ONOFORO LEADS PERTH TO GRAND FINAL GLORY
Perth SC captain David Onoforo turned in a best on ground performance to guide his team to a 2-0 Grand Final victory - and the title of State Champions for 2009 - over Western Knights on a sunny afternoon at Clipsal Stadium. Ian McMurray put one Perth hand on the trophy when he opened the scoring early in the second half with Onoforo sealing the win after 72 minutes. “It was a great all-round team performance from us today,” said Onoforo, clearly delighted with his teams performance. “We spoke about it in the week, about being focused and every player, including the subs, contributed to a great victory for the club today.”
The bumper crowd of 1,720 had hardly time to settle into their seats when the Knights threatened for the first time through Anthony Campbell whose cross-shot from the right drifted wide of the post. Perth weren’t to be outdone and four minutes later a crisp first time shot by Matt Danskin brought a good low save out of Frazer Siddall. There was no let up in the tempo with the two teams trading attacks in search of an opening goal. On the quarter hour Andy Bourakis’ long-range attempt was held by the Knights custodian, the ball was quickly spirited to the opposite end where Campbell flashed a header wide from Barry Devlin’s cross.
Perth had the benefit of a swirling breeze for the first half and in the 30th minute Bourakis’ 25-metres free-kick was caught by the wind, forcing Siddall to back pedal and tip the ball on to the crossbar at the last moment. Five minutes later Siddall again came to his sides rescue, saving well from Danskin’s long-range shot. At the other end, Perth youngster Luke Martino had to be alert to punch clear a David Micevski in-swinging corner. But it was Perth who ended the half on top with another Bourakis’ free-kick tipped over by Siddall, then minutes later Danskin’s shot from the right whistled narrowly the wrong side of the upright.
The second half was given a crackerjack start with Dom De Felice crashing the ball into the base of the post with Siddall well beaten, and soon after Greg Sharland’s first time strike whizzed just wide. The Knights should have taken a 53rd minute lead through Devlin but after driving inside the 18-yard box the midfielder blazed high from 10-metres. It was a costly miss as, three minutes later, Bourakis’ superbly released Onoforo whose low centre from the by-line was rammed into the net at close-range by McMurray. Controversy reigned soon after when Stuart Ferguson’s header was prevented from entering the net by De Felice, despite Knights’ claims the Perth midfielder was over the line.
With the Knights committing players forward they were always running the risk of being caught out at the back. And that’s exactly what happened on 72 minutes when Sharland’s terrific diagonal long ball found Onoforo, who expertly skipped around Ivan Zuvela before angling his low shot beyond Siddall’s reach to double Perth’s lead. Campbell and Danskin were fortunate to remain on the park following a heated clash that sparked an ugly melee, however, referee Mathew Cheeseman was quick to defuse the situation. Craig Simpson had a header clear off the line by Zuvela as Perth attempted to add a third to their tally
The Knights weren’t ready to throw in the towel by any means and bombarded their opponents’ goal throughout the closing stages. Marco Warmt-Murray’s low shot was well saved by Martino, then David Annall should have done better that lift over the bar from 8-metres. 82 minutes were on the clock when Daniel Micevski teed up brother David but the midfielder blazed disappointingly high from the edge of the box. David Micevski almost made amends soon after with a cracking volley from 15-metres which cannoned back off the bar, before the final chance of the day saw Martino deny Daniel Trim.
With the final whistle came the beginning of a long night of celebrations for Perth, whose coach Graham Normanton was over the moon with his team’s performance. “We played really well today. We were primed for it and ready to go,” he said. “The conditions were difficult, the wind caused us problems. But we played some good football and the goals really speak for themselves, both were well set up and well finished. We could have scored a couple more but to win 2-0 in a final - I’m delighted!”
Knights coach Paul Price was disappointed to have fallen at the last hurdle. “Perth was the better side on the day, we had some chances but it wasn’t our day,” said Price, who rued the decision not to award a goal for Ferguson’s second half header. “The boys were convinced the ball was over the line which would have made it 1-1. Those things can change matches, but to be honest we had a few players that didn’t perform particularly well today, and Perth deserved their win.”
Perth SC: Luke Martino, Trent Kay, Michael Icanovski, Craig Simpson, Matt Danskin (Andres Oliveira 84), Greg Sharland, Gary Greenhill (Michael Black 75), Dom De Felice, Andrew Bourakis, David Onoforo, Ian McMurray
Western Knights: Frazer Siddall, Ivan Zuvela, Stuart Ferguson, David Annall, Cormac Dawson (Stanford Hepburn 70), Daniel Micevski, Barry Devlin, David Micevski, , Marco Warmt-Murray (Karl O’Reilly 87), Anthony Campbell, Daniel Trim
Bookings: Devlin (41), Campbell (75), Danskin (75)
Referee: Mathew Cheeseman
BRISBANE WOMEN THRASH GLORY
Defending champions Brisbane Roar have confirmed their status as W-League pacesetters with a clinical 6-0 thrashing of third-placed Perth Glory at Ballymore Stadium. The home team came out firing and had secured the three points on offer inside the quarter hour by slotting in three unanswered goals. Lana Harch started the rout in the 8th minute by going around Collette McCallum before unleashing a powerful strike that goalkeeper Emma Wirkus could do little about. The margin was doubled as Wirkus failed to take cleanly Kate McShea’s looping cross, which was sent into the net by Courtney Beutel. And another scrap inside the 18-yard box on 13 minutes ended with Ellen Beaumont firing sharply in the hosts third.
The second half started much like the first, Brisbane piling the pressure on their opponents. It was Harch who found the back of the net on 54 minutes by calmly sliding the ball under Wirkus after getting on the end of a cross. Casey Dumont was little more than a spectator for much of the afternoon but on 77 minutes was beaten by Alex Singer, who was denied a consolation by Pam Bignold’s clearance. Beaumont grabbed her second, beating several defenders before putting a sweet left-footed strike into the net ten minutes from the end. But Brisbane weren’t yet finish and in stoppage time substitute Sasha McDonnell rounded off the win with a spectacular shot from just inside the box to bringing the final margin to six goals, the biggest of this W-League season.
GLORY CROWDS UP!
The perception is A-League crowds are falling - but that is certainly not the case with Perth Glory. Western Australia’s national league representative has gone back in time to the National Soccer League days with the number of spectators attending home games this season well and truly up. Glory’s average for the first five games of the 2009/10 summer is 9,843 - a 24% increase over last season and the biggest of any A-League club. The climb was capped with a season-high 12,872 for the round nine outing with North Queensland Fury.
Owner Tony Sage said he was ecstatic with Glory’s attendances ahead of tomorrow’s game against second-placed Melbourne Victory at ME Bank Stadium. “The FFA is very happy with the off-field performances of Perth Glory in relation to is crowds, so that was a ringing endorsement since last year when they were hammering me every week to try and entice more crowds,” said Sage, who took the off-season gamble of bringing Jacob Burns, Mile Stejovski, Chris Coyne, Andy Todd and Branko Jelic to the club. “I think the fans out there realise now that Perth Glory is here to stay.”
A-League crowds are up for four of the clubs who were in the league last season, and down for the other four. Glory’s 24% rise is mirrored by New Zealand outfit Wellington Phoenix (13%). However, the news is not all rosy with Brisbane Roar shedding around 25% of their 2008/09 average attendance, while at Newcastle the drop off is a staggering 38%. Newcomers Gold Coast United have brought with them the competition’s smallest average crowd, as well as heavily criticised plans to cap their attendance at 5,000 to save money.
MRDJA FIGHTS FOR HIS FUTURE
Nik Mrdja accepts he is fighting for his A-League future as he battles to show Lawrie McKinna and other possible suitors that he is worth a fresh deal. Mrdja, 30, is out of contract at the end of the season and the injury-riddled striker needs some big performances to convince coach McKinna he is worth keeping for another year. His statistics this season do not make great reading - he still hasn't found the back of the net at first team level this campaign - but Mrdja is likely to be included in the Mariners squad for this evening's match with Adelaide United.
Mrdja received a much-needed confidence when he netted a hat-trick for in the National Youth League game against Newcastle United last week and he believes a goal in the A-League is not far away. "Eventually I'll come good," Mrdja said. "I'd like to keep playing in the A-League and I would like to stay on the coast. I haven't had a great record with injuries - that's what has stopped me. But I feel I've got on top of that now." McKinna has shown great faith in Mrdja while he has been out for long periods with injury and still believes he has the potential to be a consistent scorer at national league level.
GLORY YOUTH BEEF UP (courtesy Perth Glory)
Perth Glory Youth will be close to full strength for tomorrow’s home clash with Melbourne Victory as the club’s horror run of injuries finally looks to be behind them. The young West Australian’s have struggled to field a side this season and relied on replacement players for the most part, at one stage having eleven of sixteen contracted players unavailable. Despite those setbacks Glory Youth have shown plenty of character to be equal on points with third placed Adelaide United. Utility players Ryan Pearson and Adam Taggart return to the squad this week and follow five of their team mates who returned in a thrilling 4-3 win against the Australian Institute of Sport last weekend.
Defender Dean Evans, one of those to return to action last weekend, says it has been a big confidence boost to have the majority of the squad back up and running. “We’ve had a lot of injuries but we’re slowly getting everyone back in the side,” Evans said. “We had quite a few guys come back last week and they did really well and it just adds more strength to the side when the coach has a fit squad to pick from. That said, the boys that come in and covered did really well and stepped up to the plate when we needed to get the job done.”
Pegging back the AIS after falling behind on numerous occasions showed a resolve that will benefit the young Glory side for the remainder of the season according to Evans. “Coming back from two-nil down last week showed good character among the boys. We stuck to our tactics and never gave up. We just played our game and worked really hard to get back in there and got the result in the end which was great,” commented Evans, who concedes a home record of a win, a draw and a loss needs improvement. “We think we can win every game with the squad we’ve got. We’ve got to start making our home ground a fortress and make it tough for every team that comes over here.”
After making an impressive debut in the inaugural National Youth League season, Evans was looking forward to backing that up this season but has endured a frustrating injury battle and missed the opening six rounds with a knee complaint. He made an impressive comeback against the AIS and can’t wait to get back onto the pitch this weekend as he and the rest of the squad test themselves against a quality Melbourne side. “There are a well organised side and we know what they’re capable of from what they achieved last year. We’re definitely expecting a tough game but we’ll be ready for Melbourne,” he said. “It’s great to be back. I always like playing in front of our home crowd and I know the boys are pumped up to get another win on the board.”
FAMILIAR FOES GO ROUND ONE FINAL TIME
Perth SC v Western Knights (Referee: Mathew Cheeseman)
The 2009 season comes to a close tomorrow afternoon when Western Knights takes on long-time rival Perth SC in the Grand Final of the Flexible Signage Solutions at Clipsal Stadium (3.00pm). The Knights won through to the season finale with a hard fought 2-1 win over Floreat Athena last week and will be hoping to turn end a three-game losing streak to Perth. The teams met for the first time this year in late June when Perth ran out 3-1 winners at Nash Field courtesy of goals from Genaveo Human, David Onoforo and Phil Arnold, with Mario Marcinko on target for the hosts. Then on the final day of the regular season Onoforo scored both goals in the Blues 2-0 win at Dorrien Gardens.
The teams met again only a fortnight ago in the Major Semi-Final when Graham Normanton’s side came out on top 3-2. Perth started the year by winning the Night Series and their coach is hopeful of adding the Top Five series trophy to the cabinet at Dorrien Gardens. “We have beaten them three times this year but that all counts for nothing especially when it comes to a Grand Final,” commented Normanton. “We are confident that we can do well but we are not over-confident. We fully respect Western Knights and their achievements this year so there is no way we can go into this game over confident or complacent in anyway shape or form.”
Normanton expects Saturday’s game to be a true spectacle for the neutral observer. “There will be two distinctly different styles of football being played so it will be interesting to see which of us can impose ourselves over the other. Both sides are capable of scoring freely so I’m sure that it will be a very entertaining game with lots of chances,” he said. “The Knights have some very good players that we will have to take care of but we can’t concentrate on just those players as every player can hurt you if you don’t show them the respect that they deserve. David Micevski proved last week what ability he has to turn a game on his own …he is a player that we can’t allow to have a major influence on the game.”
Paul Price, coach of the Knights, was glad to get back in the winner’s circle last week after going three games without sampling victory. “It was nice to win a game after losing two and drawing one since we won the League in September, so we’re looking forward to the game on Saturday and go into it full of confidence,” said Price. “Perth has beaten us three times this season but that’s in the past. We hope Inglewood’s ground is in good condition and it will be a showpiece for West Australian football. You have to take your chances in all games you play, especially finals, or you are put under pressure. Fortunately we did that against Floreat (and) Saturday will be know different, the side that converts their chances will win.”
There may be a trophy riding on the outcome of Saturday’s game but as far as Price is concerned it’s just another game they want to win. “We’re treating the game like any other as a number of our players have set routines, especially Stuart Ferguson who has to be last out of the dressing room, so we will not change a thing for Saturday,” he the former Welsh international. “It’s a Cup Final so I shouldn’t have any problems getting the players ready for the game. We’ve worked on a few things this week in training, we conceded two goals from free-kicks against Perth in the Preliminary Final - one was an unstoppable shot but the other was just poor defending - so we have to watch that on Saturday.”
MICEVSKI AND SHARLAND HAVE THE FINAL WORD
Just how great an influence David Micevski and Greg Sharland can assert on tomorrow’s Top Five play-off final will go a long way to determining which clubs has their hands on the trophy at days’ end. The pair are no strangers to the pressures of football, Micevski having played professionally for Perth Glory and at youth international level with Australia whereas Sharland spent a season with English club Charlton Athletic either side of season-long stints with Wollongong Wolves and Glory.
Micevski was best on ground when the Knights downed Floreat Athena in last week’s Preliminary Final, scoring once and setting up the other for Anthony Campbell. “We have played Perth four times this season and only beaten them once - a 1-0 win in the opening round of the Night Series,” said the talented midfielder. “You could say Perth has had the wood on us but its finals football and the best team on the day will win. We finished the regular season on top for a reason and we’ll all be going into Saturday’s final full of confidence.”
Sharland, who has been outstanding this season, strongly believes the best two teams of 2009 are meeting in Saturday’s showcase. “It is a great way to end the season with the top two teams from the season fighting out for the major title,” he said. “One confidence booster I feel is the game being played on a pitch like Perth’s, we have been training all year on a large ground we will be able move the ball around how we like. The Knights have had an outstanding season at their ground, so I’m very happy it is away from Nash Field.”
There’s a rat deal of mutual respect between Micevski and Sharland, with both well aware of the other’s capacity for turning a game. “Dave has had a great year,” said Sharland. “I have only seen him three times this year, however, a lot of talk from the Knights has been about him … hopefully he can get another crack at the big leagues soon.” Those sentiments were echoed by Micevski, “Greg is a player you can’t give a lot of space to. His crossing and delivery from set pieces are dangerous, so we have to make sure we don’t give him much time on the ball.”
Perth’s hopes of lifting the final piece of silverware on offer this year received a blow with the suspension of Phil Arnold, however, Micevski says his former club have several players capable of causing problems. “Obviously Phil is a loss for Perth as he gives them that extra pace going forward. But they have other players who can step up and do a job,” he explained. “Both sides like to attack which will hopefully make it an exciting game for the supporters. Last time we met the majority of goals were scored from dead ball situations and again I feel this could be the difference between on the day.”
The Knights enter the game with pretty much a full compliment of players for coach Paul Price to select from. Sharland feels that, in all likelihood, the final game of 2009 will go down to the wire. “I agree with David, in a major Final there probably won’t be many chances. Whichever team can make the most of their chances will come out on top by the end, and I hope it’s us,” he said. The live and exclusive broadcast of the Flexible Signage Solutions Grand Final commences from 2.30pm on 107.3 Heritage FM, with match highlights available on footballwest.tv from Monday afternoon.
LEGENDS TO KICK OFF GRAND FINAL
A host of retired State League champions will don their boots in the curtain raiser to Saturday’s Top Five play-off Grand Final. The West Australian Ex-State and International Masters will take on a Football West Legends Select side prior to the season finale between Perth SC and Western Knights at Clipsal Stadium. The Masters team, joint winners of the Seniors World Cup in April, features one-time Perth Glory striker Bobby Despotovski, dual Gold Medallist Norrie Sutton and the versatility of Alan Pottier. Amongst the Legends number are inaugural Glory captain Gareth Naven, former Socceroos defender Robbie Dunn and goalkeeping extraordinaire Willie McNally. The West Australian Ex-State and International Masters go head-to-head with the Football West Legends Select side from 1.30pm.
KERR FAMILY SHINES AS CODE-BREAKERS (courtesy the 'West Australian')
Their respective football codes may be rivals, but siblings Sam and Daniel Kerr save their competitive instincts for the field. Sam, a member of Perth Glory Women, is proving her older brother and Eagles player is not the only talented athlete in the family. The teenager returned home from Myanmar last week fresh from scoring two goals in Australia's 8-0 victory over Thailand in the ASEAN Football Federation Under-16 women's championships final. The performance enhanced the 16-year old's growing reputation, with the youngest member of the Kerr household having made her international debut for the Matildas in February.
Sam, an attacking midfielder, showcased her credentials by starring in last weekend's 1-0 victory over Adelaide United, just days after returning from international duty. Despite the best on ground performance, she readily admits her game is not without faults. "I'm a lazy defender," she joked. "I like running with the ball, running at people. It's fun and I like scoring goals, but I hate defending." Sam left Perth on Wednesday to join Australia's squad for the Asian Football Confederation's under-16 titles in Thailand. The competition will double as the qualifiers for next year's Under-17 FIFA Women's World Cup.
Daniel, who returns to pre-season training with the Eagles next week, said he shared a love for the round-ball sport. "Probably if I had my time again, I wouldn't mind having a crack at it myself," he said. "It's probably a little bit easier on the body. It's a very interesting game to watch. I follow a lot of international soccer and the Glory men as well, so I love her playing soccer. It gives me more of an opportunity to watch the game." Daniel is happy to shelve any protective big brother instincts when it comes to watching Sam in action. "She's big enough and old enough to handle herself against other women now," he said.
UWA-NEDLANDS THE NEW FORCE IN FOOTBALL
There's a new football power emerging in the western suburbs with the formation of UWA-Nedlands. An amalgamation of amateur giants University of WA and the juniors of Nedlands, the new club will be one of the largest in Western Australia and is expected to become a major player on the local scene in the years ahead. "We're very excited by growing the club through this merger," said UWA-Nedlands president Guy Hattersley. "UWA were the most successful club in the Amateur competition this year and with this union we hope to build a very strong youth development program which will drive are progression into the top echelons of WA football."
The establishment of UWA-Nedlands is very much a win-win situation for both foundation clubs. "Nedlands were looking for a progression for their talented juniors and UWA needed a youth structure to progress to Saturday State League competition, so a merger was the natural response to meeting both clubs desires," commented Hattersley. "The club will provide a 'cradle to grave' opportunity for players of all levels of ability. Our long-term plans include developing a quality facility in the UWA sports complex as well as providing a variety of football levels within the club."
GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER? (by Ashley Morrison, Not the Footy Show)
The Football West Gold Medal dinner has quite rightly become the main event in the football calendar in Western Australia, and congratulations must go to Anthony Green and Jodie MacCullum for raising the bar during their time with the association. Also to Ben Fitzpatrick and Kiera Treloar for picking up the baton and continuing to maintain and improve the standard set. All we have to do now is make sure that the players respect the event and dress appropriately.
It is a measure of how big the event is now that decisions have had to be made as to how many people receive invitations to attend free of charge. During my brief time at Football West that number was reduced from close to 200 free tickets to under 100 as we tried to claw back a $35k loss on the night from the previous year. This year it appears that the administration is trying to do the same, as again they are limiting the number of free tickets issued - or are they?
We have been advised that the board have taken a decision to invite only “the mainstream media,” at the expense of some of the local outlets who have supported the game. By mainstream media it is supposed that this will mean the West Australian and the Sunday Times. The latter has, to be fair, given the league coverage - the West has not but will be the best way of giving major sponsor McInerney Ford exposure as they are bound to give the winner exposure in the Saturday edition. And, ultimately, that is good for the game.
We hear that Heritage FM, who covered the league on the radio all season, have not been given free tickets, which if true is downright embarrassing. The same applies to the team at footballwa.net - these guys gave the only internet coverage to the State League for many years and are still the first point of call to many followers of the game so to shun them now is rude and downright foolish. What we do hope we will not see on the night are the board members attending with their partners and having claimed two tickets free of charge.
It is also hoped that we do not see commercial television and radio stations who refuse to acknowledge the existence of the State League being given tickets ahead of people dedicated to the game, who work week in week out trying to promote it on community radio. These people have kept the game alive and it is wrong to ignore that fact. If the commercial media are invited and there is no extra coverage gained next season we as stakeholders in the game need to look at why they were invited, and if was it for football’s gain or for their own or the board member’s business’ gain?
As annoying and unjust as this whole ticket issue appears to some, the stakeholders need to start looking inward. The stakeholders appoint the standing committees who in turn appoint the board. Are the right people on the standing committees? Are the standing committees doing what the Crawford Report gave them power to do? This has to be brought into question as two of the standing committees at the last board election, had no representation - and one still does not to this day. Should one person be allowed to be a representative on two standing committees? Does a standing committee of two people represent the views of the whole state, and if their views differ how do they vote? These are all questions that the stakeholders need to address.
The whole idea of the Crawford Report was to give the power to the stakeholders, however, it appears that the stakeholders in a lot of cases show little regard in the processes, and then are very quick to moan when their voices are not heard. The stakeholders appoint the board and trust them to oversee the running of the game by those employed by Football West. Too often the board interferes with the day to day running of the game, and that is why I believe the structure needs to be reviewed, but if we are sticking with the same structure a strong CEO appointed. The latter is unlikely as the board are not going to what a strong CEO who stands up to them.
One question that still has not been answered is ‘Why, when the last CEO left in June of 2009, are we waiting for a new CEO to be appointed after the end of the season?’ Luke Martin appears to be trying very hard to run Football West but it is not right for the game to be run by a board member. Mr Martin inherited an organisation short on finances and is looking to minimise the losses on the Gold Medal night, a commendable and understandable. However, it is a tightrope that is being walked in regards to looking after those who have genuinely assisted with the promotion of the league in 2009 and who honestly merits a free ticket to our gala night.
STERJOVSKI “90% CHANCE OF PLAYING” AGAINST MELBOURNE
Socceroo Mile Sterjovski is almost certain to take part in Perth Glory’s vital home game against Melbourne Victory this weekend. Sterjovski missed Glory’s past two games due to an ankle problem but has made steady progress in his recovery and trained solidly with the team today. “It’s definitely better than it was last week,” Sterjovski said. “I thought I was going to be fine for the game against North Queensland (last Saturday) but after the final training session I pulled up a bit sore. We didn’t want to risk it and cause any further damage so that’s why I’ve rested it until now. The way I’m feeling I’d say I’m about a 90% chance of playing, I’ve got about four or five days to give it a good test so we’ll see how it goes. I’m pretty confident that it’s going to be okay.”
Getting back to full fitness has taken on added importance for Sterjovski, who revealed he missed the chance to join the Socceroos recent camp in Melbourne due to the injury. “Pim (Verbeek) asked me to come into the camp on the Sunday, but unfortunately I was injured after the Adelaide game on the Friday night and couldn’t make it,” he explained. “That was the most disappointing thing for me because it might have given me a chance to play but the World Cup is still a long time away and I’ve got plenty of time to make it into the squad. The same thing happened to me last time (2006 World Cup) and I ended up making the team in the final selection so I’m not too worried at the moment. The most important thing is to keep playing regularly, play well and to win games.”
AMPHLETT IS JOONDALUP’S TOP PLAYER
Livewire attacker Tommy Amphlett could not have been happier with the outcome of ECU Joondalup’s annual presentation evening. Amphlett picked up his club’s highest individual honour, the Players’ Player of the Year, along with the trophy as Top Goal Scorer. Dale McCulloch picked up the Coaches Award with versatile teenager Jake Benson-Cooper was voted the Young Player of Year. Former State Schoolboys representative Damien Houston was voted the Players’ Player of the Year at Reserve team level where the other awards went home with Craig Cheeseman (Coaches Player of the Year) and Joseph Lado (Top Goal Scorer). Australian Under-17 international Alex Grant was installed as Youth team Players’ Player of the Year, Brandon O’Neill collected the Coaches Player of the Year with the Top Goal Scorer shared by Jonathan Stynes, Josh Brook and Robert Rixer.
MATILDA DE VANNA SUSPENDED
Star striker Lisa De Vanna has been slapped with a two-match suspension after being found guilty of offensive behaviour and intimidation of a match official during Perth Glory's W-League win over Adelaide on Saturday. De Vanna was angry when Glory coach John Gibson decided to substitute her in the 31st minute, prompting her to swear at the coaching staff and a fourth official as she made her way off the pitch. She then raised her middle finger towards a few members of the crowd as she went down the tunnel to the change room.
Football Federation Australia found De Vanna guilty of bringing the game into disrepute on two fronts. FFA deemed she displayed "offensive behaviour, including offensive, obscene, provocative or insulting gestures or language" as well as "intimidation of match officials, including derogatory or abusive words toward a match official". One match of De Vanna's two-game ban will be suspended for a period of six months, meaning she will only miss this weekend's away match with Brisbane Roar unless she re-offends before 24 April.
STRACHAN WILL HELP BORO: WILLIAMS
Rhys Williams has revealed that the arrival of a new manager has brought a spring to the step of the entire Middlesbrough squad. This week’s appointment of former Scotland international Gordon Strachan, who took over at the Riverside from Gareth Southgate this week, has had an immediate effect on the clubs’ players. “Nobody is guaranteed a place. We know that every spot is up for grabs. We have to work hard if we want to be in the team,” commented Williams, who spend the past few days training under Strachan and his assistant Garry Pendrey. “The new gaffer and Garry are putting their stamp on things and I think it can only benefit the team. Training has been good - it’s disciplined and at a higher tempo.”
Williams revealed that Strachan’s playing pattern, which he wants the Boro players to adopt, was already beginning to emerge. “The gaffer likes us to play. He wants everyone to have the ball. You can tell that he is a good coach. We are a young set of lads and you can see that he believes he can help us,” added Williams, who is looking forward to improving his game under the new coaching team. “I want to be more comfortable on the ball, and effecting the game more, and hopefully he will help me with that. So everybody is working hard. If I work hard then hopefully I will be given my chance.”
Boro, currently fourth in the English Championship, entertain second-from-bottom Plymouth Argyle this weekend. Victory on Saturday in combination with other results go in Boro’s favour could propel them to the top of the table. “We could be better placed, but top spot is not too far off and that’s what we have to aim for,” said Williams. “If you go on a good run of games without losing then you will end up at the top. Burnley lost just two out of 17 when I was there last season and that was the secret of their success. The league is just as tight as it was last season. That’s why a run of games will make all the difference.”
INJURY GETS THE BETTER OF SIKORA
Perth Glory’s injury woes have continued with striker Victor Sikora to miss the club’s next two matches with a hamstring tear. The 31-year old Dutch international injured his right hamstring during Saturday’s 2-1 loss to North Queensland Fury soon after netting midway through the first half. Sikora, who has scored twice in three games, was replaced just before the interval after feeling tightness in his leg. “I thought it was feeling tight only but the scans showed there were two tears, it really was a nasty surprise,” Sikora said. “I have felt more tightness in games before and nothing has happened, but unfortunately this time something was there.” He is expected to return for the 22 November game with A-League leaders Sydney FC at ME Bank Stadium.
PETKOVIC CONSIDERS AUSTRALIAN RETURN
Socceroos goalkeeper Michael Petkovic could be tempted to don the gloves of A-League newcomers Melbourne Heart in their inaugural campaign. Petkovic, currently with Turkish Super League outfit Sivasspor, has voiced a desire to return home and play in the A-League, possibly following next year's World Cup. "It's something that I've always wanted to do," said 33-year old Petkovic, who comes off contract at Sivasspor after this European season. "I started my career in Australia in the national league back then, so with the new league that's been formed there, I'd like to go back and play as long as I can before I finish my career. We'll see, we've still got time, we'll see what happens after this season."
Ideally, Petkovic would prefer to return home to Perth and follow in the footsteps of older brother Jason, who played 177 times for Perth Glory between 1999 and 2008. "I would like to go home and actually play in my hometown where I grew up," said Petkovic, who would need to unsettle youngsters Tando Velaphi and Aleks Vrteski in order to occupy the role between the posts. "I played most of my career in Melbourne and overseas so going home and playing in Perth would be something nice and something that I would love to do. But, there's only ten teams there so I don't think you can pick and choose where you want to go."
Petkovic would also fancy a return to Melbourne, where from the 2010/11 season there will be twice as many A-League goalkeeping spots up for grabs. "I had some great success in Melbourne and have a lot of friends and family there as well," added Petkovic, whose career blossomed at South Melbourne where he was a key contributor to the club's back-to-back National Soccer League titles of 1998 and 1999. "I want to play in the A-League and wherever it is, I'd love to take the opportunity. To play and with a Melbourne team, it'd be a great opportunity." Newly-appointed Heart coach John vant Schip has yet to sign any players to his foundation roster since his appointment on 12 October.
GLORY OUT FOR VICTORY (courtesy Perth Glory)
Jacob Burns says his team will be looking to extend their unbeaten home run and continue an excellent record against Melbourne Victory in Sunday’s all-important clash at ME Bank Stadium. Perth Glory has taken maximum points from Victory’s last four trips to the west, however, Burns says they won’t be banking on past results to get them over the line this weekend. “Everyone keeps saying that we’re good against Melbourne and in the past we’ve done this and we’ve done that but this is a crucial clash and we can’t take anything for granted,” Burns said. “We’ll take a positive attitude into the game and are looking forward to taking on Melbourne however past results means little, they’re a great side and we need to be on our toes.”
Glory are coming off back-to-back losses away at Brisbane Roar and North Queensland Fury, results which were not a true reflection of their performances. The side remains in fourth place, only five points away from top spot, after several weekend results fell their way. Burns says it’s time Glory takes their destiny into their own hands and start reaping the rewards that recent on-field efforts deserve. “We’ve been very fortunate with some of the results that have gone our way so it’s kept us there, but we can’t keep slipping up and relying on other results. We need to look at our own game, tighten up the areas that we need to and really put on a good performance to keep us up there,” commented Burns.
CANNING SALUTE CAPTAIN VAN DONGEN
Paul Van Dongen has been rewarded for a superb season in the middle of the park for Canning City by winning the club's two highest awards - the Players' Player of the Year and Coaches Player of the Year. "Paul had probably his best ever season and thrived in the attacking central midfield role that he prefers," said club president Malcolm Watson. "His work rate and distribution have always been top notch but this year his runs from midfield really showed what an intelligent player he is. Paul has the potential to do even more and is already rated in top five midfielders in the state."
Star in the making Nathan Hubbard was awarded the Mitchell Allomes Memorial Trophy. "Nathan's progress from our Under-16s to making his first team debut in the space of a season reflects his great attitude and commitment to go with his natural talent," commented Watson. Midfielder Emlyn Whetnall went home with his second successive Players' Player of the Year for the Reserves, where the Coaches Player of the Year was presented to Dave Evans. Michael Everett's efforts were recognised with the Youth team Players' Player of the Year, while Simon Correia was named Coaches Player of the Year.
YOUNG SOCCEROOS CALL-UP FOR WA TRIO
Three of Western Australia's brightest young talents will wear the green and gold for next month when the Young Socceroos line-up in the AFC Under-19 Championship qualifiers in Indonesia. Adelaide United's Mark Birighitti is one of two goalkeepers in the 23-player squad where he's joined by striker Eli Babalj and defender Trent Sainsbury, both currently at the Australian Institute of Sport and part of the Next Young Socceroos squad that finished as runners-up at the recent AFF Under-19 Youth Championship.
Birighitti is looking forward to the chance of once again representing his country after putting behind him the disappointment of narrowly missing out on a place in the Australian for the recent Under-20 World Cup. “Missing out on the Under-20 World Cup was obviously disappointing but I’m thrilled to get another chance to represent my country and I look forward to helping the team do well,” Birighitti said, who was an integral part of the Next Young Socceroos squad that finished runners-up at the ASEAN Football Federation Under-19 Championship in August.
The Young Socceroos will assemble for a short training camp in Sydney prior to departure for Indonesia. Their opening game is against Hong Kong on 7 November, and over the course of the following week and a half Australia plays Chinese Taipei, Singapore, Indonesia and Japan at the Si Jalak Harupat Stadium in Bandung, Indonesia. The top two ranked teams will progress to the 2010 AFC Under-19 Championship next November. The host nation for the tournament will be determined next month with the Competitions Committee considering bids from China, Thailand and Indonesia.
The Australia squad for the AFC Under-19 Championship 2010 qualifiers is Mark Birighitti, Matthew Leckie (Adelaide United), Eli Babalj, Chris Bush, Jared Lum, Trent Sainsbury, Nikola Stanojevic, Lawrence Thomas (Australian Institute of Sport), Daniel Bowles, Thomas Oar (Brisbane Roar), Steven Lustica (Gold Coast United), Dylan McGowan (Hearts), Petar Franjic, Kliment Taseski (Melbourne Victory), Benjamin Kantarovski, Robbie Kolak, James Virgili (Newcastle Jets), Jason Davidson (Pacos de Ferreira), Karem Bulut, Kofi Danning, Sam Gallagher, Rhyan Grant and Dimitrios Petratos (Sydney FC).
FAIREST AND BEST AWARD HAS BOWYER STUMPED
Armadale captain Andy Bowyer is still coming to terms with being named his club's Fairest and Best player of 2009. "To be honest I'm shocked at receiving the 'Fairest and Best' because the name itself does not represent the player that I am," he commented. "I struggled to come to terms with the new FIFA ruling of no swearing on the pitch. I was penalised for it early on in the season and from there it escalated and before you know it I had three red cards and spent seven games on the sidelines, hence why I should not have won the Fairest and Best award. If the award was renamed the "Go out there, wrap your sleeves up and put your body on the line for Armadale" award then I wouldn't have been so surprised."
Even so, Bowyer says he'll cherish his first Fairest and Best win. "I am honoured as it is the fans and committee members who pick the award so they obviously believe in me as much as I believe in the club ... and for that reason alone I feel that I have to play on next year," said 34-year old Bowyer. "Armadale is too good a club to be fighting relegation and the quality of 'the boozer' (Brad Hassell) as coach is recognised by all. We just need a few more players who are going to put their hands up to win the "Go out there, wrap your sleeves up and put your body on the line for Armadale" award. And I owe the club a season of discipline and if that can be accompanied with a team of fighters, then look out league - Armadale are on the move!"
SAMMUT SIGNS WITH SWAN
Paul Lincoln has strengthened his squad for 2010 with the recruitment of former Perth Glory Youth player James Sammut. The talented midfielder, who has played locally with Inglewood United, Floreat Athena and ECU Joondalup, has agreed terms on a two-year deal having been top of Lincoln’s wanted list. “James is a player I’ve been trying to sign for a while,” explained the Swan United coach. “He has a great engine and has a great football brain. We’re delighted he chose to come to Francis Street and he is the first of a number of new faces we are hoping to get to the club for next season.”
Establishing himself in a new home is a challenge Sammut is looking forward to. “I’ve spoken to Linc’s on a few occasions and he showed a great deal of interest on getting me down at the club,” said the youngster. “I’ve heard a lot of good things about the club and know a few of the lads that are playing there. The club has a good future ahead of them and hopefully I can bring something to the team. Paul has spoken to me about the way he wants his side to play football and they are very similar to the style of game I like to play.”
Swan surprised many last season and Sammut is keen to take the successes of 2009 and build on them. “Swan played some good football … the style of football Linc’s wants his team to play is how I enjoy playing so hopefully my attacking game will fit in well,” he said. “Just talking to Linc’s you can tell he has a good understanding of the game. I’m a player who likes to get on the ball and play football which Linc’s wants his team to do so I think I will fit right in. Hopefully next season I can get back to scoring goals and make 2010 the best season I have had.”
Last season was one of frustration for Sammut who failed to make an impact at Floreat before a mid-season move to Joondalup. “Obviously last year was very disappointing for me. At Floreat it was difficult not getting a lot of game time with not doing any of the pre-season because of Glory commitments and then making the move to ECU,” he said. “That move was one that I needed to make because I needed to be getting game time … I just wanted to enjoy the second half of the season with ECU and starting getting back to playing the good football I know I can.”
MICEVSKI PUTS KNIGHTS INTO GRAND FINAL
Western Knights captain David Micevski turned in a best on ground display to lead his team to a 2-1 victory over Floreat Athena on a windy afternoon at Nash Field. Micevski scored one goal and laid on the other for Anthony Campbell as the Knights set up a date with Perth SC in next weekend’s Flexible Signage Solutions Grand Final. Coach Paul Price had nothing but praise for this his team’s performance after the game, but hailed the performance of his captain in particular. “David Micevski played his best game of the season today,” he said. “But I don’t want to single anybody out because the whole team played well.”
The opening exchanges produced little in terms of chances on goal as the teams sounded each other out on a poor quality surface. Floreat created the first opening after 13 minutes when John Migas’ deflected drive forced Frazer Siddall into saving well down low. It took only a minute for the hosts to reply via a David Micevski free-kick that curled just beyond the far post. Migas should have put his side ahead when he charged through on the quarter hour but the midfielder’s lob was weak and far too close to the goalkeeper. The action soon switched to the opposite end where Daniel Trim’s firm header flashed wide from Daniel Micevski’s cross.
Adam Bachiller’s under hit back pass let in Anthony Campbell but thankfully Alex Dun was alert, however, the ‘keeper’s clearance was straight to David Micevski who was denied a shot on goal but the Floreat defence. Jason Barrera slammed a half-volley over the crossbar on 34 minutes and shortly after Migas’ driving run was illegally halted by David Micevski, who became the first player in the referee’s book. The Knights should have taken the lead five minutes out from half-time when Campbell shook off his marker and squared to Daniel Trim, who in turn laid the ball into the path of David Micevski but his effort was deflected wide.
The tempo was taken up a notch for the second half as Barry Devlin’s free-kick from distance rattled the Floreat bar. Daniel Neiderberger then played in for Branimir Mikulic but after rounding Siddall the attacker was pulled up for offside. The Knights hit the front on 53 minutes, David Micevski beating two opponents in making his way down the right from where he delivered a fine low cross which Campbell turned into the net at the front post. This triggered a lengthy period of pressure from Floreat, however, the visitors failed to create many clear-cut chances. Barrera fired over after a strong run by Mikulic, who not long after had a cross plucked off his head by Siddall.
There was not such wastage from David Micevski who, on 76 minutes, Micevski fired the ball wide of Dunn from the edge of the area after Floreat failed to sufficiently deal with a Daniel Micevski cross in from the right. Floreat weren’t about to let their season end without a fight and five minutes later Neiderberger’s shot was parried by Siddall with Mikulic reacting quickest to head in from close-range. This set up a tense final ten minutes but the closest Floreat would come to adding a second was a weak Mirco shot that was gratefully scooped up by Siddall. Despite some red-hot pressure, the Knights’ defence held firm until David Costello’s final whistle signalled the start of celebrations.
ANOTHER PAINFUL AWAY LOSS FOR GLORY
North Queensland Fury have put their goal scoring problems behind them and secured a first home A-League win by defeating Perth Glory 2-1 at Dairy Farmers Stadium. The early signs were positive for Glory with Victor Sikora slotting in midway through the first half. However, Robbie Fowler’s quickly taken 65th minute free-kick brought the sides level with a stunning effort six minutes later from Dyron Daal securing the home team victory. “I think it has been building (the win), I said before that North Queensland have be looking very good at home and tonight they played very well and deserved to win,” said Glory boss David Mitchell. “It was disappointing to have a one-nil lead and then conceded a goal off a free-kick. They deserved to win, they fought well and had a quite a few players missing from their team and they came at us and caused all sorts of problems.”
Glory sounded their intentions in the 4th minute when Branko Jelic’s diving header smacked into the crossbar on the end of a flowing move that featured Victor Sikora, Adriano Pellegrino and Todd Howarth. With that lucky escape behind them, Fury lifted the tempo and on the quarter hour James Robinson found Fowler but his powerful long-range attempt was high. Against the run of play Glory took the lead on 24 minutes, Howarth’s long ball down the left appeared to have gone out of play when Jelic exploded past John Tambouras to whip in a cross which Sikora stroked into the net at close-range. The home side almost drew level on 33 minutes with Jason Spagnuolo sending in a cross to James Robinson, whose desperate shot bounced over the bar. And shortly after Chris Tadrosse delivered the ball to an unmarked David Williams but the youngster headed wide when well placed.
The home side were out quickly for the second half, Ufak Talay sending a free-kick straight at Tando Velapi and minutes later Robinson flashed wide from distance. Glory went close on the hour, Jelic cutting in from the right but shooting wide, and a few minutes later the Serbian’s volley from 5-metres was narrowly over the bar. Chris Coyne’s foul on Robinson presented Fury with a free-kick on top of the 18-yard box, and with Glory lining up their wall Fowler drilled in the equaliser. Fury then took the lead via Daal who, after being found by Fowler, twisted and turned away from two defenders before unleashing a powerful drive into the top corner. The final margin could have been greater but Jeremy Brockie curled past the post.
VITTIGLIA BRILLIANCE SECURES GLORY
A stoppage time strike by returning midfielder Reece Vittiglia earned Perth Glory Youth a nail-biting 4-3 win against the Australian Institute of Sport at McKellar Park in Canberra. The three points gained moves Glory into fourth on a congested Youth League table, much to the delight of captain Steve Hesketh. “It was good performance from the side today and to come back from two-nil down to win showed the side has great character,” said Hesketh. “It was a case of deja vu as we did the same against the AIS earlier in the season. It’s great to get Reece Vittiglia back today from injury and he popped up late with the winner so it made the flight home a little more enjoyable.”
The AIS and Glory both pressed early on but found the opposing defensive lines held the upper hand. The hosts got the breakthrough in the 16th minute when Eli Babalj fired into the net from a tight angle after goalkeeper Alex Pearson had blocked his initial effort. The former Stirling Lions striker added his and the teams second just two minutes later by heading in a well-flighted John Martinoski cross. Play was pretty much one-way with the AIS, looking for their first victory of the season, pilling on the pressure and if not for Pearson they would have had a third goal in the 26th minute. Glory came back into the contest late in the half, however, they were unable to find the back of the net before the half-time whistle blew.
Glory opened the second period determined to reel in the deficit, and after a prolonged period in control that’s exactly what they did. Cameron Edwards brought the difference back to a single goal by converting at a 66th minute corner, and a couple of minutes later set-up the equaliser struck by Josh Risdon. The home side hit back with John Matrinovski curling in a free-kick from the edge of the 18-yard box after 75 minutes. With eleven minutes to play Ludovic Boi intercepted a poor back pass by Nikola Stanojevic before applying a clinical finish to restore parity. The decider arrived three minutes into stoppage time when Glen Trifiro’s pass sent clear Vittiglia, who manoeuvred his way through traffic and struck a final blow into the heart of the AIS.
GLORY WOMEN JUMP TO THIRD
Sam Kerr came off the bench to inspired Perth Glory Women into joint third on the W-League table courtesy of a tight 1-0 victory over Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium. The visitors were indebted to goalkeeper Emma Wirkus and some terrific defending by Dani Calautti and Sadie Lawrence as the home team dominated the opening passages. Kerr made her entry as a 31st minute replacement for Lisa De Vanna and was immediately in the thick of the action, dancing past Ebony Weidenbach to go one-on-one with goalkeeper Sian McLaren who made the save.
The second half was only three minutes old when Kerr’s bouncing cross was sent into the roof of the net by American import Alex Singer from 7-metres. Elisa D’Ovidio almost doubled Glory’s lead minutes later but her effort from the top of the 18-yard box crashed off the crossbar. Rachael Quigley was lively up front for the home side and in the 58th minute sent the ball goalward only to have Calautti clear off the line. Kerr was at the heart of Glory’s better attacking moves but three times was prevented from adding her name to the scoresheet in one-on-one situations with McLaren. D’Ovidio also went close on a handful of occasions as Glory sought to finish the day with a few more goals to their credit.
GARCIA PATIENT OVER PREMIER RETURN
Hull City midfielder Richard Garcia is hoping to force his way back into first team contention after a successful return in the reserves. But the 28-year old Socceroo accepts he still has some way to go and says he would be happy to secure a Premier League recall within the month. Garcia's versatility ensured he played a key role in the Tigers' first top flight season, making 23 appearances in total, but hasn't featured at all this term after rupturing knee ligaments weeks out from the start of the new campaign. He took the first steps on the road to recovery with a 60 minute run out for Hull's second string in the 2-1 defeat at Wigan Athletic last week.
With World Cup selection to play for, Garcia is reluctant to rush back into the first team until he knows his knee is 100%. "Hopefully I'm not too far off and I'd say within the next month," he told sporthull.co.uk. "I'm saying a month as although I feel I can play now, it's one of those thing that you have to be a bit careful with. I have to make sure I'm fully fit and don't pull a hamstring or anything that will put me out for longer. It's good to get some playing time under my belt. Hopefully I'll be available for selection sooner rather than later. If I'm called upon, I'm more than happy to give whatever I've got but I'm still trying to work my way back into it and slowly build up to 90 minutes."
WILLIAMS EYES VICTORY
Matilda’s goalkeeper Lydia Williams and Melissa Barbieri will be at opposite ends of the park this afternoon when Canberra United hosts Melbourne Victory. The pair will battle for superiority as both look to be Australia’s first choice with a number of important international fixtures on the horizon. “Every game we go up against each other there’s a point to prove and a little bit more individual competition rather than a team competition so I’m really excited to play against her,” Williams told Chris Gottaas of canberraunited.com.au
Last season it was Williams who claimed the honours in both encounters with Canberra defeating Melbourne 1-0 away followed by a thrilling 4-3 home win. But previous encounters will mean little though as Melbourne go into the match in good form whereas Canberra are still looking for their first win of the campaign. “I think we’re pretty desperate for a win this weekend,” Williams said. “Melbourne is going to be a really tough game so to get a win against them will really boost our confidence for the rest of the season.”
FLOREAT OUT TO END THE KNIGHTS CHARGE
Western Knights v Floreat Athena (Referee: David Costello)
The season goes on the line for Western Knights and Floreat Athena when they meet in Saturday's Flexible Signage Solutions Preliminary Final at Nash Field (3.00pm). To the victors will go a Grand Final showdown with Perth SC next weekend, however, for the vanquished it'll be mothballs and time to start planning in earnest for 2010. The two sides have met on three previous occasions this year with the Knights holding the balance of power two-one. Floreat snatched a 2-1 semi-final Night Series win, however, both regular season fixtures ended in the Knights favour, 3-1 at Nash Field in Round Four with August's return match being 3-1.
While midfield maestro David Micevski has been the standout performer this season, Paul Price's team have major strengths all over the park. David Annall and summer recruit Frazer Siddall are at the heart of the State League's tightest defensive unit, Daniel Micevski and Cormac Dawson are constant threats out wide in providing an endless supply of ammunition for import striker Anthony Campbell. The Knights are as near to full strength as possible with David Price and Mario Marcinko, whose contributions were vital to their regular season success, the only absences due to Perth Glory Youth commitments.
The Knights went down at home to Perth SC last week with goalkeeper Siddall contributing his teams rusty performance to a lengthy lay-off. "Not playing as a squad for three weeks, and as a full team for five weeks turned out to be a disadvantage for us," he said. "The break caused us to lose the match sharpness we've had all season - you can't keep match sharp only by training, you need to be playing at a high level each week. The lads have come to training this week with the bad taste of defeat in our mouths, we all hate losing with a passion and that makes us want all the more to win on Saturday."
Siddall says his team's strong record against Floreat this year means very little in the context of finals football. "It's true we have a good record against Floreat this season but on Saturday past results count for nothing. Both teams are very even and the games between the two clubs this year could have gone either way," said Siddall, who is already plotting the downfall of Perth in the season finale. "It's going to be a very entertaining game on Saturday and, hopefully, we'll come out on top and get the opportunity for revenge on Perth in the Grand Final."
Floreat boast one of the strongest squads on the local stage. Branimir Mikulic, Daniel Neiderberger and Johnny Mirco have shown themselves capable of winning games off their own boot with great support from Jason Barrera, John Migas and Dean Apelgren. While Miki Vujacic and Jovo Pavlovic come back into the squad, coach Michael Roki is without the services of Josip Madgic (foot), Callum Roberts (shoulder) and Miro Akeksic (returned to Serbia) while former New Zealand international Brad Scott remains doubtful with an ankle injury.
It's been an intense week of rehab at Floreat after enduring 120 minutes played in stifling 37-degree temperatures before seeing off Mandurah City. "It was pretty heartbreaking when we lost to Perth in extra-time (a fortnight ago) and when it went to extra-time against Mandurah we knew we had that little bit more in the tank," said Alex Dunn. "We had a thin squad that day due to some of the boys having other commitments and we didn't falter even through Mandurah pushed us for 120 minutes. And it was great to see David Foster get the winner because it shows the sort of quality we have coming off the bench."
Dunn readily acknowledges the psychological advantage the Knights hold going into Saturday's game but feels the time is right for Floreat to turn the tables. "The Knights have had a great season - they're solid defensively and scoring at will with David Micevski pulling the strings in midfield," commented the Floreat 'keeper. "They definitely have the wood over us this year but we're confident and playing some really good football at the moment. We know we can play 120 minutes in really hard conditions if needed, and we are read for nothing less than a real battle."
SELECTION DILEMMAS FOR MITCHELL (courtesy Perth Glory)
You won’t hear too many complaints from David Mitchell over current dilemma. The Perth Glory coach has been wrestling with a variety of combinations available to him plus the expected addition of striker Mile Sterjovski leading into Saturday’s A-League showdown with North Queensland Fury. “There are options for this game and we’re looking at a few scenarios which we think can turn the outcome in our favour, that’s what selection time is all about,” said Mitchell, who was pleased with his teams second half against Gold Coast United last weekend. “The boys that came in last week have done well and we have good players who are vying for a spot, there is a bit of selection headache but that is a good thing and it is healthy to have that competition in the squad.”
19-year old attacker Howard Fondyke has been rewarded for some outstanding performances with Glory Youth by being added to Mitchell’s extended match day squad. Glory has enjoyed an ideal preparation for their game against Fury by staying on the east coast rather than fly to and from Queensland twice in a week. “The players have enjoyed it and with everyone together in the same place we’ve been able to go through things in depth and they’re all looking forward to the challenge this week,” Mitchell said. “I was really pleased with our second half last week and will be looking for another performance like that over the 90 minutes against the Fury. It’ll be a tough game, I don’t think North Queensland has been getting their just rewards from their performances and they’re due a win, so we’ll be doing everything to make sure it doesn’t come at our expense.”
BOOST FOR GLORY YOUNG GUNS (courtesy Perth Glory)
Perth Glory Youth will finally start to resemble the side Gareth Naven had planned with the injury hampered side welcoming back five players for Saturday’s clash against the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra. Glory was without eleven of their sixteen contracted players last weekend, leaving the side desperately short on numbers. Despite drafting in replacements they were forced to play Gold Coast United with just one outfield substitute on the bench.
Saturday’s match though is a different proposition with experienced pair Dean Evans and Reece Vittiglia returning alongside Australian representative Cameron Edwards, while rookies Sam Mitchinson and Josh Risdon came in for their first games of the season. Anthony Skorich, now a senior listed player, is also set to take to the field after shaking off a long run of injuries that has plagued him since playing a starring role for the youngsters in their 2008/09 campaign.
Glory Youth physiotherapist, Sarah Cunningham, is delighted the majority of the side are again ready for action. “We have been careful in managing their recovery and, if anything, we have been more cautious because we want to ensure they don’t suffer any relapse,” said Cunningham. “Our primary concern is to get them healthy and give them the best opportunity to spend as much time as they can on the pitch.” Glory Youth followers can tune in to 990am Information Radio from 12.00noon tomorrow for Ashley Morrison’s play-by-play account of the AIS fixture.
WOMEN ON THE HUNT FOR THREE POINTS (courtesy Perth Glory)
Perth Glory Women are in the national spotlight this Saturday when victory over Adelaide United could propel them to within striking distance of the finals. Glory Women are currently fifth but only two points outside the top four. “It is a must win for us this weekend, we want to continue our recent form, play a solid ninety minutes and it’s a game that we go into really wanting to win” said coach John Gibson. “We were disappointed to drop two points last week (against Canberra United), it was one of our best performances for the year, our first half was outstanding. We had a few lapses of concentration in the second half and that cost us.”
Although exciting teenager Sam Kerr returns from international duty, Gibson says it’s no guarantee she’ll play. “We have a pretty settled line up this week, Sam (Kerr) is back into the squad after her international duties but overall we should be very, very similar in squad composition to the Canberra game” Gibson added. “We will assess tomorrow when we get to Adelaide and see how Sam has pulled up and how she goes in training. She has done a fair bit of travelling recently so we don’t want to push her too hard ... Whenever she comes on she makes a positive difference to the team.”
Gibson realises that in a short ten-game season, each win is crucial in the teams finals aspirations. “After this week we are half way through the season. It is a must win game, and going into the next few weeks, the games will get tougher so we need to capitalise this weekend. Most of the Adelaide squad are home grown and very similar to us so it should be a great game” he said. Home town fans can watch Glory Women’s game with Adelaide tomorrow from 3.00pm on ABC 1.
MAKAROUNAS FIRES FOR NATIONAL TEAM
A series of sparkling performances for the national youth side has served to underline how much teenager Jessie Makarounas has to offer Australian football. The 15-year old striker scored three goals in four games last week as the Joeys swept through qualifiers for next year’s AFC Under-16 Championship unbeaten. “I was very happy with the way I played in Canberra,” commented Makarounas, Australia’s joint top goal scorer at the qualifying tournament. “I feel I played well in every game, I helped my team by scoring a few goals and also setting up a few more.”
Makarounas is understandably over the moon at having played his first recognised game for Australia, having previously lined-up in a practice match with the Japan Under-15’s in April. “It felt amazing to pull on the green and gold shirt for the first time, it gave me a terrific sense of achievement knowing that I was representing my country in the sport I love,” he said. “And I’m thrilled to have scored my first three goals for Australia. I hope I get the chance to play and score a few more for my country in the future.”
Australia completing the Group H qualifiers in Canberra without loss to book a spot at the 2010 AFC Under-16 Championship. “The team played some very good football during the tournament,” said Makarounas. “Over the past year we’ve been travelling to Canberra for training camps and I believe all the hard work showed in the way the team performed. We controlled and dictated both games against Laos, but found it a bit harder against Malaysia as they were pressing us and not giving us much time on the ball.”
Having done his bit to get Australia to the final’s tournament, Makarounas is now more determined than ever to press on and take his development to the next level. “For the next twelve months I plan to keep working and training hard to improve myself in every aspect of my game,” said Makarounas, who honed his considerable skills with the National Training Centre over the winter months. “I’m waiting to hear whether I’ll be offered a scholarship with the Australian Institute of Sport and, hopefully, I’ll get the chance to move there and be in a 24/7 football environment.”
HOWARTH TAKES HIS CHANCE
Todd Howarth says he's determined to take any chance that comes his way as Perth Glory strives to qualify for their first A-League finals. Despite playing in just his eighth national league game, the former Perth SC player demonstrated his quality last weekend by slotting in his first goal at the top level, firing home a 54th minute equaliser against Gold Coast United. And while it was only a temporary reprieve - Gold Coast reclaimed the lead inside a minute of the restart - but for many it was conclusive evidence Howarth belonged at this level.
And there appears plenty more in store from Howarth as he looks to make the best of an opportunity he thought had passed him by. "I'd had a few trials with the Glory a few years before and that didn't work out," said Howarth from the club's temporary base on the Gold Coast. "I was always hoping they'd come knocking at my door again (but) I thought my chance had passed me by, so I went overseas for a couple of years and had a bit of a break from football and then came back and got into it. I just pretty much concentrated on the game and played State League and the opportunity came up and I knew that if I was ever given a chance, it only comes around once in a lifetime, I thought I would be stupid if I said no to it."
However, when opportunity did come knocking there were still some issues to be deal with such as Howarth leaving his day job and Glory squeezing him in under the salary cap. "The weeks leading up to it were a bit iffy, because of the salary cap and we had some pretty good players coming into the team and they came in quite late so I was notified quite late that I'd be signed," Howarth said. "It took me a few weeks to get up to speed (but) I suppose I've got a few minutes under my belt and got a little bit more confident and things are going okay now. I'm just pleased that it worked out well because it sort of looked like I wouldn't get in there."
SOCCEROO EXPERIENCE TO BOLSTER WOMEN (courtesy Football West)
Shaun Murphy has been confirmed as assistant coach to Perth Glory Women for the remainder of the 2009 W-League season. Murphy played over 400 games during a decade-plus career with Notts County, West Bromwich Albion, Sheffield United, Crystal Palace and Perth Glory, who he captained to Grand Final victory in 2003/04. "I've known (head coach) John (Gibson) for quite a number of years, we went to the AIS together and he was looking for an assistant, and I'm not doing much at the moment so have decided to get on board," said the former Socceroos defender. "I have been looking to do some real coaching. I haven't been doing a lot of hands on coaching in the men's game, so John has promised some hands on coaching opportunities which I am really looking forward to."
Despite not having experience in the women's game, Murphy is excited at having the opportunity to positively impact Glory players and the W-League as a whole. "I haven't been involved with the women's game at all previously, but I like what I see so far, the girls want to learn," said Murphy. "The women's league is in its infancy, it's only the second season so hopefully I can impart a bit of my experience on the girls and help to improve the league and get it on a par with some of the other women's leagues such as the US and Swedish leagues. I think realistically we have got to try and make the top four this season, which would be a massive step forward after last season."
MITCHELL STANDS BY NEVILLE
Perth Glory coach David Mitchell will keep faith in his remodelled defence for Saturday's away game with bottom-of-the-table North Queensland Fury. Young defender Scott Neville was included in the starting line-up against Gold Coast United last Sunday in the absence of the suspended Andy Todd, but played an unfortunate role in the 2-1 defeat. The former Sorrento player put the ball in his own net for Gold Coast's opener after 12 minutes and his collision with fellow defender Jamie Coyne after 56 minutes allowed Shane Smeltz to score the decisive goal.
Mitchell said the spirit among the squad had been good despite the defeat. He reiterated his view that Neville was a "fantastic talent" and said the 20-year old would learn from his mistakes. "There were really just unfortunate errors that happened and from a coaching point of view, it's just a communication thing with the players," he told Dale Miller of the 'West Australian'. "There's nothing fundamentally wrong. I'm pretty happy with the way we played and like I said, I'm just disappointed with the outcome."
Former Socceroo Shaun Murphy delivered a vote of confidence in Glory's defence, labelling it as the key to their A-League title hopes. "Glory have got firepower up front and you just know if they hang on in games where they're defending well, they'll pinch things," Murphy said. "I think Andy Todd has been a big plus for them. I think Chris Coyne is probably finding his feet a little bit, but he'll be a really good player for them as well and I can't see them conceding too many goals."
Saturday's game with North Queensland looms as a crucial fixture for fourth-placed Glory with Mitchell warning his players not to take their hosts lightly. "The situation is that everyone says we're playing the bottom team, but they're due a win," Mitchell said. "They're a tough team with the conditions starting to heat up up there. They've been very, very unlucky with some of their results and this'll be a very, very tough game for us. It's by no means a foregone conclusion."
CANNING VIBES RIGHT FOR RUSSELL
A couple of years out of the coaching spotlight have done nothing to dim Billy Russell’s enthusiasm for the game. Russell says the sense of belonging he experienced during discussions with newly demoted Canning City played a big part in him taking on the senior coaching position for 2010. “After a meeting with the Canning president, Malcolm Watson, I have a similar feeling to when I joined Armadale - the club was filled with nice people and there was a good atmosphere about the place,” commented Russell, who selected Tom Kilkelly as his assistant. “It’s good to be involved again, both Tom and myself will give our all for this club.”
While Canning’s inaugural season in the Premier League didn’t go quite as the club had planned, several players proved themselves more than capable of matching it with the best the State League has to offer. As such, Russell accepts that the squad he’ll work with next year may be considerably different to that he inherited from out-going coach Frank Longstaff. “I think we will lose some players to Premier League clubs but we have already started asking players down,” explained Russell. “There are also some good young players at the club who’re looking forward to working with and progressing to the first team.”
Russell is looking forward to his new job after a spell as Stuart Currie’s assistant at Mandurah City. “I spent last two years at Mandurah as assistant and - being honest - it didn’t suit me 100%. Through no fault of Stu’s, it seemed something happened every week and we spent more time in the board room than the training ground,” said Russell, who in 1987 moved from Glasgow to Perth. His coaching successes include guiding Rockingham City (1999) and Armadale (2004) into the Premier League, at which level he’s coached Cockburn City and Armadale.
SUBIACO OVAL TOO SMALL FOR WORLD CUP SEMIS
Football Federation Australia is warning that Perth will have no chance of hosting a World Cup semi-final unless the State Government urgently commits to significantly increasing Subiaco Oval's capacity. The sports national body is demanding the Government confirm its plans for Subiaco Oval in the next few weeks to help finalise a "bidding agreement" by the 11 December deadline set by FIFA. The FFA's demands increase pressure on Premier Colin Barnett to either resurrect the Carpenter government's plan for a new $1.1 billion multi-purpose stadium or embrace the WA Football Commission's Subiaco Oval "rebuild" option which would cost about $300 million.
Australia is among ten nations bidding for the rights to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cup but the $45 million bid needs considerable co-operation from the States to comply with FIFA's venue requirements. It is understood FFA chief executive Ben Buckley is seeking urgent talks with Barnett to settle issues surrounding the Perth venue which, because of the time zone, may be an attractive place to host high-profile games. Under FIFA's rules World Cup group games must be played in stadiums with a capacity of at least 44,000, and to be in the reckoning for a semi-final game the venue must hold 60,000 fans. Subiaco Oval's maximum capacity is 43,000 with its yet-to-be-finalised redevelopment plans likely to take it to 50,000.
SCALI, COLE SHARE TOP HONOURS AT SWAN
Swan United legend Damian Scali has bowed out of football by sharing his clubs Fairest and Best award with defensive mainstay Aaron Cole. It really was a night to remember for Scali, the veteran picking up his fifth successive and club record ninth Golden Boot trophy before finishing level with Cole in the club's highest individual award. "Sharing the trophy with the icon of Swan is an honour and privilege that I will always treasure," commented Cole, who became first player in Swan history to win the award two years in a row. "Winning any Fairest and Best is great but to do it back-to-back makes it even more special for me." The trophy as Reserve team Fairest and Best player was won by defensive mainstay Ben Lees. It was a three-way tie for Runner-Up Fairest and Best between Matt Wood, Andrea Terni and Niall Hughes, that latter also going home with the Golden Boot. Dara McNally collected the Youth team Fairest and Best ahead of Tim Hill.
MITCHELL DISMISSIVE OF FRICTION SUGGESTIONS
David Mitchell has denied there's bad blood between midfielders Jacob Burns and Victor Sikora after the pair argued during Perth Glory's weekend loss to Gold Coast United. Burns ran over to Mitchell on the sideline asking for Sikora to be taken off just before half-time after the Glory captain was forced to mop up a mistake by the former Dutch international. But Mitchell said Burns' merely over-reacted to the error, saying there were no issues between the players off the pitch. "That's a heat of the moment scenario but nothing to do with how Victor was playing," said Mitchell from the club's temporary base on the Gold Coast this week. "I think it was a situation where Jacob had to make a long run because Victor let a ball run through his legs and then Jacob had to run 70 metres and he was frustrated. He was just a bit annoyed (but) next time it could be Victor shouting at Jacob. When someone doesn't do something when they expect them to do it, they get on their back."
MUSEUM GETS NORMANTON’S BLESSING
Western Australia’s most successful coach, Graham Normanton, is a strong supporter of the Football Hall of Fame’s push to establish a Football Museum. “It’s a marvelous idea - and something, I believe, is long overdue,” Normanton said in the the Fame Game Issue 7 (pdf, 656kb). “The Committee of the Hall of Fame have to be commended for what they have done to help preserve the history of the game in WA. But that now needs to go a step further. Football is part of the heritage of this State. It reflects the immigration and deserves to be showcased. Establishing a Museum is certainly something that would get my full backing.” Normanton’s record of winning seventeen trophies during a decade as coach of Perth SC were saluted with entry into the Hall of Recognition at last year’s Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
GONZALES NAMED BAYSWATER’S BEST
Columbian import Cesar Gonzales has marked his first winter in Perth by winning Bayswater City’s Fairest and Best player award. Gonzales made his Bayswater debut in round seven and near no time at all had cemented his place in the line-up. Midfielder Paul Hickey came in as Runner-Up Fairest and Best with Damir Kuduzovic collecting the Coaches Award. Andy Reale was awarded the Reserve team Reserves Fairest and Best ahead of Josh Pirone, and the Coaches Award went home with Alex Duncan. The Youth team Fairest and Best was presented to Amer Kujovic, Jordan Mitasch came in Runner-Up and Blaise Pillera collected the Coaches Award.
VALE MAL BROWN
Mal Brown, one of state's most accomplished and respected coaches, passed away yesterday at the age of 79. Born in Scotland, Brown arrived in Western Australia in the late 1960's and within a few years had taken on the role of State Director of Coaching. He commenced what would be a two-year spell as coach of Perth Azzurri in 1973, winning the Night Series and D'Orsogna Cup in his first year and guiding the side to second in the Premier League twelve months later. Brown later coached Kingsway Olympic, Cracovia and Inglewood Kiev as well as the State Under-18 team. In 1998 he was awarded the WA Junior Coach of the Year, and in 2008 was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame Western Australia.
DYSON SCOOPS ROCKINGHAM'S POOL
Defender Danny Dyson went home a happy man from Rockingham City's annual presentation evening at Golden Ponds Function Centre in Baldivis. Dyson picked up his club's highest individual honour, the Player of the Year, and was also voted the Players' Player of the Year by his peers. Summer signing Peter Kuzet was runner-up in th main award, Ryan Stewart collected the Coaches Player of the Year and Tom Downes the Shield Award. The trophy as Reserve team Player of the Year went to Cameron Harvey, who also received the Players' Player of the Year. Runner-Up Player of the Year was Jake Murray with the Coaches Player of the Year presented to Liam Harvey. The Youth team trophies were shared between Elliott Jones (Player of the Year), Brad Burton (Runner-Up Player of the Year), Brad Lewis (Players' Player of the Year) and Hilario Nunes (Coaches Player of the Year).
TOMBIDES SCORES ON WEST HAM DEBUT
Teenager Dylan Tombides made a stunning debut for West Ham United’s Under-18 side by getting on the scoresheet in the 2-0 FA Premier League win over Portsmouth on Saturday. Tombides, 15 and the son of former Kingsway Olympic player Jim Tombides, had been in red-hot form for the Hammers Under-16 team and made the most of his first start at the next level. “We’re going to blood a young schoolboy who has done very well for us,” said coach Tony Carr prior to the game of Dylan. “He’s a striker and is not 16 till March, he’s had a couple of sub appearances so this will be his first start. We’ve had a few injuries so it’s an opportunity for Dylan to show us what he can do.”
Tombides started out as a junior at Wembley Downs and played academy football at Stirling Lions and Perth SC prior to taking up trials with West Ham in 2008. “What an amazing start to young Dylan’s career at West Ham,” said Stirling president Don Evans. “His parents, Jim and Tracy Lee, are so proud of their son as our club is of this first big and important step in Dylan’s dream for a pro league contract. It proves that the local talent in WA can mix it in one of the best leagues in the world and we hope Dylan is the tip of the development iceberg for the Stirling Lions youth development focus.”
The name Tombides is synonymous with football in this state, the family heavily involved in the game since the formation of the Western Australian Soccer Federation in 1960. Peter Tombides, Dylan’s grandfather, was a prolific goal scorer in the 1950’s and 1960’s with Olympic Macedonia while his father, Jim, was also handy at finding the back of the net at Olympic Kingsway. Steve and Paul Tombides, uncle’s to Dylan, were part of the powerful Kingsway side that won two State League titles and two Night Series trophies in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
STERJOVSKI SET TO RETURN
Perth Glory coach David Mitchell expects to welcome back Mile Sterjovski for this Saturday's away game with North Queensland Fury after the marquee player missed yesterday's 2-1 setback at Gold Coast United. The Socceroos international pulled out of the game just hours before kick-off after succumbing to a leg injury picked up the previous week against Adelaide United. "Mile trained the day before the game and did well but woke up on Sunday feeling sore and we thought it best not to push it for this game," Mitchell said. "Mile knows his body better than any one else and felt that he'd be able to shake off the knock but on Sunday morning we spoke about it together and decided not to risk it. Mile didn't want to start the game and after twenty minutes have to be replaced if he was hurting because that would disrupt our flow during the game. He is a team man and wanted what was best for his team mates." Glory will stay on the east coast this week as they look to get their finals push back on track after yesterday's loss.
GOLD COAST GO TOP AFTER CONTROVERSIALLY DOWNING GLORY
A fortunate Gold Coast United moved to the top of the A-League ladder with a 2-1 win over a spirited but luckless Perth Glory at Skilled Park. Glory had every reason to feel robbed of at least a draw after striker Branko Jelic was denied a goal midway through the second half for what replays showed was an incorrect offside call. “We got the (second half) goal we justly deserved and then a couple of decisions went against us that cost us the game,” said Glory coach David Mitchell, who was critical of the decision. “The linesman or referees are supposed to go in favour of the strikers - certainly when you are level, you’re onside - but I think there’s a lot of grey mist with decisions with offside. I think FIFA or the FFA should come out and made a rule saying if there is clear daylight between the striker and the defender then you’re offside because this level is confusing everyone.”
Jelic should have put Glory ahead after just 90 seconds but failed make the most of a sweetly timed through ball from Adriano Pellegrino. It was a miss that was compounded in the 13th minute when a Jason Culina free-kick struck Scott Neville, stranding Tando Velaphi with the ball deflecting into the goalkeeper’s net. Glory didn’t dwell too long on either event and remained very much in the game, although it did take until the second half for them to really get into rhythm with star striker Mile Sterjovski watching from the bench. The visitors best chance came shortly before the interval when Wayne Srhoj attempted to beat Jess Van Strattan at his near post when they better option would have been to shoot across the goalkeeper.
Glory emerged from the break a different proposition but was left wondering what they had to do when referee Matthew Breeze ignored appeals for a penalty after Kristian Rees had dragged down Jelic. Their answer arrived on 55 minutes, Todd Howarth showing great poise in slotting under Van Strattan after being played into the box by Victor Sikora. However, Glory were again chasing the game just moments later when a collision between Jamie Coyne and Neville allowed Joel Porter to deliver a perfect cross which Smeltz netted at close-range. Jelic continue to threaten and on 67 minutes the striker tucked away the loose ball after Van Strattan spilled a shot at goal by Jamie Coyne only to be controversially ruled offside.
DE FELICE SENDS PERTH INTO GRAND FINAL
Perth SC became the first team through to the Flexible Signage Solutions Grand Final by defeating Western Knights 3-2 in today's Major Semi-Final at Nash Field. Blues midfielder Dom De Felice grabbed a brace to compliment Andrew Bourakis' opening goal in an entertaining match that went right down to the wire. Despite the loss, the Knights have another chance to make the Final after finishing top of the table in 2009 and they will take on Floreat Athena next weekend in the Preliminary Final.
Perth were given the best possible start when, with 2 minutes on the clock, Bourakis clipped a delightful free-kick over the defensive wall and into the bottom corner, beyond the diving goalkeeper. The margin was very nearly doubled soon after as Okwy Diamondstar's mis-kick allowed in Phil Arnold, but having danced between two defenders he dragged across the face of goal. The Knights drew level in the 10th minute through David Micevski's well-flighted a corner into the 6-yard box which Anthony Campbell headed powerful into the net. Duuane Hepburn spurned a golden opportunity to put the Knights in front by failing to connect cleanly with a centring ball from the left by Campbell, giving Bourakis ample time to get back to concede the corner.
The Knights would pay dearly for that missed opportunity in the 22nd minute when a De Felice was permitted to drift into the area and arrow in his header from a deep Bourakis corner. Hepburn was guilty of wasting another good opening, blasting well high of the crossbar after skipping away from Trent Kay after he lost his footing. Perth posted their third goal in the 33rd minute, David Onoforo playing down the right to Matt Danskin who cleverly switched play to the opposite flank where Arnold nodded the ball back across the top of the area for an unmarked De Felice to sidefoot precisely in from 12-metres.
Appeals for a legitimate Perth penalty were waved away by referee Paul Anderson after Onoforo appeared to be tripped by Annall shortly after the interval. Perth were eager to kill the game off with a fourth goal and Danskin's rasping drive was parried by Fraser Siddall, whose had his gloves stung again soon after by Arnold's effort from 16-metres. The Knights were also attacking at every opportunity, however, their preference for playing the ball long to Campbell and Hepburn did them no favours as it cut the creativity of David Micevski out of the game.
Even so, the hosts did have claims for a penalty dismissed after Barry Devlin went down under Michael Icanovski, while David Micevski's shot in a congested area was deflected wide off defender. The Knights were eventually rewarded in the 79th minute when David Micevski's corner was cleared only as far as substitute Daniel Trim, who clipped the ball back to the top of the 6-yard box where Annall neatly headed past a flat-footed 'keeper. Craig Simpson came to the rescue when Luke Martino failed to take Trim's ball into the area, while late in the piece the young 'keeper punched a speculative long ball clear under pressure from Daniel Micevski.
SUPER SUB KERR HELPS AUSTRALIA WIN CHAMPIONSHIP
Perth Glory Women midfielder Sam Kerr scored twice as Australia clinched the ASEAN Football Federation Under-16 Women's Championship by thrashing Thailand 8-0 in this evenings final. "I am very pleased with the team performance tonight and through the tournament," said coach Robbie Hooker upon conclusion of the tournament played in Yangon, Myanmar. "I still think there are some things we need to work on including finishing, but it was a good result and valuable experience heading into the AFC Championships."
The Young Matildas made commanding start to their ASEAN Cup push, hitting six first half goals before plundering a further eight to whallopping the Philippines 14-0 on Saturday 10 October. Alanna Kennedy lead the way with four, substitute Caitlin Friend grabbed a hat-trick, there were two each for Teigen Allen and Heidi Markillos with Kerr, Ashlee Faul and Brittany Whitfield getting the remainder. Kerr played the first half before being replaced by Rebekah Stott.
A place in the semi-finals was secured two days later when Australia overwhelmed Vietnam 5-0. Nicola Bolger's opportunistic strike after 18 minutes got the ball rolling and soon after Friend tore down the centre, side stepped a couple of defenders and lashed into the net. Foord was on target again on the half hour with early second half strikes from Brittany Whitfield and Friend sealing the win.
Despite the hot conditions of a mid-afternoon start, Australia hit another twelve goals without reply in accounting for Myanmar 'B'. Faul scored twice with Allen and Whitfield also on the scoresheet to give the Young Matildas a handy four-goal half-time buffer. Makrillos then went on a goal-scoring spree, scoring five times in twenty minutes, before Whitfield completed her hat-trick and captain Hannah Brewer converted a penalty. Kerr watched the entire game from the bench as an unused substitute.
The Young Matildas were hardly troubled in defeating Myanmar 'A' 6-1 in the semi-finals. The scene was set early with Friend putting Australia ahead inside a minute, and Myanmar losing goalkeeper Zar Zar Myint to injury. To their credit, Myanmar conjured up an equaliser soon after but found themselves under pressure for lengthy periods before Kerr and Kennedy scored late in the half, with Tara Andrews, Whitfield and Emily Van Egmond netting after the break.
Australia's total dominance of this evening's final was underlined by the 8-0 winning scoreline over Thailand, who contested the first half strongly but fell of the pace after the interval. Whitfield scored the only goal of the first half and it wasn't until Foord netted in the 59th minute that the floodgates opened. Kerr came off the bench on the hour and scored twice in fifteen minutes, between which Makrillos netted the teams fourth. Foord picked up her second, Allen scoring directly from a corner before Van Egmond completed the scoring with the last kick of the game.
SIBLING RIVALRY IN THE PAST FOR COYNE BOYS
After growing up as the fiercest of rivals Chris and Jamie Coyne are now the best of friends. Having spent almost their entire careers on opposite sides of the world the brothers will on Sunday stand side by side. The pair were reunited at Perth Glory this season when older sibling Chris returned home from a 13-year career in the United Kingdom. Despite being a little more than two years between them, the pair never played in the same junior team, giving this season extra significance. "We've always got on well as mates off the pitch and it's a good experience," Chris said. "Once you cross that white line the nepotism goes out the window. It's just two players trying to do a good job.''
A heated sibling rivalry played a significant part in firing the competitive instincts that have spurred both Coyne boys on during their professional careers. "I think every time we went for a kick the ball got left over at the school or the park, because we ended up having a fight with each other and that was it," 28-year old Jamie told Braden Quartermaine of the 'Sunday Times' newspaper. "There are a lot of similarities in our attitude. We're both very committed and very aggressive and we have a win at all costs attitude."
Both brothers credit their father John, who played for the Socceroos in the 1970s, as a big influence on their early development. "He was teaching us stuff at a young age that you don't even realise," Jamie said. "Things other people weren't learning till they were 16, 17 and you were learning when you were six years old. I think that was great. When we were growing up you'd cop a bit of stick off your mates, we maybe knew only three or four other kids in our whole neighbourhood who sort of liked soccer."
Chris, 30, joined his father in the Socceroos club when Pim Verbeek selected him to make a belated national team debut aged 29 last year. "I always said to my old man I'd get there eventually so to get that initial call-up was a dream come true and hopefully one the little fella (Jamie) can emulate," said the former Luton Town and Colchester United captain. The Coyne brothers are likely to partner each other in the heart of the Glory defence against Gold Coast United this afternoon as a result of a two-game ban handed to central defender Andy Todd.
Jamie, who played in two National Soccer League championship sides with Glory, said playing alongside his brother has been a long held goal. "We always talked about it over a few beers, that it'd be nice to play the last couple of years of our careers together and obviously it's ended up happening a bit earlier," he said. "We get on really well and to have the opportunity to live in the same city again is great and the old man doesn't have to run home from my games and then stick the TV or radio on to listen to Chris' (overseas) games at night."
FOSTER FIRES FLOREAT INTO LAST THREE
Floreat Athena kept their play-off dreams alive with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Mandurah City on a warm afternoon at Litis Stadium. Substitute David Foster grabbed the decisive goal after 107 minutes of play to send Floreat into next weekend’s Preliminary Final with regular season winners Western Knights. The home side had taken the lead early through Daniel Neiderberger and looked set for victory until Jake Loreto snatched the equaliser in the 91st minute of a game that was played in near 37-degree heat.
Christian Paschkewitz was gifted a great opportunity to give Mandurah a dream start but headed tamely at goalkeeper Alex Dunn inside a couple of minutes. It was a miss that would prove costly as with 5 minutes on the clock Mark Walsh’s under-hit back-pass was pounced on by Daniel Neiderberger who, although forced wide by Phil Straker, stroked neatly into the net from a narrowing angle. Mandurah then had appeals for what looked a legitimate penalty dismissed by referee Ton Klaver, whose only response was to speak sternly to Stephen Payne after he went down under the challenge of Adam Bachiller.
The match official saw it differently in the 20th minute by awarding a Mandurah penalty for James Isaia’s soft foul on Nicky Platt, however, justice was seen to be done when Payne’s explosive spot kick rebounded back into play off the post. Floreat were playing with greater composure and fluency, and Mikulic really should have done better than push the ball straight into goalkeeper Phil Straker after meeting a low John Migas cross on top of the 6-yard box. The halves final opening came in stoppage time at the opposite end with Paschkewitz heading high a long ball into the area by Payne.
The main talking point of a sluggish start to the second half was the inconsistency of Klaver, the referee awarding Mandurah a free-kick on top of the 18-yard box despite a clear handball by Payne and yet ignored a succession of bone-jarring challenges on Mikulic. The game didn’t spark back into life until the 69th minutes when Migas blazed over the bar following a neat exchange of passes with Foster down the left. Four minutes later Platt drew the attention of the defence before playing into the path of Alex Darby whose crisp first time effort flashed past Dunn but was just wide of the mark. Straker then came to Mandurah’s rescue with a world-class save which kept out a cracking Migas’ volley that was heading for the top corner.
Platt unleashed a fierce effort from 16-metres that stung the gloves of Dunn, who was grateful when the referee pulled up Rafael Insaurralde for diving as he attempted to regain possession. With five minutes of regulation time left Platt’s brilliant dipping volley was acrobatically pushed on to the post by Dunn as the visitors sought desperately to equaliser. Migas and Mirco had chances to seal the victory within minuts of each other but neither was able to find the target. Mandurah got their rewarded three minutes into stoppage time when Walsh’s cross was partially cleared and eventually touched back for Loreto to drive through a crowded area and wide of Dunn.
Floreat wanted to reclaim the lead as soon as possible once extra-time began but Straker was quickly off his line to deny Migas after he’d linked well with Mirco. Next to threaten was Mikulic who, despite being afforded plenty of space, fired high of the bar, and not too long after Migas did likewise from the edge of the area. Floreat deservedly went back in front after 107 minutes, Jason Barrera driving a fine ball into the area where Foster stooped to head in at close-range and sent the home supporters into raptures. It really was heartbreaking for a tired Mandurah line-up which, not for want of trying, was unable to conjure up any further openings or a second equaliser.
CANBERRA FIGHT BACK TO DEFY GLORY WOMEN
Perth Glory Women have played out a 2-2 draw with Canberra United in sweltering conditions at Clipsal Stadium. Goals inside ten minutes from Collette McCallum and Marianna Tabain gave Glory the jump on their visitors who had Shu O Tseng pull one back midway through the second half with Ashleigh Sykes snatching a draw minutes from full-time. “Obviously we have got to work on a few things,” said Glory commented John Gibson. “In very, very trying conditions it was certainly a tale of two halves. All in all it was a fairly consistent performance by all the team. Certainly Shannon May was wonderful today, she is a quiet achiever. I also thought Alex Singer was quite marvellous on the left side and then coming into the centre back role and did really well.”
With the temperature nudging 36.5 degree at kick-off, Glory had to wait only 5 minutes before McCallum fired them ahead from the penalty spot following Ellie Brush’s foul on Lisa De Vanna. Less than a minute later the margin was doubled as an attempted to clearance ricocheted off Tabain and lobbed over stranded goalkeeper Lydia Williams. Elise D’Ovidio could have put the game beyond Canberra’s reach when found unmarked by De Vanna but the midfielder’s shot glided wide of the target. Canberra slowly worked their way back into the game and Eleanor Raymond would reduce the deficit if not for the heroics of ‘keeper Emma Wirkus.
It was a rejuvenated Canberra that took to the pitch for the second half, the visitors enjoying the better of play before being rewarded for their efforts just after the hour. Glory’s failure to clear the ball from inside their penalty box saw several attempts on goal either hit the crossbar or blocked by a defender before O Tseng coolly fired past Wirkus at the back post. Canberra continued to press for an equaliser and it eventually arrived in the 83rd minute when Sykes’ header was too good for Wirkus. Despite tired legs, both teams pushed hard for a late winner but in the end shared points was a fair result with both teams dominant for a half.
GOLD COAST THUMP GLORY YOUTH
An under strength Perth Glory Youth side has been humbled 4-0 by Gold Coast United. The home side claimed the ascendancy after 13 minutes when superb cross by James Brown sat nicely for Golgol Mebrahtu who hardly broke stride to slam the ball past the goalkeeper. This set the tone for the rest of the half in which Mebrahtu and Andrew Barisic tormented the visiting defence with Ben Halloran providing much of the ammunition. Glory remained in the hunt Ryan Edwards and Ludovic Boi creating opportunities but unable to break through a well-organised defence.
Glory captain Steve Hesketh ran himself into the ground all afternoon but on 57 minutes his failure to clear was punished by Barisic, who made no mistake extending the home teams lead. Halloran twice went close to adding a third as Gold Coast sought to kill the game off. The points were eventually made safe in the 75th minute when a strong run from Mitchell Bevan allowed Halloran space to fire goal number three into the net. Gold Coast peppered their opponents goal for the remainder and with five minutes go to Bevan’s searching cross ended with Zachary Anderson scoring his first of the season.
JOEYS QUALIFY FOR ASIAN CHAMPIONSHIP
Australia has eased their way into next year's AFC Under-16 Championship by going undefeated in the qualifiers. The Joeys finished on top of Group H, which was played at McKellar Park in Canberra last week, with big wins against Laos (7-0 and 6-0) interspersed by sterner tests from Malaysia (2-2 and 2-1). "The most important results were that the players developed technical and tactically over the past fortnight, experienced their first international tournament and qualified for next year's AFC Under-16 Championship," said coach Jean-Paul de Marigny said following their final match. "I'm sure the boys learnt a lot in the four games and being in camp together for such a long period of time will also be of great benefit in future."
The Joeys outclassed Laos 7-0 in cold, windy conditions on Tuesday, 6 October. Jake Monaco volleyed in the first goal after 26 minutes from a Brodie Paterson, who increased the margin three minutes from the break when his speculative cross floated into the net. Moments later, Phonepaseuth Vongsipasom denied Jesse Makarounas but was unable to prevent Monaco scoring from a couple metres. Hayden Morton netted early in the second half, goal number five came via Makarounas, who four minutes later set-up Joshua Da Silva. Yianni Perkatis completed the scoring with a vicious blast into the top corner. Perth SC youngster Makarounas, the only West Australian in the squad, played a full game.
Malaysia came from behind to salvage a 2-2 draw with Australia in Saturday's qualifier. The scoring was opened after 12 minutes by Stevan Ilic, who slotted in after his initial shot was parried by goalkeeper Mohamad Firdaus. Australia looked to be home and hosed when Giancarlo Gallifuoco headed in their second from a Paterson cross midway through the second half. Malaysia reduced the deficit on 75 minutes when Lachlan Tibbles spilled a cross which Nik Syafiq Syazwan headed into an empty net, and ten minutes later Muhammad Nazmi found the back of the net with a free-kick. Makarounas came off the bench after 86 minutes for Stevan Ilic.
A 6-0 win over Laos three days later effectively secured the Joeys qualification for the Championship. Gallifuoco headed in the opener just before the half-hour with Makarounas doubling Australia's lead in the shadow of half-time. The result was secured in the 70th minute when goalkeeper Thinnakone Souliyamath fumbled a corner which Morton tapped in and six minutes later Connor Chapman added another. Substitutes Da Silva and Ilic combined twice late in the game with the latter beating the offside trap on each occasion to add goals number five and six. Makarounas was replaced after 73 minutes by Ilic.
Australia wrapped up qualification for next year's Under-16 Championship by defeating Malaysia 2-1 on yesterday. A well constructed move orchestrated by Paterson out of midfield was finished by Makarounas for the Joey's opening goal after 9 minutes. Paterson laid on the second goal by touching the ball off for Milos Degenek to blast through a crowded area and into the bottom corner just after the half hour. Malaysia pulled a goal back just before the break, Muhammad Akmal sliding the ball past Tibbles as he came out to close the striker down. Malaysia took control early in the second half and with a little more luck would have equalised, however, Australia held on to record their third win and qualify for next year's Championship. Makarounas played the full 90 minutes.
FINALS FIELD TO BE TRIMMED BY ONE
Floreat Athena v Mandurah City (Referee: Ton Klaver)
Pulses are sure to be racing when Floreat Athena come up against Mandurah City in the elimination Minor Semi-Final at Litis Stadium on Saturday (3.00pm). There was very little between the sides in either regular season meeting and Floreat defender James Isaia is tipping a similarly close contest. "Mandurah are a physical, well-drilled side and games between us have been really tight and could have gone either way," commented Isaia, who feels his team have really found their groove in recent times. "In the last month we have really clicked and are playing some great football. If we can keep that going and take our chances, we should be able to get a result."
Jason Godfrey says Mandurah have absolutely no desire for this to be their last game of 2009. "We have worked hard to get to this stage of the season and we don't want it to end against Floreat. It's been a up and down season for us with coaches departing, players leaving but Stuart Young has done a great job and all the players are happy with him," said the defender. "There are no easy games when you get into the Top Five and we know we have to beat every one if we want to win it. Floreat always field a strong team, we haven't beaten them this year and they looked in great form against Perth last week. It'll be a tough but I know we're up for the challenge."
Western Knights v Perth SC (Referee: Paul Anderson)
The chance to be first through to the Grand Final is up for grabs when long-time foes Western Knights and Perth SC meet in the Major Semi-Final at Nash Field on Sunday (1.00pm). "Our form at home this season has been great. We were disappointed in our previous performances against Perth and the lads are hungry to make amends," commented Cormac Dawson, who says the Knights are ready to go after a few weeks break. "The coaches have been mixing things up in order to keep the lads sharp for the Finals. The emphasis on Tuesday nights has typically been on maintaining fitness, whilst Thursday nights have been lighter and more match-oriented. Everyone is back at training this week and there is serious competition for places in the team."
Perth was pushed all the way last week by Floreat and Greg Sharland is under no illusions that Sunday will be any different. "Every time we play the Knights it's a great game. They have a very formidable side this season which has flair along with size - that's been a real handle for many teams. It should be a very exciting game as at Nash Field the ground is so tight there are always many chances for both teams," he said. "Having a great squad is very important if you want to win trophies and we have got a lot of our players back from injury, so competition for places in the starting eleven will be intense. And having done the double over the Knights this year is also an extra confidence booster."
FOOTBALL’S 100-YEAR MILESTONE – BUT IS ANYONE COUNTING? (by Ashley Morrison, Not the Footy Show)
No doubt many football fans in Western Australia will be oblivious to the fact that this year is the centenary of the State football team’s first interstate match. This issue was raised with the former head of Football West to see if there were any plans to recognise such an historic event with the State team playing New South Wales to commemorate the first fixture. This now looks highly unlikely; however, as a sport we do have an opportunity to not allow this milestone to slip by unrecognised.
The suggestion I would like to put forward is that the Perth Glory approach the FFA and Sydney FC and ask that the Perth Glory Youth fixture be allowed to commemorate the Centenary, and that both teams be permitted to wear their state colours instead of their A-League colours. The Glory Youth team has only one interstate player in the squad and otherwise represents the young talent of Western Australia, so why not give these players the honour of celebrating this important milestone? It would be criminal to let 100 years slip by unrecognised, wouldn’t it?
GRIFFITHS TAKES A STEP BACK
North Queensland midfielder Rostyn Griffiths says he doesn't mind taking one for the team. The 21-year old will step back into the defensive line for Fury's encounter with Wellington Phoenix at Dairy Farmers Stadium on Saturday. Despite having only played 'bits and pieces' as a defender during his football career, coach Ian Ferguson called on the youngster to move into the back four last week when the experienced Scott Wilson suffered what appears to be a season-ending knee injury.
Though he is clearly more at home in the midfield, Griffiths is happy to show his versatility. "There are things I do like about the position and things I don't," he told Rebecca Barr of sportal.com.au. "I don't like having to focus on where the other player is and always having to think about where I have to be. I know you have to (do that) a little bit in the midfield but more so in defence because if you make a mistake that's it. But I like being on the ball and dropping deep which suits me."
Ferguson is more than happy to have Griffiths at the back, especially after his efforts in shutting down Central Coast Mariners goal scorer Matt Simon last weekend. "I thought he was fantastic the other day, he did a great job," Ferguson said of Griffiths. "He looked as though he should be a centre half, the way he played … Simon had nothing to do after big Rostyn sort of put the shackles on him."
Griffiths has played in nine of the Fury's ten games and started for all of those, but never as a defender - although he may have made his own bed by performing out of his skin at Central Coast. "Sometimes that's the case … you do too well and keep that position," Griffiths joked. "But I don't think it'll be a long term thing … I think if we get another player in or someone comes back from injury soon I'll be swapped back. In the meantime I'm happy to do the job there for as long as it takes."
APPRENTICE TO FACE THE MASTER (courtesy Football West)
Perth Glory Women coach John Gibson will be facing his old mentor, Ray Junna, when Canberra United travel west for Saturday's W-League game at Clipsal Stadium (3.00pm). Gibson was assistant coach at Canberra last season and also served under Junna at the Australian Institute of Sport. “It will be good to catch up with Ray Junna as he was my mentor at the AIS, and of course the opposition payers who I worked with last season, but it will be a bit of same old same old” said Gibson. “Canberra is a vastly different team with a different style and has had a big turnaround in players since the inaugural season. Saying that there is some familiarity there so I have definitely got a few ideas on how to combat them, but it will be all business once the first whistle sounds.”
Glory trained well during the week with Gibson emphasising the importance of not getting too carried away with last weekend’s victory over Newcastle Jets. “We have spoken about backing up from last weekend’s first victory, we have been quite honest with the girls this weekend on where they are at, and we need to continue to maintain that run” he said. “Winning is a habit that we want to get into and we’ve got some really important games coming up so three points this weekend is crucial. We are looking to build a bit of momentum now. Canberra has had two losses on the trot against some very tough teams including Brisbane Roar, but they will be coming here to get a result and it will be a tough, hard match for both teams.”
Tomorrow’s game with Canberra will be Glory’s first home game not at the familiar surrounds of ME Bank Stadium, however, Gibson does not believe the change of scenery will prove too difficult for his side. “Some of the girls have played at Clipsal Stadium previously with the NTC squad so it won’t be totally unknown to us,” said Gibson. “It’s a different venue but it’s our home game, that’s our new home for the rest of the season, and we will be making it our fortress and tough for opposition teams to come to and get a result.” Tickets for tomorrow's game, which commences at 3.00pm at Clipsal Stadium in Inglewood, are available on the gate at $5.00 for adults and $2.00 concession.
KNIGHTS WANT THE DOUBLE
Western Knights will be leaving no stone unturned in their attempt to add the Flexible Signage Solutions Finals Series championship trophy to the Premier League regular season title they have under lock and key at Nash Field. Paul Price's team were the competition yardstick this year and, as far as his players are concerned, it's only half-time. "It's been a very good season for all involved at the club," said Irish midfielder Barry Devlin. "At the start of the season our main goal was to win the league and to do it with three games left was fantastic. Not too many people would have tipped us as title contenders at the start of the season but the players were quietly confident. Our next goal now is the Grand Final."
Goalkeeper Frazer Siddall, whose season was interrupted by an appearance at the World University Games in Serbia with Great Britain, feels the bond between the Knights player group has solidified over the course of the winter. "We have a great chemistry on and off the pitch and this really shows in the way we play and how much Western Knights winning the league has meant to us," said Siddall. "The way the team celebrated after Anthony Campbell scored a late winner against Canning City also demonstrated the passion we have for winning. But I can speak for the team when I say that we are still hurting from losing in the Cup semi-finals (to Inglewood United)."
The Knights benefited from a stable line-up this season, coach Paul Price starting only 21 players in this seasons' 22-games. "We were worthy League champions, in all championship campaigns you need a little luck and we haven’t had many serious injuries during the season," stated defender Okwy Diamondstar, before tipping his hat to coaching staff. "Paul and Tony (Castielli) have got the best out of all the players. I've got a lot of respect for the coaches - they listen to the players and are interested in our opinion. I also like that they share the game plan with the team well before the day so that we can prepare ourselves during the week."
Devlin is delighted the re-building phase which began last season at Nash Field has paid dividends. "Last year was frustrating for all concerned. We had a lot of our experienced players missing for big parts of the season and Ronnie (Campbell) and Willie (Kelly) were forced to throw a lot of younger players in at the deep end. We started to get it right near the end of the season and won the Cup," he said. "This season we've been very lucky in being able to field a strong eleven every week with having a relatively small squad of players. Defensively we've been excellent and the lads up front have been scoring goals for fun."
Signed during the off-season from First Division Wanneroo City, Siddall feels the Knights have key players all over the park. "Mario Marcinko and David Price both had great seasons and fully deserve the recognition of being selected for Perth Glory Youth," he said. "David Annall, Stuart Ferguson and Okwy have been a very disciplined and organised defence. I really like the work ethic of Barry in centre midfield and the huge presence of Anthony Campbell upfront - I'm glad he's on my team! And the creative spark and talent of David and Daniel Micevski provides us that little extra that every team needs and have the ability to break defences down with ease."
So what's next on the agenda for the Knights star trio? Not that he wants to, but Devlin is likely to move on at the end of the season. "Unfortunately for me, I don't think I'll be with the Western Knights next year due to my visa," said the midfield tyro. "I've spoken to the club about a possible move over east to the Victorian League in January so we'll see what happens with that. I'll miss playing with the Knights; they are a great club with really great people. Hopefully, I can go out on a high and we'll win the Finals."
Diamondstar was recruited last summer from Indonesian side Persis Solo and hopes a strong showing in the top five series can lead to an opportunity at the next level. "I'm ambitious in football, and I'm hoping I'll get a call from Perth Glory or someone who can take me to a higher level. If I work hard at the Knights and perform well and help the team to a top five finals victory, I hope to show I can play A-League football," said Diamondstar, who played in attack for Floreat Athena and Stirling Lions a couple of years back.
Siddall has thoroughly enjoyed his first year at Nash Field and is looking forward to wearing Knights colours again in 2009. "My immediate plans are to, hopefully, help Western Knights to win the top five. I think we deserve it as we have been the most consistent and dominant side this season," commented the goalkeeper. "I'm looking forward to getting my Australian Citizenship early next year. But most of all, I hope I can stay injury free and keep enjoying my football, especially if it involves the Knights being successful next year."
GLORY GIRLS BENEFIT FROM MCCALLUM’S SUCCESS (courtesy girlswithgame.blogspot.com)
Collette McCallum wants to take Perth Glory Women to the pinnacle of Australian football only months after reaching the football summit in the United States of American. The 23-year old Matilda was an integral part of the Sky Blue FC line-up that claimed the inaugural Women's Professional League title in August. And having savoured that success, she has set her sights on guiding Glory Women to their inaugural W-League final's appearance.
Capped 49 times by Australia, McCallum celebrated her Glory starting return last weekend by scoring the decisive goal in the home win against Newcastle Jets. "It was good to get a win at home and certainly better than last year when it took us a long time to actually get going," she said. "It was unfortunate against Melbourne last week for us, the 2-0 loss, it just wasn't out best game. The girls looked really nervous so to actually go out on the weekend and get a win was really good."
Blue Sky themselves put aside a shaky start to sneak into the WPS play-offs where they defeated pre-game favourite Los Angeles Sol in the title decider. "I've been in other seasons where teams have lost the first eight games or so and then gone on to win it … football is a funny game," said McCallum. "I think we got a bit lucky, we had to have Boston lose the last game for us to make the four. After that we just had this feeling 'we are going to win this' and we went all the way - it was brilliant!"
It's the second time in twelve months McCallum has collected a league champions medal. "Last year I had the Pali Blues, which was the then highest league in America, and we won that which was really good, it was a great feeling to play and win it," said McCallum, whose team changed coach three times during the season. "But this is now the women's pro league, it was such an achievement to win. With all the ups and downs that we did have - my team was just crazy in all the stuff we went through - to get to the end and then actually win it was just great."
In proving her value to Blue Sky, McCallum feels her experiences in the United States have brought a more physical dimension to her game. "Physically I think I'm stronger - but technique-wise it kind of goes out the window a little bit because the American game is so different, its such a direct physical game that you have to try and cope and adapt to it," commented McCallum. "So physically that was good for me but tactically and technically I have to get back into the different game here in Australia. "
McCallum made the most of the break between the American and Australian seasons. "I took a week off and then headed to Scotland for a holiday," she explained. "While there I still just did some fitness, running and stuff, but I was a bit jetlagged when I came back to Australia. That didn't help me in the Melbourne game as my legs were still very heavy, it was pretty unbelievable actually. I think the holiday gave me a little break but I'm still quite fresh to get back into this and hopefully play well."
The inaugural W-League season was a steep learning curve for Glory and the team is looking to built on the positives. "We still have a few of the young ones [players] here and physically they aren't as strong, but they are quite smart players, very technical so that is to our advantage," said McCallum. "[Lisa] de Vanna is back, Emma Wirkus is very experienced so she's a great addition [and] eventually we are going to have Katie Gill come into the team, she will add plenty of experience up front."
McCallum admits the length of the ten-game Australia league season doesn't leave much margin for error. "It is tough because it's such a little league, but it's good and it's exciting because every game is a tough game," commented McCallum, who played twenty-three games in the United States. "You can't just expect to go through the motions and then pick up points next weekend because every game counts and every point is important to get and especially away from home."
Glory's next assignment takes them to Clipsal Stadium, home to Premier League club Inglewood United, on Saturday for the game with Canberra United. "They have a good squad, with the likes of Lydia Williams who has also been away in America, so she brings experience as well. They still have young players like Ellie [Brush], Gracie [Gill] and Ashleigh [Sykes], so I think its going to be an exciting game but I think we should definitely get a result out of it," McCallum said.
The game should be high on entertainment value with both coaches, John Gibson and Ray Junna, strong advocates of attractive, attacking football. "They've both been at the AIS and kind of have the same philosophy - playing good football and keeping the ball, not just launching it and running," McCallum commented. "They do have good players and so do we, do we have changed the system and tweaked a few things and it will be interesting to see how it plays out on the weekend."
PRO FOOTBALL TRAINING TAKES FLIGHT
A selection of the state's rising talent were given an exclusive insight into the life of a professional footballer during the school holidays under the guidance of Pro Football Training directors Barry Wood and Mark Lee. Twenty players, aged between 10 and 13, attended a week-long training camp at Christ Church Grammar School where they were immersed in all aspects of the game. "It was a pleasure to be involved with such enthusiastic kids, each of the boys challenged themselves every day which made for an extremely enjoyable learning environment," said Wood, a former Scottish youth international. "There is so much talent in the State and we hope to be able to give the kids an opportunity to get ahead on the pathway to becoming a professional player."
Each day commenced with a presentation on the day's events to provide the players an understanding of what the session aims were, and this was followed by footage of the games' greats to further motivate the players before training. After a pool recovery session and refueling courtesy of Select Fresh, players attended a training evaluation session. Players kept a camp diary and were encouraged to write down anything learned that they felt would help make them each their potential. Christ Church kindly prepared their first eleven pitch, and supplied their coach service so players could travel to afternoon sessions during the week.
A visit by former Perth Glory player Hayden Foxe, capped 15 times by Australia, provided a valuable insight into the career of someone who has played at the highest levels in England and Australia. The players were able to soak up some of Foxe's vast knowledge and experience when he participated in the defending training session. Football Tennis Australia and Urban Football Australia also held tournaments for the players as well as a Samba Session to challenge their indoor skills and use their imagination and creativity.
The camp concluded with a match at Frank Drago Reserve, home of Bayswater City, who kindly prepared the pitch and allowed the players and parents to use the club's facilities. Following the PFT Draft, the teams prepared for the game before traveling via coach to the venue where they were greeted by a television crew – just like the pros! The week's activities culminated in an outstanding match which entertained the crowd and highlighted the huge potential of each of the PFT players. Post-game, some players were interviewed before journeying back to Christ Church for a recovery session.
All players who attended the PFT camp came away with a small taste of the life of a professional football, and are under no illusions of the amount of hard work and sacrifice that lies ahead if they are to pursue a career in the world game. "All of the boys really enjoyed the experience," said former Perth Glory player Lee, winner of the 2005 Gold Medal as the State League's best player. "We gave them a valuable insight into the professional game and clearly outlined what is needed to fulfill their dream – we don't sell dreams but give players the opportunity to train in the best environment to reach their potential."
CAHILL RESCUES SOCCEROOS
Striker Tim Cahill has re-invigorated the Socceroos' hopes of qualifying for the 2011 Asian Cup by scoring the solitary goal in a 1-0 defeat of Oman at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne. Cahill scored deep in the second half to secure Australia victory in the Group B qualifier, firing the Socceroos from bottom of the group to joint first. "It was definitely very satisfying and I was disappointed not to score earlier but you have got to keep plugging away," said Cahill of his 19th goal in just 36 appearances for the Socceroos. "We had numerous chances and I am just happy I found the back of the net and we have got the three points." With three games left, Australia are level with Oman on four points, one ahead of Kuwait and three clear of Indonesia (one point).
Desperate defending and Omani goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi thwarted Harry Kewell, Josh Kennedy and Cahill from giving Australia the early lead. Oman came slowly into the game and on 23 minutes Amad Al Hossani forced Mark Schwarzer into a good save, and soon after Hassam Al Hosni fired high when faced by only the Socceroos goalkeeper. Kennedy continued to be Australia's attacking weapon and five minutes from the break he rose well to meet a Luke Wilkshire but his directed was straight at the 'keeper. And in injury time Kewell fired a flat long-range shot which just whipped past the post.
Al Habsi was in the right place at the right time three minutes into the second half when a Lucas Neill header crashed into the 'keeper's head to prevented a Socceroos goal. In the lead up to the hour Ismail Al Ajmi sailed a shot just wide, while Kennedy headed high from a cross. It was after this Oman began to sit back, allowing Australia to take control. The breakthrough came on 73 minute when Scott Chipperfield slid in a low ball, Kennedy's deflected effort ending with Cahill all alone at the far from where he found the net via the far post. Save for a penalty appeal for a challenge by Chipperfield, the Australian defence remained relatively untroubled over the closing stages.
MAGUIRE IS GOSNELLS’ NUMBER ONE
Captain Ian Maguire was installed as Gosnells City's Fairest and Best player for 2009 at their trophy presentation evening on the weekend. "The team as a whole had a really good season so to be recognised as the player of the year really means a lot," said 22-year old Maguire, a product of his club's youth system and who operated out of centre of the park this season. "It is a real honour to have won the Fairest and Best, but really the biggest honour is captaining such a great bunch of lads week in week out."
Scottish striker Stuart Aitken was voted the Players' Player of the Year, with Dave Firth presented the Coaches Award. Goalkeeper Maikol Taseski picked up the Reserve team Fairest and Best, Brendan Claxton the Players' Player of the Year with the Coaches Award bestowed on Okie Driadikarta for the second year in a row. Promising 16-year old midfielder Aaron Coslani went home with Youth team trophies as Fairest and Best along with Players' Player of the Year, while Jacob Smith received the Coaches Award.
BORO MANAGER GIVES JONES THE THUMBS UP
Gareth Southgate believes goalkeeper bad Jones has all the ingredients to become the Championship’s best goalkeeper this season. Jones’s recent performances between the posts for Middlesbrough led to him being placed on stand by for the Socceroos weekend game against the Netherlands, and Southgate says the 27-year old will only improve as he gets more game time under his belt. “He is a good goalkeeper and the fact he is on stand by for Australia even though he has not been in first team until now shows how good he is,” said Southgate. “Brad started the year as our number one and he waited for his opportunity for a long time but he knows he has to perform to keep his place which is a good position for us to be in. He has been very, very unfortunate, he was in our team at the beginning of last year and he got injured in the warm up in the second game, and got injured just before the start of this season. But he wants to play he needs to play, he has a great pride in keeping goal and he will be as good as there will be in this division.”
GLORY DISMISS BAN APPEAL
Perth Glory defender Andy Todd will be forced to miss two matches after the club chose not to appeal a ban handed out by Football Federation Australia. The 35-year old English centre-back was hit with a one-match ban after being sent off for a second yellow card infringement against Adelaide United, while the Match Review Panel imposed a concurrent two-game penalty for assaulting Scott Jamieson during Friday night's game. Vision of the incident showed Todd pushing a closed fist into the face of his Adelaide opponent just after the half-time whistle, with the exchange sparking a brief melee between the two sides.
The club's chief executive Lui Giuliani said the possibility of a longer ban being imposed, should an appeal be dismissed, weighed heavily on their decision. "We're disappointed at losing a player of Andy's quality for any length of time," Giuliani said. "The possibility, however, that he could receive additional match suspensions should an appeal be dismissed by the FFA disciplinary committee was not something Andy or the club was willing to risk. Andy is a model professional and has been outstanding for Perth since arriving in Western Australia this year." Todd will be available to play in Glory's next home game against Melbourne Victory on 1 November.
BOWYER IS ARMADALE’S BEST
Veteran defender Andrew Bowyer has celebrated his second season with Armadale by taking out the club’s Fairest and Best player award. Team captain Bowyer, 34, was a rock at the back for the Reds this season and a popular winner the club’s recent awards nights. Import striker James Robinson was voted the Players' Player of the Year. Much-travelled central defender Aaron Beattie made a clear sweep of the Reserve team awards, going home with trophies as Players' Player of the Year, Supporters Player of the Year and Coaches Player of the Year. Attacker Anthony Taylor claimed the Youth team Players' Player of the Year with the Coaches Player of the Year going to Danilo Podrascanin.
MUSEUM QUEST CONTINUES (courtesy the Football Hall of Fame Western Australia)
The push to establish a football museum in Perth is alive and well - and continues to be the main target of the Committee of the Football Hall of Fame. Chairman Louis Prospero and patron Julian Burt approached the new Minister for Sport, Terry Waldron, regarding the possibility of establishing a Football Museum at ME Bank Stadium. “It was encouraging that the Minister agreed to meet us and he was delighted to be informed that there is a body serving the history of football in WA,” said Prospero. “We gave him an overview of football in WA - and in Australia - and emphasised just how important it was to have a museum in a re-vamped stadium. He said he would take our cause to Cabinet. I believe he did, but for the moment at least it’s not one of the Government’s priorities. Our patron Julian Burt, however, has been heartened by matters and he is optimistic that there could be a successful outcome.”
Prospero later wrote to the Minister re-stating the Hall of Fame’s ambitions and received the following reply: “Thank you for your letter of 5 March 2009 in regard to the establishment of a Football Hall of Fame at ME Bank Stadium. I understand that Football West are also exploring the development of a museum as a component of their desired ‘Centre of Excellence.’ In regard to the planned improvements to Members Equity Stadium these are in the early concept stages with the Town of Vincent providing a plan to support one possible outcome. Should funding be realised for these improvements then the department will liaise with relevant stakeholders to identify and determine what can be accomplished. In the interim the department will continue to work with Football West on its plans, including the development of a museum.” Yours Sincerely, Terry Waldron MLA, Minister for Sport and Recreation.
It’s the second time that the Football Hall of Fame Committee has approached a State Government in search of support for a museum. In December 2006 the then Labor Government’s Minister for Sport, John Kobelke, met with Committee members - and offered a sympathetic ear, but didn’t follow through with any commitment. Football West is a strong supporter of the establishment of a Museum at Members Equity and also recently backed up a call by rugby union side Western Force - which will play its home games at the stadium in 2010 - to upgrade the facility. The Government recently made a commitment to upgrade ME Bank Stadium, which currently holds just over 18,000.
I'LL SACRIFICE GLORY FOR SOCCEROOS: SAGE (courtesy the ‘West Australian’)
Perth Glory owner Tony Sage is prepared to let his three prized Socceroos recruits miss the A-League finals series if it means they go to the World Cup. Sage has forked out big money on Chris Coyne, Mile Sterjovski and new club captain Jacob Burns – but the trio of stars will look overseas for loan deals if required by national coach Pim Verbeek for the game’s biggest showpiece. The A-League regular season finishes in mid-February, with the finals series to run through the rest of that month and into March, leaving players with months in which to stay fit before the start of the World Cup. Loan deals must be completed by 31 January.
The situation would not only be a blow to Glory but to the A-League as well, with many of the competition’s biggest names to look overseas in search of further game time before the World Cup. "We've been well aware of this situation for a long time. We've been talking to lots of clubs in Asia, and if it means letting the players go before the finals, then, absolutely, we'll be doing that," Sage said. "Firstly, it's about what's in the best interests of Perth Glory, secondly it's about what's in the best interests of the players, and thirdly it's about what's in the best interests of the game overall."
"Do you think if we denied these boys the opportunity, they'd be happy to keep playing with Perth Glory? I don't think so," Sage added. "These boys wouldn't have signed with us unless we were willing to accommodate them. That's the agreement we have in place, and Pim was part of those discussions. Everything I've been about since I took over this club is based on two and three-year plans. These boys will be with us for a long while. So it's short-term pain for long-term gain. The spirit and the depth we've got is good enough. (Coach) Dave Mitchell might have a different opinion, but he doesn't own the club. And you can quote me on that."
QUINN TAKES HOME PHOENIX AWARDS
Midfield maestro Pat Quinn went home with the major awards from South West Phoenix's annual presentation evening. Quinn, the club's youngest captain at 20, was rewarded for his stellar on-field performances with the Fairest and Best as well as Players' Player of the Year trophies. Runner-up Fairest and Best was presented to David Murphy, goalkeeper Ryan Montgomery collected the Coach's Award with David Rodgers the club's Leading Goal Scorer.
The Reserve team Fairest and Best was taken out by Antony Russo, who also picked up the Players' Player of the Year. Graham Millington received the Runner-up Fairest and Best trophy, Jamie Oakey the Coach's Award with Lee Stewart as Leading Goal Scorer. Bryce Young won the Youth team Fairest and Best ahead of Michael Amoah. Jayden Prosser (Players' Player of the Year), Seb Bell (Coach's Award) and Matt Spurling (Leading Goal Scorer) collected the other team awards.
WILLIAMS THRIVING AT BORO
Few would have been happy at Middlesbrough following their relegation from the English Premier League last season. While Rhys Williams wasn’t exactly thrilled at the news, it’s brought him one step closer to where he ultimately wants to be. A product of Boro’s youth system, Williams was hardly on the radar last season and was loaned to Championship side Burnley, where he made a big impression during a four-month stint. Burnley won promotion and there was talk they would put in an offer to Williams to join them in the top flight.
But four goals in as many pre-season outings by Williams led manager Gareth Southgate to retain him for the 2009/10 campaign. “'I’ve played every minute of every game and we're sitting third after eleven games, so you couldn't ask for much more,” Williams said. “'I never played in the Premiership with Middlesbrough but that stint with Burnley has really got my career going. Now I’m back and, while relegation obviously hasn’t been ideal for the club, manager or the fans, for me and a few other young lads that have made their mark, it’s been a blessing.”
Williams is a defender by trade but being switched into midfield this season by Southgate has earned the youngster rave reviews. “The boss says he likes me playing there, just getting used to being on the ball,” added Williams, who in June made his Socceroos debut against Japan. “When I do drop back to right-back, the aim is that I will become more comfortable on the ball. As a junior I used to play in right midfield and I only really changed because my height shot up, so it’s nice to have another go … now I’m living out my dream - playing for a great club, playing for Australia and hopefully next year at the World Cup.”
MITCHELL HEAPS PRAISE ON VELAPHI
David Mitchell praised Tando Velaphi's response to recent criticism and hailed his performance in the 1-0 triumph over Adelaide United at ME Bank Stadium as 'outstanding'. Velaphi pulled off numerous of fantastic saves to repel a sharpshooting Reds outfit determined to continue their recent dominance over Glory. "It was great to keep a clean sheet. Tando was outstanding tonight, some of his saves were top drawer and it reinforced just how good he is," said the Glory coach. "There has been some pressure on him from outside the club this season but we know his quality and I thought he was outstanding, it's a credit to him. He has played plenty of good games for club but this was probably the best."
UWA COME OUT TRUMPS IN UNIVERSITY CHALLENGE (by Michael Bate, Football West)
Two early goals were enough to see University of Western Australia defeat Murdoch University in the Amateurs Soccer Pools Cup Final at Litis Stadium. Richard Barry and Ross Sheppard scored in the 9th and 12th minutes respectively to give their side a lead that an out-classed Murdoch side never looked like overcoming. Played in front of a large and vocal crowd, Murdoch looked nervy from the outset, giving the ball away cheaply in midfield and failing to deal with goalkeeper Tristan Scott's long kicks. It was one from one such booming clearance that Julien Noyer's defensive header skewed to Barry who tamed the ball and rode Noyer's attempt to make amends before slotting comfortably past Andrew Barrett.
Things went from bad to worse for Murdoch three minutes later when Mark Kendall was penalised for a careless handball inside his own penalty area, and from the spot Sheppard made no mistake in side-footing into the bottom corner. It could have been three, and perhaps even four, within the next five minutes. First more awful defending allowed James Quinn to fire just wide before the same player was denied when Barrett got down quickly to deflect his close-range effort onto the outside of the post. Murdoch had their first shot on goal in the 22nd minute when Clayton Kendall's volley from the edge of the area was just wide of the mark. UWA seemed to switch off as the half progressed and Murdoch should have pulled a goal back just before half time when Matthew Wilson's long throw was flicked on by Kendall for Jamie Nugent who somehow managed to put the ball high from a few metres.
UWA could have extended their lead in the 50th minute when Marcus Lee sent a free header over the bar from Demothenes Georgiou's free-kick. Nugent had a couple of decent half chances to snatch a goal back for Murdoch as the underdogs seemed to be playing themselves back into the game. In the 69th minute Toni Ooshuizen wasted a golden opportunity to kill the game off but clipped the ball high and wide when through one-on-one with Barrett. It was a huge let-off for Murdoch, and they experienced another one just two minutes later when Quinn played in substitute Chris Harvey, whose first touch took him too wide and his weak shot was easily saved.
Scott Bedward saw a goal bound free-kick deflect off the Murdoch wall and fly just over the bar as UWA's search for a killer blow continued. At the other end of the pitch, Alphanso Beyan tried a fancy back heel from Nugent's low cross but his effort went wide before substitute Dave Drummond crashed an 18-metre volley narrowly past the post. Oliver McGee was fortunate not to score an own goal as failed to deal with Noyer's free-kick in the 85th minute. Murdoch really should have got on the board in the closing stages but Beyan ballooned the ball up in the air and Kendall's weak header from a couple of metres was cleared off the line.
University Of Western Australia: Tristan Scott, Manuel Arapis, Alan O'Mahony, Demothenes Georgiou (Matt Hill 90), Scott Bedward, Ross Sheppard (Chris Harvey 70), James Quinn, Richard Barry, Marcus Lee, Oliver McGee, Toni Ooshuizen (Gareth Briggs 84)
Murdoch University: Andrew Barrett, Julien Noyer, Matthew Wilson (John Brennan 62), Sasa Slavusevic (Sasha Gojic 77), Vedran Kitic, Alphanso Beyan, Jamie Nugent, Clayton Kendall, Shae Watmore (Dave Drummond 77) Mark Kendall, Stuart Stevens
Bookings: Stuart Stevens (14), Mark Kendall (77)
MEDAL JUST OUT OF REACH FOR UNDER-14’S
Western Australia's football future looks bright after the State Under-14's claimed fifth for the second successive time at the National Youth Championship in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales. It was a tremendous effort from the local youngsters who were in contention for an appearance in the medal rounds leading into the final day of group fixtures. The Nationals bring together the pick of the nations emerging footballing talent with the aim of identifying potential future national team players.
Capital Football claimed day one honours 5-3 against Western Australia, whose goals came from Slobodan Vulin (2) and Kieran Colwell. The side bounced back the following morning with Vulin scoring 28 minutes into the game with Queensland Metropolitan before Colwell secured a 2-0 victory midway through the second half. Western Australia made a dream start on day three, Vulin netting after 10 minutes against New South Wales Metropolitan, whose response was to hit five unanswered goals.
Goals by Matthew Davies, Nick Ambrogio, Colwell (2) and Cameron Burgess moved the boys from the west into joint third following Wednesay's 5-1 thrashing of New South Wales. A 6-1 mauling of the Northern Territory came courtesy of finishes by Colwell (2), Davies (2), Vulin and an own goal. The result put Western Australia level on points with Queensland Metropolitan and Capital Football with the latter progressing to the semi-finals on goal difference along with group winner New South Wales Metropolitan.
A come-from-behind 3-1 win over Northern New South Wales ensured Western Australia's campaign ended on a high and in fifth place. The Under-14's made the worst possible start, conceding inside a minute, and it wasn't until the second half that they made amends through an excellent solo effort by Vulin and subsequent goals from Nick Ambrogio and Davies. Victoria Metropolitan won the final 2-0 against New South Wales Metropolitan, with Capital Football claiming bronze after downing South Australia 2-1.
The West Australian Under-14 squad which took part in the 2009 National Youth Championship was Nick Ambrogio, George Athanasiou, Tom Beading, Borbor Sam Bindi, Daniel Buhajiar, Cameron Burgess, Liam Chapman, Kieran Colwell, Matthew Davies, Joshua Do, Jordan Franken, Scott Galloway, Ogi Lalovic, Luke Radonich, Callum Richardson and Slobodan Vulin. They coached by Barry Wood with Kenny Weston as team manager.
UNDER-15’S PLACE NINTH AT NATIONALS
The State Under-15's gave a good account of themselves at the recently completed National Youth Championship in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales. The squad competed strongly throughout the week-long event in which they placed ninth, however, had luck been a little kinder they could just as easily taken part in the medal rounds. Over 350 emerging teenage talents drawn from across the country strutted their stuff in front of national team selectors at the week-long tournament.
Sahr Musa found the net on day one but it wasn't enough to prevent the Under-15's going down 2-1 to Capital Football. That result was reversed the next day when, in a blistering nineteen minute spell, Musa netted twice and Riley Woodcock once to see off Queensland Metropolitan 3-1. Despite going down 1-0 to Victoria Metropolitan on the third day of competition, Western Australia remained a mathematical chance of making the play-offs, but to do so would require back-to-back wins.
Things were looking up when they accounted for New South Wales 2-1 on Wednesday, goals from Eric Deas and Musa doing the damage, as the west moved to joint third alongside Capital Football. A pulsating final day contest ended with South Australia running out 2-1 winners, A.Petrovski bringing the west level just before the break only for an unfortunate own goal midway through the second period to determine the outcome.
The Under-15's finished ninth by defeating Tasmania in the minor place play-offs. A 9th minute goal from Joseph Moseray gave them the perfect start with Mitchell Oxborrow sealing a deserved victory on 57 minutes. New South Wales Metropolitan claimed the gold medal with a trio of second half goals which sank their Northern counterparts 3-0 in the final. Victoria Metropolitan defeated South Australia 3-0 to take third place.
The West Australian Under-15 squad which line-up at the the 2009 National Youth Championship featured Michael Craggs, Savo Cubrilo, Eric Deas, Jordan Dodd, Daniel Dols, Byron Hudson, Aleksander Jovic, Tom King, Jesse Makarounas, Sahr Musa, Harry O'Brien, Brandon O'Neill, Mitchell Oxborrow, Shane Pickering, Joe Page and Riley Woodcock. Andy Ord was coach of the team with Paul Turvill manager.
DANSKIN BRILLIANCE SENDS PERTH THROUGH
A stunning extra-time strike from Matt Danskin secured Perth SC a 2-1 win against Floreat Athena in today’s Qualifying Final at Dorrien Gardens. Perth took an initial the lead on a fast-paced game via Phil Arnold, however, it lasted all of ten minutes before Branimir Mikulic headed in the equaliser. With neither team able to conjure up a winner, the game wouldn’t be settled until the 104th minute through Danskin’s long-range bomb. “Matty’s goal was worthy of winning any game,” said Perth boss Graham Normanton. “We worked on three different systems that covered everything Floreat were going to throw at us and we needed each structure to win the game. It’s hard to say we deserved to win because I thought Floreat outplayed us in the first half, but my back four were tremendous and limited Floreat’s opportunities. The effort and energy expended by my players, I couldn’t have asked any more of any of them.”
A bright start by Floreat looked to have reaped an 8th minute lead with Daniel Neiderberger firing into the net, however, celebrations were quickly ended by an offside flag. Neiderberger was involved again soon after, the attacker taking advantage of a slip by Craig Simpson to set-up Brad Scott whose attempt was comfortably saved by Luke Martino. Phil Arnold was making his presence felt at the other end of the park where he was brilliantly denied by goalkeeper Alex Dunn in a one-on-one situation. This was to be Perth's only clear opportunity of a flat first half from the home side. Floreat, by comparison, were full of confidence and were unfortunate not to go ahead on 32 minutes when Mikulic finished past Martino but again it was disallowed for offside. Jason Barrera managed to get a shot off in a goalmouth scramble six minutes later, the ball ricocheting to Neiderberger who stabbed it narrowly wide.
The second half had been in motion only minutes when a long-range attempt by Neiderberger skimmed the crossbar as a clear sign Floreat meant business. But a double substitution at the break by Graham Normanton which saw Gary Greenhill and Andrew Bourakis enter the action had the desired effect on Perth and on 58 minutes they hit the front. A clumsy handball by James Isaia gifted Perth a free-kick which Bourakis swung into the 6-yard box where Arnold guided his header past Dunn and into the back of the net. Adam Bachiller thrilled the crowd nine minutes later with a speculative attempt that drifted towards the top corner before being tipped over by Martino. Parity was restored from the resulting Bachiller corner, Mikulic rising above the defence to nod across the 'keeper and inside the far post. The pace didn't let-up during the closing stages and Neiderberger could have settled the game in regulation time but his chip over Martino cleared the bar by the narrowest of margins.
Extra-time opened with Floreat determined to get the all-important next goal and Perth forced into defensive duties. A strong run down the left by Bachiller saw him flash a shot the wrong side of the top corner, then John Migas squared to Neiderberger but he miscued the shot. Neiderberger was denied by a fine one-handed save from Martino, before a miraculous run from Johnny Mirco had his deflected effort hit the outside of the post. There was no such wastefulness at the other end where, with 104 minutes played, Danskin cut in from the right to hit a rasping drive from 25-metres that gave Dunn no chance as it crashed into the top corner. Floreat piled on the pressure throughout the second period of extra-time in a desperate attempt to send the game to penalties. But Perth weren't about to throw anything away and after two pulsating hour of football referee Steven Gregory signalled their passage into next week's Major Semi-Final with Western Knights.
LORETO KEEPS MANDURAH ALIVE (with Tim Lefort, Football West)
A goal four minutes from half-time by Jake Loreto was enough for Mandurah City to edge out Stirling Lions 1-0 in a keenly-contested Elimination Final at Dorrien Gardens. It was a well deserved win by Stuart Young's side who finished the regular season in fourth place, one spot above their rivals. "They dominated the early stages without necessarily causing us too many problems (but) after we settled in I really thought we took over midfield," said Young, who was well aware the single-goal lead was a precarious one. "I was always concerned and I actually said to my assistant Sean Kearns 'this has the potential to be one of those days where you're in the ascendancy, already one-up and you don't put the game to bed'. But we looked very organised at the back and I think we've looked organised at the back for a few weeks now."
The wet conditions didn't make for a great spectacle early on, although Matt Italiano forced goalkeeper Phil Straker into a fingertip save after just 3 minutes with a stinging drive. It was midway through the first period before either side threatened again, Anthony Fearon's ambitious long-range strike proving much easier for Straker to handle. Stirling were unlucky not to go in front soon after via a Matt Allen thunderbolt that took a deflection and looked destined for the net before Straker's brilliant intervention, Jordan Rhodes got to the rebound first but his volley crashed back off the crossbar. Not to be outdone, Kevin Miller reacted instinctively to keep out Steven Payne's close-range volley after Craig Young had created the chance with a wonderful cross from the left.
Mandurah were now getting into rhythm and an unmarked Loreto headed wide when he might have done better, then captain Andy Brown was off-target from distance. Down the other end Italiano fired a low free-kick wide as if to remind everyone there were two teams out on the park. Mandurah got the goal they had been threatening on 41 minutes when Brown delivered a superb cross from the left for Loreto, Miller somehow kept out his initial header but was unable to prevent the nippy striker netting the rebound. Jordan Rhodes should have done better than send a free header high as Stirling sought a quick reply. Miller prevented the margin from being increased on the stroke of half time by smothering at the feet of Brown after he spilled Craig Young's shot from distance which bounced awkwardly in front of the 'keeper.
Loreto wasted a chance to put away his second by heading high of the bar four minutes into the second half. Stirling defender Michael Pugliese was next to threaten with a long-range lob that took Straker by surprise, the 'keeper getting back just in time to tip the ball over. On 56 minutes Brown showed his class as he ghosted out of the penalty area to receive the ball from a corner then unleash a rasping low drive that went just wide of the upright. Mandurah were dominating proceedings at this point with their on-ball strength limiting their opponents to shots from distance. Midfield dynamo Nicky Platt had a chance to put the game to bed on 69 minutes but his effort went well over the crossbar.
This seemed to give Stirling renewed hope and, with Mandurah legs tiring, they mounted a late concerted effort to keep their season alive. The pressure on Mandurah was mounting and Rhodes would have sent the game into extra-time had he been able to keep his shot from 10-metres down. Rhodes was involved again soon after when his cross was only partially cleared by the defence and feel invitingly for Marc Anthony who, 35-metres out, rocketed the ball goalward only to have Straker turn his shot around the post. Despite an agonising and unexpectedly long period of stoppage time for the Mandurah faithful their team managed to hold on and take the win for a match-up with Floreat Athena next weekend.
MATILDAS STAR IN GLORY WIN
Perth Glory Women opened their season account by seeing off Newcastle Jets 1-0 at ME Bank Stadium. An early goal credited to Collette McCallum was all the separated the sides on an afternoon when Glory’s three Matildas - McCallum, Lisa De Vanna and Emma Wirkus - were vital in their teams success. “We wanted to come home and put on a fairly good performance, which we did today,” said coach John Gisbon, who singled out Wirkus for special praise. “We needed a really good goalkeeper (this season) and she’s a wonderful character. She’s been a fantastic addition to the squad and had a very strong performance for us today.”
Glory opened brightly with going close in quick succession after being teed-up by Lisa De Vanna. Their persistence paid off in the 10th minute when McCallum swung the ball to the top of the 6-yard box where it ricocheted into the net off De Vanna’s back, referee Lee Corey awarding the goal to the midfielder. Newcastle almost had an instant reply with Leia Smith and Kate Hensman working well inside the area but failing to find the target after a goalmouth scramble. Danielle Calautti couldn’t cleanly hit her shot after great lead-up play from De Vanna on the half hour, while down the other end Caitlin Jarvie was denied an equaliser by ‘keeper Emma Wirkus.
Newcastle continued in much the same vein after the break, hitting the post early on with Sadie Lawrence clearing the loose ball. Leia Smith should have done better than slice wide from the edge of the 18-yard box as the visitors frustration grew. Kate Hensman tried to inspire Newcastle with a fantastic shot to which Wirkus produced a superb save. As the match drew to a close McCallum found the side netting from a set-piece. Referee Lee Corey brought the match to a close following a nervous three minutes of injury-time for the Glory, but the team’s first win of the season was a great was to cast off last weekend’s loss to Melbourne Victory.
SOCCEROOS BREAK EVEN WITH DUTCH
Australia have held European powerhouse the Netherlands to a 0-0 draw in a hard-fought international friendly played in front of 40,537 fans at the Sydney Football Stadium. While the Dutch, ranked third in the world, created the best of the chances they were unable to breach the resolute Australian defence. The result extends Australia's unbeaten record against the Dutch to three matches having now managed a win and two draws against coach Pim Verbeek's countrymen.
Persistent rain made conditions tough for both sides but the Dutch looked right at home from the opening whistle. Klass Jan Huntelaar was presented with a couple of golden opportunities early on, Wesley Sneijder forcing a good save from Mark Schwarzer before Khalid Boulahrouz hit the side netting. Brett Holman got off Australia's first shot in the 24th minute, forcing a regulation save from Maarten Stekelenburg. The Dutch answered almost immediately with Demy de Zeeuw again bringing Schwarzer into the action.
Australia made three changes for the second half but it had little effect with the Oranje continuing to hold the upper hand. Eljero Elia was twice on-target but Schwarzer was again up to the task while Huntelaar's header was prevented from going in by Luke Wilkshire. The Dutch continued to pepper their opponents but the Socceroos very nearly stole an historic victory two minutes from full-time when Brett Holman found space in behind the defence only to push his right-foot strike just wide.
GLORY RISING IN PERTH (courtesy Perth Glory)
Perth Glory has jumped to outright second on the A-League and extended their unbeaten run to five matches after a pulsating 1-0 victory against rivals Adelaide United last night at ME Bank Stadium. Young goalkeeper Tando Velaphi was the hero for Glory as he repelled a sharpshooting Reds outfit while at the other end it was enterprising Dutchman Victor Sikora who scored the winner ten minutes from full-time. “We had a couple of chances earlier on and we could have been a couple of goals up. It was important to keep things coming our way so we made some changes and built momentum and it was a fantastic goal that we scored,” coach David Mitchell said. “I’m just pleased for the players, we deserved it, we worked ever so hard and I think they showed a lot of character tonight which got us through.”
The match was passionate affair from the opening whistle with no one taking a backward step in a bid to secure the three points. Adriano Pellegrino, playing in midfield for suspended captain Jacob Burns, created two chances for Branko Jelic inside the first dozen minutes, however, the Serbian striker was unable to take advantage of either opportunity. After a bright start Glory were reigned in by a congested Adelaide midfield, although Pellegrino did find space to pull the trigger himself but was just wide of the goal. Adelaide enjoyed their best spell of the game as the first half wore on although it wasn’t until the half-time whistle loomed that they managed to trouble Velaphi, who was equal to a Kristian Sarkies free-kick from distance then from the resulting corner palmed away a header by Mark Rudan.
Velaphi’s heroics between the posts continued after the restart with two stunning saves, denying Lloyd Owusu and Sarkies in quick succession. Glory soon showed that they too had the ability to create with Pellegrino dragging a low shot narrowly wide while visiting custodian Eugene Galekovic foiled Chris Coyne’s effort from a corner. The game was decided by arguably the best move of the night, Sikora winning possession to release newly introduced substitute Eugene Dadi, he cleverly drew two defenders before pulling back to the top of the 18-yard box where Sikora sweep a low drive into the net. Dadi almost had one of his own a short time later but just failing to slide home a Todd Howarth cross, while substitute Andrija Jukic also went close with drive from 20-metres. Glory ended the night with ten men after Todd earned his second yellow card for a foul on Travis Dodd.
GLORY YOUTH EXTEND UNBEATEN RUN
An undermanned Perth Glory Youth side fought out a 1-1 draw against Adelaide United yesterday at ME Bank Stadium. Howard Fondyke brought the teams level in the second half after the visitors had gone ahead just before the breakthrough Francesco Monterosso. “I’ve got to step up and make a name for myself,” said 19-year old Fondyke, a contracted first team player. “I’m happy to be doing what I’m doing and hopefully I can press for a spot in the first team very soon. I enjoyed the goal, I haven’t scored in a while so it was good to get that one, hopefully I’ll get a few more during the season.”
The result stretches Glory’s unbeaten run to three games and moves them to third on the table, a fantastic performance from a young side which entered the afternoon with eight players unavailable. “We are buzzing after that, they had a strong side out there and we had a few young boys that stepped up to the plate and did a good job for us,” added Fondyke. “Everyone is pretty excited now that we’re climbing up the table. We didn’t have a good start to the season but we’re staring to get things going and hopefully we’ll go on and win a lot more games.”
Adelaide were unlucky not to take a 37th minute lead when home custodian Tim Doyle tipped over the crossbar a Dane Milovanovic header. The visitors hit the front with the very next play, Tim Wooding sending in a corner for an unmarked Monterosso, whose downward header crossed the line despite a desperate attempted to clear by Steve Hesketh. Glory looked more confident after the break and in the 57th minute Fondyke restored parity after being set-up by Ludovic Boi. The home side almost grabbed a late winner but substitute Adam Taggart’s shot was blocked by a defender when the better option would have been to slip the ball across to an unmarked Boi.
FINALS FEVER CATCHES ON!
Mandurah City v Stirling Lions (Referee: Michael Tolme)
The Flexible Signage Solutions Finals Series kicks into life on Saturday afternoon with a blockbuster double-header at Dorrien Gardens. The action starts at 2.00pm when Mandurah City and Stirling Lions square off in a winner-take-all encounter. It'd be an opportunity for Phil O'Callaghan to catch up with old friends, the striker having begun the year a Mandurah player and ended it wearing Stirling colours. "I'm really looking forward to the game this weekend and catching up with my old team mates. It should be a close game as both teams are on a good run at the moment but I'm confident we can get a win," explained dual Golden Boot winner O'Callaghan.
Mandurah looked a safe final bet midway through the season, however, they ended up doing things the hard way and only secured a play-off berth on the final day of regular season. "It's like another Cup Final, as have the last five games been for us," said Scottish midfielder Craig Young. "Stirling has made a few changes since the transfer window and have been a different team. With Phil now scoring again it will be a test for our defence, but one I think the boys will be happy to have seeing we're looking a lot stronger in defence now ... Youngie (coach Stuart Young) have given a chance to some of the younger boys, it's always good to have competition for places at this time of the season with big games ahead."
Floreat Athena v Perth (Referee: Steven Gregory)
Sparks are guaranteed to fly when inner-city neighbours Perth SC and Floreat Athena go head-to-head in the twilight fixture, which starts at 5.00pm. "The Perth-Floreat rivalry is great, and there have been some great battles in the past and this Saturday should be no different," said Perth striker David Onoforo. "In my opinion, season and recent form counts for nothing in a finals format - on the day of each game whichever team is up for it and committed will prosper. The players that take the field on Saturday will know it's a final and nothing less than 100% will be accepted."
Little has separated the teams this year - Floreat winning 3-2 in Round eight with the return match ending 2-2 - and Miki Vujacic is expecting another similarly close game. "Games between the clubs are always tough and entertaining, we both try to play a good brand of football and I think there is a mutual respect," said the Floreat midfielder. "Hopefully we can play with the same intensity and control as we have the last few weeks ... last week's Cup Final victory has really got us buzzing and we're confident that we can go all the way and achieve what would be an amazing double for us."
MICEVSKI IS YOUR PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Midfield playmaker David Micevski is the footballwa.net 2009 Premier League Player of the Year, which is voted for by the players, coaches and supporters of the local game. The 23-year old captain of Western Knights broke away early in our annual award and only increased his lead during the four-week voting period. In the end Micevski finished well clear of Armadale import James Robinson in second place with long-serving custodian of Inglewood United Oliver Taseski taking third.
David Annall, vice-captain of the Knights, said Micevski's contributions were instrumental in their successive Premier League campaign. Dave's skill level is awesome. I think it's safe to say he would probably have the best ball control in the league and would be one of the most dangerous players from a dead ball situation in front of goals. I'm glad he's been on the Knights side that's for sure, Annall commented. He's been instrumental in the best periods of our games and some of the goals he's scored have been world class. Without him this year, I'm sure some results would have definitely gone the other way.
Micevski led voting in the footballwa.net 2009 Premier League Player of the Year from day one and ended on top of the pile with 84 votes, more than twice that of his nearest rivals. Robinson, who commenced his second spell with Armadale eight weeks into the season, came in runner-up on 41 votes. Not too far behind with 35 votes was goalkeeper Taseski, followed closely by Canning City captain Paul Van Dongen on 34 votes.
A distant fifth on 24 votes was Greg Sharland (Perth SC) who had had team mate Phil Arnold, Phil O'Callaghan (Mandurah City/Stirling Lions) and John Migas (Floreat Athena) in hot pursuit on 22 votes. That was one more than Knights 'keeper Frazer Siddall, livewire attacker Tommy Amphlett (ECU Joondalup) and defender Ryan Townsend (Mandurah). Anthony Campbell (Knights) and David Onoforo (Perth) rounded out the leader board on 19 votes.
Micevski becomes the ninth recipient of the footballwa.net Premier League Player of the Year. Previous recipients of our Premier League Player of the Year are Andy Brown (2008), Boima Karpeh (2007), Simon Harland (2006), Antonio Naglieri (2005), Nick Ward (2004), Shane Crampton (2003), Jamie Coyne (2002) and Branimir Mikulic (2001). The footballwa.net team would like to thank everyone who voted in year's award.
ROSINDALE IS TOP THE POPS
Balcatta marksman Ashley Rosindale has been voted the footballwa.net 2009 First Division Player of the Year. Not a lot separated the leaders going into the final week of counting when Rosindale broke clear from the rest of the field to claim the award. A superb run in to the end of the season, during which Rosindale piled on 16 goals in Balcatta's final ten games, ultimately tipped the scales in his favour. South West Phoenix captain Patrick Quinn came in runner-up with team mate David Rodgers occupying third spot.
Salv Todaro, coach of Balcatta, has nothing but praise for his championship winning striker. Ashley was an integral part of the team - his positional sense puts him in a different class, his finishing was clinical and his work rate was phenomenal, said Todaro. Ashley's a hard worker and understands his role in the team. He is very composed in front of goal, and he is able to conjure up opportunities with his subtle skills. He has the knack that all great goal scorers have, he knows where to be to score goals, and above all else his is a great team player.
Rosindale ended the four-week polling period with 48 votes to take out the footballwa.net 2009 First Division Player of the Year. Quinn's talent for creating as well as scoring goals earned him 35 votes, Phoenix team mate Rodgers tallied 28 votes to end four clear of Andy O'Neill (Balcatta). Rory Binnie (Phoenix) and Columbian import Cesar Gonzalez (Bayswater City) each polled 21 votes, two more than striker Brian Cairney (Wanneroo City). Martin Sherwin (Morley Windmils) picked up 16 votes to round out the leader board alongside Balcatta pair Bobby Klenkoski and Chris Ramsey.
Rosindale is the seventh recipient of the footballwa.net First Division Player of the Year. The previous winners of our annual award are Paul Harvey (2008), Andy Brown (2007), David Rodgers (2006), Adam Raines (2005), then Wanneroo City and now Perth Glory midfielder Scott Bulloch (2004) and Boima Karpeh (2003). The footballwa.net team would like to thank everyone who took the time to cast a vote in this year's award.
HOME POINTS CRUCIAL FOR GLORY GIRLS
Perth Glory Women go looking for their first win of the season when they welcome Newcastle Jets to ME Bank Stadium in a blockbuster match on Saturday in front of a national TV audience. The match is also a fundraiser for the National Breast Cancer Foundation with both teams wearing pink armbands during the match and proceeds of ticket sales and merchandise going to the fight against cancer. "It's a nice moment this weekend with the Breast Cancer theme and it's great that we are getting behind the foundation" said home coach John Gibson. "Hopefully it will be an additional spur to the girls, some of whom have been touched by this issue in the past."
After an opening round loss away at Melbourne Victory, the Glory girls will regain home ground advantage and with only nine games to play in the short season, maximum home points will be crucial to the finals aspirations of the team. "It is a very, very short season, we require a victory this weekend and we will be going out there to win the game" said Gibson. "Home ground advantage is crucial and we will be looking for maximum points from all five home games. It is a great venue at ME Bank Stadium and it's our first home game so we need to come up with the points this weekend."
Gibson is keeping his options open after the departure of Sam Kerr for national team duty. "We will go in with a slightly different approach but the basic organisation will stay pretty much the same. The fans might see us be a little bit more adventurous this weekend," said the coach. "There might be a little bit of a change to the shape of the team in regards to personnel changes, but we will see how we go in the last training session prior to the game, before deciding on the best way to beat the Jets." Tickets to the game, which kicks off at 12.00noon, are available on the gate at $5.00 for adults and $2.00 concession. A delayed telecast will commence on ABC TV from 3.00pm.
COYNE MOVES ON FROM INJURY
Jamie Coyne does not have fond memories of his most recent A-League meeting with Adelaide United. The 28-year old defender injured a knee during the first half of Perth Glory's season opener at Hindmarsh Stadium and was forced to watch as his team went down 1-0 to Adelaide. Coyne, who captained Glory last season, will be hoping history does not repeat itself when Perth tries to square the ledger against the Reds at ME Bank Stadium tonight. "You do pre-season for three or four months and to get injured twenty minutes into the start of the season in the first game is pretty disappointing and very frustrating, to be honest," Coyne told Dale Miller of the 'West Australian' newspaper. "I'm glad to have put the injury behind me."
Coyne's return in round six against Gold Coast United has coincided with an unbeaten run by Glory, with two wins and two draws in their past four matches. Despite the run, Glory have come in for criticism over lacklustre efforts in recent weeks against Newcastle Jets and North Queensland Fury. "Probably the last two games we haven't done enough going forward," Coyne said. "That's somewhere we've got to improve a bit on, but we know that we're more than capable of doing it. We do set up a bit defensively and try to pass our way around teams and obviously a lot of teams have tried to stop us playing like that in the last couple of weeks, so the coaches will be looking at that to try and change things around for the game against Adelaide."
French striker Eugene Dadi was recalled to the starting eleven against North Queensland at the expense of Serbian recruit Branko Jelic, but the swap could be reconsidered by coach David Mitchell. Dadi, who registered ten goals last season, has failed to score in his only two appearances for Glory while Jelic has four goals after nine rounds. Mitchell also has the option of shifting Coyne from defence into midfield to replace suspended captain Jacob Burns. Coyne confirmed that Mitchell had spoken to him about the potential switch and said he was happy resuming a role he filled for much of the 2008/09 season. Glory takes on seventh-placed Adelaide, who have won their last four games, tonight from 7.00pm at ME Bank Stadium.
GARCIA SET FOR HULL RETURN
Socceroo Richard Garcia has been working quietly on his comeback. The attacking midfielder has been sidelined since damaging knee ligaments during pre-season training, but feels he is only a couple of weeks away from a return to training. "I'm not far off training, probably a couple of weeks," 28-year old Garcia told the club's website. "After that, it's just a case of getting fit and getting my sharpness back. We'll take things from there. It's been a very, very frustrating time for me. It's not nice sitting on the sidelines, especially when you see everybody else outside on the training pitch. I just want to come back and be able to add something to the team. Hopefully that will happen."
It hasn't been the best start to what is an important season for Garcia. As well as trying to help the Tigers climb the Premier League table, he is also hoping to nail down a place in the Australia squad for next year's World Cup in South Africa and add to his current tally of five international caps. "The World Cup is massive for Australia and it is the second successive one we have qualified for. That is a positive step for football in Australia and the people over there are really excited about it," he said. "As for me, I have to concentrate on getting back into the Hull City team and trying to play some good games. If I do that, hopefully I will be selected for the (Australian) squad and that would be a dream come true for me."
FUN THE AIM OF THE GAME WITH JUNGLE SOCCER
Jungle Soccer is the number one sports development program for children in Perth. The program, part of the suite offered by Jungle Sports, provides children aged 3 to 7 the unique opportunity to learn the basics of football with their parents. "Jungle Sports has simple principles of 'if the children are having fun, they are more open to learning'," explained Andrew Barrett, general manager of Jungle Sport. "And with parents being in the sessions also, it provides families with an hour of structured fun, learning new skills and valuable time spent with their children."
The Jungle Soccer program has grown immensely since being piloted in late 2003 with twenty children. "We now have over 600 children doing Jungle Sports in WA plus another 200 children in New South Wales," said Barrett. "We've always held the principles of delivering quality, structured, fun and professional sessions for children and their parents. And the fact Jungle Sports continues to grow is a testament to the quality of what we do and our members passing on positive word of mouth."
Barrett attributes a big part of Jungle Soccer's success to a knowledgeable, dedicated team of coaches, better known as Gamekeepers. "They provide the enthusiasm, humour and encouragement that young children need," he said. "Most of our coaches are playing locally here in Perth and have been recommended to me. Coaches such as Steve Hesketh, Simon Wilson, Anthony McStea and Hayden Doyle have a fantastic spark about them which children thrive on and the coaches really enjoy their time doing the sessions."
There are a lot of junior programs currently on offer in Perth and Barrett feels the quality and overall structure of Jungle Soccer is what makes them the leader in the field. "We offer a quality and structure that has children engaged for the whole of the 50 minute session," commented Barrett. "With the program held indoors there are not many distractions for the children and with the parents being involved too, the children are guided through and can work at their own level."
Participating in the Jungle Soccer program positions players well for when they progress to junior football. "We've introduced small sided games to our 5-7 year old Evolution Soccer which has seen the children gain a better understanding of team and game concepts," added Barrett. "It's very noticeable to see the improved technique and ball control of Jungle Superstars over children who have gone straight into club training. If they get the basics at this young age it stands them in good stead for when they start to play competitively in later years."
The new Jungle Sports terms, consisting of nine weekend sessions of 50 minutes each, kicks off next weekend at six metropolitan venues - Subiaco, Joondalup, Melville, Mt Lawley, Rockingham and Guildford. In addition to Jungle Soccer, you can chose from Multi-Sports, Rugby or 6 to 8-year olds ZONE Soccer along with the new mid-week Jungle Cubs program, which is tailored to children aged between 18-months and 3 years of age. For more information visit www.junglesports.com.au or call 9471 8444.
FLOREAT'S CUP SUCCESS A LONG TIME COMING
The shrill of the final whistle at Dorrien Gardens on Sunday afternoon was like music to the ears of Floreat Athena coach Michael Roki, who was relieved the club had finally got the 'bridesmaid' tag off their back. "We were ecstatic that the boys could enjoy the spoils at last for all their hard work," said Roki, who guided Floreat to a number Finals in recent years without taking out the trophy. "All the players and a large group of club folk gathered back at Litis Stadium for celebration of the achievement. I think most of the team then headed out afterwards into town to savour the occasion."
Roki's pre-match address was simple and straight to the point. "The message was "losing is not an option" this time around," said Roki, who was thrilled with how his players responded throughout the first 45 minute period. "I really couldn't have asked for more in terms of execution of our match plan which had been set, and was then altered after last Tuesdays training session. I thought our players desire to compete and their team spirit was prominent on the day and played a big part in gaining ascendency in the game."
Floreat's dominance of the opening exchanges was rewarded on the quarter hour when Branimir Mikulic's precision header found the net from a John Migas cross. "Early goals are worth gold in finals and getting that lead obviously would have deflated Inglewood somewhat," commented Roki, who feels the dismissal of Michael Baczynski just before half-time didn't have that big a bearing on the game. "Michael didn't get a lot of the ball in the first half and I thought we had a far better share of the game to the point where we should have been a couple of goals up."
Roki was not at all surprised when Inglewood came out for the second half revved up and determined to equalise. "In a final, a side down to ten players and a goal behind has nothing to lose by going at the opponent," he said. "We were expecting the Wood players to dig deep after the break knowing that anything less would probably not produce a result for them. I would certainly give them credit for their application to the task and they definitely had us in defensive mode for a good period before we got the breakthrough."
Daniel Neiderberger doubled Floreat's lead midway through the half before Mikulic iced the cake in the 85th minute by putting away their third. But even with his team three-nil up and only minutes left on the clock, Roki was reluctant to call the game. "Two years ago we were 5-1 up against Western Knights with 20 minutes on the clock. We missed a penalty and were then fortunate to finish the game drawn at 5-5," he said. "Since that time I've been reluctant to call the result until the final whistle - the game is full of strange endings!"
Floreat had performers all over the park on Cup Final day, none more so that man-of-the-match Migas. "He put in a real captains performance, working box to box and setting up the first goal. Losing was definitely not an option for him on the day," said Roki before praising the efforts of several other players. "Dean Apelgren very tidy at the back and both Mikulic and Neiderberger are always dangerous around the goal. Jason Barrera worked tirelessly all day and Miro Akeksic also had a strong game ... it was a very focused team effort."
With the Cup safely in Floreat's possession, attentions now turn to this Saturday's finals series game with Perth SC at Dorrien Gardens. Roki says the entire squad have been focused in training this week and are ready for the challenge of winning the Flexible Signage Solutions Finals Series. "The time for celebrations has stopped - we took time on Tuesday to 'ground' ourselves and contemplate the next objective," explained the coach. "We are already expecting an extremely tough match up with Perth at their home ground and we will need to concentrate hard again this week to get a positive result."
ROCKINGHAM LEARN LESSONS THE HARD WAY (by Adam Stewart)
Another season of heartache has come to an end for First Division outfit Rockingham City. The year started out with so much promise - victory in the First Division Night Series final gave the club their first major trophy in over thirty years - quickly unravelled with Rockingham picking up just four wins in 22-games to place tenth in the twelve-team competition. A lot happened along the way and now it's up to the club and its' head coach, Paul O'Brien, to learn from those experiences as they head into the third year of a five-year plan.
2009 began positively with Rockingham sweeping through the opening rounds of the First Division Night Series without loss before defeating Bayswater City then Wanneroo City to lift the trophy. That party lasted only seven days before they were brought crashing back down to earth by a ten-goal Cup thrashing from Western Knights. Rockingham bounced back with back-to-back league wins before enduring an eight-game losing streak brought on by a leaky defence, season-ending injuries to key players such as Michael Vaz and Matt Leckenby, and Jon McCreery's return to Ireland.
Brian Hallums, Rockingham's Saturday co-ordinator, attributes injury as the main reason for the club's failure to achieve this year. "After winning the Night Series we were expecting to perform better than we have," he said, reflecting on the season that was. "Some reasons why we haven't can be summed up by the massive amount of injuries we've picked up. I haven't known a season where any club I've been involved with has had so many injuries. We also have a very young squad, inexperience also brings with it inconsistency."
With their season in dire need of rescue Rockingham turned to former Perth Glory player Scott Halpin, who was offered no money nor asked for any. His impact was immediate, the veteran striker scoring four goals in five appearances - including a hat-trick away at Queens Park - before his cameo role was brought to an end by an unfortunate foot injury. But by that stage Rockingham had put some distance between themselves and the relegation zone, where Queens Park and Ashfield languished.
Round Nineteen saw Rockingham produce their best game of the season when, in trying conditions, they defeated Dianella White Eagles 6-2. Darren Lawler scored twice with Marko Aleksic, Tom Downes, Adam McLeod and Danny Dyson getting one each in what truly was a great performance from a young side under pressure. That result effectively saved their season by ensuring Rockingham would remain in the First Division for another year.
Rockingham looked a much better side over the closing weeks of the winter, with signs the young squad were finally beginning to believe in themselves. So what is the future of the club? Rockingham need to ensure they hold onto their young players, and enlist the services of recruiting staff who can hunt down any de-listed or senior players from other clubs and entice them south. Attracting experience and talent to the club will be a challenge, as many other clubs will also be looking to improve their squads over the off-season.
But improvement is not far away Rockingham according to Hallums. "We have already set plans in motion for next season. The coaching staff has all been re-appointed and have identified areas for improvement and the club is backing them 100%," he said. "The club are excited about the formation of the new Academy. This is obviously a long term goal for any ambitious club, but we are thrilled with Scott Halpin's enthusiasm for the project. This high level and intense coaching should increase the already high skills of youth players coming through Rockingham City, and hopefully encourage more players to enrol for trials."
Halpin was appointed the club's new Junior Director of Football in August, a role in which he'll nurture and oversee future generations of Rockingham players. "I want to improve the way the young kids train and play, and hope to have some games against other academies, both interstate and eventually internationally," he said. "In time, I wish to see the club move up into the Premier League, this is something that I think is not beyond us." The program is set to begin in October and will run through to March 2010.
In moving forward, Rockingham have chosen to no longer field a Sunday amateur team. "The club will have veterans and social teams, but will form a relationship with another amateur club from 2010," said president Barry Wilders. "The relationship with another club comes from a desire to lift the profile of the our club and sport. The reason behind associating with another club is to have an outlet for players at a good level who do not make our top level squad but do not wish to play socially. This relationship is still being sorted and as a club we have a number of different options."
With the coaching team busily planning for next season and a new academy ready for lift-off, indications are Rockingham on the right track. The off-field issues which reared their ugly head mid-season appear to have been laid to rest and the club can now focus on what happens on the park. And that means Rockingham's young player group will continue their steady improvement and finish outside the bottom four. 2010 will be coach O'Brien's third year in charge of the side and anything less than a mid-table finish will surely been seen as another year wasted.
LOWRY OUT TO CEMENT SPOT
New Socceroos recruit Shane Lowry is a long-time admirer of defensive linchpins Lucas Neill and Craig Moore, but the budding stopper says he doesn't intend to be a clone of anybody. I've been a big fan of both of them, how could I not be. They've both been there and done it and are still going strong in their 30s, said the 20-year old centre back. But I'm not trying to model my game in anybody in particular. I want to be the best I can be and not worry about trying to copy anybody else. Obviously I can learn from them. How they go about their business on and off the field.
The prospect of training alongside Moore, Neill, Tim Cahill, Vince Grella, Harry Kewell, Brett Emerton and the rest of Pim Verbeek's stable of stars, has Lowry buzzing - as has the possibility of making the cut for the2010 World Cup. That's the long term aim I'm just excited about training with all these great players, added Lowry, who is sharing a room with close pal and fellow rookie on the rise, Middlesbrough's Rhys Williams. It's going to make me a better player. Just like training with the first team at Aston Villa has done for me and training with the Socceroos will be another big step.
Lowry only recently committed himself to Australia having represented the Republic of Ireland at under-17 and 21 levels. It was a big decision opting for Australia I won't deny it, said Lowry, who was approached by Verbeek after playing a reserves game for Aston Villa in September. But the bottom line is I'm Australian, this is my country and I know I've made the right choice. I also spoke to Rhys about it because he's already played a couple of games for the Socceroos now and he told me what a superb set-up it was and what a good bunch of lads they are. I spoke not my parents also and some of the people at Aston Villa and there was never really any doubt in my mind.
Although part of the squad for Saturday's friendly with the Netherlands in Sydney, and the Asian Cup qualifier against Oman in Melbourne on Wednesday, he knows there's no guarantee he'll make his Australia debut in the next few days. I'm just looking forward to getting to know to know everybody and to show that I'm not going to be out of place at this level, he said. If I get any game time against Holland or Oman it will be great. When Pim first approached me was totally straight and said there would be no guarantees. I'm more than happy with that. It's an adventure for me and hoping I can make an impression. But I'm not going to get too carried away with things. I just want to show people that I'm worthy of a place in the squad.
OLIVER GUTTED BY RELEGATION
He may be on the other side of the world but that doesn't mean Paul Oliver has been effected by Canning City's relegation from the Premier League. Oliver, who missed the final weeks of the season after moving to England, spoke openly of the hurt and disappointment of seeing his beloved club slide back into the First Division. I'm gutted - I really thought that we never looked out of place and to be honest I don't think we were the twelfth best team in that League, said Oliver, who was born in England and played much of the last nine years with Canning. But after 22 games I guess the table doesn't lie ...we just didn't do quite enough. More than anybody I feel for president Malcolm Watson who puts his heart and soul into the club week in, week out.
The season started positively enough for Canning, who were placed fifth after eleven games. However, the departure of some key players combined with suspension and injury played a major role in the team's slide down the table. Without a doubt, they were the two major issues, said Oliver. I think the squad had depth and experience, and when we had our best eleven to fifteen players all available we showed the best teams exactly what we were capable of. Unfortunately, a mixture of suspensions, injuries and departures really took its toll on the team in the second half of the year, and with only a small handful of players having played at that level previously it was always going to be difficult.
Canning unearthed some exciting young prospects this season who can play a big part in the club's resurgence. We have had a number of players progress through the ranks this year which is a definite positive, Oliver said. 16-year old defender Blake Readwin has been one of the shining lights in the reserves this year after coming up from the 18's. Young and nippy left winger Nathan Hubbard is only 17 and came from nowhere to feature in the closing stages of the first team season. And possibly one of the most talented players I've ever seen for his age is Pravin Gunasagaran, he's a strong and skilful midfielder that could go far in the game if he really wants it.
Oliver headed back to England with his young family in August with the offer of trials from non-League club Whitby Town, where things didn't quite go to plan for the 23-year old. Unfortunately I tore my medial ligament in my already sub-standard knee in my first training session here which has ruled me out of action until the New Year. I will be back and raring to go when I am fit though, said Oliver, who says his days of playing for Canning are by no means over. Canning holds a place close to my heart and I can say quite confidently that I haven't played my last game for the club.
Being out of the country hasn't prevented Oliver from staying in touch with what's been happening on the West Australian front. He tipped Floreat Athena to win last weekend's Soccer Pools Cup finals and expects that club to go on an complete the job by collecting the the Flexible Signage Solutions Finals Series trophy. I said last week that Floreat would win the Cup, and with the structure of how the Top Five is played makes it very hard to look past the top three sides. Western Knights and Perth SC will obviously and quite rightly go in confident and with a lot of backing, but my tip though is for a Floreat League and Cup double, Oliver confidently predicted.
HUNGRY AT HOME (courtesy Perth Glory)
Perth Glory will return to their best as they defend home turf against a cross-border raid from rivals Adelaide United this Friday evening. Glory are unbeaten at ME Bank Stadium this season, however, their past two outings have seen them share the points, a situation defender Andy Todd says the side is determined to remedy. You look to your home games and try and win them. We're disappointed with how we played last weekend and have a good chance to put it right on Friday night, said Todd, who has formed a solid partnership alongside Socceroo Chris Coyne in the heart of Glory's defence.
Todd made his first A-League appearance against Adelaide at Hindmarsh Stadium in round one when the home team notched a narrow win, and the former English Premier League player expects another tight tussle this time around. Adelaide is a very well organised team, they're very difficult to beat and if they get their noses in front they'll be hard to peg back, said Todd. It's going to be a tough game, they've been together a long time, they made the finals last year and they know what it's all about but we're at home and we've got to take the game them.
KERR TO REPRESENT AUSTRALIA AT ASEAN TOURNAMENT
Perth Glory Women midfielder Samantha Kerr is likely to miss her club's next two games after gaining Australian selection for the Asean Football Federation Under-16 Women's Championships 2009. The week-long tournament commences on Saturday in Myanmar, meaning Kerr is unavailable for this weekend's home game with Newcastle Jets and the match seven days later at Canberra United. Kerr, who made her senior Australia debut against Italy in February, is expected to feature prominently for coach Robbie Hooker, whose team have been pitted against the Philippines, Vietnam and Myanmar B in the initial group phase.
The Australia squad for the AFF Under-16 Women's Championships 2009 features Ashlee Faul, Ruth Wallace (Adelaide United), Emily Van Egmond (Canberra United), Stephanie Catley (Melbourne Victory), Caitlin Foord, Alanna Kennedy, Heidi Makrillos (New South Wales Institute of Sport), Sharni Brown (North West Sydney Koalas), Tara Andrews, Hannah Brewer (Newcastle Jets), Alexandra Huynh (Marconi), Caitlin Friend (Melbourne Victory), Brianna Davey (National Training Centre, Melbourne), Samantha Kerr (Perth Glory), Erika Elze, Amy Higgins, Rebekah Stott (Queensland Academy of Sport), Teigen Allen, Nicola Bolger and Brittany Whitfield (Sydney FC).
RUKAVYTSYA RECOGNISES THERE'S WORK TO BE DONE
World Cup hopeful Nikita Rukavytsya has vowed to force his way into the FC Twente line-up and keep alive his dream of grabbing a seat on the Socceroos' plane to South Africa. Reduced to just five appearances - four of which were off the bench - in 14 games for manager Steve McLaren, the 22-year old strike weapon is having to bide his time in a side enriched with quality from back to front. But Rukavytsya isn't about to force the issue with the club, instead he's vowed to keep fine-tuning his game, improve the timing of his runs, his finishing and his technique as he aims to take his game to the next level.
Buoyed by a goal in the 8-0 hammering of minnows SC Joure in the Dutch Cup last week, Rukavytsya is confident his time will come at some stage as the season unfolds. I have to be patient, keep working and make sure I get noticed, he told the World Game website. This is an important year of course leading into the World Cup and it's also important for me to get game time but this is a club with excellent players and there aren't any guarantees to anybody here. I'm enjoying the challenge, of course I want to be playing more but I'm improving and trying to refine my game all the time. Twente are great at developing young players and bringing them to their full potential.
Rukavytsya was a surprise omission from Pim Verbeek's squad for upcoming games with the Netherlands and Oman, having also missed out on game time in the 3-1 loss to Korea Republic. I thought I did well on my debut but missing out against Korea wasn't an issue for me because that was how the coach saw it and I have no arguments with that, he said. The main thing is I've had the chance to train and play with excellent players like Harry Kewell, Tim Cahill and Mak Bresciano and that's been something special for me. I'm still at an early stage and there will hopefully be opportunities for me ahead. The World Cup is my goal and if the coaching staff feel I can bring something different to the table and I'm playing regular football then I'm sure I have a chance of being picked.
1GOAL FOR 2010 (courtesy Football Federation Australia)
Football Federation Australia has signed-on to the worldwide campaign to change the lives of children in poverty through improving access to education. 1GOAL is the official campaign of the 2010 FIFA World Cup and aims to remind world leaders of their commitment to universal education as part of the achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Football Federation Australia is proud to support the 1GOAL campaign partnering with FIFA, the Australian Government and others around the world, said FFA CEO, Ben Buckley. 1GOAL is a global campaign in partnership with the 2010 FIFA World Cup which urges all football fans to help make a difference by calling on world leaders to make education and priority and a reality for children around the world.
Buckley said that UN data shows that 75 million children around the world do not attend school with half of them in the African continent. Next year's FIFA World Cup in South Africa gives all of us in the football world an opportunity to highlight this issue while the world spotlight is on both Africa and football, added Buckley. Education is an important policy objective in any society to ensure that people have the best possible opportunity to reach their potential. The 1GOAL campaign is supported by governments around the world, the football community and footballers, as well as leading Non-Government Organisations and celebrities. To sign on for 1GOAL visit www.join1goal.org.
DAVIES' WINNING HAT-TRICK
If selectors for the Australian Schoolgirls squad want a proven match-winner, they should look no further than Rebecca Davies. In three national championships since 2006, 16-year old Davies has scored the goals that put Western Australia into the national finals. Davies was selected in the preliminary Schoolgirls squad at the completion of last month's national championships and, should she make the final cut, will travel to Europe in January and play matches against England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Kevin Davies said his daughter started playing football at 13 and was picked in a State squad after just one season. She went with the WA team to Coffs Harbour and scored the winning goal in the semi-final to ensure the girls came away with (at least) a silver medal, he said. It was a repeat the following year, in 2007, when again she was selected, this time for the State under-17 team, again scored the winner in the semi- final. But once again the WA team were runners-up. Davies run continued last month when her goal put the Schoolgirls in the final, from which they came away with another silver medal.
GLORY HAVE DEPTH TO COVER FOR SUSPENDED CAPTAIN
Defender Chris Coyne is confident Perth Glory can beat A-League heavyweights Adelaide United without suspended captain Jacob Burns. 31-year old Burns picked up his fifth yellow card of the season - which accompanies an automatic one-match suspension - just before half-time during Glory's controversial 1-1 draw with North Queensland Fury on Saturday. Coyne said Burns would be sorely missed, but believes there are enough players in the squad capable of filling the captain's midfield role. "We've got strength and depth now which I don't think we've had in years," Coyne said. "There are people chomping at the bit, playing in the Youth team to get fit." Local products Todd Howarth, Scott Bulloch and Andrija Jukic are chances to replace Burns in the starting line-up.
Referee Ben Williams was the centre of controversy during Saturday's match, dishing out eight yellow cards and one red card. His biggest blunder came in the 70th minute when he allowed a controversial Fury goal to stand after Chris Grossman's foul on Tando Velaphi saw the Glory goalkeeper stumble over the goal line. Coyne was reluctant to comment in detail on the matter in case he incurred the wrath of the A-League hierarchy. "I asked how much the fine was this morning to see how much I could get fined if I said too much because I think it was the wrong decision," he said. "(The referee) stole the show yesterday for all the wrong reasons."
Glory have lost their last four matches against Adelaide and have only beaten the 2008 Asian Champions League runners-up twice in thirteen attempts. Coyne said they would be looking to make amends for its disappointing 1-0 loss to Adelaide in the opening round of the current season. "I believe we're the best team on paper in the league and we've been winning games without playing well," he said. "I think once we hit our straps, look out. We're more than capable of beating anyone. We're hard to beat still. We're maybe not breaking teams down as well as we can, but teams aren't breaking us down either." Glory takes on Adelaide from 7.00pm this Friday night at ME Bank Stadium.
FLOREAT ARE THE REAL DEAL
Litis Stadium will be home to the Soccer Pools Cup for the next twelve months after Floreat Athena defeated Inglewood United 3-1 in today's final at Dorrien Gardens. A goal in each half by Branimir Mikulic plus another from Daniel Neiderberger earned Floreat their first Cup in twelve years. Floreat were quick out of the blocks and Neiderberger would have fired them into the lead after only a few minutes had it not been for Matt Worton's superb last-gasp challenge. As it was they would need only 15 minutes to make the most of their dominance, John Migas' driving run down the right taking him past three defenders before clipping into the 6-yard box where Mikulic angled his header across Oliver Taseski and inside the far post.
All the pressure in a fast flowing game was on Inglewood's young back line, Floreat oozing confidence as they crisply moved the ball around the park with Migas influential in the centre and terrific support out wide coming from Mikulic and Brad Scott. Neiderberger stung the gloves of Taseski with a solid shot on the turn 15-metres, and not long after the same player jinxed his way past Rikki Smith but was again unable to get the better of the 'keeper. The pressure valve was temporarily released in the 26th minute when Albert Osei-Tutu evaded Simon Elton-Bott to race clear but the striker failed to get the better of 'keeper Alex Dunn.
Just after the half hour Mikulic played through the middle to release Jason Barrera whose sublime pass was pulled across the face of goal by Neiderberger. Inglewood began to get more involved in the latter stages of the half but found it difficult to unlock their opponents defence. A Jason Colli free-kick into the danger zone was cleared to the top of the 18-yard box where it fell to Dannie Richman, who fired well high of the crossbar. But Inglewood's chances nosedived in stoppage time when Michael Baczynski was issued his marching orders by referee Steven Gregory for a second yellow card offence, a heavy tackle on Miroslav Aleksic right on front of the Floreat bench.
A tepid start to the start of the second half was controlled by Inglewood, and Floreat did not like it one bit. With 55 minutes gone Rory Grant headed into the net at close-range after Osei-Tutu nodded a bouncing ball over Dunn, however, an offside flag cut short Inglewood's celebrations. Elton-Bott was happy to concede a corner five minutes later by heading out Colli's cross which was intended for Grant. Neiderberger got the goal he deserved on 72 minutes, the attacker applying a cool finish across the 'keeper after running the ball down the left. Floreat wanted more but Aleksic pulled wide while Taseski smothered at the feet of newly introduced substitute Callum Roberts.
Mladen Kovacevic's fierce strike with ten minutes to go was too hot to hold for Dunn, who pounced on the loose ball as Osei-Tutu honed in. Six minutes later Barrera hit a speculative long ball into the area where Mikulic snuck ahead of his marker to touch goal number three into the net. Neiderbger was denied his second by Taseski, while Migas chanced his luck by charging out of midfield only to have his run halted by Sandi Loncar. The game was in stoppage time when Inglewood grabbed their consolation, Worton sending in from the left a long diagonal cross which Grant glanced precisely inside the far post to bring some respectability to the scoreline.
Floreat Athena: Alex Dunn, James Isaia (Jovo Pavlovic 58), Dean Apelgren,
Simon Elton-Bott, Adam Bachillor, Branimir Mikulic, Miroslav Aleksic (Miki
Vujacic 86), John Migas, Jason Barrera, Brad Scott (Callum Roberts 76), Daniel
Inglewood United: Oliver Taseski, Jason Colli, Sandi Loncar, Rikki Smith, Matt Worton, Dannie Richman, Michael Baczynski, Mladen Kovacevic, Matt Wardle (Alex Cocking 66), Rory Grant, Albert Osei-Tutu
Bookings: Baczynski (8), Kovacevic (70), Neiderberger (72), Loncar (74)
Dismissals: Baczynski (45+)
Referee: Steven Gregory
BOLAND BRACE BURIES BAYSWATER (by Michael Bate, Football West)
Teenage striker Liam Boland netted a double to lead Stirling Lions to a 2-1 victory over Bayswater City in the Soccer Pools Reserves Cup final at Dorrien Gardens. Boland's strikes came either side of a Ryan Frisina penalty conversion in a tightly fought contest that always seemed destined to be settled by the odd goal. After the game, Stirling coach Willie Herd was understandably delighted with the victory. "We knew it would be a tough game but I think in the end our fitness really showed through because we created five or six chances that we should have put away," he said. "Before the game I told the lads Stirling has never won the Reserves Cup so it'd be a chance to make some history for the club, and we did it."
Bayswater started brightly and nearly took a shock early lead when Gustavo Maralunda forced a fine low save from Tom Dixon with a powerful drive from distance. Boland's first sight of goal came from a 7th minute free-kick which deflected inches wide of Bobson Koroma's post. Six minutes later Maralunda sent a free-kick just wide, before Matt Italiano was denied by a fantastic saving tackle from Cesar Gonzalez on the edge of the 6-yard box. After the frantic opening quarter of an hour, the game settled into a lull punctuated only by a trio of bookings issued to Bayswater players. With so many fouls being called up, the game stopped flowing and both sides seemed to lose rhythm.
The game sparked back into life in the 31st minute when Remo Venditti made a strong run from the midfield before feeding a low ball into the feet of Boland who, instead of taking a touch to control, subtly redirected the ball past Koroma and into the back of the net. Bayswater went close in the 40th minute when Frisina found himself one-on-one with Dixon but the Stirling goalkeeper made a fine save. Just two minutes later the same two players were involved in a very controversial incident, Dixon rushing off his line to dive at the feet of Frisina who went down under the challenge. Referee Josh Mihevc waved away shouts for a penalty and instead awarded a Bayswater corner, suggesting he believed Dixon got a touch on the ball. There was no doubt about Dixon's contact with the ball three minutes after the restart when he again rushed off his line and this time stood tall to block Gareth Whittle's fierce shot. Bayswater grew in confidence as the half progressed, with Maralunda making several strong runs from midfield, one of which saw him rolling the ball to Frisina who fired just wide from 22-metres. A minute later Maralunda made his way inside the 18-yard box where he was tripped by a defender, this time the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot with Frisina sending Dixon the wrong way and level the scores. Parity lasted only until the 63rd minute, however, with Boland dispatched a free-kick from the edge of the area inside the near post following a clumsy foul on Keith Clevenger.
Jason Trpevski could have made it 3-1 when he found himself one-on-one with Koroma but the midfielder fired high and wide from a tight angle. A diagonal ball into the box by Dennis Galan caused Koroma a headache when it took a wicked bounce and nearly flew into the top of the net, the 'keeper doing well to tip it over the crossbar. As the game wore on Bayswater began to lose shape as they search desperately for an equaliser. Italiano should have wrapped the game up when through with only the 'keeper to beat but instead of taking the shot he slid the ball to a team mate in an offside position. Bayswater immediately countered with Maralunda's shot from 18-metres going close. Koroma made a fine late save to deny Italiano and soon after Mihevc blew the final whistle, triggering the Stirling celebrations.
Baywater City: Bobson Koroma, Joshua Pirone, Cesar Gonzalez, Damir
Kuduzovic, Paul Hickey (Michael Kovacevic 78), Gustavo Maralunda, Carlos
Lopez, Gareth Whittle, Ryan Frisina (Blaz Radovanovic 71), Ahmed Hafez, Frank
Stirling Lions: Tom Dixon, Tom Senior, Ben Senior, Jason Trpevski, Matt Italiano, Remo Venditti, Keith Clevenger (Nduma Makeche 66), Liam Boland (Damian Chapeleau 80), Dennis Galan, Rick Del Basso (Jake Geddes 73), Paul Rechichi
Bookings: Madaferri (10), Kuduzovic (20), Hickey (23), Frisina (26), Italiano (50), Pirone (56), Gonzalez (58), Maralunda (72), Trpevski (82)
Referee: Josh Mihevc
SWAN CLAIMS YOUTH CUP
A brace from striker Christian Lopez has guided Swan United to a 4-1 victory over Inglewood United in the Soccer Pools Youth Cup Final at Dorrien Gardens. Niall Hughes also found the target with Swan's other being an unfortunate own goal from Viktor Atanasovski, while Lee Carr scored Inglewood a consolation goal late in the piece. "It was a great all-round team performance today. So often you get to finals and lose it at the last hurdle but today we were switched on from the first whistle and I couldn't be any happier," said Swans coach Gary Mateljan. "Our back line today was great and we never gave them a sniff, while strikers Christian and Niall gave them all sorts of problems up front."
With the playing arena bathed in sunlight, Inglewood threatened first after 8 minutes when Paul Monaldi flashed a volley wide after goalkeeper Jordan Howells punched the ball to the top of the 18-yard box. Swan's response was swift as sixty seconds later they had the lead with Hughes sending Joel Van Der Meer the wrong way from the penalty spot as a consequence of David Trajkoski's foul on Lopez. Inglewood wanted to get back on level terms quickly but the closest they came would be an Anthony Papalia header that was narrowly high of the crossbar from Dean Dzukleski's delivery into the area.
Swan struck for a second time on 26 minutes courtesy of Andy Alverez's incisive pass which put Lopez in the clear, and with Inglewood waiting for an offside flag that didn't arrive the striker despatched a clinical shot past Van Der Meer. There were chances at both ends as the game now began to open up. Lopez's good run in the 34th minute ended with a shot that whizzed past the post, and moments after a free-kick at the opposite end saw Butshiire head wide. Howells denied Paul Monaldi with a smart save low at his near post, while in stoppage time Lopez's shot beat Van Der Meer only to have Papalia clear off the line.
The second half opened with Swan continuing their offensive, a Tim Hill corner being flicked on by Lopez with Shane Webb's volley at the back post going wide. They were rewarded on the hour when, in attempting to clear from inside the area, the ball skewed off Atanasovski's boot and went pas hiw own 'keeper to increase the gap to three goals. Any hopes Inglewood had of a late comeback were ended two minutes later when Hill's corner from the left was sent into the net at close-range by an unmarked Lopez. Van Der Meer prevented Swan from adding another soon after by coming off his line to thwart Hughes.
Even so, Inglewood refused to give up the chase, Adam Brown's shot on the run whistled past the post before Papalia called Howells into action with a shot from distance. Lopez continued to menace at the other end and on 77 minutes his snap shot was saved by Van Der Meer, who six minutes later had his blushes saved by Trajkoski's goal line clearance after being beaten by Ben Sipos. Papalia's effort from 7-metres was brilliantly saved by the 'keeper at full-stretch as Inglewood sought a late consolation. And it arrived soon after when Carr fired in from 9-metres after getting on the end of a cross from the right by Alex Gismondi.
Inglewood United: Joel Van Der Meer, Lee Carr, Adam Brown, Paul Monaldi
(Nathan Scully 46), Dean Dzukleski (Brent Korver 83), David Trajkoski, Vedran
Bogdanic, Henock Butshiire (Alex Gismondi 67), Marmadee Toure, Viktor Atanasovski,
Swan United: Jordan Howells, Ben Sipos, Dara McNally, Matthew Johns, Tim Hill, Owen Curtis (Chris Nolen 75), Braid Craig, Andy Alverez, Niall Hughes (Johnny Gevers 82), Shane Webb, Christian Lopez
Bookings: Sipos (38)
Referee: Michael Frost
GLORY, FURY SHARE POINTS ON CONTROVERSIAL AFTERNOON
North Queensland Fury recovered from the dismissal of Ufuk Talay to grab a point with a controversial leveller in a 1-1 draw with Perth Glory at ME Bank Stadium. An own goal from Tando Velaphi saw Fury head home with a share of the spoils, even though the Glory custodian had clearly been bundled into the net Chris Grossman when gathering a high ball. Tando felt he kept it out and he felt the boy pushed him, obviously if your hands are up in the air and someone pushes you, you are off balance, said coach David Mitchell about the visitors goal. It was disappointing the way the second goal happened but we didn't have the spark to regenerate and create another goal. That's the annoying part from our point of view. When they got the goal they made it very difficult for us but that's where we have to be good enough to take on the challenge and take it to the next level to create opportunities and we didn't.
Bright and breezy conditions and a bumper crowd greeted the two sides as they took to the field. But after some lively early exchanges neither side was able to find any real rhythm in what developed into a fractious first-half. Jamie Coyne headed wide from an Adriano Pellegrino corner, and soon after a Eugene Dadi shot was deflected away by Scott Wilson's timely sliding challenge. Having survived those early scares, North Queensland tightened up at the back and adopted a robust approach in midfield that successfully disrupted Glory's attempts to get the ball down and bring their wide players into the game. The stop-start pattern of the half was not helped by the sad sight of Shane Stefanutto being carried from the field shortly after the half hour after damaging his knee. And there was worse to come for North Queensland when key midfielder Ufuk Talay was given his marching orders a minute before the break for a second yellow card.
The drama continued after the interval as, on 48 minutes, Mile Sterjovski cut in from the left only to be brought down by John Tambouras' late tackle, referee Ben Williams had no hesitation in pointing to the spot from where the Glory marquee converted his third goal of the season. A goal up and with an extra player, Glory now opted to sit on their lead as North Queensland launched wave after wave of attacks. Sterjovski did get the ball in the net for a second time but after nodding in a Pellegrino free-kick his effort was disallowed for Dadi's foul on Jason Spagnuolo in the lead-up. North Queensland refused to buckle on 71 minutes a Chris Tadrosse's free-kick found Tambouras whose header was captured on the line by Velaphi, however, he was forced backwards by Grossman and a goal awarded amid pleas from Glory players that their 'keeper had been fouled. Glory carved out several promising attacks in the closing stages but had to make do with one point.
A MILLION REASONS TO SMILE (courtesy Perth Glory)
Perth Glory Youth notched their second win in as many weeks with striker Million Butshiire delivering an injury time winner from the penalty spot. A second half double by Butshiire inspired Glory to a thrilling 3-2 win against a gallant Australian Institute of Sport squad that proved a tough opponent at ME Bank Stadium. I've had a couple of shots this season and been a bit unlucky so it was nice to get one into the back of the net, Butshiire said after the match. Scoring is a key part of my game and it was good to do that today but that's not the only thing I want to do for the team. I always try to have an influence on the game and help the team by scoring or giving assist, whatever I can do.
The home side were on the back foot following the opening whistle, conceding after just 4 minutes when a miscued clearance fell invitingly for local product Eli Babalj, who didn't need a second invitation to slam the ball into the back of the net. Livewire midfielder Ludovic Boi kept Glory in touch a well taken shot in the 21st minute for his second goal in as many games. Glory continued to create chances but found themselves again a goal behind just ten minutes later when Babalj calmly converted from the spot following a foul on Mustafa Amini.
Glory should have equalised just minutes after the re-start when Boi earned a penalty, however, Reece Vittiglia put his effort over the bar. The home side levelled proceedings in the 72nd minute when a flowing move ended in a goalmouth scramble during which Butshiire found enough room to fire into the net. The AIS continued to threaten, Babalj blasting a shot just over the bar nine minutes from time before Amini hit the woodwork from a tight angle. With the game entering stoppage time Glen Trifiro earned Glory another penalty when felled by Trent Sainsbury, Butshiire was handed the responsibility and put his spot kick beyond the reach of 'keeper Lawrence Thomas to decide the game.
FIRST UP DEFEAT FOR PERTH (courtesy Football West)
Perth Glory Women have come up empty handed from their opening round clash with Melbourne Victory, going down 2-0 at Etihad Stadium. Goals from Enza Barilla and Katie Thorlakson in each half sealed the win in a match where Glory struggled to get a foot in the contest. Coach John Gibson was disappointed with the result but only had praise for his troops who came up against some physical opposition. Victory are a physical side with some mature bodies and they played well, and we didn't play to our best, said Gibson. We were a bit conservative away from home with the opposition and surroundings, the girls defended well but some lapses in concentration and a lack of quality on the night cost us.
Melbourne raced out of the blocks early, immediately asserting its dominance on the game and creating two half-chances in the opening minutes. Lisa De Vanna looked the most likely to score for the visitors but despite a number of menacing runs she lacked support. The home team got the goal they deserved on 34 minute when a poor pass out of defence allowed Thorlakson to play out wide to Julianne Sitch, who delivered a perfect pass which Barilla despatched into the bottom corner. Going a goal down seemed to spark Glory into action with Shannon May hitting their first shot on target before the sides headed into the half-time break.
The home side didn't slow down for the second half with Kara Mowbray almost scoring right from the kick-off. Melbourne's second arrived in the 71st minute with a fine team move, Vedrana Popovic winning possession in midfield and playing a fine one-two with substitute Selin Kurulay before delivering a superb low cross which Thorlakson tucked into the net. Glory threatened in the final ten minutes, Samantha Kerr unleashing a shot from outside the penalty area which Melissa Barbieri was easily able to gather. Melbourne saw out the game with ten players after Kuralay was sent off late for her second bookable offence in the final minute of regulation time.
WARD DIAGNOSED WITH GOLDEN STAPH INFECTION
Melbourne Victory midfielder Nick Ward has been ordered on to an intravenous drip as he attempts to beat a golden staph infection which has stalled his A-League career. Ward was hospitalised last week with a mystery infection in the muscles around his abdomen, which the Victory have since confirmed is golden staph. The former Perth Glory midfielder has had a wretched run of injuries - his latest illness setback coming just as he had seemingly secured a first-team place for the Victory.
Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick confirmed there was no firm prognosis for Ward. "He's very unfortunate - it's a golden staph infection in his abdomen," Merrick said. "He has to have an intravenous drip and he's doing that now in a portable fashion - a needle in his arm with the antibiotics going in. We have to see how much strength he's going to lose and how much time it's going to take him conditioned again. We don't expect to have him for at least the next three or four weeks. He has lost weight but he's on the road to recovery now."
YOUNG SOCCEROOS MAKE EARLY EXIT
Australia have been dumped out of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup. Although group stage losses to the Czech Republic, Costa Rica and Brazil made for a disappointing tournament, coach Jan Versleijen remained proud of his players' efforts. "We got some good things out of the tournament and this experience was a very fruitful one for the whole team," Versleijen said. "The lead up for this tournament lasted two years and we played a lot of internationals, which was already a good experience but the three games here in Egypt showed what kind of things are needed at World Cup level."
The Young Socceroos were presented with a mountain to climb after losing their opening match 2-1 to the Czech Republic. Czech midfielder Michael Rabusic scored with a header five minutes into the second half, with Tomas Pekhart adding the second from the penalty spot following an 89th minute foul on Petr Wojnar by Ryan McGowan, who was subsequently red carded. Australia captain James Holland converted a penalty with the final kick of the match to score a consolation goal that meant little in the disappointing result. West Australian defender Chris herd came off the bench in the 70th minute.
Costa Rica ended Australia's hopes of progressing to the knock-out stage by claiming victory 3-0 in the second round of group games. A quickly taken free-kick provided Costa Rica their first goal on 35 minutes, Diego Madrigal's shot on the turn finding the net via the upright. Australia's day worsened on the hour when Tahj Minniecon was sent off for retaliation just five minutes after coming off the bench. Luke DeVere, under pressure from an opponent, headed over his own goalkeeper to score an unfortunate own goal on 82 minutes, and in stoppage time David Guzman rubbed salt into the wound by netting his nation's third.
Australia scored first but could not hold on as Brazil ran out 3-1 winners from the final group fixture. Aaron Mooy opened the scoring with a fierce free-kick from distance that eluded goalkeeper Rafael and spilled into the net after just 14 minutes. Brazil replied twenty minutes later, Ciro cutting in from the left and shooting powerfully into the net via the upright to bring the sides level. They then took the lead in the 62nd minute when Douglas Costa found space inside the area to control before slotting past Andrew Redmayne. Paulo Henrique put the result beyond doubt in the 81st minute with a delightful curling that went in off the crossbar.
LOWRY ECSTATIC WITH AUSTRALIA CALL-UP
Shane Lowry couldn't be more excited to be called up for Pim Verbeek's squad for the Socceroos upcoming fixtures with the Netherlands and Oman. Having played for the Republic of Ireland at under-17 and under-21 level, Lowry's decision of last month to switch his international allegiance to Australia has paid early dividends. "I am ecstatic," said 20-year old Lowry, who has spent most of his career in England. "It's the country I was born in and I grew up there. To be recognised on the international stage is a big honour for me." Now Lowry, on loan at English championship club Plymouth Argyle from Premier League team Aston Villa, says he can't wait to possibly make his debut in the next few days.
Lowry's decision echoed that of former Wales under-21 international Rhys Williams, who has now represented Australia twice and is also in the squad to play the Netherlands and Oman. "I played for the Ireland under-21s but then Australia came along," commented Lowry, who played locally for ECU Joondalup. "I was born and bred in Australia and I just had a change of heart, and I'm looking forward to meeting up with the squad. Ireland showed an interest in me as a youngster and it was good opportunity to play international football, and I was happy doing that, but I have always seen myself as an Australian."
Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek, not long back from a ten-week scouting trip in Europe and Asia, described Lowry as "a classic central defender who can slot into the centre of defence or on the left side". "He's tall, left-footed, grown up in English football. He's also a good header and isn't afraid to make a tackle," said Verbeek. "Like we did with Rhys Williams, there are no guarantees. But if he's better than what we have, he will probably be in the squad for the World Cup, if he can show us in the next eight or nine months." Lowry joins Tim Cahill (Samoa), Dean Bouzanis (Greece), Kofi Danning (Ghana) and Williams (Wales) on a growing list of players to have committed to Australia over other nations.
INNER-CITY RIVALS LOCK HORNS IN CUP FINAL
Soccer Pools Cup Final : Floreat Athena v Inglewood United (Referee: Steve Gregory)
The 2009 Soccer Pools Cup will be decided on Sunday afternoon when Floreat Athena match skills with Inglewood United for the right to hold aloft the prestigious knock-out trophy at Dorrien Gardens (3.00pm). It's been a long time between drinks for Inglewood, who last captured silverware nigh on five years ago, and assistant coach Kevin Brophy feels the time is right for that drought to be broken. "We have a lot of young fellow's in the side now and it will be crucial how they react playing in a big game like this ... if they all perform, then we have a great chance to bring the Cup home on Sunday night."
Inglewood's chances of Cup glory have been dented by the absence of defensive trio Shane Pryce (injury), Danny Kovacevic (holiday) and Matt Wardle (illness) plus midfielders Alex Stamatiadis and Aaron Colli, both serving suspension. Even so, the club boasts a wealth of talent and in Oliver Taseski have arguably the best set of hands on the local stage. Mladen Kovacevic, Michael Baczynski and State representative Jason Colli have proven their worth at both ends of the park this season with the task of setting as well as scoring goals handled by Albert Osei-Tutu and Scottish import Rory Grant.
Brophy also recognises Floreat have several players more than capable of settling the game off their own boot. "We will have to keep an eye on Brad Scott, as he can conjure up a goal from anywhere. Callum Roberts caused us problems in our most recent meeting when he came off the bench and was the catalyst for their fight back, and Jason Barrera can also have a huge influence if we let him," he said. "But a final is not just about the best team, it's about who wants it most and we just have to make sure we win as many individual battles as we can."
Sunday will be the fourth time Inglewood have faced Floreat this year with the ledger currently standing at a win apiece with the spoils shared at 2-2 in their most recent encounter. "I feel we have been unfortunate against Floreat, conceding late goals in both league games," said Brophy, whose team threw away a two-goal lead five weeks ago to draw at Floreat. "We showed we could match them, we had periods where we were well on top in both games and if we're in a similar position (on Sunday) I would hope that we won't make the mistake a third time."
Floreat may have hit a rich vein of form leading into the final but assistant coach Taki Nicolaides says they'll be taking nothing for granted. "Inglewood are a very tough and competitive team who never give in - I expect them to be well organized and to stretch us all the way until the final whistle," he commented. "We beat them with the last kick of the game in the first game of the league season and really had to dig deep in the second game to grab a point. And after coming so close to making the Top Five they know this is their last game of the season and will want to finish on a high."
Competition for places in the Floreat engine room has been red-hot this week with Dean Apelgren, Daniel Neiderberger, Adam Bachillor, Miki Vujacic, Jason Barrera and Branimir Mikulic giving their all to convince senior coach Michael Roki they are worthy of a starting spot. John Migas runs a tight ship in front of goalkeeper Alex Dunn, who has come on in leaps and bounds since breaking into the line-up a few months back, while former New Zealand international Brad Scott provides the route to goal. Floreat's only major absences are Johny Mirco, who is Cup-tied to Cockburn City, Paul Vatistas (suspended).
The key to Floreat taking home the Cup will be their ability to quickly close down their opponents. "Every player in their team is talented and can cause us problems if we allow them too much time on the ball. We need to make sure we work hard enough and not allow them the space, especially in the last third," explained Nicolaides, who views Inglewood's goalkeeper as another potential stumbling block. "I have always had a lot of admiration for Ollie Taseski from the time we played together at Inglewood, he is an underrated 'keeper that is always very hard to beat."
Nicolaides has been impressed by what Shane Pryce has been able to achieve with Inglewood since being appointed senior coach a few months ago. "Shane has done a tremendous job, he has a great deal of experience as a player in the NSL and was very well respected as a player for Inglewood over the last few years," said Nicolaides. "He obviously knows the players very well and it seems that the players have responded to his new role very well and is getting the best out of them." Listen to live coverage of the Soccer Pools Cup Final from 2.30pm on 107.3 Heritage FM, and watch match highlights on footballwest.tv from Monday afternoon.
RESERVE CUP A ‘DAVID AND GOLIATH’ AFFAIR
Soccer Pools Reserve Cup Final : Bayswater City v Stirling Lions (Referee: Michael Frost)
The underdog tags sits nicely on Bayswater City ahead of Sunday's Reserve Cup Final against top flight opponent Inglewood United at Dorrien Gardens (12.30pm). Bayswater coach Petar Mrdja is looking forward to the game and returning home with the trophy. "Although our league season has been disappointing this year, our Cup form has been great," said Mrdja, whose team finished the regular season in eighth place. "Our confidence grew with each win and by the semi-finals we felt that this could be our year. We've had one eye on the Cup Final for the past two months and are excited at the prospect of playing in front of a big crowd at Dorrien Gardens and representing the whole of the First Division."
The loss of playmaker Anthony Reale with a torn hamstring may have put a dampener on Bayswater's Cup dream, however, they have plenty of players capable of winning the game. Ryan Frisina and Frank Madafferi made a number of appearances for the first team this season while in Josh Pirone they have one of the most promising defenders in the competition. "We do not harbour any illusions, the Lions are a tough and well-organised team and will be favourites on Sunday. We have done our homework and are aware of their many qualities," said Mrdja. "That said, we did not make it all the way to the final simply to fall over. We will play without fear and use all our wits to win the game on Sunday ... with a bit of luck, I'm quietly confident we can spring a surprise."
A strong home record has been countered by some unflattering away results this year for Stirling whose coach, Willie Herd, has no intention of drafting in first team players just to win his club a trophy. "It would appear that there are no rules regarding who can play in the final so theoretically we could choose players from the first team. However, that would not be in the spirit of the game and I have a lot of faith in the players who have played for me this season," he said. "I know that Bayswater will be up for it and we are looking forward to a tough encounter."
The semi-final thrashing of Mandurah City was highlighted by a hat-trick from Jakes Geddes who, unfortunately, has not played since due to injury. Liam Bolond will be pivotal up-front with Stirling's midfield drive provided by Jason Trpeski and Remo Venditti. "The boys have trained well this week and are looking forward to the Cup Final. We've beaten an amateur, First Division and two Premier League sides on the way to the final and we hope to continue the club's good Cup tradition," he said. "The aim is to involve the guys that got us there, unfortunately, a couple will be unavailable due to work commitments but the Stirling youth policy is strong and there are a couple of under-18 players capable of stepping up."
FUTURE STARS SET TO SHINE IN YOUTH CUP FINAL
Soccer Pools Youth Cup Final : Inglewood United v Swan United (Referee: Josh Mihevc)
Sunday's Youth Cup Final is an all Premier League affair with Inglewood United up against Swan United at Dorrien Gardens (10.00am). Inglewood defeated three First Division sides on the way to qualifying for the big occasion, a run which includes pipping Fremantle Spirit in a nine-goal semi-final thriller. "The players have been looking forward to this game for seven weeks since we reached the final," said George Rimpas, coach of Inglewood. "We've been preparing for Sunday's game and, like all teams, we've had injuries but with them all clearing up now we have a full squad to choice from - that's a good selection headache to have."
Lee Carr has been terrific in the middle of the park for Rimpas, Mamadee Toure would so dearly like to add to his 14 regular season goals while Henock Butshiire, brother of Perth Glory Youth striker Million, is another capable of turning the game in the blink of an eye. Inglewood defeated Swan in both league games this season, however, Rimpas says Cup Final football is a completely different kettle of fish. "Previous games are not a true reflection. Yes, we go in with a psychological edge on the Swans, but all grand finals are tight and whoever plays well on the day will come out on top," said the Inglewood boss.
Winning the Cup can go someway to erasing the memory of an otherwise poor season by Swan, who registered only four wins from 22 regular season outings to finish second from bottom by the narrowest of margins. "We've struggled in the league, we've been in most games this season but little mistakes have cost us dearly," said coach Gary Mateljan. "We've had a few players from the reserves and first team playing for us in the Cup which has given us some much needed experience, and they have blended well with the talented youngsters we have at the club."
The player to watch in the final third is Niall Hughes, Shane Webb was instrumental in Swan's qualification for the final, while there's a bright future in the game for team captain and defensive mainstay Braid Craig. Karl Breen scored late to see off Cockburn City by the odd goal in the semi-finals, and Mateljan believes Sunday's match will be just as close. "We battled hard with ten men in the semis and won through, the squad got some much needed confidence with that victory," said Mateljan. "We've been beaten twice by Inglewood this season so we go into the game as underdogs, but one thing is for sure everyone will be trying their best to bring the Cup back to Francis Street."
GLORY ATTACK TO QUELL FURY (courtesy Perth Glory)
Perth Glory coach David Mitchell could unleash one of his most attacking line-ups of the season with striker Eugene Dadi recalled to an extended squad for Saturday’s clash against North Queensland Fury at ME Bank Stadium. Dadi, Glory’s joint-leading scorer last season, hasn’t played a senior game since the opening day of the season but returned to action with the youth team last weekend. “Eugene has been training hard and there is a chance he could come back into the squad,” Mitchell said. “It was important that he got some match time with the youth team last week and he is now in a position where we can look to bring him back into the team.”
Glory coaching staff could be forgiven for not wanting to tinker with a squad that secured consecutive victories on the road and elevated the side to second on the ladder. “People talk about not changing a winning side and sometimes that has a lot of merit but you always look to see if you can tweak the side to make it better,” Mitchell said. “It’s nice to get a couple of wins under our belts but we’re not going to get carried away and still have a lot of things to work on. We need to make sure we pick up the points at home now and make that advantage count.”
Glory are unbeaten in three starts at ME Bank Stadium this season, however, they will need to be on their toes against a Fury side that, despite propping up the ladder, has the quality in their ranks to deny the home side victory. “They’re a good side, better than what the league table suggests,” said Mitchell. “They have some great players playing for them and it is a game where we’ll need to be very cautious. Our players know the score, I’ll make sure I reinforce that, but they know that anyone can beat anyone in this league. We’re determined not to slip up against a side that will be hungry to show they belong higher on the ladder.”
AIS TACKLE GLORY YOUTH
Perth Glory Youth return home determined to continue their winning form after notching a maiden victory last weekend. The home grown youngsters tackle the Australian Institute of Sport, who feature West Australian trio Eli Babalj, Scott Mellish and Trent Sainsbury, on Sunday with coach Gareth Naven expecting a tough encounter. “The AIS has a fine tradition of producing quality players and they’ll be out to show their talents against our developing youngsters,” said Naven. “It is a great challenge for our team but one we’re looking forward to undertaking. We’ll be out there to play some entertaining football in front of our home supporters.”
Perth has been on the road for the past fortnight and will suit up at home for just the second time this season. Naven is slowly regaining the services of his players following local club commitments, however, niggling injuries mean half of his 16-man squad are unavailable. Senior players Jimmy Downey and Scott Bulloch will ine-up for the youth team this weekend alongside Steve Hesketh, Ryan Pearson, David Price and Australian youth international Cameron Edwards. Glory Youth take on the AIS from 12.45pm on Sunday at ME Bank Stadium as the curtain-rasier to the A-League meeting of Perth Glory and North Queensland Fury.
GLORY WOMEN WANT RESPECT (courtesy Perth Glory)
John Gibson is searching for respect for his team when Perth Glory Women take on Melbourne Victory in the W-League season opener at Etihad Stadium this Saturday. Glory have a number of new faces in the squad including former Matildas goalkeeper Emma Wirkus, Queensland defender Elissia Canham and American import Alex Singer, but Gibson feels the team need to earn the respect of the competition after last season's seventh placed finish. "To improve on last year is goal number one and for the group as a whole it's about gaining respect in the competition and challenging for the top four," said Gibson. "The girls have worked consistently hard over a long period of time now and there has been some major improvement ahead of this first game."
Matildas Lisa De Vanna and Collette McCallum only joined the squad this week and it will be up to Gibson and the coaching staff to integrate them quickly ahead of the weekend game. "We have developed a fair bit from last year, there are a lot of things that are different regarding the organisation (of the team), but we have a few days now to get amongst it, talk to them, and get them on the same wavelength as the rest of the team," Gibson commented. "We've done a fair bit of homework on scouting the opposition, they've got a few players who are slightly different to last year. We are well aware of what they do and we think we can combat their game."
LONGSTAFF SIGNS OFF
One of the state's most knowledgeable and experienced coaches, Frank Longstaff, made a graceful exit from football by guiding Canning City for the final time last weekend. Longstaff coached at every level and enjoyed many successes during a remarkable 27-year career on the local stage, which has been brought to a close by work commitments. "The game on Saturday against Cockburn was my final one as coach of Canning," said Longstaff, who soon commences a fly in, fly out job in Karratha. "I've coached in West Australia since I arrived in 1982 and enjoyed every minute of it, the good times and the bad."
Ending his six-year tenure as coach of Canning was a tough decision for Longstaff, who has every faith in the club returning to the top flight. "Football is a passion for me so I will always be around the game when time permits," he said. "Leaving Canning is a big wrench, it has been a part of my life for six years but I'm certain the club will bounce back bigger and stronger for the experience. In Malcolm and Billy Watson they have two extremely passionate Canning men and the wheels are already in motion for the necessary changes to get the club back where they belong."
2009 didn't go anywhere near to plan for Longstaff. The season was only a couple of weeks old when the Canning coach was sent off for an on-field incident at Swan United which, after investigation by Football West, resulted it the respected coach being slapped with a two-year suspension. "I was devastated to receive the lengthy ban - which is still a mystery to me - but I had to take it on the chin," he said. "It had a massive impact on myself, the club and the players. I gave it my all, albeit under trying circumstances, but having no contact with the players on match days took away my strength of man management."
And although Canning bounced back to sit in the top five after eleven games, the teams' failure to win in the second half of the winter resulted in a dramatic slide into the relegation mire. "We started the season with a large squad but by halfway the season through injury and players returning to the UK left us threadbare. The players that remained gave there all for the cause but in the end just came up short," said Longstaff. "In hindsight, I would only sign overseas players who had come to Australia to play football, as when it came to the crunch we were extremely stretched for the last few weeks of the season."
Longstaff spent two years on the books of each Newcastle United and Burnley before "drifting around the non-League in my native North East mostly with limited success." He headed down under in the early 1980's and cut his coaching teeth through spells with Bunbury Dynamos, Bunbury City and Windsor Athletic. Two successful years at Ferndale United reaped the 1990 First Division championship, and preceded spells in charge of Kelmscott Roos, North Perth Croatia and the State Women's team. Longstaff captured another First Division title in 1997 with Southside United before an extended period as coach of the State junior teams and a year with Kwinana United. In 2004 he was appointed coach of Canning in 2004 and last year steered the club to the First Division championship.
There have been a myriad of highs in Longstaff's career, amongst them the trio of league titles and five years as a State junior team coach. "Winning the league with Ferndale, Southside and Canning are obvious highlights, as was taking the State Under-15 team to the semi-finals of the National titles in 2001," said Longstaff, who twelve months ago was recognised as the First Division Coach of the Year. "But what means most to me are the many, many people I can call true friends as a result of football. I'm extremely proud of staying in the game for the length of time I have and, hopefully, I've influenced a few football careers over the years."
A few players sprang instantly to mind when Longstaff was asked who are the players that have really stood out over the years. "While based in Bunbury in 1983, a 15-year old Alan Armstrong impressed me, he went on to represent the State and won many titles with Stirling Macedonia. Alan Hind was the strongest, toughest defender I have seen who could also play a bit," said Longstaff. "From my State days, Tony Naglieri and Jon Higgins are among the most skilful players I have worked with, both could play at A-League level, and Sean Kilkelly and Daryl Platten are both great players and very good leaders."
Longstaff then singled out three of this seasons' Canning squad for special praise. "Paul Oliver has everything, his fitness lets him down but there is no better or more skilful player in WA," said Longstaff, who pieced together his squad over a number of years. "Paul van Dongen proved his worth this season in the Premier League, he makes some fantastic runs from midfield and is still improving so I expect a lot from him over the next few years. And Devon Spence is as good a goalkeeping prospect as I have seen - either here or in the UK."
INGLEWOOD CRAVES FINAL VICTORY
Jason Colli says lifting the Soccer Pools Cup on Sunday afternoon would be the perfect way for Inglewood United to finish what has been a very trying twelve months for the inner city club. "It's very important for us to win the Cup as it will give us a lot of confidence heading into the next season after year that we have had," said Colli, who made his State team debut at the start of the year. "To have three coaches in a season is always a difficult time but credit to the players, coaching staff and the club that we have kept playing and now have a chance to turn it all around."
Inglewood began 2009 with Lee Bamber at the helm, Alan Vest took over but then stood down in mid-August to be replaced by Shane Pryce. So it comes as no surprise that the continual chopping and changing of players and styles had a detrimental effect on the teams regular season placing of seventh. "Having three coaches has been difficult as the team has never been able to settle to a particular style of coaching," said Colli. "Since Prycee has become coach I feel he has got the team to play for each other, which is one of the main reasons why we have only lost one game in the last six."
And it's that momentum that Colli's feels can get Inglewood over the line on Sunday. "I think defensively as a unit we are getting stronger, we work well as a team and everyone is prepared to help out their team mates when the going gets tough," said Colli, who regularly uses his pace to drive his team into attack down the right wing. "We have had a good run at the end of the season due to Prycee coming in as coach. He's got us playing a system that suits our squad as everyone knows what he expects when you're out on the park."
Colli does not under-estimate the monumental task that faces Inglewood, the pre-game underdog, on Sunday. "All the Floreat players are comfortable on the ball, which helps them play a good brand of football. And they are very good across the pitch, starting from defence going all the way to their forward line so it will be a tough game for us," he said. "I don't think there is any one player that requires special attention as they are a good team collectively, we just have to go out there and believe that we can win and give it everything we have."
Inglewood's late, if unsuccessful charge for a top five finish served the dual purpose of fine-tuning the team for Cup Final day. "The feeling in the camp is excitement - we know this is a great opportunity to bring home a trophy. A lot of work has gone into this game and after the season we have had we intend to go out on high note and give it our best," Colli said. "Both teams have a good argument to be the ones with their hands on the trophy at the end the game but hopefully our desire to win will get us over the line."
A single goal has decided ten of the past eleven Cup Finals - two of which have gone to a penalty shoot-out. Colli expects the game at Dorrien Gardens to be just as close with very little separating the sides at the end of the day. "I feel the game will be won in the middle of the park, if our midfielders can get on top I'm sure that will go a long way in swinging it our way," said Colli. "The final is going to be a tight affair as both teams know each other very well. The last game we played each other it ended in a 2-2 draw so Sunday should be a cracker of a game."
MOMENTUM CAN CARRY FLOREAT TO CUP GLORY
This weekend’s Soccer Pools Cup Final can’t come around quick enough for the players of Floreat Athena according to midfielder Branimir Mikulic. "The boys have been excited for a number of weeks now and can't wait to play on Sunday. Training has been intense and there is a good camaraderie amongst all the boys," he said. "We have a very strong squad and we have proven over the course of the year that we are tough to beat. We had a bit of a rough patch in the second half of the season but have hit form at the right time."
Mikulic feels Floreat have the strength across the park to end their bridesmaids run. "It's very important for us to win this Cup final, we've been unlucky in the last couple of Night Series finals and I think the players are a little more experienced and more determined for success," explained Mikulic. "Our defence in recent weeks has definitely been stronger and more settled, the midfield is super-fit with a lot of creativity and our forwards are work horses who are very capable of scoring goals."
Even though they finished third, 2009 was a disappointment in terms of league success for Floreat who were touted by many as championship material in pre-season. "There were a lot of injuries throughout the season and players coming and going. It really unsettled the team and caused a lot of inconsistency in our game," said Mikulic when asked why his team didn't live up to expectations. "But in saying that, we always believed in our ability as a team and we know on a good day for Floreat we can more than match it with any team in this competition."
Floreat kept pace with eventual premiers Western Knights and runners-up Perth SC for the first half of the season but slipped off the pace after winning just once in seven games. Thankfully, that streak was ended by a four-game unbeaten run which completed their home and away commitments. "We have definitely hit form at the right time," commented Mikulic. "We still have a chance to be one of the most successful teams throughout the whole course of the year - a finalist in the Night Series, winner in the Cup, and possible winner of the Top Five."
Bu in order to do that Floreat must first see off a very young and skilful Inglewood line-up under rookie coach Shane Pryce. "They are a very talented side with a great goalkeeper, Oliver Taseski, and a strong midfield. We know they can cause a lot of problems if given too much space in the centre of the park and down their right," commented Mikulic. "Inglewood has a number of players that can have an impact on the game, but I think if we can close down Mladen Kovacevic and Michael Baczynski we will have a better chance of winning. They have both scored some great goals against us over the last couple of meetings and are players to watch."
Mikulic is tipping Sunday's game to be a tight affair with very little separating the sides at the end of the afternoon. "It will definitely be a hard, physical game and I think the team that scores first will win - it should be a cracker of a game," said Mikulic, before pondering where on the park the game be decided. "Whoever wins the midfield battle will win the game. Inglewood has proven they can beat any team in this league and we definitely have a number of players that can turn the game, players like Callum Roberts, Daniel Neiderberger, Jason Barrera and Miki Vujacic can produce something out of nothing."
GLORY TRIO MISS OUT ON SOCCEROOS SELECTION
Australia's big guns will return for the Socceroos' home matches against the Netherlands and Oman this month but there is no place in the squad for Perth Glory trio Mile Sterjovski, Jacob Burns and Chris Coyne. Overseas-based stars Harry Kewell, Tim Cahill and Lucas Neill were today included in Pim Verbeek's 24-man squad which includes only two A-League players, a worrying sign for the home-based stars with the World Cup now just eight months away. While the decision means Burns, Sterjovski and Coyne will be available for Glory's clash with Adelaide United, they will be clearly disappointed at missing out on a chance to impress against the Dutch. Shane Lowry receives his first Socceroos call-up since choosing to pursue his international football career future with Australia, joining fellow West Australian Rhys Williams in the squad.
The Australia squad to play the Netherlands and Oman is Brett Holman (AZ Alkmaar), Mile Jedinak (Antalyaspor Kulubu), Scott Chipperfield (FC Basel), Brett Emerton, Vincenzo Grella (Blackburn Rovers), Craig Moore (Brisbane Roar), Scott McDonald (Celtic), Nick Carle (Crystal Palace), Luke Wilkshire (Dinamo Moscow), Ante Covic (IF Elfsborg), Tim Cahill, Lucas Neill (Everton), Mark Schwarzer (Fulham), Harry Kewell (Galatasaray), Jason Culina (Gold Coast United), Carl Valeri (Grosseto), Patrick Kisnorbo (Leeds United), Rhys Williams (Middlesbrough), Josh Kennedy (Nagoya Grampus), Dario Vidosic (Nurnberg) , Mark Bresciano (Palermo), Shane Lowry (Plymouth Argyle), Mark Milligan (Shanghai Shenhua) and David Carney (FC Twente).
MORLEY CLARIFY KILKELLY'S SACKING
Morley Windmills have sought to clarify the sacking of coach Tom Kilkelly by saying it was a decision of the club committee as a whole, and not an individual member. "It was a committee decision to terminate the position of the coach and team manager," said club official Colin Van Wijngaarden in response to last week's interview with Kilkelly, who felt he'd been continually undermined by the actions of a single committee member. "At Windmills all the decisions are made by the committee and not one person, unlike what was quoted last week."
The axe fell on Kilkelly on the last weekend of August and, a month later, he is still waiting to be told what lead the club to show him the door. "Tom's dismissal did not have anything to do with player or coaching payments," is all Van Wijngaarden could say on the matter. In the meantime, Morley's plans for next season are gathering momentum with Peter Johnston, a former State team player and member of the club's 1973 champinship winning side, taking over as coach from Jamie Goodman, who filled the role for the final weeks of this season on a caretaker basis.
MATILDAS DUO TO ADD POLISH TO SQUAD
Collette McCallum and Lisa De Vanna have agreed to pull on the purple of the Perth Glory Women for a second season hot on the heels of a successful stay in the United States of America. And in another coup for the club, American and Washington Freedom defender Alex Singer has agreed terms for season two of the W-League. Glory officials are hopeful of having the necessary paperwork completed with Football Federation Australia to allow the star trio to play in this weekend’s opening game of the new season against Melbourne Victory at Etihad Stadium.
McCallum was part of the Sky Blues squad that won the inaugural Women’s Professional Soccer league in August, when her team defeated Los Angeles Sol 1-0 in the final. McCallum made 20 appearances for Sky Blue and was an instrumental part of the championship winning team. De Vanna returned six goals in 20 games for Freedom, who progressed to the finals where they were eliminated by Sky Blue 2-1. “Collette and Lisa, as two of the best players in the world, were a big priority for us in finalising our squad, so we are delighted that they have agreed to come back to Perth,” said coach John Gibson.
Also joining from Freedom is 21-year old Alex Singer, who will add to Glory’s defensive stocks as the team looks to clinch its first finals appearance. “Alex Singer is another great signing; she is very athletic, plays anywhere in the backline and comes highly recommended by Lisa and her coach at the Freedom,” said Gibson. “The depth we have now in the squad is excellent, and getting the right sort of balance with the squad was a major priority for us.” Gibson has also added inaugural squad members Katarina Jukic and Ciara Conway along with 15-year old Subiaco United goalkeeper Zoe Palandri, bringing to 18 the current player roster.
THE ROAD TO THE CUP FINAL
The biggest game on the local football calendar - the Soccer Pools Cup Final - takes place this weekend at Dorrien Gardens. Floreat Athena have been installed as red-hot favourite to lift the prestigious knock-out trophy, however, first they must first find a way past an Inglewood United outfit giving their all to make up for a disappointing year. Both clubs worked hard in negotiating their way through to the Final, and who goes that one step further will be decided on Sunday afternoon (kick-off 3.00pm).
Floreat had to come from behind to defeat Swan United 4-1 in March's opening Cup round. David Paone's stunning goal early in the second half put the visitors the box seat, however, the teams were soon level thanks to Branimir Mikulic before an own goal by Costa Socratous and two late David Foster efforts gave Floreat victory. The going was just as tough for Inglewood who squeezed past a spirited University of WA 2-1 in an error-riddled encounter at Clipsal Stadium. Alex Cocking's 113th minute finish decided the outcome after first half goals by Louis Parkinson and Diego Garcia cancelled the other out.
It was no easier for either Floreat or Inglewood, both sneaking into the last eight with 1-0 wins against lower-ranked opposition. A stubborn Gosnells City defence held Inglewood at bay until just after the hour when veteran Kevin Griffiths netted at close-range. The following afternoon John Migas snatched Floreat a hard-fought 1-0 win away at amateur side Spearwood Dalmatinac. Other Round Two highlights included Stirling Lions thrilling 3-2 defeat of Sorrento and Shamrock Rovers surprise win at Morley Windmills. Western Knights quest for back-to-back Cups was kept on track by a 6-1 spanking of Balcatta.
Inglewood defeated a gallant Shamrock Rovers 4-3 in a classic Cup quarter-final at Clipsal Stadium. Graham Byrne gave Shamrock a dream start by scoring after 6 minutes only to have Inglewood draw level through Rory Grant. Nick Carrol and Barry Mulligan put the visitors in control before the latter was sent off, and Grant scored his second just before the break. Substitute Mladen Kovacevic snatched a last gasp equaliser before Shane Pryce scored the dramatic extra-time winner. Callum Roberts and Foster got the goals in Floreat's 2-1 win at Armadale, for whom James Robinson found the net. The other quarter-finals had Stirling surprise Perth SC 5-4, while South West Phoenix went down 4-0 to the Knights.
Josip Magdic booked Floreat a Cup Final date at the expense of Stirling Lions on a chilly afternoon at Frank Drago Reserve. The solitary goal arrived after 11 minutes, Brad Scott's centring pass side-footed in from a few metres by an unmarked Magdic. Inglewood pulled off a major upset by eliminating trophy holders the Knights 3-2 at Dalmatinac Park. Dannie Richman's early strike was by a Stuart Ferguson own goal before substitute Karl O'Reilly reduced the deficit in the second half. Aaron Colli opportunistically restored his team's two-goal buffer, and two minutes later was sent off, with O'Reilly bagging the Knights second close to the end.
GLORY GIRLS CONFIDENT
Perth Glory Women defender Carys Hawkins says the club will benefit from an uninterrupted pre-season for this year’s W-League campaign. The team’s preparation for the league’s second instalment had been much smoother than last year, where the playing squad was still being finalised as the season approached. Hawkins said there was a settled feeling in the camp ahead of Saturday’s opener against Melbourne Victory. “Everyone is definitely feeling a lot more prepared going into this season,” she commented. “Being able to have a far more thorough build-up this year has given us a lot of confidence for the season ahead.”
Hawkins is looking forward to playing in front of new goalkeeper Emma Wirkus, whose experience with the Matildas will be invaluable for the young defensive unit. “It’s terrific to have someone who has played at that high level, because they demand so much of their teammates,” Hawkins said of the club’s new signing. “Defensively, it will help the team an awful lot, and that’s one area we will really look to improve in.” This week’s game at Etihad Stadium will serve as a curtain-raiser for the A-League clash between Melbourne Victory and Brisbane Roar. “We’ll be nervous because we haven’t played at the ground before, but it will be really exciting all the same,” Hawkins added.
WILLIAMS RUES LATE BORO SLIP-UP
Middlesbrough defender Rhys Williams admitted his first club goal was soured by conceding a late equaliser in Saturday's 2-2 draw with Coventry City. Williams, 21, grabbed his teams second just before the break only for Boro to let their lead slip with the Sky Blues equalizing in injury-time. "I'd rather take the three points than score a goal," he told BBC Tees. "It's nice to get my first goal, we should have won, we were 2-0 up and it's heartbreaking to draw."
Boro's attempt to climb back to the top of the Championship was dented by the loss, although West Bromwich Albion's defeat by Crystal Palace means the Teessiders remain in sight of the summit. "It's a long season, teams do get tired, we can climb back to the top and we've got the players to do it, it's just getting back in the winning mentality," Williams said. "If we'd won today, then we would be buzzing all the way home and looking forward to Tuesday, now we're looking forward to Tuesday but we've got to go and do a job now."
FINALISTS SET TO MAKE HISTORY
Neither Floreat Athena nor Inglewood United are strangers to the occasion that is Cup Final day. Floreat, one of the State League's oldest clubs having been formed in 1951, have won the knock-out competition four times from seven final appearances. Inglewood, formed a year after Sunday's opponent, have qualified for four previous Cup Finals, twice going home with the highly sought after knock-out trophy.
1984 marked Floreat's first ever final when beaten 1-0 by Spearwood Dalmatinac. However, that loss was forgotten within a few years as the club collected a hat-trick of Cups. Paul Wormley inspired his team to a memorable 3-2 win against Stirling Macedonia in 1987, the team captain scoring once and involved in the other two. Twelve months later they snatched a 2-1 win against Bayswater Inter courtesy of a towering extra-time header by John Hunter. Taki Nicolaides had fired Floreat into the lead only to have Frank Smerilli restore parity.
Floreat crushed Perth Italia 3-1 to become only the third team in State League history to win three successive Cup Finals. Two goals from Jeff Curran and another by Brian McHale landed the trophy from a one-sided contest in which Peter Murphy scored for Perth. It would be eight-years before Floreat again lift the Cup, Jason Smith and Peter Coci scoring in a 2-0 win over Stirling Macedonia. Floreat went down 1-0 in the 1999 Cup Final to Inglewood, and further two years down the track surrendered 2-0 to Perth SC.
Inglewood tasted Cup glory at the first attempt, whipping Dalmatinac 5-1 in 1977. The game was actually a lot closer than the score line suggests, Robert Earl (3) and Nick MacCallum (2) scoring their team's complement of goals with Ernie Hannigan netting for the defeated. There wasn't much joy four years later when captain Johnny Davidson was sent off midway through the first half of Inglewood’s 1-0 loss to Perth Azzurri.
Their next appearance also ended in despair, beaten 3-2 by Spearwood Dalmatinac in 1995. It wasn't until 22-years after their first Cup success that Inglewood again lifted the trophy by seeing off Floreat. The afternoon's solitary goal arrived midway through the half when Steve McDonald was judged to have had the last touch at an untidy corner. The game further enhanced the reputation of then 20-year old Floreat defender Troy Bernard, whose sparkling performance was rewarded with the man of the match award.
O'CALLAGHAN GETS THE BOOT – FOR A SECOND TIME!
Phil O'Callaghan has become only the fourth player in thirty years to win back-to-back Golden Boots as the Premier League's top goal scorer. A lively striker with a predator's eye for goal, O'Callaghan netted seven times in eight appearance for Stirling Lions to finish the winter with 15 goals, the first eight of which were scored at Mandurah City in the first part of the season. He joins Len Dundo (Kingsway Olympic, 1977 and 1978), Frank Bate (Perth Italia, 1992 and 1993) and Branimir Mikulic (Cockburn City, 2001 and 2002) as the only players to finish successive seasons as the top flight's leading marksman.
O'Callaghan's 15 goal-haul put him on top of the pile by a single strike ahead of David Onoforo, who netted a final day double to leapfrog into second spot. Gathered together with 13 goals were young gun Tommy Amphlett (ECU Joondalup), English import James Robinson (Armadale) and retiring Swan United great Damien Scali. Western Knights pair Mario Marcinko and Anthony Campbell finished with a dozen goals each alongside side Branimir Mikulic of Cup finalists Floreat Athena. Canning City captain Paul Van Dongen and Johny Mirco, who winter was split between Cockburn City and Floreat, came in with 11 goals, which was one more than Perth's summer recruit Phil Arnold.
The trophy as the First Division's leading goal scorer has been won by Ashley Rosendale, whose 25-goals were a major factor in Balcatta topping the table. David Rodgers celebrated his return to South West Phoenix by netting 20 times, once more than Wanneroo City's Brian Cairney who missed a sizeable chunk of the season through suspension. 14 goals gave Darren Francis (Gosnells City) fourth place ahead of Jordan Hart (Forrestfield United) and Bobby Klenkoski (Balcatta) who both netted on 13 occasions. Steve Suttie (South West) and Ryan Jeans (Bayswater City) had 12 goals, one more than Ravi Kuppusamy (Fremantle Spirit) and Jake Harman (Morley Windmills).
WILLIAMS TO CO-CAPTAIN CANBERRA
Canberra United will split its leadership duties between defender Ellie Brush and goalkeeper Lydia Williams for the coming W-League season. With less than a week until kick off against the Brisbane Roar, Katanning-born Williams is thrilled to be sharing the role with Brush. “I think that maybe the pressure during the game might take some getting used to but as far as being a leader I’ve been in a lot of tough games so I think it will probably come pretty naturally,” said Williams, whose worn the captains armband for the Young Matildas. “It’s a big responsibility, you have to lead the team when the times are tough during the game but I’m pretty certain I’m ready for the challenge. I believe I’m experienced enough to be able to deal with those challenges that come my way but it’s also going to be a challenge in itself.”
ANDO HANGS UP HIS BOOTS
Defensive midfielder Dom Ando has joined Swan United team mate Damian Scali in retirement. Ando, 35, made formal his decision last week and stepped out as a player for the last time in the black and whites win/loss to Floreat Athena on Saturday. "I've been playing the game I love for 31-years now so the decision to retire was difficult, but I believe I've had a good run in the game and I'll look forward to watching on a Saturday from now," said Ando, who played 19 years with Perth Azzurri followed by spells at Bayswater City, Inglewood United, Fremantle City, Bassendean Caledonian and Swan.
Ando has enjoyed pitting skills against and partnering the best the local scene has to offer through out his career. "I've had many battles on the park, I've won some and lost some but I always gave 100%," he said. "The most difficult opponent in the league, it's hard to pinpoint one player as there have been many, but one that stands out is Scott Miller due to his pace getting down the line. I've played alongside many talented players, probably the best would be Alan McKenzie as his fitness and ability to read the game was outstanding. And I'd have to include Robert Zabica in goals as well."
Swans coach Paul Lincoln praised Ando, who has been a consistently strong performer during his two years in charge of the black and whites. "Dom has had a terrific career and has been able to get the most out of himself," said Lincoln. "He played a more defensive role in the team which suited his game and he is a strong tackler, who could hit the ball well with both feet, and although not noted for his goals, when he did score they were top shelf. Dom you have had a fantastic career which you should be proud of."
Ando called the Swan Italian Club home for the last four seasons of his career and wishes the black and whites the very best of luck going forward. "The local game has been great to play in (and) I've enjoyed being at Swan," said Ando, who made his State League debut in midfield for Perth at the age of 18. "A highlight for me would be my thunderbolt against Inglewood a couple of years ago to earn us a 2-2 drew. I will miss the team bonding nights at Francis Street and the team trips - but I will not miss pre-season training at the Bickley concentration camp!"
GLORY LEAVE TIPSTERS WITH RED FACES (courtesy the 'West Australia')
Perth Glory's determination to prove wrong local pundits provided additional motivation before the A-League club's 1-0 win over Newcastle Jets at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Friday, according to midfielder Adriano Pellegrino. Last season's Most Glorious Player revealed how players had commented at breakfast about the predictions of a panel of eastern States tipsters in the 'Newcastle Herald' newspaper. "You don't pay too much attention to the papers but there were about ten tips from different people and none of them tipped us to win or a draw," Pellegrino told Jonathon Cook of the 'West Australia'. "They all tipped Newcastle."
The predictions appeared likely to be on the mark as the Jets enjoyed a greater share of possession and created the better chances before Glory's marquee player Mile Sterjovski was brought down in the box by goalkeeper Ben Kennedy. Sterjovski, whose penalty against Central Coast Mariners three weeks ago was saved but he redeemed himself by scoring the rebound, made sure at the first attempt this time for an 81st-minute winner. It was Glory's second successive away victory after last weekend's 4-2 win over Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium and seemed to confirm an end to the travel woes that dogged the team last season.
Glory's two victories from five matches on the road this campaign is already better than the one win they managed during eleven away fixtures last season. "It's just the frame of mind. It's about having self-belief," Pellegrino said of the difference between the 2008/09 and current campaigns. "Last season we weren't confident that we could get a result (away from home) but we know we can now." Glory next take on Robbie Fowler's North Queensland Fury at ME Bank Stadium on Saturday, before a home fixture with Adelaide United on 9 October.
PERTH'S MAKAROUNAS CALLED UP FOR AUSTRALIA
Teenager Jessie Makarounas will don national team colours early next month when Australia take part in the AFC Under-16 Championship qualifiers in Canberra. The highly-rated 15-year old, who played twice for the Joeys against Japan in April, was selected from a pool of 45 players that attended a recent series of training camps. "Han Berger (FFA National Technical Director), Jan Versleijen (FFA National Youth Coach) and I looked at around 45 players over four training camps to select this final squad of 23 players,” said Joeys coach Jean-Paul de Marigny, whose team twice plays each Malaysia and Laos in qualifiers.
The Australia squad for upcoming AFC Under-16 Championship qualifiers is Kobbie Boahene (Altona East), Milos Degenek (Blacktown City Demons), Hernan Espindola (Brimbank), Corey Brown (Brisbane City), Andrew Mullett (Bulleen Lions), Brodie Paterson (Chelsea), Kwame Yeboah (Gold Coast), Luke Remington, Abe Wheelhouse (Macquarie), Alex Cerruto, Aaron Liddell, Yianni Perkatis, Lachlan Tibbles (Marconi Stallions), Jesse Makarounas (Perth SC), Connor Chapman, Samuel Chapple, Joshua Da Silva, Gancarlo Gallifuoco, Stevan Ilic, Hayden Morton, Daniel Sadaka (Sutherland Sharks), Jakob Williams (Tuggeranong United) and Jake Monaco (Western Strikers).
SO CLOSE FOR BALGA (courtesy ‘inmycommunity.com.au’)
Balga Senior High School has fallen one win short of claiming its inaugural State Schoolboys championship after a heartbreaking 2-0 loss to Australind Senior High School in last week’s grand final. Balga had gone through the two-term tournament undefeated and were looking the goods to be crowned the best of the 84 schools in competition. But a missed penalty and the sending-off of captain Rufail Bundu for a second yellow card cost the side dearly in the competition decider, held recently at Litis Stadium.
The Australind side got on the board ten minutes after half-time through Matt Spurling with Josh Harvey sealing victory close to the final whistle. Balga coach and soccer co-ordinator Rob Milevski said the side had failed to capitalise on its opportunities. “We felt our preparation was excellent leading into the game,” he said. “We topped our group and played some very tough schools in the knockout phase and were able to get through. But our opponents took their chances on the day and unfortunately we didn’t. We fought right to the end, but it just wasn’t meant to be.”
Milevski praised the efforts of his side’s younger players, including 15-year olds Lawrence Shuruma, Boas Mtwale, and Moses Kalau, who will remain with the team for next year’s premiership tilt. “We played a much younger squad than most other schools, so it bodes well for the future of the program at Balga,” said the coach. “Most of the boys in the team will be with us next year and we will hopefully be much better for the experience.” The Balga team included students from several African countries, including Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda and the Congo.
ONOFORO AT THE DOUBLE
Perth SC ended their season strongly with a convincing 2-0 win over Premier League minor premiers Western Knights at Dorrien Gardens. David Onoforo's first half double took his season total to 14 goals and was enough to see off the Knights' challenge throughout the afternoon. It was two very different looking sides that took to the field, Perth ravaged by injury and the Knights without suspended stars Anthony Campbell and Okwy Diamondstar. A promising start by the visitors had Duuane Hepburn sent clear by a long ball over the defence but the big striker lifted well high with only goalkeeper Luke Martino to beat. There was no such wastage by Onoforo who, on the quarter hour, swivelled brilliantly on top of the 18-yard box to volley across Fraser Siddall and inside the far bottom corner after Tristan Bekkouche touched the ball out to him.
Perth's defence held firm under mouting pressure as the Knights went looking to equalise. Simon Wilson cleared from inside the 6-yard box before Karl O'Reilly had time to react, David Micevski had a shot blocked by the defence and Hepburn should have done better with a free header. Perth added to their lead on 38 minutes, an exquisite sequence of first time touches between Niall Shelley and Bekkouche being finishsed by Onoforo, who placed neatly past Siddall from 8-metres. The Knights had some opportunities to pull a goal back but O'Reilly fired past the target and Hepburn's explosive effort on the run was spectacularly kept out of the top corner by Martino. Sandwiched between these was a brilliant save by Siddall which denied Onoforo his hat-trick.
The Knights started the second half brightly with David Micevski delivering an inch-perfect corner onto the head of Francis Odong but somehow Martino managed to keep the ball out of his net. With the game now opening up, the visitors wasted a series of clear-cut opportunities to put themselves back in the hunt. Second half substitute Daniel Francis scooped high from a couple of metres after getting on the end of a long diagonal ball. Hepburn was unable to get enough of a touch to direct a cross goalbound, then Micevski's centre for Daniel Trim was pulled wide of the post. Onoforo could have scored again but touched the ball straight at Siddall, who'd come to the top of this area. The Knights day was best summed up Francis sprayed high and wide after being found unmarked by a fine looping ball into the area by Micevski.
MIKULIC LEAVES IT LATE FOR FLOREAT
A goal five minutes into stoppage time by midfielder Branimir Mikulic stole Floreat Athena a 1-1 draw with Swan United at the Swan Italian Club. It was looked as though Floreat, who totally dominated the second stanza, would go home empty handed before Mikulic headed in to earn a share of the points. “The second half we piled on the pressure but we couldn’t beat Cory Hugo, who made some outstanding saves,” said Mikulic. “We left it a bit late but I thought we were patient and didn’t panic and we got the goal which gives us a lift going into next weeks Cup Final.”
It was a great day for football with Floreat first to go close, Bachiller’s long-range shot after 3 minutes saved by Hugo. With Damian Scali and Dom Ando announcing their retirement leading into the game, Swan wanted to celebrate the veteran pair with a victory. Stephen Guest flashed a volley well side, while John Mansaray got to the ball ahead of Alex Dunn but his effort rolled agonisingly past the post. Swan’s pressure paid off on 22 minutes when Hugo’s long clearance was flicked on by Scali and Mansaray streaked clear to fired low past Dunn.
It should have been two-nil after Simon Williams run down the right ended with him centring for Mansaray, who skipped past John Migas but with only Dunn to beat he fired wide. Floreat steadied and began to get back into the game, and from James Isaia’s cross Callum Roberts placed wide on the half-hour. Both sides had chances as the tempo lifted. Ando’s long-range shot curled just past the post, while Brad Scott’s header was saved low by Hugo. But it was the visitors who ended the half on top and in stoppage time Migas’ cross from the right was headed narrowly high by Mikulic.
Floreat started the second half as they finished the first, Mikulic having a header cleared away by Robert Monterosso with Bachiller’s follow-up saved low by Hugo. Play way one-way as the visitors set up camp in their opponents half. A sizzling Johny Mirco shot was just wide, David Foster’s close-range header was saved by Hugo who, in the 65th minute, somehow kept Mikulic’s header from point blank range out of his net. Mikulic was denied again ten minutes later, Hugo palming away a goal bound shot. Floreat were totally dominating and Mirco’s cross from the right found Bachiller but he headed over from close-range.
Completely against the run of play, Swan fashioned a chance when Scali flicked on to Mansaray who rounded Dunn only to have Migas cleared his shot off the line. Time was running out for the visitors and on 89 minutes Bachiller’s corner fell to Foster, his crisp attempt was brilliantly saved by Hugo with Mirco’s follow-up blocked by David McNally. Hugo’s heroics continued into stoppage time, the keeper spectacularly denying Roberts twice in three minutes. There were 95 minutes on the clock when Floreat’s persistence paid off, Bachiller launching a long throw which Mikulic headed past Hugo much to the delight of the travelling supporters.
MANDURAH MAGIC ENDS INGLEWOOD'S FINALS HOPES (Chris Leitch, Football West)
A moment of pure inspiration by captain Andy Brown assured Mandurah City a second successive finals spot, and in the process extinguished Inglewood United's remote hopes of making the top five. After watching Inglewood's defence repeatedly deny his team, Brown launched an speculative overhead kick from the top of the area which found the net to earn a 1-1 draw at Hyundai Stadium. Dolphins coach Stuart Young said he would have disappointed had he not to come away with a point. "It was one of those games that, no matter how hard you tried or what you did, that ball was not going to go in," he said. "It took something special at the end to get something tangible from a game that we need to get something from. As a coach, I'm not a fan of those situations having to develop but you need a team that's capable of doing that, and we've got that down here."
Inglewood entered the afternoon needing to win big in order to make amends for the worst goal difference of the four teams vying for the two finals up for berths grabs. But it was the home team that asserted the early pressure, Brown’s long ball was glanced wide via the head of Stephen Payne who soon after whipped in a low cross which was bundled past the post by Ryan Townsend. So it was against the run of play that Inglewood went ahead on 16 minutes when Jason Colli’s ball in from the right found Albert Osei-Tutu, who controlled well before drilling into the net from 12-metres. Goalkeeper Phil Staker prevented the margin from being increased steal the ball away from Michael Baczynski, then a neat exchange of passes between Rory Grant and Osei-Tutu ended with the latter firing well high. Mandurah twice went close in quick succession to registering a goal but Taseski paddled over a hooked attempt by Jake Loreto while Christian Pascherwitz’s bullet-like header cannoned back off the crossbar before the goalkeeper had time to react.
Danny Richman wasted a golden chance to make it two-nil early in the second half, spearing the ball high from a few metres after Straker parried a Baczynski cross to his feet. Matt Worton did well to prevent Brown rattling off a shot after he drove out of midfield and into the 18-yard box, while Mark Walsh’s neat header was blocked on the line by Rikki Smith. Mandurah continued to search for an equaliser, Loreto outpaced Sandi Loncar only to shoot straight at the ‘keeper with Smith back to steer the loose ball to safety. Brown was next to waste a chance when he fired wide from an acute angle after receiving possession from Rafael Insaurralde. A rare Inglewood attack put the ball with Baczynski who effortlessly worked some space on top of the box but Straker moved sharply to keep out his explosive drive. The visitor’s failure to clear the ball of their area was punished in the 90th minute when Brown’s hopeful attempt from 14-metres deceived Taseski and bounced into the net.
STIRLING STUMBLE INTO FINALS WITH HEAVY LOSS (by James Wragg, Football West)
Armadale completed the home and away season with a comprehensive 5-2 victory at home to the Stirling Lions who, despite the massive loss, scraped into the finals by finishing one point ahead of Sorrento and Inglewood United. The early stages were largely lacking chances on goal from open play with set pieces posing the greatest threat. Stirling got the breakthrough on 16 minutes when Daniel Stoitis headed in a Marc Anthony corner at the back post. But the lead lasted only twelve minutes before Gary Bunting curled a free-kick around the defensive wall before Rick Brewer diverted it past his own goalkeeper, who had absolutely no chance at keeping the ball out. Stirling fought back from the setback and should have taken the lead once again but Robbie Easton pulled off an incredible instinctive save from Marc Anthony’s point blank header. Armadale took the lead on the stroke of half-time, Kevin Miller spilling a difficult low save which fell to the feet of Bunting who lashed into the empty net.
Stirling were back on level terms seven minutes after the restart thanks to a breakaway attack in which Nadumba Makeche’s lighting pace took him around one defender before slotting coolly past Easton. The Armadale ‘keeper then saved well to deny Jordan Rhodes’ ferocious shot. The Reds had the lead again after 73 minutes, this time through Warren Grieve’s stunning strike from the edge of the 18-yard box. Then on 78 minutes James Robinson scored a fantastic solo goal to put Armadale four-two and give the Stirling coaching staff a new headache with their team facing the prospect of missing out on the finals. The Armadale crowd’s plea for a fifth was answered in the last minute when Robinson received possession on the edge of the box, skipped past his marker then fired into the bottom corner to finish the rout. Stirling prayers were answered when Mandurah scored a late equaliser against Inglewood, who were only moments away from sneaking into the top five.
SORRENTO END NEIGHBOURS' HOPES (by Tim Lefort, Football West)
ECU Joondalup’s hopes of a final’s appearance were ended when northern rival Sorrento registered a win 2-0 at Percy Doyle Reserve. Steve Neville, while disappointed with his team’s final placing of sixth, was pleased with how Sorrento ended the season and was quick to stress it wasn’t a matter of having nothing to play for. “Obviously it was local derby and another thing, we wanted to finish as high as we could,” he said. “And knowing if we got three points today, instead of being fourth bottom, it could push us up to just over halfway. The last three games, we’ve played how Sorrento play - everybody’s worked hard, we’ve grafted. If we could have carried that through the season, but it’s too late ... the table doesn’t lie, we finished where we are because over the 22 games we just weren’t quite good enough.”
Given they needed to win to have any chance of extending their season, it was a rather lacklustre start by Joondalup. In fact, they themselves a goal down after 15 minutes as the Stuart Montgomery coolly slotted past veteran goalkeeper Andy Petterson and into the bottom corner in a one-on-one. And it could have been worse seven minutes later had McDonald not headed over the crossbar when found unmarked. It was nearly midway through the half before the visitors had their first effort but, after a neat touch, Scott Bushby skewed a half-volley well past the target. Both sides were guilty of giving the ball away far too often and a disappointing opening stanza ended with Todd Harnwell firing wide from distance, before Petterson comfortably held Daniel Darras’ drive through a cluster of players.
Joondalup clearly came out after the break displaying greater urgency and were unlucky not to be on level terms when Jamie Watt’s spectacular scissor kick crashed against the upright and ricochet to safety. Watt again went close just before the hour, his close-range volley brilliantly blocked by ‘keeper Cyril Sharrock with Bushby heading the rebound over a gaping net. The visitors continued to press with Jake Benson-Cooper unable to direct a header past Sharrock, who was forced into action again moments later when he parried a blistering drive from 18-metres by Ryan Williams. Sorrento hit back but McDonald couldn’t get enough power behind a header to test Petterson, then the towering striker was guilty of an astonishing miss when he poked Harnwell’s centre across the face of goal from close-range.
Sorrento clearly wanted to end the game early and would have done so had there been someone on hand to apply the finishing touch to Montgomery’s crisp volley that flashed across the 6-yard box. Petterson comfortably held another header from McDonald who, on 75 minutes, was guilty of another glaring miss when his unmarked header to a delightful Montgomery cross was high. Three minutes later McDonald made amends, powerfully heading a corner past a helpless Petterson to all but end Joondalup’s hopes of finals football. Scott Blackmore’s header drifted off target at a corner as the visitors sought a late consolation. Retiring defender Stuart Banks received a generous and well-deserved reception from players and fans after a sterling career when he exited the arena in stoppage time.
MIRCO FAREWELLS COCKBURN IN HIGH SCORING DRAW (by Michael Bate, Football West)
Cockburn City captain Michael Mirco marked his final State League appearance with a goal but was unable to inspire his side to victory over a resilient Canning City. With nothing to play for but pride, the competition’s cellar dwellers played out an entertaining 3-3 draw in front of an appreciative crowd at Dalmatinac Park. After the game, Mirco, who was chaired off the ground by his teammates, expressed his delight at scoring in his last game. “It was a bit disappointing that we didn’t win after they went a man down, but at the end of the day for us it was about enjoying the game and it was great to get a goal,” said Mirco.
After a flat opening spell, the game roared into life on 13 minutes when appeals for handball against Jon Mathers lead referee Joe Fusari to point to the spot. Mathers made clear his feelings about the decision and was duly issued his marching order for foul and abusive language, and once calm was restored Paul Natale slotted to the right of James Partridge to put Cockburn one-nil up. Garth Lecky’s desperate block prevented the hosts increasing their lead through Renato Jelen’s mishit finish from a Jason Dos Santos cross. The same combination came up trumps on 29 minutes, this time Jelen hitting his shot cleanly to fire into an empty net at the back post.
Nick Feely was called into action not long afterwards, making a terrific reflex save from Greg Newcomb’s close-range attempt. The young Cockburn custodian then quickly launched a counter attack that should have led to the home side’s third as Joe Brunetto’s low cross from deep on the left found an unmarked Anthony Pereira who, just a couple of metres from goal, stooped to head high and wide. Perhaps not realising the time he’d been afforded, Jelen squandered another good opportunity by sending a curling shot from 12-metres just beyond the post. And just a few minutes later it was Brunetto who send a powerful effort from 26-metres just a little too close to Partridge.
Cockburn coach Scott Miller shifted Mirco up front for the second half, obviously looking to give the veteran a chance of finishing his career with a goal. And once the game restarted it seemed as though the home team were thinking only of setting up Mirco, always looking for him when delivering the ball into the area. But that tactic backfired nine minutes after the restart when a defensive lapse allowed Daniel Trevisiol to get in behind the back four and slot past Feely from an angle to reduce the deficit. Two minutes later Mirco got his reward by latching onto a long ball over the top, cutting inside his marker and lashing past Partridge with the outside of his boot.
It looked as though Cockburn had the game in the bag, however, what they hadn’t figured on was the never-say-die attitude of Canning captain Paul Van Dongen. Three minutes after the hosts bagged their third, Van Dongen charged down an attempted clearance by Feely which he then fired into an empty net to bring the gap back to single goal. And in the 69th minute Van Dongen made full advantage of a mis-communication between defender and goalkeeper to nick in and calmly lob the equaliser over Feely. The final twenty minutes were played out with very little incident, both teams content to settle for a draw and run down the clock.
STERJOVSKI SPOT ON AS GLORY ROB NEWCASTLE
Perth Glory has catapulted to the top of the A-League after notching their second consecutive win on the road with a 1-0 result against Newcastle Jets at EnergyAustralia Stadium last night. A late converted penalty from marquee player Mile Sterjovski was the only goal of a tense match and ensured Perth won back-to-back away from home for the first time in four years. “We ground out the result tonight,” said Mitchell, who admitted it hadn’t been Glory’s finest performance of the season but praised his players for grinding out the win. “We defended stoutly in the second half and got the goal late on which won us the game. We’re strong at home and if we can pick up points like that away and continue to win at home then I’ll be very happy.”
It was a bright opening for Glory who threatened first after 4 minutes, Andy Todd finding Sterjovski whose cross picked out captain Jacob Burns but his shot from the edge of the 18-yard box flew wide. Newcastle should have had the lead soon after when Kaz Patafta fed South Korean midfielder Jin-Hyung Song whose close-range effort was saved by Tadno Velaphi. Song was involved again on the quarter-hour, this time setting up Patafta who waltzed around three challenges only to send his shot across the face of goal. After a lengthy spell on the defensive Branko Jelic forced goalkeeper Ben Kennedy to push his shot around the post. As the half came to a close it was Newcastle who were asserting authority, Labinot Haliti flashing a shot past Velaphi which crashed against the post and Song heading wide from a Patafta cross.
Although Newcastle were well on top, the second half was largely devoid of clear cut scoring opportunities. The hosts first genuine opening came on the hour when Song and Patafta combined to release Matt Thompson, but his shot was past the post. Song’s acrobatic volley from the top of the box brought another good save from Velaphi as the hosts sought desperately lead. The decisive moment arrived on 81 minutes when Victor Sikora sent clear Sterjovski, who was brought down inside the area by Kennedy leaving referee Matthew Breeze no choice but to point to the spot from where the Glory marquee made no mistake. It was harsh on the home side and although they pressed late for a equaliser there was no way past Glory’s defensive wall of marshalled by Todd and Chris Coyne.
DADI STEERS GLORY YOUTH TO VICTORY
Perth Glory Youth kick-started their season with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Newcastle Jets last night at EnergyAustralia Stadium. Newcastle created some good chances in a frenetic opening but Mirjan Pavlovic slid his shot wide while Alex Pearson’s fine smothering save thwarted James Virgili in a one-on-one situation. With 19 minutes on the clock Glory hit the front through experienced striker Eugene Dadi, who looped his header from a Reece Vittiglia cross over stranded goalkeeper Robbie Kolak. The home side should have equaliser on the half-hour when Virgili sprinted clear only to lift his shot high of the crossbar. The end finished with chances for both teams but neither David Price nor Alex Brosque found the target.
The visitors almost doubled their advantage immediately after the restart with the fleet-footed Ludovic Boi and Dadi combining well to cause the Newcastle defence plenty of problems. Midfielder Glen Trifiro could have marked his Glory Youth debut with a goal but after racing on to a through ball from Boi he fired high from 9-metres. Glory continued to dominate both possession and territory, and could well have had a few more goals to their credit with each Boi, Mario Marcinko and substitute Million Butshire denied by a scrambling defence. Newcastle ended the match with ten-players after ‘keeper Kolak issued his marching orders by referee Tom McGilchrist following a 75th minute clash with Price.
THE PREMIER LEAGUE IN PREVIEW
Inglewood United v Mandurah City (Referee: Mat Cheeseman)
Hyundai Stadium is the venue for the winner-take-all showdown between Mandurah City and Inglewood United (3.00pm) A point will be enough to secure Mandurah a play-off berth, however, it's not going to be an easy game against an Inglewood side fighting to extend their season. "We know Inglewood will be looking to bounce back from a bad result so are not expecting an easy ride," said English import Nicky Platt. "We also know Stirling will be hoping for us to drop points, so we need to go out and make sure that doesn't happen - three points with a good performance would go down very well to take confidence into the finals."
Inglewood slipped up to Armadale last week and must win tomorrow to have any chance of sneaking into the play-offs. "It was a very disappointing loss especially being our first loss under the new boss (Shane Pryce) and with the Cup final just around the corner," said midfielder Michael Baczynski. "After that long drive down the freeway it's always going to be tough against Mandurah. We need to have a good win and other results to fall our way to finish in the five, but in saying that we just want to concentrate on playing some good football and get the confidence up cause we have the Cup final coming up. We go into the game pretty confident we can take something from it, our away form has been a lot better than our form at home so everyone is looking forward to getting three points in the bag."
Armadale v Stirling Lions (Referee: David Scragg)
Stirling Lions go in search of an eighth win on the trot when they journey to Armadale (3.00pm). It's been a remarkable couple of months for Stirling who have gone from staring relegation in the face just a couple of months ago to the cusp of a finals appearance. "We have hit some great league form and everyone in the side is full of confidence," said mid-season recruit Kevin Miller. "The main focus was to stay in the league - now we have the opportunity of finals football. For me I'd love to be involved as I've missed half a season already and I believe we can win it ... It will be a tough game at Armadale, but I'm confident we can get a result and continue our good run."
James Robinson, who returns to England shortly, is delighted to have played is part in keeping Armadale in the Premier League. "All eleven players scrapped for everything and in the end we got the win we deserved. We changed a couple of things and it worked so (coach) Brad (Hassell) should take a big chunk of the credit, and defensively we were outstanding," said Robinson of last week's win at Inglewood. "Stirling are going really well so it will be tough, but all the pressure is on them as they still can make the finals. We won't make it easy for them because we want to finish the season with a win at home in front of our supporters."
Sorrento v ECU Joondalup (Referee: Ton Klaver)
ECU Joondalup’s season goes on the line when they visit Percy Doyle Reserve for the northern suburbs derby with Sorrento (3.00pm). A win is vital for Steve Amphlett’s side, who’ll rely on other results going in their favour to scrap into the top five. Dale McCulloch returns to bolster the midfield while Garin Collins comes up against the club he started the year at. Sorrento spoilt the Knights party last weekend when Shaun Kilkelly’s late goal earned the Gulls a point late, and they now doubt will be wanting the end the season on a high. James Morgan has been in good form while Cyril Sharrock is determined to register his first clean sheet on home soil.
Cockburn City v Canning City (Referee: Joe Fusari)
Canning City bids a fond farewell to long-time coach Frank Longstaff when they take on Cockburn City (3.00pm) at Dalmatinac Park. An away win would be the perfect way for Canning to thank their loyal supporters, and with Paul Van Dongen, Daniel Trevisiol and Simon Versaico in good form they have every right to fancy their chances. It’s been an equally difficult couple of months for Cockburn, who finally snapped a six-game losing streak by downing Perth last time out. They have been further strengthened for tomorrow’s outings with Michael Mirco back from suspension and Cameron Edwards excused from Perth Glory Youth duty.
Perth SC v Western Knights (Referee: Jeremy Oliphant)
It’s first verses second at Dorrien Gardens when Western Knights take on Perth SC (3.00pm). The Knights chances of making amends for the 3-1 loss they suffered to Perth at Nash Field earlier in the year have been dented by the suspension of Anthony Campbell and Okwy Diamondstar. One of the keys to the Knights success this year has been a watertight defence underpinned by goalkeeper, and starring Dabid Annall and Stuart Ferguson. Injury has ravaged the Perth line-up of late, however, there are some encouraging signs leading into the finals series. Phil Arnold, Gary Greenhill and Matt Danskin are pushing for starting roles while star striker Andreas Oliviera, who has been out all winter, got a much-needed 30 minute runout for the Reserves in mid-week.
Swan United v Floreat Athena (Referee: ???)
Third-placed Floreat Athena complete their home and away commitments with a trip to Swan United (3.00pm). Michael Roki’s side have been hitting their straps heading towards the business end of the season and are confident of extending their unbeaten run in the Swan Valley which stretches back to 2003. Suspension rules out defender Simon Elton-Bott but not David Foster and Miki Vujacic, who’ll be looking to get one over the club at which they won Cup winners medals. Swan will be pulling out all the stops to send off retirees Damian Scali and Dom Ando on a high, however, that task has been made all the more difficult by suspensions to Brendan Craig, Tom Shepheard and Shane Webb.
THE FIRST DIVISION IN PREVIEW
The final round focus will be on Ashfield Reserve where Ashfield and Queens Park slug it out to avoid finishing last on the First Division table. Johnathon Cole has netted four times on three games and his influence along with that of Gavin Oakes and team captain Daniel Brown will go a long way to determining Queens Park’s final placing. By the same token, Ashfield have no desire to end the winter stumping up the competition and will look to solid contributions from 2007 First Division Golden Boot winner Jon Greenwood plus veteran pair Jason Van Rooy and Aaron Moschopolous.
Balcatta will be presented with the trophy as First Division champions following the home fixture against Bayswater City. Wanneroo City has won six of their last seven games and will finish as runner-up despite the outcome of their visit to Dianella White Eagles. A very young Fremantle Spirit line-up makes the long journey south to play South West Phoenix. Walter Padbury Reserve is the venue for the mid-table showdown between Gosnells City and Morley Windmills, who enter the weekend with near identical records. Forrestfield United has not lost at home this season and will be pulling out all the stops to keep that record in tact for the visit of Rockingham City.
NEWCASTLE HOLDS NO FEARS FOR GLORY
Perth Glory is looking forward to this evening's visit to EnergyAustralia Stadium and the A-League meeting with Newcastle Jets. Glory have registered four wins in six trips to the venue, and following last week's 4-2 defeat of Brisbane Roar are on the hunt for an encore performance to consolidate a position in the top four. "We go to any venue and think we can get a result," said coach David Mitchell. "Newcastle has been a ground where we have been able to play well and take the points which has been pleasing, however, that is definitely no guarantee this time around."
This will be the second meeting between the club's this season, Glory recording a hard-fought 2-0 in round three courtesy of goals by Wayne Srhoj and Adriano Pellegrino. Mitchell is considering his attacking options leading into this evening's game after Jamie Harnwell's forced withdrawal through injury. "We threw things around a bit last week with Jamie starting up front but we have Mile (Sterjovski) that can go back into that role with Victor (Sikora) able to be placed out wide," said Mitchell. "We're backing up after just five days but the boys have been in good spirits and we're fortunate to have most of the squad fit and available to play."
The curtainraiser will see senior players Eugene Dadi, Scott Bulloch and Jimmy Downey, suit up for Glory Youth against the Jets. The trio are working their way back from injury and will play key roles for the team which, despite playing some exciting football in the past fortnight, are yet to score their first point of the campaign. New signing Glen Trifiro, one-time Australian Schoolboys captain, while Ryan Pearson comes back into the side have last week turned out for Armadale. Don't forget you can tune-in to hear a ball-by-ball account of every Perth Glory Youth away game this season on 990am - 6RPH Information Radio - with Ashley Morrison.
TODARO OVER THE MOON WITH BALCATTA’S PROMOTION
Balcatta will take their place in the top flight for the first time next season after clinching the First Division title by defeating Morley Windmills on Saturday. Coach Salv Todaro was understandably elated when the final whistle sounded at Wotton Reserve to signal not only victory but also the first major trophy in the clubs history. "The feeling was one of elation and satisfaction, I just wanted to get onto the ground and hug all my players and share the moment with them," he said. "Winning of the First Division championship is a significant milestone for the club. We can now throw away the 'social club' tag that everyone likes to label us, and with the fantastic junior set-up we have the better junior players now have a clear development path into the Premier League without having to move to other clubs."
Todaro says there are some key reasons why Balcatta were able to go all the way in 2009 whereas in previous years they'd failed to live up to expectations. "The club is extremely unified - juniors, seniors, socials and women - there's extremely strong support from all the various committees, we are all travelling in the same direction and very supportive of each other," said Todaro. "The players have been fantastic. We do not have anyone who has an inflated opinion of themselves, and if they did, they were soon put into place by everyone else. We have been a true team, in every sense of the word. The players are extremely hard working and have given 110% in all training sessions as well as the games. Everyone has respect for each other, and we all enjoy the hard work."
Few would have expected Balcatta to finish anywhere near the top of the table they stuttering their way through the opening months of the year. Todaro's men struggled in pre-season, winning just one of five Night Series outings, before stumbling to two wins and two losses in the opening month of the regular season. "One of the major turning points was after our defeat at Dianella White Eagles," explained Todaro. "Some hard decisions were made in the following week and a couple of players were allowed to leave, as they were not adhering to our team first philosophy." This clearly had the desired effect with Balcatta's fifth round win against Ashfield the start of a seventeen-game (and counting) unbeaten run.
Balcatta's quest for top honours gathered serious momentum during a mid-season purple patch. "There was a series of games - away at Morley, Bayswater, Wanneroo and South West Phoenix then home to Fremantle - where we won the first four and drew with Fremantle," said Todaro of when he first entertained thoughts of Balcatta winning the league. "Some of the football we played was unbelievable, the players commitment and never-say-die attitude was superb. We were behind to Bayswater and Phoenix but came back to win both, and were losing to Fremantle with about 25 minutes left and revved it up to draw 2-2. It was only after this period that I afforded myself the luxury of thinking we could go very, very close to winning the league."
One of the big differences between Balcatta v.2009 and those of previous years has been a stable line-up. "If you are looking to be consistent and be involved in challenging for the league, it is extremely important," said Todaro, whose team was plagued by injury last season. "Chopping and changing a team destabilises it and players get used to playing with certain players and play accordingly. However, having said that we did have a strong squad with players coming in this year and being able to fill in and do an extremely important job when they were required to. I have great admiration for all the players in our first team squad, those that were not in the team made training so competitive that it kept the players in the team on their toes and working hard."
The 2009 First Division was a close run race with Balcatta and Wanneroo going game-for-game at the top, and Phoenix waiting to pounce should either of the leaders slip-up. "I have a lot of respect for Phoenix, they play the game the way it should be played - hard, fair and try to play football. Their strength lies in a hard-working midfield and strikers that know how to score," said Todaro. "Wanneroo are highly competitive and play to their strengths, they have some very talented youngsters who, having now played two seasons of very good football, will be pushing again next year. With both teams they have excellent coaches who are extremely talented and able to pass on their knowledge to their teams."
Planning is already well underway for Balcatta's inaugural foray into the top flight. "The squad that won us promotion will always be special to Balcatta, they have made history as it's the first time we'll be in the Premier League. It would be naive to think that we do not need to add players for our journey, we're moving up to the highest standard in the local league and we need to develop our squad accordingly," said Todaro. "We need to continue the great work ethic that we have developed over the last couple of years, we have a great competitive and combative spirit that's ground out results when needed. I'll be ensuring we are well prepared for the task ahead."
SCALI SIGNS OFF
The curtain will come down on the career of Damian Scali when the final whistle sounds as the Swan Italian Club on Saturday afternoon. The long-serving Swan United striker has decided that after a 15-year senior career this weekend’s game with Floreat Athena will be his last. “The decision to retire is very difficult, and I have no idea what I am going to do with myself from Sunday onwards,” he said. “Since I was about 5-years old I have been hanging around this soccer club. I honestly don’t know any different other than showing up on Tuesdays, Thursdays and the weekends, Saturday is going to be the hardest day of my life so far. But when you end up in the emergency department at a local hospital, on a Sunday afternoon because you need an injection so you can straighten your back up I think its time to retire.”
Scali will bow out of the game as his clubs leading goal scorer for the ninth time, and should he hit a few against Floreat may even sneak the Premier League Golden Boot award. “I’ve always said that every time I win the leading scorer at our club it can’t be good because we obviously are not going very well in that year,” he joked. “The years we have made finals and won Cups I’ve finished second or third in this trophy, and when I have won the award we have been in relegation fights so I used to not like winning it. However, moving to be a striker in the last two years has meant that I’m relied on to score so I’ve enjoyed that, but really the boys have done all the work and made scoring goals very easy. I even said the other week that if I won the Golden Boot every other striker should be ashamed of themselves.”
There are many highs and lows scattered throughout Scali’s senior playing career, with back-to-back Cups wins rating very much in the former. “I’ve enjoyed every game I’ve played for this club but the highlight would be winning back-to-back Cups in 2003 and 2004,” said Scali, who also fondly recalls Swan pipping Melville Corinthian and Stirling Toscany on goal difference to secure a place in the top flight. “Getting promoted in 1993 to the Premier League for the first time was special. We celebrated all night, with everyone who had put so much into the club has to be my most memorable moment. To have the whole club singing all night in a warehouse in Midland is something I will never forget.”
Scali, who’s worn his club’s black and whites stripes in excess of 200 times, thought long and hard before answering which coach had the greatest influence on his career. “Well, this is tough. My dad was my coach all through my junior years and my ability to read the game and score goals is no doubt down to what he taught me. Anything I have done in the game is due to him, his encouragement, yelling, ideas and gene pool - I guess my mum helped in that area as well!,” said Scali. “As a senior coach, there is no doubt that my best soccer was played with Eric Williams, I think he had the team structure tailored to me playing the best I can. And obviously Gary Marocchi, who led us to two Cups, is right up there as well.”
Over the years Scali has featured in defence, midfield and attack for Swan, and come up against and played alongside some very talented opponents. “The toughest player would be between Mark Pottier, Todd Howarth and Stuart Montgomery, all three are very skilful, strong, fast, score goals and have caused us no end of trouble over the years. There are many more such as Norrie Sutton who ran me ragged and Paul McVittie who was very good as well,” Scali commented. “The best Swan player would have to be my cousin Carlo (Scali) - that’s because he knows my game more than anyone, and probably set me up more than anyone. I would hope that Carlo and I had a little to do with Swan being where they are now.”
A life totally without football is not something Scali is considering, even in retirement. “What’s next for me - no idea. I still want to remain involved at the club but how I am not sure. I will need something to do every Saturday, maybe something will pan out in the next few months,” he stated. “I will miss not fighting it out on the pitch for the club, knowing that I’m representing everyone who has had anything to do with the club. I will miss the emotional points that happen on a Saturday - scoring in the last minute to win games, celebrating with the fans near the canteen, singing the song in the change rooms after a game. I will also miss the friendships I have made in the change rooms, the rubbish talk that goes on amongst the players, and the fun we have, and of course the player’s trip - thanks for the memories guys.”
MORLEY KEEPS KILKELLY IN THE DARK
It's been over a month since Morley Windmills dumped Tom Kilkelly and the former coach is still waiting to find out why he was unceremoniously shown the door. "I wasn't given any reason and it wasn't the clubs decision - it was one person who decided to get rid of me," said Kilkelly. "He initially said the players didn't back me, and when that didn't work he said the club was having a cash flow problem and asked the players and first team coaches if their payments could be deferred. We all agreed to that, but this individual - let's call him Colin - then went behind everyone's back and told two other committee members that I would not carry on coaching without getting paid."
Suggestions a rift had developed between himself and the player group were instantly dismissed by Kilkelly. "Player unrest? I certainly didn't notice anything like that," stated Kilkelly, who feels there was nothing sinister behind the mid-season departure of some first team players. "There were certain players who felt they should be playing first team, which was something I could not give them at that time, so they moved on. But that's the sort of thing that happens all over the world, it's a player's prerogative to do that and there's not much anyone can do about it."
Kilkelly feels Morley were on their way to achieving their stated season goal when he was pushed out of the job. "I'd rate the season eight on a scale of ten. Our aim was the top five - which we were well on track to do - and to improve the overall standard of the clubs three squads, we had surpassed," he said. "When I arrived Morley had a mid-table first team squad, an ageing reserve team and were short of players for the 18s. As it stands now they have a well-balanced and strong first team, a 23-squad of young players and enough 18s to field almost two sides ... it's all looking good for the future of the club."
Morley were dramatically remodelled by Kilkelly, who can't hide his disappointment at not being given the opportunity to finish what he started. "Out of the first team squad of 18 players there was only three that I hadn't signed, things were taking shape for us and who knows what heights they would have achieved in 2010. That has been taken away from us by a sad bitter old man," said Kilkelly. "Team manager and committee member Mark Culverwell was also sacked and he's still waiting for the reasons. A letter was given to us both at the South West Phoenix game, thanking us and saying we were no longer required by the club - that was it, 'the end'."
A former Republic of Ireland youth international and professional with English club Leicester City, Kilkelly has accumulated a wealth of football knowledge and experience. So it comes as no surprise the local rumour mill has him linked with another First Division club for next season. Kilkelly, however, is playing his cards close to his chest and would neither confirm nor deny that any approaches have been made. "I would hope that I will be coaching at some level next season, whether it be at first team, reserves or 18 ... it's in the blood," said Kilkelly, who has coached at State League level for close to two decades.
WARD OUT AS MELBOURNE'S WOES MOUNT
Melbourne Victory's brutal injury run has continued with Nick Ward set to miss Saturday night's clash with Gold Coast. Ward, fresh from playing a major attacking role in his club's 2-0 win over Adelaide last week, has spent a couple of days in hospital this week with what the club says is a muscle infection. "Wardy will definitely be out, he's has an infection and it's bad enough for him to be in hospital for a couple of days. He's currently in there having a couple of tests," said coach Ernie Merrick. Tom Pondeljak (back) and new recruit Robbie Kruse (groin) remain in doubt for Merrick, who has battled to field the same line-up in consecutive games.
HERD MAKES LATE BOLT TO WORLD CUP
Young midfielder Chris Herd peeled off the claret and blue of Aston Villa and pulled on the green and gold of Australia just in time for the Under-20 World Cup, which kicks off in Egypt tonight. Herd was a late bolter into Jan Versleijen's squad and met most of the players for the first time at a recent camp in Cyprus where he also made his debut in a friendly against England. "Chris is a very skilful player," said the Young Socceroos coach. "He's not a typical English attacking midfielder, he has more of that European style and I think it's a good quality to have."
The former Bayswater City and ECU Joondalup junior had been on the radar for some time but a knee injury delayed his opportunity to represent Australia. He had pre-season appearances for the Villa first team against Italian giant Juventus and Portuguese powerhouse Porto before playing a key role in the reserves' 4-0 thrashing of Chelsea, after which Socceroos officials recommended him for the 21-man World Cup squad. "I was just focused on my club football and to get called up to play for my country is a bonus," Herd told Jonathon Cook of the 'West Australian'.
Australia kick off their campaign against Czech Republic on Sunday, before facing Costa Rica and Brazil. The tournament could put the ambitious youngster in soccer's shop window and might also help secure a new Villa contract, with his current deal due to expire in June. He has had loan spells at Port Vale and Wycombe to gain first-team experience. His Villa teammate and fellow West Australian Shane Lowry, who recently committed to Australia after representing the Republic of Ireland at youth level, has recently made a loan switch to Plymouth Argyle.
RUKAVYTSYA FINDS THE NET FOR TWENTE
Nikita Rukavytsya opened his FC Twente account when the Eredivisie club thumped tiny SC Joure 8-0 in the Dutch Cup. Twente didn't take it easy on their Zondang Hoofdklasse C division opponent, Bernard Parker netting twice and Nashat Akram and Dario Vujicevic getting one each during the first half. The goals kept coming afther the break, Akram scoring his second before Rukavytsya grabbed his first for the Twente senior team after good lead-up work from Luuk de Jong. Wellington grabbed a late double to finish off an emphatic 8-0 triumph for Steve McClaren's side with Rukavytsya and fellow Socceroo David Carney getting through the full 90 minutes.
FERGUSON WANTS MORE SILVERWARE BEFORE HEADING ACROSS THE DITCH
Western Knights' Stuart Ferguson would like to add a Top Five winners medal to his collection prior to leaving Nash Field. The towering defender departs for a spell with New Zealand club Hawkes Bay United a day after the end of the play-offs and would dearly like to end his time with the Knights on a high. "In two seasons I've won the Soccer Pools Cup, the Football West Shield, the League title and - hopefully - now a Top Five finals series," he said. "I've enjoyed giving my all for the Knights during my two seasons in the State League. I've made some lifelong friends at the club and it's a part of my life I will never forget ... and I hope to go out with the Top Five trophy and give the fans something else to celebrate."
Visa problems have led Ferguson to seek new pastures in New Zealand. "I've accepted an offer to play for Hawkes Bay United in the New Zealand Football Championship. I'm flying out the day after the Grand Final and playing there until May - after that I may return to Perth, who knows," commented Ferguson, who is comfortable with the role he's played at the Knights. "I know I'm not the prettiest football player in the world, but as I keep saying to the boys every team in the world needs a no-nonsense defender and a training ground joker and well."
Ferguson feels the Knights loss to ECU Joondalup at the start of the home and away series had a galvanising effect on the side, who last weekend were presented with the Premiership trophy. "That result really brought us back down to earth after an impressive Night Series. After that the playing group really pulled together to play some attractive yet powerful football," he explained. "It hasn't all been plain sailing as there are a number of big personalities within the club and people don't always see eye-to-eye but in the end everyone was committed to the same goal and we always knew we had the talent and experience to win the league."
There are a number of factors which have contributed to the Knights rise from ninth last year to the top of the Premier League pile in 2009. "Fitness was a key element, I'm sure a few of the boys would agree with me some of our "top yourself Tuesday" training sessions weren't enjoyable but we all knew we needed to increase our level of fitness," said Ferguson. "We also had a squad with more experience and knowledge. Last year we had a lot of young boys with great promise and a huge future in the game but there come times when you need that extra a bit of experience to guide you through a tough period, and for a time this year we won a number of games not playing our best football."
Ferguson had nothing but praise for those he's partnered him at the back during his stay at Nash Field. "My defensive partner Dave Annall has been outstanding, since arriving in Australia I've created a good on and off field relationship with Dave and our games seem to complement each other, with him being the more cultured, calm and ball playing centre-half and me being the ball winner and all round pest," he said. "In Fraser Siddall I believe we have one of the best goalkeeper's in the state, and the transformation of Okwy Diamonstar into a defender - who I must add wears white boots - has been remarkable."
The Knights new-look coaching team of Paul Price and Tony Castiello also played their part. "Paul and Tony are total opposites, which really helped them and us as players. They have tried to keep training enjoyable but at the same time make sure it has direct benefit to part of our game," said Ferguson. "Personally, with both being defenders many moons ago, it has helped my game considerably, they understand my strengths but at the same time understand my weaknesses. They have adapted my game to suit the Australian soccer culture, just some subtle changes which make a lot of difference in game time situations."
CACERES RARING TO GO
Wellington Phoenix new boy Adrian Caceres says his move to New Zealand has reignited his career as he prepares to face former club Central Coast Mariners. Caceres, who made his debut for the Phoenix as a substitute against North Queensland Fury last weekend, looks set to start against his former team mates on Sunday. "It's exciting for me to be in the mix. I honestly don't care who we play against, I've been working hard to get myself right and get into the starting eleven," commented Caceres, who says the game against his former team won't mean any more to him than facing any other A-League side. "If that comes this weekend I'll be over the moon and it doesn't really matter to me who we're playing against. I just want us to get the three points, which is very important for us."
Granted early release from his contract with the Mariners, 27-year old Caceres has had no problems settling in at his new club. "It's been a really easy transition to make and I haven't felt so positive for a long time," said the Phoenix midfielder. "I'm sure a lot of players say this, and it sounds a bit of a cliche, but I really do mean it - this club has been great for me. The players, the coaching staff, the management - everyone has made me feel so welcome. Everyone's helped me recover from my injury problems and I haven't felt pressured to come in too quickly. It's been great for me and I can't speak highly enough of the Phoenix. I'm really looking forward to staying on here and helping the team achieve to the high standards we know we're capable of."
EDWARDS TO GUIDE NEXT GENERATION OF SOCCEROOS
Former Perth Glory striker Alistair Edwards has been appointed assistant national technical director and assistant coach of the Next Generation Young Socceroos. Football Federation Australia chief executive Ben Buckley said Edwards would assist national technical director Han Berger in rolling out the governing body's national football development plan. Edwards will also help Young Socceroos head coach Jan Versleijen attempt to steer the Next Generation of players to the 2011 FIFA Under-20 World Cup. "Alistair is one of many former players who have put in the effort to obtain appropriate skills, coaching qualifications and experience, with an aspiration to work at the highest level possible," Buckley said. "We are delighted to have another 'home grown' appointment to such an important role, under Han Berger's and Jan Versleijen's combined expertise and tutelage."
Edwards holds an MBA, a Graduate Diploma in Sport Management, has an 'A' coaching license and is currently undertaking the Pro Diploma (coaching) course. In a fifteen-year playing career Edwards turned out for British clubs Glasgow Rangers, Brighton and Hove Albion and Millwall in between spells with Malaysian clubs Johor, Selangor, Sarawak and Singapore Armed Forces. He played 81 games for Sydney Olympic and another 93 with Glory in the Australian national league before having up his boots in 2002. Edwards also 19 'A' international appearances for Australia, scoring three goals, and represented the Young Socceroos at the FIFA World Youth Cup in 1987. His coaching career includes time as head coach of Young Matildas, who he guided to the FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup in 2006, assistant coach of the Matildas and five years as head coach of Football West’s National Training Centre program.
BEST FROM THE WEST TO DO BATTLE AT NATIONALS
The next generation of West Australian football stars will be hoping to catch the eye of national selectors during next month's National Youth Championships in Coffs Harbour. The State Under-14 and Under-15 teams will join the top players from around Australia at the eight-day tournament, commencing 10 October, which is used to identify potential future national team players. "The boys have been training hard for the championships and it will be good for them to be pitted against the best talent that Australia has to offer," said Andrew Bettell, development manager with Football West.
Barry Wood, a former Scotland youth international, has high hopes of the State Under-14's. "Our primary aim is to see as many of our players identified for national selection as possible," said the team coach. "Outside of that, we would be disappointed if we weren't able to reach the semi-finals as I feel we have a lot of players who are very good technically, have pace and adapted to our style of play very well. With a bit of luck along the way, a spot in the final wouldn't be out of the question."
The State Under-14 squad for the 2009 National Youth Championships consists of Scott Galloway (Cockburn City), Luke Radonich (Fremantle), Joshua Do, Callum Richardson (Inglewood United), Cameron Burgess (ECU Joondalup), Borbor Sam Bindi (Noranda), Nick Ambrogio, George Athanasiou, Tom Beadling, Daniel Buhajiar, Matthew Davies, Ogi Lalovic, Slobodan Vulin (Perth SC), Kieran Colwell (Quinns FC), Liam Chapman and Jordan Franken (Sorrento). Travelling with the squad are Barry Wood (coach), Paul Wozny (assistant coach), Kenny Weston (manager) and Jarred White (physiotherapist).
The State Under-15 squad to compete at the 2009 National Youth Championships features Michael Craggs, Savo Cubrilo, Byron Hudson, Harry O'Brien, Joe Page, Riley Woodcock (Cockburn City), Jordan Dodd, Daniel Dols, Brandon O'Neill, Mitchell Oxborrow, Shane Pickering (ECU Joondalup), Tom King, Sahr Musa (National Training Centre), Aleksander Jovic (Perth SC), Eric Deas (South West Phoenix) and Adrian Petroski (Stirling Lions). The team officials are Andrew Ord (coach), Dave Butterfield (assistant coach), Paul Turvill (manager) and Julian Mitchell (physiotherapist).
HARNWELL WILL BE BACK
Perth Glory stalwart Jamie Harnwell is not only confident of getting back from a knee injury later this season, but also of playing on for another campaign to continue his national league career. The 32-year old tore his medial collateral ligament in his left knee during Glory's 4-2 win over the Brisbane Roar on Sunday without even realising. "There was very little pain whatsoever and all I could really feel was that my knee was a little bit wobbly. I played the half out, got it strapped at half-time and it didn't feel too bad after that to be honest," Harnwell said. "I was quite lucky, though, because it could have been a lot worse than what I've done, it could have been a knee reconstruction if I got a whack in the same area."
While obviously disappointed with the injury after returning from a pre-season hamstring tear only a week earlier, Harnwell has no question he wants to return within two months. "It's pretty frustrating and it's another couple of months on the sidelines, and it's not what I was hoping for obviously. I will just mope about for a couple of days now, then pick myself up and get into rehab to get back as soon as I can," Harnwell said. "If this had happened in the last couple of years I would be struggling to make it back in by the end of the season, but this is a longer season and we are confident of making finals as well. There's a few games there and one in particular that I hope to playing in at the end of the season."
The other motivation for Harnwell to get back is to impress coach David Mitchell enough to be offered another contract for next season. "The only motivation I really need is that this is the last year of my contract and I want to keep playing. Mitch has shown a lot of faith in me the last couple of seasons, surprised some people by starting me on Sunday and for 60 minutes I repaid his faith," he said. "I want to get back and repay it even more. If the injuries had been a continuation of things I might think about it, but I've gone from a hamstring to a calf to getting a knee done in a tackle. They are three freakish injuries that I've never had before or are likely to again."
PLYMOUTH CAN TURN IT AROUND SAYS LOWRY
Loan signing Shane Lowry insists there’s cause for optimism at bottom of the English Championship table Plymouth Argyle. Lowry, signed on a three-month deal from Aston Villa, made his debut for the Pilgrims in their 3-1 defeat away to Newcastle United on Saturday. But Lowry, who was paired in centre of defence with Kari Arnason, offered words of hope for the future. “Everyone is putting the effort in and no-one is slacking off, said the 20-year old. “We are all in it together as a team. It’s a tight-knit group from what I have seen the past couple of days. I think we have got the quality as well to turn the results around. Hopefully, it’s onwards and upwards, but we will see what happens.”
Lowry was one of three loan signings made by under-pressure Argyle manager Paul Sturrock at the end of last week, the others being Manchester United defensive duo James Chester and David Gray. His first appearance for Argyle did not get off to an auspicious start, Stephen Taylor escaping Lowry’s attention to head Newcastle in front after 6 minutes. “Taylor ran off me and I was bitterly disappointed in myself,” he said. “I know I’m better than that, but you can’t dwell on your mistakes. You just have to get your head down and keep going. Once we got back in the game at 1-1, I thought we were in with a fighting chance.”
Karl Duguid equalised early in the second half, however, Newcastle regained control with Kevin Nolan heading in just after the hour and Andrew Carroll sealing victory close to full-time. “The team are at the bottom of the table, but I don’t think that is justified with the way they have been playing,” Lowry commented. “I have watched them over the last couple of games and they have been unlucky. There are some quality footballers in the team. Obviously, people in the dressing room are disappointed with the results not going our way. But you can’t get down and dwell on it because the results will keep sliding. Everyone is trying to keep a positive attitude and, hopefully, we can turn around the results soon.”
Lowry was keen on a loan move from Villa and had no hesitation in taking up a three-month deal with the Pilgrims. “I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to test myself in the Championship, so it all progressed really quickly from there,” said Lowry, who first heard of Argyle’s interest late last week. “By Thursday night I was on a plane up to Newcastle from Birmingham, and I stayed in the hotel. I met up with the players when they got to the hotel on Friday, so I’m still trying to put names to faces. But once I have spent a week or two with them I’m pretty sure I will gel in fine.”
VELAPHI HEADING BACK INTO ACTION
Tando Velaphi will press his claim for Perth Glory recall after shaking off the effects of concussion sustained in the team's home game against Gold Coast United a week ago. The Olyroos goalkeeper has decaded himself fit and ready to take on Newcastle Jets on Friday after missing the weekend win at Brisbane Roar. "I've felt pretty good the last few days, obviously I was a bit weary, but generally feeling good and ready to go this week at training," Velaphi said. "There were a few concerns but it's mainly the risk factor. Basically after a concussion the likelihood of it happening again from a little knock on the head is quite high and that was the main thing they (the doctors) were looking at. I've had a good rest and I'm feeling refreshed and ready to go."
Velaphi returned to training on the weekend and departed for Brisbane yesterday to rejoin the squad, which remained on the east coast with a second interstate clash just days away. The 22-year old said he is eager to prove his fitness and force his way back into a Glory side looking to secure back-to-back away wins for the first time since the inaugural season of the A-League. "The last three days I've been training pretty hard. I can't really remember getting hit so there isn't much to be scared of. I'm feeling good, working hard and I'll work hard for the rest of the week and see what happens," Velaphi said.
Glory's first away win of the season and a strong performance by Vrteski could keep Velaphi waiting another week, but as long as the team is winning he isn't too concerned about who is pulling on the gloves. "Obviously it's tough watching it on TV, but securing the three points, especially away from home where our record hasn't been that great was really important," Velaphi said. "We haven't had a lot of luck come our way but maybe the tables have turned and a few things went our way. It was just great to get the win. Aleks played very well. We got the win which is the main thing and I spoke to him after the game and he was rapt with the result. I'm just very happy for the boys and now we're sitting in a good position on the table so hopefully we can get a good result away in Newcastle as well."
WILLIAMS IS A BORO BELIEVER
Rising star Rhys Williams believes Middlesbrough can bounce straight back to the Premier League while manager Gareth Southgate gives youth a chance to prove their talent. Just 21 years of age, Williams has played a key role in his club’s positive start to the English season. “I am really enjoying playing for the first team. We have a really young team and the gaffer [Southgate] believes in all the young players this year,” Williams said. “We are doing well at the minute … I’m confident we will go back up and the fans will be happy again. I think we have definitely got what it takes.”
It’s been a breakthrough year for Perth-born Williams, who played on loan at Burnley last season and made his Australia debut against Japan in June. Yet the versatile defender, who has been playing central midfield recently for Boro, refuses to plan too far ahead. “In five years I just hope to still be playing football, hopefully with Middlesbrough. I just have to keep pushing on. I am still young,” he said. “I am in the Middlesbrough team now and we are doing well. I like to take one step at a time. In the long run, I just want to get as many caps and play as well as I can for Australia.”
AUSTRALIA PREPARED FOR UNDER-20 WORLD CUP
The Young Socceroos have completed preparations for the upcoming FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Egypt with a trio of friendly internationals in Cyprus. A hard-fought 2-1 win against Trinidad and Tobago was followed by successive 2-0 losses to England and the United State of America. With each of those nations also lining up in Egypt, coach Jan Versleijen said he is now well placed to select him team for the opening match of the tournament. “It’s good playing against opponents who will be at the World Cup because if you make those mistakes, straight away you’ll be punished so it’s good experience,’’ Versleijen said. “We’ve played three games over here and the objective was to give everyone at least 90 minutes playing time to see what they can do.”
Aaron Mooy scored once and set up the other when Australia defeated a physical Trinidad and Tobago 2-0 on Thursday. It took just 6 minutes for the Young Socceroos to get off the mark, Tobagan defender Jamal Gay slicing his attempted clearance past goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel from a Mooy corner. The second goal arrived via a free-kick in first half stoppage time when Mooy, aware that Samuel was anticipating a cross, cleverly curled the ball just inside the near post. Trinidad and Tobago made nine second half changes and the fresh legs put the Australians under pressure before substitute Juma Clarence scored an 82nd minute consolation. West Australian defender Chris Herd was an unused substitute.
Versleijen went with an entirely different line-up two days later when England emerged 2-0 winners from an 80 minute game of four quarters. The Young Socceroos conceded after just 2 minutes when Jon Obika volleyed in at close-range from a corner. Ben Kantarovski forced a good save from goalkeeper Elliot Parish in the second period, with Nathan Elasi hitting the upright on 63 minutes. Five minutes later England were awarded a penalty for Elasi's foul on Adam Clayton, with Sam Baldock calmly converting their second past Alex Cisak. Chris Herd and Trent Sainsbury, one of two guest players from the Australian Institute of Sport, played full games.
The Young Socceroos surrendered 2-0 to the United States in their final game prior to heading to Egypt. Tony Taylor cutting in from the left to hand the USA a 4th minute lead, but Australia were denied an equaliser midway through the half when Brian Perk made a stunning double save off striker Jason Hoffman. Perk was tested again just after the break, tipping James Holland’s curling free-kick over the crossbar. The USA made the game safe on 74 minutes when Mikkel Diskerud pounced on a mix-up between goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis and Ryan McGowan to make it 2-0. Australia substitute Sean Rooney almost netted seven minutes later, but Perk made another good save from the striker’s header low to his right. Chris Herd was an unused substitute.
AWAY GLORY AT LAST
Perth Glory shrugged off their away day blues by registering a confidence boosting 4-2 win against Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium. In an incident-packed game, Glory took the early lead through an own goal with Wayne Shroj adding a second just before the break. A seesawing second half got underway with Henrique clawing one back for the home team, Branko Jelic restored Glory's two-goal buffer only for an own goal to bring the gap back to a single strike. The points were eventually made safe with fifteen minutes to go by Adriano Pelligrino's speculative cross which the goalkeeper failed to take cleanly. "It was a case of deja-vu at half-time but after we conceded early in the second half we managed to get the third then again let them back in. But I'm happy to get that much needed away win," said Glory defender Chris Coyne after the game.
Glory could not have imagined a better start when, with 45 seconds on the clock, Mile Sterjovski's cross from the left was mistakenly turned in by Josh McCloughan as he attempted to head clear under pressure from Jamie Harnwell. Five minutes later and Roar almost drew level via a long-range strike by Sergio van Dijk which deflected off Jamie Coyne but Aleks Vrteski was alert to make the save. It could have been two-nil on 13 minutes, Srhoj sending clear Branko Jelic who rounded goalkeeper Liam Reddy only to be thwarted by Ivan Franjic's goal line clearance. Urged on by the crowd of 7,549, the home side pressed hard but David Dodd's low effort was held by Vrteski, then Charlie Miller rifled just wide from the edge of the 18-yard box. Against the run of play Glory struck a second in the 40th minute, Shroj stealing possession from Bob Malcolm and after exchanging passes with Harnwell the midfielder expertly lobbed the advancing 'keeper.
The deficit was reduced five minutes after the restart when Reinaldo's quick free-kick found Henrique, who cut in from the right to fire low past Vrteski at his near post. Glory hit back on the hour, Jelic netting at the back post after being found by Sterjovski’s dangerous pass across the 6-yard box. Roar were back within striking distance four minutes later when Sergio van Dijk's attempt deflected ff Chris Coyne to leave Vrteski stranded just seconds after the 'keeper did well to deny Miller. Franjic's low shot was kept out by Vrteski while Reinaldo blazed high at close-range as the home team found top gear. So it came as a surprise - and a liberal dose of controversy - that Glory added a fourth on 75 minutes, 'keeper Reddy pressured by Chris Coyne into spilling into the net Pellegrino's ball in from the right. Van Dijk fired too close to Vrteski on 87 minutes and Craig Moore headed wide before referee Chris Beath blew for full-time.
O’CONNELL SET TO DEBUT AGAINST GLORY (courtesy the ‘West Australian’)
West Australian teenager Calum O'Connell is set to make his A-League debut for Brisbane Roar against Perth Glory at Suncorp Stadium today. O'Connell, who featured prominently on the first series of Foxtel TV show Football Superstar last year, has been thrown in at the deep end by Roar coach Frank Farina, who has eight players unavailable through injury or international commitments. Farina is confident O'Connell, son of former State captain John, could handle the pressure of a first game against his hometown club. "I wouldn't be putting him in to our starting XI if I didn't think he could cope," Farina said.
O'Connell, who played for ECU Joondalup and Sorrento in the WA Premier League and was a junior at Perth SC, moved to Queensland this year and signed with State league outfit Brisbane Wolves before joining Roar's youth team. But the spate of absentees has propelled him into the first team just seven games into the A-League season. "We're probably throwing him in the deep end a bit but he's a natural left back," Farina said. "It's not a matter of sink or swim but he wouldn't have dreamt of getting this opportunity this quickly."
KILKELLY RAINS ON KNIGHTS’ PARADE (by Michael Bate, Football West)
Shaun Kilkelly bagged a last gasp equaliser to steal Sorrento a 1-1 draw with newly crowned Premier League Premiers Western Knights at Nash Field. Presented with the Minor Premiership trophy prior to kick-off, the Knights looked set to mark the occasion with a hard fought victory when substitute Daniel Trim put them ahead after 62 minutes. However, it was Kilkelly who had the final say, popping up in the second minute of stoppage time to rescue a point. The poor condition of the pitch made for a game of very few clear goal scoring opportunities, the first arriving via a Paul Cunningham chip over the Knights backline which put Todd Harnwell one-on-one with Frazer Siddall, who saved well. The best opening created by the home team came when Karl O’Reilly briefly found himself through on goal, but Danny Cain recovered well to make an important tackle.
Daniel Trim, who replaced the injury Marco Warmt-Murray just before half-time, was into the action immediately after the restart, getting on the end of Daniel Micevski’s cross and forcing a decent save from Cyril Sharrock. The Knights were starting to build momentum and perhaps should have gone ahead in the 55th minute when mis-communication between Sharrock and Darryl Platten allowed Duuane Hepburn to play across for Daniel Micevski, whose shot was blocked, O’Reilly’s followed was also blocked before Cormac Dawson fired wide. Sharrock was called into action again in the 59th minute when David Micevski’s free-kick nearly deflected in off Stuart Ferguson, the goalkeeper tipping the ball away from his line then diving bravely to collect as a trio of opponents closed in.
Despite these heroics, there was nothing Sharrock could do about the opening goal, from the right flank Daniel Micevski was allowed far too much time to pick out an unmarked Trim who made no mistake in heading past the ‘keeper. Sorrento coach Steve Neville threw Stuart Montgomery into the mix in a desperate bid to equalise, and it almost worked when Montgomery’s 18-metre free-kick flew just wide of Siddall’s upright. Sharrock carried the ball to the halfway line hoping to launch a high ball into the box, however, his under hit pass ended up with David Micevski whose speculative attempt from long-range drifted wide. Trim had a fantastic chance to kill the game off but side-footed straight at Sharrock from 5-metres. That was to be a costly miss as James Morgan’s stoppage time shot deflected into the path of an unmarked Kilkelly, who calmly guided the ball into the net.
RELEGATION CONFIRMED ON CANNING
Canning City's time in the Premier League is all but over following today's 1-0 loss to Floreat Athena at Willetton Sporting Complex. The loss, in combination with wins for Armadale and Cockburn City, cut Canning five points adrift at the bottom of the table leading into next weekend’s final round of the season. After the game Floreat coach Michael Roki was full of praise for a hardworking Canning side which pushed his charges all the way in a tight contest. "They came out with survival at stake they really went hard at the ball were really competitive and they had a couple of chances that they were unfortunate maybe not to have grabbed the lead in that first period," he said. "We were hoping that we got the early goal, we obviously got that and that’s what set things up for us."
The early momentum was with Canning, who entered the game knowing anything less than full points could potentially determine their fate. Simon Versaico and Daniel Trevisiol provided good width and penetration as the hosts piled on the pressure during the first ten minutes. Alex Dunn made a sharp save to keep out Paul Van Dongen's 1st minute attempt on goal, and not long after Versaico went close to conjuring the goal the hosts so desperately wanted. Those misses were compounded on 16 minutes when sloppy defending allowed Daniel Neiderberger to collect a loose ball, round goalkeeper Danijel Markovic and slot Floreat into the lead against the run of play. Branimir Mikulic had a great opportunity to double Floreat's lead but after running onto a through ball his shot was kept out of the net by Markovic's legs. The closing stages of the half belonged to Canning, Dunn again called upon to save from Van Dongen while Versaico's cross floated over the 'keeper's head but fell just over the crossbar.
The second half continued in much the same vein with little dividing the teams. Garth Lecky had a great opportunity to get Canning back on level terms but Dunn was in fine form between the posts, palming away the defenders header following a well-flighted free-kick. The visitors twice went close to increasing their lead but Miro Aleksic's fierce angled shot cannoned back into play off the underside of the bar, and soon after Johnny Mirco headed a loose ball high. The teams would have been level after 72 minutes if not for Dunn, who brilliantly tipped wide a goal bound header from Van Dongen. And five minutes later Van Dongen's glancing header from a Versaico corner flashed agonisingly wide of the back post. The last significant action occurred on 84 minutes when Callum Roberts outpaced the defence to cross for Aleksic, who headed straight at Markovic.
DOLPHINS HAVE THE FINAL WORD (by Tim Lefort, Football West)
Mandurah City clinched their participation in the end of season play-off series - and left ECU Joondalup’s hopes hanging by a thread - with a battling 2-1 win at Edith Cowan University. In a contest that failed to reach any great heights, Rafael Insaurralde’s early strike and an own goal by Charlie Comyn-Platt put the visitors two goals to the good before Joondalup’s Scott Blackmore pulled one back. “That’s probably the worst we’ve played since I’ve been involved,” said Mandurah coach Stuart Young. “But once we got ourselves organised in the first half - they were causing a lot of problems on the flanks - and got some help out there, other than their goal, I thought we were pretty well organised.”
In an untidy opening it was Joondalup who had the first chance after 9 minutes, Jake Benson-Cooper finding Jamie Watt and after cutting in from the left the striker’s powerful effort was blocked by goalkeeper Phil Straker. But it was the Dolphins who went in front four minutes later after the home defence failed to deal with a bouncing ball and Insurralde instinctively poked past Andy Petterson from close-range. Joondalup should have equalised within two minutes but Watt scooped James Sammut’s centre over the crossbar from a few metres. John Higgins fired wide from the edge of the 18-yard box, then lashed a fierce drive into the side netting either side of Watt finding the net only to have his efforts disallowed for offside.
Mandurah’s Jake Loreto watched his close -range effort deflect safely into the arms of Petterson, and soon after the same player’s header back across goal at a corner was just over the head of team mate Nicky Platt. But the home side’s relief was only short-lived as on 32 minutes Alex Darby, who had been causing problems down the left, hit a low centring pass that struck a helpless Comyn-Platt on the leg and deflected past Petterson. Joondalup desperately need to find something before the break and in first half stoppage time they found, Garin Collins swung in a free-kick from the left to which Blackmore got the faintest of headers, but enough to beat Straker.
The Dolphins came out quickly for the second stanza period with Petterson forced to save Insaurralde’s low shot. After that it was Joondalup who dominated, however, their failure to penetrate a defence under the command of Ryan Townsend lead to very few clear-cut openings. An attempt on goal by Watt was deflected wide off a defender, the same player was foiled by Straker later on before Higgins blazed high from distance. Joondalup continued to dictate terms but time and time again were held at bay by a well-organised, well-disciplined defence. In fact, Joondalup were fortunate not to concede for a third time in the closing minutes when Platt swivelled at 10-metres to unleash a fierce shot that Petterson held.
O’CALLAGHAN SENDS THE LIONS INTO SEVENTH HEAVEN
An injury-time strike by Phil O’Callaghan snatched Stirling Lions a 1-0 win against Swan United at Macedonia Park. Stirling’s seventh win in a row moved them to out-right fifth place and within touching distance of a finals berth. “It was a great win for the club, but we left it a little late today,” said O’Callaghan, who has been instrumental in his climb away from the relegation zone and into playoff contention. “We had a number of chances but didn’t convert, although Cory Hugo made some great saves. We’ve been on a great run in the league and we hope to continue on with it at Armadale next week and take our spot in the top five.”
Stirling were out of the blocks early, an in-swinging corner by Marc Anthony was punched clear by Hugo with Jordan Rhodes sending the follow-up shot wide. Play was very much one-way with the home side pushing hard for the lead, and they should have had it on 19 minutes when O’Callaghan’s flick sent clear Rhodes but the midfielder’s effort from 8-metres was brilliantly tipped away by Hugo at full-stretch. Aaron Cole and David McNally were working overtime in a Swan defence under mounting pressure. Anthony’s inch perfect through ball on 23 minutes put clear Jamie DeAbreu, whose weak shot was saved low by Hugo.
After soaking up the pressure, Swan began to wander into attack and on the half hour David Paone’s long-range shot flew high. Stephen Guest was robbed of a shot by a perfectly timed Michael Pugliese tackle, and from the resulting corner goalkeeper Kevin Miller tipped over Brendan Craig’s shot. Hugo was lucky to remain on the park for his cynical 39th minute challenge on O’Callaghan which earned the ‘keeper yellow card from referee Ton Klaver. As the half ended it was Swan that looked most threatening. Monterosso’s long-range shot was saved low by Miller and a couple of minutes later Shane Webb’s cross from the left was only just out of Damian Scali’s reach at the back post.
Rhodes went close for the home side eight minutes into the second half when his ball into the box was stepped over by O’Callaghan and, luckily for Swan, drifted out just wide. Stirling went close again on the hour, Pugliese’s shot in a goalmouth scramble was cleared off the line by Monterosso amid appeals for handball. Play streamed from end to end as the game entered its closing stages, both teams knowing a point was not what they were after. Rhodes was thwarted by Webb’s covering tackle, then at the other end Guest volleyed wide at the back post. Stirling substitute Ndumba Makeche blazed disappointingly high from 6-metres, and in quick succession Miller kept out shots by Craig and Webb.
Stirling were pushing for the victory but Jamie DeAbreu’s low shot was parried by Hugo, Makeche collected the rebound and fed DeAbreu who was again denied by a brilliant save. O’Callaghan thought he’d had found the winner but his close-range shot was cleared off the line by Guest. The game took another twist on 84 minutes when Craig was issued his marching orders by Tom Klaver for a second yellow card offence. Matt Italiano’s shot was deflected wide by McNally, then Anthony fired straight at Hugo as Swan somehow hung on. But as the game entered stoppage time Anthony played down the right to Italiano who whipped in a superb cross to the far post where an unmarked O’Callaghan headed in the decider, despite Hugo getting a hand to it.
COCKBURN LIVE TO FIGHT AGAIN (by Chris Leitch, Football West)
Cockburn City has avoided relegation from the Premier League with a courageous 1-0 win against Perth SC at Dalmatinac Park. It wasn't a pretty match by any stretch of the imagination, however, Cockburn did what was required to secure the three points with a scrambled goal after 28 minutes by Joe Brunetto. Scott Miller was relieved to have achieved the primary goal of survival that he set after taking over as coach mid-season. "We've played some really good football against sides like Stirling and Joondalup and haven't got a result because we haven't been able to put the ball in the net," he said. "Today, we picked a man each, you beat your opponent and see what happens from there. It's not great to watch, it won't bring the fans back, but it got us the result."
Perth settled quickly and appeared more composed on the attack, while defensive errors threatened to undo the home side. Gradually Cockburn began pushing forward and on 28 minutes got the breakthrough via an Anthony Pereira corner which was met by David Nairn, his header was blocked by Luke Martino and in the ensuing scramble Brunetto poked the ball into the net. Perth made changes in the second half as they tried to up the intensity but Nick Feely remained largely untested between the posts for Cockburn. As the clock ticked down the home supporters grew increasingly anxious, David Onoforo and Greg Sharland each presented good opportunities in a stoppage time but neither was able to conjure an equaliser.
Perth had second place sewn up before this match but is missing many first-choice players through injury. Graham Normanton was again forced to make several changes to his line-up and admits he has a job ahead of him to have the players ready for the upcoming top five semi-final against Western Knights. "(Our best players), they are not going to come back in a hurry, so I'm not expecting the squad to be much different to what it was today," he said. "I've got my work cut out for three weeks, trying to get the kids up to speed and hopefully in three weeks we can put on a better show than we did today."
BRIGHT SECURES ARMADALE’S FUTURE
Armadale secured their Premier League status for another year by defeating Inglewood United 2-1 on an overcast day at Clipsal Stadium. A goal early in the second stanza by Jeff Bright, which added to James Robinson’s first half opener, set the Reds down the road to victory before Rory Grant’s consolation sparked a late Inglewood revival. The early signs were ominous for the home team, Ryan Pearson’s long diagonal ball putting James Robinson in behind the defence only for Oliver Taseski to race off his line and clear the danger. Inglewood had a great opportunity after Dannie Richman and Sandi Loncar combined down the right to create an opening for Albert Osei-Tutu, who placed wide under pressure from Andy Bowyer.
Pearson was featuring prominently for Armadale and in the 20th minute provided a pass that Robinson waltzed into the 18-yard box but blazed high. Armadale got their reward after 25 minutes when Pearson’s vicious shot from an angle was parried by Taseski, who was helpless as Robinson tucked in the loose ball from a couple of metres. Bright almost created a second soon but his low centre from the left passed across the top of the 6-yard box and was cleared. Inglewood came to life late in the half with Matt Worton firing straight at ‘keeper Robbie Easton from 20-metres, then at the other end Robinson’s deft header from a Bright cross was paddled away by Taseski. As the half came to a close Osei-Tutu touched just wide after being played in by Mladen Kovacevic, and Loncar fired not too far off-target from distance.
It was a crackerjack to start to the second half for Armadale, Pearson playing Robinson wide on the right from where he hit a low cross to the far post where an unmarked Bright side-footed in their second goal. Inglewood almost had an immediate reply but Easton thrust out a glove to miraculously keep out Ashley Picker’s shot from inside the 6-yard box. Worton fired too close to the ‘keeper as Inglewood sought to make the most of the ascendancy, then Kovacevic’s fierce strike was brilliantly captured by an airborne Easton. The hosts finally found a way through with thirteen minutes, referee Michael Tolmie awarding a penalty for Bowyer’s foul against Grant who fired just beyond the reach of the diving ‘keeper. Inglewood stepped up a notch in an attempt to grab an equaliser but it was Armadale who went closest when Bright stung the gloves of Taseski.
BALCATTA ARE GOING UP!
Balcatta wrote a new chapter in the club’s 31-year history by clinching the First Division title - and promotion to next year’s top flight - with today’s 5-2 win over Morley Windmills at Wotton Reserve. There were 11 minutes on the clock when Ashley Rosendale’s corner was nodded in by Andy O’Neill, signalling the start of celebrations by the Balcatta faithful. However, Windmills were not going to make it easy for the visitors and after ten minutes of sustained pressure they grabbed a deserved equaliser via Mitch Castrilli, who tapped in at close-range. This only spurred Balcatta on and on 36 minutes Rosendale dazzled the defence before coolly slotting in his sides second.
Balcatta started the second half looking to score and seal the game, however, it was the home side that netted on 58 minutes when Jake Harman ghosted in between two opponents to bundle the ball in from a James Jepson cross from the left. The game was then decided by a devastating eight-minute spell in which Balcatta rammed in a trio of goals. It started with Rosendale angling the ball into the corner from a narrow angle after getting go the end of a Lucas Whitehouse flick. A mazy run by Andy O’Neill led to him crossing for Rosendale, who rounded the goalkeeper before putting away his third of the day. And on 69 minutes O’Neill swung in a corner that Whitehouse headed in to send the visiting fans into song once again.
RODGERS DOUBLE SEES OFF ASHFIELD
South West Phoenix defeated the visitors from Ashfield 3-0 to seal third place on the First Division table. David Rodgers double and Dylan Stevens’ first senior goal ensured Phoenix a top three finish for the third time in as many years. It took only a minute for Phoenix to hit the front, Jonathon Krawec’s cross being glanced in off the head of Rodgers. The hosts thirst for a second goal was quenched in the 25th minute when a partially cleared corner sat nicely for Stevens to drive into the roof of the net from near the penalty spot. Having opened up a two-buffer, Phoenix eased off the pace a little and, with Ashfield adopting a very defensive approach, few further chances presented before the break.
The second half took a while to get going, but once it did Jon Greenwood crashed his shot into the post from the edge of the 18-yard box. Ibnen Charming and Aaron Moschopolous were instrumental as Ashfield toiled hard in search of a much-needed goal of their own. However, the momentum swung back in the hosts favour following the addition of Seb Bell on the left side of midfield. Bell played a leading hand in making the game safe in the 75th minute, the youngster collecting a loose ball which he floated to the far post where Rodgers was on hand to head in from close-range. Like the first half, the closing stages were largely uneventful, neither side creating much in the way of clear cut chances on goal.
VRTESKI READY TO STEP UP
The circumstances could have been better but Aleks Vrteski is determined to make the most of his inclusion in the Perth Glory starting line-up for the first time this season when they go hunting for a rare away win against Brisbane Roar tomorrow. David Mitchell has made it clear Tando Velaphi is his number one goalkeeper, but with the Beijing Olympian ruled out the coach has backed Vrteski to make a solid contribution between the posts. "Aleks has been waiting in the wings and now he'll get his chance," said Mitchell. "He's another young goalkeeper and he's very focused on what he has to do."
Vrteski, who made nine appearances for the club in 2006/07 before heading to Macedonia where he played for Pobeda Prilep, believes he improved significantly during his time in Europe. "It's unfortunate what happened to Tando but that's the way the game works," the 20-year old said. "It's a chance for me to do well. Hopefully I can put a good performance on the board, and there's nothing to say I can't play well at the weekend and give the coaching staff something to think about."
Vrteski shrugged off concerns he had been out of action for too long to expect to adjust easily to the A-League level. His last outing was in Glory's 5-0 pre-season loss to English club Fulham in July, but Vrteski said he had benefited hugely from the high tempo training sessions alongside his good friend Velaphi. "We play a lot of small-sided games, which keeps you sharp," he said. "Obviously there's nothing better than playing games but when you are training at a high intensity it helps to get yourself ready to play."
BRISBANE ROAR PAST GLORY YOUTH
Perth Glory Youth’s disappointing start to the season continued when beaten 3-1 by Brisbane Roar yesterday at Goodwin Park. Josh McVey’s two-goal haul was ultimately the difference between the teams, earning Roar their first win of the 2009/10 National Youth League campaign. A frenetic opening saw the home team take a 7th minute lead when Luke Bratten’s cross deflected off the head of defender Steve Hesketh and rolled into the net. It took only three minutes for Glory to level, a long-range shot from Andrija Jukic was superbly saved by goalkeeper Matt Acton, but Ludovic Boi was quickest to react and fire in at the follow-up.
It was end-to-end football with chances coming thick and fast. Hesketh almost made it two own goals when another unintentional deflection saw Glory scramble the ball off their goal line, before Bratten and Jordan Farina went close as the hosts began to turn the screws. The deadlock was finally broken two minutes from half time, McVey disposing Hesketh before the teenager applied a clinical finish past ‘keeper Alex Pearson.
Glory started the second half positively, Bulloch firing wide in the 56th minute and soon after Acton produced a wonderful save to deny newly introduced substitute Million Butshiire, who again tested the ‘keeper on the hour. There was no such wastefulness from the home side with McVey firing in goal number three after being found by a pinpoint Stefan Vrbesic cross in the 68th minute. It could have been a hat-trick for McVey in stoppage-time, but after being found in the box the striker lifted his shot high from close-range.
THE PREMIER LEAGUE IN PREVIEW
Canning City v Floreat Athena (Referee: Joe Fusari)
Premier League survival is on the line when they Canning City host Floreat Athena at Willetton Sporting Complex (3.00pm) tomorrow. Frank Longstaff's team shot themselves in the foot last time out, throwing away a two-goal lead to Stirling Lions, to remain at the foot of the table. "After going two-nil up we went into our shell again which is mystifying as we have proved we can match it with any side in the league on our day," said Longstaff, who welcomes back Greg Newcomb and George Tchami from suspension. "Floreat will be confident after beating Cockburn convincingly, but they will also still be smarting from the way we defeated them at the Litis Stadium so I would imagine they will give us the credit we deserve."
Michael Roki hopes last week's 7-1 mauling of Cockburn - Floreat's first win in six weeks - signals the end of a tough run for the club. "We've had to re-organise a number of times this year but the current line-up has clicked together nicely. It was important we didn't hit any panic buttons during a period of poor results, rather that we "take the hits" and move forward from them ... there is still confidence we could be playing in all three finals this year," said Roki, who acknowledges bottom-of-the-table Canning will be no pushover. "They have plenty to play for, but also have a mass of pressure upon them to get a result. There's no doubt they will have to take the game to us and possibly that could open up a few gaps that we can expose."
ECU Joondalup v Mandurah City (Referee: David Scragg)
One game that will have a big bearing on the make-up of the top five is ECU Joondalup against Mandurah City at Edith Cowan University Arena (3.00pm). Midfield maestro Dale McCulloch was pleased with his team's performance last week which resulted in another three points. "The win against Armadale was very important to keep us in touch with the finals and also to revenge the hammering they gave us last time we met," said McCulloch, whose team enter the round on level pegging with Mandurah. "Games between these cubs has become a fierce encounter over the past couple of years, and this one will be no different ... I'm sure you'll see two teams having a right crack at each other as a draw won't sit well with either."
It's been a tough year for Mandurah and one that has brought the players closer together according to midfielder Stephen Payne. "We took a few knocks early in the season when we were leading games and then ended up throwing them away, maybe its the change in management or just having to stick it out through the turmoil down at Mandurah this season, but the boys seem to be a closer knit unit through it," said Payne. "I really believe we can beat anyone now, our confidence is high and I think we owe it to ourselves to have a right go up there and see what happens. The manager has us playing some really good stuff and the fans are going to really enjoy what they see (at Joondalup)."
Stirling Lions v Swan United (Referee: Michael Nugus)
Another highlight of the round is the Macedonia Park showdown between Stirling Lions and Swan United (3.00pm). Stirling are on a six-game winning streak but will be without Perth Glory Youth team mates Dean Evans, Steve Hesketh and Ludovic Boi. "We have really got some belief in the camp now after six straight wins and Swan is another big test for us. These games tend to produce a lot of goals - hopefully there won't be too many in the against column this week," said assistant coach Gary Williams. "They are a good side and Paul Lincoln has done a great job for them this year. They have good individual players, Aaron Cole is strong at the back so we will need to be at our best to beat them this week."
Paul Lincoln is hopeful his players have put behind them the six-goal thrashing inflicted by Inglewood United last time out. "I wasn't expecting that result heading into the game, but the sending off of Thomas Shepheard was a blow to us but we never turned up in the second half, it was disappointing the way we capitulated," said the Swan coach, who regains the services of Trent Wood and Brendan Craig but is minus suspended attackers Shepheard and Niall Hughes. "This week is our Cup final in some respects and it will be difficult for us as our depth will be tested. The Lions are in terrific form and have many match winners, we will need a contribution from all the players this week and I'm confident they will want show some pride in their performance to make amends from last week."
Inglewood United v Armadale (Referee: Jeremy Oliphant)
Inglewood United are in red-hot form and host strugglers Armadale at Clipsal Stadium (3.00pm). Albert Osei-Tutu, scorer of a hat-trick last week at Swan, is delighted with his teams recent charge up the table. "To win convincingly against a strong Swans side was excellent but we are certainly not getting carried away, we know if we can win the last two games a spot in the top five finals is a chance and that would be a bonus," said Osei-Tutu. "Armadale are a tough side to play at any stage of the season and they will be desperate for the three points on the weekend. It will be up to our boys to match them for desperation all over the park. It's also our last home game for the season so it'll be great to have a win at home."
Reds defender Matt Bennion is hoping his team gives a better account of themselves than last time, when beaten by Joondalup by three-goals. "It was a disappointing game against ECU. We went into the game very positive but started slowly and after going down two-goals early on it was always going to be tough for us," said Bennion, who is confident of getting a result at Inglewood. "It is a massive game for both teams this week with both having a lot to play for. It's always a tough game at Inglewood, but we are going in confident that we can get the three points, we will be going into the game with nothing to lose and I’m sure the boys will be putting in 100 per cent."
Western Knights v Sorrento (Referee: Paul Anderson)
The State League Premiers trophy will be presented to Western Knights prior to Saturday’s game with Sorrento at Nash Field (3.00pm). Brothers David and Daniel Micevski have been across the middle of the park for the Knights, who’ll need big efforts from defensive pair Stuart Ferguson and David Annall in order to celebrate in style. Sorrento defeated Perth last week, a result that’s instilled a new sense of self-belief in the Gulls as they press late for the play-offs. Stuart Montgomery will be doing his utmost to get one over his former club and, along with Todd Harnwell, Glen Thomas and goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock, has a key role to play for the visitors.
Cockburn City v Perth SC (Referee: Steve Gregory)
It's going to be another long afternoon for Cockburn City when second-placed Perth SC travel to Dalmatinac Park (3.00pm). Scott Miller's team have won just once in eight games and are coming off a six-goal hiding from Floreat Athena. Matters have been made worse by captain Michael Mirco's suspension, however, coach Miller is able to call upon the servies of Australia youth internationals Nick Feely and Cameron Edwards, who've been granted a week's release from Glory Youth committments. The injury list at Perth is seemingly growing by the minute with coach Graham Normanton crossing his fingers midfielders Gary Greenhill and Dom De Felice return for the game. Youngsters Simon Wilson, Jack Clisby and Jason Pottier impressed last week and each should keep their place in the line-up.
THE FIRST DIVISION IN PREVIEW
Balcatta can secure the First Division title as well as promotion to next year’s top flight by taking home the three points on offer tomorrow. However, to achieve that they must first get past Morley Windmills side that’s won their last three games under caretaker coach Jamie Goodman. “The guys have been great and there is a good team spirit,” said Goodman. “League positions don’t lie and it will be big test for us this week. Balcatta play an attacking brand of football and as a result are the highest scorers in the competition. Ashley Rosendale and Bobby Klenkoski have been deadly all season and with the supply coming from the likes of Andy O’Neill they will be difficult to contain for 90 minutes.”
Marc Wingell well aware Fremantle Spirit is in for a tough afternoon at home to second-placed Wanneroo City, who can mathematically still top the table. “It will definitely be a tough game for us, they are a very enthusiastic team don’t complicate their play, are very organised defensively and mobile in attack,” said Wingell, who has been thrilled with how his young side has performed. “We’ve been very short on numbers throughout the year so a lot of the boys are feeling the effects of a long but fruitful year. Considering we lost eleven players to other clubs or injury we have done very well, the players can be proud of their efforts.”
Requiring just a single point to assure themselves of third spot, South West Phoenix will be out to avenge the shock mid-season loss to Ashfield when they visit Bunbury. Not a lot has gone right for Queens Park this year and they should expect no favours from Forrestfield United in the eastern corridor derby at Coker Park. Bayswater City returned to the winner’s circle after a two-week absence and are expected to continue their good form under coach Mauro Marchione after meeting luckless neighbour Dianella White Eagles at Frank Drago Reserve. Gosnells City will fancy their chances in the late game at Lark Hill Sportsplex where Rockingham City have hosting rights.
LOWRY LOANED TO PLYMOUTH
Plymouth Argyle have signed defender Shane Lowry on a three-month loan from Aston Villa. Paul Sturrock welcomed the addition of 20-year old Lowry, who is set to be included in his squad for the away game against Newcastle United on Saturday. “Defensively, we are very short and we need to make sure we have players coming in,” said the Plymouth manager. “He has got real potential and he wants to do well. He has played with Alan Judge and Cillian Sheridan in the Republic of Ireland under-21 side, and they have waxed lyrical about him. Our scouts have also given us some very good reports, so he is a welcome addition.” Lowry recently opted to pursue his international career with Australia, having been born in Perth to Irish parents.
AMATEUR PREMIERSHIP GOES DOWN TO THE WIRE
The Amateur Premier League will be decided in the next ten days as Stirling Panthers and Shamrock Rovers vie for top honours. Having withstood the pressure and watched as other challengers came and went, Stirling and Shamrock have gone game-for-game during the past month in a two-horse race to be crowned Amateur League champions. Stirling are in the midst of a red-hot streak of form that's propelled them to the top of the table, however, Shamrock are by no means out of it and sit just a single point behind leading into the final two games of the season.
It really has been a remarkable twelve months for Stirling, who this time last year was being presented with the trophy as First Division champions. The secret of this years' success has been a rock-solid defensive unit that's managed six clean sheets, and paved the way for a dozen wins and one draw in fourteen games. Confidence is not a problem for Stirling, who've hit fourteen goals in four games and face Subiaco AFC on Sunday before a final day fixture at Lynwood United. But with Subiaco and Lynwood both in the relegation mix, the Panthers would be wise not to underestimate either opponent.
Shamrock looked a safe bet to win the league at the seasons' halfway point, by which time they'd collected 28 from a possible 33 points. However, some mid-season stutters saw their lead slowly eroded before conceding top spot to Stirling. Thankfully, Shamrock have steadied the ship with fours wins in five games with team captain Wayne Brooks, sweeper Paudie O'Connor and striker Brian O'Shea the key figures. Shamrock's fate may well be determined on Sunday when they host fourth-placed Fremantle United, which precedes a trip to relegation candidate Southern Spirit on the last day of the season.
Belmont Villa will play in the Premier League next season for the first time in over a decade after storming their way to the First Division title. They look like being joined by Fremantle Croatia, who require only one point from their last two games to participate in the top flight for the first time in club history. Hamersley Rovers' eighteen-year stay in the Premier League is over, but who joins them in the First Division next year is anyone's guess with Subiaco AFC, Southern Spirit, Lynwood United and Arena Joondalup United separated by only two points.
MANDURAH HELPS REKINDLE PAYNE’S LOVE OF FOOTBALL
Scottish import Stephen Payne has Mandurah City to thank for him falling back in love with football. 26-year old Payne arrived in Perth from his homeland in pre-season and, after an initial spell with Sorrento, has not looked back since linking up with the Dolphins on the eve of the home and away series. “I have gained exactly what I wanted from coming to Mandurah, I have fallen back in love with football,” he said. “I lost my way a bit back home and needed a new start and Mandurah gave me that. I now want to repay them by taking Mandurah in to the top five finals and then, hopefully, coming out on top and give the club a good end to what could be thought of as a pretty tricky season.”
Mandurah spent much of the winter occupying fourth place, but heading into the final rounds of the campaign are one of six clubs fighting it out for the two play-off spots left up for grabs. “The season has been eventful to say the least,” said Payne, who knows his club should have secured themselves a top five place a long time ago. “It’s been a funny season to be honest, if you look at our away form we are probably one of the best, if not the best in the league. But our home form has left a lot to be desired, which is a shame for the home support.”
Payne thanked departed first team coach Stuart Currie and his team for giving him the opportunity for plying his trade Mandurah. “I’d like to say a huge thank you to Stuart, he took a big risk in bringing me to Mandurah and helped me settle in Australia,” said Payne. “Ron Harrison was a coach who always kept you motivated and if you needed he would be willing to embarrass you with your level of fitness. Billy Russell, what can I say he is Scottish, and I used to love giving him a bit of stick but when it comes to football he has a wealth of knowledge and I enjoyed learning from what he had to offer.”
Now in charge of Mandurah is former national league striker Stuart Young, someone Payne has the utmost respect for. “If this is Stuart’s first senior role, then I can’t wait to see what he does in the game in the future. He not only knows how to play the game but he has away of making you feel confident in your own ability, he has even made Craig Young think he’s a player,” joked Payne. “But seriously, he’s one of the best managers I have played under. He enjoys football the way in should be played - crisp passing and free-flowing - and he encourages you to express yourself. He’s a great guy and I would love to win something for him in his first season.”
A former professional with Scottish club Aberdeen, Payne is the first to admit his career has up and down. “I’ve played at the highest level in Scotland for Aberdeen before transferring to Queen of the South and later Stranraer Rovers in pursuit of a regular first team spot,” he said. “It was through this transition that I lost my way, going from full-time to part-time football. Looking back now I can see it was through no fault but my own as I took a lot of things for granted when I was younger. But I’ve moved here to Australia and things are going well, I am starting to get my fitness back playing for Mandurah and, hopefully now I can push on and maybe make a step up to the A-League, if given the chance.”
Payne rose up through the ranks at Aberdeen and considers his first team debut against Celtic at Pittodrie Stadium as one of the defining moments in his career. “The highlights would be my Aberdeen debut against Celtic, are they are the team I grew up watching, then playing in the UEFA Cup first round were I came on as a sub,” commented Payne, who went on to make 27 senior appearances for the Dons. He played a further 41 game for Queen of the South and another 15 when with Stranraer. “I’m still young and I hope that there are many more highlights still to come, maybe even a few this season would be nice.”
The chance to play football professionally again would be a dream come true for Payne. “That is ultimately my goal, I know I have a lot to work on and I have to impress the right people at the right time which is a long way from happening but I can only try,” he said. “I’ve spoken to Stuart Young about this and he gave me some invaluable advice, he says just clear your head of all of that and play the game, work on your fitness and then enjoy your football, then if it’s meant to be the rest will fall in to place. Looking back on my career I will never take anything for granted again and with hard work and the right guidance hopefully I will achieve what I have come here for and that is to play at the highest level.”
AWAY GAME IS THE KEY TO RESTORING GLORY : COYNE (courtesy ‘the West Australian’)
Perth Glory's recharged defender Jamie Coyne has emphasised the importance of establishing a respectable away record, admitting it will be the difference between success and failure this season. Glory won only once on the road last season and have been beaten in all three away games this campaign. That contrasts sharply with Glory's home record which stands at two wins and a draw so far this season. But Coyne, who returned last weekend for the first time since round one because of a knee injury, said turning bad away form into respectable results was vital. "Every team banks on winning nine games or so at home to give themselves 25 to 30 points but it's the away form that is going to make the difference in the end," he said.
Glory's ability to improve on their travels will be tested with their next two matches against Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday and Newcastle Jets at EnergyAustralia Stadium the following Friday. A positive result against Brisbane would send a strong message to the rest of the competition that Glory can mount a genuine title bid, but Coyne does not need to be reminded of the club's recent history at Suncorp. Glory were spanked 4-1 and 4-2 last season, although Coyne felt the visitors had not played as poorly as the scores suggested. "We usually play well against them but they are a team that maybe gets the better of us over 90 minutes, so obviously that's something we will be looking to improve," he said. "They've been able to punish us in the past, they're very dangerous and they've got a lot of experience."
The concern for Glory is that this year's lapses have been similar to those that proved costly in the past. Three times the team has conceded late goals - including on Sunday when Shane Smeltz scored a last- minute equaliser for Gold Coast - and they are in seventh place. "It doesn't matter whether it's Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne, Newcastle or whoever, we want to be within touching distance of the top team," Coyne said. "We are not aiming for sixth place. We want to make the finals but we want to put ourselves in the best possible position as well. We want to be near the top of the ladder and, with the players we've got, we feel we are capable of that."
GLORY YOUTH ON THE RADIO
Perth Glory Youth is very much a Western Australian team, consisting of players drawn from local ranks and coached by former Glory stars Gareth Naven and Scott Miller. Last year there was no way for friends, family and fans to stay in touch with the team's performances interstate - but that has now changed with 990am Information Radio and broadcasting Glory Youth away games throughout the 2009/10 season. The first game broadcast is Friday’s match against Brisbane Roar, commencing at 12.30pm. So be sure to tune your dial to 990am where Ashley Morrison will provide full and exclusive coverage of all Glory Youth away games this season.
MITCHELL’S MASTER PLAN COMING TOGETHER
Despite the frustration of conceding late goals, coach David Mitchell is happy with how his new-look Perth Glory team is progressing. With a host of new faces coming in this season, amongst them Socceroos Mile Sterjovski, Jacob Burns and Chris Coyne, Mitchell always knew it would take time for the group to click, but the coach is now starting to see his master plan come together. “It’s a long season now with the 27 games and we are building. We said we would get better and I think everyone can see that we are doing that week in and week out,” Mitchell said. “It’s just a matter of time before we keep winning at home and start picking up points away. That’s a psychological problem that I’m sure we will overcome.”
Glory have performed well at home so far this season, beating Newcastle Jets and Melbourne Victory before being held to a controversial draw by Gold Coast United last weekend. However, they re yet to register a point from three away trips and have back-to-back away games with Brisbane Roar and Newcastle on the horizon. “They are a very good outfit. They have a couple of young guys missing this week, but they have depth in their squad and are a good side,” Mitchell said of Brisbane, who Glory face this Sunday. “They won 3-0 away from home last time and it will be a good challenge for us, but one we are looking forward to. We think we can go into any game or situation and do well.”
Mitchell might be a little frustrated with the way games have gone late in the piece, but was quick to douse any speculation that it’s due to fitness. “When we played Central Coast it wasn’t the player’s fitness that was the problem, it was just a mistake by Tando (Velaphi). When we played Wellington we dominated the second half, hit the bar twice, had two cleared off the line and that wasn’t a fitness issue, so there’s no way we are unfit,” he said. “It has just been a bit of a lack of concentration at certain points and with the free kick that happened, everyone switched off thinking it was ours and credit to Gold Coast for taking it quickly and catching us out.”
GLORY WOMEN TAKE SHAPE
Perth Glory Women have announced their first signing’s for the coming W-League season which kicks off early next month. New coach John Gibson has been assessing a number of potential players over the past six weeks and today confirmed his first dozen recruits. There are eight positions remaining the squad for 2009 with Gibson looking to fill those in the next few weeks. It’s likely two of those spots will go to star Matildas Lisa De Vanna and Collette McCallum, who are both in discussions with Glory about loan arrangements from United States teams Washington Freedom and Sky Blue.
Former Australia goalkeeper Emma Wirkus leads Glory’s four new recruits. “The signing of South Australian based Emma Wirkus will add further strength to our defensive line, and her experience in the Matildas set up and in the inaugural W-League with Adelaide United last year will be great for us,” said Gibson. “Emma will be joined by fellow defenders Elissia Canham, from Queensland, and local Sadie Lawrence, who have been brought into the squad along with Ellis Glanfield. So we have some exciting new youngsters to complement our more experienced players.”
Tanya Oxtoby, last seasons Most Glorious Women’s Player, and Carys Hawkins will marshal the defence with Elisa D’Ovidio, Dani Calautti and Shannon May each looking to build on their first season of W-League football. Gibson is also delighted to have secured for another season the services of local youth international trio Sam Kerr, Marianna Tabain and Ella Mastrantonio. “Retaining Sam, Marianna and Ella was crucial for us in season two of the W-League and I am delighted that they will once again be pulling on the purple of Perth Glory after being approached by a number of eastern states based clubs in the off-season” said the coach. Glory’s first match is away to Melbourne Victory on Saturday 3 October.
VELAPHI GIVES GLORY ANOTHER HEADACHE (courtesy ‘the West Australian’)
Perth Glory goalkeeper Tando Velaphi will be closely monitored this week after he was concussed in the closing stages of Sunday's 2-2 draw with A-League leaders Gold Coast United. Velaphi was taken from the field in stoppage time after colliding with Gold Coast striker Shane Smeltz as he slotted in the last-gasp equaliser. The Glory custodian was taken to hospital for scans and was admitted for observation overnight. He will visit the doctor every day this week and faces a series of tests before a decision is made on whether he plays against Brisbane Roar away on Sunday. Glory's back-up goalkeeper Aleks Vrteski, who rejoined the club this season after a spell in Macedonia with Pobeda, is waiting in the wings.
STAY OF EXECUTION LIKELY FOR QUEENS PARK
There's a very good chance Queens Park will remain in the State League next year, despite finishing at the bottom of the First Division table. Queens Park have struggled to compete this year, winning only once in 20 regular season outings and enduring no less than four changes of coach to sit four points adrift of second-from-bottom Ashfield with two games to play. However, representatives from Amateur Premier League title contenders Stirling Panthers and Shamrock Rovers have indicated their clubs are unlikely to switch to semi-professional football should they finish on top of the table. That would pave the way for Queens Park, one of Western Australia's oldest clubs, to retain their State League status into 2010.
LOWRY SNUBS IRELAND FOR AUSTRALIA
Aston Villa starlet Shane Lowry has pledged his international allegiance to Australia despite having represented the Republic of Ireland at youth level. Lowry, who was born in Perth to Irish parents, advised the Football Assocation of Ireland of his decision to turn his back on his adopted nation last week. “The decision is entirely up to the player,” said an FAI spokesman. “He is eligible for both countries and it’s perfectly within the rules. Players have gone the other way in the past and declared for us. So it’s a case that we’ve benefited from it in the past but this time unfortunately the player has decided to go elsewhere.”
Lowry played regularly for Ireland at under-19 level and in February received promotion to the under-21 side when they played Germany. He has since been a regular squad member and was named to play Estonia in Wednesday’s European Under-21 Championship qualifier before withdrawing on the eve of the game. FIFA regulations state players can change allegiance up until the age of 21 unless already capped at full national team level. Lowry will have to apply to FIFA to officially change his nationality, but the move is thought to be a formality.
LATE LAPSE LEAVES STERJOVSKI DEFLATED
Striker Mile Sterjovski admits to being deflated after Perth Glory blew the chance to remain undefeated at home by conceding a late equaliser to Gold Coast United yesterday. New Zealand international Shane Smeltz popped up in stoppage time to earn Gold Coast a 2-2 draw, and ruin Glory’s perfect home record this season. Glory must now step things up a gear during the next fortnight, in which they have back-to-back away games with Brisbane Roar and Newcastle Jets, to keep their season on track. “We gave the game away,” Sterjovski said. “I thought we dominated most of it, especially in the first half, and I don’t think they came into the game because they played well, we let them back in and that’s very disappointing. It’s very frustrating, but hopefully our luck will change and we can work on the last fifteen minutes where we struggle. Apart from that there were plenty of positives and we deserved a lot more.”
WILLIAMS TARGETING SOUTH AFRICA
Rhys Williams hopes to head off to the World Cup finals next summer. Having initially impressed during a loan spell with Burnley earlier this year, the versatile 20-year old has risen to prominence over the last twelve months. He earned his first cap for Australia in June’s World Cup qualifier against Japan and, more recently, has graduated into the heart of the Middlesbrough midfield. Williams now intends to push on by helping Boro’s drive towards promotion to the Premier League before heading to the World Cup finals next June.
A strong club season will keep Williams in Pim Verbeek’s plans for next year’s trip to South Africa. “I want to be involved and keep getting in the squads. I have to do well and hopefully get to the World Cup,” said Williams, who could have committed his international career to England, Wales, India or Australia. “A long time ago I thought about playing for England and if they had watched me I might have had a decision to make. But I am happy where I am, to be playing for the country where I was born and bred. I only made the final decision on Australia three months ago.”
Born in Perth, Williams says he will forever be in debt to ECU Joondalup, the club he made his first team debut for as a 16-year old and which funded his trip to England five years ago. “They paid for me to come over and my brother is still at the club,” said Williams of Joondalup, who also opened the door for Shane Lowry and Chris Herd to move to Aston Villa. “They have pushed four or five players overseas. Every time I go back I go and see them and watch them play. I train with them to keep fit so I do keep in contact with them.”
SMELTZ STEALS GOLD COAST LATE POINT FROM GLORY
Perth Glory coughed up a golden chance to beat A-League favourites Gold Coast United after the visitors fought back to salvage a 2-2 draw at ME Bank Stadium. The day could not have started better for Glory with Branko Jelic and Victor Sikora netting inside twenty minutes before Bas Van Den Brink pulled a goal back for the visitors early in the second half. Glory looked to have done enough but, with the game in stoppage time, Steve Pantelidis’ cross was turned into the net by New Zealand international Shane Smeltz for his ninth goal of the season. “Our performance first half was exceptional, they’re a good side and we dominated totally… it’s disappointing to concede so late,” coach Dave Mitchell said.
There were 14 minutes on the clock when Glory grabbed the lead as Mile Sterjovski slid a terrific pass out in front of the charging Jelic, who had the easy job of slotting into the net. And two minutes later Naum Sekulovski’s incisive through ball set up Sikora, who had no trouble getting clear of the Gold Coast defence and sliding a shot past Scott Higgins. The rattled visiting team looked a shadow of the side that had won so many plaudits this season and were seemingly unable to cope with the pressure being applied by Glory in every area of the field. Their only decent chance of the half came on 38 minutes when Tando Velaphi produced a fine save to parry away Van Den Brink’s header from a Jason Culina corner.
Gold Coast regrouped at the break and seven minutes after the re-start the deficit had been reduced, Culina and Van Den Brink teaming up again with the defender this time directing his header past Velaphi. The visitors continued to pile on the pressure but found themselves more often than not frustrated by a Glory defence marshalled by Chris Coyne and Andy Todd. The game was in stoppage time when referee Matthew Breeze controversially award Gold Coast a free-kick, despite the foul seemingly being committed on Glory midfielder Amaral; the ball was moved on quickly to Pantelis whose inviting low cross was swept into the net by Smeltz. Unfortunately, in the process of scoring Smeltz had collided with Velaphi, who, with Glory having used their allotted three substitutes, was replaced between the posts for the final minutes by defender Jamie Harnwell.
GOLD COAST KIDS TRUMP GLORY
A couple of second half goals have seen Gold Coast United come from behind to beat Perth Glory Youth 2-1 on a sunny afternoon at ME Bank Stadium. Glory the lead five minutes before the break when Ryan Edwards converted a close-range header. However, the visitors stepped up a gear in the second period, bombarding the Glory goal and equalising through Andrew Barisil’s 67th minute penalty before Ben Wearing’s header gave them maximum points from an entertaining encounter.
Gold Coast came out swinging with impressive striker Chris Harold’s menacing run and shot well saved by Alex Pearson in the Glory goal. Moments later it was Reuban Way that tested Pearson with a fine strike from a narrow angle after some neat work on the right hand side. Glory slowly began to get more involved and not long out from the break captain Andrija Jukic floated a superb free-kick to the back post where Edwards nodded gleefully past goalkeeper Robbie Bajic.
The second half was dominated by an attack-focused visiting team, which was rewarded on 67 minutes when Barisic lashed a penalty kick past Pearson after the Gold Coast played had been unceremoniously felled by Sebit Oyet, who was duly issued his marching orders. The winner arrived ten minutes remaining when an unmarked Wearing ghosted into space and nodded in from Steven Lustica’s free-kick. There was time for more drama, though, as Barisil and Ryan Pearson earned themselves early showers for clashing with each other.
DOLPHINS END CHAMPIONS RUN
Mandurah City’s quest for a second successive finals appearance remains on track following this evenings 2-1 victory over newly crowned Premier League premiers Western Knights at the Hyundai Stadium. Jake Loreto, scored twice for the hosts to bring to an end an eight-game unbeaten steak by the Knights, who claimed regular season honours without kicking a ball after second-placed Perth SC surrendered to Sorrento earlier in the day. “It was good to get the home win as we haven’t had one for a while and it was a good crowd tonight,” said Loreto soon after the final whistle. “Things are really positive at the club now, two weeks ago we were staring relegation in the face but now we’re looking at the top five finals which is great for the club.”
It was a bitterly cold night in Mandurah at kick-off, but a healthy crowd didn’t have to wait long for the action to open up. Only 2 minutes had gone when Andy Brown stormed down the right to deliver a cross that the visiting defence failed to with, and Loreto converted from 5-metres. Mandurah went close to extending their dream start when Brown skipped past Stuart Ferguson to send in another cross, this time to the back post where Daniel Micevski cleared with Alex Darby ready to pull the trigger. The Knights began to settle and on 15 minutes David Mivecski curled a free-kick from distance around the defensive wall but not past Phil Straker, who saved well then reacted quickly to deny Daniel Micevski with the follow-up.
Straker single-handedly maintained the hosts by denying David Micevski with a low save, and ten minutes later the ‘keeper thwarted Daniel Micevski at the near post after he got on the end of an Anthony Campbell cross. Mandurah were still threatening and on 38 minutes Stephen Payne drilled a free-kick into the 18-yard box where Christian Paschkewitz flashed a header just wide of the post. Those who braved the wet and windy weather were on the edge of their seats leading into the break. David Micevski played a free-kick into the area where it was missed by all except Marco Warmt-Murray, whose shot was blocked by Straker and the follow-up deflected wide by Mark Walsh. Mandurah countered a few minutes later found Rafael Insaurralde crashed a shot into the crossbar from 10-metres following a Darby cross.
The second half opened with the Knights on the attack but it took a defensive error for the visitors to draw level. A cross from the left by Warmt-Murray was miss-kicked by Ryan Townsend, the ball falling kindly at the back post for Campbell fired past Straker. At this stage it looked like the Knights would run away with the game, however, Mandurah had other ideas. Payne’s shot on the run forced a good low save from Frazer Siddall, and three minutes later a long throw from Payne was flicked on by Paschkewitz to Darby, whose header was just wide. Play was end-to-end, David Micevski had a shot well held by by Straker and soon after Nicky Platt’s free-kick came off the post with Paschkewitz sending wide the rebound.
The match would be settled in the 73rd minute when great approach work from Brown saw him put the ball with Loreto, who went inside the area by easing around the last defender before firing beyond the reach of Siddall, much to the delight of the Mandurah faithful. The Knights almost hit back immediately with Campbell being afforded far too much room in the middle of the park to unleash a cracking long-range effort that drifted only just wide of the target as Straker scrambled madly across his line. As the clock ticked down Siddall prevented Brown adding a third for Mandurah from a few metres. Campbell’s last minute cross from the right presented a great chance for Warmt-Murray but the unmarked midfielder lifted high at close-range.
HARNWELL SEES GULLS HOME (by Chris Correia, Football West)
Sorrento have denied Perth SC the opportunity to stake a late claim to the Premier League title by defeating the second-placed side 1-0 at Dorrien Gardens. Todd Harnwell’s goal midway through the first half of a scrappy contest furthered Sorrento’s bid for a top five spot against an under-strength yet resilience home team, which nonetheless are assured of second place and a double chance come the play-offs. Perth came out firing with an early Craig Simpson long-ball finding David Onoforo, who controlled well and beat his marker only for goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock to save the shot. Another home attack saw Michael Black pick out Ian McMurray inside the area but the towering striker couldn’t direct his header on target.
Despite the home team looking the goods early, their dominance counted for nought when in the 18th minute Todd Harnwell pounced on an errant back-pass and consummately beat young Luke Martino in goal to put Sorrento one-nil up. The visitors’ confidence was understandably sky high following the goal with Harnwell featuring prominently in their quest for a second. Dangerous balls to Glen Thomas and later Steve McDonald came to nothing with the recipients failing to capitalise on Harnwell’s hard work. As half time approached, Greg Sharland’s free-kick deflected off the defensive wall with Sharrock keeping out the goal-bound threat.
Sharland was back in the mix early in the second half resumed with a powerful drive from the edge of the area that travelling just wide of the post. Jack Clisby swung a threatening corner from the right into the 6-yard box but amazingly it failed to find a team mate in the crowd of bodies. Clisby nearly had the equaliser after stealing possession from Shaun Kilkelly, but the youngster’s effort was wide of the far post. Sorrento had a late chance to make it two-nil via Harnwell’s dangerous pass across the box that to substitute James Morgan, his missed the target with the ball then falling for McDonald who also failed to score from point blank range.
FLOREAT IN SEVENTH HEAVEN (by Michael Bate, Football West)
Johnny Mirco and Branimir Mikulic scored three each against their former club to lay the foundations for Floreat Athena's 7-1 crushing of Cockburn City at Litis Stadium. James Isaia was also on the scoresheet for the home team, who snapped a five-game winless streak to strengthen their grip on third spot on the Premier League table. The flow of goals started on 15 minutes when Mikulic smashed Jason Barrera's cross past Nick Feely from inside the 18-yard box. A couple of minutes later it was two-nil, Feely being caught completely by surprise as Isaia speculatively curled a free-kick from 30-metres inside the near post. Cockburn could have pulled a goal back when a poor back pass put Alex Dunn under pressure, the 'keeper's weak clearance rolling straight to Cameron Edwards whose chip was prevented from crossing the line by John Migas.
There was just no stopping Floreat who added a third on 24 minutes, Isaia again involved as he made a strong run down the right and slid the ball across for Mirco to tap into an empty net. Cockburn's hopes of a comeback vanished on the half hour when Mirco beating a couple of defenders before getting off a shot from 22-metres which Feely should have captured but instead the ball slipped through his hands and legs and into the back of the net. Floreat were in complete control and their dominance was highlighted by a sublime move which saw them put a string of more than twenty passes together before Paul Vatistas fired high of the crossbar.
The second half continued in much the same vein, Daniel Neiderberger feeding the ball through to Mirco who jinxed around one defender and poked the ball past Feely with 50 minutes on the clock. The traveling fans were finally given reason to celebrate on the hour when Devon Gibson latched onto a flick from Feely's long clearance and slid the ball past Dunn from a tight angle. Not long afterwards Gibson could have added a second in similar circumstances but this time Dunn was quick off his line to spoil the opportunity. Mikulic was then unlucky to hit the post with a fine header as Floreat pressed for further goals.
Any disappointment Mikulic felt by that miss was quickly forgotten as he put away a couple of rapdi-fire goals. On 74 minutes the striker brilliantly tamed Adam Bachiller's long ball with his knee before despatching it into the net from just inside the area. Mikulic then became the second Floreat player to score a hat-trick by converting a penalty two minutes later after, to add insult to injury, Cockburn captain Michael Mirco was sent off for a second bookable offence conceding the foul. David Foster and Mirco were inches away from making it 8-1 in the dying minutes, while Renato Jelen was denied a late consolation by Dunn's sharp reaction to a deflected shot.
OSEI-TUTU HAT-TRICK HIGHLIGHTS INGLEWOOD'S SIX-GOAL ROMP (by Chris Leitch, Football West)
Inglewood United collected six second half goals, with Albert Osei-Tutu netting a seven minute hat-trick, to decimate a ten-man Swan United 6-0 at the Swan Italian Club. Coach Shane Pryce was pleased with his side's execution to make the most of the strong westerly that blew straight down the pitch. "Okay, step back and have a look at it - it was against ten men for a long time but you've still got to go and win the game and the boys did really well," he said. "Going with the wind it's a different ball game, so I wanted them to concentrate on getting it wide and getting their crosses in. When you look at our goals, we score a lot through that."
There were few positives to come from the day by Swan, who failed to make the most of the breeze in the first half before Tom Shepheard was shown a red card in the 36th minute for foul and abusive language. Coach Paul Lincoln was confident coming into the match, with wins from four of his last five outings, but he said his side paid a heavy price for the sending off. "I lost Million Butshiire to the Glory, I lost Brendan Craig to suspension and I lose one of my better forwards, I just don't have the depth," he said. "Our decision making was poor, when we concede a goal and they got the second one, we went a bit flat, there was no energy to get forward, we were pretty messy today."
Cory Hugo had a nightmare second half, the Swan goalkeeper dropping the ball into his goal after taking Alex Stamatiadis' 51st minute shot on the line. Osei-Tutu put away his first seven minutes by getting the first touch on a Mladen Kovacevic cross, and soon after converted at close-range after a good build-up involving Danny Richman and Jason Colli. In the 66th minute Stamatiadis drew Hugo off his line before unselfishly putting the ball with Osei-Tutu, who fired his third into an open goal. With the breeze behind them, Inglewood's players were encouraged to shoot from almost anywhere and with five minutes left Alex Cocking opportunistically added his name to the scorers. Cocking iced the cake two minutes into stoppage time by expertly controlling the ball before hitting a powerful shot that curled away from Hugo's dive to end up in the top corner.
STIRLING ON THE RHODES TO THE FINALS (by Tim Lefort, Football West)
Jordan Rhodes scored twice off the bench to provide Stirling Lions with the spark they needed to turn a two-goal deficit into a thrilling 4-2 victory over Canning City at Macedonia Park. Paul Van Dongen and Daniel Trevisiol put the visitors two-goals up inside the half-hour before Phil O’Callaghan pulled one back on the stroke of half-time. The introduction of Rhodes after the interval turned the game, the attacker bringing the teams level then firing Stirling in front, with O’Callaghan’s second of the afternoon securing the hosts all three points.
Stirling coach Mick Lyons admitted there were a few harsh words said during the break after his side’s lacklustre opening 45 minutes. “The first half we were terrible to be honest, we gave them too much time on the ball, so obviously it was a little bit lively in the dressing room at half-time,” he said. “Then I thought we switched on a bit more, got a few goals and might have had a couple more but for a couple of very good saves by their ‘keeper. It’s a great advantage when I can bring the likes of Jordan Rhodes on - Jordan always scores important goals for us.”
Stirling went into the match as the competitions form side but it was bottom-of-the-table Canning who went in front with the first real chance of the game after 15 minutes. Garth Lecky found Van Dongen on the left and from a tight angle the Canning captain squeezed the ball past goalkeeper Kevin Miller and inside the far post. The hosts had a good chance to get back on level terms almost immediately when Marc Anthony’s dangerous free-kick from the right found O’Callaghan, but the ball was slightly too high and flew off the crossbar off the striker’s knee.
Canning were full of confidence and Emlyn Whetnall’s long-range effort forced a good response from Miller, who grabbed the loose ball as an opponent zeroed in. But there was nothing the Lions ‘keeper could do after 25 minutes when Trevisiol met Van Dongen’s pinpoint cross with a brilliant header that nestled in the roof of the net. Jamie DeAbreu’s angled shot hit the side netting as the home side desperately sought a way back into the game. It arrived on 44 minutes, O’Callaghan pouncing on a sloppy pass to advance on goal and drill a low shot in off the far post from 14-metres.
Rhodes replaced Anthony Fearon at the break and immediately Stirling looked more dangerous, O’Callaghan, Rhodes and Anthony all going within a whisker of restoring parity in the opening moments of the half. Canning ‘keeper Daniel Markovic made a brilliant save to deny Ludo Boi, then Dean Evans’ long-range effort fizzled just high. The pressure paid off after 74 minutes when a swift counterattacking play had Boi’s cross from the left hit the penalty spot where Rhodes rammed it first time into the net. Anthony then blazed over when he had time, while at the other end, Rory Mouttet fired straight at Miller.
Stirling’s comeback was made complete in the 83rd minute Rhodes’ header beat Markovic and looped in off the far post. Van Dongen was then guilty of an amazing miss, blasting a cross from the left over the bar from all of 6-metres. Down the other end DeAbreu was brilliantly denied by Markovic. O’Callaghan settled the home side’s nerves after 89 minutes, clinically slotting the ball past the advancing ‘keeper on the end of another counter-attack. The visitors kept pushing forward, Van Dongen forcing Miller into a good save, before opposite number Markovic again thwarted DeAbreu when one-on-one.
PHOENIX RISES OVER WANNEROO
Wanneroo City's hopes of catching First Division leader received a crushing blow when beaten 2-1 by South West Phoenix at Kingsway Sporting Complex. Phoenix conceded early but recovered through goals by Steve Suttie and David Rodgers to hold the upper hand at half-time, then held firm in a fast and furious second stanza to secure the points. Wanneroo came out firing and with 5 minutes gone hit the front when Phoenix custodian Ryan Montgomery was wrong-footed by Suttie’s defensive header at a Guy McDonald long ball. Wanneroo should have increased their lead soon after when a fast break had Brian Cairney, Craig Tooley and Rowdy Yates out-number the defence, however, the formers attempted centre was cut out by Dylan Stevens.
With Rodgers and Kieran Kavanagh having an increasing influence on proceedings, Phoenix began to get more involved. A couple of half chances came the way of Anthony Russo but on both occasions he was closed down but a defensive lapse just after the half hour was all the invitation the visitors needed to draw level. Kavanagh’s hopeful cross to the top of the 18-yard box took a bigger than expected bounce to find Suttie, whose volley should have been covered by goalkeeper Sam Cornwell. Phoenix’s growing confidence was rewarded with the lead just before half-time, Patrick Quinn releasing Rory Binnie who picked out an unmarked Rodgers at 6-metres from where he powered a header into the net.
Refreshed from the break, Wanneroo almost found an equaliser within a minute of the restart but Guy McDonald’s powerful header was unluckily kept out by Montgomery’s legs. Rodgers could have secured victory for Phoenix in a goal mouth scramble that had Cornwell make a remarkable instinctive save. The game see-sawed in this same fashion for the rest of the afternoon, Cairney hitting the crossbar with a fine strike from distance before Binnie lifted high of the bar at close-range at the other end. As their season slowly slipped away Wanneroo created a rash of late half chances, all of which went unconverted, as Phoenix posted their first win at Wanneroo since 2003.
BAYSWATER OUT-MANOEUVRE FREMANTLE
Bayswater City moved into sixth place - and only two points off fourth - after defeating Fremantle Spirit 2-1 in an entertaining tussle at Frank Drago Reserve. Early territorial advantage was held by Fremantle thanks largely to a strong crosswind, but with through balls often running away from their forwards no genuine chances on goal resulted. Bayswater captain Anthony Jones created the first opportunity when he played down the right channel for Gustavo Marulanda, his cross picked out Ryan Jeans whose shot was saved by the goalkeeper. By this stage the home team were getting a lot of joy out of the right wing from where Tommy Jones' sweeping cross was just out of Jeans' reach. The breakthrough came via a booming Bobson Koroma clearance that came off a couple of Fremantle heads before Marulanda stepped in to net at the second opportunity after the 'keeper blocked his initial effort.
Fremantle grabbed a quick equaliser after the break, Ravi Kuppasamy expertly lobbing the advancing 'keeper after getting on the end of a bouncing ball that cleared Paul Hickey. A tense game of cats and mouse ensued with Bayswater sitting deep and breaking on the counterattack while Fremantle worked hard to get around the back of their hosts. The deciding goal arrived just after the hour when Ryan Frisina swung in a deep corner which fellow substitute Ahmed Hafez headed powerfully into the net. Chasing the game once again, Fremantle pushed forward and Kuppasamy should have done better than skew the ball wide after being put one-on-one with Koroma by a defensive mix-up. The final margin would have been greater had Bayswater been able to apply more quality in the finishing department, the hosts catching their opponents exposed at the back on several occasions leading into the final whistle.
FRANCIS STARS AS GOSNELLS DUMP NEIGHBOURS
Darren Francis scored three and set up another to orchestrate Gosnells City a 5-1 win against bottom-of-the-table Queens Park at Walter Padbury Reserve. Eleven minutes were on the clock when Francis showed great strength and determination to fend off two opponents before threading the ball in for Stuart Aitken to drive into the 18-yard box and rocket a shot between the goalkeeper and his near post. And thus the tone was set for the first half, Gosnells challenging strongly for every ball to have Queens Park camped in their defensive half for extended periods. But it took until just before half-time for the hosts to increase their lead when Daley Rothwell launched a throw into the area where, in a mass of bodies, Francis rose highest to nod inside the back post.
Gosnells opened the second half in much the same fashion, Aitken presented with a simple tap for his second of the day after 'keeper Blake Marlew failed to hold a 52nd minute cross from Daiten Twyman. Goal number four arrived fourteen minutes later when Darren Francis' scuffed shot from outside the box somehow slipped under the 'keeper's body. With the result now beyond doubt, Gosnells took the opportunity to bring teenagers Liam Cave and Jack Bamber off the bench for their first team debuts. On 77 minutes Johnathon Cole grabbed Queens Park a consolation by slotting his penalty kick to the right of 'keeper Alan Dunlop. Darren Francis returned the margin to four-goals soon after by heading in powerfully an inviting cross by Ian Maguire.
COYNE CRAVES SOCCEROOS SPOT
Chris Coyne is determined not to become a forgotten Socceroo as he targets an international comeback against the Netherlands and then Oman next month. An integral part of the squad that romped through qualification for the 2010 World Cup, the Perth Glory stopper was overlooked for Australia’s last two internationals against the Republic of Ireland and the Korea Republic. But as competition heats up for places on the plane to South Africa with the likes of Matthew Spiranovic, Mark Milligan, Jade North, Craig Moore and Michael Beauchamp jousting for places alongside skipper Lucas Neill, Coyne had no desire to miss out.
Coyne has no regrets about quitting English third tier side Colchester United for a homecoming at Glory and is optimistic about getting the nod next month. “I like to feel that every time I come in I’ve done a job and hopefully that will work in my favour when Pim (Verbeek) names his squad for those games,” Coyne told ‘the World Game’ website. “Of course I’d have liked to have been involved against Ireland and Korea but I knew when I came back the likelihood would be I’d miss some games. It’s still early days in terms of getting picked for South Africa. It will be a long season and there could be a few twists and turns to come. I think around Christmas time is when the big decisions will start to be made.”
Coyne knows that his dream of playing at the World Cup hinges on a solid summer season with Glory. “I just have to do so well for Perth that he can’t leave me out. One of the reasons I came back was to be in a position where Pim would get to see me over 27 rounds, whereas at Colchester that wouldn’t have been the case,” said Coyne, who welcomes the traffic snarl on Verbeek’s white board. “Competition is healthy for the players and the country. Whoever gets picked has the blessing of us all. There is a friendly rivalry for places but ultimately we wish the best for each other.”
A member of the Australian side which shocked the Netherlands 2-1 in Eindhoven a year ago, Coyne would relish the chance to lock horns with Robin van Persie and company in Sydney, and Oman four days later in Melbourne. “That’s a massive target,” added Coyne, who made the first of his seven Socceroos appearances against Iraq 15 months ago. “I did well against them (Holland) before and I’d love to get back in the mix again. Even though I’ve missed the last two games, Pim’s been good to me and I respect his judgement. I just have to get on with it.”
With the unpalatable task of reining in Gold Coast United scoring machine Shane Smeltz at ME Bank Stadium on Sunday, Coyne is slowly coming to terms with the A-League. “It’s a different thought process than England. I’m enjoying it. It’s the first time I’ve played competitively here and it’s chalk and cheese compared to England. It’s less physical here. In England it’s a war of attrition. You can use your body more to effect the course of a game. You probably get away with more, whereas here it’s more a mental game in some ways. It’s quite an under-rated competition.”
THE PREMIER LEAGUE IN PREVIEW
Swan United v Inglewood United (Referee: Paul Anderson)
One of Swan United or Inglewood United will consolidate their place in the top five after going head-to-head at the Swan Italian Club (3.00pm) tomorrow. Inglewood won 3-1 on their last visit to the Swan Valley and a similar result this time around could propel them to as high as fourth in what has been a very trying season. "With three different coaches this year it's been hard for the team to settle down and play the same style," said midfielder Alex Stamatiadis. "Although that's happened, the boys have done well too be battling for a top five finish and we go to Swan full of confidence and looking for three points."
Paul Lincoln has been pleased with Swan's recent form and hopes they can push on to claim a top five finish. "The players are aware of what is required from an individual and team perspective and it would be a terrific experience for the younger players to taste finals football," he said. "There is a long way to go before then and we face a tough test on Saturday against Inglewood United. They recently knocked League leaders Western Knights out of the Cup and have won their past two games, so we are well aware that it will be a difficult game. But we go into it confident we can win our ninth game of the season."
Mandurah City v Western Knights (Referee: Joe Fusari)
Premier League leaders Western Knights travel south to Hyundai Stadium to meet Mandurah City (7.00pm) under lights. Paul Price's need only a few more points to return the regular season trophy to Nash Field, whereas a win for Mandurah is vital to keep their top five plans intact. Stuart Young won his first game as Dolphins coach last week at Sorrento and the former national league striker has a full compliment to choose from for the Knights visit. Perth Glory Youth commitments prevent David Price and Mario Marcinko from turning out for the Knights, who nonetheless go into the game as the red-hot favourite.
Perth SC v Sorrento (Referee: David Costello)
Sorrento, who have slipped perilously close to the drop zone, heads to Dorrien Gardens in search of their first away win over Perth SC (3.00pm) since 2004. Gulls custodian Cyril Sharrock and veteran defender Stuart Banks are going to have to be on their toes against lethal Perth attack, while Todd Harnwell hopes to celebrate the birth of his daughter, Lily, with a goal or two. It’s likely to be an experimental Perth outfit that takes to the park, coach Graham Normanton struggling for numbers with no fewer than fourteen players unavailable for a variety of reasons, amongst them Antonio Naglieri, David Onoforo, Ian McMurray and Gianfranco Circati.
Floreat Athena v Cockburn City (Referee: Michael Nugus)
Johnny Mirco comes up against his former club when Floreat Athena hosts Cockburn City at Litis Stadium (3.00pm). Having watch Floreat let a two-goal lead slip away last week coach Michael Roki hopes they can get back to form sooner rather than later. "Failure to pick up maximum points against Perth has increased the importance of our Cockburn clash this weekend as a number of clubs are now hot on our heels," he said. "Cockburn have been hot and cold this year - a bit like us - but they have plenty to play for with Premier League status not yet secured for 2010." Cockburn coach Scott Miller has negotiated Cameron Edwards' availability but not that of goalkeeper Nick Feely, who be missing due to Glory Youth commitments.
Stirling Lions v Canning City (Referee: Michael Tolmie)
Things aren't getting any easier for bottom-of-the-table Canning City, who come up against a revitalised Stirling Lions at Macedonia Park (3.00pm). Perth Glory Youth trio Ludovic Boi, Dean Evans and Steven Hesketh will line-up for the home team following discussions with the A-League club, however, suspension will keep Rick Brewer out of the action. "Canning will be tough; they will no doubt be up for the game due to their current position," said assistant coach Gary Williams. "I remember going down there and losing 4-0 in a game where we were very poor. We have tightened up a lot defensively since then and during this run (of five wins in a row) the back four have been outstanding."
It's not been though a want of trying that Canning have managed just a single point from nine outings to slip into the relegation zone. "This is a must-win game as last week we once again managed to lose a game which we had in our grasp - to miss a penalty when 2-1 up then to lose in the last seconds was upsetting to say the least," said Canning coach Frank Longstaff of last weeks capitulation to Inglewood. "Stirling are on a roll and a very good side but we feel we can go there and get something, then hopefully pull ourselves to safety in the last two games." But that task has been made slightly more difficult with Greg Newcombe and George Tchami serving suspension.
Armadale v ECU Joondalup (Referee: Ton Klaver)
ECU Joondalup are away to Armadale (3.00pm) with each desperate for victory, albeit for very different reasons. "We've played well in recent weeks and haven't got the results we have deserved. But we will be fighting to pick up three points this weekend and move away from the foot of the table," said Reds coach Brad Hassell, who farewell import midfielder Danny Mahoney at the conclusion of the round. Glory Youth team commitments rule out Ryan Pearson but not goalkeeper Alex Pearson, while Gary Faria is a welcome addition to the match day squad for an Armadale team that hovers just a couple of points above the drop zone.
Visiting coach Syd Amphlett is under no illusions that second-from-bottom Armadale are going to be a pushover. "It's another tough game - Armadale are fighting desperately for points and we're battling to stay in contention for the top five," he said. "James Robinson has been on fire for Army, and we know it is Danny Mahoney's last game so he'll want to leave on a high. But our lads are up for it and it should be a cracker." Injury continues to sideline Joondalup's Garin Collins and may also claim James Sammut and Craig Cheeseman, but they are countered by the availability of Scott Bushby and Tommy Swatton, who has been impressing in the Reserves.
THE FIRST DIVISION IN PREVIEW
All eyes will be on Kingsway Sporting Complex and the second verses third contest between Wanneroo City and South West Phoenix. Wanneroo have been inspired form of late, winning their last five games thanks in part to the goal scoring talents of Brian Cairney, and anything less than another three points could well hand promotion to Balcatta. Phoenix thrashed Wanneroo by four goals when the sides met earlier in the season and an encore performance can enhance their chances of a top two finish to the season.
Goals have been flowing freely for Balcatta, Ashley Rosendale and Bobby Klenkoski netting in excess of thirty times between them, and there's likely to be a few more added when struggling Rockingham City visit Graham Burkett Reserve. Bayswater City against Fremantle Spirit at Frank Drago Reserve promises to be an entertaining occasion. Morley Windmills are expected to return from Dianella White Eagles with all three points. Ashfield have a tough home game against Forrestfield United. Gosnells City welcome eastern corridor rival Queens Park to Walter Padbury Reserve..
COYNE COMES IN, HARNWELL AND DADI WAIT IN HOPE
Perth Glory defender Jamie Coyne will be thrown into the heat of battle against Gold Coast United at ME Bank Stadium on Sunday after proving his fitness during a midweek scratch match. Coyne, who injured a knee in the round one defeat to Adelaide United, will slot into right back in place of Scott Neville, who has been sick since last week's loss to Central Coast Mariners. David Mitchell's extended 17-player squad also includes Jamie Harnwell, who has recovered from a serious hamstring tear, and out-of-favour striker Eugene Dadi.
Coyne and Harnwell announced their readiness to return to the fray by completing an hour-long workout at Joondalup on Wednesday evening. "They got through the game so that was good," Mitchell said yesterday. "I said last week I just felt they needed another week's training, and they've had that. It was important that they had a bit of a run before they came back in." Victor Sikora has shrugged off a knee complaint and should be involved against Gold Coast, who are two points clear at the top of the A-League table.
Mitchell has persevered with the same starting eleven for the past four matches - for two wins and two losses - but Neville has been grounded with flu this week. "Jamie Coyne will be starting at right back ... I think Nev needs a total rest. He's as keen as mustard but he's been ill and he can recharge his batteries by having a week off," said Mitchell, who will make a late decision as to the make-up of his 15-player match-day squad. "I haven't decided on the final line-up . . . I've got a few decisions to make."
Gold Coast sharpshooter Shane Smeltz is due to join his teammates in Perth today after bagging a double in New Zealand's 3-1 friendly win over Jordan in the Middle East on Wednesday. Smeltz has scored eight goals in five A-League matches this season but against Glory will be without one of his chief supply lines, Joel Porter, who has a calf injury. However, the absence of Porter is offset by the return of midfield playmaker Jason Culina, who missed last weekend's win over Sydney FC due to international duty with the Socceroos.
JUNGLE SPORTS IS No.1 FOR JUNIORS
The Jungle Sports weekend program is now the biggest and best fun sports development program for 3 to 7-year olds in Perth. Held at six indoor venues across the metropolitan area - Subiaco, Mt Lawley, Joondalup, Melville, Rockingham and Guildford - you can choose from Soccer, Multi-Sports, Rugby or 6 to 8-year olds ZONE Soccer. In addition, Jungle Sports have introduced the brand new Jungle Cubs program, which is a specifically designed sports program for children aged between 18-months and 3 years of age and their parents at four venues across Perth on weekday mornings.
Jungle Sports is unique with its involvement of parents in the sessions, giving you a fantastic hour of structured fun with your child. If you have not experienced Jungle Sports before, do not miss this opportunity for you and your child to have loads of fun whilst learning new sporting skills. There really is no better way to spend a morning having fun with your child! To register for the Jungle Sports Holiday clinics at ECU Mt Lawley and Lords in Subiaco during October, or for the new term which commences from 17 October, visit www.junglesports.com.au or call 9471 8444. Don't let your child miss out on the fun, register them now!
KNIGHTS HAVE SURPASSED EXPECTATIONS : MICEVSKI
It’s been an amazing season for Western Knights, who are poised to bring the regular season trophy back to Nash Field for the first time since 2004. Their success has proved the critics wrong and surprised even some of the players, including right-sided midfielder Daniel Micevski who never imagined the Knights would have one hand on the trophy with a few rounds to play. “I did feel confident at the start of the season as we had a good pre-season and made some good additions to the squad,” he said. “But the way we have gone about things this season and the position we find ourselves at the moment has definitely surpassed my expectations.”
While an injury ravaged 2008 tested the Knights mettle - the ninth place gained was their worse finish in fifteen years - it did end with the prestigious Soccer Pools Cup in their possession. Micevski, who was best on ground in the 2-0 final victory over Sorrento, feels the current squad has something extra over that of last year. “The team that won the Cup was a very good team. We had most of our players available against Sorrento, which was something we didn’t have throughout the year, and we showed what we are capable of,” he said. “But I would say our team now is possibly stronger, it has different strengths and is a little more experienced and confident.”
There have been several contributing factors to the Knights taking the league by storm this year according to Micevski. “There’s the good work of the club committee, club members and the supporters, who’ve given us fantastic support throughout the season,” he said. “The coaching staff have obviously done a fantastic job and have given players the structure, opportunity and confidence to be successful. There’s a strong ‘togetherness’ throughout the squad, we’ve performed well most weeks and have been lucky to have a relatively unchanged side throughout the season.”
The influence of former Wales international defender, Paul Price, who succeed long-serving Knights coach Ronnie Campbell late last ear, has also been significant. “Paul has been fantastic and has really got the best from all of the players. He’s given us the hunger and self-belief needed to be successful,” commented Micevski, who has the utmost respect for the former Tottenham Hotspur and Luton Town player. “I’ve had the opportunity to play under the guidance of some fantastic coaches over the years. Paul has kept me on my toes throughout the season and tried to get the best out of me every week.”
Micevski is also delighted with how his season has gone on a personal level. “It’s been a relief to stay injury-free, I picked up a lot of injuries and missed large chunks of the last few seasons,” commented Micevski, who played only a handful of games for Stirling Lions in 2007 then missed a good part of last year with a fractured ankle. “I’m very critical of myself, but am happy with my form this season. I had a good pre-season and have kept myself fairly fit and healthy all year. I enjoy playing on the flanks and I have tried my best to give good service offensively and defensively.”
The Knights can secure the Premiership with victory at Mandurah City on Saturday, however, an away team win is by no means a foregone conclusion. A late Anthony Campbell goal was all that separated the sides when they met at Nash Field in June, and with Mandurah one of a several in the mix for a top five finish this game won’t be decided until the very last kick. “Mandurah are a good side and have quality players in all positions,” commented Micevski. “We are going to have to be at the top of our game to get a result against them.” The Knights pit skills with Mandurah at Hyundai Stadium (aka Peelwood Parade) from 3.00pm on Saturday.
SOCCER POOLS CUP FINAL BREAKFAST
In days gone by part of the spectacle of making the final of Western Australia’s premier football knockout Cup competition was the breakfast on the morning of the match. That traditions was re-instated last year with the Soccer Pools Cup Final Breakfast (pdf, 265kb) at the Duxton Hotel, and in 2009 the occasion promises to be bigger and better than ever. Players from Floreat Athena and Inglewood United will be in attendance, as will former England international and European Cup winner Peter With, for what will be an exciting prelude to the 2009 Soccer Pools Cup Final. Contact Ashley Morrison via email@example.com or on 0418 907 478 to purchase tickets to the Soccer Pools Cup Final Breakfast and be part of the glitz and glamour that is Cup Final day.
Teenagers Byron Hudson (Cockburn City) and Jessie Makarounas (Inglewood United) are amongst 28-players invited into camp with the Australian Under-17’s this week. The four-day camp at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra provides coach Jean-Paul de Marigny a final look at players in contention for Joeys selection for the AFC Under-16 Championship qualifiers which will be held in Canberra during October.
Stirling Lions will face Football West later this month to answer allegations of bringing the game into disrepute. The club may face charges relating to the projection of missiles onto the field of play and acting in a manner prejudicial to the game stemming from an incident during the recent home fixture with Floreat Athena that saw Adam Bachiller struck on the face by a cigarette lighter thrown from the crowd. Stirling president Don Evans said he believed the referee’s report would look favourably on the way club officials had handled the incident.
Football West are seeking development coaches for a number of programs that are run throughout the year. The associations programs range from Futsal development, Street Fourz and Harvey Fresh Holiday Clinics to the High Performance Programs, Girls and Boys State Teams and the National Training Centre. Interested coaches are invited to send their CV, along with an email outlining their interest, experience and accreditation levels, to firstname.lastname@example.org
ROBINSON SET FOR A BIG FINISH
If you were looking for the moment Armadale turned their season around then it’s hard to go past the June arrival of James Robinson. But although the Reds have played some quality football in the past few months, with Robinson regularly finding, the English striker admits he’s perplexed that his club is still involved in a relegation battle. “It’s been a strange season really, I can’t quite believe where we are in the league,” he said. “Our performances certainly have been better than the league table suggests, and I think on our day we can beat any of the other teams. Maybe a lack of experience in the side has hindered us at key moments in games, but we’ve definitely been entertaining to watch.”
Robinson marked his Armadale return by bagging a hat-trick against ECU Joondalup and leading the club to their first win of the winter. Points tallied up quickly for the eastern corridor club over following round, however, in recent times they’ve stumbled and with three games to go are placed second-from-bottom. “We’ve had some tough away fixtures in recent weeks, such as Perth SC, Mandurah City and Western Knights. Probably with a little luck we could’ve had more points then we ended up with,” said the 26-year old. “Still, with three games left, two are at home, we expect to pick up enough points to stay up.”
As Armadale fight for their top flight survival, an interesting battle has been waging away at the other end of the table where Western Knights and Perth SC have gone blow for blow in the race for regular season honours. “I like the way Perth play. You have to work hard when you play them because they pass the ball around so well. They also have a little nastiness about them, which you need to win things,” said Robinson. “I’m surprised Perth are not top but, fair play to the Knights, they’re a physically strong team, are well organised and they have some good players too.”
Robinson made a considerable impression on the State League last year during a three-month spell with Armadale in which he found the net on eleven occasions. He’s continued that same form over into 2009, scoring another eleven goals in as many appearances - and with the promise of more to come. “Last season we were chopping and changing a lot and I played some games up front on my own, so it was more difficult (to score goals),” commented Robinson. “I’m certainly playing better this year; I think the way we’ve played as a team has helped. The team has been more settled of late and I’m really enjoying my football.”
At the end of last season Robinson headed back to England to re-join non-League outfit Maldon Town, where his stay was only brief. “I left Maldon when I got back because the manager had been sacked after a poor start and a lot of players had left,” he explained. “I thought I could better myself elsewhere so I joined a team in the league above - Heybridge Swifts. I was playing wide left and scored a few goals but, unfortunately, I left before the end of the season for personal reasons. So when I return home this time I’ll probably take a break and then decide where I go from there.”
The State League is clearly a good fit for Robinson, whose knack of putting the ball in the back of the net has put him in the sights of several Premier League. With the big striker mulling over his playing options beyond the end of this month, he admits to being seriously tempted by another season in Perth albeit not necessarily based at Alfred Skeet Oval. “The club haven’t spoken to me about returning yet, but it’s certainly something I’ll consider,” he said. “It would be nice to come back and be challenging up the other end of the table though, and I’m sure Brad (Hassell) will build on this season, so we’ll see.”
JONES EYES BORO RETURN
Goalkeeper Brad Jones is in line to make his first appearance of the English season when Middlesbrough takes on Ipswich Town this weekend. The Australian international is yet to play this season after he damaged his ankle on the eve of the new season. Manager Gareth Southgate has been impressed by veteran 'keeper Danny Coyne, signed in the off-season from Tranmere Rovers, but has a big decision to make as the veteran struggles with a back injury. "Brad's in full training now and he's ready to play. It's a long week leading up to the game so we'll see how things go with his injury," said Boro goalkeeping coach Stephen Pears. "Danny has had a problem with his back for the last few days so we'll have to see what happens ... But Brad is one of those players who can go straight in without a reserve game, so if he is called up, he will be ready."
SKORICH CLOSE TO PUTTING HIS HAND UP FOR SELECTION
A hip injury has made Anthony Skorich's first few months as a Perth Glory very frustrating. But, thankfully, there is light at the end of the tunnel for 19-year old Skorich who is itching to force his way into Glory's first eleven. "The hip is coming good now, I've started training the last three weeks so hope to be available for the first Youth team game against Gold Coast United," said the striker. "It's been very frustrating for me ... but it's given me added incentive to make sure the body is feeling all right before I go out to avoid further long-term injuries. Watching training is the hardest part because you just want to run out there and join in."
Skorich, a product of State League club Western Knights, gave a good indication of what he can do by scoring five times in eleven appearances for Glory Youth last season. This lead to four outings for the first team under coach David Mitchell towards the end of last summer, where Skorich marked his A-League starting debut with a goal against Queensland Roar. "The hard work starts now but it will be good to get back out there and help the boys during the season," said Skorich. "Mitch threw me in last year a few times, which did show he had faith in me, and I guess I just have to build on that this year and, hopefully, bag a few more goals."
Glory added considerable depth and strength across the field through an active off-season recruitment drive that brought to Perth several seasoned professionals, namely strikers Mile Sterjovski and Branko Jelic, midfielder Jacob Burns and defeisve pair Chris Coyne and Andy Todd. "The players that have come in this season are all great players and all bring a sense of real professionalism with them, which is great for the team," commented Skorich, who harbours a strong desire to one day continue his career abroad. "I've always wanted to play in Europe, and if everything goes well I'd like to be playing over there in three years."
With plenty of spare time on his hands, Skorich has been a State League regular during the winter and is understandably delighted by the Knights success. "I've watched nearly every Knights game this season and for me they've looked just too powerful for most of the other sides. Pricey (Paul Price) has made some good signings, and they have a great team spirit. They have gelled quickly - with both strikers have scored over ten goals, they have the best defence in the league in front of probably the best goalkeeper, Frazer Siddall. I still keep in touch with most of the boys and go down to the club for a free feed on Thursday," Skorich joked.
GOALS! GOALS! GOALS!
There may be only a handful of games remaining in season 2009 but the race for the Golden Boot is far from over. Damien Scali positioned himself to become the third Swan United to win the much sought-after award by netting twice last weekend to move to 13 goals for the season. But hot on his trail and just one strike behind are previous Golden Boot recipients Phil O’Callaghan (Stirling Lions/Mandurah City) and David Onoforo (Perth SC) along with ECU Joondalup young gun Tommy Amphlett and Mario Marcinko (Western Knights). Anthony Campbell (Knights) is also in the mix with 11 goals, which is one more than James Robinson (Armadale) and Phil Arnold (Perth).
Leading the quest for the First Division top goal scorer is Balcatta’s off-season recruit Ashley Rosendale, whose return to date is 20 goals. A hat-trick last time out took David Rodgers (South West Phoenix) to 17 goals, while seven goals in four games has propelled Wanneroo City marksman Brian Cairney to 15 for the season. Level with 13 goals each Jordan Hart (Forrestfield United) and Bobby Klenkoski (Balcatta) with Steve Suttie (Phoenix) hovering on 11 goals. That’s one more than Ravi Kuppusamy (Fremantle Spirit), Ryan Jeans (Bayswater City) and Dianella White Eagles captain Dragan Njegic.
MRDJA BACK ON TRACK
Nik Mrdja believes he is closing in on a return to his best as he looks to get a full 90 minutes under his belt for the first time in more than two seasons at Central Coast Mariners. The 30-year old striker endured a horror run of knee injuries over the last two seasons but appeared in fine touch against his former club Perth Glory last weekend, using his deft ball skills to set up several Mariners chances in the 2-1 victory. “It’s been a long road, but I’m definitely trying to slowly improve and, hopefully I’m getting more into it every game,” said Mrdja. “It’s been a long time, I actually can’t remember the last time I played 90 minutes, but when the time is right I’m sure (coach) Lawrie (McKinna) will play me as long as he can.”
Mrdja has had a frustrating run of serious knee injuries, which have restricted him to bit part roles throughout the last two campaigns. But back to full fitness and with a positive outlook, the signs are that maybe the former Glory talisman has finally left those troubles behind him. “At the moment everything is going well, the knee, touch wood, is just about the best it has ever been so now it’s just about strengthening,” he said. “Slowly as my leg gets stronger I’ll start to feel better and better on the field … If I can contribute slightly more every week it will be a bonus for the team.”
Mrdja is hopeful the Mariners can built on the win against Glory and develop some winning momentum as it takes on a struggling Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium on Friday night. “I think they are probably the most vulnerable that they have been in a while, so this is a good chance for us to go there and steal the win and come home with three points, which would put us up in the top mix,” said Mrdja. “At the same time we have to makes sure we don’t go there and cop any goals, work hard, work on our shape and I’m sure we’ll come through with the result.”
SIKORA, NEVILLE MAJOR DOUBTS FOR GLORY
David Mitchell is preparing to go into Sunday’s match with A-League leader Gold Coast United without the services of former Dutchman international Victor Sikora and exciting young defender Scott Neville. The pair have not trained this week, Sikora due to an injury suffered in last week’s loss to Central Coast Mariners while a bout of flu has kept away Neville. “Scotty is not well and Victor has taken a bit of a knock, so it’s just a wait and see for those two players,” said the coach.
Former Glory captains Jamie Coyne and Jamie Harnwell, who have recovered from knee and hamstring problems, will play in a scratch match tonight to determine their readiness to take on the Gold Coast. “The boys are fit now. They’ve had a good week’s training and they are looking sharp so we’ve got a bit of a run tonight with them,” Mitchell said. “I’ll determine how good they look from that because they haven’t played for a long time.”
Gold Coast has won four of five games played this season to hold a two-point lead over Sydney FC at the top of the table. “I think at the moment they are the most consistent team - that’s why they are top of the league. They’ve only lost one game and they’ve won the rest,” Mitchell said. “Over the duration of the season they might not be there and that’s why we hope to be better and better and hopefully be around there at the end of the season.”
WORLD CUP CALL-UP FOR VILLA’S HERD
Chris Herd will wear the green and gold of Australia for the first time after being selected in the Young Socceroos squad for this month’s FIFA Under-20 World Cup. Herd, who started out with Bayswater City and these days plays his club football for English Premier League club Aston Villa, was amongst the 21-players selected by national youth coach Jan Versleijen for the tournament in Egypt that commences on 24 September. However, Adelaide United goalkeeper Mark Birighitti, who consistently featured in the squad throughout the qualifying stages, was a notable omission from Versleijen’s list.
Herd has come on in leaps and bounds since arriving at Villa Park in early 2005 with Shane Lowry. Having mark his mark with the youth team, he was awarded a two-year contract in mid-2007 and played the early part of the following year on loan to Port Vale and Wycombe Wanderers, making a combined total of 15 appearances and scoring two goals. Herd helped Villa defeat Juventus in the final of last month’s Peace Cup, and recently played a full game in the reserves 2-1 defeat of West Ham United.
The Young Socceroos depart next Monday for a pre-tournament training camp in Cyprus where they are scheduled to play friendlies with Trinidad and Tobago, the United State of America and England. They’ll then move on to the northern Egyptian city of Port Said for the initial phase of the tournament in which they’re drawn to meet the Czech Republic, Costa Rica and Brazil. Australia qualified for the tournament having made the semi-finals of the AFC Under-19 Youth Championships in Saudi Arabia last year.
The Australia squad for the Under-20 World Cup in Egypt is Daniel Mullen (Adelaide United), James Holland (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Herd (Aston Villa), Aaron Mooy (Bolton Wanderers), Luke DeVere, Mitch Nichols, Thomas Oar (Brisbane Roar), Andrew Redmayne (Central Coast Mariners), Tahj Minniecon (Gold Coast United), Ryan McGowan (Hearts), Alex Cisak (Leicester City), Dean Bouzanis (Liverpool), Sam Gallagher (Manly United), Nathan Elasi (Melbourne Victory), Jason Hoffman, Ben Kantarovski, Sean Rooney (Newcastle Jets), Kofi Danning, Rhyan Grant, Matthew Jurman and Sam Munro (Sydney FC).
TIME IS TIGHT SAYS COYNE
Perth Glory defender Chris Coyne, who is accustomed to competing in the 40-plus games of an English season, has warned that his new club can afford few slip-ups in a campaign just over half as long. The inclusion this season of North Queensland Fury and Gold Coast United, who take on Glory at ME Bank Stadium on Sunday, increased the A-League season to 27 games, however, Coyne says there's still little room for error. "If you slip up too many times, all of a sudden the games get away from you," he told Jonathon Cook of the 'West Australian' newspaper. "I think from the first few games bedding in, every single game is a massive game."
Glory are unbeaten at home this season but face their stiffest test yet against Gold Coast before successive away games with Brisbane Roar and Newcastle Jets. "People have got to realise it's already round six coming up," Coyne said. "There's only 21 games left and they can slip away quickly if you don't get results and do things properly early on." Glory had an early look at Gold Coast when the teams met pre-season in Bunbury and the visitors won 1-0. "They are a good, strong well organised side and having the opportunity to play them in pre-season was a good insight into what they are about," Coyne said.
INGLEWOOD ARE RESERVES PREMIERS – AGAIN!
Inglewood United have secured the Reserve Premier League title for the third time in four years. A scoreless draw at Canning City on Saturday was enough to wrap up the premiership for Inglewood, who are ten points clear of nearest rival ECU Joondalup with three games to play. "It's been tough this season with all the comings and goings, but we're chuffed to bits that we have been able to wrap it up with three games remaining. It is a credit to the lads that they’ve been able to see this through," said delighted coach Kevin Brophy.
A foundations for success were laid early by Inglewood, who won thirteen of their first fourteen games, before a late season fade-out caused by the promotion of several players to senior ranks. "A number of players stepped up to the first team in recent weeks and we have not been as strong as we were in the first half of the season," explained Brophy. "Whilst it is great to win leagues, I get more of a buzz seeing someone step up and doing well. The best moment for me this season was not winning the league, but beating Western Knights in the Cup semi-final, it was not only a good performance but we had seven players in the squad that had come up through the 23's."
Brophy is thrilled with the progress made by some of his young charges. "This is Sandi Loncar's first real season of senior football, he can be anything he wants to be, he just has to learn how good he really can be," said the coach. "Matt Worton is another who has matured immensely and he has a great opportunity to be a first team regular for many years to come. Lewis Italiano is by far and away the best 'keeper in the 23's, he's still only 19 and I'm sure he won't be playing State League football for long before moving on to bigger and better things."
And it's not just the youngsters that have been shining at Inglewood. "The return of Aaron Colli was a bonus for us. He missed the first part of the season through injury so it's great to see him now doing the business in the first team," added the Reserve team coach. "Alex Cocking has scored goals for us on a regular basis and in different circumstances may have found more time in the first team. These players have been the spine of our team and they've all had great seasons."
There's been talk of Football West doing away with the under-23 league in the not too distant future but should that happen it will only be to the detriment of the State League and its' players according to Brophy. "I know a lot of clubs seem to favour the 18's over the 23's but if you look at our first team squad we have lot of 19 and 20-year old players. If it were just 18's available, where would these players go? What happens when injuries and suspensions kick in and the squad is depleted? We have no alternative to push through 16 and 17 years old that may or may not be ready to make the step."
Recognising there is a need for some change Brophy suggests the Reserves be turned into an under-21 league. "I think an under-21's competition would be more sensible, but that's for others to debate," he said. "The 23's have been stronger this year, ECU Joondalup were tough and I was also impressed with Perth SC and Cockburn City. There are a lot of good youngsters coming through I just hope that the opportunity for them to develop physically, technically and mentally is there for them and that is with a competition between the 18's and first team."
Brophy is has been an important member of Inglewood's coaching team for several years now. In addition to developing the club's young guns in the Reserves, he's taken the first team helm on a number of occasions and admits he'd jump at the opportunity to take on that role on a permanent basis. "I have really enjoyed being involved with the first team over the last three years and, yes, I would like to coach a senior side in the future. Circumstances would have to be right both on a personal level as well as a football level though," he said.
As the home and away series draws to a close Inglewood find themselves very much in the mix for a couple more trophies. The inner-city club faces cross-town rival Floreat Athena in the Cup final at the start of next month, while a few more first team wins will extend their year into the Top Five play-offs. "The season still has three weeks to go and I'll be helping Shane Pryce get the club in to the top five that would be great, starting Saturday at Swan," he said. "We also have the matter of a Cup final to look forward to in October."
BURNS ISSUES GLORY WARNING
It's only a matter of time before away results swing back in Perth Glory's favour according to captain Jacob Burns. Glory suffered their third successive loss on the road when beaten by Central Coast Mariners in Canberra on Friday, however, Burns believes the club's away performances are stronger than results suggest. "It is tough to come back with no points in a match where we all truly believed we deserved something from and the lads are disappointed about that," he said. "In my opinion the best way to approach a game is with a winning mentality and it doesn't matter whether it is at home or away. The league is so tight and if you want to separate yourself then you have to put consecutive wins together."
Glory twice hit the crossbar against the Mariners while another goal was ruled out after a late offside flag. However, Burns said the feeling amongst the playing group remained positive and it was only a matter of time before all the pieces would come together on the road. "There is going to come a time when an opposition team is going to cop the full brunt of that and we'll really open them up and make good on our chances," Burns added. "There is a bit of luck involved and when you get on a run sometimes the ball bounces your way, but at the minute it hasn't happened but we're going to keep on working hard towards that. The beauty of football is that there is always another game and we've really got to focus on Gold Coast and get the three points in front of our home fans on Sunday."
WOOD ON DECK FOR PLAY-OFF CHASING SWANS
It's been a rollercoaster ride of a year for Swan United teenager Trent Wood. After getting a taste of life as a professional football on the Fox8 'Football Superstar' reality television show, Wood was brought crashing back down to earth by an unexpected stay in hospital. "My season was interrupted at the start, due to the Fox8 'Football Superstar' competition, then on returning from Melbourne I had an operation to remove my appendix immediately," explained the 19-year old attack-minded midfielder. "But I'm back to full fitness and pushing myself for the first team. We're playing some football at the moment and our form has been great."
Swan has surprised many this season and with three game to play are positioned in one of the play-off spots. Wood says the experience of coach Paul Lincoln and senior players such as Aaron Cole, Damian Scali, Cory Hugo and Dom Ando has been invaluable to the black and whites this year. "Linc's has done a terrific job in getting the experienced players in the mix with the younger players, which is starting to produce some consistent results," he said. "We do have a young squad with Brendan Craig, Shane Webb and myself all under twenty so it's been great to have Aaron, Damian, Cory and Dom help us younger players through out the season with positive feedback and advice."
Wood enjoyed his time on the 'Football Superstar' spotlight, where he eventually finished eighth. "The show was a huge experience for me; I have never done anything like that before in my life. It gave me the chance to train with Melbourne Victory and mark players like Archie Thompson and Danny Allsop as well as Shane Smeltz against Gold Coast United," said Wood, who holds Victory coach Ernie Merrick in the highest regard. "He is a terrific coach and knows exactly what he is talking about, and he is an attacking coach who loves to score goals. Unfortunately, Ernie played me as a right back so I didn't have the opportunity to show him my ability in attack."
LATE GOALS STEAL PERTH A POINT (with Chris Correia, Football West)
Two goals in the last ten minutes have allowed Perth SC to steal a 2-2 draw with neighbouring Floreat Athena on a sunny afternoon at Litis Stadium. The home team were poised to reap the rewards for a dominant performance underlined by goals from Daniel Neiderberger and Johnny Mirco until Perth pulled one back through Phil Arnold, then Craig Simpson equalized with the game well into stoppage time. “We let Perth off the hook late in the game but I thought our application to the game for the most part was good, and a vast improvement on some of our other recent showings,” said Floreat coach Michael Roki. “A win would have been the perfect kick start for the run home, but there were some good signs for the weeks ahead with a strong performance against one of the best teams in the league.”
Perth looked like struggling up front for the majority of the match and seemed every time strikers Arnold and David Onoforo had a chance they couldn't hit the target. A great Jason Barrera cross which found Paul Vatistas inside the 18-yard box nearly provided Floreat the opening goal but the midfielder couldn't control his first touch in a dangerous position. The hosts had to wait until the 24th minute to go ahead, Daniel Neiderberger latching on to a fantastic pass out of midfield and with goalkeeper Luke Martino out early the Floreat striker kept calm to slot in from a tight angle. Vatistas had a chance to add another before the break but this time he took too long on the ball allowing Trent Kay to rob him of possession.
Floreat started the second half under full stream and Adam Bachiller's cross passed through a crowded 6-yard box without being touched by one of several team mates. Jason Pottier's dipping effort was palmed away by 'keeper Alex Dunn as Perth sought to spark. Mirco's trickery in the final third was causing problems for the visiting back four and just after the hour he rocketed the ball into the bottom corner to extend Floreat's lead. Martino then pulled off another great save to deny Mirco another, before Onoforo missed a sitter from point blank range with Dunn saving the follow-up. Perth didn't give up though with Arnold providing hope in the 84th minute when his shot rebounded in via the inside of the post. The great escape was completed two minutes into stoppage time Greg Sharland's superb free-kick into a crowded area was nodded in by Simpson at the far post.
SOCCEROOS CRASH IN KOREA
Australia suffered their first loss in over a year by going down 3-1 to South Korea at the Seoul World Cup Stadium last night. Coach Pim Verbeek, who was without the services of Lucas Neill, Tim Cahill and Harry Kewell amongst others, said the match was a rare chance to allow fringe players a chance to play against quality international opposition. "The match was a great opportunity against a very good opponent to see players that didn't play so often in the last World Cup qualification round," he said. "Of course we don't like to lose and you always try to win the game, but I think a draw would have been a good result on the night but losing is also part of football."
A sluggish start by Australia was punished after only 5 minutes, Lee Chung Yong turning the ball over to play a simple pass into the path of Park Chu-young, who comfortably beat an exposed Mark Schwarzer. The host nation doubled their lead on 20 minutes when Lee Jung Soo flicked in at the near post after a static Australian defence allowed Kim Jung-Woo a free header at a free-kick. With the Socceroos under mounting pressure, Patrick Kisnorbo scored his first international goal by heading in from close-range after goalkeeper Lee Woon Jae failed to claim a Mark Bresciano free-kick.
The Socceroos second half showing was significantly better and on several occasions they went close to equalising. Shane Steffanutto's spectacular volley was tipped over the crossbar by Lee Woon Jae, who also made fine saves to deny substitute Nick Carle and Bresciano. But Korea clinched victory three minutes from the end with Ki-Hyeon Seol scoring with a header following a stunning run and cross by midfielder Park Ji Sung. Josh Kennedy looked set to pull a goal back in the closing moments but his header hit the post after another dead-ball delivery from Bresciano. Rhys Williams, the only West Australian in the match day squad, was an unused substitute.
KNIGHTS CLOSE IN ON REGULAR SEASON HONOURS (with Michael Bate, Football West)
Western Knights are almost certain to end the regular season on top of the Premier League table after casting aside Armadale 3-1 at Nash Field. First half goals from David Annall and Cormac Dawson sent the leaders on their way, and although Ryan Pearson pulled one back for the visitors early in the second half Duuane Hepburn came off the bench to seal victory in stoppage time. It was a deserved victory for the Knights, albeit one they were made to work for by an Armadale side that is better than its second-from-bottom position indicates. Unfortunately, the Reds will now battle it out with Canning City to avoid relegation in the final weeks of the season.
The home side got off to a dream start with Annall putting them ahead in just the 8th minute, the defender netted with a back post header after Barry Devlin flicked on Daniel Micevski's corner from the right. The Knights could have been two-nil up on 21 minutes when Anthony Campbell found himself one-on-one with Alex Pearson, but the Armadale goalkeeper was quick off his line and made a good stop with his legs. Campbell was again involved when he received the ball from Dawson and crossed to Mario Marcinko, whose goalbound header forced a sharp one-handed save from Pearson.
Armadale's first genuine attempt came in the 33rd minute when Warren Grieve gained possession on the edge of the 18-yard box, neatly flicked the ball up and volleyed on the turn, however, his shot did little to trouble Frazer Siddall. Sixty seconds later the Knights had their second with Campbell supplying a cross from the left which Marcinko scuffed, the ball rolled to the edge of the area where Dawson's first time effort was straight into the top of the net, leaving Pearson with no chance. The totally dominant Knights were unlucky not to add another with Campbell hitting the crossbar late in the half.
The introduction of Kieran Tracey and a change of tactics at the interval paid dividends for Armadale when Pearson side-footed James Robinsons' ball across the box past Siddall. The goal seemed to invigorate the visiting team, but not before they were given another scare as Campbell blazed into the side netting when well placed. Robinson would have been through on goal had he been able to control a cross from Tracey, who later played in Jeff Bright but he was robbed of a shot by David Price. Pearson found space down the right to send in a fine cross which Bright headed high at the far post. The result was sealed when Hepburn wriggled free of his marker to latch onto David Micevski's reverse pass which he fired powerfully between 'keeper and post.
SWAN EDGE CLOSER TO FINALS FOOTBALL
Swan United moved another step closer to a finals appearance following a hard-fought 3-2 win against ECU Joondalup at the Edith Cowan University campus. Damian Scali scored an early double to lay the foundations for the black and whites first league win at Joondalup in eight years. Dale McCulloch countered with two of his own for the hosts before Swan teenager Shane Webb netted the games fifth and decisive goal. “The boy’s played well today, we were up for the game and we knew a win would edge us closer to the finals,” said Webb, one of Swan’s best on the day. “It was a good all-round performance and the younger lads stepped up today which would be pleasing for Linc’s. We now have to continue with our form in the next couple of weeks and we’ll see what happens.”
A bitterly cold afternoon in the northern suburbs didn’t phase Swan who were ahead on 5 minutes through Scali who, having spotted Andy Petterson off his line, clipped a delightful 27-metre lob over the veteran goalkeeper and into the net. The visitors day got better a couple of minutes later when a Brendan Craig corner from the right was headed powerfully into the net by an unmarked Scali from only a few metres. Petterson was the busiest man on the park as Swan went in search for goal number three, the ‘keeper well placed to deny Aaron Cole’s header and soon after moved swiftly to keep out a Scali effort. Joondalup slowly got into rhythm and in the 24th minute Jon Higgins’ free-kick from distance was tipped over the crossbar by Cory Hugo.
Swan should have increased their lead on the half hour when Scali played down the right for Tom Shepheard, his cross found John Mansaray unmarked but the midfielder somehow blazed high from close-range. That miss would haunt the visitors inside sixty seconds as Aaryn Williams’ cross from the right was poorly dealt with by the defence and in the goalmouth scramble that followed McCulloch fired in to reduce the deficit. Half-time was looming large when the home side drew level through another defensive lapse, Jamie Watt cataching Cole in possession but as the import striker was about to pull the trigger David McNally came across with a timely tackle. However, the visitors failed to heed the warning and poor defending at the resulting corner, played in by Tommy Amphlett, was punished as McCulloch headed in from 5-metres.
The home side were caught off the guard six minutes after the interval by Webb, who lashed into the net from 15-metres amid penalty appeals resulting from a Scali shot that appeared to strike Charlie Comyn-Platt on the arm. The two teams would spend the remainder of an entertaining game trading shots on goal. McCulloch, who was outstanding in the middle of the park, played in for Watt but his low shot was saved by Hugo. A cross from the right by Robert Monterosso was deflected over Petterson, whose blushes were saved by Aaryn Williams on the line. There were six minute left when Amphlett played substitute Ryan Williams clear down the right but the youngster delayed his shot long enough for McNally to put in a well-timed tackle.
HEDGES RE-LAUNCHES MANDURAH’S FINALS BID (with Chris Leitch, Football West)
Mandurah City's quest for a top five finish has been given new life by today's 2-0 win over Sorrento at Percy Doyle Reserve. Farrell Hedges scored twice in quick succession to end Mandurah's three-game losing streak and move the southerners alongside ECU Joondalup and Inglewood United in fifth place. A cold and swirling wind made for a tight tussle but visiting coach Stuart Young felt his charges adapted better to the difficult conditions. "In the first half, I thought Sorrento over-hit the ball a lot, which made life a lot easier for us, you didn't see us do that," he said. "I think we put the ball in good areas, sensible areas, for the most part and gave ourselves a chance to win the ball and create the second-phase play, and we looked very dangerous because of it."
The first half was an arm wrestle, with only a handful of genuine scoring chances created by either side. Mandurah should perhaps have taken the lead when Alex Darby's low ball across the top of the 18-yard box was met by Rafael Insaurralde but despite having time to pick his spot from 14-metres the attacker fired too close to Cyril Sharrock with James Morgan clearing the rebound. Sorrento's best opening came at the end of a nice flowing move that saw the ball moved through Daryl Platten, Lewis Flatt and Todd Harnwell, whose centring pass was pulled wide by Glen Thomas from just inside the area. Sharrock was stretched by Andy Brown's low drive, while down the other end Morgan flashed wide from distance towards the end of the half.
A golden opportunity for Sorrento to go ahead was wasted a minute after the restart, Harnwell touching a clever pass through to Stuart Montgomery but his fierce low shot ricocheted off the post, Glen Thomas struck the opposite post with the rebound before Harnwell's effort was deflected wide for corner. The deadlock was broken on 72 minutes when Mark Walsh's throw-in was helped on by Christian Paschkewitz to Hedges, who danced around two defenders before clipping neatly over the on-coming 'keeper. Mandurah secured the points five minutes later, Stephen Payne looping in an inch-perfect cross from the right for Hedges, completely unmarked on top of 6-yard box, to nod past a badly exposed Sharrock. Shaun Kilkelly and Steve McDonald each went twice close to grabbing the hosts a late consolation but the former was denied by Phil Straker while the latter headed just wide.
It's been a staggering fall from grace for Sorrento and this loss could yet prove the most damaging. Crowned Premier League champions just twelve months ago, the Gulls now hover just above the relegation zone and face the daunting task of needing to take points from Perth SC, Western Knights and Joondalup in their last three games of the season. "We're very up and down, at home we've struggled this year, yet at Armadale last week we got a point and battled really hard," said assistant coach Shaun Murphy, who lamented another lacklustre home performance. "It comes down to whether the players want to tough it out and scrap for points, and we're not doing that at the moment."
CANNING SHELL-SHOCKED AS INGLEWOOD COME BACK (by James Wragg, Football West)
Inglewood United snatched all three points at the death with an exciting 3-2 win against bottom of the table Canning City at Willetton Sporting Complex. The final ten minutes of an action-packed encounter belonged to Inglewood who made their numerical advantage count as Sandi Loncar then Mladen Kovacevic found the net to give Shane Pryce's team another valuable three points. Inglewood started brightly and took the lead in the 10th minute, Rory Grant pouncing on a mistake by D.Markovic in goals to fire into an empty net. It didn't take Canning too long to draw level via a Paul Van Dongen's long throw which was flicked on by Duncan Hind and turned in by Roberto Lujan. Daniel Trevisiol and Simon Versaico each had half chances to send Canning into the break ahead but both failed to convert as the rain began to come down.
Canning took the lead on 66 minutes when Versaico won the ball in midfield and surging down the right to deliver a beautiful cross which Greg Newcombe tapped in. The hosts should have gone further ahead when awarded a penalty for Jason Colli's misdemeanor on Trevisiol, however, Roberto Lujan thundered his spot kick high to let Inglewood off the hook. The game took another dramatic turn in the 76th minute with George Tchami issued his marching orders for a second yellow card, leaving Canning with ten men. Six minutes later Rory Grant headed a free-kick back across goal where Loncar smashed the equaliser high into the net. Lujan then squandered a guilt edge opportunity with only three minutes of normal time remaining. 91 minutes had passed when Kovacevic fired past replacement 'keeper Kenny Ftynogiannis from a Dannie Richman cross to complete a remarkable recovery.
LIONS ROAR ON (by Tim Lefort, Football West)
Stirling Lions continued their late charge towards a place in the Top Five finals series with a 2-0 win over struggling Cockburn City at Dalmatinac Park. Anthony Fearon gave the visitors a dream start before an own goal inside the half hour sent an in-form Stirling side on their way to a fifth successive victory. But it wasn’t all one-way traffic and the home side were perhaps unlucky not to pull a goal back in a much-improved second half showing. “I thought it was a bitty performance to be honest,” said Stirling coach Mike Lyons. “I thought they were a little unlucky, they had a couple of chances they might have taken. The result was a lot better than our performance was, but in saying that (we got) a clean sheet.”
A scrappy opening was puncutated on 9 minute when Fearon knocked the loose ball into an emtpy net after goalkeeper Nick Feely could only parry Phil O’Callaghan’s 22-metre drive. Cockburn responded and Jason Dos Santos’ powerful angled drive was blocked by Kevin Miller who, soon after parried Joseph Brunetto’s low strike. Matt Allen’s inswinging corner to the near post increased the visitors lead as a defender deflected the ball past his own ‘keeper with 24 minutes on the clock. Michael Mirco curled a shot just high just over as Cockburn sought a way back in. Steven Hesketh’s glancing header was into the arms of Feely, who denied Ludovic Boi shortly before the break. Anthony Pereira’s low drive from an acute angle didn’t miss the far post by much as Cockburn finished the half on a positive note.
Cockburn picked up where they’d left off but Pereira then Jason Dos Santos wasted free-kicks from promising positions, while Aaron Dos Santos poked wide after going inside the 18-yard box. Stirling weren’t without their chances, however, O’Callaghan headed straight at Feely and Boi blazed wildly over following a goalmouth scramble. Mirco forced Miller into a low save and a few minutes later clipped narrowly high of the bar. The Cockerels were enjoying a good spell and, with a more composed finish, Devon Gibson might have cut the deficit. They were almost gifted a way back into the match with ten minutes to go when Allen’s error presented an opportunity for Jason Dos Santos, who was desperately unlucky to see his first-time effort from 15-metres come back off the bar.
All the pressure was on the visiting team as Cockburn worked tirelessly to reel in the gap. Josh Findlater hit the side netting with a crisp effort from 14-metres. Hesketh came to his side’s rescue, clearing Jason Dos Santos’ scuffed attempt off the line. Miller was fortunate not to be punished after badly misjudging a bouncing ball near his goalline, the ‘keeper appeared to pull down Brunetto but despite vehement appeals for a penalty from the Cockburn players and bench referee Jeremy Oliphant signalled for play to continue. Cockburn’s final chance arrived deep in stoppage time when Mirco cut inside his marker but from a narrow angle was unable to beat Miller as Stirling held out to claim three vital points.
FIVE-STAR PHOENIX SEE OFF BAYSWATER
South West Phoenix consolidated third on the First Division table by defeating Bayswater City 5-2 at WesTrac Stadium in Bunbury. The home side made a dream start with Gary Mayers’ cross to the near post nodded in from 7-metres by David Rodgers after 8 minutes. Bayswater were snapped out of their slumber and soon the balance had shifted in favour of the visitors. So it came as no surprise when they drew level on the half hour, G.Marulanda turning the ball over in midfield and streaming forward to beat goalkeeper Ryan Montgomery in a one-on-one. Against the run of play, Phoenix edged back in front a minute before half-time when Patrick Quinn glided past one defender to whip in a delightful cross that an unmarked Rodgers headed in from on top of the 6-yeard box.
A few tactical and positional changes at the start of the second half paid dividends for the home side on the hour when substitute Jonathon Krawec fed Steve Suttie, who cut in from the left and centred for Rory Binnie to slot in from 12-metres. Ryan Frisina should have reduced the deficit but his shot from 10-metres was blocked by Montgomery. The visitors did pull one back on 79 minutes, Marulanda’s shot from an acute angle looping up off a defender and over Montgomery to rest in the far corner. Debutant Anthony Russo sealed a home win when he latched on to a pass from Suttie, drove forward and slid his shot under goalkeeper Bobson Koroma with 86 minutes gone. Rodgers completed his hat-trick in the final minute by weaving past a couple of defenders and rifling in from the edge of the area.
HARMAN DOUBLE GIVES MORLEY THE POINTS
A Jake Harman inspired Morley Windmills chalked up their tenth win of the season by downing Fremantle Spirit 2-1 on a windy afternoon at Wauhop Park. Fremantle were out of the blocks quickly and should have taken an opening minute lead after Tom Straker burst inside the penalty area, however, his cut back passed untouched across the top of the 6-yard box. The entertain value was high as both teams put together some slick exchanges, Fremantle making great use of their pace out wide while Morley’s forward players created all sorts of problems for the home defence.
Fremantle deservedly went ahead after 29 minutes via a partially cleared corner that fell for Straker, his volley was blocked and rebounded for Ravi Kuppisamy to tuck away from close-range. But that lead would last all of two minutes before Scott McIlroy surged down the right flank to fashion a shot which was brilliantly saved by Jake Sacco only for unmarked Jake Harman, who’d drifted completely unchecked into the area, converted from 5-metres. Both teams created a bevy of half chances in the remaining minutes but had to be content with a one-all scoreline at the break.
The second half commenced with Fremantle displaying a greater desire for goals, unfortunately, a series of missed chances would be their undoing. Morley worked their way back into the game and on 62 minutes hit the front, when Trevor Hatton’s cross into the area saw Jake Harman peel away from his marker to easily head in at close-range. The port side had their chances to equalise and possibly take the game further, but the closest they came was when Allan Carroll screwed his shot wide under a dubious challenge from the Morley goalkeeper.
VELAPHI BLUNDER HANDS MARINERS THE POINTS
A horrendous error by Tando Velaphi handed Central Coast Mariners a last gasp 2-1 win over Perth Glory in last night’s A-League game at Canberra Stadium. With the teams locked at 1-1, the Glory goalkeeper misjudged a long ball that fell nicely for Dylan MacAllister, who swiftly slid it off to Matt Simon for the easiest of tap-ins. “Tando’s come in and apologised to all the players and they all patted him on the head,” coach David Mitchell said. “From our point of view he’s made some great, telling saves this year. He’s a great young prospect, an Australian goalkeeper (at youth level). It was a mistake, you can’t hide from that, but he’s a quality goalkeeper and will learn from it.”
Victor Sikora should have made the most of Glory’s bright start when found by Mile Sterjovski after 7 minutes, but instead shot straight at Danny Vukovic. Five minutes later Chris Coyne was the guilty party when he headed too close to the Mariners ‘keeper from a Jacob Burns free-kick. It took until the half-hour for the home team to create their first genuine opportunity, Nik Mrdja passing through for Michael McGlinchey to drill over the crossbar from the edge of the 18-yard box. Glory were pressing and soon after Branko Jelic cut in from the left to flash a long-range effort past Vukovic which crashed unfortunately into the crossbar. So it was against the run of play that the Mariners hit the front on 42 minutes when Pedj Bojic’s header was kept out by Velaphi, who was helpless as Alex Wilkinson fired the rebound in at close-range.
The second half was controlled for the most part by the Mariners but rare was it that they found a way past the visiting defence. Glory drew level in the 82nd minute when Bradley Porter was judged to have handled inside the area, Vukovic used his legs to block the spot kick by Stejovski who tucked in at the follow-up. This breathed new life into the visiting team and three minutes later Srhoj beat the ‘keeper with a close-range header only for the woodwork to once again come to the Mariners rescue. Play was end-to-end in the closing minutes, Adriano Pellegrino having a goalbound effort deflected wide by Wilkinson before Hutchinson’s cross was headed narrowly high by Nigel Boogaard. The outcome was decided in the last minute of regulation time when Velaphi charged off his line to intercept a hopeful long ball that bounced over his head and straight to substitute Macallister, who cross for Simon to net at the back post.
THE PREMIER LEAGUE IN PREVIEW
Canning City v Inglewood United (Referee: Tim Mihevc)
Another weekend of top five dreams and relegation struggles is highlighted by Canning City verses Inglewood United at Willetton Sporting Complex (3.00pm). It would be an understatement to say this is a must-win game for Canning, who stump up the table after eighteen games and are facing a hasty return to the second tier. “We have four Cup finals to finish off the season but everyone at the club believes we have the ability to climb up the table to safety,” said coach Frank Longstaff, who welcomes back creative wide player Roberto Lujan. “Against ECU Joondalup is the only time in the last eight or nine weeks we deserved nothing from the game but rest assured the players will be giving there all in every game.”
Inglewood won for the first time in six games last time out and three more points are what’s needed to keep them in the running for the play-offs. “This is a huge game for both teams and one that we definitely can’t afford to lose … and I’m sure Canning will also look at this as one they must win,” said assistant coach Kevin Brophy. “We’re still smarting from the beating they gave us earlier in the season, this is going to be battle and that the winner will be determined by who wants it most - we just to have to make sure that it is us.” Player-coach Shane Pryce will miss the game through injury while there’s lingering doubt over James Duncan, Dannie Richman and Ashley Picker.
Western Knights v Armadale (Referee: David Costello)
Competition pacesetters Western Knights host an improving Armadale at Nash Field (3.00pm). The Knights, who have one hand on the Premier League trophy, are widely expected to claim victory, however, Armadale are unbeaten in their last two games and will be fighting tooth and nail to collect the points and move away from the drop zone. Frazer Siddall has been outstanding this year between the posts for a home team which features the defensive muscle of David Annall and Barry Devlin. Armadale have never won a regular season game at Nash Field and head there tomorrow without Andrew Bowyer and Kieran Tracey (suspended), but with Matt Bennion and Gary Faria in good form.
ECU Joondalup v Swan United (Referee: Steve Gregory)
It’s four verses five when ECU Joondalup welcomes Swan United to the Edith Cowan University campus (3.00pm). The northern suburbs outfit have finally got their season back on track and coach Syd Amphlett is looking to avenge his teams’ poor showing earlier in the season. “It’s another tough game where both teams are looking to cement a top five spot. We also want revenge for the 4-1 hammering we took at Swan, where we played poorly,” said Amphlett. “Our intentions were always to be in the top five and believe this will not be finalised until the last game of the season with several clubs still in with a shout.” Garin Collins is doubtful with a hamstring injury, but that’s balanced by the return of Ryan Williams from overseas trials.
Swan does not have a good record at Joondalup, from where they came returned with maximum points in 2001. A late fitness is likely to determine whether or not team captain Aaron Cole takes part in the match which coach Paul Lincoln knows is going to be difficult. “Joondalup have been in good form and have marched up the ladder, it will be a difficult game for us and we will have to be on our game to take the three points and end our barren spell there,” he said. “I have told the players we have to take each week as it comes and not look forward to the top five - if we generate enough points after round 22 we are rewarded with finals football.”
Cockburn City v Stirling Lions (Referee: Jeremy Oliphant)
Cockburn City have the unenviable task of welcoming Stirling Lions, arguably the league’s form team at the moment, to Dalmatinac Park (3.00pm). Stirling have won their last four outings thanks largely to the creativity in the final third of Phil O’Callaghan and Ludovic Boi, and the defensive know-how of Steve Hesketh and Michael Pugliese. It’s been a tough time for the Cockerels as they’ve slipped down the table to be only three points clear of the drop zone. The experience of Michael Mirco, Anthony Pereira and Paul Natale is going to be vital in getting them over the line on a day when outstanding young defender Ryan Pretorius (suspended) is absent.
Sorrento v Mandurah City (Referee: Ton Klaver)
With only goal difference separating Sorrento from Mandurah City on the table, the game at Percy Doyle Reserve (3.00pm) takes on extra significant. And although both are very much in the finals mix they each know a slip-up here could seriously damage their chances. Glen Thomas, Lewis Flatt and James Morgan provide a formidable attacking axis across the centre of the park with Stuart Montgomery the one to watch in attack. With Stuart Young looking for his first win as coach of Mandurah, captain Andy Brown, Stephen Payne and Nicky Platt have key roles in ensuring there’s a good supply into the final third for Christian Pascherwitz.
Floreat Athena v Perth SC (Referee: Michael Tolmie)
The Sunday game takes us to Litis Stadium for the derby meeting of Floreat Athena and Perth SC (3.00pm). The last month have been nothing short of a disaster at Floreat, who amazing remain third on the table despite collecting only a single point from four games. However, you’d be wise not to write Michael Roki’s team off just yet as Perth have not won in the league at Floreat since 2003. And with Perth coach Graham Normanton pulling out all the stops to end that drought as well as stay in touch with the top of the table Knights, you can be assured this game will remain in the balance right up to the final whistle. The Floreat-Perth is broadcast on Heritage 107.3FM, with commentators Bob Figg and Alan Vest, from 2.45pm.
THE FIRST DIVISION IN PREVIEW
The big game in tomorrow’s nineteenth round of the First Division is the three verses four showdown between South West Phoenix and Bayswater City at WesTrac Stadium in Bunbury. “Phoenix still have an outside possibility of getting first place and promotion but they have to beat us to keep that hope alive,” said Bayswater coach Mauro Marchione, who team went down to Wanneroo City last time out. “We want to recover from last Saturday’s defeat and, even with a few problem with formation due injury and suspension, we will definitely be playing to win.”
Queens Park picked up their first win of the season last week by scoring late to see off Dianella White Eagles, however, their chances of making it two in a row are slim as its table-topping Balcatta that travel to Coker Park on Saturday. Hot on the leaders tail are Wanneroo City, who are just a single point off top spot and this week host second from bottom Ashfield. Hartfield Park hosts the local derby of Forrestfield United and Gosnells City, while Fremantle Spirit goes head-to-head with Morley Windmills at Wauhop Park. Rockingham City has home ground advantage against Dianella White Eagles in the evening fixture at Lark Hill Sportsplex.
FITNESS BATTLE FOR RIVAL STARS
Neutral supporters would be wise to head north tomorrow for the blockbuster showdown between fourth-placed ECU Joondalup and Swan United, currently fifth. Two players who'll have a big say on the day are Garin Collins and Aaron Cole, however, both must first convince club coaching staff that they are ready for duty. Collins, who is nursing a hamstring injury, has been in terrific form great form and knows well the importance of a Joondalup win. After missing last week's game with a calf strain, Cole is champing at the bit to return to Swan's back four and help the black and whites consolidate their play-off claims.
Joondalup have picked up some valuable points in the last month and Collins sees no reason why that won't continue. "There's never a shortage of goals in the fixture and hopefully we can pick up the points to keep us in the top five, as well as getting a little bit of revenge for the thumping we took from Swan earlier in the season," said Joondalup's Mr Versatile. "Swan have picked up over recent weeks and are in fifth spot on the table. Coley is solid at the back and a threat at set pieces, (Damian) Scali is a proven goal scorer and Tom Shepheard always causes us problems. I'm happy David Perich isn't playing, he always seems to score against us and, in my opinion, is one of the most under-rated players in the league."
Cole knows Joondalup will be looking for revenge and that they will have to watch Collins closely on Saturday. "It's a real six-pointer for both clubs, a win will secure a solid position in the five and a loss would put either of us back in the pack again," commented Cole. "The game at the start of the year against ECU means very little given they have recovered well. They have recruited well but I feel the main danger comes from the wings, they're quick and create a lot of attacks from wide. Garin is a quality player and a great bloke too, if he plays up-front Dave McNally and I will have to be on our toes, but feel confident we can hold our own." Joondalup and Swan go head-to-head at the Edith Cowan University campus from 3.00pm.
LOCAL LADS GO IN SEARCH OF GLORY
Perth Glory will be out to go a step or two further when the new National Youth League season kicks into life next weekend. The 2009/10 season commences for Glory with a home game on 13th September against Gold Coast United, one of two new teams in the competition, and coach Gareth Naven says his tropes can hardly contain their excitement. “All the boys are looking forward to starting the National Youth League season, they’ve been training for a fair old while and I’m also looking forward kicking off the season,” Naven told ‘the World Football Programme’. “We’ve got sixteen players who all bring something to our squad, and bring something to Perth Glory.”
Preparation for the second season of National Youth League football hasn’t been without its challenges for Naven. “The transition from last year to this year is a little bit harder than what you might think,” said Naven, who captained Glory into their first few seasons of life. “Most of our players went back to their State League clubs (during the winter) so there’s a gap where you can’t really effect them. You hope that they retain and hold what you put into place the previous season so we don’t have to go backwards again to go forwards … Hopefully, we can fast-track quickly to where we want to be and try and get a little big better organised than we were last year.”
Coaching at youth level offers Naven some luxuries that are simply not available to clubs on the local stage. “Obviously the clubs in the State League are results orientated and their tactics compile to that,” said Naven, who aims to get the best out of his players by opening their minds to new experiences and options. “Whereas as a youth coach you have a lot more flexibility in trying to give players a more open range on their football style and how they want to play. The risk factor isn’t as great for my youth team, we can’t get relegated and the players can make their mistakes and we can work on it in training as well.”
There’s a good blend of familiar faces and newcomers in the 2009/10 Glory Youth squad. Goalkeeper Alex Pearson and Armadale team mate are on board for a second season along with Reece Vittiglia and Hayden Doyle, who played the winter with Sorrento and Mandurah City respectively, as well as Stirling Lions trio Ludovic Boi, Dean Evans and Steve Hesketh. Joshua Risdon (ECU Joondalup), Cameron Edwards (Cockburn City), Million Butshiire (Swan United) impressed in the limited game time they saw last season, while Nick Feely (Cockburn), Andrew Higgins (Joondalup), Sam Mitchinson, Adam Taggart (National Training Centre) and Western Knights pair David Price and Mario Marcinko will be wanting to make an early impression.
Naven has worked hard to build strong relationships with local clubs for the betterment of all parties involved. “I understand the effort that all the State League coaches put in, and they’ve got expectations from their clubs, their employees as such, to win or bring some silverware to their club,” he said. “I’m grateful the clubs recently have given up their Tuesday sessions for the boys so we can do a pilates class and they go in on a Thursday with their club … the State League coaches have all been very supportive and they’re easy people to talk to. They should be congratulated for giving me the players at certain times so its been an open relationship and I think that’s what makes it work well.”
With players turning out twelve months of the year, switching between State League and national league and back again, Naven says it’s vital he makes sure those under his command don’t burn themselves out. “A players’ training load is an ongoing thing that we obviously need to look at,” he said. “We’ve got some monitoring systems in place where the players report to me on a two or three daily basis. And we’ve got some testing procedures to assess how players are feeling in certain areas of the body, mainly the groin and the areas of the body where there’s a lot of kicking, sideways and backwards movement. So there are a few things which will help predict if a player needs rest.”
If a measure was needed to determine how successful the youth programs implemented by Perth Glory and Football West in the past few years have been then you need look no further than the dozen-plus young West Australian’s called up for national team duty this year. “It just shows you don’t underestimate what we’ve got in our own backyard because given the opportunity, given the pathway they can make things happen,” commented Naven, who had Million Butshiire and Reece Vittiglia attend a recent Under-20’s training camp while two other players, Cameron Edwards and Nick Feely, represented Australia at the ASEAN Football Federation Under-19 Youth Championship.
Naven expects champions Sydney FC and Queensland Roar to be amongst the early favourites for this years youth crown, but it’s the competitions two newcomers that he’s looking forward to playing most. “I think the Australian institute of Sport are going to be really well organised with great ability, the best 16 17 year olds in the country,” said Naven. “And then you’ve got Gold Coast United, if their youth team plays like the first team plays they are going to be very dynamic and similar to what the Queensland Roar youth team were last year. It’s an exciting time for young talent and them forging their way into the A-League through the youth system.”
SIDDALL BEATS TASESKI BY A NOSE TO BE VOTED BEST GOALKEEPER
The local football community has nominated Western Knights Frazser Siddall as the best shot-stopper in the top flight. However, it was only by the narrowest of margins that Siddall snuck ahead of second-placed Oliver Taseski when the votes were tallied up in the football.net poll ‘Which goalkeeper has been the stand-out this Premier League season?’ Siddall, who represented Great Britain at the World University Games in June, finished top of the pile with 32% of the vote to pip long-time Inglewood United ‘keeper Taseski (31%). Cockburn City rookie Nick Feely (12%) may have been a distant third but was hotly pursued by Swan United veteran Cory Hugo and Sorrento/Armadale import Cyril Sharrock (both 11%) with Mandurah City’s Phil Straker (3%) completing the field. 308 votes were cast in the thirteen-day polling period.
INJURY ENDS MCDARBY’S SEASON
A serious knee injury has brought the season of teenager Ryan McDarby to a sudden halt. The ECU Joondalup defender went under the surgeon’s knife this week to remedy a cruciate ligament injury suffered in his clubs’ recent win at Cockburn City. “It’s a very painful operation that’s for sure. The surgeon assures me everything went fine, now just a long rehab before I can get back out there,” commented the 17-year old, who remembers clearly the incident which ended his season. “Just as I went to close someone down, I went to change direction and my studs caught in the ground and I felt my knee snap, and I knew straight away I had done something serious.”
Joondalup have had their fair share of critics this season but with the pointy end of the season nearing McDarby is confident his club can claim a top five placing. “We went through a tough period but Syd (Amphlett) and Gary (Church) kept assuring us that if we kept doing as they asked and just had a bit of belief in ourselves we would come through it and start getting results which we have,” said McDarby. “It’s been a real team effort and everyone has been fantastic. Dale McCulloch has been a massive influence on everyone just with his experience, and Tommy Amphlett has been on fire scoring goals and playing out of his skin.”
McDarby spent last season with Mandurah City where he sampled first team football before deciding his heart was in Joondalup. “I enjoyed every minute of my time at Mandurah. It was something I needed to do to get first team football and I’m very grateful to them for that, as there a lot of good people down there,” said McDarby, whose father, Carl, won the Premier League Golden Boot as a Joondalup player in 1999. “I was getting a bit annoyed at the travelling and when Syd took over at ECU he gave me the opportunity. I have known Syd for a very long time so I jumped at the chance to go back and play for him.”
Michael Icanovski has been lured out of retirement to help Perth SC's push towards silverware. The 28-year old brought the curtain down on a stellar career at the end of last season, citing family and work commitments. But a phone call from coach Graham Normanton, who'll soon lose Gianfranco Circati (holiday) and is already without Matt Danskin (injury) and Todd Howarth (Perth Glory), tempted Icanovski to once again strap on his playing boots.
Internal ructions have seen Morley Windmills emerge from the weekend with a new coach and minus a president. A cascading series of events began with Saturday’s sacking of head coach Tom Kilkelly by the club committee, a decision which didn’t sit well with acting president Jacob Aufdemkampe, who promptly stepped down from that role. Jamie Goodman has agreed to fill the coaching breach on an interim basis, with Wally Moesker voted in as the new acting president.
Petar Drca been sacked as first team coach of Dianella White Eagles. Installed as coach in pre-season, it's been a bumpy ride for Drca whose initial taste of success with the club was tainted in recent weeks by a succession of heavy defeats, on the end of which came Saturday's shock loss to bottom-of-the-table Queens Park. Unfortunately, Drca's departure has had a knock on effect at Dianella with several players opting to sever ties with the club.
WILLIAMS AIMS TO IMPRESS
Socceroos rookie Rhys Williams is set to get another chance to write his name onto Pim Verbeek’s World Cup white board when Australia meets Korea Republic in Seoul on Saturday night. The Middlesbrough defender-turned-midfielder, who starred in last month’s win against the Republic of Ireland, is taking his sudden jump into the international stoplight in his stride. “I’m trying to keep level headed about what’s happening because it would be easy to get carried away,” Williams told ‘the World Game’. “I won’t let that happen, I’m quite calm as a person and I’m just trying to make the most of every chance that comes my way. Things are happening probably quicker than I’d imagined. My goal is definitely the World Cup and if I can keep playing for my club then I’ll also have a chance of getting selected for my country.”
Almost unheard of on Australian soil six months ago as he flirted with a possible future playing for Wales, Williams is suddenly a World Cup bolter after following up his debut in June’s 2-1 win over Japan with a consummate display against the Irish. “Against Ireland I felt comfortable and just enjoyed the experience,” said the 21-year old. “I think the performance showed that even without some of the big players there are youngsters who can come in and do a job. That’s great for the country and good for the coach. I have no idea if I’ll start again against Korea but if I do, great. This is an adventure for me, playing at a really high level with players of incredible quality. It can only improve my game.”
Williams’ confidence in the green and gold is a reflection of his breakthrough season with Middlesbrough. Impressed by a four-goal pre-season goal burst, Reds manager Gareth Southgate has converted Williams into a midfielder. “It’s something different for me," said the former ECU Joondalup player. “It pays to be versatile in this game and I’m happy to be able to get forward more and to play with a bit more freedom. But if Australia want me at right back that’s fine too. I’m slot in anywhere I can get a game, whether it’s Middlesbrough or Australia. The club are desperate to get back to the top flight and with a few players moving on my chance has come quickly and I’m getting plenty of game time, which is vital in a World Cup year.”
SOCCEROOS RISE TO FOURTEEN IN THE WORLD
Australia have rocketed up FIFA's rankings to a new all-time high of fourteenth place. The latest FIFA World Ranking sees Brazil unmoved at the top of the table ahead of Spain and the Netherlands. World champions Italy sit joint fourth alongside Germany followed by Russia (6), England (7) and Argentina (8). Pim Verbeek's Socceroos, thanks to a 3-0 win over the Republic of Ireland last month, have jumped two places to fourteenth for their highest ever position in the world rankings. Australia is by far the highest ranked Asian nation, well ahead of Japan (40) and Korea Republic (49).
HARNWELL WON’T BE RISKED
David Mitchell has resisted the temptation to recall Jamie Harnwell for Friday’s game with Central Coast Mariners in Canberra. Harnwell has battled his way back from a pre-season hamstring tear but will not risked against the Mariners as coach Mitchell backs the players who secured successive wins over Newcastle Jets and Melbourne Victory to get the job done again on a difficult away trip. “Jamie’s been out for a little while now and he hasn’t got games under his belt,” Mitchell said. “I don’t think it would be sending a good signal to players if Jamie comes back straight away and he’s straight back in the side. He’s undoubtedly Perth Glory through and through… I just think another week’s training under his belt will do him the world of good - and also the team.”
PHOENIX SNAP UP CACERES
Adrian Caceres will play the remainder of the A-League season with Wellington Phoenix after inking a deal with the New Zealand-based club. The 27-year old attacker was released from the final year of his two-year contract with Central Coast Mariners by mutual consent and could make his Phoenix debut against Adelaide United on Friday night, pending final medical and fitness tests. Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata said his club is thrilled to have secured the services of Caceres on a deal that will see him in black and gold until at least the end of the season. “Adrian’s a very attack-minded player. To make the play-offs we need to add depth to the squad and Adrian, who has a championship-winning pedigree with Melbourne Victory, will add attacking flair to the team,” Pignata said.
PUCA IN LIMBO
The playing future of Perth SC captain Robbie Puca hangs in the balance after succumbing once again to injury. Puca, 30, line-up in Perth's starting eleven for the first time in fifteen months against Mandurah City on Sunday, however, his long-awaited comeback lasted just 22 minutes before limping from the field with a hamstring complaint. "He had a breakdown which is sad on Robbie's part, he can't take a trick at the moment. But that's life of a footballer, you've got to take the downs with the ups," said Perth coach Graham Normanton following the 2-0 win. "I don't how Robbie will go from now on, it's a question of whether his body will let him play really." Puca, who played 69 national league games for Gippsland Falcons, will undergo tests this week to determine the full extent of his latest injury.
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This page was last updated on the 9th October, 2009