COCKBURN ARE BACK IN BUSINESS SAYS NATALE
Cockburn City stalwart Paul Natale says the club’s qualification of the Night Series Final is a just reward for the hard work which has gone over the past twelve months. Natale has stuck by Cockburn through thick and thin over the years, which is why this weekend’s game against Bayswater City means so much to the recently turned 29-year old. “It’s great for the whole club. Not only did we suffer relegation but the three season’s before that we were down in the bottom third of the table,” Natale said. “So for the people who follow the club and invested their time and effort it’s definitely exciting to reach this weekend’s Night Series Final.”
In making the final Cockburn chalked up good wins over Stirling Lions and Perth SC, results Natale says bodes well for the coming league campaign. “Those two wins against two good opponents on the way to the final was a great lift for us,” said the Cockburn captain when asked the secret to their early success. “We’ve had upwards of 26 players at pre-season training so the pressure to perform is high. And the bond forged by gaining promotion is definitely a factor at this early stage. But mostly it’s a game plan and a formation we want to keep testing against the best the league has to offer.”
Natale, who has been with Cockburn since 2007, says all the signs are pointing towards a strong season for the Cockerels under coach Scott Miller. “We have a large squad with some good signings in the off-season so Scott has the problem of keeping everyone happy,” explained Natale. “Even though they don’t play every week I’m hoping and sense the new guys have settled into the way we want to play. After a few lean seasons, Scott and all the senior players want the best for the club, and we hope to start that on Sunday.” Cockburn and Bayswater lock horns in the 2013 Night Series Final from 7.45pm on Sunday at Macedonia Park.
KEARNEY WANTS PRE-SEASON GLORY
Team captain John Kearney is pleased with how Bayswater City are shaping up for the coming season under new coach Chris Coyne. Bayswater have made a sensational start to the new year, making a clean sweep of their Night Series games to date to qualify for this weekend’s final against newly promoted Cockburn City. Kearney intends for that winning run to continue on Sunday and return the pre-season trophy to Frank Drago Reserve for the first time since 1987. “It’s been a great season to date,” Kearney said. “We’ve reached the Night Series Final and we will be doing our best to bring home the trophy.”
But for that to happen Bayswater will need to improve markedly on their last two performances – in which they needed penalties to get past Floreat Athena and Armadale – if they are stand any chance of claiming silverware on Sunday. “We really haven’t been happy with the last two results … our performances were not what is expected,” said Kearney, a former professional with Irish club Waterford United. “In both games we got punished for silly mistakes. But we showed great character, especially last Sunday when we were 2-0 down at half-time to Armadale and we kept our nerve in the shoot-out to win. The experience we have at the club showed.”
Kearney has a fair idea what to expect from Cockburn after watching them account for Perth SC in the semi-finals. “I watched them last week and they looked good. They look well organised and very physical so we will have to be at our best to win,” commented Kearney. “It’s been a long time that the club has won a trophy – 25 years I believe. We are looking to go one step further than last season and as a club we have set out our stalls to win everything we can. We certainly have the players capable of doing that, so hopefully on Sunday we can start down that path.”
VRTESKI GOES BACK TO SCHOOL
One-time Australian youth international Aleks Vrteski has begun a new chapter in his career with the establishment of the ‘Vrteski Goalkeeping’ school. Vrteski, who has played professionally in Australia, Macedonia and Indonesia, intends sharing his many and varied experiences with young, up and coming goalkeepers as way of assisting them reach their full potential. “After eight years of being a professional goalkeeper I have had some wonderful experiences and trained with some of the best coaches in the business,” 24-year old Vrteski explained. “Now I have the opportunity to pass on those learning experiences to assist all ‘keepers in Perth.”
The underlying principles behind Vrteski Goalkeeping.com are quite simple. “I want kids to enjoy the art of goalkeeping and also to become the best they can be,” Vrteski explained. “Goalkeeping gets looked at so negatively in the younger ages – usually it’s the kid who isn’t the fittest, the fastest or the ‘best’ player who ends up in goal. I want those kids to see there is a lot to enjoy about being a goalkeeper. If I can pass on what I have learnt and expose them to the training I received, but at a younger age than I was, then hopefully it will increase their chances of making it to the highest level they can.”
Vrteski’s new venture coincides with his State League return. “I’m back in Perth and figured it’s a great opportunity to have a run around in the State League,” commented Vrteski, who spent the last two years playing his trade in Indonesia. “Stirling Lions was the club that gave me my first opportunity of first team football so in the end it was a simple decision to join them. We have an extremely new squad with some exciting additions and to begin with I think you’ll see some indifferent results from us, but once we gel and start to click we will be a pretty strong unit.”
Stirling is a very different club today compared to when Vrteski donned their colours in 2005. “We were two games away from relegation and fighting for our top flight lives,” he recalls. “The tables have turned over the years, Stirling is now a very well respected club with a bit of silverware … we’re seen as a club that should always be challenging year in year out. The way the league is shaped being Minor Premiers doesn’t really count for much anymore but we definitely have a squad good enough to be a top five side and in the mix for silverware come the business end of the season.”
PERTH HOME NEEDED FOR ASIAN CUP
Football’s proposed new headquarters has been included on the list of venues for pre-tournament camps for the 2015 Asian Cup. Football West and Perth Glory have joined forces in a campaign to raise funds for a ‘Home of Football’ to house a centre of training excellence, administration headquarters and a small competition venue. The local peak body are seeking a funding commitment from political leaders of up to $20 million for the facility, which could also serve as a base for visiting international teams and high-profile clubs from overseas. Perth has been shortlisted to host warm-up camps for the 2015 Asian Cup, however, the existing training facilities at Perth Oval and AK Reserve are not up to the optimum standard for Asia’s showpiece event.
Football West development officer and former Glory captain Jamie Harnwell said Perth would be an ideal base for international teams if the new facility got the green light. “We could really offer something to Asian and European football teams who want to use Perth as a training base,” Harnwell said. “There are just so many good things that could come out of it. The players we’re developing in spite of the conditions we’ve got at the moment, to give them the best facilities we can and see what sort of players we can develop would be huge.” Thousands of members of the West football community have joined the campaign online by signing the homeoffootball.com.au petition as way of sending their message to political leaders.
‘NICE ONE CYRIL’ AS BARRY JOINS ARMADALE
English striker Callum Barry had no idea that a chance visit to Dorrien Gardens would lead to his signing with Armadale. Barry linked up with the Reds over the summer and, fresh from bagging his first goal for the club, is looking forward to his first season on the local stage. “I’ve settled really well into the Perth lifestyle,” said Barry, who struck Armadale’s opening goal in their Night Series semi-final loss to Bayswater City. “There isn’t one person at Armadale that hasn’t made me feel welcome. The boys have already given me a couple of nicknames and that definitely helps you relax, settle in and build friendships.”
Barry had only recently arrived from Birmingham when he was stumbled upon a State League game between Armadale and Perth SC late last year. “I was looking at a house just behind Dorrien Gardens at the end of last season. I heard the crowd, went to have a look and ended up staying to watch all three games,” he explained. “I was talking to a lady and a young lad in the crowd and it turned out to be Armadale ‘keeper Cyril Sharrock’s wife, she introduced me to Cyril who told me all about Armadale and the rest, as they say, is history.”
Barry, who most recently played for non-League side Burntwood Town, is enjoying life with the Reds. “There is a great camaraderie growing at Armadale, from the youngsters in the junior sides to the Saturday teams. You go to training looking forward to spending time with the lads,” said Barry. “You know Lee (Bamber) and Kevin (Brophy) are going to work you hard but we also have a laugh and you always come away with a smile on your face. The whole club are focused and have a positive vision of what they want to the club to achieve and I’m looking forward to being a part of it.”
Armadale raced to a two-goal lead in last weekend Night Series semi-final only to have Bayswater turn things around with a couple of second half goals before out-shooting their opponents in a tense shoot-out. “To go out on penalties is unfortunate but you only had to see the reaction of the Armadale supporters after the game to see how proud they were of our efforts for the entire 90 minutes,” he commented. “Bayswater showed great resilience in coming back during the second half. But I also think that the way we played against one of the top team bodes well for the season ahead.”
Barry will get another chance to test himself this weekend when Armadale takes on Perth in the Night Series minor place play-off. “It’s a game I’m really looking forward too,” he said. “I was fortunate enough to have trained with Perth for a few weeks last year, so I’m aware that they are a good side. I know we are all up for the challenge and if we work as hard as we did against Bayswater I know we can get a result.” Armadale and Perth meet in the play-off for third and fourth from 5.30pm on Sunday at Macedonia Park.
GLORY’S FOCUS IS ON FINALS FOOTBALL: DODD
Stand-in captain Travis Dodd says Perth Glory are focused on making the A-League finals for the second successive year. Glory started the month at the foot of the ladder but there have been signs of improvement since new coach Alistair Edwards began implementing a possession-based game plan a fortnight ago. “There’s quite a good understanding of the game plan and how he (Edwards) wants us to play,” said Dodd, who has worn the captain’s armband in Jacob Burns’ absence. “It’s just a matter of the players getting used to it and being able to implement it in the game.”
Dodd says it’s only a matter of time before Glory start hitting their straps. “We’re confident that we can keep those improvements going from week to week to get the wins before the finals,” he added. “We’ve got belief in each other and the coaching staff have got the belief in the players. We go out there backing ourselves 100 per cent, backing the coaching staff and backing the game plan.” A troublesome back injury has sidelined Burns for the past five matches but indications are the midfielder, who has recently increased his training workload, could make his return to match action this weekend.
HAROLD’S BEST REWARDED WITH STARTING ROLE
Young gun Chris Harold knows he has to keep coming up with the goods if he’s to hold onto his place in Perth Glory’s first eleven. Harold, 20, had no choice but to bide his time with appearances off the bench over the first half of the season. That changed last month and now with five straight starts under his belt the 20-year old says he is in the best form of his blossoming career. “This year has probably been my main year where I’ve been part of the first team every single week,” said Harold, who previously played at Gold Coast United. “But I need to keep performing if I want to keep my spot in the team.”
Although a centre forward by trade, Harold has been deployed on the left of a three-pronged attack which features Shane Smeltz and Travis Dodd at Glory. “I’ve played number nine, centre forward, most of my life but I’ve also played wing quite a fair bit as well so I don’t mind playing either position,” Harold told footballsack.com. “Obviously when you’re playing centre forward you get more goalscoring positions (but) you’ve got to play to your strengths. My speed is my main asset so whenever I play I try to use that to my advantage and the team’s advantage because it’s not something that everyone possesses.”
Harold has so far scored only once in Glory colours, that being the winner against the Newcastle Jets in November, however, he is confident that he will start finding the net regularly sooner rather than later. “It’s always in the back of my mind that I want to be scoring,” he said. “I’ve played a lot off the bench so I’ve not had as much game time as I would have liked but I still think I could have had a couple more goals this year. At the moment I’m feeling pretty confident and the team’s starting to play well so with that and the team dominating you create more chances and I’m sure it’ll come.”
Playing professionally in Europe and internationally for Australia rate highly on every players wish list. Harold is not different, however, for the time being he is focused on making his mark on the domestic stage. “I’ve got a long way to go before I get to get to that sort of level but it’s not completely out of the question,” he commented when asked about a move to Europe. “When you get called up to the national team it’s a great honour that you’ve been recognised. At this point in time realistically I don’t think it’s at the top of my list but once I establish myself as an A-League player it’s definitely something to strive for.”
The season seems to be getting away from Glory who, with five home and away games to go, are placed five points outside the A-League’s top six. If Glory are to make the finals they’ll need to get their skates on, a fact which is not lost on Harold. “As a team it would be a massive achievement if we did make the top six, and I feel that if we do make the top six we can really make a run of going all the way,” he said. “Personally I would like to cement my spot in the starting team and score a few more goals. If I can do that it will also help the team.”
SAGE EXPLAINS PLAYER LOSSES
Perth Glory owner Tony Sage has defended his clubs decision to allow three players to leave during last months’ transfer window, saying it’s counter-productive to hold on to a player who wants out. The departures of Bas Van Den Brink, Billy Mehmet and youngster Jesse Makarounus provoked questions over the clubs lack of direction from defender Michael Thwaite. But Sage insists Glory have never stood in the way of a player who wants to leave the club. “If we have a player at the club who isn’t happy and wants to go we will not stand in his way,” Sage told theworldgame.sbs.com.au. “You don’t want players staying at a team under duress - that creates a recipe for resentment which can impact the player group.”
Sage has no issue with the departure of Van Den Brink and Mehmet, however, rising starlet Makarounas is a player he would have liked to keep at Glory. “In Billy’s case he wanted to go because he wasn’t getting the game time (and) we had already told Bas that he wouldn’t be required for next season and when he asked for an early release we didn’t stand in his way,” commented Sage. “The only one of three I was sorry to lose was Jesse - that did hurt. But he wanted to go and while we could have insisted on him seeing out his contract, it might have ended up causing a rift.”
KARPEH “FIRED BY” BY PUNE MOVE
Journeyman striker Boima Karpeh has signed with one of India’s most professional clubs, Pune, for the closing stages of the I-League season. With eight games to play Pune sit in fourth spot, seven points behind leaders East Bengal, and 28-year old Karpeh has made it his goal to close that gap when the league recommences next month. “I want to get fired up, go out there give my best,” Karpeh told goal.com. “With my contribution if we can win the league it will be a very, very big thing for me. Also if I could play one whole season with the team (Pune) I would love to do so.”
Karpeh, who joins Pune as replacement for departed Japanese striker Daisuke Nishiguchi, got a good feel of what it means to play for his new club during a brief spell with Churchill Brothers in 2011. “The passionate fans, the way games are organized was an experience that made me think ‘I really want to play here’,” said Karpeh, who score three goals in four I-League appearances for Churchill Brothers. “I decided if I don’t get a call to play for Pune I won’t come back to India, so when the agent told me ‘You are going to Pune’ I was very happy.”
Karpeh shot to prominence at Floreat Athena, spearheading the club to the Premier Division title in 2007 when his 25 goals netted the Golden Boot award. A Perth Glory contract followed but after making only seven appearances he was released and promptly headed to Victoria where he donned Whittlesea Zebras and Oakleigh Cannons colours. Karpeh then ventured aboard to play for Churchill Brothers which was followed by a season with Indonesian side Persisam Putra Samarinda. Late last year he played a handful of games for Balcatta before returning to Indonesia where he turned out for Persiram Raja Ampat.
FINALS NOT OUT OF GLORY’S READY: EDWARDS
Caretaker coach Alistair Edwards is adamant Perth Glory can still make the A-League finals series despite finishing the round in ninth position. Glory pushed second-placed Western Sydney Wanderers all the way in wet conditions yesterday before going down to a deflected goal by Aaron Mooy. The loss leaves Glory stranded five points outside the top six with only five games to play. “Most definitely,” Edwards said when asked if finishing inside the top six was still a realistic goal for his team. “We’re not going to give up until it’s mathematically impossible for us to get in there and I think we’ll get better as every single game goes, so I’m looking forward to that.”
Edwards praised his players’ efforts against an in-form Western Sydney outfit that stretched their winning run to seven games. “I was really proud of the way they performed actually, it was one of those games where they’re obviously not happy to lose but I think this is part of a journey,” commented Edwards. “We’ve had a really good game against Central Coast Mariners last week, they’re on top of the league, and we had a really good game against Western Sydney …. as we play game after game we'll get better and better.” Glory host Sydney FC next Saturday and also play Newcastle United, Wellington Phoenix, Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United in the run home.
GALLOWAY STEPS UP
New Melbourne Victory defender Scott Galloway says he is slowly adapting to life as a professional footballer. Galloway, 17, was happily working on the finer points of his game with the Australian Institute of Sport, who he captained in this season’s National Youth League, when Melbourne coach Ange Postecoglou came knocking with a contract offer late last month. Within weeks he was thrust into the rough and tumble of an A-League debut against crosstown rivals Melbourne Victory witnessed by in excess of 41,000 spectators. “It was unbelievable atmosphere,” recalled Galloway. “It was a great experience, a great learning curve.”
Galloway was arguably one of his teams’ best on derby day, a fact which hasn’t gone unnoticed by Postecoglou who included the teenager in his first eleven for subsequent games with Adelaide United and Western Sydney Wanderers. And he’ll line-up at right-back again today when Melbourne goes into battle with Sydney FC in front of what is likely to be another full house. “You forget the crowd is there at times, you’ve got a job to do,” Galloway said. “So you just concentrate on yourself and do everything you can so that you can walk off the field knowing you gave it your all.”
The level of intensity at training is something entirely new to Galloway, who played three seasons with the National Training Centre and two for Perth Glory Youth prior to entering the AIS. “It’s a whole lot quicker, a lot more physical and you’re playing with a lot better players,” Galloway said. “You don’t want to be the one to let the team down, and you’re always trying to impress because you want to be in the team week in, week out. You get really tired at the end of the sessions, but you do the right things off the field so you’re ready to get back on there.”
With family and friends on the opposite side of the country, Galloway had linked up with fellow West Australian Jesse Makarounas in Melbourne. “I’m staying with Jesse, we’ve known each other from Perth for a long time so it worked out perfectly,” Galloway commented. “We’re still eating out a lot for the time being until we work out exactly who’s going to be the chef and who’s going to be the cleaner. We’re eating good meals, the right things, and we go out with the boys some nights for dinner. We’ve both got a cousin here in Melbourne as well, so we go there to try and get a free meal as well. It’s all good.”
NO GLORY FOR YOUTH
Jake McGing struck in stoppage time to steal Western Sydney Wanderers a 2-1 win from their final round National Youth League encounter with Perth Glory Youth at Cook Park. A heavy pitch and high humidity meant goalscoring opportunities were few and far between. It wasn’t until four minutes from the break that Labinot Haliti broke the deadlock with a neat finish past Lewis Italiano. The visitors looked to have secured a point when substitute Slobodan Vulin’s sweet strike flew into the left corner after 81 minutes. But McGing snatched victory deep in stoppage time with a close-range poacher’s goal. The result means Glory Youth finish the season in fifth spot, two points behind Brisbane Roar.
BAYSWATER COME FROM BEHIND TO OUT-SHOOT ARMADALE
A half-time chat from Chris Coyne inspired Bayswater City to overcome a two-goal deficit and claim victory on penalties against a spirited Armadale outfit in this evening’s Night Series semi-final at Litis Stadium. Steve Burton scored twice after the break to cancel out first half finishes by Jack Salter and Callum Barry before Bayswater converted each of their spot kicks to triumph 7-6. “I said to them you have to earn the right to win football games – you have to roll your sleeves up, you have to be prepared to fight,” said Coyne of his half-time rallying cry. “At the end of the day I thought we had a bit more quality when we did go forward in the second half but you cannot give good teams a two-goal head start.”
It was Armadale that started the brighter with first Barry and Salter each chancing their luck from distance. Bayswater’s first chance didn’t eventuate until the midway through the half when Brian Farrell shot straight at goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock. Three minutes later Burton crashed a shot into the crossbar after linking to terrific effect with the lively Patrick Quinn. Armadale returned to the ascendency on 41 minutes courtesy of a superb Rhys Loxley corner which found the head of Salter, who powered the ball into Gianni Papalia’s net. Salter was in the thick of things again in stoppage time by steering Llewelyn Bake’s miss-hit shot towards goal with Barry prodding on from less than a metre to double the Reds advantage.
With Coyne’s words still ringing in their ears, Bayswater returned to the field with greater determination. The ball had been in motion only a couple of minutes when Gustavo Catarcione’s powerful header brought a brilliant save out of Sharrock, who was helpless as Burton tucked in from a suspiciously offside position. Parity was restored in the 68th minute when Paul McCarthy’s tame effort was inexplicably spilled by Sharrock into the path of Burton, who again made the most of a simple finish. The momentum remained with Bayswater right up to the final whistle with substitute Hassan Al Yassir going agonisingly close to netting a late winner by rounding Sharrock only to strike into the post.
Coyne then watched from the sidelines as Bayswater came through another nail-biting shoot-out in which the teams went goal for goal. Defender Andy Reale made it 7-6 with the 13th spot kick so when teenager Callum Potton failed to find the target net it was Bayswater who were through to next weekend’s tournament decider against newly promoted Cockburn City. Coyne will be without several players for the final but if that concerns him then he is not showing it. “We have a lot of faith in the players we have got – I don’t mind making changes in the pre-season,” he commented. “A game is a game – the ball is in the middle and the goal posts don’t move. You have to go out and beat whatever is in front of you.”
Armadale: Cyril Sharrock, Craig Robson, Nathan Costello, Llewelyn Bake, Callum Barry (Darren Francis 68), Sam Loveless (Jackson Bealey 71), Mitch Castrilli, Callum Potton, Ravi Kuppusamy, Daniel Birner (Rhys Loxley 34), Jack Salter
Bayswater City: Gianni Papalia, Patrick Quinn, John Kearney, Trent Kay Andy Reale, Thomas Gooding, Paul McCarthy, Brian Farrell, Dhour Chol (Hassan Al Yassir 46), Gustavo Catarcione (David Sesay 86), Steven Burton
Bookings: Loveless (53)
Referee: David Costello
LLOYD DOUBLE SENDS ‘WORK IN PROGRESS’ COCKBURN THROUGH TO DECIDER
Cockburn City made the most of limited opportunities to defeat Night Series trophy holders Perth SC 2-1 this evening at Litis Stadium. Paul Lloyd struck twice in the second half to book the Cockerels, who have not won the pre-season tournament in two decades, a place in next weekend’s final against Bayswater City. “It’s great to be in a final, but it’s still pre-season,” said Cockburn coach Scott Miller. “We are working on getting fit and our philosophy of how we want to play. I’ve got a great bunch of boys that are willing to listen and to try everything they can and today we got lucky.”
Perth wasted little time asserting themselves after kick-off with Clark Keltie and David Micevski determining in which direction play would flow. Daniel Micevski was causing no end of trouble for Cockburn and on several occasions looked like breaking through only to place wide or be thwarted by a last-gasp interception. Other promising openings came the way of Kris Gate and Adam Luca with both sending shot just past the upright. By far the best chance of the half arrived on 28 minutes when David Micevski ran at the defence, going past the last defender then goalkeeper Dejan Aleksic only to have a back-tracking Eamon McNelis clear off the line.
Cockburn began to ask questions of Perth following the interval and with 57 minutes on the clock Ian Stack latched onto a diagonal ball over the defence only to be impeded by Luka Njecich, referee Adam Fielding promptly pointed to the penalty spot with Lloyd doing the rest. The game was made safe in the 75th minute with Lloyd slotting past goalkeeper Jason Saldaris after being played in by Kavanagh. Although two-goals down, Perth refused to give up hope with substitute going close to cutting the deficit with a header. It wouldn’t be until deep in stoppage time that Daniel Micevski stroked into the net from 10-metres after reacting sharpest to Boland’s blocked shot.
Miller, who guided Cockburn to the Division One crown last year, has been pleased with what his team have produced in pre-season. “We are here to be competitive and we want to be playing against the best teams and just see how we go,” he said. “In a few weeks the real season starts and we want to be ready to put out a really good performance against the Premier League teams. We are using this as an extra fitness session but when you get to play the best teams – we had Stirling last week, Perth tonight and then (next week) Bayswater – what a great way to warm-up for the season.”
Cockburn City: Dejan Aleksic, Keiron Stallard, Evan Grant, Ian Stack (Marc Anthony 71), Eamon McNelis (Aiden Da Luz 45), Paul Lloyd, Alex Castello, Conor Kavagh, Jack Eades, Paul Natale, Nick Carroll (John Thornley 60)
Perth SC: Jason Saldaris, Christopher Saldaris (Liam Boland 57), Luka Njegich (Yoann Claudot 74), Milan Mirkovic, Spencer Harris, Logan Crawford, Adam Luca, Daniel Micevski, David Micevski, Clark Keltie, Kris Gate (Mathew Izzo 68)
Bookings: Grant (22), McNelis (45), Mirkovic (47), Njegich (56), Eades (59), Thornley (61), Anthony (85), Lloyd (88)
Referee: Adam Fielding
GLORY UNDONE BY DEFLECTED GOAL
Western Sydney Wanderers claimed their seventh consecutive victory by triumphing 1-0 over Perth Glory on a rain soaked Parramatta Stadium. The home team made a strong start but had to wait until just before the hour for Aaron Mooy’s deflected shot to find the back of the net. “I thought the game had ‘draw’ all over it to be honest,” Glory boss Alistair Edwards said. “They got a deflected goal that was probably against the run of play. Apart from the first 25 minutes I thought that we did really well.” The result leaves Glory stranded in ninth position, five points outside the A-League’s top six.
Glory was on the defensive early with Danny Vukovic called into action for the first time by Joey Gibbs. Dean Heffernan pressured Youssouf Hersi into slicing wide from the top of the 18-yard box, and a few minutes later Shinji Ono effort forced a save from Vukovic. Glory enjoyed a brief period of dominance midway through the half but the closest they came to scoring was a 36th minute Michael Thwaite header which Ante Covic comfortably saved. But it was Vukovic who by far the busier and just before the break Mark Bridges long-range strike bounced awkwardly in front of the ‘keeper, who managed to batter the shot away.
Western Sydney continued in much the same vein after the turnaround to be rewarded on 58 minutes when Mooy’s shot from the top of the box deflected wildly off Thwaite and into the top corner. Glory worked hard to find a way back and it looked as if they might just sneak a point in the closing stages. Chris Harold shot wide from distance before Liam Miller’s first time shot struck team mate Ryo Nagai and flashed just over the crossbar with ten minutes to go. Nagai had a couple of chances of his own but neither required a response from Covic.
NIGHT SERIES PREVIEW
The 2013 Night Series reaches fever pitch with tomorrow’s semi-final double-header at Litis Stadium. Bayswater City defender Patrick Quinn, scorer of the deciding penalty in last weekend’s shoot-out with Floreat Athena, is anticipating a tight game against Armadale (6.00pm) but remains confident nonetheless of reaching the final. “Floreat are a good side and it was a great test for us so early in the season,” Quinn said of the quarter-final encounter. “Armadale will also be a tough game, they work hard and mix things up. But with the squad we have I believe we can reach the final and go one better than last season.”
Rhys Loxley was surprised with the ease by which Armadale knocked Mandurah City out of tournament last weekend. “The result reflected our domination of the game, but to be honest I expected Mandurah to come out much stronger and more physical than they were,” said Loxley, who scored his teams’ final goal in the 3-0 win. “We know this week it will be a tough game. Bayswater were Minor Premiers last season and they’ve recruited some talented players in the off-season. We can go into the game full of confidence after last weekend’s win and, hopefully, that might be enough to cause an upset.”
The late game brings Perth SC together with newly promoted Cockburn City (8.15pm), who last weekend saw off Stirling Lions. “We were really pleased with the result,” Cockburn midfielder Paul Lloyd said. “We knew Stirling were a strong side so it was good to test ourselves against them. I thought we were solid and organised, and broke quick against them and deserved the win. Perth will be another tough test but we’re all looking forward to the challenge. There’s a great spirit in the team and we want to keep winning and keep our run going.”
Adam Luca was delighted with the fighting spirit shown last time out by Perth, who came from behind to defeat Inglewood United in a dramatic penalty shoot-out. “We showed great character and discipline to fight back for our equaliser. We’re still a new team and until we fully gel I think these are the attributes that will get results,” said Luca. “I don’t know much about Cockburn this year, but they must be decent to make the semi-finals. Our preference is to play tough games now to prepare us properly for the season start … we always want to win and we look forward to Saturday.”
EDWARDS STICKS WITH WINNING FORMULA
Alistair Edwards will start with the same eleven players that downed A-League leaders Central Coast Mariners last weekend when Perth Glory travels to second-from-top Western Sydney Wanderers tomorrow. Western Sydney are looking to make it seven wins on a row but Edwards is quietly confident that his charges can cause another upset to keep themselves in finals contention. “We’ll go with the same starting eleven, with Scott Jamieson and Matias Cordoba coming in on the bench,” said the Glory coach. “Training has been really good this week backing up from a really good performance against the Mariners. The players adapted well to the game plan on Saturday and we’ve had another three really good sessions since then in which the boys have taken things on even further.”
Edwards spoke enthusiastically of the signing of highly-rated teenager Daniel De Silva. “Daniel is a player I’ve worked with for the last two years with the Joeys and signing him is a fantastic coup for the club,” said Edwards. “I think he and his family have seen the new direction that we’re looking to go in with Glory and it’s great to have someone of his ability in the squad. People have asked is he eligible to play, is he going to be playing and the answer is that we have signed him as a first-team squad member and he is available for selection. If he performs and does the things I know he can, he’s one of the 20 or so players in the squad that will be up for selection from next week.”
DA SILVA, 15, SIGNS WITH GLORY
Perth Glory have beaten several European clubs to the signature of teenage prodigy Daniel De Silva. A key member of Australia’s Under-17 side, De Silva agreed terms this week on a two-year contract with Glory as the club reaffirmed their commitment to promoting local talent under caretaker coach Alistair Edwards. “He’s a very technically gifted player and, not only that, he’s a good kid as well,” said Edwards. “He’s a very skilful player, he has the ability to take on players and do the unexpected. If he can continue his progress, he’ll be an exciting player to watch.”
De Silva, who turns 16 next month, played juniors with Kingsway Olympic and Stirling Lions before progressing through the National Training Centre program. Earlier this year he caught the eye of scouts from Italian giants Inter Milan and trained with English club Everton, who would have signed the teenager if not for problems obtaining a visa. So when an offer came in to join Glory, De Silva jumped. “It’s good to be working with Alistair, when I found out he was the coach, I was definitely smiling,” he said. “He’s a great role model and if you listen to him, he’ll shape you to become a better footballer.”
Edwards says Glory will look to sign more West Australian youngsters as part of plans to secure the clubs’ long-term future. “Daniel is one of a number of players we have identified as part of the clubs future direction and if he continues to work on his game during these crucial formative years he will have a very bright future in the game,” Edwards added. “The idea is for our young players to continue their football education in WA, then progress to a professional career with the first team, then if there is interest from overseas clubs the players will go as an experienced player having played for a great A-League club.”
GATE OPEN TO PERTH OFFER
English midfielder Kris Gate intends helping Perth SC make a clean sweep of this years’ State League trophies. Gate, who played five seasons with Newcastle United under manager Bobby Robson, arrived in Perth earlier this month and admits he is impressed with both the set-up at Dorrien Gardens and his new clubs ambition, which he wants to turn into reality. “Coming to Perth has been great,” 28-year old Gate commented. “The lads have helped me settle in really well and the club is very professional. They want to win everything possible and I share that ambition.”
Gate honoured his first outing with Perth by getting on the scoresheet of their thrilling Night Series quarter-final win over Inglewood United last weekend. He bagged the games’ opening goal only to watch as Inglewood took control through strikes by Koji Yamada and Michael Baczynski. However, Spencer Harris equalised deep in stoppage time before Perth triumphed 4-3 on penalties. “It was an interesting game because we didn’t play to our best ability but we got the result, which is what matters,” he said. “From a personal point of view I was happy to get my first goal and 90 minutes under my belt.”
It was as a trainee with English club Newcastle that Gate began his career. “I started at Newcastle where I spent five years playing under some great managers, the main one being Sir Bobby Robson,” commented Gate, who rose up through the ranks to captain the Magpies Reserve team. “I’ve played with some quality players in my time but I would have to say the best player I have ever played with is Alan Shearer. He was coming back from an injury and played in the reserves, as a Geordie, Shearer is a legend.”
A competitive first team outing eluded Gate but, nonetheless, the midfielder has plenty of fond memories from his Newcastle days. “The highlight was making the first team squads on a number of occasions and travelled to Malaga with the squad for a friendly,” said Gate, who was within seconds of being an English Premier League player in December 2005. “I made the bench at West Ham United and was told to warm up as I was going on to make my debut, only to then be told to wait as we conceded a late penalty. It never happened but still a great time in my career.”
Gate joined Gateshead United in 2007 and over five seasons amassed 213 appearances, playing an influential role in the club gaining back-to-back promotions from the Northern Premier League and the Blue Square North Division. A chat with friend Steven Turnbull led to Gate’s relocation to Perth. “Steven was at Bayswater and when I was released from my club I spoke to him regarding the life and football out here and he couldn't speak highly enough of it,” Gate explained. “I’ve settled in Perth extremely well, the heat is the only factor that I have struggled with but apart from that I love the place.”
Perth’s pre-season continues on Saturday with a Night Series encounter with newly promoted Cockburn City at Litis Stadium. Gate is looking forward to the game and staking his claim to a regular starting spot as the new Premier League season approaches. “It’s hard for me to comment on a team or league I know little about as I have only been here a month,” admitted Gate when asked about this weekend’s opponent. “But from what I have heard from the lads it’s going to be a tough game and we will have to turn up on the day to get the result we want.”
SAINSBURY KEEPING A LEVEL HEAD
Central Coast Mariners are zeroing in on back-to-back Premierships but defender Trent Sainsbury isn’t about to get carried away. With just six games to go Central Coast sit atop the A-League with the slenderest of leads – a single point – over Western Sydney Wanderers. After losing to Perth Glory last weekend, Sainsbury knows his team cannot afford to slip-up again this Saturday against Melbourne Victory. “We just take it as another game,” Sainsbury told fourfourtwo.com. “You can’t really say any game in the A-League is a clear three points. If we can just treat it as another game and get on with it and not let emotions get in the way we’ll come away with the three points.”
There is absolutely no doubt in Sainsbury’s mind that Central Coast have what it takes to be end the regular season on top of the ladder. “I think people are underestimating how good this team is,” said Sainsbury, who has started 19 of his teams’ 21 games this term. “We’re still top of the ladder and we’ve been there for 14, 15 weeks now. People are writing us off but we like the underdog tag, it suits us well. We’re a small team, we haven’t got any marquees. You look at Wanderers they’ve got something like six overseas players – we’ve only got three. The odds are pretty much against us and that’s probably how we like it.”
It really has been a breakthrough summer for 21-year old Sainsbury, who says his game has been taken to a new level by partnering veteran Patrick Zwaanswijk in the middle of Central Coast’s defence. “I feel a lot more confident out there on the ball,” the Young Socceroo said. “Arnie’s (coach Graham Arnold) drilled it into me over the last couple of years when you’ve got the ball you’ve got to either keep it or do something with it – instead of just giving away a nothing ball. I’ve tried to put that into my game. He says if you can go forward and give the strikers some service do it – don’t be afraid – back yourself.”
FOR F@*%# SAKE!
The campaign to build a central training and administration headquarters for football has been ramped with Football West calling on players, officials and fans to contact political leaders to express their support for the project. Football West chief executive Peter Hugg has sent letters to premier Colin Barnett, opposition leader Mark McGowan as well as Giz Watson (Greens leader) and Brendon Grylls (Nationals leader) seeking their commitment to fund the construction of a Home of Football. To complement this Football West have launched the homeoffootball.com.au website where fans can complete an online form and send a message to politicians that football deserves a home.
Football West are seeking a $20 million funding pledge from political parties to assist in building a centre of training excellence, administration headquarters and a small competition venue with artificial surface where major junior, amateur, social and State League matches can be played. “We will also work closely with Perth Glory, who will be invited to share the training and administration centre, therefore strengthening and presenting a united front in WA for the most popular sport in the world,” Hugg said. The facility would also include a coaching and education centre, a display area for historical artefacts associated with the game in WA and community facilities.
GLORY PUMPED FOR TRIP TO PARRAMATTA: NAVEN
Gareth Naven is looking forward to Perth Glory’s trip to Parramatta Stadium on Saturday. Glory’s newly appointed assistant coach has fond memories of the venue from his playing days and is hopeful of creating a little bit of history this weekend against Western Sydney Wanderers. “It’s a beautiful football surface and the fans are pretty close to the ground which provides a great atmosphere,” Naven said. “When you’re playing at home, your fans are your extra player and I’m sure Western Sydney will be raring to go. It’s fantastic event and an opportunity for our players and the club to go there and do their best.”
Glory will have their work cut out on Saturday against an opponent looking to chalk up their seventh successive win. “They’ve got an astute coach (Tony Popovic) who is organised and structured,” Naven commented. “And they have players who believe in what they’re doing and with that kind of combination within the A-League, you’re going to have a tough day. With the FFA coaching education processes and pathways, it does challenge and educate the coaches and gives them the knowledge and the tools to try and implement on the training ground. So it won’t just be a battle of the players, it’ll be a battle of the coaches as well.”
GARCIA’S FOCUS IS ON THREE POINTS
Melbourne Heart won’t allow off-field developments from distracting them when they face Sydney FC on Sunday according to midfielder Richard Garcia. Socceroos captain Lucas Neill rejected an offer to join Melbourne this week in preference of signing with Sydney. Garcia admits Melbourne intend taking maximum points from this weekend’s meeting between the clubs but the veteran says avenging Neill’s decision is not a motivating factor. “It’s more about us getting the points and trying to get back into the six, that’s more important than the Lucas issue I think,” Garcia said. “I think us getting the points is more the objective.”
Melbourne may have home ground advantage over Sydney but Garcia recognises he and his teammates will have to be wary of a Sky Blues outfit which is also in finals contention. “The fact they are on a good run and they are doing quite well at the moment, their confidence will be high,” Garcia said. “We’re not that far off it and that’s the beauty of the league. It’s so tight - you look that Glory beat the Mariners the other day, so top can beat bottom, bottom can beat top – that’s fantastic about the league. We’re in that mix so we just need to push on and be confident and be consistent.”
With Josip Tadic sidelined, Garcia says he and fellow West Australia Eli Babalj are beginning to spark. “He’s definitely added something to the side, I think he’s getting stronger and stronger every week, his fitness is getting better,” Garcia commented. Against Newcastle Jets last weekend Garcia provided an inviting cross which Babalj turned onto the upright, had the effort gone in it could have changed the game. “I’m sure he’ll get a few more goals under his belt before the season ends,” Garica added. “We need the whole squad so it’s fantastic to have everyone fit and raring to go.”
CONSISTENCY IS THE KEY SAYS NEWCASTLE’S TAGGART
Newcastle Jets striker Adam Taggart intends making a big impact in the run to the A-League finals. Taggart joined Newcastle over the off-season from Perth Glory in search of regular game time, however, the arrival of former England international Emile Heskey has restricted the 19-year old to only a handful of outings this summer. The situation is made all the more complex by Taggart’s selection in the Socceroos squad for late last year’s East Asian Cup qualifying tournament in Hong Kong. That left Taggart in the curious position of scoring goals for the green and gold before he had netted one in the A-League for his club.
With goals hard to come by at Newcastle, coach Gary Van Egmond added Taggart and veteran Michael Bridges to an attack led by Heskey and Ryan Griffiths. That combination reaped a 2-0 win over Melbourne Heart on the weekend and Van Egmond is leaning towards retaining the same line-up this Friday night against Brisbane Roar. “I don’t think I can complain,” Taggart said of his extended stint on the sidelines. “I have been away a lot (with representative duties) and I didn’t expect I would come straight into the side. If you don’t get selected you just have to work harder and when your opportunity comes you have to take it with both hands.”
Taggart has done everything he possibly could to push for a starting spot. A National Youth League hat-trick against Melbourne Heart was followed by an eye-catching display off the bench against Western Sydney Wanderers leading his promotion to the first eleven on the weekend. “I think it is about trying to get some consistency to try to force your way into the squad,” said Taggart. “You can’t just have one or two good weeks you have to keep pushing each week so it leaves Gary with and the coaching staff hard decisions to make for the weekend. That is what they want and the whole club wants.”
WARD PLANS FOR A FULL HOUSE IN SYDNEY
Perth Glory midfielder Nick Ward is relishing the prospect of tackling an in-form Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday. Parramatta Stadium has been transformed into an atmospheric fortress in the Wanderers debut A-League season, but Ward says the partisan home crowd will provide inspiration rather than intimidation. “I love to play in front of big crowds and it should be a good spectacle. I spoke to (Wanderers defender) Nikolai Topor-Stanley the other day and he said that they're expecting a sell-out,” said Ward, one of the stars in last weekend’s surprise defeat of Central Coast Mariners. “If we stick to our game plan and play like we did at the weekend, we’re in with a chance. And if we can silence their crowd as well, that’ll be good.”
The methodology employed by new coach Alistair Edwards has already made a positive impact upon the player group according to Ward. “Alistair got me and everyone else in the team doing their jobs last weekend and it seemed to work really well,” he said. “With the structure that he brought in, you’re not really running around getting in other people’s way. Everyone’s in their own space and it makes you a bit calmer on the ball. There’s a lot to learn, but we’ve got a good squad with some great players who have been around the world and are intelligent players, so we are picking up what he’s saying and we’ll get better each week.”
BEADLING FIRING AGAIN AFTER LENGTHY ABSENCE
A family holiday to England three years ago has sent young defender Tom Beadling heading down the path towards Sunderland’s first team. Beadling, a first-year scholar at the Academy of Light, grew up in England where he entered Sunderland’s academy at the age of ten. When his family emigrated to Perth a few years later it looked as though the A-League would feature heavily in Beadling’s future, however, a return to England has meant another change of tact for the 17-year old. “We came back (to England) on holiday and didn’t plan to stay, but we ended up remaining here,” Beadling told safc.com. “It’s strange to think that things could have worked out totally differently.”
Beadling achieved a lot during his brief two-year stay in Perth. Some eye-catching displays for the National Training Centre were rewarded with State Under-13 selection, and that in turn led to the teenager captaining Australia at the Festival of Football in Malaysia in 2009. Even so, there was still a period of adjustment to go through when he returned to Sunderland. “It was strange coming back and getting used to the pace of the game over here, so it took me a while to readjust,” Beadling explained. “But once I got back into it, it wasn’t a big problem and obviously I knew all the lads and the coaching staff already.”
A swift progression through the ranks at Sunderland was brought to a sudden halt in December 2011. “My back was stiff and getting progressively worse, so I went for a scan and they told me I had a double fracture of the spine,” said Beadling, who misses a total of 11 months of football. “I was worried it might cause a problem and I ended up out for almost a year, which was a nightmare. It was hard when the scholarship started because all the other lads were getting into it and going out training, and I was stuck inside … Knowing I’d get back at the end of it was what kept me going.”
Beadling never lost faith and last month made his first appearance of the season in the Under-18’s 4-1 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers. Recently called up to the Under-21 squad, he is using his experiences while injured to help push on over the remainder of the season and into the 2013/14 campaign. “I think the injury gave me extra motivation,” he said. “During all that time sat inside, I was telling myself I needed to push harder when I came back and I have done that. Now I want to play as much as I can over the remainder of the season, try and win some games and keep pushing.”
GLORY COACHING CHANGE A BIG POSITIVE FOR WEST AUSTRALIAN TALENT SAYS LAZARIDIS
West Australia’s favourite football son, Stan Lazaridis, is hopeful the coaching appointment Alistair Edwards and Gareth Naven will bring about a greater focus on local talent. Lazaridis, who played for Floreat Athena before embarking on a decade plus professional career in which he represented Australia 60 times, has backed call for return to the days of Glory looking in their own backyard when it comes to player recruitment. “I think a lot of the Glory fans would like to see more Perth products in the line-up,” Lazaridis said. “If you look at some of the locals that have left over the years it would combine for a wonderful side, which is not to take anything from the current squad.”
Glory chalked up their first win in two months on the weekend by defeating A-league leaders Central Coast Mariners. That result came just a week after Edwards and Naven succeeded Ian Ferguson, and Lazaridis is confident there is plenty more to come from his former club. “Hopefully Alistair and Gareth can get the team into the top six,” Lazaridis said. “Only a few points separate the teams chasing a finals berth, so the team is not that far away. Ally is a tactician style coach, and a real thinker. Gareth played the game for many years at the Glory and as a combination I think they will be quite good.”
INGLEWOOD PAY THE PENALTY AS PERTH TRIUMPH (with Nathan Drudi, Football West)
Perth SC remain on course to lift the Night Series trophy for the seventh time in eight years after out-shooting Inglewood United 4-3 on penalties this evening at Dorrien Gardens. Kris Gate scored in first half stoppage time to send the team in blue into the break with the lead, however, when Koji Yamada and Michael Baczynski netted in quick succession late in the second period it appeared Inglewood would be progressing to the semi-finals. Perth through had other ideas, Spencer Harris grabbing a dramatic 92nd minute equaliser before prevailing in the shoot-out which followed.
A bumper crowd was on hand to watch Perth assert the greater influence with Daniel Micevski and Adam Luca pulling the strings in midfield. Gate went closest to breaking the deadlock with an early strike that skimmed the top of the crossbar, while a low shot by Luca brought a fine diving save out of goalkeeper Luke Martino. As the pressure mounted Liam Boland and Daniel Micevski also had chances to put Perth in front without success. The breakthrough arrived two minutes into stoppage time when Logan Crawford’s lofted through-ball was controlled by Gate before the attacker fired into the net to give Perth a deserved lead.
The central influence of David Perich allowed Inglewood to get more traction after the break. Yamada came off the bench to restore parity in the 75th minute and soon after Baczynski delivered a sublime chip into Jason Saldaris’s net to put Inglewood in front. It appeared that would be the end of the scoring when, with 92 minutes on the clock, Spencer Harris surged inside the 18-yard unmarked to head past Martino and send the game to the penalty spot. Perth booked a round of four appointment by converting each of their four spot kicks, whereas misses by Perich and Yamada mean Inglewood will now refocus their energies on the approaching league campaign.
Perth coach Mauro Marchione said the game should have been over as a contest at the break. “We had four chances to score before we got the first goal and we could have closed the business. The second half didn’t start the way it was supposed to, we made stupid mistakes,” said Marchione, who was nonetheless pleased with the way his team rallied late. “The moment we went down I saw a team playing together. To have this kind of unity this early in the season, it is a great thing.” Perth will meet Cockburn City in Saturday’s semi-final at Litis Stadium with the winner progressing to the tournament decider.
SPOT-ON BAYSWATER THROUGH TO SEMIS
Defender Patrick Quinn scored the deciding goal as Bayswater City emerged 10-9 victors from a marathon penalty shoot-out with Floreat Athena this evening at Percy Doyle Reserve. A tight first half ended with Bayswater in front courtesy of Steve Burton, who made no mistake from the penalty spot. The game opened up after the break but it wasn’t until deep in stoppage time that Bobby Wilson broke through to send the game to the penalty spot. The teams went goal for goal, and miss for miss before Quinn booked Bayswater a semi-final outing with Armadale next weekend.
Bayswater hit the ground running with an early shot at goal coming from Brian Farrell. Burton was next to threatened but lifted over the crossbar after being played through with only goalkeeper Brad Eiffe to beat. That miss was forgotten in the 19th minute when Burton blasted in from the penalty spot after a harsh handball decision went against a Floreat defender. Floreat were struggling to find holes in a well-organised defence, and on the few occasions they did break through were met by the safe hands of Gianni Papalia. Eiffe kept the difference to a single goal at the break with a stunning save to keep out Andy Reale’s long-range thunderbolt.
A noticeable increase in Floreat’s tempo ensured the second half would be a different story. Team captain Mark Pritchard was within inches of bringing the sides level early on with a superb free-kick which kissed the wrong side of the post. A lively performance from Benny Kovadio kept the opposing backline on high alert, while at the other end of the park Farrell’s close-range attempt was brilliantly blocked by Eiffe. The final whistle was just moments away when a corner to the far post fell to Wilson whose volley from only a few metres meant the game would be settled from the penalty spot.
Speaking post-game, Bayswater coach Chris Coyne expressed his frustration at being denied a late substitution as Floreat prepared for the corner from which Wilson scored. “I don’t like slating referees, I was just a bit disappointed that I never got the opportunity to make the substitution I wanted,” said Coyne, whose focus remains on guiding Bayswater to the pre-season trophy. “It’s disappointing to concede late on but it made for an exciting game and hopefully it puts a few more bums on seats next week It might be the Night Series but it’s a competition, it’s there to win.”
KUPPUSAMY SENDS ARMADALE INTO LAST FOUR
Ravi Kuppusamy celebrated his first start of the year by grabbing a match-winning double in Armadale’s 3-0 Night Series quarter-final defeat of Mandurah City at Percy Doyle Reserve. It took only 17 minutes for Kuppusamy to open his account, and when the striker added a second goal soon after the interval the game was effectively over. Mandurah suffered a further blow with the straight red carding of Gerrad Burke midway through the second half, and although Armadale had the benefit of an extra man it wasn’t until the closing stages that Rhys Loxley was able to capitalise with a third goal.
The tone was set for a physical encounter from the outset with each team putting in some over-zealous challenges which, ultimately, would see five players booked, one sent off and several others lucky to escape punishment. Playing with the benefit of a strong breeze, Armadale’s dominance of the first half was absolute. Kuppusamy opened their account after 17 minutes by heading in unmarked from a couple of metres after Mandurah failed to respond to a near post corner. And there would have been further goals had it not been for wayward finishing and some desperate defending.
Armadale’s lead was doubled four minutes after the break when Kuppusamy sent a penalty awarded for a soft handball decision past goalkeeper Matt Hamnett. Any hopes Mandurah had of clawing their way back into the game vanished with the 66th minute red carding of Burke for his inexcusable stomp on Loxley. Although Armadale continued to probe for openings, there was a considerably drop in intensity as they stroked the ball around waiting for a way through to present. In the final minute of regulation time Loxley cut in from the right, beating his marker in the process before finishing into the bottom corner.
Kevin Brophy, assistant coach at Armadale, was happy with the result but saw room for improvement in the performance. “The team’s still developing and isn’t where we want to be just yet, and we know we’ve got more to offer. Having said that, the second half against the wind could have been a problem for us but we handled it well and kept their chances at a minimum,” said Brophy, who is looking forward to being the underdogs in next weekend’s semi-final with Bayswater City. “We’ve got nothing to lose, so we’ll be looking to get something out of the match against the odds.”
EASY WIN FOR COCKBURN
Newly-promoted Cockburn City went through to the last four of the Night Series courtesy of a comfortable 3-0 win over Stirling Lions in this evening’s late game at Percy Doyle Reserve. Aiden Da Luz struck just before the break with an early second half penalty conversion by Paul Lloyd effectively putting the result beyond doubt. Nick Carroll snuffed out any thoughts Stirling had of a late comeback by adding a third goal for the Cockerels midway through the second period. “This was our first game against a Premier League side (this year), so I’m pleased with the result,” Cockburn coach Scott Miller commented.
Chances were few and far between in a tight first half dominated by the respective defences. Ian McMurray was put through one-on-one with Stirling goalkeeper Aleks Vrteski, who took the pace off his opponents shot then collected the ball as it rolled towards his net. Gareth McGlynn returned fire with a vicious strike that Dejan Aleksic just managed to tip onto his crossbar. Half-time was just a few minutes away when hesitant defending allowed Da Luz to fire through a crowded 18-yard box and into the bottom corner of Vrteski’s net.
A the second half had barely started when referee Joe Fusari somewhat harshly whistled for a foul on McMurray as he contested a cross with Dennis Galan, and with the resultant penalty kick Lloyd doubled Cockburn’s lead. Stung into action, Stirling immediately set about finding a goal of their own but neither Phil Arnold nor substitute Anthony Lyons were unable to find a way past Aleksic. The sealer arrived on 70 minutes when Carrol forced a quick turnover before clipping goal over a stranded ‘keeper. In the closing stages Lloyd was twice thwarted by Vrteski while Scott Bulloch’s long-range drive was just wide.
Miller acknowledged the passing game employed by his team was exactly what he has been working on. “We try to play possession with purpose. There’s no use knocking the ball around the back four all day so we look to really get in the opposition half to create clear-cut chances which we saw today,” said Miller, whose team will meet Perth SC in the round of four. “It’s great we’ve got through to the next round and are playing another Premier League team, the longer we can stay in this competition, the more time it saves me from having to organise games each weekend.”
EDWARDS PRAISES GLORY BELIEF
Perth Glory boss Alistair Edwards sung the praises of his players following last night’s surprise defeat of A-League leaders Central Coast Mariners. Goals by Travis Dodd and Shane Smeltz allowed Glory to come-from-behind and claim victory from Edwards’ first game in charge, and at the same time snap a two-month winless streak. “What a great game of football, I really enjoyed it,” Edwards said. “You saw two top quality teams, it was an intriguing battle, but I couldn’t be prouder of the players. I said it to them as soon as I walked in to the club that we’ve got a great bunch of players in the change room.”
Edwards was understandably happy with how his side responded to his first week in the coaching hot seat. “We worked on a few things during the week and it was really pleasing to not only get the three points but the performance,” said Edwards, who took up the coaching reins following the departure of Ian Ferguson early last week. “As the game progressed we just got stronger and stronger. And the fact that we really stuck by the game plan, keeping possession as things were opening, enabled some top individual performances from the team.”
One of those strong performances came from midfield veteran Liam Miller. Edwards revealed he is keen to use former Republic of Ireland international in a more advanced role than the one he previously played under Ferguson. “The way we are looking to play is to get people like Liam as far forward and supporting Smeltzy as much as possible,” explained Edwards. “You don’t really want a player of Liam’s capabilities picking the ball up at left and right back.” Nick Ward also turned in an energetic display in the middle of the park with Michael Thwaite solid at the back.
The win jumps Glory into eight place and keeps alive their hopes of making the end of season play-offs. Edwards, who was part of four finals campaigns as a Glory player, believes his team’s style of play will be important over the coming weeks. “It’s not only about rolling the sleeves up and getting stuck in, it’s about the insight, when to do things, when not to do things. I’m now looking over the last six games, hopefully more, to see the ones who can fit into our way of playing because you can see that we tried to keep the ball as much as possible to open things up.”
GLORY YOUTH SURGE INTO TOP FOUR
Perth Glory Youth have leapt into fourth place in the National Youth League with this afternoon’s 4-1 defeat of Melbourne Victory at Intiga Stadium. After a tame start to the game, Mattias Cordoba showed his class by calmly side-footing in a slick Matthew Davies cross from the right after 28 minutes. The hosts lead was double five minutes after the break when Adrian Zahra converted a Brandon O’Neill cross to the back post. Borbor Sam added another on 78 minutes with Slobodan Vulin netting in a goalmouth scramble soon after to seal the win. Andrew Mullett grabbed Melbourne a consolation goal shortly before the final whistle.
GLORY TOPPLE LEAGUE LEADERS
Caretaker coach Alistair Edwards has tasted immediate success with Perth Glory by guiding them to a 2-1 win over A-League leaders Central Coast Mariners this evening at Perth Oval. The visitors’ Bernie Ibini struck first before Travis Dodd and Shane Smeltz found the net to secure Glory a memorable come-from-behind victory. “I couldn’t be prouder of the players,” Edwards said after the game. “It was really pleasing to not only get the three points, but to put on a good performance. We controlled the game for large parts, particularly in the second half.” Although the win snaps Glory’s two-month winless streak, they still have plenty of work to do over the final six rounds if they are to make the finals.
The home side started brightly and could have been ahead early when Chris Harold’s angled strike beat goalkeeper Mat Ryan but was wide of the near post. At the other end, Ibini fed the competition’s top goalscorer Daniel McBreen whose left-foot shot was tipped over by Danny Vukovic. Central Coast went in front on 13 minutes, Ibini calmly slipping the ball through Vukovic’s legs after McBreen nicked possession from Steve McGarry. It took only 14 minutes for parity to be restored as Nick Ward clipped a superb ball over the defence for Dodd, who took one touch before slotting past Ryan. McBreen then wasted an great opportunity to restore the visitors’ lead by spooning over the crossbar after being given too much space by the Glory defence.
Josh Risdon went within inches of scoring his first A-League goal on the hour with a vicious long-range strike which rattled the woodwork. Moments later Risdon again pushed down the right to deliver a wonderful cross which was met by a powerful Smeltz header into the far corner despite Ryan getting a hand to it. Now in the unfamiliar position of chasing the game, Central Coast offered little in respond to a Glory side brimming with energy. Liam Miller should have further increased the home team’s advantage but headed wide after being found unmarked by Dean Heffernan. The final opening saw substitute Ryo Nagai fire over after turning Pedj Bojic inside out while driving down the right flank.
SMELTZ SAYS IT’S TIME TO STEP UP
Striker Shane Smeltz is lost for reasons as to why Perth Glory has gone from Grand Finalists to A-League cellar dwellers in just ten months. Glory have not won in two months and are scoreless in their last four games, and Smeltz knows he has a big role to play if that trend is to end. “We have had similar squad and the same coach as last year and we looked to improve for the next season and for whatever reason we have gone the other way,” Smeltz said. “I think confidence is always an issue when you’re at the bottom of the table for any player and that’s when strong characters will come out. I like to look to myself as an experienced player in this group. We need players to stand up and I’m one of those.”
Smeltz believes Glory have what it takes to get the better of table toppers Central Coast Mariners this evening. “Everyone here is hurting and is feeling frustration,” Smeltz said. “The only way we’re going to change that is by going out and putting things right. We have seven games to go and we haven’t given up and I think this week is the first step. The table doesn’t lie, they have been really good. We have to focus on ourselves but in saying that we understand facing the best team is a hell of a task. Every time you play against them they play the same way, they know each other so well. Alistair has his own thoughts on how we can deal with that and we have a few things we are working on to combat that.”
NIGHT SERIES PREVIEW
The business end of the 2013 Night Series commences with Sunday’s quarter-final showdown between trophy holders Perth SC and Inglewood United (5.00pm) at Dorrien Gardens. For Inglewood defender Shaun Kilkelly the occasion takes on added significance as it’s his first outing against the club at which he played three seasons. “It will be weird going into the away change rooms but we’ve got to approach it as any other game,” Kilkelly said. “I’m pretty confident we can get a win, we have five ex-Perth players who will definitely be up for it and I’m sure all the other boys in the side are as well.”
Bayswater City striker Damien Catalano is looking forward to finally meeting top flight opposition in the form of Floreat Athena (7.15pm) in the late game at Dorrien Gardens. “We haven’t played a Premier League team yet and Floreat is very strong, so it will be a good test to see where we are at,” said Catalano, scorer of six goals in his teams’ three group games. “We had some great battles with Floreat last year and I’m sure Sunday will be another game to remember.” Paul McCarthy and Gustavo Giron-Marulanda back in contention at Bayswater, however, a hamstring twinge has put Todd Howarth on the sidelines.
The venue for the two other round of eight games is Percy Doyle Reserve where Stirling Lions take on Cockburn City (7.15pm) in the late game. Stirling boss Doug Hesketh is still missing defender Kyran Nunes (ankle) and Clayton Arnez (holiday) but otherwise has a full complement of players to choose from. “We have a great squad of young experienced players who have demonstrated they want to win every game, so we are looking forward to this challenge,” Hesketh said. After utilising 25 players in Cockburn’s three group games, coach Scott Miller’s biggest dilemma will be limiting his selection to only 16 for Sunday afternoon.
Preparing for the coming league season is Mandurah City’s sole focus when they meet Armadale (5.00pm) in the other round of eight game. “It’s going to be hard for us against a well-drilled side like Armadale, especially as we haven’t been training for that long,” commented Mandurah’s assistant coach Tom Kilkelly. “We will be using the game to test our players in pressure situations, for us it’s all a learning curve for our new squad in the way we want them to play.” Armadale attacker Ravi Kuppysamy is in line for his first start of the year but teammates Jason Pottier and Ian Maguire remain sidelined.
MOTIVATED GLORY READY FOR LEAGUE LEADERS
A change of coach and a positive week on the training track has renewed Perth Glory’s hopes of pushing into the A-League finals. Glory host A-League leaders Central Coast Mariners tomorrow evening at Perth Oval in the first game under their new coaching team of Alistair Edwards and Gareth Naven, and midfielder Travis Dodd believes the duo’s arrival has had a galvanising effect on the playing group. “Its motivation for the players to try and prove themselves to the coach and prove to ourselves that we can still play good football,” said Dodd. “Everybody’s on their toes and playing for a spot in the eleven again. It’s been a really sharp week in training and everyone’s been really focused.”
Dodd, who will make his 370th national league appearance if selected tomorrow, revealed Glory have spent much of the week working on a new formation and approach to the game. “We’ve really worked on our structure and our organisation going forward,” he said. “We need to make sure that our movement off the ball is right and get the right players into the right attacking areas. For me personally, that might be about not tracking back every time but using my pace and ability to get forward and attack more and for players like Liam (Miller) to be used in a more attacking role to help influence the play and create opportunities for Shane (Smeltz).”
Central Coast have lost only twice this season but such an imposing record doesn’t concern Dodd. “The Mariners are a stand-out team in the competition who are consistently up in the top two. Their organisation defensively and their ability to counter-attack are definitely their main assets,” said Dodd. “We need to have a balance and not have seven or eight men going forward leaving them gaps to exploit in behind and we’ve worked on trying to have that cover in midfield to stop those counter attacks. If we can individually complete our tasks and complete the team tasks at the same time, that’s what is going to win us games and get us into the top six.”
WILLIAMS ON HIS WAY TO GILLINGHAM
League Two side Gillingham have completed the signing of Ryan Williams on a one-month loan. Williams, 19, heads to Gillingham in search of first team football after finding opportunities at Fulham, who he joined in January last year, hard to come by. “Ryan is positive, can open up defences, is fast, direct and is a good player,” Gillingham boss Martin Allen commented. An Australian under-20 international, Williams played locally with ECU Joondalup prior to entering the academy set-up at Portsmouth, for whom he gained six fist team appearances last season.
CONTERA TO LEAD BALCATTA
Balcatta have ensured continuity by promoting Saul Contera to first team coach role for the coming season. Contera was an assistant to Michael Roki, who recently stepped aside for family and work reasons, during the past few seasons and is understandably thrilled with his appointment. “Landing my first senior coaching role is a massive achievement for me,” said Contera, who at 28 is the youngest coach in the State League. “It has probably has come a little sooner than I had envisaged simply due to circumstance, but in saying that I am ready to grab the opportunity with both hands and continue the fine work which Michael Roki has been doing.”
Contera admits to feeling honoured to have worked alongside Roki, initially as a player and more recently as his assistant. “His guidance and influence has been crucial to my development over the past eight years, and especially in the past two seasons when he gave me a more hands on role within the side and some added responsibility,” Contera commented. “The biggest thing I will take from Roks is his excellent man management skills which are a very big part of today’s football and a key reason in why he has done so well as a coach. I’ll still be in regular contact with him so he won’t be too far away from things.”
Familiar with his clubs’ set-up and players, Contera expects Balcatta to be amongst the frontrunners for regular season honours this year. “We have got a very competitive and talented squad, any coach would be happy to work with the guys we have down at Balcatta,” he said. “There are some aspects of last season we want to improve on, specifically to half the number of goals conceded and eliminate silly errors from our game, and with some extra work planned on shape and structure I don’t see why we can’t be a top four side. The boys know that we have high expectations and the buzz around the club is very good.”
PAVLOVIC ON TOP OF INDONESIA
Rugged defender Jovo Pavlovic is making quite the impression on Indonesia’s Super League. Signed last month by Mitra Kukar, Pavlovic was not only quick to establish himself in the clubs first eleven but has also been an integral figure in their rise to the top of the league. “Things are going great for me and the club at the moment,” commented 24-year Pavlovic, who counts fellow West Australian Anthony Skorich amongst his teammates. “The club have been great, I've settled in very well we are playing some good football and we are sitting top of the table after six games.”
Mitra Kukar claimed outright leadership of the Super League on the weekend by downing fellow pacesetters Gresik United in a game watched by millions on Indonesian television. “It was a massive, we shared equal points going into the game so we were playing for top spot,” commented Pavlovic, who was outstanding in the centre of defence. “We did well and managed to grab a 3-1 win in front of a big crowd. Our side looked very good. We have quality foreign players and six Indonesian players that have played many times for the national team so it’s safe to say we have a strong team.”
Pavlovic was a regular starter at Balcatta last year prior to his September departure to link up with Bosnia side Borac Banja Luka. Unfortunately, his stay at the club didn’t go according to plan. “My time at Borac was good, it was a great experience,” said Pavlovic, whose State League career has included spells with Swan United, Bayswater City and Floreat Athena. “I played with some quality players at Borac and became a much better player after my time there. But my future is here in Indonesia and I’m looking forward in helping Mitra Kutar this season.”
Pavlovic admits the recent arrival of Skorich has helped his transition into life in Indonesia. “When I first arrived they put in a big house and I was living by myself. But then Anthony came a few games into the season and has helped me settle in big-time,” commented Pavlovic, whose biggest fans lives in Perth. “My mum, Kosa, has always been a huge supporter. She watched all my junior and State League games but hasn’t seen a game in Indonesia as yet. She is planning on visiting me soon and to watch a live game, she’s being watching games on live stream as much as she can but it’s not the same.”
Of more immediate concern to Pavlovic is Sunday’s home outing against eight-placed Persita Tangerang. “We have a lovely stadium and great fans, so it’s always good to play there. We need to keep going the way we have and not take out foot of the pedal,” Pavlovic said. “We are strong at home so we shouldn’t have any problems grabbing a result. Our home crowds are around the 10,000 mark, there was more before a bridge collapsed so now fans and players have to catch a ferry to get to the stadium. But the fans are wonderful and make a noise like there are 20,000 of them.”
EDWARDS LOOKS BACK TO TAKE GLORY FORWARD
Perth Glory caretaker coach Alistair Edwards hopes a lesson in the club’s rich history can bring about a change in the team’s playing fortunes. The former Socceroos striker took his first training session with Glory yesterday and wasted no time making it clear who was in charge with a vocal display. Edwards was appointed coach until the end of the season on Monday after Ian Ferguson was sacked following a poor run of results. Edwards and his assistant, inaugural captain Gareth Naven, are delving into their clubs as a way of showing the current crop of players what is possible.
Edwards and Naven, who share just under 300 games experience in the National Soccer League, hopes a greater appreciation of Glory’s past can give the team they boost they need ahead of Saturday’s home game with league leaders Central Coast Mariners. “I’m going to be doing some sessions with the boys and one of those is a bit of history of the club,” Edwards said. “I’ve got some video footage from way back in the good old days. We’re going to plant the seed just to show the players how it was previously and why the Perth public love football so much, and why the Perth public love Perth Glory.”
Edwards is well aware of the club’s need to reconnect with the West Australian football public, and one way of doing that is to be playing an attractive brand of the game. “I’m going to remind the guys that the theatre is the field and we’ve got to go out there and perform,” Edwards said. “At the end of the day it’s all about the product. No one likes a losing team and no one likes to watch it. We know how much football means to the State and no one likes to see the team losing. If we get the product right, which we had previously, then they will come.”
NATIONAL PREMIER LEAGUE LAUNCHED IN SYDNEY
Football Federation Australia has taken the first steps towards formalising a second tier of football with the launch of the National Premier Leagues. A key component of the National Competitions Review, the National Premier League is to be phased in across the nation over the next two years, replacing the top level of football in each state. Under the model, the season in each state and territory will commence in March and finish in September with the winners meeting in a finals tournament to determine the national champion. It is envisioned that a system of relegation and promotion to the A-League will eventually be included, while a national cup is on the agenda for 2015.
To gain entry to the National Premier League clubs must apply to the local federation, who will run the competition, and meet selection criteria. The criteria includes a requirement for each club to have a qualified technical director and adherance to a player points system designed to encourage youth development. Clubs will also benefit from improved financial and business planning schemes along with a revised compensation system for players that join A-League clubs. The National Premier League will be rolled out in Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania this year, with Western Australia, Victoria and Northern New South Wales coming on board in 2014.
SHARE THE GOAL (with Ashley Morrison, Not the Footy Show")
Since ending their playing days Perth Glory’s new coaching team of Alistair Edwards and Gareth Naven have spent much of their time developing young players. Both have gained a great deal of respect in football circles for this work and so it will be interesting to see how many youngsters at Perth Glory are given more game time than they previously received. Five or ten minutes at the end of a game, often one being chased, does a young player very little good in terms of development. With Glory’s finals hopes slim at best, one wonders what brief has been given to Edwards and Naven for the final seven games of the season.
Edwards and Naven are in an unenviable position if they have not been given clear indication as to what is expected. It would be acceptable if they have been told results are not as important as the younger members of the squad receiving increased game time as the club moves towards next season. But if they are expected to make wholesale changes, win games and make the finals then they have a tough time ahead of them. Whereas the club has to say the finals are still a goal whilst mathematically possible, it would be good if the club’s loyal fans were advised as to the aims for the next seven games.
If Edwards and Naven are given the reins for next season - which does seem unlikely considering a “worldwide search” is to be conducted for the new coach - it will be interesting to see how many West Australian boys they can lure back across the Nullarbor. When one looks at the talent from this state playing in the A-League - Mark Birighitti, Tando Velaphi, Lewis Italiano, Josh Risdon, Scott Neville, Trent Sainsbury, Sam Mitchinson, Storm Roux, Jack Clisby, Brent Griffiths, Cameron Edwards, Nick Ward, Brandon O’Neill, Blamo Qua Qua, Eli Babalj, Richard Garcia, Jesse Makarounas, Chris Harold, Ndumba Makeche and Adam Taggart - Glory could have a pretty strong line-up in 2013/14.
WE NEED A HOME FOR FOOTBALL: EDWARDS
New Perth Glory coach Alistair Edwards has thrown his support behind the push to build a ‘Home of Football’. Football West are spearheading a campaign ahead of next month’s State election in the hope that key policy makers will commit funding for a new administrative base and purpose-built training centre. Local youngsters have excelled in the National Training Centre and Glory Youth programs but for that to continue Edwards says improved facilities and a shared-knowledge centre is vital. “If football is really serious about things we can’t be driving around in a Ferrari looking for a place to park,” he said. “We’ve got to have a place to call home.”
Edwards has made clear his intention to make better use of the local talent pool, however, the former Socceroo is concerned all the good work of Kenny Lowe (NTC) and Gareth Naven (Glory Youth) could be stifled in future. “We have an opportunity to be among the best in the world,” Edwards said. “There are a lot of people who have a lot of passion for football in this state and we want it to prosper. We want State League teams to improve, we want player development to be good and we want Perth Glory to be on top. That can’t happen if we haven’t got the infrastructure.”
Edwards, who has worked for the Department of Sport and Recreation and was also a Cockburn City councillor, said improvements in the games’ running should make politicians more comfortable with funding commitments. “Not long ago the game didn’t really have its’ act together. But at Football West now, under the stewardship of (chief executive) Peter Hugg, the game has made great strides,” he said. “I’ve just got back from Northern New South Wales where they’ve got bipartisan support for a Home of Football, so it’s happening in other places … every other sport is getting it and every other state is doing it. Now we need it.”
PLAYERS HAVE ACCEPTED THEIR ROLE IN FERGUSON’S DEPARTURE: BURNS
Perth Glory captain Jacob Burns says the players have shouldered some of the responsibility for Ian Ferguson’s departure. Ferguson and his assistant Stuart Munro were dumped by club owner Tony Sage yesterday after a horror run of results that have left Glory slumped at the foot of the table. Glory, who only ten months ago played in their first A-League Grand Final, have not won in eight games and have failed to find the back of the net in their last four. Former club stalwart Alistair Edwards was installed as interim coach until the end of the season with ex-teammate Gareth Naven his assistant.
Sage said an underperforming squad was the chief reason behind Ferguson’s departure, an assessment Burns agreed with. “Absolutely, we’re in it as a group,” Burns said. “Often when results aren’t going the right way, a manager falls on his sword and he’s the first to go. But we’re well aware as a playing group that we’re not where we want to be with our performances – we hold responsibility for that as well. It’s not something that sits well with me. You never want your own reputation or the way you’ve been playing to come under any kind of criticism but I think it’s rightly so with where we’re sitting at the minute.”
HAWKINS JOINS SWEDISH GIANTS
Perth Glory Women defender Carys Hawkins has been snapped up by Swedish giants Sunnana SK. Hawkins, a 24-year old ‘veteran’ of five W-League campaigns, is understandably thrilled with the prospect of another stint in one of Europe’s top women’s leagues after playing for Umea Sodra last year. “It feels awesome, I’m so lucky to be here,” Hawkins told footballwest.com.au. “I believe the style of play is much different to what I’m used to, last season (in Sweden) was great as I had an opportunity to develop in different areas of my game. Also being in a new environment helped me identify strengths and weaknesses and I was able to use the ample time that I had to work on them.”
Hawkins also took time to reflect on Glory Women’s recent season, which ended in semi-final heartbreak to Melbourne Victory. “Losing the way we did was just the worst,” Hawkins said. “To be on the field for that long in such heat and to lose in such a way is really devastating. My grandma always thinks penalties should never decide a game, there should just be a rematch or further time added and I think she may have a point … If I’m given another opportunity to be part of it (the Glory Women line-up) next season, I’m sure I’ll take it. If the team next year has the same attitude and focus, we can undoubtedly win it.”
GLORY IN CARETAKER MODE AS EDWARDS TAKES OVER
One-time Australia striker Alistair Edwards has taken the reins of Perth Glory following today’s departure of Ian Ferguson. Edwards, who will have Glory’s inaugural captain Gareth Naven as his assistant, has been given two months’ leave by Football Federation Australia from his role as coach of the national Under-17 team to take up his first A-league posting, albeit in caretaker mode. Club owner Tony Sage has promised to launch a worldwide hunt for a new boss in June, but until then it is Edwards who is in charge. “It’s a fantastic club and one of the biggest clubs in the A-League with a fantastic history,” said Edwards, who played 93 games for Glory between 1998 and 2002.
Edwards tipped his hat to Ferguson, who just ten months ago guided Glory to the Grand Final. “It just goes to show the perilous nature of football,” Edwards said. “It’s never a good situation when a fellow professional coach loses their position. The first call I made was to Ian because obviously I wanted to thank his as his contribution to the A-League and Perth Glory has been immense. We discussed that as a playing group and we are really looking forward to moving forward but we should all acknowledge publicly the contribution that Ian has made to the game. He is a man of great integrity and I feel for him.”
Edwards, 44, is just the second West Australia to be appointed head coach of Glory after Gary Marocchi (1997-1999). A junior with Kwinana United, he spent a season with Scottish club Rangers as a teenager before a brief spell back in Australia at Sydney Olympic. Spells with Tyrwhitt (Singapore) and Millwall (England) were interspersed with spells in the Malaysian league with Selangor, Johore and Sarawak. Along the way Edwards gained 19 ‘A’ appearances for Australia, scoring three goals. Since retiring in 2002 he has worked with the national men and women's youth teams as well as the National Training Centre. Edwards current posting is with the Joeys, Australia’s Under-17 side.
Perth Glory have parted company with coach Ian Ferguson following a poor run of results which has slipped them to last in the A-League. Club owner Tony Sage confirmed Ferguson’s departure this morning, saying the decision was by “mutual consent” after Glory managed to collect only two points from their last eight games. “We’re an elite football team in this State (and) being bottom of the ladder doesn’t help us,” said Sage. “To be bottom of the ladder with the team that we have assembled is just not acceptable. He (Ferguson) is a man of integrity and with everyone questioning his ability, he decided it was time to quit.”
Sage refuted Ferguson’s recent comments that Glory was underfunded this season. “I don’t agree with that,” Sage said. “He had the full support of finances. He assembled his squad by June 30 - the squad cost $3.2 million, the salary cap is $2.5 million so I can’t understand a comment like that. I take that as slight on the club. If you go to at least five clubs, they pay underneath the salary cap, and we were $700,000 over the salary cap. We did have a few players leave about the same time as something happened to me and I just wanted to put everything on hold until that situation was resolved.”
That “something” included Ferguson’s revelation of Sage’s heart condition which the mining tycoon had wanted to keep private. “I wasn’t happy," Sage added. “It’s a private matter about my situation, I didn’t want it to be public. I go in for a procedure tomorrow and the doctor says I could be running by next week. That’s how simple the procedure is and I didn’t want that to get out in the public domain. I was pretty upset (but) that had nothing to do with what happened today.” Former Glory striker Alistair Edwards has been appointed caretaker coach until the end of the season.
IT’S GREAT TO HAVE BABALJ BACK: ALOISI
Melbourne Heart would have thought they’d seen the last of young gun Eli Babalj after he packed his bags for Europe last year. However, after a shortened stint with Serbian club Red Star Belgrade and a couple of appearances with the Socceroos, the 20-year old striker’s return may just be the spark Melbourne need as they push for towards the A-League finals. “It’s great to have Eli back,” said coach John Aloisi after watching Babalj score in Melbourne’s 2-0 defeat of Perth Glory on the weekend. “His contribution last season was outstanding and his hunger to do well and succeed is second to none.”
Babalj turned out just six times in as many months for Red Star before Melbourne exercised their right to recall the striker when the Serbian club failed to deliver the final portion of his transfer fee. And although he has made only three appearances for Melbourne, Aloisi has seen enough to know Babalj’s best is yet to come. “When he first arrived two weeks ago you could see he was a bit down on confidence,” commented Aloisi. “He hadn’t played a lot of football. But that goal (against Glory) is going to give him a huge boost. He’ll keep on improving and we’ll keep working on his game.”
BUNBURY MAKE AN EARLY EXIT (with Al Martin, Football West)
Bunbury Forum Force has been eliminated from the Night Series after scrapping out a 1-1 draw with third tier side Fremantle Spirit at Hyundai Stadium. Outgoing coach Mickey Cairns blamed poor finishing for Bunbury’s early exit from the tournament, saying the result should have been well and truly in the bag by half-time. “The game could have been over after 20 minutes if we had taken our chances,” said Cairns, who steps down from coaching for work reasons. “But take nothing away from their (Fremantle’s) back four, they were excellent.” The split points mean Bunbury finish second to Mandurah City in Group B.
The tone of the first half was set early with Nathan Tosum clipping just high of the target. Bright Ababio was providing much of Bunbury’s drive going forward and on a couple of occasions looked like breaking through. However, a resilient defensive effort by Fremantle ensured the teams would head in for the break just as they’d started. The deadlock wasn’t broken until the 83rd minute when new recruit Paulo Pacitti capped an impressive performance by sending the ball past Jamie Oakley. The game was deep in stoppage time when Oliver McGee equalised with a towering header.
STEADY AS SHE GOES FOR MANDURAH (with Al Martin, Football West)
Mandurah City eased into the knock-out stage of the Night Series by thumping long-time rivals Rockingham City 5-0 on a warm evening at Hyundai Stadium. Trevor Laure struck early to have his former club on the ropes before Rockingham’s plight worsening with goalkeeper Phil Herschell putting into his own net. Second half finishes by Matt Stares, captain Craig Young and Laure sealed Mandurah victory along with a quarter-final appearance against Armadale next weekend. “I coached there for five years and get on well with all the Armadale football community so it will no doubt be a special occasion which I’m looking forward to,” Mandurah coach Billy Russell commented.
Laure capitalised on a promising start by Mandurah by clipping a half-volley over Herschell and into the net after only 6 minutes. Rockingham wasted no time in returning fire but Connor Price’s angled strike flashed across ‘keeper Matt Hamnett and beyond the far post. But otherwise the first half was fairly uneventful, Mandurah holding the bulk of possession with Rockingham hitting on the counterattack. The only chance on goal of note was a Daniel Brockwell header which clattered into the Rockingham crossbar. That said, Mandurah were gifted a second goal on the stroke of half time when Herschell spilled a cross which came to rest in the back of his net.
New signing Gerrard Burke and the fresh legs of Craig Simms were the inspiration behind a much improved second half performance from the host team. Stares found an avenue to goal ten minutes after the restart to make it three-nil. With Burke causing no end of problems down the flanks and Young running the rule in the centre, it would only be a matter of time before Rockingham conceded again. And that’s exactly what happened after 70 minutes with Young sending the ball past Herschell for the fourth time. Laure put the icing on Mandurah’s in the final minute of regulation time by heading in from a well-flighted Burke corner.
LATE SURGE GETS KNIGHTS OVER THE LINE (with Chris Andrawes, Football West)
A trio of late goals have allowed Western Knights to get the better of Fremantle United 3-0 from a close encounter at Dalmatinac Park. Knights boss Robbie Dunn was pleased with his team’s second half first half, highlighted by goals from David Caine, Dean Thurston and Brendan Craig in the final twenty minutes, but admitted post-game that the outcome could have been very different. “I thought they played well, they got numbers behind the ball and they gave us a bit of a scare in the first half. They probably should’ve gone one up to be honest,” Dunn said. “We tried a few new players to have a look at them, and then when we got a few regular players back into the middle of the park (in the second half) it started to change a little bit.”
Fremantle’s high pressure tactics caused their opponents to continually concede possession in a first half that featured very few genuine chances on goals. The best of those came when Angus Vos played the ball over the top of the Knights defence for Maddy Holman whose shot came back off the post after flashing past goalkeeper Alfie Brincat. The opening stages of the second period followed much the same pattern as the first with both teams negating the other. That changed on 69 minutes when Caine prodded the ball in during a scramble deep inside the 18-yard box. The Knights second goal arrived in similar circumstances after 87 minutes, this time Thurston getting the decisive touch, with Craig’s stoppage time tap-in capping the win.
COCKBURN FIGHT BACK TO TOP GROUP (with Chris Andrawes, Football West)
Coach Scott Miller endured a frustrating first half before Cockburn City finally kicked into gear to record a 4-2 win over Canning City this evening at Dalmatinac Park. Cockburn secured their place in the Night Series quarter-finals by twice coming from behind against a well-organised Canning line-up. “They played really well, they’re easily the best team we’ve played (so far),” said Miller, before expressing concern over Cockburn’s performance. “Especially in the first half there was no combinations, it was probably the worst first half we’ve had. But the boys are trying to do what we’re doing in training and until we start to get a bit of communication it’ll take a while to get it together.”
Canning was first on the scoreboard in the 20th minute when Josh Findlater stabbed past goalkeeper Jack Adams after several team mates attempts were blocked. Paul Lloyd brought the sides level ten minutes later by sending Steve Grant the wrong way. The seesawing nature of the game continued with Daniel Niederberger sliding in Canning second goal only to have Keiran Stallard restore parity soon after. Cockburn went ahead for the first time via Lloyd, who smashed into the bottom corner six minutes out from the break. The result was made safe early in the second half when Grant got his hand on but was unable to keep out Gibson’s powerful header from a Jack Eades’ corner.
SIX IS NOT ENOUGH FOR BAYSWATER’S COYNE (with Nathan Drudi, Football West)
A 6-1 drubbing of a nine-man Swan United was not enough to please new Bayswater City coach Chris Coyne this evening at Wotton Reserve. Bayswater overpowered their Division One opponents with Steve Burton scoring twice amid goals from Todd Howarth, Gustavo Catarcione, Brian Farrell and Damian Catalano, however, Coyne felt his players had more to give. “We could have scored another five or six, that is not being disrespectful to Swan but I was not happy with the performance”, he said. “The lads know it is not acceptable and they’re a bit disappointed that they didn’t do better. Everything we worked on during the week did not come into fruition and we didn’t have the application.”
Swan drew first blood after 13 minutes when Mark Miraudo’s free-kick into the 18-yard box led to a mix-up in the Bayswater defence, allowing Michael Italiano to tap in. Unfortunately for the black and whites, that was as good as it got. Howarth restored parity just a minute later, and when Catarcione put Bayswater ahead the writing was one the wall. The dismissal of Terry Monastra after 36 minutes was further punished when Burton tucked away the resultant penalty kick. Swan came out from the break determined to make something of the game but their hopes ended when Nick Tatasciore was sent off on 67 minutes. Bayswater struck three times in the next ten minutes, via Burton, Farrell and Catalano, to run out comfortable winners.
VAN ROOY SPIES ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT AT MORLEY (with Nathan Drudi, Football West)
Morley Windmills coach Jason Van Rooy was far from impressed with his team’s performance in this evenings 2-1 win over Quinns at Wotton Reserve. Daniel Lombardi and Andy O’Neill looked to have put Morley in a comfortable position but a late revival, highlighted by an Arran Maplestone goal, kept Van Rooy on edge until the final whistle. “We let them come back and it became a dangerous game,” said the coach. “I am happy with the final result, but not the performance. We have things we have to work on as against quality teams we will get punished. We didn’t make the most of our opportunities, we have to capitalise and have to put teams away.”
A scrappy first half was played out for the most part in the middle third of the park where the constrant turnover of possession meant neither team was able to assert their authority. Morley made the most of their scattered chances after 24 minutes when Lombardi slotted past goalkeeper Anthony Cochrane. O’Neill managed to double his teams’ advantage by putting away a pinpoint cross from Daniel Cagorski on 59 minutes. Quinns were handed a way back in soon after but Gareth Hamilton’s spot kick was kept out of the net by ‘keeper Daniel Agudelo. Maplestone made amends with fifteen minutes to go by tapping in, however, despite a late surge an equalising goal evaded the team from the far north.
SORRENTO POWER AWAY FROM TEN-MAN KINGSWAY
An experimental Sorrento outfit have come from behind to see off Kingsway Olympic, 5-1 in this evening’s twilight game at Intiga Stadium. Kingsway held the advantage at half-time thanks to Kevin White, however, the dismissal of Aaron Lickiss just before the break ensured a very different second half in which Todd Harnwell netted twice along with Jared Love, Matt Allen and Gavin Knight. “We didn’t play very well,” stated Sorrento boss Paul Price, who wasn’t overly concerned. “There are only maybe three of four players who will start the season for us, so given that I’m not too concerned about the performance.”
With David Calder and David Ashworth running the midfield it was Kingsway that started brightly, Abel Mwpande crashing a shot into the upright after 8 minutes. Their positive outlook was rewarded on 19 minutes when David Sinclair’s centring ball was met by White whose header from 14-metres gave goalkeeper James Morgan no chance. Having taken the lead, Kingsway were quick to resume the attack thanks to some incisive balls out of midfield by Calder. The game was well into first half stoppage time when Lickiss was harshly shown a straight red card after bringing down Todd Harnwell, with Anthony Salpietro saving the resulting penalty kick taken by Knight.
A triple substitution by Price, which saw Allen, Steve Kidd and Simon Harland enter the action after 57 minutes, finally sparked Sorrento into life. A minute later Todd Harnwell complemented some fine work on the right by stabbing in the equaliser. Love put his team in front on 67 minutes when his penalty kick, awarded for a foul on Todd Harnwell, came to rest in the net after ricocheting of the upright. Barely a minute had passed when Allen arrowed into the bottom corner from 23-metres. Allen then turned provider for Todd Harnwell’s second goal as well as Knight’s 79th minute effort which rounded out the scoring.
Post-game, Kingsway coach Ian Cowan was left to ponder what might have been. “I think if we had kept eleven players on the park we would have probably beaten them because it’s very, very hard to play against anybody with ten men,” commented Cowan, who had nothing but praise for his players. “There is a huge amount of positives you can take from that game, I thought we played really well in the first half. We took our chance well and took the game right up to them and it didn’t look like a Premier League side against a Division Two side.”
INGLEWOOD THROUGH TO LAST EIGHT (with Kelechi Osunwa, Football West)
Inglewood United secured top spot in Group G with a hard-fought 3-1 defeat of second tier Ashfield at Intiga Stadium. Goals from Matt Danskin, Alex Caniglia and Ryan Clarke were countered only by Jamie Burns second half finish. “We made hard work of it but they made us work hard as well, they are a good outfit,” winning coach Graham Normanton said. “(I’m) pleased with the result, not the performance. We could be a whole lot better, and we needed to be a whole lot better. We were lucky to get the first goal, I don’t know what happened as I didn’t even see it really.”
The ball had been in motion just 5 minutes when goalkeeper Matt Weyell inexplicably failed to respond to a rolling ball, the end result of Danskin winning a strong challenge in midfield, which ended up in the back of the Ashfield net. It became two-nil just sixty seconds later, Caniglia cutting on from the right to curl in a lovely left-footer which Weyell could do nothing about. Caniglia almost added another with a miss-hit cross which rattled the crossbar having caught the ‘keeper out of position. Ashfield worked their way back into the game and would have pulled a goal back before the interval if not for a fine save by Luke Martino to deny Burns.
Burns made amends ten minutes into the second period by reacting quickest to a long ball which he then slotted Martino, giving Ashfield hope of comeback. As the half progressed the Division One side looked increasingly likely to grab a second goal, however, a combination of poor finishing and a loss of focus entering the final third meant Martino would not be breached again. The game was made safe on 66 minute when Clarke made the most of some lax marking to head in from Daniel Thompson’s quickly taken corner. The result means Inglewood, who completed the group phase with three straight wins, will meet Perth SC in next weekend’s quarter-finals.
GRIGO SCORES TWICE AS JOONDALUP BOW OUT
ECU Joondalup’s Night Series commitments came to a close with this evening’s 3-1 defeat of Sunday League side Joondalup United at Litis Stadium. Summer recruit Monty Grigo gave Joondalup the perfect start by cutting in from the left to unleash a low shot past goalkeeper Willy Powley after 7 minutes. The sides went in for half-time level courtesy of a 43rd minute penalty conversion by Gary Andrews. The State League side regained the upper hand six minutes after the restart, Tony Taylor heading in from close-range after meeting Tommy Jones’ pin-point cross. The game was made safe on 74 minutes when Grigo gave the ‘keeper no chance with cross-come-shot which few into the top corner. Neil Middler’s dismissal for a second yellow card offence with just a few minutes to go only added insult to injury for the amateurs.
KOVADIO INSPIRES FLOREAT
A Benny Kovadio hat-trick highlighted Floreat Athena’s 7-1 thrashing of Division One side Shamrock Rovers in the late game at Litis Stadium. Chris Rizidis opened the hosts account early with Ludovic Boi doubling the difference just after the quarter hour. Kovadio beat goalkeeper Justin Scarvaci for the first time after 35 minutes, repeated it just before the break then added his third in the 54 minute. Mark Pritchard made it six-nil soon after with Ben Wantee coming off the bench to completed Floreat’s haul. With six minutes to go Dan Corbett grabbed Shamrock’s solitary consolation.
MELVILLE TRIUMPH IN GOAL-FEST
A four-goal first half paved the way for Melville City to claim victory to the tune of 5-3 over Forrestfield United in the final round group game at Alfred Skeet Oval. Off-season recruit David Palin grabbed a brace with Aiden O’Reilly, Matt Donlevy and Blake Readwin also on target to earn Melville their second win of the Night Series. “We were delighted with how we started the game, we were playing some lovely two and three-touch football,” said Melville’s assistant coach Gavin Brown. “We took our foot off the gas towards the end of the half though and were disappointed to concede, and we were really frustrated with our play for the majority of the second half.”
Early indications were of a one-sided affair, Melville hitting the back of the net four times without answer. The flood of goal commences after just 4 minutes with O’Reilly guiding the ball inside the upright following a short corner move. Eight minutes later Donlevy got on the end of a low cross and curled into the top corner of Matthew Zappacosta’s net. Readwin made it three-nil after 22 minutes and when Palin added another eight minutes later it appeared as though the game was over as a contest. However, Forrestfield had other ideas and shortly before the break Ben Frazer pulled a goal back.
Mwansa Musonda kept his nerve in a one-on-one with ‘keeper Elliott Duncan to further reduce the deficit after 72 minutes. Soon after, Rob Chipchase gave Forrestfield further reason for hope by bringing it back to single goal difference. The momentum was now well and truly with Forrestfield who continually asked questions of their opponent’s defences. Chipchase found the net again but this time his efforts counted for nothing due to an upraised flag. Melville eventually made the game safe against the run of play with Palin netting his second goal with four minutes of regulation time to go.
ARMADALE SCRAPE PAST GOSNELLS (with James Mooney, Football West)
Armadale moved through the Night Series quarter-finals after out-gunning eastern corridor rivals Gosnells City 1-0 in a tight encounter at Alfred Skeet Oval. Despite the win, courtesy of a Chris Holland goal midway through the first half, Armadale’s coaching staff was far from impressed. “Pretty disappointed in the way we played today, especially in the second half,” assistant coach Kevin Brophy commented. “We wanted to get the ball and dictate them (but) we made eight changes again and it’s hard to get continuity.” The three points allowed Armadale to leapfrog over Gosnells into top spot in Group A and set up a round of eight meeting with the winner of Group B, which will be decided tomorrow night
The first half was played at breakneck pace as the two side sides searched for an early breakthrough. It arrived on 21 minutes when Chris Holland’s header from just inside the 18-yard box looped over young goalkeeper Struan Herd and dropped into the net. The goal did nothing to slow the game with Armadale focused on adding to their advantage whereas Gosnells set about conjuring an equaliser, which would have been enough to put them into the play-offs. A nail-biting second half was filled with chances at either end of the park, Daniel Chadderton and Alan Darlington going close for the team in red whereas going in the other direction Ali Paredes and Sean Taylor placed past the post.
AS IT WAS FOR WINLESS GLORY
Melbourne Heart has condemned Perth Glory to their fifth consecutive defeat with this afternoon’s 2-0 triumph at AAMI Park. Nick Kalmar opened the scoring with a superb first-half free-kick before Eli Babalj doubled the advantage from a goalmouth scramble shortly after half-time. Coach Ian Ferguson, who side are last in the A-League and winless this year, admitted post-game that owner Tony Sage would have a fair case to end his tenure at Glory. “I’m big enough and ugly enough to know that my job is about results,” Glory coach Ian Ferguson said. “I’ve got another year on my contract left but, if Tony came and patted me on the shoulder tomorrow and said I was fired, then there’s nothing I can argue with.”
After a fairly innocuous opening, Glory almost broke the deadlock after 19 minute when Shane Smeltz capitalised on a defensive error but was unable to find a way past goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne. That miss was magnified four minutes later when Kalmar’s stunning dead ball effort curled over the defensive wall and into the net via the crossbar. Soon after, Babalj pounced on a loose ball inside the 18-yard box only to be denied twice by ‘keeper Danny Vukovic. Glory had a golden opportunity to restore parity in the 33rd minute but Liam Miller failed to connect cleanly with Chris Harold’s cross. David Williams forced Vukovic into another diving save which was pushed over the bar as the half came to a close.
Kalmar stepped up to another free-kick soon after the interval but this time his shot was deflected just wide by the wall. Babalj made the most of the resultant corner with a precision finish from a scramble near the spot that Vukovic had little chance of saving. Glory was struggling to create in front of goal, as evidenced when substitute Ryo Nagai mistimed his shot. Melbourne continued to go forward with Jonatan Germano and Dylan Macallister each calling Vukovic into action. Appeals for a Glory penalty on the 90th minute were dismissed by referee Alan Millner, who appeared to miss Patrick Gerhardt handle the ball in his attempt to block a shot.
ZAHRA STARS AS GLORY YOUTH UPSET LEADERS
First team attacker Adrian Zahra played the starring role when Perth Glory Youth upset top-of-the-table Central Coast Mariners 3-1 in this afternoon’s National Youth League encounter in Tuggerah. The visitors were out early to take a 5th minute lead through Slobodan Vulin, who benefitted from the lead-up work by Zahra. Matthew Davies looked destined to add a second goal soon after but his shot was against the post. This woke Central Coast from their slumbers and had it not been for Glory Youth custodian Jordan Franken then Brad McDonald, Nick Fitzgerald or Anthony Caceres would have levelled.
Glory Youth doubled their lead nine minutes after half-time, Zahra chipping replacement goalkeeper Daniel Sadaka. The sides then traded attempts on goal but each lacked quality in their finishing. The difference was halved on 70 minutes when McDonald drilled a shot past Franken, who thwarted the home attack as they search to equalise. Ndumba Makeche sealed victory in the 84th minute, and should have had another soon after but blasted high from the penalty spot after being fouled inside the 18-yard box by Brent Griffiths. The three points lift Glory Youth into seventh spot, three points outside the top four.
ANOTHER EASY WIN FOR PERTH
A couple of rapid-fire goals from Craig Tone laid the foundations for Perth SC to register a 4-1 win over UWA-Nedlands, and secure progression to the knock-out stage of the Night Series. Yoann Claudot and Matt Izzo were also on target for the Blues who completed the group phase with a perfect win record, however, coach Mauro Marchione isn’t about to get carried away with his teams’ early success. “Considering the team on the pitch, with a very young side, (we’re) satisfied (with the performance),” Marchione said. “On the other hand, losing concentration after 25 minutes kept them in the game … this is one thing (we have) to assess.”
Perth was on the attack from the get-go with early chances on goal coming the way of Josh Pereira and Tone. With 20 minutes on the clock Josh Wilkins surged down the right wing before cutting the ball back into the path of Tone who had little difficulty tapping into the net. A quickly taken Adam Luca free-kick five minutes later again put the ball with Wilkins whose low centre was tucked away by Tone for a two-nil lead. UWA didn’t hit back until six minutes from half-time when captain Steve Purton converted a fairly soft penalty awarded for a push on James Plowman. Perth goalkeeper Jason Saldaris ensured his team entered the break in front by pushing Purton’s drive away from the top corner.
It took just four second half minutes for Perth to add a third goal with substitute Claudot punishing some poor defending by springing inside the 18-yard box and finishing smartly past goalkeeper Duncan Lissiman. By utilising the full width of the park Perth continually opened up their opponents’ defences but a loss of focus meant the ball was all too often given away within sight of goal. That trend was broken with five minutes to go when the tireless Wilkins provided substitute Izzo with the easiest of finishes following an overlapping run down right. A minute later UWA stalwart Lee McKay was issued his marching orders for a two-footed tackle on Stefano Valentini.
Post-game, UWA coach Andy Dickinson had mixed feelings about the efforts of his players. “The result doesn’t bother me at all, it’s what we did and didn’t do on the pitch that bothers me. But some boys need to get a wake-up call that we will be playing in a different league,” said Dickinson, whose team swept their way to the Division Two title last year. “Today was about character. I think certain players played well and showed a lot of character and did what we asked of them before the game, and certain players didn’t. Fair play to Perth, the better team on the day won, but unfortunately we gave them too much respect.”
BALCATTA FAREWELL ROKI BY HITTING EIGHT
Premiership winning coach Michael Roki was given a rousing send-off with Balcatta thrashing Subiaco AFC to the tune of 8-0 in the early Group H fixture at Dorrien Gardens. Ashley Rosindale and Simon Versaico helped themselves to a hat-trick each with substitute Geneveo Human and Jarrad Smith also finding the back of the net in Roki’s last game at the helm. “There were some good signs throughout of the match, we controlled the game from start to finish and closed it out well with a clean sheet,” said Roki, who steps aside for family and work reasons. “I don’t particularly like stepping away on the eve of the season proper, but I believe the current squad will be an extremely competitive one in 2013.”
After a relatively uneventful start the game burst into life midway through the first half with Balcatta putting away a trio of unanswered goals. The opener came on 18 minutes when Smith’s quickly taken throw found Rosindale, the striker turning his marker and cleverly lifting over the defence for Callum Roberts to race away before squaring to Versaico, who had the simplest of tap-ins. Two minutes later a quick breakaway allowed Moe Atak to hit a sublime pass down the left for Rosindale to expertly chip goalkeeper Tom Barratt from 22-metres. Subiaco were unlocked for a third time in the 27th minute as Rosindale tricked his way into the 18-yard box, beating two defenders then rounding the ‘keeper before unselfishly squaring for Versaico to net.
The flood of goals continued nine minutes after the break, Anton de Franchesc darting past two opponents on his way down the flank before centring for Rosindale to curl into the top corner from 18-metres. Versaico completed his hat-trick by running onto an Adam Tong pass which he took past Barrett to finish from an acute angle in the 65th minute. Sixty seconds later Human capped a lovely flowing team move started in midfield by putting away Balcatta’s sixth of the evening. Rosindale made no mistake from the penalty spot on 77 minutes to complete his haul. And with two minutes to go Rosindale claimed his third assist with a perfectly weighted cross that Smith sent into the back of the Subiaco net.
POINTS SHARED IN GAME OF TWO VERY DIFFERENT HALVES
Wanneroo City coach David Tough was content with his team’s efforts in this evening’s 1-1 draw with Dianella White Eagles at Macedonia Park. A Ray Maloney strike midway through the first half gave Wanneroo the advantage before Irish import Roby Pholey struck with just under 20 minutes to go in a physical and at times bad-tempered game. “I thought we dominated the first half, the second was pretty much theirs,” Tough said. “We had a number of players who were making their first competitive start for Wanneroo, or who haven't played much football in the last six months so things like match fitness and understanding is going to take time.”
The opening 45 minutes was controlled by Wanneroo with Guy McDonald involved every time they went forward. A defensive splitting pass by Guy McDonald put in the clear Jordan Dodd but goalkeeper Tom Dixon intervened as he was about to pull the trigger. Dixon also pushed away Anthony Jones’ goalbound header from a well-flighted corner by Guy McDonald. Wanneroo’s persistence paid off in the 20th minute, a great exchange between Guy McDonald and Darren Coleman allowing Maloney to burst through the defence and finished low into Dixon’s net from 14-metres. And the half-time margin would have been much greater had Wanneroo been able to make something of the combined efforts of Guy McDonald, Coleman, Maloney, Chris Pugh and Brad McDonald.
Some tactical and positional changes gave Dianella a renewed sense of purpose for the second half. With Andreas Theodosiades and Simon Barber having a greater say, it was Wanneroo who were now under pressure. Abdul Sesay was within sight of goal on several occasions but each time lacked the finishing required to beat goalkeeper Kevin Miller. Wanneroo were hitting on the counterattack and through such a move Ross Edwards found the net only for it to be disallowed for offside. The teams were eventually brought level on 71 minutes when Dianella debutant Pholey was in the right place at the right time to tuck the ball in at close-range. Both sides set about finding a winner but scrambled defending denied each the final result they were after.
STIRLING STIFLE BY DEFENSIVE JOONDALUP
Stirling Lions came from behind to earn a 1-1 draw with a resilient Joondalup City side in the late game at Macedonia Park. Lucais King had Joondalup one-nil up midway through the first half but the teams would enter the break on level terms thanks to Jason Gavin. And while Doug Hesketh’s fashioned numerous chances to claim victory they were unable to open up the Joondalup rear guard. “They had eleven men behind the ball, but we have the quality in our side that should be able to unlock that,” said Hesketh, who will take his team to the training track three times this week in order to work on their finishing.
Pre-match expectations of a one-sided game looked like being spot-on with Stirling quick to take the upper hand. Scott Bulloch’s quality centre was begging for a team mate to tap into the net, and it was a similar story when Alex Grayson clipped a quality ball to the far post. So it was against the run of play that Joondalup went ahead on 22 minutes, a turnover in midfield and Adam Miller’s clipped pass over the defence released King to lob advancing goalkeeper Aleks Vrteski. But that lead lasted all of ten minutes before Bulloch swung a delightful free-kick into the 18-year box where it was met by the head of Gavin, who steered the ball into the far corner of Drew Jenke’s net.
The second half was pretty much one-way traffic with Dean Evans the architect of wave after wave of attack by Stirling. But even with the majority of their players behind the ball Joondalup had to work overtime to frustrate their hosts. A fine strike by Bulloch looked destined for the back of the net before Jenke moved to keep it out. Anthony Lyons crashed a shot into the upright not too long after entering the action while Jenke was called upon to deny Matt Harold, whose first touch off the bench was a crisp volley. With the final roll of the dice Evans was played through one-on-one with Jenke, who was relieved as his opponents shot rose over the crossbar.
Not surprisingly, the mood of Joondalup coach Gary Kalaher contrasted sharply with that of his counterpart. “Tonight the discipline was absolutely first-rate. In terms of players doing the jobs assigned to them, and everyone following the game plan, they couldn’t have done it better,” said Kalaher, who had an inkling Joondalup would be in for a torrid time prior to kick-off. “When we saw the team sheet at the beginning of the game we saw they had a very strong side out. We knew we were going to spend a lot of time without the ball and we set the team up to deal with that fact.”
NIGHT SERIES PREVIEW
The qualification stage of the Night Series comes to an end this weekend with all eight quarter-finals places still in the balance. The action commences on tonight at Dorrien Gardens where Group H leaders Perth SC require just a point from their meeting with UWA-Nedlands (8.30pm) in order to progress. “We are still a work in progress as a team but we are gelling together after six weeks of the pre-season,” said Blues coach Mauro Marchione. “We have performed well to date and we hope to continue that tonight.” Subiaco AFC will fancy their chances of upsetting Balcatta (6.30pm) in the early game.
Wanneroo City’s hopes of sneaking into the play-offs hinge on claiming victory over Dianella White Eagles (6.30pm) at Macedonia Park. “We’ve not beaten Dianella while I’ve been coach,” stated Wanneroo’s David Tough. “We’ll be making changes to the starting line-up so most of our senior squad will receive game time. I’m really happy with our squad, I feel this is now my side as I’ve signed players to fit our system and formation.” Group D leaders Stirling Lions are confident of gaining the point they need against Joondalup City (8.30pm) to go through to the tournament’s next phase.
The match of the weekend takes place on Saturday when joint Group G leaders Inglewood United and Ashfield (8.00pm) meet in a winner-take-all affair at Intiga Stadium. “It will be very hard game for us and the boys need to be at 100% if we are to get anything out of it,” said Inglewood assistant coach Bobby Despotovski. “Ashfield so far have proved to be team to beat in our group, they playing a very attractive attacking style of football and scoring a lot of goals.” The early fixture brings together Sorrento and Kingsway Olympic (6.00pm) with both still looking for their first point of the tournament.
Group A will be settled on Saturday by the winner-take-all meeting between Armadale and Gosnells City (8.00pm) at Alfred Skeet Oval. Ian Maguire misses the game with an ankle ligament injury, however, Andrew Bowyer and Chris Holland have been added to the Reds list. Melville City takes on Forrestfield United (6.00pm) in the early game at Alfred Skeet Oval. ECU Joondalup are without Tommy Amphlett, Jon Stripe, Shaun Timmins, Matt Italiano and goalkeeper Andy Banks for their derby with Joondalup United (6.00pm) at Litis Stadium. A Floreat Athena win against Shamrock Rovers (8.00pm) at that same venue will seal their participation in the round of eight.
Bunbury Forum Force midfielder Matt Lock knows his team needs to better Fremantle Spirit (5.00pm) on Sunday at Hyundai Stadium in order to progress. “We are confident we can get a result we want,” Lock said. “We have a full squad to choose from so the coach, Micky Cairns, will have a good look at everyone in training and see if anyone deserves to pushed into the squad for Sunday night.” Mandurah City, who are level with Bunbury on points, must win big against Rockingham City (7.00pm) if they are to end the qualify stage on top of Group B.
Joint Group F leaders Bayswater City and Swan United go head-to-head at Wotton Reserve (5.00pm). Goals have been flowing freely for Bayswater in pre-season and it’s difficult to see their campaign coming to a close this weekend. The early game brings together host club Morley Windmills with third tier side Quinns (7.00pm). The final round of Group C games opens with Western Knights up verses Fremantle United (5.00pm) at Dalmatinac Park. Coach Scott Miller will continue to experiment when Cockburn City go in search of the solitary point they require against Canning City (7.00pm) to finish on top of the table.
SMELTZ IN, JAMIESON OUT
The return of striker Shane Smeltz has given Perth Glory a timely boost ahead of their meeting with Melbourne Heart tomorrow. Smeltz has missed the last two games with a hip problem but after a strong week on the training track the New Zealand international has been included in this weekend’s travelling party. “It’s been a little bit of a struggle in terms of getting my body right this season,” Smeltz said. “It’s really nice to be back and it’s an important stage for us now, this run home. We’ve got eight games to turn things around and we’re really looking forward to this game.”
Unfortunately, not all the news is good from the Glory camp with a foot injury putting Socceroos defender Scott Jamieson on the sidelines with midfielder Jacob Burns. Jamieson, one of few shining lights for Glory this season, missed training earlier in the week due to bone bruising in a foot and was omitted from the squad which flew to Melbourne this morning. He is expected to return next week but for the time being joins Burns on the injury list, the Glory captain still troubled by a back injury that has kept him out of action for the past fortnight.
HUGG WANTS MORE DETAIL BEFORE MOVING ON NPL
Football West will not be rushed into implementing the National Premier League in Western Australia. An initiative of Football Federation Australia, the National Premier League (formerly the Australian Premier League) will effectively replace the top flight of State League football in each state with entry to the competition based on clubs meeting a set of criteria. Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania will be the first cabs off the ranks when they launch their conferences this year while Western Australia, Victoria and Northern New South Wales are expected to followed suit in 2014.
While supportive of the concept, Football West chief executive Peter Hugg believes the National Premier League is not quite ready for implementation. “We’re still finding out so much about the NPL,” Hugg told ‘Let’s Talk Football’. “Football West made the decision on behalf of the clubs not to participate this year in the best interests of the clubs in the State League and the sport in WA. I don’t think the FFA and the NPL is ready, I can’t say with my hand on my heart to my board, my staff and the clubs that they know what is happening.”
Hugg feels there are currently a few too many unknowns surrounding the National Premier League. “They’ve (FFA) asked us to buy into a concept which I think is risky, and I know all about it as I sat in on the National Competitions Review,” Hugg added. “The intent is there, the desire is there and it’s a great concept. But right at his point in time there is no document, there is no discussion paper, there is no business plan, there is no marketing model. So if you said to me ‘Can I have a look at the document on the NPL?’, there is none.”
One thing Hugg is certain about is the 2013 Premier Division clubs will not necessarily be granted entry to the National Premier League. “(We’ll be) starting with a blank sheet with no names and no teams on it,” Hugg explained. “It won’t just be an automatic name change, the State League Premier Division will not necessarily automatically become the NPL. Clubs will need to apply, meet the criteria, commit to the criteria and be judged accordingly.” Hugg expects to learn more about the National Premier League next week when he attends a meeting at FFA headquarters in Sydney.
DANSKIN OPENS NEW CHAPTER WITH INGLEWOOD
Inglewood United recruit Matt Danskin could not be happier about being reunited with respected coach Graham Normanton. Danskin was a key component of Perth SC’s all-conquering side during the latter part of Normanton’s successful coaching reign which returned a staggering 22 trophies to Dorrien Gardens over a dozen seasons. Despite this, the right-sided defender fell out of favour with Perth’s coaching team last season, making only scattered appearances before being restricted to playing off the bench in the second half of the campaign. So when his former mentor came knocking, Danskin willingly answered.
Danskin initially met with Normanton at the end of last season, and from there discussions progressed quickly. “Graham could see that I was being messed about at Perth. There was an opportunity for him to recruit a few experienced players and build a bigger squad at Inglewood, so when the season was done and dusted he told me what his plans were,” Danskin explained. “I’ve settled in at Inglewood really well. The player group is a great mix of youth and experience. Everyone is really hungry to work hard, improve, listen and learn and enjoy it all at the same time.”
The key to Normanton’s success is a strong desire to truly understand his players and his honesty. “Graham takes the time to integrate players into the system his team plays,” Danskin commented. “He learns what makes each of his players tick, and therefore you have everyone pulling in one direction. He also encourages his players to step outside their comfort zone, knowing how much you have to give, build and improve. And if something needs saying Graham will look you in the eye and tell it as it is … he’s not the sort to text at 1pm on Saturday to tell a player he is on the bench.”
Danskin is one of more than a dozen senior players released during the off-season by Perth. “In football some things don’t make sense and to offload than many quality experienced players who have put more trophies in the cabinet than any other in State League history is definitely one of those,” he said. “I played with some of the best players this state has produced and we all complimented each other. We were mates off the park and all had a sense of pride in our performance, especially in the big games … but there were definitely a couple more trophies to come.”
Having made a smooth transition into life with Inglewood, Danskin is tipping big things from the club in 2013. “Anything less than an improvement on the fifth place gained last season would be disappointing,” he stated. “The squad is bigger than last year with some experienced players coming in, and there are some really promising young players pushing the bar for the older players to step up. We’ll take it game-by-game, demanding the best out of each other and we’ll see where that takes us, ultimately to a championship in the next few years.”
BURGESS FLYING HIGH IN AMERICA
Goalkeeper Harrison Burgess rates his recent season in the American college system with Mount Mercy University as the best of his young career. Mount Mercy ended the Midwest Collegiate Conference in second place, losing just once in the home and away series, with Burgess’ efforts between the posts recognised with selection in the competitions’ all-stars team. “I feel I played some of the best and most consistent football of my career,” Burgess commented. “We narrowly missed out on going to the nationals, losing to Grandview in the final, and I was one of four players from Mount Mercy to be awarded All-Conference honours, which was really cool.”
Burgess, a former youth team player at Perth SC and Cockburn City, says there is no doubt his experiences over the last three years in Iowa have made him a better footballer. “I’ve developed into a much better player. Having to fight for my position has pushed me to be a much more well-rounded player, has forced me to work a lot more on my weaknesses while also still maintaining my strengths,” Burgess, 20, said. “The season runs from late August through to mid-November but still we play around 25 games, which is pretty intense. Whenever I’m back in Perth I train with Dave Whalley, and he is always making sure I’m not getting into any bad habits.”
While rightly thrilled with recent achievements, Burgess says not everything has gone according to plan since moving to the United States in 2010. “It has been a bit of a rollercoaster for me football-wise,” explained Burgess, who endured a couple of trying seasons with Iowa Central University. “I didn’t play much in my first season, which was a little disappointing. I had an injury-plagued first few weeks and was competing with four other ‘keepers, so I found it tough to come back and earn my playing position. My second season started out very similarly to the first, but I managed to turn that around by the end of the season by starting a few games.”
Burgess, who was raised in Perth’s southern suburbs, is enjoying the lifestyle offered by America’s Midwest while studying towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting. “Iowa is very different to Australia, a lot of the state revolves around the corn industry. It’s pretty nice and the people are very welcoming and friendly, especially when they start hearing my accent,” Burgess joked. “But I do miss Perth, especially my family and friends. The 14-hour time difference makes it very tough to keep in touch with everyone, even with things like Skype and Facebook.”
The coming twelve months are shaping up to be a busy period for Burgess. “This summer – winter in Perth – I’m hoping to play for a Professional Development League team, at the moment I’m looking at one club in Vermont and another in Kentucky. After that I’ll go straight back in to the Collegiate season and plan to go to the nationals for my senior year,” said Burgess, who is a little unsure when he’ll return to Perth. “I’ll have to come back once I graduate because my visa will expire, but who knows, I like here so I might end up staying for a while if I can get an extension on my visa.”
SOCCEROOS GIVE UP TO ROMANIA
Romania scored twice inside the last ten minutes to chalk up a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over Australia from this evening’s friendly in Malaga, Spain. The Socceroos looked to be in control when Luke Wilkshire and Robert Cornthwaite goals cancelled out Cristian Tanase’s first half opener. However, the tide was turned by a rash of substitutions by Socceroo’s coach Holger Osieck on which Bogdan Stancu and Gabriel Torje capitalised. “We made a couple of changes, there’s always a change in the game,” said Osieck. “This time it was at the expense of our victory but on the other hand, I think we had so many clear chances in the second half and we should have finished that off.”
The Socceroos spent much of the first half on the back foot so it came as no surprise when Tanase fired in the follow-up to Mark Schwarzer’s parry to a 36th minute Torje shot. But the sides entered the break level, Wilkshire converting a penalty awarded for a foul on Alex Brosque. Adam Federici replaced Schwarzer just after half-time, while Ryan McGowan, Rhys Williams, Nikita Rukavytsya, Mathew Leckie and Mark Milligan all entered the action as the half progressed. Cornthwaite gave Australia the lead in the 54th minute by firing in from Matt McKay’s corner. But the Socceroos failure to convert a handful of chances was punished by Stancu’s 80th minute equaliser to which Torje added four minutes later.
GLORY FINALLY GET CORDOBA
Ian Ferguson hopes new Argentine signing Matias Cordoba is the key to unlocking opposition defences as Perth Glory battles to stay in the finals hunt. Cordoba is likely to be included in the squad for this weekend’s trip to Melbourne Heart after the 28-year old was cleared to play for Glory. “He’s technically very good and he’s got good movement in him so we’re hoping that he can come into the team pretty quickly,” Ferguson said. “He retains the ball very well from what we’ve seen in training. We’re hoping he’ll chip in and hoping he’ll create and give us a little bit of what we’re looking for at the moment in that final third.” Cordoba is a former Argentinos Juniors player who has played in the United States’ Major League Soccer and the Mexican top flight.
COYNE JOINS MELBOURNE
A growing injury list has prompted Melbourne Heart coach John Aloisi to sign former Perth Glory captain Jamie Coyne for the remainder of the season. Coyne, 32, recently completed a stint with Indonesia Super League club Sriwijaya and will link up with his new team mates in advance of their upcoming home game against Glory. “Having added Eli (Babalj) and now Jamie (Coyne), and with a few guys to come back from injury, we are well-placed to finish the season strongly,” said John Didulica, the clubs football operations manager. Melbourne had top scorer Josip Tadic (toe) and young defender Sam Mitchinson (quadricep) added to their list of walking wounded yesterday, joining Dylan Macallister (adductor), Simon Colosimo (calf), Fred (quad strain) and Mate Dugandzic (foot).
FRUSTRATED THWAITE HITS OUT AT DIRECTIONLESS GLORY
Perth Glory defender Michael Thwaite has launched a stunning attack on his club, claiming it lacks direction and leadership. Two wins in 14 games have plummeted Glory to last spot in the A-League and the clubs lack of a path forward have raised Thwaite’s ire. “I’m not happy with where we are. I’d like to see a little bit more direction,” the 29-year old said. “Obviously, with all these rumours about the coach and the players leaving, I’d like to see a long-term passage for Perth Glory because they’ve been so successful in the past.”
Thwaite, who has an A-League champions medal in his possession from his days with Melbourne victory, , says last month’s departure of Bas Van Den Brink, Billy Mehmet and Jesse Makarounas, each under contract but allowed to leave without a transfer fee, further calls into question Glory’s long-term strategy. “I would have kept all three of the players that have left,” Thwaite commented. “Obviously they want to get a lot of game time and I’ve been in similar positions over in Europe and I did the same. But in terms of our best eleven, I think we could have used all three players.”
Glory’s preference for negotiating new contracts at the end of the season, rather than mid-term, is another bone of contention with Thwaite. “I disagree with that. I think it should have been done earlier. It makes the players more relaxed,” he said. “You don’t need to sign them on long-term deals like other clubs have done, but just give them some security and I think performance comes with that. But I think there’s another aspect to that psychology. Obviously you want to be performing so that you get a new contract and maybe that’s what they (the club) are waiting for.”
STORM ON THE HORIZON
Young defender Storm Roux could hardly have wished for a better start to the New Year. In the space of a few weeks 20-year old Roux has made his A-League debut for Perth Glory, been added to his club’s senior roster and is now in line to play international for New Zealand at Under-20 level. “It’s been a great few weeks,” Roux, a graduate of the National Training Centre program, admitted to footballaustralia.com.au. “The end of last year wasn’t too good for me as I had some bad luck with a few injuries and I really didn't expect to be given my debut so soon after coming back to fitness.”
Roux gained his first outing with Glory by coming off the bench shortly after the hour against Brisbane Roar, slotting seamlessly into the right-back role. “I was a bit surprised because I thought I might have been a bit more nervous. I was more excited than anything else,” said Roux, who was denied a goal on debut by a fine save from Michael Theo. “Travis Dodd dropped it perfectly for me as I was running on and I just hit it instinctively really. I surprised myself at how much power I got on it. It would have been great to score, but I was still happy with the way I played.”
Possessing a confidence beyond his tender years, Roux says he will forever be in debt to the coaching skills of Kenny Lowe and Gareth Naven. “I wouldn’t be half the player I am if it wasn’t for those two,” he said. “They are so determined to make players good with their feet and able to move the ball all the time. They just want to produce quality players who can accept the ball under pressure and play under pressure. Playing out from the back is one of their main focuses, but really they are more focused on just making a player better in every way.”
Roux’s talents have brought him to the attention of officials from New Zealand, where he lived for eleven years before moving to Perth. “I’ve been over for two camps with the Under-20s squad, and we’ve got a qualifier in Fiji coming up in March which I’m really looking forward to,” Roux said. “It’s just another great opportunity that’s come up for me in 2013. We’ve got a few boys in the Under-20s that are playing first team football with (Wellington) Phoenix and some boys who are doing well in the UK as well. When I was over there in the two camps, the squad looked pretty good."
SOCCEROOS DEBUT HIGH ON GRIFFITHS’ PRIORITY LIST
Rostyn Griffiths has set himself some big goals for the coming twelve months, including wearing the green and gold of Australia for the first time. Griffiths hopes of a Socceroos debut at December’s East Asian Cup qualifying tournament were cruelly ended by injury, but that disappointment has only increased the midfielder’s desire to play for Australia. “I think having that little taste of being involved in the national team over December has made me want to have another go at that,” the 24-year old said. “I didn’t feel like I fulfilled my potential there – obviously I got injured after the first couple of days training. I’d like to get another shot at that and hopefully get a game instead of just training.”
Griffiths’ Socceroos call-up came on the end of a standout Chinese Super League debut. He was a key in the middle of the park throughout Guangzhou R&F’s quest for a top three finish which fell unfortunately apart in the closing weeks of the campaign, the club having to be content with seventh on the final ladder. Now deep in preparation for the new season, which commences in March, Griffiths is determined to help Guangzhou make amends for that disappointment. “The club has the ambition to make the top three – definitely to make the Champions League because we were disappointed last season in letting it slip away from us,” Griffiths said. “Personally, I'd like to help the team get to that level.”
With is Guangzhou contract due to expire at the end of the season, Griffiths says he wouldn’t be averse to remaining in China. “I quite enjoy myself here and I like the lifestyle outside of football as well. It’s always busy in the cities,” he said. “Football is so short term and this Chinese deal came out of nowhere. In football a lot of things just come out of left field and then obviously you have to make the decision whether to take it. I’ll get this season under way and then I’ll start weighing up my options. I don’t know, but if I get the chance to get back to Europe again I definitely wouldn’t turn it down.”
I’M ENJOYING MY FOOTBALL AGAIN: BABALJ
Melbourne Heart striker Eli Babalj is focused on making a big impact over the closing rounds of the A-League after returning from Europe. Babalj joined Red Star Belgrade last June but when the Serbian club failed to deliver the final portion of his transfer fee, Melbourne exercised their right to recall the striker. “I’m just happy to be back playing games and enjoying my football again,” Babalj said. “As soon as I heard I could be coming back to Melbourne I was looking forward to it, coming back to an environment that I know well and enjoying my football and playing again.” Babalj made his first start of the summer in the weekend derby with Melbourne Victory having come off the bench the previous week against Western Sydney Wanderers.
SMELTZ STILL DOUBTFUL
Injured marksman Shane Smeltz is no certainty of returning for Perth Glory’s crucial away game at Melbourne Heart this weekend. The New Zealand international has missed Glory’s last two games with a groin injury and, although there has been some improvement, coach Ian Ferguson isn’t confident his star player will be available for duty. “Smeltzy’s come through two rehab sessions that have been pretty hard and intense, so we’ll just wait and see how he reacts over the next 24 hours,” said Ferguson, whose team slipped to last place with Saturday’s loss to Wellington.
The weekend loss continued a worrying trend for Glory, who have won just two of their last 14 games. Despite that grim statistic, they remain in finals contention but with eight games left to play they need to quickly turn around their form. “You don’t want to rely on other results but this week again the results went for us,” Ferguson commented. “It still leaves us in there with a massive chance with eight games to go. We’ll always have that belief that we can get there. If we can win four or five of the remaining games, we’ll definitely be in contention for the finals.”
DUNCAN MAKES MELVILLE’S NIGHT (with James Mooney, Football West)
A man-of-the-match performance by goalkeeper Elliot Duncan earned third tier Melville City a 1-0 upset victory over Armadale in the late Night Series fixture at Alfred Skeet Oval. Sasa Slavujevic’s second half strike was all that separated the teams at the end of 90 minutes but it was the heroics of Duncan, who made numerous first-class saves, that drew the praise of coach Danny Evans. “He’s a good one Elliot, I don’t want to say too much, he’s come from the ACT, he played in the Premier League over there,” Evans said. “We’ve fallen on our feet, Elliot’s been a good signing and he’s committed to the club.”
The pressure was Melville from the outset with Duncan putting wide a long-range strike by Jackson Bealey. Darren Francis’ fierce shot was kept out by a full-stretch Duncan, who soon after thrust out a leg to turn away a Rhys Loxley attempt on goal. With this pattern continuing across the first half it seemed only a matter of time before Armadale found a way through. Melville came out for the second half with renewed purpose and on 51 minutes Blake Readwin beat his man down the right to cross for Slavujevic to break the deadlock. Stung into action, Armadale searched desperately for an equalised without success before the final whistle sounded.
BRAZIL SEES ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT AS GOSNELLS GO TOP
Gosnells City surged to the top of Group A by fending off a second half revival by eastern corridor rivals Forrestfield United to triumph 3-1 in the twilight game at Alfred Skeet Oval. Ben Howe and Ali Paredes put team in blue two goals up before Muansa Musando cut deficit early in the second half. And although Gavin Brady made the game made close to the final whistle, Gosnells coach Mike Brazil wasn’t entirely happy with his team’s performance. “We lost our focus midway through the second half and allowed Forrestfield to take control for long periods,” Brazil said. “But being a very new and young squad, they will learn from the experience.”
A physical first half was ten minutes from ending when Gosnells midfielder Howe timed his shot from 18-metres to perfection, the ball rolling into the bottom corner of Daniel Morgan’s net. Goal number two arrived a minutes into the second half, Paredes allowed far too much time inside the 18-yard box to pick his spot past Morgan. Forrestfield refused to drop their heads and ten minutes later Musando was in the right place at the right time to tuck in after Ben Frazer’s shot was blocked. Gosnells were on the ropes until Brady chipped Morgan in the 90th minute to put Gosnells on the cusp of an unlikely quarter final appearance.
FIVE-STAR TRISTAO SENDS ASHFIELD TO THE TOP (with Al Martin, Football West)
Ashfield claimed leadership of Group F with a 9-0 pummelling of Olympic Kingsway in stifling conditions at Intiga Stadium. The undoubted star of the show was attacking midfielder Ruben Tristao, who found the net five times, with a Ryan Frisina hat-trick and a single to Branimir Mukiluc completing the scoreline. Ashfield coach Matt Carruthers was understandably stoked with his teams’ performance, and especially that of Tristao. “He was an important player who had a great season with us last year and I’m delighted to see him continue his run of good form,” said Carruthers.
Kingsway held their own across much of the opening half hour, enjoying a good share of possession, but ultimately the gulf in class between the team would prove telling. Tristao gave Ashfield a dream start by netting after just 6 minutes, by half-time he’d beaten goalkeeper Anthony Salpiero twice more to have his hat-trick. Frisina registered Ashfield’s fourth goal early in the second half with Mikulic adding another in the 73rd minute. A tired Kingsway offered little resistance during the final few minutes as Tristao and Frisina each bagged two further goals.
INGLEWOOD TRUMP SORRENTO IN THRILLER (with Al Martin, Football West)
Shane Pickering’s last gasp header snatched Inglewood United a thrilling 4-3 win over Sorrento from this evening’s late game at Intiga Stadium. Dannie Richman, David Perich and Alex Caniglia had the host’s in a seemingly comfortable position before Todd Harnwell netted twice and Gavin Knight once to level the game. It appeared that was the end of the scoring when 18-year old Pickering nodded in the deciding goal. “He’s got a great work ethic and plays all over the pitch,” Inglewood coach Graham Normanton said of his match-winning substitute. “We chucked him up front because we know he can be a handful and he got the service that was needed and stuck it away.”
Inglewood started with a bang, their domination of the early possession rewarded by a two goal lead at the break. The opener came on 17 minutes when Richman pounced on a rebound to fire past goalkeeper James Morgan. And seven minutes later Perich’s shot from distance made its way into the net, albeit with the aid of a deflection off defender Jamie Harnwell. It looked as though the game was effectively over a couple of minutes into the second half when a Caniglia thunderbolt from 18-metres soared inside the left upright, giving the Sorrento ‘keeper absolutely no chance.
Sorrento, however, had other ideas and six minutes later Todd Harnwell lashed into the top corner from 22-metres. The gap was further reduced in the 74 minute with Knight firing past Francis Soale from the penalty spot after a foul on Ryan Pearson. Parity was restored four minutes later, Todd Harnwell evading his marker to head in. The pace now quickened noticeably as the ball was scurried from one end of the park to the other with neither team looking likely to score. Having entered the action on 89 minutes, Pickering needed just sixty seconds to make his mark by ghosting in at the back post to head in the match winner.
Sorrento coach Price was understandably disappointed at seeing all his team’s hard work undone by an lapse in concentration in the final moments. “The fight back was brilliant and for the last 20 minutes or so we looked the fitter side and could quite easily have nabbed the winner ourselves, a draw would have been a fair result,” said Price. “The first half score line flattered our opponents, particularly given the nature of the deflected second (goal). But we can have no complaints about their third in the second half which was a terrific strike.”
ROKI TO LEAVE BALCATTA
Premiership winning coach Michael Roki will part company with Balcatta at the end of the Night Series. Roki, who guided Balcatta to the top of the Premier Division in 2011, cited a combination of work and family commitments behind his decision to stand aside. “Work and family are the first priority and that means its football that has to take a back seat whenever the first two come calling,” Roki explained. “Right now I need to step back from coaching to deal with a few personal and work issues but, hopefully, I will return to the fray at some time in the future.”
Roki, who has been coach of Balcatta for just over two years, thanked the club for their understanding. “The Balcatta committee have been understanding and supportive of my situation, which will see both myself and my assistant Peter Vatistas hand over the reins to new coaching staff,” commented Roki. “I will still be involved with the club at various levels including a continuation of coaching the juniors.” Balcatta have already begun seeking out a replacement coaching team for the coming league season and will announce the successful applicants in coming weeks.
GLORY YOUTH HUMBLED BY SEVEN-GOAL THRASHING
Francesco Stella struck a late hat-trick as Melbourne Victory went top of the National Youth League with a 7-0 thrashing of Perth Glory Youth at SS Anderson Reserve. A Sam Gallagher brace and Andrew Nabbout’s strike established a solid lead for the home team before substitute Stella scored a treble with John Buceto completing the score line. Melbourne opened their account on the quarter hour when Luke O’Dea’s corner was glanced in by Gallagher via the back post. Four minutes later Nabbout drove past two defenders to finish beyond goalkeeper Jordan Franken. Glory Youth’s best opening of the period had Ndumba Makeche clip just wide of the right post.
Gallagher made it three-nil ten minutes after the restart with a looping first-time volley in the top corner. Melbourne increased the pace as the final whistle drew nearer. Stella netted his first goal in the 77th minute after Christopher Cristaldo’s shot came back off the post. Two minutes later Stella had another, this time tapping in Matthew Foschini’s low cross to the far post. Franken, who made several top-draw saves throughout the 90 minutes, was helpless as Stella blasted a low shot inside the post in the 90th minute. Buceto scored Melbourne’s seventh four minutes into stoppage time after being afford space inside the 18-yard box.
WANNEROO TURN THINGS AROUND AS JOONDALUP FINISH WITH NINE
Wanneroo City overturned a half time deficit to run out 6-2 winners over a nine-man Joondalup City at Macedonia Park. Lucais King and Scott Urquhart had Joondalup two-nil before Wanneroo hit back through Darren Coleman, Scott Bushby (2), Stuart Montgomery, Chris Pugh and Dom-Brearo Elliott. “I wasn’t happy with our performance at the end of the first half but the response in the second was excellent,” said winning coach David Tough. “We’ve got technical players that need to be passing the ball and dominating possession, when we did that we created chances and scored goals.”
The early exchanges showed little of the drama to come with both teams nullifying eachother in the final third. Joondalup would be first on the scoreboard after 21 minutes when a free-kick into the 18-yard box landed at the feet of King, who made no mistake beating goalkeeper Jovan Bukvic. Things got better for the northerners six minutes from half-time, Urquhart tapping in at close-range following a defensive mix-up between Pugh and Bukvic. A minute later Wanneroo hit back, the ball breaking to Coleman whose angled drive flashed over Scott Wallis and under the crossbar.
Wanneroo carried that momentum over into the second half, which was a minute old when Bushby fired into the net after good interplay with Montgomery and Ray Moloney. Not long after Montgomery converted from the penalty spot following Danny Beattie’s foul on Moloney. Joondalup’s plight worsened on the hour when Craig Highest was harshly issued his marching orders for a soft second bookable offence. There was now no stopping Wanneroo and with twelve minutes left Pugh added a fourth goal with a superb curling shot from distance which gave the ‘keeper no chance.
Sam Phillips became the second Joondalup player to earn himself an early shower when his rash challenge on Ross Laing was met by a straight red card from the referee. The pick of the goals arrived soon after, Rowdy Yates slipping the ball down the left channel for Bushby who, after beating his marker, curled the ball inside the near post corner beyond the outstretched fingers of Wallis. The game was in stoppage time when Yates cross evaded except for Elliott who placed his shot into the roof of the net.
DIANELLA CAUGHT NAPPING BY STIRLING (with Al Martin, Football West)
Goals at the start of each half laid the foundations for Stirling Lions’ 3-0 victory over Dianella White Eagles in the late game at Macedonia Park. Rory Grant had the host club in front at the break with Alex Grayseon netting soon after the break with David Hunt sealing the win late on. “We started well, hitting them with the early goal but then took our foot off the pedal and probably only played at about 60 to 70 per cent capacity,” Gary Williams, assistant coach at Stirling, said. “We’re happy with the timing of that third goal, it shows we’ve got that extra bit of fitness which means we can keep pushing teams right up to the final minute.”
The ball had been in motion just 7 minutes when Grayson teed up Grant for his third goal in two appearances for Stirling. The remainder of the half lacked any genuine goal scoring opportunities with the two defence units flexing their muscle. It took Stirling only a couple of second half minutes to double their lead, Grant releasing Grayson who tucked into an empty net after rounding goalkeeper Nas Farasalas. Dianella responded with a flurry of activity orchestrated by Andreas Theodosiadis but on which Abdul Sesay was unable to capitalise. As the game came to a close Stirling rediscovered their focus and in the 87th minute Phil Arnold delivered a pin-point cross which Hunt volley exquisitely into the back of the net.
ATKINSON HAT-TRICK SEES OFF QUINNS (with Kelechi Osunwa, Football West)
Swan United put themselves in the running for a Night Series quarter-final appearance with a 4-0 defeat of Quinns in the twilight game at Wotton Reserve. Chris Atkinson bagged a hat-trick for the black and whites before Mark Miraudo completed the scoring to put Swan level on points with Bayswater City at the top of Group F. “We started pretty slow, but once we got into it in the second half it looked a lot better,” Atkinson said. “We’re still a new team and we’ve been pushing it (scoring goals) in training and I hope it continues for the rest of the season.”
A scrappy opening made way for the opening goal on 27 minutes when Atkinson finished past an exposed Daniel McAinsh after being found by Justin Skowron. Eight minutes later Swan goalkeeper Connor Anderson, who had replaced Jordan Howell just moments earlier, unleashed a booming clearance which beat the Quinn’s back four and gave Atkinson the simplest of finishes. The second half started with Swan against on the offensive, Luke Colli’s precision cross neatly converted by Atkinson. Quinns failure to clear their lines in the 53rd minutes was punished as Miraudo lashed in goal number four.
Quinns coach John Evans was not overly concerned by the result, instead offering up constructive criticism for his players. “For us it’s a training session and I’m happy with the attitude of the boys,” said Evans, before highlighting silly mistakes and a lack of concentration by his players. “It was silly mistakes again. The first half we had a free-kick just outside their 18-yard box, they broke early and we obviously didn’t have the cover at the back. It was just down to concentration, we have some new players who haven’t played with each other before.”
BAYSWATER IN SEVENTH HEAVEN (with Kelechi Osunwa, Football West)
There were goals galore at Wotton Reserve as a rampant Bayswater City all but assured themselves a place in the last eight by thumping Morley Windmills 7-3. Damian Catalano added two more goals to the hat-trick he scored last week with Danny Kovacevic, Brian Farrell, Steve Burton, Gustavo Catarcione and Todd Howarth also on target. “In patches we played well but we’re not very happy to give away three sloppy goals especially against a first division team,” Stewart Moses, Bayswater’s assistant coach, commented. “We were pleased with the reaction, scoring two quick goals and scoring seven (in total), but we’re not pleased with conceding three in the first place.”
Morley could not have wished for a better start with Andy O’Neill applying a smart finish to make it one-nil after 11 minutes. This served only to fire up Bayswater who back with a vengeance. Catalano brought the teams level with 17 minutes on the clock and shortly after Kovacevic headed in to put Bayswater in command. Catalano grabbed himself a second goal in the 33rd minute with a stunning half-volley from 22-metres which gave goalkeeper Daniel Agudelo no chance. Farrell then got in on the act by putting away Bayswater’s fourth goal in the 36th minute, and the margin would have been greater at the change had Catalano made something of a penalty kick.
Andy O’Neill sent the home crowd into raptures in the 65th minute when his speculative effort from near the halfway line brought the difference back to two goals. It stayed that was just four minutes, a defensive lapse affording Farrell the time and space to pick out Burton to restore Bayswater’s three-goal buffer. A superb solo goal by Chris Bradley gave Morley hope of a late revival. However, substitute Catarcione stole the show with a sensational bicycle kick in the 84th minute, then soon after set-up Todd Howarth for an easy finish.
Although the result didn’t go his way, Morley coach Jason Van Rooy was proud of the way his team battled against of the Premier Division’s top dogs. “I’m obviously disappointed with the score line, but I’m pleased with the effort. Scoring three goals against the State League premiers from last year, we’re pretty proud with that,” he said. “It’s disappointing that we let seven in, but the effort from the lads for 70 minutes was great. I think it was five minutes blocks that killed us where they (Bayswater) scored two goals, two goals and two goals.”
SUBIACO STEAL VICTORY IN STOPPAGE TIME (with Kalon Harrison, Football West)
Ryan Westerhout came off the bench to snatch Subiaco AFC a dramatic 2-1 victory over UWA-Nedlands in the early Night Series game at Dorrien Gardens. The final whistle was just moments away when Westerhout added to James Day’s penalty conversion, which cancelled out James Plowman’s opener of early in the second half. “It feels fantastic,” coach Darren Yates said after just his second game in charge of Subiaco. “We were handed a seven-nil drumming last week but we put out a different side with some older heads and some newer heads … we showed courage right up until the 92nd minute, so I couldn’t ask more from the guys.”
After a scrappy and dull first half, the game burst into life on 48 minutes when Plowman worked his way past a couple of defenders and rounded goalkeeper Tom Barratt to slot into an open net. That lead only lasted ten minutes before Day fired in from the penalty spot after Westerhout was felled by ‘keeper Duncan Lissiman. UWA responded by increasing their tempo but Steve Purton’s drive was deflected wide and Kyle King placed wide after his initial shot was blocked by Tom Barratt. It looked as though the points would be shared when Nick Harris’ through ball caught the UWA defence flat, allowing Westerhout to race clear and calmly finish into the net.
BOLAND STARS AS PERTH HIT ANOTHER FIVE (with Kalon Harrison, Football West)
Perth SC secured their place in the Night Series quarter finals with a 5-1 hiding of top flight rivals Balcatta on a warm evening at Dorrien Gardens. Liam Boland bagged a hat-trick with Daniel Micevski grabbing the other two, negating Ashley Rosindale’s finish and leaving Perth as the only team in Group H with a perfect win record after two games. “I’ve got the service this year so I can score goals. It’s a bonus for the team but it’s a good result,” Boland said before praising his new coach. “Mauro (Marchione) has been great, he’s got everybody really focussed. I’m more focussed than I’ve ever been, so hopefully that leads to better football.”
The only goal of an entertaining first half arrived on 23 minutes when Boland converted from the penalty spot after he was tripped off the ball by Mikey Aspin. Balcatta had their chances to restore parity before the break but their best attempts on goal were met by the heroics of Jason Saldaris. Boland slotted in his second goal in the 66th minute after a fine spin took him away from his marker. Four minutes later Daniel Micevski had his heels clipped by Adam Tong, a foul he punished by netting the resultant spot kick. Rosindale managed to get one back for Balcatta in the 76th minute, but by that time the game was already over. Micevski got his second in the 89th minute after being played through by Logan Crawford, and in stoppage time Boland completed his hat-trick with a smart volley.
GLORY ALONE AT THE BOTTOM
Wellington Phoenix survived some late pressure to run out 1-0 winner from their clash with fellow A-League strugglers Perth Glory in Auckland. A first half goal from Jeremy Brockie, his eleventh of the season, lifted Wellington off the bottom of the ladder and in the process dropped Glory to last place. Glory coach Ian Ferguson said his team controlled the game for large parts but, as has been the case far too often this season, their finishing left a lot to be desired. “The quality in the final third was what let us down – the final pass, the final cross, the decision making,” he said. “We had great moments in the game where we had some great chances and we don’t even make the goalkeeper work.”
The first opportunity of a scrappy opening didn’t arrive until the 10th minute when Glory captain Travis Dodd shot into the side-netting from an Adrian Zahra cross. Nine minutes later it was Glory’s turn to defend, Leo Bertos cleverly playing in Paul Ifill but he blazed high and wide. A superb long pass by Nick Ward allowed young gun Chris Harold to beat his marker only to poke just wide of Mark Paston’s upright. Wellington were the side in the closing stages of the half, Stein Huysegems volleying wide before Brockie also missed the target. Their persistence was rewarded on 41 minutes when Ifill’s tantalising cross was met by Brockie, whose header came to rest in Danny Vukovic’s net.
Wellington emerged from the break looking to extend their advantage without creating any meaningful chances. Just before the hour Zahra’s shot took a deflection off Andrew Durante and landed safely in the arms of Paston. The goalkeeper had to be on guard again moments later when Jack Clisby’s long-rage effort also took a diversion off a defender. Steven McGarry and Liam Miller combined well but the latter’s shot from 16-metres failed to test Paston. Ifill then beat a couple of defenders only to see his curling effort go narrowly wide. Glory piled on the pressure as the clock ticked down, however, Wellington were not to be denied and held on to post their first win in six games.
MANDURAH HOLD OUT FOR NARROW WIN
Mandurah City’s new-look line-up fended off a late Fremantle Spirit revival to triumph 3-2 in the late game at Hyundai Stadium. Danny Clapham scored twice for the port side but, ultimately, it wasn’t enough to counter finishes by Marc McGlaughlin, Trevor Laure and Mandurah captain Craig Young. “I’m very pleased with the commitment shown by the players,” Billy Russell, Mandurah coach, said. “It is important that we get results like this as we’re rebuilding the team after losing eight players due to the salary cap.” The result puts Mandurah level on points at the top of Group B with Bunbury Forum Force with one qualifying game to play.
It took Mandurah just 7 minutes to assert themselves with McGlaughlin getting the better of goalkeeper Peter Wylie. McGlaughlin then turned provider with a pin-point cross to Blake Diggins whose header was directed straight at the ‘keeper. Fremantle began to work their way into the match but Clapham squandered a guilt edged opportunity to equalise by scooping over the crossbar. Clapham made amends in the 35th minute by poking the ball into Dalgarno’s net to level the game. Liam Hurst had a chance to restore Mandurah’s lead but his bullet-like strike was straight into the arms of Wylie.
The second half was just four minutes old when Laure tamed a high ball and slotted past Wylie to give Mandurah back the advantage. The game threatened to boil over when a rash tackle sparked an all-in melee, however, referee David Johnson soon resumed control. Laure was the architect of Mandurah’s third goal on 78 minutes, the attacker latched onto a through ball which he then laid off for Young to lift into the top corner. Clapham showed there was still plenty of life in the game when he converted a fine cross in the 88th minute to set up a tense finish.
BUNBURY A FORCE TOO STRONG FOR ROCKINGHAM (with Nathan Drudi, Football West)
Bunbury Forum Force reignited their Night Series campaign with this evening’s 5-0 thrashing of Rockingham City at Hyundai Stadium. Off-season recruit Nathan Tosum and returning midfielder each scored twice with Matt Lock getting the remained to send Bunbury to the top of Group B, ahead of Mandurah City by superior goal difference. “It was well-polished, the pleasing thing for me is that we kept a clean sheet”, said coach Micky Cairns of his teams’ performance, before stressing the importance of Bunbury making knock-out phase. “It is important for us to go forward, we need to play some of the Premier (Division) teams.”
Rockingham was a team under siege from the outset, Bunbury raining shots down on goalkeeper Phil Herschell from all over the park. Tosum was first on the scoresheets after 23 minutes by tucking the ball in at close-range, and just before the break Brooks doubled Bunbury’s lead with a crisp strike into the top corner. The pick of the goals arrived a minute after the turnaround with Lock’s speculative shot from the halfway line deservedly earning the applause of the 200-strong crowd. Bunbury continued to apply the pressure and Brooks extended their lead to four goals soon enough. Tosum doubled his personal tally with a simple tap-in after Herschell spilled a corner just before the hour.
CRUISY WIN FOR KNIGHTS (with Chris Andrawes, Football West)
Western Knights opened their Night Series account with a resounding 4-0 win over Canning City in the twilight fixture at Dalmatinac Park. First half goals from Brendan Craig, Luka Jukic and Oleg Yevstihneyev were compliment by David Caine’s late finish, however, the final margin could have been much greater had the former made more of a host of opportunities. “At the end of it, if he (Craig) had of stuck them all away I think he would’ve got about six tonight,” Knights assistant coach Andy Thorburn said. “He is a quality lad, he’s very hard to handle, he’s very mobile, very strong … he’ll create a lot of problems (for any opposition).”
Craig needed only 7 minutes to make his mark on the game, the striker netting at close-range after Canning goalkeeper Jonston Walker failed to capture a dangerous cross by Caine. With Caine and Jamie Tandy providing plenty of run out wide and Jukic controlling the flow through midfield, the Knights were well on top. Their dominance was rewarded with a second goal on 32 minutes when Jukic’s curling free-kick came to rest in Walker’s net, albeit via a deflection off a defender. The Knights were not finished for the half as five minutes later Yevstihneyev made it three-nil, giving Canning a lot to think about during the interval.
Whatever was said in the Canning rooms at half-time had the desired effect. A clipped pass over the Knights defence on 58 minutes put Josh Findlater in the clear but the attacker was foiled as he attempted to go around goalkeeper Ashley Crosthwaite. Five minutes later Canning had a strong shout for a penalty after Craig Riley charged into the back of Paul Van Dongen, however, referee Stuart Blacker was unconvinced and waved for play to continue. The fresh legs of Ethan Levitt and Jacob Aquino steadied the Knights ship and seven minutes to go Caine beat his marker to unleash a vicious strike across the ‘keeper which ricocheted in off the far post.
NO SURPRISES AS COCKBURN DUMP FREMANTLE (with Chris Andrawes, Football West)
Free-scoring Cockburn City made it two from two with this evening’s 6-0 trouncing of third tier Fremantle United at Dalmatinac Park. Paul Lloyd led the way with a double as Alex Castiello, John Thornley, Clark Rankin and Ivan Skorich found the net to put the Cockerels on the verge of qualification for the quarter-finals. Coach Scott Miller played down the result, saying the focus at the moment is on getting game time for his players. “It’s not about the result, it’s about getting 90 minutes for the boys,” said Miller. “We’ve got 26 players and we want to give everyone a game, so when we we’re choosing a squad we want everyone to have an opportunity to show us what they’ve got.”
The early exchanges were relatively even in terms of possession, although that changed when Lloyd struck his first goal after 14 minutes. From that moment onwards Cockburn comfortably controlled the game, holding the ball for lengthy spells and using the full width of the park to pull the Fremantle backline out of position. The only surprise was that it took until the 36th minute for their lead to be increased by Castiello, and shortly after Thornley make it three-nil. An uneventful second half didn’t come to life until the 70 minute when substitute Rankin put away the hosts’ fourth goal at close-range. Two minutes later Lloyd grabbed his second of the evening, and with six minutes remaining Skorich completed the rout.
JOONDALUP’S AMATEURS TOO GOOD FOR SHAMROCK (with Ilija Mihalj, Football West)
Shamrock Rovers will make a group stage exit from the Night Series after going down 2-1 to amateur side Joondalup United in a hard-fought battle at Litis Stadium. Reigning Sunday League champions Joondalup came out firing to take a commanding two-nil inside the half hour courtesy of Ryan Francis and Gary Andrews. Although a Ciaran Byrne free-kick halved the deficit just before the break, Shamrock never truly recovered from their slow start.
Justin Scarvaci was the first of the goalkeeper to be called into action, the Shamrock glovesman tipping Andrews long-range strike over the crossbar after 9 minutes. However, there was little Scarvaci could do ten minutes later when Francis unleashed a left-foot thunderbolt into the top corner to put Joondalup one-nil up. It took only until the 26th minute for the lead to be doubled via Francis’ in-swinging cross which evading everybody except for an unmarked Andrews, who tucked the ball in at the far post. Shamrock finally sparked into life and on 38 minutes Byrne’s low free-kick was too powerful for Luke Green. Francis could have restored Joondalup’s two goal buffer shortly after but was foiled by an alert Scarvaci.
A frenetic start to the second half had Shamrock searching for desperately for an equaliser, and Joondalup out to kill the game off with a third goal. While both defences were working overtime it was Shamrock who was feeling the greater pressure. That said, Dan Corbett went close to levelling proceedings in the 67th minute when his flick over ‘keeper Luke Green ended just wide of the upright. As the half progressed Shamrock gained a greater share of possession but rare was it that they seriously threatened the Joondalup goal. Joondalup faced a nervous final few minutes after Graham Reid was sent off in the 89th minute for a second yellow card offence, however, the northerners held on for a memorable victory.
FLOREAT BOOK SPOT IN LAST EIGHT (with Ilija Mihalj, Football West)
Floreat Athena all but assured themselves of a place in the Night Series quarter finals with this evenings 6-1 thrashing of ECU Joondalup at Litis Stadium. The game was effectively over inside the quarter hour by which time Matt Spurling, Ludovic Boi and Mark Pritchard had opened up a sizeable lead. Chris Rizidiz made it four-nil at the break with second half finishes from Boi and Pritchard countered only by Scott Blackmore’s late consolation. “It was a great start … We knew it was going to be a tough second half but I was really pleased the guys stuck at it,” Floreat coach Chris Barbas said. “There’s a few things at training we have been working on which didn’t really come off tonight but it will happen, it looks promising.”
It took just eight minutes for Floreat to opened their account, Spurling lashing a stunning right-footed effort in off the post after being teed-up by Boi. Barely another minute had passed when Boi headed in at the second attempt to make it two-nil and leave Joondalup reeling. The lead was further extended in the 12 minute when Floreat captain Mark Pritchard’s looping free-kick evaded a crowd of players to find its way into Andy Banks’ net. Joondalup’s first chance of note didn’t arrive until the 28th minute when newcomer Tony Taylor almost turned in a cross at the near post. But poor defending at the other end of the park four minutes later allowed Chris Rizidis to slide goal number four past Banks.
Joondalup were dealt another blow in the 57th minute when striker Jon Stripe was issued his marching orders by referee Stuart Muldoon after picking up his second yellow card. With Jorquera dominating the midfield, Floreat continually asked questions of the opposing defence. Boi smashed in his second goal of the evening after 70 minutes, the livewire attacker smashing into the net after some good work in the lead-up by substitute Benny Kovadio. Blackmore pulled a goal back with a little over fifteen minutes remaining but that was as good as it got for the northerners. Joondalup were fortunate not to finish with nine men after an off-the-ball incident which led to Banks being booked and Floreat awarded a penalty, which Pritchard duly converted.
NIGHT SERIES PREVIEW
Weekend two of the Night Series commences with an all-Premier Division showdown between Floreat Athena and ECU Joondalup (8.30pm) under lights at Litis Stadium. There were wins for both last time out and another three points tonight will take one team a step closer to the quarter-finals. “We had a good workout last week against Shamrock and tonight is another opportunity to provide some of the squad a run out against a good side,” said Joondalup coach Salv Todaro, who welcomes Jon Higgins and Michael Grigo into the squad. The early Group E fixture pits Shamrock Rovers against Joondalup United (6.30pm).
Western Knights coach Robbie Dunn plans to experiment a little when his team takes on Canning City (6.30pm) at Dalmatinac Park. “We will keep working on the way we want to play,” Dunn said. “We will again look at our players, some of them will be playing out of position but we need to know how they will react. It would be good for the boys to get a win for their confidence going forward, so we will give the game a real go.” The late game brings together host club Cockburn City and third tier Fremantle United (8.30pm).
Friday’s early game at Hyundai Stadium promises to be a cracker with Group B leaders Fremantle Spirit taking on host club Mandurah City (6.30pm). Anything less than three points for Mandurah could prove fateful to their pre-season campaign whereas a win by Fremantle, who scored six times last time out, go in search of back-to-back wins. Bunbury needed a late goal to take a point against Mandurah last weekend and if they’re serious about progressing from the group phase then Jon Brooks and Steve Howson must assert their authority in the late game with Rockingham City (8.30pm).
The pick of the weekend action takes place on Saturday when Perth SC hosts Balcatta (8.00pm). “Not to play ourselves down, but I believe Perth are far fitter and much more organised than we are at the moment,” said Balcatta coach Michael Roki. “We will have our work cut out but anything can happen in football and we are well aware that nothing less than a win will do.” Roki has a few welcome selection headaches with Mikey Aspin, Callum Roberts, Simon Elton-Bott, Bajo Savic and Simon Versaico pushing for spots. The early game at Dorrien Gardens features Subiaco AFC and UWA-Nedlands (6.00pm).
Division Two side Joondalup City will need to be on top of their game to get so much as a point from their meeting with Wanneroo City (6.00pm) at Macedonia Park. Stirling Lions are tipped to claim victory in the late Group D game against Dianella White Eagles (8.00pm). Quinns coach John Evans will be looking for a big improvement from his side when they face a youthful Swan United (6.00pm) in Group F’s opening fixture at Wotton Reserve. It’ll be back to the wall for group hosts Morley Windmills when they tackle a star-studded Bayswater City (8.00pm) later in the evening.
The round closes out on Sunday with Forrestfield United verses Gosnells City (5.00pm) at Alfred Skeet Oval. Gosnells performed well in their first game under Mike Brazil and are understandably confident of taking three more points against a Forrestfield outfit that conceded six times a week ago. Armadale, who put away those six goals, are tipped to get the better of third tier side Melville City (7.00pm). Ashfield should collect their second win in as many week when they face Kingsway Olympic (5.00pm) at Intiga Stadium, where the late game is the all-Premier Division clash between Inglewood United and Sorrento (7.00pm).
RISDON TAKING NOTHING FOR GRANTED
Perth Glory player of the season Josh Risdon won’t be underestimating bottom-of-the-table Wellington Phoenix when the sides meet tomorrow in Auckland. Risdon, who missed last week’s outing with Melbourne Victory due to suspension, will reclaim his position at right-back as Glory continue to search for their first win of the year. “Wellington have been a bit like us this season,” he said. “They started off well and have struggled a bit lately, but we can’t take them lightly. We’re both down at the bottom of the table and it’s going to be a tough game. We won there for the first time last season and amazingly, even the weather forecast for Saturday is looking quite good.”
Risdon, 20, is hoping history will repeat itself this weekend. The corresponding fixture last season provided the springboard for Glory’s late-season surge which culminated in a Grand Final appearance, and Risdon sees no reason why they can’t replicate those achievements. “All the boys are pretty confident,” he said. “We’ve got a few younger boys coming into the team now and that’s made things pretty lively around the place. Now it’s about getting back to winning ways. I think last year it was on this trip that we started our run of picking up points away from home, so hopefully we can do that again this weekend and get up towards the top six.”
The progression of fellow-homegrown youngsters Jack Clisby, Brandon O'Neill, Ndumba Makeche and Storm Roux to Glory’s senior ranks in recent weeks has understandably pleased Risdon. “It’s really good to have some of the younger guys around,” he said. “I’ve been playing with them for a while now and it’s great to see them being given opportunities at first team level. Jack played an awesome game on his debut against Brisbane (Roar) and Storm, Ndumba and Brandon did really well when they came on as well. Hopefully all the young lads can back up and do the same again in the coming weeks. It’s also good to have some extra pairs of hands helping me out with setting up and taking down all the gear at training.”
GALLOWAY TO DEBUT IN MELBOURNE DERBY
Teenage defender Scott Galloway will face a baptism of fire when he steps out for Melbourne Victory for the first time this weekend. Coach Ange Postecogou has all but assured 17-year old Galloway will in Saturday’s blockbuster derby with Melbourne Heart, saying there is no better way to induct rising stars than via the big stage. “I don’t think age has got anything to do with it,” Postecoglou said. “He (Galloway) plays for Melbourne Victory - we can’t find a game we’re going to play in front of 3,000 people for him. So if he wants to be a Melbourne Victory player, that means playing in front of big crowds, big games, and I’m really confident he’ll play well.”
REFRESHED ASPIN READY FOR BALCATTA DEBUT
A trip back to England for the off-season was just what the doctor ordered for new Balcatta defender Mikey Aspin after a busy 2012. Aspin, 23, was a key member of Sorrento’s double winning side last year and the opportunity to catch up with family and friends have recharged his batteries for the coming campaign with his new club. “It was great to go home to the UK to see the family and rest up for a month or so,” Aspin commented. “Last year was a 50-plus match season for me, I came (to Sorrento) straight from my English season so it was great to have a break.”
Apsin locked in a deal with Balcatta prior to his trip home. “I received a call at the end of last season from Balcatta saying they wanted me to be an integral part of their team … I was impressed with the lengths they went to get my signature,” he said. “Michael Roki is a good coach and a well-mannered person, he always comes across well in his interviews and I’m very much looking forward to working with him this year. He also likes to play attractive football and with good players here the likes of Callum Roberts and Jason Barrera, I feel we can produce some excellent football this year.”
Aspin has nothing but fond memories of last season with Sorrento, which is why leaving the club wasn’t an easy call to make. “My personal highlight was the three goals I scored against Floreat, all from long-range. The team highlight had to be beating Floreat Athena in the Grand Final and lifting the championship in my first season,” the defender said. “The decision to leave a tough one as I have nine or ten best mates there. But with Johny Mirco retiring, Stuart Montgomery leaving and also Reece Vittiglia, I assessed the ability of both squads and felt Balcatta was the way forward for me.”
Having recently returned from England, Aspin is in line to wear Balcatta colours for the first time when they come up against Perth SC this weekend. “I’m not sure what to expect from Perth as it is a new team, but they have appointed an excellent coach in Mauro Marchione so it will be a tough game,” commented Aspin. “Mauro produced some good football with a strong team at Bayswater last year, so I’m sure they are in good hands moving forward from a disappointing season last time out.” The top of Group H showdown between Balcatta and Perth kicks off at 8.00pm on Saturday at Dorrien Gardens.
BAMBER ASSURES BRIGHTER DAYS ARE AHEAD
The days of Armadale languishing in the lower depths of the Premier League are over. The Reds have spent much of their eight seasons in the top flight struggling to achieve but coach Lee Bamber, whose team narrowly avoided relegation last season, is tipping an imminent change in his clubs’ fortunes. “Last year nobody gave us a chance to stay up and we did (stay up), which was great,” Bamber told footballwest.tv. “This year we’re hoping to move on a little bit from that. We’re not saying we’ll be a top three team or anything like that, but we would like to get some respectability and finish somewhere in the mid-table.”
As way of ensuring Armadale stay well clear of the drop zone in 2013 Bamber has added depth to his squad by drawing predominantly from the second tier of the State League. “We’ve done a little bit of recruiting, we’ve got a few more local lads that have come on board,” commented Bamber, who will run the rule over Lance Louvie, Llewelyn Bake, Rory Hollingham and Ian Maguire, amongst others, during the pre-season. “We’ve got a little bit more experience as well and we’ll have three or four imports that will come in from around the globe, one from New Zealand and a couple from England.”
Louvie made quiet the impression in his first outing for Armadale, the former New Zealand Schoolboys international netting four times in the Reds’ 6-1 mauling of Forrestfield United on the weekend. An encore performance against Division Two side Melville City this Sunday will go a long way to ensuring Armadale achieve Bamber’s early expectations. “We’re using the Night Series as part of the pre-season,” said Bamber, whose team will also face Gosnells City in the qualify phase of the tournament. “With the draw that we’ve had, I’d be disappointed if we didn’t qualify from our group.” Armadale lock horns with Melville from 7.00pm on Sunday at Alfred Skeet Oval.
DRAW WAS LIKE A WIN SAYS NEWCATLE’S BIRIGHITTI
Newcastle Jets goalkeeper Mark Birighitti has nothing but praise for the way his team mates responded to going down a man against Wellington Phoenix on the weekend. It looked as though the writing was on the wall when Sam Gallaway was sent off with Wellington already one-nil up. But the visitors’ dogged determination was eventually rewarded with Emily Heskey crashing in the equaliser with quarter of an hour to go. “It was tough to go down to ten men early in the second half, but the boys showed great courage to come back and get a point,” Birighitti told footballaustralia.com.au. “Getting a point there is like a win for us.”
Birighitti, 21, was called upon to make a number of crucial saves throughout the game, including an instinctive block to thwart Jeremy Brockie with the score at nil-all. “Brockie was through again one-on-one with me and it kind of went through my head about what happened six or eight weeks ago when I fractured my cheekbone,” said Birighitti, recalling his encounter with the Wellington attacker from earlier in the season. “But I just came out, tried to stand tall and make myself big and I was lucky enough the ball hit me and ricocheted out for a corner.”
The point earned in Wellington was enough to keep Newcastle, who’ve won only once their last in six outings, fifth on a very congested A-League ladder. “If you look at the league, from bottom spot to where we are, it’s only a few points separating everyone,” said Birighitti, whose team are well aware of the importance of each of their remaining fixtures as the regular season draws to an end. “Every game is important leading up to the finals, so we need to start getting some wins on the board and I’m confident they will start coming soon.”
GLORY HIT STUMBLING BLOCK IN SIGNING CORDOBA
Visa issues have delayed Perth Glory’s bid to sign Argentine attacker Matias Cordoba. Glory had hoped 28-year old Cardoba would be part of the squad for Saturday’s game at last-placed Wellington Phoenix but, despite ongoing negotiations, the former Argentinos Juniors playmaker is yet to put pen to paper with the A-League club. Coach Ian Ferguson said there was still a lot to be sorted through before Cordoba pulled on a Glory shirt. “We’re hoping that we can get the stuff sorted out and then let the powers above do their stuff and hopefully try and get the boy on board,” said Ferguson, who expects a deal to be finalised in the near future.
Even had Cordoba’s clearance come through, there was no guarantee he’d be part of the team to face Wellington. “I think he has to do a little bit more training because he hasn’t played since November,” Ferguson commented. “With the feedback that we’ve got we sort of knew that it would take about ten days to two weeks to get him up to scratch. But first and foremost it’s all about getting the boy on board and getting the paperwork and everything else sorted out.” Glory will again be without striker Shane Smeltz (groin) and captain Jacob Burns (back) for the trip to New Zealand.
WILLIAMS, RUKAVYTSYA IN SOCCEROOS
Defender Rhys Williams has been recalled to the Socceroos squad for next week’s friendly against Romania. Williams, who recently returned to the Middlesbrough line-up following a four-month absence through injury, is joined by fellow West Australian Nikita Rukavytsya in Australia’s 19-player squad for the game in Spain. “Rhys was very unfortunate to be out for a significant period,” said coach Holger Osieck, who is considering partnering Sasa Ognenovski with Williams in the centre of defence. “He is now playing regularly and I would like to have another look at him in the centre-half position.”
The Australia squad to play Romania on 6 February is Alex Brosque (Al-Ain Club), Mark Bresciano (Al Gharafa), Lucas Neill (Al-Wasl), Brett Holman (Aston Villa), James Holland (Austria Vienna), Matt McKay (Changchun Yatai), Luke Wilkshire (Dinamo Moscow), Robert Cornthwaite (Chunnam Dragons), Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace), Robbie Kruse (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Mathew Leckie (Frankfurt), Mark Schwarzer (Fulham), Jason Davidson (Heracles Almelo), Nikita Rukavytsya (Mainz), Rhys Williams (Middlesbrough), Adam Federici (Reading), Ryan McGowan (Shandong Luneng), Tommy Oar and Michael Zullo (Utrecht).
VAN DEN BRINK SPLITS FROM GLORY
Dutch defender Bas Van Den Brink has been released from the final three months of his Perth Glory contract. Van Den Brink, a favourite of the Glory faithful since he joined the club in 2011, sought to have his contract terminated after hearing of interest from Indian club Churchill Brothers. “We’re more or less agreed on terms but obviously we still have to do a medical and stuff like that ... so that’s where it stands right now,” Van Den Brink told sportal.com.au “I really enjoyed my time here in Perth. I am going to miss Perth, but I feel I had to go and I’m really looking forward to a new challenge in my career.”
Van Den Brink, who played 42 games for Glory across two seasons, cited uncertainty about his future with the club as the main reason behind his departure. “You have to make decisions that are good for yourself,” he said. “I left because I didn’t know whether my contract would have been extended or not and the club didn’t really have a clear standpoint on whether they wanted to keep me. Based on that, it made the decision a lot easier for me to leave.” Van Den Brink is the third player to leave Glory during the January transfer window, following the departure of Billy Mehmet (Bangkok Glass) and Jesse Makarounas (Melbourne Victory).
GLORY WILL MAKE THE FINALS: FERGUSON
Coach Ian Ferguson insists he is not feeling the pressure despite Perth Glory taking just two points from their last six outings. Glory’s home loss to Brisbane Roar on Saturday night left Ferguson’s team two points adrift of sixth spot ahead of a road trip to bottom-of-the-table Wellington Phoenix. Ferguson remains confident he can guide Glory into the finals, and has urged disgruntled fans to stick firm by the club. “We’re all disappointed – we’re all frustrated,” said Ferguson. “But I would be more worried if we weren’t creating chances. I know there are a lot of disgruntled fans at the moment but stick with us. We turned it around last year and we’ll do it again this year … I’m positive we’ll get to the finals.
ONE EACH TO CANNING AND FREMANTLE
Honours were even at 1-1 in the twilight Night Series meeting between Canning City and Fremantle United at Dalmatinac Park. Josh Findlater sent Canning into the lead midway through the first half only to have Darren Monaghan bring the sides level with a stunning free-kick just after the hour. Either team could have snatched victory in the closing stages but at the end of 90 minutes Fremantle coach Jason Smith wasn’t complaining. “We had enough chances to win it but it was good work out for us tonight,” commented Smith. “It was always going to be hard, for both teams to be fair. It was our first real hit out of the season and the players aren’t match fit.”
Chances came and went at both ends of the park over the opening exchanges. Findlater’s snap shot was blocked by defender Baptiste Belliaed, and soon after Andrew Morrow’s low attempt was saved by Jonathon Walker. Canning got the goal they sought in the 25th minute, Michael Lawson feeding Findlater who made no mistake beating Carlos Bervenotti from 10-metres. Bervenotti breathed a sigh of relief eight minutes later when Gerardo Soto blazed wide from close-range after being found at the back post by Michael Van Dongen. Fremantle had a good chance to level just before the break when Angus Vos played in Angelo Canzurlo but Walker proved ready for the challenge.
Fremantle started the second period in similar fashion, Fabio Fusari chancing his luck from distance long-range only to have Walker push the ball around the post. The port side were deservedly back on level terms after 63 minutes via Monaghan’s fierce free-kick which cannoned down off the crossbar and into the net. Seven minutes later Monaghan picked out an unmarked Angelo Canzurlo with another dead ball but the defender nodded wide. Findlater could have put Canning back in front but fired straight at Bervenotti, who soon after blocked a goal bound effort by Soto. A pulsating game finished with Fusari flashing narrowly past the post with another long-range attempt.
COCKBURN CLAIM HONOURS FROM “TYPICAL PRE-SEASON GAME”
Cockburn City ground out a 3-2 win over Western Knights in the late Group C fixture at Dalmatinac Park. An own goal had the home team in front of the break but Jaceb Vucic restored parity just after the turnaround. Paul Lloyd and Conor Kavangh swung the game back in Cockburn’s favour by netting within ten minutes of each other with the Knights grabbing late consolation via Brendan Craig’s late long-range strike. “It was a typical pre-season game. We kept the ball well early but it was a bit of a battle,” said Cockburn coach Scott Miller. “I was disappointed giving a silly goal away, but the last one nobody could have stopped that. It’s our first hit out of the season so we’re happy with the result.”
It was the home side that began the brighter with Lloyd lashing just wide on the end of a driving run into attack. New Knights goalkeeper Ashley Crosthwaite was then called into action for the first time, moving swiftly to keep out Ivan Skorich’s shot after being picked out by Ian McMurray. Cockburn’s persistence eventually paid off in the 34th minutes when Lloyd’s teasing cross into the 18-yard box was met by the head of defender Stuart Siddall, who had the misfortune of sending the ball past his own ‘keeper. With Luka Jukic pulling the strings in midfield, the Knights worked tirelessly to equalise before the break but managed to open up very few holes in a resilient defensive line.
Fired up by coach Robbie Dunn, the Knights returned from the break determined to draw level. And that is exactly what they did in the 48th minute, substitute David Caine delivering a fine low cross from the right which Vucic side-footed in from 6-metres. Things stayed that way just eight minutes before Lloyd despatched the ball into the net from 10-metres after being round by McMurray’s deep cross from the left. The result was put beyond doubt in the 66th minute when Kavanagh gave the ‘keeper no chance after meeting substitute John Thornley’s cross from the left. The game was in stoppage time when Craig’s shot on the run from distance flew into the top corner of Dejan Aleksic’s net.
ROSINDALE HAT-TRICK GETS BALCATTA OVER THE LINE (with Chris Andrawes, Football West)
Balcatta’s plans for Night Series glory remain on track after surviving a late revival to edge UWA-Nedlands 4-3 in the early Night Series game at Dorrien Gardens. Returning striker Ashley Rosindale scored three times with Chris Thackray getting the other for coach Michael Roki who, pre-game, was tipping big things from Balcatta’s hat-trick hero. “It’s nice to have Ash back in the side after being injured for big parts of last season and the season before,” Roki commented. Aaron Barnett’s goal just before the break meant UWA went two-one down, while finishes by Kyle King and James Plowman ensured tensions remained high right up to the final whistle.
Rosindale opened his new season account by slipping in behind the defence and tapped the ball over goalkeeper Ranjeet Sekhonn after just 2 minutes. Moe Atak, who was a lively presence through the game, whipped the ball to the far post six minutes later for Chris Thackray to extend Balcatta’s advantage. Barnett brought it back to a one goal game on 35 minutes by sending the ball past Alex Dunn after a darting run by early substitute Jack Ryecroft. Rosindale completed his hat-trick with a spectacular long-range strike into the top corner seven minutes after the turnaround. King danced past a couple of defenders before clipped over Dunn to make it four-two, and with elven minutes to go Plowman also hit the back of the net.
MICEVSKI SHINES AS PERTH HIT SEVEN (with Chris Andrawes, Football West)
A revamped Perth SC have shown no mercy in inflicting a 7-0 thrashing on third tier Subiaco AFC in the late game at Dorrien Gardens. Daniel Micevski was the star of the show with four goals on a night when David Micevski, Liam Boland and Josh Wilkins also found the back of the net. “The way we played was good ... some of these players have only joined the team in the last couple of weeks and don’t know each other’s names,” commented winning coach Mauro Marchione. “So I’m pleased to see the spirit of the team is committed to achieving something.”
Subiaco more than held their own across the opening half hour, fending off numerous attacking raids by the team in blue while fashioning a few openings of their own. However, as Perth’s superior fitness slowly started to emerge it became apparent who the winner would eventually be. The opening goal arrived after 34 minutes when David Micevski cut the ball back to Daniel Micevski for a simple tap-in. Two minutes later Daniel Micevski doubled his teams’ lead, while after the break Daniel Micevski added another three goals to compliment finishes by Boland and substitute Wilkins.
Subiaco coach Darren Yates saw no reason to be dis-spirited by the outcome. “Seven-nil is probably not a great reflection on the game, they are a class outfit at the end of the day, they deserved it,” he said. “We’re here to experiment and try out a new team and I was happy with what I found out. There was nothing to change, in the first half or the first 20 minutes especially. At the end of the day you know it comes down to match fitness, we’ve got a great bunch of lads, but they’ve never played together before so I was really happy with it.”
BLAKER PUNISHES WASTEFUL DIANELLA (with James Mooney, Football West)
A goal off the bench by Matthew Blaker was enough to secure Division Two outfit Joondalup City a 1-0 win over Dianella White Eagles in the early Night Series game at Macedonia Park. In a game of few chances Blaker made sure Joondalup would make theirs count unlike Dianella for whom Bojan Radinovic failing to convert from the penalty spot. Dianella stamped their authority early with Abdul Sesay and Andreas Theosiades featuring prominently, however, wayward finishing ensured the teams remained as they started. Elliott Rose was the architect of Joondalup’s better moves but the lack of support offered to lone striker Lucais King made for very few genuine openings.
It looked as though Dianella would find a way through after the break. A couple of delightful through balls by Simon Barber put Sesay and Dhamon Kalamaris in the clear but neither was able to capitalise. Blaker entered the action on 59 minutes to immediate effect, the substitute squeezing his shot into the bottom corner after taking possession inside the 18-yard box. Goran Radinovic struck the ball in the net a few minutes later at the other end but goal celebrations were terminated by the assistant referee’s flag. Dianella were presented another opportunity in the 88th minute when a rash tackle by Sam Jones was punished by his second yellow card and a penalty which Bojan Radinovic blasted over the crossbar.
STIRLING SHOW PATIENCE TO OVERPOWER TEN-MAN WANNEROO (with James Mooney, Football West)
Summer signing Rory Grant celebrated his first Stirling Lions outing by scoring twice in tonight’s 3-0 defeat of Wanneroo City at Macedonia Park. Wanneroo faced an uphill battle from the moment Garin Collins was sent off inside a minute, and when Grant netted just before the break their plight only worsened. But it wasn’t until the closing stages that Clayton Arnez and Grant sealed victory. Stirling coach Doug Hesketh had no issue with the referee’s decision to dismiss Collins but was disappointed to lose Kyran Nunes, who was on the receiving end of the early slide tackle. “I was pretty close to it and as far as I’m concerned, have a look at Kyran Nunes’ leg,” Hesketh said. “I don’t think he will be playing next week, his ankle was up black and blue and cut straight away.”
The crowd were still settling into their seat when Collins was shown a straight red card for his hasty slide tackle on Nunes. Stirling didn’t make the most of their extra man until seven minutes from halt-time when Grant headed past goalkeeper Kevin Miller, whose defence failed to clear from deep inside their 18-yard box. With Dean Evans and James Cogley running the show in midfield, Stirling went close to adding a second goal on several occasions after the break. Arnez applied the finish the sought in the 81st minute, the defender tapping in after Grant nodded the ball across the face of goal. The game was sealed six minutes with Grant driving down the left before steering his shot into the bottom corner of the Wanneroo net.
SELYER DOUBLE SINKS SHAMROCK (with George Tsadilas, Football West)
A couple of early strikes by Tanner Selyer were enough to give ECU Joondalup a 2-0 win over Division One side Shamrock Rovers in the opening Group E fixture at Litis Stadium. Selyer grabbed his first goal midway through the first half then waited just a few minutes before doubling Joondalup’s advantage. For their part Shamrock struggled to carve out much in the way of genuine opportunities across the 90 minutes. “It was a very good team performance to start off the Night Series,” said Joondalup coach Salv Todaro. “I was pleased with the way the players are adapting to the structure and formation that we are trying to implement.”
Shamrock would have had their top flight opponents on the ropes had Ciaran Byrne’s 1st minute lob over advancing goalkeeper Andy Banks not sailed over the crossbar. The miss was compounded in the 20th minute when Selyer beat the offside trap by latching onto a Dejan Spaseski before side-footing past ‘keeper Justin Scarvaci. Selyer repeated that effort eight minutes by pouncing on Mark O’Brien’s poor back header and driving into the bottom corner of Scarvaci’s net. Shamrock weren’t without their chances to cut the deficit, the best of which ended with Banks thwarting an unmarked Dan Corbett. Second half highlights were few and far between as both teams shook out the off-season cobwebs.
FLOREAT QUITE SIMPLY A CLASS ABOVE (with George Tsadilas, Football West)
Floreat Athena eased their way to a 7-0 mauling of Sunday League side Joondalup United in the late game at Litis Stadium. Doubles from Benny Kovaoio, Bobby Wilson and Chris Rizidis were complemented by a late Ludovic Boi strike to give Chris Barbas’ new-look side a comfortable win. “It was good to give a few of our younger boys a chance tonight and I’m very pleased with their performance,” said the Floreat coach. “Lower league sides can sometimes prove to be a banana skin in the Night Series, as some other Premier League sides have discovered, so we had to be on our game to make sure that didn’t happen.”
Joondalup looked far from over-awed by the occasion as they matched their highly rated opponents early on. But that changed in the 25th minute when Kovaoio converted past David Wood from the penalty spot following a trip on Callum Franz. It took only four minutes for Floreat to score a second, Michael Rizidis lobbing a through ball in to Boi whose shot bounced down off the crossbar for Kovaoio to nod in at close-range. A tody exchange between Boi and Kovaoio in the 39th minute put the ball with Chris Rizidis, who volleyed crisply into the roof of the net from 15-metres.
The second half was only three minutes old when Wilson was afforded far too much space to push forward and unleash a vicious right-foot drive into the top corner. Wilson bulged the back of the net in almost identical fashion a minute later to make it five-nil. On 73 minutes Jack Allen got in behind the defence to deliver a low cross which Chris Rizidis steered in at the back post. The scoring was made completed on 87 minutes when Boi played a series of one-twos with Kovaoio, unselfishly played it back to his team mate to slam into Wood’s net.
NO JOY FOR DEPLETED GLORY
Brisbane Roar consigned Perth Glory to their third straight loss by taking all three points from this evenings meeting at Perth Oval by a 1-0 scoreline. James Meyer's first half strike from distance proved the difference but the visitors success owed as much to goalkeeper Michael Theo, who kept Glory at bay with a string of fine saves. “We threw everything at them but the kitchen sink and we just couldn’t score,” Glory coach Ian Ferguson said. “There were four or five really great chances that we should be putting away.” The result drops Glory down to ninth place but only two points outside the top six.
Although missing six regulars, Glory created all the early chances. Travis Dodd wasted the hosts’ best opening of the half on 9 minutes by side-footing weakly and wide from 7-metres. Steve Pantelidis squandered another guilt-edged chance soon after by scuffing straight at Theo from close-range. Those misses would come back to haunt Glory on the quarter hour when Meyer’s powerful blast from 27-metres bounced past a diving Danny Vukovic and into the bottom corner. The rest of the half was largely uneventful and devoid of any genuine chances. Glory did threaten twice but Michael Thwaite headed well wide, while Chris Harold’s cross narrowly eluded Adrian Zahra just before the break.
Nick Ward should have put Glory back on terms but clipped over the target with Theo out of his area after a failed attempt to clear. Brisbane was defending deep as Zahra and Harold drove the hosts into attack out wide. Luke Brattan went close to doubling the visitors lead in the 74th minute, Vukovic tipping his free-kick over the crossbar. Glory forced the pace leading into the closing stages. Ward was brilliantly denied at close-range by Theo, and from the resulting corner Nagai’s header was cleared off the line by a defender. Vukovic joined the attack for a stoppage time corner but not even his influence was enough to breach a stubborn rearguard.
LOANEE GRANT HELPS OUT HAVANT
Former State junior Alex Grant has done his bit to help end a frustrating fortnight for English side Havant and Waterlooville by putting in a full shift in their scoreless draw with Dorchester Town. Grant, who has joined the Blue Square South outfit on a month-long loan from Portsmouth, turned in a solid defensive performance on debut as the Hawks ended a run of four consecutive postponements. “Alex is six foot two and will give us a greater physical presence on the left side of our defence,” said manager Lee Bradbury. Grant, who signed a two-year scholarship with Portsmouth in July 2010, made his first team debut Plymouth Argyle in August and has since spent a month on loan to Eastleigh.
KERR BACK TO BEST FOR GRAND FINAL
Sydney FC striker Samantha Kerr will be out to cap a memorable return from injury by picking up a W-League Grand Final winners’ medal tomorrow against Melbourne Victory. Kerr enjoyed a remarkable rise to prominence as a teenager but a knee reconstruction soon after the 2010 World Cup forced her out of the game for nearly a year. On her return she left hometown club Perth Glory for the bright lights of Sydney, a move which has certainly paid dividends. “I just wanted a bit of a change and a bit of a challenge and just a really good training environment,” said Kerr, scorer of two goals in last week’s semi-final defeat of Brisbane Roar. “I’ve really enjoyed it and it’s definitely been worth the move.”
Kerr, 19, received plenty of support from coach John Gibson and teammate Kate Gill during her rehabilitation in the first half of last year. “Now that I look back on it, it doesn’t look as hard as it was when I was going through it. But it was really hard to go through that and watch all the girls playing and training,” said Kerr, who also sought the advice of her brother, Australian Rules footballer Daniel Kerr. “When I first did it my brother told me that his hamstring injury was pretty much the same rehab and just to take care of it.” Kerr has proved she can perform on big stages and is understandably looking forward to tomorrow’s Grand Final.
ASHFIELD HIT THE GROUND RUNNING (with Ilija Mihalj, Football West)
Division One side Ashfield made a flying start to the new season by thrashing State Champions Sorrento 4-0 in last night’s opening round Night Series fixture at Intiga Stadium. Jamie Burns and Reuben Tristao sent Ashfield down the road to victory with early first half goals so when Alex Stamadiadis netted after the interval the result was in the bag. Sorrento suffered a further blow with the contentious dismissal of defender Daryl Platten, after which Ashfield substitute Karl Tate added a little more gloss to his teams’ performance. “I’m very proud of the boys tonight as we had (as many as) six new players in the squad,” said Stamatiadis post-game. “We’re not getting ahead of ourselves and we’ll continue to work hard.”
The game could have turned out so very differently had Gavin Knight’s cheeky 2nd minute lob not been cleared off the goal line by David Gordon. The importance of that clearance became apparent nine minutes later when summer signing Burns pounced on a loose ball and zeroed in on goal before unleashing a thunderbolt that gave James Morgan no chance in the Sorrento goal. Ashfield waited just three minutes before returning the ball to the back in the net, Karl O’Reilly delivering a superb cross from the right which an unmarked Tristao headed beyond the reach of Morgan. Sorrento worked tirelessly in their quest to reduce the deficit before half-time but failed to get the better of custodian Matt Weyell and his defence.
Stamatiadis sealed victory eight minutes into the second half with a simple tap-in after being teed-up by Burns, who waited not a moment to punish some sloppy defending. Sorrento rallied but the closest they’d come to scoring was a Knight header which was again cleared off the line. Any hopes the northerners had of a late revival were crushed in the 67th minute when referee Steven Gregory harshly issued Platten a straight red card for his push on an opponent. Tate had been on the park just a minute when he caught Morgan off the line with a curling right-foot effort which made its way into the top corner of the goal.
FIVE-STAR INGLEWOOD CRUSHES KINGSWAY (with Ilija Mihalj, Football West)
Caretaker coach Bobby Despotovski had no complaints as Inglewood United breezed past third tier side Olympic Kingsway 5-0 last night at Intiga Stadium. Ryan Clarke grabbed the solitary goal of a lacklustre opening half before Inglewood sparked into life with further finishes from Michael Baczynski, Dannie Richman, Nikola Talimdzioski and Shaun Kilkelly. “I think we played very well tonight … the score could have ended up being anything,” said Despotovski, who was impressed with the efforts of young guns Talimdzioski and Luke Randazzo. “We have assembled a very talented squad here and we like to promote the youth.”
The first half was a hard slog with neither team able to assert much influence over proceedings. Clarke looked most likely to break the deadlock with some incisive runs down the left, and although the winger got within sight of goal on a couple of occasions he failed to bring goalkeeper Anthony Salpietro into the action. Kingsway had little option but to sit back and soak up the pressure as the gulf in class between the teams came to the fore. The home side’s endeavours were finally rewarded nine minutes before the break as Baczynski capitalised on some poor defending to thread the ball to Clarke, who finished with aplomb.
Baczynski added himself to the score sheet two minutes after the interval, the Inglewood captain’s header deflecting off several defenders before trickling into the net. Randazzo entered the action on the hour and a minute later squared for Richman to lift over Salpietro and into the far corner for a three-nil lead. Salpietro made a string of fine saves but could do nothing to prevent Talimdzioski from netting on 76 minutes after some smart play by Randazzo. The rout was complete in the final minute of regulation time when Kilkelly marked his Inglewood return by sweeping the ball in with his left boot.
BIG WIN FOR REVAMPED ARMADALE (with Kalon Harrison, Football West)
A new-look Armadale opened their Night Series campaign with a comfortable 6-1 win over Forrestfield United last night at Alfred Skeet Oval. Summer recruit Lance Louvie lead the way with four goals for the home team, for whom Ian Maguire and Jackson Bealey were also on-target. “We are just taking each game as it comes. I know that’s a cliché, but it’s exactly how it is,” said Armadale assistant coach Kevin Brophy. “I’m very happy with the result … we’ve had a whole off season to recruit we’ve brought in some good players, we’ve got some young players here who are a year smarter and a year stronger. We’ll be no push over this year.”
Louvie needed only 3 minutes to head Rhys Loxley’s cross from the left across goalkeeper Steve Parry and inside the far upright. Not to be outdone, Forrestfield replied four minutes later with Ben Fraser lashing into the top corner. Armadale regained the lead through an 11th minute volley by Louvie, who completed his hat-trick early in the second half with another fine header. In the 54th minute Maguire bundled the ball over the line after Forrestfield failed to take action at a corner. Bealey made it five in the 72nd minute after breaking through the visitor’s defence from right back and poking past replacement ‘keeper Daniel Morgan. Louvie completed the rout by tucking into an empty net after Morgan blocked Callum Barry’s initial shot.
Forrestfield coach Richard Changadzo wasn’t reading too much into the result. “You look at our first 25 minutes of the game, and the score is 2-1 at half time – I’m happy. At the end of the day it’s not about the result at this juncture,” he said. “I was pretty happy with the way they handled themselves. It’s a learning curve. I said to the boys in the change room at half-time, you should look around and give yourselves a pat on the back. I’ve got young boys in my squad, so they are still learning. Maybe it’s a bit of anxiety just kicked in. We still came here and played the way we wanted to play.”
GOSNELLS TOO STRONG FOR MELVILLE (with Kalon Harrison, Football West)
Mike Brazil started his coaching tenure with Gosnells City on the right foot by guiding the club to a 3-1 defeat of Division Two side Melville City at Alfred Skeet last night. Ben Howe needed just a few minutes to post Gosnells’ opening goal and when Ali Paredes doubled their lead early in the second half it looked as though the writing was on the wall for Melville. However, David Palin cut the deficit soon and it took until the closing stages for Wade Farmer to seal the points. “I thought (the performance) was excellent,” Brazil said. “It’s my first season at the club and a lot of these boys are new, so we can have a look at one another.”
Gosnells were on the board after only 4 minutes with Howe curling into the back of the net from the edge of the 18-yard box. Parades increased his teams’ advantage four minutes into the second half by nodding into the net after goalkeeper Elliott Duncan misjudged the flight of a cross. Melville, who had enjoyed some good possession before the break, responded instantly with Palin shooting into Stuan Herd’s net from 17-metres to keep the game alive. The result was put beyond doubt in the 87th minute when Farmer broke clear of the defence and got his angles right with a clinical strike across Duncan and inside the far post.
Dan Evans was reflective on what the Night Series means to Melville. “I’m more concerned about the performance this time of year than the result,” said the coach. “Obviously every time you step on the pitch you want to win, but I think if you watch the game on the balance of chances, maybe 3-1 flattered them a bit. They’re a reasonable side so I’m not too displeased. You’ve got to learn about your squad we’ve got a few to come back in. I’m very happy with the young kids I’ve got and this is a great experience for them and it’s going to bode well for them and their careers and hopefully us later in the season.”
FREMANTLE HIT ROCKINGHAM FOR SIX
Ty Fenwick and Lee Hayward scored two apiece as Fremantle Spirit trounced Rockingham City 6-3 in last night’s high scoring twilight fixture at Hyundai Stadium. Danny Clapham and Matt Ullbricht also got themselves on the scoresheet for a Fremantle side that included a host of new faces. “It was good performance tonight, a great improvement from last season,” commented Fenwick. “We’ve brought a few new faces in and their making a massive difference. It’s early days and we will take it one week at a time as we’ve got a new group of players and they will take time to gel.”
With a number of Fremantle player stuck in the long-weekend traffic heading south, kick-off was delayed by ten minutes. Once the ball was in motion it took the port side only 5 minutes to make their presence known via a stunning long-range strike by Fenwick that flew into the top corner. Having taken the lead, Fremantle pushed on by dominating possession and controlling the flow of play. So it came as no surprise when their lead was doubled on 18 minutes, Fenwick this time providing the cross which to Hayward sent past goalkeeper Phil Herschell from 9-metres.
Rockingham came out for the second stanza firing on all cylinders, Rafael Insaurralde netting at close-range on 51 minutes from substitute Thaboso Ncube’s cross. Hayward restored Fremantle’s two-goal lead soon enough with a low finish after being sent clear by Reis Connor. Clapham put another on the board for Fremantle after 67 minutes with substitute Ullbricht making it five-one ten minutes later. Rockingham refused to give up hope. Insaurralde’s deflected shot gave Wylie no chance, and shortly after the Rockingham striker converted a Roy Hissey centre. But it would be Fenwick that had the final say, the Fremantle captain netting after being teed-up by Clapham.
SUPER SUB LAURE EARNS MANDURAH A SHARE
New signing Trevor Laure scored twice off the bench to earn Mandurah City a hard-fought 2-2 draw with Bunbury Forum Force last night at Hyundai Stadium. Bunbury went ahead just before the hour via Bright Ababio only to have Laure level the game with thirteen minutes remaining. It looked as though Ryan Risdon had struck a winner when he restored the visitors lead in the 86th minute but almost immediately Laure salvaged his team a point. “He’s a good lad, he’s just got to learn when to hold it up and when to go at players, but he took his goals well and it capped off a good performance,” Mandurah coach Billy Russell said of Laure.
Bunbury opened strongly with Jayden Prosser flashing just over the top and Jon Brooks curling wide inside 10 minutes. It took until just before the half hour for Mandurah to fashion their first chance on goal, captain Craig Young stealing possession in the middle of the park and releasing Simon El Chami whose low shot was saved by Ryan Montgomery. Bunbury, however, remained in the ascendancy. Hayden Barnett rose well to meet an inch-perfect cross by Brooks but his header was too close to goalkeeper Stewart Dalgarno. Mandurah went agonisingly close to scoring just before the break with El Chami’s first time shot from a Matt Stares throw whizzing just wide.
The visitors’ dominance was finally rewarded on 56 minutes when Ababio deflected Barnett’s long-range strike into the net. Ababio almost had another eight minutes later but his vicious shot crashed down off the underside of the crossbar, bounced on the line and then away to safety. Mandurah found a way back in on 77 minutes when Laure lashed low past Montgomery after controlling Daniel Brockwell’s centre. A poor clearance nine minutes later was punished by Risdon’s shot on the run which snuck under Dalgarno. But those goals celebrations lasted just 60 seconds before Liam Hurst got down the right to cross for Laure, who beat Montgomery at close-range after the ‘keeper blocked his initial attempt.
ATKINSON WINS IT FOR SWAN (with Kelechi Osunwa, Football West)
Swan United recovered from conceding early to run out 2-1 winners from a fiery encounter at Wotton Reserve last night. A penalty converted by David Houston had Morley in front at the break but an interesting second stanza was assured when Luke Colli netted soon after the restart. The deciding goal arrived midway through the half via a delightful finish by Christopher Atkinson. “We were all over them in the first (half),” said Swan coach Mick Skowron. “Most of the game was played in their half, it was just the final third and getting that good ball in.”
The game started at a frenetic pace with some over-zealous challenges being put in by players in both shirts. Swan looked the more likely to take the lead through Owen Curtis, who nodded two efforts wide of the target. As tensions simmered away referee Matt Southern awarded the home team a contentious penalty for handball against Adam Skowron. While debate continued from the sidelines, Houston stepped up to bury his shot into the bottom corner of Connor Anderson’s net. There were very few highlights across the remainder of a half which neither team was able to assert control over.
Swan were back on level terms three minutes into the second half, Simon Falcone afford time and space to play into the path of Colli who confidently sent the ball past Daniel Aguldelo. The goal spurred Swan into life and in the 50th minute Nick Tatasciore beat two opponents only to see his left-foot strike crash into the crossbar. Atkinson showed him how its’ done in the 65th minute, the attacker taking a couple of touches before curling into the net to send the travelling support into raptures. There were further chances at both ends of the park but some top-draw goalkeeping, desperate defending and poor finishing kept the game as it was
BAYSWATER IN A CANTER (with Kelechi Osunwa, Football West)
Damian Catalano helped himself to a hat-trick as Bayswater City thrashed third-tier side Quinns 9-0 in last night’s late fixture at Wotton Reserve. Off-season signings Steve Burton and Todd Howarth grabbed a brace each with Gustavo Giron-Marulanda and Brian Farrell also on the scoresheet for a Bayswater side under the guidance of former Socceroos defender Chris Coyne for the first time. “We’re taking this step-by-step, we’ve got to respect winning trophies and the Night Series is a competition we want to win,” commented Coyne.
The writing was on the wall for Quinns as early as the 5th minute when Catalano pounced at close-range after the northerners failed to deal with a dead ball played into the 18-yard box. Bayswater’s lead was increased just before the half hour via a superb curling free-kick from Howarth which had goalkeeper Anthony Cochrane rooted to the spot. A dreadful error by a Quinns defender allowed Burton to waltz through and deliver a cheeky chip over the advancing ‘keeper four minutes from the break. There was enough time for Catalano to add another courtesy of fine lead-up work by Larry Miller.
Goals continued to flow for Bayswater after the break. Howarth grabbed his second with an audacious lob from 30-metres, then Farrell and Catalano punished hesitant defending within minutes of eachother to blow the game out to seven-nil. As the game drew to a close substitute Giron-Marulanda opened his account for the season, and Burton doubled his tally with ten minutes to go. Although battered and bruised, Quinns will take many positives from the way they refused to give up hope and pushed all the way to the final whistle.
THE SEASON STARTS NOW!
The smoke and mirrors of recent months makes way this weekend for the opening round of the 2013 Night Series. The pre-season dramas commence this evening with Melville City up against Gosnells City (6.30pm) at Alfred Skeet Oval. “I’m looking forward to the game against Gosnells, it’s a club I spent some time at and I have a lot of respect for them and coach Mick Brazil,” said Melville coach Dan Evans. “Obviously you want to win every time you step out, but in honesty I’m more concerned with our performance and development that results.” The late game pits Armadale with Forrestfield United (8.30pm).
Ashfield coach Matt Carruthers is looking forward to this evenings outing with Sorrento (6.30pm) at Intiga Stadium. “Playing Sorrento and Inglewood United will assist us in preparation for the league campaign, where our focus is,” he said. “We have added a few new faces and I expect the eleven that take the pitch will be out there to claim and hold their positions.” The late Group G fixture features Inglewood and Kingsway Olympic (8.30pm). Hyundai Stadium hosts Group B in which Rockingham City takes on Fremantle Spirit (6.30pm), and Mandurah City faces Bunbury Forum Force (8.30pm).
Jason Van Rooy says his Morley Windmills side are champing at the bit to take on a youthful Swan United side (8.30pm) at Wotton Reserve. “Swan has always been a competitive team and since we have a couple of ex-Swan lads now at Morley, the boys are looking forward to having their first real competitive hit out,” said Van Rooy, whose off-season recruits include Daniel Agudelo and David McNally. Former Socceroos defender Chris Coyne will take charge of Bayswater City for the first time when they tackle third tier side Quinns (6.30pm) at the same venue.
The remaining eight games take place on Sunday with Macedonia Park hosting while Stirling Lions verses Wanneroo City (7.00pm). “(Stirling coach) Doug Hesketh has made some great signings and they have already defeated Perth SC and Balcatta in friendlies, so they will be going into the game as massive favourites,” commented Wanneroo boss David Tough. “We’re a few weeks behind Stirling so fitness will be an issue, but we go into the game with no pressure and excited we can test ourselves against one of the top teams in the state.” The earlier fixture brings together Dianella White Eagles and Joondalup City (5.00pm).
Summer signings Rory Mouttet and Daniel Neiderberger will make their first appearances when Canning City go head-to-head with Fremantle United (5.00pm) in the early Group C game at Dalmatinac Park. Division One champions Cockburn City take on a Western Knights (7.00pm) outfit with a point to prove. Group E takes place at Litis Stadium where the opening fixture pits ECU Joondalup against Shamrock Rovers (5.00pm), the latter under the guidance of John O’Reilly for the first time. Host club Floreat Athena pits skills with third tier side Joondalup United (7.00pm) in the late game.
Dorrien Gardens is the venue for the Group H clash between Balcatta and UWA-Nedlands (5.00pm). “It will be a great experience for the players, Balcatta will definitely be a challenge for us,” said new UWA coach Andy Dickinson. “The boys are looking forward to it, especially after the great run that they had in the Night Series last year. This will be our first run out so it will be interesting to see how we cope against a strong Balcatta team.” Night Series trophy holders Perth SC commence their title defence in the late game against Subiaco AFC (7.00pm).
TWO MORE ADDED TO GLORY INJURY LIST
Perth Glory’s injury woes deepened with star striker Shane Smeltz and team captain Jacob Burns missing this morning’s training session. Smeltz (groin) and Burns (back) are in serious doubt for tomorrow’s home game with Brisbane Roar, the result of which could play a big part in determining Glory’s finals chances. “We’ve got to try and make that top six,” coach Ian Ferguson said. “The top four now seems to be getting away from us. We’ve got to make sure now that we’re still in the pack.” Young defender Jack Clisby is likely to be handed his senior debut as Glory prepare to go without Bas Van Den Brink (calf), Michael Thwaite (calf) and suspended pair Josh Risdon and Liam Miller.
BABALJ RETURNS TO MELBOURNE
Eli Babalj will wear Melbourne Heart colours for the remainder of the summer after being recalled from Serbian club Red Star Belgrade. Melbourne are hopeful of receiving Babalj’s international clearance in time for the 20-year old striker to take his place it the line-up for Saturday’s clash with Western Sydney Wanderers. Babalj joined Red Star in June but when the clubs failed to deliver the final portion of his transfer fee, Melbourne exercised their right to recall the striker. “The club thanks Red Star for its cooperation in this matter,” Melbourne chief executive Scott Munn said. “While it is unfortunate that Eli’s foray into professional football in Serbia did not work out, we look forward to seeing him back in the red and white of Melbourne Heart again.”
GRANT FIT AND ROARING TO GO
Stirling Lions summer signing Rory Grant can’t wait for the new season to start. Grant endured an interrupted 2012 with injury and family commitments conspiring to limit his game time with Western Knights. But the striker has put all that behind him as he prepares to pull on a Stirling shirt for the first time. “Things are going well for me at the moment, we have had an enjoyable pre-season I’m injury-free and feeling sharp,” said Grant. “The players and the club have been very welcoming and I’m really enjoying my football. Macedonia Park is a pitch that I always do well on so I can’t wait to get started and in amongst the goals again.”
An impressive performance while wearing Knights colours last year against Stirling provided the catalyst for Grant’s off-season relocation. “Doug (Hesketh) and Gary (Williams) were impressed when I played and scored against them last season (and) I was asked to come on board during the mid-season transfer window,” explained Grant. “but I felt it was better to stay and see out the season with the Knights, unfortunately I missed the end of the season and couldn’t help them avoid the drop. Doug called me again at the end of last season and told me their plans and ambitions for this year, I liked what he had to say so I agreed to a new challenge.”
Grant, 30, has fond memories of his Knights days and feels confident the clubs’ stay in the second tier won’t be lengthy. “Last year was a frustrating time for everyone at the club,” said Grant. “A lot of players left in the off-season, we had three different managers over the season and we weren’t allowed to play our home games at Nash Field. Eventually there wasn’t enough quality in the squad to compete at this level. This year will be the start of a rebuilding process for the club, I hope they get approval to re-develop the ground and I’m sure they will be back in the Premier Division soon.”
For the new season, Stirling have retained the bulk of last year’s squad while adding a few select recruits. “We have an experienced squad with a number of promising youngsters coming through so there’s a good balance,” said Grant. “Our forward line is going to cause problems for a lot of teams as we’ve signed some quality players. Dean Evans and Phil Arnold are back at the club, Scotty Bulloch is on board and we have a few triallists that are looking the part so there will be healthy competition to be in the starting eleven. We are fit and quietly confident of having a good Night Series to set us up for the season proper.”
A strong coaching team is at the heart of any teams’ successes and with Hesketh and Williams in charge Stirling are heading in the right direction. “Doug and Gary are both very passionate and knowledgeable about football. They like to focus on a passing game and I’m sure we will have a successful season and build on the foundations laid down last year,” said Grant. “They have got us fit using the ball rather than just endless running and training has been enjoyable, well apart from the beach sessions when the shark alarm went off! We’ve have played two scratch matches, against Perth SC and Balcatta, and won them both so confidence is high.”
Stirling’s first meaningful hit-out of 2013 takes place on Sunday evening when Division One favourites Wanneroo City ventures to Macedonia Park in the opening round of the Night Series. “Wanneroo will be a tough game, probably our hardest out of the group,” commented Grant, whose team are also pitted against Dianella White Eagles and Joondalup City in the preliminary stage of the tournament. “Wanneroo were unfortunate not to get promoted last year so they obviously have a decent side. David Tough will have them up for it so it’s important we approach the game with a professional attitude.” Stirling takes on Wanneroo from 7.00pm on Sunday, with the early game featuring Dianella and Joondalup (5.00pm).
MITCHINSON THRILLED WITH MELBOURNE START
By his own admission, young defender Sam Mitchinson he has achieved more than he expected in his first few months with Melbourne Heart. Mitchinson, a former Perth Glory Youth captain, headed east last year and, after catching the eye while on duty with State League club Oakleigh Cannons, was snapped up by Melbourne just prior to the start of the A-League season. “I first came to the club the plan was to get a contract for next season, so to earn four starts and make three more appearances off the bench has been beyond what I’d hoped for,” said Mitchinson. “The club are pleased with the progress I’ve made and hopefully I can get some more game time and show more of what I can do.”
In turning that plan into reality Mitchinson intends to soak up all he can from Melbourne’s star-studded squad. “It’s great to train every day with players like Richard Garcia, Simon Colosimo and Clint Bolton. Richard has played at the highest level and he gives me advice and feedback, which has been terrific. And it’s exciting to work with coaches John Aloisi and Hayden Foxe, both of whom I have already learnt loads from,” said Mitchinson, who recognises he’ll need to be at the top of his game to unseat Socceroos defender Aziz Behich. “Playing understudy to Behich means my opportunities are limited but I plan to make the most of any that do come along.”
Challenges like that are nothing new to Mitchinson. “My whole life has been about making sacrifices to pursue my dream of becoming a professional footballer,” explained the versatile 20-year old, who packed his bags last June with the stated intention of capturing the attention of an A-League club. “I moved to Melbourne mid-way through their season and it was hard to establish myself in the Oakleigh team as they were having a good season and the fan’s favourite played left back. I ended up playing right back and helped Oakleigh to the Grand Final. Along the way Hayden Foxe happened to be watching one of our games and I was invited to training the following week.”
Born in England, Mitchinson played locally for Subiaco AFC and Cockburn City before entering the National Training Centre program in 2008. He continued to hone his skills over the summer months with the Glory Youth team, where his efforts were rewarded with a senior debut against Melbourne Victory in March 2012. “I am grateful to (coach) Ian Ferguson for giving me my first 15 minutes of A-League action,” Mitchinson said. “I’d been with Glory Youth for three seasons and was gutted not to be offered a first team deal. However, that one game was enough for me to pick myself up and come to Melbourne and give it a crack here.”
Mitchinson feels his decision to move to the other side of the country has helped him develop both as a footballer and a person. “Moving to Melbourne was a gamble and it was very hard to move away from my family and girlfriend but it was a move I needed to make,” he said. “Being away from home forces you to develop a strong mentality and I think you need this when things might not be going the best. Hopefully all the sacrifices will pay off in the end, it’s my dream to play for the Socceroos and if I can establish myself at Melbourne Heart and keep improving then maybe one day I’ll get there.”
DE FELICE IS BACK ON HOME TURF
Veteran midfielder Dom De Felice could not be happier about his return to Cockburn City. De Felice played much of his career out of Dalmatinac Park prior to a four year stint with Perth SC, so when it became apparent he did not figure in the plans of Perth SC this season there was only one place the 30-year old wanted to be. “Having played ten years with Cockburn, I’m very happy to be back and looking forward to this new challenge,” he said. “I’ve always kept in contact with the club over the last four years and the door was always open for me, so I contacted Scott Miller and he gave me the okay to play for the club again.”
As far as De Felice is concerned the timing could not be better for his return to Dalmatinac Park. “After Cockburn won promotion from Division One last year, I felt the time was right to go back to the club,” he explained. “When you taste success and win something, no matter what level that’s at, it gives you a lot of confidence. So with Cockburn coming up and myself being at Perth for four years and winning lots of trophies I feel there’s a different mentality now at the club compared to when I was there before … Cockburn was the only club I was going to play for if it wasn’t Perth.”
A regular of Perth’s midfield over the past four seasons, De Felice still finds it hard to fathom that clubs’ sloppiness when it came to his release. “There’s been no contact since the end of last season so I guessed I wasn’t in their plans. It was very unlike Perth the way they let me know I wasn’t a required player,” he said. “I was a little disappointed because usually Perth deals with these situations a bit more professionally, but I guess sometimes things don’t go the way you want or expect them too. I’ve moved on and have plenty of memories of the good times I had as a Perth player.”
De Felice is by no means the only long-time Perth player to be shown the door over the summer with well in excess of a dozen of last years’ squad wearing colours of a different club in 2013. “It was a little over the top, I feel a lot of players could have stayed on and helped the club win more trophies,” said De Felice of the mass clear-out. “I suppose it was the end of a very successful era and I’m very proud to have been a part of all it. The dismantling of the Perth squad does have a positive and that is it will make the league better as a lot of quality players have gone to other clubs.”
It may have been four years since De Felice called Dalmatinac Park home but he says he’s been made more than welcome by all at the club. “It honestly feels like I’ve never left. Everyone’s made me feel very welcome and I’m really enjoying it,” he said. “I’ve been very impressed with Scotty’s training which has involved a lot of ball work and short sharp running. We’ve got a good group of players and everyone is ready for a big season. It’s going to be very competitive for positions and there’s good depth, hopefully we can push for a top five position.”
This season is all about consolidation for Cockburn with De Felice tipping big things from the club in years to come. “The main objective is always to win games and reach as high as you can. We have to also be realistic and understand that Cockburn are back in the Premier League now and the main aim is to re-establish ourselves and push for that top five spot, which is where Cockburn deserves to be,” said De Felice. “There’s good backing from the club with Jason and Michael Petkovic both involved, and in Heidi Lazzaro we have a very hard-working president. I feel these are the right ingredients for long-term success.”
GLORY FACING “A MASSIVE TEST OF DEPTH” SAYS DODD
Midfielder Travis Dodd is confident Perth Glory have the depth to cover the likely absence of several key players for Saturday’s home game with Brisbane Roar. Injury clouds hang over defensive trio Bas Van Den Brink, Steve Pantelidis and Michael Thwaite ahead of a Grand Final re-match Liam Miller will miss through suspension. “This week will be a massive test of depth for the squad,” Dodd commented. “It gives a great opportunity for the fringe players and the young boys to come in and stake a claim for a spot. With Liam being out, we’ve got Brandon O’Neill who could certainly come in and then the big one for the gaffer could be reshuffling the backline depending on whether Bas, Pante or Thwaitey are available.”
Glory are in desperate need of some points having slipped out of the top six with two wins from 12 games. “We did a video session on last weekend’s game (a 1-0 loss to Melbourne Victory) and possession was quite good and we created a few opportunities,” explained Dodd. “We talked about the things we need to do better in order to turn those opportunities into goals, because ultimately that’s what we’re lacking at the moment. It’s pretty easy to see that a lot of our opportunities are coming from crosses from out wide and we’ve spoken about how we can create other opportunities using Smeltzy (Shane Smeltz) a bit better, bringing him and (Steven) McGarry into the game a bit more.”
VALE BOB CHERRY
Western Australian football has farewelled another of its greats with the passing of former State team defender Bob Cherry on Monday. Born in Scotland in 1922, Cherry moved to Australia with his parents and their nine siblings in 1929. He played juniors for Rosalie and Subiaco before establishing himself as one of the top defenders in WA through spells with Shenton Park Rangers, Perth City and Subiaco. Cherry was a member of the State team which won the 1948 Southern States tournament in Adelaide, and two years later captained WA against an Australian XI. He was amongst the inaugural inductees into WA’s Football Hall of Fame in 1996, and was chosen as one of the State’s top 100 players of all-time in 2004.
YOU’LL WIN NOTHING WITH KIDS, WELL, NOT IF YOU DON’T DEVELOP THEM (with Ashley Morrison, Not the Footy Show")
It comes as no surprise to hear Jesse Makarounas take a swipe at Perth Glory after his signing with Melbourne Victory. Makarounas was signed by Glory following a spell at the Australian Institute of Sport where he was marked for a big future in the game. However, he has languished in the shadows at Perth Oval on match day, making just four appearances from the bench in 18 months, while his AIS team mates have established themselves at other clubs prepared to give youth a chance. Considering the style of football Glory play, Makarounas was always going to struggle to force his way into the side, which has proven to be the case.
A great deal has been made about the number of West Australian players plying their trade in the A-League at clubs other than that of their hometown. Understandably the fans want to see local boys playing for Glory but sometimes that is not the best move for that particular player, and that has to be taken into account. In March 2011 the much talked about Hatt Review into Glory’s operations highlighted that the club needed to re-evaluate its recruiting processes and stated that “youth should be the priority”. Fans and media were also advised the head coach was to establish “clear performance goals for players and staff, and ensuring they are monitored and reported on regularly.”
Perth Glory have, it appears, since the Hatt Review signed local players simply to say that they have local talent at the club. ‘Not the Footy Show’ has asked previously has the club assisted those players in developing their game and getting those players closer to pushing for a first team position? It is one thing to sign a player who is raw and keen, but frequently a diamond has to be polished. Players need one-on-one help on developing areas of their game where they may be weak – shooting, crossing, positioning, etc. Simply training as part of squad will see minimum improvement in some players.
As for playing young players it comes down to the culture of the club. The fans and owner wants success so the coach opts to play experienced players even if they are out of form as he believes they have the know-how to deliver that success. His fear in playing a youngster is that one mistake could result in a loss, which could ultimately see him sacked for not making finals. This is where strong leadership is required. The owner should be giving guarantees that the coach’s job is safe until the end of the season but he wants to see young players coming through, after all they will bring money back into the club if transferred overseas.
Time must be invested in young players to help them become good enough to hold a place in an A-League side. More local players coming through and playing for Glory will also help boost the crowds coming through the turnstiles, as West Australians are extremely parochial. Glory has to change the way it thinks as a club in terms of local players and the opportunities it affords young talent. If that does not happen then we will continue to see players developed here in the West head in search of game time, and to play under coaches who have faith in them. Let us hope this change happens soon.
“FOOTBALL IS A CRUEL, CRUEL GAME”: GILL
Australia striker Kate Gill is still coming to terms with Perth Glory Women’s controversial exit from the W-League finals series. Melbourne Victory’s Jessica MacDonald sent her team through to the season finale last weekend by converting at the second opportunity after Glory Women goalkeeper Kaitlyn Savage was ruled to have moved early in keeping out her opponents’ initial spot kick. “Honestly, I don’t really know how I feel about it all. I don’t think it has hit me yet and when I look back on the game, all I feel is disappointment at what could have been,” Gill commented in her weekly column for perthnow.com.au. “There is really only one way to sum it all up - football is a cruel, cruel game.”
Gill willingly shouldered some of the responsibility the game being deadlocked at 1-1 after 120 minutes. “I have had my fair share of ups and downs, but to absolutely dominate and to walk away empty handed is a pretty low blow,” commented the W-League Golden Boot winner. “We had so many opportunities and just failed to find the back of the net. I was a big part of that - those kind of chances I would normally convert on any day, but on Sunday nothing seemed to fall our way. I haven’t looked at the position stats or shots on goal but I know it would have been very one-sided. The girls gave their all for the entire 120 minutes, but unfortunately we failed at the final hurdle.”
There is no doubt the manner by which Glory Women’s season came to a close is a bitter pill to swallow, for everyone associated with the team. And while that disappointment will linger across the off-season, Gill says it will also serve to increase the teams’ thirst for success when 2013/14 comes around. “Football has a way of making you feel completely disappointed and disgorged at times, however, those moments also spark the determination and resilience to bounce back,” she explained. “The beautiful thing about it is that there is always another game. While it is a bit of a wait before we can turn things around, the moment when you do always makes up for what got taken away.”
GLORY ADD CLISBY TO THEIR ROSTER
Gold Medal winner Jack Clisby has taken the next step in his career by signed on with Perth Glory until the end of the 2013/14 A-League season. Clisby, 20, was the stand-out performer last winter at Inglewood United and joining the national league club he grew up supporting as a boy is a dream come true. “It’s certainly a great feeling and something I wasn’t expecting,” Clisby said. “Yesterday the gaffer (coach Ian Ferguson) approached me and offered me the opportunity which I’m ecstatic about. When I was a young boy, I would come and support Perth Glory with my father, so it’s a great feeling to sign for the club that I’ve always followed.”
Clisby, a former Sorrento junior, has been closely tracked by Ferguson during his fourth season with Glory Youth. “We’ve always had our eye on Jack and every time I have watched him play in our youth team he’s been impressive,” said the Glory coach. “Jack has a good range of passing, reads the game well, links up well and has very good speed. Additionally, we have also brought back another talented teenager, Andrew Higgins into our youth team from Portsmouth and hopefully will have another soon. So, that’s three young West Australian players that we’ve identified and are promoting to develop for the future of Perth Glory.”
FRUSTRATED MAKAROUNAS HITS OUT AT GLORY
New Melbourne Victory recruit Jesse Makarounas has fired a parting shot at Perth Glory, claiming his hometown club of depriving young talent of opportunities. 18-year-old Makarounas, an Australian youth international, walked out on Glory last week after being restricted to just four appearances. “I had a frustrating 18 months at Glory and didn’t really get the game time I think I deserved,” Makarounas said. “I think (coach Ian Ferguson) said he wanted to keep me but I had to make the decision what I thought was best for my career. After being there for a year-and-a-half and being frustrated, I thought it was time for me to move on.”
Makarounas is one of a growing number of West Australian youngsters to turn their backs on Glory. In recent years Mark Birighitti, Trent Sainsbury and Eli Babalj have made their marks in the national competition while in the past six months alone Adam Taggart, Sam Mitchinson, Mitch Oxborrow, Luke Radonich, Scott Galloway and Makarounas have been signed by eastern seaboard A-League clubs. “There are so many players that have played in the A-League that could have been at Glory, so that’s something they might have to look into,” commented Makarounas. 17-year old defender Galloway, a former State junior representative, was revealed today alongside Makarounas as one of Melbourne’s newest additions.
TWITTERING VUKOVIC MAY BE IN HOT WATER
Perth Glory goalkeeper Danny Vukovic could face sanctioning after taking to twitter to vent his anger at the sending off of teammate Josh Risdon in Saturday’s loss to Melbourne Victory. Vukovic demanded action from A-League chief executive Damien de Bohun over the performance of A-League referees after seeing a replay of the incident that led to match official Regis Queffelec to issue Risdon a second yellow card. “Just saw rizzo’s 2nd yellow. Absolute joke,” Vukovic posted. “@DamiendeBohun sort your refs out mate. Getting beyond a joke.” Vukovic later deleted the tweet but his comments are likely to be considered a breach of the players' code of conduct by A-League officials.
MELBOURNE SIGN GALLOWAY
Teenage defender Scott Galloway has signed his professional contract by joining Melbourne Victory. Galloway, who put pen to paper on a two-and-half-year deal, was understandably over the moon at joining Melbourne. “It’s a dream come true,” said 17-year old Galloway. “I’m very lucky that (coach Ange Postecoglou) has picked me to come to Melbourne Victory, which has always been a club I have looked up to and always wanted to play for and to get my first pro-contract at the club is unbelievable.” Galloway played three seasons in the National Training Centre and two summers with Perth Glory Youth before entering the Australian Institute of Sport program last year.
FIFA HONOURS FOR CHEESEMAN
Mathew Cheeseman can’t wait to make his international debut after becoming only the third West Australian to earn a FIFA assistant referee badge. Cheeseman joins Patrick McCaffrey and Michael Nugus in an exclusive group of local match officials to gain selection to FIFA’s assistant referee panel. “To be added to the international list is like a player being selected for a Socceroos squad,” Cheeseman commented. “It’s the equivalent of that in my opinion and now it’s just a case of continuing to work hard and waiting for that debut match. It’s something I’ve been dreaming of for a long time and I’ve been working hard to achieve it.”
Eddie Lennie, who officiated two games at the 1998 World Cup Finals in France, praised Cheeseman and highlighted the importance of his achievement. “It’s great that WA has a FIFA assistant referee’s badge back in the State and there’s nobody more deserving of it than Mathew,” said Lennie, who officiated close to 200 national league games. “He’s been rewarded for all the hard work and effort he’s put in over a number of years and I’m delighted for him.” Only eight WA officials have achieved FIFA status, McCaffrey, Nugus Cheeseman as assistants and referees Ted Bude, Roy Stedman, Barry Harwood, Lennie and Angelo Nardi.
Cheeseman, who ran the line in last season’s A-League Grand Final and has taken out the Golden Whistle the past three years, now has his sights on cracking the Asian Football Confederation’s elite panel. “They are the guys who do all the Asian Champions League games and World Cup qualifiers,” he said. “If you’re not on that panel then you might be restricted to friendlies or youth games, which is still a great achievement. At the moment we’ve got four referees and six assistant referees on the AFC Elite Panel, so it’s a matter of getting into that top six.”
HEARTBREAK FOR GLORY WOMEN
Perth Glory Women’s season has come to a controversial end, beaten 4-3 in a penalty shoot-out with Melbourne Victory at Perth Oval. Laura Spiranovic and Collette McCallum found the net in regulation time but with neither side able to add another, the game was sent to the penalty spot. With the score level at 3-3, Kaitlyn Savage saved Jessica McDonald’s effort only to be ruled to have moved early and with the retaken kick Melbourne progressed to the season finale. “Every ‘keeper moves at some stage,” Glory Women coach Jamie Harnwell said. “To make a decision on the final penalty kick, that’s going to be the one that we’re going take a stand on. That’s just poor refereeing for me.”
The home side were out early in a pulsating end-to-end encounter. Marianna Tabain played a searching pass through to De Vanna but after rounding goalkeeper Brianna Davey she lifted over the crossbar. Elisa D’Ovidio placed just wide after a dazzling run through the visiting defence, and Kate Gill’s hesitancy allowed Maika Ruyter-Hooley to block her shot. Melbourne then threatened with McDonald powering past Sasha Andrews to go one-on-one with Savage, who came off her line to smother. Another chance came the visitors’ way after 33 minutes, McDonald flicking onto Stephanie Catley whose shot drifted wide. All eyes turned to referee Katie Patterson when McDonald was brought down just inside the 18-yard box by Liz Milne, who was deemed to have won the ball.
Gill should have opened Glory Women’s account a minute after the break but Davey got a hand on the shot and Ruyter-Hooley cleared off the line. A quick break paid dividends at the opposite end of the park in the 52nd minute, Stephanie Catley crossing to the far post where Spiranovic stroked calmly into the net. McCallum equalised five minutes later via a trademark free-kick, the Glory captain curling into the top corner from 18-metres. Substitute Shannon May had a chance to put Glory Women ahead with her first touch but Davey made a comfortable save. And regulation time was near an end when Spiranovic latching onto a ball over the top but couldn’t get her volley on-target. The home side had a penalty appeal turned down soon after despite Ruyter-Hooley making contact with De Vanna.
The opening minute of extra-time produced another chance for Glory Women with Rosie Sutton’s glancing header going wide from a De Vanna near post cross. De Vanna unleashed a 22-metre bomb a minute later which drifted just past the target as Glory Women made clear the intention to regain the lead. Ruyter-Hooley kept her side in the game with a last-gasp tackle on De Vanna, who was again sent racing goalward following a tidy exchange of passes with Gill. Davey made a diving save to keep out Aivi Luik’s shot late in the first period, and the Melbourne ‘keeper breathed a sigh of relief when Gill lost her balance and placed wide in a one-on-one.
BABALJ BACK ON MELBOURNE’S RADAR
Socceroos striker Eli Babalj could be set for a shock return to Melbourne Heart within days after financially troubled Red Star Belgrade failed to meet their payment obligations. Red Star are reportedly yet to pay the final $100,000 of the $400,000 transfer fee agreed for Babalj when he joined the Serbian club in June. And while failure to pay the entire transfer fee seldom leads to a player returning to his original club, Melbourne inserted a contractual clause stipulating Babalj’s return should Red Star not pay the full amount. It is understood Babalj has been in regular contact with Melbourne officials since he returned to Belgrade a fortnight ago from the mid-season break.
EASY WIN FOR GLORY YOUTH
Perth Glory Youth’s finals hopes received a boost with this morning’s entertaining 5-2 victory over Adelaide United at Intiga Stadium. Chris Harold, Ryo Nagai, Riley Woodcock, Borbor Sam Bindi and Ndumba Makeche each found the net in a dominant team performance which avenges last months’ 6-2 loss to in Adelaide. It took the home side just 11 minutes to strike, Jack Clisby’s superb cross-field pass picking out Adrian Zahra who in turn turned up Harold to calmly convert from 12-metres. Clisby then tested Paul Izzo a thumping long-range drive before Makeche headed narrowly wide from a Ryan Lowry free-kick. Adelaide flickered briefly to life but Lewis Italiano tipped over Nigel Boogaard’s header. Glory should have had a second goal soon after when Nagai squared for Zahra who fired high.
The result was put beyond doubt in the opening minutes of the second half. Zahra darted down the right before finding Nagai who made no mistake with the simplest of chances from 5-metres. It became three-nil on 51 minutes when Woodcock fired in the rebound from a fierce Brandon O’Neill strike which Izzo could only parry. To their credit Adelaide did hit back with Jacob Melling punishing some hesitant defending to slot past Italiano. Dion Kirk’s goal eight minutes from full-time gave the Reds hope of salvaging something from the afternoon. Sam Bindi snuffed that out two minutes by sending the ball past Izzo for the fourth time, and in the final minute of regulation time Makeche ensured the points would go to the team in purple.
BAD DAY AT THE OFFICE FOR GLORY
Melbourne Victory collected maximum points on the west coast for the first time in over three years by downing Perth Glory 1-0 this evening at Perth Oval. The only goal of the game arrived midway through the first half when Glory defender Scott Jamieson put the ball in this own net to give Melbourne just their third win in 12 trips to Perth. Glory’s hopes of a second half comeback were snuffed out when defender Josh Risdon collected his second yellow card with just over twenty minutes to go. The result allows Melbourne to narrow the gap on second-placed Adelaide United to two points, while Glory remains in eighth position and winless in five games.
It took the away team only five minutes to fashion their first chance, Marco Rojas crossing to the far post where Archie Thompson forced a superb reflex save from Danny Vukovic and Spase Dilevski’s scrambled follow-up was headed off the line by Jacob Burns. Glory’s response was immediate, Shane Smeltz grazing the crossbar after rising highest to meet a Liam Miller corner. Melbourne got their noses in front on 24 minutes when Marcos Flores played down the left for Rojas whose teasing low centre was sent into the net by Jamieson, who was under pressure from Thompson. Glory came back to life in the minutes before the break. Steve McGarry’s header was deflected just wide by Mark Milligan, and soon after the Glory attacker’s swerving long-range effort had Nathan Coe at full-stretch.
Half-time substitute Nick Ward showed some nice touches as Glory lifted the tempo after the break. Travis Dodd stung the gloves of Coe with a powerful drive from 18-metres as Melbourne sat back, soaked up the pressure and pushed forward on the counterattack. Glory’s hopes suffered a massive blow on 68 minutes when referee Regis Queffelec sent off Risdon for a mistimed challenge on Leigh Broxham. Rojas had two chances to seal the win but was denied by Vukovic in a one-on-one, and in the final minute the attacker volleyed just over the bar. Glory went close to salvaging a point in stoppage time when substitute Ryo Nagai spun away from his marker and blasted past Coe only to crash against the underside of the bar, bounce on the line and bounce away from the net.
ATTACK IS GLORY’S KEY TO VICTORY
Ian Ferguson has vowed Perth Glory will meet fire with fire when they take on Melbourne Victory at Perth Oval on Saturday night. Melbourne trio Marco Rojas, Archie Thompson and Marcos Flores have been in fine form of later but the Glory coach believes best way to nullify their threat is to go on the offensive. “Rojas, Archie and Flores are on fire for them at the moment and (Mark) Milligan is doing a good job as well as a screener in midfield,” said Ferguson. “But we’re at home where we’ve only lost once this year and we’re pretty confident in our own backyard, so let’s take the game to Victory.”
Although Glory have won only two of their past 11 games, Ferguson feels they are more than capable of pushing their way into the finals over the seasons’ closing stages. “I don’t feel that we’re that far away,” he said. “I think we just need to tweak a couple of little things here and there and cut out the silly mistakes because every time we make a mistake at the moment, we seem to be getting punished for it. We’ve got to make sure that we’re tight and difficult to beat and keep our discipline. We are creating a lot of chances, but unfortunately they’ve not been going in, but I’m confident that’ll come.
Ferguson is playing his cards close to his chest when it comes to team selection for Saturday night. “We’re obviously close with Thwaitey (defender Michael Thwaite) in terms of whether he’s going to be in or out,” he said. “We’re going to give him every opportunity to prove his fitness. He’s been working very hard behind the scenes doing a lot of rehab, so we’ll see how he reacts to today’s session and make the call on him tomorrow. I don’t like to give out the team until I’ve spoken to the boys and let them know who’s in and who’s not. That’s just a courtesy and it’s something that I’ve always done.”
GOLDEN GILL READY FOR FINAL PUSH
Perth Glory Women striker Kate Gill cannot wait for Sunday’s semi-final with Melbourne Victory to get underway. Helping Glory Women to the W-League season finale would be the perfect way for Gill, whose 11 regular season finishes earned her the competitions Golden Boot award, to honour her return to action after missing a year of football due to a serious knee injury. “I always knew I would be back playing, but I never really put any expectations on myself,” commented Gill. “I am just happy to be back playing and everything else that happens is a bonus.”
Gill, the 2010 Asian Player of the Year, is understandably thrilled to be part of Glory Women’s first ever finals team. “It feels deserved to make it this far, we were written off at the start of the season and there is nothing more satisfying than proving people wrong,” Gill said. “I think what makes it so great is that we are able to repay Football West for the amount of time and effort they have invested in the team and also thank them for their belief and support, along with the great following of fans that we have.”
The only regular season between Glory Women and Melbourne took place over three months ago when the team in purple triumphed 2-0. Gill, who found the back of the net that afternoon along with Marianna Tabain, says her team would be wise not to read too much into that result. “They are a very improved side in relation to past seasons but also throughout this current season,” said the striker. “They have recruited well and have some great local talent. Given what is at stake, I know that they will be a very competitive side.”
The return of Lisa De Vanna from suspension is a massive boost for the Glory girls. “It’s great to have Lisa back, she adds that spark to the team, she is a game changer,” Gill said. “It is nice to be playing with someone whose game you know so well and who complements your style of football. “It is always enjoyable when we are playing well together and I can’t wait for the match.” A bumper crowd is expected at Perth Oval on Sunday for the W-League semi-final, which kicks-off at 1.00pm, with hometown fans encouraged to show their support by wearing purple.
MAKAROUNAS OFF TO MELBOURNE
Ange Postecoglou has continued his rebuild of Melbourne Victory by signing teenager Jesse Makarounas from Perth Glory. Having represented Australia at youth level, 18-year old Makarounas is rated one of the nation’s best young attackers and considered by many as a future Socceroo. A lack of opportunities at Glory, where he’s made only four substitute appearances in close to two years, have prompted the striker to seek the greener pastures of Melbourne. The departure of Makarounas is another blow to local development which has seen Trent Sainsbury, Adam Taggart, Eli Babalj, Sam Mitchinson, Mitch Oxborrow and Luke Radonich leave Perth in the past couple of years for other A-League clubs.
SUTTON IN RACE WITH TIME
Young striker Rosie Sutton is in a desperate battle to prove her fitness ahead of Perth Glory Women’s semi-final with Melbourne Victory. Sutton, who turns 23 tomorrow, suffered a quad injury during last week’s win over Adelaide United and will be on a modified training program to give her the best opportunity to play on Sunday. “I’m a bit worried to be honest, it’s taken longer than I expected to get over,” Sutton said. “I stupidly kept playing after getting injured thinking I’d be okay, but Jamie (Harnwell) has been great in giving me a different schedule to try and get up.”
Sutton, who bagged a hat-trick on her starting debut against Sydney FC in November, said making Sunday’s line-up is her only birthday wish. “At the start of the season I came over here wanting to just get on the bench, but now I’m hungry to start every game and score goals so I don’t want to miss out,” Sutton commented. “Being able to play and for us to win would be the best present ever … We need our best team out there to win the game so I will be doing everything I can to be a part of it.”
Sunday’s semi-final promises to be celebration of women’s football in West Australian. At half-time new Matildas coach Hesterine de Reus will present caps to former Matildas Sandra Brentnall, Julie Clayton, Sharon Loveless (Mateljan), Tracey Wheeler and Denise Lofthouse. The State Regional Under-17 Girls squad that took out last year’s Singa Cup will also be presented to the crowd, as well as the Perth Strikers masters team that won the Gold Medal at the 2012 Gold Coast Pan Pacific Masters Games. Glory Women takes on Melbourne from 1.00pm at Perth Oval on Sunday for a spot in next weekend’s W-League Grand Final.
YOUNG SWANS PREPARE TO SPREAD THEIR WINGS
Coach Mick Skowron has had one eye on the future as he assembles Swan United’s squad for the coming winter. The blacks and white senior list has been dramatically reworked by Skowron ahead of his first full season at the helm. And while some familiar faces are no longer on board, Skowron feels his young squad is more than capable of doing the job. “Right now a top four position would be a reasonable expectation,” the coach stated. “The skill level is quite high and the players coming in will be adequate replacements for those that have departed.”
The core of the new season Swan side is drawn from last year’s Reserves, who Skowron coached prior to moving to the first team position in August. “We finished last season with six Reserves players in the starting line-up,” explained Skowron. “Jordan Howell, Connor Anderson, Chris Marshall, Terry Monastra, Fraser Burt, Simon Falcone, Luke Colli, Mick Italiano, Tom Black, Mark Miraudo, Cameron Anderson, Owen Curtis and Seb DeCotter have all had some first team experience. We have a young squad which has been training very well and is full of enthusiasm. All spots are up for grabs so competition for starting spots is high.”
When Swan step out for their first game of the season it will be with a totally new line-up. “We have retained only one experienced player from last year, that being Trent Wood,” said Skowron. “John Monterosso, Rob Monterosso, Aaron Colli and Miki Vujacic are with Premier Division teams whilst Daniel Agudelo and David McNally are at Morley Windmills and Rory Mouttet has joined Canning City. Tommy Shepherd and Dom Ando have retired, Chi Noda is back in Japan, Chris Atkinson is returning to England and Lucas Whitehouse and Rory Hollingham didn’t return for pre-season. Michael Tronchin will be working up north and Brendan Knox continues to work overseas.”
With so many departures Skowron has added a few select recruits, some of whom are already familiar to Swan supporters. “Christian Lopez returns after being out for the past two seasons due to knee surgery, David Paone is back from two years working in Europe, Justin Skowron returns from Perth SC and Niall Hughes returns after a year away from the game,” the coach said. “We have also secured the services of Nic Tatasciore, Spiro Nenedic and Adam Skowron, who has spent two successful years at Peninsula College in the US where the team won back-to-back West Division titles as well as their first ever College Championship.”
With the top four placing this seasons goal, Skowron believes Swan will be playing top flight football again in the not too distant future. “With such a young squad we have a few years to develop a team to challenge for promotion and then do well in the Premier Division,” he said. “We’re currently building a team pretty much from scratch, so trying to get the best combination of players and fitting them into a system which suits them has been challenging. I’d expect this squad will reach its peak in three to five years and be a long term consistent performer in the Premier Division.”
YOUNG ‘KEEPERS BENEFIT FROM MILOSEVIC’S LOVE OF THE GAME
Danny Milosevic is eager to give back to the sport that gave him so much and promised even more before a mixture of injury, personal reasons and depression ended his career prematurely. The former Australian youth international is leading a group of 12 young goalkeepers on a tour of England to expose them to the joys and pitfalls of being a professional footballer at the elite level. “I am trying to find the next generation of Australian goalkeepers,” said Milosevic, manager of One2One Football and a part-time coach with the National Training Centre, told goal.com
The two-week itinerary includes stopovers at Leeds United, Manchester City, Fulham and Reading as well as attendance at FA Cup and English Premier League games. “It’s going to be a buzz and it’s going to be really exciting but the reality is that it’s tough training,” commented Milosevic, who was on the books of Leeds for more than four seasons. “It takes a certain type of person. Hopefully after this they can look at themselves and see where they’re at realistically and what they need to work on.”
Milosevic will also share the experiences he gleamed from playing professionally in Australia, England and Scotland, including the mental issues he suffered at Leeds and later Celtic. “I feared playing and failure. I feared being judged by people and letting them down,” he said. “I did try and get help in the UK but all they wanted to do was put me on tablets for the depression. I needed more than tablets. [The depression] floored me. All of a sudden I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders.”
Milosevic started his professional career with Canberra Cosmos and captained Australia at the Under-20 World Youth Cup before spending time in Germany. He joined Perth Glory for the 1999/2000 campaign but before the season was out had signed for Leeds, where a combination of injury and a falling out with manager Peter Reid denied him first team football. “He (Reid) was a bully and I spoke to the PFA (Professional Footballers Association) about him. I was told, If he does not like you he won’t pick you,” Milosevic recalls.
After loan spells with Wolverhampton Wanderers, Plymouth Argyle and Crewe Alexandra, Milosevic was signed by Celtic on a pay-as-you-play contract. Shortly after his father, Zoran, was diagnosed with a heart condition in Australia. “I was told he had a year to live so I packed my bags and headed home,” said Milosevic, who later played a season with New Zealand Knights. ““The club went into financial meltdown and I moved back to Perth. I ended up having ten sessions with a psychologist and it helped … My career did not pan out – with the right frame of mind I am sure it would have been different.”
Milosevic is determined that the next generation of goalkeepers will be as best prepared as possible for the challenges and rigours ahead. “Young people have massive stars in their eyes but this will enable them to experience life at a professional club,” he said. “Football does not owe me anything but I have learned a lot of things which I want the next generation to find out about. By educating them early in what they can expect hopefully will open doors for them. Football cannot be handed to you – you have got to earn the right.”
GLORY WOMEN STARS REACH 50-GAMES
Perth Glory Women stars Elisa D’Ovidio and Marianna Tabain both make their 50th W-League appearance in Sunday’s historic semi-final with Melbourne Victory at Perth Oval. The attack-minded pair has been with Glory Women since day one and this season have been key figures in the club securing ending the regular season in second spot. “There are heaps of emotions going around at the moment but the girls are pretty pumped,” said D’Ovidio. “We’ve got a good atmosphere amongst the squad at the moment. We can’t wait to get out there on Sunday.”
Tabain, who like D’Ovidio has come through the local development pathway to reach the national league, is pleased to reach 50 games in what has already been Glory Women’s most successful campaign. “Obviously it’s been a really rough five years, but I’m looking forward to getting out there and hopefully getting the win,” said Tabain, who is looking forward to the return from suspension of Matilda’s striker Lisa De Vanna. “With her pace up front we have a bit of an outlet and she also brings her experience to the team.”
Although Glory Women won 3-1 in Adelaide last weekend, D’Ovidio says there is plenty of room for improvement in terms of the overall team performance. “To tell you the truth we were actually a bit scrappy in the first half. We went in at half-time and had a chat about a few things and we knew we had to get a good result, so second half we went out and we were better,” said D’Ovidio, who is counting on strong support from the Perth crowd this weekend.
‘HOME OF FOOTBALL’ HINGES ON GOVERNMENT FUNDING
Football West are awaiting a funding commitment from the State Government towards a proposed new ‘home of football’. Late last year Football West called for expressions of interest to partner with clubs, universities or local governments to develop the facility. That process is now complete and Peter Hugg, the organisation’s chief executive, has subsequently had positive discussions with the Government towards making the concept become reality. “At the moment, everything is 110 per cent reliant on a funding commitment from the State Government, which will hopefully come in the election period,” Hugg told inmycommunity.com.au
While reluctant to reveal the preferred ‘home of football’ site, Hugg said the size of the facility, which has been costed at upwards of $15 million, may be smaller than planned. “We are prepared to compromise on the footprint of the area, which we initially said would be a minimum area of 40,000sqm. That’s the size of about four football fields, and if we need to drop that to three that’s something we are prepared to do.” Hugg said. Football West’s current administration centre is at Gibbney Reserve, Maylands, under a lease agreement with the City of Bayswater that expires in 2024.
BURNS LOOKING FORWARD TO “MUST-WIN” ENCOUNTER
Perth Glory must collect all the points on offer from this weekend clash with an in-form Melbourne Victory according to team captain Jacob Burns. Melbourne ventures west in third place and Burns says it’s time for his team to show how serious they are about making this seasons’ finals. “It’s a must-win,” stated Burns. “Victory have been in very good form and are sitting above us in the table, so it’s an opportunity to test ourselves against one of the best attacking teams in the league at this moment. We’ve been strong at home and obviously we want to continue that form. Our target remains the same; to go one better than last year and that never changes.”
Key to Glory’s chances on Saturday night will be their containment of strikers Archie Thompson and Marco Rojas, who’ve bagged 15 goals between them so far this season. “We’ve got to be very mindful of the pace of Thompson and Rojas up front,” Burns said. “That’s something we’ve been working on all week and will continue to do ahead of Saturday. We’ve seen the combination time and time again with Rojas and Archie getting down the wings, crossing balls for each other and getting on the end of things … we need to make sure that we lock up shop when they are trying to break forward and counter them when we can.”
While Melbourne’s attack will need to be carefully watched, Burns feels Glory have enough firepower on board to test a defence that has leaked 27 goals in 16 games. “If there’s something we can exploit, I think it’s their defence,” commented Burns. “They’ve got very capable players going forward but we do too if you look at our personnel and we’re going to test them down their end … no-one has had more possession or more chances than us, we’ve just fallen for a sucker punch in a few of the games. It’s a harder pill to swallow when you’re playing well and not getting the results, that’s for sure.”
WESTERN AUSTRALIA'S GOLDEN GENERATION (by Michael Cockerill, footballaustralia.com.au)
Historically, Western Australia hasn’t exactly been a hotbed of talent. In the pre-National Soccer League era, the tyranny of distance kept the best players at home, well away from the watchful eyes of those who picked the national team. In the first 20 years of the NSL, the absence of a Perth side meant players like Robbie Zabica, Robbie Dunn, Arno Bertogna, Tony Franken and Gary Marocchi had to head east to pursue their dreams - doing it well enough to wear the green and gold. But it was hit-and-miss.
The arrival of Perth Glory in 1996 finally gave the best from the west a platform and true to the charter of founding owner Nick Tana, the coach (Marocchi) and a decent percentage of the players were homegrown. But still, in the eyes of successive national coaches, picking a player from the west remained an exception rather than the rule. Most of the handful of players who did play for the Socceroos just before and just after the turn of the century - among them Stan Lazaridis, Shaun Murphy, Alistair Edwards and Chris Coyne - were playing overseas and essentially couldn’t be ignored.
So what’s changed? Plenty. Over the last few years, a development pathway has emerged which is the equal - if not better - than most other states. It’s pumping out an extraordinary conveyor belt of talent. Just take a look at this list - Josh Ridson (Perth Glory), Trent Sainsbury (Central Coast Mariners), Adam Taggart (Newcastle Jets), Eli Babalj (Red Star Belgrade), Julius Davies (Brisbane Roar), Sam Mitchinson (Melbourne Heart) and Cameron Edwards (Melbourne Heart). All the same age and all graduates of the local National Training Centre program.
Give or take a few years, you can add Scott Neville (Newcastle Jets), Shane Lowry (Millwall), Ryan Williams (Fulham), Aryn Williams (Burnley), Ryan Edwards (Reading), Rhys Williams (Middlesbrough), Chris Herd (Aston Villa), Mitchell Oxborrow (Newcastle Jets), Tom King (Stoke City), Cameron Burgess (Fulham), Alex Grant (Portsmouth) and Callum Richardson (Burnley) to an impressive list. Some came through the NTC, others through the nursery of ECU Joondalup, a State League club with a hotline to England.
Either way, they’re proud Sandgropers. Most have played for Australia at either senior, or youth level. Largely, they’ve got their best years ahead of them. From a state which has made its wealth from mining, this truly is football’s mother lode. “We were sitting around the other day working out what sort of West Australian team we could put out in a couple of years, and we were blown away,” says Kenny Lowe, coach of the NTC. “I can’t say whether it's the golden age for WA, but it would definitely be some team.”
Gareth Naven, who has developed a tight-knit partnership with Lowe in his role as Perth Glory Youth coach, is less circumspect. “I’ve never known a group like it,” he says. “For the first time, we’ve got the right structures in place for the players to go from one pillar to the next. You’re a young kid over here, and you can play NTC as well as for a State League club, and that gives you 40 games a year. Then you come to us, and from there the world opens up. Everyone is starting to work together, and you can see the results. We’re hitting all the right targets, which is pleasing.”
In recent years at national youth championships level, WA have been excelling. In 2011, Lowe's team claimed the coveted NTC Challenge title - an award based not just on results, but on playing style. Lowe might have spent his playing career in England's non-league environment, but the premium he placed on skill as a player has been the cornerstone of his coaching philosophy. A reminder that you should never judge a book by its cover. Lowe’s beliefs, and his methods, are universally acclaimed within the development system. Certainly he deserves enormous credit for the incredible success of his program over the nine years since he’s been in charge.
There have been other factors, of course. The influx of African migrants has provided a rich seam of raw talent and the establishment of the National Youth League has helped. But fundamentally Lowe has been able to establish something special in the west. “Every time one of our kids signs a pro contract, there’s a bit of pride that we might have played a part in that,” says Lowe. “I think what we’ve got here is the right environment for people to succeed. We’re basically one big family, where the players are always the focus and there’s only two basic rules. We want them to leave here as better players and we want them to leave here as better people.”
Perhaps the only disappointment in what’s otherwise a great success story is that so few of these players kick-off their professional careers with Glory, their hometown club. When Newcastle Jets visited Perth Oval recently, there were as many Sandgropers in the away dressing room as the home one. Lowe declines to make a judgement on that, saying only: “I’d love it if all the players were at the Glory, but it’s probably the same at every club” Maybe. But at the very least, in this Golden Age in the Golden West, it’s an oversight the club would do well to address.
NEW FINISHER IS FERGUSON’S GOAL
Ian Ferguson is hopeful the recruitment of a new attacking option can help Perth Glory turn their season around. Glory, which has won just two of its past 11 matches, have been scouring the globe for a replacement striker following the recent departure of Billy Mehmet and Ferguson’s fingers are crossed that his search will reap rewards sooner rather than later. “We’re hoping to try to get something over the line this week, but it’s been difficult,” Ferguson said. “All the players we’ve approached are all interested, but the thing is they want longer terms, which I can’t do at the moment and it's a long way to come. The players want the guarantee of a 16-month contract. If the right player comes along at the right age then we’ll consider that, but at this point in time it’s been difficult.”
LOWRY WON'T CHANGE HIS GAME
Millwall defender Shane Lowry will not change his aggressive style of play despite collecting more yellow cards than any other player in England’s Championship. Lowry picked up his tenth booking of the season by being cautioned against Bolton Wanderers on Saturday and in the process copped an automatic two-game suspension, which will rule him out of an FA Cup encounter with former club Aston Villa. “I’m disappointed but, at the same time I can’t go into games worrying about getting booked,” the 23-year old said. “I’m not going to change my game – that’s just me. Obviously I need to get the bookings down but I’ll carry on in the same way.”
Lowry recently switched to left-back and, while there were some initial reservations he is now relishing his new role. “At the start, I wasn’t too keen about it. I still see myself as a centre-half but the gaffer has given me a lot of confidence to play on the left,” Lowry said. “I seem to be thriving on it and I’m enjoying it now. I’ve got three or four assists from left-back and hopefully I can chip in with more goals from set-pieces. I’m part of a back four that’s doing really well at the moment. A settled back four is key. At the start of the season we had a few injuries and suspensions, so there was some chopping and changing.”
TAGGART READY TO FIRE
Striker Adam Taggart is growing in confidence with every outing for Newcastle Jets. Taggart, who parted company with Perth Glory over the winter in search of first team football, has looked sharp in recent games and says it’ll only be a matter of time before he starts scoring goals. “Getting a bit longer time on the field gives you a bit more confidence and a bit more time to get into the game and try and do a couple of things,” 19-year old Taggart told footballaustralia.com.au. “At the moment my main objective is just to try and get on the scoresheet a bit more and put the ball in the back of the net.”
HOME FINAL FOR GLORY WOMEN
Perth Glory Women will play their first ever finals game on home soil after finishing the W-League regular season in second spot. After defeating Adelaide United on Saturday, Glory Women were in celebration mode yesterday when Melbourne Victory slipped to third place after being held to a point by Newcastle Jets. Glory Women are undefeated in six home games this season and a bumper crowd is expected for Sunday’s meeting with Melbourne at Perth Oval, kick-off at 1.00pm. The spoils for the winner will be a Grand Final appearance against the victor of the Brisbane Roar-Sydney FC semi-final.
SIX OF THE BEST FROM GLORY YOUTH
Perth Glory Youth had six separate goal scorers as they overturned a half-time deficit to run out victors by 6-4 over Newcastle Jets at Wanderers Oval this morning. A dominance first half from Newcastle was rewarded by a 3-1 lead at the interval courtesy of Marko Jesic’s brace and a stunning individual effort by Bernardo Ribeiro which cancelled Chris Harold’s early penalty conversion. Jack Clisby halved the difference shortly after restart before Borbor Sam Bindi, Riley Woodcock, Adrian Zahra and Moses Kalau netted within 20 minutes of each other to turn the game on its head. Jesic completed his hat-trick late in the piece but it wasn’t enough to prevent Glory Youth from moving two points outside the top four.
The opening goal of a remarkable game arrived after 10 minutes when Harold tucked in from the spot following goalkeeper Ben Kennedy’s minute foul on Harry O’Brien. Newcastle needed just three minutes to respond, Riberio working himself into space before unleashing a superb shot into the top corner from 15-metres. From that point on the home side controlled the first half. 32 minutes were on the clock when Jesic fired in a low shot from just outside the 18-yard box. Jesic got his second a few minutes later, the striker’s shot on the turn from 16-metres arrowing inside the far post for a three-one lead. Adam Taggart should have added to Newcastle’s tally but smacked one shot into the upright and another into the arms of ‘keeper Jordan Franken.
Clisby dragged Glory Youth back into the game five minutes after half-time with a glorious free-kick following a foul on Zahra by Nicholas Cowburn. Parity was restored in the 61st minute when Zahra cut the ball back for substitute Sam Bindi to curl past substitute ‘keeper Nicholas Hartnett. The momentum was now with the visitors and on 68 minutes Woodcock was afforded far too much time to lift an angled shot over Hartnett and into the far corner. Ten minutes Zahra headed in the rebound from a shot by Kalua, who sealed the win soon after by poking the ball in during a goalmouth scramble. Newcastle kept fighting with two minutes left Jesic completed his hat-trick from the spot following Franken’s foul on Ribeiro.
FOOTBALL WEST GOES WITH HEALTHY OPTION
Football West has secured close to $1 million in sponsorship from the State Government. Healthway have committed $930,000 over three years to Football West in return for promoting anti-smoking messages and boycotting fast-food endorsements. It is part of a push by the Government health promotion agency to encourage sporting clubs to sever ties with junk food and alcohol companies. Football West chief executive Peter Hugg said his organisation has always preferred to “steer clear” of fast-food sponsorship and products and brands that could send the wrong message.
Healthway has been a sponsor of Football West for several years but the new deal focuses on promoting the Smarter than Smoking message through juniors as well as the Perth Glory Women national league team. “Football remains the most played sport in WA,” Hugg told Cathy O’Leary of the ‘West Australian’ newspaper. “The success and growing popularity of Australia’s national team, the Matildas and our own Perth Glory Women’s team are helping increase the number of female participants, who share the ambition of representing their State and country.”
Rosanna Capolingua, Healthway chairman, called on other sports to distance themselves from sponsors that promoted unhealthy messages such as junk food and alcohol to children. “Football has made a very clear choice about having only healthy sponsorship and there are now only a handful of sports that are not coming onboard,” said Capolingua. “People carry on about us being teetotallers or prohibitionists but that is not true. We’re responding to what parents expect and we’re concerned about the health and safety of West Australians.”
GILL FIRES WOMEN TO GLORY
Perth Glory Women kept alive their hopes of a home final with a resounding 3-1 victory over Adelaide United at Burton Park. A Kate Gill goal midway through the first half was all that separated the side at the end of 45 minutes in which the visiting team created by far the better openings. Racheal Quigley restored parity shortly after the restart but Glory Women soon enough hit back with Gill netting for the second time before Marianna Tabain sealed victory close to the final whistle. The win lifts Glory Women into second place, which comes with a home final, however, they’ll finish the regular season in third should Melbourne Victory defeat last-placed Newcastle Jets tomorrow.
There were early chances at both ends of the park but goalkeepers Kristi Harvey and Kaitlyn Savage stood tall to meet all challenges. The game didn’t really come to life until Glory Women edged in front after 18 minutes when Tabain’s cross was misjudged by defender Ann Mayo and fell kindly to Gill, who nudged it past Harvey despite the keeper’s best efforts. Quigley was unlucky not to equalise with a stunning shot that curled away from the top corner. Gill then turned provider for strike partner Rose Sutton whose prod past the ‘keeper rolled narrowly wide. On 34 minutes Gill have the ball in the net for a second time but an offside flag cut short any celebrations.
Eager to extend their lead, Glory Women put their foot on the gas after the break but Sutton headed straight at Harvey and Carys Hawkins nodded another opportunity high. On 52 minutes Adelaide conjured an unlikely equaliser when Abby Erceg’s a long diagonal ball found Quigley, who Quigley fended off the last defender before nodding over Savage. Sutton responded with a stinging drive which Harvey tipped onto the bar with Gill lashing the rebound high. Gill made amends on 65 minutes by rising highest to meet a Collette McCallum corner which she nodded beyond the reach of Harvey. The result was made safe on 88 minutes when Tabain applied a simple finish from Gill’s cutback.
GLORY RUE MISSES OPPORTUNITIES
Adelaide United kept the pressure on A-League leaders Central Coast Mariners with last night’s 3-2 defeat of Perth Glory at Hindmarsh Stadium. Defensive lapses allowed Jeronimo Neumann to score twice before Iain Ramsey added the hosts’ third just after the break for a comfortable lead. In between that trio of goals Glory squandered several chances and it wasn’t until late that Shane Smeltz and Steve McGarry brought a modicum of respectability to the scoreline. “The boys did well in the first half and created a few good chances ourselves, but the goals we lost were just silly, silly goals,” said coach Ian Ferguson. “The first time we couldn’t clear the ball and for the second goal there’s a gap there you could drive a bus through.”
Jeronimo, who came off the bench after barely a minute to replace an injured Bruce Djite, should have put the home side ahead on 8 minutes when a Bas Van Den Brink error gifted the striker an opening which he placed tamely at goalkeeper Danny Vukovic. Twelve minutes later Ramsay’s dangerous free-kick caused panic in the visiting defence as Jeronimo, Dario Vidosic and Evan Kostopoulos tried in vain to force the ball. Glory then wasted a chance of their own, an unmarked McGarry heading high at the back post. That miss came back to haunt the visitors on 28 minutes when Scott Jamieson’s sliced clearance spun past Vukovic and into the path of Jeronimo, who had no problem tucking into an unguarded net.
Two minutes later Glory had three chances in quick succession to pull a goal back without success. A venomous long-range attempt by McGarry crashed into the upright, Smeltz’s follow-up was blocked by Antony Golec and with the third bite of the cherry Liam Miller’s low strike lacked the power required to beat Galekovic. The visitors continued to work openings but Travis Dodd’s effort was off-target and Smeltz placed too close to Galekovic. Adelaide took the ball straight to the other end and doubled their advantage in the 37th minute when Vidosic played a delightful long pass through the defence, Jeronimo racing clear of the last man and from a narrowing angle slotted low past Vukovic.
Adelaide further extended their lead a minute after the interval, Ramsay hitting a stunning volley from 15-metres into the top corner after Vidosic’s corner was only partially cleared. Although three goals down, Glory refused to give up hope and had it not been for the brilliant reflexes of Galekovic then Smeltz would have reduced the deficit midway through the half. Smeltz eventually found the net with a minute remaining, the striker converting a contentious penalty awarded when he went ground under minimal slight contact from defender Antony Golec. The game was in stoppage time when McGarry chested down a long diagonal ball out of defence and angled his finish across Galekovic to set up a tense final minute.
HISTORY MEANS NOTHING SAYS GLORY BOSS FERGUSON
Perth Glory’s good recent record against Adelaide United will count for nothing when the sides meet this evening according to away coach Ian Ferguson. Glory have won four and drawn one of their past five meetings with the Reds but Ferguson says his team knows better than to rely on history. “We’ve got a good record but it means nothing in the A-League,” Ferguson told Shayne Hope of the ‘West Australian’ newspaper. “Teams can turn you over and Adelaide are a good side at this present moment. But we’ve got a good team here and I’ve got belief that these boys will take us through and get us into the finals.”
Local talents Brandon O'Neill and Jesse Makarounas are in line to play off the bench as Ferguson looks to make use of his full squad. “We’ve played a lot of games over the festive period and we need to start making some changes and adding the younger ones in,” said the coach. “It’s going to be nice to get them some game time, whether it be 30 minutes, 15 minutes or whatever. It’s always good experience for them to come in and play and build them up and get them used to that environment. That’s what we’ve got to do now. The last 12 games or so are going to be about bringing the younger ones through.”
HARNWELL “HOPEFUL” OF SNEAKING HOME FINAL
Perth Glory Women need maximum points from this weekend’s visit to Adelaide United if they are to claim their first W-League premiership and crucial home semi-final. Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory remain favourites to finish top of the table but should both slip up then third-placed Glory Women are ready to pounce. “We are still hopeful of getting a home semi-final,” said coach Jamie Harnwell. “Brisbane has a tough game against Canberra United and hopefully Newcastle United can replicate their performance against us, and cause an upset against Victory … we still have to win against Adelaide and that will be our primary focus.”
Harnwell is happy with his team’s preparation for tomorrow’s game and is looking for a big performance from his players. “Adelaide cannot be underestimated,” said Harnwell. “They pride themselves on their work rate and commitment and we will have to match them in that before worrying about anything else. We will be looking to put them under pressure from the first whistle and imposing ourselves on the game.” Defender Carys Hawkins, who missed last week’s draw with Newcastle, will become the first Glory Women player to make 50 appearances when she runs out at Burton Park tomorrow.
WANNEROO’S JONES ON COURSE FOR START OF LEAGUE
Wanneroo City captain Anthony Jones has pencilled in the start of the new Division One campaign for his return from long-term injury. It’s been seven months almost to the day since Jones suffered a season-ending broken leg at Morley Windmills and having allowed his body time to heal itself the no-nonsense defender is champing at the bit to get back out on the park. “My leg has healed really well, if fact the physio and doctors have said that it’s stronger now than before,” said Jones. “Week one of the new season is my aim. Obviously I’ll need to get in a few friendlies to regain my match fitness but I have four months until the season starts so I’m confident I’ll be ready.”
Wanneroo are one of the early favourites to take out the Division One title and Jones says getting their hands on the trophy is priority number one. “Promotion and the title is our only aim this year, if we don’t achieve that then the year will be deemed unsuccessful,” explained Jones, whose team have been in pre-season mode since late last month. “Prior to Christmas we had six sessions which involved lots of short, sharp ball work and small-sided games. Our first session of 2013 was on Saturday and from there it’s full steam ahead. We will be firing on all cylinders come April and the season proper, anything else achieved before then will be a bonus.”
Jones could not be happier with his teams’ only confirmed signing to date, former State striker Stuart Montgomery. “We have made an excellent signing in Stuart Montgomery, who I rate as one of the top three hardest to play against strikers I came up against in my State League career,” commented Jones, who counts Swan United, Floreat Athena and ECU Joondalup amongst his former clubs. “Stuart will give us a new dimension in attack and will offset the losses of Josh Booysen and Brian Cairney. We also have a few other notable players training with us at the moment but they’ve not yet signed, and we’ve retained the rest of the squad from last year.”
There were a lot of lessons learnt by Wanneroo last year which Jones believes will serve the team well when 2013 kicks off. “We topped the league for half the season but for the last two months we had six starters missing, mostly through injury and suspension, which really killed our title challenge,” he said. “If we can keep the whole squad together for the entire season then we’ll be successful, although we might have to ban mid-season holiday! A new season always brings a lot of change but our settled and familiar squad gives us a great base as most of the lads have been playing together for five or six years … you can’t buy that kind of closeness and understanding overnight.”
BABALJ HAS “NO REGRETS” DESPITE EUROPEAN ORDEAL
Eli Babalj describes his first six months with Red Star Belgrade as a “nightmare” but the Socceroos striker has no regrets about his move to Europe. Babalj joined the club he supported as a boy believing his dream had become reality, however, things soon turned sour with a change of coach leading to the 20-year old dropping down Red Star’s pecking order. Despite these setbacks, Babalj wouldn’t retrace his steps if he had his time over again. “No regrets, you never know what can happen in life. You can worry about stepping in a pothole when you’re walking to the deli,” he said. “Things haven’t gone the way I would’ve liked but that’s football and life – and I’ve just got to move on and keep working hard.”
Babalj signed a four-year deal with Red Star in June but within two months Robert Prosinecki, the coach who’d brought him to the club, was replaced. With Babalj unable to play due to delays with his transfer from Melbourne Heart, new coach Aleksandar Jankovic began remodelling the side with one of his signings, Ognjen Mudrinski, slotting into the position Babalj was trying to make his own. “It was a bit of dream but from the day I got there everything turned opposite and it was, to be fair, a nightmare,” Babalj told footballwest.com.au. “The coach leaves before you can start playing. A new coach comes in, he signs a couple of his players. A striker comes in and scores a hat-trick on debut … it makes it difficult.”
Thankfully the past few months have been kinder on Babalj, the striker netting on his club debut against Smederevo before gaining his first two caps for Australia. “It was a dream to play for the Socceroos and when it did happen I was really grateful and I’m hoping to be a part of future squads,” said Babalj of his international debut against South Korea and the subsequent outing with Guam. Now with six Red Star appearances to his credit, Babalj is determined to build on these successes when the Serbian league resumes at the end of February. “It’s going to be difficult but I just want to put in every session because you never know when you might get a chance.”
DAVIES SIGNS WITH BRISBANE
Former Australian youth striker Julius Davies will play for Brisbane Roar following his release by Melbourne Victory. Liberia-born Davies has put pen to paper on a two-and-a-half-year contract with Brisbane. “I’ve been aware of him with his recent past with Melbourne Victory and before that, with Bayern Munich,” said coach Mike Mulvey. “He’s an exciting young prospect, quick, creative and I’m sure the Brisbane Roar fans will enjoy seeing him play. He can play in any of the wide positions but we’ll see at training where he fits best within our system.”
Davies’ move to Brisbane comes after he was released by mutual agreement by Melbourne, where he made just two senior appearances in 12 months. “It was a great experience and I am really glad I had the opportunity with Melbourne Victory even though it did not work out as I had hoped,” Davies said. “I want to thank all my teammates who have been great to me during my time here in Melbourne. I also wish to thank everyone at the Melbourne Victory for their support and I look forward to the next challenge in my career.”
Liberia-born Davies arrived in Perth as an 11-year old via the refugee camps of his war torn homeland. He played locally for Dianella White Eagles and the National Training Centre, earning State junior honours along the way, before heading to Germany where he played two years in Bayern Munch’s youth development system and another with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim. Davies returned to Australia early last year to link with Melbourne, however, first team opportunities were few and far between with the young attacker’s only outings coming towards the end of last season.
GLORY CAN BEAT ANYONE: JAMIESON
Defender Scott Jamieson has no doubt Perth Glory can become only the second side to defeat Adelaide United on their home patch this season. Adelaide are riding high in second place thanks in no small part to a near perfect record at Hindmarsh Stadium, however, Jamieson Glory has nothing to fear head when they venture to the City of Churches on Friday evening. “I’m pretty confident that we can beat anyone on our day and that includes Adelaide,” commented Jamieson. “Adelaide have been in good form throughout the whole season. They’ve been consistent, but Friday is a good opportunity for our boys to stand up and beat one of the top two teams.”
DJULBIC EXCITED BY AL WAHDA MOVE
Socceroos centre-back Dino Djulbic has signed an 18-month contact with former United Arab Emirates champions Al Wahda. Djulbic, who recently helped Guizhou Renhe finish fourth in the Chinese Super League, arrived in the UAE just over a week ago and can’t wait to pull his boots on for Al Wahda. “I am very excited to hopefully take this club forward and help them to achieve their goals in the future,” said 29-year old Djulbic. “All the players have welcomed me and the football they play is great. I am now waiting for the paper work to be completed so I can play as soon as I can.”
Djulbic rejected offers from clubs in China, Korea, Japan and Qatar to play in the UAE. “I had a good season in China and when you do well there are a lot of offers,” the towering defender commented. “One of the big reasons why I chose Al Wahda is because of coach Branko Ivankovic, whom I know from China. He is successful as a coach I know what he can do. The other reason is Al Wahda are traditionally a top club in the country (and) I just want to be part of it. I am looking forward to the challenges and win as many games as possible.”
Born in Bosnia, Djulbic played youth football in Germany before moving to Perth at the age of 16. Seven seasons with Perth SC led the defender to Victoria where he turned out for Frankston Pines and South Melbourne. His A-League debut arrived in mid-2007 with Perth Glory but after one-and-a-half seasons Djulbic returned to Germany to sign with Rot Weiss Ahlen, where injury curtailed his progress. By January 2009 he was back in Australia playing for Gold Coast United, and 16-months later he signed a two-season deal with Guizhou Renhe.
SHORTER, SHARPER SESSIONS THE ORDER OF THE DAY
Training sessions will be shorter and sharper as Perth Glory attempt to respond to this week’s stifling conditions in their hometown. Perth is in the middle of a heatwave and midfielder Travis Dodd says how the side prepares for their upcoming visit to Adelaide United will having a major bearing on the outcome of Friday’s game. “Generally the sessions are shorter because of the heat and we’ve started training a bit earlier (in the day) than what we did at the start of the year,” Dodd said. “We just try to stay out of the sun as much as we can, stay hydrated and prepare as best we can for the next game.”
The focus of recent sessions has been on Glory maintaining their shape and structure, areas which coach Ian Ferguson felt cost them victory over Sydney FC last time out. “We spoke about that this morning at training and identified that as one of the things that need to be addressed for this week,” Dodd commented. “We’ve got a couple of sessions before our next game and that will certainly be something we look at fixing for the weekend.” Central defender Bas van den Brink will return from suspension to bolster the back four in Adelaide, where Glory have won two and drawn one of their past three games.
FERGUSON RULES OUT MOVING ON OWEN
Perth Glory has abandoned talks to bring injury-plagued striker Michael Owen to the A-League. Glory revealed a few days ago that they were in talks with Owen’s representatives over the possibility of signing the 33-year old, however, coach Ian Ferguson says the former England international is not the type of player he is looking for. “Michael is a player who comes with a high pedigree but it’s not the direction I want to take the club,” Ferguson said. “I am looking for a younger player and a player who has been playing more regularly. I have three or four irons in the fire that I am pursuing.”
TOP FOUR STILL IN THE OFFERING SAYS SMELTZ
Striker Shane Smeltz says Perth Glory are still capable of a top four finish despite allowing bottom side Sydney FC to come from behind twice to sneak a 2-2 draw on Saturday. Glory remain fifth on the A-League table but are now four points outside the top four as a result of Western Sydney Wanderers defeat of Central Coast Mariners yesterday. “There’s still a long way to go and we’re confident that we can be in there for sure,” Smeltz told Shayne Hope of the ‘West Australian’. “We’ve got a good bunch of games coming up and we need to knuckle down and try to get as many points as we can.”
Smeltz, who had found the net just twice in his previous seven games, hit what should have been a match-winning double against Sydney. “It’s obviously pleasing to be scoring but it’s probably a little bit of a disappointing feeling this morning,” Smeltz admited. “It sort of feels like we dropped two points at home in a way. We probably should’ve had it wrapped up after going in front twice at home. If you’re scoring goals at home you expect to win but the boys understand we gave that game away … We’ve got another game Friday in Adelaide and we have to focus for that one now.”
DE VANNA SUSPENDED
Perth Glory Women will be without star striker Lisa De Vanna for this weekend’s crucial trip to Adelaide United. Jamie Harnwell’s side heads to the City of Churches requiring just a single point to secure a top four finish and a debut W-League finals appearance. However, De Vanna will be taking no part in the game as she serves the second week of a suspension handed down by Football Federation Australia for comments she made last month on twitter which were in breach of the National Code of Conduct. For her indiscretion De Vanna was given an immediate two-game suspension, with an additional four games to be tacked on should the striker breach the Code again inside 12 months or fail she fail to undergo appropriate counselling and education as determined by FFA.
GLORY YOUTH GO DOWN TO AIS
The Australian Institute of Sport registered their first win of the season with this afternoon’s 2-1 upset of Perth Glory Youth at Intiga Stadium. Late free-kicks from Matthew Schmidt and Joshua Barresi earned the visitors all the points on offer after Andy Higgins had given Glory Youth the lead midway through the second half. In a scoreless first half it was the hosts who had the better chances. Chris Harold forced a good save from goalkeeper Jordan Thurtell, who soon after kept out a spectacular bicycle kick by Jacob Collard. The AIS were unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty following a dangerous tackle inside the 18-yard box.
The deadlock wasn’t broken until the 70th minute when Andy Higgins produced a smart finish to put Glory Youth in the lead. The home side should have sealed the game I the minutes that followed, Borbor Sam Bindi squandering a golden opportunity by firing into the post after which Blamo Quaqua placed narrowly wide of the target. Those misses were punished when Schmidt levelled the score by sending a dead ball over the defensive wall and inside the opposite corner. Barresi then stole the visitors victory when his free-kick bounced in front of ‘keeper Jordan Franken and slipped through his fingers to creep into the net.
GLORY CONSIDERING EX-ENGLAND STRIKER OWEN
Perth Glory has confirmed they are talks to bring former England striker Michael Owen to the A-League. Owen, 33, made a name for himself at Liverpool before spells with Real Madrid, Newcastle United, Manchester United and Stoke City, to who he is currently contracted. “Michael Owen’s agent has enquired about Michael playing in the A-League,” said a Glory spokesman. “Perth Glory are interested but are yet to find out Michael’s terms and conditions. Until these are known, Perth Glory will not enter any further negotiations.” In a glittering club career Owen has played almost 477 games, netting 221 goals, while on the international stage he donned England colours on 89 occasions, scoring 40 goals.
Coach Ian Ferguson says Glory have other players in their sights should they be unsuccessful in luring Owen to Perth. “We are always looking to bring in reinforcements,” said Ferguson. “The January window is now open and there are one or two things that we are working on at the moment. Hopefully we can continue to pursue those and get somebody in. We have got one or two irons in the fire overseas and we're waiting to see what happens with those, whether they are still progressing. We have put a couple of things to certain players and hopefully if it comes off, it'll be great for Perth Glory.” Glory has one place available on their roster for an international player following the release of Irish striker Billy Mehmet.
SMELTZ DOUBLE NOT ENOUGH AS SYDNEY SNEAK A SHARE
Shane Smeltz rediscovered his goal scoring touch with a sensational double but it wasn’t enough as Sydney FC came from behind to salvage a 2-2 draw at Perth Oval tonight. Smeltz twice had Glory in front only to have Jason Culina and Sebastian Ryall level the score, the latter following an error by home custodian Danny Vukovic. “It feels as though it’s a loss because we actually got the lead back and got ourselves into a great position, and then you all saw what happened,” Glory coach Ian Ferguson said. “It’s unfortunate for Danny. He has been great for us this season and has pulled off some fantastic saves, but that’s what happens. Goalkeepers will be kicked in the teeth at times, and he’s big enough and ugly enough to get back on it again.”
Glory hit the ground running to have the ball in the net after only 9 minutes but Travis Dodd’s effort was ruled out for offside. Shortly after Culina skied over the bar from the edge of the 18-yard box for what would be Sydney’s only decent chance of the first period. With Dodd and Ryo Nagai lively down opposite flanks, the visiting defence were working overtime to hold their opponents at bay. Vedran Janjetovic was at full-stretch to tip Scott Jamieson’s low drive around the post on 31 minutes, and soon after Steve McGarry was foiled at point-blank range by the Sydney ‘keeper’s reflexes. Glory’s pressure paid off in the 39th minute, Josh Risdon whipped in a cross which expertly Smeltz headed into the bottom corner.
Forced to chase the game, Sydney pushed extra bodies forward after the turnaround with Alessandro Del Piero finally starting to exert some influence. Their reward arrived in the 62nd minute when Brett Emerton delivered an inch-perfect cross for Culina whose diving header flew past Vukovic. Chances then came and went at both ends, Culina miscuing over the bar at close-range before Jacob Burn’s shot was pushed away by Janjetovic. With ten minutes to go Dodd danced across the top of the box to tee up Smeltz, who curled a glorious first-time effort into the top corner. Two minutes later Del Piero played a free-kick into the area where Vukovic spilled the ball to Ryall, who made nos mistake with a cool finish at close-range.
GLORY WOMEN SLIP
Perth Glory Women’s hopes of a home final suffered a serious blow after Newcastle Jets scored late to steal a 2-2 draw from this afternoon’s W-League game at Intiga Stadium. The result drops Glory Women, who entered the round as joint leaders, to third behind Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory with one regular season round to play. “We just didn’t turn up to play today,” said captain Collette McCallum. “We trained hard all week and were looking forward to this match, but definitely didn’t expect this result. He (coach Jamie Harnwell) told us to have a good hard look at ourselves and we need to focus better and turn up to win if we are going to play finals.”
Emily Van Egmond gave the visitors a dream start by weaving her way through a lacklustre defence and curling into the top corner of Kaitlyn Savage’s net. To the host’s credit, they fought hard in the extreme conditions and continually asked questions of goalkeeper Eliza Campbell, who was in terrific form. Eventually Glory Women settled and on 22 minutes Rosie Sutton finally sent the ball past Campbell to level the game. McCallum was by this stage having a greater say in the game, threading some inviting balls through the defence for Sutton and Kate Gill. An injury to Sasha Andrews forced coach Harnwell into a reshuffle, Shannon May taking over in the unfamiliar left-back role.
It took Glory Women only eleven second half minutes to claim the lead, Gill pouncing on a dreadful clearance by Campbell and after opening up the angle she slotted into bottom corner. Sarah Carroll almost increased the difference but after driving down the right Campbell made the save. The flow of play was pretty much one-way as McCallum and Aivi Luik flexed the muscle in the middle of the park. It took a defensive lapse to allow Newcastle back in via Jasmin Courtenay, who made the most of the space afforded to her by shooting on the turn into the top corner with 77 minutes gone. Glory Women continued to search for what would have been a deserved third goal but could find few holes in the visiting defence.
VILLA’S SPIRIT IS STRONG INSISTS HERD
Chris Herd says Aston Villa has the mental toughness required to overcome tricky few weeks. Villa endured a trying festive season which took in a trio of heavy losses before a draw at Swansea City brought some welcome relief. Herd says his teams’ performance in that latter outing shows Villa have rediscovered some of their confidence ahead of tonight’s FA Cup meeting with Ipswich Town. “Our mentality is strong and the fans have been really behind us all season, so we’re very positive and looking forward with real belief,” Herd told avfc.co.uk. “I think the team spirit has always been there. The gaffer has been really good in terms of maintaining that spirit and the boys have responded.”
The team that travelled to Swansea was the youngest starting line-up in Villa’s history with an average age of 23 years and 120 days. Herd, a graduate of Villa’s academy, is proud his clubs homegrown youngsters are now forming the nucleus of the match day squad. “When we were young there was a group of lads who all stuck together,” said Herd, who played locally as a youth for Bayswater City. “We all came to the club at the same time. That was good and helped us in terms of settling in and all of that. We’ve stayed close because we’ve progressed through the ranks and that’s made the bond between us good and strong.”
Manager Paul Lambert has utilised Herd in central defence of late, and while it’s a role he was initially unfamiliar with the 23-year old has grown accustomed to it. “I can play in a couple of positions and, to be honest, I’m just happy to play and help the team,” commented Herd, who can also operate in midfield and at right-back. “Whatever position you play you just have to do your job. It’s a team and everybody chips in and does their job. I’m happy to do mine wherever on the pitch that is. I just try to take my chance and keep trying to improve by working hard in training and doing the best I can always.”
MEHMET LEAVES GLORY
Striker Billy Mehmet is on his way to Thailand after having his contract with Perth Glory terminated by mutual agreement. London-born Mehmet made 42 appearances, scoring 10 times, in two and a half seasons with Glory but a lack of first team opportunities this summer led the 28-year old to consider his options. “I can’t guarantee anybody any first-team place. Billy wanted first-team football and I can’t guarantee him that,” explained coach Ian Ferguson. “It’s disappointing but, look, we don’t want unhappy players here either. He’s unhappy and he’s not playing and he wants to move … we won’t stand in anybody’s way to go overseas and he’s got that opportunity.”
COACH BACKS MIS-FIRING SMELTZ
Perth Glory coach Ian Ferguson has backed out-of-form striker Shane Smeltz ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Sydney FC at Perth Oval. Injury, personal matters and international duty with New Zealand have so far limited Smeltz’s contribution this season, and a groin injury which forced the 31-year out of training yesterday could signal the beginning of another spell on the sidelines. Glory officials are confident Smeltz will line-up against Sydney, who sit last on the table after winning just two of their last ten games, saying the striker’s early exit from the training track was a precautionary measure.
Smeltz has started Glory’s past seven games but has found the net just twice this season, with one of those coming from the penalty spot. “Strikers will go through these barren spells where they can’t find the net for love nor money, then all of a sudden they’ll put four, five, six goals in,” Ferguson said. “That’s the way strikers are, they live or die by their goals, and unfortunately Smeltzy’s going through a little dry patch. He’ll come good and I’m sure he’ll start putting the ball in the net sooner rather than later.”
Leading the Sydney attack will be Italian legend Alessandro Del Piero, a player Ferguson says must be kept deep if Glory are to succeed. “We feel the further you can keep Del Piero away from the goal, the less effective he is,” the Glory coach said. “He’s very dangerous when he gets close to the box, he can create chances and put balls through for assists. We know what kind of a player he is, he’s a player that can change a game in a heartbeat and we’ve got to make sure that do the right thing and try and keep him quiet.”
Ferguson is confident his defence, although without Bas Van Den Brink (suspension) and Michael Thwaite (calf), can do their job well. “We’ve got two of our main centre-halves out and we’ll be looking to put another player in there who can provide the cover we require,” he said. “Jacob Burns did it last year against Sydney and I thought he was like Beckenbauer at one point. But we’ve also got Dean Heffernan who played there when he was with Central Coast and Melbourne Heart … we’re back at home and looking for a full house and hopefully to pick up three points.”
FINALS THE PERFECT GIFT FOR GLORY WOMEN STALWART HAWKINS
Perth Glory Women require just a single point from this weekend’s home fixture with Newcastle Jets to book their place in the W-League finals for the first time. Defender Carys Hawkins has been with the club since day one and securing a finals appearance tomorrow would be the perfect way for the Glory Women stalwart to celebrate her 50th outing in purple. “It would be fantastic to be able to do that (make the finals),” said 24-year old Hawkins. “After the disappointment of last season, to being so strong this year, it would mean a lot to everyone involved if we could make the finals.”
Hawkins has fond memories of playing Newcastle with her only W-League goal to date coming in the final game of last season, a 4-2 win by Glory Women. “That was amazing!” recalled Hawkins. “I’ll never forget that and it was very special to score that first goal. This time around we’ve both got very different squads and we are totally focussed on going out there and taking the three points.” The sides last met in November when Glory Women recorded their biggest ever win, the 6-1 score line courtesy of a Kate Gill hat-trick and singles to Collette McCallum Marianna Tabain and Lisa De Vanna, who misses tomorrow’s game through suspension.
Welsh-born Hawkins broadened her experiences last year by playing season with Swedish side Umea Sodra. “It’s very different to playing over here,” commented Hawkins, who feels she returned from Europe a better player. “I had to learn how to adjust to playing in a different climate, a different style of football and also learn the language. They had high expectations of me coming over from Australia and expected me to score goals as a defender, so the experience definitely helped mould me into a stronger player.” Glory Women takes on Newcastle Jets at Inglewood’s Intiga Stadium tomorrow at 4pm.
AL WAHDA TO SIGN DJULBIC
United Arab Emirates club Al Wahda are poised to unveil Dino Djulbic as the club’s latest signing after the Socceroos defender came through is medical with flying colours. According to Al Wahda, the paperwork for Djulbic’s transfer is close to being completed with the 29-year old set to replace Oman international Mohammed Al Balushi as the club’s Asian player when the transfer window opens on Monday. The former Perth SC player will join four-time UAE champions Al Wahda on a two-year contract from Guizhou Renhe who he helped to fourth place in the Chinese Super League, and where his performances were rewarded with a spot in the competition’s all-star team and a Socceroos call-up for the recent East Asian Cup qualifying campaign.
RICHARDSON RECHARGED FOR BURNLEY RETURN
Teenager Callum Richardson is looking forward to making his mark at English club Burnley after spending the festive season at home in Australind with his family. Richardson, 17, landed a two-year scholarship with Burnley in September, just three days into trials and in the immediate aftermath of a youth team outing against Manchester United. Refreshed from visiting family and friends, the former Bunbury Forum Force player says he is ready to give his all in pursuit of a professional career when he returns to Burnley next week. “My goal is to play first team at the highest level and hopefully one day play for my country,” he said. “There’s a lot of work to do and this is just the first step. Hopefully, if I work hard enough, I’ll get there one day.”
SAVAGE ANSWERS GLORY WOMENS’ SOS (with Jonathan Cook, Football West)
American import Kaitlyn Savage will pull on a Perth Glory Women shirt for the first time this weekend after answering coach Jamie Harnwell’s goalkeeping SOS. A season-ending hand injury to England international Carly Telford last month was a significant setback to high-flying Glory Women and Harnwell reacted quickly to bring in Savage with finals football on the horizon. Victory over Newcastle Jets at Intiga Stadium on Saturday will secure a maiden home final for top of the table Glory Women, who have fallen short of the end of season play-offs in four previous attempts.
When Telford broke her hand last month Harnwell turned initially to Canberra-based Maja Blasch as an injury replacement, however, the Glory Women coach has now found a more regular solution following Savage’s arrival from Florida International University. “Kaitlyn is a bit of an unknown but she’s an ambitious young girl who wants to get out and play professionally,” Harnwell said. “She’s very highly thought of by the coaching staff over there. She’s a big, tall goalkeeper and she’s got a chance to come in now and help the team try and win a championship.”
Savage is keen to show she can make the step up from the American college system to the W-League. “I graduated college, came home and the next thing I knew Jamie was contacting me … I was on a flight pretty soon but I got some family time at Christmas,” the 22-year old said. “It’s a step up and I know they’ve been doing really well over the course of the season. Hopefully I can come in and contribute to that success.” Glory Women takes on Newcastle from 4.00pm on Saturday at Intiga Stadium.
FUNDING FACE-OFF (with Ashley Morrison, Not the Footy Show")
It appears Football Federation of Australia is headed for a showdown with the state bodies around the country over the lack of funding filtering down to the game at grass roots level. John Boultbee, FFA’s Head of High Performance, has stated in the past there would be no funding coming from the federation for the state bodies and their clubs to implement the Australian Premier League, which is being introduced to Queensland this year with Western Australia, Victoria and Northern New South Wales to follow in 2014.
It is good to see the state bodies present a united front as part of the Australian Premier League requires State League clubs set-up development programs that A-League clubs will benefit from. The expense of these programs will fall on the State League clubs, and any compensation they receive will be minimal. Former FFA chief executive Ben Buckley ignored the needs of the state bodies as his focus was purely on the national teams and the A-League, and now David Gallop looks set to pay for his predecessor’s tunnel vision.
All of tomorrow’s elite players come through the State League ranks, be they junior or senior players today, and that is why money has to be spent at this level. If it’s not then the talent well will dry to a drip and the game at the highest level will suffer. And the same applies to referees and coaches. If FFA were serious about developing a second tier of Australian football, rather than imposing technical directors on the State League clubs then maybe they could arrange courses to help in the administrative running of a football club.
Let’s hope the state bodies stand firm on the issue of grass roots funding, and that they use their collective muscle to improve the game at the levels they are responsible for. Without such a stance it would appear little will change and that will not be good for the game overall. With potentially the biggest issue in football since the game’s revamping of a decade ago which led to the creation of FFA simmering away, 2013 is shaping up for an interesting showdown.
GLORY WOMEN’S GILL OUT TO CREATE HISTORY
Australia striker Kate Gill has set her sights on creating history with Perth Glory Women over the coming month. Glory Women enter the New Year on top of the W-League and needing only one point from their last two games of the season to qualify for their first ever finals series. “We are two wins away from wrapping up the premiership, securing a home semi-final and aiming for the first time ever the right to be called W-League Champions,” wrote Gill, scorer of eight goals in as many games this season, in her weekly column for perthnow.com.au
Although Glory Women are top of the table, Gill says they are yet to reach peck form. “I don’t think we have played our best football. We have shown glimpses in matches but haven’t really found any consistency,” said the striker. “It is scary to think that if we manage to get it right for the next four games we will be walking away with a trophy, but more importantly, the respect and recognition that the girls deserve. It is not easy to travel the distances we do, week in week out, and it would be nice to see the commitment from the players and support staff pay off.”
Glory Women ended second-to-last last season and midway through 2012 appeared on the verge of extinction after Glory owner Tony Sage withdrew funding for the team as part of cost-cutting measures. “It is very much a rags to riches tale,” said Gill. “Perth Glory decided to offer no financial support for the girls and Football West was left to pick up the pieces, finding the funds and sponsors to allow the girls to take the field. The decision was made to keep the Perth Glory name and colours and Football West has done a great job with the girls, making sure that they have everything they need.”
Gill rates the support Glory Women receive at home as amongst the best she has experienced. “I think the most pleasing thing to come from the season so far is the support we have received from our fans in Perth,” Gill said. “Nothing excites me more than playing in front of a home crowd. I have played all over the world in some amazing stadiums in front of large crowds but nothing compares to playing at home. If we are able to put it all together and play that final game at home, I know that it will be one of the more memorable and special moments of my football career.”
WRONG DECISION COST US THE GAME: FERGUSON
Perth Glory coach Ian Ferguson is fuming Bernie Ibini’s deciding goal in last night’s loss to Central Coast Mariners was allowed to stand by match officials. Ferguson felt aggrieved at the nature of Ibini’s goal, the 20-year old getting the better of opponent Scott Jamieson before controlling the ball with his arm and striking past Danny Vukovic. “I was obviously very disappointed with the goal,” said Ferguson, who felt Ibini gained an unfair advantage in the build-up play. “I thought it was a free kick (to Jamieson) to start with and then there’s a handball that’s guided it into his pathway … for me it was the wrong decision and it’s cost us the game again.”
Ferguson had no complaints about the 76th minute dismissal of defender Bas Van Den Brink, and felt his team were wasteful during the narrow away defeat. “He (Van Den Brink) has not said anything so it’s looks as though it was probably a booking because he never said a word to me,” he said. “It looks as though the second yellow card has got him sent off. We had a lot of the play and a lot of possession in the first half. We had a great chance, a great opportunity for (Shane) Smeltz and he has put it by the post. Once he hits one or two the confidence will come back with him and hopefully we can start hitting the target again.”
EDWARDS SIGNS WITH MELBOURNE
Melbourne Heart has confirmed the signing of young midfielder Cameron Edwards for the remainder of the A-League season. Edwards, 20, will wear the number three shirt for Melbourne after impressing coaching staff during a two-week trial last month. “Cameron is a hugely talented left-sided midfielder with a professional work ethic and he has the capacity to be a great acquisition for the Club,” said Melbourne’s football operations man John Didulica said. “It is not east to find silky left-sided players with elite experience, so we are happy Cameron has chosen to continue his football development with Heart.”
Back to the www.footballwa.net Archived News Index
This page was last updated on the 19th January, 2013