PACELLA HANGS UP HIS GLOVES
Stirling Lions goalkeeper Dino Pacella has surprised his team mates by announcing his football retirement, effectively immediately. Ankle and shoulder problems have plagued 32-year old Pacella for much of the past six months, hampering his enjoyment of the game he's played since a youngster. "I was finding with some of the injuries I'm carrying - I had an ankle operation last year and my right shoulder keeps playing up as well - were making it difficult for me to keep playing and enjoying the game," he said. "From some of my performances this season I clearly was not doing this to the level that I expect from myself."
All players agonise over whether the time is right to call it a day but for Pacella that decision was comparatively straight forward. "It wasn't an easy decision to make but I feel it's the right one. It would be unfair on Stirling if I was to continue pushing until the end of the season, especially considering the club's current position. The only regret I have is not being able to finish off on a winning note as that's the main reason I joined Stirling," commented the 'keeper. "The positive for me is I'll now get to spend the entire weekend with my kids, which they are absolutely wrapped about."
It may have been a tough start to the season for second-from-bottom Stirling but things do appear to be slowly coming good for the club. "I do hope they win more matches than they lose and I really hope that they have success in the Cup as that will provide some light on what seems to be an otherwise dark season for the club," said Pacella, who admits to being disappointed with on-field efforts. "I have to be honest and say I didn't contribute as much as I would have liked, that's a little disappointing. But the fact I wasn't enjoying my football as much as I would have liked can be put down to the injuries I had and the results we weren't achieving."
Pacella represented the State as a junior with Perth SC but it was through a lengthy association with Cockburn City that he carved out a reputation as one of the local scene's best shot-stoppers. And while he came out of retirement this year to play for Stirling - Pacella hung up his glove at the end of 2004 to pursue business interests - this is definitely the end of the line. "This as the end as I really want to concentrate on my work career," he explained. "I want to strive to be on top and be the best in my field but to do that I'm needing greater flexibility in the hours I work."
EUROPE CALLING FOR SUBIACO JUNIORS
Subiaco AFC celebrates a centenary of playing the world game by sending their Under-15 squad onto the international stage. The club's under-15's head to Europe this week to compete at the Tivoli Cup in Denmark followed by the Gothia Cup in Sweden. "These tournaments provide the boys the opportunity to not only experience football in other countries but also help develop their life skills so they can be better contributors to society, family and their schools," said Under-15's coach Gerry McEwan. "It will also give them a taste of the life of an international football star, after all, Gothia Cup has spawned many players who went on to become superstars in their own right ... we might find the next champion in our own back yard!"
First contested in 1991, the Tivoli Cup is held in Hillerod, Denmark, between 6-10 July. Last year's event attracted almost 200 teams from 20 countries and Subiaco's inclusion in next month's tournament makes them the first Australian team to attend. The Gothia Cup, hosted in Gothenburg, Sweden, between 12-18 July, has become one of the world's best known youth tournament since it was first played in 1975. Subiaco will be the only team from Western Australia in competition and will be third to enter the arena during an opening ceremony expected to attract around 52,000 spectators.
KNOX FLIES OUT OF THE NEST
Influential Swan United midfielder Brendan Knox has played his last game of 2009. Knox, 22, feels his club are in a strong position leading into the second half of the season, which he'll miss due to a six-month European and American vacation. "It was a slow start to the season, but we did show promise in our early games. Things really turned around with our win down at Mandurah City in round five and I think since then we have been playing with a lot more confidence," he said. "The addition of Brendan Craig and Paul Dugdale as well as the return of David Perich and David McNally has strengthen the squad and been a key to the football we have been playing in recent weeks."
Knox marked his last game of the year with a man-of-the-match performance against Stirling Lions. "It was a good win; we really needed to take three points at home against the bottom side Stirling, and they had also beaten us for the last three years. I don't think we were at our best in the game, but we were managed to win fairly comfortably in the end," said Knox, who missed Saturday's game at Floreat Athena through injury. "In fairness I don't think Stirling are the worst side in the league and I can't really see them being bottom at the end of the season, but in tough conditions it was pleasing to get the three points in my final home game."
COYNE LIKELY TO DELAY HIS HOMECOMING
Chris Coyne is unlikely to join Perth Glory this season according to his brother, Glory defender Jamie Coyne. The club last week made the offer of a three-year contract for the Australian international, who has another two seasons to trun on his deal with English third tier outfit Colchester United. And while English media reports are indicating Chris is almost certain to sign with Glory, Jamie feels he'll remain in Europe for at least the next twelve months. "He's got a few family decisions to make and that comes down to finances and things like the World Cup squad next year," said Jamie, who has made no secret of playing alongside his brother. "I think the idea of maybe another one or two years (in Europe) isn't the worst thing for him, he's dealt with all the homesickness and everything like that. It'd have to be the right offer for him but I'm definitely trying to persuade him to come back."
AMPHLETT HAS JOONDALUP’S FULL SUPPORT
ECU Joondalup have shown their faith in Syd Amphlett by extending his coaching tenure by another three years. Club president Adrian Kenny said he was "extremely happy" with the progress being made by Joondalup under Amphlett, who took over from Alan vest in pre-season. "The club is extremely happy with the changes Syd has introduced and the foundations he has laid for a secure and fruitful future," Kenny said via his club's website. "His (Amphlett's) long-term plans are commensurate with those of the club and we are confident he is the person best equipped to take us forward."
Amphlett's new three-year coaching contract gives him the opportunity to continuing shaping the club's future direction. "The Academy players are now slowly coming through and bearing fruit, the Under-18's are top of the league (and) we have moved a lot of reserve players who were never going to be regular first team and replaced them with younger players," he explained. "There are no more traumas or tribulations at the club. We still have the usual problems that any club has but now they are solved by working together."
Joondalup have hardly set the league alight this season - they're third from bottom after eleven games with only ten points - but that's not of terribly great concern to the coach. "We are surrounded by people we can trust and who all want the same thing which is a successful club, and that does not come from just winning the one or two trophies available each season," Amphlett said. "The players have been fantastic in their attitude towards this change and players who have seen so many changes over the last three years are excited by the prospect of continuity."
COCKBURN PREVAIL IN A TALE OF TWO CITIES (by Michael Bate, Football West)
Cockburn City recorded their fourth win of the winter by narrowly downing Canning City 2-1 in atrocious weather conditions at Willetton Sportsman Club this afternoon. Central defender Paul Natale secured the visitors all three points after Canning's Paul Van Dongen had cancelled out Renato Jelen's second half opener. After the game, Cockburn coach Scott Miller was keen to stress the importance of victory for his struggling team. "We're involved in a bit of a relegation struggle at the moment so every point we can pick up is vital," he said. "We'd only won three games before today, and with Stirling picking up a win yesterday we knew we had to come here and get something from the game."
Both sides struggled with the difficult conditions, particularly a strong wind that favoured Canning throughout the first half. Cockburn's players found any attempt at a lofted pass or clearance would hold up in the air or even travel back towards their goal, while Canning's favoured tactic of playing early balls in behind for their quick strikers was made near-impossible. The first chance of note came after 15 minutes when Jelen broke away down the right but goalkeeper Liam McCloskey was quick off his line to block the striker’s shot. The half’s only other opening came the way of Simon Versaico, who got on the end of a Rory Mouttet free-kick but headed wide of the target. Otherwise, there wasn’t a great deal to capture the crowd’s attention and it was with relief that referee David Costello whistled for half-time.
The games first meaningful chance gave Cockburn a 51st minute lead, Jelen powerfully curling a free-kick from 22-metres around the defensive wall and past debutant goalkeeper Liam McCloskey. Van Dongen immediately called for his players to press for an equaliser and six minutes later the captain gave Nick Feely no chance by rising highest to head in a Roberto Lujan corner. Greg Newcombe should have put the home side ahead in the 65th minute but fired straight at Feely after being played in by Lujan. Canning paid dearly for that miss thirteen minutes later when Natale headed in via the underside of the crossbar after Ryan Pretorious sent a deep corner back across goal. Cockburn were given a late scare when Greg Newcombe snuck in at the back post but his header was brilliantly kept out by Feely.
SAMMUT HEADS NORTH IN SEARCH OF GAME TIME
Promising young midfielder James Sammut has joined ECU Joondalup. Sammut shot to prominence last season at Inglewood United and, after honing his talents during a summer at Perth Glory Youth, returned to the local stage with Floreat Athena. But a lack of first team opportunities at Litis Stadium prompted Sammut to seek a transfer. "Floreat were good to me while I was there but I wasn't really getting the opportunities that I feet I needed," he said. "Michael Roki and I had a long chat Tuesday night after training and put everything in perspective, and we both agreed that the move would be the best for my football development."
Life has been tough for Joondalup so far this year and coach Syd Amphlett is delighted to have Sammut on board for the second half of the season. "James is a great signing for the club. He is young player that fits our criteria as we strive to build a side capable of challenging the top four on a consistent basis. He has loads of stamina, is a confident player and wants to play football," said Amphlett, who brought his latest signing straight into the first eleven for Saturday's home loss to Sorrento.
Sammut played 14 games for Glory Youth during the summer and remains in the mix for a second season in the National Youth League. "The trials are still going and I'm not sure at the moment what is going to happen, but I'm still down there training hard and hopefully get another contract," said Sammut, who knows the hard yards he puts in a Joondalup will benefits his career either way. "First, I'm looking forward to getting some first team football under my belt at ECU and helping them climb the table, and whatever else happens is a bonus."
ERRORS PROVE COSTLY AS PERTH GO CLEAR AT THE TOP
Perth SC moved three points clear at the top of the Premier League after 3-1 victory against arch rivals Western Knights at Nash Field. A trio of goals by Genaveo Human, David Onoforo and Phil Arnold consolidated the visitors dominance inside the hour before Mario Marcinko grabbed the Knights a late consolation. The early exchanges were tight, neither side giving the other so much as an inch with Perth having the better of play in the windy conditions. The first real opening was created by Duuane Hepburn but rather than shoot the striker attempted to cut the ball back for Anthony Campbell and the chance was lost. Perth immediately counter-attacked with Onoforo’s pass out of midfield sending clear Human, who capitalised on a stumble by Okwy Diamondstar by calmly slotting low past goalkeeper David Khuen with 35 minutes on the clock. The home side had a chance late in the half to equalise but David Micevski’s free-kick went narrowly wide of the post.
The game was decided in the opening five minutes of the second half as Perth piled on two unanswered goals. Arnold’s long ball caught the Knights out at the back but not Onoforo, whose crisp volley from just outside the 18-yard box gave Khuen absolutely no chance. Play had barely restarted when Arnold’s weak shot went past Khuen and looked certain to be cleared by Marco Warmt-Murray, who slipped at the wrong moment with the ball trickling over the line. Some formational changes brought the hosts back into the game but they still lacked the creativity needed to regularly unlock a tight Perth backline. Daniel Micevski linked well with Marcinko and David Micevski but his shot from the top of the 18-yard box was just high of the crossbar. Perth had by no means finished and were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty for what appeared a clear foul on Onoforo. The Knights would have to wait until the 82nd minute before pulling a goal back, Marcinko applying a clinical finish after latching on to a loose ball inside the area.
FLOREAT BACK IN THE WINNERS CIRCLE (by Peter Simcox)
Floreat Athena ended a two-game losing streak with a hard-fought 1-0 win against Swan United under lights on a rain soaked Litis Stadium. All that separated the teams was a 63rd minute header by Brad Scott, whose goal kept Floreat just three points away from top spot at the season’s mid-point. “It was unbelievable out there tonight,” said Scott, a former New Zealand international. “The wind and rain made it difficult for both sides, and I was in the right place at the right time to score. We had to fight it out til the end, and were glad to be back in the winners circle.”
The wind was howling as play got underway and a scrappy game’s first chance came after 3 minutes when Johnny Mirco’s shot on the run drifted wide of the target. Swan had the wind at their backs and five minutes later Damian Scali rose unchallenged to Paul Dugdale’s curling free-kick but the veteran’s header was pushed away by Alex Dunn. The resulting corner was played in by David Perich and this time it was Aaron Cole who climb well only to head wide. On 27 minutes Dunn came to his team’s rescue again by holding on to a fierce Dugdale shot which had bounced awkwardly in front of him.
Although the conditions were making it equally difficult for both teams, Floreat twice went close to taking the lead inside a couple of minutes. Jason Barrera drifted past three defenders but his shot was saved low by Gareth Deeg, who soon after did even better in palming away John Migas’ powerful attempt. Swan were not to be outdone and on 37 minutes Dugdale’s perfectly weighted free-kick found Scali unmarked but his header was parried by Dunn with Tom Shepheard firing over at the follow-up. Floreat suffered a blow just before the break when midfielder Paul Vatistas suffered a broken nose and had to be replaced by Miki Vujacic.
The rain and wind didn’t abate after the break and neither did the chances. Shepheard headed wide from a Brendan Craig cross, and six minutes later Scott’s low shot was saved by Deeg after being set-up by Barrera. On the hour Shepheard sent Shane Webb clear but the teenager delayed his shot, allowing Dean Apelgren to get in a timely tackle. The deadlock was broken three minutes later when Vujacic’s in-swinging corner from the left was headed in at close-range by Scott. Swan almost had a quick response but Scali headed into the crossbar and John Mansaray’s follow-up was blocked by Apelgren before being cleared.
Million Butshiire came off the bench soon after and wasted no time in setting up Perich, whose stinging low drive was kept out of the far post by Dunn. Mirco then went close at the other end with a long-range effort that flew wide. There were late chances at both ends as the game really began to open up. Dugdale’s corner dropped to Perich on the edge of the box with the midfielder’s low shot cleared off the line by Apelgren. The final few minutes were hectic, Mirco headed wide at a free-kick and Butshiire’s long-range shot whistled narrowly past the post before referee Fusari brought proceedings to a halt.
MANDURAH THROW AWAY VALUABLE POINTS AT INGLEWOOD
Mandurah City had to settle for a share of the points after surrendering the lead to a nine-man Inglewood United, who snatched a 2-2 from this afternoon’s encounter at a windy Clipsal Stadium. The home side were down to nine players when Phil O’Callaghan fired Mandurah ahead on 75 minutes, however, Albert Osei-Tutu soon brought the teams level again before Oliver Taseski’s heroics between the posts ensured the points would be shared. “It’s disappointing not to come away with all three points but that’s football,” said a clearly disappointed Billy Russell, assistant coach of Mandurah. “We flung everything at them at the end and Ollie was magnificent today, we just didn’t get that little bit of luck we needed.”
It was a lively opening and the home side could have been a couple up early but Osei-Tutu shot too close to goalkeeper Phil Straker while Dannie Richman’s effort was deflected wide. Mandurah settled and almost caught their hosts napping on 7 minutes when an unmarked Ryan Townsend headed high from Stephen Payne’s delivery. The wind was making playing attractive football extremely difficult but chances continued to fall, Rafael Insurralde flashing wide from 16-metres and Straker saving low from Michael Baczynski. Taseski showed his quality with a couple of top shelf saves, diving full-length to turn Payne’s 22nd minute shot around the post and from the resulting corner the ‘keeper used his legs to block a fierce strike from O’Callaghan.
Mandurah were enjoying their best spell of the afternoon and it seemed only a matter of time before they’d hit the front. Their dominance was rewarded in the 38th minute when Payne’s cross from the right found Insurralde, who was allowed time to pick his spot past the stranded ‘keeper. Inglewood were extremely fortunate not to conceded another five minutes later when the impressive Payne played O’Callaghan down the right, his deep cross sat invitingly for Insurralde whose low shot beat Taseski only to be cleared off the line by Ricky Smith. The half way almost over when the home side equalised against the run of play, a great through ball by Danny Kovacevic was fired in by Alex Stamatiadis from 6-metres after he got to the ball ahead of Straker.
It was a much different Inglewood side that emerged from the break to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Straker had to be alert in tipping over a Jason Colli cross in the opening minute, and soon after Richman’s long-range shot was off-target. But that good work was undone on 62 minutes when a physical challenge between Payne and Baczynski led referee Michael Tolmie to issue the latter a straight red card. With a one-man advantage, Mandurah now upped the tempo and O’Callaghan was again denied by Taseski with Christian Paschkewitz placing the follow-up wide. Their wait for a second goal was ended on 75 minutes when O’Callaghan converted a highly controversial penalty awarded for handball against Stamatiadis, who clearly chested down Paschkewitz’s goalbound header.
The odds were now stacked well in Mandurah’s favour and the game would have been over had O’Callaghan been able to convert when faced by Taseski. That save was vital to the home side because, sixty seconds later, Jason Colli delivered a superb cross which Osei-Tutu volleyed in at close-range. Mandurah pushed players forward in search of a late winner but Taseski was denied he wasn’t going to be beaten again. The ‘keeper saved superbly a crisp strike by Payne from the edge of the area, while O’Callaghan should have at least tested Taseski when well-placed on 84 minutes. The visitors thought their dreams had been answered in stoppage time when substitute Michael Currie’s goalbound shot was brilliantly kept out by Taseski, and although Insurralde netted the rebound celebrations were cut short as the flag was up for offside.
GULLS GIVE JOONDALUP A FOOTBALL LESSON (by Tim Lefort, Football West
Sorrento twice came from behind to crush ECU Joondalup 5-2 in a fierce derby encounter at the Edith Cowan University campus. Todd Harnwell, Stuart Montgomery, Glen Thomas, Paul Cunningham and Steve McDonald all found the target as the Gulls chalked up just their third win of the campaign. “I had a bit of a go at them at half-time and they came out in the second half and they were magnificent,” Gills said coach Steve Neville. “The boys at the back were nice and tight, we looked a lot brighter, the tempo was a lot quicker and we got good ball into the front men … I couldn’t have asked any more and it was probably one of the best performances since I’ve been here.”
Things could not have started better for Joondalup with Tommy Amphlett pouncing on a through ball that he coolly steered beyond goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock with just 38 seconds on the clock. Thomas fired wide from the edge of the 18-yard box in response, before Sharrock did well to push wide Jon Higgins’ powerful angled drive. Parity was restored on 14 minutes, McDonald playing a clever pass for Harnwell, who kept his composure to slide the ball past Davvyd Jones. Montgomery then wasted then a good chance by mis-kicking to Jones, while at the other end Cunningham headed a Collins free-kick off the line before Sharrock was forced to tip over a James Sammutt’s cross that was caught by the wind.
Joondalup restored their lead in the 26th minute when Amphlett’s sublime 19-metre chip came back off the underside of the crossbar to provide Garin Collins the simple task of tapping in. But the visitors drew level for the second time four minutes before the interval when a needless shirt pull on McDonald behind play led referee Mathew Cheeseman to point straight at the spot from where Montgomery easily beat Jones. Either side could have entered the break in front but Amphlett came out second best from a one-on-one with Sharrock, while McDonald twice volleyed wide when well placed.
The second half was just nine minutes old when Sorrento hit the front for the first time, Harnwell’s long diagonal ball picking out Thomas who took one touch before slotting past Jones. Five minutes later McDonald could have extended their advantage but volleyed high from the edge of the area. Sorrento didn’t have to wait long for their fourth, Thomas touching on a corner which Cunningham headed in from point-blank range. With thirteen minutes remaining Lewis Flatt played a low centre that Jones could only parry into the path of McDonald, who gratefully rammed the ball into the empty net. The closest Joondalup came to scoring in the second half was a low drive by Sammut which was saved at the second attempt by Sharrock.
SUPER-SUB DE ABREU SNATCHES STIRLING VICTORY (by Michael Bate, Football West)
Jamie De Abreu came off the bench to score Stirling Lions a stoppage time winner in today’s 3-2 defeat of Armadale at Macedonia Park. The bottom-of-the-table clash was ultimately decided by a couple of mistakes, with Armadale defender James Hesketh scoring an own goal before Andrew Bowyer’s error allowed De Abreu in to settle the game. Soon after the final whistle Stirling coach Mike Lyons said he was relieved to finally get a win after weeks of poor results. “I’m more relieved than pleased to be honest,” said Lyons, whose team moves above Armadale on the table. “When you’re where we are on the table, it doesn’t really matter how you win.”
The day could not have started any worse for the visitors who had Alan Muir sent off after just 6 minutes for two quick yellow cards from referee Dave Scragg. But being reduced to ten men didn’t seem to affect Armadale too adversely. In fact, they took the lead in the 32nd minute through Marlon Ramirez who made no mistake with a deft chip over goalkeeper Kevin Miller after Kieran Tracey had played him in with a clever through ball. Tracey was unlucky not to have a goal of his own just four minutes later when his powerful shot smacked into Miller’s upright. Two minutes later Stirling were right back in the game as Steven Hesketh’s deep corner was met by Daniel Stoitis, he headed the ball down into the path of Jason Mirco who had the simplest of tap-ins.
The second half started brightly for Armadale with Tracey nearly beating Miller with a chip from 23-metres. However, Armadale were their own worst enemy and on 51 minutes James Hesketh headed past his own ‘keeper following mis-communication over a high bouncing ball inside the 18-yard box. The away side refused to give up and found a glimmer of hope in the 64th minute when Mo Atak’s shot deflected into the path of Tracey, who fired a much-deserved goal past Miller. Armadale should have taken the lead through James Robinson but his flicked header hit the post. That miss was made even more painful when an attempt to clear was held up in the strong wind, Bowyer miscued his first touch with the ball running kindly for De Abreu who rounded ‘keeper Alex Pearson before sliding in the deciding goal.
BALCATTA HOLD ON TO SECOND
Balcatta came from a goal down to defeat Bayswater City 2-1 in wintry conditions at Frank Drago Reserve. The day started badly for the home team who lost Mario De Felice in the pre-game warm-up while Frank Madaferri came off injured just a few minutes into the game. However, they regrouped quickly to take the early initiative with Damien Catalano's surging runs proving a handful for the Balcatta defence. Ahmed Hafez had a great chance to put them ahead but after coming with Ryan Frisina the lively attacker found his goalbound shot saved by Chris Ramsey.
Balcatta weren’t without their chances and Ian Mckean should have done better than miss the target completely after meeting an Andy O'Neill ball from deep which somehow eluded the home defence. The deadlock broken after 28 minutes when Cesar Gonzales headed in at a Catalano corner to give Bayswater into a deserved one-goal lead. But the teams would have been level soon after had Ian McKean shot more purposely following a good build-up down the left.
Although Balcatta came out for the second period with greater intensity, it was looking like being one of those days as they struggled to find their measure in the final third. And they were fortunate not to be two-down when Catalano cut the ball across the 6-yard box for Ryan Jeans who somehow missed an open goal. Balcatta would rely on an unlikely hero to bring them level on 65 minutes when Paul Dundo drifted in at the far post to make no mistake at close-range with a flighted Ashley Rosendale free-kick.
Ten minutes later the visitors hit the front, this time it was Andy O'Neill that ghosted in at the near post to glance in a Rosendale corner. This set-up a barnstorming final quarter-hour in which Bayswater's quest for an equaliser left then vulnerable on the counter-attack. Andy O'Neill and McKean could each have made the game safe with neither able to beat Bobson Koroma, while a penalty claim by the former lead only to an early shower for a second yellow card. Ramsey did well to keep out a low Catalano drive before Gary Murdoch secured Balcatta a valuable three points with a late goal line clearance.
STALEMATE AT WAUHOP PARK
Fremantle Spirit and South West Phoenix played out an entertaining but ultimately scoreless draw at Wauhop Park. Chances were few and far between in a game played for the most part in the middle third of the park and amid blustery conditions. Phoenix enjoyed the better of first half posession but consistently found it difficult to break down Fremantle's organised defensive unit. Jonathon Krawec put in some telling cross from the left on which neither Steve Suttie nor David Rodgers was able to capitalise. But the best chance of the period fell to Ravi Kuppusamy who lifted high from close-range after Nuno Loreto's mis-hit shot skewed across the 6-yard box. The only other meaningful opportunity had visiting captain Patrick Quinn fired narrowly high from 16-metres.
The intensity lifted a notch for the second half with the referee retaining control by issuing a spate of bookings. With the wind now at their backs, Fremantle dominated proceedings but like their opponent failed to create a lot in the way of clear scoring opportunities. In fact, it was Phoenix that went close when Suttie ran the ball forward before he was halted by a well-timed Lee Hallums tackle. It was only in the final ten minutes that Fremantle really looked like breaking the deadlock. An audacious Tom Straker overhead flashed just wide, and soon after Adrian McBride curled a corner deep which bounced off the crossbar and out of play.
POSITIVE GAME TIME FOR GLORY SQUAD (courtesy Perth Glory)
An under-strength Perth Glory has been narrowly beaten 1-0 by last season's A-League grand finalists Adelaide United in last night's friendly at Hindmarsh Stadium. Glory, who entered the game with nine senior players unavailable, put up a strong showing with only a 25th minute strike from Adelaide captain Travis Dodd separating the teams. Coach David Mitchell said his young squad performed well but were left to rue a slow start. "Adelaide came out strong from the start of the game, that was to be expected from a team that has spent a fair bit of time together. We just took our time getting up to speed and that was the main difference between the sides," Mitchell said. "The goal was well worked and reward for Adelaide's dominance in the opening period however I was pleased with how our lads regrouped and it was an even second half with chances for both sides."
THE PREMIER LEAGUE IN PREVIEW
The Premier League celebrates hump round with a blockbuster showdown between joint leaders Perth SC and Western Knights at Nash Field (3.00pm). This has all the hallmarks of being one of the must-see games of 2009 with Perth coach Graham Normanton amongst those who can’t wait for kick-off. “It’s top verses second again isn’t it, and we didn’t do that well when it happened last time against Floreat,” said Normanton, referencing his teams loss of three weeks ago to then second-placed Floreat. “We hope to give it a bigger shot than last time, but it’s on their own patch and their home record is 100%. It should be a good game and hopefully a big crowd on hand to watch it.”
Paul Price, coach of the Knights, admits this weekend’s games is massive but the former Wales international also knows there is still a very long way to go before the championship is awarded. “We have a perfect home record and I hope we continue that on Saturday,” stated Price. “But we have to remember we are only half way through the season - the team that loses are still only three points behind the winner and there are eleven games to go, there’ll be many swings and turns before the season ends.” Cormac Dawson comes back into the Knights squad while Perth captain Todd Howarth is likely start on the bench having returned from Adelaide with Perth Glory on the morning of the match.
Tomorrow’s other big game takes place at the opposite end of the table with Stirling Lions hosting Armadale at Macedonia Park (3.00pm). With both teams looking to kick-start their seasons, this is a real six-pointer. Stirling are hopeful of having livewire midfielder Ludovic Boi back after a month out with injury, while Marc Anthony is also getting back to full fitness after a couple of appearances off the bench. Armadale will look to import striker James Robinson to run havoc against the side with the worst defensive record in the league, and with Andy Bowyer and Marlon Ramirez in good form they have good reason to brimming with confidence.
Mandurah City heads to Clipsal Stadium to take on Inglewood United (3.00pm). Both teams are coming off hard-fought victories and with the likes of Jason Colli, Rory Grant, Andy Brown and Craig Young in tip-top form this promises to be a very close contest. The Edith Cowan University campus hosts the northern suburbs derby between ECU Joondalup and Sorrento (3.00pm). The home side will have on show new signing James Sammut but Steve Porter and Charlie Comyn-Platt will need to pass late fitness tests to play their part. Todd Harnwell and Glen Thomas are the keys players for a Gulls side missing State defender Danny Cain (suspension).
Floreat Athena will be looking to return to the winners circle when they welcome an in-form Swan United at Litis Stadium for the Saturday evening fixture (6.00pm). A lengthy list of absences has seen Floreat slump to successive losses but coach Michael Roki remains confident they can pick up all three points tomorrow. “I believe my first year in this coaching stint (June 2004) might have been the last league loss to Swan, but that counts for nothing when you’ve lost two games on the trot and your opposition is playing strongly in the competition,” said Roki. “We will need to show some mental strength this week to pick ourselves up and get ourselves back on track.”
Round Eleven concludes on Sunday when Canning City takes on Cockburn City at Willetton Sportsman Club (3.00pm). The home team showed another side of themselves by dumping Floreat last weekend but this time out are missing midfield general Paul Oliver (suspension) with either George Tchami or Stephen Maguire expected to take his place. With Jason Dos Santos suspended, the odds are very much stacked against a young Cockburn side that will rely heavily on the experience of Michael Mirco and Paul Natale to get them over the line and earn Scott Miller his first away win since resuming the helm a month ago.
THE FIRST DIVISION IN PREVIEW
The First Division season may only be ten games old but already Queens Park and Ashfield are locked in a titanic struggle to avoid relegation, making this weekend’s meeting at Coker Park a must-win for both clubs. Queens Park currently stump up the table with the competition’s worst defensive record but recent improvement tends to suggest they aren’t too far away from picking up their first win of the campaign. Ashfield upset the odds by defeating one of the title favourites, South West Phoenix, last weekend so will be confident of getting a another win and putting some distance between themselves and last place.
Fremantle Spirit and South West Phoenix each lost some momentum last week so are wanting to quickly move on by collecting all three points from tomorrow’s game at Wauhop Park. First Division leader Wanneroo City has home ground advantage against a Dianella White Eagles side coming off back-to-back defeats. Balcatta are unbeaten in six games but come up against their toughest opponent in weeks when they travel to Bayswater City. Morley Windmills and Gosnells City are locked together on 15 points and meet at Wotton Reserve. There’s a world of difference between Rockingham City and Forrestfield United who go head-to-head in the late game at Lark Hill Sports Complex.
HOWARTH IN THE FRAME AT LAST
Local A-League hopeful Todd Howarth is preparing to step up to the elite level when an under-strength Perth Glory take on Adelaide United in a pre-season friendly at Hindmarsh Stadium tonight. Howarth, who plays for Premier League leaders Perth SC, impressed sufficiently as a guest player in Glory's 1-0 win over Inglewood United last week to earn a call-up for the team's first test against national league opposition. "I've watched him for a period of time and he's a good player who's very comfortable on the ball, and the character references from quite a few people have been very good," said Glory coach David Mitchell, who is likely to start Howarth at left back.
Perth coach Graham Normanton is convinced the versatile 27-year old would be a valuable addition to Glory. "I have no doubt that he can play in the A-League. I've had no doubt for ten years," said Normanton. "He's got the ability. He's strong on the ball, he's got quick feet and he's a very clever player with a great engine." Although Howarth came to prominence as an attacking winger with Perth, he has been shifted to a more central role in recent years and is also comfortable at left back. "I actually played him up front in one game and he scored the winning goal for us," the coach added.
MICEVSKI AND KAY LOOK AHEAD TO THE BIG GAME
Saturday’s blockbuster clash between Perth SC and Western Knights has been the talk of the town over the past seven days. On offer to the winner is outright top spot at the half-way stage to the Premier League season, not to mention bragging rights over a long-time rival. Games between the two clubs have always been fiercely contested and this weekend’s encounter is shaping up to be no different. On the eve of the game Peter Simcox caught up with Knights midfielder David Micevski and Perth defender Trent Kay to get their thoughts on the big occasion…
Micevski, who collected a Cup winners medal with the Knights last season, has been one of the club’s stand-out players in 2009 and is looking forward to coming up against his former club. “It couldn’t be any closer between Perth and us and most will agree it’s the biggest game of the season so far,” he commented. “Our home record has been 100% so far and we will look to continue that this week. Although we all know it will be our toughest test yet and we have to be on top of our game to get all three points.”
Kay acknowledges the game at Nash Field is going to be tough. “It’s another big game for us - like all games are in this league,” he said. “The Knights have been very strong this year, especially defensively where they’ve conceded only eleven goals. They are already one up on us from the defeat in the Night Series, so we will have to be at our best for the whole 90minutes if we are to even things up. But to be three points clear at the half way mark of the season would be grand, and something we could work on for the rest of the season.”
Nash Field would be best described as a compact ground - exactly the type Perth always seems to struggle for fluency on. In recognising the need for greater flexibility, coach Graham Normanton has been doing his homework and tinkering with the line-up. “Yes, our formation has changed over the past couple of weeks, it’s something we have been working very hard on at training to get it right,” Kay explained. “At the end of the day Normo will be sussing out a game plan and if we stick to it I’m sure we can produce the goods against a very hard opposition.”
The Knights unblemished home record may have underpinned their charge to the top but Micevski is quick to points out they have also played some very good football on the bigger grounds around town. “Many think our home ground is an advantage because it is quite tight but we have shown on a number of occasions that we are more than capable of playing our best football on larger pitches,” he said. “On Saturday all the football public will be looking for a good game and hopefully it will be an exciting match and we get a big crowd down at Nash Field.”
DEEG ANSWERS S.O.S. FROM SWAN
One-time Goalkeeper of the Year Gareth Deeg is set to play his first Premier League game in nine months after agreeing to a short-term loan deal with Swan United. Deeg, 31, has joined the black and whites on a three-game deal as cover for regular ‘keeper Cory Hugo, who is currently overseas. His last top flight appearance was in last season’s round twenty-one clash with Floreat Athena who, ironically, are Swan’s opponent on Saturday. “I’m looking forward to my time there, hopefully, it’s like riding a bike and I have not forgotten too much,” Deeg joked.
Despite having formally retired from the game in pre-season, Deeg remains under contract to Perth SC but is nonetheless looking forward to playing his part for Swan. “Perth Soccer Club is still ‘my club’. If my work and family commitments were not as much as they are I would still be there. But in saying that, I’m not, and so it’s great to be able to help Linc’s and the boys out as well as the club,” Deeg said. “I appreciate what football in WA has helped me achieve and it’s what brought me to WA, so to help out or put back in is not a problem for me.”
Swan has lost only once in seven outings and that’s a trend Deeg is focused on continuing. “The Swannies are in form and I guess Cory has been to. But there is no stress or pressure as I’m here to help the boys as the best I can and that’s all I can do,” commented Deeg, who has a great repertoire for Floreat’s fans. “It’s a good start for me at Litis Stadium. Over the last couple of years my biggest games for Perth have been against Athena. I like playing them as they have a good supporter base and their fans always tell me how much they ‘love’ me when we meet.”
Deeg warmed up for his spell with Swan last week by pulling on the gloves in Wanneroo City’s First Division win against Fremantle Spirit. “I was asked by Gerry McEwen at Wanneroo to help them and I really enjoyed it to be honest, but the body the next day is telling me different,” said Deeg, who is ruling out a full-time return to the game he loves. “As for next year, at this stage I will say no. I do miss the Saturday games but I just have too much trouble training at night being a shift worker, and I have been doing other things to keep fit. I won’t say I’ll never play again but the odds are against it.”
INJURY SET-BACK FOR ARMADALE’S HARVEY
The promising career of young defender Liam Harvey has been derailed by osteitis pubis. The Armadale teenager had been outstanding for his club this season and was close to re-signing with Perth Glory Youth for the coming season. But all that is now on hold after Harvey was last week diagnosed with the chronic groin problem. "It's disappointing but that's the breaks. I haven't had this injury for that long so thankfully the physio picked up the injury early," said 18-year old Harvey.
The going was tough for Armadale over the opening months of the season but Harvey says with great confidence that they are now hitting their straps. "We have been struggling a little but because of suspensions and injuries we haven't played with our full-strength side since the first game of the season," he explained. "So with everyone now coming back we can start climbing the ladder in the second half of the season. We also have a few new players in the Army squad, they've been a big help since joining us so hopefully we'll bounce back in the next couple of weeks."
Harvey has enjoyed the challenges of the past twelve months. After captaining the National Training Centre squad last year, he played eight games for Perth Glory Youth then wore the nations' green and gold at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival before making his Armadale first team debut. "There isn't a big difference between 23's and first team football in my opinion," he said. "The only difference I would say is the physical side of the game, there are little differences, like the speed of the game and skill-wise."
Having had a taste of football at the next level, Harvey says he's determined to resume his career as soon as possible. "Last season at Glory was a great experience for me," he said. "I did struggle a little last year with a few injuries also but I came back from them to finish the season injury-free. I hope I can recover in time for the new season but at the moment I can't tell when I'll be fit. I'm hopefully looking at September to get back playing, fingers crossed."
TEAM MAALI TO PLAY AT INDIGENOUS FESTIVAL (courtesy Football West)
An indigenous team from Western Australia will next month head to Townsville to take on teams from around the nation in Football Federation Australia’s Indigenous Football Festival. The twelve-player squad has been selected following regional visits by FFA Indigenous Ambassador Tanya Oxtoby and team trials held in Perth during June. Coached by Willie Devlin, the team is a mix of experienced heads and first time players, and will be called Maali, the Aboriginal word for Black Swan.
Team manager Ann Gourley is excited with the way the side is coming together. “The players met for an overnight training session in Perth and by the end of the second day the players were really starting to come together as a team, learning how to work together and really enjoying the games,” Gourley said. “For some of the players in the team, this will be the first time they have played a competitive game of football, and for a lot of them it will be their first time out of WA, so the festival will be a fantastic experience for them all”, she said.
The Maalia Indigenous team features, Brandon Jetta, Maxwell Jetta (Bunbury), Keanu Whitby (Carnarvon), Zade Connell, Jarrod Pickett (Geraldton), Rakeem Pickett (Katanning), Kurtlee Kelly (Meekathara), Jacob Collard, Nicholas Fabriziani, Kim Farmer, Benjamin Gobel and Drew Jenke (metropolitan Perth). The Indigenous Football Festival will be played between 3-9 July in Townville, Queensland.
GLORY PUSH HARD TO ENTICE COYNE HOME
Perth Glory have stepped up moves to sign in-demand defender Chris Coyne and will offer the Australian international a three-year deal to lure him home. Coach David Mitchell wants to make Colchester United’s Coyne his third Socceroos signing as the club strives to reach the A-League finals this season, for the first time. Coyne, who played a vital role in Australia’s qualification for next year’s World Cup, met Mitchell on Monday to discuss the prospect of returning to Perth after a thirteen-year overseas career that has included spells at West Ham United, Luton Town and Scottish club Dundee.
30-year old Coyne is keen to join his younger brother Jamie at Glory, although he has also attracted interest from rival A-League clubs, as well as sides in Asia. He has two years to run on his contract with the English third tier club - and might yet return to the UK - although he has been told by manager Paul Lambert he is free to explore other opportunities. “I had a chat with Glory and I’m just waiting on things from Asia and the Middle East,” Coyne told Jonathon Cook of the ‘West Australian’. “I’m still looking at every option and I’ll make a decision when I’ve got all the facts in front of me.”
Glory will offer a three-year deal this week in the hope Coyne will join fellow Socceroos Mile Sterjovski and Jacob Burns for the new season. Signing Coyne would crown an impressive recruiting period for Glory, who have netted Sterjovski, Andy Todd (Derby County) Branko Jelic (Energie Cottbus) and Burns (Unirea Urziceni). Glory have finished third-last in the eight-team competition for the past three seasons and owner Tony Sage has backed Mitchell’s push for quality signing’s to turn around the club’s fortunes in an expanded ten-team competition this season.
Coyne, who has kept a close eye on Glory over the years, said he had been impressed with the direction the club was now taking. “I can see the club is going places and they are sending out the right signals with the people they are bringing in and the formula they are looking to use to go forward,” said the defender, who’s mindful of making his next move the right one to increase his chances of featuring in the squad for next year’s World Cup. “It’s going to be a huge twelve months for everyone involved in the national team … I suppose there’s thirty or forty players who want to make that twenty-three-man squad.”
Perth Glory Women are searching for a new coach following the departure of Nicola Williams, who lead the side to seventh-place last season. A youthful Glory Women outfit won three and drew two of their ten games in the inaugural W-League but remain hopeful of pushing up into the top four this term. The new season begins in August with the grand final scheduled for December.
American goalkeeper Dave Khuen will be thrust into the spotlight in Western Knights top of the table showdown with Perth SC on Saturday. It was only a few weeks ago that Khuen sat third in the club’s pecking order behind Frazer Siddall and Jakub Chudy. But with Siddall overseas on international duty and Chudy out with an ankle injury, Khuen is now only days from his senior starting debut.
Canning City has increased their midfielder depth with the signing of George Tchami. The livewire midfielder ended a lengthy spell out due to injury by coming off the bench in Canning’s win at Floreat Athena on Saturday. Tchami was an important figure in Western Knights revival during the second half of last season, at the end of which he collected a Cup winner’s medal with the club.
Former Oldham Athletic youth Daly Rothwell has signed on with Gosnells City. Rothwell, who is still working his way back to full fitness, has featured in Gosnells last two games and is being tipped to make a big impact over the second half of the season. The 23-year old striker most recently played non-League football for FC United of Manchester and could well be the answer to Gosnells’ goal scoring problems.
COERVER COACHING JULY HOLIDAY CLINICS
Coerver Coaching is running school holiday clinics at four great venues in the metropolitan area. Internationally regarded as the world’s number one skills teaching methodology, Coerver is recommended and endorsed by football legends such Arsene Wenger, Alex Ferguson and Franz Beckenbauer. The upcoming clinics run for three hours over four days each week of the July school holidays with instruction provided by Coerver Coaching qualified instructors. There are limited numbers for the clinics so book your place early by visiting www.coerverwa.com.au and register your details.
ON THIS DAY … 1980
Northern Ireland underlined their qualities as British football champions with a faultless display in beating West Australian 4-0 before a crowd of about 5,000 at the WACA Ground on the afternoon of Sunday 23 June 1980. In direct contrast to their effort against Italian side AC Milan three weeks ago, WA provided little for the home fans to shout about. They challenged and won a good share of the ball against Milan, but WA found themself chasing shadows as the Irishmen moved with precision and flair. At no stage did Northern Ireland allow WA to get a grip on the game. They read the play and intercepted with ease then quickly provided the home defence with a constant flow of problems through their accurate first time passing.
The wet, slippery condition of the playing surface suited the visitors, whose first goal came after 3 minutes. Goalkeeper Willie McNally appeared to have an angled low ball covered before it skimmed a puddle and slipped past him to Gerry Armstrong who had the simple task of tapping into an empty net from close-range. WA can blame only themselves for spending much of the game on the defensive. Apart from conceding the early goal, players seemed content to knock the ball around aimlessly in their own half. In fact, it took more than five minutes before the ball crossed the halfway line despite the fact WA kicked off.
Northern Ireland clearly welcomed this approach and proceeded to stamp their authority on the game with a flat out effort early on. In the 9th minute overlapping full back John McClelland raced to the goal line and sent over a cross that found dynamic Terry Cochrane, who scored with a powerful shot into the roof of the net. WA’s midfield, which had been so dominant against Milan, was completely overshadowed by Tom Cassidy, Martin O’Neill and Cochrane, whose foraging down the left flank was superb. In the second half WA lifted their game with Lee Adam the one player looking capable of changing the pattern of play. But whenever danger threatened, the Northern Ireland defence was more than equal to the task.
In recent years WA’s defence has invariably given a good account of itself. But against Northern Ireland it was completely ineffectual, with only a header from Gordon McCulloch in the 50th minute going close to finding the net. Six minute later the Irishmen increased their lead when Armstrong made on of his destructive runs through the home defence to the right wing before cutting the ball back for Cochrane to score with ease. Even though both teams made full use of their benches, the overall pattern of the game remained unchanged with Northern Ireland captain O’Neill completed the score line late in the half. Lee was the stand out for WA while other eye-catching displays came from McNally and defensive partners Peter Baczynski and Paul McKenna.
Western Australia (squad): Willie McNally, Keith Jones, Steve Tombides, Peter Baczynski, Paul McKenna, Steve Sceats, Lee Adam, Gordon McCulloch, Pat Dellar, Davie Fidoe, Frank Smerilli, John Alavakis, John Poleykett, Steve Snell, John Fiamengo, Tony Pragnell
Northern Ireland (squad): Jim Platt, George Dunlop, Chris Nicholl, Jimmy Nicholl, David McCreery, John McClelland, Bryan Hamilton, Martin O’Neill, Tommy Cassidy, Gerry Armstrong, Terry Cochrane, Billy Hamilton, Tom Finney, Noel Brotherston, Colin McCurdy, Derek Spence
BIG GUNS MISSING FOR GLORY’S TRIP TO ADELAIDE
Perth Glory will enter Friday night’s friendly against Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium missing a host of star players. Socceroos Mile Sterjovski and Jacob Burns aren’t expected to join the squad for another three weeks, while overseas recruits Andy Todd and Branko Jelic are also several weeks away. Captain Jamie Coyne (groin), youngster Scott Neville (groin) and Dutch midfielder Victor Sikora (knee) are nursing injuries and won’t make the trip to Adelaide. While the match against Adelaide will be a low-key affair, coach David Mitchell said he expected to have close to a full squad available for next months fixtures against English Premier League sides Wolverhampton Wanderers and Fulham.
RUKAVYTSYA’S STAR STILL ON THE RISE
Former Perth Glory star Nikita Rukavytsya has gone from the A-League to Europe’s Champions League in just a few months. The FC Twente striker came off the bench three times in the Eredivisie last season as his Dutch club finished second behind leader AZ Alkmaar to clinched a place in the third qualifying round of Europe’s most prestigious club competition. After a brief trip back to Australia, where he picked up the Professional Football Association’s under-23 player of the year award - the Harry Kewell Medal -Rukavytsya flew back to the Netherlands last week to prepare for the new season.
Rukavytsya hopes to impress enough at club level to earn a regular place and, hopefully, catapult him into Socceroos contention in time to join the battle for World Cup places. “Obviously, it’s good to strive for the Socceroos,” he said. “I’ve got to start playing regularly and hopefully I will get the chance to go to (Socceroos) camps.” Rukavytsya, whose senior career started at Perth SC, was an unused substitute in Twente’s UEFA Cup matches against Marseille last season. “As soon as my registrations came through I was on the bench straight away,” he said. “It was amazing. I didn’t expect to come that far (so quickly) but I was working hard and trying to improve - working on things after training.” The draw from the Champions League third qualifying round will be made on 17 July.
CUP QUARTER-FINALS DRAWN
There will be plenty of interest when the Soccer Pools Cup quarter-finals are played on the weekend of Saturday 4 July. The pick of the four games has Inglewood United up against the only remaining amateur team, Shamrock Rovers, at Clipsal Stadium. Premier League leader Perth SC goes head-to-head with Stirling Lions, while Cup holders Western Knights hosts First Division outfit South West Phoenix. Armadale will attempt to unsettled Floreat Athena’s apple cart when they meet at Alfred Skeet Oval. The Cup quarter-final draw was conducted live to air on the World Football Program, Radio Fremantle 107.9fm, on Saturday morning.
DREAM DEBUT FOR WILLIAMS (courtesy the ‘West Australian’)
Rhys Williams’ debut with the Socceroos could not have been better timed. After shunning Wales, who he represented ten times at under-21 level, the Perth-born defender is now in a good position to press for a place in the World Cup squad after a first senior appearance in the Socceroos’ final qualifier against Japan at the MCG on Wednesday. Just eight months ago, the Middlesbrough defender was back in Perth recuperating from knee surgery, and contemplating the prospect of playing for the Wales senior team on his return from injury.
But interest from Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek prompted the former ECU Joondalup defender to pledge his future to Australia last month, even though he admitted some concerns about the amount of travel involved. “All along I wanted to play for Australia because I’m Australian,” said Williams, who was not entirely happy with his performance in the 2-1 win over Japan. “The only thing that I thought about was all the travelling but it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to play for your country and I’m glad I made the decision."
Williams felt cramp after about an hour and was replaced in the 78th minute by new Perth Glory signing Jacob Burns as Australia finished five points clear of Japan at the top of their qualifying group. The task now for Williams is to ensure he stays in Verbeek’s plans in the lead-up to next year’s World Cup - just as it is for fellow WA Socceroos Richard Garcia, Chris Coyne, Brad Jones, Adrian Madaschi and Michael Petkovic. “Pim congratulated me on my debut and the rest is just down to me and how I play,” Williams said. “Hopefully I can play well for my club and get in the squad.”
Although Williams has two years to run on his contract with Middlesbrough, who were relegated from the Premier League last season, he has been linked with newly promoted Burnley. He played 17 times on loan to the Clarets last season and Burnley manager Owen Coyle is keen to make a move for the 20-year old. But according to reports in British newspapers, Burnley are likely to have to break their transfer record to prise Williams away from the Riverside. “I’ve got two years left at Middlesbrough and that’s all that’s on my mind at the minute,” Williams said. “I just want to get in the team.”
CANNING SINGING IN THE RAIN (with James Wragg, Football West)
Canning City has continued their winning ways by defeating a lacklustre Floreat Athena 3-1 on a cold, wet and windy afternoon at Litis Stadium. A superb Paul Oliver free-kick opened Canning’s account with a couple of own goals laying the foundations for a memorable victory. Canning coach Frank Longstaff was delighted with his team’s performance and laid on special praise for their defensive unit. “Every player stood up to be counted in trying conditions, I’m pleased not only for the players but for all of the people around the club that put in so much hard work to make occasions like this possible,” he said. “Roberto Lujan had an outstanding game as did our back four - Duncan Hind, Rory Mouttet, Garth Lecky and Jon Mathers plus goalkeeper James Partridge.”
With only two recognised defenders in Floreat’s starting line-up, Canning wasted no time in taking full advantage. Their free-flowing counter attacking game was on show right from the outset with Paul Oliver anchoring the midfield as Roberto Lujan tormented a makeshift back four with numerous penetrating breaks down the right. Simon Versaico created space for himself on top of the 18-yard box from where his low shot curling went just beyond the far post. Daniel Trevisiol timed his run to perfection to meet an Oliver cross but his diving header didn’t require a response from goalkeeper Vas Vujacic. A rare Floreat attack ended with Callum Roberts heading too close to Partridge from Brad Scott’s cross on the left.
A soft foul by Branimir Mikulic led to Canning taking a 19th minute lead, Oliver stepping up to blast over the defensive wall and into the far top corner as the ‘keeper grasped at thin air. Three minutes later and Floreat were broken down again, this time via a Lujan corner which fell kindly for Versaico whose shot was blocked on the line by Jason Barrera but his attempt to clear struck a grounded John Migas and rebounded into the back of the net. The hosts gave themselves a lifeline in the 40th minute when Miki Vujacic’s free-kick was parried by Partridge into the path of Mikulic, who made no mistake with the follow-up at close-range. However, Canning restored their two-goal buffer right on the stroke of half-time through another Lujan corner which skimmed the head of Daniel Neiderberger on it’s way into the net.
As the players re-entered the arena for the second half the heavens opened up and the winds increased, sending the small crowd scattering for the top of the stands. Amid these increasingly difficult conditions Floreat prodded continually at Canning’s defence with Miki Vujacic and Migas having good chances saved by Partridge. The hosts went down to ten men in the 74th minute when Callum Roberts received his second yellow card, and seven minutes later Oliver was also dismissed late for a second booking. As the game eased towards its conclusion attempts on goal by Jason Barrera and Mikulic flew wide of the target. Canning’s adoption of a cautious defensive approach restricted them to only the occasional break out of defence before referee Michael Nugus brought the game to a close.
RAIN CAN’T RUIN PERTH’S PARADE (with Michael Bate, Football West)
Top of the table Perth SC ground out a battling 2-0 victory over Cockburn City at a rain-swept Dorrien Gardens. The win, courtesy of goals in each half by Trent Kay and David Onoforo, sets up a mouth-watering showdown with joint leader Western Knights next weekend. “Obviously you want to protect and rest your players ahead of big games like that, but when you’re only 1-0 up you can’t do it,” said Perth boss Graham Normanton. “I’d like to see us play a bit better than we did today, but the conditions were difficult - it was windy and it was slippery … it was always going to be a bit of luck that got us home in the end, and that’s what happened.”
Cockburn looked the more likely to score early with Jason Dos Santos rifling narrowly over the crossbar after 5 minutes, and it was a similar finish soon after as Aaron Dos Santos was picked out by Josh Findlater. But these counted for nothing and on 14 minutes Kay managed to get just enough of a flick on to curling Todd Howarth free-kick to wrong-foot goalkeeper Nick Feely and put the hosts ahead. Cockburn’s day went from bad to worse inside nine minutes when referee Troy Miller had little option but to red card Jason Dos Santos for his reckless two-footed challenge on former team mate Dom De Felice, who required several minutes treatment before returning to the fray.
Now with the advantage of an extra player, Perth started to take the game by the scruff of the neck. And, if for a touch more luck, they could have ended the game as a contest in the minutes leading into half-time. Beautiful interplay between Phil Arnold and Ian McMurray allowed the latter to tee-up Onoforo but his curling effort from the edge of the 18-yar box smacked into the crossbar and out for a goal kick. Only a few more minutes had elapsed when Onoforo found himself one-on-one with Feely but the striker was foiled by Devon Gibson’s great covering tackle. Next it was the turn of McMurray who after getting into position delayed just long enough for Ryan Pretorious to rob him of a shot.
The rain, which had held off for the first half, started to fall during the interval and it seemed as though a flood of Perth goals would inevitably follow it. However, the first chance of the period actually came at the other end of the park where Michael Mirco played a neat one-two with Aaron Dos Santos whose shot was brilliantly saved by Simon Madaschi. Not long afterwards Aaron Dos Santos was involved again, this time shaving the outside of the post with a cracking strike from 23-metres. But despite these flashes of inspiration, the visitors managed very little going forward and found themselves defending for most of the half.
Arnold was thwarted by Paul Natale’s last gasp tackle after being getting on the end of a Howarth through ball. Geneveo Human set-up Onoforo but Adam Surjan got across in time to block the shot, then an in-swinging Greg Sharland corner caused some nervous moments for the visiting side. Another dangerous corner by Sharland was met by Craig Simpson but his header was cleared off the line by Surjan. Perth finally made the points safe in the 85th minute, an attempted through ball deflecting off a defender and to Onoforo who coolly walked around Feely before stroking into the net. The final whistle came as welcome relief for players, coaches and spectators alike following a buffeted from the increasingly stormy conditions.
KNIGHTS ADD TO GULLS' WOES (by Tim Lefort, Football West)
Western Knights continued their impressive form with a 2-1 victory over struggling Sorrento in blustery conditions at Percy Doyle Reserve. The visitors capped off a superb first-half display with goals from Stanford Hepburn and David Micevski and, although Stuart Montgomery pulled one back, the margin flattered the home side. Knights’ coach Paul Price was delighted with his team’s performance in difficult conditions. “The first half I thought we were superb. We bossed the game and the two lads up front (Hepburn and Anthony Campbell) caused them all sorts of problems. We scored two goals, and probably should have had three or four. That’s as good as we played all season,” he commented. “We came out in the second half and didn’t play as well, we sat back a bit when I wanted them to go forward. To be fair to Sorrento, they had a go, they kept going forward and put us under a bit of pressure and eventually their pressure paid off and we were basically holding on at the end.”
It was the Knights who came out firing with Hepburn flashing an early volley over the crossbar from a tight angle. Strike partner Campbell drove wide from a corner, before Gulls goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock was quickly off his line to smother at the feet of Seb Trim. The hosts created their first opening after 16 minutes when Steve McDonald forced Jakub Chudy into a superb reflex save after a corner had been flicked on. Unfortunately for the Knights, that proved to be Chudy’s last involvement with the ‘keeper sustaining a leg injury and replaced by Dave Khuen. The substitute was immediately under pressure from a corner and was relieved when McDonald headed wide at a set-piece. Barry Devlin went even closer at the other end moments later, his header from point-blank range being blocked on the line.
But Sorrento were not so fortunate after 28 minutes, Campbell’s through-ball sent Hepburn on his way and the big striker showed tremendous strength to hold off his opponent before calmly slotting the ball past Sharrock. Montgomery hit a volley narrowly over from 22-metres, then, with half-time approaching, teed-up Todd Harnwell who sliced wide from 10-metres. Okwy Diamondstar volleyed over after a corner had dropped nicely for him 10-metres out as the pressure mounted on the home team. Their reward came a minute from half-time when Daniel Micevski’s low cross from the right picked out younger brother David Micevski, who beat Sharrock at the second attempt from close-range. And it would have been much worse for Sorrento had Campbell not blazed wide after being set-up by David Micevski in stoppage time.
The Knights wanted to kill the game off as soon as possible and twice inside a minute David Micevski went close from long-range. Instead, it was the Gulls who found the net on 74 minutes when Montgomery ran onto a clipped ball forward and finished superbly to give his side renewed hope. The visitors responded and Daniel Trim wasn’t far wide with a blistering effort from distance before Campbell fired straight at Sharrock after a lightning counter-attack. Harnwell hit the inside of the post after being played through with only the ‘keeper to beat, then Montgomery then blasted narrowly wide as the home side attempted to salvage the game. The Knights were forced to play out the final few minutes with ten men after Daniel Micevski was stretchered off with a serious knee injury.
SWAN TAME THE LIONS (by Peter Simcox)
Swan United tallied up three more points by accounting for Stirling Lions 3-0 in their round ten meeting at the Swan Italian Club. Million Butshiire gave the hosts a handy half-time lead with David McNally and David Perich scoring late to earning Swan their first home win against Stirling in four years. Coach Paul Lincoln was delighted to get another three points on the board and in the process beat his former club. “It was tough conditions out there today but to win the game and keep a clean sheet was fantastic,” he said. “The lads showed great commitment to the end of the game, we’ve ended games poorly this season but they fought it out to the final whistle, which was pleasing.”
On a pitch made heavy by morning rain, it was the visitors who almost opened the scoring on 4 minutes when Shane Webb’s poor back pass put under pressure goalkeeper Cory Hugo, who got to the ball in the nick of time to thwart Keith Clevenger. The conditions were far from conducive to a free-flowing passing game and with both teams desperate for the points it was a tight contest of very few chances. Swan’s first opening came after 14 minutes when Tom Shepheard’s flocked header from a long Brendan Craig’ throw-in forced Dino Pacella into a smart save low at his near post. Jordan Rhodes quickly transferred play to the other end with an incisive pass down the left for Matt Italiano whose dangerous cross was headed behind by alert defender Craig.
The first goal was always going to be important and on 32 minutes it was the hosts that got it. There appeared little danger when Damian Scali sent the ball into the 18-yard box, however, an error by Michael Pugliese allowed Shepheard to win possession and after a quick glance up the striker picked out an unmarked Butshiire who fired in at close-range. It was a bitter blow for a Stirling side that had been enjoying the better of the game but, that said, going behind seemed to lift the young team who finished the half strongly. And they were unfortunate not to equalise on 43 minutes when a corner from the left by Jason Mirco found Rick Brewer unmarked but the striker somehow headed high from point blank range.
Stirling continued to press after the break with Brewer going close twice in quick succession, his 53rd minute header eliciting a good save Hugo and soon after he flash just wide from distance. The game was very much up for grabs when Webb fired wide on the hour following some neat lead-up play between Scali and Brendan Knox. Swan were enjoying their best spell of the game and in the 68th minute Craig made a driving run down the left but his blistering shot was well saved by Pacella. Substitutes Marc Anthony and Andy Brown combined well to send Rhodes clear but as the midfielder was about to pull the trigger McNally got across superbly to clear the danger.
Swan took a giant steps towards making the game safe on 82 minutes when Knox delivered a corner from the left into a crowded area where McNally headed past Pacella, much to the delight of the home supporters. The heavens opened up moment later and the pitch quickly developed into a quagmire. Stirling had no option but to push players forward in their search for a goal, but it was the hosts that would find the net a minute from full-time. Butshiire found the impressive Knox overlapping on the right, the midfielder cutting inside Italiano before placing the ball off for Perich who drilled his low shot into the net from 16-metres.
DISCIPLINED INGLEWOOD COME HOME WITH THE GOODS
Inglewood United kept themselves in contention for the top five by dismissing Armadale 3-1 in trying circumstances at Alfred Skeet Oval. Goals from Jason Colli and Alex Stamatiadis put the visitors in the box seat before a late own goal sealed the win, and cancelled out Kevin Bissettt’s sensational strike just minutes earlier. “It was a disciplined team performance,” said Kevin Brophy, caretaker coach at Inglewood. “We defended well by giving them very few opportunities and, whilst we did not create much more than them, we took our chances which is something that we have not done this season. We just need to continue to build on our recent performances and hopefully climb the table in the coming weeks.”
Inglewood started with the wind at their backs and, not surprisingly, the majority of the opening stanza was played out with Armadale on the defensive. But genuine goal scoring opportunities came at a premium as players struggled to adapt to the slippery conditions. The right hand side was a good outlet for Inglewood and on 18 minutes Colli latched on to an Stamatiadis through ball which he neatly clipped over the advancing goalkeeper from a very tight angle. Armadale pushed into their attacking third on several occasions but more often than not had their efforts repelled by Shane Pryce and Danny Kovacevic. The hosts best chance came shortly before half-time when James Robinson broke free but his shot was tipped over the crossbar by young ‘keeper Lewis Italiano.
The second half was played in a similar fashion, although it was Inglewood who had to battle against the strong wind. The game didn’t really burst into life until the 73rd minute when great work by Rory Grant saw him deliver a teasing cross from the left which Alex Pearson palmed into the path of Stamatiadis, who powerfully volleyed in from 9-metres. Armadale were finally galvanised into action and after a succession of close calls they finally pegged a goal back through Bissett’s stunning bicycle kick. An acrobatic save by Italiano to deny Bissett kept the crowd on the edge of their seats as the hosts threw everything into conjuring up an equaliser. Inglewood wrapped up the points on 83 minutes when Colli drove in a low cross that Andy Bowyer turned into his own net.
WANNEROO LEAVE IT TO STAY ON TOP
Wanneroo City consolidated top place in the First Division with a narrow 1-0 win against Fremantle Spirit at Kingsway Sports Complex. The opening of a tight first half came on 20 minutes when Guy McDonald stroke forward but half volley lacked the power required to beat goalkeeper Dane McBride. Fremantle’s response came through veteran Peter Vukmirovic who, after being found by a cross from the right, rushed his shot from 15-metres over the crossbar. The blustery conditions were making life difficult for both sets of players, and late in the half Guy McDonald’s diving header was narrowly high from a Chris Pugh corner.
The second half was in many ways a carbon copy of the first with neither team able to influence the game as much as they wished. Wanneroo were dealt a body blow on 59 minutes when Brian Cairney was red carded for an off the ball incident involving Lee Hallums. But Fremantle failed to make the most of the extra player with their only real chance being a Vukmirovic shot which goalkeeper Gareth Deeg tipped over the bar. The game looked destined for a scoreless draw when, with five minutes to go, Brad McDonald whipped in a free-kick which defender Adrian McBride had the misfortune of sending into his own net.
BALCATTA KEEPS PACE WITH LEADERS
Balcatta remains within touching distance of top spot after dismantling Morley Windmills to the tune of 3-1 on cold, wet and windy afternoon at Wotton Reserve. The win keeps Balcatta just two points behind First Division pacesetter Wanneroo City as the season nears the halfway stage. With Balcatta naming no fewer than four ex-Morley players in their line-up, this was always going to be a tight and gritty affair. It took Morley only a few minutes to hit top gear but the inability of Eddy Walsh and Mitch Brydon to convert early chances would haunt the hosts. Against the run of play Balcatta took a 22nd minute through Tom Gaca, who whipped the ball into the net after pouncing on a mix-up in the home defence. The margin was doubled seven minutes later when Ashley Rosendale’s thunderbolt from 18-metres gave goalkeeper Stewart Delgarno no chance.
The home team came out from the break determined to put themselves back in the game. However, within a minute of the restart Balcatta extended their lead to three-goals as a quick counter-attack orchestrated by Ian McKean caught the home defence all at sea, allowing Rosendale to net for the ninth time this winter. Bobby Klenkoski wasted a golden opportunity to secure the game for the visitors by failing to convert from the penalty spot. The momentum was by this stage back with Balcatta and had it not been for wastefulness in front of goal by Luke O’Neill, McKean and Paul Dundo the final margin would have been far greater. To their credit, Morley refused to give up the chase and in the 86th minute bagged a deserved consolation when Simon El Chami’s cross was neatly headed in by Jake Harman.
HAFEZ GETS BAYSWATER OVER THE LINE
A goal early in the second half from Ahmed Hafez earned Bayswater City a tight 1-0 win from their visit to Dianella Whites Eagles. The entertainment value was high from the outset with both teams determined to be the first on the scoreboard. Dragan Njegic did well to shrug off his marker but fired disappointingly high from 9-metres after the visiting side failed to properly deal with a cross from Stefan Drca. Bayswater then had goalkeeper Bobson Koroma to thank after he kept out another attempt Njegic from a corner swung to the near post. But otherwise the balance of play was tilted in favour of Bayswater as Ahmed Hafez and Tommy Jones often got in behind the defence to send in crosses which evaded oncoming team mates by the narrowest of margins.
The game was thrown wide open thirteen minutes after the re-start when Bayswater substitute Damien Catalano turned his marker and cut the ball across the face of goal where an unmarked Hafez bundled it over the line from close-range. Bayswater were unlucky not to go two-up after good interplay between Anthony Jones, Hafez and Catalano saw the later hit the post from 9-metres and Ryan Jeans smashed the follow-up high. Another opportunity to kill the game off arrived on 74 minutes when Jeans chased down a poor back pass, forcing ‘keeper Matt Battigelli into a hasy clearance which rebounded to Hafez whose shot was cleared off the line. Dianella threw everything into finding a late equaliser but Stefan Smiljanic hit the far post and Smiljanic’s shot was blocked by Koroma.
THE PREMIER LEAGUE IN PREVIEW
The gap between title contenders and pretenders is widening by the week as the halfway point to the Premier League season draws ever nearer. Sitting comfortably in the former group is Floreat Athena who tomorrow welcomes Canning City to Litis Stadium (3.00pm). The hosts suffered only their second loss of the campaign last time out and coach Michael Roki is hoping for a quick rebound. “Last week is behind us, but we will have our hands full against a side obviously full of confidence on Saturday,” said Roki, who appears unconcerned at being minus as many as five regulars. “We had a number of players who impressed against the NTC in mid-week so we will have a strong squad for the game.”
Canning have performed well during the first couple of months in the top flight and, coming off a four-goal mauling of Stirling Lions, will be looking for another three points. “It was a great win last week and keeping our first clean sheet was an added bonus,” said coach Frank Longstaff. “We’ll go into the game as we would any other - we expect to win every game we play but we realise Floreat will be looking to bounce back quickly after losing last Saturday.” With young goalkeeper Devon Spence and import striker Michael Roger still injured, the visitors will take into the game the same side that beat Stirling.
Cockburn City heads to Dorrien Gardens where they face joint-leaders Perth SC (3.00pm). Captain Todd Howarth, David Onoforo and Phil Arnold have been in terrific form for a home side that includes two ex-Cockburn players, Antonio Naglieri and Dom De Felice. The game is likely to be won and lost in midfield, making the influence of Michael Mirco and Llewelyn Bake vital in determining the fate of a young Cockburn line-up that features State Schoolboys trio Nick Feely, Devon Gibson and Ryan Pretorious.
Western Knights travel north to Percy Doyle Reserve to play Sorrento (3.00pm) in a repeat of the Football West Shield of earlier in the year. The Knights won convincingly 4-1 on that occasion and should Anthony Campbell and Mario Marcinko be firing on all cylinders they can expect a similar scoreline. A busy afternoon bodes for Shaun Kilkelly and Cyril Sharrock whose task it is to nullify the Knights attack as captain Todd Harnwell attempts to unlock the leagues tightest defensive unit.
Stirling Lions are hoping to quickly move on from last week’s capitulation by coming home with the goods from their trip to Swan United (3.00pm). The visitors have a good record in the Swan Valley, winning on each of the last three occasions, and are hopeful Dean Evans and Marc Anthony will be available following injury. Other than suspended midfielder John Mansaray, Swan coach Paul Lincoln has a full complement of players to chose from. “Stirling are coming off a poor performance but have a good mix of youth and experience so we’ll need to work extremely hard to get the points,” Lincoln said.
Passions are sure to be high when Mandurah City and ECU Joondalup meet at Hyundai Stadium. Tommy Amphlett and Garin Collins will be doing their utmost to make sure Phil O’Callaghan and Craig Young don’t put one over their former club. The final game has Armadale up against Inglewood United at Alfred Skeet Oval (3.00pm). Import pair Alan Muir and James Robinson have key roles to play for a home team attempting to record back-to-back wins. But Inglewood clearly have other plans as Albert Osei-Tutu and Rory Grant continue to develop a solid understanding in attack.
THE FIRST DIVISION IN PREVIEW
The derby clash between Dianella White Eagles and Bayswater City highlights the tenth round of First Division fixtures. The local rivals head into the weekend determined to make amends for surprise losses last time out, well aware by collecting the three points on offer at Dianella Reserve will keep them amongst the leading pack. Fremantle Spirit will be in a buoyant mood when they travel north to meet Wanneroo City, who last weekend suffered only their second loss of the season. A five-game unbeaten streak has taken Balcatta to joint-second on the table but for their run to continue they’ll meet to be in tip-top form for Morley Windmills’ visit.
Home team Gosnells City would be wise to not underestimate Rockingham City, whose dramatic slide down the standings comes courtesy of seven losses in a row. Ashfield are winless so far this season and it’s highly unlikely that will change following the visit of South West Phoenix, who smacked five goals past top of the table Wanneroo last Saturday. Unbeaten in six games and yet to be bettered on home soil this year, Forrestfield United are tipped to easily account for a Queens Park side which is still looking for ways to plug a leaky defence.
PHOENIX STRIKER SUTTIE HITS 200
Steve Suttie always dreamt of a long and successful career but admits achieving 200-games has been a hard slog. The South West Phoenix striker became the first player his club’s history to reach the milestone by stepping out in last weekend’s home big win against Wanneroo City. “When you’re 19 you think you’re invincible and if you score goals you’ll just carry doing that for another fifteen years. But then you mature and realise how hard it is to perform well over a long period of time,” he said. “Nine years on and much wiser, I only focus on one week at a time and I don’t really have goal scoring targets in mind. These days it’s about scoring or setting up enough goals for the team to win each week.”
After nine seasons, 28-year old Suttie has a stack of positive memories to draw upon. “The 2-1 away win over Bayswater City last year really stands out, as does the 4-3 win away at Mandurah City in 2005 - even some of their players still talk about it! And winning personal awards such as the Golden Boot in 2005 and Division One Fairest and Best in 2007 were great,” he commented. “Away from the pitch, I’m proud to have played a role in re-building the club at the end of 2005, Phoenix had no players and no real infrastructure but a few of us stepped in to ensure we survived. It took a lot of hard work and that’s one of the things I’m proudest of - that I got out there and contributed to the club and the region and that there is a lasting legacy of what we did.”
Suttie could not have wished for a better way to celebrate his milestone than by thumping top of the table Wanneroo. “I thought we were fantastic and really up for it. We played with great intensity and determination as well as maintaining discipline and our skill level. Although Wanneroo were a couple of regular players short, we put in a brilliant performance and it was one of the finest I have been part of,” he said. “The in was vital for us because if we had lost then we would have been eight points behind and that’s obviously a lot of ground to make up, maybe too much. But instead we are now within two points of top spot, and the 5-1 scoreline is likely to give other teams something to think about.”
Although the First Division is incredibly tight at the moment - six points separate places one through to eight - Suttie feels only a couple of teams are capable of lasting the distance. “I think Wanneroo will bounce back and be there or thereabouts all season, they have dangerous players and a good system so they will prove Saturday was a bit out of character for them,” said Suttie. “Fremantle had a slow start but are quietly creeping up the ladder now and I expect them to push very hard in the second half of the season. Balcatta and Bayswater will win a lot of games but seem to be a little inconsistent, they are capable of beating anyone but they seem to also be able to slip up against anyone.”
And it almost goes without saying that Suttie includes Phoenix on his list of frontrunners for top honours. “We have a good balance at the moment - the defence is solid and we always feel dangerous going forward,” he said. “Captain Pat Quinn is, in my opinion, the premier midfielder in the competition and when he is on his game then the other team is going to have problems. We can score goals from midfield which is a key and I just feel we have a good blend of youth and experience throughout the team right now, we don’t just rely on one or two players to get the job done.”
Complacency is a dangerous thing and seven days after topping Wanneroo Phoenix find themselves away to bottom of the table Ashfield. “They are obviously struggling but away from home in the middle of winter on what is reported to be an ordinary surface is never a ‘done and dusted’ deal,” said Suttie. “They will fight hard and make things as difficult as possible for us, and we will have to be focussed to get the three points. Sooner or later one, two or maybe three teams will break away from the current log jam simply by stringing together three or four wins on the trot. We want to be one of those teams and that is why we are so desperate to keep racking up the points.”
SIDDALL CALLED UP FOR GREAT BRITAIN
Western Knights goalkeeper Frazer Siddall has returned to England following selection for Great Britain at next month's World University Games. Siddall, who played at the tournament two years ago in Bangkok, flew out of Perth only hours after helping the Knights to victory against Mandurah City on Saturday. The squad has assembled for a ten-day training camp in Lilleshall prior to group stage games with Mexico, Serbia and Ghana. The World University Games is held biennially with this years tournament taking place in Belgrade, Serbia, between 1 and 13 July.
Siddall is one of eight players with previous World University Games experience to gain selection by coach Graeme Dell. "This squad has lots of potential and I have every confidence in the players I've selected and I am excited to work with them," said Dell. "This is a tough competition where we have to be resilient and I have selected an athletic squad of talented players who all have potential. This is an opportunity to play on a world stage and these players will, I am sure, grasp that opportunity to catapult their careers to the next level."
THE LIONS WILL ROAR IN 2009 SAYS EVANS
It'll be only a matter of time before Stirling Lions turn around their disappointing season according to midfielder Dean Evans. One win from nine games has Stirling languishing on the ladders' twelfth rung, however, with hard work and a touch of luck Evans says they'll soon begin to climb. "We started the first few matches well and playing some decent football but not getting the results we wanted," Evans said. "We were worthy of a point in the Perth game and should have taken three from Floreat but we ended up with nothing. I think we are still finding that consistency which we really need in our game, we are getting used to the way we play we just need a bit of luck and things to turn our way."
Things appeared to be on the up for Stirling following a four-goal home thrashing of Cockburn City a fortnight ago. But all that hard work was undone seven days later when Stirling crashed 4-0 at Canning City. "Against Cockburn everything seemed to work, we played well as a team and everyone worked for each other," said Evans, scorer of his sides cracking third goal against Cockburn. "Then against Canning it was like we were a totally different side. We showed no hunger and that's why we were beaten, we lost the game with the mistake of not wanting it enough on the day."
Stirling are likely to receive a massive injection of experience for the second half of the season with Kevin Henderson and Andy Brown expected to soon put their hands up for first team selection. "Andy is still nearing full fitness and he will be a much needed boost to our squad as he offers experience and helps and communicates with the younger lads," commented Evans. "Hendo continues to work hard to get back to fitness but at the moment had to return to Scotland for a few weeks. He also offers positive communication on the field and the leadership qualities that we may be lacking a bit of this year."
Evans featured regularly for Perth Glory Youth last summer, at the end of which he was rewarded with an A-League debut against Queensland Roar. The midfielder recently jumped at the invitation to re-join Glory's senior squad. "It's been great training with the first team, just the whole environment of training day in day out really helps me to become a better player and I just hope to continue learning from the older boys and taking in there advice," said Evans, who missed the mid-week friendly with Inglewood United. "I picked up a bit of a knock in the Canning game so I didn't take part, but I'm hoping to be fit for Saturday's trip to Swan United."
BASEL RELEASE ERGIC
Former Perth Glory star Ivan Ergic is a free agent following FC Basel's decision to not offer the popular midfielder a contract extension. Ergic captained Basel to Swiss League and Cup success in his nine seasons with the club, during which he represented Serbia on ten occasions including at the 2006 World Cup finals. After shooting to prominence as a 19-year old with Glory, Ergic moved to Europe where he became one of the most successful players in Basel history. Across 282 games played, Ergic scored 49 goals from midfield, collected four Super League and four Cup winner's medals, and featured in two UEFA Champions League campaigns. Ergic is being linked with a move to Greek side AEK Athens.
A desire to for regular first team football has lead Chris Ramsey to promotion chasing Balcatta. A strong pre-season looked to have secured Ramsey the gloves at Swan United, however, the 23-year old slipped back down the pecking order following Corey Hugo's return from injury. Ramsey kept goal last year for Morley Windmills and his move to Balcatta offsets the recent departure of Kenny Fytnogiannis for Armadale.
Canning City may be without promising young goalkeeper Devon Spence for the remainder of the season. Spence is waiting to see a specialist who'll determine the extent of a pelvic injury sustained in training with Perth Glory Youth, for whom he played three games last summer. With Spence expected to be out of action for a minimum of eight weeks, the door is open for James Partridge to stake his claim to Canning's goalkeeping gloves.
Former State player Jamie Kuzmanovic is itching to resume his State League career with ECU Joondalup. The tough tackling 30-year old recently signed on until the end of the season with Joondalup having made his football return earlier this year at Kingsway Olympic. Kuzmanovic was considered one of the local scenes premier defenders through time at Joondalup and Inglewood United prior to taking extended leave from the game at the end of 2007.
CAHILL STARS IN WORLD CUP WIN AGAINST JAPAN
Tim Cahill relived his World Cup heroics of three years ago with a second half double as Australia came from behind to defeat Japan 2-1 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The Socceroos completed the final eight-game qualifying phase without loss to be five points clear of second-placed Japan in their group. "It's just amazing for us and the fans to share such a beautiful moment," said Cahill after repeating his two-goal heroics against Japan at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. "For us, it was great to put on a performance that really left something in the hearts of the Australians. But it was that bit more special because it brought back the memories of Germany and now going into South Africa hopefully we can relive that."
There had been precious few moments for the green and gold army to get excited about before the break, as Australia continued the effective but unadventurous style that had served them well throughout the campaign. Their one real chance of the first half came after 10 minutes when Cahill's weak shot was blocked by goalkeeper Seigo Narazaki, whose sharp reflexes deflected Mile Sterjovski's follow-up over the crossbar. Otherwise, it was Japan that did most of most of the attacking and eventually opened the scoring in the 40th minute when Tulio Tanaka made a well-timed run into the 18-yard box to head in at a corner.
This stirred the Socceroos into life after break and they attacked constantly in the opening stages. Cahill brought the teams level with a brilliant header in the 59th minute, the nippy striker leaping above two defenders to nod in a long-range Vince Grella free-kick. The goal seemed to inspire Cahill to press even harder for the winner, getting onto the end of several promising attacking moves in the following minutes. He eventually gave the Socceroos the lead in the 76th minute when a Nicky Carle corner from the right side floated over a pack of players and Cahill, lurking at the back, got enough of his right leg to the ball to send it into the net and bring the crowd back to their feet.
WARDLE EXPECTS INGLEWOOD TO FINISH STRONGLY
Inglewood United is slowly getting their season back on track following a tough couple of months. And if evidence is required to back that claim then defender Matt Wardle suggests the critics look carefully at his teams' performances against Swan United and Perth Glory in the last few days. "It has been an up and down season so far and things have not really gone to plan," said Wardle. "In most games we have done well for a one half then struggled the next half. Last week against Swan and the other night against Glory I thought we showed promising signs that we have turned a corner, hopefully good things are to come."
Wardle admits his club's decision of last month in which former Perth Glory coach Alan Vest took over from Lee Bamber had an unsettling effect on the side. "I think most of the players were shocked at the announcement and the circumstances as to why Lee parted with the club," he said. "But these things happen in football and the boys are now getting used to the way Alan wants us to play ... Vesty is good coach and everyone at the club has a lot of respect for him. Between him and Kevin Brophy the intensity at training has picked up and everyone looks sharp. Now we just need to bring that to Saturday's."
Assistant coach Kevin Brophy is pleased Wardle appears to be over the injury problems which had him in and out of the sisde earlier in the season. "He had a bad gash in his upper thigh which put him behind the eight ball this season, so he's only just got going," said Brophy. "Matt is a rare commodity at Inglewood as he's a naturally left sided player. He brings balance and shape to the team and is always looking to get forward. He had a great game against Swan and now he can build on that as we need his quality if we are to start climbing the table."
Wardle enjoyed Tuesday's friendly outing with Glory in which Inglewood went close on several occasions to grabbing the lead before Andrija Jukic struck the deciding goal shortly before half-time. "I thought it was a good game and a good opportunity to play against a team at a higher level," said the skilful 21-year old. "The game was at a faster pace then usual, they pass the ball well and there movement was sharp. But overall I thought we handled them quite well."
The defender has first hand knowledge of what it takes to play professionally through time spend at Scottish Premier League club Livingston. "Scotland was a great experience for me. Training and playing full-time is what every aspiring football player aims for," he said. "I had some ups and downs though, adjusting to the lifestyle and getting a serious injury which cut my contract short was a lowlight. But playing and being involved with the first team, and playing against Celtic and Rangers reserves teams was something I will never forget."
JUKIC FIRES EARLY FOR GLORY
New Perth Glory signing Andrija Jukic has made an early claim to a starting spot when the season proper starts by netting the only goal of his teams' mid-week friendly win against Inglewood United. Bagging the deciding goal was a welcome reward for 22-year old Jukic, who toiled tirelessly in midfield for Glory Youth last season. "It was a real good performance on Tuesday, we have done a lot of hard work in the first month or so of pre-season and to put out a good performance for our first game and get a win was really good," Jukic said.
You'd be hard pressed to find too many players that genuinely enjoy the rigours of pre-season training but Jukic believes the hours of hard work will pay dividends come match time. "Training has been going really well, David (Mitchell) and Kenny (Lowe) have been working us hard and with the new fitness coach Peter Cklamovski pushing me and I'm really feeling the difference, and there has been an improvement in my fitness levels," he said. "I'm really looking forward to the coming season."
There's a greater depth to Glory's 2009/10 squad with senior coach Mitchell on record as saying all eleven positions are up for grabs. Jukic knows it's up to him to cement his place in the line-up and is hoping a good run of pre-season form can keep him in the forefront of the coaches thoughts. "I believe that's fair, all I can do is work hard in training, keep improving and show David what I can do for the team and in the end it’s his final say on the best eleven to play," said the former Western Knights and Perth SC player.
Jukic is looking forward to next month's friendlies with English clubs Fulham and Wolverhampton Wanderers. "It sure is exciting times ahead but we have to do the hard work first," he commented. "I hope to be involved in the games and to have the opportunity to play against two clubs from arguably the best league in the world is unbelievable. To see the difference and quality of these sides and to hopefully go up against them will be amazing, I’m really looking forward to it.”
SORRENTO MOVE THEIR GOALPOSTS
A poor run of early season form has led Sorrento to lower their sights. The Gulls entered 2009 focused on defending the Premier League crown won last year, however, they’ve been forced to alter their season goals after collecting just two wins and three draws from the first games. "Our goals have certainly altered in that coming into the season we wanted to win the league again," said Gulls captain Todd Harnwell. "Of course, the way the league is set up this year, finishing in the top five is really all that counts and we still aim to do that. However, we also need to be conscious of not getting drawn into a scrap for points at the bottom of the table."
According to Harnwell, there is no one single reason for the Gulls flying well below the radar. "There have been a number of factors that have lead us to this point in the season, " said Harnwell. "We've had a shocking run of injuries that has seen Brodie Martin, James Morgan, Darryl Platten, Stuart Montgomery and Reece Vittiglia miss most games this season, and that's really tested our depth at times. Luck hasn't always been on our side either with decisions and half-chances going against us. But obviously the biggest problem is that we have conceded too many goals in games to give us a chance of winning."
There were hopes a home win against Perth SC last weekend would provide the catalyst for the Gulls to turn around their season, however, the three-goal loss only served to further compound their plight. "It's always disappointing losing at home, but particularly so given our first half performance in which we matched Perth," he said. "We were confident of grinding out a result in the second half. Unfortunately, we were on the receiving end of a penalty decision that I thought was very harsh and really changed the game. We then had to go chasing for a win and Perth were able to capitalise on that."
This Saturday Sorrento have another tough game when they host second-placed Western Knights. "We will approach this game the same as all for the rest of the season - it's a must-win. We need to stay in touch with the middle pack to fight for a top five spot and that means winning as many games as possible, especially at home," said Harnwell, who readily admits he doesn't know a great deal about this weekend's opposition. "Not too much personal experience to be honest ... I missed the Charity Shield earlier this year but from what I've observed they look dangerous going forward and have plenty of lads who can score from midfield and up-front."
Harnwell is well aware of the danger the Knights pose on Saturday, after all, they are the competition's second highest scoring side and have not lost in over two months. "I think the Micevski boys, David and Daniel, are both good players and are always dangerous so they will be the ones we have to keep close tabs on," Harnwell commented. "They also have a couple of big strong boys who pose an aerial threat but given the height in our team we should be able to deal with that if we are switched on … and, hopefully, we can give them something to worry about ourselves!"
FLOREAT CONFIRM CAPTURE OF MIRCO
Michael Roki has added further to his options in the final third of the park with the recruitment of attack-focused Johnny Mirco. Mirco, 31, moves to championship chasing Floreat Athena after six and a half seasons at Cockburn City, where his talents inside the 18-yard box were rewarded with the club’s leading goal scorer trophy on four occasions. “John definitely adds quality to our forward line, he’s an impact player and is one of, if not the most clinical finisher in the league,” said coach Roki. “We have always rated John highly and are thrilled to have him as part of our attack.”
Floreat possess and abundance of players capable of putting the ball in the net and, as the season nears the halfway stage, Roki thought he’d settled his squad when a surprise call from Mirco came through. “A few months ago we closed the door on all transfers to the club with an exception made should either Jerry Karpeh or John Mirco become available,” said Roki. “John approached me totally out of the blue. He felt he has limited time left in the game and was hoping to give himself a chance of winning a title or two in the next few years.”
GLORY OFF TO A WINNING START
Perth Glory kicked off their pre-season with a comfortable 1-0 victory against Inglewood United on a chilly evening at Clipsal Stadium. The games only goal arrived just before half-time when local product Andrija Jukic showed great composure to past Louis Italiano. Assistant coach Kenny Lowe, who managed the team in the absence of David Mitchell, was pleased with the squad’s first up performance. “It was a good work-out,” Lowe said. “Its pleasing that we came out with no serious injuries, the physical preparation work we’ve done so far is paying dividends with the lads looking fit and strong out there. There were some aspects that we can improve and we will be looking at that at training but overall it was a good opening to our match practice ahead of the season.”
Inglewood blew early chances to go in front when Rory Grant and Jason Colli both failed to find the net after being put through against Aleks Vrteski, who later did well in tipping over a powerful Michael Baczynski free-kick. Naum Sekulovski screwed wide and Jamie Coyne headed at Italiano as Glory also created opportunities during a first half in which they dictated possession. In a positive sign of things to come for Glory, first year player Jukic bagged what turned out to be the deciding goal in the 39th minute with a well taken shot from 14-metres after the hosts failed clear their lines. Both teams created chances in a second half that lacked the intensity of the first, with the best openings coming the way of the hosts as Mladin Kovacevic, Kevin Griffiths and Matt Worton all going close to equalising.
Jukic was one of several young Glory recruits thrust into the starting line-up and all showcased their potential with strong performances. Brent Griffiths turned in a commanding performance in central defence while Howard Fondyke clearly enjoyed his midfield role. Several of the club’s Youth team was also given a chance in the second half which ended with only four senior squad players on the pitch. “The young boys were terrific, they’re enthusiastic and performed really well,” commented Lowe. “There is a great culture within the club with the older guys embracing these youngsters and helping them to develop as players and that is great to see.”
GIRLS PREPARE FOR NATIONALS
West Australia's brightest young female players are immersed in preparations for next month's National Youth Championships. An annual event, the Nationals brings together the best players from across Australia in a competitive environment and in front of national team coaches and selectors as well as the Australian Institute of Sport. This year's tournament takes place in the seaside town of Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, commencing 11 July.
The thirty-two players selected to don the black and gold have been in training for two months, and will be hoping to impress in Coffs Harbour. "The girls have been working really hard over the last few weeks, and hopefully that hard work pays off while we are in Coffs so that we can excel as a team and get some of our girls identified for their respective Australian teams," said Tanya Oxtoby, coach of the State Under-17 side.
The 2009 West Australian Under-15 squad is Kim McCartney (Australind), Ashleigh Panaia (Balcatta), Korien Stambridge (East Fremantle), Hope Compton, Thia Eastman (Gosnells City), Siobhan Mulligan (Kingsley), Sarah Van Noort (Melville City), Emily Salih (Nedlands), Kathryn Riley (Northern Redbacks), Rayne Henry, Catherine McCulloch (Port Kennedy), Faye Chambers, Courtney Omodei (Quinns), Zoe Palandri (Subiaco), Stacey Cavill (Suburbs United) and Sarah Carroll (Wanneroo City).
Representing West Australia at Under-17 level during the up-coming nationals are Kathleen Waycott (Bunbury), Ebony Drayne, Anique Kysler (East Fremantle), Amy Fortescue (Gelorup), Dom Fedele (Harvey), Natasha Rigby (Margaret River), Nadine Richichi (Stirling Lions), Emily Dunn (Victoria Park Rovers) and Carla Bennett, Morgan Cox, Rebecca Davies, Jaymee Gibbons, Stephanie Goadsby, Sadie Lawrence, Rachel Smith and Corrin Walsmley (West Australian Institute of Sport).
AUSTRALIA LAUNCHES WORLD CUP HOSTING BID
Football Federation Australia officially kicked off Australia's bid to host the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cup with a lavish ceremony at Parliament House yesterday. Chairman of FFA Frank Lowy says the prospect of a winning bid is a realistic and achievable goal. "Hosting the World Cup would provide Australia with an unparalleled opportunity and give Australia a lasting and living legacy for generations to come," he said. "On the world stage, there is no event with the same level of global appeal or audience reach as the FIFA World Cup."
Prime minister Kevin Rudd and leader of the opposition Malcolm Turnbull presented a united political front to an audience which included Lucas Neill, Mark Schwarzer, Pim Verbeek, Rale Rasic, Harry Williams, Adrian Alston and Joe Marston. "The sheer odds are tough against Australia, eight other countries, but the reason the Government has got behind the bid is that we as a nation can rise behind this great bid," Rudd said. "The challenges are great, but the prize is much greater ... I salute those who have had the courage, initiative and creativity to bring forth this idea."
Turnbull says Australia's bid is of vital national importance. "Based on the experience and the success of previous FIFA World Cups, Australia would play host to around 2 million overseas visitors with over 700 million people from 214 countries tuning in to watch the final - one-ninth of the world's population," he said. "It's not often the prime minister and I agree on something as big as this but the coalition will line-up with the Labor Party side by side, joined at the hip, as dual strikers, to bring the greatest show on earth to the greatest place on earth, our home Australia."
Lowy said that the cumulative global television audience at the 2006 World Cup was 26.2 billion with the single largest audience group coming from the Asian Football Confederation, of which Australia is a member. The FFA chairman believee Australia's secret weapon would be its people, and the country's appeal as a tourist destination. Australia faces stiff competition from England, Belgium and the Netherlands, Japan, Mexico, Indonesia, Portugal and Spain, Qatar, the United States and Russia to host either the 2018 or 2022 World Cups.
CANNING WIN IN A CANTER
Canning City put together back-to-back Premier League wins for the first time by trouncing Stirling Lions in the Sunday game at Willetton Sportsman Club. Goals by captain Paul Van Dongen, Simon Versaico, Charlie Partridge and an own goal from Michael Pugliese sealed the three points in impressive fashion for assistant Canning coach Alan Hind. "I am very happy with the performance today. It was another win and we've been scoring the some goals lately but the pleasing thing about today is not conceding a goal," Hind said. "That's the first goal this year we haven't conceded so that's what I'm most pleased about."
Canning typically put the early pressure on their opponents by creating a string of scoring chances. Versaico, Van Dongen, Duncan Hind and Greg Newcombe all had good efforts but each failed to find the back of the net. Stirling, whilst being on the back foot did look dangerous at set pieces with their best opening coming via a Steven Hesketh corner that goalkeeper James Partridge tipped over. 38 minutes were on the clock when Van Dongen ran onto a delightful pass out of defence, shrugging off a defender before coolly placing low past the advancing 'keeper Dino Pacella and inside the far post.
The floodgates had been prised open and two minutes later Canning had their second, Paul Oliver playing through for Trevisiol whose centring pass from close to the by-line struck Pugliese's shin and ricocheted into Pacella's net. It the margin became three on the stroke of half-time when Darko Ilmanoski's attempt to hook a bouncing ball over his head and to safety struck Versaico in the chest, the ball looping up off the Canning player and over a stranded Pacella to the absolute amazement of the crowd.
Stirling tightened their defences for the second stanza and effectively stifled their hosts attacking avenues. Unfortunately, all their hard work was undone on 69 minutes when Van Dongen took possessiion in midfield and played down the right for Roberto Lujan whose cross was sent into the net by newly introduced substitute Charlie Partridge. With the game won Canning eased off the pace and allowed Stirling to see more of the ball. And although the home side did experience a little more pressure they remained unbreached right up until the final whistle.
CLARETS WILL HAVE TO BREAK THE BANK TO SIGN WILLIAMS
Burnley they will have to break their £1.3million transfer record if they want to sign Rhys Williams from Middlesbrough. The versatile 20-year old defender played his part in the Clarets qualifying for the end of season play-offs during three-month loan during their successful 2008/2009 English Championship campaign. Burnley’s subsequent promotion to the Premier League has renewed their interest in taking Williams on a permanent deal, however, Middlesbrough have made it clear they will want big money for the youngster if they were persuaded to part with him.
ROBINSON STARS AS ARMADALE HIT SIX
Armadale breathed new life into their season by thumping a hapless ECU Joondalup 6-2 at the Edith Cowan university campus. Newly arrived import James Robinson was the star of the show, playing a leading role in Armadale's first two goals before scoring a late hat-trick to secure the Reds maximum points for the first time this season. Robinson laid on the visitors opening goal after 12 minutes by clipping over the defence for Marlon Ramirez to run through and find the gap between goalkeeper Davyyd Jones and his near post from a tight angle. The gap was widened seven minutes later when Kevin Bissett looped a neat header over Jones and into the far corner from a Kieran Tracey cross that flicked the head of Robinson.
Joondalup eventually settled and on 25 minutes pulled a goal back through Tommy Amphlett whose shot on the turn flashed into the net following good work in the build-up from Greg Josling. Alan Muir was having a fair influence in the middle of the park and combining well with wide players Ramirez and Mo Atak as Armadale continued to prod for holes in the home defence. In the 33rd minute the Reds restored their two-goal buffer, Gary Bunting dashing down the left to deliver a superb cross that Tracey turned on and fired past Jones as the home defence stood appealing for offside. Amphlett went close to replying soon after, while Garin Collins cross late in the half somehow eluded everyone inside the 18-yard box.
The second half opened with Joondalup displaying greater composure and on 54 minutes they were back in the game as Amphlett again found the net to make it three-two. The game remained in the balance until the 79th minute when Ryan Pearson intercepted Jones' poor throw-out and crossed to the far post where Robinson had the easiest of tap-ins. Five minutes later Robinson won possession in the centre circle, twisted and turned past several opponents before breaking free and beating Jones in a one-on-one. The icing on the cake came soon after, Robinson picking the ball up out wide from where he drove past his marker to sweetly strike a curling shot into the top corner to complete a memorable hat-trick on his Armadale return.
PERTH BACK ON TOP
Three goals in a stunning eighteen-minute spell have propelled Perth SC back to the top of the Premier League table. David Onoforo's second half brace and a third goal by Greg Sharland saw the Blues dump reigning champions Sorrento 3-0 at Percy Doyle Reserve. Coach Graham Normanton was delighted to take home all three points, saying it was a perfect response to the previous week's loss to Floreat Athena. "We needed to come out and have a win today," he said. "It was a good effort from the boys. It was maybe a bit closer than the scoreline suggested but every one of our players did the job today."
The visitors could only wonder how they didn't open the scoring after 3 minutes when Onoforo's shot was instinctively saved by Cyril Sharrock, who somehow kept out Ian McMurray's follow-up. Antonio Naglieri wasn't far off soon after with a scorching volley after a loose ball dropped kindly for him inside the 18-yard box. Daniel Darras blazed high from close-range for the Gulls first genuine chance on goal after 19 minutes. Paul Cunningham denied Onoforo with a desperate block, then at the other end Danny Hill fired over the crossbar from 9-metres following a goalmouth scramble. Sharrock smothered bravely at the feet of McMurray as Perth sought go ahead late in the half, and soon after Craig Simpson was unable to keep his header down from Todd Howarth's corner.
Sharland slammed an angled drive into the side netting as Perth started the second period where they'd left off. The pressure valve was released on 52 minutes when, from the penalty spot, Onoforo slotted into the bottom corner after Howarth's bullet-like shot crashed into the arm of Danny Cain. Sorrento upped their efforts and in the minutes that followed Steve McDonald's snap shot wasn't far wide while a Glen Thomas volley from the edge of the area flashed high of the bar. Ten minutes after giving Perth the lead Onoforo added their second by neatly tucking in at point-blank range after Phil Arnold's cross from the right was re-directed into the post by Naglieri.
Todd Harnwell was unlucky not to pull one back midway through the period but his close-range effort was cleared off the line, and later McDonald glanced across the face of goal at corner. Sandwiched between these was an opportunity for Onoforo to complete his hat-trick but it wasn't to be as Sharrock pulled off another quality diving save. With twenty minutes remaining the result was put beyond doubt, Onoforo laying the ball off for Sharland to send a low shot into the net from 18-metres. Naglieri should have made it four-nil deep into stoppage time but the Perth playmaker placed wide from a few metres after another good cross from the hardworking Arnold.
CAMPBELL NETS AS KNIGHTS KEEP PACE (by Micheal Bate, Football West)
Anthony Campbell moved Western Knights to within touching distance of top spot by scoring the only goal of today's meeting with Mandurah City at Nash Field. In a game of few chances, the big striker tapped-in to an empty net in the 75th minute to secure the Knights a sixth straight win on home soil. Post-game, Knights' coach Paul Price praised his teams defensive efforts against a strong finishing Mandurah. "It looked like it could have ended nil-nil but we managed to nick a goal near the end and then hold on," he said. "We've defended well for the last few weeks but have lost concentration near the end of games, but today the boys got the clean sheet they deserved."
The Knights looked best when captain David Micevski was able to put his foot on the ball and control the pace of the game. The midfielder created the best opportunity of the first half with a free-kick from the halfway line that found David Annall, whose flicked header flew just wide. David Micevski was again the provider ten minutes after the interval, his inch perfect corner picking out an unmarked Stuart Ferguson but the towering defender's powerful header flashed just wide of the upright when it surely would have been easier to score.
As the half progressed the game began to open up with both teams sensing that one goal could win it. In the 73rd minute Stephen Payne went very close with a 22-metre drive after a clever run took him past two defenders, but goalkeeper Frazer Siddall saved well. The deadlock was finally broken only a couple of minutes later, Mandurah's failure to deal effectively with the ball deep inside their 18-yard box allowing substitute Daniel Trim to slide in ahead of 'keeper Phil Straker and toe-poke the ball across for Campbell to push into the net.
The stage was set for a frantic final fifteen minutes, Mandurah needing to go all-out for an equaliser as the Knights attempted to kill the game off with a second goal. Straker kept the hosts in the game with a brilliant one-handed save which kept out David Micevski's 81st minute header. Craig Young hit the post after a rare mistake by the Knights' back three, the ball bouncing away to Phil O'Callaghan but the young striker hit the side netting at the follow-up. There was still time for one more chance but Andy Brown wasn't able to connect with the scissor-kick and the Knights quickly swept the ball away to safety.
FLOREAT SURRENDER TO LATE FINISHING COCKBURN (courtesy Cockburn City)
Cockburn City ended their lengthy dry spell by scoring twice late on to upset a nine-player Floreat Athena 3-2 at Dalmatinac Park. Michael Grigo scored a brace with Llewelyn Bake grabbing the 85th minute winner to earn Cockburn their first win in two-months against a Floreat side that had defenders James Isaia and Ante Kovacevic sent off in the first half. A relatively tame start was interrupted on 19 minutes when Branimir Mikulic rifled into the net to open the visitors account. Cockburn waited only eight minutes before drawing level, Grigo despatching into the net from Cameron Edwards’ centring pass in from the left. Floreat suffered a body blow two minutes later when Isaia was issued his marching orders for a reckless tackle on Edwards. But going down to ten men didn’t seem to phase the visitors and in the 35th minute a suspiciously offside Brad Scott scored their second of the afternoon. The turning point came soon after when Kovacevic became the second Floreat played red carded by referee David Strand, this time for retaliating to a heel clip from Joseph Brunetto.
With the advantage of having two extra players, Cockburn constantly applied the pressure in the second half as they sought to restore parity. Michael Mirco blasted a free-kick low but wide of the target early on, while nearing the hour mark Aaron Dos Santos should have done much better after getting on the end of an Edwards cross. Soon after coach Scott Miller went to his bench by bringing on the fresh legs of Jason Dos Santos and Renato Jelen, both of who wasted no time in making their presence felt. The trickery of Jason Dos Santos was a major cause of concern for the visitors, who maintained their slender lead amid wave after wave of attack. In the 74th minute Jelen did well to work space for himself and unleash a shot on the turn which was a little too close to goalkeeper Vas Vujacic. Cockburn got the goal they sought with seven minutes left on the clock, Jelen laying on the pass that Grigo sent into the net. This gave the hosts just the boost they needed and two minutes later Michael Mirco popped the ball down the middle for Bake who race through and slot the deciding goal into Floreat’s net.
SWAN HANG ON FOR POINT AT INGLEWOOD (with Chris Correia, Football West)
A ten-man Swan United collected a vital point by holding on for a 1-1 draw with Inglewood United in today's important mid-table contest at Clipsal Stadium. The 68th minute red carding of John Mansaray appeared to swing the game in Inglewood's favour, however, the visitors did well to fend off their opponents during the remaining time and grab themselves a share of the spoils. Swan goalkeeper Cory Hugo was the stand-out performer from both teams, with his fantastic reflexes keeping his side in the match. "It was a great defensive performance, particularly by Cory Hugo who was simply all class," said Swan boss Paul Lincoln. "To be away from home and play with ten men for over twenty minutes and to come away with a point was a good outcome."
The scrappy nature of the game was interrupted in the 12th minute by Alex Stamatiadis' long through-ball for Jason Colli, who gathered possession on the right before whipping in a cross which Albert Osei-Tutu fired through the congestion to nail the opener. Inglewood's lead was nearly doubled moments later but Rory Grant hit the upright and Hugo saved the airborne rebound. It was on the counter attack that Swan started to get more involved but try as hard as they did there was no way through a strong Inglewood defensive line. That was until late in the half when captain Aaron Cole rose highest at teh back of a crowded 6-yard box to head in powerfully from a corner.
Whatever caretaker coach Kevin Brophy said at the break had the desired effect with Inglewood coming out with all guns blazing for the second half. A Stamatiadis rocket from distance went just wide of the post, and the result was the same soon after for Osei-Tutu. Down the other end Damian Scali should have done much better than hit the post after finding himself with the ball at his feet and just metres out. Matt Wardle started a fine move in which Stamatiadis set-up Jason Colli, whose shot hit the post and rebounded kindly for Dannie Richman but his attempt was miracuously saved by Hugo, much to the shock of the Inglewood faithful.
There was more brilliance to come from the Swan custodian, who clearly relished playing against his former club. Another shot by Colli was parried by Hugo who then kept out the follow-up attempt by Stamatiadis just moments later. In a tense finish, which featured plenty of lunging tackles and hard running, it was Inglewood who nearly grabbed a final minute winner when Osei-Tutu weaved his way through the defence but his effort was just shy of the target. Referee Troy Miller played five minutes of additional time due to David Perich going down with cramp, however, neither side was able to create any further chances to snatch victory.
PHOENIX MAKE TITLE AMBITIONS CLEAR
South West Phoenix reasserted their intentions of lifting the First Division trophy by thrashing competition pacesetter Wanneroo City 5-1 at Westrac Stadium. It was a memorable day all round for Phoenix who moved to just two points off top spot courtesy of a David Rodgers hat-trick and further goals by Patrick Quinn and Steve Suttie, in his 200th appearance for the club. Phoenix capitalised on their dominance after 21 minutes when Kieran Kavanagh's early cross was smacked into the top corner on the half-volley by Rodgers from 14-metres.
A neat exchange between Rory Binnie, Rodgers and Kavanagh in the 34th minute sent clear Quinn who, from just outside the 18-yard box, confidently slid his shot past the oncoming goalkeeper. It was only now Wanneroo started to seriously threaten and on 34 minutes Jamie Oakey parried a shot from Brian Cairney, who reacted quickly to whip the loose ball into the net at close-range. Phoenix were handed back the lead within minutes as 'keeper Daniel Holgate allowed Suttie's miss-hit cross to bounce at the near post and sneak into the net.
Although the second half was played a break-neck speed there was little goalmouth action thanks to a couple of very well organised defences. There were only seven minutes left when Phoenix conjured up a fourth goal, Suttie going past a couple of opponents down the left before cutting inside and squaring for Rodgers to net from 5-metres. Wanneroo's miserable day at the office was made complete in the final minute when Holgate was sent off for bringing down Rodgers, who picked himself up to convert the resulting spot kick.
BALCATTA CONTINUE TO CLIMB
Balcatta returned home from a cold winter's night at Lark Hill Sports Complex with three valuable points courtesy of a 2-0 win against Rockingham City. The visitors were on the offensive from early only to have their attacking desires blunted by a very committed Rockingham side led by club stalwart Luke Rennie and anchored by goalkeeper Craig Olejnik. The pressure was telling and on 39 minutes Olejnik made a terrific reflex save to an Ashley Rosendale shot, the rebound of which fell invitingly for Luke O'Neill who made absolutely no mistake from 5-metres.
The second half opened with an Andy O'Neill shot whisking past the post by centimetres following a neat build-up on the right. Bobby Klenkoski rattled the post with the 'keeper beaten, then Andy O'Neill was put through one-on-one with Olejnik who captured the attempted chip. Balcatta's thirst for a second goal was quenched in the 73rd minute by Klenkoski, who finished well after another neat exchange of passes. Rockingham thought they'd earned a late consolation goal when Drazen Saric was beaten by a Rennie header but Andy O'Neill was placed on the line to head the ball to safety.
MORLEY GROUND WHITE EAGLES
Morley Windmills made an appearance in the winner's circle for the first time in over a month after accounting for Dianella White Eagles 3-1 at Wooton Reserve. Both goalkeepers found themselves the focus of some unwanted early attention which earned Martin Sherwin a booking for his heavy challenge on Matthew Battigelli, while at the other end Aaron Holloway required treatment after being clattered into by Jon Greenwood. Dianella's failure to clear the ball from their 6-yard box in the 12th minute was punished when Eddy Walsh drove in the game's first goal.
The home side were at this stage well in control with Sherwin and Farrell Hedges dictating terms in the middle of the park. So it came as no surprise when Walsh scored again in the 17th minute, the attacker latching on to a Hedges pass out of midfield to out-pace a slow defence and beat Battigelli from 10-metres. Dianella were finally awoken and eight minutes later Greenwood brought them back into the game with a well taken goal on the volley. In the minutes leading into half-time Mario Lucic's powerful shot on the run was saved by Hollaway, while Dragan Njegic placed just wide of the upright as Dianella attempted to equalise.
Rodrigo Aguirre wasted a golden opportunity to level the game in the 56th minute when he blasted high from the penalty spot following Bobby Irving's crude tackle on Stefan Smiljanic, who'd been on the park only minutes. Having heeded the warning, Morley rebounded with Hedges, Walsh, Sherwin and David Gordon asserting their influence with some fine ball movement. The points were made safe on 67 minutes when Mitch Castrilli's defence-splitting pass allowed substitute Mitch Brydon to race clear and beat an exposed 'keeper. The final margin would have been greater if not for Battigelli who tipped over a long-range strike from Walsh, and later spread himself to deny Brydon after he'd again left the defence trailing.
STERJOVSKI JOINS GLORY
Perth Glory coach David Mitchell is confident the addition of Socceroo attacker Mile Sterjovski will give the club a massive boost in their attempt to push their way back up the A-League table. The versatile 30-year old has returned from a lengthy spell in Europe to sign a three-year deal as Glory's marquee player. "There is no doubt Mile is a terrific player," said Mitchell. "He is also a wonderful character and true professional who'll significantly add to our squad and the A-League in general. Mile will positively impact matches for Perth Glory week in and week out and I'm delighted he has agreed to join the club."
Sterjovski becomes the second current Socceroo to sign on for Glory in recent months, the other being midfielder Jacob Burns. "When you look at the marquee status and the criteria to fill that role then Mile fits the bill perfectly," said Mitchell. "If someone had said a few months ago that we'd have two Socceroos in our squad for the start of the new season it would have been quickly dismissed. However that's exactly what we've done, we've added quality, and Glory supporters have a lot to get excited about this season."
By moving to Perth Sterjovski ends a nine-year European career in which he played a combining total of over 200 games for Lille (France), FC Basel (Switzerland), Hacettepe SK (Turkey) and, most recently, Derby County (England). His signature signals Glory's championship credentials and reunites player and coach after Mitchell helped develop the young striker at Sydney United and Parramatta Power a decade ago. Sterjovski had ben sounded out by several other A-League clubs but it was his relationship with Mitchell that swung him in Glory's direction.
The familiar faces of Andy Todd and Jacob Burns will be on board by the time Sterjovski joins Glory for pre-season training in early July. "I'm very happy to be joining Perth, the players they have brought into the club show their desire and commitment to challenge for honours this season and I'm looking forward to being part of that," he said. "You couldn't get a better professional than Andy, and Jacob is a great player and a long time friend. It certainly made the decision easier to know those boys were there and I'm looking forward to meeting the other guys and gelling with a squad that I'm sure can achieve great results this season."
Sterjovski, scorer of Australia's opening goal in the mid-week World Cup qualifier with Bahrain in Sydney, feels confident he has made the right decision when it comes to building a case for his inclusion in the squad for South Africa 2010. "I'm determined to be part of the World Cup and playing regularly at a successful club will enhance my chances," said Sterjovski, who has represented Australia on 40 occasions. "There are parallels between Perth Glory's success and my goal of playing in next year's World Cup and I believe both can be achieved."
THE PREMIER LEAGUE IN PREVIEW
Nash Field is the place to be tomorrow when Western Knights take on Mandurah City (3.00pm) in the highlight of the ninth round of Premier League fixtures. The Knights are breathing down the necks of the top two and coach Paul Price had every reason to be confident of collecting another three points. “We are unbeaten in our last six league games and head into this game full of confidence,” commented Price. “We have a good home record and will be looking to continue that against Mandurah. They are a good side and we will need to be at our best, but I’m confident of the victory.”
Mandurah won convincingly at the Knights last season but assistant coach Billy Russell knows it’s a completely different kettle of fish this time around. “Last seasons results mean nothing and we know it will be tough game. They play well on their own pitch and it show’s as they are unbeaten at home this season,” he said. Phil Straker returns between the posts to stabilise a Mandurah defence that has conceded five goals in two games, while the attacking drive of Craig Young and Phil O’Callaghan is sure to cause the home team more than a few problems.
Premier League leaders Floreat Athena had a road trip to Dalmatinac Park where Cockburn City (3.00pm) holds home ground advantage. It’s been two months since Cockburn last tasted victory and their hopes of ending that run received a dent during the week when Johnny Mirco announced his intention to join Floreat. Playmaker Jason Dos Santos and seasoned campaigner Michael Mirco have key roles to play for coach Scott Miller, while Adam Surjan and Paul Natale will need to be at their best to stop the Floreat juggernaut.
Michael Roki hopes the euphoria of last week’s victory at Perth SC doesn’t affect his teams focus. “It’s critical that we don’t undo all the good work with a poor performance the following week,” said Floreat coach Roki, who is likely to be without Adam Bachiller and John Migas. “Cockburn have proven a tricky side for us in the past, but we will all be travelling back to Litis Stadium for our annual Brain Drain quiz night so I’m sure the boys will want a win to ensure the mood is right for the night. Perth have a few tough games coming up so we have to get full points and keep the pressure on them.”
Paul Lincoln is hopeful Swan United can take maximum points against his former club, Inglewood United (3.00pm). “We won there last season 3-0 but generally we don’t have a good record at Clipsal Stadium,” commented Lincoln. “We expect a hard game as they have some very good players and are a well balanced team. We’re in good form so I’m confident that we can take all three points.” Damian Scali and Steven Guest are back in contention for the visitors, while Inglewood’s caretaker coach Kevin Brophy is wondering if there’s room for Dannie Richman, Michael Baczynski and Matt Wardle in the first eleven.
ECU Joondalup and Armadale will be going all out to take the three points from their meeting at the Edith Cowan University campus (3.00pm). “It’s a massive game for both teams,” commented Joondalup coach Syd Amphlett, who won’t be underestimating this weekend’s opposition. “Armadale have bolstered their ranks with several new signings and we expect a hard game. We’re coming off two heavy defeats and need to turn that around quickly.” There’s a cloud of doubt over Joondalup defender Charlie Comyn-Platt as he battles an ankle injury, while the season is over for youngster Josh Risdon due to a broken ankle.
It really is difficult to see how Sorrento will be able to prevent Perth SC from gaining maximum points at Percy Doyle Reserve (3.00pm). The visitors are keen as mustard to make amends for last week’s loss and once Todd Howarth, Antonio Naglieri and David Onoforo get going it’s going to take something special to stop them. The round concludes on Sunday with Canning City favoured for victory against Stirling Lions at Willetton Sportsman Club (3.00pm). Paul Van Dongen has been in sensational form of late and how Stirling cope with the massive threat he poses could well decide the outcome.
THE FIRST DIVISION IN PREVIEW
The match of the week takes us to Wauhop Park where Fremantle Spirit takes on Bayswater City. The importance of victory is not lost on either team who are amongst six separated by just three points on a very congested First Division table. “We’re looking forward to a tough encounter with Fremantle, they have quality all over the park and are always difficult to beat - especially at their home ground,” said Bayswater boss Michael Di Fulvio. “Fremantle are well coached by Marc Wingell and three points will keep whoever wins in touch with the top two.”
Morley Windmills will be out to buck the odds and upset Dianella White Eagles in the local derby at Wotton Reserve. Goalkeeper Stewart Delgarno is back on deck for the hosts after a couple of week’s absence along with Mark Walsh and Simon El Chami. “It’s another big game for us. We seem to be playing teams each week that are coming into a bit of form and this time it’s the high flying White Eagles,” said Morley coach Tom Kilkelly. “The chances have been coming thick and fast for us but unfortunately we’re not converting them, if we can change that then maybe we can reach our target of a top five finish.”
South West Phoenix’s unbeaten home record comes under threat by a visit from table topping Wanneroo City, who have not lost in their last six outings. There were a lot of positives in Queens Park’s last performance, amongst them Kailo Karpeh’s hat-trick, meaning they’ll head to Gosnells City confident of collecting their first point of the campaign. Forrestfield United is expected to pick up the points against visiting Ashfield who are without suspended veterans Jason Van Rooy and Aaron Moschopolous. Not a lot has been going right for Rockingham City of late and it’s difficult to see that changing when they host third-placed Balcatta under lights at Lark Hill Sports Complex.
CHANDLER REIGNS AS FOOTBALL WEST CEO
Football West has confirmed the departure of chief executive Garry Chandler at the end of the month. Kevin Campbell, chairman of Football West, recently advised Chandler his contract would not be renewed beyond 31 June, leading the organisations figurehead to tender his resignation. "With the Socceroos qualification to their second successive World Cup finals appearance and the prospect of a promising season ahead for Perth Glory, we expect unprecedented levels of interest in football throughout Western Australia and we want to be best placed to capitalise on this exciting period ahead," said Campbell. Board member Luke Martin will serve as interim Managing Director with Football West working towards advertising the soon-to-be vacated chief executive role by November.
RUKAVYTSYA NAMED AUSTRALIAN FOOTBALLS BEST YOUNG TALENT
Former Perth SC striker Nikita Rukavytsya capped a memorable year by picking up the Professional Footballers Association's Harry Kewell medal at the inaugural Australian Footballer of the Year awards last night in Sydney. Rukavytsya, now at Dutch club FC Twente, won the award as Australia's best under-23 player with 218 votes to finish well ahead of Adelaide United's Scott Jamieson (173) and Newcastle Jets' Tarek Elrich (164). Top honours - Australian Footballer of the Year - were taken out by Socceroos goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, while Matildas midfielder Joanne Peters was named the female player of the year. Tim Cahill was chosen by his peers as the PFA's player of the year, with Daniel Mullen (Adelaide United) and Kyah Simon (Central Coast Mariners) took out the male and female under-20 footballer of the year awards.
BOWYER PLANS TO LEAD REDS TO SAFETY
It's been a disappointing season for Armadale who, after eight games, sit at the bottom of the Premier League table. Team captain Andy Bowyer rues a couple of early losses which he feels have shaped their season to date. "The season did start off a bit rough, I thought we did enough to win the games at Canning City and Swan United and if it wasn't for a couple of dodgy decisions we are looking at six points instead of two which would put us in amongst it," said the 34-year old veteran defender.
Bowyer is far from dishearted by his teams' lowly position after eight games. "We may only have three points but I'm not disappointed because I have seen us look to beat teams, and as long as we keep that fight going consistently then we will take points off a number of teams," said Bowyer, now in his second season at Alfred Skeet Oval. "With a combination of our discipline and the struggling to re-adjust to the new rules we have needed to change the team on few occasions, which hasn't helped us."
The Reds have fought an uphill battle against injury and suspension during the first two months of the home and away series which has seriously hampered their progress. "It's particularly unfortunate to lose our Jason Goodwin (broken leg) as it was looking like a strong year for our skipper after his pre-season commitment and effort, all the boys wish him a speedy recovery," said Bowyer, who recently completed suspension for a red card received against Perth Sc. "We've also lost to injury Liam Harvey, Peter Lord, Shannon Dally and Nao Oshi."
Adding to Armadale's frustration is the delay in having the international clearance of English striker James Robinson finalised. "I can't believe what is actually going on here, Robbo just wants to score goals and play football. Hopefully, it's not a case of an office boy forgetting to change the fax roll somewhere in an Essex boardroom," Bowyer theorised. "Big Kev Bissett holds it up well and is banging in a few but we do need Robbo as another option. Once we get these two working together they will give a lot of defences a lot of trouble."
Former national league player and now Armadale coach Brad Hassell is grateful for Bowyer's on-field leadership and the influence he has had on the younger players at Armadale. "With Jason breaking his leg, Andy has stepped into a captaincy role this season," explained Hassell, who played alongside Bowyer in Sorrento's 2006 championship winning side. "He has been our best player so far this season, and if we had a few more players with his desire and determination, we probably would have picked up more points."
Armadale went down by only a single goal to Western Knights in their last game, a performance Bowyer says was encouraging. "We had a few senior players out and fought hard with four new players getting a run against the Knights. The game was still there for a point right up until the final whistle," he said. "We need to battle hard for each other, week in and week out, and once we consistently do that we will be hard to get points off. I believe last weeks game was a turning point of our season."
And there's likely to be at least another new face in the line-up with Armadale play ECU Joondalup on Saturday, that of Scottish import Alan Muir. "I've not seen Alan play much but he's looking sharp at training, he gets stuck in and is fitting in well with the lads," Bowyer said. "We are going to Joondalup to win - it was about this time last season when we had a great run. We have players available who weren't last week so for the first time availability should not be an issue, fingers crossed the office boy checks the fax machine!"
AUSTRALIA'S OTHER WORLD CUP MASTERS SHINE
Australia have returned triumphant from the Masters World Cup in Thailand by sharing the trophy with England. The two nations were declared joint-winners after a heavy thunderstorm which flooded the pitch caused the abandonment of the tournament finale at half-time. Masteroos coach Gary Marocchi was delighted with the achievement of his team, which had a strong West Australian flavour. "It was a great effort from all the squad, and we hope to go one better in 2010 with a possibility the tournament being expanded to twelve teams," said the former Socceroo.
Australia drew upon their fighting spirit by coming from behind to draw 2-2 with Iran in the opening game of the eight-nation tournament. Iran was out of the blocks fast and at the end of 45 minutes held a two-goal advantage. Whatever Marocchi said at the break worked wonders as Paul Strudwick and former Socceroos striker Ernie Campbell pegged back the game. "We were always in the game but poor finishing in the first half nearly cost us," commented Marocchi.
The following day Australia out-classed Taiwan 3-1 to get their campaign up and running. On target were former Perth Glory team mates Strudwick and Bobby Despotovski along with Veselin Zmukic. "We were leading 2-0 at half time and went to a three-goal lead before Taiwan scored from the penalty spot," said Marocchi. "The result left us with the equation that we only had to draw our next match to qualify for the semi-finals."
Despotovski scoring twice to secure a 2-1 win against the United Arab Emirites on match day three. The margin could have been greater with Despotovski failing to capitalise on a couple of golden chances and Zmukic disallowed a legitimate goal. "A few missed opportunities let UAE off the hook," Marocchi said. "They scored midway through the second half, which put us under pressure for the last twenty minutes, but the players stood firm and qualified in top place in our group.”
After the gruelling task of playing three games in three days, all eight competing teams then benefited from a days rest. Australia chose to spend the daylight hours conducting coaching clinics for around 400 Thai children. As night fell the squad assembled for a gala Master World Cup dinner at which each nation performed a 'national' song. "Our team sang 'We Come From The Land Down Under' and after hearing them we certainly need an entertainer in our squad next year!" expressed Marocchi.
Last year's finalists, Australia and Thailand, came face-to-face in the semi-finals where Carl McDarby scored the games only goal. "We defended very well as a team in the second half, although muscle injuries to McDarby, Willie Hird and Peter Murphy forced us into making a few more changes and meant they would miss the final the next day," commented Marocchi. "The pitch was very heavy and took it toll the players (but) we played really well as a team and thoroughly deserved the result."
This set-up what should have been a classic final between Australia and the old enemy. England took a 12th minute lead when Ian Simpson's header hit the post and ricocheted into the net off goalkeeper Chris McCrone. Australia worked their way back into the game and was unlucky not to draw level before the break, after which Despotovski, Zmukic, Norrie Sutton and Steve Walker were to come on. Unfortunately, it was then that the heavens opened up and after a persistent half-hour of rain the referee abandoned the game and the teams crowned joint World Cup winners.
Michael Roki is poised to add livewire attacker Johnny Mirco to his playing roster. The Floreat Athena coach has long been a fan of 31-year old Mirco and the two have spent the past few days nutting out an agreement that will see the Cockburn City captain relocate to Litis Stadium. Mirco will be more than an interested spectator when Cockburn host Floreat on Saturday.
The State Schoolboys defeated their Amateur counterparts 4-2 in a friendly at Len Shearer Reserve this evening. The Schoolboys first half dominance was rewarded when Devon Spence found the net, however, the teams went into the break level following Todd Ross' goalkeeping error. The Amateurs took an early second half lead only to concede a trio of late goals by Kynon Melling, Gibson and Jermaine Lewis.
Perth Glory has confirmed a pre-season friendly with Inglewood United at Clipsal Stadium next Tuesday, 16 June. It’s the first of several planned matches against local opposition prior to Glory’s heavyweight clashes against English teams Wolverhampton Wanderers and Fulham in July. Entry to Tuesday’s game, which kicks off at 7.00pm, is by gold coin donation with all proceeds benefiting the Starlight Foundation.
It’s likely to be another fortnight before Ludovic Boi returns to the park for Stirling Lions. An injury cloud has been hovering over the exciting 20-year old since the beginning of May when he picked up a slight knee ligament strain against Inglewood United. Boi has missed Stirling’s last two games and has targeted the round eleven home game with Armadale at make his return.
Promising youngster Josh Risdon has been added to ECU Joondalup's long-term injury list after breaking his ankle late in last week's loss to Swan United. It's a massive setback for the defender who had been in terrific form for his club and was very much in the frame to add to the seven appearances he made for Perth Glory Youth last summer.
SOCCEROOS DO ENOUGH TO SEE OFF BAHRAIN
An under-strength Socceroos have celebrated their second successive World Cup appearance with a hard fought 2-0 win over Bahrain under lights at Stadium Australia in Sydney. The crowd of 39,540 that braved the frosty conditions had to wait until the second half strikes by Mile Sterjovski and David Carney to ensure the Socceroos continued their impressive form in the final stage of qualification. With a ticket to South Africa already booked, Australia’s performance was far from spectacular with coach Pim Verbeek forced to make seven changes from the starting side that drew with Qatar three days earlier.
Brett Holman’s snap on goal from distance after 10 minutes was Australia’s first sight on goal, though Bahraini custodian Sayed Mohammed Jaffer saved comfortably. The best chance of the first half fell to Scott McDonald but after being played in by Holman the striker hurried his shot and blazed high from the edge of the 18-yard box with the goal at his mercy. Bahrain’s looked threatening at set pieces and midway through the half Husain Mohamed’s clever header was parried by Mark Schwarzer. Otherwise it was a fairly tame opening stanza where the home side largely struggled to break down their stubborn opponents.
The home crowd was finally given reason to cheer in the 55thute when Carney launched a brilliant long ball to Harry Kewell, his first time touch found Sterjovski who capitalised on Faouzi Aaish’s poor attempt to clear by volleying in from close-range. Bahrain thought they had equalised shortly after when Abdulla Marzooq headed in from Aaish’s free-kick, however, it wouldn’t stand due to an offside flag. The result was put beyond doubt in the 88th minute through the impressive Carney, who poked in at close-range after Jason Culina’s spectacular bicycle kick came back off the left post.
DUGDALE SETTLES IN THE VALLEY
Newly arrived import Paul Dugdale has enjoyed his first month at Swan United. The 21-year joined Swan fresh from captaining Cardinal Stritch University, who play in the United States college system, where he was tempted into a ten-week spell in Perth by team mate David Perich. "Settling in has been easy, the boys at the club are brilliant. From the first day everyone went out of their way to make me feel welcome and a part of the team," enthused Dugdale. "WA is a great place. I'm situated in Ballajura so I haven't been able to venture around too much, but from what I've seen I've been very impressed, and the weather for winter is not bad either."
Dugdale had a good feeling leading into his home debut on Saturday, when Swan triumphed 4-1 against ECU Joondalup. "I was really confident going into the game, and I think a lot of people underestimate the quality we have at the club,' he said. "The game started off brightly on our part, and once we got the first goal we always looked like we could get a few more. ECU is a tough team and I thought our players did very well keeping their composure after some questionable tackles. It was a good team performance and every man played a part in the victory."
Playing junior and youth team football for English club Burnley gave Dugdale a solid grounding in what it takes to play at the highest level. "From the age of 10 I was in Burnley's youth academy, I spent almost five years there," he explained. "I went on a few tours around Europe with them which was great, but probably the actual signing of my first contract will always be a moment I will remember for the rest of my life." Dugdale would then play a couple of years with Burnley United before a fractured femur put him out of the game for an extended period.
Dugdale's efforts in anchoring the University midfield last season were recognised with a spot in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference's all-star team. "It was a great reward for a good season, so I was extremely pleased," said Dugdale, who scored three times in leading the Wolves to second place on the table. "It is not easy as there are so many teams and players that you are competing with. It was the first time for me as well, I have come close before but never been named."
Since his arrival in Perth Dugdale has been questioned on numerous occasions about how the standard of football in the United States college system compares to that of the State League. "All in all it's quite similar," he said. "We play against better teams over there, but we also play against teams that would not stand a chance in this league. The main factor is fitness, every team (in America) has fifteen or sixteen players who can play 90 minutes at an intense level, and most teams - including ourselves - train everyday which makes a big difference."
Although he returns to the United States in August to complete his studies, Dugdale says Swan have it in them to finish high on the table this year. "Having seen quite a few of the other teams, I really believe Swan can easily push for a top five spot," he said. "I thought the way we played against Western Nights, who are comfortably third, was an indication of where we should be in the league. As long as we can stay injury-free there are a lot of winnable games to come for us in the next few weeks. And hopefully we can carry on our form that has seen us beat some quality teams recently."
GLORY AIMS TO TAP INTO REGIONAL TALENT
Perth Glory Women captain Tanya Oxtoby is spearheading a campaign by Football West to unearth indigenous football talent in remote areas. Oxtoby will travel to Meekatharra in the State's Mid-West this week to conduct a number of children's workshops designed to increase the games popularity in remote communities. "The visits are largely aimed at participation – we're trying to get the number of indigenous kids playing the sport up across the whole country," Oxtoby said. "It's all about promoting the game, making it fun for the kids and getting as many kids as possible involved."
The trip also serves as a way of identifying the brightest young prospects from the area, with some players in line to compete in next month's Indigenous Football Festival in Townsville. Oxtoby said said it was important football keep pace with other major sporting codes in blooding indigenous talent in professional competitions. "You look at sports like AFL, netball and even basketball, and there are a lot of indigenous athletes playing at the top level,” she said. "We're trying to start from the grassroots and really try and push those kids through to the elite competitions like the A-League and the W-League."
RISKING SUSPENSION DOES NOT FAZE COYNE
Defender Chris Coyne has some big decisions to make in the next few weeks - including whether he wants to come home to play in the A-League - but risking a suspension by playing in tomorrow night's World Cup qualifier against Bahrain isn't one of them. Coyne is one of six Socceroos sitting on a yellow card, and coach Pim Verbeek is considering juggling his pack against Bahrain and next week against Japan as any suspensions incurred in qualifiers carry over to the World Cup. For Coyne, however, the decision is a simple one - he's putting up his hand for selection. "I'd love to play in both games," he said yesterday. "Being such a late starter, to sit in the stands when the opportunity is there to play, well I'd rather play. But I'm not the manager, so it's not my decision. Whatever team Pim picks, I'll respect his decision."
Coyne, 30, made his Socceroos debut only a year ago and his progress has been stalled by the return of Craig Moore from a short-lived international retirement. But with Moore missing the latest round of qualifiers, Coyne has grabbed his opportunity with both hands with a standout performance against Qatar on the weekend. "That's all I can keep doing. Because I'm such a late starter, everyone's going to keep asking the same questions. Are you there? Are you going to keep being there? I'll just keep doing what I'm asked by the manager. If that means going out there as left back, right back, centre half, I'll just do whatever's asked of me. As long as I keep enjoying it, I'll keep going. And I'm loving it."
Coyne's club career is at the crossroads after recently stating it might be in his best interests to leave English third tier club Colchester United. And even though Verbeek has said he'd rather players were based abroad leading into the World Cup, Coyne is contemplating a move back to Australia. "You've got Moorey [Craig Moore] here, you've got Jason Culina here, you've got [Jacob] Burns back now. So you've got some high-calibre players who you'd expect to be there or thereabouts in the squad," he said. "I'm open to anything at the moment, including the A-League. Until something's put in front of me, I can't sign anything. But once that happens, I'll make an informed decision, hopefully the best one for my career."
SIKORA IN DOUBT FOR GLAMOUR FRIENDLIES
Former Dutch international Victor Sikora faces a race against time to be fit for Perth Glory's two glamour pre-season fixtures next month. Sikora, 31, had arthroscopic surgery to remove a floating bone fragment from his left knee on Friday and is not expected to be back in training until the end of the month. Although keen to play in the early July fixtures with English clubs Wolverhampton Wanderers and Fulham, the club are likely to err on the side of caution if Sikora is not 100% fit with the game against Gold Coast United in Bunbury late next month a more realistic target.
YOUNG MATILDA'S UNDEFEATED ON TOUR
The Westfield Young Matildas have wrapped up an impressive international tour by defeating a Thailand Select team 1-0 in Bangkok. The result ensured the Australian women's youth team completed their four-game trip abroad without loss, much to the delight of coach Alen Stajcic. "The win is certainly a pleasing way to finish off the tour against a good quality Thai team with a mix of senior and youth players," he said. "The past two weeks have set us up well for our AFC Championship (and World Cup qualifiers) in six weeks time." Perth Glory Women players Marianna Tabain and Samantha Kerr featured in four of tour games with midfielder Ella Mastrantonio playing twice.
Australia commenced their tour with an emphatic 4-1 victory over the Finland Under-19 side courtesy of goals from Marianna Tabain, Tameka Butt, Jessica Seaman and Nicola Bolger. The sides met again two days later with Australia this time recording a 7-0 win with Angela Fimmano (3), debutant Nicola Sykes (3) and Nicola Bolger finding the net. An own goal followed by finishes from Kyah Simon and Nicola Bolger secured Australia a 3-0 victory against the German Under-19 team. Angelo Fimmano's neat 55th minute header was all that separated Australia and Thailand at the Rajamangala Stadium on Saturday.
MAGDIC AT THE DOUBLE AS FLOREAT GO TOP (by Peter Simcox)
Floreat Athena moved to the top of the Premier League table after a 3-2 win against Perth SC at Dorrien Gardens. Midfielder Josip Magdic was the star of the show with a goal in each half that came either side of Branimir Mikulic’s fifth of the season. “We’ve been planning for this game for a while now and we knew it was very important for the rest of the season to establish ourselves at the top of the table,” Magdic said following the final whistle. “We stuck to our game plan, and we had a number of players missing today but we all stood up and we deserved the victory.”
The early running came from Floreat who deservedly opened their account after 5 minutes when Magdic crashed the ball in at close-range after starting the move that allowed Brad Scott to get down the left and sent in his cross. Perth twice went close to an almost immediately reply but Dom de Felice was thwarted by the quick thinking of Vas Vujacic, and James Isaia robbed Ian McMurray of a chance from Todd Howarth’s delivery. With 19 minutes gone Floreat doubled their lead as Dean Apelgren pumped a free-kick into the 18-yard box where Mikulic pounced on some hesitation between Simon Madaschi and Trent Kay to head in.
Again Perth quickly went looking for an answer and a rare Apelgren error provided an opening for McMurray but before the big striker could shot Jovo Pavlovic had got back to clear the danger. Both sides had chances as the game went from end to end. Scott’s first time shot whistled past the post with Madaschi beaten, and moments later Vas Vujacic read play well to prevent McMurray from shooting. Floreat then had two penalty claims turned down by referee Ton Klaver as they attempted to turn the screws. And their frustration was compounded on 37 minutes when Gary Greenhill’s perfectly weighted pass allowed Phil Arnold to beat the last defender and clinically finish past Vas Vujacic.
The introduction of Greg Sharland at the break breathed new life into the home team. But it was Floreat who struck on 53 minutes, Jason Barrera finding Scott who beat his man to send in a cross which Magdic headed in from 5-metres. With the game running away from them, Perth lifted the tempo and on the hour Onoforo missed the target from point blank range. Vas Vujacic made important saves from McMurray and Arnold while cleared Trent Kay’s header off the line. Arnold set-up a grandstand finish by fired in at close-range from a Sharland’s cross in the 88th minute. The game was in stoppage time when Perth nearly snatched a point but McMurray headed just side at an Antonio Naglieri cross.
SOCCEROOS QUALIFY FOR WORLD CUP FINALS
Australia became the second team to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa after holding Qatar to a 0-0 draw at the Al Sadd Club in Doha overnight. Needing only a point to seal qualification, the Socceroos did what was required against a youthful Qatar side to ensure back-to-back World Cup appearances for the first time. “It’s amazing, it hasn’t sunk in yet,” captain Lucas Neill said after the match. “But it’s an unbelievable achievement. To be the second or third team into the World Cup is truly an honour. I’m so proud we’ve created some history for the country and we can sit back now and see who’s going to join us.”
Both sides made a tentative start in front of a small but vocal crowd, with the Socceroos content to keep possession in the hot and humid conditions. Qatar striker Sebastian Soria Quintana looked the most likely to score and had several chances before the Socceroos muscled their way on top. Tim Cahill struck the post with a spectacular bicycle kick in the 27th minute, but it’s unlikely the goal would have stood anyway with the referee signalling for a foul. Josh Kennedy impressed in a lone striking role while Harry Kewell became increasingly menacing after switching to the right wing, going close to scoring himself before creating another move which led to Vince Grella firing a volley just over the bar in the 33rd minute.
Australia stepped up their game early in the second half with a rash of chances in a ten minute period. Chris Coyne had a shot cleared off the line after attempting to turn in a headed Cahill effort. In the 57th minute Cahill was denied another stunner when his powerful drive was brilliantly saved by Qasem Burhan. The ‘keeper was called into action again to tip over a Kennedy shot from out wide and once more in the 63rd minute when Kewell hit a rocket with his right foot. The Socceroos looked increasingly threatening but did not get the goal they perhaps deserved, and in the end it mattered little anyway as Pim Verbeek’s men clinching qualification with two qualifying rounds to matches yet to be played.
GLORY RECRUIT JELIC FACES DELAY OVER PAPERWORK
Branko Jelic could be prevented from joining his new Perth Glory team mates for a month because of a bureaucratic hold-up with his visa. The Serbian striker has returned to his homeland after completing his commitments with German Bundesliga club Energie Cottbus but won’t arrive in Perth for at least another three weeks due to new visa regulations. “There’s more of an arduous paperwork process now and there’s police clearances to be gotten from each of those locations that he’s lived in the last ten years,” Glory deputy chairman Lui Giuliani said. “We’ll keep working on it. It’s definitely a lengthy process, players with a UK passport are a lot easier.”
KNIGHTS CONTINUE WINNING WAYS (by James Wragg, Football West)
Western Knights moved to within two points of top spot after grinding out a 2-1 win against lowly Armadale at Alfred Skeet Oval. It may not have been the most attractive of games but goals by Anthony Campbell and David Annall were enough to condemn Armadale to another home loss and leave them stuck at the foot of the table. The first half was a tale of poor passing and wasted opportunities with set pieces proving the best avenue to goal for both teams. Armadale threatened first through an in-swinging Mo Atak corner which Frazer Siddall punched to safety before any head could get on the end of it. The Knights posted their first on 24 minutes when Daniel Micevski’s cross from the right was missed by Duuane Hepburn before falling at the back post for Anthony Campbell to head in. The ever-dangerous David Micevski nearly doubled their lead in stoppage time when his ferocious free-kick was tipped over the crossbar by Kenny Fytnogiannis. That brought to a close a first half in which Armadale failed to register a shot on target.
There was a little more goalmouth action in the second half with David Micevski and Mo Atak both going close with free-kicks and Stanford Hepburn’s powerful shot fizzling past the post. The Knights lead was doubled on 71 minutes via a text book corner by David Micevski that landed on the head of the unmarked Annall, who rocketed the ball into the roof of the net. Armadale had no choice now but to push up the park if they had any intension of salvaging something from the afternoon. This left them vulnerable at the back and in the final quarter hour Stanford Hepburn, David Micevski, Campbell and Barry Devlin each had good opportunities to put the gloss on an unconvincing performance, without success. Gary Faria brought some respectability to the scoreline when, in the 87th minute, he popped up to head in a Gary Bunting corner. This gave the Reds a new lease on life and in the time remaining final minutes they toiled hard to snatch a late equaliser, however, the Knights were in no mood to give the game away and hold on to claim their fifth successive league victory.
LATE SHOW STEALS SORRENTO A POINT (by Chris Leitch, Football West)
Sorrento staged a dramatic comeback by scoring twice in the final few minutes to grab a 2-2 draw with Mandurah City at Hyundai Stadium. Mandurah looked to have the game in the bag with just six minutes to go courtesy of first half goals by Craig Young and Chris Currie, however, they would be left kicking themselves as Danny Hill then Steve McDonald found the net to level the score. Billy Russell, acting coach of Mandurah, said he was pleased with the way his team shut Sorrento out of the majority of the game but he clearly found it hard to look past the result. “It’s really bad, in fact we’re devastated, we were two-nil up,” he said. “We started to sit deep and invite pressure, and with their aerial strength we just invited them in. Credit to them, they never gave up, but we flung it away for sure.”
Both sides had an unfamiliar face in goals - Mandurah recalling veteran Mike Green to replace Phil Straker, who was sent off last week, while Cyril Sharrock stepped into the Sorrento line-up for the first time. While Green had an uneventful first half, Sharrock found himself constantly interrogated by Phil O’Callaghan and Young along with Mandurah captain Andy Brown. Their opening goal arrived after 21 minutes when Ryan Townsend helped on a long throw-in that Young headed in from close-range. Brown was unlucky not to add their second with a vicious shot from not far inside the halfway line that skimmed the playing surface before flashing just wide. It was through a similar effort in the 39th minute that Chris Currie scored Mandurah’s second, the youngster’s shot from outside the 18-yard box coming to rest in the bottom corner after evading Sharrock.
Sorrento took the intensity up a notch for the second half with Daniel Darras, Glen Thomas and Michael Ord leading the way from the middle of the park. But as the visitors pushed for an elusive goal they often left themselves vulnerable at the back and if not for a couple of superb saves from Sharrock to deny Young and O’Callaghan the game would have been over. As the shadows grew longer, Sorrento looked increasingly likely to score. Danny Cain forced Green into a one-handed save and Darras was unlucky with a firm header that was accidentally blocked by team mate Tood Harnwell. Hill changed the game in the 84th minute when he caught Mandurah’s defence by surprise by connecting with a long-range shot to reel in the gap. Hill turned provider soon after with a cross from the left that McDonald nodded into the net and rob the hosts of what only a few minute earlier seemed an certain victory.
PERICH STARS AS SWAN CLIMB (by Peter Simcox)
Swan United leapt up to sixth on a congested Premier League table by out-gunning ECU Joondalup 4-1 on a sunny afternoon at the Swan Italian Club. Midfielder David Perich marked his first home appearance since returning from the United States with a brace to compliment David McNally’s first ever goal for the club and a header just before the interval from Swan veteran Damien Scali. “I’ve got a habit of scoring goals against ECU, I scored two against them last season,” commented Perich after the game. “We used the space down the flanks to our advantage, and the formation we had worked well. I thought we played some good football today and deserved the win.”
Cory Hugo became the first goalkeeper called into action when he saved Scott Blackmore’s curling free-kick from 18-metres at the near post. Less than a minute later Swan thought they had the lead as Shane Webb’s cross from the right was headed in by Scali, whose effort was disallowed for offside. Swan’s dominance should have been rewarded on 7 minutes but Perich fired into the side netting after pouncing on Josh Risdon’s hesitation. That miss was forgotten four minutes later when Brendan Knox spread the ball wide to Webb, his over-hit cross was retrieved by Perich who cut past Risdon before rifling in from the edge of the 18-yard box. Joondalup’s hope of a quick reply were snuffed out by Paul Dugdale, who thwarted Tommy Amphlett as he lined up the target.
The gap was increased to two goals in the 19th minute, McNally despatching the ball into the net at close-range after Joondalup were caught at sea by Dugdale’s in-swinging corner. This opened things up and chances began to present with greater frequency, Jamie Watt placed wide when well placed for Joondalup before Scali nodded a cross past the frame of the goal. The visitors put themselves back in the game on 28 minutes through a quick break orchestrated by Watt when he found Tommy Amphlett who held off two defenders to finish Hugo. Play continued to flow from one end to the other with further chances for both teams. Scali swung the balance back in Swan’s favour by heading in unmarked from 5-metres after being picked out by Dugdale’s superb free-kick in the 42nd minute.
Scali’s day was abruptly ended by injury a couple of minutes into the second half, leading to Swan debut for Australian youth striker Million Butshiire. A lift in Joondalup’s tempo resulted in a chance for Daniel Allen whose snap shot from Watt’s delivery was just wide. Jon Higgins played a great ball to substitute Ryan Williams, he skipped away from McNally but was unable to get the better of Hugo, who saved the youngster’s low shot. This was by far the best spell of the afternoon for the visitors. In the 65th minute Tommy Amphlett went past a trio of opponents but a poor last touch robbed him of a goal scoring opportunity. Williams then crossed for Garin Collins to head past the ‘keeper only for it to crash back off the crossbar with McNally clearing the rebound.
Play was all one-way as Joondalup’s quest for goals resulted in three consecutive corners, however, it was going to take something special to crack open a home defence under the command of McNally and captain Aaron Cole. As the visitors committed plight became increasingly desperate, holes started to appear in their defences and on 72 minutes Brendan Craig played through to Butshiire, his shot beat Jones only to rebound back off the base of the post with Perich pouncing to put away Swans fourth and final goal. The hosts could have had a few more but Craig’s cross from the left was just out of Butshiire’s reach while Knox slid his stoppage time shot narrowly wide after being played in by substitute Christian Lopez.
VAN DONGEN DRIVES CANNING HOME (by Michael Bate, Football West)
A quick fire double by captain Paul Van Dongen has led Canning City to a comfortable 4-2 victory against Inglewood United at Clipsal Stadium. Van Dongen netted twice and Paul Oliver once inside twenty minutes to put the visitors in the driving seat. However, Inglewood worked their way back into the game through Daniel Kovacevic and Albert Osei-Tutu before Greg Newcombe’s second half striker sealed an away win. “The last couple of weeks we’ve come in at half-time in front and then we’ve ended up not taking the points,” said Canning coach Alan Hind, who warned his side against complacency. “We had a chat about focusing on our defensive play and the boys responded. Inglewood still had a couple of chances but I think once we got the fourth goal we killed the game off.”
The game’s first shot gave Canning a 5th minute lead, Oliver unleashing an unstoppable shot past Oliver Taseski after seizing on a poor clearance to the top of the 18-yard box. Things quickly went from bad to disastrous for Inglewood as Van Dongen piled on two goals in three minutes, both simple one-on-ones as a result of great through balls from Roberto Lujan and then Oliver. Van Dongen would have completed a hat-trick just three minutes after his second goal but for Taseski’s flying save. Canning’s pace up front was causing the home rearguard all sorts of problems and it looked like only a matter of time before they scored a fourth. To their credit, Inglewood refused to give up and in the 37th minute Daniel Kovacevic stabbed the ball in after Kevin Griffiths’ had flicked on a Jason Colli corner. And four minutes later Alex Stamatiadis unselfishly squared for Osei-Tutu to fire their second past Devon Spence.
Canning had to wait until the 69th minute before making the point safe through another precision pass, this from Van Dongen, which Newcombe latched onto before tucking away an easy chance. Inglewood did have a few chances to get back into the game but on each occasion found Spence an irresistible force between the posts. Mladen Kovacevic should have done better when he found himself free inside the area but his shot was simply too close to the ‘keeper. Dannie Richman was faced with only the ‘keeper after playing a sharp one-two with Rory Grant but the substitute fired his shot straight at Spence. Michael Baczynski almost clawed one back for the home side right at the death only to see his powerful long-range strike also kept out by Spence.
STIRLING YOUNGSTERS DELIVER THE GOODS (with Tim Lefort, Football West)
It took them eight games to do it but when Stirling Lions recorded their first league win of the season, they did so in grand style, thumping Cockburn City 4-0 at Macedonia Park. It was a particularly satisfying afternoon for Jamie De Abreu who netted twice against his former club, with Jordan Rhodes and Dean Evans also getting their names on the scoresheet. Stitling boss Mike Lyons credited the turnaround in the form of his side over the past two or three weeks to a lift in confidence among his players. “We’ve got a greater belief in ourselves,” he said. “We seem to have more energy on the pitch at the moment I think. We also played a lot of very good teams at the start of the season. But now we’re down near the bottom and we’re playing a few teams around us at the moment so hopefully we can pick up a few points.”
In a lacklustre opening, it was the visitors who went closest early on with Aaron Dos Santos stretching to fired high from 7-metres after goalkeeper Dino Pacella spilled a Johnny Mirco cross from the left. Johnny Mirco then magically weaved his way between three players to go inside the 18-yard box but drove his low across the face of goal. Stirling had another let-off in the 20th minute when Jason Dos Santos brushed aside Steven Hesketh only to slice his effort wide of the near post. Hesketh was soon in action at the other end, teeing up Jason Mirco for a shot that wasn’t far away. So it was again the run of play that Stirling went ahead on 37 minutes when De Abreu got in behind Ryan Pretorius to hit a low centre which fell nicely for Rhodes to drilled in from 9-metres. The visitors might have levelled immediately but Aaron Dos Santos fired agonisingly wide, and leading into the break Pacella smothered bravely at the feet of Paul Natale.
Stirling came out blazing after the break and only the width of the crossbar denied De Abreu, who soon had a strong penalty claim ignored after going down under a Pretorious challenge. The youngsters hard work was rewarded in the 55th minute when Evans’ superbly played him past the defence and De Abreu showed great composure in side-stepping Nick Feely and slotting in from a tight angle. Lyons’ team were well on top and just after the hour De Abreu rolled the ball just wide after wriggling free of his marker. Tom Kennedy won possession in the 66th minute and from the left picked out De Abreu, he rolled the ball across to Evans who gave Feely no chance with a stunning effort from the edge of the area. The home fans were still celebrating when De Abreu clinically put away their fourth after being sent through by Kennedy. Stirling’s thirst for more goals saw Kennedy scooped a shot into the arms of Feely, while Keith Clevenger side-footed just wide minutes after coming off the bench.
THREE MORE POINTS TAKES DIANELLA TO SECOND
A captain’s knock by Dragan Njegic has earned Dianella White Eagles a 3-2 win from today’s encounter with Rockingham City at Dianella Reserve. Two goals in the first half hour from Njegic came before substitute Jon Greenwood secured all three points for the hosts, who move into second place behind First Division pacesetters Wanneroo City. Only a couple of minutes had elapsed when Njegic made his mark by pushing the ball over the line during a goal mouth scramble resulting from Wes Ryder’s free-kick on top of the 18-yard box. Rockingham wasted no time in opening their search for the equalising goal which arrived after 18 minutes when Andrew Keary’s pinpoint cross was put away by Rob Clackett. Spurred on by a vocal home crowd, there were several near misses for Dianella before Ryder launched a long throw-in which Njegic powerfully headed in. The teams could have gone into the break on level terms had Clackett and later Craig McCreery not been let down by poor first touches.
A moment of pure brilliance by Rodrigo Aguirre almost lead to him bagging the hosts third early in the second half but a diving Craig Olejnik paddled the ball away. The game was effectively over as a contest in the 52nd minute when Greenwood converted from the penalty spot after Peter Kuzet was deemed to have handled inside the area. Dianella were now in full flight and Ryder cut in from the right only to have his rising shot to clear the crossbar. There were very few chances created by Rockingham after the break as Goran Radinovic and Pavle Kuvekalovic dealt comfortably with their opponents reliance on playing a long ball game. That said, Justin Scarvaci was at full-stretch in tipping around the post Keary’s explosive free-kick from just outside the area. Greenwood timed his run to perfection to get on the end of a Ryder pass but the striker’s shot was too close to Olejnik. There were only minutes left when Richard Lacey grabbed Rockingham’s late consolation by whipping in the loose ball after Scarvaci parried Keary’s free-kick.
BALCATTA BEATS QUEENS PARK IN FOURTEEN GOAL FEST
Queens Park had nothing to show for five goals as they went down 9-5 to Balcatta in a goalfest at Graham Burkett Reserve. The steady stream of goals started after only 5 minutes when Luke O'Neill whipped in a corner which cannoned into the net off a defender. Kailo Karpeh restored parity soon after when his speculative shot was fumbled by goalkeeper Drazen Saric and fell into the net. By the 10th minute Balcatta were back in front through a superb curling shot into the top corner from 25-metres by Bobby Klenkoski. Joseph Wilmoja equalised and a minute later Karpeh converted a one-on-one with Saric to put Queens Park in the lead. The sixth goal of a seesawing game after after 24 minutes when Klenkoski drove forward fire to the left of goalkeeper Keegan Savage. Balcatta held a four-three advantage at the break after Andy O'Neill's 43rd minute corner came off several Queens Park players to rest in the net.
The second half had been under way nine minutes when Karpeh cut in from the left to hit a scorching drive across Saric and inside the far post. Two minutes later Klenkoski completed also his hat-trick after being player through with only the 'keeper to beat. Remarkably, it was five-all in the 65th minute when Karpeh out-foxed a couple of opponents then cut the ball back for Joshua Gowland to blast in from 15-metres. It wasn't until Julian Piromalli stroked in after a good build-up down the right in the 78th minute that Balcatta took control. The next few minutes saw Ashley Rosendale score from a narrowing angle, then Luke O'Neill came out on top of a one-on-one with the 'keeper. Balcatta's ninth and final goal arrived with two minutes left on the clock as another good passage down the right ended with Joe Woodin shooting into the net from Rosendale's centre.
UNDER-STRENGTH BAYSWATER TOPPLE PHOENIX
Bayswater City defeated South West Phoenix 2-0 in a game of two very different halves at Frank Drago Reserve. Phoenix would be left to rue their inability to capitalise on a commanding first half performance as Bayswater - who were without four regulars - rebounded after the break with goals from Morgan Dendle and Cesar Gonzales to secure a well-deserved three points. The visitors took their time to settle but eventually gained the upper hand with David Murphy and Patrick Quinn seemingly having the ball on a string. Rory Binnie flashed a powerful drive just wide from 14-metres, and soon after the same player should have done better than redirect a cross from Quinn past the target. The half closed with Gianni Papalia coming quickly off his line to block a Steve Suttie shot with his legs.
Bayswater emerged for the second half a much different proposition, Dendle, Frisina and Paul Hickey teaming up to tame what had been until now a very productive Phoenix midfield. The deadlock was broken on 52 minutes via a smooth counter attack that Dendle finished with a shot low from close to the penalty spot. Bayswater almost added a quick second but Frisina’s stunning long-range volley was well saved by Jamie Oakey. However, it wasn’t too long before Bayswater’s supporters were again celebrating as Gonzalez tapped in during a goal mouth scramble resulting from a poor defender corner. Phoenix pushed on but never really looked like scoring, whereas Bayswater would have had a few more on the board had Ahmed Hafez and Hickey been able to make the most of a couple of late chances.
SPIRITED FREMANTLE TAKE THE POINTS
Fremantle Spirit scored their fifth win of the season by out-gunning Morley Windmills 2-1 at Wotton Reserve. The result pushes the port side up to sixth on a congested First Division table as Morley’s fourth league loss in a row slips them down to eighth. Fremantle were quick to assert control over proceedings with some tidy movement of the ball which was putting them regularly in behind the home defence. With 21 minutes played Fremantle deservedly took the lead, Cisco Jorquiera’s neatly danced past a couple of opponents inside the 18-yard box before slotting past an exposed goalkeeper Aaron Holloway. It took only three minutes for Fremantle to increase their advantage with Allan Carroll rising high loop a header into the top corner from Adrian McBride’s delivery. Half-time was nearing when Martin Sherwin put Morley back in the game with a glancing header into the bottom corner from Mitch Castilli’s quality cross.
Morley returned for the second half with a renewed sense of purpose and greater composure. Castrilli and Phil Clarke were proving particularly effective down their respective flanks and causing much distress for Fremantle’s back four. Fremantle eventually found their feet again with some promising breaks on the counter attack. Their best hance to secure the points came through McBride whose shot from the top of the area crashed against the upright. Morley was also creating chances and should consider themselves unfortunate not to net a goalmouth scramble before young ‘keeper Dane McBride smothered the ball. A pulsating final ten minutes had the ball travel from one end to the other as Morley sought an equaliser, and Fremantle a way to kill the game off. But neither team could find the goal they wanted before referee Peter Chapman, who allowed the game to flow and used commonsense in his decision making, signalled three valuable points for Fremantle.
QUALIFY, THEN YOU CAN TALK ABOUT STYLE SAYS LAZARIDIS
Critics is Australia’s style of play during the qualifying journey to next year’s World Cup should remember the ghost of Iran, former Socceroo Stan Lazaridis said. Despite a record of four wins and one draw, with no goals conceded, Australia’s defensive approach under Dutch coach Pim Verbeek has come under criticism from pundits. Socceroos Tim Cahill and Harry Kewell condemned the critics last week and now Lazaridis, who helped Australia qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, has weighed into the debate by backing his former team mates stance.
A draw in Qatar will be enough secure Australia’s place at next year’s extravaganza in South Africa and Lazaridis says that is all that matters right now. “I don’t care how they do it, even of they put nine men behind the ball and Pim wants to be in goal with them,” said Lazaridis, who is still haunted by the memory of Australia’s loss to Iran eight years ago which knocked them out of contention. “Against Iran in 1997 we must’ve had 99 chances. Aurelio Vidmar missed a few, Mark Viduka missed a few, Harry Kewell missed a few. It was one of the most attacking sides we’ve ever had and we didn’t make it.”
During the failed attempt to qualify for France 1998, the Socceroos did not lose a game but that infamous 2-2 draw at the Melbourne Cricket Ground sent Australia crashing out on away goals. “Get the point,” stressed Lazaridis. “Get the money in the bank. Get the boys’ tickets booked. Get Josh Kennedy the extra leg room with an exit seat on the flight to South Africa. Get the hotel sorted. Find out what group we’re in and then worry about the style of play. How they play in South Africa will depend on the group they’re in anyways because they’ll be playing a different way against different teams.”
THE PREMIER LEAGUE IN PREVIEW
The football community is sure to come out in numbers for the top of the table clash between Perth SC and Floreat Athena at Dorrien Gardens on Sunday (3.00pm). Perth head into the game with a 100% home record and coach Graham Normanton is hopeful of extending that run. “I always look forward to the big games, and Sunday is no exception. We have played some good football this season and we plan to continue where we left off at ECU Joondalup last week,” he said. “We’ve had a good rivalry with Floreat over the last few years and I expect there’ll be a big crowd on hand to watch it.”
Floreat make the short trip to visit their neighbours knowing a win will catapult them into first place on the Premier League table. “Obviously, I would prefer to be playing better leading up to this match and hopefully we get it right on Sunday,” said coach Michael Roki. “The fact that we will be playing for top spot is an added incentive. Perth is always difficult to beat at home so it should be an interesting match to say the least.” Josip Magdic, Callum Roberts and James Sammut have been added to the squad after missing last week’s Cup round.
It’ll be a Western Knights side brimful of confidence that heads to Alfred Skeet Oval to take on Armadale (3.00pm). Anthony Campbell and Mario Marcinko are sure to cause more than a few problems for the home defence while at the other end of the park it’s going to take something special to breech a backline marshalled by Stuart Ferguson and David Annall. The home team is likely to hand new signing Kenny Ftynohiannis his debut and have their fingers crossed James Robinson’s clearance comes through in time.
A hasty return to the winner’s circle is Mandurah City’s objective for their encounter with Sorrento at Hyundai Stadium (3.00pm). Pivotal roles await Andy Brown and Hayden Doyle across the middle of the park for the Dolphins, who go into the afternoon without goalkeeper Phil Straker due to suspension. Things are slowly falling into place for Sorrento, striker Stuart Montgomery is available again after injury while Cyril Sharrock will make his debut in goal following his transfer from Armadale.
Swan United has home ground advantage against ECU Joondalup in an important game for both teams at Francis Street (3.00pm). New English import Paul Dugdale and Australian youth international Million Butshiire are in the running for to make their home debuts for Swan, who’ll be minus defender Stephen Guest (suspension). Joondalup are hopeful influential defender Charlie Comyn-Platt will recover from injury in time to take his place in a line-up missing Scott Bushby (overseas) and Greg Josling (suspension).
Canning City heads to Clipsal Stadium where Inglewood United (3.00pm) has home ground advantage. This is a must win game for both teams, who are separated on the table by just a couple of points. Inglewood welcome Michael Baczynski back from injury while Dannie Richman is also available after time off with the flu. Paul Oliver is pushing for a return to Canning’s first eleven which features promising young goalkeeper Devon Spence and import striker Michael Roger.
Stirling Lions continue to search for an elusive first win when they host Cockburn City at Macedonia Park (3.00pm). Goalkeeper Dino Pacella comes face-to-face with former team mates in a Stirling side bristling with talent such as Dean Evans, Jason Mirco, Chris Harlond and Jordan Rhodes. Cockburn have slipped down the table over recent weeks but will look to Johnny Mirco and Jason Dos Santos to put pressure on the home defence as Adam Surjan and Cameron Edwards continue to impress.
THE FIRST DIVISION IN PREVIEW
South West Phoenix have their sights set on another three points when they travel to Bayswater City for the match of the First Division round. “We can’t afford to drop more than a game behind Wanneroo City, we have them the following week and don’t want to be almost two games behind going into that match,” said Phoenix striker Steve Suttie. “We won at Bayswater last year and drew in 2007, so while we see it as possibly the toughest away trip there is it holds good memories for us and we will take confidence into the match.”
Wotton Reserve hosts an important mid-table battle between Morley Windmills and Fremantle Spirit, who are locked together with four wins and three losses. For Fremantle it’s the beginning of a difficult run of games. “In the next few weeks we play Morley, Bayswater City, Wanneroo City and South West Phoenix, it’s going to be a month that shapes our season and we’ll look to put in a positive performance this Saturday,” said former Australian youth international and now Fremantle coach Marc Wingell.
The pressure on Ashfield coach John Castrilli is unlikely to ease when they host top of the table Wanneroo City, who have collected maximum points from their last six games. Dianella White Eagles are expected to stretch their unbeaten run at home to Rockingham City, likewise fourth-placed Balcatta who welcome Queens Park to Graham Burkett Reserve. Eastern corridor neighbours Gosnells City and Forrestfield United meet in an interesting mid-table showdown at Walter Padbury Reserve where there’s more than just bragging rights on offer.
COYNE SET TO PARTNER NEILL IN SOCCEROOS DEFENCE
Chris Coyne's club career has stalled, but the experienced defender's World Cup ambitions are poised to receive a timely boost at the expense of close friend Craig Moore. On the evidence of training sessions at the Socceroos' Dubai training camp, Coyne seems to have the inside running to partner captain Lucas Neill in the heart of Australia's defence in Sunday's World Cup qualifier against Qatar. Moore was omitted from the Australian squad due to a lack of game time brought on by his club's A-League commitments finishing in February, and with Denmark-based Michael Beauchamp injured the door has opened for 30-year old Coyne to receive another opportunity.
Perth-raised Coyne emerged as a genuine Socceroo option following Moore's decision to retire from international football in February last year. But when Moore changed his mind eight months later and earned an immediate recall in the Socceroos' thrashing of Qatar last October, it was Coyne who made way. Now the wheel has again turned, with Moore watching from the sidelines as the Colchester United centre-back helps marshal Australia's defence. "It hasn't really affected me because Craig and I just get on with it and let the manager pick his team," Coyne said. "Craig is also such a good pro, and such a good player, so it's not been hard while I've been out in that regard."
But Coyne knows his World Cup hopes could yet be derailed by his lack of football at club level. "It's probably in my best interests to move on now. Whether it's coming back home, playing in Asia or continuing in Europe ... it's something that needs addressing," said Coyne, who confirmed Colchester are happy to terminate his contract, which still has another two-years to run, by mutual consent. "A new manager (Paul Lambert) comes in with new ideas, and he wants new players. The fact that I was going away regularly with the Australian camps was also an issue. It's something that might have been of detriment to the club, but it's not something that I would have swapped for anything."
KNIGHTS BEST IS STILL TO COME : SIDDALL
Western Knights supporters are yet to see the best of their team this season according to former Jersey Under-21 goalkeeper Frazer Siddall. Signed during the summer from Wanneroo City, Siddall feels strongly that the Knights early season success is just the tip of the iceberg. "The team has been performing very well, although we are still learning how to get the best from each other and I feel we can raise it a level or two," said Siddall. "We are an exciting team with diverse football backgrounds and some great skills, speed and an ethic to win ... we've shown that we are capable of some great performances and results."
Saturday's Cup defeat of First Division Balcatta coupled with a single loss in seven league outings has the Knights on course to achieve their seasons objective of claiming silverware. "Our goal is to take every game as it comes, to play well and to win each one - we want to win everything we possibly can," Siddall said. "I think this is very achievable. We have a great squad and everyone around the club has that hunger and desire which helps a good team become better. There is a great atmosphere at the club, with strong support for success from the president down."
Siddall says the influence of coach Paul Price, who played professionally for Luton Town and Tottenham Hotspur, and his assistant Tony Castiello should not be discounted when evaluating the Knights early successes. "Paul has a great knowledge of the game, he's good at breaking the game down and working on the areas that we as a team need to improve," commented Siddall. "Being coached by people who have played at the highest level is very beneficial, everything is done to the highest level and the knowledge these guys can share from their playing days is invaluable."
Born in England, Siddall kicked his first football on the Isle of Man as a 4-year old but it was while living on the Channel Island of Jersey where much of his junior development took place. He made his senior debut at the age of 15 for Jersey Premier League side Rozel Rovers and three years later accepted an athletic scholarship at University in Orlando, Florida, where he'd play four successful years for Rollins College and captained in 2007. And it was during this period that Siddall represented Great Britain at the 2007 World University Games in Bangkok.
Siddall arrived in Perth from the United States just prior to the start of the 2008 season in which he played for First Division side Wanneroo. "I really enjoyed my season with them. It was unfortunate we just missed out on promotion last year, but it's really good to see how well they are doing so far this season," said the 'keeper. "As a player you want to play the best you can at the best level and I'm grateful to the Knights for giving me that chance. I feel I've been performing well and helping repay the club's confidence in me."
Every player is his own worst critic but Siddall has been pleased with is contributions so far this season. "I feel I've been performing well, my concentration levels have been good and this has helped my handling and judgment … and my kicking has also been helpful to the team," commented Siddall, who stands behind the tightest defence in the Premier League. "I think having a strong defensive line doesn't necessarily make a goalkeeper's job easier. It may give you less to do, but as a goalkeeper to be standing around for 80 minutes of the game with little to do and then suddenly be called into action is extremely hard."
The Knights this weekend head to Alfred Skeet Oval where they meet an Armadale side that has collected just three points from their first seven games. And while pundits are tipping a big win for the visitors, Siddall says the Knights won’t be underestimating the second-from-bottom Reds, who formally parted company with 'keeper Cyril Sharrock during the week. "People might think this will be an easy game for us but no game in football is ever easy," stated Siddall. "I think it will be a challenging and physical game but we should have the advantage technically and fitness-wise to edge past Armadale."
COLE CHERISHES LEADERSHIP ROLE
The return to form of club captain Aaron Cole is the inspiration behind Swan United's steady climb up the Premier League table. The towering defender battled injury last term but, now back to full fitness, he's again enjoying not only his football but also the leadership role to which he bas been entrusted. "The body is good this year and I'm enjoying working the younger players in the squad," said 28-year old Cole. "They give me a great deal of respect and I'm very happy to help them, in fact I'm looking forward to playing on again next year."
The year started badly for Swan, whose failure to win in five Night Series outings had many tipping them for relegation. However, Paul Lincoln's astute recruitment campaign has started to bare fruit in the form of back-to-back wins against top five contender Mandurah City and reigning champions Sorrento. "Our squad was a little bare at the start of the season. We've worked hard, players have got over injuries and become fitter and the squad numbers have increased therefore meaning greater competition for spots, which is all good for the club," Cole commented.
Amongst those youngsters who've made an impression at senior level are Shane Webb, 17, and Brendan Craig, 19, while currently waiting in the wings is Australia Under-17 striker Million Butshiire. "The squad is very young, but Linc's has always said if they're good enough it doesn't matter how old they are," Cole said. "Shane and Brendan have been in the top three or four players every week and I hope they continue to do so. Million has trained well and is very close to his debut, which will be exciting to watch."
The decision to award Cole, a former State team player and winner of the 1999 Gold Medal, the captains armband was a 'no brainer' for Swan coach Lincoln. "Aaron to me is the best defender in the State League and I had no hesitation in making him the captain," said the Swan boss. "He was outstanding at the Knights in our last game was voted best on ground for us. His performances on match days are consistently very good, while off the park Aaron is well respected and his generosity is endless."
Swan has home ground advantage on Saturday against ECU Joondalup, who claimed a 2-0 victory when the sides met in the pre-season Night Series. A lot has changed at both clubs since February's game with Cole hoping the black and whites can continue to build on their recent success. "The game will be close and, given the past, they have all been entertaining games," Cole said. "If we play like we have in the past three weeks I feel confident it'll be a home win."
LEAGUE AND CUP GLORY CAN BE OURS SAYS PERTH’S KAY
Perth SC's sensational start to the season has delighted everyone associated with the club says defender Trent Kay. The Blues are riding the crest of a wave at the moment, unbeaten in fourteen games to sit top of the league after seven rounds and through to the last eight of the Cup. "All the boys are delighted ... we know that if we can keep playing to the quality that we have been then we can win the Premier League and the Cup, I think we have made that statement through our performances to date this season," commented Kay.
It was expected Gianfranco Circati, Craig Simpson and Kay would occupy Perth's three defensive spots this season, however, competition has been red-hot in a side overflowing with talent. "There's huge competition this year for any spot in the team, and especially so in midfield. Todd Howarth, Matt Danskin and Gary Greenhill have been doing a great job in midfield but all are also capable of slotting into our back line," Kay said. "You can't go wrong by having such a high level of versatility within the squad."
Kay has played every minute of Perth's last fourteen games and, perhaps not surprisingly, is pleased with the contributions he's made. "I've been reasonably happy with my performances so far. It would be nice to keep a few more goals out of the back of the net, but that's something we need to work on and improve as a unit," commented Kay, scorer of the winning goal in the Night Series Final against Floreat Athena. "I just hope I can stay fit and injury-free for the whole season so I keep on contributing to the team."
A fortnight ago Perth pulled off the great escape by coming from behind with a few late goals to win 3-2 at Mandurah City. Kay says he and his team mates are ready for all-comers as pressure is increasingly applied by rival clubs wanting to be the one that ends Perth's unbeaten run. "Mandurah was not so much a wake-up call because we know every game is going to be a battle this season," he said. "Every single team in the league wants to knock us off the top of the ladder so to make sure that doesn't happen we have to be prepared week in, week out."
Perth's next outing is on Sunday when inner-city neighbours Floreat call by Dorrien Gardens. "Games against Floreat are always tough matches, being long-time rivals both teams want to win and we will be up for the challenge this week. I expect it'll be like any other game with Floreat - hard fought game and with not a lot separating the teams," said Kay, who expects a bumper crowd at the game. "You would have to be mad not to watch the two quality teams go head-to-head for top spot. The more people that come along to the game the better off WA football will be ... and a message for all the Floreat fans - bring your horns, we love it!"
BAD BREAK FOR ARMADALE’S GOODWIN
Armadale stalwart Jason Goodwin will miss a month of football after breaking his leg on the training track. It's a big setback for the 30-year old striker who had only just returned to the starting line-up following a serious knee injury sustained last season. "I can't take at trick at the moment; I broke my fibula after receiving a heavy knock during a training session last Tuesday night. I went to the hospital that night and they told me it wasn't broken. I then received a call back from them telling me after further scrutiny of the x-rays there was small fracture," said Goodwin, who admits he's considering ending his playing days. "It's a bitter blow for me, I'm not 100% sure myself yet but I am giving retirement a serious thought and maybe getting my own kids involved playing in the near future."
SHARROCK JOINS SORRENTO
Sorrento have moved quickly to fill the void created by Neil Young's move to Melbourne by signing former Preston North End youth goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock. 31-year old Sharrock admits he thought long and hard about the Gulls offer before choosing to move on from Armadale, where he's played since 2007. "It was a huge decision for me to leave Armadale, I've thoughly enjoyed my time there for the last two years. >From the coaching staff, committee and the 'Barmy Army', who have been by far the best fans any player could wish for with the atmosphere at every game being great," Sharrock said.
Sharrock's final appearance for the Reds was against Canning City on Saturday, when his penalty save sent Armadale through to the last eight of the Soccer Pool Cup. "I could not have wished for a better last game, the lads worked hard for the result with only nine men again," he commented, refering to the late sending off of Andy Bowyer and Peter Taylor in a game which ended one-all after 120 minutes. "It's great to see the Army through to the next round and i hope they get a good draw in the quarter-finals."
The challenge of settling into and playing for a new club excites Sharrock, who first played in Western Australia in 2006 with Rockingham City. "I trained (with Sorrento) for the first time on Tuesday and got a good feel for the club and was made to feel welcome. I'm looking forward to getting my first game over with at Mandurah City this weekend - and hopefully we'll get a win under our belt," said Sharrock. "Looking around the dressing room there is a quality list of players and I'm sure we'll be pushing to be up naer the top at end of the season."
AUSTRALIA BACK IN THE TOP 30
The Socceroos impressive World Cup qualifying run has pushed Australia back into FIFA's top 30 nations. Needing just one point from their three remaining qualifiers to secure a place at South Africa 2010, Australia have climbed three spots to 29th in the latest world rankings. Spain remain in first place with the Netherlands sneaking into second ahead of Germany. Italy are in fourth slot, Brazil drop down one to fifth and England are now ranked sixth, ahead of Argentina, Croatia, Russia and France. Australia are Asia's top ranked nation with Japan just four spots behind and Korea a distant third in 46th place.
BRIGHT ON THE CUSP OF MANDURAH’S ELEVEN
A remarkable recovery from serious injury has put Jeff Bright back on the verge of Mandurah City’s first eleven. Torn knee ligaments suffered in pre-season looked like curtailing Bright’s aspirations of building on a summer spell at Perth Glory, but through sheer hard work and determination the livewire midfielder has worked himself back to full fitness and into first team contention. “It usually takes three to six months to get back playing from this sort of injury, but all those hours spent in rehab paid off,” he said. “I came on against Floreat Athena, which was twelve weeks after I did the injury, so I’m really happy with how things are going.”
Bright says he felt numb after getting injured just days prior to the first game of the 2009 Night Series. “I remember doing it and just feeling numb. I’d had worked so hard after the Glory stint to get another shot at the A-League and when I got injured I was absolutely gutted. I thought all my work in the off-season was a waste,” explained Bright, who was thankful for the treatment received from Drew Mitchell at Mandurah Myotherapy. “It was classed a Grade Three medial knee injury, I had feared I’d done the ACL but thankfully it wasn’t that bad. If there was an upside to getting injured it was that it gave me a chance to take a break and focus on things outside football.”
After a handful of games in the reserves Bright felt he was ready for a first team return, however, a disagreement over that with coach Stuart Currie almost ended with the midfielder walking out on Mandurah. “Looking back it was frustration, I’ve never had a serious injury before and I thought I was ready but the coaching staff knew better,” concedes Bright. “I never really wanted to leave, I’d like to spend the rest of football career with Mandurah if possible. They’re a fantastic club who look after everyone and I felt that if I didn’t have the coaches backing I should move on, but thankfully it all got sorted out and I’m happy to remain a Mandurah player.”
Bright says Mandurah “felt robbed” after conceding three second half goal to go down 3-2 at home to top of the table Perth SC. “It was a great game to watch - it had everything that the local game needs to keep people coming back, there was some great football played by both sides,” said Bright of the game with his former team. “But after the game we felt robbed. The team worked so hard to get to two-nil up and we probably backed off a bit and you can’t do that against Perth. I have a lot of respect for Perth and coach Graham Normanton, they are a great club and are a team full of really good players.”
Mandurah’s next assignment is a must-win encounter at home to 2008 Premier League champions Sorrento this Saturday. “We need to win - it’s that simple. We know we are good enough to beat anyone and if we have any aspirations of getting in the top five then we need to learn to kill off games,” stated Bright. “It’s going to be battle against Sorrento, and it will probably get physical because of the nature of the players involved, neither team will be giving the other an inch. But if we can get their attacking players under control it will go along way to us winning.”
KILKELLY RUBBED OUT FOR THE SEASON
Tom Kilkelly is the second coach inside a week to have his season cut short by lengthy suspension. The Morley Windmills coach has been found guilty of "using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures" and "using threatening or intimidating language and/or gestures" against a match official. The suspension stems from an exchange of words with referee Hugh Best in the clubhouse following Morley's recent home loss to Wanneroo City. Kilkelly is not permitted to participate in any Football West related activity at a sanctioned fixture, including coaching, playing, acting as a referee/assistant or ground marshal until the end of December. The fact Best used the sort of language which, if said on the field on play, could have also resulted in a hefty suspension seems to have somehow been lost in translation.
Armadale are still waiting to be given the green light to play English import James Robinson. Delays in having Robinson's international clearance finalised prevented the imposing striker from making his State League return against Sorrento a fortnight ago, then again last weeks against Canning City in the Cup. Robinson scored 11 goals in 13 appearances in the second half of last season for the Reds.
Dean Evans good recent form for Stirling Lions has been rewarded with an invitation from David Mitchell to train full-time with Perth Glory's senior squad. The veratile 19-year old played 13 games for Glory Youth last season before making his A-League debut by coming off the bench in the final round loss to Queensland Roar. Evans ability to fill defence or midfield roles have made him an integral part of the Stirling line-up since his senior debut a few years back
Scott Bushby will not don ECU Joondalup colours again this season following his departure for the United Kingdom. Syd Amphlett made Bushby, a former Newcastle United academy player, one of his first signings after being appointed senior coach at Joondalup knowing he would lose the exciting attacker mid-season. Bushby marked his final Joondalup appearance for 2009 with a goal in their recent 4-1 drubbing of Canning City.
2007 Golden Boot winner Jerry Karpeh has been having little problem finding the back of the net for Victorian Premier League club Oakleigh Cannons. Karpeh began the merry month of May with a double in the 2-1 win at Green Gully Cavaliers, he orchestrated another three points by hitting two more against Heidleberg United, and on the weekend bagged the opening goal in Oakleigh's 2-2 draw with Dandenong Thunder.
Kenny Ftynohiannis has taken over between the posts for Armadale following Cyril Sharrock's departure for Sorrento. A member of the State team that played in Indonesia last year, Ftynohiannis has long been considered the best goalkeeper outside the top flight and returns to the club at which he won a First Division champions medal in 2004. The 25-year old returns to Armadale after playing the last two season's at Balcatta.
English import Chris Emms appears to have played his last game for ECU Joondalup this season. Recruited from Newcastle Blue Star, Emms overcame a severe hamstring strain sustained just one day after joining Joondalup to line-up against Perth SC in the Cup on the weekend. Unfortunately, he lasted just 18 minutes before being withdrawn through injury. Emms is likely to now return to England but not before promising he'll re-join Joondalup in 2010.
Please contact ‘The Insider’ via TheInsider@footballwa.net if you have any club news or gossip, transfer rumours or general scuttlebutt for inclusion in our Short Passes.
SOCCEROOS SETTLE IN TO MIDDLE EAST
Australia will have to overcome Qatar as well as the scorching heat of the Middle East in order to secure World Cup qualification this weekend. Richard Garcia says the conditions for the upcoming game in Qatar promise to be a huge factor in the Socceroos' quest to clinch a place at South Africa 2010, with temperatures of close to 45 degrees Celsius forecast up until game day. "It's pretty hard to play in this heat, regardless of how long you've been here," Garcia said. "It's always a tall order to play in 44-45 degree heat so it's going to be a tough game and we're preparing ourselves for that."
Minor injury problems to Tim Cahill, Scott Chipperfield and Bruce Djite could open the door for the likes of Garcia and fellow West Australian Rhys Williams to come into the starting eleven. Garcia said he would be more than ready if called upon by coach Pim Verbeek again and admitted he'd love to play in the game that could take Australia to consecutive World Cups for the first time. "We all know the importance of the game, but we've just got to approach it as a normal game and try and get the three points," he said.
A Socceroo debut and helping Hull City secure a second season in the English Premier League have made a memorable twelve months for Garcia. "At the start of the season I sort of said I'll take whatever I can get," Garcia said. "But for me it's been an eye-opener of a season to know that I can play at that level with ease. It's such a great honour to be called into the national squad and to play for your country so this season's been fantastic for me. Hopefully next season I'll be able to improve on that even more." Australia plays Qatar in Doha on Sunday morning.
SCHOOLBOYS SQUAD ANNOUNCED
Plans for West Australia to capture their maiden national Schools title have gathered momentum with the naming of a strong sixteen-player squad. Seven of last years Schoolboys have retained their places in the squad that was announced late last week after two months of intense trials. “The last three weeks have been very tough for selectors with the final twenty-two boys playing some great football,” said Schoolboys manager Tony Campbell. “Congratulations to the sixteen and well done to those that missed out, I know they will be disappointed but it was by the smallest of margins.”
Even though WA are yet to win to the Secondary Schools Soccer Championship, which this year is being held at Lark Hill Sports Complex in Rockingham during the first week of August, they do have a good track record. In the last five years WA have returned home with a silver medal on two occasion and captured bronze once, while eleven players have been selected in the Australian Schoolboys squad. It’s a record the coaching staff is keen to improve on in 2009.
The 2009 Western Australian Schoolboys squad features Jermaine Lewis, David Nairn (Armadale), Nick Feely, Devon Gibson, Ryan Pretorious, Jamie Street (Cockburn City), Mitchell Crocker, Kynon Melling (Forrestfield United), Rhys Loxley, Josh Periera, Luke Randazzo (Perth SC), Todd Ross (Sorrento), Liam Boland (Stirling Lions), Max Clarke (Subiaco United), Alen Galic and Papa Kpatar (Western Knights). On stand by are Tom Swift (Stirling), Gerado Soto (Forrestfield) and Tim Robertson (Trinity College).
MONTGOMERY BACK IN THE GULLS FLOCK
The return of one-time State striker Stuart Montgomery was a welcomed sight for Sorrento’s beleaguered supporters last weekend. The Premier League champions have battled through the opening months of the new season with what is best termed a makeshift squad ravaged by injury and departures. The eighth-placed Gulls received a timely boost on Saturday when Montgomery made his return from a knee cartilage problem against Stirling Lions. “The injury is going well; I had to have an operation just to clean it up,” said Montgomery. “Once I get a bit sharper and a bit more fitness under my belt I can be pushing for a starting spot again and I can help the club climb the ladder.”
Montgomery celebrated last years move to Sorrento by playing a key role in their championship win, and the 31-year old is pinning his hopes on the club returning to form soon. “It’s been a real disappointing start to the season considering the season we had last year,” he commented. “Watching from the sidelines has been frustrating, I can’t get out there and help the boys turn things around. I think once we get a settled side on the park and players return from injury, then we will climb the ladder again. I believe at seasons’ end we will be in the top five and a major threat to Western Knights and Perth SC, who are both playing amazing football and are probably favourites to take the championship.”
Sorrento suffered another setback last week with State team goalkeeper Neil Young heading east to join Melbourne Knights. “Losing Youngy is a big loss, when you want to win trophies or be pushing for top five you need a solid goal ‘keeper who will win you games by keeping the ball out the net and Youngy did that for us last year,” said Montgomery. “He is one of the best ‘keepers I have played with and some of the games he played for us last year were just outstanding, he definitely helped us win the league. All the boys will miss having him around, he’s a good bloke as well as a very good ‘keeper. We all wish him the best of luck with Melbourne Knights and hopefully Newcastle Jets if things go to plan.”
Taking over the role between the posts is Cyril Sharrock, whose career started with English club Preston North End and includes spells in the English non-League at Kendal Town, Fleetwood Town and Bamber Bridge. “Signing Cyril Sharrock is going to help cover the loss of Youngy, no doubt about it,” added Montgomery. “Cyril has been an outstanding ‘keeper for Armadale the last few years and I am sure he will continue to be for Sorrento now he has signed. I’m just not looking forward to training with Cyril as I struggled to score against him when he was at Armadale, so I might struggle to score in training now as I could always put it past Quinny.”
And there’s more good news on the horizon for Gulls supporters with the imminent return of several additional players from injury. “We should have a few players back in the next few weeks,” Montgomery said. “James Morgan is close to a return and Leo Harman and Reece Vitagglia should also soon be pushing for a spot, so that’s a bonus I suppose. Healthy competition for places is always good and I just can’t wait to get back out there and push up the league.” Sorrento held south this Saturday and an important showdown with Mandurah City at Hyundai Stadium.
SAQ BACKED BY FOOTBALL WEST
Football West is encouraging coaches and players to take advantage of a sports program used by Spanish giants Barcelona, which has already helped five West Australians earn selection in the Australian Under-13 team. Former Perth Glory player Mark Lee, youth development officer at Football West, said Speed Agility Quickness was an integral part of the development of the latest batch of WA young talents.
Leo Athanasiou, Benjamin Hombert, Matthew Ntoumenopoulos, Thomas Beadling and Daniel De Silva, who will play for the Australian Under-13 team at this weeks Festival of Football tournament in Malaysia, have all benefitted from SAQ. “These kids have been brought up on it … since they were about seven or eight it’s been part of their program,” said Lee of the five players who flew to Malaysia on Saturday.
The football-specific program is designed to improve the fundamental movement of youngsters and to advance athletes’ speed, power and agility at elite level. “If kids aren’t taught to run or move correctly, you can’t give them a football, a tennis racquet or a basketball and expect them to play,” Lee said of the program’s benefits. “It’s an integral part of what we do with all kids.”
ON THIS DAY ... 1980
Italian giants AC Milan ended their tour of Australia on a successful note by defeating the State team 3-2 in an entertaining game at the WACA Ground on the afternoon of 1 June, 1980. But the game almost slipped from their grasp when the host team mounted a late onslaught to score twice in the closing minutes. A disappointing crowd of around 3,000 came to watch the skills of the Italian masters, and they were not let down. In the true mould of continental football, Milan looked deceptively lethargic as they accurately moved the ball from end to end and wing to wing. But full credit to the State team, who adopted a similar style and at times were equal to their opponents.
For long periods of the opening session WA played well and in the 15th minute striker Frank Smerilli went close to putting them ahead when his grass-cutter shaved the outside of the post. It came as a surprise when Guiseppe Galauzzo slid into a cross to score for the Italians just five minutes later. If there were any complaints that Milan were coasting in the first half they were quickly silenced after the break as the visitors moved into top gear. The game exploded in the 57th minute when referee Frank Green awarded Milan a free-kick which Gabrello Carrotti drilled brilliantly into the net.
Six minutes later Roberto Antonelli raced clear after beating the offside trap to place the ball past helpless goalkeeper Willie McNally. WA looked dead and buried, however, they worked their way back into the game with the aid of a few positional and tactical changes. Substitute Dave Fidoe gathered possession in midfield and drove forward, passing to Smerilli who blasted a 20-metre shot past Francesco Navazotti and inside the far post with 84 minutes played. Three minutes later it was Fidoe's turn to score in a frantic goalmouth scramble. And WA might well have snatched a late equaliser through Gordon McCulloch but the midfielder's header was just a little too high.
Western Australia (squad): Willie McNally, Keith Jones, Steve Tombides, Peter Baczynski, Paul McKenna, Lee Adam, Stephen Sceats, Gordon McCulloch, Tony Pragnall, Neil Garvey, Frank Smerilli, John Poleykett, Stephen Snell, Johnny Fiamengo, Dave Fidoe, John Alavakis
AC Milan (squad): Enrico Alberto, Antonio Rigamonti, Francesco Navazzotti, Sergio Battistini, Franco Baresi, Aldo Bet, Roberto Minoia, Aldo Maldera, Giorgi Morini, Fulvio Collovati, Walter De Vecchi, Gabrello Carrotti, Francesco Romano, Antonelli Roberto, Fabio Capello, Ruben Buriani, Alberto Bigon, Stefano Chiodo, Roberto Mandressi, Guiseppe Galuzzo, Walter Novellino
GLORY MANAGER VOWS TO KEEP THE MOOD POSITIVE
There will be no excuses should Perth Glory fail to deliver finals football this season. The club’s off-field resources have been boosted by the recruitment of former national league defender Ante Kovacevic to the position of team manager. Kovacevic, who these days plays locally for Floreat Athena, who knows how easy it is to be distracted by off-field events and how quickly minor problems can escalate into much greater issues. He is desperate for Glory to succeed, having joined the club as a player for the start of the A-League in 2005 when high expectations were replaced quickly by major disappointment.
Part of Kovacevic’s brief is to ensure that the positive mood already permeating the squad continues to flourish as the season develops. “It’s important for players to be positive about what’s happening now,” Kovacevic said. “Apart from the two new clubs this season (North Queensland and Gold Coast), we will be the only Australian team not to have made the A-League finals and that’s a monkey on our back. We know, as a club, that we need to go the extra mile and that’s the reason for me joining and for us getting a full-time strength and conditioning coach and physio. We are planning for success and there’s more to do than just signing the right players.”
A recent visit by officials from newly promoted English Premier League club Wolverhampton Wanderers, who will take on Glory in a pre-season friendly on 10 July, gave Kovacevic an insight into the lengths big clubs will go to in the pursuit of perfection. “The Wolves guys were adamant on having an excuse-free environment for the players,” Kovacevic said. “That’s what their reconnaissance to Perth was all about and that’s what we want to do with our boys. We want to make sure anything the players need, we can get for them. We don’t want any excuses and we want to make sure everyone is as happy as possible so they can concentrate on enjoying their football, which will hopefully result in a positive season.”
The stigma of past seasons still lingers at Glory, who have fallen dramatically since the heady days of National Soccer League domination, although the players currently in training seem content with the additional steps the club has taken towards professionalism. “There’s definitely an improvement on previous seasons,” Kovacevic said. “There’s a lot of organisation and the boys know it’s all going to be prepared for them. In the past it’s been full-time but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s professional.” Glory will experience first hand the level of professionalism required to play at the highest level in England when they face Fulham and Wolves at Members Equity Stadium in mid-July.
DALLIES DREAM EXTINGUISHED BY FLOREAT (by Chris Correia, Football West)
Floreat Athena snatched a 1-0 win against amateur side Spearwood Dalmatinac to keep alive their hopes of achieving the League and Cup double. Team captain John Migas made all the difference, his 68th minute strike separating the teams at the end of 90 minutes. Spearwood's midfield brigade of captain Glenn Pesich, Graham Rickman and Dave Twentyman ensured the home team competed strongly throughout the afternoon, but it was in the final third that their hopes of grabbing a goal fell to pieces. A dangerous Barry Rice free-kick in the early stages gave Floreat a few worries until Simon Elton-Bott cleared the danger as the ball headed goalward. The best chances for the visitors came late in the half via set pieces but no matter how hard they tried there was no way past in-form goalkeeper Justin Vanderhoek.
Vanderhoek continued to produce the heroics following the turnaround. Jason Barrera and Adam Bachiller linked well but the latter's cross was captured by Vanderhoek, and soon after the 'keeper cut out Migas' through ball intended for James Isaia to once again rescue Spearwood. Migas' move into the centre of midfield as a consequence of Jovo Pavlovic's introduction off the bench would have a dramatic influence on the game. Five minutes later Brad Scott made his way down the left to sent in a delightful cross which an unmarked Migas blasted into the net from point blank range. The pace of the match appeared to then start catching up with Spearwood and there were further chances for Bachiller, Migas and Scott to add to the tall but Vanderhoek was not about to be beaten for a second time. Ruice sent another free-kick towards goal where it was kept out by Vas Vujacic, who spent much of the day as a spectator.
BURNLEY MOVE AN OPTION FOR WILLIAMS
Rhys Williams is expected to be high on manager Owen Coyle’s wish-list as he prepares for Burnley’s return to the English top flight. 20-year old Williams enjoyed a successful three-month loan with the Clarets last season and, following Middlesbrough’s relegation to the Championship, admits he’d jump at the chance to move back to Turf Moor. “I played seventeen games for Burnley, and missing the play-offs killed me, but it was great to see the lads again,” he said after watching the Clarets clinch promotion to the Premier League by defeating Sheffield United 1-0. “We’ll have to wait and see what happens, but I’d love to come back. It’s not all down to me at the end of the day, it’s down to the two gaffers, but I wouldn’t say no.” It is understood Coyle is keen to sign Williams permanently.
KNIGHTS CHARGE PAST BALCATTA
Western Knights defence of their Soccer Pools Cup title remains on course following a 6-1 thumping of Balcatta at Graham Burkett Reserve. The hosts were a team under siege for the majority of the first half as the Knights sent a string of shots either into the frame of the goal or narrowly wide. Anthony Campbell finally broke the deadlock in the 42nd minute, rising to head into the back of the net after a perfectly executed Daniel Micevski corner. The Knights weren’t done with for the half and four minutes later David Micevski rocketed a low free-kick through the defensive wall and into the net following a foul on Barry Devlin just outside the 18-yard box.
Balcatta came out with all guns ablaze for the second half and deservedly pulled a goal back in the 50 minutes when Ashley Rosindale netted after Damien Todorovic’s volley rebounded off the crossbar. Frazer Siddall ensured the Knights remained in the lead three minutes later by keeping out a Todorovic penalty kick that was controversially awarded for Stuart Ferguson’s infringement on Andy O’Neill. From then on the visitors totally dominated with Daniel Micevski and David Micevski running the midfield as Mario Marchenko and Campbell linked to terrific effect in attack.
Marcinko added a third for the Knights by rounding the goalkeeper and chipping into the net via the underside of the bar after 62 minutes. Some neat interplay between Daniel Micevski and David Micevski in the 78th minute allowed Anthony Campbell to get his second by sweeping the ball in from 5-metres. Defender David Annall wanted to also get in on the act but his close-range attempt at goal was headed into the net by an unfortunate defender for the Knights fifth goal only a few minutes later. The sealer came in the 82nd minute, Daniel Micevski making his way past several opponents before firing into the net.
MORLEY KNOCKED OUT BY SHAMROCK
Shamrock Rovers became the only amateur team in the last eight of the Cup by handing out a 4-1 hiding to Morley Windmills under leaden skies at Wooton Reserve. The ball had been in motion only 3 minutes when Shane McCarthy brilliantly swung in a corner from the left that cleared goalkeeper Jon Parker and crept inside the back post to put Shamrock one-nil up. Morley’s quest for a hasty reply was answered within five minutes when referee David Currie awarded the hosts a soft penalty which Martin Sherwin struck firmly beyond Owen Little’s reach. Shamrock was just as quick to then assert control over proceedings, McCarthy and Nick Carroll working overtime in engine room to spear their team in attack at every opportunity.
Strike partners Cathal Quinn and Barry Mulligan ensured there were more than a few nervous moments for a Morley defence under increasing pressure. Robbie Fanning almost punished their failure to properly clear at a corner but his fierce strike whistled just wide of the far post. There was another close call ten minutes later when McCarthy’s well-flighted ball into a crowded area was out of Fanning’s reach by only the narrowest of margins. It was rare that Morley prised open the Shamrock defence although Dylan Browne was required to conceded a corner when a half chance fell to Mitch Brydon. Tempers began to fray in both camps as half-time approached and if not for the calming influence of Currie the game could quite easily have boiled over.
Wayne Brooks fired high into the net from the penalty spot six minutes into the second half to put Shamrock back in the driving seat after Graham Byrne was felled by Mitch Castrilli. Galvanised into action, Morley’s increased work rate would have paid dividends had the ball bounced a little more kindly for Scott McIlroy following an unforced defensive mix-up between Little and Paudie O’Connor. Mitch Brydon was getting more involved in the game and twice had penalty claims dismissed. A terrific McIlroy header flashed past Little only to come back off the upright from a fine free-kick by Castrilli, then a few minutes later Alan Nanini glanced just wide of the back post from McIlroy’s corner.
So it was completely against the run of play when Shamrock delivered the knock-out blow after 70 minutes, Nick Carroll getting deep down the right to sent in a cross which Mulligan looped over the ‘keeper and under the crossbar. Play had only just re-commenced when McCarthy’s scorching drive from 30-metres cleared the bar by the narrowest of margins. Although Morley continued to hold possession, they conceded a fourth in the 79th minute when Parker was left exposed by his defence allowing Graham Byrne to blast into the net after zeroing on from the left. Morley were unfortunate not to grab a late second goal but substitute Jake Harman headed straight at Little, who later turned wide Farrell Hedges’ angled drive.
PHOENIX GRIND OUT RESULT
South West Phoenix will fly the First Division flag in this years Cup quarter-final after defeating Fremantle Spirit 3-1 on penalties at Westrac Stadium. A lacklustre game was deadlocked on 1-1 at the end of regulation time and remained that way following an additional half-hour before Phoenix emerged triumphant in near darkness. As the clock approached 6.00pm, Rory Binnie, David Rodgers and Steve Suttie hit the back of the net to sent Phoenix into the last eight as the only team from the second tier.
The hosts positive approach work threw the spotlight on Fremantle's defence, which encountered problems dealing with a series of early high crosses into the 18-yard box. Binnie and Rodgers only failed to connect by the narrowest of margins with balls in from Suttie before Patrick Quinn whipped in a tantalising cross that was only centimetres away from finding the far top corner. But the entertainment slowly dissipated around the halves midpoint when Phoenix seemingly ran out of energy while Fremantle remained comfortable in their slumber.
Fremantle came out with an increased sense of purpose and urgency for the second half. However, it was Phoenix that took the lead on 53 minutes, Kieran Kavanagh placing neatly into the corner following good movement between Quinn, David Murphy and Binnie, who provided the final pass. But the good worked was undone seven short minutes later when Alex Consolanti capitalised on a defensive error. Both teams had chances to win the game in regulation time but Fremantle's inability to hit the target combined with Phoenix's struggle to push into the final third did little to excite the crowd. Extra-time came and went with both sets of players tired and neither able to conjure up anything even slightly resembling a winner.
PENALTIES NEEDED AS ARMADALE SEES OFF CANNING
Armadale held their nerve to out-shoot Canning City 5-3 on penalties at the end of a pulsating Cup encounter at Alfred Skeet Oval. It was a nervous ride for the Reds who played much of extra-time with only nine men after Andy Bowyer and Peter Taylor were sent off in separate straight red card incidents. Canning's early dominance was rewarded in the All the running in the first twenty minutes came from Canning made the early running in the first twenty minutes and opened the scoring in the 32nd minute when poor defending at a Roberto Lujan cross allowed Michael Roger to take control and lash the ball past Cyril Sharrock from 10-metres.
The pressure on Armadale continued to mount and they were lucky not to concede again in the 37th minute when Paul Van Dongen's header was cleared off the line by Ryan Pearson. Only a few more minutes passed before Roger put the ball just wide after evading two defenders inside the 18-yard box. And right on the stroke of half-time Canning broke quickly out of defence, Van Dongen sprinting down the right flank before cutting in and firing on sight to which Sharrock responded with a diving save that kept the difference to single goal.
A fired up Armadale started the second half with renewed vigour and inside two minutes they'd equalised, Kevin Bissett slotting under Devon Spence after latching on to a superbly weighted Gary Faria pass. The hosts went close to taking the lead in the 53rd minute through Mo Atak whose blistering shot crashed against the crossbar. Canning hit back in a five minute spell Sharrock did well to keep out an Admir Mehic header, then deflect Daniel Trevisiol's shot onto the base of a post. Roger thought he'd scored a late winner but after putting the ball in the net turned to see a raised flag for offside.
The games first big talking point came seven minutes into extra-time when Bowyer was issued a red card for his cynical tackle on Jonathon Mathers. Two minutes later Taylor joined his captain in the changerooms for head butting an opponent, leaving referee Steve Gregory no option but to again reach for his red card. Lujan, Paul Oliver and Duncan Hind each went close to grabbing the winner but their failure to take full advantage would be devastating for Canning as the game moved to the lottery of penalty kicks. Sharrock's save to a weak attempt by Lujan was compounded when Atak sealed Armadale victory with a clinical finish.
ARNOLD SENDS PERTH INTO LAST EIGHT
Phil Arnold rediscovered his goal scoring touch by netting three times and propel Perth SC to a 4-1 victory over ECU Joondalup at the Edith Cowan University campus. Goals had been few and far between for Arnold since his off-season transfer to Perth but coach Graham Normanton knew it would only be a matter if time before the young striker started to really fire. “Once you get that (luck), everything tends to flow and he showed today that if you stick at it, you get more used to the timing and the flow, and he’s proven his quality,” he said. “You can’t expect to miss simple chances and expect to win games, we missed them in the first half but we took them in second half.”
The game started slowly with the majority of the play bottled up in the middle third and the only chances coming via dead ball situations. Joondalup looked to have suffered an early setback when Chris Emms was replaced by Greg Josling after 19 minutes, however, it took the newly introduced player just a couple of minutes to make his presence felt. Ryan Williams’ cross-field pass found Josling in space wide on the right, and after jinxing his way between two opponents the youngster curled a delightful shot around goalkeeper Simon Madaschi to give Joondalup the lead. Tommy Amphlett could have added to the hosts tally but after shrugging off his marker inside the 18-yard box he fired into the side netting. It was only late in the half that Perth finally kicked into gear with the creation of a handful of converted half -chances.
Perth opened the second period in devastating style. A poorly defended corner six minutes into the half produced a goalmouth scramble in which Todd Howarth cheekily backheeled through the legs of ‘keeper Davvyd Jones to bring the teams level. Four minutes later Michael Black delivered the ball into the area where Arnold was afforded far too much time and space to pick his place past Jones. Oliver Swords set up Perth’s third by driving past the defence and sending a low ball across the face of goal which Arnold turned in at the far post to effectively put the result beyond doubt after 61 minutes. Arnold put the icing on the cake by outpacing his marker to get on the end of Genaveo Human’s neat tap on which he stroked wide of Jones to complete his hat-trick.
INGLEWOOD SCRAPE THROUGH (by Peter Simcox)
Plucky First Division side Gosnells City gave Inglewood United a run for their money before being bundled out of the Cup 1-0 at Clipsal Stadium. A goal just after the hour by veteran Kevin Griffiths was all that separated the teams on what was a difficult day for the home side. “We knew it was going to be a battle today and in the first half we were a bit under par,” commented Griffiths, who was glad to send Inglewood into the last eight. “We made chances in the second half and I was happy to score and we’re happy to get into the next round.”
A lively start had Inglewood go close early when Rory Grant played through Jason Colli who was thwarted as goalkeeper Alan Dunlop came out quickly to save. The visitors were by no means overawed by the occasion and on 11 minutes Aaron Nadine’s long-range shot flashed wide of the target. Chances were few and far between as both defences did their job, although Dunlop had to be alert in punching clear a dangerous cross by Ricky Smith after 25 minutes. The best opportunity of the spell came when an Oliver Taseski clearance landed at the feet of Andrew McGettrick, who should have done much better than fire well over the crossbar.
Inglewood fashioned a chance via Colli’s corner from the right that James Duncan headed against the post, but had the ball gone in it would have been disallowed for a foul on Dunlop. Gosnells were taking the game up to their more fancied opponent and on 36 minutes Darren Francis’ shot from distance went just over the bar, then Sam Maguire placed wide from an angle. Both sides had chances leading into the break, Griffiths curling narrowly high from the top of the 18-yard box with Dunlop at full stretch while at the other end McGettrick’s shot was blocked by Shane Pryce and Stuart Aitken’s follow-up fired wide.
The addition of Dannie Richman and Louis Parkinson added to Inglewood’s attacking options for the second half. Colli was sent down the right in the 50th minute but his cross was met by defender David Abbott, whose mis-directed clearance was into the grateful arms of Dunlop. By this stage it was all one-way traffic, Parkinson having a header saved by Dunlop and a long-range strike by Mladen Kovacevic went high. The deciding goal arrived in the 61st minute when Colli’s low cross caused confusion for the visiting defence and while Grant’s attempt was blocked the ball fall kindly for Griffiths to lash into the net at close-range.
Danny Kovacevic almost made it two-nil soon after the restart by charging down the left and cutting inside one defender but his low shot as saved by Dunlop. With nothing to lose Gosnells now began throwing men forward and substitute Adam Bremner flashed just wide from the top of the area. A close-range effort by Bremner stung the gloves of Taseski, who then stood up to deny Francis. Gosnells last roll of the dice came in the 86th minute when Ian Maguire’s free-kick into the area was captured by Taseski. Inglewood wanted to end the day with more than a single goal and Parkinson’s header was kept out by Dunlop who, in stoppage time, was out quick to smother at the same players feet.
SORRENTO OUT AS STIRLING PROGRESS (by Tim Lefort, Football West)
Stirling Lions survived a late rally from Sorrento to advance to the Cup quarter-finals with a deserved 3-2 victory at Percy Doyle Reserve. Steve Hesketh gave Stirling a dream start with an early goal which was cancelled out just before half-time by Steve McDonald. Second half strikes from Jason Mirco and substitute Andy Brown looked to have killed the game off, however, Daniel Darras late goal ensured a tense finish. Stirling boss Mike Lyons was delighted with his side's performance and admitted he had a feeling it might be their day. "Despite having seven or eight players out for various reasons, I really thought before the game we were going to win this one," he said. "The early goal was obviously great but we closed them down really well and didn't give them any time on the ball."
Stirling cast aside some poor league results by forcing a succession of early corners, the third of which Hesketh headed past goalkeeper Michael Lawson to put the visitors one-nil up. Aside from a couple of tame headers by McDonald and an off-target effort by Todd Harnwell, Sorrento struggled to have much of an impact, leaving Dino Pacella a virtual spectator in the Stirling goal. However, it was all-go at the other end where Dean Evans called Lawson into action with a fine strike from 18-metres. The Gulls custodian followed with another stunning save, this time tipping Hesketh's effort over the bar after he'd combined brilliantly with Jordan Rhodes. But just as it looked Stirling would hold a half-time lead, McDonald got on the end of Shaun Kilkelly's crossfield ball which the lanky striker looped over an advancing Pacella to bring the sides level.
The second half opened with Chris Harlond heading wide as Stirling commenced searching for a second goal to reassert their authority. They got their reward in the 61st minute when Mirco cut in from the right and hit a fierce low shot beyond Lawson which hit the back of the net. The game now started to open up and McDonald was left frustrated when his header in a goalmouth scramble was pushed away from goal by Harlond. With seventeen minutes remaining Brown marked his return from long-term injury by giving Stirling some breathing space, the big striker heading an in-swinging corner beyond Lawson. The result should have been put beyond doubt soon after but Keith Clevenger's indecision saw him play the ball behind Brown, who was free inside the area.
Sorrento responded with a flourish of activity, McDonald heading wide at 9-metres and substitute Stuart Montgomery blasted high from inside the box. But it was by no means one-way traffic and sandwiched between these chances was a ferocious Mirco drive that brought a good response from Lawson. Mirco was intent on making a nuisance of himself and in the space of a few minutes again tested the 'keeper, then swung a corner against the crossbar before Hesketh volleyed wide. With two minutes to go the hosts grabbed a lifeline when Daniel Darras pounced to fire past Pacella from 10-metres amid howls of protest that Montgomery had handled in the build-up. Sorrento piled the pressure on in the remaining minutes but when McDonald headed a free-kick narrowly wide it was clear they Cup run was about to end.
THE CUP IN PREVIEW
The glitz and glamour that is knock-out football takes centre stage this weekend in the form of round two if the Soccer Pools Cup. The round is highlighted by a trio of all-Premier League ties, the pick of which has head of the table Perth SC away to ECU Joondalup (3.00pm), whose coach, Steve Amphlett, is looking forward to the big occasion. “It should be a great game and hopefully the biggest crowd of the day,” commented Amphlett. “The boys are playing well and really looking forward to it and they all seem confident of a result.”
Alfred Skeet Oval is the venue for Armadale against Canning City (3.00pm). The sides battled out a tense 2-2 draw when they meet only a few weeks back, and with the Cup being their best chance of ending the year with silverware this promises to be an equally tight game. The situation is eerily similar to that of Sorrento and Stirling Lions who meet at Percy Doyle Reserve (3.00pm). Big things were expected from both in pre-season but, with neither delivering, a Cup loss will effectively spell the end of their trophy hopes.
The Cup provides an opportunity for the games’ minnows to showcase their wares and, hopefully, cause an upset or two. Amateur Premier League leader Shamrock Rovers will argue a very strong case when they travel to Wotton Reserve to take on a Morley Windmills side that has lost their past three games (3.00pm). The other remaining amateur side, Spearwood Dalmatinac, has the difficult task of trying to get the edge over Floreat Athena when they visit Dalmatinac Park in the solitary Sunday fixture (3.00pm).
Inglewood United are firm favourite to see off the challenge of First Division outfit Gosnells City when they visit Clipsal Stadium (3.00pm). Western Knights have not lost in seven games and it’s difficult to see that run ending when they take on First Division side Balcatta at Grindleford Reserve. If Fremantle Spirit want to continue on in the Cup they’ll need to pull a very big rabbit out of the bag when they take on the might of South West Phoenix at Westrac Stadium.
CUP MINNOWS OUT TO MAKE A NAME FOR THEMSELVES
The cut-throat world Cup football is renowned for surprising and this weekend on the local stage Shamrock Rovers and Spearwood Dalmatinac will be looking to do exactly that. The pair are the only amateur teams to make it through to the second round of the Soccer Pools Cup and each has a strong desire to continue flying the flag beyond Sunday afternoon. Shamrock has nothing to fear when they travel to take on a Morley Windmills side coming off three successive league losses. Spearwood’s task is considerably more daunting, home to high flying Floreat Athena on Sunday.
Glynn Shaw is hoping for a repeat performance from Shamrock who toppled Dianella White Eagles in the opening round of the competition. “The Dianella game was a good game for us, but I really don’t think there is a difference between top Sunday Premier League teams and Saturday First Division ones,” said the coach. “I believe Dianella are a better team than Morley so I hope the boys play at the level they can and the result will take care of it self. Every player understands what there job is and we have a very strong bench which understands what they need to do when they get the chance to play.”
Shamrock are riding high on top of the league and have very good reason to be full of confidence heading to Morley. “We had a good result at Spearwood last week, and the boys played very well,” said Shaw, whose team scored five times against Spearwood. “We are starting to gel, this team has only been together since the end of January, it is a totally new team to what Shamrock was last year. And the more games we play the better we are going to get. Let’s hope for a great result on the weekend and we get on of the big boys in the next round.”
This Cup round presents Morley boss Tom Kilkelly an opportunity to end his team’s three-game losing streak. “It’s been a hard three weeks for us. We have come up against the top three teams in the competition and barring for twenty minutes in the second half against Wanneroo the lads have played well,” Kilkelly said. “Shamrock are on a roll at the moment. To me it means nothing that they are in a league below - when are team is flying you had better watch out. They must be looking at our results and rubbing there hands together.”
Comfortable with the underdog tag that has been applied to his team, Spearwood’s assistant coach Justin Vander Hoek is by no means underestimating the mammoth challenge that faces the home side. “We understand it is going to be a very tough game against a top quality side, and I guess we hope that they turn up and are a little below their best,” he said. “The Cup is a good leveller and we will be going out and playing without pressure as we have nothing to lose, as opposed to Floreat who have everything to lose.”
Spearwood will draw upon the fact they are yet to lose at home this year. “Our home record over the years hasn’t been great and we have made a determined effort to make Dalmatinac Park a hard place for visiting teams to come to this year,” said Vander Hoek. “The big ground suits our style of play but I’m sure it won’t hold any fears for the Floreat guys who have all played their over the years against Cockburn. The boys know it will be a huge achievement to get a result and are looking at what Hamersley achieved last season as inspiration.”
Floreat coach Michael Roki openly admits he knows very little about this week’s opposition other than they’re currently placed eight in the Amateur Premier League. So it’s not surprising he’s approaching the game with great caution and urging his player not to underestimate their opponent. “I have no idea of what they have so we just need to be careful of being complacent,” commented Roki. “The big ground will suit us and I would hope to pick up an early goal, but saying that, we’ve only scored five from sixteen goals this year in the first half.”
WATCH OUT FOR STIRLING WARNS PACELLA
An extended Cup run has the potential to kick-start Stirling Lions' season according to experienced shot-stopper Dino Pacella. Stirling, who are yet to win in the League, have been gathering momentum of late with strong performances against Perth SC and Floreat Athena serving as good preparation for Saturday's Cup tie at Sorrento. "We can certainly take the game up to the so called 'big boys' and that has a positive effect on our team morale," Pacella said. "Obviously, we want to win games as well and the Cup competition is no exception. Stirling has done well in the Cup over the last few years so the players want to keep that trend going and achieve some success this season."
Pacella is adamant it'll be only a matter of time before everything at Stirling clicks. "We're digging deeper than before and working harder for each other as an overall team group. That's shown through in our two most recent games, we've played with a bit more passion and character about us," Pacella said. "There are some quality senior players at Stirling well as well as the club being home to some of the most talented youngsters in the state. The problem has been that we've not been gelling on game day, which is something we're working on."
The weekend game with Floreat was Pacella's first outing since completing a four-week suspension for what he describes as an "altercation with a match official" against Sorrento. "I gave him a honest and frank opinion about his performance, but I think my feedback was a bit too blunt and maybe could of done without the profanities," he said. "I thought that the length of the suspension was harsh, you can get a two-match ban for your first offence and then a more severe suspension for a similar second offence. It does not have to be so cut and dry as commonsense can take a part in the sentence."
Stirling and Sorrento shared six goals when they met on the second weekend in April, and Pacella is tipping another high scoring affair tomorrow at Percy Doyle Reserve. "It will be a tough and exciting game which I suspect will produce a few goals," said the goalkeeper. "There should also be a bit of extra bite to it, the last encounter was a great game that was played with a completely different outcome in each of the halves. Neither club has had the type of start to the league that they'd hoped for so both would like to start looking towards winning a competition this season."
YOUNG TORN ABOUT MOVING TO MELBOURNE
State goalkeeper Neil Young has embarked on a brave new phase in his career by joining Victorian Premier League club Melbourne Knights. The long-serving Sorrento stopper jetted out of town on Tuesday evening and is likely to make his debut for the Knights in Sunday's game with Richmond. "It's a bigger stage in Melbourne and you never know what may come of it," commented Young on moving east. "I've only ever played for Sorrento so I'm looking forward to experiencing another club and improving myself as a player ... and to get a trial with an A-League club would also be nice."
The Knights, currently tenth in the twelve-team VPL, made initial contact with Young earlier this year. "They've been in touch since the roughly the beginning of our season and made me a pretty good offer," said Young. "It wasn't the easiest decision I've ever made as I'm leaving my wife and two young boys behind. And when I told (Sorrento coach) Steve Neville I was a blubbering mess - so was he I might add - then telling the boys before the game on Saturday again brought tears to my eyes. I've been at the club fourteen seasons and have a lot of mates there who I'd also call family."
And it's that camaraderie that Young says he'll miss most about not being a Sorrento player. "There's some great banter in the change rooms, Thommo, Todd, Macca, Ordy, Nuggs, Banksy, Monty and even Kilkelly are good team mates but are also my best friends and it will be hard not to miss them," said the 29-year old 'keeper. "Sorrento is a family. Tom Bartlett and Derek Harnwell are great men and have looked after me like one of their own sons. And Nevs is a quality coach and a mate, he's always there for his players."
Young kept goal during the most successful period in Sorrento's history and has many fond memories from his time at the club. "Winning the Premier League title three times, once as captain, rate as the highlight along with being named the 2006 Goalkeeper of the Year, it's great to get personal awards too," said Young, who on four occasions wore State team colours. "It's a great honour to be selected in the State squad, and to hold the number one shirt for the games I played is something I'll always cherish."
WEST AUSSIES LEAD WORLD CUP CHARGE
A record six West Australians have been called into the Socceroos squad by coach Pim Verbeek as the Dutchman launches a final assault on World Cup qualification next month. Goalkeepers Michael Petkovic and Brad Jones, defenders Chris Coyne, Rhys Williams and Adrian Madaschi along with attacker Richard Garcia have earned selection for Australia's trio of games against Qatar (6 June), Bahrain (10 June) and Japan (17 June). Australia needs just one point to secure a place at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and confirm successive finals appearances for the first time.
Williams' stunning transformation to first team regular while on loan from Middlesbrough to Burnley, who won promotion to the English Premier League last weekend, caught the eye of the Socceroos coach. And after the Wales Under-21 international recently declared his interest in playing for Australia, a call-up was inevitable. "If I compare him with the players we have, a player of his age, he has a lot of potential," commented Verbeek of 20-year old Williams. "I think he's good enough to be part of the Socceroos for the future."
The inclusion of Petkovic and Garcia, who play for Sivasspor (Turkey) and Hull City (England) respectively, was expected after their involvement in recent qualifiers, while Jones has been between the posts regularly in Middlesbrough's unsuccessful campaign to stay in the English Premier League. "He's played so many games in the Premiership. It's a good opportunity for him," said Verbeek in naming three 'keepers in his squad. "I'm very pleased with the choices I can make on goalkeeping positions. It's time for Brad now, it's time for him."
Madaschi, 26, who plays in Italy's third tier for Portogruaro-Summaga, returns to the Socceroos squad after a five year absence. "It's a tough league, especially for a defender because you have to be very concentrated," said Verbeek, who admits to being impressed by what he saw of Madaschi at club level. "It's a professional league and now it's up to him to show he can do it on the same level with the Socceroos." Madaschi can play centre back or on the left side of defence and was part of Australia's 2004 Olympic Games squad.
The Australia squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers features Brett Holman (AZ Alkmaar), Scott Chipperfield (FC Basel), Vincenzo Grella (Blackburn Rovers), Scott McDonald (Celtic), Chris Coyne (Colchester United), Nick Carle (Crystal Palace), Mile Sterjovski (Derby County), Luke Wilkshire (Dinamo Moscow), Tim Cahill (Everton), Mark Schwarzer (Fulham), Harry Kewell (Galatasaray), Bruce Djite, Mile Jedinak (Genclerbirligi), Jason Culina (Gold Coast United), Carl Valeri (Grosseto), Richard Garcia (Hull City), Jade North (Incheon United), Josh Kennedy (Karlsruher), Shane Stefanutto (Lyn Oslo), Brad Jones, Rhys Williams (Middlesbrough), Matthew Spiranovic, Dario Vidosic (Nurnberg), Mark Bresciano (Palermo), Adrian Madaschi (Portogruaro-Summaga), Mark Milligan (Shanghai Shenhua), David Carney (Sheffield United), Michael Petkovic (Sivasspor), Jacob Burns (Unirea Valahorum) and Lucas Neill (West Ham United).
NERVY FINISH FOR GARCIA’S TIGERS
Richard Garcia's nerves must still be jangling after Hull City escaped from relegation from the English Premier League by the skin of their feet. The Tigers were one of three teams in contention for the drop leading into the final day of the campaign where losses to relegation rivals Newcastle United and Middlesbrough secured Garcia's team a spot amongst the nation's elite in 2009/10. "It was a nervy last day but we managed to scrape through," said 27-year old Garcia. "It's testament to the guys that we have stayed up. The team spirit has played a big part. There have been some really hard times this season but we have stuck together and kept pushing on. It was great to be in the Premier League and to have played in as many games as I have this season. I hope that I can improve on that next year."
MICEVSKI BROTHERS IN ARMS
David Micevski is hoping an injury-free run for both himself and elder brother Daniel can lead to trophy success for Western Knights. The siblings rarely played together last season due to injury but when they did get on the park at the same time everything fell very neatly into pace. "When we play together we seem to win a lot of trophies, so let's hope that continues," said the 23-year old. "We have a good relationship and just seem to know where one another is on the pitch … injuries kept us apart last year but we did play together in the last game of the season when we beat Sorrento to win the Cup."
The summer appointment of former Welsh international defender Paul Price to the coaching helm has had a rejuvenating effect on the Knights according to Micevski. "Paul and Tony (Castiello) have been fantastic this season; they have given everyone the confidence and organization needed to get the results," he said. "Paul has his own ideas and formations, but he always communicates well with us and tries to get the most out of his players, and has given us confidence and belief in ourselves."
The few select recruits Price brought to the Knights have blended well with the existing player group. "Okwy Diamondstar, Anthony Campbell, Frazer Siddall and David Price have all settled and done well for the club, while Mario Marchenko, Stuart Ferguson, Barry Devlin, Sebastian Trim and Cormac Dawson are performing week in, week out," Micevski commented. "And having players like Dave Annall, my brother Daniel and myself injury-free this season is also a positive for us."
Micevski's form on the local stage for Perth SC in 2005 led to a Perth Glory contract, the midfielder playing 22 A-League games. "Playing for Glory had always been my childhood ambition, and to fulfil this was a dream come true," he said. "My debut against Queensland Roar at home was definitely the highlight of my time at Members Equity Stadium, I was only signed that week and told minutes before kick-off that I was going to be in the starting line-up. It was quite disappointing not to be given an extension by the club as I feel I have plenty to offer at A-League level."
It was during that period with Glory that Micevski came to the attention of Australian Under-23 coach Graham Arnold, who provided the midfielder a taste for international football. "It was a great experience playing with and against international players, and I learnt a lot being in such a professional environment," said Micevski, who made the first of six appearances for the Olyroos in April 2006. "I will never forget my international debut, it was against Iran in front of 20,000 spectators in Vietnam, great memories."
Through spells at Stirling Lions, Perth, Glory and the Knights Micevski has soaked up all he could from a sequence of quality coaches. "Every coach I've had has had some influence on my development," he said. "My dad coached me as a junior and still coaches me now, he's at every match I play and when I'm not playing to my potential he lets me know about it. Graham Normanton gave me the opportunity to play State League and always believed I could make the next step up. Alan Vest showed great faith in me at Glory, and Paul Price has given me a leadership role at the Knights, which will only better me as a player."
One State League referee has been ruffling more than a few feathers in a misguided attempt to earn greater Respect from players and team officials. Said referee, who always seems to know best, was recently overheard commenting to a team manager "you will refer to me as Sir, or don't speak to me at all". Perhaps it's time the powers that be have a friendly chat with the referees and just explain how you go about building relationships and earning Respect.
In another positive step forward for football in the south west, hometown heroes Perth Glory and A-League newcomer Gold Coast United will play a pre-season friendly in Bunbury on the last weekend of July. State League club South West Phoenix are hosting the game, to be played at Hands Oval on 25 July, with tickets going on sale shortly.
Colombian import Cesar Gonzalez marked his Bayswater City debut by scoring one and setting up another in Saturday's loss to Wanneroo City. Gonzalez and countryman Carlos Lopez, neither of whom speaks a word of English, recently fronted unannounced for training at Frank Drago Reserve and such was the impression made that within days both had been cleared as Bayswater players.
CANNING COACH BANNED FOR TWO-YEARS
Canning City coach Frank Longstaff has been suspended for two-years by Football West after being found guilty of "acting in a manner prejudicial to the interests of the game". The suspension stems from the chaotic scenes late in Canning's round three win at Swan United when Longstaff was involved in an ugly on-field incident with Swan player Trent Wood. Canning appealed the verdict, initially handed down earlier this month, but that was upheld by the Football West disciplinary committee last week. Longstaff is not permitted to coach any Football West sanctioned fixture until 5th May 2011, at which stage he commences a further two-year good behaviour bond. Canning were slapped with an additional $1100 for breaching the Spectator Code of Conduct, while Swan received a $850 fine for their part in the incident. A Swan spectator was also banned from all Football West fixtures until December 2010.
GOALS! GOALS! GOALS!
Mario Marcinko’s knack of converting chances into goals has put him at the head of the Premier League Golden Boot leader board. Four goals in eight days have propelled the Western Knights teenager to the top of the pile with eight goals. Swan United stalwart Damien Scali is just one behind followed by Perth SC team mates Greg Sharland and Todd Howarth with six goals each. Last season’s Golden Boot recipient Phil O’Callaghan (Mandurah City) has five goals to sit alongside David Onoforo (Perth), Todd Harnwell (Sorrento) and Inglewood United’s attacking midfielder Mladen Kovacevic.
The First Division field is just as tight with South West Phoenix veteran Steve Suttie leading the way on seven goals but only one ahead of Balcatta pair Bobby Klenkoski and Ashley Rosendale. Eight players are gathered with five goals each, Rodrigo Aguirre, Dragan Njegic (Dianella White Eagles), David Rodgers, Lee Stewart (Phoenix), Frank Madaferri, Tommy Jones (Bayswater City), Brian Cairney (Wanneroo City) and Jordan Hart (Forrestfield United). Also amongst the leading pack are Ryan Jeans (Bayswater), Darren Francis (Gosnells City) and Rory Binnie (Phoenix) with four goals.
GLORY RETURN EXCITES VRTESKI
Newly signed Perth Glory stopper Aleks Vrteski is thrilled to be taking on 'best mate' Tando Velaphi for the goalkeeping gloves at the club. The 20-year old Australian representative has returned to the club leaner, meaner and much fitter than when he played eight games during the 2006/07 season. Since then Vrteski has played 20 games for Macedonian club FK Pobeda, which was recently found guilty of match-fixing by UEFA and banned from European competition for the next eight seasons.
The experiences of Macedonia provided Vrteski an important wake-up call. "I was told over there I did have to lose some weight, get myself right and I mean going away from home, being out of your comfort zone so to speak, you kind of wake up to yourself a bit," he told Paul Barbieri of Sportal. "You learn a lot of things personally about yourself, not just as a footballer but also as a person, so I'm never going to look at it in a negative light, there's only positives to come out of playing there."
With Pobeda struggling to pay its player's wages following the guilty verdict, Vrteski was released from his contract and quickly became reacquainted with his hometown club. "I worked hard, got myself right and played a good season-and-a-half (at Pobeda)," Vrteski added. "Mitch has been great to give me the opportunity to come back to the Glory. I just hope I can repay him as well, in a way he's given me another chance to play for the club that I've grown up loving. So really excited about that."
Vrteski is thrilled with the mix of old and new faces at Glory, saying existing friendships would only serve to strengthen camaraderie within the player group. But he's most excited to be linking up and training once again with close friend Velaphi, even though the pair will be competing for the position between the sticks. "I don't look at it necessarily as competition to be honest," Vrteski said. "He's one of my best mates. I've grown up with him and it's more a case of both of us getting better as we go on, wherever we play."
The arrival of Vrteski has opened the door for veteran 'keeper Frank Juric to move into a coaching role. "I sat down and spoke with Frank about the upcoming season, I said, 'look Tando's got the number one spot and there is a position opening up for a goalkeeping coach'," explained head coach David Mitchell. "He indicated when I signed him that he had an interest in getting into a coaching role so all that came together at a nice time and made it an easy fit for him, for Aleks and the club, so it was I think it's great."
STARTING AGAIN IS OKAY WITH HETT
Adam Hett is looking forward to getting his A-League career back on track after a year out with injury. Winner of last year's Fox8 'Football Superstar' series, Hett was hard at work with Sydney FC when his football dreams were left in crumpled heap last August. "I suffered a knee injury just a few days after the programme went out which revealed I'd won. Obviously I'd been training with Sydney FC for a while before that though," explained Hett to Jon Ritson of 4-4-2 Australia. "I was playing in a youth game when I felt a pop in my right knee. I had hoped it wasn't anything serious but when I went to have it checked out it turned out I'd ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament.
While the nature of the injury devastated the aspiring central midfielder, it's timing could not have possibly been worse. "What made it even tougher was that I'd been told a couple of days before that I was going to be on the bench for the first team in the opening A-League fixture against Melbourne Victory," added Hett, who played youth team football at Perth SC. "From a television point of view it must have seemed as though I'd been given the good news about winning the show on a Friday and been injured the following Monday."
Having endured a corrective operation and the associated rehabilitation, Hett is focused on taking the next step in his career. "It has been hard being away from it all and there are times when you ask yourself are you coming back from this?," he said. "Maybe you look at it from a sense that everything happens for a reason (and) I want it even more than I did before, there's even more drive to succeed. I've been working hard with a running coach, doing three or four sessions a week and I'm actually quicker now than I was before. I've just started kicking a ball again as well. Then I'm looking forward to going back to Sydney FC, hopefully they'll see there's no problem, and I can start again."
IT’S ALL BLUE SKIES FOR DE VANNA
West Australian striker Lisa De Vanna has earned Washington Freedom their first home win of the new Women's Professional Soccer league season, downing Sky Blue 2-1 FC at RFK Stadium on Saturday. In a tale of two halves, Freedom's dominance of the opening period was rewarded with a couple of well taken goals only for Sky Blue, home of Collette McCallum, to take control following the turnaround. De Vanna made good use of her lightning pace to repeatedly dash free of the defence before exiting the game exhausted on 78 minutes.
Freedom defender Cat Whitehill broke the deadlock in the 35th minute by heading in Sonia Bompastor's corner at the near post. De Vanna increased their lead eight minutes later, forcing her way between a couple of defenders and placing past goalkeeper Jenni Branam for her second goal of the season. Sky Blue came into the game after the break, home custodian Erin McLeod making a succession of important saves before Brazil international Rosana capitalised on a 65th minute defensive lapse.
YOUNG SOCCEROOS FINISH THIRD AT TERBORG
A penalty shoot-out defeat of English club Liverpool has earned the Australian Under-20's third spot at the Terborg Toernooi in the Netherlands. And adding to the Young Socceroos success was the selection of attacker Aaron Mooy as Player of the Tournament. Coach Jan Versleijen was extremely happy with the performance of his players throughout the tournament, which consists of games of 20-minute halves. "It was a great result to finish third in the tournament, we built up from the start of the matches and improved as we continued," he said. "I had the opportunity to play a lot of players and everybody got the opportunity to play which was important."
The tournament didn't start well for the Young Socceroos who went down 1-0 to Valencia, but they quickly rebounded by defeating Feyenoord 2-0 with Mooy and Mitch Nichols finding the net. An entertaining 0-0 draw with Atletico Miniero followed before Australia defeated De Graafschap 2-0, Mooy and James Holland scoring, to secure their place in their qualifying group. A couple of goals late in the second half earned a 2-0 semi-final win for Ajax, who went on to win the tournament. With neither Australian nor Liverpool able to score in regulation time the 3rd/4th place play-off match went to penalties where conversions by Brent McGrath, Rob Stambolziev and Nathan Elasi, plus Mark Birighitti's save at the Reds fourth third attempt, earned a memorable victory.
SAGE WANTS A RETURN TO GLORY DAYS (courtesy the ‘West Australian’)
Perth Glory owner Tony Sage is desperate for success - football success. The mining entrepreneur, who brought into the A-league club when it appeared to be at its lowest ebb, has thrown as much financial as he dare into making the 2009/10 season Glory’s best yet in the revamped national competition. He will roll the dice again, in the hope the game’s lost fans will realise that without their support it has little hope of living up to its vast potential.
Without the backing of those who love the world game, the club will continue to flounder. And by the end of the current season it might just be floundering without Sage’s financial input, which has kept Glory chugging along in recent years. Sage does not say much, but another failed season could bring down the curtain on his colourful reign. “I’m singing a new ten-year agreement starting July 1. But that doesn’t mean I can’t sell the shares at some point,” he told Jonathon Cook of the ‘West Australian’.
But if Sage is hedging his bets, he is not done fighting just yet. He has taken swipes at the State Government and Football Federation Australia in the name of club and code, sometimes to the concern of Glory’s public relations machine. When Sage arrived on the scene in 2007, Glory were in danger of death by apathy, as the sporting public turned its collective back on what was a powerhouse of the National Soccer League before its demise in 2004.
At least now, Sage is shaking off the disinterest that sprouted from an FFA-induced holding pattern as the governing body was forced to take ownership following Nick Tana’s exit in the A-League’s formative years. At first Sage was flanked by co-owners Brett McKeown and John Spence, who have since pulled the pin on their football investment. Concerns that Sage would be tempted to do likewise have been unfounded. In fact, Sage has revelled in his role as the one ranger, backing coach David Mitchell’s bid for better players and rubber stamping changes to both the administration of the club and its football department.
Lui Giuliani has replaced Scott Gooch as chief executive, while the club will soon appoint a general manager. The football operations department has been beefed up with the addition of former Glory defender Ante Kovacevic, while Peter Cklamovski has been employed as a full-time strength and conditioning coach. Sage hopes the small things can have big consequences. He doesn’t just want A-League success - he wants to take the club into the Asian Champions League. But first things first.
A good start to the season is crucial to luring fans back, although there should be no such trouble when English Premier League clubs Wolverhampton Wanderers and Fulham come to town in July. While their visit will spike interest in Glory, Mitchell, Sage, Guiliano and company know the first two games away to Adelaide United (7 August) and Wellington Phoenix (16 August) will set the scene for the season. It is a tough task and one that caused angst at Glory. Mitchell was particularly unhappy to travel away twice before returning to the home comforts of Members Equity Stadium to face Newcastle United on 23 August.
Supporters might not yet be doing somersaults over the improvement of the squad, but Mitchell is pleased with progress. Former Premier League defender Andy Todd should tighten what was a leaky back four last season. Todd, who has played for Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers and more recently Derby County, faces a whole set of challenges, including coping with the travel, searing temperatures and helping his family settle in a new country. At 34, time is not on his side, although experience is.
Up front Mitchell has secured Branko Jelic from Bundesliga club Energie Cottbus. The Serbian striker played sparingly for Cottbus this season but Mitchell flew to Germany to watch him train and is confident of his ability to sniff out goals in the A-League. His record in China, where he was prolific for Beijing Guoan, is a positive sign of his ability, and at 32 he might not be too far past his prime. But it is in the middle of the park that Mitchell has been most shrewd, securing fringe Socceroo Jacob Burns to accompany Wayne Shroj, Victor Sikora and Adriano Pellegrino.
The hunt goes on for another striker. Mitchell has had talks with Mile Sterjovski about filling the club’s marquee position, although the Derby County winger is not the only player on Glory’s radar. Whoever it may be, a marquee player of note is essential. “We want to get respect by winning on the pitch,” Sage said. “I think we can develop a culture here. I think the way to bring people to the game is to have players like Andy, Branko and Jacob Burns.”
“There’s been a half-hearted attempt in the last four years to get this club going and to get football in this State going,” continued Sage. “With the players I’ve brought here and underwriting Fulham and Wolves to come here I think every fan out there knows I’m dinkum about bringing success to Glory on and off the pitch. Otherwise I wouldn’t be spending the money.” The coming season will determine how much longer he continued to do so.
WEBB STEPS UP TO THE MARK WITH SWAN
The emergence of 17-year old Shane Webb has been one of the early season success stories for Swan United. Some impressive performances for the reserves led Webb to force his way into the senior line-up and a starting debut in the round five win against Mandurah City, when his on-field contributions were rewarded with further starts against Sorrento and Western Knights. "It's been great this season, and it's good to get opportunity to play first team, although like all players I would like to play more," Webb said. "I think I've played well and deserve my place in the side, it's up to me now to stay there."
An informal chat with coach Paul Lincoln provided the impetus for Webb's move into senior ranks. "Last season I found it very frustrating as I wanted to play senior football and wasn't getting the opportunity," he explained. "I spoke to Linc's and he told me what was required. I believe my attitude this year has improved significantly, and Linc's has noticed that and given me more of a chance, which I hope to continue. He has stood by his statement at the start of the season, when he said - 'If they're good enough I'll play them what ever their age' - by giving me a run in the side, he has shown me encouragement this year."
Lincoln feels confident that Webb, who played juniors at Mundaring, Perth SC and Sorrento, can have a big future in the game should he continue to apply himself and develop his game. "Shane has had to be patient having played a number of games off the bench," said the Swan boss. "He started his first game against Mandurah, and played very well in a position that he is not accustomed to. He is very strong for his age and has a lot of potential, with maturity and the right attitude Shane will develop into a very good player."
Webb made his starting debut against Mandurah as a wing-back, a role somewhat unfamiliar to the teenager. "The wing is not my preferred position, I really would like to play centre back or in the middle of the park but realise I have to be patient as there are good players in these positions," said Webb, who is happy to bide his time behind the likes of club captain Aaron Cole, David McNally and Rob Monterosso. "I am lucky that I can play a number of spots so have more chance of getting a game."
Attending trials in England a couple of years back was a thoroughly enjoyable experience for Webb, and one which only further fuelled his desire to play football professionally. "I went over to a Chelsea camp and then to Rotherham for a couple of weeks. They said they were impressed, however, had already got their youth team for the season," Webb commented. "I really enjoyed the experience and training at that level for two-weeks ... I now need to be consistent and continue to improve my game to secure a permanent first team spot and, hopefully, one day be noticed by the Glory."
FLOREAT EDGE STIRLING IN SEVEN-GOAL THRILLER (by Peter Simcox)
Floreat Athena over-turned a two-goal deficit to emerge 4-3 winners against Stirling Lions in today’s clash at Litis Stadium. In a second half overshadowed by the dismissal of Stirling assistant coach Gary Williams, Branimir Mikulic, Brad Scott and Dean Apelgren found the net to keep Floreat a point behind Premier League pacesetter Perth SC. “The boys dug deep today and we knew going into half time it wasn’t good enough,” said Mikulic, Floreat’s two-goal hero. “We came out and hit them early, and I was in the right place at the right time to score a couple of goals, I was a bit lucky but I’ll take them.”
It took Stirling only 65 seconds to take the lead, Jordan Rhodes firing in at a goal mouth scramble created by a Dean Evans snap shot that was blocked by Vas Vujacic. Floreat countered almost immediately with Daniel Neiderberger’s cross finding Brad Scott whose goal bound effort was deflected wide by Steven Hesketh. The resulting John Migas corner was flicked on by Mikulic for Paul Vatistas but his back post header hit the crossbar with Hesketh clearing from on the line. Mikulic headed high from 6-metres as Floreat continued to apply the pressure, and Migas would have had a couple of goals to his credit had there been a few less coats of paint on the posts.
The hosts were rewarded on 24 minutes, Jason Barrera’s free-kick was well brought down by Mikulic whose shot deflected off Michael Pugliese and rolled into the net. Floreat continued to press and Scott’s long-range shot was saved low by Dino Pacella, then soon after Darko Ilomanoski was alert to block another attempt by Mikulic. So it was against the run of play that Stirling restored their lead just after the half hour when substitute Tom Kennedy curled a superb long-range strike into the top corner. The visitors were quick to assert themselves in the 38th minute added a third, Rhodes sending Jason Mirco down the right and his cross was turned into the net by an unmarked Kennedy at 7-metres.
Michael Roki’s half-time address had the desired effect on Floreat who emerged from the break with steely determination. A minute after the resumption Simon Elton-Bott chanced his luck from distance, the defender’s shot deflecting into the path of Mikulic and as Stirling looked for an offside flag the big attacker stroke forward to fire low past Pacella. And the teams were back on level terms after 51minutes when Scott sent Pacella the wrong way from the penalty spot after Elton-Bott’s pass into the 18-yard box bounced up and struck an unfortunate Pugliese.
The game had been turned on its head and, having used all three substitutes, Stirling were left to play the final half hour with only ten men after Jake Geddes pulled up injured just minutes after coming on. Floreat went for the jugular by forcing four consecutive corners, the last of which saw Apelgren rise high to head in with only eleven minutes remaining. Appeals from the Stirling bench for what appeared a push on a defender were in vain and led to Williams banishment to the stands. Floreat were unlcuky not to score a couple more but Pacella moved well to keep put James Sammut’s low strike as well as a stoppage time free-kick from Migas.
SAGE AMAZED AT GOVERNMENT’S RESPONSE
Perth Glory owner Tony Sage has ruled out spending more money on luring English Premier League teams to Western Australia for an annual ‘feast of football’ unless the State Government supports the plan. Sage, who has underwritten July’s visit to Perth by Wolverhampton Wanderers and Fulham, said he would not risk significant investment in future events without government support.
Sage has given up hope of receiving assistance for Glory’s games with Wolves and Fulham after a request had fallen on deaf ears. “I thought that the State Government would support it,” Sage said. “We pencilled in around $250,000 given the significance. But I don’t think they understand the significance. They don’t understand how big the Premier League is and how much interest there is.”
Eventscorp executive director David van Ooran said Glory’s approach about matches came too late. “In addition, on the basis of the information supplied, Eventscorp is of the view that the proposed matches do not deliver the required economic impact and media benefits that are required to receive significant State funding,” he said.
Sage said the cost of bringing the teams to Perth had blown out from an estimated $1.6million to $2 million, moist of which would be spent on hosting Wolves for almost two weeks. He is sweating on the matches attracting crowds of 20,000 to members Equity Stadium on both nights to cover the costs of the venture. Demand for tickets has been high and Sage is adamant financial benefits will flow in the WA economy from interstate and overseas visitors, including a large contingent of Wolves players and officials.
DEBUTANT MCMURRAY WINS IT FOR PERTH (by Chris Correia, Football West)
Perth SC recovered from being two-goals behind to inflict a 3-2 loss on Mandurah City in a physical evening encounter at Hyundai Stadium. But the game was not without controversy, Mandurah goalkeeper Phil Straker issued a straight red card with fourteen minutes remaining and it was soon after that Ian McMurray bagged the deciding goal. The match was an even battle throughout the first half with both teams having their fair share of chances to grab the opener. Mandurah captain Andy Brown had the hosts best chance when his shot rocketed off the right post, while Perth’s midfield maestro Antonio Naglieri had several efforts denied by Straker. The nil-all half-time scoreline wasn’t a reflection of the chances each side had and it was expected the goals were going to flow in the second half.
Mandurah’s opening goal came from the most unlikely of sources, Ryan Townsend, whose diving header flashed past ‘keeper Simon Madaschi after the defender charged forward to meet a cross from the right by Hayden Doyle. Six more minutes had passed when Trent Kay’s tackle on Craig Young led referee Joe Fusari to point to the spot from where Phil O’Callaghan sent Madaschi the wrong way and double the hosts lead. Perth responded in the 63rd minute when substitute Geneveo Human’s effort was well saved by Straker, who could do little as Phil Arnold pushed in the rebound from close-range. A flurry of yellow cards soon followed as the match became increasingly physical.
A collision between Straker and Naglieri led to a lengthy consultation between referee and linesman, after which Fusari ruled Straker’s indiscretion worthy of a red card. Young was sacrificed as veteran Michael Green took over between the posts but his first action was to pick Todd Howarth’s equalising spot kick out of the net. Four minutes later Perth completed a remarkable comeback when McMurray sent the ball past Green for a second time, swinging the game well and truly in the visitors favour. There was not much more to come from either side with Graham Normanton’s team prevailing in a thriller that keeps them on top of the table.
KNIGHTS KEEP PACE WITH LEADERS (by Peter Simcox)
Western Knights extended their unbeaten run to seven games by casting aside Swan United 2-1 on a chilly afternoon at Nash Field. Goals in the first half from Okwy Diamondstar and Mario Marcinko gave the Knights a handy two-goal buffer by the break, and although Damian Scali pulled one back the hosts held on cement their place amongst the top three. “Two-nil is always a difficult lead and we spoke about it at half time. I was disappointed we didn’t keep a clean sheet, which I thought we deserved today,” said Knights coach Paul Price. “But with their late goal it made us hang on at the end, but I thought we thoroughly deserved the points today.”
The wind was strong as kick-off approached and it was home team who had it at their backs throughout the first half. However, Swan made the better start and Paul Dugdale’s hesitation to shoot saw an early chance go begging, while a scoring volley by team captain Aaron Cole had goalkeeper Frazer Siddall at full-stretch. The Knights then began to take control and were unlucky not to go ahead on 16 minutes when Cormac Dawson’s cross passed through the 18-yard box with no team mate able to get boot to ball. Ten minutes later they got the result they sought, David Micevski’s blasting a free-kick through the defensive wall and although Cory Hugo produced a stunning save Diamondstar reacted quickest by firing in the loose ball.
Buoyed at going ahead, the Knights went in search of a second goal. David Micevski found elder brother Daniel Micevski on the right but his powerful shot was pushed away by Hugo. With the traffic all one-way, it came as no surprise that the gap was widened on 35 minutes, Marcinko firing in his eighth goal of the campaign at close-range after David Micevski’s free-kick ricocheted off the defensive wall. And the Knights could have had their third on the stroke of half-time when David Micevski’s in-swinging corner was spilled by Hugo who was thankful to have Brendan Craig clear from on the line.
The visitors needed to lift after the break and they very nearly got it when Dugdale’s superb cross from the left found Brendan Knox, whose header beat Siddall but came off the bar with Perich hitting the follow-up wide. The Knights pressed forward and on the hour Marcinko was thwarted when Hugo came quickly off his line. In the 65th minute Dawson played a cross from the left to the far post where Daniel Micevski fired into the net, however, celebrations were cut short by the assistant referee who was flagging for offside. Moments later Swan had a strong penalty appeal turned down by referee Kevin Taylor after a cross from the left appeared to strike the hand of defender Stuart Ferguson.
Chances gave to appear at both ends as the game opened up. Siddall tipped over the bar an in-swinging corner by Knox, and two minutes later Seb Trim’s long-range blast went just past the post. The Knights twice went close to sealing the game out, substitute David Pepper’s good shot was well saved by Hugo and Daniel Micevski’s fine effort from 9-metres flashed just wide. Swan grabbed a lifeline in the 90th minute, Scali angling his header into the bottom corner from a Rob Monterosso cross to set up a frenetic finale. Sidall did well to punch clear another dangerous Monterosso cross in stoppage time, while the final drama had David Annall clear Dugdale’s neatly chipped free-kick.
CANNING CRUSHED BY JOONDALUP LATE SHOW (by Michael Bate, Football West)
ECU Joondalup struck four times in the last twenty minutes to run out comfortable 4-1 winners over Canning City at Willetton Sportsman Club. Garin Collins spearheaded the visitor’s assault with two goals in four minutes that complimented Scott Bushby’s earlier strike and Ryan Williams lucky late sealer. “It’s a difficult place to come - it’s a tight pitch which didn’t allow us to play our usual flowing football,” said a clearly delighted Steve Amphlett, coach of Joondalup. “What pleased me was the way we adapted our game, and the teams attitude was fantastic in the second half.”
With English import Charlie Comyn-Platt succumbing to a last minute injury, Joondalup’s defence looked nervy in the opening half an hour with Canning’s deployment of the long ball causing them problems. And so it was through such a much that the hosts went ahead in the 14th minute when Daniel Trevisiol delicately lobbed over advancing goalkeeper Davvyd Jones after latching onto a pass floated over Joondalup’s back four. It was a thoroughly deserved lead for Canning who made their opponents look second best for most of the half. Joondalup’s best chance of the period fell to Tommy Amphlett, who found himself one-on-one with Devon Spence but he wasted the chance by firing directly at the ‘keeper.
Joondalup’s dominance of the second half was total but it looked like it might be one of those days until the 70th minute when Canning’s failure to clear Scott Blackmore’s cross was punished by Bushby, whose powerful shot on the turn gave Spence no chance. This was just the spark the visitors needed and twelve minutes later minutes Collins beat Spence at his near post in a one-on-one courtesy of Bushby’s quickly taken free-kick. A minute later Williams added himself to the scoresheet when his shot took a horrible deflection and looped over an unlucky ‘keeper. Collins rounded out the victory in the 86th minute with a curling free-kick from 22-metres that past an unsighted Spence.
RICHMAN STEALS INGLEWOOD VICTORY (by Chris Leitch, Football West)
Dannie Richman struck a dramatic stoppage time winner to snatch Inglewood United all three points from today’s encounter with Cockburn City at Dalmatinac Park. The game looked destined to end without score when substitute Richman chipped in to propel Inglewood into sixth position on the table. Although satisfied with the win, Inglewood boss Alan Vest bemoaned his teams’ inability to convert their chances. “I thought we played very well in the first half and let’s face it, we should have been two or three up, we had some very good chances and didn’t take them,” he said. “Second half, not quite as good, they came into the game, and we started dilly-dallying on the ball and let them in for a couple of chances.”
A stiff, icy breeze blowing down the length of the field made for a difficult game of very few genuine goal scoring chances. The best of the first half came the way of visiting attacker Albert Osei-Tutu who was celarly disappointed with his placement too close to goalkeeper Nick Feely after getting on the end of an excellent cross from Kevin Griffiths. Oliver Taseski was a little more busy at the opposite end, tipping Aaron Dos Santos’ powerful long-range shot around the post, and later producing an acrobatic leap to deny youngster Cameron Edwards. Both sides conjured a smattering of further openings but rarely was it that either looked like getting the breakthrough.
Inglewood won three corners in succession early in the second half but their failure to capitalise on any wasn’t a good sign for the small band of travelling supporters. As the game wore chances on goal became increasingly fewer and it became apparent that one goal would be enough to settle the contest. And so it was when, a minute into stoppage time, Richman broke free of his marker to latch on to a Griffiths long ball which the young midfielder chipped over the on-coming ‘keeper and into the net. There was still enough time for Cockburn to mount one final assault but Aaron Dos Santos’ couldn’t find the target when called upon.
Cockburn coach Scott Miller praised the effort of Feely after the final whistle. “Nick Feely was outstanding, far and above the man of the match for us ... Cameron Edwards I thought did well and Jason dos Santos, he’s had a couple of matches back now from a two-year injury,” said Miller, who indicated more work was needed in every facet of Cockburn’s game. “It’s a shame we had a schoolboy goal to give it away, it’s always hard to take in the last minute. At times we looked really good, which is a real positive for me as I’ve been here a week now, but the great stuff was undone by the stuff we weren’t 100% on.”
GULLS BACK IN BUSINESS (by Tim Lefort, Football West)
Sorrento went on a second half goal scoring spree to comfortably see off Armadale 4-1 in windy conditions at Percy Doyle Reserve. Goals soon after the interval by Shaun Kilkelly and Todd Harnwell put the Gulls in charge with further efforts by Lewis Flatt and Daniel Darras ensured the reigning champions collected only their second league victory of the season. Steve Neville was full of praise for his side following their indifferent start to the season. “I couldn’t have asked any more from them to be honest,” he said. “Today we hunted in packs. We’ve looked lethargic in recent weeks but today everyone was on the ball, everyone was on their toes. The second ball we picked up, defenders put their bodies on the line, the boys up front worked hard to close people down.”
With both teams struggling near the foot of the table and in desperate need of points, it was Armadale that created the first attempt after just a couple of minutes but Gary Faria’s effort from just outside the 18-yard box flew wide. At the other end, Paul Cunningham’s long-range pile-driver didn’t clear the crossbar by much, then Flatt got the ball stuck under his feet after Harnwell had done well to cross from the right. Twice in quick succession the hosts thought they’d gone in front but on both occasions Steve McDonald had headers ruled out for offside. Sandwiched between these was a low strike by Darras that was straight at goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock.
Sorrento custodian Neil Young had a scare on the half hour when he was unable to take a Faria free-kick but his blushed were spared when his defence cleared the danger. Play soon returned to the opposite end where Harnwell was off target with a curling effort from the edge of the area. The home team went agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock after 40 minutes with Michael Ord and Kilkelly both having goal bound shots blocked by a desperate defence. Brad Hassell’s team responded strongly as Mo Atak volleyed acrobatically wide, and on the stroke of half-time Young made an excellent save to keep Jason Goodwin’s close-range effort.
The visitors began the second period where they left off, Atak driving high from 14-metres and soon after Noa Oishi was only inches away from reaching a cross from the left. Sharrock came to Armadale’s rescue twice in quick succession as he denied Harnwell and Thomas. However, there was nothing the Reds ‘keeper could do on 54 minutes when Kilkelly was left unmarked to powerfully head in from a Thomas corner. Five minutes later it became two-nil, Darras’ deep cross from the right was knocked back across the face of goal by Thomas to present Harnwell the simple task of putting the ball over the line from all of a metre.
Any hope the visitors had of getting back into the game vanished after 75 minutes when they conceded a farcical goal, Sharrock’s heavy touch pushing the ball to Flatt who could not miss from 6-metres. The game was petering out when Andy Pomfrett pulled one back for Armadale with a first-time drive from the edge of the area. Then in the space of two minutes the visitors were reduced to nine men, Kevin Bissett was the first to go for an unlucky second yellow card then Liam Harvey followed following a two-footed challenge. There was still time for one final goal, Darras finishing clinically after a wonderful one-two with Harnwell.
WANNEROO SINKS BAYSWATER
Wanneroo City consolidated top place in the First Division by downing Bayswater City 3-2 on a windy afternoon at Kingsway Sporting Complex. Gerry McEwan, coach of Wanneroo, sung the praises of his players who worked hard after going a goal down midway through the first half. "Considering the pressure we had exerted in the opening thirty minutes, especially from Rowdy Yates' and Matt Donlevy's set pieces, it was an injustice that we had gone behind," he said. "The lads responded particularly well to the injury to Matt (Emery) and picked up their intensity from that point forward."
A neat interchange of passes between Brad McDonald, Robbie Cuthbert and Brian Cairney set-up the games first opening for Rowdy Yates, whose 12th minute shot was saved by Gianni Papalia. Matt Donlevy went close to putting the hosts ahead midway through the half with a dead ball which Papalia did well to tip over the crosbar. The loss of central defender Matt Emery to injury had an unsettling effect on Wanneroo and their failure to reorganise quickly allowed Caesar Gonzalez to head Bayswater in at a corner on 34 minutes.
Unconcerned at going behind, Wanneroo continued to ply the pressure and four minutes later an error by Papalia was pounced on by Brad McDonald, who from a tight angle found the gap between post and defender Mark Donelly to restore parity. Half-time was looming large when Cuthbert's brilliant volley at the back post gave Papalia no chance following a cross from the left by Yates. Amazingly, there was still enough time for Wanneroo to add their third, Cuthbert this time glancing wide of Papalia's out-stretched glove after meeting Brad McDonald's delivery.
Bayswater emerged from the break with renewed enthusiasm and quickly set about the task of finding a way to break down a resolute home defence. Paul Hickey was winning everything that came his way and spearing the visitors forward at every possible opportunity, while debutant Gonzalez anchored the side defensively. Bayswater did eventually pull a goal back on 84 minutes when Tommy Jones found space on the left to loft his shot over 'keeper Daniel Holgate. And although they worked tirelessly in the remaining minutes, there was not going to be a dream comeback from Bayswater with Wanneroo holding out to secure the points.
DULL ENCOUNTER GOES TO PHOENIX (courtesy South West Phoenix)
Andy Cowley celebrated his 150th game for South West Phoenix by helping his team to a 3-1 victory against Morley Windmills at Westrac Stadium. Played in blustery conditions and on a rain-sodden surface, the game was very much a battle of attrition with Phoenix creating regular goal scoring opportunities while depriving Morley of their own. Phoenix took a 30th minute lead, Steve Suttie whipping in a low cross which evaded David Rodgers at the near post but not Rory Binnie who made no mistake from 8-metres. Binnie was then denied his second by the crossbar after being set-up by Rodgers. For their part, Morley were seemingly content to sit back and soak up the pressure through the half with the only time they threatened being at set pieces.
It looked as though the game was finally going to spark into life when Mitch Castrilli's shot from just outside the 18-yard box came back off the inside of the post to be cleared by Dylan Stevens. But while Morley were committing more men forward, they now not only had to content with the Phoenix defence but also the disadvantage of playing into the wind. So no one was surprised when the hosts posted their second after 76 minutes, Binnie releasing Suttie down the left and his cross was powerfully sent into the net by Rodgers from 7-metres. Rodgers soon returned the favour centring for Suttie to slotting in goal number three on the counter attack. The goal of the game came in stoppage time when Scott McIlroy put the ball with Mitch Brydon, who brilliantly turned his marker and shot into the far top corner from the top of the area.
DIANELLA CONTINUE ON THEIR MERRY WAY (courtesy Dianella White Eagles)
A workman-like 4-1 defeat of hoe side Queens Park has extended Dianella White Eagles' unbeaten run to five games. The first real chance of a lively opening came via a 15th minute counterattack in which Riste Stefoski sent clear Jon Greenwood but his attempt was gathered by goalkeeper Robert Woolmer. Dianella showed by far the more enterprise with Greenwood heading just wide and a scorching Stefoski volley flashed the wrong side of the post. But traffic was not all one-way, Brutus Kuku's weaving run down the left narrowly evading Joshua Tumoe and Stefoski moved quickly to clear. The deadlock was broken on the stroke of half-time when Stefoski's pin-point cross was powerfully sent into the net by Goran Radanovic.
The second half was ten minutes old when Stefan Drca's corner was met by a bullet-like header from Igor Ilijic to double Dianella's lead. Queens Park's response came just three minutes after, substitute Joseph Wilondja heading explosively in at a corner. Stefan Drca then whipped in a delightful near post cross which allowed Njegic to glance in goal number three for the visitors. Njegic should have had another when his shot bounce over the line after striking the underside of the crossbar but match officials amazingly waved for play to continue. Justin Scarvaci was called upon to palm wide Fiado Mugaba's effort as Queens Park sought to claw their way back into the game. But it wasn't to be and four minutes from the end Drca unleashed a long-range rocket which beat Woolmer to cap a hard-fought victory.
HONOURS SHARED BY FORRESTFIELD AND BALCATTA
Forrestfield United came from behind to record a 2-2 draw with Balcatta at Hartfield Park. The ball had been in motion only 20 seconds when Andrew Harold's soft challenge on Bobby Klenkoski led referee Hugh Best to surprisingly award the visitors a penalty, which was duly converted by the Balcatta striker. The visitors strengthened their hold on the game in the 24th minute, Ashley Rosendale working his way past a couple of defenders to slot into the net to the right of goalkeeper Brad Eiffe. The game then ebbed and flowed from one end to the other, both teams testing the other defences without really creating too many clear cut opportunities. Rydeen Botha put Forrestfield back in the game five minutes from the break by netting another controversial penalty, this one awarded for a foul on Kynon Melling.
Paul Dundo should have restored Balcatta's two-goal buffer but placed wide after being found unmarked by Andy O'Neill at a corner. A tense finish was set-up when Martin Barnes' ball into the 18-yard box eluded all except Jordan Hart, who poked in at the back post with twelve minutes to go. With the teams trading attacks in search of a winner, Drazen Saric brilliantly flicked John Hunter's drive onto the crossbar. At the other end O'Neill blasted wide with only Eiffe to beat, then Klenkoski wanted too much time inside the area and was robbed of a shot by Craig Anderson. Neither side would have been happy about gaining only the single point but at the end of the day a draw was the fairest outcome.
PERTH ADD MCMURRAY TO ROSTER
State striker Ian McMurray will play the remainder of the season out of Dorrien Gardens after agreeing to join Perth SC. McMurray, a former Scotland youth international, is expected to make his Perth debut today at Mandurah City after accepting an offer that was simply to good to refuse. "Perth are a massive club and very professional and I felt it was an opportunity I couldn't refuse," he said. "I hope to add a bit of experience to their squad and hopefully help them to a few trophies this season. It's a fresh challenge for me, a new club, and I can freshen myself up and hopefully bag a few goals ... I'm looking forward to the challenge."
McMurray has called ECU Joondalup home for much of his five years in Western Australia, so when Perth came knocking he thought long and hard before deciding it was time for change. "The decision to leave ECU was a massive one," said McMurray, who played for Dunfermline Athletic, Linlithgow Rose and Fauldhouse United amongst others in Scotland. "I've been there for four years and been captain for three. I've got very close to the players, committee and made a number of friends so it was a decision I thought hard about."
Perth boss Graham Normanton considers McMurray a vital piece in Perth's artillery. "We believe we have a weakness in that area and Ian will fix that up hopefully. He's a striker with a bit of presence and he will give us another dimension up-front and give strength in the penalty area, so I'm really happy to get him on board," said the coach. "I asked Ian last year to sign for us but he was heading home to get married and we didn't get him then. We contacted him about joining us this week and he asked to sleep on his answer as it was a big decision. I was surprisingly happy when he got back to us with a positive answer and he goes into the squad for today's game."
THE PREMIER LEAGUE IN PREVIEW
The highlight of the seventh round of Premier League fixtures is the blockbuster showdown between Mandurah City and Perth SC at Hyundai Stadium (7.00pm). Mandurah have so far been far from impressive in front of their own supporters but boss Stuart Currie has his fingers crossed that will change tomorrow and his team cement their place in the top four. “We always seem too struggled at home against the so called weaker teams, so hopefully the boys will be up for it this week,” he said. “If we put in the same effort as last week I’m sure we can take maximum points … on our day we know we can beat anybody.”
Even though Perth has not lost in thirteen games coach Graham Normanton considers Mandurah to be a mammoth test for his side. “You look at Mandurah’s list and they’ve got a good strong squad, so we’re expecting a tough game,” said Normanton, who is only too well aware that everyone wants to the one that ends Perth’s unbeaten run. “They have struggled at home in the league but like most teams they seem to grow another leg when they play us. We know they will be up for the game and we’ve got to go there and match that.”
Western Knights are one of the competition’s form teams and tomorrow they host Swan United (3.00pm). A hat-trick last time out by Mario Marcenko took the youngster’s tally to seven goals in six games, and with brothers David Micevski and Daniel Micevski hard at work in the engine room the Knights understandably have been installed as pre-game favourite. Swan have never won a regular season game at Nash Field but head into the match full of confidence following the signing of Australian Under-17 international Million Butshiire and former Burnley player Paul Dugdale.
Scott Miller’s first game back in charge of Cockburn City brings him up against his former coach, Alan Vest, who these days is at the helm of Inglewood United (3.00pm). Cockburn, who return to Dalmatinac Park for the first time in a month, have performed strongly over the opening months of the season and the face Jason Dos Santos is coming on in leaps and bounds only bode well for the club. Inglewood by comparison have started the year slowly and big efforts from defensive mainstay Shane Pryce as well as veteran Kevin Griffiths and State player Jason Colli will be required this weekend.
ECU Joondalup journeys to at Willetton Sportsman Club where Canning City (3.00pm) provide the opposition. The home team gave very good account of themselves last time out and the contributions of captain Paul Van Dongen, Jon Mathers, Simon Versaico and Rory Mouttet are absolutely crucial to their chances of picking up another three points. Joondalup coach Steve Amphlett is hoping newly arrived imports Chris Emms, Jamie Watt and Dan Allen can settle in quickly and gel with the existing player group. Garin Collins continues to work tirelessly up front while youngster Tommy Amphlett has also been impressing.
It’s a really six-pointer at Percy Doyle Reserve where Sorrento host Armadale (3.00pm). The Reds hopes of registering their first win of the season received a major boost during the week with the return of English striker James Robinson, who comes into contention along with Peter Lord, Nao Oshi and Mo Atak. Unfortunately, these pluses are off-set by the continued absence of defender Andrew Bowyer and Ryan Pearson through suspension. Sorrento will rely heavily on Neil Young, Shaun Kilkelly, Glen Thomas and captain Todd Harnwell as they attempt to kick-start their season.
Litis Stadium is the venue for this week’s Sunday game between second placed Floreat Athena and bottom of the table Stirling Lions (3.00pm). Daniel Neiderberger got Floreat out of gaol last week with a last-gasp winner at Inglewood against whom midfielder pair Josip Magdic and Jason Barrera were quite simply sensational. Stirling fought valiantly only to go down by the odd goal to Perth. Dino Pacella is back in contention after serving a four-game suspension, while Marc Anthony is hopeful of being fit after limping out of last weeks defeat early on.
THE FIRST DIVISION IN PREVIEW
The pick of this weekend's First Division action is the top of the table clash between Wanneroo City and Bayswater City at Kingsway Sporting Complex. "The league is very close and Bayswater are one of about eight teams with aspirations to win the league," said Wanneroo coach Gerry McEwan. "We have a very promising young team who enjoy their Saturday afternoons together and hopefully we'll provide a good challenge for an experienced Bayswater side. On the team front, Glenn Moore has returned to Northern Ireland for his fathers birthday and Jake Kenny returned to ECU Joondalup during the week."
Bayswater may have scored 19 times in their past four outings but boss Michael Di Fulvio knows goals will not flow as freely tomorrow. "Saturday presents a massive task for our squad. Wanneroo are a strong team across the park and rightfully deserve to be table leaders," he said. "It's always tough to head to Wanneroo and get any points so we'll need a big effort from all the boys if we are to be successful this week. Both teams have been in good form of late with some good results so I expect a very tough encounter."
The league's highest scoring attack comes up against its tightest defence when second-placed South West Phoenix goes head-to-head with fifth-placed Morley Windmills in Bunbury. "This is an absolutely vital match with the winner potentially going top of the league and the loser dropping back," said Phoenix's 200-game veteran Steve Suttie. "Morley has had a couple of slip-ups of late but they'll come down to Bunbury confident. We had a good win at Rockingham and want to go into the week's break brought on by the Cup round with another three points."
Morley boss Tom Kilkelly is under no illusions as to the magnitude of the task facing his team coming off successive losses. "It's another hard game away to Phoenix but we have enough character to get us back on track. Even a defeat this week will not mean the end of our season, there's along way to go yet," he said. "Losing a few players to injury and other clubs this week hasn't helped us, so coming away with anything from South West is going to be a bonus - even if its only getting a drink off Mickie!"
Dianella White Eagles could go as high as second following their visit to Queens Park, who'll have Mauro Marchione at the helm for the first time. There's an intriguing mid-table tussle at Hartfield Park where Forrestfield United have home ground advantage against Balcatta. Fremantle Spirit halted a three-game losing run last week by knocking in four unanswered goals so head into their home clash with Rockingham City full of confidence. Ashfield must take maximum points away at Gosnells City or face the very real danger of being cut well adrift with Queens Park at the foot of the table.
FIFTY NOT OUT FOR ARMADALE KEEPER
Few would disagree Cyril Sharrock has been one of the shining lights in Armadale's otherwise flat start to the new season. The 31-year old goalkeeper has been a regular fixture between the posts since moving to Alfred Skeet Oval and, should he be selected for Saturday's game with Sorrento, Sharrock will reach the 50-game milestone. "It's a massive game on Saturday, with a few key players missing it will make the game hard for us but we are hoping to get something from the game. I'm hoping to mark my 50th game with a win, and a clean sheet would top it off," he said. "I can't believe the 50th game has come around so quick, it seems only a short time ago I was starting off for the barmy Army."
Former national league midfielder Brad Hassell has some quality players at his disposal and the now Armadale coach has been adding to his on-field options by the week. "The team is definitely as good as I've seen it in the years I've been at the club," Sharrock said. "It will take a few games for the new faces to settle in, but the new signings are a positive for the club. In the last couple of weeks we have had a few tough games and have been unlucky not to take the points as we've played some good football ... now we need to start getting more consistent."
Armadale's problems are highlighted by their last two results - a fighting draw with an undefeated Perth SC that was followed by a four-goal hiding from Mandurah City. "The Perth game was a great result for us, we worked hard with only nine players after the two sending's off. Perth put us under a lot of pressure in the second half but the lads held out for a good result in the end," commented Sharrock. "Mandurah was very disappointing, we didn't seem to have the same work rate. But with a couple of good training sessions under our belt and the addition of James Robinson up front, we are all set for Sorrento."
MARCHIONE COMES TO THE AID OF QUEENS PARK
Queens Park has moved quickly by appointing Mauro Marchione to the senior coaching position. Marchione takes up the reins from recently departed Peter Johnson and club president Mal Brown is hopeful Queens Park can now turn their season around and secure their semi-professional status beyond the current winter. “We haven’t been to far away in some of the games this season; it’s just been a lack of experience in the side giving away late soft goals that made the scores, blow out,” he said. “We’ve had to blood a number of youngsters this season, with some of the older and experience players leaving last year and some not returning this … we know it’s going to be a battle but we’re going to fight our way through it.”
Brown, who played State League football at Queens Park, Gosnells City and Ferndale United during the 1980’s, has every confidence Marchione will add some much needed steel to the side. “After our conversations with Mauro we knew he was the right man for the job. He’s played at a high level of football and has coached mainly junior roles but his knowledge of the game is second to none,” said the president. “He was highly recommended by some people, but obviously a misdemeanour that caused a (two-year) suspension from the game was thought about. He is looking to get back into the game and we believe he’s the man to help us.”
Marchione concedes the task ahead of him is big but one he is more than willing to take on. “I read on your web site (footballwa.net) last week that this was the toughest coaching position in the league, but after what happen over the last couple of years this is a great challenge for me,” he said. “I’ve already spoken to a number of players who have said they will join us and they will strengthen the squad. The team will take time to adjust to my coaching style, but I’m confident we will have a much better second half of the season.”
Queens Park’s new coach has already identified a few things he’d like to work on after watching last Saturday’s loss to Fremantle Spirit from the stands. “In the second half you could see the side didn’t have the fitness at all and stopped running with twenty minutes to go,” commented Marchione. “Fremantle are a good side and are well coached by Marc Wingell, but to be honest they had two of their better players missing and we didn’t capitalise. But our squad is very young, the oldest player is 24, and with the new players coming in and the enthusiasm of these younger players we hope to start to pick up points and move away from the foot of the table.”
VRTESKI BACK IN THE NICK OF TIME
Aleks Vrteski is set to re-sign with Perth Glory after cutting short his stay in Macedonia where his club has been embroiled in a match-fixing scandal. Vrteski was coming to the end of a two-year stint Macedonian top flight side FK Pobeda when the club was found guilty of manipulating the outcome of a UEFA Champions League game and banned from European competition for eight years. Although Pobeda have continued to compete in the domestic league, Vrteski and his team mates were denied payments and the 20-year old decided to cut his losses and leave. “The club was caught in the scandal and players weren’t getting paid on time,” explained Vrteski. “In the end we hadn’t been paid for a couple of months and we were all living out of our own pockets.”
The silver lining for Vrteski is that the timing could not have been better. His return to Perth coincided with the start of Glory’s pre-season and, having immediately resumed training with the club, will copete with Tando Velaphi for the spot between the posts. Veteran ‘keeper Frank Juric is expected to concentrate of a coaching role this summer. “There’s a very good atmosphere within the club,” said Vrteski. “Comparing to two years ago when I was at Glory to now, it’s a different place. There are a lot of the same faces but the club is definitely moving forward now and you can feel there’s motivation in the playing group. There’s been some good signings and everything is looking positive. I’m not jumping the gun, but so far so good.”
SHORT PASSES (with The Insider)
This week's lucky number is 7 for that's how many coaching changes there have been in the opening six rounds of the 2009 State League season. First Division outfit Queens Park is responsible three of the seven changes, which means they've had more coaches than goals scored! The other clubs that have gone through similar early season upheavals are Cockburn City, Inglewood United, ECU Joondalup and Bayswater City.
This evening's episode of Stateline (ABC TV, 7.30pm) will be showing a current affairs piece on the Sadiqi family, a refugee family from Afghanista who were re-united with the assistance of Stirling Lions. While eldest son Hussein is the focus of the story, his 21-year old brother Murteza, currently playing reserves at Stirling is also featured. The Stateline item includes footage taken at last weekend's Stirling-Perth SC game as well as a behind the scenes glimpse inside the change rooms at half-time.
Australian youth international Million Butshiire has joined Swan United. The 17-year old striker is expected to fill a major void in the final third of the park for coach Paul Lincoln. A refugee from war-torn Congo, Butshiire hadn't played organised football until four years ago when he joined Perth SC. His talents were quickly rewarded with State junior and Australian Under-17 honours, and a place in last season's National Training Centre.
Scottish midfielder Marco Pelosi has cut short his time at Perth SC. Signed in pre-season, Pelosi slotted effortlessly into the Perth line-up where his high calibre made him a favourite with the Dorrien Gardens faithful. The former Hearts player jets out of Perth this weekend with partner, Amanda, who has fallen pregnant, with the happy couple keen on having the baby in Scotland.
Inglewood United has appointed former Perth Glory and State team boss Alan Vest as head coach until the end of the season. Vest has agreed to stay on with the club after taking over last week on an interim basis following the departure of Lee Bamber. It is understood reserve team coach Kevin Brophy will act in a caretaker capacity for ten days early next month when Vest fulfils coaching commitments in Malaysia.
Stories of player unrest have surfaced at First Division Morley Windmills with Gary Murdoch and Joe Woodin walking out on the club mid-week. It is believed Murdoch is poised to sign for Balcatta whilst Woodin is said to be bound for Kingsway Olympic. Balcatta have offset the arrival of Murdoch with departure of Christian Debarro, who is believed to be considering his options.
Dianella White Eagles further strengthened their championship credentials this week with the signing of Jon Greenwood, the 2007 First Division Golden Boot winner. The much-travelled 27-year old moved to Ashfield during the summer but has decided to head back to the club at which he scored in excess of 50 goals across the past two seasons.
Singapore's Under-14 national team will visit Perth during the first week of June to play a series of friendlies against local opposition. The Singapore youngsters are scheduled to play three games, two against State junior teams with the other against a team from Perth SC. The friendlies will be a chance for local players to test themselves in the lead up to the National Youth Championships in October.
Please contact 'The Insider' via TheInsider@footballwa.net if you have any club news or gossip, transfer rumours or general scuttlebutt for inclusion in our Short Passes.
HIGH FIVE FOR PERTH BOYS
Five young West Australians have been chosen to represent Australia at the upcoming AFC Under-13 Festival of Football tournament in Malaysia. Leo Athanasiou (Cockburn City), Benjamin Hombert (Inglewood United), Matthew Ntoumenopoulos (ECU Joondalup), Thomas Beadling (Perth SC) and Daniel De Silva (Stirling Lions) made the 22-player squad selected at a national training camp earlier this month. “We had six in the initial squad of 30 and to have five in the final 22 is a sensational result and shows that these boys have the character, quality and skills to hopefully go on from here and be future stars,” said State junior coach Warren Grieve.
The Australian Under-13 squad for the Festival of Football tournament, which commences this Sunday, is Richard Blanco, Noah Chianese, Vincent Giannini, Brandon Lundy, Kevin Ly, Jordan Nadalin, Jaiden Walker (New South Wales), Aiden Naughton, Conor O'Neill, Jordan Thurtell (Queensland), Jerome Dunphy, Christopher Skull, Benjamin Warland (South Australia), Jordan Brown, Dimitar Mitkov, Milos Ridesic, Okan Nabi Tuna (Victoria), Leo Athanasiou, Thomas Beadling, Daniel De Silva, Benjamin Hombert and Matthew Ntoumenopoulos (West Australia).
AUSTRALIA WAS ALWAYS MY FIRST CHOICE : WILLIAMS
Rhys Williams is delighted to commit to Australia. The classy 20-year old defender played ten times for the Welsh under-21 side only to pledge himself to the Socceroos last week after meeting with national team coach Pim Verbeek. "I had some great times with Wales and I don't regret my time with the U21s," Williams revealed. "But once Australia showed a firm interest in me there was only one way it was going to go. Pim told me all about his plans for the future and made it clear that I was going to be a part of them, so I was keen to get all the paperwork sorted as soon as possible."
Perth-born Williams qualifies to play for Wales through his grandmother and could also represent England or India, the home nations of his father and mother. But he feels closest to the country he grew up in and is looking forward to pulling on the green and gold of the Socceroos. "I was born and bred in Australia, so it is natural that I should want to play for them," he said. "I can't wait to get involved for the first time. We have a few friendlies during the summer and it would be great if I could make my first start then." Williams could make his Australia debut as early as next month when they meet Qatar, Bahrain and Japan.
CRAIG IMPRESSING AT SWAN
When striker Brendan Craig joined Swan United a week into the season he was hoping to bang a few goals away for a club that had just been beaten 6-0 by Cockburn City. But scoring goals was the last thing on the 19-year old's mind when he debuted at left back, where his pace and close control have been put to good use. "I prefer to play as a striker but I'm prepared to play were Paul (Lincoln) wants me to play," he said. "I've played in many positions in football so I'm enjoying the role at the moment and playing first team football."
Prior to last month Craig had played his entire career for Inglewood so it comes as no surprise that he was worn when the offer to join Swan came up. "I left the club with a heavy heart, but I wasn't getting a game in the first team for some reason - they obviously didn't like the way I played - but that's all in the past," said Craig, who played for the State as a junior. "I'm a Swans player now and I'll be doing my best for the black and whites."
Lincoln shortlisted Craig for recruitment in pre-season and is pleased with how the youngster has fitted in at the club. "Brendon has been terrific since his arrival, he has fitted perfectly into left back," said the coach. "Being left footed he provides the team with the balance needed. He is strong on the ball and has pace, he defends well and has the ability to get forward. He is good also at taking players on and he can throw the ball a fair way."
Since his arrival in the Swan Valley Craig has seen the team slowly transform and begin to turn their season around, highlighted by the recent win at Mandurah City. "I knew we were improving each week and Paul had tinkered around with the side to get the right mix," said the teenager. "We've also had a few injuries which doesn't help, but the squad is looking stronger and the inclusion of defender Ross Holtom and the return of David Perich will improve it more."
JONES PINS HIS HOPES ON A MIRACLE
Middlesbrough goalkeeper Brad Jones is refusing to give up hope of a “miraculous” escape from relegation. The Teessiders head into Sunday’s final-day trip to West Ham United knowing their fate was as good as sealed by Saturday’s home loss to Aston Villa. To stave off relegation Boro must win at Upton Park by a healthy margin and hope both Hull City and Newcastle United go down to Manchester United and Villa, respectively. “We have to look at it that we are not out of it yet, so we have got to go into it and try to be positive, really go for it and hope things go our way,” said Jones. “Obviously, it’s going to be difficult and we are going to be relying on maybe Manchester United’s second string, but things can happen. For the moment, we haven’t given up and we have got to go into next week and do another job.”
With only one win in ten games, Middlesbrough are almost certain for the drop. Should that transpire, manager Gareth Southgate and chairman Steve Gibson will face the task of restructuring the club for a spell back in the Football League after eleven years in the top flight. However, they’ll deal with that if and when the time comes. “As long as there’s a slim chance, we have got to go into the game as players and think we can still do it, and that’s what we are going to do,” said Jones. “We said it in the dressing room - all we can do is go to Upton Park, play them off them pitch, get a win and hope that other things have gone our way. If they haven’t at the end of that game, then we will reflect, but for the moment, we have just got to concentrate - nothing is impossible.”
TODD, JELIC SIGN ON FOR GLORY
Perth Glory has enhanced their chances of a maiden A-League finals appearance with the recruitment of imports Andy Todd and Branko Jelic. Todd, 35, brings a wealth of playing knowledge to the club after plying his trade in England for more than fifteen years at Bolton Wanderers, Charlton Athletic, Blackburn Rovers and, most recently, Derby County. Jelic, 32, counts Serbian powerhouse Red Star Belgrade amongst his former clubs and has experience in Asia where he won the Chinese Super League Golden Boot award with Beijing Guoan in 2005.
Coach David Mitchell has had his eye on Todd for some time and recently watched the non-nonsense defender in action for Derby. “Andy can see what we’re trying to do at the club and to have someone of his calibre underlines our desire to build a squad capable of taking us into the finals,” Mitchell said. “We’ve made a concerted effort to bring quality into the club and I’m very happy to have Andy make a commitment for next season. We have looked carefully at players, taken time to see them in action and sat down with them to determine their desire to play in Perth. It’s not just their playing ability but also their personality and Andy fits the bill perfectly.”
Jelic recently agreed to a mutual termination with his Bundesliga club Energie Cottbus, opening the door for Glory to discuss the possibility of a move to Perth. Coach David Mitchell sees the Serbian as the perfect replacement for departed striker Nikita Rukavytsya. “We needed to bolster our options up front and by securing Branko we feel that with have like for like in terms of quality,” Mitchell said. “Branko is excellent in and around the box, he scores goals, makes great position and can also set things up for other players as well.” Glory now has 19 contracted players for the coming season and are continuing discussions with a number of other prospects to fill the remaining spots on their roster.
MILLER BACK IN CHARGE OF COCKBURN
One-time Socceroo defender Scott Miller has taken over the reigns at Cockburn City after the departure of Mirko Jelicic, who was accepted a coaching position with the Uzbekistan Under-20 national team. It will be Miller’s second stint as Cockburn coach, the veteran of over 260 national league games having previously been at the helm in 2007. “We welcome back Scott who will commence his two-year term this week at home against Inglewood. The club looks forward to the completion of the year with Scott and look forward to a strong finish to the season,” said Cockburn president Heidi Lazarro via a written statement. “We would like to thank Mirko, who has been a pleasure to work with on a personal and professional level [and we] wish him all the best with his new appointment.”
YOUNG SOCCEROOS HONOURS FOR BIRIGHITTI
One-time Perth SC goalkeeper Mark Birighitti has headed to Europe with the Young Socceroos as preparations for this year's under-20 World Cup ramp up. National youth coach Jan Versleijen selected an 18-player squad for a training camp in the Netherlands where Australia will participate in two tournaments in addition to a friendly with the Egyptian Under-20 team. The Young Socceroos have been drawn alongside Brazil, Costa Rica and the Czech Republic at the Under-20 World Cup, hosted by Egypt across September and October.
The trip is designed to provide the young Australian squad with international experience against different teams with varying playing styles. "I will also use the opportunity to see some new faces from overseas clubs and assess if they can add something to the squad," said Versleijen. "The benefit of playing in these two tournaments is that the players will have many games in a short period of time against a variety of opposition."
Australia commence their training camp on 19th May with a friendly with De Graafschap before lining up in the Terborg Touwernooi against Valencia, Feyenoord, De Graafschap and Atletico Mineiro. After meeting Egypt on 26th May, they take on PSV Eindhoven, Ajax Amsterdam, Celtic and FC Uitgeest in the Vitesseart in the International Cor Groenewegen Tournament. Both tournaments involve modified matches, played with 20 minute halves, with teams playing two or three games a day.
The Australian Under-20 squad to play in the Netherlands is Mark Birighitti, Daniel Mullen (Adelaide United), James Holland (AZ Alkmaar), Luke Brattan, Isaka Cernak, Luke De Vere, Mitch Nicholls, Thomas Oar (Brisbane Roar), Peter Cvetanovski (Borussia Monchengladbach), Andrew Redmayne (Central Coast Mariners), Tahj Minniecon (Gold Coast United), Ryan McGowan (Hearts), Nathan Elasi (Melbourne Victory), Oliver Bozanic (Reading), Kofi Danning, Rhyan Grant, Matthew Jurman and Sam Munro (Sydney FC).
STIRLING GO DOWN FIGHTING AT PERTH (by Peter Simcox)
Perth SC moved back to the top of the Premier League table by seeing off a ten-man Stirling Lions outfit 3-2 in today’s concluding Round Six fixture at Dorrien Gardens. Although pleased with the result, courtesy of goals by Phil Arnold, Trent Kay and David Onoforo, Perth coach Graham Normanton said there’s still plenty of room for improvement. “We made it difficult for ourselves near the end. Playing against ten men can sometimes be difficult and we didn’t play well last week at Armadale against ten and today,” said the coach. “For ten weeks we’ve played some great football, but we’ve hit a bit of a flat spot over recent weeks, but at the end of the day it’s a win and that’s what it’s all about.”
The early signs were positive for Stirling, Ludovic Boi’s back post shot from a Jason Mirco corner being blocked by Kay. And a few moments later it was Boi again with a long-range shot that drifted wide on the end of a dazzling run. Perth then began asserting control and should have hit the front on 10 minutes when Darko Ilmanoski cleared off the line a clever flick by Onoforo, whose follow-up shot was deflected wide by goalkeeper Mark Bentley. Injury to midfield general Marc Anthony forced Stirling to reshuffle their deck on the quarter hour with Matthew Italiano entering the fray. Four minutes later Boi whipped past Matthew Danskin only for his low shot to be deflected wide by some desperate defending.
Perth finished the half the better and Arnold’s shot from the edge of the 18-yard box went wide, while Mirco blocked Kay’s goal bound effort at the back post soon after. The pressure continued to mount and Bentley came to Stirling’s rescue by saving Arnold’s snap shot from 10-metres at full stretch. In the 38th minutes Perth got the result they were after when, from wide on the right, Naglieri sent in a free-kick which was flicked on by Onoforo and an unmarked Arnold headed in at the back post. It should have been two-nil in stoppage time, Sharland beating Steven Hesketh to cross for Arnold whose effort was superbly blocked by Ilomanoski.
It only got for Stirling, midfielder Alan Muir issued his second yellow card by referee Mathew Cheeseman five minutes into the second half. Sharland attempted to capitalise immediately by embarking on a determined run that ended with him flashing a shot narrowly past the post. But Stirling was not to be outdone and on 58 minutes equalised when an unmarked Jordan Rhodes headed in at 5-metres from Dean Evans’ free-kick. Seven minutes later a free-kick played in by Sharland found Kay in the free to head the hosts back in front from close-range. Boi went close to levelling on 71 minutes but after beating Craig Simpson his shot from 6-metres was parried by Simon Madaschi with Jake Geddes sending the follow-up wide.
With the game very much in the balance Perth struck for a third time via an 82nd minute corner from Naglieri which Kay headed back across goal for Onoforo to tuck in from close-range. There were further chances for the hosts to extend the gap but Naglieri’s curling free-kick was held by Bentley, and Dom De Felice’s long-range attempt was wide of the target. The game became interesting again when Matthew Italiano’s cross into the danger zone was fired low into the net by Mirco with 90 minutes on the clock. This set up a grand stand finish and when Geddes went down just outside the area under a Gianfranco Circati stoppage time tackle Stirling looked to be in with a chance, but Hesketh disappointingly sent the resulting dead ball high and wide.
NIEDERBERGER SINKS INGLEWOOD WITH LAST GASP WINNER
Daniel Niederberger scored late against his former club to earn Floreat Athena a hard-fought 2-1 win over Inglewood United at Clipsal Stadium. The game destined to end level after Rory Grant’s towering 88th minute header cancelled out Brad Scott’s first half effort, but Niederberger clearly had other ideas when he angled the ball in propel Floreat to the top of the table, albeit only for 24 hours. “We should have put the result beyond doubt in the first half but again poor finishing allowed the opposition to take the game to the wire,” said Floreat boss Michael Roki. “It would have been an injustice for us to drop the two points, the goal conceded was a poor one, but we were fortunate to get the winner with just a minute or so remaining.”
Scott should have put Floreat ahead early but his casual approach gave Oliver Taseski the advantage in a one-on-one. The pace was quick and a few minutes after Albert Osei-Tutu made his way to the top of the 18-yard box before unleashing a fierce shot that rose over the crossbar. Floreat did take the lead on 11 minutes via a soft free-kick, Jason Barrera floating the ball to the far post for Scott to head across the goalkeeper and inside the far post. James Duncan went within inches of bringing the team level but his glancing header from a Mladen Kovacevic corner was scrambled away by the visiting defence.
With Barrera and Josip Magdic displaying their full range of silky skills, Floreat were well in control. Referee David Scragg earned the wrath of the visiting supporters by halting Scott, who was in the clear and bearing down on goal, to penalise a shirt pull by Duncan on James Sammut. A golden opportunity then went wasted as an unmarked Scott drilled into the post after getting on the end of Niederberger’s long ball out of midfield. Inglewood really were struggling to make in-roads, although on 36 minutes Kevin Griffiths’ weak effort would have snuck in had it not been for Dean Apelgren’s intervention.
It looked as though the entertainment would flow through into the second half when Niederberger headed wide just a few minutes after the interval. But the game soon degenerated into a scrappy tussle played out for the most part between the boxes with possession transferring frequently. An opening presented at the Inglewood end on the hour but Alex Stamatiadis’ rasping drive flew past the junction of post and bar. And dreadful error a few minutes later by Barrera put the ball with an unmarked Mladen Kovacevic, whose curling effort was into the bar from 14-metres. Adam Bachiller’s first instinct after coming off the bench was to flash a shot across the face of goal.
The game finally sparked back into life in the closing ten minutes. Bachillor fired too close to the ‘keeper following a superb flowing move that was channelled through Sammutt, Magdic and Neiderberger. John Migas swung a free-kick past the defensive wall and just beyond the top corner with Taseski at full-stretched. Inglewood countered through Mladen Kovacevic, who from deep on the left played to the far post where Grant rose majestically to head in the equaliser with Jonas Piechnik rooted to his line. But celebrations had hardly finished when Neiderberger snatched victory, the striker clipping over the advancing ‘keeper after Miki Vujacic’s effort had been blocked by the defence.
MARCINKO SPEARS KNIGHTS TO VICTORY (by Phil Unsworth)
Western Knights kept pace with the leaders by defeating Canning City 4-2 at Nash Field. The hero of the hour was teenage striker Mario Marcenko whose three-goal haul shot him to the top of the leading scorers tally. Displaying a superior fluency, the Knights went ahead only 8 minutes in when goalkeeper Devon Spence failed to deal effectively with a loose ball created by Anthony Campbell’s header to present Mario Marcinko an easy tap-in at close-range. Conceding a soft goal has seemingly little effect on Canning who lacked a sense of urgency and spent much of the first 45 minutes camped in their defensive half. The Knights created a couple of good chances to extend their lead, the first arriving on the half hour when Daniel Micevski’s scorching volley from the top of the 18-yard box flashed just wide. And four minutes later Spence was forced into a good save to keep out Campbell’s downward header.
The second half had been under way six minutes when Duncan Hind was caught in possession by Campbell, whose cross was duly despatched into the net by Marcinko. Only a few more minutes passed when Marcinko completed his hat-trick and seemingly put the result beyond doubt. However, the introduction of Michael Roger changed the games dynamics and in the 65th minute Canning reduced the deficit through Van Dongen, who glanced Roberto Lujan’s free-kick past the outstretched gloves of Frazer Siddall. Lujan’s delivery from the right was just out of reach for Paul Van Dongen, and a few minutes later Simon Versaico’s shot from 12-metres glanced off the angle of the goal. Van Dongen got a deserved second goal on 75 minutes by neatly chipping Siddall from the edge of the area after being set-up by Jon Mathers. But the Knights would have the last say and with five minutes to go Cormac Dawson converted a penalty awarded for Hind’s foul on Marcinko.
MANDURAH RETURN TO FORM AGAINST ARMADALE (by Chris Correia)
Mandurah City bounced back from a humiliating loss seven days ago to romp past Armadale 4-0 at Alfred Skeet Oval. A brace by substitute Christian Paschkewitz accompanied by earlier goals by Stephen Payne and Phil O'Callaghan as the visitors took full advantage against an opponent lacking firepower in the final third and intensity across defence and midfield. The stage was set early by Payne who unleashed a rocket from distance which just went just the wrong side of the post. Payne was operating with menace on the right of midfield and in the 20th minute silenced the home crowd with a neat chip over Cyril Sharrock that found the top left corner of the net. Further long-range attempts by Rafael Insaurralde and Hayden Doyle threatened to make their way onto the scoresheet, but each narrowly missed the target.
The second half became a much more physical contest with referee Michael Nugus not hesitating to issued three yellow cards in as many minutes. Mandurah soon rewarded with a second goal, Doyle brilliantly weaving his way down the right before centring for an unmarked Phil O'Callaghan to convert from a few metres. Armadale missed a great chance to pull one back when Gary Faria's free-kick was headed past the frame of the goal by Peter Taylor. The host's woes were compounded when an unfortunate Sharrock punched the ball into his own net while desperately trying to prevent Paschkewitz from scoring just two minutes after coming off the bench. Paschkewitz completed the rout with a powerful back post header which gave Sharrock no chance after 82 minutes.
COCKERELS FIGHT BACK FOR A POINT (by Tim Lefort, Football West)
ECU Joondalup and Cockburn City shared the spoils in a keenly fought contest at Edith Cowan University that finished 1-1. Jon Higgins had given the home side the perfect start with an early goal but Cockburn, who finished with ten men after Michael Grigo was sent off, drew level through Jason Dos Santos deep into first-half injury-time. Cockburn coach Mirco Jelcic was happy with the point earned, despite admitting they could have pinched all three in the dying stages. “It was disappointing in that respect,” he said. “But not many teams will pick up a point here, it is a difficult place to come and play and Joondalup have improved since last year and probably even since the Night Series. I thought we really battled quite well. Considering the young team we had and the way these guys play - quite an aerial game - it was a good result.”
An early Jason Dos Santos cross evaded Cameron Edwards by the narrowest of margin as Cockburn opened on the attack. But it was the home side that took the lead on 8 minutes, Higgins driving out of midfield to unleash a scorching 25-metre drive which was too hot to handle for goalkeeper Nick Feely. Grigo pounced on a loose ball but could only fire wide while Davvyd Jones bravely denied Jason Dos Santos as Cockburn went looking for a reply. Jones’ day was brought to a premature end by a heavy collision with Aaron Dos Santos which left the ‘keeper suffering concussion, Alex Pearson stepping in between the posts with half an hour played. The game then opened up and seven minutes into stoppage time Pearson was given no chance after Anthony Periera clipped a free-kick into the area which Jason Dos Santos headed powerfully back across goal and into the far corner.
It was the visitors who had the first chance after the break but Jason Dos Santos was unable to beat Pearson with a snap shot from 13-metres. Play switched quickly to the other end where Tommy Amphlett looked certain to put his side back in front when a loose ball dropped kindly for him but a desperate last-ditch tackle saw his close-range shot deflect over the bar. Garin Collins 18-metre strike was tipped over the bar by Feely, then ten minutes later the same player missed a wonderful opportunity when he steered wide from 10-metres after being set up cleverly by Josh Risdon. The introduction of Renato Jelen and Ryan Pretorius had almost had immediate effect for Cockburn, Jason Dos Santos cutting inside his man on the left but was unable to beat Pearson from a tight angle.
There was just under quarter of an hour to go when a poor challenge by Grigo left referee Ton Klaver with no choice but to brandish a second yellow card. This didn’t stop the visitors looking for a winner and Jason Dos Santos was denied his second of the afternoon by Scott Blackmore’s goal line clearance. Amphlett drove narrowly wide at the other end, and soon after Pearson charged off his line but was beaten to the ball by Aaron Dos Santos, who’s goal bound effort was halted close to the line by Risdon. Cockburn keep on coming and Jason Dos Santos was twice thwarted in his efforts to steal a late winner, the attacker firing into the side netting from a tricky angle and soon was after denied a shot at goal by a Comyn-Platt’s last gasp tackle.
SCALI SEALS IT FOR SWAN IN STOPPAGE TIME
Swan United staged their second upset in as many weeks, this time beating last season’s Premier League champions Sorrento 2-1 at Francis Street. It was a scrappy game that seemed destined for a draw until Damian Scali popped up with the winner in the fourth minute of injury time. “It was important that we continued on from the previous week and play the way we did was a credit to the team, it really was a good team performance,” said Swan coach Paul Lincoln. “Swan generally don’t win games in 90 plus minutes - we have a history of losing them! Our first goal was pure football and if our finishing was better we could have had more. Confidence is high within the group and if we can continue getting these results we can look forward to an enjoyable season.”
Sorrento created some good chances with a dominant first half performance, Todd Harnwell and Glen Thomas calling Cory Hugo into action from long-range while Michael Ord was unlucky to see his header fly just over the bar. Swan too had their chances with their best coming midway through the half when Rob Monterosso’s effort from distance sailed wide after playing a neat one-two with Scali. But for the most part it was the home side that was under pressure with captain Aaron Cole and David McNally outstanding as Sorrento won a succession of corners. Then just on half time Swan struck, a fine exchange of passes sending Monterosso down the right before cutting the ball back from the bye-line for Brendan Knox to fire past Neil Young very much against the run of play.
Sorrento were back on level terms six minutes after the restart, Shaun Kilkelly rising highest to head powerfully past Hugo from a Stuart Banks corner. A poor first touch cost Daniel Darras an opportunity to put the visitors ahead two minutes later, the midfielder putting Harnwell's lofted pass too close to goalkeeper Hugo. The game now started to open up as both teams pushed for a winner. Harnwell brought a sharp one-handed save from Hugo after latching onto a good ball from Lewis Flatt. At the other end of the pitch, David Perich wasted a good one-on-one chance when his attempted chip went straight into the hands of a grateful Neil Young. Swan was finishing the stronger and a fantastic save by Young kept out substitute Stephen Guest's snap shot. However, they were not to be denied and in stoppage time Scali rose at the back post to steal three very hard-earned points.
PHOENIX HIT ROCKINGHAM FOR SIX (courtesy South West Phoenix)
South West Phoenix sent a strong message to their First Division rivals with a 6-0 thumping of Rockingham City at Lark Hill Sportsplex. A blistering four-goal burst early in the second period laid the foundations for Phoenix’s big-win which propelled them up into second spot after six games. Patrick Quinn and David Murphy made clear their intentions in midfield as Phoenix quickly found their rhythm. Ryan Risdon was looking dangerous on the left side of the park and on 25 minutes had a hand in setting up the visitors opening goal by releasing Steve Suttie, who was felled by goalkeeper Craig Olejnik and David Rodgers stepped up to convert from the penalty spot. Rodgers almost doubled his tally but shot into the post after being forced wide by the ‘keeper. Rockingham only really started to come into the game late in the half but were unable to find a way past Jamie Oakey.
The ball had been in motion for the second half only five minutes when Suttie swung a delightful free-kick over the defensive wall and under the crossbar to double the margin. Phoenix captain Quinn went one just minute later by picking the ball up just inside his own half and leaving a couple of opponents in his wake before slammed into the roof of the net from 16-metres. The result was soon put beyond doubt with Rodgers spearing in a low shot for his second after getting on the end of an inch perfect Quinn through ball. There was no stopping Phoenix and Rodgers released Binnie who stroked into an empty net after the ‘keeper had blocked his initial effort. The scoring was completed close to the final whistle when Suttie pounced on some very sloppy defending to fire into the bottom corner from the edge of the 18-yard box.
BAYSWATER IN A DIFFERENT CLASS TO ASHFIELD (courtesy Bayswater City)
Bayswater City leapt into third place after spanking Ashfield 5-0 in a lop-sided game at Ashfield Reserve. Less than a minute had gone by when Bayswater seized the initiative through Frank Madaferri, who side-footed into the net from the top of the 6-yard box after meeting an Anthony McStea free-kick. Ashfield could have equalised soon after when Iben Charming charged forward after turning the ball over on the half way line but having round goalkeeper Bobson Koroma his shot was prevented from crossing the line by a fast back-tracking Jason Lawton. Ryan Jeans beat the offside trap only to place wide in a one-on-one with Matt Darling, while Tommy Jones fired high after being teed-up by Steve Worthy as the visitors sought to capitalise.
The second half sprang into life with Bayswater continuing their onslaught. Having received possession from Jeans, Damien Catalano rounded a couple of opponents and fired across the face of goal where a defender had the misfortune of deflecting into his own net. Good work in the lead-up by Worthy soon after presented an opportunity for Jeans who flashed wide as the pressure mounted. Jeans made amends for that miss on 63 minutes by crashing the ball into the net from 7-metres after being played in by Jones. The margin blew out to four goals ten minutes later, Jones turning in a cross from Worthy at 9-metres. Paul Hickey completing the score line by nodding in on 79 minutes following good lead-up work by McStea.
THE PREMIER LEAGUE IN PREVIEW
Tomorrow afternoon’s game at Clipsal Stadium between Inglewood United verses Floreat Athena (3.00pm) is the pick of this week’s Premier League action. Assistant coach Kevin Brophy hopes the players can put behind them a turbulent few days following the shock departure of coach Lee Bamber. “It’s been a tough week for the club and it doesn’t get any easier,” Brophy said. “Floreat are a tough nut to crack at the best of times, strong physically, well organised and can hurt you from a number of different areas. The season is still in its infancy and there’s so much that we can achieve this year if we can start putting in 90 minute performances.”
A Floreat win will keep the pressure on leaders Perth SC but coach Michael Roki isn’t about to start counting his chickens. “It’s always a concern when clubs go through a coaching change, will the Inglewood players go a bit flat from the loss of Lee or will they respond to the stimulus of a new coach? Either way, we’ll concentrate on our own game,” Roki said. “We’re yet to play our best football, which isn’t such a bad thing considering we’ve only lost the one game, but we need to start hitting our straps to ensure we don’t drop any un-necessary points prior to a big date with Perth in a few weeks time.”
Western Knights are unbeaten in four games and no doubt wanting to extend that run against Canning City to Nash Field (3.00pm). A serious knee injury will prevent influential midfielder David Price from playing any part for coach Paul Price, who’s toying with the idea of bringing in either experienced attacker Daniel Trim or new signing Duuane Hepburn. Captain Paul Van Dongen scored twice for Canning last time out and he’s sure to play a big role once again as is Jon Mathers, who comes face-to-face with former team mates.
Mandurah City ventures to the metropolitan area to take on Armadale at Alfred Skeet Oval (3.00pm). It’s shaping up to be a long day for the home team who’ll be without defenders Andy Bowyer and Ryan Pearson, both through suspension, and have injury clouds hanging over Gary Faria, Marlon Ramirez and Peter Lord. Mandurah captain Andy Brown (suspension) also misses the game but coach Stuart Currie is hopeful of having Jason Godfrey, Steven Payne and Gary Attrill back from injury.
ECU Joondalup and Cockburn City are each at maximum strength for their showdown at the Edith Cowan University campus (3.00pm). Steve Amphlett could be tempted to bring English imports Jamie Watt and Steve Porter into the first eleven at Joondalup, who were undone by a trio of late goals at Floreat Athena last week. Cockburn supporters are no doubt be looking forward to captain Johnny Mirco, Jason Dos Santos and Anthony Pereira working their magic across the middle of the park.
Swan United will no doubt be up for the challenge when reining champions Sorrento travel to the Swan Valley (3.00pm). Fresh from earning their first win of the season, the black and whites stocks have been bolstered by the return of playmaker David Perich and experienced defender Ross Holtom, who until recently was with English non-League club Southam United. Sorrento’s season has been plagued by injury and this week they have do go without Reece Vittiglia, Stuart Montgomery and Daryl Platten along with State defender Danny Cain, who is suspended.
It’s top verses bottom at Dorrien Gardens on Sunday with an unbeaten Perth SC up against struggling Stirling Lions (3.00pm). Perth have arguably the most potent strike force in the State League, Greg Sharland, David Onoforo and Todd Howarth having netted 27 goals between them already this year, and whether Stirling has it in them to halt the juggernaut remains to be seen. Midfield pair Jordan Rhodes and Dean Evans come back into contention for Stirling, whose defensive focus falls on to the experienced heads of Daniel Stoitis and Darko Ilmanoski.
THE FIRST DIVISION IN PREVIEW
The top of the table clash between Morley Windmills and Wanneroo City takes centre stage in round six of the First Division season. The teams are locked together on 12 points, each with four wins and a loss, meaning the winner will sit in poll position come tomorrow evening. Third-placed South West Phoenix are tipped to take home all three points from their away fixture at Rockingham City. The home side has looked anything but Night Series winners in recent weeks with a trio of losses sliding them down into the nether region of the table.
Petar Drca has some selection headaches as Dianella White Eagles go seeking their fourth win in a row at home to an in-form Forrestfield United. It remains to be seen if there’s room in the match day squad for returning trio Stefan Smiljanic, Kevin Carmona and Pavle Kuvekalovic. Bayswater City are gathering momentum at the moment and should take the points when they visit struggling Ashfield. Bayswater coach Michael Di Fulvio has plenty think about with Paul Hickey, Michael Fillipou and Jason Lawton putting their hands up for starting spots.
Balcatta have several key players missing for the home clash with Gosnells City. Coach Salv Todato has his fingers cross Andy O’Neill will pass a late fitness test as unavailable for duty are Kenny Ftynogiannis, Igor Novakovic, Julian Piromalli and Paul Huckett. Also with their depth being tested are Fremantle Spirit who are away to bottom team Queens Park. It seems Marc Wingell’s absentee list grows by the week with Ravi Kuppusamy, Roberto Colallilo and Corey Muirhead out for the trip to Coker Park.
DOS SANTOS RETURNS AFTER EXTENDED LEAVE
The sight of Jason Dos Santos running the rule over midfield has brought a big smile to the faces of everyone at Cockburn City. After missing two years with a potentially career-ending knee injury, 23-year old Dos Santos is absolutely delighted to be back on the park. “The knee is feeling really good, it’s been hard work to get where I am at today,” he said after completing a full 90 minutes against Western Knights last Saturday. “It’s a really great feeling to be playing football again and being back involved with the players and people around the club. Also to be back on the pitch with my brother, Aaron, and mates is something to look forward to every week now.”
Rated as perhaps the most creative central midfielder currently playing State League, Dos Santos endured a frustrating two-year lay off from the game which has been his passion since childhood. “I got injured against Armadale early in 2007, I tore the ACL in m left knee. I felt a little pain in the knee after a tackle and went down immediately,” he explained. “After seeking different opinions, the treatment was to amend the ACL in my knee and at the same time some other complications with my bone structure was fixed … the operations, recovery and then getting back my match fitness meant I was out of the game for quite a while.”
Cockburn’s playing roster has undergone considerable change during his absence but Dos Santos is excited about the direction they’re taking under Mirko Jelicic. “We have lost some quality players since, such as Shane Nunes and Liam Lilly, but we have a young strong side that is willing to work hard for each other,” he said. “If we can play quality football every week then this team has the potential to win something this season. Maybe we don’t have as much depth and quality as in previous season but we’re a young squad that is capable of big things.”
Five games into the winter campaign and Cockburn are well placed with a couple of wins and a draw to their credit. “Our goal is the same as every other season - to play to the best of our ability every week and to finish at the top, or at the very least to finish in the top five. I know we’re capable of beating any team on any day,” explained Dos Santos. “My personal goal is to have a strong, injury-free season, playing attractive football and to be playing at the level I was at before injury.”
Cockburn head to ECU Joondalup on Saturday focused on making amends for an opening round Cup loss to the northerners. “Having watched the Cup game I expect this to be a tough match, Joondalup always give 100% and battle all game so our boys will need to play at the best of our ability to get over the line,” said Dos Santos, who is looking forward to the encounter. “It should be a great to see as both teams will be giving their all on the day to win the points … and I think we stand a very good chance of doing just that.”
SHOCK SACKING HAS BAMBER PERPLEXED
Lee Bamber is still stunned by the circumstances surrounding his sudden removal as coach of Inglewood United. The likeable coach thought everything was hunky dory after guiding Inglewood to victory against Stirling Lions on Saturday, however, his world would soon be turned upside down. “On Monday I got a message from the Inglewood president, Siggy Kramer, he’d had a meeting with the committee and they believed there was a conflict of interest with my Perth Glory commitments,” explained Bamber, who has been appointed goalkeeper coach with the A-League club. “He asked me to resign my position as Inglewood coach forthwith, and if I wasn’t prepared to resign he would have no option but to sack me.”
Shocked by what he was hearing, Bamber understandably stood his ground. “I informed Ziggy I wasn’t going to resign and he told me he had no other option but to sack me. I asked him if I could meet with the committee to put my side of the story regarding my Glory commitments and I was told no,” Bamber added. “I then asked if I could attend training on Tuesday to say goodbye to the players and was again told no, and if I did turn up to the ground I would be evicted, so that was that. I’d brought the club from fourth bottom, when I took over with Bobby Despotovski, to the top four finals last season and was looking forward at trying to go one better this season. Unfortunately, that opportunity has been taken away.”
The ‘conflict of interest’ line just doesn’t wash with Bamber. “I can’t understand were there’s a conflict of interest as surely it would have only benefited the club and the State League by having another link with Glory,” a disappointed Bamber said. “Glory approached me regarding the goalkeeping coaching position and I was honoured to be asked. I told David Mitchell at the time Inglewood came first and I could only do the job on a part-time basis. David went away to Europe on a scouting mission and nothing was confirmed. When he got back we sat down and had another chat and again I told him I could do the job two days a week if it didn’t affect my job at Inglewood, and he said it would be fine.”
Bamber was unable to contact Kramer that weekend but managed to track down the Inglewood president the following Monday morning. “I let him know of the outcome of my talks with David and he congratulated me on my appointment. It was a strange conversation as I felt he wasn’t happy but nothing was said. I trained the Tuesday and Thursday before the Lions game and was none the wiser to the problems that were building,” Bamber said. “I’m saddened at how it as ended and I’d like to thank Inglewood for giving me the opportunity to coach and wish Kevin (Brophy) and the team all the best, I look forward to catching up with them at the friendly with Glory later in the season.”
With no option but to prematurely finished one chapter in his coaching career, Bamber is keen to move on and start writing the next. “I’ve committed to Glory, only on a part-time basis, as my work is full on at the moment. But with me not being at Inglewood I might get the opportunity of travelling with Glory to away games now and it’s something I’d be excited about,” he said. “I’ll still be putting on the boots for Gosnells City Masters on a Sunday afternoon this season. I managed to bang in a couple of goals in our victory last week and will also try and watch Inglewood as I still believe they have a great chance of qualifying for the finals, so I’ll still be very much involved in the local game.”
YOUNG MATILDA’S HONOURS FOR GLORY TRIO
Perth Glory Women players Samantha Kerr, Ella Mastrantonio, Marianna Tabain will soon depart for Europe with the Young Matilda's. Coach Alen Stajcic today named a 20-player squad to travel to Italy and Indonesia for a series of friendlies as preparations for the AFC Under-19 Women's Championships gather momentum. The squad comes together on Saturday for a three-day camp in Sydney prior their to departure for Italy, where they'll play series of games against Finland and Germany. The Young Matildas are scheuled to meet Indonesia in Bangkok en route home to Australia at the start of next month.
Stajcic is pleased that his team has the opportunity to test themselves against such high profile opponents. "The tour is a wonderful opportunity to continue our preparations for the AFC U-19 Women's Championships," he said. "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our young players to travel to Europe and play against highly regarded football countries such as Finland and Germany. We are very fortunate to have been given this chance and it will most certainly be used as a positive and fantastic experience for the players involved."
The Young Matildas squad heading to Italy consists of Angela Fimmano, Sian McLaren (Adelaide United), Bronwyn Studman, Ashleigh Sykes, Nicole Sykes (Canberra United), Teresa Polias, Karina Roweth, Kyah Simon (Central Coast Mariners), Teigen Allen (New South Wales Institute of Sport), Samantha Kerr, Ella Mastrantonio, Marianna Tabain (Perth Glory), Courtney Beutel, Tameka Butt, Casey Dumont, Elise Kellond-Knight (Queensland Roar), Nicola Bolger, Alesha Clifford, Linda O'Neill and Jessica Seaman (Sydney FC).
OLIVER’S ITCHING TO PLAY
Paul Oliver is determined not to spend one minute longer out of the game he loves than is absolutely necessary. Canning City's hard-working midfielder started the season strongly but has watched the past few weeks from the sidelines after breaking his collar bone away at Swan United. "It has been really frustrating for me. It was only my third game of the season (when I got injured), I'd played no part in the Night Series," he explained. "My pre-season had gone very well and I was happy with the way my fitness was progressing."
Prior to damaging his shoulder Oliver had been in terrific touch, as highlighted by a couple of memorable goals in the 3-1 Cup defeat of Mandurah City. "Having only completed two games and getting on the scoresheet twice, I was gutted to hear that I was going to be sidelined for a prolonged period," he added. "The Swan game was getting quite feisty and after a late tackle I fell awkwardly on my shoulder. I knew straight away what I had done and that it was broken. I have no hard feelings towards the lad, these things happen in football."
Oliver is keen to pick things up where he left off and is targeting the upcoming Cup round for his playing return. "I'm aiming to make my comeback against Armadale in the second round of the Cup at the end of the month - even though the doctors think it'll be a bit longer," he said optimistically. "It's a tough injury to have and to get straight back into playing is difficult as there's pain with every movement. I've started training again with a bit of running and hope to get back involved in the football side of things as soon as possible."
Oliver is one of only a handful of Canning players with previous top flight experience courtesy of a season at Cockburn City. "I really enjoyed my time at Cockburn under the guidance of Billy Russell and Tom Kilkelly. I learnt a lot in my short time there and we achieved a reasonable amount of success," Oliver said in reflection on 2006. "I considered my options at the end of that year and realised that Canning was the only place for me. I have played there seven of my nine seasons in this country and love the atmosphere and the people down at Canning."
Spirit's remain high in the Canning camp for their first ever foray into the Premier League. "Our results have been a little up and down but we're all enjoying the experience and the mood is bouyant not only at training but on a match day also," commented Oliver. "There's a lot of talk that an eleventh place finish would be a successful season for us but I know the entire playing group as well as those behind the scenes would be extremely disappointed if that were the case. There is never an easy game at this level but we believe a top five spot isn't out of the question."
David Perich has been cleared to make his State League return for Swan United. The hard-working midfielder headed to the United States last August to take up an economics and commerce scholarship at Cardinal Strich College in Milwaukee. Perich was an integral part of the Swan engine room prior tohis trip abroad and his return comes as welcome relief to coach Paul Lincoln.
Could James Robinson be the answer to Armadale’s goal scoring problems? The fiery Englishman bagged 11 goals in 13 appearances for the Reds in the second half of last season to lift them clear of the relegation zone. It’s understood Robinson, who’s played the English season for non-League outfits Heybridge Swifts and Witham Town, is keen on returning to Alfred Skeet Oval and could be back at the club in the not too distant future.
Dianella White Eagles have strengthened their defensive stocks with the recruitment of Igor Ilijic from Stirling Lions. The imposing young defender played youth team football at Red Star Belgrade and enjoyed a spell with Makedonia Gorce Petrov prior to moving to Perth during the summer. Ilijic has put his hand up for his Dianella debut at home to Forrestfield United this weekend.
Perhaps the toughest job in local football - senior coach at Queens Park - is once again up for grabs. Peter Johnston tendered his resignation following the club’s five-goal capitulation to South West Phoenix on the weekend. The loss, Queens Park’s eleventh in a row, leaves them rooted to the bottom of the First Division table having conceded 22 goals but scored only twice in five league games.
ON THIS DAY ... 1979
Top flight English club Norwich City were the first team from abroad to visit Western Australia in 1979 when they played the State team in front of some 8,000 spectators at the WACA Ground on the afternoon of 13th May. The Canaries arrived in Perth shortly after the completion of the 1978/79 English First Division season in which they’d finished sixteenth. After an even opening stanza which produced little in the way of shots on goal Norwich not surprisingly gained control of the match only to be held at bay by the WA defence. Just when it appeared the sting had been taken from the Canaries attack Graham Paddon unleashed a shot from the edge of the area which goalkeeper Tony Witschge could only parry and the unmarked Justin Fashanu was presented with a simple tap-in from close range after 27 minutes.
WA started the second half on the hunt to level the scores, and on three occasions they came close before Norwich responded. From within a crowded goalmouth Fashanu, an England youth international, found enough space to hammer the ball under Witschge to make it two-nil after 64 minutes. The host side continued to plug away and were rewarded with a goal of their own ten second from full-time. A quickly taken free-kick by Ray Ilott sent John Davidson down the right flank from where he crossed into the area and substitute Graham Cramphorn headed in on his State team debut. In a solid display by WA none worked harder than captain Sceats, Robin Witschge, Lee Adams and Keith Jones, while for Norwich it was Fashanu, Mike McGuire and Kevin Reeves that shone brightest.
Western Australia (squad): Tony Witschge, Keith Jones, Phil Cole, Lee Adam, Robin Witschge, John Davidson, Ray Ilott, Bill Murray, Stephen Sceats, Frank Smerilli, Ken Sandercock, Sauro Iozzelli, Stephen Snell, Graham Cramphorn, Saverio Madaschi
Norwich City (squad): Roger Hansbury, Kevin Bond, Ian Davies, Jimmy Nightingale, Mick McGuire, Phil Hoadley, Tony Powell, Duncan Forbes, Keith Robson, Steve Goble, Kevin Reeves, Justin Fashanu, Graham Paddon
HARNWELL INSISTS THE GULLS WILL SOAR
It’s been a disappointing start to the new Premier League season for champions Sorrento but captain Todd Harnwell is hopeful of a form reversal in the not too distant future. “Obviously, it’s been a very disappointing start to the season given the highs of last year,” he said. “We have been a little unlucky with Stuart Montgomery, James Morgan and Daryl Platten all suffering long-term knee injuries, but we have just not performed well enough on match days to warrant a higher league position - and that’s something we hope to rectify sooner rather later.”
Having first played football for Sorrento as a 4-year old it’s fair to say no one knows the club better than Harnwell, now 29. And while he has savour many successes with the Gulls, including their Premier League championships of 2001, 2006 and 2008, Harnwell remains reluctant to compare the current squad with those of previous seasons. “It is always difficult to compare teams of the past and present as each new player brings something different to the club,” he said. “But with the team we assembled at the start of the season we are definitely striving for a top four finish.”
Sorrento have arguably the most experienced coaching team in the Premier League, between Steve Neville and assistant Shaun Murphy sharing in excess of 850 games as professional footballers. “Steve has been great for the club and I think his record speaks for itself - he’s won the League Championship three times and the club never enjoyed as much success as the time he and Trevor Morgan were in control,” commented Harnwell. “The addition of Shaun as his assistant highlights even further the fact the we have extremely high expectations for ourselves this year.”
GIBSON TO HEAD UP NEW WAIS PROGRAM
Former national team player John Gibson can't wait to get started as coach of the women's football program at the Western Australian Institute of Sport. The program, a partnership between Football West, Football Federation Australia and WAIS, is tailored towards realising the potential of West Australia's best female footballers. "It's a massive challenge - and a very exciting one at that. There is plenty of hard work ahead, but I'm fairly relaxed and certainly looking forward to it," said Gibson, who last season was assistant coach at W-League club Canberra United.
A graduate of the Australian Institute of Sport himself, Gibson is a big fan of elite training and development programs. "For me the AIS is one of the premier academies in the world for football and results indicate that," he said. "The coaching, facilities, the expertise and utilization of best practice, etc are top notch. All young footballers should strive to be involved in such an intensive program. However, Football West is doing some wonderful things currently with many of their comprehensive programs."
Next on Gibson's 'to do' list is select his squad. "I've already reviewed all the Glory games from last year and certainly there are exciting times ahead. You've got two of the best players in the world in Collette McCallum and Lisa de Vanna in Perth, as well as some very exciting young talent," he commented. "Obviously, extensive scouting will be an important component in squad selection and also trying to determine potential scholarship holders. I've been pleasantly surprised with the talent I've got to work with and all bodes well for a successful WAIS program."
Gibson rates the 1992 Olympic Games as the highlight of a national league playing career which included Sydney United, Adelaide City, West Adelaide, Parramatta Power and Marconi Stallions. "The Barcelona Olympics was a wonderful experience for me. Being involved with that squad with Ned Zelic, Paul Okon, Mark Bosnich, etc was a tremendous honour and privilege," he said. "To represent your country in international football is something I'll always cherish and going close to picking up a bronze medal was a great way to finish that epic journey."
Assistant coaching roles with the Matilda's and the Young Socceroos, along with that at Canberra, have given Gibson as glimpse of what could be further down the track in his career. "I had a fantastic experience with Canberra last year in the W-League and would love to be involved in coaching in a national or international competition in the future," Gibson commented. "But my priority at the moment is getting the WAIS program up and running and I can't wait to get to Perth to begin."
LURE OF THE GREEN AND GOLD TOO STRONG FOR WILLIAMS
Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek looks to have secured the services of promising Middlesbrough defender Rhys Williams after the youngster turned down Wales to pledge his international future to Australia. The Perth-born 20-year old, who has a Welsh grandfather, has played ten times for the Wales Under-21 side and had recently threatened to commit to that nation after being overlooked for the Socceroos. But Verbeek has convinced the versatile defender to pursue his dream of playing for Australia.
Williams’ fate now lies with FIFA’s transfer committee but if he gets the rubber stamp he could be eligible to be selected for Australia’s World Cup qualifier in Qatar on 6th June. “Rhys has informed us that he wants now to play for Australia,“ Wales spokesman Ceri Stennett said of Williams, who can play in central defence or at right back. “The wheels are now in motion, and a decision will be made by FIFA’s transfer committee. But it looks like a fait accompli now.”
Williams, who left Australia at 16 to become a trainee at Middlesbrough, made a name for himself this season on loan at promotion-chasing Championship club Burnley. He impressed in 17 appearances with the club before being forced to return to Middlesbrough before the promotion play-offs after failing to have his loan deal extended. Williams was not in the Middlesbrough squad for Tuesday’s loss to Newcastle United, which consigned them to almost certain relegation, but he could feature in their final two games of the season.
PETKOVIC'S SIVASSPOR NO LONGER TOP
Sivasspor's first home loss of the season has cost Michael Petkovic's team top spot in the Turkish Super Lig. Sivasspor's 2-1 loss to battling Istanbul Buyuksehir saw them overtaken by Besiktas, who won 4-1 at Ankaraspor to open up a two-point lead with three matches to go. Petkovic's team mates were left to rue an awful first-half in which they conceded twice in 17 minutes to Gokhan Kaba and Gokhan Akan. Sivasspor fought back before the break but it wasn't until the 75th minute that Herve Tum fired into the Istanbul net, and despite a late flourish they were unable to conjure up a second goal. Sivasspor now sit in second place with 60 points, two behind Besiktas but ahead of Trabzonspor (59), Galatasaray (55) and Fenerbahce (54).
GIRLS CHOSEN FOR NATIONAL TRAINING CAMP
West Australian teenagers Sarah Carroll and Evangeline Gooch have been invited into camp with the Australian Under-14 squad. The pair are amongst thirty played national coach Jeff Hopkins has selected to attend a four-day training camp at the Australian Institute of Sport later this month. From the training camp, a final squad of twenty-two players will be selected to represent Australia at the AFC Under-14 Girls - Festival of Football begin staged in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, in late June.
Ann Gourley, coach of the State Under-14’s, is pleased Carroll and Gooch have been given the opportunity to represent Australia. “We are extremely proud that two of our players have been identified for the U14’s national camp,” Gourle said. “The girls have come a long way since being chosen to represent WA in January, and the experience of playing at the nationals has been invaluable to the whole WA team. We wish Sarah and Evangeline the best of luck at the camp, and hope that they will feature in the final 22.”
TOUGH MAN TODD IS WHAT WE NEED : MITCHELL
Perth Glory coach David Mitchell has played down concerns over no-nonsense defender Andy Todd's turbulent past. Todd, 34, will arrive in Perth tomorrow to spend a week assessing the merits of making a move to the A-League following Glory's offer of a one-year contract. Mitchell isn;t concerned by the former Derby County defender's controversial career, which includes a 1999 training ground incident with then Bolton Wanderers boss Phil Brown and an altercation with Charlton Athletic teammate Dean Kiely two years later. "I've spoken to quite a few people and they've all given him glowing references as a player and a person," Mitchell told Jonathon Cook of the 'West Australian' newspaper.
Mitchell also rejected suggestions Todd's aggressive approach might not be suited to the Australian league. Brisbane Roar coach Frank Farina has argued his hard man, former Socceroo Danny Tiatto, gets a raw deal because of his reputation. "I don't think he's that sort of player," Mitchell said of Todd. "He's a clever player. He's a good passer of the ball and he reads the game well. He's a tough nut and no-nonsense but he's not a dirty player. He's tough and he plays by the rules and he's exactly what we need." Glory leaked 44 goals last season as they slumped to second-from-bottom and Mitchell is confident Todd can help stem the tide.
LATE GOALS GIVE FLOREAT HARD-EARNED WIN (by James Wragg, Football West)
Three goals in the final ten minutes has put Floreat Athena back on the winners list as they overcame ECU Joondalup at Litis stadium on Sunday afternoon. The match looked as though it was headed for a scoreless draw until 19-year old Callum Roberts came off the bench to score twice and steal a dramatic win. "Callum is a great young player. He's still developing his skills and has been showing some great form for the under 23's lately so it was great for him to come on and score some goals today," said coach Michael Roki, who conceded the three-goal margin flattered his team. "I thought the teams were very equal today. Well done to ECU, they played very well especially some of their younger players like Ryan Williams and Josh Risdon, it was a great game."
Floreat looked very shaky and short on confidence throughout the early stages against a young and aggressive Joondalup side, which forced their more experienced opponents into simple errors. Neither goalkeeper had a great deal to do but still had to be on their guard when the ball came their way. Davvyd Jones made a smart save from Branimir Mikulic's header following a dangerous run and cross down the left by Daniel Neiderberger. And at the other end Vas Vujacic saved with his legs to keep out Scott Bushby's goal bound effort. These were the only highlights of a disappointing first half, with both teams struggling to win the fierce congested battle in the midfield.
Brad Scott was close to opening the scoring midway through the second half but headed the wrong side of the post at Josip Magdic's deep cross. The hosts were beginning to get on top and show their experience, keeping Joondalup locked up in their defensive half with several of their youngsters starting to show the effects of a warm afternoon. But despite their dominance Floreat were unable to change the scoreline and were restricted to long-range efforts with Branimir Mikulic trying his luck from near half way but the ball landed just over the bar with Jones beaten.
The game was looking to endscoreless when Roberts popped up to volley brilliantly in at the back post to break the deadlock. Jones then pulled off a magnificent one-handed save to keep out an effort from Magdic, who a minute later chipped a partially cleared corner back into the 18-yard box where the diminutive Roberts headed into the net to finish off Joondalup. Jason Barrera added a third just before full-time after Magdic brilliantly dispossessed a defender and unselfishly crossed for the waiting midfielder to slot into an unguarded net.
FFA BACK UPGRADE TO MEMBERS EQUITY STADIUM
Football Federation Australia is prepared to make the Socceroos a regular fixture on Perth’s sporting calendar if the State Government backs a plan to redevelop Members Equity Stadium. Football authorities are set to increase their support of the Town of Vincent’s proposed $73 million upgrade of the old Perth Oval after RugbyWA pressed their case recently for improvements to Perth’s premier rectangular outdoor venue. FFA officials have already met with the State Government and more talks will be held next week.
Bonita Mersaides, spokesperson for FFA, said a major improvement to facilities at Members Equity Stadium would significantly increase West Australia’s chances of staging the Socceroos. “It’s clearly an option we would discuss with the State Government,” she said. “There is a great appetite to share it around. We are very conscious at the moment that most games are held on the east coast and we’d like to be able to spread it around. We recognise the Socceroos have fans all around Australia and it’s important for people to be able to see them live.”
ARMADALE HANG ON TO DRAW WITH PERTH (by Michael Bate, Football West)
Perth SC's winning start to the season has been halted by a nine-man Armadale, who held on grimly to pick up a 1-1 draw in this evening's encounter at Alfred Skeet Oval. Peter Lord put the Reds ahead shortly before the interval with Antonio Naglieri balancing the ledger midway through the second half, and although Perth dominated for lengthy periods they failed to find another avenue to goal.
The home team set their stall early, looking to remain tight and organised at the back while attempting to catch Perth on the break. They were more than a match for their much-fancied visitors in the first half hour, with both sides creating a number of decent chances. The first spot kick was awarded in the 33rd minute when Cyril Sharrock's fine reflex save from Naglieri bounced up into the arm of Andy Bowyer, Greg Sharland stepped up to the spot only to see his powerful strike to smack into the keeper's post and roll to safety. Armadale had a penalty of their own seven minutes later, Kevin Bissett going down under a strong challenge and former Perth player Peter Lord drilled straight down the middle as Simon Madaschi dove to his right.
Perth should have equalised soon after the restart, Naglieri forcing Sharrock into a superb flying save and from the resulting corner Trent Kay's powerful header was handled on the line by Ryan Pearson. Referee Jeremy Olifant had no hesitation pointing to the spot, and dismissing the Armadale defender, but Sharland sprayed the penalty kick well wide. Perth finally drew level on 71 minutes when Naglieri stole in at the back post to tap in after the ball was allowed to bounce through the 6-yard box, and in the aftermath Bowyer was issued his second yellow card for foul and abusive language. David Onoforo, Matt Danskin and Naglieri rained shots down as Perth piled on the pressure but on each occasion Sharrock was up to the task, while last ditch tackles by Liam Harvey and Ben Kelly further frustrated the visiting forwards.
KNIGHTS HOLD OUT AGAINST COCKERELS
A second half brace from Anthony Campbell has helped Western Knights record their third consecutive home victory of the season, defeating Cockburn City 3-2 at Nash Field. The three points propelled the Knights into third place after five games, just three points behind leaders Perth SC. An even beginning was punctuated after 16 minutes when Mario Marcinko put away his fourth goal of the season, the young striker's shot having too much power on it for goalkeeper Dejan Aleksic. Knights captain David Micevski nearly doubled their lead when he skilfully chested the ball down but his rasping shot on the volley flashed over the crossbar. The only other incident of note came just before the break when Johnny Mirco and David Price were both forced off with injury following a bone-jarring challenge.
The Knights came out firing on all cylinders for the second half and only needed two minutes to grab their second goal, Campbell forcing his way in from the left before shooting from a narrow angle between 'keeper and post to bring the crowd to their feet. Five minutes later Cockburn responded, striker Aaron Dos Santos' right foot shot travelling beyond Fraser Siddall's reach and into the top right corner. Appeals for a Knights penalty were turned away by referee Micheal Tolmie after Paul Natale brought Marcinko down inside the area. But it mattered little as the hosts extended their lead with 14 minutes left, Daniel Micevski sending in a delightful cross which Campbell glanced across Aleksic and inside the far post. Substitute Michael Grigo did reduce the deficit in stopage time but by then the points had already been settled.
CANNING TOO GOOD FOR THE GULLS (by Phil Unsworth)
Canning City turned in their best performance so far this season to convincingly beat reining champions Sorrento 4-2 at Willetton Sports Club. Captain Paul Van Dongen scored twice with Daniel Trevisiol and Admir Mehic also amongst the goals to lift Canning up to sixth position. "We set out today to beat them with football and we proved that we can play football," said coach Frank Longstaff, before hailing the win as Canning's coming of age. "Hopefully that signals the arrival of Canning. We're a big club, with a big junior set-up and plenty of kids to bring on, so hopefully it's our arrival."
The home team were quickly into stride and deservedly opened the scoring in the 11th minute, Jon Mathers starting a move channelled through Chaz Partridge and Roberto Lujan whose pin-point cross was expertly volleyed in by Trevisiol from 8-metres. It took only a further five minutes for the margin to be increased with Partridge playing out wide for Trevisiol whose perfectly weighted cross to the far post presented Van Dongen with the simple task of tapping over the line. Todd Harnwell had a chance to pull one back on the stroke of half-time but after breaking free of the defence the Gulls captain dragged his shot wide.
Harnwell should have done better than place high a few minutes into the second half as the visitors commenced the search for a second goal. The game looked to be over when Canning put away their third goal on 56 minutes when Van Dongen stormed up the pitch to set-up Partridge, and although his shot was kept out by Young's spectacular one-handed save where was no stopping the Canning captain as he drilled in from 10-metres. The game ebbed and flowed for the next twenty minutes, both teams putting together some promising moves but neither 'keeper was seriously tested.
Things really came to life in the final ten minutes, Harnwell looping his header from a free-kick over 'keeper Devon Spence to reduce the deficit. Canning, however, restored their three-goal buffer through newly introduced substitute Admir Mehic, whose cross from the right drifted over Young and inside the far post. The dismissal of Danny Cain on 87 minutes for a second yellow card offence then added to the Gulls disappointment. But they did snare a second consolation goal right on full-time when awarded a penalty for handball, Steve McDonald tucking away at the second opportunity after Spence had blocked his initial attempt.
LUCKY INGLEWOOD SNEAK HOME
Inglewood United made the most of their few chances to see off Stirling Lions 1-0 in a lacklustre affair at Macedonia Park. Mladen Kovacevic’s close-range effort early in the piece was enough to put Inglewood in the winner’s circle for only the second time this season. But the visitors certainly rose their luck in achieving maximum points, Stirling creating by far the greater number of chances only to be let down by poor finishing and an in-form Oliver Taseski. “It wasn’t pretty,” said Inglewood boss Lee Bamber. “We didn’t have the quality but we wanted to keep it tight. We had that fighting spirit which was lacking sometimes last week. Today was all about winning. We needed three points to move up the table and that's all that we wanted.”
A positive start by the home team had Keith Clevenger burst into the 18-yard box only to blaze over the crossbar after three minutes. That miss proved costly with Inglewood going ahead two minutes later, Rory Grant firing low across the face of goal and Mladen Kovacevic, unmarked at the far post, turned the ball in at point-blank range. Stirling responded well but neither Jason Mirco nor tom Kennedy could keep their shots down, while Clevenger outpaced Shane Pryce only to be brilliantly denied by Taseski in a one-on-one. Rory Grant finished a rare Inglewood attack by lashing into the side netting. Two minutes from half-time Steven Hesketh’s long ball put Clevenger in a great position to level but the young striker pulled his shot wide of the upright.
Stirling thought they’d equalised soon after the re-start when Rick Brewer headed past Taseski, however, referee Michael Nugus disallowed the striker’s effort for his push on an opponent. Young ‘keeper Mark Bentley showed his value by twice coming off his line to snuff out Inglewood counter attacks. The hosts kept on coming and a terrific move ended with Marc Anthony flashing a low shot past the post. Inglewood almost killed off the game on 79 minutes, Grant teeing up substitute Matt Worton whose stunning volley flew past the junction of bar and post. Taseski was quick off his line to thwart Jamie De Abreu in Stirling’s fruitless search of an equaliser, while Bentley foiled Louis Parkinson close to the final whistle to ensure a one-goal margin.
SWAN FINALLY GETS OFF THE MARK
Swan United recorded their first win in the 2009 Premier League season by with a comprehensive 3-0 victory against Mandurah City at the Hyundai Stadium. The visitors started the day propping up the table but strikes by Steven Guest and Tom Shepheard plus an early own goal saw them run out deserved winners and leap clear of last place. “It’s a great win for the club, everyone worked hard and we deserved the points,” said Swan’s hard-working midfielder John Mansaray after his first start of the campaign. “It’s nice to get back, I’ve missed training for a few weeks with injury but I feel fine now and I hope we can continue with our improvement and climb the table.”
The early signs were encouraging for the visiting team with Costa Socratous firing wide from 7-metres following a Brendan Knox corner after 4 minutes. But Mandurah soon settled and could have gone ahead eight minutes later when Jay Bonsar’s long ball sent clear Craig Young who was denied by Cory Hugo’s smothering save. Then on 17 minutes Swan went ahead, another well-flighted corner by Knox caused confusion in the home defence and the unfortunate Townsend headed into his own net. The goal lifted the visitors and with Mansaray and Socratous dominating the midfield they began to dominate.
A Brendan Craig free-kick found the head of Guest but his effort was held by Phil Straker before Swan won a succession of corners. They were rewarded with a second goal in the 28th minute via Knox’s pinpoint cross from the left which Guest headed in despite Chris Currie’s desperate attempt to clear off the line. Hayden Doyle attempted to lift the home side by delivering a cross to captain Andy Brown but his header was punched clear by Hugo. Swan should have held a three-goal lead at the break, Chris Currie’s poor clearance falling invitingly for Damian Scali who fired wide while Straker did well to keep out Knox’s shot from the edge of the 18-yard box.
With Stuart Currie’s address still ringing in their ears, Mandurah opened the second half well with Chris Currie heading just high at a corner before Phil O’Callaghan was thwarted by Mansaray’s superb tackle. Swan were feeling the heat as O’Callaghan went down inside the box under the challenge of Mansaray, but referee Stephen Gregory dismissed calls for a penalty. Not even the 59th minute loss of inspirational midfielder Brown to a second yellow card could stem the flow, Hugo keeping out efforts from Doyle and Bonser in quick succession. The points were eventually made safe when Shane Webb crossed to Shepheard to fired past Straker at close-range four minutes from the end.
BAYSWATER REASSERT THEMSELVES AS TITLE MATERIAL
Bayswater City made it three wins in a row by downing Morley Windmills 2-1 in an entertaining encounter at Frank Drago Reserve. Frank Madafferi and Tommy Jones converted in a tight game of very few chances before Morley pulled a goal back late through Alan Nanini. The early exchanges were, like the rest of the game, played out between the boxes and dominated by a couple of well-organised back lines. The first chance came on 13 minutes when Ryan Jeans outpaced the defence but placed too close to goalkeeper Stewart Delgardo, and soon after Simon El Chami’s explosive drive rose just high of the crossbar after a pacy move down the right.
The breakthrough came after 24 minutes, Jeans taking the ball to the touchline before centring for Madafferi to lash in from 6-metres with Delgardo caught out of position. Morley ended the half the stronger and El Chami was within inches of bringing the teams level with a terrific angled strike that smacked against the bar. Their best chance of the period came on 42 minutes when Mitch Brydon sent a low pass in behind the defence to an unmarked Eddie Walsh who sprayed over the bar when it appeared easier to hit the target.
Brydon was allowed a free run at goal nine minutes after the break but it was more through luck than good positioning that Bobson Koroma deflected his shot away. The momentum stayed with Morley and they would have had a second just after the hour when Koroma captured an Eddie Walsh cross destined for El Chami. Bayswater came back into the game after Anthony McStea’s brilliantly angled shot came back off the bar midway through the half. Eddie Walsh was causing problems down the left and in the 71st minute cut the ball low through the 18-yard box only to find no one following through to send it goal ward, a golden chance going wasted.
The game was decided with five minutes remaining when Tommy Jones sent Delgardo the wrong way from the penalty spot after being brought down by a sloppy Martin Sherwin tackle. The points were nearly secured soon after by a diving Anthony Jones header that hit the post from McStea’s near post delivery. This sparked Morley into a flurry of late activity. Jake Harman touched a bouncing ball past the advancing ‘keeper and wide from the top of the 18-yard box. Their reward came in stoppage time when substitute Scott McIlroy sent a free-kick into the area where Nanini rose unchallenged to head in their consolation.
PHOENIX GET BACK ON TRACK (courtesy South West Phoenix)
South West Phoenix moved to within two points of top spot after thumping Queens Park 5-0 at Westrak Stadium in Bunbury. It was clear early that this was to be a heavily one-sided affair. Phoenix opened the scoring when Dylan Stevens' cross from the right was powerfully headed in by Rory Binnie from near the penalty spot. The margin was soon doubled, Steve Suttie converting a penalty awarded for hand ball after 27 minutes. Captain Patrick Quinn added his name to the scoresheet by playing a one-two with Suttie before firing in from 14-metres.
The second half was by comparison quiet, Phoenix conceding possession a little too frequently but still Queens Park struggled to create much in the way of genuine chances. It was only during the latter stages that the hosts sparked back into life. A fine long-range strike by Quinn came back off the crossbar, and substitute Kieran Kavanagh also had a header strike the frame of the goal. A terrific diving header by Binnie took the gap to four goals after 78 minutes. David Rodgers got in on the act close to the final whistle by bundling the ball into the net following a Suttie cross.
THREE IN A ROW BY DIANELLA (courtesy Dianella White Eagles)
Dianella White Eagles have broken clear of a congested mid-table with a solid 3-0 win against Gosnells City at Walter Padbury Reserve. Dragic Njegic gave Dianella a 5th minute lead by drawing goalkeeper Jade Thorpe off his line before slotting into the net after a failed attempt to clear a Wes Ryder cross. Kris Spaseski had a couple of chances to increase the lead either side Darren Francis’ superb effort from 16-metres which Matt Battigelli pushed around the post. Dianella were well in control and in the 27th minute Spaseski made amends for his earlier misses by tapping in at the back post from another Ryder cross. Gosnells should have pulled a goal back eight minutes later through Stuart Aitkin who charged clear but placed wide.
The game was over as a contest twelve minutes after the break when from Milan Bogunovic’s delivery Njegic neatly headed in Dianella’s third of the afternoon. With the visitors easing off a little, Gosnells now started to create some meaningful chances with Luke Wilkshire hitting the crossbar from 18-metres and Luke Woodard flashing a long-range pile driver wide. A quickly taken free-kick by Stefan Drca put Njegic in the clear but the Dianella captain’s goal bound effort was blocked by some desperate defending. Gosnells were fortunate to finish with all eleven men on the field following Dave Abbot’s crude challenge on Spaseski that resulted in only a booking. The closest Gosnells came to scoring was late in the piece when a hard-working Alan Claxton headed against the post.
BUNDESLIGA STRIKER READY TO SIGN UP
Perth Glory are poised to swoop on Germany-based striker Branko Jelic, who has been released by Bundesliga outfit Energie Cottbus. Jelic, 32, had a year to run on his Cottbus contract but the club have agreed to release him so he could pursue a move to Australia with his wife, who has family in Perth, and two children. Glory has agreed terms with the striker but formalities must be completed before coach David Mitchell can be sure he has his man. Jelic has made 35 appearances and scored six goals since joining Cottbus last year after a prolific spell in China for Beijing Guoan and Xiamen Lanshi.
Mitchell watched Jelic in training for Cottbus last month and met him to gauge interest. “I like the character of the person and the fact he has played at such a high level is fantastic,” said Mitchell following his European scouting trip. “He was on a lot of money in Germany but this is not a money move for him. It’s more about lifestyle for him and his family but it’s also because we spoke to him about what was happening at the club and he was keen to come. He’s heard a lot of things about Perth and he felt comfortable with what the club are doing.” It is expected Jelic will be available for Glory’s pre-season friendlies against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Fulham in July.
THE PREMIER LEAGUE IN PREVIEW
The Premier League match of the week takes us to Litis Stadium on Sunday when Floreat Athena match skills with ECU Joondalup (3.00pm). Michael Roki, coach of Floreat, he is hoping his side can bounce back from last weeks surprise loss at Western Knights. “Joondalup has obviously stepped up and we will need to be back to our best to maintain our home record,” he said. “If we can get a good result on Sunday we will be on target to achieve our set objectives for the first five matches.”
Joondalup coach Syd Amphlett is looking forward to visiting the 2007 Premier League champions. “The big games just keep coming! Floreat are a very good side, always difficult to beat and am sure Sunday will be no exception,” Amphlett said. Steve Porter returns from suspension and new import Jamie Watt has been cleared to play, however, these gains are offset by Martin Ashworth’s unavailability due to work while an injury cloud hangs over youngster John Walmsley. The game is broadcast live on 107.3 Heritage FM from 2.45pm.
The round opens on Saturday when second-placed Mandurah City welcome low-flying Swan United to the Hyundai Stadium (3.00pm). With Phil O’Callaghan continuing his goalscoring feats of last season and Craig Young, Andy Brown and new recruit Hayden Doyle firing it’s shaping up to be a long afternoon for Swan. Only one of Stirling Lions and Inglewood United will go home from Macedonia Park happy. Both are coming off heavy losses and in desperate need for three points to kick start their season. Stirling will be without suspended pair Jordan Rhodes and Dino Pacella whereas Inglewood are hopeful of regaining Jamie Mitsopoulos’ services.
There’s an absolute cracker of a game at Nash Field with Western Knights up against Cockburn City (3.00pm). David Price, Anthony Campbell and Cormac Dawson were outstanding in the Knights defeat of Floreat, likewise Johnny Mirco, Jason Dos Santos and Paul Natale when Cockburn came from behind to take a point from Sorrento. The final afternoon fixture takes place at Willetton Sportsman Club where Canning City welcomes Sorrento (3.00pm). Injury keeps Paul Oliver on the sidelines but with Jon Mathers nearing full fitness Canning have good reason to be confident of getting a result against a Gulls line-up still missing several stars.
Alfred Skeet Oval hosts the Saturday twilight game between table topping Perth SC and their hosts Armadale (5.00pm). Brad Hassell is looking forward to the challenge of becoming the first coach this season to take anything away from Perth, whose record starts at four wins from four starts. “We’re coming up against the form team of the League and I will need eleven Armadale players giving their all on the weekend,” he said. But with Greg Sharland, David Onoforo and Todd Howarth firing on all cylinders at the moment it’s Perth that head into the weekend as red-hot favourites.
THE FIRST DIVISION IN PREVIEW
Neighbours Bayswater City and Morley Windmills go head-to-head at Frank Drago Reserve in the pick of this weekend’s First Division fixtures. Pre-season favourites Bayswater have put some early stuttering behind them with a couple of big wins whereas their visitors sit on top of the table with a quartet of victories. “It would be great to take all three points from Bayswater, they have the best squad in the league by far,” said Morley coach Tom Kilkelly, whose has injury clouds over several players. “But it’s a hell of a task we have, we haven’t played any team that you could say are potential champions so getting anything out of this game will be a tremendous result for our club.”
The mid-table meeting of Fremantle Spirit and Forrestfield United at Wauhop Park has the potential to shape the rest of their respective seasons. Season ending injuries to Dale Wingell and Vas Kalogeracos may have left the port side with some big holes to fill but coach Marc Wingell isn’t about to start complaining. “We’ve got a wonderful group of young players with good habits that are willing to learn and improve as players. Even though our club is in a rebuilding stage we will still be more than competitive,” commented Wingell. Forrestfield were quite simply a class above South West Phoenix last week and coach John Hunter would more than welcome an encore performance.
Balcatta coach Salv Todaro won’t be taking anything for granted when second from bottom Ashfield venture to Graham Burkett Reserve. Ashfield gave arguably their strongest performance of the season last week when they went down by the narrowest of margins to table topping Morley. “By all accounts Ashfield played well on the weekend and, just like any team we play, we’ll be giving them the respect they deserve and if we don’t then we will be made to pay for it,” said Todaro, whose team lost at Dianella White Eagles. “After our indifferent performance last week we need to get back on track if want to keep in touch with the sides at the top of the league.”
Wanneroo City and Rockingham City want maximum points from their meeting at Kingsway Sporting Complex for very different reasons. A fourth straight win will consolidate second place for Wanneroo, whereas Rockingham are determined to halt their slide down the table following back-to-back loses. No one at South West Phoenix was happy with last weeks flat performance so you can be assured they’ll be fired up and ready to knock a few goals past Queens Park when they visit Bunbury. Dianella White Eagles can break clear of a congested mid-table by making it three wins on the trot when they travel to Gosnells City, who’ll be no pushover having accounted for Fremantle Spirit last time out.
HARNWELL UNCONCERNED BY LATE START
Perth Glory veteran Jamie Harnwell has dismissed suggestions the team's late start to the pre-season will hamper their chances of success in 2009/10. Glory eased into their pre-season program this morning at Members Equity Stadium under the watchful eye of coach David Mitchell, who has just returned from a scouting mission in Europe. They've given a head start to their A-League rivals, with most clubs starting their preparations a month ago and Newcastle and Central Coast continuing through from last season via the AFC Champions League.
But Harnwell, who admitted the side had gone into previous campaigns underdone, said that it would not be an issue by the time their first competitive outing comes around. "You look at teams in Europe that will do six weeks of pre-season and we've still got three months to get ourselves up and ready for the games, so I don't think there's any disadvantage in starting a week or two later than other clubs," he said. "We've got our full-time fitness and strength conditioning coach with us so I'm sure there'll be a few different things that we haven't seen before. We'll obviously get eased in over the first day or two but I think it's going to be a pretty strenuous pre-season."
Glamour friendlies against English clubs Fulham and Wolverhampton Wanderers, and Robbie Fowler's North Queensland Fury highlight Glory's pre-season. "There's going to be real competition for places just for those games, let alone for the season," Harnwell said. "It certainly adds a bit more pressure to the pre-season but you've also got this massive focus on this great opportunity to perform against the best players in the world. We've got three games in a week so there's plenty of time for everyone to put pressure on for spots." Glory's season proper commences with trips to Adelaide United (7th August) and Wellington Phoenix (16th August) before heading home to face Newcastle Jets on 23rd August.
MCNALLY RETURNS IN THE NEST
Swan United has welcomed defender David McNally back to the club, five months after his departure for the supposed greener pastures of Sorrento. McNally admits his move to Sorrento didn’t go as well as he’d have liked and he’s now looking forward to playing first team football again. “I stuck it out for as long as I could at Sorrento but in the end I couldn’t afford to travel all that way and play reserves,” he said. “I think first team football is what I need to be playing in order to develop my game, plus Swan is a great club with a great bunch of guys, committee and coaches. I’m looking forward to wearing the black and white jersey again in the coming weeks.”
Although first team opportunities eluded him at Sorrento, 20-year old McNally enjoyed the experience of training alongside some of the best players in the State League. “I’ve no regrets at all, I learnt a lot while I was at Sorrento, it’s a great club and is very professional, but its just a shame the first team squad had so many quality centre backs. It’s tough getting into the backline with the likes of Steve McDonald, Shaun Kilkelly, Danny Cain, Michael Ord and Daryl Platten to compete with,” McNally said. “I spoke to the club on Tuesday and told them of my decision and they wished me all the best when I left and were very professional. It will be good to come up against them in two weeks time in the League.”
McNally knows he’ll have to prove himself all over again to coach Paul Lincoln in order to earn a place in the first eleven. But having done exactly that last season, the confident young defender is more than ready to put in the hard yards. “It was a big step from the 23’s to first team, it’s a lot more physical and quicker but it one I believe I can achieve again,” he said. “As a first team player you have to be switched on and focused for the whole game. I was fortunate last year to play alongside Aaron Cole, which helped me with the step up from reserves, and I’m looking forward to restabilising our partnership.” Swan are away to Mandurah City on Saturday.
COYNE UNDONE IN PRE-SEASON
Chris Coyne has no intention of repeating the mistakes this English summer that he believes cost him almost an entire season of competitive football. Coyne, 30, was supposed to captain Colchester into a new era at the Weston Homes Community Stadium but instead played just 22 times in a season riddled by injury and surrounded by speculation over his commitment to the club. "This season has been really disappointing for me, and I put that down to not having a pre-season for the first time in my career," Coyne told the 'East Anglian Daily Times'.
The big defender will spend the first part of the off-season on duty for Australia before resting up for the 2009/10 English season. "We have some big games coming up. We only need one more point to qualify," he said of Australia's upcoming World Cup Qualifiers. "After that I'll be wrapping myself up in cotton wool this time. I want to make sure that I am ready for next season, and the manager has given me an extra week to recover. I'll be back on July 6/7 rather than July 1."
The 2009/10 Perth Glory Youth squad is coming together under the watchful eye of coach Gareth Naven and his team of selectors. 30 of the 50 players invited to attend initial trials three weeks ago remain with Naven planning to select a provisional squad within the next fortnight. This group of players will train together until August when the final squad of up to 16 players will be selected for the second National Youth League season.
Floreat Athena defender Jarrad Smith is set for a spell on the sidelines after fracturing his ankle in Sunday’s loss at Western Knights. Smith, 23, exited the game late in the first half after what was initially thought to be ligament damage suffered in an awkward landing after contesting a header. The fracture was revealed and confirmed by post-game scans, forcing Smith to miss at least a months’ action.
ECU Joondalup have added former Harlow Town player Jordan Withey to their 2009 playing roster. Withey, 19, made a handful of appearances for Harlow on the right side of midfield prior to his emigrations to Perth. Withey, who learned his trade in the youth ranks at AFC Stoneham and Sewardstone Rovers, and will be available to make his Joondalup debut once granted international clearance.
Promising young Dianella White Eagles goalkeeper Matt Battigelli has brought his season to an early end. Having played through the pain of a chronic hand injury for eighteen months Battigelli has decided enough is enough and scheduled himself in for surgery in the next couple of weeks. Battigelli's command on the last line of defence will be sorely missed as Dianella attempt to improve on last seasons' fifth placing.
Up and coming whistleblower Josh Mihevc has been selected to officiate at the upcoming Arafura Games, a multi-sport event held every two years in Darwin. The talented 22-year old is a State League referee and a member of the Assistant Referee panel for the National Youth League. Mihevc will officiate matches in the Under 18 Male tournament which commences 9th May.
Perth Glory has targeted former Arsenal and Barcelona star Marc Overmars as a marquee signing for next season. Coach David Mitchell confirmed in the weekend to meeting with the 36-year old, who played 86 times for the Netherlands, during his scouting trip to Europe. A knee injury forced Overmars into retirement in 2004 but last year he returned to playing at second-tier Dutch club Go Ahead Eagles.
WAIS WOMENS COACH ANNOUNCED
Former national league player John Gibson has been appointed coach of the Western Australian Institute of Sport’s new women’s football program. Gibson, currently part of the Young Matilda’s and Young Socceroos coaching staff, brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role. “John will be a great addition to the team at WAIS, with his resume adding to an impressive list of achievements by our cohort of coaches,” said WAIS executive director Steve Lawrence. Gibson made over 300 national league appearances and was part of the Australian squad at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.
The new WAIS women’s program is the result of a partnership between Football Federation Australia, Football West and WAIS. A squad of approximately sixteen players will be chosen by Gibson in consultation with other WAIS and Football West staff during the next month. The initial squad is expected to include current national team players Collette McCallum, Lisa de Vanna and rising star Samantha Kerr. The athletes chosen will take part in an Intensive Training Centre program designed to develop the players technically, tactically, physiologically and psychologically to play the game at the highest level.
FINAL CURTAIN CALL FOR CUMACE
Every player knows that the day will eventually come when it's his time to hang up the boots, and for Bayswater City's Tony Cumace that time arrived last week. The 29-year old defender experienced all the highs and lows football has to offer in an eleven-year senior career, which has been brought to an end by a series of niggling injuries. "It's been a great ride for me but I just knew it was time," he commented. "It's hard to explain but after so many years of fighting injury, I just said that's it."
Cumace came up through the ranks at Perth SC, making his first team debut in 1997 before spells with Sorrento, Swan IC and Bayswater. "I've enjoyed my entire football career. Being part of the Under-17 Australian side, the Joeys, which toured South America was a great experience and a definite highlight," said Cumace, who lined-up alongside current Socceroo Jason Culina on that trip. "On the local front it's hard to go past winning the 1999 Premier League championship with Sorrento - a great side and a great club."
Down the years Cumace benefited enormously from several quality coaches. "I wouldn't like to mention just one coach, I've been extremely fortunate to have worked with some great people," Cumace said. "My first ever coach is still my biggest fan, Joe Lione at Balcatta helped me learn the basics and was my biggest influence. And at senior level Gary Marocchi, Trevor Morgan, Graham Normanton all gave me something - as a player you should take a piece from every coach because you never stop learning."
Marocchi's son, Christian, played alongside Cumace as a junior with Balcatta. "The kids came through junior State teams together and have been close friends ever since," said the former Socceroo. "Tony was a talented player who was versatile and could play anywhere in the back four, and was excellent at free-kicks within shooting range. Unfortunately, injury problems have curtailed his playing career but we remain close friends due to his relations with my children ... I'd like to wish him all the best in the future."
There was little hesitation by Cumace when asked who his most difficult opponents were. "As a teenager at Sorrento we built a huge rivalry with the Western Knights and Carl Medica always was a hand full. He had this ability to have the ball bounce perfectly for him and was incredibly difficult to mark," said Cumace, whose job required he keep close tabs on the best goal scorers West Australia has produced in the past decade.
Cumace has witnessed first hand some significant changes to State League football and believes there needs to be further refinement in order for the game to remain attractive to fans. "If I was Football West I'd be worried. We have 24 semi-professional teams - this is not sustainable in my opinion," he said. "I would like to see a Super League with ten teams who are financially stable and have the facilities to support the growing game, set it up like the WAFL."
Work committments will keep Cumace busy for the remainder of this year but somewhere down the track he intends returning to football in a coaching capacity. "I'll stay away from the game in 2009, and focus on my job. The global credit meltdown has a huge affect on work day, so I'll need to be totally committed to Westpac and my clients," he said. "In the future, I would like to coach at a high level in Australia, so I'll start from the bottom and coach a junior side next year and take it from there."
WILLIAMS TO MISS PLAY-OFFS
Burnley manager Owen Coyle does not expect to have on-loan defender Rhys Williams available for the club’s Championship play-off campaign. Williams joined the Clarets in January on a 93-day emergency loan agreement which ended on Monday - the day after Burnley thumped Bristol City 4-0 to secure a top six finish to their season. Mindful his club could make the play-offs, Coyle requested a loan extension from Middlesbrough six weeks ago but admits the Wales Under-21 international is likely to return to the North East. “Rhys Williams will probably miss out because Middlesbrough at the time wouldn’t give us a standard loan,” explained Coyle. “I sent an appeal in about six weeks ago because I believed this group of players were good enough to get us in the play-offs, and it was turned down. I’ll obviously have another go at that because we, at the time, stated an intention that we wanted Rhys until the end of the season. Middlesbrough, which I was understanding of, wanted it in case they had to recall him for the FA Cup, and that’s why it was an emergency loan. That’ll be disappointing if the kid misses out because he’s been great for us, and equally I think we’ve been great for him.”
"EMBARRASSING" STADIUM SET FOR TEMPORARY UPGRADE
The facilities at Members Equity Stadium will undergo a temporary transformation in July for the visit of English clubs Wolverhampton Wanderers and Fulham to accommodate a greater number of fans and corporate clients. Perth Glory chairman Tony Sage yesterday labelled the venue "embarrassing" and is continuing his combined push with Rugby WA and WA Rugby League for a $73 million upgrade of the stadium. Peter Bauchop, the chief executive of venue manager Allia, said the capacity of Members Equity Stadium will be increased to around 20,700 – up from 18,156 – for Glory's two glamour pre-season fixtures with the addition of temporary facilities at either end of the ground.
Allia will also investigate ways to temporarily upgrade the changing room facilities under the main stand on the western side of the ground. The relocation of ice baths, new carpet and a change of the seating configuration in the dressing rooms are all on the cards. "They're using facilities that were built in 1956," Bauchop said. "We can guarantee they’ll be clean but they're not going to be state-of-the-art unfortunately. We'll definitely work with all the stakeholders to do the best with what we've got. We're just going to keep pushing to do the best with that."
Bauchop said the three rectangular football codes and Allia are united in their views on a permanent upgrade for Members Equity Stadium, which they want the State government to pay for, and believes that the July friendly fixtures will help their bid. "I think anything that shows the stadium in its full use, whereby we need higher level facilities, will assist," he said. "I definitely believe we're all united. The owners and the users definitely all want the same thing because it's all going to give us positive outcomes, there's no downside about upgrading this stadium." Super 14 franchise Western Force will relocate to the East Perth ground from next season.
BURNS IS GLORY’S SOCCEROO
Perth Glory has secured a major on-field asset with Socceroos midfielder Jacob Burns agreeing to a three-year deal. Burns will return to Australia after a successful career in Europe which has taken seen him play top flight football in England, Poland and Romania. Coach David Mitchell has kept close tabs on the midfielder since developing Burns at Sydney United and Parramatta Power. “I’ve known Jacob for many years, he has a great attitude, he’s very competitive and above all he is a wonderful player. There is no doubt in my mind that he will be key component of our side this season,” Mitchell said. “He is a box to box player, able to get forward and be a danger in front of goal while also having the work ethic to get back and stop them at the other end.”
Burns started his senior career with 60 appearances for Sydney and a further 25 at Parramatta in the now defunct National Soccer League. In mid-2000 he joined English Premier League club Leeds United where managed to play ten first team games across three seasons. Burnley was his next port of call, Burns playing 101 games for the club but moved on soon after winning promotion to the Championship at the end of the 2005/06 campaign. It was during this period that he gained the first of 8 senior caps for Australia against Kuwait. Three seasons at Polish club Wisla Krakow preceded Burns move to Romania where he played last season with Unirea Urziceni.
It is not yet known when Burns will join his new team mates with the midfielder expected to have Socceroos duties over coming months. “When he will join the team is still a bit unknown, it will depend on any impending Socceroos commitments but either way he’ll be preparing himself well for the season ahead,” said Mitchell. He is still playing at the moment so fitness won’t be a concern at all and I don’t think it will take long for him to gel with the squad.” Glory has 17 contracted players for the 2009/10 A-League season and is continuing negotiations with additional high profile players which will be announced once finalised.
FULHAM BOOK IN FOR PERTH VISIT
Perth Glory has scored another vital goal as they prepare for the coming season with English Premier League club Fulham agreeing to play a pre-season friendly in Perth. It's a massive coup for Glory who'll tackle Wolverhampton Wanderers and Fulham in the space of a few days during July. "This is an historic and momentous occasion for Perth Glory and football in Western Australia," said Glory chairman Tony Sage. "It has been more than a decade since a top-flight European side has played in Western Australia and now we're delivering two of the best in a week! I've made a commitment to give something to Western Australia, enhance the profile of football in this state and take Perth Glory back to the top and this is just part of that commitment."
In a further treat for local fans, A-League newcomers North Queensland Fury, who feature former England international Robbie Fowler, will also take part in the July blockbusters. Glory are scheduled to play Wolves on Friday 10th July and five days later will be part of a massive double header in which Glory come up against Fulham, and Wolves take on Fury. "There has been plenty of buzz around since we announced Wolverhampton were coming and having Fulham, Fowler and the Fury here as well will get the heart rate pumping even faster," said Sage. "This is a treat not only for Perth Glory supporters but for sporting fans in general in WA."
Fulham manager Roy Hodgson is excited about the trip down under which he sees as perfect preparation for his teams new campaign. "I am very pleased that we can announce our early pre-season plans and, although this season is yet to end, I am looking forward to our trip to Australia," said Hodgson, whose team wil also play in Queensland and Melbourne. "We have an opportunity to play three teams of quality who I am sure will want to put on good performances against us, which of course is what one hopes will assist the team in both their personal preparations, but also of course collectively."
Glory coach David Mitchell, who spent time at Fulham on his recent scouting trip to Europe, is also excited about challenging his players against top quality opposition. "You couldn't ask for better pre-season program than taking on these great sides," he said. "Tony (Sage) has invested a significant amount to get these teams here and we will use the time to learn as much as we can. Preparation is paramount to success and with these sides coming over we are definitely on the right path for our season. It is a wonderful opportunity for fans to see some great games while for our players it's a chance to take on some of the best in the world and no doubt they'll be out there to make a good impression."
SHARLAND STEALS THE SHOW IN PERTH ROMP (with Chris Correia, Football West)
Perth SC stretched their winning run to four games with an inspired second half performance saw them past inner city rival Inglewood United 6-2 at Dorrien Gardens. Greg Sharland’s second hat-trick of the season helped his team overturn a half-time deficit and consolidate place on top of the Premier League. “We always knew Inglewood would be hard to wear down and their first half performance proved that point,” said Perth boss Graham Normanton. “To score five unanswered goals in a blistering second 45 minutes was as good as it gets! Greg’s hat-trick was the highlight, however, the whole team played some quality, flowing football. It was a pleasure to watch and an absolute delight to see the players thoroughly enjoying their football and reaping the rewards.”
The home side came out firing and with only 3 minutes on the clock had the lead, Sharland volleying in at close-range after Todd Howarth’s corner from the right passed a few heads and travelled to the back post. All the early signs may have been ominous for Inglewood, however, they responded in the best possible fashion with Mladen Kovacevic angling his shot into the net after goalkeeper Simon Madaschi parried his initial 13th minute effort. The game was turned on its head five minutes later as Jason Colli threaded the ball to an unmarked Mladen Kovacevic whose shot from the edge of the 18-yard box found the back of the net via the upright. Antonio Naglieri and Phil Arnold had chances to level leading into the break but neither was able to capitalise, while at the other end Mladen Kovacevic’s free-kick whistled past the post.
The second half opened with Perth stepping up a gear to take control. Only five minutes had ticked by when Danny Kovacevic’s bump on Marco Pelosi resulted in a penalty to the home side, and up stepped Sharland to blast just beyond the reach of Taseski. Perth soon took the lead, Naglieri’s inch-perfect cross picking out Howarth to slot in his fourth goal in two games. David Onoforo had a quiet game for his standards but still managed to get on the scoresheet in the 68th minute when he shot straight at Taseski, the ball bobbling off the ‘keeper to bounce over the line. Perth’s fifth came in the 81st minute when Sharland, Naglieri and Onoforo combined in the lead-up and Arnold netted in a goalmouth scramble. The scoring was completed soon after when Howarth delivered a superb ball to the near post where an unmarked Sharland nodded into the net.
KNIGHTS SLAY UNBEATEN FLOREAT
Floreat Athena’s winning start to the season has been brought to a crashing halt by Western Knights, who ran out 3-1 victors on today’s encounter at Nash Field. Simon Elton-Bott’s late first half strike was quickly cancelled out by Barry Devlin, with Anthony Campbell and Cormac Dawson converting the Knights dominance into goals after the interval. “Both the timing and nature of their equaliser had a psychological impact on us and was a turning point for both sides,” said Floreat coach Michael Roki. “Nash Field suits tight defences like the Knights, who were stronger for the 90 minutes. But we know that we can play far better than we did on this occasion, the disappointment is we had too many below par performances on the day.”
The majority of first half chances came the way of the home team, their first arriving on 5 minutes for Anthony Campbell who fired into the side netting an angle. Eight minutes later Floreat were caught sleeping at a corner as the ball was played short to an unmarked Daniel Micevski but his drive sailed just over the crossbar. Floreat had Vas Vujacic to thank that they did not find themselves in arrears on 29 minutes with the goalkeeper doing well to push around the post David Price’s powerful low drive through a crowded 18-yard box. From the resulting corner it was a case of déjà vu, as again the ball was played to an unmarked Daniel Micevski and again his shot sailed high.
The turning point arrived in the 38th minute when Floreat lost the influence of Jarrad Smith, who landed awkwardly when contesting a header. Coach Michael Roki was forced into a re-shuffle that saw Dean Apelgren drop into the centre of defence with Paul Vatistas joining the midfield. The changes worked a treat with Floreat hitting the front just five minutes later, albeit somewhat fortunately. Elton-Bott cut in from the right to hit a curling low cross that evaded team mate Brad Scott, the Knights’ defence and stranded ‘keeper Fraser Siddall to find the back of the net. However, the lead was short lived as in stoppage time Daniel Micevski swung in a delightful corner that Devlin headed powerfully past the gloves of Vas Vujacic.
The Knights came out the stronger in the second half with early chances falling to Mario Marcinko and David Micevski. On the hour mark the Knights took a deserved lead, Devlin winning the ball deep in his own half and sending a wonderful pass into the path of Campbell who surged into the box and, under pressure from Ante Kovacevic, to poked past a slow-to-react ‘keeper. The win was sealed eight minutes later when Marcinko pressured Kovacevic into conceding possession, Price carried the ball to the edge of the box, drew the lone defender before slipping it to Dawson who bobbled his shot over the advancing Vas Vujacic. Floreat refused to give up late in the piece Siddal was stretched by Miki Vujacic’s 20-metre drive, while Daniel Micevski made a telling tackle to thwart John Migas as he lined up the target.
YOUNGSTERS STEP UP FOR GLORY
Perth Glory has added local youngsters Anthony Skorich, Howard Fondyke and Brent Griffiths to the senior set-up for the 2009/10 A-League season. The talented trio join Glory Youth team mates Andrija Jukic and Scott Neville in a senior squad brimming with local stars in the making. "It's terrific to promote WA talent if they're up to the grade and these boys can hold their own on the football pitch," said assistant coach Kenny Lowe. "There is a huge amount of interest in the local players and if the people in the terraces have an affinity with the people on the park then I think it creates a terrific bond between supporters and the club. All the young boys are a work in progress and the real hard work starts for them now."
Jukic, Neville and Skorich all experienced A-League action last season and showed the club's youth brigade has what it takes to make an immediate impact at the top level. "We didn't have an expectation on the number of young players that would come through the youth team and be ready for the next step but we've been pleasantly surprised," added Lowe. "There is a good underlying current of quality in WA. The lads who have joined the club have great potential and what we need to do is help them turn that into reality, much the same as someone like Nikita Rukavytsya. If we achieve that then the player, the club and the supporters all benefit. There is a pathway there for the local players and we're delighted to be able to integrate these outstanding young men into the squad."
Skorich proved he has attacking nous to fill at least part of the void created by Rukavytsya's move to Europe with five goals in eleven games at youth level. A well-timed header also gave the striker his first senior goal in Glory's Round 21 at clash Queensland Roar. Glory receives added impetus to the midfield with Fondyke continuing his rapid development. The former Australian Institute of Sport scholarship holder played 13 Youth team matches in 2008/09 and has a silky set of skills coupled with great vision and passing range. Griffiths is eager to hit the pitch again after a niggling injury forced him out of the second half of the Youth season. The 19-year old turned down an opportunity to extend his stay at Blackburn Rovers to achieve his goal of playing in the A-League with Glory.
MANDURAH GRIND OUT WIN NUMBER THREE
Mandurah City propelled themselves into second place with a fighting 2-0 win over Canning City under lights at Hyundai Stadium. Second half goals from Christian Paschewitz and Phil O'Callaghan earned Mandurah their first win against newly promoted Canning, who had won the three previous meetings this year. "We always seem to be a little apprehensive when we play Canning, and I think it was the same today," said Mandurah boss Stuart Currie after the game. "However, I do think we deserved the points today. Once we scored that first goal we were always going to win."
Neither side created much when going forward during the first half, although Canning did go close early in a goalmouth scramble. Mandurah's fluent movement allowed them to soon establish control, however, it was only through unneccessary defensive errors that they threatened to break through. Their first opening came on 7 minutes when O'Callaghan pounced to go one-on-one with goalkeeper Devon Spence, but instead of taking the shot himself the striker squared to Michael Currie who was foiled by the goalkeeper's reflexes. Canning again put themselves under pressure as O'Callaghan chased down an under-hit back pass to Spence, his clearance went straight to Craig Young whose snap shot flew just wide of the empty net.
The deadlock was eventually broken on the hour by Paschewitz who got on the end of an in-swinging Stephen Payne corner which he headed in powerfully from 8-metres. Eleven minutes later Hayden Doyle played a delightful pass in to O'Callaghan who calmly angled the ball between Spence and his near post to make the points safe. Andy Brown was unfortunate not to get on the scoresheet with a fierce shot that was parried away by Spence as Mandurah pushed for a third. Paul Van Dongen cleared a goal bound shot off his goal line while Spence again came to the visitors rescue with another good save from Chris Wylie. Canning had to wait until the 90th minute for their first and only opportunity which Floyd Duffy fired past Phil Straker only for the referee to blow for an infringement in the lead-up.
FIVE-STAR JOONDALUP CRUSH LIONS (by Tim Lefort, Football West)
ECU Joondalup responded to successive losses by hammering Stirling Lions 5-0 in the northern suburbs. Charlie Comyn-Platt’s header midway through the opening period was all that separated the sides at the break but the dismissal of Jordan Rhodes swung the game in the hosts favour as Ryan Williams, Ian McMurray, Scott Bushby and Jake Benson-Cooper all got on the scoresheet. “Very happy with the way we played and the way we achieved that result as well,” said Joondalup coach Syd Amphlett after the game. “The sending-off probably did change it but I was quite confident we could we would get the result. The game plan worked an absolute treat, everybody did their job. There was a bit of a dispute over a penalty for Stirling but that’s the way football goes - some weeks you get them and some weeks you don’t.”
There was little to suggest such a one-sided contest in the early stages. Davvyd Jones was the first goalkeeper called into any sort of action, holding onto a flicked header from Rick Brewer after 9 minutes. Joondalup responded through Williams’ a low drive from 17-metres that flew well wide, and a few minutes later the same player was unable to get enough power to beat Mark Bentley from close-range after Bushby had done well down the left. But Stirling weren’t so lucky in the 22nd minute, Jon Higgins swinging in a corner which Jones failed to make contact with, presenting Comyn-Platt a simple header at the back post to put his team ahead. Brewer had a chance to reply immediately but the striker was denied by a fine save from Jones. Steven Hesketh flashed a header over the bar on 27 minutes as the visitors threatened to get back on level terms.
Shortly after McMurray missed a golden chance to give his side a bit of breathing space after Williams beat his man to deliver a low cross to the Joondalup captain. McMurray wasted another opportunity moments later, this time it was Bushby who set him up with a cross from the right only for the unmarked striker to head straight at Bentley. Stirling might have made the most of their let-off six minutes before the break when Brewer met a ball in from the right but could only watch in frustration as his bullet-like effort from 10-metres crashed off the crossbar, and Ludovic Boi blazed over at the follow-up. The visitors finished the half well and had strong claims for a penalty knocked back when Dean Evans went down in the box, and to add insult to injury referee David Scragg booked the Stirling player for diving.
Like the first period, the second half took a while to get going and it was the home side who increased their lead after 55 minutes. A long free-kick was flicked on to Higgins wide on the left and when his cross came over Williams was on hand at the far post to drive the ball past Bentley. At the other end Brewer got the better of Jones in an aerial challenge but was denied by from Comyn-Platt’s acrobatic goal line clearance. Rhodes was soon sent off for abusive language directed towards a member of the crowd, leaving Stirling to play the final half hour a man down. Bentley made a fine save to deny Higgins before visiting coach Mike Lyons brought youngsters James Brooks and Jason Mirco off the bench.
However, it was Amphlett’s side who went further ahead with twelve minutes remaining, Bentley did well to keep out an initial effort by McMurray who was able to round the grounded ‘keeper and slot the ball in. The home side were far from finished and Bushby completed a surging run with a superb low strike from the edge of the area to make it four-nil. To their credit, Stirling battled on with Brewer heading narrowly high, while a deflection took Hesketh’s well-hit volley past the post. But the visitors woes were compounded in stoppage time when substitute Benson-Cooper angled in a powerful drive. It was just wasn’t Stirling days with Josh Risdon’s goal line clearance denying Boi a late consolation.
HOME WOES CONTINUE FOR GULLS (by Chris Leitch, Football West)
Cockburn City had to settle for a 3-3 draw with Sorrento after throwing away a two-goal cushion at Percy Doyle Reserve. The Gulls showed great character in coming from behind and looked set to claim all the points on offer when Josh Findlater brought the teams level with minutes remaining. Mirko Jelicic, coach of Cockburn, conceded his team must improve its concentration and commitment after conceding seven goals in their last two fixtures. "I thought the boys controlled the game quiet well but again, cheap goals were our undoing," he said. "At 2-0 you should be able to hold that lead so I'm disappointed that they came back from that. But at the end of the day, we've actually done quite well to get a point out of it. Coming to Sorrento, it's a hard venue to get points at so it's a point well earned but we've got to look at the other side, in that it's two points lost."
Michael Mirco put the visitors ahead after 14 minutes by netting at close-range after taking full advantage of some sloppy defending. An own goal by Danny Cain made it two-nil after 23 minutes, leading Gulls custodian Neil Young to vented his fury at his defence, who were again slow to react to Cockburn's advances. Cain redeemed himself on the half hour by heading powerfully past young goalkeeper Dejan Aleksic after he was left unmarked at a corner. Sorrento was back on level terms just before the break after Lewis Flatt's perfect through-ball was touched past Aleksic by captain Todd Harnwell. With 72 minutes played Dusan Macura put the ball into his own net, heading past Aleksic in a badly bungled clearance, to make it advantage Sorrento. Findlater earned his team a share of the points by firing the Cockerels third past Young in the 82nd minute.
DULL DRAW GIVES SWAN AND ARMADALE A POINT
Honours were even in the Swan Valley where Swan United and Armadale played out an uninspired 2-2 draw. The only thing remarkable about the game was that either team managed to find the back of the net, let alone do so twice each. Swan looked to be home when Damian Scali’s second penalty conversion restored their lead after an unfortunate own goal by Dom Ando put the teams level soon after the break. But in stoppage time Kevin Bissett managed to poke in an equaliser and earn his side a deserved share of the points. “The lads worked really hard today, and the result could have gone either way,” said Bissett after the final whistle. “I had to battle all day but I managed to find the equaliser late and we’re happy to get a point out off it today.”
The frequency with which possession changed hands during the opening couple of minutes gave the assembled crowd a good idea as to how long their afternoon was going to be. Unforced errors, passes that failed to find their target and an overall lack of inventiveness would be the constants that lasted throughout the contest. The first genuine shot at goal didn’t arrive until the 16th minute when Cory Hugo’s poor clearance put the ball with Marlon Ramirez whose delicate shot was heading for the top corner when the Swan custodian paddled it away. Gary Faria, in his first start of the new season, curled a free-kick from the edge of the box just over the crossbar as Armadale briefly flickered into life.
Swan fashioned a chance of their own on 25 minutes, Hugo’s booming clearance was flicked on by Scali for Brendan Knox whose first time shot flashed wide with goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock scrambling. Seven minutes later the hosts had the lead through Scali who sent Sharrock the wrong way from the spot after referee Troy Miller spotted Andy Bowyer’s push on Tom Shepheard when competing for a high ball. This gave Swan the lift they desperately needed and four minutes later Brendan Craig combined with Knox to find Scali whose low drive from distance was just past the post. As the half came to a close it was Armadale whose desire was the greater and if not for Craig’s timely tackle on Peter Taylor the teams would have been level at the break.
Brad Hassell’s half-time introduction of Shannon Dally had an immediate impact, the New Zealander sending in a deep cross from the right which Ando headed into his own net after 49 minutes. The tempo of the game was now finally lifting and in the 55th minute Aaron Cole’s free-kick struck the defensive wall and rebounded to Trent Wood but his first time shot was blocked by James Hesketh. A quick break by Ryan Pearson caught the home side napping as he put the ball with Bissett who fired narrowly past the post. A few minutes later Armadale really should have gone ahead after Gary Bunting’s far post cross picked out Bissett unmarked, but the striker headed disappointingly wide.
There was a fair degree of controversially when Swan retook the lead on 80 minutes as Hesketh received his second yellow card for a strong but legitimate tackle on Knox inside the area, and Scali made no mistake with the resulting spot kick. Although down to ten men, the visitors continued to press and in the 91st minute Ben Kelly’s long ball over the top allowed Bissett to fend off Cole and slide the ball past the oncoming ‘keeper, much to the delight of the travelling supporters. Liam Harvey’s superb block on Knox prevented the Swan midfielder from grabbing a late winner, while appeals for an Armadale penalty went unheeded after Bissett fell under a challenge from substitute Conor Mahady.
FORRESTFIELD STUN PHOENIX
Forrestfield United put some space between themselves and last place by upsetting South West Phoenix 2-0 at Hartfield Park. It took only a few minutes for the hosts to take control with flying wingers Andy Harold and Kynon Melling causing a multitude of problems for the Phoenix backline. The game was won and lost midway through the first period when Forrestfield struck a couple of rapidfire goals. The first arrived in the 29th minute when a scramble inside the 18-yard box hit Andy Cowley on the hand, the referee pointed straight at the spot from where Rydeen Botha fired low and hard into the net. Two minutes later Martin Barnes' direct pass down the centre found Jordan Hart who turned on to the ball and slotted past a badly exposed 'keeper.
Phoenix coach Mickie Cairns brought Rory Binnie off the bench for the second half in an attempt for his side to make more of a contest out of the game. However, cheap giveaways and poor delivery in the final third prevented Phoenix from carving out any meaningful chances against a well-drilled home defence. The stalemate continued until the 74th minute when Jason Feather received his second yellow card, leaving Forrestfield to see the game out with ten men. But Brad Eiffe was in no mood to give up his second clean sheet in three games and soon after pushed David Murphy's firmly struck shot away for a corner. In the end Forrestfield walked away deserved winners having limited their opponent to scant chances across the 90 minutes.
BAYSWATER CONTINUE TO CLIMB
Bayswater City moved up the First Division standings with a 4-1 drubbing of Rockingham City under lights at Lark Hill Sportsplex. Bayswater displayed the greater enterprise early on but it wasn't until Tommy Jones tested goalkeeper Craig Oleknik from long-range that the visitors sprang into life. They took a well deserved lead midway through the half courtesy of Ryan Jeans, who side-footed in after the 'keeper blocked his initial penalty with is legs. Five minutes later it was Damian Catalano who converted from the spot after Jeans' shot struck the arm of defender Richard Lacey.
Rockingham were gifted a great chance to reel in the deficit by an error in midfield by Bayswater, but Lacey sprayed the ball high and wide. That miss would be costly as an exquisite sequence of passes between Morgan Dendle, Stephen Worthy, Anthony Jones and Tommy Jones lead to an opening which Frank Madaferri drilled across the 'keeper and inside the far post. The half-time difference could have been greater had Jeans been able to keep his angled shot down at close-range.
Some tactical changes at the break had the desired effect on Rockingham who began the second period positively. Bobson Koroma was called into action for the first time, moving sharply to keep out Craig Howard's slow strike, while later on the 'keeper did well to block Luka Ivancic's close-range attempt. Their persistence paid off in the 78th minute when Lacey's cross was poorly dealt with and Matthew Leckenby struck hard and low shot into the net. However, four minutes later Madaferri latched onto Mark Donnelly's long ball which he touched around the 'keeper before tucking into an empty net.
DIANELLA WIN UPSETS THE ODDS
The surprise of round four came from Dianella Reserve where pre-match favourite Balcatta succumbed 2-1 to Dianella White Eagles. The only goal of a tight first half arrived after 17 minutes when Kris Spaseski’s superb pass in behind the defence was raced on to by Rodrigo Aguirre who shrugged off his man before lobbing advancing goalkeeper Kenny Ftynohiannis. Each team could have had a few on the board by the break had they been able to capitalise. Dragan Njegic twice went close for the hosts, firing just wide after 35 minutes and soon after was late pulling the trigger when played through with only the ‘keeper to beat. Balcatta should have been awarded a penalty after Ashley Rosendale's goal bound attempt was impeded by the arm of Pavle Kuvekalovic, and Jimmy Taneski slid his shot across the face of goal after luring Matt Battigelli off his line.
Ftynohiannis was in the action a couple of minutes after the turnaround, thwarting Njegic after the Dianella captain had got on the end of a Riste Stefoski pass. Balcatta weren't to be outdone and a mazy Corey Wiltshire run ended with Battigelli at full-stretch. The game was controversially decided on 68 minutes, Stefan Drca playing through to an offside Njegic, who raced clear to slot past Ftynohiannis. Rosendale squandered a golden opportunity at close-range after being set up by Bobby Klenkoski, whose penetrating run took him past a trio of opponents. Balcatta grabbed a late consolation through Rosendale’s free-kick which was headed into the net by a defender. The final drama was played out in stoppage time, Paul Dundo heading in at the back post only for referee Peter Chapman to rule the effort out for offside.
FULL POINTS TO GOSNELLS (courtesy Gosnells City)
Gosnells City turned in their strongest performance of the season so far to see off Fremantle Spirit 2-1 at Walter Padbury Reserve. The port side were thrown on the back from the outset, Gosnells piling on the pressure to win a succession of corners. Their reward came in the 10th minute when neat passing between Ian Maguire, Darren Francis and Andy McGettrick finished with the former side footing into the bottom corner. Stuart Aitken's fine through ball was collected by Francis whose shot on the turn from 18-metres crashed against the crossbar. Gosnells doubled their lead on the half hour, Ian Maguire delivering an inch perfect cross which Francis headed into the top corner.
The second half was a far more even affair with Ravi Kuppasamy and Nuno Loretto pushing Fremantle forward at every opportunity as they searched for a way back into the game. If not for the heroics of Dane McBride the game could have been well and truly over, the young Fremantle goalkeeper saving well to deny Ian Maguire and Alan Claxton in quick succession. Fremantle continue the chase and with four minutes remaining were rewarded, Loreto sending a corner to the edge of the 18-yard box where Alex Caniglia thundered into the bottom corner of Alan Dunlop's net. This set up a nervy final few minutes for Gosnells who held on to pick up three much needed points.
GLORY TO PURSUE RECOBA
David Mitchell has given Uruguayan superstar Alvaro Recoba the stamp of approval as the player to lead Perth Glory back to the summit of the domestic game. And the only news gets better for Glory supporters with coach Mitchell and owner Tony Sage agreeing to pursue the former Inter Milan midfielder as the club's marquee signing for season 2009/10. Recoba comes out of contract with Greek club Panionios at the end of June and Glory would need to fork out $1 million-plus to lure 33-year old to Perth. But it would be money well spent by the club who could expect to recoup a large part of their investment through a major spike in attendances.
Mitchell was oblivious to the Recoba connection until returning from a scouting trip to Europe three days ago. "We'd love to have him here," he said. "He's a striker who floats about, which is exactly what I'm looking for. We want a marquee player next season, and we've made no secret of that. But we don't want one just for the sake of it. It has to be someone who adds value to the club, adds value to the league, and hopefully is an exciting player who's going to score you goals. He fits the bill perfectly."
Glory face stiff competition from Greek clubs Panionios and PAOK Salonika for Recoba's signature. "Players of his quality aren't easy to find, but the good thing now is the A-League's being recognised more and more overseas, and there's a bit of a fantasy about coming to play in Australia," added Mitchell. "Hopefully, that will help us get the deal over the line. So far the club has expressed its interest, so now it's a matter of finding out what his demands are ... we're going to get back in touch with his management, and take it from there."
THE PREMIER LEAGUE IN PREVIEW
The fourth round of the Premier League season sparks into life tomorrow with the bottom of the table showdown between Swan United and Armadale (3.00pm) at the Swan Italian Club. The pair are still searching for their first wins of the season and it will be Armadale that head in the game with more confidence after a fighting 2-2 draw at Canning City last week. “It’s a big game for both clubs … it would be nice to get a win on the board and kick start our season,” said Reds coach Brad Hassell. The absence of Matt Bennion (overseas) and Mo Atak (suspended) opens the door for Peter Lord to come into the starting eleven.
Swan boss Paul Lincoln is hoping for a big improvement following a trio of losses, the most recent a 4-1 mauling from Perth SC. “That result in round three was a reflection of where we are at as a team - we played well in passages but fell away towards the end of the second half, again we created enough chances but never converted,” Lincoln commented. “I expect the players to respond to the hard work over the past two weeks … it’ll be a tough physical encounter and if we can capitalise on the opportunities we create I’m confident we can take all the three points.”
Stirling Lions make the trip north to take on ECU Joondalup (3.00pm), who are also looking for their first league victory. Youngster Mark Bentley will take his place between the posts in the absence of regular custodian Dino Pacella, who is suspended, as team captain Darko Ilomanoski and import Alan Muir push for a return to the starting line-up. Joondalup midfielder Steve Porter misses out on playing against his former club due to suspension but coach Syd Amphlett is hoping to have new English striker Jamie Watt cleared in time for the game as Garin Collins re-enters the fray.
Cockburn City are out to bounce back from heavy defeat when they travel to Percy Doyle Reserve to take on Sorrento (3.00pm). Steve Neville could be tempted to slot David McNally or new signing Paul Cunningham into the backline alongside Danny Cain and Michael Ord as the Gulls coach comes to grips with a lengthy list of absences. Dejan Aleksic has been in tip-top form for the Cockerels and coach Mirko Jelicic will no doubt be hoping for more of the same from this young ‘keeper as Aaron Dos Santos and Johnny Mirco attempt to unlock the Sorrento defence.
The Saturday fixtures conclude with an evening game at the Hyundai Stadium where Mandurah City welcomes Canning City (7.00pm). The home side will look to captain Andy Brown and import Stephen Payne to supply Phil O’Callaghan and Craig Young as they go seeking a first home win of the season. Canning are coming off back-to-back victories and head south in a buoyant mood. They welcome back to the line-up striker Daniel Trevisiol and hard-working defender Jon Mathers but, unfortunately, will miss the midfield drive of Paul Oliver, who remains sidelined with a broken collarbone.
The following afternoon at Dorrien Gardens it’s table topping Perth SC against Inglewood United (3.00pm). With Craig Simpson available again and midfielders Robbie Puca and Gary Greenhill putting their hands up for selection Perth boss Graham Normanton has a few hard decisions to make prior to kick-off. Lee Bamber’s decision to re-shuffle his deck paid dividends last time out with Inglewood earning their first win of the season courtesy of starring roles by Alex Cocking and Dannie Richman. The game will be broadcast live on Heritage 107.3FM from 2.30pm.
The final game of the round takes place at Nash Field where Western Knights taken on an unbeaten Floreat Athena (3.00pm). The Knights have been impressive this season with Okwy Diamondstar and Stuart Ferguson providing a solid defensive line as Anthony Campbell and Barry Devlin go the job at the opposite end. Jarred Smith has been in excellent form for Floreat whose coach, Michael Roki, has also been pleased with the contributions of newcomers James Sammut and Jason Barrera along with goal scoring midfielder Branimir Mikulic.
THE FIRST DIVISION IN PREVIEW
Balcatta will find their resources stretched to the limit for tomorrow’s local derby at Dianella White Eagles. “We’re without Andy O’Neill, Julian Piromalli, Igor Novakovic and Luke O’Neill who are all injured, Adrian Caloeiro is on holiday, Paul Huckett has returned to England on family business and Carlo Di Toro has been off with the flu,” said Salv Todaro, whose team are away for the third time in four games. “The players have been working hard at training and this is starting to show through during the games.”
Big things were expected of both Rockingham City and Bayswater City in pre-season but neither has so far looked anything like championship material. Striker John McCreery serves the second week of suspension and how Rockingham cope with his absence will go a long way to determining their fate on Saturday. Bayswater smashed in eight goals last time out, and with several players returning from injury coach Michael Di Fulvio faces some tough choices when selecting his first eleven.
Ashfield will attempt to upset the odds and end a three game losing streak when they host high flyers Morley Windmills. "Morley are a very good side, however, I believe that on the day we can mix it with any side in the league," said Ashfield coach John Castrilli. "I've been happy with our performances, we were extremely unlucky against Fremantle and Dianella and had six first team regulars missing against Rockingham. I'm confident that when our bad injury period is behind us and all our players are available that we will slowly become a force."
Forrestfield United have so far failed to live up to pre-season expectations and should provide little resistance for the visitors from South West Phoenix, who've netted eleven times in three games. It's going to be a very long afternoon for Queens Park when they welcome fourth-placed Wanneroo City to Coker Park. Veteran midfielder Scott Devine will be missing as Gosnells City attempt to end a two-game goalless streak by hosting Fremantle Spirit, who are determined to re-assert themselves following a heavy loss last time out.
SIVASSPOR FOCUSED ON HISTORIC TITLE WIN : PETKOVIC
Michael Petkovic is on the verge of making Turkish football history. Only five games separate Sivasspor from becoming the first club in a quarter of a century from outside Istanbul to be crowned Turkish league champions, a feat that would certainly boost the league’s status and delight the majority of the nation. “Most people in Turkey are going for us. Obviously we are not one of the big Istanbul teams ... and it would be great for the league if a team besides the big three won,” said the Sivasspor goalkeeper. “We are going into each game like it's our last. We are giving it all our best.”
Sivasspor beat third-placed Trabzonspor 3-0 on Saturday to remain a point ahead of Istanbul-based Besiktas. Their next four games are against mid-table or lower ranked opponents before visiting Istanbul on the final day of the season to take on titleholders Galatasaray, currently in fourth position. Sivasspor have led the league since late December and are determined to finish the job they started. “All the players are quite relaxed, we’re still enjoying training every day, enjoying going out and winning,” commented Fremantle-born Petkovic.
Petkovic attributes a big part of Sivasspor’s success this season to the influence of coach Bulent Uygun. “He was a very good player in his time, he is still a young coach and understands what footballers think and knows what to say. He doesn’t put too much pressure on us. He has drawn a strong group of players - we are not all superstars but we fight for each other,” said Petkovic, who has modest expectations should his team get to line up in the Champions League. “Just getting there would be a great achievement for us,” he said. “It doesn’t mean we have to win a game or win a point.”
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This page was last updated on the 23rd April, 2009