HAROLD AND ZAHRA COMMIT TO GLORY
Perth Glory have moved quickly to replenish their stocks after last week’s clear-out with the recruitment of attack-minded youngsters Chris Harold and Adrian Zahra. 19-year old Harold, who turned out last season for Gold Coast United, has signed a two-year contract while former Melbourne Heart player Zahra, 21, is believed to be on a one-year deal. “We identified that we needed to inject some youth and speed into our squad and both players fit the bill,” Perth Glory coach Ian Ferguson said. “Chris Harold is a young West Australian who can play a variety of positions in midfield and out wide. It’s also great to add Adrian, we watched quite a lot of him this season as he recovered from a serious knee injury.”
Zahra has not played a senior A-League match since injuring knee ligaments 15 months ago while on duty for Melbourne A product of Melbourne Knights youth system, he was named the Victorian Premier League Under-21 Player of the Year in 2010 after which he stepped into the A-League. The right winger made 19 appearances for Melbourne in 2010/11 but missed all of the recent season through injury. “I am delighted to sign with Perth Glory and really want to thank Ian Ferguson for the opportunity,” said Zahra, who had a year left on his Melbourne deal but was released by mutual consent to join Glory. “Perth had a great season and I’m looking forward to starting a new chapter.”
Harold was born in Perth but grew up in Singapore and Malaysia before his family settled in Brisbane. Over the past couple of years he made 25 A-league appearances and represented Australia at youth level but signed on with Glory following the demise of Gold Coast. “I am really excited to prove myself at a club that made it all the way through to the grand final and got so close to winning the Championship,” Harold said. “Moving back to Perth is a fresh start and I’m keen to try and make my mark.” Harold will arrive in Perth in June after completing a semester at university where he is studying law-commerce.
GLORY BRING WARD HOME
Perth Glory have confirmed the recruitment of West Australian midfielder Nick Ward for next season. 27-year old Ward re-joins the club fresh from a two-season stint with Glory’s A-League rival Wellington Phoenix, for whom he made 46 appearances. “It’s exciting to be returning to Perth Glory,” said Ward, who collected the A-League’s inaugural Young Player of the Year award in 2005/06 as a Glory player. “The club is coming off a great finals campaign and hopefully we can go one step better next season.”
Ward, who started out locally with ECU Joondalup and Stirling Lions, initially joined Glory for the 2003/04 National Soccer League campaign when he made two appearances. He added a further 21 outings in the first A-League season before heading abroad to join English club Queens Park Rangers, a spell which took in a loan to Brighton and Hove Albion. He returned to Australia in 2007 with Melbourne Victory and was part of their Championship/Premiership double winning squad of 2008/09. He moved to Wellington in 2010.
Glory are understood to be close to confirming the capture of exciting 21-year old winger Adrian Zahra. The former Melbourne Heart player has not played senior football since suffering a serious knee injury 15-months ago. 19-year old striker Chris Harold, who was born in Perth but grew up in Brisbane, is also believed to be close to signing following the demise of his former club, Gold Coast United. Coach Ian Ferguson has identified the need for another central defender, an attacking midfielder and a left winger.
LATE SHOW PUTS FLOREAT IN THE CLEAR (with George Tsadilas, Football West)
Floreat Athena continued their winning streak with a stunning 3-1 victory over Balcatta at Litis Stadium. Despite going a man down with the early dismissal of Liam Boland and conceding just after the break to John Migas, the home side rallied with to level through Mark Pritchard. And that’s how the game looked like finishing when David Heagney and Jarrad Smith snatched victory in the final few minutes. “We were forced to battle hard today against a quality side but our will to win never wavered,” said Floreat coach Chris Barbas. “There are still areas we need to work on, but we can savour this as a well fought win.”
The wet conditions proved difficult for both teams and resulted in some scrappy opening exchanges. With neither side able to create any clear cut chances, the game quickly developed into a battle for midfield dominance. In playing his part Boland clumsily slid into John Mills, resulting in the Floreat striker receiving his marching orders from referee Josh Manella with only 23 minutes on the clock. Balcatta sought to make the most of their numerical advantage but were unable to penetrate a resolute home backline under the command of Bobby Wilson. The closest the visitors would come to breaking through was a John Thornley effort that ended wide in the 40th minute.
The second half opened with Floreat on the attack, Ludovic Boi skimming the crossbar after seizing on a loose ball just outside the 18-yard box. Balcatta heeled that warning by taking the lead on 48 minutes, Steve Burton sending Callum Roberts down the right with the attacker’s cut back lashed through a crowded goal mouth and into the net by Migas. The home side then heaped pressure on the Balcatta backline with efforts from Pritchard, Jack Allen and Heagney all calling goalkeeper Lewis Italiano into action.
Floreat’s rewarded arrived on 68 minutes with Pritchard converting from the penalty spot after Julian Madaschi was judged to have handled a shot by Heagney. Heading into the closing stages it seemed Floreat might just have enough left in their tank to steal the points. With 89 minutes gone Pritchard provided the ball to Heagney, who dispatched a curling shot past Italiano for a two-one lead. With Balcatta pushing players forward in an attempt to salvage the afternoon, possession spilled to Smith who showed great composure in taking the ball from the halfway line and rounding Italiano to seal victory.
GIRON-MARULANDA KEEPS BAYSWATER ON COURSE
A classy two-goal performance by Gustavo Giron-Marulanda has guided Bayswater City a 2-1 victory over Inglewood United at 6PR Stadium. Giron-Marulanda, whose season tally now stands at 12 goals from six games, netted twice in the second stanza to cancel out Jack Clisby’s opener. Although the win keeps Bayswater in third place, just two points behind Premier Division leaders Floreat Athena, coach Mauro Marchione isn’t getting too excited. “For me there are at least seven teams for the top five … anyone can lose against anyone, today we won maybe next week lose against Floreat, who knows,” he said.
A scoreless first half was anything but boring as chances came thick and fast. Fancy footwork by James Sammut and Alex Caniglia were cause for concern within the visiting side, who did well to keep things on a level pegging. Inglewood were unfortunate not to break through via a Clisby free-kick from 18-metres which crashed into the underside of the crossbar, struck goalkeeper Tom Dixon on the back and ricocheted away from the net. With Larry Miller, Paul McCarthy and Stephen Turnbull operating across the middle of the park, Bayswater fashioned several openings of their own but Francis Soale remained unbeaten between the posts.
The high intensity continued after the turnaround and on 55 minutes Inglewood got what they were after, Clisby blasting a superb 22-metre free-kick into the top corner following David Perich’s illegal challenge on McCarthy. Not to be outdone, Bayswater returned fire ten minutes later with Giron-Marulanda sending a crisply struck free-kick from the similar range just inside the junction of post and crossbar. With this the pace quickened, Dixon was alert to tip over an attempt on goal by Perich before another dead ball strike by Giron-Marulanda was palmed away by Soale. With ten minutes to go Giron-Marulanda decided the outcome by converting at the second opportunity after Soale blocked his initial spot kick.
LYONS BRACE WINS IT FOR STIRLING
Striker Anthony Lyons scored a brace to inspire Stirling Lions to a 4-2 victory against ECU Joondalup in an exciting encounter at the Edith Cowan University campus. Matt Harold and Phil O’Callaghan were also on target for the visiting team while both Joondalup’s goals came via David Foster. “It was good to get on the score sheet twice and win the penalty to seal the victory,” commented Lyons. “The lads don’t fear any opponent and team cohesion is growing with every game we play. We are now looking to put a run of wins together, I firmly believe we can go all the way.”
The day could not have started worse for Joondalup whose failure to close down Matt Harold was punished as the Stirling midfielder curled a lovely shot over Banks from the top of the 18-yard box. The home side went close to replying four minutes later, Tommy Jones picking out Foster whose header was straight at Cory Hugo. Jones was provider again on the half hour but on this occasion his centre failed to find a team mate. Having been on the back foot for a considerable lengthy period, Stirling surged forward in the shadows of half-time and Andy Brown really should have done better than head wide at close-range.
Stirling began the second half well and in the 50th minute Matt Harold played down the right for Lyons whose his cross evaded Banks and hit the crossbar. The danger was not yet over as Brown collected the rebound and played in Jon Stripe, whose cross was headed into the net by Lyons. Rather than let their heads drop, Joondalup went straight back on the offensive and four minutes later pulled a goal back, Foster’s spectacular volley bursting the back of Hugo’s net after Shane Doyle was afforded far too much time and space in the centre of the park and allowed to cross into the area.
It took only six minutes for the visitors to restore their two-goal buffer through O’Callaghan whose penalty kick was too good for Banks after the Joondalup custodian had clipped the heads of Lyons as he was rounded. Lyons, who’d been a threat throughout the afternoon, was played in behind by O’Callaghan ten minutes later but the attacker shot into the upright. The game was made safe on 70 minutes when O’Callaghan again slipped the ball through to Lyons who this time finished clinically past Banks. Joondalup kept fighting and in the final minute Foster nodded in his second goal after a Tanner Selyer shot was palmed away by Hugo.
STALEMATE AT NASH FIELD
Premier Division football returned to Nash Field for the first time in almost seven months with Western Knights and Bunbury Forum Force playing out a 1-1 draw on a wet Saturday afternoon. Ryan Shackleton put the home side in front before the slippery conditions got the better of Knights’ custodian Kevin Miller, whose error allowed Martin Ryan to equalise just before the interval. “We were better team in the first half and dominated possession,” said Bunbury’s Adam Clough. “The second half was scrappy with not many chances for both teams. At the end of the day were happy to take a point.”
First half chances were few and far between with the defences standing firm to all challenges. The Knights fashioned a couple of openings via set pieces but on both occasions recipient Daniel Trim was unable to find the target. The breakthrough finally arrived on 27 minutes when Jesse Fuller and Shackleton combined on the edge of the 18-yard box from where the fired past goalkeeper Ryan Montgomery. Bunbury didn’t threaten until the half hour when Aidan Downes close-range header was brilliantly blocked by Miller. The equaliser came two minutes from the break, Aiden Savroy’s shot slipped from Miller’s grip and ricochets into the path of Ryan, who made no mistake.
Bunbury started the second half strongly and twice had penalty appeals waved away by referee Joe Fusari. Midfielder Luka Jukic returned fire for the home side with a stinging free-kick, while nine minutes later Fuller should have done better than pull wide of the far post after being found by Jukic. Ryan then had a chance to double his tally from Jarrad Mort’s pinpoint cross but the striker headed wide with Miller scrambling. The Knights could have snatched victory late when striker Kyle King was sent through in a one-on-one with Montgomery, who came out on trumps to secure his team a share of the points.
ARMADALE FINALLY GET OFF THE MARK
Armadale have broken through for their first win of the season by toppling Sorrento 2-0 on a rainy afternoon at Alfred Skeet Oval. Ravi Kuppusamy put the Reds ahead early with Blake Adams sealing the win after the interval. “It’s been coming to be honest … The last two or three weeks our confidence has been good,” said a relieved Lee Bamber. “We have been training really well putting 45 minute performances together, just not 90 minute performances, so it was just good to do it for 90 minutes today.”
It took Armadale only 13 minutes to find the back of the net, Kuppusamy strolling through a static defence and rounding goalkeeper Curtis Aspden before firing in from an acute angle. Cyril Sharrock ensured Sorrento didn’t hit back immediately by saving at point-blank range from Johny Mirco’s snap shot. The home side were looking particularly dangerous on the counterattack and leading into the break they twice caught Sorrento out but Kuppusamy’s shot crashed into the upright and Joey Tavernese couldn’t find the target despite being well-placed.
Sorrento needed a lift after the break and Jason Mirco was only too willing to answer the call. After providing for Johny Mirco to volley high, Jason Mirco unleashed a vicious drive which rose just over the crossbar. Brodie Martin should have brought the Gulls level but miskicked the ball with the goal at hie mercy after being found by Jason Mirco. Aspden then kept his side in the game with a brilliant double save to deny Jason Pottier and Tavernese in the 53rd minute.
Sixty seconds later the game was put to bed as Kuppusamy set-up Adams to fire into the net from 7-metres. New Sorrento recruit Stuart Montgomery came off the bench and wasted little time making his presence known, curling one shot just wide with Sharrock beaten before having another cleared off the line by Mark McClements. The visitors’ hopes of a late comeback were ended with the 85th minute dismissal of Martin for a second bookable offence. With the final whistle Armadale’s players and fans alike breathed a sigh of collective with their teams first points of the campaign.
NTC COP ANOTHER HIDING, THIS TIME AT PERTH
Perth SC captain David Onoforo was the architect of his teams’ 8-1 thrashing of the National Training Centre at Dorrien Gardens. Onoforo’s match-winning contribution included three goals alongside a Daniel Neiderberger brace, one to Robbie Sciascia and an own goal. “We were very happy with our performance, from front to back we played a very solid game,” said Neiderberger, who has slotted nicely into the line-up since his summer move to Perth. “My understanding with the forward line is getting better each week and hopefully that will improve throughout the season.”
The opening passages were relatively even before Perth kicked into life with their first goal on 17 minutes, Onoforo comfortably slotting past Luke Radonich. Blamo Quaqua and Moses Kalau had chances to put the NTC back on level terms but neither was able to convert. Those misses were punished on 36 minutes when Sciascia doubled the hoists’ lead by tucking after receiving a lovely back heel from Dom De Felice. Perth were controversially award a penalty just before the break which Onoforo calmly put away to leave the NTC with a mountain to climb in the second half.
As the rain continued to tumble down the margin blew out even further, Niederberger netting from a Sciascia cross. Slobodan Vulin capped a great run by pulling a goal back in the 52nd minute, however, the youngster was needlessly yellow carded for taking his shirt off in the goal celebrations. Perth returned fire in the 54th minute with Onoforo completing his hat-trick, and eight minutes later James Isaia’s header at a corner deflected in via a defender. Their final goal didn’t arrive until the 84th minute when Niederberger netted for the fourth time in seven days.
WANNEROO SURGE CLEAR
Wanneroo City claimed outright leadership of Division One with a 5-1 mauling of Forrestfield United at Kingsway Sporting Complex. Josh Booysen’s brace was compliment by goals from Anthony Jones, Jay Marsden and Guy McDonald to secure Wanneroo a fifth straight win and celebrate in style the opening of their new clubrooms. The early momentum was very much with the home team who deservedly went ahead when Guy McDonald played a corner short to Brad McDonald whose cross was glanced in by Booysen. With play continuing to be one-way, it came as no surprise when the gap was increased to two goals courtesy of Jones, who powered in at the near post from an in-swinging Guy McDonald corner.
Forrestfield started the second half positively only to be caught on the counter attack, Marsden’s delightful through ball sending Booysen past the defence to slide under the advancing goalkeeper. A partially cleared corner sat up nicely for Marsden to make it four-nil with a crisp half-volley from the edge of the 18-yard box. Guy McDonald then added himself to the scoresheet by netting at the second opportunity after a neat exchange with Brian Cairney. Forrestfield had by this stage thrown caution to the wind and a quick break saw Jonathon Cole race away and round ‘keeper Clint Davies to score a late consolation.
MCMURRAY STEERS COCKBURN TO SECOND SPOT
Cockburn City’s resurgence continued with a 6-1 thrashing of Fremantle Spirit on a cold and wet afternoon at Dalmatinac Park. Ian McMurray scored twice with Devon Gibson, Ross Diamond, Paul Lloyd and John Hunter also on target to secure Cockburn’s fourth win in as many weeks, jumping the southern suburbs outfit to second on the table. The small crowd was made to wait just 5 minutes before being giving reason to celebrate, Gibson exchanging passes with Marc Anthony before netting at close-range. Cockburn returned to the attack soon after the re-start but a couple of chances to extend their lead went unconverted by McMurray.
That changed midway through the half when Cockburn struck twice in the space of a few minutes to effectively make the points safe. Lloyd made it two-nil after 25 minutes before Hunter headed in from a corner. There would be no let-up from the home team who had clearly made it their intention to win by a sizable margin, and after a period of sustained pressure McMurray rounded his marker to slot into the net. With half-time approaching Fremantle pulled a rabbit out of the hat with Sean Treacey finding space on top of the 18-yard box to rifled past a flatfooted Dejan Aleksic.
The second half followed much the same pattern with Cockburn doing all the attacking and Fremantle locked down in their defensive half. With Anthony, Diamond and Ian Stack seemingly picking holes in their opponents’ defences at will, it was only a matter of time before the hosts scored again. The hour had just ticked by when Diamond sent the ball into the net for a five time, and not long after McMurray completed his double. With this Cockburn eased off a little, allowing Fremantle a little more time in possession. The port side could have pegged back another goal or two in the final stages had it not been for the safe hands of Aleksic.
BIRTHDAY BOY THOMPSON SHINES AS ROCKINGHAM HOLD ASHFIELD
A pulsating 1-1 home draw with Ashfield has stretched Rockingham City’s unbeaten run to five games. An Oscar Thompson header had Rockingham ahead at the break but that was cancelled out by Ryan Frisina’s fifth goal of the campaign early in the second half. “Ashfield are a good team but so are we and I think we’ll look back on that game as a good point,” said Rockingham coach Steve Robinson. “I’m pleased for Oscar scoring on his 18th birthday weekend, it’s just a shame we’ll have to listen to him all week at training reminding us about it!”
The first chances of a tight opening half didn’t present until midway through when Frisina was thwarted by Thompson’s sliding last-gasp tackle, and soon after Mladen Kovacevic placed wide from a good position. Rockingham then took the attacking impetus and on 38 minutes Brent Mayhew whipped a free-kick into the 18-yard box where Thompson headed powerfully past goalkeeper John Perkins for his second goal in as many games. Play was back at the other end soon enough with Brian Maybin directing a Matt Wardle corner goalward only to have Thompson clear off the line.
Ashfield returned from the break with coach Matt Carruthers words still ringing in their ears and on 53 minutes were back on level terms courtesy of a cheeky back heel by Frisina from Daryl Warren’s low centre. The action was end-to-end as players in both colours strove to find their teams an avenue to goal. Mayhew and Marco Dos Santos were providing plenty of drive out wide for the hosts but despite delivering some quality crosses Perkins remained largely untroubled. Frisina and Karl O’Reilly were on the end of the visitors better moves but neither player was able to answer the call when opportunity came knocking.
GOSNELLS CRACK THE WHIP ON MORLEY (courtesy Morley Windmills)
Morley Windmills’ horror season continued with a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Gosnells City at Walter Padbury Reserve. The writing was on the wall for Morley early as Jamie Burns hit the crossbar and Adrian McBride placed wide inside 20 minutes. A dubious foul by goalkeeper Michael Dudek on Tiernan McMullen resulted in a home penalty which Graham Tough tucked into the net after 31 minutes. Eleven minutes later Adrian McBride made it two-nil by converting a penalty awarded for a high kick. Morley were thrown a lifeline on the stroke of half-time when new Irish recruit Chris Bradley’s volley came to rest in the back of the net.
The second half had been underway just six minutes when Burns’ shot deflected off a defender and into the net. The home side continued to attack but McMullen was denied a goal when his shot slammed into the bar. Good lead-up work by Alan Carroll and Andy Pomfret in the 66th minute presented another opening for Burns whose shot again entered the net via a defender. With seven minutes to go McBride skipped past three defenders and slotted to Burns who tucked neatly under the ‘keeper. Morley’s day was best summed up in stoppage time when Simon Wilson’s attempt was fumbled by the ‘keeper and eventually sent clear.
THREE VALUABLE POINTS GO TO SWAN
Swan United continued their rise up the Division One standings by defeating Canning City 3-1 at the Swan Italian Club. The black and white settled quickly to take a 10th minute lead, John Monterosso’s cross from the right cleared only as far as Rory Hollingum, who fired in from the edge of the 18-yard box. Steve Grant made sure the gap remained at one goal by keeping out Lucas Whitehouse’s shot on the turn before Canning fashioned their own chance through Josh Findlater, whose low shot saved by Kenny Ftynogiannis. Swan created the better of openings across the rest of the half but had to be content with a one-goal buffer after 45 minutes.
The home side continued to attack after the turnaround and on 54 minutes that approach was rewarded as Adam Stillitano picked out John Monterosso, who controlled the ball on his chest before volleying past Grant from 7-metres. Four minutes later Swan made the points safe courtesy of Miki Vujacic’s defence splitting pass which put John Monterosso in the clear to slam a low, hard shot into the bottom corner. Canning grabbed what amounted to a consolation goal on the hour through a quick break down the right by Lawson whose far post cross was fired in by Richard Burton. The game ended on a sour note with Canning player-coach Paul Van Dongen suffering a broken leg.
PLOWMAN ON TARGET AGAIN AS UWA MAKE IT FIVE ON THE RUN
Division Two leaders UWA-Nedlands extended their winning run to five games with a hard-fought 2-1 defeat of Melville City in wet and windy conditions at McGillvray Oval. The home side were out of the blocks quick with James Plowman posting their opening goal inside a few minutes. Soon after Plowman benefitted from a dubious offside call to score his tenth goal of the season and put UWA in a commanding position. Galvanised into action, Melville now seized control of midfield and with 20 minutes gone Paul Sanchez slotted past the goalkeeper after forcing a defender into an error.
Melville’s hopes of a second half revival were hampered by a succession of injuries that led coach Danny Evans to re-shuffle his deck. Even so, it was rare that UWA truly tested the home defence which had no plans to concede for a third time. That said, Jack Mann and Steve Purton were lively across the middle of the park while Plowman hit the woodwork after pouncing on an under hit back pass. Sanchez could have snatched his team a share of the points in the final minute but after being sent through with only the goalkeeper to beat he was denied by Danny Roberts.
SUBIACO CRUISE AGAINST TEN-MAN QUINNS
Subiaco AFC recovered from conceding early to defeat Quinns 3-1 on a rain-soaked Gumblossom Park. Quinns could not have hoped for a better start with Damian McGurk heading in from a corner after only 5 minutes. With this Subiaco sparked into life and a cross by Danny Malcolm was flicked into the net by Joe Kresling to bring the sides level. The day took a turn for the worse for Quinns’ when Aaron Maplestone was controversially shown a straight red card for his high challenge on Frank Galvin. With the benefit of an extra player, Subiaco not surprising dictated the remainder of the half but further goal were not forthcoming.
It didn’t take Subiaco long after the break to find the net for a second time, Ger Fitzgerald knocking in a nice ball which Simon Edwards met with a diving header past the goalkeeper. Joe Kresling made his way down the right before cutting the ball back for Edwards to again head in, however, this time his effort was disallowed for offside. That was forgotten soon enough as just a few minutes later Edwards played across to the right where substitute Scott Wrightson controlled, turned and smacked the ball low inside the upright. The three points keep Subiaco in third place, whereas Quinns slip to the bottom of the table as the only team without a win.
KING OF A DAY FOR JOONDALUP
Joondalup City picked up their first ever State League win by demolishing Olympic Kingsway 5-1 on a wet afternoon at Kingsway Reserve. Lucais King struck twice to take his season tally to nine goals as Steve Lane also helped himself to a brace with Ben Yates getting the remainder to move Joondalup off the bottom of the Division Two table. “In the last few weeks we’ve changed our formation and worked hard at training at our new way of playing,” said Joondalup defender Nicholas King. “Working for each other has become more evident which came to fruition against Kingsway.”
In a lively first half it was Kingsway that were on the scoreboard first through a well-crafted dead ball move which Farrell Hedges finished by hammering into the roof of the net from 7-metres. But that was as good as it got for the home team as just a minute later Joondalup captain Danny Beattie lifted over the defence for Lucais King whose vicious strike cannoned into the net off the underside of the crossbar. The visitors were in front by the break, a searching free-kick by goalkeeper Matt Hill was flicked on and fell to Yates, who swiftly turned to send a well-placed shot inside the frame of the goal.
Joondalup continued on with their good work after the turnaround, Lucais King skipping around the goalkeeper to slot in his second goal of the afternoon. Five minutes later another ball over the top lead to a mix-up in the Kingsway defence which Lane punished by tucking into an empty net. The hour mark was far gone when a smart piece of play down the left saw Yates slide the ball towards Lane who made no mistake beating the ‘keeper for a second time. With Luke Armstrong driving them on, Kingsway enjoyed some good possession late on but lacked the finishing to reduce the gap.
FOUR SHOWN THE DOOR BY GLORY
Perth Glory started the renewal process yesterday by releasing four members of the 2011/12 squad. Former Socceroos defender Chris Coyne heads the list of those not offered new contracts with Todd Howarth, Tommy Amphlett and Josh Mitchell also let go. “It’s been a hard day,” said coach Ian Ferguson. “It’s tough to let four players go because they have all been good for the club and all contributed to last season. Releasing the boys is certainly the toughest part of my job but we need to make these decisions. The four players were extremely professional and we wish them all the best.”
Coyne, 33, joined Glory in 2009 and made 32 appearances over three seasons but spent much of the recent campaign sidelined by an Achilles injury. 30-year old Howarth played 82 games times for Glory over three seasons with this months’ dramatic extra-time winner against Wellington Phoenix amongst his five goals. Starting eleven opportunities were been hard to come by for Amphlett during his three A-League seasons, the 23-year old attacker limited to just 27 appearances in total. Signed in 2010, Mitchell played 35 times in defence for Glory.
PREMIER DIVISION PREVIEW
This week’s footballwa.net match of the week is the mouth-watering clash between Premier Division leaders Floreat Athena and last season’s table-toppers Balcatta at Litis Stadium. “It’s a huge game this week with a great rivalry between the clubs,” said Floreat’s 20-year old defender Callum Fransz. “Balcatta are a fantastic team and have had some big inclusions this year, they will be tough to beat. However, we have worked on a few things leading into the game and are looking forward to the task at hand. I think it will come down to whose better on the day, and hopefully that can be us.”
Balcatta midfielder Daniel Micevski is also looking forward to Saturday afternoon. “The league is slowly sorting itself out with only one game between the top six, so I think the next month’s fixtures are very important for all,” he commented. “We have not had the best of starts and are working hard to improve. Floreat have a good side and will want to improve on their results against us from last season.” Both teams enter the afternoon with key players suspended, for Floreat that’s Jake Geddes while it’s Mark Walsh for the visitors.
There’s another absolute blockbuster at 6PR Stadium where Inglewood United’s quest to jump straight back into the winners circle has them up against Bayswater City. The departure of several senior players may have left Western Knights light on experience but coach Willie Kelly will have his youthful side primed for the home clash with Bunbury Forum Force. Not a lot has been going right for Armadale this year and it’s hard to see that changing when Sorrento calls in at Alfred Skeet Oval. Perth SC should take the points by a comfortable margin at home to the National Training Centre.
Salv Todaro will be out to collect his first league win with ECU Joondalup when they welcome Stirling Lions to the northern suburbs. “It will be a tough game on Saturday against the Lions but the lads have been great and their never-say-die attitude is a good sign,” commented Todaro, whose side overcame Canning City 2-0 in their mid-week State League Cup outing. “We hope to continue and work hard on the game plan and come away with the three points.” All six Premier Division games kick-off at 3.00pm on Saturday.
DIVISION ONE PREVIEW
Two of Division One’s frontrunners will lock horns when Rockingham City takes on Ashfield at Lark Hill Sportsplex. It’s been a tough run for Ashfield where defender Matt Wardle has no intention of finishing on the losing team for the third time in eight days. “All the boys are ready to go, we want to put the last two games behind us and get another win on the board,” Wardle said. “We are serious about winning the league and to do that you need to win the tough away matches, and Rockingham away is definitely a hard game.”
Swan United will be looking to climb another few rungs up the ladder when they host Canning City, who welcome the return of veteran defender Ante Kovacevic and the arrival of new goalkeeper Steve Grant. Dianella White Eagles have a difficult home assignment against a Mandurah City side which has four straight wins to their credit. Wanneroo City coach has a near full compliment to select from for their home clash with struggling Forrestfield United. The recent departure of several key figures has had a devastating effect on Morley Windmills who this weekend makes the trip to Gosnells City.
Fremantle Spirit may be stumping up Division One but that doesn’t mean they’ll be rolling over at Cockburn City. “We have a great group of players who are willing to put in the time and effort, I’m confident results will start coming our way soon,” said Fremantle coach Moe Atekhis. “We do have a tough game this week, Cockburn is a very strong side with some quality players. We will have to be at our best if we want to get anything out this game but that is a challenge the players are up for.” All six Division One games kick-off at 3.00pm on Saturday.
DIVISION TWO PREVIEW
Top of the table UWA-Nedlands takes on fifth-placed Melville City at McGillvray Oval in the pick of the Division Two action. UWA may have to do without Innocent Zico (groin) and Gary McVicker (knee) but even if they fail late fitness tests Melville boss Danny Evans knows his players are in for a tough afternoon. “They are the red-hot favourites to take the points this weekend and the title at the end of the season,” he said. “I’ve got great respect for how they have gone about it this year and it’s up to the rest of us to match them.”
It’ll be all hands on deck when Quinns welcome Subiaco AFC to Gumblossom Park. Ian Cowan’s team have been in good form of late and with Tom Barratt between the posts and Jordan Rhodes patrolling the middle of the park they should come away with the points. Kingsway Olympic are expected to continue their yo-yo pattern by claiming victory on home turf over Joondalup City, who seem to be finding some rhythm after a poor start to the year. All three Division Two games commence at 3.00pm on Saturday.
WATTS POWERS UP WITH ILKESTON
Former Wanneroo City attacker Jack Watts has guided English club Ilkeston to the cusp of the Evo-Stik League Premier Division. Ilkeston take on Leek Town in the promotion play-off on Saturday thanks to Watts’ starring role in the 7-0 hiding handed out to the world’s oldest club, Sheffield FC, last weekend when he played a hand in five of his teams’ goals. The 20-year old West Australian crossed for Gary Ricketts’ to head in the opening goal and seven minutes later added his name to the scoresheet. Watts was also provider for Daryll Thomas’ second half brace as well as featuring in the lead-up to substitute Francis Green’s goal.
Watts, who played in the Premier Division with Frickley Athletic last season, says Ilkeston are well positioned to make the step up. “In terms of the club as a whole, then I would say it is more professionally run here at Ilkeston than at Frickley, and it is all geared up to go higher,” said Watts recently. “Having played at a higher level, I would say it is a better standard … But I don’t think we would have any problems in adapting, I think we would acquit ourselves very well. We have a very talented squad and a young one as well that is only going to get better the longer it stays together.”
GLORY CLOSE IN ON WARD
Nick Ward is poised to re-sign with Perth Glory after two seasons at Wellington Phoenix. Ward, the A-League’s inaugural Young Player of the Year, is believed to have agreed terms with Glory, where he played 23 games across two previous spells. The midfielder, whose career has also taken in time at English clubs Queens Park Rangers and Brighton and Hove Albion along with Melbourne Victory, found it difficult to break into Ricki Herbert’s starting line-up at Wellington despite playing 46 times in his two seasons at the club.
PLAYERS SELECT RISDON AS THEIR BEST
Teenage defender Josh Risdon has been crowned Perth Glory’s Players’ Player of the Year. The 19-year old defender, whose form earned him an Australian under-23 call-up earlier this year, was presented the award at a special chairman’s dinner held to celebrate the club’s best season in the A-League. “I’m really humbled to win this award because I have the highest respect for my teammates and coaches,” Risdon said. “I’d really like to thank all the coaches for helping me improve my game. This season has been a great experience and one I have thoroughly enjoyed.” Born and raised in Bunbury, Ridson made 24 appearances in his breakthrough season.
HAMERSLEY STUN ASHFIELD (courtesy Hamersley Rovers)
Sunday League side Hamersley Rovers pulled off one of the shocks of the day by eliminating Ashfield 2-0 from the State League Cup at Carine Open Space. Despite being on the back foot for much of the game, Hamersley took the chances presented to them with Jimmy Young and Sam Long finding the net. “The boys were delighted but also knew we got lucky, if Ashfield would have taken their chances they'd have been out of sight,” said Hamersley coach Craig Doble. “The pleasing thing was we kept working hard for each other and believed we could score.”
Hamersley started well with Logan Crawford and Stu Simmons getting in some dangerous early crosses. However, the best chance came at the other end of the park where Nathan Tossum hit the post after 20 minutes following a lead-up that involved Karl O’Reilly and Natta Narongphunt. The hosts returned fire through Dan Scudder’s rasping drive but the reprieve was only temporary as Ashfield laid siege on Haig Kingston’s goal. With Mladen Kovacevic and Narongphunt keeping the defence on high alert, O’Reilly hit the woodwork after a goalmouth scramble while further openings came the way of Rueben Tristao and Tossum
All the pressure remained on Hamersley after the turnaround but the defensive partnership of Ben Ashton and Martin Ireland held firm. Tossum did manage to stick the ball in the net on the hour but it was disallowed for a foul on Matt Emery, and soon after Kingston produced a wonderful double save to leave Kovacevic and Tossum frustrated. Hamersley were starting to create some space on the flanks and on 72 minutes a pull on Long inside the 18-yard box was punished by a penalty which Young converted.
Now with no option but to attack, Ashfield pushed forward in numbers with Martin Sherwin and Steve O’Mahoney leading the way. But by this stage the home sides confidence was on the rise and workman-like efforts by Ricky Andrews and Ryan Sochanik characterised their resolve. With just minutes to go another counter attack found Long who, after playing a tidy one-two with Shaun Gibbons, lashed into the roof of the net to seal. The close minutes were a tense time for Hamersley before the final whistle confirmed what only 90 minutes earlier had been rated an unlikely win.
SUPER SUB MIRCO REVIVES SORRENTO
New signing Johnny Mirco came off the bench to inspire Sorrento to a 3-2 victory in extra-time over Cockburn City at Percy Doyle Reserve. Coach Paul Price was over the moon with Mirco’s match-changing contribution which complimented Reece Vittiglia’s opening goal and the decider scored by fellow substitute Glen Thomas. “We were down, we didn’t mind if we had to play extra time. We needed to equalise and Johny Mirco scored an unbelievable goal,” Price said. “That was his first game for us today, he came on as the sub and had a great game. He had a big influence and I think his presence turned the game around in our favour.”
The game was only a few minutes old when Jason Mirco signalled Sorrento’s intention by curling a free-kick just past the top corner. Cockburn showed their plans did not include sitting back as just three minutes later Ian McMurray’s header was held by goalkeeper Curtis Aspden. As the minutes went by it was the visiting team that started to get on top with John Hunter and Euan Grant getting shots on target but kept out of the net by Aspden. They were rewarded on the half hour when Devon Gibson’s low cross somehow reached McMurray, who slid the ball into the net at close-range.
Vittiglia nearly brought the sides level with a stinging low drive which was spilled by Dejan Aleksic, who recovered just in time to beat Todd Harnwell to the rebound. Aleksic’s booming clearance made its way all the way to Paul Lloyd whose shot smacked into the upright, giving Sorrento food for thought. Coach Price went to his bench soon after, bringing on attacker Johny Mirco for left back Shaun Timmins. The switch paid off seven minutes later when Vittiglia’s grass-cutter from 25-metres flashed past the diving ‘keeper and into the bottom corner of the net to make it one-all at the break.
An action-packed second half opened with Cockburn in the ascendency as Terrence Connor, Marc Anthony and substitute Nicholas Carroll all went close to posting their second goal. Sorrento didn’t muster a response until the 72nd minute when Todd Harnwell’s angled volley whizzed just over. Johny Mirco went even closer a few minutes later with a shot that ricocheted off Aleksic and Daryl Platten lifted the follow-up high. Two minutes later Martin Barnes’ shot was parried by Aspden and Anthony Pereira pushed the loose ball over the bar.
McMurray put Cockburn back in front by poking in during a goal mouth scramble created by Barnes’ 101st minute cross. A perfectly executed Johny Mirco overhead kick looked like evening the ledger until a diving Aleksic brilliantly tipped away the attempt. Johny Mirco showed his quality in the 108th minute by weaving his way through three defenders and blasting into the top corner to make it two-all. The game was settled less than a minute later, Thomas getting on the end of a lobbed ball forward which he lashed past Aleksic to send the home team and their supporters into wild celebration.
WHITFORD NO MATCH FOR YOUTHFUL ROCKINGHAM (courtesy Rockingham City)
A young Rockingham City ran riot in the second half to come away with a 4-0 win over Sunday League side Whitford City at Warrandyte Reserve. Teenagers Thabiso Ncube, Ryan Kennedy, Alex Kukic and Oscar Thompson were all on target for a visiting team whose average age was only 21. The early signs were encouraging for the Rockingham coaching staff, Thompson and Brent Mayhew delivering a string of crosses from the right but Ncube and Roy Hissey couldn’t convert. In the starting line-up for the first time, Ncube’s pace was causing Whitford no end of problems and the striker really should have scored after being played through by Marco Dos Santos.
Rockingham got their just deserts ten minutes after the turnaround, Lance Louvie playing in Hissey who fainted to shoot and squared for Ncube to slot into the net. That lead was added to soon after when 17-year old substitute Kennedy headed in from a Mayhew free-kick. Whitford were by this stage showing signs of tiring and had not answers to their young opponents. Kukic, also 17, posted goal number three by taking a delightful Thompson through ball into his stride and out-pacing the defence to finish under the goalkeeper. Thompson put the icing on Rockingham’s cake shortly before the final whistle when he powerfully headed in a Kennedy free-kick.
JENNINGS IS MELVILLE’S SAVIOUR (courtesy Melville City)
Melville City advanced to the State League Cup round of sixteen with a hard-fought 1-0 win over fellow Division Two outfit Fremantle United at Len Shearer Reserve. A tight game appeared destined to finish without score until striker Michael Jennings struck late to ensure Melville’s progression. Genuine opportunities were few and far between across the first half with neither side willing to give so much as an inch. The first opening came via a low corner which Jennings steered goalward only to see his header cleared off the line. Fremantle were asking plenty of questions of the hosts defence but the closest they came to scoring was a Darren Monaghan shot into the crossbar.
The second half developed very quickly into a battle for midfield supremacy with both teams enjoying periods in control but neither able to score. Several fast breaks by Melville were halted by some desperate defending while at the other end Fremantle were finding it just as difficult to break through. It wasn’t until the 79th minute that the deadlock was broken, Sasa Slavujevic whipping in a low cross to the near post where Jennings slipped his marker to glance a well-placed header beyond the goalkeeper. Fremantle pressed hard in pursuit of an equaliser but both time and some resilient defending were against them.
Melville coach Dan Evans said post-game he was delighted to turn the tables on Fremantle. “It was great to see us match them this time round, especially after being out-played by them in the league only a few weeks prior,” he commented. “I thought we might have edged possession, but it was a pretty even match and they certainly had their chances to win it. On another day we might have walked away with nothing but I guess you ride your luck in Cup football. We’re happy to march on, it’s great to be in the last sixteen and we are all looking forward to the draw.”
CIRCATI HAPPY DESPITE BAD DAY AT THE OFFICE
A David Onoforo goal midway through the first half booked Perth SC a 2-1 win over home team Mandurah City and a place in the second round of the State League Cup. James Isaia had put the Blues in front early but that was cancelled out just after the hour half by Ryan Townsend’s penalty conversion. “I felt today we were probably a little bit off,” said Gianfranco Circati, coach of Perth. “I don’t know if the boys were tired or not but we made the movement and we had the chances but we couldn’t score from all of our chances. We are happy with the performance overall, obviously we got the result which means we move on to the next round.”
In a high- intensity contest, Mandurah laid down the law in the first few minutes with Robbie Hamm firing a warning shot narrowly over the crossbar after meeting a cross by Craig Tone. Perth surged forward with Daniel Niederberger, Greg Sharland and Isaia combining only to be denied by the defensive resolve of Townsend and Tom Straker. The visitors were able to break through in the 13th minute from a set piece, Sharland’s well-flighted ball finding Isaia whose close-range header beat Phil Straker between the posts. Josh Wilkins and Sharland each had chances to double their teams’ advantage but the former’s shot was blocked while the latter let himself down with poor direction.
Having gone close to equalising on a number of occasions Mandurah found a way through in the 32nd minute when clumsy defending by Isaia resulted in a penalty being awarded, up stepped Townsend whose explosive shot gave Luke Martino no chance of saving. Both defences were kept on high alert as the half progressed, each turning away several dangerous attacks to ensure there would be no addition to the scoreline. Tone did almost find a way through in the 42nd minute but while his header was beyond the reach of Martino it also floated agonisingly over the top.
Mandurah maintained their defensive integrity into the second half as attempts by Niederberger and Onoforo failed to overcome the Townsend and Tom Straker. That was until the 74th minute when Onoforo capitalised on a Mandurah defensive mishap, the striker pouncing on an under-hit back pass intended for ‘keeper Phil Straker who was helpless as the ball was slipped past him in the one-on-one. What followed was a tense final twenty minutes in which both teams were made to work hard for their possession but little territory was claimed due to a couple of well-drilled defensive units.
MILLER SAVES THE KNIGHTS
Western Knights were taken all the way to a penalty shoot-out by State League minnows Subiaco AFC before coming away from Rosalie Park with a victory. Goalkeeper Kevin Miller ensured the Knights progression with a trio of penalty saves which earned his team a 5-4 win after the teams were deadlocked at 1-1 after 120 minutes. “I’m incredibly proud of every lad out there today,” said Subiaco coach Ian Cowan. “There are huge positives to be taken out of this game, we can hold our heads high. If we play like that in the league we will go very close to winning it.”
Subiaco were first out of the blocks with a terrific move down the left orchestrated by captain Jordan Rhodes whose deft touch allowed Eamon Keegan to side-step his marker and curl just past the target. After that the game settled down with both sides looking good in the lead-up only to encounter some strong resistance entering the final third. A period of sustained pressure paid leading into half-time paid dividends for the Knights as Jesse Fuller’s delivery into the area was met by Ivan Zuvela’s glancing header, goalkeeper Tom Barratt having little hope of making a save.
The second half opened with Subiaco again on the attack and soon enough they were back on level terms thanks to David Keats, who didn’t break stride in lashing inside Miller’s near post after coming in from the left. From there the game developed into something of an arm wrestle with much of play taking place between the boxes. And on those occasions the defences were breached Miller and Barratt deal comfortably dealt with anything that came their way. The Knights almost grabbed a late winner but Daniel Trim placed agonisingly wide in a one-on-one with the ‘keeper.
Ivan Skorich surged forward early in first period of extra-time but Barratt was out quickly to thwart, and not long after Miller was equal to the task in denying Danny Malcolm. The Knights looked like breaking through after the turnaround, however, Zuvela’s goalbound effort was cleared off the line and a Brian White header was claimed by Barratt. It was Subiaco’s time in the last seconds of extra-time when Ger Fitzgerald’s powerful header from a corner was somehow kept out by Miller. The Knights custodian produced further heroics in the shoot-out which following, saving three spot kicks to send his side into the next round.
MORLEY DUMPED AT KINGSLEY (courtesy Kingsley)
Kingsley emerged as one of only two Sunday League sides to remain in the knock-out competition after upsetting Morley Windmills 5-3 ’s at Chichester Park. Matt Garnder helped himself to a brace with Nick Trajkoski, Mitch Dodd and Jayden Drummond also finding the back of the net for a Kingsley side that simply refused to read the script. After a scattering of half chances came and went for both teams, Trajkoski stunned the small crowd with a superb 26-metre drive that soared into the top corner. Morley wanted a quick reply and although David Houston posed a threat up-front he was closely watched by the home defence.
A superb exchange of passes paved the way for Kingsley to double their lead, Michael Roglick taking possession wide on the left and driving down the line before delivering a pinpoint cross to the head of Dodd, who made sure the goalkeeper stood no chance of saving. However, celebrations were short-lived as Morley pulled a goal back straight from the re-start with a quick three pass move that culminated in Mark Grant releasing Adam Pygrum who drove down the right, round onrushing goalkeeper Kevan Towers and tucked into an empty net.
The second half was only a few minutes old when a cruel bounce struck substitute Aaron Crieghton on the arm and from the penalty spot Pygrum calmly converted. Feeling hard done by, Gardner worked his way through the opposing defence to curl past the ‘keeper and put Kingsley back in control. Drummond then created space and from 22-metres found the back of the net, albeit aided by a slight deflection. Pygrum completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot after a foul on Houston. Gardner sealed the win by converting a cross from Crieghton, who had streamed away from his marker out wide.
MONTEROSSO SENDS SWAN INTO NEXT ROUND
Swan United progressed to the last sixteen of the State League Cup with a 3-1 win over fellow Division One outfit Gosnells City at the Swan Italian Club. John Monterosso scored twice and Lucas Whitehouse once for the black and whites with Tiernan McMullen posting Gosnells solitary goal just before the interval. “It feels great to be back on the scoresheet again consistently,” said John Monterosso. “The game never looked out of our control, we held the ball well and were patient and we attacked convincingly every time we went forward … it was a great team performance - roll on next round!”
Swan needed only 13 minutes to make the most of their home ground advantage, Robert Monterosso crossing to the far post where Trent Wood laid the ball back for John Monterosso to fire in from close-range as Gosnells stood waiting for an offside flag that never came. Two minutes John Monterosso turned provider by playing in to Miki Vujacic but the midfielder was unable to connect from 5-metres. Gosnells answered that warning with some determined attacking which saw Darren Gamble thwarted in a one-one-one with Kenny Ftynogiannis after being released by Ian Maguire.
Parity was deservedly restored on 24 minutes when Andy Pomfret’s corner wasn’t properly dealt with, Gamble returning the ball to the danger zone for McMullen to net at close-range. Chris Atkinson was prevented from putting Swan back in front by ‘keeper Allan Creer before Gosnells regained control. Adrian McBride’s stunning 30-metre free-kick crashing into the crossbar and soon after an unmarked McMullen was denied brilliantly by Ftynogiannis. Salvo Chavez thought he’d put the visitors in front with a long-range shot that crashed down off the bar, however, the flag was up for offside.
Swan came out firing after the break with a long-range strike by Trent Wood whistling just high before Creer kept out a succession of shots from John Monterosso, substitute Adam Stillitano and Vujacic. The pressure value was released on 72 minutes when Wood’s mazy run was ended inside the 18-yard box by Aaron Coslani, and from the spot John Monterosso made no mistake. Whitehouse made the game safe three minutes later with a clinical finish after being sent through by Rory Hollingum. Ftynogiannis ensured there would be no Gosnells revival by tipping over a Maguire attempt on 83 minutes.
STIRLING PREVAIL ON PENALTIES
Stirling Lions survived a nail-biting penalty shoot-out to emerge victorious from their State League Cup showdown with Bayswater City at Frank Drago Reserve. With neither team able to score in regulation time or the additional half-hour the game went to the spot from where Stirling held their nerve 4-5. Coach Doug Hesketh was pleased with the way Stirling’s players went about the task of holding out a very dangerous opponent. “I’m extremely proud of all the players today,” he said. “We set a tactical display up today, which we thought would work for us and did work to perfection - the players followed every instruction we gave them.”
Bayswater had the initiative early with some patient lead-up work creating openings for Jack Wilkinson and teenager Milan Mirkovic but neither player was able to capitalise. It wasn’t until the quarter hour that Stirling really started to look comfortable with Andy Brown asserting his influence in the centre of the park. Still it was the home side that was creating the chances and Joe Yoffe should have done better than hit the upright. The rest of the half followed much the same pattern, Bayswater always threatening to break through while Stirling’s focus was on stifling their opponents’ creativity and playing on the counterattack.
Bayswater continued their push into Stirling territory after the turnaround, however, there wasn’t to be much change to their fortunes. Coach Mauro Marchione went to his bench for inspiration midway through the period, bringing on Gustavo Giron-Marulanda and Nathan Diaz, but still the game failed to ignite. That didn’t happen until extra-time when both camps realised one goal would be enough to see them claim victory. Giron-Marulanda almost snuck a late winner but Corey Hugo reacted accordingly to send the game to the spot, the Stirling ‘keeper then saved two spot kicks to send his team through to the round of sixteen.
THERE WAS NO TRIP SAYS GLORY’S MILLER
Perth Glory midfielder Liam Miller has been infuriated by claims slow motion video proves referee Jarred Gillett was right to award Brisbane Roar a controversial penalty in the A-League Grand Final. Miller was deemed by Gillett to have tripped Besart Berisha to concede a final minute penalty which the Albanian converted to secure Brisbane victory. Miller was incensed when asked about the assumptions made by some Eastern-states based media analysts that the decision was correct. "I didn't need to see the video replays because I was there," he told the 'West Australian' newspaper. "I didn't trip him up. I slid in to try and stop his initial shot and he shimmied through, he's gone to pull the trigger and he's tripped over himself."
Despite what the so-called experts are claiming, Miller is adamant he did not impede Berisha. "Obviously you're seeing everyone come out now and saying the ref got it right. They've slowed it down by this and that, which for me is bullshit," added Miller. "One hundred per cent it wasn't a penalty. I've seen it over and over. They can slow it down into split seconds and everything else. I know deep down myself it wasn't (a penalty) and I'm sure the player does as well but the ref's got to make the call and he's made the wrong call. I just feel robbed, cheated. It's starting to sink in and it really is a bitter one to swallow."
Miller was further incensed by A-League referees boss Mark Shield's defence of Gillett, whose partner is employed by Brisbane. "It angered me more," Miller said. "How is it that he can have his partner work for the club? I just find it crazy. I've been involved in the game for 15 years playing football and I've never known anything like it. You would have a neutral ref. He would have no affiliation to any club. I don't think you'd see that anywhere else in the world. It's a no-brainer." Miller, who has another year to run on his Glory contract, said the bitter disappointment would be added motivation for next season.
GARCIA FREE TO LEAVE HULL
Socceroo Richard Garcia's decorated Hull City career looks likely to come at an emotional end against former club West Ham United this weekend. Garcia's short-term contract expires in June and, as yet, he has been given no indication an extension will be offered. Having featured sparsely for the Tigers this year the 30-year old attacker holds little hope of staying at the KC Stadium. "Don't think there's any chance of the club renewing my contract," he said via twitter. "I've loved being at the club and am proud to be part of the most successful period in the club's history."
Hull manager Nick Barmby was coy when asked about Garcia's future. "At this moment we're not sure," said Barmby. "Garc has kept his cards close to his chest. He's out of contract and well within his rights to go and speak to other clubs. If he does and if he goes, he goes with our blessing because he's been outstanding for us. We'll be sorry to see him leave but we'd wish him and his family all the best because he's been nothing short of a fine professional." Garcia has amassed 127 game for Hull over five seasons and was a key member of their history-making promotion side of 2007/08..
ANDREZINHO SPLITS FROM GLORY
Perth Glory have confirmed Brazilian midfielder Andrezinho has rejected a contract extension for next season. Andrezinho, who 24 appearances and scored two goals last season, was offered a significantly reduced wage as the club embarks on cost-cutting measures. The 27-year old will return to Brazil next week and will weigh up offers from other A-League clubs as well as Turkey and Ukraine before deciding his next move. The futures of Steve Pantelidis, Scott Neville, Josh Mitchell, Chris Coyne, Todd Howarth, Steven McGarry and Tommy Amphlett, who are all out of contract, will be decided in coming weeks.
WE’VE GOT TO MOVE ON: FERGUSON
Perth Glory can use their heartbreaking Grand Final defeat as motivation for next season. Yesterday’s loss to Brisbane Roar was a bitter pill to swallow for Glory but coach Ian Ferguson says that disappointment can be channelled in the right way. “We’ve got to build on it, there’s no use dwelling on it,” Ferguson said. “The plus for us is that we actually reached the Grand Final and we were actually ten minutes away from winning it. I said to them I was very proud of them and how they’ve played the season.”
Ferguson instructed his team to press high up the park and prevent Brisbane from playing the game on their terms. “We knew we couldn’t sit back, when you give the good players the time, they can easily hurt you,” he said. “We watched the videos, we watched the last game as well against the Central Coast Mariners and we knew that we had to put pressure on certain players in certain areas and show them lines. I thought that went really well up until the last ten minutes.”
BLOODIED SMELTZ GETS STITCHED UP
New Zealand international Shane Smeltz showed great courage in playing through the pain after suffering horrific facial injuries during yesterday’s A-League Grand Final loss. Smeltz copped an elbow to the face from Brisbane Roar defender Matt Smith just 16 minutes into the game, and despite badly splitting his nose and lip played on until the 80th minute when he was replaced because he was struggling to breathe. The enormity of the damage was confirmed after the game when Smeltz had surgery to reattach part of his nose in an operation that required around 50 stitches.
Smeltz, who has been forced to remain in Queensland until given the all-clear to fly, admitted this morning that it was the hardest game he has had to get through. “I’m a bit sore but the pain killers are keeping me good at the moment,” Smeltz said. “In terms of pain, it was the hardest game I have had to get through. With the blood continually dripping and the bandages, it was tough to breathe when I was running. I’d like to thank the plastic surgeon who treated me and everyone for their messages of support.”
REFEREE’S BLUNDER HANDS BRISBANE THE A-LEAGUE TITLE
Brisbane Roar have defended their A-League title with a controversial 2-1 Grand Final win over Perth Glory in front of a 50,334-strong crowd at Suncorp Stadium. The season decider was just seconds from extra-time when referee Jarred Gillett awarded the hosts’ a penalty after mistaking Besart Berisha’s miss-kick as a foul, with the Brisbane attacker converting from the spot to decide the outcome. “We’ve been robbed with that decision,” said an emotional Glory captain Jacob Burns. “(It) killed us. You could see plain as day it wasn’t a penalty.” And adding insult to injury, the man-of-the-match award was presented to Thomas Broich despite Burns being voted the winner.
The big crowd weathered a cagey opening half hour in which chances were few and far between. Glory were given a big scare on the quarter hour when Shane Smeltz copped an elbow to the face from home captain Matt Smith but after a lengthy treatment the striker continued, albeit with a heavily strapped face. Burns was instrumental in Glory breaking Brisbane’s midfield momentum on countless occasions so much so that the hosts’ didn’t start making inroads until just before the break. They came within a fingertip of taking the lead in the 41st minute when Glory goalkeeper Danny Vukovic made a diving save to keep out Ivan Franjic’s long-range rocket.
A-League player of the year Thomas Broich gave a great display of his class in the 50th minute, jinking between defenders before getting off a powerful shot which Vukovic parried away. Billy Mehmet immediately took play to the other end with a scything run through midfield before delivering to Travis Dodd, who low centre ricocheted off Ivan Franjic and into the back of the net to put Glory one-nil up. Brisbane probed and pushed relentlessly in chase of an equaliser which finally arrived on 84 minutes when Broich’s delightful cross was met by Berisha to head past a helpless ‘keeper.
Glory defender Dean Heffernan then collected a needless second yellow card, and an early shower, soon after for his needless foul on Franjic. Just as Glory were steeling themselves for extra-time with a man down, a dreadful error by referee Gillett handed Brisbane victory. With 94 minutes on the clock Berisha cut between two defenders only to lose his footing after going past Liam Miller, the match official whistled immediately for a trip – despite replays showing there had been no contact. After dismissed the Glory players’ pleas, Berisha sent Vukovic the wrong way to secure Brisbane the trophy.
WE’VE BEEN ROBBED SAYS GLORY’S BURNS
Perth Glory captain Jacob Burns says his side were ‘robbed’ after Besart Berisha’s controversial stoppage time penalty decided the A-League Grand Final with Brisbane Roar. The game looked destined for extra-time when Berisha went down inside the penalty area and referee Jarred Gillett incorrectly pointed to the penalty spot. “I feel as though we’ve been robbed there … you could see by Berisha’s reaction he knows as well it wasn’t a penalty,” Burns said. “It was a decision that has cost us the Grand Final. I’ve got to pay credit to the boys, our never-say-die attitude. That suspect decision right at the end has absolutely killed the spectacle and a wonderful game of football.”
Burns was voted winner of the Joe Marston Medal as the Grand Finals’ man-of-the-match but, to rub salt into the wound, Brisbane striker Thomas Broich was mistakenly presented the award after the final whistle. A-League officials realised their error and Burns’ efforts were recognised at the post-game press conference. “These things happen,” said Burns, who was made aware he’d won the award before Broich’s name was read out. “Although it’s a tremendous honour to receive this award I would love to have my hands on the (A-League) trophy. I’ve been looking at it all week and dreaming about holding it but it wasn’t to be … The penalty at the end was the hardest thing to take.”
STIRLING SILENCED BY RAMPANT PERTH
A dominant Perth SC came away from Macedonia Park with a 6-2 win over Stirling Lions this afternoon. Daniel Niederberger lead the way with a double as David Onoforo, Robbie Sciascia, James Isaia and Josh Wilkins also found the target for the visiting team. "We were very pleased with how the team played today, and it was good to see a range of individual goal scorers," said Basil Lenzo, assistant coach of Perth. "The hardest things for our players at the moment is having the patience as we try out some different combinations. But it's a good place to be with every player having to earn their spot from week to week."
Stirling goalkeeper Corey Hugo was called into action as early as the 4th minute to block a shot by Niederberger, who pounced on the loose ball which he threatened to Onoforo who finished into the net at close-range. It took only sixteen minutes to reply, Jamie De Abreu driving into the 18-yard box before centring for Matt Barlow to slip the equaliser past Alex Dunn. Perth had plenty of options going forward and in the 27th minute re-took the lead as Niederberger converted with his first touch from a Andreas Oliveira pass. The gap was widened by Sciascia whose low shot from 15-metres snuck past Hugo a minute from the break.
The second half was two minutes old when Antonio Naglieri played in Niederberger, who got the better of the defence before striking into the bottom corner. The result was sealed in the 51st minute when Isaia converted at the second opportunity to make it five-one to the team in blue. De Abreu, Barlow and Jamie Tandy worked tirelessly to claw back some of the momentum but their efforts amounted to nothing against a well-organised backline. The hosts persistence was eventually rewarded five minutes from the end when De Abreu’s clever cross found Tandy, who netted from 14-metres. But it would be Perth that had the final say with substitute Wilkins volleying into the top corner from 16-metres.
VALE ALEX SENJUSCHENKO
The football family is in mourning following the passing of former State captain and Hall of Fame inductee Alex Senjuschenko late last week at the age of 62. Born in Germany to Ukrainian parents, Senjuschenko arrived in Australia in the early 1950’s and went on to become a stalwart at centre half with Inglewood Kiev. He represented Western Australia on 14 occasions, becoming one of the State’s youngest captains in the 2-2 draw with Hertha Berlin in 1970, and played a further seven times for Queensland. Senjuschenko played briefly for Morley on returning to Perth before coaching the State amateur and women’s teams. In 2008 Senjuschenko was inducted into the Hall of Merit for Players category of the Football Hall of Fame WA.
HEAGNEY SENDS FLOREAT TO THE TOP (with George Tsadilas, Football West)
Floreat Athena moved joint top of the Premier Division with a 6-1 thrashing of a previous unbeaten Inglewood United at Litis Stadium. David Heagney played the lead role with a hat-trick as Jarrad Smith, Ludovic Boi and Liam Boland also found the net. “We pressed a high line from the back and took the game to them,” said Heagney after his match-winning display. “I feel on top the world, but it was case of all the forwards working together and overall it was a fantastic effort from all the lads.”
Inglewood started the brighter with Jack Clisby flashing an early chance wide of the post. But the visitors were delivered a fateful blow in the 17th minute when with goalkeeper Devon Spence exiting the game with a suspected dislocated shoulder following a collision with Boi. Not long after Bobby Wilson rattled the crossbar with a free-kick to herald the beginning of Floreat’s revival. Boi sliced his way through the Inglewood defence in the 22nd minute to square the ball for Smith to tap in at the far post for a one-nil lead.
Floreat’s lead was doubled just two minutes later when Heagney wriggled past two defenders to go one-on-one with substitute ‘keeper Simon Duffecy, who was could do nothing to keep out his opponents side-footed finish. With Mark Pritchard and Boi controlling the middle of the park there was no stopping the home side. Heagney popped up again in the 33rd minute to nod in at the far post from a Pritchard free-kick, and five minutes from the break Boi chased down a poor back pass to put away Floreat’s fourth goal.
It took Heagney just six minutes of the second half to complete his first State League hat-trick, the striker guiding his header past Duffecy after Boi’s corner was flicked on by Boland. With the result now beyond doubt, the home team eased off but their cavalier approach was punished on 68 minutes by Clisby’s curling effort from outside the 18-yard box. Inglewood attempts to bring some further respectability to the final score provide fruitless while at the other end of the park Boland intercepted a poor clearance which he blasted into the roof of the net nine minutes from the end.
GIRON-MARULANDA SPARKLES (with Bianca Redding, Football West)
Bayswater City climbed to within touching distance of top spot by dumping Armadale 3-0 at Frank Drago Reserve. Colombian striker Gustavo Giron-Marulanda, who had been linked to several A-League clubs, was the star of the afternoon with all three goals but Bayswater coach Mauro Marchione says his teams’ best to yet to come. “We started slowly today and we need to work on this, we need to be ready from the first minute of every game,” he said. Armadale, who stump up the league with nothing to show from their five games, had goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock sent off early in the second half.
Visiting defenders Mitch Castrill, Nick Viaggio and Sam Loveless were working overtime early to contain Giron-Marulanda, Gustavo Catarcione and their team mates. The breakthrough came on 28 minutes when Giron-Marulanda drew a foul from Viaggio with the livewire striker blasted into the net from the penalty spot. Two minutes later Cisco Jorquera carried the ball through midfield before threading into the path of Giron-Marulanda whose shot on the run was too good for Sharrock. Armadale’s attempts to return fire were few and far between with the visitors continually breaking down in the final third.
Armadale’s day went from bad to worse in the 53 minute as referee Josh Mannella booked Sharrock for dissent, earning the goalkeeper his second yellow card of the afternoon. No surprisingly Bayswater pilled on the pressure with Jorquera, Jack Wilkinson, Catarcione and Paul McCarthy combining to bring substitute ‘keeper Jack Adams into action for the first time. Armadale fashioned their first genuine shot after 75 minutes but Graeme O’Flaherty was unable to convert after being played through. Five minutes later Catarcione played in Giron-Marulanda, who beat Viaggio and Adams before sliding the ball past Adams to seal victory.
KNIGHTS EDGE SORRENTO IN NINE-GOAL THRILLER
A new-look Western Knights overturned a three-goal deficit to bring down Sorrento 5-4 in a thrilling encounter at Percy Doyle Reserve. Jesse Fuller scored twice with Luka Jukic, Ryan Shackleton and new signing Matthew Thomas also finding the back of the net to earn the Knights their first victory in a month. “We needed that,” commented 21-year old Shackleton post-game. “A few of the younger players proved they are a match for anyone. Ethan (Levitt), Ivan (Skorich) and Jesse (Fuller) all put in a good shift and should be proud of their performances , and also Davie Annall and Ivan Zuvela at the back.”
Sorrento got off to the perfect start with Brodie Martin brilliantly volleying past goalkeeper Kevin Miller for an 11th minute lead. That margin was doubled seven minutes later when Reece Vittiglia slipped the ball between Miller’s legs after being played in by Todd Harnwell. There was just no stopping Sorrento who with 25 minutes on the clock posted a third goal, Jason Mirco sending the ‘keeper the wrong way after he had been bundled over inside the 18-yard box. Although on the ropes, the Knights hit back three minutes later when substitute Shackleton controlled a high ball and laid it off to Fuller, who didn’t break stride to tucking inside the bottom corner.
Jukic further reduced the deficit two minutes later by unleashing a low strike from 20-metres into the bottom corner with ‘keeper Curtis Aspden rooted to the spot. Sorrento’s defence was caught at sea again in the 34th minute when Ivan Skorich floated a cross into the area where Fuller got his angles right to head across Aspden and bring the teams level. The momentum was now firmly with the visitors and three minutes from the break they hit the front for the first time with Shackleton punishing poor defending to nip in front of Darryl Platten and hook the ball into the net.
The second half didn’t really get going until the 62nd minute when Steve McDonald bundled the ball in following a corner to make it four-all. Vittiglia wasted a glorious opportunity to restore Sorrento’s lead soon after when his hesitancy allowed Miller to smother. This miss was compounded in the 66th minute, Jukic’s free-kick into the area catching out Aspden but not Thomas, who had little trouble nodding into the net unchallenged. Sorrento carved out numerous chances to equalise but Martin blazed high, Jamie Harnwell’s header was saved by Miller and Jason Mirco’s vicious long-range strike sailed just wide of the target. The home side continued to press but the Knights held firm to secure all the points.
ADIAN DOWNES JOONDALUP
A brilliant strike by Irishman Aidan Downes was enough to give Bunbury Forum Force a 1-0 win over ECU Joondalup at Payne Park. Downes found the back of the net early in the second half to extend new coach Alan Armstrong’s unbeaten record to three games, and push Joondalup into eight position. After a scrappy opening it was Bunbury that found their feet first with Jon Brooks’ delivery out of midfield leading to some nervous moments for the visiting defence. Joondalup slowly worked their way into the game thanks to the pace of Matt Italiano and Tanner Selyer, the latter denied by Ryan Montgomery’s sharp reflexes in a one-one-one for the halves best chance.
Bunbury came out firing after the break and five minutes in Brooks found space in the middle of the park before threading a pass to Downes whose crisp strike soared into the top corner of Andy Banks’ net. The home crowd was up on their feet again just a few minutes later when Aiden Savroy’s goal bound shot was kept out brilliantly by Banks. From that point on Bunbury laid siege on their visitors goal, Brooks, Adam Clough and substitute Bright Ababio time after time driving their team forward. Good chances to increase the difference came the way of Savroy, Downes and Ababio but Banks was no no mood to be beaten for a second time.
BALCATTA SCRAP PAST NTC
New recruit Callum Roberts marked his Balcatta debut by scoring the deciding goal in today’s 3-2 win over the National Training Centre at Grindleford Reserve. Although happy to take the three points, coach Michael Roki felt his team’s finishing left a lot to be desired. “"We had plenty of opportunities to win the game today, (but) probably didn’t make the best of it. We probably could have won by a goal or more,” he said. “Early in the game we were under a little bit of pressure but we decided to persevere and improve our individual performances.”
The NTC made a positive start with Slobodan Vulin netting from 8-metres after Balcatta failed to clear a Blamo Quaqua centre. A couple of good chances to equalise came the way of Roberts but the midfielder skied a cross from Moe Atak and was later thwarted by goalkeeper Luke Radonich. It took until the 29th minute for hosts to break through, Roberts streaming out of midfield to slip a pass through for Thornley to convert in a one-on-one. Twelve minutes later Thornley’s second goal put Balcatta in front, the striker’s shot on the turn flashing past Radonich from a clever set piece instigated by Steve Burton.
The second half started much like the first, the NTC turning the ball over in midfield to release Jordan Dodd who weaved past several defenders before placing his shot beyond an exposed Lewis Italiano and into the bottom corner. John Mills came off the bench to laid on the settler on 71 minutes, the midfielder lofting over the defence for Roberts who, after taking one touch, slammed an unstoppable half-volley into the roof of the net from 16-metres. Thornley has his chances to complete what would have been a deserved hat-trick but was on three separate occasions denied by Radonich.
MANDURAH SET THE TONE (courtesy Mandurah City)
Craig Tone scored three times to send Mandurah City to the top of Division One with a 3-0 defeat of Shamrock Rovers at Hyundai Stadium. The afternoon could not have started better for Mandurah, Jeff Bright crossing from the left for Tone to head past goalkeeper Eamon Barnes with just 90 seconds on the clock. Shamrock went looked for a quick reply but Barry Triggs’ free-kick was saved by Phil Straker in the Mandurah goal. The home side were just as eager to score and not long after Tone volleyed in from 12-metres after meeting a low centre from Bright. Mandurah were unlucky not to score again just before the break when Jay Bonser’s headed against the post with Tone’s follow-up hitting the crossbar.
The second half opened with Mandurah again on the attack, Michael Grigo transferring possession to Bright whose effort was directed at the upright. Shamrock were working tirelessly to get back in the game and on 65 minutes would have scored had Chris Wylie not halted Shaun Taylor’s effort on the goal line. With the sides wrestling for control of midfield it was Shamrock that next threatened via a Barry Mulligan free-kick that smacked into the post, while appeals for a penalty were turned down by the referee. Tone sealed his hat-trick, and victory, soon after by stealing the ball from Barnes and placing neatly into an empty net.
FOUR IN A ROW FOR WANNEROO (courtesy Wanneroo City)
A couple of second half goals secured Wanneroo City their fourth win a row, 2-0 over Canning City at Hossack Reserve. Josh Booysen was on target for the second time in eight days before Chris Pugh made the points safe with a powerful header. The result keeps Wanneroo level on points at the top of the Division One leader board with Mandurah City. Brad McDonald was influential throughout a first half which the visiting team dominated but didn’t create much in the way of goal scoring opportunities. Canning started to get more involved midway through the period and would have entered the break in front if not for two goal line clearances by Ross Edwards.
The second half had been underway just two minutes when Booysen received the ball wide on the left and after cutting in unleashed a superb shot across the goalkeeper which found the far top corner. The remainder of the game was played out between the boxes with neither side Canning nor Wanneroo able to assert themselves. The result was made safe in the 80th minute when Andy O’Neill delivered a free-kick into the 18-yard box where Pugh rose well to head into the back of the net. With no option but to attack, Canning mounted a late surge but the closest they’d come to a late consolation was a Blake Readwin shot which Clint Davies pushed to safety.
COCKBURN FLEX THEIR MUSCLE
Cockburn City underlined their Division One title credentials by sweeping past Ashfield 4-2 at Ashfield Reserve. The Cockerels third straight win moves them into fourth spot, just three points behind the leaders. “It was a good reward for our recent hard work and a turning point in our season, we have shown we are threat in this league,” said Cockburn striker John Hunter. “We played some really good football and scored three unanswered goals but then let Ashfield back in. Thankfully we managed to settle and kill the game with a fourth goal.”
Paul Lloyd got the ball rolling for the visitors after just 11 minutes by seizing on a sloppy defensive pass which he put past goalkeeper John Perkins. Chances then came thick and fast for both teams with Cockburn doubling their advantage on 28 minutes, Devon Gibson supplying the pass which Ian McMurray sent into the net. Two minutes later Gibson’s spectacular overhead kick increased the difference even further after Ashfield failed to sufficiently deal with a corner. Mladen Kovacevic pulled a goal back soon after by converting at the back post a free-kick floated over the defence.
The second half had barely started when Rueben Tristao, who had come off the bench at the break, found the back of the net to put Ashfield back in the hunt. As the minutes ticked by the pace became ever more frantic with both teams working tirelessly in search of the all-important next goal. It would be McMurray that sealed Cockburn the points by lashing past Perkins after exchanging passes with Ross Diamond. Ashfield continued to press but on each occasion were turned away by a strong backline under the guidance of Euan Grant. The game was almost done when the referee stepped in to quell tensions stemming from a melee in Cockburn defensive area.
LAWLOR STEALS ROCKINGHAM LATE POINTS (courtesy Rockingham City)
Rockingham City made it back-to-back wins by seeing off Forrestfield United 2-1 at Hartfield Park. Darren Lawler scored twice to propel Rockingham into fifth position as Forrestfield’s search for their first points continues. The early signs were positive for the visitors with Roy Hissey going close after meeting a cross from Papa Kpatar, who soon after placed just wide. Against the run of play Forrestfield took the lead through James Harold’s long-range strike which deflected into Phil Herschell’s net off the post. Rockingham resumed the attack but were unable to find a way past Luke Woodfin despite having a good number of opportunities.
The second half didn’t come to life until after Forrestfield were denied what looked a clear penalty when Jordan Hart was taken down from behind by Lawlor. The referee did point to the spot but at the other end for handball five minutes later, however, Woodfin dived correctly to thwart Kpatar. The Forrestfield custodian tipped wide another Kpatar effort soon after but from the resulting corner was helpless as Lawlor headed in from Marco Dos Santos’ delivery. Rockingham pilled on the pressure in search of an equaliser but neither Oscar Thompson nor Hissey were able to convert when opportunities presented. The decider arrived on 93 minutes when Lawlor chested into the net from Brent Mayhew’s delivery.
SWAN TAKE FLIGHT
Two goals from each John Monterosso and Lucas Whitehouse guided Swan United to a 5-0 victory over Morley Windmills at Wotton Reserve. The black and white second win of the campaign win jumps them into eighth spot, much to the delight of John O’Reilly. “The lads played well, they were very determined to transfer their training efforts in to the game,” said the winning coach. “We were clinical in front of goal and I was particularly happy with John Montorosso and Lucas Whitehouse, who were in top form.”
Morley may have settled quickly and won several corners but the home team were unable to convert their early pressure into goals. John Monterosso showed them how it’s done on the quarter hour by pouncing on some sloppy defending to score past the goalkeeper. Three minutes Rory Hollingham punished lax marking inside the 18-yard box to head in the back and white second goal. Morley should have pulled a goal back but David Houston blasted his spot kick into the upright. The game was made safe shortly before the half-time when Whitehouse added his name to the scoresheet.
Swan continued on their merry way after the break with John Monterosso out-pacing the defence before slotting past an exposed ‘keeper to make it four-nil. The introduction of Mark Grant and Chris Bruin breathed some much-needed life into the home team but goals continued to evade Houston and Matt Bonasera. Just when it seemed Morley’s day couldn’t get any worse it did, Luke O’Neill leaving the action early with suspected broken ribs following a heavy challenge from Whitehouse. With nine minutes to go Whitehouse put away Swan’s fifth and final goal.
UWA HIT SIX TO STAY UNBEATEN
UWA-Nedlands stretched their winning start to Division Two to four games by demolishing Kingsway Olympic 6-2 at McGillvray Oval. Jack Mann and James Plowman helped themselves to a brace each with Rory Feely and captain Steve Purton also on target as UWA came from behind to take maximum points for the fourth successive week. The games’ first opening was fashioned by the home team but Purton was unable to capitalise. That miss was punished when Josh Rolls latched onto a poor back pass to put away his fifth goal in eight days.
A quick response what needed and it arrived via a well-worked throw which allowed Feely to sneak in at the back post and head into Ben Towers’ net. The pendulum had now swung in the hosts favour and had it not been for the heroics of Towers then UWA would have tallied of several more goals in the minutes that followed. But it was Kingsway that scored next with a fierce strike on the counterattack that flew past the out-stretched gloves of Danny Roberts. UWA returned fire with a couple of rapid fire goals scored by Plowman and Mann to enter the break with the upper hand.
Any hopes the visitors held of regaining the lead were dashed after the turnaround. Tom Sellers was rock solid in the centre of defence while Brad Skea’s work in the middle of the park was instrumental as UWA ran riot. Plowman and Mann both stuck the ball in the back of the net for a second time before Purton put the icing on the cake with a superb volley from the edge of the 18-yard box. David Ashworth presented the opportunity to add a bit of respectability to the final scoreline but his late spot kick was saved by Roberts.
FINDLATER GRABS FREMANTLE’S LATE WINNER
A stoppage time header by Nathan Findlater earned Fremantle United a 1-0 win over Joondalup City from their meeting at Iluka Sports Complex. Much of the first half was played out in the middle of the park with Fremantle stringing together the better of moves only to be turned away by their hosts defence. The best opening of the period came the way of Darren Monaghan who lifted high of the crossbar from 9-metres after meeting a low cross. Joondalup weren’t without their chances but neither Lucais King nor Steve Lane was able to convert in one-on-ones with the goalkeeper.
The second half was just as tight with genuine shots on goal few and far between. Another low centre made its way to Monaghan but again his finish was high, while at the other end King hit the crossbar after meeting a cross from the left. Joondalup were fortunate not to go down a man but the referee chose to issue only bookings to several rash tackles. The injection of fresh legs off the bench worked a treat for Fremantle who, with 93 minutes gone, conjured the games’ only goal with Findlater heading into the net after a clever flick by substitute David Caputi.
UNDER PRESSURE SUBIACO GRIND OUT VICTORY (courtesy Subiaco AFC)
A ten-man Subiaco AFC survived a second half onslaught to claim a 1-0 win over Melville City from their encounter at Len Shearer Reserve. Jordan Rhodes settled a tight game with only minutes to spare after team mate defender Barry Hurd was issued his marching orders son after the interval. Melville were continually caught out in the first half by a well-drilled off-side trap which kept visiting goalkeeper Tom Barratt largely untested. Subiaco had better luck going forward but were also unable to break through despite chances for Ger Fitzgerald, Simon Edwards and Eamon Keegan.
The second half was only minutes old when Hurd was shown a straight red card for retaliation after lashing out at an opponent. Not surprisingly, Melville went on to dominate possession for the remainder of the afternoon but a disciplined defence and the heroics of Barrett kept the teams on an even footing. With Melville committing players forward, cracks began to appear in their defences which Rhodes, Simon Ralphs, Danny Malcolm and Edwards were determined to exploit. Rhodes settled the game in the 80th minute by crashing his shot past Stewart Delgarno, who brilliantly blocked the attackers’ initial two attempts.
GLORY TO GAMBLE FOR GRAND FINAL
Perth Glory coach Ian Ferguson is leaning towards taking a double punt on the injury front in tomorrow’s Grand Final against Brisbane Roar, with winger Andrezinho and midfielder Liam Miller likely to retain their starting roles. Andrezinho, who injured his groin in last weekend’s win over Central Coast Mariners, has failed to train all week but flew over to Brisbane with the rest of the squad yesterday. Ferguson said he would make a final call on Andrezinho at training on Saturday but rated the 27-year old as a 60% chance to start in Brisbane.
Miller’s chances are even stronger, with the former Manchester United midfielder almost certain to play despite experiencing tightness in his hamstring at training on Wednesday. “Liam Miller has come back and the scans have been great so there’s no problems at all,” Ferguson said. “There’s no tear or anything, no strain, so hopefully he should take his place. He’s too important a player to leave out and he’s been influential in the last three or four games for us in there with Jacob Burns. It’s a gamble we’ll have to take but I’m sure he’s going to be okay.”
VUKOVIC CHASING REDEMPTION
Perth Glory goalkeeper Danny Vukovic will be out for redemption when he faces Brisbane Roar in Sunday’s A-League Grand Final. Vukovic caused a sensation playing for Central Coast Mariners in the 2007/08 season decider when he was red carded for slapping the referee’s arm as his team huddled around to protest an undetected hand ball. Cited for violent conduct, the resulting 12-month suspension cost the ‘keeper his place in the 2008 Australian Olympic Games team, and put the brakes on one of the country’s fastest emerging talents.
Now 27, Vukovic is hoping to find closure on the incident and change how he will be remembered by lifting the trophy for Glory. “Definitely (it’s a chance at redemption). Everyone knows what happened last time I was in a Grand Final, so I think tomorrow is a good chance to rectify the wrongs I’ve done in past Grand Finals,” he said. “I’m hoping for a positive result for us, but that’s always going to be the main memory. Something terrible that I’ve done, a stupid mistake – unfortunately for myself I’ll probably be remembered for that rather than my performances on the pitch.”
Vukovic has been through some turbulent times since that fateful day in 2008 but the powerfully built stopper has rediscovered his form since reuniting with coach Ian Ferguson. “I always had belief, that’s why I came to the club,” Vukovic said. “Talking to Fergie before the season started about the players he was going to bring (in), it sounded like we had the makings of a very good side. We didn’t know how long it was going to take for us to gel, but we managed to turn it around after the form slump in the middle of the season and haven’t looked back.”
PREMIER DIVISION PREVIEW
Two of the Premier Division’s forms teams, Floreat Athena and Inglewood United, come face to face in the footballwa.net match of the week at Litis Stadium tomorrow. Floreat have won three on the bounce but coach Chris Barbas knows his new-look team needs to be at their best to take anything from the afternoon. “Inglewood is the form team in the league and we’re looking forward to Saturday. We will give them the utmost respect, especially with Graham Normanton and Bobby Despotovski at the helm,” said Barbas.
Inglewood are riding high at the top of the table with four straight wins, the most recent coming against last year’s table toppers Balcatta, and defender Alex Caniglia has every confidence his side will again take maximum points. “Just like every other week, we go out to win playing the style of football taught to us by Normo and Bobby,” he said. “Who our opponents are doesn’t change our mindset as we treat every game as if it is a final. This week should be a very good game showcasing great football from both sides.”
Home side Sorrento are tipped to claim victory over a Western Knights side still reeling from last week’s humiliating loss. Bayswater City inflicted that by scoring eight times and Mauro Marchione’s players are expected to win comfortably again when an as yet pointless Armadale heads to Frank Drago Reserve. Bunbury Forum Force will be in a buoyant mood for ECU Joondalup’s visit to Payne Park. Grindleford Reserve has Balcatta verses the National Training Centre. All five Saturday games kick-off at 3.00pm.
Round Five includes with a Sunday showdown between Stirling Lions and Perth SC at Macedonia Park (3.00pm). “Perth is probably the best team in the league and we go into the game as underdogs,” said Stirling striker Matt Barlow, who returns to England following the game. “My visa is coming to an end, I’m gutted to be leaving so early but I’m sure with the team we have we can be successful. It’s a big game on Sunday so hopefully there will be a few people come down.”
DIVISION ONE PREVIEW
Mandurah City’s home clash with Shamrock Rovers is the highlight of tomorrow’s Division One action. A watertight defence led by goalkeeper Phil Straker has played no small part in the Dolphins winning three on the trot, but for that to continue Matt Stares and Jeff Bright will need to be in tip-top form going forward. Shamrock have stuttered their way through the opening month of the season and for the club from East Victoria Park to get back on track Brian Farrell, Shaun Taylor and Paudie O’Connor have big roles to play.
Canning City welcomes a Wanneroo City line-up which has won three from three to Hossack Reserve. Home captain Garth Lecky has recovered from injury to make his first appearance for the season, however, veteran defender Ante Kovacevic is likely to be absent for the second week running. With Chris Perrott and Peter Lord back from injury, Forrestfield United are confident of picking up their first points of the campaign when they host Rockingham City. Dianella White Eagles are expected to get the better of Fremantle Spirit at Dianella Reserve.
Swan United can breathe new life into their season by claiming the points over Morley Windmills at Wotton Reserve. Lucas Whitehouse and David McNally are expected to come back into the eleven for the black and whites, however, goalkeeper Daniel Agudelo and Rhys Loxley remain sidelined by injury. The round concludes with top of the table Ashfield up against a fast-improving Cockburn City side at Ashfield Reserve. Cockburn have won their last two outings and to make that three will need Ross Diamond, new signing Ian Stack and Paul Natale firing on all cylinders from the get-go. All Division One games kick-off at 3.00pm with the exception of Mandurah-Shamrock, which starts at 6.00pm.
DIVISION TWO PREVIEW
Melville City and Subiaco AFC each wants maximum points from their mid-table clash at Len Shearer Reserve to kick-start their respective campaigns in Division Two. “This is a big game for us, the league is going to be so tight this year so we can't afford too many slip ups,” said Melville goalkeeper Stewart Delgarno. “Subiaco have started the year well and we’re coming off two poor results but I’m confident we can turn it around. It’ll be a hard game … and a good one for the neutrals to get down and watch.”
UWA-Nedlands three-game winning run will come under threat when third-placed Kingsway Olympic travels to McGilvray Oval. Kudzi Chingawanda returns from suspension for the home side but Paul Sanchez misses out for the same reason. This weeks’ arrival of Joe Woodin and Farrell Hedges in the Kingsway camp has given coach Steve Dimitrovich food for thought. The odds are stacked firmly against Joondalup City so much as a point from their clash with Fremantle United at Iluka Sports Complex. All three Division Two games commence at 3.00pm on Saturday.
“FORRESTFIELD’S TOUGHEST SEASON YET”: BUTLER
Coach Phil Butler isn’t underestimating the challenges that lay ahead of Division One club Forrestfield United. The eastern corridor club was plunged into turmoil following the recent resignations of their president and secretary, which came hot on the heels of the summer departure of much of their senior playing list. Not surprisingly, they have called an Extraordinary General Meeting for next week to plot a course forward. “There is no doubt this is going to be Forrestfield’s toughest season yet, and nobody is pretending otherwise,” Butler said.
Butler is confident the club are heading in the right direction. “Thankfully we have many new people that are prepared to jump in to help the club pull through these difficult times. The EGM will confirm our new administrative team and ratify the direction and assistance needed to move forward,” commented the coach. “The off-field distractions certainly haven’t helped (the team) and in many ways it would have been easier to walk away. I have great admiration for the players, coaches and backroom staff who have stayed loyal and together we will develop the next generation of quality Forrestfield players.”
Forrestfield have issued an open invitation to attend the EGM on the evening of Thursday 26th April at Hartfield Park. “A couple of influential people who worked for the club for many years dropped the ball in recent times, and instead of seeking assistance developed a siege mentality resulting in the club really struggling in many areas,” explained Butler. “We have also had to remove a coach who was actively undermining the Saturday squads, and you always have individuals who just love to kick you when you are down.”
The opening month of the new Division One season has been tough on Forrestfield who, four games in, are yet to register their first point. Those are statistics which do not overly concern Butler whose main priority is to assemble a squad which is capable of keeping their heads above water this year so as to allow for future development. “We are taking small steps each week and if we can keep relatively injury-free then we have a good chance of building the foundations required for sustained growth in this division and beyond,” Butler said.
Butler has faith in the players at Forrestfield and believes their first win of the season is just around the corner. “We were the better team for 60 minutes against Shamrock Rovers and really should not have lost to Dianella White Eagles or Cockburn City,” he said. “We are re-building and we have only a small squad and it will take time for the players to perform consistently. I am very confident if the players keep working hard and believe in their own ability then we will turn results around and slowly creep up the league table.”
Forrestfield’s next on-field challenge comes in the form of a home game with Rockingham City on Saturday. “All the games for us this year will be massive challenges. Rockingham will be no different, they have had some fantastic results and I’m sure they will be very confident that they will come away with a win,” commented Butler. “We recently played Rockingham in the Cup and we were extremely unlucky not to win that day. So I’m hoping we can start connecting our good performances in to actual results and a result against Rocky would kick-start our season off just nicely.”
RISDON RELISHING BROICH BATTLE
Josh Risdon, the youngest and least experienced player in Perth Glory’s starting line-up, is unconcerned at the prospect of keeping marking the player regarded as the A-League’s best, Thomas Broich, in Sunday’s Grand Final. 19-year old Risdon has shown time and time again this season he is capable of rising to the occasion and is relishing the opportunity to keep tabs on the Brisbane Roar maestro. “It’s a great big task (to play on Broich), he won the Johnny Warren Medal and has had a great year,” said Risdon. “I’m looking forward to the challenge, I haven’t played on him yet and hopefully I can do my best on him.”
Risdon, whose form has mirrored that of Glory this year, rates January’s fighting 3-3 draw with Brisbane as the turning point in their season. “We weren’t even expected to make the finals at that stage but we had a great turn around in form and we have been on a great run since the start of the new year,” Risdon said. “When we played them the first time we got thumped 4-0 and I think to draw 3-3 was a great achievement for us, from there we had this winning mentality and went on a great roll, which got us into the top four.”
Glory may not have beaten Brisbane this season – Roar have win twice with the points shared in the other meeting – but Risdon is convinced his team can triumph on Sunday. “We have a great belief that we can and have taken a lot of confidence from beating the (Central Coast) Mariners. We were underdogs in that game and it’s better for us to be underdogs again, all the pressure is on the Roar to win,” he said. “At the same time it’s a long trip for us from Perth and they’re great at Suncorp. They are the best team in the league, but our boys are up for it and anything can really happen on the day.”
SPENCE, CANIGLIA GRATEFUL FOR GLORY EXPERIENCE
Inglewood United have made a flying start to the new season with a quartet of wins under new coaches Graham Normanton and Bobby Despotovski. Two players who’ve caught the eye during that run are summer signings Devon Spence and Alex Caniglia, both who’ve settled into the club following spells at Perth Glory Youth. “It has been a great start for the boys,” said 21-year old Spence, who recently returned from holidaying in South Africa. “Everyone has been very welcoming since my first training session, they’ve all made me feel very comfortable there, so I am very grateful for this.”
Spence joins Inglewood following an enjoyable summer with Glory. “I tried to soak up as much as I could, I learnt a lot under Gareth Naven and John Gibson with the youth team and was great training with the first team and working with Jonathan Gould,” the former Perth SC goalkeeper said. “Obviously I would love to step up to the next level, but for now my focus will need to be on the State League. If I maintain consistence performances throughout the season, who knows…”
Caniglia also enjoyed the time he spent with Glory, which commenced last July with a friendly outings against Scottish giants Celtic. “Playing for Perth Glory Youth has been one of the highlights of my career,” said the 20-year old, who for the past couple of season has played for Bayswater City. “Gareth Naven taught me things about football that I had never previously experienced, and which has greatly improved my ability as a player. The boys were all excellent players and I thoroughly enjoyed my season with the Youth team.”
Playing A-League is the end goal for Caniglia but, like Spence, he knows there’s a lot of hard work ahead if he is to make it. “I’ve got to work hard for Inglewood this season,” said the defender. “Normo and Bobby are both fantastic coaches and their experience combined shows in both training sessions and on game day. They expect a lot of us as players but at the same time give us the opportunity to showcase our abilities during training sessions, which has so far has translated to great results on the pitch.”
MEHMET VITAL IN GLORY’S TITLE CHASE
The strike partnership of Shane Smeltz and Billy Mehmet will go a long way to deciding Perth Glory’s fate in Sunday’s A-League Grand Final at Brisbane Roar. Smeltz has been grabbing most of the headlines but Mehmet’s contributions off and on the ball have been just as important in Glory’s progression to the season finale. “I am happy with my own form, to get the goal against Wellington (Phoenix) and to set up Smeltzy at the weekend (against Central Coast Mariners),” Mehmet commented. “I am delighted with that but the whole team performance we have all been chipping in, working hard and the boys at the back have been keeping clean sheets.”
The partnership between Mehmet and Smeltz stems back to the time they spent together at Turkish club Genclerbirligi a few years back. “We have got a good understanding of each other from when we played together in Turkey and we get along off the park,” said Mehmet. “I thought we started the season quite well. Against Adelaide (United) I scored and then against Melbourne Heart, he scored two,” Mehmet said. “Then a few things got changed, we played a different formation, (Steve) McGarry came in and he played well, but I’m happy with the way Smeltzy and I have been playing.”
Mehmet says Glory must shut down Brisbane’s central unit if they are to stand any chance of winning Sunday’s game. “We know it will be a tough game but if we play the way we have in previous weeks we will be fine,” he said. “The most important thing is to stop them passing the ball around. If we can get up the ground and stop (Eric) Paartalu distributing the ball to (Thomas) Broich, (Besart) Berisha, Henrique and (Mitch) Nichols then that will help us … they’re a great passing team and have set the standard for the last few years.”
Heading in the other direction, Mehmet could really be a prized asset. The attacker’s aerial abilities are one of his major strengths and they will have to be at their best as he takes on a couple of tall players in the heart of Brisbane’s defence. “They have big boys at the back (Sayed Mohamed) Adnan and (Matthew) Jurman. It’s going to be tough, like it is against all defenders in this league, you don’t come up against an easy defender,” he said. “It’s going to be physical but I enjoy that part of the game, so whoever I come up against, I’ll try and win that battle.”
Glory will be joined in Brisbane by their travelling army of supporters, who Mehmet hopes will have plenty of reason to make noise amongst what is likely to be an orange army at Suncorp Stadium. “To have fans at the game ... it’s brilliant, the fans deserve this reward as well. They’ve stuck by us through the season. I’ve seen some awesome scenes from the pubs on YouTube from the penalty shootout, where the pubs were going mental so if we have got that support with us, it will help us, back us and hopefully drive us through to get a result.”
INTERFERENCE LEADS GOODMAN TO WALK OUT
Jamie Goodman had no option but to resign as coach of Dianella White Eagles after it became clear his position was untenable. Goodman and his assistant Michael DI Fulvio stepped down on Friday afternoon, only days after guiding the club to a 5-2 victory at Forrestfield United and just 24 hours before a trip to Ashfield. “We only had the support of half of the committee, that was fairly obvious as some (of the committee) have vested interests on what was happening on the park,” Goodman commented. “At the end of the day you have to enjoy what you are doing and the club made it difficult to do that.”
Goodman has been unhappy with goings on at Dianella for some time. “The Dianella president approached our bench during the game at Forrestfield, just after they had equalised, and told me that a player had just lost us the game. We went on to win that game 5-2 but instead of celebrating a win they were critical of team selection,” explained Goodman. “These types of things have been happening all season, even after we pushed Perth SC all the way in the Night Series. We expressed our concerns on a number of occasions to the club but nothing changed.”
The events of late last week convinced Goodman that he no longer wanted to be part of the Dianella club. “It all came to a head on Thursday night over a player’s wages being underpaid. The club believed that the player was not worth the wage that had been agreed to when he joined the club,” said Goodman. “We also included a new signing in the squad for Saturday’s game with Ashfield who in our opinion improved the team, which also caused issues. The board constantly wanted to meddle in team selection and we found ourselves justifying certain players in certain positions week in week out.”
Goodman admits it was hard to walk away from the past nine months at Dianella. “We worked really hard this year to get a competitive side on the park as well as trying to change the reputation of the club,” he said. “We felt that on the field we were heading in the right direction after a very good Night Series and a good start to the league. I can safely say that we have improved the squad in quality and depth, and have put together a young side that can beat anyone and one that will only get better with age.”
The search for Dianella’s ninth coach in seven years may have begun but Goodman says it will take a lot more than that if the club is serious about being become a force in Division One. “The club itself needs to get some young blood involved that has knowledge of the local game and football in general if it is to move into the current era,” said Goodman. “There are good people at Dianella whose hearts are in the right place (but) at the end of the day you can’t change something that doesn’t want to change.”
HIGH FLYING WANNEROO “NOT GETTING AHEAD OF THEMSELVES”: TOUGH
David Tough could not have wished for a better start to his coaching tenure at Wanneroo City. The northern suburbs club have opened their Division One campaign with a trio of wins which have them just one point away from top spot, and while he’s happy with the early results Tough is not one to get carried away. “We’re delighted with the start of the season but we’re not getting ahead of ourselves,” said the coach. “Each of our wins could have easily gone the other way, we’ve had the rub of the green with some decisions which I’m sure will even its way out over the season.”
Luck certainly played its part in Wanneroo coming away with all three points from Swan United on the weekend. The game looked destined to finish 1-1 when Josh Booysen’s stoppage time strike crashed down off the crossbar and struck the goalkeeper on the back before ricocheting over the line. “Swan have a very strong and experienced squad and before the game we would have been happy with a point,” commented Tough. “We’ve had three of the hard away games in the first three fixtures so to come away with the nine points has exceeded our expectations.”
Things are going well for Wanneroo off the park as well with the unveiling of new clubrooms scheduled for later this month. “The clubrooms have been upgraded and the improvements to the training and playing facilities at Wanneroo has been incredible,” Tough said. “In seasons past I’m sure teams would have dreaded coming to Wanneroo as the pitch just wasn’t up to scratch but that’s no longer the case as we’re going to have one of the best pitches in the state. This is massive for the club as we will be offering a more attractive training ground and facilities to both junior and senior players and teams.”
But before that happening Wanneroo face a fourth successive away game, this time they’re off to Canning City. “It’s another massive game and we’ll need to be on the top of our game to get the victory,” commented the coach. “Paul and Michael Van Dongen are both very good players and they have recruited well. Anthony Campbell is handful for any defence and Paul Oliver is a talented player with the ability to score from distance. The loss of Ante Kovacevic, who is away with Perth Glory, would affect any team but I’m sure Garth Lecky – if fit – will go a long way to filling that gap.”
CLUBS CIRCLE FOR BIRIGHITTI
Young goalkeeper Mark Birighitti says Newcastle United remains his number one choice but admits rivals clubs are already circling amid the uncertainty at the club. Sydney FC and Melbourne Heart are reportedly chasing the signature of the 21-year old Adelaide United ‘keeper, who will remain a Reds player until their Asian Champion’s League group stage commitments end next month. Birighitti said he was open to speaking with other clubs but wanted to stick with Newcastle, who signed him in January. “A few clubs have been in contact with my agent but there’s nothing yet. They’ve just spoken,” Birighitti told theherald.com.au.
Birighitti admits to being devastated when he heard Nathan Tinkler’s Hunter Sports Group wanted to hand back its A-League licence. “I was really, really looking forward to the move. I was pumped up,” Birighitti said. “Hearing that news was shattering, but I was told by my manager to remain patient. (Newcastle coach) Gary Van Egmond called me the other day to speak about a few things – where he’s at, where the club’s at and where I’m at – and it’s all under control and the rest will take care of itself. My first option is Newcastle, I signed with the club because I heard it’s a great club with a great background.”
Since the decision eight days ago by HSG, Newcastle players, officials and supporters have been hanging on to the hope that the club’s future can be secured. But the door remains open for rival clubs to pick apart the Newcastle roster. “If player comes to us and wants to leave, we can’t hold a player back,” chief executive Robbie Middleby said. “There’s some very good ones in there, like Birighitti, James Brown and Adam Taggart. But I haven’t been contacted by their agents yet to say that they want to leave and I have been in contact with the agents and the players themselves ... It’s a waiting game.”
WE’LL NEED TO BE AT OUR BEST SAYS GLORY’S SMELTZ
Perth Glory marksman Shane Smeltz knows his team will have to produce their best performance of the season if they are to upset the odds and win this weekend’s A-League Grand Final. Defending champions Brisbane Roar are overwhelming favourites to wrap up successive titles and Smeltz indicated that anything less than top form from every Glory player would result in shattering disappointment for the club. “We’ve got to play the best game we’ve played all year to win this game – and I think the players know that,” the New Zealand international said.
Glory have been thumped this season by Brisbane, 3-0 and 4-0, but sandwiched between those was an exciting 3-3 draw. “I didn’t play in that game but I watched it and it was almost a disappointment to draw that game,” Smeltz said. “I think we played really well in the first half, sort of dominated, got the goals and then obviously they showed how good a team they are and they came back and scored some goals. I’m sure we’re going to take some confidence out of that ... but I think we’re actually playing better football now.”
Glory took the circuitous route to the season finale. Smeltz bagged a hat-trick in a 3-0 win over Melbourne Heart before Todd Howarth grabbed an extra-time winner against Wellington Phoenix. They then endured another energy-sapping extra-time match against Central Coast in which captain Jacob Burns netted the winner in a penalty shoot-out. Despite his teams punishing scheduled, coach Ian Ferguson will have near full squad to select from for Sunday’s game with only Brazilian midfielder Andrezinho in doubt with a groin injury.
CHEESEMAN APPOINTED TO A-LEAGUE GRAND FINAL
Mathew Cheeseman has been named as an assistant referee for Sunday's A-League Grand Final between Perth Glory and Brisbane Roar. 27-year old Cheeseman is only the second West Australian to be appointed to a national league Grand Final, following Eddie Lennie, who was in charge of four National Soccer League deciders. “When I saw FFA’s number come up on my phone this morning, I think my heart skipped a beat,” said Cheeseman. “How do you respond when you’re asked: ‘What are you doing Sunday afternoon?’ … I never thought that this would even be a possibility, so to say I’m excited is a huge understatement.
Cheeseman, who has run the line in two A-League finals games in the past month, is taking his call-up to the season finale in his stride. “Obviously it’s the biggest game of the season, and certainly the biggest game of my career so far. The expectations are huge but the aim will be to just go out there and do the same job that I’ve been doing all season,” said the State League Golden Whistle recipient of the past two seasons. “My aim has always been to officiate at a FIFA World Cup, so this will be a great stepping stone for that goal.”
FEDERAL SPORTS MINISTER VISITS MACEDONIA PARK
Federal Sports Minister Kate Lundy will visit Macedonia Park prior to Sunday’s Premier Division clash between Stirling Lions and Perth SC. Lundy will be presented a thank you plaque from the Macedonian Community of WA and the Stirling Lions club in recognition of a federal grant towards the upgrade of facilities at the ground. “This is an opportunity for us to show where the $1million Federal Grant funds were expended and how all our members chipped in to get $1.5m value out of the upgrade process,” said Stirling president Don Evans.
Evans is thrilled with the improvements which have been made to Macedonia Park, and encourages other clubs to follow Stirling’s example. “It will be a big day for football in Western Australia having Senator Lundy at our proud Macedonia Park Complex as we show her and all the VIP’s and dignitaries what sporting clubs like ours can do for the broader community with proper funding,” added Evans. “This will be a day where our football community can lobby decision makers in helping upgrade more venues in WA and show pride in our sport as we unite and celebrate this improvement to an iconic venue.”
JONES READY FOR RETURN TO BENCH
Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Jones expects to be out of the side now Pepe Reina is back in contention. Jones took the gloves for Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final win over Everton after Reina and his back-up Alexander Doni were both ruled out by suspension. But although third choice at Anfield Park, Jones says he is just happy to be part of a winning side. “That performance might be the last one I get but it’s all about the club and making sure we get another trophy,” commented Jones. “For me, I’ve come in and done a job when needed and I’m proud of that, proud to be a Liverpool player. Whatever else is a bonus.”
Reina was one of the first to celebrate with Jones at the final whistle on Saturday. “I probably can’t repeat a lot of what was said but I just said to him ‘Go out and get us a trophy’,” added Jones. “It’s obviously difficult for him and Doni to have missed the game … But the fact that we’ve got another opportunity to come back now, it’s up to the boys to get the win. We’re all good mates. I think the group of goalkeepers that we’ve got have been fantastic. Whoever goes out there has just got to do the same job and make sure that we get the trophy.”
BRISBANE ARE NOT BEATABLE: BURNS
Team captain Jacob Burns has predicted Brisbane Roar will be next to fall victim to Perth Glory's soaring self-belief in Sunday's A-League Grand Final at Suncorp Stadium. The odds may be stacked against a Glory win but Burns remains confident his team can go all the way after defeating table-toppers Central Coast Mariners on the weekend. "There's no denying Brisbane have been a solid side for the last couple of seasons. They've been the benchmark," Burns said. "But every team is beatable. I think we've got to go in there with our style and our tactics and believe we can do it - we can go all the way."
Burns put in an immense 120 minute shift against Central Coast before blasting in the deciding penalty in a 5-3 shoot-out victory. "I went straight over and said I'm taking the fifth penalty," Burns said of his immediate response to the shoot-out. "I honestly envisaged that would be the one to win the game and it worked out that way. In most scenarios I may have been a little nervous but I didn't have any nerves. All through this great run we've had and in particular the finals, I just didn't feel like we were going to lose …. I could just see us coming out of it and winning."
STATE LEAGUE CUP DRAW
The First Round of the State League Cup, which will be played on ANZAC Day Thursday 25 April, has produced some interesting match-ups. The only all Premier Division fixture has Bayswater City on home soil to Stirling Lions, while Bunbury Forum Force welcomes an in-form Wanneroo City to the south west. Mandurah City welcomes Perth SC to the Hyundai Stadium, while Swan United have been draw at home to Gosnells City in what promises to be a cracking game. Sunday League side North Perth United will fancy their chances when Armadale drops in at Woodville Reserve.
Canning City have a tough home encounter with ECU Joondalup, Cockburn City heads north to Sorrento and Balcatta takes on Fremantle Croatia at Grindleford Reserve. Inglewood United are home to Dianella White Eagles, while Division Two side Subiaco AFC come up against Western Knights. The odds will be stacked in Floreat Athena’s favour at South Perth United, Hamersley Rovers hosts Ashfield, and Shamrock Rovers faces UWA-Nedlands at Ashfield Reserve. Morley Windmills travel to Kingsley, Fremantle United to Melville City and at Warrandyte Reserve its Whitford City verses Rockingham City.
GLORY UNFAZED BY BRISBANE CHALLENGE
Coach Ian Ferguson is adamant Perth Glory will not be daunted by the prospect of taking on Brisbane Roar in their first A-League Grand Final. Just as they did in last night’s Preliminary Final win over Central Coast Mariners, the bookmakers will give Glory little chance of beating Brisbane next Sunday – and that will suit Ferguson just fine. “They are one off games and anybody can beat anybody in the finals,” Ferguson said. “We’re going to go there with the attitude and confidence that we can beat them.” Glory, who twice won the National Soccer League, qualified for the Grand Final the hard way. After beating Melbourne Heart 3-0 in a sudden death eliminator, they edged Wellington Phoenix 3-2 in extra-time before seeing off Central Coast in a penalty shoot-out.
JONES HELPS LIVERPOOL INTO CUP FINAL
Liverpool's progression to the FA Cup final is a bittersweet result for goalkeeper Brad Jones, who is unlikely to line-up in England's centrepiece event. The West Australian 'keeper made six saves during the Reds' 2-1 v=come from behind victory over Everton yesterday after being called up for duty in the absence of Pepe Reina and Alexander Doni. "I might not play in the FA Cup final ... but I'm just proud to be a part of it," Jones said shortly after the semi-final win. Jones, who lost his 5-year old son Luca to leukaemia six months ago, was emotional after Saturday's win, hugging his teammates and also embracing Everton players including countryman Tim Cahill.
GLORY THROUGH TO GRAND FINAL ON PENALTIES
Perth Glory are through to their first A-League Grand Final after a nail-biting penalty shoot-out victory over Central Coast Mariners at Bluetongue Stadium. The game was locked 1-1 after 90 minutes with Shane Smeltz’s 35th minute strike cancelling out Adam Kwasnik’s opener just two minutes earlier. It stayed level after an additional 30 minutes before Glory prevailed 5-3 in the shoot-out with captain Jacob Burns slotting in the decisive spot-kick. “It was a massive effort from the boys again tonight,” coach Ian Ferguson said. “I’m absolutely delighted with the effort and the commitment the boys have shown this year and they deserve it.”
Glory may have started the better but it was the home side that fashioned the first few chances on goal, however, neither Tomas Rogic nor Adam Kwasnik was able to capitalise. Kwasnik made amends in the 33rd minute by converting an easy chance at close-range after Oliver Bozanic’s corner squirmed through the legs of Travis Dodd. That lead was to be short-lived as soon after Josh Risdon rolled the ball through to Billy Mehmet whose square pass was finished into the net by Smeltz. Central Coast had good reason to feel aggrieved with replaying showing Mehmet had strayed into an offside position before receiving the ball from Risdon.
Fired up coach Graham Arnold's half-time sermon, Rogic stung the gloves of Danny Vukovic and Josh Rose’s follow up fizzed just wide inside a minute of the restart. Mehmet was denied a goal in the 55th minute when the assistant referee correctly flagged for offside. Patrick Zwaanswijk squandered a golden opportunity by slamming his penalty kick against the crossbar after Kwasnik had been fouled by Steve Pantelidis. Kwasnik failed to convert a string of chances over the final twenty minutes as Glory were reduced to playing on the counterattack. Smeltz almost found a late winner but his free header was too close to Matthew Ryan, who palmed it away.
Central Coast resumed control in extra-time but substitute Bernie Ibini miscued a volley from 9-metres and soon after fired wide on the run. Daniel McBreen got his header on target but Vukovic punched it clear, an Ibini shot was courageously blocked by Pantelidis and another was saved by Vukovic as an exhausted Glory hung on grimly for penalties. Smeltz, Mehmet, Liam Miller and Dean Heffernan all converted from the spot for Glory, likewise Daniel McBreen, Alex Wilkinson and goalkeeper Ryan for the Mariners. Michael McGlinchey fired the hosts fourth spot kick high, a miss Burns punished by slotting past Ryan to set up a Grand Final showdown with Brisbane Roar next weekend.
INGLEWOOD BEAT BALCATTA TO GO CLEAR (with James Mooney, Football West)
Inglewood United asserted their claim to the regular season title with this afternoon’s 2-0 defeat of Balcatta at 6PR Stadium. Team captain James Sammut and club veteran Michael Baczynski were on target to guide Inglewood to a fourth straight win which moves them three points clear at the top of the Premier Division. “We’re always happy to win games but we’re not getting carried away ... there’s a new regime at the club and there is a lot of work to do still,” said home coach Graham Normanton, who was in charge for the first time since starting his ‘A’ coaching license in Canberra.
A relatively open start to the game had the ball move swift from one end of the park to the other as the two combatants sought an early lead. Sammut’s fierce volley was blocked by goalkeeper Lewis Italiano and Brendan Craig could only direct the loose ball wide. Minutes later it was Balcatta that went agonisingly close as Jason Barrera slammed into the upright with the ricochet going straight into the arms of home custodian Devon Spence. The battle for midfield supremacy dominated the remainder of the half with the skills of Sammut and David Perich matched in almost every aspect by Barrera and John Mills.
The second half had just commenced when the referee signalled for an Inglewood penalty after a handball by Julian Madaschi, up stepped Sammut to blast into the top corner for a one-nil lead. Balcatta responded by increasing the tempo with John Migas and Daniel Micevski presenting a clear and present danger down the left while on the opposite flank it was Moe Atak that kept the home defence on high alert. Captain Steve Burton had their best chance to equalise but Devon Spence pulled off a fantastic reflex save to turn his angled strike from 12-metres around the post.
Inglewood put the result beyond doubt in the 62nd minute with a quick break in which Dannie Richman went one-on-one with Italiano but instead of take the shot himself the midfielder unselfishly squared for Baczynski to slot in the teams’ second goal. Balcatta refused to concede defeat but when Spence smartly came off his line to thwart Thornley after he’d broke free it was clear this wasn’t to be their day. The visitors final chance for a consolation came via a late corner which Julian Madaschi nodded goalward only to have Jason Colli clear from on the line.
SORRENTO TAKE POINTS AS WELL AS BRAGGING RIGHTS FROM DERBY (with Tommy Doleman, Football West)
Second half goals from Jason Mirco and Steve McDonald earned Sorrento a 2-0 win over northern suburbs rivals ECU Joondalup at the Edith Cowan University campus. Mirco’s fifth goal of the season broke the deadlock soon after the interval with McDonald opportunistically sealing victory in the closing minutes. “We made the most of our chances in a scrappy game and came away with the pooints,” commented Mirco. “We knew it was going to be a hard game, Joondalup had a new coach on board and were flying high after beating Bayswater City whereas we were coming off a big loss to Perth SC.”
The game started at a good tempo and with plenty of tough but fair challenges. Mike Aspin, whose runs down the right were a constant feature for the visiting team, forced the first real save from Andy Banks after he broke inside the 18-yard box. Both sides had opportunities with dead ball but neither Dale McCulloch nor Brodie Martin were able to get free headers on target. Scott Bushby fired high before Aspin curled over Banks’ crossbar as the teams traded attacks. The best chance of the period fell to McDonald but he volleyed high at close-range after meeting a cross by Mirco.
The stalemate was finally broken ten minutes into the second period when Mirco fired under Banks from the penalty spot after Ryan Pearson had been felled. With this Joondalup sprang into action but despite their desire for goals the closest they would come was long-range attempts by Rob Draper and Bushby which a well-positioned Curtis Aspden saved. Sorrento, however, were not yet done and McDonald headed onto the roof of the net before James Morgan was denied by Banks. The visitors conjure the second goal they craved into the 90th minute with McDonald ghosting in to convert Pearson’s cross.
FLOREAT CRUISE TO VICTORY AT ARMADALE
A stylish first half display laid the foundations for Floreat Athena to claim their third straight victory, this one 4-1 against Armadale at Alfred Skeet Oval. Bobby Wilson got Floreat’s show on the road before Jake Geddes, Jarrad Smith and Liam Boland blew the margin out to four goals by the end of 45 minutes. “This was an important win for us, we’ve got a couple of big games coming up and we’ve got some good momentum going,” said Floreat custodian Brad Eiffe, who was beaten only by Darren Francis’ second half header. “Bobby was immense at the back for us, and he scored with an absolute bullet.”
Floreat looked to exploit their hosts’ frailties in the opening minutes but Spencer Harris’ goalbound header was somehow kept out of the net by a defender. The game remained even only until the 15th minute when Cyril Sharrock was beaten by Wilson’s blistering left-foot strike. That lead was doubled on the half hour by an unmarked Geddes who tapped in at the far post after great work by David Heagney. Armadale had no answers as Floreat struck goal number three soon after, Smith taking advantage of some more woeful defending by lashing past Sharrock on the turn from 7-metres. Boland added his name to the scoresheet on 37 minutes after Heagney and Mark Pritchard once again sliced open the defence.
Fired up by the words of coach Lee Bamber, Armadale gave a much better account of themselves after the turnaround. Darren Francis reduced the deficit nine minutes in by leaping highest to meet a searching cross Sean Nicholls which he headed strongly into the far corner. At this point it appeared Armadale might have found the spark to ignite their season, however, their best attacking moves to constantly extinguished by a well-organised defence. The same applied at the opposite end of the park where the only real threat came when Boland was played through on goal but the striker lost his composure at the crucial moment and scuffed his shot at Sharrock.
RAMPANT BAYSWATER CRUSH THE KNIGHTS (with Ilija Mihalj, Football West)
Bayswater City showed no mercy as they demolished Western Knights 8-1 in a lop-sided encounter at Frank Drago Reserve. Gustavo Giron-Marulanda and Gustavo Catarcione helped themselves to a brace each with Andy Reale, David Sesay, Larry Miller and Joe Yoffe also finding the back of the net for the home side. Sesay, who only came into the eleven after Cesar Gonzalez went down to injury in the pre-game warm-up, played the starring role by being involved in the majority of Bayswater’s six first half goals.
The home teams needed just 15 minutes to break through with Reale firing in from the edge of the 18-yard box after the Knights failed to sufficiently deal with a corner. Five minutes later Miller linked up Giron-Marulanda who beat custodian Kevin Miller with ease. In the 22nd minute Sesay waltzed past a trio of defenders to slot past an exposed goalkeeper. The travelling team were stunned once again just three minutes later when Giron-Marulanda doubled his tally by also making his way through the defence and netting.
Johny Mirco came closest to pulling a goal back for the Knights but his shot was deflected over the crossbar. Play was immediately spirited to the other end of the park where Miller exposed another gaping hole in the visitors backline to calmly send the fifth goal into the net after 43 minutes. If the Knights thought things couldn’t get worse before the break they were wrong as Catarcione advanced on goal to sensationally curl into Miller’s net from the edge of the area deep into stoppage time.
Catarcione added a seventh Bayswater goal in the 61st minute after a fortunate deflection helped play him onside. At this point it seemed the home side would reach double figures, but their quest for further goals was stifled by a Knights backline which had finally woken up. Ivan Zuvela’s glancing header from a David Araya corner gave the Knights an 89th minute consolation. There was still enough time for substitute Joe Yoffe to add further gloss to Bayswater’s performance by putting away their eighth goal of a memorable afternoon.
FARMER FORCES THE POINT
Defender Michael Farmer scored in stoppage time to steal Bunbury Forum Force a 1-1 draw from a lacklustre meeting with Perth SC at Dorrien Gardens. James Isaia’s headed Perth into the lead early in the second half and it seemed it would stay that way when Farmer nodded in to steal Bunbury a share of the points. “For me that’s two goals from two home games, but I would much rather a team victory than have a goal to my name,” said Isaia. “We had the better chances but couldn’t finish. And credit to Bunbury, they fought to the death and deserved the draw.”
Missed opportunities littered a dull first half in which neither team showed any sense of urgency. Antonio Naglieri lifted high from 15-metres before Danny Kane shot straight at Alex Dunn on the turn. David Onoforo rolled the ball across the face of goal after stealing possession from Steve Howson deep inside the 18-yard box. Dunn was off his line quickly to thwart Aiden Savroy after he broke free, and on the half hour Onoforo wasted perhaps the best chance but scooping high Antonio Naglieri’s through ball. Andreas Oliveira’s low beat Ryan Montgomery but Howson was placed to concede a corner before Jamie Tandy drove wide the final play of the period.
Perth clearly wanted a goal after the break but Montgomery brilliantly paddled over a fine curling shot by Naglieri. The deadlock was finally broken from the resulting corner which Greg Sharland whipped to the far post and Isaia headed powerfully into the roof of the net with 51 minutes played. With Naglieri and Dom De Felice having a greater say in proceedings it looked as though Perth were finally hitting their straps, however, poor finishing meant the door was left open for Bunbury to come back in. The game had just ticked over into stoppage time when substitute Bright Ababio returned the ball into the area for Farmer to head the equaliser across Dunn and inside the far post.
STIRLING LEAVE IT LATE BEFORE SEEING OFF NTC
Stirling Lions struck twice in the final fifteen minutes to steal a 3-2 win from the National Training Centre at Macedonia Park. Matt Barlow struck the deciding goal to compliment earlier finishes by Adam Luca and Andy Brown, and cancel out goals from Slobodan Vulin and Moses Kalau. “I’m happy with the three points, the NTC play a good brand of football and gave us a good shake today,” said Stirling coach Doug Hesketh. “I’m very proud of (the team’s) character to go out and win the game. At the end of the day we have some terrific players, and that shows.”
The NTC made a positive start with Sebit Oyet threatening to score after only a few minutes. However, it would be the home side that found the net after 6 minutes courtesy of Brown, whose header from a Jon Stripe corner was too good for young goalkeeper Luke Radonich. The NTC hit back eleven minutes later when Vulin found space 25-metres from goal to unleash a superb shot which came to rest in the back of Cory Hugo’s net. This served only to spur on the teenager squad whose fluid movement of the ball would cause more than a few problems for the home defence across the afternoon.
The NTC’s focus on attack paid further dividends in the second half, Kalau slipping the ball past Hugo on the counterattack for a two-nil lead after 65 minutes. Stirling picked up the pace and on 78 minutes were back on level terms through Luca, who played a neat one-two with Phil O’Callaghan before finishing into the bottom corner. Sensing the game was theirs for the taking, Stirling built again with Jamie De Abreu, O’Callaghan and Luca involved before Craig Robson’s clever back heel sent clear Barlow, who tucked the deciding goal.
ASHFIELD SNEAK PAST DIANELLA
Ryan Frisina’s fourth goal of the season was enough to give Ashfield a 1-0 win at Dianella White Eagles. It took only a few minutes for Brian Maybin to assert control over the middle of the park as Daryl Warren and Karl O’Reilly asked questions of the home defence. Mladen Kovacevic had two chances to capitalise on Ashfield’s dominance but hit the upright with his first shot and later in the half watched as goalkeeper Matt Battigelli tipped his fierce drive over the crossbar. Sandwiched between these Frisina did find the back of the net but his effort was ruled out by an offside flag.
Possession remained the domain of Ashfield after the turnaround and on 54 minutes the deadlock was finally broken by Frisina’s well-placed shot from 7-metres through a crowded goalmouth. The visitors could have added a few more goals to their tally but a combination of wayward finishing and strong defensive work limited the damage. It was only entering the final twenty minutes that Dianella sparked into life. Andrew Kiir struck the base of the upright before Blaz Radinovic’s low strike forced goalkeeper John Perkins into saving low to ensure Ashfield collected the points.
MANDURAH MAKE IT THREE IN A ROW
Mandurah City maintained their place amongst the Division One leaders by edging out Gosnells City 1-0 in a game of few opportunities at Walter Padbury Reserve. The games solitary goal arrived midway through the first half via Ryan Townsend. “This was a really good test for us against a well-organized Gosnells side,” commented Mike Brazil, coach of Mandurah. “They had us on the back foot for the first twenty minutes, then we slowly took control. We needed this type of game to see how the boys would react to being put under pressure, and to their credit they ground out the result.”
Gosnells fashioned several chances to take the lead but were held at bay by a solid visiting backline. The game was decided on the half hour when Chris Wylie’s shot struck the arm of a defender and from the penalty spot Townsend blasted into the top corner. Michael Grigo could have doubled Mandurah’s lead soon after but his explosive drive was pushed onto the crossbar by goalkeeper Alan Creer. Scrappy play dominated the second half with both teams struggling to get within sight of goal. Gosnells went close to grabbing a late equaliser when Jack Clare’s cross was met by Alan Carroll, who was unable to keep his header down.
BOOYSEN GIVES WANNEROO THE HOP ON SWAN
An injury-time strike from Josh Booysen stole Wanneroo City a 2-1 victory over Swan United in a thrilling encounter at Swan Italian Club. The black and whites started strongly but failed to capitalise on their chances as the two sides entered the break at nil-all. Wanneroo found their feet in the second half and it wasn’t long before they took the lead through Brad McDonald’s thunderbolt from 16-metres that flashed into Kenny Ftynogiannis’ net. Swan returned fire soon after with a striker benefitting from a defensive mix-up. After several near-misses, Wanneroo found a last gasp winner when Booysen’s shot crashed down off the crossbar and struck Ftynogiannis in the back before ricocheting over the line.
ROCKINGHAM RUN ALL OVER CANNING (courtesy Rockingham City)
Two goals by each Roy Hissey and Trevor Laure paved the way for Rockingham City to triumph 5-2 over Canning City at Lark Hill Sportsplex. “I was really pleased with our attacking play today,” said Steve Robinson, coach of Rockingham. “We’ve defended well in every game so far and had good possession but haven’t scored enough goals. That is something we’ve been working on so I’m delighted to score five against an experienced Canning side.” Rockingham’s second win pushes them up into sixth position whereas Canning slides down to ninth.
Rockingham enjoyed the bulk of early possession but went a goal down on 13 minutes to Emlyn Whetnall’s strong header from a Michael Lawson corner. Eleven minutes later the home side hit back with Oscar Thompson playing the ball in behind the defence for Laure, who beat his man before powering past the goalkeeper. Rockingham hit the front soon after with a terrific move that had the ball channelled through Gershom Rowland, Lance Louvie, David Clark and new signing Papa Kpatar, whose pull back was lashed in by Hissey. Goalkeepers Bradley Cruickshanks and Jakub Chudy ensured they would be no additional to the scoreline before the break.
Canning started the second half well, pushing their hosts onto the back foot before Richard Burton equalised in a goalmouth scramble after Campbell flicked on Lawson’s throw. With this Rockingham jumped back into life and after a period of sustained pressure Laure slotted into the bottom corner after latching onto a Louvie pass out of midfield. By this stage Rockingham were well in control so it was no surprise when Hissey lifted Darren Lawlor’s cutback over the ‘keeper number goal number four. A collision between the Canning goalkeeper and one of his defenders presented Louvie with a simple tap-in from Thompson’s cross.
LATE GOALS GET COCKBURN HOME
Cockburn City were pushed all the way by a spirited Forrestfield United outfit before claiming a controversial 2-0 win at Dalmatinac Park. There would have been a few more goals in the game had it not been for a superb display of goalkeeping from Dejan Aleksic and Luke Woodfin. Cockburn newcomer Paul Lloyd combined to terrific effect in midfield with Ross Diamond to lead the home team forward where Woodfin time and time again negated the threat of John Hunter and Ian McMurray. At the other end it was Aleksic who came up trumps in turning away efforts by Shannon Benniston, James Monks and Andy Griffiths.
The second half continued in much the same fashion, Aleksic saving from Griffiths and Wade Farmer while Hunter and Diamond were thwarted by Woodfin. The turning point came in the 76th minute when the referee failed to acknowledge a foul throw – even though it was signalled by his assistant on the line – by Paul Natale to Anthony Pereira, who played into the path of substitute Terrance Connor to run through and fire into the net. The points were made safe nine minutes later, a series of passes between Lloyd, Matt Salmon and Diamond releasing the latter whose drive from the top of the 18-yard box was beyond Woodfin’s reach.
FIRST HALF BLITZ SENDS UWA TO THE TOP
UWA-Nedlands extended their winning start to Division Two to three games with a 4-1 defeat of Fremantle United at Hilton Reserve. After a nervy start by both teams it was Fremantle that edged in front on the quarter hour when Paul Neff stole possession and made his way past a trio of opponents to put the ball past goalkeeper Danny Roberts. UWA answered that with three rapid fire goals, the first of which Rory Feely put away from a James Plowman cross in the 30th minute. Plowman then netted a close range-range following a Jake Mann cross, and with 35 minutes gone captain Steve Purton volleyed into the top corner for a three-one lead.
With the words of coach Jason Smith ringing in their ears, Fremantle came out for the second half determined on getting back in the game. Through the hard work of Willy Pender and Darren Monaghan the home team were able to wrestle control of the game but Neff and Andrew Morrow were unable to convert when chances presented. UWA were also guilty of missed opportunities but with five minutes to go these were forgotten as Guy Clark linked with Plowman for the latter to net his seventh goal in just three games. The result moves UWA level on points with Fremantle at the top of the table, although the university side have played one less game than their rivals.
ROLLS ROYCE PERFORMANCE BY KINGSWAY
Josh Rolls hit the back of the net four times to steer Kingsway Olympic to a 4-2 win over Melville City at Kingsway Reserve. It took the home team just 8 minutes to get on the scoreboard with Rolls slotting past goalkeeper Stuart Delgarno after racing onto Elliott Rose’s clever flick. That lead was short-lived, however, with Lee MacKay bundling the ball into the net after ‘keeper Ben Towers failed to hold onto a corner by Sasa Slavujevic. Kingsway should have reclaimed the advantage but free headers to David Ashwork and Aaron Lickiss went unconverted. Those failures were punished by Paul Sanchez, who headed in at the back post from another corner to send Melville into the break two-one up.
Melville controlled the early part of the second half but their hard work was undone by a poor back pass which Rose claim and played across for Rolls to tap in the equaliser. It was only after Joe Woodin came off the bench that Kingsway really kicked back into life, Rolls reacting quickly inside the 18-yard box to send his third goal into the net on 70 minutes. Rolls was clearly enjoying himself and six minutes later the striker made the game safe with a lobbed half-volley over Delgarno. Melville’s woes continued with the dismissal of Sanchez for a second yellow card offence. Delgarno denied Rolls a fifth goal close to the end by saving his penalty kick awarded for a foul on Forster.
THRILLING DERBY IN THE FAR NORTH (courtesy Quinns)
Northern neighbours Quinns and Joondalup City collected their first points in Division Two with a thrilling 3-3 draw at Gumblossom Park. Quinns applied the early pressure to deservedly go in front after a few minutes via George Mills, who got his angles right to head in a Billy Hughes cross. The lead was added to on the quarter hour when Adam Buckley drove into the roof of the net from inside the 18-yard box. Joondalup now kicked into action and, after having a goal denied for offside, Lucais King brought the difference back to a single strike before the break.
Joondalup emerged for the second period focused on the task at hand and by midway through the half were in the ascendency. King brought the teams level before completing his hat-trick from the penalty spot with just nine minutes to go. The introduction of fresh legs off the bench breathed new life into Quinns, who pushed the visitors onto the defence with a series of attacking raids. The reward for their hard graft came close to the final whistle when Rudi Coetzer slipped the ball past the ‘keeper and into the bottom corner of his net.
THE SEASON LOOKS TO BE OVER FOR WILLIAMS
Rhys Williams looks to have lost his battle with injury with Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray conceding the Socceroo won’t be back in action before the end of the Championship campaign. 23-year old Williams badly damaged ankle ligaments last month against Leeds United but had hoped to feature in the final rounds of the home and away series, however, any such comeback has now been ruled out. “Rhys won’t play this season unless the season is extended,” Mowbray told gazettelive.co.uk. “Playing in the play-offs is probably in his mind at the moment but we would only assess that if and when we have to make that decision. It would be great to have that decision to make.”
Williams’ chances of returning in time for next month’s play-offs depend on Middlesbrough climbing back into the play-off places. Successive defeats over Easter left the club two places and two points behind sixth-placed Cardiff City with four matches remaining. “Pressure is managing expectations and the team created the expectation that we were having a great season,” said Mowbray, who he’s just as frustrated as the fans about the team’s slide out of the top six. “I think the fans are like the players, an expectation was created and they are thinking of the Premier League and thinking of promotion and they see the team, probably since the New Year, not accumulate enough points to cement that.”
PREMIER DIVISION PREVIEW
The footballwa.net match of the week is the top of the table showdown between Inglewood United and Balcatta at 6PR Stadium. Inglewood are the Premier Division’s only side with an unblemished win record, something defender Jack Clisby does not intend to change. “It’s been a very good start to the season for us, and the team collectively have been excellent,” he said. “Saturday is going to be our biggest test yet. Balcatta they have dangerous players that can make things happen, but if we play the way we have been and turn up on the day I think we can grab a result.”
Balcatta coach Michael Roki wants to see a much improved performance from his players, who were held to a draw last time out at Stirling. “Some important notes were taken from our encounter with Stirling, where we surrendered the lead three times,” said Roki. “We face a pacey, skilful Inglewood side which has been rebuilt by two of the most renowned figures (Graham Normanton and Bobby Despotovski) in WA soccer over the last decade. Some of the States’ best young talent now resides at Inglewood and we need to raise our standard if we are serious about taking maximum points.”
Salv Todaro will take charge of ECU Joondalup for the first time when they meet Sorrento at the Edith Cowan University campus. Bayswater City and Western Knights are both coming off losses and need to take maximum points from the game at Frank Drago Reserve to stay in touch with the top five. Perth SC are tipped to get the better of Bunbury Forum Force when they drop in at Dorrien Gardens. Stirling Lions will be looking to continue their good recent run when they host the Football West National Training Centre at Macedonia Park.
Armadale are rooted to the foot of the table and their task doesn’t get any easier with an in-form Floreat Athena visiting Alfred Skeet Oval. “We have to be switched on at Armadale, who haven’t won to date. If we think we can just turn up and get the three points then we will be in for rude awakening,” said Floreat striker Liam Boland, who is developing a good understanding with new import David Heagney. “We seemed to click straight away on the park. I think we can be a real handful for teams once we play a few more games together.” All games kick-off at 3.00pm on Saturday.
DIVISION ONE PREVIEW
Swan United captain Rob Monterosso has been pleased with the recent progress his team, who this weekend hosts fourth-from-top Wanneroo City. “In the last two weeks we have had a chance to settle and built some winning momentum, which we’ll be looking to continue on Saturday,” commented Monterosso. “Wanneroo are going to be one of the harder teams to beat, they were difficult to play against last year and with the players they have added they are going to cause a lot of team’s problems.”
Ashfield coach Matt Carruthers knows his team will need to be in peak form to get the better of home side Dianella White Eagles. “It’s always a hard fixture at Dianella and we certainly won’t be underestimating them,” said Carruthers. “Jamie Goodman has assembled a good side and they are coming off a couple of solid results.” Injury prevents Ian Griffiths and Karl Tate from taking to the field but their absence could open the door for new imports Nathan Tossum and Karl Darcy to don Ashfield colours for the first time.
It’s one verses three at Walter Padbury Reserve where Gosnells City and Mandurah City lock horns. Steve Robinson is likely to be without Marco Dos Santos (calf) and captain Lance Louvie (groin) along with Stevan Sibinic (knee) for Rockingham City’s home clash with Canning City. Cockburn City are confident of building on last week’s success when bottom of the table Forrestfield United visits Dalmatinac Park. Shamrock Rovers should have little difficulty accounting for Fremantle Spirit at Ashfield Reserve. All six Division One games kick-off at 3.00pm on Saturday.
DIVISION TWO PREVIEW
Fremantle United and UWA-Nedlands, Division Two’s only unbeaten teams, go head-to-head in a blockbuster top of the table encounter at Hilton Reserve. “There has been a real buzz around training leading up to this game and as we have been billed as the favourites for the league we know teams will want to beat us,” said UWA’s Steve Purton. “It’s still the very early stages of the season but we want to stamp our authority on the league, we have to concentrate on our game and our strengths and take each week as it comes.”
Quinns and Joondalup City continue the search for their first ever State League points when the northern rivals meet at Gumblossom Park. New signing Shane McEntaggart is expected to come straight into the Quinns eleven but not all the news is good for the hosts with John Elliot (blisters) and Damian McGurk (thigh) in doubt. Melville City are likely to be without John Brennan (groin), Will Kinsey (back) and Kudzi Chingawanda (suspended) when they travel to Kingsway Olympic. All three Division Two games commence at 3.00pm on Saturday.
LIVERPOOLS’ JONES STEPS INTO THE SPOTLIGHT
Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Jones hopes to put a difficult time behind him after fortune thrust him into Kenny Dalglish's plans following 16 months in the wilderness. 30-year old Jones made his long-awaited Premier League debut for the Reds in their mid-week 3-2 win at Blackburn Rovers, in which he saved a penalty, and this weekend will take the gloves again in an FA Cup semi-final. All this would have been the last thing on the mind of Jones over the last few days, especially as only a month ago was he Liverpool’s third-choice ‘keeper and playing in the reserves.
Prior to Tuesday’s game Jones had made just two appearances for Liverpool, the last of which was in December 2010. The appointment of Dalglish the following month saw the former Bayswater City player slide down the pecking order behind Spanish international Jose Reina and Brazilian stopper Alexander Doni. With Reina suspended, he came onto the bench for Saturday’s draw with Aston Villa and retain that spot for the fixture at Blackburn. Doni was sent off midway through the first half at Ewood Park and Jones’ first touch for Liverpool in the league was to save Ayegbeni Yakubu’s penalty.
Jones dedicated his penalty save against Blackburn to his late 5-year old son Luca, who died in November from leukaemia. “It’s been a difficult 18 months for me with losing my son,” said Jones. “It’s been hard but maybe yesterday he gave me that (the penalty save). Luca is with me every day. I carry him everywhere. His face is on my wash bag and his toys are in my travel bag – I take him everywhere. In that sense I’ve definitely got someone looking over me.”
It has been a hectic and emotion few days in the household with Jones’ girlfriend, Dani Lawrence, giving birth to another boy, Nico Luca, a week ago. “The last few days have been hectic after my girlfriend gave birth to Nico. I’ve been getting into the routine of having a baby in the house – it’s been a good week for me,” said Jones, who will juggle home duties with preparing for an FA Cup semi-final appearance. “Obviously now I’ll be preparing for a big game on Saturday so she might have a bit more work on her hands.”
Jones is now readying himself for one of the biggest games of his career, Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final showdown with Everton at Wembley Stadium. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet. It is not something I’ve been thinking about to be honest but it is a big game and now it is about preparing for that and making sure I am focused and ready,” he added. “It’s going to be a big occasion against Everton … It’s massive just to be a Liverpool player. I’m as proud as anyone to do that and be part of this club.”
COCKBURN CAN WIN THE LEAGUE: GODFREY
Defender Jason Godfrey is confident Cockburn City have turned the corner and can start moving towards the summit of Division One. The Cockerels, who are back in the second tier for the first time since 1974, collected their first win of the campaign last weekend by seeing off Caning City 2-0, a result which shows they are back on course. “The win against Canning was everything to us,” commented Godfrey, one of his clubs’ longest serving players. “We knew losing was not an option, we had to get that first win under our belt so we could forget about the two previous games and move on.”
Ian McMurray struck late in the first half at Canning before John Hunter sealed Cockburn’s first win of the season soon after the re-start. “Even when things were not going our way, we didn’t lose focus and give up, we seemed to work harder which is a great sign,” commented Godfrey of the weekend performance. “We played some good football in the first two games (against Rockingham City and Wanneroo City) but things didn’t go our way – on Saturday everyone knew how important this game was and everyone gave everything they had.”
Godfrey, 29, says his club have no intention of sticking around in the second tier with their only aim being to re-claim a spot in the top flight. “There is only one goal this year and that is to win the Division One and get promoted back up,” stated the defender. “The squad we have is strong with some great players and we believe we can do it. All the players know what we need to do and we’re working hard in training and games to get back into the Premier Division.”
A tight-knit player group will go a long way towards Cockburn achieving their goal. “There is a great friendship within the team and club, no one wants to let their mates down so you give everything you have, be it in training or on match day,” Godfrey commented. “We’ve got a good balance between the older guys and some young ones coming through, Cockburn have some talented young players that will do really well when we’re back in the Premier League.”
Cockburn are back on home turf this weekend against a Forrestfield United side which has nothing to show for their first three league outings. “You can never underestimate any opponent, and if you do you’re going to get beaten,” said Godfrey, who has his sights set on another three points. “Cockburn approaches every game like it’s a Cup Final, there are no second chances as we can’t afford to lose any more games. We’ll be focused on what needs to be done and with the players we have we can beat anyone.”
MADASCHI SIGNALS A-LEAGUE RETURN
Socceroos defender Adrian Madaschi plans on getting in another A-League stint before his playing days are over. Madaschi, 29, played a starring role for Melbourne Heart during a ten-week spell in which his organisation and composure at the back were vital in the club winning seven of the nine games he played. His departure in January for South Korean outfit Jeju United left a big hole in the Melbourne defence and Madaschi says he’d like another taste of the A-League. “There is quality in the league and it is getting better,” said Madaschi. “When I do head back to Australia, I want to be able to contribute again and get back in and around the A-League.”
Madaschi, who played five seasons at Italian club Portogruaro before joining Melbourne, and had only praise to offer the Victorian club. “It was fantastic at the Heart. The club is a great example of how a well-run club can achieve really important things in a short space of time. The club ticks over on a daily basis in a real flowing fashion,” he said. “Obviously with football, results count. Fortunately for the team, it was a great run and it put them in good shape to get into the finals. They are one of the clubs in the A-League that is looking only forward and they are in great shape.”
Playing for Melbourne reunited Madaschi with fellow former Perth SC junior Eli Babalj. “I have known Eli since he was 11 or 12 as I used to coach him when I headed back to the Perth SC when I was younger,” said Madaschi. “I speak to him on a regular basis and the only thing I tell him is to keep focused and keep banging in the goals. He is a hard worker and he listens to what people have got to offer but he doesn’t get caught up in things behind the scenes. He has got a good head on his shoulders and understands where he can go.”
TODARO SIGNS ON WITH JOONDALUP
ECU Joondalup have made their third coaching change in six months with the appointment of Salv Todaro for the remainder of season 2012. Todaro accepted the job at Joondalup last week and on Saturday will lead the side for the first time against northern suburbs foes Sorrento. “I’m really excited at the opportunity that the committee at ECU Joondalup have given me,” commented Todaro, who takes over from caretaker coach Steve Amphlett, who stepped in following last months’ sacking of Paul Simmons. “All the players and staff will be working our socks off to ensure that we achieve the goals that we have set ourselves for this year.”
The offer to join Joondalup came only days after Todaro had guided Morley Windmills to their first win of the Division One season. “It was a really difficult decision to leave Morley, the club has made big strides over the last 18 months and we had competitive teams in all three senior grades,” explained Todaro. “However the opportunity to coach in the Premier Division doesn’t come around every day of the week. It will be a big challenge as the season is already a month old and all the other sides have had the opportunity of working together during the pre-season, but nevertheless it will be an exciting challenge.”
Steve Wheatley is delighted Todaro, who steered Bayswater City and Balcatta to the top of the Division One table, has agreed to shift north. “The board are pleased to announce the appointment of Salv Todaro as first team coach,” the Joondalup president commented. “He brings with him a wealth of experience and success as a coach, and after talking with him I am sure he is the man to bring success back to ECU Joondalup.” In his playing days Todaro turned out for Perth Azzurri and Floreat Athena amongst others, while his coaching career has included spells in charge of Ashfield along with Bayswater, Balcatta and Morley.
Joondalup collected their first points of the season on Saturday by grinding out a 3-2 win at Bayswater. “It was a great win for the football club - I was told the team performed extremely well and all the hard work they have been putting paid off,” said Todaro, who missed the game due to commitments with Morley. “We have spoken about this being the platform to build and launch our season from. Bayswater are a very good side and to go on their home ground and take three points was an excellent effort, not many teams will take points away from Frank Drago Reserve this year.”
Todaro commence his Joondalup career with a baptism of fire against a Sorrento side smarting from a four-goal hiding handed out by Perth SC. “We all know that with a local derby you can throw the form book away – it’s the team that wants it the most on the day that will triumph,” said Todaro. “Sorrento will want to bounce back from last week’s result and we will want to continue the form that we showed last week … it should be an exciting game.” The northern suburbs derby between the Joondalup and Sorrento takes place at the Edith Cowan University ground on Saturday, kick-off 3.00pm.
GARCIA IS EXAMPLE TO PLAYERS, SAYS BARMBY
Richard Garcia typifies the level of professionalism required from all of Hull City's aspiring young stars according to manager Nicky Barmby. Garcia has been a peripheral figure for the Tigers this season but ended an 11-month wait for a league start with 90 minutes performances against Millwall and Middlesbrough in recent days. It was a triumph for Garcia's patience and also for his versatility as he deputised for Liam Rosenior at right-back to help Hull end a six-game winless run with a 2-1 victory over Middlesbrough on Monday.
Although Garcia may be back on the bench for Saturday's trip to Watford – Rosenior's is expected to return from injury – Barmby remains full of admiration for the Australian international's attitude. "Garc deserves a lot of credit," said Barmby. "I've talked about him in front of the players. I don't want anyone moaning or sulking if they're not in the team. It's up to them to be in the best condition they can for when their chance comes. Garc has done that day in and day out in difficult circumstances. To play the full game at right-back against a team like Middlesbrough, I thought he was outstanding."
Barmby's praise may also bode well for Garcia's long-term future at the Tigers. He signed a short-term deal until the end of the season in January after proving his fitness following a cruciate ligament injury but with only four starts to his name there are questions as to whether he'll remain with the club. Barmby wants Garcia to stay, but the attacker has signalled returning to Australia is one option under consideration. Garcia will hope to stake his claim in the last four games of the season with the final day fixture against his former club West Ham United a potential farewell.
TRIO FACES NERVOUS WAIT OVER NEWCASTLE FATE (by Jonathon Cook, the ‘West Australian’)
Three of West Australia's best young players face a nervous wait to learn the fate of Newcastle Jets after being caught up in the latest A-League fiasco. Striker Adam Taggart, goalkeeper Mark Birighitti and defender Mitch Oxborrow had all signed for the Jets before owner Nathan Tinkler decided to return his A-League licence to Football Federation Australia this week. FFA has flagged the prospect of legal action to force Tinkler to fulfil his obligations but the uncertainty has caused concern across the country.
Perth Glory striker Taggart, who was looking to make a fresh start in Newcastle after two seasons with Glory, was shocked to learn of the Jets situation, which comes just days after FFA closed the doors on Gold Coast United and the demise of North Queensland Fury at the end of last season. "Everyone is starting to get worried after Gold Coast and North Queensland and now Newcastle," Taggart said. "It's a big club with a big fan base and if it can happen to Newcastle it can happen to anyone."
Birighitti joined Newcastle after four years at Adelaide United and Oxborrow, an Australia youth international had signed his first professional contract. The West Australian trio were looking forward to playing under coach Gary Van Egmond but even if the club survives long-term Taggart is concerned there will be casualties along the way. "What if Gary leaves?" Taggart said. "The reason I was going to Newcastle is I was under the impression I was going to play (regular) games. It's so hard to know what to do. People are starting to panic and thinking I'd better sign for someone."
GLORY FEELING NO PRESSURE: VUKOVIC
Goalkeeper Danny Vukovic says Perth Glory have nothing to lose as they prepare to take on Central Coast Mariners in Saturday's A-League Preliminary Final. Central Coast finished top of the regular season table but a Major Semi-Final loss to Brisbane Roar has put the pressure on the premiers. "They finished first after the regular season, they're expected to be in the Grand Final … to finish first and still not be in the Grand Final I think would hurt them a lot," said Vukovic. "The pressure really isn't on us this week."
After beating Melbourne Heart and Wellington Phoenix in the first two rounds of the finals series, Glory are just one win away from their first Grand Final appearance since the 2003/04 National Soccer League decider. Vukovic said they go into the biggest match in the club's A-League history high on confidence and happy to accept the underdog tag. "In the last two games we played, we were expected to win but in this one the Mariners are expected to win so we can go over there with no pressure on our shoulders and without anything to lose," he commented.
KNIGHTS NO CLOSER TO HOME
Western Knights home ground woes continue with the Premier Division giants denied access to Wauhop Park until the middle of next month at the earliest. The Knights had come to an agreement with the Town of East Fremantle to play out of a redeveloped Wauhop Park this year after their home ground at Nash Field was deemed not suitable to host Premier Division games by Football West. However, those plans were thrown into disarray on the eve of the league season with the Wauhop Park surface rated unplayable.
Knights secretary Alan Pecotic confirmed the events of the past month but stopped short of blaming the Town of East Fremantle. “There was no work done on the pitch, and in reality work should have started before Christmas. But I don’t think there was anything spiteful from the East Fremantle council, they didn’t go back on anything,” Pecotic commented. “The plan was to join our senior team with one of the best junior set-ups in the state (East Fremantle Tricolore), because they don't have a team in the Premier Division, but if we were to move there (Wauhop Park) we would have to wait until late May.”
In the meantime the Knights will reply on the compassion of rival clubs to not only remain in the Premier Division but to also stay financially secure. Their scheduled opening round home game with Armadale was moved to Alfred Skeet Oval, while the following week’s match with Inglewood United was switched to 6PR Stadium. Saturday’s meeting against Bayswater City has also been moved to their opponents turf, however, it is clear this situation will in time become untenable from both a playing and financial standpoint.
As a last resort the Knights even floated the idea of returning to Nash Field, but that was quickly given the thumbs down. “We asked Football West if we could move back to Nash Field just for this season, but they’re sticking to their guns. They are understanding of our current situation though, and are giving us some time to get everything sorted,” said Pecotic. “At the moment we’re looking at a ground share and even changing all our fixtures to away matches until we can sort something out, but to be honest, everything is still up in the air.”
BROICH VOTED A-LEAGUE'S BEST
Brisbane Roar's German has sensation Thomas Broich claimed the A-League's top individual prize, the Johnny Warren Medal, at a gala ceremony in Sydney. Broich became the third straight import to claim the league's player of the year award, following Costa Rican Carlos Hernandez (2009/10) and Argentine Marcos Flores (2010/11). Broich, 31, capped a stellar season for Brisbane, receiving 390 votes from his playing peers to top the voting ahead of teammate Besart Berisha (252 votes) and Melbourne Victory's Archie Thompson (243 votes).
Central Coast Mariners were well represented with Graham Arnold named A-League Coach of the Year and teenager Mat Ryan Young Footballer of the Year and Goalkeeper of the Year. Berisha collected the Golden Boot for an impressive 19-goal haul for Brisbane. Canberra United dominated the W-League awards with Sally Shipard winning the top prize, the Julie Dolan Medal, Lydia Williams collected the Goalkeeper of the Year, Michelle Heyman the Golden Boot and Jitka Klimkova the Coach of the Year. Melbourne Victory youngster Ashley Brown was named Young Player of the Year.
HERO HOWARTH HAILS GREATEST MOMENT (by Jonathon Cook, the ‘West Australian’)
A great moment for Perth Glory was the greatest in the career of the man whose extra-time goal earned a dramatic Minor Semi-Final win over Wellington Phoenix on Saturday. Todd Howarth, the super sub who strode on to the field and into the spotlight with the crucial contribution in a 3-2 win, felt overwhelmed after latching on to fellow substitute Scott Neville's through-ball and slotting past goalkeeper Mark Paston. "It's probably the best moment," said Howarth before correcting his assessment. "It definitely is."
Howarth's first goal of the season has put Glory just one win from a Grand Final berth. Glory travels to Central Coast Mariners next weekend after they lost 5-2 on aggregate to Brisbane Roar, who will host the season decider in a fortnight's time. "Scoring in the finals is an awesome feeling," Howarth said. "It was a little bit overwhelming actually. It was a beautiful little toe-poke by Nevsy to set me up and I just tried to keep my cool and slot it home, which I managed to do."
Having replaced Andrezinho in the 81st minute, Howarth did no harm to his chances of being offered a contract for next season with a performance that was not just about his late goal. He had also provided fresh impetus down the left as the Wellington players tired. "I was just happy to get my opportunity late on in the game," Howarth said. "I think they were tiring a little bit, especially with extra time and their extra travel. It was good to get on and be able to take advantage of it."
HERD PRAISED AMONG VILLA ‘LIONHEARTS’
Aston Villa’s Chris Herd has earned rich praise from manager Alex McLeish after scoring his first Premier League goal to help keep his club clear of the relegation zone. 23-year old Herd, who found the top corner ten minutes into Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Liverpool, was one of six ‘lion hearts’ aged 23-or-under in McLeish’s team at Anfield Park. “These young boys are doing Villa proud,” said McLeish. “They will run their hearts out for the club. They really have high opinions of themselves without being too cocky. Chris Herd has had to get a fast-track in the Premier League and you can see the progress he has made and he scored a terrific goal.” The win kept sixth-from-last Villa six points clear of the drop zone.
INGLORIOUS PAST NO WORRY FOR FERGUSON (by Jonathon Cook, the ‘West Australian’)
History will weigh heavily against Perth Glory when they travel to Gosford this week with their sights on a place in their first A-League Grand Final. Glory scored a thrilling 3-2 extra-time win over Wellington Phoenix on Saturday night to set sail towards next weekend's Preliminary Final where a wounded Central Coast Mariners are preparing to pounce. The Mariners were crushed 5-2 on aggregate by Brisbane Roar, who will host the season decider on 22 April, but Central Coast will have a distinct historical advantage against Glory on Saturday.
In their nine visits to Bluetongue Stadium, Glory have lost eight times to the Mariners and their only 'success' a goalless draw in 2009. But Glory coach Ian Ferguson says his side has nothing to fear and will relish its opportunity to shoot down one of the competition's big guns. "It's a one-off game and records are there to be broken," Ferguson said. "Everyone will be putting us as the underdogs and that's great. That's how I like it. It doesn't matter who we play because they're both very good teams. They're the top teams in Australia and that's what we're aiming for. We want to be matching it with these guys."
BABALJ NOMINATED FOR YOUNG PLAYER AWARD
Melbourne Heart striker Eli Babalj has been nominated for the 2011/12 Young Footballer of the Year award. Babalj, 20, was voted the most outstanding under-21 player in the A-League for the month of March following a series of pivotal displays which helped guide his club to a debut Finals appearance. “It’s always nice to be acknowledged and it’s a good honour, but I wouldn’t have achieved this without the help of my team mates,” he said. The striker put away three goals in four games to cement his status as one of the nations’ leading young attackers, drawing praise for his technique and clinical finishing.
In all Babalj scored nine goals in 22 games this season to be his clubs’ top marksman. “All in all, this season has been good as an individual and as a collective. It was our objective and we achieved that, although it was disappointing to be knocked out in the first round, so hopefully we can build on that next season.” Babalj is up against James Brown (Gold Coast United) and Central Coast Mariners trio Matthew Ryan, Mustafa Amini and Bernie Ibini-Isei for the Young Footballer of the Year, which will be announced at the A-League / W-League Awards on Tuesday 10 April.
PAYING TRIBUTE TO TROY BERNARD
The late Troy Bernard, one of Floreat Athena's finest players, will be inducted into the Football Hall of Fame WA at its Fifth Induction ceremony on Saturday, 19 May. A wonderfully gifted midfielder or sweeper, Bernard burst onto the local scene as a teenager to play a key role in Floreat’s Premier League, Cup and Night Series triple success of 1997. Five years later he was one of the youngest players to captain the State when, aged 22, he led Western Australian into battle against South Australia. Bernard was only 25 when he tragically died while working for Western Power in mid-2004, Floreat immediately retiring his No.7 which now hangs in the Litis Stadium clubrooms.
Bernard will be amongst 32 new entrants into the Football Hall of Fame WA at next months’ induction at Novotel Langley Hotel in Perth. The Fifth Induction ceremony commences with pre-dinner drinks at 6.30pm, followed by a three-course meal which includes all drinks. There will also be top-class entertainment and each guest will receive a lavish collector’s programme which will highlight the achievements of all the inductees. There will also be a chance to obtain some prized memorabilia. Tickets to the ceremony on 19 May are priced at $150 and can be obtained by contacting Hall of Fame secretary Barbara Gibson (9526 0330) or treasurer Bob Brown (firstname.lastname@example.org).
HOWARTH GETS GLORY HOME IN THRILLER
Todd Howarth came off the bench to net Perth Glory a dramatic extra-time winner in this evening’s A-League Minor Semi-Final with Wellington Phoenix at Perth Oval. The 13,695-strong crowd were sent into raptures when Howarth lashed into the net after 112 minutes to earn Glory a 3-2 win and a spot in next weekend’s Preliminary Final, from which the prize is a Grand Final appearance. Bas Van Den Brink’s first goal in Glory colours had given the hosts a first half lead before Wellington struck back through Chris Greenacre and Manny Muscat. The visitors were 18 minutes away from claiming victory when Billy Mehmet netted to send the game to extra-time.
The stage was set for an action-packed first 45 minutes with early efforts by Travis Dodd and Tim Brown going narrowly wide. Glory got the got they sought from the resulting corner, Van Den Brink firing into the roof of the net after reacting quickest in a goalmouth scramble created by Jacob Burns delivery with 13 minutes played. Keen to build on their lead, Glory press forward son after with Liam Miller sending clear Shane Smeltz who was foiled by a sprawling save from the alert goalkeeper. Miller was provider again shortly before the break with a superb curling cross which to Mehmet whose volley flashed wide of the target.
Wellington bounced back two minutes into the second half with Leo Bertos’ cross chested down by Brown and was thundered into Danny Vukovic’s net by Greenacre. Miller flashed a long-range shot over the bar as the Shed upped the volume sensing another goal. But they were silenced on 55 minutes when Dani Sanchez’s cross-field ball released Muscat who cut in from the right and curled a lovely shot beyond Vukovic. Again Glory went looking for a quick reply, Paston saving spectacularly to deny Mehmet at close-range while Burns put the follow-up high. Andrezinho then delivered a fine cross to Smeltz whose header drifted over the target.
With the tension rising, Mehmet restored parity on 72 minutes by coolly side-footing low into Paston’s net after Smeltz returned a partical clearance back into the danger zone. Steven McGarry came off the bench to almost immediate effect, the Scotsman latching onto another clever knockdown from Mehmet but was slightly off balance and couldn’t get his shot on target. Deep in stoppage time it looked as if Glory’s moment had arrived when Mehmet picked out Smeltz with a superb cross-field pass, but although the striker got the better of his marker he finish failed to trouble Paston.
The first chance of extra-time arrived on 98 minutes when Mehmet’s strike was blocked by Muscat. Miller failed to punish some poor defending by firing wide before Mehmet headed over a McGarry cross. All the pressure remained on Wellington and in the 110th minute Howarth floated in a free-kick which McGarry glanced agonisingly high. But just as penalty kicks seemed inevitable Glory got the goal their persistence deserved, Scott Neville slipping a short pass into the path of Howarth who held his nerve to shoot low past Paston. Five anxious minutes followed as the visitors threw everything forward in search of a leveller, but this was one game Glory were not about to throw away.
INGLEWOOD GO TOP WITH PERFECT RECORD
Ryan Clark scored twice to help Inglewood United to their third straight win, a 4-1 defeat of bottom side Armadale on at 6PR Stadium. Aleks Jovic and Dannie Richman were also on the scoresheet for the home team who claimed outright leadership of the Premier Division thanks to their perfect start to the season. “The boys played well (but) Armadale didn’t really put up much of a fight,” commented man-of-the-match Clark, who said Inglewood’s alliance with Perth Glory is definitely paying dividends. “The structure of the club has improved, it is more of a family club now.”
It didn’t take long for Inglewood to take control of proceedings with their tidy passing approach leading to several unconverted chances on goal. Their attacking outlook was rewarded on the quarter hour when Clarke made the most of an over-hit cross by volleying brilliantly into the top corner from 15-metres. The home side continued to pile on the pressure with Alex Caniglia and Jason Colli causing the visiting defence no end of problems with their pace and delivery. Inglewood’s margin was doubled in the 25th minute when Clark set off on a delightful run straight down the middle before placing into the bottom corner when faced by only Cyril Sharrock.
Goal number three arrived for Inglewood in the 55th minute, Caniglia’s low centre led to a scramble inside the 18-yard box with Jovic punishing the visitors’ defensive failing by blasting into the back of the net. The game was ended as a contest four minutes later when Richman shot low into Sharrock’s goal after playing a tidy one-two with Jovic to go inside the box. With this the home team eased off and only now was it that Armadale started to look like scoring. Their consolation came with five minutes left, Jason Pottier converting a penalty after Jack Clisby’s bump on Alan Darlington.
STIRLING HOLD BALCATTA TO DRAW
Stirling Lions came from behind three times to earn a split of the points from a pulsating derby encounter with Balcatta at Macedonia Park. John Thornley put the visitors in front only to have Phil O’Callaghan equalise, Thornley then struck for a second time with Jamie De Abreu returning fire for Stirling. Moe Atak quickly put Balcatta back into the lead and it looked as though the game would finish that way when O’Callaghan equalised with just minutes left on the clock. Despite the draw Balcatta remains in second position, two points behind Premier Division leaders Inglewood United, with Stirling six on the table.
It was a fairly tame start to proceedings with both teams prodding for openings but each was turned away by their opponents’ defensive unit. Balcatta should have been awarded a penalty after a blatant push on Thornley inside the 18-yard box, however, referee Paul Anderson dismissed the 20th minute appeal. Craig Robson was denied the opener goal by visiting goalkeeper Lewis Italiano, who moved sharply to clear the danger posed by Matt Barlow’s fantastic ball. Stirling threatened again shortly after with Matt Harold, Anthony Lyons and Barlow combining to send through Robson but he placed wide with only the ‘keeper to beat.
Controversy erupted less than a minute after the break when referee Anderson pointed to the penalty spot for handball against Julian Madaschi, however, after a lengthy consultation with his assistant the decision was overturned and a drop ball given. Stirling’s supporters were still venting their fury when Atak sped the ball to the other end and played to the far post where Thornley expertly flicked the ball over his markers head and pivoting to volley spectacularly into the roof of the net. Parity was restored in the 55th minute when O’Callaghan calmly converted a penalty awarded for handball against Madaschi.
Things stayed that way only three minutes before Balcatta reclaimed the lead, John Mills corner to the far post was nodded down by Nunes, Adam Tong’s close-range drive was blocked by Cory Hugo but he was helpless as Thornley stabbed over the line from a few metres. The intensity was now on the rise with both teams knowing the next goal was crucial to the final outcome. It was Stirling that got that goal in the 72nd minute when Lyons low cross somehow passed through several sets of legs before De Abreu lifted the ball into the top corner.
Again the visitors’ response was swift, Atak pouncing on an under hit back-pass by Jason Gavin by getting to the ball ahead of an exposed Hugo who could only watch as the Balcatta attacker slotted into an empty net for a three-two lead. Although legs were weary the teams continued to trade attacks, keeping the crowd on the edge of their seats. The games’ final twist came in the 85th minute when Madaschi and O’Callaghan tangled inside the area leading the referee to point to the penalty spot for the third time with the Stirling attacker tucking in dramatic equaliser.
PERTH PUNISH WASTEFUL SORRENTO
Perth SC bounced back into the winners’ circle with a resounding 5-1 defeat of Sorrento at Percy Doyle Reserve. David Onoforo’s first half brace was compliment by goals from Andreas Oliveira, second half substitute Daniel Neiderberger and Antonio Naglieri with Sorrento’s solitary finisher being Todd Harnwell. “It’s not easy playing Sorrento at their ground so this win is important for our confidence,” said Perth coach Gianfranco Circati. “Our overall performance was good, we showed a lot of improvement in terms of our possession of the ball.”
The ball had been in motion only 5 minutes when Perth nudged in front, referee High Best ruling Shaun Timmins to have handled the ball and from the spot Onoforo fired beyond the reach of Curtis Aspden. Sorrento replied four minutes later with James Morgan crossing to Reece Vittiglia, who controlled before passing to Timmins whose near post delivery was turned into the net by Todd Harnwell. This led Perth to pile on the pressure and on 23 minutes Oliveira eluded Danny Cain and Darryl Platten to nod in a great Naglieri cross.
Sorrento had their chance to draw level again but Harnwell squandered a great chance by shooting straight at goalkeeper Alex Dunn when well placed. Jason Mirco skimmed the post with a free-kick before Brodie Martin headed over from inside the 18-yard box when he might have been better off leaving it for Mirco. The home side’s wastefulness was punished in the 43rd minute when Onoforo again converted past Aspden from the penalty spot after Oliveira had been hauled down inside the area having taken possession of Naglieri’s superb delivery.
The second half opened with Sorrento on the attack. Harnwell mistimed his close-range header from a teasing Mirco cross while Vittiglia put two chances past the post as Perth rode their luck. Both coaches went to their benches midway through the half with the introduction of Niederberger paying dividends for the visiting side, the striker glancing into the net from a Robert Sciascia cross on 74 minutes. Sorrento substitute Darcy Cosgrove had a goalbound effort cleared off the line by Trent Kay soon after. Naglieri put the icing on the cake in the final minute of regulation time with a sublime chip from 20-metres.
HEAGNEY STEERS FLOREAT TO VICTORY (with George Tsadilas, Football West)
A brace from English import David Heagney paved the way Floreat Athena’s second win of the season, 3-2 over Western Knights at Litis Stadium. Floreat regrouped after going down to an early Stuart Montgomery goal with Heagney and Vincent Sweeney finding the net to have the home side two-one up by half-time. Heagney appeared to make the game safe by adding his teams’ third goal early in the second half, however, Ivan Zuvela gave the Knights hope of a late revival by converting from the penalty spot. “The boys showed character to overpower our opponents today and with the side starting to gel, it’s translating to on-field success,” said Floreat coach Chris Barbas.
The game could not have started better for the Knights with Callum Roberts slipping a clever through ball to Mongomery who managed to force his shot under goalkeeper Brad Effie to put the visitors in front after just 2 minutes. Floreat settled after this early setback and on 25 minutes Ludovic Boi stole possession and fed Heagney, who threaded his shot from an acute angle between Kevin Miller and the post. Boi was also provider for the hosts’ second goal on 41 minutes when he picked out Liam Boland with a corner, and while the striker’s header was blocked by Miller team mate Sweeney was on hand to tap in at close-range.
Johny Mirco squeezed a shot on goal early in the second period only to see it palmed away by Effie as the Knights sought an equaliser. Floreat’s tightened their hold on the after 55 minutes, Boland flicking a long ball into the path of Heagney who ran through to bury his low shot past Miller. The Knights struggled for rhythm after this but with five minutes to go were thrown a lifeline with Zuvela scoring from the penalty spot after handball by Sweeney, who was duly red carded for his goal line indiscretion. Floreat switched their focus to defence for the remaining minutes but the 89th minute dismissal of Brian White ended the Knights chances to stealing a late point.
JOONDALUP MAKE MOST OF THEIR CHANCES
New recruit Tanner Selyer celebrated his first start for ECU Joondalup by guiding his team to a 3-2 win over Bayswater City at Frank Drago Reserve. Selyer scored two and Michael Adamcewitz once against a Bayswater outfit which enjoyed the better of possession over 90 minutes but was unable to convert their numerous chances in front of goal. Post-game, Joondalup’s caretaker coach Steve Amphlett was ecstatic with his teams’ first win of the campaign. “The lads were fantastic. We’ve had our problems (but) there’s a great atmosphere and we proved a lot of people wrong," he said. “We’ve gone out and done a good job against what we perceive to be the title favourites to win the league.”
The northern suburbs club were on the offensive from the outset and with 6 minutes gone Tommy Jones returned a partially cleared corner into the 18-yard box where Selyer’s glancing header flashed into Gianni Papalia’s net. With this the home team came to life and on 10 minutes Gustavo Giron-Marulanda stung Andy Banks gloves with a vicious strike from the top of the area. Play swung wildly from one end to the other as the teams sought to assert themselves, Rob Draper’s attempt was cleared off the line by Thomas Gooding before Banks stood firm to deflected away Catarcione’s effort.
Through some lovely one and two touch passing, it was Bayswater that gained the upper hand. Banks was out quick to narrow the angle after Jack Wilkinson got free of the defence, Gooding’s low centre passed along the top of the 6-year box without a team mate insight, then Catarcione’s drive from 18-metres was brilliantly tipped over by the Joondalup custodian. Those misses were punished on 33 minutes when Michael Currie’s corner came off several players before being volleyed in at the far post by Adamcewitz. Giron-Marulanda should have equaliser before the break but unbelievably scooped over the crossbar after meeting Patrick Quinn’s low centre.
Bayswater resumed the ascendency after the interval with Giron-Marulanda’s explosive drive deflected away and Wilkinson rifling wide of the target. Their reward finally arrived in the 67th minute when Giron-Marulanda sent Banks the wrong way from the penalty spot following Shane Doyle’s foul on Catarcione. Two minutes later Currie launched a long ball out of defence which Selyer latched on to and slotted past Papalia in a one-on-one to restore Joondalup’s two-goal buffer. Bayswater refused to give up hope and in the 74th minute Joe Yoffe clipped over the defence for Catarcione, who chested the ball down before stroking past the advancing ‘keeper.
The closing stages were dominated by Bayswater who drove forward time and time again in a desperate search to equalise. Despite being outnumbered, Giron-Marulanda worked himself into space only to have Banks turn his 82nd minute shot away. As the pressure mounted Bayswater’s delivery into the final third began sloppier while their finishing was highlighted by high strikes from Catarcione and substitute Ross Cossgrove. Twice in three minutes Selyer could have sealed the win on the counterattack but on each occasion the young striker placed wide of the far post having got the ball past Papalia.
EASY WIN FOR BUNBURY
Bunbury Forum Force notched up their first Premier Division win by accounting for the National Training Centre 2-1 at Payne Park. Substitute Bright Ababio scored the deciding goal midway through the second half after Aiden Savroy’s opener was cancelled out just before the hour by Slobodan Vulin. With new coach Alan Armstrong in charge for the first time, Bunbury dominated first half possession but were unable to convert that onto the scoreboard. Jamie Tandy’s pace down the left was causing no end of problems and on 33 minutes one of his crosses was received by Savroy, who rounded goalkeeper Luke Radonich to tuck in the games’ first goal.
The second half followed much the same pattern and Danny Kane went agonisingly close to doubling the hosts lead. So it was against the run of play that Vulin scrambled the ball past ‘keeper Ryan Montgomery to bring the sides level after 59 minutes. Ababio had entered the game shortly before the NTC scored and on 71 minutes the Ghanian’s athletic header to a well-flighted corner from Adam Clough restored Bunbury’s lead. Jon Brooks had the chance to seal the game in the closing stages but his fierce strike crashed down off the crossbar and bounced just centimetres from the goal line.
GOSNELLS UNTROUBLED BY FREMANTLE (courtesy Gosnells City)
Gosnells City extended their unbeaten start to Division One by trouncing Fremantle Spirit 6-2 at Walter Padbury Reserve. The home side’s early dominance was rewarded when Darren Gamble tapped into the net after goalkeeper Nagi Kodi spilled a shot from Alan Carroll. That margin was doubled on the quarter hour with Adrian McBride’s corner headed in by Tommy Murphy, and soon after Carroll nodded in another McBride corner for a three-nil lead. Diego Garcia pegged a goal back just after the half hour by sending his penalty kick into the top corner.
This same pattern flowed through into the second half with Gosnells heaping pressure on their visitors. Good work down the left by debutant Jack Clair saw him cross to Gamble, who teed-up Burns to finish into the net at the back past. McBride ran through the Fremantle defence only to be brought down just outside the 18-yard box from where the Gosnells midfielder curled past the defensive wall and into the bottom corner. The port side were then awarded another penalty, Garcia again successful from the spot to make it five-two. With ten minutes left Juan Cabrera beat two opponents before squaring for Gamble to tuck I his second goal.
KOVACEVIC GETS ASHFIELD OVER THE LINE
A late goals by Mladen Kovacevic has given Ashfield a 2-1 win over Shamrock Rovers in the ‘Woodbridge Derby‘ at Ashfield Reserve. Shamrock enjoyed the better of a scrappy first half and so it was no surprise when they went ahead on 27 minutes through Nick Carroll, who intercepted a defensive pass before clipping over goalkeeper John Perkins in a one-on-one. It was only now that Ashfield started to spark but Karl O’Reilly was unable to direct Ryan Frisina’s inviting cross into the net before offside denied Okwy Diamondstar an equaliser.
Ashfield picked up the second half where they left off, pinning Shamrock in their defensive zone for lengthy periods. Frisina brought the teams level with 51 minutes gone with a glancing header into the bottom corner after being found unmarked by O’Reilly. Steve O’Mahoney was rock solid in the Ashfield backline as Daryl Warren continually harassed the Shamrock’s rearguard with his darting runs down the left. The deciding goal arrived with four minutes to go, Natta Narongphunt crossing for Kovacevic to head beyond the reach of Eamon Barnes.
MANDURAH OUT-GUN MORLEY (courtesy Mandurah City)
Mandurah City recovered from conceding early to run over Morley Windmills 4-1 at Hyundai Stadium. Morley started the game well and almost went one-nil up through Gavin Brady whose shot from 16-metres whizzed past the upright. The visitors continued to press and on 13 minutes Tony Vinci punished sloppy defending by slotting in at the second opportunity after Phil Straker blocked his initial shot. Mandurah now sparked into life, Jeff Bright’s powerful shot was parried by Steve Grant only as far as Danny Dyson who sent the ball into empty net. Bright threatened again on 37 minutes but his shot was just wide, while shortly before the break Michael Grigo’s effort was saved by Grant.
The second half was given a crackerjack start with Grigo hitting the post and Vinci denied by Straker inside a minute. Grigo made amends in the 51st minute by beating one defender and brilliantly curling the ball into the top corner from 25-metres. Matt Stares increased Mandurah’s lead by poking in during a goalmouth scramble caused by Bright’s 64th minute corner. Morley were clearly tiring and six minutes later Bright was brought down inside the 18-yard box with Darren Broxton converting from the spot, however, the referee ordered it be retaken with Grant this time saving. The sealer arrived soon enough with substitute Robbie Hamm getting on the end of a Craig Tome cross to ensure Mandurah’s second win from as many starts.
WANNEROO SURVIVE ROCKINGHAM REVIVAL
Wanneroo City returned home from Lark Hill Sportsplex with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Rockingham City. A couple of late first half goals from Brian Cairney put the visiting team in the box seat before Marco Dos Santos pull one back to set-up a tense final twenty minutes. “We’re very happy with the three points today. It wasn’t our best performance but we did enough to get across the line,” confessed Wanneroo coach David Tough. “It’s a good result as Rockingham are a very well-organised side who will take points off teams this year, especially at their ground.”
The opening exchanges were pretty even with both teams pressing high and defending well with Anthony Jones and Rob Crerar leading by example. The first chance of note arrived on 26 minutes, Brent Mayhew releasing Gershan Rowland who placed wide after beating the last defender. The visitors snared the go-ahead goal nine minutes later when Josh Booysen cut the ball back for Brian Cairney to side foot in. Cairney bagged his second a minute from the break after goalkeeper Brad Cruickshanks spilled Jay Marsden’s powerful drive.
With the words of coach Steve Robinson still ringing in their ears, Rockingham applied some serious pressure to their opponents defence after the break. Their determination to reel in the gap was rewarded in the 70th minute when captain Lance Louvie play out wide to Dos Santos, who cut in from the left to curl past ‘keeper Clint Davies and into the net via the far post. A defensive mix-up opened the door for Trevor Laure to equalise but his delay in shooting gave Jones time to get across and block. Both sides fashioned further openings on goal but neither Booysen nor Mayhew got the result they were after.
HIGH FIVE BY DIANELLA (courtesy Dianella White Eagles)
Dianella White Eagles collected maximum points for the first time this year by out-gunning Forrestfield United 5-2 at Hartfield Park. The home team were under pressure from the outset and on 10 minutes their persistence paid off with Simon Barber hitting the back of the net from 6-metres. Going a goal down seemed to have a galvanising effect on Forrestfield and midway through the half Ben Fraser headed into the bottom corner from Wade Farmer’s delivery. It was now Dianella’s turn to respond and with half-time approaching Blaz Radinovic restored their lead by placing beyond Luke Woodfin in goal.
A lively start to the second half by Forrestfield was rewarded when Farmer shot into the roof of the net to tie the game up at two-all. Fraser was twice denied in one-on-one’s with Matt Battigelli before the visitors surged forward again with Zoran Vrteski sliding the ball under the advancing ‘keeper. In the 78th minute substitute Dhamon Kalamras crossed to the top of the 6-yard box for Andrew Kirr to finish into the net. Kalamaris completed the scoring after being released by Branimir Dragojevic and rounding Woodfin to tap into an empty net.
COCKBURN GET OFF THE MARK
Goals either side of half-time ensured Cockburn City picked up their first points of the season with a 2-0 win over Canning City on a warm afternoon at Hossack Reserve. Possession was evenly shared early on but as the half progressed Paul Natale and Ross Diamond started to flex their midfield muscle and swing play in the hosts favour. Euan Grant, John Hunter and Ian McMurray each had half-chances to score while down the other end Ante Kovacevic’s deflected free-kick forced a fine save from Dejan Aleksic. The breakthrough came shortly before half-time after Natale, Matt Salmon and Hunter combined for McMurray to finish into the net.
Canning looked to turn things around after the break with Michael Van Dongen shaving the crossbar and Aleksic saving from Blake Readwin and Simon Corriea in quick succession. Those misses would come back to haunt the home side just after the hour when Devon Gibson orchestrated a quick break with a defence splitting pass which Hunter coolly sent past Paul Goncalves. However, goal celebrations were short lived as a few minutes later Gibson was issued his marching orders for a clumsy challenge. Not surprisingly, Canning dominated the closing stages but the closest they’d come to scoring was a Dane Navarro shot which Pavle Biserko cleared off the line.
THREE FROM THREE FOR FREMANTLE (courtesy Fremantle United)
Fremantle United continued their impressive start in Division Two with a comfortable 3-1 defeat of Kingsway Olympic. Michael DeSouza gave the visiting team a 7th minute lead when he brilliantly chipped over goalkeeper Ben Towers from a short corner move. Fremantle should have further punished their opponents but were guilty of wasting several guilt-edged chances. They did eventually find a second goal with Willie Pender rolling a free-kick to Paul Neff who blasted in from close-range after the Kingsway ‘keeper was forced to handle a back header by one of his team mates.
PLOWMAN, FEELY NET TWO APIECE AS UWA POWER AWAY (courtesy UWA-Nedlands)
An attack-focused UWA-Nedlands dominated Quinns to the tune of 6-2 this afternoon at McGillvray Oval. The home team sounded their intention early with Rory Feely firing into the net at close-range after the visiting defence failed to deal with a corner. Aaron Maplestone was presented a great chance to put Quinns back in the game just before the half hour but his penalty kick was too close to goalkeeper Danny Roberts, who saved comfortably. There was no such wastefulness at the other end of the park where James Plowman latched onto Brad Skea’s through ball, beat his marker and lashed past goalkeeper Todd Hoyle two minutes from the interval.
The second half was a minute old when Roberto Lujan increased the difference to three goals with a powerful strike that went in via the underside of the crossbar. Quinns then enjoyed their best period of the game as new signing Jake Stewart tucked into the net after Adam Buckley’s 63rd minute attempt came off the upright. The deficit was further reduced not long after with Buckley making the most of a one-on-one opportunity with Roberts. However, UWA’s superior fitness shone through in the final twenty minutes in which Steve Purton converted from the penalty spot, an unmarked Feely blasted in from 14-metres and Plowman netted from another Skea through ball to seal victory.
SUBIACO A CLASS ABOVE JOONDALUP (courtesy Subiaco AFC)
Danny Malcolm scored twice as Subiaco AFC registered their first win of the season by edging out a physical Joondalup City outfit 4-3 at Iluka Sports Complex. It was clear from early that this was going to be an interesting encounter with Subiaco’s fluid movement at odds to their hosts’ long ball tactics. That said, Joondalup did go one-nil up after 8 minutes when Lucais King netted at close-range. Undeterred, Subiaco continued to work the ball around with Scott Wrightson rifling in a deserved equaliser. The visitors again went forward and this time it was Malcolm who truly from 15-metres. Joondalup returned fire with King netting again to send the teams in level at the break.
Subiaco regained the upper hand in the second half with Malcolm sending the ball into the net for a second time after Jordan Rhodes’ penalty kick was blocked by the goalkeeper. Joondalup were fortunate not to go down a man soon after when a rash late challenge on Jordan Rhodes elicited only a yellow card from referee Ton Klaver. Subiaco were by this stage cruising and a nice dummy by Simon Edwards allowed Rhodes to come in around the back and apply a classy finish. With a couple of minutes left visiting goalkeeper Tom Barrett was left red faced when he misjudged a Nicholas King shot, which snuck inside the upright.
PREMIER DIVISION PREVIEW
All eyes will be on Macedonia Park tomorrow for the footballwa.net match of the week between neighbouring Stirling Lions and Balcatta. Home coach Doug Hesketh knows it will be a tough test for this side but it’s a game he’s looking forward to nonetheless. “Michael Roki is an excellent coach with a top record and Balcatta have recruited well this season,” commented Hesketh. “They topped the table last season, they have depth and experience so it will be a tough test for us.” Hesketh has a near full squad to choose from with injured Ryan McDarby the only absence.
Balcatta have taken maximum points from their opening two league games but are not about to underestimate their next opponent. “Stirling always seems to be a team that have potential to hurt you on any given day, so we will need to be at our best this week after a pre-season with limited real match play,” said coach Roki. “If we stay defensively solid we will definitely have a few chances to win the game.” Geneveo Human, Jovo Pavlovic and Moe Atak are back in contention but where they’ll fit into the Balcatta line-up remains to be seen.
Sorrento coach Paul Price is looking forward to Perth SC’s visit to Percy Doyle Reserve. “Any team coming to Sorrento know they are in for a tough match. Purists of the game like to think it’s all about pretty football but in my opinion the physical side of the game is also great to watch when done fairly,” said Price. “Saying that, we have players all over the park that are capable of getting the ball down and playing that is something Perth will have to overcome. Most games between us have been very close and I expect another game like that on the weekend.”
Inglewood United are tipped to take the points over Armadale when drop in at 6PR Stadium. But while his team are favoured to win, midfielder David Perich knows Armadale are not to be taken tightly. “We played them in the Night Series and we just managed to scrap a 2-2 result, and I would expect another tough game on the weekend,” said Perich. “We don’t have the biggest squad so we will have to be wary of set pieces, but if we play with the intensity we have shown the past two weeks I’m confident we can get three points.”
ECU Joondalup’s search for their first point of the season takes them to Frank Drago Reserve where Bayswater City is the home team. “We almost stole a point last week but it would have been unfair on Floreat who dominated long periods of the game,” said Andy Banks, who had the difficult task of keeping the likes of Gustavo Giron-Marulanda and Cisco Jorquera at bay. “It’s another tough game for us, they have a few quick boys upfront so we will have to be on our guard… we will take anything at the moment, we just need to keep positive.”
Floreat Athena are back on home soil when they take on Western Knights. The home side will need Mark Pritchard and Ludovic Boi firing on all cylinders if they’re to take out the points. Luka Jukic is expected to come into the Knights eleven to partner recent arrival Brian White in the engine room. Alan Armstrong took up the reins at Bunbury Forum Force during the week and should lead his team to their first points of the season when the National Training Centre visits Payne Park. All games kick-off at 2.00pm on Saturday with the exception of Stirling-Balcatta and Bunbury-NTC, which both begin at 3.00pm.
DIVISION ONE PREVIEW
Canning City will not underestimate the danger posed by a Cockburn City side coming off back-to-back losses when they square off at Hossack Reserve tomorrow. “Cockburn are a good side, despite what the recent results indicate, they will be hard to beat. We are expecting a tough game,” said Michael Van Dongen, player-coach of Canning. “We come into the game off a disappointing result against Dianella, being 2-0 up with ten minutes to go we should have never let them into the game. If the boys’ frustration after the game is anything to go by we not let that occur twice.”
Wanneroo City coach David Tough will try to squeeze into his line-up Guy McDonald, Chris Pugh and new signing Andy O’Neill for their visit to Rockingham City. Mandurah City return from a fortnights’ break at full strength for their home game with Morley Windmills, who’ll heave Salv Todaro at the helm for the last time before his defection to ECU Joondalup. Andreas Theodosiades is in doubt for Dianella White Eagles’ third away game in a row, this week they travel to Forrestfield United who’ll be without suspended defender Peter Cartwright. Suspension also rules Andy Pomfret out of Gosnells City’s game at Fremantle Spirit.
Ashfield and Shamrock Rovers lock horns in the ‘Woodbridge Derby’ at Ashfield Reserve. Ryan Frisina, Daryl Warren and Matt Wardle have big roles to play if Ashfield are to extend their unbeaten run to three games. There are some serious defensive concerns in the Shamrock camp where Robbie Kelly (ankle) has joined David Murphy (ankle) in the sidelines while Simon King will need to pass a late fitness test if he is to play any part in the afternoons’ proceedings. All six Division Two games kick-off at 2.00pm on Saturday.
DIVISION TWO PREVIEW
Kingsway Olympic have their sights set on halting Fremantle United’s winning start to in Division Two when the sides meet at Kingsway Reserve. “Coming up against Fremantle, who have won two from two, will give us a good indication of where we are at,” said Kingsway coach Steve Dimitrovich. “We will work on a few areas where we can cause them problems and if we stick to our game plan hopefully we will come away with the right result. But we know Fremantle aren’t in the league just to make up the numbers, they’ll want to keep their unbeaten start to season intact so we’re expecting a very competitive game.”
Joondalup City and Subiaco AFC go searching for their first points of the season at the Iluka Sports Complex. A few more goals from Lucias King will go a long way towards those points going to the home side, however, Subiaco playmaker Jordan Rhodes will have just as big a say in the outcome. UWA-Nedlands are expected to pick up their second win in as many games when they welcome Quinns to McGillvray Oval. James Plowman and new goalkeeper Danny Roberts will figure prominently for UWA, likewise Nick Maplestone and Adam Bowers for the visitors. All three Division Two games commence at 2.00pm on Saturday.
HARRIS STEERS HEAGNEY IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
New Floreat Athena player David Heagney is glad he listed to close friend Spencer Harris. Heagney was considering taking up the opportunity to trial for English club Bradford City when Harris suggested a move to Perth might be the better option. The 21-year old striker followed his friend’s advice and after making his State League debut on the weekend he knows he made the right decision. “Spencer, who is also at Floreat, asked if I was interested in coming out here to play,” Heagney explained. “I jumped at the chance, it’s the best decision I could have ever made.”
Heagney made a dream start to his Premier Division career, laying on the opening goal scored by Liam Boland in Saturday’s 2-1 win at ECU Joondalup. “I absolutely loved my first game, it felt so good to finally play,” said Heagney, whose debut was held up by delays with his international clearance. “I was a little disappointed not to score but was really happy with the result which we definitely deserved. Everything is going well at the club and I’ve settled in really well. I’ve been here for a while and I’ve had a decent pre-season which is important, and the club have really made me welcome.”
A junior with English side Huddersfield Town, Heagney turned professional at the age of 17 by signing on for Scottish club St Johnstone. A string of injuries blighted his time at McDiarmid Park, leading to the striker’s move to non-League outfit AFC Emley where this season he bagged 26 goals in 34 games. “The spirit at the club is fantastic, and while I could have moved elsewhere this season I wanted to show some loyalty and repay them for what they have done for me,” he said of playing for Emley. “But the chance to go to another country and play football for a living is just too good to turn down.”
Heagney is looking forward to this weekend’s game with Western Knights, his first at his new home of Litis Stadium. “I can’t wait to make my home debut and hopefully I’ll be on the scoresheet,” the striker said. “But more important than that is we get a good result, which I’m sure we will … the lads at Floreat are brilliant I think we have a very good team this year and will do really well.” Floreat’s home game with the Knights has been brought forward an hour for a 2.00pm start on Saturday at Litis Stadium.
NEVER-SAY-DIE ATTITUDE PLEASES DIANELLA’S GOODMAN
Dianella White Eagles coach Jamie Goodman can not find fault with the way his players responded to adversity on Saturday afternoon. Dianella were staring down the barrel of defeat at Canning City they scored twice in the final eight minutes to steal a share of the points. “I was happy with the attitude and determination the boys showed to come back,” said Goodman. “We didn’t stop and got our rewards for that against a highly experienced Canning side. That said, we played better than that during the pre-season so there are areas where we can improve.”
With a solid pre-season under their belt and a positive start to the league campaign, Goodman is confident Dianella will continue to on the foundation laid last year. “We have set ourselves the goal of continuing to improve on and off the field,” said Goodman. “We are not perfect by any stretch but we are working towards being successful as a club in the near future. It is a very competitive league this year and if we can break into to the top half of the table it would be a successful season.”
Dianella enter the new season with much the same squad which finished 2011, and Goodman says the stability that brings the club will serve them well during the winter. “We have a young side and the fact we have stayed together is a big plus and allows us to continue on with the improvement we showed towards the end of last season,” said the coach. “We have added a few good players to the group in key areas that we thought we needed to improve on, and the competition for places that has brought is a good thing.”
On Saturday Dianella heads to Hartfield Park where they face a Forrestfield United side smarting from losses in their opening two games of the campaign. “There are no easy games in this league,” commented Goodman, who has no intention of taking this weekend’s game lightly. “Forrestfield are going through a re-building phase and will prove a good test for us. They beat us a few weeks ago in the Sunbowtec Night Series … we can take a lot of confidence from last week’s performance and turn the tables on them.
HESKETH HAS STIRLING MOTIVATED FOR DERBY
It’s been a busy week on the training track at Stirling Lions where coach Doug Hesketh’s troops are preparing to go into battle with near neighbours Balcatta. Hesketh recognises the difficulty of the task ahead of his players and knows they will give their all to bring to the Premier Division’s early pacesetters. “We are improving as a team, we are motivated, we work for each other and we want success every time we play,” said Hesketh. “Our players will want to give a good account of themselves in the local derby and we will try our very best to do this.”
Stirling registered their first win of the season on Saturday by seeing off Premier Division newcomers Bunbury Forum Force 3-1. However, the win came at a cost with midfielder Ryan McDarby carried from the field after 8 minutes with a broken leg. “Ryan has been exceptional since he joined us in January,” commented Hesketh. “He made the centre midfield role his own and was a stand out against Sorrento in Round One. Ryan is a huge loss for the team and everyone at the club wants him back healthy, well and fit as soon as possible because he is a big part of what we’re trying to achieve.”
The team in red regrouped after the loss of McDarby with Matt Barlow stamping his authority on the game by scoring all three goals in a 3-0 win. “I thought we stuck to the game plan superbly. Matty showed his class with a great hat-trick, his first goal one was a peach,” said Hesketh. “Andy Brown, Jason Gavin and Michael Pugliese were solid, and the rest of the lads really applied themselves, working for each other as they all know there is pressure on for starting spots. We have some excellent young players putting pressure on each other for places.”
Hesketh, who has Gary Williams as his assistant, is pleased with how a new-look Stirling side are tracking. “We’ve a number of new faces in the side and the team is starting to come together,” he said. “The lads were disappointed not to get anything at Sorrento but they worked hard and deserved the points against Bunbury, who are a tough team with some excellent players. It’s a work in progress at Stirling as getting new and old players to gel quickly is a challenge. They are all good players, good people and are becoming a tight unit and very supportive of each other.”
AXE FALLS ON GOLD COAST
Football Federation Australia has confirmed Gold Coast United will not play in the A-League next season. The decision comes a day after the federation announced it would bankroll a new western Sydney franchise from next season. FFA blamed a lack of public and corporate support in the city for the decision, as well as a shortage of new investors with “a viable business plan and adequate capital investment.” Gold Coast becomes the third club to fold since the A-League’s inception seven years ago, behind North Queensland Fury and New Zealand Knights.
JONES RETURNS TO LIVERPOOL SQUAD
Goalkeeper Brad Jones is likely to secure a return to Liverpool ‘s senior set-up while regular custodian Pepe Reina serves a three-match ban. Jones, 30, joined the Reds in August 2010 but has made just two first team appearances for the club with his last inclusion in the match day squad being on New Year’s Day 2011. Since the following months’ coaching appointment of Kenny Dalglish, Jones has found himself well down the pecking order behind Reina and Doni. His only taste of first team football came towards the end of last season when he played seven times while on loan to Derby County.
REVENGE THE SPUR FOR BURNS
Jacob Burns will be motivated by revenge when Perth Glory takes on Wellington Phoenix on Saturday evening at Perth Oval. The Glory captain is still haunted by the painful memory of losing to Wellington in the 2009/10 finals campaign and will use that to provide an additional spark on the weekend. "It's still fresh in my mind," he told Jonathan Cook of the 'West Australian' newspaper. "I know a lot of the guys weren't a part of the long trip to Wellington (two years ago) but it still leaves a bitter taste. To lose like that when I honestly believe we had the best chances, I'm definitely using that as motivation."
Two years ago Scott Neville grabbed Glory a second half equaliser only for Wellington to progress via a penalty shoot-out. This time the boot is on the other foot with Wellington, who finished the A-League season one spot behind third-placed Glory, facing the difficulty of coping with heavy travel and a significant time-zone shift. "It's a hell of a long way to go to play a finals game and it shows how important it was for us to finish third," said Burns of Glory's additional benefit for finishing above Wellington. "It could be a massive bonus. When you're at home you go through the same routine and you're in a far more comfortable position."
CHEESEMAN GETS A-LEAGUE SEMI-FINAL GIG
Local whistle blower Mathew Cheeseman will fly across the country this weekend to officiate in Sunday's Major Semi-Final showdown between Central Coast Mariners and Brisbane Roar. Cheeseman had a memorable A-League finals debut on Sunday when he was correct in keeping down his flag, despite a suspicion of offside, for Shane Smeltz’s opening goal against Melbourne Heart before his sharp eye noticed the Kiwi international’s looping header had crossed the line for Perth Glory’s second goal in a 3-0 win. “I’m pretty ecstatic to be getting a gig over east in the finals,” Cheeseman told thewest.com.au.
Melbourne goalkeeper Clint Bolton complained about Cheeseman’s goal-line decision but television replays showed the newly turned 27-year old was correct in signalling for a goal. “From where I was I saw the ball completely pass the line while it was in the air before it hit the ground,” said Cheeseman, who has won the Golden Whistle as the State League’s top official for the past two years. “When they started questioning it I did think I hope my eyes haven’t deceived me. But if I wasn’t convinced I wouldn’t have raised the flag.”
Cheeseman was last month named football official of the year by the Department of Sport and Recreation and wants to follow in the footsteps of Eddie Lennie, who officiated at the 1998 World Cup in France. “My aim was always to officiate in a World Cup in whatever capacity,” he said. Cheeseman took up refereeing as a teenager and after graduating up through the ranks took the whistle for his first Premier Division game at the age of 21. That same year, 2006, he also gained his FFA Level 1 Accreditation and was appointed to the A-League Assistants Panel.
SMELTZ READY TO TAKE ON WELLINGTON
Star striker Shane Smeltz is relishing the prospect of taking on Wellington Phoenix in Saturday’s national league Minor Semi-Final at Perth Oval. Just a week after netting four times against Melbourne Victory, Smeltz struck a match-winning hat-trick in Sunday’s defeat of Melbourne Heart to set up the clash with his former club. “A few weeks ago I visualised us playing against the Phoenix to be honest, so it’s going to be nice. There’s going to be some emotion playing against the old club,” said Smeltz, who has every intention of adding to the seven goals he’s scored in the past week. “I think there’s always room to improve … In general play you can always improve, so I’m looking forward to stepping up again next week.
FERGUSON SEES ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
Perth Glory must improve on their weekend defeat of Melbourne Heart if they are to get the better of Central Coast Mariners or Brisbane Roar says Ian Ferguson. Shane Smeltz’s second hat-trick in as many weeks earned Glory a 3-0 victory on Sunday. Ferguson said he was absolutely delighted with the win, which set up a home semi-final clash on Saturday night against Wellington Phoenix. It also ensures Glory a place in the Asian Champions League for the first time if Australia retains its 2.5 qualification spots.
However, Ferguson feels Glory will ‘without a doubt’ have to give a better account of themselves throughout the rest of the finals campaign to seriously challenge Central Coast or Brisbane. “We were slow in transition ... it wasn’t fluid football,” Ferguson said. “We never really penetrated them at times when I thought we could’ve been a little bit quicker in transition and that gave them time to reset and get defenders back. But we got a better performance in the second half and I’ve got to be delighted with that.”
GIRON-MARULANDA IS GOOD ENOUGH FOR THE A-LEAGUE: MARCHIONE
Bayswater City coach Mauro Marchione has no doubt Colombian striker Gustavo Giron-Marulanda has the talent and ability to play in the A-League. Giron-Marulanda, winner of last seasons’ Premier Division Golden Boot, was at his menacing best on Saturday night with a hat-trick in Bayswater’s 4-3 win over State Champions Perth SC. “Gustavo could be a good addition for Perth Glory,” said Marchione. “He proved himself last year with the top scorer … he’s good enough.”
Giron-Marulanda is married to an Australian and has permanent residency but does not qualify as a local under A-League rules. Despite the restrictions, his eye for goal has been noted across the country with a number of A-league clubs showing an interest in signing the 25-year old, who would have already been snapped up if not for the visa issue. For now Giron-Marulanda is making the most of his opportunities at Bayswater after recovering from a shoulder problem.
FEELY TO STAY ON WITH CLYDE
On-loan goalkeeper Nick Feely hopes the experience he gleams from playing for Scottish club Clyde can propel him into first team contention at Celtic. Feely, 19, has made seven appearances for Clyde but that number is set to rise after the former Cockburn City player extended his stay at Broadwood until the end of the season. “I need some playing experience to develop. I can’t get that at Celtic so moving to Clyde was just what I needed,” said Feely, who hopes to eventually claim the number one jersey at Parkhead. Feely joined Celtic in 2010 and the following year helped the club win the Socttish Youth Cup Final, defeating Rangers 2-1 at Hampden Park.
SMELTZ BREAKS MELBOURNE HEARTS
Shane Smeltz struck a second half hat-trick to send Perth Glory into the A-League’s last four with a 3-0 win over Melbourne Heart at Perth Oval. Glory’s historic win, secured by Smeltz’s goals in the 65th, 72nd and 92nd minutes, has earned the side a Minor Semi-Final home clash with Wellington Phoenix next weekend. It also seems likely to have put Glory into next season’s Asian Champions League, with the regional federation to ratify their inclusion in the next few months. “It’s unbelievable,” said Smeltz. “I haven’t got my head around it yet, to be honest — what it means to the club and what it means to the boys and everyone involved.”
The return of midfield trio of Liam Miller, Jacob Burns and Steven McGarry to Glory’s starting eleven laid the foundations for a dominant first half display. With Travis Dodd and Andrezinho frequently swapping flanks, the home team probed continually for openings the Melbourne defence. However, it took a 21st minute error before Glory looked like scoring with McGarry forcing goalkeeper Clint Bolton to desperately clear Curtis Good’s under-hit back-pass. In fact it was Melbourne that came closest to breaking the first half deadlock when, on a rare attacking foray, Brendan Hamill flashed a header narrowly over the crossbar.
Glory were rewarded with the lead on 65 minutes with Smeltz calmly sweeping into the net at close-range after Melbourne failed to deal with a Josh Risdon free-kick. Seven minutes later Andrezinho whipped a superb cross to the far post where Smeltz rose above his marker to head over the line, despite protestations from Bolton that he’d kept the ball out. With the home fans now in party mode, Melbourne attempted a late rally but Danny Vukovic tipped a rasping shot from Eli Babalj over his bar. The game was well into stoppage time when Miller unlocked the visiting defence, allowing Smeltz to slip the ball past the helpless Bolton.
GIRON-MARULANDA GIVES PERTH THE BLUES (with Bianca Redding, Football West)
Bayswater City avenged their Night Series final loss by triumphing 4-3 over Perth SC in this evening’s game at Dorrien Gardens. Gustavo Giron-Marulanda helped himself to a hat-trick with Gustavo Catarcione also on the scoresheet for a determined Bayswater outfit. “We learnt from the Night Series final ... we knew we were better than them and we knew we could beat them,” said Bayswater coach Mauro Marchione. “Defensively we didn’t concede anything, I thought our midfield was strong and it’s a bonus that we have Gustavo to finish what the whole team creates. If we believe in ourselves and we play consistently, we can beat anyone this year.”
Scoring opportunities were at a premium throughout the first half with the intense rivalry between the clubs meaning neither was willing to concede an inch without a fight. Daniel Niederberger was lively up front for the home side with a couple of near misses in the space of a few minutes, putting Bayswater goalkeeper Gianni Papalia on notice. At the other end Perth custodian Alex Dunn was called into action in the 21st minute as Giron-Marulanda, Catarcione and Patrick Quinn featured in what must have felt like an unrelenting attack on goals with a trio of rapid fire attempts on goal.
Perth got the breakthrough five minutes later as Robert Sciascia cut the ball back to Niederberger, who finished strongly with a measured first touch from his right boot. However, that lead last just five minutes before Giron-Marulanda scored with a dead ball which dribbled into the net after deflecting off a Perth defender and catching Dunn off-balance. Referee Paul Anderson earned the wrath of the Bayswater faithful in the 35th minute when he booked Catarcione for simulation, despite the attacker appearing to have been clipped by Dunn in a one-on-one contest.
Giron-Marulanda made clear his intentions eight minutes after the turnaround by unleashing a long-range bomb which cleared the crossbar by the narrowest of margins. But there would be no stopping Giron-Marulanda who, on the hour, skilfully stepped around the defence to drill into the bottom corner of the net passed a stunned ‘keeper. With Perth on the ropes, Bayswater went for the knock-out blow. Some persistent build-up play in the 66th minute put the ball at the feet of Catarcione who finished brilliantly to make it three-one to the away side.
Bayswater were not yet finished and five minutes later Ross Cossgrove threaded the ball into the path of Giron-Marulanda, who drove past several defenders before slipping his shot past Dunn from a narrowing angle. Perth hit back in the 84th minute, James Isaia’s volley revitalising the home team and signalling to all the game was by no means over. They continued to turn the screws on a clearly tiring Bayswater side with a minute left David Onoforo headed the Blues third goal past Papalia from a set piece. However, Bayswater were not going to let this one slip and locked the game down until the final whistle sounded.
THORNLEY STARS IN BALCATTA WIN
John Thornley guided Balcatta to victory over Armadale by scoring all the goals in this afternoon’s 3-0 win at Alfred Skeet Oval. Thornley, an off-season signing from ECU Joondalup, opened his account midway through the first half and netted twice more after the break to take his tally to five goals in two games. “John produced another workman-like performance against Armadale, not unlike last week’s Bunbury Forum Force effort which earned him a brace,” said victorious coach Michael Roki. “He doesn’t mess around in front of goal, he has a good turn of foot, great strength in the one-on-one challenge and once on the ball is an efficient finisher.”
The visiting team hit the ground running and could have been a couple of goals up had John Mills been able to make more of his early chances. After an initial flurry, Balcatta settled to dominate possession and territory against an Armadale side whose only avenue to goal was on the counterattack. Balcatta’s opening goal arrived on the half hour after some creative forward movement freed up Thornley, who pivoted to unleash a powerful low drive into the bottom corner of Matthew Gould’s net. That lead would have been added to had visiting captain Steve Burton been able to get his shot on target seven minutes later.
Thornley needed all of a minute of the second half to stamp his mark on the game, the striker running onto a long ball by Shane Nunes which he smashed across an exposed ‘keeper. Balcatta continued to ask questions of the home defence and with twelve minutes to go Thornley completed his hat-trick, by half-volleying across the ‘keeper after some tidy lead-up work on top of the area by Paul Vatistas and Chris Thackray. A needless handball by Sean Nichols presented Burton a chance to get on the scorecard, however, he put the resultant penalty kick over the crossbar at the second attempt after referee Joe Fusari spotted an infringement with the initial shot, which Burton netted after Gould had parried.
JOVIC PUTS KNIGHTS TO THE SWORD
Inglewood United made it two from two by out-playing Western Knights to the tune of 2-0 at 6PR Stadium. Young striker Aleks Jovic marked his first appearance in an Inglewood shirt with a lively performance highlighted by a goal in each half. “A late injury opened a spot for me to start and I went into the game with the attitude of working as hard as I could to aid the team in winning,” commented Jovic. “I’m grateful Bobby (Despotovski) showed faith and gave me the opportunity to make my debut for Inglewood, and to score both goals was a great bonus.”
Meaningful chances on goal were scare across the early exchanges in which Inglewood enjoyed the better of play. Alex Caniglia fashioned the first opening for Dannie Richman but the midfielder’s rose over the crossbar, while on 17 minutes Ryan Clarke fanciful effort from long-range curled narrowly wide of the top corner. The home side took a deserved 24th minute when James Sammut pass deflected into the path of Jovic who, with the Knights backline appealing for offside, strolled through to coolly slipped the ball under oncoming goalkeeper Kevin Miller. Defender Jack Clisby was within inches of scoring a stunning second goal for the home side, his audacious shot from 25-metres hitting the underside of the bar before being cleared.
The addition of Ethan Levitt and Luka Jukic injected some much-needed life into the Knights for the second half. Callum Roberts was twice posed to score but on both occasions was thwarted before Graeme Nisbet headed in a Stuart Montgomery cross only for it to be disallowed for offside. However, Inglewood soon enough regained the ascendency, Sammut denied in a one-on-one with Miller before Jovic headed just wide and Caniglia hit the bar. Their reward came on 79 minutes when Clarke sped down the right to deliver a pinpoint cross which Jovic headed in the net. There was still time for Jovic to threaten once more but on his occasion his deft chip was wide of the mark.
FLOREAT GET THE POINTS DESPITE LATE SCARE
Floreat Athena chalked up their first win under Chris Barbas by seeing off a fast-finishing ECU Joondalup 2-1 at the Edith Cowan University ground. Second half goals from Liam Boland and Ludovic Boi put the visitors in the box seat before Dale McCulloch reduced the deficit in stoppage time. Floreat were given a further scare when with the last play of the afternoon Tanner Selyer’s header crashed off the crossbar. “It’s a relief to get the first win of the season,” said Floreat coach Barbas. “Conceding the late goal was disappointing, it’s become a bit of a trait for us. We let one in late last week too, and it’s something we need to address going forward.”
Joondalup’s early focus on attack was rewarded with the first chance on goal, Michael Currie picking out David Foster at a free-kick but the strikers’ header from 7-metres flashed narrowly wide. After that the visiting team slowly took over largely through Mark Pritchard’s influence in the middle of the park. A raking ball by the Floreat captain released David Heagney but he shot too close to goalkeeper Andy Banks. Boland’s shot on the turn whistled just wide after Heagney and Pritchard combined, then Jarred Smith burst inside the 18 yard box but Banks was out quickly to smother. Half-time was looming when Joondalup finally found a way forward, however, John Stark’s volley was saved by Brad Eiffe.
The second half opened with Floreat back on the attack, Jake Geddes heading high from a corner before claims for a penalty was dismissed when Pritchard’s shot struck Mark Tebbut on the arm. The hosts’ persistence was rewarded on the hour with the games’ opening goal, Spencer Harris’ defensive header sending Heagney on his way with the attacker coolly luring Banks out of position before squaring for Boland to fire into an empty net. The margin could have been doubled nine minutes later when Boi threaded a pass to Heagney who raced clear again but this time it was banks that came out on top.
The result looked to have been put beyond doubt when Currie’s attempted clearance deflected off a team mate and into the path of Boi, who sped off to finish clinically past Banks with ten minutes left on the clock. Floreat felt they had a few more goals in them but Boland’s header was cleared off the line by Luke Smith while Boi blazed high when through one-on-one with Banks. McCulloch gained Joondalup a glimmer of hope three minutes into stoppage time by netting at close-range after Draper helped on a Currie free-kick into the box. With the last roll of the die Joondalup won a corner which was swung in by Currie and headed into the bar by Selyer.
MCDARBY INJURY OVERSHADOWS STIRLING WIN (with Tommy Doleman, Football West)
Matt Barlow came off the bench to lead Stirling Lions to a 3-1 victory over Bunbury Forum Force at Macedonia Park. Unfortunately, the result was overshadowed by a horrific broken leg suffered by Stirling midfielder Ryan McDarby, who was replaced by Barlow early in the game. “We are glad to get the points but Ryan’s injury made it a very hollow victory,” said coach Doug Hesketh. “Ryan has been exceptional this year, he has covered four positions very comfortably and was man of the match last week against Sorrento … we all want him healthy and back as soon as possible.”
The game had been underway just 8 minutes when McDarby was stretchered from the field and taken to hospital after coming off the worse from a strong challenge with Adam Clough. After a half hour delay play resumed with the home team quick to resume the attack, Anthony Lyons teeing up Craig Robson whose shot was too close to Ryan Montgomery. The first of Barlow’s match-winning haul came with a precision finish into the far corner from Jamie De Abreu’s cut back in the 12th minute.
Barlow need wait only another six minutes before doubling Stirling’s lead, the striker beating the off-side trap and rounding Montgomery to slot in from an acute angle. With this Bunbury sprang to life and Jayden Prosser should probably have done better at the far post when Jamie Tandy’s cross fell his way. The visitors were literally handed a way back into the game on the half hour when a handball decision went against Phil O’Callaghan and from the penalty spot Aiden Savroy sent goalkeeper Cory Hugo the wrong way.
A tame started to the second half was punctuated by several promising counterattacks on behalf of Stirling. De Abreu twice cut in from the left, forcing Montgomery into a good save with one attempt but blazing high with the other. Bunbury captain Oliver McGee found himself in a good position at a set-piece but was unable to hit the target as the visitors searched for an equaliser. Barlow showed them how it’s done by poking into the net after a fine move involving O’Callaghan and Robson to seal the victory, along with his hat-trick in the 75th minute.
NTC HUMBLED BY RAMPANT SORRENTO (with Andrew Ellis, Football West)
Sorrento showed the National Training Centre no mercy in registering an 8-0 win from a one-sided encounter at Percy Doyle Reserve. The home side could have hit double figures but had to be content with eight against a visiting side that was clearly out of their depth. “The boys treated this as a must-win game. They played with a lot of urgency and got their reward for it,” said Gulls coach Paul Price. Jason Mirco led the way with a hat-trick as and Steve McDonald scored twice with Ryan Pearson, Brodie Martin and Jamie Harnwell also on the scoresheet.
The day started encouragingly enough for the NTC with Sam Borbor keeping the home defence on their toes with his on the ball trickery. But it was Sorrento that took the lead on the quarter hour when Todd Harnwell was fouled inside the 18-yard box and from the spot Mirco placed low inside the left upright. Sorrento got within sight of goal on numerous occasions as the half progressed but were unable to convert their chances. That changed nine minutes out from the break when Martin found the net, however, referee Tim Mihevc had already whistled for a foul on Jamie Harnwell and from the spot Mirco again made no mistake.
The one-way nature of the game continued into the second half with substitute Ryan Pearson lobbing in goal number three from an acute angle. Poor defending at a Danny Cain free-kick allowed Steve McDonald to bundle the ball over the line and two minutes later Martin side-footed in. Just under an hour had been played when McDonald added his second, his Sorrento’s sixth, from a set piece. Their next goal arrived in the 72nd minute when Mirco slipped a clever ball through to Todd Harnwell whose low cross to the far post was tapped in by Jamie Harnwell. Mirco put the icing on the cake two minutes later with a fantastic strike to complete his hat-trick.
O’NEILL COMES TO MORLEY’S RESCUE (courtesy Morley Windmills)
Morley Windmills notched their first win of the season by seeing off Fremantle Spirit 1-0 under lights at Wotton Reserve. The game looked to end without score when Luke O’Neill popped up with three minutes left on the clock to steal his team all the points from a tough encounter. “It was a good solid performance, Fremantle were awkward to play against,” said Morley captain Nick Davies. “We played some nice football at times and should have killed the game off earlier but didn’t take our chances. We’re happy to get the deserved win in the end.”
The home side hit the ground running with O’Neill twice going close in the opening 15 minutes, having one effort cleared off the line and hitting the crossbar with another. Fraser McGuire, Simon Wilson and Matt Italiano were running the show across the middle of the park and providing a rampant O’Neill with plenty of opportunities to open their account. O’Neill should have done better than spray over the bar in the 36th minute, a miss that was almost punished six minutes later when Fremantle launched a counterattack which was halted only by Steve Grant’s superb save which frustrated ???.
Morley’s domination flowed over into the second half with Wilson, Keith Clevenger and O’Neill all unleashing shots on goal. Fremantle’s best – and only – chance of the period came on 65 minutes when Grant was left exposed but came out on top of a one-on-one by saving with his feet. The addition of Joey Wooden soon after ensured the balance of play remained with the orange shirts of Morley but Steve Cowbrough, Italiano, Clevenger, Niall Murphy and Antonio Vinci were unable to convert chances into goals. Their persistence paid off when O’Neill lashed in a poorly defended corner with just a few minutes to go.
GOSNELLS, ASHFIELD REMAIN UNBEATEN
The points were shared at Walter Padbury Reserve where a big crowd was on hand to watch Gosnells City and Ashfield play out an entertaining 1-1 draw. Adrian McBride had the hosts in front at the break but a penalty converted by Martin Sherwin ten minutes from full-time gaining Ashfield a share of the points. The better of the early play came from Gosnells, who were denied a penalty despite a clear foul on Tiernan McMullen. Jamie Burns and McMullen each called goalkeeper John Perkins into action before Ashfield threatened through Ryan Frisina who was thwarted by ‘keeper Allan Creer. The game was in stoppage time when McBride lashed into the net from 25-metres after a fine build-up involving Ian Maguire and Andy Pomfret.
Ashfield started the second half focused on getting back on level terms, pushing further up the park and keeping Gosnells on the defensive. The visitors created several chances to score, the best of which came the way of Karl O’reilly whose attempt from close-in produced a brilliant reflex save Creer. With ten minutes to go the ledger was balanced by Sherwin, who sent Creer the wrong way from the penalty spot after Frisina went down inside the 18-yard box. McMullen squandered two great chances to restore Gosnells lead before the hosts went down to ten men with Pomfret’s dismissal in the 87th minute. Both sides could have stolen a late victory but Creer and Perkins came out on top when required.
DIANELLA LATE SHOW EARNS DRAW AT CANNING
Dianella White Eagles recovered from being two-goals down to steal a 2-2 draw from their meeting with Canning City at Hossack Reserve. The home side looked to be safe after Anthony Campbell and Paul Van Dongen hit the target, however, Dianella Dhamon Kalamaras cut the gap before Ante Kovecevic had the misfortune of turning the ball into his own net with just a minute left. “We showed a lot of character and fight for 90 minutes and in the end were rewarded for that,” said Dianella coach Jamie Goodman. “I thought Canning had the best of the first half and we the second so the result was fair reflection on the game.”
It took a good twenty minutes before either side was able to assert themselves, and when that finally happened it was Canning that looked the more likely to score. Paul Van Dongen brought a routine save from Matt Battigelli, who on the half hour thrust out a glove to bat away Anthony Campbell’s low effort after he was played through. Battigelli was called upon again soon after, tipping away a long-range free-kick from Michael Lawson. The pressure was mounting on Dianella and in the 37th minute they were breached for the first time, Danny Trevisiol’s shot was parried by the ‘keeper who was helpless as Campbell slammed the loose ball into the net.
Play was fairly evenly distributed after the break with both teams’ forward probes turned away. A fine counterattack led to Canning adding a second goal in the 68th minute when Paul Van Dongen’s diving header complementing perfectly Campbell’s drive down the right. Goodman responded by bringing Kalamaras and Blaz Radinovic off the bench, moves which change the course of the game. With eight minutes to go Kalamaras poked the ball over the line in a goalmouth scramble created by Radinovic’s centre from the right. Dianella continued to push and with time fast running out Cory Wiltshire’s long throw struck Kovacevic and ricocheted through a sea of bodies on its way into the net.
WANNEROO GET THE BOUNCE ON COCKBURN
Wanneroo City belatedly kicked off the new season with a 2-1 victory of Cockburn City at Dalmatinac Park. Ian McMurray gave the Cockerels the lead only to have Jay Marsden bring the sides level before the break with Josh Booysen netting the deciding goal midway through the second stanza. A scrappy opening made way for McMurray to score the first goal after 20 minutes, the tall striker blasting through a crowded goalmouth after John Hunter’s shot came back off the upright. Wanneroo returned fire sixteen minutes later, Garin Collins playing in Booysen who skipped past a couple of opponents before feeding possession to Marsden whose 22-metre shot crept under goalkeeper Dejan Aleksic.
The second half commenced with both teams determined to get the all-important next goal. That arrived in the 68 minute when Marsden’s superb cross-field ball found Booysen, who danced past a couple of defenders before unleashing an unstoppable shot from 16-metres. With no option but to attack, Cockburn took their game up a gear but found it difficult to break down the visiting backline. Any hopes they had of a late comeback suffered a major blow when Martin Barnes collected his second yellow for a cynical tackle on Booysen. However, Cockburn almost snuck a late equaliser through Hunter whose goal bound header was kept out of the net by Max Pope.
FARRELL HAS IRISH EYES A’ SMILING
Shamrock Rovers came from behind to topple Forrestfield United 3-1 in a close encounter at Ashfield Reserve. All four goals arrived in the second half with Irish import Brian Farrell netting twice and Barry Mulligan once after Peter Lord had given Forrestfield the lead. The first half was played at a frantic pace with both teams determined to make up for poor showings in Round One. Forrestfield gradually gained the upper hand with new signing Peter Cartwright, Mitch Sapsworth, Wade Farmer and Lord playing key roles, however, the visitors were unable to unable to translate their dominance into goal.
Forrestfield go the goal they’d been searching for after the break when Lord swung a free-kick past the defensive wall and into the bottom corner of Eamonn Barnes’ net. Unfortunately, Forrestfield suffered a serious blow with centre back Cartwright succumbing to injury. This was all the invitation required by Farrell whose driving run produced his first goal. Ian Stack should have put Shamrock in front but his spot kick was spectacularly saved by Luke Woodfin. Poor defending the allowed Farrell to net again with Mulligan lobbing goal number three into the top corner late on.
FREMANTLE TAKE TOP SPOT IN DIVISION TWO
Fremantle United moved to the top of Division Two with a 2-0 convincing defeat of local rivals Melville City at Len Shearer Reserve. A couple of well-taken first half goals by Paul Neff and Darren Monghan left Fremantle as the only team with two wins from the first two rounds of fixtures. The port side took the ascendency after 5 minutes as Andrew Morrow and Monaghan combined on the left for Neff to send the ball past Stewart Dalgarno. With Willy Pender pulling all the strings in midfield, Fremantle’s dominance was further rewarded in the 25th minute when Monaghan cut in from the left to drill low into the net.
Some tactical changes injected a bit more life into Melville for the second period but genuine goal scoring chances remained elusive against an organised Fremantle line-up that was quick to get players behind the ball. The game started to open up midway through the half with Melville substitute Hadi Hussain doing all he could to inspire his team without success. Down the other end Dalgarno continued to play a big part in the hosts’ afternoon, the ‘keeper making several saves from Neff whose presence in and around the 18-yard box was causing Melville no end of trouble.
PLOWMAN GETS UWA THE POINTS (courtesy Subiaco AFC)
James Plowman gave UWA-Nedlands a dream start to their Division Two campaign by scoring his teams’ three goals in a 3-2 triumph over Subiaco AFC at McGillvray Oval. All five of the games goals came during a frenetic fifteen minute spell with Plowman’s hat-trick countered by finishes from Scott Wrightson and Ger Fitzgerald. There were scattered chances at both ends of the park throughout a first half in which Subiaco enjoyed by far the majority of possession. Simon Edwards headed against the crossbar early for the visitors whose goalkeeper, Tom Barrett, stood out with several telling saves, most noticeably a one-on-one with Roberto Lujan.
With Jordan Rhodes and Simon Ralphs operating in midfield, Subiaco edged in front when Wrightson rifled low into the net. UWA hit back immediately, Plowman getting in behind the defence to bring the sides level. From the re-start Subiaco went back into attack and won a corner which Rhodes swung to the back post for Fitzgerald to head his team back in front. Again UWA responded straight away with Plowman bagging his second after some good lead-up work. Plowman completed his memorable afternoon, and put UWA in front for the first time by beating Barrett for the third with twenty minutes to go.
KINGSWAY UNTROUBLED BY QUINNS
Kingsway Olympic collected their first win of the season with a comfortable 3-1 win over Quinns at Gumblossum Park. Josh Rolls scored twice and Oliver Forster once for the visitors with Brad Kershaw grabbing Quinns’ late consolation. Kingsway were in the driving seat from as early as the 2nd minute when Lee Thomas pumped a free-kick into the 18-yard box where Forster out-jumped his marker to loop his header over the goalkeeper. This set the tone for the rest of the first half, however, there would be no further addition to Kingsway’s scoring.
The second half had barely started when Josh Rolls ran onto well-weighted through ball by Elliott Rose which he slotted under ‘keeper Adam Bowers to double Kingsway’s advantage. The points were made safe in the 65th minute when Sean Little placed the ball into the path of Rolls, who again made no mistake with only the ‘keeper to beat. Although the game was now beyond their reach, Quinns refused to give up hope and with ten minutes they were rewarded with Kershaw volleying the ball into Ben Towers net.
PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW
Dorrien Gardens is the place to be on Saturday night when Perth SC hosts traditional rivals Bayswater City in the footballwa.net match of the week. Perth commenced their title defence with a hard fought win at Floreat Athena last week and assistant coach Basil Lenzo foresees another battle on the horizon. “Mauro (Marchione) has a well-prepared team, add to that their fan base and it will be a great game,” said Lenzo. “Bayswater will be fired up – our job is to ensure we are just as hungry for the three points on offer as they are for Night Series payback.”
Bayswater coach Marchione will look carefully at his options with Thomas Gooding and Sadmir Jakupovic pushing to start and star striker Gustavo Marulanda closing in on his return to full fitness. “We’re all looking forward to the Perth game, we know exactly how they play and who the most dangerous players are but it’s always hard on the day to play them,” Marchione said. “I hope we’ve learned from the one mistake in the Night Series final which cost us the game, so we’ll be looking to rectify that on Saturday.”
Balcatta are expected to collect their second win in eight days when they face an Armadale side still finding their feet at Alfred Skeet Oval. Problems with the playing surface at Wauhop have led Western Knights to switch their game against Inglewood United to 6PR Stadium. ECU Joondalup and Floreat Athena are hoping to kick-start their respective seasons by claiming the win at Edith Cowan University campus. Sorrento has the difficult task of facing a National Training Centre side with nothing to lose at Percy Doyle Reserve.
Stirling Lions’ first league outing at Macedonia Park for the year has them up against Premier Division newcomers Bunbury Forum Force. “It marks the start of a run of four home games on the bounce and we will be looking to pick up maximum points from these encounters,” said Stirling midfielder Andy Brown. “Macedonia Park has been a tough place in the past for teams to come and take away points, this year will be no different.” All games kick-off at 3.00pm tomorrow with the exception of Perth-Bayswater which starts at 7.00pm.
DIVISION ONE PREVIEW
Forrestfield United will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing start to their Division One campaign when they face Shamrock Rovers at Ashfield Reserve tomorrow afternoon. The eastern corridor has moved on from an opening round loss to Gosnells City and coach Phil Butler is confident his team can collect their first point of the new season. “The mood in the camp is very upbeat with the players all determined to get things right on the park,” Butler commented. “We have a couple of players back from injury to boost the squad this week and I’m hoping we’ll be given a fairer go by the match officials.”
Swan United coach John O’Reilly will be tempted to bring Aaron Colli, Miki Vujacic and former Blackpool academy player Danny Penwick into the starting line-up for their home fixture with Rockingham City. Cockburn City will be without influential midfielders Marc Anthony and Anthony Pereira for their home clash with Wanneroo City, while Canning City are at full strength for their meeting with Dianella White Eagles at Hossack Reserve. Morley Windmills will be minus Andy O’Neill (work) and David Houston (suspension) for their fixture with a new-look and little known about Fremantle Spirit at Wotton Reserve.
With Ian Griffiths and Martin Sherwin putting their hands up for selection Ashfield coach Matt Carruthers has a few decisions to make for their visit to Gosnells City. “It will be a tough game against an underrated Gosnells side,” said Carruthers. “Tony (Maguire) has recruited very well and has held onto key players Adrian McBride, Graham Tough and Jamie Burns. You know you’re up for scrap when you go to Gosnells, however, we have a side that doesn’t mind hard work and we will be heading there to collect maximum points.” All games kick-off at 3.00pm tomorrow with the exception of Morley-Fremantle which starts at 5.00pm.
DIVISION TWO PREVIEW
Subiaco AFC’s first Division Two outing of the year has them up against neighbouring UWA-Nedlands at UWA Sports Park. “Subiaco go into this game as underdog, especially after how well UWA did in the Night Series,” said coach Ian Cowan. “We beat UWA 2-1 in the first game last year and although they are vastly improved so are we. We will take the game up to every team we just need to make sure we score goals. We have worked hard pre-season and are eager to get going.”
Melville City and Fremantle United sit jointly on top of the table and tomorrow they come face-to-face at Len Shearer Reserve. Michael Jennings is no doubt confident of adding to the three goals he put away for Melville last time out while at the other end of the park its’ Paul Neff that leads the visitors attack. Quinns and Kingsway Olympic go in search of their first points of the season at the picturesque sounding Gumblossom Park. All three Division Two games commence at 3.00pm on Saturday.
DIXON HAS REVENGE ON HIS MIND
New Bayswater City goalkeeper Tom Dixon can’t wait for Saturday evening to arrive. The 21-year old will stand between the posts when Bayswater travels to Perth SC this weekend out to make amends for their Night Series final loss to the Blues. “I would love to get revenge for our Night Series loss,” commented Dixon, who is still smarting from his side’s loss of earlier this month. “I know all the boys want to go (to Dorrien Gardens) and prove something, and I do too … I’m feeling a win for us on Saturday evening.”
Dixon, 21, relocated to Frank Drago Reserve over the summer after a couple of year at Western Knights and has so far achieved his goal of playing regular first team football. “It’s going well for me, I’m really enjoying my football at the moment. Everyone at the club has been great, players, coaches and all the staff made me really welcome,” said Dixon. “Reaching the Night Series Final was a great achievement for the club. It was a disappointing result in the end but it sent out a big message that we are aiming to challenge the big clubs and win things.”
Coach Mauro Marchione considers Dixon a player of immense potential. “Tom is a very talented ‘keeper and can become one of the best ‘keepers in the league, he has everything to succeed and I hope he will,” said Marchione, who is pleased with his ‘keeper potions. “Let’s not forget that we also have Gianni Papalia who, in my opinion, is already one of the best (in the league). They will fight for the spot week in week out. Like most teams in the league we have two very talented ‘keepers and this keeps them on their toes.”
Bayswater added some depth in quality during the off-season but Dixon, who has represented the State at Schoolboys level, feels the key to their season lies with two of the existing squad – Gustavo Giron-Marulanda and John Kearney. “Gustavo is the standout. He is a quality player and thankfully he’s on my side as I wouldn’t like to face him weekly,” commented Dixon. “Another player who has been excellent is John Kearney. He normally plays in midfield but was used at the back during the Night Series which helped me a great deal as I’m still learning (where I fit into the side).”
TOP FOUR IS ACHIEVEABLE SAYS WANNEROO’S JONES
Wanneroo City captain Anthony Jones is tipping his team to be amongst the frontrunners in what’s shaping up as one of the closest run Division One races in years. Wanneroo didn’t feature in last week’s opening round of games but Jones, who represented the State against Iraq in 2003, has seen enough of the opposition to know his team are on track for another good year. “Wanneroo has always been there or thereabouts over the last few years so the top four should be achievable for us,” commented Jones.
Finishing in the upper reaches of Division One will be much easier said than done, as Jones well knows. “The fact alone that two Premier League teams – Cockburn City and Mandurah City – got relegated at the end of last year suggests the season will be tight. And when you couple that with the recruitment some clubs have undertaken, you can’t help but think there will be four or five teams vying for top spot,” Jones said. “And we will be one of them as long as we don’t get too many injuries or long term suspensions to key personnel.”
Jones, 30, is amongst a dozen new faces in the Wanneroo squad for their first season under David Tough, who replaces the clubs’ long-time mentor Gerry McEwan. “David is trying to implement a new playing philosophy which will involve a lot more passing and movement, keeping possession and attacking with pace,” explained Jones, whose job it is to marshal the defence. “With any new coaching regime comes a period of transition, but with the players we currently have at the club plus a few additions then I have no doubt we will be competitive.”
And it’s not only on the field of play where there’s been change with Wanneroo’s facilities receiving a major boost as part of the City of Wanneroo’s $24 million redevelopment of Kingsway Regional Sporting Complex. “The clubhouse and pitch has had a massive upgrade from the council,” commented Jones. “That has given us top-class training facilities and pitch, and we are in the process of upgrading the clubhouse. Once the upgrade is complete the club will be able to have a sound financial base allowing us to compete at a higher level.”
Jones has had something of a nomadic State league career with spells at Stirling Lions, Swan IC, Floreat Athena, ECU Joondalup, Bayswater City and Balcatta. Last year he switched to Sunday League side Joondalup City but when the chance to play for Wanneroo came about he jumped at it. “I didn’t really enjoy playing Sundays and was talking with another Division One club when David got the job at Wanneroo. From that moment it was a foregone conclusion who I would be playing for,” he said.
The new Division One season may be only a week old but already there have been some upsets. “Rockingham City beating Cockburn was a real surprise to me,” commented Jones. “We beat Rockingham 4-0 a couple of weeks ago and considering Cockburn’s pre-season results you would have pencilled them in for a win. I also expected the wins by Mandurah and Ashfield (against Swan United and Morley Windmills) to be a bit closer. Canning have some good recruits so I wasn’t at all surprised to see them beat Shamrock Rovers.”
Jones says Wanneroo will settle for a draw when they belatedly kick-off the season away at Cockburn on Saturday. “We’ll be missing four players due to a wedding so if you offered us a draw now we would take it,” commented Jones. “Cockburn will be desperate to get their season started after losing last week to Rockingham, plus they’re on their turf and in front of their supporters. If we don’t go down there and put in a big performance we know we will not get anything out of the game.”
MILLER TO RETURN FOR GLORY
Midfielder Liam Miller is on track to return to the starting line-up for the first time in more than a month when Perth Glory host Melbourne Heart in Sunday's A-League Elimination Final at Perth Oval. After missing the last five games of the regular season through injury, Miller is back in the reckoning after clearing significant rehabilitation hurdles this week. "He's getting through all the rehab stages," Glory physiotherapist Chris Hutchinson said. "He's had modified training where he's come in and out, which has given him a little bit more rest time, and he's got through that okay."
Coach Ian Ferguson will have several important selection decisions to make leading into the game with Melbourne. Glory limped into final round of the regular season with a string of players sidelined, including Miller, captain Jacob Burns, Bas Van Den Brink and Josh Mitchell. The situation worsened when Steven McGarry suffered a hamstring complaint against Melbourne Victory on Saturday, although youngsters Brandon O'Neill and Jesse Makarounas made the most of their opportunities in that game. The majority of the walking wounded should be back in contention for this weekend’s outing.
WILKINS STEPS UP FOR PERTH
The future is looking very bright for teenage midfielder Josh Wilkins. The Perth SC player is one of several youngsters to come through the ranks at Dorrien Gardens in the past twelve months and is looking forward to consolidating his learning over coming months. “Every which way I turn there's always someone willing to offer advice or support concerning matters on the pitch, Dorrien Gardens is like my home,” said Wilkins, whose strong start to 2012 has been rewarded with a staring eleven position.
Wilkins, 19, wants to take his game to the next level and in achieving that is soaking up all he can from a star-studded Perth line-up. “Playing at Perth has helped a lot of young players, including myself, to reach their goals,” said Wilkins, who has been playing for Perth since he was ten. “The support of senior players such as David Onoforo, Antonio Naglieri and Dom De Felice, to name a few, continues to motivate players like myself to improve the way I play and administer myself both on and off the pitch.”
A former Kingsway Olympic junior, Wilkins was pleased with what he contributed to last week’s 2-0 win at Floreat Athena. “The game was a struggle right up to the final whistle with Floreat continuously making attacking movements, however, our defence was up to the task,” commented Wilkins. “The heat played a large factor in the game and we struggled to find the right tempo in the first half. We began to play the ball a lot better in the second half, which saved energy for when it was needed – in front of goal.”
There was nothing by high praise for Wilkins from assistant coach Basil Lenzo who, oversaw the midfielder’s development in his previous role as coach of the reserve team. “Impressive, dependable and energetic are three of many words to describe Josh’s performances of late,” Lenzo said. “Josh has certainly set the benchmark for younger players coming through at Perth. With existing experience, a couple of external signings and the progression of youth development at the club we are in a healthy position.”
On Saturday evening Perth welcome arch-rival Bayswater to Dorrien Gardens for a re-match of the pre-season finale. Wilkins expects another fiercely contested encounter and says Perth will by no means underestimate their opponent. “It will definitely be another nail-bitter against Bayswater,” Wilkins commented. “They will be looking for some revenge from the Night Series loss, so we’re going to have to be prepared for whatever they decide to throw our way and look to prevent their free-flowing ball movement.” Saturday’s Perth-Bayswater derby kicks-off at 5.00pm at Dorrien Gardens.
GET READY FOR MORE LEGENDS
There will be another touch of history when the Football Hall of Fame WA's Fifth induction ceremony is held on Saturday 19 May at the Novotel Langley Hotel in Perth. Two more champion players will be elevated to Hall of Legends status where they join inaugural inductees Gary Marocchi, Ron Adair, Robbie Dunn and John McInroy. But to find out who these Legends are, along with the new Hall of Champions, Hall of Merit for Players and Hall of Recognition entrants, you will have to be there on the night. Tickets for what promises to be a glittering occasion are selling fast and can be obtained by contacting Hall of Fame treasurer Bob Brown (email@example.com) or committee secretary Barbara Gibson (9526 0330).
LOCAL QUARTET ENTER NATIONAL PICTURE
Four young West Australians will get to stake their claim to wearing the green and gold of Australia after being invited into camp by national under-17 coach Alistair Edwards. Matthew Ntoumenopoulos and Jeremy Tshonga, who are currently at the Australian Institute of Sport, will be joined in Canberra this weekend by National Training Centre pair Daniel De Silva and Jack Iredale for a three-day training camp as work begins in earnest towards next year’s AFC Under-16 Championship.
Edwards is excited about working with the 26 players selected for the first time. “Over the past weeks I have been visiting National Training Centres around the country and have been very impressed by the quality of players within this age group,” Edwards said. “This camp will be the first opportunity for us to work together and to start bonding as a playing group … The door is definitely still open for other players to be added to the squad, but it is now up to this group of players to take their opportunity and make a good impression.”
The Australian Under-17 squad going into camp is Bright Appiah, Jordan Brown, Brendan Gonano, Andre Jannese, Steve Kuzmanovski, Darcy Madden, Todd Norris, Matthew Ntoumenopoulos, Dylan Pickert, Mathew Schmidt, Lucas Spinella, Jordan Thurtell, Jeremy Tshonga, Benjamin Warland (Australian Institute of Sport), Aaron Calver, Alex Gersbach, Brandan Lundy, Kevin Ly, Reece Papadimitrios, Liam Rose, Jaidan Walker (New South Wales Institute of Sport), Mark Marino (National Training Centre, South Australia), Luke Eyles, Paul Stephens (National Training Centre, Tasmania), Daniel De Silva and Jack Iredale (National Training Centre, Western Australia)
THE LONG WAIT IS OVER FOR MAKAROUNAS
Australia youth international Jesse Makarounas could not be happier with his Perth Glory debut. Makarounas, 17, came off the bench on Saturday night against a star-studded Melbourne Victory outfit and although handed an unfamiliar central midfield role played his part as Glory swept past the visitors 4-2. “It was definitely good to get my debut out of the way,” Makarounas told au.fourfourtwo.com. “I think I’ve waited 27 weeks so it was good to get it under the belt and now play a few more games. Playing against Hernandez, Archie (Thompson) and Harry (Kewell) – nothing more than I could ask for and I probably got longer than I expected.”
Makarounas first stepped out with Glory two years ago when at the age of 15 he scored in pre-season friendlies with Gold Coast United and Rockingham City. After a year at the Australian Institute of Sport, he signed with Glory and soon after was representing Australia at the 2011 Under-17 World Cup in Mexico. “Playing against Brazil, Ivory Coast and Denmark - you’d think Brazil would be the best but Ivory Coast were so strong,” said Makarounas, who scored against Ivory Coast to help the Joeys each the tournament’s last 16. “Scoring against them was a great memory. Hopefully I can play for the national team again one day.”
Marked down as a Glory star of the future from his early days, Makarounas attributes his success to his former National Training Centre coaches Kenny Lowe and Gareth Naven. “I think a lot of credit has to go to Kenny and Gareth,” said Makarounas. “They are obviously great coaches which is shown by the number of players who’ve been produced under them who’ve gone on to play A-League. They’ve got a good process in place. They work on the technical and tactical side. And they play the 4-3-3 system, which fits in with the national curriculum. They are probably two of my favourite coaches ever.”
PRELIMINARY CUP DRAW
The Preliminary Round of the State League Cup, which was drawn late last week, has produced some interesting match-ups. Two of the giants of yesteryear, Kingsway Olympic and Cockburn City, meet at Kingsway Reserve while a little up the freeway Joondalup United hosts Wanneroo City. Quinns have home ground advantage over northern suburbs rival Hamersley Rovers, and Kingsley will fancy their chances against the visitors from Fremantle Spirit.
Swan United have been drawn away to Belmont Villa, and Forrestfield United welcomes Rockingham City to Hartfield Park. Mandurah City made a long journey north to play Joondalup City. Southern Spirit are home to Canning City with the only all-Sunday league tie being North Perth United’s home game with BB United. The Preliminary Round of the State League Cup will be played on Easter Monday, 9 April, with the victors advancing to the First Round proper on ANZAC Day, 25 April.
FERGUSON SIGNS NEW DEAL
Coach Ian Ferguson has agreed a two-year contract extension after leading Perth Glory through their most successful A-League season. Ferguson and owner Tony Sage thrashed out the new deal yesterday to allow the coach to focus on the club’s historic first A-League home final this weekend. “I am delighted to get the opportunity to take the club forward for another two years,” said Ferguson, who is excited to be given the opportunity to continue his reign. “It gives us the chance to continue to build on what we have done so far this season.”
Ferguson's tenure has been a hot topic of discussion since taking over the coaching reins in October 2010. He appeared to be on shaky ground at the end of last season after a 20-game run reaped just two wins and six draws. His reappointment for 2011/12 was met with scepticism by some fans, while others called for the coach’s sacking during a difficult period midway through this season. But a strong finish to the campaign, which included a record eight-game unbeaten streak, catapulted Glory to their highest league finish on the back of a club record 43 points.
MCNALLY RETURNS TO SWAN’S NEST
Club favourite David McNally has made it his goal to help Swan United regain their Premier Division status. McNally, who progressed from junior to first team football with Swan, played last season at Inglewood United and although he enjoyed that the defender decided late week that the time was right to head back home. “I’m really excited to be back playing where I first started my career in the State League,” the defender said. “I’m looking forward to playing alongside a few familiar faces from the past, and hoping I can help Swan get back into the Premier League.”
He may have been back in the Swan camp only a week but McNally has already been impressed by the calibre of the squad John O’Reilly has assembled for the coming year. “The squad that John has built will definitely challenge for top spot this year,” commented McNally, who sits alongside Adam Stilitano and Miki Vujacic as Swan’s major off-season acquisitions. “Swan is a great club with a great bunch of boys and supporters and from what I have seen so far it is looking very positive for the coming season.”
BABALJ AIMING TO BRING MELBOURNE GLORY
Melbourne Heart striker Eli Babalj has set his sights on getting another crack at A-League big hitters Brisbane Roar and Central Coast Mariners before the season is out. 20-year old Babalj has achieved the goals he set for himself in 2011/12 and now sees no reason why Melbourne can't push all the way through to the Grand Final. "I set myself a target of scoring eight and I've achieved that and our team goal was getting to the playoffs," Babalj told heraldsun.com.au. "Individually and collectively we've achieved our goals but it doesn't stop and hopefully we can go close (to winning)."
Confidence is sky high in the Melbourne camp leading into their A-League finals trip to Perth Glory. "We've shown we can beat anyone," said Babalj, a former Glory youth team player. "Some people say we've had a disappointing season but Brisbane hasn't beaten us and we've beaten Central Coast and played well against them. So hopefully we get to play them again because we've showed we can match them and rise to the occasion. We've found form when it counts and were in good shape, we're fit and fighting for positions."
Having resumed full training two months ago, Babalj says he is peaking at the right time of the season. "All in all I'm happy considering I didn't have a pre-season," he said. "I started off well and I was lucky enough when I came in we started winning, then we went through a patch where we didn't win in eight and I didn't score in six and that was disappointing. But as soon as we got a few players back it started to jell and I started getting more chances and I've been putting them in the back of the net."
BATES RESIGNS FROM FREMANTLE
The continuing saga that is Fremantle Spirit has taken another unexpected turn with the club parting company with Chris Bates only a fortnight after his appointment to the head coach role. Bates took over following the sacking of Ljupco Taneski but turned on back on Fremantle after being informed of an agreement with Mirrabooka-based outfit Jaguars FC. It is understood Fremantle’s growing concerns over player numbers, specifically a lack of, led them to align with Jaguars, who last year competed in the sixth tier of the Sunday League.
Bates, who voiced his strong objections to the informal agreement, felt he was no longer in a position to coach Fremantle. “I can’t believe it (the alliance) is being allowed to happen. Entering a competition via the back door without earning the right to compete in that arena is wrong, and I will not be part of such an insult to the other clubs, the players and football as a whole,” commented Bates. “I had put together a side that had a good vibe and desire to do their best for the club, now very few of those players will be continuing with Fremantle.”
THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, THE DIVISION TWO PREVIEW
There’ll be plenty of thrills and spills in the newly formed, seven-team Division Two. UWA-Nedlands scintillating Night Series run has them firmly entrenched as favourites for promotion, but even the slightest of slips will open the door for Melville City and Fremantle United to move in. footballwa.net takes a close look at each of the teams, assessing the strengths and weakness before being joined by Tommy Doleman (World Football Programme) in offering their thoughts on how season 2012 will pan out...
PERTH HAND OUT A LESSON IN FINISHING
Perth SC opened their Premier League campaign with a hard-fought 2-0 defeat of Floreat Athena at Litis Stadium. Former Floreat player Daniel Neiderberger opened Perth’s account shortly before the interval with captain David Onoforo coming off the bench to seal the points. “It was a great performance from the boys today against a very good Floreat side,” said a pleased Perth coach Gianfranco Circati. “We defended well today which was pleasing, they were dangerous at set-pieces but our backline was very good … It was also great to see Daniel and David on target for us.”
It didn’t take long for Perth to make clear their intention with Trent Kay heading wide, and Andreas Oliveira placing too close to goalkeeper Brad Eiffe. Having surprised the onslaught, Floreat should have hit the front but an unmarked Vincent Sweeney headed high at close-range after being picked out by Liam Boland. Chances came and went at both ends of the park, Eiffe saving from Josh Wilkins before Alex Dunn kept out shots from Jake Geddes and Boland. The breakthrough arrived in the shadows of half-time, Robert Sciascia’s long ball over the top catching the hosts waiting for an offside flag which never came as Niederberger rounded Eiffe to net from an acute angle.
A quiet start to the second half was punctuated on the hour when Wilkins powerful shot was parried by Eiffe, and Dom De Felice’s follow-up was blocked by Bobby Wilson. Five minutes later Antonio Naglieri crossed from the right to an unmarked Oliveira, who should have done better than headed high from 5-metres. With time running out Floreat almost snatched a late equaliser, Mark Pritchard playing into the path of Sweeney but Dunn was out bravely to save at his feet. The game was in stoppage time when Perth added their second goal, Naglieri releasing Onoforo who kept his composure to strike low past Eiffe from 5-metres.
PROMISING START BY CANNING
Canning City opened their season with maximum points after downing Shamrock Rovers 2-0 at Ashfield Reserve. Danny Trevisiol and Blake Readwin scored at either end of the 90 minutes to give Paul and Michael Van Dongen a dream start to their coaching careers. “To take three points from a team that are very much considered title contenders is a great result for us,” said Michael Van Dongen. “The boys put in a fantastic performance, we were pleased with the commitment, structure and discipline displayed for the full 90 minutes. We also picked up some key areas to work on over the next few weeks in order to improve our performances.”
The ball had been in motion just 4 minutes when Trevisiol chipped into the net after being played through by Paul Van Dongen. Spurred on at going a goal down, Shamrock retaliated by pushing forward in numbers only to be turned away time and time again by a well-organised defence under the command of veteran Ante Kovacevic. Shamrock were denied a second half equaliser when goalkeeper Paul Goncalves beat away Ian Stack’s penalty kick, the follow-up and the follow-up to that by Nick Carroll. With 17 minutes to go, Shamrock’s hopes faded further with the sending off of Alan O’Mahoney. Canning sealed the win soon after with Readwin calmly finishing into the net after being released by Michael Van Dongen.
GLORY GET MELBOURNE IN HOME FINAL
Perth Glory will take on Melbourne Heart in the club’s first A-League home final at Perth Oval next Sunday afternoon at 5.00pm. Glory coach Ian Ferguson backed his club’s championship charge after Glory finished the regular season in third spot. “When I was with the Central Coast Mariners we reached two Grand Finals, and anything can happen in the finals - sixth place can win it,” Ferguson declared. “We’re in it to win it and that’s why we’re here.” Glory enter the finals series full of confidence having lost just three times in their last 14 games and fresh from a convincing 4-2 defeat of Melbourne Victory.
SMELTZ MAKES HISTORY AS GLORY THRASH MELBOURNE
Shane Smeltz became the A-League’s highest goalscorer by snaring four goals in Perth Glory’s 4-2 triumph over Melbourne Victory at Perth Oval tonight. The visitors entered the break 2-1 up with Carlos Hernandez and Mark Milligan finding the net either side of Smeltz. The New Zealand international was at his brilliant best after the break, scoring another three goals in the space of 18 minutes to seal victory. “Personally to score some goals is nice,” Smeltz said after the match. “I think it’s going to be tough for anyone to come here. We’re just looking forward to the finals.” Smeltz’s match-winning haul takes his A-League career tally to 62 goals, edging past Melbourne’s Archie Thompson on 60.
With the crowd of 9,724 right behind them, Glory began brightly with Steve McGarry forcing a full-length save from goalkeeper Tando Velaphi. Melbourne carved out a decent chance of their own on the quarter hour but Danny Vukovic kept out Harry Kewell’s effort. The visitors account was opened in the 22nd minute when Hernandez latched on to a beautiful through-ball from Fabio and placed beyond Vukovic. A minute later Glory hit back, Smeltz heading into an open net after a defensive mix-up between Velaphi and Matthew Foschini. Melbourne got their noses back in front in stoppage time when Fabio played a partial clearance back into the 18-yard box where Milligan lashed in at close-range.
The second half was just three minutes old when Andrezinho whipped a free-kick into the area with Smeltz’s glancing header leaving Velaphi. With play streaming from one end of the park to the other Vukovic was called on to foil Thompson. Glory hit the front in the 61st minute, Smeltz rifling in his third goal from the penalty spot after Milligan had hauled down Billy Mehmet. The crowd rose as one again five minutes later when Smeltz cut inside to unleash a magnificent drive from just outside the box and make it four-two. With this the wind was taken out of the visitors sails, although with 15 minutes to go Hernandez wasted an opportunity to grab his side a lifeline.
MIRCO INSPIRES KNIGHTS TO VICTORY (with Ilija Mihalj, Football West)
Johny Mirco turned in a best on ground display to steer Western Knights to a 4-1 win over Armadale at Alfred Skeet Oval. Mirco helped himself to a hat-trick with strike partner Callum Roberts getting the remainder in a game where Knights ruthlessness in front of goal contrasted sharply with Armadale’s many missed opportunities. “I’m happy with a hat-trick in the first game but it’s good for the boys as well,” Mirco said. “We have lost a few players (since last season) but are looking to add a few more players to the squad in the coming weeks so things are looking good.”
Armadale, who were the visiting team despite playing on their own ground, enjoyed the better of early possession and chances with Jason Dodwell, captain David Caine and Alan Darlington all going close to nabbing the game’s opening goal. So it was against the run of play that Mirco put the Knights in front by converting a penalty after he’d been felled by Mark McClements on the half hour. With this the Knights found their rhythm, Roberts going through one-on-one with young goalkeeper Matthew Gould before the livewire attacked teed up Mirco whose half-volley was just wide.
With their supporters in full voice, Armadale brought the teams level soon after the restart with Ravi Kuppusamy converting from the penalty spot following David Annall’s foul on Nicholas Viaggio. Kuppusamy should have put his side in front in the 55th minute but after being found by Jason Pottier the striker placed wide from a good position. That missed was punished in the 70th minute when Ivan Zuvela turned the ball over and charged down the left before threating possession to Roberts whose pin-point cross set was smashed into the net by Mirco.
Armadale could not hide their disappointment at again going a goal down and two just minutes later were undone for a third time, Roberts getting on the scoresheet with a brilliant header into the top corner from Calum O’Connell’s accurate cross from the left. Both sides created some good chances to add to their respective tallies but neither Zuvela nor Darlington were able to convert when the opportunity arose. Mirco showed them how it’s done three minutes into stoppage by netting his second penalty after being bundled over by Viaggio.
THORNLEY BRACE DOWNS GALLANT BUNBURY (courtesy Football West)
Summer signing John Thornley netted twice to lead Balcatta to a 3-2 win over Premier Division newcomers Bunbury Forum Force at Payne Park. Daniel Micevski was also on target for Balcatta while imports Bright Abobio and Jamie Tandy got the goals for Bunbury. “We didn’t know what to expect against the new boys of the league but they certainly won’t be easy-beats this season,” commented Thornley. “It was good to get the three points, especially with a number of players (we have) out through injury and suspension.”
Bunbury were far from overwhelmed by the occasion of their first ever Premier Division outings. With only 10 minutes on the clock Ababio finished some excellent work on the left by defender Oliver McGee to leave Balcatta goalkeeper Lewis Italiano stunned. Thornley squared the ledger thirteen minutes later with a cool finish after spotting Bunbury ‘keeper Ryan Montgomery off his line. Balcatta continued to attack and in 36th minute Micevski chipped Montgomery for a two-one lead which the visitors took into the break.
The early passages of the second half were scrappy with neither side able to hold possession. Balcatta slowly gained a foothold on the game with the pace of Jason Barrera and Moe Atak causing all sorts of problems for the Bunbury defence. Balcatta doubled their lead in the 69th minute when Thornley poked a well-flighted corner beyond Montgomery’s each. Bunbury were given a glimmer of hope two minutes from the end of regulation time when Tandy scored their second goal, but it was too little too late as Balcatta held on to claim all the points on offer.
INGLEWOOD GET OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT (with James Mooney, Football West)
Inglewood United commenced their 2012 league campaign with a convincing 3-2 victory over ECU Joondalup at 6PR Stadium. Jack Clisby, Brendan Craig and David Perich were on target for the home side to negate a double from David Foster. “Our preseason didn’t pan out as well as it should have with the (Perth) Glory takeover, as people are calling it, the only games we have played was the (three in the ) Night Series,” said Inglewood captain James Sammut. “It was good to get a win on the board as we played some great football.”
Inglewood started full of energy with several early chances coming the way of Ryan Clarke and Alex Coniglia. However, it was Joondalup that to the breakthrough with Foster slipping the ball low past Alex Sutton on the end of an 18th minute counterattack. This served only to spur the home side on and two minutes later centre back Clisby unleashed an explosive shot from 19-metres which came to rest in the back of Andy Banks’ net. The sides traded attacks for the remainder of the half but strong ‘keeping and the frame of the goal prevented any addition to the scoreline.
GULLS SNEAK THE POINTS (with Tommy Doleman, Football West)
A sizzling first half drive by Jason Mirco gave Sorrento a 1-0 win over Stirling Lions from their opening round encounter at Percy Doyle Reserve. Mirco appeared to pose little threat when he took possession but his explosive strike from 23-metres was worthy of settling the outcome of any game. “It’s always nice to score goals, especially when they decide the game,” commented Mirco. “It was fantastic to get the season off to a winning start. It was a game that could of gone either way, luckily for us we scored and credit to our defence that we held on for the win.”
A tame opening made way for a flurry of chances on the quarter hour as the game finally sparked into life. Todd Harnwell headed straight at goalkeeper Hugo before Brodie Martin blazed high for the home team, while down the other end Matt Barlow, Phil O’Callaghan and Matt Harrold all squandered decent opportunities. The afternoon’s defining moment arrived on 36 minutes, Mirco unleashing a superb long-range shot which flashed into Hugo’s net. Mike Aspin nearly doubled the hosts lead on the stroke of half-time but his effort came back off the underside of the crossbar.
BAYSWATER HELD BY TEN-MAN NTC (with Robert Hobson, Football West)
The National Training Centre survived having a player sent off to earn a 2-2 draw with Bayswater City at Frank Drago Reserve. Bayswater held the half-time advantage thanks to Gustavo Catarcione before the tables were turned by goals from Slobodan Vulin and Sahr Musa, the latter receiving his marching orders soon after scoring. Gustavo Marulanda struck an equaliser but the home side were foiled in their quest for a third goal. “They were great – (it) justifies our position as a team in the State League,” NTC coach Gareth Naven said. “I thought the boys worked hard for each other.”
Although both sides displayed an eagerness to attack early in the first half, it was the NTC who gained the upper hand through a series of promising raids. The youngsters managed to penetrate their hosts’ defences on several occasions, however Vulin, Jordan Dodd and Musa were all unsuccessful in finding an avenue to goal. As the pressure mounted Bayswater, led by Cesar Gonzalez, locked things down in their defensive third and hit on the counterattack. It was through one such move that Catarcione found the back of the net on the half hour.
Vulin put the NTC back in the game five minutes into the second half after combining with Dodd. Spurred on by that success, Musa chanced his luck from distance with the ball dropping over goalkeeper Tom Dixon’s head for a two-one lead. Goal celebrations, however, were short lived as within a minute Musa collected his second yellow card and an early shower from referee John Taran. Bayswater hit back immediately with Marulanda’s surge inside the area halted illegally by Blamo Quaqua, the tricky Colombian picking himself up and levelling the game from the spot.
BRIGHT START BY MANDURAH
Mandurah City sounded an early opening day to their Division One rivals by sweeping aside Swan United 3-0 on a warm afternoon at the Swan Italian Club. A sensational Jeff Bright free-kick got the show on the road before David McNally put the ball in his own net with Ryan Townsend sealing victory soon after. “The gaffer asked me at the start of the season to play further up the park so I’m concentrating on putting the ball in the net,” commented Bright. “The club as a whole is pleased with the result today, it’s not often Swan lose at home and we wanted to make a statement from day one.”
The early passages were tight and played out between the boxes thanks to a couple of commanding defensive units. It took until the 23rd minute for the first real chance on goal to present but Bright’s vicious strike was pushed wide by Daniel Agudelo. Soon after Lucas Whitehouse rose to meet a Trent Wood free-kick but his glancing header was wide of the target. The deadlock was eventually broken in the 33rd minute when Bright rocketed a free-kick from 20-metres into the roof of the net, giving Agudelo no chance. The Swan custodian ensured the gap remained a single goal by twice denying Michael Grigo in quick succession leading into the break.
Mandurah started the second half where they’d left off and in the 52nd minute a calamitous own goal doubled their lead, McNally’s attempt to head a Bright cross back to his ‘keeper catching Agudelo by off-guard. The result was put beyond doubt seven minutes later when Townsend nodded in goal number three after getting to a Grigo cross just ahead of Agudelo. Mandurah were unlucky not to have another a minute later but Bright’s shot on the run was turned around the post by Agudelo. Standing down the other end was Phil Straker whose only save of the afternoon was an instinctive reflex stop to keep out Tom Shepheard’s close-range header with 13 minutes left.
FRISINA AT THE DOUBLE
Ashfield underlined their title ambitions with a resounding 3-0 win over an injury-depleted Morley Windmills at Ashfield Reserve. Off-season signing Ryan Frisina continued his brilliant pre-season form with another two goals before Irish import Karl Tate put the icing on the hosts’ cake. There was a fair dose of luck in Frisina’s opening goal in the 19th minute, the strikers shot deflecting off an opponent and evading goalkeeper Steve Grant. Morley’s woes were compounded six minutes later when influential midfielder Fraser McGuire succumbed to injury. Frisina doubled his teams lead just after the half hour by tucking away a pinpoint cross from Karl O’Reilly.
Scrappy play may have dominated the opening part of the second half but it was Ashfield who showed the greater composure and desire. They made the most of these in the 53rd minute when Mladen Kovacevic found space on the right and cross for an unmarked Tate to head in the hosts’ third goal. It wasn’t until the introduction of Keith Clevenger with twenty minutes left that Morley started to seriously get involved in the game. Luke O’Neill could have given the visitors a life line but snatched at his attempt, while Andy O’Neill’s free-kick was pushed wide by Todd Bushby after coming off the defensive wall.
GOSNELLS IN A CANTER (courtesy Gosnells City)
Gosnells City got their season off to a dream start by thrashing neighbours Forrestfield United 4-0 at Hartfield Park. Adrian McBride struck early in a one-sided encounter but it was only after the break that Gosnells powered away with goals by Jamie Burns, Graham Tough and summer signing Allan Carroll. The visitors started at full pace but Burns was denied by Luke Woodfin in a one-on-one while Ian Maguire’s centre low centring ball somehow evaded several well-positioned team mates. Gosnells persistence was rewarded on the quarter hour when McBride sent a free-kick curling into the top corner of Woodfin’s net. Forrestfield’s day took a turn for the worse when Chris Perrott was bizarrely sent off just before half-time.
The pattern of the second half mirrored that of the first so it was no surprise when Burns tucked into the net after 55 minutes having got on the end of a long ball from Irish import Tommy Murphy. The game was made safe ten minutes later by Tough, who converted goal number three from the penalty spot. Forrestfield were by this stage showing signs of tiring and after some good build-up play by Carroll, Andy Pomfret and Tiernan McMullen, the former curled into the bottom corner. The final margin would have been greater if McMullen’s spot-kick had the power and accuracy to beat Woodfin.
ROCKINGHAM HOLD ON TO SURPRISE COCKBURN (courtesy Rockingham City)
Roy Hissey caused an early upset by scoring the only goal of Rockingham City’s 1-0 home win over Cockburn City. The early signs were positive for Cockburn but they failed to create any genuine chances before Rockingham found their feet. Hissey almost found a way through after some good wide movement from the hosts, while going the other way Martin Barnes’ curling shot hit the crossbar. Rockingham goal the goal they were after on the half hour, Brent Mayhew cutting in from the left to slide a pass through to Hissey, who beat the offside trap and flicked the ball over advancing goalkeeper Dejan Aleksic.
It looked as though Rockingham would go on with the job after the turnaround but Mayhew and Gersham Rowland squandered easy headers. The home side looked comfortable for majority of half with David Clark and Lance Louvie controlling the centre of the park. Cockburn finally began to spark as the game came to a close with Ross Diamond having a header cleared off the line. The visitors chances of salvaging the game increased when Rockingham’s Darren Lawlor was issued his marching order with ten minutes to go. But it was clear this was not to be their day when captain Paul Natale’s penalty kick hit the crossbar.
JENNINGS LEADS MELVILLE TO GLORY (courtesy Melville City)
Melville City made an early impression on the Division Two field by out-classing Joondalup City 5-3 at Len Shearer Reserve. Striker Michael Jennings bagged an opening day hat-trick to capture the limelight with Sasa Slavujevic netting twice in a supporting role. “It was good to get on the scoresheet, and hopefully there will be more that follow,” commented Jennings. “It was decent performance, however, there is lots of room for improvement as we’ve got a lot of new faces at the club. Going forward we’ll trouble most teams in our league so expect to see some new names on the scoresheet in the coming weeks.”
Jennings needed just 3 minutes to open his season account, heading a loose ball inside the 18-yard box beyond Matthew Hills’ outstretched gloves. That lead was doubled to six minutes later when Slavujevic end the ‘keeper the wrong way from the spot after a clumsy challenge on Lee McKay. Joondalup pulled a goal back in the 24th minute through Sam Jones’ long throw which caught out the opposing defence but not Lucais King who was placed well to score past Stewart Dalgarno. Melville restored their two-goal buffer just before the break lead when a Delgarno clearance was flicked on by McKay into the path of Jennings who sidestepped the ‘keeper before netting.
The second half was only a few minutes old when Joondalup again pulled a goal back with Stephen Lane beating the offside trap and drilling past Dalgarno. Melville’s response was swift, Slavujevic powerfully sending a free-kick into the bottom corner from just outside the area. A sweeping move by the home side sealed the result, Jennings completing his hat-trick by tapping into an open net Kudzi Chigwanda’s cross. Joondalup continued to fight and grabbed themselves a late consolation after Dalgarno’s attempted clearance deflected into the path of King who made no mistake with an empty net.
FREMANTLE STEAL POINTS AT THE DEATH
Andrew Morrow struck a dramatic last minute winner to give Fremantle United all the points by a 2-1 scoreline from their opening round meeting with Quinns at Hilton Reserve. Paul Neff and Morrow were on target for the home side but it was Adam Buckley’s stunning first half equaliser that was the pick of the goals. With Will Pender and Sammy Smith patrolling the centre of the park, Fremantle asserted themselves early before being rewarded with the lead via Neff, who confidently headed in Michael De Souza’s superb cross from the right. It was only after going a goal behind that Quinns started to threaten and with half-time approaching Buckley punished a defensive error by unleashing a thunderbolt to bring the sides level.
With the words of coach John Evans ringing in their ears, Quinns emerged for the second half with greater resolve and set about taking the game up to their hosts. Aaron Maplestone had more of a say over proceedings in the middle of the park, while at the back Damian McGurk turned tirelessly to keep the opposing side at bay. That said, Fremantle should have had a penalty after Connor Murphy had his heels clipped having gone around the ‘keeper. With both teams having hit the woodwork, the game looked destined for a draw when Smith surged forward on the counterattack to deliver a cross which Morrow sent into the net to determine where the points went.
THE SEASON STARTS NOW!
The new season kicks off tomorrow with newly promoted Bunbury Forum Force hosting Balcatta at Hay Park in the footballwa.net match of the week. Bunbury captain Oliver McGee is looking forward to leading his team onto the park for their first ever Premier Division outing. “We are looking quite strong in all areas of the park and are excited about the challenges that face us this year,” he said. “Balcatta are a strong, well-organised side but we will be ready for the game and hopefully get the result we are looking for.”
Balcatta captain Adam Tong is undaunted by the prospect of facing a Bunbury side which wants to get a few runs on the board early. “Bunbury is probably the toughest first game we could have got, there isn’t a team out there that will put in the same effort and hunger as Bunbury,” he said. “They have just been promoted and want to show the league that they can handle being in the top division, so we know it’s going to be a battle. We will show them respect, but we intend to come away with the three points.”
Inglewood United head out into a brave new era with a home encounter against ECU Joondalup. New coach Graham Normanton will look to midfield pair James Sammut and Ryan Clark along with recent arrivals Storm Roux and Devon Spence to get Inglewood a positive result. Joondalup, who will have caretaker coach Steve Amphlett calling the shots from the sidelines, need big efforts from midfield pair Dale McCulloch and Jon Higgins along with goalkeeper Andy Banks if they are to take anything from this game.
The National Training Centre are welcomed to Frank Drago Reserve by Bayswater City. With a wealth of talent at his disposal, Gareth Naven is hoping to make a winning start to 2012. For that to happen the NTC coach will need the likes of Nick Ambrogio, Harry O'Brien, Friday Zico and Blamo Quaqua to be firing on all cylinders from the outset. However, if John Kearney, Joe Yoffe and Gustavo Catarcione are allowed to assert themselves then it’s going to be a very long day for the youngsters.
Sorrento and Stirling Lions were both active on the transfer front over the summer and each will have a good idea of where they’re at following Saturday’s meeting at Percy Doyle Reserve. Steven McDonald, Glen Thomas, Reece Vittiglia and James Morgan are all back with the Gulls and determined to get the new season off on the right foot. Stirling’s Irish import Glynn McGlynn will need to be closely monitored in the middle of the park, likewise Matt Barlow and Anthony Lyons every time the visitors press forward.
Western Knights’ home fixture with Armadale has been switched to Alfred Skeet Oval. In his first game as coach of the Knights Willie Kelly will look towards club veterans David Annall and Stuart Montgomery for on-field leadership and livewire Johnny Mirco for goals. Armadale goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock has a big role to play in the Reds season, likewise new signings Joseph Tavernese and Jason Dodwell who’ll need to be tip-top form if Lee Bamber is to start his coaching spell at the club on a high.
Round One concludes on Sunday with Floreat Athena and Perth SC squaring off in the local derby at Litis Stadium. For Alex Dunn it’ll be the first time he’s ventured back to Floreat since a pre-season transfer to Perth. “It will be a very tough game, I am sure Chris (Barbas) will have all the Floreat boys fired up for this one,” the Blue goalkeeper said. “We will have to be switched on from the first to the final whistle to ensure we come away with the three points.” All six games this weekend commence at 3.00pm.
DIVISION ONE PREVIEW
Title favourites Swan United and Mandurah City come face-to-face in an opening day Division One blockbuster tomorrow. Coaches John O’Reilly and Mike Brazil have an abundance of options available to them at both ends of the park. New Swan recruit David McNally will have his work cut out taming the attacking instincts of Jeff Bright, likewise Ryan Townsend with John Monterosso. Ultimately, the game will be won across the centre of the middle of the park where Adam Stillitano and Trent Wood pit their skills against Craig Young and Matt Stares.
Morley Windmills coach Salv Todaro says his players are champing at the bit ahead of a trip to Ashfield. “There is a buzz around the training track and in reality it doesn’t really matter who we are playing this week as we are ready to get involved in the season proper,” said Todaro. “Our games with Ashfield have always been good games and both teams will be out to start the season with full points, adding a bit more spice to the local derby. The boys played some good football in pre-season and have been training hard, so we are looking to take that into the weekend.”
Forrestfield United have also undergone considerable changeover the summer and just what effect that has had will be revealed when they host neighbouring Gosnells City. There’s another derby at Lark Hill Sportsplex with Rockingham City up against Cockburn City. The final game of the round takes place on Sunday at Ashfield Reserve where Shamrock Rovers square off with a much-changed Canning City. The Wanneroo City-Dianella White Eagles game has been postponed – the five scheduled games commence at 3.00pm
DIVISION TWO PREVIEW
A new chapter in the history of six clubs begins tomorrow with the opening round of the new State League Division Two. Kingsway Olympic’s return to Saturday football has them hosting a revitalised Subiaco AFC at Kingsway Reserve. Melville City will be out to make the most of their home ground advantage when Joondalup City swings by. Quinns recruited strongly over the summer and have set their sights on causing an early upset away at Fremantle United. All three games commence at 3.00pm on Saturday.
THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, THE DIVISION ONE PREVIEW
The 2012 Division One season swings into action this weekend with several clubs staking an early claim on promotion to the top flight. Mandurah City, Swan United and a resurgent Ashfield have been tipped for top honours, however, lining up behind them are a host of champions-in-waiting. The footballwa.net takes a close look at the thirteen clubs, assessing the strengths and weakness of each, before being joined by Tommy Doleman (World Football Programme) in offering their thoughts on how season 2012 will pan out...
SOUTH MELBOURNE WELCOMES SALDARIS
Goalkeeper Jason Saldaris has taken the next step in his career by joining Victorian Premier League giants South Melbourne. The former Perth SC custodian headed east earlier in the year and last week signed on the dotted line with South Melbourne for the duration of the coming season. “The club have welcomed me with open arms, the players, coaching staff and the committee have been great,” commented 21-year old Saldaris, one of eight newcomers in the South Melbourne squad for 2012.
South Melbourne have been tracking Saldaris since late last season so when the chance to join one of Australia’s most successful clubs came about the ‘keeper didn’t need to be asked twice. “It’s a great experience to sign for South Melbourne. Anyone in Australia who anything knows about football knows the history of this huge club,” Saldaris said. “The facilities at Lakeside Stadium are first-class, South Melbourne are basically an A-League club stuck in the State League.”
Over the years Victoria has become a popular destination for local players and Saldaris has a good idea why that may be. “There are a lot more opportunities over here, if you have a good season in the VPL who knows where you could end up,” said Saldaris. “Players like Andrija Jukic, Phil Arnold and Anthony Skorich (who are all at Bentleigh Greens) have tasted a high level of football and coming to Victoria for a season could help their careers along.”
THE LOWE DOWN ON THE NTC
National Training Centre coordinator Kenny Lowe says his players are excited looking forward to the season ahead. Lowe, coach of the development squad for the past five seasons, has handed over the reins this year to Gareth Naven and John Gibson who’ll be in charge for the first time when the NTC face Bayswater City on Saturday. “All involved in the NTC are looking forward to another exciting year,” commented Lowe. “Hopefully we can give a good account of ourselves and try to gain some more respect for the way we all go about our business.”
Match day results largely went again the NTC last season and Lowe recognises that, in all likelihood, will be the case again in 2012. “Results-based outcomes will be very tough,” said Lowe, who added there is a lot more to player development that winning games. “But if we achieve similar development results as last year – we had five boys at the AIS, five boys in national under-17 team, one boy breaking through to professional ranks and 15 boys playing for the Perth Glory Youth team – we will be okay.”
The NTC squad for the coming season is brimful of the best talent on offer in Western Australia. “As usual we have a very young squad, with a great deal of potential,” Lowe said. “We have a number of Perth Glory Youth players returning – Sam Mitchinson, Blamo Qua Qua, Slobodan Vulin, Harry O’Brien, Byron Hudson, Storm Roux, Sahr Musa and Sebit Oyet – while Riley Woodcock has come in from the AIS All those boys have previous experience in the NTC first team, so hopefully they have benefited from the experience.”
Lowe says the recent promotion of former NTC player Brandon O’Neill to Perth Glory’s senior list is a big tick of approval for the program. “Brandon’s move to the Glory senior side is great news for all concerned, it shows opportunities exist if you perform well,” commented Lowe, who is just as pleased that several other NTC players from last year have found themselves greener pastures. “Scott Galloway, Jeremy Tshongo and Matthew Ntoumenopoulos are at the AIS, while Leo Athanasiou has joined Melbourne Victory Youth after moving with his family to the eastern states.”
A trip to Bayswater City provides the NTC their first challenge of the year. “It will be a tough game,” conceded Lowe. “Bayswater are an excellent team, very well-organised, and the best footballing team in League. They have numerous match winners, Gustavo Marulanda is technically exciting while the new boys from the UK (Paul McCarthy and Joe Yoffe) have very good pedigree. Add to that the new local signings to an already talented squad and you can see why people think they can really challenge Perth and Balcatta this season.”
STILLITANO SPREADS HIS WINGS
Midfielder Adam Stillitano is looking forward to helping Swan United scale the heights of Division One this year. 22-year old Stillitano, signed over the summer from Balcatta, has settled in nicely and is enjoying his his first pre-season with the black and whites. “Pre-season has been great,” he said. “John (O’Reilly) has been working hard to integrate the new boys into the squad and this has come to fruition over the past few games with a number of impressive results and I’m beginning to gain a better understanding of my role in the team.”
Swan narrowly missed out on promotion last season, finishing runners-up to Bunbury Forum Force, but Stillitano is hopeful of taking the club one rung higher in 2012. “With Swan coming second last year and much of the squad being retained, the team is very strong,” said the midfielder. “We definitely have the quality to push for the title this season. What most impresses me is the spirit of the squad which is very similar to what was evident at Balcatta the year we won promotion. If we can continue the performances from pre-season into the season proper I think we will be up there at the end of the year.”
Having come up through the ranks at Balcatta Stillitano admits parting ways with the club was a big move. “It came down to my desire to play a more advanced role but there are certainly no hard feelings (towards Balcatta),” he said. “I had been at the club for 8 or 9 years and I gained a lot of experience there playing under different coaches such as Michael Roki, Salv Todaro, Mauro Marchione and Basil Lenzo. I was grateful for the opportunity they gave me to play first team football, particularly Basil who played me at a very young age, but I thought it was time to try something new.”
KERR BOUNCING BACK
Perth Glory Women attacker Sam Kerr says she’ll come back an even better player after sitting out the past seven months through injury. Kerr, who suffered an ACL injury while training with the Matildas last August in China, has learnt a lot about herself in working almost every day on her rehabilitation with development coach John Gibson. “It’s probably the hardest six months I’ve ever had to go through in my whole entire life,” Kerr told au.fourfourtwo.com. “I’ve learnt I’m very impatient but also realised how much football means to me … I’ve matured a lot (and) I’ll come back a lot smarter."
MANAGER FEARS THE WORST FOR WILLIAMS
Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray has conceded he may be without injured utility Rhys Williams for the remainder of the season. Williams damaged ankle ligaments in the recent home loss to Leeds United and Mowbray fears the worst as Middlesbrough tussle with five other teams for three Championship play-off spots. “Rhys has damaged ligaments in his ankle and that’s never a week or so, it’s always a few weeks,” he said. “Let’s hope we can see him again this season. The physios are hopeful that he could still have a part to play. We’ll assess it as the weeks roll on. He’ll have two or three weeks in a cast and then we’ll assess it once he gets that off and starts running and see how bad it is.”
SAGE WANTS TO DUMP YOUTH, WOMENS TEAMS
Perth Glory owner Tony Sage has put himself on a collision course with Football Federation Australia after declaring his intention to breach a condition of his A-League licence. Sage’s decision not to fund either a National Youth League or women’s team next season could prompt the federation to take back the licence he’s held since 2007. “I’m not going to give my licence away. The only way they are going to get it off me is if they take it off me,” said Sage. “This is the first time I’m actually breaching a condition of my licence by not fielding a women’s team and a youth team.”
FFA are yet to receive formal notification of Sage’s intention to dump the women's and youth teams. “In any case, the Hyundai A-League participation agreements don’t make it optional for clubs to field these teams, which are vital pathways for elite youth and women players in WA,” an unnamed FFA spokesman told Jonathan Cook of the ‘West Australian’ newspaper. “If the Glory have concerns, we’ll discuss these matters in our regular talks with the club.” FFA also denied any knowledge Nick Tana, Glory’s founding co-owner, may be parachuted in to take over ownership of the club.
Glory, who have qualified for their first home final in what has been their best A-League campaign, will embark on cost-cutting measures next season and have started slashing their wage bill. Sage is adamant he will no longer spend around $450,000 a season on funding the youth team and $100,000 on the women’s team. The mining entrepreneur said he understood the value of youth development but felt the cost of running the team was excessive. “It’s detrimental to me if I don’t have youth coming through,” he said. “But I’d do it a lot smarter. I wouldn’t spend my dough transporting players across the country.”
RIGHTING A WRONG (by Ashley Morrison, Not the Footy Show")
Congratulations to the powers that be at Football West for presenting Western Knights striker Johnny Mirco with a Gold Medal. Mirco finished level on points with Steve Burton in polling last year but lost out to the Balcatta attacker as he had collected more best on grounds across the season. Many in the game believed Mirco deserved to receive a medal, if not a car, while a strong proportion felt the count-back to be flawed, as by polling more votes in more games suggested was the more consistent player. Credit to Football West who made sure Mirco’s efforts were recognised in front of his peers at the launch of the 2012 State League season on the weekend.
GLORY CAN NOT PLAY LIKE THAT AGAIN: FERGUSON
Perth Glory’s finals campaign will be short if yesterday’s performance against Gold Coast United is anything to go. That was coach Ian Ferguson’s frank assessment after Glory slumped to an embarrassing 3-0 loss to the A-League cellar-dwellers. “We can’t play like that in the finals. We can’t even play like that next week or we’ll get our backsides kicked,” the Scotsman said. “We’ve got to be a lot more mentally tough and show a bit of bottle. That’s what it’s going to come down to in the next game or so.”
With Jacob Burns and Liam Miller absent through injury, Glory were out-played in midfield while at the business end of the park it was poor finishing, not the heroics of goalkeeper Jerrad Tyson, that let the visitors down. “We hit them straight at them. He’s obviously in the right place at the right time and that’s the beauty of it for a goalkeeper,” Ferguson commented. “They get the credit for making these saves but I felt as though either side, a yard or so we might have gotten the lucky break … We go home disappointed. It’s a bad day at the office. We have to regroup.”
Ferguson was particularly aggrieved by referee Kris Griffiths-Jones’ decision to send off Dean Heffernan after what seemed to be a fairly innocuous aerial contest with Daniel Bowles. “The sending off, from what I’ve seen – and I’ve not seen it from the cameras yet – but what I saw with my eyes ... I don’t even think the player actually challenged it, I don’t think he even said anything,” Ferguson said. “The next minute there was a red card brought out. I won’t know until I see it but I thought it was one of the softest sending offs I’ve ever seen.”
RISDON COMES THROUGH WITH FLYING COLOURS
He may be a long way from fulfilling a lifelong dream of playing in Europe but Perth Glory defender Josh Risdon is still delighted with how far he has come in the past six months. Risdon, 19, has surpassed even his own expectations this summer by making the right-back spot his and earning an Olyroos call-up. “I didn’t think I was going to play the amount of games I have been playing,” said Risdon, who came into the side when Scott Neville suffered a serious knee injury. “I knew I had to step up to fill in that spot for my sake and the team’s sake. I think I’ve done pretty well (and) each game is making me better."
Neville’s injury was felt hard early as it coincided with the start of Glory’s mid-season slump, which saw them win just one of 11 games and drop out of the top six. But since then Glory have won eight of their last 12 games to jump into third spot and Risdon has been a huge part in that success. The teenager has started 18 games this season but admits it was tough early before he found his own standards lift as the team’s performances improved after Christmas. “It’s a good team environment now so it’s easy to play well when the players around me are doing so well,” he said.
That experience will prove particularly crucial if Risdon is to fulfil his aim of making it as a professional footballer in the English Premier League. “That’s a long way away for me at the moment though. I would like to establish myself as a player in the A-League first before I move anywhere else,” said Risdon, whose career started in Bunbury. “It’s the biggest league in the world and it attracts the best players and to play over there has always been a dream of mine. It’d be great if that could come true. I think I’ve got to work on my speed, that’s the main thing … speed and fitness and also my knowledge of football.”
Risdon is content at Glory for the time being and will draw on last week’s Olyroos call-up against Iraq to keep Neville out of the side now he has recovered from injury. “I was a bit disappointed I didn’t get selected in the previous Olyroos trips but I’m in there now and hopefully I can do well,” he said. “I thought I’d been playing well and good enough to get picked, but the coach must have thought something different. To learn from other coaches and other players, the best players my age around Australia and the world, is going to be great.”
THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, THE PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW
The 2012 Premier Division League season looks like being one of the closest in many years. Perth SC and Balcatta have their sights set on top honours but Western Knights, Bayswater City, Stirling Lions, Sorrento and newly promoted Bunbury Forum Force will be doing all they can to prevent either side getting their hands on the trophy. The battle at the other end of the table will be just as hard-fought with Armadale and ECU Joondalup amongst the early relegation candidates.
The Top Five finals series, which kicks in upon conclusion of home and away fixtures, will determine just who is crowned State Champions at the start of October. This week footballwa.net takes a close look at the twelve clubs – in alphabetic order – making an assessment of each teams strengths and weakness, and summarising all the off-season player movements. The footballwa.net team are then joined by Tommy Doleman (World Football Programme) in offering their thoughts on how season 2012 will pan out...
GLORY HUMBLED ON GOLD COAST
A-League strugglers Gold Coast United gave their fans something to cheer about with a 3-0 victory over Perth Glory at Skilled Park this evening. Zachary Anderson put the home side ahead early before Glory went down to ten men with the controversial dismissal of Dean Heffernan ten minutes from the break. Shane Smeltz went close to equalising on several occasions before James Brown struck a late double to snap Gold Coast’s 13-game winless run. Despite the loss, Glory stay in third position and assured of a home final.
The small crowd of around 2,000 was celebrating as early as the 6th minute when a Jake Barker-Daish’s curling free-kick was expertly guided into the net by Anderson, giving goalkeeper Danny Vukovic with little chance of saving. Glory looked flat across the opening stanza and with 35 minutes gone Heffernan was shown a straight red card by referee Kris Griffiths-Jones for an elbow on Daniel Bowles. Going down a man had a galvanising effect on the visitors and leading into the break Travis Dodd forced a low save from Jerrad Tyson, who soon after tipped a powerful Shane Smeltz drive around the post.
Glory were again on the front foot after the restart, Smeltz’s header calling Tyson into action before Billy Mehmet volleyed straight at the ‘keeper. Mehmet went close again with a stunning free-kick which Tyson desperately kept out of his net with less than a quarter of an hour to play. Hope of a Glory comeback were extinguished in the 83rd minute when Josh Brillante’s mis-kick fell into the path of Brown to side-foot into the bottom corner. Gold Coast were not finished and three minutes into stoppage time Brown curled a free-kick into the bottom corner to complete the scoring.
PERTH HAVE NEIDERBERGER TO THANK FOR SHIELD VICTORY
Daniel Neiderberger struck twice in three minutes to guide Perth SC to a 2-1 win over Sorrento in the 2012 State League Charity Shield at Dorrien Gardens. Jason Mirco put the Gulls ahead on the hour but within minutes Neiderberger had swung the game with his match-winning double to secure Perth their second Charity Shield in as many years. “The boys did alright,” said Perth coach Gianfranco Circati, who felt his side’s performance was below par. “At the end we did a good job and we took another trophy. We have players that if you give them a half chance they will score."
The opening 45 minutes was controlled for the most part by Sorrento, who really should have gone into the break at a goal the better. Darcy Cosgrove found himself in a good position only to chip a bouncing ball over the crossbar, while attempts coming out of midfield by James Morgan and Mirco drifted wide of the target. That’s not to say Perth weren’t without their chances, Robert Sciascia’s fierce strike was parried by goalkeeper Curtis Aspden and Craig Simpson’s effort from distance finished just the wrong side of the post.
Both sets of players emerged from the break hell bent on sending their team into the lead. The breakthrough arrived in the 60th minutes when Mirco opened the Gulls account by lashing past Alex Dunn on the turn after a corner went to feet. However, celebrations lasted less than a minute before Matt Izzo ran the ball forward and squared for Niederberger to coolly place beyond Aspden. Neiderberger struck for a second time in the 64th minute, the striker’s shot curling inside the far post after Sorrento failed to sufficiently deal with a corner.
The game now sprang to life with Sorrento working tirelessly to get back on level terms as Perth sought to kill off the game with a third goal. Gulls defender Darryl Platten had a couple of close-range attempts blocked in quick succession, Mirco and substitute Reece Vittiglia each placed high of the bar while Michael Aspin went even closer for the Gulls by rattling the frame of the goal. Down the other end Sciascia and Izzo got on the end of some good moves but neither was able to convert, and close to the end David Onoforo almost snuck a goal off the bench.
Perth SC: Alex Dunn, Trent Kay, Craig Simpson, Daniel Coletta, Matt Danskin, Robert Sciascia, Daniel Niederberger (David Onoforo 89), Matt Izzo (Stefan Drca 83), James Isaia, Chris Saldaris (Henrik Dahal 77), Joshua Wilkins
Sorrento: Curtis Aspden, Danny Cain, Michael Aspin, Shaun Timmins, Darryl Platten, James Morgan, Brodie Martin (Adam Luca 86), Todd Harnwell, Jason Mirco, Steven McDonald (Jamie Harnwell 79), Darcy Cosgrove (Reece Vittiglia 60)
Bookings: T.Harnwell (45), Morgan (62), Simpson (86), Coletta (94)
Referee: Mathew Cheeseman
RUGEL DOUBLE HIGHLIGHTS A SPIRITED PERFORMANCE (with Sophie Hawkins, Football West)
Southern Spirit came from behind to see off Joondalup United 3-1 in this afternoon’s Sunday League Charity Shield at Dorrien Gardens. Joondalup were first on the board through Tony Taylor but Greg Montenegro soon brought the sides level with Felim Rugel scored twice late to secure the trophy. “It’s always good to have another win with the boys, without them I wouldn’t be scoring goals so it’s a great feeling,” commented Rugel. “I’m looking forward to the season, we’ve got a great team and I’m looking forward to playing with them.”
Joondalup opened the scoring in the 29th minute through a well-struck shot on the turn by Taylor that rose into the top corner. Eight minutes later Spirit returned fire with Montenegro poking ball into the net after goalkeeper Luke Kane misjudged a cross. Spirit showed the greater desire after the break but had to wait until the 75th minute for Rugel to work his way inside the 18-yard box and blast into the top corner. Seven minutes later Rugel pounced on a poor clearance and stroked beyond Kane for a second time.
Joondalup United: Luke Kane, Adam Rogers, Steve Mills, Neil Middler, Dave MacFarlane, Gary Davies (Ben Davies-Smith 75), Tony Taylor, Gary Andrews, Dan Merri, Karol Fazakos (Jimmy Green 31), Ricky Gardener (Mike Banks 71)
Southern Spirit: Glen Sheldon, Matt Favazzo, Greg Montenegro, Alen Karaselimovic, Julian Bordoni, Aaron Bahadori, Felim Rugel, Brad North (Rob Celesti 54), John Morton, Dulio Xavier, Luis De Oliveira
Bookings: Mills (89)
Referee: Jeremy Oliphant
MELBOURNE DEBUT 17-YEAR OLD DAVIES
Promising youngster Julius Davies made his national league debut in Melbourne Victory’s 3-0 home win over Wellington Phoenix last night. Davies, 17, recently signed a National Youth League contract with Melbourne and, wearing the number 29 shirt, came off the bench with ten minutes left to replace Socceroos attacker Harry Kewell. A refugee from Sierra Leone, Davies played locally with Dianella White Eagles and the National Training Centre before heading to Germany where he played for Bayern Munch and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim. He has spent the best part of three months attaining the required clearances to play in Australia.
MILLER MAY MISS A-LEAGUE FINALS
Star midfielder Liam Miller may not be ready for the A-League finals according to Perth Glory coach Ian Ferguson. Miller has been sidelined since picking up a hamstring injury against Newcastle Jets a month ago with all attempts at returning to full training since being unsuccessful. Ferguson is optimistic Miller will be available for the finals but that is by no means a certainty. “Things are looking positive that he may be there but I can’t say he’s definitely going to be there,” the coach said. “Hopefully, touch wood, everything is pointing towards that it probably could be the finals.”
Miller’s absence has left third-placed Glory short on central midfield options, with Jacob Burns out with bruised ribs and Adam Hughes having left the club. “We’re obviously a little bit short in midfield at the moment so we’ll drop Steve McGarry back and drop Billy (Mehmet) into the hole and put Smeltzy (Shane Smeltz) up front,” Ferguson said ahead of tomorrow’s game with Gold Coast United. McGarry is likely to line-up alongside Steve Pantelidis, while defender Scott Neville makes his first appearance in the squad since suffering a serious knee injury in late October.
CHARITY SHIELD DOUBLE
Football West’s annual State League Charity Shield will be boosted with the return of the Sunday League Charity Shield to make it a double-header event at Dorrien Gardens on Saturday. The main game brings together Perth SC and Sorrento (7.00pm) for the first time since the Blues completed a hat-trick of State Championships with last October’s 7-0 Grand Final demolition of the Gulls.
Perth collected last year’s Charity Shield be seeing off Stirling Lions and with players of the calibre and experience of David Onforo, Antonio Naglieri, Matt Danskin and Shaun Kilkelly on board they’re tipped to go back-to-back. The emergence of youngsters Josh Wilkins, Daniel Coletta, Joshua Periera and Matt Izzo last year bodes well for the club on the eve of the new season.
Sorrento coach Paul Price has assembled an impressive squad for 2012. Goalkeeper of the Year Curtis Aspden will be vital to the cause this weekend behind defensive pillars Jamie Harnwell and Steven McDonald. Patrolling the middle of the park are Brodie Martin, Glen Thomas and Adam Luca with captain Todd Harnwell and Dejan Gurovski providing avenues to goal.
The curtain raiser pits Sunday Premier League winners Southern Spirit against Sunday League Cup holders Joondalup United (4.00pm). The Spirit line-up boasts a wealth of experience with Gary Faria, Robbie Puca and Felim Rugel all capable to deciding the outcome. Joondalup coach Danny Smith will be looking for big efforts from Gary Andrews, Gareth Davies and Ben Davies-Smith to get them over the line. Entry to the Charity Shield is by gold coin donation with all proceeds being donated to Telethon.
MAKECHE GRADUATES TO SENIOR GLORY SQUAD
Perth Glory Youth striker Ndumba Makeche has been named in the squad for Sunday’s game at Gold Coast United. 20-year old Makeche, who rose to prominence last winter at Inglewood United, is the second youth team player promoted to the senior list in the last week, joining midfielder Brandon O’Neill. “Ndumba is a player who can play a few positions for us,” Perth Glory coach Ian Ferguson said. “I think his natural position is through the middle … He’s strong, he’s got good pace and he’s got good feet. Ndumba is young player who has come in and trained with us over the last two or three weeks and done very well.”
O’Neill, 17, has also retained his spot in the squad after being named on the bench against Central Coast Mariners last weekend. “Young Brandon also came in and did very well at training,” Ferguson added. “He doesn’t look out of place and he’s another player who is technically very good. Brandon also has good feet, a good range of passing and links up well, so he’s another young West Australian we are delighted to have at Perth Glory.” Ferguson will finalise his squad at training tomorrow morning before the team departs for the Gold Coast on Saturday.
SIMMONS EXIT CONFIRMED
ECU Joondalup have confirmed the departure of coach Paul Simmons after only three games. Simmons, the only coach to guide Joondalup to silverware, was formally told of the clubs’ decision to relieve him of duty following a meeting of the committee last night. “It is with regret that the coaching committee has instructed Paul Simmons to stand down as the first team coach,” read an uncredited statement issued by the club this morning. “The decision was made with the best interests of the future of the club. A statement will be made in the next few days as to the future coaching staff.” A request for further comment from the club was not responded to.
O’NEILL ENOYS FIRST TASTE OF A-LEAGUE
Brandon O’Neill was given an early birthday present when included in Perth Glory’s player squad for last weekend’s home clash with A-League leaders Central Coast Mariners. The defensive midfielder turns 18 next month and although he didn’t make it onto the park was understandably chuffed to watch the game from the sidelines. “It was a great experience, I didn’t think this time would come, being this young,” commented O’Neill. “It was quite good to be up close and personal with the game. (Fitness coach) Warren (Andrews) kept telling me to go and warm-up so I thought I was going to come on.”
O’Neill, who has been a standout in the middle of the park for the Glory Youth side over the past two seasons, had no idea what was happening when senior coach Ian Ferguson called him into the office last Friday. “I had no clue I was in the squad so Ian brought me in and said, ‘Brandon you’re in the squad for this week’ and I couldn’t believe it,” said O’Neill, who has displayed a maturity beyond his years since accepting an invitation to train with the senior squad.
A former ECU Joondalup junior, O’Neill has grown up supporting Glory and says training with the likes of Liam Miller and Jacob Burns has shown him what is required to play the game professionally. “It’s a great experience to learn how to develop into a player through them because they have been there and done that,” said O’Neill, his background also includes a spell with the National Training Centre. “To hear the knowledge that they have and to pass that down to me is a great experience, I’m humbled.”
SCORELESS DRAW SUMS UP OLYROOS CAMPAIGN
Australia’s failed campaign to reach this year’s Olympic Games has ended with a 0-0 draw against Iraq at Bluetongue Stadium. The Olyroos managed to go the entire qualifying stage without scoring a single goal – and rarely looked like breaking that record tonight. “Our goalkeeper, back four and central midfielders were very strong,” coach Aurelio Vidmar said. “I thought Chris Harold did a good job under very tough circumstances. For the first time up for most of these boys I thought they did very well.” The result means Australia finish bottom of Group B with four points from their six matches.
With six new faces in the starting side there was a sense of urgency in Australia’s attack. Their best chance came when Kofi Danning broke through but his cut back was behind onrushing striker Harold. Goalkeeper Mark Birighitti ensured the teams entered the break level with an important late save. Ammar Abdulhussein Ahmed dragged wide midway through the second half while Harold had two late chances to steal victory, placing the first wide after being released before his stoppage time header was deflected out for a corner. West Australian pair Birighitti and Harold played full games.
MCGARRY WANTS TO STAY AT GLORY
Midfielder Steven McGarry wants to see out his playing days wearing Perth Glory colours. Former Motherwell player McGarry is enthusiastic about sticking with Glory beyond the current campaign, and does not anticipate his next deal will be his last in the game. “I’m 32 and I definitely think I’ve got three or four years in me,” McGarry told Jonathon Cook of the ‘West Australian’ newspaper. “I’d love to stay here, the family love it (in Perth). We’ve got a good team on the park and I’d love to finish my career here.”
McGarry has been a vital contributor in Glory turning their season around. A positive start gave way to a wretched patch in which they won once in eleven games before a barnstorming run was rewarded with a place in the finals. But plan to slash spending at Glory next season has slowed recruitment, leaving McGarry and several others coming out of contract in limbo. “You don’t know what’s around the corner,” he said. “In the short term, I just want to finish this season as high as possible and get in amongst the big games in the finals.”
JOONDALUP TO SHOW SIMMONS THE DOOR
Paul Simmons expects to be dumped as coach of ECU Joondalup less than a fortnight out from the start of the new Premier League season. Simmons, who has overseen every trophy the northern suburbs club have ever captured, was told on Tuesday that the club would be moving to replace him as coach. “I was advised that, to save myself any embarrassment, it would be best if I resigned,” Simmons explained. “I said ‘No – if the club don’t want me then sack me’. I addressed the players last night and told them what was going on and then left.”
Simmons joined Joondalup for his third stint as coach only five months ago. Although unaware of it until yesterday, his departure was on the card pretty much from day one. “Apparently some of the committee members had been against me from the beginning,” he commented. “Prior to taking the job I was told there is a strict budget and the club was not going to be paying ‘silly money’ – the only goal was to avoid relegation. We had a very good coaching team assembled, Chris Nicholson was my assistant with Mark Cox and Stuart Moses taking the under-21’s but a few weeks ago the committee advised they didn’t want Mark and Stuart coaching at the club, no reason was given why.”
Although Joondalup exited the Night Series at the group stage, Simmons was happy with how his new-look side was coming together. “The pre-season went well in regards to training and matches. We beat Floreat Athena last Thursday with what was probably our starting eleven for the season, and on Saturday a very experimental side lost to Cockburn City,” explained Simmons. “We have had to bring in basically a new team, there are eight or nine players new to the club. With that number of changes it does take time to get the right balance, the right formation and then get them to gel.”
Simmons may not be part of Joondalup’s plans but he still expects the northern suburbs outfit to achieve. “Joondalup will do very well this season if they can hang on to the lads they have,” he said. “We brought in some good players and when you combine them with the likes of Jon Higgins, Scott Blackmore and Scott Bushby plus youngsters coming through then you have a very competitive side. I do wish the club all the very best in what is their 20th anniversary, it would have been unbelievable to of been part of it but I’m gutted it’s not turned out that way.”
NEW CONTRACT LOOKS A MERE FORMALITY FOR FERGUSON
Perth Glory owner Tony Sage has given the strongest indication yet that coach Ian Ferguson will be rewarded with a contract extension. Sage is adamant he will wait until the end of the home and away series before opening discussions with Ferguson but said yesterday the coach had already met an important pre- season target. Glory moved into third spot with a 1-0 win over leaders Central Coast Mariners on Sunday to secure their place in the finals for only the second time since the A-League was formed in 2005.
Glory can go one step further and clinch a historic first home final by taking home all three points from this weekend’s trip to Gold Coast United. “At the end of the season, which is only two weeks away, I’ll sit down and say ‘this is where I am, where are you’ and hopefully we can come to some sort of mutual agreement,” Sage said of Ferguson. “He’s achieved our set goal at the beginning of the year, which was finals. The next two weeks will really put cream on top of that and therefore make the decision easier.”
Sage seems set to get his wish of hosting a home final for the first time, which he says will be just reward for the club's long-suffering fans. The Glory chairman has been critical of poor attendances in the past but praised the passionate core support for continuing to turn up throughout the club’s difficult periods. “The season is not finished yet and we’ve not done our job,” commented Sage. “I want our 7000 or 8000 diehard fans to be able to cheer us on in a home final.”
FINALISTS FAIL THE GAME (by Ashley Morrison, Not the Footy Show)
It is a common fact in sport that finals rarely live up to expectations. The reason in the main being that both teams enter the game doing all that they can to make sure that they do not lose. The recently completed Night Series produced some super football and some surprise results, and although the tournament was an overall success the final was a massive anti-climax. The games governing body cops a fair amount of criticism from the clubs, sometimes warranted, sometimes a little unfair, however, maybe the clubs need to also have a look at themselves as well.
A great crowd was in attendance for Saturday’s final, a perfect opportunity to showcase the game to potential sponsors. Yet the football served up by Perth SC and Bayswater City in the first 45 minutes was nothing short of disgraceful, with both teams guilty of flagrant diving and play acting. The refusal of three Perth players to walk away following the sending off of Shaun Kilkelly as the referee tried to discuss something with his assistant was equally distasteful. There was even a suggestion from some in the stands that the prize money be withheld and both teams charged with bringing the game into disrepute!
Everyone understands that both finalists want to win, but there is also a responsibility when you play in a showcase game to ensure that you promote the best side of the game. You may not be able to play the best football, the other teams’ tactics may negate that, but nobody wants to witness two teams doing their utmost to get opponents sent off, least of all potential sponsors. Something worth remembering when your club takes the field, more sponsors mean more prize money and the opportunity to promote the game to wider audience.
WILLIAMS BACK ON THE SIDELINES
Rhys Williams has returned to action for Middlesbrough only to exit the weekend loss to Leeds United early through injury. The midfielder missed his teams’ mid-week win over Barnsley due to suspension but came straight back into the first eleven against Leeds, who opened up a two-goal lead through Robert Snodgrass and Luciano Becchio. A bullet-like header by Williams flashed just wide before he was substituted out with an ankle problem resulting from a clash with Becchio.
GLORY SECURE FINALS FOOTBALL
Perth Glory turned the heat up on the A-League regular season title race by downing top of the table Central Coast Mariners 1-0 on a sweltering afternoon at Perth Oval. A dreadful error by visiting goalkeeper Mat Ryan midway through the first half gifted Travis Dodd the only goal of a game to move Glory into third position, guaranteeing their spot in the A-League finals series. Some of the gloss was taken off the win by an injury to Glory captain Jacob Burns, who exited the game early in the second period with a suspected cracked rib.
With the mercury hovering around 36 degrees at kick-off it was hardly surprising both teams eased themselves into the game. The breakthrough arrived on 25 minutes when Todd Howarth pumped a high ball into the 18-yard which slipped through the gloves of Ryan, who had the sun in eyes, allowing Dodd to lash into the roof of the net from 3-metres. After getting their noses in front Glory were rarely troubled for the remainder of the half. Ryan was again called into action just before the break to keep out a well-struck low shot from Dodd.
Glory were forced to make a change nine minutes in the second half with Burns stretchered off following a collision with Josh Rose. Substitute Andrezinho drew a trio of quick-fire saves from Ryan as the home side upped the pace in search of a second goal. Having barely fired a shot in the first 75minutes, Central Coast exploded into life over the closing stages. A goal line clearance by Josh Risdon denied Daniel McBreen an equaliser with some desperate defending by Steve Pantelidis ensuring a series of corners went unrewarded. It was backs-to-the-wall stuff for Glory but after six minutes of stoppage time the final whistle confirmed the result they were after.
TEN-MAN PERTH FEND OFF RESILIENT BAYSWATER
Perth SC have lifted the Night Series trophy for a record 20th time by claiming a 1-0 victory over Bayswater City from a fiercely contested final at Dorrien Gardens. Winger Robert Sciascia scored just minutes from the final whistle to seal victory for the Blues, who played the entire second half a man down due to the red carding of defender Shaun Kilkelly. “It was hard out there tonight especially with ten men. I was cramping up late in the game but our experience in Finals showed through again, which is pleasing,” said match-winner Sciascia.
Bayswater custodian Tom Dixon earned the applause of the crowd early by tipping over a Trent Kay cross-shot and scoping up a long-range strike by James Isaia in the opening minutes. Play was at the opposite end on 10 minutes when Cisco Jorquera was allowed far too much space but his shot from 16-metres was high. Gustavo Giron-Marulanda went closer twelve minutes later with a free-kick from 19-metres which smacked into the crossbar. Perth quickly returned fire, Sciascia’s header from a Josh Wilkins cross was deflected wide and from the resulting corner Kilkelly’s nod kissed the bar.
Referee Michal Jasinski found himself in the thick of the action, issuing a rash of bookings in an attempt to temper some over the top challenges. As half-time drew near Marulanda thumped a dead ball towards the bottom corner to elicit a good response from Alex Dunn. A smart turn by David Onoforo inside the 18-yard box saw him shoot past Dixon only to have Ross Cosgrove clear off the line. Perth were dealt a savage blow in stoppage time when Kilkelly was issued his marching orders following an off the ball altercation with Marulanda.
The ten men of Perth had no intention of backing down after the turnaround, Antonio Naglieri’s free-kick was blocked by Dixon and Onoforo’s follow-up was halted by John Kearney. A couple of minutes later Marulanda was through on goal after a tidy one-two with Gustavo Catarcione but his attempted lob drifted high. Bayswater, urged on by their vocal supporters, grew slowly in stature to fashion a string of shots on goal. Patrick Quinn released Catarcione but his 16-metre effort was agonisingly wide, Jorquera’s effort from closer in was straight at Dunn who, soon after, kept out another Marulanda strike.
The tempo increased as the game entered the final ten minutes but attacks in both directions were brought to an abrupt end by some composed defending. It looked as though the years’ first trophy would be decided by a penalty shoot-out when Perth struck the decisive blow. A superb through ball by Naglieri in the 86th minute sent Sciascia down the left, the winger holding off Kearney as he worked inside the area before firing past Dixon from 6-metres. Bayswater threw everything at their opponents in the remaining time but with the final whistle it was Perth who was celebrating another trophy.
Bayswater City: Tom Dixon, Sadmir Jukupovic (Nathan Diaz 45), Patrick Quinn, John Kearney, Ross Cosgrove, Paul McCarthy (Joe Yoffe 75), Gustavo Giron-Marulanda, Francisco Jorquera, Gustavo Catarcione, Cesar Gonzales, Tom Gooding (Mundy Toure 87)
Perth SC: Alex Dunn, Trent Kay, Craig Simpson (Matt Danskin 46), Shaun Kilkelly, Dom De Felice, David Onoforo (Daniel Niederberger 75), Andreas Oliveira, Roberto Sciascia, Antonio Naglieri, James Isaia, Josh Wilkins (Daniel Coletta 87)
Bookings: Jakupovic (5), Oliviera (23), De Felice (29), McCarthy (30), Kilkelly (39), Gonzalez (63), Diaz (65), Gooding 67), Niederberger (89)
Dismissals: Kilkelly (45)
Referee: Michal Jasinski
FRISINA GETS ASHFIELD INTO THIRD (with Tommy Doleman, Football West)
Division One side Ashfield struck early to secure a 1-0 win over Bunbury Forum Force and third spot from the Night Series’ minor place play-off on a warm afternoon at Dorrien Gardens. Ryan Frisina put away his eight goal in six pre-season outings to determine the outcome after just a dozen minutes. Bunbury threw everything into finding what would have been a deserved equaliser but the Premier League newcomers will be more than content with an appearance in the tournament’s last four.
A tentative opening by both sets of players was punctuated on 12 minutes when Frisina expertly curled a free-kick from the top corner of the 18-yard box past the defensive wall and into the corner of the net. Frisina was presented a great chance to increase his teams’ advantage shortly after but he failed to get a decisive touch on Karl Tate’s low cross. Bunbury set about finding a response with Jayden Prosser advancing out of midfield unchallenged only to lift his shot high of the target. Jordan Rispin headed over from a Kieran Quinn corner and Jamie Tandy stung the palms of goalkeeper Brad Eiffe in Bunbury’s fruitless search to equalise.
The second half opened with good chances at both ends of the park which Darryl Warren and Quinn were unable to covert. Frisina dragged wide after being picked out by Natta Narraongphant, then Lee Stewart scooped over the crossbar after being put through on goal. With 13 minutes left Ashfield substitute Karl O’Reilly should have done better than shoot straight at goalkeeper Shane Russell in a four-on-one situation, and soon after it was Tate who wasted another good opening. Bunbury had one last chance to draw level but Bright Abobobi headed narrowly wide from a Quinn corner.
Ashfield: Brad Eiffe, Matt Wardle, Steve O’Mahoney, David Gordon (Brian Maybin 55), Karl Tate, Ashley Picker (Mark Humphries 56), Ryan Frisina, Daryl Warren, Ian Griffiths, Natta Narraongphant (Karl O’Reilly 65), Okwy Diamondstar
Bunbury Forum Force: Shane Russell, Mark Osmond (Jarrod Mort 49), Michael Hughes, Jamie Tandy, Kieran Quinn, Danny Kane, Bright Abobobi, Aiden Savory, Jordan Rispin (Oliver McGee 79), Jayden Prosser (Jon Brooks 63), Lee Stewart
Referee: Mark Williams
BAYSWATER AND PERTH 90 MINUTES FROM GLORY… THE NIGHT SERIES FINAL PREVIEW
Traditional rivals Bayswater City and Perth SC lock horns for this years’ first piece of silverware when they meet in the final of the 2012 Night Series on Saturday evening at Dorrien Gardens (7.45pm). Bayswater coach Mauro Marchione is confident his players can return the trophy to Frank Drago Reserve for the first time since 1987. “We are playing the best club in WA – a club with a lot of history, trophies and experience playing these sorts of games,” he said. “However, we are a strong team and are going to Dorrien Gardens with the intention to play the game to the end and to win.”
Gustavo Marulanda was Bayswater’s semi-final hero, the silky skilled Colombian’s hat-trick decisive in seeing off Bunbury Forum Force, and his partnership with Gustavo Catarcione will once again have a big bearing on the outcome. Support from the flanks comes in the form of Patrick Quinn and Ross Cosgrove as John Kearney and Paul McCarthy patrol the middle of the park. There’s a good chance Cesar Gonzalez will come into the eleven to bring some experience to an otherwise young defence behind which stands goalkeeper Tom Dixon.
Perth are not only the most successful club in State League history but are also the undisputed Night Series champions with a staggering 19 trophy wins, including eight in the last eleven seasons. “Although we are extremely experienced in finals nothing will be taken for granted and the players will put through their usual rigorous training sessions to ensure we are fully prepared,” assistant coach Basil Lenzo commented. “Bayswater come well prepared and, knowing Mauro, he will have a few tactics up his sleeve so we will prepare accordingly.”
The central input of Antonio Naglieri and Dom De Felice has been vital to Perth’s successes in recent years and both need to be firing on Saturday night. In the attacking third David Onoforo and Andreas Oliveira will make sure there’s not a moments rest for their opponents’ defences as Robert Sciascia causes further problems with his driving runs down the right. The Blues possess one of the top flight’s most imposing defensive lines with Trent Kay and Craig Simpson standing in front of new goalkeeper Alex Dunn.
BUNBURY TIPPED TO EDGE OUT ASHFIELD
First Division side Ashfield will attempt to upset Bunbury Force Force’s apple cart when the sides meet in the Night Series third/fourth place play-off game at Dorrien Gardens on Saturday night (5.15pm). Newly promoted Bunbury have made a stunning start to life in the top flight, winning all three group games and downing Inglewood United in the quarter-finals. Ashfield put aside a slow start to their pre-season by toppling Balcatta to sneak into the last eight where they then toppled Floreat Athena.
Ashfield’s run was brought to an end last week by Perth SC, however, striker Ryan Frisina says his team have it in them to bounce right back. “Obviously we’re all disappointed with the result against Perth but I’m confident we can finish a very encouraging Night Series on a high,” said Frisina, who doesn’t expect a great deal to separate the teams tomorrow night. “Bunbury will also be very keen to get back into the winners circle after their loss to Bayswater so it should be a tight contest.”
Midfielder Jon Brooks found the net in Bunbury’s semi-final loss to Bayswater City and has every intention of doing so again this Saturday, albeit with a different outcome after 90 minutes. “It’s an important game for us, not only to regain confidence but possibly to try new players in different positions and get a better idea of the final squad for the season,” commented Brooks. “Ashfield have had a great run so it should be a good challenge for us. On a personal note, I want to have a good game and hopefully get on the score sheet again.”
SMELTZ BACK IN, NOT SO MILLER
Perth Glory are hopeful striker Shane Smeltz will make his long-awaited return from an ankle injury in Sunday's home fixture with top of the table Central Coast Mariners. But the news isn't so good for creative midfielder Liam Miller, whose lingering hamstring issue has ruled him out for a third successive game. Glory, who sits fourth with 37 points behind Central Coast (45), Brisbane Roar (42) and Wellington Phoenix (39), will take a giant step towards their second A-League finals appearance should they take all three points against the competition leaders.
New Zealand international Smeltz hasn't played since Glory's loss to Sydney a month ago due to an ankle issue, which was originally expected to sideline him for just one game. But coach Ian Ferguson said he was confident Smeltz would be back to lead the line against Central Coast on Sunday. "Good, very good," Ferguson said when asked the likelihood of Smeltz being fit to face Central Coast. "He trained early in the week and had a day off yesterday and he'll join full training (today)."
Ferguson was reluctant to put a timeline on Miller's return though, as his hamstring problem has also lingered for much longer than first anticipated. "We keep saying he's going to be ready for next week and then, all of a sudden, something happens again that sets him back a little bit," he said. "Every time he does something or picks the pace up he feels twinges. Rather than try to go through that we've stopped him ... we've got to make sure that we give him the right time (to fully recover)."
SUNBOWTEC CUP ROUND THREE PREVIEW
Three of the four semi-final places may be sewn up but there’s still plenty to play for in the final round of Sunbowtec Cup group fixtures this weekend at Wotton Reserve. The action opens on Saturday afternoon when Forrestfield United must win big against Kingsway Olympic (5.00pm) if they’re to sneak into the last four. The late game brings together Morley Windmills and Gosnells City (7.00pm) and although both are through to the knockout phase the winner will also claim stop spot in Group A.
Sunday’s opening game is the Group B blockbuster between Ashfield and Mandurah City (4.00pm). A point will be enough to secure Ashfield’s safe passage into the semi-finals but that’s not going to be an easy task against a free-scoring Mandurah outfit gunning for their third win in a row. The round closes out with Dianella White Eagles squaring off with Melville City (6.00pm), both sides yet to register a point and sitting jointly at the bottom of their group with identical records.
GOALS ARRIVE AT THE RIGHT TIME FOR MARULANDA
Columbian striker Gustavo Marulanda is looking forward to leading Bayswater City to their first major trophy in 25 years. Marulanda netted a trio of match-deciding goals in last weekend’s Night Series semi-final defeat of Bunbury Forum Force and he’s hoping to carry that form over into Saturday’s tournament finale against traditional rivals Perth SC. “I’m really happy with my first hat-trick of the year,” he said. “I have missed a few games at the beginning but it’s really good when you come back with goals. It also makes me feel really confident, and it’s great to help the team.”
Marulanda, last seasons’ Golden Boot winner, attributes his good pre-season form to those around him, in particular Gustavo Catarcione. “It’s great to have such a talented attacking partner like Gustavo. When you play with a good player next to you it makes it easier to play,” commented Marulanda, who also tipped his hat to the supply coming out of the centre of the park. “I believe our midfield is one of the best of the league. Having players with the experience of John Kearney and Paul McCarthy makes the game flow and we know we can rely on them for good service.”
Bayswater coach Mauro Marchione considers Marulanda a player capable of producing the goods at A-League level. “Gustavo is the best player in the league,” Marchione stated. “He is still very young (25) and he could be a great addition to the Glory squad if they will decide to give him a fair go. Last season they decided to go for Billy Mehmet and Andrezinho but I believe Gustavo could have done the same, if not better. I don’t want to keep Gustavo in WA, a talent like him should play at higher level.”
In qualifying for the Night Series final Bayswater have defeated Stirling Lions, pre-season surprise packet UWA-Nedlands and Bunbury amongst others. “It’s really good to have this sort of competition before the season starts, that gives each team time to get into competition rhythm,” said Marulanda. “Perth are probably the best team in the league but we are playing good football at the moment. The big win against Bunbury has given us lots of belief in ourselves, but we know it will be a tight game and it should be a great clash.”
KELLY INSTALLED AS NEW KNIGHTS COACH
Premier League giants Western Knights have turned to Scotsman Willie Kelly to lead them into the coming season. Kelly, who was assistant coach throughout the most successful period in the Knights history, takes over following the resignation of Carl Medica and Alex Christie for family and work reasons. “Willie has the experience behind him and knows what it takes to get the best out of players in order to challenge for trophies,” commented Knights secretary Alan Pecotic. “We are a proud club and are not in the business of just making up the numbers. We believe that Willie fits the criteria to steer the club forward in the direction we see fit.”
Kelly is no stranger to the Knights having assisted head coach Ronnie Campbell between 1998 and 2008. During those eleven years the pair captured every available trophy for their club, collecting the Premier League title and State League Cup twice each along with successes in the Top Five Cup and Night Series competitions. “Willie brings with him a sense of familiarity and stability around the club,” Pecotic said. “Willie, together with Ronnie, formed one of the strongest coaching combinations ever seen in the State League, winning every trophy on offer. Willie and the club are synonymous with success and we look forward to Willie working with our club again as league coach.”
The departure of Medica and assistant Alex Christie is tinged with sadness. “Carl and Alex are legends of our club and always will be,” said Pecotic. “Both family and work commitments prevented them giving the 100% commitment required to lead a State League club this year, they recognised this and in the best interests of the club and themselves they relinquished their positions. Carl and Alex brought some good players to our club and nurtured some good young talent, which leaves our club in good stead heading into the future. They won the hearts of our supporters as both players and coaches, and it was with deep regret that the club accepted their resignations.”
Pecotic says the Knights focus this year remains on collecting silverware, despite the change of coach coming just a few weeks out from the start of the league season. “We are in the business of winning trophies,” stated Pecotic, who feels followers of the local game are in for a real treat this year. “The pre-season hype has been around Perth SC and Balcatta but you can never underestimate other clubs. Bayswater City have shown some great form and Inglewood United have the Perth Glory link and Graham Normanton at the helm. Floreat Athena and Stirling Lions are proud clubs, Sorrento will be up there and newly promoted clubs, like Bunbury Forum Force, always set an early pace.”
GARCIA WANTS GREEN AND GOLD GLORY
Richard Garcia has set his sights on a Socceroos recall after spending close to a year on the sidelines through injury. The Hull City attacker was a regular fixture of the nation team before an untimely knee ligament injury while on club duty last April dashed hopes of adding to his 14 caps. After going under the surgeon’s knife and enduring a lengthy rehabilitation 30-year old Garcia returned to action in December, however, further appearances have been scattered as player-manager Nick Barmby’s side chase a spot in the Championship play-offs.
Taking a philosophical approach, Garcia isn’t complaining and now back to full fitness he’s determined to force his way back into first team reckoning. “The comeback’s been good. I haven’t had any problems or setbacks, which is great. I’ve come off the bench a few times but chances here at Hull are limited, which of course is a bit frustrating,” he told Aidan Ormond of au.fourfourtwo.com. “It wasn’t an easy process (recovering from injury) but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I feel physically and mentally stronger now so in some ways it’s been a blessing in disguise.”
Garcia, now into his fifth season with the Tigers, has built a strong reputation after helping the club rise to Premier League status. Prior to joining Hull he made 99 appearances for Colchester United and learnt his football trade at West Ham United, where he played alongside the likes of Michael Carrick and Joe Cole. “I tend to stick around at clubs,” he said. “We got promoted in my first year (at Hull) and we had some good times in the Premier League and we’re still fighting to get back there. It’s good being well respected at the club and being part of such a club.”
Garcia has made it his goal to wear the green and gold shirt of Australia once again. “I want to be involved in these World Cup qualifiers and the lead up to the World Cup, hopefully. I’m still a young guy and I’m very ambitious to play a lot more for my country,” said Garcia. The attacker draws great inspiration from Mark Bresciano who, after a 20-month lay-off from international football, played the starring role in Australia’s defeat of Saudi Arabia last week. “Sometimes stepping away can be a good thing. It makes you hungry.”
RISDON CALLED UP FOR AUSTRALIA
Perth Glory defender Josh Risdon has been named in an 18-player squad for Australia’s upcoming Olympic Games qualifier against Iraq. Risdon, 19, is understandably chuffed to gain national team selection for the first time. “It’s great to be picked in the Aussie squad and I’m really excited to get over there and do my best,” Risdon said. “I was a bit disappointed I wasn’t on the previous trips but hopefully I can get some game time and prove myself.”
It’s been a breakthrough season for Risdon, who has made 17 appearances at right back for Glory in the absence of an injured Scott Neville. “The last few months have been really good. I feel I’ve been playing well and I’ve just been enjoying football. Hopefully I can keep doing well,” said Risdon, who was involved in a national team training camp last year. “My dream was always to represent my country but I didn’t think it would come this early. I’m just really honoured to get named in the squad.”
Risdon, who recently signed a new two-year Glory deal, will play against Central Coast Mariners at Perth Oval on Sunday before flying out to join his international teammates. He will return to Perth next Thursday and expects to be available to play against Gold Coast United on 18 March. “It will be an extremely busy week but I’m ready and focused,” added Risdon, who is joined in the squad by fellow West Australians Mark Birighitti (Adelaide United) and Chris Harold (Gold Coast United).
The Australia Under-23 squad to play Iraq is Mark Birighitti (Adelaide United), Kofi Danning, Nicholas Fitzgerland (Brisbane Roar), Sam Gallagher, Bernie Ibini, Tom Rogic (Central Coast Mariners), Zac Anderson, Chris Harold (Gold Coast United), Craig Goodwin, Brendan Hammill (Melbourne Heart), James Jeggo, Lawrence Thomas (Melbourne Victory), Ben Kantarovski, Jacob Pepper (Newcastle Jets), Joshua Risdon (Perth Glory), Rhyan Grant, Mitchell Mallia and Dimitrios Petratos (Sydney FC).
FREMANTLE SACKED ME BY EMAIL: TANESKI
Sacked coach Ljupco Taneski is appalled with the way Fremantle Spirit have handled his departure from the Division One club. Taneski, who was installed as Fremantle’s coach in mid-January, was advised late on Sunday via email that his services were no longer required by the club, cutting short his tenure. “I still have not received a phone call from anyone at the club,” Tanseski said. “The reasons given to me were poor results during my seven week tenure, and also that I haven’t been able to attract enough players.”
Any notion Fremantle would not be competitive under Taneski are quickly dismissed. “Considering there was only one player left at the club from last season, I thought we did quite well to boost the numbers and retain the quality in the squad,” commented Taneski, who had swelled Fremantle’s playing roster with close to two dozen newcomers. “Then after the Night Series I was advised that the club had no money to pay the players, so to keep the players we did after they were told this was an achievement in itself.”
Taneski fears what the future now holds for Fremantle. “The club is in trouble. There were only six players at training on Tuesday – we had a Night Series squad of 25. All the players my assistant, Lindsay Duddy, and I had brought to the club have left, and Lindsay has resigned as well,” he said. “I do wish Fremantle Spirit all the best but it seems clear to me that the club needs to step up its professionalism in the boardroom as communication is key, and to not receive even a single phone call is below standard.”
Taneski has wasted little time moving on from Fremantle with at least one other State League club sounding out his availability. “The club that made contact said if they are to make a change to their coaching staff then it will happen this week. I advised them that I don’t talk to clubs if they have a coach at the helm, but if they do make a change then they can approach me,” he explained. “If nothing comes up in the next three weeks I might take some time off this season and focus on applying for my AFC ‘B’ Licence.”
TRAVEL, LOSSES WILL AFFECT CENTRAL COAST: VUKOVIC
Perth Glory goalkeeper Danny Vukovic says there could be no better time to play top of the table Central Coast Mariners. Glory meets Central Coast this Sunday at Perth Oval with the A-League leaders heavy travel schedule – they face Tianjin Teda FC in China on Wednesday – playing into Glory’s hands. “They’ve got a lot of travel in front of them and hopefully they’re a little bit tired when they play us,” Vukovic said. “I’ve played Asian Champions League before and that was probably one of the toughest things, the travel. An 11-hour flight from Sydney to China and then a long flight from China to Perth does take it out of you.”
A three-game winless run has seen Central Coast’s lead over second-place cut to just three points with as many games to play. Vukovic views last week’s departure of midfielder Rostyn Griffiths, a former ECU Joondalup player, for Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande has a further erosion of Central Coast’s powerbase. “He’s going to be a massive loss for them and hopefully one that’s hard for them to cover,” said Vukovic. “He broke down a lot of opposition attacks and he’s able to spray the ball both sides of the field and start attacks for them.”
Glory can consolidate their spot at the top four and keep alive their hopes of sneaking into second spot by claiming victory over Central Coast this weekend. Vukovic believes that such a result will also send a very clear message to rival teams that Glory are not in the competition just to make up the numbers. “If we can get a result against the Mariners people will stand up and take notice,” the ‘keeper said. “We’re confident we can win the next three games and if we do that we’re putting pressure on the teams above us.”
GLORY KEEP WATCH ON HAROLD AND HIS GOLD COAST TEAM MATES
Gold Coast United teenager Chris Harold is on Perth Glory’s radar for next season. Harold, who was born in Perth but grew up in Brisbane, has played three seasons for Gold Coast where he’s made 23 first team appearances since graduating from the club’s youth side. The 19-year old striker, who has represented Australia at youth level, is one of three Gold Coast players being watched by Glory, the others being Socceroos defender Michael Thwaite and Australia Under-23 international Golgol Mebrahtu. The departure of Mile Sterjovski and Adam Hughes along with Adam Taggart’s imminent move to Newcastle Jets has created some vacancies on the Glory roster that could be filled by Gold Coast trio.
OXTOBY ON THE CUSP OF CREATING HISTORY
A unique place in football history awaits Tanya Oxtoby when she steps out as a Doncaster Rovers Belles player later this month. Oxtoby, captain of Perth Glory Women captain for the past four seasons, linked up with Doncaster last and is poised to become the first Indigenous Australian to play professionally in England. “It’s definitely something that I’m very honoured to have achieved, and something I will look back on when I finish my career with great pride,” commented Oxtoby when asked about her impending achievement.
Oxtoby hopes her experiences in England will inspire other Indigenous Australians to chase their football dreams. “It’s something that I will draw on when working as a positive role model with the Aboriginal kids when I return home, that dreams can come true if you work hard enough,” added Oxtoby, whose role with Football West includes the development of Indigenous Football. “I have a very diverse family background, my mother is Aboriginal and my father is English (and) this will be the first time I will get to experience my dad’s culture and background.”
Doncaster has made a very positive impression on Oxtoby, who could not be happier with how her first few weeks at the club have gone. “Donny is a very grounded club that has a youth focus with some more experienced players also in the squad, creating a fantastic team environment,” said the 29-year old defender. “It’s possibly the best team spirit and group-focused mentality that I have experienced in football so far. Everyone here has made me feel so welcome, apart from teasing me about my accent!”
The chance to play in England came via Doncaster captain Katie Holtham, who played alongside Oxtoby at Glory Women last season. “Katie pretty much had me signed up for the club before I even knew they were interested in me,” commented Oxtoby. “Being the captain of her club and me being the captain of mine, we have similar views and football principles (and) a lot of mutual respect. It’s also nice to have a familiar face around the place when you’re trying to settle into a new team and place to call home.”
Oxtoby, who has played national league for Northern New South Wales Pride, Western Waves and Glory Women, has caught the eye of clubs from abroad previously but until now he has been reluctant to try her luck overseas. “I had been asked two times previously to play overseas but the timing was never right for me personally, so I always declined,” she said. “This time everything just fell into place, it felt like my last chance to experience competitive football outside Australia so I jumped at it.”
Doncaster’s season opens at home to Bristol Academy on 18 March and Oxtoby plans to make the most of her opportunities. “To challenge myself with a new team and new teammates, and to learn and absorb as much football-wise as I can to take back to Perth Glory,” she said when asked what most excited her most about playing in England. “I’m very lucky that I have a lot of great people around me here providing me with a number of great learning opportunities, both in a coaching and administrative capacity.”
WILLIAMS ON A PERSONAL WORLD CUP QUEST
Rhys Williams wants to help his family fulfil a World Cup dream. The Middlesbrough utility is part of a football-driven family which has seen him and his two brothers play professionally in England, following the high standards achieved by their parents. After being introduced to the sport at an early age by his father, who played for Queens Park Rangers and represented England at youth level, and his mother, who played for Western Australia, it comes as no surprise that the three brothers are all making progress.
Williams, 23, hopes he and twin 18-year old brothers Aryn and Ryan, who play for Fulham and Burnley respectively, can become the second set of three brothers to represent their country at a World Cup. "Hopefully at the next World Cup, you never know," said the Middlesbrough player. "Maybe the one after if I am still going! I'm sure they will still be around and doing well. Everyone said it's normally just two brothers in the same team so it would be nice. I told them if they can match or better what I have done in my career then they will be quite successful."
While Williams has already established himself in the Socceroos squad, there is also an outside chance that the brothers could end up facing each other at international level. "Wales are looking at Aryn too and he's having a think about it. He likes the idea of the limelight of international football. It can be good for him, I know it helped me massively," commented the eldest Williams. "We could play for Wales, India, England or Australia. But I don't want them to do what I did - play for Wales and then jump ship … At the time, playing for my home country was the best thing I have done but I felt bad about what I did to the people there."
NEWCASTLE CONFIRM SIGNING OF TAGGART
Newcastle Jets continue to strengthen their squad for next season with the signing of talented youngster Adam Taggart from Perth Glory. Taggart, who has represented Australia at both under-20 and under-23 level, has inked a two-year deal with the Jets. “It’s a very exciting time to be part of the Jets who are making big plans for the future which I think is obvious through their recruitment and retention of several exciting players,” 18-year old Taggart said. “I am looking forward to playing as much first team football as possible next season and making a real impact on the league.”
The move east reunites Taggart, who has been limited to 10 A-League appearance since debuting for Glory in 2010, with Newcastle boss Gary Van Egmond. The pair previously worked together at the Australian Institute of Sport during 2009/10. “It is a good credit to him, particularly at his young age, to have been involved in the Olympic qualifiers and it just shows how highly regarded he is,” said Van Egmond. “He will fit into the culture we are trying to build at the Jets and we look forward to working with him when he arrives here.”
MELBOURNE UPSET GLORY YOUTH
Perth Glory Youth ended their season with a surprise 1-0 loss to competition strugglers Melbourne Victory this afternoon at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex in Cheltenham, Victoria. Melbourne dominated first half possession but Glory Youth created the first two chances on goal, Byron Hudson pulling wide before Adam Taggart forced a good save from Tando Velaphi. Luke O’Dea fashioned the host’s first opening by skipping past Scott Neville only to be thwarted by Lewis Italiano. The breakthrough arrived on 37 minutes when O’Dea’s glancing header from a Damir Lokvancic free-kick came to rest in the back of the net.
The introduction of Jesse Makarounas at the break saw Glory Youth control the early part of the second half with Sam Mitchinson and Tommy Amphlett going close with shots from outside the 18-yard box. Melbourne balanced the ledger with a couple of substitutions of their own and on 65 minutes Luc Jeggo’s cross narrowly evaded Danny Allsopp. Jeggo was provider again on 84 minutes when his corner found Allsopp whose effort was saved low by Italiano. Glory Youth pushed forward in the final few minutes but were turned away on each occasion as Melbourne held on for their fourth win of the season.
RUKAVYTSYA FIRES HERTHA TO VICTORY
Fringe Socceroo Nikita Rukavytsya scored the game’s only goal as Hertha Berlin ended their run of six straight defeats with an important 1-0 win over Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga yesterday. The former Perth Glory striker found the net just after the hour with a volley that bounced over goalkeeper Tim Wiese from a tight angle. Rukavytsya might have added a second on 74 minutes but fired wide after Pierre-Michel Lasogga’s good work. The result ends Hertha’s 12-game winless run and keeps them one point above the relegation zone.
MARULANDA STEERS BAYSWATER INTO FINAL
A second half hat-trick by Gustavo Marulanda has sent Bayswater City into the final of the 2012 Night Series with a 6-2 triumph over Bunbury Forum Force at 6PR Stadium evening. Gustavo Catarcione netted twice in the first half with Cisco Jorquera also on the scoresheet to book Bayswater a place in the pre-season tournament finale for the first time since 1987. “The second half was good, we’re getting fitter now,” said winning coach Mauro Marchione. “We changed a few things at half-time because they were dangerous at set pieces in the first, but overall I thought we deserved the win …. and we’re looking forward to the final next week.”
Bayswater announced their intentions early with Ryan Montgomery forced to tip over a long-range attempt by Jorquera. But were was little the Bunbury custodian could do in the 9th minute when Catarcione held of his marker to fire low into the net from 9-metres after being picked out by Ross Cosgrove. With this Bunbury settled and on 19 minutes threatened to equalise via an Ashley Young which Cosgrove put just high of his own crossbar. It was a warning Bayswater failed to heed as sixty seconds later Young again supplied the ammunition, this time a long thrown-in which Oliver McGee headed in from 5-metres.
The momentum has now switched to Bunbury and Danny Kane’s long-range effort beat City goalkeeper Tom Dixon only to ricochet away to safety off the upright. The game took another unexpected twist in the 28th minute with Bayswater regaining the lead against the run of play, Catarcione lashing in from 7-metres after latching onto John Kearney’s defence splitting pass out of midfield. Play flowed freely from one end then to the other for the remainder of the half. Kearney played Cosgrove down the left but the midfielders goalbound shot was deflected wide. Martin Ryan drove forward in the opposite direction before crossing for Brooks whose shot was tipped over by Dixon.
Bunbury pushed forward at every opportunity after the break with Brooks teeing up Jarrod Mort but his shot from the edge of the 18-yard box was taken low by Dixon. With Kearney pulling the string in midfield, Bayswater soon enough regained control and just after the hour the Irishman’s cross was headed just wide by Sadmir Jakupovic. Bayswater got the reward they sought on 71 minutes when Patrick Quinn’s long ball out of defence was latched onto by Marulanda, who cut inside and finished clinically past Montgomery. However, celebrations were cut short as Mort’s long ball caught Dixon by surprise, the ball coming back off the bar for Brooks to head in at close-range.
Bayswater were not about to throw the game away and on the 77th minute netted for a fourth time, Kearney’s ball over the defence was misjudged by McGee allowing Jorquera to race away and stroke past an exposed Montgomery. Bunbury were exposed for a fifth time three minutes later when Marulanda’s pace took him clear before finishing low into the net. The game was deep in stoppage time when Marulanda completed his hat-trick by cheekily sending the ‘keeper the wrong way from the penalty spot after referee Joe Fusari ruled handball against Mark Osmond.
ASHFIELD NO MATCH FOR CLASSY PERTH (with Bianca Redding, Football West)
Perth SC put an abrupt end to Ashfield's pre-season run with a 4-1 rout in the late semi-final at 6PR Stadium. Andreas Oliveira scored twice in quick succession to send Perth into the break with a handy buffer to which David Onoforo and Trent Kay added in the second half. “We played alright tonight apart from the last 15-20 minutes but now we should be ready for the final,” said Perth coach Gianfranco Circati, who is looking forward to playing Bayswater in next weekend’s final. “Every game is different (and) we know we're going to have a very hard game against Bayswater … hopefully we can take home the final, we will see.”
Perth asserted their control over proceedings from the outset with Oliveira and Antonio Naglieri working tirelessly to open up their opponents’ defences. Karl O’Reilly and Ryan Frisina had early chances for Ashfield whose hasty advances were consistently halted by debutant goalkeeper Alex Dunn. The game was blown wide open midway through the first half by two Oliveira goals in the space of a few minutes. Oliveira’s opener came with an assured 22nd minute strike into the bottom corner after receiving a cut back from Onoforo. And two minutes later those two players combined again to double Perth’s lead, Onoforo delivering a ball which Oliveira slipped expertly past John Perkins.
Ashfield were perhaps a little guilty of showing their opponents too much respect and, combined with a lack of composure and haphazard approach work, didn’t look like pulling a goal back. There were glimpses of promise shown by O’Reilly and Frisina, their best move ending with an inviting cross which Dunn snaffled up just moments before Ian Griffiths arrived. Perth was unlucky not to have posted a third goal just before the break when Oliveira, under pressure from Okwy Diamondstar, had his shot blocked by the ‘keeper.
Perth wasted no time after the interval as Onoforo slid the ball past Perkins in a one-one-one opportunity which came courtesy of Naglieiri’s measure pass out of the middle. Ashfield returned fire just before the hour but Brian Maybin’s goalbound header was taken cleanly by Dunn. Trent Kay put the result beyond doubt in the 61st minute by playing Josh Wilkins and carrying the ball forward before blasting past Perkins on the run. With eleven minutes to go Frisina got his teams’ consolation goal by heading past Dunn after some tidy lead-up work by Daryl Warren and Matt Wardle.
HUGHES JOINS STERJOVSKI IN CHINA
Perth Glory midfielder Adam Hughes become the second player in five days to leave the club after agreeing terms with Chinese second division club Dalian Yiteng. Hughes, who joined Glory from Adelaide United last April on a two-year deal, he been released by mutual agreement and will join Mile Sterjovski in China, after he joined Dalian Aerbin earlier in the week. “It’s disappointing to lose two players at this stage of the season but as the team showed (on Thursday against Adelaide) there is a lot of character in the group,” said coach Ian Ferguson. Hughes made 18 appearances and scored two goals for Glory from his central midfield position.
The loss of Sterjovski and Hughes is a big blow for third-placed Glory with just three rounds of regular season fixtures to play. Ferguson, however, is confident there was enough depth in his squad to lead Glory to a historic A-League home final. “This is why we’ve built a good squad – it was to make sure that if anything happened through injuries or players leaving the club, then we could bring in players,” he said. “We’ve made sure we got cover and hopefully we have. We’ve got three games to go and a great opportunity to get to the finals and we’ll keep it positive for the rest of the season.”
AND THEN THERE WERE FOUR... THE NIGHT SERIES SEMI-FINAL PREVIEW
The Night Series semi-finals take centre stage this weekend with a massive double header at 6PR Stadium on Saturday. Newly promoted Bunbury Forum Force takes on Bayswater City (5.15pm) get the ball rolling in an all-Premier League affair. "We've trained well this week and we're all looking forward to the challenge, if we play our own game we should be fine," said in-form Bunbury striker Martin Ryan who, along with import Steve Howson, is under an injury cloud. "I came off (against Inglewood United) on Sunday with a sore ankle, so hopefully it will be good for the game this weekend."
Bayswater coach Mauro Marchione is expecting another tough game after fending off giant-killers UWA-Nedlands last time out. "Bunbury are a very solid team, they looked very fit and well-organised against Inglewood," he said. "We know that is going to be another big game but, like always, we will be ready for it. We have a good team this year and we want to reach the final. I think it's time for a glorious club like Bayswater to play for something important." John Kearney returns from suspension and will be knocking on the first eleven door along with Larry Miller and Cesar Gonzales.
The late game is a real David and Goliath meeting with 19-times Night Series winners Perth SC coming up against Division One side Ashfield (7.45pm). "Ashfield have certainly put some big clubs away so we have to respect what they achieved to date," commented Perth's assistant coach Basil Lenzo. "It is a balancing act between preparing for the season proper and also preparing for this match (but) there is strong competition for places. It's another semi-final for Perth and hopefully our experience can get us through."
Ashfield have very good reason to fancy their chances of causing an upset after knocking over Balcatta and Floreat Athena in the past fortnight. "We're very excited to be playing Perth, there's nothing better than getting the opportunity to play in a semi-final against the calibre of the players they have," said Ashfield striker Ryan Frisina. "All the lads continue to train hard and are ready to put up a challenge against the current Premier League winners for a place in the Final ... as the coach said last week, we're in it to win it."
SUNBOWTEC CUP ROUND TWO PREVIEW
The second round of Sunbowtec Cup qualifiers swings into action this weekend with some mouth-watering games at Wotton Reserve. The action commences this evening with host club Morley Windmills up against neighbouring Dianella White Eagles (7.00pm). Saturday brings together Mandurah City and Kingsway Olympic (5.00pm) in what promises to be action-packed affair full of attacking intent. Melville City went down in last week's opening round and must beat Gosnells City on Saturday (7.00pm) to keep alive their hopes of going through to the semi-finals. The round concludes with a Tuesday evening showdown between a revitalised Ashfield and Forrestfield United's young, new-look line-up (7.15pm).
VAN DONGEN BOYS RETURN TO COACH CANNING
The football careers of siblings Paul and Michael Van Dongen have gone full circle with their appointment as joint-coaches of Canning City for 2012. The twins both stepped into senior football with Canning, helping them to the Division One championship in 2008 and each a key figure in the clubs' one and only season of Premier League football the following year. So it's hardly surprising they are chuffed to be leading the club into the coming season. "We gave the best part of a decade of our senior football careers to the club so it's extremely rewarding to see the confidence that the club, committee, supporters and players have in us both by offering us this opportunity," said Paul Van Dongen.
Only three months ago Canning was on the verge of exiting the State League due to a lack of facilities. The Van Dongen boys watched closely the plight of their former club, attending their Annual General Meeting and verbally throwing their support behind the ailing club. "There were some questions around the stability of the club at the end of last year. We attended the AGM along with several other key club members who were also committed to see the club survive," explained Michael Van Dongen. "We made it clear at that meeting that we had committed to playing for Floreat Athena again in 2012."
However, the brother's decision to walk out on Floreat three weeks ago paved the way for their return to Canning. "Rather than jump at offers from other clubs, we decided to take some time to think about what our real drivers were around football," continued Michael Van Dongen. "Late last week we were contacted by a committee member advising us that Richard Francisco had decided to step down as coach and asked us to consider taking on the role. Following a meeting with the committee and re-familiarising ourselves with the passion of the people who run this club and their plans over the next few years, we agreed to take on the role."
He may have been in the job less than a week but Michael Van Dongen admits he's excited by what he's seen of the Canning players. "It is unquestionably a young squad but there are some very talented and committed players that we look forward to being able to develop," he commented. "There is no question we need to add some senior players and are pleased to confirm the return of Paul Oliver, who is a true Canning custodian. We have been and will continue to make contact with more players that we believe will bring the required depth and seniority to the existing squad."
After a difficult 2011, when Canning finished bottom of Division One, and a turbulent off-season, the coming winter is rated as "extremely important" by Paul Van Dongen. "2012 is first and foremost about reinstating the cultures of the Canning club that we grew accustomed to, adding depth to the current squad, developing the youth of the club and ensuring Canning is well clear of any drop zone," the coach commented. "We are confident that with the current squad and the new players we are in discussion with, the kind of form that saw Canning unbeaten in the 2008 season could return."
By finding the right mix of youth and experience Paul Van Dongen hopes to establish the foundations a successful future for his club. "The senior team was established in 2001 for the primary reason of ensuring Canning's junior players remain with the club long-term," he said. "We intend to maintain this principle by surrounding the large junior set-up with some senior players that will help and focus on the development of those young players on the fringe of first team football, players who will be the future of the club for many years to come."
LADY LUCK SMILES ON GLORY
Perth Glory remain on track for a historic first A-League home final after defeating Adelaide United 2-0 this evening at Hindmarsh Stadium. The visitors certainly had luck on their side when a suspiciously offside Billy Mehmet struck an early opener with their advantage doubled by captain Jacob Burns' curling finish. Adelaide coach John Kosmina was further infuriated with referee Matt Gillett's incorrect decision to disallow Nigel Boogaard's late header, and the sending off of substitute Fabian Barbiero following his clash with Dean Heffernan.
The ball had been in motion only 6 minutes when Travis Dodd's angled strike was turned in on the line by Mehmet, with television replays showing the Glory striker to be in a clear offside position. Glory strengthened their hold on the game in the 24th minute via Burns' superb first-time effort from 20-metres which curled into Eugene Galekovic's top corner. The home side were struggling going forward and with half-time approaching Sergio Van Dijk looked set to break through until Steve Pantelidis intervened.
Adelaide enjoyed some good possession in the early stages of the second half but those attacks were broken down by a well-organised defensive unit. Adam Hughes wasted a couple of chances to take the difference to three-goals, sending both over the crossbar, either side of Van Dijk placing wide at the other end. With thirteen minutes to go Dario Vidosic's corner was headed in by Boogaard, however, referee Gillett whistled for a non-existent foul on goalkeeper Danny Vukovic. Adelaide's misery continued with the 87th minute red carding of Barbiero after an off-the-ball clash with Heffernan.
FRISINA ALERT TO THE CHALLENGE
Ashfield will need to be at their absolute best to get the better of 19-times Night Series winners Perth SC in Saturday evening's semi-final at 6PR Stadium. Striker Ryan Frisina is well aware of that fact but nonetheless is optimistic his team can upset the odds and qualify for the final of the pre-season tournament. "We're all confident that we can lift up to the level that will help us in reaching the final," said Frisina, who acknowledged the quality of this weekend's opponent. "It'd be naive of us to single out only a few players to be wary of for the game, Perth SC are a team with class all over the park."
In making the last four Ashfield have chalked up wins over Premier League sides Balcatta and Floreat Athena, the latter in a penalty shoot-out last weekend. "It was an outstanding effort from the whole team, and scoring the equalising goal in extra-time to send the game to penalties was an added bonus for me," Frisina. "The on-field balance is a major focal point for every team but (coach) Matt Carruthers and the club have expressed to the players how vital the off-field camaraderie can also be. With each player fighting hard for one another in a relatively new squad this early in the season can only point to greater things to come."
It's been a decade since Ashfield last graced the Premier League and Frisina is hoping to be part of the side which ends that drought, if not this year then maybe next. "Having Mandurah City and Cockburn City in Division One makes the fight for promotion all the harder, but with the squad and staff we have at Ashfield I'm more the confident we will be up there come seasons' end," said Frisina, who find great inspiration in club president Bill Bushby. "Bill is a very passionate person who works tirelessly and his hard working philosophy definitely is an inspiration for the players to display the same endeavour on the park this season."
BUNBURY ARE IN FOR THE LONG HAUL: COWLEY
Bunbury Forum Force's progression to the last four of the Night Series shows how serious the Premier League's newest entry is about making their mark this year. Promotion to the top flight has been a long held dream of the south west club and now that has been achieved they have every intention of staying says assistant coach Andy Cowley. "The club have been striving for a spot in the Premier League for so long," commented Cowley, who played for the club between 2002 and 2009. "We're hoping it will be a boost in terms of interest from the community and also our junior player numbers."
Bunbury have made a flying start to the new season, coming through their Night Series group with three straight wins before seeing off Premier League mainstay Inglewood United 2-1 in last weekend's quarter-finals. "(Coach) Nigel Wilcox and I were absolutely delighted with our application on Sunday," commented Cowley. "We spoke about our goals against in the previous games being not where we want to be at the moment and the boys responded with their best defensive display yet so that was very pleasing. We're not getting carried away but it sure was a very satisfying performance against Inglewood."
The summer saw a fair degree of movement within Bunbury's playing ranks with captain Jordan Rispon, creative midfielder Rory Binnie and last seasons' top goal scorer Michael Marten moving on. Their places have been filled by a combination of local talents and imports with Busselton striker Martin Ryan making an early impact with six goals in four outings. "Martin has settled straight into the squad and we are delighted with his early form in the Night Series," said Cowley. "I was more pleased with his response against Inglewood, it was very hard to back up his four goal performance but he managed it by scoring again."
There have been some memorable meetings between Bunbury and Bayswater City down the years which is why Cowley is tipping Saturday's Night Series semi-final to be a tough game. "There has been a little bit of history stemming from our tussles in Division One over the years," Bunbury's assistant coach said. "They will be buoyant after a good comeback on Sunday (against UWA-Nedlands) and I'm sure they will be up for this one. We are looking forward to locking horns with them again it should be a great game with two sides who like to get forward and score goals."
PRE-SEASON CUP GIVES BRAZIL A CHANGE TO TINKER
Mandurah City coach Mike Brazil has given the thumbs to the Sunbowtec Cup, a pre-season friendly competition being played at Wotton Reserve. The eight-team tournament, which kicked off last weekend, provides Brazil and rival coaches up to five competitive games in the lead-up to the coming league campaign. "The tournament is a very good concept," the Mandurah coach said. "We have an opportunity to look at different young players and try different formations and hopefully by the time the league kicks off we should have all areas covered."
Mandurah's first game in the Sunbowtec Cup pitted them against a feisty Forrestfield United outfit which went down 4-2. "We started exceptionally with the game plan being well executed before Forrestfield, to their credit, came back at us and caused us a few problems," commented Brazil, whose teams goals came from Jeff Bright, Craig Tone, Farrell Hedges and Liam Harbourson. "In the second half we were struggling a bit with Tom Straker, Farrell Hedges and Jeff Bright all coming off due to injury, but we hung in and ground out the three points."
Brazil has added considerably to the quality and depth of his squad by luring the likes of Jeff Bright, Craig Young, Chris Wylie and Jay Bonser back to Mandurah. "We are very happy with the players we have, and once we can get all the injured players on the park at the same time we will be competitive," he commented. "The players we've signed have a lot of experience and along with Ryan Townsend, Darren Broxton, Phil Straker, Tom Straker, Matt Stares and Michael Grigo will put Mandurah in a healthy position this year."
On the immediate horizon for Mandurah is Saturday evening's encounter with Kingsway Olympic at Wotton Reserve. "We had a look at Kingsway on Sunday (against Ashfield) and they are certainly capable of causing us problems," said Brazil. "It is very hard to assess teams at present as everyone is experimenting with players, positions and formations, and what one club had/did last week could be different the following week. In saying that, we are looking forward to the game with Kingsway and the possibility of blooding some of our new young players."
HAWKINS SIGNS WITH SWEDISH CLUB
Perth Glory Women defender Carys Hawkins has signed with Swedish first division side Umea Sodra FF. Hawkins, 23, joins team captain Tanya Oxtoby (Doncaster Rovers Belles) and Collette McCallum (Lincoln Ladies) in plying her trade abroad during the W-League off-season. "I just want to keep playing at a high level," explained Hawkins. "I've finished my law degree now and thought to myself 'I could go off and become a lawyer' but if I don't keep playing I thought I would look back in ten years and regret it."
Hawkins has played 39 of Glory Women's 40 games across the four W-League seasons and plans to continue with her hometown club next summer. "The Swedish season continues until around October, so I will be back then and hopefully come into the Perth Glory W-League team," said one-time Australian Schoolgirls defender. "I've sort of done away with personal goals with football, it's just more a matter of seeing improvements in each aspect of my game. I suppose if they improve I may progress, which in itself could be a reflection of my dedication."
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