REFEREES TO TRAVEL TO CANBERRA
Referees Matthew Southern and Mathew Cheeseman have been selected to officiate at the 2010 FFA National Junior Championships being held in Canberra during April. “It will be a great experience for both of them to travel to the Championships in their different roles, both are talented referees and well worthy of their selection,” he said. “It is especially pleasing to see someone like Matthew (Southern) be selected as a referee, as it shows to our young officials that if you put in the hard work and dedication, the rewards are there.” 16-year old Southern has been a referee for only three seasons, the teenager rounding out an impressive 2009 by running the line in his maiden Premier League game. Cheeseman, 24, is widely regarded one of the state’s top match officials, refereeing at four previous Nationals tournaments and a member of the A-League Assistant Referee Panel.
MONTGOMERY SENDS KNIGHTS INTO FINAL (by Chris Correia, Football West)
Stuart Montgomery scored late to earn Western Knights a thrilling 4-3 win over Sorrento and book his team a place in next weekend’s Night Series final. The game looked to be heading for stoppage time when Montgomery fired into the net to complement earlier goals by David Price, Paul Van Dongen and Daniel Micevski, and in the process break the hearts of his former team mates. Despite the Knights having all the play in the opening quarter hour, it was Sorrento that found a 17th minute opener via a long ball out of midfield to David Foster, who lured Fraser Siddall off his line before firing into the bottom corner. The Knights twice in seconds went close to an immediate respond, Montgomery curling a free-kick into the upright with Anthony Campbell putting the follow-up wide of the far post.
Sorrento were reduced to ten men with attacker Billy Quinncroft shown a straight red card by referee Steve Gregory after a stray arm caught defender Garth Lecky in the 28th minute. It took the Knights only five minutes to capitalise with David Price, who last week quit the Perth Glory Youth set-up, neatly finishing past goalkeeper Tom Woodhead. The Knights synergy was soon on display as some lovely interplay saw Montgomery’s inch-perfect cross find Price on top of the 18-yard box, the midfielder chesting the ball down for Paul Van Dongen whose shot travelled just high. The pressure only intensified on Sorrento as half-time drew near with Daniel Micevski and Price continuing to batter shots at Woodhead. A stoppage time corner by Daniel Micevski resulted in the Knights taking the lead into the break, Campbell heading the ball back across the face of goal for Van Dongen to nod over the line.
The second half had barely started when Foster outpaced the defence and snuck a left-foot shot past Siddall to restore parity. With the Knights regrouping, Price tried his luck with a long-range lob that a hastily back-tracking Woodhead managed to top over the crossbar. The seesaw battle soon took another turn as Daniel Micevski applied a lovely finish into the bottom corner after being set-up by Simon Versaico just after the hour. Three minutes later and it was Sorrento’s fans who were celebrating as midfielder Jason Mirco brought his team back into the contest by beating Siddall. Trevor Morgan brought Jared Love and Todd Harnwell off the bench as Sorrento upped the tempo in search of a winner. But it would be the Knights that found the net on 85 minutes when Montgomery lashed in from 7-metres after Daniel Micevski’s back-heel had sent Van Dongen down the line.
PERTH SEE OFF JOONDALUP (by Chris Correia, Football West)
Perth SC cruised into their fifth successive Night Series Final with a comfortable 3-1 win over ECU Joondalup in this evening’s late game at Litis Stadium. Goals from Shaun Kilkelly, Ian McMurray and second half substitute Andreas Oliveira secured Perth victory in front of a crowd of 350. The reigning Night Series winners begun well with Dom De Felice denied the opener by Chris Wylie who was placed on the line to stop a certain goal. Geneveo Human was found unmarked inside the 18-yard box by shot wide of the near post as Perth attempted to capitalise on their early dominance.
Joondalup’s first opening came via striker John Thornley but his header lacked power and just past the post. A corner by Greg Sharland gave Perth the lead on 29 minutes, the ball drifting beyond the far post before Matt Danskin played it back into the danger zone where Kilkelly bundling into the net. Joondalup continued to drive into attack and three minutes out from half-time Phil O’Callaghan’s predatory instincts saw him equalise at close-range after following-up a Thornley header which rebounded off the crossbar. It looked like the teams would go into the break level but in stoppage time Perth struck again with Human’s shot deflecting off McMurray, bamboozling goalkeeper Andy Banks on its way into the net.
Syd Amphlett addressed Joondalup’s troops on the pitch at the interval in an effort to stir them into action. However, the northerners day got worse on 50 minutes when Aryn Williams was given his marching orders by referee Paul Anderson after causing a melee to break out in the middle of the park. Sharland wasted a valuable chance to extend Perth’s lead by passing across the face of goal when the better option was to take the shot himself. A mazy run by Scott Bushby saw him break free of the defence but he also wasted his chance to get on the scoreboard. Chances continued to present for both teams but David Onoforo mis-cued his volley while Thornley’s superb effort was saved brilliantly by Jason Saldaris. The game was in stoppage time when Onoforo broke into the box only to have his shot was saved on the line by a defender, however, Oliveira was placed to tuck in the rebound and secure victory.
MITCHELL SET FOR A MOVE UPSTAIRS? (courtesy the 'West Australian')
An extensive review of Perth Glory's football department next week is likely to include talks regarding the possibility of coach David Mitchell taking on a new role next season. Glory staff and officials will meet in Leederville on Tuesday to discuss the fallout from the club's first A-League finals appearance. Mitchell, who has ridden a roller-coaster since taking the coaching reins from Ron Smith in November 2007, has floated the idea of moving into a director of football role to oversee the team's performance, including the appointment of a new coach and player recruitment.
Club owner Tony Sage has backed Mitchell for another season in the coaching hot seat but said he was prepared to look at every proposal during the club's end-of-season review. He acknowledged informal discussions had already been held regarding a possible change. "Mitch assembled the squad, the squad plays for him and there's no dissension in the camp," Sage told Jonathon Cook of the 'West Australian' newspaper. "My whole thing is about stability. We've had discussions about this but he's yet to formally put a proposal to me."
Glory deputy chairman Lui Giuliani said all aspects of the 2009/10 season would be under the microscope. "Our aim now is to see how we can best utilise the strengths of the people we've got," Giuliani said. "We would be remiss not to carry out such a review. Any dynamic organisation which is looking for success is constantly analysing performance and how to get the best out of its people. Mitch has a wealth of knowledge, experience and networks and that can't be underestimated. Along with the great investment Tony Sage has put into the club, Mitch's understanding of the industry is one of the reasons we've had an improved performance this season."
Decisions on retaining out-of-contract players - including Andy Todd, Jamie Coyne, Steven McGarry, Wayne Srhoj, Jamie Harnwell, Todd Howarth and Scott Bulloch - are expected to be made in the next two weeks. Sage said the vexed subject of Glory's administrative home would also be discussed this week, with Litis Stadium touted as a possible future base for the A-League club. Meanwhile, defender Chris Coyne has returned to China in a bid to nail down a loan deal, which could provide his ticket to the World Cup finals in South Africa this June.
FOUR TO BECOME TWO IN NIGHT SERIES RACE
The Bam Creative Night Series field is down to four teams and by Saturday night only two of those will remain in the hunt for the first piece of silverware for 2010. Western Knights whipped Sorrento by four-goals only a few weeks ago, however, when they meet at 6.00pm tomorrow it’ll be a much closer affair. David Foster has been in good touch up-front and his influence along with that of Todd Harnwell, Darryl Platten and English import Tom Woodhead will be vital to the Gulls chances. Knights newcomer Paul Van Dongen is developing a strong midfield partnership with David Micevski, while Stuart Montgomery and David Annall will be key players at opposite ends of the park.
Perth SC quest for a record fifth consecutive Night Series title continues against ECU Joondalup in the second semi-final at 8.00pm. Goals have flowed freely for Graham Normanton’s team, David Onoforo and Ian McMurray hitting seven between them in four games, while Shaun Kilkelly has been the stand-out in a watertight defence. Phil O’Callaghan has slotted in nicely up-front on his return to Joondalup, who’ll require big efforts from midfield general Dale McCulloch and English import Charlie Coymn-Platt to get them over the line. All in all it should be a great night of entertain so get down and support your team – entry is only $8 adults and $6 concessions with under-15’s admitted free.
MCCULLOCH RELISHES JOONDALUP’S NEXT ASSIGNMENT
ECU Joondalup veteran Dale McCulloch can't wait to lock horns with a star-studded Perth SC outfit in Saturday's semi-final Night Series round at Litis Stadium. With Perth shooting for a record fifth consecutive Night Series crown, McCulloch is all too well aware of just how difficult a game this will be. "Perth are a very good side and as a player you always want to play against the best and I'm really looking forward to the game," he said. "We match up well against them and beat them last season at our place so we go into the game full of confidence. We know they are a good team and have quality all over the park, but one thing I do know is we will make it tough for them come Saturday night."
McCulloch's team over-powered an in-form Cockburn City last week to qualify for the semi-final stage, and the tough-tackling midfielder feels there's still room for improvement. "I thought we all worked very hard and really could have had a couple more goals on the night," McCulloch said of last weekend's 2-1 win. "Cockburn are a good side, but we kept really disciplined and kept to our game plan and we ran out worthy winners in the end. We hope to improve on that performance against Perth and if we do a place in the final is the reward."
An active off-season recruitment program will see the likes of dual Golden Boot winner Phil O'Callaghan, former State youth team representatives Chris Wylie and John Thornley and imports Andy Banks, Conrad Poi and Tom Swatton wear Joondalup colours in 2010. "All the new boys have settled right in nicely," said McCulloch, who first played for Joondalup in 1999. "A few of the new players we knew well so it makes it a lot easier. We had four new players that started last weekend and they all played really well, which will give Syd (Amphlett) some selection headaches this week."
KOVACEVIC READY TO UP THE ANTE WITH FLOREAT
Former national league footballer Ante Kovacevic has been confirmed as player/manager of Floreat Athena following the departure of Michael Roki. Kovacevic, who played 276 national league games before retiring from that level in 2007, is relishing stepping into the top job at Floreat, saying he still has the passion, drive and fitness to satisfy his instinctive and competitive urges. "I am proud and somewhat elated to be given the opportunity to manage a highly regarded club in the top flight WA football competition," said Kovacevic, a key member of Perth Glory's football operations team. "I thank the Board for backing my appointment and look forward to their support and working with them."
Having experienced Premier League and Cup success with Floreat as a player, Kovacevic has made it his goal to capture further silverware in his new role. "The bar has been set high at Athena and this was noticeable when I arrived here four years ago. It was fantastic to be part of the recent success, particularly being involved as a player in the undefeated 2007 (Premier League championship winning) team," Kovacevic said. "I personally know what our players are capable of and I am excited about managing them. We know as a club that we need to go the extra mile and work hard if we are to reap the rewards that success brings, and I want to be part of this."
Floreat president Con Poulios is delighted to have someone of Kovacevic's calibre lead his club into the winter of 2010. "It was never going to be easy to replace Roki, however, the appointment of Ante to the top job is certainly a popular choice amongst all the Athena family, including our players, coaches, supporters, loyal sponsors and our Board of Management," said Poulios. "As a club we are planning for and demanding success and Ante Kovacevic is now in a position to impart his knowledge, skills and abilities at all levels to help steer us towards the goals we have set."
ODONG READIES TO SPARKLE FOR THE KNIGHTS
2010 is shaping up to be a landmark year for Western Knights young gun Francis Odong. On the fringes of first team selection for the latter part of last season, 20-year old Odong has featured in all four of his clubs Night Series fixtures as he attempts to become established in Paul Price's line-up. "The season is going great, I'm feeling fitter than before and training with the first team week in week out has definitely sharpened my play and I've also become a lot more tactically aware," he said. "A number of the Knights players have helped me with the transition along with Pricey and Tony (Castiello) so all I can say is so far so good in the Premier League."
The Knights booked themselves a Night Series semi-final berth by defeating a resilient Floreat Athena last week. "It was a fantastic win for the club (and) it was a well-timed run and a fantastic header from Paul Van Dongen that won it for us. I thought we showed great character, even though Floreat drew level and we were away from home, we still managed to get up and get the win," Odong said. "We were unlucky in Cup competitions last season, we lost to Perth in the Top Five Final, were knocked out by Inglewood United in the semi-final of the Soccer Pools Cup and in the night series we went out to Floreat 2-1, so it was nice to get one over them."
Odong came off the bench against Floreat to play the majority of the second half in the unfamiliar role of left back. "I think I did okay at left back, I did make a few uncharacteristic errors which I was a little frustrated about but I did the job the coach wanted me to do," he said. "It was out of position for me but it's good to play in other areas, it allows me to develop my versatility on the pitch. I do prefer the centre of midfield more than a defensive role as it allows me to dictate a little bit better and I feel my attributes are better suited to that position."
The recent re-signing of brothers David and Daniel Micevski has provided all in the Knights camp a big boost as they head into the new season. "It's great to have them back on board for 2010. Both add another attacking dimension to the team, both are very technical, quick, strong and have great vision," said Odong, clearly a big fan of the Micevski brothers. "I think the younger up-and-coming players at the club can learn a lot from them, not just in the way that they play but from the way they conduct themselves off the pitch as well."
Odong, who made his State League debut as a Fremantle Spirit player, feels lucky to have had two experienced coaches influence his game. "Both Pricey and Marc Wingell have been great for me," said Odong, who joined the Knights from Fremantle early last year. "At the Spirit Marc instilled a lot of confidence in me at a young age coming into first team football. Pricey has taught me so much in the time I have been at Knights, in terms of tactical awareness, positioning and aggression. Each training session you learn something new that has enabled me to develop my game to the next level."
The Price-Castiello partnership played a big role in the Knights claiming the Premier League crown last season. "They bring different elements of their experiences to coaching. Both have fresh new ideas and great energy; just listen to them on the sidelines," explained Odong, who has nothing but respect for his coaches. "Pricey has played at the highest level and brings new ideas on our defensive structure, hence our miserly goal difference last season. Tony is very good at the tactical side of things, and with the fitness training which has paid dividends to the squad."
SORRENTO’S MARTIN TARGETING AN APRIL RETURN
Sorrento midfielder Brodie Martin is on the mend from surgery and targeting an April return to football. Having battled osteitis pubis for much of last season, Martin decided to go under the knife over the off-season in order to get his body 100% for 2010. "I struggled last season with osteitis pubis which didn't respond well to lengthy rest or rehab, so I went in for 'pubis scrape' and to have a couple of hernias looked at the end of the season," explained Martin. "I've been on the bike for the last couple of weeks and it's now just a matter of progressing it along. I hope to be back playing in April."
The Gulls bounced back from a four-goal loss in their final Night Series group fixture by edging out 2009 Division One champions Balcatta in last week's quarter-final stage. "The boys were certainly keen to make amends for the loss against the Knights in the final game of the group phase," said Martin, who was in the stands when a Julian Piromalli own goal decided the game. "It was a solid performance all over the park (against Balcatta) and everyone contributed. It was good to see a few younger players putting in good performances as well."
Martin was quick to point out Sorrento made some good signings over the summer to off-set those players that have moved on. "It's certainly not ideal losing eight players from last season but perhaps it will be a blessing in disguise," said Martin. "The new lads have settled in really well and I've been especially impressed with David Foster's start to his second stint at the club, while goalkeeper Tom Woodhead is another new lad that has performed well in the night Series. Sorrento has always had good 'keepers and it looks like the tradition will continue with Tom."
A product of Sorrento's youth system, Martin rates 2007 championship winning coach Steve Neville as the biggest influence on his football career. "All the way I've had many good coaches, but the most influential to me would be Steve (Neville)," said Martin, a State youth and senior representative. "I've basically had him as a coach since I was 14, and I have always enjoyed his training. Next season Trevor (Morgan) and Steve will get us playing to our strengths and as a team and I think we will have a strong squad to finish in the top five."
There'll be another Martin at Sorrento this season with Brodie's father, Steve, himself former State League player, joining the clubs coaching staff. "Dad has always been a major influence on my football. He's always been there for advice and encouragement and of course the travel when I was younger," said Martin, whose father will be Sorrento's goalkeeping coach this season. "He was a good 'keeper back in his day and he enjoys being able to pass on his experience to the 'keepers down at the club."
GLORY HOME NETS FACELIFT
Perth Oval, Perth Glory’s home since 1996, will be upgraded to hold 27,500 people at a cost of up to $200 million. The ‘Guardian Express’ newspaper has revealed the Town of Vincent and the State Government will unveil estimated timelines, preliminary design concepts and costings for the upgrade this August. Town of Vincent mayor Nick Catania said the redevelopment would take up to eighteen months to complete. “Obviously we are going to have to work around the playing times of the rugby and soccer seasons but this will be an adequate upgrade catering for sports every weekend,” Catania said. “In the long-term, if required we can look at further development and as rugby and soccer catch on, we can look at our options.” Catania envisaged a redeveloped Subiaco Oval would be able to cater for possible World Cup games should Australia be granted host status of the event in either 2018 or 2022.
MCMURRAY WANTS TO GET ONE OVER FORMER TEAM MATES
State striker Ian McMurray comes face-to-face with former team mates for the first time when Perth SC takes on ECU Joondalup in the Night Series semi-finals on Saturday. McMurray played three and a half seasons at the northern suburbs club prior to his mid-2009 transfer to Perth, where he collected a Grand Final winner's medal at the first attempt. "I'm looking forward to the game against ECU," said the towering SCotsman. "It will be my first time competing against some old team mates and hopefully I can get myself on the scoresheet, a couple of times would be nice."
McMurray knows the weekend game is going to be a tough one. "I'm sure Syd (Amphlett) will have the boys fired up and ready for the match," McMurray said. "It will be a hard game, as ECU has made some strong additions to their squad. They had a great result against Cockburn City in the previous round and I'm sure they will want to continue that against us. Both teams are playing well at the moment, it will be a hard, physical match with some great football ... it should be a great game."
Perth booked their place in the Night Series semi-finals with last week's commanding 3-1 defeat of Mandurah City. "It was a comfortable win for us. We had a good first half, scoring two good goals," commented McMurray. "I felt we controlled the game but took our foot off the pedal a bit in the second half, especially after the third goal, and we can't afford that against Joondalup. The scoreline could have been greater but some good goalkeeping from Phil Straker prevented us increasing the lead. We know we can play better, but we got the win and it keeps us in contention for winning the Night Series."
Competition for places in the Perth line-up has been intense with established players and the up-and-coming youngsters out to impress coach Graham Normanton. "All the players work hard in training and Normo knows what every player is capable of," said McMurray. "The young lads who have come in have been great and they're trying to secure a permanent spot in the team. And it's great to have both Robbie Puca and Andreas Oliviera back after lengthy absences. It's like having two new players in the squad, they are both quality players who not only create things but can also score goals."
McMurray was the subject of much transfer speculation over the summer with some linking him with a return north. "I had some interest from a few teams in the close season, and having spent a few years at Joondalup I knew the rumours would be about me returning there," said McMurray, who is more than happy to remain at Dorrien Gardens. "I met up with Normo and had a chat with him and after that my decision was made. I'm really enjoying myself at Perth. It's a very well run professional club."
The strong camaraderie that exists between the playing and coaching staff at Perth is one of the clubs key strengths according to McMurray. "There is a great atmosphere within the whole club and I'm just glad to be part of it," he added. "All the lads know when to work hard but also enjoy a laugh or two. Training is always structured and hard going, but very enjoyable. Normo is a top manager who always wants and gets the best out of each player and each team he puts on the park, and I'm delighted to be part of it this season."
JONES RETURNS FOR BORO RESERVES
Brad Jones played for the first time in two months when he kept goal for Middlesbrough’s second string last night. The 28-year old West Australian was the only senior player on show as a youthful Reserve side beat Rotherham United 3-2. It was Jones’ first appearance for the club since the 2-0 Championship defeat at Newcastle United on 20 December. He will now hope to work his way back into manager Gordon Strachan’s plans after the Scot replaced him in the first team with 36-year old Danny Coyne, who has held the spot between the posts for the last twelve games.
SAGE BACKS HIS COACH
Perth Glory owner Tony Sage has thrown his support behind former Socceroo David Mitchell as the man to lead the club further up the table next season. Mitchell’s position was looking somewhat shaky in mid-season, when Glory won just two of thirteen games, but a late surge and some quality recruitment helped the side finish the regular season in fifth spot. “The contract we signed with Dave was a two-year contract,” Sage said following the weekend’s semi-final loss to Wellington Phoenix. “If he didn’t make the finals it would be terminated. He made the finals, it automatically clicked in so he’s our manager for next year.”
Sage recognised the impact a late pre-season program had on the Glory line-up. “We didn’t have much of a start to the year, they all came late the Socceroos and some of the other players - we played a lot better the second half of the season I think as the team gelled,” he said. “Although we’re very disappointed we didn’t go further than the finals, I think the soccer public here will prove that the way we did play that last four or five weeks that the side’s finally gelled together. We’re not going to lose virtually many players from that squad for next year, so I think next year’s going to be the year that we get into the top two or three.”
THE FOUNDATIONS HAVE BEEN LAID: MITCHELL
David Mitchell has described Perth Glory’s 2009/10 campaign as an icebreaker that will help lure more top talent to the west. Mitchell said Sunday’s semi-final loss to Wellington Phoenix should not detract from a season in which the club started to lay solid foundations for future success. “It was important that we rebuilt the club and made the finals and that’s a building block,” said Mitchell, who felt Glory were still playing catch-up with some of their A-League rivals. “We are trying to do that now and I think this year we’ve broken the ice in bringing in some quality players like Jacob (Burns), Chris Coyne, Andy Todd and Mile Sterjovski. They are all players we really needed in our squad to give ourselves a chance.”
Socceroos Burns, Coyne and Sterjovski all signed long-term deals last year while Todd, formerly captain of English club Blackburn Rovers, is expected to re-sign for another stint in the A-League. “Now Perth becomes a very attractive place (for players) to come because of the quality of players we’ve got, the football we’ve played and we’ve reached the finals now so we’ve moved forward. And we’ve got to do that again next year,” added Mitchell. Top of the coaches want list for next season is a replacement for striker Daniel McBreen, who’ll play for Central Coast Mariners next season. The club is also likely to offer a fresh deal to import Steven McGarry, while Wayne Srhoj, Jamie Coyne, Jamie Harnwell, Todd Howarth and Scott Bulloch are others yet to put pen to paper on new contracts.
MRDJA OUT FOR TWO - MELBOURNE TO APPEAL
David Mitchell has described Perth Glory’s 2009/10 campaign as an icebreaker that will help lure more top talent to the west. Mitchell said Sunday’s semi-final loss to Wellington Phoenix should not detract from a season in which the club started to lay solid foundations for future success. “It was important that we rebuilt the club and made the finals and that’s a building block,” said Mitchell, who felt Glory were still playing catch-up with some of their A-League rivals. “We are trying to do that now and I think this year we’ve broken the ice in bringing in some quality players like Jacob (Burns), Chris Coyne, Andy Todd and Mile Sterjovski. They are all players we really needed in our squad to give ourselves a chance.”
Just a fortnight after squeezing Nik Mrdja through one A-League loophole, Melbourne Victory must decide whether they can find another to keep him from a suspension which could destroy their title defence. Mrdja was last last night charged by the match review panel with violent conduct - which is accompanied by a minimum two-week suspension - for elbowing Sydney FC's Shannon Cole in the head during Thursday's major semi-final first leg. A two-game ban would rule the striker out of the semi-final return leg and may also see him miss the grand final should Melbourne qualify directly by beating Sydney over the two legs. The club have decided to refer the incident to the FFA Disciplinary Committee in the hope of having the ban reduced, or lifted altogether.
PHOENIX LOSS WILL DRIVE GLORY ON
The bitter disappointment of an early end to Perth Glory’s first A-League finals will spur the side on to greater success next season according to captain Jacob Burns. Glory’s inaugural finals campaign ended in heartbreak yesterday, losing 4-2 on penalties to Wellington Phoenix after the teams were deadlocked at 1-1 after 120 minute of football. “It’s a horrible way to go out but what doesn’t break you makes you stronger," said Burns. “It’s a hard way to go out. You’d rather lose in normal time, really. I thought we did ever so well. I thought we did enough. But you’ve got to take your hat off to Wellington. I think they’ve had a very good season and a fantastic crowd out here today and it just wasn’t our day.”
TODD COMMITS TO A SECOND SEASON
English defender Andy Todd has pledged his allegiance to Perth Glory for a second season. Todd, an outstanding contributor in Glory’s charge to a first A-League finals campaign, is out of contract at the end of the season but has confirmed he’s committed to another year in the sun. “There’s still family things to think about but Perth Glory have been really good to me so I’ll be around next season,” said Todd, who has settled into the Perth lifestyle with his wife and children. “Perth is a great city. It's nice and relaxed and I'm enjoying it on and off the pitch.”
O’CALLAGHAN SENDS JOONDALUP INTO LAST FOUR (with Chris Leitch, Football West)
ECU Joondalup overcome some late nerves to see off Cockburn City 2-1 and move into the Night Series semi-finals from this evening’s early fixture at Dorrien Gardens. Phil O’Callaghan’s brace laid the foundations for Joondalup’s win, which was only achieved after young defender Aryn Williams brought Cockburn back into the game with an own goal two minutes from the end. Joondalup was unlucky not to move ahead in the 6th minute when John Higgins’ hit the far post, Jason Marsden’s follow-up was superbly blocked by Dejan Aleksic before a third shot, this one from John Thornley, was also saved.
Cockburn were applying a fair degree of pressure to the opposition defence and Joe Brunetto should have made contact with a well-placed Anthony Periera free-kick. Joondalup drew blood in the 32nd minute, Higgins’ charging run into the 18-yard box ended with is shot being blocked by Aleksic with the ball deflecting straight into the path of O’Callaghan, who was to make no mistake. Cockburn had further chances to open their account in the minutes before half-time. The best came via a Jason Dos Santos corner to which Andy Banks produced a one-handed save before Periera’s drive from the top of the area was deflected away.
The Cockerels continued in an attacking frame of mind after the break with Periera and Adrian Webster setting up some promising moves. Shane Nunes caught Joondalup off-guard with a driving run into the box but his powerful shot was just wide. Joondalup countered with a quick clearance that found O’Callaghan, who outpaced his marker to slot his second goal past the advancing ‘keeper with 73 minutes on the clock. But the game was far from over and in the 88th minute Aaron Dos Santos’ cross appeared to have passed across the face of foal without incident when Williams’ trap went awry, the defender turning the ball into his own net. However, Joondalup held firm to set-up a semi-final show with northern suburbs rival Sorrento next weekend.
PERTH SIMPLY IN A DIFFERENT CLASS (by Chris Leitch, Football West)
A clinical Perth SC have thrashed Mandurah City 3-1 in this evening’s Night Series quarter-final showdown at Dorrien Gardens. It was a champagne performance from the currently Night Series champions, who could have scored a few more had it not been for the efforts of Mandurah goalkeeper Phil Straker. The writing was on the wall for Mandurah from the moment Greg Sharland’s blistering 3rd minute free-kick had Straker at full-stretch. Perth looked dangerous and goal-hungry with Ian McMurray never far from the action, the big striker’s powerful shot from 15-metres being kept out by an airborne ‘keeper.
It took something special from Robert Sciascia to crack the opposing defence after 20 minutes, the midfielder chasing the ball deep down the right and skilfully flicking it back for McMurray to head in at close-range. Mandurah would have been competitive had they been able to get some traction in attack, however, such was Perth’s dominance that chances were few and far between for the Dolphins. Half-time was on the horizon when Perth increased their lead with another superb individual effort by Dom De Felice, whose precision finish from a seemingly impossible angle on the edge of the 6-yard box brought the crowd to their feet.
The game was effectively over six minutes into the second half when poor defending lead to Mandurah conceding for a third time. Having given away another corner, Mandurah’s players were static as Robbie Puca sent the ball in and Sharland had the simple task of tapping into the net at close-range. It took Mandurah until the 67th minute to win their first corner of the evening, and it was only after going three-goals up that Perth allowed them to venture into their final third. 89 minutes had gone when Jesse Fuller’s cross into the area was headed in by substitute Michael Bobridge to grab Mandurah a consolation.
HEARTBREAK FOR GLORY AS SHOOT-OUT SENDS PHOENIX THROUGH
Perth Glory’s first finals campaign ended at the first hurdle when Wellington Phoenix prevailed in a penalty shoot-out at Westpac Stadium this afternoon. With the teams locked at 1-1 after 120 minutes the game went to penalties, Wellington goalkeeper Liam Reddy denying Naum Sekulovski and Scott Bulloch before former Glory player Adrian Caceres fired in the decisive shot to earn the hosts a 4-2 win and a place in the last four. “I’m proud of the boys and I thought we probably created the better chances of the game,” said Glory coach Dave Mitchell after the drama. “We all know it’s not easy to come here. I’m proud of their achievement this year. It’s a sad way to go but the game plan and the way we played was great.”
There were a few tense moments early on for the bumper crowd of 24,267 who watched as Glory dominated possession. However, it was Phoenix that had the first genuine crack at goal with Paul Ifill’s effort from the edge of the 18-yard box saved low by Tando Velaphi. Glory continued to press and should have gone one-up after 22 minutes, Daniel McBreen’s cross finding Scott Neville in on goal but the youngsters weak shot was captured by Reddy. Neville was in again a minute later, shrugging off Manny Muscat to go one-on-one with the ‘keeper who managed to deflect the ball wide with his foot. It was at this stage all Glory as David Mitchell’s team put aside this season’s poor away record to take the game to their hosts.
Glory fashioned another good opening on the half hour when captain Jacob Burns slid-rule pass put Neville in the clear on the right, the youngsters delivered his cross to Wayne Srhoj but Jon McKain was alaert to block the shot. Neville was causing the Phoenix rearguard all sorts of problems and on 34 minutes he found an unmarked Chris Coyne, who headed wide from 5-metres. Three minutes later Phoenix snatched the lead totally against the run of play, a neat back heel by Ifill found Muscat whose cross beat the defence as Greenacre ghosted in to slide the ball into the net from close-range. It was a bitter pill for Glory to swallow but they were lucky not to be another down before the break when Ifill’s curling shot was brilliantly pushed away from the top corner by Velaphi.
The pace was frenetic at the start of the second half, Daniel McBreen had a shot block by Muscat before played switch to the other end where Vince Lia’s first time strike was superbly saved by Velaphi. Glory were looking the more threatening as McBreen’s header was cleared off the line by Troy Hearfield. Their reward came via a 67th minute free-kick which Burns swung in from the right and an unmarked Neville powered his header into the net. As fatigue began to take effect, both teams were guilty of filing to hit their marks in the final third late in regulation time. Tim Brown and Scott Bulloch each had shot saves before referee Srebre Delovski dismissed a home penalty appeal after Eugene Dadi’s shot was blocked by Chris Coyne’s arm.
Phoenix opened extra-time positively with a Lia long-range attempt drifting just wide of the target. Neville, despite struggling to overcome cramp, continued to give the home side plenty to think about and on 94 minutes should have done better than snatch a shot at Reddy after being found by substitute Mile Sterjovski. The pendulum swung in Glory’s favour in the 104th minute home defender McKain was granted an early shower for his second yellow card of the day. Glory’s best chance to steal victory came four minutes later when Bulloch’s cross found Neville whose downward header was instinctively kept out by Reddy. Steven McGarry and McBreen converted in the shoot-out for Glory but Sekulovski and Bulloch had their shots saved by Reddy, while a perfect set of kicks from Ifill, Andrew Durante, Brown and Caceres handed the spoils to Phoenix.
GLORY YOUTH SECURE FINALS SPOT
Perth Glory Youth booked their place in the National Youth League play-offs with today’s last-gasp 1-0 win against Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium. The result, courtesy of a final minute goal by Anthony Skorich, puts the Glory youngsters level on points with Central Coast Mariners at the top of the National Youth League table. The day began on a sour note for the hosts, Kristian Sarkies exiting after only 6 minutes with a serious knee injury the result of a heavy challenge with visiting captain Steve Hesketh. Adelaide wasted no time in regrouping before Evan Kostopolous’ close-range blast was just wide. The hosts should have gone ahead midway through the half but goalkeeper Alex Pearson thwarted Joseph Wright in a one-on-one situation. Perry Mitris’ shot was deflected over the crossbar late in the half, and a few minutes later Dane Milovanovic sent a free-kick narrowly wide from outside the 18-yard box.
Knowing the job was there to be done, Glory Youth lifted for the second half which was six minutes old when Branko Jelic’s deft back-heel found Tommy Amphlett but his shot was well saved by Mark Birighitti. The resulting corner was met by Jelic and with Birighitti caught out of position it was left to Inseop Shin to clear the Serbian’s effort from on the line. Glory were well on top by now and Ryan Pearson’ shot was brilliantly kept out of the top corner by Birighitti, and some desperate defending thwarted Glen Trifiro at the follow-up. With time running out Adelaide thought they’d snatched victory through Francesco Monterosso but he somehow lifted the ball over the crossbar from close-range. And when Jelic sent a free-kick high and wide it was looking as though the teams would have to settle for a point each. However, a lapse in the home defence was punished to the fullest extend as Skorich smashed past Birighitti from close-range to steal victory.
GULLS SCRAPE THROUGH (by Chris Correia, Football West)
Sorrento booked their spot in the Night Series semi-finals by ecking out a narrow 1-0 win over Balcatta in this evening’s early game at Litis Stadium. The two sides played out a thrilling 3-3 draw in the qualifying rounds and another high-scoring affair was expected to be on the cards, however, goals were very hard to come by in a much tighter contest. Ashley Rosindale carved open the Gulls defence with an early through ball to Lucas Whitehouse whose shot travelled just wide of the target. Minutes later Rosindale cut the ball back into the path of Joey Woodin but his effort saved by goalkeeper Tom Woodhead.
Half an hour was on the clock when Sorrento broke the deadlock, in somewhat fortuitous circumstances. Woodhead launched his side into attack with a booming kick that bounced over the opposing defence and was inadvertently put into the net by Balcatta player Julian Piromalli. Balcatta hit back strongly, experienced defender Anthony Jones unleashing a blistering shot that was kept out by Woodhead. David Foster created Sorrento’s best chance of the half by finding an unmarked Daryl Platten whose shot on target was turned away by goalkeeper David Khuen.
Foster found the back of the net early in the second half, bundling a header over the line, but his efforts accounted for nothing with the assistant referee ruling it out for offside. Balcatta’s Andy O’Neill tried to lift his side with a long-range effort that required a fingertip save from Woodhead. Sorrento continued to waste chances with Foster and Jason Mirco both failing to hit the target when called upon. Khuen was fortunate to remain on the park when, having come out of his area and brought down Foster, referee Joe Fusari showed leniency by issuing the ‘keeper with a yellow card shortly before the final whistle.
VAN DONGEN THE HERO AS KNIGHTS CHARGE ON (with Chris Correia, Football West)
New recruit Paul Van Dongen struck in stoppage time to send Western Knights into the last four of the Night Series with a pulsating 2-1 win over Floreat Athena at Litis Stadium. The game looked set to be decided in the lottery of a penalty shootout when Van Dongen headed past goalkeeper Alex Dunn. The Knights made a promising start with shots by Stuart Montgomery and Daniel Micevski bringing Dunn into the action early. And they got their deserved reward on the quarter hour when Montgomery’s free-kick deflected off a sea of legs, bamboozling Dunn before coming to rest in the net.
Floreat midfielder John Migas tried to lift his side with a low drive but ‘keeper Frazer Siddall was equal to the task. James Isaia was causing the opposition defence all kinds of problems with his dead ball prowess, curling one free-kick superbly around the defensive wall only for it to crash into the upright. And not longer the same player arrowed a shot towards the bottom corner from where Siddall tipped the ball away. A quick response by David Micevski also had the desired effect of doubling the Knight lead but his shot flashed just past the near post. Johnny Mirco tried hard to equalise before the break, his initial shot was blocked by Siddall and the follow-up effort from a tight angle missed the target.
The second half opened with Floreat determined to get back on level terms. And that is exactly what they did 69 minutes in when Isaia rose well to powerfully head beyond the gloves of Siddall at a back post cross by Adam Bachiller. Both teams had opportunities to win the game late on, Migas failing by the narrowest of margins to hit the target at a set piece before Knights substitute Anthony Campbell blasted well over the crossbar from close-range. Then, two minutes into stoppage time, Daniel Micevski’s quick throw-in allowed David Micevski to whip in a cross which Van Dongen looped over Dunn and into the top corner of the net to steal a dramatic victory.
MATILDAS TOO GOOD FOR NEW ZEALAND
The Matildas completed a successful tour of New Zealand with their second successive 3-0 win over the Football Ferns today at Bill McKinlay Park, Auckland. Heather Garriock, Lisa De Vanna and Leena Khamis were on target for coach Tom Sermanni, whose squad now moves to Brisbane’s Gold Coast for a a two-game series with DPR Korea in early March. Australia opened the scoring in the 36th minute when Heather Garriock lashed past goalkeeper Jenny Bindon on the half volley after Collette McCallum’s free-kick had rebounded off the crossbar.
Lisa De Vanna increased the Matilda’s hold over the game three minutes into the second half, the striker latching onto a Clare Polkinghorne pass before confidently chipping the advancing ‘keeper. New Zealand’s desire for a goal had them push forward in numbers late in the game only to be caught out on 84 minutes when an unmarked Leena Khamis headed in from a Garriock cross. Team captain McCallum and goalkeeper Lydia Williams played full games, De Vanna came off after 58 minutes while Samantha Kerr was introduced in the 58th minute.
MELBOURNE WEIGHS APPEAL ON MRDJA HIT
Melbourne Victory are pondering whether to appeal the red card issued to striker Nik Mrdja in Thursday night’s A-League major semi-final with Sydney FC. Mrdja, who’d put Melbourne ahead on 16 minutes, was issued his marching orders in the 73rd minute of his team’s 2-1 win after his elbow made contact with Sydney defender Shannon Cole. The striker faces a two-game suspension, ruling him out of the Grand Final should Melbourne prevail against Sydney in the semi-final second leg in 15 days. But the club is hopeful of having the charge against Mrdja downgraded so he’d instead face a one-game ban.
QUARTERS TIME IN NIGHT SERIES
The business end of the Bam Creative Night Series commences with a series of sudden-death double-headers across the weekend. There'll be a strong sense of deja vu when Balcatta and Sorrento match skills in the opening game of the quarter-finals tomorrow evening at Clipsal Stadium (6.00pm). The teams meeting of three weeks ago was an absolute thriller in which Sorrento scored three times in the closing stages to snatch a share of the points. That outcome is not an option this time around, so you can be sure both will be giving their all to keep their pre-seasons alive.
The late game at Litis Stadium pits a red-hot Floreat Athena against the might of the Western Knights (8.00pm). Floreat were the only team to go through qualifiers with a 100% win record and, following Michael Roki's recent decision to step down as coach, all at the club have set their sights on lifting the pre-season trophy. After a tentative start to the tournament, the Knights stepped things up a notch with last week's thrashing of Sorrento which marked the return of influential brothers David Micevski and Daniel Micevski.
The action switches to Dorrien Gardens on Sunday with Cockburn City up against ECU Joondalup (5.30pm) in the early fixture. There are strong signs that both clubs have learnt from their errors of last season and will be considerably stronger in 2010. Cockburn boss Scott Miller has remedied a lack of experience by recruiting Shane Nunes, David Tarka and Adrian Webster. Similarly, Steve Amphlett has added firepower and depth in the form of John Thornley, Phil O'Callaghan and Chris Wylie.
Perth SC and Mandurah City round out the weekend under lights at Dorrien Gardens on Sunday (7.30pm). Graham Normanton's side are the undisputed kings of pre-season football and with David Onoforo, Greg Sharland and Robert Sciascia firing on all cylinders their plans for a fifth straight Night Series title are very much on course. Mandurah, who have been remodelled by new coach Stuart Young, scrapped into the quarter-finals and it really is difficult seeing them going beyond the round of eight..
Things are beginning to get interesting in the Division One Night Series, which enters its third round at Hartfield Park in Forrestfield. Neighbours Ashfield and Bayswater City get the action underway tonight at 8.00pm, alongside eastern corridor rivals Gosnells City and Queens Park. On Saturday its Morley Windmills against South West Phoenix and Fremantle Spirit verses Wanneroo City, both games start at 8.00pm.
The action on Sunday commences at 7.00pm with host club Forrestfield United tipped to claim an easy victory against a Rockingham City outfit that has leaked ten goals in 180 minutes of pre-season football. Canning City will be looking to bounce back from last week's shock loss when they face Dianella White Eagles, who've lost two from two, on the adjoining pitch. Entry to the 2010 Division One Night Series is $6 for adults and $4 concession, with under-15's free.
STERJOVSKI IS BACK ON DECK
Mile Sterjovski declared himself a certain starter for Perth Glory's first ever A-League finals game against Wellington Phoenix on Sunday at Westpac Stadium. Having missed the teams last three outings due to a back complaint, Sterjovski put in a couple of solid training sessions early in the week before flying to New Zealand as part of David Mitchell's 19-player travelling party on Wednesday evening. "I'm feeling fit and I'm up for selection for the game," said Sterjovski, who returns to the squad along with Jacob Burns and Chris Coyne. "It's a big boost for us to get a few boys back and they have done really well without us there. Everyone is fighting for places and we're pretty confident."
The road trip to Wellington is the longest in world club football and Sterjovski isn't about to downplay just how difficult getting a result in New Zealand is going to be for Glory. "We know it's going to be difficult and we're looking forward to it," said Sterjovski, mindful Wellington have not lost at home since October 2008. "People underestimate how hard it is to fly that distance and get a result, and prepare for the game. They are also confident at home like most teams, but we will prepare the best we can and give our best." Glory's sudden-death A-League semi-final with Wellington will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 from 12.00noon (Perth time).
GLORY YOUTH SEEING REDS (courtesy Perth Glory)
Perth Glory Youth can consolidate top spot on the National League Youth ladder by claiming victory in Sunday's meeting with Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium. The Glory youngsters are yet to claim maximum points against the Reds this season but captain Steve Hesketh says the boys are confident they can get one up on them this weekend. "Last time we played them we felt pretty hard done by. I think you always feel that way after losing games but on that day especially we felt as though we were the better team on the park," said the tough tackling defender. "This time around we'll be there to do what we failed to do last time."
Hesketh says this week will be a defining moment for the squad, who are chasing their first finals appearance. "Every game is important to us each week but winning the next two games are vital to our overall success this season," he commented. "We know that if we can get the points in our last two games, especially away against Adelaide, then we'll definitely be in contention to win the league. Going into the finals the lads and I are really excited. It's been our ultimate goal to finish on top and that's why we're playing the way we are."
A solid performer at centre half back each week, Hesketh concedes that while he's had a strong season it has been the efforts of the entire squad that has got them into top spot. "We've been doing really well this season going forward and scoring goals and I think we've been so successful because we're very well structured and we haven't conceded many goals either," he said. "I think I've had quite a solid season but having said that I think all the lads have, it has definitely been a big team effort. We've all got that mentality that we're going to win this and it's just a matter of training hard and being there at the end."
FOOTBALL GETS STREETWISE
Growing up playing street football has spurred former Perth Glory midfielder Mark Lee to develop his own take on the world game. Lee will bring the Urban 3 Street Football Supremacy Tour for players aged between ten and fourteen to Lords Recreation Centre (Subiaco) on Sunday 28 February. Put together by Lee and Dave Elliott, the tournament involves teams of three youngsters lining up to play fast-paced three-minute games. Accompanied by plenty of energised music from the sidelines, the games have modified rules such as no corner kicks and the nearest player to the goals can serve as goalkeeper. Lee said he hoped to continue boosting the profile of the competition, with the style of play providing its share of fun for youngsters and ways to boost skill levels. For more information on Urban 3 Street Football visit thesoccerlounge.com.au.
REDBACKS BACK WITH BITE (by Ann Odong)
When it comes to nominating potential Women's Premier League champions Northern Redbacks are always on the list. For close to a decade the north of the river club has been at the forefront of women's football and coach Tim Hodgson has been there every step of the way. "I created the monster so I am stuck with it!," said Hodgson as he prepares for 2010. "I do enjoy it and I get excited each year as we have new players that come in and that gets me reinvigorated."
Spearheaded by joint Golden Boot winners Lara Filicamo and Jackie Nellany, the Redbacks were formidable in attack last season. However, a tendency to concede soft early goals cost them matches and, ultimately, a shot at the title. "The players that we have there just need to be probably a little bit smarter about how they play their positions," explained Hodgson, who won't sacrifice his teams attacking flair for safety at the back. "But we are always going to be vulnerable on the counter because of the way we play."
Matildas striker Lisa De Vanna, inaugural Perth Glory Womens coach Nicola Williams and current Glory Women defender Carys Hawkins have played for the Redbacks in the past and Hodgson feels there are a couple more players capable of going on to bigger and better things somewhere down the track. "Without putting pressure on people, we have Amy Knights who has great potential, and Sarah Carroll. They are probably the two young ones who have already been observed by the WAIS coach (John Gibson)," Hodgson said. "It's up to them to listen and work on the things they are advised to work on to improve their game."
With the new season fast approaching, the Redbacks are looking to field teams several levels during the coming winter. "We have a lot of new players and we expect to field competitive teams in the Premier League Reserves and the First Division competition, so at the moment looks pretty good player-wise," said Hodgson, who is keen to offer as many players an opportunity as possible. "If we can assist in some way for these girls to achieve whatever they are wanting to achieve in their football then I think that's a positive." Visit the new footballwa.net Women's section for more on women’s football in Western Australia.
FAMILY BRINGS SHARROCK BACK TO ARMADALE
Goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock is looking forward to chalking up a few more games for Armadale following his off-season return to the club. Sharrock made 50 appearances for the Reds before transferring in the middle of last season to Sorrento where he replaced Neil Young. The highly shot-stopper enjoyed his time with the Gulls but wanted to be closer to home for family reasons. “A new addition to the family, little boy Brody, the travelling to Sorrento made the time away from my family a little difficult. So the decision was made a little easier for me,” explained Sharrock.
Sharrock was a huge hit at the Percy Doyle Reserve and he will remember his time there with great fondness. “I enjoyed every minute of my time up at Sorrento with the players, management and committee making me so welcome when first joining. I feel last season was a disappointing season, from the standard the club keeps but I’m sure the club will bounce back to be a force this year,” explained Sharrock.
A number of clubs knocked at the ‘keeper’s door over the summer but for Sharrock the choice of where he’d play was straight forward. “I had contact from a couple of clubs over the break but there was only one place I wanted to go and that was back to Armadale,” said Sharrock, who is joined at Alfred Skeet Oval by his former Sorrento team mates Steven McDonald, Lewis Flatt and Michael Ord. “The other lads have fitted in really well at the club and are all good players to have around the dressing room with the banter flying around the place you have to be on your toes.”
Armadale coach Brad Hassell has no qualms about having Sharrock back at the club and knows full well that the volume will be turned up at training and on match days. “The sessions have just gotten louder with Cyril’s return. He’s a very enthusiastic person to have around and we’re delighted to have him back. He hates losing, so he obviously thinks Armadale are going to do okay this season,” said Hassell, who has also recruited English imports Steve Drew and Garrin St Vall, both who played under Reds assistant coach Steve Robinson.
Sharrock is excited about the coming season and looking forward to the return of goal machine James Robinson, who’ll link-up with Armadale in the not too distant future. “The lads and the club are excited for the arrival of Robbo as he gives you so much going forward, not to mention the goals he will score which always helps,” said Sharrock. “The squad has definitely changed since the last time I was here, and I hear there are a few more additions just around the corner. That can only be a good sign as you have to be on your game as there are other good players waiting to take your shirt.”
WILSON BOBS UP AT STIRLING
Going on his Night Series performances, Stirling Lions new import Bobby Wilson is enjoying his time in Perth. The defensive midfielder has been impressive in his first couple of outings for the Lions, who he joined during the summer from non-League English side Stafford Rangers. “It was a huge decision to leave Rangers, but I needed a change and when this chance came up I knew I had to take it,” said 21-year old Wilson. “I’m really enjoying waking up to the sun everyday and have settled in really well. The club has made me very welcome which has made it a lot easier for me to settle.”
Wilson captained Rangers in the Conference North - England’s sixth tier - last season but has no regrets about moving downunder. “The move to the Lions came about two months ago,” explained Wilson, who has walked away from his role as community coach with Nottingham Forest juniors. “I put my football profile on a web site and I was surprised when Lions president Don Evans contacted me and asked my thoughts on coming across to play for a season. I wasn’t sure up till late due to work and football commitments back home, but I’m glad I decided to do it and it’s a great opportunity for me.”
A chat with former Everton captain Michael Lyons, now coach of Stirling, following a game in England was enough to convince Wilson to try his luck at Macedonia Park in 2010. “I was lucky enough to have the Gaffer (Lyons) come and watch one of my games in England and I had a good chat after about coming here to play for the Lions,” said Wilson, who counts Southend United and Notts County amongst his former clubs. “He has played at the highest level in football and he has been helping me with my game already since I’ve been here, and I’m looking forward to learning more off him throughout the season.”
Stirling president Evans is delighted to have secured Wilson’s services for 2010. “Bobby is a welcome acquisition to our club adding height, strength and leadership in the centre of defence alongside another first class defender in Michael Pugliese,” said Evans, who has been pleased with how the clubs imports have adapted to life in Perth. “Bobby showed that he is settling in well playing at Stirling and is already a big hit amongst the Lions faithful. Tom Ingram (ex-Quorn FC) and Matthew Stares have added skill and bite into the Lions midfield and will only get better with more games under their belt.”
Wilson, who admits to being pleasantly surprised by the standard of State League football in Perth, is tipping his new club to be in the mix for top honours come the business end of season 2010. “Our squad has definitely got the talent to win the league, we have a strong squad and we’re all looking forward to the task ahead of us,” said Wilson. “The standard of football is very similar but I think the lads here are physically a lot fitter than in the UK. I really enjoyed the Night Series, it’s made me look forward to the coming season even more … I just hope we get a better referee than we did in the last Night Series game!”
DE VANNA, MCCALLUM STAR IN TRANS-TASMAN VICTORY
Perth Glory Women team mates Lisa De Vanna and Collette McCallum starred in the Matildas 3-0 win over New Zealand in Auckland last night. De Vanna grabbed Australia's final goal late in the game while McCallum's midfield influence drew praise from coach Tom Sermani. "Collette McCallum was instrumental and Servet surprised me at the back with how well she has accustomed to the position," said Sermanni after the first of a two-game friendly series. "In fact I thought all over the park everybody played an excellent part in the performance." It was an important win for the Matildas as they ramp-up preparations for the AFC Women's Asian Cup in China this May.
Australia was quick to settle and on 23 minutes opened their account on 23 minutes, Heather Garriock playing in an unmarked Sarah Walsh whose first time shot went past oncoming goalkeeper Jenny Bindon. Walsh grabbed another eight minutes into the second half by side-footing in a low cross from Garriock on the end of a flowing lead-up. The scoring was completed when De Vanna's deft lob at close-range capped in an impressive display. New Zealand's evening was further dampened when captain Hayley Moorwood was sent off for a second yellow card close to full-time. De Vanna played a full game, McCallum came off after 71 minutes, Samantha Kerr was introduced in the 65th minute while goalkeeper Lydia Williams was an unused substitute.
AUSTRALIA CALL-UP FOR GLORY’S MCBREEN
Daniel McBreen's stunning form while on loan to Perth Glory has been rewarded with selection in the Socceroos squad for next months AFC Asian Cup qualifier against Indonesia. The striker's club mates Jacob Burns and Mile Sterjovski will also join the largely A-League based squad should they come through this weekend's game with Wellington Phoenix unscathed. However, there was no place in the squad for defender Chris Coyne despite the key role he played in Australia's qualification for this year's World Cup in South Africa. Australia needs only a draw against Indonesia to qualify for the 2011 Asian Cup, which will be hosted by Qatar next January.
The Australia squad to face Indonesia on 3 March is Eugene Galekovic, Scott Jamieson, Mathew Leckie, Michael Marrone (Adelaide United), Luke DeVere, Matthew McKay, Tommy Oar, Michael Zullo (Brisbane Roar), Danny Vukovic (Central Coast Mariners), Luke Wilkshire (Dinamo Moscow), Jason Culina (Gold Coast United), Jade North (Incheon United), Mark Milligan (JEF United), Josh Kennedy (Nagoya Grampus), Ben Kantarovski, Matt Thompson (Newcastle Jets), David Williams (North Queensland Fury), Daniel McBreen (Perth Glory), Clint Bolton, Alex Brosque, Shannon Cole, Simon Colosimo, Stuart Musialik (Sydney FC), Andrew Durante and Jonathan McKain (Wellington Phoenix).
COYNE WANTS A RETURN TO THE GLORY DAYS
Jamie Coyne played in Perth Glory’s last championship in the days of the National Soccer League, but this week he finally gets a chance to be part of the A-League finals action. Sunday’s game with Wellington Phoenix ends a lengthy drought for Glory, who have not experienced finals football since defeating Parramatta Power in the NSL Grand Final of 2003/04. “It’s been something over the last four or five years that it’s been disappointing not to do,” said Coyne. “It’s a little achievement along the way for the club and looking at the big picture, hopefully, we can win this weekend and go again the next weekend.”
Wellington haven’t lost at their fortress of Westpac Stadium since October 2008 but Coyne said that record would count for little in a do-or-die final. “Big deal that they’ve won a lot of games over there. That’s all in the past and finals football is different. It’s a one off game and we’ll be going over there trying to frustrate them and get a couple of goals,” Coyne said. “If we can do that and nullify their best players we are pretty confident. Everyone is going on about the distance we have to travel and everything, but we are happy to be going over there and are looking forward to it.”
Glory’s three Socceroos look set to return to action this weekend with team captain Jacob Burns seemingly over a slight hamstring tear while defender Chris Coyne and marquee player Mile Sterjovski moved freely at training today. “There’s a couple of boys who have been injured and all of a sudden they are feeling better and those niggles are going away,” added the younger Coyne sibling. “Any niggles are feeling better now miraculously and he (Burns) trained well today. Chris and Mile were on the sidelines doing a fair bit of running, but I think they are all pretty confident about getting on the plane.”
While the 10,000km-plus round trip to Wellington is far from ideal for Glory, Coyne isn’t interested in making any excuses. “It’s not the best trip and we’d prefer to play at home, but we’ll travel three or four days beforehand and we’ll be acclimatised by the time the game starts,” he said. “The conditions there are always a bit wet and windy, but we’ve travelled over there twice this year already and we are pretty much used to it by now. They’ve gone a year and-a-half without being beaten at home and our away record’s not the best, but this is the time to change it. They are confident playing at home, but we are also confident about going over there and getting the result going our way.”
Coyne wore Glory colours for the first time in 2002, during the National Soccer League days. He’s gone on to become one of the clubs longest serving players but still looks back on fondly on his success with Glory in the old national competition. “Back then Perth was a professional club where we were full-time, but there was a lot of clubs that weren’t. We played Parramatta and they themselves were probably paying higher than what the salary cap is these days so they had a lot of good players, as we did,” said Coyne, who recognises the A-League has taken the game to new levels in Australia. “In terms of attention and media, the A-League has grown from strength to strength every year so there is a bit of a difference,” he added.
HAMMERS STARLET TOMBIDES SCORES HAT-TRICK
Teenager Dylan Tombides has done his bit to ensure West Ham United’s visit to Bermuda ended on a high. Tombides, a former Stirling Lions junior, scored a hat-trick when the Hammers Youth team defeated Bermuda Grey 8-2 in the final game of the Clyde Best Invitational Tournament. Blair Turgott also bagged a hat-trick with Kieran Sadlier grabbing the remainder as West Ham finished the four-team tournament as runners-up to French club AS Saint-Etienne. West Ham began their campaign with a 2-0 win over Saint-Etienne on Friday, two days later thrashed Bermuda Red 5-0 before dumping Bermuda Grey 8-2 on Monday.
HERNANDEZ WINS JOHNNY WARREN MEDAL
Melbourne Victory’s flamboyant Costa Rican import Carlos Hernandez has capped a brilliant summer by taking out the Johnny Warren Medal as the A-League’s player of the season at last night’s gala awards ceremony in Sydney. Hernandez blitzed the field in wining the award, which is voted on by his peers, with 673 votes finish well ahead of Gold Coast United striker Shane Smeltz (431 votes) and Wellington Phoenix import Paul Ifill (311 votes).
Hernandez’s win completed a memorable evening for Melbourne, with Ernie Merrick collecting Coach of the Year and Archie Thompson the Goal of the Year. The Young Player of the Year award was presented to Brisbane Roar’s Tommy Oar, Smeltz picked up the Golden Boot award and Adelaide United’s Eugene Galekovic won back-to-back Goalkeeper of the Year trophies. Table-toppers Sydney FC were awarded the Fair Play Award, with Strebre Delovski installed as Referee of the Year.
WILLIAMS SIGNS NEW DEAL WITH BORO
Socceroos sensation Rhys Williams has committed his future to Middlesbrough by signing a new three-and-a-half year contract with the Championship promotion hopefuls. Williams previous deal still had eighteen months to run, but Middlesbrough made their move with the versatile 22-year old becoming a first-team regular and in the wake of a 'dream year'. "It's all happened for me in this past year," said Williams. "This time last year I had just signed forms to join Burnley on an extended loan. I ended up suffering relegation with Boro and celebrating promotion with Burnley on the same weekend. But relegation was a blessing in disguise for me because it gave me a chance to break into the first team."
Williams had been a regular starter for Boro this campaign, scoring twice in eleven outings, before being struck down in early January by a pelvic injury. "It wasn't really a difficult decision to commit to a new contract because until my injury I've been in the team and happy," he added. "I'd had some talks with Gareth Southgate initially but it was great that Gordon Strachan came in and quickly said that he wanted me to sign a new deal. That's a big boost for me, especially as he has picked me so often too."
Strachan has had a slow start to life at the Riverside Stadium, but following a busy January transfer window, the signs look positive for Boro who are currently eighth in the English second tier. "Now my aim is to win promotion with Boro. That's what all the lads want and the gaffer too," said Williams. "If I can help Boro win promotion and play at the World Cup that would be the perfect scenario. Pim Verbeek, the Australia manager, has been to Boro games along with his assistants and he's more likely to come now that Scott McDonald is here too."
For now, though, the Williams must bide his time on the sidelines with his frustrating injury. "I've been first in and last out of Rockliffe for a few weeks now and I can't wait to get back playing," he said. "I've been doing a lot of strengthening exercises in the gym, but I'm running again now and doing a bit of ball work. I've pencilled in the QPR game at the end of the month for my comeback. That may be a bit too optimistic, but if I make good progress over the next couple of weeks I'll hopefully be about there."
VICTORY A MUST FOR GLORY SAYS VETERAN COYNE
Anything less than victory over Wellington Phoenix in next weekend’s A-League semi-final clash will leave Perth Glory as underachievers according to defender Chris Coyne. With fellow Socceroos Jacob Burns and Mile Sterjovski joining the club this season, and the recent signings of Daniel McBreen and Steve McGarry, Glory have a line-up that Coyne believes should be able to advance deep into the finals. “I’ve made it quite clear that we’ve underachieved this year with the squad we’ve got,” Coyne said. “We’ve just come together at the right time and I think it took us the first few games to get together because there were so many new players. But in the last month or so I think we’ve been outstanding and I think the results are starting to show that.”
Travelling from Perth to New Zealand may be the longest trip in the A-League but that doesn’t bother Coyne, who has been pleased with the Glory’s good form that closed out the regular season and earned them club fifth on the final standings. “We’re such a big club, being on the other side of the world to the rest of the league. We’re pleased with where we are but we’ve achieved nothing yet,” he said. “We set high standards and getting into the finals isn’t enough - we want to win it and go all the way. We’ve got a professional bunch of guys that are good players and we’ll just go and approach it as we would any other game. We’re confident that we can beat anyone.”
BAYSWATER MAKES IT TWO FROM TWO
Bayswater City emerged as the only Division One team to register back-to-back Night Series wins with a thrilling 3-2 triumph over Morley Windmills at Hartfield Park on Sunday. Cesar Gonzalez gave Bayswater a dream start when he netted after 3 minutes but they'd have to wait until early in the second half for substitute Joshua Tumoe to double their lead. Kris Spaceski pulled one back on 78 minutes with Mohammed Komaderic bringing the sides level soon after. The game was in stoppage time when Kailo Karpeh grabbed Bayswater the points. Gosnells City and Fremantle Spirit played out a 0-0 draw on the adjacent pitch.
Ashfield opened their Night Series account on Friday by thrashing Canning City 5-0. Noong Naranphunt and Jake Cornel scored inside the half hour with Mitch Castilli bagging a double in the minutes before the break. Canning's comeback plans were snuffed out with the 61st minute sending off of youngster Pravin Guanasagaran. Jon Greenwood then rubbed salt into the wound by bagging Ashfield's fifth two minutes later. Queens Park collected their first point of the tournament by holding Forrestfield United to a 2-2 draw. Matt Ullbricht put Queens Park ahead in the first half but that was negated by Jamie Burns' double around the hour mark. The 62nd minute red carding of Forrestfield defender Martin Barnes opened the door for Ullbricht to snatch a last minute share of the points.
Wanneroo City claimed a 4-2 victory over Rockingham City in Saturday's second round of Night Series games. Brian Cairney scored at either end of the first half, and sandwiched in between those was Tom Downes 22nd minute goal for Rockingham. Wanneroo put their foot on the pedal after the break as Rowdy Yates and Nathan Diaz netted within nine minutes of each other to make the game safe. Blake Greathead came off the bench to score Rockingham a 75th minute consolation. A youthful South West Phoenix accounted for Dianella White Eagles 2-0. Phoenix went ahead after 18 minutes when David Mayers converted in a one-on-one situation with Kieran Quinn's long-range strike producing a second goal shortly before half-time.
BOLD BID TO KEEP MCBREEN AT GLORY
Perth Glory are hopeful of re-signing on loan striker Daniel McBreen for season 2010/11. McBreen, scorer of five goals in seven games, is contracted to play the next two seasons with Central Coast Mariners. However, the 32-year old striker is believed to be keen to stay on in the west and, following last week's switch of coach at the Mariners, McBreen want to know how he figures in Graham Arnold's plans. "He wasn't recruited by Graham Arnold and no one told him about that and he's quite upset about that,'' Glory owner Tony Sage said. A permanent move west would require the blessing of Central Coast and appears a long-shot given McBreen's stunning form. Should Glory not manage to steal McBreen away from the Mariners, they are likely to move for Brisbane Roar striker Sergio Van Dijk.
FIXTURE DRAW COST US HOME FINAL: MITCHELL
Perth Glory coach David Mitchell cannot shake the feeling that his side would have been playing a home semi-final this weekend had they not been dealt the rough end of the fixture pineapple. As delighted as Glory are with their fifth-placed finish to the regular season, Mitchell is adamant his side could have climbed above Wellington Phoenix had they not been forced to play more away than home games for the second successive season. Mitchell raised the issue at the start of the season, highlighting that while Glory would again play the majority of their matches away from home the likes of Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United had been given more home games than away for two seasons running. "If we'd had one more home game we would've probably finished fourth and got the home final," Mitchell said today. "I still can't understand how we had to play more away games again this season, especially when we've got more travel than any other club to start with." Glory, who have lost just once at home this season but have won only three times in 14 matches on the road, will play Wellington at Westpac Stadium on Sunday.
KNIGHTS ANNIHILATE GULLS (by Michael Bate, Football West)
Western Knights cruised to a 5-1 victory over Sorrento in this evening's final Night Series qualifying game at Clipsal Stadium. First half strikes by David Micevski and Stuart Montgomery put the Knights on their way to victory. Simon Versaico added to the tally before Todd Harnwell pulled one back midway through the second half. The Gulls chances of a dramatic comeback were extinguished by the dismissal of defender Danny Cain, after which Daniel Micevski and Paul Van Dongen put the result beyond doubt.
David Micevski opened the scoring in the 12th minute with a stunning drive from 27-metres to cap a fine move he'd started in his own half with a sublime piece of skill to keep the ball away from two opponents. Montgomery doubled the Knights' lead just seven minutes later when the Gulls failed to deal with Daniel Trim's cross from the left, allowing the veteran striker to slide the ball clinically past Tom Woodhouse. But for Woodhouse, the Knights would have been four or five goals ahead by half-time with Van Dongen and Daniel Micevski drawing a series fine saves from the Sorrento 'keeper.
It took just three minutes after the restart for the Knights to increase their lead, Versaico rising highest to head in David Micevski's corner. Harnwell showed great predatory instinct to pounce when substitute goalkeeper Grant Heard could only palm away Billy Quinncroft's snap shot, leaving the Gulls' captain to tap-in. Cain received his marching orders for a second yellow card in the 72nd minute after clashing with former team mate Montgomery, who was also booked. Glen Thomas nearly scored with an audacious chip from just inside the Knights half after spotting Heard off his line, but the 'keeper managed to scramble back and tip it over the bar. Daniel Micevski tapped in after another flowing move in the 86th minute, before Van Dongen put the icing on the cake when he headed in Francis Odong's cross at the back post only seconds before the final whistle.
BALCATTA BATTER INGLEWOOD (by Michael Bate, Football West)
Newly promoted Balcatta showed no mercy in demolishing Inglewood United 4-1 in this evenings Night Series game at Clipsal Stadium. Young wingback Nicholas Tatasciore scored a double for the visitors either side of goals by strike partners Lucas Whitehouse and Ashley Rosindale, while Albert Osei-Tutu got on the scoresheet for the host club. Although they didn't play as badly as the three-goal margin suggests, Inglewood rarely threatened the opposition goal when they entered the final third. Balcatta, on the other hand, will be riding high for next weekend's quarter-finals having topped Group C with two wins and a draw against three pf the Premier League established clubs.
Balcatta hit the ground running, Tatasciore making no mistake in the 3rd minute after goalkeeper Oliver Taseski dropped a Rosindale free-kick at his feet. Inglewood were level terms seven minutes later when Osei-Tutu rounded David Khuen and side-footed in after beating the offside trap. Alex Stamatiadis rattled Khuen's crossbar with a thunderous 26-metre strike in the 20th minute, but that would as close as the home side came to scoring a second. Whitehouse restored Balcatta's lead in the 27th minute when he headed in at a Rosindale's corner. Six minutes later Rosindale went from provider to scorer by sliding the ball past Taseski to cap a wonderful Balcatta move. Stamatiadis should have done better with a chance late in the half but rushed his volley over the bar.
Whitehouse hit the crossbar with a diving header just three minutes after the restart when found unmarked inside the area by an Andy O'Neill free-kick. Another O'Neill set-piece almost produced Balcatta a fourth goal with a deflection off Osei-Tutu going past Taseski and over the bar. But the resulting corner was tapped in by Tatasciore following some poor defending by the home team. Osei-Tutu could have made amends just seconds later when he found himself one-on-one with Khuen but this time the Balcatta 'keeper was up to the task. The closing stages were largely without incident, leaving Balcatta to anticipate the quarter-finals while Inglewood will return to the training ground, hoping to turn things around before the start of the season proper.
MITCHELL ADOPTS "WAIT AND SEE" POLICY
Perth Glory will enter next Sunday's sudden-death A-League semi-final against Wellington Phoenix with question marks surrounding the fitness of a host of key players. Marquee man Mile Sterjovski (back), team captain Jacob Burns (hamstring), Dutch import Victor Sikora (hip) and veteran defender Chris Coyne (thigh) all missed Saturday win over Brisbane through injury. Out of that quartet, Glory coach David Mitchell said only Coyne was a definite starter against the Phoenix, while Dutchman Sikora won't be considered and will be lucky to play again this season.
Burns will attempt to resume full training on Monday after missing the club's last three games, however, he may be overlooked with Mitchell reluctant to select too many at-risk players for a do-or-die final. "There's a chance for them to be playing but I don't want to put them out there if they're not fit because the boys who have come in have done very well for the team," Mitchell said. "It will be sad to put a player in who's got a name and a reputation but if he's not fit and he gets injured again then you're down a man and you have to make a substitution. You might chance it with one player but certainly not two or three … we'll wait to see Monday, Tuesday to see how things pan out."
GLORY YOUTH GOES TOP
Perth Glory Youth moved to the top of the National Youth League ladder with this morning’s 2-1 defeat of Brisbane Roar at Clipsal Stadium. Substitute Andrija Jukic scored the opening goal midway through the first half with a Branko Jelic wonder strike producing the hosts second. Tim Smits pulled one back with nine minutes but Glory Youth held on to claim the three points. “I would say it means a lot to the players,” coach Gareth Naven said after the win. “For me it’s good to see them get rewarded with the effort and amount of training they have done this season but obviously the focus is to prepare players for the Hyundai A-League. They’d be happy today the group, especially given the conditions were quite warm and we kept our intensity for long periods which is good.”
Glory Youth were forced to make an early change with Cameron Edwards suffering a leg injury to be replaced by Jukic. The hosts dominated from the outset, though, with Jelic creating the first good chance on goal which he sent just wide. Brent Griffiths headed against the upright with the ball somehow bouncing straight to goalkeeper Matthew Acton, who soon after kept out a Josh Risdon attempt. Jukic capitalised on Glory Youth’s dominance by confidently stroking past Acton after being afforded space inside the 18-yard box just before the half hour. The heat and humidity had a noticeably effect on both teams after the turnaround. The result was put beyond doubt in the 79th minute when Jelic delightfully struck a free-kick from just outside the box to the left of Acton. Two minutes later Smits rolled the ball into the net following a good move that carved open the home defence.
GLORY ON A HIGH HEADING INTO FINALS
Scott Neville’s first A-League goal and Scott Bulloch’s second of the season were enough for Perth Glory to see off Brisbane Roar 2-0 at ME Bank Stadium. Glory, who were confirmed to finish fifth regardless of this afternoon’s result, may already have had one eye on next weekend’s semi-final with Wellington Phoenix and Neville’s 9th minute goal was just the tonic to bring the focus back to the job at hand. Bulloch, who added the side’s second after 73 minutes, said there had been plenty to play for against Brisbane with positions up for grabs for the trip to Wellington. “Our finals campaign started today,” Bulloch said. “Obviously going in with a win we’ll get a lot of confidence going into the Wellington game. We know travelling over there is going to be tough but every time we’ve been over there we’ve competed well.”
Wellington’s win over Central Coast Mariners on Friday made this game a non-event, leading Glory coach David Mitchell to rest defender Chris Coyne and recall Adrian Pelligrino and Jamie Harnwell to the first eleven. Glory’s positive start was rewarded early, Todd Howarth’s cross from the right was mis-judged by visiting goalkeeper Matt Ham with the ball falling for Neville who had the simple task of slotting into an empty net after 9 minutes. Brisbane forced three successive corners midway through the half before fashioning their first genuine in the 20th minute, Michael Zullo’s long throw was flicked on to Sergio Van Dijk whose shot was deflected wide. The only other real chance of a lacklustre half had Adam Sarota shoot into the side netting from on top of the 18-yard box.
Brisbane made a brightly start to the second half but Van Dijk’s free-kick drifted wide of the far post. Glory countered through Tando Velaphi’s long clearance that Daniel McBreen flicked on to Jamie Harnwell, whose lob of Ham landed on the top of the net. Danny McBreen had the ball in the net after 56 minutes but home celebrations were cut short by an offside flag. Brisbane were enjoying plenty of possession and on the hour Sarota blazed disappointingly wide. Thirteen minutes later Tommy Amphlett’s cross from the right was flicked on by Neville to Bulloch, who fired across the ‘keeper and inside the far post to double Glory’s lead. There were chances at both ends as the game opened up. Velaphi made a superb save to deny substitute Mitch Nichols, while going the other way Wayne Srhoj’s audacious lob clipped the outside of the post with Ham caught out of position.
LEEDS THROW SUPPORT BEHIND LOWRY
Leeds United have backed left back Shane Lowry to pass a test of character after his nightmare experience at Carlisle United in mid-week. Lowry, 20, was attacked from behind during a pitch invasion by the Cumbrian’s fans after his spot-kick was saved in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy semi-final shoot-out loss to Carlisle. “Shane is a tough Aussie. Obviously he was upset after the game, as we all were because we wanted to get to the final. We lost on penalties but you move on from things like that and he’ll be okay,” said Leeds’ assistant manager Ian Miller. “What happened after the game was unfortunate. We have made a complaint to the Football Association because the safety of players is paramount.” Leeds complaint includes allegations that three of their players were attacked and goalkeeper Casper Ankergren was pelted by missiles thrown from the crowd.
FLOREAT FINDING TOP GEAR (by Tim Lefort, Football West)
Floreat Athena claimed top spot in Night Series Group B with a convincing 3-1 victory over Mandurah City last night at Litis Stadium. The result never looked in doubt from the moment James Isaia gave Floreat a first minute lead, to which John Migas and Johnny Mirco added in the second half. "Definitely can't complain about three wins out of three but a bit disappointed not to keep a clean sheet at the end," said Floreat coach Michael Roki, who was pleased with his team defensive record. "We've had a couple of defenders come back into the squad who were missing a bit through injury and commitments last year. The defence certainly looks a lot stronger and it doesn't seem to matter which ones we switch around, they all slot in pretty comfortably and are mobile and adaptable so it's a good defence, we're going to be hard to break down."
It was a dream start by the home side with Isaia firing his free-kick from the edge of the 18-yard box into the bottom left corner with just 30 seconds on the clock. Floreat continued to attack and Migas was just off-target, before Adam Bachiller dinked the ball over goalkeeper Phil Straker only to see his effort cleared off the line. Daniel Niederberger wasted a great chance to put his side two-up when Straker moved smartly to save his 17th minute penalty. It took until the 33rd minute for Mandurah to create their first effort on goal but, after pouncing on loose ball inside the area, Luke Bower's close-range effort was deflected behind for a corner. Bower was involved again six minutes later, his clever flick-on sending Rafael Insurralde through but 'keeper Alex Dunn was quickly out to save at the striker's feet.
Floreat started the second period as they had the first, Migas' effort from point-blank range superbly blocked by Straker. Mandurah responded through captain Andy Brown whose sweetly struck volley from the edge of the box went narrowly high. Mirco volleyed just beyond the far post when he had more time than he may have thought. Floreat's second goal arrived in the 71st minute when Migas pounced on a loose ball inside the area, turned his marker and blasted past Straker from 7-metres. Migas could have had his second soon after but screwed wide from 10-metres. The margin blew out to three-goals in the 78th minute when Straker failed to hold onto an in-swinging corner and Mirco was on hand with a close-range tap-in. To their credit, the Dolphins kept pushing and in the closing stages substitute Michael Bobridge grabbed a consolation by firing in from 9-metres.
JOONDALUP COME UP WITH THE GOODS (by Tim Lefort, Football West)
ECU Joondalup booked their place in the Night Series quarter-finals with an entertaining 4-2 win over Armadale in last night's late game at Litis Stadium. Happy with the result, Joondalup boss Syd Amphlett praised his team for the progress they've made so far in the pre-season. "The side has improved, the quality of the squad, and I think we've played well tonight. I think we controlled it and probably could have scored more than four," he said before acknowledging his teams defensive frailities. "We've just got to work on that a bit, we've got four new players in there so they've just got to gel together. We're still making some mistakes but we've just got to cut them out and work on it in training."
The first shot in anger came from Joondalup's Chris Wylie but his long-range strike flew over the target. Team-mate Charlie Comyn-Platt went closer minutes later, forcing goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock to tip over the crossbar. Opposite number Andy Banks came to his side's rescue, blocking Warren Grieve's effort after the striker had pounced on a mistake by Dale McCulloch. At the other end, Garin Collins finished a good run with a disappointing shot, while Armadale captain Andy Brown headed a corner straight at Banks. Chances continued to flow and John Thornley should have put Joondalup ahead on 24 minutes when presented with a free header that he sent wide from Wylie's deep cross.
Joondalup's wait for a goal was answered by Jon Higgins, who cleverly dinked the ball over an advancing 'keeper after neat lead-up work by Michael Currie and Jamie Watt. Garrin St Vall celebrated his Armadale debut by firing in the equaliser from 9-metres after Joondalup failed to clear a corner and Daniel Paredes knocked the ball back into the danger zone. However, Joondalup regained the lead just 60 seconds later when another deep cross from the left by Wylie was lashed in off the post from an acute angle by Watt. It became three-one on the stroke of half-time, Higgins pushing inside the area before squaring for Thornley to hit a low shot into the bottom corner.
Armadale were right back in the contest four minutes after the break when Banks misjudged a long free-kick and Rory Mouttet found the net from close-range. But, as with their first goal, the Reds were caught napping just a minute later, Thornley turning on the edge of the area to superbly drill into the top corner with the outside of his boot. Again, Armadale refused to give up and twice in five minutes Steve McDonald went close with headers, the first of which drew a fine save from Banks. Both sides made a string of changes in the closing stages and in the 82nd minute Higgins should have had his teams fifth but fired high from 8-metres.
COCKERELS CRUISE INTO LAST EIGHT
Cockburn City rarely looked troubled as they cast aside Swan United 3-1 this evening at Dorrien Gardens to qualify for the knock-out phase of the 2010 Night Series. Paul Natale, Joe Brunetto and Anthony Perriera each stuck second half goal to earn the Cockerels a deserved victory before young gun Liam Boland grabbed Swan a last consolation. “We were a bit lucky with the first goal but we had dominated the first half and to score the penalty gave us plenty of confidence …w e went on to win quite comfortably,” said Cockburn coach Scott Miller. “We are getting fitter and that’s pleasing. When we beat Perth SC in round one it made Normo (Graham Normanton) angry and Swan copped it last week. We knew they (Perth) would make it hard for us tonight and they did, now we have to continue with our improvement in the quarter finals.”
Cockburn came out firing with Brunetto flashing wide of the target after 4 minutes, then Adrian Webster’s long-range was well saved by goalkeeper Daniel Agudelo. The black and whites fashioned an opening of their own in the 9th minute, Darko Ilomanoski heading wide from an in-swinging Brendan Craig corner. But the respite was brief as Cockburn began to turn the screws. Jason Dos Santos blazed high from a poorly defended corner, and two minutes later the midfielder rifled into the side netting after getting on the end of a fine Natale pass. Josh Findlater’s cross from the left was met by Jason Dos Santos but his shot was saved by Agudelo, who was alert to keep out Aaron Dos Santos’ low strike. Swan should have gone into the break with the lead but Brendan Knox’s free header was brilliantly saved Dejan Aleksic, and James Sammut’s whose long-range shot was narrowly high.
There were chances at both ends of the park at the start of the second half, the best of these being Jason Dos Santos’ vicious shot that Agudelo parried and Ilomanoski cleared the loose ball. Cockburn got the all-important breakthrough after 72 minutes, Natale converting from the penalty spot following David McNally’s foul on Perriera. The margin was doubled eight minutes later when Perriera and Jason Dos Santos combined to find Brunetto who made no mistake beating Agudelo. A close-range Jake Harman header was acrobatically blocked by Aleksic with substitute Jon Davite heading the rebound off the line as Swan searched desperately for a goal. The game was bed a minutes later, Perriera lobbing Agudelo from the edge of the 18-yard box to complement a quick break orchestrated by Natale. Stoppage time was a couple of minutes old when Knox ran the ball into attack before putting it with Boland, who steered his shot beyond Aleksic from 7-metres.
SHARLAND DOUBLE SINKS STIRLING
Perth SC moved into the last eight of the Night Series with a hard-fought 2-0 win against Stirling Lions in last night’s late game at Dorrien Gardens. Two first half goals from Greg Sharland, his second a stunning free-kick from 18-metres, got Perth over the line against a strong finishing Stirling outfit. “We had to battle it out tonight, like I knew we would, so it was good to see we could tough it out as well,” said Perth coach Graham Normanton, clearly delighted with his team’s performance. “We played some good football in trying circumstances. They moved the big lad up front in the second half and I thought we defended well. We got the win that we were after, and a couple of good goals from Greg (Sharland) won it for us.”
It was Perth that made the early running and with 8 minutes on the clock they got their just deserts, Sharland firing low past goalkeeper James Turvill from the edge of the 18-yard box following a Robert Sciascia corner. An immediate reply was what Stirling wanted but penalty appeals after Ndumba Makeche went down under a Trent Kay challenge were dismissed, then in quick succession Jordan Rhodes’ long-range effort was saved by Jason Saldaris and Tom Ingram flashed just wide. Perth looked particularly threatening at dead ball situations and on 23 minutes Sharland fired just past the post with a free-kick at distance. As the first half came to a close Perth began to assert the greater influence and in the 43rd minute Sharland unleashed a ripper free-kick which curled past the defensive wall and snuck inside the top left corner to double the hosts lead.
Perth captain Robbie Puca came off the bench at the start of the second half but three minutes later the Blues suffered a blow with influential defender Kay exiting the action with an ankle injury. The second half was only minutes old when Stirling assistant coach Gary Williams was sent to the stands by referee Ton Klaver for his appeals over a rash challenge that was allowed to go unpunished. This had a galvanising effect on the visiting team and five minutes later Irish import Shane Robinson fired just wide on the end of a determined run. Rhodes free-kick played a free-kick deep into the 18-yard box on the hour where Saldaris was at full stretch to tip the shot over his crossbar. On 68 minutes Sharland curled a free-kick beyond Turvill but into the bar, Sciascia retrieved possession for Perth and whipped in a cross which Ian McMurray flicked narrowly wide.
As the game entered the final twenty minutes Stirling began to get the better of what had been a relatively even tussle. Robinson played a terrific cross field pass to Matthew Stares, who cut inside Nathan Rawes but had Saldaris save his shot from the edge of the area. The Perth custodian had his reflexes tested by Daniel Stoitis’ close-range shot, and on 79 minutes McMurray was back to clear the danger when a Rhodes’ corner caused confusion in the home defence. Stirling were throwing everything they had at their opponents, who defended staunchly to maintain their two-goal buffer. On 83 minutes Rhodes played clear Stares clear but the midfielders low shot was superbly saved by Saldaris. Having used their three allotted substitutes, Perth finished with ten players after a hamstring injury forced Matt Danskin out of the game early.
IT’S ALL UP FOR GRABS IN THE NIGHT SERIES
The finals field for the Bam Creative Night Series is wide open with just one of eight play-off spots filled heading into the last weekend of qualifying games. It's very much a winner-takes-all situation in Group A where all four teams are locked together on three points. Cockburn City should prove too strong for Swan United (6.30pm) in the early game at Dorrien Gardens, while Perth SC are expected to see off Stirling Lions (8.30pm) later in the evening.
Also being played tonight - but at Litis Stadium - are the final Group B games. Floreat Athena may be through to the last eight but it's unlikely they'll ease off the pace against Mandurah City (6.30pm), who require only a draw also progress. The late fixture is the make-or-break meeting of Armadale and ECU Joondalup (8.30pm) where both teams need to win big to have any chance of being one of the two best third-place teams.
The last few quarter-final places will be decided on Sunday at Clipsal Stadium. The winner of Sorrento and Western Knights will secure a last eight appearance with the loser likely to go through as a 'third-place' team. Balcatta need only draw with Inglewood United (7.30pm) to achieve their goal of a spot in the Night Series play-offs. Entry to the 2010 Night Series is $8 for adults, $4 for concession holders with children under the age of 15 admitted free.
The second round of the Division One Night Series takes place with another chock-a-block weekend of double-headers at Hartfield Park in Forrestfield. There'll be a fair number of new faces in the Ashfield line-up that steps out for the first time this year against a similarly revitalised Canning City. And on the adjacent pitch Forrestfield United should have little trouble getting the better of Queens Park, who look to be in for another difficult year. Both games kick-off at 8.00pm.
Wanneroo City is expected to tally up a good number of goals when they face Rockingham City on Saturday (8.00pm), however, it'll be a much tighter affair when South West Phoenix meet Dianella White Eagles. The round concludes on Sunday with last week's high scorers, Gosnells City, up against the youthful enthusiasm of Fremantle Spirit (7.00pm). Bayswater City goes shooting for back-to-back wins when they face near neighbours Morley Windmills. Entry to the 2010 Division One Night Series is $6 for adults and $4 concession, with under-15's free.
VELAPHI READY FOR ACTION
Tando Velaphi has declared himself ready to re-claim his place between the sticks when Perth Glory faces Brisbane Roar on Saturday afternoon at ME Bank Stadium. After missing the last two games with a quadriceps injury, the young goalkeeper is desperate to play ahead of the finals. “I had a good hit-out today and the day before, so I’m available for selection and now it’s up to the coach,” 22-year old Velaphi, who has been promoted to the match day squad along with Mile Sterjovski, Jacob Burns and Adriano Pellegrino.
Glory remain an outside chance of sneaking into fourth and securing a home final heading into the final round of regular season fixtures. But for that to happen the boys from the west need Wellington Phoenix go down to Central Coast Mariners tonight, then claim victory over Roar tomorrow. “We’ll just concentrate on ourselves. You can’t control what other teams do, so as long as we win, we’ll be in the best shape possible for the finals,” said Velaphi. “I think the last five weeks we’ve been playing pretty well and we’ll go into the games with a lot of confidence and hopefully get to the grand final because that is our aim.”
GLORY YOUTH WANTS TOP SPOT
Perth Glory Youth are gearing up for a massive clash against Brisbane Roar at Clipsal Stadium on Sunday morning (10.00am). The Glory youngsters are determined to make the most of home ground advantage by claiming all three points, and hopefully climb back on top of the National Youth League table. "It's going to be a tough game but we need to win and get ourselves as high up on the ladder as we can," said goalkeeper Alex Pearson. "It's all pretty tight at the moment and there aren't many games left so we've got to try and create that gap between the top few teams and secure first spot."
Pearson feels he's benefited greatly from training and travelling with the senior squad during the past few weeks. "It's been great this year being mixed in with the first team and getting a few chances to sit on the bench with them as the reserve goalkeeper," said Pearson, who was promoted after injury sidelined Tando Velaphi. "All those experiences have been really positive and have helped me to progress and develop as a young player. I've been training with the first team for a while and they've definitely got that edge in professionalism and quality. It is a bit of a step up once you get into that environment and you've got to do your best to try and fit in."
ROKI STEPS DOWN AT FLOREAT
Floreat Athena's longest serving coach, Michael Roki, will step down from the helm at the end of the Night Series. Roki cited increasing work and study commitments as the main reasons for his decision, which he says is an interim measure. "Last night I advised the club and the players that I will soon be stepping down as coach due to my increasing work commitments. I will see out the Night Series with Floreat after which I will pass on the reins," said Roki. "At the moment I'll be taking an indefinite break for football, but I hope to re-evaluate my commitments in twelve months or so."
Club president Con Poulios said Roki's departure was the end of an era for Floreat. "It is not an easy decision to accept when such a much loved club stalwart and hard working man of football says it is time for me to step aside," said Poulios. "It's a fact of life at Floreat Athena that Michael Roki is part of the sheer fabric of our club. He has always put the best interests of the club first and foremost in all his dealings and he undoubtedly is a highly regarded member of the WA football family, and especially the Athena family."
Roki experienced many highs and lows during his 230-plus games as Floreat coach. Appointed initially in mid-1999, he guided the club to that seasons' Cup Final where Floreat succumbed to Inglewood United by a solitary goal. Floreat avenged that loss the following April by thrashing Inglewood 6-0 in the Night Series final, however, the season ended disappointing with the club in ninth and Roki released. The presidential appointment of Peter Koulizos in 2004 led to Roki's return as the club embarked on a rebuilding phase which would pay major dividends.
Floreat re-established their place at the top of the State League hierarchy over the next six years. Roki's ability to get the best out of players was never more evident than in 2007 when Floreat's attacking, free-flowing game led to an unbeaten league campaign and their first Premier League title in a decade. Two heart-breaking Night Series final losses to Perth SC amid five consecutive top five league placings only increased Floreat's desire for further success. Their rewarded came towards the end of 2009 when Roki's men dominated Inglewood to return their coach his first Cup trophy.
SCIASCIA SHINES BRIGHT FOR PERTH
A starring role in Perth SC’s seven-goal demolition of Swan United has set the scene for exciting midfielder Robert Sciascia to make a lasting impression on the top flight this season. The 21-year old’s attacking drive from wide on the right was instrumental in Perth registering their first win of the Night Series, a result Sciascia capped with a sublime solo goal. “Saturday night was indeed a great performance on Perth SC’s behalf and I believe the boys and the whole club were very pleased with the result,” said Sciascia. “I was feeling a bit more run down than last week (against Cockburn City) and I did notice a bit more of a struggle in my fitness, but the right concentration helped me a lot during the Swan game.”
Fresh from a lengthy spell in in Italy, Sciascia has quickly eased himself back into life at Dorrien Gardens. “Settling in the with the boys has been a breeze. That’s partly because I’ve known most of them for years but mostly because they are such a good bunch, not only to train and play with on match day but also off the field,” said Sciascia, who represented the State at junior level for Perth. “There is a great bond between all players and I think that’s really important. Also, Graham Normanton and John Coyne and the rest of the staff have always made things easy for me at this club and that goes a long way.”
There is no doubt in Sciascia’s mind that the two years he spent in Italy has improved his game. “The move to Italy was great for my football development and it helped me get some extra experience in the football world while I was still growing,” said Sciascia, who played for US Caravaggio and AC Crema 1908. “Matches over there were literally a battle and really even between teams, so a win was an awesome feeling and relief and you could see it in everybody’s face back in the changing room. I meet some great people over there, a lot of them had incredible talent and some of my closest friends I made in those teams are now playing at a Serie D level and looking to move up.”
Having sampled the life of a professional footballer in Europe, Sciascia came to the realisation it wasn;t what he wanted. “I’ve always dreamed of being in the football world and living the footballers life, however, growing up you realise this is harder than it seems and it takes great dedication and patience and sacrifice,” he commented. “As of now, I’ve decided to stop thinking about this and just keep going with my life. Football is and will always be part of my life and I try to think of it as I did when I was a kid, that is, keeping in touch with friends, having fun and keeping fit.”
London-born Sciascia moved to Perth at the age of two and played juniors with Melville and Lynwood Saints. But it was after joining Perth in 2003 that things started to take off for the talented midfielder, who has the utmost of respect for first team coach Graham Normanton. “I have been through other coaches in my years and I have even been through coaching in Italy, and I must admit that Graham manages to bring out the best in me. And I wouldn’t be surprised if this applied to many of the players in our team,” said Sciascia. “He manages to teach you something new every training session. He also inspires and motivates the team, you can see by Saturdays game how important that field of work is in coaching.”
Sciascia’s relentless terrorising of the Swan defence paid off midway through the second half when he drifted in from the left flank to deftly chip goalkeeper Hugo from 16-metres, scoring Perth’s sixth goal. And although he limped out of the game not too long after, the flying wingback says he’ll be ready to help Perth progress to the Night Series quarter-finals when they take on Stirling Lions tomorrow evening. “I got a slight injury towards the end to my right ankle but managed to hobble back on and finish the game as we had no subs left,” Sciascia said. “All is well however and fingers crossed I will be ready for Friday’s game.”
MEDICATION PUTS YOUNG IN HOSPITAL
Goalkeeper Neil Young faces an uphill battle to be available for Newcastle Jets' A-League finals campaign. Young has been in and out of hospital since late last week when he suffered an adverse reaction to antibiotics he has been taking after surgery to repair a badly broken nose. "I'm still hoping to get back for the finals series ... I was hoping to be back in training for the end of last week, or even this week would have been nice," Young told the 'Newcastle Herald'. "But it's not looking too good now. I'd like to be at the game on Friday [as a spectator], but if not then as soon as I get out I'll be straight to the gym and back into training, as much as I'm allowed to."
Young, who only last week signed a new one-year deal with Newcastle, readily admits his frustration at being sidelined at the business end of the season. "I hate watching football, to be honest with you - it bugs me," said Young, who has made nine times since making his A-League debut in November. He was making a steady recovery from facial surgery - the result of a collision with Gold Coast United striker Shane Smeltz in mid-January - only to experience a delayed reaction to the post-surgery medication, which had affected his digestive system. Young spent last Thursday and Friday in hospital, was released, but returned on Sunday.
REDS SIGHTS ARE SET ON FINALS DEBUT
New signing Steve McDonald believes Armadale will have what it takes to seriously compete with the big boys when the new home and away series begins late next month. McDonald, one of several new faces at Alfred Skeet Oval, is looking forward to the challenges offered by his move to Armadale. “We are defiantly building a strong squad and I’m really looking forward for the season to start,” he said. “We have set ourselves a goal of where we want to be at the end of the season and we will do everything we can to make sure that we will be part of the top five finals at season’s end.”
The opportunity to be reunited with Brad Hassell, now coach of Armadale, was simply one that was too good for McDonald to turn down. “Brad was definitely a big part in my move. I had the pleasure of playing along side Brad in 2005 at Sorrento and knowing how he played and how he likes his team to play, that went a long way on me making me decision,” said McDonald, who is joined by a number of other former Gulls. “It will be great for the club to have players of the quality Michael Ord, Lewis Flatt and Cyril Sharrock joining ‘The Army’ … It just shows how much Brad wants the club to progress in the right direction.”
Hassell was delighted when McDonald agreed to sign on with Armadale for 2010. “We were looking to strengthen the squad and so we tried to target players with experience, Steve had been at Sorrento a long time and I thought he may be looking for a new challenge,” explained Hassell. “He’s got good feet for a big man and will obviously add some height to our backline. But the qualities I like in him are that he hates losing, and he’s a good talker and motivator which is something Armadale has lacked in recent seasons. Macca is a key signing for this club and will help to attract other big name players here.”
McDonald enjoyed a lot of success and made a lot of friends in his seven seasons with Sorrento, which made leaving for Armadale all the more difficult. “It was a big decision for me, especially with me being at Percy Doyle Reserve for so many years, but I felt I needed a change,” said McDonald, whose time with the Gulls was punctuated by time at Motherwell (Scotland) and Sengkang Punggol (Singapore). “It was nothing against Sorrento as a club or anyone at the club, I have some of my most memorable moments of my career at ‘Windy Hill’, and I still have a number of friends there too.”
While winning the 2008 Premier League rates as a definite highlight for McDonald, the versatile big man considers the winter of 2005 as hie best. “It’s hard to pick just one trophy at my time at the Gulls because every trophy I’ve ever won was special to me,” he said. “But if I had to pick one it would when I won Player of The Year in 2005. I missed seven games that season through injury so to win the Player of the Year, Top Goal Scorer and Best Goal was amazing. It really meant a lot to me and showed how good a season I had, it would be nice to repeat it next year for the Reds.”
FIVE WEST AUSSIES IN MATILDAS SQUAD
The healthy state of women’s football in Western Australian has been underscored with five players gaining selection in the Australian squad for this month’s two-game Trans Tasman series with New Zealand. Matilda’s veteran’s Lisa De Vanna, Collette McCallum and Kate Gill, 16-year old rising star Sam Kerr and Katanning-born goalkeeper Lydia Williams were today named in coach Tom Sermanni’s twenty-player squad to play New Zealand in Auckland on 17 and 20 February.
Sermanni is confident his squad is developing on track in what is essentially a World Cup qualification year. “The squad that will travel to New Zealand has a great depth of talent,” said Sermanni. “Since 2008 we have been in a rebuilding phase for the Westfield Matildas following the retirement of some key players. We’ve got a great mix of experience and youth in this group of players and this blend is sure to serve us well as we continue our progress towards a fifth successive World Cup appearance.”
The Australian Women’s squad for the two-game series with New Zealand is Tameka Butt, Kim Carroll, Lauren Colthorpe, Elise Kellond-Knight, Aivi Luik, Clare Polkinghorne (Brisbane Roar), Sally Shipard, Thea Slatyer, Lydia Williams (Canberra United), Melissa Barbieri (Melbourne Victory), Lisa De Vanna, Kate Gill , Sam Kerr, Collette McCallum (Perth Glory), Heather Garriock, Leena Khamis, Kylie Ledbrook, Kyah Simon, Servet Uzunlar and Sarah Walsh (Sydney FC).
CACERES’ BAGS ARE PACKED FOR ARGENTINA
Adrian Caceres should line-up for Wellington Phoenix tomorrow against Central Coast Mariners, however, there is no guarantee the attacker will available for his club's first A-League finals game the following week. Caceres' mobile phone is always on hand with his wife, Romina, due to give birth to the couple's first child in Argentina at the end of the month. "I'm very much looking forward to it, I'm waiting on the phone call any minute now and as soon as I get it, I'm jetting off," 28-year old Caceres told the 'Dominion Post'. "As many people tell me, it could come any time. I talk to [Romina] every day and I tell her 'Any little pain, let me know and I'll be there'."
Caceres has been in good form on the left flank and, should he turn out against the Mariners, will make his 100th appearance in the A-League. "I've been in good form but obviously the game [1-0 win against Gold Coast on Sunday] was a tough one, and on a personal note probably not my best game, but hopefully I can still be in the starting lineup," said Caceres, who has also played for Perth GLory, Melbourne Victory and the Mariners. "It would be great on a personal note to notch 100 games but for the club, it's more important to get a home semi-final. Hopefully we can get the win and bring it home."
Caceres is hoping his dynamic performance in the 2-0 win at Central Coast on New Year's Eve holds some sway with coach Ricki Herbert. "I know I can perform against them. I know the way they play and I've got that little edge, but Ricki has got to make that decision," he said. Caceres signed with the Phoenix for this season only. His agent is in discussions with the club to extend the contract, though there is interest from other A-League sides. "That's always helpful and it shows you're doing all right on the park, but my job is to be professional and keep doing my job on the field," he added.
GLORY WON’T RUSH INTO RE-SIGNING PLAYERS
Perth Glory will not be rushed into signing out-of-contract players to new deals despite the anticipation of increased competition in the player market with impending addition of Melbourne Heart to the A-League. Discussions have already been held with English import Andy Todd, veteran Jamie Harnwell, former captain Jamie Coyne and midfielders Wayne Srhoj and Todd Howarth, but deputy chairman Lui Giuliani said the club would not be making hasty decisions. "It's a deliberate go-slow process so that we make sure we have the right squad for next year," Giuliani told the 'West Australian' newspaper. "We are not rushing into anything. We appreciate we've got to improve again next year so we are keen to make sure we go through very detailed processes before we enter into agreement with anybody. We've also got to make sure we maximise the value in the squad as much as possible." Giuliani added Glory were considering increasing their import quota to five players for next season following increased levels of interest from overseas players.
INJURY GETS THE BETTER OF COYNE
Perth Glory's injury curse has continued with defender Chris Coyne in doubt for Saturday's home game with Brisbane Roar. Coyne limped out of training early today and watched the remainder of the session from the sidelines with his thigh heavily iced. Coach David Mitchell believed the 31-year old had only suffered a corked thigh but said a decision on his star defender's fitness would be made at a later date. "It was a cork, he is getting treatment immediately and hopefully he will be OK," said Mitchell. "If it is the best thing to do he will have to miss out (this weekend). It would be a blow, but hopefully it won't be. You don't want to risk players (because we have) to make sure they are available for the week after." Mitchell was hopeful marquee man Mile Sterjovski (back) would be ready to resume against Roar but doubts still linger over the fitness of captain Jacob Burns (hamstring), goalkeeper Tando Velaphi (quad) and midfielders Victor Sikora and Adriano Pellegrino.
FRUSTRATED LOWRY ESCORTED OFF
Leeds United loanee Shane Lowry was escorted from the field after aiming a punch at an opposition fan following last night’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy semi-final loss to Carlisle United on penalties. Lowry failed to convert the decisive spot kick - his shot was saved by goalkeeper Adam Collin - to hand Leeds a 6-5 win and set off chaotic scenes at Brunton Park. Carlisle fans invaded the pitch before goading Lowry, who responded angrily and had to be escorted off by teammates. The tie had ended level on aggregate after Leeds overturned a 2-1 first-leg deficit to win 3-2 in Carlisle.
MRDJA HAPPY TO BE THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Melbourne Victory striker Nik Mrdja can see the lighter side of the bitter controversy that has erupted over his A-League transfer. The backlash over his move from Central Coast Mariners has prompted A-League administrators to review the injury-replacement rule. A loophole in the rules means Mrdja has joined the Victory for the rest of this season as well as the Asian Champions League before returning to the Mariners for 2010/11. He will play against Sydney FC in Sunday's minor premiership decider, which prompted Sydney vice-chairman Scott Barlow to say that the transfer was not in the spirit of the competition.
Caught in the middle of this drama, Mrdja says he will enjoy some A-League notoriety if officials have to create 'The Nik Mrdja Rule'. "That's always a positive, too - my name is always going to be there as the guy who done it," Mrdja told 'the Age' newspaper. "But if you looked at it, everyone was capable of doing it ... it just fell right for the Victory and they came through with it. At the end of the day, it was all legal, both parties were happy, it went through and I'm happy about it."
Delighted to be playing again after battling a series of injuries during the past few seasons, Mrdja is looking forward to being part of Victory's finals campaign. "To come to a team that's top of the ladder and competing [for] the championship, it's great," said the striker, who was dismissive of suggestions Victory are looking decidedly under-strength leading into the play-off series. "There's nothing under-strength about the team. It's the confidence the boys have within themselves and the coaching staff have made them believe in themselves. They've gone out there and done the business."
CONTRACT SEALS YOUNG FAMILY REUNION
Newcastle Jets have this re-signed goalkeeper Neil Young for a further twelve-months. Young, 30, joined the Jets at the start of this season and has made the most of his opportunities, starting nine games and keeping three clean sheets in the process. Currently out of action with nose injury, the result of a collision with Gold Coast United striker Shane Smeltz, Young has been far removed from his wife and children in Perth whilst carving out a career in Newcastle. “It’s great,” said Young. “I couldn’t be happier, I can finally bring the family over, settle down and call Newcastle home.”
Despite enjoying the best six months of his football career, off the field it has been a roller-coaster ride for Young, who is over the moon with the imminent reunion with his wife, Lauren, and young sons Owen and Mitchell. “My kids went to kindy for their first day on Monday and I missed it, so it’s tough," an emotional Young said. “Before I got my first game it was pretty tough and I was finding it really hard to motivate myself to keep going. But my wife just rang me up and said, ‘Just get on with it and do what you do.’ She actually said, ‘Don’t quit, just go through with it for the rest of the year.’”
Coach Branko Culina shared the player’s delight, explaining that the Jets’ latest retention target is an important part of the squad that is being assembled for next season. “I think it’s pretty obvious that the club had a good run whilst Neil was in goals and he’s got the experience which is vital to us,” said Culina, who has re-signed seven players coming out of contract in recent times. “It’s been a difficult one though, you don’t want to rush with these decisions because you want to make sure, but by the same token you’ve got to take into consideration the situation that Neil was in. In the end, the club has decided to (re-sign him) earlier rather than later.”
GOSNELLS, FORRESTFIELD SOUND EARLY WARNINGS
There were plenty of thrills and spills on the opening weekend of the Division One Night Series, played at Hartfield Park over the weekend. The tournament commenced on Friday with Bayswater City claiming a 3-1 victory over Dianella White Eagles. Goals in the first few minutes by Rodrigo Aguirre and Stefan Smiljanic made for a crackerjack start, and it was only in the second half that Bayswater broke away with substitute Joseph.Wilonja and Cesar Gonzalez finding the net. Canning City's 2-0 win over South West Phoenix on Saturday came via P.Gudnasagaran and an own goal. Sunday's Group A game between Ashfield and Morley Windmills has been postponed until next month.
Gosnells City thrashed Rockingham City 6-0 to make a flying start to their pre-season on Friday. Early goals by Salvi Chavez and Ian Maguire set the scene, Adrian McBride and Liam Cave netted around the hour before substitute Neil King chimed in with a late double. Forrestfield United overcame Wanneroo City 4-3 in Saturday's Group B game. Matt Harold completed his hat-trick by bagging the late decider with Andy Harold also on the scoresheet for Forrestfield, while Wanneroo's goals came via Guy McDonald, Josh Booysen and substitute Mike McEwan. Summer signing Luke Doyle struck in stoppage time to snatch Fremantle Spirit a 1-0 win over Queens Park on Sunday.
BACKLASH TO MRDJA TRANSFER LEADS TO REVIEW
A competition-wide backlash to Nik Mrdja's late-season transfer to Melbourne has seen A-League bosses move to amend their controversial injury replacement rule. Football Federation Australia this evening revealed it would review the rule, which has allowed Central Coast Mariners striker Mrdja to play in Melbourne's finals and Asian Champions League campaigns before rejoining the Mariners next season. The deal, completed just hours before the deadline for injury replacements ended on Friday, created a furore across the league. The FFA are set to block similar future moves after being told by its clubs such deals were against the spirit of the game.
MANDURAH DO ENOUGH TO TAKE THE POINTS (with Chris Leitch, Football West)
Mandurah City opened their Night Series account and in the process took a step closer to the quarter-finals by dumping Armadale 2-0 this evening at Litis Stadium. The three points, which came courtesy of Luke Bower and Ryan Townsend goals, keeps the Dolphins in the hunt for a top-two finish, while Armadale's second successive loss has them staring at an early end to the pre-season tournament. The game itself was very much a battle of attrition with neither team covering themselves in glory.
Neither side created a lot in the way of genuine scoring opportunities in the first half hour. Jesse Fuller and Rafael Insurralde were on the end of a couple of promising moves by Mandurah, while Armadale's only opening came via a corner in which Jason Goodwin's header was blocked by a defender. The deadlock was finally broken on 39 minutes when Insurralde crossed to the far post where Bower tamed the ball before netting at close-range.
Armadale gave a much better account of themselves after the break, however, despite winning a succession of corners they created little to cause goalkeeper Phil Straker any real concern. Although similarly flat, Mandurah always appeared the more likely to score and on 69 minutes a well-flighted Insurralde corner was met well by Townsend who headed past Cyril Sharrock to put the game beyond doubt. The Dolphins fashioned further opportunities to increase the margin but had to settle for a two-goal win when referee Steve Gregory signalled full-time.
FLOREAT QUALIFY FOR PLAY-OFFS
Floreat Athena maintained their perfect start to the year by seeing off ECU Joondalup 1-0 in the late game at Litis Stadium. Johnny Mirco got the game's only goal early in the second half, securing Floreat their second win in as many weeks along with a place in the Night Series quarter-finals. The opening passages were dominated by the host team, who played with an intensity not normally seen at this early stage of the season. John Migas provided the vital link between midfield and attack with superb support from Paul Vatistas, while Branimir Mikulic and James Isaia caused no end of trouble pushing down the right.
Referee Michael Tolmie dismissal an early penalty appeal after Mirco jinxed his way inside the 18-yard box where he was brought down by Scott Blackmore. Goalkeeper Andy Banks was in the thick of the action for Joondalup with several timely interceptions before spectacularly pushing James Isaia's powerful drive over the crossbar. It wasn't until midway through the half that Joondalup fashioned an opening of their own but Jamie Watt was unable to poke the ball past Alex Dunn, despite the striker getting three chances to do so.
Dunn was called into action again soon after, parrying wide Jon Higgins crisp first time volley from 15-metres. Floreat resumed their assault through Daniel Neiderberger, who cut in towards goal only for Banks to keep out his low shot. Mikulic got deep down the right before crossing to the far post where Mirco's header was off-target. Adam Bachiller should perhaps have done better when presented with a chance on top of the 6-yard box which he half-volleyed high. Joondalup almost went into the break on level terms, Phil O'Callaghan nipping in to steal possession from Dean Apelgren before playing it across Dunn, who was thankful to see Jovo Pavlovic behind him.
The pattern of the second half was similar to that of the first and on 56 minutes Floreat finally got their just reward. Bachiller's corner was cleared of the area as far as Apelgren, who quickly returned the ball into the box where Johnny Mirco's vicious low blast came to rest in the bottom corner. Joondalup went within inches of drawing level via O'Callaghan's cross that deflected off Apelgren and looped over Dunn, the 'keeper getting enough of a touch to push the ball onto the post with Pavlovic clearing the rebound. Following this Floreat decided to shut up shop and defend their slender lead, allowing Joondalup little time or space to create an equaliser in the remaining time.
ALOISI GETS SYDNEY OVER THE LINE AGAINST GLORY
Perth Glory has slipped to fifth on the A-League table after a thrilling yet controversial 3-2 loss to Sydney FC at Parramatta Stadium. John Aloisi struck the winner three minutes from the end of regulation time to see off Glory, who’d twice come back from a goal down, but it was the strikers first goal that was the talking point after the game. Visiting coach David Mitchell accused referee Chris Beath of using technology to change his decision after he had originally signalled for a corner. “It was a goal - there was no question it wasn’t a goal - but I think it’d been decided it was a corner and I think they’ve showed it on the big screen and everyone’s ‘oh, it was a goal’,” said Mitchell. “The linesman didn’t indicate it was a goal at the time and the referee’s gone the same ... he’s changed his mind.”
The game started out positively for Glory, Naum Sekulovski’s 6th minute through ball sending clear Steven McGarry but the Scotsman shot straight at goalkeeper Clint Bolton. Sydney fashioned several good openings with Karol Kisel’s long-range shot whistling wide. On the quarter hour Aloisi flashed past the post, then Kisel curled a free-kick just beyond the far stick. Sydney deservedly went ahead on 23 minutes after Shannon Cole was felled inside the 18-yard box by Todd Howarth, referee Beath pointed straight to the spot from where Steve Corica duly converted. With a top four finish on the line, Glory lifted. Bolton was at full-stretch to save a volley from Danny McBreen, who ten minutes later was thwarted by Stephen Kellar’s last ditch tackle. Glory got their reward in stoppage time when McGarry’s free-kick was headed back across goal by Chris Coyne, Andrija Jukic touched it down for Srhoj to volley past Bolton at the near post.
Sydney grabbed their controversial second goal five minutes into the second half, Aloisi’s shot beat Aleks Vrteski and it appeared Chris Coyne had cleared the ball off the line. However, after consulting with his assistant and the fourth official referee Beath awarded a goal having deemed the ball to have travelled through a hole in the side netting. Scott Bulloch had a long-range attempt saved by Bolton as Glory sought an equaliser, while Sydney should have increased their lead on the hour but Alex Brosque fired wide from 5-metres. After going close twice, Glory drew level on 76 minutes when McBreen stabbed in at the far post a low cross by Bulloch. The game looked destined to finish that way until, with three minutes to go, Keller’s cross from the right picked out Aloisi who expertly headed across Vrteski to send the crowd of 8,532 into raptures. There was still time for Glory to snatch a point but McBreen’s long-range shot was superbly saved by Bolton, who in stoppage time blocked at the feet of Bulloch with Cole clearing the loose ball off the line.
GLORY YOUTH BACK TO WINNING WAYS
Perth Glory Youth has defeated Sydney FC 1-0 through a first half goal by Brent Griffiths in the National Youth League clash at Seymour Shaw Park. Sydney goalkeeper Mark Pullman turned in a best on ground display with numerous classy saves only to be beaten by Griffiths’ opportunistic strike five minutes before the break. The game, which was moved from Parramatta Stadium due to heavy rain, was given a crackerjack start with Glory Youth fashioning the first chance inside sixty seconds. Anthony Skorich and Glen Trifiro carved out further openings for the visitors, while Iain Ramsay placed wide of Tim Doyle’s post after he’d been gifted possession by a defensive error. Long-range efforts by Tim McGowan and Trifiro were saved by Doyle and Pullman, respectively, before Justin Hayward headed just wide for Sydney. The deadlock was broken on 40 minutes when Griffiths poked into the net to punish Sydney’s failure to deal with a set-piece.
Parity should have been restored a minute after the restart but, after breaking free, Joel Chianese’s powerful shot from the edge of the 18-yard box rose over the crossbar. Chances continued to flow with Ramsay’s pinpoint cross onto the head of Hayward resulting in a heavy collision with Doyle. Minutes later, the Glory Youth custodian was replaced by Francis Soale, one of four substitutes made on the hour mark by coach Gareth Naven. Chianese created an opening for Dimitrios Petratos who miscued his effort with only the ‘keeper to beat. Sydney were dealt a huge blow when defender Anthony Golec collected his second yellow card for a needless trip on David Price with fifteen minutes to go. With this the visitors stepped up a gear and if not for four brilliant stops by Pullman the final margin would have been substantially greater. The win pushes Glory Youth back into second place, however, that may change with the boys from the west have played one game more than third-placed Adelaide United.
STIRLING SHOW THEIR TEETH
Stirling Lions kept their hopes of a Night Series quarter-final appearance alive with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Cockburn City in this evening’s opening game at Dorrien Gardens. The solitary goal of an exciting encounter arrived early in the second half via a Jordan Rhodes free-kick. “We looked solid tonight and created a number of chances and with a bit of luck we could have scored three, but overall I was delighted with the performance,” said Stirling coach Mick Lyons, who made five changes to the line-up which was comprehensively by Swan United last week. “The new lads fitted in really well, Bobby (Wilson) was solid at the back and Matthew (Stares) and Tom (Ingram) did well in midfield. We still have a few more to bring in, but we were pleased the way the side played tonight.”
Stirling fashioned the first chance of an evening opening after 14 minutes when a long-ball from Wilson found Jamie DeAbreu, whose cross picked out teenager Ndumba Makeche but his shot on the turn was straight at goalkeeper Dejan Aleksic. Cockburn went close themselves in the 28th minute, Aaron Dos Santos’ lob from the edge of the 18-yard box almost catching out a back-peddling Turvill who tipped over the crossbar at full stretch. Aaron Dos Santos soon after had a shot deflected wide, then Jason Dos Santos’ long-range attempt was saved low by Turvill as the Cockerels enjoyed their best period of the half. Opportunities presented at both ends in the minutes before half-time, DeAbreu was thwarted by Ryan Pretorius while Jason Dos Santos’ 16-metre strike was saved low by Turvill.
The second half had been in motion less than a minutes when Rhodes’ curling free-kick from wide on the left beat everyone to nestle in the back of the net, much to the delight of the Stirling supporters. Cockburn wanted an immediate response but, after a driving run down the down, Jason Dos Santos’ cross was pushed away by Turvill and Michael Pugliese mopped up. Stirling were unlucky not to increase their lead on 55 minutes when a Rhodes corner found Stares whose close-range shot was cleared off the line by Joe Brunetto. David Tarka headed just over the bar from an Adrian Webster cross, then substitute Josh Findlater was denied by Turvill’s brave smothering save as Cockburn sought to level. Tarka then came to his team’s rescue by blocking Ingram’s goalbound effort after DeAbreu’s long-range shot was parried by Aleksic. Stirling’s strong finish saw Makeche crash the ball against the bar while, in stoppage time, a free-kick from Wilson was parried by Aleksic and Paul Rechichi’s follow-up shot smacked into the post.
ONOFORO SENDS PERTH INTO SEVENTH HEAVEN
Perth SC showed they have every intention of winning a fifth straight Night Series title by inflicting a 7-0 thrashing on Swan United in the late game at Dorrien Gardens. David Onoforo grabbed the first hat-trick of the season in a superb performance by Graham Normanton’s team, with Ian McMurray (2), Dom De Felice and youngster Robert Sciascia also finding the net. “I can’t ask for anything better than that. The goals we scored were tremendous and I thought we played some great football tonight which was pleasing,” said Normanton, before heaping praise on Sciascia. “Robert has come up through the ranks at our football club and he’s been overseas for a while but I’m glad to have him back. His finish tonight was top-class, he is a great addition to our squad for the season.”
Perth waited just 7 minutes before hitting the front, Sciascia delivering the ball into the 18-yard box where it evaded everyone but Onoforo whose effort looped up off a defender and cleared Cory Hugo to find the net. The one-way nature of the game should have seen Perth increase their lead five minutes later when Greg Sharland charged down the left to send in a superb cross that Onoforo headed wide from close-range. Having weather the initial storm, Swan began pushing forward with their first opportunity arriving in the 28th minutes via a Brendan Craig corner that David McNally steered just wide at the back post. Perth’s lead was doubled on the half hour, Sciascia again providing the ball to Onoforo but this time his shot was blocked and De Felice was positioned to convert the rebound.
Not satisfied with a two-goal lead, Perth continued to pile on the pressure with a McMurray half-volley whistling just past the post. But McMurray didn’t have long to wait much longer before adding his name to the score sheet, Sharland’s pace taking him clear down the left to pick out the towering Scotsman who fired in from 5-metres with 36 minutes on the clock. There was little Swan could do to stem the tide and, six minutes later, Simon Wilson playing out of the middle of the park to Onoforo, he slipped in on for McMurray who finished clinically past a stranded ‘keeper. Swan’s best chance of the half came soon after, James Sammut and Roberto Lujan combining down the right with the latter’s cross finding an unmarked John Hunter but he blazed high at close-range.
It was more of the same as a second half began, Michael Black’s long-range attempt forcing a good save out of Hugo. Swan were really struggling to have an impact in their final third which was dominated by Shaun Kilkelly and Trent Kay. All the black and whites had to show for their endevours were a couple of long-range attempts by James Sammut that ‘keeper Jason Saldaris captured. Perth, on the other hand, were running rampant on in the 61st minute Sciascia fed Onoforo whose powerful shot cannoned back off the underside of the crossbar with substitute Andreas Oliviera’s follow-up shot blocked by Shane Webb. Within sixty second the margin had blown out to five goals as Oliviera and McMurray combined to put Onoforo in the clear with the State striker finishing neatly past Hugo.
There was no let-up from Perth as they press forward in search of more goals. Their persistence was rewarded on 68 minutes when Onoforo played the ball out to Sciascia on the left, the winger drifted inside before deftly chipping Hugo from the edge of the box for a sensational solo goal. Swan still had no answers as Perth strung together their passes in a terrific display of attacking football that had the crowd applauding at every turn. The home supporters were on their feet again on 75 minutes when Wilson and Sciascia combined to find Onoforo, who completed his hat-trick with a low finish that was too good for Hugo. Swan coach Paul Lincoln was looking forlorn on the bench and it could have been much worse for his side on 84 minutes when Hugo moved swiftly to keep out a low shot on the run from Onoforo.
GLORY UP THE ANTE IN FINALS RACE
Defender Jamie Coyne said Perth Glory are determined to continue their recent form against Sydney FC and keep alive their slim chances of securing the third spot on the A-League table when the two sides meet tomorrow at Parramatta Stadium. “The top six teams will contest the finals, with those in the first four places guaranteed a home final. the third-placed team wins its first final, it will host another final. Our aim was always not just to make the finals but to finish as high up as possible to get a home final and give us a better chance,” Coyne told Jonathon Cook of the ‘West Australian’ newspaper. “Over the last six games we’ve only lost one and we’ve put ourselves in a very good position after finding ourselves in a bit of trouble just before Christmas.”
JOONDALUP LOSE POINTS
Football West have stripped ECU Joondalup of the three points they gained from to their opening round Night Series clash with Mandurah City. Last weekend’s game at Litis Stadium was won 3-2 by Joondalup, however, the match outcome has been recorded as no result after both clubs were found to have fielded a suspended player and subsequently issued a Notification of Rule Breach by the association. Joondalup have additionally been fined $330 for including on their match sheet Aryn Williams, who has a two-match suspension carried over from last season. Mandurah were also fined $330 for including Darren Lawler on the match sheet, despite him having a one-match suspension carried over from last season. Joondalup and Mandurah have the right to lodge a grievance against the penalty within seven days of receiving the breach notice from Football West.
SORRENTO SNATCHES THRILLING DRAW WITH BALCATTA (with Chris Correia, Football West)
Sorrento staged a dramatic come back to grab a 3-3 draw with Balcatta in Friday's thrilling Night Series fixture at Clipsal Stadium. Balcatta looked have the game in the bag courtesy Joe Woodin and Lucas Whitehouse goals, however, with fifteen minutes to go Todd Harnwell breathed new life into the game with a rapid-fire double. Ashley Rosindale restored Balcatta's lead on 84 minutes, and when defender Daniel White was red carded the Gulls looked done and dusted. But within a minute substitute Jared Love popped up to grab Sorrento a vital point.
Balcatta made a promising start, Rosindale tricked his way past one defender before taking a heavy touch, then having retrieved possession the striker crashed his shot into the top corner of the woodwork. Early season rustiness saw the ball turned over with regularity throughout the first half hour and few genuine chances on goal. With 31 minutes on the clock Balcatta most of a swift counterattacking move with an unmarked Woodin beating goalkeeper Tom Woodhead from inside the 18-yard box. It was a deserved goal for Balcatta, who'd shown the greater composure in attack. The closest Sorrento came to scoring in the first half was an audacious long-range attempt by White that drifted to the left of the target with 'keeper Daniel Markovski out of position.
Midfielder Jason Mirco stung the gloves of Markovski with a blistering 25-metre strike as the Gulls opened the second half wanting a goal. However, it was Balcatta that found the net on 53 minutes via Whitehouse's precision finish into the bottom corner. Substitute Glen Thomas tried to lift Sorrento with a long-range effort which Markovski tipped over crossbar. Harnwell put his team back in the game after 75 minutes, the Gulls captain scrapping the ball over the line in a goalmouth scramble. A few minutes later Harnwell added a second with a deflected shot to set up a tense finish to the game.
Both sides had their fair share of opportunities to claim the lead. The pendulum swung in Balcatta's favour when Rosindale pounced on the loose ball and went past Danny Cain before shooting beyond Woodhead with just over five minutes left on the clock. The Gulls woes were compounded soon after when White earned himself an early show after collecting two yellow cards in quick succession. But there was still plenty of fight in the northerners, Love nodding into the net after the ball rebounded off the bar from an earlier shot by Harnwell.
MONTGOMERY AT THE DOUBLE FOR THE KNIGHTS (with Chris Correia, Football West)
A brace from Stuart Montgomery has helped Western Knights defeat Inglewood United 2-1 in last night's late game at Clipsal Stadium. Following the high-scoring draw in the early game, the sides entered the game knowing victory was a must if they were to progress to the knock-out stage of the competition. The game had been in motion only 7 minutes when Matt Allen swung in a corner from the right, Francis Odong's towering header redirected it goalward and Montgomery was in the right place at the right time to flick the ball into the roof of the net.
Inglewood wasted a golden opportunity to equalise when Albert Osei-Tutu's hesitation to take a shot allowed the Knights to get numbers back. Montgomery widened the margin on 29 minutes, the striker chipping over Oliver Taseski after catching the Inglewood goalkeeper well off his line. The host club worked hard on pulling a goal back, Ashley Picker and Mladen Kovacevic combined to sent clear Osei-Tutu but his shot travelled just wide of the far post. Despite their efforts, Inglewood were unable to find the back of the net so it was the Knights that went into the break with a handy two-goal buffer.
Mladen Kovacevic went close with a free-kick from distance early in the second period as Inglewood began the task of getting back in the game. Rory Grant should have done better than put a free header over the crossbar not long after. Inglewood were thrown a lifeline on 74 minutes when Jakub Chudy's brought down Grant in a one-on-one, referee Paul Anderson pointed straight to the penalty spot with the striker sending his opponent in the wrong way. Inglewood never looked like getting a second with the Knights backline far too strong. The hosts final roll of the dice had Taseski join the attack for a Jason Colli corner, but Chudy captured the ball and Anderson soon signalled the end of the match.
THINGS ARE HOTTING UP IN THE NIGHT SERIES
There are some big games across Round Two of the Bam Creative Night Series. The weekend opens this evening at Clipsal Stadium with Balcatta against Sorrento (6.30pm) where the winner will be all but assured of a place in the quarter-finals. The late game is a must-win affair for Inglewood United and Western Knights, who both went down last week.
Cockburn City are quietly confident of registering up their second win when they face off with Stirling Lions (6.00pm) on Saturday at Dorrien Gardens. Anything less than maximum points for Perth from the traditional derby with Swan United (8.00pm) could well spell disaster as Graham Normanton's side attempt to win a record-breaking fifth straight Night Series.
On Sunday the action switches to Litis Stadium where Armadale and Mandurah City (5.30pm) go in search of their first win of the campaign. Safe passage into the last eight will go to the victor of the late game between Floreat Athena and ECU Joondalup (7.30pm). Entry to the 2010 Night Series is $8 for adults and $4 for concession holders with children under the age of 15 admitted free.
The Division One Night Series bursts into life with games across the weekend at Hartfield Park in Forrestfield. Bayswater City and Dianella White Eagles get the action under way from 8.00pm tonight with Gosnells City meeting Rockingham City on the adjoining pitch. On Saturday it's Canning City against South West Phoenix and Forrestfield United verses Wanneroo City from 8.00pm.
The round concludes on Sunday when a very young Fremantle Spirit comes up against Queens Park from 7.00pm. The evenings other game, Morley Windmills verses Ashfield, has been postponed until next month. The top two sides from each of the six-team qualifying groups will progress to the play-off stage, with the tournament decider scheduled for Saturday 27 March. Entry to the 2010 Division One Night Series is $6 for adults and $4 concession, with under-15's free.
DEPLETED GLORY HEADS TO SYDNEY
Perth Glory coach David Mitchell has confirmed he’ll be without five star players for Sunday’s top four clash with Sydney FC. Captain Jacob Burns, goalkeeper Tando Velaphi, Mile Sterjovski, Adriano Pellegrino and Viktor Sikora have all been ruled out because of injury. “That’s the good thing about having a little bit of depth while the players have been injured the balance has still been good. Going into the game the boys hold no fears,” Mitchell said. All five players are expected to be fit for next weeks match against Brisbane Roar, but with the finals approaching Glory are taking a no risks approach.
It’s the second time in five weeks Glory have meet Sydney, after the two teams played out a scoreless drew at ME Bank Stadium on 4 January. “I spoke to (Sydney coach) Vitezslav (Lavicka) after the game and he conceded they were on the back foot. We had chance after chance but just couldn’t finish them off,” said Mitchell. “They’ve got one of the best defences in the league and it’s not by coincidence they are close to the top of the league so it will be a difficult task for us but one we are going into with confidence.”
With four wins and a draw since Boxing Day, Glory have propelled themselves into fourth on the A-League table. “I think players are eager to play and looking forward to playing and when you’ve been winning the confidence grows within the team. Their is good harmony and we are pretty buoyant going into the game and as I say fourth spot is up for grabs now so it’s a big incentive for us,” said Mitchell, who is acutely aware Glory may end the regular season third, leapfrogging Sydney. “Obviously we’d have to beat them and then they’d have to lose their last game and then we’ll need to win both our games,” he added.
CRUNCH GAME FOR GLORY YOUTH (courtesy Perth Glory)
Perth Glory youth go head-to-head with Sydney FC this weekend in a game vital to their finals dream. Having gone four games without a win, the Glory youngsters head into Sunday’s game with all guns ablaze as they look to secure a top four position. Rising star Glen Trifiro says that although the last few weeks have been tough on the squad, the boys are set to perform at their best this weekend. “It has been a tough couple of games with a few results going against us, especially ones where we thought we should have wrapped up the points,” Trifiro said. “We know this week is a very important game for us and we’ve been training harder than ever. Everyone is really keen to get out of this slump that we’re in.”
Although Glory Youth have been playing good football, defensive lapses at critical moments in the past few weeks have consequently led to some poor results. “To play so well and not walk away with the points is a bit tough to get a hold of. You can’t really put it down to anything in particular, but I think one of our main problems has been conceding goals. It’s those little lapses defensively in the whole squad that has caused us to concede,” said 20-year old Trifiro. “This week we’ve done a lot of work on our positioning defensively, closing the ball down and getting on the right side of players. There is no doubt there will be a much improved performance out there on Sunday.”
With the National Youth League heating up and only a few points separating positions two through to five, Trifiro is adamant Glory can get the result they are after against Sydney. “We’ve got a terrific team this year and we’ve all worked hard together,” said Trifiro, a one-time captain of the New South Wales Schoolboys team. “It’s tough when the competition is so close that winning eight or nine games isn’t enough to pull you away from the pack. I think we have been disappointed lately but at the same time we’ve been playing some good stuff so you can’t take that away from us as a squad.”
VICTORY BOOST AS MRDJA SIGNS
Injury-struck Melbourne Victory have signed Central Coast Mariners hitman Nik Mrdja for their run into the A-League finals and the Asian Champions League campaign which follows. Mrdja, 31, could make his Mariners debut in tonights game with North Queensland Fury after marquee striker Archie Thompson was yesterday ruled out for four weeks with a foot injury and fellow forward Robbie Kruse continues to manage a shoulder injury. Meanwhile, the Mariners have confirmed Mrdja has agreed to remain with the club for a further two seasons, commencing the end of his spell with Victory.
Mrdja, who was played 17 games so far this season, scoring six goals, is delighted with both his new deals. "I have been really happy with the way I have playing, but as a footballer you always want to be at the top of your game, and getting regular game time over the next few months will help me get to where I want to be," said Mrdja. "The last Asian Champions League campaign was a great experience and I can't wait to be a part of it again, while at the same time, I'm keen to continue what I have started here at the Mariners."
FLOREAT TO KICK ON INTO SEMIS
Goalkeeper Alex Dunn has no doubt Floreat Athena will book a Night Series quarter-final berth by claiming victory over ECU Joondalup at Litis Stadium on Sunday evening. "We're confident going into every game we play, no matter who it is against, and will be more so this weekend," said Dunn, who was a virtual spectator when Floreat opened their Night Series account with a 2-0 win against Armadale last weekend. "It's good for any team to get the first official win on the board. It injects a lot of confidence throughout the squad and, hopefully, we'll now go from strength to strength."
A stunning drive by captain John Migas early in the second half put Floreat one-up against Armadale before Daniel Neiderberger's penalty conversion eight minutes later sealed three much-deserved points. "We were expecting nothing less than a physical game from Armadale and we came out wanting to match them," Dunn commented. "I thought it was a very disciplined display by us. We controlled the game for the majority, which is credit to the boys patience and not trying to force an opening, and came away with a clean sheet."
The win is all the more impressive by the fact Floreat's pre-season commenced only three weeks earlier. "Early on, Ante (Kovacevic) put us through our paces with a fair bit of interval training to pick up fitness quickly. And it wasn't long before Rox (coach Michael Roki) got us working with the ball, which everyone likes to see early in the season," said Dunn. "Competition for spots is huge at the moment. We've all been told our performance levels need to remain high because there is plenty of depth in the squad that can come in and do the job."
Floreat would dearly love to get their hands on the Night Series trophy - they've been runners-up to Perth SC in both the last two seasons - but their current focus is on getting the better of Joondalup. "We expect a physical game against Joondalup, they're coming off a great comeback win (against Mandurah City) and will be very confident as well," said Dunn. "I know there are a number of boys in the Joondalup team who will be putting in a little bit extra against us for bragging rights as well, but as usual I think it will be a high intensity game and, hopefully, we can book our spot into the quarters."
RESULTS SHOW BALCATTA WILL BE COMPETITIVE
Balcatta gave the strongest possible indication that they'll be no pushover this season after defeating Western Knights in last weekend's opening round of the 2010 Night Series. Ashley Rosindale's cracking strike from the top of the 18-yard box midway through the first half was enough to see off the current Premier League champions and bring a smile to the face of coach Salv Todaro. "The most significant factor in our win on Sunday was that we were very competitive and able to show that we can compete at this level," said Todaro, entering his third year at the helm of Balcatta.
A strong effort from players across the park was at the heart of Balcatta's win over the Knights. "Defensively I thought we were very sound and overall our discipline was excellent. In the first half I thought we created a couple of good scoring opportunities which we probably should have taken," said Todaro, who has set his team the pre-season goal of a Night Series quarter-final appearance. "That result has given the players a bit of extra confidence going into this weekend, and the season beyond that."
Todaro added experience and depth to his championship winning squad over the summer with some astute recruitment. One-time ECU Joondalup captain Anthony Jones heads Balcatta's list of ins, which also includes American import David Khuen, defenders Mark Walsh and Igor Ilikj, young midfielder Nicholas Tatsciore and attack-minded Tommy Jones. "All the new boys have settled in well, they all get involved in the training ground banter and are starting to gel with the others," said the coach. "They're all good lads with great attitudes and a big appetite for working hard."
Balcatta can book a Night Series quarter-final berth on Friday by taking maximum points over Sorrento, who last week scored late to defeat Inglewood United 2-1. "Every game in this year's Night Series is a mini-final and everyone wants to make it to the knock-out stages, so I expect another hard fought game against an experienced Sorrento outfit," said Todaro. "I have the utmost confidence in my player's ability and over the last twelve months the majority of this group have shown great commitment and fighting spirit, and the new players we have brought in have added another dimension to the team. It should be another good game."
REGULAR GAME TIME IS LOWRY’S TARGET
Shane Lowry is determined to make the most of time at Leeds United. Lowry, contracted to English Premier League club Aston Villa, has gone out in loan to Leeds in an attempt to play regular the first team football which his parent club are unable to offer at the moment. Unable to break into the Villa first team, 20-year old Lowry recently spent three months on loan to Plymouth Argyle and last week agreed to Leeds’ request to sign him until 13 March. “There was no choice in my mind when Leeds came in for me,” said Lowry, who played 71 minutes of his Leeds debut against Colchester United last weekend. “It was just a bit of cramp. My last game for Plymouth was on December 19 and I haven’t really played a competitive game since then. Nothing beats playing games and I’ll be fine over the next few weeks.”
With his contract due to expire at the end of the season, Lowry expects to hold to talks with Villa about a new deal and would like to remain part of the set-up in Birmingham. However, he admits opportunities to impress manager Martin O’Neill would have been limited had he remained at Villa for the rest of this term. “My deal at Villa’s up at the end of the season so obviously I’ll need to sit down with them and talk about a contract but I want to do well here first, get a few games under my belt and see what happens,” Lowry explained. “I’m happy at Villa but if I’m going to be realistic at present, I’m not going to be playing for the first team down there. I’m only 20 and I've got time on my side but Villa are flying in the Premier League so this is all about getting games under my belt.”
MORE GLORY FOR MITCHELL
David Mitchell has been given the green light for a third season in charge of Perth Glory after the club all but secured an A-League finals spot for the first time. Owner Tony Sage remained adamant throughout a three-match mid-season losing slump that Mitchell's position would be safe for another season if the team clinched a top-six place. "It's there in the contract in black and white. What I don't do is go back on my word," Sage said in reference to Mitchell's future. "In business it's about stability and when you look at successful clubs in AFL and NRL they've had stable coaching and management. That's what I want to bring to Glory."
BURNS PLAYING IT SAFE
Team captain Jacob Burns will resist the temptation to make a swift return to action as Perth Glory again faces injury worries ahead of this weekend’s game at Sydney FC. It’ll be a case of all hands on deck for the club with Burns (hamstring) and Victor Sikora (hip) out of action while clouds of doubt loom above goalkeeper Tando Velaphi (thigh), Mile Sterjovski (back) and Adriano Pellegrino (knee). Burns is hopeful of returning for Glory’s final match of the regular season - at home to Brisbane Roar on Saturday week - but will not risk exacerbating the injury with finals on the horizon. “We’ve got great medical staff and we’ll be doing everything we can to get back as soon as possible without risking finals football,” Burns said. “As far as (hamstring) tears go it could’ve been a lot worse … I know that Sydney is out, for sure, and I’ll target Brissie. I’d like to get a game in before the finals but if I’m still feeling it at all it’s not worth the risk. Finals football is more important.”
REFEREE SEMINAR HIGHLIGHTS DEVELOPMENT PATHWAYS (courtesy Football West)
The fourth annual Football West referees seminar was held on the weekend with over 150 referees from around the state in attendance. Covering recent changes in FIFA Laws of the Game, the FFA Draft National Referee Strategy and various administrative topics, the seminar was held at the Mountt Lawley Edith Cowan University campus on Sunday. Eddie Lennie, Referee Development Manager, was pleased with the growth in numbers from the previous seminars. “In the past four years, we have seen the number of referees increase steadily, and it is encouraging to see the number of young referees attending the seminar today,” he said. “There is a clear focus on the development pathway for our young referees, both male and female and the Football West Referees department are committed to raising the standards of match officials at all levels in the game both on and off the field.” Football West had over 440 registered referees in 2009 - the highest since the inception of Football West - and are expecting to eclipse this in 2010 with the upcoming referee recruitment campaign.
SORRENTO SIGN EX-HULL GOALKEEPER
Former Hull City goalkeeper Tom Woodhead hopes to use a winter in the State League with Sorrento as a stepping stone to the A-League. Released at the end of last season by the Tigers, Woodhead was playing non-League at Bridlington Town before being offered an opportunity to resurrect his career in Western Australia. “This is too good an opportunity for me to turn down,” Woodhead told the Hull Daily Mail. “Trevor (Morgan) is first-team coach for Sorrento and rang me to invite me out to play for the year. Sorrento are the feeder club for A-League side Perth Glory and if I can establish myself with Sorrento, there’s a chance I could play for the Glory. I couldn’t say no to this chance. I don’t want to reach the end of my career and regret not going. It’s for a year, but I’ll see how I’m finding it after a month. It’s a long way to go for a game of football, but hopefully it will be worth it."
MCGARRY KEEPS FOOT DOWN IN FINALS PUSH
New recruit Steven McGarry will keep his foot on the accelerator through the final two games of the season as Perth Glory presses for a fourth-place finish after all but securing a first A-League finals place. Glory's six-point buffer and 11-goal advantage over seventh-placed Brisbane Roar has put the club on the cusp of a first finals appearance with games against Sydney FC and Brisbane to come. "We're going to be chasing fourth place but we are not mathematically in the finals yet," McGarry told Jonathon Cook of the 'West Australian' newspaper. "We'll be going to Sydney to look to get that win and try and chase that fourth spot."
McGarry's arrival from Scottish club Motherwell a few weeks ago has coincided with a three-game winning streak that's taken Glory to fourth spot. "We've got a bit of momentum now and we've just got to keep it going," he said. "In football, when you're confident and you're winning, other teams start to fear you. But we know we've got to work hard as well. We know that things don't just happen." McGarry has committed to the end of the season but is keen to stay beyond the current campaign. Glory coach David Mitchell has been impressed by McGarry's midfield contribution, which has been crucial to the club's recent success.
CLASSY SHOWING BY NTC AT INSTITUTE CHALLENGE
Football West's National Training Centre squad has placed fourth at the second annual State Institute Challenge played in Canberra last week. Western Australia's brightest young talents put aside a slow start by winning three and drawing one of their last five games, only to be pipped for third by the Northern New South Wales Institute of Sport on goal difference. The efforts of Jordan Franken, Tom King, Brandon O'Neill and Riley Woodcock were recognised at the end of the week-long event with selection in the All-Star team which drew with tournament winners the South Australian Sports Institute.
After a narrow 1-0 loss to the New South Wales Institute of Sport on Monday, the boys from the west began to find their feet on day two with draws against the South Australian Sports Institute (2-2) and the Tasmanian Institute of Sport (1-1). A 2-0 win over the Victorian NTC on Thursday morning was followed by a 2-1 afternoon loss to the Queensland Academy of Sport. Friday produced wins against the Northern New South Wales Institute of Sport (3-2) and the Northern Territory (2-0) before closing out with scoreless draw against the Australian Capital Territory Academy of Sport on Friday.
The West Australian squad at the 2010 FFA State Institute Challenge was Nick Ambrogio, Alex Castiello, Jacob Collard, Kieran Colwell, Savo Cubrilo, Matthew Davies, Daniel Dols, Jordan Franken, Scott Galloway, Byron Hudson, Tom King, Jeese Makarounas, Joseph Moseray, Sahr Musa, Albert Ngeyo, Harry O'Brien, Brandon O'Neill, Adrian Petroski, Shane Pickering, Luke Radonich, Slobodan Vulin and Riley Woodcock. The State Institute Challenge pits nine State Institute and Training Centre teams from around the country against eachother in front of national team coaching staff.
FOSTER GETS GULLS FLYING (by Chris Correia, Football West)
A late David Foster strike secured Sorrento a 2-1 victory over Inglewood United this evening at Clipsal Stadium. The win provided Sorrento a boost for the coming season after a disappointing 2009 when they missed out on finals football having been crowned League champions the year previous. The first half was a fairly scrappy affair, neither team creating a great deal in the way of clear-cut chances with Sorrento dominating possession. So it was against the run of play that Inglewood broke the deadlock in the 34th minute, big defender James Duncan sending a shot past new Sorrento goalkeeper Tom Woodhead. The Gulls' best chance feel to returning striker Foster, whose long-range blast forced a good save out of 'keeper Oliver Taseski.
Inglewood emerged for the second half with greater confidence. Alex Stamatiadis' 25-metre bomb appeared destined for the top corner before Woodhead came to the rescue with an acrobatic save. Stamatiadis later found space after the ball spilled to his way from a corner but the midfielder shot poorly at the near post. Sorrento soon found an equaliser through a great strike by Jared Love from outside the 18-yard box with under half an hour left to play. But the game was soon made difficult for both teams when a lighting tower failed, leaving visibility poor across the pitch. Foster tried to give Sorrento the lead but his header fell just short at the near post. However, in the final minute of regulation time Foster up for that miss when he fired into the net via the post following a deep Kris Dennis cross to snatch a Gulls victory.
BALCATTA DRAW FIRST BLOOD (by Chris Correia, Football West)
Newly promoted Balcatta made a fantastic start to their 2010 campaign by downing Western Knights 1-0 in this evening's early Group C Night Series fixture at Clipsal Stadium. Ashley Rosindale's 31st minute strike was all that separated the two teams at the end of play. Balcatta came out firing with Rosindale an early concern for the Knights. Rosindale set-up Joey Woodin at the far post but he was unable to find the back of the net, and soon after the attacker played a delightful free-kick which Lucas Whitehouse headed across the face of goal to an unmarked Anthony Jones, who failed to connect with the ball.
Balcatta's hard work was eventually rewarded when Rosindale applied a lovely right-foot finish on the edge of the 18-yard box to break the deadlock. The Knights began to spark into life late in the half, with new signing Simon Versaico doing his utmost to inspire the team. Versaico found Paul Van Dongen deep in the 6-yard box but the Balcatta defence was alert to the danger. Andy O'Neill nearly cost his side dearly when he coughed up the ball to Knights striker Anthony Campbell, he cross to the far post where Stuart Montgomery just missed his chance to equalise.
Daniel Trim failed to convert a close-range header early in the second half, and not too long after Versaico flicked the ball just wide of the target after being found by Matt Allen. A cracking 22-metre strike by Versaico had 'keeper David Khuen on his toes but the shot travelled over the crossbar. Allen's set pieces posed a lot of problems for Balcatta, and on one such occasion the ball spilled for David Annall who lashed it just wide. Balcatta's good work was almost undone by a late free-kick from 25-metres but Allen's delivery just missed the goalmouth.
MCBREEN DOUBLE PUTS GLORY ON THE BRINK OF FINALS
Perth Glory virtually secured their first ever A-League finals appearance with this afternoon’s 3-1 thrashing of Central Coast Mariners at ME Bank Stadium. New singing Daniel McBreen scored twice inside the quarter hour with Andrija Jukic adding a third after before the interval to move Glory into fourth place, six points ahead of Brisbane Roar with two gams to play. “I think it would be a Houdini act if they (Brisbane) got in from here. I think once we cement ourselves (in the six) we’ll go for fourth spot and if we get it, no one will want to place us that’s for sure,” coach David Mitchell said. The win was even more impressive given Tando Velaphi, Jacob Burns and Mile Sterjovski were all unavailable through injury.
McBreen gave Glory a dream start by final the net after just 48 seconds. A long clearance by acting captain Chris Coyne posed little danger for the Mariners until Pedj Bojic coughed up possession to McBreen, who past goalkeeper Danny Vukovic from 4-metres. The day only got better for Glory as, with 14 minutes gone, Andrew Clark conceded the ball to Scott Neville and the youngsters cross from the bye-line was tucked away at close-range by an unmarked McBreen. Needing victory to remain in final contention, the Mariners wasted little time in countering but Matt Simon’s header flashed wide.
Despite being two-down, the Mariners continued to press and on 25 minutes John Hutchinson’s corner from the left found Alex Wilkinson, his header was partially saved by Aleks Vrteski and Pellegrino was on the line to hook it to safety. Both teams fashioned some good openings leading into the break. In the 35th minute Bojic flashed the ball narrowly wide with a well struck free-kick, and soon after Neville’s cross found Jukic but his attempt was blocked by Chris Doig. Glory’s reward came in stoppage time through a well-rehearsed move in which Todd Howarth pulled a corner to the top of the box for Andy Todd, whose volley was glanced into the net by Jukic.
The Mariners started the second half with a bang as Brad Porter delivered a fine cross to Nik Mrdja, and although is header came back off the post newly introduced substitute Adam Kwasnik was placed to convert. This set the scene for a Mariners onslaught but, try as they did, there would be no comeback. On the hour Nicky Travis was afforded far too much time and his shot from 15-metres was tipped around the post by Vrteski. Bojic fed through to Michael McGlinchey who fired just over, and a Mrdja header after 73 minutes went the wrong side of the post. Glory stepped up the intensity in the final ten minutes with Jukic’s shot from 17-metres going just wide before a close-range Jamie Harnwell effort was deflected wide.
STIRLING FRUSTRATED BY RED TAPE DELAYS
Stirling Lions president Don Evans is far from impressed by the paperwork delays that prevented his club from unveiling three new signings in Friday’s opening round of the Night Series. Local clubs have been frustrated by the lack of support from the transfer divisions at Football West and Football Federation Australia, leading Evans to vent his anger. “In this modern age of direct communication we clubs are hamstrung by red tape and lame excuses that drag a simple process into a 30-day waiting period, which is not acceptable,” Evans told Paul Tombides of the ‘Sunday Times’ newspaper. “A-League clubs are able to transfer players within 48 hours, why don’t we get similar respect?” Stirling had hoped to have import trio Bobby Wilson (ex-Notts County), Matthew Stares (ex-Grimsby Town) and Tom Ingram (ex-Quorn FC) cleared in time to play against Swan, who won the game 4-0.
WATT A FINISH! (by Tim Lefort, Football West)
Jamie Watt struck in stoppage time to steal ECU Joondalup a 3-2 win over Mandurah City in this evening's early Group B fixture at Litis Stadium. A couple of first half goals by debutant Luke Bower had Mandurah in the box seat, however, Garin Collins and Jon Higgins put the northern suburbs side back in the game before Watt grabbed a last-gasp decider. "The first half we weren't winning anything, no second balls, nothing," said Joondalup assistant coach Gary Church, who was understandably delighted his teams second half display. "We needed to lift our game a bit and we did that. We came out and did the job we were supposed to do in the first half. For the first game, the first half we were a bit slow off the mark, but I thought the second half we played very well."
Joondalup goalkeeper Andy Banks was called into action after just 6 minutes, the off-season recruit showing great reflexes to tip Adam Farry's close-range effort behind for a corner. But apart from that, clear-cut chances were scarce early on and it was only via a mistake that the deadlock was broken. With 17 minutes gone teenage defender Aryn Williams misjudged a ball near the centre circle, allowing Rafael Insurralde to break down the left before sliding in a low cross that Bower side-footed in from 8-metres. Phil O'Callaghan did his best to restore parity but after turning his man directed a weak shot straight at Mandurah custodian Phil Straker.
Serious questions were being asked of the Joondalup defence after Mandurah doubled their lead in the 27th minute. Darren Broxton took possession in midfield and quickly spirited the ball through to Bower on the left, the young attacker strode forward before unleashing a blistering drive that crashed into the top corner, giving Banks no chance. An error by James Hesketh let in Watt at the other end but his low drive fizzed just beyond the far post, then a desperate goalline block by Chris Wylie denied Mandurah a third goal. Joondalup finished the half strongly with Straker saving from Higgins and O'Callaghan, who soon after steered wide from the edge of the 18-yard box.
Joondalup pikced up where they left off after the break with an in-swinging Higgins corner casuing all sorts of problems for the opposition defence before Straker scrambled the ball off the line. But there was nothing the Mandurah 'keeper could do in the 51st minutes when Collins scorching 28-metre drive soared into the top corner following a short corner move by Higgins. Six minutes later the team were level, this time Higgins lashing in from close-range after the Dolphins failed to clear a cross. O'Callaghan's frustrating evening against his former club continued when he was again off target as Joondalup pressed in search of the lead.
Bower turned provider soon after but his clever ball across the face of goal was agonisingly out of reach of substitute Michael Bobridge. Watt looked certain to put his side in front but his strike from point-blank range was somehow blocked, with Collins lashing the loose ball high. Insurralde's superb strike from distance didn't clear the crossbar by much, while Bushby and Watt squandered golden opportunities within a few minutes of each other. However, Watt soon made amends when he was on hand to head in at the far post from Higgins' deep free-kick, giving Joondalup a perfect start to their pre-season campaign.
FLOREAT A CLASS ABOVE
Floreat Athena got their Night Series campaign off to the perfect start with a commanding 2-0 defeat of Armadale in tonight’s late game at Litis Stadium. State team player John Migas opened the scoring in the second half with a powerful effort before Daniel Neiderberger tucked away a penalty to make the points safe. “The team rode the physicality of the match well and generally controlled the game,” said pleased Floreat coach Michael Roki. “A tight defence and midfield restricted Armadale to very few real chances, whilst we probably should have increased the margin with several clean scoring opportunities that we created. A great confidence booster for us as I think we made a difficult game look relatively one-sided.”
Floreat started brightly, forcing a succession of corners that had Reds goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock under some early pressure. James Isaia should have opened the hosts account but after getting on the end of a Branimir Mikulic cross he headed off-target at close-range. Mikulic fashioned another opportunity, this time for Adam Bachiller who let himself down with a tame finish, while Johnny Mirco’s pace had him bearing down on goal when Mick Van Dongen applied a superb last ditch tackle. Armadale’s decision to play with a only Warren Grieve upfront often left the striker starved of support and, despite his best efforts, the Red’s failed to seriously test Alex Dunn. Half time was approaching when Dean Apelgren called Sharrock into action, the Reds custodian getting down well to his right to prevent the opening goal.
It was more of the same after the break, Mirco’s glancing header hitting the back of the net only to be disallowed for offside. Next it was the turn of Migas whose right-foot strike from the top of the area cannoned back off the crossbar. Floreat got the goal they so desperately sought just before the hour when a slick exchange between Bachiller and Isaia saw the ball laid into the path of Migas, who didn’t break stride in blasting into the roof of the net from 19-metres. Eight minutes later a clumsy challenge by Ben Kelly on Mirco resulted in a Floreat penalty which Neiderberger fired past Sharrock to seal victory. Floreat could have ended with a few more goals but Neiderberger headed wide at a Mikulic cross, while Sharrock did well to cut out Miki Vujacic's cross intended for an unmarked Neiderberger.
MARINERS WIN A YOUTH THRILLER WITH GLORY
Bernie Ibini-Isei struck a late to snatch Central Coast Mariners a thrilling 3-2 win over perth Glory Youth in this afternoon’s game at Dorrien Gardens. Playing with the aid of a gusty breeze in the first half, Glory opened the scoring in the 8th minute when Branko Jelic took advantage of a fumble by goalkeeper Matthew Ryan to slot the ball into an empty net. With first team pair Jelic and Wayne Srhoj using the game to return from injury, Glory controlled the opening passages. However, the Mariners were given a golden opportunity to level when Brady Smith was brought down by a clumsy Sam Mitchinson tackle, however, goalkeeper Alex Pearson pushed Panny Nikas’ spot kick around the post. Glory almost made their visitors pay for the penalty miss late in the half but Hayden Doyle’s sensational 25-metre strike was narrowly high of the crossbar.
The move by Mariners’ coach Tony Walmsley to switch Ibini-Isei from the right flank to the left allowed the visitors to take control after the break In the 57th minute Glory failed to clear the danger as Jonathon Brown’s low ball was converted at close-range by an unmarked Dylan Macallister. The Mariners had barely finished celebrating when a miscued clearance of their own fell invitingly for Dean Evans to lash in from 20-metres and put Glory back in front. It became two-all with thirteen minutes remaining after Ibeni-Isei released Shane Huke whose cross from the left was slammed in by Nikas. Pearson did well to deny the Mariners in a goalmouth scramble, then Glen Trifiro was denied by a marginal offside call. With five minutes later Smith surged down the right and crossed to the near post where Ibini-Isei’s classy half-volley flashed past Pearson.
LOWRY JOINS LEEDS
Third tier English club Leeds United has signed defender Shane Lowry on loan from Aston Villa until 13 March. 20-year old Lowry met his new team-mates for the first time on Friday and went straight into the squad for this evening’s game against Colchester United. Lowry has made two senior appearances for Villa and enjoyed a successful three-month loan spell with Championship side Plymouth Argyle earlier in the season. Lowry becomes the third Australian on Leeds’ books, joining defender Patrick Kisnorbo and midfielder Neil Kilkenny.
INJURY CRISIS STRIKES GLORY
Perth Glory has been struck by an injury crisis at the wrong end of the season, with several big names set to miss tomorrow’s crucial clash against Central Coast. Topping the list is inspirational club captain Jacob Burns, who may also miss next week’s road trip to Sydney after scans this week revealed a hamstring tear. The club’s injury woes deepen with strikers Mile Sterjovski (back) and Daniel McBreen (calf) along with goalkeeper Tando Velaphi (quadriceps) fighting to prove their fitness. The trio adds to the already sidelined midfielder pair of Wayne Srhoj (knee) and Viktor Sikora (thigh).
Coach David Mitchell said a tough schedule had taken its toll on the squad and it would have to fight hard to earn a finals run. “We play Sunday, Sunday, Sunday then all of a sudden have a midweek game, then play on a Friday,” Mitchell said. “The boys had a tough two road trips to Melbourne and Adelaide and then to back it up on Friday (against Wellington) was really punishing. Jacob Burns is definitely out. It’s not good news and it’s probably due to last week. We’re not in the finals yet. We’re certainly in a prime position but we have to get into that mindset that we're not in there yet.” Glory can shore up a maiden A-League finals berth with a victory over the Mariners.
SWAN MAUL YOUNG LIONS
A dominant second half performance has given Swan United an emphatic 4-0 victory against Stirling Lions in last night’s opening game of the 2010 Night Series at Dorrien Gardens. Captain Brendan Knox got Swan on the way by converting a first half penalty before Liam Boland scored against his former club, followed by late finishes by John Hunter and Brendan Craig. “Our preparation this season has been better and we’ve started the Night Series well,” said Paul Lincoln, coach of Swan. “We started slow tonight but we had a chat at half-time about a few things and I thought we dominated the second half and scored some great goals.”
The night began well enough for Stirling with Ndumba Makeche turning sharply to unleash a low shot that required a smart response from goalkeeper Daniel Agudelo. Makeche turned provider on 13 minutes, playing the ball out to the right where Jamie DeAbreu, after getting past Craig, sent in a cross which Agudelo captured. Swan eventually settled and on 17 minutes Roberto Lujan’s long-range attempt was held by Kevin Miller, and four minutes later Knox’s curling 18-metre free-kick beat the Stirling custodian but not the crossbar.
With the first goal of vital importance to both teams, there were chances at both ends. Claims for a Stirling penalty were dismissed on 24 minutes when Makeche raced past veteran defender Darko Ilomanoski who was alleged to have handled the ball, however, referee Michael Tolmie saw no reason to halt play. Ten minutes later Leo Harman’s cross from the right was miss-judged by Miller, who recovered in time to blocked John Mansaray effort. The decisive goal came on the stroke of half-time when Knox and Shane Webb combined to find James Sammut who was felled inside the area by Michael Pugliese, referee Tolmie pointed to the spot with Knox making no mistake.
Swan could not have wished for a better start to the second half, Leo Harman playing down the right for Webb whose cross at the back post was fired into the net by Boland at the second attempt with 50 minutes on the clock. Stirling wanted to hit back immediately but Tom Kennedy’s long-range shot was deflected wide by Craig, and moments later Agudelo moved well to keep put Jordan Rhodes’ effort from the edge of the area. Both sides made changes as legs began to tire and Stirling substitute Andy Brown fired wide from close-range on 70 minutes after being found unmarked by a Rhodes corner.
The game was ended as a contest ten minutes later when James Sammutt’s quick short corner caught the opposing defence asleep as Trent Wood’s inch perfect cross was powerfully headed in by Hunter from 6-metres. A similar move shortly after almost reaped Swan another but on this occasion David McNally’s header was captured on the line by Miller. It was only a matter of time before Swan got their fourth and with four minutes left Craig picked the ball up on the half way line and raced past three opponents before finishing low past Miller from the edge of the box.
COCKBURN STUNS PERTH
Cockburn City withstood a second half comeback from Night Series trophy holders Perth SC to run out 2-1 winners in Friday’s late fixture at Dorrien Gardens. The Cockerels went into the break with a two-goal buffer thanks to Michael Grigo and, although Ian McMurray pulled one back for Perth, Scott Miller’s side hung on for the win. “We showed a great deal of character today which is also pleasing, but it’s only pre-season and the more we play the better we will get,” said Miller, whose line-up included former Perth Glory players David Tarka and Adrian Webster. “Before we ran out of legs in the second half, like I knew we would, I thought we knocked the ball around well against a good Perth team which is pleasing.”
It was Cockburn who began the brighter and on 4 minutes Jason Dos Santos picked out Webster whose long-range shot flashed over the top. Perth replied six minutes later, Robert Sciascia’s corner from the left was met by Craig Simpson but his header was cleared off the line by Ryan Pretorius. Cockburn slowly took control of the game with Webster particularly influential in midfield, and on 23 minutes they deservedly went ahead. Having burst down the left, Jason Dos Santos’ angled strike crashed off the post and rebounded to Grigo, whose initial shot was blocked but not his close-range follow-up.
Perth had finally been prised out of their shells and twice in quick succession they went within inches of drawing level. Just before the half-hour David Onoforo had a long-range grasscutter saved by Dejan Aleksic, then an unmarked Simpson headed wide from a Greg Sharland corner. Perth suffered a major setback in the 40th minute when Simpson was stretchered off with an ankle injury, leading to Simon Wilson’s introduction. As the half ended Cockburn wrestled back control with Grigo firing wide and Aaron Dos Santos high. The game in stoppage time when Grigo put away his second at close-range after Webster’s corner had been headed back across goal by Joe Brunetto.
The second half opened encouragingly for Perth, McMurray’s flick finding Onoforo but his long-range attempt was straight at Aleksic. Sciasia’s great approach work in the 54th minute saw him put the ball on the head of McMurray, who nodded just wide. Chances arrived at both ends of the pitch in a high-intensity game. Sciascia’s shot from distance was saved well by Aleksic, then moments later Jason Dos Santos’s effort was parried by Luke Martino with Pavle Biserko putting the follow-up wide. It was a different Perth side now and they really should have scored on 66 minutes, Sciascia picking out McMurray who somehow headed high from a few metres.
Perth finally got the reward their sought in the 80th minute when McMurray applied a clinical finish past Aleksic after being fed by substitute Andreas Oliviera. Pretorius and Shane Nunes were outstanding at the back for Cockburn as Perth attempted to snatch a late point. McMurray failed to hit the target on 86 minutes after getting on the end of a Sharland free-kick. With Perth pushing players forward looking to equalise, they were almost caught on the counterattack on a couple of occasions. Jason Dos Santos used his pace to release Webster but his dipping shot was high, and in stoppage time the same player flashed wide after Martino punched an Anthony Perriera free-kick to his feet.
NIGHT SERIES BEGINS WITH A BAM!
The new Football West season is upon us with the opening rounds of the Bam Creative Night Series taking place this weekend. The pre-season tournament has been a regular fixture on the West Australian football calendar for almost half a century and provides clubs a perfect opportunity to road test their new squads ahead of the home-and-away series. The undisputed kings of Night Series football are Perth S.C. who've lifted the trophy an astonishing fourteen titles since 1961, while Stirling Lions' six triumphs puts them a distant second.
Football West chairman Kevin Campbell is anticipating an exciting Night Series tournament. "It is an exciting time for the world game here in Western Australia and Football West is delighted to launch the fantastic new Bam Creative Night Series as the precursor to what will be a huge year of football" said Campbell at Wednesday evenings launch attended by sports minister Terry Waldron, Town of Vincent Mayor Nick Catania and federal politician Alannah MacTiernan. The tournament has been revamped this year to include a three group round robin stage, with the teams battling it out to reach the knockout quarter-final stage.
Stirling Lions and Swan United (6.30pm) get the ball rolling this evening at Dorrien Gardens, after which Perth SC commence their Night Series title defence in the late game with Cockburn City (8.30pm). The action switches to Litis Stadium on Saturday when Mandurah City squares off with ECU Joondalup (6.00pm), followed by Floreat Athena against a re-energised Armadale (8.00pm). The round comes to a close on Sunday with Western Knights against Balcatta (6.30pm) and Sorrento verses Inglewood United (8.30pm). Entry to the 2010 Night Series is $8 for adults and $4 for concession holders with children under the age of 15 admitted free.
GLORY TIME THEIR RUN TO PERFECTION
Perth Glory are hitting form at the right time of the season according to coach David Mitchell. With three regular season games to play, Glory are fifth and victory over Central Coast Mariners on Sunday could take them to fourth and in the process secure the club's place in the A-League finals for the first time. "We've put ourselves in a good position with two at home and one away," Mitchell said ahead of the Mariners showdown. "For us it's a big game, if we win, it just about assures us of a finals spot. It's also a big game for Central Coast and they probably should've won last week with the performance they put in."
New signing Daniel McBreen has been a key figure in Glory's recent return to form, the striker scoring twice in three games. "We brought some new faces in at the right time and they've added a bit of a spark to the team and they've been great, they've lifted everyone and now we’ve got a bit of depth in the squad and that's what we’ve always been after," said Mitchell. "Everyone can see Daniel McBreen puts his heart and soul into it, even though he's not going to be with us next year. That's just the character of the guy. He works hard for his teammates and he's scoring goals, which is fantastic."
Glory have won three and drawn one from their last five games but Mitchell believes his team's best is yet to come. "I think at the start of the season we played some great football, then hit a bit of a bad patch but we are coming good again but certainly not at our best yet," said Mitchell, who has promoted Branko Jelic, Scott Neville and Tommy Amphlett into an extended eighteen-player squad to face the Mariners. Although Jacob Burns (hamstring), Mile Sterjovski (back) and McBreen (calf) failed to train on Wednesday, Mitchell expects all three to be available for Sunday's game at ME Bank Stadium (kick-off 4.00pm).
DOYLE RATES MARINERS YOUTH HIGHLY
Central Coast Mariners will provide Perth Glory Youth one of their toughest tests of the 2009/10 National Youth League season when they meet in the top of the table game at Dorrien Gardens on Saturday (5.00pm kick-off). "Central Coast have looked like the hardest team to beat, they are very strong and work hard," said Glory Youth midfielder Hayden Doyle. "Adelaide United are also very difficult to beat but I wouldn't say that there is one team to beat because it is a very close league. Every game is a tough one, Saturday will be huge test for us."
Going into the weekend Glory Youth sit alongside Adelaide in second spot, just two points away from first. "This year the youth team has done really well. There is a real buzz amongst the group and there is a great deal of competition for places in the side, with Ludovic Boi being our stand out," Doyle said. "Gareth (Naven) expects a lot from us not just on the pitch but off it as well - he is very professional and doesn't accept second best. The lads are responding really well to him and our results have shown that."
Doyle was an apprentice at English club Stoke City and played in Greece with Niki Volos before signing with Glory in June 2008. "Both experiences were great though and have helped my career in the game," said 22-year old Doyle. "Stoke was amazing - it was very professional and everything was taken care of from our food to our training gear. I left Australia when I was 16 so it was difficult at the start but once I settled in I was very happy there."
And while he also enjoyed Greece, Doyle admits the going was at times difficult. "Greece was very different to England," he commented. "I found it difficult to settle because there was no routine and every day there was new surprises. Sometimes we were paid and sometimes we weren't, sometimes training was good but sometimes it was a waste of time. You never knew what to expect when you woke up in the morning."
Doyle made four A-League appearances for Glory in 2008/09 and was looking forward to a successful winter with Mandurah City when injury intervened. "I tore my anterior cruciate ligament while at Mandurah and the last six months have been the hardest of my football career to date," he said. "It was the worst news I had ever received. Being told I would be out for six to twelve months was devastating. But I have made a quick recovery and haven't had any problems along the way."
Now back to full fitness, Doyle is again enjoying his football and determined to make the most of his opportunities. "On a personal level it has been a difficult season for me because of my injury and having not played for seven months, but I'm now back amongst it and fighting to get my spot back again," explained Doyle, who believes Glory Youth's success has been very much a team effort. "I think the side have been getting good results because we are very consistent as a group not so much as individuals."
THE SUPREMACY TOUR IS COMING
Urban Football Australia are on the look-out for Western Australia's best 3v3 players. The Central Tournament, the first of four qualifying events for the 2010 Supremacy Tour, takes place later this month at Lords Sports Club in Subiaco and Urban Football Australia want you to be part of it. The top two teams from each qualifying event progress to the finals, where they'll battle it out to be crowned Kings of the Court. For more information on the Supremacy Tour, including team registration details, visit the Urban Football Australia website.
JUKIC TIPS FINALS SHAKE
Exciting midfielder Andrija Jukic believes Perth Glory can continue their winning streak through the final three games of the season and secure a maiden A-League finals berth. Jukic, who stepped up from the youth team this season, had been used off the bench on a number of occasions before finally getting his first start in Friday's 2-0 win over Wellington Phoenix. His place in the starting line-up was a deserved reward for a sparkling performance off the bench in a come from behind win over Adelaide United just three days earlier.
Jukic, 23, is in contention to start against Central Coast Mariners on Sunday but has no qualms about his role as a fringe player. "We've got three games now and I reckon we've got the team to win all three," Jukic told Jonathon Cook of the 'West Australian' newspaper. "We've got a great team and a lot of experienced players. Coming in from the youth team this season, I was expecting to come off the bench here and there. If I'd done a bit better with a few of my chances earlier in the season I could've been in there a bit more but that's how it goes."
DJULBIC WANTS CHAMPIONSHIP
New Gold Coast United signing Dino Djulbic is determined to retain his first eleven place for the remainder of the season, declaring he returned to Australia to ‘play and not sit on the bench’. Djulbic has been a revelation since joining Gold Coast late last year as an injury replacement for Daniel Piorkowski, the big defender staring in his four appearances to date to becoming one of the first names on coach Miron Bleiberg’s team sheet. “Miron said he wanted me to come here and play and to win a championship and that’s what I wanted to do so it’s good to come back,” Djulbic said. “I think if I perform well there is nothing to stop me from playing, I don’t look at whose injured or anything like that, I came here to play not sit on the bench.”
Djulbic will be a crucial member of the Gold Coast side come Friday evening when the glamour club faces off against defending A-League champions Melbourne Victory. And while many are many tipping these two teams to also meet in the grand final, Djulbic says the only thing on his mind is winning an A-League championship. “Melbourne, Sydney, whoever we play it doesn’t matter it’s just another game for us that we need to win and we want to win to get that first spot. The A-League is great and that’s why I came back because it gives me an opportunity to play,” he said. “It would be good to win it and it would be the biggest achievement for me so far in my career so I hope we can do it.”
CONCERT THREATENS A-LEAGUE FINAL
Perth Glory's charge towards their first finals match in six years has forced the club to prepare contingency plans in case they secure a home fixture, which would clash with a pop concert. Glory, currently fifth and on the brink of qualifying for the play-offs, are gunning for fourth place and a home final on 21 February. However, Allia Venue Management, who administer ME Bank Stadium, has already booked singer George Michael at the venue on 20 February and there are concerns the ground might not be ready to host the Glory game.
Town of Vincent mayor Nick Catania will urge round-the-clock work to ensure Glory can play at their home ground. "We will do everything in our power to ensure we have a final here to pay back some of those true believers who have stuck with Glory all these years," Catania said. The club is already investigating alternatives, including the prospect of postponing the match for at least 24 hours. Glory's last finals campaign was in 2004 when they beat Parramatta Power to claim a second successive National Soccer League title.
MRDJA TARGETING FINALS GLORY
Perth Glory old boy Nik Mrdja returns home this weekend desperate to shoot Central Coast Mariners into the A-League finals. The Mariners sit four points adrift of Wellington Phoenix in seventh place but with a superior goal difference, and Mrdja insists three points against Glory on Sunday are vital to ensure the club’s finals hopes remain alive. “That’s the most important thing at the moment. I’d trade goals for winning games any day,” said Mrdja, scorer of three goals in his last three outings. “We have to look forward and there’s always a bit of hope there. If we can come away with the three points this weekend it will be a massive bonus.”
Although is team has a strong record against Glory, Mrdja knows his former club are eager to add to their sole win in 14 games with the Mariners. “It’s always a massive task travelling to Perth,” he said. “As a former Perth player you know what the mindset of the teams who come in and play against Perth, because travelling and everything takes its toll. It’s going to be a massive task for us, they’ve won their last two games and they are up in the top six quite easily, but if we come away from there with the three points it will set us up quite nicely for the last two games. We’ll do everything we can to get the points and come away with a win.”
Injury has not been kind to Mrdja who, during four and a half seasons with the Mariners has played just over 40 games due to various knee and quad problems. Finally back to full fitness, the big striker says his best football is ahead of him. “It’s the best the knee has felt in the last five years since I’ve had the issues,” he said. “It’s finally all coming together and finally I’m getting a bit of strength in my leg and it’s definitely paying off on the field. I think without a doubt my best football is going to be in front of me. This is the sharpest I’ve been feeling in the last couple of seasons … the body is feeling good, better than ever.”
Out of contract at seasons’ end, Mrdja knows all too we that his career is coming to the crossroads. “'This situation will happen to every footballer in their career, and that’s where I’ve found myself right now,” he said. “There’s pressure from everywhere. I’ve got pressure to keep my spot, to score, to get a new contract and to help the team win but I don’t mind that. 'You often find it brings out the best in you. But at the same time, it’s nice to know that you’re secure with a contract, and that allows you to relax and go out with nothing in your head except a total focus on the game. I don’t have that luxury at the moment. These next few weeks are very big for me. They’ll probably show what type of person I am.”
Yet to be offered a new deal, Mrdja makes no secret of his desire to stay on at the Mariners beyond this season and repay both the clubs and their supporters faith. “There's no one out there in the whole league who’s hungrier than me, to be honest. I’ve missed out on a lot of football, and this is my big opportunity,” he said. “It’s always been my goal to kick on (with the Mariners) and feel as if I’ve contributed more than what I have in the last five years. I feel as though in the last five years I haven’t put in enough to walk away from here and be happy. At the same time if I could secure something just to show the fans and everybody that I’m really dedicated and want to stay and do the job for them, it’d be nice.”
LINCOLN KEEN ON KEEPING HERD
Lincoln City vice president Bob Dorrian has vowed to "move heaven and earth" to lure midfielder Chris Herd to Sincil Bank during the English off-season. Herd looks set to leave Aston Villa when his contract expires in June and, after scoring in Lincoln's 2-1 win against Bradford City on the weekend, Dorrian says the Imps will join the chase for the 20-year old's signature. "He is an exceptional player and the manager Chris Sutton rates him very, very highly indeed," Dorrian told the 'Lincolnshire Echo'. "You only have to look at the energy and drive he has brought to the midfield and he was exceptional against Bradford on Saturday. We are certainly aware of his situation and I can assure you, he is somebody we want to sign on a permanent contract. In fact, we will move heaven and earth to try and bring him here, but I don't think it will be easy because there are already a number of clubs watching him."
FLAGGING OFFICIALS (by Ashley Morrison, Not the Footy Show)
Last Friday’s A-League game between Perth Glory and Wellington Phoenix, in which fifth played sixth, was officiated by New South Wales referee Ryan Shepheard. There is no doubt that this referee has talent, as we have witnessed in the National Youth League games that he has officiated, but was he the right man for such a pressure game? The answer is quite clearly no.
Both coaches have criticised Shepheard as far as they can venture without being censured by the FFA, who do not like to have their officials analysed. The players, who at whatever level you play want consistency, became frustrated by his inconsistent stopping of play and admit that, at times, their frustration understandably boiled over.
Shepeard’s booking of Manny Muscat twice and not sending the Wellington defender from the field baffled many around the ground. Then word filtered through that the first yellow card had been withdrawn at half time. This was in itself rare, but when all heard that Tim Brown had been booked and not Vince Lia - who was involved in the challenge that Muscat had been booked for - there were more furrowed brows.
Shepheard then bottled it when faced with whether he should issue returning former Perth Glory striker Eugene Dadi for a studs-up challenge on Jacob Burns. This decision showed to most in the crowd and on the pitch that he had lost control. As Perth Glory coach Dave Mitchell stated, “His decisions did not effect the outcome of the game, although they were ‘funny’.”
One person who had an excellent night was referees assistant Matthew Cheeseman. Fox Sports replays showed that every single offside call that he made, no matter how marginal, was 100% correct. This young man is without doubt one of the best referees in the WA State League, yet the FFA does not promote him. Why not?
What we are saying here that a more experienced referee should have handled such a crucial match for both teams and they would have had a stronger grip on controlling the passion on the park. We are also asking that if a referees assistant - such as Cheeseman - can do such an exemplary job, when are the FFA going to reward such talent and give him a match to officiate.
STERJOVSKI OFFERED CHINA DEAL
Perth Glory striker Mile Sterjovski is set to leave the A-League club after receiving a offer to go on loan to Chinese Super League outfit Shandong Luneng. Desperate to keep his World Cup dream alive, Sterjovski will weigh up his options in the next 48 hours, with the loan deal running from 1 February through to 31 May. Glory chief executive Paul Kelly confirmed the club had given Sterjovski the green light to leave the club to enhance his World Cup prospects. It’s a position in stark contrast to that of Sydney FC, who have barred their players from leaving before the end of the A-League season.
With Glory still in the hunt for a top-four finish, Kelly said Sterjovski was torn between his loyalty towards the club and the lure of another World Cup. “The club’s viewpoint is we’ll support Mile and any of the players involved in Socceroos action with whatever they do,” Kelly said. “If that means Mile has to go on transfer that’s fine. When we signed the Socceroos we knew this could be the case and we will support them right through that. He wants to play in the greatest event on Earth so you can’t blame the lad. If that was me I’d be trying to get the best possible outcome for myself playing in a World Cup.”
NEW SEASON NTC SQUAD ANNOUNCED
Football West is delighted to announce the 2010 National Training Centre squad. Coach Kenny Lowe, a former England semi-professional international and winner of the 1986 Gold Medal, has been working with his forty player squad since October and is looking forward to his fourth year at the helm. Thirty-two players have been awarded Full Scholarships and will train under Lowe four times a week and play exclusively for the NTC in the State League Reserves competition. An additional eight players will train two or three times a week with the NTC and are free to train and play for their local club as Associate Scholarship holders.
The 2010 NTC Full Scholarship Holders are Nick Ambrogio, Daniel Buhagiar, Alex Castiello, Jacob Collard, Kieran Colwell, Savo Cubrilo, Matthew Davies, Daniel Dols, Tim Doyle, Scott Galloway, Hanafi Ghazali, Byron Hudson, Matthew Izzo, Aleksandar Jovic, Nyakeh Junior, Tom King, Jesse Makarounas, James Marocchi, Joseph Moseray, Sahr Musa, Albert Ngeyo, Harry O’Brien, Brandon O’Neill, Sabit Oyet, Adrian Petroski, Callum Richardson, Storm Roux, Ivan Skorich, Francis Soale, Slobodan Vulin, Steven Walmsley and Riley Woodcock. The NTC Associate Scholarship Holders are Leo Athanasiou, Daniel DeSilva, Jordan Franken, Ben Hombert, Billy Jones, Matthew Ntoumenopoulos, Luke Radonich and Calvin Whitney.
COACH BACKS BORO’S JONES TO BOUNCE BACK
Middlesbrough goalkeeping coach Steve Pears insists Brad Jones will bounce back from the disappointment of losing his first team place. Jones has not played since just before Christmas but remain in full training with Boro despite requesting a loan move away from the club last week. “Brad is very disappointed to be left out. He was a little bit unfortunate with the way things went,” Pears told the ‘Evening Gazette’. “He’s a top quality keeper and he will be back, whether it is here or somewhere else, and he will show what a good keeper he is.”
Pears reckons Jones is coping with the frustration of being the current third choice behind Danny Coyne and Jason Steele. “Brad is tough. He’s thick skinned, but then he has had to be at times,” he said. “He’s been here a long time. It was difficult for him being number two to Mark Schwarzer for such a long time, but he has always responded to situations in the right manner. I’ve had Brad since he was 16. Over a long period of time like this, you know exactly what people can do and what they are capable of.”
NEW BOYS HAVE GLORY ON COURSE FOR HOME FINAL
Defender Chris Coyne believes recent success and the addition of new signings Daniel McBreen and Steven McGarry can spur Perth Glory to claim fourth spot on the A-League table and set up a home final. Coyne, whose proposed move to China has fallen through, said successive wins over Adelaide United and Wellington Phoenix had provided the impetus for a late charge into fourth place. Glory climbed to fifth with Friday night’s 2-0 win over Phoenix, a result secured by first half goals from McBreen and local hero Todd Howarth.
A home win against Central Coast Mariners this Sunday would all but assure Glory of a first ever A-League finals appearance. “I think we’ve got to push on and get fourth now,” Coyne told Jonathon Cook of the ‘West Australian’ newspaper. “We’ve got six points from the last nine and I think the two new boys have been a breath of fresh air with the energy they’ve brought in.” Coyne had been on the brink of securing a loan move to Shandong Luneng but has learned the club have decided against offering a contract. Glory will also have Adriano Pellegrino available for the rest of the season after the midfielder decided against heading to Scotland for a trial with Celtic.
NEW BOYS HAVE GLORY ON COURSE FOR HOME FINAL
RUKAVYTSYA AT THE DOUBLE
A second half double by Nikita Rukavytsya has propelled KSV Roeselare to a 4-1 defeat of Lokeren and out of the regelation spot. 22-year old Rukavytsya, playing on loan from Dutch club FC Twente, snared himself two goals inside five minutes over night to move Roeselare off the foot of the Belgian Pro-League table. Roeselare went into the break one-nil up courtesy of Bertin Tomou’s 24th minutes strike. The second half was eleven minutes old when Rukavytsya calmly tucked the ball away after being set-up by Tomou, and shortly increased the visitors lead by blasting Joeri Dequevy’s pass into the roof of the net. Rukavytsya was given a deserved early rest on 66 minutes, with Lokeren pulling one back before Dequevy sealed the three points.
GLORY BRING DOWN THE PHOENIX
A maiden A-League finals appearance is one step closer for Perth Glory after last night’s spiteful 2-0 win over Wellington Phoenix at ME Bank Stadium. First half goals from Daniel McBreen and Todd Howarth secured all three points for Glory, moving the side into fifth spot on the table. “I’m just so pleased for the players, the last week has been so punishing on the players. What’s happened this week must not happen again,” said coach David Mitchell, in reference to Glory’s third game in six days. The result saw Glory leapfrog over Phoenix and put themselves six-points clear of seventh-placed Central Coast Mariners with only a couple of rounds to play.
It was a must win game for both sides and it was Glory that threatened in the opening minute when Jukic threaded a delightful pass in to McBreen but goalkeeper Liam Reddy saved saved at his feet. The visitors settled and went close for the first time on 10 minutes, Tim Brown firing wide from a Paul Ifill cross. Glory got the all-important first goal on 22 minutes, Steven McGarry played out wide to Naum Sekulovski whose superb cross allowed McBreen to touch the ball clear of a couple of opponents before neatly slotting into the bottom corner.
With the game getting a bit overly physical, referee Ryan Shepheard stamped his authority on proceedings by issuing a number of yellow cards. Phoenix were fortunate not to go down a man following Eugene Dadi’s crude challenge on Glory captain Jacob Burns just moments after the striker was booked. The visitors were enjoying a good share of possession and on the half hour Ifill cut inside Jamie Coyne but his shot lacked direction. Four minutes out from the break Glory doubled their lead, Jamie Coyne’s tidy one-two with McGarry got him deep down the right before sending in a tantalising back post cross which Howarth half-volleyed in from 6-metres.
Glory went close to a third in the 50th minute when McBreen raced onto an Andy Todd clearance but his 16-metres shot was saved low by Reddy. Phoenix lifted and Tando Velaphi kept out a Troy Hearfield’s effort, then ten minutes later Brown headed wide at close-range when unmarked. Scott Bulloch’s 70th minute foul on Hearfield resulted in a penalty for the visitors, however, their chances of pulling a goal back were dashed as Dadi’s weak effort was scooped up by Velaphi. The crowd of 9,368 should have been celebrating on 84 minutes by McBreen blazed high after getting on the end of a flowing move that involved McGarry and Mile Sterjovski.
INTERNATIONAL CHALLENGE PLAYERS IN LINE FOR STATE HONOURS
Strong performances during the recent International Challenge have resulted in State team trials for over two dozen teenage players. State coach David Butterfield and his assistant Darren Young were impressed with the high standard of play throughout last weekend's four-team tournament. "It was extremely beneficial for me to be able to see these players in action under competitive circumstances, and both I and Darren were extremely impressed with the standard shown across the board," said Butterfield.
The West Australia Under-13 team travels to Canberra in April to line-up at the National Junior Championships. "The National Junior Championships will be a fantastic opportunity for our talented players to play for their State in a national tournament and in the process put themselves in the shop window for national selection," added Butterfield. "I'm really looking forward to seeing the players grab this opportunity with both hands."
Those players identified for State honours are Dion Muscara (Balcatta), Thomas Bayes, Milan Ognjenovic, Jordan Pokler (Cockburn City), Geremy Fatouros, Steve Kantor, Syakir Shariff, Michael Wantee (Floreat Athena), Jordan Kelly, Zeno Valenti (Geraldton), Ben Johns, Brody Kennedy, Ross Millard, Scott Robertson, Ciaran Salinger, Damien Simic, Daniel Stynes, Brandon Wilson, Jordan Young (ECU Joondalup), David Molinari, Joel Driscoll (Perth SC), Imran Sulaiman (Port Headland), Luke Vittiglia (Sorrento), Callum Dobbs (South West Phoenix), Mitchell Broom, Callum Simmonds, Alex Tanevski, Ryan Williams (Stirling Lions) and Luke Coltman (Westside).
BURNS IN DOUBT FOR PHOENIX CLASH
Perth Glory captain Jacob Burns is in doubt for tonight's A-League block buster against Wellington Phoenix at ME Bank Stadium. Burns has pulled up sore after his heroic two-goal effort against Adelaide United on Tuesday and coach David Mitchell is not sure if the midfielder will be ready for action. "I don't know. The team won't be picked until one hour before the game," said Mitchell, adding there are as many as ten Glory players struggling to be fit for their third game in six days. "There are a lot of players that are hurting with the punishing schedule but they are focused and if they play they will be okay."
With four games left before finals time, tonight's showdown is vital both teams. Glory are sixth and Phoenix fifth, so victory will take one team to within touching distance of finals football. "I think the players realise what the situation is," commented Mitchell. "We've got a fantastic opportunity, we're playing at home, we're strong at home but Wellington are a good side. I always said if Wellington makes the World Cup they'd get on a run and that's exactly what's happened." Adding to the intrigue is the return to Perth of striker Eugene Dadi, who has scored three times in two games for Phoenix since being released by Glory only a few weeks back.
The match will see both teams wear specially designed Come Play! shirts in support of Australia's FIFA World Cup bid in 2018 and 2022. "I think the FFA have put in a great effort with the bid. All Hyundai A-League players are right behind it and we are urging all Australians to get behind the bid as well," said Glory striker Mile Sterjovski. "I think the whole world has noticed Australia's bid and I believe we have a great chance to bring the World Cup, the greatest sporting event to our country. What an honour it would be to have the World Cup in Australia." Glory takes on Phoenix tonight at ME Bank Stadium from 7.00pm.
EDWARDS STAR IS ON THE RISE
Teenager Cameron Edwards has certainly come of age over the past twelve months. Edwards, 17, last year cemented himself as a first team regular at Cockburn City, donned the green and gold of Australia for the first time before landing a place in the Perth Glory Youth team. “A lot happened last year, with the honour of playing for your country it turned out to be a very good season,” said Edwards. “Being coached by Mirco (Jelicic) in my debut season with Cockburn was great, he’s an experienced and intelligent coach. Scotty (Miller) joined later, I’ve known him for a long time and get along with him very well, he’s a very good coach and he brings out the best in players.”
Edwards on the ball talents were recognised at national team level in August when selected in the Next Socceroos squad that finished second at the ASEAN Football Federation Under-19 Youth Championship. “Getting the call-up was unexpected but I was very happy and honoured, it was a great thrill putting on the Australian strip and representing your country,” said Edwards, whose father, Alistair, made 22 ‘A’ appearance for Australia. “We played in the ASEAN Championships against teams like Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand. It was an amazing experience and to play against different teams and players, in a new environment was special. We had a good tournament and finished second after losing on penalties in the final to Thailand.”
Edwards has honed his skills over the summer months with Glory Youth, where he’s coached by club legend Gareth Naven. “The side is doing really well at the moment, we’ve been top of the league and are playing some good football,” commented Edwards, who has turned in some sparkling performances for the team. “To be able to travel around the country to play against the best youth players and often A-League senior players is challenging and a great experience. It’s been a whole team effort to get where we are and at different stages in the season different players have stood out and done the part for the side, which is good as we don’t rely on certain players every game.”
It all bodes well for Edwards to one day follow in the footsteps of his father, whose professional career included spells in Scotland, England and Malaysia as well as Australia. But for the time being he’s focusing on doing the job at hand for Glory Youth and, hopefully, that will lead to another call-up for Australia. “The national coaches are always watching the games so I have to try and do my best in the Youth League and hope to get selected,” Edwards said. “I spoke to Young Socceroos coach Jan Versleijen after we played the AIS (last month), who knows what will happen next, one thing for sure is I will always stay positive.”
WILLIAMS AIMS FOR THE TOP
Rhys Williams admits relegation helped catapult him into the first team frame - but he can't wait to help get Middlesbrough back into the Premier League. The tough-tackling 21-year old says that while dropping down to the Championship was a huge blow for the club, it also presented him with his big break. "Getting relegated is obviously a big loss but at the end of the day it's turned out as a blessing in disguise for me," he said. "I've come into the team, done well and kept my spot."
Williams, who played for ECU Joondalup prior to entering Middlesbrough's academy system in 2005, rose to prominence towards the end of last season while on loan to Burnley. He played a key role in the Claret's promotion via the play-offs and would love to repeat the feat with ‘Boro this time around. "We haven't stopped believing yet," he insisted. "There's still a long way to go and we all believe we can do it."
Injury has forced Williams out of the reckoning in recent weeks but he hopes to get back amongst the action sooner rather than later. "I'm struggling with a pelvis injury but I shouldn't be too much longer, a couple of weeks hopefully," he said. "I've been playing on it (the injury) six to seven weeks now and it's got gradually worse. The gaffer said he needed me, so I kept playing. Now he's bought in some fresh men and he's got players to cover."
While his main focus is on domestic glory with his club, Williams also has one eye on next summer's World Cup finals in South Africa, where he could be one of Middlesbrough's few representatives. "I never take my spot for granted here or in the Aussie squad, so anything that happens now is a real bonus," he said. Williams, a youth international for Wales, switched his allegiance to Australia last June and has since played at senior level against Japan, the Republic or Ireland and Oman.
STERJOVSKI MAY SEE SEASON OUT WITH GLORY
With time fast running out to secure an overseas loan deal, Socceroos winger Mile Sterjovski may be forced to compromise his World Cup dreams and play out the A-League season with Perth Glory. Sterjovski was keen to leave the Glory during this month's transfer window on a short-term deal with an overseas club, however, the 30-year old said he was still in limbo and open to offers. "I'm more than happy to play out the season here and make the finals and keep playing until it finishes," said Sterjovski, whose resume includes stints in France, Switzerland, Turkey, England and Australia. "Then when that situation comes about I can maybe head back to Europe and as a worst case scenario I would consider going back to a few of my old clubs in Europe and training for six or seven weeks." Sterjovski's club mates Chris Coyne and Jacob are also hoping to secure overseas loan deals in order to keep their prospects of making the World Cup squad alive.
INTERNATIONAL TOURNAMENT A HUGE HIT
The inaugural International Challenge tournament has been deemed a roaring success. Played over the weekend, the four-game junior competition was won by Metropolitan Select Blue, who edged out Metropolitan Select White on goal difference. Ross Millard (Metro Blue) was voted the tournament's Best and Fairest player with the Golden Boot Award shared by Milan Ognjenovic (Metro Blue) and Ryan Williams (Metro White), who each netted five times.
Tournament organiser and Andrew Bettell was pleased with the way the weekend panned out. "It was a great experience for these young players to test their skills against an international team such as Malaysia, and it was fantastic to see the friendships formed between the boys in all four teams," he said. "I am looking forward to seeing the tournament develop and grow in the coming years, and we will be working hard to develop the format and include more international teams in the future."
INJURY GIVES YOUNG CAUSE FOR CONCERN
Goalkeeper Neil Young fears he may have played his last game for Newcastle Jets. The 30-year-old rookie will undergo surgery to repair a broken nose on Friday, after which he faces at least three weeks on the sidelines. Out of contact at seasons' end, Young should be back in time for the A-League finals, but his chances of a recall hinge on the form of Ben Kennedy, who marked his return to the starting side with a clean sheet against Brisbane Roar on Saturday. "It's not the best time to be out injured," Young told theherald.com.au. "Three weeks is pretty much the end of the season, so it doesn't look like I will play again this year. I have got contract talks as well. It's fair to say I'm a bit down at the moment."
A courageous smothering save at the feet of Gold Coast United striker Shane Smeltz last Wednesday left Young with five fractures of his nose. "It just looks like the whole nose has been shifted to the side," Young said. "I'm not too concerned about my looks, but I'm having trouble breathing through one side of my nose. There is a slight blockage where the nose is twisted. The operation is to straighten it up and remove the blockage. The worst thing is that I can't do anything for three weeks. If I get any sort of knock on it, whether it is from a ball or an elbow, I am back to square one."
Although the one-time State and Sorrento custodian has received interest from two other A-League clubs, his preference is to remain a Newcastle player. "Ideally, I would like to stay here, Newcastle gave me my chance. But because I am not playing now, if someone makes an offer, then I have to look at it seriously," he said. Young's wife and two sons are still living in Perth, but the gloveman said he had no intention of making a trip west during his time off. "I want to be around the club and the players and be as involved as much as I can," he said. "I will be working hard in the gym, and when I get the chance I want to be pushing BK to try and get my spot back."
JONES WANTS A FRESH START
Socceroo hopeful Brad Jones is on the verge of leaving Middlesbrough. Jones is understood to have approached manager Gordon Strachan seeking a loan move to keep him in the frame for a World Cup call-up. The 27-year old goalkeeper, who moved to the Riverside as a teenager in 1998, was heavily criticised by Boro supporters prior to being dropped from the first eleven shortly before Christmas and has recently been sidelined by injury.
SCALI ENJOYING HIS NEW ROLE WITH SWAN
After enjoying a stellar playing career with Swans United, recently retired striker Damian Scali is putting his experience back into the club as their new football development officer. Scali, who made over 250 appearances and scored in excess of 100 goals for the black and whites, hopes to fast-track the clubs talented youngsters into the senior set-up. "At the moment it's all about planning for the season ahead," said Scali. "I'm going to rely on many people to help to get the development of players at the club working as it should be. The club are lucky to have Nick Edwards and some great coaches who have been amazing in their dedication to getting this process up and moving."
Scali says the partnership of State League outfit Swan IC and junior club Swan Districts, which has just entered its second year, is blossoming. "To have over 450 kids playing under the same logo as the seniors can only be an advantage," said Scali. "We've started to bring some of the junior players into the senior set-up with our under 18's. Hopefully one day we can say the first team is purely made up of players who have come through our system. As a club we are never going to be in the position to buy a league winning team, however, we may be able to do it through the juniors, which when it comes it will be even sweeter."
LOWRY TO REMAIN A VILLAIN
Plymouth Argyle manager Paul Mariner has confirmed a request to re-sign Shane Lowry on loan has been knocked back by Aston Villa. Lowry recently completed a three-month loan spell at Home Park, putting in a series of standout performances during his 13 match stay. Mariner was keen to bring the young defender back to the Championship strugglers, however, those hopes were scuppered by Villa, who are chasing silverware on three fronts. “We have had some communication with Villa, and they have a lot of games coming up,” Mariner told ‘the Herald’. “We have been told they are really not looking to let people go out (on loan). That’s quite understandable.”
BURNS’ DOUBLE HAS ADELAIDE SEEING RED
Perth Glory overturned a two-goal deficit to defeat Adelaide United 3-2 in a pulsating A-League encounter at Hindmarsh Stadium this evening. Things were looking bleak for Glory after Lucas Pantelis and Travis Dodd opened up a handy lead, however, the game took a dramatic turn after a controversial red card to Adelaide’s Iain Fyfe. Glory captain Jacob Burns led his teams’ revival with a double with Daniel McBreen bagging the winner thirteen minutes from the end. Coach David Mitchell said the 61st minute incident that saw Fyfe exit the game was obviously a key. “I was very upset with the second goal because I thought we’d lost the game, Adelaide don’t concede many goals at home,” he said. “But we were brave enough to make some changes and got back in the game. The send-off obviously helped us and then we scored from the free-kick … It was great character and a great team performance.”
Adelaide began strong and with just a couple of minutes gone Mathew Leckie forced an instinctive low save from Tando Velaphi. Eight minutes later Leckie stole possession from Chris Coyne and crossed to Pantelis who should have done much better than blaze high at 5-metres. Pantelis made amends in the 13th minute when his cross drifted over the Glory goalkeeper and into the net via the far post. Cheered on by a crowd of 8,904, Adelaide’s push for a second goal saw Fabian Barbiero flashed just wide while a long-range attempt by Pantelis was tipped away by Velaphi. Glory slowly worked their way back into the game and on 32 minutes created their first genuine chance, Burns rifled just high as did Adriano Pellegrino before Eugene Galekovic saved well a Todd Howarth header.
It was more of the same after the turnaround, Jamie Coyne calling Galekovic into action and two minutes later Mark Rudan cleared a Howarth shot off the line. It appeared only a matter of time before Glory drew level when, on 54 minutes, Dodd raced clear to beat Velaphi after he’d caught Jamie Coyne in possession. A sloppy foul by Fyfe seven minutes later on Mile Sterjovski was punished by referee Ben Williams, who issued the big defender his marching orders. And Burns added insult to injury by curling the resulting free-kick around the defensive wall and into the top corner. The introduction of Andrija Jukic and Branko Jelic had immediate effect for Glory, the formers first touch having Galekovic at full stretch. Jukic featured again on 68 minutes, playing a tidy one-two on top of the 18-yard box with Burns who made no mistake in bringing the teams level.
Glory, with the benefit of an extra player, were now finding a lot of holes in the home defence. Jelic combined with Jukic whose crisp strike was superbly kept out by Galekovic. The visitors dominance was rewarded on 77 minutes when Howarth picked out Jelic, his flick into the box found McBreen who outpaced Rudan then expertly snuck the ball past Galekovic from a tight angle. It was now Adelaide whose season was on the line and on 82 minutes Leckie drove his team into attack before delivering a cross that was just beyond Dodd’s each. Soon after Dodd got on the end of a Pantelis free-kick but his header was saved by Velaphi. With their frustration growing, Adelaide went down to nine men with the final minutes dismissal of Pantelis for a second bookable offence. Glory remains in sixth spot after the win, four points ahead of Central Coast Mariners.
NAVEN HAPPY DESPITE RUNNING RUN COMING TO AN END
Perth Glory Youth coach Gareth Naven has praised his teams performance, despite going down 2-1 to Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium. The next generation of Glory stars looked like extending their remarkable unbeaten streak with ten minutes courtesy of Tommy Amphlett’s strike early in the first half. However, the dismissal of Anthony Skorich turned a tight game with Francesco Monterosso scoring twice for the home team. “The boys were fantastic and they played really good football. If it was a decision on who played the best football, Perth Glory certainly did,” Naven said. “Obviously with a man down it’s a lack of discipline and it’s not acceptable. It’s a telling factor when you lose a player. It’s not ten yards you need to cover it’s thirty yards each player has to cover and that does have an effect.”
After a goalless first half, Amphlett opening the scoring when he broke through the Reds offside trap to strike the ball across Mark Birighitti from 9-metres. Amphlett was a handful for Adelaide all afternoon, forcing Birighitti into a number of fine saves. Skorich was issued his marching orders on the hour and suddenly the Reds were back in the game. With ten minutes remaining an unmarked Robert Cornthwaite lobbed his header goalward with Monterosso bundling the ball over the line. Glory’s nine game unbeaten run came to an end four minutes into stoppage time when Monterosso rammed in from an acute angle to steal a fortuitous victory.
BATTLING GLORY ON RED ALERT
Perth Glory can bounce back from their weekend battering by resisting a desperate Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium tonight, according to under-fire coach David Mitchell. "It's their last roll of the dice so they will be throwing everything at us and we have to be prepared for that," Mitchell told Jonathon Cook of the 'West Australian' newspaper. "You want to win every game and that's what we'll be trying to do but we don't want to lose it. If we get a draw, it won't be a bad result."
A win against Adelaide will take Glory four points clear of seventh placed Central Coast Mariners with only three regular season games to play. "It's a massive game for both clubs," said Mitchell, who is considering changes to the team which was so comprehensively thrashed by Melbourne Victory. "I'm still looking at options. I haven't decided the team yet and I'm going to wait until tomorrow before making a decision."
One option available to Mitchell is handing an A-League debut to new signing Steven McGarry, whose clearance has come through from Scottish club Motherwell. "I'm not sure if he can last a full game so I have to have a look at it," Mitchell said. "He was bitterly disappointed he wasn't cleared for the Melbourne game and it's vital we've got him for this one, even if he's just on the bench." Anything less than maximum points will virtually finish off Adelaide's slender finals chances.
SAGE CONFIDENT OF FINALS FOOTBALL
Perth Glory owner Tony Sage is backing his team to qualify for the A-League finals, despite Saturday's embarrassing thrashing from Melbourne Victory. Sage watched from the stands as Glory hit rock bottom, the 6-2 loss their biggest in A-League history. Sage, though, remains confident the team can get the results required over the last five games of the season to make the play-off series. "No panic stations," he said. "Mathematically it's easily possible. The finals are in our own destiny. And the players still believe they can do it." The position of David Mitchell is far from assured with Sage reiterating a place in the finals is a must for the coach to be retained for another season.
WORLD CUP CAUSING MITCHELL PROBLEMS
Perth Glory coach David Mitchell concedes the difficulty of juggling his players' World Cup ambitions with Perth Glory's aim to reach the A-League finals. Chris Coyne, Jacob Burns and Mile Sterjovski are chasing loan deals with overseas clubs during the January transfer window in order to keep alive their World Cup dreams. Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek has made it clear A-League stars not playing regularly after the domestic season won't be considered for South Africa - that means some players could leave their clubs before the finals.
Coyne was in China last week speaking with Super League club Shandong Luneng. Mitchell said the defender's travels affected his performance in Glory's big loss to Melbourne Victory on the weekend. "With Chris going away it probably affected him in this game, it was there for all to see," said Mitchell, who replaced Coyne late in the first half. "It's a situation where we knew about that and it's not easy to coach or manage or whatever, and there's nothing come through for the players yet, so that's in the air. We've just got to deal with that when it happens." Glory's terrible showing in Melbourne left them clinging to sixth spot, and in need of a quick rebound for Tuesday's game at Adelaide United.
GLORY YOUTH SHARE THE POINTS WITH MELBOURNE
Perth Glory Youth stretched their unbeaten run to nine games with this afternoon’s thrilling 1-1 draw with Melbourne Victory at Epping Sports Centre. A stunning 25-metre strike by Marvin Angulo gave the home team the lead just after half time only to have Anthony Skorich equalise six minutes later with a powerful header after. Coach Gareth Naven was happy with his team’s second half performance, which keeps them on top of the National Youth League table. “I walked in the change room and they were disappointed which is good, because they want more and they want to learn more,” he said. “A part of their learning process is winning so they are creating their own standard each week.”
In a lively game, both sides attacked at every opportunity with Melbourne carving out the better chances in the first half but were foiled on more than one occasion by goalkeeper Aleks Vrteski. Wingers Mate Dugandzic and Aziz Behich provided the hosts with plenty of run, linking well striker partners Nathan Elasi and Tedros Yabio. Tommy Amphlett thought he’d given Glory Youth the lead when he netted from Ludovic Boi’s superb diagonal pass only for his effort to be ruled out for offside. The interval was only moments away when Glen Trifiro played through to Amphlett, who timed his run to perfection but shot against the post.
Naven switched his team’s formation for the second half to great effect, Skorich and Boi both forcing good saves from Glen Moss. But it was Melbourne who hit the front on 49 minutes when Marvin Angulo’s long-range effort gave Vrteski no chance. Glory Youth’s response was near-immediate, Skorich finding a way past Moss with a clinical header from a Trifiro corner. There was no let up from either side with both guilty of missing late opportunities to secure all three points. Amphlett forced a double save from Moss on 62 minutes, while late on neither Elasi’s header nor substitute Antonio La Verde’s close range backheel could settle the game.
PATCHY PITCH IRKS GLORY COACH
Perth Glory wanted yesterday’s A-League game against Melbourne Victory cancelled due to the patchy surface at Etihad Stadium. Coach David Mitchell confirmed he had concerns for the safety of his players because of a long strip of patchy, dry turf that ran the full length of the pitch, next to the goals at either end. “We didn’t want the game to go ahead,” commented Mitchell, who said referee Stebre Delovski was also worried about the pitch before the game. “It’s the spectacle of the game and also the players, due care for the players. It could cause a serious injury in that state. Fortunately it didn’t. That was it - injury for the players, that was the major concern because you’ve got a duty of care and welfare for the players and that’s not acceptable to play at the highest standard in Australian football.”
ERROR-RIDDLED GLORY THRASHED IN MELBOURNE
Perth Glory has been left clinging to sixth place on the A-League table following arguable their worse performance of the season, a 6-2 thrashing from Melbourne Victory. The 20,448-strong crowd at Etihad Stadium went home delighted as Young Socceroo Robbie Kruse bagged a half hat-trick with Archie Thompson, captain Kevin Muscat and Carlos Hernandez also getting on the scoresheet. And the final margin could have been much greater had it not been for Glory custodian Tando Velaphi, who on several occasions came to his teams rescue. “We’re bitterly disappointed with some elementary defending and some mistakes that we made, that we’ve got to be better at. That just wasn’t acceptable,” said coach David Mitchell.
The Glory defence was in disarray in the first half and Melbourne was quick to take advantage. Four minutes were on the clock when Hernandez was afforded far too much space to steer a pass in to Thompson, who expertly angled his shot past Velaphi. The margin was doubled eight minutes later when an error by Chris Coyne gifted possession to Hernandez, he flicked the ball on for Kruse to race clear of the defence and fire low into the net. It was one-way traffic and only Velaphi’s smart reaction denied Hernandez Melbourne’s third. So it was very much against the run of play that Glory hit back on 20 minutes, Jacob Burns’ corner was flicked on by Jamie Harnwell and Rodrigo Vargas had the misfortune of deflecting the ball into his own net.
Melbourne quickly moved on and six minutes later scored one of the team goals of the season. It started with Nick Ward hammering a long pass out of to Thompson, he quickly moved the ball on to Tom Pondeljak who raced down the right to deliver a superb cross which Kruse turned in at close-range. The home side club should have added another soon after, Thompson sending Hernandez clear of the defence but again Velaphi was able to negate the danger. A dreadful mistake by Jamie Coyne gifted Melbourne their fourth, the defender’s failure to connect with an optimistic Vargas pass allowing Kruse to complete his hat-trick in a one-on-one with Velaphi.
It was more of the same in the second half and five minutes after the re-start Hernandez’s had a goalbound shot blocked by Andy Todd. Two minutes later Glory snuck back into the game, Mile Sterjovski rifling low into Mitchell Langerak’s net after seizing on possession in his own half and going on a mazy run that took him to the edge of the 18-yard box. This breathed new life into the visiting side and four minutes later Sterjovski placed straight at Langerak after being found by a Daniel McBreen header. Glory created another opening on 72 minutes via a long ball from Todd which picked out substitute Scott Bulloch, whose first time shot was superbly kept out by Langerak with McBreen’s follow-up header blocked by Vargas.
On 74 minutes Thompson played through to Kruse and again Velaphi was Glory’s saviour by bravely smother at the striker’s feet. Although two-goals down, Glory refused to concede defeat, Todd Howarth sent the ball down the left to Bulloch whose cross was met by McBreen but he disappointingly fired high from 5-metres. The result was put beyond doubt in the 79th minute when Jacob Burns clipped Thompson’s ankle inside the area, leading referee Strebre Delovski to point straight at the spot from there Muscat duly converted. Three minutes later Glory were all at sea defensively as Marvin Angulo and Hernandez combined with the latter firing in to complete a comprehensive 6-2 victory.
SCOTLAND CALLS PELLEGRINO
Midfielder Adriano Pellegrino will fly overseas shortly in pursuit of a dream move to the Scottish Premier League. 25-year old Pellegrino, Perth Glory’s player of the year last season, is scheduled to trial with Glasgow giant Celtic and has also attracted interest from Motherwell. Glory owner Tony Sage revealed interest in Pellegrino, saying the club wouldn’t stand in his way of a move but asked for trials to be delayed until after this Friday’s home clash with Wellington Phoenix. “He’s asked if he can go on trial and we’ve said yes but it has to fit our time frame,” Sage said. “They had wanted him over this week but he would’ve missed three games so we said no. Now he’s scheduled to go after the Wellington (Phoenix) game.” Should Pellegrino not land a deal in Scotland, he will be expected back in time for Glory’s 31 January game with Central Coast Mariners.
MASSIVE MATCH FOR GLORY
Perth Glory coach David Mitchell is keeping his selection cards close to his chest ahead of Saturday’s important away game with Melbourne Victory. With Branko Jelic, the club’s leading goal scorer, back from injury and new recruits Steven McGarry and Daniel McBreen both available, Mitchell is not sure who’ll line-up come kick-off. “I haven’t decided who will play yet,” Mitchell said as Glory departed for the east coast. “The good thing is when you bolster your squad, its competition for places which can only be positive.”
Experienced defender Chris Coyne will re-join his team mates in Melbourne after spending the week in China where he’s hoping to secure a contract with Super League club Shandong Luneng. “He’s used to flying and he’ll be part of our squad for the game. He’s a hard nut and he’s bullet proof when it comes to that,” commented Mitchell. Dutch import Viktor Sikora and midfielder Wayne Srhoj have both travelled with the squad but will not be considered for Saturday’s clash, instead the pair could take to the field in Tuesday’s match at Adelaide United.
Mitchell is cautious of a Victory side, although placed third, has lost on their last two outings. “At home, it will be a big crowd for the Victory and I’m pretty sure they’ll be up for it because they’ve lost second spot and they’ll want to retain,” said Mitchell, whose team can consolidate themselves as a top five candidate by claiming the three points on offer. “The race is on for them now, and for us it’s a real important game to establish ourselves as a contender, and there is no better game than Melbourne to prove a point.”
GLORY YOUTH RARING FOR ROAD DOUBLE
The return of influential midfielder Hayden Doyle has provided Perth Glory Youth a timely boost as they embark on a gruelling road trip. The Glory youngsters go head-to-head with Melbourne Victory on Sunday before heading to Adelaide United for a Tuesday showdown. Doyle, who hasn’t played since January when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, is a massive inclusion for the squad that is looking to maintain an eight match unbeaten run. “It’s good to be training, being back on the ball and just playing football,” said the 20-year old. “I’ve missed it a lot so I’m feeling pretty good at the moment.”
Since undergoing an operation in July, Doyle has been involved in an intense rehabilitation program to get him back in the squad’s line-up. “It’s been a long, long process to come back but I’ve been setting myself short term goals which have made it a lot easier on me,” commented Doyle, who played at Stoke City and Niki Volou prior to signing with Glory in June 2008. “I started off in the pool and then I worked my way into walking and running again, then gradually built up to twisting and turning and then kicking the ball and playing.”
Doyle concedes it is difficult coming into a successful and established side but the midfielder is confident he can have a positive influence on the side. “It’s going to be hard coming back into a team that hasn’t lost a game in ten rounds and has won eight of those ten; they’re doing really well,” he said. “It’s going to be hard to get back in there but I’m confident that I can and I think after a couple of games I’ll definitely be an asset to the team. We’re all just really pumped for the next couple of games and confident we can get the wins and top the table.”
WE’VE IRONED OUT THE PROBLEMS: WARD
Nick Ward says Melbourne Victory has pinpointed the problem areas that contributed to successive losses and rectified them on the training track. Victory slipped down to third on the A-League table after going down to Gold Coast United and Newcastle Jets, however, Ward says coach Ernie Merrick hasn't reached for the panic button leading into Saturday's clash with Perth Glory. "He hasn't been savage, we just go through our normal routine," said Ward. "We have a meeting and go through the game just as we do with every other game and pick through the bits that we need to and go out on the track and fix it out there."
The Victory coaching have identified a number of areas relating to the Victory's tactical and physical preparation that had a major bearing on the team's recent losses. "Physically we weren't as sharp as we were in the Sydney game and mentally we didn't play right - as a team we didn't do it as a unit," he said. "And structurally we weren't sound enough, we were too stretched out. The defence was too deep and the forward line, probably we weren't closing down the right men and there was too much of a gap between us. That's where we were being picked apart. We'll definitely be making it right this weekend."
Ward is looking forward to meeting Glory, his former team, on Saturday but warns the visitors will be a handful. "I'm from Perth and personally I don't think I've played so well against them when we've gone and played in Perth which is something I want to make better," he said. "But it will be nice to play against my mates and beat them. I think it's good having the game in hand and especially with the three home games we've got (against Perth, Adelaide and Wellington). I don't think it adds pressure to us, we're still in amongst it. If we win our games at home, then we've got two games against the top two teams, there's every chance of us winning the league."
MRDJA FIT AND FIRING
Central Coast Mariner's marksman Nik Mrdja is starting to live up to his reputation as one of the best strikers in the country. Having battled injury for so long, things are finally turning in favour of Mrdja, who scored the Mariner's only goal in last week's home draw with North Queensland Fury. That result ended a run of five defeats for the Mariners and coach Lawrie McKinna is hoping for an encore performance from Mrdja when his side plays bottom of the table Adelaide United tonight. "Nik was outstanding last week," McKinna said. "I think it was just about the best he's ever played for the club. It wasn't just the goal, he held the ball up well and did a lot of work off the ball, he was excellent." Although unable to cement a regular place in the Mariners line-up this season Mrdja has still netted four goals, just two less than club leading scorer Matt Simon.
YOUNG TALENT ON SHOW
Guildford Grammar School is the venue for the inaugural International Challenge, which commences tomorrow and runs over the weekend. Football West will field three teams - two metropolitan, one regional - in the under-13 tournament with the visiting Arsenal Soccer School Malaysia providing an international flavour. "The International Challenge provides another step in the development pathway for both the metropolitan and the regional players," said Andrew Bettell, development manager at Football West. "Football West are looking forward to developing this tournament as an integral part in the yearly football calendar for young talented players."
The Metropolitan Select Blue squad features Thomas Bayes, Nick Cvijanovic, Milan Ognjenovic, Jordan Pokler (Cockburn City), Geremy Fatouras, Michael Wantee (Floreat Athena), Ben Johns, Brody Kennedy, Ross Millard, Daniel Stynes (ECU Joondalup), Michael Debellis (Mandurah City), David Molinari, Luka Ninkovic (Perth SC), Chase Hudson (Quinns), John Anderson (Rockingham City), Luke Vittiglia (Sorrento), Callum Simmonds (Stirling Lions) and Riaz Kelly (Subiaco).
The Metropolitan Select White squad consists of Dion Muscara (Balcatta), Steve Kantor, Syakir Shariff (Floreat Athena), Lee Halliday (Heathridge), Scott Robertson, Ciaran Salinger, Damien Simic, Brandon Wilson, Jordan Young (ECU Joondalup), Brandon Weston (Mandurah City), Tristan Colli, Joel Driscoll (Perth SC), Callum Dobbs, Ashley Smith (South West Phoenix), Mitchell Broom, Alex Tanevski, Ryan Williams (Stirling Lions) and Luke Coltman (Westside).
The Regional Select squad, selected following Country Week 2009, is made up of Lachlan Fehrman, Tristam Taylor (Albany), Kaleb Axisa, Kyle Gorman (Country Coastal), Adam Pearson (Esperence), Imran Sulaiman (Headland), Callum Jupp, Liam Kavcic, Jordan Kelly, Zeno Valenti (Geraldton), Jake Duncan, Byron Huxtable, Sebastian Wellstead (Goldfields), Josh Brown, Kellen Canna, Adam Fraser, Ryner Koster and Chris Massey (Leewin Naturaliste). For more information on the International Challenge, including fixtures and game times, visit the Football West website.
COLE WANDERS BACK INTO THE GARDEN
One-time Perth Glory defender Aaron Cole has re-joined State champions Perth SC for season 2010. A product of the Blues fertile youth system, Cole called Dorrien Gardens home for the first eight years of his senior career before opting for a change of scenery with Swan United in 2007. "I never left Dorrien Gardens on bad terms and the door has always been open for me to go back," he said. "I see Perth as the most professional club in the league and I still have several friends in the club, so I'm looking forward to next season."
Cole was been a pillar of strength in his three seasons with Swan, as evidenced by the back-to-back Fairest and Best trophies collected in 2008 and 2009. He says leaving the black and whites was one of the toughest decisions he's had to make in his successful State League career. "It was a very tough decision given I had made several friends and the club looked after me," Cole explained. "But after a great deal of thought the chance to return to the club where my football career began was too good to turn down."
With the new season just around the corner, Cole revealed he was approached by a number of clubs regarding his availability in 2010. "I was contacted by a few clubs but I was always going to play for either Perth or Swan." he said. "Like I said, it was a difficult decision to make and I spoke with Swan coach Paul Lincoln and was up front with my decision. I wished him and the club all the best next season and I'm looking forward to the challenge and a good injury-free year at Perth. Also, given Perth's winning nature, I'm looking forward to winning some trophies with the club, which would be great."
YOUNG'S RUN COMES TO AN END
A broken nose sustained in the mid-week loss to Gold Coast United looks to have ended Neil Young's eight-game run between the posts for Newcastle Jets. Young, who is eager to impress coach Branko Culina and earn a new contract, was left bloodied by a first half challenge from Shane Smeltz. "I thought it was a late tackle, I really thought it was a late challenge," said Culina. "It doesn't look good; if his (Neil's) wife saw him she wouldn't be too happy with him. He'll have some tests tomorrow but it doesn't look good."
SUTTIE HANGS UP HIS BOOTS
South West Phoenix legend Steve Suttie has slipped quietly into an early retirement. An integrate part of the Phoenix line-up over the past nine years, Suttie cites burn out as the main reason behind his decision to retire at the age of 28. "In footballing terms I'm only young but being part of Phoenix for nine years has taken a toll on me," explained Suttie, winner of the 2007 First Division Player of the Year. "Travelling to Perth and back every second week for nine years is a big commitment, and since 2005 I've also been on the committee working on off-field issues. So between playing and the committee I've had virtually no break in the last four years, and that has worn me down."
"Unfortunately, it's just got to the stage now where I feel drained mentally and really have no motivation to go down and kick a ball," Suttie continued. "There are some other factors as well, such as the disappointment of the 2009. Looking back, my playing career would probably have been prolonged had I had chosen to just rock up at training, go home and then rock up again on game day and not worry about anything in between. Sadly, there came a time for South West Phoenix when people needed to do much more than that for the club to survive, I stepped up and was one of those people."
Suttie's football journey has generally been a happy one with a few games particularly standing out. "The win away at Bayswater City in 2008 when we were second and they were third at the time, and beating Wanneroo City twice in 2009," said Suttie, scorer of 156 goals in 213 games for Phoenix. "The 5-1 home win on my 200th game was great, but more special was winning 2-1 away in the second last match of the season which meant Balcatta won the league. In football terms we had little to play for that day, but mentally we had a lot at stake because of other things going on at the time."
Along the way Suttie collected a bagful of awards which include two Phoenix Player of the Year trophies and five club Golden Boots. "But winning the First Division Fairest and Best was the highlight, I also won the Players' Player that year," said Suttie, talking of the short-lived 'Let's Talk Football' sponsored award. "I know not all teams put their votes in and that it hasn't been run since, but it was still a shock and an honour to have other players recognise me as a good player. Both awards that year were a surprise because I never really viewed myself in that way, but that's the way it worked out I guess."
There are numerous other achievements from the last nine years that Suttie looks back on with great pride. "Being part of a club that came into the league in 2001 with little or no respect, and that was the easy-beats in 2002, to becoming a force in the First Division is something I can proudly say I contributed to. Likewise coaching the youth team in 2007 and then having a good few of those boys end up playing alongside me in the last two years," said Suttie, who concedes disappointment at not playing in the Premier League.
An official role at Phoenix holds no interest for Suttie, well not this year anyway. "It's at least a year off, I need to re-charge and refresh myself so I can come back and contribute again. I envision I'll coach one of our junior sides in future years and that's something I look forward to doing. But for now it'll be limited to going down and watching the games," said Suttie, who added it's unlikely he'll be lured out of retirement. "I would hope that the work we've done in the last few years with player development has meant someone younger will come in and do an equal, or hopefully better job than what I have done, and I'll not be missed or needed."
“THIS WEEK COULD MAKE OR BREAK US” SAYS GLORY’S TODD
Veteran defender Andy Todd says Perth Glory’s season will go on the line next week with three games in seven days. Glory occupy sixth spot on the A-League table and head east for Saturday’s showdown with Melbourne Victory, three days later they take on Adelaide United before returning home to play Wellington Phoenix next Saturday. “This week could make or break us,” commented Todd. “It’s a very important week - you could be well in the finals or you could be well out of them (after the three games). That’s the way the A-League’s going. Everyone seems to beat each other and it’s very tight and I think it will go right to the wire, who’s in and out of the finals.”
Glory go into the game in Melbourne buoyed by clean sheets against Newcastle Jets and Sydney FC, but Todd urged his team to be hard-nosed at both ends of the pitch. Although Glory put four goals past the Jets in a 4-0 thrashing on Boxing Day, they drew a blank in a goalless draw against Sydney on Sunday. “In both boxes, you’ve got to be ruthless. You’ve got to be ruthless to keep a clean sheet and you’ve got to be ruthless to score goals. So we’ve got to get it right at both ends,” said Todd, who welcomed this week’s recruitment of Steven McGarry and Daniel McBreen.. “I think at this stage of the season it’s important we’ve got two new fresh faces coming in, and it gives us a little bit of lift to have two good players arrive.”
GIRLS FROM THE WEST HOLD THEIR OWN (by Ann Odong)
When it comes to Futsal, the West Australian women's team are very much new kids on the block. While they have performed admirably in the last two National Championships there is still a considerable gap between the west and the powerhouse teams from New South Wales and Queensland. However, led by Penny Rinaldi and Jess Lindquist, the girls from the west are giving it their all in true sandgroper tradition. "We have to remember that Futsal in WA is still in its developmental phase," said co-captain Lindquist. "These other states have been attending (the National Championships) for over twenty years and this is only our third year."
Lindquist's commitment and tireless work ethic were rewarded in 2009 with the Women's Premier League Player of Year in the full-length version of the game. And while she brings those same qualities to Futsal, Lindquist admits the smaller sided variation of football is a different proposition all together. "The work rate required is far more intense than outdoor," she said. "Futsal pushes you to your complete limit in terms of fitness. The technical side of it is far superior in terms of the pressure placed on you and you are an attacker and a defender at all times."
A narrow loss to New South Wales Lightning and wins over Victoria and Northern New South Wales show it won't be long before WA are serious contenders for a coveted semi-finals appearance at the nationals. "This year we are so competitive against the good teams, which is really encouraging," said Lindquist. "The knowledge of the way that the game is played is much better than last year. We have stepped up our defensive efforts as opposed to only going forward. Everyone knows their role and they are sticking to the game plan. First we are not conceding and then taking our opportunities when we get them."
Like captains before her, Lindquist recognises the importance of Futsal in the development of the next generation of footballers. "If we can get Futsal recognised as part of our youth development and in our young girls, it will make them more confident in their outfield play," she explained. Lindquist has been impressed with the WA team's commitment at the nationals and is hoping for the same standard of performance in the final qualification matches. WA meet defending champions New South Wales Thunder, Northern Nnew Sout Wales Hawks and the Australian Capital Territory Cobras in their remaining games of the tournament.
GERMAN GIANTS PROMOTE WHIZ-KID DAVIES
Teenager Julius Davies has been promoted to Bayern Munich's Under-17 team. A refugee from Sierra Leone, Davies played at youth level for Inglewood United and further honed his talents in the National Training Centre prior to entering Bayern's academy program last year. Bayern youth coach Mehmet Scholl has been sufficiently impressed by 15-year old Davies' midfield talents to offer him a position in the Under-17 squad.
Davies, who stepped into the international arena in December with the Australian Under-17s, wants to repay his adopted nation for not only welcoming him as a refugee but also for turning his life around. "I know what a chance this is for me. I've got one option in life, to make a career in football. That's all I've got, so I've got to make it happen," Davies told Mike Cockerill of the 'Sydney Morning Herald' late last year. "I would love to play for the Socceroos one day."
BIG MAC DOUBLE DEAL FOR GLORY
Perth Glory have confirmed the signing of Scottish midfielder Steven McGarry and striker Daniel McBreen until the end of the season. McGarry, who mutually terminated a contract with Scottish Premier League club Motherwell to join Glory, has indicated his intention to establish himself in the A-League and has been impressed with what he’s seen of his new club since arriving from Scotland last week. McBreen moves west as part of a swap agreement between Glory and North Queensland Fury, who pick up out-of-favour midfielder Jimmy Downey. Both players will in an extended Glory squad that takes on second from top Melbourne Victory on Saturday and Adelaide United three days later.
McGarry, who took a huge gamble in travelling halfway around the world to trial with Glory, hopes to add some experience to the squad in the end of season run in. “I’ve been here a week now and I’ve had a look and Dave’s (Mitchell) had a look at myself, and things have went well,” said the 30-year old, who made 100 league and Cup appearances during a three-year spell with Motherwell. “I’ve come in and enjoyed the training and basically, now I’m signed and desperate to get involved in the three big games coming up. I’m going to get my wife over as well, she’s going to come and have a look, so we can see if we can possibly make it long term. But it also depends on how well I do and how well the team does to the end of this season.”
McBreen struck up an effective partnership with Robbie Fowler at North Queensland, scoring three times in 21 games, but now finds himself in the unusual position of playing the next few weeks for Glory despite committing to Central Coiast Mariners in 2010/11. “It’s a bit of a weird sensation to play pretty much the whole season with the Fury boys and then to leave in the last month or so of the season,” said the 32-year old. McBreen said Glory fans would see the same level of professionalism he had displayed throughout a career, which has included spells in England, Scotland and Romania. “I’m not going there (to Perth) for a holiday. I want to help the team get in the six, make the finals and do well from there. I always want to do my best,” he added.
GLORY GIRLS REWARDED
Perth Glory Women quartet Collette McCallum, Emma Wirkus, Samantha Kerr and Katie Gill have been rewarded for a terrific season with place in this weekend’s national team training camp in Canberra. John Gisbon, coach of Glory Women, is delighted to see so many of his players chosen for the four-day camp, an important part of the Australia’s preparations for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2010 hosted by China in May. “All four of these girls have proved time and time again throughout the W-League season that they are class players and well worthy of their position in the Westfield Matilda’s training squad,” said Gibson. “I wish them all the best at the camp, and will be hoping to see all four names on the final squad list to travel to China.”
With the W-League having just ended, national team coach Tom Sermanni is looking forward to working with the 29-players invited into camp. “It’s exciting to start up again for what is going to be a very important year for the team,” said Sermanni. “These training camps over the next couple months will go a long way towards shaping the final squad in the lead up to the Asian Cup. The big difference, in comparison to previous campaigns, is that the Westfield W-League has provided players a great opportunity to showcase their talents against their peers, and players like Michelle Heyman and Teigen Allen have received their first call up the senior national women’s national team as a result.”
The Australia Women’s squad for this weekend’s camp is Sian McLaren (Adelaide United), Joanne Burgess, Tameka Butt, Lauren Colthorpe, Casey Dumont, Elise Kellond-Knight, Aivi Luik¸ Kate McShea, Clare Polkiinghorne, Karla Reuter (Brisbane Roar), Ellie Brush, Ellyse Perry, Lydia Williams, Thea Slatyer, Emily Van Egmond (Canberra United), Michelle Heyman (Central Coast Mariners), Leah Blayney (Central Connecticut State University), Laura Alleway, Melissa Barbieri (Melbourne Victory), Katie Gill, Samantha Kerr, Collette McCallum, Emma Wirkus (Perth Glory), Teigen Allen, Heather Garriock, Leena Khamis, Kylie Ledbrook, Kyah Simon and Sarah Walsh (Sydney FC).
TAGGART SELECTED FOR AIS (courtesy Perth Glory)
Perth Glory Youth attacker Adam Taggart has been granted a two-year football scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport. Taggart is looking forward to moving across the country and believes his football can only get better from here on in. “It’s exciting to go and play in another state and hopefully develop more,” Taggart said, who attributes his selection for the AIS to his experiences and training with Glory Youth. “It’s been very positive … especially with Gareth Naven at the helm, he really brought the team together and I’ve grown and improved a lot as a player which has probably contributed to earning my spot at the AIS,” Taggart said.
With the Glory Youth placed second on the table, just two points adrift of league leaders Central Coast Mariners, Taggart will be sorely missed as the side strives to make their first finals appearance. “It’s sad to leave and to potentially miss the finals, especially with the boys being in such a good position on the ladder,” he said. “Hopefully my time at the AIS will help me improve my game and develop and I think it’s a really exciting opportunity for me.” Cockburn City teenager Ryan Edwards, son of former Socceroo Alistair Edwards, has also been selected for the AIS program.
FRESH NEW LOOK FOR NIGHT SERIES
The Premier Division Night Series has taken on a fresh new look in 2010 thanks to new sponsors, a new format and increased prize money. Local web design and development company, Bam Creative, secured naming rights sponsorship for the pre-season tournament with JJAB Sports providing each of the twelve teams 25 playing kits to be worn throughout the competition. Bobby 10 Football World, Hot Water Heaven and Select have also come on board as supporting partners of the Bam Creative Night Series.
The format of the initial stage of Night Series fixtures features three groups of four teams battling it out to progress to the quarter-finals and beyond. Trophy holder Perth SC, Cockburn City, Stirling Lions and Swan United compose Group A, which operates out of Dorrien Gardens. Litis Stadium hosts Group B in which Floreat Athena, Armadale, ECU Joondalup and Mandurah City square off. Pooled together in Group C are Inglewood United, Balcatta, Sorrento and Western Knights, who’ll meet at Clipsal Stadium.
Significantly for the competing clubs, prize money has been doubled for the winning team with the runners-up also seeing a substantial increase, and for the first time those reaching the semi-final stage will also share in the prize money pool. The 2010 Night Series kicks off on Friday 29 January with a double header at Dorrien Gardens where Stirling take on Swan (6.30pm) followed by Perth against Cockburn (8.30pm). The full fixture schedule for the tournament is available in our a href="http://members.iinet.net.au/~jacob/wasoccer/2010ns.htm">Fixtures and Results section.
COYNE HEADS TO CHINA (courtesy Perth Glory)
Perth Glory defender Chris Coyne has flown out for talks with Chinese Super League club Shandong Luneng but will return in time for Saturday's crucial away clash at Melbourne Victory. 31-year old Coyne left Perth on Sunday in the hope of securing a loan move to Shandong in a bid to stay match fit leading into the World Cup. "The club's position has been the same since day one. We will support all our national players in a bid to get them to the World Cup," Glory chief executive Paul Kelly said. "Chris is a West Australian boy and to see him in South Africa would be wonderful. Since Chris came to the club he has given Perth Glory 110% and we have no doubt he'll continue to be the true professional he is." Coyne is expected to rejoin his team mates in Melbourne on Thursday but will return to Shandong at the end of the month if he signs a loan deal.
GARCIA IN TIP-TOP FORM
Richard Garcia is sporting a black eye as a result of his commitment to pulling Hull City away from the relegation zone. In showing his willingness to put his body on the line Garcia copped an elbow to the face in the recent loss to Wigan Athletic. And if there's any one attribute that's going to help the Tigers remain in the English Premier League beyond the current term then it's the never-say-die attitude of players like Garcia, who has been in red-hot touch of late. "I'm not sure whether this is the best form I've been in since arriving at the club. I just think it's a matter of playing regularly ... that's been the difference in my form this season," said Garcia.
A regular in the Tigers' successful Championship campaign of 2007/08, Garcia struggled with consistency last season while a knee injury sidelined until recently. But since returning a couple of months back the attacking midfielder has kept opposition defences on high alert. "I thought I did okay in my first year considering I was trying to get used to my own surroundings," Garcia said. "Last year I didn't play a big part but I think I'm finding my feet now, not only in the team but also in the league as well. It takes time. The run of games is doing me good in regard to confidence and I'm finding it easier, not only in myself but my role in the team as well. Playing on the pitch gives you that confidence."
>From the snow of an English winter to the sunnier climes of South Africa is quite a journey, but it' one Garcia is hoping to make later this year when Australia line-up at the games showpiece event, the World Cup finals. Garcia's extended first team run has boosted his chances of gaining selection in national coach Pim Verbeek's squad. "The manager knows how I play and playing every week here helps my chances in South Africa," he commented. "He would rather have players in the side who are playing every week and are match fit so I don't think this run is doing my chances any harm. I'm putting it (the World Cup) all to the back of my mind at the moment but I will be looking forward to it when the time comes around. Australia are a tight-knit bunch of guys and that will help us in the finals."
CHANCES WASTED AS GLORY HOLD SYDNEY
Sydney FC have been denied an opportunity to tighten their grip on top spot after being held to a 0-0 draw by Perth Glory at ME Bank Stadium. A impressive home side dominated the game for lengthy periods but were unable to unlock the A-League leaders’ resolute defence. “I think the way we played, the way we had a lot of the game, we created some chances and we just couldn’t put them away,” coach David Mitchell said. “Sydney are a great side, they’re on top, so to dominate a side like that you’ve got to take confidence going into Melbourne and Adelaide because they will be two tough games.”
The first opening of an entertaining game arrived with 7 minutes on the clock, Todd Howarth getting away down the left to play a fine cut-back which Mile Sterjovski drove low past goalkeeper Clint Bolton only to see the ball strike the post and Stephan Keller make the clearance. Moments later the home side again sliced through the visiting defence, this time down the left where Jacob Burns, Jamie Harnwell and Sterjovski combined to set up Jamie Coyne, whose 20-metre effort was deflected just wide of Bolton’s left-hand post.
In terms of passing and movement, Glory were arguably producing their finest display of the season thus far and the visitors seemed to have no answer to it. Wide players Adriano Pellegrino and Howarth were a constant menace while Harnwell’s physical presence clearly unsettled Sydney’s back four, as did the guile and trickery of strike partner Sterjovski. Jamie Coyne was relishing his role in central midfield and twice went close to breaking the deadlock, just failing to get enough purchase on a header and later denied by Bolton after latching onto a Pellegrino cross.
Glory continued their onslaught into the second half, again going close on 69 minutes when Harnwell’s side-footed effort was deflected wide, and from the resulting corner Sterjovski’s header was scrambled away by a panicked defence. Sydney began to impose themselves late in the game, forcing a flurry of corners and carving out a decent opportunity for Steve Corica, whose crisp effort was brilliantly kept out by Tando Velaphi. Then in stoppage another stunning save by Velaphi prevented Chris Payne scoring on the end of an incisive run through midfield.
BELGIAN DEAL FOR RUKAVYTSYA
Socceroo striker Nikita Rukavytsya has joined Belgian battlers KSV Roeselare on loan from FC Twente for the rest of the remainder of the season. Rukavytsya, who came off the bench in the second half of Australia's 2-2 draw with Kuwait on Wednesday, hasn't played for Twente's first team since October and has opted for a loan move to enhance his 2010 World Cup ambitions. It's understood the 22-year old has travelled immediately to Belgium following the Asian Cup qualifier in Kuwait to link up with Roeselare, who are bottom of Belgium's top flight and battling relegation. Rukavytsya joins Roeselare on a six-month loan deal having arrived in the Netherlands just under a year ago.
SYDNEY DENY GLORY YOUTH IN DYING MINUTES
Perth Glory Youth has extended their unbeaten run to eight game following a pulsating 3-3 draw with Sydney FC under lights at Dorrien Gardens. Glory Youth, who played much of the game with ten-men following the first half dismissal of defender Brent Griffiths, was unlucky not to take out maximum points with Iain Ramsey levelling the game only five minutes from the end of regulation time. In a rollercoaster contest, Sydney took an early lead through Tim McGowan to which Howard Fondyke replied just before the break. Ramsey put Sydney back in front, Adam Taggart and Glen Trifiro netted for Glory before Ramsey netted his second in the dying minutes. Glory Youth remains second on the National Youth League table, two points behind table-topping Central Coast Mariners.
Sydney had the lead in just the 8th minute when Ramsey’s cross from the left caused confusion in the home defence and McGowan slammed in the opener. The visitors were quick to get back in numbers and gave Glory Youth forwards Branko Jelic and Tommy Amphlett very little time on the ball. Jelic did force a couple of saves from Nenad Vekic, while down the other end Brent Griffiths’ perfectly timed tackle robbed Kerem Bulut as he was lining up the target. Unfortunately, Griffiths was sent for an early shower in the 38th minutes for a challenge on McGowan. Despite being a man down, Glory Youth drew level on the stroke of half-time when Howard Fondyke netted from Cameron Edwards’ exquisite through ball.
The second half was just a couple of minutes old when Sydney hit the front, Ramsey driving the ball in from a tight angle as exposed goalkeeper Aleks Vrteski attempted to close him down. The visitors perhaps should have extended their advantage four minutes later but Dimitrios Petratos placed narrowly wide. Knowing they’d been let off the hook, Glory Youth equalised on 64 minutes as Edwards’ delightful through ball was slipped into the net by Taggart. Eleven minutes later Trifiro embarked on a sensational run, the Glory Youth midfielder riding four challenges before putting the ball in the net.
It was now Glory Youth’s turn to waste a golden opportunity with Taggart’s 83rd minute miss proving costly. With the home team tiring, Sydney made the most of the extra- player when Ramsey glanced past Vrteski with five minutes remaining. The closing minutes produced further chances for both teams. Glory Youth captain Dean Evans did brilliantly to close down and dispossess Raymond Miller, while fellow defender Ryan Pearson produced a timely header to clear the ball off the line seconds later. There was still time for one last attack from Glory Youth but Taggart’s powerful injury-time effort was straight at the Sydney ‘keeper.
CHINA FIGURES IN COYNE’S WORLD CUP PLANS
Perth Glory defender Chris Coyne could be on his way to China as soon as next week as he attempts to get back into Pim Verbeek's World Cup calculations. Coyne was disappointed to miss out on playing in Wednesday's Asian Cup qualifier against Kuwait and is desperate to remain on Socceroos boss Verbeek's radar by playing regularly in the lead up to the World Cup. The former Luton Town and Colchester United captain said he was aware of interest from Chinese Super League club Shandong Luneng but remains focused on tomorrow's A-League clash with high-flying Sydney FC. "Until anything is concrete, nothing will be done," he said. "But obviously it's something that would interest me if it further enhances my Socceroos chances."
Coyne said it would not be easy if he had to leave Glory at a crucial time of the season after only recently ending a 14-year overseas career to return to his hometown club. But it was his only chance of forcing Verbeek's hand and crashing into the World Cup squad. "I don't want to leave my family, my mates, my hometown. For me, it would be gut-wrenching if I had to go. But from a selfish point of view, I'll be doing what I think is best for my career," he said. "It's a once in a lifetime opportunity because I definitely won't be available for the next World Cup. It's not as easy as people think because I'd be leaving a wife and three kids for four months. It would be a purely professional decision that would hurt on a personal level. But it's something I have to do because I might regret it in the future."
MCGARRY SWAPS SNOW FOR SUN IN GLORY QUEST (courtesy the 'West Australian')
Steven McGarry admits he has taken a risk in turning down an opportunity to stay in the Scottish Premier League by opting to try his luck with Perth Glory. The 30-year old midfielder swapped the snow for sun and trained with Glory for the first time on Thursday. And, if all goes well, he'll sign a deal with the club and start a new chapter in his professional career. "It could be a life-changing experience for me and my wife and we're willing to do that if things are right," McGarry told Jonathon Cook of the 'West Australian'.
McGarry endured a frustrating spell under Motherwell boss Jim Gannon but appeared to have been handed a fresh opportunity when a new manager took over at Fir Park last month. "Before I left, the manager I wasn't getting on with got sacked and the old Scotland boss Craig Brown and Archie Knox took over and actually wanted me to stay, so I was in a bit of a dilemma," said McGarry, who made his first league appearance of the season in late December against Hearts. "I just decided to take a risk and come out and have a look (at Perth Glory). I'm out here, I'm feeling good and feeling fit and we'll see how things go in the next couple of days. I'm out here to make an impression."
McGarry slotted straight into training, looking sharp and in good touch throughout his first session with Glory. But adjusting to the heat will present its own challenges for a player used to Scotland's freezing winter temperatures. McGarry said a thick blanket of snow had fallen just prior to him flying out for Perth. "At Motherwell we had a UEFA Cup qualifying tie in Albania and I think it was about 33 or 34 degrees so that was quite tough going," McGarry said of his only other experience of playing in hot weather. Glory have an import spot available following the departure of Eugene Dadi to Wellington Phoenix and coach David Mitchell has been impressed by his first look at McGarry.
TOP GUNS COME TO PERTH (courtesy Perth Glory)
David Mitchell says Perth Glory’s showdown with top-of-the-table Sydney FC on Sunday will be one of his team’s biggest games of the season. Glory’s excellent home form will give them confidence in the lead up the game at ME Bank Stadium with Mitchell keen to see his team back-up a four-goal drubbing of Newcastle Jets with another three points. “It’s very important, we’re at home, we’ll take the game to them and it’s a good challenge for us,” said Mitchell. “Sydney is a very well organised side and they’re not top of the league by fluke. They’re consistently good and that’s one of their strengths. I don’t think it’s a team of individual stars but they are a very good team and especially dangerous on the counter attack.”
Mitchell confirmed Mile Sterjovski, Jacob Burns and Tando Velaphi, who have been in Kuwait with the Socceroos, will return to Perth in time for Sunday’s game. “I got text messages from the boys after the game (Australia v Kuwait) saying they were okay and looking forward to the game on Sunday,” said Mitchell. Import striker Branko Jelic has been included in the Glory squad following a three game absence due to an ankle problem, while Jimmy Downey and Andrjia Jukic have been promoted from the youth team. The return of Jelic, scorer of five goals this season, is a timely boost for coach Mitchell, who remains without Wayne Srhoj (knee) and Victor Sikora (thigh).
GLORY YOUTH REACH FOR SKY BLUES (courtesy Perth Glory)
Perth Glory Youth will be out to consolidate their place on top of the National Youth League table when they go head-to-head with Sydney FC at Dorrien Gardens on Saturday afternoon. The Glory youngsters claimed top spot with last weekend’s 1-0 win over Central Coast Mariners and are now gunning for their eighth consecutive win. “We were really happy to get the three points,” said midfielder David Price. “They (Central Coast) were top of the league and they had quite a few first team players as well, so to beat them and claim top spot was a great feeling.”
Glory Youth may have beaten every other team in the competition, however, Price is adamant the boys are keeping grounded and working harder than ever to maintain their excellent form. “We’ve got good team spirit and training is going really well at the moment,” said the former Western Knights and Perth SC player. “(Coach) Gareth Naven is keeping us on the ball and we’re not sitting back thinking that we are top of the league and that we’re just going along with the motions. We’re training even harder these days and that’s what is keeping us going.”
Price endured a tough run with injuries early in the season, missing several weeks before making a successful return to the match day late last month. The midfielder is gaining fitness with each game and looking forward to Glory Youth’s pushing for a maiden finals berth. “It’s great to get a bit of game time at the moment. I’m hoping to get more time on the pitch as I get fitter,” Price added. “When I am out there, I just want to prove myself and show Glory that I can stand up and be an asset to the team.”
Looking ahead to this weekend’s clash, Price believes the squad is ready and raring to take it to the reigning league champions. “We’re expecting a tough game, but at the moment all the boys are really fit and we’ve had great preparation leading into the match,” he said. “We’re all on a bit of a high, having won seven games in a row, so I think going into it we’re pretty confident. We’ll be out there for the victory, we’ve had a great run lately and we are determined to continue that this weekend.”
MONTGOMERY ADDS TO KNIGHTS' FIREPOWER
Western Knights have strengthened their claim on back-to-back Premier League titles with the recruitment of former State player Stuart Montgomery. A four-time winner of the Knights top goal scorer award, Montgomery returns to the club following a two-year stint with Sorrento. "It feels a little bit weird but in a way it's like I haven't been away," Montgomery said. "I walked into the change rooms and went straight to my old seat and felt right at home. At the same time it feels like I'm at a new club and having to prove myself to the guys who won the League last year."
Montgomery was initially approached mid-2009 about the possibility of his return to the Knights camp. "They were interested in signing me half-way through last season," said the 31-year old striker. "I know a lot of people at the club and have always got on well with (coach) Paul Price, he made it clear that he'd like me to play for him and it was just too good an opportunity to turn down really. I love the club and played some of my best football there. I feel at home at the Knights and want to win some more trophies before I have to hang up the boots."
The 'never been away' feeling was reinforced by the warm reception Montgomery has received in his first few weeks back at Nash Field. "The lads have made me feel really welcome," commented Montgomery, who made his State team debut against Perth Glory at the end of his first season with the Knights. "It's always hard to fit in at a club but being close mates with Dave Annall, Daniel Trim and Ivan Zuvela has made it easy going back. In fact, all the lads I haven't played with before have made me feel part of the team already, which is something I am pleased about."
Montgomery admits that leaving Sorrento, where he collected a Premier League winners medal in 2008, was a tough decision. "I made some really good friends at Sorrento and really enjoyed playing with them. And Trevor Morgan returning to the club made it even more difficult as he is a very good coach and Sorrento will do well under him," the striker said. "I wish all the lads at Sorrento all the best for the coming season and hope they can climb back up the ladder to where they belong, but obviously just behind the Knights!"
Pre-season training has involved a lot of running for those in the Knights camp. "Paul is a big fan of fitness so pre-season started with a lot of running and not much ball work," Montgomery explained. "There are always some players who moan about running but in the long run it will pay off with us being a very fit side and, hopefully, we won't get over run by fitter teams when we begin playing games. You have to do it to prepare yourself for the league, a lot of the players experienced it last year with Pricey so they know what is required."
Such is the calibre of players at the club this year that Montgomery feels the Knights are very much capable of making a clean sweep of the trophies on offer in 2010. "I honestly believe we'll be up there competing for honours in all the competitions this year, I know the coaches and players are really focused on going that extra step," said Montgomery, who is joined by former Canning City players Paul Van Dongen, Simon Versiacio, Garth Lecky and Duncan Hind as the Knights off-season recruits. "It's a big ask to win everything but I do think that come the end of the season we will be close to achieving that."
SOCCEROOS SURRENDER TO KUWAIT
Australia squandered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Kuwait in their overnight Asian Cup qualifier at the Al Kuwait Sports Club Stadium. Luke Wilkshire opened the scoring with Dean Heffernan adding the Socceroos second inside five minutes, however, loose passing and slack defence allowed Kuwait to draw level late in the fist half. "I think we did very well for the first 35 minutes, but the last ten minutes of the first half we give two goals away," said coach Pim Verbeek, who was content with the result and his team's overall performance. "The last minutes of the first half we lost control of the midfield, but the second half we were much better organised. A little bit more sharpness in one-on-one situations and we could have won the game." Australia can secure safe passage into the Asian Cup finals with a draw against Indonesia on 3 March.
The Socceroos were immediately on the front foot as a Heffernan throw-in was met by Mile Jedinak, whose header provided Wilkshire a chance he wasn't about to miss. The home side had barely had time to draw breath when Nicky Carle floated in a free-kick from the right which an unmarked Heffernan smacked into the net. Kuwait substitute Hamed Al Enezi brought the hosts back into the game five minutes from the break, pouncing on an error by Simon Colosimo and hammering past Eugene Galekovic. Yousef Nasser then sent the home crowd into raptures with a wonderful finish on 44 minutes after Bader Al Mutwa pierced the Australia defence with an inch-perfect through ball. Kuwait created the better of second half chances, Al Enezi going close to scoring on three occasions, with Australia defending bravely when under siege late on. West Australian striker Nikita Rukavytsya came off the bench on the hour as replacement for Perth Glory player Mile Sterjovski.
YOUNG STILL FACTORS IN CULINA’S GRAND PLAN
Newcastle Jets coach Branko Culina has denied he is poised to dump goalkeeper Neil Young. A report out of Sydney early this week indicated Culina would release Young in favour of an elite goalkeeper for the 2010/11 campaign, a claim the veteran coach very much denies, saying the former Sorrento player’s destiny is in his own hands. “The one thing we’re trying to do is ensure we get the right people to the club and not change our minds because we’ve made a quick decision to find out it’s not the right one,” Culina said. “I want to see what Neil is like under pressure. He’s contributed greatly to where we are, but I also want to see how he handles himself in a situation he hasn't been in before.”
Since making his A-League debut against North Queensland Fury in early November, Young has played seven matches for five wins and two losses. He has conceded ten goals, of which four were against Perth Glory in Young’s home town on Boxing Day. “We lost against Perth and the next four games are critical,” Culina said. “I want to see how people respond in good and bad times and if Neil works out then obviously we’ll be delighted because we’ll have two good goalkeepers.” Ben Kennedy, who has been unable to break into the first eleven since returning from injury a month ago, re-signed with the Jets for two years earlier in the season.
Although he may need to wait until season’s end before receiving a deal, Young said he was determined to continue battling with Kennedy to remain the Jets’ number one gloveman and prove to Culina he is worth re-signing. “We’re happy to fight for that number one spot with BK and he [Culina] is happy for me to stay at the moment,” Young said. “We’ll see how it goes if I keep playing, and if I don’t keep playing things will turn around the other way.” Meanwhile, other clubs have began circling, including one in Singapore, but Young said his first choice is the Jets after the club gave him his first professional contract at 30 years of age.
LINCOLN EXTEND HERD'S STAY
Lincoln City has extended the loan of Chris Herd until the end of the season. The 20-year old midfielder joined the Imps on an initial one-month loan from Aston Villa in late November and has had a big impact in six appearances, most notably in Saturday's FA Cup loss to Bolton Wanderers. "We're always looking for solutions and this gives us continuity so we're pleased," Lincoln manager Chris Sutton told BBC Lincolnshire. "Chris has made a big impact since coming in and I think we've certainly improved." Herd, a late addition to the Socceroos squad that played Oman in November, will be pulling out all the stops at Lincoln to convince national team coach Pim Verbeek he's worthy of inclusion in the travelling party for this year's World Cup.
I’M HAPPY TO BE BACK: DJULBIC
Dino Djulbic is pleased to be back in Australia after turning his back on German outfit Rot Weiss Ahlen. The former Perth Glory defender put behind him a disappointing twelve months in Germany by linking up with Gold Coast United, where he’s hopeful of securing a contract that will reignite his stalled career. “I’m happy to be back in Australia and to be at a club that is going for the championship,” he told au.fourfourtwo.com. “I went over there determined to do well but things just didn’t go for me. Three days after I signed I suffered a quad tear and that was a match which the Bosnian national coach was coming to watch. I was out for six weeks, came back and then got injured in my first game.”
Djulbic’s fortunes did not improve with a change of coach and, with the new German season looming and despite being fully fit, it was clear he was not going to get his chance. “The new coach had a chat with me before the start of the season, back in June, he didn’t know me and he brought in fifteen players. It just wasn’t going anywhere,” conceded Djulbic, whose career started with State League champions Perth SC. “People would ask why I wasn’t playing and I told them they were asking the wrong person. Things just went against me.” Despite the experience, Djulbic doesn’t regret chasing the dream of playing in Europe and hopes to day try his luck again somewhere further down the track.
TIME WAS RIGHT FOR RUKAVYTSYA
Socceroos striker Nikita Rukavytsya has one simple piece of advice for aspiring young players considering a move to Europe - take your time because you'll know when the moment arrives. Ukrainian-born Rukavytsya, under contract to Dutch Eredivisie leaders FC Twente, is in Dubai preparing for Australia's crucial 2011 Asian Cup qualifier against Kuwait. Rated one of Australian football's brightest prospects, Rukavytsya, scorer of 16 goals in 42 A-League appearance for Perth Glory, believes players are never too young or old to try their luck abroad.
Rukavytsya was 21 when Twente tempted him into moving to Europe, despite Glory coach David Mitchell advising the striker he would benefit another season in the A-League. "For every young player it's their own decision. If they feel like they want to go and try their luck then they have to do it," he said. "It should be the player's choice because it's his career. You can never say it's too early or too late to go to Europe. Last year was the time for me to go and when the opportunity arose I took it and I don't regret it because Twente is a great club and I'm enjoying it there."
Rukavystsya is unsure what role coach Pim Verbeek has in store for him against Kuwait, where a Socceroos victory will seal qualification for next January's Asian Cup the finals in Qatar. "We've been training very hard and I'm sure that whatever formation he (Verbeek) goes with and whoever he picks the job will be done," Rukavystsya said. "I'd love to play as a central striker because that is my position. Central striker is where I've played for most of my life, except for a period under Ron Smith in Perth. But if I get a chance to play wherever Pim puts me I'll do my best to help the team get three points."
MADASCHI OUT TO KEEP WORLD CUP DREAM ALIVE
Fringe Socceroo Adrian Madaschi is set to move to South Korea in a bid to convince national coach Pim Verbeek he’s worthy of a place in Australia’s World Cup squad. Having gained his fifth Socceroos cap in August’s win against the Republic of Ireland, 27-year old Madaschi feels time in the K-League could sway Verbeek to take a closer look. “For me it’s all about getting noticed ahead of the World Cup and giving myself a fighting chance of getting selected,” the defender told theworldgame.com. “Pim has a lot of defenders to pick from but I feel I did well when I came in against the Irish and I know I can do a job if the chance comes again. This might be my last chance of ever going to a World Cup and I need to get myself in contention if I possibly can.”
Madaschi, who left Perth SC as a teenager to join Italian club Atalanta, has attracted the interest of two K-League clubs - one of which has opened initial discussions - and could be on the move during this month's transfer window. Having represented Australia at all levels, the imposing defender has proved himself in the hurly burly world of Scottish football with spells at Patrick Thistle and Dundee and spent a frustrating spell at Grosseto before switching to Portosummaga in 2006. Now in his fourth season with the Italian third tier club, Madaschi has played over 100 games for Portosummaga and this season has been named man-of-the-match on four occasions. It’s likely he will be watched by Socceroos assistant coach Henk Duut later this month in Italy, with Socceroos management insisting he is not out of World Cup contention.
A-League clubs Sydney FC and Melbourne Heart are also tracking Madaschi, with both clubs tabling offers, but the defender has put on hold thoughts of returning to Australia. “I’m desperate to do whatever I can to get another chance for my country,” he said. “Everything is a risk in football but certainly a move to Asia is something I’d look at this month. Maybe the time is right to move on. There has been some interest from back home also, but at my age I’m not in any hurry to play in Australia. Hopefully that will come down the track. I never played in the old national league, so a stint in the A-League would appeal at some point.”
ATTACKING DEVELOPMENT (by Ashley Morrison, Not the Footy Show)
Well done to the Perth Glory Youth League team for recording their seventh consecutive league win against the Central Coast Mariners yesterday, courtesy of a screamer of a goal from Andrija Jukic. The young talent from West Australia have in recent weeks played some excellent football, while at the same time showing passion and determination.
Credit must go to coach Gareth Naven who like all the youth league coaches has had to cope with first team players dropping down to get game time, or returning from injury, and having to rearrange his squad almost on a weekly basis. One of the positives has been that in most cases the first team players have come down to the Youth team and wanted to play, unlike some senior players at other clubs.
Naven is also lucky that he has not had his charges pushing for first team squad inclusion, as at other clubs this too has caused problems with players getting ahead of themselves as to where they sit in terms of their careers as professional footballers. However, once again that is part of the development process, teaching players to be self confident, but not arrogant.
Having called the game on the radio yesterday we were astounded to see the players still surging forward looking for a second goal in injury time, instead of trying to keep possession, and run the clock down. This was the football the national team used to play ten years ago, and it cost them dearly. Instead of running the clock down they lost possession and the Mariners counter-attacked and should have equalised.
When asked why they had not run the ball to the corners, the players advised that the coach has told them not to do this, and that he urges them to search for another goal. Surely part of the development of a player is to teach them how to hold onto a one goal lead in a tight game? Yesterday they survived, but it would be a cruel and foolish way to lose the Grand final should they get there.
GLORY CLOSE THE DOOR ON DADI
Former Ivory Coast international Eugene Dadi looks likely to see out the A-League season with Wellington Phoenix following his release by Perth Glory. Dadi, last season's joint top scorer alongside Nikita Rukavytsya, has been on the outer this term, featuring in only six of Glory's games to date. His release follows a disappointing loan move to Swiss Super League club FC Vaduz during the off-season which was cut short after a bust-up with coach Pierre Littbarski, who imposed a suspension on the 36-year old striker. Despite returning to Perth earlier than anticipated, Dadi struggled for fitness early in the season and was virtually cast aside by Mitchell, who preferred Mile Sterjovski, Branko Jelic, Victor Sikora and Jamie Harnwell in attacking positions.
VELAPHI PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE
Goalkeeper Tando Velaphi has revealed his plans of moving to Europe in a bid to be part of the Socceroos squad for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The Perth Glory custodian has spent the past week training in Dubai with the Australia national team and admitted to feeling nervous in his first Socceroos camp under the eye of coach Pim Verbeek. "When you come into your first camp there's always going to be a few nerves because you want to impress," said Velaphi ahead of Wednesday's Asian Cup qualifier against Kuwait. "But with a lot of A-League boys here and the Olyroos boys that I've been with before, they've made me feel a bit more comfortable and hopefully I've kept up to the standard and I can improve and step it up with the big boys."
Velaphi, contracted to Glory for another season, said it was an exciting time for young 'keepers with veteran Mark Schwarzer nearing the end of his illustrious career. When the 2014 World Cup rolls around Velaphi will be 27 and coming in to his prime. "I'm obviously still pretty young and development-wise I've still got a lot to go, so I'm not really looking at this (year's) World Cup but hopefully down the track," he said. "There are a lot of young goalkeepers coming through. There's heaps of young guys doing well and playing in European leagues and I've got to try and step up to their level and, you never know, in the future anything can happen. At the moment I think I'm best served in the A-League playing week in, week out."
Rated one of the A-League's finest shot-stoppers, Velaphi feels he has let himself down at times this season with his judgement and decision making inside the 18-yard box. "There's obviously been some highs and lows throughout the year," conceded Velaphi, who played junior and youth team football with Perth SC and was part of the Australia squad at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. "I think a lot of it is to do with decision making and when to come off your line so that's going to come with age and experience. They usually say goalkeepers peak at 28-30 and I'm 22."
Velaphi said he wanted to add weight to his 79kg frame to increase to his goalmouth presence. "I need to work hard in the gym. Physically I think I've still got a long way to go," he said. "(You need) explosive sort of strength and just in and around the box and you need to be quite strong around the shoulders and upper body so you don't get pushed around. But if I put too much weight on I think I'll lose my speed and agility so it's a very fine line. As a young fella I was always sort of fit and agile so I think that's probably one area that I'm pretty good at. You can't really teach that sort of thing, that's just my natural style."
JUKIC SENDS GLORY YOUTH TO THE TOP
A stunning first-half strike by Andrija Jukic has propelled Perth Glory Youth to the top of the National Youth League table with a 1-0 win over Central Coast Mariners at Pluim Park. The win - the Glory Youth’s seventh in succession - ended the Mariners’ table-topping reign and four-game winning streak.
Cheered on by a vocal home crowd, Central Coast started well with Glory Youth forced chiefly into defensive duties. However, all that changed on 16 minutes when Jukic seized upon a loose ball that he glided into the top corner from 15-metres with goalkeeper Matthew Ryan powerless to stop the shot. The home team twice went close to levelling but Adam Kwasnik drilled wide and Shane Huke’s long-range attempt was held by Alex Pearson. Sandwiched between these was a Glen Trifiro shot that bounced off the crossbar. Pearson was again called into action late in the half when he denied Kwasnik.
Glory Youth started the second half strongly, Trifiro earning the visiting side a corner when his shot was deflected away by a defender. Ryan Pearson backed himself down the right to score his team’s second midway through the half, and his confidence almost paid off with a strong strike going just to the right of target. Glory Youth had another strong chance soon after when Adam Taggart free of the defence to go one-on-one with Ryan, who came out on top. Central Coast threw everything at their opponents in the closing stages but Glory Youth met every challenge head on to secure a deserved three points.
SCOTSMAN MCGARRY TO TRAIN WITH GLORY
Former Scottish Premier League player Steven McGarry is expected to train with Perth Glory this week in a bid to earn a contract with the A-League club. Recently released by Motherwell after four years with the club, 30-year old McGarry is hoping to write a new chapter in his professional career by moving down under. The attacking midfielder started out at St Mirren in 1996 and has chalked up just under 400 league and cup appearances through subsequent spells with Boston, Ross County and Motherwell.
EUROPE HAS MADE ME A BETTER PLAYER: RUKAVYTSYA
Socceroos hopeful Nikita Rukavytsya hopes to use this week’s national team training camp in Dubai and the up-coming Asian Cup qualifying match against Kuwait to convince coach Pim Verbeek he’s worthy of a place in Australia’s World Cup squad. Playing for Dutch club FC Twente has been a steep learning curve for the striker, who feels he is now a much-improved player compared to the youngster who left Perth twelve months ago. “I feel that I have improved a lot and am a much better player now than a year ago, although that’s what it’s like for every player who comes to Europe,” Rukavytsya told Michael Lynch of the ‘Sydney morning Herald’ newspaper.
While he is yet to become a first-team regular at top of the table Twente, Rukavytsya says his game has come on in leaps and bounds while with the Dutch Eredivisie club. “I have got better technically and tactically and am mentally stronger and physically stronger as well,” added the former Perth Glory player. “My pace is still one of the best attributes of my game, but I have got better in other areas too. I have improved my finishing and am now taking players on more than before. I do still have to get tougher in the way I play the game. I’m tougher than I used to be in the A-League, but in football these days you have to be so tough physically to compete.”
Rukavytsya moved to Perth with his family at the age of 14 and played for Inglewood United and Perth SC prior to accepting a place at the Australian Institute of Sport. He made his Perth Glory debut towards the end of 2006/07 and did enough in his three appearances to earn a two-year contract. During his time at Glory he played on 42 games, scoring 16 goals, and represented Australia at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. And while he would dearly love to add to his single Socceroos appearance - against the Republic of Ireland in August - Rukavytsya is, for the time being at least, enjoying being in camp with Australia’s best players. “I just want to train well and do the best I can while I am here,” he said. “I need to concentrate on my game, play as much as I can and see where that takes me.”
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This page was last updated on the 30rh December, 2009