LOWRY RETURNS TO ECU
After three seasons away from ECU Joondalup Soccer Club, Ryan Lowry has returned to the club for season 2020. The 26-year-old headed over the ditch after signing for Hyundai A-League side Wellington Phoenix, but after parting ways with them earlier in 2019 the former skipper said a return to the Jacks was always on the cards, even though he had offers from other clubs. "After three seasons and looking back, I really enjoyed the experience in Wellington,” he explained. “Obviously there were highs and lows but ultimately I really enjoyed my time there, the highlight for me was my debut, and last year making the finals which was an amazing experience.”
“But after relocating to Perth with my partner and settling, it was an easy decision to head back to the campus. I love this club and the people here who I’ve worked with for years. Yes, there was interest elsewhere but I just couldn’t picture myself playing for anyone other than ECU and under Dale in the NPL.” Jacks Head Coach Dale McCulloch said the signing of Lowry, or Paddy to his team mates is a huge boost for the club. "Really pleased to get Paddy back, a great player and a great person as well, and to have him in and around the football club is great news for us," he explained. "He's had a good spell in the A-League and performed well, when given the chance at Wellington, and we know his experience and talent will add to our squad for next season."
It's a completely different squad from the last time Lowry was at the Campus, but he watched a number of games last season and also trained with the squad after returning from Wellington, and he is looking forward to getting back into it, next season. "Yes, it’s is a different squad but most of the boys are familiar to me as I’ve been coming down through the years in my off season break and I’m confident we will have success with the squad Dale is assembling, and hopefully I can contribute to that,” he said. “Last season is in the past and now we just focus on this upcoming season. I watched enough at the back end of last year to know that we will be competitive, and hopefully I can help others around me, just like I had when I first started playing for the club.”
GLORY'S BOLD PITCH TO LURE ZLATAN
Perth Glory have launched an audacious bid to lure Swedish A-lister Zlatan Ibrahimovic on a short-term deal starting this month. Ibrahimovic, 38, famed for talking about himself in the third person, would rival Alessandro Del Piero as the biggest name ever to play in the A-League.
Glory chief executive Tony Pignata confirmed the approach to the superstar striker’s manager on Wednesday night. It is understood Glory are hoping to get the Swede to play six games, starting with their home clash against Sydney FC on November 23. “An approach has been made to his agent,” Pignata said.
If Glory are successful in getting Ibrahimovic, he would play from mid-to-late November until the end of January, when he would likely move to a European league. He is currently with Los Angeles Galaxy where he has scored 31 goals in as many games this season.
Ibrahimovic has won six Serie A titles, a La Liga title, four French Ligue 1 titles, two Dutch Eredivisie titles and the Europa League, playing with Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, Manchester United and Ajax, among others.
JOEYS FIGHT BACK TO DRAW WITH HUNGARY
The Joeys have produced a fantastic second-half fightback to earn a 2-2 draw with Hungary at the FIFA U-17 World Cup at the Estádio Olímpico in Goiânia on Wednesday. Like the first game Trevor Morgan's side conceded twice in the first-half to trail 2-0 at the break, with goals from Peter Barath and a VAR assisted penalty from Akos Zuigeber.
But after half time the youngsters roared back and deservedly took something from the match thanks to a penalty from Noah Botic, his second goal of the tournament and Caleb Watts. It could and should have been more, as the Joeys had more than double the attempts at goal (19-9) than Hungary and enjoyed 60% of possession but were just unable to land the killer blow. But the result keeps their hopes of progressing out of Group B alive heading into the final game against Nigeria on Saturday morning.
Perth Glory midfielder Joshua Rawlings came into the side in place of fellow Glory team mate Trent Ostler, who dropped to the bench alongside Glory defender Daniel Walsh. The Joeys made a positive start to the game but against the run of play Hungary took the lead on 14 minutes. Zuigeber’s free-kick was met by a powerful header from Barath, which was placed into the corner of the net to beat Joeys keeper Adam Pavlesic. Just like Saturday the Joeys found themselves 2-0 down six minutes later. The referee was asked by VAR to look at a handball incident and after viewing the video he pointed straight to the spot and Zuigeber found the bottom corner from the penalty spot.
The Joeys dominated the rest of the half and created a number of good chances, but luck wasn't on their side. First Botic skimmed the crossbar with a header before Cameron Peupion's header crashed off the crossbar and was saved on the line by Krisztian Hegyi. Morgan's side thought they had reduced the deficit on the stroke of half time, but Botic's effort was ruled offside by a matter of millimetres. Once again Morgan needed another positive half time address and whatever he said worked as the Joeys continued to dominate the game and were rewarded on 69 minutes when VAR was needed for a handball by a Hungarian defender and Botic fired home the resulting spot kick.
It was game on and it wasn't a surprise when the Joeys levelled five minutes later. A ball through from Birkan Kirdar sent Watts racing clear and he kept his composer and finished past Hegyi. The Joeys piled on the pressure in the dying minutes with both Watts and Kirdar going close but Hungary held on for a draw.
Australia’s final group match is against group leaders Nigeria on Saturday, November 2, with kick-off at 4am WA Time live on SBS.
Joeys: GK Adam PAVLESIC, 2 Idrus ABDULAHI, 4 Jordan COURTNEY-PERKINS, 5 Izaack POWELL, 6 Ryan TEAGUE, 7 Tristan HAMMOND, 9 Noah BOTIC, 10 Caleb WATTS, 13 Joshua RAWLINS (8 Birkan KIRDAR 65’), 15 Anton MLINARIC, 21 Cameron PEUPION (16 Luke DUKEL 81’) - Subs not used: RGK Oliver KALAC, RGK Nicholas BILOKAPIC, 3 Daniel WALSH, 11 Ali AUGLAH, 14 Trent OSTLER, 17 Yaya DUKULY, 19 Michael RUHS, 20 Luis LAWRIE-LATTANZIO
Hungary GK Krisztian HEGYI, 2 Gabor BUNA, 4 Patrik POSZTOBANYI (10 Mark KOSZNOVSZKY 79’), 5 Botond BALOGH, 6 Mihaly KATA, 7 Akos ZUIGEBER (8 Samuel MAJOR 29’), 9 Andras NEMETH, 14 Milan HORVATH, 15 Peter BARATH, 20 Csaba MESTER (16 Gergo OMINGER 73’), 21 David LASZLO - Subs not used: RGK Gabor MEGYERI, RGK Marcell VAITS, 3 Donat OROSZ, 11 Gyorgy KOMAROMI, 13 Zeteny HOSSZU, 18 Borisz TOTH, 19 Rajmund MOLNAR
LEFT OUT DE VANNA STILL PART OF MATILDAS PLANS
Matildas coach Ante Milicic insists Lisa De Vanna remains "very much" part of his plans for February's 2020 Olympic qualifying tournament despite omitting the veteran striker from his squad to face Chile next month.
De Vanna has played 150 times for Australia to sit one cap behind Matildas record-holder Cheryl Salisbury. The 34-year old has featured in four World Cups, including the 2019 yournament in France, and has been in good form for Italian club Fiorentina.
“Lisa’s on the extended list I’ll continue to monitor,” Milicic said. “I know fully what she offers the team on and off the pitch. I’ll monitor her form moving forward, but for this (international) window I decided to bring in some other players to have a look at.”
“Like with the World Cup, there’s a lot of games in a short space of time. I need to see whether players can play with intensity, can train at that level and back up. We’re also looking with one eye on the qualifying program and the future.”
MATILDAS NAMED TO FACE CHILE
Matildas coach Ante Milicic has selected 18 members of his World Cup squad for next month's two-game friendly series with Chile. Fresh from another record-breaking campaign in the United States, Sam Kerr is in the squad along with fellow West Australian Lydia Williams.
Veteran striker Lisa De Vanna was omitted while Kyah Simon and Alex Chidiac are still on the recovery road following injury. Australia plays Chile in Sydney (9 November) and Adelaide (12 November) ahead of Olympic Game qualifiers against China, Taiwan and Thailand between 3 and 9 February.
The Australia squad to play Chile is Mackenzie Arnold, Katrina Gorry, Elise Kellond-Knight, Clare Polkinghorne, Hayley Raso (Brisbane Roar), Ellie Carpenter, Emma Checker, Emily Van Egmond (Melbourne City), Steph Catley, Lydia Williams (Reign FC), Caitlin Foord, Alanna Kennedy, Chloe Logarzo (Sydney FC), Emily Gielnik (Bayern Munich), Amy Harrison (Western Sydney Wanderers), Sam Kerr (Chicago Red Stars), Aivi Luik (Avaldsnes), Jenna McCormick (Melbourne Victory), Karly Roestbakken (Canberra United), Sarah Willacy (Adelaide United) and Tameka Yallop (Klepp IL).
GLORY WIN THE LONG-DISTANCE DERBY
Perth Glory have won for the first time this season in the Hyundai A-League, with a 2-1 win against Wellington Phoenix in the 'Long Distance Derby' at Westpac Stadium. Striker Bruno Fornaroli scored his first goal for the club since his move from Melbourne City, and he also involved for Chris Ikonomidis for the second to set up the win and despite a late penalty from Ulises Davila, Glory were worthy winners. "We're very happy he (Fornaroli) got his goal, and he could have had a couple more," Glory coach Tony Popovic said. "The chances are being created and I'm sure this will be the beginning of the goal return for Bruno."
Glory made one change to the side that drew against Western United last week, with defender Ivan Franjic returning to the side for Joel Chianese, who dropped to the bench. While for the hosts new Scottish striker Gary Hooper was on the bench, while former Glory defender Walter Scott made his first start A-League for the club. The hosts, who were still searching for their first point of the season, started the brighter and Callum McCowatt effort from eight meters was straight at Liam Reddy. But after soaking up the early pressure Glory hit back and Diego Castro, who was making his 100th A-League game for the club, saw his curling effort pushed wide by Stefan Marinovic.
But on 11 minutes Glory's pressure was rewarded with the opener. Castro was the architect finding space down the left and crossing to Fornaroli who took a neat first touch and finished into the net with the second, and the relief was there for all to see as he celebrated with his team mates. Glory went close to a second five minutes later, Koran defender Kim Soo-Beom was picked out by a superb Castro ball and his curling effort was well saved by the busy Marinovic. Wellington were still dangerous going forward and Mexican striker saw his long-range shot flash wide of the target.
It was Glory who were creating the better chances and on 23 minutes Juande's pin-point delivery into the penalty area found Fornaroli, who lost his marker but his bullet header was well saved by Marinovic. Then two minutes later Glory defender Gregory Wuthrich was lucky not to see red after a crude tackle from behind on David Ball. Referee Alex King consulted his linesman before opting to only show a yellow card to the Swiss defender, which enraging the Phoenix players and supporters. It seemed to lift the hosts and Jaushua Sotirio raced in on goal, but Alex Grant got back with a telling last-ditch tackle.
Franjic, who was making his 200th Hyundai A-League game, was a constant threat down the right, while Kim was doing likewise on the left as Glory pressed for a second, and that duly arrived on 33 minutes. Franjic was sent down the right by a ball from Castro and his cut back from the bye-line was helped on by Fornaroli and Ikonomidis fired home for his second goal of the season and Glory lead by 2-0 at the break. Davila did his best to get Wellington back into the game, firing a low shot across the face of goal shortly before the break, but it was Glory who threatened again with the final chance of the opening period, Fornaroli narrowly failing to hit the target with a powerful strike from just outside the box.
Ikonomidis went close to a third early in the second half but he couldn't keep his header down after a great cross from Kim, before Marinovic produced another good save to deny Fornaroli's shot on the tun on the hour. Neil Kilkenny then tried his luck from the edge of the penalty area, but his effort flashed wide of the target. Glory were content to sit back and hit the Phoenix on the counter, but the home side were started to create some good chances, and Sotirio should have done better when he was picked out by Steven Taylor's chip, before Grant got back well to block Ball's goal-bound shot.
Glory substitute Jacob Tratt almost opened his account for the club, but his shot saved by Marinovic. Former Celtic striker Hooper came on for Wellington with ten minutes remaining and he was soon in the action his run and cut back caused panic in Glory defence but Tratt was alert to clear the danger. Wellington were still coming and Davila's curling effort flashed inches over the top, before Louis Fenton's cross was fired wide by Ball. Their pressure was rewarded with a consolation goal four minutes into stoppage time, when Glory defender Dino Djulbic was deemed to have fouled Hooper and Davila converted from the spot, but it was too little too late.
Footballwa.net - Man of the Match - Diego Castro
Wellington Phoenix: GK Stefan MARINOVIC, 3 Luke DEVERE, 5 Matti STEINMANN, 9 David BALL, 10 Ulises DAVILA, 11 Jaushua SOTIRIO (31 Ben WAINE 75'), 14 Alex RUFER (7 Reno PISCOPO 59'), 16 Louis FENTON, 21 Callum MCCOWATT (88 Gary HOOPER 75'), 23 Walter SCOTT, 27 Steven TAYLOR - Subs not used: RGK Oliver SAIL, 2 Liam MCGING, 6 Timothy PAYNE, 8 Cameron DEVLIN
Perth Glory: GK Liam REDDY, 2 Alex GRANT, 4 Gregory WUTHRICH, 5 Ivan FRANJIC, 9 Bruno FORNAROLI, 12 Kim SOO-BEOM (3 Jacob TRATT 68'), 13 Osama MALIK (6 Dino DJULBIC, 89'), 17 Diego CASTRO, 19 Chris IKONOMIDIS (29 Kristian POPOVIC 64'), 27 JUANDE, 88 Neil KILKENNY - Subs not used: RGK Tando VELAPHI, 7 Joel CHIANESE, 28 Gabriel POPOVIC - Referee: Alex King
CASTRO ENJOYING THE JOURNEY AHEAD OF 100TH GAME
Perth Glory’s midfield magician Diego Castro is set to play his 100th A-League game today. But, typically, the Spanish marquee knew nothing about it, concentrating instead on this afternoon’s A-League clash with Wellington Phoenix in New Zealand.
“No, I didn’t realise it was my 100th game,” he said. “I don’t want to be disrespectful about individual awards but my mindset, my mentality, is thinking about the group. That is the key for me. I never analysed what has happened in my career in terms of starts, goals or assists. It was more enjoy the journey and be the best I can be.”
Now in his fifth season with Glory, Castro said it was a leap of faith moving from Spain, where he had spent his entire career. The midfielder amassed over 200 appearances in La Liga for the likes of Getafe and and Sporting de Gijón, before joining Glory for the summer of 2015/16.
“It was a new league, a new experience. I needed to try new things,” he said. “In Europe there was big pressure and I was losing enjoyment. That’s what this league gives me, the chance to enjoy my craft which is so important. That’s the key for me. When I’m sad I can’t play well.”
In his first A-League season Castro took out the Johnny Warren Medal, awarded to the A-League’s best player, and was nicknamed ‘El Maestro’ by the Shed. It wasn’t long before Glory’s loyalest of supporters were singing his praises with the “Diego Castro Glory’s 17” chant. But that success didn’t happen overnight.
“It wasn’t special at the beginning, then I started to feel people look at me a bit different,” he said. “They think ‘maybe he can make us enjoy the game’. The song, the chemistry with the fans, it’s so special. I don’t know when they started to sing that but every year I think we are closer.”
Castro prefers to go unnoticed off the field but is happy to sign an autograph or pose for a selfie, especially for young fans. “I am a father, too,” he said. “I prefer just to be with average people and in Australia people are so respectful. They approach with the best manners, always smiling.”
Castro signed a new two-year contract in April, tying him to the club to the age of 38. “I don’t like to put a date to my retirement. I’m getting old but I intend to fight back,” he said on the obvious topic. “I will be happy to retire here. If that happens it will be the perfect end to my career.”
GWELUP SNAP UP TRIO FOR 2020
Newly promoted Gwelup Croatia have started their plans for their first ever season in the NPLWA by signing talented trio Sam Mitchinson, Blair Govan and Rocco Pizzata. Mitchinson and Govan have had a couple of seasons in the NPL Victoria, while Pizzata helped Perth SC to back-to-back NPL titles. Mitchinson, who played in the A-League with Perth Glory and Melbourne Heart, and also had a season at Bayswater City, said the move back home was a big decision especially after a couple of good seasons in Victoria with Oakleigh Cannons, Green Gully and Altona Magic, but he believes it's the right one. "I enjoyed my time at Magic last season, but we didn’t have the best season missing out on finals," he explained. "However, I still enjoyed playing for the club and playing in a competitive Victoria Premier league, but I felt like the time was right to move home and establish myself here with work.
“The two years in Melbourne were really good. The standard there is excellent and there are some really good players and each game is tough. I definitely learnt a lot about the game there and played under some great coaches in Arthur papas and Goran Lozanovski." The defender said he is really excited about next season and joining up with a number of friends at the club. "Signing for Gwelup excites me," he said. "I have lots of friends down there and I am looking forward to working with Taki and Glen Grostate. The club understand it won’t be easy in the top league but we are quietly confident and I think once we add a couple more players to the squad, we will be looking to make a real impact next season and not just make up the numbers. Gwelup have some talented players and also some experienced players which I think will be a good balance for the club."
Govan said he thought long and hard about the move but he said after talking to the club he knew it was the right decision. "It was a very tough decision to leave Oakleigh after the season we had last year," the defender explained. "Going 17 games unbeaten with a great group of boys is hard to walk away from. It was a decision I thought long and hard over but after a few weeks back In Perth with my family and friends I knew that it was time for me to come back. I really enjoyed my time in Victoria with both clubs. The whole thing came around really quickly it all happened in a matter of weeks. So, it was quite scary going from being really settled in Perth to all of a sudden moving to the other side of the country all alone, it really makes you grow up quick. But thanks to everyone at Hume city it didn’t take me long to settle in at all. I had a really enjoyable time there and to go on and captain the club in my second season was a good measure of how much I was maturing and how my game was improving.
“Then to join Oakleigh for my third year was a different type of challenge I thought would help me grow even more and to be honest I found it really hard at the start as it was quite a big change from Hume. But as time went on it got better and better and then everything seemed to click as we went on this big unbeaten run eventually finishing 3rd in the league. It was probably my most enjoyable year so far in my career all that was missing was a trophy. I’m really looking forward to being a part of Gwelup next year. I love how passionate and ambitious Jure and the whole club is. I know Taki and Glenn really well so that always helps. They have proved over the last few years they already have a talented squad and I think Sammy Mitchinson and myself and hopefully a couple others will boost things and we can really have a crack this year.”
Pizzata said he’s looking forward to the new challenge. “Yes, it was a tough decision to move on but I felt like I needed a change and a challenge,” the 23-year-old said. “I’m looking forward to next year with Gwelup, and being a newly promoted team, I think we can really shake up the league and compete for a title.” Gwelup Head Coach Taki Nicolaidis is delighted to have secure the trios services. “Yes, very pleased that Blair, Sam and Rocco have chosen to play for Gwelup in 2020," he said. "They certainly fit the mould we’re looking for in terms of ability and character and looking forward to them playing a major role in the clubs first season in the NPL."
KERR NAMED BEST IN THE UNITED STATES
Australian superstar Sam Kerr has been named Most Valuable Player of the National Women’s Soccer League on the eve of leading the Chicago Red Stars in the championship game. The Red Stars play top-ranked North Carolina Courage for the NWSL title on Sunday.
Kerr, scorer of a league record 18 goals this season, refused to accept the MVP award alone and pointed to her teammates on the Red Stars. “I don’t do this by myself,” Kerr told reporters. “The 18 goals did not come from one player, so thank you to my teammates.”
The honour is the latest accolade in what has been a phenomenal year for Kerr who picked up the league’s Golden Boot award last week and led the Matildas at the World Cup. The Red Stars, who also feature Australian goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold, will be the underdogs in the final played in front of a hostile crowd in Cary, North Carolina.
JOEYS EDGED OUT IN WORLD CUP OPENER
Australia haven't made the start they were hoping for in the FIFA Under-17 World Cup going down 2-1 to Ecuador at Estádio Olímpico in Goiânia on Saturday morning. The South Americans took control of the game in the first half and two early goals from Pedro Vite and own goal from Sydney FC’s Anton Mlinaric put them in the box seat, and despite a spirited second half the Joeys couldn't get back into the game and Noah Botic's late goal was just a consolation. Perth Glory youth winger Trent Ostler was in the starting line-up for the opener, while fellow Glory players Daniel Walsh and Joshua Rawlins were on the bench.
Ecuador were out of the blocks early and hit the front on four minutes. A corner found Pluas on the edge of the box and his shot deflected off Izaack Powell and beat Joeys custodian Adam Pavlesic. They added a second five minutes later when Vite got in behind the Joeys back-four and his shot from the angle flew into the net off the outstretched leg of the unfortunate Mlinaric. The Joeys had a mountain to climb but they went close to pulling one back on the quarter hour, but Sporting Club de Portugal striker Tristan Hammond effort was blocked.
After the break the Joeys piled on the pressure for a goal to get them back in the game and they thought they had found in on 52 minutes. A great through ball from skipper Ryan Teague sent Botic away and the Hoffenheim striker finished clinically but his celebrations were cut short with the flag up for offside. The Joeys were throwing everything forward and second half substitute Cameron Peupion was denied by Joan Lopez on 70 minutes. Equador were dangerous on the counter attack and they almost added a third on 79 minutes, Johan Mina raced forward but his shot on the run flashed inches wide of the target.
Lopez was determined not to be beaten and he produced another smart save to deny Peupion'd free kick on 84 minutes, this after Hammond was brought down on the edge of the penalty area. But eventually the Joeys did find a goal after a period of sustained pressure Botic fired home after a cut back from Powell on the left. It set up a tense finale with the Joeys pressing for the equaliser and they almost found it in stoppage time. A ball into the box by Powell took a deflection off an Ecuador defender and the ball rolled agonisingly wide of the far post.
Joeys: GK Adam PAVLESIC, 4 Jordan COURTNEY-PERKINS, 5 Izaack POWELL, 6 Ryan TEAGUE, 7 Tristan HAMMOND, 8 Birkan KIRDAR (21 Cameron PEUPION 66’), 9 Noah BOTIC, 10 Caleb WATTS (2 Idrus ABDULAHI 66’), 14 Trent OSTLER, 15 Anton MLINARIC, 20 Luis LAWRIE-LATTANZIO (17 Yaya DUKULY 78’) - Subs not used: RGK Oliver KALAC, RGK Nicholas BILOKAPIC, 3 Daniel WALSH, 11 Ali AUGLAH, 13 Joshua RAWLINS, 16 Luke DUKEL, 19 Michael RUHS
Ecuador: GK Joan LOPEZ, 2 Jordan MORAN, 3 Piero HINCAPIE, 4 Hanssel DELGADO, 5 Marco ANGULO, 6 Roberto CABEZAS, 10 Johan MINA (8 Silvano ESTACIO 86'), 11 Adrian MEJIA, 14 Erick PLUAS, 17 John MERCADO (15 Patrickson DELGADO 61'), 19 Pedro VITE (7 Jeremy FARFAN 90') - Subs not used: RGK Gilmar NAPA, RGK Elias VALENCIA, 9 Edwin VALENCIA, 13 Edwin RODRIGUEZ, 16 Klever VERA, 18 Jhoanner CHAVEZ, 20 Derihan RIVERA
LORD READY FOR FREMANTLE CHALLENGE
Many were surprised when Cameron Lord left Rockingham City at the end of last season, especially after helping the club to survive in the NPLWA. But Lord wasn't out of the game for long after accepting the Head Coaching role at State League Division One club Fremantle City. The port side were the surprise last season in the league, up amongst the leaders all season and finishing third, and Lord said he is hoping to build on that success in 2020.
Lord has hit the ground running at Hilton Park, signing a number of new faces as the club look to push for a spot in the NPLWA. He has signed Mitch Firth and Sam McKearnen from his former club Rockingham, and re-signed top goalscorer Angel Andres, Cisco Jorquera, Denzel Tshuma, as well as appointing former player Danny Clapham as assistant coach, the club are on the rise and Lord is happy to be part of it.
"Fremantle City is a new challenge for me, and one that I am looking forward too," he said. "It was an opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone and experience something new and different to further develop my own coaching qualities. After speaking with Maurice and Alex it was an easy decision to want to jump aboard what they want to try and achieve at the club. A club as ambitious and professional as Fremantle City are only going to go one place, and I believe it is a matter of when and not if."
Fremantle City President Maurice Oteri said Lord arrives at the club with a great CV. “Well it’s early days yet for I have not seen him conduct a training session as yet or manage a game, so it’s all resting on the reputation he has built amongst his peers and the results achieved to date in Division One and surviving an NPL season,” he said. “On a personal level for the time I have spent with him he’s very professional, structured in his vision to assemble a competitive team and is aligned with the club’s priority of securing the services of the “good person” first, and player second. Great player / coach / executive collaboration and mutual respect is paramount at this football club, get the culture and attitude right first and everything else that is good will follow. I’m really looking forward to the season and more new signings and surprises ahead.”
The decision to leave the SafeRad Stadium was a tough one, but Lord said it was the right time to move on. "Rockingham City was the team I grew up with, and spent 18 years there as a player and a coach, so it was naturally a tough decision to leave," he explained. "But I just felt the time was right for me to step down for a number of different reasons. I had two memorable seasons as first team coach at Rockingham, and will always be able to look back on sharing some special moments with some special people."
GLORY HEAD ACROSS THE DITCH IN ROUND THREE
Perth Glory will continue to build up their frequent flyer points this weekend, when they make the long trip to Wellington to take on the Phoenix in the ‘Distance Derby’ at Westpac Stadium in week three of the Hyundai A-League on Sunday. (1.00pm WA Time) Tony Popovic’s side are coming off a hard fought 1-1 draw against Western United last week, while the Phoenix are still searching for their first point of the season, but showed good signs against Champions Sydney FC last week, before going down 1-2.
Popovic said his players are embracing the extra expectation that has been placed on their shoulders this season, and he is keenly aware that his charges face additional pressure from pundits and supporters alike to get their first win of the season, in the wake of last term's successful season. "It's a great challenge [going to Wellington] and we enjoy the challenges and the expectation," he said. "Now, our players and fans are disappointed when we get a point away in Melbourne and that shows how far we've come. We want to continue our hard work, hopefully the performances will increase in minutes and then, ultimately, I believe that the results will follow."
A trip to Wellington is never easy and Popovic is aware the threat they will pose, as they also search for their first win of the season. "We have respect for Wellington, they've played well in the first couple of games and will also be desperate to get their first win, so it'll be a tough encounter and there are no easy games in the A-League,” he explained. “Ufuk Talay has got his own style and how he wants to play and they have shown good signs and were certainly competitive in their first two matches. We have a long haul coming up, but last year we went there and got a point and were happy to come away with the result. We'll be doing everything we can to come away with the three points this weekend."
It’s looking positive on the injury front for Glory, and the coach said that several players are closing in on a return to full fitness. "Injury-wise, things are a lot better," he said. "We had no injuries from the last match, which is great. Ivan Franjic is back in after he unfortunately was carrying a knock, Tomi Mrcela is coming back soon and Jake Brimmer the same. All the players are starting to be more involved in training and I'm sure in the next three or four weeks, we'll have a full complement and real competition for places."
Phoenix will have former Glory Youth defender Walter Scott in the squad, but go into the game without the suspended New Zealand international defender Liberato Cacace. They could also hand a debut to former Celtic striker Gary Hooper, and Phoenix striker David Ball said the introduction of Hooper should give them a massive boost after suffering back-to-back defeats. "It's huge, with his CV and the goals he's scored, adding someone like him to any team in this league and certainly ours. We're just really happy to have him and he's going to be a big player for us," Ball said.
"I think I've actually played against him when he was at Sheffield Wednesday but I've known about Gary for a long time. Obviously in England you know people and he's certainly scored enough goals to be recognised. He's going to be quality and even at the age I'm at I can still learn off players like him, who has played at the top levels. Obviously, the lads are really disappointed that we didn't get more out of the game last week, I think we deserved it. When we scored the first goal, we were saying to each other 'come on, let's go and get a second, we've got them on the ropes' but we were obviously then disappointed to concede and lose. But it shows that we're growing as a group and I think we're all disappointed but also encouraged by what you're seeing."
Wellington Phoenix: GK Stefan MARINOVIC, RGK Oliver SAIL, 2 Liam McGING, 3 Luke DEVERE, 4 Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI, 5 Matti STEINMANN, 6 Tim PAYNE, 7 Reno PISCOPO, 8 Cameron DEVLIN, 9 David BALL, 10 Ulises DAVILA, 11 Jaushua SOTIRIO, 14 Alex RUFER, 16 Louis FENTON, 17 Callan ELLIOT, 21 Callum MCCOWATT, 23 Walter SCOTT, 27 Steven TAYLOR, 31 Ben WAINE, 88 Gary HOOPER - *2-4 to be omitted* - Ins: McGING (promoted), ELLIOT (promoted), SCOTT (promoted), HOOPER (new signing) - Outs: 13 Liberato CACACE (suspended - 2 matches) - Unavailable: Nil
Perth Glory: GK Liam REDDY, RGK Tando VELAPHI, 2 Alex GRANT, 3 Jacob TRATT, 4 Gregory WUTHRICH, 5 Ivan FRANJIC, 6 Dino DJULBIC, 7 Joel CHIANESE, 9 Bruno FORNAROLI, 12 Kim SOO-BEOM, 13 Osama MALIK, 14 Chris HAROLD, 15 Brandon WILSON, 16 Tomislav MRCELA, 17 Diego CASTRO, 19 Chris IKONOMIDIS, 27 JUANDE, 28 Gabriel POPOVIC, 29 Kristian POPOVIC, 88 Neil KILKENNY - *2-4 to be omitted* - Ins: FRANJIC (promoted), WILSON (promoted), MRCELA (promoted) - Outs: Nil - Unavailable: Nil - Referee: Alex King
GLORY'S NEWBIES NEED TIME: POPOVIC
Perth Glory coach Tony Popovic is relaxed about his team's winless start to the A-League season, saying their new arrivals need time to find their feet. Last year's premiers have started their campaign with 1-1 draws against Brisbane Roar and newcomers Western United.
Glory will back up last week's visit to Geelong with an even longer road trip, travelling to Wellington Phoenix on Sunday. While high-profile signing Bruno Fornaroli has commanded attention, Gregory Wuthrich, Osama Malik, Jacob Tratt and Kim Soo-Beom have also slotted straight into Perth's lineup.
"I think they just need time," Popovic said. "There's five to six new players on the pitch at the moment. The majority of those are in the backline, the majority of those players have hardly played in the last month.
"But you can see the first half of both games, there are really good positive signs there which is really encouraging. It's also very pleasing that under fatigue in the second half in Melbourne we could come back. The character is really strong in this group."
Perth will start strong favourites against the bottom-placed Wellington and Popovic said the increased expectation on the club was a good thing. "Our players and fans are disappointed now when we get a draw away from home in Melbourne," Popovic said.
"That shows how far we've come. We want to keep delivering the results and continue our hard work and hopefully the performances will increase in minutes, then ultimately I believe the results will follow." Defender Ivan Franjic returns for Glory this weekend after missing the opening rounds.
ALL CHANGE AT MANDURAH
It’s all change at Mandurah City next season, after they appointed joint-head coaches for 2020, with Pete Taylor and Kris Donnell taking over the reins from Alex Grayson. Taylor was the Head Coach of the Mandurah City Amateur side last season, while Donnell was Head Coach at Kwinana United, and both are looking forward to the new challenge in the State League. Donnell said when he was contacted by the club he jumped at the chance. “Yes, I got a message from the President Nigel Mann to come and have a chat, and we had a few interviews and it went from there, and I was delighted when Pete and I got the call to say we had been selected,” he explained.
“Mandurah are a massive club and it is going to be a big challenge, but it’s one Pete and I are relishing. We’re looking forward to getting our teeth into it, and we’ve started to bring a few players in, obviously two or three have come in from the Amateur Premier League, whom we think are more than capable of holding their own in the state league. I think me and Pete bring something different to the table at the club. Alex (Grayson) has done a great job over the last couple of years and we are coming in with our own ideas. Andy Brown being there to assist us both will also be a massive booster as well with all his experience in the game, we’re looking to bring back success to this club.”
Taylor was at the helm of the Amateur squad last season but said the challenge of guiding the club back to the NPLWA was something he couldn’t turn down. “As you can imagine we’re excited by the challenge and can’t wait to get going. The positivity has been overwhelming and we’ll be sure to repay the faith shown in us by the club,” he said. “The pinnacle for us all is to play NPL Football and to put this club back where it belongs. We have a plan and we’ll all work tirelessly to see it achieved. It’s not a short-term project and we need to ensure the foundations are in place so that our vision becomes reality.”
Both Donnell and Taylor have seen the talent that is playing in the Sunday Amateur leagues and he said they will be looking to give some of them the opportunity to play in the state league, and knows they will be ready for it. “I couldn’t agree more, the amateur league is a haven of talent. We’ve identified the gaps and were working hard to bring in the right players,” he said. “Kris and I are ready for the challenge, so hope to bring the will to win and succeed. We will both bring a new energy and enthusiasm to the group and create a culture that will be hard to replicate elsewhere.”
NEVILLE SET TO MAKE 200TH A-LEAGUE APPEARANCE
Scott Neville knows the feeling of losing milestone matches at Suncorp Stadium, so he’s desperate for a better result on Friday night in his 200th A-League appearance. In a top-flight career spanning 11 seasons, Neville been part of losing sides in three A-League Grand Finals, with one of them against Brisbane Roar.
It was in 2012 as part of a Perth Glory team beaten 2-1 by a Besart Berisha-inspired Brisbane in front of 50,334 fans. There was more Suncorp Stadium agony for Neville five years later when Western Sydney Wanderers inflicted further pain with a 6-5 penalty shoot-out win two weeks short of the decider.
“It was intimidating for an opposing team,” Neville said ahead of Brisbane’s home clash with Melbourne Victory. “I’d love to be in front of this packed crowd at Suncorp on the winning side. That would be a massive milestone for me, and an achievement.”
Being just his second A-League game for Brisbane, Neville said his landmark occasion would be “weird”. “It’s been a fun journey,” he said. “I think it (Brisbane) is an amazing place and my wife loves it here as well. We’ve settled in very well. All the boys have been fantastic and the club’s been great, so I’m hoping for a big season.”
New Brisbane coach Robbie Fowler had no hesitation in offering Neville a deal when revamping the squad for 2019/20. “I want players who are good in dressing rooms, players who are full of endeavour and the right attitude, and Scotty does that,” Fowler said of his former Glory teammate.
“He’s a player who does wear his heart on his sleeve, and he’s not afraid to put in a good tackle, he’s not afraid to have a go at the players around him, he’s a player who will demand a little bit more of players around him as well … he’s good for the team, he’s good for the squad and he’s good for the morale.”
DE VANNA'S MATILDAS DAYS COULD BE OVER
Matildas legend Lisa De Vanna could be forced into international retirement without a farewell appearance, with coach Ante Milicic set to exclude her from his squad for next month's friendlies against Chile. Sources close to the veteran attacker have confirmed she will not be named in Milicic's 21-player selection which is due to be announced next week.
That's despite De Vanna's strong form for Fiorentina, where she has scored twice in six games and become arguably the face of the women's arm of the famed Italian Serie A club. The 34-year old seemed determined to play on for the Matildas after the recent World Cup in France, with next year's Olympics in Tokyo looming as her last major tournament.
The Chile friendlies both fall within a FIFA international window and are Australia's only scheduled outings before February's second round of Olympic qualifiers. But De Vanna is in the dark as to where she sits in Milicic's plans for the Olympics - or if she figures at all - and faces the prospect of bowing out from the international arena without a proper chance to say goodbye.
KERR IN THE HUNT FOR BALLON D'OR
Matildas captain Sam Kerr is one of 20 female footballers nominated for the Women's Ballon d'Or. The 26-year old is the only Australian footballer, male or female, to be shortlisted for the prestigious award.
Kerr, who finished fifth in last years' Ballon d'Or, has had another outstanding season for club and country, finishing top of the scoring charts for Perth Glory Women and leading Chicago Red Stars to the final of the National Womens Soccer League.
United States co-captains Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, who both scored six goals during the World Cup, are among the favourites for this years' Ballon d'Or along with inaugural winner Ada Hegerberg. The Women's Ballon d'Or winner will be named in Paris on 2nd December.
O'NEILL'S MISSION TO BE SYDNEY'S 'BEST EVER'
Brandon O'Neill has declared his ambition to captain Sydney FC, and his goal to represent Australia at the 2022 World Cup following a shift in gear after his Socceroos debut against South Korea. O'Neill arrived at Sydney FC a fresh-faced 22-year old with only 17 A-League appearances to his name.
Five seasons later, the former ECU Joondalup junior is a Socceroos international and as one of Sydney's most influential players, is ready to take the next step in his career. Sydney is going through a period of relative change and O'Neill believes he's ready to be next in line for the illustrious captaincy.
"I'd love nothing more than to captain this club," O'Neill told ftbl.com.au "This club is my home, this club gave me the platform to be the best person and the best footballer I can be. I want to be the most successful player here ever, I want to play the most games for Sydney FC, I want to do it all here."
O'Neill said that a few things changed when he pulled on the green and gold against South Korea. Now, as he has elevated to a senior role at club level, he's focused on one day playing at a World Cup. He'd do anything to work with the man that moulded him into the player he is today, Graham Arnold.
"There's no secret that Graham and Steve (Corica) have shaped me into the footballer I am today," O'Neill said. "I need to be obsessed with getting the best out of myself. What I control is the way I train, the way I recover, the way I sleep and the way I eat. If the opportunity arises again to work with Arnie I’ll take it with both hands."
O’Neill knows he faces some tough opposition in breaking into the Socceroos eleven, with fellow midfielders James Holland, Zach Duncan and Kenny Dougall also knocking on the door. "If I was to get onto that plane to Qatar that means I've monitored and controlled myself to the best of my ability, and I'd be one happy chappy."
KERR GOAL SEALS CHICAGO INTO FINAL
Sam Kerr has continued her prolific goal-scoring form to put her Chicago Red Stars into the National Womens Soccer League championship game for the first time. The Matilda's captain sealed a 1-0 semi-final win over Portland Thorns to send her team through to next weekend's season finale against North Carolina Courage.
Kerr has a record 77 regular-season goals in her NWSL career and is the league's three-time Golden Boot winner, but she had never scored in her three previous play-off games. It took her just 8 minutes of Sunday's game to erase that anomaly with a shot from the right that passed across the goalkeeper and into the bottom left corner of the goal.
LYDEN KNOWS SWINDON WERE WAY OFF THEIR LEVEL
Jordan Lyden admits Swindon Town were off their game in Saturday’s disappointing 3-1 defeat at Crewe Alexandra in League Two. Swindon actually led at the break courtesy of Eoin Doyle’s strike but Richie Wellens’ side fell away in the second period.
Chris Porter’s double and one from Charlie Kirk saw table-topping Crewe claim all three points and leave Town’s return from the last four league games standing at just one.
Lyden conceded Swindon were below their usual level, and even felt some members of the side went hiding times. “Where do I start? We just weren’t good enough from the first minute,” Lyden said. “The boys know themselves that we weren’t at the races.”
“In some stages of the game we got the ball down and played but, overall, we weren’t good enough, so we will leave it at that. Crewe did put a bit of a squeeze on us. They are a very good side – they are top of the league for a reason.”
“In some places, people were hiding from the ball and we weren’t really brave enough to get on in – and that is not us. If you looked at us at the start of the season, we were brave in getting on the ball and playing through teams. On Saturday, we didn’t do that.”
Lyden is well aware that the current dip in form is a growing concern for his squad, staff and their supporters. Although difficult to maintain a high level throughout the course of a campaign, the 23-year old feels a backs-to-basics approach may serve Swindon best as they look to get back on track in the coming weeks.
“It is hard to put a finger on it,” Lyden said. “We were playing really well at the start of the season but it is a long season ... We have to get down to the nitty gritty things and when it is not going well, we have to grind out results.”
OXBORROW WINS NORTHERN NEW SOUTH WALES PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Mitch Oxborrow has been named winner of the Graham Jennings Medal as Northern New South Wales’ player of the year following his first full season in the competition. The 24-year old midfielder played all but one game in Broadmeadow Magic's National Premier League season.
The former Newcastle Jets, Perth Glory and Brisbane Roar player was a mainstay of the Broadmeadow side this year after making six appearances in 2017 and eleven in 2018. Broadmeadow, who won the Grand Final with Oxborrow in their line-up last year, finished fourth this season and lost to Maitland in the semi-finals on the away goals rule.
Oxborrow, who recently signed with Lambton Jaffas for 2020, beat Newcastle Jets Youth goalkeeper Noah James, Lambton striker Braedyn Crowley, Lake Macquarie midfielder Daniel Minors and Maitland winger Ryan Clarke to the second annual Graham Jennings Medal. The prize is decided on a 1-5 vote from coaches on the best player from the opposing side each match.
BIRIGHITTI LAMENTS PENALTY CALL
Central Coast Mariners goalkeeper Mark Birighitti revealed he was warned by referee Daniel Elder about encroaching off his line in what turned out to be the crucial moment of Saturday night’s F3 Derby. Birighitti saved Dimitri Petratos’ second half penalty but was unable to keep out the re-take after he was ruled to have moved early.
“You make a save and then it’s a retake,” Birighitti said. “It’s disappointing but this is football and we move on. (The referee did warn me about moving off the line) but it’s hard. Being a ‘keeper you always get told to take that first step forward and attack the ball. That’s what I did.”
The dramatic incident allowed the visitors to draw level after the Mariners had led since the fourth minute after Milan Djuric’s fantastic volley. It was end-to-end stuff in the dying stages, with the home side almost snatching all three points when Djuric hit the post in the last minute.
POPOVIC SON OF A GUN
Perth Glory have come from behind to draw 1-1 with Western United at GMHBA Stadium in Week Two of the Hyundai A-League, thanks to a goal from youngster Kristian Popovic 14 minutes from time. The midfielder, son of Head Coach Tony, got on the end of Neil Kilkenny's cross to head home powerfully to level, this after Greek international Panagiotis Kone had given the hosts the lead, and it denied the new A-League club a win in their first home match in Geelong.
"When you look at it, there were chances either way, but I thought we really controlled the game in the first half, but unfortunately couldn't take the lead and then they scored right at the start of the second half which gave them a real injection of energy," Tony Popovic said said post-match. "It was important that we stayed in the game in that period and Liam [Reddy} made some good saves. The boys that came on gave us some good energy and got us back in it. Kristian made a good late run [for the goal] and I'm sure it's a moment he'll remember for a long time."
Glory made one change to the side that drew with Brisbane Roar last week with Kim Soo-Beom coming in for his Glory starting debut to replace Brandon Wilson. Like last week the Glory were on the front foot early and dominated and went close to the opener on three minutes, Kilkenny's teasing cross was inches away from Bruno Fornaroli. United were defending deep and Glory were in again when Chris Ikonomidis raced down the right and whipped in a great cross to Fornaroli, but he headed straight at United custodian Filip Kurto. The Uruguayan striker is desperate to open his account for the club, and once he bags one, it should open the floodgates.
Glory, well led by Alex Grant and Gregory Wuthrich, looked sloid at the back and denied the home side any clear chances, while at the other end Grant tried his luck from long-range but again it was straight at Kurto. At the break it was scoreless, but after dominating possesion Glory didn't capitalise. United began the second half well and with their first meaningful effort they hit the front. Former Celtic and Socceroos striker Scott McDonald found Kone, who was given far too much space on the edge of the box, and his shot flew into the top corner of the net giving Liam Reddy no chance.
The home supporters in the 6,088 crowd were on their feet again on the hour when Italian midfielder Alessandro Diamianti's powerful shot looked like it was heading for the corner of the net, but Reddy produced a stunning save to deny him. Two minutes later the home faithful thought they had made it 2-0 after Besart Berisha headed home a cross from Dario Jertec, only to be denied by the offside flag. Glory awoke from their slumber and Wuthrich's cross picked out Kim Soo-Beom who head was well saved by Kurto. Glory went to their bench and the players coming on made a difference.
One of the them was Kristian Popovic and on 76 minutes he found the equaliser. Man of the Match Kilkenny picked the ball in midfield and his cross into the box found the youngster, who ghosted past two defenders to head home, much to the delight of the Glory supporters including the Victorian Glory Group. It was now game on and both sides went close as the game opened up. First Fornaroli's snap shot force Kurto into a smart save, before Berisha found Kone, whose shot was well saved by Reddy, and Berisha's follow up was inches wide.
The home side were pressing for the winner and substitute Dylan Pierias found former Glory defender Josh Risdon, whose effort crashed off the crossbar, before Kone's last minute long-range effort flashed just wide, and both sides had to share the spoils. Another encouraging performance from Glory, but the lack of chances is a concern. It's still early days and with new players still looking underdone they head to Wellington still unbeaten and determined to get the three points. “It was a good feeling to score,” Kristain Popovic said post-match. "We didn’t get away with the three points but obviously when I came on, I came on to do a job and that was to make an impact."
Footballwa.net Man of the Match - Neil Kilkenny
Western United: GK Filip KURTO, 4 Andrew DURANTE, 6 Connor CHAPMAN, 8 Panagiotis KONE, 10 Scott McDONALD (14 Max BURGESS 79'), 11 Connor PAIN, 12 Dario JERTEC, 18 Besart BERISHA (5 Dylan PIERIAS 83'), 19 Joshua RISDON, 22 Ersan GULUM, 23 Alessandro DIAMANTI - Subs not used: RGK.James DELIANOV, 2 Aaron CALVER, 15 Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 26 Kwabena Appiah-Kubi, 27 Jerry SKOTADIS
Perth Glory: GK Liam REDDY, 2 Alex GRANT, 4 Gregory WUTHRICH, 7 Joel CHIANESE (3 Jacob TRATT 68'), 9 Bruno FORNAROLI, 12 Kim SOO-BEOM 13 Osama MALIK, 17 Diego CASTRO, 19 Chris IKONOMIDIS, (14 Chris HAROLD 76'), 27 JUANDE (29 Kristian POPOVIC 68'), 88 Neil KILKENNY - Subs not used: GK Tando VELAPHI, 6 Dino DJULBIC, 28 Gabriel POPOVIC - Referee: Alireza Faghani
YOUNG POPOVIC HEEDS DAD’S ADVICE
Perth Glory young gun Kristian Popovic was just following his father’s instructions when he scored his first A-League goal to deny Western United FC a win in their first home game today. The 18-year old entered the fray midway through the second half with Glory trailing 1-0 to Panagiotis Kone’s thunderous strike.
Within eight minutes he Popovic pulled Glory level, burying an excellent header to salvage a point for the premiers in Geelong. It was his first goal in the A-League and one that will live long in the memory for both Kristian, father and coach Tony, and the whole Popovic clan.
“It was a good feeling to score,” Popovic told Fox Sports. “We didn’t get away with the three points but obviously when I came on I came on to do a job and that was to make an impact. I was told to come on and make a difference, try to do something that will help the team and I scored fortunately.”
Until Popovic junior’s moment of inspiration, Western United looked on course for what would have been a dream result in the club’s first ever home game in the competition. An entertaining game was opened up just after half-time by Panagiotis Kone’s curling long-range strike into the top corner.
REDDY TAKES RESPONSIBILITY FOR KEEPING HIS DEFENCE ORGANISED
Tony Popovic built last season’s Premiers’ Plate winning campaign on an imposing defence - and nothing will change any time soon. Seven of Popovic’s nine off-season signings are defenders, and the Perth Glory coach has added another layer to the back line with reinforcements including Osama Malik, James Meredith and Gregory Wuthrich.
The starting central back-three in Sunday’s draw with Brisbane Roar were Malik, Wuthrich and Alex Grant. Never afraid to test his players, Popovic started Olyroos defender Brandon Wilson at right wing-back and Joel Chianese, who normally operates as a winger or in attack, on the other side.
Veteran goalkeeper Liam Reddy is in the ideal position to assess the back line and likes what he is seeing after hardly being called on to make a save in the opening round. “It’s a totally new back five from the Grand Final,” Reddy said. “They did extremely well and will continue to get better. There were a lot of positive signs. The boys that have come in have done well. We’ve still got a couple more to come in.”
Reddy takes a lot of responsibility for keeping his defence organised but said there was plenty of talk against Brisbane. “Alex Grant, Os (Osama Malik) and young Greg (Wuthrich) are vocal,” he said. “They are very good at organising. They know what they are doing. Being a goalkeeper you have to organise, that’s part of my job, but it’s upon all of us to do that.”
Reddy said the team will needed to reproduce last Sunday’s first-half performance for 90 minutes when they face Western United, who boast plenty of experience, this weekend. “Our first 25-30 minutes was some of the best football I’ve seen played from my time at Perth Glory,” he said. “We were disappointed to concede late on but we move on.”
“We know Saturday is going to be a big game. It’s their first home game. They did really well, it’s a tough place to go Wellington. They will be hard to break down and with Berisha, (Scott) McDonald and (Alessandro) Diamanti they look dangerous. We are going to have to be at our best. We’ve set ourselves high goals.”
EAGLES LAND BANJAC FOR 2020
It’s all change at Dianella White Eagles with a new President, committee and a new head coach. Rod Banjac took a year away from football last season after his departure from Forrestfield United, but he is back in the game after signing a three-year contract at Dianella Reserve. Banjac is determined to rebuild the club, after they slipped down to Division Two last season, and scenario is the same as when he took over the reins at Forrestfield who were floundering in Division Two. "It's great to be back as football, and sport in general, they are a nice distraction from real challenges in life," he said. "Similarities between the two clubs are almost identical when at their lowest, and no doubt previous experience will be of great benefit. But this is a great club and I can’t watch them suffer, and I'm determined to turn their fortunes around."
New Club President Bata Jovanovic is exciting about the future at the club and he said he’s looking forward to the challenge. “I see it as a real honour to have been selected as President of Dianella White Eagles Sports Club,” he said. “As a child I grew up around this club and the passion has certainly been instilled in me. I have managed to select an outstanding team of board members to strategically plan key areas to build a strong foundation for Dianella in 2020 and beyond. We want to be a community-based club with cultural influences from juniors to our senior first team.”
Jovanovic said the appointed of Banjac is the first of many progressive moves from the club. “Well I believe the stars have aligned for us with the appointment of Serbian born Rod Banjac. He finished his playing career with Canberra White Eagles in 1996 and from there went on to build his portfolio to be a prominent figure in the W.A football community,” he explained. “The club looks forward to stability, process and a sustainable football culture. This will bring an exciting style and certainly change our fortune on the park. Rod has the full support from the board and we are confident we have the right man.”
Banjac said the club have been very supportive and he can't wait to get started on the re-build. "Dianella has a fantastic young and very capable newly elected committee hungry for success and I look forward to working with them. They are fully supportive and with fantastic facilities in place, I can focus 100% on football related matters," he explained. "There is no doubt that I will test the patience of the large and vocal support base as they don’t like the situation the club finds itself in. They love success and will expect instant results but they are extremely loyal and will understand that the process will take time to develop, and once in place results will follow."
The club have no junior set-up, something Banjac will work hard to turn around. "The football business model will be the same as the one I implemented at Forrie, where emphasis will be on the local community, environment, culture, development pathway and quality brand of football that is very effective and easy on the eye, and of course the neck," he joked. "Hard to believe that a massive club with such a proud history finds itself without a single junior team, and that is something we look to rectify as a matter of urgency. We have already drawn up plans for the junior development program and is the number one item on our list of priorities."
His time at Forrestfield came to an abrupt end in 2018, but during his time at Hartfield Park the likeable coach had a family tragedy that took a huge toll on him and his family. "I'm not sure where I found the strength to carry me through the 2018 season, as I was struggling with so much in my private life where emotions were hard to contain," he explained. "Immediately after the season finished, I decided to take time off, and after a year away from football I am now fully aware, and have come to terms with reality and I now look forward to continue my football education at Dianella White Eagles. But I will forever have fond memories of "The Mighty FUSC" and am proud to have left a legacy and a platform to build on, and am absolutely honoured to have been rewarded with life membership recently."
GLORY WOMEN SQUAD TAKING SHAPE
Perth Glory's squad for the 2019/20 W-League season is taking shape with eleven players currently signed up to wear purple this summer. The core of the squad that reached last season's Grand Final has been retained, including some of the country's brightest young prospects such as Leticia McKenna and Lexie Moreno.
Matildas goalkeeper Eliza Campbell, who enjoyed a stellar debut campaign for Glory last year, is back on board as is the club's record W-League appearances-holder, Shannon May. Long-serving defensive duo Kim Carroll and Sarah Carroll also return, the latter fresh from topping WA Women's Premier League scoring charts with Northern Redbacks.
Young Matilda Morgan Aquino will provide competition for Campbell between the posts. Last season's starting full-backs, Natasha Rigby and Jamie-Lee Gale, are set to feature once again, as are highly-rated Albany youngster Jenna Onions and versatile attacker Caitlin Doeglas.
Coach Bobby Despotovski is delighted with the way the squad is shaping up and looking forward to seeing how its large contingent of young local players develop. "We are going with a slightly different squad this year," said the former Socceroo, who will guide Glory Women for the fifth successive season.
"There is a lot of local talent on show and the reason behind that is our determination to give local WA players an opportunity to play at W-League level. Obviously they have to be good enough and I believe that this blend of players that we have chosen this year and in particular the young players, are definitely good enough."
"They need that chance to play and show their talent and that's what we're going to give them. In terms of our target for the season, it is always to finish in the top four and then try and win it from there. We're not going to deviate from that."
Glory Women began pre-season training earlier this week ahead of their opening game of the 2019/20 season, which is away at Canberra United on Sunday 17 November. The squad will be bolstered by further signings, including a number of players from overseas, in coming weeks.
GLORY TAKE ON THE NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK IN ROUND TWO
Perth Glory will look to rebound from the disappointment of conceding a late equaliser last week against Brisbane Roar when they travel to GMHBA Stadium in Geelong to take on new A-League franchise Western United on Saturday afternoon. (2.00pm WA Time) It's a massive game for the hosts, their first home game in the league and they are coming off a win in the opening game, a 1-0 win in Wellington against the Phoenix. Glory nemesis Besart Berisha scored the only goal in United's win last week, and he will be looking to continue his scoring in the A-League, the striker has bagged 187 goals in the competition which is the record.
Glory had the win snatched from their hands last week against the Roar, but a draw was a fair result in a game of two halves. Diego Castro was outstanding again last week, while new recruit Gregory Wuthrich made a great start to his Glory career, but it was a concern the way the side finished the game, especially after a long pre-season, but Tony Popovic will be looking for a 90-minute performance this week. Popovic knows first-hand the challenges of coaching a new club after guiding Western Sydney Wanderers in their early years, and he was impressed by what he saw from the Mark Rudan's side last week and he expects them to come out firing in front of their new fans.
"I think maybe they have a bit of that siege mentality and something to prove, and they've proved it already," he said. "They've already got that first win, and away from home. They're off and running which is great for the league. I can appreciate how hard it is at a start-up club to win that first game and how important it is to win as a new football club, and now they've got their first home game. So we know they'll be confident, and they'll want to get a big crowd and a good backing there for their new supporter base."
Popovic said United front two of Berisha and former Motherwell and Socceroos striker Scott McDonald are dangerous and they will need to keep a close eye on the pair, he also added it was good to see the Albania striker back in the competition. "Yes, it's good to see him back in the A-League, he's a real character, and he earned his move to Japan, and now he's back," he said. "I think he's great for the A-League, he has that real winning attitude and mentality, and you can see it in the way he plays."
Like his coach Glory keeper Liam Reddy is expecting United to provide a stern test. "Obviously it's going to be a big game; it's their first home game. They're a new team and a new club and we're looking forward to the trip,” he said. “They did really well last week in Wellington, and it’s a tough place to go and get three points. They have a very experienced team and are hard to break down and with Berisha, McDonald and Alessandro Diamanti up front, they look very dangerous. We are going to have to be at our best again and it'll be a good battle for us."
Glory welcome back Ivan Franjic from suspension for the clash, while Jake Brimmer, Chris Harold, Nick Agostino and Dane Ingham will be pushing for spots in the squad. They head east full of confidence having lost only one of their last seven A-League games in Victoria, and are undefeated in their last four. Meanwhile Western United will be looking to become just the second team in A-League history to win their first two games in the competition; Gold Coast United began their tenure with a three-game winning streak in 2009.
Western United FC squad: GK Filip KURTO, RGK James DELIANOV 2 Aaron CALVER, 3 Brendan HAMILL, 4 Andrew DURANTE, 5 Dylan PIERIAS, 6 Connor CHAPMAN, 8 Panagiotis KONE, 10 Scott MCDONALD, 11 Connor PAIN, 12 Dario JERTEC, 13 Ivan VUJICA, 14 Max BURGESS, 15 Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 17 Joshua CAVALLO, 18 Besart BERISHA, 19 Josh RISDON, 22 Ersan GULUM, 23 Alessandro DIAMANTI, 26 Kwabena Appiah-Kubi *2-4 to be omitted* - Ins: CALVER (promoted), HAMILL (promoted) - Outs: nil - Unavailable: 7Valentino Yuel (ankle – 6 weeks), 9 Apostolos STAMATELOPOULOS (calf – 3 weeks) 25 Luke DUZEL (International Duty)
Perth Glory squad: GK Liam REDDY, RGK Tando VELAPHI, 2 Alex GRANT, 3 Jacob TRATT, 4 Gregory WUTHRICH, 5 Ivan FRANJIC, 6 Dino DJULBIC, 7 Joel CHIANESE, 9 Bruno FORNAROLI, 12 Kim SOO-BEOM, 13 Osama MALIK, 14 Chris HAROLD, 15 Brandon WILSON, 16 Tomislav MRCELA, 17 Diego CASTRO, 19 Chris IKONOMIDIS, 27 JUANDE, 28 Gabriel POPOVIC, 29 Kristian POPOVIC, 88 Neil KILKENNY - *2-4 to be omitted* - Ins: FRANJIC (returns from suspension), HAROLD (promoted), MRCELA (promoted) - Outs: Nil - Unavailable: Nil - Referee: Alireza Faghani
MEREDITH TO BE EASED IN AT GLORY
Perth Glory new recruit James Meredith was a notable absentee from the clubs opening A-League opener against Brisbane Roar last week, and the Glory fans will have to wait to see the 31-year-old defender in purple as the club take a cautious approach with the Socceroo defender. Meredith joined Glory less than three weeks ago from English Championship club Millwall, who he left at the end of last season. He did spend a few weeks trialling with English Division One club Portsmouth before signing with Glory, and coach Tony Popovic is delighted with his latest acquisition, but knows he will need to build up Meredith's fitness before he can have an impact in the side.
It's not unusual for the Glory coach, who took the same approach with defender Matthew Spiranovic last season. Spiranovic missed the first six rounds of the season before playing a key role in the club's Premiers Plate charge, and he was coy about how many more weeks Meredith would need before he is match ready.
"I think he's still a bit away, he hasn't really done a pre-season. He's a good footballer, we know that, but he's going to take some time, his fitness isn't quite there," Popovic explained. "He's still adapting to playing in Australia and our playing style and his own physical condition, which wasn't good when he arrived, but we knew that. When he's right, he'll be a very good player for us."
KERR HEADING TO EUROPE?
It looks like the end for Sam Kerr at Perth Glory and the W-League with reports coming out this week she is on the verge of a big money move to Europe. FFA have said it's unlikely that Sam Kerr will return to the W-League this season, despite their big-money offer to lure her back to the competition. The Glory marquee players has been regularly linked Women's Super League giants Chelsea, and head of league's Greg O'Rourke has admitted that she probably won't be back this season. "It looks unlikely that she'll return to play in the W-League this year, but Sam has not or her management hasn't informed us of where she might play," he said. "The challenge for the W-League now is to ensure that the gap between its own club operations and the world's leading clubs isn't allowed to become too big and that they remain as attractive destinations."
The loss of Kerr would be a big blow for the Glory, but coach Bobby Despotovski said it’s time for the talented striker to try it in Europe. "I wish she does take that plunge in the European league, she needs a challenge, she needs to go sit down with her management and discuss which club because it’s very important to go into a good league with good players that will support someone of her stature,” he said. “That’s the next step for her and I hope she does take that step sooner rather than later."
With Europe becoming a power in women’s football, and after a successful World Cup held in the continent, Despotovski suspects it will quickly become the go-to destination for players that have previously split their time between America and Australia. "Obviously with the evolution of European football and leagues right now, I believe that's going to overtake both American and Australian leagues and all the best players will look to go to Europe to play," he said. "It's not necessarily bad for the W-League, yes the initial impact is going to be huge. But in saying that it will give more of an opportunity to our local girls to play because we import a lot of players from America and between Matildas and those imports there’s not many spots available to play.”
Somewhat resigned to the likelihood of losing Kerr for next season, Despotovski has already turned his attention to finding the next superstar as he continues to give young, local players a chance to impress.
"We have six Perth players in the Young Matildas and the Young, Young Matildas so we’re going to concentrate now on finding the next Sam Kerr," he said. "That’s our next step of the development to give young players a chance. Because younger players are breaking through but when they come to the first team there is no opportunity to play further up - this is a crime in itself. We all have an obligation to promote the youth and have a responsibility to not let our own drive for success to neglect our youth. "If you have a little bit of money you can buy your whole team and win the league, I’m not about that. I’ve never been about that. When I first came to Glory, I always said WA girls would be playing for my team."
BALCATTA ADD TRIO TO SQUAD
After a successful 2019 in the NPLWA, Balcatta coach Goran Stajic hasn't rested on his laurels and has added three new players to his squad. Striker James Harmer has joined from Rockingham City, keeper Ryan Montgomery from Stirling Lions, while winger Joe O'Brien joins from Mandurah City. Stajic said the trio are a perfect fit for the club.
“The off season is certainly a living thing, personally I haven’t stopped planning for the next few years, and I’m glad that the club managed to bring in all the newcomers we wanted, because they represent great potential and a pledge for our future,” he explained. “The quality they possess will enable them to quickly and easily integrate and adapt to our style of play. When I met with them all individually, I emphasised that I am not a man who promises or loves the accolades. What I did assure is that we will do our best and see if it will be enough to win the league. Their signatures all came down to a solid season in 2019, a new season is ahead and with new ambitions.”
Harmer, who finished third in the Football West Gold Medal last week, said the decision to leave Rockingham City was a difficult one, but he is delighted to have joined another good club. “Yes, it was a really difficult decision to leave Rockingham, and my time spent at the club has been fantastic and they have been incredible to me and my family over the past three years,” he explained. “It was a great journey with everyone at the club to help get them to where they belong in the NPL. I really wish them all the best in 2019 under their new manager Gary Christie, he’s a fantastic coach and am excited to see what they can achieve in 2020.”
The Welsh striker said after speaking to the Balcatta Coach he knew it was the club to join. “To be honest with you after playing against Balcatta last season they really impressed me. The togetherness they showed to get their heads down and work hard for each other was incredible. They don’t have any big time Charlie’s and all just want to give 100% every week, I really like that,” he said. “Then after meeting with Goran and Steve the knowledge, professionalism and attention to detail was overwhelming to be honest. This club want to go places and be professional whilst doing it and I am so excited for 2020. To be honest I just want to get in with the boys now and start pushing for next season.”
O’Brien was a standout at Mandurah City in Division One last season and he looking forward to the new challenge in the NPL. “I feel like I’m ready to challenge myself at a higher level and I’m determined to bring success to Balcatta who are a great all-round club with top players and a lot of ambition,” he said. “I have a lot of love and respect for Mandurah and have enjoyed all my time there, they’ve helped me grow as a player and I’m very grateful to have been a part of such a great club, I wish them all the best.”
GALLOWAY LOOKING FORWARD TO ADELAIDE DOUBLE-DIP
One would forgive Scott Galloway’s thoughts for drifting away to Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day in the coming days, with the former Adelaide United right-back - just two weeks into the regular season - getting set to meet his former club for the fourth time this season.
Melbourne City and Adelaide met twice during the pre-season and are set to meet in the FFA Cup Final next Wednesday. Before then, the two sides will meet in the second round of the A-League on Sunday evening with both seeking their first win of the new campaign.
24-year-old Galloway, who officially debuted with his fifth A-League side in that draw with Victory, experienced a breakthrough year with the Reds in 2018/19; starting and scoring on debut after initially joining on trial and starting every game across all competitions.
Lifting the FFA Cup in front of a raucous Adelaide crowd against Sydney FC during that stint, the right-back had fond memories of his time in the City of Churches; memories that he’s had plenty of chances to relive in the early months of the season.
“It’ll be the first time we’ve played them competitively,” he said of Sunday’s game. “We’ve played them two times in the pre-season. Australia, it’s small and there are not many teams so everyone really plays each other most of the time in pre-season. (Sunday’s) going to be a tough game, it’s going to be a good game.”
“We play them twice in two massive games right after each other. We want three points in the league to really kickstart our league campaign. They set up well, they’ve got some good players, but we just concentrate on ourselves and we know what to do.”
There will, however, be no looking forward to the FFA Cup Final according to Galloway - despite his excitement for the fixture. “There’s something bigger for us in getting the three points and winning the Cup,” the defender said. “You want to win every game you play in, so we take it one game at a time.”
“The coach, he’ll make the decision on what he’s going to do coming into the first game - if he’s thinking about the second one or not - us players just get along and we want to win regardless of who is playing and what games you want to win.”
“For me, it’s going to be very exciting. I’ve already won two cups -– one at Victory and one at Adelaide – but I actually played in the one in Adelaide. To go back to the place at the place I won it last year and try to take it away from them now it's going to be great.”
“It’s a fantastic place to play, the atmosphere is unbelievable. But if you’re the travelling team going there and you get the win, it’s not going to be that loud … All footballers play to win silverware and play in finals. It doesn’t really happen all that often, so you need to enjoy the occasion and make it a memorable one.”
SOCCEROOS PUT SEVEN PAST TAIWAN
A 7-1 thrashing of Taiwan has put Australia in control of their World Cup qualifying group but striker Adam Taggart knows tougher obstacles await. Taggart scored a first half double for his first international goals in six years, Jackson Irvine and Harry Souttar also bagged braces with substitute Jamie Maclaren completing the tally.
"These games are great to build confidence," Taggart told AAP. “Great to build relationships with each other because that's what you need going in deeper and deeper in the tournament, especially when you come up against tougher opponents. It's another step in the right direction."
Arnold made six changes to his starting eleven that defeated Nepal last week. And most of the changes had a positive impact with Brad Smith and Awer Mabil a potent combination down the left and Taggart scoring his first goals for the Socceroos since 2013.
"Bit of a relief to be honest. It's obviously been nice to be back involved the last few camps after being absent for a long time so just over the moon to be back a part of it, back amongst the scorers and, yeah, another win for the campaign," said Taggart.
Chinese Taipei: GK Pan Wen-chieh, 2 Wang Ruei, 3 Chen Ting-yang, 4 Hung Tzu-Kuei, 6 Chen Wei-chuan, 10 Chen Hao-wei, 12 Wen Chih-Hao (19 Lee Hsiang-Wei 70?'?), 15 Chen Yi-Wei, 17 Chen Po-Lian (8 Wu Yen-shu 61’), 20 En-Le Chug, 21 Emilio Estevez (7 Will Donkin 68’) – Subs not used: RGK Huang Chiu-Lin, 5 Cheng Hao, 9 Li Mao, 11 Wu Chun-Ching, 13 Lin Chang-Lun, 14 Chen Chao-an, 16 Yu Chia-Huang, 22 Chen Jui-Chieh, 23 Hsuan Tuan
Australia: GK Mat Ryan, 2 Milos Degenek, 3 Brad Smith, 4 Rhyan Grant, 6 James Jeggo, 10 Adam Taggart (9 Jamie Maclaren 79’), 13 Aaron Mooy (17 Mustafa Amini 62?'), 14 Brandon Borrello (19 Ajdin Hrustic 69?'), 21 Awer Mabil, 22 Jackson Irvine, 23 Harry Souttar – Subs not used: RGK Mitchell Langerak, RGK Andrew Redmayne, 5 Mark Milligan, 7 Mathew Leckie, 8 Dimitrios Petratos, 11 Craig Goodwin, 15 Apostolos Giannou, 16 Aziz Behich, 20 Bailey Wright - Attendance: 3,251 - Referee: Mongkolchai Pechsri (Thailand)
MEREDITH TO REMAIN ON ICE
Perth Glory fans shouldn’t expect to see James Meredith any time soon, with the A-League club to take a cautious approach with the fringe Socceroo. The 31-year old left back joined Glory less than three weeks ago and was a notable absentee from the opening round draw with Brisbane Roar.
Meredith left English Championship club Millwall at the end of last season and spent a few weeks trialling with Portsmouth before signing with Glory. Coach Tony Popovic is delighted with his latest acquisition, but knows he will need to build up Meredith’s fitness before unleashing him in games.
“I think he’s still a bit away,” said Popovic, who is reluctant to put a figure on how many more weeks Meredith would need before he is match ready. “He hasn’t really done a pre-season. He’s a good footballer, we know that. But he’s going to take some time.”
“His fitness isn’t quite there. He’s still adapting to playing in Australia and our playing style and his own physical condition, which wasn’t good when he arrived, but we knew that. When he’s right, he’ll be a very good player for us.”
OLDER, WISER TAGGART ENJOYING SOCCEROOS REVIVAL
When a teenage Adam Taggart last lined up for Australia against Taiwan, he had the football world at his feet. The then 19-year old marked his starting Socceroos debut with a double as Australia romped to an 8-0 win in an East Asian Cup preliminary round fixture in Hong Kong in 2012.
Back in Taiwan ahead of Australia's World Cup qualifier in Kaohsiung on Tuesday, Taggart remembers that December 2012 appearance vividly. "It was the start of being part of the national team and a really enjoyable game," Taggart told AAP.
"We obviously smashed them that game and being so young, it was a big buzz to make your starting debut for your country. I definitely remember it. I definitely remember both the goals as well. I don't think I've ever had an easier goal, the first one."
More would go right for Taggart in the next couple of years including a spot in Australia's 2014 World Cup squad before a big move to English club Fulham. Then injuries hit. He made just seven appearances - those on loan to Scottish club Dundee United - across two seasons.
Back in the A-League, Taggart slowly restored his fitness and reputation, with Perth Glory and Brisbane Roar, before a February move to Suwon Bluewings. A prolific campaign in South Korea brought him back into the national team, against South Korea in a June.
That double in 2012 and a strike against China the following year remain Taggart's only international goals in a nine game Socceroos career scattered across seven years. He'll be hoping to another goal to the tally when Australia faces Chinese Taipei tomorrow.
"You appreciate a lot of things a lot more after a few years of struggle with injury," he said. "It was really early on in my career that I first got the opportunity and it's a different feel now I'm more in that middle-age bracket and I've got a lot of mates here as well."
GLORY LET IT SLIP LATE
Perth Glory started the defence of their A-League Premiers plate with a 1-1 draw against Brisbane Roar at HBF Park on Sunday afternoon. Chris Ikonomidis had given Glory the lead on the half hour and it looked like that would secure a first up win, but deep into stoppage time a square Glory defence were punished with Irish striker Roy O’Donovan, who was making his Roar debut, levelling on 94 minutes, to give both sides a share of the spoils.
"It's always tough conceding so late in the game," Glory Coach Tony Popovic said post-match. "But on reflection, we'll look back on what was a very good first half, and in the second half, we expected to drop off due to our physical condition, the new players and lack of match fitness that's just normal. But although we were under pressure because we couldn't keep the ball, we didn't really concede any chances. Unfortunately, they had the one opportunity and they took it, so well done to them. We take the point and move on; we know we'll get better."
Popovic gave Glory starting debuts to defenders Gregory Wuthrich and Osama Malik, while striker Bruno Fornaroli made his long-awaited debut after joining from Melbourne City last season. Also, on the bench were new recruits Jacob Tratt and South Korean defender Kim Soo-Beom. It was a great day for football, but there was only a small crowd on hand at kick-off, which was a little disappointing with the club coming off a successful season. Glory looked switched on early and had the Roar on the back foot, and they went close early. Neil Kilkenny's corner was met by Wuthrich, whose headed whistled over the top. Moments later Juande ball was chested down well by Fornaroli, but Ikonomidis' shot flashed inches wide.
Roar settled and went close themselves moments later when Glory's Brandon Wilson attempted clearance from Jake McGing cross forced Liam Reddy into a smart reflex save. O’Donovan then saw his header flash wide of the target, but it was Glory who were creating the better chances and on 34 minutes they found the opener. Fornaroli again showed great strength to hold the ball up and lay it off, allowing Diego Castro to thread a perfectly-weighted through ball to Ikonomidis who finished clinically into the bottom corner of the net and celebrated in front of the Shed.
Stung by that opener, Roar began the second half on the front foot, and Reddy produced a smart save to deny Stefan Mauk in a one-on-one situation. Jay O'Shea's set-piece delivery caused panic in the Glory backline, but Alex Grant cleared the danger. Glory were struggling to create any clear-cut chances but with skipper Castro in prestige form again it wasn't long before the Spaniard produced some magic, but his dangerous cross was inches away from Fornaroli in the six-yard box. Glory were forced into a couple of changes late, the major one was the loss of Man of the Match Wuthrich, after the Swiss defender looked to have hurt a shoulder in an earlier challenge.
Brisbane were pressing and the Glory were defending deep, but just as it looked like they would hold on to the three points the visitors hit in the fourth minute of stoppage time. Glory lost possession in the middle of the park and the ball was chipped over the top of a static Glory backline by O'Shea, and substitute Aaron Amadi-Holloway, and O'Donovan was hand to head home from close-range. But his celebrations were cut short as assistant referee Arvin Shan raised his flag for offside. It was a close thing but VAR overturned the decision to give Robbie Fowler's side a share of the spoils.
Footballwa.net - Man of the Match - Gregory Wuthrich
Perth Glory: GK Liam REDDY, 2 Alex GRANT, 4 Gregory WUTHRICH (6 Dino DJULBIC 81'), 7 Joel CHIANESE, 9 Bruno FORNAROLI, 13 Osama MALIK, 15 Brandon WILSON (12 Kim SOO-BEOM 63'), 17 Diego CASTRO (c), 19 Chris IKONOMIDIS (29 Kristian POPOVIC 86'), 27 JUANDE, 88 Neil KILKENNY - Subs not used: RGK Tando VELAPHI, 3 Jacob TRATT, 28 Gabriel POPOVIC
Brisbane Roar: GK Max CROCOMBE, 2 Scott NEVILLE, 5 Tom ALDRED (c), 6 Macaulay GILLESPHEY, 9 Roy O’DONOVAN, 10 Bradden INMAN (7 Jai INGHAM 76'), 12 Aiden O’NEILL, 13 Stefan MAUK, 22 Jake MCGING (20 Aaron AMADI-HOLLOWAY 83'), 24 Connor O’TOOLE, 26 Jay O’SHEA - Subs not used: RGK Jamie YOUNG, 4 Daniel BOWLES, 8 Jacob PEPPER, 15 Aaron REARDON - Attendance: 9,829 - Referee: Shaun Evans
NICOL GOES BACK-TO-BACK IN GOLD MEDAL
It was a dramatic night at the WA Football Awards at Optus Stadium on Saturday evening, and it ended with Bayswater City winger Daryl Nicol going back-to-back after winning the Men’s Gold Medal, while there was a three-way tie in the race for the Women’s Gold Medal. Nicol, who won the medal last season with ECU Joondalup in 2018, won the presitage award after Floreat Athena skipper Dean Evans had finished top of the count with 28 votes, but he was ineligible after collecting a red card during the season. This meant Nicol was crowned Player of the Year with 26 votes, three ahead of Rockingham City’s James Harmer.
Nicol said it was a great surprise to win the medal and hopes Bayswater can challenge for honours next season. “I’m enormously proud to go back to back with the Gold Medal,” Nicol said. “I’m under no illusions of how big an achievement it is and I’m sure it’s something I will look back on fondly once I’ve stopped playing. Our league form at Bayswater this year was nowhere near good enough and after defeat to Floreat in the State Cup Final our season fell apart. We showed in glimpses during the season that we can be a top team but we’re going to need to find a much higher level of consistency if we want to challenge next year.”
In the Women’s Gold Medal count, there was a tie between Northern Redbacks skipper Shawn Billam and Fremantle City duo Laura Waltman and Gemma Craine. All three finished on 16 votes, one more than Balcatta’s Liana Cook. All three players received a Gold Medal, but Craine received the winner’s cheque on countback as she had the most amount of three votes. In other awards on the night Inglewood United’s Chok Dau won the Dylan Tombides Young Player of the Year Award, Angel Andres of Fremantle City was named State League Division One Player of the Year, while Richard Howles, whose goals helped fire Quinns to the title, claimed the Division Two Player of the Year award.
Perth SC’s Ramon Falzon was named Ron Tindall NPL WA Coach of the Year for the second successive year after his side retained their league title, while Conrad McKelvie of Women’s Premier League Winners Northern Redbacks was named Women’s Coach of the Year. Gwelup Croatia’s Taki Nicolaidis took the State League Division One Coach of the Year award after his side won the title and promotion to the NPL WA, while Quinns’ Ian Ferguson was named Division Two Coach of the Year. Former WA Soccer Federation President and Secretary Julius Re, who has served football in Western Australia for the past seven decades, received the Football West Life Member Award. Gwelup Croatia’s Ilija Mihalj was named David Schrandt Administrator and Volunteer of the Year, while the David Cantoni Disabilities in Football Player Achievement Award went to Emily Casella, who represented Australia at the World Games Special Olympics in UAE.
GLORY HOPING TO START TITLE DEFENCE WITH A ROAR
Perth Glory kick off their Hyundai A-League Premiership defence against Robbie Fowler's Brisbane Roar on Sunday afternoon. Tony Popovic's side were a cut above the rest over the course of 27 rounds in 2018/19, but fell short at the final hurdle, a penalty shootout defeat by Sydney FC in the Grand Final. But Glory will be hungry to immediately put a stake in the ground, but so too is one of their former players, Fowler who played for the Glory and scored nine goals for the club between 2010-2011. He’s now at the helm of Brisbane in his first role in full-time coaching, this match marks the beginning of a new chapter for him.
It’s not been a very successful pre-season for Glory, but Head Coach Tony Popovic said they can’t wait for the new season to begin. "The players are ready for Round One, it’s been a long off-season and you can see it in the players that they are raring to go and want to put the pre-season behind them,” he explained. “In the last couple of weeks, the players have been looking really fresh, energetic and focused for the start of the season."
Popovic is well aware it’s a much-changed Brisbane outfit this weekend, complete with a new coach, but while expecting the Roar to provide a stern first-up test, he is quietly confident that his charges can get off to a winning start. "We are just focusing on us, they [Brisbane] have a new coach in Robbie [Fowler] and a lot of new players’ similar numbers to what we've brought in as well,” he said. “I'm sure there's a lot of optimism in Brisbane about what they can achieve. We respect the work that they are trying to do and the ambitions that they have to get back to the top where they were accustomed to being.
“But we're also here ourselves to put on a performance in front of our home fans who haven't seen us at home since the Adelaide semi-final, so we're really determined to start on the front foot and get the three points. Last year the goal was to challenge for the title and we said that from the start, this year it's to try and do that again. We did something last year that hadn't been done by Perth before and now we have to do something that hasn't been done before again and that is to have success in two consecutive seasons. That's the challenge we have and it's an exciting one. It's a good way to come into a season; with plenty of expectation and we're enjoying that fact. We have to embrace that and tackle it head on."
In team news, the only confirmed absentee for Glory is Ivan Franjic who will serve a one-match suspension after seeing red in the FFA Cup clash with Western Sydney Wanderers. New recruits Gregory Wuthrich, James Meredith, Bruno Fornaroli, Kim Soo-Beom, Osama Malik are all in the Glory 20-man squad. Roar, meanwhile, are expected to hand Hyundai A-League debuts to a host of their new recruits including ex-Bury duo Tom Aldred and Jay O'Shea and livewire Welsh forward Aaron Amadi-Holloway and there could also be a place in the starting eleven for former Glory man, Scott Neville. Glory will be looking to secure a fourth straight win over Roar who have claimed three points only once in their last nine visits to HBF Park.
Perth Glory squad: GK Liam REDDY, RGK Tando VELAPHI, 2 Alex GRANT, 3 Jacob TRATT, 4 Gregory WUTHRICH, 6 Dino DJULBIC, 7 Joel CHIANESE, 8 James MEREDITH, 9 Bruno FORNAROLI, 12 Kim SOO-BEOM, 13 Osama MALIK, 14 Chris HAROLD, 15 Brandon WILSON, 16 Tomislav MRCELA, 17 Diego CASTRO (c), 19 Chris IKONOMIDIS, 20 Jake BRIMMER, 27 JUANDE, 29 Kristian POPOVIC, 88 Neil KILKENNY - *Four to be omitted* - Unavailable: 5 Ivan FRANJIC (suspended – 1 week)
Brisbane Roar squad: GK Jamie YOUNG, RGK Max CROCOMBE, 2 Scott NEVILLE, 5 Tom ALDRED (c), 6 Macaulay GILLESPHEY, 7 Jai INGHAM, 8 Jacob PEPPER, 9 Roy O’DONOVAN, 10 Bradden INMAN, 12 Aiden O’NEILL, 13 Stefan MAUK, 15 Aaron REARDON, 20 Aaron AMADI-HOLLOWAY, 22 Jake MCGING, 23 Dylan WENZEL-HALLS, 24 Connor O’TOOLE, 25 Rahmat AKBARI, 26 Jay O’SHEA - *Two to be omitted* Unavailable: Nil - Referee Shaun Evans
MACLAREN LEADS SOCCEROOS TO VICTORY OVER NEPAL
The Socceroos attack is starting to click under coach Graham Arnold after they thrashed Nepal 5-0 in this evening's World Cup qualifier in Canberra. Australia were never challenged and dominated from start to finish against the Group B minnows as Jamie Maclaren scored his first international hat-trick.
Maclaren opened the scoring on 6 minutes by driving in the loose ball from Craig Goodwin's blocked drive. The second goal arrived when Aziz Behich's cross was headed back across goal by Ryhan Grant for Maclaren to net at point-blank range. Harry Souttar then made it three-nil by heading in from a Goodwin corner.
Souttar looked set to celebrate a brace on debut but his 59th minute effort deflected off Dinesh Rajbanshi for an own goal. Maclaren completed his hat-trick in the 90th minute after collecting the ball from Irvine's chest down inside the box. The Socceroos next face Taiwan away on Tuesday.
GLORY NOT A BIG A-LEAGUE CLUB YET: POPOVIC
Perth Glory coach Tony Popovic reckons Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory deserve to be this season's A-League title favourites, saying his team can't call themselves a "big club" just yet. Glory won last season's Premiers Plate with two games to spare in a dominant campaign and fell just short of snaring the double when they lost the Grand Final to Sydney FC on penalties.
Glory are ranked third in most betting markets, which have Sydney rated as favourites with Victory expected to be their main challenger. It's a ranking Popovic feels is fair. "They should be favourites, they're the biggest clubs in the league," Popovic said. "We're not a big club. We're striving to become a big club."
"Sydney and Melbourne have shown over the course of the journey in the A-League that they've always been successful and they've always challenged for the title. And that is why they are big clubs. For us to become a big club that takes, for me, three to five years that you can be in that category."
Glory players have spoken openly about the pain of last season's Grand Final loss and Popovic is encouraging them to use it. "All players are motivated in different ways. Them to be hurting from a Grand Final loss is a good thing," Popovic said. "We had a fantastic year and came so close. If that's a driving force for the group, great. So be it."
Glory will field a new-look defence in Sunday's home clash with Brisbane Roar following the departure of Matthew Spiranovic, Jason Davidson, Shane Lowry and Scott Neville. Popovic thinks it will take a bit of time for them to hit full stride but he still expects them to perform strongly.
WUTHRICH OUT TO DRIVE PERTH TO GLORY
Ten months ago Gregory Wuthrich helped Young Boys topple Juventus in the UEFA Champions League, now the Swiss defender wants to help Perth Glory win a maiden A-League Grand Final. Wuthrich swapped Switzerland for Western Australia last month, signing a one-year deal with Glory.
In December Wuthrich was part of the Young Boys side that upset Italian giants Juventus in the Champions League. The centre-back was a late substitute in the match, where he lined up against the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Douglas Costa and Mario Mandzukic at the Stade de Suisse.
“Oh man, that was crazy,” reflected Wuthrich, who endured an injury-interrupted 2018/19 season with Young Boys that limited him to just 18 appearances and saw him miss glamour European ties against Manchester United and Valencia.
“I was so sad that I couldn’t play the other game, because of the injury, that hurt because we also had Manchester United in the group. But yeah it was crazy to play against all the big names, a full stadium. It’s definitely something that I will remember for the rest of my life.”
Wuthrich had spent his whole career at the Bern-based club, coming through the Young Boys academy and debuting for the first-team in 2014. But now the 24-year-old is ready to sample the A-League. “I like it so far. We have a great team,” he said. “The coach is good, the coaching staff, they’re very detailed.”
“The quality of life is the same here (as in Switzerland). The beach is very nice. We have the river in Bern, which is also nice. But it’s a big experience for me. I had to travel 24 hours to get here. I’m thankful Dino (Djulbic) is here because he speaks German, that’s cool for me.”
Born in Bern, Wuthrich has been part of two title-winning campaigns with Young Boys. But the defender admits he needed a change of scenery away from home comforts, hence the move to join Glory. “I spent my whole life in Bern. I needed a change,” he explained.
“I wanted to play more regularly because I lost my starting spot because I got injured last season. I started the season as a starter and did all of the Champions League qualification and then one day before the first Champions League game I injured myself.
“Thank god I could play at least one game against Juventus, which was a great experience. This summer I wanted a new challenge and then my agent told me there was interest from Perth Glory. I checked out everything, spoke with the coach and it was very interesting for me.”
“The A-League, for me, is growing. It gets bigger every year. So I’m really happy to be here. I think it will be a great experience and I want to help the team. Unfortunately they lost the Grand Final last season, but they are a really good team and that’s why I wanted to join them.”
With experience of playing in the Champions League and Europa League, and with 11 appearances for Switzerland’s Under-20 and Under-21 national teams, Wuthrich hopes he can pass his knowledge on to his younger Glory teammates. “I won two titles with Young Boys, I’ve played a lot of games in the Europa League,” he said.
“I played until the Under-21s with the Swiss national team. I’m here to help the team because I saw that they had a really good defence here last year, many clean sheets, and I think we can have the same results this year.”
Wuthrich admits the appeal of working under coach Tony Popovic, a former Socceroos defender, provided a strong incentive to sign for the A-League club. “My agent told me first that he was a player in England and a defender,” he said.
“I watched some clips of him on YouTube and when he introduced himself to me he told me a little bit about himself. After the conversation with him I was sold. He wants to help me to improve, to get better and give me playing time. I was happy.”
CASTRO LIKES LOOK OF GLORY'S FRESH LEGS
Perth Glory captain Diego Castro believes an injection of fresh legs will help them prove the doubters wrong this A-League season. Glory were the dominant team last campaign, with the star-studded squad winning the Premiers Plate and qualifying for the Grand Final.
The exit of proven performers Jason Davidson, Matthew Spiranovic, Shane Lowry and Andy Keogh has left some wondering whether they have the talent to go one step further this time around. Spanish maestro Castro is optimistic about Glory's chances. "Maybe people doubt about what is this year or what Perth Glory looks like. I'm confident," he said.
"I'm looking to improve what we did last year. The players that have left have left a legacy. We will never forget that but I like it when you have a team with big potential. We need those fresh legs, we need that motivation. They come to training with all the motivation, which is fantastic."
Glory are rated third favourites for the title in most betting markets - behind Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory. They begin the new season at home on Sunday against a new-look Brisbane Roar coached by former Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler, who also spent the 2010/11 season wearing Glory colours.
NEVILLE EXPECTS CHEERS TO TURN TO JEERS
Months after being cheered on in the A-League Grand Final, Brisbane Roar recruit Scott Neville isn't expecting a warm welcome against Perth Glory on Sunday. Just five months ago the 30-year old was being cheered on by his hometown fans in the season finale against Sydney FC.
On Sunday Neville is expecting those cheers to turn to jeers when Brisbane kick-off the new season against his former club. "Definitely not warm, no," Neville said when asked what kind of reception he's anticipating from Glory's notoriously parochial fan area known as the Shed.
"I've left there twice now. They've got a good set of fans and I'm sure they're going to hammer me and boo me or whatnot. That's part of the banter, I'll take it on board and hopefully we can get the win and stick it back to them."
Leaving Glory for Brisbane may seem a backward step for Neville given the difference in the clubs' performances last season. The former Sorrento player said the chance to be reunited with Liverpool legend and current Brisbane coach Robbie Fowler, who played for Glory in 2010/11, was impossible to resist.
"I'd worked under Tony Popovic for a few years and he's a great manager and obviously gets the results but once Robbie called and said what he wants to do here, the plan he had in place and the plan he had for myself ... it was something I was excited about and a new challenge," Neville said.
WILSON UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR ALLEGED OFF-FIELD INCIDENT
Perth Glory midfielder Brandon Wilson is one of four Olyroos at the centre of an investigation for alleged misconduct during a tournament in Cambodia in March. The quartet could potentially face fines or even suspension from the Olympic qualifying tournament in January after being issued with a show-cause notice by Football Federation Australia.
It is understood Riley McGree (Adelaide United), Lachlan Wales, Nathaniel Atkinson (both Melbourne City) and Wilson have been asked to explain their actions after breaking a curfew imposed by coach Graham Arnold following a game against South Korea, when one player contacted a local woman via Tinder. All four players were omitted from the Olyroos’ training camp being held this week in Doha.
FORNAROLI DETERMINED TO MAKE UP FOR LOST TIME
Perth Glory recruit Bruno Fornaroli cannot wait to end his 11-month A-League exile when the new season kicks off this weekend. The Uruguayan striker hasn't been sighted in the A-League since he was frozen out by Melbourne City in November last year.
Denied a move to another A-League club in the middle of the season, Fornaroli has been a frustrated spectator ever since despite signing with the Glory in March. "One of my worst years in my career in terms of the way I leave Melbourne City," he said.
"I'm very grateful to the club and everyone knows this so it's tough to leave ... when I think I do very well for them. In that way it's not good for anyone. Now it's finished, now I'm looking forward. That's why now I can't wait to start ... I think we have a great team to fight for the title this year."
Fornaroli's move west is a massive coup for Tony Popovic's team. The 32-year old won the 2015/16 Golden Boot and has 46 goals in 70 A-League appearances. As Glory aim to go one better following their Grand Final loss last season, a fired-up Fornaroli says he couldn't be happier with his new club.
"I spoke with some players like Diego (Castro) before going; Popovic gave me big confidence to go with Glory and follow them," Fornaroli said. "Now I'm ready to play and give back to them the confidence they've given to me."
GLORY HAVE HAD A TASTE FOR MORE DECLARES POPOVIC
Perth Glory are about to embark on the biggest season in their history in a quest for silverware that will take them beyond the A-League and into the AFC Champions League. Last season’s success has brought expectation like never before as the Glory prepare to kick off a new domestic campaign against Brisbane Roar next weekend.
Coach Tony Popovic is confident his side can go one step further after the heartbreak of the grand final penalty shoot-out loss to Sydney FC. He will need to call on all of his experience to take Glory deep into the Champions League, but says they are hungry for more success. “I see their desire. They’ve had a taste and they want more,” Popovic said.
“Players have come back with a renewed attitude, to want to win more. It’s written all over their faces. It’s in their body language. Words are not required from me. I see their actions on the field and that tells me how determined they are. We did something last year that had never been done before. Our greatest challenge is to repeat that success again.”
The off-season has seen a squad transformation, with Brendon Santalab, Fabio Ferreira, Jacob Italiano, Jason Davidson, Scott Neville, Andy Keogh and Shane Lowry gone. But Popovic has recruited without fuss by bringing in experienced trio Bruno Fornaroli, James Meredith and Osama Malik and youngersters Nick D’Agostino, Jacob Tratt, Dane Ingham and Gregory Wuthrich.
Not all the new arrivals are household names, but Popovic has a knack of extracting the best from players who have not had success at other clubs. Recruitment has not been as settled as last year when Popovic had almost his whole squad together by July. Final additions have only arrived in the past two weeks.
“We’ve lost some very good players and we’ve brought in a lot of new players, especially in the back line,” Popovic said. “Last year we were fortunate that the players we wanted were available early. This time we have had to be patient and not just take a player for the sake of getting the numbers up.”
“New players have come in at different stages, at different fitness levels, from different backgrounds. We are excited by the quality, but it will take time for some of them to adapt. We will be good for round one. We know throughout the year we will get better. We want to win the championship.”
LYDEN ENCOURAGED BY SQUAD'S QUALITIES
Jordan Lyden says the fresh vantage point at which he has been able to watch Swindon Town in recent weeks has left him in little doubt that over the quality they have at their disposal. The midfielder has missed Town’s last four League Two fixtures since limping off in their win over Leyton Orient on 7 September with a thight injury.
Lyden, 23, has since returned to full training this week and is expected to be back involved in the matchday squad for today’s trip to Bradford City. He concedes taking in the game from the stands rather than competing on the pitch is not a situation he is comfortable with. However, it has allowed him to be take in a full view of the credentials of Richie Wellens’ side – and it has left him mightily impressed.
“I feel good. I had a little setback against Leyton Orient, which was obviously disappointing as I felt like I started the season quite well, but I am back training, so I am raring to go for Saturday,” said Lyden. “Since I have been doing my rehab, I am generally in six days a week.”
I worked hard in the gym just to get that base strength and hopefully I can maintain that now I am back playing games. I struggle watching as I feel I can benefit and help the team. The most frustrating thing about football is not playing.”
“When you are injured, you can’t do anything about it. At least when you are not getting picked, you can do something about it on the training pitch to hope to get in the team. League Two football is about adapting to different styles of play.”
“We came up against a tough team last Saturday against Newport. I don’t feel that they played much football, but the physicality of some of their boys was a difficult test for some of our lads. There are one against ones all over the pitch, so you have to beat your opponent first and then see if you can help your team-mates out.”
“With the technical ability we have, I think we are good enough to play around those sorts of teams. If we move the ball quickly and take one or two touches, that’s how you break those teams down. With the technical ability we have in the squad, we are more than capable of doing that.”
Lyden’s time away from the pitch has granted him the chance to take in other aspects of the club. The former Aston Villa player arrived at the Energy Check County Ground over the summer and has praised the collective effort from everyone involved at Town both on and off the pitch and in the stands too.
“It is not just the eleven starters you see, it is the backroom staff, the kitmen, the physios, the sports science people. There are more people in football than just the players,” said Lyden. “Since I have come in, I have noticed this club is very family-orientated and very together.”
“That’s what you need at a club moving towards promotion. The fans have made me feel so welcome. That’s all I could ask for. You see the turnout we get at home games – 7,000-plus is very high for League Two. Even the away support has travelled in numbers, so that is a positive thing when we walk out and see that.”
SWAN UNITED PROMOTED TO DIVISION ONE
Swan United will play State League Division One football in 2020 after they completed a comfortable 5-1 aggregate win against Murdoch University Melville in the Inter Divisional Play Off Final last week. It all started at the Murdoch Synthetic Sports Ground on Wednesday evening with United grabbing a 2-1 win. Brian Patterson pounced in the opening minute, before doubling the Black and Whites advantage on the half hour. Mark Lucas pulled one back for Gavin Brown’s side but it’s Paul Dundo’s side who headed into the second leg with the advantage. “It was a very hard-fought win, in a game where they dominated possession but we kept our shape well and made it hard for them to break us down,” Swan keeper Joey Smith said. “They scored from a penalty which could have gone either way but we dug in deep and got the away win, but we know Saturday will be an even tougher challenge for us, but one we are looking forward too.”
The visitors made the perfect start in the this one and were ahead after only sixty seconds. Jay Lang sent a great through ball behind the MUM back four to John Monterosso, who eased past his marker and cut the ball back to Patterson who finished clinically via the post. It got better for the visitors on 28 minutes when they double their advantage. Some high pressure caused a rushed clearance and the ball fell at the feet of Patterson 40-yards from goal, and he saw MUM keeper Alec Radonich off his line and his perfect first-time lob saw the ball land in the net much to the delight of the travelling supporters.
But MUM hit back six minutes later, when referee Brendan skinner spotted a foul by Swan defender Chris Marshall and pointed straight to the spot. It looked a little harsh with both players going for the ball but Lucas finished calmly from the resulting penalty to make it 2-1 to Swan at the break. The home side pressed after half time and created a number of chances but they failed to convert, while Swan looked dangerous on the counter attack, but there were no more goals so it’s off to Francis Street on Saturday for the second leg with it all to play for. “I thought it was a real gritty win for us, but it’s only half time, we know that,” Swan striker John Monterosso said. “We knew we wouldn’t have much of the ball but we made our chances count and defended well to get a good result.”
Teams for first leg:
Murdoch University Melville: GK Alec RADONICH, 2 Beau RAHIM, 3 Tom PELLIZZARI, 5 Ryan TUCKER, 6 Broden BROWN, 7 Adrian CIAMPINI, 8 Mark LUCAS (14 Christian LONG 73’), 9 Kai JONES (19 Josip VUJICA 56’), 10 Sasa SLAVUJEVIC (13 Grant MOWATT 33’), 11 Declan TANNA, 12 Callum MELLOWSHIP—Subs not used: RGK Joseph GAN, 15 Godfrey ASIMWE
Swan United: GK Joey SMITH, 4 Luke COLLI (9 David FOSTER 66’), 5 Chris MARSHALL, 6 Liam MERIGAN, 7 Alan PATAROV (2 Marco TRIMBOLI 86’), 8 Aaron COLLI, 10 Brian PATTERSON, 11 John MONTEROSSO, 12 Lucas ALLENDER, 16 Jay LANG, 14 Brennan BORZECKI - Subs not used: 17 Thomas BLACK, 18 David PAONE - Referee: Brendan Skinner
The hosts were on the front foot early in the second leg and Paul Dundo’s side got off to the perfect start when David Foster and John Monterosso combined to punish some poor Murdoch defending inside five minutes. A long clearance from Joey Smith found Foster, and the former Derby County trainee slipped the ball neatly to Monterosso who finished clinically into the bottom corner. Murdoch, who had fought back from a similar deficit in the Semi-Final against Gosnells, went in search of a goal to get them back into the game, but Swan custodian Joey Smith produced a couple of smart saves to deny Declan Tanna and Adrian Ciampini.
But at the other end, Monterosso showed them how to do it when he doubled the Black and Whites lead on the half hour. Foster and Liam Merigan combined well to put the striker through on goal and he made no mistake with another cool finish. MUM needed a good start to the second half to get back in the game but found the home sides back line resolute, with skipper Aaron Colli and Chris Marshall solid, they struggled to create any clear-cut chances.
With the tie slipping away coach Gavin Brown throw caution to the wind and sent players forward. But a similar recovery to the one against Gosnells never materialised, and Swan were danger on the counter-attack and it wasn’t a surprise when they added a third five minutes from time. It was Man of the Match Foster that pounced on some poor MUM defending, and scored from the angle despite Anthony Lomma’s attempted clearance on the line to seal a 5-1 aggregate win.
At the final whistle there were wild celebration on and off the park as the once Premier League club Swan United were promoted to Division One. "We’re all very happy with the promotion win, we scored some early goals in both games which put us in control of the game," Foster said. "The players and the coaching staff worked tirelessly throughout the season and never gave up, I'm very happy for the club."
Teams for the Second Leg
Swan United: GK Joey SMITH, 5 Chris MARSHALL, 6 Liam MERIGAN, 7 Alan PATAROV, 8 Aaron COLLI, 9 David FOSTER, 10 Brian PATTERSON, 11 John MONTEROSSO, 12 Lucas ALLENDER, 16 Jay LANG, 14. Brennan BORZECKI - Substitutes: RGK Connor ANDERSON, 2 Marco TRIMBOLI 4 Luke COLLI, 17 Thomas BLACK, 18 David PAONE
Murdoch University Melville: GK Alec RADONICH, 2 Beau RAHIM, 3 Tom PELLIZZARI, 5 Ryan TUCKER, 6 Broden BROWN, 7 Adrian CIAMPINI, 8 Mark LUCAS, 10 Godfrey ASIMWE 11 Declan TANNA, 12 Callum MELLOWSHIP, 19 Josip VUJICA – Substitutes: RGK Joseph GAN, 8 Samuel COOK, 9 Christian LONG, 14 Anthony LOMMA, 15 Simon EL CHAMI – Referee: Arvin Shan
TAGGART NAMED ON SOCCEROOS
Striker Adam Taggart is the solitary West Australian in a strong Socceroos squad as the national team seek to build towards qualification for the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Coach Graham Arnold’s squad will convene in Canberra next week ahead of games with Nepal (10 October) and Chinese Taipei (15 October).
“Our group did very well in their first qualifier away from home, so I am pleased to be able maintain significant consistency within the squad as we seek to build upon our strong start to qualifying for Qatar,” Arnold said. “(West Australian) Trent (Sainsbury) is managing a minor injury but remains on standby for the squad should we need to call him in.”
The Australia squad to play Nepal (10 October) and Chinese Taipei (15 October) is Mustafa Amini (AGF Aarhus), Aziz Behich (Istanbul Basaksehir), Brandon Borrello (SC Freiburg), Milos Degenek (Red Star Belgrade), Apostolos Giannou (AEK Larnaca), Craig Goodwin (Al-Wehda), Rhyan Grant, Andrew Redmayne (Sydney FC), Ajdin Hrustic (FC Groningen), Jackson Irvine (Hull City), James Jeggo (Austria Wien), Mitchell Langerak (Nagoya Grampus), Mathew Leckie (Hertha BSC), Massimo Luongo (Sheffield Wednesday), Awer Mabil (FC Midtylland), Jamie Maclaren (Melbourne City), Mark Milligan (Southend United), Aaron Mooy, Mathew Ryan (Brighton and Hove Albion), Brad Smith (Seattle Sounders), Harry Souttar (Fleetwood Town), Adam Taggart (Suwon Bluewings) and Bailey Wright (Bristol City).
WILLIAMS CALLS TIME ON INTERNATIONAL CAREER
Fringe Socceroo Rhys Williams has retired from international football. The Saudi Arabia-based defender was called up to the Socceroos squad as recently as last June, but remained an unused substitute for the friendly away to South Korea.
Coach Graham Arnold has since preferred Olyroos duo Harry Souttar and Thomas Deng, who was a late call up for injured Mark Milligan in the last camp. 31-year old Williams is believed to have been on standby for every Socceroos squad since Arnold has taken charge.
Williams has defied the odds to overcome two torn achilles’ which threatened to end his promising career. The former ECU Joondalup junior worked tirelessly to recover and get himself back into Socceroos contention, in a bid to fulfil his childhood dream of playing in a World Cup.
However, Williams did not make a 50-man shortlist for the 2018 World Cup under Bert van Marwijk. Sources close to the defender have indicated that missing the 2018 cut and the string of setbacks en route to trying to win back his Socceroos spot have taken an emotional toll on him.
“Australia was deprived of the opportunity in seeing the full value of Rhys Williams due to significant injuries at the prime of his career,” Williams’ agent Tony Rallis said. “One of the most talented players of the back end of the golden era he could have had a significant Socceroos career.”
WARLAND RETURNS FOR MORE GLORY
Perth Glory is delighted to confirm Riley Warland has signed a two-year scholarship contract with the club. The 17-year old returns for a second spell at the club following a stint with English Premier League side Fulham.
Warland took plenty of positives from his twelve months at Fulham. “It was a dream come true for me to go over to England,” he said, “and obviously the dream is not over just yet.”
“But I think maybe I was just a bit too young. Family is such a massive thing for me and moving away from home and family at such a young age is a tough thing to wrap your head around.”
“I think I gave it a good go, but it was great to get the opportunity to come back to my hometown club for a couple of years and it’s going to be another fantastic experience for me.”
Warland is particularly looking forward to working under coach Tony Popovic. “He’s a great coach and being a central defender myself, it’s fantastic being able to learn from one of the best,” he said. “It’s going to be a great experience for me.”
Warland played juniors at Quinns and ECU Joondalup before entering the Glory Academy at the age of 10. He progressed up through the clubs ranks, playing in the National Youth League and National Premier Leagues while representing the State.
VETERAN DJULBIC RE-SIGNS WITH GLORY
Veteran defender Dino Djulbic has made an astonishing recovery from an injury that almost ended his career to re-sign with Perth Glory for another season. The 36-year old tore an anterior cruciate ligament early in the second half of last season’s heartbreaking Grand Final loss.
Glory gave Djulbic until the end of the year to prove his fitness when he opted out of surgery but recovery has been quicker than expected and the key figure in last season’s maiden Premiership is ready to go. Talking about the injury for the first time Djulbic said he had no idea how serious the problem was when he felt the pain.
"I knew I had done something because of the discomfort I had in my knee,” Djulbic said. “But with all the adrenaline and being the first club’s Grand Final there was no way I was going off. When I found out what it was I was pretty disappointed, everything was up in the air, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to play again.”
He was offered surgery but chose to take the hard work option. “We discussed it with the club and the medical staff and decided to give it a go without surgery,” he said. “If I had had surgery I would have been out for a longer period, probably 12 months. I knew there was going to be lot of work to do. If I was younger I probably would have rushed into surgery.”
“I’ve worked really hard. From day one I was straight in the gym. Some people thought it was impossible but when people tell me I can’t do something, I say ‘I can’. I love a challenge. That’s what drives me. I had the full support of the club and the boss (coach Tony Popovic) was unbelievable.”
“He thinks I’ve got something I can contribute to the team and the club and I feel good. I thought I had a pretty decent season last year and I don’t want to give that up. It excites me. There was a lot of success last season but there’s that little thing that happened right at the end and I think we can achieve that this year. That’s a big driving factor.”
Djulbic, a former Perth SC junior, has made 112 appearances for Glory across three spells following his debut in 2007. Since then he has also turned out for Rot Weiss Ahlen (Germany), Gold Coast United Guizhou Renhe (China), Al-Wahda (United Arab Emirates), Felda United (Malaysia) and Melbourne Victory, along with two Socceroos outings.
“It means a lot to re-sign for another season. We’ve got our first Asian Champions League campaign, which is a massive achievement for the club,” he said. “To win the premiership last season was huge. With the boss here I know we can achieve more success and that’s why I wanted to continue to be a part of this club.”
STAJCIC PHILOSOPHY BRINGING THE BEST OUT OF DE SILVA
Daniel De Silva has hailed the influence of coach Alen Stajcic as Central Coast Mariners close in on their first FFA Cup Final. After a few lean years in the A-League, Central Coast are on the cusp of reaching the Cup decider when they host Adelaide United in Wednesday's semi-final.
De Silva is likely to play a key role for the Gosford club and has started all three previous matches of their Cup run. Having spent last season on loan at A-League champions Sydney FC, the 22-year old returned to his parent club and has thrived working under Stajcic.
“He (Stajcic) has come in with a lot of new faces and a new philosophy and everything, it’s been awesome and obviously the results are telling,” De Silva said. “I’m looking forward to continuing to work hard during pre-season and hit the season running. I think you’ll see an attacking style of play from us this season.”
“Staj loves to play combinations, and that’s something I think we’ve shown so far. We’ll continue to work on that and get better at that, but hopefully it’s an entertaining style of football and a style that will help us to win games.”
Asked about the challenge of facing the Reds, who are aiming to qualify for a fourth FFA Cup final, De Silva said: “They’ve made some good signings and lost a good player in (Craig) Goodwin but I think for us we’ll just focus on ourselves and preparing for the game as best as we can.”
“We have a style of play, we’re adaptable and we’ll have a look at them in the coming days and prepare for the game as best as we can tactically. It’s a good squad this year with plenty of depth and I think it’ll be a great match and we’re looking forward to it.”
“We’re very excited to be staying at home and playing in front of the fans. Hopefully we get a really great turnout, it will be great to see all the fans there, and we really can’t wait to play our first game of the season at home and we’re all hoping to get the job done in front of them.”
BIRIGHITTI STILL HAS PLENTY TO OFFER
Central Coast Mariner Mark Birighitti knows he still has time to be the best Australian goalkeeper after he was lauded as the greatest teen prodigy at Adelaide United. Now 28, and with him and his partner Carly expecting their first child - a boy - in January, Birighitti believes he hasn’t peaked as a gloveman.
Birighitti cites the Mediterranean football culture, where mature-aged ‘keepers are constantly making their marks, as one that gives him hope that his career is yet to flourish. “It’s been a great journey experiencing football in different parts of the world - Italy, England and in Holland and now it brings me back with Central Coast,’’ Birighitti said. “Life is good - I’m back playing and enjoying what I’m doing.”
Birighitti isn’t bitter about his awkward stint at Melbourne City last season in which his former Adelaide United mentor Eugene Galekovic played every A-League game. Now the former Adelaide United keepers will face off in different roles in a curious FFA Cup semi-final. Birighitti aims to keep the Reds out as the Mariners seek their first knockout final at Central Coast Stadium on Wednesday night.
Capped by the Socceroos once in 2013 against China, Birighitti was mentored by Galekovic at Adelaide. After a five-year apprenticeship as Galekovic’s understudy, he played for Newcastle Jets and had a stint in arguably the toughest second division on the planet for Varese in Italy’s Serie B. He signed for then English Premier League club Swansea City before moving to the Netherlands’ NAC Breda.
Birighitti is now looking forward help prove that Central Coast are the most improved A-League outfit since the arrival of Alen Stajcic. “We can create history in Gosford,’’ Birighitti said. “Staj (Stajcic) is just a great coach, from the moment I’ve arrived he has given me that confidence and he is a very intelligent coach. We have analysed Adelaide, their weaknesses and their strengths and we’re putting it all into practice.”
KINGSLEY AT THE DOUBLE
Kingsley have completed a league and cup double after beating Carramar 6-2 in a pulsating Belt-Up Amateur Cup Final at Macedonia Park on Sunday evening. It was a blistering start to the game with Jamie Gibson and Joel Gibson scoring doubles for their respect teams early, before Simone Sichel and Josh Waldock gave Kingsway the lead at the break. Steven Dimitrovich’s side went on with it after the break with Sean Johnson and Baily Salmon added two more after the break to seal the win, and add the cup to their Premier Division title.
“They made it hard for us early, and we had spoken about their physicality before the game and we needed to be on our game early, but we gave away two soft goals,” Dimitrovich said. “But once we got the game on our terms we dominated and went on with it which is pleasing. We have worked on our set-pieces all season and it showed tonight, we scored some good goals and we’re delighted to have secured the double for the club and we look forward to next season in the State League.”
There was a big crowd on hand for this one, and it burst into life early when Carramar took the lead after only seven minutes. Josh Justice was brought down in the penalty area by Jesse Higgins and referee Walter Ciotti pointed straight to the spot. Gibson stepped up and sent Ryan Moss the wrong way from the spot to give Carramar the lead. But Kingsley were level four minutes later, Gillespie’s in-swinging corner wasn’t dealt with and it went straight in off the back post. But sixty seconds later Carramar hit back to regain the lead. A poor back pass sent Gibson clear and he raced into goal, rounded Moss and finished into an empty net much to the delight of the Carramar faithful.
What a start to the game and the excitement wasn’t over there and on 21 minutes a superb through ball from Jayden Drummond sent Waldock clear, but he was brought down on the edge of the box by Carramar keeper Matt Evans, who was lucky not to see red. But from the resulting free kick Gillespie curled the ball up and over the wall into the corner of the net to restore parity again for Kingsley. Kingsley were now on top and Gillespie had a perfect opportunity to give them the lead and complete his trick on the half hour.
He was sent clear by a long clearance from Moss, but his shot on the run flashed inches wide of the target. But that miss was forgotten two minutes later when Kingsley hit the front for the first time. Gillespie’s corner found the unmarked Sichel at the back post to head home. It was 4-2 on the stroke of half time. Sichel turned provider this time his long ball sent Waldock in on goal and there was some hesitation at the back and he raced clear and finished low past Evans.
The second half was a little more subdued, Sichel firing wide for Kingsley early, before Carramar half time substitute Baily Seppings shot was saved low by Moss. But Carramar hopes took a blow on 74 minutes when they were reduced to ten men when Lee Blackwell received a second yellow card and was sent off. Kingsley continued to press and their supporters were in full voice again eight minutes from time, when Lee Thomas’ free kick picked out substitute Sean Johnson who headed home to make it 5-2.
Carramar had a chance to get a consolation goal in the first minute of stoppage time when Moss brought down Gibson in the box and they were awarded another penalty, but Gibson stepped up and fired his spot kick over the top. Kingsley put the icing on the cake two minutes later, a great cross field pass found Salmon, and he raced into the penalty area and finished low past Evans to seal a comprehensive victory.
Kingsley: GK Ryan MOSS, 2 Simone SICHEL (9 Sean JOHNSON 77), 3 Bailey SALMON, 4 Aaron LICKISS, 7 Lewis FLATT, 8 Joel GILLESPIE, 10 Jayden DRUMMOND, 12 Josh WALDOCK (11 Ryan BROWN 70), 13 Lee THOMAS, 15 Ryan CARR (5 Adam O’NIELL 55), 16 Jesse HIGGINS - Subs not used: RGK Rob ANDREWS, 6 Luke COLTMAN
Carramar: GK Matt EVANS, 2 William DALZELL, 3 Matt CLEMANS, 5 Matt THOMAS (11 Baily SEPPINGS 46), 6 Lee BLACKWELL, 7 Wayne GUEST, 8 Kerion HARRISON, 9 Jamie GIBSON, 10 Harley CURRAN, 12 James MCKNIGHT (81), 14 Gary JAMES, 13 Josh JUSTICE (17 Lucas REID 70) - Subs not used: 4 Phil SIMMONS, 41 James MACE - Red Cards: Blackwell 74 - Referee: Walter Ciotti
NORTH BEACH SPOT ON
North Beach Soccer Club have completed a successful season by winning the 2019 Belt-Up Amateur Reserves Cup Final after a 6-5 penalty shoot-out victory against Wembley Downs at Macedonia Park on Sunday afternoon. North Beach, who also won the Belt-Up Amateur Division Two title, had fought out a tough 0-0 draw against their Premier Division opponents in normal time, but keeper Jackson Hughes was the hero in the shoot-out saving the final penalty to seal the win.
North Beach coach Mick Frost was a happy man after the final whistle and paid credit to his players. “It was a great result for us today, and we’ve got a great bunch of young lads, who have worked really hard this year, so full credit to them, I’m really proud of them,” he said. “They (Wembley) came at us late, but we stuck to the game plan and got the result and it’s the icing on the cake after winning the league.”
Both sides had early chances in this one. First North Beach’s Callum Parker’s long-range shot was saved at the second attempt by Tom Livingstone, before Diarmaid Ryng’s shot whistled over the top at the other end. Wembley went close again on the quarter hour, Gary McCarthy raced down the right and cut inside the penalty area, his shot was turned towards goal by North Beach defender Finn McMahon, but Hughes reacted well to make a vital save.
It was a real arm wrestle and the hot weather was taking its toll on the players, but Jason Doherty was leading the line well for North Beach, while James Mackie was doing likewise for Wembley, but at the break it was scoreless. It was Wembley out of the blocks early after the break and after some neat build up play Ryng’s shot from the edge of the penalty area was well saved by Hughes.
Wembley were well on top and created a number of chances. First McCarthy’s cross was headed wide by Ryng, before Nicholas Riveros’ long-range shot flashed wide of the target. Then in stoppage time Wembley almost won it. A long clearance was flicked on by Dave Mohan and Darragh Wright was in on goal, but his shot flew inches wide of the target, so we were off to penalties. All penalties were successful scored and we went into sudden death, and Alec Etheridge scored North Perth’s sixth, but Hughes managed to save Nick Richards’ spot kick to win the cup for North Beach.
North Beach SC: GK Jackson HUGHES, 14 Jason DOHERTY, 15 Kane GRAVES, 17 Darrell GIBNEY, 19 James PAYNTER, 20 Alec ETHERIDGE, 21 Marko VIDOVIC, 22 Ali WESTWOOD, 23 Jordan FUTTER, 24 Dennis PERRIE, 25 Arron ROBERTS, 26 Tom VINCENT, 27 Callum PARKER, 28 Finn MCMAHON, 29 Billy SIMMONDS, 31 Ben SMITH
Wembley Downs: GK Tom LIVINGSTONE, 8 Gary MCCARTHY, 9 Zack KILLORAN, 12 Dylan MOORE, 14 James BOWLAND, 16 Karl FISHER, 17 Nicholas RIVEROS, 28 Darragh WRIGHT, 30 Danny D’AVOINE, 34 Dave MOHAN, 35 Daragh LINDSAY, 40 Anton MITTRA, 46 Diarmaid RYNG, 48 James MACKIE, 51 Nick RICHARDS, 99 Ben NOBLE - Referee: Stewart Beatie
PERTH BOW OUT OF NPL FINAL SERIES
Perth Soccer Club’s NPL Finals Series run has come to an end after a 0-2 defeat against NPLNSW side Wollongong Wolves in the Semi-Final at Albert Butler Park on Sunday afternoon. A first half striker from Wolves top goalscorer Thomas James gave the hosts the lead at the break, and with the Azzurri pressing late for the equaliser Tekeru Okada added a second to book their place in next weeks Grand Final against NPL Queensland side Lions FC.
Ramon Falzon’s side were on the front foot early and Andres Theodosiades sent Matthew Milenkovic in on goal, but his shot was saved low by former Central Coast Mariners keeper Justin Pasfield. But it was Wollongong who hit the front on 29 minutes. A long ball sent James in on goal, the English striker’s initial shot was well saved by Francis Soale, the Wollongong top goalscorer fired home the rebound.
Perth were struggling to break down a tight Wollongong back four with Nikola Djorjevic and Nicholas Littler outstanding, while Luke Wilkshire’s side created the better chances. But Perth throw caution to the wind and second half substitute Michael Domfeh header was blocked with fifteen minutes remaining. But that was as close as they got and in the fourth minute of stoppage time Wollongong added the vital second. James picking out Japanese striker Okada, who finished low past Soale from a tight angle. making no mistake from a tight angle.
Perth, who beat Victorian Premiers Heidelberg United last week, battled hard all game, but the NPL WA is still waiting to boast a national champion, with Bayswater City the state’s sole finalists in 2015. Wollongong, who are playing in the NPL Finals Series for the first time, will host 2018 runners-up Lions FC in the Grand Final after the Queenslanders beat Maitland 2-0 on Saturday.
NPL Finals - Semi-final
Wollongong Wolves 2 (James 29’, Okada 94’) Perth SC 0
Sunday 29 September 2019 @ Albert Butler Park
Referee: Michael Mammis - Assistant referees: Aleksander Liber, Max Hanlon
Wollongong Wolves: GK Justin PASFIELD, 2 Taylor MCDONALD, 4 Nikola DJORJEVIC, 7 Chris PRICE, 9 Thomas JAMES, 11 Takeru OKADA, 14 Harry CALLAHAN (Darcy MADDEN 69’), 15 Nicholas LITTLER, 17 James STOJCEVSKI (10 Brendan GRIFFIN 83’), 24 Lachlan SCOTT (13 Stefan DIMOSKI 76’) - Subs not used: 6 LIAM WILLE, 12 LUKE KAIRIES - Yellow Cards: Madden 84’
Perth SC: GK: Francis SOALE, 2. Alex SILLA, 3. Andreas THEODOSIADES (9 Gustavo CATARCIONE 61’), 6 Harley ORR, 18. Michael DOMFEH, 11. Matt MILENKOVIC (17 Frank FURFARO 70’), 12. Jordan DE LEO, 14. Kristian SANTICH, 16. Kieran COLWELL, 19. Bojan RADINOVIC, 20 Paul ZIMARINO - Subs not used: RGK Dejan ALEKSIC, 4 Tom SOUTHGATE, 7 Aleks JOVIC - Yellow cards: Radinovic 83’
BELT-UP CUP DAY WRAP
It was a busy day at Macedonia Park and it all started at 9.00am when Fremantle City came from behind to beat Joondalup City 3-2 in the Belt Up Metro Cup Final. It was Joondalup who opened the scoring on seven minutes, when Stephen Connolly cross picked out Roshann Frederic, who headed home. But Fremantle hit back and levelled on 18 minutes Joe Williams scrambling the ball over the line. That goal lifted the port side and they hit the front five minutes later. Williams was played in on goal and his first effort was saved by Rory Lister, but he was quickest to the rebound to score. They added a third six minutes before half time, Riley Burns raced down the flank and cut inside the box and finished well to send them to the beak with a handy lead. Joondalup hit the woodwork early in the second half, Frederic shot smacked the post and back into the grateful arms of Fremantle keeper Oisin Blaney. But on 50 minutes Fremantle did reduce the margin, Frederic’s free kick giving them hope. They should have levelled on 70 minutes, but Gavin Brady fluffed his lines, before Craig Highet header was well saved low by Blaney. The win for Fremantle sees them complete a league and cup double.
In the Belt-Up Masters Cup Final at 11.15am Hillary’s have beaten Kingsley 3-2 in an entertaining game. Hillarys were ahead on 35 minutes with Anthony Jones on target, and Jones went close to a second moments later, but his effort smacked the crossbar. Hillary’s doubled their lead on 70 minutes, Jonathan Byrne lobbing keeper Kevan Towers. It looked game over when Hillary’s add a third seven minutes later, Dean Hall finishing well past Towers. But Kingsley weren’t finished and seven minutes from time they pulled one back, Allan Brady slotting home a penalty after Robbie Fanning was pushed in the box. They added another two minutes from time, Luke Dove raced clear and finished clinically past Lawrence Walsh, but they couldn’t find another and it was Hillary’s lifting the trophy.
Then it was the Over-45’s Cup Final at 1.30pm and Joondalup United proved too strong for Bayswater City 6-5 on penalties after the game ended 1-1 in normal time. Bayswater dominated early and Kouresh Norooz scuffed his shot at the last minute, before Joondalup keeper Darren Loosely produced a great smoother to deny Paul Lincoln moments later. But Joondalup went close themselves when Alan Croft picked out Danny Middleton, who shot crashed off the crossbar and away to safety. But in the shadows of half time it was Bayswater who hit the front. Norooz played a great through ball to Vas Kalogeracos and the former Perth Glory striker made no mistake. After the break Bayswater were well on top and Richie Casey saw a shot flash wide before Trim Morgan forced a couple of good saves from Joondalup custodian Loosely. But Joondalup were still in the game and Chris Holmes’ effort was cleared off the line by Michael Casey. But from the resulting corner Joondalup found the equaliser, a powerful header from Ray Clarke sent the game to penalties. Holmes couldn’t get Joondalup off to a good start in the shootout as his effort was saved first up but Looseley saved from Richie Casey to level it up. Karl Merrie and Nicky Dyer both hit the woodwork for their respective teams from their successive penalties before Norooz had his effort saved, leaving Joondalup to lift the trophy.
SOCCEROO MEREDITH SIGNS FOR GLORY
Experienced defender James Meredith has joined Perth Glory on a one-year deal. The 31-year old moves to the A-League fresh from 85 appearances for English Championship side Millwall between 2017 and 2019, during which time he was a member of the Socceroos World Cup squad in Russia.
"(Tony Popovic) sold it to me," Meredith said. "I really liked the way he talked about his plans for the future of the club and when I looked at the squad list, I know it's a strong group of players. We're looking to become Champions. The club did so well to finish top last season, so we'll be aiming for that again and I can't wait to be a part of that campaign."
Melbourne-born Meredith was just 16 when he headed abroad to enter the youth system at English club Derby County. Spells with Sligo Rovers, Shrewsbury Town and AFC Telford United lead to a move to York City, where he played in excess of 150 games across three seasons. A switch to Bradford City brought similar rewards with over 220 games during a five-season stay
Glory's defensive stocks have been hit hard since their Grand Final loss to Sydney FC. Jason Davidson and Scott Neville departed, there's still no word on out-of-contract centre back Matthew Spiranovic while Dino Djulbic is out with an anterior cruciate ligament injury. They have signed Swiss defender Gregory Wuthrich and Osama Malik during the off-season.
Football Director Jacob Burns labelled Meredith's signing as a major coup and said the club had fought off stiff competition from a host of Australian and overseas clubs to secure his services. “This move speaks volumes,” he said. “The fact we’re attracting players of Meredith’s calibre is a testament to our growth as a club.
“With international experience to his name and having spent over a decade in the UK, we’ve signed a player of great pedigree at a prime time in his career. This shows the endeavour of the club to build sustained success on the back of our Premiership-winning campaign. James is another high-quality signing ahead of a big season for us domestically and in the Asian Champions League.”
NPL NATIONAL PLAY OFFS - SEMI-FINAL PREVIEW
Perth Soccer Club will once again represent WA football on Sunday when they travel to Albert Butler Memorial Park to take on NPLNSW Premiers Wollongong Wolves in the Semi-Final of the NPL National Finals Series. (12.30pm WA time) Ramon Falzon’s side showed great determination and character to beat Heidelberg United in last week’s elimination final and midfielder Harley Orr said after everyone wrote them off going into the game they put in a gutsy performance. “Yes, you’re right pretty much nobody thought we would be able to go over to Melbourne and get a result, but that didn’t bother us though because we knew ourselves that we could come over and not just compete but come away with the win,” he explained. “It was a fantastic win for our club, and we started off the game fantastic and continued that throughout the whole game, it was a extremely good performance from us.”
The Azzurri have been the standout in the NPLWA this season, winning the title by 11 points, but they had a fight on their hands in the Top Four Cup, but once again they produced a character filled performance to beat Inglewood United in the final, and Orr said the youngsters that have come into the squad this season stood up at vital times during the season. “The top Four Grand Final was a terrific win for us considering we had to play 120 minutes on the previous Tuesday. There was a lot up for grabs for us as in going for the back to back double, but we started off the game really slowly and were under the pump and conceded from a corner which isn’t like us,” the midfielder explained.
“I think the mid-week game took its toll on us, but we got a good rev up at the half time break and that really got us going and we didn’t look back and dominated the second half and came away with a great win. Our squad depth was one of our main contributing factors to our success this year. We had a lot of injuries to some of the more senior players including myself, but we knew whoever walked out on the pitch as a starter or whoever came off the bench would do their job to a high level and that definitely showed, which is a huge plus going forward.”
Orr said Sunday is another challenge for the group but he said they go into the game confident they can get the right result. “Yes, it’s very exciting for us to get the chance to travel again, and take on one of the best NPL sides in the Country,” he said. “They (Wollongong) have had a great season, just like us, and won there league quite convincingly, so we know it will be a really good contest. We done our homework on them, and both Ramon and Marc and have done their research and have given us all the information to give us the best opportunity to come away with another win, were really looking forward to it.”
Wollongong Wolves are best remembered as the team that came from 0-3 down to beat Perth Glory in the NSL Grand Final in 2000, but they have had another fantastic season under former Socceroos defender Luke Wilkshire and midfielder Guy Knight said 2019 has been a great season for all involved at the club. “It was a very successful season for us, and to be the best team all year in any competition in any sport should be the ultimate goal, that was one we achieved,” he explained. “It was very much a great reward for a lot of hard work put in by everyone involved within the club. In saying that it was disappointing to bow out of the NPLNSW finals series the way we did, but that has only further fueled our drive to win the NPL finals.”
Knight started playing for the Wolves as a 13-year-old, before seven seasons at Bulli FC, but he re-joined Wollongong this season and he said both clubs were fantastic. “I don't have the most exciting background in football,” he joked. “I have always remained local and have played majority of my life with the two clubs I can't speak highly enough of of them. I played with the Wolves from under 13’s through to under 20’s before I moved to Bulli football club where I played seven seasons before returning to the wolves for season 2019, and to finish the season with the title was a great feeling.
“Like I said it was disappointing to go out in the Semi-Finals of the NSW Finals series, but we bounced back last week against Canberra Olympic, and it was good to get back to winning ways, I hate losing. But Canberra were no push over and had quite a few quality players, but once we started to play to our ability the quality within our squad shone through and in the end as the score line reads it was quite a convincing win.”
The midfielder said Sunday should be a great game, and he said Luke and the players are ready for it. “Sunday should be tight affair and no doubt Luke will have us ready for a big game,” he said. “Perth proved they are going to be a real test for us in defeating Heidelberg last week and we will need to improve on last week’s performance to get the job done. One thing our team is full of is belief, and we know that if we play to the high standards, we have set for ourselves, every game we play is ours to lose. This weekend is no different, but I'm buzzing for the game as is the entire squad and we can't wait for Sunday.”
BELT-UP AMATEUR LEAGUE CUP - FINAL PREVIEW
It’s Belt-Up Cup Final day on Sunday with five games at Macedonia Park. First up at 9.00am Joondalup City take on Fremantle City in the Metro Cup, which is followed by Masters Cup Final when Kingsley and Hillary’s do battle. Then at 1.30pm Joondalup United meet Bayswater City in the Over 45’s Cup Final, and then the Amateur Reserves Cup final sees Wembley Downs meet North Beach at 4.00pm. Finally, in the Amateur Cup Final League Champions Kingsley take on Second Division side Carramar in a real ‘David and Goliath’ clash at 6.30pm, so it should be a great day of football get down to watch.
Kingsley started their run to the final with a big win at Baldivis in the first round, while Carramar surprised Premier League side Hamersley Rovers, running out 4-3 winners. Kingsley were then drawn away to Jaguars in the second round and in a classic cup-tie they prevailed 3-1, while Carramar saw off Bassendean Caledonian 5-2. In the third round both sides had fights on their hands. Kingsley were pushed all the way before eventually beating East Perth. The Division Two side held them in normal time, but Kingsley scored twice in extra time to win 2-0, while Carramar fought out a fantastic 5-5 draw, with Carramar winning in the penalty shoot-out.
In the quarter final Kingsley were matched up with Division One side Emerald, again they were made to work for the 3-1 win, while Carramar ended the good cup run of Mandurah City, winning 2-0. That set up two intriguing semi-finals, and Kingsley beat fellow Premier League side Leeming Strikers 4-1, while Carramar overcame Warnbro Strikers to set up Sunday’s big game. Carramar have been the side that has surprised many to reach the final, but not the players, who believe they deserve to be in Sunday’s showpiece. Both Kieran Harrison and Jamie Gibson were on target in the win against Warnbro and both said the players and supporters went off after. “It was a magic night, absolute scenes,” Harrison said.
“I thought we were in the game throughout the 120 minutes despite being down to 10 early in the second half, they scored late in the second half of injury time and we levelled it up to take to penalties with pretty much the last kick of the game. From there Matty our keeper was different class, as he has been all season, I think he saved four in a row to take us through to the final. I think us getting to the final of the cup proves we perhaps should have got out of Division Two, and but for some silly results we would have done. We’ve only got ourselves to blame really but credit to the two that did go up. A win on Sunday will make it a successful season all be it without the promotion we wanted.”
Gibson echoed his team mates thoughts and said it was one of the best games he has been involved in. “It was a hard-fought win and Warnbro were a good side, very unlucky not to go through, but we did match them all over the park and played really well,” he explained. “To be fair it could have gone either way, we got the luck in the penalty shoot-out, but it was one of the best games I have been involved in, two teams desperate to win. Our league season has been a bit disappointing as we were aiming for promotion. We played well in most of the big games then let ourselves down against teams lower in the table, but we have reached a cup final and if we were to win it then the season will have been a good one overall.”
Carramar head coach Dennis Cleary is overseas and will miss Sunday’s final but Harrison said having three coaches this season has really helped the squad. “Yes, it’s disappointing not to have Dennis around he’s been great for us this season and I know we would all love to win at the weekend for him,” he said. “But having said that our other coaches have been superb as well so as you say business as normal come Sunday against a good Kingsley side. I think they’ve only lost once all year and it will be tough, but we’re no mugs ourselves, I fancy we can mix it with the very best on our day and that’s what we will be looking to do on Sunday.”
Gibson, who played at Joondalup United in the NPL, said Sunday is a huge challenge but it’s a Cup Final and who ever wants it the most will run out winners. “It’s a massive game for the club, their first ever cup final for our Amateur side so would be great to win, but Kingsley are a really good team they are tough to beat and have proved this all season, but everyone will be up for it and anything can happen in a cup final,” he explained. “We’re all gutted for Dennis to miss the final, but nothing changes for us on the day, Rob and Dave will have the team set up and everyone will be focused on the game and we will be doing all we can to win it.”
Kingsley’s Jayden Drummond said they have had to work hard in the competition to reach the final and he said the win against Leeming was hard, but it kept their double dreams alive. “I thought the boys were immense against Leeming, they’re always a tough side, let alone in a semi-final but we seemed to have the extra legs in the last 20 to overrun them to keep the double hopes alive,” he explained. “We had a tough day at East Perth, they played some good football and we really struggled to put them away, but we brought some young kids off the bench in extra time and popped up late to score two quick goals. Emerald in the quarter final wasn’t going to be an easy task but we were really up for that game, felt we controlled the whole game, they scored a late goal to make it a bit of nervy finish but we popped up ourselves and buried the game, but it shows you can’t take games for granted against any opponent.”
Striker Josh Waldock said lower league opposition can make it hard for you and he said they can’t be complacent on Sunday, but he knows a win will cap off a great season for the club. “Both our games against Emerald and East Perth were typical cup games, but we always knew we could get the result done and never gave up till the final whistle, and we will have to do the same on Sunday,” he said. “The work off the pitch has been amazing, everyone at the club knew the aim for this season. We won the league, and were promoted, which was always the main aim, making it to the cup final hasn’t been easy, but everyone at the club knows we want to finish the amateur league in style and get the double. We are really pumped for the cup final, we all know it’s one win away from winning the cup final for a second time, so it should be a good game and encourage everyone to come down and watch.”
Drummond, who played in the NPL with ECU Joondalup, said the club have worked extremely hard this season and a win in the cup will be the icing on the cake. “It’s been the biggest year in the club’s history no doubt, but there has been a lot of planning for this year aiming to get into the state league led by Dima and Monty,” he explained. “We are such a tight knit group, nobody has really stood up more than the next, everyone has taken ownership this year when called upon. Cup runs don’t get tougher than ours. Jags away, East Perth away, Emerald at home and away to Leeming in the Semis.
“We knew these can be the dangerous games if you go in with a bad attitude. You have to be switched on from the first whistle, Division Two, Division Four it doesn’t matter in a cup final, we know they’ve got some quality players, the boys are buzzing training on Tuesday intense and can’t wait to get out there again tonight. For having no silverware in a long time, to be able to defend our cup and lift our third trophy in two years is pretty special for the club, and we will be doing all we can to end our season on a high on Sunday.”
MUM’S THE WORD FOR BROWN
Murdoch University Melville have produced a stunning second half fight back to beat Gosnells City 3-0 on the night and 4-3 on aggregate, in Wednesday’s State League Inter-Divisional Promotion Playoff semi-final second leg at Walter Padbury Reserve. With the score line at 0-0, the hosts looked home and dry with 17 minutes remaining after their 3-1 win in the first leg, but Ryan Tucker’s goal gave Gavin Brown’s side a spark. Then Christian Long and Declan Tanna scored on 75 and 78 minutes respectively to win it for the visitors and set off wild celebrations at the final whistle.
“A lot of people wrote us off tonight, but I thought we showed great believe and character and we got our rewards,” Murdoch University Melville coach Gavin Brown told the Football West website. “To be fair I thought our performance in the first leg was really pleasing, especially the second half and we carried on with that tonight. “We created a number of good chances in the first half, but didn’t take them, and we knew we need something to go our way after half time and it did. “I’ve been at this club for a long time and we’ve tried to bring in young players and develop them and it bodes well for the future. But we’ve not achieved anything yet, we spoke about promotion this season, that was our goal, and we’ve got two games to go to reach that, so we will prepare well and give it our best.”
The home side held all the cards in this one, but the visitors were on the front foot early, and had a goal disallowed in the opening three minutes for handball, before Sasa Slavujevic’s curling free kick whistled just wide of the upright. Then on the quarter hour Adrian Ciampini raced down the right and cut inside the penalty area, but his shot from the angle was superbly kept out by the alert Tom Allan. Gosnells hit back and Feisal Zaw stung the palms of Alec Radonich, before the MUM custodian got down well to deny Wade Farmer moments later. It was the visitors who ended the half the better and they had a strong penalty claim turned down after a handball in the penalty area, but referee Tom Robinson was well placed to wave away their protests. MUM went close again in the shadows of half time, Tanna cross wasn’t cleared and Tom Pellizzari’s shot from the edge of the penalty area flew inches over the top.
The hosts should have wrapped up the tie on the hour, when Farmer was sent clear one-on-one with Radonich, but the keeper stood tall to produce a fingertip save to deny him. But MUM throw caution to the wind and they were rewarded with a goal on 73 minutes. They won a free kick 18 meters from goal and Tucker lifted it up and over the wall and into the net to give them hope. They were in again two minutes later, Tanna found space on the left and his cross into the box found Long, and with the Gosnells defenders looking for the offside flag, that never came, he brought it down and finished well.
It was game on, but the visitors had all the momentum and it wasn’t a surprise when they added a third three minutes later. A ball into the penalty area picked out Tanna, who was given far too much room and he curled the ball into the bottom corner of the net to set off wild celebrations on and off the park. Gosnells pressed late, but the visitors, led superbly by skipper Mark Lucas, weren’t going to let their lead slip, and they will now meet Swan United in a two-leg playoff final to see who will take their place State League Division One next season.
Gosnells City: GK Tom ALLAN, 3 Ben HOWE (11 Sean TAYLOR 90), 4. Adam BLEWETT, 5 Scott PEREIRA (12 Lee CONNELL 68), 6 RudneiNOGUIERA, 7 Wade FARMER, 8 Dean ARMSTRONG, 9 Edward WYNNE-WILLSON, 10 Hanafi GHAZALI (15 Ali AZAMI 73), 14 Joshua WADE, 13 Feisal ZAW - Subs not used: RGK Adriano D’ALO,2 Jett SHAW
Murdoch University Melville: GK Alec RADONICH, 2 Beau ABDUL RAHIM (14 Christian LONG 72), 3 Tom PELLIZZARI, 5 Ryan TUCKER, 6 Broden BROWN, 7 Adrian CIAMPINI, 8 Mark LUCAS, 9 Kai JONES (19 Josip VUJICA 63), 10 Sasa SLAVUJEVIC (13Grant MOWATT 55), 11 Declan TANNA, 12 Callum MELLOWSHIP - Subs not used: RGK Joe GAN, 15 Godfrey ASIMWE - Referee: Tom Robinson
SWANS SEND MORLEY DOWN
Morley-Windmills have been relegated to State League Division Two despite their 4-3 victory over Swan United in the Inter-Divisional Promotion Play-Off Semi Final, Second Leg on Wednesday night at Wotton Reserve. Paul Dundo’s side went into the game leading 4-0 from the first game at Francis Street on Saturday, and they were in total control in this one with two quick goals from Jay Lang and Liam Merigan. But Morley fought back Dion Berman scoring the first of his three goals on the night, but Brennan Borzecki’s goal sealed the win and despite the home side fighting back to win the game on the night, it was Swan moving on to next weeks two-leg. The first leg will be at Murdoch University Melville on Wednesday, October 2 and the return at Swan on Saturday, October 5.
“It was a very open game which we expected as Morley had to go for it but once we went got a few away goals it was about sitting in and saving legs,” Swan striker John Monterosso said. “Credit to Morley who didn’t give up, but we never let the tie run away from us. It’s the third year in a row we’ve been in the playoffs and last year’s penalty shootout loss in Mandurah was hard to swallow. It was silly goals at home which cost us so we know how important conceding any amount of goals in a playoff tie can cost you.”
The Morley faithful were hoping for a good start in this one to give them some chance, but it was Swan who opened the scoring on 13 minutes. Liam Merigan’s set piece found Lang, whose stunning shot gave Aiden Holloway no chance. It got worse for the locals two minutes later when Swan added a second. A great give and go between Brennan Borzecki and Merigan, saw the former Forrestfield United midfielder burst into the box and fired past Holloway. The home side now need seven goals to win the game and they found a lifeline on 21 minutes, Scott Wrightson playing in Berman to fire past Joey Smith. Berman levelled things up from the spot on the half hour, but at the break the home side it all to do.
Swan were on the front foot after the break, and Monterosso effort was cleared off the line, but their early pressure was rewarded with the lead again on 53 minutes. A short corner caught Morley napping and Bryan Patterson’s cross found Borzecki at the near-post to head home. It looked like the black and whites put the cue in the rack with their finals place secured, but Morley weren’t finished and Berman added their third to complete his hat trick, when he slotted another penalty past Smith after Igor Novakovic had been fouled in the box. Then 12 minutes from time Morley added a fourth with Yves Mpunga reacting quickest in the box, but it was too little too late, and the Windmills will play Division Two football next season, while Swan will be aiming to replace them in Division One.
Morley Windmills: GK Aiden HOLLOWAY, 2 Gianni MAMONE (6. Alex GALIPO 53), 3 Matt BROOME, 4 Ryan TREACEY, 7 Yves MPUNGA, 8 Boas MTWALE, 9 Dion BERMAN, 10 Scott WRIGHTSON (5 Faustin MACHOCHI 60’), 16 Jan URGELA, 17 Igor NOVAKOVIC, 18 Gabriele COLLI - Subs not used: RGK Steve MURDUE, 14 Dababa MTWALE, 12 Tom GACCA
Swan United: GK Joey SMITH, 4 Luke COLLI, 5 Chris MARSHALL, 6 Liam MERIGAN, 8 Aaron COLLI (3 Dom ANDO 90’), 9 David FOSTER (7 Alen PATAROV 88’) 10 Brian PATTERSON, 11 John MONTEROSSO, 12 Lucas ALLENDER (17 Thomas BLACK 69’), 14 Brennan BORZECKI, 16. Jay LANG - Subs not used: RGK Cameron ANDERSON, 18 Oliver RIGLE - Referee: Martin Hicks
GLORY'S LANDMARK FIRST THAT FITS POPAVIC PERFECTLY
As Perth Glory prepare to defend their 2018/19 Premiership, coach Tony Popovic is more determined than ever to seize the one thing that has eluded his coaching career so far. The 46-year old ex-Crystal Palace hardman has made a remarkable four A-League Grand Finals in just six seasons but has left the big dance empty handed on each occasion.
Last season, Popovic led Glory to the Grand Final in his first season, a feat he managed while at the helm of Western Sydney Wanderers in 2012/13. But although Glory are aiming to kick on from a record-breaking domestic campaign, Popovic’s quest for silverware will expand beyond Australian shores with an AFC Champions League campaign – a competition Popovic won with the Wanderers in 2014.
“What I’ll bring is the experience of knowing what’s expected and how difficult it is, not just playing-wise but logistically and juggling the A-League and the ACL at the same time,” Popovic told a-league.com.au “We’ve got the pleasure of competing in the Asian Champions League, which is a first for the club, and a first for many players here at Perth Glory, and we’re really excited about the challenges that are in front of us this year.”
“It’s something we’d all rather be involved in than sitting at home with a cup of coffee watching the games. It’s something we’ll all experience as a club for the first time and hopefully my experience of being in the competition can ease some of the nerves the players may have. We really want them to be nerves of excitement, not nerves of fear.”
Glory blew their A-League rivals away in 2018/19 under Popovic’s tutelage, surging to their maiden Premiers' Plate and smashing records left, right and centre on the way. It is a campaign that has elevated the benchmark of expectation at the West Australian club to heights not seen since the days of the old National Soccer League.
But Popovic says the club are hungry for the challenge ahead. “Getting the first bit of silverware for the club in the A-League, finishing the season as premiers, being the best team in the league for the whole season is something special and something every team aspires to do,” he said. “We got to the Grand Final and unfortunately we lost in a penalty shootout in front of a fantastic crowd.”
“We’d like to build on that and create stability at the club in terms of expectations and what we achieve. We want to have another season where we’re challenging for honours once more, that’s what we set out to do last year and we have the challenge in front of us again. We know it will be difficult to repeat our success but we’re confident, ambitious and hungry enough to taste some more success.”
One player who could be the crucial difference in helping Glory go one step further in the A-League is former Melbourne City talisman Bruno Fornaroli. The Uruguayan signed for Glory in March after cancelling his contract with Melbourne City in February, following months of speculation over his future throughout an ongoing saga with former City boss Warren Joyce.
Fornaroli is widely recognised as one of the competition’s greatest-ever imports, and Popovic is backing him to fire in WA despite the difficulties he endured in 2018/19. “He’s been a breath of fresh air,” Popovic said. “We’ve been very happy since the moment he walked in the doors here at Perth Glory.”
“He’s had a difficult couple of years for various reasons, but you can really see how determined he really is to play well and contribute personally to the team this year. He’s smiling and enjoying training and his work every day. Knowing Bruno and seeing what he’s done in the past when he has that type of demeanour and body language he plays at his best.”
The off-season has been one of transformation for Glory squad, with a number of key ins and outs. With the departures of Jason Davidson, Shane Lowry, Andy Keogh, Scott Neville and the retired Brendon Santalab, Popovic is missing a core group of players from the premiership winning side. But the Glory boss says a long pre-season has allowed his new signings to bed-in well at the club.
“We’re pleased with how the pre-season is progressing,” Popovic said. “We had the excitement of the game against Manchester United which was early in our pre-season, it forced us to come back quite early to start but we came back for a good reason. So far, all the new players are integrating very well, they’re enjoying their work and living here as well.”
“We’ve had some changes in personnel in recent time, but it’s just a process of getting those players accustomed to how we want to play and to living in Perth. It always takes time especially with foreign players to settle in, but the more games we can play together in this pre-season will give a chance to those players to settle in the way we’d like them to.”
EDWARDS SETTLED IN BURTON MIDFIELD
Ryan Edwards already feels right at home in the Burton Albion midfield. The former Heart of Midlothian man joined the Brewers on a two-year deal in July, and he has played every minute of their nine League One fixtures so far.
Edwards was brought in as a like-for-like replacement for Jamie Allen, who signed for League rivals Coventry City in the summer. That has seen the West Australian take on the role of Burton's midfield runner, pushing up in support of the lone frontman and getting into dangerous positions in the opposition area.
Two goals and two assists is Edwards'return so far, and the 25-year old says he has quickly taken to his place in the Brewers' three-man midfield. "I've been enjoying it, I feel like it's been three, four or five months I've been here," he said.
"I've played a lot of games and I'm really enjoying it. The boys have really welcomed me, the club has really welcomed me, as have the manager and management staff. I feel settled and like I fit in here, with the way the manager wants to play."
"I hope I can just keep it going, keep the performances up and keep momentum, try to be as consistent as possible and contribute to the team. I didn't watch too many Burton games before I signed, but I was aware of them, with Jackson Irvine having been here as well."
"I've followed the club and was aware that the manager liked to play a certain type of football, especially with the midfield three being a big part of his game. You can see the mix there with Stephen Quinn, Joe Sbarra today and also Scotty Fraser. There's a good mix."
Edwards was part of the Burton team that capitulated in stoppage time of Saturday's 2-1 defeat to Tranmere Rovers. Their first chance to bounce back from that disappointment is at home to Bournemouth on Wednesday, in a Carabao Cup third-round tie.
Burton beat Premier League opposition at that stage last season, when Allen's late goal secured victory over Burnley. And despite the recent setback, Edwards - who scored in the second-round win over Morecambe - is relishing the upcoming contest against Eddie Howe's in-form Cherries.
"There's excitement at the cup game coming up, it's good we're into that next round," he added. "The club had a good run last season in the cup as well. We're looking forward to it. It's a Premier League team, that's exciting for the club ... we're raring to go."
'IT'S SOMETHING I'LL REMEMBER FOR EVER': KERR BREAKS NWSL GOALSCORING RECORD
Chicago Red Stars' Samantha Kerr has broken her own National Womens Soccer League goalscoring record, scoring her 17th and 18th goals in 20 games against Washington Spirit. The two strikes put the West Australian seven goals clear of nearest rival Lynn Williams, of North Carolina Courage, in the race for the golden boot.
The win moves Chicago to within six points of the Courage at the top of the table, with Kerr accounting for over half of her side's goals this campaign. She has started every match that she's played this season and has only been withdrawn twice, a credit to her stamina and longevity at this level.
“It’s not easy and these girls make it a lot easier than it should be,” 26-year old Kerr said. “It was an amazing moment for me and something I’ll remember forever. It was nice to do it in front of the Chicago crowd.” Kerr has recently been linked with a move to Europe as the America season draws to an end.
PERTH BEAT HEIDELBERG TO SEAL NPL SEMI-FINAL SPOT
Goals from substitutes Aleks Jovic and Michael Domfeh in extra time has given Perth SC a 3-2 win against Heidelberg United in a pulsating NPL Finals Series clash JL Murphy Reserve on Sunday afternoon. Heidelberg’s Andrew Cartanos cancelled out Paul Zimarino’s early goal to take the match into extra time, before Jovic curled home to put Perth on the verge of becoming the second NPL WA side to win interstate, after Bayswater in 2015. Perth custodian Francis Soale then made a superb double save early in the second period of extra time to thwart the home side, before Domfeh, cut inside and fired low, left footed, into the bottom corner. Alex Schiavo pulled a goal back for Heidelberg just before the final whistle but Perth saw out the match. The win continues a remarkable season for the Azzurri, who having completed back-to-back domestic doubles in the NPL WA and now advance to the national semi-final at former NSL powerhouse Wollongong Wolves next weekend.
“We took plenty of belief from last year’s game against Sydney Olympic and I thought the boys played like warriors tonight,” Perth coach Ramon Falzon said post-game. “We hit the ground running immediately. The first 20 minutes were really good and scoring first was a different challenge to last year as we weren’t chasing the game. We had done our homework on Heidelberg and were looking to get the ball into our central midfielders often – for them to link up and find our forwards in the right areas, and I thought we kept the ball well. I’m not sure what to expect from Wollongong just yet, but we will do our research and I’m pretty sure we will need a similar performance to tonight to qualify for the final.”
Falzon’s side found themselves ahead when man of the match Kristian Santich threaded a pass through for Zimarino to lob over Christopher Theodoridis and into an empty net. The home side then hit back and Sean Ellis whipped a free-kick onto the roof of the net, before the Victorian champions were awarded a penalty when Ellis’ volley was deemed to have hit a Perth hand in the area. Former Perth Glory forward Adrian Zahra stepped up to the spot but he struck the post with Ellis putting the follow-up over the top. In the second half Christopher Dib headed a good chance over the top, before Matt Milenkovic’s cross was scrambled away by Steven Pace, who did enough to clear under pressure from Perth striker Gustavo Catarcione.
Heidelberg made a double change on the hour mark and it paid off within 10 minutes as Paul O’Brien’s cross found its way through a sea of bodies to Cartanos at the back post, and he poked it home to level. That did not deter Perth, who continued to play their game, and they nearly won it in regulation when Zimarino curled wide of the post via a Heidelberg deflection. Into extra-time we went and having introduced Jovic and Domfeh late in the second half, Falzon’s substitutes would step up either side of the extra time interval to win it for Perth.
Santich, who won the Gary Marocchi Medal in the WA NPL Top Four Final against Inglewood last weekend, was outstanding again, and he found the run of Domfeh in the channel, and the former Perth Glory Youth striker pulled the ball back to Jovic and he curled his first goal of the season. Heidelberg weren’t finished and Soale produced a stunning double save, before Kieran Colwell through himself at the rebound to clear the rebound and Perth broke up field and a ball sent Domfeh clear, the Heidelberg players stopped waiting for the offside flag, that never came, and the striker fired past Theodoridis and raced off to celebrate with the Perth fans in the crowd. Schiavo found the net from range late on for Heidelberg, but it was too little to late.
Heidelberg United: GK Christopher THEODORIDIS, 3 Leslie DOUMBALIS (20 Luka NINKOVIC 105’), 4 Christopher DIB (2 Joshua WILKINS 84’), 7 Reuben WAY, 9 Adrian ZAHRA (8 Andrew CARTANOS 60’), 11 Lucas DERRICK (16 Thomas CAHILL 60’), 13 Luke BYLES, 15 Paul O’BRIEN, 17 Steven PACE, 19 Sean ELLIS, 22 Andrew SCHIAVO - Subs not used: RGK: Brendan White
Perth SC: GK Francis SOALE, 2 Alex SILLA, 3 Andreas THEODOSIADES (7 Aleks JOVIC 83’), 6 Harley ORR, 9 Gustavo CATARCIONE (18 Michael DOMFEH 75’), 11 Matt MILENKOVIC, 12 Jordan DE LEO, 14 Kristian SANTICH, 16 Kieran COLWELL, 19 Bojan RADINOVIC (4 Tom SOUTHGATE 91’), 20 Paul ZIMARINO (17 Frank FURFARO 101’) - Subs not used: RGK Dejan ALEKSIC - Referee: Michael Mammis
BELT UP AMATEUR LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION - ROUND TWENTY TWO REVIEW
Belt-Up amateur Premier Division Champions Kingsley tuned up for next week’s Amateur Cup Final with a 9-1 win against relegated Belmont Villa in the final game of the regular season. It was the hosts who were ahead after only five minutes, a long ball bounced over the Villa keeper and Josh Waldock strolled the ball into an empty net. It was 2-0 six minutes later, when Lee Thomas’ corner was headed home by Aaron Lickiss. It was three on the half hour Sean Johnson heading home, after a mistake by the Villa keeper. To the surprise of many Belmont pulled one back on 38 minutes, Luqman Abdirahman was sent clear and he finished well past Rob Andrews. But normal service was resumed three minutes from half time, with Thomas adding his second. It was 5-1 in the first minutes of the second half, half time substitute Ryan Brown’s long throw, found another half time substitute Simone Sichel, who headed home. Further goals from Sichel, Brown, Luke Coltman and Lewis Flatt gave Steve Dimitrovich’s a big win and a good lead-up game to next weeks Cup Final. “It was a very good way to finish the league season with such a big win,” Dimitrovich said. “Also, it was great to give all the lads a minimum 45 minutes each to press their claims for a starting spot for the cup final this weekend.”
Second placed Quinns ended their first season in the Premier League with a 4-2 loss at the UWA Sports Park against UWA Nedlands in the final game for UWA Coach Arthur Hiemstra. “Winning our last home game convincingly from the number two side, with a heavily depleted squad was a nice way to finish of the season,” Hiemstra said. “Also, it was great finishing off as a coach with our victory song and Gatorade shower was even better.” It was Quinns who hit the front when Liam Hunt lashed the ball home after UWA failed to clear their lines. But the home side hit back and levelled when Langdon Heath’s corner picked out Amir Khasanov who lost his marker and flicked the ball home.
The home side then hit the front with a free kick from Jack Retallack, to send them to the break with the lead. The home side added a third after the break, Retallack’s stunning 20-meter free kick giving the Quinns keeper no chance. It 4-1 with top goalscorer Mitch Barrington being sent clear one-on-one with the Quinns keeper and he finished clinically. Quinns pulled on back through Ryan McCready, and they had another one disallowed for offside, but they couldn’t get back into the game. “Very disappointed to finish our season with the lost, but it doesn’t take anything away from a great first season in the premier division,” Quinns coach Lee Garnish said. “It was a game we wanted to win but were off our game and UWA played well and deserved the three points.”
Jaguar have finished third edging out Wembley Downs after a 3-1 win against them at the Herb Graham Recreation Centre. Both sides had early chances in this one Wembley firing into the side netting, while Paul Sopp fired wide when well placed. But it was the visitors who were ahead when a long clearance by the Wembley keeper sent Matt Devereux clear, and he beat Jags keeper Makuei Mapooth and headed the ball into the path of David Prescott who fired home into an empty net to give Wembley the lead at the break. Mapooth was busy making some good saves to keep his side in the game and those saves became more important when Jags levelled on the hour. Gojam Nyuon’s cross find Ibrahim Hamad at the back post and the midfielder volleyed home. The home side started to take control and it wasn’t a surprise when Jags hit the front. Sopp turned his marker on the right and picked Hamad in the penalty area and his shot deflected off a Wembley defender and into the net. The game took another twist when Hamad was shown a second yellow card and was sent off. But the ten men wrapped up the points late when substitute Mandela Bol was sent through and he clinically finished from a tight angle.
North Perth finished fifth after a hard fought 2-1 win against relegated Ellenbrook United at Woodville Reserve. Both sides had chances in an open game early, but it was the home side who opened the scoring, when the hard-working Alpha Sheriff cut into the box from the right and fired his shot across the face of goal into the bottom corner. But Ellenbrook weren’t going down without a fight and they levelled on the hour, Luke Ross’ stunning long-range free kick gave North Perth keeper Jamie Serra no chance. Ellenbrook thought they had the lead towards the end of the game when Brendan Symons superb volley looked like it had caught Serra off his line but somehow the keeper got back to produce a finger tip save. It was the home side that took the points late Edin Nalic finishing from close-range won it for Alex Carter’s side. “It was a fairly scrapping game as these dead rubbers usually are at the end of a long season, but happy to win it,” Carter said. “I keep saying it would be great if Football West bought in a promotion payoff for teams 2nd,3rd,4th in all divisions, it would keep a lot more clubs and players motivated much deeper into the year.” The game was the final one for Ellenbrook player/coach Matty Clarke and he thanked North Perth for a special day. “The game was end to end with both sides creating opportunities, and we were unlucky not to take the lead on a few occasions in the first half,” Clarke said. “From there I felt like North Perth took control, that being said we defended well and didn't give them a lot, and I think a draw would have been a fair result but we couldn't quite get the second goal. “I’d also like to thank everyone at North Perth for the day, you guys are legends and I wish you all the best for next season.”
Leeming Strikers also ended the season with a big win, beating Hamersley Rover 7-2 at Carine Open Space. The visitors made the perfect start with top goalscorer Ayden Evans finishing well from eight-meters after only five minutes. It was 2-0 five minutes Lucas Pickering’s cross was controlled and finished well by Evans. It 3-0 moments later Evans was played through one on one with the keeper to complete his hat trick. It was 4-0 on 25 minutes, with Pickering being picked out at the back post and he finished well. Leeming added a fifth just after the half hour, Baldave Singh lost his marker at the back post and headed home. Hamersley hit back after the break and pulled two goals back, but Evans added his fourth and Leeming’s sixth 15 minutes from time. It was 7-2 late, when Paulo Coelho’s curling shot crashed off the post and substitute David Palin was on hand to fire home the rebound. “Really happy to finish the season with five wins in our last six, and some of the football we have played in the back end of the season has been really good and definitely something to build on for next year,” Palin explained. “Great to see Aydan add another four goals and hopefully that's enough to secure top scorer. He has been great for us this season and we wish all the best on his next adventure to New Zealand, but for now it's time to put the feet up and enjoy some time off.”
In the final game Joondalup United have ended their first season in the Premier League, winning a seven-goal thriller against Kwinana United at Beldon Park. “It was great to finish our first season in the Premier league with a win,” Joondalup coach Ben Williams said. “Hopefully we can build on that next for next season.” It was the visitors who hit the front n this one, Callisto Taona losing his marker from a corner to score. But the home side took control and Adam Giannasi levelled, scooping the ball home after a corner. They then hit the front after Chris Boyle was brought down in the box and Giannasi converted the resulting penalty. It got better for the home side before the break when they added a third. In a great team move Taylor Cooper and Boyle combined to set up Giannasi, who calmly slotted past the keeper to complete his hat-trick. Kwinana hit back after the break and reduced the margin when David Clark finished well. But Joondalup hit back and Kwinana keeper produced a great save to deny Cooper, but moments later Cooper did score and it looked like the points were safe. But Kwinana weren’t finished and Shane Nunes pulled another one back late, but they couldn’t find the equaliser. “I thought Joondalup deserved the win, however I was happy with the way we applied ourselves in the second half,” Kwinana coach Mark Purvis said. “We weren’t happy with our application in the first half so we addressed that at half time, and we will certainly look to build on the second 45 going into next season.”
Finally, this week we look at the clubs who will play in the Premier League next season, and in the final game of the Amateur First Division Queens Park won the league after a 2-0 win against second placed Maddington Eagles at Coker Park. The home side started the better and deservedly hit the front when winger Leigh Bridger picked the ball up on the half-way line and raced forward, before unleashing and unstoppable shot into the top corner. They added a second goal when Wesley Britz played a neat give and go before easing past the last defender and finding the corner of the net. “There were some emotions flying high with the passing on Malcolm Browns father in the week who was a staunch supporter at every game,” Queens Park Coach Ricardo Fynn said. “We wanted to finish on a high but this was also a good opportunity to give a few reserve players a run having secured the title last week at Spirit. I thought we were in control of the match from start to finish and had we taken half the chances we created it would have easily been a few more today.”
“The season was a great success having led the table from week 1 to week 22 and finishing comfortably seven points clear from Maddington. We had the depth in squad and could effort to get over some sticky patches when we lost key players to either work, injuries or suspensions. We learned a lot about the young squad we have and while the players and coaching staff are relatively inexperienced, we are growing daily and learning. We came against incredible opposition that play clean and entertaining football. Any one of these teams could have won this league and definitely gained promotion. The likes of Warnbro, Emerald, Forrestfield and Gosnells were incredible on and off the pitch and I expect them to kick on and see them in the Premier league next season. Promotion to the Premier League was a minimum this season and we will have work harder to compete with the likes of Quins, Joondalup and Jags who we know from our time in Division One, so we look to continue with our philosophy and brand of football that is entertaining and direct and continue giving the Queens Park faithful the football they deserve at this great club.”
STATE LEAGUE PLAY OFFS - SEMI FINALS FIRST LEG REVIEW
Swan United have one foot in the Inter-Divisional Promotion Play-off Final after a comprehensive 4-0 win in the first leg of the Semi-Final against Morley Windmills at Francis Street on Saturday afternoon. It was a lively start to the game with chances at both ends. First on six minutes Boas Mtwale stung the palms of Swan keeper Joey Smith, before at the other end Liam Merigan’s volley from the edge of the penalty area flashed inches wide of the target. But on 15 minutes it was the home side who opened the scoring. Merigan slipped the ball in neatly to Brian Patterson, who brought the ball down well and finished clinically past Aiden Holloway. It was 2-0 eight minutes later, with a goal of great quality. Lucas Allender found Patterson, who played in Merigan down the left, and the former Forrestfield United play-maker whipped in a great low cross and David Foster lost his marker and guided the ball home. Things got worse for Morley on 36 minutes when referee Alexander Best spotted a push by Igor Novakovic on Brennan Borzecki and pointed straight to the spot, much to the displeasure of the Morley players. John Monterosso stepped and sent Holloway the wrong way from the spot to make it 3-0 at the break.
The home side went on with it after the break and on hour Foster was sent clear by Merigan, and his lob bounced off the crossbar and was claimed by the grateful Holloway. But the home sides pressure was rewarded on 69 minutes when they added a fourth. Patterson’s free kick from wide on the left beat everyone in the box, including keeper Holloway, much to the delight of the big home crowd. Morley needed to find a goal to take into the second leg to give them some hope, and Debaba Mtwale fired inches wide, before Swan keeper Smith was out bravely to save at the feet of Dion Berman moments later. But they couldn’t find one and it is Swan with the upper hand in this one, while Morley will need a huge turnaround in the second leg at Wotton Reserve on Wednesday evening if they are to stay in Division One.
Gosnells City hold all the cards in the other Play-off Semi Final after winning 3-1 away at Murdoch University Melville in the first leg at Murdoch University Sports Complex. The visitors were ahead on 25 minutes when a corner wasn’t dealt with by MUM and Wade Farmer stabbed the ball home from close-range. But their lead only lasted two minutes, with Adrian Ciampini finished off a neat build-up play to score. The home side were now on top and Gosnells keeper Tom Allen produced a great save to deny Ciampini a second goal moments later. But on 34 minutes the visitors regained the lead, after the referee spotted a handball by MUM defender Grant Mowatt, and Edward Wynne-Wilson made no mistake from the resulting penalty.
MUM was out of the blocks after the break but they found Gosnells custodian Allen in fine form, while Feisal Zaw was a constant threat for the visitors going the other way. Zaw went close to a third on the hour, but MUM keeper Alec Radonich was out bravely to deny him. With Gavin Brown’s side pushing forward looking for the equaliser they were caught out at the other end with Gosnells found a third, when Zaw was brought down in the box and Wynne-Wilson converted his second spot kick to seal a 3-1 win. Marc Anthony’s side will now be favourites to make the promotion final when they host Murdoch in the second leg at Walter Padbury Reserve on Wednesday night at 7pm.
NPL NATIONAL PLAY OFFS - ELIMINATION FINAL PREVIEW
After last week’s win in the NPLWA Top Four Cup Final, Perth Soccer Club will be flying the flag for WA football in this weekend’s National NPL finals, when they travel to Melbourne to take on NPL-VIC league premiers Heidelberg United at JL Murphy Reserve on Sunday afternoon (2:30PM WA time). Perth go into the game on the back of Alex Silla's winner on 90 minutes that beat Inglewood United to secure the Top Four Cup, while since winning the title Heidelberg have struggled in the top four Cup losing to Bentleigh Greens in the Top Four Semi-Finals. They won the league on the final day of the season with a 3-0 win at South Melbourne, and have some Perth connections in their side with former Sorrento defender Lewis Hall, Perth SC defender Josh Wilkins, Floreat Athena striker Luka Ninkovic and former Perth Glory midfielder Adrian Zahra in their squad.
Both sides have had success in the competition over the years, in 2016, Perth thrashed NPL Tasmania side Devonport City 6-1 before falling to NPL Northern NSW’s Edgeworth FC 1-0 in the Semi Finals. Then in 2018 they fell at the first hurdle against NPL NSW side Sydney Olympic 1-0. Heidelberg FC, however, are previous winners of the national competition, taking out the 2017 NPL Finals Series by defeating Bayswater City 3-1, NSW side APIA Leichhardt FC 2-1, and ultimately Queensland’s Brisbane Strikers 2-0 in the Grand Final.
A player who will be vital for Ramon Falzon's side is striker Michael Domfeh. The 20-year-old has scored 16 goals this season, and his goal just after half time against Inglewood was a catalyst in their win last weekend and he said it was a great result for the club. "It was a hard-fought win, and all the lads put in a massive shift to come from behind to get it done," he explained. "Maybe it wasn't the highest quality game, but was entertaining for the crowd."
Domfeh said they deserved the NPL title after dominating for most of the season and he was quick to give credit to the coaching staff at Dorrien Gardens. "From our point of view, it was quite a successful season, and we were largely dominant in most games and did well to maintain the top position," he said. "Ramon, Marc and the staff have worked really hard and put a lot of effort into assist us players as much as they can. Without their help we wouldn’t have been able to do what we have this year."
Domfeh knows Sunday is a great challenge for the group but he said they will give it their best. "Yes, Heidelberg have been one of the top teams in terms of NPL in the country so it will be a massive test for us," he said. "But the squad are looking forward to the trip away, and the lads will be up for it and we will be doing all we can to get a positive result."
Former Perth defender Josh Wilkins will miss the game due to injury, but he said he's looking forward to catch up with a few of his old teammates. "I’m really excited to see them," he said. "I went back to Perth briefly at the start of the year and noticed they had a strong team built with players who came through the junior ranks together and who are bonded really well. Ultimately, they’re a team very similar to us in that regards, we are all players who play for each other as well and pretty relentless and love winning. It’s going to be a good contest full of energy, and yes, I’m looking forward to having a chat with a lot of the boys I grew up playing with and share some stories."
Former Bayswater City and Floreat Athena striker Luka Ninkovic said the move to Heidelberg has been great for him and he is learning all the time. "It's been amazing and the club really made me welcome and I've felt right at home," he explained. "This year was about getting my foot in the door and getting used to the tempo over here in Victoria by coming off the bench at one of the biggest clubs in the NPL in Australia. So overall I've enjoyed it and can't wait to finish the season on a high and continue next year."
The striker said Heidelberg showed great spirit to overtake Avondale to take out the title. "The team showed great character to win the league after trialling them for most of the season," he said. But the win away against them put us in pole position and we beat South Melbourne on the final day to won it, and in that game, we performed really well and stood up and took our chances."
Ninkovic is well aware of the strength Perth have in their squad and he said Sunday will be a good game. "They (Perth) had a really successful season and Sunday will be a good game to watch and be a part off," he explained. "The Perth boys will be up for it no doubt, but we have prepared well and training hard and given it's the business end of the season we will give it everything to progress to the semi-finals, and further. It's a big weekend and I'm personally looking forward to it."
STATE LEAGUE PLAY OFFS - SEMI FINALS FIRST LEG PREVIEW
The final spot in next season's State League Division One is up for grabs and it all starts this weekend when the Inter-Divisional Promotion Play-off first legs take place. In the first Semi-Final Murdoch University Melville entertains Gosnells City at Murdoch University Sports Complex, while Swan United host Morley Windmills at Francis Street in the second Semi-Final, with the reverse fixtures (second leg) being held next Wednesday.
Gosnells finished second in Division Two and Marc Anthony's side had the second-best defence in the league, with keeper Tom Allen pinning a tight back five. They were only beaten once at home, but in the first leg they hit the road to face an in-form Melville. Striker Edward Wynne-Willson lead the way in front of goal and he will be vital in this one but Gosnells have been good across the board add more. Defender Ben Howe said the loss at Swan last weekend wasn't ideal but he said it was a good opportunity to rest a few players. "Yes, the result up at Swan was disappointing but we don’t take too much away from it," he explained. "We already had second place tied up three weeks ago and Marc and Lenny took the opportunity to rest players like myself who needed it to be 100% ready for finals. The rest seems to of done the trick for the players as we looked sharp at training on Tuesday night."
Howe, who has played at Armadale and Western Knights before returning to City this season, said their success has been built on a tight defence and they will need that on Saturday at Murdoch. "Our defence has been very solid this year, there’s been a lot of clean sheets which has been pleasing, and we’re yet to concede against MUM in the two games we’ve played against them in this year so we take a lot of confidence from that heading in to this one," he said. "Going off form MUM come into this one with some strong results, and we are more than aware that they are a quality side that will be right up for this one to try make amends for the two losses during the season. It’s going to be tough going up to their venue first, they have a great setup down at MUM and I’m sure they’ll get a good turnout. Though their pitch suits our attacking style of play and in my opinion, we put on our best performance of the season their last time round and we hope to replicate this."
Melville come into Saturday's game as the form team, with only one defeat in their last five games and winger Adrian Ciampini has played a huge part in that bagging eight goals in the last four games, and he was on target in their big win at Dianella to round of their regular season. "It was a very pleasing result to finish off the regular season with a comfortable victory considering we used the opportunity to rest a couple of players with minor injuries and also to use some of the depth we have in case they need calling upon during the playoff series," he explained. "A clean sheet is always a good confidence booster going into the playoffs, and it actually means we’ve had zero defeats in the last five games, as we drew against league champions Quinn’s five weeks ago. Following that good performance with four comfortable victories scoring 18 goals and only conceding two."
Ciampini, who has also played at Canning City and Fremantle City, said the scoring has been shared around this season and that will help them in the playoffs. "We’ve been fairly clinical in front of goal this season averaging nearly three goals per game, and we’ve had 18 different goal scorers, so we know we’ve got goals in us, it’s just making sure we can remain composed and clinical in front of goal in the big games," he said. "As for my season, any player that joins a new club has to be patient and work extra hard at training and in the Reserves to firstly earn his stripes, and secondly prove to the coaches that he is capable of making a positive contribution on the big stage. Fortunately for me, I managed to fit in quite quickly and all the players were very welcoming and made me feel like part of the squad very early. I was given my opportunity late in the season and was very grateful for it. I’m glad that I’ve been able to repay the coaches for my selection with the eight goals in the last four games."
The 20-year-old knows Gosnells will be a tough game, and he is looking for a better performance from the last two times they have played them. "Gosnells have had an amazing season, they are a very solid outfit and I’m certain that Marc and Lenny will have them well prepared for Saturday," Ciampini said. "We didn’t get the results we wanted in either game against them, but we know we weren’t at our best, and finals football is a different ball game. We’ve been preparing well for this game which is a huge occasion for the club and we know there’ll be a large crowd, so hopefully we can play as our recent form suggests and get a good result before going to their ground on Wednesday."
Swan United go into Saturday's game on the back of some good form after one defeat in the last five games in Division Two, while Morley ended their Division One season well but back-to-back defeats in their last two games wasn't what they were looking for heading into Saturday's game. Paul Dundo's side beat Gosnells City in Saturday's final game of the season to clinch the final spot in the play offs and they did it without influential trio Jay Lang, Liam Merigan and skipper Aaron Colli, but all will be available for Saturday's game. They had the heartbreak of losing to Mandurah City in last season's playoff final and they will be hoping to go one better this season.
Swans striker John Monterosso said last week’s win against Gosnells was good preparation for the playoffs and they will go into Saturday's game at home in a confident mood, but he knows anything can happen in playoff football "Yes, it was a good win with a lot of players stepping up when needed against Gosnells, but we were aware they had nothing to play for and we did so we'll take the win but knowing we’re going to have to step up again for the playoffs." Monterosso said they have been playing cup finals in their last five games, just to reach the playoffs and he knows it gets harder now but they are ready for the challenge against Morley. "We've only had two defeats in eight games which shows were hard to beat, its putting games away that we’ve struggled with, but playoffs are a different beast and taking last years’ experience with us will leave us better prepared," he explained. "We're under no illusion how difficult Morley will be, they picked up results towards the end of the season and have played against better quality sides all year so it will be difficult, but like I’ve always said at Swan we tend to do thing the hard way so with a few boys back in the mix for Saturday, so it should be a great game at Francis Street."
Morley will be looking to keep their Division One status alive in this one, and the last time they played in a playoff was in 2017 when they beat Gosnells City to win promotion to Division One. After the resignation of John Castrilli in mid-season, Jason van Rooy has taken over the reins at the Wotton Reserve club and their results have improved and leading goalscorer Dion Berman said believes despite two narrow losses in the final two games of the regular season they go into Saturday's first leg in a confident mood. "Yes, I guess for a few weeks now, we have come to terms with the probability of playoffs," he said. "I think we have been working hard, preparing for these games and we pretty confident we can put up a good fight.'
Berman has bagged 12 goals this season, and the 25-year-old said after Jason van Rooy's appointment they started to get some good results and he hopes it continues in the playoffs, starting at Swan on Saturday. "Yes, I think Jason arriving has been a breath of fresh air for the club, fresh ideas and a different attitude has sparked us in recent weeks probably resulting in the change of results," he explained. "We know Saturday is a crucial away leg first up, and Swan are very strong at home. We need to be focused and most importantly stay in the tie, and I think we have the quality to take a positive result back to Wotton Reserve.
BELT UP AMATEUR LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION - ROUND TWENTY TWO PREVIEW
It’s the final round of the Belt-Up Amateur Premier Division and this week we spoke to all the coaches of the 12 teams regarding the final round and their thoughts of the season. We start with the league Champions Kingsley who entertain Belmont Villa at Chichester Park. Belmont were relegated from the league last week and will go into this one with only pride to play for, unfortunately no one from the club was available for a comment. Kingsley go into the game eight points clear at the top and will take their place in the state League Division Two next season, but coach Steve Dimitrovich said his players are determined to end their league season well. “We’re really looking forward to the final league game this week against Belmont,” he said. “It’s also a final chance for the lads to put their hand up for a starting spot for the cup final on the 29th September.”
Dimitrovich said it’s been a great season for the club. “Our season has gone to plan as it was our goal to win the league and gain promotion to the state league and to also make the cup final and hopefully defend the cup, we won last year,” he explained. “I’d like to than my right-hand man in Stuart Montgomery for his work alongside me this year his intellect on football is very good and it has showed in key moments this year. Also, thanks to Ben Andrews and Shaun Little for the job they’ve done with the Reserves they’ve definitely had a great impact on both squads this year. Ryan Lickiss for putting the boys through some hell with some fitness work, Rhiannon Hopkins for been a great Physio and keeping our boys on the park and getting their rehab done in a great manner. John Gaffney our team manager without his tireless work on match days it would make our jobs a lot harder, and lastly to Rob Andrews, Chris Brady and the entire committee for their work behind the scenes it’s greatly appreciated by the entire play squad.”
Second placed Quinns make the trip to the UWA Sports Park to take on UWA Nedlands. Quinns Coach Lee Garnish said it’s been a huge season for their club and they will be looking to end it on a high at UWA. “Our aim this weekend is to finish the season off with the three points,” he said. “We’ve been very happy with our first season in the premier league. Started way back with the night series, then a cup run to the quarter finals and to finish in second place is a great achievement, and every player in our squad deserved huge credit. Also, Darren Kay from the start of the year then Robbie Kelly coming in has given the lads the push and drive to continue after Darren step away. Another is Steve Zappa who helps out with the whole squad without people like this the club wouldn’t run as smoothly. Again, huge effort from all our players and hope to continue and build for next season.”
UWA sit in eight spot, and coach Arthur Hiemstra said 2019 has been an improvement from his side and they are hoping to go out with a win. “Nice to finish the season at home, and although there being nothing at stake, going into the off season with a win would be good,” he said. “This season was an improvement over last year and we have had some excellent performances along the way. If we can improve our consistency during the dreaded June/July period we can aim for a higher placing. We have been able to fit quite a few new lads in with a lot of potential so the squad for next year looks promising. I’m taking a temporary break from coaching to focus on the club presidency and would like to thank all the opposition teams and coaches over the years.”
Third placed Jaguar entertain fourth placed Wembley Downs at the Herb Graham Recreation Centre. Jags coach Chol Kong said it will be good to end the season with a win after a season of high and lows for his club. “Sunday's game against Wembley will be another tough game, just has all the games been throughout the year. We know what to expect and we will be ready because we know they are a good side, and we know what is on the line and we will try to finish the season well,” he explained. “This has not been an easy season for us a lot of ups and downs throughout, and we were disappointed because we set ourselves high standards in what we want to achieve. I just want to thank everyone involved in the club that have put so much in to help run the club throughout the year players, management and also our fans that have stood by us and supported us.”
Wembley coach Mike Ford Sunday’s game is going to be a cup final for both teams. “Whoever wins on Sunday will take third place on the table. Paul Price has been taking the team for the last few weeks and knows what’s required to get a result anything less than our best won’t achieve the outcome we’re looking for. Jags are a quality team and we produced our best game of the season down out Wembley - but it’s their home game and they play their ground really well, so it should be a great game for the crowd,” Ford said. “Our season has been really difficult, since February we haven’t been able to field the same starting 11, must be some sort of record. We have to thank Jay McDonald, Mickey O’Connor, Stephen Geoghegan and Jeff Cornez for their great efforts all season. What with injuries, players sick, on holiday, anniversaries, pets injured you wouldn’t or couldn’t imagine some of the reasons. Despite all this we’ve been pushing for second -third spot most of the season and getting to the quarter final of the cup. Paul Price and I came in late this season but I believe we have over achieved given the squad and all the injuries etc. we believe we have a great platform for next year and with pre-season starting in November were planning for a really successful season. My thanks go to Paul Price and Mal Mackie for their support and help with this difficult first season.”
Fifth placed North Perth United have home ground advantage when they host relegated Ellenbrook United at Woodville Reserve. North Perth coach Alex Carter said they will approach Sunday’s game like every other game this season. “Like every game we approach this week against Ellenbrook with a clear game plan. They (Ellenbrook) got the monkey off their backs with a win a few weeks ago so they will no doubt play with a bit more freedom, but we are just looking at finishing off a testing year very strong,” he explained. “We struggled through preseason to get the majority of our squad properly conditioned this year. Added to that we had a huge amount of the boys away at the same time with European summer holidays. Hopefully the boys take that learning experience away with them for next year that if the hard work isn’t done pre-April, it’s very hard to catch up during the season. I’d like to thank Mark Reid in particular for all his tireless efforts he has again put into the club. I’m sure he would say at times I’m not easy to deal with but without his efforts we wouldn’t have even had a team.”
Ellenbrook coach Matty Clarke will come against his former club on Sunday and he’s looking forward to the challenge. “Sunday's final game is pretty special and fitting for me personally. I spent over a decade at North Perth and have very fond memories there. This season I've retired from first team football due to nerve damage in my legs. The clubs have got together and have organised the game as a testimonial for myself and another North Perth Legend Oscar Kelly. I can't wait to put my boots on for the last time on Sunday and couldn't think of a better time and place to do it, it's the place it all began for me. Hopefully we can go out and put on a show,” Clarke explained.
“This season has been one of my hardest in football, it's also been one of my best for many reasons. I couldn't be prouder of the young talent we have and the effort and commitment they have shown. It's a bit sad to see us go down but you can mark my words when I say we won't be there for long. The coaching staff have been phenomenal this year, we have struggled week in week out for players and have often had to double up but the dedication shown has allowed us to field a team each and every week. That's due to the massive effort put in by the coaches. I couldn't have got through the year without Lee Cole, he is the ultimate clubman, a great bloke and a brilliant coach so a big thank you to him. Hopefully we can go out on a positive note. Finally, thanks to all the club's this year, you have all showed a lot of class and respect when facing us, it's been a pleasure.”
Sixth place Leeming Strikers end their season with a trip to Carine Open Space to take on Hamersley Rovers. Leeming coach David Palin said he’s looking forward to another entertaining game against Rovers. “Sunday, though not a lot to play for should be a good game. I always find Hammers a much better side than sometimes their league position shows, they play some good football and have some players with real threat across the pitch. We would like to finish on a win, Aydan Evans is still chasing golden boot so there is enough to play for in the final game of the season,” he said. “Our season as a whole has been very up and down. We started so well winning the night series, in the space of a week we lost three players to season ending injuries and I just don't know if we ever recovered from the pumping we got at Jags.
“Momentum is crucial and we never seemed to gain much throughout the season to really make any impact on top spot. We played some of our best football in patches and some of our worst in my five years with the team, we never really responded well if it wasn't going our way and we can learn a lot from that as a squad moving into 2020. We will walk away with a trophy and likely only one of two teams that will win the three trophies available, so we can't be too disappointed, any season with a trophy isn't a bad one and we will try improve next year. I would also like to take the chance to congratulate on behalf of Leeming coaches and players to Dima, Monty, the players and Kingsley as a club for the season they have had, winning both leagues just shows they were the best squad this season, all the best on promotion and venture into State league football.”
Hamersley coach Glynn Shaw said Sunday should be a great game, and they will be looking to end the season with a win. “We are really looking forward to Sunday's game and the lads can play not worrying about going down next season. Leeming are a very good team but at the moment we aren’t playing bad at all so looking forward to having a good go at them,” Shaw explained. “The season has been hard with so many players leaving from last season. But I would like to say a big thank you to all the players for your hard work on the park and keeping Hamersley in the Premier League. I would also like to say a big thank you to Sam the reserve coach and Alan and Dan who have been doing the third team. And finally, a big thank you to all the committee who do all the hard work that makes it possible to put teams out every week.”
In the final game Joondalup United entertain Kwinana United at Beldon Park. Joondalup coach Ben Williams said a win on Sunday will end a good first season in the Premier League. “We’re expecting a tough last game to end the season. Last time around a last-minute winner was all that separated the two sides and it was a bruising encounter,” Williams said. “Our first season in the Premier Division was tough to start, and we didn't start well and really couldn't get a consistent 11 onto the pitch due to holidays and injuries however we turned our form around and picked up some valuable points. I feel the team definitely has improved as the season went on and a consistent back four put the foundations down to be able to win matches.
“In the lower leagues we always had the individual talent to win, this year all the sides have much more quality and we needed consistency in our performances. Apart from our heavy losses to Kingsley and Hamersley early on we were much more competitive even in the games we lost. We need to be more clinical in front of goal when chances arrive. Overall, I feel we have shown we belong in this league and mid table is a credit to the lads after a slow start. I'd like to thank all my staff Gary Kirkpatrick, Kevin Merrie, Dave Newitt, Kaleb Barbetti and Neil Sherwin they've all been a massive help week to week, and obviously the players whose attitude has been 100% even at the toughest of times. Also, all the clubs that supported Blaine Slater this year the football community came together and supported his family in a time of need which he is very grateful for.”
Kwinana coach Mark Purvis has only been in the job for three weeks and picked up his first win against Jaguar last week, and he is hoping to end the season with a second win on Sunday. “The game against Joondalup will be a great test. They’ve had a great first year in the Premier Division, and I’ve coached against them a few times over the years and Ben always has them well drilled,” he explained. “I’ve only been at the club for three weeks and it’s probably not been the season that the club expected. But I’ve enjoyed the challenge that going to a new club brings. I’d actually like to thank everyone at the club. They’ve made me feel so welcome and the players have given me everything in terms of attitude and work rate.”
Finally, from everyone at Footballwa.net, we would like to thank all the coaches and players for all their help during the season with comments for the reviews and previews throughout the season, without your help we couldn’t produce them.
GLORY SNAP UP SWISS DEFENDER
Perth Glory have added to their squad for the 2019-20 Hyundai A-League season with the signing Swiss defender Gregory Wüthrich from Swiss Super League club BSC Young Boys on a one-year deal. The 24-year-old, 1.92m centre-back has represented Switzerland at every level from Under-15 to Under-21 and was a part of the Young Boys side that won the Swiss Super League title in 2017-18.
Other than a brief loan with top-flight rivals Grasshopper, he has spent his entire career to date with Young Boys, his hometown club, and he’s looking forward to a new challenge in Australia. “I’m really happy to be here,” Wüthrich said. “I talked to Tony Popovic and after that conversation I was ready to join the club. I was looking for a new challenge and the way the coach talked about the club’s style of play, in terms of playing out from the back, was very exciting and exactly what I wanted to hear. Everyone at the club has been really kind to me since my arrival here, it’s been a great first impression and I can’t wait to get started.”
Perth Glory Football Director Jacob Burns believes that the new recruit has all the attributes required to make a major impact in the Hyundai A-League. “Gregory is a commanding central defender who is comfortable on the ball and he brings plenty of experience having played regularly in the Swiss Super League and also in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League,” he said. “We believe that he has the ability to make a significant contribution for us in both the Hyundai A-League and Asian Champions League this season.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Perth Glory Chief Executive Tony Pignata. “The club has been looking to add another quality defender for some time and we feel that Gregory very much fits the bill,” he said. “We look forward to seeing him play his part as we look to build upon last year’s Premiers’ Plate success.
ITALIANO BREAKS INTO ONE OF WORLD’S TOP LEAGUES
Exciting teen Jacob Italiano is plotting an extraordinary debut in one of the world’s top leagues, just months after departing Perth Glory. Italiano has broken into Borussia Moenchengladbach’s reserves - who play in Germany’s competitive fourth tier - after receiving his visa clearance a fortnight ago.
Youth teammate Aaron Herzog, 21 - who along with Italiano was the only youth player to join the firsts for a pre-season camp - has already made the team sheet for the German Bundesliga club. Italiano said the first-team stint had filled him with optimism, despite being on the fringes for Glory last season.
“I don’t believe it’s unrealistic (to play first team football this season). It will be tough, but it’s a definite a goal of mine to get Bundesliga game time,’’ Italiano said. “The training camp with the first team was a crazy experience. I didn’t expect it, but I didn’t feel out of place.”
“I’m with the Under 23s, next step is a senior call up. Herzog was on the bench in the opening round, so it shows they’re not scared to call (youngsters) up. The big surprise has been physically — everyone’s a beast here, they’re all big, fast and strong. I’ve been okay physically. They’re happy with my weight and skinfolds.”
After a few burnt steaks and chicken breasts, Italiano - who only turned 18 in July - said he was adapting to living abroad for the first time. “I have gone through a couple of speed bumps in the kitchen. Overcooked some things like chicken and steak, and undercooked some things,’’ he said.
“It’s more my parents saying ‘don’t under cook things’, so I give it a bit extra. Then the chicken, mum said clean everything before and after. Mum always cooked at home. I did do a bit in Canberra when I was at the AIS (Australian Institute of Sport).”
Last season’s pre-season injury left Italiano struggling to break into a Glory side that was firing by the time he returned. He said the season under Tony Popovic prepared him for the cut-throat nature of Europe. “The injury helped me learn to keep my body right while training less ... eat less, take care of yourself. The boss (Popovic) was big on that,” Italiano said.
“I was a bit heavy when returning from injury — he let me know. I have a big respect for the way he coaches, he’s definitely helped me prepare for a Euro environment. Kenny Lowe was very good for me as well. The environment last year was a lot more cut-throat. If you’re performing below par at training, he’d let you know. That’s very similar to here.”
PERTH HITS THE SMALL BIG TIME WITH MINIFOOTBALL WORLD CUP
Adriano, the troubled Brazilian once regarded as the next Ronaldo, could be making a comeback in Perth next month. The retired Serie A player is expected to be the headline act of an impressive cast of former professional players who turn out at the MiniFootball World Cup at Langley Park from 1-11 October.
Brazilian teammates Renato Abreu and Gabriel Gubela, Jermaine Jones (United States), Marcos Gonzalez (Chile) and Mykola Ishchenko (Ukraine) are also expected to be amongst the 800 players from 32 countries at the competition. The reigning champions are the Czech Republic, who are the early favourites ahead of Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, South African, Japan and Australia.
Perth-based president of the Australian MiniFootball Federation, Miguel Maron, said the format was “like Big Bash for soccer”. MiniFootball features six players on each team who contest two 25-minute halves on a 50m x 30m pitch. Otherwise, the rules are the same as regular football.
“It’s high scoring and fast,” Maron said. “They (spectators) are not going to get bored. They are going to see a lot of action, a lot of goals, a lot of plays. It is a non-stop game. You have to be super fit to play it.”
Maron says about 50,000 people play the game in Perth, with well-established venues in Wanneroo, Wembley, Victoria Park and Cockburn. “It’s huge in Mexico and in Sydney where there are fields everywhere,” he said. “In Europe now, indoor football is not as popular as this.”
Central midfielder Kevin Ashwood is West Australia’s sole representative in the Australian side. A former Cambridge United and West Ham youth footballer who moved to Perth five years ago, Ashwood played with Western Knights, helping steer them to a State League title before focusing on MiniFootball.
“I love the small side of the game,” Ashwood said. “It is so intense. Your touch has to improve, your control. You get found out if you are cheating. You haven’t got 10 lads behind you, you only have five. Tactically, it’s pretty much the same as 11-a-side. You’ll have teams that sit in and hit you on the break and you’ll have other teams that are all-out attack.”
Eight groups of four teams will play each other for the Cup, with the top two progressing to the knockout stage. Australia is in Group A with Colombia, India and Thailand, and hoping to improve on a quarterfinal placing in Tunisia.
SALARY CAP SCANDAL 'WAS COMPLETE BULLSHIT': JAMIESON
As a salary cap scandal threatened to shatter Perth Glory's stunning season four years ago, players were still being told it was all lies... and then their world came crashing down. New installed head coach Kenny Lowe had pulled together a campaign-winning squad for the 2014/15 season, including new signings Andy Keogh, Danny Vukovic and Youssouf Hersi.
The players quickly gelled as a group and reached the FFA Cup final before taking a runaway lead in the league. But as news of a possible salary cap rort started to break, the club insisted there was nothing to worry – despite all the evidence to the contrary. "It was complete bullshit," former Glory fullback Scott Jamieson tells the FTBL Podcast.
"We kept getting told to our faces by Jason Brewer, the CEO at the time, that there's nothing wrong. But where there's smoke, there's fire. There were some big personalities there at the time like myself – I'm a small man but with a big personality – but also Vuka and Jake Burns. We kept believing them until the time we got the summons in the morning and we were told."
Illicit payments outside the salary to Keogh had been uncovered in a $400,000 rort, with the FFA banning Glory from the finals with a mandatory seventh place finish to the season and fining them $269,000. The blow was soul-destroying for the players. "It was like the Melbourne Storm (NRL's salary cap scandal)," says Jamieson.
"I can totally relate to watching that on TV, getting the popcorn and thinking, 'This is juicy. Then flip that and I was in it – and I was fuming. You work hard and you have people that have the power and the responsibility to look after first of all the football club - but also the individuals... and that didn't happen. It was devastating."
Players feared the scandal would be the final straw for fans already fed up with Glory's management and owner Tony Sage, and expected a near empty stadium for the first match after the rort was confirmed. Instead though, thousands turned out in a show of support.
"I thought this would be the final nail in the coffin," admits Jamieson. "But there was a good turnout and I think that's why this club has a good chance of fulfilling its potential. Because, after everything that this club has done to its fans, you still want to turn up and watch."
Although all the focus was on Keogh for the payments made to him and his family which were central to the scandal, Jamieson says no-one blamed him personally within the playing group. "I only found out later that Keogh was involved and had no issue with him," he says. "I didn't know of anyone getting angry with Keogh."
"I don't know if he knew and it was none of my business if he was getting paid illegally. It is what it is. We all get paid and whether you know you're getting paid legally or not, it is the club that brings that to you. If I saw him now, I'd have a laugh with him and tell him he cost Perth Glory my services."
In the wake of the scandal, Jamieson ended his contract with Glory early to move back to Sydney and join Western Sydney Wanderers. "It was a chance to work with Tony Popovic and return to my hometown where I grew up," he explains. "But also there were so many broken promises and I just didn't see how I could believe the club."
"I have no bad things to say about anyone who works here now. I didn't have anything bad to say about Sage. He put his trust in people and whether he was a part of it, I don't know – but I don't have anything bad to say about him. But it came to a point where as much as I want to thank the fans and stay, there's so much been said to me that they don't know that yes, it was absolute... it's time to go."
BELT UP AMATEUR LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION - ROUND TWENTY ONE REVIEW
Kingsley were presented the 2019 Belt-Up Amateur Premier Division trophy after they had beaten relegated Ellenbrook United 7-0 at the Ellenbrook Sports Hub on Saturday evening. Jayden Drummond opened the scoring with a good finish, before Joel Gillespie and Aaron Lickiss made it 3-0 at half time. Gillespie added two more after the break, while Jesse Higgins and Bailey Salmon rounding out the scoring. “Ellenbrook had a pretty young side out on the park, credit to them they never gave up and hope the best for them next season,” Kingsley’s Josh Waldock explained. “You don’t get to play in many games where you know you’ve won the league and can go out and enjoy it. In the back of the heads though, we know we still have one more job to tick off with the cup final in two weeks. It was a great night for the club receiving the league trophy with the reserves winning the league to, but the season isn’t over, we will focus on our final league game next week and we want to go back to back in the cup.”
Quinns have wrapped up second spot after an entertaining 2-1 win against Joondalup United at Gumblossom Park. "Joondalup never gave up and kept the pressure on scoring and having a couple of chances late on," Quinns coach Lee Garnish said. "But very pleased with the result confirming second place in the league in our first season in the premier, the boys have worked hard and deserve all the praise." It was a tight first half with both sides defending well, the best chance went to the visitors Ryan Williams' shot cleared off the line by Tom Ashworth. But after the break it was the home side who opened the scoring, Ashworth getting on the end of a free kick to head home. Joondalup hit back and Sam Davies' effort was well saved by Frazer Imrie, before Williams' long-range shot flashed over the top.
Andrew Toomath then produced a great save as Quinns pressed for a second, but he was beaten again moments later, Liam Hunt's shot from outside of the penalty area beat the Joondalup custodian. But Joondalup weren’t finished and they pulled one back when Chris Boyle headed home Liam Fryer's corner. It was game on and both sides had late chances in a great game of football. First Liam McManus' shot was superbly saved by Joondalup keeper Toomath, before Adam Gianassi low shot was well saved by Quinns keeper Imrie and Kitson Catalfamo blazed over the top when well placed. "I was happy with the football we played, and I thought it was a good game for the spectators with both sides having chances," Joondalup coach Ben Williams said. "Quinns were more clinical and that has hurt us a number of times this year we just lack the killer instinct in front of goal and that seems to hurt is in the close games."
Jaguar remain third, but they came home from Kelly Park empty-handed after losing 2-1 to Kwinana United. It was Kwinana on the front foot early and created a number of early chances, but the woodwork came to the rescue of Jags on two occasions. But they did open the scoring when the referee pointed to the spot, and Shane Nunes converted the resulting penalty. After the break Jags started to take control and they had Kwinana on the back foot and had the perfect opportunity to level when they were awarded a penalty, but Kwinana keeper Jack Adams saved it. But two minutes from Jags did find the equaliser and it looked like the points would be shared but in injury time Lee Bates won it for Kwinana to give coach Mark Purvis his first win in the role. "I thought we deserved the lead at half time, but Jags are a good side and we knew they would come back at us," Mark Purvis said. "I thought it was a good game of football with both teams working incredibly hard, but the character we showed to go and get the win after conceding so close to the end was amazing - very proud of all the players."
Leeming Strikers produced one of their best performances of the season to beat North Perth United 4-1 at John Connell Reserve. They had to come from behind to win after Oscar Kelly's volley from the edge of the box on 12 minutes flew past Josh Blackman. The hosts battled back into the game and were rewarded on the stroke of half time, when referee David Bruce spotted a handball in the box and Ayden Evans converted to send the sides into the break all even. Leeming hit the front just after the hour mark when Evans was sent clear and he finished clinically past Jamie Serra. It was 3-1 when Lucas Pickering squared the ball to Ben Greaves, who scored, and the icing was put on the cake in the final minute when Evans completed his hat-trick to seal a comprehensive win. "Today was a really good win for us as we try to end the season on a high," Leeming player/coach David Palin said. "They (North Perth) haven't had the title defence they would have wanted but they've been there or there about last five-six-years, so to beat them was easily our best league win of the season."
Wembley Downs and Hamersley Rovers have fought out a 1-1 draw at Butlers Reserve. It was the visitors who were ahead on 20 minutes. Wembley lost possession on the right and Hamersley raced forward to score. Wembley pressed but couldn't convert their first half chances, and after playing some good football they wasted their opportunities in front of goal and went into the break 0-1 down. They did have the perfect opportunity to level early in the second half when they were awarded a penalty, but Juraj Galba's spot kick was well saved by the Hamersley keeper. It looked like it wasn't going to be Wembley's day but five minutes from time they found the equaliser. A long throw in to the penalty area found Dean Wall at the back post and he held off his marker and scored from six meters. "There strikers were always a threat, but we managed to limit their chances," Wembley's Jay McDonald said. "Again, our composure in front of goal has killed us and we’re disappointed not to get three points."
In the final game Belmont Villa have been relegated after they were thrashed 9-2 by UWA Nedlands at Gerry Archer Sports Complex. The visitors dominated the game and lead 4-1 at the break with Mitch Barrington bagged a hat-trick and another to Amir Khasanov. Barrington bagged another four in the second half with Jake Poller added another to give them their biggest win of the season. "It was a big game for Mitch and his seven goal has pushed his tally in his pursuit of the golden boot," UWA Coach Arthur Hiemstra said. "It was also great to have Jake finish his years with the club with a goal in his final match."
SILLA WINS IT FOR PERTH
Perth Soccer Club are the 2019 NPLWA Top Four Cup winners after a come-from-behind 2-1 win against Inglewood United at Perth Plasterboard Centre Stadium on Saturday afternoon. In front of a packed grandstand it was the hosts who dominated the first half and deservedly lead through skipper David Cyrus, but Perth levelled just before the hour mark with Michael Domfeh on target. It looked like going to extra time but in the final minute Perth defender Alex Silla, who missed Tuesday’s qualifying final due to the passing of his grandmother, fired home the winner to seal back-to-back Top Four Cup victories for Ramon Falzon and his team.
It was a great start to the game for the hosts, who beat Perth 3-1 in last week’s Major Semi-Final, and Harry Evans had Perth keeper Dejan Aleksic scrambled to his right to save on four minutes. Inglewood were well on top and Chok Dau blazed over when well placed, before the lively striker forced a good save from the alert Aleksic after he was sent clear by Brian Woodall. Perth were struggling to get a foot hold in the game, and Cyrus should have put Inglewood in front on the half hour. A corner from Evans wasn’t dealt with, the ball finding an unmarked Cyrus at the back post, but his effort from close-range failed to find the target.
The home supporters thought they had the lead on 42 minutes, Jason Barrera picked out Woodall in the penalty area, his first-time shot was stopped by Aleksic with a stunning reaction save. But from the resulting corner Inglewood did take the lead. Evans’ set-piece picked out Cyrus at the back post who headed home, much to the delight of the home faithful.
Perth were out of the blocks early in the second half and they were level on 54 minutes. Kristian Santich sent Niccolò Sabatini down the left and he whipped in a cross into the box and Domfeh rose highest to head past Alex Dunn. Inglewood lifted and Barrera’s audacious lob from long-range landed on top of the net for the hosts, while second half substitute Brian Farrell’s first-time shot was saved low by Aleksic. Santich was coming into his own, dominating the middle of the park, and his superb range of passes was there for the big crowd to see. Then on 82 minutes his racking pass sent Sabatini clear, and the Italians’ first-time volley was saved low by the alert Dunn.
Both sides were going for the winner and Inglewood’s Jamie Murphy’s mazy run ended with a shot that flashed just wide of the upright, before Perth substitute Frank Furfaro cross shot was pushed away by Dunn. It looked like the game was heading to extra time, but in the final minute Perth won it. Silla played a neat one-two with Aleks Jovic on the edge of the box, and raced into the box and finished low past Dunn to seal the win. It was a good day all round for Perth midfielder Kristian Santich, who was awarded the ‘Gary Marocchi Medal’ as the best player in the final.
Inglewood United: GK Alex DUNN, 2 Alex ISHIDA-LIVINGS, 3 David CYRUS, 8 Jason BARRERA (5 Samuel RIAK 72), 9 Chok DAU (4 Scott BLACKMORE 86), 10 Anthony BAFOBUSHA, 11 Harry EVANS (15 Brian FARRELL 62), 14 Steve SOKOL, 15 Brian FARRELL, 16 Jamie MURPHY, 17 Mark BARNETT, 23 Brian WOODALL - Subs not used: RGK Josiah GODFREY, 6 Miki VUJACIC, 7 Hamza HINA
Perth SC: GK: Dejan ALEKSIC, 2 Alex SILLA, 3 Andreas THEODOSIADES (17 Frank FURFARO 84), 5 Niccolò SABATINI, 6 Harley ORR, 12 Jordan DE LEO, 14 Kristian SANTICH, 16 Kieran COLWELL, 18 Michael DOMFEH, 19. Bojan RADINOVIC, 20 Paul ZIMARINO (7 Aleks JOVIC 54) - Subs not used: RGK: Adrian SINAGRA, 9 Gustavo CATARCIONE, 13 Rocco PIZZATA - Referee: Matthew Southern
CRANE LIFTS PERTH TO WIN
Perth Soccer Club have produced a great defensive display to beat league winners Perth Glory 3-1 in the Top Five Cup Final at Perth Plasterboard Centre Stadium. After holding off a rampant Glory in the opening twenty minutes, Perth hit back and were clinical in front of goal with skipper and man of the match Lennon Crane on target, and they added a second in the shadows of half time through Leigh Morgan. Glory found a lifeline on the hour with Liam Murray on target, but Perth weren’t to be pegged back and three minutes from time Jayden Gorman added a third to win it for the Azzurri and deny Glory the treble.
It was Glory who opened the brighter and after good approach work from Mason Tatafu and Tyler Vecchio, the latter slipping the ball through to Ciaran Bramwell, whose effort drifted inches past the post. They were in again on the quarter hour, Albert Fullard sent Sasa Njegic into the penalty area, but Perth keeper Adrian Sinagra got down well to save at his near post. Then from the resulting corner Bramwell headed against the crossbar, as the Glory peppered the Perth goal. But against the run of play it was Perth SC who opened the scoring on 27 minutes.
A ball into the penalty area came out to Crane, who was given far too much room on the edge of the penalty area and he finished clinically past Jacob Range. Glory continued to dictate terms and Bramwell saw his effort cleared off the line by Orton Raumati, before Charlie Leech smacked the base of the post with a shot two minutes from the break. Perth were defending desperately, and that was rewarded in the final minute when they doubled their advantage. Gorman’s corner from the left picked out Morgan, who lost his marker to home and send them into half time with a 2-0 lead.
Glory were again on the front foot after the break, Leech’s snap shot was saved low by Sinagra, and their early pressure was rewarded on the hour. Second half substitute Murray was brought down on the edge of the penalty area and he picked himself up and fired home the resulting free kick past Sinagra to give Glory a lifeline. Murray, who had scored a hat-trick in their State League Reserves Cup Final win earlier in the season, was a constant threat and his goal bound shot on 68 minutes was blocked some more desperate defending by the Perth backline.
Then two minutes later Jayden Leader’s long-range strike was well saved by Sinagra, and it looked only a matter of time before Glory levelled, but Perth weren’t to be beaten. With Glory pushing players forward they starting to get caught out at the back and Morgan’s shot was saved low by Range, before Gorman raced in on goal, but the Glory custodian stood tall to deny him. But three minutes from time Perth found the decisive third goal. Sheperd Chivambe’s shot was saved low by Range, the ball rebounding to Gorman who fired home from eight meters.
Perth Glory: GK Jacob RANGE, 2 Nicholas MCDONALD, 3 Albert FULLARD, 5 Mason TATAFU, 6 Jayden LEADER (15 Mitch SMITH 90), 7 Bryce BAFFORD, 8 Jordan ABRAHAMS, 9 Ciaran BRAMWELL (12 Christian BELLADONNA 75), 10 Sasa NJEGIC (13 Liam MURRAY 57), 11 Charlie LEECH, 14 Jacob MUIR - Subs not used: 4 Aidan COYNE, 20 Keegan GRANT
Perth Soccer Club: GK Adrian SINAGRA, 3 Nicholas MESSINA, 6 Jason PETRIE, 8 Lennon CRANE, 9 Leigh MORGAN (4 Adam BUCKINGHAM 81), 10 Orton RAUMATI, 12 Jawad REZAI (21 Sheperd CHIVAMBE 63), 14 Oscar HEANEY, 18 Luke GARAS (7 Tommy COYLE 90), 19 Jayden GORMAN, 20 William NICHOLSON - Subs not used: GK Ben RATAJCZAK, 5 William GORDON - Referee: Arvin Shanmuganathan
PERTH THE RAUL DEAL
Perth Soccer have won the NPLWA under 18’s Top Four Cup Final after a comprehensive 5-0 win against Stirling Lion at Perth Plasterboard Centre Stadium on Saturday morning. First half goals from Alex McLean and JoJo Parise set up the win, with a second half brace from man of the match Raul Pereira and another from substitute Matt Di Virgilio sealed the win for Tony Di Toro’s side.
Both these sides finished level on points at the end of the regular season, and It was an even start to the game with both sides going close early. First Jordan Nikolajevic shot on the run was straight at Lions’ keeper Damian Damjanoski. Moments later Stirling’s striker Ben Rutter burst into the penalty area at the other, but Liam Anderson got back with a superb last-ditch tackle.
But on 22 minutes it was Perth who hit the front. Shaun Mukwevho made space down the left and whipped in a perfect cross for McClean, whose bullet like header flew into the net giving Damjanoski no chance. They doubled their lead ten minutes later. A great through ball from Pereira sent Parise clear down the right channel, and his pace took him clear of his marker, before cutting inside the box and finishing clinically. Stirling pressed late in the half as they looked for a goal to get back into the game, the best chance fell to Dimitrij Blazeski, who long-range shot flew over the top.
It was more of the same after the break, the Lions struggled to break down a tight defence well marshalled by Anderson and Lachlan Bryd, and it wasn’t a surprise when Perth added a third on 57 minutes. A cross from the left picked out Pereira, whose looping header gave the keeper no chance. Perth pressed looking for more and they deservedly added a fourth on 78 minutes. Pereira played Di Virgilio down the left and he cut inside his marker before finding the bottom corner of the net. Pereira capped off a great game by adding a fifth late in the game. A mazy run from Di Virgilio down the left saw him get to the bye line and cut the ball back to Pereira who made no mistake for his second to seal the win.
Stirling Lions: GK Damian DAMJANOSKI, 2 Shayan BAHMANI (6 Jethro HAAS 80), 3 Marvin ABDIPANAH, 7 Chad SAMUELS (61), 16 Joel ANASMO, 8 Joshua ANASMO 9 Ben RUTTER, 10 Dimitrij BLAZESKI, 11 Nabi ANGALO (15 Luca MACRI 77), 12 Ilija RAJCINOSKI, 13 Elijah HAAS, 14 Mou MARIA - Subs not used: RGK Paddy HUGHES, 5 Ben ELLIEF
Perth Soccer Club: GK Ben RATAJCZAK, 2 Luke MESSINA (16 Joe MOSS 69), 3 Liam ALDERSON, 4 Lachlan BYRD (C), 5 Alex MCLEAN, 9 Raul PEREIRA, 10 Jojo PARISE (58), 13 Jasper BOURCHIER, 12 Jordan NIKOLAJEVIC (19 Matt DI VIRGILIO 73), 14 Michael BOFFEY, 15 Shaun MUKWEVHO, 17 Giordano SPORTIELLO - Subs not used: RGK Rocco LIBERTI, 18 Sam FLORES - Referee: Adam Hicks
STATE LEAGUE DIVISION TWO, ROUND TWENTY TWO – REVIEW
The final piece of the State League Division Two jigsaw was put in place on Saturday with Swan United taking the fourth and final spot in the promotion/relegation playoffs. Both United and Balga went into Saturday's game still with a chance to make it through, and both sides won on the final day, but it was Paul Dundo's side taking their place in the two-leg elimination Semi-Final against Morley Windmills next weekend, while in the qualifying Semi-Final Murdoch University Melville take on Gosnells City. Swan went into Saturday's game against Gosnells City at Francis Street knowing a win would see them into the playoffs, but they without influential trio Aaron Colli, Liam Merigan and Jay Lang. But they started well and hit the front on the quarter hour, Brian Patterson's free kick into the box rebounded off the back post and Alen Patarov was quickest to react to fire home the rebound.
Both sides created chances in an entertaining game, but it was the Swans holding the advantage at the break. The home side needed a second goal to steady their nerves, and it came on the hour. John Monterosso was fouled on the edge of the penalty area and Patterson picked out the top corner of the net from the resulting free kick. They wrapped the points and a spot in the playoffs with a third 15 minutes later. Marco Trimboli got the flank and cut the ball back to Monterosso, who made no mistake from the edge of the box. "It was a solid win against a good Gosnells side, and it was even more impressive as we had a lot of key players out," Monterosso said. "But the boys that stepped in played very well and in the end, it was a comfortable performance to get us into top four."
Balga needed a win and hope Swan would slip up and they made a perfect start and were ahead after only four minutes. Kristian Despotovski was played in on goal and went one-on-one with the keeper, and the young striker made no mistake. It was 2-0 nine minutes later, Dejan Andric firing home, and they were three up on 37 minutes with Kris Spaseski on target. But Wanneroo hadn't read the script and they reduced the margin when Gareth Lloyd cross from the right was headed home by Chris Williams. They added a second before the break, with Alec Robinson pouncing on a loose ball in the box to fire home. But Balga hit back after the break and Bobby Ramic made it 4-2 on the hour, before Josh Conti added a fifth ten minutes later.
But with news from Swan filtering through, Spaseski bagged his second late on to make it 6-2, but it wasn’t to be for the home side and Wanneroo scored with the last kick of the game to make the final score 6-3, Williams racing through to curl the ball home for his second of the day. "I thought it was an entertaining game with two teams playing open attacking football with a ten-goal thriller," Balga coach Aleks Vrteski said. "The season had great challenges four us, a lot of highs, such as beating Inglewood in the FFA Cup, and then the disappointment of not making the playoffs. A lot of lessons learnt by a very young squad which will benefit us next season." Wanneroo coach Jesse Bridgeman said it wasn't the end of the season they were looking for. "The game was a bad way to end our season,” he said. “We got off to a very slow start and did well to get back into the game, then let ourselves down again not being able to deal with the long ball over the top.”
Murdoch University Melville warmed up for next week’s playoffs with a solid 4-0 win against Dianella White Eagles at Dianella Reserve. The visitors were ahead when a long throw picked out 19-year-old Kai Jones, who made no mistake. It was 2-0 after some neat build up play down the right, ended with Grant Mowatt and his effort beat the Dianella keeper. It was 3-0 at half time, after Adrian Ciampini bagged his eighth goal in the last four games. In the second half Melville brought on 15-year-old Sam Cook, another product of the clubs’ youth teams, and he added the fourth, finishing from close-range, after great work on the left by Ryan Tucker. They went close to a fifth late, when another young substitute, Daniel Davey's quick feet and a clever lob hit the crossbar. “It was a very good performance, especially as we shuffled the pack and gave a number of younger players a chance," Murdoch University Melville Coach Gavin Brown said. "The average age of the squad was 21.5, and we created a lot of chances and looked solid at the back, so it was a great way to end the season. So Overall, we are delighted to have finished the season so strongly and look forward to the play offs starting next week."
The league Champions, Quinns FC, were presented with their trophy on Saturday after their 3-1 win against Curtin University at Gumblossom Park. But they had to come from behind in this one, with Chris Sutton giving the visitors the lead early. But they restored parity after great work on the right from Brent Quick, who delivered a great ball to the back post where Matthew Blake rose highest and nodded down to Guy McDonald who had timed his run well and he finished clinically. After half time Quinns took control and once again young Hugo Snowden came off the bench, and this week he turned provider. The 16-year-old scored last week and this week he picked the ball up about 25 yards out and shaped to shoot but instead he played a fantastic pass inside the full back and Brent Quick dispatched a great first time shot across the keeper.
The points were made safe when after some great work from Blake on the left Quinns were awarded a free kick on the left. Joe McQuade took the free kick and delivered perfected weighted ball which Alex Sallery finished well to seal the win. “Great to finish the season on a high, the boys have been superb this year, and their commitment has been first class and it has shown on the park,” Quinns assistant coach John Lavery said. “Curtin came to ruin our celebrations on Saturday and they started well and took the lead, but we then got a hold of the game and created lots of chances. Thankfully we converted enough of them to win the game and get the result. Again, this week we had four under 18’s involved and an under 16, we are delighted with the talent coming through our youth teams.”
Joondalup City finished their season with a hard fought 3-2 win against Kelmscott Roos at the Iluka Sports Complex. "I thought we totally dominated possession in the first half, but we missed a number of chances and two mistakes at the back cost us," Joondalup Coach Nigel Smith said. "But second half we came out strong kept pressing Kelmscott and we got our rewards, and I thought we deserved the win played some good football to end the season on a high and finish mid table." It was the visitors who were ahead when My Ibrahima played a great through ball to Adan Hoody, who held off his marker and finished clinically past the oncoming keeper. Joondalup were guilty of missing some good chances in the first half and they were punished again before the break with Kelmscott doubling their lead. A ball into the box found Lemeo Wordu, who was given far too much room and he finished well past the keeper.
The home side were out of the blocks early in the second half and they pulled one back, with Liam McGurk firing home. It was still a tight game, but it was Joondalup who levelled on 75 minutes. A free kick into the penalty area found Liam Peacock, who lost his marker and volleyed home. Then five minutes from time the home side won it, when Sam Rawlings was brought down in the box and the referee pointed straight to the spot. McGurk stepped up to score his second goal of the game from the resulting penalty. "I thought we played well but some strange officiating killed the game for us," Kelmscott coach Richard Changadzo said. "We lost three players to injuries which the referee waved play on to, which was disappointing, but well done to Joondalup they played well."
In the final game relegation threatened Canning City finished the season on a high with a 2-0 win against the inform Shamrock Rovers at Burrendah Reserve. Canning must now wait and see what Football West is going do with the relegation position, as it's all been put in the air with South West Phoenix dropping out of the state league, the decision should be made next week. In this one the hosts were ahead when Charlie Parry received a ball on the left and cut inside his marker and played in Ante Jukic who turned and fired home from just outside the box. The points were wrapped up when Jukic found Parry out on the left who beat his man and slid the ball across the face of goal for Oliver Dahlskog to finish.
GLORY TRIO TRAVEL TO UK WITH JOEYS
Perth Glory trio Daniel Walsh, Trent Ostler and Josh Rawlins were all part of the Joeys under 17’s side that travelled to England last week to take on the host nation, Brazil and Korea in a Four Nations Tournament. It all started against England with Ostler and Rawlins in the starting line up with Walsh on the bench, and the competition started with a bang for Ostler, scoring in the game, but his heroics weren’t enough to help Trevor Morgan's side to victory, the Green and Gold going down 3-2.
It started well for Joeys and they were ahead on five minutes, with Hoffenheim’s Noah Botic converting from the penalty spot. But England levelled when Nottingham Forest youngster Alex Mighten finished past Ahmad Taleb, who did get a hand to it. Australia were dangerous on the counter attack and caused the home defence problems, but the home side went close with Manchester City's Ben Knight clipping the crossbar, before Fulham's Fabio De Carvalho and Chelsea's Lewis Bate were denied by Joeys custodian Taleb.
But on 36 minutes England hit the front, with Mighten producing a great solo run, before finishing clinically from the angle. Both sides had early chances after the break, Knight going close for the hosts, while Tristian Hammond fired one inches past the post for the Joeys. But the Three Lions added a third midway through the second half, after a storming run from Liverpool youngster Layton Stewart, who picked out Mighten who scored to complete his hat trick.
Ostler made it a tight last few minutes when he pulled one back for the Joeys. A neat through ball sent the Pacey winger clear and he beat substitute keeper Nathan Broome to the ball and stabbed the ball into an empty net. They almost levelled late but Melbourne Victory's Birkan Kirdar's effort flashed wide, while Taleb continued his outstanding form producing good saves to deny substitutes’ Morgan Rogers and Joe Gelhardt.
In the second game against Korea, it was a huge night for Glory central defender Walsh, who was handed the captains armband. The Joeys led 3-1 at half time but Korea hit back after the break to level, but the Joeys won in the penalty shoot-out. In the final game against Brazil the youngsters were beaten 0-4, Ostler started, with Walsh coming on in the second half and Rawlins came on late. The trio will hopefully be selected in the side for the FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil which will be held in Brazil from 26 October to 17 November 2019, the squad will be announced soon – Good look to the lads if they are selected in the squad.
CYRUS CONFIDENT OF TAMING PERTH
Inglewood United captain David Cyrus is backing his side to muzzle the “big dogs” of Perth SC in Saturday’s Top Four Cup Final. Inglewood won their final three matches of the NPL season to finish in second place, an outstanding performance after appointing head coach Andres Oliveira just days before the start of the season.
Then in the first weekend of the Top Four Cup, they went to the home of league champions Perth and recorded a 3-1 victory to book their place in this Saturday’s decider. Now a repeat result against the Azzurri at their own Perth Plasterboard Centre Stadium would be the icing on the cake for United.
“The boys have done outstanding at the back end of the year and with us getting second, it’s just boosted the morale around the camp. It’s brilliant, everyone’s in good spirits, we have a fully fit squad... we’ll give it a good go,” Cyrus said.
The upheaval at the beginning of the campaign could have derailed Inglewood’s campaign and a 3-0 home loss to Bayswater City in Round One suggested they were in for a long winter. But Cyrus says it was no surprise that they sorted themselves out. “I won’t say surprised, I don’t think that’s the right word,” he said.
“We knew we had the squad for it, it was just whether it was going to mould. That’s what your pre-season and your Night Series is for, it’s to become a squad and understand each other. That was the hardest thing, getting a new coach and understanding the way he wanted us to play. But he came on board and understood us and we’ve managed to get second, which is unbelievable.”
Perth reached the final with an extra-time win over Floreat on Tuesday and captain Francis Soale said: “It’s amazing what this club has achieved in the last four years but our hunger has only increased with every trophy we’ve won. “We showed that (on Tuesday). Floreat really brought it to us for 120 minutes and we showed we’re still the big dogs.”
Soale, who missed Tuesday’s Preliminary Final through injury, is confident of being declared fit for Saturday. And he insisted having to battle through extra time will not have a detrimental effect on their performance. “We probably take more from the game, I think it’ll galvanise us,” he said.
“We definitely performed better than we did on Saturday (when losing to Inglewood), we had a few extra guys back. Everyone’s in good form going into this game. We’re pretty confident in our fitness levels and have been for the last couple of years. The fitness side of it won’t be an issue - it’s probably almost good or us to get that full, hard 120 minutes in before this week.”
Cyrus is also happy that it was Perth and not Inglewood who had to play the extra match. Asked how it was having a free midweek, the Grenada international said: “Brilliant, that was the last thing we wanted, to be playing on a humid Tuesday night!” All three Top Four Cup finals will be livestreamed on the Football West Facebook and YouTube pages.
NPL-WA TOP FOUR CUP GRAND FINAL - PREVIEW
It's the showpiece of WA football on Saturday afternoon when Inglewood United host Perth SC in the Football West NPL Belt-Up Top Four Grand Final at Perth Plasterboard Centre Stadium. Inglewood won their spot in Saturday's game thanks to a 3-1 win at Perth in the Major Semi-Final last weekend, while Niccolò Sabatini scored in the final minute of extra time to seal a 2-1 win against Floreat Athena in Tuesday's qualifying final to book their spot in Saturday's finale to the NPL season.
Inglewood have been the form team of the NPLWA over the past month and will go into the game as favourites, but last season's top four Cup winners Perth are in the same position as last year. They won the league and were beaten by Perth Glory in the Major Semi-Final, but rebounded to beat them in the Grand Final, so it's all to play and it should be a great game.
Inglewood winger Steve Sokol has been on fire in recent weeks in front of goal, and he said it’s been a great season for the club. “Yes, it's been a really good season overall, and I think we've surprised a lot of people,” he said. “We have a good mix of youth and experience amongst the players, and everyone has worked hard for each other and their own spot throughout the season. Andres (Oliveira) had to come in and he really stepped up everyone's intensity and focus in training which has translated into our performances each week.”
After struggling to get a spot in the starting line up earlier in the season, Sokol is now one of the first on the team sheet for coach, but he said it’s been a team effort and he’s been happy to contribute over the past month. “It's definitely pleasing to be scoring again, but this season has always been about helping the team win,” he explained. “It can take time coming into a new team and settling in, and that's all it was for me earlier in the season playing in a new position and new system under Andres. Hopefully I'll continue this form of scoring in the final on Saturday and help the team to get the win.”
Sokol is sure Perth will be looking to get one back on them after beating them in the Major Semi-Final, but he said the players are looking forward to the challenge. “Saturday is definitely a massive game for the club and our season,” he said. “All the players know what it means for Inglewood, and I’m sure Perth will be up for it, but we're feeling confident of going out and pulling off another upset.”
Perth skipper Harley Orr was again been a standout in the middle of the park for Perth and he said it was great to go back-to-back league titles. 'Yes, it was another fantastic season for the club and the players, and it was special to go back-to-back," he explained. "The lads have been terrific from the first game to the last we were just on another level and it was pleasure being able to be part of it. The desire and dedication from everyone involved at the club is great to see and we hope to cap it off on Saturday."
The skipper said defeat against Inglewood in the Major Semi-Final was disappointing, but they showed great resolve to beat Floreat to qualify for Saturday's game. "Yes, it was very disappointing to lose to Inglewood, but again we showed great desire to bounce back straight away against Floreat," Orr said. "To be fair the win was a relief and a great feeling, and to for us to run out the full 120 minutes was a great credit to the boys and I thought we really did deserve to get the result."
Orr said Saturday will be another huge test against a team who have been in good form over the past month, but it a challenge they are looking forward too. "It's a big day in WA football and a chance for us to do the double back-to-back," he said. "The boys are really going be up for it and there's a lot to play for since they beat us last Saturday, so we can't wait to have another crack at them." It’s a big day of football on Saturday, and it all starts at 10,00am with the under 18’s Top Four final, which sees Perth SC taking on Stirling Lions, while in the under 20’s Top Four final at 12.15am Perth Glory meet Perth SC – Get along and watch all three games
STATE LEAGUE DIVISION TWO, ROUND TWENTY TWO – PREVIEW
It's the final round of the State League Division Two season, and there is still one spot up for grabs in the playoffs with Swan United and Balga fighting it out for the fourth spot. Balga missed a great opportunity to get their noses in front after they were beaten 5-0 by Joondalup City on Wednesday in their round one catch-up game, meaning they now need Gosnells to get a result today, and then get three points at home against Wanneroo City to pip the black and whites.
The footballwa.net 'Match of the Round' is the clash at Francis Street, where Swan United host Gosnells City. Both sides’ go into this game after indifferent results last week, Gosnells throw a two-goal lead away to draw at home to Joondalup City, while Swan came home from Wanneroo with a hard fought 2-1 win to keep their playoff hopes alive. The last time these two sides met at the venue as in round 20 last season, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
Swan striker John Monterosso said the win at Wanneroo was massive especially after going down to ten men, but there last few games have been big as they look for a spot in the playoffs. "We've been playing a cup final every game for a few weeks now, and it will be more of the same on Saturday," he said. "At Wanneroo we had to dig deep after going down to ten men early, so coming away with a win was a great result for us, and one we defiantly needed and it's now set us up a top four finish."
The striker said a win on Saturday will see them into the playoffs, and he said it's a little déjà vu as they were in the same position last season. "The equation now is simple, a win on Saturday and were in the top four," he explained. "But we know Gosnells will do all they can to spoil the party, but we've been in this position before in previous seasons with everything on the line and come through, so it's going to make for another great game, we're really looking forward to it."
Gosnells winger Feisal Zaw said the draw against Joondalup was disappointing, and they should have put the game to bed in the first half. “Yes, we definitely should've ran away with that one, and I think it was one of our poorer performances for sure,” he explained. “But I think we just got complacent and didn't show our opponents enough respect in the second half and they deserved the draw in the end.”
Zaw, who was playing in the NPL last season at Inglewood, said they need to go to Swan on Saturday and get a result to go into the finals with some momentum. “Even with our league position cemented in second we can't take opposition in and around us lightly,” he said. “Psychologically, you want to be beating teams potentially in the play offs picture so we can carry that form onwards. They definitely won't make it easy for us though, especially up at Swan.”
Balga entertain Wanneroo City on Saturday at Princess Road Reserve in a must win game. They now need to get a result against Jesse Bridgeman's side, and then hope Gosnells can get a positive result at Swan if they are to get in the playoffs. The loss against Joondalup City has made it harder for Balga, and defender Zoki Vrteski said it was a disappointing night for the team. "It was a tough game against a good opponent, and we always knew it wouldn’t be easy coming back off a night game against Curtin over the weekend including a couple of injuries and suspensions,” he explained. “None the less we don’t have time to dwell on the result from last night as we still are a chance of play-offs.”
They go into Saturday’s game without influential player Hermon Michael, who was sent off against Joondalup, and Vrteski said they can't do anything about the Swan result, all they can do is get a result against Wanneroo and see what happens. "The boys have to give it all they got to get a result against Wanneroo,” he said. “That’s all we can do and the rest will be decided by the football gods.”
In other games Champions Quinns entertain Curtin University at Gumblossom Park, and they will be looking to maintain their perfect home record, after winning all their ten games so far this season, while Curtin will be looking to end a two-game losing streak. Relegated Canning City will also be looking to end their stay in the state league with a win when they entertain Shamrock Rovers at Burrendah Reserve. Rovers on the other hand are on a good run of form which has seen them go unbeaten in the last seven games. Dianella White Eagles will be looking to end a disappointing season with a win when they host Murdoch University Melville at Dianella Reserve.
In the final game Joondalup City, who this week announced an academy partnership between themselves and English Premier League side Everton, entertain Kelmscott Roos at the Iluka Sports Complex. City are ending the season well, a draw at Gosnells last week, and a big win against Balga on Wednesday has seen them jump to eighth. On Wednesday evening Josh Chivell opened the scoring from a corner with a great header into the roof of the net from six meters. Balga lifted after that and were unlucky not to score but at the break Joondalup led. But the home side came out strong and Luke Doyle scored a free kick into the top corner from 20 meters to double their lead. It was soon 3-0 Liam McGurk firing home from 10 meters.
Joondalup made it 4-0 with a quality finish from Devon Rindel, after good approach work down the right and added a fifth when Sam Rawlings got in behind the Balga defence before finishing well. “Balga were unlucky not to score coming close on a couple of occasions, they also had a penalty saved by Mark McKane, Joondalup Coach Nigel Smith said. “We were very pleased, out first clean sheet off the season, which topped off probably our best performance by the players.” Smith said they hope to end the season on a high on Saturday but is expecting a tough game. “Hopefully we can push on and keep the good form going which goes back to the Swan game, which we lost, but played very well,” he explained. “Kelmscott will be a tough physical battle hopefully we can match them, play the football that we know we’re capable of and end on a high with a bit of consistency in our game.”
BELT UP AMATEUR LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION - ROUND TWENTY ONE PREVIEW
It's week 21 of the Belt-Up Amateur Premier Division and our 'Match of the Round' takes us to John Connell Reserve on Sunday afternoon, where Leeming Strikers entertain North Perth United. The home side were beaten at Champions Kingsley last week, while North Perth were held to scoreless draw at home by Wembley Downs. The last time these sides met at the venue in the league was in round 17 last season when they fought out a 1-1 draw. The visitors opened the scoring on the half hour through Oscar Kelly and it looked like the points would be heading to North Perth but in the final minute David Palin levelled.
Leeming forward Ayden Evans said the loss at Kingsley though disappointing, they did have early chances that they failed to take. “It was a tough loss just like any but I think we really controlled the first half, we had the better chances and moved the ball well,” he explained. “But credit to Kingsley they kept doing what they do and, in the end, they took their chances.”
Evans, who is the leagues top goalscorer, said his team mates have been great this season and luckily, he’s been on the end of their good work. “To be fair I had a rough start to the season, but we have a top group of lads who have all supported each other so that has defiantly helped,” he explained. “The leading scorer is still a close one with a few of us so hopefully I can still keep adding to my tally in the last two games.”
He knows Sunday will be a tough challenge, but it’s one they are looking forward too after a disappointing result against them last time out. “It will be a tough game again, last time we played them (North Perth) we didn’t turn up at all and the score line showed, so I’m sure we will all come out with a point to prove,” Evans said. “With the season coming to an end we are all just enjoying what’s left and building as a team. We have played well lately and we will be looking to carry on going into this one.”
North Perth keeper Jamie Serra has been outstanding between the sticks, and he was vital as they draw against Wembley last week, a game both sides could have won. “Yes, it was a tough game against Wembley on Sunday, but I thought both teams were forced into playing a scrappy brand of football which made things difficult,” he explained. “Both teams certainly had opportunities to take the lead but just couldn’t find the back of the net so we had to settle for s point.”
It’s not been the season North Perth were hoping for, but Serra said they are hoping to end the season with two good performance. “We had set goals at the start of the season and we are not where we wanted to be with two games to go,” he said. “The half way point of the season was real defining for us as we lost a lot of players at once to holidays and we ran into great opposition at the time where we couldn’t compete. We’re just looking to try and finish the season strong and end on a positive leading into next year.”
That starts against Leeming on Sunday, and Serra said with a number of players back in the squad they head their full of confidence. “They (Leeming) have always been a tough task at their ground so we know it will be a test,” he said. “But we’re just looking to go there and take our recent form, and with players back and competing for places, hopefully we can come away with a result.”
After taking out the title last week Kingsley won’t be taking their foot of the pedal this week when they travel to Jack Mann Oval to take on Ellenbrook United on Saturday evening (6.00pm). United are coming off their first win of the season against Belmont last week, but they will face a Kingsley side who want to end the season well. Winger Jayden Drummond said to win the league was a great credit to the players and coaching staff. “It was an unreal feeling, something that has been a long time coming for a few of us but credit must go to Dima and Monty for their hard work over the recent years for getting us in this position,” he explained.
“We went into the Leeming game knowing if we could get the win there was always a chance of Jags taking points off Quinns, but we didn’t change anything going into the game and we got a nice early goal. The second half we came out stronger and once we got the second we knew a third would come, then we were left waiting on the pitch while the lads had a live stream from Jags v Quinns waiting for their whistle, a huge cheer up at the club rooms sent us into ecstasy onto the pitch and the celebrations began.”
But Drummond said their focus now is finishing the season off well and taking out the cup in a couple of weeks, which would cap off a great season. “We’ve trained well this week and its business as usual,” he said. “We won’t be taking our foot off the pedal against Ellenbrook we need to keep playing our brand of football, we need to take care of business in the league, with all eyes on the cup final later in the month.”
In other games Kwinana United entertain Jaguar at Kelly Park on Sunday, Belmont Villa host UWA Nedlands at Gerry Archer Sports Complex, while Wembley Downs take on Hamersley Rovers at Butlers Reserve. The hosts were held to a scoreless draw at North Perth last week and skipper Jay McDonald said they had their chances but failed to take them. “I thought it was a good game to play in even though the score line makes it look like it was boring. We had some great chances to score but just couldn’t convert which has been much the story of our season” he explained. “It could have gone either way with North Perth hitting the post in the second half but after being thumped the week before we were happy with a clean sheet and to take a draw.”
Wembley will be pushing to finish the season well, with third spot still up for grabs, but McDonald said Hamersley have some dangerous players. “If we end up third, great, but we’re realistic and know there is a lot for us to improve on to get to that next level of winning trophies. We’ve had a couple of good spells in the season but it needs to be more consistent to be challenging at the top,” he said. “We know there’s a couple of Hammers players we need to keep an eye on this Sunday. I’ve just seen Billy Wright score a 30-yard screamer off a volley this week, so we’ll try not to give him a chance to repeat it. It’s our last home game of season and we want to finish off strong so will need to work as a unit to get a positive result.”
In the final game there is a local derby as Quinns host Joondalup United at Gumblossom Park on Saturday evening. (7.30pm) Quinns were held at Jags last week, while Joondalup won a hard-fought game with UWA Nedlands. It’s been a good first season in the Premier League for both clubs, and Joondalup’s Liam Fryer said they are enjoying the challenge week in and week out, but thought last week wasn’t their best performance. “We won last week, but it ended up being harder than it needed to be, to be honest,” he said. “It wasn't the best football we've put together this season but the lads dug in and got it over the line, which at this stage is the most important thing.”
Fryer said the Quinns game is huge and he believes they have learnt a lot in the season and after a slow start are starting to find some consistency and have held their own. “Leading on from that I think that ability to set up and be solid at times when it's not quite working up top has been a revelation this season and the lads in the back line are second to none in this league,” he explained. “We’ve had a settled team in the second half of the season, and that has seen a massive improvement from us. “Saturday night is a huge game, and I’m sure Quinns will be right up for it from the off and we need to be the same. But the mentality we've got in this squad at the moment is that we're capable of getting a result against anyone, so we'll be looking to upset them.”
SOCCEROOS STROLL PAST KUWAIT
Australia have kicked off their 2022 World Cup qualifying journey in style, defeating Kuwait 3-0. A brace from stand-in captain Mathew Leckie and Aaron Mooy's beautiful strike in the first half saw the Socceroos come away from Al Kuwait Sports Club Stadium with all three points.
It took just 7 minutes for the Socceroos to go ahead, Jackson Irvine's low drive across goal deflecting in off an unsuspecting Leckie. Australia doubled their lead in the 30th minute when Irvine nodded Aaron Mooy's corner over the defence to Leckie, who struck the ball home from point-blank range.
Adam Taggart teed up the third goal on 38 minutes, laying the ball off for Mooy to curl exquisitely into the top corner from 18-metres. Trent Sainsbury played a full game at the centre of defence with fellow West Australian Taggart spearheading the attack before being replaced in the 68th minute.
KERR CLOSE TO THIRD NWSL GOLDEN BOOT
Matildas captain Samantha Kerr was given an early birthday present as she netted a pair of clinical goals for Chicago Red Stars. The 26-year old attacker, who turns 26 today, guided Chicago to a much-needed 3-0 win over Houston Dash, ending a run of three-straight losses in the National Women's Soccer League.
Already the highest scorer in NWSL history, Kerr has now scored 15 goals in 17 league appearances this season for Chicago. And with one hand on a third consecutive NWSL Golden Boot, the West Australian talisman ensured her team remained in the title race with four games remaining.
Chicago currently sit third on the ladder, four points behind leaders Portland Thorns. Kerr netted 16 times in the league last year, and twelve months prior her 17-goal haul was enough to set the all-time NWSL record. It promises to be a thrilling race to the finish - both for the Red Stars and for Kerr to break her own record.
MCCRACKEN GETS STINT WITH SPANISH CLUB MALAGA
It’s one thing to travel almost 100km to and from school every day – but quite another to fly to the Costa Del Sol in Spain for soccer practice. Teenager Sean McCracken, who commutes 47km each way from his home in Rockingham to attend school in Queens Park, has been selected for a six-month stint at FC Malaga City, an elite international football academy in Almunecar for 16-18 year-olds.
McCracken’s ball-handling, positioning and knowledge of the game impressed scouts at recent trials in Brisbane, which was followed soon after by an invitation for McCracken to head to Spain’s south coast. “The academy is excited to have him on board and actually wanted him now, but we said no as we wanted Sean to finish school first,” dad Ian McCracken said. “They said he is technically very gifted.”
The young goalkeeper didn’t embrace the sport when he started with Armadale at age seven, but persevered and now thrives on “being in the zone”, training five days a week and playing for Subiaco AFC and West Perth Bears Futsal Club. His coach David Whalley’s advice to “go with a positive head space and enjoy the game” helped McCracken improve his game.
Next January McCracken will be living in a hotel with a 30-player squad, training twice a day and playing for FC Malaga City on Saturdays. He lists his career highlights so far as “being named the best player in the Inglewood United Under-13s and representing Western Australia in the 2017 Futsal Championships”. When asked how many saves he’s notched up, he answers: “In the thousands ... It’s just part of the routine.”
SAINSBURY: PSV WASN'T WORKING OUT FOR ME
Socceroo defender Trent Sainsbury has revealed his reasons for exiting the Eredivisie to move to Israel for his cub football during the off-season. The 27-year old is now tipped to take the armband for the Socceroos in this week's World Cup qualifier against Kuwait after Mark Milligan was ruled out by injury.
But today Sainsbury, capped 46 times by Australia, revealed he had walked away from the remaining two years on his three-year deal with Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven to take an apparent step down to join Maccabi Haifa. As the World Cup qualifiers loomed, the Socceroo knew he was going to have to move to keep his international career alive.
Sainsbury – who featured just six times for PSV last season – jumped at the chance to join fellow West Australian Nikita Rukavytsya at Maccabi. "PSV wasn't working out for me, getting minutes on the pitch, admitted Sainsbury today as he arrived in Kuwait for the match kicking off at 1.30am AEST on Wednesday.
"It's a great setup there, but at the same time, I gotta do what's best for me in my career. So moving to a club where I think I can get as many minutes as possible, and also play a European football, it's something I've always strive for. It's an important move for me." Australia commence their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign on Wednesday against Kuwait.
BELT UP AMATEUR LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION - ROUND TWENTY REVIEW
Kingsley have won the 2019 Belt Up Amateur Premier Division Champions, with two games to spare after a 3-0 victory over Leeming Strikers at Chichester Park. Leeming arrived in this one having bagging 23 goals in their last three games and they went close to the opener on seven minutes. Lucas Pickering found space out wide and his cross picked out Aydan Evans, whose effort hit the post and away to safety. After that early let off the hosts hit the front four minutes later, when Lee Thomas' corner picked out Simone Sichel who headed home. Jayden Drummond was a constant threat and he went close to a second, but fired wide, before Leeming again hit the woodwork. Ben Greaves’ cross found Danny McKenzie, who lost his marker but his header crashed off the crossbar and away to safety, but at half time Kingsley led 1-0. Sichel saw a second half effort cleared off the line early, but on the hour, they found a decisive second goal. Second half substitute Ryan Brown's pin-point cross picked out Drummond who made no mistake heading past Josh Blackman, who had replaced an injured Jordan Jones midway through the first half.
They added a third five minutes from time, Lewis Flatt's through ball sent Joel Gillespie clear, and he finished well, to seal the title and see Kingsley playing in State League Division Two next season. "The lads were brilliant today, knowing what was up for grabs with a win they put in a great performance against good Leeming side who came to spoil our party, but all credit goes to my boys who never showed any signs of nerves and ran out comfortable 3-0 winners," Kingsley Coach Steven Dimitrovich said. "What a season it has been, this is what we have trained and played for all year to win the league and take the next step and progress to state league football it’s been a body of work over 3 years and I couldn’t be prouder of the players and the club as a whole who have been vested in this group for so long. We will now enjoy the last two league games but will also use them as we get ready for the cup final and try finish the season by doing the double."
The only team who could have stopped Kingsley was Quinns, but they drew 3-3 at Jaguar to hand the title to Kingsley. "It was a hard-fought game in warm conditions, and both teams wanted the win and the game was open," Quinns Coach Lee Garnish said. "We had our chances, but couldn’t finish the game off." The hosts were on top early and had a couple of good chances. First Paul Sopp cut the ball back to Akuei Guot but the winger miss kicked his shot with the goal at his mercy. Moments later Gojam Nyuon played in Sopp, but his shot hit the side net. But it was Quinns who hit the front, Liam Hunt cross found Ryan McCready, whose diving header found the net. But things went from bad to worse for the home side when Akuei Guot was sent off after an altercation with a Quinns player after he was brought down. But from the resulting Juma Wade's free kick the Jags levelled, with Akech Deng firing home from eight meters. Quinns dominated after the break, but against the run of play Jags hit the front. A long ball from the back found Gojam Nyuon, the striker did well to hold to the ball up before playing in Sopp, who raced into goal and finished clinically.
The ten man were creating some good chances and Ibrahim Hamad fired over after great work from Wade, before Sopp was denied by a good save from the Quinns keeper one-on-one. But Quinns hit back and restored parity, Hunt curling home a stunning 20-meter free kick into the top corner. They then hit the front, good build up play ended with Andy Pandelli out wide, and he whipped in a cross which was met with a bullet header by McCready that gave the keeper no chance. Quinns went close to a fourth, but Jags keeper Makuei Mapooth produced a great save to deny him. But it was Jags who levelled, Wade played in Sopp, who eased past two defenders before cutting the ball back to Nyuon to score. Jags were reduced to nine men late when James Wuor was sent off but they hung on to take a share of the spoils. "It was a good open game with both teams really going for it," Quinns Wayne Carter said. "We're probably a bit disappointed we couldn't get the winner against the ten men but in fairness to Jags they were still very dangerous on the counter attack and a draw was probably a fair result."
Ellenbrook United have won for the first time this season after a hard fought 1-0 win against Belmont Villa at Jack Mann Oval. The home side went into the game knowing that their chances for points were limited and they had to take this one. But it was a case of missed chances for them in the first half with Chol Lual and Anthony Kenyi both failing to hit the net, but they also limited Belmont to just a few long-range shots and it was 0-0 at the break. The home side continued to press in the second half and they were rewarded with an early goal. A lovely weighted through ball from Luke Ross found Kenyi who raced into the box, rounded the keeper and slotted home for 1-0. After that it was an end to end battle to the finish, Belmont piling the pressure on and Ellenbrook defending well to protect their lead. Belmont just couldn’t find the target, and the home side also missed some chances, but after what seemed an eternity the referee blew his whistle and the Ellenbrook players celebrated a hard fought three points.
Joondalup United moved up to sixth after a 2-1 win against UWA Nedlands at Beldon Park. "Yes, very happy with the three points, but again we won ugly which if you are not on top of your game but still are winning it is a good sign," Joondalup Coach Ben Williams said. "Also, UWA had a lot of pace and strength up top and really pushed us for the entire second half, but I think the win was deserved after we had a really good first 30 minutes." The hosts were off to a flyer and were ahead when Dale Watson's cross picked out Scott Harrison at the back post, who nipped in front of his team mate Sandy McKay to head home. It was 2-0 on 25 minutes, with Ryan Williams' well-delivered free kick headed home by Mark Walsh. UWA were back in th game after the break and reduced the margin when Mitch Barrington scored from the penalty spot after a foul in the box by Joondalup's Jay Fryer. Both sides pressed late but there was no more scoring and Joondalup ran out winners. "I thought an average first half cost us today," UWA Coach Arthur Hiemstra said. "We did a lot of things right in the second half but it wasn’t meant to be, but well done to Ben and the lads."
In the other games North Perth United and Wembley Downs have fought out a scoreless draw at Woodville Reserve while Hamersley Rovers and Kwinana United drew 2-2 at Carine Open Space. The visitors were ahead in this one when a piece of individual brilliance from Greg Derbyshire, his overhead kick gave the Rovers 'keeper no chance. But the home side were level just after half time, Cosimo Figliomeni on target. But Kwinana regained the lead, and after some good approach work Alex Jones made no mistake. The home side pressed for the equaliser but they found Kwinana keeper Jack Adams in great form, he produced a number of fine saves, but he could do nothing when Rovers levelled, Figliomeni scoring his second. "I thought the game was fairly even on chances in the first half, and we fought hard in the second half and I couldn’t fault the effort from the boys and would have loved three points but a point was probably a fair result." Hamersley Coach Glynn Shaw said Adams had a blinder for Kwinana. "Their keeper had a great game," he said. "That was the reason they went home with a draw."
FLOREAT END BALCATTA’S SEASON
Floreat Athena will play Perth SC in the Preliminary Final on Tuesday evening after overcoming Balcatta 3-2 in an entertaining NPL WA Top Four Cup Minor Semi-Final at E&D Litis Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Balcatta were ahead in this one early, with Ben Pellizzari scoring, but Robert Petkov levelled for the hosts before Adrian Madaschi gave them the lead at the break. It looked game over when Ludovic Boi scored just after half time but Balcatta weren’t finished and fought to the end, reducing the margin in stoppage time through Adam Zimarino but Floreat held on to go through.
The home side came into Saturday’s game on a poor run of form, without a win in the last four games and they were on the back foot in this one and Jason Saldaris had to be alert to push Shubham Mokala’s shot around the post early. But on 16 minutes Balcatta’s early pressure was rewarded with the lead. Calum O’Connell’s inviting cross found Pellizzari, who looped his header over Saldaris and into the corner of the net. Floreat hit back and Ludovic Boi’s deep cross found Nick Ambrogio, but his goal bound header was deflected behind by the alert Alex Castiello.
Floreat went close on 38 minutes, a long clearance from the keeper was helped on by Petkov and Nick Ambrogio fed a great through ball to Boi whose raced into goal but David Keenan stood tall to deny the winger. But from the resulting corner Floreat did level, Dean Evans corner was nodded down by Adrian Madaschi and Petkov headed home from four meters. The home side had lifted and Keenan produced a fingertip save to thwart Chris Saldaris in first half stoppage time, getting on the end of Evans free kick. But again, from the resulting corner Floreat hit the front. A short corner caught Balcatta napping and Boi’s cross found Madaschi, who’s headed was well saved by Keenan, but the big defender was quickest to the rebound to fire home, to send Floreat into the break with the lead.
Athena continued the second-half as they had finished the first, and three minutes in they added a third. A poor clearance from Keenan went straight to Boi on the edge of the box and he wriggled past three Balcatta defenders and fired low past the keeper, the ball nestling in the corner of the net. Balcatta weren’t finished and continued to press, but they couldn’t find a way past a tight Floreat defence. They did find a consolation goal late in stoppage time, a great ball by Callum Timmins sent Zimarino in on goal and his shot on the run flew past Jason Saldaris, but it was too little too late and Balcatta bowed out of the finals. Floreat meanwhile will take on Perth Sc at Dorrien Gardens on Tuesday evening for the opportunity to take on Inglewood United in the Top Four Grand Final on Saturday.
Floreat Athena: GK Jason SALDARIS, 4 Adrian MADASCHI, 5 Thomas JEBB, 6 Jesse FULLER, 9 Robert PETKOV (24 Sam THORNILEY 89’), 10 Nicholas AMBROGIO, 11 Dennis GALAN, 14 Ludovic BOI (32 Robert HARDING 87’), 15 Christopher SALDARIS, 17 Dean EVANS, 18 Phillip ARNOLD (29 Jack PAINTER-ANDREWS 77’) - Subs not used: RGK Jordan BARBAS, 25 Adam FALCONE
Balcatta FC: GK David KEENAN, 2 Joseph MARINO (9 Gavin KNIGHT 65’), 4 Calum O’CONNELL, 5 Shubham MOKALA, 7 Ben PELLIZZARI (15 Callum STOCKS 51’), 10 Jonathan CORNESS, 12 Roberto DEL BORRELLO, 13 Carmelo GIUFFRE, 16 Alex CASTIELLO, 20 Anthony TOPINI (11 Adam ZIMARINO 57’), 22 Callum TIMMINS - Subs not used: 8 Alex WILD, 19 Nicholas CHALLOT - Referee: Steven Gregory
INGLEWOOD STUN PERTH
Inglewood United has beaten Perth SC for the first time this season, and what a game to do it in, with Andres Oliveira’s side beating the league winners 3-1 at Dorrien Gardens, and progressing into the final of the Top Four Cup. Harry Evans gave Inglewood the lead early in the second half, but Golden Boot winner Michael Domfeh equalised for Perth moments later. It looked like the game when go to extra time but substitute Brian Farrell edged Inglewood ahead in the final minute, before Steve Sokol wrapped up the win sixty seconds later.
“The game was very tight, and Perth are very good team and keep possession very well, but I thought defensively we were very organised and hard to breakdown,” Inglewood Coach Andres Oliveira explained. “Perth did create some chances but couldn't get past Alex (Dunn) who played excellent. We stuck to our game and the players just punish Perth on their mistakes, which created three excellent class goals. Now we move on and focus on the Grand Final.”
It was a cagey start to the game but Perth had a penalty shoot turned down by referee David Bruce on 10 minutes, after it looked like Jason Barrera stuck out a hand to stop Paul Zimarino’s cross, but much the displeasure of the Perth players. Perth keeper Dejan Aleksic was tested with some in-swinging corners early and was caught after a challenge from Mark Barnett, but he stood firm. Inglewood keeper Alex Dunn then had to be alert to save at the feet of Zimarino, after he was sent clear by Domfeh.
The home side were in again on 34 minutes, Zimarino was again picked out by Domfeh, but Dunn got down well to deny him, before Niccolò Sabatini fired wide moments later. Domfeh had the best chance of the half in the last minute, Domfeh was sent clear by Alex Silla’s through ball, but the big strikers shot hit the side netting, although most of the crowd thought it was in, but at the break to was scoreless and all to play for.
Inglewood opened the second half the better and David Cyrus headed Harry Evans’ free kick straight at Aleksic, before Sabatini got back with a last-ditch challenge to deny Sokol moments later. Their early pressure was rewarded with the lead on 58 minutes. Sokol was brought down by Sabatini on the edge of the penalty area and Evans curled the resulting free kick over the wall and into the top corner of the net. But two minutes later the home side levelled, Andreas Theodosiades great through ball sent Domfeh clear and he finished with aplomb over the oncoming Dunn.
Zimarino then fired wide, as Perth lifted, but it was Inglewood who went close to regaining their lead on 75 minutes, Chok Dau’s curling free kick crashing off the upright and away to safety. Theodosiades’ shot from the edge of the box was saved by Dunn as the game opened up. Alex Jovic was the next to go close, but his snap shot from the edge of the penalty area flashed wide of the target. But on 90 minutes Inglewood regained the lead. Brian Woodall found second half substitute Farrell 18 meters from goal and his audacious lob beat Aleksic and set off wild celebrations on and off the pitch.
The icing was put on the cake sixty seconds later when Farrell sent Sokol racing down the right and winger, who can’t stop scoring, scored his sixth in as many games lobbing Aleksic to seal a 3-1 win. Inglewood will now host the Top Four Cup Grand Final next week at Perth Plasterboard Centre Stadium next Saturday afternoon, while Perth play Floreat Athena in the Preliminary Final on Tuesday evening at Dorrien Gardens to see who they will play against them.
Perth SC: GK Dejan ALEKSIC, 2 Alex SILLA, 3 Andreas THEODOSIADES, 5 Niccolò SABATINI, 6 Harley ORR, 7 Aleksandar JOVIC, 14 Kristian SANTICH, 16 Kieran COLWELL, 18 Michael DOMFEH, 19 Bojan RADINOVIC, 20 Paul ZIMARINO - Subs not used: RGK Adrian SINAGIA, 12 Jordan DE LEO, 13 Rocco PIZZATA, 15 Jawad REZAI, 17 Frank FURFARO
Inglewood United: GK Alex DUNN, 2 Alex ISHIDA-LIVINGS, 3 David CYRUS, 8 Jason BARRERA (4 Scott BLACKMORE 82’), 9 Chok DAU (5 Samuel RIAK 90+2’), 10 Anthony BAFOBUSHA, 11 Harry EVANS (15 Brian FARRELL 74’), 14 Steve SOKOL, 15 Brian FARRELL, 16 Jamie MURPHY, 17 Mark BARNETT, 23 Brian WOODALL - Subs not used: RGK Josiah GODFREY, 6 Miki VUJACIC, 7 Hamza HINA - Referee: David Bruce
STATE LEAGUE DIVISION ONE, ROUND TWENTY TWO – REVIEW
Gwelup Croatia will be playing NPLWA football next season after they came from behind to beat Subiaco 3-1 at Wishart Street on Saturday afternoon, the win giving them the 2019 State League Division One title. It wasn’t the start the home side were looking for, and seven minutes in Subiaco took the lead. A long clearance from Subiaco’s teenage keeper Luke Tartaglia was flicked on and Benjamin Campbell raced clear and finished with aplomb past Riley Stevenson to stun the big crowd. The visitors were in again on 23 minutes, Campbell was given far too much room in the middle of the park and his long-range effort crashed off the crossbar.
The visitors were well on top with Antonio Naglieri outstanding in the middle of the park, and they went close again two minutes later. Another ball over the top caught the home sides’ defence square, and Shay Donavan skipped past Bobby Wilson, rounded Stephenson, but his shot from the angle was cleared off the line by Graham Tough. Subiaco thought they had doubled their lead on moments later, Matthew Lenzo heading home, but the assistants’ flag was up for offside, but at the break Subiaco led.
Gwelup were on the front foot after the break and Matthew Sparrow’s shot was deflected wide, before Sean Canham headed over the top. But it was Subiaco creating the better chances, and broke quickly again on 69 minutes. A superb ball from Naglieri sent Donavan racing clear, he beat Stephenson to the ball but failed to find the target. That miss came back to haunt Subiaco as four minutes later Gwelup levelled. Healing’s corner was headed back across goal by Canham, and in the goalmouth scramble second half substitute Hodgson fired the ball home.
Four minutes later Gwelup hit the front. Heagney picked Healing out on the edge of the penalty area, and the midfielder curled it past Tartaglia and into the top corner. They wrapped up the points and the title eight minutes from time when referee Brendan Skinner spotted a foul by Vasco Da Silva on Canham, and he pointed straight to the spot. Healing stepped up to score the resulting penalty and the celebrations in the crowd started in earnest.
Western Knights finished second after they fought out a 1-1 draw in the local derby against UWA Nedlands at the UWA Sports Park. "I thought we started very well but we just couldn’t convert the chances that we created early on,” Knights coach Ivan Zuvela said. “We didn’t start the second half well and UWA scored, but then we kept pushing them and got a good goal. But overall, I was proud of the players efforts throughout the year, they consistently played with pride and gave it everything."
The Knights needed to win this one well and hope Gwelup lost to claim the title but it was a tight first half and it was UWA who should have taken the lead when they were awarded a penalty, but Sam Stone guessed the right way to save Riaz Kelly's spot kick. But the Knights did find themselves behind on the hour. Lloyd Prout laid the ball the Bryce Conway, who raced into the box eased past two Knights defenders before finishing clinically into the corner of the net.
The Knights found the equaliser on 80 minutes, with Dean Hurley on target, but that’s how it finished. "It was a typically intense derby and I feel we dealt with the occasion and lifted our standards extremely well," UWA's Conway explained. "The performance was indicative of our end of season form, which has been so promising, and ultimately we were disappointed to concede so late in proceedings after such a strong display. That said, credit to Western Knights, they’re a quality outfit who threw everything at us yesterday and enjoyed a fantastic season. Can’t wait for more derby days next season."
Olympic Kingsway finished fourth after a outstanding 5-0 win against Forrestfield United at Hartfield Park. Against their former coach Graham Normanton, Olympic were ahead on the half hour, Jakub Sklenar crossed for Elliott Tattersall to fire home. They doubled their lead ten minutes later with Sklenar heading home, and it was 3-0 on the stroke of half time, Sklenar playing Kris Gate through to finish clinically past the keeper. The game was put to bed early in the second half, when a defensive error was pounced on by Olympic and Sklenar raced clear to score.
They added a fifth fifteen minutes from time, with Kyle Murray's long-range shot flying into the top corner of the net to seal a comprehensive win. "It was a great way to finish the season, and I'm very proud of the club and want to thank all of them for making us feel so welcome this season," Head Coach Gary Williams said. "A special mention for Kris Gate who has been great all year. He is a very popular lad in the dressing room and will decide over the summer if he intends to continue. If yesterday was his last game it was a great way to go out. Finally, congratulations to Gwelup on a great season, the challenge for all of us at Kingsway is to emulate their achievements in 2020."
Ashfield ended their season and the coaching stint for Matt Wardle at the club, with a 3-2 win against Morley Windmills at Ashfield Reserve. It was a tight first half and scoreless at the break but Ashfield early in the second, with Abdul Abdella scoring a 25-meter screamer. But Morley levelled when Boas Mtwale cut the ball back from the right and Nathan Scully finished clinically past the keeper. But Ashfield regained the lead, and Abdella was involved again, the striker was brought down in the box and Pat Sara stepped up to score from the resulting penalty. It was 3-1 when Sara was sent clear and he calmly finished past the keeper. Morley pulled one back from the spot in stoppage time, after Yves Mpunga cut in from the left and was brought down in the box, and Dion Berman scored the penalty, but it too little too late, with Ashfield taking the points.
"The result was great, the effort and commitment from the squad not only yesterday but all year has been brilliant," departing Ashfield coach Matt Wardle said. "We have been giving some of the young talent we have at Ashfield games in the first team the last couple of weeks and the young lads have stepped up and been amazing and that was different against Morley in a derby game. I’d like to wish Morley all the best in their play-off matches.
"It’s been an amazing time in my life being at Ashfield as a player and coach. I can’t thank the people involved at the club enough for giving me the opportunity to coach this great club. It was great yesterday that I actually got to play as well as coach in my last game giving myself a little 20-minute cameo and to walk off the pitch with a win was a perfect way to see my time at Ashfield come to an end. The support yesterday and seeing lots of Ashfield people come back to the club to see me off was brilliant, and I’m now looking forward to the next coaching challenge that comes my way."
In the final game Joondalup United ended the season with a 3-1 win against Mandurah City at Securitas Protect Stadium. The visitors made a great start and were ahead when a great run down the left by Ben Wantee ended with a cross into the box and it was clinically finished by the ageless Ian McMurray. They doubled their lead before the break, an 18-meter shot from Jamie Gardiner flew into the net, via the crossbar. Mandurah pulled one back, with Reegan Davidson on target, but Joondalup wrapped up the three points when Wantee thunderbolt free kick gave the Mandurah keeper no chance. "It was great to finish our season on a high with a superb team performance to keep our mini unbeaten run intact," Joondalup Coach Nick Jennings said. "Both sides gave opportunities to a number of youngsters and my boys certainly delivered, just as we have throughout the second half of the season to drag ourselves clear of the threat of relegation." - Fremantle City had the bye this week.
STATE LEAGUE DIVISION TWO, ROUND TWENTY ONE – REVIEW
Balga are in pole position to claim the final State League Division Two relegation/promotion playoff spot after a come-from-behind 2-1 win against Curtin University at Edinburgh Oval. Aleks Vrteski's side are one point behind Swan United, but have a game in hand on, but they found themselves behind on eight minutes, with an in-swinging corner from Danny Todd going straight into the net, and they lead by that goal at the break. But Balga started to take control after the break and levelled, when Jake Verini's through ball sent Hermon Michael clear, he rounded the keeper and rolled the ball home. Balga then hit the front on the hour, when they were awarded a penalty and Dejan Andric made no mistake from the spot. Both sides pressed late, but it was Balga creating the better chances, but they failed to convert them, but they did enough to win the game. "First half Curtin shut us down well and scored with an error by us,” Balga Coach Aleks Vrteski said. “But second half we controlled the game and dominated possession if we had of scored 5 or 6 it wouldn't have come as a shock.”
Swan United maintained their one-point advantage after a 2-1 win against Wanneroo City at Wanneroo Reserve. "It was a very tight game and obviously going down to ten men early in the second half made it very difficult for us," Swans Jay Lang said. "But the boys showed great character to hang on to the lead and limit Wanneroo to only half chances in the second half." It wasn't the start Paul Dundo's side were hoping for as the home side opened the scoring on 10 minutes, Connor Lynch eased past his marker and finished clinically past Joey Smith. But the Swans were level five minutes later. A corner wasn't dealt with and Jay Lang's ball back into the box picked out Brennan Borzecki, whose header was well saved, but the winger made no mistake from the rebound. The visitors were ahead five minutes into the second half, a quick free kick caught Wanneroo napping and the ball into the penalty area found David Foster who got across his marker at the front post to head home. But their task was made even more difficult when skipper Aaron Colli was sent off, but they held on for all three points, and Wanneroo's Ash Crocker was sent off late for the hosts. "We got off to a great start," Wanneroo coach Jesse Bridgeman said. "But again, switching off has cost us points and a very disappointing response, especially after the draw with Quinns last week."
Champions Quinns have been held to a 2-2 draw by Shamrock Rovers at Harold Rossiter Reserve. "On a whole the game was very physical and Shamrock were right up for the challenge," Quinns assistant coach John Lavery said. "I’ve got to take my hat off to Shamrock who gave our boys a guard of honour before the game, good to see some good old-fashioned sportsmanship for a change, well done Shamrock." The visitors were ahead when a Richard Howles' shot was parried by the Shamrock keeper but the rebound fell to Brent Quick who stabbed the ball over the line from close-range. But Rovers were level when Jack Bardsley's free kick picked out Nathan Diaz whose header was parried by James Bosdet and Ger Fitzgerald fired home the rebound. The home side hit the front just after half time, a ball into the box wasn't dealt with and Fitzgerald squared the ball to Lachy Parker who scored from close-range. But Quinns levelled and earned a hard-fought point with 16-year-old substitute Hugo Snowdon scoring after coming off the bench. "It was a good game we had plenty of chances and are disappointed not to win but I think a draw was a fair result," Rovers' midfielder Fitzgerald said. "We have finished this season well and are seven game unbeaten run, and we will look to finish the season strong against Canning next week and look forward to next year and build on from this season."
Gosnells City have also been held to a 2-2 draw by Joondalup City at Walter Padbury Reserve. "It was a good first half performance where we could have scored five or six," Gosnells coach Marc Anthony said. "Then the second half we just didn't turn up and full credit to Joondalup they were the better side." It started well for Marc Anthony's side and they were ahead early, a shot was well saved by the Joondalup keeper but Scott Pereira was quickest to follow up and fire home the rebound. The doubled their lead on 20 minutes, when Josh Wade lost his marker from a corner to head home. Gosnells wasted a number of chances to increase their lead, but Joondalup had chances of their own, but at the break the home side lead 2-0. The visitors were out of the block early in the second half and were rewarded when David Sallis scored from six meters. Joondalup restored parity with Liam McGurk scoring, and they pressed late for the winner but couldn't find it. "Overall we are happy with the result," Joondalup coach Nigel Smith. "After conceding two we settled down and started to play some good football and were unlucky not to score before half time. But after the break we came out strong and got our rewards, and maybe we could have won it."
Canning City's recent good run has ended, and they will be relegated after a 5-1 loss against Murdoch University Melville at Murdoch University Sports Ground. The home side hit the front with Sasa Slavujevic flicking home Adrian Ciampini cross. But Canning, who have been fighting against relegation all season, were level before the break with Joe Kelly on target. But Murdoch University Melville took control after the break, with Ciampini bagged a hat-trick, while Grant Mowatt capped off a fine team move with a great finish to add the fifth. "It was a good performance, we played some great football at times and the movement of our front four was excellent," Murdoch University Melville coach Gavin Brown said. "We are delighted to have secured play offs and will now focus on trying to be more competitive than we were in the two league games against Gosnells."
In the final game Kelmscott Roos have beaten Dianella White Eagles 3-2 at Frye Park. It was the visitors who opened the scoring on the quarter hour mark, with Liam Hudson on target. But Kelmscott were level when Asa Sippits volleyed home after the Dianella keeper had saved well from a shot from the edge of the box. But Dianella hit back and regained the lkead before half time, Ethan Kerridge scoring to send the Eagles into the break with the lead. But Kelmscott levelled early in the second half, Juan Cabrera raced past a number of Dianella defenders and played in Justin Onek who lifted it over the keeper. The home side won it when they were awarded a penalty for handball and Ibrahima Soumah converted from the spot. "To be honest the first half was flat, both teams not playing well and not many chances apart from the goals," Sippits said. "The second half opened up and we played some good football at times but the game was a battle, and we won the battle. All players came out second half determined to get the three points, and from one goal down and we did it. We did create a few chances to kill the game off but didn’t take them, but our keeper was great and he made a couple important saves on one-on-one's."
NPL-WA TOP FOUR CUP SEMI-FINALS - PREVIEW
After last week tense finish to the NPL WA regular season the NPL WA Top Four Finals take centre stage this weekend with league winners Perth SC entertaining second placed Inglewood United at Dorrien Gardens in the Major Semi-Final. Perth won the league title with three games remaining and they go into Saturday's games on the back of their first home defeat of the season, going down 3-2 to Sorrento last week, while Inglewood have been the form team of the final few weeks of the season, with only one loss in their final nine games, and they are coming off a 2-0 win against Perth Glory, so they will go into the game confident. They have played each other twice in the NPL this season, sharing the points in round four at Perth Plasterboard Centre Stadium, while Perth came out on top at home, running our 4-0 winners.
Perth head coach Ramon Falzon said his players deserve a great deal of credit for their successful season. "We are proud of the improvement registered by the first team squad that has led to another NPL title. We set individual and squad objectives during pre-season and the players worked very hard to meet the expectations of the coaches in terms of quality and performances," he explained. "These technical and tactical improvements led to better results compared to the previous season. As coaches, we knew that it was going to be very hard to improve the outstanding results achieved in 2018. Thus, the biggest credit goes to the players because we managed to retain the best defensive record for the fourth consecutive year while becoming more lethal in front of goals due to our higher average number of goals scored."
Falzon said although last week’s defeat was disappointing, but it gave them a chance to try a few things, and he was pleased for striker Michael Domfeh who wrapped up the Golden Boot as the league’s top goalscorer. "It is human nature for pressure and tension to ease off once a long-term target is achieved. This was evidenced in our games against Cockburn and Sorrento because our performances were not as good as they usually are. On the other hand, it gave us the opportunity to balance the load on certain individual players and even give the debut, to one of our under 20s players, before we refocus our efforts on the Top Four Cup," he said. "It was not the result that we were looking for against Sorrento, however I thought that they deserved the three points last Saturday. A good side note from last Saturday’s game is that Michael managed to score the goal he needed to finish off this NPL season as the top goal scorer. We are very happy with how Michael integrated in our environment and the progress he demonstrated during the season, so taking out the golden boot is an additional reward for Michael that recognises his individual efforts for Perth SC."
So on to Saturday's Major Semi-Final and the Perth coach said they come up against the form team of the competition, but he is confident they can get the right result. "Inglewood’s form in recent weeks has been splendid, and although they had already secured a top four spot, they kept on persisting to finish as high as possible and they managed to jump into second spot last Saturday," Falzon explained. "I think Inglewood had a very good season and they will be a tough opposition for us to face this Saturday, however we are confident that we can extend our good NPL performances into the Top Four Cup."
Inglewood coach Andres Oliveira had a stellar career on the pitch at Perth SC, but he has been a breath of fresh air at Inglewood this season, and in his first senior coaching role, has the club well placed to bring home their first ever NPL title. "It has been a great first season for me in the senior coaching role, but to honest it has been emotionally challenging, a totally different of enjoyment from playing," he explained. "But having great support from the coaching staff helped a lot in driving the player group and the players attitude has been excellent, so all this has made it an easier transition but I've learnt a lot and to be fair I'm still learning. I don't believe the coaches have had too much impact in our way of winning games, that is down to the players and their desire, which is why they deserve the praises for fighting all the way and finishing second in the league."
Oliveira said last week’s win against Perth Glory was a good way to go into the finals, and it also secured second spot and a double chance. "The win against the Glory was good and I believe we deserved to win," he said. "I thought we created two great goals and had plenty of chances, and we also defended well and Alex (Dunn) did an excellent job producing some great saves at critical times in the games. So overall it was consistent performance and it earnt us second spot on the table."
The coach knows the challenge ahead for his team at Dorrien Gardens, but e said they are ready for the challenge. "It doesn’t matter what we have done in the last three weeks, Perth SC have been the most consistent team all year. Ramon has them playing well and they also have great individual players," Oliveira said. "They are always very difficult to beat and last time we meet they showed us why they are the champions. But we will prepare ourselves like any other team in finals football. We will go there, play our game and try and pounce on their mistakes. All I want from the players is enjoy the moment and make it a good game of football."
The other game sees third place Floreat Athena host fourth placed Balcatta in the Minor Semi-Final at E&D Litis Stadium. The pair have met three times this season with Floreat coming out on top in all three. Floreat lost second spot, and a double chance, after a shock 3-6 loss against Rockingham City, while Balcatta had to wait on other results to see if they made the finals. They needed Bayswater to lose against Cockburn, and on the hour, they were drawing against Stirling, while Bayswater were drawing. But sixty seconds later John Kearney converted a spot kick and moments later Cockburn hit the front. It set up a tense finale, but when both games finished it was Balcatta celebrating their first finals appearance since 2014.
Balcatta head coach Goran Stajic said his players have been outstanding all season and they deserve a great deal of credit. “This is my second season in charge and the word ‘challenging’ always comes to mind, but I guess this is the by-product of my list and us as a club,” he explained. “What we have achieved yet again without any BIG names or visa players is massive. To be able to compete week in week out in this league and with the parameters I have been set by the club is a testament to my staff and players.”
The derby win was vital for Stajic’s side, and he said his team have had to work their socks off to reach the top four, and he said they aren’t finished yet. “To be honest any win is special but I guess this one determined our final placing which was satisfying. To say we deserved a top four finish is something that doesn’t sit well with me as we certainly worked hard to make it happen,” he explained. “I’m not sure form is too much of a concern for Floreat as they are a team with years of experience playing together and know what it takes to win silverware.
“They are a very strong and balanced team that has a distinctive style of play that is dangerous, yet they have shown throughout the season that it is vulnerable and can be exposed. As for us, our club is facing a huge occasion on Saturday where we are going into the game with nothing to lose and everything to gain. Floreat have beating us on several occasions this season albeit being close encounters, but we are ready to play a brave and audacious game. Another 90+ minutes is ahead of us, winners proceed, losers are out, and we will give maximum effort as I always promise our supporters that.”
Floreat Athena head coach Garrett McDuling has continued the club success and in his second season the club won the night series final, and will be looking to start the top four finals off with a bang. “After my appointment last season, although we knew we could not make the finals it was a long-term plan to gain momentum to take into this season. The players did that going undefeated for the remainder of the season and then built on that by winning the night series,” he explained. “We set goals to do well in the cups and the finals and I am delighted by our progress particularly with at times a diminished squad. Secondly, we have looked to give young players first team football and we have played seven players from the 20’s, so again I am delighted with that. And finally, I have looked for our off-field team to grow and we have most definitely done that from the experiences of this season.”
Their final NPL league game wasn’t the result McDulling was looking for but he was full of praise for the opposition. “Full respect to Cameron Lord and the Rockingham team, the tactic we thought they would play worked and credit to them,” he said. “Over the past four games we have had a lot of players out through injury and suspension so we were able to play a lot of young talented players and they have all learnt a lot over these past games against Sorrento, Stirling, ECU and Rockingham. We didn’t play the 90 minutes as planned and that showed however we as a squad have carefully reviewed the game and go into the finals prepared.”
McDulling said Saturday will be another close game, like all three games have been this season. “I have a lot of respect for Goran Stajic and having played each other three times this season, we know each other well. It will likely be a tight hard-fought game with well-prepared teams and passion as there is no second chance,” he said. “We welcome back Adrian Madaschi, Nick Ambrogio, Chris Saldaris, Phil Arnold and Jack Painter Andrews after injury so we have a full squad who are roaring to go. The club have done a terrific job as late and I would like to thank them for all their hard work and welcome all fans and supporters of the teams playing this Saturday at E&D Litis stadium for a terrific day of football.”
STATE LEAGUE DIVISION ONE, ROUND TWENTY TWO – PREVIEW
The State League Division One title, and promotion to the NPLWA, has gone down to the final game of the season, with Gwelup Croatia and Western Knights battling it out. Gwelup hold all the cards, three points clear of the Knights and they have a six goal better goal difference, so it's in their own hands when they entertain Subiaco at Wishart Street. The Knights make the trip to the UWA Sports Park to take on UWA Nedlands in the local derby, needing a big win and then hoping Subiaco can do them a favour to regain their spot in the top flight of WA football for the first time since 2012, but make no mistake Subiaco and UWA Nedlands can cause an upset, and both will need to be on their game.
Gwelup have had to work extremely hard to meet the criteria to play in the NPL, a lot of the credit goes down to the hard working committee under the guidance of President Jure Denona, while on the pitch Taki Nicolaidis, who has had spells in the NPL as Coach of Perth SC and Inglewood, has built a talented squad, but he knows promotion hasn't been gained yet, and he is looking for a similar performance from last week at Kingsway against Subiaco on Saturday.
"It certainly has been a team effort both on and off the park. For a club that was playing Sunday amateurs three years ago to now be on the brink of the NPL is a huge achievement and a dream come true for Jure and the club. We’ve all been working hard and just need to make sure we get over the final hurdle this weekend," he explained. "Last week’s result against a strong Kingsway side was huge. With what is at stake and a very tight first half the group responded well and stepped into another gear in the second half to record a solid win. It not only gave us another valuable three points but it also increased our goal difference."
Nicolaidis said promotion would be just rewards for everyone's efforts, but they need to be switched on against a young and talented Subiaco side on Saturday. "Subiaco definitely caused us some problems last time we played them and I expect them to very competitive again this time as well," he said. "Which is why the message to our whole playing group to keep their standards high and not become complacent. It’s the last game of the season and we would like to finish it off with a win."
It's not been smooth sailing for the club this season, losing skipper James Sammut with a nasty leg injury mid-season set them back, but the tenacity of the players has shone through, and with the experience of Bobby Wilson, Matthew Sparrow and Clark Keltie, all who have NPL experience, has seen them on the verge of promotion, this after only joining the semi-professional league in 2017.
A player who has stood up this season is Sam Wynne, whose performances and goals has been vital and he said promotion was the aim at the start of the season and they are one game away from doing it. "When I first joined the club and sat down with Taki i didn’t expect anything less as he said the club as big ambitions moving forward. Don’t get me wrong it hasn’t been an easy season at all with the top four teams being so close this year," the 20-year-old explained. "Hopefully we get the job done and we do get promoted into the NPL I feel our team is more than strong enough to compete, as most of us have been there before and know the standard. With the grandstand being built it couldn’t come at a better time it will give the club the presence it needs and also give the boys a sense of how far we have come."
The Englishman will miss Saturday game due to suspension, but he is confident the lads can get the right result. "We still have a big game to come on the weekend, but I can tell you that the lads aren’t phased one bit. Unfortunately, I will not be playing as I have been suspended this week which I am not happy about, but we are defiantly not in celebration mode yet as still work to be done," Wynne explained. "One thing Taki and Glen have done this season is keep everything the same week by week, so the boys know the routine and the standard we need to be at. I know Subiaco are not a walk in the park they have strong team with some good players, but I think we have a big advantage being the home team this week, and hopefully we get the job done."
Like Gwelup, the Knights have got the right credentials for NPL football, and under new coach Ivan Zuvela, who played for the club for many years, they are pushing for promotion. Again, like Gwelup, Zuvela has built a strong squad with a number of players who have played in the NPL recently, the likes of Andrija Jukic, Paul Lloyd, Callum Roberts and Cameron Yorke. But they also have some talented youngsters who have come through the ranks.
Zuvela said last weeks come-from-behind win was vital and he said the home supporters helped them get over the line. “It was a great win for us last week against Mandurah especially after being 1-0 down. It was good to have a convincing win for our home supporters, who have been fantastic for us this season,” he said. “It’s been an extremely tight and competitive season. It’s a very strong league and I am so proud of the players for what they have achieved this year. It is an unbelievable group of players, both talent and character, and they have helped build the foundation of continued success in the future.”
The coach said Saturday is a huge game, a local derby and he said UWA will be up for the game. “This weekend against UWA will not be easy and we are certainly not expecting any favours from them, it’s a local derby,” he said. “We have no control in what happens in the other games, so for us it’s about enjoying the last game of the season and we hope to come away with a win.”
The Knights have the mix right and one who has shone this season is former Gwelup winger Noah Shamaki and he said the league has been tight all season and last week’s win was important. "Looking at the league right now, it was important that we won Saturday and score as many goals as we can, especially after coming off a loss against Forrestfield we all knew we needed a win and we all took the challenge and executed it well," he said. "Yes, the league has been tight, but then it goes to show you how everyone wants to win it and play at a higher-level next year, and at this point in time it could go either way but it's great to see both clubs fighting for it."
The 27-year-old winger said all they can do on Saturday is win the game well and hope Subiaco can do them a favour, but he knows it won’t be an easy game. "Like I said the boys are all disappointed losing against Forrestfield as a win would have made matters much easier but then that’s why we are a team and we never give up," Shamaki said. "We will be going into the game with everything and finish on a high as the club, and the coaches, fans deserve it no matter the results between Gwelup and Subiaco. It’s always tricky to rely on other teams to do the job for you and most especially the last game of the season with nothing to fight for but we will see what happens and regardless of the results elsewhere we will be doing our best to win our game."
Olympic Kingsway end their first season back in division one with a trip to Hartfield Park to take on Forrestfield United. Gary Williams' side have been the big improvers in 2019 and a win in this one would see them consolidate fourth spot on the table. It’s been a disappointing season for Forrestfield, and they have drawn to many games to challenge, but Graham Normanton's side will be looking for three points in this one to end the season on a high.
In other game Ashfield host Morley Windmills at Ashfield Reserve. The home sides, promotion push faded last month, but Matt Wardle will be hoping to end the season and his time at the club a coach with three points, while Morley will be looking to continue their good form ahead of the relegation/promotion play-off's. Mandurah City entertain Joondalup United at Securitas Protect Stadium. It's been an improved season for Alex Grayson's side and a win in this one would end the season on a high. Meanwhile Joondalup have struggled in 2019 but a win in this one would add to their four wins on the road this season. - Fremantle City have the bye this week
STATE LEAGUE DIVISION TWO, ROUND TWENTY ONE – PREVIEW
With only two games to go in the State League Division Two and this week we are concentrating on the relegation fight and the 'Match of the Round' takes us to Murdoch University were Canning City will be hoping to continue their Houdini act when they take on Murdoch University Melville. Four weeks ago, Canning looked dead and buried, but they have not lost since and have closed the gap on Dianella White Eagles to four points, but need to continue that run on Saturday and hope Dianella slip up. Canning won a hard-fought game at Curtin University last week, while MUM, who have almost secured a spot in the relegation/promotion play offs, were too good for Kelmscott Roos.
Canning’s Charlie Parry said their improved results have started to come after getting all their players back from injury, but the character of the group has shone through. “I think we’ve worked extremely hard all season, but a combination of a number of injuries left us unable to put out a full-strength team for the best part of the season,” he explained. “But the lads have shown great character and we’ve played every game for the last month like a Cup Final, and we’ve got two more to go.”
Striker Jason Al Bunajim has been on fire for the club bagging 15 goals in only nine games, while Parry has also been on the scoreboard in recent weeks, and he said Saturday game at Murdoch is their toughest game in their good run but they are ready for the challenge and also hope Kelmscott can do them a favour. “They (MUM) have already qualified for the promotion playoffs and they are a good side, and showed that at our place in round two,” Parry said. “But we are a different team now and we head their looking for three points and I don’t see why we can’t come home with a win and then hope Kelmscott can do us a favour against Dianella.”
Murdoch University Melville need a point to make sure of a spot in the play-offs and the win against Kelmscott Roos last week pleased Head coach Gavin Brown, but he believes there is more to come from his chargers. "To be honest it wasn’t our most fluid performance, but it was good to get another win and score a few goals," he said. "We shuffled the pack a wee bit and we proved that our strength in depth is good and there is decent competition for places."
Brown said Canning have really improved in recent weeks and he is expecting a tough game. "We certainly don’t take any team for granted, but we have tried to focus on the point that if we want to be challenging for promotion, we need to be comfortable with the tag of favourites and put the teams in the bottom half away. We’ve done that better this year which is why we are in the mix," he explained. "Canning have definitely improved in terms of results recently and we know that they will be throwing everything at us to try to preserve their league status. We have to match their intensity, but stamp our own authority on the game and play to our own strengths - I’m looking forward to it."
The final relegation/promotion play-off spot is still up for grabs and both Balga and Swan United hit the road this week. Despite their loss at Gosnells City last week Balga, which saw them slip one point behind Swan, they are still in pole position for the play-off as they have a game in hand against Joondalup City on Wednesday September 11, but three points are a must when they visit Edinburgh Oval to take on Curtin University. Swan jumped over Balga into fourth spot and this week they make the trip to Wanneroo Reserve to take on Wanneroo City. A solid 3-1-win last week against Joondalup City has put Paul Dundo's side well placed, and striker John Monterosso said a win is vital in this one. "Another tough game away at Wanneroo but a win is a must to help keep our top four hopes alive,” he said. “Wanneroo also need the win so both teams will be going for it which will make for a great game.”
In other games Dianella White Eagles need to break a seven-game run without a win if they are to pull away from the drop zone, when they travel to Frye Park to take on Kelmscott Roos. They sit four points ahead of Canning and a win on Saturday will secure their spot in the league, but a loss and Canning winning would take it down to the final game. Champions Quinns make the trip to Harold Rossiter Reserve to take on Shamrock Rovers, who are on six game run without defeat, which included a 2-0 win against Dianella last week. While in the final game Gosnells City entertain Joondalup City at Walter Padbury Reserve.
BELT UP AMATEUR LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION - ROUND TWENTY PREVIEW
Kingsley could be crowned Belt-Up Amateur Premier Division Champions on Sunday, but results elsewhere will have to go their way. Steven Dimitrovich side must get the job done against Lemming Strikers in round 20 at Chichester Park in our 'Match of the Round', and if Quinns fail to beat Jaguar the title will be secured. Kingsley came home from Wembley Downs with a big win last week, while Leeming scored big against Ellenbrook to make it 23 goals in their last three games, so this one could be a goal feast. The last time these two sides met in the league at the venue was in round two last season, when Leeming won 3-1.
Kingsley winger Jayden Drummond said the win at Wembley was a great performance and it also boosted their goal difference. "Yes, it was good result for the club, and it was pleasing to put six past the best defence in the league,” he said. “It was a tight game early, but the boys kept pushing and we got a deserved late flourish of goals and came home with three good points.”
Drummond, who has bagged 17 goals this season, said the club are taking it one game at a time, because he knows in this league if you take your foot off the pedal you will get punished. "Dima and Monts aren’t looking too far forward, we need to maintain our standards and we will get the rewards” he said. “We take it one game at a time, and don’t think about too much more to be honest, that’s the way it’s been all season and our next challenge is Leeming on Sunday and that is all we’re focusing on.”
The club knows a win against Leeming, who they beat in the Semi-Final of the Cup two weeks ago with Sean Johnson, Aaron Lickiss, Ryan Brown, Bailey Salmon on target, will put then one step closer to the title, and Drummond said they are will be doing all they can to get the win and the league title will take care of itself. "We’ve not spoke too much about the league, I don’t think we need to, we all know what’s up for grabs, credit to the lads we’ve put ourselves in the position we’re in and deservedly so,” he explained. “But Leeming won’t be rolling over, we know that, the pressure is all on Quinns with a tough game down at Jags to see if they can push us to the last couple weeks of the season.”
Leeming went through a bad run of form mid-season, but they have turned it around in the last three weeks and player/coach David Palin said the signs have been encouraging. "It's been good to win a few games in a row now, we've really struggled to get a run of wins together this season which has ultimately been our downfall this season,” he explained. “But finishing strong to the season is something we would like to do and hopefully continue on the weekend.”
Striker Aydan Evans bagged five last week which moved him clear on the top of the leading goalscoring ladder and the coach said he has been good this season and he has finished off some good approach work from his team mates. "Aydan’s scored a lot of goals for us this season, the last few weeks the boys have got around him, he's been on penalties, free kicks and if it's there to be squared the boys have done that for him,” Palin said. “It's a good individual award to win, hopefully he can continue scoring this week against Kingsley but it will certainly be a harder task.”
Palin said a trip to Chichester Park is the toughest game of the season, but he said they will go there, play their game and hopefully continue their good run. "We said after our cup exit, we wanted to finish the season strong, the last time we beat Kingsley was at their place last year so we would like to do that again,” he said. “Kingsley have been the best side this year and it's only a matter of time now before they lift the league trophy, but we won't go there and lie down, so I'd expect a typical Leeming v Kingsley game on Sunday.”
Quinns will be looking to keep tabs on Kingsley when they travel to Herb Graham Recreation Centre to take on Jaguar. It's been a tough week for Quinns FC with one of their players taking his own life, and we remind everyone to check on your mates and family - RUOK - our thoughts go out to everyone at the club. Quinns coach Lee Garnish said it had been a tough week, and they are now focusing on a tough trip to Jaguar and hopefully coming home with three points. “Yes, it has been a hard week for our club but we all got around the family and each other and the healing process will take time, but I thought we paid tribute to ED last week on the pitch with two good wins at Hamersley,” he explained. “Sunday will be a tough game, but we go their focused and looking for a result to lock in a top two finish to the season.”
In other games North Perth United entertain Wembley Downs at Woodville Reserve. Both these sides had different results last week North Perth returned to winning ways at Kwinana, while Wembley lost heavily to Kingsley, but with both sides on the same points, in fourth and fifth respectively, a win for either sides will move them closer to top three finish. Ellenbrook United are running out of games to secure their first point of the season, and they will be hoping it comes on Sunday when they host Belmont Villa at Jack Mann Oval. Both sides are coming off big losses last week, United were well beaten at Leeming, while Villa lost at home to Joondalup.
Joondalup United and UWA Nedlands meet at Beldon Park, with both sides looking to continue their recent good form. UWA have only lost once in their last six games, and are coming off a hard-fought draw with Jags last week, while Joondalup have only lost once in their last seven games, and came home last week with a win at Belmont, so this one should be a cracker. In the final game Hamersley Rovers take on Kwinana United at Carine Open Space. New Kwinana coach Mark Purvis will be looking for his first win in the role, this after losing his opening game last week against North Perth, while Hamersley will be hoping to end a four-game run of defeats to close the gap between the two sides.
GLORY PAIR IN JOEYS SQUAD
West Australians Joshua Rawlins and Aiki Tsukamoto have been selected to represent Australia in this month’s Asian Football Confederation Under-16 Championship qualifiers in Vietnam. The Perth Glory pair were named in Australia’s Under-17 coach Trevor Morgan’s 23-player squad today.
Rawlins and Tsukamoto were both part of the State Under-13 side that won the National Youth Championships in 2017. The Joeys will play four games in Vietnam, against Mongolia (16 September), Macau (18 September), Timor-Leste (20 September) and the host nation (22 September).
The Australia Under-16 squad is Joseph Calusic, Jake Girdwood-Reich, Aiden Mostofi, Adrian Segecic, Luka Smyth (Sydney FC), Ethan Cox, Bernardo Oliveira, Mohamed Toure (Football Federation South Australia), Massimo D’Argenio (Moreland Zebras), Alex Denmead, Alessandro Lopane, Nicholas Panuccio, Matthew Scarcella, Thomas Stobierski (Western Sydney Wanderers), Daniel Helweh, Thomas Lopez (Marconi Stallions), Lachlan Macdonald (Sutherland Sharks), Alexander Menelaou (Melbourne City), Nathan Nguyen, Jack Warshawsky (Brisbane Roar), James Nieuwenhuizen (Goulburn Valley Suns), Joshua Rawlins and Aiki Tsukamoto (Perth Glory).
DAVIES EXPECTS HARIMAU TO ROAR
For Malaysia defender Matthew Davies the pressure from hostile fans in Jakarta is expected. It’s something he and his teammates know they will have to cope with when his nation takes on Indonesia in a World Cup qualifier at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium.
However, the 24-year-old Pahang captain insists that Harimau Malaya are more than capable of starting their World Cup qualification campaign on the right note. “We know what to expect from the expected hostile environment,” said Davies.
“We know it’s going to be tough and the fans there are going to be against us. It will be a difficult environment to play under. But we have to back ourselves, we have to back our team and we have what it takes to go over there and get the job done.
“If we manage to get a result away in Indonesia for our first game, it will certainly put us in good stead for the rest of the (World Cup) campaign ... it’ll be a massive game and a massive three points for us should we win.”
The Indonesian squad contains several players who've played in Malaysia, including Ferdinand Sinaga, Evan Dimas and Andik Vermansah all of whom have played in Malaysia. Davies will also recognise another face in Pahang team mate Saddil Ramdani.
“He’s a very good young player,” Davies said of 20-year old Saddill. “We know what he’s capable of and he’s definitely one to watch out for. He’s lively, got a really good first touch and crossing. He’s great technically too.”
Davies is vying with Selangor’s Syahmi Safari for the right back position and, if selected, could be involved in a battle against Saddil. With his knowledge and understanding of the threat from the pacy Saddil, Davies might just get the nod to start against Indonesia.
TAGGART RELISHING ARNOLD'S LESSONS
Striker Adam Taggart is relishing working with coach Graham Arnold as the Socceroos prepare to kick off the 2022 World Cup qualification campaign against Kuwait. The entire 23-player Australia squad has now assembled in Dubai for Wednesday's game, which doubles as a 2023 Asian Cup qualifier.
Taggart says it will be refreshing to be mentored by former striker Arnold, who likes his teams to play with a more ruthless, attacking style. "You've obviously seen him do it with all of his teams previously so it's nice to be involved in that, especially after the last camp to get a taste of it and now this camp," Taggart said.
"It's just something I want to take on board as much as I can and learn from him because in general he's a good coach, top coach, but obviously being a striker it's really nice to have someone above you sharing the same mentality of enjoying scoring goals and enjoying attacking. So he's someone I'm really looking forward to working under."
Taggart made his international debut in 2012 against Hong Kong and had scored three times in eight appearances for the Socceroos. The 26-year old, a member of Australia's 2014 World Cup squad, said his recall to the Socceroos squad for the upcoming qualifiers was exciting.
"(I've) always wanted to be involved in a qualifying campaign and I think the excitement and buzz that comes with it with so much on the line, and every game has so much importance," he said. "It's fantastic to be involved in this first camp and hopefully I can stay involved and help the team, and help the country, get to where we want to be and then kick on from there."
INJURY-FREE RISDON EYES SOCCEROOS RETURN
Josh Risdon has fallen out of Socceroos favour after an injury-affected year but hopes a strong season with Western United will put him back in the fold. The defender featured in all three of Australia's 2018 World Cup matches, before injury struck as he lost his spot to Sydney FC's Rhyan Grant this year.
Risdon was not included in Graham Arnold's squad for next week's game with Kuwait and said while he hadn't heard from the Socceroos boss, he was focused on finding form and fitness. "I'm just looking to get back playing and doing well here and then if it comes about that I can get back into the national team squad, that'd be great," Risdon said.
Risdon suffered a groin injury during the Asian Cup, then had an injury-affected A-League season with Western Sydney Wanderers. But after signing with Western United, the 27-year old has built fitness, featuring in the club's pre-season friendly matches.
"There's obviously a few games coming up with the World Cup qualifiers so the main thing for me is just to get fit and get back playing," Risdon said. "I haven't played a competitive game since early February but getting fit, back playing, get some games under my belt and then hopefully doing well and then you never know what could happen."
Risdon said he's enjoying his time with Western United, the A-League's newest team. "It's obviously very different but the club's done a lot in such a short space of time and the direction the club's heading in is very exciting and I'm just happy to be a part of it from the start," he said.
"There's good people in the club, we've got a great squad, (the) coaching staff's awesome. It's got a really good feel amongst the club and everyone's just really looking forward to that first game of the season."
WHY THE WEST IN THE FRAME FOR A SECOND NATIONAL LEAGUE SIDE (by David Davutovic, thewest.com.au)
The club, location and league remain contentious, but almost 23 years on from Perth Glory’s National Soccer League debut, a second West Australian team appears inevitable. The expanding A-League or newly formed second division - due to start in 2021 - should provide the west with an imminent opening.
With as many as 14 clubs required between the A-League - which will expand to 16 - and the second-tier competition, two new West Australian sides are possible. While opinions are divided on the path forward, Perth SC president Gary Marocchi said things were moving. “We need a second tier, everyone knows it will happen. It’s on the table,” he said.
“WA has got the talent, this would benefit young kids. We (Perth SC) wouldn’t have the funds to do it, unless someone committed (financially) for five years. I don’t think any club could go solo ... If there was a second team, I’d expect it to be a composite team run by the local body (Football West).”
West Australia’s second division role may be affected by the A-League, with the owners - who’ve taken charge from FFA - eager to create more derbies. Fremantle City was the only local bid, but one of 15 nationwide in the recent A-League expansion race, won by Victorian team Western United and Macarthur Rams (NSW) who join in 2020.
Fremantle is focused on the A-League. “The second division won’t be of interest to us. We’re focusing on capital raising for the A-League,” bid chief Maurice Oteri said. “I don’t think the second division will happen in the next 10 years. Budgets have got to be between $2 million to $5 million a year.”
Football West was coy on its role with regards to a new club. “It’s too early to tell (their role), depends what the second division looks like,” chairman Sherif Andrawes said. “Our role is to grow and improve the game in WA, ensure as many people are playing — facilities are a limiting factor. There’s a large gap between A-League and NPL and there’s a space for bridging it.”
What’s undoubted is the quality of West Australia’s (now global) player pool - and even a local-flavoured squad, a la Glory in their inaugural 1996-97 season - could be competitive, aided by quality visa signings. The two top scorers in Australia’s strongest semi-professional division, the Victorian National Premier League, moved east from Perth. Alex Salmon and Liam Boland have scored 55 goals between them in 2019.
“Good players in the WA NPL are good players in Victoria. It’s just the depth,” said Salmon, who played locally for Inglewood United and Armadale after spells in England and Scotland’s lower leagues. “At NPL level, there is no step to get into the A-League, so it’s not dog-eat-dog.”
A number of West Australia players have gone to South-East Asia, including Aryn Williams who signed with Indonesian club Persebaya Surabaya last week. Socceroos striker Adam Taggart is on the books of Suwon Bluewings (South Korea), Ndumba Makeche and Matthew Davies are plying their trade in Malaysian with Pulau Pinang and Pahang respectively.
Robbie Gaspar, who does extensive business and consultancy with Indonesia, where he had an illustrious career, said any new Perth teams must tap into South-East Asia on and off field. “If the right people were approached, there would be interest (in investing in a new club),” Gaspar said. “It would make sense for this club to genuinely engage with South-East Asia.”
Former Glory owner Nick Tana says he’s willing to act as a mentor to any prospective new clubs. Tana, who turned Glory into an Australian soccer behemoth – originally alongside co-owner Paul Afkos – has remained low-key since selling Glory in 2006. During Glory’s 2015 crisis, Tana stepped in, but Tony Sage has since stabilised the club.
Tana remains sharp as a tack and won a champion of entrepreneurship gong just weeks ago, but was reluctant to go all in. “Sounding board, advice? Yeah. I’m always up for that. I’d love to, more than happy to be involved,” Tana said. “In terms of being the face of it, no. I’m past that.”
Tana, a life member of Perth SC said a second division is a must, but also a huge logistical challenge both for Australia and West Australia. “Young players need it. Our problem is Australia’s size and the amount of entertainment and sports pushing for the same sponsorship dollar,” he said.
“If you want to do the second division with substance, you’ve got to make it a drawcard. If they can’t get the revenue base, it won’t be done correctly. You’ve got to get the right coaches and venues – they don’t have to be big, they can be simple little boutique.”
“It would have to be professional, or somehow a better arrangement with each (NPL). This game’s got the biggest participation and we’re not tapping into that at the professional level. The second division has to embrace, incorporate and touch all of the existing (top tier) clubs state by state.”
SAINSBURY DEBUTS IN ISRAELI DERBY
Socceroos defender Trent Sainsbury has made a strong start to life in the Isreali Premier League with Maccabi Haifa helping them claim a 0-0 draw against rivals Hapoel. Sainsbury only arrived at his new club during the week after signing from PSV Eindhoven and was forced to hit the ground running with a start in the Haifa derby.
Despite a late attacking flurry, Maccabi were unable to find a winner as Sainsbury claimed a clean sheet in his debut after coming off the bench in the second half. Fellow West Australian Nikita Rukavytsya started the match for Maccabi Haifa but was unable to repeat his two goal performance from last week's 4-3 win against Hapoel Ra'anana.
CAMERON LORD STEPS DOWN AS ROCKINGHAM COACH
Cameron Lord has told Rockingham City he will step down as First Team coach after two very successful seasons at the club due to personal reasons. The club released this media statement today. In 2018 Cameron guided the club to its first State League One title in over 40 years and its first ever promotion to the NPL and it’s great to see that the City of Rockingham have also recognised RCFC’s 1st team achievements as being selected as one of the finalists for the Team of the Year category at the prestigious 2019 Sports Star Awards on 19th September 2019 at the Gary Holland Centre.
In 2019 Lord ensured stability for the club by retaining its NPL status and took the side to the semi-final of the Belt-Up State League Cup. He and his coaching team’s achievements over the past two seasons on the park have been instrumental in taking this club forward and for this we are very grateful. We would like to extend our great thanks to Cameron for the job he has done in his second stint at the club and wish him all the best for the next step of his journey. Cameron has always worked diligently and with the greatest professionalism and we know this will bring him success in whatever he chooses next.
“First of all, thank you to Brian, Mike and Steph for giving me the opportunity,” Lord said. “Thank you to all committee members, coaching staff, players, supporters and sponsors for your commitment and support over the past two years. Having grown up with this club, to have had the opportunity to coach the first team and have the success we have had is something I will always be proud of. I leave Rockingham City with lots of fond memories and some fantastic victories, shared with some wonderful people and players.” Rockingham City will now move quickly to build on the foundations put in place by Cameron and his team in preparation for 2020 season and will make announcements regarding this very soon.
BELT UP AMATEUR LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION - ROUND NINETEEN REVIEW
Kingsley are one win away from the Belt -Up Amateur Premier Division after a stunning 6-0 win against Wembley Downs at Butlers Reserve. Going into the game Wembley had conceded the least amount of goals in the league, but they were taken apart by a clinical Kingsley outfit. The visitors opened the scoring on 26 minutes after Lee Thomas lost his marker at the near post to head home Simone Sichel’s cross. The home side went close to an equaliser before the break, after Juraj Galba found space in the penalty area, but failed to find the target. Galba was in again just after half time, but Kingsley keeper Ryan Moss stood tall to deny him, but on 76 minutes Kingsley showed the home side how to do it, doubling their lead. A wayward header was pounced on by Jayden Drummond who finished low past the keeper.
That goal opened the floodgates and it was 3-0 five minutes later, a long throw was dealt with a Drummond stabbed the ball home. It was 4-0 two minutes later with Joel Gillespie getting on the end of a long clearance to score and Sean Johnson added a fifth as Kingsley pressure told. They added a sixth in stoppage time, with the goal of the game, Lewis Flatt powerful shot flew into the net to give Steven Dimitrovich’s side a comprehensive win. “I was really proud of the lads and today game played out how we thought it was going to with Wembley sitting back and letting us have lots of possession and try hit us on the counter-attack,” the coach explained. “We said to them at half time if we keep pressing them, they will run out of steam and the game will open up which it did and our fitness really kicked in and allowed us to score heavily at the end of the game, so credit to my lads for their hard work.”
Quinns are still in touch with the leaders after a 5-1 win against Hamersley Rovers at Gumblossom Park. The hosts were ahead when Wayne Carter found space at the back post to tap home Liam Hunt’s cross. It should have been 2-0 when Andy Pandeli was found in the penalty area, but with the goal at his mercy he failed to hit the target. But Pandeli made emends for the that miss finishing well from Hunt’s great through ball to double the home sides advantage. It was 3-0 when Carter’s corner found David Long, whose glancing header gave the keeper no chance. It was soon 4-0 again it was Hunt ho was the supplier, this time his cross was bravely converted by Carter at the back post. They went close to a fifth late on, but Dave Ashworth’s effort was cleared off the line, but they did add a fifth before the final whistle Ryan McCready’s shot was blocked, but he was quickest to the rebound to head home. Rovers did score a late consolation goal, with Callum Wells-Murphy on target.
North Perth United bounced back from an indifferent run of form with a 3-2 win against Kwinana United at Kelly Park. “For the first 30 minutes we looked and played like North Perth Utd had done at the beginning of the season, and the game could have been settled early on,” North Perth Coach Alex Carter said. “However, we didn’t take our chances and left the door open and Kwinana got one soon before half time on the break. Again, conditioning took its toll on squad and we struggled in the last 25 minutes to keep controlled possession anywhere on the park. The boys have battled their socks off for each other in the last two weeks and we are just going to strive to finish the season off strongly.” The visitors were ahead early when Thierry Berard racing past two Kwinana defenders before smashing a long-range shot into the top corner of the net. They added a second moments later Berard was picked out in the box and he fired home from close-range. But the home side were back in the contest before half time with Glen Smith scoring. The home side levelled on the hour with Lee Bates on target and both sides pressed for the winner, but it was North Perth that found it. Ago Mujic played a great diagonal ball to Alpha Sheriff, ho first touch took him clear and he rounded the keeper to seal the points. New Kwinana coach Mark Pervis, who took over from Kris Donnell who resigned last week was happy with his side’s performance. “North Perth got off to a great start, and we were under pressure, but we manage to get it back to 2-1 at half time,” he explained. “We managed to find the equaliser and pushed on for the winner but got caught on the counter-attack. But after a difficult week the boys showed great character to come back from two down and I felt we should have had something from the game.”
Leeming Strikers continued their recent good form with a 12-0 win against Ellenbrook United at John Connell Reserve. Aydan Evans bagged five, Lucas Pickering four, David Palin two, with Danny McKenzie scoring the other. They lead 4-0 at the break, the pick the goals came from Lucas Pickering, the ball was only cleared to the top of the 18-yard box, Lucas running back to goal hit an overhead kick into the top corner. Pickering wrapped up his hat-trick to make it 6-0 when he was played into the box and slotted past an advancing keeper. Aydan Evans then got his hat-trick when he received the ball 30 metres out, he beat a man before hitting a 20-meter shot that flew into the roof of the net. 'The message to the players is just finish the season as best we can,” Leeming coach Palin said. “We to wanted make sure we gave them our full respect and play for the whole 90vminutes and we did that yesterday which was the most pleasing part. Ellenbrook to their credit did not stop for the whole game always looked to do the right things and though the score line was high they made us work for every goal and probably unlucky not to have one or two themselves.”
In other games Jags lost ground on the two above them after they drew 0-0 with UWA Nedlands at the UWA Sport Park. “The quality of play suffered from the conditions with both teams struggling to adapt to the slippery pitch,” UWA Coach Arthur Hiemstra said. “As always it was a close game, with both teams creating some good opportunities. The draw is probably a fair result and it is nice to maintain our unbeaten status against Jags over four seasons of playing them.” Joondalup United came home from Gerry Archer Sports Complex with all three points after a 3-0 win against Belmont Villa. The visitors took the lead when Neil Sherwin’s free kick found Sam Davis who cushioned a header to Liam Fryer, who headed home. It was 2-0 when Kitson Catalfamo finished clinically. They wrapped up the points when Belmont keeper failed to clear the ball and Fryer nipped around him and slotted home his second. Both sides ended the game with ten men. “It wasn’t a great performance today, but we were missing a few players and the lads that stepped in did well and showed the depth we have,” Joondalup coach Ben Williams said. “So to win ugly is fantastic and was nice to bounce back after loss last week.” “First of all, thank you to Brian, Mike and Steph for giving me the opportunity,” Lord said. “Thank you to all committee members, coaching staff, players, supporters and sponsors for your commitment and support over the past two years. Having grown up with this club, to have had the opportunity to coach the first team and have the success we have had is something I will always be proud of. I leave Rockingham City with lots of fond memories and some fantastic victories, shared with some wonderful people and players.” Rockingham City will now move quickly to build on the foundations put in place by Cameron and his team in preparation for 2020 season and will make announcements regarding this very soon.
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This page was last updated on the 29th August, 2019