for Ciaran Allen and Bremner. However, the day belonged to Stirling and with ten minutes remaining Harman delivered a superb cross which Arnold headed neatly into the net to complete the route.
Wanneroo City booked their place in the second round by out-shooting Dianella White Eagles 2-0 at Kingsway Sporting Complex. The home side came out desperately seeking the first goal with Ben Yates’ shot blocked by Gavin Oakes, and shortly the Wanneroo attacker hit the crossbar. After a frantic opening the teams settled and with neither able to get on top goalkeepers Fraser Siddall and Mathew Battigelli were rarely called upon. The game didn’t really spark into life until the second half which was had been underway only a few minutes when a foul on Brian Cairney resulted in a penalty to Wanneroo, but Rowdy Yates placed his spot kick too close to Battigelli who kept the game level. With 65 minutes a pass squirted out of midfield for Cairney to race on and crash the ball past Battigelli, much to the delight of the small home crowd. Dianella responded by moving Peter Vukmirovic into attack as Dragan Njegic and Matt Butler flexed their midfield muscle. The visitors were given a way back into the game when Danny Glasspool’s rash challenge on Vukmirovic lead to the referee pointing to the spot, but Siddall made a hero of himself by moving sharply to thwart Alan Crofts. Unperturbed, Dianella kept on pressing with Sasha Jimmy Taneski firing wide and a long-range effort by Njegic flew high of the bar. The visitors held the majority of possession but wayward finishing continually frustrated their search for an equaliser. A swift counterattack eventually put the result beyond doubt as substitute Gareth Davies cut in from the right and neatly placed the ball inside the near post with only a few minutes remaining.
Western Knights marched into the next round by thrashing Perth Azzurri 7-0 at Nash Field. Anthony Fearon and Rory Grant bagged two apiece with Matt Allen, Keith Butler and Cormac Dawson also on the scoresheet. Armadale were taken to extra-time by First Division club Balcatta before emerging victorious 4-1 at Alfred Skeet Oval. New Zealan import Shannon Daley netted twice and Stefan Smiljanic and Kodi Madeley once each for the home side, whereas Balcatta’s goal came from Julian Piromalli. The upset of the round came from Coker Park where amateur outfit Southern Spirit beat Queens Park 2-0. R.Celesti put the visitors ahead on 67 minutes before B.North secured victory just a couple of minutes later. An goal in the final minute of extra-time by Daniel Cagorski saved Bayswater City’s blushes as they edged past Shamrock Rovers 1-0 at Frank Drago Reserve. An extra-time own goal was enough to send Forrestfield United into the second round courtesy of a 1-0 defeat of Lynwood Colts at Hossack Reserve. I.Bunton and P.Sheahan found the net inside the opening eight minutes to earn Hamersley Rovers a 2-0 win over Spearwood Dalmatinac in the Sunday fixture. Further details of these six games were not forthcoming from any of the twelve participating clubs.
RUKAVYTSYA OFFERED TRIALS IN GERMANY
Young striker Nikita Rukavytsya has been invited to trial with German Bundesliga side Hannover 96. Rukavytsya is contracted to Perth Glory for next season but has been granted permission by coach David Mitchell to fly to Germany. “This is an opportunity for Nikita to further his football education during the Hyundai A-League off season,” said Glory chief executive Scott Gooch. “Nikita is one of a host of outstanding young players at our club who have clearly benefited from the environment we’ve established in Perth. It is a big year for Nikita, he’ll be looking to back-up his performances in the league and also secure a place at the Beijing games.” Rukavytsya enjoyed a good debut season with Glory, plundering six goals while also playing a role in Australia’s Olympic Games qualifying campaign.
GLORY IN THE CITY
Dave Mitchell and Tony Sage have strengthened Perth Glory's European ties by visiting the headquarters of two-time English League champions Manchester City. Glory is a member of the Manchester City global alliance and this week Mitchell and Sage gained a first hand look at the Citizens' first team and youth academy set-ups. "We've been welcomed with open arms," said coach Mitchell. "There is a great relationship between Glory and Manchester City and our discussions have ranged from recruiting to training methodology and injury prevention, all of which will help us in our bid to play finals football in the coming season."
Mitchell was particularly interested in the youth program at Maine Road which has produced 25 first team players in the past nine years. "With the new National Youth League set to kick-off this season in Australia we'll be taking plenty of ideas from here into our program to benefit the development of our young players and hopefully see them progress into the A-League with the Glory," Mitchell commented. Manchester City's ran away with the Youth League title this season and meet London glamour club Chelsea in the final of the FA Youth Cup.
Manchester is one of the key stops on Mitchell's international scouting mission which has so far taken him through Asia and has continental Europe as the next destination. "The trip has been successful so far and to be able to spend quality time with Manchester City is the icing on the cake," Mitchell said. "Over the last week or so I have been able to see a number of players that would be terrific inclusions into our side next season and we'll be working through the steps which will hopefully have them wearing the Glory shirt next season."
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
The drama of knock-out football takes centre stage this weekend with the opening round of the 2008 association Cup, sponsored by Soccer Pools. The pick of the action is the meeting at Dalmatinac Park between Cockburn City and Sorrento. Mirco Jelicic has high hopes for this return season with Cockburn and a Cup run is part of that, while Sorrento’s appearance in the last four of the Night Series has confirmed that they are back in business. A late Scott Neville strike earned the Gulls a 2-1 victory when the sides last met just under a month ago.
The gap between semi-professional and amateur football is examined through a quartet of games. Bayswater City were one of the form teams in pre-season but they’ll need to be on top of their game to get past reigning Amateur champions Shamrock Rovers. E.C.U. Joondalup journey to Hilton Reserve where they meet Fremantle United, whereas Western Knights welcome Perth Azzurri to Nash Field. Perth S.C., fresh from winning collecting a third successive Night Series title, are tipped to win at home against Murdoch University.
Balcatta last weekend won the First Division Night Series and would dearly love to extend those celebrations by toppling Armadale at Alfred Skeet Oval. Floreat Athena play their third game in eight days when Canning City swing by Litis Stadium. Inglewood United having hosting right against Swan I.C., and Mandurah City travel south to Bunbury to square off with South West Phoenix. There shouldn’t be too many problems for Cup holder Stirling Lions who are home to Gosnells City.
Rockingham City have a tough home date with Fremantle Spirit, while Morley Windmills welcome a much-changed Ashfield to Wotton Reserve. Wanneroo City are home to a Dianella White Eagles outfit missing as many as a dozen players due to delays with player registrations. Lynwood Colts take on a young Forrestfield United side at Hossack Reserve, and Coker Park is the venue for Queens Park verses Southern Spirit. Sunday's solitary fixture takes place at Dalmatinac Park where Spearwood Dalmatinac pit skills against Hamersley Rovers.
HASSELL DARES TO DREAM
Brad Hassell has his sights set on taking Armadale all the way to this season’s Cup final. The new coach of Armadale has been pleased with his sides pre-season form and spent the past couple of weeks fine tuning his line-up for this weekend’s opening round showdown with second tier outfit Balcatta. “Knowing you only have to win three or four more games to win the Cup is enough motivation to make us want to win to Saturday,” he said. “Balcatta will no doubt be on a high after winning the Night Series so it’ll be up to us to match it physically on the day and, hopefully, our extra quality gets us through.”
Armadale made an early exit from the Night Series but Hassell saw enough positive signs to give him confidence for the coming season. “I believe we did better than expected, and although we lost points for playing an ineligible player we really only lost one out of five games,” said Hassell, who was pleased with how his side responded to an opening round thumping from Cockburn City. “We bounced back with draws against Sorrento and Mandurah City, and our best performance came against Fremantle Spirit where we totally controlled the game. We finished with a hard-fought draw against champions Floreat Athena.”
Hassell caught the coaching bug while in charge of Sorrento’s reserves in 2005, and last year he accepted his first senior position at First Division club Morley Windmills. The opportunity to further test himself at Premier League level has Hassell buzzing. “I’m really enjoying it at the moment; I know its going be a big challenge but an exciting one too,” he said. “If we can improve with each season and keep adding quality to the squad then we should be ready to challenge in a few years time - it isn’t going to happen overnight but I believe it will happen.”
Something that Hassell has been particularly impressed by at Armadale is the number of young players knocking on the door of first team selection. “From what I’ve heard about last season the kids did really well,” he said. “Steve Skilandis, Mark Darby, Ryan Pearson, Kevin Caroma and Kodi Madeley all have first team experience and will be focusing hard at getting a regular spot on a Saturday. The two younger players that have really impressed me from last teams squad are Matt Bennion and Marlon Ramirez - these two boys are set to have a fantastic season for the club.”
Hassell has retained the bulk of last seasons’ squad to which he’s added depth through a policy of selective recruitment. “We’re slowly picking up more and more quality players,” said the Armadale coach. “Andy Bowyer, Remo and Adrian McCann all followed me over from Morley, and a great pick up for us was former Glory midfielder Gary Faria who will add a great deal of experience to the club. Oliver Hilton, Mark Darby, Kevin Caroma and Stefan Smiljanic have also joined us and there’s also a few more in the pipeline which we are still working on.”
The Night Series provided Hassell and the other top flight coaches a great early opportunity to view first hand this seasons’ opposition. The Armadale boss was impressed with the football he saw and feels the race for the Premier League title will be tight and fiercely contested. “This season will be tough with some very good teams out there. In my opinion the top four will be Floreat Athena, Perth S.C., Stirling Lions and Cockburn City - and not necessarily in that order,” he said. “I’ll be looking for Armadale to be competitive against all teams and I believe we’ll surprise a few this season.”
MCNALLY ADDS TO ATTACKING OPTIONS
John Thornley and Tom Jones have linked up with E.C.U. Joondalup as Willie McNally strengthens his goalscoring options in preparation for the coming season. The attack-minded pair joins Joondalup as replacement for Stuart Montgomery and Phil O’Callaghan, who recently departed for Sorrento and Mandurah City respectively. “It was a blow when Monty and Scott left and the morale at the club was down,” commented the Joondalup coach. “It took a while to get going but with a couple of new faces in John Thornley and Tommy Jones - and there could be more - training has been very up-beat.”
McNally won’t be underestimating amateur outfit Fremantle United when they meet Joondalup in the opening round of the Cup this weekend. “They are a very good side and most of their team are lads who’ve played in the Saturday semi-professional league, but for one reason or another they’ve turned to playing on a Sunday,” said McNally. “Perth striker David Onoforo played for them last season so that’s the calibre of players they’ve got and we need to show them a great deal of respect.” Joondalup will be without the services of club captain Ian McMurray and defender Jon Higgins due to suspension for the trip to Hilton Reserve.
LOAN MOVE WOULD SUIT WILLIAMS
Rhys Williams believes a temporary move away from Middlesbrough can help him claim a first team place. The 19-year old defender has made a big impression with ‘Boro’s reserves this season and is hopeful of leaving Teeside to gain some senior experience. “Hopefully, if I can get out on loan between now and the end of the season I will improve as a player,” said Williams, who played his part in Wales Under-21’s recent defeat of Bosnia-Herzegovina. “Adam Johnson and David Wheater both benefited from loan spells and I think a similar spell will help me as well.” Williams played locally for E.C.U. Joondalup prior to taking up three-year deal with Middlesbrough in mid-2005.
FLOREAT AND STIRLING SHARE SHIELD
The Football West Shield will be split between Floreat Athena and Stirling Lions after neither side was able to fashion a goal in this evenings clash at Litis Stadium. A small crowd braved chilly conditions to watch last years League champion, Floreat, and Cup winner, Stirling, slug out a scoreless draw as Football West officially launched the 2008 season. Stirling opened the better and on 10 minutes Leo Harman stung the hands of goalkeeper Vas Vujacic following a Dannie Richman cross. Poor delivery into the final third restricted Floreat to only a single opportunity which David Foster fired wide after latching on to a Jovo Povlovic through ball. Vas Vujacic came to their rescue again with a superb save to keep out Richman's volley from the edge of the 18-yard box, and minutes later scooped up Ludovic Boi's long-range strike. With half-time approaching Boi sliced his way past three opponents but with the hard work done the teenager fired wide.
The second half continued where the first left off and Boi's dipping shot from 20-metres cleared the crossbar by the narrowest of margins. This was followed by Floreat's best period of the game with Miki Vujacic leading the way forward along with Dean Apelgren. Miki Vujacic worked his way down the flank but fired high from long-range, then Adam Bachiller got into position but shot straight at 'keeper Phil Straker. The middle stages of the half produced few openings although Harman should have done better than blaze high at close-range after Steven Hesketh's neat near post flick-on. Stirling took things up a notch as full-time loomed and Arnold latched on to a terrific pass over the defence but was forced wide by the 'keeper and shot into the side netting. late chacnes came the way of Hesketh, Jordan Rhodes and Arnold but on each occasion Vas Vujacic was up to the task.
Floreat Athena: Vas Vujacic, Julian
Madaschi, Jovo Pavlovic, John Migas (Saul Contera
70), Branimir Mikulic (Rafael Insurralde 60),
Paul Vatistas, Miki Vujacic, Adam Bachiller,
Josip Magdic, Dean Apelgren, David Foster (Garin Collins 60)
Stirling Lions: Phil Straker, Michael Pugliese, Darko Ilomanoski, Dannie Richman (Rory Feely 73), Steven Hesketh, Ludovic Boi, Phil Arnold, Leo Harman, Alan Muir, Dean Evans, Jordan Rhodes
Referee: Ton Klaver
MONTGOMERY SETTLED AT SORRENTO
The sudden defection of Stuart Montgomery from E.C.U. Joondalup to northern neighbour Sorrento only weeks out from the start of the new season caught many in the game by surprise. However, leaving Joondalup wasn't a snap decision by Montgomery who carefully weighed up his options for several weeks before accepting things just weren't working out. "The decision to leave was a tough one as I've known (coach) Willie McNally for years," explained Montgomery. "I simply wasn't enjoying my football at Joondalup - it got to the point where I was ready to just walk away from the game. But Willie totally understood and accepted my decision and I'm grateful for him allowing me to move on."
Montgomery says he's feeling fitter than ever having completed a vigorous pre-season schedule with Joondalup. "The pre-season was real tough, probably the toughest I've had in a long time. But it's also the first one in years that I have managed to do every session," enthused the 29-year old. "I feel the fittest I have been in a long while and - touch wood - I haven't got any niggling injuries which is unusual for me. So having done all the hard work I'm looking forward to a full season and helping Sorrento achieve the goals they've set for the year."
The Gulls go into the new season brimming with confidence courtesy of a strong recruitment campaign which brought Montgomery, Shaun Kilkelly, Scott Bulloch and Michael Ord to the club. "I regard Shaun and Ordy as being right up there as the best in the state in their positions, and Scotty is one of the best left-sided players in the league," said Montgomery. "Add in Danny Cain and Brodie Martin and you can see we have a very talented squad. I think this is the best squad I have been involved in since I won the League and Top Five with Western Knights some years ago."
An increasing number of youngsters pushing for first team selection has given Mongtomery a glimpse into Sorrento's future. "I've been really impressed with Lewis Flatt and Scott Neville - they are both very talented young guys, and these boys have a big part to play at the club this year," he said. "It's going to be very competitive for a midfield role this season with the likes of Glen Thomas, James Morgan, Brodie Martin and Scott Bulloch also in the mix and hopefully the boys can step up to the challenge and fight for their spots."
Montgomery has been thrilled with the reception he's received at Percy Doyle Reserve where coaches Steve Neville and Trevor Morgan rule the roost. "I've been impressed with Steve and Trevor's training - it's enjoyable and we have a good laugh," he said. "They've both played at the highest level and have coached teams who've won trophies so they know what they're talking about. I've been warned about Trevor's outbursts in the changing rooms but after having Willie Kelly as coach for seven years and coping some of his outbursts I am sure I can handle whatever Trevor throws my way!"
KOVACEVIC UP FOR THE CHALLENGE
Floreat Athena will be a much different scoring machine in its Premier League title defence according to defender Ante Kovacevic. A place in the Night Series final indicates the State League champions aim of going back-to-back is on course, despite the loss Golden Boot winner Boima Karpeh and the impending departure of star midfielder Josip Magdic. But veteran defender Kovacevic said the club is well placed to cover the pair’s departure when it starts the new season on 12th April away to Mandurah City.
Kovacevic has been encouraged by the pre-season form of David Foster, signed over the summer from Swan I.C., and a more balanced scoring strategy should hold them in good stead for the year ahead. “They (Karpeh and Magdic) are not easy guys to replace but we had a pretty decent Night Series - we created opportunities and scored goals,” said 33-year old Kovacevic. “Foster has scored a few goals but we can’t rely on any one or two people, we’ll try and spread them around. Things have been going nicely and I think we’ll have a good enough squad this year.”
Floreat completed last season without defeat and secured their first Premier League title in a decade a month before the end of the home and away series. The hunger for success burns just as bright as ever at Litis Stadium where Michael Roki’s squad is looking for a repeat performance. “This season isn’t going to be easy backing up - every team is going to be out there to knock us off,” said Kovacevic, a mainstay of the Floreat backline last term. “But that’s just another challenge we’re looking forward to.”
GERMAN CLUB SOUNDS OUT RUKAVYTSYA
Nikita Rukavytsya may have played his last game for Perth Glory having attracted serious attention from Germany. The 20-year old striker was a revelation in the latter part of the season to finish his first full season of A-League football as Glory’s second highest goalscorer. Club chief executive Scott Gooch would not be drawn on speculation linking Rukavytsya with a move to Germany’s Bundesliga. “If we were approached by a club or a player’s manager, we understand where we sit in the pecking order (of world football) and we need to support and promote youth,” said Gooch. “But we would look at each case on its merits.”
Rukavytsya came to Western Australia from the Ukraine in 2001 and made his initial mark playing youth team football with Perth S.C. Upon completion of a two-year scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport the strongly-built striker accepted a short-term deal with Glory, making his national league debut towards the end of the 2006/07 season. He was subsequently offered a two-year contract with the club and last season established himself as a first team regular, scoring six times in 20 appearances, half of which were off the bench. Rukavytsya recently made his national team debut in the Olyroos friendly with Mexico, and was part of the senior national squad that played Singapore last week.
REVOLUTIONARY CHANGE TO JUNIORS FOOTBALL
Major changes to junior football will see children playing in smaller teams on smaller pitches, and with smaller balls. And while Perth’s parks might be a long way from the world’s biggest stadiums, the changes are aimed at Australia one day winning the World Cup. Though Guus Hiddink’s Socceroos were lauded globally for their never-say-die efforts in Germany two year ago, individual technical ability has been identified as an area where Australia needs to improve. It’s hoped Football Australia’s “small-sided games” approach will be the remedy, giving junior players more touches of the ball, more skill and in the process unearthing the next generation of Australian superstars.
Football West chief executive Garry Chandler said a pilot program would be used by six and seven-year-olds at six metropolitan clubs and in several regional areas in the new season beginning next month. “The next four years is going to see a complete rollout, we’re starting with the younger ones first,” said Chandler. “It’s designed to provide more technical proficiency from a much earlier age. It’s really about getting more touches on the ball, many more passing opportunities and shooting opportunities. It’s just incredible the number of touches the kids have on the ball, which then feeds and develops their skill. It gives them more fun and hopefully this leads one day to Australia lifting the big one.”
PERTH COMPLETE NIGHT SERIES HAT-TRICK
Perth S.C. secured their third consecutive Night Series title by out-gunning Floreat Athena from the penalty spot in this evening's final at Litis Stadium. The bumper crowd of 2,000-plus was kept riveted as the tournaments top two teams slugged it out to end level at 2-2 after 120 minutes. And the drama flowed through into the shoot-out which Greg Sharland settled 6-5 in Perth's favour. John Coyne, Perth coach in Graham Normanton's absence, was thrilled with the outcome that confirmed the Blues dominance of Night Series football. "We played really well in the first half and maybe should have had one or two more goals. Floreat got one back late in the first half and it put them back into the game, and gave them a big lift," said Coyne. "It was six of one, half a dozen of the other in the second half - they had a couple of chances, we had a couple of chances … The crowd would have gone home happy tonight."
Perth came out firing and through some superb movement of the ball had Floreat holed up in their defensive half for much of the opening thirty minutes. Sharland and Todd Howarth asserted their dominance out wide on the left and linked to terrific effect with livewire striker Andreas Oliveira. The first chance on goal came via Sharland whose curling free-kick forced goalkeeper Vas Vujacic into saving down low. Andrija Jukic's explosive strike from distance whizzed just past the post, and Vas Vujacic kept the sides level by tipping away an in-swinging Todd Howarth corner destined for the net. Their persistence was rewarded on 20 minutes when Antonio Naglieri's corner fell kindly for Sharland to poke through a crowded goalmouth and into the net. And four minutes later the margin was doubled as Andreas Oliveira advanced on goal from the centre of the park before rocketing an unstoppable shot past Vas Vuajcic from 27-metres.
Oliveira went close to adding a third to the tally by latching onto a Jukic pass which he crashed into the crossbar from just outside the 18-yard box. Injury to Trent Kay forced Perth into re-shuffling the deck with Robbie Puca joining the midfield and Howarth pushing back into defence. The change resulted in a loss in momentum for the Blues and allowed Floreat to re-establish themselves as the half came to a close. With the hard work seemingly done, Branimir Mikulic disappointingly scuffed across the face of goal. Rafael Insurallde's strike from distance drifted wide, and a Josip Magdic free-kick was high of the target. In the 43rd minute Paul Vatistas played a terrific ball in behind the defence where Adam Bachillor bundled it into the net to give Floreat renewed hope for the second half.
Fired up by Michael Roki's half-time address, Floreat emerged for the second period determined to pick up where they left off. And that’s exactly what they did as Adam Bachillor unleashed a fine strike that Deeg prevented from crossing the line with his legs. It was a warning that Perth failed to heed and on 59 minutes John Migas' free-kick was parried by the 'keeper into the path of Garin Collins who in typical goal-poacher fashion made no mistake from 9-metres. This was exactly the spark that Roki had hope for and not long after Insurralde stung the gloves of Deeg with a long-range effort as Floreat sought to capitalise. Branimir Mikulic now began to have a greater say in proceedings and put in some penetrating runs down the right, while Insurralde and Magdic provided the drive coming through the middle.
A cross whipped in to the near post by Mikulic found Magdic whose close-range effort was blocked by Deeg and Naglieri moved swiftly to dispossess the midfielder before he could rattle off a second shot. Mikulic was again the provider not long after when Magdic allowed the ball to run for Garin Collins who was thwarted by Michael Icanovski. That's not to say Perth weren't without their chances as Vas Vujacic tipped a Naglieri shot over the crossbar, and a rising strike by David Price narrowly cleared the bar. With ten minutes to go Floreat were gifted a golden opportunity to go ahead after Gianfranco Circati's pulled the shirt of Collins leaving the referee with no option but to point to the spot, however, Deeg proved up to the task and denied Collins' to send the game into extra-time.
Oliveira thought he'd bagged the winner by tucking in Sharland's centre only for an offside flag to cut short the celebrations. This gave the Blues fresh impetus and in quick succession Oliviera fired wide and Robbie Puca placed high of the bar. The second period of extra-time was a completely different story with Insurralde forcing a blocking save from Deeg, Magdic rounded the 'keeper only to be thwarted by Icanovski on the line, and Collins was unable to re-direct a Mikulic cutback into the net. But with neither side able to break the deadlock, the scores level at 5-5 after six penalties each and midnight only minutes away, Magdic slammed his spot kick against the bar to give Perth a sniff of victory. Sharland ignored his tiring legs by confidently sending the ball past Vas Vujacic and into the top corner to settle what had been a truly entertaining contest.
Floreat Athena: Vas Vujacic, Julian
Madaschi, Ante Kovacevic, Jovo Pavlovic, John
Migas, Paul Vatistas, Branimir Mikulic, Josip
Magdic, Adam Bachillor, Garin Collins, Rafael
Insurralde (Dean Apelgren 110)
Perth S.C.: Gareth Deeg, Trent Kay (Robbie Puca 28), Gianfranco Circati, Michael Icanovski, Todd Howarth, David Price, Antonio Naglieri, Andrija Jukic, Greg Sharland, Andreas Oliveira, David Onoforo (Brendan Ross 105)
Bookings: Kovacevic (30), Insurralde (45), Magdic (64), Circati (66), Oliviera (74), Ross (115)
Referee: Jeremy Oliphant
BALCATTA OVERCOME THE ODDS TO CLAIM FIRST DIVISION NIGHT SERIES
A ten man Balcatta tasted early season glory by defeating Canning City 2-1 in a tense First Division Night Series final at Litis Stadium. Salv Todaro's side were quickly into rhythm and on 12 minutes had the lead when Adam Purcell's long ball sat nicely for Adrian Coloeiro who went around the last defender before drilling a low shot past goalkeeper Devon Spence. The game was turned on its head barely a minute later when Christian Debarro was dismissal for violent conduct towards Daniel Trevisiol, leaving Balcatta with ten men. Canning's first chance came on 25 minutes when Dave Mickler's shot from 20-metres flew over the crossbar. Within three minutes they were back on level terms as Simon Versaico angled his shot inside the far post after seizing upon a defensive error from 9-metres.
The second half mirrored the first with Balcatta displaying by far the greater enterprise thanks largely to the tireless efforts of Igor Novakovic and Julian Piromalli. Andy O'Neill had the 'keeper at full stretch after a weaving run into the box which took him past a couple of defenders. However, the best opening of the half came the way of Canning striker Duaane Hepburn who placed wide at the far post when he seemed destined to find the net. Coloeiro was forced out of the game on 70 minutes after being clattered into by Spence, who was very fortunate not to concede a penalty and receive his marching orders. The quality of the game deteriorated in the final twenty minutes with the neither team able to dominate as the ball was turned over with regularity and only a smattering of half chances were crafted.
Canning should have taken the lead minutes into the first period of extra-time but Hepburn shot wide from only a few metres after an enterprising lead-up by Mickler. It was a miss that would prove costly as in the 98th minute Novakovic drew the defence before centring low for Adrian D'Adamo to arrow his shot past Spence and into the net. O'Neill could have made the game safe in the second period when he surged out of midfield and inside the area but sent his shot too close to the 'keeper. Canning threw everything into grabbing a late equaliser but were denied by Kenny Ftynogiannis' goalkeeping heroics and the non-stop efforts of veteran Carlo Di Toro and defensive partner Adam Purcell.
Balcatta: Kenny Ftynogiannis, Shane
Mitchell, Mark Purcell, Adam Purcell, Carlo Di
Toro, Julian Piromalli (Adam Stillitano 110),
Christian Debarro, Igor Novakovic, Andy O’Neill,
Adrian Coloeiro (Adrian D’Adamo 70), David Moschilla (Ogi Radonic 60)
Canning City: Devon Spence, Paul Van Dongen, Michael Van Dongen, Duncan Hind, Ryan Allomes (Dave Evans 105), Simon Versaico, Garth Lecky, Daniel Trevisiol, Duaane Hepburn, Dave Mickler (Quentin Sharp 84), Rory Mouttet (Dave Mahon 116)
Bookings: Mark Purcell (2), Lecky (74), Mouttet (82), Paul Van Dongen (115)
Dismissals: Debarro (14)
Referee: John Williams
SPENCE TO SELL HIS SHARE OF GLORY
Property developer John Spence is poised to relinquish his share in Perth Glory and leave the A-League franchise in the hands of Tony Sage and Brett McKeon. It is understood Sage and McKeon are committed to retaining the club initially on a 50-50 basis should Spence give up his one-third share, although another businessman is believed to have expressed an interest in buying into the franchise. “We are in the middle of commercial discussion about how we are going to restructure things for the best of the club and ourselves,” Spence told Jonathon Cook of the ‘West Australian’ newspaper. “I’m going to re-look at my involvement for a number of reasons. I wasn’t here last year nearly as much as I’d hoped and I’m probably going to be here even less next year because my business is growing internationally.”
GARCIA’S FORM MIRRORS THAT OF HULL
It is no coincidence that Hull City has consolidated their claim for a place in next seasons’ Premier League since Richard Garcia’s return to action. The Tigers have surged into contention for automatic promotion by winning six of eight games following the 27-year old attacker returned to England after the death of his father. “It is great to be part of something like this - it is new territory for Hull. It is very similar to when I was at Colchester when we were going for promotion,” he said. “It was really exciting and there was a huge buzz about the place. It is exactly the same feeling now I am at Hull. It makes it a pleasure to come to work each day.”
Hull’s move up the table has striking similarities to the season Garcia’s former club, Colchester United, upset the odds to win promotion from League One in 2005/06. “When Colchester won promotion, we were the surprise package of the division along with Southend. It helped us because we were not in the limelight and did not feel the pressure,” he explained. “There were some big clubs in League One and all the focus was on them. That meant we could just get on with our job. It is what we have been able to do at Hull … The manager is good at keeping people’s feet on the ground. We are all ambitious but we also realise there are potential banana skins along the way.”
NIGHT SERIES FINAL HAS ALL THE MAKINGS OF A CLASSIC
The final chapter of the 2008 Night Series will be played out on Saturday when Floreat Athena take on Perth S.C. in the tournament decider at Litis Stadium from 8.30pm. Meetings of the inner-city rivals always bring out the best in players from both camps and with the teams so far unbeaten in the competition this promises to be an absolute cracking encounter. Opening proceedings at 6.00pm is the First Division final between Canning City, winners of the tournament in 2006, and a Balcatta side that has been transformed over the summer. Admission is $7 adults, $4 concessions and under 16’s are admitted free.
Perth are the undisputed champions of Night Series football with an astonishing sixteen titles, five of which have been delivered by coach Graham Normanton. In-form striker Andreas Oliveira will be looking to add to the nine goals he’s already put away thanks to the attacking flair of Antonio Naglieri, Greg Sharland and Todd Howarth. The task of keeping Floreat at bay falls to long-serving defender Michael Icanovski and former national league goalkeeper Gareth Deeg, who was lured out of retirement to play a fourth season with the blues.
Icanovski, a product of the fertile youth system at Dorrien Gardens, is tipping a thrilling showdown between two team’s hell bent on scoring goals. “It will definitely be fast paced, end-to-end action,” said the 27-year old. “Both teams have a lot of creativity and possess an abundance of goalscorers so the defences are going to have to be at their best to ensure the opposition doesn’t get on top. In all likelihood the team which makes the fewest mistakes in defence is going to be the one which collects the trophy at the end of the night.”
Floreat may have home advantage but will have their work cut out adding a fifth Night Series trophy to the cabinet. Michael Roki will hand responsibility of nullifying a dangerous Perth attack to one-time national league player Ante Kovacevic and rising star John Migas. Going in the other direction it’s an engine room composed of Paul Vatistas, Garin Collins and Rafael Insurralde that will provide the ammunition for 2004 Golden Boot winner David Foster, who relocated to Litis Stadium during the off-season
Kovacevic expects the opening exchanges to be tight and fiercely contested. “It’s a grand final so I’m sure both teams will try to keep it tight all over the park and not want to concede early, but maybe an early goal is what’s needed to ignite things,” said Kovacevic. “The fans are in for a treat as there’ll be some good quality football on display, both teams have scored a lot of goals in the Night Series and the battle for control of midfield should be ensure a classic.”
CANNING FAVOURED OVER BALCATTA IN FIRST DIVISION FINAL
Canning City and Balcatta battle it out in the final of the First Division Night Series from 6.00pm on Saturday at Litis Stadium. Canning have been installed to lift the trophy after storming through the group stage before hitting Forrestfield United 5-2 in the semi-finals. Having finished second to Canning in the qualifying phase, Balcatta edged past Group A winner Bayswater City courtesy of an Andy O'Neill goal in the round of four. The game is followed by the Premier League final between Floreat Athena and Perth S.C. at 8.30pm. Admission is $7 adults, $4 concessions and under 16’s are admitted free.
For Canning coach Frank Longstaff, winning the Night Series would be the perfect way for Canning to complete preparations for the regular season. "While we go out to win every game we play and it would be nice to get our hands on a trophy at this early stage of the year, we have to remember the Night Series is only a build-up to the real thing - the League," said Longstaff. English import Duaane Hepburn has been in red-hot in attack and poses a real and significant danger for Balcatta along with ball-winning midfielder Garth Lecky and defensive pair Paul Van Dongen and Duncan Hind.
Success on Saturday will go a long way towards re-energising Balcatta still reeling from a flat 2007. "It would give the club confidence going into the new season and help us with the goals that we've set for this year," said new coach Salv Todaro. "It'd also be a step forward in achieving the club's ambition of being seen as a serious contender for promotion in years to come." Adrian Caloiero and Julian Piromalli will be key figures in their quest for goals while the central defensive partnership of Carlo Di Toro and Adam Purcell are sure to be kept busy by a free-scoring Canning forward line.
SHIELD TO BE DECIDED IN MID-WEEK
Litis Stadium is the pace to be on Wednesday evening when Floreat Athena lock horns with Stirling Lions in the Football West Shield from 7.30pm. It's a great opportunity for the football family to catch two of the Premier League top dogs in action. "It promises to be a fantastic spectacle, with free entry, pre-game festivities kicking off at 6.30pm, and a parade of our 2007 champions at half-time," said Football West chief executive Garry Chandler. "I would encourage all members of the footballing community to get down to Litis Stadium to celebrate our great game."
Floreat's dominance of last years' home and away series saw them complete the season without defeat and returned the Premier League trophy to Litis Stadium for the first time in a decade. Ante Kovacevic, John Migas, Adam Bachillor, Branimir Mikulic and Garin Collins form the backbone of that championship winning side which has been kept largely intact. Coach Michael Roki has enhanced his already talented player group by recruiting utility Dean Apelgren and ever-dangerous striker David Foster.
Stirling collected their second succesive Cup by out-shooting Cockburn City 4-3 on penalties in last year's drama-filled final at Litis Stadium. Phil Straker was the hero on that occasion and a similar big effort from the Goalkeeper of the Year and defenders Darko Ilmanoski and Steven Hesketh is expected next week. Stirling have a bundled of options going into the final third of the park which includes Marc Anthony, Jordan Rhodes, Ludovic Boi and Phil Arnold. Stirling captured the inaugural Football West Shield last year by toppling Sorrento 2-0.
‘THIS IS FOOTBALL’ ONLY IN THE ‘SUNDAY TIMES’
Don't miss 'This is Football', Football West's guide to the State League season, in this weekends 'Sunday Times'. The 24-page lift-out features everything you need to know about the upcoming season, and looks back on the 2007 State League highlights including goal, match and player of the season. The comprehensive lift-out identifies five key players to watch in the Premier League and features an exclusive column from coach Michael Roki of champions Floreat Athena. In a review of the women's game, 'This is Football' relives the contributions of Collette McCallum and Lisa De Vanna at the 2007 World Cup. Covering all the main events on the 2008 football calendar - from key State League and Cup fixtures to coaching clinics and junior and youth tournaments - make sure you don't forget to grab your copy of 'This is Football', only in the 'Sunday Times'.
NEW SEASON PRESENTS EVANS WITH FRESH CHALLENGE
Stirling Lions defender Dean Evans is looking forward to his first full season of senior football. Evans has come on in leaps and bounds since making his making his senior debut at the age of 17 and with a solid pre-season under his belt the talented young defender is now focusing on cementing his place in the Stirling line-up. "My main goal for this year is to be apart of the starting eleven each week, and to play consistent football throughout the season," explained Evans, who last year represented the State at youth level.
Coach Mike Lyons has utilised Evans in a variety of positions since he joined Stirling's senior list. As long as he's playing, be it in midfield or defence, the versatile youngster is happy. "To be quite honest, I'm not too fussed where the coach plays me but, if pushed, I'd prefer to play the holding role in midfield," he said. "I get on the ball more in midfield and I have a responsibility to keep the team together. I've played right back quite a bit through the Night Series and played once at centre back, which I also enjoyed."
The knowledge and experience of coaches Mike Lyons and Paul 'Geordie' Simmons has been invalubale to Evans as well as the numerous other teenagers who've progressed to the Stirling first team. "It's been great under Mickey and Geordie as they both strive to get the best out of all of us," Evans explained. "One of the great things about Stirling is that the players all share a close bond, both on and off the field. We hard work for each other on match day and I think that's helped us achieve what we have over the past few years."
Evans trialled at the Australian Institute of Sport over the summer and although he didn't land a scholarship the teenager was grateful for opportunity. "It was definitely a great experience to trial at the AIS, the facilities and the training that you encounter is what you dream of," he said. "I didn't make it but they mentioned they'll be monitoring my progress throughout the year. I also got to see the WA boys that are living there - Howard Fondyke and Mark Birighitti - they showed me around and are enjoying their time in Canberra."
With the new home and away season just around the corner Evans is tipping Stirling for a place near the top of the table. "With the quality we have in our squad I think we can mount a serious title challenge this year," he said. "We have a good mix with the experienced players blending well with the younger lads. One of our biggest strengths is our team unity, both on and off, all the players possess a never say die attitude and we always work hard until the final whistle. Everyone is raring to go and we're aiming for a top three placing come seasons' end."
SCHWARZER HEROICS SAVES SOCCEROOS
Mark Schwarzer saved a late penalty to maintain Australia's unbeaten start to their World Cup qualifying campaign with a 0-0 draw against China. Showing nerves of steel, Schwarzer dived left but thrust out his legs to block Shao Jiayi's 89th minute spot kick to ensure the Socceroos gained a vital away point at Tuodong Stadium. After two qualifying games are Australia top of Group A with four points followed by Qatar (3 points), China (2 points) and Asian Cup holder Iraq (1 point).
Only a handful of chances were created in a defensive first half. Mark Bresciano had a perfect opportunity to give the Socceroos the lead after 25 minutes blasted straight at the goalkeeper from close-range following superb lead-up work from Brett Holman. Australia's only other opening came just before the break when defender Zong Lei was on hand to deny Holman. The only time Schwarzer was stretched was at a Sun Xiang free-kick that the Socceroo punched clear.
The signs were much better for the hosts in the second half which opened with Zheng Zhu heading straight at Schwarzer. Playing with greater purpose, China continually pushed forward only to be repelled time and time again by a resolute Australian defence. Schwarzer went from villain to hero in quick succession after bringing down Qu Bo inside the area, then saving Jiayi's penalty. The Socceroos nearly stole victory minutes later when Mark Bresciano low centre into the 6-yard box evaded David Carney as Sun Xiang rushed in to clear.
SWEDISH MOVE FOR DE VANNA
FIFA All-Star Lisa De Vanna departed for Europe on the weekend to take up a professional contract with Swedish club AIK. One of the stars of Australia’s historic World Cup campaign last year, De Vanna was offered a season-long deal with AIK after scoring all four goals in their recent 4-0 friendly win over Finnish team HJK Helsinki. “I’m hoping that going to Sweden will make more of a professional, all-rounded player,” said the 23-year old, who has played 48 times for Australia. “I want to be playing against the best players and the best teams and what really got me excited about going to Sweden is that they can offer those things.” De Vanna will be joined at AIK by Matilda’s team mate Katie Gill.
PERICH SPREADS HIS WINGS
The pre-season form of 20-year old David Perich was a true highlight in an otherwise disappointing Night Series campaign by Swan I.C. The black and whites made an early exit from the tournament, winning just once in five games, but anyone who saw Perich in action against Perth S.C. and Stirling Lions could not fail to be impressed by the ball-winning midfielder’s skill and tenacity. “I was happy the way I finished the Night Series, I think how I was played in those last two games in particular was an extension of the my form of late last year. It’s also the first time I’ve not lost my fitness during the off-season and that made the pre-season not so much of a necessity, but more of matter of conditioning.”
New Swan coach Paul Lincoln could not be happier with Perich’s contributions and work-rate throughout the pre-season and is hopeful the midfielder can carry it on into the home and away series. “David was a stand-out for us in the Night Series, and he looks set to have a big season. He worked hard over the pre-season and his hard work is being rewarded,” said Lincoln. “David forms part of our leadership group and it’s a credit to him that at his age he’s adapted so well to this new role. David is a very important player for the club and we haven’t seen the best of him yet.”
The summer appointment of Lincoln has revitalised the club from the Swan Valley and has Perich excited about the year ahead. “Linc’s has been really good, he hasn’t been afraid to try new things when game plans haven’t worked he’s given some of our young players a lot of time on the pitch,” explained Perich. “It is promising - John Mansaray, Dejan Djukanovic and Michael Tronchin as well as the new lad Alex Cocking all performed well in the Night Series. It all looks good for the coming season, any added depth is always a positive and when it comes from up and coming players it’s not only for this season but obviously for years to come.”
In addition to the numerous youngsters making their mark at the club, Swan have an abundance of experience on offer in the form of State representatives Aaron Cole, Corey Hugo and Tom Shepheard along veterans Damian Scali and Dom Ando. That blending of youth and experience makes Perich confident Swan can cause their fair share of upsets in 2008. “I believe our best eleven can challenge any team in the competition and we have shown in the past that when we step up we can challenge the likes of Perth, Floreat Athena and the other ‘top’ teams,” he commented. “The problem is we always struggle with injuries and suspensions, so perhaps with a little luck the top four could happen - I would say that is our goal as a club for the next few seasons.”
GOSNELLS PROVIDE WOODWARD OPPORTUNITY
Luke Woodward is hoping to use a season at Gosnells City as a springboard to a career in Europe. The young defender spent time at Accrington Stanley a couple of years back and has his heart set on heading back to England next season, but first he wants to let his feet do the talking on the pitch with his new club. “They’re a great bunch of lads down at Gosnells and I thought we played some good football in the Night Series,” he said. “I hope we can continue that style of play into the regular season and that I can contribute along the way.”
Told first team opportunities would be limited at Cockburn City this year, Woodward decided during the summer months that the time was right for him to seek greener pastures. “I’d been at Cockburn for five years and I have some good friends at the club so it was hard to leave,” explained Woodward, recipient of Cockburn’s reserves team Fairest and Best in 2006. “But I was told I wouldn’t be getting a regular first team spot this season and decided it was time to move on and get some first team football under my belt.”
Gosnells coach Tony Campbell could not be happier about having Woodward on board for 2008. “Luke is looking for some first team experience and we’re delighted to have him,” commented Campbell, who also joined Gosnells over the off-season. “He was a bit nervous early in his first games but I was really impressed by his efforts as the Night Series progressed and his confidence lifted … I hope that he continues the form he showed in the pre-season through the rest of this year.”
NEW JOB FOR GLORY OLD BOY
Perth Glory have turned to a blast from the past to help shape a bright A-League future after three years of failure. Former Glory striker Alistair Edwards has joined the club’s board and will also act as a conduit between the directors and coach David Mitchell. The pair played together for English club Millwall during the 1994/95 season in which the Lions knocked out both Arsenal and Chelsea on their way to the fifth round of the F.A. Cup.
Edwards, who wore Glory colours on 93 occasions between 1999 and 2002, will assist in setting up the clubs under-21 team which will compete in the inaugural national youth league next season, and is also looking for a permanent training base. “Alistair is essentially there to offer football advice but he is also doing some work in helping us set up a structure for our youth league team,” said Glory’s chief executive Scott Gooch.
Mitchell, who’ll retain control over player recruitment, said Edwards shared his vision for Glory. “He knows the game, he played for Glory and he’s got passion for the club,” said the coach ahead of a scouting mission that is expected to take him to Malaysia, England, Germany and the Netherlands. “He’s got the same vision as me and that’s to get the club at the right end of the table and to get the fans back.”
Edwards believes Glory can again be the shining light of Australian football, as the club was before the launch of the A-League in 2005. “A lot of people in this State - and I’m one of them - think this club can be great again,” Edwards said. “This is an extremely important year. We’ve got to ensure the long-term viability of the club as well as winning game on a week to week basis. We’ve got to have the stucture and pathways in place.”
LIFE IN THE GARDEN SUITS THORNLEY
The chance to coach at the state's most successful club was simply an offer John Thornley could not refuse. The summer appointment of John Coyne as assistant to Graham Normanton at Perth S.C. opened the door for Thornley to step in to the role of reserve team coach at Dorrien Gardens. Thornley, who played for Kelmscott Roos, Fremantle Benfica and North Perth Croatia, is looking forward to advancing the development of the next generation of Perth players. "To be a part of this club is probably the best job you could get in the under-23's in Perth," he said. "They're a very professional club and it's great opportunity for me to bring on a young squad this season."
There's a strong emphasis on youth at Dorrien Gardens this year and Thornley is well aware of the importance of his role with Perth. "The club has promoted several of last years under-18's to the reserves and if those players are willing to learn then in time they'll become part of the first team squad," said Thornley. "My position is to look after the under-23's and to prepare players for the step-up to first team football. We all know that step is huge but I believe we have a number of players who can make that step sooner rather than later."
A recent defeat of Western Knights' under-23 team is a good indication that things are on track for the start of the regular season for the Perth youngsters. "We played some good patches of football against the Knights," explained Thornley. "We're playing the ball around with confidence, and our fitness is looking good as we had plenty left in the tank at the end of the game. There's still room for improvement in our overall game which is what I'll be aiming for by the start of the season."
DADI BOUND FOR GLORY
Perth Glory has added the attacking flair of experienced Ivory Coast striker Eugene Dadi to its squad for the fourth A-League season. Dadi was invited to participate in Glory’s recent three match tour of China and impressed Coach Dave Mitchell with his football nous and predatory instinct in front of goal. “He showed that he was very capable up front and will be a player that can score goals and just as importantly bring others into the game to increase our attacking options this season,” Mitchell said.
34-year old Dadi enjoyed a long and successful career in Europe that he began as a teenager at French club Sochaux. Stints with Stade Lavallois, F.C. Sete, LASK Linz and Toulouse preceded a move to Scotland where he spent single seasons with Aberdeen and Livingston. In 2002 he headed to Tranmere Rovers where he played 86 games across two seasons before spells at Nottingham Forest and Notts County. Glory’s attempt to sign Dadi late last year was thwarted when his former club, Hapoel Acre, failed to release him during the transfer window.
Mitchell is delighted to have acquired a player of Dadi’s skill and experience for Glory. “I have great confidence that he will be a significant contributor to our squad,” Mitchell said. “We showed at times last season that we could score quality goals but to take the team forward we need to have other avenues to goal and I believe Eugene will give us that. He’s a solid professional footballer who has a strong desire to perform well in the A-League and that’s the sort of player I want in the squad.”
SOCCEROOS HELD SCORELESS BY SINGAPORE
Australia has come away from their friendly international against Singapore with a 0-0 draw at a very damp and humid National Stadium in Singapore. Both sides showed plenty of enterprise but neither was able to conjure a winning goal on a pitch saturated by a thunderstorm two hours before kick-off. Mile Jedinak and James Troisi had first half shots saved by goalkeeper Lionel Lewis, who was beaten by Mark Bridge only for his shot to hit the top of the crossbar. Australian ‘keeper Ante Covic was called into action just once before the break, saving a dipping header from Singapore captain Indra Sahdan.
The second half was a disjointed affair as both teams made a rash of changes in an attempt to cope with the energy sapping conditions. Substitute Bruce Djite muscled his way past two opponents to go inside the 18-yard box on the hour before unleashing a low shot which was kept out by the ‘keeper’s legs. Ten minutes later Lewis acrobatically saved a rising drive from 30-metres by Nikolai Topor-Stanley. Singapore had the chance to win it late on when Juma’at Jantan broke through the defence but Covic did well to save his low effort. Perth Glory’s Tando Velaphi and Nikita Rukavytsya were unused substitutes while team mate Topor-Stanley played the full 90 minutes.
NIGHT SERIES, SEMI-FINALS
Floreat Athena qualified for next weekend’s Night Series decider by defeating an injury depleted Stirling Lions 4-2 in a pulsating contest at Dorrien Gardens. It took just 8 minutes for Floreat to open their account as Adam Bachiller and Garin Collins opened up the defence with the latter playing a diagonal ball into the 18-yard box that Branimir Mikulic neatly tucked into the net. Ten minutes later Ante Kovacevic’s long ball caught Stirling napping at the back and Collins raced clear to expertly lob an advancing Phil Straker. Floreat increased the tempo and would have added a third if not for the desperation of Dean Evans who deflected David Foster’s shot against the crossbar. It didn’t take long for Stirling to storm their way back into the game as Alan Muir slid the ball to Boi whose inch-perfect pass to Arnold was slotted under goalkeeper Vas Vujacic. The sides were then brought level courtesy of the silky skills of Arnold and Boi that allowed Matthew Italiano to net from inside the 6-yard box. An error by Straker then handed Floreat back the lead when he failed to take Adam Bachillor’s in-swinging corner and the ball rebounded into the net off defender Rick Filicamo. The sides went shot for shot right up to the break with Rafael Insurralde firing high and Leo Harman forcing a superb diving save from Vujacic.
Stirling’s search for a third goal started as soon as the second half began but Arnold couldn’t get a clean strike of the ball after being teed-up by Boi. Miki Vujacic then squandered a great chance to strengthen Floreat’s hold on the game by blazing over the bar from 10-metres after being set up by Insurralde. An enthralling midfield tussle ensued as John Migas and Paul Vatistas battled it out with Muir and Jordan Rhodes but with neither partnership able to wrestle control genuine opportunities became something of a rarity. With fifteen minutes remaining Stirling mounted one final push which began when substitute Dannie Richman’s centring pass from the right found Muir whose rasping drive from 25-metres flew over the bar. Arnold found a way past Ante Kovacevic but rather than taking the shot he attempted to go around Adrian Madaschi and the chance was lost. Richman was the beneficiary of a fine exchange between Boi and Albert Osei-Tutu but his goal bound shot was kept out by the diving ‘keeper. Time was by this stage getting away from a young Stirling line-up who’d given their all against a more experienced opponent. Floreat secured victory in stoppage time when Miki Vujacic clipped a free-kick into the area which fell kindly for Mikulic whose close-range shot deflected into the roof of the net off Jordan Reid
Perth S.C. remain on course to win a third successive Night Series title after inflicting a 5-3 defeat of Sorrento in front of a big crowd at Dorrien Gardens. Andreas Oliveira was the hero of the hour with another three goals to take his pre-season tally to nine goals in six games for Graham Normanton’s team. A lively start was punctuated on 11 minutes when Sorrento gifted possession to Oliveira who made his way into the 18-yard box by skipping past Steve McDonald before lashing a low shot into the bottom corner. Two minutes later Andrija Jukic worked his way into position to unleash a powerful low shot which required Neil Young to move sharply to prevent the margin from increasing. With this Sorrento finally kicked into gear and some terrific free-flowing football ensured in both directions. Perth had a strong claim for a penalty on the half hour when Oliveira latched on to a pass lofted over the defence only to be halted by Stuart Banks’ no-nonsense challenge but referee Mathew Cheeseman waved play to continue, much to the disbelieve of the home supporters. Eight minutes later the sides were brought level as Scott Bulloch clipped the ball into the danger zone where Steve McDonald powerfully headed past ‘keeper Gareth Deeg.
The second half been under way just a couple of minutes when Glen Thomas’ pass was intercepted by Todd Howarth who streamed into attack straight down the centre and once inside the area rifled off a low shot that gave Young no chance. Stuart Montgomery had been off the bench only minutes when he placed high of the crossbar when under pressure from Matt Danskin. A string of quick passes sliced Perth open and ended with Thomas slotting in the equaliser with 70 minutes played. However, Sorrento’s joy was short-lived as immediately after the re-start Howarth delivered a simple pass to an unmarked Oliveira who angled his shot past Young to restored Perth’s lead. Oliveira completed his hat-trick in the 86th minute by beating the off-side trap and racing through unchallenged to fired past a badly exposed ‘keeper. Not to be outdone, Sorrento hit back inside a minute as Montgomery slipped the ball through to Bulloch who moved forward before sending his shot past Gareth Deeg. Callum O’Connell and Scott Neville fired over Deeg’s bar as the Gulls sought to send the game into extra-time. But by pushing forward in increasing numbers Sorrento were left exposed at the back and a swift counter attack ended with David Onoforo angling the ball into the net after neat lead-up from Oliviera and Antonio Naglieri.
FIRST DIVISION NIGHT SERIES, SEMI-FINALS
Balcatta progressed to the final of the First Division Night Series by downing traditional rival Bayswater City 1-0 in warm conditions at Dorrien Gardens on Thursday evening. The games only goal arrived via former Bayswater player Andy O’Neill midway through the first half. Balcatta started with a bang and should have gone ahead on 3 minutes when Adrian Caloiero placed wide with only goalkeeper Gianni Papalia to beat. Ten minutes later Caloiero again raced clear of the defence but having lured the ‘keeper off his line clipped the shot well wide of the target. Next to threaten was Julian Piromalli who received the ball on the edge of the 18-yard box but pulled his shot wide. Balcatta were rewarded for their positive attitude in the 24th minute when O’Neill arrowed a sizzling right foot drive beyond the reach of Papalia. Bayswater came to life after the break and should have been level when Daniel Cagorski got on the end of Morgan Dendle’s delivery but headed wide from close-range. The same fate befell Adrian Sutton when he met Frank Madafferi’s cross, then Sal Marrapodi shot disappointing wide after unlocking the offside trap. With Bayswater committing players forward, opportunities began appearing for Balcatta to wrap up the game. A tight offside call halted Caloiero in his tracks, O’Neill’s rasping strike flashed just the wrong side of the upright, and substitute David Moschilla sent a free header high of the crossbar.
Canning City needed extra-time before overpowering Forrestfield United 5-2 in Thursday’s late semi-final at Dorrien Gardens. The game was 7 minutes old when Michael Van Dongen’s corner was met at the far post by Garth Lecky who headed powerfully into the net to put Canning in front. A youthful Forrestfield line-up waited fourteen minutes before hitting back as Trent Wood played down the right to Rhys Loxley whose low cross eluded everyone except Jordan Hart who slid the ball in from an acute angle. In the 34th minute Canning regained control when Duaane Hepburn converted from the penalty spot after going down under the challenge of goalkeeper Brad Eiffe, who was subsequently red carded. It was ten against ten a few minutes later with Kyle Mitsopoulus issued his marching orders for a second yellow card. John Hunter brought Forrestfield level son after the interval by converting a penalty after he was fouled by Michael Van Dongen. Play streamed from end to end for the remainder of the half but with neither teams able to break through the referee signalled extra-time would be required. In the 102nd minute Daniel Trevisol threaded a pass to Hepburn who pulled the ball back for Quenten Sharp to net from 6-metres. After that Canning ran away with the game as Hepburn’s fine long-range effort found the net on 107 minutes, and not long after Paul Van Dongen completed the scoring by lobbing ‘keeper Jason O’Byrne from 25-metres.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
Four will become two on Saturday when the Night Series semi-finals play out at Dorrien Gardens. The early game matches reigning League champions Floreat Athena against Cup holders Stirling Lions (6.00pm) in what promises to be a cracking encounter. Michael Roki’s side averaged three goals a game to end the group phase without loss and on top of Group A. They have potential match-winners in every position and in David Foster, Garin Collins and Rafeal Insurralde have arguably the local scenes most lethal strike forces. Stirling may have snuck into the last four but they are determined to end the tournament with the trophy in their possession. Jordan Rhodes and Ludovic Boi provide a lot of the forward momentum with captain Kevin Henderson and goalkeeper Phil Straker anchoring the side at the opposite end of the park.
The late game pits perennial powerhouse Perth S.C. against a revitalised Sorrento (8.00pm). Graham Normanton’s team came through Group B undefeated and are the popular choice to lift their third Night Series trophy in as many years. Goals flowed freely for the Blues in the qualifiers, hitting the net seventeen times in five games with Andreas Oliveira in superb touch and benefiting from the midfield creativity of Antonio Naglieri, David Price and Andrjia Jukic. Sorrento have already indicated they will be the big improver of 2008 and coach Steve Neville will have his troops focused only on victory this weekend. Glen Thomas, Scott Neville and Lewis Flatt provide the attacking impetus while the mid-week arrival of Stuart Montgomery is sure to cause the Perth defence more than a few headaches. Admission is $7 adults, $4 concessions and under 16’s are admitted free.
GRIFFITHS PUTS IN THE MILES
Rostyn Griffiths cannot be accused of failing to go the distance as he commutes between Premiership riches and the brink of financial ruin. The Blackburn Rovers defender is currently on loan to Scottish club in crisis Gretna, a team teetering on the brink of closure due to a cash crisis. Griffiths, 20, is commuting to Gretna from Lancashire as his Scottish club can no longer afford to pay his rent. "I train for the majority of the week at Blackburn and then head back up to Gretna for the games so I am getting the best of both worlds really," Griffiths told 'the Scotsman' newspaper.
Griffiths believes he is prepared to take on the likes of Scott McDonald and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink when Gretna play Glasgow Celtic this weekend. "I tend to train with the reserves at Blackburn but there are times when I do train with the first team. It's good experience for me because I go up against the likes of Benni McCarthy, Roque Santa Cruz and big Jason Roberts - they are all big, physical players and are all good on the ball too. I know Celtic are a good attacking force too. I don't know loads about them but they are good going forward."
WALES CALL ON WILLIAMS
Rhys Williams has been included in Wales’ squad for next week’s UEFA Under-21 Championship qualifier against Bosnia-Herzegovina. The 19-year old defender is amongst 18-players selected by Brian Flynn to make the trip to Sarajevo. Williams played locally with E.C.U. Joondalup prior to taking up three-year deal with English club Middlesbrough in mid-2005. A regular for Boro’s reserves, Williams has played five games for Wales’ Under-21 team whom he qualifies for through a Welsh grandfather.
SORRENTO LAND MONTGOMERY, BULLOCH
Sorrento will unveil new signings Stuart Montgomery and Scott Bulloch when they meet Perth S.C. in Saturdays Night Series semi-final clash at Dorrien Gardens. The attack-minded duo, both State representatives, leave E.C.U. Joondalup to add depth and experience to a young Gulls' line-up. Montgomery, a guaranteed goalscorer, will wear the Gulls' No.10 shirt which has remained in cotton balls since the departure of Simon Harland at the end of 2006. Bulloch is widely regarded as one of the local games best left-sided players and has been handed the No.6 shirt for the coming season.
BRAZIL STEPS INTO THE BREACH
There’s light at the end of the tunnel for Queens Park with Mike Brazil stepping in the senior coaching role at short notice. Brazil has been recruited to steady the ship following the sudden departure of Queens Park’s entire coaching staff and much of the senior playing list. “I’m here to help them with a little bit of direction,” stated Brazil, who stressed he’s with the club on a caretaker capacity. “I have been asked by Queens Park to take the reigns and I will sit down with them in due course and see where we are all heading.”
Brazil made his way back to Coker Park a fortnight ago and, although his squad is still threadbare, has made it his number one priority to bring stability to the club and mould Queens Park into a competitive unit for the coming winter. “We have brought in some players since the drama of last week and more will follow this week,” he explained. “I’ve got to be honest - when I arrived to take my first training session I really did not know what lay ahead, especially with what had happened. But from the 25 or so players that remained the training has been up-beat.”
Brazil is the first to admit there’s a lot of hard work to be done at Queens Park in the next few weeks. “If they can get a couple of really experienced players, who have a good manner about them and they can help the kids then Queens Park will come out of this okay,” said Brazil. “But with so many 16 and 17-year olds now making up the first team squad it is going to take the best part of the regular season for them to adjust and compete week in week out. They are a great bunch of youngster who really want to do well for themselves and club.”
Over the years Brazil has made a significant contribution to the local game as coach of various State junior and youth teams. He takes great delight in seeing so many young players who’ve come up through the State system now making their mark at a higher level. “I’m not involved any more in State football but it was a great thrill for me,” he said. “I think I can speak for all the junior State coaches from my time - Paul Wozny, Steve Duckworth, Andy Ross, Glen Leckenby and Chris Barbas - when I say it’s pleasing to see so many of these kids now making the breakthrough. And if I’ve helped any of them along the way it was all worth while.”
SOCCEROO CALL-UP A BONUS FOR VELAPHI
Goalkeeper Tando Velaphi has come a long way since his days of kicking a ball around the local park with Nikita Rukavytsya. The now Perth Glory team mates have friends for years and the culmination of their regular sparring sessions has come in the shape of their inclusion in the Socceroos squad for this weekend’s friendly with Singapore. “We’ve practised together for many years,” Velaphi said. “I can remember even before we went to the Australian Institute of Sport together we used to go down to the park and he’d bash shots at me and I’d try to save them - we still do that now and again.”
The past year has passed in something of a blur for Velaphi who signed his first professional contract with Glory, helped Australian qualify for the Beijing Olympics, and is now on the cusp of making his senior international debut for Australia. “I have been happy with my progress but know there is a lot more I can learn and I’ll be definitely taking it one step at a time,” said Velaphi. “I think it’s every young footballers dream to represent your country at senior level and at the moment I’m really treating it as a learning experience. If I don’t get the chance to play this time it’ll still be a bonus for me to be around the best players the country has.”
QUEENS PARK ADDITIONAL POINTS
Queens Park picked up their second win of the First Division Night Series after being awarded all three points from last weekend’s meeting with Dianella White Eagles. The match itself ended with the sides level at 2-2, however, that result was overturned by Football West who awarded the game to Queens Park 3-0 on account of Dianella fielding ineligible players.
DI FULVIO SETTLES AT BAYSWATER
A place in the last four of the First Division Night Series has made for a dream start to Michael Di Fulvio’s senior coaching career. Di Fulvio stepped into the top job at Bayswater City during the off-season and could not be happier with the way things have gone during this first few months in charge. “It’s great to reach the next stage of the competition and hopefully it proves we’re heading in the right direction,” he said. “Everything is falling into place nicely. The board and supporters have been very welcoming and helped myself and (assistant) Jamie Goodman settle in. We have a pretty even squad with some good depth which hopefully helps us in improving on last season.”
Bayswater failed to live up to pre-season expectations last year and to make sure they improve on the seventh placing gained Di Fulvio has brought in a number of players with top flight experience. Amongst the new faces at Frank Drago Reserve are defenders Tony Cumace and Morgan Dendle, former State midfielder Scott Campbell and proven goalscorer Damien Todorovic. “We targeted a few players and luckily we were able to sign most of them,” explained the coach. “We’ve signed players with Premier League experience and they along with a few others are performing really well in the Night Series, which all bodes well for the season ahead.”
The regular season is only a matter of weeks from starting and Di Fulvio feels this years First Division will be very competitive. “From what I’ve seen it seems any team on their day can take points from any opposition,” he said. “From our Night Series group I really liked the way Forrestfield United played especially with a team so young, whilst Morley Windmills and South West Phoenix showed they have the ability to be pushing for top honours. It’s been difficult to see teams from the other group, and I’ve only really seen Balcatta, Canning City and Wanneroo City briefly but they all look like teams who will be pushing for promotion in 2008.”
A-LEAGUE CONTRACT WITHIN REACH FOR LEE
2005 Gold Medal winner Mark Lee is hoping a series of eye-catching performances for Perth Glory can lead to a permanent move into A-League football. The hard-working midfielder was happy with his contribution on Glory whirlwind, three-game tour of China and early indications are he could soon be saying farewell to the State League. “The club have spoken to me about a contract, but it will be subject to me gaining Citizenship, and hopefully this will be granted shortly,” said the 28-year old. “I’ve always said I’d like to play professional football and if the opportunity is there I’d take it with both hands again.”
Although the results weren’t in Glory’s favour - they lost to Super League teams Changchun Yatai, Changsha Ginde and Guangzhou - Lee says he thoroughly enjoyed the tour and the experience. “The sides we played were excellent so we spent a great deal of time defending in the first two games,” he said. “This meant that I couldn’t get forward as much as I like to but all in all I really enjoyed the games. The highlight for me was the superb stadiums we played in and the warm welcome we received from the Chinese people.”
Lee was particularly impressed by the high standard of football played by the three Chinese teams, whom he rates as being a cut above those in Australia’s domestic competition. “All three teams were better than any A-League team I’ve played against,” Lee commented. “Technically they were all very good on the ball and one of their main strengths was how they created overloads in wide areas, and their range of passing allowed them to do this. Tactically they played a very offensive style of football and in the final third they were very creative.”
WARD READY TO LEAVE HIS MARK
Nick Ward has issued a firm word of warning to Melbourne Victory’s rivals in the Asian Champions League -“My best is yet to come.” By his own admission, Ward was barely half fit when he signed with Victory last December to end an unhappy spell at English club Queens Park Rangers. But that didn’t stop him from turning in some eye-catching performances during the tail end of the 2007/08 A-League season.
Ward has used the off-season to get over niggling injuries and build his fitness under an intensive program with former Australian Olympic sprinter, Adam Basil. “I am getting stronger week by week,” he said. “The fitness program I have been put through, I feel in way better form than I have for a long time. When I was first in England, I was pretty good, but then I got injuries and was in and out of the team. Since I have been back here Adam Basil has worked on me a lot. Now I am excited about playing and feeling good. There’s nothing better than playing regular football.”
Recovered from injury and at full fitness, Ward believes he is ready to reproduce the sort of form which won him a Socceroos call-up for their first Asian Cup qualifier against Bahrain two year ago. “I am definitely full of confidence now, my body is coming right,” Ward said ahead of his teams’ Asian Champions League clash with FC Chonburi. “My groin was terrible in the closing stages of the A-League, I was pretty much playing on painkillers, but now I have had a good six weeks off and I have only really been back in training for a week-and-a-half, so there’s definitely a lot more to come from me.”
GOSNELLS IN SAFE HANDS
There was a changing of the guard at Gosnells City during the summer with Tony Campbell appointed to lead the club into the new season. Campbell’s first month in charge has been full of challenges as Gosnells stumbled to a two losses and a draw before ending the First Division Night Series with wins against trophy holders Ashfield and South West Phoenix. “It was good to get a few wins under my beat as a new coach,” said Campbell. “We didn’t play as well against Ashfield as we had done in other Night Series games but in terms of our forward movement it was a much improved performance, and the win over Phoenix continued that.”
Campbell, who took over the reins from Alex Grindley, has brought a number of new faces to the squad in hope of moving Gosnells up the First Division table. “Paul Harvey played in Scotland’s junior leagues and his done a good job in attack for us so far,” said Campbell. “Adam Bremner is back with the club, we’ve recruited Luke Woodward from Cockburn City and there a number of young lads that have come up through the reserves who’ve impressed. We’re hoping to lure Brian Robertson into making a comeback - if he gets fit he will be an excellent signing as he knows were the back of the net is.”
Club president Tony Pritchard is delighted to have Campbell on board for the new season. “Gosnells City have every confidence in Tony Campbell’s abilities and drive to take our semi-pro squad to the next level,” commented Pritchard. “His knowledge of the game and his skill in relaying that knowledge to the players is already evident. It is an exciting period for the club as we push to be a greater presence in the State League.” Joining Campbell on staff at Gosnells are under-23s coach David Anderson along with James Ellis and Lee Claxton who are in charge of the youth side.
JOEYS CLAIM THIRD AT LIONS CITY CUP
The Australian Under-17 team has taken out third place in the eight-nation Lion City Cup tournament in Singapore. The Joeys completed their campaign with a 3-1 victory over Uzbekistan in Saturday’s plate Final at Jalan Besar Stadium. Nikola Stanojevic had opened the scoring in just the 5th minute only for Shoymanov Shahzod to cancel that out with a spectacular equaliser after 16 minutes. West Australian defender Trent Sainsbury put Australian back in front with six minutes remaining, and in stoppage time Brendan Hammil converted at the second attempt after the goalkeeper blocked his initial penalty kick.
The Joeys dished out a footballing lesson to Chinese Taipei in their opening game which ended in an emphatic 8-0 victory. A goal six minutes from full-time earned the United Arab Emirates a 1-0 win in a tight contest a few days later. Australia took the points in their final group game against Singapore B 1-0 courtesy of a goal on the hour by Kamal Ibrahim. Thailand won the tournament by out-shooting the United Arab Emirates on penalties in the final with the match finishing 1-1.
The Australian Under-17 squad which took part in the 2008 Lion City Cup was Chris Bush (Australian Capital Terriroty), Brendan Hamill, Robert Kolak, Jared Lum, Mitchell Mallia, Nikola Stanojevic, Marc Warren (New South Wales), Nick Tubbs (Queensland), Nathan Farrell, Joel Miller, Chahine Noujaim (South Australia), Petar Franjic, Kamal Ibrahim, James Jeggo, Tedros Yabio (Victoria), Eli Babalj, Million Butshiire, Cameron Edwards and Trent Sainsbury (Western Australia).
NIGHT SERIES, WEEKEND FIVE (Fremantle Spirit v Sorrento by Kerry Slater)
Teenage striker Anthony Skorich scored twice to guide Western Knights to a hard-earned 3-1 victory over Inglewood United in Friday's opening game at Dorrien Gardens. With their teams out of semi-final contention, coaches Ronnie Campbell and Lee Bamber used the game to experiment a little for the season ahead and give some of the younger members of their squad a chance to impress. Skorich and Anthony Fearon threatened to break through on several occasions early as brothers David and Daniel Micevski made their presence known in the middle of the park. Inglewood eventually found their rhythm and started created chances of their own with Daniel Neiderberger, Mladen Kovacevic and Wes Ryder keeping the opposition defence on high alert. Lady luck was smiling on the Knights when, two minutes from half-time, Luke Italiano's attempted clearance struck a team mate and deflected back past the goalkeeper and into the net. Just another sixty seconds passed before the gap was increased courtesy of good work in the lead-up by Skorich and Ivan Gavranic that sent clear Fearon who held his nerve in a one-on-one with Italiano. Inglewood emerged for the second period with renewed focus and that intensity was taken up another notch following the injection of Bobby Despotovski just after the hour. However, the game was put beyond their reach in the 68th minute when Fearon sent the ball past Italiano after getting on the end of a fine cross from Rory Grant. With Despotovski, Neiderberger and Jason Colli driving them into attack at every opportunity, Inglewood refused to give up hope of somehow finding a way back into the game. Their persistence was rewarded eight minutes from the end when a well-crafted move was finished off by substitute Dennis McRoberts.
Perth S.C. extended their unbeaten run by coming from behind to defeat E.C.U. Joondalup 4-1 in the late match at Dorrien Gardens. With a semi-final appearance on offer for the winner, Perth quickly stamped their authority on the game with Greg Sharland, Matt Danskin and Antonio Naglieri leading the charge forward. Andreas Oliviera hit the post following a neat exchange down the right involving Danskin and Andrija Jukic, and defender Anthony Jones almost had the misfortune of sending the ball into his own net after getting on the end of a Sharland cross. Joondalup's only avenue forward was on the counterattack so it was against the run of play that they went ahead in the 31st minute through a Scott Bulloch corner which Scott Blackmore headed past Gareth Deeg. Perth had to wait until four minutes into the second half to open their account when Todd Howarth rose to head in a beautifully flighted corner from Naglieri. Two minutes later Sharland played the ball to the top of the 18-yard box from where Howarth crashed a low shot in off the far post to turn the game on its' head. Onoforo twice went close to getting on the scoresheet, initially with a header that Blackmore cleared off the line and later when he was unable to steer a low Howarth drive into the net. There was still plenty of fight left in Joondalup as Scott Bushby was played through only to be let down by poor control. The points were made safe with ten minutes remaining when Oliviera jinxed his way past a couple of opponents and drilled a low shot across Tommi Tomich from 16-metres. The sealer arrived shortly after by Oliviera wgho converted from the penalty spot after Sharland's run was halted illegally.
A workman-like Armadale held regular season champions Floreat Athena to a 1-1 draw on Saturday evening at Litis Stadium. Sloppy finishing seemed to be the order of the day with both sides squandering numerous chances in a scrappy, error-riddled game. It took until the 25th minute for the first opening to presented when a corner fell kindly for John Migas who rounded one opponent but found the angle to tight to beat Cyril Sharrock in the Armadale goal. The only other genuine chance of the period came just before half-time when David Foster slipped away from the defence but failed to make the most of the opportunity with only Sharrock to beat. With the words of coach Brad Hassell still ringing in their ears, the Reds began the second half encouraging with Jason Goodwin, Daryl Platten and Marlon Ramirez driving them forward time and time again. Goodwin looked to be through on goal after latching on to Ramirez' through ball only to be halted in his tracks by an offside flag. Floreat regained their composure to take the lead on 56 minutes when Raffael Insurralde seized upon a defensive lapse to lash the ball in from 25-metres. The margin was very nearly increased within minutes but Foster mis-timed his header from a Branimir Mikulic cross. Against the run of play Armadale surged forward through Goodwin whose speculative shot struck Julian Madaschi and deflected into the net past 'keeper Vas Vujacic. Floreat's attempt to reclaim the lead began with a Foster header which brought a superb save out of Sharrock. Adam Bachillor sliced his way past three opponents only to shoot narrowly wide, and Miki Vujacic's free-kick was palmed on to the crossbar by the 'keeper. With minutes to go Mikulic wasted a terrific opportunity to steal victory by scuffing his shot from 6-metres wide after a fine exchange between Migas and Bachillor.
Fremantle Spirit completed their Night Series campaign by toppling high-flying Sorrento 2-1 in the early game at Dorrien Gardens on Sunday. Simon Elton-Bott scored twice after the break as Fremantle over-turned a half-time deficit to register their second win of the tournament. The early signs were positive for Sorrento who went ahead with 7 minutes on the clock through a Stuart Banks free-kick which beat the defensive wall to find the top corner. It took until the 28th minute for Fremantle to threaten through a cross from the right that was met by Callum Roberts whose header was directed straight to Anthony Cochrane. Sorrento weren't fairing much better with their next opening arriving on 36 minutes when Callum O'Connell delivered a low cross to the near post where Jake Harman's shot was courageously blocked by young goalkeeper Dan McBride. The final play of the half saw Gio Tsiapeias' long-range attempt to level the game sail high of the crossbar. Parity was restored eleven minutes after the break by Simon Elton-Bott made his way deep into the penalty area before letting off fierce shot that Cochrane got a glove to but couldn't prevent from crossing the line. McBride ensured the game remained delicately poised by turning wide a Stephen Worthy shot, and from the corner that followed the Fremantle custodian pushed away Cameron Yorke's goalbound header. With 68 minutes gone Elton-Bott again worked his magic by curling a free-kick past Cochrane to put the port side ahead. A coat of paint was all the prevented O'Connell from equalising with his well-struck shot cannoning back off the post. The scrappy nature of the game made genuine goalscoring opportunities scare, although with two minutes to go Worthy got within range only to have McBride made the save. Fremantle were unlucky not to add a third to their tally with Roberts denied twice in quick succession by Cochrane in the closing moments.
Stirling Lions snuck through to the semi-finals despite being held to a scoreless draw by Swan I.C. in Sunday's late game. A share of the points was enough to leapfrog Stirling into second place on the final Group B table and extinguish E.C.U. Joondalup's dreams of landing the years' first trophy. Goalkeeper Phil Straker found himself involved early in pushing away a David Perich free-kick as Swan started positively. It didn't take long for Stirling to respond through Alan Muir whose long-range strike flashed just past the post. This had a stabilising effect on Stirling and Jordan Rhodes would have been disappointed to head straight at Cory Hugo from Ludovic Boi's delivery. The next to threaten was Boi himself who fired wide after latching on to Marc Anthony's clipped pass over the defence. Leading into the break Damian Scali unleashed a long-range missile that drifted off-target, then down the opposite end Steve Hesketh's shot from distance produced the same end result. Tom Shepheard and substitute John Mansaray headed wide as Swan began the new half with a bang, while going the other way Phil Arnold was sent clear of the defence only to have Hugo keep out his low shot. A golden opportunity presented to Swan when Alex Cocking was felled by Straker who redeemed himself by saving Dom Ando's spot kick. Cocking was in again on the hour but after cutting inside Darko Ilomanoski slammed his shot into the crossbar. A pulsating contest continued with Straker holding a fierce strike from Dejan Djukanovic, and Matt Italiano's shot was parried by Hugo who then thwarted Arnold at the follow-up. Stirling thought they'd found a winner when Boi sent in an inch-perfect cross to Rhodes who somehow fired wide at close-range. With the clock ticking down David Perich and Dannie Richman tried their luck but neither was able to find an avenue to goal.
Cockburn City inflicted a 2-0 loss on Mandurah City who ended the pre-season tournament without a point to their name. Giovanni DeBartolo put Cockburn ahead right on the stroke of half-time with Joseph Brunetto securing the points in the 61st minute of Saturday's late game at Litis Stadium. Further details of this game were not forthcoming from either of the participating clubs.
FIRST DIVISION NIGHT SERIES, WEEKEND FIVE (Gosnells City vs South West Phoenix courtesy Gosnells City)
Gosnells City picked up their second successive win of the First Division Night Series by out-shooting South West Phoenix 4-2 when they met Dorrien Gardens on Saturday. The early attacking came from Gosnells who deserved went ahead on the quarter hour when Steve Gillibrand turned the ball over in midfield and spirited possession quickly through to Paul Harvey who rounded debutant goalkeeper Jamie Oakey to slot into the empty net. This had a galvanising effect on Phoenix who drew level when Steve Suttie laid the ball off to Greg Hayes who finished sweetly from the top of the 18-yard box. Eight minutes later they had the lead when a David Murphy corner was poorly dealt with by the defence and fell straight to the feet of Suttie who made no mistake from 7-metres. The momentum shifted after the break and ten minutes in a great individual effort by Harvey put Gosnells level. Not long after a superb through ball from Adam Bremner allowed Harvey to complete his hat trick and turn the game on its head. Phoenix worked tirelessly to conjure an equaliser only to be caught out at the back in the 86th minute when Alan Claxton netted Gosnells’ fourth of the evening on the counterattack.
Balcatta progressed to the semi-finals by defeating Rockingham City 1-0 at Litis Stadium on Friday evening. Canning City finished the qualifying stage on top of Group A courtesy of a 3-2 win over Wanneroo City in the late fixture. Garth Lecky, Simon Versaico and Daniel Trevisiol found the net for Canning with Waneroo’s goals coming via Ben Yates and Brian Cairney. Forrestfield United secured their place in the last four by thumping Ashfield 5-0 at Dorrien Gardens on Saturday. Trent Wood, John Hunter, Ashley Otte, Jordan Hart and Matt Harold were the scorers. The points were shared in Sunday’s early game at Litis Stadium with Dianella White Eagles and Queens Park level on 2-2. A.Crofts and M.Terry netted in the final ten minutes for Dianella to cancel out earlier goals from D.Evans and R.Britton. The late fixture between Bayswater City and Morley Windmills also ended in a 2-2 draw. Further details of these games were not forthcoming from any of the ten participating clubs.
WYCOMBE SNAP UP HERD
Wycombe Wanderers have signed Aston Villa youngster Chris Herd on one-month loan. The 18-year old, who only days earlier completed a two-month stay with Port Vale, will strengthen the midfield options of manager Paul Lambert whose team has been hit hard by injury and suspension. “I spoke to Martin O’Neill’s assistant, John Robertson, and he gave Chris a big recommendation,” said Lambert. “Robbo was one of the best wingers this country has ever seen so, if he says the boy can do us a job, then I’m happy to listen. I’m very grateful to Martin for letting us have Chris for this crucial month.” Wycombe are placed sixth in League Two and positioned well to challenge for a play-off berth.
TARKA REMAINS WITH GLORY
One-time Socceroos defender David Tarka had to be convinced Perth Glory were capable of breaking a cycle of successive finals non-appearances before putting pen to paper on a new one-year contract with the club. The 25-year old, who is on the mend after rupturing a hamstring in the first game of last season, admitted he had considered offers from rival clubs because of his fierce desire to be involved in an A-league finals series.
But after talking with coach Dave Mitchell, Tarka is sure Glory are on the cusp making their first appearance in the A-League play-offs. “Every player wants to play in the finals and I needed convincing that we can get in the four - and I think we can,” Tarka told Jonathon Cook of the ‘West Australian’ newspaper. “With the feedback I’ve had from Dave Mitchell and people around the club, I’m convinced that we are heading in the right direction. It sounds like we are about to turn the corner.”
Tarka believes the best years of his career lay ahead and that staying in Perth will allow him to achieve his football goals. “I’m totally committed, as I’ve always been, to helping this club reinstate itself as a powerhouse in Australian football,” said Tarka, winner of the 2006/07 Most Glorious Player award. “There are challenges ahead both personally and for all of us as a group and I look forward to tackling them head-on and making sure we break into the top four and play finals football.”
Glory are also expected to sign former Aberdeen and Tranmere Rovers striker Eugene Dadi after he impressed on their recent visit to China. Callum Roberts (Fremantle Spirit), Andrija Jukic (Perth S.C.), Keith Brown (Mandurah City), Marc Anthony (Stirling Lions) and Adriano Pelligrino of South Australian club Metro Stars also enhanced their chances of being offered terms. Perth Glory currently has eleven players contracted for the 2008/09 season.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
The final round of Night Series group fixtures gets underway this evening at Dorrien Gardens. Pride will be the chief motivating factor when Inglewood United and Western Knights, placed fifth and sixth in Group B, square off at 6.30pm. The winner takes all in the late game between Perth S.C. and E.C.U. Joondalup (8.30pm) where a place in the semi-finals is up for grabs. Perth is so far unbeaten in the tournament but are sure to find the going tough against a Joondalup side that has conceded only three times in 360 minutes of pre-season football. The game will be won and lost in midfield where Antonio Naglieri and Andrija Jukic match skills with Scott Bushby and Scott Bulloch.
Goals have flowed freely for Floreat Athena throughout the tournament and that's expected to continue when they meet Armadale (6.00pm) on Saturday at Litis Stadium. Summer signing David Foster was in sensational form last weekend, scoring four times against Mandurah City, and coach Michael Roki will be hoping for a repeat performance against an Armadale side still finding their feet. Mandurah City continues the search for their first Night Series point when they face a young Cockburn City (8.00pm) line-up in the late game.
The action returns to Dorrien Gardens on Sunday when Sorrento takes on Fremantle Spirit (6.00pm). The Gulls are already through to the semi-finals and although missing several players through injury and suspension should take the points over Fremantle. A Stirling Lions win against Swan I.C. (8.00pm) will put Mike Lyons' side into the round of four - anything less may bring their Night Series to an early conclusion. And with Marc Anthony and Steven Hesketh back in the line-up it's difficult not to see Stirling claiming all three points. Admission is $7 adults, $4 concessions and under 16's are admitted free.
Three of the four semi-final berths are up for grabs in the First Division Night Series. Balcatta must beat Rockingham City (6.30pm) this evening at Litis Stadium to go through to the round of four, and that's followed by the top of the table Group A meeting of Canning City and Wanneroo City (8.30pm). Dorrien Gardens hosts South West Phoenix and Gosnells City (6.00pm) on Saturday, backed up by the winner take all Group B meeting of Ashfield and Forrestfield United (8.00pm). On Sunday its back to Litis Stadium for Dianella White Eagles verses Queens Park (6.00pm), then Group B leader Bayswater City take on Morley Windmills (8.00pm).
HALL OF FAME NOMINATIONS SOUGHT
Nominations are being sought for the next induction into the Football Hall of Fame Western Australia. The night of celebration offers the chance for champion players, leading administrators, top coaches and referees to be formally saluted for their achievements in WA football. The new Hall of Merit for Players will be introduced at July’s ceremony that will also feature inductions into the established Hall of Champions and the Hall of Recognition. It will be the fourth induction ceremony since the launch of the Football Hall of Fame in 1996.
To qualify for the Hall of Champions, players must either have figured at representative level, won a League title, a Cup competition or a similar award - or won notable individual awards - and been involved at a high level. They must either have been born in WA, raised in WA or played in WA for at least three seasons. To be considered, they must also have stopped competing at a professional level for at least three years.
The Hall of Merit for Players has been created to honour special players who enjoyed considerable success at club level and made an outstanding contribution to the game in this state. They must also have performed at a high level. For entry into the Hall of Recognition, the criteria demands that administrators, coaches or referees must have made a significant contribution to football in WA. They can still be involved in the game.
Clubs and the general public are invited to nominate individuals for induction into any one of the three hall of Fame categories. Nominations are to be lodged with Hall of Fame secretary Barbara Gibson (9526 0330) no later than 25th April and must include as many details as possible on the nominee, a contact number and your own contact number. The Committee of the Football Hall of Fame reserves the right to have the final say on all nominees.
SHAW PLANS DIANELLA'S REVIVAL
The arrival of Glynn Shaw has given Dianella White Eagles renewed hope for the coming season. Shaw, who recently resigned the coaching post at Queens Park, believes he can mould into a competitive unit a Dianella side which has so far failed to impress in the Night Series. "Dianella are a bigger club and the challenge is there to bring them back up to the top," Shaw explained. "There are some talented players at Dianella and I'm looking forward to working with them along with my coaching staff and the players who've joined me from Queens Park."
Shaw's first game in charge of Dianella ended in a 3-1 loss to Rockingham City on Sunday. Although he would have preferred the scoreline to be the other way around, the new Dianella coach was given plenty of food for though by his sides' performance. "I had a good chance to see the players in action and assess their strengths and weaknesses," he said. "Obviously, I'm not happy that we lost the game but one of the positives that came out of it is it gave the players a chance to show me what they can do."
Winless after four games and with just a single goal to their credit, Dianella's pre-season form has hardly something you'd write home about. And while he's only been on board a week Shaw is already formulating a plan to strengthen Dianella. "I'll be combining the talented group of players and coaching staff with the professionalism of Dianella to become a strong club," commented Shaw. "Dianella are a well set-up, professional club who have the same goals as I do for a successful season."
In an ironic twist of fate, Dianella come up against Queens Park in the final round of Night Series qualifiers on Sunday. "We won't be treating this game any differently to us playing us playing any other rival team," Shaw said. "I'm disappointed things didn't work out at Queens Park but I've moved on and are looking forward to the challenge at Dianella. I wish Queens Park all the best for the season ahead - with the exception of when they play Dianella!"
SORRENTO ARE BACK IN BUSINESS : FLATT
A Night Series semi-final berth is the clearest indication yet that Sorrento is ready to return to the top of the table. Midfielder Lewis Flatt says a strong pre-season has positioned the Gulls well for the season ahead and that their place in the round of four is an early indication that they are back in business. “Another season like the last one is simply unacceptable and we’ve put a lot of effort in pre-season to ensure that doesn’t happen,” he said. “We’ve worked hard on our fitness, keeping our shape and being stronger as a unit. Our defensive record in the Night Series shows we’ll be hard to break down and with the attacking flair of Glen Thomas, Scott Neville and Todd Harnwell we’re going to score a fair few goals.”
Having collected maximum points against Mandurah City and Armadale, and drawn with Floreat Athena, Sorrento booked their participation in the semi-finals last weekend by knocking over a highly rated Cockburn City line-up. “The lads were happy with the win and progression to the semi-finals after the game but we know we need to play better if we want to win the competition,” said Flatt. “Our performance against Cockburn was far from our best but when a side plays badly and still wins then it bodes well for the season ahead. Although we didn’t play the most attractive football our work ethic was second to none and we’re planning to take the habit of winning into the forthcoming home and away series.”
Flatt has featured prominently since stepping up to first team football at Sorrento two years ago and has been happy with how he’s started his third season with the northern suburbs club. “I’ve been happy with my work rate and I feel I’ve done the job the coaches have asked of me during the Night Series,” reflected the 17-yard old. “That said, I have been carrying a slight knock and I know I have much more to offer the side. I’ve only missed out on being in the first team squad once - through illness - in the past two years so hopefully I can continue to build upon that and establish myself as a prominent State League player.”
Sorrento’s final group stage game is against Fremantle Spirit on Sunday. “It’s essential that we take a winning mentality into the Night Series semi-finals and then the home and away season. I’m sure the lads will do their utmost to get another three points this weekend,” commented Flatt, who is likely to be rested for the game. “Steve Neville and Trevor Morgan are determined to make sure every player knows their job within the side and this game is no different. Sunday’s game is a great opportunity to fine tune our tactics, and hopefully our performances will continue to improve as the season goes on.”
TRIALS COMMENCE FOR STATE SCHOOLBOYS
Coach Damon Atthowe is looking forward to assembling the 2008 State Schoolboys squad when trials commence later this month. The State representative team has enjoyed tremendous success during their four years under Attowe who has no doubt Western Australia’s young players are as good as any in the nation. “Our record in the past four years has been exceptional with two silver medals and a bronze,” said the coach. “To put this into perspective, in the previous 22 years the WA boys had won only two other medals, both bronze. In 2007 we had two national representatives and in 2005 we had five players in the Australian team.”
Trials for the upcoming Schools National Championship, being staged in Port Macquarie this August, commence later this month. “Trials for the Schoolboys start on Wednesday 26th March at 4.00pm at Parnham Reserve in Carlisle, and the Schoolgirls trials are taking place on Saturday 29th March at 5.00pm at Wauhop Park in Fremantle,” said Atthowe. To be eligible players must either be a full-time TAFE or secondary school student, and be aged 19 or under as of 31st December 2008. Further information is available via the School Sport WA website.
ARMADALE SCORE ADDITIONAL POINTS
Armadale moved away from the foot of the Night Series Group A table after being awarded all three points from the recent clash with Mandurah City. The match itself ended in a scoreless draw, however, that result was overturned by Football West who awarded the game to Armadale 3-0 on account of Mandurah fielding a player while serving suspension. The three points leapfrogs Armadale up the table into fourth place ahead of this weekends meeting with table topper Floreat Athena.
SOCCEROOS DOOR OPENS FOR RUKAVYTSYA
Nikita Rukavytsya’s rapid rise through the ranks of Australian football continued yesterday when he was named in a youthful Socceroos squad to take on Singapore in a friendly on Saturday week. Rukavytsya was joined by Perth Glory team mates Tando Velaphi and Nikolai Topor-Stanley in a 17-man squad drawn entirely from the A-League for a game that serves as a warm-up for Australia’s World Cup qualifier with China four days later. Coach Pim Verbeek will roll out the overseas-based big guns for the China clash, but he will use the Singapore game to gauge the merits of retaining some players for the qualifier.
It’s been a dramatic rise for 20-year old Rukavytsya who could speak little English when he arrived in Perth from Ukraine in 2001. He initially made his mark by playing youth team football at Inglewood United and Perth S.C. after which he accepted a scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport. The strongly-built striker made his A-League debut during a short stay with Glory at the end of the 2006/07 season and impressed sufficiently to be offered a two year deal.
Rukavytsya established himself as a first team regular during his first full season with Glory in which he scored six times in 20 appearances, half of which were off the bench. “It’s been really great. I was pretty shocked when I got the message about the camp,” said Rukavytsya of his Socceroos call-up. “I’m happy to get a chance and to train with quality players and hopefully it will improve me more. I still have to work hard and hopefully I can make the team for the Socceroos game and the Olympics.”
Rukavytsya, Velaphi and Topor-Stanley are among a dozen players in the squad for the Singapore match who are also in contention to represent Australia at the Olympic Games later this year. Topor-Stanley has been involved in qualifiers and is virtually assured of an Olympic spot. Goalkeeper Velaphi’s case for inclusion in the Beijing squad has been strengthened by the absence of first choice Danny Vukovic. Rukavytsya is a late bolter for selection having only made his under-23 debut at the beginning of the month in a friendly with Mexico.
The Australian squad to play Singapore is Nathan Burns, Bruce Djite (Adelaide United), Nigel Boogard, Mile Jedinak (Central Coast Mariners), Leigh Broxham, Billy Celeski, Archie Thompson (Melbourne Victory), Ante Covic, Tarek Elrich, Adam Griffiths, James Holland, Jade North (Newcastle Jets), Nikita Rukavytsya, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Tando Velaphi (Perth Glory), Michael Zullo (Queensland Roar) and Ruben Zadkovich.
COYNE TARGETS CLEAN SWEEP
Colchester United have six home games left, and defender Chris Coyne is targeting a clean-sweep of six wins to stage a dramatic late surge to safety. The odds are stacked against the U’s avoiding relegation - they’re nine points adrift of safety, and have won only three times at home all season - but Coyne is staying positive. “We have three home games over the next week, and how we fair over these games will probably dictate where we finish this season,” admitted Coyne ahead of this evening’s clash with Sheffield United. “It’s important that we get on a winning run, and quickly, before it’s too late. We need to win all our home games, and perhaps pick up the odd point on the road - that would give us a chance.”
FOSTER ANSWERS THE CALL
If Floreat Athena fans were wondering who’d be scoring the goals this season then David Foster’s match-winning haul against Mandurah City on the weekend should have allayed their concerns. Foster, winner of the 2004 Golden Boot, scored twice in each half to sink Mandurah 4-0 and book Floreat’s place in the Night Series semi-finals. It was a masterful display by the 24-year old who proved once and for all that he’s over the problems which plagued his last three seasons with Swan I.C.
Coach Michael Roki had used Foster sparingly in the early weeks of pre-season tournament in an attempt to fine tune his new recruit who has battled injury and illness over the past few yeas. “David should fit in well to our style of play,” commented the Floreat coach. “Fozzy needs a bit more work yet but his natural instinct around goal and his ability to get into goalscoring positions will compliment the service he should get from our other attacking players. Natural poachers are few and far between which is one of the reasons I’ve been chasing David for a couple of seasons now.”
Although Foster bagged all the goals, Saturday’s performance against Mandurah was a true team effort and made Floreat the first team to qualify for the round of four. “It’s important now that we don’t get too far ahead of ourselves,” said Roki. “We’ve accomplished our initial objective to make the semis, but in order to make the final we will have to keep perspective amidst a fair bit of positive speculation. I’m very proud of the character that our players display and I know that they will not give anything away easily in two weeks time when we will meet either Perth, E.C.U. or Stirling.”
GRETNA DETERMINED TO SEE OUT THE SEASON SAYS GRIFFITHS
Midfielder Rostyn Griffiths says Gretna are determined to fulfil their remaining fixtures despite the club being plunged into administration. The Scottish Premier League will arrange a crisis loan for Gretna who formal notice of an intention to enter administration yesterday. "We are training as normal in preparation for the game against St Mirren on Tuesday," Griffiths said. "Players are getting paid weekly at the moment. A couple of people came in this week and told us what could go on if it all goes wrong. But at the moment they are saying that will not happen and at the end of the season they'll re-assess the situation and see what is going on. Most of the players are fairly confident and comfortable that things are going to be fine."
Griffiths is being paid his basic salary by Blackburn Rovers, to whom he's contracted, but the 19-year old is worried for his team mates who are in the dark about their long-term futures. "I am getting paid by Blackburn but it is a concern for everyone else," he said. "It has been quite strange for me to be around as I have that financial safety net although Gretna do still owe me some money for things like expenses, which I am sure I will eventually get back. It's been a strange time, what with the manager, Davie Irons, resigning and all the problems with money. I came here for the experience and I am getting that so the financial side of things isn't bothering me too much right now. But for the full-time lads it is a stressful time as they obviously have families and responsibilities and have to pay their way."
A-LEAGUE EXPANSION DELAYED
Football Federation Australia have delayed the entry of Townsville and Gold Coast clubs to the A-League in the best interests of the competition. “Expansion of the Hyundai A-League is a critical issue to the continuing evolution and growth of football,” said FFA CEO, Ben Buckley. “We stated last month that our approach to expansion has to be both prudent and planned - and it is.” Buckley said that both teams would benefit from the additional lead time to finalise some critical arrangements such as long term stadium agreements. Buckley reiterated the FFA’s earlier view that, ultimately, the natioal competition has the capacity to be at least a 12 team competition.
JELICIC BEATS TRAVEL BUG
Pursuit of fresh sporting challenges took Mirko Jelicic all the way to the former Soviet State of Uzbekistan, and family considerations have brought him home to Perth. The well-travelled 42-year old has taken the reins for another stint at Premier League club Cockburn City, five years after his previous spell ended when the travel bug sunk in. “I went away single and came back with a family,” said Jelicic, who accepted the coaching reins with Cockburn City at the start of the year from Perth Glory great Scott Miller.
Jelicic initially travelled to the Uzbek capital of Tashkent on a two-month contract to assist with the national teams’ preparations for the 2006 World Cup. His contract was extended after Uzbekistan were controversially bundled out of the qualifiers by Bahrain and time with the country’s dominant club, Pakhtakor, followed. He later accepted a position alongside former Sorrento midfielder Peter Butler with the Singapore Armed Forces team.
But by mid-2006 Jelicic has returned to Uzbekistan. “It’s very much a third-world country, but the top five per cent of people live very well,” he explained. “It’s a very safe place and people enjoy a very simple lifestyle there. It’s a fascinating place. It’s incredibly rich with history - the old Silk Road run through there so people like Marco Polo, Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great all moved through that part of the world.”
The immediate future is what most concerns Jelicic now and he expects a youthful Cockburn side to mount a serious title challenge this coming winter. “They’re capable of winning the League,” is his blunt assessment before issuing a note of caution. “But there are a lot of teams capable of winning the League. It comes down to what teams are doing with their week to week preparations.” Cockburn complete their Night Series campaign on Saturday when they play Mandurah City at Litis Stadium.
MCCALLUM SIGNS FOR CALIFORNIAN CLUB
Matildas star Collette McCallum will make her W-league debut in May after signing with Californian club Pali Blues. McCallum and fellow Australian internationals Sarah Walsh and Caitlin Munoz were revealed as Blues players late last week and coach Charlie Naimo could not be happier. "I cannot say enough about what this means to our franchise and the league itself,” said Naimo. “The Australian national team had a breakout performance in this past summer's World Cup, and the Blues are honored to have three of their best performers ... Collette is one of the best playmakers in the world, Caitlin can play underneath the forward line or as a target while Walshy is a very busy and dangerous player that can cause all kinds of problems." The Blues first game of their inaugural W-League season is away to Ventura County Fusion on Saturday 10th May.
NIGHT SERIES, WEEKEND FOUR
A second half spree by Stuart Montgomery has seen E.C.U. Joondalup come from behind to defeat Western Knights 4-1 at Litis Stadium on Friday. Montgomery netted three times in fourteen minutes against his former club before Anthony Jones put the result beyond doubt late in the piece. Knights boss Ronnie Campbell would have been disappointed with how the game panned out considering his side dominated the first half proceedings and went into the break a goal up. All the early pressure came from the Knights alnd although goalkeeper Bobson Koroma was kept busy neither Michael De Souza nor Anthony Skorich could find an avenue to goal. The breakthrough came on 28 minutes when De Sousa made his way past a defender before cutting back for Matt Allen to net at close-range. Fired up by the half-time address of Willie McNally, Joondalup emerged from the break a much stronger proposition and slowly took control of the contest. Montgomery opened his account thirteen minutes after the re-start with a wonderful shot on the turn from 17-metres that gave teenage goalkeeper Beau Geerlings no chance. Things went from bad to worse for the Knights who, just seven minutes later, had Geerlings red carded for bringing down Montgomery inside the area, and from the spot the Joondalup striker made no mistake in beating replacement ‘keeper Paul Larkin. The momentum was now with the northern suburbs outfit and in the 71st minute hesitant defending permitted Scott Bushby to poke the ball through to Montgomery who completed his hat-trick by blasting into the net from 10-metres. Jones added his name to the scoresheet with ten minutes remaining by meeting a Montgomery free-kick from the left and glancing his header past a despairing Larkin.
David Foster celebrated his first start for Floreat Athena by netting all the goals in Friday’s 4-0 mauling of Mandurah City at Litis Stadium. Foster, an off-season signing from Swan I.C., scored twice either side of half-time in a one-sided contest to consolidate Floreat’s position at the top of Group A. The host club took only 6 minutes to register their first goal when Foster looped a header over the on-coming goalkeeper following a Branimir Mikulic long ball in from the right. Goalkeeper Mike Green found himself under in the thick of the action as Adam Bachillor and Rafeal Insurralde continually speared Floreat into their third of the park. Foster put away his second on 23 minutes by turning on to a Garin Collins pass to which he applied a razor sharp finish from 12-metres that gave Mike Green no chance. John Migas went agonisingly close to adding a third after playing a neat one-two with Foster only to fired narrowly wide with just the ‘keeper to beat. Having surprised the onslaught by conceding only twice, Mandurah were given a glimmer of hope shortly after the interval when Rob Cuthbert got into position but blasted against the crossbar. However, the result was soon put beyond doubt as Bachillor arrowed in a low cross from the left and with the defence nowhere in sight Foster had the simple task of side-footing in from a couple of metres. The icing was put on the cake in the 64th minute when Migas’ curling free-kick crashed against the crossbar and, with the defence ball watching, Foster got between two opponents to nod in at close-range. Jeff Bright did his best to earn Mandurah a late consolation but his long-range volley cannoned back off the bar with only minutes remaining.
Stirling Lions recovered from being two down to dump Inglewood United 5-3 in a pulsating encounter at Dorrien Gardens on Saturday. Inglewood wasted no time in getting settled and had the lead after 14 minutes when James Mitsopoulus picked the ball up wide on the left and from 22-metres fired in to the top corner. Within a minute Renato Rechichi had raced clear down the right and pulled the ball back to Bobby Klenkoski whose low shot from the edge of the 18-yard box was too good for goalkeeper Mark Bentley. Stirling first threatened Jordan Rhodes whose powerful shot was well saved by teenager Lewis Italiano, then almost immediately Bentley was called upon to tip over Mathew Worton’s effort. The end-to-end action was punctuated on 29 minutes when Kevin Henderson’s back post header was instinctively kept out by Italiano who was helpless as Rhodes whipping in the follow-up. Growing in confidence, Stirling drew level three minutes later with Rhodes netting from 9-metres following an Alan Muir corner. But Inglewood took the lead into the break after an unmarked Bobby Despotovski was permitted time to execute a precise lob over the on-coming ‘keeper. There was no let up for Bentley nor Italiano as the sides traded shots in the second half. Parity was restored for a third time in the 62nd minute when Muir’s cross was met by Leo Harman whose goalbound header was helped into the net by Italiano. All the momentum was now with Stirling and a few short minutes later Ludovic Boi unleashed the sweetest of free-kicks which swung past the defensive wall and into the back of the net. The sealer arrived with twenty minutes remaining when Harman applied a clinical finish after being sent clear by Muir. Stirling were unfortunate not to add another late in the piece when a Harman shot cannoned back of the crossbar.
It was a point apiece in the late game as traditional rivals Perth S.C. and Swan I.C. played out a tight 2-2 draw. Perth came out firing to take the lead after 4 minutes when Antonio Naglieri swung in a near post corner which Trent Kay nipped in to head past Cory Hugo. All the play was with the host club who looked like going on with the job as Todd Howarth fired wide after good lead-up work by Peter Lord, while David Onoforo somehow missed a sitter at point blank range. Then, with half-time approaching, Cory Hugo proved his value with a couple of reflex saves to deny Onoforo twice in quick succession. Minutes later David Perich fired a free-kick into the 18-yard box where Aaron Cole’s header fell kindly for Alex Cocking to equalise despite the tight angle. The second half began positively for Swan as Cocking found the net only for referee Jeremy Oliphant to disallowed his effort for John Mansarray’s foul on goalkeeper Simon Madaschi. The second half opened with good chances for both teams before Baczynski put Swan in the driving seat by tapping in from a few metres after controlling a Perich free-kick which edged the big defender past his marker. A brave diving save at the feet of Mansarary resulted in Madaschi being forced out of the game by injury, and within minutes replacement Gareth Deeg breathed a huge sigh of relief as Cole fired narrowly wide. The teams were brought level on 74 minutes when Greg Sharland made his way down the left before sending in a cross which Price fired low past Cory Hugo at close-range. Perth quickly set about finding a late winner and although Brendan Ross, Naglieri and Todd Howarth went close the final whistle signalled they’d have to settle for a single point.
Sorrento have booked a Night Series semi-final appearance after inflicting a 2-1 defeat on Cockburn City in Sunday’s opening game at Litis Stadium. Scott Neville bagged the deciding goal close to the final whistle but it was a series of contentious decision and the dismissal of three players that captured most of the attention. The controversy started after 3 minutes when Sorrento were denied what appeared a clear penalty after Todd Harnwell went down under the challenge of goalkeeper Alan Dunlop. Cockburn first threatened through Giovanni De Bartolo who placed wide after seizing upon a defensive slip by Steven MacDonald. The Gulls went ahead in the 28th minute when Glen Thomas’ free-kick from deep on the right was palmed by Dunlop against the thigh of Steven McDonald, causing the ball to roll into an unguarded net. Neville was denied a goalscoring opportunity when sent clear of the defence only for referee Steven Gregory to call play back for a dubious offside decision. A looping header by De Bartolo cleared the crossbar just before the break, while after it Neil Young thwarted Johnny Mirco from the penalty spot. From the right Scott Neville delivered a cross which Harnwell glanced high, while down the opposite end Mirco again forced a response from Young. The equaliser arrived on 72 minutes when Jason De Abreu pushed the ball over the line in a goalmouth scramble that resulted from poor defending at a free-kick. Both sides were reduced a man in the space of six minutes as Steven MacDonald was sent off for dissent, and Scott Daley earned an early shower after clashing with Shaun Kilkelly. With six minutes left Neville received possession from Thomas and expertly fired pass an exposed ‘keeper to snatch victory for Sorrento. The final drama played out shortly after when Michael Ord was booked for a second time.
Gary Faria scored both goals for Armadale who defeated Fremantle Spirit 2-0 in the late game at Litis Stadium. Further details of this game were not forthcoming from either of the participating clubs.
FIRST DIVISION NIGHT SERIES, WEEKEND FOUR (Ashfield vs Gosnells City courtesy Gosnells City; Balcatta v Canning City courtesy Canning City)
Gosnells registered their first win of the tournament by sweeping past Ashfield 3-0 at Dorrien Gardens on Sunday. It was a deserved victory for Gosnells who enjoyed the bulk of possession and were unlucky not to have ended with a few more goals to their credit. The first half was a tight affair with Gosnells seeing more of the ball but finding it difficult to break down a resolute defence. Chances were equally as scare for Ashfield who were limited to a handful of scattered but well-crafted counterattacks. A few tactical changes at the break brought Ashfield into the game more after the break, however, they returned to playing off the back foot when Michael D’Silva was issued his second yellow card only minutes into the period. Gosnells desire to push into attack left them exposed at the back and goalkeeper Jade Thorpe saved their blushed by tipping Jake Watson’s sensational long-range shot onto the crossbar. The breakthrough came with eleven minutes remaining when Adam Bremner cut in from the wing to fire past Ashfield custodian Aaron Holloway. Paul Harvey added Gosnells’ second seven minutes later with Ian Maguire putting the icing on the cake shortly after.
Canning City put themselves in the frame for a semi-final appearance by spanking Balcatta 6-0 in Sunday’s late fixture. Duncan Hind had a header cleared off the line and Simon Versaico crashed his header against the crossbar as Canning announced their intention early. With 8 minutes gone Dwayne Hepburn converted from the penalty spot after being fouled inside the area to hand Canning a deserved lead. Hepburn broke free of the defence on 23 minutes only to be brought down by goalkeeper Kenny Ftynohiannis, who was duly red carded before the Canning attacker sent replacement ‘keeper Daniel Ricciardello the wrong way. From this point it was all one-way traffic and Daniel Trevisol bagged a couple of goals in quick succession to extend Canning’s advantage to four before the interval. To their credit Balcatta refused to concede the game and continually pushed their opponents in the second half with Andy O’Neill leading the way. There were only eight minutes left on the clock when defender Dave Evans charged his way forward to fire goal number five into the net. Rory Mouttet made it an even half dozen shortly after by heading in a kyle Mitsopoulos cross.
Forrestfield United and Morley Windmills shared the points at 1-1 when they met at Dorrien Gardens on Friday evening. Farrell Hedges gave Morley the lead on 53 minutes but that lasted little over sixty seconds before J.Feather restored parity. Daniel Glasspool and Ben Yates got the goals for Wanneroo City who defeated Queens Park 2-1 in the late game. Bayswater City became the first team to secure a place in the semi-finals after defeating South West Phoenix 3-1 at Litis Stadium on Saturday. Phoenix took the early lead through Steve Suttie but goals from Adrian Sutton, Tony Cumace and Ryan Frisina earned Bayswater the points. Rockingham City accounted for Dianella White Eagles in the late game. E.Kent, Darren Mathurine and Erik Kuzmar found the net for Rockingham with Dianella’s solitary goal coming via Dragan Njegic. Further details of these games were not forthcoming from any of the eight participating clubs.
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED IN CHINA
Perth Glory completed their week-long trip to China with a 3-1 loss to Guangzhou at Yuexiushan Stadium. Despite the loss, Glory’s third in succession, coach David Mitchell says he achieved his pre-tour objective of unearthing players capable of stepping up to the A-League next season. “I came here with the primary objective to see how these guys would perform against quality opponents and adapt to the system of play I’ll be looking at for next season,” said Mitchell of a squad predominantly made up of trial players. “While you’d always like the results to go your way the most important thing for us as a club looking to rebuild was to have the opportunity to play against good opposition and see who could stand up to the test.”
Young attacker Callum Roberts delivered Glory’s first goal of the tour with a well taken strike in the 20th minute after being set up by the silky skills of Josip Magdic. That brought Glory back into the match following a highly debatable penalty which gave Guangzhou the lead after 10 minutes. A poor tackle by James Downey saw the midfielder issued a second yellow card on the stroke of half-time, and the resultant free-kick was lashed into the net by the home side. Glory worked tirelessly after the break to conjure up an equaliser only to be undone with twenty minutes on the counterattack. Guangzhou ended the game with ten men when one of their foreign imports was sent off shortly after.
SEVEN TEAM YOUTH LEAGUE NEXT SEASON
Football Federation Australia have released details of a national youth competition to run in parallel with the A-League. Each of Australia's seven A-League clubs will field a side in the National Youth League which kicks off in August. "This competition is particularly important because, for the first time, talented young players will have an opportunity to play regular, quality competitive games regardless of whether they are part of the AIS (Australian Institute of Sport) program, the State sports institutes or the State football leagues," FFA boss Ben Buckley said. Players must be aged between 16 and 21 to be eligible to play in the National Youth League although four over-age players will be permitted to play in each match.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
For a number of teams this weekend's fourth round of the McInerney Ford sponsored Night Series fixtures is make or break time. It all starts this evening at Litis Stadium with E.C.U Joondalup up against Western Knights (6.30pm). Joondalup are fresh from inflicting a 5-1 thrashing upon Swan I.C. and you can guarantee striker Stuart Montgomery will be out to score a few goals against his old club. Daniel and David Micevski were in fine form last weekend and their contibutions will be vital in the Knights collecting their first points of the campaign. An undefeated Floreat Athena come up against top flight newcomer Mandurah City (8.30pm) in the late game.
Dorrien Gardens hosts the Saturday games which opens with Stirling Lions and Inglewood United (6.00pm). Another three points to Stirling will do their hopes of making the play-offs the world of good, while anything less than victory will virtually ensure Inglewood don't progress past the group phase. This is followed by the first meeting of traditional rivals Swan and Perth S.C. (8.00pm) for 2008. Perth have been the form team of Group B, winning all three games to date, and are tipped to account for a Swan outfit which is still covering from last weeks mauling.
The round comes to a close with the winner take all meeting of Cockburn City and Sorrento (6.00pm) at Litis Stadium on Sunday. The Gulls will fancy their chances after holding group leader Floreat Athena to a draw but they'll find the going tough against one of the toughest defences in the business. The late game has Fremantle Spirit up against Armadale (8.00pm). Admission is $7 adults, $4 concessions and under 16's are admitted free - and don't forget to pick up a copy of official Football West programme, 'The Match', upon entry for just $2.
The First Division Night Series continues this evening with Forrestfield United against Morley Windmills (6.30pm) followed by Queens Park and Wanneroo City (8.30pm) at Dorrien Gardens. South West Phoenix come up against Group B leader Bayswater City (6.00pm) tomorrow at Litis Stadium before the showdown between Group A cellar-dwellers Dianella White Eagles and Rockingham City (8.00pm). Sunday at Dorrien Gardens has Ashfield matching their skills with an as yet winless Gosnells City (6.00pm), before Group A high-flyers Balcatta and Canning City (8.00pm) come face to face in the late game.
GREGORY TO OFFICIATE AT INTERNATIONAL TOURNAMENT
Local whistle blower Steven Gregory, 24, has been invited to officiate at the 2008 Dallas Cup in Dallas, Texas, later this month. The trip forms part of Gregory's scholarship with the Australian Sports Commission and will see him line-up alongside referees from around the globe, many of whom are FIFA referees with past World Cup appointments. Considered by many to be the world’s best youth tournament, the Dallas Cup has been held annually since 1980 and this years' edition features the likes of Liverpool (England), Benfica (Portugal) and Sao Paulo (Brazil) amongst the participating teams.
Gregory commenced his refereeing career as a 15-year old and quickly rose through the junior ranks to be officiating State League youth competitions within two years. He was selected to referee at the National Youth Championships in 2003 before being appointed to the senior State Premier League panel in 2005. Gregory was awarded an Australian Sports Commission Scholarship for 2007, which has seen him travel the country to referee at the highest level of State League competition in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. Appointed to the A-League Referees Panel for season 2007/08, Gregory refereed his first national league match at the age of 23 when Adelaide United met Perth Glory in the pre-season Cup.
CHANGSHA DEFEAT GLORY
Super League side Changsha Ginde scored in ten minutes to defeat Perth Glory 2-0 in the second game of their Chinese tour. Changsha Ginde took the lead on 55 minutes via a dubious penalty, then ten minutes later Cameroon striker Aboubakar Oumarou secured the win with a fine shot from the top of the 18-yard box. The A-League club complete their visit to China on Saturday when they meet Guangzhou at Yuexiushan Stadium.
While the result favoured the home team, coach Dave Mitchell applauded the effort shown by his new-look squad. “The boys have been very positive in the way they’ve approached every match and the more time we spend together on the pitch the more cohesive our play has been,” said the Glory boss. “It has been really pleasing to see the lads on trial out there giving everything to prove they’re ready to make the step-up into the A-League.”
Marc Anthony was once again a calming influence in central midfield while at the back Keith Brown put in another solid 90 minute contribution. Despite receiving close attention from the Changsha Ginde defence, Eugene Dadi performed admirably as the lone target in attack and was well supported by midfielder Adriano Pellegrino. Ducth goalkeeper Arnoldus van Zwam was between the posts for Perth and performed well in his first outing for the club.
MATILDAS TRIUMPHANT IN TRANS-TASMAN SERIES
The Matildas have commenced preparations for the upcoming Women's Asian Cup by making a clean sweep of their three-game friendly series with New Zealand. The series win extended Australia's remarkable winning streak against the Kiwis to 14 matches dating back to 1994. West Australians Collette McCallum and Lydia Williams featured prominently throughout the series, but injury prevented Lisa De Vanna from participating.
A goal in each half ensured Australia a 2-0 win in Saturday's opening match of the series. Sarah Walsh celebrating her 50th cap by netting on 16 minutes after pouncing on an errant pass from the goalkeeper. Joanne Burgess increased the margin nine minutes after the interval with a firm drive from 20-metres. Australia went close to extending their lead when Heather Garriock's header crash against the crossbar. Both McCallum and Williams played full games.
A dominant Matildas line-up downed New Zealand 2-1 on Monday. Kate Gill opened the scoring in the 22nd minute only to have New Zealand's Emma Kete bring the sides level just before the interval. The winner came via a pin-point cross by McCallum which was volleyed in at close-range by Amy Chapman two minutes into the second half. Sarah Walsh was twice denied by the woodwork while a fingertip save by Jenny Bindon prevented Cheryl Salisbury's header from crossing the line. McCallum came off after 84 minutes, while Williams was an unused substitute.
Australia came from behind to defeat New Zealand 4-2 in today's final game of the series. McCallum scored direct from a corner early on, but it was the Kiwis who held the advantage at the break through goals by Merissa Smith and Hayley Moorewood. Salisbury put Australia back in the driving seat by scoring twice after the break before Clare Polkinghorne netted her first goal for the national team. McCallum played a full game with Williams coming off the bench at half-time.
The Matildas squad for the three-match series against New Zealand featured Victoria Balomenos, Melissa Barbieri, Joanne Burgess, Tameka Butt, Amy Chapman, Lisa De Vanna, Heather Garriock, Kate Gill, Lyndsay Glohe, Elise Kellond-Knight, Collette McCallum, Caitlin Munoz, Amber Neilson, Clare Polkinghorne, Karla Reuter, Renee Rollason, Cheryl Salisbury, Sarah Walsh and Lydia Williams.
QUEENS PARK IN TURMOIL
One of the state’s oldest clubs, Queens Park, has been plunged into disarray only weeks out from the start of the home and away series. The sudden departure of director of coaching Mal Mackie late last week sparked a dramatic sequence of events which ultimately lead to the departure of Queens Park’s entire coaching staff along with much of their senior squad.
A week of upheaval began on Thursday when Mackie, who also coached the clubs under-18 side, was asked to tender his resignation. Within days, first team coach Glynn Shaw and reserves boss Ljupco Taneski had registered their disapproval by resigning and following training on Tuesday the majority of the player group also opted to seek greener pastures.
VELAPHI SHINES IN THE TOP JOB
Goalkeeper Tando Velaphi has enhanced his prospects of representing Australia at the Beijing Olympic Games during his under-23 international debut in front of a “crazy” crowd of more than 45,000 screaming Mexican supporters. Velaphi took advantage of incumbent Danny Vukovic’s absence with an assured performance, despite being beaten in the 18th minute when the ball deflected off defender Adam D’Apuzzo in the 1-1 draw at McAfee Coliseum in San Francisco. Troy Hearfield brought Australia level just two minutes from the final whistle to silence the parochial support.
Velaphi, who had not played for the national team in twelve months, was understudy to Vukovic throughout Australia’s Olympic qualification series. But that situation could change dramatically after the Central Coast Mariners player was suspended for 15-months for striking referee Mark Shield on the arm in the closing moments of Sunday’s A-League Grand Final. Vukovic has appealed the length of his suspension which rules him out of A-League action until late November, and Football Federation Australia are still to decide whether to extend the ban to cover international football.
Whatever the outcome, Velaphi’s performance in front of a raucous crowd is sure to have helped his cause. “It was pretty crazy,” said the Perth Glory ‘keeper. “There were about 45,000 people there and the majority of them were Mexico supporters. It was a bit of a shock the way on the way into the ground but it was a great atmosphere, and it was good to snatch a goal at the end. It’s what we needed in preparation for Beijing.” Former Perth S.C. striker Nikita Rukavytsya, now under contract to Glory, also made his Olyroo debut in the match by coming off the bench in the 72nd minute.
PUNTERS PICK PERTH TO WIN NIGHT SERIES
Perth S.C. has been installed as the red-hot favourite to win the 2008 Night Series. The Blues have lifted the pre-season trophy five times in seven years and, according to the first footballwa.net poll of 2008, are on course to collect their third straight title. Just under 500 responses were received to the question ‘Who will win the 2008 Night Series?’ with Perth collecting 22.6% of the vote. The only team considered capable of stopping the Perth juggernaut is Floreat Athena, who picked up 19.3% of the vote.
Premier League newcomer Mandurah City (9.2%) was the third most popular choice of Night Series winner, followed by northern suburbs outfit E.C.U. Joondalup (7.6%). Cockburn City and Armadale (5.9%) ended level but with just a couple of votes more than Stirling Lions (5.7%). Inglewood United (5.1%), Swan I.C. (4.9%) and Western Knights (4.7%) were given little more than an outside chance of winning the trophy with Sorrento and Fremantle Spirit (4.3%) rounding out the field.
WA WANTS OLYROOS, MATILDAS
Football West wants to bring an international fixture to Perth within twelve months and has made a pitch to host the Olyroos in the lead-up to the Beijing Olympic Games. Garry Chandler, chief executive of the state’s peak body, has had discussions with Football Federation Australia about the Olyroos or Matildas playing a match in Perth, and he is hopeful of brining an end to Western Australia’s three-year international drought. “I’ve had a couple of discussions with FFA and they are pretty positive about it,” Chandler told Jonathon Cook of the ‘West Australian’ newspaper.
The Olyroos are scheduled for a home friendly in July as an important part of their build-up to the Beijing Olympics to be held in August. “It’s a possibility that we could host that match and it’s one we are pursuing,” said Chandler. “There are also a couple of home Matildas matches coming up. It’s really down to us to keep pushing for Perth. I’m hopeful and confident we’ll see an international team here within twelve months. We’ve got to be looking now at the next level of the development and profile of the game and things like being able to host internationals is the key to that.”
CHINESE CHAMPIONS TOO STRONG FOR GLORY
A makeshift Perth Glory has gone down 3-0 to Chinese Super League champions Changchun Yatai in this afternoon’s opening game of their three-game Chinese tour. A quality strike on 27 minutes put Changchun in front before two further goals after the interval ensured their Asian Champions League preparations remained well on track. Eugene Dadi and James Robinson forced a couple of great saves from the Changchun goalkeeper in the second half of a high intensity game. Stan Lazaridis put in a solid display in what was his first competitive hit out since January. Trialing midfielders Marc Anthony and Andrija Jukic also caught the eye of coaching staff along with Keith Brown, who lined-up in the centre of defence alongside Jamie Coyne.
NIGHT SERIES, WEEKEND THREE
E.C.U. Joondalup swept their way into semi-final contention with a 5-1 demolition of Swan I.C. in Friday’s spiteful opening match at Dorrien Gardens. The opening spell was memorable only for its lack of opportunities and scrappy play as the two sides slugged it out with neither able to assert their authority. The game was in desperate need of resuscitation when the ball was turned over and Tom Shepheard and threaded a pass through to Alex Cocking who held his nerve to rifle past goalkeeper Bobson Koroma. Awoken from their slumbers, Joondalup responded with a period of sustained pressure and were rewarded as Ian McMurray rose high to head at a corner from the right by Tommy Amphlett. With some rash challenges being put in, referee Joe Fusarti maintained control with a series of bookings but would have been justified had he flashed Martin Ashworth and Dom Ando a card of a different colour after they clashed heatedly. Joondalup gained the advantage shortly after when Scott Bushby curled the ball around the approaching ‘keeper after being played through by Scott Blackmore. With the next goal likely to determine the game, the second half opened with Cocking hitting the post following a swift Swan counterattack, while Bushby squandered a golden opportunity by blazing high from the penalty spot. Stuart Montgomery’s introduction on 65 minutes proved a masterstroke by coach Willie McNally as within a minute the one-time State striker delicately chipped Daniel Agudelo to increase Joondalup’s advantage. The points were made safe by McMurray who raced clear of a stagnant defence and round the ‘keeper before slotting in. Montgomery had a point to prove and with five minutes remaining scored an audacious second goal by looping the ball over the ‘keeper with his back to goal. David Perich should have bagged a Swan a late consolation but instead lifted the ball high from the spot.
Johnny Mirco and Paul Natale got the goals as Cockburn City moved into play-off contention by downing southern neighbour Fremantle City 2-0 in the late game at Dorrien Gardens. At the completion of the round Cockburn were just a single point behind Floreat Athena and Sorrento at the head of a congested Group A table. It was an all-action start from Cockburn whose dominance of the opening exchanges had Fremantle focused on defensive duties. Anthony Pereira and Johnny Mirco provided much of the momentum and created a slew of chances for Aaron Dos Santos and Giovanni De Bartolo who unfortunately could not convert their opportunities. Fremantle eventually got into gear and through the tireless efforts of Dale Wingell and Sisco Jorquiera wrestled control of midfield. But like their opponents the port side were unable to find the back of the net and the sides went into the break as they started. Cockburn grabbed the lead within minutes of the second half starting when a defensive lapse allowed Johnny Mirco to steal possession and neatly tucked the ball inside the bottom corner. But celebrations were short lived as just a few minutes later Cockburn went down to ten men when Aaron Dos Santos was issued a straight red card for dissent following an incident with goalkeeper Steve Grant. The injection of Jaime De Abreu ensured Cockburn maintained control of the game, the 16-year old causing all sorts of problems for the Fremantle defence with his electric pace and terrific ball control. The points were made safe with fifteen minutes remaining when Natale beat Grant from the penalty after Johnny Mirco jinxed his way past three opponents only to be brought down inside the area.
Mandurah City were unlucky not to earn more than a point after a plucky Armadale held them to a scoreless draw at Litis Stadium on Saturday. It was a much improved performance by the Dolphins who deserved more after controlling the game for lengthy periods and creating by far the better opportunities on goal. Mandurah’s first opening came through a long Jeff Bright throw-in that Christian Paschewitz flicked into the path of Patrick Quinn who failed to get a touch on the ball by the slenderest of margins. There were otherwise few clear cut chances in a tight opening half in which Mandurah held the upper hand thanks to the non-stop efforts of Andy Brown, Bright and Paschewitz. Armadale’s best opportunity came via Matt Bennion’s long ball from the right which narrowly evaded the head of an unmarked Adrian McCann. The second half began with Mandurah displaying the greater urgency. Chris Wiley was the first to make an impression with a rasping low drive from the top of the 18-yard box that took a deflection and ended wide. Armadale earned a free-kick just outside the box which Kevin Carmona swung past the defensive wall but was kept out of the bottom corner by Green at full-stretch. Brown was dominating the middle of the park and in the 59th minute his fierce low strike into a crowded area was blocked by Darryl Platten. Sharrock produced a top-notch save to keep out a vicious free-kick by Bright, then recovered in time to tip Townsend’s follow-up header over the crossbar. With the clock ticking down Townsend surged three-quarters the length of the park before delivering laying the ball at the feet of Paschewitz whose shot was scuffed and Bennion cleared the danger. Graeme Matthews got in on the act late in the piece by skipping past one challenge but his shot from 15-metres lacked the power required to beat Sharrock.
Floreat Athena and Sorrento played out a pulsating 2-2 draw in their Group A fixture at Litis Stadium on Saturday. Sorrento struck early with Scott Neville sending Alex Dunn the wrong way from the penalty spot after Todd Harnwell was brought down by the goalkeeper. All the early running came from the northern suburbs outfit with a cracking first time effort by Harnwell directed straight at Dunn, then Glen Thomas’ explosive strike from just outside the 18-yard box flash past the post. The pressure was relentless Shaun Kilkelly nodded a deep corner back across the face of goal to Steve McDonald whose effort was blocked by Dunn. After weathering the storm, Floreat began to find their feet and Garin Collins’ superb touch saw his curling shot bounce to safety off the underside of the crossbar. The hosts carved out a succession of chances leading into the break but Adam Bachiller and Branimir Mikulic were thwarted by Dunn while Collins placed wide when placed well. Sorrento came out for the second half with their enthusiasm renewed and a rising drive by Neville slammed into the outside of the post. The ledger was squared on 61 minutes when Miki Vujacic’s serving free-kick was too strong for Neil Young to hold. Dunn misjudged a ball played to the top of the area but recovered well to smother at the feet of Neville. A terrific exchange of passes put the ball with Bachiller whose deep cross from the left found Mikulic but his header at close-range was high. A minute into injury time Collins harassed Young into conceding possession on the edge of the area before stroking the ball into an empty net, much to the delight of the Floreat supporters. However, they were soon silenced as Steve McDonald got on the end of a hopeful cross and looped the ball over Dunn to snatch a dramatic point.
A fine piece of individual skill by young gun Phil Arnold allowed Stirling Lions to snatch a dramatic 3-2 win over a gallant Western Knights in the opening game at Dorrien Gardens on Sunday. Stirling battled hard for the three points against an impressive Knights outfit which dominated proceedings for most of the match. The game started at a frenetic pace and was 9 minutes old when Anthony Skorich expertly tamed a long ball into the 18-yard before lashing his shot past goalkeeper Phil Straker to put the Knights in front. Playing largely on the counter attack, Stirling were denied an equaliser by teenage goalkeeper Beau Geerlings who turned away efforts by Ludovic Boi and Jordan Rhodes. Skorich was thwarted several times in his attempts to add a second to the Knights tally, while close to the break desperate defending in the goalmouth prevented Boi from bringing Stirling level. The second half avalanche of goals commenced on 56 minutes when Stirling captain Kevin Henderson headed in the equaliser from a Phil Arnold corner. Three minutes later they had the lead as Michael Pugliese was afforded space to unleash a thunderbolt which cannoned into the net via the underside of the crossbar. Not to be out-done, the Knights hit back just a few short minutes later with Skorich poking in a loose ball at close-range. This swung the momentum back in the Knights favour and with David Micevski providing the forward drive the team from Nash Field re-established control through a series of attacking raids. However, with three minutes left Arnold took possession and weaved his way within sight of goal before releasing a low shot that slipped through the hands of Geerling and rolled into the net.
Perth S.C. consolidated their position at the top of Group B with a hard fought 1-0 win over Inglewood United at Dorrien Gardens. David Onoforo’s first half strike was enough to give Perth maximum points on a night when their inability to convert chance into goals prevented the final margin from being much greater. The host club came out firing with the attacking trio of Greg Sharland, Andreas Oliveira and Onoforo causing Inglewood no end of problems. Onoforo screwed an early shot wide at close-range, while Sharland and Oliviera were thwarted by Oliver Taseski. A superb piece of lead-up play handed Perth the lead on 27 minutes when Robbie Puca threaded a pass out to Greg Sharland on the left who charged to the by-line and cut the ball back for Onoforo to convert ahead of Taseski. Opportunities were scarce by comparison for Inglewood who rarely penetrated far into their attacking half as Perth flexed their muscle across the centre of the park. Only a coat of paint prevented David Price from increasing the margin with a 40-metre rocket which crashed against the crossbar and rebounded out for a goal kick. This same pattern continued after the break as Perth sought to extend their lead. Onoforo again found himself within sight of goal only to hit the outside of the post, while Price and Puca were also unable to capitalise when the opportunity presented. The introduction of veteran Bobby Despotovski had the desired affect as Inglewood began to open up holes in their opponents defence. With eight minutes to go Matt Wardle delivered the ball into the 18-yard box only for Shane Pryce to slip at the crucial moment and the chance was lost. Despotovski went close to snatching a point with a curling free-kick that Simon Madaschi palmed away.
FIRST DIVISION NIGHT SERIES, WEEKEND THREE (Forrestfield United v Gosnells City courtesy Gosnells City; South West Phoenix v Morley Windmills courtesy South West Phoenix; Balcatta v Dianella White Eagles courtesy Balcatta)
Forrestfield United took the points over eastern corridor neighbour Gosnells City 1-0 in a tight contest at Litis Stadium on Friday. The win moves Forrestfield alongside Bayswater City and Ashfield at the head of Group B with two qualifying games to play. It took less than a minute for Forrestfield to announce their intensions with a fierce shot that forced a superb save from young goalkeeper Jade Thorpe. Gosnells gradually played their way into the game and as the half came to a close new signing twice went close to breaking the deadlock. The game evened out in the second half with both teams creating opportunities but neither able to get a decisive touch. Thorpe was without a doubt the busier of the ‘keepers as Forrestfield sought to take the lead against an opponent who’d clearly left their goalscoring boots at home. The teams appeared destined to end with a point each when the ball was turned over and Forrestfield streamed into attack down the right before a cross was delivered into the area where it was converted by a team mate with only minutes left on the clock
South West Phoenix posted their first win of the Night Series by out-shooting Morley Windmills 2-0 at Dorrien Gardens on Saturday. Steve Suttie and Rory Binnie found the net in the final quarter hour but Phoenix should have had the game well and truly wrapped up by that late stage. Phoenix started full of life and a superb first time shot by Binnie was tipped away by Chris Ramsey after only a few minutes. It was a sign of things to come as Suttie sent a shot narrowly wide after latching on to a long ball, while Lee Stewart placed high from Gary Mayers' cross. A few tactical and positional changes by coach Tom Kilkelly had the desired effect on Morley who started the second half with greater focus. Farrell Hedges went close with a header that was cleared off the line, and a crisp strike by Scott McIlroy forced a sharp response from 'keeper Ryan Montgomery. The deadlock was broken in the 74th minute when Suttie advanced on goal unchallenged before firing past Ramsey after receiving a quick throw-in from Andy Cowley. Victory was assured when a shot by Suttie came back off the post and Binnie converted at close-range.
Ashfield rode their luck to claim a 2-1 victory over neighbouring Bayswater City in Saturday’s late game. Scott Campbell gave Bayswater a dream start when his strike from 20-metres came to rest in the back of the net after 11 minutes. Bayswater weren’t content with a single goal lead as Damir Kudozovic slammed the ball into the crossbar, while Ryan Frisina was denied the sides second goal by a dubious offside decision. Against the run of play the sides were brought level by Luke Worthington whose crisp strike from the top of the 18-yard box was took good for the goalkeeper. Bayswater went within inches of restoring their advantage either side of the break as Adrian Sutton and Morgan Dendle hit the post. Midway through the second period goalkeeper Cody Bradshaw mid-judged a Michael Da Silva corner which drifted under the bar to put Ashfield in front. From this point on Ashfield were content to sit back and soak up the pressure as Bayswater threw everything into conjuring up an equaliser. Sal Marrapodi should have done better than shoot over the bar from a narrow angle after rounding the ‘keeper, while Sutton rose highest to meet a corner only to be denied by Aaron Holloway’s superb fingertip save.
The goals flowed for Balcatta who spanked Dianella White Eagles 5-0 in Sunday's late game at Dorrien Gardens. The result stretches Balcatta's unbeaten Night Series run to three games and on the verge of semi-final qualification, whereas Dianella are still searching for their first goal of the tournament after 270 minutes of football. It took only 4 minutes for Balcatta to open their account through teenager Ogi Radonic who finished coolly a ball played in from the right by Adam Stillitano. The margin became two in the 41st minute when Adriano D'Adamo headed past the goalkeeper from a free-kick. The game was ended as a contest early in the second half when Julian Piromalli drove his way past two opponents before firing past the on-coming 'keeper. Dianella were opened up again ten minutes late by a neat move down the left which presented Radonic with his second of the game. Adriano Coloiero completed the scoring by knocking the ball in at the far post after combining with Radonic close to the final whistle.
Jay McDonald and Brian Cairney got the goals when Wanneroo City downed Rockingham City 2-0 at Litis Stadium on Friday. Queens Park took the points over Canning City 1-0 on Sunday with D.Taneski the scorer of the games’ only goal. Further details of these games were not forthcoming from any of the four participating clubs.
GLORY ‘WAIT AND SEE’ ON PETKOVIC
Perth Glory will monitor Jason Petkovic’s recovery from surgery to remove a pin from his leg before deciding whether to re-sign the veteran shot-stopper. The club is locked in negotiations with the former Socceroo, as well as continuing lengthy talks with central defender David Tarka. While Glory are hopeful of re-signing Tarka to a revised performance-based contract in the near future, the situation with Petkovic is still unclear. Petkovic is expected to make a full recovery from recent surgery and is keen to prolong his career at Glory. But the club will wait on his rehabilitation before making a decision on Petkovic, a veteran of 338 national league games.
CHANCE TO IMPRESS ON CHINESE TOUR
Dave Mitchell will be keeping a close eye on the performances of nearly a dozen players who’ll trial with Perth Glory during their three-match tour of China. With only five contracted players available for the trip, Mitchell has invited eight local players to travel to China along with two players from interstate and Ivory Coast striker Eugene Dadi. “We’re a bit unfortunate we couldn’t take a couple more players from our squad,” said Mitchell. “It’s not an ideal situation but it’s a situation where I’ll look at the local players and see what they can do,” said Mitchell.
Stan Lazaridis, Nick Rizzo, Jamie Coyne, James Robinson and Jimmy Downey are the only contracted players in the 16-man squad. E.C.U. Joondalup goalkeeper Tommi Tomich and team mate Mark Lee, Josip Magdic of Floreat Athena and Stirling Lions pair Steven Hesketh and Marc Anthony will make the trip. Exciting youngsters Andrija Jukic (Perth S.C.) and Callum Roberts (Fremantle Spirit) and Mandurah City’s Keith Brown complete the local contingent. Sebastian Petrovich of Whittlesea Zebras (Victoria) and Adrian Pellegrino Metro Stars (South Australia) will also trial along with 34-year old Dadi.
Rizzo is excited about seeing what the new lads can bring to the team. “We’ve met the boys throughout the season, played against some of them in trial games and those sorts of things so they haven’t taken long to settle in,” said Rizzo, who played several games in China while with English club Crystal Palace. “It’s a perfect opportunity for the lads because there are some spots up for grabs on our list for next season and we have great talent in the local leagues and hopefully they can grab this chance with both hands.”
Mitchell dipped into State League ranks after his side was left threadbare by a lengthy absentee list. Goalkeeper Jason Petkovic (leg), defensive trio David Tarka (hamstring), Hayden Foxe (knee) and Dino Djulbic (groin) are sidelined by injury along with midfielder Mitchell Prentice. Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Tando Velaphi and Nikita Rukavytsya are on international duty in the United State with the Australian Olympic team, while Naum Sekulovski had arranged a European holiday before the China trip was finalised.
Perth will play three matches in seven days against Super League opponents with their first test coming against Chinese champions Changchun Yatai on Sunday. “Three games in a week is tough but we’re all looking forward to it. This tour breaks up the off-season for us and gives that important match practice that we are looking for,” Rizzo said. Glory plays Changsha Ginde on Wednesday before completing the trip on Saturday against Guangzhou. The A-League club has strong corporate connections throughout the Asian region with Chinese steel manufacturer Delong Holdings a joint major sponsor last season.
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This page was last updated on the 3oth April, 2008