PFA ISSUES FFA STERN WARNING
The A-League has been warned its current disciplinary procedures could be struck down by the courts as anger rages over the suspensions handed down to two players for diving. Perth Glory striker Michael Baird and Central Coast Mariners midfielder Patricio Perez were each banned by the match review panel for two games for alleged diving offences on the weekend. Under the new Football Federation Australia regulations, players are prevented from appealing match review panel decisions.
Professional Footballers Australia chief executive Brendan Schwab said FFA ran the risk of having its rules overturned in court if it continued to deny players the chance to appeal bans. "We think that's a fundamental denial of natural justice, we think that FFA does not lawfully have the power to do it. If the rules were challenged in court the challenge would succeed,'' Schwab said. "We fail to understand why FFA has taken the position it has taken, given all we're asking for is a hearing."
STATE YOUNGSTERS FINISH FIFTH IN SOUTH KOREA
Western Australia's Under-15 team claimed fifth place at last week's prestigious Cangjin Tournament in South Korea. Goals by Nicholas Ambrogio, Kieran Colwell and Harry O'Brien secured Football West's National Training Centre squad a 3-2 win against Japanese team Cerezo Osaka in the minor play-off play-offs. This came just a day after Al Jovic and Matt Davies led the side to a shock 2-1 win over Russian giants Zenit St Petersburg.
Ambrogio, Colwell, Alexsandar Jovic and Bor Bor Sam Bindi ensured a successful start to the tournament and a 4-2 win against Valenciennes (France). Unfortunately, the State side went down the following day 6-1 to Cheong-Nyong (South Korea), when Colwell was again on the score sheet, before being thumped 7-0 by Spanish outfit Barcelona in their final group stage fixture. Barcelona won the final 4-1 and also received the player of the tournament, leading goal scorer and coach of the tournament awards.
BAIRD NABBED FOR DIVING
Perth Glory striker Michael Baird has been banned for two matches for taking a dive to earn a penalty in the dramatic closing stages of Sunday's 2-2 draw with Melbourne Heart. The A-League's independent match review panel deemed Baird's stoppage-time stumble under a challenge from Kliment Taseski to be an act of simulation, which comes with a mandatory two-match suspension. Robbie Fowler scored from the penalty spot to salvage a last-gasp draw and maintain Glory's unbeaten start to the season.
Baird, who was cleared only on Saturday to make his debut after a wrangle with his former Romanian club Universitatea Craiova, insisted he had been clipped by Taseski and that he had not taken a dive. "It's not a clear penalty, but there's no dive. There's no simulation involved in it," Baird told the 'West Australian'. "The guy clipped me and I went down. I think it's been blown up because of the situation. It was the 90th minute and they needed the three points." There is no avenue to appeal against the ban under A-League disciplinary regulations.
JOEYS GO WINLESS
The next generation of Socceroos learned some lessons the hard way by going winless at the FA Men's Under-17 International Tournament in Lincolnshire, England. The Joeys bowed out of the event at the group stage after suffering a trio of losses to Portugal, England and Turkey. Strong performances in a pre-tournament training camp led to the late call-up of striker Dylan Tombides, who joined fellow West Australia's Jesse Makarounas and Sahr Musa in the squad.
Two goals from Anthony Proai and another by Milos Degenek weren't enough to prevent the Joeys going down 4-3 to Portugal in a seesawing opening match. England was far to strong a few days later, humbling Australia 4-0, before Turkey triumphed 2-0 in the final group fixture. The four-nation tournament was won by England who defeated Portugal 3-1 in the final through goals by Hallam Hope (2) and Nick Powell.
FLOREAT BRUSH OFF BALCATTA (by David Cameron, Football West)
Floreat Athena gained some much needed momentum heading towards the top five play-offs in the form of a clinical 4-0 win against Balcatta this afternoon at Grindleford Reserve. Daniel Niederberger and Branimir Mikulic scored two apiece in the second half to bring a smile to the face of player-coach Ante Kovacevic. "The boys came out positive in the second half, kept our shape and stayed patient and scored four goals which was very pleasing," he said. "With finals being cut-throat football we need to be consistent for ninety minutes and I hope we continue to be consistent."
Neither team was able to gain the upper hand in a very even first half played at a ferocious pace. Floreat generated a great chance on the quarter-hour when Mikulic nodded down a delightful cross from the left to the feet of Niederberger, who deftly touched the ball past his marker only to have goalkeeper Bobson Koroma make an instinctive reaction save at his near post. The remainder of the half saw scattered half-chances go unconverted at both ends of the park with the teams going into the break as they'd started.
Balcatta's could have been forgiven for thinking an upset was on the cards as the teams emerged for the second half. However, any such thoughts were ended in the 57th minute when a partially cleared corner was returned to the 18-yard box where, after several deflections, the ball ricocheted of Niederberger's thigh and rolled over the line. It was just two minutes later when Niederberger grabbed his second goal, the striker beating a couple of defenders before firing into the bottom corner from just inside the 18-yard box box.
Balcatta eventually regrouped and started pushing forward in numbers as they searched for a goal of their own. But it wasn't to be as in the 75th minute Mo Atak's powerful shot from inside the area brought a fine save from Koroma, who was helpless as Mikulic poked in the follow-up. Mikulic rounded out a good day at the office by scoring Floreat's fourth with the last kick of the afternoon, exposing a Balcatta defence whose failure to close down the attacker allowed him time to curl a beautiful shot into the far corner. The win moves Floreat into third place, however, to stay there they'll need to beat ECU Joondalup in next week's final round of the home and away season.
FOWLER GIVES MELBOURNE HEARTACHE
Robbie Fowler opened his Perth Glory account by scoring a controversial stoppage time penalty and grab his club a 2-2 draw with Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park. The home side had good reason to feel aggrieved after debutant referee Kurt Ams pointed to the spot when Michael Baird went down under a Kliment Taseski challenge, with Fowler sending goalkeeper Clint Bolton the wrong way. It was a cruel end for Heart who looked set to record their fist win courtesy of goals from Gerald Sibon and Nick Kalmar which cancelled out a bizarre own goal by Michael Marrone.
Heart came out firing and in just the 2nd minute had a penalty claim dismissed after Alex Terra went down when attempting to round goalkeeper Tando Velaphi. A couple of minutes later the home side had the lead, Naum Sekulovski’s shirt pull on Terra leading the referee to point to this time the spot from where Sibon sent Velaphi the wrong way. Heart went looking for another upon the resumption but Sibon’s weak back post header didn’t trouble Velaphi. It took until the 11th minute for Glory to fashion an opening, Steve McGarry playing down the right for Scott Neville whose cross was sent high by Todd Howarth.
There was a fair slice of luck involved when Glory equalised against the run of play in the 19th minute. Marrone found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time as Branko Jelic’s flick on from a Fowler cross deflected off the defender and into the net. If conceding affected the hosts then they didn’t show it as Nick Kalmar’s ball in from the left forced Velaphi to punch clear under pressure from Sibon. Glory paid the ultimate price for failing to clear a Dean Heffernan free-kick in the 37th minute as Kalmar fired in from 7-metres to give the home side a deserved half-time time.
It was a much more focused Glory side that emerged for the second half and started to create openings. On the hour Jelic’s header flashed over the crossbar from a McGarry cross, and eleven minutes later Bolton pulled off a stunning reflex save to keep out Fowler’s stinging close-range effort. Howarth threaded a superb pass through to Sekulovski but Bolton was alert came off his line to block the shot. The game was three minutes into stoppage time when Baird tumbled to the ground and Fowler held his nerve to convert from the spot amid howls of protests from Heart players and supporters.
MORE BAD LUCK FOR YOUNG
A bout of flu is preventing goalkeeper Neil Young from training with his Newcastle Jets team mates. Young, 31, spent several months in hospital earlier this year fighting for his life after suffering an adverse reaction to antibiotics administered after an operation to repair his badly broken nose. He endured five bouts of surgery on his digestive system and at one stage lost 20 kilograms because he was unable to eat for four weeks.
Young resumed light training a month ago and had been making encouraging progress until falling ill this week. "I've got the flu but it just seems to have hit me twice as hard, because of the way I was," he told the 'Newcastle Herald'. "It's just frustrating. Everyone gets the flu but this has hit me a bit more than I expected. And also I didn't want to pass it on to any of the other players. They don't need me hanging around with the flu."
Newcastle coach Branko Culina said Young's well-being was the priority and he had been advised to rest. "He's had some absolutely rotten luck but let's just hope everything works out health-wise for him," Culina said. "He's a lovely guy, plus he added a lot to the team last year when we needed it most. But we just want him to get well. That's the most important thing at this stage of his life. He's gone through a rotten period over the past four or five months and the most important thing is he gets himself well."
KNIGHTS MAINTAIN STEADY COURSE (with Michael Bate, Football West)
Western Knights are just 90 minutes away from back-to-back Premier League crowns following today’s thrilling 4-2 victory against Armadale at Nash Field. Anthony Campbell’s late double added to strikes from David Micevski and Simon Versaico to secure the Knights all three points and set-up a title-deciding showdown with Stirling Lions next weekend.
Knowing an upset win would enhance their prospects of making the play-offs, Armadale were quick out of the blocks and inside the opening twenty minutes James Robinson had four half-chances go begging. The Knights eventually settled and began bombarding visiting goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock with a series of high ball and set pieces. Simon Versaico was denied the game’s first goal by Steve McDonald’s clearance from on the line after Paul Van Dongen’s long thrown caused problems for the visiting defence.
Armadale went ahead against the run of play in the 36th minute when John Watson bundled the ball across the line after Frazer Siddall could only parry James Robinson’s close-range effort. But that lead lasted just four minutes before David Micevski received the ball some 30-metres out and, with Armadale offering no resistance, the midfielder let fly with a stunning shot that whistled past Sharrock, who barely had time to react.
The second half was even more compelling with both sides going all out for a victory. Campbell had the ball in the net on 52 minutes but his strike was ruled out for offside. Twelve minutes later the Knights had a legitimate second goal with Versaico doing well to head in a David Micevski free-kick from the right. Armadale continued to get forward at every opportunity and Watson was unlucky when his delicate chip from the edge of the 18-yard box hit the top of the crossbar.
Watson shrugged off that disappointment less than a minute later when his run into the area was halted by a handball decision against Stuart Ferguson, leading referee Dave Scragg to point straight to the spot. James Robinson struck the penalty kick too close to Siddall, who was helped less as the ball rebounded straight back to the Armadale striker who made no mistake the second time. However, Armadale’s efforts were almost undone by a hasty Andy Bowyer clearance that struck McDonald but thankfully ricocheted wide.
Campbell turned the game on its head by scoring twice quick succession, his first arriving in the 81st minute with a close-range blast into the net. And five minutes later the strongly built striker fended off a number of challenges before beating Sharrock to complete a superb counterattacking move by the home side. Armadale’s bad day at the office took a turn for the worse on 89 minutes when veteran Andy Bowyer was issued a second yellow card by the referee.
WILSON STEALS STIRLING VICTORY (with Chris Correia, Football West)
Bobby Wilson struck in stoppage time to steal Stirling Lions a dramatic 3-2 win over Mandurah City at Hyundai Stadium. Christian Paschkewitz looked to have scored Mandurah a late share of the points, however, Stirling’s hopes of finishing on top of the table were revived by Wilson’s header. “I thought when they made it two-all it was two points dropped, but then playing Bobby (Wilson) up-front paid off tonight,” Stirling coach Paul Lincoln said. “I’m just wrapped to get the three points after some of the other results today. The win now keeps our Minor Premiership hopes alive and we will now be at home to the Western Knights next week and three points will give us the title.”
Scott Muirhead’s long throws were a key component of Stirling’s positive start. The visitors thought they had an early lead when Wilson threaded a pass through to Phil Arnold, but the assistant referee ruled the striker offside. Shane Robinson then took matters into his own hands by letting loose with a long-range free-kick that sailed narrowly high. This pressure paid off on 20 minutes when Mandurah defenders Ryan Townsend and Ivan Zuvela both attempted to head clear a Ludovic Boi cross but managed only to turn the ball into their own net.
Mandurah were struggling to break down a Stirling rearguard that was superbly marshalled by Michael Pugliese. At the other end, Townsend was going a long way to making amends for his earlier error by keeping close tabs on Arnold. Jordan Rhodes gave his former team a scare when he flashed a shot the wrong side of the post. Moments later Rafael Insaurralde found himself in possession some 30-metres from goal and, lacking the support of team mates, ventured off towards goal before unleashing a terrific curling effort that his the crossbar with goalkeeper James Turvill beaten.
The second half was five minutes old when Mandurah scored a bizarre equaliser, Pugliese’s back pass crossing the line after Turvill hesitated under pressure from Insaurralde, who was awarded the goal. Stirling hit back six minutes later when Arnold curled into the top corner from 18-metres, giving Straker absolutely no chance. Robinson went close to sealing the win but after being set-up by Boi the Stirling captain drove just wide with Straker rooted to his line.
The clock was ticking down but there was still time for a few more dramas. An unmarked Ivan Zuvela crashed a powerful shot goalward in the 89th minute that deflected off Paschkewitz on its way into the back of the net. Three minutes later great work by Stirling substitute Ndumba Makeche led to him crossing for Wilson, whose header bounced off the underside of the crossbar and over the line to decide the game. Mandurah slip to just two points from relegation and must win next weekend’s game against Cockburn City, who are also fighting for survival, to secure another year in the top flight.
SWAN SMASH PERTH (with Jona Turle, Football West)
Swan United have kept their hopes of Premier League survival alive with a smash and grab 4-1 win against traditional rivals Perth SC at Dorrien Gardens. Teenager Christian Lopez capped a dream debut by scoring twice with Michael Van Dongen and Liam Boland also on the scoresheet for the black and whites. Swan coach Jamie Goodman was understandably thrilled with his teams' performance and the outcome. "It was a fantastic performance and a fantastic result from our guys today," he said. "We stayed switched on for 90 minutes, which we haven't always done, and took our chances."
The brighter start came from Perth, who settled quickly into their passing game but lacked the decisiveness to cut through a well-organised visiting defence. So it was against the run of play that Swan took an 18th minute lead, Lopez chesting down a long throw which he then cleverly flicked over his head, leaving behind him flat-footed defence before volleying the bouncing ball past goalkeeper Devon Spence from close-range. Although Perth enjoyed the better of the remaining first half possession there were few clear cut chances to drew level.
It took Perth only four minutes of the second half to find the back of the net via substitute Kyle Moran's sweetly struck left-footed drive from 25-metres. However, parity was to be short-lived as three minutes later Van Dongen side-footed past Spence following good work down the left. With their lead restored, Swan reverted to stifling their opponents' creativity by congesting the midfield and applying endless pressure when chasing the ball.
Swan moved two-goal clear in the 71st minute when Lopez pounced to volley in another long throw from the left. The icing was put on the visitors cake by substitute Liam Boland, who punished a defensive error by calmly slotting past Spence with only a minute of regulation time left. Swan will go into next weekends final round clash needing to beat Balcatta at home, and hope results elsewhere go in their favour to stay in the Premier League next season.
After the match, Perth coach Graham Normanton lamented his team's lack of a cutting edge up front, and his side's defensive frailties in equal measure. "You just can't make four defensive stuff ups like that and expect to win games of football," he said. "But they wanted it more than we did, and they showed the determination that you need to show in any game - whether you're fighting to avoid relegation, or fighting to win the league. They fully deserved the victory today, and I can't take anything away from them."
FEELY KEEPS COCKBURN’S SEASON ALIVE
Rory Feely scored twice as Cockburn City came from behind to inflict a 2-1 loss on home team Inglewood United. A goal either side of the break by Feely will take Cockburn into the next weekend’s final round of fixtures level on points with Swan United at the foot of the table. However, the news is not so rosy for Inglewood who slump to one point from last and will be involved in a four-way battle to avoid the drop with Cockburn, Swan and Mandurah City next Saturday.
The day could not have started better for Inglewood who had the lead after only 7 minutes, good work on the left by Dannie Richman led him to crossing to Grant, who turned Jason Godfrey before firing in from 6-metres. The home side could have doubled their lead soon after but Ryan Clarke’s low shot was saved by Dejan Aleksic. The one-way nature of the game continued with Aleksic coming to Cockburn’s rescue twice in as many minutes, tipping over the crossbar a long-range Jake Geddes effort then coming off his line to again deny Clarke.
Cockburn didn’t threaten until the 23rd minute when Adrian Webster volleyed just high from a Marc Anthony corner. Still, it was Inglewood that was holding sway and Sandi Loncar’s low shot on the run was captured by Aleksic. Grant lured Aleksic off his line only lob the wrong side of the post, then Adrian Caceres crashed a shot off the underside of the crossbar. This wastefulness was punished in stoppage time when Feely beat Darko Ilomanoski to the ball which he slid past Oliver Taseski from 6-metres to level the game.
Fired up by coach Tony Castiello, Cockburn emerge for the second half a much stronger proposition. A long throw from Shane Nunes found Webster but his back post header was wide, then Feely flicked a Llewelyn Bake cross just past the post at close-range. Cockburn’s reward came in the 54th minute when a cross by Jon Davite picked out Feely who headed in at the near post. This goal took the game up to a whole new level with both teams aware anything less than a win would put them deep in serious trouble at the wrong end of the table.
Taseski did well to keep out another shot by Feely, then down the other end Loncar’s close-range volley was well saved by Aleksic. A goal bound Caceres’ shot was blocked by Nunes and Aleksic kept out Aaron Colli’s low follow-up. Taseski made a brave smothering save at the feet of Feely after he’d been sent clear by Wesley Britz. Inglewood almost snuck a late equaliser when Loncar played through a square defence for Grant who had the target in his sights when Nunes applied a vital tackle.
Cockburn boss Castiello was delighted with the result, but was disappointed with the first half performance and knows that survival is in their own hands now. “I told the boys at the break I wasn’t happy with the performance in the first half and we were lucky to still be in the game at half time,” said Castiello. “To the boy’s credit they did just that and were delighted with the three points, which were vital with results elsewhere in the league going as they did.”
LATE REVIVAL REIGNITES JOONDALUP
ECU Joondalup scored three times in the last fifteen minutes to topple Sorrento 4-3 at the Edith Cowan University campus in Joondalup. The comeback - capped by goals from John Thornley, Scott Blackmore and Jamie Watt - keeps alive Joondalup’s finals hopes while seriously jeopardising Sorrento’s quest as the fight for fifth position heats up. “We left it a bit late but played really well at the end and it was great team effort,” Joondalup’s Dan Allen said. “We have played well against the top teams this year so if we make the finals, we will be confident we can do well.”
Much of the first half was controlled by Sorrento, who needed only 10 minutes for James Morgan to fire them into a deserved lead. Through slick movement of the ball the visitors continually applied the pressure in search of a second goal. However, it was to be Joondalup that next found the net with Watt converting from the penalty spot after 37 minutes. Half-time was looming on the horizon when Daryl Platten restored Sorrento’s advantage to make it two-one at the interval.
A goal on the run by Adam Hayton after 67 minutes appeared to seal an important Sorrento victory. However, the home team had other thoughts and eight minutes later some crisp passing out of midfield ended with John Thornley reducing the deficit. Only a couple more minutes pass before Blackmore levelled the game with fierce free-kick. With their confidence soaring, Joondalup created several chances to grab the winner only to be denied by the brilliance of ‘keeper Curtin Aspden.
The visitors could have gone back in front on 89 minutes when Jason Mirco found Todd Harnwell unmarked and inside the 18-yard box but the Sorrento captain sprayed well wide of the target. Watt emerged as the hosts saviour moments later when he broke clear of the defence to rifle in the winner, and in the process breathe new life into his team’s season.
BAYSWATER GO CLEAR IN DIVISION ONE
Bayswater City moved one step closer to the Division One title by defeating Morley Windmills 3-1 at Wotton Reserve. The visitors grabbed a 17th minute lead through Damien Catalano who tapped the ball into an empty net after Morley goalkeeper Matt Darling had attempted to round him inside the 18-yard box. The two teams traded shots on goal for the remainder of the half with Catalano and Anthony McStea each going close to extending Bayswater’s lead, while Morley’s chance came the way of Blaz Radonovic.
The second half was a far more open affair with both teams unable to make the most of their opportunities. That was until the 72nd minute when Josh Tumoe finished from close-range after great work in the middle of the park from McStea. Morley replied on 81 minutes with Radonovic halving the deficit after rounding his marker and rifling into the net from 18-metres. But that was as close as the hosts got to a point as in the final minute of regulation time Tumoe sealed victory - and possibly the championship - after another goalkeeping error presented the youngster with an open goal.
GOSNELLS FORCE BUNBURY INTO SUBMISSION
Bunbury Forum Force’s title hopes suffered a crushing blow when defeated 3-2 by Gosnells City at Walter Padbury Reserve. The opening 45 minutes was a largely lacklustre affair with neither team able to break the deadlock. It wasn’t until after the break that the game burst into life with Tom Kennedy firing Gosnells into a 46th minute lead after being set-up by Andy Pomfret. The home team doubled their advantage six minutes later with Pomfret finished off a great team move from close-range. This spurred Bunbury into action and with 55 minutes on the clock Rory Binnie ghosted in to head Oliver McGee’s corner into the net.
The teams were level again after 62 minutes when Binnie finished off great work from captain Patrick Quinn and David Murphy. Bunbury now had the momentum and should have scored again with David Rodgers and Patrick Quinn both hitting the crossbar. Those misses would prove costly as in the 79th minute Darren Francis coolly tucked in a one-on-one with Ryan Montgomery after being played clear. The final minutes were tense as Bunbury attempted to salvage the game. David Rodgers hit the post before appeals for handball inside the 18-yard box were dismissed by the referee.
WANNEROO MAKE THIRD SAFE
Wanneroo City secured themselves a top three finish by defeating Forrestfield United 3-1 at Kingsway Reserve in a physical battle. The hosts started in a positive fashion and with just 4 minutes on the clock Brian Cairney sent into the net a Dean Timmings cross from the right. Wanneroo continued to attack and were unlucky not to doubled their lead on 16 minutes when Cairney forced a great save from goalkeeper Luke Woodfin. Forrestfield got themselves back in the game after 31 minutes when Louis Costly converted from 10-metres after great work by Jamie Burns on the right.
Entertainment value was high after the break with both teams caving out early opportunities. Cairney and Timmings went close to scoring Wanneroo a third goal while at the other end of the park it Costly fired wide. In the 55th minute Josh Booysen played a neat one-two with Guy McDonald before firing into the bottom corner from 18-metres to put Wanneroo back in front. The points was sealed on 68 minutes when Brad McDonald played though Jonathon McGahern who slipped the ball past Woodfin in a one-on-one.
FREMANTLE REWARDED FOR SPIRITED REVIVAL
Fremantle Spirit ended a seven-game winless run by dumping fellow Division One strugglers Rockingham City 5-2 at Wauhop Park. The win - just Fremantle’s fourth of the winter - came courtesy of a late goal blitz in which the home team hit the back of the net four times in the space of eleven minutes. The first half was largely uneventful with both teams prodding and probing for openings without generating much in the way of shots on goal. Lance Louvie was working hard for the home side while much of Rockingham’s drive came through cental midfielder Darren Lawler.
The game sparked into life after the break with Tyrone Fenwick pushing the ball into the net during a 48th minute goalmouth scramble. It took Rockingham only eight minutes to respond through Steven Drew, who headed in at the back post after Fremantle failed to properly deal with a corner. Sam Carrello should have restored the hosts lead from the penalty spot but goalkeeper Craig Olejnik rose to the occasion. But that was forgotten soon enough as substitute Anthony Fearon converted a 76th minute penalty which was followed by two goals in three minutes from Darren Monaghan. Josh Senior pulled a goal back for Rockingham from the spot shortly before Louvie iced Fremantle’s cake with their fifth goal of the afternoon.
QUEENS PARK THROW IT AWAY AT ASHFIELD
Ashfield overturned three-goal deficit to snatch a thrilling 5-5 draw with Queens Park at Ashfield Reserve. Queens Park made a flying start with Josh Gowland putting away a cross from the right at close-range after only 4 minutes. Gowland created the visitors second goal on 19 minutes, playing in Jason Feather who coolly stroked past the oncoming goalkeeper. The game looked to be over when Feather added his second by beating the ‘keeper to a cross which he headed into the net with 24 minutes gone. A shell-shocked Ashfield found their way back into the game a minute before half-time when Gary Murdoch’s shot from 18-metres deflected into the net off a defender.
The second half was as just as exciting with the teams sharing a further six goals. On 56 minutes Wayne Culverwell bagged Ashfield’s second after good work in the lead-up by John Monterosso. The teams were brought level nine minutes later by Leo Harman, who converted from the penalty spot after he’d been felled. Feather completed his hat-trick and put Queens Park back in control by finishing a one-on-one with the ‘keeper after being played in by Gowland in the 71st minute.
Two minutes on and Ashfield had another equaliser, Culverwell scoring a carbon copy of his earlier goal with Monterosso again providing the ammunition from the right. It looked as though Queens Park had won the game with eight minutes left when Calito Anthony rocketed into the net from 22-metres. However, Ashfield were not to be denied and in the final minute were awarded another penalty that Harman sent into the net to complete a remarkable game. The result leaves Queens Park three points behind Ashfield at the foot of the Division One table.
INJURY DENIES HERD LINCOLN MOVE
Attempts to bring Chris Herd back to Lincoln City have been thwarted by injury. Imps boss Chris Sutton has wanted to sign the talented young midfielder on loan after a brilliant 22-game spell with the club last season. However, Sutton was forced to abandon those plans after learning Herd was on the sidelines. “We wanted to bring Chris Herd back because he did fantastically well for us last season,” said Sutton. “But the problem is that he is injured and he is going to be out for another two months which is a blow.”
BAIRD CLEARED FOR GLORY
Michael Baird's transfer nightmare came to an end today when he finally received provisional clearance to kick-off his Perth Glory career. The striker was immediately added to the travelling party for tomorrow's away fixture with A-League newcomers Melbourne Heart. Glory had also included Andy Todd in the squad after his recovery from a knee problem, however, the defender's hopes of taking part were dashed when he was struck down by illness this morning.
Baird, who has endured months of frustration following his move from Romanian club Universitatea Craiova, does not expect to go straight into Glory's starting eleven with Branko Jelic and Robbie Fowler in good form. "Maybe I will be lacking a little bit (of fitness)," he said today. "I don't know what the system is going to be for this weekend but I wouldn't expect to start. If I do start that's good but if not Branko's in great form and Robbie's playing well. I feel ready to start and I'd definitely love to start but I'm not going to be upset if I don't at the moment."
REDEVELOPED LITIS STADIUM COULD BE THE NEW ‘HOME OF FOOTBALL’
A 'Home of Football' is one step closer following a submission to the Town of Vincent for the redevelopment of Litis Stadium. A specially convened Football West Taskforce this week presented the council with a high level Concept Plan, Progress Report and proposed Schedule of Works that would centralise all aspects of the game's administration, coaching and development as well as provide a quality stadium for major games.
The Concept Plan comprises a phased in development over a number of stages with the primary goal being the establishment of an administrative complex housing Football West, Perth Glory and the WA Football Hall of Fame on the opposite side of the pitch to the existing stands at Litis Stadium. There is the potential for additional office space that may be sub-let to other sporting organisations or sports science/medicine consultation rooms.
A major redevelopment of the playing arena would see the pitch replaced by a FIFA approved artificial surface, the construction of four new dressing rooms, match official rooms and other competition management offices. A lighting upgrade and improved spectator facilities, including up to 5,000 new seats, complete the redevelopment of the main arena. An additional artificial surface training arena is proposed for the Britannia Reserve immediately adjacent to the main stadium.
The concept of a 'Home of Football' has long been a major objective in the development of the game in Western Australia. The proposed redevelopment of Litis Stadium would impact on the neighbourhood, surrounding residences and commercial enterprises of Mount Hawthorn and has therefore been opened to public comment and community consultation. Progressing the 'Home of Football' concept depends upon the estimated financial costs as well as Football West gaining government support at State and Federal levels.
PREMIER LEAGUE IN PREVIEW
Carl Medica and Alex Christie will take charge of Western Knights for the first time when they host Armadale in tomorrow's footballwa.net match of the week. Armadale have never won in the league at Nash Field so will need a repeat of their Cup quarter-final heroics - in which they downed the Knights on penalties - to stay on track for the play-offs. Goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock is back after serving suspension, however, the visitors are without defender Matt Bennion due to a fractured cheek bone. The Knights' loss of captain David Annall (suspension) has been offset to a degree by Duncan Hind's return.
It's hoped the relegation fight will become a little clearer after Saturday's round of games. Swan United know anything less than three points will simply not be good enough when they visit a Perth SC outfit just a couple of points off top spot. Michael Van Dongen and Liam Boland are pushing for a starting return for the black and whites who have lost influential midfielder David Perich (studying overseas). Perth striker David Onoforo has put his hand up for selection while Antonio Naglieri is nearing full fitness following time out with a hip injury.
Cockburn City will go a long way to securing their Premier League future by taking maximum points home from Inglewood United, who also remain in the relegation mix. Inglewood coach Shane Pryce is already without Daniel Stoitis (suspended) and has his fingers crossed Adrian Caceres (ankle), Michael Baczynski (knee) and Jake Geddes (knee) recover in time to line-up. If Adrian Webster and Marc Anthony are allowed to assert themselves and provide an open supply to Rory Feel then Cockburn stand a very good chance of going home with the goods.
ECU Joondalup have pride to play for when they host Sorrento in the local derby. Out of finals contention, Joondalup are missing Charlie Comyn-Platt and Dale McCulloch due to suspension while Jake Benson-Cooper could come into the first eleven pending a late fitness test. Sorrento has lost once in five visits to Joondalup and need to win this time out in order to stay in fifth spot and ahead of Armadale. Ryan Jeans and Darren Quinncroft are vying for a starting spot in place of Joe Lamplough (suspended). The four Saturday afternoon games start at 3.00pm.
Saturday’s evening fixture takes place at the Hyundai Stadium where Mandurah City are home to newly crowned Cup winners Stirling Lions (6.00pm). Mandurah coach Stuart Young is grateful Jordan Rhodes is back from overseas and available for selection as he has experienced campaigners Andy Brown and Craig Young out due to suspension. Stirling may not have won in four league games but confidence is sky-high following last weekend’s Cup Final victory. Tom Ingram and Stef Frost have impressed in recent outings, while James Turvill has made the spot between the posts his own.
Balcatta’s final home game of the year has them up against Floreat Athena at Grindleford Reserve on Sunday (3.00pm). A recall may be on the cards for Jack Clisby, Michael Black and Geneveo Human as coach Salv Todaro ponders who to bring into Balcatta’s eleven for suspended pair Adam Tong and Matt Italiano. Adam Bachiller, Branimir Mikulic and Jovo Pavlovic have big roles to play as Floreat attempt to bounce back from last weekend’s Cup Final loss.
DIVISION ONE IN PREVIEW
State League survival is at stake when Ashfield hosts Queens Park in tomorrow's twentieth weekend of Division One fixtures. A long winter has had the clubs slumped towards the foot of the table in what has evolved into an epic battle to avoid relegation. Queens Park claimed a 4-3 win over Ashfield in late May and should they repeat that performance then the teams will go into the final two rounds of the season with equal points. However, a result in Ashfield's favour will consign Queens Park to last place.
There won't be a moments rest for table-topping Bunbury Forum Force when they take on Gosnells City at Walter Padbury Reserve. Gosnells have their sights set on a top four finish to the season and will be pulling out all the stops to overturn the one-nil loss they sustained in Bunbury earlier in the season. A Bayswater City win away at neighbouring Morley Windmills could propel them into the outright leadership come Saturday evening.
Wanneroo City's chase for promotion may be over for another year but that doesn't mean they'll be taking it easy for the visit of Forrestfield United. A home win for Dianella White Eagles against Canning City will go a long way to securing them a final placing in the top half of the table. Fremantle Spirit will be looking to end a seven-game winless run when they welcome Rockingham City to Wauhop Park. All six Division One games start at 3.00pm tomorrow.
KNIGHTS SACK COACH
Western Knights are in caretaker mode following the shock departure of Premiership winning coach Paul Price. It is understood tensions had been simmering between the two parties for some time before the Knights hierarchy formally decided on Wednesday evening that it was time for the club to go in a new direction. The move comes as a surprise as, with two home and away games remaining, the Knights are riding high at the top of the table and poised to defend the Premier League crown won last season. Carl Medica, who played eleven seasons with the Knights, and Alex Christie have taken over first team coaching duties until the end of the season.
GLORY HAVE OPTIONS: COYNE
Milestone man Jamie Coyne is confident Perth Glory has the versatility to give Melbourne Heart palpitations when the teams meet on Sunday at AAMI Park. Glory beat Melbourne Victory 2-0 at the same venue two weeks ago but Coyne, who will make his 100th A-League appearance, said that win had not necessarily provided the blueprint for his team's approach against Heart. "We sat back quite a lot and countered Melbourne, which worked well against them that night. But I don't know if we'll do the same this weekend," Coyne said.
Coyne, 29, felt Glory could adapt to varying circumstances and indicated they might apply a different approach against Heart, who are winless after three games. "They (Victory and Heart) are two different sides and the way they play is different," Coyne added. "If the coaches want to change the formation around we've got the players to do that. We've got a lot of attackers and midfielders who obviously want to be playing and it's up to the coaches to try and work out the best way to go."
Glory have taken a close look at a Heart line-up that features Perth-raised striker Eli Babalj, who scored his first A-League goal against Adelaide United last week. "We'll look at them a bit more over the next couple of days," he said. "We can look at what they did for the last couple of weeks but you just don't know if they'll have the same set-up or use the same players this weekend. So, we'll concentrate a lot more on ourselves and what we need to do in the game."
Jamie Harnwell's calf muscle tear forces coach David Mitchell to reshuffle his defence with new signing Josh Mitchell favoured to slot in alongside Coyne. Mitchell is also pondering a change at the other end of the park with Mile Sterjovski sidelined by an ankle problem. Melbourne are winless after three games and enter the game without Socceroos defender Michael Beauchamp, who has an ankle injury, while striker John Aloisi is yet to play this season after surgery on a torn hamstring.
KNIGHTS TEST AWAITS SHARROCK
Cyril Sharrock is itching to get back between the posts for Saturday's vital trip to Western Knights. The Reds shot-stopper hasn't played for close to a month due to suspension and is keen to help his club to what would be a historic first ever finals appearance. "It's great to be back in the squad and I can't wait to get on the pitch, it seems like I haven't played in months," Sharrock said. "Gareth (Deeg) did a top job whilst I was away, considering the long lay-off he has had."
Armadale will be going all out for victory against the Knights in an attempt to close the three point gap on fifth-placed Sorrento. "With the squad we have I feel we always have a chance against any team. The firepower up-front of James Robinson and Matt Barlow and the solid men at the back with Steve MacDonald, Andy Bowyer and Michael Ord," Sharrock explained. "It will be great to make the top five but we have a tough run in with Perth SC after the Knights so we will have to see (if we make the finals)."
Unfortunately Armadale head into the round minus defender Matt Bennion, who is out with a fractured cheek bone. "Matty's injury was a big blow and I here he has had surgery and is on the recovery trail so, hopefully, he might be back for finals if we make them," said Sharrock, who feels the Reds have the depth to cover. "Mark Darby has been a good replacement for him. He had a steady game against Mandurah City in his comeback and is always consistent when he plays."
Brad Hassell's team appear to have timed well their finals run but, even so, Sharrock would like to see a little consistency on match day. "The team has certainly gelled on and off the pitch. The dressing room can be madness at times with the banter flying around," he said. "The team on paper is as good as any in the league but consistency and our home form may have let us down a little this year. With the quality in the side I feel we can compete with any team on the day."
CARRELLO BACKS FREMANTLE
A bright future awaits Fremantle Spirit following a season of hard work both on and off the field. Defender Sam Carrello, one of only three first team players to remain with the club following last summers mass exodus, has been happy with what has been achieved in 2010. "This season has been a success, we may not have picked up as many points as we would have liked but the team has come along quite well and at times has played some really good football," said 19-year old Carrello. "With each game we have gained experience that will hopefully serve us better in the future."
Fremantle's year of transition has been build on the foundations of youth development. "Coming into the season we had only Jake Sacco, Rob Colalillo and myself still around from last year," Carrello explained. "Allan Pottier and Wally Aquino had a lot of work to do to bring in a whole new squad whilst also pushing up some promising younger boys from the reserves and 18's. Obviously we have some really talented young players in the squad, all we are really missing is a few senior players to guide us and settle us down on the pitch. So with a year of first team football behind the squad we should be in good stead for next year."
The last few months have been tough on the port side who've posted just two points from their last seven outings. "When I look back at the results we have been unlucky not to pick up more points from a few of the games," commented Carrello. "One week we turn up to play and we play well which was shown with draws against Wanneroo City and Dianella White Eagles, which probably should have been wins instead of draws, then the next week we get beaten. As a squad we recognise this inconsistency isn't good enough."
Carrello feels Fremantle's lack of on-field success this year is due to a combination of factors. "We have the raw talent to potentially be a good side, but raw talent alone doesn't always get you there. To be honest we have really missed the experience of three or four senior players," he said. "Throughout the season we have created some great chances to score but we have lacked that killer instinct when it has mattered, against more experienced teams you can't afford to miss those sorts of chances."
Fremantle defeated Rockingham City 3-0 earlier in the season but Carrello knows Saturday's return match at Wauhop Park is going to be a far closer affair. "We go out onto the pitch every Saturday hopeful of getting three points and this week will be no different, although we know it will be more difficult this time around," he said. "Rockingham have got a new coach and lately have been picking up a few points so it's going to be difficult. But if we play the way we know we can than I'm confident come the final whistle we will have a result in our favour."
“IT’S HARD TO STOP US” SAYS COCKBURN’S DAVITE
Cockburn City can take a giant step towards Premier League survival by claiming victory at Inglewood United on Saturday. With two regular season games to play the Cockerels find themselves level on points with Swan United, but with the advantage of a superior goal difference. Defender Jonathan Davite is confident his club can come away with the good this weekend and pull clear of the drop zone. "We're a good side - when were firing it's hard to stop us," said Davite, a former Inglewood player.
Davite says Cockburn's record of just five wins from twenty games played isn't a fair reflection of their overall performance this season. "We definitely deserve to have won more games," commented Davite, who concedes there have been problems at both ends of the park. "We've let in some pretty sloppy goals that have cost us results, and we've also created some great chances but haven't been enough clinical in front of goal."
Two goals from Rory Feely and another by Adrian Webster earned Cockburn a 3-1 win over ECU Joondalup last time out. "The boys have lifted, especially against Joondalup," said Davite. "It was probably the biggest game in the clubs' history, we were three points adrift at the bottom and needed a win desperately. We need to bring that same mentality and spirit to this weeks' game to get another win and get away from the relegation zone."
The importance of a Cockburn win at Inglewood isn't lost on Davite. "It's a must-win game for us this week, we need to lift and grab a win ... our destiny is our hands," he said. "We have no choice but to leave it all on the pitch and hope other results go our way, but at the same time we can't just rely on other teams. We've been playing some good football lately and need to bring what we had against Joondalup to this weeks' game." Cockburn's away clash with Inglewood starts at 3.00pm on Saturday.
SIDDALL EXPECTS A TOUGH DAY AT THE OFFICE
Successive Premier League crowns are within reaching distance for Western Knights, however, goalkeeper Frazer Siddall knows his team has a fight on their hands this weekend. Armadale tipped the Knights out of the Cup on their last visit to Nash Field and need victory on Saturday to keep alive their hopes of finals football. "Armadale are a very hard side to play against, they are very physical and have good finishers of the ball," said Siddall, a Great Britain representative at the World University Games. "It will be a very hard game for both teams."
Siddall is adamant the Knights have the quality and depth to cover for the loss of captain David Annall, who misses this week's game due to injury. "Losing Dave is a big blow, it's hard to replace the amount of experience he has. But with Duncan Hind coming back it softens that blow a bit," said Siddall, who already has one eye on the top five play-offs. "The tricky thing about finals football is that no matter how well you've played all season, one bad game as a team spells the end of your chances."
One of the State League's best shot-stopper's, Siddall is keeping open his options as he nears the end of his second season with the Knights. "I've always wanted to play at the highest level possible," said Siddall, who played in the United States college system prior to joining Wanneroo City in 2008. "I'd happily travel anywhere to play professionally, it all just depends on how people perceive your talents - two people can look at the same player and have two totally different opinions. I have no plans yet but I'm always keeping my options open."
The Knights flattered to deceive in their most recent outing when early second half goals from Jack Doyle and David Micevski saw them scrape past Swan United 2-1. "These things happen in football, chances get missed and sometimes you can end up losing or drawing," said Siddall of his teams' performance in the Swan Valley. "The main thing from last week is we took all three points at a ground we don't have a good record at, and kept up the pressure on the other teams to deliver." The Knights come face-to-face with Armadale at Nash Field from 3.00pm on Saturday.
MADASCHI AIMS FOR SOCCEROOS RETURN
Portosummaga defender Adrian Madaschi is hopeful coming face-to-face with some of Italy's best strikers on a weekly basis can propel him into the plans of new Socceroos coach Holger Osieck. Madaschi, a junior with Perth SC, shot to prominence in 1999 as a member of the Joeys squad which went all the way through to the final of the 1999 Under-17 World Cup. Since then he's represented Australia at the 2004 Olympic Games and made five senior appearances - the most recent being against the Republic of Ireland twelve months ago - while forging a professional career in Italy and Scotland.
Now, thirteen years after heading overseas, Madaschi is ready to take on the best Serie B has to offer after signing a contract extension with Portosummaga. "I am confident that playing regularly in Serie B will provide a strong claim to be involved with the Socceroo set-up and that is my second main goal for this year," he told Aidan Ormond of 4-4-2 Australia. "I am also the vice-captain of the club so I am 100% familiar with everyone involved. Over the past four years we’ve achieved two historic promotions so it’s an exciting time."
Madaschi feels confident Portosummaga will be able to hold their own and remain in Serie B - the highest level the club from Veneto have ever played - beyond the coming season. "The team has retained the backbone of last year's championship winning team, although three or four important individuals have moved. The club's philosophy is bringing in quality young players with a mix of experienced players from Serie B, and slowly things are shaping up, with other players to still be introduced to the squad," he said.
Helping Portogruaro win promotion to Serie B has put Madaschi within touching distance is a career goal. "I came to Italy as a 15-year old with Atalanta and my dream then was to play in Serie A. It seemed like something imminent around the age of 19-20 when things were going great for me," he commented. "For various reasons it didn't happen and it hasn't happened yet, but the dream is still well and truly alive and I have more belief now than ever. I would like to use this season in Serie B as a catalyst to try and move to Serie A and fulfil that dream."
Madaschi has only positive memories of that fateful day in November 1999 when Australia's Under-17 team went down to Brazil in a penalty shoot-out. "It was one of the most important feats in Australian football and to have been a part of that team that came so close yet so far still makes me proud today," said Madaschi, whose team mates included Josh Kennedy, Jade North and Scott McDonald. "We defied all odds under the great management of 'Boss' Les Scheinflug to lose heart-achingly in the final to Brazil on penalties 8-7."
After several years with Atalanta, Madaschi headed to Scottish club Partick Thistle in search of first team football. "It gave me the chance at the age of 21 to play in the Scottish Premier League, a very competitive and respected competition on a regular basis," said Madaschi, who played 58 games for Partick. "It specifically gave me the chance to play against great teams in fantastic stadiums, like Celtic and Rangers."
A strong season at club level led to Madaschi's call-up to the Socceroos for the mid-2004 friendly series with Turkey. "I think that was a growing period of my life and consequently I was no longer the boy that people had seen in the Under-17s campaign in New Zealand," he said. "In 2004, I was a grown man preparing myself for senior football. That was my first experience with the Socceroos and it was an extremely proud moment for me just being on the bench against Turkey."
Two weeks later Madaschi made his senior international debut in a World Cup qualifier against New Zealand, and that was quickly followed by further outings against Tahiti, Fiji and the Soloman Islands. But he'd have to wait until August 2009 for his fifth cap to arrive, against the Republic of Ireland. "It was a great opportunity to be back involved with the Socceroos after five years of absence and a lot of hard work in-between," he said.
Madaschi had hoped his run against the Republic of Ireland, in which he was a second half substitute for Patrick Kisnorbo, would bring him into World Cup reckoning. "I thought my appearance was positive. On the back of that, I hoped to have been involved a bit more," he added. "Post-World Cup I'm sure things will be changing. The new German coach was appointed and I hope that by performing at club level I can get a chance to show myself to the new coach."
Now aged 28, Madaschi is confident he can play a role in Australia's qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. "The last four years of my career have been a constant building process and the promotion results have been great," he said. "At this point, with Serie B football, I really feel I can take my game to a new level and that is what I will be striving to do this season to project myself forward for the next World Cup campaign, and with an eye on Serie B and pushing myself even further to Serie A."
BENSON-COOPER SHINES IN JOONDALUP CUP WIN
Teenager Jake Benson-Cooper overcame illness to score the winning goal for ECU Joondalup in last weekend’s State League Reserve Cup Final. A serious bout of the flu had Benson-Cooper, 18, in doubt leading into the game but the midfielder is glad he put his hand up for selection at the eleventh hour. “It was a brilliant win for the team on Sunday, I always knew we would pull through,” Benson-Cooper said. “In the first half we started sloppy and our passing game went out of the window. The coach had a word at the break and we came out with our heads switched on and got the ball down and started to play like we had in our Cup run, and we got our rewards.”
Benson-Cooper’s inclusion came as welcome relief for Joondalup coach David Tough who was somewhat short of option against Armadale. Joondalup had just fourteen players available for the game due to competition regulations that require players to have featured in a minimum of six under-23 games to be eligible for the Cup Final. “We did have the bare minimum of players,” Benson-Cooper explained. “But like Toughy said the side would have not been any different anyway as it would have been hard for him to switch players. He was pretty confident going into the game, although he didn’t show it on the day.”
Getting their hands on the trophy was a just reward for Joondalup with Benson-Cooper paying tribute to his coach. “Toughy has done a great job with ECU, and he lives and breathes football. He gets stressed out when we aren’t winning, so it’s good feeling to the win the Cup,” said the midfielder, who has been coached by Tough for the past two seasons. “His training sessions are always fun and we love the head tennis. We’ve been close to winning a trophy but not quite made it, so it’s nice to have won something finally.”
Joondalup coach Tough had nothing but praise for 18-year old Benson-Cooper. “Jake was our match winner on Sunday, he made a goal and scored the winner. He showed great character and desire as he had been ill most of the week, and wasn’t 100%. His work rate was incredible and gave everything to the cause and was totally spent by the end of the game,” commented the coach. “Everyone at the club knows how much talent Jake has and when he becomes more tactically aware with his positioning he’s going to be a top player for the first team.”
Benson-Cooper was on the books of Leicester City and turned out for Loughborough Dynamo prior to moving to Perth. This season he’s furnished regular appearances for Joondalup’s reserves with a handful of first team outings, with plans to become a fixture of the latter in the not too distant future. “The club has a great reputation of bringing young players through the ranks and I have been pushing for a first team spot this season, but not quite cemented my place,” he said. “I’ve got to get more consistency in my game, and hopefully that will come in 2011.”
YOUNG STARS TO PLAY BARCELONA
The cream of Western Australia’s teenage talent will take their place alongside European giants Barcelona and Benfica at this week’s Cangjin Tournament in South Korea. The National Training Centre Under-15’s have been invited to participate in the eight-team tournament where they’ll play Barcelona (Spain), Valenciennes (France) and Cheong-Nyong (South Korea). Cerezo Oska (Japan), Baekho (South Korea), Benfica (Portugal) and Zenit St Petersburg (Russia) make up the other qualifying group.
Football West’s Andrew Bettell says it is an honour for the association to be invited to such a prestigious tournament. “This is a fantastic opportunity for our young players to be exposed to competition at the highest level,” he said. ““Perhaps more important is the invitation to participate, which indicates the ever-increasing standing of development in Western Australia.”
The National Training Centre Under-15 squad to play at the Cangjin Tournament features Nicholas Ambrogio, Daniel Buhagiar, Jacob Collard, Kieran Colwell, Matthew Davies, Daniel Dols, Jordan Franken, Scott Galloway, Byron Hudson, Alexsandar Jovic, Guy Kalma, Ogi Lalovic, Harry O’Brien, Adrian Petroski, Luke Radonich, Callum Richardson, Bor Bor Sambindi and Slobodan Vulin. Chris Ola is coach of the side with Warren Grieve his assistant.
GARCIA GETS THE NOD FROM NEW COACH
Attack-minded Richard Garcia has gained selection for the Socceroos upcoming friendlies with Switzerland and Poland. New Socceroos coach Holger Osieck today named an experienced twenty-player squad for next month's fixtures which pits Australia against Switzerland (3 September) and Poland (7 September) for the first time at senior international level. Osieck expects his squad - which includes long-time Socceroos Mark Schwarzer, Harry Kewell, Tim Cahill, Brett Emerton and Lucas Neill - will closely reflect that for the Asian Cup in January.
The Australia squad to play Switzerland and Poland is Brett Holman (AZ Alkmaar), Nathan Burns (AEK Athens), Brett Emerton (Blackburn Rovers), Carl Valeri (Calcio), Luke Wilkshire (Dinamo Moscow), Tim Cahill (Everton), Mark Schwarzer (Fulham), Harry Kewell, Lucas Neill (Galatasaray), Mile Jedinak (Genclerbirligi), Jason Culina (Gold Coast United), Richard Garcia (Hull City), Michael Beauchamp (Melbourne Heart), Scott McDonald (Middlesbrough), Josh Kennedy (Nagoya Grampus), Dario Vidosic (Nurnberg), Adam Federici (Reading), Jade North (Tromso Il), David Carney (FC Twente) and Matthew Spiranovic (Urawa Red Diamonds).
NO HURRY FOR TODD
Experienced defender Andy Todd is unlikely to return from injury for Perth Glory's game with Melbourne Heart this weekend. With Jamie Harnwell set to miss the game with a calf injury, Glory's defensive depth will put to the test but coach David Mitchell won't be rushing Todd back into the line-up. "Andy can play but he's probably just not quite ready yet," said Mitchell. "It's one of them (situations) that he probably needs another week's training under his belt. We'll just see how the week goes, how it pans out."
Mitchell also played down speculation of a training ground bust-up between assistant coach Ian Ferguson and goalkeeper Tando Velaphi during today's session at McGillvray Oval. A frustrated Velaphi kicked a ball away during a practice game, prompting Ferguson to order the 'keeper to retrieve the ball or quit the session. Velaphi initially ignored the instruction before walking slowly to fetch the ball then proceeded straight to the change rooms. "They had a bit of a tiff but that's all right," said Mitchell, who claimed Velaphi left the session to go to the toilet.
GLORIOUS EXPERIENCE FOR YOUNG GUNS
Perth Glory Youth coach Gareth Naven says his squad's participation in the 2010 Weifang Cup in China was an invaluable experience for everyone involved. The under-19 competition presented a tough task to the young Glory lads who faced off against some of the best talent in Asia, including national teams from China, Korea Republic and the United Arab Emirates. Glory Youth finished the tournament in fifth spot, winning two of their five games played in a seven day period.
Naven says he is extremely proud of the way his players conducted themselves both on and off the pitch. "The players improved individually and collectively as a group and I feel the experience was of immeasurable value to their development as players and people," said the coach. "This type of improvement would not have been possible if we had stayed in Perth for the pre-season. I think the boys had an exciting tournament where they played mature football at times."
Glory Youth opened their campaign with a trio of losses to China (4-1), Korea Republic (1-0) and the United Arab Emirates (1-4). That run was ended on match day four when Sebit Oyet scored the only goal in a 1-0 win against Shandong. The team finished on a high with a stunning 3-0 win over Korea Republic, Adam Taggart hitting the back of the net twice with Emmanuel Linga ramming in the third goal.
Reece Vittiglia, who scored against China and the United Arab Emirates, said playing in the Weifang Cup has given Glory Youth the best possible preparation for the coming season. "It was a really good experience for all the boys. We are lucky to have played in such a prestigious tournament," he said. "We played against international opponents on a world stage and the team benefitted as well as every individual. We hope to show this improvement in every game throughout the season."
The trip provided Naven an opportunity to see players in match conditions as he finalises the selection of his Glory Youth squad for the 2010/11 season, which starts next month. "We played very well against strong opposition, two of our best football performances were against national under-19 teams and the majority of our boys were of the 16-18 years age group," said Naven. "It was an honour to be a part of the Weifang Cup and we hope to return in the future."
JONES SALUTES SICK SON'S COURAGE
Liverpool new boy Brad Jones will never forget receiving the phone call from his former wife Julie that shattered his world. When he switched on his phone after a pre-World Cup Australia team meeting in South Africa, Jones heard that their young son was being treated for acute myeloid leukaemia in France. Jones, 28, sacrificed his World Cup dream to rush to Luca's bedside in a Marseille hospital where he was floored by the sight of his 4-year old son wrapped in tubes while undergoing life-saving chemotherapy.
The first two days in hospital after leaving the World Cup were the torture for Jones. "To walk into his ward and see him hooked up to IV, having chemo with all these tubes going in him was hard," said Jones. "He was tired but he was happy to see me and he'd already had his chemo for the day, which made a difference. It wasn't until the next day when he was having chemo that it hit home ... to see your kid in pain and unhappy, that's when it hit home."
While Luca still has a long battle ahead - he's scheduled for a stem cell transplant next month - Jones says things are as positive as could be. "We're just waiting and hoping that he reacts well to treatment," said Jones. "Luca's dealt with it really well. Seeing him and the way he's handled it has made it easier for us to deal with. Luca understands now, he gets a bit bored in the hospital, he's been in there basically the whole time (since the start of June) bar a week, when he was allowed to go home ... when he's not having treatment and not being poked with needles, he's fine."
Jones has no regrets about walking out on the Socceroos just days before the start of the World Cup. "At first I didn't know what was going on. I was just thinking about going and seeing him and thinking that maybe I'll come back," he said. "But when I spoke to Luca's mum and a few of the docs – and then when I saw him – I didn't want to leave him. The World Cup is a massive event, but not many people would choose to leave their child in these circumstances." Register to donate blood or bone marrow by visiting donateblood.com.au or abmdr.org.au
JELIC HAS A SCORE TO SETTLE
Branko Jelic is determined to turn last season's personal disappointment into A-League triumph. The Perth Glory striker, who scorer five goals in eighteen games during an injury and illness hampered A-League debut season, has made a solid start to the new summer with two goals in three appearances. His latest effort, in Saturday's 1-0 home win against Newcastle Jets, ensured Glory made their best start to a season since the A-League was formed in 2005.
33-year old Jelic said he wanted to prove his career, which includes spells with Red Star Belgrade (Serbia) and Energie Cottbus (Germany), was far from over. "I really want to show that I came here to play football; not to finish my career," Jelic told Jonathon Cook of the 'West Australia' newspaper. "We have many very good experienced players. We have world star like Robbie Fowler. We have a couple of very good young players and a couple of Socceroos, so it must be good enough. The fans deserve that. The owner deserves that."
Jelic's close-range finish may have earned Glory all three points but the striker was disappointed he couldn't turn several second half opportunities into goals. "I am the kind of personality who always wants to make something perfect," he said. "So I'm very happy because we won the game but I'm a bit sad because I didn't score some more goals. But it's over and I'm looking towards the next game. Maybe it's better to score three goals in three games than three goals in one game."
OH BOI, IT’S STIRLING’S CUP!
Stirling Lions lifted the State League Cup for a third time in five years by defeating Floreat Athena 2-1 on a sunny afternoon at Frank Drago Reserve. Phil Arnold and an unfortunate own goal inside four minutes made for a crackerjack start with Ludovic Boi’s close-range effort just after the half-hour deciding the outcome. “It’s a great win for our club today, we haven’t had a good record against Floreat in the Cup in recent years so today’s win is fantastic,” Boi said. “It’s a great feeling to have scored the winner, but we had to hang on at the end. The boys gave 100% today, and we had to battle to the end.”
The big crowd was still settling into their seats when Arnold steered the ball in at the back post after goalkeeper Alex Dunn misjudged a long throw from the left by Scott Muirhead. Floreat needed only three minutes to restore parity, Branimir Mikulic threading a pass through to Jared Smith who rounded ‘keeper James Turvill before cutting the ball back into the 6-yard box where Paul Dickson’s attempt to clear ricocheted into the net off Michael Pugliese.
Having each found the net, both teams then settled into a game played out for the most part between the boxes. As a consequence there was very little to get either set of spectators excited. Mario Marcinko put a header too close to Dunn, while at the other end Turvill was grateful Mo Atak didn’t realise he'd failed to take cleanly a bouncing ball. It was Stirling that was in command and on 32 minutes they capitalised through another long Muirhead throw which was helped on by Marcinko for Boi to rifle in from a few metres.
Daniel Niederberger almost gave Floreat a quick reply with a shot from the edge of the 18-yard box that was heading for the top corner when Turvill brilliantly touched it away at full-stretch. Marcinko should perhaps have done better than clip a bouncing ball beyond the top corner as Stirling piled on the pressure leading into half-time. A superb last-gasp tackle by Julian Madaschi thwarted Marcinko in stoppage time, and at the resulting Muirhead corner Bobby Wilson headed wide from 4-metres.
Stirling opened the second period in positive fashion, Arnold flashing wide from the edge of the area. However, the momentum swung in Floreat’s favour following the introduction of John Migas and Johny Mirco. Long-range efforts by Adam Bachiller and Atak missed the target, while in the 77th minute Mikulic went down under the challenge of Paul Dickson with referee Mat Cheeseman well placed to dismiss the resulting penalty claims.
Mirco’s centring 75th minute pass found Mikulic, who expertly tamed the ball before unleashing a powerful low shot on the turn which Turvill somehow kept out. It was all one-way traffic as Floreat desperately sought to send the game to extra-time. Bachiller shot straight at Turvill, then Mirco appeared to be felled by Wilson but again Cheeseman waved away penalty appeals. The final drama came four minutes into stoppage time when Turvill bravely saved at the feet of Mikulic.
Paul Lincoln was delighted with the trophy win, his first as coach of Stirling. “The boy’s played well today, we had a game plan and they stuck to it. I thought the first half we should have been 4-1 up, young Mario (Marcinko) had two one-on-one’s and if one of them goes in it’s a different game,” he said. “To Floreat’s credit they caused us plenty of problems in the last fifteen minutes and I think they will be a bit disappointed not to get anything out of the game, but that’s football I’m delighted to get the result.”
Floreat Athena: Alex Dunn, Jarrad Smith (Johny Mirco 70), Ante Kovacevic, Jovo Pavlovic, Julian Madaschi, adam Bachiller, Miki Vujacic (John Migas 59), Jason Barrera, Branimir Mikulic, Mo Atak, Daniel Niederberger
Stirling Lions: James Turvill, Scott Muirhead, Michael Pugliese, Bobby Wilson, Paul Dickson, Ludovic Boi (Ndumba Mukechie 86), Tom Ingram, Shane Robinson, Matt Stares, Phil Arnold (Stef Frost 77), Mario Marcinko
Bookings: Muirhead (45), Pavlovic (53)
Referee: Mat Cheeseman
JOONDALUP HANG ON TO WIN RESERVES CUP (by Michael Bate, Football West)
ECU Joondalup clinched the State League Reserves Cup by fending off a determined Armadale 2-1 in today's final at Frank Drago Reserve. Jake Benson-Cooper grabbed the winning goal midway through the second half after Jarrad McNally's opener was quickly cancelled out by Samual Bridge. Joondalup were also indebted to goalkeeper Andy Banks who pulled off a stunning save to keep out Darren Kingston's late free-kick.
Armadale started the stronger of the two sides with Bridge and captain Warren Grieve going close with early efforts. Joondalup first attempt came when Max Pope latched onto a poor back pass by Peter Jackson but Armadale goalkeeper Alex Preece was quick off his line. The teams looked nervous and found it difficult to keep possession in the following twenty minutes, with a number of wasteful long passes gifting the ball to the opposition.
Sean Nicholls sparked Armadale into life on the half hour by driving down the right and rolling the ball across the 6-yard box, however, there was no-one there to convert. Six minutes later Grieve found himself in behind the Joondalup defence only to have Mark Tebbut make an important tackle. Armadale looked the more likely to score and perhaps should have done when Nicholls cross from the right was a touch too high for Kingston, who didn't quite have enough spring in his legs to make a connection.
Joondalup made Armadale pay for their wastefulness six minutes into the second half when McNally got in behind the defence and coolly slotted across Preece and inside the far post. But the lead was to be short lived as just a minute later Bridge wriggled free of his marker and, despite miss-hitting his shot, fired beyond Banks from the edge of the 18-yard box.
Stung by surrendering their lead so quickly, Joondalup launched wave after wave of attack. Pope volleyed wide from a Benson-Cooper corner, then McNally was about to pull the trigger when thwarted by Aron Beattie's desperate block. Pope should have restored his side's advantage in the 70th minute but headed wide when found unmarked by substitute Conrad Poi. That miss was forgotten just seconds later as Benson-Cooper glided past two opponents on the edge of the area before firing into Preece's net.
There was still plenty of time for Armadale to get back into the game, and Kingston very nearly had another quick response but his powerful free-kick from 20-metres was pushed over the bar by Banks. The Joondalup 'keeper backed this by again denying Kingston, this time blocking the strikers low shot with his legs. Armadale threw everything at their opponents but the writing was clearly on the wall when Kingston's brave 84th minute header rolled narrowly past the far post.
Armadale: Alex Preece, Peter Jackson, Mark Darby, Aron Beattie, Daniel Paredes, Sean Nicholls, Darren Kingston, Jake Daley (Shariff Mohomad 57), Samual Bridge, Adam Galvin (Cameron Richins 75), Warren Grieve
ECU Joondalup: Andy Banks, Tom Swatton, Lee Thomson, Josh Brook, Mark Tebbutt, Shane Doyle, Jake Benson-Cooper, Jon Stynes, Jarrad McNally (Andy Banks 79), Max Pope (Colin Hoey 82), Jordan Withey (Conrad Poi 67)
Bookings: Stynes (12), Darby (17)
Referee: Steve Knight
PERTH PREVAIL IN YOUTH CUP THRILLER (by David Cameron, Football West)
Perth SC completed an impressive League and Cup double by out-shooting Cockburn City on penalties in a fitting finale to the State League Youth Cup at Frank Drago Reserve. Kristian Toy fired Cockburn ahead early in the second half only for Rory Lowe to equalise within minutes, and with neither team able to find the net for a second time in regulation time it was Perth who triumphed from the spot.
Both teams started the match in a spirited fashion, casting aside any nerves that may be present on such an occasion. The first chance of real significance fell to Chris Rizidis, who met a cross from the right but looped his header harmlessly wide. Cockburn's compact formation prevented Perth from generating the first half chances that they would liked, while Cockburn were limited to attacking on the counter.
The game exploded into life in the second half with a couple of quick goals, a missed penalty and a red card. Cockburn were on the score sheet after 58 minutes when Blake Sokolowski raced down the right before squaring perfectly for Toy who found the net at the second opportunity after goalkeeper Massimo Salamone blocked his initial attempt.
Perth were not about to be denied and two minutes later were back on equal terms, Rory Lowe showing great composure in rolling the ball under oncoming 'keeper Nathan Cipriano and into the far corner. With the prospect of penalties looming both teams stepped up their search for a crucial second goal. And Perth would have had one had Alan Darlington's penalty kick not smashed into the crossbar with Cipriano diving the wrong way.
That miss was compounded moments later when Emmanuel Mansaray was sent off for a second bookable offence. Luck seemed to desert Cockburn in the penalty shoot-out with the crucial first spot kick hit into the post and Salamone making a good save. After Salamone's kept out Cockburn's fourth attempt, it was left to Chris Rizidis to coolly place into the top corner and seal a memorable win for the Blues.
Jubilant Perth coach Aldo Trinca heaped praise on his team following the nail-biting shoot-out. "I was pleased with the team's intensity today and to their credit the boys stayed patient even though things didn't go our way," said Trinca. "As you saw at the end there the boys really enjoyed it and they deserve it after all the hard work that they put in through the season."
Cockburn City: Nathan Cipriano, Marc Zagami, Chris Blackridge, Declan Boyham, Shazalee Abdollah, Ali Gholami (Blake Adams 73), Brad O'Brein, Alex Castiello, Blake Sokolowski, Oscar Thompson, Kristian Toy
Perth SC: Massimo Salamone, J.Pullella, Chris Saldaris, Alan Darlington, Mellad Sakhie (Sebastian Melis 73), Emmanuel Mansaray, Rory Lowe, Josh Pereira, Chris Rizidis, Michael Rizidis, Joshua Wilkins
Bookings: Thompson (60), Mansaray (60), Abdollah (79)
Dismissals: Mansaray (75)
Referee: Taz Paraskevas
JELIC ON HAND TO GIVE GLORY THREE POINTS
Perth Glory has returned to the top of the A-League ladder after defeating Newcastle Jets 1-0 this afternoon at Perth Oval. A contentious goal from first half substitute Branko Jelic, which the Jets believe was handled into the back of the net, ultimately separated the sides in an entertaining clash. The result maintained Glory’s impressive recent home record, as it dominated for the most part with some impressive attacking football. However, the win came at a cost with Mile Sterjovski and Jamie Harnwell leaving the field early due to injury.
The first genuine opening of a scrappy first-half had Sterjovski fire just wide following a well-rehearsed throw-in drill on 17 minutes. Unfortunately for Sterjovski his involvement came to an end shortly after the half-hour mark when a crude Ljubo Milicevic challenge led to his replacement by Jelic. Newcastle went within inches of scoring minutes later when Marko Jesic’s 20-metre free-kick crashed into the crossbar. Half-time was only moments away when Jelic instinctively chested the loose ball in from close-range after Ben Kennedy brilliantly parried a Todd Howarth volley.
A first-half low on incident gave way to a more entertaining second period which opened with Robbie Fowler heading a Howarth cross against the bar. Jelic was unable to steer a 53rd minute volley on target, and ten minutes later the same player blazed over after Naum Sekulovski rounded the ‘keeper and rolled the ball into his path. Last ditch defending by Ljubo Milicevic prevented Fowler from doubling Glory’s lead on 70 minutes after Jelic had teed-up his strike partner.
Chances continued to flow for the home side as full-time approached. Jelic just failed to convert from close-range after Kennedy had flapped at a corner from Fowler, who soon after headed straight at the goalkeeper after a fine cross from his Serbian colleague. New Zealand international Jeremy Brockie gave the 12,031-strong home crowd a late scare when he dragged a shot narrowly wide from just inside the box. But Glory stood firm to see out the remaining minutes and in doing so secure their best start to an A-League season.
GLORY WIN COMES AT A PRICE
Perth Glory have paid a heavy cost for today’s win against Newcastle Jets with Mile Sterjovski and Jamie Harnwell failing to complete the game. Sterjovski limped from the field after 38 minutes with an ankle problem while Harnwell was forced off in stoppage time with a calf injury. “I think Mile has rolled his ankle so that could be two or three weeks,” coach David Mitchell said. “That’s unfortunate because he’s been looking sensational. With Jamie Harnwell it’s a little tweak of his calf and we’ll have to monitor that. Whether it puts him out for next week or not I don’t know.”
VELAPHI AIMS FOR ANOTHER CLEAN SHEET
Goalkeeper Tando Velaphi is aiming to repeat his performance that kept Melbourne Victory scoreless last weekend when Perth Glory take on Newcastle Jets this afternoon. Stung by criticism from commentators during Glory's opening round 3-3 draw with North Queensland Fury, Velaphi responded with a string of saves that helped the club grab their first A-League win in Melbourne. "I didn't think it was great but it wasn't as bad as some people talked it up in the media," Velaphi told the 'West Australian'. "Every time you don't win you're going to be under the microscope, especially as a 'keeper."
Velaphi, 23, refused to let the criticism get to him and after producing potentially match-winning saves against Melbourne he is keen to keep Newcastle at bay and extend Glory's stay at the top of the table. "If you take it to heart it's not going to help you," he added. "Every week is going to be difficult. Newcastle have only conceded one goal and they're defending really well and they've got (ex-English Premier League striker) Michael Bridges up front, who's always dangerous." Coach David Mitchell has indicated he will stick with the starting eleven that downed Melbourne, although he is likely to revert back to a 4-4-2 system.
OLD FRIENDS WRESTLE FOR CUP
Centre stage is held this weekend by the State League Cup Final between trophy holders Floreat Athena and Stirling Lions at Frank Drago Reserve. There’s a lot of history between the two clubs and, having spent much of this season in the upper reaches of the Premier League, this promises to be a fiercely competitive battle that won’t be over until the final whistle sounds. Sunday’s game will be the third time the sides have met this year, Floreat claiming a 2-1 home win way back in April with the return match of a few weeks ago finishing level at 1-1.
The Cup Final has a number of enticing matchups, none more so than the central battle between Shane Robinson and Jason Barrera, both who’ve been integral in their teams successes this year. Phil Arnold has been in scintillating form and how he fares against Jovo Pavlovic will have a big bearing on which team has their hands on the trophy at the end of 90 minutes. It’s a similar story at the other end of the park where Irish import Paul Dickson has the difficult task of limiting Johny Mirco’s influence.
All the news from the Floreat camp is good with Ante Kovacevic having a near full-strength squad to select from. With James Isaia (injury) the only absentee, Kovacevic’s biggest dilemma is limiting his selection to just sixteen players. Stirling boss Paul Lincoln also has a selection headache, but of a very different kind. Injury prevented key defenders Bobby Wilson and Jason Gavin from playing last week with Michael Pugliese making a half-time exit. Floreat and Stirling locks horns in the State League Cup Final from 2.30pm this Sunday at Frank Drago Reserve.
THRILLS AND SPILLS IN RESERVES CUP
The State League Reserves Cup Final promises to be a thrilling ride with Armadale up against ECU Joondalup on Sunday. There’s been a element of luck in both teams progression to the tournament decider, Joondalup getting through the last two rounds with penalty shoot-out wins while Armadale needed the same in their round of four meeting. The club’s have met twice already this season with Armadale claiming victory in April before the points were split at 2-2 just a few weeks ago.
Armadale are determined to make a big impression in their first Reserve Cup Final appearance, and in the process erase what has been otherwise a fairly drab year. Warren Grieve’s on-field leadership and ability to create as well as score goals is going to have a big bearing on how the Reds afternoon pans out, likewise the supply coming through midfield of Sean Nicholls and Ali Paredes. Mark Darby takes charge of what has at times this year been a leaky defence with able support provided by goalkeeper Alex Preece.
The distribution of Joondalup captain Shane Doyle and partner in crime Jake Cooper-Benson out of midfield will be crucial. Opportunities in the final third are going to be limited so Max Pope needs to make the most of any that come his way, while full 90 minutes performances from Andy Banks and Mark Tebbutt at the other end may just be what tips the scales in Joondalup's favour. Armadale and Joondalup locks horns in the State League Reserves Cup Final from 12.00noon this Sunday at Frank Drago Reserve.
FUTURE STARS TO SHINE IN YOUTH CUP FINAL
Cockburn City will be leaving no stone unturned in their quest for State League Youth Cup glory when they meet Perth SC in Sunday morning's final. Perth have already wrapped up the regular season title and turned their attention towards capturing a historic Youth League and Cup double. In their way stand a Cockburn outfit that, while in the bottom half of the table, has twice taken points from Perth in 2010.
Aldo Trinca knows only too well that his Perth players are in for a long afternoon. "When any team plays Perth they always lift their game standards. In saying that, all teams are difficult to play so we must keep fully focused and work hard on the day," the coach said. "The boys have put in the work to give them the edge and the determination to succeed ... winning the Cup would be the ultimate bonus."
Perth and Cockburn have long been the yardstick for youth development and, not surprisingly, some of the state’s best young talent call those clubs home. In Chris Rizidis Perth have unearthed a player who creates as well as scores goals, and if given the opportunity he’ll punish Cockburn to the fullest. Alan Darlington, Josh Pereiera and Michael Rizidis pose significant threat across the middle of the park, while at the back it’s Chris Saldaris who runs the show.
Currently mid-table in the league, Cockburn were the highest scoring team in qualifiers, bagging an astonishing eighteen goals while conceding once. Gary Smith’s team also have the honour of being the only side Perth has not beaten in league competition, the Cockerels winning the most recent encounter 3-1 after being held 2-2 on the opening day of the season. “It’s a massive game for us obviously, our club hasn’t won any silverware for four years so hopefully we can break that drought,” the Cockburn coach commented.
Kristian Toy has already returned a bagful of goal this season for Cockburn and a few more on Cup Final day would be the icing on a superb year for the striker. Ella Mastrantonio may still be a teenager but has already made a handful of appearances for Australia, while from the likes of Blake Sokolowski, Oscar Thompson and Ali Gholami you’re assured of getting a solid 90-minute performance. The State League Youth Cup Final between Cockburn and Perth gets underway at 9.30am this Sunday at Frank Drago Reserve.
FANS TIP A STIRLING WIN
Sunday's State League Cup Final will produce a slender win for Stirling Lions if the local football community know anything about the game. This week's footballwa.net poll asked 'What will be the outcome of the 2010 State League Cup Final?' with 'Stirling to win by one goal' (32%) the most popular choice. However, that option picked up only a handful more votes than 'Floreat to win by one goal' (29%). 'Floreat to win by two or more goals' (21%) came in third followed by 'Stirling to win by two or more goals' (10%). It seems opinions are divided should the game go to penalties with both teams collecting a 4% share of the count. 97 responses were received during the seven-day voting period.
NICOLAIDIS LOOKS TO CUP GLORY
Floreat Athena has very good reason to be confident of keeping their hands on the State League Cup. The trophy holder has not lost to Stirling Lions in 2010 and assistant coach Taki Nicolaidis believes his players will rise to the occasion once again on Sunday afternoon. “It’s not every week you get to play in a Final so for us the importance is to win this game rather than being too focused on going back-to-back,” he said. “Our form hasn’t been too bad in the league (and) we know we have to be at our best.”
Having experienced the passion of many a Floreat-Stirling derbies over the years, both as a player and coach, Nicolaidis knows how important winning the Cup to each finalist. “Floreat and Stirling have a very rich history and both clubs have had a lot of success in the league over the years,” said Nicolaidis, who represented the State while a Floreat player. “The two club have both got very loyal and passionate supporters and they’re expecting a good crowd, so there will be a great atmosphere on Sunday.”
A versatile attacker in his prime, Nicolaidis was on the scoresheet when Floreat defeated Bayswater Inter 2-1 in the Cup Final of 1988. With very little between the two sides which will step out onto Frank Drago Reserve this weekend, he feels the team which takes their chances will come out on top. “Both teams have a very strong defensive record and I’d expect the team that makes the right decisions in the last third, and is more clinical will win the game,” Nicolaidis said.
Nicolaidis is acutely aware of where Stirling’s strengths lie, and knows how difficult it’s going to be to win back-to-back Cups. “Stirling has a number of talented players with a good mix of local talents and seven imports - every player in the team can be a match winner,” he commented. “We just have to concentrate to make sure we are at our best on the day. It should be a great game and I hope both teams can put on a good game for the supporters.”
DICKSON PLANS TO END STIRLING’S DROUGHT
Irish import Paul Dickson says Stirling Lions have the talent and ability to topple Floreat Athena in this weekends’ final State League Cup Final. Stirling have gone trophyless since winning the Cup three years ago but if Dickson has his way then that is about to change. “Stirling is a club that should be competing for trophies,” said the 26-year old. “We know we have a side capable of beating anyone on our day and our preparation has been good. We are confident we can give our club and its supporters something to celebrate come Sunday night!”
An off-season signing from Ards FC in Northern Ireland, Dickson’s versatility has made him an integral part of the Stirling line-up. “I have played a range of positions this season but always felt I have contributed well wherever I played,” said Dickson, who has been utilised by coach Paul Lincoln on the left and right sides of both defence and midfield during the winter. “It’s nice to have been playing every week and been relatively injury free.”
Dickson initially turned out for Stirling five years ago and liked what he saw enough to come back for seconds. “I enjoyed my time at Stirling so much last time I was here I always had thoughts about returning. Things worked out well for me personally at home to allow me to do it this year,” he explained. “Stirling are a really good club and were great to me last time I was here so I had no hesitation in signing with them again.”
Stirling’s form leading up this weekend hasn’t been terrific, their only win in the last five weeks being a four-goal demolition on Swan United in the Cup semi-finals. “On paper its not ideal form coming into a Cup Final but I don’t think we have been playing that badly,” Dickson commented. “We have had a few key injuries and a few refereeing decisions didn’t go our way in a couple of games but generally I think the boys are happy with our performance level going into Sunday’s game.”
Dickson is tipping Sunday’s game to be very close with both teams strengths balancing out the other. “It should be a good game to watch - both teams like to get the ball down and pass it about. It could be very fast and also physical at times so it could have a bit of everything,” he said. “We know Floreat are a very good team - they move the ball very well, are composed and have pace in the right areas. But we are strong enough to compete with any other team, and to prove that by the winning the Cup would be great.”
JONES FACING TOUGH TASK AT LIVERPOOL
New Liverpool signing Brad Jones admits he has a tough job ousting Jose Reina as the club's first-choice goalkeeper. Brought in by manager Roy Hodgson as back-up for Reina, Jones is well aware there are no first-team guarantees following his £2.3million move from Middlesbrough. "They've told me they want me to do what I do and put pressure on Pepe Reina and Diego Cavalieri," the 28-year old told liverpoolfc.tv. "That's fine, I'm happy to do that, I've got to give it a go. Roy Hodgson hasn't promised anything and I would never expect that from a manager."
With over 200 appearances for Liverpool to his name Reina, a member of Spain's World Cup winning squad, has long been Liverpool's number one. "It's not going to be easy to get past Pepe," added Jones. "He's shown over the last couple of years how good he is. You don't play for the clubs he's played for and the tournaments he's played in and not be world class. Obviously that side of it is going to be tough but I'll do what I can and try to put a bit of pressure on him."
Jones was born in Armadale but has Liverpudlian heritage as his mother is from the city. "Mum's over the moon, as is my granddad. It's nice, I have family round here, so it's nice to be in a familiar area," added Jones. "It's 50/50 in the family between Liverpool and Everton, but I'm sticking to the red side. Growing up with a mum who's a Scouser, Liverpool was drilled into me and Liverpool's my team. It didn't take too long to think coming here through!" Jones qualifies as a 'home-grown' player under the new Premier League rules after entering the Middlesbrough Academy from Bayswater City in 1998.
PELLEGRINO LETS HIS FEET DO THE TALKING
Adriano Pellegrino doesn't begrudge being called back from trials with Scottish club Dundee last month to focus on pre-season training with Perth Glory. The midfielder's vibrant contributions coupled with Glory's rise to early A-League leaders has helped wash away any feelings of disappointment that he may have had when his time on Scotland's east coast came to an end.
Pellegrino feels he was close to nailing a deal with Dundee, but understood coach David Mitchell's desire to have his key men back on deck as the new season drew nearer. "I was over there for nearly four months, so there is some disappointment," Pellegrino said. "The timing, I guess, wasn't right. I probably needed to stay for another two or three weeks (to get a deal). I was grateful the club gave me the opportunity to be there and I've still got hopes of maybe going back over one day."
Pellegrino had a three-week trial with Scottish Premier League club Motherwell before moving to Dundee, where he was involved in a busy pre-season. He took part in friendlies against Celtic, Hibernian and MK Dons before returning to Perth to ready himself for a new campaign. "I think the three games I had in ten days just before I came back made a big difference," he said of the coming weekend's home fixture with Newcastle Jets.
Glory upset Melbourne Victory last time out, a result Pellegrino says should send a warning to the club's rivals. "We look back a couple of years ago and we picked up four points away from home through the whole season. So to pick up three points in the first away game is great, but we've got to be level headed now," he said. Glory has received a provisional clearance to play defender Josh Mitchell, whose has been involved in a stand-off with his Romanian club Universitatea Craiova, on Saturday against Newcastle.
CHEESEMAN THRILLED WITH “BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE”
Mathew Cheeseman is honoured to play a part in one of the biggest days on the 2010 football calendar. The 25-year old referee was this week selected to lead the Floreat Athena and Stirling Lions players out onto Frank Drago Reserve for Sunday's State League Cup Final. "Refereeing has been a huge part of my life over the last ten years, and to be selected to officiate the State League Cup Final is definitely a highlight," said Cheeseman, who ran the line in last year's game final between Floreat and Inglewood United.
One of the local scene's most respected officials, Cheeseman is looking forward to being part of the on-field action. "Obviously the players are the stars of the day, so my role will purely be that of a facilitator to ensure that the players are allowed to perform to the best of their ability," added the 25-year old. "Being in the middle gives me the best seat in the house for what promises to be a very entertaining game of football."
Cricket was number one with Cheeseman as a youngster and it was through umpiring at his local sports centre that his passion for football developed. "My officiating career started as an indoor cricket umpiring at the age of 13 and due to a back injury I took up umpiring outdoor cricket a year later," he explained. "I never played football competitively but have always loved the game. The indoor centre that I umpired cricket at asked me to referee some junior soccer for them one day - ten years later and football refereeing has well and truly taken over."
Cheeseman has answered the door every time opportunity has knocked, be it to officiate at junior, youth of senior levels, with the events of 2006 holding a special place in his heart. "I attained my FFA Level 1 Accreditation and refereed my first State Premier League fixture, was appointed to the AFC Under-14 Festival of Football in Malaysia, and whilst at the World Cup as a spectator I received an email from FFA advising that I had been appointed to the A-League Assistants Panel, and made by debut not too long after," he reminisced.
When asked what his most memorable 90 minutes was Cheeseman thought long and hard before answering. "If I had to choose a single game it would probably be last year's State League Grand Final between Western Knights and Perth SC, where we had a great game of football in front of a large crowd," commented Cheeseman, who had the whistle for the State Champions decider. "Hopefully this weekend's game between Floreat and Stirling will be another addition to that list of highlights."
EVERYONE’S OPINION, PART ONE
This weekend's State League Cup Final has been the talk of the town and it appears every man and his dog has an opinion as to how the game will pan out. During the week Peter Simcox of footballwa.net caught up with several of the Premier League's star attractions to get their thoughts on where the finalists - Floreat Athena and Stirling Lions - strengths lie before making a final score prediction...
Daniel Micevski, a former Stirling player, is tipping a close game full of goals. "I think there will be goals on Frank Drago Reserve so Floreat's Daniel Niederberger, Johny Mirco and Branimir Mikulic and Stirling's Mario Marcinko and Phil Arnold should have a big part to play," said the Western Knights midfielder. "The teams are at the top of the league and recently drew, it should be a close match. I tip Floreat to just get over the line with Jovo Pavlovic and Ante Kovacevic pivotal."
Cup Final tip – Floreat 3 Stirling 2
English import Adam Hayton (Sorrento) feels Floreat will go back-to-back. "The Lions are a good team but Floreat are, for me, the best passing side in this league and I think they'll win," Hayton said, who says the game will be won in midfield. "If they (Floreat) win that battle then they're half way there because their defence is strong and led by Ante Kovacevic - who is the best defender I have played against - and they have good strikers."
Cup Final tip – Floreat 2 Stirling 0
ECU Joondalup defender Ryan McDarby, who has recovered from a serious knee injury, says it's Stirling's Cup. "They have brought in a lot of quality import players and I think they will just have enough to edge it," McDarby commented. "Jason Gavin and Bobby Wilson are good players and if they are on form Floreat will struggle to find a way through. Ludovic Boi is a good player going forward and on his day is very hard to stop."
Cup Final tip – Stirling 2 Floreat 1
The team which makes most of their chances will come out on top says Ivan Zuvela (Mandurah City). "Branimir Mikulic and Johny Mirco are the important players, when they play well Floreat are very hard to beat. And for Stirling it's Phil Arnold and Mario Marcinko," he said. "It'll come down to whoever puts their chances away, the teams are very similar but I think Floreat's experience will get them over the line."
Cup Final tip – Floreat 2 Stirling 1
Outstanding young goalkeeper Dejan Aleksic (Cockburn City) believes Stirling will be hungrier for the win. "They're going to be fired up from the loss to Floreat at the start of the season so if they have all their players fit I can see them pulling through," Aleksic said. "Shane Robinson's the player that pulls all the strings, if he's supported by a solid game from Ludovic Boi and a couple goals from Mario Marcinko I think Stirling will do well."
Cup Final tip – Stirling 2 Floreat 1
JOONDALUP AIM TO TURN THE TABLES ON ARMADALE
ECU Joondalup will have to reverse a worrying trend if they’re to wrestle the State League Reserves Cup from Armadale on Sunday afternoon. Armadale have the wood over their opponents this season, winning at Joondalup in April before behind held to a draw on their home turf just a few weeks ago. But Joondalup are one of the Reserve Premier League's form sides, losing just once in their last seven outings.
Joondalup coach David Tough says the entire club has thrown their backing behind his team coming home with the trophy. "Making the final of any senior competition doesn't come around every season so hopefully we can get past this last hurdle and lift the trophy," he said. "We've had to do it the hard way, playing all ties away and beating the top two teams in the league on route to the final."
There'll be special place in history for the eleven players of Armadale that step onto the field against Joondalup. Never before have the Reds second string competed in a Cup Final, and the only plan they've got involves returning to Alfred Skeet Oval with the trophy. "Winning the Cup is what everyone dreams of as a youngster," commented coach Aron Beattie. "It would mean everything to give something back to a great club, who have great people and great supporters."
Tough expects a physical encounter against a disciplined opponent. "Armadale's league position is very misleading, they've been one of our toughest opponents this season," he said. "They are a very well-organised and hard working side, defensively they get numbers behind the ball and we've found it very hard the break them down. Down the spine of their team are lot of experienced players who are very physical and are a real threat from corners and set pieces."
Even though Armadale are unbeaten by Joondalup over the two home and away fixtures, Beattie isn't about to underestimate Sundays opposition. "Joondalup are very difficult team to play against," said Beattie. "All their movements are machine-like, they have a system and every single play knows his individual job. We have had two hard games against them and we match up really well. It'll be a great final to play in and watch."
LINCOLN TIPS CUP FINAL ‘NAIL BITER’
If previous encounters are anything to go by then Sunday’s State League Cup Final will be an absolute classic according to Paul Lincoln. The Stirling Lions coach says the thrilling 1-1 draw played out between his team and Floreat Athena only a few weeks ago should give the punters a good idea of what to expect on Sunday. “A big crowd is expected so the atmosphere will be electric and if the game takes the same pattern as our most recent one it is going to be a real nail biter,” Lincoln commented.
Lincoln, part of Stirling’s 1996 Cup winning line-up, says Sunday is a big day in the history of his club. “Everyone involved in the club, from the boardroom to the players and in particular the president Don Evans, and we’ve all worked extremely hard to add some more silverware,” Lincoln said. “The clubs Cup record against Floreat is one we want to change; they’ve won both meetings in Cup Finals so it will be nice to reverse that trend. You could say we go in as underdogs on Sunday which suits us.”
An unfortunate series of injuries has sent ripples of concern through the Stirling camp in the lead-up to the Cup Final. “The loss of Jason Gavin and Bobby Wilson has been massive, they’ve been outstanding for this season,” explained Lincoln. “Then against Inglewood Michael Pugliese limped off at half-time. So for 45 minutes our best three defenders didn’t participate and that means you’re reshuffling which depletes the strength of the side. Additionally, Roberto Lujan was out for six weeks, his pace and creativity has been missed … I’m hoping for some good news on the injury front this week.”
Lincoln, a great admirer of Floreat, knows his players will need to be on top of their game to lift the trophy. “Floreat have been together for three or more years and added one or two in between, so they really know each other,” he said. “With Ante Kovacevic coming in (as coach) he has them playing well. They have the ability to score goals with their attacking flare. We are not a team that scores a lot of goals and our strengths are our defence and ability to retain the ball. The game will be won or lost on who takes their opportunities in front of goal.”
FLOREAT “EAGER TO GO BACK-TO-BACK”: DUNN
Floreat Athena are pumped and ready to lift back-to-back State League Cups according to their goalkeeper, Alex Dunn. One of Floreat's unsung heroes, Dunn has been in tip-top form this season and right now wants nothing more than to get the better of his club's long-time nemesis, Stirling Lions. "All the boys are very eager to go back-to-back," Dunn said. "We have a lot of big game players who always step up on occasions like this, and winning it last years has put us in good stead of knowing what's required of everyone in the squad."
Dunn expects he'll come under some early fire with Stirling almost certain to go searching for an early goal. "We know Stirling always start very intense to look for the early goal, and we will have to find our rhythm from the start and control the game and the pace," he said. "I think it will be a fast-paced game to start, but I don't think either team will be committing too many players forward in case they're exposed at the back."
The fact Floreat have won only two of six games leading in Sunday's big game doesn't phase Dunn. "We scored a lot against Armadale in the semi-finals but otherwise we've been a bit unlucky getting goals of late. That said, we have been playing some good football," said the 'keeper. "Everyone knows a Cup Final is a different story and that consistency really doesn't matter - it comes down to which team wants it the most on the day."
Dunn will look back on 2010 with great fondness having finally made Floreat's No.1 shirt his. "This year has been special for me," said Dunn, who grabbed his opportunity after Vas Vujacic took up a role as the club's goalkeeping coach. "I've been working very hard with him to improve my all round game and he has helped me mature as a goalkeeper. AK (Ante Kovacevic) got Frank Juric down during the Night Series to do some work with me, and his knowledge was invaluable and helped me develop further."
Floreat have studied closely Sundays' opposition and have a good feel for where their strengths lie. "AK and Taki (Nicolaides) have watched them many times this year and we know they have a strong defence, that they like to spread the ball wide and get in behind opposition defences," commented Dunn. "I think their main strength is defence, the imports they have are excellent. Also the partnership of Mario (Marcinko) and Phil (Arnold) upfront is very dangerous, they'll punish us if we aren't on our game."
HISTORY FAVOURS FLOREAT
Floreat Athena goes into this weekends State League Cup decider against Stirling Lions with history very much on their side. The two clubs have previously met twice in the decider of the prestigious knock-out competition with Floreat triumphing on both occasions. The first of those as at the tail end of 1987 when Harry Katsamakis came off the bench to net a late deciding goal as Floreat ran out 3-2 winner, team captain Paul Wormley and Theo Kalogeracos the scorers of the other goals that afternoon.
A decade later Floreat completed a clean sweep of the trophies on offer by seeing off Stirling 2-0 at Frank Dago Reserve. The opening goal arrived after 25 minutes when an exquisite build-up involving Vince Tana, Michael Roki and Jason Smith ended with the latter’s powerful shot deflecting past veteran goalkeeper Phil Trianidies via a defender. Anthony Carbone and Peter Coci each had chances to add another to Floreat's tally but they had to be content with a one-goal lead at the break.
Stirling threw everything at their opponents after the break and had it not been for a couple of superb John Xigas saves then the score would have been levelled. The introduction of Costas Socratous, for a fatigued Gerard Favory, was instrumental in bringing Floreat back into the game. As Stirling committed men forward in search of an equaliser, Floreat launched a quick counter attack in which Smith's shot was parried into the path of Peter Coci, who made no mistake ramming in the sealing goal of a two-nil win.
USA COMES CALLING FOR BURGESS
Harrison Burgess almost missed out on a football scholarship in the United States because he didn’t want to miss a training session with his local club. The 18-year old former Perth SC goalkeeper will pursue his dream of playing professionally after taking up an offer from Iowa Central University. "If my dad hadn't made me go I would have missed out on a great opportunity," he said. "If I could play professionally in Australia that would be great but for now the opportunity is over there."
Having received ten study offers from around the United States, Burgess accepted a spot at Iowa Central University which he feels positions him well to move into the professional league. "My scholarship is for two years and then after that there is the option to stay on for an extra two years depending how it goes," said Burgess, who'll study psychology while abroad. "My dad is really proud but mum is a bit upset about her only son moving away."
Burgess is amongst a growing number of West Australian's to combine football and study in the United States. David Perich is captain of Cardinal Stritch University (Wisconsin), former Perth Glory Youth striker Clayton Arnez is at Auburn Montgomery (Alabama) and one-time State Schoolboy Paul Rechichi at Thomas College (Maine). Also abroad are Carlo Coelho (Warner University, Florida), Joshua Marocchi (Montana State University Billings, Montana), Harrison Burgess (Iowa Central University, Iowa), Andy Alvarez (Cloud County College, Kansas) and Joel Pinto (University of Science and Arts, Oklahoma).
EVERYONE’S OPINION, PART TWO
The upcoming State League Cup Final is the talk of the town and it appears every man and his dog has an opinion as to how the game will pan out. Peter Simcox of footballwa.net caught up with several of the Premier League's star attractions to get their thoughts on where the finalists - Floreat Athena and Stirling Lions - strengths lie before making a final score prediction...
State striker Ian McMurray (Perth SC) found it difficult to pick a winner. "It's a hard one to call. Both teams are good going forward and pretty strong defensively so I'm struggling to pick one!," he said. "I can see this being a great match but not a high scoring one. It's the Cup final, all or nothing, so it will come down to who wants it most on the day. Good luck to both teams."
Cup Final tip – Floreat in a penalty shoot-out
Armadale were thrashed in the semi-finals by Floreat but striker James Robinson feels Stirling will win it. "There's a good chance it could go to penalties," he said. "Floreat have the better team going forward but Stirling have the better defence so they'll probably cancel each other out ... I'll go for Stirling to win on penalties, and then Armadale 23-s to win 5-0 against ECU Joondalup!"
Cup Final tip – 1-1 after extra-time, then Stirling in a penalty shoot-out
The Cup will remain at Litis Stadium according to Balcatta midfielder Jack Clisby. "It's going to be a really close encounter and could go either way. Both teams are good going forward and the game should see goals," said Clisby, who expects Branimir Mikulic and Johny Mirco to play key roles in a Floreat win. "Floreat have that bit more craft than Stirling and I see them creating more chances."
Cup Final tip – Floreat 3 Stirling 1
Jake Geddes (Inglewood United) feels his former club, Stirling, will prevail. "It will definitely be a close match, both teams have had exceptional seasons and you couldn't ask for a better final," he said. "I think Stirling will win on penalties, but in saying that they do have a couple injury concerns so whether they get those players back in time for the weekend it could go either way."
Cup Final tip – Stirling in a penalty shoot-out
Veteran defender Rory Mouttet (Swan United) is tipping his former coach, Paul Lincoln, to come out trumps. "It's hard to say who will win but I think Stirling might just get up in a close game," Mouttet said. "Mario Marcinko and Phil Arnold will be pivotal, and if Shane Robinson plays well then Stirling will have a big chance of winning the midfield battle on a pitch that isn't going to encourage as open a game as at Litis Stadium or Macedonia Park."
Cup Final tip – Stirling 2 Floreat 1
THE GLORY DAYS ARE RETURNING: HARNWELL
Perth Glory climbed to the top of the A-League for the first time in the competition's six-season history on the back of Saturday's 2-0 win over Melbourne Victory. While no one at the club will be getting carried away with the lofty status since the season is just two games old, club legend Jamie Harnwell said there was a great deal to read into the team's first win in Melbourne after seven fruitless previous trips. "It's probably the best away win. In terms of the all round performance, certainly," said Harnwell. "We've played better football and been more dominant in games but in being resilient and playing like the old Glory - that was it."
Harnwell celebrated the birth of his third child, Liam, by netting Glory's opening goal after 23 minutes with Mile Sterjovski adding the second shortly after half-time. Harnwell highlighted the importance of grabbing an away win early in the season after recent campaigns had been hindered by a poor record on the road. "We talked about making a statement that we're not going to be easy beats on the road," he said. "It was spoken about before the game and it was a bit of a motivating factor. It was an important win. If we'd gone over there and got rolled it would've put us right on the back foot again."
Glory, who are at home to Newcastle Jets on Saturday, are one of three teams on four points with North Queensland Fury and Central Coast Mariners in second and third positions on goal difference. "It is only the start. It's only two games. There's a long way to go to try and meet the chairman's ambitions," Harnwell said of owner Tony Sage's hopes of claiming a place in the Asian Champions League by succeeding in the A-League. For now, Glory will savour a victory that was the result of a formation change by coach David Mitchell, who opted for a 4-5-1 system with Robbie Fowler employed as the lone front man.
WILLIAMS TAKES RESPONSIBILITY
Socceroo Rhys Williams blames himself for the injury that threatens his short-term future with club and country. The versatile 22-year old confirmed it was his decision to play through the pain of osteitis pubis – and not that of Middlesbrough boss Gordon Strachan - that ruled him out of the recent World Cup. "I played on with the injury because as a young player all you want to do is play but it turned out to be the wrong decision and I am suffering the consequences now," Williams revealed to 'the World Game' website. "I can only blame myself, certainly not by Gordon Strachan or anybody else."
Williams, who has been receiving treatment from specialist Anthony Hogan in Adelaide, does not expect to be back in action before November at the soonest. "I am now working hard to fix it so I never get his problem again," said Williams, whose last competitive outing was against Crystal Palace in early April. "It's quite a serious problem at the moment and I don't want to put any time frame on when I will come back because I don’t to set any unrealistic targets and maybe come back too early."
While crushed at having to pull out of Australia's Word Cup calculations at the eleventh hour, Williams is philosophical about missing out in South Africa. "If I had gone I wouldn't have done myself any justice," he admitted. "There would have been no point in being there and I feel everything happens for a reason. Hopefully there will be a few more World Cups to come for me down the track." Williams, capped three times by Australia, is hopeful of being fit in time to don the green and gold for January's Asian Cup in Qatar.
Comfortable at right-back, centre-back or in midfield, Williams admits to knowing little about new Socceroos coach Holger Osieck. "I look forward to meeting him, hopefully sooner rather than later, and I'll be happy if he picks me. Time will tell if he likes me or not and I know I have a lot of work to do to get back into the frame," he said. "I played all but two of my matches for Middlesbrough in midfield last season and it's a role I enjoy because you tend to see more of the ball than at right back, but I'm happy to play absolutely anywhere for either my club or my country."
BALCATTA STUNS LEAGUE LEADERS
Balcatta confirmed their Premier League status with a surprise 2-1 win against Perth SC in today’s game at Dorrien Gardens. Second half goals by Nick Tatasciore and Lucas Whitehouse gave Balcatta the points and although David Onoforo found the net the visitors held on to celebrate after the game. “It’s great for the club to stay in the Premier League, and that was our aim at the start of the season,” Balcatta coach Salv Todaro said. “To beat Perth - who are a quality side - three times in a season is a great achievement for us … the boy’s pick themselves up for these games.”
In a lively opening both sides went close to scoring. Tatasciore played a great through ball that released Whitehouse but his low shot was saved by Devon Spence. Soon after Dom De Felice’s cross from the right was headed by Ian McMurray back across goal where Antonio Naglieri volleyed over. The hosts side suffered a blow on 12 minutes when coach Graham Normanton was sent to the stands by referee David Scragg after protesting a decision. Balcatta now began to get on top and Tatasciore’s cross-shot was tipped over by Spence, before Adam Tong headed just high at an Ashley Rosendale corner.
Hayden Doyle drove down the left before cutting in and laying off for De Felice but his shot was saved by Bobson Koroma. Balcatta countered through a Rosindale run down the right that saw him set-up Julian Piromalli whose shot from the edge of the 18-yard box flashed over. Perth should have hit the front in stoppage time when McMurray flicked the ball past the advancing Koroma, he recovered only to cannon the clearance into team mate Ian McKean with the ricochet almost ending up in the net.
There was more of the same after the re-start, Doyle finding McMurray but his shot from the edge of the box licked the top of the bar. That miss was punished on 52 minutes when Andy O’Neill’s cross from the left was headed in by Whitehouse at the back post. A last ditch Adam Tong tackle prevented McMurray from giving Perth an immediate response after getting on the end of an Oliviera pass. Balcatta added another goal on 61 minutes with former Perth player Tatasciore racing away down the left before finishing low past Spence. This only spurred Perth on even further and Craig Simpson’s towering header was just high at a Doyle corner.
As it was the hosts need wait only until the 67th minute for Onoforo, who’d been off the bench just six minutes, to twist away from two defenders before firing past Koroma after received a pass from Naglieri. Cheered on by the vocal home supporters, Onoforo combined with Doyle whose long-range shot was straight at the ‘keeper. With Perth chasing the game Balcatta almost snuck a third but Rosindale’s low shot was blocked by Spence, while Jack Clisby volleyed just high. The game was well into stoppage time when Koroma pushed away a low Doyle shot after he’d cut in from the left.
STATE AMATEURS TO PLAY ARMADALE
Rob Pagnoni and Mick Piaccia have selected a fifteen-player State Amateur squad for next weeks friendly against State League outfit Armadale. Joondalup United and Olympic Kingsway account for over half the squad which, surprisingly, includes no players from breakaway Sunday League leaders Shamrock Rovers. The squad play Armadale this Tuesday with Pagnoni hopeful of future outings against the Singapore Under-18 team and the State Premier League side.
Pagnoni is looking forward to the match with Armadale. "To date, we've had two training games with approximately 24 players in each session," he said. "The players were very enthusiastic and worked hard during both nights. This squad is still a work in progress and may change after the Armadale game, depending on the team's performances and attitudes and should also give us some indication on our current strengths and weaknesses."
The Western Australia Amateur Squad to play Armadale is Alen Karaselimovic, Glen Sheldon (Fremantle United), Gary Andrews, Dave Irwin, Lee Jones, Gavin Knight, Larry Miller (Joondalup United), Dave Ashworth, Jesse Higgins, Aaron Lickiss, Felim Rugel (Olympic Kingsway), Hussein Awada, Simon Madaschi (Stirling Panthers), Francois Du Plessis and Brad Skea (UWA-Nedlands). Their outing against Armadale starts at 7.30pm on Tuesday, 17 August at Alfred Skeet Oval, entry is free.
JOEYS CALL-UP FOR PERTH PAIR
Local products Jesse Makarounas and Sahr Musa have gained selection in the Australia Under-17 squad which will play England, Portugal and Turkey later this month. Makarounas and Musa, who both came up through the ranks of Perth SC and spent time with the National Training Centre, were amongst national youth coach Jan Versleijen's 20-player squad for the FA Men's Under-17 International Tournament in Lincolnshire, England, from 25-29 August.
Versleijen will be use the tournament to preparation for the AFC Under-16 Championship later this year. "It is a fantastic opportunity to face strong quality opposition as we enter the final stages of our preparation for the AFC Championships," said Versleijen, who's team will play pre-tournament friendlies against the Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur academies. "I am very confident that we will perform well and the experience we gain from this tournament will be of great benefit to the boys."
The Australia Under-17 squad travelling to England is Kwabena Boahene, Corey Brown, Alex Cerruto, Connor Chapman, Milos Degenek, Hernan Espindola, Giancarlo Gallifuoco, Paul Izzo, Jesse Makarounas, Jake Monaco, Brodie Paterson, Yianni Perkatis, Anthony Proia, Lachlan Tibbles (Australian Institute of Sport), Luke Remington (Macquarie), Daniel Chaabani (National Training Centre, Victoria), Sahr Musa (Perth SC), Jacob Melling (South Australian Institute of Sport), Samuel Chapple and Hayden Morton (Sutherland Sharks).
GLORY RUIN MELBOURNE’S HOMECOMING
Perth Glory have captured a first-ever A-League win in Melbourne, producing a clinical display to defeat Melbourne Victory 2-0 at AAMI Park this evening. Goals in each half to Jamie Harnwell and Mile Sterjovski saw the Glory take all three points from a game controlled for the most part by the home side, b but the visitors profited from their sharper finishing. “It was going to be a tough task for us and the boys executed it brilliantly tonight,” said Glory coach David Mitchell, whose players executed to perfection his match plan. “We worked through a lot of things and that paid off.”
Melbourne may have had the better of first half possession but rarely threatened Tando Velaphi’s goal, only a tame Adrian Leijer header called the Glory custodian into action. Glory, by contrast, looked more potent in the final third and Todd Howarth forced Michael Petkovic to tip over the crossbar after getting on the end of a lobbed Sterjovski cross. A minute later Robbie Fowler’s corner from the right hit upright and ricocheting to Howarth who fired high.
Glory got the goal they sought on 23 minutes when Fowler’s deep corner was cleverly cut back across goal by Steven McGarry with Harnwell slotting in at close-range. The home team wanted a quick response, but with Robbie Kruse and Archie Thompson missing they struggled to create anything of great substance in front of goal. Sukha rounded a defender and let off a low shot that Velaphi knocked away, while just before the break Tom Pondeljak’s long-range effort was just over the crossbar.
The margin was increased four minutes into the second half, Howarth’s forward pass was cut out with Sterjovski latching onto the loose ball and from just outside the 18-yard box he unleashed a stinging low shot that gave Petkovic no chance. Melbourne toiled hard for a way back in but Leigh Broxham shot wide on 56 minutes, substitute Billy Celeski’s effort was comfortably saved by Velaphi, who later athletically kept out shots from Hernandez and Diogo Ferreira. Despite these scares, Glory were comfortable in their lead and took the chance to give Howard Fondyke his A-League debut late on.
KNIGHTS VICTORY SENDS SWANS BOTTOM (by Geoff Mason, Football West)
Western Knights continued their run towards the Premier League championship by defeating Swan United 2-1 at the Swan Italian Club. Jack Doyle and David Micevski found the net in quick succession early in the second half to set up the win, despite Liam Boland grabbing Swan a late consolation. While the Knights move top of the table, Swan slip behind Cockburn City on goal difference in the relegation zone.
Paul Price, coach of the Knights was understandably pleased with the result. “The victory keeps us in the championship hunt, we needed three wins out of three and we got one here today. We are just hoping Perth slips up,” he said. “I’m a bit disappointed with the score today to be honest; they had one chance and scored while we could have scored eight with Jack Doyle missing two late one-on-one chances.”
It was a slow start to the match with the first opportunity arrived on 14 minutes when Stuart Montgomery ran onto David Price’s through ball only to have Cory Hugo tip the shot wide. David Micevski picked up a loose ball on the half way line and jinxed his way past an oncoming defender before unleashing a powerful 22-metre shot that the Swan custodian again sent wide.
Montgomery found a way through on the half hour, converting a Paul Van Dongen cross, only to have his effort ruled out for offside. Swan registered their first effort on 41 minutes when Trent Wood, James Sammut and Brendon Knox combined, the latter flicked the ball to David Perich but his tame effort was saved easily by Fraser Siddall.
The Knights needed only five minutes of the second half to break through, Swan’s failure to clear from a corner ended with Doyle firing into the net from 15-metres. Three minutes later Montgomery could have had another but headed wide from seven yards. That miss was soon forgotten as, on 59 minutes, David Micevski split open the host’s defence to find brother Daniel Micevski, who coolly slotted the ball over the oncoming ‘keeper and into the empty net.
Montgomery, Anthony Campbell and Doyle could each have put the game to bed, however, their wastefulness opened the door on a Swan comeback. With eleven minutes to go Boland, who had only come on minutes earlier, headed in a Perich corner to give the home team a glimmer of hope. But despite late pressure it was the Knights who should have found the net with Doyle missing two one-on-one chances in injury time before the referee brought proceedings to an end.
STIRLING STEAL POINTS FROM INGLEWOOD (by Jona Turle, Football West)
A stoppage time penalty converted by Shane Robinson has grabbed Stirling Lions a 2-2 draw with relegation threatened Inglewood United on a sunny afternoon at Macedonia Park. Ludovic Boi fired the hosts into an early lead before Darko Ilomanovski and Rory Grant put Inglewood in the box seat. The result leaves Inglewood four points off last place with two rounds remaining.
However, their coach Shane Pryce was left seething by referee Michal Jasinki’s decision to award a contentious penalty for handball. “It’s just disappointing that the referee for my mind has decided the game,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of football and that definitely wasn’t a penalty. But you can’t change it now - we’ve got a tough game against Cockburn coming up where we have to get points to stay up.”
Stirling emerged from a scrappy opening displaying the greater composure with some neat passing moves. It didn’t take long for this to pay dividends, Phil Arnold cleverly chesting a right wing cross down into the path of Boi, who volleyed in sweetly with his left foot from the edge of the 18-yard box in the 8th minute.
Chances presented at both ends, Ryan Clarke crashed a shot into the crossbar from the edge of the area before Stef Frost drove to within range only to unselfishly lay the ball off rather than take the shot himself, and the chance was lost. Parity was restored on 29 minutes when poor defending at an Adrian Caceres corner allowed the ball to bounce across the 6-yard box to be volleyed in by Ilomanovski.
Stirling started the second half under full stream with Phil Arnold denied by Oliver Taseski, after which the hosts maintained pressure through a succession of corners. Amazingly Inglewood escaped unscathed and 66 minutes took a surprise lead as Caceres jinxed his way past two defenders before delivering a superb ball to the back post where Grant gleefully nodded in at close-range.
Inglewood looked good value for the win, however, Caceres went off injured with twenty minutes to play and having used their three allotted substitutes, the were forced to finish with ten men. The game was three minutes into stoppage time when Robinson’s surge into the area was halted by Dannie Richman’s sliding tackle, the referee ruled he’d handled and from the spot the Stirling captain made no mistake.
Stirling assistant coach Ian Cowan said he didn’t have a clear view of the penalty incident but said it had been a frustrating afternoon for his team. “It was just one of those games - there was really nothing in the game in the first half - it was fairly much end to end,” he said. “We had a lot of chances, we just didn't look like scoring - we created plenty today, we just couldn’t finish.”
FLOREAT HELD BY GULLS (by Tim Lefort, Football West)
Floreat Athena’s slim hopes of claiming the Premier League title were all but ended following a 0-0 draw against a ten-man Sorrento at Percy Doyle Reserve. However, the result pretty much assures Floreat’s participation in the top five play-offs whereas Sorrento - who had Joe Lamplough dismissed late - head into the last fortnight of the regular season just one point ahead of sixth-placed Armadale.
The game’s first clear shot on goal came on the quarter hour when Branimir Mikulic combined well with Daniel Niederberger whose powerful strike from 18-metres was straight at Curtis Aspden. Floreat clearly wanted the first goal as four minutes later Jason Barrera’s cross from the right picked out Mikulic but the put wide a free header.
Chances were thin on the ground for the home side as Glen Thomas sliced well wide from distance, Lamplough’s free-kick into the 6-yard box eluded his team mates, then Todd Harnwell blazed high from an angle. Floreat responded in kind with Adam Bachiller’s low drive narrowly wide, then on the stroke of half-time a neat move involving Johnny Mirco and Niederberger ended with Mikulic’s effort charged down.
Floreat picked up where they had left off with, Barrera firing over before Mirco wasted a golden opportunity by blasting straight at Aspden from 10-metres. Sorrento went desperately close to opening the scoring after 57 minutes when Harnwell’s looping header was scrambled off the line by Ante Kovacevic from an Andam Hayton cross.
A brilliant Shane Webb tackle denied Niederberger what looked a certain goal before play swung to the other end where Harnwell put a free header wide. Floreat had plenty of chances to sneak a late winner but neither Mikulic nor substitute Mo Atak was able to capitalise when the opportunity presented. Sorrento’s day ended sourly with Lamplough given his marching orders for a second yellow card offence seven minutes from the end.
Taki Nicolaidis, assistant coach of Floreat, played down any disappointment that the draw almost certainly ends his teams hopes of finishing on top of the table. “We had a few good half-chances but in the end we just weren’t quite ruthless enough in front of goal,” Nicolaidis said. “I thought we had quite a bit of possession but credit to Sorrento, in the last third they defended very strongly and very well and made it difficult for us.”
ARMADALE TRIUMPH IN EIGHT GOAL THRILLER (by Michael Bate, Football West)
Armadale reignited their finals dream with a roller-coaster 5-3 win against Mandurah City at Alfred Skeet Oval. James Robinson netted twice with John Watson, Tom Robinson and Matt Barlow also on the scoresheet in a dramatic game in which Mandurah took a two-goal lead, then had two players sent off. “We didn’t panic today when we were 2-0 down, and we didn’t panic when they had their players sent off,” said Armadale boss Brad Hassell, delighted his teams composure and fighting spirit. “We just kept playing our way because we know we have players who can score goals no matter what situation we are in.”
The first goal of an open and entertaining game arrived in the 13th minute when Ivan Zuvela won the ball just inside his own half and, spotting goalkeeper Gareth Deeg off his line, launching an audacious chip from the halfway line which floated into the back of the net. James Robinson thought he’d equalised three minutes later only for the referee to disallow his effort for a push on Ryan Townsend as the two tussled for the ball. The game took another twist in the 26th minute with Craig Young shown a straight red card for a high-footed challenge on Barlow, referee Joe Fusari having no hesitation in reaching for his pocket.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Mandurah took a two goal lead when Zuvela put away his second of the afternoon, this one from the penalty spot after Christian Paschkewitz had taken a tumble in the area. Five minutes later the home side were back in it, James Robinson letting fly with a scorching half volley from the edge of the area that left Straker with no chance. Armadale were level in the 37th minute when John Watson scored with a brilliant diving header. And the comeback was completed just before half-time when James Robinson’s powerful long-range shot hit the crossbar and dropped onto Straker’s.
To their credit, Mandurah equalised in the 52nd minute through Jeff Bright who fired in after Andy Brown wriggled away from two defenders and rolled an inviting ball in from the right. It looked as though Brown would drag his side back into the game until he became the second Mandurah player sent off, referee Fusari ruling he’d dived to win a penalty in the 73rd minute. The game was now effectively game over for the visitors, and eight minutes later Tom Robinson was first to react after Straker parried a James Robinson shot. Barlow finished off a great day for the home side when he rounded the ‘keeper and fired in goal number five from a tight angle.
COCKBURN CLIMB OFF BOTTOM (with Tristan Lavalette, Football West)
Cockburn City has moved out of the dreaded relegation position with a 3-1 upset defeat of ECU Joondalup at Dalmatinac Park. Rory Feely scored twice before Adrian Webster sealed the result that lifts Cockburn above Swan United on goal difference with just two regular season games to play. Tony Castiello was delighted with the outcome, and especially his team’s ability to overturn an early deficit. “We played really well after the first goal and were able to control the contest, particularly in the midfield,” the Cockburn coach said. “We deserved the win and we have to maintain our form because it is going to be a fight to avoid relegation.”
The home side was ignited by energetic young midfielders Wesley Britz, Shinatatoh Itoh and man of the match David Araya, who was a surprise starter ahead of playmaker Jason Dos Santos. The livewire trio, along with seasoned campaigner Webster, dictated play throughout the afternoon and were allowed far too much time and space on the ball by their opponents. Cockburn’s attacking midfield and improved skills provided plenty of supply for in-form striker Feely, whose first half brace brought his tally to four goals in a fortnight.
Joondalup could not have hoped for a better start, referee Hugh Best ruling a defender to have sent the ball over the line in a goalmouth scramble in just the 8th minute. With their season very much on the line, Cockburn responded with a series of attacking raids before drawing level on 32 minutes when Feely found space inside the 18-yard box to calmly tap past goalkeeper Andy Petterson after Araya had forced a turn over. Eight minutes later Feely head his second, heading in a precision cross from Britz to give Cockburn the upper hand.
Cockburn continued their dominance into the second half, knowing they needed at least one more goal before allowing themselves breathing room. That goal arrived on the hour when Webster’s scorching dive from outside the 18-yard box rifled past Petterson, sending the home supporters into an absolute frenzy. A reliance on playing on the counter attack combined with sloppy ball work denied Joondalup many opportunities to claw their way back into the contest, and limited star striker Phil O’Callaghan’s role to little more than an interested spectator.
FREMANTLE GIVE BUNBURY A SCARE
Bunbury Forum Force pushed on towards promotion from Division by defeating Fremantle Spirit 4-2 at Hay Park. The home team started positively and with 5 minutes on the clock David Rodgers finished off after great cross by Rory Binnie to make it one-nil. On 19 minutes Bunbury added a second via a sweeping move started in defence and ended by Rodgers, who clinically tucked in a Jayden Prosser cross. Patrick Quinn latched onto a Rory Binnie pass and fired low past goalkeeper Jake Sacco on 29 minutes to seemingly seal victory.
The second half was a totally different affair with home team content to work the ball around without seriously threatening to score. However, on 73 minutes Fremantle came roaring back when Angelo Canzurlo finished great work from Anthony Fearon. Ten minutes later Fearon scored low past the ‘keeper to set up a nervy finish. Despite a brave effort from a young Fremantle side, the result was put beyond doubt on 88 minutes when Lee Stewart volleyed over the oncoming ‘keeper after being played through by John Drohan.
Kailoh Karpeh scored in stoppage time to snatch Bayswater City a 2-1 win from their encounter with Wanneroo City at Frank Drago Reserve. The result keeps Bayswater level with Bunbury Forum Force on top of the Division One table while effectively ending Wanneroo’s promotion dream. In an even first half it was Bayswater that drew first blood after 9 minutes when Gustavo Marulanda headed in a great cross from Damien Catalano.
The score was levelled in the 26th minute through Guy McDonald, who tapped into an empty net after Dean Timmings’ cross was spilled by goalkeeper Gianni Papalia. Bayswater lost Papalia to what appears a serious knee injury soon after, his place between the posts taken by Marulanda. Wanneroo should have gone into the break in front but Dean Timmings missed an absolute sitter from 6-metres after getting on the end of a cross from brother Nick Timmings.
The second half was similarly even with each team having their chances to go in front. Dean Timmings and McDonald could have put Wanneroo in the box seat, while at the other end goalkeeper Clint Davies pulled off a succession of saves to leave the home team frustrated. With only minutes left Marulanda re-entered the action and in stoppage time set-up Karpeh, whose clinical finish proved the difference.
TOP FIVE BECKONS FOR GOSNELLS
Gosnells City remains on course for their most successful season in over a decade after defeating Canning City 3-2 at Burrendah Reserve. The game was given a crackerjack start by Andy Pygrum, who put away Canning’s opening goal inside a minute. Darren Francis levelled the score by heading in a great cross from the right wing after 7 minutes. But two minutes later Canning reclaimed the lead after Billie Rickman headed in at close-range from a Pygrum free-kick.
The second half was very different to the first with Gosnells stepping up the pace to enjoy the greater of the possession. Parity was restored on 52 minutes when Daiten Twyman headed in a Francis cross from the left wing. Then in the 65th minutes Ciaran Allen popped up to score what would be the decider, tapping in during a goalmouth scramble after Canning had failed to clear their lines. The result keeps Gosnells in line for fifth spot, their highest placing since 1997.
WASTEFUL DIANELLA DRAW AT QUEENS PARK
Queens Park gave themselves renewed hope of finishing above last place after holding Dianella White Eagles to a 3-3 draw at Coker Park. Dianella looked to have the game in the bag courtesy of a Dale Wingell brace and another from Paul Hickey that put them three-nil up at half-time. However, goals in a fifteen minutes burst from Jason Feather, Ludovic Anquetil and Wazingwa Mugala secured the hosts a much-needed draw and narrowed the gap on second-from-bottom Ashfield to three points.
Wingell posted Dianella's opening goal after just 9 minutes by heading in at the near post from a free-kick. The visitors then proceeded to lay siege on the Queens Park goal, however, these attacks were met only by increasing frustration as Brad Eiffe touched away several shots and one-on-one opportunities. They finally found a way through on 39 minutes when Paul Hickey glanced in a corner to the front post. And six minutes later Wingell scored his second from the spot following a foul on Damon Kalamaras.
Dianella's failure to kill the game off early in the second half would have devastating consequences. Feather started Queens Park's revival by steering from close-range an Anquetil shot that skewed across the face of goal in the 69th minute. Henry Chikombe's speculative shot came back off the crossbar and sat nicely for Anquetil to hook in their second. With the wind now in their sails, Queens Park were rewarded for a third time on 84 minutes when Mugala headed in from 7-metres.
MORLEY HOME IN A BLAZ OF GLORY
Blaz Radonovic grabbed a match-winning double as Morley Windmills saw off Rockingham City 3-2 at Lark Hill Sportsplex. Although slow to get into stride, Morley hit the front on 27 minutes when Radonovic out-paced the defence and slotted into the bottom corner. The margin was doubled ten minutes later when Radonovic floated in a free-kick which Craig Olejnik failed to claim and was fired into the net from 10-metres by Diego Van Der Ross.
The second half commenced with Rockingham a much stronger proposition, the hosts holding possession for extended periods and finding holes in the Morley defence. Had it not been for goalkeeper Matt Darling, who was quick off his line to capture several threatening long balls, then Rockingham could well have been back on level terms. As it was they had to wait until the 61st minute to break through via Josh Senior, whose penalty spot conversion made it two-one.
Rockingham continued to pile on the pressure only to be caught on the counter attack with ten minutes to go, Maidan Yimer playing in behind the defence for Radonovic to side foot past the advancing 'keeper. Five minutes later the gap was back to a single goal after a free-kick was played short to Senior who found a gap in the defensive wall and crashed in from 25-metres. Rockingham gave their all to find a late third goal only to run out of time.
PREMIER LEAGUE IN PREVIEW
Much of Round Twenty’s focus will be on a couple of games central to deciding who finishes the season relegated from the Premier League. Cockburn City, who currently sits in the drop spot, are acutely aware they must collect maximum points on home soil to ECU Joondalup or face the fact they’re likely to be playing 2011 in the second tier. However, Joondalup are pushing towards the play-offs and, fresh from stunning Stirling Lions 3-0, Syd Amphlett’s side is bubbling with confidence.
Swan United has survival on their minds when they host Western Knights. Veteran goalkeeper Cory Hugo along with the creativity of James Sammut have big roles to play if Swan are to win at home for the first time this season. The black and whites hopes of securing three much-needed points has been boosted with Michael Van Dongen’s return from injury. The Knights have collected just one win from their last five visits to the Swan Valley and will be without captain David Annall and Duncan Hind due to suspension.
The top five aspirations of either Armadale or Mandurah City could be reparably damaged should they fail to take the points away from Alfred Skeet Oval. Armadale will be without the on-field leadership of Andy Bowyer, Steve McDonald and Cyril Sharrock (suspended) as they attempt to make the end of season finals for the first time. Mandurah’s away record this season is nothing to write home about, however, they have won on both previous visits to Armadale and both Jeff Bright and James Hesketh would like to make a point against their former club.
Stirling Lions welcome Inglewood United to Macedonia Park. Home coach Paul Lincoln is hopeful of getting Jason Gavin, Bobby Wilson and Roberto Lujan back from injury, while young goalkeeper James Turvill is available again after serving suspension. Adrian Caceres was instrumental in Inglewood’s recent outing with Armadale and has a key role to play in his teams’ attempt to register back-to-back wins. The match provides an opportunity for Jake Geddes, Daniel Stoitis and Darko Ilmanoski to rub shoulders with players who not so long ago were team mates.
There’s a huge game in the northern suburbs where fifth-placed Sorrento have home ground advantage against title contender Floreat Athena. Todd Harnwell will have to be at his best if Sorrento are to maintain in finals contention, while James Morgan and Glen Thomas have important roles to play coming through the middle of the park. Floreat edged past Cockburn by the odd goal last week and coach Ante Kovacevic knows he’ll need a much-improved performance if they are to come away with the win.
The traditional derby between Perth SC and Balcatta takes centre stage on Sunday at Dorrien Gardens. Perth moved to the top of the table by defeating the Knights last time out and with Dom de Felice and Robbie Puca running riot in midfield, and Shaun Kilkelly and Craig Simpson solid at the back it’s the home team that is favoured. Fresh from securing another season in the top flight, Balcatta need big efforts from Ashley Rosendale, Any O’Neill and Mark Walsh as they attempt to beat Perth for a third time this year. All six games start at 3.00pm.
DIVISION ONE IN PREVIEW
The pick of tomorrow’s Division One action is between title contenders Bayswater City and Wanneroo City at Frank Drago Reserve. In a match bearing all the hallmarks of a six-pointer, a loss could see either team’s promotion hopes dashed a victory will keep the pressure on Bunbury Forum Force. The hosts will be looking to key players Damien Catalano and Anthony McStea to anchor the midfield, while Wanneroo need Brian Cairney and Nick Timmings to assert their authority on proceedings.
Title favourites Bunbury Forum Force is expected to tally up another big score when Fremantle Spirit visits at Hay Park. Suspension will prevent Daniel Trevisiol and Mark Sheehan from playing any part in the local derby Canning City and Gosnells City at Burrendah Reserve. Dianella White Eagles may be without Tom Straker and Callum Roberts (suspension) but will still prove too good when they travel to Queens Park, whose only two wins this year were both been on home soil.
Rockingham City will fancy their chances of collecting all three points at home to Morley Windmills. Blake Greathead, Kris Hansen and Josh Senior are expected to come straight back into the Rockingham line-up after missing last weeks loss at Wanneroo. Morley have struggled on their travels this year and following the recent departure of imports Tony Griffiths and Steven Larkin their chances do look bleak. That said, the club does have one eye on next season and there’s very good likelihood the coaching staff will expose some of their youngsters to first team football over the final weeks of 2010.
Forrestfield United can consolidate fourth place on the table by claiming victory against Ashfield in the twilight fixture at Hartfield Park. With Andy Harold, Jonathon Cole, Kynon Melling and Matt Harold returning to the side you might think John Hunter has a few selection headaches, however, this week suspension rules out Martin Barnes, Jordan Hart and Louis Costley. Ashfield have been finding some good form of late but enter the afternoon minus Scott McIlroy and Trevor Hatton (injury) and with clouds of doubt over Paul Dundo and Joe Woodin.
BAYSWATER FEEL NO PRESSURE: MCSTEA
Midfield general Anthony McStea won’t be taking anything for granted when Wanneroo City visits Bayswater City this Saturday afternoon. With Bayswater sitting jointly atop the Division One table and Wanneroo just a couple of points behind in third, McStea is banking on a tough game against a determined opponent. “Wanneroo are physical and work very hard. Gerry (McEwan) has a team playing to an effective and well-disciplined system and his players really pull their weight for him,” said McStea.
McStea readily admits Bayswater will have to lift their game on Saturday after scrapping past lowly Ashfield 2-0 last time out. “It was a difficult game, Ashfield worked very hard and were well-organised. The performance wasn’t at our highest standard but the positive thing was that we kept pushing and eventually got the reward,” he said. “We were deserved winners in the end, we had a lot of possession and also created a few good chances ... Ashfield really didn’t test our goalkeeper throughout the game.”
Bayswater have been Division One’s most consistent side, losing just twice over 90 minutes to rightfully be top of the table after eighteen games. A key element in their season has been a stable playing roster with coach Mauro Marchione calling just eighteen players into his staring line-up. “Stability is always important when establishing a strong bond,” commented McStea. “We play to a rhythm of passing and movement and every player in our team understands this.”
There’s a very good chance the Division One championship won’t be decided until the final round as Bayswater and Bunbury go game-for-game, locked together with equal points. Despite this, McStea says his clubs isn’t feeling any pressure and that it’ll business as usual over the closing stages of the season. “I don’t think there is much pressure on us,” McStea commented. “All the pressure is on Bunbury, they’ve led all season and I’d suggest would be most peoples’ favourites for promotion at this stage.”
FEELY PREPARED FOR A SCRAP
Cockburn City striker Rory Feely will be digging deep as his club attempts to eek out enough points to remain in the Premier League behind the winter. With only three rounds of fixtures remaining Cockburn are three points behind fellow relegation candidate, Swan United. Feely has no doubt his club has the ability to pull away from the drop zone, however, they have to get back to basics after going off the boil in recent weeks. “The pressure is really on us now,” Feely said. “When Tony Castillo took over we had a few strong results but I believe we have just lost the edge over the last few weeks.”
Feely, 20, scored twice in last week’s game at Floreat Athena who, unfortunately from Cockburn’s point of view, put away three goals. “We didn’t defend well all over the park and as a result we were punished. We need to stay focused for the whole 90 minutes because we can’t afford to be conceding goals at this stage in the season,” said Feely. “In the second half we showed that we can be very dangerous when we pull ourselves together, unfortunately it’s a game of two 45 minutes. So as long as we can switch on from the first whistle there is nothing stopping us getting nine points from our remaining games, starting with Joondalup on Saturday .”
After breaking into Stirling Lions’ first team last season, Feely decided to have a break from football and promptly took to playing rugby. “It was just what I needed at the time, it was a good break,” he explained. “I woke up one morning and decided I wanted to play (football) again. Scott Miller gave me a buzz and asked if I wanted to go down to Cockburn and I fitted in really well. They are all a good bunch of lads and most importantly I’m enjoying playing again. I’ve been scoring a few goals which is always nice. But you can’t score goals without strong players around you, supporting me, so it’s mostly just me on the end of crosses and passes set up by the team mates.”
Feely is grateful to the coaches that have helped him along the way, particularly his former boss at Stirling. “Mick Lyons would probably have to be the biggest influence on my career as he introduced me to first team football and gave me a chance, which is always great for a young player,” said Feely. “Every coach is different so it’s important you learn something from every coach you get. My main ambition is just to enjoy my football and see where it takes me. I’m studying at the moment so that’s my number one priority - apart from not getting relegated - so I just have to see where it takes me.”
MORE FINALS GLORY
Perth Glory is poised for a second successive A-League finals appearance. At least that’s the opinion of the West Australian football community in response to the latest footballwa.net poll which asked 'How will Perth Glory fare in A-League season 2010/11?' By far the most popular placing was 'Third or fourth' (46%) which garnered over twice the number of votes as 'Fifth or sixth, and a sneaking into the finals' (21%). 'Runners-up' (10%) came in just ahead of 'Regular season champions!' (9%) to have the vast majority of voters putting the club in the play-offs. The nay-sayers chimed in with ' Seventh, just missing out on the play-offs' (5%), 'Wooden spoon' (4%) and 'Eighth, ninth or tenth' (2%). 111 responses were received during the 10-day voting period.
TREVISIOL PLEASED WITH CANNING’S PROGRESS
It may have been a long, hard slog but Canning City can proudly hold high their heads for a job well done this season. The club was left threadbare after being relegated from the top flight last year with long-time coach Frank Longstaff and the majority of their senior playing list moving on. Daniel Trevisiol, the longest-serving player on Canning’s books, believes the club is on track to once again become a major force in Division One. “It has been a difficult season for all at the club following the disappointment last year, but I think in general most would be pleased with what has been done in the circumstances,” said Trevisiol.
Canning showed great character in going down 2-1 to top of the table Bunbury Forum Force last weekend, the result a far cry from the 9-2 thrashing they suffered down south three months ago. “That result is a good indication of how far the squad has come this season,” commented Trevisiol, who only recently returned from a serious knee injury. “The game against Bunbury was quite close, although they were stronger moving the ball forward and keeping good possession. Canning did press for an equaliser for the last twenty minutes and we can definitely hold our heads high for such a strong effort against the best team in the league!”
Trevisiol found it difficult adapting to what amounted to an entirely new Canning squad put together by the coaching team of Billy Russell and Tom Kilkelly. “Initially I found it difficult fitting into a team of new faces that played a different style of football,” said Trevisiol, who played six seasons under Longstaff. “The core group of players are now playing more effectively as a team and some of the clubs younger talent are moving up and getting accustomed to first team football, and doing a decent job with the game time they are given.”
Canning’s next assignment has them home soil to eastern corridor rivals Gosnells City. “The local derby typically makes for a physical and close encounter,” said Trevisiol. “We were unlucky to go down to the then league leaders when they met earlier this year, with some Canning players jumping ship just a week before the game. We’ll be looking to exact revenge for that and possibly jump Dianella in the placings. The primary objective for the last few games is to continue to improve as a team - play the ball around more fluently, have less reliance on long balls and create a few more opportunities to score goals.”
PERICH WANTS THREE POINTS TO BE HIS PARTING GIFT
David Perich heads back to college in the United States next week but before jetting out would like to help Swan United secure their place in the 2011 Premier League. Swan haven’t win at home all season but with the club sitting just three points off last spot Saturday’s clash with Western Knights would be the perfect time to break their duck. “It’s a vital game for the club and it would be nice to get a home win at least once in the season,” Perich said. “We can beat any side on our day, it’s just a matter of not gifting them goals at the back, working hard in the middle and up-front and giving it all on the day.”
Loss in Mandurah City last week left the club to battle it out with Cockburn City to see who will playing 2011 in the second tier. Perich believes Swan needs a little bit of luck to go their way against the Knights, something that didn’t happen against Mandurah. “It was disappointing result last week but they probably had the better chances throughout what was a really scrappy game,” Perich commented on the narrow 1-0 loss. “The referring didn’t help, but we must remember they are infallible. When things go against you then you have to fight a little bit harder.”
Perich, 22, has enjoyed his eight-game spell back in the State League even though results have not always gone in Swans’ favour. “It always takes a few weeks to settle back in, especially this year with Swan having a lot of new faces,” said Perich, who has been a regular fixture of Jamie Goodman’s line-up since the Round Ten clash with Balcatta. “I’ve been playing alright, but if I had any shooting ability, I think Swan would be in a completely different position.”
After Saturday’s game it’s back to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Perich will captain the Cardinal Stritch University Wolves while completing a Bachelor of International Business. “I still have one semester left and I head back next week,” he said. “It has been a great experience overall and I would maybe have liked to have done it early into my studies to avoid being at University for so long, as I’ve been smashing all the exams.” Swan’s home game with the Knights kicks-off at 3.00pm on Saturday.
JONES SIGNS FOR LIVERPOOL
Australian international Brad Jones has reportedly secured a dream move to English Premier League giants Liverpool. The ‘Daily Mail’ newspaper reports Liverpool have agreed a £2 million ($A3.49 million) deal with Middlesbrough to bring 28-year old Jones to Anfield Park. New manager Roy Hodgson had been keen to bolster his goalkeeping stocks behind first choice Pepe Reina and was forced to up his offer after an initial £1.5 million ($A2.62 million) bid for Jones rejected.
Jones sat out Middlesbrough’s Carling Cup victory over Chesterfield on Tuesday as the clubs continued to negotiate his release. The move caps a turbulent period for the ‘keeper, who left Australia’s World Cup squad just before the start of the tournament after his 4-year old son was diagnosed with leukaemia. Jones has spent over a decade in England after entering Middlesbrough’s youth setup in 1999, making over 70 first team appearances for the club. He also spent time on loan with Sheffield Wednesday, Blackpool and Stockport County.
SPENCE ON TOP
Devon Spence has not looked back since taking the gloves with Premier League leaders Perth SC in May. Signed initially as replacement for injured stoppers Luke Martino and Jason Saldaris, Spence has cemented his place as Graham Normanton's number one. "I have really enjoyed my time at Perth, with the professionalism that is around the club it's a great atmosphere to be in," said the 19-year old. "My season has been much better than I had anticipated, but there is a long way for me to go yet."
Spence began the year with Perth only to settle on playing for Balcatta. "I trained with Perth early this season - on my way back from injury - just to get my fitness back," the goalkeeper explained. "I spoke to Normo (and said) I was looking for a club. But he made it clear that he was giving Luke (Martino) and Jason (Saldaris) as much first team action as possible, so I signed for Balcatta."
But things at Balcatta didn't go to plan with Spence third in line behind David Khuen and Bobson Koroma. "I had limited game time at Grindleford Reserve and was getting really frustrated," Spence added. "But after Perth played at Balcatta, I spoke to Perth goalkeeping coach Glen Giudici and he told me that both 'keepers were struggling with injury and Normo would like me to come down - I haven't looked back since!"
Perth's reputation for developing fine 'keepers is attributable to one person according to Spence. "I believe most if that comes down to their goalkeeping coach, Glen. He is great to train with, always pushes you and then a little bit further and is involved with every goalkeeper at the club, which is great to see," Spence commented. "Saying that, he still hasn't mastered how to get the ball past me in training."
Born in South Africa, Spence only took up football after his family moved to Perth eight years ago. "Like most teenagers I tried most sports but rugby was the main one, I played it here when I arrived but I also played (football) for South Perth," he said. "I joined Canning City as a 15-year old and was part of their Under-16's League Champions, and the next season I was in the Canning first team with Frank Longstaff."
Trials a few years back with Portsmouth, Northampton Town, Yeovil Town and Rushden and Diamonds strengthened Spence's desire to play professionally. "It was a great experience in the UK, and meeting David James at Pompey was a great moment for me," he said. "I would like to head back to Europe again as playing as a professional is my ultimate goal. I will always want to play at the highest level and I will not stop until I get there."
Shaun Kilkelly and Dom De Felice found the net in last weeks' 2-1 win at Western Knights which propelled Perth to the top of the Premier League pile. "The win was a great result for the club," said Spence, who played a key role in the result. "Knowing that the Knights would be a massive challenge at their home, we had belief that we could go there and win and it worked out perfectly."
On Sunday Spence comes up against former team mates when Balcatta, who have already beaten Perth twice this season, call in at Dorrien Gardens. "Three points is always vital in this league and Sunday's game is no exception. With our win last Saturday we go into the game high on confidence," said Spence. "We will only look to the other games against Balcatta, to see where we went wrong and how we can improve on it."
SOCCEROOS SUNK BY SLOVENIA
New Australia coach Holger Osieck was given plenty to ponder as he watched the Socceroos sink to a 2-0 loss to Slovenia in Ljubljana. A 77th minute header from substitute Zlatko Dedic and a last-gasp drive by Zlatan Ljubijankic capped a dominant performance from the home nation. The Socceroos were kept pinned back in their half for much of the encounter with Slovenia captain Robert Koren pulling the midfield strings. Although the Socceroos lacked spark, they come closest to finding the back of the net in a scoreless first half when Mile Jedinak’s 35th minute cross bounced over goalkeeper Samir Handanovic and rebounded off the upright with Bruce Djite skying the rebound when it seemed easier to score.
Perhaps aggrieved not to have capitalised on their first half dominance, Slovenia began the second period by piling the pressure on the beleaguered Lucas Neill-led Australian defence. After the home side went close on a host of occasions, it was Dedic broke the deadlock by drifting in to head Miso Brecko’s cross past the out-stretched glove of second half ‘keeper Adam Federici. Ljulijankic doubled the advantage in the shadow of full-time, pouncing on a poor Neill touch to drive a shot past a despairing Federici. Richard Garcia played a full game, Nikita Rukavytsya came off on 72 minutes with Shane Lowry an unused substitute.
FULLY-FIT COYNE RELISHING VICTORY TEST
Jamie Coyne is fighting fit and ready to take on one of the toughest challenges in the A-League this weekend. Coyne says he has fully recovered from a bout of sickness that threatened his participation in last Friday's season opener against North Queensland Fury and is relishing the prospect of Saturday's away game against Melbourne Victory. "I wasn't feeling the best for the game but I woke up Saturday and felt a hell of a lot better so all fine for this weekend," he said. "After the game I obviously collapsed in a bit of a heap and had a pretty good sleep on Friday night."
Coyne is excited about the prospect of taking on Victory at the new AAMI Park, although he conceded Glory must improve defensive aspects of their game if they are to have success in Melbourne. "To be in front in the game in the dying minutes (then concede) it's very frustrating," he said. "The goals we conceded, we weren't too happy with on the weekend but we move forward and learn from it. The defence isn't just the back four and the goalkeeper. You defend as a unit and we attack as a unit."
Glory were thrashed 6-2 on their last trip to Melbourne but Coyne said the score did not reflect the closeness of the contest. He did, however, concede Victory were one of the most potent attacking teams in the competition. "Even on the weekend they were 2-0 down and came back into the game in the space of seven minutes (scoring three times)," he said. "So that's the danger with them. They might not be having the best day but they are still capable of scoring a hell of a lot of goals ... hopefully we'll be able to limit their chances."
OSIECK THE SOCCEROOS NEW COACH
Former Canada and Urawa Red Diamonds coach Holger Osieck is the new coach of the Socceroos. German-born Osieck, 61, was an assistant to Franz Beckenbauer with the Germany national team for three years, a period which included their 1990 World Cup win, and guided Canada to the CONCACAF Gold Cup title in 2000. At club level he has coached Vfl Bochum, Fenerbahce, Kocaelispor Fenerbahce and Japanese side Urawa Red Diamonds, where he won the 2007 Asian Champions League.
Speaking from Ljubljana, where the Socceroos are preparing for their friendly with Slovenia, Osieck said he was confident he could lead Australia successfully despite the generational change expected ahead of the 2011 Asian Cup and 2014 World Cup campaigns. “I feel very much honoured to be your choice,” he said. “It’s a very big challenge for me, it’s a great challenge. We’re not starting from scratch. Australia has done very well in recent years and made the past two World Cups and our first target should be to establish our team on that level on a permanent basis.”
HARNWELL CAUTIOUS AS RECORD APPROACHES
Long-serving defender Jamie Harnwell has no intention of looking beyond the challenge of Saturday's A-League clash against Melbourne Victory despite being on the cusp of claiming his place in Perth Glory's history. Harnwell, who debuted for his hometown club in 1998, is closing in on Bobby Despotovski's 241-game record having registered his 236th appearance in Friday's draw with North Queensland Fury.
Harnwell, however, is cautious about making career projections after hamstring and knee problems threatened to end his playing days last season. "It's something that people talk about so you can't help but think about it," he said of the record. "It will be nice to get there if I do, but after last season I'm not taking anything for granted at this stage. I'm just making sure I'm right to play every week and go from there."
Having initially made his mark with Sorrento, Harnwell was snapped up in mid-1998 by then Glory coach Bernd Stange. He helped Glory finish top of the National Soccer League on three occasions and to Grand Final victory twice before captaining the club for through the first two A-League campaigns. Harnwell's Glory career has been interrupted by brief spells with Leyton Orient, Welling United (England) and Swiss league club FC Vaduz.
The big defender senses a change in the mood at Perth Oval after a crowd in excess of 16,000 turned out for the North Queensland game. "I think the crowd on Friday night was the first time we've had that buzz for a normal home league match since the first couple of years I was playing," Harnwell said. "With Robbie (Fowler) coming on board there is that expectation and that sort of buzz factor that has been missing for a long time."
Harnwell's next test brings him face to face with 20-year old Melbourne Victory speedster Mate Dugandzic. "He's quite pacy and quite busy and he's going to work hard. And they are always a good side, especially in Melbourne," Harnwell said. "I don't think pace is a concern, as long as you can read the game well. We've been around long enough to know. A pacy player is always a handful but it's not the be all and end all."
SAINSBURY IMPRESSES AT SHEFFIELD
Central Coast Mariners defender Trent Sainsbury has returned from a two-week stint at Sheffield United with an offer of staying on with the English club. It's believed the Blades were so impressed with Sainsbury that they have offered the 18-year old a further three-month invitation with a view of long-term deal. However, it's likely the Mariners will hold on to the starlet for at least another twelve months to allow him to develop further before heading to Europe.
GLORY HOPEFUL OF CONTRACT RESOLUTION
Perth Glory has been given hope they might soon receive international clearances for new signings Michael Baird and Josh Mitchell after a dispute with their former club, Universitatea Craiova. FIFA gave Football Federation Australia provisional approval for Central Coast Mariners to register new signing Josh Rose, who had been in a similar predicament following his departure from the same Romanian club. Baird, Mitchell and Rose walked out on Craiova at the end of last season having been unpaid for several months, however, the club denied their clearance applications and forced them to miss last the weekend’s round of the A-League season.
Glory have their fingers crossed that Baird and Mitchell will receive a clearance similar to Rose before Saturday night’s clash at Melbourne Victory. “Whilst we don’t know Joshua’s case specifically, the cases are very similar, if not identical, in which case we would think our clearance is imminent,” Glory deputy chairman Lui Giuliani said. “Our understanding is we lodged it a number of weeks before the Joshua Rose case was lodged and we are still waiting. It’s extremely frustrating because all of our legal advice was this was a straight forward case. We lodged the appeal with FIFA at the earliest possible date back in mid-June.”
Baird has been left frustrated by the whole experience and lashed out at his former club, claiming the Romanian outfit purposely delayed his clearance just to spite him. “The club actually knew that what they were doing and how they’d restrict me from playing,” Baird said. “We actually spoke to the club and they said ‘stay, stay (but) we won’t be able to pay you until March’ and that sort of thing. I said ‘well it’s been four months, it’s time to move on, next phase of my life’. And they said ‘well we won’t let you play’ and they knew they could do it and they’ve done it before.”
HULL IS HOME FOR GARCIA
Richard Garcia is happy to be a wanted man preparing for a fight. Having enhanced his reputation with a couple of Socceroos appearance at the World Cup, Garcia has confirmed he will stay at Hull City and be part of their campaign to return to the Premier League at the first attempt. “It’s always nice to have interest and I was seriously considering one or two options,” Garcia told Jonathon Cook of the ‘West Australian’ newspaper. “But the new manager has come in and he wants me there to be part of our promotion push. It’s confidence building for me. That’s what you want to hear from your manager.”
The Hull squad has undergone considerable change since being relegated to the Championship. Even so, Garcia is positive of a good season, which started on Saturday with a 2-0 win over Swansea City. “There have been plenty of changes around the club with a new management team, and so far it looks pretty exciting,” he said. “We want to pop straight back up but it’s going to be a hard task because it’s a hard league. Once you’ve had a taste of the Premier League you want that again as a club.”
SAGE HAILS FANS FAITH
Perth Glory owner Tony Sage has hailed the club's fans for turning out in force for the season opener against North Queensland Fury on Friday. Just over 16,000 lined the Perth Oval terraces for Robbie Fowler's Glory debut in a rollercoaster match that ended in a 3-3 draw. But it was the result at the turnstiles that delighted Sage more than the scoreline. "The record setting crowd on Friday night, to me as owner and Chairman, was like getting a big tick from the people of Western Australia that we had built something that they could be and are proud of supporting," Sage said via a club-issued release.
Despite pre-game predictions of a 18,000-plus crowd, Sage was pleased with the bumper turn-out of 16,019 - Glory's largest home attendance since the A-League began in 2005. "It has been some time since we have seen a crowd like that at nib Stadium, in my view not since the old NSL days, with the stadium electric from well before the game right up until the final whistle," Sage said. "We were expecting a crowd of about 14/15,000 for round one, with up to 2,000 of that being promotional/complimentary tickets. To achieve an attendance of over 16,000 with less than 1,000 of those being promotional tickets hopefully sets the tone of the rest of the season."
WILLIAMS ON THE ROAD TO RECOVERY
Socceroo Rhys Williams is on the road to recovery after a feud which threatened to ignite between club and country. Two months ago the then Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek slammed Gordon Strachan's managerial standards, laying the blame on the Middlesbrough boss after Williams was forced out of his World Cup plans because of chronic osteitis pubis. Strachan responded by saying that Middlesbrough's medical staff made all decisions on injured players and that Williams was happy to play anyway.
Peace talks between the Socceroos hierarchy and Strachan have opened the door on Williams being treated by Adelaide-based physiotherapist Anthony Hogan. "I spoke to my manager (Strachan) and I never took sides. I've got nothing to worry about," said Williams, who kept his head down during the war of words. "But he was fine when I spoke to him about it (rehabilitation). He just said, 'Get it right' and he's brought in reinforcements, so I don't think he needs me just yet."
Williams has not had a full training session in eight weeks but remains confident of a speedy recovery. "I came to Adelaide for two weeks about six weeks ago to see what we can do, and then I went on holiday," he said. "I'm not too sure how long I'm going to be here. It might be eight to twelve weeks or more. I decided to come here because of the Socceroos when I was in South Africa. They see this as the best idea, to visit Anthony in Adelaide. All my physios in Middlesbrough knew him as well and that's good."
Having battle the injury since October and missed the Socceroos World Cup campaign in South Africa, Williams isn't about to rush his rehabilitation. That includes turning out for Australia at the Asian Cup in Qatar in January. "I've got a long way to go to get it fixed. I'm just working on my core and lower body to get it strong," he said. "I train every day and it's good to do that. We're doing everything to get it right but I'm nowhere near kicking the ball or running at the moment."
FOWLER MISSING IN GLORY OPENER
Perth Glory coach David Mitchell concedes his team failed to make full use of star recruit Robbie Fowler in Friday night's 3-3 draw with North Queensland Fury. Fowler showed glimpses of class against his former club but was well shut down for the most part, robbing Glory of their most potent weapon. Glory looked to have done enough to secure victory when second half goals to Scott Neville and Mile Sterjovski gave them a 3-2 lead, but Chris Grossman's 92nd minute header saw North Queensland snatch a share of the spoils.
Mitchell felt Fowler was under-utilised during his 82 minute run. "Robbie hasn't played a full game in pre-season and he did tremendously well to keep pace with the game. We just couldn't find him," Mitchell said. "We wanted to try to find him in certain areas and credit to them they defended well in those areas and stopped us playing to him, and it became pretty frustrating ... But it's not all about Robbie Fowler, it's about all the players around him as well and we've just got to gel and make sure we find him a bit better."
DE FELICE SENDS PERTH BACK TO THE TOP
Perth SC came from behind to defeat home side Western Knights 2-1 and reclaim the Premier League leadership with three regular season games remaining. Stuart Montgomery put the Knights ahead early in the second half only to have Shaun Kilkelly equalise two minutes later with Dom De Felice popping up with the winner on 67 minutes. “It was a workman like performance from the lads today, and to go 1-0 down and come back and get the points is very pleasing,” Perth coach Graham Normanton said. “It’s a hard pitch to play on, and we ground out a win out today which was pleasing. The Knights were top of the league and have some good players, so to get three points we’re delighted.”
The Knights should posted the games first goal in the 3rd minute when Paul Van Dongen and Daniel Micevski combined down the left to send clear Jack Doyle whose close-range strike was well saved by Devon Spence. Perth were getting into rhythm when Hayden Doyle’s long-range shot flew narrowly wide after being found by Andreas Oliveira. A Doyle cross from the left dropped just over the crossbar after being caught by the breeze, then a few minutes later Matt Danskin played in to Oliveira whose snap shot crashed off the bar.
Both teams were guilty of not making the most of their opportunities as the half came to a close. Doyle’s through ball sent Simon Versacio clear only for Spence to come out bravely and smother at the midfielders’ feet. Daniel Micevski volleyed wide after good approach work from Versacio, and a great run by David Micevski deserved more than a shot that was the wrong side of the near post. Then was then the turn of Perth to go close as another dangerous cross by Doyle forced Fraser Siddall tip the ball over. Spence came to his sides rescue in stoppage time, brilliantly keeping out a David Micevski shot after getting on the end of a Doyle cross.
The breakthrough came five minutes after the turnaround, Versacio’s pace taking him clear before playing in for Montgomery to fire past Spence from 6-metres. The home side were perhaps still celebrating when, two minutes later, Robbie Puca’s free-kick from the right was poorly defended and Kilkelly rammed the ball in from 3-metres. David Micevski skipped clear on 56 minutes but was thwarted by Trent Kay’s covering tackle as the Knights sought to reclaim the lead. A snap shot by Versacio looked like entering the net until Spence pulled off another top draw save, tipping the ball away at full-stretch.
Doyle was causing the Knights all sorts of problems and went close on 66 minutes with a long-range shot that Siddall brilliantly kept out of the top corner. Puca sent in the resulting corner and an unmarked De Felice headed Perth into the lead from close-range. Again the home side went looking for a quick reply but Versacio and David Micevski shooting wide before claims for handball against Danskin led referee Paul Anderson to turn down a penalty appeal. The Knights day ended sourly with captain David Annall shown a straight red card following an altercation with substitute Kyle Moran.
JOONDALUP UPSET STIRLING LIONS (by Ann Odong, Football West)
ECU Joondalup has scored a major scalp in their quest to make the end of season play-offs by defeating Stirling Lions 3-0 at the Edith Cowan University campus. Phil O’Callaghan got the show on the road early before Jamie Watt netted twice in thirteen minutes to completed the scoring before half-time. “The lads have been terrific,” said the home coach Syd Amphlett. “I have high expectations of the lads and they know that and everything worked today all through the team. I have set them a target of winning the next two games so that we can face Sorrento, the likely challenger for the top five.”
Stirling started confidently with captain Shane Robinson in control of the proceedings centrally and lively winger Ludovic Boi proving an handful for the home defence. But despite Stirling’s majority possession, the pressure exerted in midfield and defence by Joondalup limited the visitors to shots from distance. So it was against the run of play that Joondalup took the lead on 13 minutes when O’Callaghan nodded in at close-range from Dan Allen’s floating left wing cross. Goal number two arrived nine minutes later, O’Callaghan winning possession in midfield and playing an intelligent chip into the path of Watt who had no problem beating goalkeeper Kevin Miller.
Joondalup attempted to kill the game off but Miller was out early to avert the danger after Jon Higgins was played through by O’Callaghan. Although two-goals down, Stirling went close to reducing the deficit in the 34th minute when Robinson played in behind the defence for Boi but he was unable to capitalise as Allen’s pressure forced him into shooting straight at Andy Petterson. A minute later O’Callaghan split the gap between two defenders to find the feet of the Watt who cut inside before lashing past Miller to make it three-nil. Stirling wanted goal of their own before the break but Mario Marcinko’s header was high and Stef Frost nodded to Petterson.
Stirling may have enjoyed the better of early second play but were unable to do much with it. Joondalup on the other hand went close when Garin Collins flicked the ball into the path of Ryan McDarby whose flying strike ricocheted to the back post where Higgins finished disappointingly high from 9-metres. Paul Liccoln brought Tom Ingram and Ndumba Makeche off the bench as he looked for the spark to ignite Stirling. An in-swinging Muirhead free-kick forced Petterson to tip over the crossbar. Fine interplay between Phil Arnold and Boi looked promising when it ended with the ball at Robinson’s feet but he too was unable to get his strike on target.
Under pressure, Joondalup were hitting on the counter attack and in the 74th minute Dale McCulloch released Higgins down the left, the midfielder slipping the ball in to Watt who inexplicably took an air swing at the tap in to the groans of his supporters. Stirling had chances late to gain something out of the afternoon. Bobby Wilson headed a Robinson corner high and minutes later physical pressure from Ross Anderson forced Wilson to nod Boi’s back post cross well wide. Muirhead had one final chance but his shot from distance sailed clear of the bar.
FLOREAT HOLD OFF COCKBURN COMEBACK (by Michael Bate, Football West)
Floreat Athena survived a spirited late fightback to defeat cellar-dwellers Cockburn City 3-2 at Litis Stadium. Goals from Johny Mirco and Adam Bachiller saw Floreat cruise into the break with a two-goal lead, with Daniel Niederberger scoring a third either side of a Rory Feely brace. The win was made all the more memorable for Ante Kovacevic’s side as new filtered through that both Stirling Lions and Western Knights had lost, putting Floreat just three points off top spot, which is now held by Perth SC.
Mirco looked particularly dangerous against his former club from the outset, combining well with Niederberger after just 4 minutes only to be caught offside by an assistant’s flag. Floreat took a deserved lead in the 16th minute when Mirco turned the ball past Dejan Aleksic after getting on the end of Jarrad Smith’s low cross to the front post. The margin was doubled in the 25th minute when a back tracking defence allowed Bachiller to blast low last Aleksic in what had become a one-on-one. Cockburn’s only meaningful attack ended with Jason Dos Santos stinging the gloves of Alex Dunn from 18-metres.
Cockburn coach Tony Castiello brought Wesley Britz on at the interval, prompting a change of shape he hoped would improve his side’s fortunes. The move almost paid dividends just six minutes after the restart when Shintaro Ito crossed to Feely whose powerful header hit the crossbar. Feely had better luck in the 63rd minute when he got on the end of another Ito cross, this time a low ball to the back post that the young striker tucked in with ease. Just as the momentum seemed to be swinging towards the visitors, Niederberger unleashed an unstoppable shot from 16-metres to restore Floreat’s two-goal lead after 71 minutes.
Floreat looked to be coasting to victory until Feely turned the ball over in midfield and charged toward goal before sliding a neat shot past Dunn. The final few minutes saw Floreat survive a couple of nervy moments but they managed to defend well enough to hang on to their one goal lead. The loss keeps Cockburn rooted to the bottom of the Premier League, three points below Swan United with only three games left to save themselves from relegation to Division One.
LATE BURST BOOSTS BALCATTA (by David Cameron, Football West)
Balcatta effectively assured their participation in next year’s top flight by defeating Sorrento 3-1 at Grindleford Reserve. Matt Italiano and Geneveo Human scored late in a game of few chances at earn Balcatta the points after Andy O’Neill’s opener had been cancelled out by Todd Harnwell. “We were very hungry today and played with good intensity. Importantly we had that bit of quality which went a long way towards us winning the match,” said Balcatta coach Salv Todaro. “Importantly our season is in our control now, we know what we have to do and I am confident the boys can get the job done.”
The first half set the tone for the match, with players from both sides uncompromising in their attack on the ball, making for a fascinating spectacle. Balcatta went ahead after 9 minutes through the individual brilliance of O’Neill who, after taking possession inside his defensive half, dribbled past four opponents before rolling the ball past goalkeeper Curtis Aspden in a one-on-one. A shellshocked Sorrento doubled their efforts and in the 22nd minute conjured an equalising goal when Harnwell rose high to loop a header over Bobson Koroma and onto the post before the ball rolled over the line.
The second stanza was a very conservative affair with both sides unwilling to commit too many players forward. There were only two minutes left on the clock when Balcatta found the goal that they craved with Italiano toeing in a Lucas Whitehouse cut back after Ashley Rosindale’s powerful shot was parried by Aspden. The game was made safe two minutes later when a beautiful pass out of midfield saw Human take the ball at pace into the 18-yard box where he coolly rounded Apsden before netting.
SAFETY ONE STEP CLOSER FOR INGLEWOOD
Inglewood United inched away from the relegation zone by grinding out a 4-3 win against a ten-man Armadale outfit at 6PR Stadium. The game was ultimately decided by a bizarre Ryan Clarke goal early in the second half, however, Armadale were unlucky not to earn at least a point after Matt Barlow’s brace set up a tense finish. “We probably set ourselves up there a bit - I think the boys have got a mindset that if we get a few goals up we’re going to concede because it’s happened in a few games now,” said Inglewood boss Shane Pryce. “If you’re going to get through these games you’ve got to have work-rate and commitment and we didn’t tick those boxes with twenty minutes to go today.”
All the early play was with Armadale whose swift movement of the ball had their hosts on the back foot. This attacking approach paid dividends on 7 minutes when a terrific exchange on top of the 18-yard box led Barlow to touch the ball in for James Robinson to angle a low shot past and exposed goalkeeper. With this Inglewood seemed to wake up, Rory Grant pushed wide from a Danny Stoitis free-kick before Adrian Caceres’ shot was deflected wide by Gareth Deeg. The teams were brought level via the resulting corner that Caceres sent in and Jakes Geddes headed in unchallenged at the back post after 14 minutes.
An eventful 8 minutes period midway though the half turned the game on its head. It started with James Robinson squandering a golden opportunity when the ball got stuck under his boot, allowing Matt Worton to clear from all of 1-metre. The miss was punished in the 24th minute by Clarke, who happened to be in the right place at the right time to half-volley in a deflected Stoitis shot. Armadale had salt rubbed into the wound three minutes later when captain Steve McDonald collected his second yellow card after his elbow collected Rory Grant in an aerial dual.
Geddes flashed a centre across the top of the 6-yard box and just ahead of the on-rushing Grant as Inglewood sought to make the most of the extra man. However, Armadale kept their composure and through the central pairing of Steve Porter and Lewis Flatt probbed for openings. Flatt should have put them in front after 41 minutes but having met a Tom Robinson ball in from the right side-footed too close to Taseski. Inglewood struck a third goal in the minutes before half-time with Stoitis presented with a simple header from Caceres’ far post cross.
Clarke was credited with Inglewood’s fourth goal in the 52 minute, the midfielder’s shot from an acute angle slipping through Deeg’s gloves with Bennion’s attempt to clear off the line sending the ball over the line. The sides the commenced trading attacks as Barlow headed wide a Porter corner before Caceres’ explosive drive rose not too far high of the crossbar. Armadale put themselves back in the game with a scrappy goal from Barlow on 65 minutes, the striker making the most of poor defending by flicking the ball over his head and into the net.
The gap was brought back to a single goal in the 67th minute when Flatt squirted a pass out of midfield to Barlow, who rode Darko Ilmanoski’s challenge before shooting into the bottom corner. The momentum was now with the visiting team who managed to retain possession for lengthy periods but struggled to find holes in the home defence. Michael Baczynski entered the game with ten minutes to go and with his first touch unleashed a rasping drive that Deeg tipped away. The closing exchanges were notable only for a nasty collision between Bennion and Ilmanoski that held up while each received treatment.
Disappointed by the result, Armadale coach Brad Hassell was nonetheless pleased with his teams second half performance. “The positive was we kept fighting for 90 minutes,” he said. “It would have been nice to have pinched a fourth goal - and I think it would have definitely been deserved. Today showed more than ever that we had eleven players that worked really hard. No-one let the team down - the attitude at half time was great and that’s why I was reluctant to make any substitutions even when they were starting to tire.”
MANDURAH CLIPS SWANS' WINGS (with Andrew Harris, Football West)
Mandurah City won a war of attrition 1-0 against relegation candidates Swan United at Hyundai Stadium. Christian Pascherwitz could not have found a more opportune time to post his second goal of the season, the strikers 74th minute finish effectively guarantees Mandurah a third straight season of Premier League football. However, there was nothing for Swan to celebrate as they face a relegation scrape with Cockburn City over the final weeks of the winter.
The return of Jeff Bright and the presence of dignitary Alannah Mactiernan saw Mandurah get off to a cracking start with Ivan Zuvela shooting just wide in the opening minute. Swan’s first serious attempt on goal came in the 17th minute when Darragh Kinnevy’s shot from 30-metres failed to trouble Phil Straker. The bulk of play was taking place in the middle of the park from where Rafael Insuralde provided the Mandurah forwards plenty to work with, however, on almost every occasion Swan were up to the task.
A neat one-two between Alex Darby and Andy Brown put them inside the 18-yard box where the latter was tackled by Stuart Long before he was able to get off a shot. It was by no means one-way traffic with David McNally and James Sammut both putting headers on-target with Phil Straker collecting both. Half-time was on the horizon when Brown’s searing from the half way line deserved a better finish that a weak shot which was easily dealt with by Cory Hugo.
The second half continued in much the same fashion with neither side able to dominate. A golden opportunity to break the deadlock was wasted by Insuralde who uncharacteristically passed to straight to an opponent when faced with only Hugo to beat. The game had numerous goal mouth scrambles and in the 74th minute one finally yielded a goal for Paschkewitz, and the lead for Mandurah. Despite staring defeat in the face, Swans failed to create any meaningful chances to get back on level terms.
Substitute Christian Lopez did make his way inside the area by weaving around three opponents but found the task too great when faced by another two defenders and with no supporting team mate. Mandurah finished the stronger and Brown rifled just over the crossbar in the 85th minute. A Darren Broxton grass cutter was narrowly the wrong side of the upright, and a final minute Brown header was captured by Hugo.
QUINN GETS BUNBURY THE POINTS
Bunbury Forum Force continued to march towards the Division One title by defeating Canning City 2-1 at Burrendah Reserve. The visitors were out early and with just 2 minutes gone had the lead thanks to Kieran Kavanagh, who sent a cross from captain Patrick Quinn low into the net from 7-metres. Further opportunities were few and far between in a tight first half. Quinn increased the margin on 34 minutes with a finely struck free-kick from 27-metres that was simply too good for the goalkeeper. Canning was fortunate not to fall further behind with David Rodgers and Quinn unable to make the most of their chances.
The second half was much the same as the first with opportunities for both teams hard to come by. Rodgers and Kavanagh went close for the visitors while Canning’s best chances came the way of Dane Navarro and Wes Ryder. Canning was given a way back into the game when David Mayers was given his marching orders for a second yellow card in the 75th minute. Within four minutes the deficit was half, Graham Herd’s cross from the left flicked on by Navarro with Ryder ghosting in to finish at close-range. Despite asserting some late pressure, the hosts couldn’t find a second goal that would have given them a share of the points.
FIVE-STAR PERFORMANCE BY WANNEROO
Wanneroo City bounced back after last week’s disappointing performance by thumping Rockingham City 5-1 Kingsway Reserve. After a relatively tight opening half-hour, the game finally burst into life with Wanneroo hitting three unanswered goals. Nick Timmings put away the first by cutting in from the left and firing in from 20-meters. A few minutes later Josh Booysen doubled the lead after he met a Dean Timmings cross and finished low from 7-metres. And a minute before the break Chris Pugh’s powerful free-kick from 22-metres gave the hosts a third goal.
The early part of the second half was much like the first, Wanneroo enjoying the greater of possession but unable to find the target. This was rectified on 64 minutes when an own goal made it four-nil to put the result beyond any shadow of a doubt. Rockingham weren’t about to give up hope, however, and on 88 minutes Adam Bremner finished great lead-up work through midfield to score a consolation goal with his teams first meaningful attack of the afternoon. Brian Cairney continued his recent goal scoring form when he ghosted into the box and put away Wanneroo’s fifth goal a minutes later.
GOSNELLS CEMENT TOP FIVE FINISH
Gosnells City out-shot Queens Park 3-1 in an relatively lacklustre affair at Walter Padbury Reserve. The hosts started the game positively and were in front after just 10 minutes thanks to Sean Lally, who scored after a cross from the right wing. The rest of the first half was even with Lally unable to put away another good chance for Gosnells, while Henry Chikombe went closest to drawing the teams level at the other end.
The second half was similarly uneventful with neither team looking particularly threatening in front of goal. That ended on 68 minutes when Chikombe drove in a low shot from 14-metres after meeting a cross from the left. However, just five minutes later Darren Francis connected with a flick on from a free-kick to give the hosts a two-one lead. The result was sealed on 82 minutes when Liam Cave finished into an empty net after beating goalkeeper Brad Eiffe to a ball played from the other end of the park.
NORTH QUEENSLAND SPOIL GLORY'S PARTY
North Queensland came back from the dead to post a thrilling 3-3 draw with Perth Glory in this evening's A-League season opener at Perth Oval. Glory looked to have the game in the bag through goals from Branko Jelic, Scott Neville and Mile Sterjovski, however, two minutes into stoppage time the visitors drew level with Chris Grossman heading in at a corner to break the hearts of the 16,019 home town fans. "It's really disappointing and it feels like a loss," said Glory coach David Mitchell. "We did enough to win the game and I feel we created enough chances."
It was a crackerjack start from the home side who had the lead after 5 minutes as Scott Neville's throw-in was nodded on by Steven McGarry to Adriano Pellegrino, who whipped in a low cross which Jelic fired in at the near post. Urged on by the bumper crowd, Glory almost doubled their lead on 17 minutes but Pellegrino shot wide from 10-metes after meeting a Sterjovski cross. Having weathered the storm, North Queensland gradually established a foothold in the game with their physical presence troubling the home side, especially at set pieces.
The visitors first real chance on goal was Grossman's swinging free-kick that Tando Velaphi punched away, and from the resulting corner Eric Akoto headed wide. Velaphi came to the rescue again by smothering the ball after David Williams' corner went to feet inside the 6-yard box. North Queensland were rewarded with the equalising goal on 34 minutes, Chris Payne needing no second invitation by firing in from 18-metres after picking up Jacob Burns' poor defensive pass.
The second half was only a few minutes old when Neville's 22-metre effort beat goalkeeper Justin Pasfield before crashing into the crossbar. Neville was causing the visitors all sorts of problems down the right and two minutes later earned Glory a corner from which Sterjovski's was denied by Pasfield. Glory should have had the lead just after the hour when Robbie Fowler's brilliant through ball released Sterjovski, however, his shot form 12-metres went agonisingly wide.
That would prove a costly miss as four minute later Payne beat Naum Sekulovksi to cross for Williams who fired in at the back post on the half-volley. Glory were fortunate not to go another down with Adam Casey heading past the post before Williams' low long-range strike called Velaphi into action. Urged on by the crowd, Glory regained control of the game and on 72 minutes McGarry found Sekulovksi whose curling shot was narrowly beyond the far post.
Parity was restored in the 74th minute via a stunning 20-metre strike from Neville after the visitors only partially cleared a Sterjovski corner. Five minutes later Jamie Harnwell found Pellegrino down the right with the midfielder's pin-point cross glanced into the net off the head of Sterjovski to sent the home crowd into a frenzy. However, two minutes into stoppage time North Queensland were awarded a dubious free-kick wide on the left which Isaka Cernak played in and Grossman rose highest to nod into the back of the net.
PREMIER LEAGUE IN PREVIEW
Nash Field is the place to be tomorrow for the top-of-the-table clash between Western Knights and Perth SC (3pm). New signing Jack Doyle impressed on his debut for the Knights last week and looks set to play another starring role as Daniel Trim and Stuart Montgomery torment the visiting defence. Graham Normanton's decision to leave Perth at the end of the season has given them added impetus to finish the winter on top of the table. Perth have taken something from their last five league visits to Nash Field and if Andreas Oliveira, Robbie Puca and Dom De Felice get into rhythm that will stretch to six.
Stirling Lions, who sit level on points with the Knights, head north to ECU Joondalup. Phil O'Callaghan would like nothing more than to put a few goals past his former club and help Joondalup repeat last year's five-goal win over Stirling. Charlie Comyn-Platt continues to impress at the back with captain Dale McCulloch leading by example in the middle. Visiting coach Paul Lincoln will be sweating on the fitness of influential defender Bobby Wilson, who limped out of last week's draw with Floreat Athena, while welcoming Roberto Lujan back from a knee injury.
The remaining four games have a major role to play in who ends the season relegated to Division One. Cockburn City, who currently occupies that spot, are away to Floreat Athena and must start accumulating points sooner rather than later to retain their top flight status. With Anthony Pereira overseas and Adrian Webster doubtful due to injury, the pressure is on Marc Anthony, Shane Nunes and Paul Natale to perform. Branimir Mikulic and Johny Mirco have been in sparkling form for Floreat, who enter the game minus James Isaia (injury) and Mo Atak (overseas).
Inglewood United must take something from their home clash with Armadale after throwing away a two-goal lead last week. The arrival of Adrian Caceres has sharpened Inglewood's attacking focus, however, picking up one point at a time isn't doing them any great favours. Michael Baczynski is likely to return from injury, while Daniel Stoitis would like to add to the double he scored at Swan United. Armadale striker James Robinson will play his 50th game for the club on a day goalkeeper Gareth Deeg makes his debut, standing in between the posts for suspended Cyril Sharrock.
Mandurah City have home ground advantage against lowly Swan United. Stuart Young's side has lost only twice at home this season and that's unlikely to change should the likes of Andy Brown, Ryan Townsend and new signing Jeff Bright get into stride. Swan boss Jamie Goodman needs big performances from David McNally, David Perich and Tom Shepheard if they are to come away with so much as a point and ease away from the drop zone. Rory Mouttet's season has been ended by injury, however, Michael Van Dongen looks set for a recall.
Balcatta can end their freefall by collecting a much-needed win over Sorrento at Grindleford Reserve. Ashley Rosindale and Lucas Whitehouse will need to be closely watched closely by the Sorrento rearguard, likewise Jack Clisby and Matt Italiano when coming out of midfield. The Gulls can't afford to slip up with Armadale breathing down their necks in the battle for fifth. Adam Hayton and James Morgan have been in fine form in the middle of the park, with Todd Harnwell and Jason Mirco causing all sorts of problems down the flanks. All six games start at 3.00pm tomorrow.
DIVISION ONE IN PREVIEW
The Division One match of the round is the local derby between Ashfield and Bayswater City under lights at Ashfield Reserve (6.30pm). It’s a must-win game for both teams, Bayswater in order to keep the pressure on fellow leaders Bunbury Forum Force whereas Ashfield want the points to ease their relegation fears. The home side will need Scott McIlory, Leo Harman and John Monterosso in red-hot form to have any chance of getting a result. Bayswater City on the other hand will be hoping Anthony McStea and Damien Catalano can once again dominate across the middle of the pitch and keep the supply line open to Gustavo Marulanda.
Bunbury Forum Force are expected to come away from Canning City with the points, likewise third-placed Wanneroo City who are home to Rockingham City. Dianella White Eagles have home ground advantage against Forrestfield United, who've climbed up to fourth on the back of a four-game unbeaten run. Queens Park are yet to collect a point this season on their travels and it's unlikely that will change after visiting eastern corridor rivals Gosnells City. Morley Windmills and Fremantle Spirit played out a tight 1-1 draw earlier in the season and Saturday's return match at Wotton Reserve is shaping up to be just as close. These five games start at 3.00pm.
DANSKIN CAN’T WAIT FOR “MASSIVE GAME”
A new chapter in the already lengthy Perth SC v Western Knights saga will be written when the clubs meet at Nash Field on Saturday afternoon. A healthy rivalry has evolved between the clubs over the past decade and Perth midfielder Matt Danskin can not wait for what promises to be one of the games of the season. "It's always a massive game when we play the Knights, whether it's in the Night Series, the league or the finals," Danskin said. "There's a good rivalry between two excellent teams and the two clubs have a great respect for each other."
Danskin, 25, says Perth are in the process of returning to peak form after a disappointing five-games winless run. That revival began with a stylish 3-1 victory at Inglewood before seeing off a determined Mandurah City outfit last time out. "Mandurah was finally a return to some good form, probably the best we've played as a team for a long time," commented Danskin. "I thought we deserved the win but the 3-0 score line doesn't reflect how hard we had to work for it and Mandurah pushed us all the way."
News that long-time coach Graham Normanton was to step down at the end of the season took Danskin by surprise. "It was a big shock to me and everyone involved with the club to hear that Graham won't be coaching us next year," he said. "What he gives to the club and the players is unbelievable, the time he puts in with the players is phenomenal. His planning is meticulous and that shows in the results he's achieved and the respect the players and everyone around the club and the football public in general have for him."
Danskin, who has battled injury since joining Perth in 2004, thanked Normanton for taking a few years off his football career. "Injuries, it's been the story of my career. One thing I can thank Normo for is playing 3-5-2, working me like a horse and taking ten years off my career," he joked. "The hamstrings are fine but I'm booked in for a shoulder reconstruction on the 7th of October. Its dislocated ten times this year so a few more will be worth if we can win the league and send Normo off the way he deserves, that's why I've been sticking it out, that's what I want to be involved with."
Central to Perth's season has been the midfield control of 2008 Gold Medal winner Antonio Naglieri and partner in crime Robbie Puca, a former national league player with Gippsland Falcons. "Nags and Pucs have all the experience we could ask for. They will tell you they haven't been in peak form to date but as the season progresses and the closer to the finals we get, their quality will show through," said Danskin. "Their experience is such an asset for the team."
Dom De Felice, who grabbed a brace against Mandurah, will be another key figure as Perth attempt to climb back to the top of the Premier League. "Dom is such a versatile player, he always gives 100% and that's what we want out of every player every week," said Danskin. "He - like all of the players - see playing for Perth and for Graham as a privilege. He never complains, just gets on with the job and I think we are seeing his best form right now."
Perth could find themselves on top of the table should they beat the Knights and results elsewhere go in their favour. "We know we have to win all our remaining games if we want to finish top at the end of the season and go into the finals with good form under our belt," commented Danskin, whose team have already beaten the Knights twice this year. "This weeks game will be no different from games in the past - two teams wanting to win and doing everything possible to knock each other off, it should be a classic."
COACH GIVES PETKOVIC THE THUMBS UP
Goalkeeper Michael Petkovic will be Melbourne Victory's only debutant when they commence the A-League season away at Sydney FC on Saturday. The 34-year old veteran has played the last eight years in Turkey and was considered unlucky to miss out on one of the Socceroos three goalkeeping spots for the recent World Cup. "We've all got a lot of faith in Michael Petkovic. His training has been outstanding. You know how you can just tell straight away. The top end boys just show," coach Ernie Merrick said. "It’s always surprised me why he hasn’t been a regular in a Socceroos team, that's been a big surprise for me."
Petkovic has made a major impression on his coach since arriving at the club. "Michael has got tremendous experience, 200 games in Turkey, he's a regular. He's a good player and you can just tell from the way he's playing in training, the quality of player he is," Merrick added. "I rate him very, very highly. You know what goalkeepers are like they can play well until their late 30s, look at (Mark) Schwarzer. They don’t cover much distance, it’s all short, sharp stuff. Having good anticipation skills are a big plus and he's got all that."
KNIGHTS BELONG ON TOP: MICEVSKI
Western Knights have turned a corner and are back on track to defend their Premier League title. Last week's four-goal mauling of Balcatta returned the club to their rightful place at the top of the leader board, a position midfielder Daniel Micevski says they have no intention of surrendering. "It's fantastic to be on top again. We played a really solid game against Balcatta and deserve to be where we are," commented Micevski, a regular in the Knights line-up.
Beating Balcatta brings to a close a disappointing run for the Knights, who lost to ECU Joondalup before settling for draws with Premier League stragglers Inglewood United and Mandurah City. "I think it's fair to say we have been very unfortunate not to come away with better results from our recent games," said Micevski, who admitted his clubs winless run had been worrying. "There was a small concern within the team but it's been fortunate that some of the other results have fallen our way."
Micevski is looking forward to regular game time as the season comes to a close having been in and out of the Knights line-up due to injury. "I was away for a lot of the pre-season and only arrived a couple of matches into the Night Series," he explained. "I started really well until tearing my medial ligament against Mandurah. I missed a few more matches after re-injuring the same area but it's finally feeling the way it should."
Although the Knights have sat close to the top of the table for the entire 2010 season they had only one player, David Micevski, selected in the State team that faced Perth Glory last week. "That was definitely a surprise, especially as we have been at the top of the table for two seasons running now," said Micevski. "I think any 'select' team should be based on form, consistency and team success. There are definitely more players from our side who should have been part of the State side."
Micevski comes up against one of his former clubs this weekend when the Knights host Perth SC in the match of the round. "Perth seems to have the wood on us, especially in some vital games over the last few seasons," said the midfielder. "They have a very experienced side and are coming off a couple of good wins. I'm sure they will go into the match full of confidence but so will we. A Knights win will put us in great stead to win the league again."
ROCKINGHAM RECHARGED BY ROBINSON
Steve Robinson has worked wonders since taking over the coaching reins at Rockingham City. In the six weeks since taking over Robinson has instilled a new sense of confidence in a Rockingham squad and guided them away from Division One's relegation zone. "The lads have displayed a great deal of enthusiasm and commitment to training and their approach to match days has been excellent," said Robinson. "It's more or less the same set of players that were at the club when I started but now they have a touch of belief and confidence."
Although he's not yet been approached the signs are looking good for Robinson to stay on with Rockingham next season. "I think it may happen. I have not been officially notified as yet, however, I have received feedback that the new board are very happy with what has been achieved so far," he said. "If I do stay I would like to bring back the local Rocky boys who have disappeared to other clubs over the last couple of seasons. We need to add quality throughout the squad which would enhance the intensity and quality of training sessions."
Robinson is the first to admit Rockingham rode their luck in beating Ashfield 1-0 last time out. "We had a bit of luck mate but we also took the risks," he said. "It was a must-win game and we went for it. Ashfield had quite a few chances to score and failed to finish them. We learned that we can get the ball down and play nice attractive football, as well as battle hard and 'dig in' when it is required ... it certainly wasn't a game for the purists."
The win over Ashfield, which came courtesy of a first half Matt Leckenby goal, put Rockingham nine points clear of the drop zone. Having now guided the club to wins over both Queens Park and Ashfield, Robinson feels well positioned to tip who'll be bottom of the pile come Round Twenty-Two. "I think Queens Park will finish bottom - Ashfield had a touch more about them, they were organised better and in my opinion had better quality player," Robinson said.
Rockingham find themselves on the road this Saturday to third-placed Wanneroo City who, although unbeaten in ten games, are coming off a surprise 1-1 draw at lowly Fremantle Spirit. "I believe and expect the players to approach the game with confidence, passion and composure," said Robinson, whose team went down 2-1 at home to Wanneroo in May. "We will try everything in our power to take the points. We'll be competitive and aim to play our football on the deck - we are up for the game!"
LIVERPOOL BID FOR MIDDLESBROUGH'S JONES
Liverpool have been linked with a shock move for goalkeeper Brad Jones. Capped twice by Australia, 28-year old Jones has reportedly been lined-up by new Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson as back-up for Spanish international Pepe Reina. Jones is understood to be interested in moving to Anfield Park and knows Hodgson is a long-term fan as he tried to take him to Fulham earlier in the summer. But Hogdson is facing a fight to lure Jones away from Middlesbrough whose coach Gordon Strachan is keen on keeping the 'keeper.
STERJOVSKI FIGHTING TO MAKE SEASON OPENER
Perth Glory are anticipating a bumper crowd of up to 20,000 for tomorrow evening's new season opener against North Queensland Fury at Perth Oval. However, suggestions of a new record crowd for a home and away game has been tempered by a string of on-field absentees. Mile Sterjovski is fighting to shake off a bug than forced him to miss this morning's final training session while injured duo Andy Todd and Victor Sikora as well as Michael Baird and Josh Mitchell, who are yet to receive international clearance from their former Romanian club, will miss the game.
Robbie Fowler's arrival in Perth has been attributed to the dramatic ticket sales spike, which Glory chief executive Paul Kelly confirmed could bring a record crowd to the venue. Glory achieved a record attendance for a regular season match against South Melbourne in 1998 when 18,067 fans turned out in the then National Soccer League. "We'll break all records in relation to Perth Glory ticket sales," Kelly said. "Pre-sale activity is five times what we normally have and that's indicative of the support we have around this town for football." Kelly said around 65% of Glory's crowd traditionally bought tickets on game day and about 14,500 had already been sold.
Team captain Jacob Burns was delighted with the prospect of kicking off the season in front of a full house. "We've heard that there's going to be a fantastic crowd, a sell out crowd and maybe break some records and we're looking forward to that," Burns said. "That's what we as players look forward to. Coming to a good atmosphere and our home support can lift us and give us that result, and that's what we need. You are not going to win the title in the first game. It is a long hard road but it is a good positive sign if you can get a good home win." Perth Glory and North Queensland Fury go head-to-head from 8.00pm tomorrow evening at Perth Oval.
WE CAN BEAT SORRENTO SAYS BALCATTA’S CLISBY
The time has come for Balcatta to stand up and be counted. Facing the very real danger of going straight back to Division One, Balcatta's home fixture with Sorrento on Saturday is a must-win affair for midfielder Jack Clisby. "It's an absolute massive game on the weekend," said Clisby. "Sorrento has been in pretty decent form as of late and will be out to get us. We've been working hard this week at training and really need to take that on the pitch. We must be focused and have our heads screwed on coming into the game and I believe we will get the reward."
A former National Training Centre and Perth SC player, Clisby was disappointed with his teams' performance last weekend against Western Knights. "It was a very disappointing result for our club at the Knights, the way we played we deserved to get beat 4-0," he stated. "It was more disappointing seeing we played very well as a team the previous week (a 2-1 win against Cockburn City), we must pick our heads up for this weeks game against the Gulls."
Clisby struggles to put his finger on exactly why Balcatta has tumbled down the table. "I'm not exactly sure how we were on fire at the beginning of the season and are now struggling to put wins together," said 18-year old Clisby. "I guess we don't seem to be playing the kind of football that we were at the beginning, we're still creating plenty of chances but can't seem to finish them off. It's also the first time members of the team have played in the Premier League, and we've had injuries in the squad, which has made it hard to have a consistent line-up."
Moving to Balcatta from Perth on the eve of the home and away season has provided Clisby with exactly the football experience he was seeking from 2010. "It was a tough decision to leave Dorrien Gardens as it's such a great club to be a part of. But I just wasn't getting a chance to start, and I needed game time and I chose to move to Balcatta," Clisby said. "I've thoroughly enjoyed myself this season, being a member of the squad and playing the majority of the games ... I'm really happy at the club."
Clisby attended trials at Scottish club Ayr United last year and intends to head back overseas for a second chance to kick-start his professional career. "It was more of a holiday as I went to see family, but it was a good chance to get some trials while I was over there," he said. "The trials went well but it was the wrong time to head over the club said. I would have liked a few more trials with other clubs, but it wasn't to be this time round. As for the future, I will be heading back and hopefully gain a contract."
ROBINSON STARTS THE FINALS COUNTDOWN
Armadale's push for a maiden State League finals berth is alive and well. State striker James Robinson's double in last week's 3-2 win over ECU Joondalup closest the gaps on fifth-placed Sorrento to just three points. "It was a good win for us last week because we were level with them (Joondalup) on points. Now we have opened up a gap on the teams below us," commented Robinson. "The first half we were excellent, then we made hard work of it in the second half. But at the end of the day we got the three points which is all that matters at this stage of the season."
Robinson, the league's top scorer with 17 goals, has formed a solid understanding in the final third with new arrival Matt Barlow, who has himself chipped in 4 goals. "Matt has played a big part in turning our season around," explained Robinson. "He's a clever player with great movement plus he's a handful in the air. We formed a good understanding straight away and since he's joined it's definitely helped us produce more in the final third."
As far as Robinson is concerned, playing for former Perth Glory attacker Brad Hassell is an absolute joy. "Brad's a fantastic coach, I've never enjoyed my football more than with Armadale and he's probably the main reason," enthused Robinson. "It's great to play for someone who doesn't fuss over things that don't matter. It gives you a license to play your game. He's doing a great job at Army."
Robinson's goal scoring touch was recently rewarded with a place in the State side which played Perth Glory. "I was honoured to be picked for WA and it was great for Armadale to have two players involved (goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock being the other). It shows that we must have some quality," he said. "I was disappointed I didn't start though; I've been in good form - scoring a lot of goals - so I was surprised I only got 20 minutes. I was pleased for Cyril though, he was outstanding."
Sharrock will be the one notable absence from Armadale's line-up when they travel to Inglewood United this weekend. "That is a problem for us, Cyril is the best 'keeper in the league. But he also has the biggest mouth, he's picked up a few yellows along the way and we'll certainly miss his presence," said Robinson, who'll chalk up his 50th appearance on Saturday. "It will be a tough game. They beat us earlier in the season so we want to make amends this time round. It's nice to be going there in the hunt for the finals instead of relegation like we were this time last year."
GLORY STAY AT HOME
Perth Glory will call Perth Oval (aka nib Stadium) home for the next three years after signing a new agreement with Allia Investments. The venue’s chief executive Peter Bauchop is excited about the coming summer in which Glory are being tipped as the A-League’s team to watch. “The talent on the team this season is sure to make for very exciting football and we acknowledge Tony Sage and his team in their efforts in building the game,” said Bauchop. Glory chief executive Paul Kelly is delighted the club will remain at Perth Oval, where they’ve been based since entering the national competition in 1996.
UNITED WE STAND SAYS SWANS’ CRAIG
Embattled coach Jamie Goodman will play a major role in Swan United’s fight to avoid relegation according to defensive midfielder Brendan Craig. Signed at the start of 2009 from Inglewood United, Craig readily admits the season hasn’t gone according to plan but in the finals weeks of the campaign everyone will be standing shoulder to shoulder. “There’s a great group mentality at Swan and the boys will break their backs for each other, including Jamie. The respect he holds amongst the playing group brings confidence in his tactical moves on the park and a confidence that we can win any game,” said Craig.
Craig, 20, considers last weeks dramatic draw with is former club more a case of two points lost than one gained. “It was a hard fought comeback that the lads and I thought we really should have won,” he said of the 3-3 draw. “Had we been fully switched on for 90 minutes there’s no doubt the three points would have been ours. In saying that though the lads battled hard and to comeback from 3-1 down against a quality Inglewood side is a good result. I just hope lack of concentration doesn’t cost us any more points before the season’s end.”
Tom Shepheard has been hitting his straps of late in the final third of the park and looms as a key player in Swan’s plan of remaining in the top flight for an eleventh successive year. “Tommy’s a quality player with tremendous ability,” commented Craig. “Had he not been struggling with injuries and form at the start of the season I don’t think United would be so close to the bottom of the table. Tommy keeping his form at this time of the season is no doubt crucial to our survival.”
Injuries to Rory Mouttet and Michael Van Dongen may have left the Swan defence a little on for experience but Craig is adamant they have the depth to cover. “The inclusion of skipper Brendan Knox from injury has somewhat eased the pain of losing Michael, and given Trent Wood the opportunity to use his pace up front,” he said. “Stewart Long has now been given the opportunity to show his skills at right back in place of Rory, and he has the ability and heart to trouble opposition players.”
Craig is also been struck down by injury but the tenacious defender isn’t going to let that stop him from helping Swan away from the drop zone. “I’ve done ligament damage to my ankle; it’s still very tender though some good tight strapping from the physio has enabled me to continue playing. I did it against Bunbury Forum Force in the Cup. I’ve been resting it most Tuesdays and for a month now and it now seems to coming along quite nicely,” Craig said ahead of Saturday’s game at Mandurah City. “We all know the importance of this game - a win will almost see us safe and if we stick to our game plan we’re confident of getting the three points.”
BALCATTA TO GO DOWN
The Premier League's newest member, Balcatta, are being touted as the team most likely to finish season 2010 at the bottom of the table. That was the outcome of this week's footballwa.net poll which asked 'Who will be relegated from the Premier League at seasons' end?'. Balcatta collected 30% of the vote to finish just a handful above Swan United (28%) and Cockburn City (26%), the latter currently slumped in last place. Expected to pull themselves out of the relegation mix are Inglewood United (13%) and Mandurah City (3%). 223 votes were cast in the nine day polling period.
GLORY SWEAT ON RELEASES (courtesy the 'West Australian')
Perth Glory are sweating on receiving international clearance for new signings Josh Mitchell and Michael Baird in time for the new season kick-off. Delays in Romania have raised the prospect of the duo missing Glory's highly-anticipated clash with North Queensland Fury at nib Stadium (formerly Members Equity Stadium) on Friday. The pair left Universitatea Craiova last season after the club delayed wage payments - and Glory coach Dave Mitchell was quick to pounce. But hopes that their Romanian hassles were over have been dashed by the administrative hold-up.
A-League chief Lyall Gorman confirmed FIFA had requested documentation from Craiova but he had no way of knowing how quickly the matter would be resolved. "We've got one of our officers working on it on a daily basis," Gorman told Jonathon Cook of the 'West Australian' newspaper. "It's very frustrating all round. FIFA have sent a request for certain information from the Romanian federation. Every possible step has been made by the club, the FFA and now FIFA is in that process as well. It's just a matter of time." Central Coast Mariners are in the same predicament as they wait for Joshua Rose's international transfer clearance, also from Craiova.
NORMANTON TO STEP DOWN
The most successful coach in State League history, Perth SC’s Graham Normanton, has announced he’s stepping down at the end of the season. Normanton, who had guided Perth to no less than twenty-one trophies since being appointed coach in mid-1999, says the time has come for football to take a back seat in his life. “It wasn’t an easy decision, I’ve been associated with Perth for a long time over two periods and wasn’t something that I took lightly,” commented Normanton. “A lot of stuff has gone on in my life over the last two years and I really need to take some time out.”
Normanton says coaching in the State League has become equivalent to a second full-time job. “A lot of people don’t understand much time coaching a football club takes up,” he said. “It’s not just Tuesday and Thursday and your weekend. You’ve got to set out training programs, sessions and venues, you’ve got to watch opposition, put teams together, talk to players. And it’s not just March to September - one of the busiest times is October to February when all the players you want to bring to your club are coming out of contract. So it’s almost a full-time occupation and it’s getting more and more that way as time goes on.”
Having played professionally for English side Hartlepool United, Normanton relocated to Perth in 1983 to commence what would be a successful career, both as player and coach. A gritty, no-nonsense defender, he turned out on the local stage for Azzurri, North Perth Croatia, Kingsway Olympic and Bayswater City, along the way gaining 13 appearances for the State. Normanton turned his hand to coaching with Perth and in his first full season led them to Grand Final victory. In total he has brought four Premier League titles, eight Night Series crowns, six play-off titles, two Association Cups and the Centenary Cup back to Dorrien Gardens.
WEST AUSSIE TRIO CALLED UP FOR AUSTRALIA
Richard Garcia, Nikita Rukavytsya and Shane Lowry have been named in a twenty-player Socceroos squad for next week's friendly with Slovenia. Acting Australia coach Han Berger selected Garcia and Rukavytsya on the back of their contributions at the recently World Cup in South Africa, while 21-year old year Lowry is in line for his Socceroos debut. The game on Wednesday 11 August is the first at Slovenia’s new national stadium, Sportni Park Stozice in Ljubljana.
The Australia to play Slovenia is Jon McKain (Al Nassr), James Holland, Brett Holman (AZ Alkmaar), Shane Lowry (Aston Villa), Nathan Burns (AEK Athens), Luke Wilkshire (Dinamo Moscow), Tim Cahill (Everton), Mark Schwarzer (Fulham), Lucas Neill (Galatasaray), Bruce Djite, Mile Jedinak (Genclerbirlgi), Nikita Rukavytsya (Hertha Berlin), Richard Garcia (Hull City), Mark Milligan (JEF United), Dario Vidosic (Nurnberg), Adam Federici (Reading), Carl Valeri (Sassuolo), Jade North (Tromso IL), David Carney (FC Twente) and Thomas Oar (Utrecht).
FINALS LOSS WILL SPUR GLORY ON
Perth Glory owner Tony Sage says the bitter sting of last season’s penalty shoot-out loss to Wellington Phoenix will serve as additional motivation for the team as it sets sail towards a first A-League championship. Sage, who has demanded a finals place as an absolute minimum this season, sensed the players were still smarting from that elimination final loss and were determined to kick off the new campaign in positive fashion. “The players were extremely disappointed. They got that taste for finals football and that defeat really galvanised the team,” commented Sage.
Glory have retained the majority of last seasons squad while bringing in some quality recruits led by one-time Liverpool and England striker Robbie Fowler, a signing Sage says isn’t without its risks. “I’ve invested in Robbie now knowing if he’ll last the season,” added Sage, who says Glory have experienced a 25% increase in memberships since signing Fowler. “The only risk with Robbie is that he gets injured. But he’s already had a huge influence in the dressing room with the players and you can’t put a value on that experience, knowledge and inspiration.”
The club’s other significant off-season signings have been Michael Baird and Josh Mitchell, who arrive fresh from playing in Romania for Universitatea Craiova. Former Motherwell midfielder Steve McGarry has already formed a good understanding with captain Jacob Burns and should offset the departure of Wayne Srhoj for Melbourne Heart. The absence of defender Chris Coyne, who’ll miss the early part of the season after agreeing a loan extension with Chinese club Liaoning Hongyun, has been compounded by injury to veteran Andy Todd.
BAYSWATER TO HOST CUP FINAL
Frank Drago Reserve, home of Division One club Bayswater City, has been chosen to host the upcoming State League Cup Final between Floreat Athena and Stirling Lions. Football West received expressions of interest from a number of neutral clubs and, while several met the required criteria, the final decision was made following extensive negotiations with the Bayswater Council on a number of commercial and promotional commitments.
Football West chief executive Peter Hugg is happy with the decision to award the Cup Final to a Division One club. “It was decided to go with Frank Drago Reserve as it recognises a venue that does not normally receive major matches,” said Hugg, who dismissed concerns the venue doesn’t meet the criteria. “The facility has undergone some significant renovations and the car park has been redeveloped to cope with increased patronage.”
The State League Cup Finals will be played on Sunday 22 August with fierce rivals Floreat Athena and Stirling Lions locking horns in the headline match. These two sides met in a dress rehearsal for the Cup decider on the weekend with over 2,000 fans packing into Macedonia Park for the tight 1-1 draw. The Reserve Cup Final pits Armadale against ECU Joondalup, while in the Youth competition Cockburn City takes on Perth SC.
PERTH DUDDED ON STADIUM FRONT
The lack of a world-class football venue has cost Western Australia any chance of hosting part of the lucrative 2015 Asian Cup. Football Federation Australia submitted their bid to host the tournament late last week, however, Perth won't be considered for any of the games because it doesn't have a suitable venue, or plans to build one. With Australia the only bidding nation, the thirty-two games tournament will be played in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory during January 2015.
An FFA spokesman confirmed discussions had been held with the Barnett Government a year ago about Perth staging some of the games. "WA could have been involved in this enormous tournament," the spokesman said. "FFA was concerned that WA could not meet the criteria that was needed for this tournament on certain levels. The future of Subiaco Oval is unknown and there were concerns it could have been under construction in 2015 and nib stadium was deemed to be too small. And in January the WACA is used for cricket."
Hosting the Asian Cup will provide Australia an opportunity to showcase itself to the world according to FFA chairman Frank Lowy. "Australia has a long history of hosting fantastic sporting events and the benefits for Australia to host an event of this kind will not only leave a strong legacy for football, but also cement Australia's place in the Asian economic community," he said. "More that 655 million viewers tuned into the 2007 Asian Cup and 748 million viewed the 2004 edition in China."
PETKOVIC DETERMINED TO BE AN A-LEAGUE SUCCESS
Michael Petkovic was a stalwart of the National Soccer League, has replaced a player a decade his junior and is delighted to have returned home with his family after eight years abroad. But the 34-year old Melbourne Victory goalkeeper Michael Petkovic insists he isn't treating his time in the A-League as a pension plan. "I didn't come here just to make up the numbers," he said. "Far from that. I could have played overseas for longer and finished my career there. But I wanted to come home and show that I'm still good enough to play at this level and to win things, not just for myself but for Melbourne."
It was in the NSL where Petkovic established himself as one of the nations premier shot-stoppers, wining three Goalkeeper of the Year awards during six seasons with South Melbourne. Back home after eight years in Turkey with Trabzonspor and Sivasspor, Petkovic admits Melbourne desire for success led him to the club. "Just the success, the club's always been up there," he said. "It's a club that's always wanting to win championship. Obviously last year (the defeat to Sydney FC in the Grand Final) was disappointing, but they had a great (season). I want to win something and this club was always going to give me a chance to do that."
The arrival of Petkovic and back-up Sebastian Mattei, to replace Mitch Langerak (Borussia Dortmund) and Glen Moss (Gold Coast United), are the major changes to Melbourne's new-season squad. Replacing the scoring power of Archie Thompson (injured) is the other obvious challenge facing the club, but Petkovic is confident they have the depth and quality. "I can't see why we can't be up there again and go that one step further and win," he said. "We lost by penalties (in the Grand Final) and penalties can go either way. I don't want to put too much pressure on us or myself, but I wouldn't be here if I didn't think we were going to be up there vying for the championship."
A-LEAGUE IS UNDERESTIMATED: FOWLER
New Perth Glory marquee player Robbie Fowler believes the quality of the A-League is underestimated, saying the competition is going from strength to strength. Fowler, a Liverpool legend and former England international, admits to being impressed by the Australian top flight since moving from England to join North Queensland Fury last year. “Some people underestimate the quality of the A-League even though it says a lot about the strength of the competition when you’ve got players like Andy Todd, Jacob Burns and Mile Sterjovski moving from Europe to play here,” Fowler wrote in his column for the ‘West Australian’ newspaper. “I’m sure that influx of quality will continue over the years and the league will get stronger every season.”
It was the quality of A-League and its teams that convinced Fowler to stay in Australia after splitting with North Queensland. “I know some people might still think I’ve come over for a final payday or a bit of a kick-around before I retire. But that’s a million miles off the mark,” said Fowler, 35, who retains the same passion he had for the game as a junior. “When I run out on the pitch for Perth Glory for the first time I will have the same intention and the same desire that I had all those years ago and in every game I’ve played since then. Obviously I’m not the player I was but what I’ve lost in speed I’ve gained in experience.”
Fowler is determined to come through with the goods for Glory but admits there’s plenty of work ahead. “I still go into every match wanting to win and I’ll do everything I can to help Perth Glory push for the A-League title this season,” Fowler wrote. “The fans are desperate for success and people have asked me if we can win the competition this year. I don’t have a crystal ball but you don’t have to be able to see into the future to know it’s going to be a very, very tough competition. On paper, we’ve got a great chance, but there’s a lot of hard work to be done before we can start talking about silverware.”
CUP FINAL DRESS REHEARSAL DOESN'T DISAPPOINT (with Chris Correia, Football West)
Over 2,000 fans packed into Macedonia Park for the derby clash between Stirling Lions and Floreat Athena which finished in a tight 1-1 draw. Bobby Wilson opened the scoring just before half-time only to have Mo Atak equalise with less than half an hour remaining on the clock. Both teams had late chances to pull off a huge victory but in the end a draw was a fair result given the evenness off the contest.
It only took 30 seconds for Stirling to register a chance on goal with an unmarked Phil Arnold steering his header just high following Paul Dickson's inch-perfect delivery from the right. Floreat responded with long-range efforts from Miki Vujacic and Jason Barrera, the latter forcing a backtracking James Turvill to palm onto the roof of the net.
End-to-end football kept the huge crowd entertained throughout and Johny Mirco had a great chance to grab the opener but headed straight at Turvill, who was tested again by another long-range attempt by Vujacic. The teams looked set to enter the break scoreless when Scott Muirhead’s precision cross from the right handed on the head of Wilson, who had no trouble beat Alex Dunn to make it one-nil to Stirling after 42 minutes.
Floreat clearly wanted to be back on level terms as soon as possible and would have been had Michael Pugliese not been positioned to clear Branimir Mikulic’s goal bound header off the line. Mirco was next to go close but his header from an Atak cross smacked into the upright. Parity was eventually restored on 65 minutes when Daniel Niederberger surged down the left and delivered a cross that somehow found its way to Atak who, unmarked and in front of an open goal, wasn’t going to miss.
A touch of controversy entered the game after Muirhead went down inside the 18-yard box, leading referee Paul Anderson to book the Stirling player for diving. Both teams gave it their all in the closing stages, a cracking long-range strike by Ludovic Boi was just over the target before Atak’s deflected shot bounced narrowly wide. Shane Robinson could have stolen all three points for Stirling in stoppage time but Dunn brilliantly saved his goal bound strike.
BABALJ WINS YOUNG SOCCEROOS YOUTH CHAMPIONSHIP
Australia won their second AFF Under-19 Youth Championship title in three years by defeating defending champions Thailand 1-0 in Friday's final. Eli Babalj, who turned out for Perth SC as a junior, came off the bench to secure the trophy with an opportunistic finish nine minutes from full-time. It was a just reward for the Young Socceroos at the end of a gruelling schedule that saw them play four games in seven days in the heat and humidity of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Mark Birighitti kept goal in three of those games, Ryan Edwards also featured in three game with Babalj playing twice.
The Young Socceroos made an excellent start to their campaign by seeing off Korea Republic 1-0 on Saturday. Korea adapted quicker to the wet and slippery conditions but with Mark Birighitti in commanding form their early attacks were swiftly nullified. The momentum slowly swung to Australia and just after the half hour Dimitrios Petratos' shot into the net via the post. It looked as though Korea had snuck a late equaliser but Birighitti's fingertip save kept Choi Sung Guen's stinging shot from 30-metres out of the top corner. Birighitti played a full game, Edwards came on after 75 minutes with Babalj an unused substitute.
Honours were even on Monday as Australia and Thailand played out a 1-1 draw in hot and humid conditions. Thailand went a goal down after 3 minutes when Mathew Leckie's pinpoint cross found an unmarked Brendan Hamill, who slotted neatly into the corner. Australia's dominance was deserving of at least one more goal, however, wayward passing in the final half hour let Thailand back in. The teams were level again in the 71st minute after Pattana Sokjoho round Sam Gallagher before slotting underneath the advancing 'keeper. Birighitti played a full game, while Babalj and Edwards were unused substitutes.
The Young Socceroos booked a title deciding date with Thailand following a convincing 4-1 win over the previously unbeaten Vietnam. Mustafa Amini half-volleyed the opening goal in after a minute, Leckie extended the lead on 14 minutes by heading in a Gallagher corner, and Halloran's classy finish made it three-nil at the break. Vietnam pulled a goal back through Nguyen Van Thanh in the 56th minute, however, Australia restored their three-goal cushion when Edwards' inch-perfect cross was powered in off the head of Babalj. Edwards came off the bench at half time, Babalj did likewise after 60 minutes while Birighitti was an unused substitute.
Australia was lifted the trophy by defeating Thailand 1-0 in a thrilling tournament finale. Thailand set out to frustrate their opponent by stacking the midfield and playing on the counterattack. Matthew Fletcher was instrumental as Australia began to create chances but neither Leckie nor Amini were able to convert, while at the other end Pattana Sokjoho placed narrowly wide. The momentum swung to Australia as the game neared an end and with nine minutes to go Babalj was on hand to poke into the net after Wasan Narsuan failed to hold Ben Halloran's cross. Birighitti played a full game, Babalj entered the game on the hour with Edwards joining him 85 minutes.
GLORY CAPTAIN PRAISES RISDON
Young gun Josh Risdon has been singled out by Perth Glory captain Jacob Burns as a future star. Risdon, 18, has been one of several youth team players that have impressed throughout the pre-season. "(Risdon is) someone that I didn't know much about last season," said Burns. "To come in and just look so comfortable like has done in all the pre-season games, I'm really looking forward to him getting a start and getting a gig and showing everyone what he's capable of." Risdon played juniors with South West Phoenix before moving to the metropolitan area where he's worn ECU Joondalup and National Training Centre colours.
TRIM'S DOUBLE SENDS KNIGHTS BACK TO THE TOP
Western Knights reclaimed poll position on the Premier League table following today's resounding 4-0 win against Balcatta at Nash Field. Daniel Trim led the way a double that came either side of goals from Simon Versaico and David Micevski to put the Knights back on top of the table and break the clubs three game winless run. "It's good to get a win, we were close at Mandurah but couldn't convert, so it nice to score a few goals and get the win," saud Knights coach Paul Price, who was pleased with the contribution of new Irish import Jack Doyle. "He's been training with us for a month and has been great. It was his first game for about eight weeks, and did well today. He could be a good assist for us in the run in (to the finals)."
A bright start by Balcatta saw them go close to taking an early lead, Ashley Rosindale's corner was headed against the post by Lucas Whitehouse and Mark Walsh put the rebound high. This scare served to shake any complacency out of the home team and Stuart Montgomery was unfortunate not to find th enet on 13 minutes when his close-range attempt from a David Micevski cross was superbly blocked by Bobson Koroma. After this is a one-way traffic as the Knights pressed for the opening goal with Versacio and Stuart Ferguson each heading wide of the mark from Daniel Micevski's delivery.
The Knights were well on top and in the 36th minute David Price's shot from the edge of the 18-yard box was tipped over by the alert Koroma. Daniel Micevski played the resulting corner to the top of the 6-yard box from where Versaico's powerful header flashed into the net. The Knights weren't content to take a single goal lead into the break and moments before the interval doubled their lead. Versacio this time started the move by picking out Doyle, who made his way inside the penalty area before unselfishly squaring for Trim to fired in from 6-metres.
The second half opened with Balcatta in an attacking frame of mind, Jack Clisby putting the ball with Rosindale but having gone back Ferguson the striker was denied a shot by Price's last gap tackle. Six minutes later Trim effectively sealed a home victory by converting at close-range after Price surged out of midfield and cross to the far post. Balcatta worked hard to find a way back into the game and on the hour Geneveo Human fired narrowly wide from 15-metres. An error by Duncan Hind a few minutes later presented an opportunity for Rosindale but his lob from 22-metres cleared 'keeper and bar.
A tidy flick by Montgomery hit the base of the post as the Knights continued the search for further goals. That desire was answered on 69 minutes when Doyle found David Micevski, who rounded the last defender before finishing clinically past Koroma to make it four-nil. Balcatta, to their credit, refused to give up hope and on 83 minutes Adam Tong played in Rosindale but he blazed over from 9-metres. Two minutes Knights custodian Fraser Siddall was called into action by pushing Tong's flick on over the bar following a long throw by Corey Wiltshire. The games final action had Matt Italiano narrowly wide from 11-metres.
SECOND-HALF BLITZ GETS PERTH HOME (with David Cameron, Football West)
Perth SC moved to within touching distance of top spot by defeating Mandurah City 3-0 at Dorrien Gardens. Dom De Felice scoring twice and Andreas Oliveira once as Perth found their rhythm after the break, casting aside a disjointed opening 45 minutes. "We had to restructure the midfield at half time, we were sitting too deep," coach Graham Normanton said. "Getting those players forward helped us to break them down and we were rewarded on the scoreboard. It's important we maintain our form at this stage of the season to help get us back up there and fighting for the trophy."
The opening half was a dour affair with neither team able to maintain possession in the final third of the park. Mandurah coach Stuart Young would have been pleased his troops were able to match Perth's intensity, and keep the likes of Oliveira and De Felice at bay. Surprisingly the best chance of the period came Mandurah's way shortly before the break, Robbie Hamm's surging run down the right saw him picking out Chris Pashkewitz but his header was brilliantly kept out of the net by young goalkeeper Devon Spence.
Perth seized control of the game by piling on a couple of quick second half goals. The scoring was opened on 49 minutes when Hayden Doyle's searching ball in from the left evaded the entire Mandurah defence before dropping into the path of De Felice, who had no trouble ramming in from close-range. Mandurah's troubles were compounded just three minutes later when more sloppy defending at a cross from the left allowed the ball to rest at the feet of Oliveira, who was presented with the simple task of easing it into the far corner of the net.
Perth continued to press for a third goal and had a host of good chance's, including a stunning Antonio Naglieri free-kick from just outside the 18-yard box that smashed into the upright. Their persistence was rewarded in the 85th minute when Ian McMurray received the ball from midfield before slotting across to an unmarked De Felice who fired past Phil Straker for the second time. Perth's return to form could not have come at a better time as they look to maintain the pressure on the two sides above on them on the Premier League table, Stirling Lions and Western Knights.
COCKBURN GET THAT SINKING FEELING
Cockburn City is on the brink of relegation after suffering a 3-1 loss to Sorrento at Dalmatinac Park. The result leaves Cockburn anchored to the bottom of the Premier League ladder, three points below their nearest rival with just four games remaining. Sorrento midfielder Jason Mirco said his side showed strong resolve to stifle Cockburn’s second half comeback. “I think our hard running was the key to the victory,” said Sorrento midfielder Jason Mirco. “We knew they were going to come out strong after the break but we didn't panic and really stuck to our plan, so it was a courageous victory.”
First real chance of the afternoon should have produced a Sorrento goal but an unmarked Todd Harnwell struck straight at goalkeeper Dejan Aleksic after 11 minutes. It mattered little as just a minute later Jared Love was on hand to poke the ball in after Aleksic could only parry James Morgan’s low thunderbolt. Sorrento went close to extending their lead in the 19th minute when Love’s diving header beat Aleksic only to hit the post and rebounded to safety. Rory Feely should have returned the equalising goal but ‘keeper Curtis Aspden turned away his low shot on the counter attack.
Cockburn’s fight for Premier League survival was made all the more difficult when influential midfielder Adrian Webster succumbed to a groin injury and was forced from the field with just 35 minutes gone. Despite this loss, the visiting side fashioned another opening with Jason Dos Santos going clear only to also be denied by Aspden. Harnwell finished the half just as he started it, the Gulls captain miss-hitting a golden opportunity after Adam Hayton nodded down a stoppage time cross from the left by Joe Lamplough
Cockburn played a more enterprising brand of football after the break with Jason Dos Santos holding sway over midfield. Their rewarded came five minutes in when a ball in from the right somehow evaded the Gulls defence before being met by Shane Nunes who, totally unmarked, fired in at the far post. Eight minutes later Feely teed-up Dos Santos who should have done better than shoot well wide. A ball over the top by Mirco allowed Love to execute a delightful shot that curled just above the junction of bar and post. Cockburn responded within minutes with Shintaro Ito’s low drive scooped up by Aspden.
The game was turned on its head in the 75th minute by Aleksic’s errant goal kick which saw Hayton play in Harnwell who did well to hold off a defender before firing the home side in front. Glen Thomas rubbed salt into the wound two minutes later with a scintillating left-foot strike from outside the 18-yard box which crashed into the back of the net. The final margin could have been much greater had Mirco been able to make more of a couple of late chances, both of which were blocked by Aleksic. Sorrento remains fifth on the table, three points above Armadale but only one behind Floreat Athena.
BOLAND GRABS SWAN A SHARE (with Tim Lefort, Football West)
Liam Boland came off the bench to score a dramatic equaliser as Swan United ground out a 3-3 draw with fellow strugglers Inglewood United at the Swan Italian Club. It was looking as though Inglewood had the game in the bag when Sandi Loncar added to Daniel Stoitis' double to make it three-one just before the hour. However, Tom Shepheard breathed new life into the game by scoring his second ten minutes later with Boland coolly ramming in the in the second to last minute of regulation time.
Although happy with the point gained, Swan coach Jamie Goodman lamented his teams' defensive lapses. "We've got to stop conceding those goals, scoring three at home and not winning is not good enough for us. But full credit to the boys, they worked their balls off and at the end of the day got at least what they deserved," he said. "The first half was a battle, a lot of it was played down the middle and it was cramped. We tried to get a bit more width in the second half and we played a lot better and knocked the ball around a bit."
With Swan and Inglewood level on points and just above the relegation zone at kick-off, a good start was crucial. And it took Inglewood just 4 minutes to find the net when a seemingly innocuous near post corner fell to Stoitis whose first time volley somehow found its way through a cluster of players. Stoitis almost added another on 14 minutes but his scrambled effort from another corner was this time kept out. Brendan Knox looped a header just high from 10-metres after Inglewood goalkeeper Oliver Taseski failed to deal with a long free-kick due to Shepheard's presence. But otherwise the opening period was largely forgettable.
The second half was given a crackerjack start with David Perich's measured cross headed powerfully past Taseski by Shepheard. Swan could have had the lead but Shepheard slid the ball wide with only Taseski to beat before a goal line clearance denied James Sammut. These misses were punished on 57 minutes when Stoitis scrambled over the line a low Alex Stamatiadis cross that had skidded across the top of the 6-yard box. Inglewood strengthened their hold two minutes later when Corey Hugo sliced a regulation clearance straight to Adrian Caceres, who coolly rolled the ball across for Loncar to tap into an empty net.
Inglewood appeared to be in control until on 70 minutes when Shepheard steered his header into the net after Taseski parried a Sammut shot from 14-metres. The impressive Sammut was again involved eleven minutes later, setting up substitute Christian Lopez but his drive was blocked by Taseski. Rory Grant stooped to head narrowly wide at the other end when it might have been easier to use his foot. It would prove a costly miss as, with a minute remaining, Boland kept his composure to stroke a loose ball past Taseski. Swan might have taken all three points had Lopez not blazed high from 14-metres in stoppage time.
RODGERS KEEPS BUNBURY ON COURSE (courtesy Bunbury Forum Force)
David Rodgers guided Bunbury Forum Force to victory over Morley Windmills by scoring all the goals in today's 4-0 home win. The points gained keep Bunbury level on points with Bayswater City, who eeked out a 3-2 win over Dianella White Eagles, at the top of the Division One table. Morley was given a taste of things to come straight from the kick-off with Patrick Quinn's chip over goalkeeper Matt Darling narrowly missing the target. Bunbury's thirst for goals was temporarily quenched on 16 minutes with Rodgers converting a penalty awarded for handball. Rodgers second arrived twelve minutes later by slamming in a low, hard cross from Quinn after he combined with Neil Chappell.
The second half commenced with Bunbury gaining five corners in succession but the closest they came to scoring was Jordan Rispon's towering header that flashed just over the crossbar. Morley were gifted a way back in on 72 minutes when awarded a penalty, however, goalkeeper Ryan Montgomery guessed right to deflect it away. This reignited the home side and two minutes later a foul on Lee Stewart resulted in a spot kick at the opposite end which Rodgers calmly slotted beyond the diving 'keeper. Kieran Kavanagh fired wide and Rodgers high as Bunbury upped the tempo entering the final ten minutes. The scoring was completed in the 87th minute, Rodgers tucking the ball in after rounding Darling.
DIANELLA GIVE BAYSWATER AN ALMIGHTY SCARE
Bayswater City survived a late comeback to get the better of Dianella White Eagles 3-2 at Frank Drago Reserve. After a scrappy opening, it was Bayswater that got into rhythm first and on 7 minutes found the back of the net via Alex Caniglia, who raced onto a defence splitting pass and zeroed in to calmly slot past goalkeeper Steve Grant in a one-on-one. An elegant display one-touch football from Gustavo Marulanda, Anthony McStea and Damien Catalano allowed the home side to maintain control throughout the half and continually test the Dianella backline. With 28 minutes on the clock a quick interchange of passes between that trio led McStea to finish high into the net to make it two-nil.
The opening spell after the break followed much the same script and in the 51st minute a tidy one-two between McStea and Catalano put the former in the clear to tuck into the net. Bayswater had plenty of chances to finish the game off but Rodrigo Aguirre and Marulanda hit the woodwork while McStea’s close-range effort was blocked. Dianella’s day looked to have taken a turn for the worst when Callum Roberts was issued a straight red card for placing his hand on the referee’s arm after his penalty appeal was turned down. However, a swift counter attack was finished by substitute Rafa Bundu to reduce the deficit, and two minutes later Damian Kalamaras rammed in the ball in at close-range. But it was too little too late as Bayswater locked the game down to ensure victory.
LATE SHOW PUTS CANNING OVER THE LINE
Canning City came from behind to defeat bottom-of-the-table Queens Park 3-1 at Coker Park. Late goals by Jack Richardson and Dane Navarro earned the win which puts Canning back into contention for a final placing in the top half of the Division One table. "It was a good win, although the game wasn't the best we came away with what we wanted three points," said Canning's assistant coach Tom Kilkelly. "It was a good finish for young Navarro, he only came on with ten minutes left in only his second game for the club."
The game was only 6 minutes old when Queens Park took a surprise lead, Mitch Conte cutting in from the right to fire past Stewart Delgarno from the edge of the 18-yard box. Goalkeeper Brad Eiffe denied Canning a 19th minute equaliser by keeping out Daniel Trevisiol's spot kick. But there'd be no such luck for Eiffe two minutes when Jay Bonser blasted into the roof of the net at close-range after reacting quickly at a corner. Both teams had their chances to go ahead but had to settle to enter the break with no further addition to the score.
Second half play ebbed and flowed from one end to the other as the sides traded attacks. Queens Park went close to regaining the lead on 64 minutes through substitute Matt Ullbricht's 19-metre shot that crashed into the crossbar. Canning were celebrating a minute later as Jack Richardson picked the ball up on the edge of the area and gave Eiffe no chance by shooting into the top corner. The points were made safe in stoppage time by Navarro, who pressured a defender into coughing up the ball before running through to stroke past the advancing 'keeper.
LADY LUCK SMILES ON ROCKINGHAM (with Adam Stewart)
Rockingham City secured another season of State League football by inflicting a 1-0 loss on Ashfield under lights at Lark Hill Sportsplex. A quick paced opening had Rockingham on top and Jal Tuany leading their quest for goals. Ashfield slowly began to get more involved and in the space of a few minutes Mitch Castrilli hit the post and Scott McIlroy skimmed the crossbar. So it was somewhat against the run of play that Matt Leckenby sent a powerful, low free-kick around the defensive wall and into Matt Battigelli's net. The visitors went within inches of equalising before the referee signalled half-time with Paul Dundo's header cleared off the line and a scrambled attempt by Leo Harman blocked.
With nothing to lose, Ashfield came out for the second half full of running to put the home defence under some intense pressure. As shots rained down Rockingham goalkeeper Craig Oljenik proved himself worthy to the challenge with a trio of top quality saves to keep his side in front, and leave McIlory, Harman and Mitch Castrilli frustrated. Ashfield should have equalised shortly before the final whistle when Joe Woodin was presented with what looked a simple tap-in, however, his shot from 5-metres somehow cleared the bar. Rockingham coach Steve Robinson was pleased with the win, however, expressed concern with the method with which it was achieved.
PREMIER LEAGUE IN PREVIEW
Premier League survival is the name of the game when Swan United and Inglewood United meet in tomorrow's six-pointer at the Swan Italian Club. Swan pulled themselves out of the relegation spot by defeating ECU Joondalup last time out, however, they're yet to take full points at home this season and will be missing experienced defender Michael Van Dongen with an ankle ligament injury. Inglewood coaching Shane Pryce is hopeful of having club stalwarts Michael Baczynski and Danny Kovacevic available as they attempt to extend an unbeaten run at Swan which stems back close to a decade.
Cockburn City, who have been cut two points adrift in last spot, welcome Sorrento to Dalmatinac Park. Cockerels coach Tony Castiello has his fingers crossed Shane Nunes and Adrian Webster pull up well from their mid-week outing for the State. Things don't get any easier for Balcatta who, having tumbled down to the wrong end of the table, are away to Western Knights. Balcatta striker Geneveo Human has played himself back into first team reckoning, however, Salv Todaro's squad has been wracked by illness this week with Adam Tong, Mark Walsh, Matt Italiano and Lucas Whitehouse all missing sessions.
Suspension will prevent veteran defender Andy Bowyer playing any part in Armadale's home game against ECU Joondalup. Dan Allen and Charlie Comyn-Platt have given their all on the training track to show they're worthy of a Joondalup recall as coach Steve Amphlett considers who'll come in to replace Chris Wylie. Perth SC can narrow the gap on top spot by claiming victory against Mandurah City at Dorrien Gardens. If Antonio Naglieri and Robbie Puca are allowed to assert any kind of influence in the middle of the park then its going to be a very long afternoon for the likes of Ryan Townsend and Ivan Zuvela.
The Sunday game brings together Stirling Lions and Floreat Athena in a preview of the State League Cup final at Macedonia Park. Home coach Paul Lincoln must be tempted to overlook the return of Shane Robinson and Michael Pugliesi and stick with the same eleven which so comprehensively demolished Swan in last weekend's Cup round of four. Ante Kovacevic finds himself in a similar position with John Migas and Paul Vatistas back from holiday and illness, respectively, having missed their six-goal semi-final win over Armadale. All six games across the weekend, be they on Saturday or Sunday, start at 3.00pm.
DIVISION ONE IN PREVIEW
Promotion chasing Bayswater City faces a stern home test against Dianella White Eagles in the footballwa.net Division One match of the week. Bayswater, who share top spot with Bunbury Forum Force and Wanneroo City, boast the competition's best home record and with Gustavo Marulunda, Anthony McStea and Okwy Diamondstar firing on all cylinders they enter the afternoon tipped for victory. However, Paul Hickey, Renato Jelen and Tom Straker will be pulling out all the stops as Dianella attempt to unsettle the hosts and stretch their unbeaten run to four games.
Bunbury Forum Force has lost two of their last three home games but it's unlikely the trend will continue when Morley Windmills visit Hay Park. The odds are firmly stacked against a home win for Fremantle Spirit against Wanneroo City, who have collected maximum points from their last nine games. The local derby at Hartfield Park between Forrestfield United and Gosnells City promises to be a cracker with both eyeing a top-four finish to the season. State League survival is on the line for Queens Park who are home for the second week in a row, this time to Canning City. The five afternoon games start at 3.00pm.
The twilight fixture between Rockingham City and Ashfield at Lark Hill Sportsplex (5.00pm) holds plenty of interest. It's been a winter both clubs would rather forget - albeit for very different reasons - and this meeting provides each an opportunity to right some wrongs. Tenth-placed Rockingham is wanting to bring some semblance of respectability to a home record that's seen them win once and score only five times in eight games. Ashfield, who sit one place below Rockingham, are looking to finish the year with a winning run after moving a little further clear of the drop zone with last week's win against Fremantle.
TRANSITION YEAR FOR SCHOOLBOYS
It's a young State Schoolboys squad which departs this weekend for the 2010 School Sport Australia National Championships in Melbourne. New coach Tony Campbell expects the tournament will provide his players, the majority of who are aged 17 or younger, a very steep learning curve. "We've got quite a young squad and it's got a much different make up from last year ... it looks like it will be one of those transition years," said Campbell. "Looking at experience and physical factors – which will play a big part as most of the opposition will be 18 or 19 – I expect it will be much tougher than last year."
Campbell has been delighted with how the Schoolboys have come on in leaps and bound, both on and off the field of play, since selecting his initial training squad a few months back. "We have some talented footballers in the group which is starting to gel together, on and off the pitch," said the coach. "Although we may struggle to get in the medals this year I would be confident that, if most played on in 2011, we would win a medal because there is a good deal of potential in the squad."
Although reluctant to single out individuals, Campbell was coaxed into naming four 'players to watch'. "Vice-captain Nick Maplestone is a superb striker who will do well in Victoria, he could really dominate if given the good service," commented Campbell. "Others who have performed well in the lead up games are Gershom Rowland, a fast and strong striker, Jamie Street, who had the experience in the tournament last year, and captain Jarrod Belford, who always leads by example."
Campbell believes his young squad are capable of coming home from Melbourne with a medal. "Last year we expected a medal and were very unlucky not to get silver," said Campbell, who was an interested spectator when WA defeated South Australia to finish with a bronze medal last year. "If we can match that achievement and take bronze it will be excellent result. But knowing the lads, when they put the black and gold shirt on they will give me 100% and you never know what will happen."
The 2010 West Australian Schoolboys squad consists of John Ah Quah, Jarrod Belford, Neal Beveridge, Muslum Bozkurt, Brandon Del Fabbro, Jake Luik, Nicholas Maplestone, Daniel Muzzarelli, Matthew Ng, Gershom Rowland, James Rowlands, Danile Snelling, Maxwell Snelson, Jason Stanley, Jamie Street and Oscar Thompson.
GAVIN AT HOME IN THE DEN
Stirling Lions signing of defender Jason Gavin has to be the recruitment coups of 2010. Gavin brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to his new club having played professionally for the last fifteen years in England and Ireland. “I’ve enjoyed my years in the game and have some great memories,” Gavin said, who moved to Perth in search of a fresh start. “My partner Leanne is from Australia and when the opportunity came up to play in WA with the Lions I jumped at the chance, and I’m really enjoying it.”
Stirling cast aside a slow start to the season by charging to the top of the Premier League and qualifying for State League Cup Final. “The season is going really well - you real can’t argue that fact - as we are sitting on top of the league and in the Cup final,” said 30-year oldGavin. “We are working hard on the track and our team spirit is great at the moment. We are defending well as a team, not the back four as the whole team are playing their part, Linc’s (coach Paul Lincoln) has us working hard for each other and that shows on the pitch.”
Born in Dublin, Gavin played 40 games for English Premier League club Middlesbrough who he joined initially as an apprentice. In 1998 he collected a European Under-18 Championships winner medal with the Republic Of Ireland, and the following year turned out at the FIFA World Youth Championship. Spells with Hartlepool United, Grimsby Town, Huddersfield Town and Bradford City enhanced his reputation before moving to Shamrock Rovers at the start of the 2005. This was followed by a three and a half year stay with Drogheda United and time at St Patrick’s Athletic.
Lincoln has absolutely no doubt that Gavin, who starred for the State team in last nights friendly with Perth Glory, should be playing at a level above the State League. “Jason is a talented player. He is very good on the ball, he is calm and composed, his strength is his ability to read the game,” said the Stirling coach. “Jason is a true professional and works extremely hard on his fitness and well being. His presence has given our younger players are understanding of what it takes to play at a high level. He has been outstanding for our club.”
Stirling are involved in this weekend’s Sunday fixture when they host Floreat Athena in a preview of the next months Cup Final. With Stirling sitting on top of the table but just out of reach of Floreat, who occupy fourth place, this is a must-win game for both clubs. “We’re five points clear of Athena so a win would move us that bit further away from them,” said Gavin. “On the other hand if they win that gap will be gone, so it’s a huge game for both clubs.” Stirling and Floreat lock horns from 3.00pm on Sunday at Macedonia Park.
BURNS WANTS A-LEAGUE TITLE
Perth Glory captain Jacob Burns says the team should focus on delivering an A-League title this season instead of just reaching the finals. Burns broke from a familiar theme during the club's season launch at Burswood today when he said the team's aim should be more ambitious than a top-six finish. "I just think you've got to set your targets as high as possible and we've definitely got a team that can win it," Burns said. "People say it's about getting in the finals or the top four. Well, let's just say we're out to win the thing. If we don't get there, we are going to be thereabouts. That's how I feel."
Burns, who played in England, Romania and Poland before joining Glory last season, believes his club are heading in the right direction by following the blueprint of traditional A-League heavyweights Melbourne Victory. "They've done well because they've kept the core of the team, they've kept those players together for more than one season," Burns said. "They haven't turned over players and hoped for the best. They've kept some young guys in, kept the older experienced pros as well and they've played two or three seasons together. That really shows. They are a very well-organised outfit and that's what we are trying to build here."
STRAKER RUES A LACK OF CONSISTENCY
Dianella White Eagles will look back on 2010 and wonder what might have been according to defender Tom Straker. The Division One club had set themselves the pre-season goal of a top four finish, however, with six games to go that is looking extremely unlikely due to Dianella’s hot and cold nature. “There’s been a lot of inconsistency in our performances this year,” said Straker. “One week we’ll be outstanding, the next we’ll step off the gas and let our standards slip. I think that’s why it’s been a slightly frustrating season for the club and the boys, because we know what a good team we are and where we should be/could have been.”
Dianella’s first win in a month arrived last weekend when they dismissed Rockingham City, the three-nil score line not being a true reflection of the game for Straker. “I don’t think anyone at Rockingham will scold me for saying it should have been about 6-0,” he said. “We played very well and opened up Rockingham on several occasions, a little wayward finishing and a few brilliant saves meant it was only 3-0 but I’d still take that score any day. We were much more compact than in recent weeks and the quality lasted for 90 minutes.”
The rocky month Dianella experienced included a home loss to Wanneroo City before settling for a point from each Morley Windmills and Fremantle Spirit. “As a collective we’re confident and we always feel like we’ll be there or thereabouts and as a whole we haven’t played badly,” said Straker. “Simple mistakes have cost us over the last couple of weeks, lapses can often lead to a goal and that’s been the case for us. It’s not something that has knocked the team though, it’s a good bunch of lads and we move on.”
Straker, a regular fixture of Marc Wingell’s first eleven, has been happy with his contributions this season. “As a player you know when you come off the park if you’ve made a difference, one way or the other. I’m happy to say that I haven’t had too many bad feelings this season at the end of the games, I’ve given everything I’ve got and I hope that shows each week,” he said. “Its hard to reflect on your own form without sounding like a twat but at Dianella if you are not playing as expected, one of the crazy gang will come and let you know.”
There’s very little between Division One’s top three - Bunbury Forum Force, Bayswater City and Wanneroo - for Straker. “Bunbury have a good balance of grit, style and experience, they’ve had a core group together for a while and a couple of very good imports have given them that bit extra,” he said. “Bayswater are a very good footballing side and are blessed with more than just a couple of match winners, which is a pain in the arse when you’re trying to figure out who to focus on! Wanneroo are deservedly in the thick of things, they’re a very direct team which makes the most of their chances and are fit and organised.”
But when asked which of those three will win promotion, Straker hesitated before answering. “Its too hard for me to say because its so open right now,” he said. “I’m not a betting man but if I had to put something down I’d say Bunbury will finish on top. They are a strong team right the way through the side and consistently find the net. Having that core group of players being there or thereabouts for so long I think they may just want it a little bit more. If anyone drops points then its over so I’m looking forward to seeing how it pans out.”
Dianella have a big part to play in deciding the league champions with up-coming games against Bayswater, to where they venture on Saturday, and Bunbury. “We’re one of those teams that have the potential throw a real spanner in the works as far as the title is concerned” said Straker. “Bayswater move the ball quickly and have pace all around their team. It’s hard to keep shape and stay organised when you’re playing against pace and precision but we’re up for the game. I think the fans who come along are going to be treated to an exciting, action packed end-to-end game of football.”
FINALS STILL IN ARMADALES’ SIGHTS: BARLOW
Armadale can make the end of season play-offs according to striker Matt Barlow. There have been many highs and lows in the Reds season and Barlow, who joined the club in May, wants to experience a few more of the former before the season is out. "It's definitely been an eventful season. We seem to be inconsistent at the moment, something we are trying to improve on," said Barlow. "We've had a good run in the Cup, getting to the semi-final but played poorly and were beaten by a good Floreat outfit. That saying, we firmly believe we're in with a great chance of finishing in the top five - that's our aim come the end of the season."
Barlow, who revealed his goal scoring credentials with a hat-trick against Sorrento in Round Sixteen, was tempted to dip his toe in the State League after talking with ex-Mandurah City midfielder Nicky Platt. "It's something that I had been interested in doing for a while, I'd had a few mates who came over here and they really enjoyed it," he said. "Nicky Platt put me in contact with Steve Robinson, who was the assistant Coach of Armadale at the time (and) within two weeks everything was booked. I came out as soon as my season at Stalybridge Celtic had finished. All the lads (at Armadale) have been fantastic, helping me settle in and helping me out anyway they can."
One aspect of the Armadale club that has made a lasting impression on Barlow is coach Brad Hassell. "Boozer is passionate about winning and he transfers that mentality over to the players. He plays an open positive game that suits me down to the ground," Barlow said. "He'd never seen me play before I came out here, but he put faith in me and put me straight into the team. I'd like to think I've done okay for him, scoring a few goals and hopefully I keep that going till the end of the season."
Hassell considers Barlow the perfect accompaniment for fellow import James Robinson. "Matt's been a great signing and perfect partner for Robbo, they get on well both on and off the park," said Hassell. "He's a smart player who can score goals but can also create for others. You can see he's played at a decent level, his running off the ball and movement are outstanding. The rest of the team's made him feel welcome and he's had no trouble fitting in, he's a great lad."
Barlow began his career at the age of 10 with English club Oldham Athletic, where he moved up through the ranks to make his senior debut against Notts County as a 16-year old. Although an unfortunate run of injuries limited him to 20 appearances for Oldham, Barlow thoroughly enjoyed his time at Boundary Park. "During my time at the Latics I had a few special moments," he said. "I played against Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup at Boundary Park, Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough and in front of 30,000 fans at the KC Stadium against Hull City which was a great experience."
The next chapter in Barlow's career took him to English Conference side Stalybridge Celtic, where he was the clubs leading goal scorer twice in three injury-free seasons. Barlow had hoped to showcase his abilities in front of goal to Perth Glory coach David Mitchell earlier this month but was denied the opportunity by injury. "Missing the Glory game was a massive disappointment for me. We had played the day before and I had a bad knock on my ankle so it was wise to sit it out," he said. "Being an ambitious person, if a chance came to play in the A-League I would jump at it."
Barlow will be out to make up for that disappointment, as well as his clubs Cup exit to Floreat Athena, when they host ECU Joondalup this weekend. "It's a huge game on Saturday. After our disappointing performance last week we owe our fans, who support us in numbers each week," he said. "We have trained well all week and head into the game highly motivated. To be honest I don't know much about Joondalup but if we play to our potential we should take out the points." Armadale and Joondalup square off from 3.00pm on Saturday at Alfred Skeet Oval.
GLORY LEAVES IT LATE TO SEE OFF WA
Perth Glory scored twice in second half stoppage time to grab a 3-1 win over Western Australia in this evening's 'Call to Arms Cup' at Litis Stadium. It looked as though the State team had earned themselves a draw when Andreas Oliviera struck midway through the second half, cancelling out Mile Sterjovski's goal shortly before half-time. However, late finishes by Reece Vittiglia and Scott Neville saw Glory pick up the win in front of a bumper crowd of 3,121.
The first shot was fired in anger after 2 minutes when Adrian Webster forced a good save from Aleks Vrteski after meeting a David Micevski cross. Glory returned fire four minutes later via a quick Robbie Fowler free-kick through to Sterjovski who flashed wide. Moments later Fowler's attempted lob over Sharrock from the edge of the 18-yard box was captured by the State 'keeper. Sharrock was again called into action, saving a low low-range effort by Adriano Pellegrino as Glory began to get on top of a good paced contest.
Glory should have hit the front on the half hour when Steven McGarry played down the left to Sterjovski whose cross to far post was headed wide by Fowler at close-range. A strong run by Josh Risdon lead to him crossing for Sterjovski but his shot from 6-metres was kept out by the busy Sharrock. The State team fashioned a few good chances late in the half, the first of which was lifted high by David Micevski, who then provided the ammunition for Branimir Mikulic to head wide. It looked as though the sides were go in level when Sterjovski headed in at close-range a cross from the right by Pellegrino.
There were wholesale changes made to Glory's line-up at the break with Tando Velaphi, Michael Baird, Andrija Jukic, and Todd Howarth all entering the game. Both teams went close upon the resumption of play, Jukic's first time effort forcing a low save from Sharrock before Velaphi kept out Mikulic's shot on the run. Jason Gavin was a pillar of strength in the centre of the State defence as Glory upped the tempo. Sharrock, too, produced some heroics when he showed great instincts to twice block shots from Sterjovski in quick succession on the hour.
A great through ball from State captain Andy Brown produced the equalising goal on 73 minutes, Oliveira racing clear of a square defence to net at the second opportunity after his initial shot had been blocked by Velaphi. Either team could have snuck the lead as the clock ticked down. Howarth burst down the left before delivering the ball to Baird, whose first time shot was superbly kept out by substitute 'keeper Phil Straker. An explosive Wilson free-kick from 18-metres deflected off the defensive wall but an alert Velaphi saved down low.
The game was turned on its head by a couple of very tidy stoppage time goals. 92 minutes had gone when 18-year old Risdon capped a superb performance by feeding Vittiglia who finished clinically past Straker from 11-metres. The result was put beyond doubt sixty seconds later with Neville latching onto a pass from midfield and giving the 'keeper no chance with a spectacular drive from 16-metres that found the top corner. State defender Gavin was rewarded for a solid contribution when presented the medal as the games' best on field.
Western Australia: Cyril Sharrock (Phil Straker 69), Danny Cain (Johnny Mirco 59), Jason Gavin, Bobby Wilson, Shane Nunes, David Micevski (James Robinson 69), Antonio Naglieri (Andreas Oliveira 59), Shane Robinson, Andy Brown, Branimir Mikulic
Perth Glory: Aleks Vrteski (Tando Velaphi 46), Josh Mitchell (Brent Griffiths 69), Jamie Coyne, Jamie Harnwell (Michael Baird 46), Scott Neville, Steven McGarry, Adriano Pellegrino (Howard Fondyke 62), Naum Sekulovski (Todd Howarth 46), Josh Risdon, Robbie Fowler (Andrija Jukic 46), Mile Sterjovski (Reece Vittiglia 77)
Referee: Mathew Cheeseman
STATES BEST GOES ON SHOW
The cream of West Australian football will be on show this evening when the State team and Perth Glory go face-to-face for the ‘Call To Arms Cup’, a charity match in aid of the Cancer Council of WA. It's Glory's final hit-out before the new season commences and they understandably go into the game as red-hot favourite having recently completed a twelve-day training camp in China. By contrast, State coach Peter Murphy has had just two training sessions and one practice match to prepare for tonight's game.
Glory midfielder Todd Howarth expects a physical challenge from the State team, having experienced life on the other side of the fence. Howarth, who was on the scoreboard in the State teams 2002 3-2 loss to Glory, had been seen as a potential national league player for years before coach David Mitchell plucked him out of his bank job last season. "I was still hoping Glory would notice me," Howarth recalled of his 2002 performance as a Perth SC player. "I was still pushing for a spot."
State midfielder Antonio Naglieri played along side Howarth at Perth and enjoyed a brief spell with Glory in 2002. But limited opportunities convinced him to concentrate on work and a semi-professional career in the State League, where he has thrived with Perth. "Everyone wants to prove themselves against Perth Glory," said Naglieri, winner of the 2008 Gold Medal. "They are the top of the pile. It's not about whether you can go on (and make a career of it) but players want to prove they can match it (with Glory)."
TODD INJURY PUTS GLORY IN A SPIN (courtesy the ‘West Australian’)
David Mitchell's plans for the new season have had a setback with confirmation defender Andy Todd has been ruled out of the A-League opener at home to North Queensland Fury on Friday week. The English import's knee injury means Mitchell will be forced to send out a remodelled central defence, with Todd's centre-half partner from last season, Chris Coyne, to miss a substantial part of the season because he is on loan to Chinese club Liaoning. "It's a massive blow to have two of your central defenders from last year not going to be there for the first game of the season," Mitchell said. "We don't know how long Andy will be out. It could be two or three games but it's definitely the first game."
HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY: MULDOON
Teenage referee Stuart Muldoon will set up to the national league this summer after being selected to officiate in the National Youth League. Muldoon, 18, turned his hand to refereeing in 2006 and says he's looking forward to running the line in the NYL. "I've always liked soccer and I really enjoy being a linesman," said Muldoon, son of former national league official Steve Muldoon. "Not everyone agrees with the decisions you make, but you've just got to be on the ball and be honest. Hopefully I can end up being an A-League referee. The ultimate goal would be to officiate at a World Cup." Muldoon's promotion to the national league is a reward for his excellent State League form.
TURVILL MAKES THE GRADE
James Turvill’s graduation to State League football is the latest in a long line of success stories from Macedonia Park. The 19-year old goalkeeper has made the most of his opportunities since breaking into Stirling Lions’ first team at the start of June following injury to regular Kevin Miller. “I felt I was going well in the reserves and when Kevin got injured I took me opportunity earlier than I thought, but I’m really enjoying my football at the moment and we’re playing well,” Turvill said.
Turvill was playing amateurs with Heathridge when the need for a new challenge led him to Stirling last year. “I made the decision to step up from amateur football last season. I was looking for a club where I could get good coaching and gain experience in the reserves and have the opportunity to step up to the first team,” explained Turvill, who made his debut in the Night Series. “I was shocked when Kevin was injured and then coach Mick Lyons picked me for the pre-season competition and the first few league games. I thought I did okay, it gave me a great deal of confidence.”
Goalkeeping runs in the Turvill bloodline with James’ father, Paul, a professional with Bournemouth. “Dad has coached my teams over my junior years and always said I could be a goalkeeper but I thought I was better in midfield,” Turvill said. “While my dad was keen for me to be a ‘keeper, he did not push me (and) once I made that decision he has been really supportive. Getting the correct technique coaching has fast tracked my development big time and given me the believe that, if I keep working hard, I can progress to another level and gain a professional contract.”
Stirling coach Paul Lincoln sees a big future ahead of Turvill, who was outstanding in the clubs recent draw at Sorrento. “James has performed well since taking over for Kevin Miller,” said Lincoln. “He made some outstanding saves against Sorrento last week, he is still learning his trade and for me I think he has a bright future. His father, Paul, who is the clubs goalkeeper coach, is a great mentor and I can only see James improving if he is prepared to do the hard work which is required to play at the next level.”
With six game to play Stirling are top of the Premier League table, thanks largely to Lincoln who took over as coach in April. “He’s been able to gel the players as a group, while getting the best out of individuals,” said Turvill. “After the change of coach and the new players that have come into the side, it took us a while to get used to each other, however, we have developed into a well balanced team. We’ve been playing a good brand of football, but with all teams beating each other I think it (the league) will go down to the wire.”
CACERES OUT OF STATE TEAM
Inglewood United attacker Adrian Caceres is a late withdrawal from tomorrow nights friendly between Western Australia and Perth Glory. Despite Caceres’ withdrawal, State coach remains up-beat following last nights training sessions at Macedonia Park where the focus was on set pieces. “It was purely organisational and hopefully they understood it,” Murphy said. “Obviously we haven’t had a lot of time together with two training sessions and a match against the Glory Youth. Now we are focused on tomorrow night and the boys will give it their all, hopefully in front of a big crowd at Litis Stadium.”
ASPDEN SETTLES INTO THE NEST
Former Hull City player Curtis Aspden is enjoying his stint between the posts for Sorrento. Aspden, recruited in June from English non-League side Northwich Victoria, has received a warm welcome at Percy Doyle Reserve where came in to replace Tom Woodhead when he opted to return to England. “The club have been great to me and made me feel really welcome,” said Apsden, 22. “I’m living with club secretary Kerry Slater, which I’m real grateful for, and he has really helped me settle in really easily since I arrived.”
Aspden spent several years at Hull where, having completed an apprenticeship, he signed professional papers in 2006. It was through the friendships he developed while at KC Stadium that the opportunity to player for Sorrento came about. “I was at Hull City for four years and an old coach that I’ve kept in contact with rang me and said that Trevor Morgan was looking for a goalkeeper in Perth, and obviously I was never going to turn the opportunity down,” he explained
There have been many ups and downs in Aspden’s professional career. “I was signed by Hull City as an apprentice and then signed a two-year professional contract. After that I was sold to Farsley Celtic where I spent eighteen months before moving to Northwich Victoria,” he explained. “My highlight would be beating Charlton Athletic in the first round of the FA Cup in 2009, for Northwich, which was screened live on TV and made the club a lot of money, the Victoria Stadium was packed.”
CHANGES FORCED ON STATE COACH
Coach Peter Murphy has been forced to make two changes to the Western Australia squad that tackles Perth Glory on Wednesday night. Bobby Wilson and Paul Natale have been brought into the team as replacements for Marc Anthony and Ryan Townsend, who withdrew due to injury and work commitments, respectively. “Paul Natale was brought in as a straight swap for Ryan Townsend who has unfortunately pulled out of the squad,” said Murohy. “Bobby (Wilson) has come in for Marc Anthony, not necessarily in for his position, but Bobby can play anywhere he is quite a flexible player. I don’t think (the changes) will impact on our performance but it will change us tactically how we go about things.”
AUSTRALIA CLEARED ON BID ALLEGATION
Football Federation Australia has been absolved by FIFA over the bidding process for the 2022 World Cup. 'The Age' newspaper last month alleged FFA had broken ethics rules by offering illegal gifts and inducements to members of FIFA's executive committee. The FFA denied these claims of wrongdoing, saying it had not misled anyone in government or engaged in any gift-giving outside FIFA rules. "We have been cleared by the Federal Government, independent auditors and now by FIFA," said FFA chief executive Ben Buckley. The FFA has taken out a defamation action against 'the Age' in the New South Wales Supreme Court over the recent stories.
FLOREAT HIT ARMADALE FOR SIX (by Chris Correia, Football West)
Floreat Athena's State League Cup defence remains on course following this afternoon's 6-0 demolition of Armadale at Litis Stadium. A blistering first-half performance from Ante Kovacevic's team saw them enter the break with a five-goal buffer to shatter Armadale's hopes of reaching their first ever Cup Final. Daniel Niederberger admirably led the way for Floreat with a double, while State team duo Branimir Mikulic and Johny Mirco chimed in with singles along with Jovo Pavlovic and Mo Atak.
Mikulic got the ball rolling in just the 4th minute, tapping into an empty net after getting on the end of a great cross from Niederberger on the left. Armadale immediately tried to respond through James Robinson, who was denied by goalkeeper Alex Dunn. Atak then brought the game to life with a long-range effort that curled low into the bottom corner despite Cyril Sharrock getting a hand on it with 15 minutes gone. Pavlovic was next on the scoresheet, his unmarked header from a corner skimming the underside of the crossbar before hitting the back of the net.
Floreat were now cruising and Mikulic's audacious volley on the turn found Sharrock alert to the danger. Sharrock then undid his good work with an embarrassing blunder when he failed to make contact with an attempted clearance, the ball rolling past the 'keeper and thankfully the wrong side of the post. Floreat continued to press and were rewarded on 42 minutes when Niederberger put away goal number four. There was still more to come from the home side and when Armadale hesitancy to clear from inside the 18-yard box allowed Mirco to slot the loose ball past Sharrock.
Armadale did all they could to prevent further embarrassment after the break, however, they were fortunate not to concede again to Mirco shortly after the restart. The match then turned ugly with Dunn's attempt to punch clear a dangerous ball resulting in the 'keeper collect Tom Robinson in the face. Play was held up for several minutes while the dazed and bloodied Reds striker received treatment, meanwhile James Robinson confronted a number of Floreat players as the game threatened to boil over. Commonsense prevailed and when play recommenced both teams had their allotted eleven players on the park.
But that would last only until the 71st minute when Andy Bowyer was given his marching orders by referee Mathew Cheeseman after receiving two yellow cards in three minutes. Cheeseman didn't hesitate to send off the Armadale veteran for his poor tackle on Atak after he was through on goal. Floreat needed just two more minutes to take full advantage of the situation with Niederberger nailing a left-foot volley at the near post to take his teams tally to six goals for the afternoon. The big win puts Floreat into the final of the State league Cup where they'll meet fierce rivals Stirling Lions.
Armadale: Cyril Sharrock, Matt Barlow, James Robinson, Tom Robinson (Ale Paredes 60), Steve McDonald, Matt Bennion, Lewis Flatt, Marlon Ramirez, Ben Kelly, Andy Bowyer, John Watson (Jason Goodwin 80)
Floreat Athena: Alex Dunn, Jarrad Smith, Julian Madaschi, Miki Vujacic, Daniel Niederberger, Jason Barrera (Curtis Prior 72), Johny Mirco (Adam Bachiller 63), Branimir Mikulic, Mo Atak, Jovo Pavlovic, Ante Kovacevic (Matthew Spurling 74)
Bookings: Bowyer (68)
Dismissals: Bowyer (71)
Referee: Mathew Cheeseman
BREAKFAST WITH THE CUP FINALISTS
It is every footballer’s dream to score a Cup Final winner, however, despite netting twice in the 1966 FA Cup Final, Everton’s Mike Trebilcock never lived that dream. Trebilcock, whose double was instrumental in Everton coming from behind to win the 1966 FA Cup against Sheffield Wednesday, is the guest speaker at this year’s State League Cup Final Breakfast. Organised by Ashley Morrison Media in collaboration with Football West, the Cup Final Breakfast has grown each year since its re-introduction in 2008. This year’s event will be held at the Botanical Room at the Intercontinental Burswood from 8.00am on Saturday 21 August. Tickets are $55 and bookings are essential - please contact Ashley Morrison at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your seat.
WEST TV TO BROADCAST 'CALL TO ARMS' CUP
Football West have confirmed Wednesday's 'Call To Arms Cup' match between Western Australia and Perth Glory will be broadcast on West TV (Channel 44). Perth's new community channel will air a 30-minute highlights package of the match on Thursday 29 July at 9.00pm, with a repeat airing on Sunday 1 August at 5.30pm. "As all our fans know, it is near impossible to get our matches on local commercial TV, but in dipping our toe in the water with the community station, it is now up to everyone to support this broadcast," said Football West chief executive Peter Hugg.
RAMPANT STIRLING MAUL SWAN
Stirling Lions booked their place in the 2010 State League Cup final by thrashing Swan United 4-0 in today's semi-final at Macedonia Park. The game was pretty much over by half-time as an own goal by Swan goalkeeper Cory Hugo was followed by finishes from Tom Ingram, Mario Marcinko and Scott Muirhead to sent the home side into the break four-goals the better. "We started a little bit slow today, but once we got the first goal we got the momentum and won the game pretty comfortably," Stirling coach Paul Lincoln said. "I was a bit disappointed in Swan today, but I think they've got their minds on other things in the league at the moment."
The early signs from Swan were all positive, James Sammut picking out Brendan Knox but his goal bound shot was blocked by Jason Gavin. The visitors suffered a massive blow moments later when key defender Michael Van Dongen limped out of the game with an ankle injury. Slowly but surely Stirling began to get on top and Ludovic Boi should have done better than head straight at Hugo from close-range when found unmarked by a superb Dickson cross. The game was very much in the balance as Ingram curling just past the post from 16-metres, then a few minutes later David McNally headed just high from a Sammut corner.
Controversy erupted in the 24th minute when Hugo claimed a Muirhead cross only to lose his balance and push the ball away as he fell towards the goal line. However, assistant referee assistant Joe Fusari was well positioned and signalled that the ball had crossed over to put Stirling one-nil up. One became two three minutes later when Ingram outpaced Morgan Dendle before firing past Hugo from 8-metres. Stirling's third arrived on 31 minutes, this time it was Marcinko who got past McNally before lobbing Hugo. Three minutes from the break Muirhead curled a delightful free-kick around the defensive wall to increase the difference to four goals.
Any hopes Swan had to fighting their way back into the game was snuffed out ten minutes after the break when James Turvill guessed correctly to keep out a Trent Wood penalty, awarded for the 'keeper's foul on Tom Shepheard. The visitors had Hugo to thank that they weren't five goals down when he kept out Ingram's low strike after being played in by substitute Ndumba Makeche. To their credit, Swan pressed on and in the 65th minute Christian Lopez found Liam Boland whose first time shot whistled just wide. But it was Stirling that had more left in the tank as Phil Arnold headed high from a Muirhead corner while Boi, Arnold and Makeche each called Hugo into action.
A clearly disappointed Jamie Goodman rued his teams inability to make the most of their early chances. "We had a couple of chances in the first ten minutes, but didn't take them," said the Swan coach, who was far from convinced Stirling's opening goal had crossed the line. "I'd like to see the replay on the first goal, which turned the game, it looked like Cory had cleared the ball. But after that we lacked a bit of tempo and composure and we got what we deserved today." Swan focus now returns to league football and their hopes to scrambling away from the relegation zone.
Stirling Lions: James Turvill, Scott Muirhead, Jason Gavin, Paul Dickson (Dennis Galan 74), Tom Ingram (Adriano D'Adamo), Bobby Wilson, Mario Marcinko (Ndumba Makeche 58), Ludovic Boi, Stef Frost, Phil Arnold, Matt Stares
Swan United: Cory Hugo, Trent Wood, Michael Van Dongen (Chris Marshall 7), David Perich, James Sammut, Brendan Knox, David Mcnally, Darragh Kinnevey (Christian Lopez 61), Thomas Shepheard (Liam Boland 61), Morgan Dendle, Robert Monterosso
Bookings: Monterosso (73)
Referee: Steven Gregory
BUNBURY HIT DOUBLE FIGURES (courtesy Bunbury Forum Force)
Bunbury Forum Force returned to the winners’ circle with an 11-1 demolition of Queens Park at Coker Park. The game was only 3 minutes old when Patrick Quinn’s far post corner was nodded back across the face of goal for Rory Binnie to drill into the net. And seven minutes later Jayden Prosser’s dangerous delivering was turned into the net by a defender. Queens Park grabbed a goal of their own on 25 minutes through Henry Chikombe’s long-range effort that caught goalkeeper Ryan Montgomery unawares.
Queens Park may have harboured hopes of getting back on level terms before the break, however, Bunbury were in no mood to concede a second time. With 35 minutes on the clock Prosser picked out an unmarked David Rodgers, who failed to capitalise, and Binnie’s follow-up was saved brilliantly by Brad Eiffe. Half-time was on the horizon when Bunbury got their third goal, Quinn tucking the ball in from close-range after Binnie’s effort had come back off the post.
The second half had been underway five minutes when Seb Bell’s insightful ball found an unmarked Quinn, who controlled before lashing in goal number four. Quinn turned provider with a sublime through ball that Binnie slotted past Eiffe, then Prosser grabbed his second after being set-up by Rodgers. Bunbury pilled on five goals in the final twenty minutes, starting with Lee Stewart who’d come off the bench just ten minutes early. Quinn struck sweetly on the end of a flowing move that involved Prosser, Rodgers and Binnie, with Stewart in the right place at the right time to bag the final three goals.
LATE STRIKES GET BAYSWATER OVER THE LINE
Goals in the last few minutes from Okwy Diamondstar and Guillermo Andres enabled Bayswater City to register a 4-2 win over Gosnells City at Walter Padbury Reserve. Bayswater, joint Division One leaders, opened brightly and within 6 minutes had the lead when free-kick on the edge of the 18-yard box was swung past the defensive wall and into the net by Gustavo Marulunda. Gosnells hit back just a minutes later with Darren Francis heading in at the back post to restore parity. The remainder of the opening half was a tight arm wrestle in which neither team was able to gain the upper hand.
Bayswater regained the lead again on 65 minutes in controversial circumstances, Marulunda appearing to control a cross with his arm before shooting low and wide of the goalkeeper. Gosnells continued to take the game to their visitors and in the 81st minute Ciaran Allen’s pin-point cross from the right was send into the net by Andy Pomfret at the back post. The flowed from one end to the other until, with six minutes to go, Diamondstar put Bayswater back in front. With Gosnells pushing men forward in search of an equaliser, they were caught out by a long ball which Andres capitalised on.
CONTROVERSY AS WANNEROO SNEAK HOME
Brian Cairney struck a late penalty to steal Wanneroo City a 3-2 win from a seesawing contest with Morley Windmills at Kingsway Sporting Complex. Morley came out firing and were unfortunte not to take an early lead through Eddie Walsh, whose fierce strike from the top of the 18-yard box flashed past the goalkeeper only to crash into the woodwork. A thrilling end-to-end game saw chances come and go for both teams, keeping the small but loyal crowd on egde. It would be Wanneroo that went into the break with the lead, Craig Bowman rising high at the back post to head in from a corner.
Wanneroo put their second on the board ten minutes after the turnaround, Jonathan McGahern side-footing under the 'keeper from 10-metres after being allowed to run the ball out of midfield. It took only a few minutes for Morley to hit back with Ibnen Charming getting his angles right to beat a diving 'keeper and find the bottom corner. With the wind in their sails, Morley drew level when Tony Griffiths sent the 'keeper the wrong way from the spot after being felled by a tackle from behind.
Play was frenetic entering the final ten minutes, both teams pressing forward in search of a deciding goal while quickly getting numbers behind the ball when not in possession. Wanneroo displayed the greater urgency and that pressure took its toll in the 83rd minute when the ball bounced up to hit Aidan Murray on the hand. Referee Ton Klaver waited not a moment before pointing to the spot from where Cairney beat the 'keeper to keep Wanneroo on level pegging with Bunbury Forum Force and Bayswater City at the top of the Division One table.
THREE OFF AS FORRESTFIELD AND CANNING SPLIT THE POINTS (by Phil Unsworth, Canning City)
Canning City scored late to earn a 2-2 draw with Forrestfield United in an eventful game at Burrendah Reserve. Referee Steve Knight had his hands full keeping a lid on a full-blooded contest, issuing six yellow cards and sending off three players. Canning fired the first shot in anger with new recruit Wes Ryder stretching goalkeeper Chris McCrone. Solomon Onjuku had more luck in the 16th minute when, having worked his way inside the 18-yard box, the attacker's low drive deflected into the net off a defender. This jolted Forrestfield into action seven minutes later Craig Anderson netted at close-range after Stuart Delgarno parried an initial shot by Jamie Burns.
Martin Barnes became the first played sent off when he received his second yellow card early in what was to be a hard-fought second half. Forrestfield responded by taking a 60th minutes lead, Jonathan Cole floating a terrific cross to the far post where Burns' powerful header gave Delgarno no time to react. Canning went down to ten men with Simon El Chami dismissed for simulation, and the game hard bearly restarted when Forrestfield's Andy Harold was sent off for his elbow on Steven Murgia. The visitors focus was on defending their lead, however, with four minutes to go Murgia controlled a free-kick before rifling into the roof of the net from 22-metres.
COMFORTABLE WIN FOR DIANELLA
Milan Bogunovic scored twice to guide Dianella White Eagles to a 3-0 win over visiting Rockingham City. The best of the early chances came the way of Eddie Fitzgibbon but he fired straight at Steve Grant from 7-metres. The scoring was opened in the 20th minute by an absolute gem of a goal from Bogunovic, whose shot from the corner of the 18-yard box flew across goalkeeper Craig Olejnik and into the far top corner. Petar Mrdja twice found a way past the 'keeper but on both occasions the ball was prevented from entering the net by goal line clearances as Dianella pilled on the pressure.
The second half continued in much the same fashion with Paul Hickey and Tommy Straker featuring prominently in Dianella's quest for further goals. On another day Renato Jelen could have had a bagful of goals while Mrdja could only watch as his free-kick came back off the post. Rockingham was by no means out of the running with Kris Hansen's attempt from 18-metres bringing a fine save from Grant at the near post. Bogunovic rammed in his second goal from 5-metres after a 66th minute cross deflected into his path. Jelen was reward for his hard day at the office by stroking past the 'keeper from close-range in the first minute of stoppage time.
ASHFIELD EASE RELEGATION FEARS
Ashfield took a giant step towards securing their State league survival with today's 2-0 home win over Fremantle Spirit. It was the port side that started the better, quickly taking control of midfield and putting the Ashfield defence under some sustained pressure. There was unlucky not to go ahead on the quarter hour when Lance Louvie slammed a 25-metre shot against crossbar after driving out of midfield. As the half progressed Ashfield grew in confidence and began to fashion some opportunities, all of which went unconverted due to poor finishing.
When the game resumed it was Ashfield who were on the attack and on 57 minutes an in-swinging Mitch Castrili corner deflected off a defender and into the net. The game now opened up with Ashfield pushing for a second goal and Fremantle toiling away to get back on level terms. A tidy Ashfield counterattack put the result beyond doubt in the 80th minute, Scott McIlroy latching onto a ball over the defence and squaring for John Monterosso to apply a clinical finish. The win - Ashfield's first in six games - puts them four points above last-placed Queens Park with six games remaining.
BAIRD FIRES PERTH TO GLORY
Two goals in the final five minutes by new signing Michael Baird helped Perth Glory beat Adelaide United 3-1 in last night's pre-season friendly at Hindmarsh Stadium. Serbian striker Branko Jelic got on the score sheet in the first half before Sergi van Dijk scored a stunning equaliser midway through the second half. Glory coach David Mitchell refused to take too much from the result even though it was achieved without Robbie Fowler, Andy Todd, Victor Sikora and Steven McGarry. "We're not getting carried away with the result," Mitchell said after the game. "It's good both strikers scored, they worked hard. There was a lot of pleasing things about the performance but also a few things we're not pleased with so we've still got some work to do."
Glory dominated much of the first half with former Adelaide player Adriano Pellegrino outstanding in the middle of the park. The visitors positive approach paid dividends in the 17th minute when Daniel Mullen was caught in possession by Baird, who cut inside before centring for Jelic to coolly slot past on-trial goalkeeper Takumi Takahashi from 6-metres. Van Dijk squandered a golden opportunity to equalise eight minutes later when his miss-cued volleyed was tipped over by Tando Velaphi for the Glory custodian's only piece of first half action.
The introduction of Iain Ramsay at the break added pace to Adelaide's attack, however, it wasn't until the 70th minute that they seriously threatened when the young midfielder blazed wide from a neat move involving Marcos Flores and Lucas Pantelis. Four minutes later the hosts drew level through a Van Dijk strike from 22-metres which gave Velaphi no chance. Glory regained the lead in the 85th minute when Baird latched onto a delightful through ball from substitute Josh Risdon and fired fire into the bottom corner. Baird was gifted a second goal soon after when his shot somehow slipped under the body of Takahashi.
CUP IN PREVIEW
Stepping into centre stage this weekend is the passion and drama of knock-out football in the form of the State League Cup semi-finals. Macedonia Park is the venue on Saturday for a reply of the 2006 Cup final between Stirling Lions and Swan United, who enter the round of four at opposite ends of the Premier League table. The action switches the following afternoon to Litis Stadium where Floreat Athena’s Cup defence brings them up against an Armadale side that is just 90 minutes away from a maiden Cup final appearance. Kick-off for both games is 2.30pm.
Despite the absence of Shane Robinson and Michael Pugliese due to suspension, Stirling coach Paul Lincoln is confident his team will progress. "We go in as favourites but as we all know Cup games are played on the day. I'm well aware of Swans history in the Cup so we know the game will be a real contest," said Lincoln, who collected Cup winner medals as a Swan player in each 2003 and 2004. "We are one game away from a Grand Final ... we have set some high expectations this season and one of those is winning the Cup."
Swan coach Jamie Goodman has a few unwanted selection headaches with Brendan Craig (injured), Stuart Long and Alan O'Mahoney (both Cup-tied) out while welcoming back teenage striker Liam Boland, a former Stirling player. "The boys are looking forward to the clash against Stirling and will rightly be considered underdogs," said Goodman. "We are playing a Stirling side that are top of the league, the game is now on their home ground and we're playing against a former Swan coach so there's plenty of motivation for us ... We are one win away from a cup final and we would love to get there."
State League Cup holders Floreat head into Sunday's game with the expressed aim of reversing last week's league loss to Armadale. Branimir Mikulic and Johny Mirco have been on banging in the goals seemingly at will from out wide and their ability to create as well as finish is going to be crucial to the home team. Jovo Pavlovic's return from suspension re-assembles one of the local scenes tightest defensive units which also features Julian Madaschi and veteran Ante Kovacevic.
Armadale strikers James Robinson and Matt Barlow scored one apiece last time out but coach Brad Hassell knows getting the better of Floreat again is going to be very difficult. "After beating them last week it's going to be tough to do it again," said Hassell. "It comes down to how strong players and teams are mentally prepared. Can we step up again knowing that they are going to come at us from the very first whistle? - we'll have to wait and see. We won't feel the pressure as we are the underdogs and win or lose, it has been good to get this far - a first for our great club."
DIVISION ONE IN PREVIEW
The top flight may be at recess but not so Division One where Gosnells City's home fixture with Bayswater City is the highlight. Gosnells have got their season back on track with a trio of wins, making it difficult for coach Tony Maguire to slot attacking midfielder Salvi Chavez back into the line-up for this must-win encounter. Minor injury concerns prevented Kailo Karpeh and Cisco Jorquiera joining Bayswater for training during the week, however, both players are expected to have their hands up when Mauro Marchione selects his side.
Ashfield can take a giant step towards securing their State League survival by defeating visiting Fremantle Spirit. There's been no problem in the goal scoring department for Ashfield, however, a leaky defence has them slumped just a point above the relegation zone. Fremantle's young squad have displayed tremendous potential across the winter months and head into the closing rounds of 2010 determined to climb a little higher on the ladder.
Bunbury Forum Force is expected to win for the first time in close to a month when they visit relegation candidates Queens Park. Wanneroo City's quest for a ninth successive victory has them on home soil to Morley Windmills. Forrestfield United's late season charge has them up against a Canning City side that has run hot and cold at Burrendah Reserve. Another team whose season has been ruined by inconsistency is Dianella White Eagles, who this week have home ground advantage against Rockingham City.
YOUNG BACK FROM HELL (courtesy the 'Newcastle Herald')
Neil Young is grateful to be home after undergoing his fifth, and hopefully last, operation in seven months. A stray boot from Gold Cast United striker Shane Smeltz in January sparked a nightmare chain of events that not only threatened Young's football career but his life - that much is already known. But speaking with the 'Newcastle Herald', Young has for the first time revealed the full extent of his ordeal and the highly personal cost he would not disclose until in the clear.
What was supposed to be a routine operation to repair a badly broken nose went catastrophically wrong. He suffered an adverse reaction to the antibiotics he was prescribed after surgery, which resulted in an infection in his bowel. From that point, things spiralled almost out of control. At the lowest point, his liver shut down, his body stopped producing white blood cells and his bone marrow failed to function. "I was on the way out," said Young.
Rushed to intensive care, Young's bowel was removed and a colostomy bag was attached to his intestine. He couldn't eat for four weeks and lost an incredible 25per cent of his body weight, which dropped to 68 kilograms. In his words, he looked and felt like a prisoner of war. But after five bouts of surgery, the last of which was on Tuesday, Young finally feels like he has his body back. His small intestine has been modified to allow him to function without the colostomy bag, ending 21 weeks of torture.
Released from hospital yesterday, Young was emotional as he spoke with James Gardiner. "It was such a relief," he told the 'Newcastle Herald' reporter. "I was extremely anxious before the surgery. I was all over the place. I just wanted to get it out of the way. After it, I had a bit of cry session with my wife. She took my shirt off and could see my stomach [without the colostomy bag]. Just to be able to do simply things like play with my kids. They couldn't jump on me and were always wary of hurting my stomach. Even just to be able to lay in bed on my side. It has been the longest seven months of my life."
Young returned to Jets training last month, but apart from the odd light run, was restricted to water boy duties. But now the initial battle is over, the supremely driven 30-year old is ready for stage two. "The specialist said 'you've gone through hell. If anyone can get back on their feet, it will be you'. It's not going to beat me. I want to get back playing and prove to my kids that you can come back from this sort of thing," Young said. "The doctors said there should be no dramas getting fully into it in six weeks. I'm aiming to be back training as normal and fighting for a spot by mid-September."
That fateful Gold Coast game in January was only Young's ninth game in the top grade. Having left his wife and two young sons in Perth to chase the A-League dream, he was promised nothing more than a trial with the Jets but, after two months, earned a one-year contract. Before wife Lauren and sons Owen, 4, and Mitchell, 1, joined him in April, teammate Michael Bridges and friends Andy and Sam Piggott helped Young cope with the mental and physical strain. "I sat down with Bridgey at one point and told him I'd had enough," Young said. "I was fed up with everything and didn't want to do it any more. He gave me a bit of a pep talk and lifted my spirits."
MORGAN ACCEPTS COACHING JOB IN INDIA
Indian club East Bengal has confirmed the appointment of Sorrento's championship winning coach Trevor Morgan for the 2010/11 season. Morgan, who as a player made over 400 appearances in England for the likes of Bournemouth, Bristol Rovers and Bolton Wanderers, is expected to take charge of the red-and-yellow brigade towards end of this month. "Trevor James Morgan shall join the team in last week of July after returning from Perth, Australia. He shall have an interaction with the current players and then decide on his back room staff," said East Bengal secretary Kalyan Majumdar.
While many National Football League clubs have commenced the pre-season, East Bengal opted to delay theirs until the coaching situation was finalised. "There is no hurry to start off our training. Right now we shall not have our full squad as most players are in the Indian camp at Portugal or are playing in Santosh Trophy," said Majumdar. Morgan's initial brief includes guiding East Bengal higher than the eighth place gained last season, while long-term he's out to capture the club's first National Football League title since 2003/04. In addition to his time with Sorrento, Morgan has held assistant coach at Birmingham City and Exeter City and last year was a development coach at Hull City.
REDS FOCUS ON THE POSITIVES SAYS FLATT
Armadale will be taking nothing for granted when they square off with Floreat Athena in this weekend’s semi-final round of the State League Cup. The Reds could expect an easy ride having defeated Floreat 2-0 only last weekend, however, midfielder Lewis Flatt says that result means little in the context of Sunday’s game. “We know playing Floreat is always a tough game,” said Flatt. “We have to focus on what has been successful for us in the past few weeks and not be daunted by the occasion. I’m sure there will be an electrifying atmosphere at Litis Stadium on Sunday and hopefully we can progress to the final.”
Flatt, 21, moved into his new abode of Alfred Skeet Oval last summer after coming up through the ranks at Sorrento. “Everyone at Armadale made the transition effortless and it’s been great to be a part of a well-run club with fantastic support, a club clearly on the up,” said Flatt. “I had seven great years at Sorrento and picked up two League medals along the way, so of course it was a tough decision to leave. It’s a good club with good people and I will always look back on my time at Sorrento fondly, but I felt I needed a fresh start.”
Flatt, an ever-present in the centre of the park so far this season, paid tribute to coach Brad Hassell, under who the midfielder feels his game has come on in leaps and bounds. “I’ve played under Boozer (Hassell) before with the Sorrento reserves and both sides have had a fantastic team spirit, something which I believe is hugely important and largely down to the gaffer,” said Flatt. “He was the main reason I came to Armadale. The most I’ve ever improved as a footballer was playing alongside him, so obviously I have a great deal of respect for him.”
A fair degree of Armadale’s success this year can be chalked up to their imports, players such as James and Tom Robinson as well as new arrivals John Watson and Matt Barlow. “James is a big part of our side, it’s great that he’s managed to pick up where he left off last season and bring with him another fantastic player in his brother, Tommy,” commented Flatt. “Sometimes importing players can be a bit of a gamble for a club, but luckily for us John Watson and Matt Barlow have also come across and proved to not only be quality players but also great lads.”
Although Armadale’s focus in on Sunday’s Cup semi-final at Floreat, they also have one eye firmly fixed on the league. “It’s a very tight league - we could win the Top Five finals and the Cup, or even battle relegation! We are now entering the business end of the season and we’re ready to stand up and be counted,” Flatt said. “The only thing predictable about the league this season is its unpredictability. At the moment we’re playing well and the atmosphere around the club is brilliant. But we know not to get ahead of ourselves and to take it one game at a time.”
KICK IN THE PANTS DID GOSNELLS GOOD: MCBRIDE
Gosnells City midfielder Adrian McBride says being thrashed twice in eight days had a positive effect on his team. Last months big back-to-back losses to Wanneroo City shook any complacency out of a Gosnells outfit that has been amongst the top four teams all season. “The boys have been playing very well of late,” said McBride, fresh from helping Gosnells win their third game in a row. “I think the two batterings we took at the hands of Wanneroo City a month ago gave us the kick in the pants we needed to get back on track and fighting for a top four finish.”
Gosnells are on track to make this season their most successful since the club finished top of the Division One table in 1997. “Our aim was to get into that top four,” stated McBride. “Not losing anyone from last years squad was a bonus and adding Andrew Pomfret, Tom Kennedy, my brother Dane and myself has given Gosnells a little more quality in key areas of the field that maybe we’ve been lacking in the past. It’s a really close-knit group of players at the club and we work very hard as a team, keeping it as simple as possible and not trying to do too much individually when we have the ball.”
The Division One title race is incredibly tight with Bunbury Forum Force, Bayswater City and Wanneroo City leading the way with equal points. “It’s good the league is so close this year,” commented McBride. “I’m not surprised at all that those three teams are fighting for it, Bunbury and Bayswater are the two best teams but Wanneroo are a very hard team to play against and deserve to be there as well. There isn’t much between Bunbury or Baywater in terms of quality but I think Bunbury will nip in for the title, be it by a point or two or on goal difference, and Wanneroo will finish a few points behind.”
Gosnells’ biggest test in over a month takes place on Saturday when they host Bayswater. “They’re one of the benchmark teams in the competition so it’s a big test. But it’s important for us to keep winning so we stay in touch with the top four,” said McBride, mindful that Forrestfield United are juts two points behind of Gosnells. “Bayswater have two good strikers (Gustavo Murulanda and Kailo Karpeh) who have scored a lot of goals and we’ll have our hands full keeping them quiet. But across the board they are a quality side and we will need to be on top of our game to get something out of the afternoon.”
AGE RESTRICTIONS DIVIDE THE COMMUNITY
The West Australian football community are evenly divided as to age restrictions in State League Reserve teams. The footballwa.net poll - 'What age restrictions should apply to State League Reserve competitions?' - failed to reach a clear consensus with all only a handful of votes between the three options. The most popular with 39% of the count was Reserve competitions of 'Under-23 teams with five overage players'. But that came in just ahead of 'Under-21 teams with three overage players' (34%) followed closely by 'Open age - no restrictions' (27%). 127 votes were cast in the fourteen day polling period.
FLOREAT HAVE REVENGE ON THEIR MIND
Floreat Athena attacker Johny Mirco is hoping it’ll be ‘third time lucky’ when his club hosts Armadale in Sunday’s State league Cup semi-finals. Both regular season meetings of the clubs this season have been taken out by Armadale, the most recent being 2-0 last weekend, and Mirco says the time is ripe for his teams’ fortunes to change. “The result on the weekend didn’t go our way, although we didn’t play well we still created enough chances to steal the game,” Mirco said. “They seem to have the wood over us this year, so it would be great to come out Sunday and get some revenge.”
32-year old Mirco has long been considered one of the best attacking players in the State. The reward for his sparkling 2010 form is a State team call-up for Wednesday’s friendly with Perth Glory. “It is great to be chosen to represent WA, I’m really looking forward to the game against Glory. I think this is a great honour for players, especially for me at my age,” said Mirco, whose career includes spells with Inglewood United, Fremantle City, Cockburn City and Floreat.
There have not been too many problems in the goal scoring department for Floreat with the three-pronged attack of Branimir Mikulic, Daniel Neiderberger and Mirco sharing almost forty goals. “Bran, Bergs and I have had a good understanding which has worked well for Athena, but we have many players that can damage teams,” said Mirco, whose personal contribution of fourteen goals includes a four-goal Cup haul against Gosnells City. “It would be great to see Bran win the Premier League top goal scorer this season, especially as I’ve helped him along the way.”
Although Floreat have not won a league game over a month they remain very much in the running for regular season honours, placed just five points away from top spot with five games to play. “This season has been a bit up and down (for Floreat), although the league is a lot tighter,” said Mirco. “Any team can beat anyone on their day, just look at Cockburn City down the bottom with players that can destroy any team, three of who were chosen in the State team which was great to see.”
Mirco admits he’s saddened by the plight of Cockburn, where he played eight seasons, who are currently stumping up the league table. “It is really disappointing for me to see Cockburn in the relegation zone and to change coaches, as I believe Scotty Miller is the person for the job, but sometimes things just don’t work out,” commented Mirco, who played under one-time Australian international Miller before moving to Floreat in mid-2009. “I hope that they pull themselves out as it would be a shame for a club like Cockburn to go down.”
WANNEROO GROWING IN CONFIDENCE
Beating Division One pacesetters Bunbury Forum Force on their home turf has reignited Wanneroo City's dream of gaining promotion to the top flight. Wanneroo attacker Brian Cairney, whose goal just before the hour was all that separated the teams, says that result has given everyone associated with the northern suburbs club a very timely confidence boost. "Winning in Bunbury was a massive result for us, had we had dropped so much as a point then we'd be out the title race right now," he commented. "That win has given everyone at Wanneroo a huge boost going into the last part of the season."
An amazing eight game winning streak in which Wanneroo have pilled on 25 goals while conceding just five has propelled them alongside Bunbury and Bayswater City at the top of the leader board. "Our defence has been outstanding in the last few weeks. Keeping a clean sheet against Bunbury, who are the league's highest scorers, speaks volumes for the lads," said Cairney. "We've been playing with growing confidence right across the park, our passing and movement off the ball has improved a lot and everyone is wanting to get on the scoresheet."
Although Wanneroo are Division One's form side no one at the club is getting ahead of themselves with Cairney touting Saturday's home fixture with Morley Windmills, who've lost once in six games, a potential stumbling block. "It's a tricky game for us. Morley has beaten Bunbury this season and are on a decent run themselves. It was a draw the last time we met, they created a lot of chances that day but we've improved a lot since," said Cairney. "Every game for the top three teams now is a must-win. We'll just go about our business as usual and see what happens."
BITTERNESS OF DEFEAT WILL INSPIRE SWAN: MONTEROSSO
A Swan United victory on Saturday would go a long way to erasing the memory of one of the worst days in Rob Monterosso's life. Monterosso was part of the Swan side which went down on penalties in the 2006 State League Cup final to Stirling Lions, who just so happen to be the black-and-whites opponent in this weekend's semi-final. "The memories of that day still echo through the halls at Swan. The boys still talk about that day and what could have been," the defender said. "There is more than enough motivation, on more than one level, throughout the team for this weekend's semi. The boys have been buzzing all week, and with our current form we are definitely prepared."
2010 has been a season of fluctuating fortunes for Swan who, with five home and away games to play, hover perilously close to the drop zone. But despite his club winning just six of their seventeen games to date, Monterosso feels Swan have played some good football. "It's been a tough season for us; our position on the ladder in my opinion doesn't truly reflect the way we have played," said the 27-year old. "Our performances have been quite good, although the final result seems to always elude us. We've had a few draws which could have been wins had chances been taken, but that's football, on another day we may have taken them."
Swan's fighting spirit was never more evident that in last week's away win over ECU Joondalup, where late goals by Darragh Kinnevey and Brendan Knox secured a 3-2 result. "It was great to win against Joondalup, not to mention a much needed result for our football club," Monterosso said. "I think a lot of teams write us off before we even walk on the park due to our position on the ladder, but I can tell you the ladder at the moment means nothing with three points splitting basically the bottom half of the table. We are also starting to score more goals which have been an issue for us this season, and if we continue in the form we have the past few weeks, it can only mean good things for us."
Jamie Goodman has his fingers crossed Monterosso can continue his fine form through to the end of the season. "Rob has been a fantastic player who has forged a solid central defence pairing with Dave McNally," said the Swan boss. "Rob had been mainly a right-sided player but took advantage of an injury to Darko Ilomanoski earlier in the season and was used as a makeshift centre back - a position he has made his own. He is one of the Swan stalwarts and is a great character to have around the club, and has certainly showed the younger squad members a thing or two."
That partnership between Monterosso and McNally at the back is going to be vital if Swan are to escape relegation come seasons' end. "Macca is quiet, up until this season I wasn't sure if he spoke," joked Monterosso. "He certainly makes me feel confident at the back. I know that if he goes up for a header or goes in for a tackle, 90% of the time he wins the challenge. All that time spent next to Aaron Cole must have rubbed off on him, and he has certainly come a long way since his first team debut a couple of years ago."
For Monterosso, Swan's top flight survival - and hopes of another Cup final appearance - hinge with a trio of recruits. "Jimmy Sammut has the vision and creativity of a player beyond his years, while Liam Boland has proven himself in his debut season playing the lone striker role, as well as pulling his weight in other striking formations," he said. "Darragh Kinnevey has slotted into the midfield with great ease and gives the tough tackling element a bit further up the ground - and he doesn’t mind a volley or two from outside the box, just ask the ECU 'keeper!"
COYNE SEES A NEW SIDE TO GLORY (by Jonathon Cook, the 'West Australian')
Perth Glory defender Jamie Coyne believes the A-League club is better equipped than in previous years to launch a genuine title bid. Glory were primed to improve on last season when they reached the finals for the first time but were knocked out at the first hurdle by Wellington Phoenix. "We've lost a couple of players but we've signed two or three as well and you'd have to say the balance of the squad looks better," Coyne said. "We can definitely do better than last season. It relies on us being very organised and consistent because there's going to be a lot of competition. But we've got the squad on paper."
Glory owner Tony Sage has invested heavily again this season, the mining entrepreneur forking out to fill both the Australian and overseas marquee positions with former Socceroo Mile Sterjovski and ex-England striker Robbie Fowler. "It's a big year for the club bringing in players like Robbie Fowler and having two marquees is a big step by Tony," 29-year old Coyne said. "The starting eleven will be hard to pick but that's a great thing because it puts pressure on players."
Coyne is adamant the disappointment of missing out on a deal in the Chinese Super League would not affect his preparations for coming A-League season. He spent nine days with Qingdao Jonoon and was set to sign with the club only to have the deal scuppered at the last moment. "They said they wanted to sign me but it wasn't the right deal so I turned it down," Coyne said. "I'd be open to looking at something like that again but when it's this close to the season you just focus on the A-League."
Coach David Mitchell said Coyne's return, and that of midfielder Adriano Pellegrino from trials in Scotland, were major positives for the club less than three weeks before the start of the season. "It would've been difficult to replace players this late in the day, so, for sure, it's a bonus to have them back," said Mitchell as he prepares to go without imports Andy Todd, Victor Sikora, Steven McGarry and Fowler for Friday's friendly at Adelaide United.
UNITED STATES LURE AWAY MAROCCHI
Joshua Marocchi will move to the United States next month to take up a three-year scholarship in Montana. The 19-year old Balcatta player has been courted by several colleges since trialling in front of National Scouting Report scouts last year. "It's been a long process but everything was confirmed with Montana earlier this year," Marocchi told Denise Cahill of the 'Western Suburbs Weekly'. "I had to do an interview, send in my school results and spoke to a few of the coaches in America."
Marocchi, a regular for Balcatta's reserve team this season, is hopeful his time at Montana State University Billings can lead to bigger and better things in the world game. "I would obviously like to go to the Olympics and a World Cup," commented Marocchi, who the Montana coach views as a potential team captain. "When I get to America I need to scope out the competition and if I'm able to progress from there we'll see what happens." Marocchi has been enrolled in a sports and recreation management course at Notre Dame University but will switch to a marketing degree in Montana.
GOALS! GOALS! GOALS!
A rich vein of form in front of goal has put James Robinson on a collision course with Branimir Mikulic in the 2010 Golden Boot race. Robinson has bagged eight goals in his last six appearances for Armadale to join Floreat Athena's Mikulic on top of the leader board with 15 goals. Ashley Rosindale (Balcatta) and Phil O'Callaghan (ECU Joondalup) sit together on 10 goals, one more that Stuart Montgomery (Western Knights), Mario Marcinko (Stirling Lions) and Andreas Oliviera, who scored twice in Perth SC's weekend win at Inglewood United.
Colombian import Gustavo Marulanda (Bayswater City) continued to set the pace in the Division One Golden Boot. Marulunda's 18 goals has him one ahead of David Rodgers (Bunbury Forum Force) and three clear of Jamie Burns, who bagged a double in Forrestfield United's most recent outing. Kailo Karpeh (Bayswater) has 14 goals to his credit, with Wanneroo City marksman Brian Cairney not too far behind with 12 goals. Dianella White Eagles veteran Dale Wingell has taken his tally to ten goals by scoring six times in his clubs' last five games.
STATE TEAM, OR STATE LEAGUE TEAM? (by Ashley Morrison, Not the Footy Show)
It's great to see the State team playing again but the squad that coach Peter Murphy has selected to play Perth Glory next week raises a few questions; questions that were raised two years ago when Robbie Dunn was coach. The main question is 'Should this team not be called the WA State League team as opposed to the State team?' After all, the team is made up of the cream of the Football West State League.
It used to be that to represent Western Australia, you had to be an Australian resident. The 2010 squad is made up of several overseas players who are here on visitor's visas. Whereas it is important that the team that plays Perth Glory give a good account of themselves, surely the State team should be promoting the best Western Australian talent. It should be an honour to represent Western Australia, and one that is limited to those who are eligible to play for the State.
With a State squad you hope to see up and coming talent being rewarded but the players that have been selected are in the main the other side of thirty. The last time the two teams met Robbie Dunn gave Dean Evans a run, and he has since gone on to shine in the Perth Glory Youth team. Todd Howarth and Scott Bulloch both earned themselves Glory contracts on the back of strong performances.
It is unlikely that many of this years' State team will be offered a contract with Glory in light of their ages. If this fixture is to become a regular one - and it is to be a true State team - surely it should also showcase the young talent. Perhaps it could be a chance for those from the Glory Youth to pit themselves against the first team, with a few older players alongside to provide experience and leadership.
YOUNG SOCCEROOS NAMED FOR ASEAN TOURNAMENT
Mark Birighitti, Ryan Edwards and Eli Babalj have gained Australia selection for the next week’s ASEAN Under-19 Youth Championship. The West Australian trio were today named in national youth coach Jan Versleijen’s 20-player squad for the tournament in which the Young Socceroos are pitted against host nation Vietnam, the Korea Republic and Thailand.
The Australia squad for the ASEAN Under-19 Youth Championships is Mark Birighitti, Mathew Leckie (Adelaide United), Ryan Edwards (Australian Institute of Sport), Matthew Acton, Daniel Bowles (Brisbane Roar), Mustafa Amini, Sam Gallagher (Central Coast Mariners), Ben Halloran, Steven Lustica (Gold Coast United), Dylan McGowan (Hearts), Eli Babalj, Brendan Hamill, Kamal Ibrahim, Kliment Taseski (Melbourne Heart), Ben Kantarovski (Newcastle Jets), Matthew Fletcher (Sunderland), Dimitrios Petratos (Sydney FC) along with uncontracted trio Christopher Bush, Theo Markelis and Nikola Stanojevic.
GLORY EDGE OUT ARMADALE
Perth Glory needed two second-half goals to overcome Armadale 2-1 in this afternoon’s pre-season friendly in front of 2000 fans at Alfred Skeet Oval. Jamie Harnwell secured the win with a late header after Branko Jelic had cancelled out Jason Goodwin's early strike. "It was a good game today, played in the right spirit, and there was a good crowd as well," Glory coach David Mitchell said. "There was good movement from the new guys today, and in the first half we created a few chances. They scored, which was a bit sloppy on our behalf, but at the end of the day I was happy with the game."
Armadale took a surprise when Goodwin stroked low past Tando Velaphi after being sent clear by Ryan Pearson in the 19th minute. Shaken into action, Glory's attempts to respond had Jelic test stand-in goalkeeper Aleks Vrteski and soon after the Serbian striker clipped the crossbar from 16-metres. Vrteski was keeping Armadale in the game, saving from Michael Baird on 36 minutes and moments later Jelic. The final opportunity of the half had Adriano Pellegrino head wide a Naum Sekulovski cross from the left.
Parity was restored ten minutes into the second half when Jelic powerfully heading in at close-range from another Sekulovski's cross. Armadale had the ball in the net on the hour but James Robinson's low strike was ruled out for offside. As the game progressed Glory took control and Baird's long-range effort was kept out by Vrteski while Jelic flashed wide a close-range header. The pressure valve was relieved on 82 minutes when Sekulovski's free-kick from the left was headed in at the back post by Harnwell. Ali Paredes went within inches of grabbing a late equaliser but was unable to steer a John Hunter cross inside the post.
Armadale boss Brad Hassell enjoyed the day but conceded playing twice in two days had taken its toll on his players. "Today was a chance for the boys to relax and play a good Glory side," said Hassell, who guide Armadale to victory over Floreat Athena just 24 hours earlier. "We had a few squad players in today and they did okay. It's difficult to play two games in two days but I was pleased how the lads performed." Glory's pre-season commences at Adelaide United on Friday before they take on the Western Australia State at Litis Stadium on Wednesday 28th July.
VENUE CHANGE FOR CUP SEMI’S
The venues for the State League Cup semi-finals have changed following consultation between Football West and the four participating clubs. The round of four was originally scheduled for neutral venues, however, next weekend’s games will now be played at the home of the two teams drawn ‘first out of the hat’ as had been intended by the State League Standing Committee. The revised fixtures will see Stirling Lions and Swan United go head-to-head at Macedonia Park on Saturday, with Floreat Athena against Armadale at Litis Stadium the following afternoon.
BLADES STINT FOR SAINSBURY
West Australian teenager Trent Sainsbury has been invited for a two-week training stint with English Championship outfit Sheffield United. Sainsbury and Marc Warren, who both play for Central Coast Mariners, have been selected to spend a fortnight at the Blades’ academy to experience first hand the life of a professional footballer in one of the world’s top leagues. The players will stay with a family in the north of England and train with the Blades’ Academy and Reserve teams, with the possibility of featuring in pre-season trial matches. The opportunity came about following a visit to Australia by Noel Blackwell, a scout for the English’ club.
SORRENTO HOLDS STIRLING TO A POINT
Stirling Lions’ five-game winning streak came to end with this afternoon’s 2-2 draw at Sorrento. Mario Marcinko put the visitors ahead on the half hour but the teams would enter the break in level terms after Adam Hayton converted a penalty. Phil Arnold regained the lead for Stirling before Jared Love converted another penalty to give both sides a share of the spoils. Sorrento coach Trevor Morgan was happy with the character he side showed in twice coming from behind. “They are a good side and you can see why they have been doing well recently, but to come from behind twice today, after three successive defeats, has shown the lads have great character,” he said.
The first shot in anger arrived after just a couple of minutes with James Morgan’s powerful strike from the edge of the 18-yard box superbly saved by James Turvill. Sorrento were within inches of grabbing the lead twice in as many minutes as Jason Mirco’s long-range attempt flashed just wide of the target before Glen Thomas’ volley had the same end result. Stirling only now began to get move involved and on 14 minutes Ludovic Boi headed just high after Wilson had flicked on a Stef Frost throw. Scott Muirhead picked put Arnold inside the area but the striker’s header from 5-metres was high of the crossbar.
The deadlock was broken on the half-hour when Wilson played over the defence for Arnold, who fended off Daryl Platten before firing into the bottom corner from 10-metres. Now their noses were in front Stirling began to dictate terms and in quick succession Boi, Arnold and Frost all went close to adding their second. Controversy entered the game four minutes from the break when referee Hugh Best consulted his linesman before awarding Sorrento a penalty for handball against Michael Pugliese. Joe Lamplough’s spot kick was saved by Turvell, however, Best ordered it be retaken due to encroachment and it was Hayton this time that stepped up to convert.
An even start to the second half had Stirling in a menacing mood, Arnold forcing a low save from Curtis Aspden before Marcinko placed wide at close range. Their attacking approach paid dividends in the 58th minute when Arnold made no mistake from a few metres after being found by Scott Muirhead’s pin-point cross. It was no more than Stirling deserved and ten minutes later they would have had another if Aspden hadn’t kept Tom Ingram’s long-range shot out of his net. Robinson then sent a through ball in for Marcinko whose lob of the on-coming ‘keeper was cleared off the line by Kris Dennis.
That no-surrender attitude typified Sorrento and on 78 minutes they were level, Marcinko fouling Morgan with referee Best pointing straight to the spot from where second half substitute Love sent Turvell the wrong way. Although both sides went looking for a winning goal, it was Stirling that came closest via a long-range Boi effort which was saved low by Aspden. The day ended on a sour note For Stirling with the dismissal of Pugliese for a second yellow card, a decision which didn’t go down well with the travelling supporters.
A POINT EACH FOR MANDURAH AND THE KNIGHTS (with Andrew Harris, Football West)
The entertainment value was high at Hyundai Stadium where Mandurah City held second-from-top Western Knights to a pulsating scoreless draw. The point gained edged Mandurah that little bit further away from the drop zone, pleasing coach Stuart Young. “If you asked me before the game would I have settled for a point I would have said yes,” commented Young. Mandurah were unlucky not to go ahead early with Robbie Hamm’s cheeky lob from near the halfway line failing to beat goalkeeper Fraser Siddall. Andy Brown rifled just wide son after, then unleashed a 16-metre grass cutter that Siddall managed to hold.
The visitors’ first effective attack came via Stuart Montgomery, who glided through the midfield before passing to Simon Versacio, who was well tackled by Ivan Zuvela. Superb movement off the ball by Montgomery, David Micevski and Daniel Trim ensured the home defence was kept on high alert. Phil Straker came up with the goods to save from Versacio, then Paul Van Dongen and David Price went close in quick succession as the visiting team found top gear. But all their hard work was almost undone just before the break by a poor defensive back header which allowed Alex Darby a shot which went wide.
The second half continued in much the same fashion with the crowd thrilled by both teams’ crisp passing. David Micevski fired in a low cross from the left which flashed across the face of goal needing just a touch from any one of his on-rushing team mates. It was starting to look as though a single goal would secure the points and Montgomery was next to go close after he shot wide from 8-metres out. Mandurah’s best chance came after a neat one-two between Brown and Darren Broxton with the former forcing a sprawling save from Siddall.
Montgomery and David Micevski were time and time again stretching the Mandurah defence, however, Ryan Townsend continually denied them the space to create clear-cut chances. A poor clearance by Siddall from outside his area was straight to Hamm but he was unable to get the better of the fast back-tracking ‘keeper. The Knights attacking expertise resulted in a curling Daniel Micevski shot that brought the best out of Straker. Mandurah were soaking up pressure and hitting quickly on the beak with Alex Darby getting into dangerous positions on several occasions. A Knights corner was met strongly by Stuart Ferguson, who headed over, before referee Steven Gregory brought proceedings to a close
MASTERFUL PERTH GIVE INGLEWOOD NO CHANCE
Perth SC got their season back on track with a commanding 3-1 win against home team Inglewood United. Andreas Oliveira celebrated State selection by scoring twice while Ian McMurray bagged one after a long injury lay-off to end Perth’s five game winless run and propel them back into contention for regular season honours. But the news was not so good for Inglewood who lost influential midfielder Michael Baczynski to injury and remain stuck at the wrong end of the table, sitting just two points ahead of last placed Cockburn City.
There was barely a minute on the clock when Oliviera signalled the visitors intentions by stretching Oliver Taseski with a stinging long-range effort. Alex Stamatiadis’ driving run down the left created an opening for Jake Geddes but his towering header was just high. A delightful move straight down the centre of the park lead to Perth’s opening goal in the 14th minute. Craig Simpson speared a long ball to McMurray who headed it down for Oliveira and, while he still had plenty of work, the striker brilliantly drilled low into the bottom corner from 25-metres with Taseski at full-stretch.
Rory Grant fashioned an opening for Adrian Caceres four minutes later but the Inglewood attacker’s shot was too close to Devon Spence. A free flowing game saw Hayden Doyle dance inside the 18-yard box only to lift over the crossbar, then down the other end Grant did likewise after a good build-up through Stamatiadis and Sandi Loncar. Perth doubled their advantage in the 36th minute when the ball moved through Dom De Felice, Antonio Naglieri and Oliveira, whose lob over the defence was expertly lifted over the advancing ‘keeper and into the net by McMurray.
McMurray should have put Perth further ahead three minutes into the second half but hesitated when faced with an open goal, allowing Darko Ilmanoski time to get across and block the shot. Inglewood were seeing plenty of the ball and on 58 minutes gained a free-kick near the top corner of the 18-yard box from where Grant’s curling attempt hit the underside of the bar and struck a defender to go into the net. Taseski had his reflexes tested five minutes later in tipping over an explosive Trent Kay header from Doyle’s corner.
The result was put beyond doubt in the 67th minute when McMurray squirted the ball from underneath Matt Worton to an unmarked Oliveira, who had no trouble stroking past the ‘keeper from 8-metres. De Felice was denied Perth’s fourth goal when Taseski touched wide his crisp low strike from an angle. Inglewood renewed their push for goals entering the final ten minutes but the only chance of note was a speculative Matt Wardle effort that flew high from distance.
Perth caretaker coach John Coyne was delighted with the way his side performed, singling out the Oliveira and McMurrary partnership. “Ian’s been injured for a far while and as a partnership they gave us a new dimension to our play which I am delighted with,” he said. “I thought the players were brilliant, some of the football was brilliant in periods today and we could have been two or three up at half-time, but to their credit Inglewood made it hard for us.”
CLINICAL FINISHING PROVIDES ARMADALE BREATHING SPACE (by Michael Bate, Football West)
Import pair James Robinson and Matt Barlow guided Armadale to an upset 2-0 victory over Floreat Athena at Litis Stadium. Armadale’s second win in eight days - and their first ever in the league at Floreat - all but ensures their participation in next year’s top flight, the Reds now sitting six points clear of last place. Floreat made a positive start with Branimir Mikulic heading into the net after 7 minutes, however, his effort was disallowed as referee Michal Jasinski had already blown for a foul. Floreat kept on pressing and Daniel Neiderberger should perhaps have done better with a volley that he put too close to goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock.
There was no such wastefulness from the visitors as, on 22 minutes, Robinson ran at the opposing defence before sublimely chipping over Jakub Chudy from 18-metres. Floreat immediately went in search of an equaliser; Sharrock palmed away a goalbound effort by Miki Vujacic and soon after Steve McDonald thwarted Mikulic with a terrific last gasp tackle. A beautiful flowing move allowed Armadale to increase the margin in the 42nd minute when Robinson, after playing a neat one-two with Ali Paredes, pulled back into the path of Barlow who calmly lifted the ball over the advancing ‘keeper.
Floreat were determined to play their way back into the game after the break. Mikulic squandered a good opportunity by heading wide at a Vujacic free-kick, then Sharrock’s reflexes allowed him to deny Mikulic from 8-metres. Vujacic was next to threaten with a fine effort that curled past the post, and Jarrad Smith blazed high after doing the hard work of getting in behind the defence. Down the other end Chudy came quickly off his line to rob Robinson a clear chance to put another goal on the board for Armadale. Sharrock continued to show his value with another fine save to Neiderberger’s long-range attempt.
Barlow should have sealed the points not long after but failed to connect with Robinson’s cross from right when faced with only the ‘keeper to beat. The roles were reversed two minutes later with Robinson missing a much more difficult chance to make it three-nil. Floreat were literally handed a lifeline in the 91st minute when Jasinski awarded a penalty for handball against McDonald. Mikulic stepped up to take the spot kick but was against left frustrated as Sharrock dived low to his left to gather the ball. There was still time for the seemingly unbeatable Armadale ‘keeper to pull off another stunning save to deny substitute Adam Bachiller a late consolation.
BALCATTA TAKE A GIANT STEP TOWARDS TOP FLIGHT SURVIVAL
Balcatta survived a furious late Cockburn City assault to notch a dramatic 2-1 victory at Grindleford Reserve. Jack Clisby and Ashley Rosendale fired Balcatta into a two-goal lead before Paul Natale converted a late penalty to set up a tense finish. “Our defence was outstanding, particularly during the first half when Cockburn had a lot of possession and had some chances,” said Balcatta coach Salv Todaro, who was relieved his team had snapped two month winless run. “We have been playing okay recently without winning but this performance should boost our confidence.”
Cockburn enjoyed a wealth of midfield possession through the first half but lacked the finishing that would have reaped a goal or two. Adrian Webster, Marc Anthony and Jason Dos Santos were well in control of the flow of play only to be continually be turned away by a disciplined backline that was superbly marshalled by Igor Ilikj and Corey Wiltshire. Balcatta’s reliance in the counterattack paid dividends in the 23rd minute when a long ball found the surging Clisby, who calmly slotted into the back of the net past goalkeeper Jason O’Byrne.
Balcatta’s emerged for the second period with renewed focus as midfielders Adam Tong and Matt Italiano wielded their influence over proceedings. In the 67th minute Rosindale pounced on sloppy defending to double his side’s advantage and send the home crowd into raptures. The result looked to be in the bag at this stage, however, the game was turned on its head in the 82nd minute when Jason Dos Santos was brought down by goalkeeper Bobson Koroma with Natale tucking away from the spot to reignite Cockburn’s spark.
Jason Dos Santos and Webster continued to dominate from the centre of the park, continually pumping the ball forward in a desperate bid to equalise but were repeatedly denied by Balcatta’s gritty defence. In a last ditch effort Jason Dos Santos slithered past the defence before unleashing a scorching strike that beat Koroma but cannoned into the crossbar. The result consigns Cockburn to the bottom of the Premier League table, two points adrift of their nearest rival, and needing a few wins from the last five regular season games to remain in the top flight for a 37th successive year.
SWAN FLY HOME IN A THRILLER (with Tim Lefort, Football West)
Two goals in the final eleven minutes gave bottom-of-the-table Swan United a dramatic 3-2 victory over ECU Joondalup at the Edith Cowan University campus. In an eventful match, Tom Shepheard headed the visitors in front on the stroke of half-time only to have Phil O’Callaghan and Jamie Watt put the home side in front after the turnaround. A stunning strike from Darragh Kinnevey drew the teams level before Brendan Knox - who had earlier missed from the spot - gave the black and whites three invaluable points in their quest to avoid relegation.
Jamie Goodman, coach of Swan, was naturally thrilled with the result and was full of praise for his players. “The boys did really well today, showed a lot of character,” he said. “We had a chance to go 2-1 up but missed the penalty and then went 2-1 down with another penalty at the other end within a minute of that. I think it was a bit of a scrap after that and our boys really dug deep and it was a great result. We battled hard last week but didn’t quite manage to get the result but we’ve gone a step further and managed to get the win today. I’m just rapt at the moment, absolutely rapt.”
The first shot in a largely uneventful opening half had Andy Petterson save low to Brendan Craig’s powerful long-range attempt. Joondalup could have twice opened the scoring but Watt stabbed wide from a few metres and a scuffed Phil O’Callagan shot didn’t trouble Corey Hugo. At the other end Kinnevey blazed well over, James Sammut’s low drive fizzed just wide and Knox’s glancing header was tipped over by Pettersen. But the Joondalup goalkeeper was exposed with the resulting corner as Shepheard steered his header into the back of the net.
Whatever Syd Amphlett said during the break worked wonders because Joondalup were back on level terms four minutes after the resumption. Chris Wylie and Jon Higgins played a neat one-two down the left and when the former crossed deep beyond the far post, Garin Collins rolled the ball back across the 6-yard box for O’Callaghan to fire in. David Perich sent a snap shot over from 10-metres as the visitors looked to restore their lead. And that should have been the outcome in the 55th minute when Knox’s was illegally halted inside the area by substitute Mark Tebbut, the Swan captain picked himself up but his low penalty shot was brilliantly saved by Petterson.
That miss was punished to the fullest extent a minute later when Watt drove inside the upright from the penalty spot after an almost identical challenge by Robert Monterosso on the Joondalup striker. O’Callaghan and Watt then combined well with the latter blasting just over from a tight angle. David McNally wasted an excellent chance for Swan after 67 minutes by sending a free header over the crossbar. Knox then had a close-range effort somehow cleared off the line with Shepheard unable to direct his follow-up header under the bar.
Just when it was beginning to look as though Joondalup might hang on, Kinnevey drew the teams level with an absolutely brilliant goal. There looked to be little on when the midfielder took possession of a clearance some 23-metres from goal, but after an initial touch Kinnevey lashed an unstoppable shot into the top corner to set up a tense finish. Clearly inspired, Kinnevey was only denied his second from long-range moments later by a fine save from Pettersen. Swans could sense victory and Knox delivered the killer blow five minutes from the end by driving in the rebound after Petterson had blocked a low shot by substitute Christian Lopez.
WANNEROO ENTER THE TITLE RACE
Wanneroo City leapt into the Division One championship race by defeating league leaders Bunbury Forum Force 1-0 at Hay Park. The result put Wanneroo level on points with Bunbury and Bayswater City to set up a three-way battle for promotion. Opportunities were hard to come by in an even first half with neither David Rodgers nor Brian Cairney able to capitalise when chances presented.
The second half was more open and Bunbury’s Neil Chappell having a shot cleared off the line by the last-ditch Wanneroo defence. The deadlock was finally broken on 59 minutes when Clint Davies clever ball played through Cairney, who finished clinically in a one-on-one situation. With the game in the balance Bunbury won a succession of corners but were unable to find the goal they sought, despite captain Patrick Quinn going desperately close.
OPPORTUNITY PASSES BAYSWATER BY
Bayswater City missed the chance to claim the outright Division One leadership by being held 1-1 by Canning City at Frank Drago Reserve. In an entertaining first half, Canning City hit the front after 16 minutes when a free-kick from the right was powerfully headed in by Billy Rickman. Bayswater should have equalised soon after but Damien Catalano couldn’t capitalise on some good lead-up play. However, two minutes before half-time Kailo Karpeh turned his defender and fired in from the top of the 18-yard box.
The second half was played with much the same script, Bayswater dominating possession and territory but not able to make the most of their chances in the final third. The home club squandered several guilt-edged opportunities, with Canning goalkeeper Stewart Delgardo turning in a man-of-the-match performance by making a great double save to deny Karpeh. In the final minutes Gustavo Murulanda thought he’d struck the winner only to see his effort crash against the post.
GOSNELLS HIT FOUR PAST A LUCKLESS ROCKINGHAM (by Ethan Carr)
Rockingham City's recent revival came to a halt when beaten 4-0 by Gosnells City under lights at Lark Hill Sportsplex. A quick opening had Gosnells construct some promising early attacks which were met by strong resistance from the home defence. The game eventually settled into a more controlled pace and just before the break Daiten Twyman opened the scoring by dancing through past a couple of opponents and firing past goalkeeper Craig Olejnik.
Thomas Kennedy put the game a little further beyond Rockingham when he burst out of midfield and drove into the net after 66 minutes. Rockingham was dealt another blow when Richard Lacey earned his marching orders for a second bookable offence. A defensive lapse allowed substitute Chris Holland to convert an easy opportunity, with the same player scoring Gosnells’ fourth in stoppage time by sending a Scott Devine cross into the net.
BURNS GETS FORRESTFIELD HOME
Forrestfield United consolidated their place in the top five by defeating bottom club Queens Park 2-1 in a tight contest at Hartfield Park. The home side took an early lead when Martin Barnes’ free-kick was flicked on by Lewis Costly, forcing goalkeeper Brad Eiffe to parry with Jamie Burns netting from a tight angle. Just eight minutes later the teams were back on level terms when a Mitch Conti cross-turn-shot from the left deceived everyone and found the top corner.
Burns restored Forrestfield’s advantage ten minutes later by scoring from close-range after being found by a superb Andy Harold cross. The second half was as entertaining as the first with Forrestfield hitting the crossbar four times through Burns and Costly. There were only a couple of minutes remaining when Queens Park had claims for a penalty dismissed by the referee, despite the ball appearing to strike a Forrestfield player on the hand. The win puts on 28 points, just six behind joint leaders Bunbury Forum Force, Bayswater City and Wanneroo City.
ELSEWHERE IN DIVISION ONE
Fremantle Spirit and Dianella Whites had to be content with a point each after a seesawing encounter at Wauhop Park finished 2-2. Visiting striker Renato Jelen broke the deadlock early in the second half but that lead last just ten minutes before Angelo Canzurlo found a way past the goalkeeper. It appeared Fremantle would score a much-needed win after Canzurlo then put them two-one up in the 72nd minute. However, Jelen had the final say by equalising three minutes from the end of regulation time.
Ashfield's habit of fading out in the second half has allowed Morley Windmills to record a come-from-behind 3-2 win at Wotton Reserve. Leo Harman's opener midway through the first half was cancelled out by Steven Larkin ten minutes later to send the teams into the break level. Ashfield were in front again on 51 minutes through Harman, however, Tony Griffiths equalised from the spot with Diego Van Der Ross hitting the 69th minute winner.
PREMIER LEAGUE IN PREVIEW
With all six of this weekend’s Premier League having a major bearing on who finishes where this season, the pick of the action has Inglewood United on home soil to Perth SC. Adrian Caceres is poised to make his starting debut for an Inglewood side that is unbeaten in four games, but the hosts will undoubtedly miss the influence of Ryan Clarke (suspended). Perth’s last win was six weeks ago but they do have a good record at Inglewood where they’ve lost once in five visits. Robbie Puca is back from injury while David Onoforo and Shaun Kilkelly return from suspension.
Stirling Lions travel north to Sorrento, whose grip on fifth place slipped a little with last week’s surprise loss to Armadale. The Gulls welcomed Daryl Platten back from injury on that occasion and will be looking to Adam Hayton and former Stirling player Jason Mirco to inspire the to victory. Stirling are not only top of the table but also the competition’s form team, losing just once in ten games. Key defender Bobby Wilson comes back in after serving suspension, however, Roberto Lujan misses the game with a knee injury.
If it’s goals you want then you’d best head north for ECU Joondalup’s home game against Swan United. The last five meetings of these clubs at the campus ground has reaped a staggering 24 goals, and both head into the game wanting three points for very different reasons. Joondalup’s are knocking on the door of a top five berth thanks in part to the good form of Chris Wylie and Phil O’Callaghan. Swan’s battle to avoid the drop is intensifying as this week they are without striker Liam Boland (suspended) while veteran defender Rory Mouttet is doubtful due to a groin injury.
Armadale go in search of a first ever league win at Floreat Athena. Brad Hassell’s side will take a great deal of confidence from last week’s 3-1 defeat of Sorrento, however, this time out they are going to be missing Tom Robinson, Steve Porter and Jason Goodwin all due to suspension. Floreat haven’t in the league in month but coach Ante Kovacecic is unlikely to tinker too much with his line-up even though James Isaia, Daniel Neiderberger and Mo Atak are knocking for a return to the starting eleven. Their only absence is likely to be suspended defender Jovo Pavlovic.
It's a real six-pointer at Grindleford Reserve where Balcatta hosts Cockburn City, who have both drifted perilously close to the drop zone. Balcatta haven't won since mid-May but with Jack Clisby and Nick Tatasciore in good touch coach Salv Todaro has every reason to believe his sides winless run is about to end. Creative midfielder Jason Dos Santos is available for selection for the Cockerels, who had Adrian Webster, Shane Nunes and Marc Anthony selected for State honours this week. All five afternoon games start at 3.00pm.
The final game of the round takes place under lights at the Hyundai Stadium where Mandurah City hosts Western Knights (6.00pm). Anthony Campbell remains suspended for a visiting team in which David Annall, David Micevski and Stuart Montgomery have been key performers. Mandurah player-coach Stuart Young could be tempted to inject his experience into the starting eleven after an appearance off the bench in last week’s win over Balcatta. Captain Ryan Townsend has been a pillar of strength at the back where he’s partnered by former Knights player Ivan Zuvela.
DIVISION ONE IN PREVIEW
It’s hard to go past top of the table Bunbury Forum Force against third-placed Wanneroo City at Hay Park for this week’s Division One match of the week. Just three points separate the two teams and, with only nine regular season games to go, the outcome is bound to play a big role in the race for top honours. Bunbury have lost only once at home this year and will look to team captain Patrick Quinn and Neil Chappel for guidance from the centre of the park. The form of Guy McDonald and Brian Cairney has been key to Wanneroo’s six game unbeaten run that’s thrust them into title contention.
A home win for Bayswater City against Canning City could have them sitting on top of the table come Saturday evening. Forrestfield United are expected to win comfortably when Queens Park visits Hartfield Park. Fremantle Spirit and Dianella White Eagles lock horns at Wauhop Park. Morley Windmills can avenge their early season four-goal loss to Ashfield at Wotton Reserve. Rockingham City will attempt to make it three wins in a row when Gosnells City swings by Lark Hill Sportsplex for the evening game.
RUKAVYTSYA BOUND FOR BERLIN
Socceroos striker Nikita Rukavytsya has signed a three-year deal with German second division side Hertha Berlin. Rukavytsya played the second half of last season on loan from FC Twente to KSV Roeselare where his performances were rewarded with a place in the Australia squad for last months World Cup. "I'm very happy with my transfer to Hertha BSC and I'm really looking forward to living in Berlin," said Rukavytsya, 23. "The club is full of ambition and I want to be part of Hertha's future." Berlin, surprisingly relegated from the Bundesliga last season after winning just five games, is looking to rebuild and sees the Ukrainian-born attacker as a good fit for the club.
ARMADALE GO IN SEARCH OF GLORY
Perth Glory’s preparations for the up-coming A-League season continue with Sunday’s friendly against State League outfit Armadale. The game will give Armadale coach Brad Hassell, who played for Glory 70 times between 2001 and 2004, the chance to experiment a little just 24 hours after a league encounter with Floreat Athena. “We will simply enjoy the occasion, all the players will be monitored and given time accordingly. We will definitely be using sixteen or so players, and I’m sure the Glory will use the same,” said Hassell. “The long-range forecast suggests the weather will be fine and so we are expecting a big turn out. Hopefully it gives people a chance to see Robbie Fowler, even if he only plays for a few minutes.”
Armadale president Tony Greipl is confident a big crowd will turn out and support the game. “It will be a great opportunity for fans of football from all surrounding areas to come to a local club and see an A-League team play,” Greipl said. “I would like to personally thank Lee Bamber who was instrumental in making the game possible along with (Glory coach) Dave Mitchell. We look forward to lots of supporters turning up on the day in order to ensure a great day.” A day of festivities commences at 12.00noon with junior games and children activities with Armadale and Glory pitting skills from 3.00pm at Alfred Skeet Oval.
MCDARBY MOVES ON FROM SERIOUS INJURY
Twelve months ago a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament had Ryan McDarby’s football career hanging in the balance. Thankfully that is now just a distant memory for the ECU Joondalup defender who made starting return in Sunday’s win over Perth SC. “It was a long and frustrating road back after my full knee reconstruction,” said McDarby, 20. “It was many days spent in the gym doing weights to build the muscles back up, and when you start to run again it gets easier from there but you just can’t rush it.”
McDarby played a handful of games in the reserves as well as coming off the bench for Joondalup’s first team prior to last weekend. “It’s hard to get back playing again - as I said you can’t rush it - and I was told it would take time and that it (the knee) needed to be a 100% before I played again,” explained McDarby. “I’m getting fitter and more confident with every game so hopefully I can have a strong finish to the season.”
Joondalup coach Steve Amphlett is delighted McDarby is back in the frame. “When Ryan did his knee against Cockburn last year he was devastated, and it has taken twelve months to get back to match fitness,” Amphlett said. “At one stage we had to hold him back in training because he was so desperate. He has been outstanding in the last two reserve games and played a part in the last five (league) games as his fitness gets better and better, and thankfully no reaction to his injury.”
He was signed back from Mandurah and Amphlett says - he is ECU through and through and prepared to play anywhere. Last season he was a vital member of the side and made the final 20 at Perth Glory youth trials before his season was cut short. He made a welcome return against Forrestfield in the first round of the cup, and although a bit nervous he has just gone from strength to strength.
McDarby praised his teams’ efforts against Perth, where Phil Callaghan’s first half double was complimented by a rare Charlie Coymn-Platt goal after the break. “It was a great win at Dorrien Gardens, we needed it to keep pushing for the top five,” McDarby commented on the 3-1 win. “It was also a great team performance, everyone worked their socks off for each other and we got what we deserved in the end which was the three points.”
Premier League cellar dwellers Swan United visit the Edith Cowan University campus on Saturday when a home win could push Joondalup into the top five and a step closer to finals football. “I think after beating two of the top four teams we will be confident going into this game,” said McDarby. “But this league is so tight anyone can beat anyone on their day so we will have to be on the top of our game to beat Swan, it should be a good game.”
BALCATTA WILL FIGHT TO THE END: O’NEILL
It’s been a long and difficult few months for the Premier League’s newest team, Balcatta. A terrific opening month of results gave all associated with the club tremendous hope of remaining in the top flight beyond the winter, however, their failure to win since mid-May has plunged Balcatta into the relegation quagmire. “We began the season very well,” commented captain Andy O’Neill. “I guess it was the excitement of being in the Premier League. I think the first two months we really surprised a few people, but in recent weeks we haven’t achieved the results we had hoped for but our goal remains to avoid relegation.”
A series of injuries tested Balcatta’s depth at a time when several players headed over to South Africa for the world game’s biggest spectacle. “Losing players to the World Cup and to injuries is a test for any squad. I think we have learnt that squad size is vital in this league,” commented O’Neill. “We have a great squad down at Balcatta, the only thing that I believe is lacking is Premier League experience, especially when you have lost a few games and start a mini-slide down the table. I do feel, however, we still have the quality in our squad to finish well above the drop zone.”
Balcatta has numerous opportunities to put a few valuable points on the board last week at Mandurah but, as has so often been the case this season, came away empty handed. “We had heaps of chances to win the game, and although it was disappointing to lose, we played some good football,” said O’Neill, whose team dominated but still went down to a couple of early goals. “At the end of the day Mandurah took their chances and we missed far too many. We took a lot of positives from the game, as we dominated the majority of the match.”
It’ll be those positives that Balcatta will be drawing on when they host fellow relegation candidates Cockburn City on Saturday afternoon. “This week is a massive game, not only for us but for Cockburn as well - it’s a real six pointer,” commented O’Neill. “We have been training really well this week and everybody is aware of the importance of three points. We have gained confidence from last week’s performance; we just need to find the back of the net.” Balcatta and Cockburn locks horns at Grindleford Reserve from 3.00pm.
LOSSES HAVE PERTH FEELING BLUE
It’s been a tough month but Perth SC is very close to getting their season back on course according to one-time State striker Ian McMurray. Perth’s playing stock has been severely depleted by a series injuries and suspensions, leading directly to a five game winless run that’s tumbled the perennial title favourites away from the top of the table. “We’re currently going through a bad spell at the moment; Perth going five games without a win is something that is unheard of,” said McMurray. “We’ve had a couple of suspensions lately but what’s more concerning for us is the amount of players injured.”
The list of players who’ve missed games of late includes Greg Sharland, Aaron Cole, David Onoforo, Robert Sciascia, Luke Martino as well as McMurray. “At the moment I think we have about half a dozen first team regulars out which is preventing us playing our strongest team. It also means that we have to play players out of position,” said McMurray. “But that’s football and it means that the younger kids coming through have a chance to get into the first team and stake their claim for a permanent place.”
Perth’s latest chapter of woe arrived in the form of last weekend’s 3-1 home loss to ECU Joondalup. “Sunday was very disappointing for us; the performance was very under par for Perth,” said McMurray. “We know where and what we did wrong and are working hard to sort things out. Not taking anything away from ECU - they played very well and worked hard for their win. Although we made a lot of mistakes which we got punished for we did create some chances but unfortunately just couldn’t get the breaks.”
The impending return of long-time coach Graham Normanton, whose father recently passed away in England, will help Perth get their season back on track. “We have been without Normo now for the last four or five weeks and all our thoughts are with him and his family at this sad time. I believe he is due back this week which I know will give the whole club a welcome lift,” said McMurray. “Our season has been pretty inconsistent … we have a lot of work to do til finals time but I’m sure by then Normo and John Coyne will have us on top of our game.”
Perth will be pulling out all the stops when they travel to Inglewood United on Saturday. “It’s a very important game for us, we have a lot to prove. It’s very important that we start winning and keep the pressure on the teams above us,” McMurray said. “We have worked very hard in training and the team which plays on Saturday will give everything to get the win. Inglewood is a good, strong side and we know we’ll have to be back to our best if we are to get the win.”
SAMMUT READY TO RUFFLE SOME FEATHERS
Midfielder James Sammut determined to help Swan United pull clear of the relegation zone over the final six games of the regular season. The black and whites campaign looks like going down to the wire, however, the point earned last week against Floreat Athena and a Cup semi-final appearance shows each and every Swan player is pulling in the same direction. “Team spirit at our club is great on and off the field, and the lads are always working for each other,” said Sammut. “The league at the moment is very close and a couple of wins will jump us up the table a few spots and see us out of relegation. I’m sure that if we continue to play like we did against Floreat we will make our way up the table.”
Swan was only minutes away from collecting a much-needed win against Floreat when Branimir Mikulic made it 2-2 in the final minute of regulation time. “It was disappointing not to get the three points but that happens sometimes in games you deserve to win. There were still a lot of positives for us to take from the match,” commented Sammut. “We played good football even though the conditions weren’t the best, and the work rate of the team was superb. If we play like that and bring that intensity for the remainder of the season I am sure we will win matches.”
Jamie Goodman has sampled very few wins since taking over Swan’s coaching reins in April but, nonetheless, has the full support of his players. “It hasn’t been easy for Jamie but he is doing a good job and does have the full support of the team. Training has been sharp and he has got the team playing good football but unfortunately just not getting the results,” said Sammut. “With the new appointment of assistant Mick DaRe it will give Jamie someone to work with and discuss ideas to best suit the team.”
Sammut, 20, got a taste of professional football life a few years back in England, and a spell with Perth Glory has only strengthened his resolve to again try his luck abroad. “I went to the UK for a couple of months and trained with West Ham United and Portsmouth, and then played with Perth Glory Youth which was all a great experience,” he said. “I currently have a year left of my University degree and on completion I would like to head back overseas somewhere and try my luck over there.”
Swan travel north this weekend to play an ECU Joondalup outfit that has in recent weeks beaten Western Knights and Perth SC. “It will be a tough game this week against ECU as they are a good side and have proven it by the results they have gotten lately,” said Sammut, who played the first part of last year for Joondalup. “But we are all up for the game and if we play the football we are capable of playing then I’m sure we will get the three points.”
MITCHELL POSITIVE DESPITE GLORY SETBACK
Perth Glory’s trip to China has not been a wasted exercise despite the cancellation of a planned match against Super League team Tianjin Teda, according to coach Dave Mitchell. A key component of Glory’s pre-season trip was a friendly with Tianjin on Friday, however, the game was called off at late notice with Mitchell playing down the significance of the cancellation due to ‘complications with transportation to the game’. “It was annoying not playing the game but we played an in-house game in Beijing and there were a lot of benefits to that,” Mitchell said.
Glory defeated the Chinese under-19 team in that game and came away with a 3-1 win courtesy of goals from Michael Baird, Scott Neville and Todd Howarth. “There are a few people who are new to the group and the dynamics are a bit different with a couple of new staff,” Mitchell said. “The harmony amongst the group has been great and that’s a real positive. Sometimes when things aren’t quite right it brings people together. There might have been a little bit of a problem with the food and the game (being cancelled) but you get on with it and you find out about the character of different players.”
STATE SQUAD FOR GLORY FRIENDLY ANNOUNCED
State coach Peter Murphy has named an eighteen-man squad to take on Perth Glory in the 'Call To Arms Cup' later this month. The squad features players from nine of the twelve Premier League clubs with Cockburn City, Floreat Athena and Mandurah City having the greatest representation with three players each. "I've been to every club and I've watched every club play," commented Murphy. "I think we've covered as many bases as we can possibly cover."
The big surprise in Murphy's squad is former A-League attacker Adrian Caceres, whose only State League appearance was a 40 minute run-out on the weekend for Inglewood United. "When you're playing against the Glory you want the players that can play at that level and he is obviously one of those," said the coach. David Micevski, Antonio Naglieri, Adrian Webster, Ryan Townsend and Marc Anthony have also played at national league level.
The West Australia squad to play Perth Glory is Cyril Sharrock, James Robinson (Armadale), Marc Anthony, Shane Nunes, Adrian Webster (Cockburn City), John Migas, Branimir Mikulic, Johny Mirco (Floreat Athena), Adrian Caceres (Inglewood United), Andy Brown, Ryan Townsend, Phil Straker (Mandurah City), Antonio Naglieri, Andreas Oliviera (Perth SC), Danny Cain (Sorrento), Jason Gavin, Shane Robinson (Stirling Lions) and David Micevski (Western Knights).
GIBBONS AND STONEHILL SHINE AT NATIONALS
Jaymee Gibbons and Tia Stonehill have singled themselves out as potential future internationals after starring for Western Australia at last week's National Youth Championships for Girls in Coffs Harbour. Gibbons oozed class throughout the week-long tournament, demonstrating skill and experience beyond her years to secure an Under-17 All-Stars berth. Stonehill gained the same rewarded for her high-energy game and on the ball skills which kept opposition defences on high alert in the Under-15 tournament.
The State Under-17's kicked their campaign off on Tuesday when defeated 2-1 by South Australia, Lauren Riley scoring for the girls from the west. New South Wales Metro (2-0) claimed the following days game, with Northern New South Wales grabbing a narrow 1-0 win on Thursday morning. Ebony Drane found the net but it wasn't enough to prevent Queensland from taking out the afternoon fixture 2-1. "Half of our squad is eligible to play again next year, highlighting how young the team is, so the girls will learn from this tournament," said Under-17's coach Nicola Williams.
The Under-15 squad went down 3-1 to New South Wales Metro, with Stonehill finding the net, in their first game. Sara Caroll scored in Wednesday's 2-1 loss to Queensland, and the following day Northern New South Wales proved too strong by 4-0. The Under-15's finished off with a scoreless draw against New South Wales Country on Friday. "The kids were fantastic, they battled hard in each match and gained respect from the opposition and their coaching staff," commented Tanya Oxtoby, coach of the Under-15's.
CUP ROUND OF FOUR DRAWN
The semi-final draw for the State League Cup were made on last night's edition of Heritage 107.3FM's Let's Talk Football program. Stirling Lions and Swan United, who played off for the trophy in 2006, come together again at 6PR Stadium on Saturday 24th July. Armadale have been installed as underdogs for the following afternoon's game against Cup holders Floreat Athena at Dorrien Gardens. Who goes through to the finale of the prestigious knock-out competition, will be revealed in less than a fortnight!
JOONDALUP BACK IN TOP FIVE CONTENTION
ECU Joondalup reignited their season by defeating Perth SC 3-1 in this afternoon's game at Dorrien Gardens. Phil O'Callaghan scored twice in the first half to set up the win with Charlie Comyn-Platt scoring Joondalup's third shortly before Hayden Doyle pulled one back with a fine solo effort. "It was a huge win today for us, especially following on from our great win against Western Knights in the last round," said O'Callaghan post-game. "Our confidence is high at the moment and we have to stay focused as we have another tough game next week against Swan."
The first real chance of an evening opening period was lifted just high of the crossbar by Kyle Moran after he'd been played in down by the left by Antonio Naglieri. Joondalup's response sixty seconds later was clinical, O'Callaghan hitting a superb first time shot into the top corner from 22-metres after seizing on goalkeeper Devon Spence's poor clearance. Naglieri looked set to restore parity but after getting his way around 'keeper Andy Petterson the midfielder's shot was cleared off the line by Andy Brown, who was soon after replaced by Mark Tebbut.
Joondalup were dictating terms and on the half hour Jamie Watt's cross from the left struck Craig Simpson on the arm, however, referee Hugh Best was unmoved and play continued. That disappointment was forgotten four minutes later when from the left Chris Wylie picked out O'Callaghan, who headed goal number two in from 6-metres. And Joondalup could have had another shortly after as Jon Higgins waltzed past three opponents only to have low shot superbly saved by Spence. Perth pressed late in the half with half-chances coming the way of Matt Danskin and Simon Wilson.
The rain that fell at the start of the second half did little to dampen Perth's spirits. De Felice and Naglieri combined down the right with the latter's cross picking out Andreas Oliveira, who fired wide at the back post. The game opened up with chances coming at both ends of the park. Perth were almost caught out by Higgins quickly taken free-kick but Spence was thankfully alert and moved swiftly to save low to his right. Petterson was called upon to make a rare save in keeping out Hayden Doyle's low strike after being played down the right by Naglieri.
Joondalup made the game safe on 77 minutes when Garin Collins' cross from the left found an unmarked Comyn-Platt, who made no mistake netting at close-range. Perth were by no means out for the count as soon after Doyle charged forward with the ball, cutting inside the penalty area before finishing clinically past Petterson from 6-metres. The home side continued to push forward and second half substitute Ian McMurray headed wide from a Naglieri cross. The crossbar was rattled by a Naglieri's free-kick from the edge of the area, while McMurray headed wide from close-range after getting on the end of a Danskin cross.
GIBSON ENJOYS SUPERSTAR EXPERIENCE
Teenager Devon Gibson hopes the exposure gained from his appearance on 'Football Superstar' can lead to him playing the game professionally. Gibson, 18, was amongst sixteen players to make the final cut for Fox8's reality television program where a contract with A-League club Brisbane Roar and a one-year scholarship at the University of Queensland is on offer. "I'm really happy with the way the show has gone," he said. "Now I'm encouraging all my mates to try out for it next year."
Gibson almost missed out on trying out for the show as his club, Cockburn City, had a game on the day of trials. "I rang my coach, and he let me go," said Gibson, who was joined on the program by Mandurah City's Jesse Fuller. "The producer told me that day that I had got through so I went straight to the game to tell my coach and all my mates. They were all like 'go Devon!'"
Being on the show was an amazing experience for Gibson. "I've always wanted to be on a reality television show, so to combine that with my love of football has been a dream," he said. "It's been fantastic The mansion was just amazing after we spent our first day on the show camping. That was a bit shocking. We walked into the mansion and our pictures were on the walls, there were tennis courts, a swimming pool."
RUKAVYTSYA RULES OUT RETURN
Australia striker Nikita Rukavytsya ruled out a return to the A-League, despite receiving no formal offers from abroad since his release from Dutch champion FC Twente. Speaking for the first time since cameo appearances off the bench against Germany and Ghana at the World Cup, Rukavytsya expressed a desire to further his career overseas. "The A-League is not something I'm looking at. I want to better myself overseas like a lot of young players and see how far I can go in the game," Rukavytsya told 'the World Game'. "I'm still young and I have a lot to learn and playing in other leagues is I believe going to be the best education for me."
23-year old Rukavytsya is on the radar of a clutch of European clubs but so far no deal has been done. Yet the striker's stocks are high after five goals from 11 games for Belgium club KSV Roeselare during a loan spell last season and a particularly impressive 20 minutes in Australia's opening World Cup match against Germany. "It was great to get some game time in South Africa not just for the experience but obviously to show any clubs out there that might be interested in what I can do," Rukavytsya said. "Obviously I'm keen to sort out my future because I want to get settled as quickly as possible and push on with my career."
Rukavytsya also has one eye on starting spot at the 2011 Asian Cup finals. "I got a taste of playing at the very top level in South Africa and it's made me keener to get back there and push for a Socceroos spot," he said. "I'm not sure how many of the current squad will step aside but I hope the experienced boys don't move on because they still have a lot to offer and a lot to teach the players coming through. People talk about a new generation but you have to remember that every team needs a balance and when you have too many youngsters thrown together can sometimes leave a team short of leadership."
For all his searing pace and undoubted promise, Rukavytsya admits he is far from the finished article and wants to add a more predatory edge to his game. "I know I'm quick and have the ability to go past players, but something which I want to keep improving is my finishing because it's important to make the most of the situations you create for yourself," he said. "Wherever I end up that will be a big thing I'm going to have to work on. I really have only scratched at the surface of what I hope to achieve in my career and I'm excited about the future. In the short term getting a club is obviously top priority. Beyond that I'd love to get a run at the Asian Cup and hopefully stake a claim for a regular place in the squad."
LIFELESS WIN PUTS STIRLING ON TOP
Stirling Lions claimed outright leadership of the Premiership with a 1-0 defeat of Cockburn City on a totally forgettable afternoon at Macedonia Park. A stoppage time goal on the counterattack by Mario Marcinko was all that separated the teams and registered Stirling's fifth successive win. "Cockburn - to their credit - made it tough for us today but we were good enough to get a result," said Paul Lincoln, coach of Stirling. "It's a very even competition and there's a long way to go - we're not getting ahead of ourselves. We've got Sorrento away next week, still got to play Western Knights and Floreat - there's still a lot to play for this season."
There was plenty to indicate that the big crowd was in for a thrilling ride with the early exchanges quick and attack-focused. Shane Robinson shot weakly and Ludovic Boi too close to Dejan Aleksic for the hosts, while down the opposite end Adrian Webster's swerving effort was scooped up by James Turvill. But the game soon enough developed into a midfield arm-wrestle in which neither team ever looked like getting on top. The only genuine thrill came on 41 minutes when Scott Muirhead's cross from the left was brilliantly headed towards the far bottom corner by Marcinko, forcing Aleksic into a superb save at full-stretch.
The second half opened just like the first but neither Jason Gavin nor Shane Nunes were able to capitalise on their chances. The already chilly conditions worsened on the hour when driving wind and rain sent supporters scampering for the stands. The home team thought they had a penalty on 73 minutes when Aleksic appeared to trip substitute Phil Arnold, the referee blew his whistle but only to book the striker for diving. The game looked destined to finish scoreless when Boi threaded the ball into the path of Marcinko, who outpaced the defenders before calmly slotting across Aleksic and inside the far post.
Cockburn boss Tony Castiello couldn't hide his disappointment at conceding such a late goal. "I thought we were good value for at least a draw today," said Castiello, whose team now sits just one point above last place. "To give away the ball in the last minute of the game and to concede a goal like that is always hard to take. But it's all about taking your chances, and they took theirs today. I thought we had a good twenty minute period in the second half where we might have nicked a goal and snatched it, and the lads are gob-smacked that they've lost the game."
CACERES INSPIRES INGLEWOOD COMEBACK (with Geoff Mason, Football West)
New signing Adrian Caceres inspired Inglewood United to a 2-2 draw with Western Knights in a game of two very different halves at Nash Field. The Knights’ first half dominance was rewarded by goals from Daniel Trim and Stuart Montgomery with the visitors’ revival lead substitutes Caceres and Mladen Kovacevic, who each grabbed a goal. “I’m very happy with 2-2 result obviously,” commented Inglewood coach Shane Pryce. “Adrian was the difference for us today and I’m happy with our second half, a point gained is better than a point lost.”
It took the Knights just 2 minutes to assert themselves through clever interplay between Paul Van Dongen and Montgomery which led to an unmarked Trim heading in at close-range. The home side went in search of another and Trim should have done better than head wide from 6-metres following a Montgomery free-kick. Inglewood’s best chance of the half had Ryan Clarke played in by Jake Geddes but his shot was easily saved. Half-time was four minutes away when the Knights gained a penalty, referee Michal Jasinski ruling handball against Daniel Stoitis, with Montomery making no mistake from the spot.
The second half didn’t spark into life until the 63rd minute when a great pass played in Clarke whose touch let him down and Fraser Siddall saved low. Caceres halved the difference two minutes later with a curling 19-metre free-kick which Siddall managed to get a hand on but was unable to keep out of his net. Inglewood were back on level terms in the 78th minute when a Caceres corner was not properly dealt with and Matt Wardle’s deflected shot fell to Kovacevic who fired in from a couple of metres. There were chances for both teams to steal a late victory but at the end of 90 minutes they’d have to be content with a share of the points.
MISSED PENALTY KEEPS SWAN ON THE BOTTOM
Swan United squandered a golden chance to move off the bottom of the league table when held 2-2 by Floreat Athena at the Swan Italian Club. Brendan Knox's failure to convert a twice taken stoppage time penalty kept the black and whites in last place, one point below Cockburn City. "The guy's were superb today, they gave me 100% and deserved all three points, but we failed to get the chocolates today," said Swan's devastated coach Jamie Goodman. "The lads in the dressing room are down at the moment, but if we play like that for the last six games we will be as right as rain. Not many people gave us a chance today but ourselves, and we went close, but not close enough at the end."
The game kicked off with storm clouds hovering above a pitch that had taken a battering from previous days' downpour. Both teams struggled to get to grips with conditions and it took until the 22 minutes for the first shot on goal which James Sammut hit straight at goalkeeper Alex Dunn. Swan continued to take the game up to their more fancied opponents with Tom Shepheard shooting far too close to Dunn. So it was against the run of play that Floreat hit the front on 36 minutes when Branimir Mikulic collected a throw-in and from the edge of the 18-yard box lobbed over Corey Hugo and into the top corner.
It was very nearly two-nil a few minutes later, Johnny Mirco's long-range effort was well saved by Hugo to his left. Swan grabbed themselves a lifeline four minutes before the break when substitute Liam Boland, who'd replace injured colleague Rory Mouttet early on, was brought down inside the area by Jovo Pavlovic. Referee Steven Gregory pointed straight to the spot from where Knox confidently sent Dunn the wrong way to level. The home side wanted the lead and in stoppage time got it through a Sammutt free-kick into the area which Shepheard headed in from 4-metres.
Floreat emerged from the break with greater focus and in quick succession Pavlovic and Mikulic headed past the target, both from Jarred Smith corners. Mirco flashed narrowly wide after being afforded space on the left, then David Perich came to Swan's rescue by blocking Miki Vujacic's goal bound shot. Swan threatened on 75 minutes but Shepheard's lob landed on the top netting. Play soon returned to the opposite end where Hugo saved low a Mirco snap shot. As the minutes ticked down it looked like Swan would hold on, however, in the final minute of regulation time Mikulic headed in the equaliser from James Isaia's delivery.
But the drama wasn't over just yet as two minutes into stoppage time Boland was felled inside the area by Smith, leaving the referee no option but to award a penalty. Knox's spot kick was blocked by Dunn, who was deemed to have moved early, and with the second chance the Swan player blazed high of the crossbar. Floreat player/coach Kovacevic conceded his team got out of gaol following the final whistle. "It was a poor first half display from the side today, we were lucky to be only 2-1 down at the break," Kovacevic said. "I'm happy to get a point, the conditions weren't the best today, and in the end we did well to get something from the game, although we nearly threw it away late."
ROBINSON CLIPS GULLS' WINGS (with Michael Bate, Football West)
A James Robinson hat-trick carried Armadale to a 3-1 victory over Sorrento at Alfred Skeet Oval. Armadale turned around a half-time deficit through an unfortunate own goal credited to Shane Webb and Robinson’s brace which drew nothing but praise from his coach. “He’s always going to score goals, and he’s always going to look dangerous. I think his performance today showed what a quality player he is,” said Brad Hassell, who changed the game by bringing John Watson on at half-time. “I noticed we were getting in behind them out wide but we weren’t really making the most of it. So we brought on another winger and went with two men out wide and pushed further up the pitch.”
The home side were behind after just 5 minutes when Michael Ord’s under-hit back pass was intercepted by Billy Quinncroft, and while he scuffed his shot after rounding goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock the ball rolled across for Dejan Gurovski to tap into an empty net. Sorrento seemed content to sit deep and defend their early lead, a tactic which, coupled with Armadale’s inability to put together any meaningful attacks, led to a fairly dull first half. The hosts best chance came when Steve Porter sent a 27-metre free-kick just centimetres wide of the post. Sorrento could have been two-up at the break but Gurovski was unable to touch Todd Harnwell’s low cross into the net.
Hassell’s decision to introduce Watson and modify his formation for the second half provided Armadale a platform from which to attack. There was a fair dose of luck in the Reds’ equaliser that arrived when Webb’s attempted clearance ricocheted off James Robinson and past a helpless Curtis Aspden with 66 minutes played. The goal seemed to spur on the home side and a lovely move seven minutes later saw Tom Robinson play a neat one-two with Steve Porter before getting to the byline to square for Lewis Flatt, who unfortunately shot straight at Aspden.
That miss was forgotten just a minute later when Ord’s long throw from the left was flicked on by Steve McDonald with James Robinson nodding in to put the Reds two-one up. Tom Robinson nearly rounded off another flowing move with a goal but Aspden held his powerful drive. In the 87th minute Harnwell sent a vicious effort towards the top corner which Sharrock tipped over. The game was in stoppage time when Sorrento won another corner, Aspden pushed forward in hope to grabbing an equaliser only for that ploy to backfire when Armadale cleared the ball to James Robinson who turned his man and fired in his second goal from the halfway line.
BALCATTA PUNISHED BY MANDURAH (with Andrew Harris, Football West)
Mandurah City made the most of their chances to run out 2-0 winners against a luckless Balcatta at the Hyundai Stadium. Mandurah's hopes of a third successive finals appearance were reignited by early goals from Craig Young and Alex Darby, whereas Balcatta's fourth loss in a row plummets them to just two points above last place. But the outcome could have been so very different had Nick Tatasciore then Ashley Rosindale not fired high and wide a couple of early chances for Balcatta to go ahead. These misses was punished in the 5th minute when Reece Veenhoven and Andy Brown combined to put the ball with Rafael Insaurralde, who smartly played it back for Young to lash into the net from the edge of the 18-yard box.
Although stunned, Balcatta regrouped quickly and on 13 minutes fashioned another good opening which Rosendale scuffed wide after being put one-on-one with goalkeeper Phil Straker. The margin was doubled within two minutes, Brown playing the ball into the area where Alex Darby's shot came to rest in the back of the net after taking a deflection off covering defender Corey Wiltshire. Not long after Brown had the ball in the net for a third time only to have referee Matthew Cheeseman controversially rule it out for offside. Balcatta responded with a great switch by Tatasciore to the feet of Lucas Wiltshire but his shot was well held by Straker. The visitors finished the half exactly the way they started and Tatasciore's weak shot failing to test the 'keeper.
The opening twenty minutes of the second half were bogged down in midfield as Mandurah and Balcatta slugged it out for control. The introduction of attack-minded pair Andy O'Neill and Kevin Carmona by Balcatta gave them renewed hope of finding a way back into the game. However, Mandurah countered this by dropping Brown back into midfield in an attempt to hold the lead they had now had for an hour. With eleven minutes to go Mandurah coach Stuart Young brought himself off the bench to add experience and further muscle to the engine room. Balcatta toiled without reward for the goal they deserved in the remaining minutes.
FORRESTFIELD HOLD BUNBURY TO A POINT
Bunbury Forum Force’s hopes of winning the Division One title were dented when held to a 2-2 draw by Forrestfield United at Hartfield Park. The opening exchanges were relatively even before Patrick Quinn’s shot on the quarter hour signalled for Bunbury to step up their game. David Murphy then forced a good low save from the goalkeeper, who soon after parried another fine Quinn strike with Rory Binnie putting the follow-up high. Those misses would be punished in the 38 minute when Lewis Costley powerfully headed in a corner to give Forrestfield a half-time lead.
Forrestfield started the second half much the same way and a speedy attck on the hour led to Jordan Hart being played through one-on-one with Ryan Montgomery, who was unable to keep out his opponnents shot. Only the intervention of Jordan Rispin and Montomgery prevented the margin from being further increased by Jamie Burns. Bunbury finally awoke from their slumber and on 75 minutes David Rodgers halved the difference by heading in a Quinn cross.
Bunbury increasingly applied the pressure over the remaining minutes but found the going tough against a Forrestfield side that was quick to get players behind the ball in a bid to hold onto victory. The game was deep in stoppage time when Rodgers broke the host’s hearts by striking low into the net during a goal mouth scramble. There was stil time for one more drama, Quinn almost stealing a Bunbury victory when his last lasp effort crashed off the crossbar. The shared point was enough to keep Bunbury on top of the table, one point ahead of Bayswater City.
COMFORTABLE WIN FOR WANNEROO
Wanneroo City consolidated third spot on the Division One table by thrashing Ashfield 4-1 on a wet and windy afternoon at Ashfield Reserve. The visitors were quick to get into stride and dominated from the outset. They took a deserved, if lucky, lead after 20 minutes when Guy McDonald’s corner deceived everyone including the Ashfield goalkeeper with the ball hitting the far post and ricocheting into the net. Ashfield were by no means out of the game and had it not been for visiting ‘keeper Clint Davies then John Monterosso and Wayne Culverwell would have found the net.
Seven minutes into the second half Guy McDonald had his shot parried by the ‘keeper and in an instant Jonathon McGahern had whipped the loose ball into an empty net. However, Ashfield were back in the game on 58 minutes when Monterosso charged down the right before crossing for Culverwell to apply a clinical finish from 7-metres. But the home sides’ comeback hopes were squashed on 70 minutes when Nick Timmings expertly controlled and fired in on the turn a cross from twin brother, Dean. Wanneroo’s fourth came via a tidy one-two which allowed Brian Cairney to find the net.
NO TROUBLES FOR GOSNELLS (courtesy Gosnells City)
Gosnells City emerged 4-1 winners from a one-sided affair with Fremantle Spirit at Walter Padbury Reserve. A bright start by the home side had Fremantle goalkeeper Jake Sacco making good save from long-range efforts by Andy Pomfret and Ian Maguire early on. Tom Kennedy found a way past Sacco only for his fine curling shot to crash into crossbar, then the ‘keeper did well to smother at the feet of Sean Lally. Shortly before half-time, and completely against the run of play, Fremantle struck the front through Michael De Souza who finished neatly after the home defence failed to deal with a long ball into the 18-yard box.
Ian Maguire, Pomfret and Scott Devine continued to control the midfield after the break as Gosnells sought to equalise. They need wait only eight minutes before Adrian McBride’s corner fell to Lally, who poked the ball into the net from 7-metres. From there Gosnells began to power away and on 63 minutes substitute Salvador Chavez’s shot from 30-metres dipped into the top corner to the joy of the large home support. A tidy finish from just outside the area gave Lally his second of the afternoon, and with thirteen minutes to go Daiten Twyman completed the scoring with a fine header. The closing stages saw a smattering of half chances from both teams but with no one able to put them away the game finished three-goals in Gosnells favour.
CLACKETT WINS IT FOR ROCKINGHAM (by Ethan Carr)
Rockingham City made it two from two under the leadership of Steve Robinson by defeating Canning City 1-0 at Burrendah Reserve. A topsee-turvee game in which both teams enjoyed periods of dominance was settled by Rob Clackett's long-range strike in the second half. Wesley Ryder and Mark Sheehan were busy early on for the home side with Jay Bonser rock solid in defence. Greg Newcombe really should have put Canning in front but was unable to convert a trio of good chances. Half-time was on the horizon when Rockingham goalkeeper Danny Snelling dived low and to his right to keep out a Danny Trevisoil free-kick that would otherwise have found the net.
Rockingham came out for the second half a much different proposition. The attacking approach bore fruit in the 52nd minute when a poor clearance made its way to Clackett, who return it straight to the back of the net. The game reached a stale-mate midway through the half, leading both coaches to go to their benches for inspiration. Adam Bremner's late dismissal for time wasting opened the door on a late comeback by Canning, however, Bonser headed high and Simon El Chami shot wide. Snelling saw a goalbound Ryder strike out for a corner, that was cleared only as far as Soloman Onyuku who threaded the ball to Bonser and while his shot was too good for Snelling it hit the outside of the post. The whistle sounded soon after to signal another three points for Rockingham.
ELSEWHERE IN DIVISION ONE
Bayswater City moved to within a point of top spot after thrashing Queens Park 5-1 at Coker Park. The home side took a surprise 5th minute lead through Henry Chikombe, however, the teams went into the break on level terms thanks to a Gustavo Marulanda. By the hour mark the game was over as a contest as Damien Catalano netted from the spot and Marulanda completed his hat-trick. Alex Caniglia iced Bayswater's cake by scoring their fifth with eleven minutes to go.
Morley Windmills grabbed a late equaliser to share the points 3-3 with home team Dianella White Eagles. There were goals aplenty early on with Eddie Walsh firing Morley in front, Paul Hickey conjured up a quick equaliser before Dale Wingell added Dianella's second - all that inside six minutes. Dianella went entered half-time with a comfortable two-goal buffer courtesy of an own goal, but eleven minutes after the turnaround the gap was back to one after Walsh bagged his second. Steve Larkin earned Morley a point by scoring four minutes from the end of regulation time.
PREMIER LEAGUE IN PREVIEW
Highlighting Round Sixteen of the Premier League is Stirling Lions' home clash with a vastly improved Cockburn City. Tony Castiello has not tasted league defeat since taking over the coaching helm a month ago, however, history weighs heavily against Cockburn who last won at Macedonia Park in 2005. Adrian Webster, Llewellyn Bake and Devon Gibson have been invaluable of late but creative wide player Jason Dos Santos remains suspended. Stirling defender Bobby Wilson is out for the same reason as Paul Dickson, Shane Robinson and Phil Arnold all come back into the line-up. Stirling verses Cockburn is live on Heritage FM, 107.3FM, from 2.30pm
Adrian Caceres is likely to be handed his Inglewood United debut on their visit to Western Knights. The defensive formation of Darko Ilmonovski, Danny Stotis and Oliver Taseski will have to be on in tip-top form if Inglewood are to continue their recent good form and a reverse last seasons four-goal hiding at Nash Field. Knights captain David Annall is back from injury and pushing for a first eleven spot alongside Stuart Ferguson and Duncan Hind. Simon Versaico may find himself pushed into attack as replacement for suspended striker Anthony Campbell.
Floreat Athena head out on the road to Swan United, who are the only Premier League team without a home win this winter. Coach Jamie Goodman is likely to bring goalkeeper Cory Hugo and midfielder Darragh Kinnevey straight back into the line-up as well as new signing Alan O'Mahony, who has been picked up from Morley Windmills. Floreat collected just one point from their last two league games and anything less than victory could end their title hopes. Johnny Mirco is the danger men in the final third with John Migas and Miki Vujacic providing drive out of midfield.
Balcatta can halt their slide down the table with a strong performance away to Mandurah City. Salv Tadoro's side have been in free fall of late and the contributions of Ashley Rosindale, Ian McKean and Adam Tong are vital to getting their season back on track. Mandurah are just three points above the relegation zone so coach Stuart Young knows how important a win will be. Craig Young and Andy Brown have been excellent touch going forward with Ivan Zuvela and Ryan Townsend forming a solid defensive partnership.
The final Saturday game has Armadale hosting Sorrento in what some have dubbed 'The Battle of Britain'. Steve McDonald, Michael Ord, Lewis Flatt and Cyril Sharrock would each love to score against their former club, and edge Armadale a little further away from the drop zone. Sorrento coach Trevor Morgan is slowly getting back to a full complement of players with Brodie Martin returning last week and James Morgan, Darren Quincroft and Daryl Platten all back in contention for Saturday.
ECU Joondalup can keep themselves in the finals frame by taking home all three points from Perth SC. Spritis could not be higher in the Joondalup camp following a memorable win over the Knights and with Jamie Watt and Phil O'Callaghan firing in attack, and Charlie Comyn-Platt partnering Andy Brown at the back, they have good reason to fancy their chances. It's been a truly miserable month for Perth who've not won in four games and this week have David Onoforo and Shaun Kilkelly out due to suspension. All six games across the weekend start at 3.00pm.
DIVISION ONE IN PREVIEW
Forrestfield United's terrific home record comes under threat when Bunbury Forum Force travels to Hartfield Park. It promises to be a busy afternoon for Forrestfield goalkeeper Kenny Ftynohiannis who faces the daunting task of keeping at bay a free-scoring Bunbury attack lead by local hero David Rodgers. Down the other end of the park young Jamie Burns will attempt to unlock a watertight defensive unit under the command of Jordan Rispin. The midfield battle will be just as intense with Patrick Quinn and Oliver McGee up against Andy Harold and Jonathan Cole.
Morley Windmills are out to avenge an early season loss when they visit near-neighbours Dianella White Eagles. Sime Lozic's suspension coupled with the departure of Alan O'Mahoney and Aidan Murray has prompted Morley coach Peter Johnston to promote some of his club's young talent to the senior line-up. The loan signing of Callum Roberts from Floreat Athena has added bite to Marc Wingell's Dianella line-up, which will be missing Goran Radinovic (suspended) while a heavy injury cloud hangs over Ian Griffiths.
Queens Park's battle for State League survival has them on home soil to second-from-top Bayswater City, whose absences include suspended pair Kailo Karpeh and Cesar Gonzalez. Ashfield will be pulling out all the stops in an attempt to send a six-game winning streak by visitors Wanneroo City. Gosnells City's go in search of back-to-back wins for the first time in close to two months when Fremantle Spirit drop in at Walter Padbury Reserve. Rockingham City heads to Canning City full of confidence after picking up their first win under new coach Steve Robinson.
FROST BITES AT STIRLING
Moving halfway around the world to join Stirling Lions has given Stef Frost a new lease of life. Nottingham-born Frost is enjoying playing out of Macedonia Park where his attacking prowess has been a key feature of the club's surge up the Premier League standings. "It's a great club to play for, we have a great bunch of players and staff around the ground which all support each other," said the 21-year old. "I believe we have the best team in the league, we have created a great team spirit and are working hard for each other on the pitch which is getting us results."
Frost started his career in the youth academy at English club Notts County, where as a teenager he played a handful of first team games. "My highlight was coming off the bench for the first team when I was sixteen against Carlisle United in front of 11,000 fans," Frost said of his April 2006 debut. He played on loan for non-League clubs Gainsborough Trinity and Matlock Town, the latter ending prematurely when he broke his leg. After twelve months out of the game, Frost signed for Hucknall Town in March 2009 before returning to Matlock last October.
Frost arrived at Macedonia Park in pre-season and admits to being pleasantly surprised by the standard of the State League. "It's my first season over here and I love it on and off the park," he said. "The standard of football is better than I expected, which is good as it makes you raise your game and improves you as a player. The new gaffer (Paul Lincoln) has been quality, he's got the team playing well and given the lads confidence and motivation to succeed ... it's great to play for him."
Lincoln has been happy with Frost's on-field contributions and is looking for more of the same as Stirling attempt to win their first league title in fifteen years. "Since Stef moved from a striker's role to the right side of midfield he has improved his performance and has had some telling games," commented Lincoln. "He has pace, strength, works hard and can cross the ball with pin point accuracy. He chips in with the odd goal also which is always good and I think he can get better for us."
Stirling go into Saturday's home fixture with a resurgent Cockburn City minus defensive mainstay Bobby Wilson. But even without his good friend at the back, Frost is confident of Stirling collecting a fifth straight win. "I know Bobby very well, he has been one of my best friends for around four years so I know he is a strong member of our team," said Frost. "I feel we have a good defence with the players we can put in, Cockburn will be a tough game but we can still get the three points."
IT’S MAKE-OR-BREAK FOR FORRESTFIELD
Forrestfield United will be going all out in search of goals when they host Division One leaders Bunbury Force Force on Saturday afternoon. Goal scoring teenager Jamie Burns says his team, currently nine points behind the leaders in fourth, need to score inn order to keep their season alive. “This is a make-or-break game for us. We need the win to have any hope of winning promotion so we’ll be throwing everything at Bunbury and it will be up to them to stop us,” said 19-year old Burns. “This game will be classic with many goals on the cards.”
Burns draws a tremendous amount of inspiration from Forrestfield’s last game, a pulsating 2-1 loss to second-from-top Bayswater City, a team the striker rates as the best in the competition. “It was a great game to be involved in, end-to-end action with both teams having plenty of chances to win the game. Unfortunately we didn’t take ours, if we did then the title race would be wide open,” said Burns. “Bayswater are probably the best side in Division One and for us to take them all the way like we did gives us a huge boost knowing the type of football that we are capable of.”
Also weighing heavily in Forrestfield’s favour is a remarkable home record that’s seen them beaten only once since September 2008. “Our home record speaks for itself. It’s been a massive boost for the club, we are the team who everyone wants to beat. Wanneroo are the only one who can say they came to the fortress and beat us,” said Burns, who laments his teams’ away record. “Our away form has been the biggest disappointment this season but we have strung a few good results away from home and let’s hope we can keep it going for the rest of the season.”
Promotion would be a great deal closer for Forrestfield had it not been for a poor start to the home and away series, the club dropping valuable points with losses to Bunbury, Queens Park and Gosnells City in their first five games. “Those results were very disappointing, especially after the terrific start we had by making the semi-final stage of the Night Series,” said Burns. “It really made the team take a good look at ourselves and made us get back to the basics and start grinding the results out that we so desperately needed to get our season back on track.”
Forrestfield responded by winning six of the following seven games to surge up the Division One table, and Burns is adamant they have not yet finished that climb. “I’m very pleased the way we have been performing in the last few months. We’re playing an attractive brand of football and go into every game confident of getting a result,” said Burns, whose 13 goals have been vital to Forrrestfield’s return to form. “We have set ourselves the goal of winning the rest of our games to give us the best chance possible of promotion.”
The confidence gained from a strong performance against Bayswater is sure to serve Forrestfield well when they take on top-of-the-table Bunbury. Even so, Burns knows how difficult it is going to be to take out the three points against a team which has lost only twice in thirteen league outings. “Bunbury’s main strength a big, agile defence which isn’t scared of putting in a hard challenge,” commented Burns. “Their defensive record is the best in the league so it is always going to be difficult for us to break them down.” Forrestfield lock horns with Bunbury from 3.00pm on Saturday at Hartfield Park.
FOOTBALL COMMUNITY VOTE TO KEEP YOUTH IN STATE LEAGUE
The West Australian football community have sent a very loud and clear message to the powers that be - do not tinker with the State League team structure. The State League Review Project has proposed to replace the existing Saturday league structure of first-reserve-youth by a two-tier format consisting of first and reserve teams only, while flagging the possibility of an elite youth competition being played on Sunday.
However, the recent footballwa.net poll, which asked 'What team structure should be adopted by the State League?', has shown that to be extremely unpopular. A staggering 68% of the votes cast want to keep the status quo - 'First team, Reserves and Youth all playing in Saturday competition'. Just 21% opted for 'First team and Reserves playing on Saturday; Youth to play on Sunday' while 'First team and Reserves playing on Saturday; no Youth team' garnered 11% of the count. 227 votes were cast in the fourteen day polling period.
An unfortunate technical glitch (which meant votes were being counted for only one of the three options) forced us to scrap the concurrent poll, 'What age restrictions should apply to State League Reserve competitions?' This poll has been rebuilt and will run over the twelve days - have your say on the reserve team age requirement by voting now!
FLOREAT LEARN FROM THEIR MISTAKES
Floreat Athena midfielder Miki Vujacic isn't at all concerned by his team picking up just one point from their last couple of league outings. Despite losing to Western Knights and coming from behind to earn a draw with Perth SC, Floreat remain third on the Premier League table, only two points off top spot. "Those results are not a massive concern for us," said Vujacic, matter of factly. "In both games we played well and, in my opinion, we dominated. If we keep working on the mistakes we made against the Knights and Perth then the next time we meet we'll be better prepared to finish them off."
Vujacic readily concedes Nash Field hasn't been a happy hunting ground for Floreat, who three weeks ago were undone by a stunning Daniel Trim volley. "We have a bit of trouble down at Nash Field over the years," Vujacic commented. "The pitch doesn't suit ball playing sides which makes it hard for us - but that excuse is getting a bit tired. Any good side needs to adjust to the environment and we managed to alter our game a bit to combat the conditions, but it was undone by a set-piece and some excellent defending by the Knights."
Eight days later Floreat recovered from being two-goals down to draw with Perth, who had defender Shaun Kilkelly sent off just before half-time. "We were very disappointed with that result, it felt like a loss," said Vujacic. "Perth are always a tough side. They came to Litis Stadium with a very defensive mindset and once they went down to ten-men they defended very well. We created a lot of chances but just couldn't finish - that's usually the difference between the top sides, on any given day they'll both get their chances it's just who's more clinical that gets the result."
Stirling Lions have won seven of their last eight games to roar into contention for regular season honours. "They have a quality side that they've invested a lot of money into, so it makes sense for them to be challenging for top spot," said Vujacic. "The return of Ludo Boi has given them a bit of pace and skill which makes them a dangerous from all angles. And (coach) Paul Lincoln is a very competitive character so I'm sure he has the boys fired up and really fighting to be in contention come the end of the season."
With seven home and away fixtures to play only five points separate the top five teams, many of who slipped up in recent weeks. "The Knights dropping points at ECU Joondalup was a big surprise, and Perth's recent form slump has made the league very interesting," said Vujacic. "We had a our little slump five or six weeks back but have worked on a few defensive issues. Come finals time if we concentrate on limiting the goals conceded and with the attacking qualities we have we will always create chances, then we should be on track to give the finals a good go."
Floreat's push towards the play-offs this weekend takes them to Swan United, a club involved in a dogfight at the opposite end of the table. "It will be very hard game. Every game for Swan is so important for them avoid the drop," said Vujacic, who play three seasons for Swan before joining Floreat in 2007. "An added bonus is the fact that if they win a few games in a row then they are back in contention for finals football. Hopefully, they can start their climb back up the ladder soon, preferably after next week we play them!"
Vujacic feels Swan's major strength this season is a rock-solid defensive line. "They've only conceded 23 goals, when compared to ladder leaders the Knights (20 goals) that's quite good. Robert Monterosso marshals the defence really well, and Mick Van Dongen and Rory Moutett give David Perich and James Sammut the freedom to attack and create chances," said Vujacic. "Even if the results don't show it, we have been playing quite well of late, we're learning to really battle out games when things aren't going our way. We'd better win this one otherwise I'll cop a bit of stick from a few people down there - and I'm not mentioning any names!"
STATE COACH LOOKS FAR AND WIDE
Peter Murphy has cast a wide net as he finalises his Western Australia squad for this month’s friendly with A-League club Perth Glory. The State team play Glory under lights at Litis Stadium on Wednesday 28 July in the ‘Call To Arms Cup’ with part proceeds of every ticket going to the Cancer Council. Murphy had originally intended to name his squad on Monday but delayed the announcement to take in last weekend’s Cup round. “I have now have seen every team in the league, I’ve looked at all the players that are on show,” said the State coach.
Such is the plethora of talent on show in the State League that Murphy has been finding it “very difficult” to select his squad of sixteen for the one-off friendly. “We’ve got twelve teams each with key players and clubs want players selected in the State team,” said the coach. “Unfortunately I’ve only got sixteen places available so we have to do our homework and look at as many players as we can, make sure they’re not injured, make sure they’re not suspended.”
In an ideal world the State team would be an ongoing concern, with the coach assembling and working with a training squad throughout the year. “But this is a one-off game so I don’t want to bring twenty-five players into a squad and tell ten of them they won’t be involved,” he said. “They’ll be sixteen players picked for the night and they’ll all play. That’s probably the fairest method I’ve got because there’s nothing more disappointing than being in a squad and not being involved.”
Murphy puts Western Knights midfielder David Micevski at the top of a list of “four or five” State League players with the potential of stepping up to the next level. “David Micevski had a spell at the Glory prior to the current coach, he is a consistent performer and definitely worth another look,” said the State coach. “But football’s a funny game and it takes a lot of talent, a lot of desire and a lot of dedication, but there is also a factor of a bit of luck and maybe a coach that’s will to stick his neck out and give you a chance. Talent alone won’t get you to the top league.”
There’ll only be time for Murphy to have one or two training sessions with his squad before they face off with Glory at the end of this month. “You have got to be mindful that these guys are in the middle of the State League, they’ve got two training sessions for their club,” he said. “We’ll have a light training session on a Wednesday for tactical organisation, and we’ll play one game against the National Training Centre which will allow myself to change formations through the game to work out which one will work the best against Glory.”
FOSTER ON THE MEND
Striker David Foster is making plans to re-join Sorrento in time for the end of season play-offs. Having battled injury for much of the past twelve months, Foster was nearing the form which won him the Golden Boot in 2004 when he broke a metatarsal in his foot and tore ankle ligaments playing against Inglewood United in late May. "It was a bitter blow for me personally, I'd just started to hit my straps back at the club," said Foster, who returned to Sorrento last summer after spells with Swan United and Floreat Athena. "I should be back in training in about four or five weeks, and hopefully be fully fit for the finals series."
Having progressed from junior to senior football with Sorrento, Foster collected a Cup winners medal with Swan and a League champions medal with Floreat before being lured back home. "When I got the call from Trevor Morgan I thought long and hard about the move," explained the 26-year old. "Once I went down for pre-season training I liked the set-up and the lads so I wanted to stay. Trev has been great this season, he has always been successful at the club. He gets the best out of the players and has great experience in the game."
While a summer exodus had many tipping Sorrento to struggle this season, the close-knit squad have pulled together to be just five point from the top after fifteen games. "I think we lost five regular first team players but the guys (that have come in) have fitted in well. Jason Mirco and Adam Hayton have been great and have formed a good midfield with Glen Thomas and James Morgan. We are fifth at the moment five points clear of sixth - if we can stay in the top five I believe that would be a great achievement for the club."
NEWCASTLE SEEK COVER FOR YOUNG
Newcastle Jets are in the market for an injury-waiver goalkeeper to replace luckless Neil Young for up to the first three months of the A-League season. Young, who showed a safe pair of hands in his nine starts last season, has been through an ordeal since breaking his nose playing against Gold Coast in mid-January. A routine repair operation left the 30-year old in hospital for two months, including two weeks in intensive care, after suffering an allergic reaction to medication. He has since had four lots of surgery, most recently two weeks ago, and faces another operation this month.
Young, who had hoped to be back in full training by the start of next month, is expected to be sidelined until as late as October. Jets coach Branko Culina said Young's health and well-being was the priority and in the interim Newcastle would attempt to sign a stop-gap 'keeper as Ben Kennedy's deputy. "The earliest Neil will probably be back is the end of September, October," Culina said. "He's lost a lot of weight and is still very weak . . . he's a fair way off. We're looking around [for a replacement]. We've obviously got Ben and a couple of young boys but we need to make sure we have cover and competition for Ben.
ASHFIELD PAY HIGH PRICE FOR SIMPLE ERRORS: MCILROY
Division One strugglers Ashfield showed enough fight and spirit in their last outing to indicate they have it in them to pull clear of the relegation zone. Scott McIlroy saw enough of positives from the recent loss to top of the table Bunbury Forum Force to confirm his suspicions Ashfield are on the verge of turning their season around. "Although the result didn't go our way we showed we can match it with a quality team like Bunbury," McIlroy said of Ashfield's performance.
Losing in Bunbury extended a miserable run of results for Ashfield, who are second from bottom after winning just once in eleven games. "We tend play to our strengths - keep the ball on the deck and play good football - but sometimes you need to 'win ugly rather than lose pretty' and play a bit smarter," commented McIlroy. "It's not that we've been playing terrible, just simple errors made defensively as a whole team have been costing us dearly."
Ashfield's injury problems this season have been well documented but McIlroy says the problems run much deeper than that. "Obviously injuries have crippled us at times, but all teams have to endure this so we cannot blame injuries alone," he said. "But more so than injuries to players, it is not being switched on mentally for 90 minutes that has been our biggest issue ... we've conceded many goals late in games due to this."
McIlroy says the influence of the club's 'older heads' is the key to their season. "Gary Murdoch and Trevor Hatton are back from injury and along with Leo Harman, Paul Dundo and myself we have to lift the lads and instil in them a sense of self belief," said McIlroy. "We've had no issues scoring goals - Canning City and Dianella White Eagles was evidence of that - it's just not conceding them that we will continue to work on."
The coming month has the potential to shape Ashfield's future with the club taking on Fremantle Spirit, Morley Windmills and Rockingham City. "If we can get two wins out of those three games then it would put a bit of distance between us and any teams below - which isn't many at the moment!" stated McIlroy. "But all three of these teams have quality players, are well coached and will be fighting tooth and nail just like us to ensure that they don't end up in the precarious position that we find ourselves in."
Ashfield's immediate attention is focused on Saturday's visit by Wanneroo City, who've won eight of their last nine games. "They are very disciplined in their roles and hard-working all across the park," said McIlroy. "If we can get the three points then that would be great - but in the end it's about building upon our performances of recent weeks, rectifying any issues defensively we have had and playing to our strengths. By taking that into our upcoming month of games we hopefully will see us move up the ladder."
COYNE TO KICK ON IN CHINA
Perth Glory will go without defender Chris Coyne for a significant part of the coming A-League season after striking an agreement to remain on loan with Chinese club Liaoning Hongyun. The club are also bracing for the absence of Coyne's younger brother, Jamie, and midfielder Adriano Pelligrino with both chasing overseas deals. Chris Coyne has excelled in the Chinese Super League since joining Liaoning in April and Glory have allowed his deal to be extended through until November.
Jamie Coyne is believed to have flown to China last week in the hope of signing a deal in the same competition as his brother, although not with the same club. Pellegrino has been impressing in trials with Scottish club Dundee following a spell at Motherwell. "Teams are only just back in training but by all accounts people have been impressed with him," said Glory coach David Mitchell, who was recently in Adelaide looking at potential replacement players. Glory's A-League campaign commences with a home fixture against North Queensland Fury on 6 August.
NEW ROCKINGHAM COMMITTEE ANNOUNCED
Division One club Rockingham City have elected a new committee to guide them into an exciting new phase in the club's history. One hundred and twenty enthusiastic club members turned out in force last Wednesday night to elect an eight person committee that will be led by president Clive Higgins. "The club is aiming to be the premier sporting association in the City of Rockingham," Higgins explained. "With assistance from all members and supporters, we are looking to build on the proud traditions that began forty years ago."
Higgins is joined on Rockingham's executive committee by Tony Hunter (vice-president), Andre Clay (secretary), Ann Farrow (treasurer) and committee members Brian Kennedy, Gary Snelling, Aaron Lord and Mike Tetlow. The City of Rockingham, who have played a vital role in assisting the club during a period of change, remains represented at the club by chief executive Tony Solin, who is joined by two as yet unappointed facilitators from the Council.
Football West chief executive Peter Hugg is thrilled with the announcement and maintained that the sport’s peak body is always here to help any club that finds itself in difficulty. "I am pleased to see that the passion for the game is alive and well in Rockingham and that the new committee has enthusiastically taken on this challenge to help shape the future of this great club in the region," he said. "Football West was pleased to be able to help given the past circumstances and will continue to do so for the future of this proud club."
EIGHT REFEREES TO OFFICIATE NATIONALLY (courtesy Football West)
Football West is pleased to announce that eight Western Australia referees have been selected for the coming summer of national league football. Mathew Cheeseman, Joe Fusari, Josh Mannella and Michael Nugus will run the line in the A-League, with Cheeseman also chosen to referee National Youth League matches along with Josh Mihevc. Trent Fleskens, Tim Mihevc and Stuart Muldoon will be assistants for National Youth League fixtures.
Muldoon, son of 2005 State League Referee of the Year Steve Muldoon, makes his first appearance on the national referee's panel at the age of 18. "This is a just reward for a young man who has progressed through the ranks due to his commitment and dedication to the art of officiating," said referee development manager Eddie Lennie. "This should be seen as an encouraging sign for the future development of our younger referees." The 2010/11 A-League season kicks off early next month.
GARCIA FOCUSES ON NEXT CHALLENGE (courtesy the 'West Australian')
Australia's participation in the Asian Cup can help lay the foundations for a third successive appearance on soccer's biggest stage, according to Richard Garcia. Western Australia's first World Cup Socceroo is convinced the nation will qualify for Brazil 2014, despite the retirement of several senior members of the team. Defenders Scott Chipperfield and Craig Moore have already called time on their international careers, while skipper Lucas Neill, Mark Schwarzer, Harry Kewell, and Mark Bresciano, Vince Grella, and Brett Emerton are in the twilight of theirs.
Garcia, who played in two of the Socceroos' three World Cup matches in South Africa, is confident Australia have the depth to push on towards another finals tournament. "Two World Cups in a row is a great achievement. Imagine how it would be to qualify for another one?" Garcia told Jonathon Cook of the 'West Australian' newspaper. "There's certainly enough good players coming through. It's just a matter of them getting the experience they need to feel comfortable at that level."
Garcia said the Asian Cup can provide the team with much-needed big-match experience. Just as great emphasis is placed on the European Championships and the African Cup of Nations elsewhere in the world, Australia must make the most of the Asian equivalent. "The Asian Cup is something that's taken a little bit lightly in Australia but it's our European Championship," Garcia said. "Players need to be in that tournament atmosphere, instead of one game here and there. It's almost a skill to play in a tournament because it's game after game. You are playing for results, not the spectacle."
INGLEWOOD LOOKS TO CACERES FOR A LIFT
Inglewood United are banking on the attacking drive of Adrian Caceres’ to pull them clear of the relegation zone. Argentina-born Caceres, signed by Inglewood shortly before the transfer deadline, brings with him decade of experience and know-how from a professional career in Australia and England. “He comes with a wealth of experience and the talent he has can only benefit our younger squad members,” commented Inglewood coach Shane Pryce, whose team are one of six within three points of last place in the Premier League.
Pryce is familiar with what Caceres has to offer having been Glory team mates in 2002/03. “I’ve known Adrian from my days at Glory when he was just starting his career,” explained the Inglewood coach. “He’s a player who can slow the game down and set the tempo, and he’s more than capable of scoring and setting up other players. He still has a lot to offer and I have no doubt that you will see him in the A-League after his stint with us, the club has done well to gain his services.”
Caceres initially made his mark with Perth SC before trying his luck with English clubs Southampton, Brentford and Hull City. After a couple of seasons with Glory he returned to England for spells with Yeovil Town, Wycombe Wanderers and Aldershot Town. Caceres was back with Glory for the start of the A-League in which he’s also played for Melbourne Victory, Central Coast Mariners and most recently Wellington Phoenix. He chalked up a total of 149 national league games in Australia plus another 39 outings in England.
MITCHELL REVEALS FOWLER PLAN
Perth Glory boss David Mitchell will use his club's pre-season trip to China to shape his team and tactics around star recruit Robbie Fowler. Mitchell said the twelve-day training camp, for which Glory will be based at the state-of-the-art Qinhuangdao training centre, will be vital to their season. "Robbie's been good," said Mitchell prior to flying out on Friday. "We've got to be careful we don't overwork him. He's done most of the things, he had a bit of a rest in the last couple of days which is good, but in China he will be made part of the shape and team tactics." Glory will have up to three training sessions a day and play one friendly, against Tianjin Teda, while in China.
FLOREAT UNTROUBLED BY SORRENTO (by Chris Correia, Football West)
State League Cup holders Floreat Athena are though to this year’s semi-finals courtesy of a comfortable 3-0 win against Sorrento at Litis Stadium. Paul Vatistas, an own goal by Ryan Sheppard and a late Jonny Mirco penalty settled an affair in which the home team’s midfield dominance made life very difficult for Sorrento. It didn’t take Floreat long to move into attack with Jarrad Smith putting an early shot narrowly wide, and a Miki Vujacic cross somehow evading all inside a crowded 18-yard box. In between these Adam Hayton volleyed wide at the other end after being brilliantly set up by Jason Mirco.
The opening goal arrived after 24 minutes when Vatistas found himself in the right place at the right time to head in from a set-piece. Floreat pushed on in search of a second goal and it would have come via John Migas had Todd Harnwell’s a challenge not denied the defender moments before he pulled the trigger. Billy Quinncroft demonstrated great skill in controlling the ball before attempting to flick over Alex Dunn, who had no trouble gathering his opponents powerless effort. Sorrento’s hopes of pulling a goal back were dashed in the 42nd minute when Sheppard inadvertently put a cross into his own net.
Sorrento shook off the disappointment of being two-goal down with a concerted second half attempt to get back into the game, however, they found it difficult to break down a home defence led by player/coach Ante Kovacevic. Down the other end Vatistas and Daniel Neiderberger each had squandered golden opportunities to extend Floreat’s lead. Mirco was proving a handful for the visiting defence and on 81 minutes got the goal he deserved by continued by converting past Curtis Aspden from the spot after he’d been taken down by Sean Webb. The goal ended any faint dreams the Gulls had of a late revival while keeping on track Floreat’s quest for back-to-back Cup trophies.
MARVELLOUS MARCINKO PUTS STIRLING INTO LAST FOUR (by Michael Bate, Football West)
Mario Marcinko scored both goals when Stirling Lions defeated Balcatta 2-0 in their State League Cup quarter-final at Grindleford Reserve. The powerful young striker netted once in each half as Stirling scored their second away win over Balcatta in eight days. Despite their dominance, Stirling coach Paul Lincoln was far from happy with his side’s first half performance. “We were sloppy in the first half - we made mistakes and on another day a side like Balcatta would have punished us,” he said. “The lads were quiet at half time, but we had a few words and they responded and played much better in the second half.”
The game got off to a frantic start with Scott Muirhead volleying into the side-netting, then down the other end Nicholas Tatasciore’s effort flew over the crossbar. Stirling grabbed a 5th minute lead, Ludovic Boi playing Marcinko in behind the Balcatta backline where he showed great confidence in rounding advancing goalkeeper Bobson Koroma before rolling the ball coolly into an empty net. Marcinko could have had a second just five minutes later but Koroma acrobatically kept his header out of the top corner. Andy O’Neill tried to catch James Turvill off his line with an audacious 35-metre chip which was a little too low and the Stirling ‘keeper made a comfortable catch.
In tormenting the home defence with his potent combination of speed and strength, Marcinko cheekily lifted the ball back over his head to catch out Koroma, who was pleased when the attempt hit the post. Koroma was at the centre of some controversy in the 29th minute when he collided with Marcinko just inside the 18-yard box, referee Steven Gregory dismissed Stirling’s strong penalty appeals and instead signalled a goal kick. Balcatta nearly found themselves back in the game on the stroke of half time but Igor Ilikj’s powerful strike came back off the crossbar and Adam Tong’s follow-up header was weak and easily captured by Turvill.
Despite this late scare, Stirling displayed the greater composure after the break with the home side getting very few chances to score. The visitors put the game to bed in the 74th minute, Marcinko again latching onto a ball played in behind the defence which he tucked inside the far post from a tight angle. With this Balcatta finally burst back into life and twice in ten minutes were denied penalty claims, one for handball and the other a trip on Matt Italiano. With the home side tiring Marcinko, Boi and Lujan started to enjoy themselves in the attacking third, putting together a number of flowing attacking moves but unable to score a third.
BARLOW GIVES COCKBURN THE BLUES with David Cameron, Football West)
A quality second half hat-trick from Matt Barlow has sent Armadale into the last four of the State League Cup. Reduced to ten-men in first half stoppage time, Armadale showed their fighting qualities by brilliantly overturning a one-goal deficit with a masterful display of attacking football inspired by Barlow. “We trained hard during the week and were very focused,” said Armadale coach Brad Hassell. “From the first whistle we took the game right up to them. We’re going to give the Cup a good go, this club hasn’t won anything, trophy wise, of late so we are really keen to give it our all.”
The first twenty minutes were a cagey affair with both teams reluctant to take any risks. Cockburn fashioned the first genuine chance just before the half hour when Marc Anthony’s free-kick from the edge of the 18-yard box forced Cyril Sharrock to move sharply and palm the ball to safety. Two minutes later Cockburn had the lead when, after a considered build-up, Anthony Pereira flicked the ball beautifully into the path of Adrian Webster who made no mistake finding into the bottom corner from 8-metres. A fierce Jason Goodwin tackle drew a booking from referee Hugh Best who, after consulting with his assistant, decided the challenge warranted it a red card offence.
Armadale seized the initiative after the break by playing attacking football despite the fact they had only ten men on the park. They were rewarded with a 50th minute equaliser, Marlon Ramirez beating two defenders before sending a well-weighted cross to the back post where an unmarked Barlow nodded the ball back across Dejan Aleksic and into the far corner. Barlow doubled his and Armadale’s tally ten minutes later by exquisitely touching a Ramirez pass around his marker before calmly evading Aleksic to tap into an empty net.
A stunned Cockburn tried to get back into the game but in the 77th minutes their Cup dream was effectively ended by Barlow. In a set-piece straight off the training ground, Steve Porter played a free-kick to the back post where towering defender Steve McDonald nodded the ball across to Barlow, who was presented with the simple task of heading into the back of the net. However, Cockburn refused to give up the chase and two minutes later reduced the deficit during a scramble on the goal line which Rory Feely poked into the net. But it was a case of too little too late for Cockburn who had been being undone by an attacking Armadale line-up spearheaded by import Barlow.
SWAN FORCE OUT BUNBURY
Bunbury Forum Force’s Cup run came to an end when defeated 3-1 by Swan United at the Swan italian Club. James Sammut’s opening goal was cancelled out by Patrick Quinn just before the break with Brendan Knox and David Perich netting after the turnaround to earned Swan victory. “It was a typical Cup game, they had nothing to lose, so I’m happy with the 3-1 result at the end of the day,” said Swan coach Jamie Goodman. “We dominated the first twenty minutes of each half and once we scored we sort of went back into our shell. I was disappointed with the goal and the time we conceded it, but to the lads credit they came out second half and dug deep and came away with the win.”
It was the home side that began the better with Sammut and Tom Shepheard both denied by Ryan Montgomery while Perich heading wide inside ten minutes. Their rewarded arrived on the quarter hour when Mick Van Dongen threaded a pass through to Sammut, who arrowed the ball in from an acute angle. Bunbury carved out their first chance in the 24th minute when DJ Mayers caught out the home defence with a quick corner but Gino Comito’s header drifted past the far post. The visitors continued to press and on the half hour goalkeeper Daniel Agudelo got down low and keep out a long-range Mayers strike. A stoppage time error by Robert Monterosso gifted possession to Patrick Quinn, who rounded the ‘keeper to fire into an empty net.
The injection of David Murphy and Lee Stewart almost had an immediate impact for Bunbury with the latter about to pull the trigger when Monterosso made amends for this earlier mistake with a last ditch tackle. After that escape, Swan pressed forward and on 53 minutes Darragh Kinnevey found Brendan Craig and his shot from 8-metres was well saved by Montgomery. However, there was little the Bunbury custodian could do two minutes later when Craig’s cross from the left fell for Perich, and while he miss-hit Knox was on hand to net from close-range.
The final fifteen minutes were pretty much one-way traffic. Jonathan Krawec volleyed narrowly high, Oliver McGee twice went close from distance while claims for a penalty were dismissed after Quinn’s goal bound strike appeared to hit Monterosso on the arm. Montgomery kept alive Bunbury hopes to a comeback by thwarting Liam Boland after being played in by Sammut. Stewart beat Agudelo only for Rory Mouttet to clear from on the line, and soon after Quinn volleyed against the bar. The match was settled on 89 minutes when Boland surged inside the area and pulled the ball back for Perich to fire in from 14-metres.
Although it was Swan who were celebrating with the final whistle, Bunbury can hold their heads high having beaten ECU Joondalup in the last round and pushed Swan all the way this afternoon. “We threw a few young kids into the side today and they did okay,” said Bunbury coach Gary Mayers. “We hit the crossbar three times, if one of those goes in it’s a different game, but they were a little bit smarter than us today. We are disappointed today, but we’re concentrating on the league and that’s our main goal. It would have been nice to have a bit of a fairytale in the Cup but it wasn’t to be.”
CUP IN PREVIEW
The drama and excitement that is knock-out football takes centre stage on Saturday in the form of the State League Cup quarter-finals. Litis Stadium hosts the blockbuster between trophy holders Floreat Athena and Sorrento, who are seeking to lift the Cup for the first time in their 37-year history. Both cruised through the last round - Floreat demolishing Ashfield 5-1 and Sorrento 4-1 victors over Olympic Kingsway - with their last league meeting being a tense 2-2 draw. Johnny Mirco and Branimir Mikulic loom as key figures for the hosts, whereas Sorrento's Adam Hayton and new signing Joe Lamplough have made their presence known in recent weeks.
Local rivals Balcatta and Stirling Lions face off for the second time in eight days at Grindleford Reserve. Stirling won last weekend's league encounter 3-2 and which teams starts the stronger could well be what decides who goes through to the last four of the Cup. Early impressions are of another goal-fest with Ashley Rosindale rediscovering his knack for finding the net and Mario Marcinko hitting four goals in two games. Lucas Whitehouse and Matt Italiano are crucial figures for Balcatta's going forward but will need to work hard to penetrate a tight defensive line-up led by Bobby Wilson and Michael Pugliese.
Cockburn City will be hoping history does repeat itself when they take on Armadale at Alfred Skeet Oval. The Cockerels extended their unbeaten run to five games, hitting four unanswered first half goals to overpower Armadale 4-1 in the league last week, and a similar performance is bound to put them into the last four of the Cup. Armadale coach Brad Hassell needs big efforts from import striker James Robinson, captain Michael Ord and towering defender Steve McDonald to keep alive his teams hopes of lifting silverware this season.
Bunbury Forum Force, the only Cup survivor from outside the top flight, have nothing to lose from their trip to Swan United. Rory Binnie secured Bunbury's participation in the round of eight by scoring late against ECU Joondalup last month, and with the likes of Oliver McGee, David Rodgers and Patrick Quinn firing on all cylinders they'll be confidence of causing another upset. Swan snuck into the quarter-finals by defeating Morley Windmills and, winless in four league games, will be banking on strong support from their home fans. The action in all four State League Cup quarter-finals starts at 2.30pm.
BALCATTA SEEKING TO AVENGE STIRLING LOSS
Revenge will rate highly when Balcatta tackles Stirling Lions in tomorrow's State League Cup quarter-final at Grindleford Reserve. It's been only a few days since Balcatta suffered a 3-2 league loss to Stirling and coach Salv Todaro expects to see a much stronger performance from his side on Saturday. "I was disappointed with the final result last week," he said. "We defended quite poorly, giving away the first two goals and the penalty (scored by Bobby Wilson) was rather soft and took some stuffing out of the boys. But I was pleased with the way we finished the game, with Stirling hanging on at the end."
Exciting young striker Mario Marcinko, scorer of four goals in Stirling 10-1 Cup mauling of Queens Park, is confident his team can better last week's performance. ""We've won a few games in a row now and the team is starting to gel nicely," said Marcinko, who was also on the scoresheet against Balcatta last week. "It was a tough game as we were missing a few players. I felt we dominated the game but didn’t put the result beyond doubt and let Balcatta into the match on two occasions."
Marcinko expects what each team learned about the other last Saturday to be put into effect this time around so, understandably, is tipping another tight game. "Everyone says that in this league anyone can beat anyone on the day - and that's even more so in a knock-out Cup game, so we will have to be on our game," Marcinko said. "We should have a few players back from injury and suspension this week, and hopefully we will still be fighting for all the silverware come Sunday."
Although he has a number of players unavailable, Todaro remains upbeat about Balcatta's Cup progression. "Adam Stillitano is away interstate, Ian McKean is Cup-tied, Jack Clisby is injured and Anthony Jones is suspended. But that gives others an opportunity to step in and we will be giving it our best shot," said the coach. "We had some good signs last week with some players coming back into a little bit of form after a couple of weeks where we struggled a bit. Our confidence may have taken a bit of a battering but we are keen for revenge."
RIGHT ATTITUDE WILL GET US THROUGH: FEELY
Cockburn City can extend their unbeaten run to six games by getting the better of Armadale in tomorrow's State League Cup quarter-finals. Young striker Rory Feely singled out the arrival of coach Tony Castiello last month as the turning points in their season. "I think we were just down on confidence, we were always confident in our abilities as individuals and a team but the results just weren't happening," said Feely. "Thankfully we've changed that round - the defence is solid, the midfield and the strikers have found out what works and as a result we are scoring goals."
Feely knows Armadale will be fired up for Saturday's game after being thrashed 4-1 in the league by Cockburn last week. "No doubt Armadale will be looking to knock us out of the Cup as revenge for their loss. We really need to prepare well for the game and realise that the goals will certainly not come as easily," said Feely, who scored once last week. "Armadale will be aware of our strengths and will do their best to shut us down. It's important we approach this game with the right attitude and forget about last week, if we do that I'm confident we can progress to the next round."
BUNBURY TAKES CUP BONUS AS IT COMES
Saturday's appearance in the State League Cup quarter-finals is being treated as a bonus game by Bunbury Forum Force. Manchester-born Oliver McGee, says the Cup tie with Swan United won't distract his team from their goal of finishing on top of the Division One pile and claiming their place in next year's top flight. "Our focus is the league and the league only," stated McGee, who was signed during the off-season from the University of WA. "The team we put out still will be strong enough to compete with Swan and if a Cup win comes then we will gladly take it. But if not it doesn't matter, the Cup is not our priority."
Currently top of Division One, Bunbury have nothing to lose from the weekend's fixture at Swan. The south west club caused a major upset last month when Lee Stewart, James Bergin and Rory Binnie found the net to send ECU Joondalup toppling out of the Cup, while their most recent outing was a comfortable 3-1 win against Ashfield. "We just went about our business," commented McGee, who masterfully controlled the flow of play through midfield against Ashfield. "We're taking every game as it comes, we know if we win them all we win the league – simple." Swan hosts Bunbury at the Swan Italian Club from 2.30pm on Saturday.
WILLIAMS ROW RUMBLES ON
Rhys Williams will miss the start of the English Championship season with Middlesbrough manager Gordon Strachan saying the defender had 'no chance' of representing Australia at the World Cup. A pelvic injury robbed Williams, , of a place in Pim Verbeek's 23-player squad for South Africa with the Socceroos coach laying the blame squarely at Strachan's feet. Verbeek's allegation infuriated Middlesbrough who swiftly rejected any suggestion that Williams had played when not fit to perform.
Williams has been instructed to remain in Perth to receive the best possible treatment. "Rhys won't be back for the immediate future. He'll not be back for the beginning of the season, that's for sure," Strachan told the 'Evening Gazette'. "He'll stay in Australia. There's a specialist there who's not with the Australian FA, he's a specialist that our head physio Grant Downie knows and he'll stay there for a while."
Strachan remains frustrated that Williams joined the Australian World Cup squad in the first place. "We knew Rhys had no chance of playing in the World Cup Finals," he added. "I told the Australian people that the lad would struggle but they said they were happy with what they'd seen and that they would make him better for the World Cup Finals. Being a young man, he wanted to try his best to get into the World Cup squad, which is understandable, and that's why he tried to get fit for the last couple of our games last season ... but he wasn't fit - I knew and he knew he could only do a certain amount."
ARMADALE MOVE ON FROM WORST GAME OF THE SEASON
Striker James Robinson says Armadale have absolutely no intentions of repeating last week's dismal performance when they host Cockburn City in Saturday's State League Cup quarter-finals. The Reds slipped to second from bottom in the league after crashing 4-1 to Cockburn, who rammed in four unanswered first half goals. "We will be looking to make amends on Saturday, I don't think that they can play better than they did last week and I don't think we can play worse," commented Robinson.
Despite the magnitude of that loss, Robinson says there were some positives to come out of the game for Armadale. "It was a poor display from us in the first half ... we pressed them higher up the pitch in the second half and were much better but it was too late by then," stated Robinson, whose team grabbed a late consolation via Steve McDonald. "We just need to learn where we went wrong and make sure those mistakes doesn't happen again or our season could be over." Armadale takes on Cockburn City at Alfred Skeet Oval from 2.30pm on Saturday.
MELBOURNE SWOOPS ON PETKOVIC
Veteran goalkeeper Michael Petkovic will wear Melbourne Victory colours this summer after agreeing to a one-year contract with the two times A-League champions. A three-time National Soccer League Goalkeeper of Year during his six seasons with South Melbourne, Petkovic returns to Australia after eight successful years in Norway and Turkey. He replaces Australian youth international Mitch Langerak who recently joined Borussia Dortmund in Germany’s Bundesliga.
Petkovic expects to have to fight for the role as the club's number one custodian with New Zealand international Glenn Moss. "I'm just a squad member of 23 and I've got to prove myself and get myself fit and make sure that I'm the man for the job," said Petkovic. "I didn't have any expectation that I would be a walk-in for the number one. Mossy is an international and he's performed well over the years and we're both competing for that number one spot."
Capped six times by Australia, Petkovic believes he's a better 'keeper now than when he departed Australia for Lillestrom in 2001, followed by stints at Trabzonspor and Sivasspor in Turkey. "I'm certainly more experienced," he said. "I probably played a couple of hundred games in the NSL and another couple of hundred overseas, so you're looking at 400 games in a professional career. I've learned a lot and hopefully become a better goalkeeper for it."
Shoulder and wrist injuries restricted Petkovic to just 15 appearances with Sivasspor last season, but he's now over his fitness issues and looking forward to winning titles with the Victory. "I was ready to come home ... but I still want to perform at the highest level and also to win something," Petkovic said. "I left South Melbourne winning trophies and towards the end of my career I would love to win another trophy and the Melbourne Victory is probably the best club to give me that opportunity."
Petkovic is hopeful of playing on with Victory beyond his one-season deal. "Obviously I'm from Perth, but I just wanted to see how I go after the first year," he said. "If things go well and things become successful between the club and I then I would definitely be interested in going on as long as I can. I started my professional career in Melbourne and to finish my professional career in Melbourne is something I probably always dreamed of doing."
Petkovic said he'd followed the A-League closely via cable television from Turkey and had marvelled at the changes to the domestic game in the eight years he's been away. "You just look at the stadium here now and the support that Melbourne get, it's changed and awful lot from when I playing in the NSL," he said. "It's changed hugely and it's great to see because you want to play in this type of environment week-in, week-out."
CONFIDENT WEBB EXPECTS SORRENTO TO ADVANCE
Sorrento are confident of getting a result from this weekend’s State league Cup quarter-final clash with Floreat Athena. A solid run of results have propelled the Gulls into contention for regular season honours and teenage defender Shane Webb sees no reason why that form can’t be carried over into the prestigious knock-out competition. “Floreat are performing well in the league but we drew 1-1 there earlier in the season and I can’t see why we can’t go one better on Saturday,” Webb said. “We will get some players back in the squad for the game and if we perform at our best we will come away with the goods.”
While he readily admits beating Floreat isn’t going to be easy, Webb says there is no good reason why the Gulls can’t carry their good league form over into Cup competition. Their never-say-die character was never more evident that last weekend when Brodie Martin and Joe Lamplough scored in the final twenty minutes to register a 2-1 victory at Swan United. “It was hard fought game against Swan, as we knew it would be,” commented Webb. “We battled back from one-nil down and ended the game the better to take the points.” Floreat hosts Sorrento to Litis Stadium from 2.30pm on Saturday.
BUNBURY ‘A VERY STERN TEST’: MOUTTET
Veteran defender Rory Mouttet says victory against Division One outfit Bunbury Forum Force could be the tonic to Swan United’s ailing season. A succession of losses has tumbled the black and whites down the Premier League table so a Cup win could be what’s required to turn things around. “It’s important for our confidence to get a win on the board and also obviously to reach the semi-finals,” said Mouttet. “Bunbury will be a very stern test for us, they are top of Division One and have a very good side from all accounts so we’ll have to be at our best to go through.”
Swan have picked up just one point from their last four league outings, the most recent of which saw Sorrento come from behind to claim a 2-1 win. “We feel that the way we have played over the last few weeks is deserving of a lot more than one point,” commented Mouttet. “We are all very disappointed with the result on Saturday. Sorrento came back hard at us and they deserved the win. It just shows how quickly a game can change. All we can do is continue to match the same intensity every week and with a little bit of luck start getting the results we need.”
FIFA TO PROBE AUSTRALIAN WORLD CUP BID ALLEGATIONS
FIFA is investigating whether Australia's bid to host the 2022 World Cup has broken ethics rules by offering illegal gifts and inducements. The investigation was prompted by this weeks report in the 'Sydney Morning Herald' that said the bid campaign offered pearl cufflinks to members of FIFA's executive committee and necklaces to their wives. But the Australian bid team believes it will be cleared of any wrongdoing over that claim because the gifts were handed out after a private dinner organised by Football Federation Australia chairman Frank Lowy some seven months before the official bidding process began. Australia are competing with the United States of America, Japan, Qatar and South Korea to host the 2022 World Cup.
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