SIEGE MENTALITY AS GLORY HIT THE ROAD (courtesy the 'West Australian')
Chris Coyne has called on Perth Glory to adopt a siege mentality as the club enters a four-match period that could be crucial to its chances of A-League success this season. After four rounds, Glory have climbed to fourth but a horror record on the road threatens to unhinge their bid to crash into the finals for the first time. Glory have won just three and drawn two of 18 away games since David Mitchell took over the reins in November 2007, compared with nine victories and four draws in 17 games on home soil.
Glory have lost both of their away games this season and face a daunting task with three of their next four matches on the road. "You can't be seen as a soft touch," Coyne told Jonathon Cook of the 'West Australian' newspaper. "We've got to build a siege mentality where it's us against them. You've got to be resolute and you've got to be tough and make sure you're horrible to play against and you're hard to beat wherever you are. Any successful side has got that hard edge to them and no one is going to knock them over easily."
Mitchell believes the recruitment of experienced players such as Coyne, captain Jacob Burns, former Blackburn defender Andy Todd and marquee Mile Sterjovski, will make a difference to the team's away form. "It's when things aren't going well that we have to be strong," he said. "We've got leaders on the park who have to solve problems out there when we can't get the message across. I think with the players we've got, we can do that."
Former Luton Town and Colchester United captain Coyne said Glory's poor away form was difficult to fathom, although the travel factor should not be used as an excuse. He attributed losses at Adelaide United and Wellington Phoenix at the start of this season to the lack of game time and the disruptions caused by early injuries. "It's a massive period coming up because if you don't do well early on, teams get away from you and it's a third of the season gone," Coyne said.
TODD FINDS THE "SOMETHING DIFFERENT" HE WAS AFTER
It's not easy being the son of a famous footballer, especially when your dad was sold for what was then a record English transfer fee, played a key role in taking a team to two English League titles and appeared 27 times for his country. But new Perth Glory defender Andy Todd is not in the least perturbed at having to follow in his father Colin's footsteps. When Todd snr was sold by Sunderland to Derby in 1971 for £175,000, Glory's tough tackling centre-back had yet to be born. He did not arrive until 1974, the year before his father collected a second English championship with Derby County under the tutelage of legendary manager Brian Clough.
Todd jnr did not enjoy the success his father did, but he has nevertheless had an eventful career and enjoyed a decade in the English Premier League - long enough to earn him a reputation as a fiercely competitive, rugged professional. At an age when many thirty-something pros like Todd are able to command lucrative contracts with either battling Premiership clubs or ambitious Championship teams he has turned his back on the English game - at least for a 12-month period - and moved with his young family to Western Australia in search of a new challenge and life experience.
After years battling against relegation with clubs such as Bolton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers, Charlton Athletic and Derby, Todd, not surprisingly, finds the pace of the A-League and the fact that he only has to play one game a week a pleasant change. ''I just fancied something different," Todd, 34, told Michael Lynch of the 'the Age' newspaper. "Perth established interest in me really early and in May I came out and had a look around with my wife and kids and we just decided it would be a good adventure for us and the kids to see what life and football was like here."
While Glory has made an uneven start - two narrow away losses followed by a home wins against Newcastle Jets and Melbourne Victory - Todd is happy enough with the way things are going. ''To play Saturday to Saturday and have that recovery time is pretty good, especially when you get to my age, although the travelling is pretty testing," he said. "It was two and a half hours to Adelaide and then eight to Wellington, but we can't have any excuses because we know what we are in for. And it's the same for other teams coming here.''
Given his father's background in the game it was inevitable he would come into soccer if he had any ability. And while he acknowledges he hasn't reached his dad's heights he is, nonetheless, happy enough with what he achieved. ''I did wonder sometimes if I had played my cards differently if I might have done a little bit better, but that's life and football, said Todd. "Working with my father at Bolton (when Todd snr was the manager) wasn't a disadvantage. I think it helped me … we had a good time, with two promotions but unfortunately two relegations.''
It was in the north west that Todd most fondly remembers his time at the top as a Blackburn player for five years from 2002. ''My best time was at Blackburn. I became captain under (Mark) Hughes and we did well, getting into Europe," he commented. "It was great to go to Derby at the end of my career because of the family links there. The fans are great and the stadium is great but things didn't work out the way we wanted them to (the club had a nightmare season in the Premiership and were relegated).'' It was there, however, that he met now Glory team mate Mile Sterjovski and the seeds of a move Down Under were sown.
MITCHELL HAILS SLOW BURN GLORY
Branko Jelic's two-goal blast against champions Melbourne Victory delighted coach David Mitchell who believes his Perth Glory side will be the A-League's 'slow burners' this season. Mitchell was over the moon with the way his side repelled an attack minded Victory outfit that, despite conceding the opening goal, quickly found their way back into the game. "I think last year or in previous years we probably would have conceded one or two goals in the first half when we were getting well beaten so its credit to the boys, they worked their socks off," Mitchell said.
Mitchell had no complaints about how his troops responded to his half-time pep talk having dominated for large portions of the opening stanza. "I was thankful that we could regroup at half time and go out back out with a clear understanding of what we need to do to turn the game and we did that," the coach added. "Tando Velaphi was outstanding tonight, not only his saving of shots but also his reading of the game and coming out of the box when he needed to. I always said we'd be a slow burner throughout the year and get better and better I think and tonight has proven it."
PERTH OUT-CLASS DOLPHINS
Perth SC maintained second place on the Premier League table by defeating Mandurah City 2-0 on a cloudy afternoon at Dorrien Gardens. A Trent Kay header put Perth in front just before the break with young substitute Jason Pottier securing victory close to the final whistle. “It was a tough one bit we’re glad to get the three points … it was an improvement on recent weeks,” said Perth coach Graham Normanton. “I’m confident we can beat anybody we play, it’s about us starting to improve our performance now, getting the structure right and looking towards the finals.”
Mandurah got proceedings underway and were soon on the attack with Christian Pascherwitz’s looping header spilled for a corner by Luke Martino. Mark Walsh nodded down the resulting corner to Farrell Hedges but his shot was deflected wide by Gianfranco Circati. Michael Black, Phil Arnold and David Onoforo combined to create Perth’s first opening, which the latter sent off-target from 10-metres. Phil Straker was called into action after Ian McMurray neatly exchanged a series of passes with Greg Sharland, who dribbled his way to the bye-line before the Mandurah custodian came out to save the danger.
A surging run through the middle of the park by Mandurah captain Andy Brown saw him neatly touch the ball past Craig Simpson, however, goalkeeper Martino was in no mood to be beaten and came swiftly off his line to smothered at the midfielder’s feet. Perth were now into rhythm and Onoforo should have done better than lift high from the top of the 18-yard box, and a few minutes later Gary Greenhill placed wide a guilt-edged chance from 6-metres. Martino kept the teams level with a fine reflex save from Pascherwitz’s crisp volley. Perth got the breakthrough on the stroke of half-time, substitute Andrew Bourakis delivered a corner to which Kay glanced inside the far post.
Mandurah went close to equalising soon after the restart when Walsh’s downward header at the back post bounced inside a crowded 6-yard box before being cleared by a composed defence. Craig Young chanced his luck from distance but failed to elicit a response from Martino. Perth were patient in their approach work and Arnold’s curling effort nearly found the back of the net. A neat build-up involving Black, Sharland and Pottier ended with the latter’s cross headed high and wide by Onoforo. The game was made safe with two minutes remaining when defender Ryan Townsend touched the ball away from Arnold but into the path of Pottier who made no mistake in firing across the advancing ‘keeper.
DADI FIGHTS FOR GLORY SPOT
Former Ivory Coast international Eugene Dadi has found himself out in the cold as Perth Glory's new strike force of Mile Sterjovski and Branko Jelic begins to flourish. The veteran striker bagged ten goals last season to share the club's golden boot award with departed young gun Nikita Rukavytsya, however, 36-year old Dadi hasn't been seen since starting Glory's season opening loss to Adelaide United. "It's just a situation where you've got players in the team who are doing well," Glory coach David Mitchell said. "He's as keen as mustard to play, so that's a good sign and he's working hard. It's a long season. "He's just got to wait and keep himself fit and motivated and if he does that and that chance comes I'm sure he'll take it." Dadi's woes have been compounded by the arrival of Matthew Mayora, signed on a six-week deal from Sydney Olympic and who has been in the squad for Glory's past three games.
KNIGHTS PUT SWAN TO THE SWORD
Western Knights continued to march towards their first Premier League trophy in five years by inflicting a 4-0 thrashing of Swan United at the Swan Italian Club. The table-topping Knights gave a scintillating attacking performance for which goals from Mario Marcinko, Cormac Dawson, David Micevski, Anthony Campbell were the reward. “I couldn’t have asked for more from the players today. We created a number of chances, scored four and their keeper pulled off some fantastic saves, it was a great all-round performance,” said the Knights first year coach Paul Price. “At the break we discussed the goal difference situation with Perth’s being better than ours and the boy’s came out and didn’t take their foot of the gas. We’ve been creating chances in recent games and not converting but today we did.”
The game hadn’t even started when Swan was dealt a cruel first blow with captain Aaron Cole forced out through injury. And it took the Knights only 10 minutes to capitalise with Marcinko applying a clinical finish past Cory Hugo from 5-metres after the youngster was played in by Campbell. The visitors dominance almost produced a second goal after 24 minutes when Daniel Micevski’s crisp volley from the edge of the 18-yard box had goalkeeper Hugo at full-stretch. The going was tough for Swan, who didn’t create anything meaningful until the half hour when Million Butshiire headed wide Robert Monterosso’s cross at the end of a good build-up down the right that also featured John Mansaray and Trent Wood.
Swan were punished for some lax defending in the 36th minute, David Micevski’s throw was flicked on by Campbell for Stuart Ferguson, who looped a shot over Hugo which hit the post and in an instant Dawson had the bundled the rebound into the net. The home team were struggling to break down their opponent, although they did find a way through when Brendan Craig’s cross fell kindly for David McNally, but the big defender delayed his shot and Ferguson made a timely block. The Knights continued to pile on the pressure as the half came to a close, with the Swan defence working overtime. Marcinko’s shot was well saved by Higo after getting on the end of a David Price through ball, and in stoppage time David Micevski fired wide of the far post.
Dawson hit the base of the post with a shot on the turn as the Knights started the second half where they’d left off the first. Swan should have reduced the deficit on 55 minutes when Dom Ando played over the defence and with the defence appealing for offside Tom Shepheard raced away only to fire wide with just Frazer Siddall to beat. Another golden opportunity went begging on the hour when Okwy Diamondstar’s handball gave Swan a penalty which Damian Scali crashed into the post with Siddall diving the other direction. That miss came haunt Swan just sixty seconds later when David Micevski’s free-kick from 28-metres curled over the wall and, despite Hugo getting a hand to it, into the net.
The margin blew out to four goals two minutes later, Siddall’s long clearance was headed back towards Hugo by Scali, but Campbell showed lighting pace to nip in and flick the ball into the net from the edge of the box. The one-way traffic nature of the game saw Price play through for Marcinko who lobbed the on-coming ‘keeper only to have Craig head off the line. Price was provider again with an inch-perfect pass for substitute Karl O’Reilly, whose shot was pushed around the post by Hugo. Marcinko had two good chances to further increase the margin, flashing a volley just wide and heading past the post a cross from Barry Devlin, who in stoppage time volleyed just high.
GOAL-DEN BURST SINKS CANNING (by Tim Lefort, Football West)
ECU Joondalup struck a trio of rapid-fire goals midway through the second half to defeat a spirited Canning City 3-0 at Edith Cowan University campus. Jake Benson-Cooper got the breakthrough the hosts deserved after 62 minutes with Tommy Amphlett netting twice in as many minutes to secure a fifth win in six games for coach Syd Amphlett. “All credit to Canning, they kept going and made it difficult for us,” he said. “We were frustrated, the players were frustrated - you could see it out there. We said at half-time, we’ve just got to be patient and play our game. At the end of the day if we’d won 1-0 and it had been an ugly game, who cares? We want to play the pretty football and the attractive football but it wasn’t to be today and it turned out the first goal was crucial.”
Buoyed by recent good form, Joondalup came out full of confidence and with only 5 minutes gone Amphlett nearly put them ahead but his clever touch rolled just the wrong side of the upright. Jon Higgins was creator of their next opening by crossing into the path of Garin Collins, who drove the ball wide from the edge of the 18-yard box. Joondalup went close again after 23 minutes when Charlie Comyn-Platt headed over at a Higgins’ free-kick. Canning were competing well but struggling in the final third, their first real shot on goal coming from Luke Doyle whose long-range effort was off-target. Higgins dragged a shot wide, and moments later picked out Jamie Watt whose close-range header forced goalkeeper Kenny Ftynogiannis into a fine reflex save. Jon Mathers should have put Canning ahead in the 40th minute but, with only the ‘keeper to beat, poked wide.
Joondalup started the second half strongly and Ftynogiannis did well to recover from a fumble to deny Watt. A clever short corner variation presented Dale McCulloch with a chance but again Ftynogiannis came to his side’s rescue. The deadlock was broken in the 62nd minutes, Watt a patitally cleared corner back into the box where Benson-Cooper was on hand at the far post to head in. Two minutes later Higgins played in another deep cross and Amphlett expertly cushioned his header over the stranded ‘keeper. The result was secured in the 68th minute after Benson-Cooper broke down the right and crossed for an unmarked Amphlett, who had time to take a touch before burying the ball in the back of the net from 7-metres. Paul Van Dongen blazed over from 27-metres in a rare Canning sortie, then Benson-Cooper and Watt got in each other’s way when a fourth Joondalup goal looked certain.
CROWD TROUBLE OVERSHADOWS STIRLING WIN
An ugly incident in which Adam Bachillor was hit in the face by an object thrown from the crowd has marred Stirling Lions’ 4-1 demolition of Floreat Athena this evening at Macedonia Park. Stirling’s fourth-straight league win lifts the club away from the relegation zone for the first time in three months, and to within three points of fifth spot. Unfortunately, the game will be remembered more for the first half incident that left Bachiller with a cut above his eye. “The safety of players is paramount,” commented Floreat coach Michael Roki. “You can’t those sort of things happening, it got him just above the eye, it could well have hit him in the eye, it was a (cigarette) lighter or something.”
Fired-up by a vocal home crowd, Stirling hit the ground running to open up a two-goal buffer within quarter of an hour. The home team was celebrating as early as the 9th minute when Anthony Fearon played a delightful pass in to a suspiciously offside looking Phil O'Callaghan, who capitalised by drilling into the net from a tight angle. Six minutes later Dean Evans delivered an in-swinging free-kick from wide on the left which fell nicely for captain Steven Hesketh to lash into the roof of the net on the turn. It was only then that Floreat began to find their momentum, Callum Roberts going close with a looping header that drifted high of the crossbar.
Branimir Mikulic had a chance to reduce but struck tamely into the goalkeeper’s arms after meeting a cross from Bachiller. Stirling was denied a third goal by goalkeeper Alex Dunn, who acrobatically kept out Jamie DeAbreu’s goalbound half volley. However, Floreat were not to be denied and in the 30th minute Bachiller drove to the line before cutting back for Roberts to fire first time into the top corner, giving ‘keeper Kevin Miller no chance. It was soon after that Rick Brewer’s strong tackle on Mikulic sparked an on-field melee, and as players squared up to eachother a cigarette lighter hurled from a section of the home crowd struck Bachiller on the face.
The game resumed after a delay with Floreat down to ten men - Bachiller having left the field to receive treatment - and having lost their momentum. Stirling went immediately on the attack with Ludovic Boi weaving his magic wide on the left before squaring a delightful pass for Marc Anthony, whose drive flashed narrowly wide. A rasping strike from distance by Boi rose over the bar, as did Fearon’s effort after being set-up by DeAbreu. Stirling got their reward just moments out from the break, Brewer playing through for O’Callaghan who nudged John Migas off the ball before lobbing it over the advancing ‘keeper.
Floreat opened the second half sharply and they almost reduced the deficit through a close-range header from Bachiller that was well saved by Miller. The teams would trade attacks for the remainder of the game with some good openings presenting at both ends of the park. On the hour Fearon was set free by Evans but the striker’s attempt to seal victory was just wide of the mark. The injection of attack-minded trio Daniel Neiderberger, David Foster and Miki Vujacic gave Floreat fresh legs as they pressed desperately to salvage the game. However, Stirling had the last laugh on 86 minutes when a sliced shot on goal skewed into the path of DeAbreu who angled into the net.
SUPER-SUB BACZYNSKI KEEPS INGLEWOOD’S SEASON ALIVE
Michael Baczynski came off the bench to earn Inglewood United three much-needed points at the expense of Cockburn City in today’s game at Clipsal Stadium. Inglewood’s narrow 1-0 win, their first in six games, moves the inner-city club to just a couple of points outside the top five. “I thought the first half we weren’t at our best so I gave them a razzing at half time and got the extra 10% we needed and what a strike the goal was, he (Baczynski) definitely came on and changed the game for us,” Pryce said. “Cockburn are an organised team but we let ourselves down with our passing and our choices that we made while we were doing it in the first half. We had to be a bit more composed on the ball, pick and choose our moments and get the ball down and played to feet.”
Genuine chances were few and far between in a first half dominated by the defences. Cameron Edwards found a way through but his shot was blocked by Oliver Taseski, the ball bounced in the goal mouth then up onto the crossbar before referee Josh Mannela blew for a foul on the Inglewood goalkeeper. A free-kick from distance by Renato Jelen failed to trouble to Taseski, who had his gloves stung by Anthony Pereira’s effort from the top of the 18-yard box. Sandwiched between those chances was a guilt-edged opportunity for Albert Osei-Tutu, who expertly turned Paul Natale but then shot weakly and too close to Nick Feely. Osei-Tutu pulled wide another opening in the 30th minute as Inglewood began to spark, while late in the half Matt Wardle stretched Feely with a fine free-kick.
Cockburn began the second period brightly, Edwards sending in a cross which had Taseski move across his box to capture ahead of Jason Dos Santos. Jelen seized on a bouncing ball inside the area but stroked wide of the far post with Taseski well beaten, while Pereira should have done much better than clip the ball into the arms of the Inglewood ‘keeper. Having survived these close calls, Inglewood started applying some pressure of their own and Mladen Kovacevic was unlucky not to score with a powerful shot which beat Feely but smashed onto the post, with the rebound being sent high by Dannie Richman. The match was decided in the 76th minute when Baczynski turned the ball over in midfield and drove forward unchallenged before unleashing an explosive shot from 16-metres which gave Feely no chance.
RED-HOT ROBINSON SALVAGES POINT FOR ARMADALE (by Michael Bate, Football West)
Import striker James Robinson scored Armadale a last gasp equaliser to rescue Armadale a 2-2 draw from Sorrento at Alfred Skeet Oval. Stuart Banks looked to have the visitors on their way to victory when he fired them ahead with a brilliant free kick in the 76th minute. However, it was Robinson who had the final say, bringing the teams level in the 89th minute having spent much of the afternoon teasing and tormenting the Gulls backline. The draw moves Armadale a point closer to remaining in the Premier League beyond this winter, while Sorrento remain within striking distance of a top five play-off berth.
Robinson’s first contribution came just minutes into the game when he set-up strike partner Warren Grieves, who hit the back of the net only for his effort to be ruled out for offside. It wasn’t long until Armadale had a legitimate goal courtesy of Robinson when he fired a penalty kick straight down the middle as goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock dove to his right after the English import had been felled by a defender. It should have been two-nil in the 23rd minute when a wonderful flowing move involving Grieves, Marlon Ramirez and Mo Atak put Robinson one-on-one with Sharrock, who made an important save.
It was a miss Armadale would regret dearly as Todd Harnwell restored parity three minutes later by tapping in from all of a metre after a Banks free-kick struck the post then ricocheted off young goalkeeper Robbie Easton to the Gulls captain. Robinson would have put Armadale back in front had it not been for Banks, who pressured the striker into rushing a shot that slammed into the post. Steve McDonald had the ball in the net after 34 minutes but his foul on Easton meant it wouldn’t count. The final chance of an entertaining half had Robinson force a fine reaction save from Sharrock after he stole possession from Danny Cain.
The second half did not contain as much goalmouth action as the first, but there were a few decent chances. Stuart Montgomery was twice played in by good passes from midfield but on both occasions Easton was quick off his line to nullify any threat. At the other end of the field Ryan Pearson tried his luck from 18-metres with a powerful left-foot effort that flew just over the bar with Sharrock beaten. A series of free-kicks and a couple of yellow cards for the home side led to Banks lining up a set-piece from the corner of the 18-yard box, the defender curling a powerful shot into the top corner of Easton’s goal to put victory in sight for Sorrento.
Three minutes later Banks made an important contribution at the other end of the pitch when he cleared Atak’s header off the line. But there was nothing he could do when Atak streaked down the right and crossed to Grieves, who was thwarted by another fantastic Sharrock save and with the crumbs Robinson fired into the net on the turn. Both teams had fantastic chances to snatch all three points as the game entered stoppage time. Montgomery skied the ball from 9-metres after Harnwell had nodded down a deep free-kick by Bank. Then it was Gary Bunting’s turn to clear the crossbar after Robinson’s right wing cross found him unmarked at the back post.
BALCATTA STUMBLE AGAINST FORRESTFIELD
First Division leader Balcatta came from behind to grab a 1-1 with Forrestfield United at Graham Burkett Reserve. The result allowed second-placed Wanneroo City, who won away at Bayswater City, to close the gap on Balcatta to one point with four games to play. Forrestfield asserted much of the early pressure and should have gone one-nil up when a poorly defending corner put the ball at the feet of Craig Anderson, who sliced wide of the mark. The home side went on to control the opening stanza through the efforts of Kynon Melling and Matt Harold, while in the final third John Hunter brought a couple of good saves out of Chris Ramsey. Their best opening came via another corner late in the period, the ball making its way to Matt Harold whose driven shot forced a superb reflex save from the goalkeeper.
With their ears still ringing from coach Salv Todaro's half-time spray, Balcatta emerged from the break a much more focused proposition. So it was against the run of play that Forrestfield hit the front on 56 minutes when Matt Harold's corner picked out sibling Andy Harold to crisply fire low into the net, leaving Ramsey no chance to save. This opened the game up, play streaming from one end to the other with good chances falling for both teams. Balcatta were deservedly back on level terms after 69 minutes when a great through ball in to Andy O'Neill allowed the attacker to slot calmly into the bottom corner, past 'keeper Scott Radford. The closing stages resembled something of a rollercoaster ride, the teams trading shots on goal in a desperate attempt to snatch a late victory before referee Michael Jasinski brought to an end what had been a pulsating encounter.
MORLEY COMEBACK TO STUN PHOENIX
Morley Windmills recovered from going two-goals down to shock high-flyers South West Phoenix 5-2 at Wooton Reserve. The game started fairly evenly with both teams having limited chances to score before the visiting midfield of James Bergin, Patrick Quinn and David Murphy began to take control. Phoenix deservedly took an 11th minute when Quinn played an exquisite long pass in to David Rodgers, who expertly chested the ball down before lashing into the net from just inside the 18-yard box. Quinn send a couple of efforts over the crossbar as the visitors went searching for a second, while Steve Suttie crahed into the posted after meeting a cutback from Kieran Kavanagh. Their reward came on the counterattack after 44 minutes, Kavanagh’s through ball allowing Rodgers to cut inside his man to drill into the far corner from 10-metres.
The game would have been ended early in the second had Rodgers not headed wide a simple opportunity resulting from Suttie’s cross. Jake Harman put the men in orange back in the game after 55 minutes by tapping in at close-range following a corner. This had a galvanising effect on the home side, who struck four goals in the eleven minutes to turn the game on its head. Parity was restored in the 68th minute when a fine close-range header by Jake Harman flashed into the net from Scott Mcilroy’s delivery. Two minutes later James Jepson whipped in a free-kick that gave the ‘keeper no chance to put Morley in front for the first time. An indirect free-kick by Jepson ricocheted off the defensive wall and fell to the feet of Martin Sherwin, who blasted in from 5-metres. Jake Harman completed his hat-trick and the hosts remarkable comeback soon after by calmly slotting in from inside the area after Simon El Chami had won possession down the right and played him in on goal.
THE SIGNS ARE POSITIVE FOR FREMANTLE
A young Fremantle Spirit moved into fifth place with a 4-2 come-from-behind defeat of Rockingham City under lights at Lark Hill Sportsplex. There were only a couple of minutes on the clock when a mix-up in the heart of Fremantle's defence was punished by Darren Lawler, who coolly converted past goalkeeper Jake Sacco to give Rockingham a surprise early lead. Spurred into action, the visitors conjured an immediate response in the form of Josh Wade's thunderbolt which soared into the top corner from 28-metres.
After that it was pretty much one-way traffic as Ravi Kuppasamy and Cisco Jorquiera wreaked endless havoc on the home defence. The port side deservedly went ahead on 26 minutes when Brent Mayhew's delightful cross was volleyed into the net by Kuppusamy from just inside the 18-yard box. Five more minutes had passed when Mayhew was again provider, this time for Roberto Colillo whose crisp finish gave 'keeper James Wilde little chance. Rockingham worked hard to reduce the deficit before the break but could find few ways through Fremantle's defensive line.
The game was effectively ended on 49 minutes when Kuppasamy applied a cool finish to grab his second, and the teams' fourth. Rockingham continued to plug away but their overly physical approach, which led to two Fremantle players leave the field through injury, more often than not hindered their chances of scoring. Going the other way, Fremantle should have put away a few more such was their dominance. Substitute Craig McCreery scored Rockingham a late consolation after another error at the back by the visiting team. The performance of largely teenage Fremantle line-up bodes well for the clubs future.
JELIC BRACE SINKS MELBOURNE
Branko Jelic found the perfect time to register his first goals for Perth Glory, scoring once in each half to see off A-League champions Melbourne Victory 2-1 last night at ME Bank Stadium. The former German Bundesliga forward showed a poacher’s instinct to bag a close-range double and extend to two matches Glory’s 100% home record this season. “We worked hard, the game was tough and we’ve won against the champion of Australia - it is good for our confidence,” said Jelic, who feels Glory is improving with each outing. “We have space to improve because this is just the fourth time that we play together and the season is long so we will see, we just need to see step by step.”
It was a bitterly cold when kick-off arrived, however, the 8,057 home town fans who braved the conditions were warmed on 6 minutes when Glory took the lead. A free-kick played in from the left by Naum Sekulovski was headed back across goal by Chris Coyne for Mile Sterjovski, whose shot beat goalkeeper Glen Moss with Jelic making sure the ball crossed the line at close-range. The goal didn’t unsettle the visitors who hit back three minutes later to level, Danny Allsopp skipping past Scott Neville before crossing for Archie Thompson, who slotted in from point blank range after his initial effort was blocked by Sekulovski’s desperate goal-line slide.
An Adriano Pellegrino cross from the right found Victor Sikora, but the Dutchman headed wide when well placed. Played quickly switched to the other end with Thompson and Hernandez combining before the latter fired wide of the target from 8-metres. Victory was by this stage starting to gain the ascendancy in midfield where Ney Fabiano and Hernandez were asserting the greater influence. On the half hour Thompson’s flick created an opening for Hernandez but his shot was well saved by Tando Velaphi, who did well in tipping a Fabiano shot over the crossbar five minutes later. Halftime was not far away when Fabiano released Leigh Broxham down the left but his cross was cut out by the alert Glory ‘keeepr.
The visitors started the second half positively as Hernandez’s free-kick called Velaphi into the action once again. However, it was Glory that were celebrating in the 54th minute when Neville surged down the right to deliver a delightful cross for Sterjovski, and while his header was blocked by Moss there was nothing the ‘keeper could do as Jelic converted the loose ball from close-range. Glory nearly stretched their lead on the hour when Pellegrino’s corner made its way to Sikora, who volleyed wide from the edge of the 18-yard box. There were some nervous moments in the closing stages for the home team with shots in quick succession from Tom Pondeljak and Billy Celeski kept out by Velaphi, who ensured a home win.
THE PREMIER LEAGUE IN PREVIEW
Stirling Lions v Floreat Athena (Referee: David Costello)
Another big weekend of football is highlighted by the Macedonia Park showdown between Stirling Lions and Floreat Athena (3.00pm). Stirling have claimed maximum points from their last three league outings and, with Jordan Rhodes back from holiday and Phil O'Callaghan finding the net with regularity, it's no surprise they've been installed as pre-match favourite. "This fixture breeds a lot of passion amongst the players and supporters (but) we need to distance ourselves from the local rivalry and remain focused on picking up the three points," said Stirling assistant coach Gary Williams. "After our recent run of nine points in three games we are now only six points off fourth place, which provides an additional incentive for our players."
It's been four games since Floreat last sampled league victory - and four years since they came away from Stirling with a win. Despite this, coach Michael Roki remains upbeat after his team recovered from two-down against Inglewood United last week to earn a point. "It was a poor first half but an excellently controlled second half last week ... I think we definitely made some realisations about our team performance on the day, but it was a pity we lost two valuable points in that process," said Roki. "The pitch is not in the greatest condition at the moment, so an early goal might be worth its weight in gold this week as the pressure starts to build on sides playing for the high stakes of survival and top five spots."
Armadale v Sorrento (Referee: Jeremy Oliphant)
If you're looking to head south of the river then Alfred Skeet Oval is the place to be when Armadale takes on Sorrento (3.00pm). Armadale are another team who have found some late season form, with Danny Mahoney pulling the strings in midfield and the lively Mo Atak and James Robinson in scintillating in attack. Unfortunately, they'll be without captain Andy Bower and Kieren Tracey due to suspension, but Armadale will nonetheless fancy their chances. Sorrento lost ground on the top five last week coach Steve Neville has his fingers crossed Shaun Kilkelly is fit after limping out of the loss to Swan United. Brodie Martin is back from a lengthy injury lay-off and pushing for a start, while Daryl Platten and goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock are looking forward to playing their former club.
Swan United v Western Knights (Referee: Michael Nugus)
Premier League leaders Western Knights journey to the Swan Italian Club where they meet a Swan United (3.00pm) side that has climbed up to fourth. The Knights have not won in the Swan Valley since 2004 but are expected to end that barren spell tomorrow. Goals have been flowing for homegrown talent Mario Marcinko and Anthony Campbell thanks to a never-ending supply of ammunition from siblings David and Daniel Micevski. Swan captain Aaron Cole, goalkeeper Cory Hugo, veteran striker Damian Scali and early-season signing Brendan Craig have been outstanding for the black and whites, who enter the weekend in search of a fourth straight win.
ECU Joondalup bv Canning City (Referee: Paul Anderson)
It's a must-win game for both Canning City and ECU Joondalup who square off at the Edith Cowan University campus (3.00pm). Canning slipped down to last place with last week's loss to the Knights and coach Frank Longstaff is planning for a full 90 minute performance in what could well be his teams' season-defining moment. Daniel Trevisiol has banging in the goals of late, the midfield influence of Paul Van Dongen can not be underestimated while Rory Mouttet and Jon Mathers are the key players at the back. Joondalup have improved significantly of late with Garin Collins leading from the front as import Charlie Comyn-Platt and Scott Blackmore marshal a tight defensive unit.
Inglewood United v Cockburn City (Referee: Josh Manella)
Scott Miller's Cockburn City travels to Clipsal Stadium where Inglewood United (3.00pm) have home ground advantage. Attack-focused trio Dannie Richman, Mladen Kovacevic and Alex Stamatiadis along with long-time goalkeeper Oliver Taseski have vital roles to play as Shane Pryce takes charge of Inglewood for the first time on home soil. Michael Mirco lends his vast experience to a Cockburn line-up which boasts some of the local scenes brightest young talents, amongst them Australian youth internationals Nick Feely, Cameron Edwards and Devon Gibson.
Perth SC v Mandurah City (Referee: Mat Cheeseman)
The Sunday fixture pits second-from-top Perth SC against finals contender Mandurah City at Dorrien Gardens (3.00pm). Mandurah have slipped off the pace a little lately and new coach Stuart Young is well aware another loss will severely damage their play-off hopes. Andy Brown and Ryan Townsend provide the Dolphins leadership as Christian Paschkewitz goes searching for goals. David Onoforo has a dozen regular season goals to his name and his partnership with Ian McMurray will go a long way to securing victory for Perth, an outcome that would keep the pressure on the top-of-the-table Knights. The game will be live on 107.3 Heritage FM, coverage commencing at 2.45pm.
THE FIRST DIVISION IN PREVIEW
Bayswater City go in search of a fourth consecutive win when they host Wanneroo City in the pick of the weekend's First Division action. "Wanneroo has a very solid squad, they're well coached and very confident at the moment that they can win the league," said Bayswater coach Mauro Marchione. "On the other hand, we are a great team too and we will play our game aware of the fact that we can win every game left and finish our season in the top three - that is our aim. If we continue to play the sort of football we have been it will be very hard for anyone to get points from us."
Morley Windmills strong home record comes under scrutiny when third-placed South West Phoenix makes the trip to Wotton Reserve. "We want to finish the season strongly and keep the pressure on Balcatta and Wanneroo," said Phoenix captain Patrick Quinn. "It's going to tough to catch Balcatta, there's no doubt about that, but they have a couple of tough fixtures coming up and you never no what might happen. We have to focus on our own performances, take maximum points from our remaining games and keep pushing towards the top."
There's been no shortage of goals for top-of-the-table Balcatta, who are tipped to extend their unbeaten run to fourteen game when Forrestfield United visits Graham Burkett Reserve. Fremantle Spirit should come home with all three points from Lark Hill Sportsplex where Rockingham City has managed just a single win in seven games. Gosnells City is expected to encounter few problems when they visit second-from-bottom Ashfield. Likewise Dianella White Eagles, who are home to a Queens Park side that has leaked on average of just under five goals a game.
MCCALLUM SAVOURS CHAMPIONSHIP SUCCESS
A Women’s Professional Soccer champion’s medal will be amongst Collette McCallum’s possessions when she returns home from a successful stint in the United States. McCallum’s team, New Jersey Blue Sky, claimed the inaugural WPS championship by defeating pre-game favourites Los Angeles Sol 1-0 on Sunday afternoon. “It was unbelievable at the end,” McCallum said. “We worked really hard, and through all the stuff that happened during the season, everyone had their ups and downs, eventually we pulled it together. It’s great that we have a great chemistry together, too. We didn’t just go out and put a team out. We played good football in all the final games. It’s an amazing feeling. It is definitely up there with the World Cup. I still don’t think that it has happened."
The only goal of the inaugural WPS final arrived in the 16th minute, Heather O’Reilly converting at close-range after Natasha Kai flicked on Keeley Dowling’s cross from the right. But the Sol, playing in front of their home crowd at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles, made their task difficult when Allison Falk was red-carded in the 27th minute for denying a goal scoring opportunity. “The red card was good for us but it also made things really harder because they came out really strong with ten players in the second half,” McCallum said. “I had a couple of opportunities and I should have done a bit better, I think. But at the end of the day we won 1-0 and the team did excellent. It was a great day.”
GLORY TRIO UNCONCERNED AT BEING OMITTED FROM SOCCEROOS
Perth Glory trio Mile Sterjovski, Jacob Burns and Chris Coyne have been assured by national coach Pim Verbeek they remain squarely in the Socceroos' plans despite missing out on selection for next week's friendly against South Korea. Jason Culina and Shane Stefanutto were the only A-League players to make the 24-man squad, with Glory's Socceroos failing to make the cut. "We spoke with Pim and he made it clear he didn't want to disrupt us from our preparations because we had a bit of a slow start to the season," Sterjovski said. "He wanted us to do the best for our club and said 'look forward to seeing you in October' (when Australia takes on the Netherlands)."
Sterjovski feels Glory's stuttering start to the season may have played a part in his omission. "Jason Culina's team Gold Coast are doing quite well ... whereas we had a bit of a slow start, two away games and we've only had the one win," he said. "I think he (Verbeek) wanted us to stay here to try to improve our standing on the table and improve our games here." Sterjovski is yet to notch a goal in Glory colours but has looked lively in the past two matches after enduring a forgettable debut. The 30-year old has alternated between a role up front and on the wing but will be looking to open his goal tally in Friday night's clash with Melbourne Victory at ME Bank Stadium.
HUMAN ON THE MEND
There's light at the end of the tunnel for Perth SC attacker Genaveo Human following a lengthy lay-off through injury. The South African born goal sneak is a long way down the road to recovery after damaging his knee against Swan United late last month. "The injury has come along quite well. I ran on it for the first time on Tuesday night and all went according to plan so I'm quite happy with how it's progressing," explained Human. "The incident was just one of them things that happen in football - I was attempting to see the ball out for a corner, I jumped in front of my opponent and as I was landing I got a tug on the shoulder which caused my whole body to rotate and, unfortunately, my knee was still facing forward causing it to twist and this resulted in a strained medial ligament."
The injury came as a huge set back for 20-year old Human, who had only just forced his way into Graham Normanton's side when he was forced on to the sidelines. "Obviously it was pretty disappointing because I was fit, sharp and playing well. But injuries are part of being a footballer and hopefully I’m able to get back to that level of fitness and be ready for the finals series," said Human. "There have been a few injuries of late but we're lucky enough that we've got a squad with a mass of depth and quality at the club. I'm more than confident that this squad can get us through this injury period relatively unscathed."
Perth Glory's recruitment of Todd Howarth may have been a blow to Perth's title aspirations, but Human says it's long overdue recognition of the midfielder's immense talent. "Todd has been a massive loss for us. It's not everyday a player comes along with the same qualities that he has displayed consistently for a number of years now and it was only going to be a matter of time before this was recognised by A-League clubs," commented Human. "He's worked hard to be in the position he is now and by the looks of things that hard work is starting to pay dividends with his performances for Glory."
Human makes no secret of the fact he'd, too, relish the opportunity of playing in the A-League, however, before he gets to that level he recognises there's a lot of hard work to be done. "Well obviously every kid growing up aspires to be a professional footballer and wants to go as far as possible and I am no exception to that," said Human, who played several seasons with New Zealand club Three Kings United prior to moving to Perth. "Those types of opportunities only come up if you put the hard yards in and produce quality performances week in and week out and that's what I'm aiming to do when I get back to full fitness."
AMARAL READY TO GO
Perth Glory have through the registration of Brazilian midfielder Amaral for tomorrow night’s game with Melbourne Victory at ME Bank Stadium. However, coach David Mitchell admits he’s unsure what role his latest addition will play against the A-League champions following Sunday’s 2-0 win over Newcastle Jets. “I don’t see the reason for many changes. I think the boys have done well,” said Mitchell, who is likely to call on Amaral’s creative talents from the bench as Glory push for a win that would take them into the top six. “He’s looking good so we’re looking to get some paperwork done for him and there’s a good chance that could be done in the next few days,” he said.
Amaral played seven times for Glory last season before a serious hamstring injury ended his campaign. The former Brazil international paid his own way to Perth in a bid to win a guest player contract and has impressed during training. “We’ve had him tested fitness wise and we’ve had his hamstring tested as well,” Mitchell said. “You want to create a situation where people are fighting for places. If you have one of your star players go out and you haven’t got a good player to step in it’s always a bit of a worry. But we’re starting to get a squad now where people are competing for places.”
There will be no place in the squad against Melbourne for last season’s leading goal scorer Eugene Dadi, who has not played since round one. But Mitchell said the Frenchman, who scored 10 goals last season, could yet play an important role this season. “Eugene did very well last year but that was last year,” Mitchell said. “This year is a new year and he’s an important member of the squad. At the minute things are going quite well. I’m happy with the way things are going so if the opportunity comes, Eugene works hard and gets his spot back, I’m pretty sure he’ll produce.”
SOCCEROOS NAMED FOR KOREA
Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek has named a mainly European-based squad for the upcoming friendly with against Korea Republic in Seoul. Vince Grella, Jason Culina, Josh Kennedy and Michael Petkovic are amongst those returning to the fray after missing selection against the Republic of Ireland in Limerick earlier this month. Former Perth Glory striker Nikita Rukavytsya, who made his senior debut against the Irish, and young Middlesbrough defender Rhys Williams retain their places in the 24-player squad. Australia is currently placed 16th in the FIFA world rankings, the highest of any Asian nation, whilst Korea Republic is 48th.
The Australia squad to play Korea Republic on 5 September is Michael Beauchamp (Aalborg), Brett Holman (AZ Alkmaar), Mile Jedinak (Antalyaspor), Vincenzo Grella (Blackburn Rovers), Scott McDonald (Celtic), Nick Carle (Crystal Palace), Luke Wilkshire (Dynamo Moscow), Ante Covic (Elfsborg), Mark Schwarzer (Fulham), Harry Kewell (Galatasaray), Jason Culina (Gold Coast United), Jade North (Incheon), Danny Invincibile (Kilmarnock), Patrick Kisnorbo (Leeds United), Rhys Williams (Middlesbrough), Josh Kennedy (Nagoya Grampus), Shane Stefanutto (North Queensland Fury), Matthew Spiranovic, Dario Vidosic (Nurnberg), Mark Bresciano (Palermo), Mark Milligan (Shanghai), David Carney (Sheffield United), Michael Petkovic (Sivasspor) and Nikita Rukavytsya (FC Twente).
GRANDAD FIRES UP GLORY'S DUTCH DYNAMO (courtesy the ‘West Austrealian’)
Former Dutch international Victor Sikora is drawing on inspiration from his late grandfather, who died eight years ago yesterday, to help Perth Glory crash into the A-League finals this season. The midfielder said his non-stop approach to the game was instilled in him by his grandfather, Stanislove, who had urged him to use hard work as the foundation for success. "He told me, 'Victor, always give 110% because nothing comes easy in life'. And that's what I do," said Sikora.
Sikora, who played six times for the Netherlands, has a resume that includes spells with Dutch top division clubs Ajax, Heerenveen and NAC Breda. The 31-year-old admitted craving success after seven years without a trophy - his last triumph coming in 2002 when he helped Ajax clinch the Dutch Eredivisie. "I haven't come here for a holiday," Sikora said. "Everybody here in this group wants to win the championship."
That attitude is evident in the perpetual style, developed in adherence to Stanislove's advice, which makes Sikora as useful when Glory lose possession as he is with the ball at his feet. "I am always smiling but I'm a winner and I'll do everything necessary to pump up young players, even older players, to get the blood under their nails, as we call it in Holland," he said. "I want to get the best out of everyone."
A man-of-the-match performance in a 2-0 win over Newcastle Jets was crucial in Glory's first victory of the season and Sikora expects the winning ways to continue against A-League champions Melbourne Victory at ME Bank Stadium on Friday. "In my whole career, you have to win every game at home and (picking up) points away is a bonus," he said. "If we put on the pressure how we did to Newcastle, we should be fine."
RUKAVYTSYA READY TO ATTACK
Rising Socceroo star Nikita Rukavytsya believes he needs to bring more bravery to his game if he is to deliver on the potential many believe will carry him all the way to South Africa 2010. After an impressive debut for Australia off the bench in the recent win over the Republic of Ireland, 22-year old Rukavytsya isn’t getting carried away with the plaudits. Instead, the former Perth Glory speedster is feverishly working on ways to wring every last drop of talent from his tank. “One of my weaknesses is that sometimes I don’t take players on enough in the final third,” he told ‘the World Game’ website. “I have the speed and I need to take full advantage of it, rather than sometimes being a bit hesitant to really go at defenders.”
Backing himself to take on and beat defenders - as opposed to taking the safe option - is foremost in Rukavytsya’s mind. “It’s something I want to correct in my game. I need to be braver and to take more responsibility in taking on players and creating more chances,” added Rukavytsya, who missed FC Twente’s Europa League first-leg win over Karabakh with a minor ankle injury picked up against the Irish. “If I’m to make the squad for South Africa that’s something I really have to look at. Sometimes I just pass the ball off and get rid of it straight away when I should maybe take my time and use my speed to greater effect. I suppose it’s a bit of work in progress.”
Rukavytsya is also aiming to add venom to his finishing as he seeks to break into his club’s starting line-up this season. “As a striker that’s also vital for me,” he added. “The good thing is that I’m young and there is scope to improve, I have a great coach in Steve McClaren and I know he believes in me. I want to give myself every chance to make the squad for South Africa. It’s going to be tough to get into the 23. I’m just one of many who are knocking on the door. I enjoyed the experience against Ireland, I think I did okay when I came on and I felt quite at home … To be honest it was amazing to get called up. It’s something I wasn’t sure would happen so soon.”
JETS WIN CAN KICK START OUR SEASON : TODD
A five-day turnaround will be no excuse for Perth Glory when the side tackles A-League champion Melbourne Victory on Friday night. Glory easily accounted for Newcastle Jets on the weekend after dropping the first two games of the season. Melbourne has started their title defence shakily, claiming just four points from the opening three rounds. “It’s a very tough game for us,” said Glory defender Andy Todd. “We can’t just rest on our laurels now. It’s the Victory and we want to get that taste in our mouth again on Friday evening.”
A first-half strike from Wayne Srhoj and a 71st minute screamer by Adriano Pellegrino were enough to ensure Glory would take the points against Newcastle. Todd admits Glory had started tentatively against the Jets on the back of heartbreaking losses to Adelaide United and Wellington Phoenix. “We started slowly against Adelaide, we were pretty poor there,” he said. “We got slightly better at Wellington, but I think we would have (still) been disappointed if we drew that game. But this is a good result at home and hopefully it can kick start us now.”
NEVILLE TIPPED FOR SOCCEROOS HONOURS
Perth Glory coach David Mitchell believes young defender Scott Neville is destined for an overseas career and will one day wear the green and gold of Australia. Rumours surfaced recently that Scottish club Rangers were tracking Neville's progress, and while Glory are unaware of the interest coach Mitchell has little doubt about the 20-year old's potential to establish himself overseas in the next few years. "Some players take a bit longer to settle in and develop and others just race up the hill," Mitchell told Jonathon Cook of the 'West Australian' newspaper. "He is one of those who's just raced up the hill."
Neville made his Glory debut as a substitute in a 1-0 defeat to Central Coast Mariners on New Year's Eve last year and was in the starting line-up for the final three games of the campaign. His rapid adjustment from the National Youth League to the A-League was confirmed when he celebrated his 20th birthday with a man-of-the-match performance in a 3-2 win over soon-to-be-champions Melbourne Victory in mid-January. "He performed well in the youth league and then stepped up with us and was fantastic," Mitchell said. "He's so eager to learn, he's a great talent and a great character. If he continues developing the way he is, he'll play for Australia."
GLORY OPEN ACCOUNT BY GUNNING DOWN JETS
Perth Glory kicked started their season with a 2-0 win against Newcastle Jets at the ME Stadium this afternoon. The 9,398-strong home crowd were treated to a polished display from their team, who leapt into seventh spot on the A-League table courtesy of goals from Wayne Srhoj and Adriano Pellegrino. "We've taken the positives from the first two games, especially against Wellington, and worked on them and it's paid off," said Pellegrino, who was thrilled to get the win in front of Glory's faithful supporters. "I think we're playing a better brand of football. We played well at home last year and it's shown again. It's only one win, so we've just got to put that aside and move on to the Melbourne game."
With both teams starting cautiously, the only early opportunity of note came via a Jacob Burns' free-kick that caused problems for the visiting defence before Nikolai Topor-Stanley stepped in to clear the danger. On 23 minutes Glory snatched the lead, Mile Sterjovski flicked the ball on to Branko Jelic who then played through for Srhoj to apply a clinical finish past advancing goalkeeper Ben Kennedy. The goal did little to change the pattern of a game littered by stray passes on a surface made slippery by the rain. Good approach work by Viktor Sikora put the ball with Srhoj but his long-range effort was straight at Kennedy. The Jets started to spark late in the half and Sasho Petrovski brought a good save out of Tando Velaphi from a Fabio Vignaroli, who minutes later provided the ammunition for Matt Thompson's downward header that hit the post.
Glory went close to doubling their lead on 50 minutes through via a Sekulovski cross from the left which was headed disappointingly wide by Sterjovski. Velaphi reacted smartly to turn around the post a low attempt by Petrovski, who soon after lift the ball high from 7-metres after Topor-Stanley had nodded a cross from Jin-Hyung Song back across goal. A second from the home side would kill off the game and on 70 minutes Sikora had a shot deflected wide following a Scott Neville's barnstorming run down the right. Glory got their reward two minutes later, Burns sending Sekulovski down the left and his deep cross found Pellegrino who half-volleyed smartly past Kennedy from the corner of the 18-year box. The final margin should have been greater but substitute Matthew Mayora was unable to find the net after rounding 'keeper Kennedy.
LOWRY OUT TO GRAB FIRST TEAM SPOT
Shane Lowry insists it is up to Aston Vila’s young guns to seize their opportunity during the club’s early season struggles. 20-year old Lowry made his senior debut by coming on as a late replacement for injured Curtis Davies in Villa’s midweek Europa League play-off tie with Rapid Vienna. “It was a mixed debut. I was happy to play but the team didn’t get the result,” said Lowry, who feels Martin O’Neill’s lack of defensive recruits could work in his favour. “For a young player coming through the lack of signings is ideal because you want to get your chance.”
The rookie defender was pleased to sample the European experience but concedes some disappointment to finish on the losing side. “It’s only 1-0,” Lowry said of the first leg loss to Rapid Vienna. “We’ll be back at Villa Park and we have the quality to go out there and get the result. The squad might be a bit thin but it’s a good chance for the lads coming through, it gives us more of an opportunity.” With Wilfred Bouma (ankle), Curtis Davies (shoulder) and Luke Young (compassionate leave) unavailable, Lowry could make his English league debut when Aston Villa squares off with Liverpool on Monday.
MCCALLUM PLANS FOR BLUE SKY OVER LOS ANGELES
Collette McCallum is quietly confident New Jersey Blue Sky can buck the odds and beat a star-studded Los Angeles Sol to win tomorrow’s inaugural Women’s Professional Soccer final in California. Blue Sky took the circuitous route to the season finale, ending the regular season in fourth place before beating Washington Freedom and Saint Louis Athletica. “It has been quite a tough road for us to come into the final but I think we’ve got quite a good rhythm now,” McCallum told Radio Fremantle’s World Football Programme. “The media are saying we’re probably going to be tired but I think we’ve got a good chance of winning, the girls in our team have got a lot of heart and work hard for each other.”
Lifting the WPS trophy would be a worthy reward for Blue Sky at the end of what has been a somewhat difficult season. “It’s been crazy for our team because we’ve switched two coaches, the first coach got sacked and the second coach left as well so it’s been an up and down season,” commented McCallum, who admits her personal form has suffered. “It has affected my game because I’ve been switched round in different positions. It’s been a little bit tough but I keep looking at the positive side - I’m getting game time. You’ve just got to go with the flow and work as hard as you can and, hopefully, the coach likes what he sees.”
McCallum has thoroughly enjoyed her season in the United States, where the opportunity to pit skills with the best players in the world on a weekly basis has been a dream come true. “It’s a professional league and you’re playing against the top players in the world, so I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and feel very fortunate to be in the final and playing tomorrow,” said McCallum, who’ll face Brazil striker Marta and United States midfielder Shannon Boxx in the season decider. “We have a great fan base back home in New Jersey, it’s been amazing, they’ve really supported us well back at home and a few of them have followed us around as well when we’ve been travelling.”
Europe seems to be the popular destination for players following the completion of the WPS season. However, next on McCalum’s horizon is a holiday in Scotland before returning to Perth ahead of the new W-League season which starts in October. “I haven’t really looked at any of the leagues in Europe, I’m going to come home and settle down and see family and friends,” she explained. “Definitely I want to play in the Perth Glory side with Lisa DeVanna. And a few of the American girls are coming to play in the Australian league, so that’ll give some good media exposure for the league in Australia.”
CAMPBELL KILLS OFF CANNING WITH LATE STRIKE (by Ashley Morrison, Football West)
Western Knights scored twice in the final ten minutes to come-from-behind and defeat Canning City 2-1 at John Connell Reserve. This result lifts the Knights five points clear of Perth at the top of the table, and leaves Canning City rooted to the bottom with only five games to play. Canning can feel hard done by to find themselves in this position as throughout the first half they played like they were the table toppers, moving the ball around confidently with Roberto Lujan pulling the strings in midfield. They deservedly took a 12th minute lead when Paul Van Dongen's long throw-in sailed over a static Knights defence and onto the head of an unmarked Simon Versacio, who picked his spot past goalkeeper Frazer Siddall.
Although the Knights were stung into action, Canning's defence stood firm. Campbell was closed down by a trio of defenders as he approached the 18-yard box with Trevisol clearing, and on 23 minutes the big striker's curling effort was put out for a corner by Rory Mouttet. Canning were very quick to counter attack and four minutes later should have stretched their lead when Garth Lecky beat two defenders and cut in from the left only to lifted his shot over the crossbar. On the half hour David Price's powerful drive was blocked by Mouttet, the rebound fell to Barry Devlin but he rushed his shot and again the ball sailed high. As the half drew to a close Canning again exerted pressure but Lujan scuffed wide and Hind headed straight at Siddall, who claimed the ball at the second attempt.
As expected, the Knights came out from the break searching for an equaliser, the visitors approach was taken up a notch and Lujan found himself under closer scrutiny in midfield. Chances continued to come and go, on the hour Campbell headed wide when unmarked at 3-metres, David Micevski had a long-range effort deflected wide, and his brother Daniel Micevski shot wide. Against the run of play Canning almost added a second when a corner from Paul Van Dongen had Siddall back-pedalling, the ball rebounding off the crossbar. Campbell then squandered another chance for the Knights when he headed straight at Canning 'keeper Kenny Ftynogiannis from a David Micevski free-kick.
An 80th minute foul by Jon Mathers on David Price would be the catalyst for the game to take a dramatic twist. 22-metres from goal and slightly to the left, David Micevski drove his shot around the wall and it arrowed into the bottom left hand corner of Ftynogiannis's net to bring the Knights level. The closing stages saw a spate of yellow cards issued along with one red to Canning substitute Diego Garcia after he lashed out at David Annall. The game was four minutes into stoppage time when David Micevski found space at the edge of the area and let fly with a venomous drive that Ftynogiannis could only parry, the rebound spun into the path of Campbell who volleyed back past the stranded Canning 'keeper. Seconds after the restart, referee Cheeseman blew the final whistle and the Knights had pick-pocketed all three points.
STIRLING TOPPLE PERTH IN A TITANIC TUSSLE
There were goals, controversy and drama aplenty when Stirling Lions overwhelmed Premier League heavyweights Perth SC 3-2 on a day of high drama at Macedonia Park. The sides appeared destined to end level when teenage sensation Jamie DeAbreu grabbed Stirling a late winner, elevating them off the bottom of the table. With Stirling battling to avoid relegation and Perth challenging for regular season honours, both sides needed maximum points for very different reasons. Tom Kennedy gave Stirling the best possible start by unleashing a cracking left-foot volley into the top corner from the edge of the 18-yard box after the visitors partially cleared a 12th minute Steven Hesketh corner. Kennedy almost repeated the feat with his right boot a few minutes later but goalkeeper Luke Martino pulled off a spectacular save.
The speedy combination of De Abreu and Ludo Boi caused the Perth defence many headaches as Stirling made the most of their possession by pushing forward relentlessly. Kennedy almost added to his tally again in the 28th minute when his curling effort was just wide with Martino stranded in the middle of his goal. Controversy erupted five minutes later when Perth were awarded a penalty for Hesketh's shirt pull on David Onoforo, who could have just as easily been penalised as the two tussled for possession. In any event, Onoforo stepped up to send goalkeeper Kevin Miller the wrong way and bring the teams level. As Stirling fumed over Steven Gregorys' decision, Onoforo nearly grabbed another but pulled a low drive just shy of the far post after being put through by strike partner Ian McMurray.
Stirling commenced the second half in similar fashion to the first, an early chance falling to the lively Jason Mirco who headed DeAbreu's cross over from close-range. DeAbreu's next involvement was to provide a terrific defence-splitting pass which was run on to by Anthony Fearon, and while the young striker’s shot was parried by Martino the rebound was straight into the path of Phil O'Callaghan who made no mistake netting with 70 minutes on the clock. But any thoughts Stirling entertained about that being the winner were erased in the 82nd minute when referee Gregory dubiously called handball against Dean Evans, and Greg Sharland coolly curled the free-kick around the defensive wall and past Miller, who got a hand to the ball but couldn't keep it out of his net.
Stirling coach Mick Lyons would watch the closing stages of the game from the grand stand after being sent from the bench by Gregory. Not wanting to let all his teams' hard work unravel, Dean Evans went on a mazy solo run that saw him leave three opponents in his wake before letting rip a shot bound for the top corner, only to be denied by a spectacular full-stretch diving save by Martino. The day's final drama came in the 87th minute when substitute Anthony Fearon delightfully flicked the ball on for DeAbreu, whose pace was too much for the defence and his shot too good for 'keeper Martino. The three-points gained push Stirling away from the drop zone, whereas the result leaves Perth with a mountain to climb in order to catch top of the table Western Knights.
INGLEWOOD UNDER PRESSURE AS FLOREAT STEAL A POINT (with Chris Leitch, Football West)
Inglewood United managed to hang on to a point after withstanding a second half fight-back by Floreat Athena at Litis Stadium. The visitors were no match for Floreat after the break but through a combination of great goalkeeping, poor finishing and pure luck they held out for a 2-2 draw. Not surprisingly, new Inglewood coach Shane Pryce had mixed feelings after his side gave up their lead but he praised his players for their versatility and fighting qualities. "We've only had one session together after changing to a different system and the way they took that upon themselves to take it up, I couldn't have asked any more from that first half," he said. "A few players have played in positions that they haven't all year and they've had to come to grips with that."
Inglewood's came out firing and with just a couple of minutes elapsed had the lead through Albert Osei-Tutu, who send Alex Dunn the wrong way from the penalty spot following a harsh handball decision against James Isaia. Matt Wardle curling a shot just high from 15-metres, then Dunn blocked Dannie Richman’s close-range effort with Simon Elton-Bott forcing the rebound out for a corner. The visitors were rewarded for a second time in the 11th minute when Mladen Kovacevic rose well to head in a precision corner from Jason Colli. Inglewood continued to exploit gaps in the home defence and should have posted a few more goals before the break. However, play was far from one-way with Branimir Mikulic stretching Oliver Taseski with a shot on the turn while late in the half Johnny Mirco flashed not too far wide.
Taseski was his team's saviour on several occasions as Floreat asserted itself in the second half. A quick free-kick outside the 18-yard box caught the Inglewood wall off guard when Mirco tapped the ball to Adam Bachiller, whose shot was pushed around the post by Taseski. The visiting 'keeper charged out to punch the resultant corner clear, and Mikulic flashed a shot wide as Floreat made clear their intention. Mirco pounced on a Mikulic back-heel only to be denied by Taseski, and later the livewire attacker forced another fine save with his low drive. Callum Roberts came on for Brad Scott in the 70th minute and immediately called into action Taseski, who was grateful when Mirco slipped as he tried to get to the rebound.
With Inglewood limited to defending, Floreat had only themselves to blame as a succession of crosses flashed across the face of goal untouched and close-range attempts failed to trouble the 'keeper. It took Floreat until the late stages to get on the board when Mikulic converted a penalty after Callum Roberts, having got around Taseski, was pulled down inside the box. Then, with less than two minutes to play, Mirco scored a much-deserved goal, winning the ball on the right side of the box and placing it past Taseski. Floreat did get the ball in the net for a third time but Roberts' effort was disallowed and a goal kick awarded, which was the final act in a fascinating contest.
Floreat coach Michael Roki admitted that a rocket or two were blasted in the direction of his players at the break, and it woke his charges from their lethargy. "The first half was pretty abysmal, we looked pretty fired up before the start of the game but a minute and a half into the game, a penalty and heads dropped," he said. "(At half time) I told the players the time was now to fix things up, not next week or the week after, that third spot is what we're after and we're letting it slip away. But it was a much better second half, Inglewood were very limited in what they could do in the second half and we had all the chances and we were probably unfortunate not to pick up another one."
SWAN SOAR INTO FOURTH
Damian Scali's goal early in the second half earned Swan United a hard fought 1-0 victory over Sorrento at Percy Doyle Reserve. The veteran striker's eleventh goal of the winter moved Swan up into fourth spot and another step closer to a much-sought after finals appearance. "We hadn't won here for a while and to get the double over Sorrento this season is a great achievement for us," said Scali, who converted at Shane Webb's 56th minute cross. "They threw everything at us in the last fifteen minutes and we had a little luck but we defended well and the boys are delighted to get the points and continue our good run in the league."
Storm clouds were hanging heavy when, with 3 minutes on the clock, Swan striker Million Butshiire placed wide from 9-metres. The hosts began to get more involved and were unlucky not to take the lead when Aaron Cole headed into the outside of the post after Danny Cain's deep cross resulted in a misunderstanding between goalkeeper Cory Hugo and the Swan captain. Playing with the benefit of the win, Sorrento asserted their dominance by winning a succession of corner, the third of which saw Steve McDonald's snap shot flash past the post after Swan failed to clear their lines. It was all one-way traffic and on 22 minutes Paul Cunningham chanced his luck from distance only to have Hugo push the shot over the crossbar.
Referee Michael Tolme dismissed vocal appeals for a Sorrento penalty after Stuart Montgomery's effort struck defender David McNally. Cunningham was on target with another long-range attempt just after the half hour, his shot beat Hugo before crashing against the bar. The home team suffered a setback moments later when Shaun Kilkelly limped from the field and Daryl Platten took his place in defence. After absorbing all the pressure, Swan briefly flickered to life with Trent Wood netting only for it to be ruled out for Cunningham's foul on John Mansaray in the lead-up. With half-time approaching Glen Thomas fired well wide after being found by McDonald, and in stoppage time James Morgan shot past the post from 7-metres.
With the wind favouring Swan in the second half, the visitors opened brightly with Mansaray's shot blocked by 'keeper Cyril Sharrock, who recovered well to claim the rebound. The decisive moment arrived when Webb was played down the left channel and delivered a superb cross that Scali swept into the net at close-range. Swan went close to sealing victory eight minutes later via Brandan Craig's free-kick that picked out Cole, who nodded narrowly wide with Sharrock well beaten. And soon after it was Craig that curled another free-kick just beyond the far post. Sorrento hit back on 72 minutes when James Morgan released Todd Harnwell down the left but his cross evaded all inside the 18-yard box.
The decision to push Danny Hill into attack almost paid dividends for the home side in the 80th minute when he provided a cross for McDonald, whose header was saved low by Hugo. Two minutes later a Thomas corner from the right found McDonald and this time his header was cleared off the line by Mansaray. Cole and McNally were outstanding at the heart of the back four as Swan coped well with the increased pressure. Another superb corner by Thomas handed on the head of Hill but he sent the ball just wide. The game was in stoppage time when McDonald finally found a way past Hugo but was left frustrated as Mansaray cleared off the line again to ensure a Swan win.
PEARSON PINCHES POINTS FOR ARMADALE (by Michael Bate, Football West)
Ryan Pearson scored late to lift Armadale to a 3-2 victory over Mandurah City at Hyundai Stadium. Mandurah looked to have salvaged a draw for new coach Stuart Young when substitute Jake Loreto hit an 84th minute equaliser, however, Pearson was on hand in stoppage time to claim all three points for the relegation threatened Reds. The win jumps Armadale into tenth place, ahead of Stirling Lions on goal difference on one point clear of Canning City who now occupy bottom spot on the Premier League table. Mandurah, on the other hand, drop down one place to fifth with their grip on a top five finals appearance slipping.
The game started with a bang - just 4 minutes had gone when Stephen Payne worked his way down the right, cut inside and lifted a sublime shot over Robbie Easton and into the top corner to put Mandurah one-nil up. Two minutes later Paul Harris could have equalised for the visitors when he met James Robinson's cross to the back post but his effort was deflected wide. Armadale gained a free-kick on the edge of the 18-yard box soon after which Gary Faria sent just wide. After the frantic opening ten minutes the action began to lull. Armadale dominated possession and played some good football but failed to create any clear scoring opportunities, whereas Christian Paschkewitz and Andy Brown had a couple of chances for the hosts but neither was able to capitalise.
That all changed six minutes after the restart when in-form striker James Robinson nipped in ahead of Jay Bonser to finish clinically past Phil Straker. Robinson then started a promising move by beating two opposition players on the halfway line before spraying the ball out wide on the right to Mo Atak, whose cross fell at the back post where Gary Bunting's powerful effort was athletically saved by Straker. The resulting corner was played short by Robinson and, after receiving the ball back, he dribbling along the touchline then pulled back for Paul Harris but, with an open goal at his mercy, the defender's first touch was too strong and Mark Walsh was able to clear.
At the other end of the field, Easton pulled off a fantastic save in the 63rd minute to keep the scores level, the Armadale 'keeper rushing off his line to block an attempted chip by Paschkewitz. Robinson seemed to be involved every time Armadale entered their attacking third and in the 66th minute the striker went down under an innocuous challenge inside the box, leading referee Ross Sardi to point to the spot. Jeff Bright stepped up to sent Straker the wrong way before celebrating in front of the travelling Armadale support, obviously relishing scoring against his former club. Robinson nearly grabbed a second for himself by getting on the end of a Bunting cross with a diving header which flew inches wide.
It looked as though the tide was turning against Armadale when Andy Bowyer was given his marching orders for an off the ball incident which was spotted by the linesman in the 81st minute. Rafael Insaurralde wasted the resulting free-kick, but two minutes later the home side were back on level terms when Jake Loreto managed to deflect fellow substitute Farrell Hedge's volley past Easton. It was fitting that a piece of Robinson brilliance would help settle the game, the striker charging past three opponents before sliding the ball to substitute Warren Grieves, his cross was deflected across the face of goal where Pearson was on hand to tap into an empty net.
PATIENCE PAYS OFF FOR JOONDALUP (by Tim Lefort, Football West)
ECU Joondalup continued their climb up the Premier League table with a well-deserved 2-0 victory over Cockburn City at Dalmatinac Park. Second half goals from Tommy Amphlett and substitute Jamie Watt saw the northerners pick up just their second away win of the campaign, a result that sees them move level on points with fifth-placed Mandurah as the battle for a place in top five finals series heats up. "I went in at half-time and told them the biggest thing is not to get frustrated," said coach Syd Amphlett, who praised his team for sticking to their game plan despite going into the break with nothing to show for their dominance. "We scored five last time and I think we have to hold them back a bit now, if they don't score five goals in the first half they're a bit frustrated. I thought it was a very professional performance - the boys kept their shape, their work rate and the confidence levels are high - I think you can see that. I'm delighted, I thought it was a game we totally dominated to be honest."
In a scrappy opening, it was the visitors who had the first genuine attempt at goal after 13 minutes but Garin Collins failed to make proper contact with a volley from the edge of the 18-yard box. Amphlett himself found a yard of space on the edge of the box soon after and his low drive wasn't too far wide of the near post. Nick Feely then brilliantly denied Amphlett twice in quick succession, and on 23 minutes Collins' long-range effort was comfortably saved low down by the 'keeper. At the other end, Renato Jelen made good connection with a close-range volley but saw it cannon back off a defender, and the same player watched in frustration as Andy Petterson made a stunning save to tip his header over the bar. With half-time approaching, Jon Higgins pounced on hesitation in the Cockerals defence and rolled the ball across for Collins, who looked certain to score when Feely moved to keep out his low shot. And it was Feely who ensured the sides went into the break on level terms when he again denied Amphlett with a smart save.
Cockburn were spritely after the restart and Cameron Edwards wasn't too far over from the edge of the box after a good move involving Jonathan Devite and Jelen. But it was the side from the northern suburbs that made the breakthrough after 57 minutes when Higgins played in Amphlett, and although Feely did well to block the initial effort he was helpless to prevent Joondalup's leading scorer sliding the ball into an empty net. Michael Mirco forced Petterson into a fine save from 18-metres midway through the period, and from the resulting corner Paul Natale flashed a cross-shot narrowly wide of the far post. Feely who made a terrific save at the foot of the upright to thwart Watt as Joondalup sought a second. It arrived with four minutes remaining, Watt playing a lovely exchange with Amphlett before tapping in at close-range. To their credit, Cockburn refused to give up and Mirco twice tried his luck from distance but neither tested Petterson.
ROSENDALE STARS AS BALCATTA MARCH TOWARDS PROMOTION
Balcatta remain on course to win promotion following a hard-earned 5-3 defeat of Gosnells City at Walter Padbury Reserve. The win keeps Balcatta in top spot and three points clear of second-placed Wanneroo City with only five games to play. The day could not have started worse for Gosnells goalkeeper Alan Dunlop, who succumbed to injury and was replaced by debutant Maikol Taseski. Gosnells went on to enjoy some early dominance and on the quarter hour young Daiten Twyman lashed into the net from 14-metres following a scramble inside the penalty area. And two minutes later Gosnells strengthened their hold on the game when Stuart Aitken headed a thrown-in past goalkeeper Chris Ramsay.
The game was turned on its head by a blistering eight-minute burst that had Ashley Rosendale sensationally complete his hat-trick. It began in the 28th minute when Andy O'Neill made his way down the left, seeing off challenges of two opponents before crossing for Rosendale to volley past Taseski. Rosendale next ran onto a neat through ball played by Brian MacDonald which he lofted over the advancing 'keeper to bring the teams level. And with 36 minutes on the clock Rosendale dribbled past a couple of defenders then rounded Taseski to slide the ball into an empty net.
Gosnells pushed hard to draw level after the break only for all their hard work to be undone in the 68th minute when Rosendale tucked into the net from the penalty spot after MacDonald was upended as he lined up the target. Balcatta made the game safe soon after when Joe Woodin, who'd come off the bench just minutes earlier, played a tidy one-two with Rosendale before hitting his teams fith. But there was still plenty of fight left in Gosnells and with fifteen minutes remaining Adam Bremner played through Daley Rothwell, who capitalised on a square and stagnant by firing past Ramsay to complete the scoring.
PHOENIX STEAMROLL ROCKINGHAM
South West Phoenix took ownership of another three points by thumping Rockingham City 4-0 in Bunbury. Jonathon Krawec and Steve Suttie featured prominently on the left flank as the home side hit the ground running. Their opening goal arrived in the 12th minute when Suttie played in a cross that narrowly evaded Kieran Kavanagh and led to a goalmouth scramble in which David Rodgers fired into the net. It became two-nil only four minutes later, Rory Binnie converting at the far post after Rodgers skewed a shot across the face of goal following a neat build-up involving Krawec and Suttie. The remainder of the half continued in much the same fashion with Patrick Quinn and David Murphy asserting influence in the centre of the park.
Rockingham’s rough-house tactics saw Phoenix stalwart James Bergin leave the field injured early in the second half became the first victim when he had to go off injured following a pretty ordinary tackle. The closest the visitors came to scoring all afternoon was on the hour when a deflected cross rolled across the top of the 6-yard box, just out of reach of Andrew Keary and Adam McLeod, before being claimed by Ryan Montgomery. The goalkeeper was quick to release Quinn, who carried the ball to the opposite end of the park where he laid it off for Mayers to send into the net. After this the game pretty much fizzled out, Phoenix controlling the tempo without creating a great deal in terms of scoring opportunities. Quinn added his name to the scoresheet three minutes from full-time with a powerful shot from the edge of the 18-yard box.
THE PREMIER LEAGUE IN PREVIEW
Canning City v Western Knights (Referee: Mat Cheeseman)
The Premier League kicks back into life this week with the match of the round between Canning City and Western Knights at John Connell Reserve, home of amateur side Leeming Strikers (3.00pm). Canning are eager to end a three-game losing streak by claiming victory over the league leaders. "We've had a number of disappointments recently losing three games in a row very late in the game, but with a bit of luck we can turn things around this week," said coach Frank Longstaff. "The Knights are a very good side and have two very experienced and wily coaches in Paul Price and Tony Castiello, but what better time for us to turn around our season playing the league leaders at home."
Knights midfielder Daniel Micevski has recovered from the ankle injury which forced him to miss much of his teams surprise Cup loss to Inglewood United last week. "It was very disappointing as we really wanted to repeat our success of last season and continue our amazing Cup form this season. To concede goals as easily as we did was a shock, but that's football," Micevski said. "Both us and Canning are looking for a result and we know it will definitely be a tough match as they will be desperate for a win. We're looking forward to the game and if we continue our solid current league form I think we can get the win."
Floreat Athena v Inglewood United (Referee: Joe Fusari)
Litis Stadium hosts a dress rehearsal of the Soccer Pools Cup Final between inner-city rivals Floreat Athena and Inglewood United (3.00pm). It's an important game for Floreat who, although third, have lost their last two league encounters. "The Cup win was a great diversion for us and certainly has lifted the confidence after a couple of poor league showings," said coach Michael Roki. "Inglewood has proven last week that they can match it with the best, and after scraping a last minute win against them in Round Six we would be foolish not to respect them as a very capable unit. I think they will be a difficult challenge, particularly if new player-coach Shane Pryce is fit to manage things at the back for them."
Inglewood have not won at Floreat in four years but head into the weekend full of confidence on the back of their Cup victory over the Knights. "Every league game from now on is a big game for us as we try and stay away from the relegation zone and try an push on into the top five," said young midfielder Dannie Richman. "We were missing quite a few players on the weekend, the guys that came in did a really good job. But there'll be competition for every spot on Saturday, everyone has got to put it in at training and let's hope we produce the goods against Floreat."
Stirling Lions v Perth SC (Referee: Steven Gregory)
Stirling Lions are going to have to find something extra to overcome Perth SC when they journey to Macedonia Park (3.00pm). The home team have given themselves hope of escaping relegation with back-to-back leagues wins in which the central defensive partnership of Steve Hesketh and Michael Pugliese has been vital. Dean Evans returns after missing the Cup loss through illness, however, midfielder Marc Anthony will be absent due to suspension. Perth coach Graham Normanton may be tempted to hand former national league goalkeeper Danny Milosevic a Perth debut, but goes into the game minus the services of Phil Arnold and Domenic De Felice.
Sorrento v Swan United (Referee: Michael Tolmie)
There's another important game in the far north where Sorrento has home ground advantage against Swan United (3.00pm). The sides enter the round locked together on 21 points and fully aware that victory tomorrow will strengthen their claim to a place among the top five. Swan hasn't won at Sorrento since 2004, a record they are intent on ending. "It will be a tough and physical game against a team which has won three out of its past four matches," said Swan coach Paul Lincoln. "We have gained momentum over the past two weeks so we're confident we can make it difficult for them."
Cockburn City v ECU Joondalup (Referee: Ton Klaver)
Cockburn City goes in search of just their third home win of their season when ECU Joondalup swings in at Dalmatinac Park (3.00pm). The return of goalkeeper Nick Feely and midfielder Cameron Edwards from international duty could not have come at a better time for Cockburn coach Scott Miller, who has Michael Grigo out with a knee injury. "Joondalup are flying at the moment, they really answered all the critics that wrote them off," said the one-time Socceroo. "They have quality all over the park, so it's a massive challenge for our lads." A large slice of Joondalup's resurgence is attributable to Dale McCulloch, Jon Higgins and Jake Benson-Cooper, who'll each have a big say in how this game pans out.
Mandurah City v Armadale (Referee: Ross Sardi)
The only thing Armadale want from their trip to Hyundai Stadium is to head home having out-scored Mandurah City (3.00pm). The Reds have improved markedly over the past month and if the likes of Marlon Ramirez, Mo Atak and James Robinson can influence proceedings then the visitors are in with a very good chance. Stuart Young will be in charge of Mandurah for the first time following last week's mass resignation of the club's entire senior coaching team. Andy Brown, Phil Straker and Ryan Townsend are key players for the Dolphins, however, there are some big questions as to whether they can put the weeks drama's behind them.
THE FIRST DIVISION IN PREVIEW
First Division leaders Balcatta have a difficult away game at Gosnells City, who has put themselves in contention for a top five placing with a strong run of results. "Balcatta are the best side we've faced this season, their front two are very mobile and would cause problems for any defence in this league," said Gosnells coach Tony Maguire. "However, we have improved as a team since our last meeting and with home advantage we are quietly confident of causing an upset and opening up the title race for the chasing teams. Our aim is to finish in the top five and with the league being so tight I am very confident we can achieve that."
Wanneroo City are well and truly over the mid-season stumble that saw them concede top spot to Balcatta, and this weekend welcome Morley Windmills at the north. "We're in pursuit of Balcatta and are also aware South West Phoenix are hot on our heels, so every point is precious," said Gerry McEwan, coach of Wanneroo. "As far as a mid-season blip goes, luck evens itself out over the season and I can only hope our luck will change as we've had more than our fair share of setbacks. We did lose 6-3 to Balcatta in the first game of the season and fifteen games later we're still three points behind them, so I've been more than happy with the efforts of my young squad."
South West Phoenix proudly boasts one of the most creative midfields in the second tier and shouldn't have too many problems accounting for visiting Rockingham City. Bayswater City are shooting for a fourth straight win when they take on second-from-bottom Ashfield in the derby at Frank Drago Reserve. Top four prospects Forrestfield United are tipped to take the points at home to a Dianella White Eagles side coming off successive spankings from Balcatta and Gosnells. And it should be three easy points for Fremantle Spirit when they venture to Queens Park, who has to delve back almost twelve months for the last time they sampled victory.
PATIENCE PAYS OFF FOR HOWARTH
A-League newcomer Todd Howarth gave up his day job for one last chance to turn potential into professionalism. And after years of impressing in the Premier League with Perth SC, the 27-year old former bank clerk has made a successful leap into Australia's elite competition with Perth Glory. By his own admission, Howarth, who gave up his job and signed up after impressing during a pre-season trial, has been one of the beneficiaries of Glory's injury woes. He made an inauspicious start to his A-League career in a disappointing 1-0 away loss to Adelaide United, but delivered a much brighter performance in last Sunday's disappointing 2-1 result at Wellington Phoenix.
Coach David Mitchell has been impressed and expects Howarth to be involved again when Glory aim to kick-start their season against Newcastle Jets on Sunday. "Todd will either start or be on the bench," Mitchell told Jonathon Cook of the 'West Australian' newspaper. "There are some question marks over a couple of players and we'll have to wait and see but he will be involved. It was disappointing for him against Adelaide because he was thrown into a bit of a hurly-burly game and it was difficult. But the guy's got some character about him and against Wellington he came on and did very well for us."
With Victor Sikora battling to overcome the bruised thigh, Howarth is ready to make the most of his opportunity should he be given the nod by Mitchell. "I've always wanted to play in front of the Shed boys, so hopefully I get on the pitch and have a run around," said Howarth, who felt he was getting to grips with the pace of the A-League. "Obviously the results have been disappointing, but I feel I'm slowly getting the hang of it. In training you can try to up the intensity to get used to the pace of it, but the first week against Adelaide I think I struggled." Glory takes on the Jets on Sunday from 3.00pm at ME Bank Stadium, formerly Members Equity Stadium.
PRETORIOUS STEPS UP FOR THE COCKERELS
Teenager Ryan Pretorious appears destined for a successful career. In the space of twelve short months Pretorious has gone from playing reserve team football to representing Australia at Schoolboys level and a regular place in Cockburn City’s first eleven. It goes without saying that the 18-year old is enjoying his football at the moment, but he’s not about to get carried away by his successes. “The season has been great for me, and most important the team,” he said. “We have been playing well and showing encouraging form, and if we continue we could finish in the top five this season, which would be a great achievement.”
Pretorious, a natural midfielder, highlighted what he has to offer football earlier this month by occupying defensive, midfield and attacking roles for the State Schoolboys at the national championships in Rockingham. The teenager attributes this versatility to his recent move into defence at club level where he’s formed a solid partnership with Paul Natale. “Paul has great experience as a State League player and shows leadership within the team and encourages me to play well in heart of the back four every week … I’m learning a great deal about playing back there,” Pretorious explained.
Cockburn coach Scott Miller has been delighted with the way Pretorious has handled himself this season. A mid-season shortage of available defenders led Miller to switch Pretorious into the backline, where he has come on in leaps and bounds. “Ryan got thrown into the deep end as we had no natural stoppers available that were fit at the time, and he rose to the challenge he has been brilliant for us and is combining well with Paul Natale,” said the Perth Glory legend. “He has a real great attitude on and off the field and always listens and is really eager to learn and improve.”
Pretorius had benefited from many coaching during his years with Cockburn and Fremantle City as well as in the football scholarship program at John Curtin Senior High School. “I learnt a great deal at John Curtin and the five years I spent with head coach Peter Rickers was a big influence on my football and is something I really appreciate,” he said. “The return of Scott Miller to Cockburn has also been great for me and the club. He demands respect from all players and encourages all young players to show what they are capable of, which is fantastic.”
Selection in the Australian Schoolboys squad that played in the United Kingdom and Ireland earlier this year has driven Pretorious to pursue a professional career. “The tour was great, and a real good experience to play against some great footballers in the UK,” he said. “The highlights were playing against the England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland Schoolboys teams, some of those players are playing professional football, which was a good indicator to where the Australian players were at. It’s my ambitions to play professional football at the highest level, and to see at first hand the players in my age group has given me an insight to what I have to do to get there.”
NEVILLE READIES FOR TAKE-OFF
One of the highlights for Perth Glory's opening two games of the new season has been the form of rookie defender Scott Neville. Promoted to senior ranks on the back of a terrific 2008/09 season with the Youth team, 20-year old Neville is looking forward to helping Glory open their season account when Newcastle Jets visit ME Bank Stadium on Sunday afternoon. "We're all looking forward to the game on Sunday, we would love to get three points on the board," he said. "It was really disappointing for the team not to pick up anything in the game against Wellington Phoenix but after two away trips everyone is looking forward to getting back to Perth and showing the fans what we are capable of."
A right-back by trade, Neville looked comfortable in the middle of defence alongside Andy Todd against Phoenix after Socceroo Chris Coyne came down ill midway through the first half. He is relishing the opportunity to play and train with the veteran duo, who share just under 700 games accumulated experience at the highest levels in England. "It has been a great experience for me playing alongside two of the best defenders in the league," Neville commented, whose father, Steve, also enjoyed a lengthy playing career in England. "I'm just trying to soak up as much information as possible and trying to develop my game by training with them and playing next to them."
It was reported during the week on Fox Sports that Scottish giants Glasgow Rangers have shown a keen interest in Neville, whose career started with Sorrento. "I have heard about that rumour and have been getting a bit of stick from some of the boys at training," said Neville, who isn't letting the offer of trials distract him from the task at hand. "Obviously, I would love to play over in Europe but at the moment I'm just trying to concentrate on playing well for Perth Glory. Hopefully, we'll have a successful season, I think we have a great squad which can really mix it with the big teams in the competition."
Todd Howarth is another player from the local scene who has stepped into the national spotlight. The former Perth SC midfielder has long been recognised as having national league potential and against Phoenix he put in a solid performance down the left flank after coming off the bench in the first half. "I know Toddy pretty well and he is a great lad and has tonnes of ability as he showed in the game against Wellington, he was not only creating chances from the left but his work rate was terrific as well," said Neville, who couldn't help but get a dig in at his newest team mate. "Hopefully Todd can continue his good form, and continue his run of nutmegs!"
MONTGOMERY ENSURES THE GULLS ARE SOARING
Reigning champions Sorrento have been rejuvenated by back-to-back wins that have taken them into the Premier League’s top five for the first time this season. And now there, the Gulls are focused solely on remaining in one of the play-offs spots. “We have the confidence back that we had previously been lacking this year, and all our players who were injured are finally getting fit so we’re back to having a strong squad,” said the Gulls star striker Stuart Montgomery. “But the most important thing is we never-say-die as a team, we’ll always battle to the end and in the last few games that’s seen us come from behind to win.”
Scoring goals is what Montgomery does best and in the past fortnight he’s earned the Gulls victory against Cockburn City and Caning City. But while his recent contributions have been outstanding, the one-time State player is far from happy the way his season has panned out. “The last few weeks have been good for me personally as I’ve scored the goals that put us back in the top five,” he said. “But overall I haven’t been pleased with my season, I missed eight weeks through injury and I’m only now getting my fitness and sharpness back … but I am getting fitter with each game and plan to have more of a say in the closing part of the season.”
Things are really hotting up as the League season draws to a close with Sorrento one of nine teams who could make the play-offs, or just as easily find themselves relegated. “A close League can only be good for the local game,” commented Montgomery. “With so many teams so close to each other and able to win it instead of one team just running away from the rest and players and clubs losing interest when there’s nothing to play for. This way it is going to go to the wire and, who knows, the media might take an interest and we might get a few more people games who’ll spread the word too.”
Montgomery admits to being surprised by how little there has been that’s separated the twelve Premier League teams this season. “There really isn’t a bad team in the league – on any day any team can beat anyone,” he said. “There are quality players who can win games for you in all the teams. In the last few years there have always been a team that was either really inexperienced or just didn’t have the players to compete in the Premier League and those teams got found out, but this year all the teams have experience and quality players throughout.”
According to Montgomery, the only thing that will separate the top five contenders from those who’ll be involved in a relegation dogfight is consistency. “If you put a few wins on the bounce together you will slowly make your way up the league and pull away from the others,” he said. “I’m not sure who will be involved in the relegation scrape but injuries and suspensions will definitely come into play. Stirling Lions have signed quality players and should be okay as have Armadale. I feel Canning are in the biggest danger as they seem to be very light for depth.”
Sorrento’s next assignment has them at home to Swan United, who have a couple of very talented players amongst their number. “Not many strikers get the better of Aaron Cole. He reads the play so well and at the other end can hurt you from corners as he can score the odd goal,” said Montgomery. “Damien Scali is another player who we’ll have to watch for, he’s such a smart footballer. What he lacks in pace he makes up for by how he thinks his way through a game and with the runs he makes, he puts himself in the right position to score goals. Our defenders will have to be on their toes with him around.”
Swan head to Percy Doyle Reserve on the back of successive wins against Armadale and Mandurah City, results which have moved them level on points with Sorrento. “Saturday’s game is going to be a real battle as both teams need to win to stay in contention,” Montgomery readily concedes. “Swan are a hard team to beat, they are very well organised and stick to their game plan. They are hard to break down and then like to catch you on the break. I think it might be a cagey affair, one goal could be enough to win it – and hopefully it’ll be us that get that goal.”
FINALS FOOTBALL LOOMS FOR GLORY
An active recruitment drive by Perth Glory will be rewarded with a maiden appearance in the A-League finals. At least, that is the opinion of the West Australian football community in response to the latest footballwa.net poll which asked 'How will Perth Glory fare in A-League season 2009/10?' By far the most popular placing is 'Fifth or sixth, and a maiden A-League final appearance' (38%), which garnered over twice the number of votes for a 'Third or fourth' (17%) finish to the season. The nay-sayers chimed in with 'Eighth or ninth, and more of the same' (15%), 'Wooden spoon' (14%) and 'Seventh, but just missing out on the play-offs' (11%). The likelihood of Glory finishing in the top two is remote with 'Runners-up' (4%) and 'Regular season champions!' (2%) seemingly well out of the running. 174 responses were received during the 16-day voting period.
O’CALLAGHAN COMES TO STIRLING’S RESCUE
Stirling Lions may just have pulled a rabbit out of the hat with the recruitment of last seasons’ Golden Boot winner, Phil O’Callaghan. Only a few weeks back the club from the inner north was staring relegation in the face, rock solid last on the Premier League table and six points adrift of their nearest rival. However, all that has changed since the arrival of O’Callaghan, fellow striker Anthony Fearon and midfielder Matt Allen, whose influence has been vital as Stirling closed the gap with back-to-back wins against ECU Joondalup and Inglewood United.
It was no secret O’Callaghan, 22, was looking at his options after a year and a half with Mandurah City, so when Stirling came knocking he jumped at the opportunity. “The Lions were the first team to show an interest in me, and when I found out about it I agreed to sign immediately,” commented O’Callaghan, who marked his debut for the club by scoring the winning goal against Joondalup. “It’s always good to score on your debut but most importantly helping the team get the three points and closer to safety. It’s all about staying in the Premier League and I hope to help the club achieve that come seasons end.”
O’Callaghan was one of the star performers last season at Mandurah, where his knack for netting reguarly were rewarded with the Golden Boot award and State team selection. “Winning the Golden Boot last season was big highlight for me, but that was topped by helping Mandurah finish fifth in their first year in the league, which was a great achievement,” he commented. “Leaving Mandurah was something I thought long and hard about. But at the end of the day the travel was getting to me and with work commitments, it was hard getting to training.”
One of the motivating factors behind O’Callaghan’s move to Macedonia Park is former Everton player Michael Lyons, who coached the striker a few years back at Joondalup. “It’s been an easy transition as I knew most of the boys at the club which has helped, add to that Michael is a great coach, he coached me before at Joondalup so to work with him again is exciting,” he said. “I’ve settled in great here and everyone at the club has made me feel welcome.” O’Callaghan will be looking to add a few more goals to his Stirling tally when they host Perth SC on Saturday afternoon.
HIGH PRAISE FOR GLORY’S NEVILLE
Socceroo defender Chris Coyne heaped praise on Perth Glory tem mate Scott Neville in the wake of the youngster's impressive performance against Wellington Phoenix. Neville, 20, usually plays at right-back but was switched into the centre of defence alongside English veteran Andy Todd when Coyne came down ill during the weekend game in New Zealand. "Scotty's got a hell of a future. I know his name's been touted about this week in the press but he's got a hell of a future," Coyne said. "And if he keeps his head down, works hard and listens he'll be a fantastic talent, because he's a good player and a nice fellow as well." It has been a stellar rise to the national stage by Neville, who just twelve months ago was playing State League football for Sorrento. Having starred at Youth team level, Neville made his senior Glory debut in December and has since attracted the attention of rival clubs with some sparkling performances.
SAGE LAMBASTS FFA
Outspoken Perth Glory owner Tony Sage has fired another broadside at Football Federation Australia, claiming the association had contributed to his club’s poor start to the new season. Glory’s campaign opened with back-to-back away trips to Adelaide United and Wellington Phoenix, both who claimed maximum points to leave the West Australian club at the foot of the table after two rounds. “We were the only team in the league who played two away games and we are on zero points, so FFA got what they wanted,” said Sage, whose club voiced their concerns when the fixtures were unveiled. “I can’t believe the premiers (Melbourne Victory) got two home games at the start of the season. We’ve had concerns since the fixtures came out and the FFA did nothing.”
PRICE IS RIGHT FOR INGLEWOOD
There were mixed emotions in the Inglewood United camp on Saturday afternoon. As the players celebrated their Cup semi-final win over Western Knights, coach Alan Vest announced he was stepping down to hand over the reigns to club captain Shane Pryce. "Vesty resigning after the game was a bit of a shock to everyone but he did a good job and came in and gave us some stability when things weren't looking the best," said Inglewood midfielder Dannie Richman. "But everyone at the club was rapt with the result, I don't think many people gave us any chance. Hopefully, we can now string together some good results to push towards the top five."
The naming of Pryce, a former national league defender with Perth Glory and Newcastle Breakers, as senior coach at Inglewood is a positive move according to Richman. "Prycey is a great bloke and an even better leader. He's played under some top coaches so I have no doubt that he will do a great job and will be able to call on all those experiences to help us push up the league," said the 18-year old. "Every coach has their own ideas so, of course, it's going to be a little different but I doubt there will be too many changes so close to the end of the season."
Richman was nursing a serious knee injury when he moved to Inglewood from Stirling Lions at the start of the year. And while he has been pleased with what he's contributed in his first season with Inglewood, the midfielder says there's a lot more he can offer his new club. "I have slowly been getting better as the season has progressed. I feel like I'm starting to get close to where I was before I got injured and I'm enjoying playing football again," he said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to keep progressing as the season winds down and continue in the off-season, so I'm champing at the bit for next season."
RUKAVYTSYA IMPRESSES ON AUSTRALIA DEBUT
Former Perth Glory striker Nikita Rukavytsya has a big future on the international stage according to Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek. Rukavytsya, who joined Dutch club FC Twente in January, made his senior Australia debut by coming on at half-time for Scott MacDonald in Wednesday’s 3-0 win over the Republic of Ireland. There were plenty of promising signs from the striker during his second half run, although Verbeek concedes the youngster had been perhaps a little too anxious to impress. “He has very special qualities – very fast. I think a little bit too sharp (against Ireland),” the coach said. “There of four time offside is too much in a game but he’s a handful for every defender. And we should not forget the boy is just 22 years old.” A strong season with Twente will keep Rukavytsya in contention for a spot in the Australian squad for next year’s World Cup in South Africa.
MITCHELL TAKES POSITIVES FROM EARLY LOSSES
Successive losses away at Adelaide United and Wellington Phoenix have left Perth Glory well short of its target of four points from the first two rounds of the new A-League season. However, coach David Mitchell believes his team will be up to the challenge against fourth-placed Newcastle Jets when it returns to the home comforts of ME Bank Stadium on Sunday afternoon. "We said we'd get better and better and I think the improvement from round one to round two has been drastic," Mitchell said. "We'll certainly be looking to continue that positive trend against the Jets and we're looking forward to playing at home and putting in a strong showing in front of our supporters."
Glory officials are confident that Victor Sikora and Chris Coyne, both replaced during the first half in Wellington, will be fit to take on Newcastle. Sikora, who put Glory in front with a classy early finish against Phoenix, suffered a corked leg, while star defender Coyne succumbed to illness. "We're confident that both of the boys will be ok for next week's match," said Mitchell. "Chris should have time to recover and it already on the mend while Victor will have some precautionary scans when we get into Perth but it takes a lot to stop him from playing ... it'll be a bit of wait and see with him." The Glory-Newcastle game is scheduled to kick off at 3.00pm at ME Bank Stadium, formerly Members Equity Stadium, on Sunday.
MAYORA EXCITED BY GLORY DEAL
Perth Glory has recruited Sydney Olympic striker Matthew Mayora on a short-term contract. Mayora impressed sufficiently in trials last week to be offered a six-week injury replacement contract for midfielder James Downey, currently sidelined with a knee problem. "I am very excited to have this opportunity to play in the A-League and would like to thank Perth Glory for giving me the opportunity," said Mayora. "I would also like to thank Sydney Olympic for supporting and believing in me and helping get to the next level." Mayora, winner of the 2009 New South Wales Premier League Golden Boot award, made his A-League debut by coming off the bench late in the weekend loss to Wellington Phoenix.
COACHES WALK OUT EN MASSE AT MANDURAH
Mandurah City have been dealt a savage blow in the run-in to the end of the Premier League season with the sudden resignation of their senior coaching line-up. Relations have been strained between the Mandurah committee and their coaching team since the club decided to cut player wages early last month. Simmering tensions came to a head on Thursday evening when first team boss Stuart Currie realised his position had become untenable and promptly resigned. And in a show of support, assistant coaches Ron Harrison, Billy Russell, Del Clayton and Tony Dyson followed suit by also tendering their resignations.
The decision to leave Mandurah was a very difficult one for Currie to make. “I’ve had a fantastic time at Mandurah; there are some fantastic people at the club that I will miss. It’s a shame it’s all turned sore but I wish them good luck,” commented Currie. “I resigned my position due to a disagreement with the committee and things that were said. I was very disappointed the way things turned out, and I think the club have done the wrong thing by the players, and I went in and stuck up for the boys and this wasn’t resolved and I had no other option but to resign.”
Peter Koulizos, Director of Football Operations at Mandurah, concedes disappointment that the outcome of talks between Currie and the club didn’t go as he had hoped. “Once we found out that Stuart wasn’t going to coach next season we looked for a succession plan and after consultations with the president, Russell Plowman, and Stuart, a remedy couldn’t be found, so it was decided that we would go in another direction,” Koulizos told the ‘Let’s Talk Football’ radio show. “We need to secure players for 2010, and some players may look to leave at the end of the season, so we need some stability at the top.”
Currie joined Mandurah for the winter of 2007 and by the end of that season he’d guided the club into the top flight for the very first time. “It’s a big blow to the club as Stuart has done a great job for the Mandurah City. He’s been very professional in my time here and he has left the club with a legacy,” added Koulizos. “The decision was nothing to do with Stuart’s coaching abilities; it was a disagreement, and one that couldn’t be re-solved. Personally I’d like to thank Stuart for his work at the club and to find a replacement will be difficult, but one we hope to achieve sooner rather than latter.” Mandurah have appointed former player Sean Kearns as interim coach until a permanent replacement is appointed.
GLORY GO DOWN IN WELLINGTON
A spirited Perth Glory performance has gone unrewarded with Wellington Phoenix gaining a 2-1 victory on a wet and windy evening at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand. Glory dominated second half proceedings and hit the crossbar twice before Leo Bertos’ stunning 35-metres free-kick deflected into the net off a defender to settle the game. The result left Glory deflated, with coach David Mitchell saying his side had deserved to come away with something for their efforts on the night. “I thought we played very well and were probably unfortunate to come away with a loss after the way we played,” he said. “We started off well and scored a good goal and were playing some good football. Particularly in the second half I thought we played some good stuff and created many chances and probably should have stuffed a couple of way.”
Glory were given a dream start when, with 4 minutes on the clock, Michael Ferrante was caught in possession by Victor Sikora who remained composed as he fired low past on-coming goalkeeper Mark Paston. But Phoenix almost had an immediate response, Bertos’ cross from the right finding English import Paul Ifill, whose volley was superbly saved by Tando Velaphi. With rain tumbling down, Glory went close again on 16 minutes with an Adriano Pellegrino free-kick that flashed just wide of the far post. Chris Greenacre headed wide from a Bertos corner as the host club began to get on top.
Phoenix’s pressure paid off in the 23rd minute, Bertos again providing a cross from right which an unmarked Ifill headed into the net at 5-metres. It then got worse for Glory, with veteran defender Chris Coyne and goalscorer Sikora both forced from the field through injury. Phoenix continued to turn the screw and on 34 minutes Ifill went close to adding a second with a long-range effort that was well saved by Velaphi. As the half came to a close both teams had their chances. Another dangerous corner from Bertos found Andrew Durante, but he headed straight at the ‘keeper. And at the other end Pellegrino’s corner was headed goalward by substitute Todd Howarth only for Manny Muscat to clear off the line.
It was a much more confident Glory side that emerged from the break and began to dictate terms. Five minutes in Branko Jelic and Andrija Jukic combined with the latter blazing disappointing high from 5-metres. Soon after Jukic put the ball out wide on the left with Howarth, who delivered a pinpoint cross which Mile Sterjovski headed against the bar with Paston beaten. On the hour Howarth skipped past Muscat down the left to find an unmarked Jukic who headed high at close-range. Phoenix won a 64th minute corner that saw Diego’s point-blank header blocked on the line by Pellegrino.
Glory was enjoying their period of the game for the visitors and on 67 minutes Howarth again supplied Sterjovski, whose goal bound effort was deflected wide. Howarth swung in the resulting corner which Scott Neville headed against cross bar. Warning bells should have been going off I the glory camp when substitute Daniel headed at Velaphi in the 82nd minute. The winning goal arrived three minutes later, Bertos’ rasping free-kick from distance taking a hefty deflection off Jacob Burns to wrong-foot Velaphi and find the back of the net. New Glory signing Matthew Mayora came off the bench to unleash a curling shot from 22-metres which was just wide as Paston scrambled across goal to cover.
MAGDIC SENDS FLOREAT THROUGH
A solitary Josip Magdic goal has put Floreat Athena into the Soccer Pools Cup Final after defeating Stirling Lions 1-0 on a chilly, blustery afternoon at Frank Drago Reserve. “All of us at Floreat are obviously delighted and we now hope to consolidate third spot in the league and play well in the Finals series,” said coach Michael Roki. “Reaching the Cup Final has eluded Floreat for some time so there was also a fair amount of pressure on the players to break the hoodoo and qualify for another important component of the season. We probably should have closed out the game within 45 minutes but all credit to Stirling for pushing the game to the wire.”
First goalkeeper called into action was Kevin Miller, who put his body on the line to smother at the feet of Adam Bachiller after he’d latched on to a great through ball. Ludovic Boi’s predatory instincts were on show early, the exciting midfielder flashing just wide after pouncing on a mistake in the opposing defence. It took Floreat only 11 minutes to open their account as Branimir Mikulic’s low cross was retrieved by Brad Scott who, from the left, centre for an unmarked Magdic to side-foot into the net from only a few metres. Floreat should have strengthened their hold on their game but Scott fired high and wide after reacting quickest to Miller’s parry from a shot by Bachiller.
Stirling may have been sitting deep but were by no means out of the hunt. Boi danced his way out of midfield but after being refused entry into the 18-yard box by John Migas he dragged a low shot across the face of goal. A push into the final third by new Floreat recruit Marko Aleksic saw him unleash a vicious drive from distance that unfortunately whizzed past the post. Aleksic was in the thick of the action again soon after when he was robbed of possession by Boi, who then made his way inside the area only to have goalkeeper Alex Dunn prevent his shot from going in. Magdic and Scott combined again close to the break to provide an opportunity for Jason Barerra, but he was unable to capitalise.
Where chances on goal in the first half were many, the second period wasn’t quite as bountiful. Floreat were unlucky not to grab another goal on the hour when a searching through ball was lacthed on to by Mikulic, who had the target in sight when Steven Hesketh put his body on the line to block the attacker’s effort. Migas marshalled his defence with aplomb as Stirling threw everything at their opponent in the closing stages. Relying on the pace of Boi, Jason Mirco and Ndumba Makeche, Stirling continually pumped the ball forward but were unable to conjure an equaliser before the final whistle of Michael Tolmie signalled the start of Floreat’s celebrations.
INGLEWOOD STUN KNIGHTS IN CUP CLASSIC (by Michael Bate, Football West)
Inglewood United pulled off a major upset by eliminating trophy holders Western Knights from this year’s Soccer Pools Cup. Aaron Colli struck with fifteen minutes remaining to earn Inglewood a 3-2 win in today’s round of four meeting at Dalmatinac Park. After the game, Inglewood coach Alan Vest was quick to praise his inexperienced squad. “We had a lot of players out today, so all in all the young lads that have come in today have done a fantastic job,” said Vest, who had his match winner sent off two minutes after scoring. “We didn’t make it easy for ourselves, especially when Aaron got sent off, but we stuck at it and now we’ve got a Cup final to look forward to.”
It took only 7 minutes for Inglewood to score a superb opening goal though Dannie Richman, who seized upon a dreadful attempt clear and after cutting in curled a delicate chip over Frazer Siddall from the top of the 18-yard box. Just another five minutes passed before Richman played down the left channel for Matt Wardle, whose first time cross was turned into the net by Knights defender Stuart Ferguson, under pressure from Albert Osei-Tutu. The Knights then had a decent shout for a penalty turned down when Oliver Taseski smothered at the feet of David Price in a one-on-one but referee Steve Gregory was unmoved. The strong winds that hampered the teams slowly faded away, as did the action in front of goal leaving the Knights with a mountain to climb in the second half.
Anthony Campbell and Barry Devlin signalled the Knights’ intent soon after the re-start, then at the other end of the field Aaron Colli’s cross nearly snuck over Siddall’s head and into the top corner. It wasn’t looking like being the Knight’s day as consecutive crosses from Campbell and Cormac Dawson flashed across the face of goal untouched, while Devlin’s dangerous ball in was cleared by James Duncan. The normally lethal Mario Marcinko wasted a golden opportunity when Duncan then Sandi Loncar lost their footing to put him one-on-one with Taseski but the striker’s tame effort was much too close to the ‘keeper. The Knights finally pulled a goal back when Daniel Micevski send the ball down the right for Campbell, whose low cross presented newly introduced substitute Karl O’Reilly the easiest of tap-ins.
However, any thoughts of a comeback were short-lived as Aaron Colli opportunistically restored his teams two-goal buffer, the midfielder rounding Siddall before riding a desperate challenge from Devlin to roll the ball into the back of the net after receiving a lucky rebound off a team mate. Colli quickly went from hero to villain by being issued his second yellow card. Daniel Micevski’s free-kick smacked into the defensive wall, the ball ballooned the edge of the area where Marcinko struck a vicious volley that hit the outside of the post. The Knights desperate attempt to claw their way back into the game produced a second goal on 85 minutes for O’Reilly, who converted another Campbell cross from the left. But soon after it was Inglewood that were celebrating at the sound of the referee’s final whistle.
BERGIN AND SUTTIE SEE PHOENIX THROUGH
South West Phoenix consolidated third place by defeating Gosnells City 3-1 in the weekend’s solitary First Division game at Walter Padbury Reserve. With the teams’ level on 1-1 at the break, Phoenix stalwarts James Bergin and Steve Suttie netted in the second half to put the visitors six points off top spot. The early action was scattered with both teams failing to take full advantage of half-chances at close-range. Phoenix hit the front inside the half hour, Rory Binnie firing beautifully into the net on the turn after a cross from David Murphy went to feet. Half-time was looming when StuartAitken had his feet taken from under him by Dylan Stevens, the referee pointed straight to the spot from where Daley Rothwell’s initial effort was blocked by Ryan Montgomery who was helpless as the striker send the rebounded into the net.
The second half opened with Phoenix displaying the greater composure as they probed at the Gosnells defence in search of the lead. And it looked as though they’d found it when Suttie cut inside and squared for Kieran Kavanagh, who had the target in his sights when David Firth took the ball off his boot. However, the visitors pressure paid off on 56 minutes when Bergin collected the ball from Patrick Quinn on top of the 18-yard box and, after touching it past the defence, the midfielder coolly wrong-footed goalkeeper Alan Dunlop. The game was by no means over and had it not been for Murphy and Quinn on the line then Gosnells would have drawn level through Darren Francis. However, Suttie soon made the game by embarking on a mazy run that took him past several opponents before firing into the net on a slight angle from 9-metres. Gosnells enjoyed some late territorial advantage but in all honesty the danger was limited to set-pieces.
CUP SEMI-FINALS IN PREVIEW
Floreat Athena v Stirling Lions (Referee: Michael Tolmie) The underdog tag sits comfortable with Stirling Lions who take on Floreat Athena in the Soccer Pools Cup semi-final at Frank Drago Reserve (3.00pm). Back-to-back league wins have given Stirling hope of avoiding relegation this year, however, they'll be a much changed side tomorrow with Jordan Rhodes (holiday), Phil O'Callaghan, Anthony Fearon and Matt Allen (all Cup-tied) unavailable while Dean Evans is doubtful due to illness. Michael Pugliese and Danny Stoitis are going to have to be on top of their games at the back, while the drive provided by Ludovic Boi and Jason Mirco down the flanks will be crucial to Stirling.
It was a veritable goalfest when the teams last met in late May when Floreat ran out victors 4-3, and Michael Roki is hoping for similarly resilient performance from his team this time out. Captain John Migas has rarely put a foot wrong this season and he marshals an impressive defensive combination that features Simon Elton-Bott and James Isaia. Floreat possess an abundance of avenues to goal, including Branimir Mikulic and Josip Magdic, however, their attack will be somewhat blunted by the absence of Johnny Mirco (Cup-tied) and doubt over Daniel Neiderberger (hamstring) and Callum Roberts (shoulder).
Inglewood United v Western Knights (Referee: Steven Gregory) Soccer Pools Cup holders Western Knights are expected to earn the right to defend their crown by seeing off Inglewood United’s challenge at Dalmatinac Park (3.00pm). Import striker Duuane Hepburn (Cup-tied) is the only confirmed absence for Knights coach Paul Price, although there are minor injury concerns over playmaker David Micevski (ankle) and tough-as-nails stalwart David Annall (hamstring). Stuart Ferguson and Okwy Diamondstar form an imposing defensive wall while down the far end of the park Mario Marcinko and Anthony Campbell will be looking to add a few more to their respective tallies.
The odds appear firmly stacked against Inglewood. An inconsistent home and away series has made Cup glory their best chance of claiming silverware in 2009, however, Inglewood have already twice been held scoreless by the Knights and go into the weekend without midfield pair Alex Stamatiadis and Michael Baczynski as well as long-serving defender Danny Kovacevic. Oliver Taseski has been in terrific touch of late and how he performs between the posts, along with the contributions of captain Shane Pryce and State player Jason Colli, will have a big influence on how the afternoon pans out for coach Alan Vest.
WILLIAMS CHALLENGED BY MIDDLESBROUGH BOSS
Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate has challenged Rhys Williams to make a niche for himself in midfield. The 20-year old has been used chiefly at right-back in recent times but Southgate can see him flourishing through the midfield at the Riverside. "There's an opportunity for Rhys. I thought he was one of our better players against Sheffield United," Southgate said. "Rhys was a midfield player when he was a youngster so it's not a strange position for him. Matthew is very strong in the position, but Rhys made some fantastic tackles against Sheffield United and with his height, he can influence things in the air. If he continues to keep his game simple then he can make an impact there."
Williams looked completely comfortable in midfield against the Blades last weekend and must have a great chance of hanging on to the job at Swansea City this Saturday. "I've played in midfield loads when I was back at home but when I came here I didn't think I was good enough. The standard was far higher here than in Australia - so I dropped to right back and concentrated on that," he said. "But I am happy to play in midfield, if that is what I am asked to do for the team then I'll do it. I am confident I can do a job there and I am enjoying it there."
Williams played the second half of last season on loan to Burnley so already familiar with what life in England's second tier is all about. "Being at Burnley and having had a taste of the Championship I think it gives me a massive advantage going into this season," he said. "I know what it is about, how teams play and how aggressive it is. This weekend I don't think it will be as aggressive and maybe we will get to play a bit more but it will still be very tough as Swansea are a strong side. But we'll go there to try to win it. The whole dressing room is focused on trying to win promotion this season."
HIGH EXPECTATIONS FOR VELAPHI
Goalkeeper Tando Velaphi has welcomed the extra responsibility he will take into the new A-League season. Perth Glory's recruitment of five experienced overseas campaigners has raised expectations for the club and Velaphi, 22, knows he will be under pressure to perform as the team's number one 'keeper this season. "The circumstances have changed and there's a bit more responsibility on me," Velaphi told Jonathon Cook of the 'West Australian' newspaper. "There's going to be a bit more expectation for me and the team, but I'm looking forward to the challenge."
Velaphi found himself down the pecking order at the start of last season, behind veteran duo Jason Petkovic, who has retired, and Frank Juric, who has hung up his gloves to concentrate on goalkeeper coaching at the club. But Velaphi, who was Australia's second-choice 'keeper to Reading's Adam Federici at the Beijing Olympic Games, forced his way into the side and became the preferred custodian for Glory coach David Mitchell. "Not playing at the start of last season was difficult and I worked hard to get back in the team," Velaphi said. "I think I've improved, but there's a lot more to come and playing games regularly helps a lot."
SCHOOLBOYS CLAIM BRONZE MEDAL
The State Schoolboys overcame a far from ideal preparation for last week’s national championships by finishing with the bronze medal. Coach Damon Atthowe had nothing but praise for the way the Schoolboys handled themselves throughout the School Sport Australia National Championships, in Rockingham, where they won three out of five games played. “The squad performed very well, their level of intensity and work rate was excellent,” commented Atthowe, who had to contend with the late withdrawal of three players as well as some uncooperative State League clubs. “Five of my players were told by their clubs to play the day before the tournament began, that certainly factored in the opening day loss to New South Wales.”
In addition to the results, there were several personal successes for the Schoolboys with six players selected in national squads at the completion of the week long event. “Devon Gibson was outstanding all week for us and absolutely deserves his place in the Australian squad,” said the Western Australia coach. “I thought Liam Boland, who was the tournament Golden Boot with six goals, was extremely unlucky to be named in the shadow instead of the first squad as was Ryan Pretorious, who showed his versatility by playing in attack, midfield and defence. The other boys - David Nairn, Josh Periera and Todd Ross - could all easily have been given a spot in the first team.”
The Schoolboys campaign opened on Sunday with a spirited performance against perennial favourites New South Wales, who ran out 4-1 victors courtesy of late flourish of goals. New South Wales took an early lead but parity was restored in the 18th minute when Josh Pereira converted Devon Gibson’s cross from the right. The boys from the west dominated the opening stages of the second half before New South Wales slowly regained their momentum and three unanswered goals in the last quarter hour sealed victory. Queensland whipped Australian Capital Territory 5-0 while Victoria surrendered 0-3 to South Australia in other games.
A 5-1 thumping of Victoria under lights the following evening got the Schoolboys tournament back on track. Liam Boland put the hosts ahead early, but Victoria soon equalised before applying some red-hot pressure on their opponents’ defence as they searched for the lead. Against the run of play Devon Gibson fired Western Australia into the lead, with Gerardo Soto adding a third just before the interval. The second half carried on much the same fashion as David Nairn and Ryan Pretorious found the net. Queensland edged past South Australia 2-1, and New South Wales dumped the Australian Capital Territory 4-0.
Queensland snatched a late 3-2 victory from an entertaining day three game with West Australia. The hosts scored first with Josh Perieria sending a through ball in for Devon Gibson, who beat one defender before smashing low into the net from 15-metres. Queensland hit back midway through the first half, however, Liam Boland restored West Australia’s lead with a close-range finish. The second half had been under way less than a minute when Queensland drew level, and with three minutes they capitalised on a combination of errors by Ryan Pretorius and goalkeeper Tom Dixon. South Australia trashed the Australian Capital Territory 7-0, and New South Wales dumped Victoria 6-0.
Following a day of rest, West Australia put themselves back in the medal hunt with a 4-2 defeat of the Australian Capital Territory. Played on a narrow pitch, the Territorians scored early via a neat lob following another mistake by the hosts defence. Liam Boland brought the teams level with a smashing free-kick, and five minutes later the same player headed West Australia in front. A long-range goal ten minutes into the second half made it two-all with Ryan Pretorious and Liam Boland finding the net late to secure victory. New South Wales stormed home 7-0 against South Australia, and Queensland saw off Victoria 2-1.
Western Australia finished in third place after defeating South Australia, who took fourth, 3-1 on the final day of competition. Early pressure by the boys from the west was rewarded when Liam Boland converted from the penalty spot after being hacked down inside the area. Boland then out-witted a couple of defenders to slot in his and the teams second, with Ryan Pretorius side-footing in a corner at the back post to further increase the gap. South Australia upped the tempo for the final fifteen minutes and although they pulled a goal back it was too little too late. New South Wales defeated Queensland 2-0, and Victoria down the Australian Capital Territory.
CAHILL DOUBLE AS SOCCEROOS THRASH IRELAND
A brace of Tim Cahill goals late in the first half and a late David Carney stunner sealed Australia a memorable 3-0 friendly win over the Republic of Ireland over night at Thomond Park in Dublin. Despite fielding an experimental side against a strong Irish line-up, the Socceroos dominated for most of the match with an attractive fast-paced passing game which saw the ball moved swiftly out of defence and into attack. "It's great to win in a place like Ireland," said two-goal hero Cahill. "Playing a full-strength team at home is for us a big step in international football and something that with the players that we've had and players missing, the boys should be proud of."
Australia started the brighter with Luke Wilkshire firing wide and Harry Kewell forced Shay Given into a low save. Slow to find their feet, the Republic eventually got into gear but Robbie Keane sent a close-range header high before Mark Schwarzer expertly denied the striker. The home nation's profligacy proved costly as in the 38th minute Scott McDonald and Cahill combined on the counterattack with the latter sliding a low show past unmoved goalkeeper Shay Given from the edge of the 18-yard box. Australia could have had another moments later when Kewell got behind his marker only to head over from 6-yards. A second did arrive, however, a minute from the break when Rhys Williams' fierce shot was blocked by Given with Cahill on hand to poke in the follow-up.
Williams was joined on the park for the second half by fellow West Australians Rukavytsya and Adrian Madaschi, replacements for Scott McDonald and Patrick Kisnorbo respectively. Another substitute, Brett Holman, should have done better than shoot straight at Given after being afforded time to pick his spot after the re-start. The Republic then enjoyed their best spell of the game but Stephen Hunt placed wide after a clever back-heel by Keane, who son after had a goal bound shot blocked by Carney. The hosts continued to waste chances with substitute Keith Andrews hitting a post, before Sean St Ledger headed straight at Schwarzer from 5-metres. But they were again made to pay as in stoppage time Nick Carle found Carney in space and from 30-metres he crashed a vicious left-foot shot past substitute 'keeper Keiren Westwood.
SILVER THE REWARD FOR SCHOOLGIRLS
A four-game winning run by the State Schoolgirls was rewarded with second place at last week's School Sport Australia National Championships. Coach Tony Carvajal was delighted with his teams' achievements at the tournament which culminated in Australian honours for several players. "The Schoolgirls performed wonderfully well throughout the entire tournament, as the results indicate," he said. "Additionally, Sadie Lawrence and Jaymee Gibbons were selected in the Australian Schoolgirls squad and Rebecca Davies, Joanne Randazzo, Lyndsey Kenyon and Corrin Walmsley were named in the shadow squad."
The Schoolgirls bounced back from a four-goal, day one loss to New South Wales with a thrilling 1-1 draw against Queensland. "Although we lost 4-0 to New South Wales they scored only one well-constructed goal, the other three were the result of us not clearing the ball from inside the penalty area," said Carvajal. "The girls were not disheartened and Joanne Randazzo scored early against Queensland. We constantly had them under pressure before they scored with a free-kick high into the net."
Sadie Lawrence scored twice with Jaymee Gibbons, Emily Murray, Hollie Farrall, Joanne Randazzo and goalkeeper Kristy Teschinsky also on the scoresheet in the 7-0 demolition of the Northern Territory. A 1-0 win against the Australian Capital Territory came courtesy of, while Emily Murray and Rebecca Davies scored in the 2-1 win over Victoria that same day. "The girls were placed under extreme pressure but they held on to record two important victories which ensured we would finish in at least third place," Carvajal commented.
The glitter of silver came into view on Friday when Western Australia defeated cross-Nullarbor rivals South Australia. "We didn't play our best football against South Australia but Rebecca Davies scored in the 75th minute to clinch second place and the silver medal," said Carvajal on the 1-0 win. "We hadn't expected this at the beginning of the Championships but in the end it was a well-deserved result. I was extremely proud of the entire squad as all the players contributed to the teams' success."
HARNWELL READIES FOR ACTION
Perth Glory stalwart Jamie Harnwell is ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation from a hamstring tear and could make a surprise return to action in the club’s first home game of the season. Harnwell was injured in last month’s pre-season game with North Queensland Fury, and initially expected to be back for the home clash with Melbourne Victory at the end of this month. But the veteran is now pressing to return for the game with Newcastle Jets on Sunday week. “The way I’m approaching it is I want to be involved in the Newcastle game but I don’t want to push myself to the point where I could put myself back a week or two,” Harnwell told Jonathon Cook of the ‘West Australian’ newspaper.
32-year old Harnwell had been feeling in good shape on the eve of the season before tearing his left hamstring as he launched himself for a header against the Fury. The path to recovery, though, has been smooth. “Everything has gone without a hitch so far,” said Harnwell, whose tally of 215 Glory appearances is bettered only by Bobby Despotovski and Scott Miller. “Every time I meet a milestone I can push on to the next one. I haven’t been held back at any stage. I’ve been joining in the warm-up at training and hopefully I’ll join in some more game-oriented sessions by the end of the week. He aim is to be in full training by mid-next week.”
THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT FOR AUSTRALIAN FOOTBALL
The next generation of Young Socceroos have finished second to Thailand at the ASEAN Football Federation Under-19 Youth Championship. Australia were denied back-to-back titles when out-shot on penalties by Thailand in yesterday's final in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. "We played five matches in nine days," said Australia coach Jan Versleijen. "The the team improved every game and players better understand the playing style required of them." Western Australia was represented at the tournament by goalkeepers Mark Birighitti and Nick Feely, midfielder Cameron Edwards and striker Eli Babalj.
The Next Young Socceroos opened the tournament by drawing 1-1 with Singapore in hot, humid conditions on a heavy pitch. An unmarked Eli Babalj headed in at close-range from Josh McVey's cross to give Australia the lead midway through the first half. Khairul Nizam brough the teams level on 65 minutes and although they dominated Australia were unable to conjure a winner. A final minute goal two days later permitted Thailand to steal a 1-1 draw with Australia. The Next Young Socceroos looked set to claim victory after Peter Franjic netted in the 84th minute, however, the host nation had other ideas as captain Surachet Ngamtip equalised with only moments remaining.
Australia's place in the last four was secured with Saturday's 3-0 win against Cambodia. James Virgilli opened the scoring on 41 minutes with a scintillating run down the left and, under pressure from three defenders, he brilliantly curled the ball inside the far post from 20-metres. A minute after the restart, Kliment Taseski collected a miscued defensive clearance and slammed the ball into the bottom corner to double the margin. Cambodia responded almost immediately and would have pulle a goal back if not for Mark Birighitti, who thwarted Keo Sokngon in a one-on-one. The game was made safe on 55 minutes when Brendan Griffin's in-swinging free-kick was met by Taseski, who headed in for his second, and the teams third goal of the afternoon.
A flourish of late goals took Australia past Vietnam 4-1 an action-packed semi-final on Monday. The Next Young Socceroos opened their account in the 28th minute with a moment of brilliance from James Virgilli, who turned his marker inside out and crossed for Mathew Leckie to slam into the net. Vietnam equalised six minutes later when Nguyen Dihn Bao's cross was glaned in by Ma Minh Tuan. Daniel Bowles converted at close-range to put Australia back in front after 70 minutes, Virgilli capped a man of the match performance with an outstanding individual goal in the 81st minute with Joshua Groenewald finishing the scoring deep in stoppage time.
Thailand held their nerve to defeat Australia 3-2 on penalties in the Final, which finished 2-2 at the end of extra-time. Both teams had their chances in a pulsating first half but neither was able to capitalise. The scoring didn't start until the 69th minute when Natthawut Khamrin cut in from the right and fired inside the far post. With just a few seconds left Dylan McGowan headed in the equaliser from Joshua Groenewald's free-kick. In the 101st minute Adisak chested down a corner, turned several defenders and fired low past Birighitti. Australia showed great resilience when, deep in stoppage time, Jared Lum unleashed a dipping shot which beat Ukrit.
GRIFFITHS A TRUE BELIEVER IN FURY
Despite a first-up loss to Sydney FC, North Queensland Fury is going to be hard to beat this season according to midfielder Rostyn Griffiths. Fury went down 3-2 to Sydney at home on Saturday after widely being tipped to struggle in 2009/10. However, Griffiths, scorer of his new club's first ever A-League goal, believes the fight the players showed will hold them in good stead for coming matches. ''We have still got injuries and people to come back and once we have got a full squad to choose from it is going to be even harder for the manager to pick players," said Griffiths, whose senior career began at ECU Joondalup. ''But if people aren't getting more wary now then I don't know when they will. If we have to start beating teams all the time then that's what it's going to take, but I think we will and once a couple of games have gone and people have got more confidence ... I think we will be competitive for most things.''
COYNE OUT FOR A MONTH
Perth Glory defender Jamie Coyne has been cleared of serious injury but will still miss a month of football after suffering a strain to the medial ligament in his left knee. Coyne sustained the injury in the opening half of the club's round one match against Adelaide United and was forced from the ground after 39 minutes. The initial diagnosis suggested Coyne could miss six weeks, however, Glory medical staff have thoroughly reviewed scans and are confident the defender can be back to full fitness by round six. "It's better than first expected which is positive," Coyne said. "There is always a bit of fear of the unknown when you first do an injury, particularly around the knee, so I'm happy it's not as bad as it could have been. I don't like missing any games but I can now focus on my recovery and be back helping the boys sooner rather than later."
AMARAL GLORY BOUND
Brazilian midfielder Amaral is set to make his Perth Glory return as a guest player. The former Brazil international, who represented his country 31 times and won a bronze medal at the 1996 Olympic Games, only has to prove to coach David Mitchell that he is fit and ready for action to earn a new contract. Amaral impressed during seven Glory games last season before a hamstring injury cut short his campaign and he returned to Brazil. Mitchell chose not to offer the 36-year old a new A-League deal at the time but is prepared to give the former Parma, Fiorentina and Benfica midfielder a chance to prove he can add value to Glory’s squad.
Under A-League regulations, each club can sign a guest player for a maximum nine matches. Mitchell said hardly a week had gone by since Amaral was released at the end of last season that the Brazilian had not been in touch with the club hoping to get another chance. “He feels last time he was robbed of a chance to really show the people of Perth how he can play,” Mitchell said yesterday. “He loves Perth and feels he’s got a lot to offer, so I’m going to have a look at him. He’s paying his own way, he’s comfortable with his fitness and we are going to see what he’s like.” Mitchell said despite his pedigree, Amaral was so keen to play for Glory again he was prepared to join on cut price wages.
DE VANNA PROPELS WASHINGTON TO PLAY-OFFS
Lisa De Vanna was on target as Washington Freedom clinched third place in the Women's Professional Soccer regular season with a 3-1 victory over Sky Blue FC yesterday. Abby Wambach opened Freedom's account after 19 minutes, and three minutes into the second half the United States international increased their lead by tapping in at close-range a fine pass from De Vanna. Rosana brought Sky Blue back into the game with a superb 53rd minutes shot from distance that found the top corner. But four minutes later Wambach delivered a great ball from the right to set-up De Vanna, who applied a smart finish. The win secured Freedom third place on the table and booked a semi-final showdown with Blue Sky, who snuck into fourth, next Saturday.
PENALTY DECISION A SHOCKER, SAYS COYNE
After a 13-year overseas career, Socceroos defender Chris Coyne knew he would have to adjust his game when he agreed to join the A-League. But the Perth Glory recruit admitted he had not expected referees to be quite so hasty in their judgment after he conceded the penalty that enabled Adelaide United to wrap up a 1-0 win at Hindmarsh Stadium on Friday night. “I actually thought he’d given a goal kick because for me it was never a penalty,” Coyne said of his innocuous contact with Robbie Cornthwaite. “Obviously being my first game in the A-League I didn’t realise how sometimes the referees give such soft fouls because in Europe it wouldn’t have even been looked at, let alone a penalty given.”
Coyne he concedes Glory had been overly ambitious in their expectations against Adelaide and is confident the side will make steady improvement. “We didn’t start well but it was one of those games where maybe everyone was over-hyped for it. It was really the first time we’d all played together so I think we might’ve expected too much, too soon. In the second half we started showing glimpses of what we’re about,” he said. “People have not even seen 50% of what we’re capable of. I think we’ve got a good base to build on defensively and we’ve got some gifted players. Watching the other games, you can see the quality is there (in the league) but it’s going to take time to adjust.”
SPARKS FLY AS PERTH CLING TO VICTORY OVER ARMADALE (with James Wragg, Football West)
Perth SC got back onto the winners list with a hard fought 3-2 victory against battling Armadale in a fiery Sunday game at Dorrien Gardens. A trio of goals by Trent Kay, Antonio Naglieri and Phil Arnold in a blistering thirteen minute spell earned the hosts victory, but the outcome could have been very diffierent had James Robinson been able to conjure his third goal of the day. Numerous bookings littered a game in which Dom De Felice and Kieran Tracey were red carded just before the break, with Arnold also earning himself an early shower late in the piece.
Armadale's first attack of the afternoon on 2 minutes produced a surprise lead with in-form striker Robinson clinically firing past Luke Martino from just inside the 18-yard box to complete a speedy counter-attacking play. Perth didn't have to wait too long for the equaliser, Kay heading into the bottom corner at a perfectly flighted Greg Sharland free-kick on the quarter-hour. Ten minutes later and the hosts had the lead courtesy of a sublime move involving Sharland and striker David Onoforo that tore open the Armadale defence and ended with a simple side-foot for Naglieri.
Perth put away their third goal three minutes later, Arnold burying a delightful effort past young goalkeeper Robbie Easton to cap off another well worked move by the hosts. Arnold could have effectively ended the game as a contest just before the break but after skipping past two defenders the attacker was unable to keep his shot down and the ball flew high of the crossbar. Half-time was three minutes away when the game started to turn ugly as Tracey fouled De Felice, who stepped on the back of his opponent as he tried to stay upright. After exchanging words, the two players were pulled apart and sent from the field by referee Tim Mihevc.
The second half opened with Robinson wastefully blazing high to undo all his good work leading up to the chance. Perth were made to pay for some weak defending on 62 minutes when Kay's sliced attempt to clear spun into the path of Robinson, who had no hesitation in dispatching the gifted ball into the net. Robinson was twice presented opportunities to complete his hat-trick but he lacked composure to punish the home side. The 83rd minute dismissal of Arnold for a second yellow card served to intensify the pressure on Perth during the closing stages, however, they managed to hold on for victory and stay two points behind top of the table Western Knights.
CAMPBELL KEEPS KNIGHTS ON TOP (by Chris Correia, Football West)
Western Knights remain on top of the Premier League table after edging edged out Cockburn City 1-0 at Dalmatinac Park. The game was decided by import Anthony Campbell’s ninth goal of the season that arrived just before half-time. Duuane Hepburn created the first chance by rounding Devon Gibson to go one-on-one with Dejan Aleksic but the striker’s shot thundered against the base of the upright. Despite entering the game with a minor ankle problem, David Micevski was pulling the strings in midfield as the Knights dominated. Mario Marcinko headed just wide, then Hepburn again hit the woodwork after receiving a sublime pass from Marcinko.
Aleksic came off his line only to be forced into a quick backtrack as Hepburn’s dipping shot cannoned off the crossbar. Cockburn nearly went ahead against the run of play when Jason Dos Santos’ corner found Paul Natale unmarked but the defender’s firm header was pushed away by diving goalkeeper Frazer Siddall. However, the Knights deservedly took the lead on 40 minutes when David Micevski’s powerful shot was spilled by Aleksic and in the scramble that ensued Campbell squirted the ball into the net at close-range. Siddall was again in the action soon after, pulling off another miraculous save to keep out Llewllyn Bake’s shot on the turn.
Very few genuine chances would be created in the second half, neither team able to gain the upper hand with much of the play being between the boxes. This lack of opportunities and light but persistent drizzle make for some fairly miserable viewing. David Micevski worked tirelessly to life into the Knights and an inspired run out of midfield took the captain inside the 18-yard box where his decision to pass instead of shoot proved the wrong one as Cockburn cleared the danger. It was only in during the latter stages of the game that the home side increased their intensity, however, a lack of quality delivery into the final third prevented them from stealing a late point.
TOMMY GUNS DOWN FLOREAT (with Tim Lefort, Football West)
A brilliant hat-trick by Tommy Amphlett guided ECU Joondalup to a stunning 5-2 victory over Floreat Athena at the Edith Cowan University campus. Jake Benson-Cooper and Dale McCulloch were also on target for the hosts in a dazzling attacking display that keeps the northern suburbs outfit in contention for a top five finish. “We looked sharp, we had pace … we were always causing them problems, the team’s been playing like that for a few weeks,” said Joondalup coach Syd Amphlett, whose side had the lead after just a couple of minutes. “They’d (Floreat) had a couple of bad results, obviously they’re a quality team and we thought if we could get at them early on … and we couldn’t have asked for a better start to be honest.”
The ball had been in motion just 2 minutes when Amphlett latched onto a clever ball forward, took one touch then coolly slipped his shot past the advancing Alex Dunn and into the bottom corner. Branimir Mikulic responded with a long-range effort that failed to trouble veteran ‘keeper Andy Petterson, then Johnny Mirco sent a half-volley over. Injury to Simon Elton-Bott forced Floreat coach Michael Roki into an early re-shuffle which saw Callum Roberts enter the fray, and midway through the half the exciting attacker volleyed straight at Petterson from the edge of the 18-yard box. The hosts looked dangerous when entering the final third and four minutes out from the break they doubled the lead when Benson-Cooper finished clinically into the bottom corner after being sent clear of the defence.
Joondalup extended their hold to three goals within four minutes of the second half when Amphlett pounced on a weak back header and looked set to score until being brought down by Dunn, referee Josh Manella duly awarded the penalty which McCulloch drove into the net. Floreat controversially hit back two minutes later when awarded a penalty of their own following Benson-Cooper’s foul on Mirco. Neiderburger’s spot kick was superbly saved by Petterson, however, the referee ordered it be retaken after ruling a Joondalup player had entered the area before the ball had been struck and with at the second attempt the Floreat attacker made no mistake. Neiderberger then had a header well saved by Petterson, while at the other end Jon Higgins snatched at a half-volley and sliced wide.
Amphlett restored his teams’ three-goal cushion by unleashing a superb first-time strike from 30-metres which beat Dunn, who’d advanced well out of his area, and smashed into an empty net with 65 minutes on the clock. The game was made safe seven minutes later when Amphlett completed a well-deserved hat-trick by controlling the ball on his chest before lobbing into the roof of the net from 9-metres. Higgins was unfortunate not to have a goal to show for his tireless effort when he forced Dunn into a fine save at his near post. Floreat grabbed the final goal on 77 minutes when a low cross found its way to Mirco, whose stinging drive hit the back of the net via a deflection. David Foster should have cut the margin back even further but instead slammed the ball against the upright from no more than a couple of metres.
SORRENTO SNATCH CONTROVERSIAL WINNER (by Chris Leitch, Football West)
Canning City left Percy Doyle Reserve bitterly disappointed after Sorrento claimed a 2-1 win with a controversial stoppage time penalty. With the game tied up at 1-1 and the final whistle only moments away, Canning goalkeeper Kenny Ftynohiannis was clattered into by Paul Cunningham after capturing a loose ball. Ftynohiannis retaliated and tempers flared as players from both sides became involved in heated melee, and once the dust had settled referee Steven Gregory awarded a penalty which Stuart Montgomery calmly slotted in ensure Sorrento took out all three points.
Canning coach Billy Watson could not hide his feelings when questioned about the result. “While we were under pressure in the second half, I thought we did enough to warrant the point and it was very disappointing the way the incident went in the last minute,” he said. “Sorrento took the game to us in the second half and possibly should have had one or two. But the same goes at the other end, if we’d a little more controlled with our final ball, we would have got something out of it.”
Sorrento coach Steve Neville felt his side deserved a win but said they made hard work of it. “I said to the boys at half-time that our final ball was very poor, our delivery into the box to McDonald and crosses in any area in the first half was poor,” he said. “The second half, it improved a little bit but we can still do better. But the boys worked hard, you can’t ask for more than that, and we got our just rewards. As to whether it was a penalty or not, I couldn’t see from where I was but to the boys that were standing there, it was a penalty.”
Canning went ahead in the 26th minute via a Simon Versaico, who made the most of a precision George Tchami cross by heading powerfully past Cyril Sharrock. But Sorrento were on level terms again just before half-time after Todd Harnwell deflected a Steve McDonald header past Ftynogiannis. Versaico and Daniel Trevisol got on the end of some good moves for Canning in the second half but were guilty of over-ambitious finishing and blazed either wide or high. McDonald and Montgomery caused more than a few nervous moments for the away team, who twice cleared off the line with the ‘keeper beaten, as Sorrento dominated the closing stages.
CAPTAIN COLE STEALS VICTORY FOR SWAN
Swan United completed the regular season double over Mandurah City with a hard fought 1-0 win at the Swan Italian Club. The three points, courtesy of team captain Aaron Cole, were a just reward for a solid 90 minute performance from the black and whites. “We were under the pump early, but Cory Hugo made some great saves to keep us in the game,” said victorious coach Paul Lincoln. “Once we settled we created some chances but the final header or shot was not a threat. We began to get on top midway through the second half, and managed to get the winner late which was very pleasing.”
It was Mandurah that opened strongly with Chris Wylie and Michael Currie making their presence felt through some penetrating runs down the flanks. In fact, the visitors would have gone into the break a couple of goals the better had it not been for Swan custodian Cory Hugo, who produced a trio of fine saves to leave Nicky Platt, Farrell Hedges and Craig Young frustrated. Swan were finding the going tough when pushing into attack, the closest the hosts came to taking a first half lead was when Million Butshiire fired narrowly wide after cutting in from the left.
It didn’t take long for the second half to develop into an arm wrestle for control between a couple of very evenly matched midfields. Swan were first to threaten when via a Brendan Craig cross from the left that found Damian Scali, whose on-target header was saved by goalkeeper Phil Straker. That was one of the few clear-cut scoring opportunities afforded by Ryan Townsend and Jay Bonser, who ran a tight ship for Mandurah as Aaron Cole and David McNally did likewise for the home team. The outomce was determined ten minutes from the end when Straker, under intense pressure from Cole, captured Craig’s free-kick only to have the ball slip from his grip and drop into the net with the Swan captain deemed to have had the decisive touch.
STIRLING ROARS LOUDEST AT INGLEWOOD (with Michael Bate, Football West)
A commanding second half performance by Stirling Lions saw them claim a much-needed 2-0 victory over Inglewood United at Clipsal Stadium. The win, courtesy of second half goals from Jamie De Abreu and Ludovic Boi, puts Stirling level on points with Armadale at the bottom of the Premier League table with six games to play. “We’re just concentrating on ourselves at the moment,” said Mick Lyons, coach of relegation threatened Stirling. “We’re not looking at what other teams are doing because, I believe, we have a great side here with a lot of character. I’m confident if we keep playing like we did in the second half today, the results will come and we’ll move up the table.”
The first half was by and large a dull affair, both teams nervously probing their way forward without creating much in the way of real goal scoring opportunities. Alex Stamatiades had a decent half chance when he latched onto a high clearance and looped a header over Stirling goalkeeper Kevin Miller, but defender Michael Pugliese got back in time to prevent the ball going in. The best opening of the period came in stoppage time when Phil O’Callaghan got on the end of Jason Mirco’s clever through ball only to fire into the side netting from a tight angle.
It wasn’t until eight minutes into the second half that the game sparked into life, an excellent exchange of some twenty passes by Inglewood ending with striker Rory Grant lifting his shot from 9-metres disappointing high. Stirling countered with O’Callaghan playing a delightful pass in for Boi, whose dangerous cross into the 18-yard box passed across the face of goal. The hosts created a good chance on the hour, Grant and Stamatiades combining well to set-up Jason Colli but Miller saved well to keep the teams level. De Abreu had been on the park only seven minutes when he showed great composure to win possession and fire the opening goal past Oliver Taseski with 71 minutes on the clock.
This had a galvanising effect on Stirling and they should have doubled their advantage soon after when Anthony played down the left for O’Callaghan who sent in a superb pass which substitute Andy Brown shot straight at Taseski. The result was put beyond doubt in the 82nd minute when Dean Evans smartly squared to the unmarked Boi who, from the edge of the 18-yard box, curled into the bottom corner. De Abreu nearly added a third in the closing moments but after being played in by O’Callaghan he placed across the face of goal and beyond the far post. Dannie Richman could have snatched Inglewood a late consolation headed high from a Pryce free-kick.
RODGERS STARS FOR FIVE-STAR PHOENIX (courtesy South West Phoenix)
South West Phoenix overcame an ordinary first half to inflict a 5-0 thrashing on First Division cellar dwellers Queens Park at Cocker Park. The star of the show as striker David Rodgers, who scored twice and had a helping hand in two others as Phoenix moved up into third place. Steve Suttie should have give the visitors an early lead but his effort was fortuitously kept out by the legs of goalkeeper Keegan Savage. Only a coat of paint denied Asef Hashim putting Queens Park ahead with a fine shot that cannoned off the underside of the crossbar. The all-important go-ahead goal arrived on 26 minutes when Rodgers bundled the ball in at the far post from a Suttie corner.
The points were made safe during a thirteen minutes spell midway through the second half in which Phoenix found the net on three occasions. It all began on 57 minutes when Rodgers was allowed too much space at the top of the area to unleash a powerful shot which gave the ‘keeper no chance. Rodgers then turned provider with a brilliant cross which substitute David Mayers nodded in to the net. Rory Binnie added his name to the scoresheet by racing on to a glancing Rodgers header which he rocketed first time past the ‘keeper. The scoreline was made complete five minutes from the end by Murphy, whose shot on the turn from 9-metres soared into the roof of the net.
GOSNELLS MOVE ON UP
Gosnells City continued their late season revival by whipping Dianella White Eagles 5-0 at Dianella Reserve. Only 8 minutes were on the clock when Gosnells struck for the first time, Darren Francis receiving possession from Daley Rothwell on top of the 18-yard box and after rounding his marker the striker slotted low to the goalkeepers right. Dianella’s best chance of the game arrived ten minutes later but Dragan Njegic’s effort was cleared off the line by Dave Firth. The gap was widened on the stroke of half-time when Rothwell skipped down the left wing and from close to the by line send in a superb cross which Francis powerfully headed in from 5-metres.
Stuart Aitken put away Gosnells’ third of the afternoon by unleashing a thunderbolt from 30-metres which came as a complete surprise for the ‘keeper four minutes into the second half. It was only in the final ten minutes that the margin blew, Rothwell adding his name to the scorers with a well-placed curling shot from the edge of the box. Gosnells fifth and final goal arrived just moments from the final whistle when poor defending at a corner was punished by Aitken, who headed into an empty net. The three points gained move Gosnells into seventh place, only four points away from third.
FLAT GLORY UNDONE BY ADELAIDE
Perth Glory has opened their 2009/10 A-League campaign with a controversial 0-1 loss away to Adelaide United in last night. A debateable penalty converted by Travis Dodd gave the Reds the lead as they dominated possession in front of a healthy crowd of 13,847 at Hindmarsh Stadium. And the home side held on after the break, with Glory unable to break down a solid defensive wall. “Adelaide are a tough team to play against, they play direct and make it difficult every time you’re on the ball,” said Glory coach David Mitchell. “We couldn’t find our way forward with any purpose and that was costly. At the end of the day they had one shot on target and so did we but they capitalised.”
Brazilian import Alemao was unfortunate not to earn the hosts a 2nd minute penalty after Jacob Burns mistime his tackle. There were encouraging signs early on for the visitors with Victor Sikora bringing goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic into action with an 11th minute free-kick. An innocuous tug on Robbie Cornthwaite’s shirt by Chris Coyne was penalised in the 31 minute, referee Craig Zetter this time pointing to the spot from where Dodd successfully guided the ball to the right of Tando Velaphi. Glory suffered a further set back just before the break when Jamie Coyne, who twisted his left knee in a challenge with Scott Jamieson, was forced out of the game.
Where Glory failed to find their rhythm in the opening half, hardly surprising with five of the club’s starting eleven were new to the team, after the break they played with greater cohesion. But other then Euegen Dadi’s 62nd minute header that flash over the crossbar, the visitors struggled to have an impact in the attacking third. In contrast Adelaide generated a number of nervous moments for their opponent. Alemao combined well with Cassio but fired high from 25-metres, and later Glory managed to scramble the ball away from the goal mouth after Jamieson had drilled in another free-kick. Cornthwaite almost handed Glory an 84th minute equaliser when he kicked the ball past Galekovic and just wide of the goal for a corner.
YOUNG MATILDA’S MAKE EARLY EXIT
Australia have exited the AFC Under-19 Women's Championships at the group stage, and in the process missed out on a spot at the FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup. A four-goal thumping of Chinese Taipei ensured the Young Matilda's campaign ended on a high following an opening round draw with Japan and a spiteful loss to China PR. Flying the West Australian flag in China were Perth Glory Women trio Marianna Tabain Samantha Kerr and Ella Mastrantonio.
The Young Matildas commenced with a 1-1 draw with Japan in hot and humid conditions last Saturday, 1 August. Both teams dominated for periods in an even first half, however, after the break it was Australia that took control. But against the run of play Mana Iwabuchi put Japan ahead on 66 minutes with a sensational curving strike from 25-metres into the top corner. Australia equalised when Kyah Simon looped a header over the goalkeeper in the 88th minute. Marianna Tabain was replaced after 72 minutes, Samantha Kerr came on in the 59th minute, while Ella Mastrantonio was an unused substitute.
A 2-1 loss to China a couple of days later effectively ended Australia's hopes of progressing beyond the group phase. China found the back of the net after 10 minutes when Lou Jiahui tapped in from close-range after goalkeeper Casey Dumont spilled a shot from distance. China's lead was doubled on 43 minutes when Jiahui finished neatly from 10-metres. Australia had to wait until the 75th minute to find a way through via Samantha Kerr's pin-point cross which Kyah Simon volleyed in. Marianna Tabain was replaced after 65 minutes, Samantha Kerr came on in the 53rd minute while Ella Mastrantonio was an unused substitute.
Australia bowed out of the tournament despite thrashing Chinese Taipei 4-0 on Wednesday. The opener arrived after 21 minutes when Alesha Clifford nodded in a corner from Elise Kellond-Knight. The lead was increased on 58 minutes when Simon headed in at a Tameka Butt corner. Courtney Beutel tapped in Australia's third in the 66th minute after the 'keeper fumbled Elise Kellond-Knight's free-kick, and six minutes from the end Nicola Bolger rifled in from 15-metres. Marianna Tabain and Samantha Kerr played full games with Ella Mastrantonio an unused substitute.
THE PREMIER LEAGUE IN PREVIEW
ECU Joondalup v Floreat Athena (referee: Josh Mannella) Highlighting round sixteen of the Premier League is ECU Joondalup against Floreat Athena at the Edith Cowan University campus (3.00pm). The last two meetings in Joondalup have gone in favour of the home side whose coach, Syd Amphlett, wants to make it three. “It’s another massive game on Saturday but we have already proved we can beat the best with wins against Western Knights and Perth SC already this season,” he said. “We know Floreat are a quality side but the lads will be up for it and we will give them a game. The spirit in the camp is high and our progress is still to make the top five.”
Floreat boss Michael Roki is hopeful his team can bounce straight back from last weekend’s loss to the Knights, a result that effectively ended their hopes of a top two finish. “There are some critical games again this week and any one of the mid-table teams put pressure on our third place berth if we drop points,” said the coach, who’ll be missing Dean Apelgren (suspended) and Ante Kovacevic (Perth Glory duty). “ECU will be playing for both survival and an outside chance of top five so they have plenty to play for. For us the game is about form revival and consolidation of the third spot.”
Cockburn City v Western Knights (Referee: Paul Anderson) Top of the table Western Knights make the short south to Cockburn City (3.00pm). Dalmatinac Park has not been a happy hunting ground for the Knights, who have lost their last two visits, but Paul Price’s team is riding high at the moment. Suspension will prevent Anthony Campbell’s participation, however, the Knights coach has a few options now Stuart Ferguson and David Annall are back in contention. Cockburn will be without teenage goalkeeper Nick Feely and midfielder Cameron Edwards, both on international duty, while striker Aaron Dos Santos with an accumulation of yellow cards.
Inglewood United v Stirling Lions (Referee: Michael Tolmie) There’s an extra pep in Stirling Lions as they prepare to play Inglewood United at Clipsal Stadium (3.00pm). New recruit Phil O’Callaghan was Stirling’s goal scoring hero last week and his partnership with Jordan Rhodes and Ludovic Boi will be vital as they attempt to claw their way out of the relegation zone. Mladen Kovacevic has been in terrific touch for Inglewood of late and his contribution, along with those of import striker Rory Grant and goalkeeper Oliver Taseski are going to be crucial for the home side.
Swan United v Mandurah City (Referee: Joe Fusari) It’s a big game at the Swan Italian Club where Swan United welcomes Mandurah City (3.00pm). Both teams took maximum points last week by coming from behind and it’s expected this game will also go down to the wire. The loss of David Perich and Paul Dugdale, who both returned to the United States this week, is going to have a major impact on Swan, who’ll hope Trent Wood and Tom Shepheard pass late fitness tests. Mandurah’s desire to repeat their 3-1 home win of earlier this season have received a major boost with Andy Brown, Stephen Payne and Jay Bonser back in the frame.
Sorrento v Canning City (Referee: Steve Gregory) Percy Doyle Reserve is the place to be when Sorrento host Canning City (3.00pm) in another important mid-table encounter. Stuart Montgomery came off the bench to hit Sorrento’s winner last week and lift the reigning champions up to sixth, their highest position this season. Canning farewell Paul Oliver, who returns to England shortly, and another three points would be the perfect send off for their long-serving midfielder. The return from injury of Duncan Hind and Greg Newcombe offsets Jon Mathers continued absence due to suspension.
Perth SC v Armadale (Referee: Tim Mihevc) This week’s Sunday game has Perth SC up against Armadale (3.00pm). Ian McMurray is expected to come back into Perth’s first eleven where young goalkeeper Luke Martino has impressed. Unfortunately, Graham Normanton misses the services of injured trio Matt Danskin, Simon Madaschi and Genaveo Human. Armadale’s three-game wining run was brought to a halt last time out but Brad Hassell is confident they’ll bounce back quickly. What influence Danny Mahoney and Gary Faria can assert will be vital attack-focused Marlon Ramirez serves suspension.
THE FIRST DIVISION IN PREVIEW
The derby clash between Morley Windmills and Bayswater City is the pick the sixteenth round of First Division fixtures. Very few teams have come away from Wotton Reserve with points this season thanks to a watertight Morley defence that has conceded only five times in eight games. But Bayswater are one of the competition’s form teams at the moment, hitting eighteen goals in three games, and head over the tracks seeking a fourth successive win.
First Division pacesetter Balcatta last week became the first State League side to hit 50 goals this season and you can be assured they’ll add a few more when they journey to second-from-bottom Ashfield. Wanneroo City, three points off top spot, have a slightly more difficult task under lights in the late game to a Rockingham City side whose misses have been considerably more than their hits this winter.
South West Phoenix are expected to take out maximum points by a comfortable margin away at Queens Park, for whom relegation now seems only a formality. Both Forrestfield United and Fremantle Spirit can re-assert their top four credentials when they go head-to-head at Hartfield Park. Gosnells City has lost just once in six outings and should continue the slow climb up the standing’s after visiting Dianella White Eagles.
OLIVER SAYS FAREWELL, BUT NOT GOODBYE
Paul Oliver is just hours away from playing what could well be his final game for Canning City. Having called Canning home for much of the past decade, 23-year old Oliver admits there’s a lot he’ll miss about the club when he returns to England next week. “I’ve been playing football for Canning since I was 14 so will obviously miss everyone involved at the club a lot, they have been like a second family to me over the years,” said Oliver, who has played just under 250 senior games since debuting as a teenager.
Moving back to England has been on the cards for some time. “My wife, son and I want to travel and have decided to base ourselves in familiar surrounds - sunny Middlesbrough!,” said the 23-year old. “I miss the history and culture on offer in Europe and am really looking forward to getting back there and experiencing it all with my family. In terms of football, I’ve been given the opportunity to trial and hopefully play with Whitby Town in the Unibond League. I just hope that I can perform well enough and that my dodgy knees hold up!”
It was clear Oliver had something special to offer when as a fresh-faced 15-year old he made his first team debut for Canning. State Under-16 honours following within the year and in 2002 Oliver captained the Fremantle Under-18’s to regular season glory. The subsequent three seasons were played at Canning, for whom he represented the State at Under-19 level and in 2005 was awarded the clubs’ Player of the Year. After another season in the top flight, this time at Cockburn, served to focus Oliver’s resolved on leading Canning into the top flight. This he achieved in 2008 when Canning stormed their way to the First Division championship without losing a game.
And it was that runaway success of last season that Oliver ranks as the high point in his playing career to date. “Winning the First Division title last season unbeaten is very hard to match and is without a doubt the highlight for me,” said Oliver, who has made 127 appearances for Canning leading into tomorrow’s game at Sorrento. “I was part of the State Under-16’s that lost in the final of the National Identification Championships in 2001 - that was a great accomplishment from a superb team. And on a personal note I was invited to and trial with then English Premier League side Charlton Athletic.”
Frank Longstaff, coach of Canning, says Oliver’s departure will leave a very big hole in his midfield. “When I took over in 2004 Paul had an indifferent disciplinary record but over the years he has managed to curb that and, although he has the odd indiscretion, I wouldn’t have it any other way as he plays on emotion,” commented Longstaff. “In my opinion Paul is one of the top three midfield players in the State on his day and I wouldn’t swap him for any other player, he is irreplaceable …and I see no reason why he won’t be as big a success at Whitby as he has been for Canning.”
It’s with great pride that Oliver looks back on what Canning have achieved since turning semi-professional. “Every time I don the Canning shirt I am proud to see how far myself and the majority of the other longstanding players and management have brought the club,” he said. “Entering the league in 2001 with a squad with an average age of 17, we obviously found the going tough and struggled. But over the years pretty much the same group of players have matured together to take the club into the Premier League whilst being one of the most exciting teams to watch … I am very proud to have been part of it all.”
Although he could have been playing Premier League for many years, Oliver has absolutely no regrets about staying loyal to Canning. “It’s been a roller-coaster ride that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and wouldn’t change a thing,” he said. “There are too many names to mention that I would like to thank but Frank Longstaff and Malcolm Watson are worth their weight in gold and Canning are lucky to have them both. I hope that at some stage in the future I can once again wear the number ten shirt at Canning that I’ve worn since our inaugural season - if they’ll have me! And good luck to the boys in the top five series.”
INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL, THE A-LEAGUE PREVIEW
Version 5 of the A-League promises to be the biggest and best edition to date of Australia's revamped national football competition. The addition of big spenders Gold Coast United and the Robbie Fowler led North Queensland Fury is sure to generate extra interest in the league, while fans across the country are excited by the Australian return of several Socceroos, amongst them Jason Culina, Chris Coyne, Jacob Burns, Mile Sterjovski and David Williams. The fact that these players are back from abroad at or near the peak of their careers highlights the growing credibility of the competition. This week Tom Della Vedova profiles all ten A-League clubs before the footballwa.net team share their predictions on how the 2009/10 A-League will pan out ...
SWAN'S DUGDALE SIGNS OFF ON A HIGH
Defensive midfielder Paul Dugdale ended his eight-game stint with Swan United by playing his part in the weekend win at Armadale. Helping the black and whites pick up another points and move that little bit further away from the from zone was the perfect way for Dugdale to thank Swan for an enjoyable past few months. "Both David (Perich) and I knew how big the game was for us and the club, and were determined to come away from our last game with a win," he said. "I thought the first half was evenly poised but in the second our quality came through, and I felt it could have easily been four or five."
Dugdale, who jetted out of Perth this week with team mate David Perich to resume their studies at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, has absolutely no regrets about spending his vacation with the black and whites. "My time in Perth has been great. It's been a good experience and I've especially enjoyed my time playing with Swan," he said. "Paul Lincoln, the players and everyone at the club have been great to me and made sure I felt welcome from the off. The club has a great environment, a real close knit set of players and staff. It makes training and match days enjoyable, and people are there for the love of the game, which is a big appeal."
Coach Paul Lincoln thanked Dugdale as well as Perich, who scored four times during his short stay, for their contribution to the side. "Both have been great for the club and I'd like to wish them all the best with their studies," said the black and whites boss. "Paul has been great for the team and he will be missed, he had an impact in all games. He's technically good, reads the game well and is a good decision maker - all in all a quality player."
In fact, Swan may not have seen the last of Dugdale with the midfielder already making plans for a return in the not too distant future. "I want to give football a go in England once I graduate, and whilst I am still young," said the former Burnley trainee. "I love England but also want to venture the world a bit, and come back to Australia. I have spoken to the club about coming back next year and they seem keen so I don't see why not. Hopefully, we can stay in touch and things can be sorted for next season."
YOUNG SNAPPED UP BY NEWCASTLE
State team goalkeeper Neil Young has realised his dreams by signing a one-year contract with A-League club Newcastle Jets. Young, who has been playing with Victoria Premier League club Melbourne Knights since late May, has been brought into the fold as a back-up for high-rated youngster Ben Kennedy. “It’s obviously one of the most exciting times that I’ve had in my career,” commented Young, who helped Sorrento to three Premier League titles during his decade with the club. “I’m definitely up for the challenge and it should be a great season hopefully not only for myself, but for the club too.”
Newcastle chief executive John Tsatsimas is delight with his club’s newest recruit. “Neil is a fine person and a very talented goalkeeper,” he said. “He has obviously had to bide his time throughout his career in order to find his first Hyundai A-League contract, but we’re delighted to have him on board and we believe that he will be a great asset for our club. It will be great to see both he and Ben Kennedy battle for the number one position as we embark on the new season.” Newcastle take on Wellington Phoenix in their opening fixture of the 2009/10 season at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Sunday.
BURNS FOCUSES ON THE JOB AT HAND
Perth Glory captain Jacob Burns has put his national team ambitions on the backburner ahead of Friday night’s A-League opener away to Adelaide United. The midfielder, along with fellow Socceroos Mile Sterjovski and Chris Coyne, has been linked with an end of season loan - possibly for Adelaide’s Asian Champions League campaign - to press his claim for a berth at next year’s World Cup. But Burns refuses to be sidetracked by such a move for the time being and is focused solely on getting three points at Hindmarsh Stadium. “I’m not really interested in any of that at the minute, the most important thing is the club football and getting a good start. If we don’t do that then there’s going to be no talk of going on loan or any of that,” he said. “I’m more interested in getting a good start with Perth Glory at the moment.”
Burns is wary of the threat posed by last season’s runners-up Adelaide in the first match of a two-legged road trip, which sees Glory facing a tricky visit to Wellington in round two. “Adelaide are a well-drilled side and to go as far as they did in the Asian Champions League is full credit to the kind of squad they’ve got together,” Burns said. “So we’re by no means going there thinking it’s going to be easy. Being a short season, we can’t afford to slip up anywhere. We want to get off to a good start and we’ll be doing everything in our power to do that. We would be happy with four points, you know, a win and a draw away. Look, there’s pressure on Adelaide also to go out and play well in front of their home fans and I think we’ve got enough quality in the team to hold them off and nick a goal or build from there.”
SOCCEROOS CALL-UP FOR RUKAVYTSYA
Nikita Rukavytsya has earned his first call-up to the senior national team as Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek prepares for next week's friendly with the Republic of Ireland in Limerick. Rukavytsya's strong pre-season form for Dutch club FC Twente has been rewarded with a place in Verbeek's 22-player squad alongside fellow West Australian's Adrian Madaschi and Rhys Williams, who made his international debut against Japan in June. Wednesday's game will be the second meeting between thw two nations, the only previous game being won 2-1 by the Republic of Ireland in Dublin in mid-2003.
The Australian squad to play the Republic of Ireland is James Holland, Brett Holman (AZ Alkmaar), Aaron Mooy (Bolton Wanderers), Scott McDonald (Celtic), Oliver Bozanic (Cheltenham Town), Nick Carle (Crystal Palace), Luke Wilkshire (Dinamo Moscow), Ante Covic (IF Elfsborg), Tim Cahill (Everton), Mark Schwarzer (Fulham), Harry Kewell (Galatasaray), Mile Jedinak (Genclerbirligi), Jade North (Incheon United), Patrick Kisnorbo (Leeds United), Rhys Williams (Middlesbrough), Matthew Spiranovic, Dario Vidosic (FC Nurnberg), Mark Bresciano (Palermo), Adrian Madaschi (Portogruaro-Summaga), David Carney (Sheffield United), Nikita Rukavytsya (FC Twente) and Lucas Neill (uncontracted)
INJURY CONCERN OVER NEVILLE
Promising young defender Scott Neville is the latest Perth Glory player to visit the treatment room just days before the club’s A-League opener against Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium on Friday. The 20-year old, who injured a foot in training, will have intensive therapy in a bid to be fit to take on last season’s beaten grand finalists. “He’s got a bit of a knock and we’re looking at it,” coach David Mitchell said. “It was quite painful but we’re addressing it now and hopefully he’ll come through it.” Jamie Harnwell (hamstring), Wayne Srhoj (hamstring), Jimmy Downey (knee) and Anthony Skorich (hip) have already been ruled out and Neville’s absence would force Mitchell to seriously rethink his plans.
HIGGINS BACK TO HIS BEST
ECU Joondalup have moved themselves away from the drop zone in recent weeks and a big part of the club's revival has been the outstanding form of John Higgins. Having struggled with both fitness and form at the beginning of the winter, 23-year old Higgins sat down for a chat with coach Syd Amphlett and soon after was back to his brilliant best. "I had a real slow start to the season with a few issues and I struggled with fitness," Higgins explained. "I actually got frustrated, but had a chat with the gaffer and really worked on my fitness. I'm feeling in top condition now and I hope we can get on and have a good second half of the season."
Although Joondalup battled through the opening months of the season, recent wins against then Premier League leaders Perth SC and Inglewood United have shown what the side are capable of when they put their mind to it. "I think in the last couple of weeks we have realised that if we work hard as a team the result will sort itself out," he said. "Technically it's one of the best ECU sides, yet we were just short of confidence and a bit of belief. It was really tough getting out of the losing way but the win against Perth was huge and seems to have sparked us back into winnings habits."
Higgins says the arrival of Perth Glory Youth midfielder James Sammut has more than made up for the absence of Scott Bushby, who'll shortly return from an overseas break. "Scott was a big loss, he scored a lot of goals from midfield, but James has found he's feet in the middle of the park," commented Higgins. "he's a quality player, he's got a huge engine and is very comfortable on the ball, I think he has a big future in the game. In the second half of the season Dale McCulloch and James will form a real strong partnership and will be hard for a lot of teams to break down."
Coach Amphlett has been delighted with Higgins' application in past weeks. "John has been in fantastic form recently ... he is a fitness fanatic and usually runs to training. He has turned down several offers of going elsewhere and hopefully is happy at ECU for a few years to come," said Amphlett, who believes Higgins has been spurred on by his younger sibling. John is great to work with and now having his younger brother in the first team squad - Andy is with Glory Youth - has meant he has had to up his game."
"I was at Birmingham City on a three-year scholarship. I was 15 at the time and the English lifestyle and being away from everyone back here got to me a bit. It was a choice I made to move back here, the experience was good but tough and the English game is very hard to adjust too," explained Higgins, who at one stage was close to landing a Perth Glory. "I don't know much of the details but the club was going through a change in staff and committee (at the time) … I'm enjoying playing at ECU at the moment, the lads are great and I'm enjoying my football."
Joondalup are well known for unearthing teenage talent and there are plenty of future first team players currently bubbling just under the surface. "The young lads at the club are brilliant. Ryan Williams has the quickest feet I think I have ever seen in my life, he has a huge future in the game. James Sammut is another who I think has a lot of potential to play at a higher level, and I still can't believe Tommy Amphlett is playing at this level, he would be a great asset to an A-League club," Higgins said. "Our under-18's this year are unbelievable to, I think if they aren't snapped up overseas then the future looks bright for the club."
JONES OUT FOR START OF THE SEASON
Injury to Brad Jones has opened the door for veteran Danny Coyne to claim the number one spot at English Championship club Middlesbrough. Coyne, 36, joined Boro on a free transfer from Tranmere United during the off-season and was expected to provide competition for Jones, who is manager Gareth Southgate's preferred goalkeeper. However, shoulder and knee injuries will sideline the Socceroo for three weeks leading the manager to opt for Coyne when Boro kick off their Championship campaign on Friday at home to Sheffield United. "We think Brad will be out for three weeks, so that's not ideal," said Southgate. "But that's why we brought Danny Coyne in with his experience. He's played for his country, he's played in big matches and he's a good talker. We've also got Jason Steele who we feel has got a big future ahead of him, so there's a good balance and cover there."
HALPIN TO PLAY A BIG ROLE IN ROCKINGHAM’S FUTURE
Rockingham City has appointed former Perth Glory striker Scott Halpin as their new Junior Director of Football. Halpin, 38, returned to the Rockingham senior line-up recently following a year out of the game with injury. He has been busy this season coaching juniors in what has become a very successful part of the clubs' and players' development. "Scott's appointment to this role is an important move for the club," said Rockingham first team coach Paul O'Brien. "His knowledge, experience and football contacts will be a valuable aspect to the players and football community."
Halpin has been doing his bit to ensure the club's successful future by coaching at junior level, a role that will be extended this summer by the introduction of Rockingham's Academy program. The Academy will have three age groups - Under-12, Under-14s and Under-16 - and will provide additional training for those local players who have that little bit extra to offer the sport. The program will assist in identifying local talent and provides a possible pathway into State League, national or international football. Rockingham's Academy is set to begin in October and will run through to March 2010.
NATIONAL TEAM HONOURS FOR LOCAL QUARTET
Four up-and-coming young West Australian players have been selected in the Jan Versleijen's Australia squad for the ASEAN Football Federation Under-19 Youth Championship. Goalkeepers Mark Birighitti, and Nick Feely, midfielder Cameron Edwards and striker Eli Babalj are amongst 20-players selected for the tournament, which starts tomorrow in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The Young Socceroos play Singapore (4 August), Thailand (6 August) and Cambodia (8 August) in the group phase with the top two ranked teams progressing to the semi-finals.
Versleijen will use this week's tournament to introduce to the players the style and standard of play that is required at national team level. "We had a very productive training camp in Sydney recently which was the first time this group of players, from a mixture of clubs and backgrounds, had got together," said the coach. "I had to make a number of changes to the final selection due to injuries to some players which has allowed other players to get a chance. It will be now up to those players to take the opportunity and show what they can do to confirm their position in future teams."
The Australian squad for the AFF Under-19 Youth Championship is Mark Birighitti (Adelaide United), Kliment Taseski (Altona Magic), Eli Babalj, Brendan Hamill, Jared Lum (Australian Institute of Sport), Daniel Bowles, Joshua McVey, Tyler Thurtell (Brisbane Roar), Mathew Leckie (Bulleen Lions), Brendan Griffin (Central Coast Mariners), Cameron Edwards, Nick Feely (Cockburn City), Zachary Anderson, Steven Lustica, Koh Satake (Gold Coast United), Dylan McGowan (Hearts), Petar Franjic, Joshua Groenewald (Melbourne Knights), James Virgilli (Newcastle Jets) and uncontracted Jason Davidson.
EX-MINISTER ADDED TO FOOTBALL WEST BOARD
Former government minister Bob Kucera has accepted a position on the board of Football West. Kucera, who joined the board this week along with Joe Claudio and Anna Liscia, believes the round ball code is set to claim its rightful place on the local scene. “Football has traditionally lagged behind the other major sports and the time is right to lift it up to the elite level where it is recognised in very other part of the world,” said Kucera. Australia’s appearance at next year’s World Cup finals and Football Federation Australia’s bid to host either the 1018 or 2022 tournaments would provide the impetus for improvement and growth in WA Kucera added.
Kucera been given the task of helping the code establish a central administration and training base. Football West is crammed into accommodation at Gibbney Reserve in Maylands, while Perth Glory, who does not have their own training base, have inadequate office space at ME Bank Stadium (formerly Members Equity Stadium and Perth Oval). “The important thing is to create a brief that we can present to all levels of Government … to the corporate world and to the supporters of football generally,” Kucera said.
Football West chairman Kevin Campbell is excited by the appointments of Kucera, Claudio and Liscia. “The three new Directors will all provide valuable experience in their related fields in servicing the 33,000 registered football players in Western Australia,” he said. “We are entering an exciting period of growth for our great game and we are confident that we are now well placed with the expertise to maximize our potential and drive the game forward to even greater heights.”
Kucera, Claudio and Liscia have accepted positions as Directors of the Company and will serve terms until the 2010 financial year Annual General Meeting. Claudio was chairman of the Perth Kangaroos, who swept their way to the 1994 S-League title, and is the holder of life membership with the Western Australian Amateur and Social Soccer Association. Liscia is an experienced legal expert, member of the Legal Practice Board of WA and the principal of Liscia and Tavelli Legal Consultants.
YOUNG SOCCEROOS COACH PLEASED WITH ARGENTINA VISIT
The Australia Under-20 team have successfully completed a four-game trip to Argentina. Coach Jan Versleijen was pleased with what he saw from the next generation of Socceroos, who defeated the United States of America, drew with Argentinos Juniors, were out-shot on penalties by Uruguay and lost to club side C.A. Tiro Federal on a whirlwind seven-day visit. "The tour has been very successful from playing South American teams and we have learnt a great deal leading into the Under-20 World Cup," said the coach. "This has provided me with further information on our players as I work towards selecting the final squad."
The Young Socceroos held Uruguay to a scoreless draw over 90 minutes only to go down on penalties in their opening match of the Copa Ciudad de Rosario tournament in Rosario. In an evenly balanced first half, Australia's best opportunity came just after the half-hour when Jason Hoffman shot over the crossbar when faced with only the goalkeeper. Australia took control in the second half and Kofi Danning was unlucky not to find the net with a stinging shot that rebounded into play off the post. With the teams' deadlocked at the end of regulation time, Uruguay emerged victorious 4-3.penalties.
Two days Australia went down 2-1 to Argentinean club side C.A. Tiro Federal, who went ahead with only 5 minutes on the clock. That lead lasted just thirteen minutes before Chris Payne got on the end of a looping Rocco Visconte cross to head in his first international goal. Tiro Federal hit back just a couple of minutes later when a defensive error was punished as a striker converted at the second opportunity after Alex Cisak blocked the initial shot. The Young Socceroos push hard for another the equaliser in the second half without success, even though Tiro Federal had a player red carded late in the game.
Three goals in the last six minutes saw the Young Socceroos dramatically defeat the United States 3-1 on Wednesday and claim third at the Ciudad de Rosario. The United States took the lead in the 28th minute through a terrific shot from the edge of the 18-yard box which gave 'keeper Andrew Redmayne no chance. After going close on several occasions, Australia finally equalised in the 87th minute when Chris Payne set up Jason Naidovski who calmly placed to the 'keeper’s left. Three minutes later Rocco Visconte crossed into a congested box where Isaka Cernak pushed the ball over the line. Chris Payne sealed victory in stoppage time by slotting into the net after Aaron Mooy unselfishly squared on the counter-attack.
The Young Socceroos completed their visit by holding the Argentinos Juniors youth team 2-2 in Buenos Aires. Having conceded midway through the first half, Australia equalised on 65 minutes when Aaron Mooy converted from the penalty spot by sending the 'keeper the wrong way. A mistake by Andrew Redmayne gifted Argentinos Juniors a 71st minute lead. But Australia were by no means finished and a slick move five minutes later saw Mooy put the ball with Chris Payne, whose cross from the edge of the area was headed in at close-range by Jason Hoffman.
The Australia Under-20 squad which played in Argentina featured Nikola Stanojevic (Australian Institute of Sport), Aaron Mooy (Bolton Wanderers), Peter Cvetanovski (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Isaka Cernak, Luke DeVere, Mitch Nichols (Brisbane Roar), Andrew Redmayne (Central Coast Mariners), Tahj Minniecon (Gold Coast United), Rocco Visconte (Hearts), Alex Cisak (Leicester City), Nathan Elasi (Melbourne Victory), Jason Hoffman, Jason Naidovski, Nik Tsattalios (Newcastle Jets), Osama Malik (North Queensland Fury), Kofi Danning, Antony Golec, Matthew Jurman, Sam Munro and Chris Payne (Sydney FC).
KNIGHTS GO TOP AFTER DOWNING FLOREAT (with Chris Corriea, Football West)
Western Knights scored late in each half to see off Floreat Athena 2-0 and claim outright leadership of the Premier League at the end of Round Fifteen. Floreat's failure to convert chances into goal on a sunny at Litis Stadium was punished as Anthony Campbell nodded the Knights ahead just before the break with Mario Marcinko converting a stoppage time penalty to secure the visitors all three points. There were few genuine scoring chances created in an opening half-hour that threatened to boil over on a number of occasions, referee Stephen Gregory issuing several bookings that could so easily have been cards of another colour. Both sides looked threatening when pushing into the final third, the skills of Johnny Mirco and Daniel Neiderberger giving the Floreat faithful good reason for optimism while the visitors main attacking came from David Micevski and Anthony Campbell.
Alex Dunn ensured the teams remained level with a fantastic save, David Micevski delivering a dangerous ball from the right to the back post where Cormac Dawson's powerful header appeared destined for the top corner until, from out of nowhere, the Floreat custodian thrust out a glove to concede a corner. The Knights grabbed the all-important go-ahead goal on 44 minutes, David Micevski latching on to a fine through ball from Campbell and, after making his way to the top of the 18-yard box, the midfielder unleashed a bullet-like shot which Dunn spectacularly kept out, however, Campbell had continue his run and was well-positioned to nod in the follow-up at close-range.
Mirco nearly brought the home side level shortly after the break but his powerful shot on the turn was narrowly wide after being teed-up by Neiderberger. David Micevski's attempt from the edge of the area brought the Knights' supporters to their feet, however, Dunn's fingertip save prevented the visitors doubling their lead. Marcinko went on a brilliant run down the right which took him past several opponents before playing a low ball across the face of goal before it was stopped by Simon Elton-Bott and cleared by Dean Apelgren. The result was put beyond doubt when Marcinko made no mistake from the penalty spot following a foul on Stanford Hepburn by Apelgren, who left referee Gregory no choice but to issue a red card for the last man challenge.
DESPOTOVSKI PREDICTS AN END TO GLORY FINALS DROUGHT
One of Perth Glory’s most popular former players has joined the growing throng of pundits tipping the WA club to end its A-League finals drought this season. Striker Bobby Despotovski, who led Glory to National Soccer League titles in 2002/03 and 2003/04, has been impressed with the quality recruits brought in by coach David Mitchell and expects fans to be lapping up finals soccer at the end of the home and away campaign.
A top-six finish will be enough to earn a finals place in this season’s expanded ten-team competition but Despotovski, scorer of 113 goals in 241 Glory games, and believe the club can climb into fourth position. “They’ve spent a hell of a lot of money for the signings, which is good,” Despotovski, a member of the club’s inaugural squad, told Jonathon Cook of the ‘West Australian’ newspaper. “This is the first time for a long time that people are actually looking forward to the start of the season. There is a lot more buzz about it in town.”
Coach Mitchell took a patient approach to recruitment and it paid off handsomely when he landed Socceroos trio Mile Sterjovski, Chris Coyne and Jacob Burns, former English Premier League defender Andy Todd and ex-German top flight striker Branko Jelic. Their late arrival, however, has proved troublesome with Todd suffering a back problem and Burns straining a hamstring just weeks into pre-season training. Hamstring injuries have also dogged Wayne Srhoj and Jamie Harnwell.
However, not everyone is convinced Glory have the depth to seriously challenge for an A-League title, with Gold Coast United boss Miron Bleiberg chief among the doubters. Mitchell, though, already had the nucleus of a strong squad - Harnwell, Srhoj, Jamie Coyne, Victor Sikora, Eugene Dadi, Naum Sekulovski and Adriano Pellegrino have bags of experience - while young defender Scott Neville and exciting midfielder Andrija Jukic have shown no signs of being overawed on the big stage.
Glory have lost last season’s equal top scorer Nikita Rukavytsya, who this week made his Champions League debut for Dutch club FC Twente against Sporting Lisbon. But Dadi, who also scored ten goals last season, is on board for another season, while Sterjovski and Jelic add more attacking options. Defensively, the combination of Chris Coyne, signed from Colchester United, and ex-Blackburn centre-half Todd, should provide a sterling barrier.
Though the presence of three Socceroos is an indication of the quality in the squad, it could also work against Glory, with club captain Burns, Chris Coyne and Sterjovski all desperate to win a place in Pim Verbeek’s World Cup squad next year. Football Federation Australia this week released a program of seven Socceroos matches to be played during the A-League season, which could rob Glory of their international trio for important club games.
It is understood the trio will not be called up for the 12 August friendly away to the Republic of Ireland, which is wedged between Glory’s first two games away to Adelaide United and Wellington Phoenix. But matches against Korea (5 September), the Netherlands (10 October), Oman (14 October and 14 November), Kuwait (6 January, 2010) and Indonesia (3 March) could cause headaches for Mitchell. The Glory coach has flagged requesting the postponement of some matches if key players are called up.
PERTH SLIP UP AT INGLEWOOD (by Michael Bate, Football West)
Perth SC's chances of finishing with regular season honours suffered a setback when held to a 1-1 draw by Inglewood United on a sunny afternoon at Clipsal Stadium. A late goal by Rory Grant cancelled out Antonio Naglieri's second half opener to push Perth down the table to second, two points behind new leaders Western Knights, at the end of fifteen rounds of fixtures. Inglewood took to the field with a packed midfield and a lone man in the final third, suggesting their intention was to prevent Perth playing the free-flowing style for which they are renown. It was a tactic that worked a treat as the home side dominated the first half and continually pressured their opponent into errors.
The ball had been in motion only a couple of minutes when a defensive lapse presented Grant with a look at goal but the striker scuffed harmlessly wide of Luke Martino's goal. Albert Osei-Tutu went close after Matt Wardle's cross made its way through to him, before Jason Colli forced Martino into a fine save at the near post after being fed by Grant. Osei-Tutu created, but then wasted, the best chance of the half on 36 minutes, a brilliant exchange with Grant and Alex Stamatiadis putting the lively attacker through one-on-one with Martino, who smothered the initial shot and watched gleefully as the Inglewood man fired high with the follow-up. It was soon after that Perth registered their first shot on goal, a sharp turn and volley from Naglieri which flew just wide.
Perth coach Graham Normanton brought Ian McMurray on at the break, and the move almost paid immediate dividends the big striker won a 51st minute free-kick, from which Greg Sharland forced a fine save out of Oliver Taseski. David Onoforo should have done better that place high of the crossbar after being set-up by Naglieri, and minutes later McMurray played a tidy one-two with Onoforo but volleyed against the bar, however, the linesman's flag had already been raised. Perth's pressure finally brought them a goal in the 62nd minute when Naglieri fired a free-kick past the helpless Taseski after the midfielder had been fouled on the edge of the 18-yard box.
Inglewood went in search of an equaliser and would have had one had Trent Kay not cleared Grant's header off the line. Martino then foiled Colli for the second time with desperate parry before making a much easier save from Dannie Richman's weak header. The home side snatched a dramatic leveller when Grant rose highest to guide Wardle's deep cross back across Martino and inside the far post. Perth had a shout for a penalty turned down when the ball seemed to strike Daniel Kovacevic's hand when under pressure from Onoforo. A late corner should have led to a winner for Perth but Craig Simpson scuffed his shot as the ball fell to him at the back post.
MANDURAH TOO GOOD FOR CANNING (with James Wragg, Football West)
Mandurah City collected three valuable points by defeating a resilient Canning City 3-2 at Willetton Sporting Complex. Nicky Platt, Jake Loreto and Farrell Hedges got on the scoreboard for the visitors, however, it was spectacular finishes by Simon Versaico and Daniel Trevisiol that had the crowd talking at the end of 90 minutes. Canning started brightly and a scramble inside the 18-yard box after 5 minutes saw the ball bobble close to the goal line before George Tchami squirted a shot high and wide to let away team off the hook. Mandurah thought they had taken the lead on 13 minutes when Craig Young squared the ball for Hedges who buried the chance but the linesman flagged him offside.
Versaico was lively up front for the hosts and after dazzling his marker with some step-overs blasted against the post. Four minutes later Versaico was in the action again, this time winning a penalty after going down under pressure from Ryan Townsend. Phil Straker guessed the right way to block the spot kick by Paul Oliver, who appeared to have his legs tapped by the 'keeper as he pounced on the follow-up, however, referee David Scragg waved away the home teams appeals for a second penalty. Although chances were few and far between, Canning looked the more likely to score and would have done so if not for some desperate defending in another goalmouth scramble.
The intensity was taken up a notch for the second half as the two sides battled for the lead. The deadlock was eventually broken on 63 minutes by Versaico's powerful angled drive from 19-metres that beat the diving 'keeper to send Canning's fans into a frenzy. The lead lasted barely a minute before Mandurah hit back, a lightning attack down the right seeing Rafael Insurralde cross into the path of import midfielder Platt, who swept the ball into the net. Things got worse for Canning as five minutes later Hedges threaded the ball into the path of Loreto who was just able to hold off his marker and chip advancing 'keeper Kenny Fygtnogiannis.
Canning responded with a period of sustained pressure for which they were rewarded on 76 minutes, Roberto Lujan's corner was partially dealt with by the home side as Trevisiol volleyed acrobatically into the net from the edge of the area to being the teams level. Unfortunately for Canning, disaster struck seven minutes from full-time as Ftynogiannis failed to control a back pass, the ball rolling into the path of Hedges and he made no mistake in drilling into an empty net to seal victory for the visiting side. With result consolidates Mandurah's place amongst the top five, whereas Canning remain three points outside the play-off spots.
SUPER-SUB MONTGOMERY SWOOPS LATE FOR GULLS (by Tim Lefort, Football West)
Stuart Montgomery came off the bench to hit a dramatic stoppage-time winner for Sorrento, who came from behind to beat Cockburn City 2-1 at Dalmatinac Park. Joseph Brunetto put the home team in front midway through the second half only for Danny Hill to restore parity soon after in a match that didn't really come to life until after the break. The Gulls refusal to give up the chase earned nothing but praise from coach Steve Neville, who team moves up into sixth position. "All credit to the boys, they showed a lot of character to come from a goal down," commented Neville. "I said to the boys before the game, it was the type of game if we won, we give ourselves a chance of getting in the top five - if we lose, we were in a fight at the bottom."
Neither side created much early on, Jason dos Santos going closest for the hosts with a low drive from 18-metres that forced goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock to get down smartly to save. Glen Thomas was desperately unlucky not to give Sorrento as 21st minute lead when his spectacular volley from the edge of the 18-yard box cannoned back off the upright. The visitors were enjoying a good period as Hill headed wide, and soon after the same player volleyed off-target, before Michael Ord hooked a close-range effort past the post after Cockburn failed to clear a corner. Ord was again in the action just before the break, heading a Stuart Banks corner wide.
Jason Dos Santos twice went close to putting Cockburn ahead in the minutes immediately after half-time, the midfielder flashing a low drive narrowly past the post and soon after he thundered into the crossbar. The Cockerels' danger man then turned provider by crossing into the path of Llewellyn Bake, who slid the ball agonisingly wide from 11-metres. Brunetto had been on the park only a few minutes when he chased a clever ball over the Sorrento defence but watched as his lob rebounded off the bar. However, Cockburn's frustration wouldn't last long and Brunetto smashed into the net from a metre to make sure Paul Natale's header crossed the line.
Sorrento were quickly back on level terms as Jason O'Byrne was unable to deal with Banks' lofted cross and Hill outjumped the Cockburn custodian to loop his header into the empty net. Ord headed a Thomas corner high with ten minutes remaining, then Montgomery had a shot cleared off the line by Ryan Pretorious. At the other end substitute Anthony Pereira saw his shot from the edge of the box charged down and, as the match ticked into stoppage time, it looked as though the points would be shared. But, with 92 minutes on the clock, Hill played the ball forward for Montgomery to coolly clip the ball past O'Byrne and give the Gulls three priceless points.
SWAN STUN WITH SECOND HALF BLITZ
Swan United moved clear of the relegation zone with a 3-1 come-from-behind victory over Armadale at Alfred Skeet Oval. The home side looked to be on course to record a fourth straight win after Gary Faria netted early in the second half. However, a trio of rapid-fire goals by Shane Webb, Damian Scali and Million Butshiire gave Paul Lincoln’s team a much-needed victory. “We needed a win today and the lads dug deep,” said teenage goal scorer Webb, who was delighted with his team’s performance. “It’s not been a good hunting ground for us over the years so to get the three points is fantastic, and it was nice to get on the score sheet too.”
Urged on by their vocal supporters, Armadale opened the brighter with Danny Mahoney releasing James Robinson after just 2 minutes only for goalkeeper Cory Hugo to come out quickly and save at the striker’s feet. Mahoney involved in the hosts next chance, the midfielder forcing a good save from Hugo after getting on the end of a Mo Atak corner. It was all one-way traffic as the home team piled on the pressure. Desperate defending thwarted Atak, Faria was denied from 10-metres by Hugo, then Robinson’s goalbound strike was blocked by David Perich. Swan didn’t create anything of substance until the half-hour when Paul Dugdale curled a free-kick over the crossbar. With this the visitors finally kicked into life and from another Dugdale free-kick Cole headed back across goal where Brendan Craig nodded high at close-range.
The second half opened with a storming run down the right by Atak whose cross found Robinson but Hugo was positioned to save his close-range volley. The home team took the lead they’d long been after on 53 minutes, Atak retrieving the ball deep on the right and laying to back for Matt Bennion to cross into the area where Faria spectacularly volleyed into the net from 7-metres. Swan coach Lincoln responded by switching Australia youth striker Butshiire into a more attacking role. The move almost paid dividends within minutes as Aaron Cole headed against the bar from a Dugdale corner. But the visitors weren’t to be denied and on 64 minutes Damian Scali flicked on a pass from Dom Ando to Webb, who got the ball ahead of ‘keeper Alex Pearson to slid the equaliser into an empty net.
The momentum was now with Swan and only another couple of minutes passed before they hit the front, Dugdale delivering an inch-perfect corner onto the head of an unmarked Scali who made no mistake scoring for the tenth time this season. The game was effectively ended on 68 minutes when Scali’s lofted pass caught the home defence flat-footed, allowing Butshiire to race clear and apply a low finish beyond Easton. The margin could have been greater had Webb not placed wide with a header soon after, then Easton kept out a long-range effort from John Mansaray. The final whistle was nearing when Dugdale crossed to an unmarked Webb but his shot was cleared off the line by Paul Harris.
O’CALLAGHAN GIVES STIRLING NEW HOPE
New signing Phil O'Callaghan has kick-started Stirling Lions season by scoring the only goal of today's meeting with ECU Joondalup at Macedonia Park. Although Stirling remain at the foot of the Premier League table, the 1-0 victory narrows to three points the gap on their relegation rivals and gives the club renewed hope of escaping the drop. A sunny afternoon began on optimistically for Joondalup as Jamie Watt neatly dinked over his marker only to spray across the face of goal. Tommy Amphlett's lightning pace and close control was of concern for the home team, and after exchanging passes with Watt and James Sammut he hit a vicious low drive from 18-metres only centimetres past the post. Jason Mirco was causing just as many problems at the other end and having cut in from the left and been allowed to advance on goal his shot drift past the angle of post and crossbar. Fearon should have give Stirling the lead when picked out unmarked by a far post Mirco cross which the towering striker headed straight at the goalkeeper Andy Petterson. The half closed out with another chance for Joondalup, Amphlett slicing narrowly wide after taming Scott Blackmore's bouncing pass.
Garin Collins low centre from the right minutes into the second period found Watt, his sharp turn on top of the area opened up space but the subsequent shot from 13-metres hit the side-netting. Nerves were jangling in the Joondalup camp soon after as Ludovic Boi forced Dan Allen into passing back to Petterson, who hoofed the ball to safety as Fearon rapidly close him down. An exquisite flowing move across the centre of midfield put ball into the path of Boi but after taking a few touches the youngster's shot on the run lifted high. Stirling was by this stage well in top and pressing hard for the lead. A foul on O'Callaghan just outside the area produced a home free-kick which Steve Hesketh swung wide of the top corner. The hosts efforts were rewarded with seven minutes to go when O'Callaghan touched the ball past the on-rushing 'keeper and angled into an empty net after being put behind the defence by Dean Evans' lofted pass from midfield. Joondalup had spent much of the half on the back foot but almost grabbed a hare of the points when an unmarked Watt headed against the crossbar at a corner.
PROMOTION ANOTHER STEP CLOSER FOR BALCATTA
Balcatta remain on course to win promotion to next year's top flight following a 6-1 demolition of Dianella White Eagles at Grindleford Reserve. Chances inside the first ten minutes to Bobby Klenkoski and Ian McKean were only a sign of things to come as the host club piled on the pressure. McKean made amends for his earlier miss on 14 minutes by heading in unopposed from an Ashley Rosendale corner. The margin was doubled soon after when Rosendale sent Matt Battigelli the wrong way from the spot after he'd been unnecessarily felled inside the 18-yard box. Poor marking by Dianella permitted Klenkoski to make it three-nil with a low drive from 20-metres midway through the half. It was only late in the half that the visitors began to threaten and when Igor Ilikj headed in unchallenged at a corner it looked as through a comeback might be on the cards.
Dianella were handed another lifeline eleven minutes into the second half when Rosendale was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence. However, this did nothing to stem the flow of goals with Brian McDonald capitalising on a defensive mix-up before tucking the ball into an empty net on 63 minutes. The ten men of Balcatta added another two minutes later, Klenkoski doubling his personal tally by slipping the ball past the approaching Battigelli. With eight minutes to go referee Tim Meehan proved that commonsense doesn't always prevail when he sent Klenkoski from the field for a second yellow card. Despite having two extra men on the park, Dianella failed to muster another goal and it was the hosts who found the net in the 85th minute when Andy O'Neill picked the ball up on the halfway line and outpaced the defence before delicately chipping into the far corner.
BAYSWATER MAKE IT THREE IN A ROW
Bayswater City picked up maximum points for the third successive time by dumping Rockingham City 5-0 at Frank Drago Reserve. It was clear this was not going to be Rockingham’s day when, in the 5th minute, goalkeeper James Wilde was sent off for a cynical foul on Ahmed Hafez. Salt was then rubbed into the wound as, in a move clearly rehearsed many times in training, Damien Catalano squared the ball into the box where Ryan Jeans fired into the net. Bayswater made full use of the extra man and on several occasions Hafez and Jeans found themselves in behind the defence.
In the 27th minute Catalano swung a corner to the near post where Anthony Jones rose unchallenged to head in goal number two. Unfortunately, Bayswater were dealt a cruel blow soon after with Jeans forced from the field suffering a hamstring injury. Tommy Jones came off the bench and could have added himself to the scoresheet inside a minute but slid the ball narrowly wide in a one-on-one with replacement ‘keeper Tim Smith. Half-time was looming when Calatano fed a pass in for Tommy Jones, who dispossessed a defender then beat the ‘keeper by firing into the roof of the net.
Any hopes Rockingham had of a second half comeback were put to rest within fifteen minutes of the re-start. 52 minutes had elapsed when Steve Worthy charged down the wing and cut the ball back for Hafez, who unselfishly laid it back for Anthony Jones to rifled first time across the ‘keeper for goal number four. The scoring was completed five minutes later when Hafez poked the ball into the net after pounced on a defensive error. Bayswater continued to dominate and would have had a few more goals to their credit by the final whistle if not for poor passing into the final third and some dubious off-side calls.
PHOENIX PUT FIVE PAST FORRESTFIELD (courtesy South West Phoenix)
South West Phoenix remain an outside chance of gaining promotion to the top flight following a 5-2 thumping of Forrestfield United 5-2 at WesTrac Stadium in Bunbury. The result keeps Phoenix in fourth place, nine points behind Balcatta but having played one game less than the First Division leaders. The home side was in the lead after 16 minutes, David Rodgers laying the ball off to Patrick Quinn whose precision drive from 17-metres was into the bottom corner. Rydeen Botha was presented with a great chance to equalise but uncharacteristically placed wide of the target when faced by goalkeeper Ryan Montgomery to beat. It was to prove a costly miss as in the 33rd minute Steve Suttie’s pass intended for Binnie was deflected into the net off a defender to increase the margin. Suttie was being afforded too much space down the left and in stoppage time picked out Binnie, who powerfully headed in hosts.
The second half opened with Forrestfield determined to force their way back into the game, the visitors enjoying the greater share of possession and forcing their opponents to focus on defensive duties. But that counted for nothing when Phoenix added a fourth to their tally on the hour, Montgomery capturing a corner and quickly releasing Quinn who sprinted the ball to the opposite end before squaring for James Bergin to coolly tap in from 8-metres. Forrestfield reeled in the difference eight minutes later via a goal mouth scramble in which a Phoenix defender was deemed to have got the final touch. Then, with 72 minutes gone, Suttie slipped inside his marker and cut the ball back for Rodgers to fire in from 9-metres. Botha scored the visitors’ second consolation goal in the final minute of regulation time by converting an easy chance at the far post.
MORE GLORY FOR CHICKEN TREAT
Chicken Treat, Western Australia's favourite quick service restaurant chain, has rejoined Perth Glory as a sponsor for the 2009/10 A-League season. Chicken Treat will sponsor match day volunteers, ball kids, and have the naming and apparel branding rights for the 'mascot for a day'. As a major player in the quick service restaurant industry since 1976, Chicken Treat enjoys iconic status in WA, and over the coming year will introduce some new and exciting product and service initiatives to further reinforce their position as the home of our favourite chicken.
Chicken Treat's Chief Executive Officer Jason Marlborough spoke of the importance of the sponsorship. "Big games, big names and big changes at Perth Glory are creating a very positive buzz leading into the new season, just like the buzz we are building at Chicken Treat," he said. "We're very happy to be back on board as sponsor as we believe there are great opportunities for both organisations through the partnership of two iconic WA brands. Chicken Treat is very proud to continue our long standing association of Perth Glory and we wish them a great season."
MSCHOOLS CHAMPIONSHIP KICKS OFF TOMORROW
The nations best teenager talent will gather in Rockingham next week for the 2009 School Sport Australia National Championships. Commencing on Sunday at Lark Hill Sportsplex, home of First Division club Rockingham City, the six-day tournament features male and female teams representing all seven states and territories. Upon completion of the championship, an Australian squad will be named to tour the United Kingdom in January/February next year.
Schoolboys coach Damon Atthowe says the teams preparation for the tournament has been far from ideal. "We've had issues with player's availability to train due to mid-week games for their clubs and other issues, which hasn't helped the build up for us," said Atthowe, who has coached the team for the past five years. "To make matters worse we've had to replace three players this week for a combination of reasons, and we've had to change four players from the original squad we named two months ago."
Those difficulties have been compounded by the actions of a number of State League clubs. "There are several issues we are facing, in particular clubs expecting and demanding that the boys play this Saturday when the tournament starts on Sunday," said Atthowe. "This is a disappointing situation for the players selected and I'm sure common sense will prevail. With WA hosting the tournament it would be a shame if these players - who are representing their state - were not given the backing of their clubs."
The Schoolboys will be lead by Cockburn City's Devon Gibson, who has represented the Schoolboys since 2007 and last year was honoured with a place in the Australian squad which toured the United Kingdom and Ireland. "The tour was great, it was a real good experience to play against some great footballers in the UK," he enthused. "The highlights was playing against England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland Schoolboys teams, some of which players are playing professional football."
Despite the dramas of past weeks, Atthowe is hopeful of a strong showing from his team. "Our preparation has been less than normal and to make so many changes so late will have an effect on our first couple of games," he said. "Still, those boys coming in will have a point to prove and the others have all got strong characters and will respond to the challenge."
Atthowe says how the Schoolboys go in their opening fixture will have a big bearing on their tournament. "We have New South Wales first up, they are the traditional powerhouse of the competition and how we fare against them will go a long way to determining our final position," said the coach. The Schoolboys then take on Victoria (Monday, 6.45pm), Queensland (Tuesday, 10.45am), the Australian Capital Territory (Thursday, 12.30pm) and South Australia (Friday, 9.00am).
The 2009 West Australian Scholboys squad consists of Jermaine Lewis, David Nairn (Armadale), Devon Gibson, Ryan Pretorius, Jamie Street (Cockburn City), Mitchell Crocker, Gerado Soto (Forrestfield United), Josh Pereira, Luke Randazzo (Perth SC), Todd Ross (Sorrento), Liam Boland, Tom Dixon (Stirling Lions), Max Clarke (Subiaco United), Alen Galic (Western Knights), Josh Pugh and Tim Robertson (clubs unknown).
The State Schoolgirls, coached by Tony Carvajal, open their campaign with a 10.30am showdown with New South Wales on Sunday. This is followed by games with Queensland (Monday, 5.00pm), the Northern Territory (Wednesday, 9.30am), the Australian Capital Territory (Thursday, 9.00am), Victoria (Thursday 2.15pm) and South Australia (Friday, 10.45am).
The 2009 West Australian Schoolgirls squad is Morgan Cox, Rebecca Davies, Ebony Drane, Hollie Farrell, Annique Keisler, Lindsey Kenyon, Jamie-Lee Gale, Jaymee Gibbons, Sadie Lawrence, Emily Murray, Joanne Randazzo, Kathryn Riley, Rachael Smith, Kristy Teschinsky, Corrin Walmsley and Emma Ylias.
THE PREMIER LEAGUE IN PREVIEW
Floreat Athena v Western Knights (Referee: Steve Gregory)
Litis Stadium is the place to be on Sunday afternoon when Western Knights come up against Floreat Athena (3.00pm). Knights midfielder Daniel Micevski is confident his team can continue the momentum which has taken them level on points with Perth SC at the top of the table. "Sunday is a big game for both sides, a win for Floreat is vital if they are to challenge for top spot, whereas a win for us will put us in a fantastic position. We're all focused on the game and were definitely looking forward to the match," Micevski said. The Knights will be without the towering defender Stuart Ferguson through suspension, but with David Annall and Okwy Diamondstar in good form they enter the afternoon as favourties.
Floreat has a good record against the Knights on home soil and Branimir Mikulic is looking forward to narrowing the gap on the leaders. "The boys are excited about the game this weekend and I know we will put in a good performance," he said. "Training has been very intense and the commitment of the team has stepped up another level. It is good to see the Knights back in the top half of the ladder but on Sunday it's a great opportunity for us to reduce the gap." New signing Miroslav Aleksic could make his league debut if his international clearance comes through in time, while Adam Bachiller, Jarad Smith, David Foster and Julian Madaschi are all back in contention. The game is broadcast live on 107.3 Heritage FM, coverage commencing at 2.45pm.
Inglewood United v Perth SC (Referee: Michael Nugus)
Inglewood United's hopes of ending a two-game losing run brings them up against Premier League leaders Perth SC at Clipsal Stadium on Saturday (3.00pm). With Mladen Kovacevic (suspended), Inglewood coach Alan Vest will be hoping for a big effort from Rory Grant while defensive stalwarts Oliver Taseski, Shane Pryce and Danny Kovacevic are sure to find themselves under some intense pressure. Antonio Naglieri and Ian McMurray are expected to return to the first eleven for Graham Normanton, who is minus Matt Danskin (hamstring), Giovanni Human (knee) and Simon Madaschi (thumb). Even so, Perth will be confident of getting a result having lost only once in their last five trips to Inglewood.
Cockburn City v Sorrento (Referee: David Costello)
Cockburn City can consolidate their spot amongst the top four by claiming victory against Sorrento at Dalmatinac Park (3.00pm). The Cockerels have soared above the Gulls in the last two encounters at Dalmatinac Park, and Scott Miller is looking to once again get the better of his former club. "Sorrento has been a bit up and down [but] we expect Steve Neville and Shaun Murphy to have them up this week," said Miller. "I have a lot of mates at Sorrento from my time there, so I'm looking forward to a good entertaining game." State Schoolboys commitments may prevent Nick Feely, Ryan Pretorius and Devon Gibson from turning out for the home team.
Canning City v Mandurah City (Referee: David Scragg)
Losses last week to both Mandurah City and Canning City has brought an added dimension to their mid-table meeting at Willetton Sporting Complex (3.00pm). "Both sides will be up for a tough game and hopefully we can get our passing game going which in turn should provide us with enough chances to win," said Canning boss Frank Longstaff. The return to England of Michael Rogers and Steve Maguire coupled with Jon Mathers' suspension and injuries to Paul Oliver and Duncan Hind has left Canning a little threadbare. Mandurah have only lost once on the road this season but this week will be without suspended trio Andy Brown, Stephen Payne and Jay Bonser.
Armadale v Swan United (Referee: Ross Sardi)
Another important mid-table contest takes place at Alfred Skeet Oval with Armadale up against Swan United (3.00pm). Teenage goalkeeper Alex Pearson has a key role to play, as does import striker James Robinson as the Reds attempt to register their fourth win in a row. Armadale has not been a happy hunting ground for Swan, who've lost on their last two visits, and coach Paul Lincoln recognises it's going to be tough trip. "Armadale are on a roll and no doubt that has to do with the quality of players they have brought in," he said. "We know that this game is a real challenge for us, and we're looking forward to it." Paul Dugdale comes back from suspension for Swan, however, missing will be Tom Shepheard, Trent Wood (both injured) and Robert Monterosso (suspended).
Stirling Lions v ECU Joondalup (Referee: Mat Cheeseman)
It's a must-win game for bottom-of-the-table Stirling Lions when they welcome ECU Joondalup to Macedonia Park (3.00pm). This week's recruitment of Phil O'Callaghan and Anthony Fearon will add bite to the Stirling attack and, together with the experience of Daniel Stoitis and Jordan Rhodes, gives the club renewed hope of climbing out of the relegation zone. Joondalup are a team revitalised by back-to-back wins and should they continue in the same vein the northerners could find themselves just outside the top five come Sunday evening. Steve Porter (suspended) remains absent, but with Tommy Amphlett, Dale McCulloch and James Sammut firing Joondalup should take out the points.
THE FIRST DIVISION IN PREVIEW
Promotion chasing South West Phoenix and Forrestfield United go head-to-head at WesTrac Stadium, Bunbury, in the pick of tomorrow's First Division action. The two teams have near identical records after fourteen rounds and what influence Patrick Quinn and Jordan Hart can have on the game will go a long way to deciding the outcome. The ledger is tilted slightly in favour of Phoenix who have not been beaten at home in five years by Forrestfield, and considering their poor away record in 2009 it really is difficult to see that winless run ending.
First Division pacesetter Balcatta will be hoping Dianella White Eagles have an off day for their visit to Graham Burkett Reserve. Queens Park have seen twenty-one goals go past them in three weeks and that trend is likely to continue when they journey to second-from-top Wanneroo City. Bayswater City go searching for their third win in a row when Rockingham City swing by Frank Drago Reserve. Fremantle Spirit should prove too strong for visiting Gosnells City, while Morley Windmills are expected to get the better of neighbouring Ashfield at Wotton Reserve.
FINALS IS JOONDALUP’S GOAL : MCCULLOCH
ECU Joondalup can draw upon the successes of the past fortnight as a springboard towards a late push to play final football according to midfielder Dale McCulloch. But although back-to-back wins against Perth SC and Inglewood United have catapulted the club up the Premier League standings, McCulloch says there’s still plenty of work to be done if they are to be a serious about making the play-offs. “It has been a great effort by the whole club but two wins on the trot don’t make us a finals team, we have eight games to make an impact and prove we are good enough,” he said. “The finals are in our now plans - it just shows how a couple of wins can change your mind-set.”
Until a few weeks ago Joondalup were languishing dangerously close to the last place, with some predicting the northern suburbs club would end the winter in the drop spot. McCulloch attributes his teams’ mid-season revival to having all hands back on deck. “We’ve had so many injuries, kids going for trials in England and players out through suspension that we have found it hard to place the same team on the park for two games on the trot,” he explained. “We have had a little bit of stability over the past three weeks and our performances in that time are starting to show that. And we still have Steve Porter and Scott Bushby to come into the squad.”
Saturday’s win over fellow finals contender Inglewood moved Joondalup to just three points outside the top five. “Beating teams around our position is so important at this time of year. The first half was okay but we really took it up to Inglewood in the second half and deserved the win at the end,” said McCulloch, scorer of the games’ only goal. “I’m not well known for scoring goals so it’s always nice to notch one, even if it was a penalty. The last time I took a penalty I pulled my groin muscle and missed the first eight weeks of the season so I was pleased that my body was in one piece after taking it!”
The earlier years of McCulloch’s career, which started at Kingsway Olympic, was littered with highlights. He collected a Premier League winner’s medal at the end of his first season with Joondalup and was soon after handed the captain’s armband. Ten months after leading the State Under-19 team at the 2001 Tournoi de Croix in France, McCulloch gained his senior State debut against South Australia. The following year was book-ended by victories in the pre-season Lightning Cup and the association Cup, where McCulloch scored the second goal in his team’s 2-1 defeat of Future Glory. Another Lightning Cup medal, this time in 2003 while at Sorrento, preceded another three season at Joondalup.
But the journey has not been quite so smooth in more recent times, injury getting the better of McCulloch as he attempted to mark his mark at Stirling Lions then Mandurah City. “I never really played much at Stirling, and I played three quarters of the year at Mandurah but the travel got to much,” commented 27-year old McCulloch. “To be honest I would much rather forget the past few years, the teams I went to treated me well but my fitness levels were not up to scratch. I also had a knee operation and there were some problems with my groins which didn’t help matters … but hopefully all that’s behind me.”
A move back to Joondalup was just what the doctor ordered for McCulloch, who says he is close to playing some of the best football of his career. “I feel I’m contributing the most I have for a long time now. We have very good midfielders in James Sammut, Dan Allen, Porter and Bushby and competing with players of that quality pushes you to be the best you can,” he said. “I have won League and Cup winners medals with other Joondalup sides, but if I won something in the next couple of years with these boys it would mean that little bit more because I watched most of these guys come up through the club and even coached some through the junior set-up.”
Saturday afternoon sees Joondalup on the road to face one of McCulloch’s former clubs, Stirling, who’ve been cut six points adrift at the foot of the table and are staring relegation in the face. “I have upmost of respect for Mick Lyons and Gary Church, I know they will have Stirling up for the game. We just have to keep focussed on what we are doing right and hopefully the result will reflect that,” commented McCulloch. “The finals are obviously why we want to win this game, but also important for us as a club is keeping the confidence of the younger boys up so they can develop at a faster rate than what they were.”
GARCIA OUT FOR THREE MONTHS
Hull City's plans for the coming English Premier League campaign have been rocked after learning Richard Garcia will miss the opening three months of the campaign. It had been thought the injury which caused the 27-year old Socceroo to miss his club's pre-season tour to China this week was only minor. But scans have revealed he's suffered a crippling knee ligament injury that could knock him out of first team action until Christmas. "Unfortunately its bad news and Richard could be out for up to three months," Hull manager Phil Brown told the Hull Daily Mail. "It was an innocuous training ground accident that sometimes happens in football. As it stands, Richard will be looking at a fairly lengthy lay-off." But he's had long term injuries in the past and I know he's strong enough to come back." The devastating blow at the start of the season could now jeopardise Garcia's place in the Socceroos and a possible trip to South Africa for next year's World Cup.
COYNE SETS HIGH STANDARDS FOR GLORY
Chris Coyne will not be wearing the captain’s armband for Perth Glory this season but the uncompromising defender intends to lead in every other sense as he strives for A-League success at the first attempt. Coyne, who was captain at his previous clubs Colchester United and Luton Town, said only total commitment from every player could lead the club out of the doldrums. “I just think if someone isn’t giving 110% to the cause they shouldn’t be part of our dressing room because we need to get that winning mentality,” Coyne said. “There’s nothing better than sitting in the dressing room with your mates after a game when you’ve just beaten someone and you look at each other and you know you’ve given 110% cent to get there.”
UNLUCKY MADASCHI SIDELINED BY INJURY
An unfortunate training ground mishap has ended Simon Madaschi’s dream of being an ever-present in his first season as the number one goalkeeper at Perth SC. Madaschi, 29, lined up between the posts for his club’s opening thirteen league games, however, that run was brought to an abrupt end by a dislocated thumb and damaged ligaments suffered days out from the derby with Swan United. “It was just one of those things,” Madaschi explained. “I was practising some crosses with the goalkeeper coach Glen Giudici and he knocked in a waist high cross at pace and it hit my thumb, dislocated the bone and it popped out of the skin. I’ve been advised by the plastic surgeon I’ll be okay in about three to four weeks.”
Madaschi, the son of ex-State team custodian Saverio Madaschi, started his career at Dorrien Gardens and is pleased to once again be a Perth player. “I must thank Normo (Graham Normanton) and John Coyne for showing great confidence in me, this being my first real uninterrupted season of Premier League football,” said Madaschi, who moved up the ranks to first team with Bayswater City and Balcatta. “I suppose Normo could have chosen two or three other local ‘keepers with more experience but he knows I have the right attitude and hard work ethic so I owe it to him to do my best.”
Having spend last season as understudy to Gareth Deeg and nothing wanting to play second fiddle for another year, Madaschi started 2009 in goal for Floreat Athena. “They needed a ‘keeper so with the prospect of being able to play first team football I made the move to the Litis Stadium,” Madaschi said. “I settled in well at Floreat and we were good enough to make it through to the Night Series final. But then the goalkeeping situation changed at Perth with Gareth leaving and Normo requested my return to the club. It was a huge decision for me, and after giving it a lot of thought I returned to Dorrien Gardens.”
With eight games to play Perth share top spot with Western Knights, and with Floreat Athena waiting for both to slip up Madaschi is tipping a tight finish to the season. “With the Top Five series I believe the champions race will go down to the wire. Floreat and the Knights will be right on our tails so it’s important to remain focused and positive and with a bit of luck we can finish on top, then take out the play-offs,” said Madaschi. “Normo was concerned with how many goals we had conceded half way through the season, but our defensive unit has tightened up and apart from the Joondalup game we have conceded one goal in our last four games.”
Perth is home to some of the state’s best young ‘keepers, something Madaschi attributes largely to one person. “It is important to note the effort and dedication our goalkeeper coach Glenn Giudici puts into training. He’s always pushing us to do our best and expecting nothing less, and the success of Tando Velaphi and Mark Birighitti are testament to his coaching,” said Madaschi. “Perth has an excellent stock of young ‘keepers at the moment, Luke Martino has proved that he can play first team and Jason Saldaris is looking good coming back from injury. And our Under-18 ‘keepers, Tim Doyle and Massimo Salomone, are looking excellent.”
Madaschi has soaked up the advice of many coaches over the years and singled out a few for special mention. “Through my junior football and going through the State team program Willie McNally and Paul Kelly helped shape my early years. And of late Glenn at Perth has helped me immensely in refining my ‘keeping and taking my game to another level,” he said. “Last but not least, my dad has been the biggest influence on my career, he was a well-known ‘keeper locally for Perth and in the national league as well as playing for Australia and representing the State on many occasions.”
While he’s enjoyed this season at Perth, Madaschi admits he’d jump at the opportunity to experience football at the next level should it arise. “I’ve always gave it 100% when I play and train and would like to continue at the highest level that I’m capable of,” he commented. “WA has always been known for producing good ‘keepers, and thanks to Neil Young doing well in Melbourne I’ve had a few clubs show some interest in me this season so anything is possible as ‘keepers tend to have a longer shelf-life than out-field players.”
HISTORY ON HORIZON FOR CANNING CAPTAIN
Paul Van Dongen will become the first Canning City player to clock up 200 senior appearances when he leads the team out for Saturday’s home game with Mandurah City. Van Dongen, 26, was part of Canning’s inaugural squad when they re-entered Saturday football eight years ago and has remained loyal to the club through thick and thin. “Paul played in our very first State League game in 2001 and has been part of the foundations on which the club has built its successful climb into the Premier League,” said club president Malcolm Watson. “Paul is a quality footballer who has shown a loyalty and passion for the club he has played at since he was in juniors. It has been a pleasure to watch him grow from a precocious teenager and achieve his ambition of playing Premier League football with the club that he loves. We look forward to his 300th game for the club.”
BANKS HOPED FOR MORE FROM HIS SWAN-SONG SEASON
Sorrento defender Stuart Banks planned to add a fourth Premier League winner’s medal to his collection at the end of his final season of football. Unfortunately, the winter has not gone as well as liked for the 33-year old, who was integral to the Gulls title successes of 2001, 2006 and 2008. “It would’ve been nice to go out on a high (last year) but I felt as though I had one more year at this level left in me. Plus the only trophy that has eluded me in my State League career is the Cup so I wanted another shot at that, so when we were dumped out by Stirling Lions it was bitterly disappointing,” said Banks, who’ll undergo a late test on a hamstring strain prior to this weekend’s game.
A strong off-season recruitment campaign had Sorrento as red-hot favourites to defend their crown this year, however, the hope of back-to-back trophies have slowly been whittled away by injury and departure. “We’ve had a lot of injuries, Brodie Martin and James Morgan haven’t played a game all season and Stuart Montgomery, Daryl Platten, Michael Ord and myself have all missed substantial games due to injury,” Banks explained. “Also, the players we brought in to strengthen our squad didn’t work out for one reason or another, Stevie Porter, Garrin Collins, Ciaran Hughes, David McNally, Leo Harman and Steve Payne were all with us during pre-season and have since joined other clubs.”
The recent 5-2 thumping of arch-rival ECU Joondalup followed by a narrow victory at Stirling Lions two weeks later have provided Sorrento a timely boost leading in the final rounds of the season. “Both wins were very important, we had only won one of the ten games prior to beating Joondalup so we really needed to stop the slump as losing can become a habit,” said Banks. “The Stirling game was the old cliché ‘six-pointer’ and to not only win that game but also get our first clean sheet of the season was a big confidence booster for us.”
Sorrento are one of eight teams who’ll slug it out it during the final two months of Premier League fixtures weeks for what is likely to be the two unclaimed play-off places. “It’s a very tight mid-table with only five points between fourth and eleventh,” said Banks, who recognises Perth SC, Western Knights and Floreat Athena as having already booked their finals spot. “It’s important you beat the teams around you because two or three wins in a row and you’re in a finals place, whereas lose those games and you could be bottom. We certainly believe that we are good enough to finish in the top five.”
Cockburn City provide Sorrento’s opposition on Saturday and although the Cockerels are riding high in fourth place Banks can see no reason why his teams can’t come home from Dalmatinac Park with the goods. “I don’t believe that if we beat Cockburn it would be an upset,” he stated. “We are confident that we will make the finals and the next five games are against teams in that mid-table pack. Like I said, things are very tight for those last two finals places and we are be looking at putting together a run that will have us in one of those places at the end of the season.”
O’CONNELL THRIVING IN BRISBANE
Calum O’Connell has absolutely no regrets relocating to Brisbane in pursuit of his football dreams. The 20-year old defender joined Brisbane Premier League club Brisbane Wolves in January, only a few short months after helping Sorrento lift the West Australian Premier League title. “A friend of mine suggested that I come over and play in Queensland, and he also offered me the chance to trial with Gold Coast United and Brisbane Roar,” explained McCallum. “It’s been an opportunity for me to take up a new challenge and be involved in an unfamiliar environment.”
Moving to the other side of the country and leaving behind friends and family has not been without its problems. “The first couple of months was little difficult but the people around me over here have been great and given me great support,” said McCallum, who represented the State at Schoolboys level last year. “My family back in Perth have been brilliant in keeping me going over here and are very keen to see me again, but they know I’m here to start the journey to hopefully become a professional footballer.”
Prior to moving east, the Brisbane Premier League was an unknown quantity for McCallum who has been pleasantly surprised by the quality of football played. “I’ve been impressed with the standard actually, there’s some really quality sides in Brisbane,” he said. “A lot of teams have ex-national league, European or current A-League professionals so you come up against players who have great experience and this increases the standard of the league. And as a young player you want to be playing against and with players with experience at the top level, whether here or elsewhere in the world.”
McCallum has been delighted with how far he has come in such a short time in Brisbane. “Being here has matured me as a person and as a player, my improvement has been out of sight” he commented. “I’m playing under a great coach in Sam Saif, who has had experience in the UK with Premier League sides and in the United States. He’s given me a lot of freedom and responsibility on the field and my confidence has grown immensely since joining the club. Playing here has given me more exposure as a player which, hopefully, will help me get an opportunity in the A-League.”
DESIRE FOR SUCCESS BURNS BRIGHT IN GLORY CAPTAIN
Jacob Burns will use the lessons learned from almost a decade in Europe to help steer Perth Glory to the A-League finals this season. The midfielder was honoured to have been selected as captain from a strong field of candidates, which included his Socceroos teammates Chris Coyne and Mile Sterjovski as well as former English Premier League defender Andy Todd. “It came as a shock and it’s an absolute privilege and honour to lead such a great club with a great history, great support and to be a leader of such a great group of guys,” Burns said. “There’s some fantastic talent in this team, both young and experienced.”
Burns arrived in Perth just three weeks ago with an impressive resume. After playing for Sydney United and Parramatta Power in the national league, a 21-year old Burns joined then English Premier League club Leeds United where he found opportunities limited by a succession of knee injuries and changes of team management. He moved to Barnsley, and occasionally skippered the English third-tier club through more than 100 appearances, before making a surprise transfer to Polish club Wisla Krakow. Burns then moved to Romania, where he helped Unirea Urziceni win the league last season and qualify for the UEFA Champions League.
But rather than stay on for another crack at Europe’s premier club competition, Burns decided the time was right to return to Australia with his wife and two young boys and he signed a three-year deal with Glory. The captaincy has been a bonus for the 31-year old, whose career started under Glory coach David Mitchell with Sydney. “It’s something that I’m not going to take lightly. I want to be a good captain and a leader on the pitch, someone the young lads can look up to,” Burns said. “I’m fortunate to have some great guys around me with a lot of experience. It will make my job so much easier having these guys, with a world of experience at the top level, around me.”
Capped ten times by Australia, Burns said he intended to lead the former national league powerhouse into the A-League finals for the first time. “There’s a great group of lads, lots of talent in the squad and it’s great to be back in Australia and leading us into the finals,” Burns said. “We’ve got a great mix. I think we’ve got a lot of youth, a lot of foreigners that have come in and it’s a great history. This club, when I used to come here ten years ago, they would win the league every year. So it’s my job to get the boys firing, to be a leader on the pitch and to get the crowds back here and to make finals football, so I’ll be doing everything in my power to do that.”
GOALS! GOALS! GOLS!
Every goal scored in the remaining eight rounds of season 2009 will be vital in the race for the coveted Golden Boot award. David Onoforo, recipient of the trophy in 2005, has spearheaded Perth SC’s quest for top honours with 11 goals in home and away competition to sit on top of the leader board. But hot on his heels are Western Knights young gun Mario Marcinko on 10 goals and veteran Damian Scali, who has netted 9 times for Swan United. Phil Arnold’s goal last week for Perth took him to 8 for the season alongside Caning City captain Paul Van Dongen, last seasons top scorer Phil O’Callaghan (Mandurah City) and one-time New Zealand international Brad Scott (Floreat Athena).
Off-season recruit Ashley Rosendale heads the field for the First Division leading scorer award with 13 goals for top of the table Balcatta. Team mate Bobby Klenkoski, South West Phoenix stalwart Steve Suttie and Forrestfield United’s rising star Jordan Hart have bagged 10 goals each with Dragan Njegic (Dianella White Eagles) just one strike behind. Ryan Jeans (Bayswater City) and Rodrigo Aguirre (Dianella) both scored four times last week to move alongside David Rodgers (South West) and Brian Cairney (Wanneroo City). Darren Francis (Gosnells City) sits level with Martin Sherwin (Morley Windmills) and Rydeen Botha (Forrestfield) on 7 goals, which is one more than Kailo Karpeh (Forrestfield / Queens Park).
ADELAIDE CLOSE TO SIGNING MADASCHI
Socceroos stopper Adrian Madaschi is tipped to join Adelaide United before the A-League season kicks off on 7 August. Adelaide coach Aurelio Vidmar confirmed he had been talking to Madaschi, 27, who has played the last few seasons for Italian club Portogruaro-Summaga. "At the moment nothing is signed. We're in that process with certainly two (defenders)," Vidmar said told the AdelaideNow website. Vidmar has been hunting for a stopper to bolster his defensive stocks since Sasa Ognenovski was traded to South Korean club Seongnam Ilhwa in January.
Madaschi, who started out as a junior at Perth SC, is expected to sign a $270,000-a-season two-year deal. The defender has played most of his senior football in Italy with Serie A club Atlanta Bergamo, Monza, Spezia, Grosseto, Pistoiese and recently Serie C1 club Portogruaro-Summaga. He also had stints in Scotland with Dundee and Partick Thistle. Adelaide players Iain Fyfe and Lucas Pantelis know what Madaschi can offer, the trio part of the Joeys side which finished runner-up to Brazil in the 1999 Under-17 World Cup final in New Zealand.
PLATT MAKES A SPLASH WITH THE DOLPHINS
Stuart Currie has bolstered his squad for the final months of the season with the recruitment of midfielder Nicky Platt from English non-League side FC United. The 21-year old stepped out as a Mandurah player just hours after getting off a plane from England, and a week later scored in his first start against Floreat Athena. “I thought I had had a decent game, the team defended incredibly and we had chances to win it late, which would have been a massive result,” he said of the draw with Floreat. “It was a great bonus scoring on my debut; hopefully I can get a few more to help the team push forward.”
Relocating to Perth provides Platt an opportunity to fulfil his dream of sampling football in another country. “My girlfriend, Lauren, and I love WA … we’re both young and don’t have any commitments, such as kids, so we’ve decided to come for the experience,” he said. “It’s a good chance to do a bit of travelling and see some of the world. I have always wanted to play abroad, so we thought why not try and mix them together. I had a few mates who had contacts here and a former FC United player, Chris Baguley, who was playing for Mandurah at the time put me in contact with coach Stuart Currie.”
Currie is delighted to have secured Platt’s services as Mandurah push for a spot in the end of season play-offs. “Nicky has been a great signing for us and showed his class against Floreat,” said Currie, who considers his latest recruit the perfect replacement for former Stoke City youth player Hayden Doyle. “Since we lost Hayden Doyle to injury we have struggled to find a box-to-box player but, hopefully, we have one now in Nicky. We are sure he will only get better the longer he is here.”
A large part of Platt’s football development was gleamed in the academy set-up at Liverpool. “I started at the Reds and was there until I was sixteen. After trialling at a few clubs I signed my Youth Training Scheme forms at Burnley,” Platt explained. “In my first season at the Clarets I played in Stan Ternent’s testimonial match against Manchester United at Turf Moor in front of 15,000 people. It was more of a second string side but there was a few big names playing, which was a great thing for a 16-year old to play against players you have grown up admiring.”
But Platt was released after two years at Turf Moor but had soon linked up with local club Stalybridge Celtic. “I joined Stalybridge, in the Conference North, but after not really featuring in the first few games I left and signed for FC United of Manchester (the Manchester United breakaway team) where I stayed for two years,” he explained. “I returned to Stalybridge last season but was released due to money issues late in the season and I re-signed for FC United - knowing my trip to WA was only round the corner.”
GIBSON THE NEW COACH OF GLORY WOMEN
Former national youth team coach John Gibson has been confirmed coach of Perth Glory Women for the 2009/10 W-League season. Gibson, the current Western Australian Institute of Sport women’s coach, brings a wealth of knowledge to the role having previously held coaching positions with the Young Matildas, Young Socceroos and at the Australian Institute of Sport. In addition, he represented Australia at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games and played more than 300 games in the National Soccer League.
Gibson, who’ll announce his 20-player Glory Women squad in the next few weeks, is excited about the opportunity ahead. “I am looking forward to beginning training once the team is chosen, I know that there are a lot of talented female players in WA and I am excited about working with the team to get them well and truly ready for the 2009/10 W-League season,” he said. The inaugural Glory women’s team had a tough introduction to the nations premier competition, winning three and drawing two of their ten games to narrowly miss out on the play-offs.
YOUNG MATILDAS READY FOR ASIAN CHAMPIONSHIP
Australia has warmed up for next week's AFC Under-19 Women's Championships with a couple of strong performances in a two-game series against South Korea. Saturday's opening friendly at the KFA National Training Centre in Seoul ended in a scoreless draw with South Korea winning 3-1 two days later. The warm and humid conditions served as ideal preparation for the Young Matildas who now move on to the Chinese city of Wuhan where they play Japan (1 August), China PR (3 August) and Chinese Taipei (5 August) in the Championships.
Australia started the opening fixture strongly with Tameka Butt putting her shot just over the crossbar following a storming run by Courtney Beutel midway through the first half. Although slow to get going, the host nation became increasingly threatening, their best chance arriving on 66 minutes when a low strike was touched onto the post by diving goalkeeper Casey Dumont. Late in the match Marianna Tabain almost stole victory but her long-range effort smacked into the bar. Tabain played a full game while her Perth Glory Women team mate Ella Mastrantonio came off the bench after 68 minutes.
South Korea was rewarded for a positive start to Monday's game when Ji Soyun fired them into a 15th minute lead. It took until after the break for the Young Matildas to seriously threaten and on the hour Ashleigh Sykes finished well from a Samantha Kerr cross to bring the sides level. South Korea took the lead again in the 68th minute via a Kim Narae free-kick from 25-metres, and one minute later Kong Hyewon's mis-kick bobbled over Nicola Deiter sealed victory.
Despite not claiming victory in either game, there were plenty of positives for Australia coach Alen Stajcic. "We made nine changes to our squad which caused a fair bit of disruption in the first half and we were easily outplayed. The second half was outstanding. We dominated the game after levelling the scores but unfortunately two naive errors cost us the game," Stajcic said following the second friendly. "It is pleasing to see how we can match and dominate against top Asian sides like the Korean Republic. We just need the scoreboard to reflect our performance."
LATE GOALS KEEP PERTH FLYING HIGH
Perth SC remain level on points with Western Knights at the top of the Premier League table after seeing off Swan United 3-1 in today’s game at Dorrien Gardens. It was looking as though the points would be shared when David Onoforo converted an 87th minute penalty to put the home side ahead before Brendan Craig scored an unfortunate own goal to seal victory. “I’m happy to get the three points and I think we deserved them today. We had plenty of possession but some contentious referring decisions for both sides made the game interesting to say the least,” said victorious coach Graham Normanton, who heaped praise on the scorer of Perth’s opening goal. “I was delighted with Phil Arnold’s game today. He hasn’t scored many goals but his first goal today was worthy of any game in the world, he’s only 19 and has a great attitude.”
Swan made a lively start and threatened for the first time after 2 minutes with David Perich shooting off-target from 7-metres, and soon after the same player fired high and wide after receiving Tom Shepheard’s flick on from a Craig long throw. Nine minutes were on the clock when Perth hit the front with their first meaningful attack, Craig Simpson’s long ball out of defence was misjudged by Aaron Cole but not Arnold who beat McNally before applying a clinical finish from 7-metres. It was a bitter blow for Swan, however, they were lucky not to conceded again on the quarter hour when Onoforo fired high after being picked out by Gary Greenhill’s cross-field ball. Perth were enjoying the better of possession and Arnold lured Cory Hugo out of position before pulling the ball back to Onoforo, whose shot was blocked by Cole. And late in the half Greenhill found Arnold, his first touch took him clear of Cole but Hugo made the save.
The visitors sustained a body blow at the break with veteran Damian Scali succumbing to injury, his place taken by teenager Niall Hughes. Perth made their intentions clear on 47 minutes via Greenhill’s deep corner which Simpson headed back across goal only for Arnold to fire wide. Parity was restored eight minutes later when a Shane Webb cross from the right caused problems for ‘keeper Luke Martino who, under pressure from Butshiire and Hughes, spilled the ball into his net. Referee Ton Klaver pointed straight to the centre circle, awarding the goal to Butshiire, as the home team appealed desperately for a foul on their ‘keeper. This provided Swan just the lift they were after and on 71 minutes Butshiire ran at the defence before playing the ball in to Guest, whose shot was blocked by Martino.
It was soon after that Perth reasserted themselves on the game and began to dominate. Greg Sharland’s 75th minute corner drifted to the back post where Arnold had his shot turned away by Hugo with Robert Monterosso clearing the loose ball. Two minutes later Antonio Naglieri and Onoforo combined to send Genaveo Human through on goal and the midfielder should have done better than blaze wide from 6-metres. Next to go close was Michael Black with a curling effort from the top of the 18-yard box that was tipped away by Hugo at full stretch. With three minutes of regulation time remaining Monterosso handled the ball on the line, leaving the referee no option but to send off the defender and award a penalty which Onoforo duly tucked into the net. The game was in stoppage time when second half substitute Jack Clisby sent in a cross from the left that Craig knocked into his own net.
GOVERNMENT FLAGS FOOTBALL, RUGBY ARENA
A rectangular stadium for football and rugby will be built by the State Government, potentially as early as 2012, after it rejected a Town of Vincent proposal for a $75 million patch-up of Members Equity Stadium. Sports Minister Terry Waldron said on Friday that the Government would negotiate with the council, football and rugby authorities with the aim of having a firm proposal by the middle of next year. “This Government has been a strong advocate for a rectangular stadium to meet the needs of our State football and rugby codes and I will be working to deliver that vision over the next twelve months,” Waldron said.
It is understood the Government’s preferred option is a progressive rebuild of Members Equity Stadium modelled on the $160 million multi-purpose Skilled Park rectangular stadium on Queensland’s Gold Coast. Built in two years and designed for football and rugby, it holds about 27,000 spectators and includes 100 open corporate boxes and 25 closed corporate suites, offices and associated facilities. The Government had feared that the Town of Vincent proposal could blow out to more than $100 million without the full benefits of a new stadium and would have been complicated by the management lease that Nick Tana’s Allia Holdings has at the site.
KNIGHTS CHARGE GATHERS PACE
Western Knights spent Saturday night at outright Premier League leaders following a resounding 2-0 defeat of bottom of the table Stirling Lions on a muddy surface at Nash Field. First half goals by Daniel Micevski and Mario Marcinko earned the Knights their eight home win of the campaign, but the final margin would have been much greater if not for Kevin Miller, who was outstanding between the posts for Stirling. It took only a few minutes for the home team to fashion an opportunity for Anthony Campbell which the striker sent wide of the target. A foul on Keith Clevenger resulted in a Stirling free-kick on top of the 18-yard box that Jordan Rhodes struck powerfully but too close to goalkeeper David Khuen. Daniel Micevski was in a menacing mood and fired just past the post on 7 minutes, shortly before David Micevski's bullet-like shot from distance crashed off the crossbar and away to safety.
So it was inevitable when the Knights went ahead on 16 minutes when defenders Michael Pugliese and Chris Harlond both lost their footing on a slippery surface as Daniel Micevski nipped in to slam his shot into the bottom corner with only 'keeper Miller to beat. The physical presence of Barry Devlin and David Price was making it difficult for Ludovic Boi and Dean Evans to have much of a say on happenings coming through the middle of the park, the Knights pair negating the creativity of their young opponents. By contrast, the Knights continual drive into the final third had Stirling nerves jangling on several occasions, with it only a matter of when - not if - the margin would be doubled. That moment arrived five minutes from the break when a long throw by Devlin was neatly headed on at the front post by Stuart Ferguson into the path of Marcinko, who tapped in unmarked at the back post.
The second half carried on in much the same vein, the Knights dominating both in terms of possession and shots on goal. Daniel Micevski cut in from the left but his attempt from an acute angle was well saved by Miller. A firmly struck free-kick from 18-metres by David Micevski brushed the outside of the post, and soon after the player swung in a corner which Marco Warmt-Murray scuffed wide when seemed easier that he find the net. There was little excite the visiting supporters as Stirling struggled to break down a resilient Knights rearguard under the command of David Annall and Okwy Diamondstar. An already bad day ended on a sour note for Stirling with defender Rick Brewer knocked unconscious following a clash of heads with Marcinko ten minutes out from full-time. The loss leaves Stirling six points adrift at the foot of the table and in desperate need of a miracle to retain their Premier League status beyond this winter.
SORRENTO CRUMBLE TO FLOREAT GOAL BLITZ (with Michael Bate, Football West)
Brad Scott scored twice to guide Floreat Athena to a 3-1 victory over home team Sorrento and keep them on track for a place in the play-offs. Sandwiched between Scott’s double was Johnny Mirco’s first goal for his new club, which during in a first half attacking blitz in which the visitors netted three times in just eight minutes. “We have a great strike force at the club right now and, to be honest, we should have picked up a few more points off their boots,” said winning coach Michael Roki. “Saying that, some quality finishing on the weekend showed that we might be coming good at the right time … it’s not such a bad thing being the dark horse in the top three.”
The first threat on Cyril Sharrock’s goal arrived after 13 minutes when Branimir Mikulic curled a left-footed effort just wide. Five more minutes elapsed before Daniel Neiderberger thrust out a boot to block an attempted clearance, the ball dropping for Scott who made no mistake with a crisp volley from the edge of the 18-yard box. Sorrento’s defence looked shambolic and it wasn’t long before they were opened up again, this time through an seemingly innocuous Josip Magdic cross which bypassed the entire home defence before being slammed into the net by Mirco. The margin became three after 26 minutes with Scott rising at the back post to meet a Jason Barrera cross which he looped into the net over Sharrock.
Things looked even grimmer for Sorrento when they full backs Stuart Banks and Daryl Platten were forced from the field due to injury within minutes of each other, their places taken by Michael Ord and Cunningham. But it appeared their luck was about to change when Glen Thomas’ cross from the right wing was deflected past ‘keeper Alex Dunn who was relieved to watch the ball roll the wrong outside the post. Not long after Steve McDonald squandered a golden opportunity by scuffing his shot after reacting quickest to Dunn’s parry from a Danny Hill header. At the other end of the field Scott should have had a hat-trick on the stroke of half-time but instead volleyed wide after being found unmarked at the back post by Barrera.
Sorrento came out after the interval with renewed purpose and nearly snatched a goal after just 30 seconds, McDonald desperately unlucky to hit the post after a sweet cross from Todd Harnwell. The Gulls captain himself hit the post in the 55th minute after latching on to Danny Cain’s delightful through ball. Their reward came in the 63rd minute via a Thomas corner that Hill knocked down for Cunningham to steer into the net. Floreat looked rattled and nearly had their lead cut even further but Cunningham flashed a header just wide, then minutes later forced a good save from Dunn. Sorrento had one last chance to get something from the afternoon when referee Troy Miller pulled Dunn up for time wasting, however, Hill’s free-kick from just inside the area was straight into the defensive wall and cleared.
COCKBURN HAVE PLENTY TO CROW ABOUT (by Chris Correia, Football West)
Cockburn City leapt up into fourth place on the Premier League standing with an impressive 3-1 defeat of Mandurah City at Hyundai Stadium. Scott Miller’s young side was very impressive throughout and held their own despite being put under intense pressure by Mandurah in the second half. Rafael Insaurralde had an early chance to put the home team ahead but was denied a shot by Ryan Pretorious after going clear of Paul Natale. However, it would be Cockburn that took the lead on 17 minutes courtesy of Devon Gibson’s lung-bursting run at the end of which his cross was flicked on by Michael Grigo to the back post where an unmarked Aaron Dos Santos had the easiest of tap-ins.
Mandurah were nearly gifted an equaliser when Nick Feely failed to connect with an attempted clearance and with the ball trickling towards the net the goalkeeper scrambled back to conceded a corner. Cameron Edwards was slowly coming into the game and in the 26th minute played a great one-two with Michael Grigo inside the 18-yard box which he fired into the bottom corner to double the difference. Cockburn were defending well for such a young side against an intimidating Mandurah attack. But they were undone just before half-time when Jason Godfrey received a deep cross from Insaurralde which he drilled past Feely after taking a few touches to control the ball.
Mandurah came out firing for the second half and on more than one occasion Phil O’Callaghan would have equalised had Cockburn defenders not put their bodies in the line of fire to prevent any clear shots on goal. Miller’s decision to go to his bench, bringing on the fresh and experienced legs of Jason Dos Santos and Anthony Periera, had the desired effect on Cockburn who came into the game as the minutes ticked down. Another substitute, Josh Findlater, had been on the park less than a minute when he double Cockburn’s lead, the youngster sealing victory by heading to the left of ‘keeper Phil Straker from a perfectly flighted Jason Dos Santos free-kick in the 82nd minute.
AMPHLETT PROVIDES SPARK FOR JOONDALUP (by Tim Lefort, Football West)
ECU Joondalup breathed fresh life into their season with a well-deserved 1-0 victory over Inglewood United at the Edith Cowan University campus. Dale McCulloch scored the game’s only goal from the penalty spot early in the second half, however, it was the introduction of Tommy Amphlett just after the interval that turned the game after a largely forgettable opening period. “They’re a terrific bunch of lads. If you look at them, they’ve got it technically, it’s just a matter of confidence,” said coach Steve Amphlett following his teams second successive win. “It’s a game we totally dominated, it would have been nice to have won three or four-nil, but what’s most important - and we haven’t done it for a long time - is that we gave no goals away. It was a bad month in June - we gave away 20 goals - and we’ve worked on that and I’m so pleased that we’ve got no goals against. That’s the biggest thing for me.”
The first chance of any note didn’t arrive until the 12th minute but Rory Grant’s glancing header was straight at veteran goalkeeper Andy Petterson. Team mate Albert Osei-Tutu headed wide from Matt Wardle’s in-swinging free-kick, then Jason Colli fired over from distance. Going the other way, Garin Collins centred for Jamie Watt but the striker couldn’t get any power on his volley and Oliver Taseski was able to gather comfortably. McCulloch rose well to meet a corner after 31 minutes but was unable to keep his header down, then soon after Jon Higgins rifled just wide from the edge of the 18-yard box. The visitors responded with Grant flickin the ball on for Colli whose volley didn’t clear the crossbar by much. It was Inglewood that had the final chance of the half when awarded a free-kick 22-metres out but Wardle’s shot which slammed into the defensive wall was an effectively summation of the first period.
Osei-Tutu had two opportunities early in the second half but blazed wide from distance on both occasions. Amphlett had been on the park five minutes when he sent a cross into the area where James Sammut was impeded by Danny Kovacevic, referee Dave Scragg pointed straight at the spot with McCulloch driving to Taseski’s left with 57 minutes played. Joondalup immediately lifted a notch and Higgins was inches away from doubling their lead by firing just wide after a jinxing run. Taseski then made a brilliant double save to deny Amphlett and Watt, then moments later thwarted the same duo. Another thunderbolt from Higgins was well held by the ‘keeper before Amphlett twice went close to putting away the hosts second. Mladen Kovacevic’s free-kick whistled just wide as Inglewood carved out a rare opening, while Taseski moved smartly to keep out a low drive by Higgins. Joondalup were almost left to rue missed opportunities but Colli couldn’t get enough power or direction to beat Petterson.
MAHONEY ROCKET WINS IT FOR ARMADALE (by Ann Odong, Football West)
Armadale made it three wins in a row by downing Canning City 2-1 on a chilly afternoon at Alfred Skeet Oval. The home side hit the front on 67 minutes through English import James Robinson, only for Daniel Trevisiol to bring the sides level eight minutes from full-time. However, Armadale weren't to be denied and a minute later Danny Mahoney let fly from 27-metres, the midfielder's shot taking a couple of deflections before crashing into the back of the net. The win moves Armadale six points clear of the relegation spot - and well within striking distance of the top five.
It was a cagey start to the game, neither team could gain ascendancy as Canning looked to utilise winger Roberto Lujan while Armadale took a more central route through Gary Bunting and Mahoney. Canning crafted the first opening 11 minutes in when Paul Van Dongen headed onto Simon Versaico, who made his way into the 18-yard box but was unable to keep his shot down. The supply to Robinson and strike partner Marlon Ramirez was being effectively restricted by a compact Canning defence. Despite this, Robinson conjured Armadale's first shot on target in the 17th minute but after working his way into space the striker failed to trouble goalkeeper Kenny Ftynogiannis.
Rory Mouttet and George Tchami worked hard at turning defence into attack for Canning with Paul Oliver and Van Dongen the targets further up the pitch. Robinson was presented with a golden opportunity to put the hosts in front just before the half hour, the striker motoring on to a terrific diagonal long ball and cutting past George Tchami then Rory Mouttet only to shoot straight at the 'keeper. Minutes later Robinson was again in the thick of the action, heading Bunting's cross wide. Canning created a chance of their own five minutes from the break when Oliver struck a low free-kick past the defensive wall to Steve Maguire, whose shot had enough on to force a save from Alex Pearson but didn't seriously trouble the young 'keeper.
The home side started the second period brightly, Paul Harris firing the first shot when he found himself clear but Fytnogiannis had it covered. A swerving 66th minute free-kick by Oliver caused a moment of trepidation as the ball was headed on by Matt Bennion, forcing his own ‘keeper to keep the ball out. Armadale were rewarded for their effort in the 67th minute when the away defence were slow to react at a corner, allowing in Robinson whose initial effort was blocked by Fytnogiannis who was helpless as the English striker made the most of his second chance. Canning's desire to get back on an even footing saw an under pressure Trevisiol rifle over the bar. A right wing run by Ryan Pearson was deserving of better with his cross landing in a penalty area devoid of red shirts.
Heading into the last ten minutes Canning looked to have equalised when Lujan released substitute Michael Rogers but his angled strike flashed wide of the outstretched glove of Alex Pearson as well as the target. It was a warning the hosts failed to heed and two minutes later Trevisiol ghosted in at the back post to side foot in Lujan's cross from the right. However, celebrations were short lived as Armadale regained the lead immediately after the restart with Mahoney seizing upon a loose ball in midfield and his sweetly struck shot from distance ricocheted off three defenders before going past a diving 'keeper. Armadale had an opportunity to seal victory on the stroke of full-time but Oishi Nai was unable to get the decisive touch on an Andy Pomfrett cross.
BALCATTA STEAL A POINT AGAINST FREMANTLE
Balcatta came from behind to draw 2-2 with Fremantle Spirit in picture-perfect conditions at Graham Burkett Reserve. The game started with a bang and Fremantle would have taken the lead had either Peter Vukmurovic or Nuno Loreta been able to capitalise. However, the best of the early chances came the way of the home side, a neat through ball finding Ashley Rosendale who threaded his shot between defender and goalkeeper only for it to rebound off the inside of the post and back into play. Fremantle spent much of the next ten minutes on the back foot before taking a surprise 26th minute lead as Allan Carroll slotted in from 6-metres following a counter attack down the right orchestrated by Brent Mayhew. This swung the momentum in the visitors favour with Vukmirovic going close on several occasions to increasing their advantage leading into the break.
The second half opened in much the same fashion, Fremantle in control and piling pressure on their opponents defence. The port side looked to have the result in the bag midway through the period after good work by Roberto Colalillo put the ball with Vukmirovic, who turned his marker to angle across the goalkeeper and into the far bottom corner from 15-metres. But Balcatta had refused to give up hope and seven minutes later controversially pulled a goal back through Rosendale, whose challenge on Dane McBride saw the young 'keeper fail to take cleanly a long ball which continued into the net. This breathed new life into Balcatta and with only seven minutes left on the clock Andy O'Neill slid the ball under the advancing 'keeper after playing a tidy one-two with Bobby Klenkoski.
BAYSWATER RUN RAMPANT AT QUEENS PARK
Ryan Jeans scored four times as Bayswater City kept their slim promotion hopes alive by thrashing bottom of the table Queens Park 8-1 at Coker Park. A scrappy but pacy opening exchange was punctuated on 13 minutes when Daniel Brown held his nerve to convert from the penalty spot following Cesar Gonzalez’s foul on the striker. However, the lead lasted all of three minutes before Steve Worthy fired in the equaliser from an acute angle following a corner. Bayswater added another two minutes later when Frank Maddaferri’s good work down the left resulted in a superb cross that Jeans lashed across the goalkeeper and into the far corner on the half-volley.
It soon became clear a route was on the cards as on 24 minutes Jeans rose at the near post to glance over the over the ‘keeper and across the line via the underside of the crossbar. By this stage Bayswater were well in control and stroking the ball around with growing confidence. A forward pass on 31 minutes by stand-in captain Anthony Jones found Ahmed Hafez, he crisply moved the ball on to for Ryan Frisina who duly slotted in his first goal of the winter. The margin increased to four goals just minutes out from half-time, Jeans completing his hat-trick by converting contentious penalty.
Neither side was able to assert themselves in the minutes after the re-start, and to the hosts credit they forced several corners during a sustained period of pressure. But it would be Bayswater that found the net after 64 minutes, Jones turning his man on top of the box before lashing into the top corner to give the ‘keeper no chance. With this Queens Park’s resolve crumbled and Gonzalez got in on the act with a couple of late goals, both the result of poor defending at corners. Jeans put the icing on the cake in the 87th minute when he received possession from Jones and rounded the ‘keeper to tap into an empty net.
PORTER SINKS GLORY IN BUNBURY
A Joel Porter goal midway through the first half was enough for A-League newcomer Gold Coast United to see off Perth Glory 1-0 in this afternoon’s friendly at Hands Oval in Bunbury. Glory created plenty of scoring opportunities of their own, particularly in the opening half, but were unable to capitalise whereas a small defensive lapse on 23 minutes let Porter decide the outcome. Nonetheless, Glory coach David Mitchell was happy with the work out and remains confident his team is on the right track for the coming season. “It was a tough old game today,” he said. “I’m not too disappointed in the result as we were able to try a few things and get some more cohesion amongst the players which is our primary concern before the season starts. I was happy with what we got out of the game in terms of preparation for the season.”
Glory suffered a blow before kick-off with Eugene Dadi (virus) added to a casualty list that featured Jacob Burns (hamstring), Wayne Srhoj (hamstring), Andy Todd (back) and Jamie Harnwell (hamstring). Serbian import Branko Jelic found himself on the end of a great ball from Glory marquee player Mile Sterjovski but the unmarked striker snatched wide at the back post. Four minutes later, Sterjovski’s deft touch into Jelic’s path was just too strong and Van Strattan was quick to negate the danger. But it was the visitors who hit the front on 23 minutes, Shane Smeltz driven cross saw Porter beat his marker to the ball before tucking in at close-range. Gold Coast marquee, Jason Culina, stung the gloves of Glory custodian Tando Velaphi with a fierce effort from 16-metres. Glory had their opportunities to equalise, most notably through Jimmy Downey who used his pace to get in behind the defence but the midfielder fired straight at Van Strattan.
Culina went close to doubling Gold Coast’s lead three minutes after the interval but fired off-target following a smart cut-back by Porter. Despite going into the break down a goal, the signs were encouraging of a Glory revival and in the 51 minute Sikora had Kristian Rees in a spin. However, it would be one of the rare moments of interest in a second half which was almost exclusively played in the middle third of the pitch. Scott Neville had been a constant threat down the right, his gut busting runs continuing all the way through to the final whistle. Glory could have snatched a late goal with Neville’s cross met by substitute Todd Howarth, whose shot was saved by Van Strattan on the line. Then in stoppage time, young trialist Adam Taggart was found by Adriano Pellegrino’s pinpoint corner but again Van Strattan was positioned to make the save.
THE PREMIER LEAGUE IN PREVIEW
Season 2009 is really hotting up with all six games of this weekend's Premier League games influencing happenings at both ends of the table. The match of the round takes us to the northern suburbs where reigning champions Sorrento take on the previous years winners, Floreat Athena (3.00pm). Gulls captain Todd Harnwell has been playing in a deeper role of late and the influence he can assert along with that of Stuart Montgomery, Glen Thomas and Shaun Kilkelly will go a long way to determining which team picks up the points.
Floreat coach Michael Roki has his fingers crossed Percy Doyle Reserve continues to be a happy hunting ground for his side. "The top two teams have got away from us and we know that we can't afford to slip once more," he said. "Sorrento is obviously fighting to keep their season alive and I'm sure we will have it tough to keep up our good track record against them. We have only lost once to them on the seven league meetings over the past four years, whilst they have still managed to win two premierships."
Armadale are hoping to continue their improvement when Canning City visits Alfred Skeet Oval (3.00pm). With Kieran Tracey suspended, Reds coach Brad Hassell will look for big efforts from imports James Robinson and Danny Mahoney as they go seeking their third win in as many games. Canning will have to do without defender Jon Mathers, who was sent off last week, but his absence is offset to a degree by the return of Garth Lecky from suspension. Paul Oliver will again be used of the bench, a knee injury preventing the midfielder from playing 90 minutes.
Hyundai Stadium is the venue for the mid-table showdown between Mandurah City and Cockburn City (3.00pm). With both teams pushing for top five finishes, Mandurah boss Stuart Currie acknowledges the importance of the occasion. "Every game is big but this is a must-win game as we're all bunched together on the table," said Currie, who has Andy Brown and Stephen Payne out suspended. "Our home record is not the best so we are hoping to turn it round this weekend." Jason O'Byrne will be between the posts for Cockburn, who'll reply on Ryan Pretorius and Paul Natale to keep quiet the home forwards.
Top takes on bottom at Nash Field with Western Knights holding home ground advantage against Stirling Lions (3.00pm). The Knights are expected to continue on their merry way with David Micevski in sensational form as Marco Marcinko and Anthony Campbell bang in the goals. Stirling must start picking up points sooner rather than later if they are to avoid relegation and assistant coach Gary Williams believes they can get something out of the weekend. "It's a massive game for both teams, we're really looking forward to it and it provides another stern test for our young side," he said. "I know the players are looking forward to the game and Mick (coach Mick Lyons) and I will do our utmost to have them fully focused."
ECU Joondalup go looking for two in a row when Inglewood United drop by the Edith Cowan University campus (3.00pm). Steve Amphlett was delighted with last weeks's win against Perth SC when Jamie Watt scored twice, and with Tommy Amphlett returning from injury and James Sammut facing against former team mates Joondalup have good reason to be confident. Rory Grant has been in good touch for Inglewood of late, but it's the supply from the flanks from Jason Colli and Jamie Mitsopoulos that is going to be vital for the visitors. Shane Pryce limped out of last week's game injury but should take his place alongside Danny Kovacevic in the centre of defence.
Sunday's game is the traditional derby between Perth SC and Swan United at Dorrien Gardens (3.00pm). Graham Normanton's side are wanting to bounce straight back from last weeks shock loss and with the likes of Greg Sharland, Antonio Naglieri and Gary Greenhill in good form they'll be hard to beat on home soil. Swan welcome goalkeeper Cory Hugo back from his 'Ashes' trip and Tom Shepheard is back from injury, but on the flip side Paul Dugdale (suspended) and John Mansaray (sick) will be missing. The game is broadcast live on 107.3 Heritage FM, coverage commencing at 2.45pm.
THE FIRST DIVISION IN PREVIEW
The two-verses-three clash between Wanneroo City and Forrestfield United makes Hartfield Park the place to be tomorrow. Forrestfield will no doubt want to remain unbeaten at home in 2009 and at the same time make amends for last week’s shock three-goal loss. Although Wanneroo have lost momentum of late an away win would be just what the doctor ordered to reignite their push for promotion. Balcatta have opened up a four-point gap at the top of the table but they’ll find the going tough against a young and enthusiastic Fremantle Spirit side at Wauhop Park.
New Bayswater City coach Mauro Marchione heads back to the familiar surrounds of Cocker Park where his team faces bottom of the table Queens Park, who he was in charge of until a few days ago. Things are finally clicking for Ashfield who’ll fancy their chances against a Dianella White Eagles side that has suffered four consecutive losses. Very little will separate Rockingham City and Morley Windmills when they lock horns in the Saturday evening encounter at Lark Hill Sportsplex. Gosnells City’s home fixture with South West Phoenix has been re-scheduled for 15 August.
PRE-SEASON NIGGLES TROUBLE MITCHELL
Illness forced Perth Glory to abandon a proposed pre-season camp in Bunbury this week, throwing preparations for the coming A-League season into further disarray. With several players battling colds and others struggling to prove their fitness before Glory’s opening match against Adelaide United in a fortnight, coach David Mitchell called off Tuesday’s trip to the South-West city ahead of Saturday's final pre-season hitout against Gold Coast United at Hands Oval. Star signings Branko Jelic, Andy Todd and Mile Sterjovski, midfield pair Victor Sikora and midfielder Wayne Srhoj along with promising defender Brent Griffiths are amongst those to be laid low this week.
Mitchell will send an SOS to junior players to fill the gaps after admitting his options are limited for the game against Gold Coast. "If someone's feeling sick, you don't want them playing 90 minutes," said Mitchell, who had only thirteen players to work with at yesterday's training session. "We have to be able to adjust them but we're only allowed three players on the bench as subs, so that becomes another issue. We've dipped into our youth squad before and some of Kenny Lowe's (National Training Centre) players, so we might have to do that again this weekend."
One player who is raring to go is Australian international Chris Coyne, who pulled up well from his 60-minute appearance in the 1-0 win over North Queensland Fury in Mandurah last weekend. However, the central defender put Saturday's friendly into perspective, saying the squad will only be looking to gain match fitness from the hit-out against Gold Coast. "We don't care, they can beat us 5-0," Coyne said. "There are no points at stake. But we'll go out, we'll work our socks off and that's what we're getting out of it - nothing more, nothing less." Glory and Gold Coast go head-to-head from 2.00pm at Hands Oval, Bunbury, on Saturday.
STIRLING DISAPPOINTED WITH IDLE GOSSIP
Stirling Lions president Don Evans has rubbished suggestions his club has parted company with dual Cup winning coach Mike Lyons. It was alleged earlier this week via the Bayswater Forum that former Everton defender Lyons, 57, was no longer coaching bottom of the table Stirling, a claim the club president is "very disappointed" by. "I haven't responded to the bait on the Forum, which has only been added to try and create mischief, but we as a club are very disappointed. I will not be sucked into commenting on the Forum, it only attracts comment from malicious or meddling types," said Evans ahead of Saturday's game at Western Knights. "What I can say is the status quo remains at Macedonia Park, and we are looking forward to upsetting the Knights on the weekend."
DON’T COUNT US OUT SAYS FLOREAT’S MIGAS
Recent league results may not have gone their way but Floreat Athena are by no means a team on the ropes says captain John Migas. Floreat trail joint leaders Perth SC and Western Knights by six points but such is the evenness of this years competition that Migas is confident his team can climb back to the top of the table. “With this league at the moment anything can happen. No game is a definite win, there’s an upset just about every week,” said the 24-year old. “Hopefully, we’ll soon turn our season around and string a few wins together.”
There is still a lot of football to be played this year and a win this weekend at Sorrento can help Floreat narrow the gap on the leaders. “We’ve got a few players coming back from injury and Rox (coach Michael Roki) will have a full squad to choose from,” Migas said. “Fortunately, we’ve still got to play both Perth an the Knights in the second part of the season and these two games will be like Grand Finals for us. But if we can win both those games and they drop points then there is no reason why we can’t finish top of the table.”
But in order to do that Floreat will need to do better than their accumulation of four points from five games. Migas had a good hard think before putting forward why he believes the side has slipped off the pace. “That’s a hard question to answer without sounding like I’m making excuses, but not having a consistent starting eleven has contributed to our recent run of bad results,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of ‘first eleven’ players unavailable lately, Ante Kovacevic and James Isaia have missed games through suspension and Adam Bachiller, Simon Elton-Bott and Paully Vatistas have been missing due to injury.”
Floreat lost further ground on the leaders when held to a 1-1 draw by a ten-man Mandurah City last Friday. “Everyone was really disappointed after the game, it felt more like a loss than a draw … we should have won,” Migas commented. “It was one of those games where if we played another 90 mins we still wouldn’t have scored. I can’t fault the players effort but we let in a sloppy goal and just weren’t clinical enough when our chances came. But to their credit Mandurah held their own after going down to ten men, Ryan Townsend had a great game and Phil Straker pulled off a couple saves which kept them in the game.”
Migas, too, has spent time on the sidelines through injury and admits it’s not been easy playing in an ever-changing backline. “It can sometimes be difficult but with time you develop a better understanding of each player and their approach to the game,” commented Migas, who has been pleased with his contributions this year. “I had a good start to the season but then was unfortunately injured against Spearwood Dalmatinac in the Cup and missed a couple games. It’s taken me a few games to get back to my best but now I’m 100% fit and looking forward to the rest of the season,” he said.
Saturday’s away game with Sorrento is a must-win affair if Floreat are serious about staying in the hunt for regular season honours. “We really can’t afford to drop any more games in order for us to stay in touch with the Knights and Perth. A win this week will help turn out season around, we know we’re a better team then what recent results suggest,” said Migas, who won’t be underestimating their opponent. “Sorrento is always a hard team to get a result against but over the years we’ve had the better of them in the league so hopefully we can continue that this weekend.”
FTYNOGIANNIS PLAYS HIS PART FOR CANNING
The importance of Canning City claiming victory from this weekend's trip to Armadale is not being down-played by new goalkeeper Kenny Ftynogiannis. Canning have performed strongly during their first ever Premier League season and with eight games to play are on course to achieving a top five placing. But with just one win separating half a dozen teams Ftynogiannis, signed recently from Armadale, considers Saturday's game a must-win for this team. "Taking points this weekend is vital for us," he commented. "The league is far too tight to be dropping points as we have the last couple of weeks. At this level if you switch off for a second you'll be exposed."
Ftynogiannis played the opening months of this year at First Division Balcatta and spent a few weeks at Armadale prior to joining Canning. "Balcatta are a good club and I had friends there so it was a difficult decision to leave them. But on the flipside I was offered a position to prove myself in the Premier League," he explained. "After leaving Armadale I heard about Canning's crisis with 'keepers so I approached Frank (Longstaff) and he said I should come down to training. I'm doing okay so far, I'm putting in the hard yards at training and getting sharper each week. Canning have made me feel very welcome, they're a great bunch of lads."
Just days after being cleared to play for Canning, Ftynogiannis made his first team debut at the intimidating surrounds of Dorrien Gardens. And while Canning competed strongly all afternoon they went home empty handed after a lucky Gary Greenhill kneed in the games only goal midway through the first half. "It was a very disappointing result, I felt we were worth a goal or two at least on the day," he commented of the game with Perth SC. "We competed well, we defended as a unit and shut down Perth's attackers, pushed forward with purpose and put Perth under the pump all game."
Canning twice surrendered the lead to Swan United on Saturday before Paul Oliver came off the bench to rescue a 3-3 draw with a scorching free-kick close to the final whistle. "We were disappointed after the game as we should have taken all three points, but there's a strong camaraderie at Canning and we'll bounce back," said Ftynogiannis. "We were scrappy at times and in the second half we lacked a bit of confidence shooting, so when Jon Mathers was sent off it didn't look good for us. Luckily, Ollie was back from injury and he scored an amazing free-kick (again) which inspired us all to push Swan to the end."
One of the highlights of Ftynogiannis' career to date was gaining selection in the State squad which played in Indonesia last year. "It was the biggest honour to represent WA on such a grand scale coming from the First Division," said Ftynogiannis, who was playing for Balcatta at the time. "I was very surprised when Robbie (Dunn) told me I was going to Indonesia because I was training with some respected 'keepers - by the way, thanks Tommi, all the best in Melbourne! The culture in Indonesia is amazing, we met lots of wonderful people and got to experience what it would be like as a professional football player."
Canning's trip to Alfred Skeet Oval on Saturday brings Ftynogiannis face-to-face with players that, given different circumstances, he would be calling his team mates right now. The 'keeper trained with Armadale for two weeks and the inside information he gleamed from those sessions could prove invaluable in Canning's quest for maximum points. "Any squad Armadale puts out is going to be aggressive and determined ... they definitely shouldn't be taken lightly," he commented. "James Robinson up-front is good at holding the ball and is scoring each week. And at the back Hesky (James Hesketh) and A.B. (Andy Bowyer) marshal a tight defence which is very difficult to breakthrough."
MANNELLA LETS HIS WHISTLE DO THE TALKING
Participating in the AFC Project Future Course continues to take Josh Mannella towards achieving his goal of refereeing in the Premier League. “Project Future is a great initiative for the game,” he said. “It has given young officials in Australia a chance to experience what it is like to referee at an elite level. For those who made it onto the course, it has helped them to fast track their development. It’s a benefit that not many people mention when they talk about Australia joining AFC.”
21-year old Mannella will broaden his knowledge and experience by attending a refresher course in Kuala Lumpur next week. “The previous courses have been a great experience and this will be no different,” said Mannell, who regularly runs the rule in the First Division on Saturday afternoons. “This course will be aligned with the AFC Elite referee’s course, so we get to experience and learn off the best in our region. Previous courses have seen us taught by staff from The FA, and seen us observe an International tournament in India.”
Mannella impressed during the AFC Under-13 Festival of Football two years ago by being rewarded with selection in the Project Future Course. “The tournament was a real eye opener,” he said of the event hosted by Malaysia. “The games were played in the wet season, so certain countries found it hard to adapt to the conditions. I was happy with my performances in the trying conditions, and I was given two of the rivalry games and had positive feedback from both performances.”
Mathew Cheeseman, referee’s coordinator at Football West, praised the Mannella’s devotion towards becoming the best in his field. “Josh has certainly worked hard at his refereeing over the past few years, and is at the stage of his career now where he can take the next step,” Cheeseman said. “He certainly has the opportunity to establish himself as a State Premier League referee in the next couple of years, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him officiating in the A-League in some capacity in the not too distant future.”
Mannella says West Australian referees are lucky to be able to draw upon the knowledge and experience of Cheeseman and Eddie Lennie, who officiated at the 1998 World Cup finals. “They are both very knowledgeable and both have the interests of refereeing in their blood,” Mannella commented. “Eddie’s experience at the highest level is second to none, whilst Mat compliments Eddie’s style very well. Both are very easy to talk to, and are both very capable in helping improve both the standard of refereeing in the state and the numbers.”
After his trip to Kuala Lumpar, Mannella intends to continue his development by taking the whistle in the State League, with hopes of being promoted to the Premier League by years’ end. “At the moment I have been in the middle of First Division games,” explained Manella, who refereed Saturday’s evening game between Rockingham City and Ashfield. “I am in the process of doing my Level 1 upgrade, and if all goes well I may be given the opportunity to be in the middle for a Premier League game … my goal is to push for promotion to Premier League very soon.”
Balcatta were recently the recipients of an initial $1,000 cheque as part of the Goals for Grassroots program. They were one of 27 junior clubs from across the country to secure a much needed development grant of between $1,000 and $5,000. Balcatta could be in store for further funding with the club receiving an additional $1,000 for each goal Perth Glory scores in their home game with Newcastle Jets on 23 August.
Shane Lowry has been named in an extended 28-player Aston Villa squad for this weekend's Peace Cup tournament in Spain. Lowry, 20, is one of nine reserve team players selected by coach Martin O'Neill for the prestigious pre-season tournament in which Villa has group stage games with Malaga (Spain) and Atlanta (Italy). The Peace Cup is held bi-annually with this years event being the first time it's hosted outside South Korea.
The 2009 School Sport Australia National Championships will be played at Lark Hill Sportsplex, home of First Division club Rockingham City, early next month. The annual event showcases the talents of State Schoolboys and Schoolgirls from the seven states and territories in Australia. The Championships commence on Sunday 2 August with games played through out the week between 9.00am and 3.30pm. There will be two night fixtures on Monday 3 August as way of highlighting the Western Australian teams in competition.
Ronnie Moore is the new coach of Queens Park. Moore has enjoyed a high degree of success at amateur level, winning a variety of trophies with Murdoch University and guiding South Perth United out of the Second Division and into the Premier League in the space of a couple of seasons. Moore coached reserves at Mandurah City last season and earlier this year accepted the first team role with Kwinana United.
A WORLD OF OPPORTUNITIES OPEN UP FOR COCKBURN’S FEELY
Nick Feely is hoping to use the success of the past few months as a springboard to a professional career. The Cockburn City stopper's outstanding form has been rewarded with a place at the Australian Under-20 training camp as well as a Perth Glory Youth contract. So it's hardly surprising Feely, 17, is enjoying his football and working hard to better himself at the moment. "I'm slowly trying to rid my game of errors, but there's plenty of room for improvement still," Feely said. "Last week I just did my bit for the team and the boys are carrying belief in themselves now which is crucial and my back four are supporting me well which is essential, and this gives me extra confidence."
The opportunity to rub shoulders with the full-time professionals from English Premier League club Wolverhampton Wanderers and Fulham in the lead-up to last week's friendlies against Glory is an experience Feely says he's long cherish. "It was a fantastic opportunity and an experience that I won't forget. It's great to be training alongside men with such experience who are playing at the level I hope to achieve," commented Feely, who is looking forward to making his mark at Glory Youth this season. "Hopefully, with good training throughout the year I can make pathways and hopefully establish myself a position amongst the first team."
Being invited into camp with the Young Socceroos at the beginning of this month has given the Scotch College student further incentive to go and forge a career in football. "I see my selection as an opportunity more than an honour as there's still a long way to go," said Feely, who represented the State at Schoolboys level in 2007 and 2008. "I'm proud to have made the first step on a long road and it's reassuring to feel that people around me are noticing improvement in my game, but I know there is so much more work to be done."
Glory legend and now coach of Cockburn, Scott Miller, has been delighted with Feely's approach to playing since he accepted the reigns from Mirko Jelicic in mid-May. "Nick is fitter now than start of the season and I have Jason Petkovic train our 'keepers once a week, so I can't really take any credit unfortunately," joked Miller, a member of the inaugural Glory squad and veteran of 243 games for the club. "But he has worked hard on his game, has a great attitude and is a fantastic prospect for Australian football in the future."
Feely has made a lot of friends at Cockburn and so it's hardly surprising he'll have mixed feelings about moving on when Glory Youth commitments commence. "I feel it's important to be playing amongst the best in Australia week in week out, and I'll be getting that in the Youth League," said Feely. "With regards to Cockburn and the end of the season, I've heard there will be a clash but hopefully I'll be able to see out the season and not miss any games for Glory as I really enjoy playing for Cockburn and have good support around me at the club."
Cockburn has had a strong tradition of producing goalkeepers of the highest calibre, amongst them Robbie Zabica, Jason Petkovic, Michael Petkovic. "With Cockburn having three Socceroo 'keepers coming out of the club, I'm constantly being told by supporters of the history which I’m playing in," Feely said. "But I've been very fortunate with the coaches I have played under as they have believed in me and recently a lot of opportunities have arisen which I'm grateful for through Cockburn and Glory. I'm thankful that the effort is being rewarded, and when opportunities arise you must take them as you'll never know where they could take you."
Like any young player, Feely aspires to play at the highest level possible. "I'm taking it slowly, but I hope to have a strong season with the youth side at Glory and hopefully be rewarded," he said. "The dream of playing in a top European League is one that any kid wants and I still believe I can get there with good support and commitment. I've already had some offers from well-known clubs in Europe, with one willing to cover all my university fees, which is a definite possibility for the future but at the present finishing this important year of school is priority number one."
SWAN LEGEND HITS 100
When Damian Scali converted a 73rd minute penalty against Canning City on Saturday he became the first Swan United player to score 100 goals. Scali, 34, is understandably thrilled at reaching a century of goals. "It is a little bit of an honour to reach this milestone, and all for the same club makes it quite rewarding," said Swan's longest serving player. "When you think about it though, there has really only been three or four players who have played enough games for Swan - Trevor Hatton, Justing Hugo and my cousin Carlo - to achieve this for Swan ... and they probably set all of my goals up!"
Scoring a century of goals was far from Scali's mind when he made his senior debut for the black and white in 1995. "I played my first league game at home against Stirling Toscany, our coach at the time Micky Cairns told me to follow Gordon Todd wherever he ran," Scali explained. "We won 2-1 and I scored only to be dropped to the reserves the next week to make way for league players coming back from injury, so I guess I thought at that stage I would be lucky to play again let alone score 100 goals. However, as a 11-year old boy helping my dad move the sprinklers on the pitch during the summer months I did used to pretend scoring goals for the first team."
There are many magical memories scattered amongst Scali's 100 goals. "The best goal I scored was against Fremantle City in 2000 when we were on top of the ladder playing against the eventual champions. I played a one-two with Nigel Aubin and tried a very speculative left foot volley from just in front of the centre circle - somehow it found the net," he said, still somewhat bemused. "All the goals I've scored at our home ground have been enjoyable, but I would have to say the hat-trick I got against Ashfield when we were playing the second last game of the season and the loser basically got relegated was the most important."
Scali admits he almost gave the game away earlier in the year. "I did toy with the idea of retirment and I still am. The main reason is because of injury, I seem to be finding new injuries and illnesses every week and struggling to make Saturday games. Also, my job as a deputy principal takes a lot of energy out of me and does take me away from training on a few occasions," he said. "But I just love playing on Saturdays. I still get nervous on the morning of the game and I'm not sure how I'm going to go sitting on the bench watching the black and whites play ... it will no doubt kill me!"
A few more goals would be the ideal way for Scali to commemorate Swan's trip to Dorrien Gardens this Sunday. "The season is so close from last to fourth, a win could put us in the top five and a loss could put us second last. We can still get relegated and still make the top five so every week is vital," he said. "We have had some great wins over Perth in my time, however, they generally have had the wood over us. We need to think of it as a big game and if we do that our guys tend to lift no matter who plays for us. If we can do that we are capable of bringing home the points."
BURSASPOR SNAP UP ERGIC
Former Perth Glory starlet Ivan Ergic has signed a two-year contract with Turkish club Bursaspor. Recently released by FC Basel, the 28-year old midfielder fielded offers to continue his career in Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Israel before opting for Turkey. Bursaspor have played all but four of the past forty seasons in the top flight, however, their only trophy success came with 1986 Turkish Cup. They finished last season in sixth place, one spot outside of Europe and 13 points behind champions Besiktas.
FINALS A SERIOUS PROPOSITION FOR DE VANNA
Lisa De Vanna's Washington Freedom remains in the hunt for the inaugural Women's Professional Soccer play-offs. With only a handful of games remaining Freedom is one of five teams vying for the three play-off spots still up for grabs. Los Angeles Sol, who've conceded only six goals in seventeen games to hold a thirteen point lead at the top of the table, are the only team assured of a top four finish.
A second half strike by Homare Sowa was enough to see off Saint Louis Athletica 1-0 on Sunday, and similar results from Freedom's last four games will send them through. "I think for any team, besides LA who are already in the finals, that's all that matters: points matter, goals matter, shutouts matter," said De Vanna, Freedom's top scorer with five goals. "All those things come down to the end."
Freedom can increase the pressure on those above them by taking maximum points from this weekend's trip to Chicago Red Stars, who must win to remain a mathematic chance of playing finals football. They then face second-placed Boston Breakers and bottom of the table FC Gold Pride before what may turn out to be a play-off deciding final day showdown with Collette McCallum's Blue Sky FC, who are currently fourth.
FOOTBALL IS THE LEAST OF CURRIE’S CONCERNS
Football has been the last thing on Chris Currie's mind as he sets down the road to recovery from a serious road accident which almost took his life. The Mandurah City player is slowly getting back on track having spent several days in intensive care earlier this month after being struck by a car. "I'd like to thank everyone in the football community for their best wishes; it really helped me to get over this," said the 24-year old. "The recovery is going quite well, I'm really glad to be home and feeling better with every day. I will still be at least another three months with my leg braces on before I can actually try to walk again."
The accident which caused the leg injuries is still a blur for Currie. "I can't remember any of the accident but from what I've been told I was about 20-metres from my house and someone in a four-wheel drive pulled straight out across the intersection and into me on my motorbike," Currie explained. "I received a fractured left ankle that had to have two screws put in it, a broken fifth metatarsal on my left foot, a tear of the meniscus and ACL in the right knee that has four screws attached now. A broken right thumb, punctured right lung, two fractures in the neck and internal lacerations ... but apart from that everything else was fine!"
Mandurah coach Stuart Currie was devastated when he received news of his son's accident. "I would not wish it on anyone," he said. "The first few days when he was in intensive care was very scary and frightening - it puts everything into perspective when you see your own flesh and blood lying there hooked up to monitors not knowing what is about to happen. Chris is a strong character and a bit of a fighter - like his dad - he has a great family and friends round him and I am sure now that he is on his long road to recovery he will realise this."
Football has played a big part in Currie's life and, as long as he's got anything to do with it, the talented defender has no intention of giving the game away. "I will hopefully be starting rehab and physio next week so I'll have to wait until then to find out what the deal with football is," he explained. It was as a teenager that Currie first came to prominence, winning two Player of the Year awards in three seasons with Wanneroo City and gaining State Schoolboy and Youth team honours. After a short spell at ECU Joondalup, he moved to Mandurah where he played a key role in the club gaining promotion to the Premier League at the end of 2007.
HARNWELL GOES FOR SIX AND OUT
Perth Glory stalwart Jamie Harnwell will be out of action for six weeks after scans revealed a tear in his left hamstring. Harnwell suffered the injury during the opening half of Glory’s 1-0 friendly win against North Queensland Fury in Mandurah on Saturday. Although Harnwell will miss the opening few games of the coming A-League season, he has already flagged the round four home meeting with Melbourne Victory for his return. “While is not ideal to cop an injury at any time I guess it is better now where I’ll only miss the opening few games rather than during the season where I’d miss a full six matches,” he said.
Harnwell began the weekend friendly in attack alongside Mile Sterjovski, scoring the game’s only goal after 17 minutes only to be carried off injured in the 36th minute. “Getting the chance to play up front was great and I wanted to stake a claim for a spot up there,” he said. “I felt good on the day and was really looking forward to the first game of the season. I love being involved and I wanted to make good use of all the hard work I had put in over the pre-season. I’m hopeful I won’t loose too much in the rehab period and that I’ll come back just as sharp.”
The injury occurred as Harnwell went to jump for a cross and in the 48 hours since the incident he has responded well to treatment and started to get some movement into the muscle. “It has settled down well and I’ll start walking in the next day. I’ll be spending a fair bit of time in the pool and on the bike but I’m keen to get started as soon as possible,” he said. Glory continues their pre-season schedule with a game against Gold Coast United at Hands Oval in Bunbury on Saturday. The 2009/10 A-League season commences for Glory away at Adelaide United on 7 August.
NEW SCHEME HELPS TO BUILD CLUBS
Grassroots football clubs will benefit from a new scheme announced by Football Federation Australia late last week. “Almost 1 million people play football in one form or another around Australia and there are 150,000 volunteers who work in community clubs,” said FFA chief executive Ben Buckley. “We know that there are many clubs who can do with help to purchase or improve their existing facilities. Fundraising efforts of individual clubs – including the traditional sausage sizzle – are terrific, but we hope this new scheme may mean one less sausage to sizzle for a while!”
The Grassroots Football Facilities Fund provides between $5,000 and $20,000 towards projects that improve the quality, safety, reliability and accessibility of sporting facilities in local communities. “Grassroots football clubs have an important role in helping to build better communities, to strengthen local economies and to develop the skills of people involved with clubs, as well as meeting the needs of young people,” said Buckley, who added the grants are available for one or a combination of initiatives such as the installation of rainwater tanks, improvements to drainage, enhancements to change rooms, field of play improvements and portable goals. Visit www.myfootballclub.com.au for more information.
GULLS FLY ABOVE THE FRAY (courtesy Football West)
Stirling Lions were left to rue a string of wasted opportunities as Sorrento stole a late 1-0 win from Sunday's game at Macedonia Park. The game appeared destined to end scoreless when Steve McDonald found the net after 81 minutes to breath new life into the Gulls hopes of featuring in the end of season play-offs. In desperate need of full points to move away from the relegation zone, Stirling jumped out of the blocks strongly with the midfield brigade of Matt Italiano, Ludovic Boi, Jordan Rhodes and Dean Evans quick to gain the upper hand. The first real chance was an Evans shot from 18-metres which took a sharp deflection and thundered into the base of the upright after 6 minutes. Not long after Rick Brewer released Boi but he was unable to make full use of the opportunity with his effort hitting the side netting.
Sorrento eventually worked their way into the contest and got their first look at goal via Danny Cain's 21st minute corner which was narrowly missed by Shaun Kilkelly at the near post and Todd Harnwell at the far. With the visitors starting to make the play, a good exchange between Italiano and Rhodes on the right wing saw the latter's cross headed over the crossbar by defender Daryl Platten. Sorrento toiled hard but continually broke down in their final third where Stuart Montgomery and McDonald struggled to find any significant space. Another Stirling chances went begging just before the break when Rhodes' free-kick somehow evaded Brewer, Italiano and Clevenger, who were all advancing at the back post.
The second half opened with Boi slice his way through the visiting team but having skipped past several defenders the lively youngster struck straight at Cyril Sharrock. Evans also fired too close to the goalkeeper, while Boi flashed a shot past Sharrock only for it to come back off the base of the post as Stirling sought what would have been a deserved lead. The best chance of the game so far came on 71 minutes when Boi seized upon a defensive error but his shot from 6-metres was brilliantly deflected away by Sharrock. Ten minutes later Sorrento grabbed the lead against the run, Cain flicking on a corner which McDonald drove into the net from close-range. Stirling had numerous opportunities to equalise but the closest they came was a Rhodes shot from 22-metres that found Sharrock well positioned.
GLORY TRIO SELECTED FOR YOUNG MATILDAS
Perth Glory Women trio Samantha Kerr, Ella Mastrantonio and Marianna Tabain have been named in the Australian squad for next months AFC Under-19 Women’s Championship in China. "We had a very productive training camp on the Gold Coast last week and now we’re focused on the Championships," said coach Alen Stajcic. "As a team we are as prepared as we can be going into China. Our physical and match preparation included our recent tour of Italy and camps in Canberra, Sydney and the Gold Coast. We have improved as a team this year so now it is a matter of putting it all together and performing well on the day."
The Young Matildas squad for the AFC Under-19 Women’s Championship is Angela Fimmano, Sian McLaren (Adelaide United), Rebecca Kiting, Ashleigh Sykes, Nicole Sykes (Canberra United), Teresa Polias, Karina Roweth, Kyah Simon (Central Coast Mariners), Teigan Allen (New South Wales Institute of Sport), Gema Simon, Emily van Egmond (Newcastle Jets), Samantha Kerr, Ella Mastrantonio, Marianna Tabain (Perth Glory), Courtney Beutel, Ruth Blackburn, Tameka Butt, Casey Dumont, Elise Kellond-Knight (Queensland Roar), Nicola Bolger, Alesha Clifford, Nikola Deiter and Jessica Seaman (Sydney FC). Australia plays two pre-tournament friendlies with South Korea before moving on to host city Wuhan and games against Japan (1 August), China PR (3 August) and Chinese Taipei (5 August).
GLORY EDGE OUT FURY
Perth Glory has continued their build up to the new A-League season with a solid 1-0 win against North Queensland Fury at Mandurah’s Hyundai Stadium. Jamie Harwell scored the only goal in the 17th minute but it could have been an even greater margin for the home side as Glory monopolised possession throughout the match. Australian international Chris Coyne turned in a commanding performance on his Glory debut in which he was paired with former English Premier League defender Andy Todd in the heart of Glory’s defence. “It was good to get out there, I haven’t put a lot of miles in the legs yet but it’s always nice to play with your team mates and to have a run about,” Coyne said. “That is what football is all about, you want to get out there and show what you can do and I was pleased with how it went.”
The match, played in front of 2780 fans, had started well for Glory with Harnwell and Mile Sterjovski proving particularly effect in attack. The opening goal arrived via Victor Sikora, who stole possession at the half way line and drove forward before sending a delightful cross to the far post that Sterjovski headed back into the danger area where Harnwell bundled a header over the line. The pair almost had another in the 36th minute with a carbon copy attempt, however, this time Harnwell wasn’t able to jump high enough to direct the header goalward. Unfortunately that was to be the last action for Harnwell, who had to be helped from the ground with what appeared a serious hamstring injury. Such was the dominance of Glory’s new defensive partnership of Todd and Coyne that Fury striker Jeremy Brockie was totally starved of opportunities throughout the half.
Branko Jelic made his first appearance in Gloory colours by coming off the bench early in the second half and wasted no time in showing he’ll be a menace in front of goal. Unfortunately, the striker squandered a trio of guilt-edged chances, including a volley from just 5-metres and a close-range header which he sent high. Glory’s defence was prised open for the first time on 70 minutes when James Robinson forced goalkeeper Tando Velaphi into his first meaningful save. Adriano Pellegrino was almost rewarded for his endeavour in the 77th minute but shot was cleared off the line. Former England international Robbie Fowler entered the fray at half-time for Fury and twice could have equalised late in the piece. In the 88th minute Fowler shot narrowly wide with only the ‘keeper to beat, and in stoppage time he was found unmarked at 8-metres but again fired wide.
WATT POWERS UP FOR JOONDALUP (with Chris Corriea, Football West)
ECU Joondalup has produced one of their best performances of the season to defeat Premier League leaders Perth SC 3-2 at the Edith Cowan University campus. Perth may have been the first on the scoreboard but two goals by English import Jamie Watt and another from Garin Collins - all in the space of twenty minutes - swung the game in the hosts favour. “Every game is important but we needed that victory after five straight league losses,” said Joondalup coach Syd Amphlett. “Hopefully this result can reignite our season and put us back on course for what we planned for at the start of the season which was a top five finish.”
It was clear from early on that this was going to be a tight encounter with neither side giving so much as an inch. Just under a quarter-hour had been played when Perth hit the front, David Onoforo playing a brilliantly passed across the face of goal to Phil Arnold lurking at the back post from where he made no mistake at close-range. But that lead lasted less than a minute before Watt looked up from the centre circle and expertly lobbed over a surprised goalkeeper Simon Madaschi, who was caught well off his line. Two minutes later and the home side was again celebrating when Collins' precisely struck free-kick from wide on the left flashed into the top right corner with Madaschi.
Collins almost had his hand in another goal by sending a dangerous cross from the left to the far post where an unmarked Jake Benson-Cooper headed just wide with Madaschi scrambling. Joondalup's third arrived ten minutes out from the interval, Ryan McDarby's ball out of midfield finding Watt who made no mistake with a close-range header that bounced into the back of the net. Perth had a late chance to reduce the deficit when veteran 'keeper Andy Petterson fumbled a simple save, allowing Arnold to steal possession and fire at an open goal only to have Dan Allen get his body in the way to prevent a certain goal.
Second half chances on few and far between but not through a want of trying on behalf of either side. A dreadful error by Petterson in the 80th minute opened the door for Perth to snatch a late point, the 'keeper failing to take a regulation save and Onoforo was on hand to finish the convert of chance by blasting into the back of the empty net amid calls for offside. Antonio Naglieri and Greg Sharland were prominent as Perth threw everything at their hosts in the time remaining, however, they were unable to get the better of a resilient defence before referee David Costello signalled the end of play. The win puts some much needed breathing space between the foot of the table and Joondalup, who are now only four points outside the top five.
KNIGHTS DOWN INGLEWOOD TO JOIN PERTH AT THE TOP
David Micevski and Anthony Campbell catapulted Western Knights into joint top spot by scoring in today's 2-0 win against Inglewood United at Clipsal Stadium. The Knights dominated the game but were forced to wait until the final twenty minutes before getting on the scoreboard. Inglewood got proceedings underway but were soon under pressure with Oliver Taseski bravely saved at the feet of Anthony Campbell as he bore down on goal. Dannie Richman went even closer at the other end, his superb curling shot from 18-metres clearing the crosbar by the narrowest of margins. The Knights increased the intensity and a long ball down the right took Duuane Hepburn inside the 18-yard box where Taseski was again quick off his line to smother. Then David Price sizzled a first time shot just wide with the 'keeper at full-stretch. It wasn't until late that the Knights felt any meaningful pressure as Inglewood won a succession of corners, however, goalkeeper David Khuen remained untroubled.
A poorly defended corner lead to some nervous moments for the home team soon after the break as shots by David Annall then Campbell were blocked by the defence before Taseski pounced on the loose ball under pressure from Barry Devlin. Play was pretty much one-way as Daniel Micevski's fierce drive deflected wide off Jason Colli, while Okwy Diamondstar snatched the ball high from close-range. A rare Inglewood attack had Richman get in behind the defence and from an acute angle blazed across the face of goal as two better positioned team mates waited in the middle of the area. The much anticipated breakthrough arrived on 73 minutes when David Micevski side-footed accurately into the bottom corner after Hepburn's cross was spilled by Taseski. Daniel Micevski's rasping drive was paddled over by Taseski and Campbell headed just wide at a free-kick as the Knights turned the screws. The points were made safe in the 88th minute when Campbell rose highest to head in a corner from the left by David Micevski.
OLIVER STEALS CANNING A LATE POINT
Paul Oliver’s stunning free-kick two minutes from full-time rescued Canning City a 3-3 draw from an action-packed contest with Swan United at the Willetton Sporting Complex. Canning looked finished when Damien Scali fired Swan ahead with little over a quarter-hour remaining, minutes after the hosts went down to ten men with the dismissal of defender Jon Mathers. But the game was far from over and just six minutes after coming off the bench Oliver stole the home team a deserved point. “I’m happy to get the goal to earn us a point but I thought we deserved three on our performance today,” said Oliver. “We totally dominated the first half and the sending off hurt us in the second but we’re delighted to have got something from the game.”
The rain clouds were threatening to split open when Daniel Trevisiol sent in a low cross from the left that an unmarked Greg Newcombe slapped into the net at close-range after only 5 minutes. Canning continued to press and on 16 minutes Paul Van Dongen sent Mathers clear down the left, his cross found Newcombe but the striker was denied his second of the afternoon by goalkeeper Gareth Deeg. Play remained one-way and two minutes later Roberto Lujan’s long-range effort was deflected goalward by Newcombe with Deeg showing tremendous reflexes to save low to his left. An animated Paul Lincoln inspired his team into action and on 22 minutes Scali headed just wide at the back post from Paul Dugdale’s cross.
It was a warning Canning failed to heed as five minutes later they were caught napping by a short corner that Dugdale whipped to the far post where an unmarked Shane Webb headed past Kenny Ftynogiannis. Play was now end-to-end with good openings coming the way of both teams. Brendan Craig smacked a long-range shot just centimetres high of the crossbar, and seven minutes later Van Dongen sent Versaico clear but Deeg was alert and cleared the danger. As half-time approached Canning grabbed the lead, Lujan running the ball inside the 18-yard box where he was felled by Aaron Cole, referee Michael Tolme had no hesitation in pointing to the spot from where Trevisiol sent Deeg the wrong way.
The second half was three minutes old when the teams were again level, Scali fending off Rory Mouttet to get in a cross which David Perich slid into the net from only a few metres. It was a bitter blow for Canning but they should have re-taken the lead on 55 minutes when Deeg fumbled a long-range attempt by Versaico and at close-range Newcombe somehow fired the loose ball wide. The game took another twist on 66 minutes when Mathers was caught offside, the defender was booked for dissent but unfortunately continued to remonstrate with referee Michael Tolmie who had no option but to issued a second yellow card. Swan capitalised seven minutes later as Scali sent Ftynogiannis the wrong way from the penalty spot following Luke Doyle’s foul on Dugdale.
Swan could have sealed victory in the 81st minute but Million Butshiire flashed just wide after a terrific lead-up involving fellow substitutes Neill Hughes and Trent Wood. Butshiire squandered another chance soon after when he latched on to a Webb through ball only to again place wide of the target. Canning put themself back in the game on 88 minutes when David Perich’s foul on Trevisiol gave the hosts a free-kick some 18-metres from goal, the perfect distance for Oliver to curl over the defensive wall and into the top corner of the net. The action didn’t end there as both sides attempted to nick all three points, however, Versaico fired just high and Perich scuffed wide after his initial shot was blocked by Ftynogiannis.
ROBINSON THE HERO FOR REDS (by Tim Lefort, Football West)
James Robinson struck a dramatic injury-time winner to give struggling Armadale a 1-0 victory over Cockburn City in a passionate encounter at Dalmatinac Park. The home side fought gallantly following the 28th minute dismissal of goalkeeper Nick Feely and looked set to take a point before Robinson poked home a corner to make it back-to-back victories for Brad Hassell’s side. “To their credit they defended really well and if it had ended 0-0, I really couldn’t have complained because they defended well and we just couldn’t break them down,” said Hassell. “We persisted and had some really good chances and some good one-on-ones, we just didn’t put them away but we never gave up and scored in the last minute.”
Renato Jelen had the first shot of the afternoon, his effort from distance fizzing just over Alex Pearson’s crossbar. Minutes later at the other end Gary Bunting’s free-kick from the right beat everyone but Feely was down smartly to gather. Armadale should have opened the scoring after 21 minutes when Jeff Bright played down the left for Mo Atak who delivered a superb cross that an unmarked Kieran Tracey sliced horribly wide from 9-metres. The hosts were fortunate not to have Ryan Pretorious sent off for pulling down Robinson, who had only the goalkeeper between himself and the goal. Bunting wasted the resultant free-kick by firing straight at the ‘keeper, then a rare Cockburn attack had Llewellyn Bake snap wide from the top of the area.
Cockburn’s day took a dramatic turn for the worst just before the half hour when referee David Scragg was left with no option but to red card Feely after he’d come out of his area and instinctively thrust out a glove to block Robinson’s attempted chip. Jason O'Byrne took over between the posts with creative midfielder Aaron dos Santos the unlucky player sacrificed. The replacement ‘keeper was immediately called into action but had no problem saving Danny Mahoney’s poor free-kick. Either side could have held the lead at half-time, but Robinson fired well wide of a gaping net after rounding O’Byrne while Michael Grigo put the ball over from 10-metrs after Michael Mirco’s long-range effort was deflected into his path.
Despite their numerical advantage, Armadale were unable to create any clear-cut chances in the early stages of the second period. Robinson glanced a header wide from a Mahoney cross for their nest effort, while Bunting’s angled drive cleared the bar. But as the ten men of Cockburn began to tire, the visitors sensed an opening and on 83 minutes Tracey poked the ball just wide after a surging run by Mahoney. Robinson did well in cutting the ball back from the bye line for substitute Matt Benion who blazed over from the edge of the area. In a rare threat on the Armadale goal, Jelen drove the dead ball high as a bit of niggle crept into the match. That spilled over with two minutes remaining when Tracey was dismissed for dissent.
As the regulation time came to an end Cockburn twice had O’Byrne to thank for keeping the teams on an evening footing. Atak’s attempt to walk the ball through the area was thwarted by O’Bryne, who shortly after had his reflexes tested in saving low from Robinson. However, the striker was not to be denied and, with the final whistle just seconds away, Robinson was in the right place at the right time to divert a low corner past the unlucky ‘keeper to give his side all three points. In fact Robinson might have made it two-nil moments later but his low drive from a tight angle flashed narrowly wide of the far post. But it mattered not as a delighted Hassell was able to celebrate a well-deserved victory.
TEN-MEN OF MANDURAH STAND TALL TO FLOREAT (by Michael Bate, Football West)
Mandurah City completed a brave rearguard action to cling on and earn a 1-1 draw with Floreat Athena under lights at Litis Stadium last night. It was resilient performance from the visiting side, who had midfielder Stephen Payne sent off after 27 minutes. However, that came after Brad Scott’s penalty conversion cancelled out an earlier finish by debutant Nicky Platt. “We’re delighted with a point, to be fair,” said Mandurah coach Stuart Currie after the game. “We played 60-70 odd minutes with ten men against a good side so it’s a great point for us, and we had two good chances in the last five minutes to win it.”
A fairly tame opening was punctuated on 17 minutes when Payne twice beat John Migas before delivering a low cross to Platt, his initial effort was blocked by goalkeeper Alex Dunn who was powerless to prevent the English import from slotting in the rebound. Eight minutes later Jason Barrera swung a low free-kick into the 18-yard box where Jason Bonser was ruled to have pulled the shirt of an opponent, with Scott blasting his spot-kick straight down the middle with ‘keeper Phil Straker diving to his right. The game reached flashpoint a few minutes later when Payne’s boot caught the top of Mikulic’s head as the pair tangled, and after consulting with his linesman referee Paul Anderson produced a red card.
The second half was pretty much one-way traffic with Floreat creating by far the better opportunities. Josip Magdic was played in by Barerra’s lofted pass but his effort was saved by Straker, Callum Roberts was unable to connection properly when presented with a free header, then substitute David Foster fired high after being set-up by Migas. But the best chance of the period came at the opposite end where Christian Paschkewitz went for power over accuracy and blasted well over the crossbar. The final ten minutes saw Magdic, Simon Elton-Bott and Foster each go close to grabbing a late winner. Johnny Mirco thought he’d got it when found at the back post only to be thwarted by Straker’s stunning save.
BALCATTA STAY TOP
Ashley Rosendale’s second half hat-trick paved the way for Balcatta to come from behind and defeat South West Phoenix 3-1 at WesTrac Stadium in Bunbury. The best of the early chances had Andy O'Neill played clear but denied by goalkeeper Ryan Montgomery, the ball then spilled to an unmarked Rosendale but his shot from 9-metres crashed into the upright. Steve Suttie put Phoenix ahead on the half-hour with a glancing header from Rory Binnie's cross after 'keeper Chris Ramsey had parried an initial shot from the scorer. Balcatta always looked dangerous going forward and would have levelled on the stroke of half-time had Andy O'Neill's header been anywhere but straight at Montgomery.
Patrick Quinn was within inches of doubling the hosts advantage early in the second half, and soon after Bobby Klenkoski hit the post as Balcatta upped the ante. The turning point arrived on 65 minutes when Klenkoski was recklessly brought down inside the area, his penalty kick was saved by Montgomery who fouled Ian McKean at the follow-up to return the ball to the spot. This time Rosendale stepped up to convert and put Balcatta back in the hunt. With six minutes to go Balcatta were awarded another penalty, this one for handball against Ryan Risdon, and again Rosendale fired into the net. The points were made safe in stoppage time via an explosive Rosendale free-kick from 25-metres that gave Montgomery absolutely no chance.
FREMANTLE AND DIANELLA SPLIT THE POINTS
Fremantle Spirit played out an entertaining 1-1 draw with Dianella White Eagles on a wintry afternoon at Wauhop Park. The home team settled quickly after kick-off and soon began their assualt on the Dianella goal with Roberto Colalillo and Peter Vukmurovic going close to breaking the deadlock early on. Once Dianella found their rhythm they started to take control, however, there were few ways through a Fremantle defence under the command of Josh Wade and Tom Straker. Their best opening came shortly before half-time when a Dragan Njegic free-kick ripped through the defensive wall only to crash into unsuspecting goalkeeper Dane McBride, who was fortunate to keep the ball out of his net.
The rains tumbled down as play streamed from end-to-end at the start of the second half. Stefan Smiljanic and Dimce Tanseski were causing the home defence all manner of troubles and it looked only a matter of time before Dianella would take the lead. But the visitors were left stunned when, in the 69th minute, Ravi Kuppusamy prompted despatched the ball into the net after latching on to a cross from Nuno Loreta. The lead lasted all of five minutes before Njegic made no mistake from the penalty spot following a clumbsy foul by Wade on Smiljanic. The closing stages were frenetic finish and if not for wastefulness in front of goal either team could have snatched a late victory.
MORLEY THRASH QUEENS PARK
Morley Windmills showed no mercy as they inflicted an 8-0 walloping on a hapless Queens Park on a wintry afternoon at Wotton Reserve. Jake Harman and Martin Sherwin ended the day with three goals each as Morley strung together successive wins for the first time in almost three months. The first half was a relatively even affair in terms of possession, Queens Park carving out their best chance of the game that Laurence Flomo failed to convert. Morley always looked the more likely to score and that they did in the 38th minute when Sahar Konomani drove into the net after his initital shot came back off the post. And it would have been two-nil at the break had Jake Harman been able to get the better of goalkeeper Keegan Savage in a one-on-one.
The mounting pressure proved too much for Queens Park just before the hour when Sherwin headed in, and six minutes later Jake Harman was positioned well at the back post to add Morley's third. The floodgates had been prised open and in the 73rd minute Jake Harman turned sharply inside the 18-yard box before blasting past the 'keeper. Sherwin got his boot to the ball ahead of Konomani to put away his second, then Jake Harman completed his hat-trick with 81 minutes played. Queens Park were reduced to ten men when Mark Humphrey was issued his marching orders for retaliation, and soon after Sherwin made it seven-zip. Morley saved the best until last with veteran Scott McIlroy unleashing a sensational volley from 25-metres which flashed past the 'keeper before hitting the back of the net.
RUKAVYTSYA BOOSTS WORLD CUP CHANCES
FC Twente striker Nikita Rukavytsya has given his World Cup chances a timely boost by scoring in front of Socceroos boss Pim Verbeek. Rukavytsya, who represented Australia at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, came off the bench to add the finishing touches to his club’s 2-0 friendly defeat of Borussia Monchengladbach. “If I have caught (Verbeek’s) eye then great but this was only a warm-up game and I know that if I’m not playing regularly then I won’t have any hope of doing enough to be selected for the World Cup squad next year,” Rukavytsya told ‘the World Game’. “If I can break through this year then I’m a chance because it would be a big step for me to be a first teamer at such a good club as Twente.”
Rukavytsya, who was born in the Ukraine and moved to Perth at the age of 14, said the next year would be the most important of his life. “The World Cup is close now and there probably aren’t too many spots up for grabs but I believe that I can still get there, even though many people would see me as an outside chance,” he added. “I’m in a country where coaches love to give young players their chance and Twente is no different. There’s no better country for an emerging player to learn the trade and I’m hoping to learn fast. I’m working hard on every aspect of my game - particularly just being more consistent and making the most of every scoring chance I get.”
THE PREMIER LEAGUE IN PREVIEW
It's a blockbuster start to the thirteenth round of Premier League fixtures with Floreat Athena up against Mandurah City under lights at Litis Stadium tonight (8.00pm). Floreat coach Michael Roki will be looking for a much improved performance after his team went down to strugglers Armadale last time out. "We were punished for complacency in front of goal, but that's taking nothing away from Armadale," Roki said. "A win this week would give us a nine point gap on the Dolphins in the race for third place, and also a critical game in terms of breaking away from the 'packed' middle of the table,"
Mandurah fought back from being a goal down to earn a point against Stirling Lions last week, but coach Stuart Currie knows Floreat will provides a much sterner test for his team. "We're looking forward to the game and are confident we can get a result, however, Floreat are a great side and will be looking to rebound after their defeat last weekend ... as long as we do not go two-nil up then we have a chance,” joked Currie, referring to Mandurah's loss to Perth SC earlier in the season. Phil O'Callaghan scored twice last week to take his league tally to eight goals but, unfortunately, Mandurah will be minus Andy Brown (suspended) and Chris Currie (injured) for the trip while Chris Wylie faces a late fitness test.
Inglewood United's season goes on the line when they welcome second-placed Western Knights to Clipsal Stadium on Saturday (3pm). Each is coming off good wins - Inglewood at Sorrento and the Knights against ECU Joondalup - and with both wanting another three points this promises to be a cracker. Alex Stamatiadis returns to the Inglewood engineroom having served suspension while Rory Grant comes up against his team mates of last season. Anthony Campbell and Cormac Dawson have been figuring prominently of late for the Knights, who'll have American import David Khuen between the posts in Frazer Siddell's absence.
Former Perth Glory team mates, Scott Miller and Brad Hassell, come face-to-face when Cockburn City and Armadale meet at Dalmatinac Park (3.00pm). "Brad is a great mate so this weekend should be fun," said Miller, coach of Cockburn. "He has picked up a couple to his squad but more importantly recruited quality players so it's another good challenge for our boys." Veteran Michael Mirco and youngsters Ryan Pretorius and Michael Grigo have been in terrific touch for the home side of late. Armadale imports Danny Mahoney and James Robinson were outstanding last week against Floreat, and the return of defender Matt Bennion increases defensive depth for the Reds.
Top of the table Perth SC travels north to play ECU Joondalup (3.00pm). It's been a horror month for the northern suburbs club, but if they think it's about to get easier then they had better think again. Coach Syd Amphlett will be without imports Steve Porter and Davvyd Jones, but will have the services of central defender Charlie Comyn-Platt, who started for the first time for a month last week at the Knights. Perth are likely to be missing Todd Howarth, who is poised to step into the national league arena with Perth Glory, along with injured striker Ian McMurray, but otherwise coach Graham Normanton has a full complement from which to select.
It’s a real six-pointer at the Willetton Sporting Complex where Canning City hosts Swan United (3.00pm). News that influential midfielder Paul Oliver may miss the remainder of the season after the recurrence of a knee injury is a savage blow to Canning’s hopes of a top five finish. However, the Premier League’s newest team heads into the weekend full of confidence on the back of some strong recent performances. Swan is without midfielder John Mansaray for the game, while a cloud of doubt hangs heavy over club legend Damian Scali.
The round concludes on Sunday when Stirling Lions welcome Sorrento to Macedonia Park (3.00pm). Their early season meeting produced six goals and a point each, and with the sides languishing towards the foot of the table this will be another fiercely contested encounter. Stirling aren’t proud that they’ve got the league’s worst defensive record, mind you, it’s only marginally better than the Gulls, and both camps will have their fingers crossed of getting a result. The game is live on Heritage 107.3FM, commencing 2.45pm.
THE FIRST DIVISION IN PREVIEW
Tomorrow afternoon’s game in Bunbury between South West Phoenix and Balcatta is the pick of this week’s First Division action. Inconsistent would be the best way to describe Phoenix’s recent form and unless they can collect all the points then they may as well kiss goodbye their promotion hopes. By contrast, Balcatta have charged to the head of the table on the back of an eight-game unbeaten streak. Wanneroo City, currently second, have looked a little shaky of late and won’t be looking forward to the visit of Gosnells City, who have won three of their last four games.
Mauro Marchione took over as coach of Bayswater City during the week and will be without suspended pair Paul Hickey and Tommy Jones when Forrestfield United, who has not lost in three months, visit Frank Drago Reserve. Dianella White Eagles’ season is following an all-too familiar pattern and it’s hard to see bringing much from the trip to Fremantle Spirit. Home side Morley Windmills have run hot and cold but should get the better of bottom of the table Queens Park, while the late game is the crucial relegation scrap between Rockingham City and Ashfield at Lark Hill Sports Complex.
PLATTEN OVERCOMES INJURY HURDLE
Sorrento defender Daryl Platten is determined to make his mark at the club he joined last summer after spending much of the past three months on the sidelines. Platten, signed from Armadale during the off-season, entered 2009 with high hopes but has seen very little game time due to injury. “It’s been a frustrating year for both myself and the team, so I’m very happy to be back playing and focused on getting Sorrento as many wins as possible,” said the 23-year old. “The injury happened against Inglewood in the first game of the season, it took a while for the specialist to diagnose hairline stress fractures in my right knee along with a torn meniscus.”
Not a lot has gone right this season for current Premier League champions Sorrento. A dozen games into the campaign and the Gulls are positioned ninth on the table having managed to scrape together only three wins and three draws. “A lot of injuries and a couple of suspensions have been the main factors,” Platten said in accounting for his team’s inconsistent start. “We have really missed the likes of Brodie Martin, James Morgan and Reece Vittiglia who - if fit - would have been a big part of the squad. I think things will start to turn for us now, we’ve got a good team spirit and just need to work that little bit harder to make things happen for us.”
Even though Sorrento is well down the Premier League table, Platten remains confident the club can still qualify for the end of season play-offs. “The game last weekend was very frustrating, we could have won but credit to Inglewood United as they set up very well against us and made it hard for us to break them down,” said Platten, whose team is only a handful of points outside the top five. “The feeling in the change room after the game was one of disappointment and frustration. But I believe we can still make the top five. The league this year, apart from the top three, is so tight from fourth to bottom so a couple of wins and we are back in the mix again.”
Sorrento’s next outing has them visiting Macedonia Park on Saturday for what Platten expects will be a very tough assignment. “Stirling Lions will be a very tough match, they have proved that they will be tough to beat over the past couple of weeks and also against us on two occasions,” he said. “I know a fair bit about Stirling as I’ve played under both Mike Lyons and Gary Williams, they will be very organised and disciplined. The two main players we have to watch are Marc Anthony and Jordan Rhodes, both are fantastic players in my opinion but hopefully we’ll be on our game this week and get the three points.”
NO JOONDALUP RETURN FOR MCMURRAY
Lanky striker Ian McMurray is disappointed to be missing this weekend’s trip to ECU Joondalup. McMurray enjoyed his three and a bit seasons at Joondalup and was looking forward to a return north, however, a knee injury suffered against Canning City has put him out of contention. “I was looking forward to returning to the campus but I got a knock in the first half last week,” he said. “After seeing the physio on Wednesday night it turns out I’ve strained ligaments in my left knee, and unfortunately won’t be available this Saturday.”
Joondalup captain for much of his time at the club, McMurray knows better than most that they’ll fight tooth and nail right up to the very end. “It will be great to see all the boys up at Joondalup again and I’m sure Syd (Amphlett) will have them pumped and ready for the game,” added McMurray, a one-time Scotland youth international. “It’s a massive game for both teams. Joondalup are down at the wrong end of the table and fighting for every point, and we really want to bounce back from a poor performance on Sunday and get back to the way we usually play.”
McMurray moved to Dorrien Gardens in May and admits he is enjoying wearing a slightly lighter shade of blue these days. “I’ve settled in well. All the boys are great, everyone has made me feel very welcome and I am really enjoying it there,” McMurray commented. “Normo (Graham Normanton) is a great coach, he’s very professional and focused, is very honest and tells it how it is. If we play well he is first to pat us on the back but if we play badly then obviously he is first to get on at us to make it right.”
Perth was very fortunate to come away with the points last weekend when they struggled to break down a resilient Canning line-up. “It was very tough game, and we know that every team we come up against is going to make it hard for us and on Sunday Canning took the game to us,” McMurray said. “But we’re very happy to get three points from a hard fought match. On some weeks our passing game won’t work for us and we will have to dig deep and work hard to get the result like we did against Canning.”
SAGE DEMANDS STADIUM ACTION (courtesy the "West Australian")
Furious Perth Glory owner Tony Sage has again demanded an upgrade to the “substandard” facilities at Members Equity Stadium after a huge downpour and howling winds threatened to wreck last night’s football spectacle. Sage forked out $2 million to bring English Premier League clubs Fulham and Wolverhampton Wanderers to Perth, along with A-League newcomer North Queensland Fury. He was rewarded for his investment when nearly 15,000 fans braved the weather for last night’s double-header in which former England striker Robbie Fowler scored in Fury’s 2-1 loss to Wolves, followed by Fulham’s 5-0 drubbing of Glory.
But the heavens opened during the second half of the Glory-Fulham game and sent fans on the eastern side of the ground and in the Family Stand at the southern end ducking for cover, before most abandoned the match and went home. “The only thing that put a dampener on it was that rain and it just proves to me and everyone that the ground needs to be upgraded,” Sage said. “If you had covers on those stands they wouldn’t have been empty by the end of the game, they would’ve been full as they were at the beginning of the game. It really does prove that Perth does lack very good facilities and that’s the thing I was most disappointed with, for the fans sitting out there to pay $50 a ticket to get wet for more than half of a game.”
Sage hopes the move by Super 14 rugby side Western Force to the East Perth ground will entice the State Government to approve an upgrade of the eastern stand. “The Premier (Colin Barnett) came to the game on Friday night and he’s very aware of the situation,” Sage said. “He knows Frank Lowy’s probably going to be successful in getting a World Cup bid up but he also knows that it’s seven or eight years away before a new 45,000-seat rectangular stadium will need to be built. If we can get $45-55million to upgrade that eastern stand that’ll fit 4000-5000 people under cover, that will be a fantastic start ... The good thing about it is the Western Force are with us now for the next three years and (the Government) has certain obligations to the Force as well, so we’ll be swept up into that.”
HALPIN SETS COURSE WITH ROCKINGHAM (by Adam Stewart)
The recruitment of former Perth Glory player Scott Halpin has stepped up Rockingham City's battle to avoid relegation. Halpin, who played in excess of 20 times for Glory, showed his class and put some distance between Rockingham and drop zone by scoring a match winning hat-trick in the 4-0 weekend win at Queens Park. This came hot on the heels of his return to the club when the busy playmaker scored in the home draw with Forrestfield United which earned Rockingham their first league point in over two months.
Halpin figured prominently when Mandurah City won promotion to the top flight in 2007, however, he had effectively retired from football after knee injuries forced him to sit out all of last season. The 38-year old commenced a new fitness program six months ago which saw his return to the pitch with the Rockingham Master's team, where his touch in and around the penalty area was reaping an average of six goals a game. So with the club's Saturday side badly in need of on-field experience and leadership, coach Paul O'Brien successfully lured Halpin back to semi-professional ranks.
Within hours the rumour mill had kicked into gear with suggestions Halpin was recieving 'big dollars' to play for Rockingham, sparking talk of a 'mass walkout' by the existing player group. As it turned out, both rumours were false. "I am being paid the same amount as the other guys - I am not even sure what that amount is - but I am not on two or three hundred dollars a game as reported by some people," Halpin commented when asked what money he was receiving. But having hit four goals in two games maybe the club should consider upping his wage bill.
The bottom line is Halpin plays football for the love of the game and is focused on helping his club climb well clear of the relegation zone. "Paul (O'Brien) and the coaching staff are very positive and professional, and it is great to be part of a young and enthusiastic side," he said. "Paul and I discussed what my role will be and I am happy to play that role and be a part of a great club." Upcoming home games against Ashfield and Morley Windmills have the potential to define Rockingham's season, and if Halpin continues to lead by example then their First Division survival will all but be assured.
Subiaco's Under-15 team have made history by defeating Finnish side IFK Grankulla to claim bronze at the 2009 Tivoli Cup in Denmark. The Subiaco teenagers defeated Skultuna (Sweden, 9-0), Harrie Kavlinge (Sweden, 3-1) and Hillerod B (Denmark, 4-0) in between draws with Bones Krakenes (Norway, 1-1) and Alholm (Sweden, 0-0) in the group phase before out-shooting Hillerod A from the penalty spot in the semi-finals. They have since moved on to Sweden to compete in the Gothia Cup.
Michael Di Fulvio has tendered his coaching resignation at First Division club Bayswater City. Di Fulvio, who played for Inglewood United and Swan United before being forced into retirement by a chronic back problem, entered the year hoping to improve on last seasons' fourth placing only for those plans to unravel under a crippling list of injuries and departures. Mauro Marchione, until recently coach of Queens Park, has taken up the reigns at Bayswater.
Young attacker Phil Arnold has rubbed shoulders with football royalty this week by training alongside Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler. Arnold, currently part of Graham Normanton's squad at Perth SC, spent the early part of the week training with Fowler and his North Queensland Fury team mates before coming on 75 minutes into their loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers last night. Arnold has been asked to remain with Fury for Saturday's friendly against Perth Glory in Mandurah.
Urban Football Australia is launching its inaugural 3v3 Tournament for junior and youth players at Craigie Leisure Centre next month. Played using a Futsal ball with Street rules and to the sounds of hip hop and the latest funky tunes, UFA provides an opportunity for junior and youth players to express themselves with the only limitation being their own imagination. For more information log onto thesoccerlounge.com.au or contact Urban Football Australia via email@example.com
FULHAM THRASH NEW-LOOK GLORY
Fulham wrapped up its pre-season tour of Australia last night with a 5-0 routing of Perth Glory at Members Equity Stadium. A crowd of 14,903 - the biggest to attend a Glory home game since the inception of the A-League - watched in awe as Erik Nevland scored three times in seven minutes to guide to Cottagers to a comfortable victory. Despite the lopsided score line Glory coach David Mitchell was pleased with how his new-look outfit performed against one of England's top clubs. “For long periods of the game I was happy but then Fulham scored a couple of goals and their confidence went up and they showed what a quality side they are. They’re playing in Europe in a couple of weeks and they’ll do well no doubt,” Mitchell said. “We’re still a new team blending and have a couple of players we want to bring in and have a look at. From my point of view this has been a good exercise and we’ll learn a lot from that.”
A purposeful start from the visitors saw them threaten after just 3 minutes, Bobby Zamora playing into the path of Zoltan Gera but the Hungarian international scuffed wide from the edge of the 18-yard box. That early escape seemed to serve as a wake-up call for Glory who upped their game almost immediately and soon after Mile Sterjovski was thwarted by Chris Smalling's superb sliding tackle. Fulham opened their account in the 16th minute when Chris Baird’s flighted through ball picked out Andrew Johnson, and although Aleks Vrteski parried his initial effort the England striker hooked in the loose ball from close-range. A midfield arm-wrestle then began to develop, with neither side able to mount any periods of sustained pressure. Scott Bulloch brought the crowd to its feet with a thumping volley which had goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer scrambling, while not long before the break Danny Murphy skied his effort as the rain began to tumble down.
Glory made a bright start to the second half with a half-chance coming the way of Wayne Srhoj, then Jamie Harnwell rose highest to reach a Pellegrino corner but headed narrowly wide. However, Fulham seized control on the hour when Gera played in Johnson who showed great awareness in squaring for the unmarked Nevland to fire in. The home defence was prised open again four minutes later as Nevland burst clear to rifle his second past 'keeper Aleks Vrteski. 68 minutes were on the clock when Johnson's terrific reverse pass exposed the Glory defence, allowing Nevland to complete his hat-trick by chipping into the top right-hand corner. From then on it was party time for Fulham and as the match opened up, Andranik put the icing on the visitors cake in the 83rd minute with a clinical finish after accepting a slide rule pass from defender Adrian Leijer.
Perth Glory: Aleks Vrteski, Jamie Coyne, Andy Todd, Jamie Harnwell, Victor Sikora (Ryan Pearson 71), Wayne Srhoj, Scott Neville (Naum Sekulovski 63), Scott Bulloch (Dean Evans 84), Eugene Dadi (Brent Griffiths 78), Adriano Pellegrino, Mile Sterjovski (Million Butshiire 74)
Fulham: Mark Schwarzer (David Stockdale 46), Stephen Kelly, Chris Baird (Matthew Saunders 76), Ki Hyeon Seol, Andrew Johnson (Erik Nevland 46), Zoltan Gera (Andranik 62), Danny Murphy (Fredrik Stoor 62), Aaron Hughes (Matthew Briggs 70), Bobby Zamora (Eddie Johnson 46), Chris Smalling (Adrian Leijer 70), Toni Kallio (John Pantsil 46)
Bookings: Bulloch (15)
Referee: Ben Williams
Venue: Members Equity Stadium
MAHONEY PREPARES TO DIG IN FOR ARMADALE
Armadale have former goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock to thank for pointing new recruit, Danny Mahoney, in their direction. The two played together at English club Bamber Bridge so when Mahoney was looking for a change of scene he called up his former team mate. "Cyril put me in touch with Armadale and I just thought I'd head down under and give it a go," he commented. "I'm enjoying it so far, the lads are a good bunch and the coaches, Brad (Hassell) and Robbo (Steve Robinson), are also good guys. We now need to knuckle down and pick up some points."
Mahoney, who spent a season on the books of English League Two club Morecambe, admits he is still working his way back to full match fitness having last played a competitive game some time ago. "I haven't played for a couple of months an I'm just starting to get fit, I think I need a couple more weeks before I can get back to my best," said the midfielder. "It's pre-season in England so I have just got to do a little bit extra in between sessions at Armadale, I'll just get my head down and do my best."
Having donned Armadale colours for the first time in the Cup loss to Floreat Athena, Mahoney helped the Reds overturn that result when he made his league debut on Saturday. These two outings have given the midfielder a good feel for the local game, and already he's seen enough to know there are aspects of his game he might need to work on. "The standard is good here," he said. "I would say it's a lot more physical in the UK, and I will have to adjust my game accordingly with my tackling as the referees (in Perth) seem to pick up every hard tackle."
Although only 22, Mahoney has built up a wealth of playing experience which will no doubt benefit Armadale greatly in coming months. "I've enjoyed my time in the game. I played for Wigan for nine years, all the way through the youth system, which was great," he commented. "I then went to Blackpool for a while before I signed for Morecambe three years ago. I then moved on to the semi-pro leagues, playing for Bamber Bridge, Lancaster City and AFC Fylde."
There have been plenty of highs and lows in Mahoney's career with those falling in the former category by far out-weighing the later. "It was great to sign a professional contract at Morecambe, but unfortunately things didn't work out," he added. "Other highlights for me include playing for Wigan in the Umbro tournament, and although we didn't win it was a good experience. And of course playing for the local side FC Cramteeth with my mates - I hope they read this!"
LOCAL QUARTET INVITED TO NATIONAL YOUTH CAMP
Four of the state’s most promising young talents are staking their claim to nation honours in Canberra this week. Alex Grant, Tom King, Jessie Makarounas and Sahr Musa, all members of the National Training Centre squad, are amongst the 29-players selected to attend an Under-15 National Training camp under the watchful eye of coach Jean Paul De Marigny at the Australian Institute of Sport. “Opportunities like this one are beneficial in developing the skills and confidence of these players, and Football West is working hard to create more opportunities for identified players in our National Training Centre,” said Andrew Bettell, the organisation’s development manager. The week-long camp acts as the first stage of preparations for next years AFC Under-16 Championship qualifiers.
BALCATTA TO GO UP!
Balcatta have emerged as the red-hot promotion favourite from the recent footballwa.net poll. 341 votes were received during the 13-day polling period in response to the question 'Who will win promotion to the Premier League in 2009?' Top of the pile were Balcatta with 29% of the vote to finish well clear of Wanneroo City (24%), who polled strongly in the first few days of counting. South West Phoenix (13%) came in a distant third and trailed by Bayswater City (11%) and Forrestfield United (9%). Rounding out the field were Fremantle Spirit and Morley Windmills (6% each) followed by Dianella White Eagles (2%).
NEW SIGNINGS A REMINDER A PAST GLORIES
Stalwart Jamie Harnwell considers Perth Glory's 2009/10 squad the best since the club was considered the benchmark of Australian soccer - and says the time has come for the West Australian side to finally make an impact in the A-League. The recruitment of Socceroos trio Chris Coyne, Mile Sterjovski and Jacob Burns plus veteran Englishman Andy Todd and Serbian striker Branko Jelic has considerably raised the bar according to Harnwell. "This is the strongest squad we have had for a long, long time, going back to when we won our championships there was that competition for places that we have got now," he said. "It is something we have been lacking for a number of years. It is going to be hard to get in the starting line-up, and that pressure for places will hopefully lead to better performances."
PERTH TEENAGER BOUND FOR ENGLISH TRIALS
A six-week trial with English club West Bromwich Albion awaits Perth SC teenager Alan Darlington. The talented 16-year old was identified last August by the English Championship while attending initial trials. Darlington performed well in trial games, setting up several goals and scoring several himself, and was asked to return this year to train with the team. Having first played football at the age of 5, Darlington has progressed steadily up the ranks at Perth, gaining selection of the Perth Glory junior development squad coached by Frank Arok as well as State Under-13 honours. Darlington lives in Waroona, a two-hour drive south of Perth, with his family driving him to the city up to five times a week for training sessions and games.
COYNE TARGETS SILVERWARE
Socceroos defender Chris Coyne hopes to win the A-League at the first time of asking when he joins Perth Glory for the 2009/10 season. Coyne, who'll meet his new team mates for the first time at training, has accepted a three-year deal with his hometown club. Senior Glory players and officials have publicly set the modest target of a maiden A-League finals appearance, but Coyne believes the team can go further and claim its first piece of silverware since the 2003/04 Championship. "I'm looking forward to it, a new challenge, a good club," Coyne told BBC Essex. "They've made some very good signings this summer so I'm looking forward to going and hopefully trying to win the league there this year."
Playing regular first team football was the major reason Coyne chose to return to Australia after a lengthy spell in the United Kingdom. Coyne received a no-frills assessment of his standing at Colchester United from boss Paul Lambert and left the club on good terms. "(Lambert) is an honest man and he told me exactly how he saw it and let me have my say and we left the conversation on good terms, shaking hands and wishing each other all the best," Coyne explained. "So there was no ill-feeling, no bad words - we're both professionals and knew what was best for both of us to go forward."
Also weighing in favour of a move back to Australia was the opportunity to play under the eye of national coach Pim Verbeek in the lead-up to next year's World Cup finals in South Africa. "I needed to be playing week-in, week-out and I couldn’t get that (at Colchester United)," Coyne said. "I wasn't getting that feeling from the manager and he'd already made a few attempts at bringing centre-halves in during the previous season. So I thought it was best for me to ensure, with a big twelve months ahead, that I was playing week-in week-out so that my national manager could see me playing. It's a childhood dream, although your country doesn't pay your bills, one of the biggest achievements you can get is playing for your country."
SMALL CROWD ANGERS SAGE
Perth Glory owner Tony Sage has lashed out at local football fans following a poor turn-out for Friday’s night’s pre-season glamour friendly with Wolverhampton Wanderers. Glory’s performance against the English Premier League club suggests the club will finally be an A-League force, however, Sage’s off-field plans failed to take flight with just 11,083 people attending the game. By contrast, 31,340 turned out to watch Scottish club Celtic down Brisbane Roar on Saturday, while Melbourne Victory’s game of the same evening against Fulham attracted a crowd of 20,666.
Sage, who has underwritten this week’s “festival of football” to the tune of $2 million, said the disappointing crowd had embarrassed the sport in front of West Australian Premier Colin Barnett. “It’s very disappointing … we had the Premier there and we’ve got to prove to him and all the other politicians that Perth is worthwhile investing in a rectangular stadium,” said Sage. “With only 11,000 people turning up, it doesn’t show a lot of support does it?”
But 13,000 tickets have already been sold for Wednesday’s double header which features North Queensland Fury verses Wolves followed by Glory against Fulham. With fine weather forecast, Sage said there were ‘no excuses’ should the numbers not improve. “I think the crowd can still redeem itself,” commented Sage. “I’m hoping we crash through the 16,000 to 17,000. That would restore my confidence in trying to attempt this in the future.” A big crowd on Wednesday should convince Sage of pursuing pre-season matches against European giants Liverpool and AC Milan this time next year.
PERTH EDGE OUT A BRAVE CANNING
Canning City were unfortunate not to have anything to show from this afternoon’s contest at Dorrien Gardens, where Perth SC rode their luck before emerging 1-0 victors. The win, courtesy of a lucky first half goal by Gary Greenhill, allows Perth to maintain their three-point lead at the top of the table. “We’ll take the three points. I was disappointed we didn’t play better but that’s football,” said Perth coach Graham Normanton. “Canning work hard and made it difficult for us but all teams do that, we’ve got to be smarter the way we go about our business. Despite the performance, it’s three points and it keeps our buffer at the top of the table.”
Canning’s first visit to Dorrien Gardens started positively, Simon Versaico forcing a neat post save from Simon Madaschi after 6 minutes. Versaico was involved again five minutes later when his long-range shot was deflected into the path of Roberto Lujan, whose fierce strike was pushed into the side netting by the goalkeeper. Perth were finding the going tough in the final third with their first opening arriving in the 17th minute when Antonio Naglieri sent Phil Arnold through on the right but after having beaten the last defender the attacker’s low shot was saved by Ken Ftynogiannis.
Garth Lecky headed high from a Lujan corner as Canning continued turning the screws. However, against the run of play and with a liberal dose of good luck Perth hit the front on 29 minutes. From his central position Naglieri put the ball wide on the left with Todd Howarth whose crisp first time cross was bundled into the net at the back post via the knee of Greenhill. Canning almost hit back immediately from the restart, Paul Van Dongen playing a neat pass straight down the middle for Greg Newcombe and although his low shot beat Madaschi it was narrowly wide of the post. And soon after Daniel Trevisiol brought a good low save from Madaschi.
With Graham Normanton’s half-time address still ringing in their ears, Perth began the second half strongly as inside a minute Arnold unleashed a powerful effort that Ftynogiannis did well to hold. Naglieri shot straight at the ‘keeper from distance, then Ian McMurray placed wide from a Greenhill cross. The home team were by this stage well on top with Sharland bringing another good save out of Ftynogiannis, who moments later kept out a hopeful long-range volley by Naglieri. Canning picked up the pace as the game entered its closing stages and Trevisiol’s pinpoint delivery was headed just wide by Versaico. But it clearly wasn’t going to be their day when a Lujan cross appeared to Howarth on the arm with the subsequent penalty appeals turned away by referee David Scragg.
CUP SEMI’S BLOCKBUSTER!
Football fans will have four weeks to decide which of next month's Soccer Pools Cup semi-finals they'll be attending. Western Knights Cup defence takes them to Dalmatinac Park where Inglewood United provides the opposition. Floreat Athena's quest to end a twelve-year Cup drought pits them against a young and enthusiastic Stirling Lions at Frank Drago Reserve. Both games will be played on the afternoon of Saturday 15 August.
FULHAM FAN FONDYKE BOUND FOR GLORY
Howard Fondyke has lived and breathed Fulham since he was a lad, so it's no surprise he's eagerly awaiting Perth Glory's pre-season friendly with the English Premier League side at Members Equity Stadium. The 19-year old midfielder, who attended trials at Fulham a few years back, is keeping his fingers crossed coach David Mitchell includes him in the starting line-up for this Wednesday's game. “It would be a dream come true to play against Fulham,” Fondyke said. “I pulled on the Fulham shirt twice while I was over there on trial and just to do that was amazing, it was a great experience.”
Fondyke, who came up through the youth ranks at ECU Joondalup, is on a three-year contract with Glory after impressing for their youth team. Although he admits he'd spend a few seconds in awe of the Fulham players, he is determined to stay focused and become an A-League regular in season 2009/10. Fondyke's immediate aim is to put a goal past Fulham stopper Mark Schwarzer – “It would be unbelievable to score against him,” he said - while long-term he hopes to one day return to England to play professionally for Fulham. Glory and Fulham go head-to-head from 8.00pm on Wednesday at Members Equity Stadium, with Wolverhampton Wanderers and North Queensland Fury meeting in the curtain-raiser at 5.15pm.
LAZARIDIS SUPPORT FOR NEW-LOOK GLORY
Former Perth Glory winger Stan Lazaridis has thrown his support behind David Mitchell by praising the depth of his new-look squad. The Glory coaching team have been hard at work over the off-season putting together the pieces of a puzzle they hope can return the West Australian club to its glory days, which have been missing since the new national competition was launched in 2005. Lazaridis, who now regards himself as an “avid fan” of the club he played 13 games for before retiring, was impressed with what he saw in Friday’s pre-season friendly with Wolverhampton Wanderers. “The first eleven could be filled by 17 or 18 players there now with Chris Coyne obviously adding to that, which will be a very good signing,” Lazaridis told Radio Fremantle.
Depth has been an on-going problem for Glory since the inception of the A-League, however, Lazaridis is confident this will no longer be the case. “What you have to remember with Perth is that what has always let us down is travelling and that’s where the depth of the squad has got to come. In previous years we’ve never really had that,” Lazaridis added. “You’re travelling away to Sydney on four- or five-hour flights and you’re probably going undermanned when you’re going over there. I think the depth will help us no end. Tony Sage and Dave Mitchell have realised that they’ve needed to do something if we want to be competitive enough and top six should be in our sights this year without a doubt.”
Lazaridis highlighted Glory’s defence as the key to success this season, with Coyne and former English Premier League defender Andy Todd providing a solid base from which to build. “(Coyne and Todd) are going to be like the ‘Rock of Gibraltar’ back there,” Lazaridis said. “Defensively it’s a very, very strong outfit and with Jacob Burns in front of that, shielding that defence as well, Mile Sterjovski, Branko Jelic … you start to go around the squad and you start thinking this really ain’t a bad team. I will say one thing though, it’s going to take a little bit of time for these players to gel, to get acclimatised and to get used to the way everyone plays ... there’s a little bit of a settling in time and these games against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Fulham and the other games they’ve got lined up will be important for the guys.”
IMPROVING ARMADALE UPSET FLOREAT (with James Wragg, Football West)
Armadale has overcome the odds by defeating high-flying Floreat Athena 2-1 at Alfred Skeet Oval. The three points gained are a major boost to Armadale’s attempt to climb out of the relegation zone, while for Floreat the loss severely dents their dreams of finishing on top of the table. “After winning the game last week I think we probably went in too confident and I don’t think we put 100% into our game today,” said Floreat coach Michael Roki, whose team defeat Armadale by the same score only a week earlier in the Cup quarter-finals. “Armadale look to be fighting against relegation but today they were more desperate and they did very well. They were working hard all day. They were hungry and eager for it looking for the result and we stepped back a bit today.”
It was a lively match that started brightly as both sides had promising opportunities. Gary Faria sent through Jason Robinson who did well to turn his defender before being halted by a terrific Dean Apelgren tackle. The resulting corner passed low across the face of goal to Robinson who blasted disappointingly high at the back post. Floreat’s first opening came when Josip Magdic skipped away from his marker and crossed for Johnny Mirco, who sliced well wide of the target. Robinson and Mirco each had further opportunities but neither was able to put the ball between the posts. The breakthrough came four minutes from the interval when Andy Bowyer controlled a long ball then forced his shot under Alex Dunn and put the home side one-nil up.
The second half was just as entertaining as the first with plenty of goalmouth action. The first real opportunity fell to Faria but he completely mis-kicked and a golden opportunity for Armadale to increase their lead went begging. They were made to pay for that miss and poor defending as, on 61 minutes, a trio of defenders allowed Jason Barrera to advance on goal from the halfway line before letting fly from the 15-metres with a well-placed shot into the net. Ryan Pearson then found himself in acres of space on the right and plenty of time to measure his shot but the young defender was unable to keep his swerving shot down under the bar.
Armadale re-took the lead in the 66th minute thanks to some persistent pressure inside the area which lead to Marlon Ramirez gathering a loose ball that he fired into the roof of the net from a few metres. Floreat tried in vain to get back on level terms with two explosive drives by Barrera being acrobatically saved by the very impressive Pearson, while Mirco and John Migas were also thwarted as the game neared the end. The hosts held on to take three deserved - and crucial - points which pushes them above Stirling Lions on goal difference and just one point behind ECU Joondalup in the battle for Premier League survival.
KNIGHTS OVERRUN TEN-MAN JOONDALUP (by Michael Bate, Football West)
Western Knights’ push for the Premier League title continues to gather momentum following a 3-1 victory over ECU Joondalup at Nash Field. Late goals from Anthony Campbell and Cormac Dawson condemned the young visitors to a fifth straight loss as the Knights moved level with Perth SC, who host tomorrow Canning City, on top of the table. “Today’s win was a good way to bounce back after the loss to Perth a couple of weeks ago,” said Knight coach Paul Price after the game. “I thought we deserved the win - we created half a dozen good chances and managed to take three of them so I’m very pleased with our performance.”
The game started at a frantic pace with both sides desperate to be first on the scoreboard. The home team mustered the first shot on target after 15 minutes but David Micevski’s long-range free-kick was comfortably saved by veteran goalkeeper Andy Petterson. The Knights dominated the first half, with Barry Devlin putting a free header just over the crossbar and Dawson half volleying high after stretching to get on the end of Daniel Micevski cross to the back post. Devlin should have scored with a free header that lacked the power to beat Petterson. Tommy Amphlett also missed a golden opportunity when he stroked into the outside of the post in a one-on-one with David Khuen.
The sending off of Steve Porter in the 62nd minute, for a reckless lunge on Annall right in front of referee Paul Anderson, intensified the pressure on the visitors. And two minutes later substitute Stanford Hepburn took advantage of some mis-communication between Petterson and Charlie Comyn-Platt to send a looping header over the ‘keeper. The introduction of Joseph Lado was to the immediate benefit of Joondalup with the substitute racing clear of the defence before delicately chipping the equaliser over Khuen. 83 minutes were on the clock when Campbell latched onto a flick on by Hepburn and slotted past Petterson. Dawson sealed victory soon after by reacting quickest to Campbell’s misdirected header which he fired into the net from the edge of the 18-yard box.
DOLPHINS AND LIONS SHARE THE SPOILS
Stirling Lions lost an opportunity to climb out of the relegation spot as a ten-man Mandurah City clung on for a 2-2 draw at Hyundai Stadium. Jason Mirco and Keith Clevenger each put Stirling in front only for Phil O'Callaghan to twice bring the teams level before Mandurah had captain Andy Brown red carded midway through the second half. A rejuvenated Stirling took to the park and fashioned an early shot for Clevenger who, after doing all the hard work, managed to shoot straight at Phil Straker. The visitors were rewarded for their midfield possession in the 12th minute when Mirco’s miss-hit cross drifted over Straker, who was positioned at the front post, and ricocheted into the net off the far upright. Stirling’s tails were up and less than a minute later Ludovic Boi weaved his way through the midfield before striking the ball just wide of the target.
Starved of possession, the Dolphins first look at goal came from Stephen Payne’s strike from distance. Stirling defended high and with Boi and Clevenger pressurising the defenders, it wasn’t long before the hope team increased the physicality. Chris Wylie earned himself a caution for a late tackle on Daniel Stoitis, and not long after Jordan Rhodes and Andy Brown tangled with the former seeing yellow. Stirling’s distraction proved costly not long after Michael Currie’s back post corner found an unmarked Ryan Townsend, whose header rattled the crossbar with O'Callaghan nodding in the rebound. Rhodes could have restored Stirling's lead on the half-hour but Straker's superb double save kept the sides level. That changed eight minutes later when Boi cut a swath through the Dolphin’s midfield to go inside the 18-yard box where he calmly cut the ball back for Clevenger to place past the 'keeper.
Mandurah needed only three minutes of the second half to equalise, Rafael Insaurralde’s cross picking out an unmarked O’Callaghan at the back post which he steered in at close-range. With plenty on the line for both sides the intensity increased and on 62 minutes Brown was issued a straight red by referee David Costello for a rough challenge on Michael Pugliese. Now with an extra man, Stirling looked to capitalise and Mirco went close on 65 minutes with a 22-metre strike that thundered into the crossbar. A golden opportunity went begging minutes later when Mirco’s cross landed on the head of a diving Boi but he was unable to keep it down. O’Callaghan created a rare chance for Mandurah on 81 minutes but his delivery eluded the boot of substitute Nicky Platt at the back post. Both teams had chances to snatch victory in the closing minutes but Miller saved well at the feet of O'Callaghan before Stirling midfielder Dean Evans slashed wide of the goal mouth.
COCKBURN THRASH WASTEFUL SWAN
Cockburn City made clear their intention of participating in the top five play-offs by sweeping aside Swan United 4-0 at the Swan Italian Club. Scott Miller’s side should consider themselves fortunate to go into the break with a 1-0 lead, however, a dominant second half performance gave the Cockerels a deserved three points. “Swans dominated for the last twenty minutes of the first half and had few good chances, which they never converted. We scored a vital goal on the stroke of half time and that was the deflator for them,” said Cockburn boss Scott Miller. “I was delighted with our second half performance, even before the sending off. We were a lot more fluent with our passing and we dominated.”
Swan were pleased match officials gave the Francis Street pitch the all clear after they’d spent the past fortnight patching the surface following a visit by vandals on motor bikes. Unfortunately, the heavy surface robbed the hosts of an early shot when Damian Scali’s through ball for Million Butshiire didn’t roll neatly and Nick Feely was out quick to clear the danger. Cockburn’s first opening came after 5 minutes when Michael Grigo’s close-range effort went narrowly wide after Paul Dugdale’s poor defensive caught goalkeeper Gareth Deeg in no-man’s land. Swan then started to take control and Feely twice had to be alert in keeping out headers by Scali.
A 21st minute corner by David Perich found an unmarked Aaron Cole but his close-range header was straight at the ‘keeper. Five minutes later Brendan Craig used to his pace to go clear of the defence, however, his initial shot was blocked by Feely and the follow-up was cleared off the line by Devon Spence. Cockburn were unlucky not to score on the half-hour when Dugdale headed against the frame of his own goal when defending a Grigo free-kick. The hosts pressed late in the half but Scali flashed a volley wide and Craig had an effort pushed wide by Feely. Cockburn too the lead against the run of play just before the break, Michael Mirco playing through for Renato Jelen, who was given far too much space before picking his spot past Deeg.
Cockburn made a double change at the break, with Adam Surjan and Cameron Edwards coming on in place of Gibson and Anthony Pereira. Edwards wasted no time getting involved and on 61 minutes sent in a deep cross which Jelen bundled into the net at the far post, and Swan appeals for handball were dismissed after Michael Nugus consulted with his assistant. It got worse for the home team two minutes later when Dom Ando was sent off his a second yellow card. Cockburn wanted to finish the game at this point but Deeg saved Josh Findlater’s rasping shot, while Llewellyn Bake fired wide from long-range. Their persistence was rewarded on 73 minutes when Grigo picked out an unmarked Ryan Pretorius, who headed in at the back post. Eight minutes later Feely hit a long clearance which Grigo latched on to and clinically finished past an exposed ‘keeper.
GULLS PAY THE PENALTY (with Tim Lefort, Football West)
Inglewood United recovered from being a goal down to defeat Sorrento 2-1 at Percy Doyle Reserve and keep alive their dream of making an appearance in the end of season play-offs. The visitors fell behind to Stuart Banks’ stunning long-range strike, but Mladen Kovacevic levelled with a bullet-like header before Rory Grant kept his cool to convert late from the penalty spot. Coach Alan Vest was delighted with Inglewood’s performance and the character they showed in coming from behind. “It’s always a tough game here. They’re a big side and they make it hard,” he said. “I thought we worked very hard, the last couple of weeks we’ve missed all our midfield, so we’ve re-adjusted a little bit and it’s paid off today.”
The visitors almost got off to a dream start when Albert Osei-Tutu found himself through with only goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock to beat but the striker dragged his shot wide. And moments later a stretching Mladen Kovacevic volleyed over from Danny Richmond’s left-sided cross. Sorrento’s response had Glen Thomas fired high from 13-metres, and an angled drive by Steve McDonald forced Oliver Taseski into a brilliant tip-over. Stuart Montgomery should have done much better than shoot weakly and straight at Taseski seven minutes later. Osei-Tutu’s effort after 31 minutes caused a great deal of concern for the home side, his snap-shot from an angle remarkably kept out by a diving Sharrock with Richman curling the loose ball just wide. Taseski ensured the side went into the break level with late saves to deny Todd Harnwell and McDonald.
There didn’t appear too much danger when a partial clearance fell to Banks four minutes after the break, but that was all changed when the veteran defender hit a blistering half-volley into the top corner from 27-metres, giving Taseski no chance. Parity was restored on 65 minutes when Matt Wardle’s wonderful cross was headed emphatically into the net by Mladen Kovacevic from 9-metres. Inglewood were on target again with twelve minutes remaining when Danny Cain up-ended Grant, who despatched the resulting penalty low and beyond the ‘keeper’s reach. Sorrento had a strong penalty appeal dismissed after McDonald went down inside the area. Sharrock did well to parry Grant’s powerful strike before the visitors were given a late scare in the form of a scramble inside the six-yard from which Taseski eventually emerged with the ball.
SUPER-SUB COWBROUGH PUTS BALCATTA ON TOP
Steve Cowbrough has catapulted Balcatta to the top of the First Division pile by scoring the only goal of today’s blockbuster showdown with Wanneroo City at Graham Burkett Reserve. The game looked destined to end without score when substitute Cowbrough headed into the net, securing the home team a much-deserved 1-0 win. Balcatta came out firing on all cylinders and were unlucky not to take a 3rd minute lead through Luke O’Neill, who fired against the crossbar following a defensive mishap. Bobby Klenkoski was thwarted by quick thinking defending soon after when Daniel Holgate failed to take the ball cleanly inside his 6-yard box.
Wanneroo were struggling to make in-roads against a well organised defence and threatened for the first time on 26 minutes when Chris Pugh placed his shot too close to ‘keeper Chris Ramsay. Klenkoski ghosted past a couple of opponents as Balcatta sought to capitalise on their dominance but the attacker’s cross was just out of reach for Ashley Rosendale and Ian McKean, who were both charging in at the back post. The final opening of the period came via a partially cleared Wanneroo corner which fell invitingly for captain Jay McDonald, whose first time effort was straight at Ramsay.
The second half was nine minutes old when Wanneroo were reduced to ten men, midfielder Rowdy Yates issued a straight red card for a dreadful two-footed tackle on Julian Piromalli. Few would have been surprised had Balcatta run away with the game at this point, however, Wanneroo defended staunchly to stifle their hosts. The best chance of the half came on 81 minutes when Rosendale failed by the narrowest of margins to connect with a cross from the right by Adam Luca. 95 minutes were on the clock when Luke O’Neill swung a corner to the near post where Cowbrough’s powerful header gave Holgate no chance.
PHOENIX RISE OVER DIANELLA
A late strike from Ryan Risdon has snatched South West Phoenix a 2-1 victory away at Dianella White Eagles. The win, just Phoenix's second in eight trips to Dianella Reserve, keeps the Bunbury-based club within touching distance of the First Divison leaders. The ball had been in motion only 2 minutes when an mix-up between Andy Cowley and Ryan Montgomery resulted in the later fumbling the ball and in an instant Dragan Njegic capitalised by slotting into an empty net. It took the better part of half an hour before Phoenix recovered with Patrick Quinn and David Murphy getting the upper hand in midfield. Their best chance to draw level came the way of David Rodgers but his hesitation to pull the trigger allowed 'keeper Matt Batigelli to block his shot.
A tactic switch that saw Jonathon Krawec move to the left side of midfield had immediate effect for the visitors, the teenager whipped a tantalising cross into the 18-yard box where Kieran Kavanagh and Rodgers combined to set-up Steve Suttie, who drove a crisp equaliser into the bottom corner. This lead to the intensity being taken up a notch by both sides and in the minutes that followed Rodgers went close with a header, then at the other end Montgomery was forced to acrobatically tip over a Stefan Smiljanic volley. There were eight minutes remaining when Suttie's cross was parried by the 'keeper to an awaiting Risdon who stroked in off the net from 14-metres. Rodgers almost sealed the win but was brilliantly denied his team's third goal by Battigelli before the referee brought the game to an end.
FREMANTLE OUT-CLASS ASHFIELD
Fremantle Spirit kept pace with the First Division leaders by taking care of Ashfield 2-0 when they met on a chilly afternoon at Ashfield Reserve. It took only a few minutes for the visiting team to take control of proceedings with some good movement and sharp attacking down the flanks. Ashfield’s main avenue to goal was by playing the ball long for lone striker David Gee, however, very little of substance amounted from this ploy thanks to the efforts of defensive pairing of Tom Straker and Josh Wade.
The reward for Fremantle’s dominance came on 17 minutes via a Ravi Kuppisammy cross which was spilled by the goalkeeper, allowing Peter Vukmirovic to calmly round goalkeeper Todd Busby before slotting into the bottom corner. Roberto Colalillo and Nuno Loretto provided good width as the port side went in search of a second goal. It arrived just before half-time when good work down the left featuring Wade and Adrian McBride resulted into the later delivering a high cross which Cisco Jorqueira headed in at the back post.
Spurred on by a vocal home crowd, Ashfield emerged for the second half fired up and determined to find a way back into the game. On several occasions they caused the visiting defence problems, especially when attacking down the left channel where James McPhail and Natyapong Narophongtn teamed to great effect. But it was by no means one-way traffic and if not for a well-organised defence lead by Sean O’Reilly and Aaron Moschopolous, coupled with some wayward finishing, the final margin could have been greater.
WOLVES EDGE OUT GLORY
English Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers has limbered up for the coming season with a 1-0 win against Perth Glory at Members Equity Stadium last night. Sylvan Ebanks-Blake netted the decisive goal in just the 2nd minute, however, Glory were by no means out of their depth against their highly-credentialed opponents by creating numerous chances of their own. “It was the first time a lot of our players have played together. I think in patches we played really good football and other times we were a bit sloppy, but that’s to be expected with the quality that (Wolves) are,” said coach David Mitchell said. “We’ve got a lot of things to work on still but there were a lot of good performances from our players.”
Both teams experimented with their line-ups in a friendly clash that was played at a decent pace and in good spirits. Barely two minutes were on the when Chris Iwelumo’s clever flick-on found Ebanks-Blake, whose initial close-range shot bounced back off the post the striker put away the easiest of tap-ins. Glory could have been level soon after when Mile Sterjovski was found unmarked by Jacob Burn but drive just past the post from the top of the 18-yard box. Wolves posed the greater threat when going forward but on 14 minutes were forced into an early change when Iwelumo was forced from the field through injury.
Wayne Srhoj was next to try his luck for the home side, testing goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey with a shot from distance. The Welsh international was called into action again moments later, dashing off his line to foil the onrushing Sterjovski who had latched onto a deft through ball from Andy Todd. Wolves created some chances of their own with midfield cog Karl Henry influential and Ebanks-Blake a constant menace. Only a superbly last-ditch tackle by Jamie Harnwell prevented Ebanks-Blake from doubling his tally on the half-hour, and shortly afterwards Tando Velaphi produced a stunning parry from Andrew Surman’s curling effort.
Both sides took the opportunity to make significant changes at half-time, Wolves bringing on no less than seven players with Glory injecting Scott Bulloch and exciting 17-year old Million Butshiire. Andy Keogh almost doubled the visitors lead in the 65th minute when he cut inside Jamie Coyne before unleashing a fierce shot that came off the underside of the bar before bouncing away from the net. A minute later Buttshire showed his potential by latching on to a Srhoj pass and rounding defender Bobo Balde only to have second half ‘keeper Marcus Hahnemann came off his line and block the shot.
Otherwise the second half was a somewhat lacklustre second half as both sides probed for openings. Mitchell continued to introduce young talent with Scott Neville and Ryan Pearson both turning in lively cameo appearances while Velaphi further enhanced his growing reputation as full-time loomed. Keogh almost scored late when, having spotted the ‘keeper off his line, he attempted to lob Velaphi who brilliantly sprint backwards to tip the shot behind. Greg Halford went close in the last minute, but his on-target header was nodded off the line by Neville.
Perth Glory: Tando Velaphi, Jimmy Downey (Scott Neville 50), Jamie Coyne (Naum Sekulovski 74), Andy Todd, Jamie Harnwell, Jacob Burns (Howard Fondyke 85), Viktor Sikora (Scott Bulloch 46), Wayne Srhoj, Eugene Dadi, Adriano Pellegrino (Ryan Pearson 79), Mile Sterjovski (Million Butshiire 46)
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Wayne Hennessey (Marcus Hahnemann 46), George Elokobi (Matt Hill 46), Jody Craddock (Bobo Balde 61), Karl Henry (David Edwards 46), Sylvan Ebanks-Blake (Kevin Doyle 46), Stephen Ward (Richard Stearman 46), Christophe Berra (Nenad Milijas 61), Matthew Jarvis (Greg Halford 46), Chris Iwelumo (Andy Keogh 14), Andrew Surman (Ronald Zubar 61), Kevin Foley (George Friend 46)
Referee: Craig Zetter
Venue: Members Equity Stadium
THE PREMIER LEAGUE IN PREVIEW
Round Twelve of the Premier League is highlighted by some important mid-table games which could greatly influencing the participants play-off dreams. The first takes place at Percy Doyle Reserve where struggling Sorrento hosts Inglewood United (3.00pm). “It’s a massive game for the club if we have any ambitions to play finals football this year, it’s a real six pointer,” said Gulls striker Stuart Montgomery. “Training has been buzzing, all the boys want to get out there and show we are a good side and put ourselves in with a shot at the top five.”
Inglewood has won at Sorrento just once in nine visits and head north minus suspended midfielders Michael Baczynski and Alex Stamatiadis. State representative Jason Colli knows the importance of the tomorrow’s game - to both his team and the opposition. “It is a big game this weekend against Sorrento. They are tough to beat especially on their home ground, but we head there full of confidence,” he said. “If we play with the same determination as the last few weeks and play at our best we can come away with the three points.”
Western Knights host the free-falling ECU Joondalup at Nash Field (3.00pm). David Micevski has been devastating opposing sides from his position in the middle of the park, and with Mario Marcinko and Anthony Campbell banging in the goals the home team have every reason to fancy their chances. Joondalup won the corresponding fixture last season but need to improve greatly on their current form to take so much as a point from their visit. New recruit James Sammut provides some much need strength in the middle of the park, while big efforts are needed from Tommy Amphlett and Garin Collins.
On the road once again are Cockburn City, who tomorrow venture to Swan United (3.00pm). The Cockerels have a good record in the Swan Valley - they’ve lost once in six visits - and with Aaron Dos Santos, Brazilian import Renato Jelen and Michael Mirco in fine form are confident of heading home with all the points. However, Swan are unbeaten at home in their last four games. David Perich and John Mansaray have formed a strong understanding in the middle of the park and club legend Damien Scali would love nothing more than to bring up his 100th league goal on home soil.
Third-placed Floreat Athena travels down to Armadale for the second time in eight days (3.00pm). Goalkeeper Alex Dunn has been impressive during his extended first team run while David Foster returned to the scoring list in last week’s Cup win over the Reds. Armadale will look to new recruits Jeff Bright, James Robinson and Danny Mahoney as they attempt to secure some much-needed Premiership points. Young stopper Alex Pearson returns after missing the Cup round, however, Alan Muir and Mo Atak are absent through suspension.
Stirling Lions will be hoping to build on last week’s Cup win by taking home the three points from Mandurah City (3.00pm). Home coach Stuart Currie will look to inspiration from captain Andy Brown as ‘keeper Phil Straker comes face-to-face with former team mates. The Lions head south minus captain Darko Ilomanoski, who has returned to Macedonia, while there’s doubt over Marc Anthony and Andy Brown. Ludovic Boi and Dean Evans were excellent last week and similar efforts will be required if Stirling are to knock over their hosts.
The Sunday game pits Premier League leaders Perth SC against competition newcomer Canning City at Dorrien Gardens (3.00pm). Ian McMurray comes back into Perth’s match day squad after missing last weeks game due to being Cup-tied, while Greg Sharland is hopeful of making his return from injury. Canning’s plans of avenging the four-goal loss inflicted on them by Perth earlier in the season have received a boost with the arrival of ‘keeper Ken Ftynogiannis via Armadale and Paul Oliver return after serving suspension.
THE FIRST DIVISION IN PREVIEW
Top spot goes up for grabs when Balcatta and Wanneroo City lock horns at Graham Burkett Reserve tomorrow afternoon. Balcatta have lost in two months and the importance of continuing with that momentum going is not lost on coach Salv Todaro. "We're in the middle of a big month as we play teams that are all in with a chance of winning the league," he commented. "It should be a cracking game. Wanneroo will be going all out to stay at the top of the ladder and we need to get a result to ensure we continue pressuring them. These are the games all players want to play in as they get to play against the best in the league."
There's been a marked improvement in the fortunes of Ashfield of late so they'll be full of confidence for their home clash with Fremantle Spirit. "Fremantle are a decent side and we will have to be at our best to get anything from this weekend's game," said Ashfield coach John Castrilli. "In the past couple of weeks we have signed a few good players, namely Joseph Darbo, Natyapong Narophongtn and Irish import Darragh Kilkeevy, and with four others returning from long-term injuries we should finally begin to steer in the right direction."
Forrestfield United has moved into third place on the back of an eight-game unbeaten run, which is unlikely to end when they host Morley Windmills. South West Phoenix must come home with the goods from Dianella White Eagles if they are serious about mounting a title challenge. Similarly, a Bayswater City loss away to Gosnells City will effectively end their hopes of joining the top flight in 2009. It's a must-win game for Queens Park who'll take another step towards relegation should they fail to win at home against Rockingham City.
GLORY COMPLETE COYNE SIGNING
West Australian defender Chris Coyne is returning home to become the third current Socceroo to join Perth Glory after securing his release from Colchester United. Coyne, who had two years to run on his contract, agreed termination terms with the English League One club on Thursday night (Perth time) and is set to join fellow Australian internationals Mile Sterjovski and Jacob Burns at the A-League outfit for the new season. The 30-year old will sign a three-year deal with a Glory side now seemingly poised to break into the A-League finals for the first time.
After playing a key role in Australia’s qualification for next year’s World Cup, Coyne is convinced the move to Glory will enhance his chances of making Pim Verbeek’s 23-man squad for South Africa. “I’m glad it’s over,” said Coyne to end weeks of speculation about his next future. “Pim said it’s a good idea to come to Perth because he’ll get to see a lot more of me. And that’s helped make my mind up. I’m coming back while I’m still fit and strong and I think the club is going places. I think they’ve got a strong squad and there’s a lot of pace in good areas.”
Playing regular first team football at Glory will greatly enhance Coyne’s chances of making the 2010 World Cup squad. “This year will be all about putting myself in the shop window for the World Cup. I want to make sure I am there or thereabouts and it’s crucial I’m playing football week-in week-out,” said Coyne, who has amassed seven caps since debuting against Iraq thirteen months ago. “I feel I’ve always done myself justice when I’ve been selected. When I’m asked to do a job I always dig in and do my best and the main thing for me is to keep putting myself in a position where I will get those opportunities.”
Coyne is also excited about the prospect of lining up in a Glory team alongside his younger brother Jamie, 28, who made his Glory debut in the 2002-03 National Soccer League season. “It was a big factor and the fact that it’s my home club. I left Perth when Jamo was 14 so it will be good to play in the same team as him,” said Coyne, whose overseas career started at West Ham and took him to Dundee and Luton before he joined Colchester last year. “I might not have had another chance to do that.” Coyne will fly into Perth early on Sunday morning and is expected to commence training on Monday, although he is unlikely to feature in Wednesday evening’s friendly with Fulham at Members Equity Stadium.
COLLI BANKING ON FINALS FOOTBALL
Jason Colli has no doubts that Inglewood United will be in the mix for finals football come the end of the regular season. Big things were expected of the inner-city clubs at the start of the year but at the seasons' mid-point they're placed eighth in the twelve-team Premier league. "All is not lost - we're still very much in the hunt for a top five berth," Colli said enthusiastically. "There are only five points separating positions four to eight so if we can string some wins together I'm sure we will be there at the end of the season."
When looking for reasons why Inglewood have won only four of their eleven home and away games to date Colli says the impact of an early coaching change should not be discounted. "It's never an easy thing to change a coach so early in the season," he said, referencing the decisions of a few months back which resulted in former Perth Glory coach Alan Vest to take over from Lee Bamber. "A new coach brings new ideas and it takes time for the team to adjust and settle."
>From the outside it may appear Inglewood's play-off hopes have been irreparably damaged by the recent departure of long-serving midfield pair Kevin Griffiths and Michael Baczynski. However, that is far from the case. "They will both be missed but that's football," said Colli, matter of factly. "We've lost a couple of players but that presents opportunities to the guys on the bench and in the reserves to step up and play first team. Our reserves are on top of the table so we have the depth in talent to cover those losses."
Last weekend may have witnessed the turning point for Inglewood who came from behind to defeat Shamrock Rover and book a Cup semi-final appearance. "It wasn't our best performance but we still came away with the result. It gives us a lot of confidence to know if we do fall behind that we can come away with the victory," Colli said. "The second half of the season looks promising for us. We're getting more confident as a team and our belief in ourselves is growing. As long as we have the right attitude I'm positive we will finish the season off strongly."
Inglewood heads north to Sorrento tomorrow for what is a must-win game for both clubs. "It's important for us to take the three points because it will keep us in touching distance of the top five, but more importantly a win will give us confidence for the remainder of the season," commented Colli. But with Sorrento in danger of falling out of play-off contention, Colli knows this game has the potential of going right down to the wire. "Playing Sorrento on their home ground is always a tough task, they play it very well, but we know if we play to our best we can definitely win this game," he added.
NO HOLDING BACK FOR CAPTAIN HARNWELL
Players from both Perth Glory and Wolverhampton Wanderers may have talked down the likely intensity of tomorrow night’s friendly game at Members Equity Stadium but Jamie Harnwell won’t be holding back. Fans’ favourite Harnwell will wear the captain’s armband with pride against the English Premier League side and further endear himself to the local faithful with a typically committed performance. “You just have to look at the way the Premiership and the Championship are played, there’s tackles flying in there left, right and centre whether they’re best mates off the park or not,” Harnwell said. “So I’m not expecting anything different ... I think it’s going to be pretty full-blooded and I wouldn’t want it any other way and I don’t think the fans would want it any other way.”
Glory coach David Mitchell has stated that the club captaincy, a role filled last season by Jamie Coyne, is up for grabs this year. Harnwell, the club’s longest-serving current player, admits to being thrilled to be wearing the armband against Wolves but does not believe it is an indicator of things to come just yet. “Mitch has come and stated that he’s going to keep his options open. He’s just going to decide on how people train and how they play,” Harnwell said. “I’m just treating it as an honour, maybe it’s a tribute for past service, I don’t know. We’ll take it as that and see what happens going forwards.”
CAMPBELL LANDS ON HIS FEET WITH THE KNIGHTS
Western Knights stumbled upon a rare gem when Anthony Campbell fronted at Nash Field for pre-season training. The big Englishman has been a goal scoring sensation for the Knights but had it not been for a chance conversion in Pemberton he may not ever have joined the club. “I played for Pemberton in a scratch match against Manjimup and one of the officials asked me what level I’d played at, and I told him semi-pro in the UK,” Campbell explained. “He got me in contact with South West Phoenix, they were keen to sign me but with my partner being in Perth the travelling was a problem. He then contacted Tony Castiello at the Knights and the rest is history.”
In the space of a few short months Campbell and young gun Mario Marcinko have developed into one of the local scene’s most feared strike partnerships. Between them the pair have shared 27goals to propel their team to second in the Premier League and a Soccer Pools Cup semi-final appearance. “The teams going well at present and we’ve been performing at a high level all season,” commented Campbell on the season to date. “We had a good Night Series and we’ve carried on in the regular season and to be sitting second in the table and in the semi-finals of the Cup, we must be doing something right.”
The Knights entered 2009 with a new-look squad and under the guidance of former Tottenham Hotspur and Wales defender Paul Price. Many expected this season to be all about re-building for the club, however, Price and Castiello have quickly re-shaped and transformed the team into a serious title contender. “Paul’s quality, he’s always pushing you to your limits and is always giving you something new to focus on in your game,” said 30-year old Campbell. “It’s funny, the pair are like good cop-bad cop but this works well with the lads as they get the best out of every player in the squad.”
Campbell has a wealth of experience behind him from over a decade of pulling on the boots in England’s local leagues. There have been many highlights along the way for the Englishman, amongst them the chance to play along side one-time England international Kerry Dixon. “I played for a number of semi-professional teams in the UK and was at Dunstable Town in the Southern League Division One when former Chelsea striker Kerry Dixon was the player/coach,” said Campbell, who joined the Knights following a spell with Moat FC. “I’ve also had the opportunity to play at a higher level but I’ve worked and that’s held me back.”
While enjoying his State League football, Campbell feels the length of the local season is far too short and bemoans the lack of opportunities for teams and players alike to progress to the next level. “The standard of the league is good but the pace of the game is a lot slower than in the UK, you do not get much time on the ball over there,” Campbell said. “It’s a pity the league isn’t a bit bigger as well as we only play 22 games and the season is then over. We played 40 games a season at Dunstable, and some other leagues were more. Also, if you win the league there is nowhere to go, in the UK the semi-professional teams win their league and they go up to the next level but here the next level is the A-League.”
FOOTBALLWA.NET’S MID-SEASON REPORT CARD
Fans of local football are enjoying one of the most even and exciting Premier League competitions for many years. With Football West moving to a finals system to determine the State champion, all attention will be focused on the battle to secure top five spot at the completion of home and away fixtures. With the 2009 season at it's halfway point - and the field neatly grouped into the front-runners, the chasing pack and the relegation candidates - Tom Della Vedova recaps what has happened so far and takes a look at what lies ahead for each of the twelve teams.
|Score: 8/10||Currently: 1st||Our Predictions: 2nd (Tom), 1st (Peter), 3rd (Jacob), 5th (Brett)|
|Perth have established themselves as the attacking force of the competition, boasting a goal difference double that of the second best team. Coach Graham Normanton, a strong advocate for a finals system, has experimented with different formations throughout the season and will understand the importance of getting his side to hit top form in the immediate run-up to the play-offs. The worrying sign for the rest of the field is Perth are yet to consistently produce their best, havnig only shown glimpses of their brilliance between more laboured victories. No doubt stung after being dumped from Cup, expect Perth to take things up a gear in the second half of the home and away series. A top three finish is virtually assured.|
Key player: David Onoforo possesses one of the highest levels of 'football intelligence' in the State League. He is so much more than a penalty box predator as demonstrated in the recent win against Western Knights when Onoforo played in a withdrawn midfield position where his football smarts pulled the opposing defence to pieces.
|Score: 9/10||Currently: 2nd||Our Predictions: 6th (Tom), 5th (Peter), 5th (Jacob), 6th (Brett)|
|The prevailing view at the start of the season was the Knights are an emerging team and an appearance in the 2009 finals series would be just out of reach. After losing to ECU Joondalup on the first day of the season, the Knights went on to take 25 out of a possible 27 points - including an impressive 3-1 defeat of Floreat Athena (R4) - before finally going down by the same scoreline to Perth (R11). It may come as a surprise that the Knights boast the best defensive record in the league having conceded only 14 times! The fact that such a record has been achieved with a three-man defence, as is the preference of new coach Paul Price, highlights the effectiveness of the Knights’ central unit in controlling possession and applying pressure high up the pitch when they don’t have the ball. Although lacking the overall depth of Perth and Floreat, the Knights have a first eleven that on their day can defeat any team in the competition. With a top three finish now theirs to lose, the Knights will be a serious contender for both League and Cup glory come October.|
Key player: David Micevski is the jewel in the crown that is the Knights’ midfield. Whether it be on the wings or in the centre of the pitch, his combination of passing, movement, technique, shooting, dribbling and speed is a pleasure to watch. A formerly Australian Under-23 international, Micevski deserves to be playing at a higher level.
|Score: 7.5/10||Currently: 3rd||Our Predictions: 1st (Tom), 2nd (Peter), 2nd (Jacob), 1st (Brett)|
|Floreat are perfectly poised to launch an all-out assault on top position over the remaining eleven regular season games. After losing to the Knights (R4) they bounced back with an impressive sequences of victories culminating in a 3-2 win at Perth (R8), which saw Floreat reach the top of the league. Unfortunately, subsequent losses to Cockburn City (R9) and Canning City (R10) saw them slip back to third although a win over Swan United (R11) returned them to winning ways. Despite suffering the long-term absences of key players such as Vas Vujacic, Ante Kovacevic, Adam Bachillor and Julian Madaschi, the club possesses such depth that these players have been replaced relatively seamlessly. Floreat have so far justified the strong pre-season backing they received to finish amongst the leaders, and the Litis Stadium faithful will be dreaming of a possible League and Cup double.|
Key player: Returning from the ankle injury that hampered his second spell with Perth Glory, the sublimely talented Josip Magdic is yet to display the form which saw him torment defences in Floreat's undefeated championship in 2007. A brace against Perth (R8) provided a glimpse of his match-winning capabilities so expect Magdic to return to his best as he gets more time out on the park.
|Score: 6.5/10||Currently: 4th||Our Predictions: 7th (Tom), 4th (Peter), 6th (Jacob), 4th (Brett)|
|Mandurah have brushed aside the possibility of 'second year blues' by making a strong start to the season. After an early exit from the Cup, the Dolphins’ kick started their campaign by a 3-1 victory at Stirling Lions (R1), which included a stunning volleyed goal by captain Andy Brown. New signings Rafael Insurralde, Craig Young, Darren Broxton and Phil Straker have integrated well, and have contributed to Mandurah’s improved style of play in 2009. Coach Stuart Currie will be keen for his side to improve significantly at home - two wins from six games - as they seek to keep the chasing pack of challengers at arm’s length. Rumours of unrest emerged followed Jeff Bright’s departure but the loss of further players has not eventuated. Mandurah are a good bet to qualify for the finals, especially if they can pick up more points at Hyundai Stadium.|
Key player: Phil O’Callaghan has so far been unable to reproduce the goal scoring form which won him the Golden Boot last term. However, the Mandurah spearhead has still managed a respectable six goals and a scorer of his calibre should never be overlooked.
|Score: 8.5/10||Currently: 5th||Our Predictions: 10th (Tom), 11th (Peter), 11th (Jacob), 10th (Brett)|
|The only people not surprised by Canning’s early success are those from Canning themselves. The club’s seemingly over-ambitious goal of playing finals football in their debut Premier League season now appear well-justified. They play a very watchable brand of counterattacking football that features neat a interchange between speedy wingers and strikers, and in which the central midfield pairing of Paul Oliver and Paul Van Dongen have contributed a healthy dose of goals. There's a big question mark over whether Canning posses the strength in depth required to adequately cover the injuries/suspensions to first team players that inevitably occur over a long season. The answer to this question will go a long way to determining if Canning can achieve their goal of qualifying for the play-offs.|
Key player: The importance of Paul Oliver to the team is undoubted, with Canning dropping points when he has been unavailable due to injury or suspension. However, keep your eye on winger Roberto Lujan, the Bolivian has turned in a series of eye-catching performances with his speedy dribbling and hard-running testing many an opponent’s endurance.
|Score: 6.5/10||Currently: 6th||Our Predictions: 8th (Tom), 10th (Peter), 8th (Jacob), 10th (Brett)|
|A promising three months have put Cockburn just outside the finals position, a standing that exceeds most people’s expectations of the club. Consecutive beltings of Swan United (R1) and Armadale (R2) resulted in the Cockerels being the surprise early leader, however, they were unable to maintain that momentum and two draws in six games resulted in a slide back down the ladder. Spirited recent wins over Floreat (R9) and Canning (R11) have brought stability to Cockburn on the eve of the second half of the season. The departure of coach Mirco Jelicic and captain Johnny Mirco hasn’t noticeably effected the side, suggesting a resilient streak which belies the club’s somewhat unglamorous image. With seven of their remaining eleven game at home, don’t be surprised if Cockburn steal a finals berth.|
Key player: It’s difficult to nominate a single stand-out in a team of such evenly distributed of quality. Goalkeeper Nick Feely remarkable consistency has been rewarded with a national team training camp, while Paul Natale is an experienced State League player and arguably the single most important figure in Cockburn’s defence.
|Score: 6/10||Currently: 7th||Our Predictions: 11th (Tom), 9th (Peter), 10th (Jacob), 12th (Brett)|
|The dream of Swan playing finals football in 2009 is well and truly alive. A poor start saw them take just one point from four game, sparking much speculation that the black and whites time in the top flight was nearing an end. However, the critics were confounded as Swan turned things around with four wins from their next six games, highlighted by the drought breaking 3-0 victory away to Mandurah City (R5). The return of David Perich, David McNally and goalkeeper Cory Hugo played a major role in their resurgence along with Brendan Craig’s and Paul Dugdale’s recruitment and the emergence of quality younger players like Shane Webb. But in order to make the finals Swan are going to have to win all five remaining home games and also get a result or two on the road - neither of which is beyond them.|
Key player: Aaron Cole is one of the most respected players in the competition, having consistently performed at a high level for the best part of a decade. Cole’s defensive partnership with David McNally along with his ability to get on the scoresheet at set-pieces is going to be crucial to Swan’s success.
|Score: 5/10||Currently: 8th||Our Predictions: 3rd (Tom), 6th (Peter), 4th (Jacob), 3rd (Brett)|
|After an excellent 2008 campaign and an appearance in the Night Series semi-finals, Inglewood had good reason to have high hopes this year. However, things have not gone to script and their mid-table position would be considered a major disappointment by all at Clipsal Stadium. Inglewood has been unable to string together consecutive wins as they’ve run hot and cold, while the sudden axing of coach Lee Bamber did nothing to help the situation. Former Perth Glory boss Alan Vest is going to have to draw on his vast knowledge and experience in order to lead Inglewood to the play-offs. And while their finals dream is slowly dimming, Inglewood remain in the hunt for Cup glory.|
Key player: Oliver Taseski is perhaps the single most underrated player in the State League. The Inglewood custodian has been the stand-out over a number of seasons, regularly pulling off brilliant saves, while rare is it that he commits an error which results in a goal. In a quite literal sense, Taseski has single-handedly earned Inglewood many championship points over the season.
|Score: 4/10||Currently: 9th||Our Predictions: 4th (Tom), 3rd (Peter), 1st (Jacob), 2nd (Brett)|
|Widely predicted to defend their title before the start of the season, Sorrento failed dismally to live up to expectations. An early Cup exit and ninth on the Premier League standings are a major disappointment for the club that has won two of the last three championships. Although a number of the big name players that arrived in pre-season have since moved on, the core group that achieved success last season remains. Coach Steve Neville will seek to tighten up a defence that’s leaked 25 goals in eleven games. Although by no means out of the running for the finals, there will be little margin for error in the remainder of the regular season as Sorrento seek to overhaul the four teams occupying the spots above them.|
Key player: Between them, Stuart Montgomery and Todd Harnwell have over two decades State League experience. So if Sorrento are to rocket up the standings then it’s critical that their veteran strikers rekindle the strong understanding that blossomed last year.
|Score: 4/10||Currently: 10th||Our Predictions: 12th (Tom), 8th (Peter), 9th (Jacob), 8th (Brett)|
|A string of poor results has seen Joondalup tumble down the table and into the relegation mire. Early victories against Western Knights (R1) and Stirling Lions (R5) made for a positive start, however, the northern suburbs club have collected only four points out of the 21 on offer to slide into tenth at the half way point of the campaign. Of most concern to coach Syd Amphlett will be the fact his side has conceded 16 goals in their last four outings, while goals have been hard to come by at the opposite end of the park since Ian McMurray’s move to Perth SC. Joondalup’s ability to arrest their shocking form in coming weeks will be a major determinant in whether the nightmare of relegation can be staved off.|
Key player: State representative Tommy Amphlett is the one to watch in Joondalup’s fight to stay clear of the danger zone. Much of the scoring responsibilities have fallen on Amphlett’s shoulders of late and the young attacker is no doubt eager to add to the six goals he’s so far bagged this winter.
|Score: 4/10||Currently: 11th||Our Predictions: 5th (Tom), 7th (Peter), 7th (Jacob), 7th (Brett)|
|A disastrous start had many Stirling fans thinking the unthinkable - relegation for their beloved club. Winless through the first seven rounds, the Lions seemed to have turned the corner after thrashing Cockburn (R8), however, this proved a false dawn with heavy defeats to Canning City (R9) and Swan United (R10) in subsequent weeks. It has remained difficult to gauge Stirling’s form with a vital, although somewhat unconvincing, defeat of Armadale (R11) followed by a stunning Cup victory against Perth SC. The task of escaping relegation will be made more difficult with the likely loss of a number of key players to the National Youth League from August. Improving a leaky defence that’s so far conceded 30 goals will be the major challenge for coach Mike Lyons, himself a former defender. The chance of Cup glory is the light on the horizon in what has been a difficult season.|
Key player: An injury-plagued couple of years has seen Andy Brown limited to only a handful of appearances since helping Stirling win the 2007 Cup final. The burly striker has made his first team return in recent weeks, just in time to spearhead Stirling’s scrap to avoid relegation. Expect Brown to become a key figure for the Lions in the closing stages of the season as he returns to full fitness and as Stirling potentially opt for a direct and low risk style of football.
|Score: 3.5/10||Currently: 12th||Our Predictions: 9th (Tom), 12th (Peter), 12th (Jacob), 11th (Brett)|
|The spectre of relegation hangs heavy over the team from Alfred Skeet Oval. After a heartbreaking loss to Stirling Lions (R11), Armadale start the second half of the season at the foot of the table and two points adrift of their nearest rival. Armadale's chances of survival have been boosted by recent arrivals Jeff Bright and Alex Pearson, as well as the return of James Robinson from the United Kingdom. A crushing away victory of ECU Joondalup (R9) and a fighting draw with Perth SC (R5) have been their highlights to date, and suggest that on their day Armadale are capable of getting the results necessary to avoid relegation. If Armadale are to maintain their Premier League status into 2010, they will need to make the most of their six remaining home fixtures, which include crucial encounters against Stirling Lions and Joondalup.|
|Key player: James Robinson will be vital to Armadale's hopes of avoiding relegation. Returning to the club after a successful spell at the club last season, Robinson made an immediate impact by scoring a hat-trick in the demolition of Joonalup. The diminutive striker displays the touch, movement and goal scoring ability that was lacking in his namesake who played for Perth Glory not so long back.|
MAALI FINISH FOURTH IN TOWNSVILLE
Western Australia's Indigenous team, Maali, has exceeded all expectations by finishing fourth at this week's inaugural Indigenous Football Festival in Townsville. The team, made up of indigenous players from across the state, won two of their four games to much to the delight of coach Willie Devlin. "The boys have been absolutely professional throughout the festival, and have represented WA well in the tournament," he said. "For a team with only five players that play regular football, to finish fourth is truly a testament to their talent."
After participating in the opening ceremony, Maali defeated Eritja (Northern Territory) 4-1 with two goals from Callum Papertalk and one each for Jacob Collard and Rakheem Pickett. Papertalk and Collard tallied up another two goals each in the 4-0 win against Tarrabah(Tasmania). Despite playng some great defensive football, Maali went down 1-0 to Giralang Galang (New South Wales) in Teusdays' round of games. Papertalk and Pickett scored in the play-off for third/fourth which was won 4-2 by Borroloola (Northern Territory).
RUDD SCORES FOR AUSTRALIA
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd pushed the nation's bid to host the 2018 or 2022 FIFA in a meeting with FIFA President Joseph Blatter in Zurich today. Rudd was joined by Football Federation Australia officials Frank Lowy and Ben Buckley in discussing for more than an hour Australia's application to host the tournament with Blatter and Jerome Valcke, chief executive of FIFA. "President Blatter is already well aware of Australia's strong track record in hosting major events. But it was a very good opportunity for Mr Blatter to hear personally from the Prime Minister of the Government's support for the bid," Lowy said. "We also spoke of the importance of Asia for the future growth and development of football and Australia's place as part of the Asian Football Confederation." Individuals and organisations can join the bid by signing-up at www.australia2018-2022.com.au
NATALE SNUBS LEAGUE LEADERS
Paul Natale has rejected a tempting offer to return to Dorrien Gardens in preference of remaining with Cockburn City. Natale, a former youth team player at Perth SC, has already turned in numerous eye-catching displays for the Cockerels this season, performances that lead top of the table Perth to approach the 25-year old defender. "When a club like Perth come in for you, you do have to give it some thought," he commented. "It was a hard decision, but it's done now. I'm happy at Cockburn and time will tell if it was the right decision to stay."
Cockburn opened their 2009 campaign with a six-goal thrashing of Swan United, a result which made the rest of the Premier League field sit up and take notice. However, a poor frun of results saw the club in free-fall before a solid win against then leaders Floreat Athena got their season back on track. "It was a good victory but it was one we needed," said Natale. "The turn around of form was probably due to the real threat of relegation, and the departure of Johnny Mirco also gave everyone a rev up I believe."
Scott Miller, Michael Petkovic, Jason Petkovic, David Tarka and Anthonio Naglieri are just a few of the players who can proudly say they started their careers at Cockburn. And that production line continues to bear fruit with the club his season unearthing several talented youngsters that will form the basis of their future squad. "There are some promising young players at the club - Cameron Edwards, Devon Gibson, Ryan Pretorious and Michael Grigo are all doing very well considering it's their first State League season," Natale commented.
This weekend has Cockburn away at Swan United and Natale is confident his club will continue their improvement under Miller, who recently took over from Mirco Jelicic as first team coach. "Scott inherited Mirco's squad, which is a small one at the moment, so it hasn't been possible for him to change the starting eleven a great deal," explained Natale. "Scott has brought back some of the enjoyment to training, which had disappeared after a string of poor results. We now have confidence and everyone seems more refreshed."
The stamina of players in Lynwood SHS’s Soccer Academy will be put to the test when they’ll play a marathon football match in aid of charity next month. The game, a fundraiser for the school’s ‘Build a school in Cambodia’ project, will feature around 40 students who’ll play continuously for 24-hours from 9.00am Friday 21st August. Please contact Tony Campbell on 040 0440 632 if you can contribute food, prizes or team shirts, or wish to donate.
There was a distinct West Australian flavour to the Victorian Premier League select XI which met Melbourne Victory in a friendly on Saturday. Long-time Sorrento goalkeeper Neil Young, ex-Cockburn City defender Shane Nunes and former Floreat Athena striker Jerry Karpeh all featured for the Victorian representative side which went down 3-0 to the A-Leaguers.
Bayswater City’s title aspirations have suffered another set back with the retirement of Anthony McStea. The hard-working midfielder came out of retirement to play this season but increasing work commitments have led him to once again call it a day. McStea is the fifth senior player Bayswater have lost mid-season, joining fellow retirees Adrian Sutton and Tony Cumace while Daniel Cagorski and Damir Kudozovic remain on the long-term injured list.
Brad Jones won't have an easy run for the number one shirt at Middlesbrough this season after his club signed experienced goalkeeper Danny Coyne. It comes just days after Jones's rival for the gloves, Ross Turnbull, left the Riverside to join Chelsea. Coyne, a 36-year-old Welsh international 'keeper, joins from Tranmere Rovers where last term he was rated one of League One's best stoppers.
SALARY CAP HITCH IN SIGNING COYNE
The A-League salary cap could scupper Perth Glory's hopes of bringing Chris Coyne back to Australia. As the rules currently stand, there is a limit to the combined total of wages to able to be paid by A-League clubs who are allowed one 'marquee' player, whose wages will not contribute to that total. Glory have already designated Mile Sterjovski as their marquee signing for this season, meaning Coyne - who would likely command higher-than-average wages upon his return from Europe - would need to take a pay cut to play for the Perth club.
Coyne struggled to establish himself with League One outfit Colchester United last season and has received "quite a few offers" to rival that put forward by Glory. "I think there's other interest overseas in Dubai," Glory boss David Mitchell said. "We have put our offer to him and we are just waiting to see. It's been tight getting him in the salary cap but if he does come he's taking a significant cut in his wages for the first year, but it would be great if we get him. There is a feeling he wants to come back to Australia but again he's got quite a few offers and he's just weighing them up."
LEE BRANCHES OUT ON HIS OWN
The challenge of something new has lead former Perth Glory player Mark Lee to vacant his seat at Football West. After three years as a youth development officer with the association Lee felt the time was right for a change. “I’ll be launching my new business - Mark Lee Football Coaching - which will cater for players of all ages and abilities,” he explained. “This will allow me to explore other projects and allow me to coach more children. MLFC will work closely with SAQ and Football Tennis Australia in delivering coaching methods and programs to players all across Australia. There will be many other exciting initiatives for kids so watch this space.”
During those three years with Football West, Lee was instrumental in the establishment and day-to-day running a variety of coaching programs that he is confident will have a lasting effect on the junior game. “I really enjoyed my time with Football West and appreciate all of the opportunities that I received over the three years,” he commented. “All of those that have been involved in the development can be very proud of how we have changed the way the game is coached to children and the many more opportunities that are now available for youngsters which were not available before.”
Lee points to the growing number of West Australian youngsters to have wore national team colours as one the highlights of recent years. “I am proud to say that the state of the junior game has greatly improved over the last three years and I felt that it was time to take on a new challenge,” Lee added. “The Academy program has recently produced five Australian players, one of which captained the side on their recent Asian tour. From the holiday clinics all through the Academy, State and National Training Centre we are now producing players who are good enough to represent the country.”
Having seen limited time with Perth Glory last summer, speculation had been rife that Lee was to soon head back to State League football. However, the 2005 Gold Medal winner recently decided to football a miss this year. “No, I won’t be playing this season,” he said. “Just about every club has been in contact with me, which is very flattering, but I have decided to focus all of my attention on the business. At the weekend I did the Perth Marathon and I have been enjoying training for other events recently so that will be my focus this year.”
TO BE INJURY-FREE IS ALL WARD WANTS
Nick Ward is hoping a series of injections can bring to an end a frustrating run of injuries. The attacking midfielder has been hampered by injury during the past few seasons, starting at English club Queens Park Rangers and continuing through his two seasons with Victory. But a combination of the Victory medical and training staff and six glucose injections over six weeks have Ward in top shape for Saturday's friendly with English team Fulham. "The body's feeling really good. I've been having treatment on the groin and it's worked really well," Ward told the 'Sun Herald'. "I've had about six injections into the groin and it seems to have worked really well. It wasn't pleasant, but it's one of the things you've got to do."
Victory have been hard at work on the training track leading into the weekend friendly with Fulham, which provides a perfect warm-up for the fast approaching A-League season that commences on 6 August. "I'm really looking forward to (the Fulham game)," commented Ward, whose career started as a junior with Kingsway Olympic and ECU Joondalup. "It's a good test for us. They've got a game in Europe coming up and I'm sure they won't be taking it lightly. We want to put on a good performance and all the boys are looking fit and strong and, coming into the season, it's an ideal game for us."
Considered a key component of Victory's midfield when fit, Ward signed a two-year contract extension in the off-season to provide him with some stability as he looks to go through an entire campaign injury-free. Having played a key role in Victory's premiership-championship double, Ward is looking forward to continued success in the A-League, making an impact in the Asian Champions League and perhaps putting himself in the shop window for a second crack at Europe. "I'm happy here and I'm starting to get over the injuries and I'm just looking to play consistent football and do well for Melbourne Victory," Ward said. Fulham takes on Victory this Saturday at Etihad Stadium.
HIGH-FLYING WOLVES TOUCH DOWN IN PERTH
They don’t have the buying power of their heavyweight rivals but English Premier League club Wolverhampton Wanderers rolled out around $50 million of talent at yesterday’s first WACA Ground training session. Wolves, who earned their place among England’s elite by winning the second-tier Championship last season, arrived in Perth in the early hours of yesterday morning in preparation for Friday’s clash with Perth Glory at Members Equity Stadium.
The touring squad, which includes £6.5 million ($13 million) signing Kevin Doyle from Reading, will spend the next ten days in Perth as they continue to prepare for their return to the lucrative Premier League. Manager Mick McCarthy has been busy in the transfer market recently, snapping up Doyle, midfielder Andrew Surman from Southampton, defender Greg Halford from Sunderland, Red Star Belgrade midfielder Nenad Milijas and Ronald Zubar from Marseille.
BURNS FEELS THE HEAT OF EXPECTATION (courtesy the ‘West Australian’)
New Perth Glory midfielder Jacob Burns admits he is feeling the pressure to perform ahead of the 2009/10 A-League season. Burns is one of four big-name signings brought in this season, joining Socceroos team mate Mile Sterjovski, Serbian striker Branko Jelic and English defender Andy Todd, as coach David Mitchell hunts a maiden A-League finals appearance. “For sure, I think there’s pressure on all of us,” Burns told Shane Hope of the ‘West Australian’ newspaper. “Tony Sage has put his hand in his pocket and really wants to have a go at it and put Perth back on the map where they were when I was around (last time). They were such a tough force and I think with a good blend of experienced players and young players coming through that we can get up there again, get the crowds back and get a real buzz in the city again.”
After spending more than a decade in Europe, Burns said it would take time to re-adapt to the style of game in the A-League. “Over in England, Poland and Romania, with each country and each league you have to adapt and it’s going to be the same coming back here,” said Burns following yesterday’s training session. “It was our first session out there for us boys coming back from Europe and there’s always that physical presence in Australia and the pace of the game. Hopefully we can add to it and play our style of football as well.” While focused on the task at hand with their new club, both Burns and Sterjovski have an eye on the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and hope to be selected in Pim Verbeek’s squad for sport’s biggest showpiece.
ON THIS DAY … 1960
Robbie Dunn, Western Australia's third most capped international, was born on Wednesday 6 July 1960. Between 1985 and 1988 Dunn made 25 'A' international appearances for the Socceroos in a glittering career that included 167 games in the national competition. Scotland-born Dunn spent his junior days operating down the right wing with Kwinana United and by the age of 17 he was playing regular first team football for Rockingham City. After a season with North Perth Croatia, Dunn headed east for a year at Adelaide Azzurri before stepping onto the national stage with West Adelaide, where he played 58 times across two seasons.
A tall imposing figure on the field, Dunn's uncompromising defensive approach made an immediate impression on the national league. It was only ever going to be a matter of time before the national selectors came knocking and during his second season with Preston Makedonia (52 games) that the opportunity arrived. Dunn wore the green and gold of Australia for the first time in June 1985 against visiting Italian club Udinese, which was followed soon after by appearances against Yugoslav giants Red Star Belgrade.
Dunn made his 'A' international debut by coming off the bench in the September 1985 World Cup qualifier with New Zealand, and the following month scored twice in his first start for Australia against Taiwan. That November he was part of the Socceroos team that lost out to Scotland for a spot at Mexico 1986. Other highlights of his time with the Socceroos included outings with Argentina - who Australia beat 4-1 - and Brazil in 1987 along with appearances at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games against Yugoslavia, Nigeria and the USSR.
At club level, Dunn turned out for West Adelaide (19 games) in 1985 and called Melbourne Croatia (38 games) home for two seasons before bringing the curtain down on his national league career at the end of 1988. Upon returning to WA he played for Perth Italia in 1989 and that same year made his solitary appearance for the State team against English club Milwall. After two seasons with South China (Hong Kong) and another at Selangor (Malaysia) he accepted the role of player-coach with North Perth Croatia before hanging up his boots.
Dunn made a short playing comeback with Second Division club Cockburn United in 1995 before moving into amateur ranks with Melville Corinthian and these days he pulls on the boots for Perth Saints. Dunn's on-field achievements have been recognised with induction into the FFA Hall of Fame in 2001, and four years later was one of four Legends recognised by the Western Australian Football Hall of Fame. He was assistant coach at Perth Glory in 2008/09 and has been State team coach since 2008.
VELAPHI INJURY SET BACK
Perth Glory goalkeeper Tando Velaphi has conceded ground to rival Aleks Vrteski in the race for the number one jersey. Just a week out before Glory take on English Premier League new boys Wolverhampton Wanderers in a glamour friendly fixture at Members Equity Stadium, Velaphi has been sidelined by a hamstring injury. The 22-year old Olyroos ‘keeper sat out Saturday morning’s training session and will spend the coming week sidelined as coaching staff weigh up their options between the posts. “It’s just precautionary,” coach David Mitchell commented. “He just didn’t feel 100% so we thought we’d give him three or four days rest and see how he comes up. He’s got a couple of niggles, so we just want to monitor that. If he trains and makes it worse then it’s silly. We want to make sure that everyone’s taken care of and if he needs a couple of days rest, well, we’ll give him that.”
SIKORA WANTS TO STAY IN PERTH
Dutchman Victor Sikora has set himself a target of extending his Perth Glory beyond 2010. The former Ajax winger has a long-term vision, with the A-League and various other delights fuelling his ambition to remain in Australia for the foreseeable future. “It depends on how I do - when I do very well I hope to extend (my contract) for two more years,” he said. “Then I get three years here and maybe get a residency because I want to live here. It’s the best winter I ever had. (I’m enjoying) Australia in general and Perth is, of course, a good place to live. I talked to a few people over here and they said it’s the best place in Australia to live.”
Sikora, 31, made the switch to the A-League after a stint with Major League Soccer outfit FC Dallas. He joined Glory two-thirds of the way through last season and following the off-season signing of Mile Sterjovski, Branko Jelic, Jacob Burns and Andy Todd is looking forward to the coming campaign. “I think it’s going to be a good season because we’ve signed four or five good players. If they really go for it and fit in as well then we may have a shot in the league,” Sikora said. “Last year when I came in the players were very young. They’re good players, but I think we need (experienced players) like Andy Todd, we need those kind of guys.”
FLOREAT THROUGH AFTER ‘KEEPER HOWLER (by James Wragg, Football West)
Floreat Athena secured a place in the Soccer Pools Cup semi-finals with a 2-1 defeat of Armadale at Alfred Skeet Oval. The game was decided midway through the first half when David Foster capitalised on a disastrous mistake by young Armadale goalkeeper Robbie Easton. “The score is probably is a fair indication of the game, although we did have a couple of good chances in the first half to take a three-nil lead and probably secure the result earlier in the game,” said Floreat coach Michael Roki. “Armadale pushed a third man forward for the second half but some good ‘team’ defending made it difficult for them to break us down.”
The match came to life early with Armadale missing a couple of great opportunities, James Robinson heading past the target and Ryan Pearson driving narrowly wide. There was no such wastefulness from Floreat who hit the front after 11 minutes when Callum Roberts gathered possession from a throw-in and from outside the 18-yard box powerfully lashed into the net with the ‘keeper grasping at thin air. Roberts was then on hand at the other end to snuff out a promising move by the hosts, the midfielder getting in between Gary Faria and Kieran Tracey to send the ball to safety.
Floreat were gifted a second goal on 22 minutes when James Hesketh was forced to pass back to his ‘keeper who, with Foster bearing down, completely mis-kicked and with the ball bobbling towards the line Foster tapped into an empty net. But instead of dwelling on the incident, Armadale bouncing back with Marlon Ramirez and Robinson both having good opportunities to score before Daniel Neiderberger hit the crossbar with a header at the other end. Just before half-time Robinson got the hosts back in the game by heading in a long throw into the box which had been helped on by Hesketh
Robinson was unlucky not to bring the teams level after in the second period by flashing a shot the wrong side of the post. Josip Magdic, Neiderberger and Jason Barrera each had chances as Floreat attempted to kill the game off but all were unable to get the better of Easton. Armadale had claims for a late penalty after Robinson went down under a strong challenge and referee David Costello rightfully waved away the appeals. Branimir Mikulic should have added another to Floreat’s tally but instead fired straight at Easton. It was soon after that the referee’s final whistle signalled Floreat’s safe passage into the last four.
INGLEWOOD STUN SHAMROCK (by Michael Bate, Football West)
Inglewood United recovered from being a goal down with only minutes remaining to defeat a gallant Shamrock Rovers 4-3 in a classic Cup quarter-final game witnessed by a large and vocal crowd at Clipsal Stadium. Home captain Shane Pryce scored a dramatic winning goal in the first half of extra-time after substitute Mladen Kovacevic had snatched a last gasp equaliser in the final minute of regular time. Despite the loss, Shamrock Rovers can be very pleased with their performance in which they looked more than a match for their semi-professional opponents and were extremely unlucky not to pull off a major upset.
Shamrock got off to a dream - if controversial - start by going ahead in the 6th minute when a suspiciously offside Nick Carrol was ruled to not be interfering with play as he allowed the ball to run on for Brian O’Shea, whose centring pass provided Graham Byrne a simple tap-in. Inglewood grabbed a 20th minute equaliser, Albert Osei-Tutu winning possession just outside the 18-yard box before stabbing in a cross which Rory Grant headed past Owen Little. To their credit Shamrock continued to probe and inside three minutes had regained the lead as Shane McCarthy’s delightful through ball allowed Carrol to tuck past Oliver Taseski after the goalkeeper had blocked his initial effort.
Taseski was called into action again in the 35th minute when he pulled off a great fingertip save to keep out O’Shea’s deflected volley. Unfortunately his efforts counted for nothing as at the resulting corner Barry Mulligan climbed highest to nod in McCarthy’s ball to the back post. Mulligan went from hero to villain in just six minutes when issued a straight red card by referee Steven Gregory for kicking out at Pryce following an aerial challenge. Inglewood pulled a goal back from the resulting free-kick with Pryce launching a high ball into the box and Grant getting just enough of a touch to guide it past Little.
Despite being a man down, Shamrock came out firing for the second half and could have increased their lead on a number of occasions. The best chance came when Carrol’s quickly taken free-kick played in O’Shea but his shot was straight at Taseski. But soon the ten men of Shamrock began to show signs of tiring and Inglewood started to dominate. Robbie Fanning pulled off an important block to thwart Alex Stamatiadis, and then Pryce hit the crossbar from Jason Colli’s right wing corner. Inglewood grabbed a deserved equaliser in the 89th minute when Mladen Kovacevic got his head onto a Dannie Richman cross. Matt Wardle almost stole a regulation time winner but couldn’t keep down his shot from the edge of the area.
Extra-time opened with both teams determined to grab a winner rather than sit back and play for penalties. McCarthy came close with a free-kick which Taseski got across to make a strong save. Stamatiadis was given his marching orders in the 100th minute for a second booking, however, the red card didn’t affect the home side who just five minutes later had the lead. Shamrock failed to clear the danger after Mladen Kovacevic hit the post with a free-kick from distance with the ball eventually falling for Pryce to fire past Little. There was still time for McCarthy to pick up a second yellow card for dissent, and for Richman to spurn a golden opportunity to kill the game off when he fired wide when one-on-one with Little.
STIRLING GET THE BETTER OF PERTH IN NINE-GOAL THRILLER
Stirling Lions pulled off one of the upsets of 2009 by defeating Perth SC 5-4 in a pulsating Soccer Pools Cup-tie at Macedonia Park. A game full of twists and turns was eventually settled in extra-time when Perth captain Todd Howarth had the misfortune of scoring an own goal. Stirling coach Michael Lyons was thrilled with his teams battling, never-say-die performance. “There were a lot of turns in the game, and the effort of my players was tremendous,” he said. “We had a few players carrying knocks late in the game, but we had made all our subs and the players had to guts it out. We showed a great deal of character today and we hope to continue with it in the league.”
The home team fashioned the first opportunity on 6 minutes when Howarth headed high from an Antonio Naglieri corner. Only a few more minutes passed when a patient Stirling build-up saw Dean Evans fed Ludovic Boi whose shot from 18-metres was saved superbly by Simon Madaschi. Perth slowly established control and Howarth was again found at a corner but was denied the first goal by Matthew Italiano on the line, and ten minutes later Kevin Miller had to be alert to keep out Naglieri’s long-range effort. The hosts were rewarded for their dominance on 33 minutes when Genaveo Human was brought down by goalkeeper Miller, referee Ton Klaver had no hesitation in pointing to the spot from where David Onoforo made it one-nil.
Stirling re-grouped quickly and, in a sign of things to come, Boi blasted wide from the edge of the 18-yard box in the 37th minute. They need wait only another sixty seconds before equalising through Steve Hesketh’s curling delivery from the right which was misjudged by Madaschi but not Daniel Stoitis, who was placed well to fire in at the back post. The game took a dramatic twist on 42 minutes when Keith Clevenger charged down the left to put the ball with Boi, he was felled inside the area by Naglieri leaving referee Klaver little choice but to red card the Perth playmaker. Evans confidently stepped up to convert the resulting spot kick and give the visitors a half-time lead.
Stirling made the most of the extra player on 55 minutes when Boi hit a terrific through ball to sent clear Clevenger who, with the defensive looking for an offside flag, held his nerve to round Madaschi to put away the team’s third goal. Perth responded within five minutes when Onoforo scored his second from the spot following a handball decision against Evans. Parity was restored only six minutes later as Matt Danskin surged out of defence before finding an overlapping Arnold who drilled a low shot past Miller with 66 minutes on the clock. The whole complexion of the game had changed with Perth again holding the upper hand as Arnold crashed a shot off the crossbar.
The danger had barely passed when Perth hit the front via a Gary Greenhill corner which was cleared only as far as Oliver Swords whose rasping 22-metre drive beat Miller to send the home supporters into raptures. It looked like the end for Stirling, however, the young Lions are a resilient lot. A long-range shot by Boi was parried by Madaschi, who was helpless as Stoitis reacted instinctively to head the loose ball into the net from a few metres in the 84th minute. Then in stoppage time Perth thought they’d won it when Trent Kay’s shot fell kindly for Onoforo who drilled into the net, only to turn and find a flag raised for offside.
There were chances for both teams to snatch victory in extra-time as Arnold fired wide when well placed in the 97th minute, and Madaschi was at full-stretch to tip around the post a fine strike from Boi six minutes later. Hesketh whipped the resulting corner into a crowded area where an unfortunate Howarth headed into his own net. Perth pressed in the second period with Onoforo crashing a 113th minute header into the bar. With Perth pushing increasingly forward, Stirling should have added to their lead through substitute Ndumba Makeche but his low shot was saved by Madaschi. The 116th minute dismissal of Arnold for a second yellow card served only to compound Perth’s woes.
MARCINKO BLOWS PHOENIX AWAY (by Tim Lefort, Football West)
Western Knights cruised into the last four of the Soccer Pools Cup with a comprehensive 4-0 victory over South West Phoenix at Nash Field. A hat-trick from Mario Marcinko inside the opening twenty minutes ended any hope the First Division outfit had of causing an upset with David Micevski adding a fourth after the break. Paul Price was pleased to come away with a comfortable victory and admitted Phoenix were very much an unknown quantity to him before the game. “They looked like quite a young side but I didn’t know anything about them,” he said. “Mario’s scored a quick-fire hat-trick - that first goal was worthy of any game - so that was not the best for them and from then on it was a bit comfortable. All in all, I was happy to keep a clean sheet and score four goals and get through to the next round - and we didn’t get any bookings.”
After making the long journey up from Bunbury, Phoenix were forced on to the defensive when Marcinko opened the scoring after just 5 minutes, the striker blasting an unstoppable volley past goalkeeper Ryan Montgomery from an acute angle. Things went from bad to worse for Mickie Cairns’ team as, on 17 minutes, Marcinko headed in from a couple of metres after Cormac Dawson had headed a deep corner back across the face of goal. Sixty seconds later Marcinko completed his hat-trick to put the game well and truly beyond doubt with a crisp strike from the edge of the 18-yard box that flew into the bottom corner. The visitors battled hard with captain Paddy Quinn and Kieren Kavanagh combining well on several occasions, but they were unable to create any clear openings and went into the break wondering how they would turn around a three-goal deficit.
Any thoughts the visitors entertained of clawing a way back into the game were extinguished seven minutes into the second half when Daniel Miceski picked out his sibling David who made no mistake from 9-metres. Moments later the roles were reversed and only a spectacular tip over by Montgomery kept out Daniel Micevski’s neat flick. David Rodgers sent a sweetly-struck volley just over for Phoenix, and soon after Rory Binnie was presented with a golden opportunity but failed to beat goalkeeper David Khuen from close-range. Despite taking their foot off the pedal, the Knights still looked threatening going forward and on 78 minutes Anthony Campbell picked out Marcinko but this time he slid the ball agonisingly wide of the far post. The final goalmouth action of the match saw Khuen do well to parry Lee Stewart’s effort after the Phoenix substitute had beaten his man and cut in from the right.
BULLOCH IS GLORY’S THREE-GOAL HERO
Scott Bulloch scored a hat-trick as Perth Glory’s pre-season preparations took another step forward in the form of a 7-0 mauling of Cockburn City at Dalmatinac Park. The host club started well and on several occasions in the first half hour tested Aleks Vrteski, who was up to the task each time. The floodgates opened late in the half when youth team product Andrija Jukic volleyed home Jimmy Downey’s cross from the right flank. Scott Bulloch scrambled in the second from a corner, then curled a free-kick around the defensive wall from 25-metres to make it three-nil at the break. Glory dominated the second half, knocking in four more goals in an impressive display. Bulloch sealed his hat-trick when he struck a half-volley in off the post from the edge of the 18-yard box on 64 minutes. Jukic added another with Eugene Dadi completing the scoring late in the half.
TODD EAGER TO TACKLE WOLVES
Perth Glory new boy Andy Todd is putting in overtime on the training track and is confident of taking on Premier League visitors Wolverhampton Wanderers. The former Blackburn Rovers captain arrived in Perth this week after leaving England and, soon after completing his first training session with Glory, said he’d be fit to play against Wolves despite only having a week to prepare. “I’m behind the boys here so I’m playing catch-up,” Todd said. “I trained yesterday and today and I’m looking to probably build up on Monday. In England, you usually have a game after a week, ten days. I’ve been doing a little bit of training on my own, so it’ll be okay in a week’s time (for Wolves). I played them towards the end of my career at Derby, got beaten 3-2, so it’ll be a good game for us.”
Todd said his new team mates had made him feel welcome already, but admitted the time difference was still catching up with him. “(There’s) no nerves,” he said. “I’m just trying to do as well as I can for the club and hopefully we can move forward. I only landed on Monday so I’m just adjusting to the time difference. But it’s been good. The boys have made me very welcome. I also know Mile and just recently met Jacob (Burns),” Todd added. “Both played in England and they’re two good players. Obviously Mile and myself had tough times at Derby so we’re looking to get that bad taste out of our mouth here.”
Coach David Mitchell said it was exciting watching his squad come together ahead of the fifth A-League season. “I think the training and the tempo will be lifting in the next few weeks once all the new players start arriving,” Mitchell said. “Because when you have good players it’s a knock on effect. Other players want to show to those good players that they’re good players in their own right. So it’s great when you’ve got some players that players respect, that have played at the highest level in the Premier League and Andy’s done that. He’s been the player’s player at Blackburn Rovers as well, so he gets on well with the players and staff … he’s a great find for the club.”
THE CUP IN PREVIEW
There are four intriguing match-up in tomorrow’s Soccer Pools Cup quarterfinals. The match of the round takes place at Clipsal Stadium where amateur league leader Shamrock Rovers take on semi-professional outfit Inglewood United (3.00pm). Shane McCarthy was best on ground when Shamrock dumped Morley Windmills in round two and his efforts in midfield, as well as those from Barry Mulligan, captain Wayne Brooks and goalkeeper Owen Little are going to be crucial. The absence of Michael Baczynski and Kevin Griffiths may have dimmed Inglewood’s Cup dream but with Jason Colli, Alex Stamatiadis and Dannie Richman operating across the centre of the park they should get over the line.
Premier League leaders Perth SC host Stirling Lions at Dorrien Gardens (3.00pm). The only problem Perth coach Graham Normanton has pre-game is who to leave out of the starting eleven. Trent Kay and Craig Simpson form an impressive defensive line, Todd Howarth and Antonio Naglieri pull the midfield strings with David Onoforo leading the quest for goals. Ex-Scotland youth international Kevin Miller will be between the sticks for Stirling with Dean Evans expected to return to the starting line-up. Marc Anthony and Andy Brown gave the young Lions some much-needed experience last week and their influence will once again be vital.
Floreat Athena are being widely tipped to progress to the last four from their encounter with Armadale at Alfred Skeet Oval (3.00pm). It’s been a poor year to date for the Reds and an extended Cup run would be just the tonic to kick start their season. Import striker James Robinson is a key figure in attack for the hosts, while Ryan Pearson and Marlon Ramirez have been in terrific touch. Unfortunately, Armadale go into the game without Andrew Bowyer, Peter Taylor (both suspended) and Alan Muir (Cup tied). Floreat are without Paul Vatistas (injured) and Johnny Mirco (Cup tied) but otherwise coach Michael Roki has a fill complement to chose from.
First Division team South West Phoenix head to Nash Field where they meet Cup holders Western Knights (3.00pm). The Knights have been one of the form sides this year with brothers Daniel and David Micevski outstanding. Goals have flowed freely for Anthony Campbell and Mario Marcinko, while defensively they are marshalled by towering Scotsman Stuart Ferguson. Phoenix will need to be at their best to challenge the Knights. What influence captain Patrick Quinn, Rory Binnie and David Murphy can have in the midfield will go a long to determining their fate settling, likewise the success Steve Suttie and David Rodgers have in unlocking the home defence.
NEW PITCH IS COMMON GOAL
Perth Glory and Football West have put their hands up to co-habitat a new multi-million dollar administrative and training base within two years. A working committee is investigating a funding model as well as potential sites for a facility that would include training pitches, a gymnasium and an administration centre. The absence of a permanent training facility has forced Glory to shunt between McGillivray Oval, Members Equity Stadium and Beale Park in an arrangement owner Tony Sage says is far from ideal.
Sage is prepared to partly fund a joint 'home of football' to unite the State's elite team and the local governing body. Football West chairman Kevin Campbell said there had been talks with the Town of Vincent, City of Bayswater and the Department of Sport and Recreation about the establishment of a soccer facility. "It makes a lot of sense to couple together with Glory and accommodate the code under the one roof," Campbell said. The development is also likely to include plans to house memorabilia collected by the game's Hall of Fame committee.
FOOTBALLWA.NET’S MID-SEASON REVIEW (PART ONE)
Fans of local football are enjoying one of the most even and exciting Premier League competitions for many years. With Football West moving to a finals system to determine the State champion, all attention will be focused on the battle to secure top five spot at the completion of home and away fixtures. As the 2009 season reaches the halfway point, Tom Della Vedova recaps the action so far and takes a look at what lies ahead.
Perth SC, Western Knights and Floreat Athena enjoy a clear break at the top of the table. It is difficult to pick the stand-out amongst the 'front runners' as each has chalked up a victory and a loss in matches against each other. A massive seven-point gap has opened up between third-placed Floreat and those below so, barring a dramatic reversal of form, all three are virtually guaranteed participation in the finals.
The 'chasing pack' consists of the six teams bunched together in the middle of the table - Mandurah City, Canning City, Cockburn City, Swan United, Inglewood United and reigning champions Sorrento. At the halfway mark five points separate these teams and, with only two likely to make the finals, every game against their mid-table rivals between now and the end of the season takes on extra importance.
Given they currently sit in the finals qualification zone by three points plus goal difference, Mandurah appears most likely to secure a play-off berth. Canning have surprised many in their inaugural Premier League campaign and are well-placed in fifth. There's a three-way log-jam featuring Cockburn, Swan and Inglewood, are all joined on 14 points, while ninth-placed Sorrento have their work cut out if they are to claw their way back into contention.
Propping up the table are the 'relegation candidates', ECU Joondalup, Stirling Lions and Armadale. The remaining matches between the bottom three are sure to be classic 'six-pointers as each is desperate to escape the ignominy of relegation. Armadale, currently last, have the significant advantage of staging their remaining matches against their fellow relegation candidates on home soil, while Joondalup are on the road on both occasions. Expect a tooth and nail battle for survival that may very well be decided on the last Saturday in September.
SHAMROCK DREAM OF CUP GLORY
Shamrock Rovers have silverware in their eyes with coach Glynn Shaw plotting the downfall of Inglewood United in this weekend’s quarter-finals of the Soccer Pools Cup. A positive start to the amateur season has Shamrock sitting on top of the Premier League table and focused on finishing the job they’ve started. “We have had a good start to the season but that will not count for anything unless we have a good second half to the season,” said Shamrock coach Glynn Shaw. “All the lads at Shamrock are working hard and our aim at the club is to win the League and Cup double at both first team and reserve team. This will be hard to do but both teams are more than capable of doing this.”
Semi-professional Inglewood go into the game as favourites against a Shamrock side whose progression to the last eight courtesy of three-goal wins against each Dianella White Eagles and Morley Windmills. Shaw is encouraging all neutral supporters to head to Clipsal Stadium and throw their support behind the underdogs. “It will be a great occasion and I would like to ask as many people as possible to get to the game and give us some support and help us get to the semis,” he commented. “Hamersley did very well last year to reach the semi-finals and yes it would be nice to match or beat their achievements but we have one hell off a game ahead off us to do that.”
Shamrock is by no means overawed at the prospect of meeting one of the State League’s longest serving teams on Saturday. Even so, beating Inglewood on their own turf is a big ask and Shaw knows his team needs to be in tip top form to make it through to the last four. “The quarter-finals of any Cup are be hard to win. Inglewood are a very good team, that’s why they are in the Saturday Premier League and have some of the very best coaches in the state, so all in all it will be one hell off a game,” commented Shaw. “One thing is for sure, the eleven players on the pitch this Saturday will have to be at their very best to beat Inglewood … the Shamrock lads will be up for this game, don’t worry about that.”
MILLER HUNTS SUCCESS AT THE LIONS
New Stirling Lions goalkeeper Kevin Miller has no qualms about coming up against the might of Perth SC in this weekend’s quarterfinals of the Soccer Pools Cup. Miller, who debuted for Stirling against Armadale last week, knows his team are in with more than a chance at Dorrien Gardens. “In the Cup it can go anyway, Perth is the benchmark club and are leading the ladder at the moment so it will be tough,” he commented. “But we have a lot of quality younger players and a few experienced heads … I’m sure we can go there and match them all over the park and, hopefully, come away with the morale boosting victory.”
Miller is delighted to be back out on the field having not since breaking his wrist days before the Knights lifted last seasons Cup. “It feels great to be back playing. I haven’t trained or played since October last year and the Stirling move came completely out of the blue,” said Miller, who watched from the sidelines when the Knights defeated Sorrento in last years season finale. “I was considering giving this year a miss after an unfortunate run with injuries, and work commitments. It’s good to get a few training sessions in, along with a game, and hopefully the injuries won’t re-surface.”
A surprise phone call from Stirling coach Mike Lyons led to Miller re-think his plans for 2009. “At the end of last season I was struggling with a hernia in my groin and also the broken wrist. I’d told the Knights that I didn’t think I would play this year,” he said. “A week ago I received a call from Mick Lyons asking me to play - Stirling had conceded the most goals in the competition and he was looking for an experienced ‘keeper. I wasn’t sure how I would go after the long lay-off but so far it’s gone well.”
Miller could not have wished for a better start to his time at Macedonia. Not only did Miller help his new club to a 3-2 win against Armadale last week but he also played his part in lifting Stirling off the bottom of the table. “The game against Army was a battle in all respects. It was horrible conditions and there wasn’t too much football played,” he said. “It was great for the club to get a hard fought win and move us off the bottom of the table. Personally, it was fantastic being back amongst it all and to start with a win on my debut, although the body was sore the next day.”
PHOENIX HOPE TO SOAR INTO CUP SEMIS
Mickie Cairns is planning to bring Western Knights Cup defence to a crashing halt when South West Phoenix heads to the metropolitan area for the Soccer Pools Cup quarter-finals. And although confident, the Phoenix coach knows just how big a task his side faces on Saturday. “Hopefully we’ll catch them on a bad day, if we play to our best we would like to think we have a chance,” he said. “The Cup is always a good leveller and we go there with nothing to lose. The pressure will be on them and I’ve told the players to go there and enjoy it then we might get something out of it.”
Cairns admits to knowing a fair bit about this weekend’s opponent and, had circumstances been different, one of the Knights stars players would have been wearing Phoenix colours this year. “Anthony Campbell was working down the South West at the start of the season and we tried to sign him up, instead he headed to Perth to be with his girlfriend so we missed out, which was unfortunate,” explained Cairns. “We saw Duuane Hepburn last season when he was at Canning City, know Daniel Trim from his South West connections and there’s a lot of quality in the Micevski boys … we will have watch them all closely on Saturday.”
There’s an abundance of talent in the Phoenix line-up with Cairns pointing out that they also have a number of players capable of turning a game. “I believe Paddy Quinn is one the best players in the First Division this season and he will be vital for us on Saturday,” said Cairns, whose team have tallied up 30 goals in eleven league outings. “If Steve Suttie and David Rodgers can get going they will cause them problems, but as a team we will need to be at our best. We all know that, but in a one-off game anything can happen.”
It has been a hard few weeks for Phoenix who travelled to Ashfield and Fremantle in the past fortnight, are away to the Knights on Saturday followed by another long road trip to Dianella White Eagles when the League resumes next week. “I wish we had drawn the Knights at home as we’ve been on the road for a while. We have a good home record, but until recently we had a good away record,” commented Cairns. “We beat the league leaders Wanneroo City 4-1 in round nine and moved to within two points of them, but we’ve stumbled a little in recent weeks. A good performance on Saturday could give us a good platform for the rest of the season.”
Western Australia's track record of producing high calibre goalkeepers looks step to continue with the inclusion of three local products in the national Under-20 squad. Adelaide United custodian Mark Birighitti and Perth Glory Youth pair Alexander Pearson and Nick Feely, who are playing the winter with Armadale and Cockburn City respectively, are amongst 25-players that attended this week's training camp in Sydney.
State midfielder Jeff Bright has joined Armadale after walking out on Mandurah City. A lack of first team opportunities had made the last few months difficult for Bright, however, it's understood a training ground bust-up with coach Stuart Currie late last week led the 23-year old to seek a transfer. Bright is looking forward to establishing himself with Armadale, for whom he debuted on Saturday against Stirling Lions.
One-time Australian Schoolboys captain Kevin Griffiths has joined Bayswater City's push towards promotion to the Premier League. The hard-working midfielder opted for a change of scene after finding himself out of favour with Inglewood United coach Alan Vest. This comes only a few months after Griffiths shelved retirement plans in order to provide a young Inglewood side some much needed experience this winter.
Rockingham City's hopes of climbing away from the foot of the First Division table have been boosted with the signing of former Perth Glory player Scott Halpin. The 38-year old has made a full recovery from pre-season knee surgery and been playing of late for Rockingham's Veterans team. Halpin made his return to Saturday football in Rockingham's fighting draw with Forrestfield United last weekend.
Balcatta's rise to second place in the First Division has come at a cost. Damien Todorovic won't play again this year as he requires a knee reconstruction due to an injury picked up against Queens Park. That same weekend Adrian Caloeiro suffered a broken leg, while Igor Novakovic has recently been advised by doctors that he may have Osteitis Pubis.
Import midfielder Alan Muir has been hit with a four-game suspension after being sent off for the third time this season. Armadale's recent signing was issued his marching orders just six minutes into Saturday's game against his former club, Stirling Lions, for a couple of quick bookings. A third red card carries a mandatory three-game ban, however, a further week was added for the tirade of abuse he aimed at the referee after being dismissed at Stirling.
FURY SNAP UP GRIFFTHS
A-League newcomers North Queensland Fury have confirmed signing former Blackburn Rovers midfielder Rostyn Griffiths for next season as one of the club's under-21 players. Griffiths, who played as a teenager at ECU Joondalup, spent three seasons with Blackburn during which he made over two dozen appearances in loan spells with Gretna and Accrington Stanley. "He's big, he's strong, he's good in the air, he's good with his feet - he's got a lot of good attributes," coach Ian Ferguson said. "He's been at Blackburn and came up through the levels - you don't get to stay at a club like Blackburn if you're not a good player."
Griffiths views the one-year Fury deal as an opportunity to show what he's worth. "I really enjoyed my time at Blackburn but at the end of the season my deal was up and North Queensland came up with a contract that worked for me," he said. "Ideally I want to play as much as possible and it was a choice of either playing lower divisions in the UK or looking at the Hyundai A-League. I've scored a few goals from the midfield and I'd like to be doing that at Fury, but if the coach wants me to play a more defensive role then I'm happy with that as well."
SOCCEROOS SOAR TO 16TH
The Socceroos have leapt to 16th on FIFA's world rankings following their qualification for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Australia moved up thirteen places in the latest rankings to go ahead of a host of world powers, including Portugal, Czech Republic, Turkey and Mexico. "We are delighted at this news," FFA chief executive Ben Buckley said. "Rankings are not the be all and end all of football but they are certainly an indicator of our progress." The Socceroos clinched qualification for the World Cup by completing the final stage of qualification without loss and havng conceded only one goal in the process. Australia are now clearly the top ranked team in Asia, Japan slipping down to 40th and Korea Republic to 48th.
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This page was last updated on the 25th June, 2009