MELBOURNE CLAIM VICTORY IN DRAMATIC A-LEAGUE GRAND FINAL
Melbourne Victory confirmed their status as the most successful club in the A-League’s short history with a dramatic 1-0 win over gutsy Adelaide United this evening at the Telstra Dome. Tom Pondeljak’s wonder-strike on the hour made all the difference in a game which saw both sides have a player sent off. The writing was on the wall after only 9 minutes when referee Matthew Breeze controversially red carded Cristiano after his elbow connected with the side of Roddy Vargas’ head. Melbourne made the most of the player advantage as Matthew Kemp had a shot blocked, Carlos Hernandez rifled wide and Danny Allsopp tested Eugene Galekovic. Adelaide’s best chances for the half came on 31 minutes when Jonas Salley met Scott Jamieson’s free-kick but headed just wide.
While Melbourne began the second half well, it was an Adelaide side playing on the counter attack that looked the more dangerous. Jamieson was denied by Michael Theoklitos’ outstretched foot, then Travis Dodd beat three players but his shot was easily met by the Melbourne ‘keeper. The crowd of 53,273 stood as one in the 60th minute when substitute Evan Berger backheeled to Pondeljak who strode into space and curled a superb shot across the ‘keeper and inside the far post from 22-metres. But the drama was far from finished and an altercation between Allsopp and Robert Cornthwaite led to the former being red carded for an apparent headbutt. Melbourne was not to be deterred with Vargas, Thompson and Hernandez all going close to sealing victory. Down the other end it was another Jamieson free-kick that had Theoklitos at full stretch.
DOLPHINS OUT OF WATER AGAINST CANNING (courtesy Football West)
Canning City picked up their second win of the pre-season by fending off a strong finishing Mandurah City 3-2 in an entertaining early game at Alfred Skeet Oval. Despite dominating play for most of the match, Canning nearly surrendered the game as Mandurah mounted a concerted late charge in an effort to keep alive their hopes of progressing to the semi-finals. High humidity greeted the players as they emerged from the change rooms for what would be a cracking contest. Canning’s early enterprise was rewarded after 34 minutes when James Hesketh’s infringement on Chaz Partridge led referee Troy Miller to point straight to the spot, and Daniel Trevisol duly sent goalkeeper Phil Straker the wrong way. As half-time dawned, Mandurah stepped up a gear and Rafael Insurralde tricked his way past two opponents before thumping his shot beyond the reach of Devon Spence. But any thoughts Mandurah entertained of going into the break on level terms were soon erased as Partridge capitalised on a terrible back pass by Chris Currie by lashing into Straker’s net. There was still time for one more drama as Mandurah went down to ten men after Gary Attrill was dismissed for a second yellow card.
Led by wide players Simon Versaico and Jon Mathers, Canning started the second half at full pace as they went in search of a third goal to kill off the game. Greg Newcombe and Rory Mouttet were able to assert the greater control going through the middle where Andy Brown worked tirelessly to keep Mandurah in the game. The Dolphins did press into their final third on several occasions only to find Paul Van Dongen and Gareth Lecky in no mood for compromise. The result looked to be beyond doubt in the 82nd minute when Mouttet’s deep cross was spilt by Straker and in the blink of an eye Partridge had whipped the loose ball over the line to make it three-one. However, within a minute Mandurah hit back through Phil O’Callaghan who cut the ball back onto his right foot before firing past the despairing gloves of Spence and set up a grandstand finish. The Dolphins now threw everything into finding a late equaliser but the closest they’d come would be Christian Paschkewitz’ powerful header which smacked against the bar from a Craig Howard cross. The loss leaves Mandurah hanging on the outcome of Sunday’s meeting between Floreat Athena and Inglewood United before finding out whether there’s room for them in the semi-finals.
GRIFFITHS AT EASE ON THE BIG STAGE
One-time Australia youth international Rostyn Griffiths is eying instant A-League success in today’s Grand Final and an avenue to Socceroos selection. 18-year old Griffiths can claim an A-League winners medal just three games into his Adelaide United career by helping his new team mates overcome the odds against Melbourne Victory at the Telstra Dome. And the midfielder has reignited his national team aspirations since leaving English club Blackburn Rovers to join Adelaide at the start of the month. “Coming back here hopefully gives me an opportunity to be selected or at least looked at,” he told Jonathon Cook of the ‘West Australia’ newspaper. “Adelaide have six players in the squad for the Kuwait game so it’s definitely something that’s on my mind.”
Griffiths arrival in Adelaide coincided with one of the most tumultuous periods in the club’s history, although he maintains he was insulated from the turmoil that prompted coach Aurelio Vidmar’s stunning criticism of “pissant” Adelaide and the “politics” of a 4-0 thrashing by Melbourne. It was quite an introduction for Grittiths, who had just made his debut as a substitute when Vidmar blew up. “These players have been playing together all season and to come in at the business end is quite difficult,” he said. “But we’re in the final now and we get to play Melbourne again, so I’m quite pleased with how it’s going.” Adelaide need no reminding of the horror that unfolded the last time they met Melbourne in a Grand Final two years ago when Archie Thompson bagged five goal in his teams’ 6-0 win.
CAPTAIN COLE TO THE RESCUE AS SWAN HOLD KNIGHTS (by Peter Simcox)
Swan United captain Aaron Cole score deep in stoppage-time to snatch his team a 2-2 from this evenings Night Series encounter with Western Knights at Dorrien Gardens. With the Knights assured of a place in the last four regardless of the outcome coach Paul Price used the outing as match practice for his young guns, fielding just one player who started last weeks win against Sorrento. It was an even opening with neither side creating much in the way of clear cut chances until the 10th minute when Andy O’Neill’s shot from an acute angle was pushed over the crossbar by goalkeeper Robert Pedri. This woke the young Knights from their slumber and three minutes later Luka Jukic’s cross from the right was headed wide at close-range by Mario Marcinko. With the game now opening up Dom Ando sailed a long-range effort just high, and not too long after Michael de Souza’s cross was caught under the bar by Chris Ramsey. Swan were enjoying their best spell of the evening and on 33 minutes Shane Webb and Matthew Xerri combined to put the ball with Damian Scali, whose speculative long-range shot had Pedri scrambling. Against the run of play the Knights grabbed the lead two minutes later as Swan failed to clear a Jukic free-kick which fell for Adam Francis to fire in from the edge of the 18-yard box.
The game began to get physical after the break, leading referee David Costelo to step in and book several players in order to restore calm. Swan were handed a lifeline in the 57th minute when Scali’s shot struck Nathan Grego in the arm, referee Costelo had no hesitation at pointing to the spot from where Xerri sent second half ‘keeper Fraser Siddall the wrong way to level the game. This has a positive effect on the black and whites who went close again in the 69th minute, Shane Webb’s cross from the right finding Guest but he nodded wide at the back post. The Knights reclained the lead with a fine 73rd minute counter attack started by substitute David Price, and although Ramsey made a great save to deny Lukic’s he was helpless as De Souza buried the follow-up from 4-metres. It was now end to end and Marcinko was unlucky not to settle the game when he fended off Danyal Bennett only to place wide. Trent Wood and John Monterosso shot past the target while John Mansaray had a volley save by Siddall as Swan frantically threw everything forward. Their reward came with the last roll of the dice as Wood found Scali whose cross from the right was rammed into the net by Cole from 5-metres.
RAMPANT PERTH BLAST INTO SEMI-FINALS (courtesy Football West)
Perth SC have stormed into the last four of the 2009 Night Series by thrashing Sorrento 4-2 in this evenings late game at Dorrien Gardens. Unanswered goals from Todd Howarth, Marco Pelosi and Greg Sharland, who netted twice, and the dismissal of goalkeeper Neil Young had the Gulls wondering what had hit them before second half finishes by Stuart Banks and Glen Thomas brought some respectability to the score line. Ciaran Hughes crashed a 22-metres thunderbolt against the crossbar as Sorrento came out firing on all cylinders. However, the wind was taken out of their sails in the 7th minute when Todd Howarth drove powerfully into the bottom corner after the ball bobbled inviting his way after a goalmouth scramble. Perth doubled their advantage eight minutes later when Marco Pelosi showed a terrific burst of speed to leave a couple of opponents in his wake before letting fly with an angled effort from 22-metres that hit the top corner before Young had time to move. A foul on Pelosi by Steve McDonald earn Perth a free-kick just outside the 18-yard box on 37 minutes which Sharland blasted into the top corner, again leaving Young rooted to the spot. A minutes later it went from bad to worse for Sorrento as referee Kevin Taylor had no choice but to red card Young for his challenge on David Onoforo, and from the spot Sharland drove coolly past replacement ‘keeper Michael Lawson.
The second period started off where the first had ended with Sharland and Onoforo each shooting off target from distance. Sorrento coach Steve Neville brought on Garin Collins and Shaun Kilkelly early in the half as he attempted to somehow get back into the game. Kilkelly had been on the park only minutes when he had a well-struck effort blocked following a Thomas corner. Craig Simpson fired narrowly wide after a patient Perth build-up, before referee Taylor succumbed to injury and was replaced by Ross Sardi. The Gulls reduced the deficit on 66 minutes with Thomas superbly guiding a header over Saldaris and into the back of the net from an exquisite cross. Seven minutes later Todd Harnwell raced onto a long ball only to be brought down by Saldaris, who was duly booked, and Banks confidently stroked the spot-kick into the bottom corner to give the visitors some hope of a miracle. McDonald’s snap shot from 10-metres forced Saldaris to get down smartly and save, while Collins volleyed high and wide when he had time to take a touch. Phil Arnold wasted a wonderful chance to make sure of the points when he turned down the opportunity to shoot from 12-metres in an all-action finish. Sorrento had a couple of half-chances in the dying moments but in the end they were left to rue a poor first-half as they exited the tournament.
THE WEEKEND IN PREVIEW : PREMIER LEAGUE
The 2009 McInerney Ford Night Series reaches fever pitch this weekend with five teams vying for the three undecided semi-final places. The round five commences with this evening when Western Knights take on Swan United (6.30pm) at Dorrien Gardens. A resurgent Knights’ are already assured of a spot in the knock-out phase courtesy of a quartet of wins in which Anthony Campbell, David Micevski and Aaron Badahori have been the star performers. Swan coach Paul Lincoln has been delighted with the contributions of 17-year old Shane Webb and attacking midfielder Andy O’Neill, while the return of Damien Scali provides the side with some much needed stability and experience.
Some of the best players in the state are on display in the late game at Dorrien Gardens where Perth SC and Sorrento (8.30pm) battle it out for second place in Group B and the semi-final appearance which comes with it. Antonio Naglieri, Michael Black and Craig Simpson have played crucial roles in Perth’s recovery from an opening round loss and subsequent charge up the table. Sorrento were provided a timely reminder last weekend that they are not invincible and with Michael Ord, Danny Cain and Glen Thomas back in contention it’s going to take a lot for Perth to stop them.
Mandurah City are expected to account for Canning City (6.30pm) and progress to the last four from Saturday’s opening game at Alfred Skeet Oval. Although victory will take Mandurah through, coach Stuart Currie isn’t counting his chickens just yet with Christian Paschewitz, Ryan Townsend, Marko Aleksic and possibly captain Andy Brown amongst those unavailable for duty. English import Floyd Duffy, signed from Tilbury FC, is likely to make his starting debut for Canning, who welcome back to the line-up Paul Van Dongen, Duncan Hind, Jon Mathers and Duaane Hepburn.
Pride will be the key motivator when Armadale and Cockburn City (8.30pm) meet in the late game at Alfred Skeet Oval. Each have a point to prove following a flat start to the year that’s yielded a solitary win from their four starts. Armadale showed tremendous fighting spirit by coming from two-down to earn a point against Floreat Athena and it’s exactly that character that Brad Hassell will want to see more of in 2009. The experience of Paul Natale, Michael Mirco and Anthony Periera was vital when Cockburn finally opened their pre-season account by downing Canning City last week.
Sunday’s double-header opens with the winner-take-all showdown between Floreat Athena and Inglewood United (6.00pm) at Litis Stadium. The equation is simple - an Inglewood will take them into the semi-finals whereas a draw is enough to continue Floreat’s campaign. Jason Colli, Mladen Kovacevic and Matt Wardle have been in fine form for Inglewood, who’ll unfortunately be without suspended striker Rory Grant. Floreat have run hot and cold of late and should they emerged victors it’ll be down to the efforts of Paul Vatistas and Jason Barrera along with striker Daniel Neiderberger, whose chimed in with four goals in as many games.
The sixth and final game of the weekend has ECU Joondalup up against Stirling Lions (8.00pm) at Litis Stadium. There may be little riding on the outcome but both remain committed to the cause and want to end the tournament on a positive note. Joondalup will fancy their chances with Anthony Jones, Scott Blackmore, Darren Quincroft and goalkeeper Bobson Koroma again available for selection. There’s been steady improvement throughout the tournament by a young Stirling squad in which central midfielders Jordan Rhodes and Alan Muir have shouldered a heavy responsibility.
THE WEEKEND IN PREVIEW : FIRST DIVISION
The fifth and final round of the First Division Night Series starts with Balcatta against Ashfield (6.30pm) at Litis Stadium on Saturday. The tournament as been a disappointment for both sides who are still searching for their first point having conceded at an alarming frequency. The late fixture promises to be a cracker as Fremantle Spirit and Wanneroo City (8.30pm) battle it out for a place in the semi-finals. Veterans Dale Wingell and Vas Kalogeracos have important roles to play for the port side in their attempt to get the edge over a Wanneroo line-up lead by seasoned campaigner Brian Cairney and young goal scoring ace Robbie Cuthbert.
Alfreed Skeet Oval is the place to be on Sunday when South West Phoenix and Morley Windmills will stake their claim to a semi-finals berth. Phoenix knack of converting chances into goals should get them over the line against a hot and cold running Bayswater City (6.00pm), however, they’ll have to do it without star striker Steve Suttie, who is serving suspension. In order for Morley to progress they must buck the odds and not only become the first team to beat Forrestfield United (8.00pm) in 2009 but do so by a considerable margin.
Gosnells City remains an outside chance of qualifying for the last four from Group A but to do they must take maximum points from an as yet unbeaten Rockingham City (6.00pm) when they meet at Dorrien Gardens. Queens Park and Dianella White Eagles (8.00pm) come face-to-face in the late fixture at Dorrien Gardens. A lot has changed at Queens Park in recent weeks but despite an improved defensive record they will find it hard to contain a Dianella line-up for whom Rodrigo Aguirre scored twice last time out.
KNIGHTS LURE KAMASZ TO MELBOURNE
Cockburn City young gun Josh Kamasz has signed with Victorian Premier League side Melbourne Knights for the 2009 season. The 23-year old has been an outstanding contributor for the Cockerels over recent seasons, with his attacking flair and keen eye for goal establishing himself as one of the most dangerous left sided players in the State League. He cited the desire for a new challenge, and a change of scenery and lifestyle to help reinvigorate his love for playing football as the main reasons for his move. “It’s a fresh start coming over here, and I’m confident that I can get back to playing good football as I did as a junior,” Kamasz said from Melbourne. “You just have to be dedicated and focused, and I’m ready for the challenge ahead”.
A State youth representative and winner of the State League’s Rookie of the Year in 2002, Kamasz has set his sights on playing regular first team football with the Knights this season. “At this stage, just to get back playing well, week in week out and have a good season here at the Melbourne Knights,” he commented. “Of course, it would be great to step up into the A-League, and I think Melbourne is the right place to try and get there. It’s going to take a lot of hard work to get there, but I’m ready for the challenge.” It could turn out to be an enlightening year for Kamasz at Knights Stadium, with Socceroo Mark Viduka reportedly considering a guest stint at the club where he spent his junior years.
Kamasz joins a growing list of State League players now plying their trade in the VPL, including Tommi Tomich, Shane Nunes and Jerry Karpeh. He’ll be particularly looking forward to the game against South Melbourne, which features former team mate Nunes and good friend Tomich. “I’ve actually been staying with Tommi for a few weeks now as we are close mates,” Kamasz said. “I’ve also been speaking with and seeing Shane over here as we’re good mates and he and Tommi play at South Melbourne together. From what I hear, it should be a big year for Shane and I wish him all the best.”
Although he will leave a significant hole in the left side of the Cockburn attack, Kamasz will be keeping close tabs on the results of his former club. He believes the clubs has what it takes to return to the top half of the league after a disappointing 2008 and highlighted coach Mirco Jelicic’s ability to foster the development of young players, which has been an important philosophy of the club in recent years. “Mircs is a great coach and anything is possible for Cockburn this year,” said Kamasz. “He’s great at bringing the young boys through and if they listen to him and put his words into actions, they’ll do well. Then you also have the experience of the older lads, and if it gels right, it could be a good year and I wish them all the best.”
SUTTON CALLS TIME
Adrian Sutton, one of the best players of the modern era, has formally announced his retirement from football. A former State team captain, 35-year old Sutton had been toying with hanging up the boots for some time before deciding during the week that his playing days were at an end. “After close to 30 years playing I was losing the passion for games and felt that I was unable to play at the level I would expect,” said the Bayswater City defender. “Also, my two children are due to start playing soccer this year and time was becoming an issue.”
New Zealand-born Sutton began his senior career at the age of 20 with a three-season spell at Manawatu that was followed by spells with Nelson and Mirimar. Time in England preceded his moving to Perth in late 1999 when he linked up with Floreat Athena. “After a year in London struggling with the lifestyle my wife and I decided to come to Perth to visit family and never left. I rocked up to training one night at Floreat and slowly worked my way in to the team,” explained Sutton, who’d call Litis Stadium home for the next seven seasons.
Floreat were never far from the top of the Premier League pile throughout Sutton’s stay but other than a Night Series winner medal is all he has to show for the teams successes. “Winning the 2000 Night Series was absolutely fantastic in only my sixth game for the club, and while we played in a lot of other finals unfortunately we have nothing to show for it,” said Sutton, who was voted the clubs player of the year five times in seven seasons. “It was also an honour to win a few Fairest and Best trophies at Floreat but to have collected a few more trophies with the team would have been more enjoyable.”
Such was the impact Sutton had at Floreat that in mid-2000 he was called into the New Zealand squad for the Merdeka Cup tournament. “Getting selected to play for New Zealand was a massive honour and to travel and spend two weeks with the team in Malaysia was fantastic,’ he said. “It was a little disappointing to only play one match, against Malaysia Under-22’s, and sit on the bench for three others but we had a strong squad which included Ryan Nelson (captain of Blackburn Rovers), Chris Killen (Celtic) and also Brad Scott, who is now with Floreat.”
Sutton also donned the black and gold of Western Australian on a handful of occasions and in mid-2003 was presented the captain’s armband for a friendly with the Iraq national team. “I actually rate playing for WA and captaining the team against Iraq as a bigger honour then playing for New Zealand. The State League is a close knit community and it’s a huge achievement to get selected to play for WA,” he commented. “Iraq is probably the best team I have played against and to hold them to a late goal in a 1-0 loss was a massive achievement. I made a lot of great friends from other clubs while representing WA and always enjoyed the trips away.”
By 2007 it was time for a change of scene and Sutton headed briefly to Perth SC before relocating to Bayswater, when he moved out of midfield and into the centre of the park. “I had mixed success in midfield but seven goals from 50 games is not too bad a return,” said Sutton, winner of Bayswater’s Fairest and Best award in his first season. “The first year at Bayswater was tough as we had three different coaches and then last year we threw away some crucial games that I believe cost us the league. With only one team going up and some less than adequate pitches, it’s an extremely hard league to win.”
Down the years Sutton played alongside and against some quality players and didn’t have to think long about who he rated the best in each category. “Troy Bernard was colossal and such a huge loss to us all and will never be forgotten,” he said of his Floreat team mate, who passed away in 2004. “As for opponents, playing for the State against Damian Mori and Bobby Despotovski when they were with Perth Glory was intense. Andreas Oliveira was a little bugger to mark when he first started, and Branimir Mikulic in his days at Cockburn was tough as nails - and I have the scar to prove it!”
The wealth of football knowledge and experience Sutton has accumulated will now be channelled into coaching at junior level. “I’ll be coaching my daughter in the Tuart Hill under-7’s this season and my son will be in the under-6’s so there’s still plenty of involvement for me in the game. Currently, I don’t really see myself doing any senior coaching but you can never say never,” he said. “I don’t really know what else I’ll be doing on weekends - maybe play some more golf and make some plans at home.”
JUKIC STEPS UP FOR GLORY
Talented youngster Andrija Jukic will take the next step in his blossoming football career after signing a two-year deal to play for Perth Glory. The exciting midfielder was part of Glory’s National Youth League set-up last season where his outstanding contributions were rewarded with four appearances for the senior side. “I love playing football and have been working hard to get better and secure an A-League contract with Glory and I now can’t wait for next season to begin,” Jukic said, who’ll be cheered on by his parents and five siblings when he wears Glory colours next season. “I come from a big football family and they have always been very encouraging and have supported me all the way and I’m sure they’ll be as excited as me when I get my chance next season,” he added.
Jukic, who captained the Youth side for the majority of the season, turned in some impressive displays including a hat-trick against Sydney FC. First team coach David Mitchell has kept a close eye on the 22-year old after seeing him in action first hand during Glory’s post-season tour of China last year. “Andrija is a terrific young player and I have been impressed with the way he has continued to develop in the Youth team set-up,” Mitchell said. “Gareth Naven (Youth team coach) spoke very highly of Andrija and the effort he made throughout the season both on and off the pitch and that dedication has paid off. I’m confident he will be a solid contributor for Perth and make a big impression in the A-League next season.”
COYNE WON’T RETURN WITHOUT VERBEEK’S CONSENT
Colchester United captain Chris Coyne will not be following Jason Culina’s lead to the A-League unless the move is sanctioned by Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek. The Dutchman has made it clear players returning to the A-League will be doing harm to their chances of representing Australia and that’s not something Coyne wants to be doing. “I’d certainly have a chat with Pim about the situation where I to consider an offer to come home, it’s something I’d have to sort out,” Coyne told ‘the World Game’ website. “I wouldn’t make a commitment to anybody back home without talking to him first. Being a Socceroo is something I’ve fought for during my career and worked hard to achieve. It’s come late for me and obviously there’s quite a bit at stake.”
Perth Glory coach David Mitchell sounded Coyne out about heading back to Perth in the lead-up to the Socceroos recent game in Japan. “I spoke to Mitch in Yokohama, it was only a brief chat and it’s a bit premature to suggest I’m on way back,” he said. “First, and foremost, I’m a Colchester player and at this stage I expect to be kick starting next season with them. I think the link between myself and Glory has probably been blown a little out of proportion. I still have plenty of time on my contract with Colchester - so I don’t have to make hasty decisions. I need to speak to people I trust to come to the right decisions and I also have to be honest with clubs back home.”
Coyne remains is a fan of the A-League and expects to make his imprint on the national competition somewhere further down the track. “The A-League is better much stronger, I follow it on TV over here in England and I’ve liked what I’ve seen,” commented the defender. “It’s an exciting time with the Asian Champions League, and there’s plenty for players like myself to think about in terms of coming back and trying to put something back into the game in our home country. Obviously if Socceroos players come back them it will help strengthen it even more.”
Coyne has played little over a dozen games for Colchester so far this season but is confident of finishing the campaign with a flourish. “I’m about a week away from playing now. I’m short on match fitness and that’s what I need now,” he said. “Coming to Japan and getting injured was a blow. It was innocuous really, but after the training session I knew something wasn’t right and had to call the physio … I’m now just looking forward to the Uzbekistan game. But I need to be playing some proper football first to put myself in the frame."
RUKAVYTSYA IS YOUR PLAYER OF THE YEAR
The West Australian football community has voted striker Nikita Rukavytsya as Perth Glory’s stand-out performer of the recently completed A-League season. Rukavytsya, who last month transferred to Dutch club FC Twente, was by far the most popular choice in the footballwa.net poll that asked ‘Who was Perth Glory’s best player in season 2008/09?’ An impressive two thirds of the votes cast went to Rukavytsya, who finished well clear of former Ivory Coast international Euegene Dai (21%). Midfield general Adriano Pellegrino (12%) was third with team captain Jamie Coyne (11%) and young goalkeeper Tando Velaphi (10%) in hot pursuit. Club veteran Jamie Harnwell and Wayne Srhoj (6%) rounded out the field. A total of 235 votes were received in the 20-day polling period.
NO GLORY IN SOCCEROOS
Perth Glory have been overlooked by Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek when selecting 24-players for next week’s Asian Cup qualifier against Kuwait at Canberra. Defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley, who played last season with Glory but has since moved to Newcastle Jets, has been named in the squad which features no less than a dozen players who’ll take part in this weekend’s A-League Grand Final between Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United. Australia are currently third in Group B, and Kuwait fourth, with the top two teams qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup 2011 in Qatar.
The Australia squad to play Kuwait is Fabian Barbiero, Robert Cornthwaite, Eugene Galekovic, Scott Jamieson, Daniel Mullen, Paul Reid (Adelaide United), Dean Heffernan, Matt Simon, Danny Vukovic (Central Coast Mariners), Danny Allsopp, Bill Celeski, Tom Pondeljak, Michael Theoklitos, Archie Thompson, Rodrigo Vargas (Melbourne Victory), Tarek Elrich, Ben Kantarovski, Matthew Thompson, Nikolai Topor-Stanley (Newcastle Jets), Matthew McKay, Craig Moore, Mitch Nichols, Michael Zullo (Queensland Roar) and Shannon Cole (Sydney FC).
WILLIAMS SET FOR SENIOR WALES DEBUT
Middlesbrough starlet Rhys Williams is poised to collect his first cap for Wales, who play Poland tomorrow evening. The 20-year old defender was originally named in the Welsh under-21 squad but found himself promoted to the john Toshack’s senior list following injury to James Collins and Craig Morgan. Williams, who recently signed a new four-year contract with Middlesbrough, has been playing the past month loan to promotion chasing League Championship outfit Burley.
DJULBIC CAN’T WAIT TO GET STARTED
Defender Dino Djulbic hopes the nightmare start to his professional career in Germany will make soon way for a dream spell. Djulbic, who was a junior at Rot Weiss Ahlen before moving to Western Australian and joining Perth SC a decade ago, injured a quadricep just a week into training and is yet to play game. “When I got here I couldn’t sleep, I wasn;t eating right and I lost five kilograms just trying to adjust to everything,” he told Jonathon Cook of the ‘West Australian’ newspaper. “The I got injured, so it hasn’t been the best … I’ve been better.”
Scans last Tuesday showed the quad tear was improving and Djulbic hopes to be able to return to training this week and force his way into contention for Friday’s away game at Hansa Rostock. And there could be a silver lining for the no-nonsense defender with Bosnia coch Miroslav Blazevic making contact about the possibility of calling him into the national team. “He was supposed to come and watch me play but I got injured,” said Djulbic, who was born in Bosnia. “I’ve got to ring him when I’m playing again.”
The frustration of being sidelined as been eased by Djulbic’s return to a club he knows very well. He has even moved into accommodation in Neubeckum, the town he called home more than a decade ago. “I met a couple of the players I used to play with when I was 15,” said Djulbic, now 26. “It’s helped me settle in. I’ve got an apartment now and people have helped me get organised with a car and stuff like that.” Djulbic, who played 27 times for Glory, joined second tier club Alhen on a one and a half year deal last month.
GLORY POISED TO SEVERE TIES WITH MANCHESTER CITY
Perth Glory’s link with Manchester City is expected to end next month due to a lack of contact between the clubs. Glory signed a deal to join City’s global alliance in November 2007, however, Tony Sage told the ‘West Australian’ there had been no contact with the English club since their change of ownership last September. “We’ve made contact with them but we’ve got nothing back,” Sage said. “I don’t think we’ll get anything from them and our agreement lapses in March.” Glory coach David Mitchell spent time at City last year, but plans to host them in a pre-season friendly in Perth failed to eventuate.
SWAN PAY THE PENALTY AGAINST JOONDALUP (by Tom Della Vedova)
ECU Joondalup have knocked over Swan United 2-0 in the Group A’s battle of the cellar dwellers at Dorrien Gardens this evening. The outcome was determined via the penalty spot with Joondalup converting their first half opportunity while Swan squandered theirs. Joondalup, who went into the game minus star pair Tommy Amphlett and Ian McMurray, started the better with Kenny Weston testing Chris Ramsay from long-range, and Scott Bushby’s goal bound effort was pushed wide by the Swan custodian soon after. The resulting corner played in by Jon Higgins came off Brian McDonald’s head and struck Andy O’Neill on the arm, leading referee Michael Nugus to point straight to the spot from where Adam Pigrum blasted straight down the line to give Joondalup the lead. Swans’ chances of getting back into the game were dealt a blow when influential midfielder Tom Shepheard limped off with a leg injury after 20 minutes. It was to be the northerners who came closest to scoring close to the end of the half when Higgins raced on to Bushby’s flick and burst past Aaron Cole but his right-foot effort flew harmlessly over the bar.
Paul Lincoln’s decision to switch Brendan Knox from defence to midfield for the second half had the desired effect as Swan began to battle their way back into the contest. O’Neill’s cross provided John Mansaray a good chance but the midfielder headed just over the crossbar. The black and white were presented a perfect chance to equalise after 75 minutes when generously awarded a penalty after Higgins was adjudged to have committed a foul on Matthew Xerri, however, substitute Damien Scali was only able to smash his spot kick against the frame of the goal. Swan became increasingly desperate to notch what would have been only their second goal of the tournament but Scali was unable to hit the target from further chances. Mansaray came close to finding the elusive goal but his 87th minute effort lacked the angle required to beat goalkeeper Dafyd Jones. Joondalup made sure of the win with a breakaway goal on the stroke of full-time, Martyn Ashworth setting up fellow substitute Craig Cheesman for a tap in as the tired Swan defence failed to track back. Weston and Scott Bushby were impressive in the centre of the pitch for Joondalup, while the endeavours of Cole, Knox and Mansaray were highlights for Swan.
PERTH OUTGUN STIRLING (by Tom Della Vedova)
Perth SC set up a must-win showdown with Sorrento next week by defeating Stirling Lions 3-2 in Sunday evenings match at Dorrien Gardens. The three points gained moves Perth alongside Sorrento on 9 points with the winner of Friday’s game qualifying for the knock out stage of the 2009 Night Series. Some good early chances were created by the hosts with Phil Arnold flashing a dangerous ball across the penalty area, and new Scottish signing Marco Pelosi smashed high of the crossbar. However, it was Stirling who took the lead after 14 minutes when Jordan Rhodes skipped around Craig Simpson and arrowed a low shot into Gareth Deeg’s bottom corner from the edge of the penalty arc. The lead was to be very short-lived, however, as within a minute Michael Black and Pelosi worked the ball out wide to Todd Howarth whose cross was glanced in at the near post by Antonio Naglieri. Perth took the lead on 26 minutes when Naglieri’s shot was only deflected as far as Geo Human, and the young striker trickled the ball past Dino Pacella as the opposing defence appealed in vain for offside. An entertaining first half finished with the sides on a level footing after Stirling midfielder Alan Muir smashed in a 25-metre free-kick shortly before the break.
The match dynamic was altered on 64 minutes when Graham Normanton brought striker David Onoforo off the bench. Within two minutes of being introduced, Onoforo gave his team the lead when he pounced on a loose ball in the 18-yard box, rounded Darko Ilomanoski and easily finished past Pacella. Five minutes later Arnold missed a chance to score against his old side when his penalty kick, awarded for a foul by Pacella on Greg Sharland, was saved by the Stirling ‘keeper and Howarth was unable to hit the target from the rebound. Perth again came close in the 80th minute when Onoforo’s diving header from Pelosi’s cross hit the underside of the bar and bounced away to safety. The match finished with Perth enjoying comfortable spells of possession but unable to find the goal which would have elevated them above Sorrento in the group standings. Michael Black turned in another eye-catching display in midfield for Perth who were also well served by former Scotland youth international Pelosi. New defender Igor Illikj looked commanding in the air for Stirling and will be better for the 70 minutes that he played as he nears full fitness.
JEANS A GOOD FIT FOR BAYSWATER
Ryan Jeans’ hat-trick inspired Bayswater City to a 3-1 win against Balcatta in this evenings First Division Night Series contest at Litis Stadium. A dull opening stanza was finally brought to life after 35 minutes when a well worked midfield exchange took Damian Catalano down the flank to deliver an inch-perfect cross which Jeans headed in from 5-metres. Balcatta then created a couple of great chances to equalise but Alan Rosendale was denied in a one-on-one with goalkeeper Gianni Papali and minutes after Julian Piromalli watched his shot hit the upright. Bayswater made clear their second half intentions with Jeans and Catalano both denied by Ken Ftynohiannis. Bobby Klenkoski brought the teams level on the hour by converting a penalty awarded for Steve Worthy’s foul on the Balcatta striker. This had a galvanising effect on Bayswater who reclaimed the lead within five minutes as Jeans netted for a second time at close-range from a Ryan Frisina cross. The result was put beyond doubt with fifteen minutes remaining when Jeans got his angles right by across Ftynohiannis from 15-metres. Alex Cocking should have reduced the gap son after but scuffed a golden opportunity from close-range shortly before the final whistle.
BROWN SALVAGES MANDURAH A SHARE (courtesy Football West)
An Andy Brown thunderbolt has given Mandurah City a 1-1 draw from their fourth round Night Series fixture with Inglewood United at Alfred Skeet Oval. The result keeps both teams level on points and just one behind top of the table Floreat Athena in the race for the semi-finals. The match was played with high intensity early, setting the scene for a titanic battle between two evenly matched sides that fought tooth and nail for a top four finish last season. Inglewood dominated the contest over 90 minutes, creating far more chances than their opponents, who had less than a handful of chances all night. A 12th minute tackle on Rory Grant lead referee Dave Scragg to present Inglewood a free-kick, however, after consulting with his assistant on the line the referee pointed to the spot from where Mladen Kovacevic sent goalkeeper Phil Straker the wrong way to give Inglewood the lead. Jason Colli complemented the captain’s armband with a terrific display down the right, combining to terrific effect with Danny Richman to cause Mandurah all sorts of problems throughout the game.
Inglewood continued on their merry way after the break with Mladen Kovacevic sending the ball deepito the 18-yeard box where Albert Osei-Tutu showed some exquisite skill with a tremendous volley that just missed the target. Jamie Mitsopolous was by this stage coming into the game with greater frequency thanks to his dynamic pace and skill on the left side of midfield. A rare Mandurah foray into attack almost produced the goods when awarded a free-kick just outside the area from where Rafael Insaurralde crashed his shot into the upright. Mandurah found what they were looking for on 70 minutes when captain Brown capitalised on a loose ball by thundering his shot with the outside of his boot through the Inglewood defence and into the back of the net. The Dolphins almost stole the game in the closing minutes through Phil O’Callaghan who placed the ball the wrong side of the post after being found unmarked at a corner. Play quickly switched to the opposite end thanks to a fine pass out of midfield by substitute Kevin Griffiths that allowed Osei-Tutu to drive forward but before he could rattle off a shot the striker was forced to pull up short with an apparent hamstring injury.
RUKAVYTSYA CLOSES IN ON DUTCH DEBUT
A FC Twente debut could be only days away for striker Nikita Rukavytsya, who left Perth Glory only a month ago to ply his trade in the Netherlands. Rukavytsya, 21, was on the bench for his club’s mid-week UEFA Cup win over French giants Olympique de Marseille when Marko Arnautovic scored the games only goal after 22 minutes. This followed another appearance as an unused substitute in last weekend’s 2-1 victory over FC Volendam in the Eredivisie, and a goal in the reserves 3-2 win against De Graafschap. “I’m just going to do my best, train hard and hopefully I get a chance,” Rukavytsya told FC Twente TV. “I always dreamed of playing in Europe and Twente gave me an opportunity. And I came here and it looks like I did well so I’m very happy to be here. The club is great, it’s obviously one of the best in Holland and I’m very proud to be here.”
HULL MANAGER PUSHES GARCIA TO PLAY FOR AUSTRALIA
Attacker Richard Garcia has credited his Hull City manager with driving him towards Socceroo selection. At a time when many club bosses are reluctant to release players for international fixtures because of the risk of injury and fatigue, Hull’s Phil Brown has done the opposite by encouraging Garcia to strive to play for Australia. Garcia left Perth at the age of 15 to pursue a professional career which has taken him to West Ham United, Leyton Orient, Colchester United and Hull before being receiving his first senior international call up earlier this year.
Now 27, Garcia is finally reaping the rewards after gaining his third cap in Australia’s scoreless draw with Japan in Yokohama recently. “He was really pushing me to get in the international set up. He thought it would better me as a player, and I think it has to a certain extent,” Garcia told Jonathon Cook of the ‘West Australian’ newspaper. “He was pushing me to be the best that I could be and trying to get me recognition and getting people to come and watch. I think his drive and determination to get me to this level has probably paid off.”
A stop-start season with Hull as been all go recently for Garcia, whose contributions against Chelsea and Sheffield United have put him in contention for Monday’s home game with Tottenham Hotspur. And continued performances for Hull would keep Garcia in the running for a place in the Socceroos’ World Cup squad. “It’s in the back of m mind,” said Garcia. “I think if I’m doing well for my club it gives the manager a good platform to view me and have his ideas about me. I just hope to be involved as much as I can and hopefully show what I can do.”
Garcia’s success at club level has put on hold any thoughts of becoming the latest Australian to return home for a spell in the A-League. And while such a move might not be on the immediate horizon, Garcia, who played locally for Perth SC, does admit to plans for one day wearing Perth Glory colours. “Home is home and I’ve always wanted to come home at a certain point in my career,” he said. “At the moment I’m playing Premier League and it’s fantastic to be here, so I’ll take as much of that I can and then see what happens after that.”
Hull’s stunning early season form, which included a 2-1 away win over Arsenal, gave way to a run of six winless matches before a recent revival, which included the recent scoreless draw at Chelsea. “I think we’ve turned the corner and we’re looking a little bit more resilient than we were in the last month of so,” he said. “We’ve got to get a few more points and a few more wins under our belt. We’ve got some important games coming up at home and we’ve got to do well in them.” Hull are placed thirteenth in the 20-team Premier League, just six points clear of the drop zone.
FLOREAT SWEAT ON SEMIS APPEARANCE AS ARMADALE STEAL A POINT
A goal just minutes from the end by Ben Kelly has snatched Armadale a dramatic 3-3 draw from this evenings encounter with Floreat Athena at Litis Stadium. Floreat looked to be home and hosed after Daniel Neiderberger’s second of the night complimented a Brad Scott strike to make it three-one. However, Jason Goodwin, who had given the Reds an early lead, breathed new life into the game by scoring for a second time before Kelly opportunistically brought the teams level with four minutes remaining. Post-game, Floreat boss Michael Roki was far from impressed with his team’s poor defensive showing which leaves them needing a point from next weekend’s final round of games to progress to the semi-finals. “We can’t expect to win games when we concede three goals in 90 minutes,” Roki stated after the match. “We were poor defensively both in midfield and last line and we were made to pay the price for that.”
Armadale were reward for a positive start on 11 minutes when Jason Goodwin evaded a challenge from John Migas to turn goal ward and fire between goalkeeper Simon Madaschi and his near post from 6-metres. This set the scene for Shannon Dally, Marlon Ramirez and Kevin Bissett to have the greater influence on the opening half hour as the visiting side stepped up their search for goals. Ramirez got himself into good position but shot straight into the arms of Madaschi, who nine minutes later did well to keep out Bisset’s close-range header. The pressure was building on Floreat who again had Madaschi to thank on 34 minutes when he saved a fine strike on goal by Dally. Floreat eventually got themselves out of first gear and started creating a few chances of their own. Parity was deservedly restored just a minute out from the break when Neiderberger was placed well to tucked the ball away after goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock blocked a shot from Branimir Mikulic.
Floreat came out with a spring in their step for the second half which had been under way only seven minutes when and Neiderberger beat a couple of opponents then slipped a fine pass to Scott, who speared his shot into the bottom corner from 27-metres. A few minutes later it was Scott who was the provider for Neiderberger to nip in front of his marker and clip a neat shot over the advancing ‘keeper to increase the margin. Unfortunately for Floreat, sloppy defending allowed Armadale to pull one back in the 57th minute when Gary Bunting’s cross from the left was allowed to bobble across the 18-yard box for Goodwin to tap in at the far post. Scott should have sealed the game out when presented with a close-range opening but instead of shooting he took one touch too many and the chance disappeared. Armadale’s refusal to concede the game paid off when Kelly took full advantage of a bouncing ball by stabbing into the net to earn his team a share of the points.
KNIGHTS THROUGH TO SEMI-FINALS (courtesy Football West)
Western Knights secured themselves a place in the last four of the Night Series with a convincing 2-0 victory over Sorrento this evening at Litis Stadium. Goals either side of half-time from David Price and Anthony Campbell earned the Knights all three points, however, it could well have been a different outcome had Steve McDonald not failed to convert a penalty before his teams defences were breached. A scrappy opening preceded the first genuine chance on 18 minutes when Brodie Martin’s clever chip drifted just over Fraser Siddall’s crossbar. The Knights went even closer seven minutes later when Daniel Trim surged free of his marker but watched in frustration as his low angled effort flashed across the face of goal. A golden chance to put the Gulls ahead was wasted on 33 minutes by McDonald whose meekly struck penalty kick allowed Siddall to get down to his left to deny the big man after referee Ton Klaver deemed Aaron Bahadori’s challenge on Todd Harnwell to be illegal. The ball was quickly channelled to the other end where Campbell somehow drilled wide from 10-metres. However, the Knights got their reward on 41 minutes when Daniel Trim’s mis-kick dropped kindly for Price who hammered his left-foot effort into the bottom corner from 14-metres.
Sorrento started the second period at full pace but it was the Knights who netted on 52 minutes through Campbell’s powerful close-range header that resulted from a terrific Badahori cross from the left. There was no looking back now for the Knights as Campbell’s looping header went just wide, before Stuart Ferguson glanced a header narrowly off target from a corner. Paul Price’s men looked likely to increase their lead at any moment and on the hour the dominant David Micevski burst forward to arrow his left footer towards the bottom corner to which Neil Young produced a fine save. Campbell almost got his second of the night moments but Young did well to get down at his near post and deny the big striker after a clever run. The one-way nature of the game continued with Campbell heading high at a corner on 70 minutes. The Gulls defence was given a temporarily respite but Stuart Montgomery should have done better tan blaze over the crossbar from 8-metres, while Steve Porter forced a good save from Siddall not long after. But it just wasn’t to be their night and Price and substitute George Tchami both might have added to Sorrento’s misery in the closing minutes.
WINDMILLS SCRAPE PAST ASHFIELD
Morley Windmills narrowly defeated neighbouring Ashfield 1-0 in a dull First Division Night Series encounter at Dorrien Gardens. With Morley needing victory to stay in play-off contention and Ashfield seeking their first pre-season point, both sides adopted a cautious approach early on with neither willing to commit too many players forward. Ashfield should have gone ahead in the 35th minute when a mix-up between Trevor Hatton and goalkeeper Aaron Holloway allowed Mick McGrath a free shot on goal which he sprayed disappointingly wide from 5-metres. The arm wrestle for control continued into the second half with Edward Walsh’s influence when coming out of midfield swining the balance in Windmills favour. And with their central defensive pairing of With Hatton and Alan Nanini in fine form Ashfield struggled to create much of great substance. The deadlock was finally broken in the 83rd minute when Julio Barendilla delivered the ball into the 18-yard box where Ashfield’s failure to clear was pounced on by Walsh whose low, hard shot gave goalkeeper Mat Darling no chance. It was only really now that Ashfield began to spark in the final third but this was one game Windmills were not about to throw away.
THE WEEKEND IN PREVIEW : PREMIER LEAGUE
The fourth round of 2009 McInerney Ford Night Series fixtures commence this evening with Floreat Athena playing host to Armadale (6.30pm) at Litis Stadium. The goal scoring exploits of Daniel Neiderberger and Brad Scott have taken Floreat to the top of the Group B pile and many are tipping Michael Roki’s side to extend their winning run to three weeks. Armadale, by contrast, have not won since the opening round and are languishing in fifth place with little chance of making the play-offs.
The two form sides of Group B, Western Knights and Sorrento (8.30pm), meet in the game of the week at Litis Stadium on Friday. Having not conceded in 270 minutes of pre-season football, and with captain Todd Harnwell and new recruit Ciaran Hughes banging in the goals with regularly, the Gulls have not surprisingly been installed as pre-game favourite. The Knights also have had little trouble scoring but with midfield general Luka Jukic and striker Mario Marcinko suspended it’s going to take something special for them to claim the points.
Canning City and Cockburn City (6.30pm) get Saturday’s double-header at Alfred Skeet Oval under way. Spirits are high in the Canning camp following last week’s historic win over Armadale and Frank Longstaff will relish the opportunity of pitting his side against one of the top flight’s longest serving clubs. Team captain Johnny Mirco along with Llewelyn Bake and Anthony Pereira have important roles to play for a Cockburn side that was unfortunate not to earn a point last week against Inglewood United.
Saturday’s last game at Alfred Skeet Oval puts Mandurah City up against Inglewood United (8.30pm) in a winner take all blockbuster. The two teams sit jointly in second spot on the Group B table and three points gained from this game will take them one giant step closer to the semi-finals. Mandurah are on the rebound from a loss to Floreat Athena and will need big contributions from Phil O’Callaghan, Ryan Townsend and captain Andy Brown. Danny Kovacevic takes a well-earned rest as Lee Bamber brings into his line-up veteran defender Shane Pryce and young guns Matt Wardle, Alex Stamatiadis and Danny Richman.
ECU Joondalup and Swan United (6.00pm) continue the search for their first point of the tournament when they open the Sunday fixtures at Dorrien Gardens. Resources at Joondalup are stretched to the limit this week with captain Ian McMurray and young attacker Tommy Amphlett both overseas while defensive partners Scott Blackmore and Anthony Jones are out serving suspension. Swan are yet to get out of first gear but the recent performances of Aaron Cole, John Mansaray and Chris Ramsey have given their supporters good reason to be optimistic.
It’s imperative Perth SC beat Stirling Lions (8.00pm) in the late game at Dorrien Gardens to stand any chance of overhauling Sorrento and Western Knights at the top of the table. Craig Simpson has been in superb touch during Perth’s first three games and coach Graham Normanton has been similarly delighted with the contributions of rookie teenager Michael Black and Oliver Swords. Alan Muir returns to add experience in the Stirling engine room as former Red Star Belgrade youth defender Igor Ilikj lines up alongside Darko Ilmanoski and Danny Stoitis for the first time.
THE WEEKEND IN PREVIEW : FIRST DIVISION
The fourth round of First Division Night Series fixtures opens with a meeting of eastern corridor rivals Gosnells City and Queens Park (6.30pm) this evening at Dorrien Gardens. Morley Windmills are expected to take the points and keep themselves in the frame for the play-offs when they meet neighbouring Ashfield (8.30pm) in the late game. Balcatta will attempt to break their three games losing streak with victory over Bayswater City (6.00pm) on Sunday at Litis Stadium. Dianella White Eagles appear to have finally hit their straps and go in search of a second successive win when they encounter Wanneroo City (8.00pm) in the late fixture.
The First Division tournament concludes with a blockbuster double-header at Alfred Skeet Oval on Sunday. The perfect win record of either Forrestfield United and South West Phoenix (6.00pm) will be spoilt when they meet in the top of the table Group B showdown which opens proceedings. This is followed by Group A leader Rockingham City against second-placed Fremantle Spirit (8.00pm) in what promises to be a pulsating derby encounter. A place in the semi-finals is all but assured for the victor, while the vanquished is going to have to sweat it out in next weekend’s final round before their fate is decided.
CANNING SWITCH JUST THE TICKET FOR MATHERS
Jon Mathers could not be happier about his summer transfer to Canning City. The lively defender admits to having concerns about leaving Western Knights shortly after winning the 2008 Cup Final, but they were quickly dispelled by the warm reception he received on arrival at Willetton Sportsman Club. "Most players feel a bit apprehensive about moving clubs - you wonder am I going to be liked, how will the players respond, etc - but I was made to feel at home from the first day I arrived at Canning," said Mathers. "The transition as been easy, the boys and coaching staff have made me feel welcome and part of the squad ... I can not fault the club."
The opportunity to come under the tutelage of long-time mentor Frank Longstaff was the deciding factor that led Mathers to join Canning. "Frank and I have known each other since I was thirteen and have stayed in contact ever since," explained the 22-year old. "I owe a lot to Frank - he showed a lot of faith in me at a young age and representing Western Australia at Under-14, 15 and 16 levels under him was a highlight. During that time my passion for the game really developed and I attribute that largely to Frank, so when the opportunity came to be under his wing again, I simply could not turn it away."
Leaving the Knights after two productive seasons was one of the hardest footballing decisions has had to make. "I made many friends there and have a lot of respect for the club so naturally it was not an easy decision," he explained. "Last seasons' Cup Final win was definitely something I will never forget. I tore my quad about two weeks out from the game and with the clubs support and a lot of determination I played. That highlighted how much faith the club put in me - the care and support they show to their players isn't something you can buy, and it is this quality that made the decision to move on very hard."
Mathers feels blessed to have played two seasons under coaches Ronnie Campbell and Willie Kelly. "They are two of the best coaches going around," he said. "The two years I served under them definitely improved me as a player - they draw out your strengths and improve your weaknesses, and make you take responsibility for your actions. Defensively, my game improved largely along with my confidence. But Ronnie and Willie didn't just improve my game and enjoyment of football - they also helped me develop as a person, and I'm proud to have them both as friends and mentors."
Mathers has been impressed by the application shown by his new team mates in pre-season and throughout the Night Series. "In the short while I've been at Canning it's clearly evident that the boys are not here to just make up the numbers," he said. "Personally, and I'm sure this is shared by the entire club, I want to make the top five. The Night Series is a chance for us to find our feet and see how we compare to the other teams, for the new players to gel and for Frank and the coaching staff to experiment and iron out the creases. I believe we have the squad that can make the top five - it is now up to us to make it happen."
2009 will be the first time Canning have lined-up amongst the State League's elite and Mathers is confident they have what it takes to remain there. "Staying in the Premier League is our number one goal - the club has come a long way to get here and we are not going to let it slip away," he said. "A lot of teams will pay the price for underestimating us; you can be guaranteed no one will have an easy game against Canning. The boys have a great attitude and strong team cohesion - and there are no individuals - and these two factors alone have the ability to set us apart from the rest."
IMPROVEMENT THE NAME OF THE GAME AT QUEENS PARK
It won't be long before Queens Park opens their season 2009 account according to defender Cameron Richins. The club is slowly getting it together after a tumultuous start to the year and their first win of the new campaign is only a matter of time. "We haven't had a good Night Series so far so a win against either Gosnells or Dianella is important," commented Richins, who is targeting the final two pre-season fixtures as a launch pad to the season proper. "No one likes getting beaten and a win or two would lift the players spirits coming into the home and away season."
Richins acknowledges Mike Brazil's decision to relinquish the coaching reigns a few weeks back had an unsettling effect on the team. "The sudden departure of Mike was quiet a shock, we really weren't expecting it. Mike did what he thought was best for himself and the club and that's why he has walked away. I'd like to wish him all the best he is a good coach and a good person," said the 22-year old. "The Night Series hasn't been the sort of start we'd have liked and with a lot of last years' players leaving it's going to be a re-building season for us."
A nine-goal thrashing from Fremantle Spirit was the last straw for Brazil who split from Queens Park within days. "We went into that game with a few players suspended and injured which left Mike very little to choose from and he ended up having to play people out of position," explained Richins. "Peter Johnson stepped in to take over and with a bit of shuffling we competed well for the first thirty minutes against Wanneroo but then conceded three quick goals and just didn't get back in the game."
Queens Park gave a much stronger account of themselves on Sunday evening against Rockingham City, who ran out narrow 1-0 winners. "With a few more players back in the side we really gave them a good run and could have walked away with a win had we taken our chances," Richins said. "It was a tough game coming off two big losses but we knew if we gave it our all for the 90 minutes then we could end up with a result. Going down to ten players after about half an hour made it tougher for us but we worked hard and to be fair a draw would have been the right result."
Richins has been on the scene for a couple of years with Queens Park and is confident their young squad can improve on last season, when they finished second from bottom. "A few players have stepped up from the reserves for us and there are also a few that have come in from other clubs," said the right back. "The average age of the first team is around 19 so we are a young team, but a team that is willing to learn. Come the start of the home and away season we'll be ready to compete with the best the First Division has to offer."
Queens Park have no desire to be involved in another battle to avoid the wooden spoon and are gunning for a place in the middle of the pack. "Queens Park are like any other club in the league in that we want to finish higher than last year," commented Richins. "When you don't have to worry whether or not you'll stay up you can really focus on the way you're playing and get the results you want. We believe that mid-table is not out of the question, and our performance against Rockingham is indication of that."
This week Queens Park take on eastern corridor neighbour Gosnells City in the early Friday fixture at Dorrien Gardens. "I've seen Gosnells play a couple of times this year and they push the ball around well, look to get it wide a lot and work a lot off the ball which means we'll need to be tight and close them down quickly," Richins said. "We'll be out there to win and given the way we pushed Rockingham City I believe we are a chance of taking all three points."
GLORY BOSS LASHES STATE GOVERNMENT OVER LACK OF HELP
Perth Glory owner Tony Sage has hit out at the State government’s lack of support for the world game. While governments on the east coast appear keen to bring high-profile games to their capital cities, Western Australia has missed out on an Asian Cup qualifier between Australia and Kuwait as well as a friendly involving English heavyweights Everton. Instead Canberra will host the crucial Socceroos-Kuwait fixture, while Sage has agreed to underwrite a possible meeting of Everton and Glory without government assistance. Sydney FC hosted LA Galaxy in a glamour friendly during November and more recently Italian giants Juventus took on Melbourne Victory.
Sage didn’t pull his punches in criticising the government’s lack of interest in football. “The State government made it very clear that they don’t want it,” he said of the Kuwait fixture. “They had an opportunity through EventsCorp to host an Australian game. An Australian game hasn’t been played here for a long time. The FFA wants an Australian game to be played here, Football West wants an Australian game to be played here, Perth Glory wants an Australian game to be played here - even if it’s only with the A-League stars in the Asian Championships. But for some reason there’s been this block at the State government level about football.”
CAPTAINCY FITS NEATLY ON KOVACEVIC
As Lee Bamber gazes toward the future by giving the youngsters at Inglewood United an opportunity to shine during the Night Series, it’s to defender Danny Kovacevic that the coach has looked to for on-field leadership. A mainstay of the Inglewood defence through his seven seasons at the club, Kovacevic says he was honoured when presented the captain’s armband for their opening two games of the pre-season tournament. “To be given the armband in the absence of Shane Pryce was a big honour, especially as we have a lot of younger guys in the squad,” he commented. “It’s nice to know you are looked at with respect and trust by the coaches and the players too.”
For the Night Series Kovacevic, whose steely determination has been a key feature of Inglewood under a succession of coaches, has been playing in the centre of defence and is pleased with his contribution to the side. “I enjoy playing in the centre of the defence because you concentrate more on the defensive aspect of the game and that’s probably my strong point,” said Kovacevic, who has played much of the past few seasons on the right side of defence. “I’m happy if the team keeps performing and getting results. It’s always pleasing to play well, and hopefully pass on some advice to the younger players in the side.”
Bamber had absolutely no hesitation in awarding Kovacevic the captaincy. “Danny would be the first to admit he lacks a bit technically but he more than makes up for it in his effort and desire. This was shown by his efforts last year when he played through the pain barrier while suffering with osteitis pubis,” said the coach. “He’s taken on the responsibility of helping the youngsters out without any prompting from me, which has been a real plus. He’s a born winner and is desperate for success for the club and himself, he can play anywhere in defence and occasionally pops up with a wonder goal.”
Through an active youth development system Inglewood have assembled a squad of immense depth and potential for 2009. “One of the things Lee (Bamber) and Kevin Brophy pride themselves on is improving the younger players and we’re lucky to have some good young players at the club,” he said. “It’s great to see some of those guys stepping up into the first team, players like Jimbo (James Duncan), rookie (James Sammut), Mitso (Jamie Mitsopolous), Stama (Alex Stamatiadis) Matt Wardle and Mladen Kovacevic. This season we’ve seen Lewis Italiano, Matt Worton, Danny Richman come into the squad and same with Simon Woolley, although he’s not exactly young at 27.”
Another massive bonus for the club this season is the return of former Australian Under-17 international Louis Parkinson, who has missed the past two seasons through injury. “Louie is a big addition to our squad, he’s a Gold Medal winner and has proven he can score goals which is something we’ve lacked the last few years. He’s a good solid build and has pace too so he can cause trouble for other teams, it’s good to see him back because he’s an important player and a good bloke to have around,” enthused Kovacevic. “With Louie, Rory Grant, Mladen and Albert Osei Tutu we finally have a group of strikers that will find the back of the net on a regular basis.”
Inglewood began the Night Series slowly, going down 2-0 to Armadale on the opening weekend of competition, before turning things around with a good win against Caning City. “We had been training only a few weeks when it was our first game together so we hadn’t had the best preparation,” Kovacevic explained. “Even though we started well against Armadale and probably had the best of it for the first twenty-five minutes or so, when they scored they began to take control. We battled well in the second half but just couldn’t score.”
A second half goal blitz in which Grant scored twice and Mladen Kovacevic once earned Inglewood maximum points the following week. “The game gave Lee a chance to find out some things about some ‘squad’ players and some of the new boys showed they will help improve our team. We were nervous early and some of the new younger boys made a few errors, but that’s to be expected. We hit our straps and came out firing in the second half, and scored three good goals. It was pleasing to get the win but even more to see we will have the depth in our squad, something we lacked last year,” added Kovacevic.
A stoppage time strike by youngster Sandy Loncar snatched Inglewood all three points from a tight encounter with Cockburn City on Sunday. “We had six changes to the line-up against Cockburn, who have been training for a while so we knew they would be fit,” said Kovacevic. “We had a tough week training-wise which I think showed, and although we lacked some quality we still worked hard and to keep a clean sheet and get the points was very satisfying.” The win moved Inglewood just a point behind group leader Floreat Athena and into joint second alongside Mandurah City.
Inglewood’s next assignment pits them against Mandurah in a must-win game for both clubs. “It’d be great if we can pick up another three points against Mandurah and give ourselves a greater chance of progressing to the semi’s. But at the end of the day our match fitness will be improved regardless of the result, and it gives Lee another chance to experiment with the team,” Kovacevic said. “You set out to wain every game but at this time of year it’s also about finding out which players can do what and where, so sometimes the result takes a backseat to player and team development.”
FOOTBALL COMMUNITY DIGS DEEP FOR BUSHFIRE VICTIMS
Amidst the excitement of last weekend’s Night Series the West Australian football community generously donated $1161.15 for the victims of the Victorian bushfires. Volunteers from the participating clubs were present at each of the games with all monies raised going towards the Red Cross’ Victorian Bushfire Appeal. “We have all been touched by this terrible tragedy, and it was fantastic to see our football fans giving generously to help support the victims,” said Ben Fitzpatrick, the head of marketing and communications at Football West.
NO MORE GLORY FOR MCKEON
Perth Glory has suffered a major off-field blow with Brett McKeon relinquishing his share in the club. McKeon becomes the second member of Glory’s ownership team in as many years to part company with the club, leaving Tony Sage as the sole owner. McKeon cited the current economic climate as a key reason for leaving the club along with a poor relationship with Football Federation Australia. “Perth’s cost of running a club is significantly higher than our eastern seaboard counterparts and unfortunately this fact seems lost on the FFA,” McKeon said, whose 50% share in the club has been sold to Sage.
Despite admitting that the financial commitment would be somewhat difficult, Sage reiterated his commitment to the club and its fans. “I have a deep passion for Perth Glory and I’m wholeheartedly committed to taking this club back to the top of Australian football,” Sage said. “Perth Glory is well positioned to make the coming season its best yet, there are some really exciting players we’re talking to at the moment which will boost our performances on the field while the support from our corporate partners and the West Australian football community continues to be very enthusiastic.”
Sage said McKeon will continue to support the club as a corporate partner and retains a seat on a restructured club Advisory Board. Lui Giuliani also retains his place on the Board which has been expanded to include Football West board member Paul Kelly, Declan Kelly, general manager of 6PR and 96fm, and Paul Niardone, found of Professional Public Relations. “All of these gentlemen have a passion for football and sound business backgrounds that will add fresh perspectives to the club going forward,” Sage said. “I’m under no illusions about the challenges ahead for our club however we are well prepared and resourced to tackle those head on.”
TOP-SIX INCREASES GLORY’S FINALS CHASE
Perth Glory’s chances of making the A-League play-offs for the first time have received a massive boost with the Football Federation Australia introducing a top-six finals format from next season. The expanded ten-team competition will kick-off in mid-August and culminate with the Grand Final being played a month later than usual, in late March. FFA’s decision to move to a final six was made with a view to the competition’s planned expansion to twelve teams in 2010/11. North Queensland Fury and Gold Coast United are confirmed starters for next season, with second teams in Melbourne and Sydney likely to compete after the 2010 World Cup.
DI FULVIO BACKS BAYSWATER TO GO ALL THE WAY
It’s may only be early days but already coach Michael Di Fulvio is backing Bayswater City to make a serious play at the First Division title. Di Fulvio feels confident that his team possess what is needed to win promotion to the top flight - where Bayswater last appeared in 2006 - and now it’s down to the player group to deliver the goods. “The aim for every club in the league at the start of the season is promotion, and we’re no different,” explained Di Fulvio. “The club have invested many hours in providing the players the best platform to succeed and there is no excuse why we shouldn’t be there or thereabouts come years’ end. We have added to the squad from last year in areas where we hope will take us from being a top four side, to the top side in 2009.”
Even after three rounds of the Night Series we’re yet to see what Bayswater can really offer with injury preventing Di Fulvio from putting his best eleven players on the park. “It’s been frustrating not being able to put the players we want on the park each week especially the new recruits,” he said. “We had Ryan Jeans make his debut against Ashfield and he played very well along with Damien Catalano, who has looked in good shape after missing a lot of football last season. Young Matt Battigelli in goals adds a fresh voice at the back and has shown he can be a very hard man to beat when on his game. Unfortunately, Michael Fillipou and Anthony McStea have had injuries of late but both have shown they can add a lot of hardness and experience to our team when fit and firing”.
With injury comes opportunity for other players and Di Fulvio has been pleasantly surprised with how some of the club’s younger players have responded when called upon. “We are still a long way from playing good consistent football,” said the former Inglewood United and Swan IC defender. “Our performances in the Night Series have so far been very disappointing from a team perspective, but there have been some positives in some of the younger guys getting valuable game time. It has been a good indicator to see if these kids can step up and perform at the required level if and when called upon throughout the season proper.”
The field for the 2009 First Division is wide open and Di Fulvio feels strongly it’ll be tight contest with a number of clubs pushing for promotion come the end of the season. “I believe a number of clubs can challenge for the title in 2009. Apart from the usual suspects of South West Phoenix, Fremantle Spirit, Wanneroo City and Balcatta, there will be big improvements from Morley Windmills and Forrestfield United,” commented the Bayswater coach. “However, Canning showed us last year what can be achieved by a squad that is committed to the cause by playing good team orientated football - and we hope that in 2009 it will be us who gets the trophy at the end of the year.”
Di Fulvio remains focused on getting the right result from Sunday’s Night Series outing with Balcatta despite last weekend’s loss to Morley Windmills effectively ending his side hopes of making the semi-finals. “We will treat the game against Balcatta like how we have gone about the previous three games,” said the Bayswater coach. “We just hope to improve with every hit-out and get the new boys to gel with our system. Balcatta have signed some quality players and I’m sure the results so far are in no way an indication of how they will fare in 2009. It looks like over the next couple weeks we will be able to get some more players available for selection. Winning form is good form, however, if our attitude and work rate improves then the results will look after themselves.”
DUTCH MOVE PUTS RUKAVYTSYA IN THE NATIONAL FRAME
Former Perth Glory marksman Nikita Rukavytsya has been catapulted into Socceroos contention by his recent move to top flight Dutch club FC Twente. Rukavytsya, who represented Australia at last years Olympic Games, has already been involved in training camps for the senior national team and his move to the Netherlands has enhanced his prospects of a first cap. Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek lauded Twente and expects their new 21-year old striker to benefit hugely from the switch. “He’s going to a fantastic club with very good coaching staff and organisation,” said Verbeek. “In the Netherlands, they can never keep the best players so they always have to produce new talents. They don’t think defensively, the facilities are fantastic and the league is interesting.”
Rukavytsya appears to have settled quickly into life in the Netherlands where he was an unused substitute in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Volendam, which kept Twente in second place behind AZ Alkmaar. Verbeek said Rukavytsya should not expect too much too soon but felt the remaining months of the Eredivisie season would give the young frontman a solid start. “As long as we don’t think he’ll be starting every week,” said the Socceroos boss. “In five months, he will have been training six times a week (and) he will play in the reserve team, which is a very high level at the moment in the Netherlands.” Rukavytsya started out at Perth SC but it was after a spell at the Australian Institute of Sport that his career took off, the striker scoring sixteen goals in 42 games.
SANDGROPERS SEEK REVENGE AGAINST SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Western Australia coach Robbie Dunn has announced his team for the 2009 Stratco Cup clash against South Australia. The match, set to take place under lights at Members Equity Stadium on Saturday 7th March, has South Australia keen to make it two wins from two following the 3-0 result achieved in Adelaide last October. WA on the other hand is determined to notch up victory in what will be their first competitive match on home soil in more than five years.
There are eight new faces in Dunn’s sixteen player squad with the coach selecting a attack laden side as he bids to notch his first win as State coach. “We are really looking forward to the rematch and are very focused on trying to reverse the last result where we were somewhat humbled by our South Australian opponents” said Dunn. “To be back on our home soil and playing against quality opposition in front of our own fans at Members Equity Stadium is very exciting and I know the boys will be up to the challenge.”
Dunn, who played 44 times for Australia, acknowledged the State team concept was a harder sell since the introduction of the A-League but believes strong that it could play an important role in exposing players to a higher level of football. “There are always players who slip through the cracks and this gives them an opportunity - this is their chance to be recognised,” he said. “The State team does have a future but I think there needs tobe a long-termplan in place to encourage players to want to be involved.”
The Western Australia squad to play South Australia consists of John Migas (Floreat Athena), Tommy Amphlett, Ian McMurray (ECU Joondalup), Andy Brown, Phil O’Callaghan, Phil Straker, Ryan Townsend (Mandurah City), Matt Danskin, Todd Howarth, Antonio Naglieri, David Onoforo (Perth SC), Danny Cain, Todd Harnwell, Neil Young (Sorrento), David Annall, David Micevski (Western Knights) and out of contract midfielder Marc Anthony.
SIKORA SIGNS FOR GLORY
Former Dutch international Victor Sikora will play a key role for Perth Glory next season after signing a one-year deal with the West Australian club. Sikora, who has represented the Netherlands six times, played in Glory’s final five matches of the recently completed season after joining as an injury replacement. His short-term agreement convinced coach David Mitchell there was significant upside in continuing the association. “Victor came in and immediately clicked with the team and I think everyone could see that he is a good player,” Mitchell said. “I’m confident Victor is going to add value to our squad next year and can be a real leader on the park.”
30-year old Sikora brings a wealth of experience having played with Dutch giants Ajax Amsterdam and has featured in two European Champions League campaigns. “Victor is a good age, he’s fit and cares about Perth Glory and winning football matches. He loves the city, feels people here are very friendly and is eager to come back and achieve our aim of finals football,” said Mitchell. Sikora is currently in the Netherlands and training with his former club Go Ahead Eagles but will return to Perth in April to start pre-season training with Glory. The club now has nine contracted players for next season and is nearing completion of negotiations with several more.
LONCAR PINCHES IT FOR INGLEWOOD (by Tom Della Vedova)
Inglewood United has snatched a last gasp victory over a plucky Cockburn City in the Sunday evening Night Series fixture at Dorrien Gardens. Young gun Sandy Loncar was the hero of the hour with his extra-time strike handing Inglewood all three points from a flowing and high quality encounter. The match developed an entertaining end-to-end rhythm from the kick-off and both teams enjoyed good scoring chances in a first half that would ultimately end scoreless. Cockburn went close to grabbing the lead when Josh Findlater smacked a John Mirco free-kick against the crossbar after 5 minutes. Minutes later Rory Grant’s powerful header from Kevin Griffiths’ cross was well saved by impressive young goalkeeper Nick Feely. Aaron Dos Santos then had a goalbound effort tipped over the bar by Oliver Taseski, and Anthony Pereira blasted high from a promising position after a sleek one-two with Mirco. The half ended with Cockburn slightly on top, although Inglewood were also playing some fluid football. Mirco was central to Cockburn’s best moves while Matt Worton was the pick of the Inglewood players.
A see-sawing second half had both playing attractive, attacking football. Cockburn continued to create the better chances with Giovanni De Bartolo’s low shot saved by Taseski, and ten minutes Josh Findlater smashed his attempt into the bar with the ‘keeper beaten. However, Inglewood’s central midfield pairing of Michael Baczynski and Griffiths gradually got on top of Pereira and Llewellyn Blake to swift the momentum their way. On 70 minutes, Baczynski unleashed a trademark long-range blast that forced an excellent diving save from Feely. Unfortunately, Inglewood were unable to capitalise on a period of sustained attacks and Cockburn substitute Ryan Pretorius went close to bagging his team a winner but Mirco’s dangerous cut back was just out of reach. The game had just entered extra-time when substitute Loncar stole possession from an opponent and fed Baczynski, and while his shot was blocked by Paul Natale but the danger was not averted as the ball spilled to Loncar who had time to coolly slot the winner past Feely. The result keeps Inglewood in the hunt for a semi-final berth while Cockburn will use the remainder of the Night Series as preparation for the season proper.
WILLIAMS SHOOTING FOR THE (RED) STARS
Katanning-born goalkeeper Lydia Williams hopes her age will help in securing a contract in the new Women’s Professional Soccer league. Williams, fresh from playing for Canberra United in the inaugural W-League, leaves Australia in a fortnight to attend a one-month long with Chicago Red Stars where she’ll vie for a spot behind Swedish international Caroline Jonsson. If successful, 20-year old Williams will be one of the youngest players in the new league. “'I think the other goalkeepers are 31 and 28, so obviously I’m a fair bit younger and I think hopefully I can bring a bit of a spark and I can use that to my advantage,” Williams told the ‘Canberra Times’.
The new American league starts in April with teams from Boston, Chicago, LA, the San Francisco Bay Area, St Louis, New Jersey-New York and Washington. Chicago has already secured Brazilian striker Cristiane, leading goal scorer at last year’s Beijing Olympics, along with Matildas midfielder Heather Garriock and Sweden legend Frida Ostberg. “It’s very exciting, but I’m not sure how I’m going to handle how I’ll be on the plane when I go over there,” Williams said. Something weighing in Williams’ favour is the fact she has an American passport, courtesy of her mother, meaning she won’t need to be signed as an international player.
JONES PRODUCES MORE HEROICS FOR MIDDLESBROUGH
Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate has again heaped praise on goalkeeper Brad Jones after watching the Armadale-born stopper keep his team in the English FA Cup. Jones, 26, pulled off a number of fine saves to deny Carlton Cole, Mark Noble and Spanish striker Diego Tristan as Boro battled their way to a 1-1 draw away at West Ham United yesterday. “He’s been excellent for us. We brought him back into the first team about three games ago and he has been excellent,” said Southgate of Jones, who recently signed a new three-and-a-half-year deal. “We give him a bit too much to do sometimes, but he is an outstanding goalkeeper. He was a bit unlucky at the start of the season because he had an injury and Ross Turnbull kept him out, but he is now showing the sort of form he is capable of.”
JUKIC THE HERO AS GLORY YOUTH FINISH ON A HIGH
A second half double from Andrija Jukic has helped the Perth Glory Youth finish their season in style and a convincing 4-0 victory over the Newcastle Jets at Dorrien Gardens this afternoon. Reece Vittiglia gave the home side a dream start but it wasn’t until the second half that they hit peak form as Ludovic Boi fired in their second before Jukic stepped up to the plate. “It was a great way to finish the season. We controlled the tempo and made the most of our chances,” said coach Gareth Naven, who team finish the inaugural National Youth League season in fourth place. “We’ve seen the continued development of these players and it has been a terrific experience for everyone involved with Perth Glory’s National Youth League set-up. It is clear we have some outstanding talent coming through in Western Australia and to be able to expose them to the next step in their career has been a great opportunity.”
Vittiglia ignited the contest in the 4th minute by running the ball down the right then cutting inside and arrowing his shot past goalkeeper Ben Kennedy. Glory would have been a few goals the better had Jukic and Vittiglia been able to capitalise before Ben Martin twice called Dejan Aleksic in action as the Jets briefly sparked into life. Boi, Jukic and Ryan Pearson were denied by Kennedy and a dipping effort from Vittiglia ended narrowly high as Glory sought their second. The floodgates were finally prised open three minutes after the break when Boi belted an unstoppable shot past Kennedy. On the hour Boi slipped a pass in to Hayden Doyle whose crisp through ball allowed Jukic to race down the left before firing into the net. The Glory captain grabbed his second of the evening with twelve minutes to go by latching on to another Doyle pass which he clipped over the oncoming ‘keeper and slipped it into an empty net.
CANNING OPENS THEIR ACCOUNT
Canning City recorded its first win as a Premier League club by holding off a resilient Armadale 4-2 this evening at Alfred Skeet Oval. The opening exchanges were tentative as the two sides prodded and probed for openings without creating anything to great substance. Canning settled the better and on 8 minutes Roberto Lujan's sizzling 20-metre strike rose narrowly high of the crossbar. Simon Versaico was soon bearing down on goal when veteran Andy Bowyer applied a superb tackle to halt the Canning attacker in his tracks. Ben Kelly's fine work at the back lead to Armadale's first crack at goal as Garry Guyan flicked the ball on for Mo Atak but his powerful shot lacked accuracy. Canning opened the scoring in the 23rd minute when Duuane Hepburn was found in space to stroke past Cyril Sharrock at 6-metres. Versaico had Sharrock scrambling with his attempt from the opt of the 18-yard box, then at the other end Gary Buntine's shot was parried by Devon Spence who thwarted Cameron MacLean at the follow-up. Half-time was looming large when Andy Pomfrett beat goalkeeper Devon Spence with a well-taken free-kick to bring the teams level. However, Canning hit back almost instantly through a blistering Trevisiol effort which went between Sharrock on the post.
Canning hit six minutes after the re-start through a blistering Trevisiol effort that flashed between Sharrock and the post. The next opportunity came through Marlon Ramirez who picked out Kevin Bisset whose goal bound effort was tipped around the post by Spence. Some Lujan magic made it three-one after 62 minutes, the midfielder jinxing his way around two opponents before slipping the ball under the advancing 'keeper. The result was put beyond doubt with eleven minutes to go by Kyle Mitsopolous who headed a well-worked set piece beyond Sharrock's reach. There was still plenty of life in Armadale and four minutes later Bisset's firm effort reduced the deficit. Hepburn should have added a fifth to Canning's tally in stoppage time but with the goal at his mercy the striker sprayed wide. Canning coach was delighted with his teams performance on the night before emphasising there is still a long way to go in 2009. "It was very pleasing to get our first win, it was a thoroughly deserved victory which hopefully sets us up for a good season," said the coach. "Whilst we were well worth the win, we will keep the players feet firmly on the ground and try to build on the result."
KNIGHTS CONTINUE CHARGE TOWARDS PLAY-OFFS
Western Knights defeated ECU Joondalup 2-1 in picture perfect conditions on Saturday evening at Alfred Skeet Oval. The win maintains the Knights perfect win record and keeps Paul Price’s team at the top of Group A, level with Sorrento. It didn’t take the Knights long to assert control and with 7 minutes on the clock Aaron Bahadori brilliantly tamed a cross with his chest and volleyed had into the top corner from 22-metres. There were plenty of opportunities for the margin to be increased but a combination of smart goalkeeping and inaccurate finishing denied the Knights another goal before the break. David Micevski’s clever through ball sent clear Mario Marcinko but the young striker was denied a shot when Dafydd Jones came quickly off his line. Shortly before the break Marcinko rose well to glance a Daniel Micevski cross goalward and again Dafydd Jones moved sharply to keep out the header.
The start of the second half was a carbon copy of the first with the Knights coming out at full pace. Eleven minutes in and Daniel Micevski delivered a cross to Marcinko who this time steered his header beyond the reach of the ‘keeper to make it two-nil. The Knights dominance continued and Marcinko should have had his second when found by a superb David Price pass but with only the ‘keeper to beat his attempted chip landed squaring in Dafydd Jones’ hands. Chances were few and far between for Joondalup who were having problems breaking down a well-organised backline marshalled by Stuart Ferguson. However, they did eventually find a way through with ten minutes to go when substitute Adam Pygrum unleashed a blistering strike to which Fraser Siddall had no response. This set up a tense close as Joondalup stepped up the tempo to grab a late equaliser only to be stymied by a determined opponent.
PERTH STEAL POINTS THROUGH SIMPSON (courtesy Football West)
A late Craig Simpson header has saved the blushes of Perth SC to earn a 1-0 win against traditional rival Swan United in this evening’s clash at Dorrien Gardens. After dominating the first half without finding the net, Perth lost their way after the break and it looked as though the visitors would steal a point until Simpson powered the ball in with five minutes remaining. Perth came out full of confidence and Rob Giorgi forced a good save from Chris Ramsay, who soon after got down smartly to snaffle up Oliver Swords’ threatening low cross. Karl Breen had the visitors’ first shot but his shot from distance failed to trouble ‘keeper Jason Saldaris. Perth hit straight back with Simpson’s powerful header straight at Ramsay from Greg Sharland’s deep cross. It was one-way traffic Ramsey tipped away a long-range strike from David Onoforo, who hooked a loose ball narrowly high from the ensuing corner. A rare Swan attack started with Rob Monterosso’s well-weighted pass down the line to John Mansaray whose inviting cross was volleyed just over by Breen. With half-time beckoning, Phil Arnold went even closer when found by Sharland but the young striker’s low effort from 16-metres struck the inside of the post and rolled across the face of goal.
Only a superb block at point-blank range by Saldaris prevented Matthew Xerri from putting Swan ahead shortly after the turnaround. As the intensity increased, Onoforo glanced just over the crossbar from a Todd Howarth free-kick. Swan were by this stage well and truly back in the game but Xerri’s chip beat the ‘keeper but was too high. Trent Wood badly miscued from 5-metres after a determined run by Mansaray, then Xerri wasted a good chance by lifting his shot high from the top of the 18-yard box. Perth were unfortunate not to grab the advantage through Sharland who rose unchallenged to meet Howarth’s corner but glanced wide on the hour. There was a lucky escape for the home side after 75 minutes when Saldaris didn’t deal properly with Breen’s cross but Xerri steered the loose ball just wide. A foul on Giorgi ten minutes later earned Perth a free-kick just outside the area from where Sharland delivered a pinpoint ball to the far post which Simpson headed powerfully past Ramsay from close-range. In a frantic late flurry, Aaron Cole headed straight at Saldaris then Wood brought a fantastic save from the Perth ‘keeper with his effort from 25-metres. Insult was added to injury when Da Re was shown a second yellow card in stoppage time, leaving Swan with ten men.
SORRENTO OVERPOWER LION CUBS (by Tom Della Vedova)
Sorrento has cruised to a third consecutive Night Series win by knocking over Stirling Lions 3-0 at Litis Stadium. The result strengthens the Gulls claim to top spot in Group A, where Stirling now face an uphill battle to make the semi-finals after notching only three points from three games. Sorrento had the better of early proceedings and deservedly took the lead in the 11th minute courtesy of new signing Ciaran Hughes, who made no mistake with his close-range header from Todd Harnwell’s cross. Hughes had a chance to double the lead minutes later when he shrugged Darko Ilmanoski off the ball only for his casual effort with the outside of his right boot to roll wide. Both teams then traded shots with Leo Harman unable to get Brodie Martin’s centre on target, and Rory Feely almost equalised in a goalmouth scramble at the other end. However, it was to be Sorrento who’d find the net after 25 minutes when Stuart Banks’ driven free-kick deflected off the defensive wall and into the post with Harnwell tapping in the rebound from a metre.
The second half saw the same patterns of play develop, with Sorrento consigning Stirling to defensive duties for extended periods. The contest was well and truly over when Hughes put the Gulls three-up after 65 minutes by bundling in a corner which the opposing defence failed to clear at the first attempt. It was Hughes’ third Night Series goal and his confidence should be high as he makes the transition from amateur to semi-professional football. The intensity of play then dissipated somewhat and Stirling managed to create some good chances in the remainder of the match. Matt Italiano was unable to keep a difficult volleyed chance on target from Jason Mirco’s deep cross, and Gulls custodian Neil Young had to react sharply to keep out substitute Jake Geddes’ effort after some nice footwork from the young striker. Sorrento are yet to concede a goal in three pre-season outings but will face their sternest test so far when they meet an in-form Western Knights next week, while Stirling’s loss makes it difficult for them to qualify for the knock-out stage.
FLOREAT GO TOP IN GROUP B (by Tom Della Vedova)
Floreat Athena jumped to outright first place in Group B with a convincing 4-2 win over Mandurah City in the late game at Litis Stadium. The host club created the better chances in a fast paced encounter and the final score line was an accurate reflection of their superiority on the night. Both teams showed attacking intent from the outset with Daniel Neiderberger and Gary Atrill each pulling shots wide inside five minutes. Neiderberger then had a volley saved, and shortly after John Migas’ well-timed interception snuffed out a a promising Mandurah attack. A goal for either team looked likely and it arrived after 17 minutes when Chris Wylie reacted quickly to loop a head in following an almighty goalmouth scramble. However, Floreat hit back five minutes later with diminutive midfielder Paul Vatistas side-footing past Phil Straker after Mandurah failed to deal with Adam Bachillor’s long throw-in. It was not that Floreat started to exert greater control over proceedings and a foul on Neiderberger produced a free-kick just outside the 18-yard box which James Isaia curled low around the wall and inside the unsighted Straker’s far post. Floreat doubled their advantage on 37 minutes when Neiderberger’s long-range strike was touched onto the post by Straker, with Brad Scott showing a true striker’s instinct by following in to pass into an empty net.
The second half started at a slightly lower tempo but with Mandurah continuing to play a direct style of football while Floreat showed greater patience in the build-up. New life was breathed into the game on 72 minutes when Wylie’s in-swinging corner from the right flew directly into the net to bring the difference back to a single goal. There was no time for ‘keeper Alex Dunn to dwell on the goal conceded as he was immediately called into action with a low save as Mandurah went searching for an equaliser. However, any hopes of a comeback were snuffed out on 77 minutes when Chris Currie’s sharp back pass was hastily cleared by Straker, the ball went only as far as Scott who squared for substitute Miki Vujacic to skip into space and curve a fine shot high and to the left of the ‘keeper. The match ended sourly for Mandurah with defender Jay Bonser being shown a second yellow card for dissent. Although the victory was fairly comfortable for Floreat, there we were one or two defensive errors from their usually tight defence that coach Michael Roki will want eradicated. Outplayed on the night, Mandurah will welcome back several first team regulars for next week’s clash with Inglewood United, which will go a long way to determining who from the group proceed to the semi-finals.
DIANELLA COME-FROM-BEHIND TO SUNK FREMANTLE (courtesy Dianella White Eagles)
Inspired by a vocal supporter base, Dianella White Eagles reaffirmed their potential by downing high-flying Fremantle Spirit 3-2 in the late First Division Night Series fixture at Dorrien Gardens. Fremantle were first to score through Dragan Milankovic who converted a penalty after the striker had been felled inside the 18-yard box. Nuno Loreto’s exquisite touch saw him weave through before rifling into the top corner from 20-metres for Fremantle’s second. The gap was reduced on 41 minutes when Stefan Smiljanic converted from the penalty spot after referee Ton Klaver thought long and hard before calling hand ball against Josh Wade. Smiljanic almost got his second shortly after with a powerful header that rose narrowly over the crossbar to the relief of a Fremantle defence now under siege. Dianella custodian Justin Scarvaci had his reflexes tested by Vas Kalogeracos early in the second half as Fremantle attempted to kill off the game. The teams could have been level but Smiljanic's spot kick was well saved by young goalkeeper Jake Sacco. Dianella were now in control and on the hour Pavle Kuvekalovic was positioned to drill in the loose ball at a goal mouth scramble. The decider arrived with only minutes remaining when Smiljanic's centre set-up captain Dragan Njegic whose clinical finish into the top corner gave Sacco no chance.
WINDMILLS DOWN SPIRITED BAYSWATER (courtesy Bayswater City)
Morley Windmills put themselves into the semi-final mix by defeating Bayswater City 2-1 in the early game at Dorrien Gardens. The early signs were all positive for Bayswater with Frank Madaferri getting into good position to meet Tony Cumace’s corner but heading over the crossbar. This sparked Morley into action and through the efforts of Mitch Brydon and they seized control as Simon El Chami had a goal bound shot cleared off the line. Their efforts were rewarded four minutes from the break when Brydon stormed down the right and from the bye-line cut the ball back to David Gordon who blasted in from 7-metres. An error by Cumace gifted Morley their second in the 45th minute with Brydon getting his angles right to beat goalkeeper Matt Battigelli. Bayswater came out for the second half a much different proposition and on 56 minutes Damien Catalano crashed the ball into the top corner from 23-metres after catching Trent Bushby in possession. Catalano scuffed wide a chance to bring the sides level as Bayswater mounted a concerted late charge to take something from the game. Chances presented themselves to both teams in the closing stages but with neither able to capitalise it was Morley who moved up to third on the Group B table.
PHOENIX MAINTAIN PERFECT RECORD (courtesy South West Phoenix)
South West Phoenix made it three wins from three starts by downing Balcatta 3-2 in a game of two contrasting halves at Alfred Skeet Oval. A dominant first half performance created Phoenix a three-goal buffer before Balcatta netted twice son after the break to breathe new life into the contest. Gareth Harker gave Phoenix a dream start by latching on to a David Murphy cross which he neatly slid into the bottom corner from 8-metres. Their lead was increased midway through the period when Steve Suttie fired past goalkeeper Ken Ftynogiannis, who'd been caught unsighted by a crowded goal area. Goal number three came just before the break through David Rodgers who pounced on the loose ball after Balcatta failed to clear a Suttie cross. Balcatta began the second period under full steam as Luke O'Neill then Alex Cocking found the net within ten minutes of the re-start. Ryan Montgomery spent much of the half under siege and if not for his shot-stopping abilities the game would have turned out much differently.
SOCCEROOS ON THE MENU FOR MITCHELL
David Mitchell was more than an interested spectator when he was on hand for Australia's World Cup qualifier against Japan on Wednesday evening. The Perth Glory coach met with several current Socceroos as his attention turns toward securing an overseas-based Australian player for next season. "It was great to be able to meet with the players face to face and to discuss their level of interest in coming back to the A-League and more specifically bringing them to Perth Glory," Mitchell said. "There isn't that fear anymore that if you're not playing in Europe you're not in contention for the national team. (Socceroos coach) Pim Verbeek has given his support to players returning to Australia at the right time and it has certainly sparked the interest of several players."
Derby County winger Mile Sterjovski and Colchester United captain Chris Coyne - brother of Glory captain Jamie Coyne - have been linked with Glory, whose coaching staff have been actively scouring the globe to find quality players who'll compliment the existing squad. "The A-League is an attractive proposition as there will be more games next season with additional teams coming into the competition," explained Mitchell. "We're looking at players who have indicated an interest in returning to Australia and are still playing at the highest level. We're moving forward in a positive fashion in regards to our recruiting and will continue to work towards securing the talent we've identified as being able to have an impact for the club next season and onwards."
HUMP ROUND : THE WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
Just who the Night Series pretenders and contenders are will become a whole lot clearer at the conclusion of Round Three of the pre-season tournament. This weekend’s games open tonight with an undefeated Sorrento up against Stirling Lions (6.30pm) at Litis Stadium. Gulls coach Steve Neville has a full squad at his disposal and it’ll be interesting to see how former State striker Stuart Montgomery, veteran defender Stuart Banks and Chilean recruit Daniel Darras fit into his plans. What sort of influence Darko Ilmanoski and Jordan Rhodes can have over the game will go a long way to determining how a young and comparatively inexperienced Stirling fair.
A place in the semi-finals will almost be assured for the winner of the top of the table Group B meeting between Mandurah City and Floreat Athena (8.30pm) at Litis Stadium on Friday. Unfortunately, the absence of Ryan Townsend, Jeff Bright and captain Andy Brown will hurt Mandurah’s chances as coach Stuart Currie uses the game to get a better look at some of the clubs young players. Michael Roki’s options are also limited but in his case it’s through injury that has ruled Ante Kovacevic, Dean Apelgren and Julian Madaschi out.
Saturday’s meeting of Armadale and Canning City (6.30pm) at Alfred Skeet Oval has all the hallmarks of being one of the weekend’s highlights. A flat performance last week has Brad Hassell expecting a significant improvement from Armadale, who’ll look to the experience of Jason Goodwin, Andy Bowyer and Cyril Sharrock. Frank Longstaff plans to make a number of changes to his side as Paul Van Dongen and Duncan Hind return to the starting eleven, while there might also be places for English striker Chaz Partridge and goalkeeper Devon Spence.
ECU Joondalup are going to find the going tough when they meet a revitalised Western Knights (8.30pm) in Saturday’s late game at Alfred Skeet Oval. Former Milwaukee Waves goalkeeper Davvyd Jones will make his debut for the northern suburbs club as they welcome back to the fray goal scoring midfielder Scott Bushby, who may just provide the spark they are after. David Micevski, David Price and Luka Jukic have been in terrific touch in the middle of the park for the Knights for whom a third successive win will consolidate their spot at the top of Group A.
Swan IC has the unenviable task of meeting an in-form Perth SC (7.30pm) under lights at Dorrien Gardens on Saturday. Perth erased their opening round blues with a five-goal performance last time out when Greg Sharland scored the year’s first hat-trick. For Swan the Night Series has so far been quite the humbling experience with two big losses, however, coach Paul Lincoln is showing no signs of reaching for the panic button as he strives towards getting the mix right for the season proper. That last time these two teams met it ended 2-0 to Perth but it’s difficult to see how this week’s encounter will be anywhere near that close
The round comes to a close on Sunday when Inglewood United and Cockburn City (6.00pm) square off at Dorrien Gardens. Lee Bamber’s policy of giving his club’s youngsters a chance to impress sees Sandy Loncar and Mirk Miraudo promoted to the line-up as Mladen Kovacevic and Matt Wardle take a well-earned rest. Losses in their opening two games has ended prematurely Cockburn’s play-off hopes, leaving coach Mirko Jelicic to turn his attention to getting things right in time for the home and away series. The Red Cross will be present at all Night Series games over the weekend, collecting donations for the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund.
GLORY YOUTH AIM TO DOWN JETS
Perth Glory Youth play the final match of their inaugural season when they tackle Newcastle Jets at Dorrien Gardens on Saturday evening. There'll no doubt be plenty of passion on the pitch with both sides looking to finish their season on a high. Gareth Naven is hoping the return of Anthony Skorich, who scored a hat-trick when the sides last meet, can help Glory rediscovering their goal scoring touch following numerous near misses last weekend. "At the end of the day we haven't been putting our chances away. That has probably been our achilles this season, we've created opportunities but not converted enough," Naven said. A Glory win will ensure they complete the season in fourth place, a position they're held for the majority of the competition. Glory take on the Jets from 5.00pm on Saturday at Dorrien Gardens.
NEW CHALLENGE APPEALS TO COCKING
Promising young striker Alex Cocking has turned his back on Swan IC to play the coming season with promotion chasing First Division outfit Balcatta. Cocking, 18, burst onto the scene this time last year by scoring four times in five Night Series appearances for Swan but has decided to move on from that club to keep himself fresh. “It’s a decision I didn’t take lightly, as the club had done a lot for me the past year and treated me well,” cocking explained. “But I can’t rest on my laurels and have to try new things to further my career and leaving Francis Street is just one of those things.”
Cocking has enjoyed the pre-season under coach Salv Todaro and is looking forward to becoming re-acquainted with Paul Wozny, who is the junior development officer at Balcatta. “I’ve know Paul since I was ten years of age when I started one-on-one training with him. He has been the greatest influence on my skill development,” said Cocking. “I have not worked with Paul for a few years but am looking forward to further development under his and Salv’s guidance. The Balcatta move is to gain more football knowledge, a new coach and new players, and a different style of football. Pre-season training is going well and the boys have looked as good as a Premier League side.”
All Cocking wants is an opportunity to play football at the highest possible level and selection in last years State Schoolboys, which was followed by inclusion in the national shadow squad, gave him a taste of what is possible when you put your mind to it. “To represent your State is a great honour and one I really enjoyed,” he said. “I didn’t get much time on the park but that’s the system, however, I did manage to be leading scorer. I hold Coach Damian Attowe in high regard and as I’m at TAFE this year I would look forward to representing Western Australian again, if selected.”
As far as the future is concerned Cocking is focused on the coming season with Balcatta but admits he’d jump should the opportunity arise to return to the Premier League and put himself in the frame for GloryYouth. “I have to keep focused, train hard and keep learning, as you never know what the future may hold for you,’ said Cocking. “I would love to get an opportunity with the Glory youth and Gareth Naven - I have seen what they have done for Dean Evans, Scott Neville and others and I’d like to push a spot in the side. But that is only going to be possible if I perform on the pitch - which is what I intend to do at Balcatta.”
RUKAVYTSYA MAKES A-LEAGUE ALL-STARS
Recently-departed Perth Glory striker Nikita Rukavytsya is the only player from the club to make the A-League All-Star team named by Football Federation Australia today. Adelaide United, who narrowly missed out on the minor premiership to Melbourne Victory, were the most represented club with five player in the squad which was voted on by football fans. Queensland Roar and Wellington Phoenix has two players each while there was one apiece from Central Coast Mariners, Glory and Victory.
The 2008/09 A-League All-Stars are Eugene Galekovic (Adelaide United), Cassio (Adelaide United), Craig moore (Queensland Roar), Sasa Ognenovski (Adelaide United), Scott Jamieson (Adelaide United), Travis Dodd (Adelaide United), Mile Jedinak (Central Coast Mariners), Carlos Hernandez (Melbourne Victory), Michael Zullo (Queensland Roar), Shane Smeltz (Wellington Phoenix) and Nikita Rukavytsya (Perth Glory) with Aurelio Vidmar (Adelaide United) as coach.
BORO NEED TO KEEP WINNING SAYS JONES
Middlesbrough goalkeeper Brad Jones realises the importance of every single game and is determined to help keep his club in the Premier League. Jones produced his second man of the match performance in as many weeks on Saturday but ultimately could not help his team gain a vital point in their battle against relegation. "We still haven't got the win that we so desperately need," said Jones. "The dressing room is down at the moment which is to be expected but we've got some strong people in there who will come back out next week and put in a real performance - that's all we can do. We could play a lot worse than we did against Manchester City and probably come out with a result - that's just the way it goes sometimes."
26-year old Jones, capped once by Australia, remains confident and hopes a win against West Ham United in this weekend’s FA Cup round will inspire Boro to turn around their league form. "We have to keep giving 100 percent and hope it's enough to do the job," he said. "Every game is important now. We've got thirteen to go and every point is massive. We have to try and use the home games and get the crowd behind us. I thought the away support at Man City was excellent and we need more of that. Hopefully a win in the Cup on Saturday can give us a bit of confidence but the players are in no doubt as to what is more important - we have to stay up. We need everybody together and the crowd to stick with us and I'm sure we'll get out."
GOSNELLS LOOK FOR DEVINE INTERVENTION
Scott Devine’s career has gone full circle with the nuggetty midfielder’s return to Gosnells City. After a highly successful decade-plus long career in the top flight 33-year old Devine has put family life before football, which will take a back seat. “I decided my fitness isn’t up to Premier League level and with the birth of my second child I don’t have the time to commit to getting it back to that level,” explained Devine, whose career has featured stays at Armadale, Western Knights, Swan IC Stirling Macedonia and Kelmscott Roos.
The former State player has enjoyed the pre-season at Walter Padbury Reserve and is delighted to return to the club where he started out. “I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the players at the club; they have a very young squad with a fair bit of potential,” Devine said. “The boys are buzzing at training and we expect to let every team we play know they have been in a match. I know it will come down to how much consistency the young boys can show as to how high up the league we finish, but a strong season this year and then maybe a good crack at promotion next year might be more realistic.”
By his own admission, Devine struggled for consistency last season at Armadale due for the most part to a neck injury problem. “The injuries are okay, well so far so good,” said Devine, who also had to contend with ankle injuries during his time at Alfred Skeet Oval. “I played a big chunk of last year with a neck injury and ended up missing the tail end but the body feels good for the extra rest and now it’s just a matter of getting the fitness going having been out for so long.”
Devine enjoyed his three seasons at Armadale where he feels privileged to have played under some of the local scenes best coaches. “My time at Armadale was very enjoyable; it’s a good club and good bunch of boys. I also had the pleasure of playing under four top coaches in my three years there - Peter Murphy, Billy Russell, Tom Kilkelly and Brad Hassell,” he commented. “There were many highlights and beating the drop in my first year was special. It was a very different experience for me coming from the Knights, who were challenging for honours every season, but the fact everyone had written us off half way through the year and we then managed to pull ourselves out of it was a credit to the whole squad.”
Continuing his career under Gosnells new coaching team of Tony Maguire and Alan Dunlop is something Devine is looking forward to. “I’ve known Tony for a long time, it was actually him that took me to Swan all those years ago. What you see is what you get with Tony, he will get us fit organised and up to compete regardless of the opposition,” he said. “Having played against Alan on numerous occasions, I now he’s got bags of enthusiasm and his experience not only on the training ground but also on the pitch will be priceless for the boys.”
Maguire, who steered Gosnells’ Masters to a historic League and Cup double last year, could not be happier about having Devine in his squad. “Scotty is a great signing for us,” commented Maguire, whose playing days took him to Swan, Ferndale United and Gosnells. “It was my main priority to get him back to his former club and we’re delighted to have him here. Basically he wants to finish his playing career here and wants to pass on his experience to young lads here and I’m really grateful for that.”
Gosnells always have had a good juniors system and the club’s future would be rosy if they could only make the step up to the Premier League. “I have always said that myself, unfortunately, it’s easier said than done,” Devine sid. “This year is more about getting the boys to be competitive in every game, we are not talking ourselves up for promotion but we will be a very hard team to beat. Hopefully the younger boys will see the club are trying to head in the right direction (promotion), that has probably been lacking in the past, and they’ll get on board with what is already a talented young squad.”
SOCCEROOS GET VITAL POINT IN JAPAN
Australia is within touching distance of the World Cup finals following a scoreless draw with their toughest qualification rivals Japan in Yokohama this evening. Under pressure for long periods, the Socceroos somehow dodged bullet after Japanese bullet to maintain their two-point lead at the top of their Asian qualifying group. Coach Pim Verbeek admitted the performance was far from brilliant but was nonetheless thrilled with a result which keeps his side unbeaten and not having conceded a goal in their four matches. "We didn't deserve to win this game, we have to be honest about that. I think 0-0 was the maximum (we could have expected)," Verbeek said. "The last 20 to 25 minutes we started to get a little bit tired, Japan started to be more dangerous. I am pleased with my 0-0."
The tone was set early as Australia gave away three free-kicks in dangerous positions around the box and created little in the way of attack. Luckily, Shunsuke Nakamura and Yasuhito Endo were unable to find a way to trouble goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer. Australia’s only chance of the half was a long-range strike by Tim Cahill which went straight to ‘keeper Ryota Tsuzuki in the 45th minute. Wastefulness and waywardness in the final third became continuing themes for Japan, even as the home team smothered Australia like a wet blanket throughout the second half as more than 65,000 fans roared them on. Their best chance came in the 70th minute when Endo's bullet from 20-metres was smartly saved by Schwarzer. Eight minutes later Keiji Tamada let the Socceroos off the hook by heading over the crossbar at point-blank range.
CALL-UP WORTH THE LONG WAIT FOR COYNE
Chris Coyne is relishing rubbing shoulders again with his Socceroos team mates, even though h is a longs shot to feature in Australia’s staring line-up for tonight’s World Cup qualifier against Japan. The Colchester United captain has learnt to be patient after spending years in the international wilderness before Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek seized on his experience at the ripe age of 29. The retirement of Craig Moore - who has since returned to the international stage - presented Coyne his opportunity and he’s hardly put a foot wrong in five outings since debuting against Iraq last year.
Unfortunately, Coyne has not played a first team match since injuring a knee in an English League One game on Boxing Day and is long odds to force his way into the starting eleven ahead of Moore or Lucas Neill. “It’s one of those situations where I won’t be counting my chickens but I’m here and if selected I’ll do my utmost for the team and wear the shirt with pride,” he told Jonathon Cook of the ‘West Australian’. “Fitness isn’t an issue - I’ve had a couple of run outs with the reserves. I’ve given myself every opportunity with the rehab. I’ve been putting in the hard yards as that if I am selected, I’m fit and ready.”
Having rejected an opportunity to play for the republic of Ireland, Coyne is finally reaping the benefits of his loyalty to Australia. And as the Socceroos edge towards qualifying for next year’s World Cup in South Africa, he is even more determined to keep himself in contention for a place on footballs biggest stage. “I’ve been speaking to a few of the boys who had the opportunity at the last World Cup and we can almost smell it now,” said Coyne. “It’s something I always dreamed of so hopefully I can push on and make sure we get there.”
VALE REG DAVIES
Welsh international and former State striker Reg Davies passed away yesterday at the age of 79. Born in the Welsh valley town of Cymmer, Davies played alongside some of Britain's finest during a stellar professional career which started at Southend United in 1949. His goal scoring talents through seven seasons with Newcastle United earned six appearances for the Welsh national team. Four seasons at Swansea City preceded time with Carlisle United, Merthyr Tydfil and Kings Lynn.
Davies headed to Perth in 1971 where he played for Bayswater United, Ascot and East Fremantle Tricolore, whom he coached to D'Orsogna Cup victory in 1978. He represented Western Australia in 1972 at the remarkable age of 42, however, it wasn't the debut that he would have preferred after breaking ribs and puncturing a lung during the friendly with German side Hertha 03 Zehlendorf. Davies was honoured with inclusion in the Western Australian Football Hall of Fame's 'Century of Champions' in 2002.
KOVACEVIC SIGNS UP WITH GLORY
Perth Glory has made a significant addition to their football department with former defender Ante Kovacevic returning to the club as team manager. The newly created role will see Kovacevic work side-by-side with coach David Mitchell as he looks after player welfare, team logistics, player liaison and the continued development of relationships between Glory and the West Australian football community. “Perth Glory is a proud club and the mainstay of elite football in Western Australia and I’m delighted to be part of the team that is working to restore the glory years,” Kovacevic said.
Renowned as an uncompromising defender during a 279 game national league career, Kovacevic has the passion to ensure this role enhances Glory’s prospects. “Football has been a huge part of my life and to be able to contribute to Perth Glory and the game is something I’m very excited about. I’m passionate about the club and the sport in general and I want to see football continue to prosper in WA and believe that can be greatly enhanced by having a successful Perth Glory team.”
Scott Gooch, Glory’s chief executive, is delighted to have Kovacevic on board. “Ante’s appointment is the start of a restructure that will give our club the best opportunity to prepare and then perform on the pitch,” said Gooch. “We see Ante as the ideal person to act as a conduit between the coaching staff, administration and the players plus also to continue to strengthen the relationships between Perth Glory and the vibrant local football community. Ante is a quality person who understands the game and has a passion for the club and we look forward to his further contribution to Perth Glory.”
Kovacevic will be first port of call for new players arriving in Perth as well as assisting those transitioning from the Youth team and local league to the national stage. “The bottom line is you want players to be performing as soon as possible and I believe that the quicker they settle into a new town the quicker you’ll get the best out of their footballing abilities on the park,” said Kovacevic. “Even for players who are moving up a level, I will be there to assist in that transition and help them to settle more quickly into life as a senior professional footballer.”
WOMEN'S FOOTBALL JOINS WAIS
The Western Australian Institute of Sport has added women’s football to their roster of sports programs for the London Olympiad. Women’s football and diving will join WAIS’s twelve existing programs for the 2009-2012 period, with the aim of producing athletes for the nation’s 2012 Olympic Games team and beyond. “We’re excited by the opportunities that working with women’s football and diving will provide for the next four years leading into London,” WAIS executive director Steve Lawrence said. “In the past few years WA has produced international class athletes like footballers Collette McCallum and Lisa Da Vanna and diver Natasha Cocker and we look forward to working with Football West and WA Diving to continue to develop future world class athletes in these sports.”
The WAIS women’s football program will be run in partnership with Football West and the Football Federation Australia. “Football West are absolutely delighted that our elite women’s football players have been admitted to WAIS in what is a new era in women’s sport in this country,” said Garry Chandler, chief executive of FW. “With the success of our National Training Centre program for the past three years, and with the Westfield W-League completing it’s inaugural season, there is now a clear pathway from grassroots to the national side and we are confident that we will see a lot more Western Australian players pulling on the green and gold of Australia in the near future.”
MANDURAH SCORE BONUS POINTS
Mandurah City moved to the top of the Night Series Group B table after being awarded all three points from the opening round fixture with Cockburn City. The match itself ended in a 2-2 draw, however, that result was overturned by Football West who awarded the game to Mandurah 3-0 on account of Cockburn fielding a player. The three points leapfrog Mandurah over Floreat Athena and sets up a tantalising top of the table showdown this Friday at Litis Stadium.
FFA SEEK WORLD CUP TALKS WITH GOVERNMENT
Football officials will seek talks with the State Government as fears rise that Perth could miss out on plans to host the World Cup. The absence of a suitable stadium has already ruined Western Australia’s chances of hosting next month’s Asian Cup qualifier between the Socceroos and Kuwait, and now the State is faced with the prospect of being excluded from Football Federation Australia’s World Cup hosting plans because it does not have an adequate venue.
The Government’s decision to delay a proposed 60,000-seat stadium leaves Perth without a venue that meets the strict World Cup criteria set by FIFA. “What we want to see is a stadia policy that allows us to bring World Cup matches to Perth and we believe that can be achieved with the plans that are afoot for the redevelopment of Subiaco,” FFA chief executive Ben Buckley told Jonathon Cook of the ‘West Australian’. “But I think we’d also like to see an upgrade to Members Equity Stadium because at the moment it needs some adaptation and renovation to bring it up to the standard that fans expect.”
Buckley confirmed that FFA would seek discussions with the WA Government regarding stadium redevelopment proposals. “We’ve had a team that’s already met members of the Department of Sport and Recreation recently to understand some of the plans,” he said. “But importantly we need to go back to the WA Government with our view on the proposed upgrade to Subiaco and also what our view is on how Members Equity should be redeveloped.”
FFA contemplated playing next month’s Asian Cup qualifier, which is unlikely to include Australia’s overseas stars, at the 17,000-capacity Members Equity Stadium before assessing the venue more closely and opting for Canberra Stadium instead. “Perth was considered but in the current state, Members Equity Stadium is not an attractive place to play any international matches,” Buckley said. Subiaco Oval was not considered to host the Socceroos’ game against Kuwait because its configuration makes for poor viewing for soccer matches.
DOLPHINS BEAT ARMADALE IN A CANTER
Rafael Insaurralde and Phil O'Callaghan found the net as Mandurah City out-classed Armadale 2-0 in the twilight fixture at Alfred Skeet Oval. Mandurah were on the attack early with O'Callaghan scooping over the crossbar at close-range from Ryan Townsend's cross. Craig Young and Andy Brown teamed up to again deliver the ball into the danger zone where Insaurralde's nimbled footwork allowed him to stab in the opening goal after 8 minutes. Mandurah continued to dominate possession and would have had a few more goals on the board if not for inaccuracy and the frame of the goal. Cyril Sharrock's fluffed attempt to clear seven minutes from the break put the ball with O'Callaghan who punished the error by lofting over the stranded 'keeper and into an empty net. Armadale should have hit back straight after the re-start when Mandurah were caught square at the back by Mo Atak's through ball to Marlon Ramirez who was thwarted by Phil Straker's reflexes.
The intensity dropped away after the break with the heat taking its toll on players from both teams. Consequently, the quality of football slowly deteriorated as errors and general sloppiness increasingly crept into the game. The introduction of Chris Currie, Tom Cullen and Marco Aleksic added a bit more pace to the Mandurah line-up, and while the southerners controlled much of the play they struggled to create much in the way of goal scoring opportunities. It was a similar story for Armadale whose preference for playing the ball long failed to reap any rewards against a strong defensive line marshalled by Jason Godfrey and Jay Bonser. The only shot of note came was Andy Brown's rasping drive which flashed high and resulted from Cullen's fine lead-up work. While neither coach would have been particularly happy with the second half fade-out, Stuart Currie had good reason to smile with the win taking Mandurah to the top of the Group B leader board.
SMASH AND GRAB KNIGHTS DUMP YOUNG LIONS
Western Knights overturned a two-goal deficit to blitz a brave Stirling Lions 5-2 in this evening's showdown at Alfred Skeet Oval. A couple of Rory Feely headers had Stirling in a commanding position at the break, however, goals in quick succession from Aaron Bahadori, Luka Jukic, David Micevski, Mario Marcinko and Barry Devlin turned the game on it's head. The early passages were dominated by the Knights as Jukic and Devlin went close to regisdtering the games first goal. The battle for ascendency in midfield pitted Alan Muir and Jordan Rhodes against David Price and David Micevski, with neither partnership able to take control. The breakthrough came on 22 minutes when Rhodes whipped in a perfect cross for 18-year old Feely who rose highest to head powerfully into the back of the net. The end to end nature of the game presented chances for both teams but Michael Pugliese fired into the arms of goalkeeper Frazer Siddall, while Marcinko's shot was prevented from crossing the line by a defender. Stirling doubled their lead on 37 minutes when Jason Mirco sent in an inviting cross which Feely majestically nodded in.
It took only a minute for the Knights to make clear their second half intentions, Badahori captialising on poor defending to blast into the net from David Micevski's centre. The teams were level five minutes later when David Micevski's run was unceremoniously halted, and Jukic crashed a resulting free-kick through a fail defensive wall. Matthew Italiano attempted to stem the flow of goals but lifted his shot just high on the end of a strirring run. The Knights grabbed the lead with what was arguably the goal of the game on 59 minutes, David Micevski lashing a crisp half-volley beyond the 'keepers reach and into the top corner from 30-metres. Marcinko added his name to the score sheet for the second time in as many week by heading in at close-range Price's delivery. The points were made safe on 62 minutes when Devlin was presented with a simple tap-in. The win keeps the Knights undefeated and level with Sorrento on top of Group A, while it's time to go back to the drawing board for Stirling.
RODGERS TAKES PHOENIX TO BRINK OF SEMIS (courtesy South West Phoenix)
South West Phoenix moved to within reach of a First Division Night Series semi-final appearance after downing Morley Windmills 2-1 at Dorrien Gardens this evening. Returning striker David Rodgers may have bagged both goals which keep Phoenix unbeaten in Group B, but it was goalkeeper Ryan Montgomery who was the hero of the hour with a second half penalty save that turned the game. First half highlights were few and far between as both teams struggled to assert control nor create a great deal in the way of goal scoring chances. The only real shot came when Simon El Chami linked well with Farrell Hedges and Scott McIlroy before cutting in between two opponents only to crash his shot off the crossbar.
The pace quickened in the second half that was four minutes old when Patrick Quinn played down the right for Steve Suttie, whose cross was nodded into the top corner by David Rodgers. Morley should have equalised when awarded a spot penalty but Mitch Brydon’s spot kick was too close to Ryan Montgomery who made the save comfortably. It took Phoenix less than a minute to challenge the ball to the other via a well-crafted move that ended with David Murphy’s pin-point cross to the back post headed in by Rodgers at close-range. Morley’s efforts were rewarded on the stroke of full-time when Wayne Culverwell headed in a cross from Edward Walsh. Forrestfield United defeated Balcatta 2-1 in the late game.
RAMPANT BAYSWATER TO GOOD FOR NEIGHBOURS (courtesy Bayswater City)
A trio of first half goals laid the foundations for Bayswater City's 4-2 win against neighbouring Ashfield in today's twilight game at Litis Stadium. The scoring was opened after 10 minutes when Ryan Frisina out-paced the defence before coming out the better in a one-on-one with goalkeeper Matt Darling. Frisina put away his second soon after by timing his perfectly his run to meet Mark Donnelly's back post cross. The gap was widened even further ten minutes from the break when Donnelly carried ball from deep to blast wide of the oncoming 'keeper. Adrian Sutton had the misfortune of turning Simon Barber's cross from the left past his own 'keeper on 75 minutes to reduced the deficit. This jarred Bayswater back into life and soon after Damien Catalano side-footed in at close-range Ryan Jeans' cut-back. Poor defending at a cross permitted Mick McgGrath to bag Ashfield a late consolation, and bring some respectability to the score line. Wanneroo collected all three points from the late fixture by trouncing Queens Park 7-0. New recruit Robbie Cuthbert lead the way with a hat-trick as Chris Pugh (2), Brian Cairney and Guy McDonald on a night when also found the net.
GLORY YOUTH PAY THE PENALTY (by Peter Simcox)
A first half penalty conversion by Luke Bratten has propelled Queensland Roar to second on the National Youth League table through a 1-0 victory over the Perth Glory this evening at Dorrien Gardens. A cracker-jack start had Cameron Edwards in-swinging cross tipped around the post by goalkeeper Matt Acton. Roar then went close through Tim Smits who hesitated just long enough for Ryan Pearson to block the shot. Pearson was working hard at both ends of the pitch and seeing plenty of possession along with midfielder Hayden Doyle. Josh McVey squandered a golden opportunity to put the visitors ahead when he fired a low shot wide with the goal at his mercy. Glory created a slew of chances throughout the first half hour but their failure to convert any into goal would prove fateful. A 39th minute foul by Steven Hesketh on Smits produced a penalty for the visitors which Bratten confidently stroked past goalkeeper Dejan Aleksic. Howard Fondyke had two shots blocked by some solid defending, while Doyle’s curling free-kick went narrowly past the post before the break.
Glory’s lack of a finishing continued to haunt them in the second half which was nine minutes old when Edwards played down the left to Pearson who cut inside the 18-yard box but his shot flew over the bar. A charging run down the left by Ludovic Boi took him past three opponents before the 17-year old arrowed a low shot just past the post. Roar were hitting on the counter attack and on 72 minutes Adam Sarota’s free-kick forced a good save from replacement ‘keeper Alex Pearson. After this the visitors decided to sit back and soak up the pressure, safe in the knowledge that second place was theirs. But that tactic was almost their undoing as Glory captain Dean Evans unleashed a powerful shot in stoppage time which Acton tipped around the post at full-stretch. The games final drama was the red carding of Glory midfielder James Sammut for a poor challenge on Robbie Kruse just moments before the final whistle. Despite the loss Glory remain in fourth place with one game to play.
SHARLAND GUIDES FIVE STAR PERTH TO VICTORY
Perth SC has reignited their Night Series campaign by trouncing ECU Joondalup 5-1 in this afternoon’s fixture at Dorrien Gardens. Greg Sharland finished with a hat-trick and David Onoforo bagged two as Graham Normanton’s side attempt to become the first team ever to win four successive pre-season titles. A tense opening stanza had both teams regularly in their final third where resolute defending kept goal scoring opportunities to a minimum. The deadlock was eventually broken on 26 minutes when Phil Arnold rounded the defence and centred for an unmarked Onoforo to fire past goalkeeper Bobson Koroma. The response from Joondalup was almost immediate with Tommy Amphlett’s cross met by a powerful Ian McMurray header, forcing Gareth Deeg into a fine save. The resulting Jon Higgins corner was only partially cleared, the ball ending at the feet of Scott Blackmore who drilled low through a sea of legs and beyond the reach of Deeg. Half-time was looming when Sharland put Perth back in control by converting a penalty awarded after he was clumsily brought down by Martin Ashworth.
Perth picked up where they had left off and within six minutes of the re-start Sharland put away his second following an exquisite exchange of short passes. Joondalup were down but no means out as Anthony Jones threaded a neat pass to Amphlett who provided a delightful cross on to the head of McMurray which the big striker nodded against the post from point blank range. And while the introduction of Tommy Jones and Matt Donlevy the had the desired effect on Joondalup, rock solid defending lead by veteran Gianfranco Circati prevented the northerners from reeling in the gap. All the while Antonio Naglieri continued to spear Perth into attack and on 83 minutes an unmarked Onoforo tapped in at the far post a low cross from Sharland to seal the win. The evening went from bad to worse for Joondalup five minutes later when Koroma’s spiteful lunge on Onoforo was rightfully punished by a red card from the referee. Up stepped Sharland who dutifully completed his hat-trick from the spot and earn Perth three very much needed points.
HARMAN SWOOPS FOR GULLS VICTORY
Superior finishing earned Sorrento a 3-0 win against Swan United in the twilight game at Litis Stadium. Summer signings Leo Harman scored twice and Garin Collins once to keep the Gulls on top of the Group A table. Swan should have taken a 9th minute but Tom Shepheard volleyed over the junction of crossbar and post from Andy O'Neill's delivery. Todd Harnwell wasted a good chance at the other end four minutes later by pulling his shot wide after receiving a centring pass from Ciaran Hughes. The Gulls were stringing together the more promising moves and Hughes was denied a shot by a courageous smothering save by Chris Ramsey, while Harnwell sent the ball just wide after Swan failed to clear from inside their 18-yard box. Their persistence was rewarded on 28 minutes when Glen Thomas played out to the right for Harnwell whose far post cross was tucked into the net by Harman at 8-metres. Harman was unlucky not to have a second when his first attempt came back off the crossbar and his follow-up was cleared from the line by Trent Wood.
The Gulls added to their lead three minutes after the turnaround when Harman nodded in after Harnwell had glanced on Steve Porter's well-flighted free-kick from the right. Swan strived to get back into the match and through David Paone they almost had the avenue, the midfielder making his way around two opponents only to fire straight at goalkeeper Neil Young. A minute later Brendon Knox' angled strike smacked into the post and cannoned away to safety. A neat exchange presented Harman a chance to complete what would have been a deserved hat-trick but his 62nd minute lob of Ramsey hit the bar. Porter's firmly struck free-kick from the top of the 18-yard box forced a good low save from Ramsey. Thomas played the resulting corner to Porter whose cross was expertly flicked into the net by flicked substitute Collins to wrap up the game with thirteen minutes to go.
EARLY GOALS SECURE VICTORY FLOREAT VICTORY
Floreat Athena remains on course for a place in the last four of the Night Series following a 3-0 win over Cockburn City at Litis Stadium this evening. Goals inside six minutes from Daniel Neiderbeger and Brad Scott laid the foundations for victory with Jason Barerra securing maximum points midway through the first half. "The early two goals obviously set the game up for us and I was much happier with our application this week," said coach Michael Roki, whose side were held to a draw by Canning City last time out. "Cockburn are a better side than their results indicate and they certainly showed a lot of character even late in the game when the result was a foregone conclusion. I was pleased that we matched their commitment, stayed disciplined throughout the 90 minutes and kept a clean sheet, knowing that an important match looms with Mandurah City next weekend."
Neiderberger gave Floreat exactly the type of start they were after by nodding Adam Bachillor's long throw-in past goalkeeper Daniel Markovic with only 4 minutes on the clock. Cockburn's day went from bad to worse within minutes as Branimir Mikulic's searching pass found Scott who squirmed past his marker before before driving a low left footer inside the post from 20-metres. The game was ended as a contest midway through the half when off-season signing Barerra volleyed sweetly from 22-metres into an empty net after Markovic opted to challenge Scott for possession as he made his way inside the 18-yard box. Cockburn threatened first the first time soon after through Johnny Mirco who forced Alex Dunn into a good diving save. However, the visitors chances were snuffed out on 38 minutes when Ryan Pretouris was issued his marching orders for a soft second yellow card.
The second half began with Cockburn employing a more physical approach as they attempted to force their way back into the game. Johnny Mirco caused his fair share of problems for the opposing defence but, ultimately, it was Cockburn's over-reliance on their captain to lead them into attack that was their undoing. All the while a disciplined display lead by veteran Ante Kovacevic, who was supported by Jarad Smith and Simon Elton-Bott, gave very little away to ensure Cockburn worked hard for every chance. Adam Surjan got into position but his effort was tipped over the bar by Dunn, who later did well to save from Giovanni De Bartolo. And although they had an extra man on the park, Floreat too struggled when entering the final third, where young trio Devon Gibson, Paul Underwood and Nick Joshi held the balance of power. Floreat’s best chance came through Miki Vujacic whose shot was deflected high after great build-up involving Bachiller and Scott.
MATILDA’S GREATS BOW OUT AGAINST ITALY
Australia has farewelled two of the all-time greats of women’s football in the two-game friendly series against world number eleven Italy. Long-serving captain Cheryl Salisbury bowed out of the game with a record 151 games for the Matilda’s when they held Italy to a 2-2 draw in last Saturday’s opening game of the series. And today it was the turn of midfielder Jo Peters, whose 110th national team appearance ended sourly and a 5-1 loss to Italy. West Australians Lisa De Vanna and Collette McCallum featured in both goals with goalkeeper Lydia Williams and debutant Samantha Kerr appearing in the second game.
A hot afternoon did nothing to dampen the spirits of either team when they played out a spirited 2-2 draw in front of crowd of close to 3,000 at Parramatta Stadium. Australia took a 54th minute lead through Lisa De Vanna's curling shot, but it was to prove short-lived with Pamela Conti hitting back just three minutes later. Cheryl Salisbury marked his last game for Australia by converting a 65th minute penalty awarded for a foul on Sarah Walsh by goalkeeper Chiara Marchitelli. Both teams continued to attack with Italy breaking through in the 78th minute when Alessia Tuttino's shot was too hot for Melissa Barbieri to handle.
Melania Gabbiadini nodded in a cross from the right for the first goal after 6 minutes, then captain Patrizia Panico was on hand to nod in at close-range after Lydia Williams paddled a dangerous cross onto the crossbar. Pamela Conti stroked in number three following a collision between Gabbiadini and Williams. Panico slid her shot underneath the advancing Williams after 57 minutes before substitute Collette McCallum got Australia on the board with a 20-metre volley what the ‘keeper spilled. Panico iced italy’s cake with ten minutes remaining by drilling in Gabbiadini’s cross.
GLORY BID FOR HOME SHOT AT EVERTON
English Premier League club Everton are being lined up to play a friendly with Perth Glory this July in Perth according to the A-League clubs’ co-owner, Tony Sage. Glory are keen to capitalise on the presence of a growing number of English clubs visiting Asia during their off-season and Everton could be the first of many to use Perth as an additional pre-season stopover. Tentative inquiries had been directed towards heavyweights Manchester United and Chelsea, though Sage admitted they would be tougher nuts to crack. “The Everton one is a very serious opportunity and we’d love to get it,” Sage told Jonathon Cook of the ‘West Australian’. “It’s just not locked away yet. We’ve made a request to Man United because they are going to be in Jakarta (in July) and then we found out Chelsea are also in the region and we’ve made contact with them.”
Perth regularly hosted matches featuring teams such as West Ham United, Nottingham Forest, Werder Bremen and Sampdoria, before the formation of Glory in 1996. Despite Perth having no venue suitable for international fixtures, Sage said a friendly between Glory and an overseas team could be played at either Members Equity Stadium or Subiaco Oval. He said the WA Government, which recently put on hold plans for a new multi-purpose stadium, was unlikely to provide assistance. “We see this as an opportunity to get high-quality football here in Perth and if the Government won’t help, we’ll do it ourselves,” said Sage, who expects to know next week whether Glory have been successful in luring Everton to Perth. Glory are also negotiating to travel to the Netherlands for a pre-season tournament just before the proposed Everton match in mid-July.
SECOND HALF BLITZ GETS INGLEWOOD HOME (courtesy Football West)
Inglewood United have opened their Night Series account with a stunning 3-1 win over Premier League newcomers Canning City this evening at Dorrien Gardens. An assertive first half performance had Canning leading at the break, however, the game was turned on its head by a trio of rapid-fire goals from Rory Grant (2) and Mladen Kovacevic which ultimately decided the outcome. Kyle Mitsopolous and Daniel Trevisol were lively up front for Canning who held possession for length in their attacking half for much of the first fifteen minutes. So it was surprising that the games first real chance came at the opposite end where Dannie Richman was found unmarked inside the penalty area but the young midfielder hurried his shot over the crossbar. Canning responded juts a minute later when Trevisol’s snap shot caught out goalkeeper Louis Italiano, whose blushes were saved by Simon Woolley. As the game looked like heading to a stalemate at half-time, Duaane Hepburn broke clear of the Inglewood defence to power his shot past Italiano and hand Canning a deserved lead.
The second half opened with Inglewood showing exactly why they are being touted by some as potential championship material. Parity was restored on 53 minutes when a corner from the far right was met by Kevin Griffiths, who angled his header towards the far post was blasted into the back of the net by Mladen Kovacevic. The goals didn’t stop there and six minutes later Grant created space for himself by wrong footing Admir Mehic then hammering beyond the grasp of Adam Guthridge to put Inglewood in the box seat. Grant had his within minutes with a crisp volley from Richman’s deep cross which was in the net before Guthridge had time to react. Canning’s young custodian prevented the margin from blowing out with a fantastic diving save which denied Grant his hat-trick. The final play of the evening had substitute Jason Colli unleash a rocket of a shot which smacked into the upright, much to the relief of the Canning coaching staff.
ROCKINGHAM IN A DIFFERENT CLASS TO DIANELLA (courtesy Rockingham City)
Rockingham City cast aside Dianella White Eagles 4-0 at Alfred Skeet Oval to continue their perfect start to the First Division Night Series. The win keeps Rockingham level on points with Fremantle Spirit at the top of the Group A table after two games. Luca Ivincic laid on the opening goal after 45 minutes with a perfectly weighted cross which Matthew Leckenby volleyed past goalkeeper Todd Bushby. The defence of Luke Rennie, Darren Lawler, Andrew Keary and ‘keeper Peter Kuzet were on top of their game thwarting Dianella as they sought to equalise. Dianella breathed a collective sigh of relief late in the half when Adam McLeod’s chip from the edge of the 18-yard box came back off the crossbar.
John McCreery and McLeod took control of the middle of the park after the break as Rockingham took their game up a notch. A stunning 30-metre strike from man of the match McLeod doubled their lead on 67 minutes and provided the catalyst for Rockingham to run away with the game. A clever move down the left ended with David Clarke, who had been on the park only minutes, tucking in their third. And with 71 minutes on the clock Leckenby drove in a near post corner which Craig McCreery headed in to make it four-nil. McCreery was unfortunate not to add another with an audacious scissor kick which was brilliantly saved by the ‘keeper. In the early game, Fremantle Spirit defeated Gosnells City 3-0 courtesy of goals by George Tsiaplias, Tom Straker and Peter Vukmirovic.
OXTOBY IS GLORY’S MOST GLORIOUS
Team captain Tanya Oxtoby has celebrated the inaugural W-League season by capturing the ‘Most Glorious Woman’s Player’ award for Perth Glory. The 26-year old defender’s courage and non-stop work-rate make her a role model for many of the younger girls in the team and a popular winner of the club’s highest individual award. It was no surprise that Marianna Tabain, 16, took out the Golden Boot having found the net on four occasions in her eight appearances. Tabain’s goalscoring exploits were also recognised with the Goal of the Year at the recent W-League awards ceremony. Defender Stacy Learmont, 23, was presented with the Players Player of the Year trophy.
Glory Women’s rocky start to the season was acknowledged by coach Nicola Williams during her speech at the awards night. “The first few games of the season were a testing ground for the girls to build up confidence in their skills against the other premier teams. Once they had the belief in themselves that they belonged there, they really started to make their mark on the league,” she said. “There is a lot of talent in the room here tonight, and I have faith that we can build on that to make next season, Perth Glory Women’s season.” Glory Women ended the season strongly only to miss out on the play-offs by three points.
THE WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
Round Two of the 2009 McInerney Ford Night Series commences this evening with Canning City and Inglewood United (6.30pm) going head to head at Dorrien Gardens. Canning gave a good account of themselves’ last week and will be buoyed by Paul Van Dongen’s return from suspension along with the availability of English import Adam Thurston. There could be as many as five changes to the Inglewood line-up as Lee Bamber toys with bringing in Louis Parkinson, Danny Richman, Simon Woolley, Matt Worton and young goalkeeper Louis Italiano.
Sorrento is expected to be too strong for Swan United (6.30pm) when they meet at Litis Stadium on Saturday. Goals from Ciaran Hughes and Todd Harnwell earned the Gulls all three points last week, and in a worrying sign for their rivals the win was achieved without suspended trio Shaun Kilkelly, Michael Ord and Stuart Montgomery. It’s going to take an almighty effort for Swan to come away with anything from this game but if they do you can be assured Aaron Cole, Andy O’Neill and Tom Shepheard have figured prominently.
Cockburn City and Floreat Athena (8.00pm) each collected a point last time out and will want to add another three from their meeting at Litis Stadium. Former New Zealand international Brad Scott is likely to be promoted to the starting eleven by Floreat boss Michael Roki, who’ll be minus Dean Apelgren (ankle), John Migas (hamstring), Julian Madaschi (broken toe) and Callum Roberts (ankle). There were plenty of positives to come out of Cockburn’s fighting draw with Mandurah City and Mirko Jelicic looking for a similarly spirited performance from his young side on Saturday.
Perth SC must take the points over ECU Joondalup (7.30pm) at Dorrien Gardens on Saturday to keep alive their hopes of a fourth straight Night Series crown. Unfortunately, injury is already causing Graham Normanton headaches with an ankle problem ruling out Matt Danskin and clouds of doubt hanging over defenders Trent Kay and Craig Simpson. Joondalup will fancy their chances of claiming victory following the mid-week recruitment of Scott Bushby, Ryan McDarby and English import Kenny Weston.
Alfred Skeet Oval is the place to be on Sunday when Armadale and Mandurah City (6.00pm) get proceedings under way. Reds coach Brad Hassell will be hoping for another superb defensive display from Matt Bennion and summer signing Scott Daley as they head into the match minus last week’s goal scoring hero Peter Taylor (suspended). Craig Young, James Hesketh and State team captain Andy Brown will make their first appearances of the year for Mandurah, who’ll miss terribly Jeff Bright’s (knee) attacking influence.
Western Knights can take a giant step towards a semi-final appearance by downing the young guns of Stirling Lions (8.00pm) at Alfred Skeet Oval. David Micevski, Luka Jukic and David Price were in exquisite form when Paul Price’s coaching tenure at the Knights got off to a flying start with victory over Perth SC. Mike Lyons faith in youth was at the heart of Stirling’s comprehensive win over Swan United and he’ll be sticking with that same formula while adding former Red Star Belgrade youth defender Igor Ilikj into the mix.
SAMMUT READY TO ROAR
Perth Glory Youth midfielder James Sammut has put his hand up for selection after missing the recent trip to Adelaide. A minor injury problem meant Sammut was a spectator for last week's loss at Adelaide United, but the former Inglewood United player says he fit and ready to go for Saturday's game with Queensland Roar at Dorrien Gardens. "I didn't travel with the lads last week due to a muscle injury. It was a disappointing loss as I know the boys were going over with confidence," he said. "I've trained close to full intensity all week and hopefully be back in the squad this week to take on the Roar."
20-year old Sammut has made a big impact in the middle of the park for Glory Youth and is focused on carrying this good form through to the end of the campaign. "I have played most of my time in the middle of the park this season but, I've also been played out wide from time to time," he explained. "A solid season at Inglewood helped me with the transition to the National Youth League, where the pace of the game is much quicker, but I'm getting used to that now.'
Playing in the national competition is a dream come true for Sammut, who has his sights set on earning a full-time contract with Glory. "It's been great at the Glory this season, there's been a high intensity all year round by all the boys, and I think we have improved immensely not only individually but as a team since we came together six months ago," commented Sammut. "It would be really great to get a game in the senior side. I would like to think that I will get another contract next season and eventually make that next step to the first team."
Sammutt enjoyed playing under coach Lee Bamber at Inglewood last season and is contemplating a return to the club when Glory Youth complete their schedule next week against Newcastle Jets. "We had a good season last year and Lee worked well with all the players and had us playing good football throughout the season which got us into the top four," he said. "I know the coaches and players are working hard down there again this pre-season to improve even more on last season's results and performances."
Bamber was delighted with Sammut's contributions in 2008 and is pleased the youngster has been able to further develop his game with Glory Youth over the summer. "He's a young lad learning his trade who continually strives to better himself, his work rate and commitment is second to none," said the Inglewood boss. "He's got a deserved opportunity at Glory to try and break into the pro-game but if it doesn't happen this season we'll sit down with him and look at which areas of his game he needs to improve to make the step up."
A trip abroad in 2007 gave Sammut a good feel for what is expected to play at the top level, but for the time being the talented midfielder is content to remain on Australian shores. "I travelled to the UK for a couple of months to train with Portsmouth and West Ham United," he said. "It was a great experience and played matches over there for both teams which was great. I would always consider going back overseas to play football but at the moment I'm enjoying my football in Australia and hopefully more opportunities will come my way to make it to the next level."
A NEW VISION FOR GOSNELLS
Gosnells City's new coaching team of Tony Maguire and Alan Dunlop have challenged their squad to improve significantly on the seventh place gained last season. And it appears the players are up for the contest going by last weeks 1-0 night Sereis against Dianella White Eagles which came about through a Darren Francis goal. "The pre-season has been good and it's going well for us," said Maguire. "We've trained hard and the young squad have really started to gel ... But we've got our feet firmly on the ground and we know we've got a long way to go and know we've got to improve in certain areas."
To give Gosnells the best possible chance of climbing up the First Division Maguire has added some quality in key areas. Former Western Knights captain Scott Devine and Scottish striker Stuart Aikens have already joined the club with Maguire hopeful of adding a few more faces before the season proper commences. "Both Scott and Stuart missed the Dianella game, and we've also have a number of players nursing injuries, so I'm not going to rush them back," said Maguire. "It gives us a great opportunity to look at the young lads in the squad and we hope to start to rebuild the club."
Maguire is thrilled to have Dunlop, a former State team goalkeeper, as his playing assistant. "He had a terrific game against Dianella the other night and he's training well," said Maguire. "It's always good to have an experienced 'keeper behind the back four, he talks a lot and helps the lads out back there. He's had a number of injuries but, touch wood, he seems free of them at the moment and he's been great in the coaching role with me too. We work well together, I'm the old one and he brings a vast amount of experience which seems to be working well."
Dunlop is enjoying both his on and off field roles for Gosnells. "I do some training with the clubs 'keepers but I fell fine and I'm enjoying my football at the moment," he said. "I'm thoroughly enjoying my Coaching role too; it's a great opportunity for me. I'm lucky the club gave me the chance, I played for them last season under Tony Campbell and I helped out at training which I enjoyed. I was really keen when the job came up and working with Macca is great, he knows a great deal about the game and I'm quite young with fresh ideas and I'm looking forward to helping Gosnells this season."
Gosnells' first up Night Series win against Dianella provides the club a perfect launch pad for the coming season, one they hope to finish with a trophy. "Many clubs don't take the Night Series that serious, we've had a chat about it and we hope to get some silverware at the club and try and attract a few more players," explained Dunlop. "If we show we are positive, and raise the profile of the club it may help us."
Attentions at Gosnells are now switching to this weekend encounter with Fremantle Spirit, who showed no mercy in spanking Queens Park 9-0 last Saturday. "We've got a difficult game this week when we play Fremantle who were convincing winners in the opening encounter," said Dunlop, who is confident Gosnells are rady for the challenge. They still look to be a strong side but we've prepared well for the game and we'll see how we go." Gosnells take on Fremantle tomorrow evening from 6.30pm at Alfred Skeet Oval.
JOONDALUP PUT A WEEK OF TURMOIL TO BED
They say a week is a long time in politics and the same can be said of the coaching situation at Premier League club ECU Joondalup. Alan Vest’s shock resignation late last week initially threw the club into a tailspin but into the breech has stepped Syd Amphlett, who relinquished the presidency to become first team coach. “I now have the opportunity to coach in the Premier League, which I have strived for and intend to make the most of it,” said Amphlett, whose resume includes nine years at the helm of English non-League outfit Wolstanton United. “It’s been a great first week anyway for me, thoroughly enjoyable and the players reacted exactly the way I expected.”
While delighted to take up the reins, Amphlett is far from happy with the way Vest handled his departure from the club. “I’m bitterly disappointed over the Vest saga. It now seems that the rumours about (Alan being approached by) Inglewood that surfaced prior to Christmas were true, although we will probably never know the true story as Alan has not yet actually rang to tell me. We only found out when he sent a message via Willie McNally that he had resigned his position,” said Amphlett. “Willie cited a number of reasons Alan was unhappy, and although he had not spoken to me the week prior we had spoken to a couple of senior people on the committee over not having international players cleared and a lack of players to choose from for the Night Series.”
Joondalup take on Perth SC this weekend and Amphlett for one can not wait to put his team up against the Night Series trophy holders. “What could be better? I can’t wait for Saturday … we’ll be competitive and up for the task. The biggest test is the League season ahead and I have to ensure we have a squad capable of challenging the best, which will include Perth,” explained Amphlett, who welcomes some familiar faces back to the club for this weekend’s game. “Scott Bushby has returned, Ryan McDarby has re-joined us from Mandurah and import Kenny Weston is cleared to play so we’ve got three more quality players to pick from.”
Like everyone else, Joondalup will continue to develop and enhance their squad as the regular season approaches. “We have some good players from overseas which will make our squad stronger. David Jones is a ‘keeper from the USA; Greg Gosling is a midfielder from the UK and striker Adam Pogrom is also from the UK. These boys need international clearance but now live in Australia and intend to be at ECU for more than one year,” explained Amphlett. “We had 41 players trained for the first and second team on Tuesday, the most we have had since the start of the season!”
One of Joondalup’s major assets is a terrific youth set-up that continues to come up with the goods. “Young players have stepped up (this season), Mark Tebbutt played last week, Jake Benson Cooper has been outstanding and Max Pope was impressive on Tuesday,” said Amphlett of a system that nurtured new Adelaide United signing Rostyn Griffiths, and Middlesbrough defender Rhys Williams and Aston Villa’s Shane Lowry. “As with other players every year, we expect one or two to come through but we are looking at all of them and have no intention of stopping the talent in the Academy coming through. Against Perth we expect to see at least eight ex-Academy players in the starting line up.”
CACERES EYES ANOTHER CROWN
Winning the A-League Grand Final with Melbourne Victory two years ago has not quenched Adrian Caceres’ thirst for success. The former Perth Glory attacker now wants a second helping and is confident Central Coast Mariners, who ended the regular season in fourth place, can defy the odds and storm to the club’s first A-League title. “It doesn’t matter where you finish, you still have to play the teams that are up there and you’ve got to be good enough on the day,” said Caceres. “When I played with Melbourne we won the Grand Final 6-0 and obviously it’s the highlight of my career. But I want to change that with Central Coast. We’re doing it a bit hard but we’re going to get there.” The Mariners host Queensland Roar in the first leg of their preliminary final on Friday evening.
PERTH FAVOURITES FOR FOURTH CROWN
Night Series specialists Perth SC are tipped to continue their dominance of the pre-season tournament and lift the trophy for the fourth successive year. Perth, crowned Night Series champions on six occasions since 2001, were by far the most popular choice in the first footballwa.net poll for the year which asked ‘Who will win the 2009 Night Series?’ Graham Normanton’s side received 19% of the vote to top the count with regular season champions Sorrento (16%) a close second.
Floreat Athena and newly promoted Canning City (11%) sat jointly in third place and were followed by Cup holders Western Knights (9%) then Inglewood United (8%). Mandurah City finished level with Armadale (6%) and ahead of Cockburn City (5%). Rounding out the field were ECU Joondalup and Stirling Lions (both 4%) with Swan United (0%) on the bottom of the pile. A total of 475 votes were cast during the 27-day polling period.
ADELAIDE RETURN FOR BLACKBURN’S GRIFFITHS
Adelaide United hassnapped up Australian youth international Rostyn Griffiths on the eve of the A-League Finals. The 20-year old midfielder, whose career began at ECU Joondalup, joins Adelaide on an initial four-week deal from English Premier League club Blackburn Rovers, where he’s been playing reserve team football. “He’s a big lad, he’s got very good technique, is someone who likes to get forward, a box to box type of player and that’s certainly what we’ve been missing over the last few weeks,” said Adelaide coach Aurelio Vidmar.
A product Joondalup, Griffiths made his first team debut at the age of 14 and gaining senior State selection soon after. He was spotted by Blackburn while touring England with the Joondalup youth team and in 2004 accepted a spot in the Ewood Park academy. A broken leg sustained while in camp with Australia just days out from the 2005 Under-17 World Championship slowed his progress, but since recovering Griffiths has come on in leaps and bounds. He made a dozen appearances while on loan to then Scottish Premier League side Gretna early last year, and a similar spell with Accrington Stanley saw him played a further 13 senior games.
His journey back to Australia mirrors that of Adelaide left back Scott Jamieson, who joined the club after a handful of seasons at Bolton Wanderers. “I heard Scott had done well and that was a big appeal to me, to come back and do well and see where it takes me from there,” said Griffiths. “The opportunity just presented itself at the right time for me and obviously I had a look at a few other options, and this one just appealed to me. Depending on what the gaffer wants to do with me, if given the opportunity then I think I can make an impact and that’s what I want to do as soon as possible.”
Griffiths arrived in Adelaide on Monday as replacement for Jason Spagnuolo, who has been put on the club’s long term injury list after straining knee ligaments. Despite the contrast in temperatures having arrived from an English winter to a scorching Australian summer, Griffiths says he should not take long to acclimatise. “Hopefully once I get my jetlag out the way, I feel pretty fit in general and have been training so I think it should be an easy transition,” he said. Griffiths starts training with his new team mates immediately as Adelaide prepares to taken on Melbourne Victory in the first leg of the major semi-final at Hindmarsh Stadium on Saturday.
I’M CONFIDENT I’LL REMAIN A GLORY PLAYER : BULLOCH
Versatile midfielder Scott Bulloch feels he’s done enough to warrant a contract extension at Perth Glory. Signed on a one-year deal last July from Premier League club Sorrento, Bulloch has enjoyed his taste of A-League life and would dearly love to savour it a little longer. “I haven't yet spoken to the club about contracts, that will happen in the coming weeks but I am confident I will be extending my stay at Perth Glory,’ said the 24-year old, who is keeping an open mind. “If that wasn’t to eventuate I would certainly look for another club in the A-League or possibly Asia so I could continue my football career.”
Glory’s failure to finish in the top half of the table took some of the gloss off Bulloch’s season, but even so he was pleased with his contribution. “As a team it’s been a little disappointing as we believe we have the right mix to play finals football as we’ve shown in the latter part of the season,” he explained. “On a personal level I’m happy with what I’ve done .. I didn’t expect to feature as much as I have so to play so many games has been great for my development and I look forward to improving next season. There have been a number of highlights but the most memorable would be my first home game at Members Equity against Newcastle Jets - it was a great crowd and I played my best game for the club in front of my family and friends.”
Prior to his joining Glory Bulloch was one of the stand-out performers at Sorrento, who went on to lift the Premier League trophy for a second time in three years. “I loved my time at Sorrento, it’s a very close knit squad and I was happy that I could be a part of it. As soon as I signed I knew we would be a hard team to beat. I played my best football there which was due to the players I had around me,” said Bulloch before tipping the Gulls to go back-to-back in 2009. “I went and watched the boys train the other night and they are looking very strong again this season and it wouldn’t surprise me if they make it two league titles in a row.”
Bulloch had been on Glory’s radar for a while he decided to break from life as a police officer to play football professionally. He encourages players young and old to never give up on their dreams. “There are a number of players in the local league that are of the opinion that you’ll never get a chance with Perth Glory playing in our State League - but that’s not true,” he said. “My advice is to never give up hope as you never know who is watching your games, and if you consistently put in good performances the chance can come around. I’ve been lucky enough to get noticed by Glory playing in the State League and so have Marc Anthony, Mark Lee and Anthony ‘Tonchi’ Skorich.”
The National Youth League has given aspiring youngsters across the nation a career pathway that Bulloch says has been long overdue. “The Youth League has been a great initiative; there is a very high standard of young players playing in the league,” said Bulloch. “Gareth Naven and Scott Miller have done a great job with the boys and have a great squad down there. With all the training they’ve done you can see how quickly some of the players have been developing. Scotty Neville and Andrija Jukic have proven they can cut it at senior level and I’m sure Ludo Boi, Dean Evans and Reece Vittiglia will get their chances soon enough.”
SOCCEROOS TWENTY-TWO FOR JAPAN
Pim Verbeek has selected twenty-two players for Australia’s upcoming World Cup qualifying match against Japan. Midfielder Vince Grella makes his return after a three-game absence and is sure to feature in the starting line-up alongside Mark Bresciano, Tim Cahill and Scott McDonald. Craig Moore is the not surprisingly the only A-League players in the squad which features West Australian trio Michael Petkovic, Chris Coyne and Richard Garcia. Harry Kewell (hernia) and Brett Emerton (knee) were omitted for injury reasons, while a cloud hangs over the fitness of Scott Chipperfield (foot). The Socceroos go into the game sitting on top of Group A, undefeated after four games and on course for a top two finish which comes with an automatic spot at the 2010 World Cup hosted by South Africa.
The Australian squad to play Japan on Wednesday 11th February is Brett Holman (AZ Alkmaar), Scott Chipperfield (FC Basel), Vincenzo Grella (Blackburn Rovers), Scott McDonald (Celtic), Chris Coyne (Colchester United), Mile Sterjovski (Derby County), Luke Wilkshire (Dinamo Moscow), Jason Culina (PSV Eindhoven), Tim Cahill (Everton), Mark Schwarzer (Fulham), Mile Jedinak (Genclerbirligi), Carl Valeri (Grosseto), Richard Garcia (Hull City), Jade North (Incheon United), Josh Kennedy (Karlsruher), Shane Stefanutto (Lyn Oslo), Mark Bresciano (Palermo), Craig Moore (Queensland Roar), Adam Federici (Reading), David Carney (Sheffield United), Michael Petkovic (Sivasspor) and Lucas Neill (West Ham United).
NEW ZEALANDER SMELTZ IS A-LEAGUE’S TOP PLAYER
Wellington Phoenix striker Shane Smeltz scooped the pool at last night's A-League awards. Smeltz won the highest individual honour in Australian football, the Johnny Warren Medal for player of the year, as well as picking up the Golden Boot and Goal of the Year trophies. 27-year old Smeltz beat Scottish import Charlie Miller (Queensland Roar) and Travis Dodd (Adelaide United) for the Johnny Warren Medal, which is voted for by A-League players.
Adelaide boss Aurelio Vidmar was named Coach of the Year after a brilliant season in which he steered the Reds to the Asian Champions League final and a top-two spot in the A-League. 20-year old defender Scott Jamieson, also of Adelaide, was named the A-League’s Rising Star while team mate Eugene Galekovic was presented with the Goalkeeper of the Year. Former Scotland international Miller received the Foreign Player of the Year, and the award for Referee of the Year went home with Matthew Breeze.
GARCIA'S WORRIES ABOUT HIS AUSTRALIA FUTURE
Socceroos midfielder Richard Garcia is concerned his international future could be jeopardised by his failure to nail down a regular starting spot with Premier League newcomers Hull City. An integral part of the Tigers’ historic promotion push, Garcia has gone from automatic starter in the Championship to bit-part player in the top flight. And a flood of new signings, culminating in the recent arrival of midfielder Jimmy Bullard from Fulham, have only pushed the West Australian further down the pecking order.
Just six months after making his Australia debut against South Africa, Garcia is now wondering what the future holds. “When you are doing well for your club you have more chance of playing for your country, and if you’re doing well for the Socceroos then it benefits you at club level and makes your manager sit up and take notice,” he said. “I want to be involved whenever I can but there’s so much competition for places, with the likes of Timmy Cahill now back to his best and players like Mark Bresciano also firing on all cylinders. The boss has plenty to choose from in midfield and that can only be good for Australia because it wasn’t always that way.”
Garcia, 27, admits to being frustrated by his predicament at Hull, where manager Phil Brown now sees him as more an impact player. “I’m just working hard in training and when I do come on it’s up to me make an impression. I’m not playing as much as I’d like, I’m just trying to work my way back in. I think the boss is still not sure of what is best line up is, he’s still tinkering, so that might work in my favour, who knows,” said Garcia, whose been limited to just fifteen appearances for the Tigers this season. “I haven’t got much to complain about - I’m playing in one of the best leagues in the world and that’s a bit of a dream come true in itself.”
PRAISE FOR JONES AFTER RARE START
Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate is singing the praises of Brad Jones following his outstanding display between the sticks in the weekend draw with Blackburn Rovers. Making his first league appearance in over five months, 26-year old Jones proved his value with several crucial saves to earn Boro a much-needed point. “Brad is an excellent goalkeeper and the type of saves he made were what he’s particularly good at, he has excellent reflexes,” commented Southgate. “We know his reflex saves are top drawer because we see it all the time and he produced two or three that were crucial for us.”
Southgate was also delighted with Jones’ distribution as he set up a number of attacks - particularly for the lively Adam Johnson - with his accurate long throws. “There were times people were telling him to throw the ball and he didn’t, he was strong made the right decisions,” said Southgate. “When it was on to throw it he did so and very well and we got on the break and where it wasn’t on he didn’t. That’s the kind of discipline we need.” Blackburn controlled the game but were left frustrated with Jones denying Keith Andrews and Roque Santa Cruz in the first half followed by late second half stops from David Dunn and Jason Roberts.
AUSTRALIA ENTERS WORLD CUP RACE
FIFA have received an application from Football Federation Australia to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cup. Australia is one of five countries from the Asian confederation in the bidding process along with Indonesia, Japan, Qatar and South Korea. Egypt, England, Mexico, Russia and the United States of America have also put their names forward while there are joint bids from Spain/Portugal and the Netherlands/Belgium. The successful host nations for both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups will be announced in December 2010.
KNIGHTS CHARGE TO VICTORY OVER PERTH
Western Knights have made a dream start to the Night Series by dumping trophy holders Perth SC 1-0 this evening at Dorrien Gardens. The game started at a frenetic pace with the Knights on top early and clearly determined to re-launch themselves under new coach Paul Price. Only a few minutes were on the clock when Daniel Micevski cut in from the left to unleash a superb shot which curling into the upright before being hastily cleared by Matt Danskin. They were rewarded on 13 minutes when Luka Jukic lofted a free-kick deep into the 18-yard box where Gareth Deeg uncharacteristically let the ball slip from this grasp and in an instant Mario Marcinko had crashed it into the back of the net. David Price, David Micevski and Jukic sensed there were more goals in the game and through their hard work the Knights continued to dominant with terrific support from Daniel Micevski and Aaron Badahori down the flanks. Jukic went close to adding a second to their tally but after some good build up play the midfielder’s shot was just wide.
Perth commenced the second stanza with renewed purpose, forcing their opponent onto the back foot with a series of penetrating raids orchestrated by Gold Medal winner Antonio Naglieri. And it looked as though things were about to turn in their favour when referee David Currie issued Knights defender Anthony Campbell a red card for his 57th minute challenge from behind on David Onoforo. However, it was soon revealed this was not to be Perth’s night as Naglieri sent the resulting spot kick into the post. Substitute Sebastian Trim was presented with a golden opportunity to seal the game after Deeg failed to sufficiently deal with a Marcinko through ball but placed high of the crossbar. Currie earned the wrath of a parochial home crowd in the 77th minute by dismissing appeals for what would have been a Perth penalty when Jukic appeared to handle the ball. Eleven minutes on and Perth were again questioning the referee after George Tchami unceremoniously halted Phil Arnold’s run which had taken him inside the 18-yard box. It was now backs to the wall stuff for the Knights who held on to register three points.
YOUNG LIONS OUT-CLASS SWAN (by Tom Della Vedova)
A youthful Stirling Lions have cast aside Swan United 4-1 in this evening’s late game at Dorrien Gardens. It was a comfortable victory for the Lions whose line-up included six players under the age of 18. The first opportunity came in the 2nd minute when Aaron Cole headed a corner into the arms of new Stirling recruit Dino Pacella. The Lions soon began to exert control and the game really came to life after 22 minutes when Alan Muir’s excellent long-range drive was pushed away by Chris Ramsay. Fourteen minutes later Stirling had the lead as Matthew Italiano received the ball mid-pitch and dribbled at speed down the left flank before cutting inside and squaring a delicate pass along the 6-yard line to the on-rushing Jordan Rhodes, who banged home past a stranded ‘keeper. The goal was made entirely by Italiano, whose ability to change speed when dribbling was a highlight throughout the match. Swan came close to levelling just before half time when a cross from Ben Lees was not dealt with by the opposing defence, and the subsequent goalmouth scramble culminating in a desperate shot being blocked on the line.
The second half was only minutes old when mix-up in the centre of the Swan defence was pounced on by Keith Clevenger who lobbed a stranded Ramsey from outside the penalty area to double Stirling’s lead. To their credit, Swan continued to battle away and some Tom Shepheard brilliance soon reignited their hopes. Cole’s cross from the left was chested down by Shepheard, who then slid the ball home off the far post from a tight angle. Shepheard was arguably granted too much time and space in the penalty box by the Lions’ defence, but the goal deserves to be remembered more for his fine finish than for a defensive lapse. The match then entered an entertaining period of play, with both teams exchanging a number of punchy attacks and beginning to attack in greater numbers. However, the attacking endeavour shown by Swan was not matched by penetration, and Stirling stretched their lead to on 70 minutes when Rhodes deft body swerve took him inside an opponent and his in-swinging cross from the left was angled into the net via the head of Danny Stoitis.
Stirling’s dominance was capped off in the 88th minute when an attractive passing move was converted by 15-year old Tom Kennedy. The build-up saw a number of short horizontal passes played across the edge of the 18-yard box between Matt Italiano, Rory Feely and Jake Geddes with Kennedy finishing low past Ramsay. It was a terrific reward for Kennedy who had made a deep run from right back to join the attack, and was the last meaningful action of the night. The goal scoring contributions of Kennedy and Stoitis, as well as the efforts of a number of other youngsters in the Lions’ line-up, is testament to the club’s dedication to giving young players an opportunity. Although soundly defeated on the night, Swan coach Paul Lincoln also deserves praise for maintaining an attacking system rather than packing the midfield to reduce the efficacy of Stirling’s classy midfield. His young line-up, the midfield and forwards in particular, will benefit from experiencing the standard required to compete in the State League.
MANDURAH FIGHT BACK EARNS A POINT (by Peter Simcox)
Mandurah City recovered from being two-down to draw 2-2 with Cockburn City in their encounter at Alfred Skeet Oval this evening. It looked like being Cockburn’s night as Johnny Mirco and Adam Surjan put them in a commanding position with 30 minutes gone, however, it was then that Mandurah stepped up their game and Christian Pashkewitz and Rafael Insurralde earned a deserved point. Mirco Jeilcic, coach of Cockburn, was encouraged by his young team’s performance despite throwing away a handy lead. “It was a reasonable performance saying we’re playing a number of our younger players who haven’t the experience,” he said. “We were sloppy in some parts of our play tonight which probably cost us the win, but in the circumstances a good point.” Mandurah assistant coach Ron Harrison said he was please with his the team responded after going down early. “We fought back well after conceding two poor goals. We had the chances to win it tonight, but decision making let us down at crucial moments.”
Cockburn were out of the blocks quick and Aaron Dos Santos’ cross from the left after 7 minutes made Phil Straker the first goalkeeper to be called into action. Mirco was causing all sorts of problems and a through ball by Dos Santos released his captain who outpaced the defence before expertly chipping the advancing ‘keeper to give Cockburn a deserved lead. The goal seemed to wake Mandurah from their slumber and Phil O’Callaghan’s shot was deflected high, Ryan Townsend headed over at a corner and Chris Wylie was denied by ‘keeper Daniel Markovic. A free-flowing game had Mirco fired into the side netting before Ryan McDarby’s angled shot from the left flashed wide. Cockburn doubled their lead on the half hour when Surjan picked up the ball on the half way line and sliced his way through the defence before firing low past Straker. Mandurah replied six minutes later when good work by Wylie saw him tee-up Pashkewitz who converted from 7-metres.
The second half began just as the game had started and Cockburn full of life. Substitute Devon Gibson’s shot from long-range was tipped over by Straker in the opening minutes. Both sides then went close to adding to their respective tallies as the game opened up. O’Callaghan was thwarted by the quick thinking of Markovic, Mirco fired narrowly high and soon after Joshua Findlater did likewise as Cockburn sought to make all three points theirs. But the teams were back on level terms after 67 minutes when Marco Aleksic’s cross wasn’t sufficiently dealt with by Markovic, allowing Insurralde to thread the ball into the net through a sea of legs. Both sides now worked overtimed in search of a winner. Surjan’s long -range shot was straight at Straker, and Insurralde fired wide after good work from O’Callaghan. The Dolphins were finishing the stronger and Wylie could have snatched victory in stoppage time but flashed wide from close-in.
TAYLOR STUNS INGLEWOOD (by Peter Simcox)
Peter Taylor’s superb long-range strike sealed Armadale a memorable 2-0 win over highly fancied Inglewood United in this evening’s Night Series clash at Alfred Skeet Oval. Unfortunately, 21-year old Taylor went from hero to villain when sent off in the 56th minute, forcing Armadale to batten down the hatches and weather a second half storm. “The result tonight was a bonus but the performance was good,” said Armadale coach Brad Hassell, who praised his team defensive efforts. “We were solid at the back tonight Scott Daley and Matt Bennion worked well together in the middle and Shannon Dally and Andy Pomfret were solid down the flanks which was pleasing.” By contrast, Lee Bamber appeared unperturbed by Inglewood’s first up loss. “We controlled the first 25 minutes (but) we were then hit by a sucker punch and then there was a wonder strike which we couldn’t do a lot about.”
The first chance of a tame opening period arrived in the 6th minute when Matt Wardle’s free--kick from distance was misjudged by goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock and struck the crossbar before being hastily cleared. Inglewood had the upper hand throughout the opening half hour but failed to capitalise before Armadale, kicked into life with Taylor’s snap shot hitting the side netting. The hosts hit the front in the 33rd minute when Gary Guyan’s superb through ball caused confusion in the Inglewood defence, allowing Mo Atak to nip in between Wardle and ‘keeper Oliver Taseski to fire into an empty net. Inglewood almost replied three later through James Duncan whose back post header was well saved by Cyril Sharrock. But Armadale had other ideas and just before the break Taylor spotted Taeski off his line and from some 35-metres launched an audacious shot which sailed over the stranded ‘keeper and nestled in the back of the net.
Some of the wind was taken from Armadale’s sails eleven minutes after the break when Taylor was issued a straight red card by referee Michael Tolme for his late tackle on Alex Stamatiadis. So it came as a surprise when Dally charged forward to deliver the cross which Jason Goodwin curled just past the upright. Slowly but surely Inglewood began to make the most of the extra player and on 71 minutes a quick turn on the turn by Mladen Kovacevic fizzled past the post. An alert Sharrock then saved at the feet of Dannie Richman after good approach work from Stamatiadis. Now playing on the counterattack, Armadale threatened through a great run by Atak who’s cross to Marlon Ramirez was slammed into the side netting. Inglewood were unlucky not to salvage something from the game with Michael Baczynski’s deflected shot being tipped wide by Sharrock, who did well to keep out a stopping time grass-cutter from Richman.
GLORY YOUTH BURNED BY THE SUN
Perth Glory Youth remain on track for a top four finish despite slumping to a 3-0 loss to Adelaide United in sweltering conditions at Hindmarsh Stadium. Francesco Monterosso got the ball rolling but putting Adelaide ahead after a minute then added two more in quick succession shortly after the break to end Glory’s slim hopes of a top two placing a shot at the championship. All three goals were attributed to sloppy defending by Glory coach Gareth Naven who questioned his side’s application. “They were not switched on, it was as simple as that and there are no excuses,” Naven said. “Our players have got to mark their opponents and if they don’t, they score goals - it’s as easy as that. I think for our game out of 90 minutes we were probably competitive for 20 to 25.”
Monterosso posted his opener in the 1st minute with a simple tap-in that set the stage for Glory to spend much of the half on the defensive. Osama Malik fired a free-kick over the crossbar on 23 minutes before Alex Pearson kept Glory in the hunt by denying Malik at close-range shot then saving well from Monterosso at the rebound. The hosts doubled their lead on 46 minutes when Monterosso’s shot on the turn from 7-metres gave Pearson little chance. Monterosso completed his hat-trick four minutes later when given time inside the 18-yard box to fired into the net. It was only now that Glory sparked into action with Hayden Doyle showing some promise along with fellow substitute and Cameron Edwards. But the margin could well have been greater as Alex Sunasky and Malik both send the ball high while Joel Allwright hit the post for Adelaide.
WILLIAMS COMMITS TO MIDDLESBROUGH – THEN SPLITS FOR BURNLEY
Former ECU Joondalup junior Rhys Williams has signed a new deal with English Premier League outfit Middlesbrough before joining Burnley on loan for the remainder of the season. Williams, 20, is rated very highly by manager Gareth Southgate and is thrilled to be rewarded with a three-year contract. “I’ve been doing well at Middlesbrough lately and it feels good to be rewarded for my work by signing a new deal and it’s another bonus for me,” said Williams, who has been a star performer for Boro’s second string since recovering from a knee ligament problem.
The ink barely had time to dry on his contract when Williams was heading out to door to take up a three-month loan agreement with promotion chasing Burnley. “I’ve come to try and improve the team and help my game. Burnley is a really good club to be at and I just want to push them up the league,” he told the ‘Lancashire Telegraph’. “It’s a privilege to be here, Burnley have been doing really well in the league and I’ve been watching their results. Hopefully I can get in the team and keep my place to help the club climb back up the league and stop conceding like we have.”
Southgate expects Williams’ spell at Turf Moor to further his development. “I don’t envisage anyone leaving the club permanently, but it’s important that one or two of our young players go out and get experience; that’s the case with Rhys,” said the Middlesbrough manager. “He is going to Burnley for a loan spell, which I’m sure will be good for him and good for us. It’s worked in the past for us, with some of our other younger players, and at a certain stage in their career it does them good to be playing regular football. The Championship is a good standard and I’m sure Rhys will benefit from the experience of playing in it.”
RUSTY FLOREAT HELD BY CANNING
Wasteful finishing proved costly for Floreat Athena who had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Premier League newcomers Canning City in the twilight game at Litis Stadium. Daniel Neiderberger put the hosts ahead midway through the first half but the teams would go into the break on level terms courtesy of Simon Versaico's opportunistic strike late in the period. And while Canning will be happy with the point earned, Floreat coach Michael Roki was far from impressed with his team's performance. "Good sides kill off games when given any opportunity", said Roki. "Tonight, we didn't do that, leaving the door open for our opposition to get back into the match. It was one of those typical games where you're punished for not being completely on your game. We have to be far more clinical if we are serious about reaching finals this year."
The first chance came after a few minutes when Duanne Hepburn nipped in ahead of his marker to meet a low cros from the right which he crashed sprayed across the face of goal. After settling into the game, Floreat grabbed a 21st minute lead through Neiderberger when he was afforded plenty of time to rifle in from 10-metres following good built-up work by Branimir Mikulic which had taken him past two opponents down the right. This swung the momentum well and truly in the hosts' favour but finding the back of the net for a second time would be a major problem. Jason Barrera drove through the middle only to lift his shot high, while Neiderberger glanced over from Dean Apelgren's in-swinging cross. A late lapse in concentration allowed Canning to draw level as Darren Kingston slipped the ball to Hepburn, and while his shot was blocked by Alex Dunn there was no stopping Versaico from ramming in the follow-up.
Buoyed by the goal, Canning emerged for the second half determined to take the lead. However, the introduction of Brad Scott and Miki Vujacic made sure it was Floreat who controlled the game and created by far the better chances. A spectacular half-volley on the turn by Jason Barrera grazed the top of the bar as the home side stepped up the pace. Canning was making good use of counterattack and through such a move Kingston explosively drove past the post. Goalkeeper T.Barrett kept Canning in the game with a terrific double save in which he denied Neiderberger at close-range then smothered at the feet of Mikulic. Scott was presented with a golden opportunity to steal a late win but after receiving a cutback from Barrera the big striker scuffed his shot to Barrett.
GULLS OFF TO A FLYING START
New signing Ciaran Hughes and club captain Todd Harnwell earned Sorrento a 2-0 win against northern suburbs rivals ECU Joondalup in this evenings opening game of the 2009 Night Series at Litis Stadium. Neither Neil Young nor his opposite number, Bobson Koroma, were called into action during the early exchanges which were played for the most part between the boxes. It was a hive of activity in the middle of the park was where Glen Thomas and Steve Porter held a slight upper hand over Anthony Jones and Darren Broxton in a highly entertaining midfield contest. But the better openings came at Joondalup’s end where Ian McMurray neat flick over an advancing ‘keeper was cleared off the line by Danny Cain, while Anthony Jones’ goal bound effort was halted by Steve McDonald’s desperate lunge. Their best chance came via a Scott Blackmore free-kick that deflected off Anthony Jones then McDonald, forcing Young into a terrific reflex save. And just before the break Tommy Amphlett supplied a low cross from the left which Ian McMurray poked into the crossbar and McDonald scrambled away the rebound.
The second half started much like any other pre-season game and a constant turnover of possession which surely had coaches Steve Neville and Syd Amphlett on edge. Thomas burst into the 18-yard box before playing a centring pass for Brodie Martin but he was denied a shot by Darren Quinncroft’s superb tackle. The deadlock was broken in the 61st minute when Blackmore angled a strong pass back to Koroma, his attempt to clear skewed directly to Hughes who promptly lashed it into an unguarded net. The points were made safe six minutes later when Danny Cain’s cross was met solidly by Ciaran Hughes whose header came back off the base of the upright for Harnwell to blast across Koroma and inside the far post. Staring defeat in the face, Joondalup sacrificed the aerial strength of McMurray for the pace of Tommy Jones and Amphlett who worked tirelessly to find a late consolation. Gulls substitute Lewis Flatt went close to rubbing salt into the wound when a partially cleared corner sat nicely for him but the midfielder’s shot from the top of the area drifted just wide.
FOXE AND RIZZO AXED AS TRINIDAD WALKS
Perth Glory have released two players and stand to lose a third as coach David Mitchell embarks on his promised end of season clean-out. Hayden Foxe and Nick Rizzo have been informed their contracts will not be renewed, while Adrian Trinidad amicably parted ways with Glory after expressing his desire to return to South America. The departures come as Mitchell and his coaching team analyse what it will take for Glory to make next seasons top four. “There is a list of players that we’re targeting, while you don’t always get all the players you’re after there is a good list there and we’re going through that process and are confident of bringing some quality players to the club,” he said.
Foxe, a former Socceroos defender, managed just eight appearances during two injury-riddled seasons in Perth. “It really is an unfortunate circumstance and a very tough decision because when Hayden is out there and playing he is outstanding,” said Mitchell. “I felt that part of our problem in the past has been that we have had too many players unavailable throughout the year and that has been costly. Hayden is a terrific player, that’s the really sad bit about it, we’re letting a good player go. But the reality is that he has spent limited time on the pitch and I need to have players that are going to be available week in and week out to build some continuity in the squad.”
Rizzo played 26 games for Glory over two season following his return from over a decade in Europe when he played for Liverpool, Crystal Palace and Milton Keynes Dons amongst others. “Nick came back with a wonderful attitude and desire to make his return to Australia a success but was impacted by injury and always battled against the tide to get to his best,” said Mitchell. “Again, this was a tough decision, Nick is a terrific person and great to have around the change rooms but in the end my decision is based on what we need on the pitch and I felt as though we needed to look in a different direction.”
Although Trinidad plans to weigh up his football future while in Argentina, the attacking midfielder has not yet ruled out a possible return to Australia. “He wanted to go back to the familiar surrounds of Argentina and assess what he wanted to do,” Mitchell explained of Trinidad, who played 15 times for the club. “It was unfortunately a frustrating year for Adrian, it took him a while to settle into a new country and then he copped a few knocks to his body that meant we weren’t able to see the best of what he had to offer. He leaves with fond memories of his time in Perth and with the club.”
LET THE GAMES BEGIN! : THE WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
The 2009 season kicks into life weekend with the opening round of the McInerney Ford sponsored Night Series. The twelve Premier League clubs have been divided into two groups of six for the initial phase of the tournament. The top two-ranked sides from each group progress to the semi-final stage with the trophy decider taking place on Saturday 21st March.
Canning City’s first game as a Premier League club has them up against the might of Floreat Athena (6.30pm) at Litis Stadium this evening. Alan Vest can start his time in charge of ECU Joondalup with a bang by claiming victory over northern neighbour and reigning champion Sorrento (8.30pm). However, the Gulls have added quality in depth during the off-season and are expected to be far too strong for Joondalup on this occasion.
Alfred Skeet Oval is the place to be on Saturday when Mandurah City takes on a youthful Cockburn City (6.30pm). An astute recruitment campaign has significantly strengthened the Dolphins for the coming season and they’ll be too good for a Cockburn side that’s been left depleted by injury and the lure of greener pastures. Lee Bamber has tinkered little with his squad during the summer months and is no doubt confident Inglewood United can finish with maximum points from their meeting with host club Armadale (8.30pm).
Long-time foes Perth SC and Western Knights lock horns in Sunday’s blockbuster at Dorrien Gardens (6.00pm). It’ll be master verses apprentice as Graham Normanton, arguably the most successful coach in State League history, pits his extensive knowledge against new Knights boss Paul Price. The weekend comes to a close with Stirling Lions against Swan United (8.00pm) in what promises to be a very close contest. Both teams are going through something of a rebuilding stage and would love dearly to start their year with a win.
The First Division Night Series opens this evening with a much changed Dianella White Eagles taking on Gosnells City (6.30pm) at Dorrien Gardens before Balcatta commence their trophy defence against Morley Windmills (8.30pm). The same night but at Alfred Skeet Oval, South West Phoenix make skills with Ashfield (6.30pm) followed by Wanneroo City verses Rockingham City (8.30pm). Litis Stadium on Saturday hosts Fremantle Spirit and Queens Park (6.30pm) followed by Bayswater City against Forrestfield United (8.30pm).
STATE COACH PUTS PLAYERS ON ALERT
Robbie Dunn will be taking more than a passing interest when the new season Night Series kicks off this weekend. The State coach has been pondering the make-up up his squad for the Stratco Cup clash with South Australia on Saturday 7th March and will use the annual pre-season competition to assess those on his shortlist. "I have a squad in mind so hopefully all the players will make themselves available," said Dunn, who side went down 3-0 to South Australia in October. "I'll be attending the Night Series and will also contact club coaches to discuss player selection with them based on fitness and injury criteria."
The selection of any representative side is bound to generate a wealth of discussion, and the West Austrailan State team is no exception. "I am happy that State selection evokes discussion and I also believe that everyone is entitled to their opinion," said Dunn. "When and if people say that a certain player should be in the squad my first question to them is always 'Who do I leave out to accommodate that player?' This usually keeps them quiet nine times out of ten or leads them to a re-think."
Both the West Australia and South Australia leagues will be out of season when the two States meet in early March, and although the timing is far from ideal Dunn has no complaints. "It's better than playing at the end of the season as last year I wasn't able to utilise the of the talent in WA due to a few players having booked holidays," said the coach. "The timing will ensure that all of the players are fresh and raring to go, and hopefully this will give the public a great spectacle."
Dunn says last years game was a lot closer than the three-goal margin suggests. "Those who were at the game will tell you the score line flattered South Australia immensely - our boys just couldn't put the ball on target that day never mind score," said Dunn. "South Australia are a talented side and had three lads offered A-League contracts after that game but it was Marc Anthony that was named man of the match, which indicates just how even it was. The lads that go out to play the return leg will want to atone for that loss and hopefully West Australia will come out on top of the home and away series."
CAPTAIN COYNE BACK HIS COACH
Perth Glory are heading in the right direction according to captain Jamie Coyne, who says the coaching re-appointment of David Mitchell provides the club the stability that’s been lacking in recent years. Many openly questioned the wisdom behind Glory’s decision to extend Mitchell’s tenure until the end of the 2010/11 season late last year, especially considering it came hot on the heels of crisis talks stemming from the sides poor on-field performance. But the move appears to have been the right one with Glory making a late, if unsuccessful, play for the A-League finals.
The renewal of Mitchell’s coaching contract received the thumbs up from Coyne. “I think one of the things that we have lacked over the past four years has been stability,” Coyne told Shayne Hope of the ‘West Australian’ online. “Obviously with coaches changing they always come with new ideas or they feel they have to change things. So to have Mitch here for a couple of years now should steady everything and give him the confidence to do what he wants. He’s got an idea of what he wants to achieve and how he wants to go about it and he’s got a couple of years to do that.”
Coyne says the stability offered by Mitchell is the first step in Glory rediscovering the high levels of success they experienced in the National Soccer League. “A lot of players have been turned over here in the last couple of years and I think Mitch might be the fourth coach that we’ve had, so in four seasons that’s a lot,” Coyne said. “He is a very ambitious person … he doesn’t want to be a team just making up the numbers; he wants to be up the top. He’s coached teams that have won things in the old NSL, so it’s definitely somewhere that he wants to go.”
BALCATTA ARE READY ACTION
Salv Todaro expects Balcatta to cast aside the disappointments of last season and mount a serious challenge for the 2009 First Division title. Refreshed by the summer break, Todaro is delighted with his players approach to pre-season training which he feels will pay dividends when the games finally begin. "There's been a very positive feel at training this year and we are looking at improving on last year's results and finishing in the top four," said Todaro on the eve of Balcatta's opening game of the 2009 Night Series.
Todaro recruited wisely during the off-season with his focus being chiefly on the final third of the park. "We've brought in some quality players," said the coach. "Ashley Rosendale is an attacking midfielder, young Alex Cocking gives us goal scoring potential along with Damien Todorovic. In midfield we're added Jimmy Taneski, Steve Coubrough and Theemo Georgiou, while Drazen Saric joins as goalkeeper cover. We also welcome Bobby Taneski as reserve team coach, he brings plenty of positiveness and enthusiasm to the role. We've been delighted with the players' attitude in the pre-season and are hopeful of a successful 2009."
The Night Series provides Todaro the opportunity to see not only his new signings in a competitive setting but also the pick of the club's young talent. "Being the current First Division Night Series champions there will be an expectation on us, however, with a number of new players coming to the club it gives me an opportunity to see how they will fit into our team," said Todaro. "It's good to see how young players like Chris Chiari, Adam Stillitano, Corey Wiltshire and Tony Fazarri have progressed after a season of training with the first team squad."
Unfortunately, it's not all good new for Todaro whose list of outs is topped by influential midfielder Igor Novakovic, the 2007 First Division Player of the Year. "Igor has gone to Serbia to live," explained the coach. "We've lost Adam Purcell to work commitments while Mark Purcell has left for personal reasons. Also leaving the club are Shane Mitchell and Daniel Riccardello for study reasons, David Moschilla and Ogi Radonic have both retired, Daniel Colletta's gone to Perth SC while Daniel Franklin and Alex Bili have moved on."
Todaro admits Balcatta failed to reach their potential last year when their title ambitions were undone by a poor record on home soil. "We definitely have to win our home games, like all clubs in the league," said Todaro, whose team collected just 16 points from a possible 33 from Grindleford Reserve in 2009. "We try to be a ball playing team with passing and movement (but) the state of our pitch in the latter part of the season was not very kind to us and the results varied accordingly." Balcatta's Night Series defence commences tomorrow with an 8.30pm showdown against Morley Windmills at Dorrien Gardens.
WE WANT THE PREMIERSHIP SAYS MANDURAH’S BRIGHT
Mandurah City wants to be lifting the Premier League trophy when October rolls around. State midfielder Jeff Bright says his club are poised to build on the successes of 2008 and give this years title race a red-hot go. "Our aim last year was just to stay in the Premier League," said Bright, who played a starring role when Mandurah claimed fifth from their Premier League debut. "This year we're really going to have a good crack at winning the League, just as every team in the competition should be aiming for."
An aggressive recruitment campaign has landed Mandurah the likes of Phil Straker, Jason Godfrey, Rafael Insaurralde and Craig Young, however, it's the addition of a fitness coach that Bright feels has made the biggest difference. "We've brought in some new faces into our team to go the next step," commented Bright. "But I think bringing in Martin Kelly from Bodypower Fitness Studio has added a new level of professionalism to the club. This guy offered us free use of his gym facilities for the off-season and pre-season and all the players have accepted his challenges ... he's been a real gem pick-up for the club."
The Night Series commences this weekend but as far as Mandurah are concerned the pre-season tournament is only a warm-up for the main event. "We don't care that much about the Night Series. We'll be approaching it just as we did last year - it's a few games to settle the team and get our match fitness up," Bright said. "People were saying last year that we would finish at the bottom of the table, but we knew we were heading in the right direction and ended up giving the Premier League a good shake-up."
Bright says Mandurah drew immense inspiration from a comment from the crowd made during last year's Night Series. "A Cockburn supporter yelled 'Mandurah can't even score a goal or win a game' and that really struck a chord with us. We knew how good we where so when we beat then champions Floreat in front of a massive home crowd it brought not just the team together but everyone who had worked hard to achieve the success the club wants. We thrashed Cockburn 5-0 at their ground later in the season and the same supporter never yelled a single word that day."
2008 was a massive success for Bright on a personal level with the midfield tyro called up for State team duty against South Australia. "I love playing for the State. I've been involved with the men's State team for five years now and there is not better feeling then getting that yellow shirt over your head and playing for it," Bright said. "I played as a central midfielder for most of the year for Mandurah and decided to run myself into the ground every game and make sure whoever was marking me was going to have a hard day."
There were further rewards to comes for Bright in the form of a short-term contract with Perth Glory. "I was shocked when I got the call but I quit a very rewarding job the next day and made a lot of sacrifices for those six weeks they offered me," said Bright, who made his A-League debut against Melbourne Victory. "Those 90 minutes were both the best and worst of my life. The best because I was playing at the highest level in Australia and were being rewarded for playing the sport I'd everything to - the worst because we got beaten 4-0 and I felt we'd let Glory and WA football fans down."
Bright's time at Glory has only intensified his desire to play professionally in the A-League. "I want to take the next step permanently - I want that full-time contract and I've been working so hard since my six weeks with Glory to get another shot," he said. "That experience matured me a lot. To be training and seeing the lifestyle of the players at Glory is something every player in this State should strive for. I've worked on my weaknesses over the off-season to give myself the best chance of getting in the shop window."
SOCCEROOS PINCH A POINT IN INDONESIA
An inexperienced Australian side opened its 2011 Asian Cup qualifying campaign by grinding out a 0-0 draw with Indonesia last night. With seven debutants in the line-up and after just a single training session together, the Socceroos not surprisingly failed to spark at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta. It was hard going in the first half on a soft and bumpy pitch and while Australia had plenty of possession they simply lacked cohesion in the final third. The game opened up in the second half and Budi Sudarsano should have put the hosts one-up after 62 minutes but his close-range header lacked power. Three minutes later Archie Thompson tested goalkeeper Markus Horison with a long-range effort before Paul Reid swung a free-kick past the upright. But with neither side able to break through the points were shared.
CIRCUMSTANCES CONSPIRE AGAINST LEE
A one-year professional contract with Perth Glory should have been one of the highlights of Mark Lee's career. But for Lee, winner of the 2005 Gold Medal, the dream of playing national league football has been slowly eroded by a lack of opportunities. "It has been a very disappointing season as a whole for me," said Lee, who made just two A-League appearances for the club this summer. "I was involved in every game in the pre-season and on the tour to Indonesia, but since playing Newcastle Jets in round two I have been on the bench only once ... and unfortunately I've not been given an opportunity since."
Instead of adding to the eight games he played during previous loan spells with Glory Lee has spent much of the past four months plying his trade for Glory Youth where he's rubbing shoulders with and providing guidance to the next generation of A-League stars. "The Youth team was really enjoyable and it was great to play in such a professional environment," said Lee, who's own career started as a youth player at Scarborough FC before turning professional and then joining Scottish club Hibernian. "I was playing well, training hard and doing everything the coach was asking of me and thought I was playing well enough to get a chance again in the first team but unfortunately that opportunity did not arise."
Nerve damage in his left foot has hampered Lee during the past month but with the A-League season now at an end the midfielder is soon to book a date on the operating table. "I am going to have an operation which has made me unable to train for the last two weeks and following this I will be out of action for a further three to four weeks," said Lee, who is unsure what the next step will be in his playing career. "Once I have been given the all clear though I am looking forward to training again, and we'll see what happens."
When not playing or training with Glory, Lee is busy as a youth development officer at Football West. The 29-year old has been delighted with the progress made by players in the National Training Centre program with Trent Sainsbury, Liam Harvey, Cameron Edwards, Million Butshiire, Eli Babalj and Julius Davies all representing Australia. "The NTC players have done extremely well and it is a testament to everyone who is involved with the programs that we run at Football West to see such players gaining international recognition,"Lee said.
Clearly thrilled with the NTC, Lee says football's future has never been brighter. "Football West now have a set pathway for players from a young age," he said. "We recently had the tough task of selecting an under-13 State squad for the Nationals in April. And based on the standard of players that have not made the squad, it highlights the level of players we are starting to produce and from working with our seven and eight year old players the levels will continue to rise. There are some very talented players out there and that bodes well for the future of the game in this country."
It's a busy time in the Football West office where Lee has been mapping out a variety of programs for the coming year. "We have Harvey Fresh Footworx Clinics in each of the school holidays and last year over 1,500 children participated, along with Street Fourz in the July and October holidays," he explained. "Our weekly Futsal sessions for seven-to-twelve year olds kick off soon as well as our school clinics which are run through Smarter Than Smoking and allow primary schools to receive free coaching sessions from our development coaching staff."
LOWRY SELECTED BY IRELAND
Republic of Ireland manager Don Givens has included Perth-born defender Shane Lowry in his under-21 squad for next month's friendly against Germany. Lowry, who has committed his international future to Ireland, has featured prominently for Aston Villa's reserves this season and has made several appearances on the bench for the first team. The 19-year old left back has already made several under-21 appearances for Ireland, including against Australia at the Intercontinental Cup in Malaysia last year. It was with ECU Joondalup that Lowry played his junior days prior to taking up a scholarship offer at Villa Park in 2005.
RETURNING SOCCEROO IS GLORY’S PREFERRED OPTION
Perth Glory will target a current Socceroos player to fill their marquee slot next season after the loss of star striker Nikita Rukavytsya to Dutch club FC Twente. Scott Gooch, Glory’s chief executive, said the club would put the transfer fee - believed to be around $1.2 million - towards player recruitment with an overseas-based Australian international the priority. “We are already speaking with a number of agents around the world and if we can identify a Socceroo that is willing to come back to Australia or another international we will certainly be pursuing that,” Gooch said. “If we talk about a Socceroo coming back to Australia they are certainly going to be under the nose of the national coach.”
GLORY ACCEPT OFFER FOR RUKAVYTSYA
Nikita Rukavytsya has become latest Australian to head overseas after Perth Glory's acceptance of an offer from Dutch first division side FC Twente for the striker's services. Rukavytsya, who plundered ten goals for Glory this season, left for the Netherlands yesterday to commence a one and a half-year deal. "Nikita is an exceptionally talented young player and expressed a strong desire to play in Holland and we have worked diligently to help facilitate that opportunity for him," said Glory chief executive Scott Gooch. "While we're sorry to see such an outstanding talent leave our club we can be proud of the role Perth Glory has played in his development and wish Nikita all the best as he fulfils his dream of playing in Europe." Rukavytsya, who is understood to have netted Glory $1 million with the possibility of a further $200,000 based on appearances, could make his Dutch league debut as soon as Sunday when Twente host Utrecht
PUCA READIES FOR NEW SEASON
Perth SC captain Robbie Puca is targeting the start of the home and away series to make his long awaited return to football. A knee injury suffered early last year against Fremantle Spirit forced Puca to miss the majority of last season in what was a bitter blow to both player and club. The good news for Blues supporters is Puca is back in full training and slowly nearing peak fitness. "I'm coming on better than expected and I'm probably only two months away from going at 100%," said Puca. "I've done all the pre-season and I'm felling okay ... but I won't rush things as you can't rush back from this sort of injury."
The incident that caused Puca to miss last season is still fresh in his mind and, tongue firmly in check, the 29-year old points the finger of blame of his coach, Graham Normanton. "I've never had any knee injuries in my career - it was just one of those things," he said. "I think it was actually Normo's speech before the game saying we needed to show more passion from the start of the game, and with me as captain I tried to lead by example. I went flat out straight from the kick off, and normally teams pass the ball backwards but Fremantle didn't, I charged the ball down and when the Fremantle player changed direction I tried to and my knee went on me."
Puca, who played three seasons of national league football for Gippsland Falcons, wasn't the only Perth player to suffer at the hands of injury last year with Trent Kay, Gianfranco Circati, Todd Howarth, Peter Lord, Brendan Ross, Matt Danskin and Andreas Oliviera all spending considerable time watching from the sidelines. "It wasn't just frustrating for me - it was also frustrating for the club," he said of last year's injury problems. "We had so many injuries last season we didn't have enough cover and it dampened our season as we thought we could have achieved more. I can't wait to get back on the pitch but I won't until I'm completely ready."
Perth's injury woes will carry over into the new season with Oliveira (knee reconstruction) and Scottish import Stephen Campbell (broken leg) both expected to miss the majority of the coming winter. "The injury to Stevie Campbell was horrific, it was a training incident and you would never wish that on anyone," commented Puca. "With Andreas it's also unfortunate, and how do you replace someone like him? In saying that, Normo has signed players to cover our losses and we have a number of juniors coming through who played last season because of the injuries we had, which bodes well for 2009."
Amongst the new face at Perth's pre-season are defender Craig Simpson, play-making midfielder Dom De Felice and exciting young striker Phil Arnold. "They are all impressing in training ... we seem to have the right blend in the squad at the moment," commented Puca. "Simmo is a typical player Normo needs at the back and he's been very solid. Phil uses his body well up-front and has great speed and two good feet, he's the total package. Then there is Domenic in midfield who works tirelessly all game."
CANNING OUT TO MAKE THEIR MARK
This season is not about survival for Canning City - it is about success. Newly promoted to the Premier League, the Willetton-based club has set the bar high as they embark on their first season in the top flight. “Hopefully we can get in the top five, but it’s hard to say until you get there,” coach Frank Longstaff told Jonathon Cook of the ‘West Australian’. “If we don’t do well in the Night Series it means we have to look at replacing players. I’ve only seen us against First Division players other than in the odd Cup game, but that doesn’t tell you much. I think it’s more about the mentality than the physical or skill side. I think we’ve got the ability, it’s just whether we’re mentally tuned in.”
WARM WELCOME FOR SWANS GUEST
Swan United has added versatile midfielder Stephen Guest to their playing roster for the coming winter. Guest, 22, has settled in well at Francis Street where he's enjoyed the pre-season under coach Paul Lincoln and the camaraderie of the senior playing group. "I have found the players very friendly and they have all made me feel welcome," the 22-year old said. "I'm hoping to stay injury free and hopefully be playing at the top of my game."
It was aft Floreat Athena that Guest learned the finer points of his game as a player on the fringes of first team selection. "I played for Floreat Athena for three seasons but last year I was in the amateur Premier League with Shamrock Rovers as I was in Europe towards the end of the season," he explained. "I had a great time at Athena; they had a great team and were well coached by Michael Roki. The best memory for me was when I came off the bench to score two goals in fifteen minutes against Armadale."
Guest, who is comfortable operating on the left side of defence as he is midfield, is determined to make the most of his opportunities at Swan. "The chance to play in the Premier League again is great and hopefully I will bring a bit of experience and creativeness and help Swan to improve on last years performance," he said. Guest is expected to make his Swan debut in Sunday's Night Series game against Stirling Lions at Dorrien Gardens.
RUKAVYTSYA DESTINED FOR EUROPE
Perth Glory starlet Nikita Rukavytsya is on the verge of breaking into Europe following confirmation of an offer from Dutch club FC Twente. Officials at the club were sufficiently impressed by the exciting young striker during last week's trial that they almost immediately entered transfer talks with Glory. "It's a great club, everything's great, the people are great, a good team so I'll love it there," commented Rukavytsya. "Hopefully I'll be very proud to represent them in the future. They've made an offer so now hopefully the clubs agree the terms and hopefully everything will be okay." Although the two clubs are still negotiating terms, it's understood the deal is worth in excess of $600,000 and would be Glory's biggest transfer since Ivan Ergic joined Italian giants Juventus for $1.6 million in mid-2000.
QUEENSLAND SIMPLY TOO GOOD FOR GLORY
Queensland Roar moved to second spot on the A-League table after coming from behind to defeat Perth Glory 4-2 on a balmy evening at Suncorp Stadium. Nikita Rukavytsya put Glory ahead mid-way through the opening stanza only for Mitch Nichols to level seven minutes later. Danny Tiatto made it advantage-Queensland after the break, and although youngster Anthony Skorich equalised it was the home side had more left in the tank as Sergio Van Dyke and Josh McCloughan made the points safe. “The effort was there tonight, we wanted to make a good game of it and I think we gave them a scare,” said Glory boss David Mitchell, who saw plenty of positives in the performances of teenager duo Skorich and Scott Neville. “While we didn’t take the points tonight we have seen that some of the young players coming through are definitely going to give us great service into the future and that we have the basis of a side that can make an impact in the league.”
The first shot in anger was fired by Van Dyke who hit the side netting following neat movement between Tiatto and Michael Zullo. Rukavytsya then made clear his teams’ intensions soon after by rifling just past the post after being found by Wayne Srhoj. 21 minutes were on the clock when Scott Bulloch provided the ball to Rukavytsya who, surrounded by defenders, intelligently worked himself some space and drilled past goalkeeper Griffin McMaster from 17-metres. The gap was very nearly widened four minutes later when Rukavytsya turned supplier for Skorich whose shot was desperately blocked by Josh McCloughan. Referee Peter O’Leary’s decision to allow play to continue on 28 minutes, despite Glory midfielder Adriano Pellegrino laying injured on the half-way line, benefited the hosts as Nichols tapped in the equaliser after Tando Velaphi had brilliantly tipped Van Dyke’s header onto the post. Both sides went close to adding to their tallies with Skorich heading just wide and Queensland captain Craig Moore onto the top netting.
The introduction of crowd favourite Charlie Miller swung the game in Queensland’s favour after the break. Moore heading high and Massimo Murdocca blasted wide before Velaphi’s cat-like reflexes denied Van Dyke. The endless pressure paid off in the 63rd minute when Matt McKay played a corner short to Tiatto whose 27-metre strike rocketed into the top corner of Velaphi’s net. Glory waited just three minutes before Skorich stroked in from the penalty spot after Victor Sikora had been felled by Tiatto. But the bumper home crowd were soon celebrating again as Miller’s quick free-kick allowed McKay to cross from the right for Van Dyke to put away for the eleventh time this season. The result was put beyond doubt eight minutes from the end when McKay’s pinpoint corner was headed in by McCloughan. Glory were fortunate not to concede more as Velaphi did well to keep out McKay’s low effort, and Murdocco volleyed high close to the final whistle.
GLORY YOUTH BLOW TWO-GOAL LEAD
Perth Glory’s chances of appearing in the inaugural National Youth League Grand Final look to be over after a second half fade-out allowed Queensland Roar to claim a 3-2 win in today’s encounter at Suncorp Stadium. Early finishes by Ryan Pearson and Ludovic Boi had given Glory a dream start and what appeared a commanding two-goal lead by the break. However, the hosts were in no mood to surrender with Chris Grossman netting twice and Luke Brattan once to secure the hosts three crucial points. The win consolidates second on the table for Roar, who’ll be pressured by Adelaide United for a place alongside Sydney FC in the second finale, whereas Glory remain in fourth but a massive nine points outside the play-off spots.
Less than a minute was on the clock when Pearson got his angles right to head powerfully past goalkeeper Liam Reddy from an Andrija Jukic cross. The day only got worse for the hosts as Ludovic Boi played a neat one-two with Reece Vittiglia that opened up the defence and allowed the former Stirling Lions midfielder to unleash a scorching drive that gave Reddy no chance in the 12th minute. Tim Smits has a great chance to reduce the deficit but fired high following some incisive lead-up work by Adam Sarota. Glory custodian Alex Pearson came to their rescue on the half-hour by parrying Smits’ a shot from the top of the 18-yard box before smothering the striker’s follow-up.
It was largely one-way traffic for the second stanza as chances flowed thick and fast for the home team. Their perseverance was rewarded on 56 minutes when Brattan’s 30-metre strike flashed into the net past Pearson. Robbie Kruse came close to levelling with a powerful shot that skimmed the crossbar. The sides were brought level on 77 minutes with Kruse playing onto the path of Grossman to tap in. A minute later Grossman took Michael Ryan’s pass in his stride to smash the ball inside Pearson’s near post and put Queensland in the box seat. Glory’s woes were compounded with nine minutes remaining when Josh Risdon was issued his marching orders for a second yellow. Grossman cold have ended with a couple more but the bar and Pearson prevented the margin from blowing out.
TABAIN WINS GOAL OF THE YEAR AWARD
Perth Glory rising star Marianna Tabain has won the inaugural W-League ‘Goal of the Year’ award for her sensational round nine strike against Adelaide United. Winning the award was the icing on the cake for 16-year old Tabain, who completed the season as Glory’s top goal scorer having found the net on four occasions. “Marianna has showed a lot of promise throughout the season, and this award just highlights her ability,” said coach Nicola Williams. “It truly is something special to watch some of these young women play.” Collette McCallum was also in the running for the goal of the season while Sam Kerr and Lisa De Vanna were short-listed for the player of the season award.
GLORY YOUTH STILL IN THE MIX SAYS JUKIC
Andrija Jukic hasn't given up hope of Perth Glory qualifying for the National Youth League Grand Final. Gareth Naven's young team have given a very good indication of the West Australian talent pool this season and with four games to go are in the mix for the season decider. "The side have performed well in the first season of the competition," said team captain Jukic. "It could have been better but we still sit fourth (and) there's still a chance of a top two finish. The team's really starting to gel, we all have worked really hard this year in training and games and Gareth has got us playing some great football."
Jukic's midfield command with the Youth team was rewarded last month with his call-up to the Glory first team against Sydney FC. "It was great to make my debut, but it was hard to judge the game as we were 4-1 up at the time and the game was pretty much over," said the 22-year old, who made his third A-League appearance at Newcastle Jets on the weekend. "The pace of the game and the physical battles were different (to the Youth league) and you had to keep the ball moving or you'd be caught out. But overall I felt quite comfortable with the step up."
The opportunity to play for Glory came at the end of a superb season on the local front under Perth SC coach Graham Normanton. "I really enjoyed playing at Perth. I had a few different roles at the start of the season but towards the end I was playing as a striker and that gave me a bit more freedom to play how I like - drop off between attack and midfield, pick up the ball then try creating the attack," he said. "Normo is a great coach, he took a lot of time to get me settled into how he wanted his team to play, what my role would be and what I need to do. It was a great experience and I learnt a lot from him."
While the standard of the local game has shown improvement during the past few years Jukic says nothing beats training and playing in a full-time environment. "It's really intense in the National Youth League, fast paced constant attack, and defending, and teams are more structured in the way they play," he said. "At any time you could come up against an A-League senior player and some teams have Australian representatives playing so there's a lot of quality you're playing against and that brings out the best in you."
There are suggestions Jukic will be offered a full-time Glory contract next season as rumours of A-League interest swirl about. "I've heard the same things, but that's all I've heard. Hopefully there is truth in them but who knows, we'll just have to wait and see," said Jukic. And should a deal not eventuate is a State League return a possibility? "To be honest I don't know, I haven't put much thought into it. I'm just concentrating on doing my best with the Glory Youth and first team for the remainder of this season and hopefully my performances can help make my decision easier."
RUKAVYTSYA BACK FOR QUEENSLAND VISIT
Perth Glory has received a massive boost for tomorrow's game against Queensland Roar with confirmation star striker Nikita Rukavytsya will be available for the trip. The 21-year old will return in time to tackle Roar after completing a week-long trial at Dutch club FC Twente. "It's great to have Nikita back for this game, he is a wonderful young footballer and eager to play as many games as he can and his inclusion will definitely give our attack some added potency," said coach David Mitchell.
Four Glory Youth team players - Scott Nevile, Andrija Jukic, Anthony Skorich and Dean Evans - have been included in Mitchell's extended 17-man squad for the game that could take the club to as high as sixth on the final table. "We're looking to give a few of the young boys another opportunity to see what they can do," said Mitchell. "We'll have a good balance between their enthusiasm and the experience of our other lads and be a very competitive squad." Also coming into the squad is Jimmy Downey while David Tarka (hip) and captain Jamie Coyne (glute) have been omitted.
Glory's last visit to Brisbane ended disappointingly with the hosts claiming victory by 4-1 - a result Mitchell and his squad are keen to make amends for. "There is a lot on the line for Queensland this week but we're determined not to let them have it all their own way. It's important for us to also finish our season on the right note," commented Mitchell. "The last time we played at Suncorp the score line didn't reflect the excellent performance that we produced, if we can go there and this time take our chances then we'll be well on the way to taking the three points."
HOT SUMMER NIGHT SERIES ACTION (courtesy Football West)
The 2009 Night Series was officially launched last night with a function hosted by tournament sponsors McInerney Ford. Football West chairman Kevin Campbell welcomed the participating teams ahead of what he expects to be another big year for the world game on the local stage. "The McInerney Ford Night Series is one of the highlights of the football calendar with players and spectators alike enjoying the opportunity to participate in our great game during our hot and spectacular summer," said Campbell. "I look forward to the 2009 season being one of our most exciting seasons yet and I would like to thank Denis McInerney and the entire team from McInerney Ford for their continued support."
Denis McInerney reminisced about his many years involved with the sport and spoke of his dealership’s love of the game, a relationship which goes back over three decades. "Football has been great for McInerney Ford and we have been great for football," said McInerney. "It's a great game and we are delighted to once again support the game here in Western Australia and look forward to a successful McInerney Ford Night Series competition." The 2009 Night Series commences next Friday, 30th January, with games at Dorrien Gardens, Litis Stadium and Alfred Skeet Oval.
SERMANNI CALLS UP MCCALLUM AND DE VANNA FOR ITALIAN SERIES
Perth Glory's Collette McCallum and Lisa De Vanna have been rewarded for a strong W-League campaign with inclusion in the Australia squad to play Italy end of the month. Matildas coach Tom Sermanni today announced a 21-player squad for the two-games friendlies series under a cooperation agreement between the Australian and Italian federations. "The squad has a good balance of experienced, established players together with bright, young talent," said Sermanni. "Several players have stepped up to the mark and displayed good form throughout the W-League season, earning them a well deserved spot in the national team."
The Australian women's squad to play Italy is Ellie Brush, Caitlin Munoz, Lydia Williams (Canberra United), Melissa Barbieri (Melbourne Victory), Katie Gill, Amber Neilson, Jo Peters, Cheryl Salisbury, Emily Van Egmond (Newcastle Jets), Lisa De Vanna, Collette McCallum (Perth Glory), Tameka Butt, Lauren Colthorpe, Lana Harch, Elise Kellond-Knight, Kate McShea, Clare Polkinghorne, Karla Reuter (Queensland Roar), Danielle Brogan, Heather Garriock and Sarah Walsh (Sydney FC). The two games - on Saturdays 31st January and 7th February - will be broadcast on ABC television.
FOOTBALL HAS A BIG FUTURE IN THE SWAN : LINCOLN
Paul Lincoln is excited about his role in writing a new chapter in the history of football in the Swan Valley. Swan United makes their first official appearance at the end of the month following the off-season amalgamation of Swan IC and Swan Districts and Lincoln, for one, is looking forward optimistically to what the future may bring. "The new committee have brought in new ideas and we hope to grow and become one of the leading clubs in WA. I know it will take time but all the signs are good," said Lincoln, Swan's senior coach.
Having guided Swan IC to seventh on the back of a good home record last year, Lincoln has asked his players strive for greater consistency when the new season kicks off. "We were good at home last season with some good performances highlighted by the round three 4-0 win against Perth SC," the coach explained. "Unfortunately, injuries, suspensions and work commitments left us short towards the end of the season, and although that was frustrating it did give me the opportunity to blood some of the younger players at the club."
Opening the door on Swan's youth ranks paid off handsomely for Lincoln. "I'm prepared to do it (blood young players) if I believe they can handle the pressure and they're good enough, and luckily for the club a number came through with flying colours," he said. "I don't like to pick individuals but young Trent Wood showed he can play in the Premier League. Michael Tronchin gave me good minutes while Chris Marshall played the final eight games of the season and worked hard for the team."
Swan have had their fair share of off-season departures with David McNally and Alex Cocking moving to Sorrento and Balcatta, respectively, while Dejan Djukanovic, Robert Monterosso and John Monterosso were released by the club. "I'm surprised with Alex's decision to move to the First Division," Lincoln admitted. "I haven't been officially told by Alex that he is going to Balcatta although I know he is training with them. I'm not one who will stand in the in the way of any player who wants to leave our football club."
Never one to sit idly by, Lincoln scoured the league in search for potential recruits and is close to making a few signing's for the Night Series. "We're looking at a number of players and we've spoken to a few and will hope to announce names soon," said the black and whites coach. "It's a difficult time, but also an exciting time for our football club. We have been honest with the players we've spoken to and we're very hopeful they will sign and give our first team squad more depth which is important."
The pre-season at Swan is in full swing and Lincoln's excited about his teams prospects this year. "We had a meeting before Christmas and we told the boys what we expected and most of them have been true to their words," he said. "We were delighted to hear that David Perich will be return early in the season from the US while John Mansaray has returned from his work commitments to bolster the midfield. We also get Tommy Shepheard and Paul Baczynski back, that's like gaining two new players as neither played a great deal last season."
Lincoln plans to use the Night Series to experiment with line-ups and formations in the hope of getting the best out of his players once the season proper commences. "We're not taking the tournament to serious, we'll use it as practice matches but everyone who knows me knows I want to win every game I play," said Lincoln, whose team are drawn against Sorrento, Perth, Stirling Lions, Western Knights and ECU Joondalup in the up-coming tournament. "I'll be looking for a steady improvement from every game and I'll give the kids a go and hopeful we can unearth a few players."
MRDJA IN THE FIRING LINE
Striker Nik Mrdja has put his injury troubles behind him with plans to figure prominently in Central Coast Mariners' quest for A-League silverware. Long regarded as one of the nations top marksman, Mrdja has battled a rare condition that affected his right knee for the past four seasons which has limited him to just 22 appearances. But a late 2007 operation coupled with a meticulous recovery program appear to have given the 30-year old the edge over injury.
Although now feeling better than ever Mrdja content with the small steps required to make him a regular contributor for the Mariners. "It's been a building thing for me and I'm slowly progressing but as long as I am progressing, that's the main thing," said Mrdja. "I feel as though my fitness is getting better and better and I definitely feel the best that I've felt after the weekend – it would have been nice to pinch a goal there, but I'm happy with where I'm at."
Having rediscovered his goal scoring touch against Queensland Roar a fortnight ago, Mrdja is determined to play his part in the Mariners finals campaign. "My knee is feeling better than it ever has, especially after the games where I feel as though I can back up with training straight away, touch wood it stays like that," he said. "It's good to be getting involved at this stage of the season, it would have been nice to have been involved earlier, but the main thing is that the team gets to the Finals Series and we progress from there."
PERTH IS WHERE SIKORA WANTS TO BE
Former Dutch international Victor Sikora will reject a return to American Major League Soccer club Dallas in preference of staying on at Perth Glory next season. The 30-year old midfielder has enjoyed his brief stay in Perth and says Dallas' hesitency in re-signing him following a knee injury at the end of last season has tipped the scales in favour of remaining a Glory player. "I prefer Perth," was Sikora's direct answer when asked whether the new deal being offered by Dallas would sway him to return to Texas.
Sikora has shown good touch during his quartet of A-League appearances and feels his form has been good enough to figure in Mitchell's plans for next season. "I give everything the last four games and I think I did a good job," Sikora told sportal.com.au. "I think they already know what they want and I think after the last game, they will come back to me and say what they want and then we will figure something out maybe."
DJULBIC SECURES EUROPEAN TRANSFER
Defender Dino Djulbic has parted company with Perth Glory to return to the German club where his career began. Glory have agreed to transfer the big defender to second division outfit Rot Weiss Ahlen, where Djulbic has been on trial for the past week and with whom he played for as a junior before moving to Western Australia with his family. "Dino expressed a strong desire to find a new challenge and we thank him for his contribution to Perth Glory over the past two seasons and wish him well in a new chapter of his football career," Perth Glory chief executive Scott Gooch said. Djulbic made his mark in the State League with Perth SC, for whom he represented the State, before spending 2006 at South Melbourne. It was after helping the Victoria club to the championship that he was recruited by Glory and during his two seasons in the A-League played 26 games, winning the Best Clubman award at the end of the 2007/08 campaign.
WARD THANKFUL TO MELBOURNE COACH MERRICK
There are a few more strings to Nick Ward’s footballing bow these days thanks to Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick. The attacking midfielder, whose professional career began with Perth Glory, says he's grown greatly since his late 2007 move to Melbourne, who take on Adelaide United in Friday's top of the table showdown which is likely to settle the A-League title race. "I think I have matured as a player under him (Merrick)," Ward told au.fourfourtwo.com. "I think I have become a more disciplined player since coming to the club. By that I mean it's knowing when to make those runs forward and when not to. It's working on the defensive side of your game as well as the attacking part. That's where the work with the coach has helped me I think."
BULLOCH HAS NEW A GOAL
Hitting the net back of the net more often is what Scott Bulloch wants after bagging his first national league goal on the weekend. Although disappointed Perth Glory couldn’t take maximum points away from Newcastle Jets, Bulloch said he was happy to finally see his name on the score sheet after going close on several occasions. “I did want to go and celebrate,” Bulloch told perthglory.com.au. “It was a good feeling but obviously we were still losing. I realised I had to get back to the halfway line and hopefully get another one. To be honest, it’s been a long time coming. I’ve had a few chances this year but haven’t been able to put them away, so it’s nice to get that first goal for the club.”
Born in Scotland, Bulloch was turned onto the world game by his father who often took the youngster to watch local Premier League outfit Motherwell. His passion for football continued to grow after the family migrated to Australia and by the age of 16 Bulloch was playing first team with ECU Joondalup. After being named the Premier League Rookie of the Year in 2001, he headed abroad for trials at Charlton Athletic and Motherwell but when they fell through he decided to devote himself to becoming a police officer. A couple of seasons at each Wanneroo City and Perth SC were evidence that the passion for success still burned bright in Bulloch, but even so he knocked back an offer to join Glory two year ago to focus on a career in the police force.
Last year began sensationally for Bulloch, his attacking prowess down the left hand side of the park an important avenue to goal in Sorrento’s charge towards the Premier League title. So, with his police training complete, the 24-year old found is impossible to say ‘no’ when Glory boss David Mitchell came offering a one-year contract. He acknowledges that giving up his police career was one of the ‘toughest of his life’ but it’s a move that’s certainly paid dividends with Bulloch starting twelve of the fifteen games he’s played in his first A-League season.
Bulloch’s versatility has made him a valuable asset to the Glory coaching staff so when Nikita Rukavytsya headed off to trial in the Netherlands it was to the former Sorrento player that they turned. “I wouldn’t say I had exactly the same turn of pace as Nikita,” Bulloch conceded. “But I work hard when I’m up there and I put the pressure on the defence when they’re bringing the ball out, so I think Mitch likes me when I’m out there doing that. I’ve been lucky that I am quite versatile in the positions I can play and Mitch has picked up on that and used me wherever he needs me for whatever game we play.”
RUKAVYTSYA TO MISS OUT ON SOCCEROO DEBUT
Attending trials in the Netherlands has cost Perth Glory striker Nikita Rukavytsya the chance to represent Australia in next week’s Asian Cup qualifier against Indonesia. National coach Pim Verbeek indicated Rukavytsya’s decision to attend trials with FC Twente had played a part in his decision to not include the striker in his squad. “I have him on the so-called stand-by list because I normally should’ve picked him but you never know what’s going to happen in Europe,” Verbeek told Jonathon Cook of the ‘West Australian’. “I am happy with the other four strikers. Nikita is coming back this week, from what I’ve heard. If something happens with a striker he’s an option for me to take him.”
Defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley is the only Glory player in an inexperienced 21-player Australia squad to play Indonesia. As the game is not on a sanctioned FIFA international date, Verbeek has been forced to select an entirely A-League based squad with only Craig Moore, Archie Thompson, Tom Pondeljak, Danny Allsopp, Matt McKay and Topor-Stanley the only players to have previously represented Australia at senior international level. Australia are scheduled to play Indonesia in Jakarta on Wednesday 28 January with the Socceroos flying to Jakarta after this weekend’s final round of regular season A-League fixtures.
The Australian squad for the Asian Cup qualifier against Indonesia is Robert Cornthwaite, Eugene Galekovic, Scott Jamieson, Paul Reid (Adelaide United), Dean Heffernan, Dylan MacAllister, Matt Simon, Danny Vukovic (Central Coast Mariners), Rodrigo Vargas, Danny Allsopp, Billy Celeski, Tom Pondeljak, Michael Theoklitos, Archie Thompson (Melbourne Victory), Tarek Elrich, Matthew Thompson (Newcastle Jets), Nikolai Topor-Stnaley (Perth Glory), Matthew McKay, Craig Moore, Michael Zullo (Queensland Roar) and Shannon Cole (Sydney FC)
NEWCASTLE POWER AWAY FROM SLOW STARTING GLORY
Perth Glory slumped to their tenth loss of the season when out-shot 2-1 by Newcastle Jets in this evening’s battle of the cellar dwellers at EnergyAustralia Stadium. The Jets dominated the meeting with goals defender Antun Kovacic giving them a first half lead and Mark Milligan converting a controversial penalty after the break. Scott Bulloch pulled a goal back as Glory mounted a late rally but in the end it was too little too late. “It is a long trip, the flight right across the country and a two and a half hour bus ride thrown in, but we’ve got to become better away from home,” coach David Mitchell said. “I was happy with the way we came out after the break and we applied plenty of pressure down the stretch and possibly could have got something out the game.”
Both teams went into the game undermanned and with a number of youth players on the park it took a while for either to establish a flow. The first chance of a disjointed period came via Newcastle captain Matt Thompson who forced a good diving save from Tando Velaphi after 4 minutes. Jobe Wheelhouse’s shot from the top of the 18-yard box was captured by Velaphi as the home side began to get into gear. A neat one-two between Wheelhouse and Brodie Mooy presented an opening for the former whose angled strike brought a wonderful reflex save out of Velaphi. Glory’s first chance didn’t arrive until the 36th minute when Jamie Harnwell’s powerful header was deflected wide off Kaz Patafta. Five minutes later Newcastle grabbed a deserved lead through Kovacic when he headed in at close-range from Patafta’s in-swinging corner.
Glory were into stride immediately after the break with Victor Sikora denied by a smart Covic save. However, fate would deal the visitors a cruel hand on 54 minutes when debutant referee Kris Griffiths-Jones awarded a controversial penalty for David Tarka’s tackle on Thompson - contact for which took place outside the area - and from the spot Milligan made no mistake. To their credit, Glory refused to concede and on 65 minutes Sikora linked cleverly with Rizzo down the left before unselfishly slipping the ball across the face of goal where Bulloch was calmly stroked into the net at close-range. This breathed new life into the visitors and Nick Rizzo should have done better than blaze high from 6-metres. A fierce strike by Adriano Pellegrino was blocked by Covic who, with eight minutes left, saved bravely at the feet of Bulloch.
FUTURE SOCCEROOS COLLECT BRONZE
Australia has finished with the bronze medal at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival played at Valentine Sports Park in New South Wales. The national team thrashed China 7-1 on day one and grabbed a dramatic 2-2 draw with Chile only to suffer a 5-0 hammering at the hands of the United States of America, who won the four-nation tournament. Representing West Australia at the tournament were Perth Glory Youth players Dejan Aleksic and Liam Harvey along with the National Training Centre’s Cameron Edwards, who was added to the squad following the late withdrawal of Kofi Danning.
Coach Paul Okon said he was pleased with the overall performance of his squad through the tournament. “To get to the last match with a chance of winning the tournament was great, and a bronze medal is a great achievement,” he said. “The experience for me personally has been exceptional and I believe that a number of these players will figure in future Australian national teams. I will be a very happy coach if I have players with the same attitude as these boys; they have been all fantastic.”
Australia mashed China 7-1 in Thursday’s opening game. James Virgili found the net early with Mitchell Bevan and Steve Lustica adding to the tally just before half-time. The pressure was maintained after the break with Virgili bagging his second followed by goals from Kearyn Baccus and substitute Josh McVey. Captain Daniel Bowles headed in Australia’s final goal six minutes from the end before Shang Yuan grabbed China a late consolation. Aleksic came off the bench after 46 minutes, Edwards after 54 minutes with Harvey an unused substitute.
Baccus scored a last gasp equaliser to snatch Australia a 2-2 draw with Chile two days later. The opener came after 17 minutes when Edwards’ shot from distance was too hot for the goalkeeper to hold. But Chile would have the advantage by half-time with Yashir Pinto scoring twice. The game was deep in stoppage time when Baccus fired a free-kick inside the far post to earn Australia a point. Edwards played a full game, Harvey came on after 81 minutes with Aleksic an unused substitute.
The United States secured top ranking by whipping Australia 5-0 in Sunday’s penultimate match. The host nation spent much of the first half on the defensive as Will Bates’ double plus another from Miles Byass gave the United States a commanding half-time lead. Jose Altamirano’s dipping long-range shot in the 53rd minute took the difference to four goal with Hasani Sinclair converting a penalty with two minutes remaining. Edwards played a full game, Harvey came on in the 87th minute with Aleksic an unused substitute.
QUEENSLAND ROAR IN W-LEAGUE FINALE
The inaugural W-League championship has been lifted by Queensland Roar after defeating Canberra United 2-0 in front of a passionate crowd of 4,554 fans at Ballymore Stadium in Brisbane. The host team took a 7th minute lead when Ellen Beaumont's far post cross from the left found Courtney Beutel who headed against the crossbar and Lana Harch slammed in the rebound. Tameka Butt doubled the margin in the 22nd minute with a fine strike from just outside the 18-yard box which went in via the upright.
There were chances at both ends in an even second period which started with Canberra denied a goal when Ashleigh Sykes' header was ruled out in a narrow offside call. Caitlin Munoz would later hit the side-netting for Canberra, while home captain Kate McShea guided her header into the arms of goalkeeper Lydia Williams. The win maintains Queenland's dominance at national league level, building upon the four championships won the previous Women's National Soccer League.
SKORICH SHOOTS DOWN NEWCASTLE
Teenage sensation Anthony Skorich scored three times to guide Perth Glory Youth to a memorable 5-2 win against Newcastle Jets at Adamstown Oval in Newcastle. The games was over as a contest by the break as Skorich and striker partner Adrian Trinidad ran riot with a brace each to create a four-foal half-time margin. Newcastle regrouped after the break with Ben Martin and Patrick Wheeler netting in quick succession before Skorich completed his haul in the final minute to seal an impressive victory for Gareth Naven’s side. The win consolidates fourth place for Glory and breathes new life into their hopes of qualifying for the Grand Final. With four rounds of fixtures remaining Glory are five points behind second-placed Queensland Roar, who they tackle next weekend in Brisbane.
It didn’t take long for Glory to assert control and begin to find ways past the home defence. Their persistence was rewarded in the 26th minute when Skorich managed to get free of his marker to head in a Howard Fondyke corner from 6-metres. The gap was widened just two minutes later as Trinidad tole possession from Joel Whitherdin and executed an inch-perfect lob from 23-metres that sailed over the head of goalkeeper Justin Pasfield. There was little respite for the visitors who were fortunate not to have Pasfield send off on the half hour after he clumsily felled Skorich when contesting possession outside his 18-yard box. Five minutes later Skorich outpaced Whitherdin before clinically despatching the ball into the bottom corner. Trinidad put away their fourth in the 37th minute by heading in at close-range a dangerous Ludovic Boi cross.
Glory continued their onslaught after the break with Fondyke forcing Pasfield into a good save before Trinidad headed narrowly wide from a corner. Defender Steven Hesketh got forward soon after to unleashed a fine long-range shot that Pasfield did well to keep out. A number of changes by former Glory player and now Newcastle coach Craig Deans had the desired effect as Fabian Iacovelli played a delightful pass through for Ben Martin to slot past custodian Alex Pearson after 72 minutes. The difference was further reduced when Wheeler volleyed into an open goal after Pearson had parried a powerful shot by Iacovelli at the end of a lung-bursting run down the right flank. Stubborn defending prevented Newcastle from getting any closer before Skorich, who worked tirelessly all afternoon, was on hand to turn in Boi’s corner as the home side were caught ball watching.
BUNBURY GRIPPED BY CUP FEVER
Generations of football heritage go head-to-head in the inaugural Cantoni Cup between South West Phoenix this weekend in Bunbury. The is the perfect way for both to warm-up for the Night Series and provides the host club a sample of top flight life. "We are benchmarking ourselves against clubs such as Perth," said Phoenix president John McCleary. "This game should serve notice to our players of the standard that they need to strive for so that our team can compete in the Premier League once we gain promotion. It is hoped that this game will be played each year and will form an important part of promoting our game within the South West."
The pre-season friendly is named in honour of the Cantoni family whose patriarch, Guiliano, played for Perth during the early 1970's before continuing his career in Bunbury where his contributions evolved into coaching, refereeing and club and association administration. Shelley Cantoni, Guiliano's wife, has been involved as a referee and administrator while sons Andrew and David have played in the regional leagues. "We believe that it is only right and fitting that we acknowledge a family that has given so much to the game and has connections with both Perth and the Phoenix," said McCleary. The inaugural Cantoni Cup takes place tomorrow evening, kick-off 6.00pm, at Westrac Stadium in Bunbury with entry $5.00.
WILLIAMS IN THE FIRING LINE
Katanning-born goalkeeper Lydia Williams is set to play a key role as Canberra United attempt to become the first team to lift the W-League trophy. Canberra have been installed as underdogs for tomorrow's W-League Grand Final with Queensland Roar at Ballymore Stadium, Brisbane. However, Canberra have very good reason to be confident of getting their hands on the trophy having already won once in Brisbane this season, with the return leg finishing 1-1.
Williams, capped 14 times by Australia, is sure to feel the heat against a Queensland side that piled on 27 goals in ten games to finish top of the table. National team mates Kate McShea, Karla Reuter, Lauren Colthorpe and Lana Harch head a star-studded Queensland line-up. Canberra's hopes rest chiefly on the shoulders of striker Amy Chapman, Kara Mowbray, Thea Slatyer and captain Ellie Brush. ABC TV's exclusive coverage of tomorrow's W-League Grand Final starts at 3.50pm Perth time.
YOUTH BENEFIT AS MITCHELL LOOK TOWARDS NEXT SEASON
David Mitchell will again look to the strength of the club’s youth as he contemplates his team selection for Sunday’s game at Newcastle Jets. With leading scorers Eugene Dadi and Nikita Rukavytsya both unavailable, the Perth Glory coach is toying with a Jamie Harnwell-Victor Sikora partnership in the final third. Such a ploy would pave the way for David Tarka’s return to the line-up and provide youngsters Andrija Jukic, Scott Neville and Hayden Doyle an oppportuntity to strut their stuff.
Talented defender Tarka has been included in the travelling party and could be given a starting role after overcoming a niggling injury that curtailed his season. “David needs to get some minutes on the pitch and we’ll give him as long as possible out there,” said Mitchell. “It has been frustrating for David again this season with a quad injury keeping him out of action but we know his ability and we’re keen to give him every opportunity.”
Outstanding young defender Neville will retain his role at right back following a stellar performance in his first start last weekend in the club’s 3-2 win against Melbourne Victory. Fellow Glory Youth team mate Jukic is expected to see more match time after several substitute appearances while Hayden Doyle returns after playing his last A-League match against the Jets in round two.
19-year old Doyle has developed his game with the Youth squad and was a standout in their last outing after being pushed into midfield. “Hayden has continued to put in the hard work and has played well with the Youth Team. He hurt his ankle a couple of times which set him back a bit but he is a terrific lad and deserves to get another chance to see what he can do at the top level,” Mitchell said.
After seeing off their season at home with a terrific win last weekend Glory are keen to improve their form on the road and are eyeing the last two matches away from home as the perfect platform from which to build that confidence into next season. “There is no doubt we want to win the last few games of our season and put in a strong performance,” Mitchell said. “While we’ll be looking at things for next season there is still a focus on getting as much out of this season.”
AMERICAN OFFER TOO GOOD TO REFUSE : THORNLEY
Young striker John Thornley has put a year of frustration behind him by joining the rapidly growing number of West Australian’s playing in the United States. The 21-year old recently accepted a scholarship from Dominican College in Orangeburg, New York, which came about through a couple of former team mates. “It’s a great opportunity for me and one I’m really looking forward too,” he said. “Craig Simpson and Chris Wylie recently had a stint at the college, which plays in the NCAA Div II, and they knew I was interested in a position so they put my name forward. I was originally going to go to another college but this offer was a lot better, and one I couldn’t turn down.”
The American college system is viewed as a breeding ground for potential Major League Soccer players and Thornley, who trialed at Birmingham City in 2007, hopes that he can impress sufficiently to get picked up. “If I can get back to playing like I was a few years ago and scoring regular goals, I could have every chance at a club over there,” said the former Western Knights and ECU Joondalup striker. “There is also an option to be picked up by a bigger school or even get selected in the draft, but that’s all down to me and if the body holds up.”
Injury has plagued Thornley during the last few years and at different times has forced him on to the sidelines for lengthy periods. “My groin will probably be sore for the rest of my career, I’ve had osteitis pubis now for nearly four years (but) if I keep on top of my exercises then it’s normally not a problem,” explained Thornley, who also battled suspension and illness while at Joondalup last year. “If being sent off twice and being suspended for six games wasn’t bad enough, I missed games due to injuries and sickness.”
Tired of making a 45-minute trip to and from Joondalup training twice a week, Thornley decided he was going to play his football a little closer to home this year before a stint in America entered the equation. “I knew ECU wanted to keep me but Bill Easton and Brad Hassell were interested and showed a lot of respect towards my playing ability so I didn’t have any concerns signing at Armadale,” commented Thornley, a State youth representative. “But when the offer came in from Dominican College, like I said it, was too good to turn down.”
DJULBIC OFF TO EUROPE AGAIN
Perth Glory defender Dino Djulbic is set for another European adventure after attracting the attention of German side Rot Weiss Ahlen. The big defender flew out of Perth on Tuesday evening to attend a four-day with the second division club with a move before the end of the month his target. It is 25-year old Djulbic's second spell in Germany in as many months following an unsuccessful trial with SpVgg Greuther Furth in early December.
Djulbic's absence for this weekend's game at Newcastle Jets leaves coach David Mitchell will have a paper-thin squad to choose from. Leading scorer Eugene Dadi has been loaned to Swiss Super League club FC Vaduz while strike partner Nikita Rukavytsya is on trial at Dutch first division side Twente. Mitchell has constantly restated the club's support for players wishing to try their hand in Europe, but says there must be a balance of power between club and players.
TOMICH FLIRTS WITH A-LEAGUE COMEBACK
Tommi Tomich found himself in familiar territory when he agreed a short-term loan to Adelaide United last month. Injury to the Reds young goalkeeper Mark Birighitti opened the door for Tomich to join Adelaide for their Boxing Day clash Perth Glory at Members Equity Stadium. “It was a little strange sitting on the opposite side a little bit surreal to be honest,” said the 28-year old, who watched from the bench as Adelaide took the points over his former club. “But it was also a good feeling to be coming back to Perth and to be involved with one of the top teams in Australia.”
Spending time in Perth catching up with family and friends during a Christmas/NewYear period was all Tomich was thinking about when a surprise telephone call came through from Adelaide. “I was just leaving my apartment in Melbourne, heading to the airport for my holiday back to Perth, when I received a phone call from Adelaide,” explained Tomich, goalkeeper of Victorian Premier League club South Melbourne. “They asked me if I was available for a short-term contract and if so they would be in touch in the next few days … I thought I’d better take my gear with me to Perth just in case!”
Adelaide’s timing could not have been worse for Tomich who’d only just begun pre-season with South Melbourne. “I was not match fit, I’d only started pre-season training with South Melbourne two weeks ago and I had been out of the game for three months,” said Tomich, who has subsequently been replaced by Matthew Nash from Wellington Phoenix. “Adelaide signed Nash because they needed a ‘keeper that is match fit and ready to play. They said if they knew (regular ‘keeper Eugene) Galekovic wouldn’t get injured in the next few weeks they would take the time to get me fit but they couldn’t take that chance, which I totally understand.”
While still disappointed at being released by Glory last January, Tomich holds no grudge against the club and would jump at the chance to again call Members Equity Stadium home. “I would always consider a move back to Perth Glory and the chance to play in the A-League,” he said. “The main reason I left to play in the east was there are more opportunities. In the short time I’ve been here I’ve had stints at Melbourne Victory and Adelaide - if I’d stayed in Perth I don’t think that would have happened. At the end of the day I want to be a full-time footballer and if an opportunity to play overseas or in the A-League comes along I’ll jump at it.”
In the meantime Tomich remains committed to South Melbourne where he deposed club legend Dean Anastasiaidis to become their first choice ‘keeper. “My time at South Melbourne last season went well. I consolidated the number one spot straight away and continued my form from Perth,” he said. “After a long season the club was happy with me and I’m now looking forward to the new season and the clubs 50th year celebrations.” South Melbourne’s 2009 VPL campaign commences on Sunday 1st March at home to Dandenong Thunder.
GARCIA LAYS ON TIGERS CUP WINNER
Richard Garcia made the most of a rare start to set up Hull City's winner in last night's FA Cup Third Round replay at Newcastle United. There were just nine minutes left on the clock when Garcia crossed for Daniel Cousin to crash in the only goal of the game from close-range and send the Magpies toppling out of the competition. And the fact that victory was achieved without eight of Phil Brown's first eleven simply rubbed salt into Newcastle's wounds. Hull host third tier Milwall in the next round, which will be played in just over a fortnight.
EUROPE-BOUND DADI AGREES NEW GLORY DEAL
Striker Eugene Dadi has put pen to paper on a new one-year contract with Perth Glory, but will miss the remainder of the season to take up a loan deal in Europe. Dadi, Glory’s leading scorer with ten goals, departs shortly for Switzerland where he’ll play five months on loan to Super League club FC Vaduz before returning for the 2009/10 pre-season. “Perth Glory is a great club and the fans have been amazing and it was an environment that I didn’t want to leave,” Dadi said. “When I first arrived here I felt as though the club has a big potential and I want to be part of this. We have a good foundation for next season and I believe that in the league you can count on us, we’re heading for the top four I’m sure.”
Coach David Mitchell is delighted to retain the services of Dadi, whose ten goals in sixteen appearances brought him to the attention of clubs in Australia and Europe. “Eugene has been an ultimate professional, you can see that he is enjoying his football and enjoying the lifestyle in Western Australia and I think that has translated to his performances on the pitch,” coach David Mitchell said. “I remember saying when Eugene first joined the squad that he would be a fan favourite and he’s more than lived up to the expectations from the club and from our members and supporters. He’s a unique player and character and brings a certain flair to the game.”
As the loan arrangement with FC Vaduz starts immediately, Dadi will not be available for Glory’s final two games of the season. “My preference was to keep playing so I could be ready for next season. I don’t like days off and having four months off wasn’t an ideal situation for me so when this opportunity came I thought it would be the best solution,” Dadi said. “I’m a competitor and there will be much more competition for places next season at the club. There are some great players that the club is looking at bringing here and that will raise the level of our performances. I want to deliver even more than what I did this season, and hopefully playing more games between the seasons will help me do that.”
PETKOVIC CALLS TIME ON ON GLORIOUS CAREER
Goalkeeper Jason Petkovic played his 345th - and final - national league game when Perth Glory defeated Melbourne Victory on Sunday evening. Late last week the three-time Australian Goalkeeper of the Year announced his retirement from professional football, effective at seasons’ end, after close to two decades between the posts. “It’s always a tough decision but I’ve been thinking about it for a while now,” Petkovic said. “I spent some time with the family. That time made me realise I’ve probably got some different priorities now.”
Spearwood-born Petkovic scaled the heights of Australian football during an illustrious career. He initially made his mark with Spearwood Dalmatinac, winning the Pro-League Cup at the age of 19, represented the State the following year and starred in his club’s Night Series win of 1993. A move into national league ranks came with Adelaide City in 1994 where over five seasons Petkovic would play 155 games, make his Socceroos debut and win successive Goalkeeper of the Year awards in 1996/97and 1997/98.
The tall shot-stopper decided to return home to Perth in 1999 and during nine seasons with his hometown club would experience his greatest highs and lowest lows. After helping Glory to the 1999/2000 regular season title, Petkovic suffered the heart-break of a Grand Final loss to Wollongong Wolves on penalties. “That 3-3 game against Wollongong in the 2000 Grand Final didn’t go our way but you would have to be remembered as one of the greatest domestic games this country has ever seen,” reminisced Petkovic. Two year later Glory would again top the table - and again lose the season finale, this time to Sydney Olympic.
Petkovic played every game of the 2002/03 season when Glory timed their run superbly to defeat Olympic 2-0 in a Grand Final witnessed by 38,111 supporters at Subiaco Oval. Twelve months later Glory re-affirmed their status as Australia’s number one club by taking top spot on the table before seeing off Parramatta Power to win their second successive Grand Final. The icing on the cake came for Petkovic a few days before the Grand Final when named the 2003/04 Goalkeeper of the Year.
The absence of an Australian national league in 2004/05 led Petkovic to Turkey where he’d play 13 games for Konysapor. He was part of Glory’s inaugural A-League squad but in 2006 suffered a career-threatening broken leg against Queensland Roar. “It was probably the toughest part of my career,” said Petkovic, who underwent a 14-month rehabilitation before returning to action. “It’s been a long road back but I wouldn’t have changed it because it taught me a lot about myself and I came through it in the end. There was speculation I wouldn’t be able to play again but I proved that wrong and I’m proud of that fact.”
Along the way Petkovic collected 15 caps for Australia, the first of which arrived while an Adelaide played in November 1995. “It was against New Zealand in Newcastle - we won 3-0,” said Petkovic, who would later turn out against Japan, South Korea, United States of America and, in 1999, Manchester United. “I felt very nervous playing for Australia. I was going to the toilet and I was standing at the trough. (Australia coach) Eddie Thomson came in and stood next to me and said just do what you normally do. It was an intimate and funny moment but it settled my nerves.”
Petkovic plans to take a few months off to assess his options but has indicated a desire to remain with involved with Glory in some capacity. “I have enjoyed my time with Perth Glory and I’m looking forward to doing what I can for the team, albeit in a different capacity, into the future,” he said. “Best wishes to Mitch, the club and my team mates for next season, I feel that with the current blend of young talent available this club has a very real chance of restoring itself to its former glory.”
ONWARD AND UPWARD FOR REDS MIDFIELDER MADELEY
Armadale midfielder Kodi Madeley is confident the eastern corridor club is heading in the right direction. Having called Alfred Skeet Oval home for the past four season, 21-year old Madeley points to the achievements of 2008 as evidence as to how the club has matured since gaining promotion to the top flight in 2004. "We had a good season, when we had a full squad," he said. "The team seemed to gel and with Gary Faria, John Lund and James Robinson in the line-up it was the best team we have had at Armadale in the Premier League."
A vital part of the Armadale side which claimed tenth last year was senior coach Brad Hassell, a veteran of nine national league seasons and from whom Madeley has personally benefited. "Brad makes it really relaxed and lets you play your own game, and when we train it's always ball work and short sided games," said Madeley. "On match day he tells you to do a job for the team but still allows you to play your game, which gives you confidence. People say Brad's too quiet but I know he can be loud when he wants to be - especially when you don't follow instructions."
2009 will start late for Madeley who this week travelled to Adelaide ahead of a European holiday. "I'll be heading to Adelaide for four weeks and hope to do some pre-season training at Adelaide City, as I have a relative involved in the South Australian Super League club," said Madeley, who hopes to catch up with former team mates Alex Williams and James Robinson while in the United Kingdom. "It will be good to catch up with the pair who were both great for Armadale when they came over," he added.
Madeley plans to return home from abroad in time for the start of the regular season and is determined to play his part as the Reds attempt to build on last years successes. "If we start with a full squad early, we can be very competitive," he said. "I think Brad has brought a few players into the squad which will be good but I believe a few are still away for the first few games. I hope to get back for the start of the season but I'm not sure … it depends on how much money I have spent!"
CHANGES WILL BE MADE : HARNWELL
Long serving Perth Glory player Jamie Harnwell says the club will make changes to its travel routines next season. Glory's dismal away record in 2008/09 - they've won once in nine games to date - effectively brought their season to a premature end with some players struggling to adapt to a punishing travel schedule. "There's a few players still getting adjusted to the rigours of travel," Harnwell commented. "It is a pretty demanding thing that you do when you first come into the squad, so people have got to learn how to adjust - how the plane's going to go, how the hotels are going to go, and adapt from there. So I think next year we'll obviously put a few different plans in place, but we'll work on it."
Harnwell said the club's improved performances of late have given the playing squad confidence that next time around they will be challenging for a top-four spot. "I think we've got the basis of a pretty good squad there," he said. "Obviously Mitch (coach David Mitchell) is looking for one or two players to add into the mix as you always have to, but I think if you look at the form over the last eight to ten weeks, we're probably one of the form teams of the competition … we've just got to start off the way we've ended."
Scott Neville was outstanding in his first Glory start against Melbourne Victory on the weekend and Harnwell, who also started out at Sorrento, could not help but be impressed by the promising 19-year old. "He's a really nice kid, he wants to succeed, he works hard and the best thing is he listens," Harnwell said. "I could tell him to cover for me on the pitch and he'd get back and do it and then try and get forward again. I think he's got a very bright future ahead of him and just absolutely rapt the way he went about things. Some of the tackles and the headers he was winning were like a seasoned pro.
COACH PONDERS LOST OPPORTUNITY
David Mitchell was left to lament what might have been after Perth Glory came from a goal down to defeat Melbourne Victory 3-2 at Members Equity Stadium last night. A single win from their first seven games set the stage for another season of disappointment for Glory, and although they did manage to turn things around during the second half of the campaign the damage had already been done. "It saddens me a little bit but I don't think we got our act together early enough," Mitchell admitted. "We've played some great games at home, we've been very strong and I think a little bit unfortunate. When we played Adelaide here, if we could have got that win, and I thought we deserved something out of that game and a couple of other ones, we'd be right in there." With two games to play Glory are placed seventh and out of play-off contention for the fourth successive time.
GLORY OUT-SHOOT A-LEAGUE LEADERS
Melbourne Victory’s title hopes were dealt a serious blow when beaten 3-2 by Perth Glory on a warm evening at Members Equity Stadium. Eugene Dadi (2) and Nikita Rukavytsya were the goal scoring heroes for the home side who celebrated long after the final whistle in honour of retiring goalkeeper Jason Petkovic. “It was great to get a win at home and send Jason off in style,” said coach David Mitchell. “We wanted to make sure this is the toughest road trip in the league and we’ve had some great results at home this season. Again we had a fantastic crowd turn out and I think they’ve been treated some excellent football and there is plenty more to look forward to next season.” The result leaves Melbourne one point adrift of leaders Adelaide United, who have a game in hand, while Glory consolidates seventh place on the table.
As the mercury hovered in the low 30s, Melbourne grabbed an early advantage when Allsopp latched onto an Archie Thompson through ball to calmly slot home past Petkovic with only 3 minutes on the clock. Scott Neville put his body on the line to block Nick Ward’s close-range shot as the visitors sought to capitalise, while a swift counterattack had Allsopp hit the upright and Thompson blast the rebound high. Glory wrestled their way back into the game and Adriano Pellegrino drilled into the crossbar before Rukavytsya slipped the ball narrowly wide of the upright. The game changed dramatically in the 32nd minute when Dadi rose highest to powerfully head in a corner from Pellegrino. And three minutes later Glory had the lead following a poor pass which enabled Victor Sikora to rob Rody Vargas before feeding Rukavytsya who applied a classy finish with the outside of his boot.
The second half had barely started when Petkovic uncharacteristically spilled a free-kick to the feet of substitute Fabiano who prodded over the line from close-range. Genuine chances then became a rarity as the warm conditions began to take their toll, and Glory increasingly played on the counterattack. Petkovic made sure the teams remained level in the 71st minute by superbly palming a low shot from Fabiano around the post. The sucker punch was delivered five minutes later when Naum Seukulovski's dipping free-kick evaded the defence and a desperate Dadi thrust out a leg to deflect the ball past Theoklitos and make it three-two. The task got harder for Melbourne with two minutes left on the clock when Matthew Kemp received a second yellow card for a poor challenge on Scott Neville. Dadi could have ended with a hat-trick had the referee not ruled in favour of Kevin Muscat when he pulled back the Glory striker while chasing a Nick Rizzo pass in stoppage time.
ATTACKING ROLE SITS NICELY WITH DOYLE
A switch to midfield has given teenager Hayden Doyle the impetus to take his game to the next level with Perth Glory Youth. The versatile youngster turned in a stylish performance after being moved to the left wing by Gareth Naven for Saturday's home clash with Melbourne Victory. "I enjoyed being in the midfield, I've played mostly at the back this season and Gareth has given me a chance in the midfield the last few weeks which has been fantastic because it is where I feel most comfortable," said Doyle, who knocked back an offer from Blackburn Rovers last year to play for Glory.
Doyle relished playing a more attacking role for the side and was unlucky not to end with a goal after his curling effort from 20-metres grazed the top of the crossbar. "I feel like my strengths are in the attacking areas, it is where I played overseas before coming back to Australia," he said. "I wanted to give it a really good go and press for a first team spot. The shot was looking good but unfortunately it just went the wrong side of the bar, when you're trying to impress is always easier when you're sticking it in the back of the net."
Melbourne gained the upper hand shortly after half-time when Dimitri Hatzimouratis found the top corner from 15-metres. And although Glory upped the intensity as they sought to equalise, the visitors secured the points when Aziz Behich prodded the ball home from close-range. "We have been working on finishing teams off, we create good chances but haven't been able to get the rewards for the effort and I guess we let that happen again," said Doyle. "The heat was pretty intense and when you're trying to chase the game it makes it feel even hotter out there."
NATIONAL LEAGUE FIGURES PROMINENTLY IN NEVILLE'S PLANS
Up-and-coming defender Scott Neville has set his sights on being part of Perth Glory's defence for next season. Capable of playing at right back or in the centre, the 19-year old has been one of the standout players for Glory Youth and recently made his first senior appearance for the club. "There' are a lot of things I've got to work on but being in the Youth team environment has been great and then training with the first team I've been able to pick up a heap of things and that has really helped my game," he said. "I'm confident I can step-up to the level required to be an A-League player and I'm looking forward to taking my opportunities when they come up."
Neville's career has really taken off since helping Sorrento claim the 2008 Premier League championship four months ago. His defensive awareness led David Mitchell to hand the 19-year old his national league debut against Central Coast Mariners on New Years Eve. "It's a bit of a rollercoaster really, when I started off I was just happy, thrilled, to be in the Youth team. I performed well and Mitch saw me and I started training with the first team and it's just gone from there," he explained. "It was great to get a chance to play against the Mariners and hopefully I can continue to get opportunities and work to cement a spot in the team."
MELBOURNE TOO GOOD FOR GLORY YOUTH
Melbourne Victory scored twice in the second half to see of Perth Glory Youth in warm conditions this evening at Dorrien Gardens. Midfield pair Dimitri Hatzimouratis and Aziz Behich found the target to earn the visitors maximum points against a Glory side which was reduced to ten men with the late dismissal of defender Lewis Hall. “The result was disappointing, we would have liked to win, but we did create a lot of chances, and we got behind them a number of times but didn’t score,” said coach Gareth Naven, who made six changes to the side which lost at Central Coast Mariners. “They only had two chances all day and they put them away. That’s where we’ve got to learn we need to make our chances count and today we never.”
Despite the loss, Naven said he was pleased with the efforts of his young team that included 16-year old debutants Cameron Edwards and Josh Risdon. “We did introduce a number of our younger players to the National Youth League today,” said the coach, who had Scott Neville and Andrija Jukic on senior Glory duty. “Cameron Edwards and Joshua Risdon both showed they are capable of holding their own in the competition, which bodes well for next season. Lewis Hall was outstanding today at the back, it was unfortunate he got sent off, but he showed a great deal of composure and worked well alongside Dean Evans. I thought the whole team stood up today.”
Melbourne came out of the blocks flying despite the temperature still nudging around 30 degrees at kick-off. Nathan Elasi forced a superb early save from Alex Pearson while Hatzimouratis was disappointed when he fired straight at the goalkeeper. Glory sparked into life on 17 minutes when Anthony Skorich’s shot from called Mitchell Langerak into action for the first time. Skorich headed wide from Reece Vittiglia’s free-kick soon after while some terrific link-up play between James Sammut and Ryan Pearson lead to the former testing Langerak from 13-metres. Hatzikostas flashed wide from 15-metres as half-time approached. The best opening of the period fell to Howard Fondyke whose shot was pushed onto the post by a full-stretch Langerak after Dean Evans and Steven Hesketh combined down the left.
The second half was nine minutes old when Aziz Behich slotted through to Hatzimouratis whose precision shot was beyond the reach of Pearson to put Melbourne one-nil up. Glory responded on the hour when Evans and Hesketh again linked, the former cutting inside but his low shot was saved by Langerak. With Melbourne now playing on the counterattack, Tedros Yabio’s shot was denied by replacement ‘keeper Devon Spence. Errors increasingly began creeping into the game as the heat and pace began to take its toll on both teams. The result was eventually put beyond doubt when Craig Sweeney charged down the right to deliver the cross which Behich fired low past Spence after 79 minutes. Glory’s woes were compounded by a couple of late bookings that earned Hall an early shower.
RUKAVYTSYA GRANTED DUTCH TRIAL
Perth Glory has given the green light for young striker Nikita Rukavytsya to attend trials with Dutch first division club FC Twente next week. Rukavytsya, 21, will play in tomorrow’s home match against Melbourne Victory before spending a week under the watchful eye of former England manager Steve McLaren, who has lifted FC Twente to third in the Eredivisie. “I’ve dreamt of playing in the big leagues in Europe and this is another great opportunity for me to realise that dream,” said Rukavytsya, whose bagged eight goals in thirteen Glory appearances this season. “I’ll just go over and do my best but my first focus is the game on Sunday and hopefully scoring a few more goals against Melbourne.”
COLLINS MAKES THE MOVE TO WINDY HILL
State attacker Garin Collins is looking forward to playing a key role in Sorrento’s defence of their Premier League title. An offer to join the Gulls came completely out of the blue for Collins, who says it was simply too good an opportunity to turn down. “To play with quality players and help them defend the league title is a great opportunity and challenge,” enthused the 29-year old. “They have quality all over the park and it will be a great team to play in and hopefully it will bring out my best football yet. There’s always pressure to achieve at a big club like Sorrento, but no more than they had at the start of last season due to their poor season the year before that. It will be tough but I’m sure the whole club will handle it and be anything but complacent.”
Gulls boss Steve Neville is delighted to have Collins amongst his options for 2009. “Last season we really only had two experienced strikers in Todd Harnwell and Stuart Montgomery. If one of them got injured we were looking at young lads to fill in or play Steve MacDonald up front, it was fortunate for us neither got serious injuries or lost time through suspensions,” said the coach. “With Garin coming on board it gives us a great forward three and with new other players pushing for a spot it will make competition for places intense. When he’s played against us in the past Garin would always cause problems because he makes good runs between the full back and central defenders, which makes him hard to defend against.”
Collins looks back on last season with mixed feelings. A pre-season move to Floreat Athena resulted in his deserved State team debut against the East Java Under-23 but things at club level were to soon turn sour, leading Collins to walk out on. “In hindsight, yes I think it was,” said Collins when asked if he thought leaving Floreat was a mistake. “There was personality clash with myself and one person at the club and, unfortunately, I acted rashly and walked out instead of taking it on the chin and getting on with football. My time at Floreat was the best of my career and it brought out the best in me, unfortunately, it didn’t work out as planned as I had hoped to finish my career there.”
It was a case of out of the fire and into the frying pan as Collins joined former club ECU Joondalup for their slow slide down the Premier League table. “It was very disappointing for me and the club. We were still scoring goals against good teams but defensively we were poor and got punished on almost every mistake. We scored two at Sorrento, three at Perth and four at Cockburn and for all those goals we got two points,” said Collins, who admitted at being tempted to remain with the club following the coaching appointment of Alan Vest. “Alan sounds like he is exactly what the club needs. There is no doubt that he is an excellent coach but the qualities he has that I think are more important are that he won’t put up with poor attitudes, players not applying themselves and not doing the right thing by the club and team mates. I wish him and the club all the best in 2009.”
Collins is determined to make his mark at Sorrento this season and would love another opportunity to represent that State. “Yes, I would love to play for the State again, it was a great experience but we’ll have to wait and see,” he said. The versatile attacker has enjoyed spending time with his family during a quiet off-season that’s given him time to get over a few niggling injuries. “At the moment I’m enjoying spending time with my family and sorting my injuries out,’ he explained. “Both toes were still very sore towards the end of the season from their dislocation. The rest has done them good and the pain has gone … I can’t wait for the new season to start!”
SKY BLUES THE LIMIT FOR MCCALLUM
Collette McCallum and Matilda's team mate Sarah Walsh have agreed to play for New Jersey/New York Sky Blue in the inaugural season of the new Women's Professional Soccer. The attack-focused pair have been locked in discussions with the club for some time with the value of a McCallum-Walsh partnership not lost on head coach Ian Sawyers. "Having someone of Sarah Walsh's caliber - one of the quickest and most dangerous strikers in the world - is a huge plus and to have the skilled play-making of Collette McCallum behind Sarah is a huge asset," he said. "The fact that Collette has the experience of knowing Sarah's game so well, having played with her on the Australian national team, means we are provided with both talent and stability."
Playing professionally in the United States will be nothing new to 22-year old McCallum, who last year turned out for Pali Blues. "I came to America last year and it was a great experience to see the lifestyle and the standard of football here," said McCallum, fresh a season with Perth Glory. "I'm looking forward to be playing with, and against, the best players in the world. I've heard great things about Sky Blue FC and Ian Sawyers. It's going to be a big change of lifestyle for me and I hope I adapt to it well." The Women's Professional Soccer season opens on 5th April when Sky Blue host Los Angeles Sol at TD Bank Ballpark, New Jersey.
NEW BORO DEAL FOR JONES
Goalkeeper Brad Jones will be a Middlesbrough player until the end of 2012 after inking a new deal with the English club. Securing Jones, who was between the posts for Saturday's FA Cup defeat of Barrow, is viewed as an important step towards the future by manager Gareth Southgate. "Brad has signed a new three-and-a-half-year deal, that's done and I'm delighted with that," said Southgate. "Brad feels the challenge here is one he's prepared to take on ... I'm pleased to get Brad signed up because I know he's going to be a very good goalkeeper." Jones, 25, originally joined Middlesbrough in 2000 and has made 33 senior appearance for the club plus a further 35 through loan spells at Stockport County, Blackpool and Sheffield Wednesday.
SRHOJ EXTENDS STAY IN PERTH
Tireless midfielder Wayne Srhoj has committed his future to Perth Glory after signing a new deal that keeps him in the west until the end of 2009/10 campaign. Srhoj joined Glory for a second time in September and has been the ace in the club's pack during a much improved second half of the season. An Australian youth international, Shroj won National Soccer League championships with Sydney Olympic as well as Glory before playing four seasons in Romania's top flight.
Srhoj is confident Glory can again experience the level of success that returned championships in 2002/03 and 2003/04. "You can see from our performances recently that we have the ability to be a strong performer in the competition and I have faith in Dave (Mitchell) and the team he is assembling to achieve success in Perth," said Srhoj. "I enjoy the West Australian lifestyle, the club is well set-up and I'm really happy to be here for another season."
The midfielder is in contention to return to Glory's starting line-up for Sunday's home clash with Melbourne Victory following time out with a corked thigh. "It's a great feeling to play in front of the Glory supporters and with this match being our final home game of the season we definitely want to give the fans something to smile about," he said. "We had a great win over Melbourne last time we played them here and we'll be looking to repeat that result on Sunday."
PRICE LEADS THE KNIGHTS CRUSADE
New Western Knights coach Paul Price is happy to let his record do the taking as the club embarks on a new era under the Welsh international. The former Tottenham Hotspur and Luton Town player, is looking forward to what the new season will bring and says he feels no pressure in taking over from Ronnie Campbell and Willie Kelly, who captured seven trophies during a decade in charge. "People say I've got big shoes to fill but I don't believe that," commented Price, who guided the Knights youth team to the League and Cup double in 2007. "My time here will be judged on the way we play and how I coach, I'm really looking forward to the challenge and I hope we can get it right."
The Knights salvaged a disappointing 2008 by defeating Premier League champions Sorrento in the Cup Final on the final day of the season. The summer months have not been kind to Price who will be without at least half a dozen of last year's squad when the 2009 campaign kicks off. "We've lost a few from last season and we've a few with injuries," explained Price. "Paul Cooke has retired, Matt Allen injured the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee so will be sidelined for the whole season as is goalkeeper Kevin Miller, who has a hernia problem. And with Rory Grant, Barry Devlin and Jonathon Mathers all moving on we've lost six players in total."
Commanding young midfielder David Price is the Knights only confirmed off-season signing to date, leaving the coach a little short of numbers with the Night Series on the horizon. "The Night Series looks like it's starting early - if the State game against South Australia goes ahead - which will leave me five players short. We are still looking at bringing in a number of players before the season. It would have been nice to have them in place for the Night Series but with me only being appointed five weeks ago it doesn't leave much time ... but they're the cards we've been dealt so we've got to get on with it."
Price made his initial mark at Luton where he played over 200 senior games and was loaned out to American club Minnesota Kicks in 1978. "It was a great time for football in the States, with Pele having played his last game the year before for New York Cosmos," he said. "We played the Cosmos in my first year, in the quarter finals of the North American Soccer League play-off's. They didn't have aggregate scores in the US at the time, which was unfortunate for us as we beat them 9-2 in front off 45,000 at Minnesota but we lost in New York 4-0 in front of 80,000, which made it 1-1. We lost the shoot-out 1-0 to go out but it was a great experience."
The pinnacle of Price's playing days came in 1982/83 when Tottenham finished fourth in England's top flight before beating Queens Park Rangers in the FA Cup Final. "It was a great season at Spurs - I played in three Cup finals that year," he said. "We drew against QPR 1-1 in the first game and won the replay. We lost 3-1 against Liverpool in the League Cup final the same season, so they were great occasions for me. Another game that stands out was against Barcelona in the European Cup Winners Cup semi-final, we had drawn 1-1 at the Lane but lost 1-0 away and went out."
After a total of 66 appearances for Tottenham, Price enjoyed a brief return to Minnesota before joining second tier English League side Swansea City. By mid-1986 he was on the move again, this time to Peterborough United where he capped a memorable debut season by winning the Player of the Year trophy. Price retired from professional football in 1988 with 420 senior club games to his credit, plus a further 25 for the Welsh national team which he captained on a handful of occasions. Time in the non-League with Wivenhoe and St Albans preceded his move into coaching at Hitchin Town.
PELLIGRINO PROVIDES RALLYING CALL
Adriano Pellegrino has called on his Perth Glory teammates to stick by the club as it looks towards next season. With a place in the 2008/09 finals beyond the club, coach David Mitchell is increasingly turning his attention to building a squad capable of challenging the big guns next year. "You build a relationship with players and that happens everywhere," he said. "Hopefully, as many boys can stay on as they can. It's not up to myself to make that decision, but you do become close with a lot of the boys and it is disappointing when some boys have to leave."
Around half a dozen players are expected to part company with Glory at the end of the season. Star striker Nikita Rukavytsya and defender Dino Djulbic are chasing contracts in Europe, while Australian youth international Nikolai Topor-Stanley is expected to join one of the two new Queensland clubs. "They're going to go in and try and poach as many players as they can and try and grab as many players as they can out of contract," Pellegrino said of North Queensland Fury and Gold Coast United. "But at the same time players have got to show loyalty as well and stick around."
Despite the rumblings, Pellegrino is happy to report that spirits are high at the club. "We've had a better run to the second half of the season and I guess all the boys just want to finish it off on a good note," he said. "Some boys are looking for contracts as well so everyone, I guess, is fighting for positions and training has been very intense. At this point in time, you just get on to the park and everyone that is here at the Glory is putting on that shirt and representing it with passion."
Glory face a mammoth challenge on Sunday when A-League leaders Melbourne Victory visit Member's Equity Stadium. "A lot of people say you've got nothing to play for and you go in not caring, but I don't think that's the case," Pellegrino said. "It's been indicated here at training where everyone's showing a high intensity, wants to play and wants to win. You want to go out and win every game, especially at home. We've had a good record at home, you don't want to throw it out the window now in the last game of the season. We're definitely going out to look for the three points."
WARD EARNS MELBOURNE TOP SPOT
A sparkling performance by Nick Ward has propelled Melbourne Victory back to the top of the A-League table. Just when Adelaide United custodian Eugene Galekovic looked like going unbeaten, Ward rose on the edge of the 6-yard box to brilliantly head home Billy Celeski's 58th minute corner at grab a deserved win last night at the Telstra Dome. The goal, Ward's second in three games, condemned Adelaide to a 1-0 loss in front of a bumper crowd of 27,196 - Victory's second largest at home for the season.
Ward is grateful of the opportunity provided by coach Ernie Merrick in the past month. "I have been working hard and just focusing on playing football," said Ward after only his second start of the season. "Ernie has given me the opportunity to play and I relish it. One of my goals this season was to establish myself (in the starting eleven) after the injury and I think I have done that."
After an injury-interrupted start to the campaign, Ward is now making his mark and Merrick could not be happier for his 23-year old midfielder. "There is no one that has worked harder in the gym," Merrick revealed. "He has just turned around his game to a reliable attacking one and he also defends so well ... he is becoming a very good all-round player." Ward is sure to be part of the coach's plans when Victory takes on Perth Glory at Members Equity Stadium on Sunday.
RUKAVYTSYA TURNS HIS ATTENTION TO EUROPE
Nikita Rukavytsya could be on his way to Europe next week as Perth Glory considers allowing the striker to trial in the Netherlands during this month's transfer window. 21-year old Rukavytsya, scorer of eight goals in 13 appearances this season, has attracted significant interest from overseas and is eager to pursue his dream of playing professionally in Europe. Chief executive Scott Gooch said requests from players to trial overseas were dealt with on a case-by-case basis, but with Glory's season effectively over — they are out of finals contention — the club are unlikely to stand in Rukavytsya's way.
MITCHELL DREAMS OF BIG HOME FINALE
David Mitchell hopes Sunday's home clash with title-chasing Melbourne Victory can attract a crowd to rival the 12,000-plus who watched Perth Glory go down 1-0 to Adelaide United a fortnight ago. "It was fantastic to have such a big crowd at our last home game on Boxing Day and we'd love to see everyone here again for this game and back the boys for a win," he said. "Melbourne is one of the competition's top teams and it's our last home game so there is plenty of motivation for this game."
The Glory players were given a deserved break following their New Year's Eve loss to Central Coast Mariners in Gosford, but this week returned to the training track with Victory in their sights. "We've trained a bit earlier in the day to avoid the real intense heat and that has helped with the recovery," said Mitchell. "The sessions have been a bit shorter than normal but still very sprightly and everyone is putting the work in to prepare to our best for this game." Glory have good reason to be confident of ending their home season on a high having defeated Victory three times in their five meetings at Members Equity Stadium.
LOCAL REFEREE'S CHOSEN FOR MAJOR TOURNAMENTS
Up and coming referee's Leon Markich and David Costello venture east this month to officiate at national tournaments. Markich, 31, will take the whistle at this weeks National Futsal Championships in Canberra with Costello, 27, selected for duty at the up-coming Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney. Former World Cup referee Eddie Lennie says the selection of Markich and Costello as indication of how highly regarded West Australian referees are on the eastern seaboard. "As you can see by these appointments, Football West referees continue to feature prominently in the national arena," said referees development manager Lennie. "This will continue in 2009 with more opportunities for our up and coming match officials."
AXE HANGS HEAVY OVER PETKOVIC
Perth Glory are poised to dump long-serving goalkeeper Jason Petkovic as coach David Mitchell begins planning for the summer 2009/10. Petkovic, a veteran of over 300 national league games, is likely to be shown the door along with injury prone defender Hayden Foxe in an end of season cleanout as Glory contemplate a fourth-straight failed A-League campaign. "Some of the decisions are going to be tough, but I've got to make them for the benefit of the club and the team," Mitchell said.
While a final decision is yet to be made, the writing appears to be on the wall for Petkovic. The 36-year old has managed just three appearances this season with Olyroo custodian Tando Velaphi the preferred choice and Frank Juric under contract for another season. "By the way it looks, Frank will be there backing up Tando," Mitchell said. A two-time Goalkeeper of the Year, Petkovic was integral to Glory's back-to-back championships of 2002/03 and 2003/04 but has struggled to produce that form since recovering from a broken leg in late 2006.
GULLS TEMPT MURPHY BACK TO THE NEST
Premier League champions Sorrento have pulled off something of a coup by adding one-time Socceroo Shaun Murphy to their coaching team. But Murphy, who played juniors at Sorrento, has no intention of pulling on the boots after agreeing to assist first team boss Steve Neville in the Gulls attempt to win back-to-back league titles. “We’ve got seven or eight good defenders so there’s no reason for me to play,” said the 38-year old, who played professionally for Notts County and Sheffield United amongst others during a decade plus career in England.
Murphy captained Perth Glory to victory in the 2003/04 Grand Final but the demise of the National Soccer League and a contract dispute with the club effectively brought to an end his professional career. “I’ve had quite a few years off and thought it was about time I started doing something again,” said Murphy, who has recently been involved with Trinity College and Safety bay High School. “I was enjoying doing stuff at Trinity and Safety bay and wanted to take the next step. I have a bit of an association with Sorrento from the past and I thought it might be nice to give something back.”
In a professional playing career that spanned twelve seasons, Murphy made in excess of 400 appearances for English clubs Notts County, West Bromwich Albion, Sheffield United and Crystal Palace before returning to Australia to captain Perth Glory to National Soccer League Grand Final success in 2003/04. Along the way he represented Australia at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games and was capped 18 times by Australia, famously scoring the winner against Brazil at the 2001 Confederations Cup.
JOONDALUP GO WITH JENNINGS
Nick Jennings says he’s ready for the challenge of leading amateur club Joondalup United into the new season. For Jennings, moving into the senior coaching position is a natural progression following several years as a player with the Premier League club. “I captained the club for last few years and also been heavily involved in the coaching and training of the team since my arrival at the club from UK five years ago,” Jennings told Peter Simcox. “A broken leg last year brought a premature end to my lengthy playing career at 39 years young so a natural progression into the vacant coaching position seemed right. And fortunately I was successful with my application as a number of more experienced coaches applied for the job.”
The coach freely admits he contemplated offers from a number of other clubs before the scales were tipped in favour of him remaining on at the northern suburbs club. “In truth, I looked at other jobs but the forthcoming move to Arena Joondalup’s main oval, an ambitious young committee combined with a great bunch of players meant there was only one job I wanted,” Jennings outlined. “I will be looking to add strength in depth to the squad which was wafer thin last year and have competition for all places in the starting eleven.”
Although Joondalup could boast the third best home record in the twelve-team league last year, an inability to score goals on away soil resulted in them taking seventh on the final standings. “We didn’t score enough goals home or away last year, and this puts a lot of pressure on the defence and naturally you are under more pressure away from home,” he explained. “Next year we will be a more potent attacking force both home and away with more pace in the team. We’ve a number of players who have indicated their intention to move to JUFC for next season which is excellent and it will add strength and depth to an already talented squad.”
Jennings is tipping a very even Premier League this year, a far cry from 2008 when Fremantle United had the title wrapped up weeks before the season came to a close. “There are no bad teams in the Premier next season, it’s going to be very competitive and will be closer than ever,’ he commented. “However, Fremantle are the bench mark team for all in amateur football, they have a fantastic set-up and are in my view the team to beat. Olympic Kingsway, fresh from their Cup win, and are on an active recruitment drive in an attempt to return to former glories will go close. And I also believe last years Division One champions Subiaco United will, like ourselves, hit the ground running and be there or thereabouts.”
NEW BLACKBURN MANAGER WANTS A GOOD LOOK AT GRIFFITHS
Young starlet Rostyn Griffiths will stay with Premier League club Blackburn for the time being with new manager Sam Allardyce keen to have a good look at the 20-year old midfielder. Griffiths impressed during a three-month loan spell at Accrington Stanley earlier this season, with manager John Coleman hoping to extend the youngster’s stay until the end of the season. But Allardyce wants to assess the West Australian’s ability before deciding whether he’ll be loaned out or play the remainder of the season at Blackburn.
TEN MAN GLORY YOUTH DRAW WITH MARINERS
Perth Glory Youth have defied the odds to earn a 2-2 draw with Central Coast Mariners, despite playing with ten men for almost 70 minutes. It appeared the Mariners would be in for a comfortable match when experienced defender David Tarka was red carded for abusive language in only the 18th minute. Glory rallied and eight minutes later Anthony Skorich provided a timely boost by heading powerfully past goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne to put the visitors in front. An upset appeared on the cards when Mariners veteran Andrew Clark skewed a header into his own net following a corner just before the half hour. The second half began positively for Glory before the hosts assert control as Matthew Lewis and Nigel Boogaard pulled the strings in midfield. With 62 minutes gone Nigel Boogaard reduced the deficit before substitute Ty Owens brought the teams level with nineteen minutes to play. Custodian Alex Pearson ensured Glory took home a point by spectacularly keeping out a powerful Sean Mitchell volley in stoppage time. The result leaves Glory in fourth spot, fourth points adrift of second placed Queensland Roar with six rounds to play.
SOCCEROOS CALL-UP CONVINCES COYNE TO PLAY ON
Playing for Australia has given Colchester United defender Chris Coyne the incentive to prolong a career that was drifting towards its conclusion. After thirteen years in Britain, where he’s made over 300 appearances for the likes of Dundee, Luton Town and Colchester, 30-year old Coyne was contemplating a return home to Perth. But those plans were abruptly shelved by the intervention of Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek who handed the no-nonsense defender a surprise call-up for June’s international fixture against Iraq.
Coyne, who admits his passion for football had begun to wain, is now in the grip of World Cup fever as South Africa 2010 looms ahead. “I was planning to maybe come home at 30 or 31 but that’s all changed now and suddenly it’s more a case of I can play for another four or five years now,” explained Coyne, whose contract with second tier Colchester United expires in mid-2010. “I’m getting out of bed with a smile on my face again now and enjoying my football like I did five or six years ago. Playing for Australia has given me an extra impetus to push on … I’ve had a taste of it now and it’s made me hungry for more.”
An impressive debut against Iraq lead Verbeek to select Coyne for friendlies against South Africa and the Netherlands as well as World Cup qualifying victories over Uzbekistan and Bahrain. It was a post-game discussion with captain Lucas Neill following the win in Uzbekistan that Coyne realised his passion had been rejuvenated. “I was sitting next to Lucas Neill on the plane back from Uzbekistan and he told me all about what it was like to play at a World Cup and all it did was whet the appetite more,” he explained. “It would be the pinnacle for me, especially having not figured for the national team until now.”
Coyne was one of many players who’d much rather forget Australia’s lucky 1-0 win against Bahrain in November but is confident the Socceroos will put on a far more accomplished performance when they play Japan in February. “It’s a game I’m that I’m sure will bring out the best in us. We’re a good side, we’re tough, strong and tall and we also have individuals who are as good as anything around the world. A lot of teams would pay to take those skills on board,” he said. “If we get a result there, then it’s going to be one step on the plane to South Africa - but we have it all to do and we know what the game will mean to the Japanese.”
STATE TEAMS READY FOR FUTSAL NATIONALS
Canberra is preparing to host the 2009 National Futsal Championships where four West Australian squads will be amongst the 120 in competition at the week-long event. The State Women's squad will line-up at the tournament, which kicks-off on 6 January, along with State Under-13, 15 and 16 boys teams. The 2008 National's celebrate the 30th anniversary since the inception of the championships, and also mark the 21st time that Canberra held the most important week in the national Futsal calendar.
The State Women's Futsal squad features Kristina Antonic, Nikki Campbell, Bianca Lavorgna, Jessica Lindquist, Elise O'Sullivan, Penny Rinaldi, Jessica Sardi, Beth Williams and Emma Smith with Salv Todaro the coach. Australia Capital Territory Cobras, New South Wales Thunder, Victoria, New South Wales Lightning, Southern New South Wales Flame, Northern New South Wales Hawks and Southern New South Wales provide their group stage opposition.
The State Under-13 Futsal squad consists of Mathew Bonasera, Daniel Buhagiar, Nathan Grostate, Michale De Lima, Joshua Do, Sam Stone, Georgios Athanasion and Ben Hombert. Sean Darby is coach of the side with Mel Bonasera the team manager. They are scheduled to play New South Wales Thunder, Australian Capital Territory Cobras, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Australia Capital Territory Colts in the qualifying round.
The State Under-15 Futsal squad is James Lima, Gareth Hamilton, Ifran Shafii, Mason Vojdani, Adam Lagana, Harry Clisby and Nicholas Del-Borrello with team officials Darren Young (coach) and James Graham (manager). In the space of four days they play Northern New South Wales Hornets, Australia Capital Territory Cobras, Victoria, Southern New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales Thunder and New South Wales Lightning.
The State Under-16 Futsal squad consists of Liam Bolland, Keegan Lorraine, Roshannn Frederic,Bernard Marcelo, Luke Sheppard, Adam Wood, Joseph Pullella and Patrick Sutherland. Teams officials are Chris Ola (coach) and Phil Butler (manager). A hectic schedule pits them against Australia Capital Territory Colts, Northern New South Wales Hawks, Northern New South Wales Hornets, New South Wales Lightning, New South Wales Thunder, South Australia, Southern New South Wales and Australia Capital Territory Cobras in the qualifiers.
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This page was last updated on the 5th March, 2009