TANGERINES BOSS PLEASED WITH BIRIGHITTI RESURGENCE
Jim Goodwin has hailed the resurgence of Dundee United keeper Mark Birighitti. The West Australian had come under-fire for some below-par performances and a high-profile blunder that saw him lose his number one slot. But Goodwin’s arrival has given him a new lease of life and the new boss has been happy with the 31-year old ’keeper.
“I have to say, I’ve been very happy with Mark in the last couple of games,” commented Goodwin. “I know he has come in for some criticism in recent weeks but his reaction since I came in has been excellent. He has looked fairly assured in the games we’ve played. I couldn’t point the finger at him over any of the goals we’ve conceded.
“Much like every other player out there, confidence plays a part. With Mark, it’s a case of getting that self-belief back and realising he’s a very good keeper when he’s on his game. You could say that about a number of players in the squad, so that’s been the message to him and to a number of others. And we’ve seen a positive reaction from them all.”
BOLTON'S JONES MAKES SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY OBSERVATION WITH WEMBLEY BECKONING
Sheffield Wednesday will be the last team that Bolton Wanderers face before their trip to Wembley early next month. The Owls host Bolton on Friday evening in a crucial League One encounter at Hillsborough, with the Trotters looking to get back to winning ways after two defeats and a draw in their last three league games.
Gethin Jones, who is expected to feature this weekend as well as in the Papa Johns Trophy final in a few weeks’ time, says he and his teammates need to focus on the here and now of facing the Owls and to not get too hung up on recent results. “Since I was a young lad I’ve seen confidence come in and out,” said Jones.
“If we played Tuesday night and won 3-0 then confidence goes sky high again. That is why in football you have to be level-headed at all times, not get sky-high when you win and not too low when you lose... there are a lot of young lads in the squad at the moment, so us older players need to pick them back up and get things back together.”
“I’ve been here two-and-a-half years now and back then we were going through a real rough patch in League Two, but we came out of it with promotion. We just need to stick at this as a group, don’t look too far down the line. First and foremost that starts with a performance at Sheffield Wednesday.”
Wednesday took all three points when they met in the reverse fixture earlier in the campaign and have gone from strength to strength since then. Jones knows that it will be a tough game this weekend. “You never know in this league,” he commented. “We have still got nine big games, starting with Sheffield Wednesday away.”
“If results go our way and we can get on a run again, you never know what might happen. We need to look at ourselves first, get back to the training ground, get back to playing the way we want to play. We know Sheffield Wednesday are flying and it is going to be a big crowd again... every game will be massive from here to the end of the season and it’ll be a big atmosphere there, so we need to be ready for it.”
CHARLTON GOALKEEPER MAYNARD-BREWER SIGNS NEW LONG-TERM DEAL
Goalkeeper Ashley Maynard-Brewer has signed a long-term contract which will keep him at English League One club Charlton Athletic unti mid-2026. The Addicks had an option within the young Australian 'keeper's deal to trigger a 12-month extension on his old terms, which were due to expire in the summer.
Maynard-Brewer has featured 18 times this season with manager Dean Holden opting to continue with the 23-year old even after Ghanaian international Joe Wollacott returned from a broken finger. "I'm really open-minded and when I first came in all the players had an opportunity," Holden told 'the South London Press'.
"Ash still has a lot to learn, he is a young goalkeeper still finding his way in men's football in some respects. But his performances have been excellent and there is a lot of growth to come from him – there is a high ceiling to how much better he can get. He's nowhere near the finished article. One of the biggest things is his temperament is excellent. It's important for a goalkeeper to be really calm."
"There are things he needs to improve on, his communication and the way he commands his box, but that will come with maturity and age. I'm really pleased with him. He makes big saves and is a good size. As well as being a good size he is very agile, very athletic. What is a modern goalkeeper? They used to be a great big size in the old days and not very mobile."
"Hugo Lloris was one of the first of the modern ones – really mobile, gets across his goal quickly and makes big saves – can get down low. Ash has made some really impressive saves, the one at Forest Green is just one example. Some people think the most important thing is how good a keeper can be with their feet. Obviously it's important but the bigger thing for me is making saves."
KERR SENDS CHELSEA BACK TO THE TOP
Sam Kerr has lifted Chelsea back to the top of the English Womens Super League, scoring the only goal as the Blues beat Manchester United 1-0 on Sunday afternoon. The Matildas skipper, had been involved in eight goals in her five WSL appearances against United prior to this contest and she started this one looking to continue that streak – in which see duly obliged. Her audacious lobbed finish on 23 minutes, which was set up by a superb pass and assist from Lauren James, was the only goal of the game in what was a typical tight and cagey top-of-the-table clash.
Big players decide big games and that was the case in Surrey on Sunday lunchtime. The Blues are now 13 games unbeaten in the WSL since the opening day trip to Liverpool, and moved above the visitors who started the day a point clear of Emma Hayes’s side. It was United who had the most of the ball in the opening exchanges but twice Kerr found herself in a very dangerous positions early on, with signs of what was to come evident from the early exchanges.
The pick of the early chances came the Australian's way, as she was sent through on goal by Jessie Fleming just 12 minutes in, with just the goalkeeper to beat, but Mary Earps was equal to it. Kerr got another chance just after the hour, receiving the ball after a misplaced Katie Zelem pass, but Millie Turner got across to block her shot behind for a corner.
Chelsea stifled the visitors and limited them too very little. The closest United came in the opening 45 minutes was from Alessia Russo who stung the palms of Berger, but her shot was directly at the German custodian. The game became end-to-end in the second period, although a second goal did become seemingly unlikely as the game wore on, with the Blues managing the game in ways they so often do to seal the win.
REDSTAR AND PERTH TO MEET IN NIGHT SERIES FINAL
Next week’s NPL Women’s Night Series Final will see holders Perth RedStar take on Perth SC after both won tense semi-finals on Sunday at E&D Litis Stadium. In the early game, RedStar booked their place in the final after a hard fought 2-1 win against Fremantle City. “They (Fremantle) had a lot of new faces so we didn’t know what to expect when coming into the game,” RedStar’s Olivia Wood explained. “But as a team we had great overall structure and confidence on the ball which made us look like the better team.
“I think the score didn’t reflect the game as we should’ve have been up by four in the first half but unfortunately the clear chances did not hit the back of the net. Fremantle were a very strong side and will definitely be a hard challenge for the upcoming season. But we always take one game at a time, so now our focus is on the grand final which will be the toughest game yet for sure.”
It was the RedStar who took control in the first half with goals from Japanese import Chiori Ikeda and Jay Coleman giving them a 2-0 lead at the break. But Fremantle weren’t finished and Mikayla Lyons reduced the margin for Fay Chambers’ side, but they couldn’t find the equaliser.
“We knew going into this game that Fremantle would battle hard for the win, they are a strong and physical team who look like they will be competitive this year under new coach Fay Chambers,” RedStar coach Carlos Vega Mena said. “We were able to dominate the first half and scored the two goals that gave us a comfortable lead going into the second. But Fremantle came out strong after the break, but we managed to bring home the win and look forward to facing Perth in next week’s final.”
In the late game Perth SC edged out the Hyundai NTC Women’s side 4-2 on penalties after the game ended 1-1 in normal time. “The game was intense as a lot was at stake, but I thought we played well enough to win it and luckily for us we didn’t miss any penalties,” Perth striker Ella Lincoln said. “Last season we could not beat the NTC, so to go through to the final is great for the team and the club. We have been working hard at training so we are all looking forward to playing in the final.”
It was Lincoln who gave the Azzurri the lead, but the NTC levelled 20 minutes from time, with Tanika Lalla scoring, so it was off to penalties, and Perth keeper Rebecca Bennett who was the hero, saving the third penalty, and stepping up to take the winning penalties, and Perth coach Peter Rakic was delighted with his side’s fighting spirit. “It was a tough match and the longer it went on, it appeared that it would always come down to the finer margins, whether it was a special moment or a mistake,” he explained.
“We often have these tense affairs with NTC, quite cagey and even erratic at times with neither team truly dominating, but we're always taking the positives. Whether it's penalties or a convincing win, the important thing is advancing and earning ourselves a shot at lifting the trophy. The girls are in such high spirits now, we'll be well prepared to take on RedStar this week and it's a perfect opportunity to really test ourselves against the former champions.”
TEN MAN GLORY STUN THE WANDERERS
Perth Glory have ended their six-game run without a win, with Aaron McEneff scoring deep into stoppage time to give them a sensational 1-0 win against second placed Western Sydney Wanderers in the round 20 Isuzu Ute A-League clash at HBF Park. It was more remarkable as the Glory played most of the game with ten men, after defender Jordan Elsey was shown a red card on two minutes
But Glory held firm the Wanderers wasting a number of good opportunities, and keeper Cameron Cook making a number of important saves. Wanderers were also reduced to ten men late in the game with former Glory defender Tomi Mrcela, and McEneff deflected shot sent the home fans into raptures. “I’m really, really proud of the guys,” Glory coach Ruben Zadkovich said post-match. “Those moments, a red card that early in the game, tests the depth of players’ character and belief and I’m just super-proud that the reaction was that way.
“For me, it’s not a red card. It might be a yellow card, he’s caught him in the back of the leg, but to send him off in the first minute for a challenge like that, for me ruins the game. It makes it too much about the referees, which in the A-League, you’ve only got to look at the stats this year with the number of red cards and suspensions, that’s becoming a huge talking point: referees and decisions. I think they need to stay out of the game a bit and let the guys play.
“You need a little bit of luck in those moments as well and we haven’t had much luck in the last five or six weeks. We’ve had some good performances and lost… but tonight, defensively especially, there was a lot of effort and a real togetherness and a real belief and that probably makes me most proud.”
Glory went into this one without suspended skipper Mustafa Amini and the injured Salim Khelfi, with Luke Bodnar returned to the starting line-up, while Ryan Williams and Darryl Lachman returned from suspension, with David Williams dropping to the bench. It was back to HBF Park for the Glory, and the fans had only just sat in their seats when Glory were reduced to ten, Elsey’s clumsy challenge on Yeni Ngbakoto, saw referee Alex King send the defender off.
It was backs to the wall from then on, as the Wanderers looked to close the game on leaders Melbourne City, and Brandon Borello went close twice early, before Cook made a smart save to deny Adama Traore as they dictated terms. The Glory custodian then saved well to thwart Morgan Schneiderlin, before Lachman deflected Milos Ninkovic’s effort around the post. Glory struggled to create any clear-cut chances, the best fell to Adam Taggart late, but his shot was blocked, and at the break it was all-square.
The visitors were on the front foot after the break and the lively Borrello saw his glancing header flash inches wide of the far post, and moments later his low shot beat Cook, but the post came to his rescue. Cook was keeping his side in the game, getting down well to save from Yeni Ngbakoto, before Ninkovic somehow missed a chance at the back post.
Cook was at it again just after the hour, tipping Calem Nieuwenhof’s effort onto the post and the Wanderers midfielder hit the crossbar moments later as the visitors continued to push for the opening goal. The ten-man Glory were working overtime to keep the Wanderers at bay, but six minutes from time it was ten v ten, after David Williams was brought down by Mrcela, and the referee deemed he was the last man and sent the defender off. That lifted the crowd and the Glory and they pressed for the winner, but it looked like the points would be shared.
But in the fifth minute of stoppage time, Glory found the winner. Ryan Williams made space down the left, his cross was only cleared to the edge of the box and McEneff and his shot deflected off former WA NTC player Tom Beadling, wrong footing Wanderers keeper Lawrence Thomas and sending the Shed, and the rest of HBF Park into delirium.
Wanderers coach Mark Rudan said it wasn’t their night. “I can’t fault the players, it was just one of those games where it wasn’t your night,” he said post-match. “It wasn’t through a lack of trying – we had 30 shots, we hit the post a few times, the keeper makes world-class saves. It just didn’t fall for us. I believe that if we had got that first one, it would have been game over.”
Perth Glory: GK Cameron COOK, 2 John KOUTROUMBIS, 4 Luke BODNAR (19 Zach DUNCAN 81'), 5 Mark BEEVERS, 6 Aaron MCENEFF, 7 Ryan WILLIAMS, 14 Jack CLISBY, 15 Jordan ELSEY, 16 Keegan JELACIC, 22 Adam TAGGART (18 David WILLIAMS 81'), 29 Darryl LACHMAN - Subs not used: RGK Pierce CLARK, 3 Jacob DOWSE, 28 Trent OSTLER, 37 Jacob MUIR, 43 Adam ZIMARINO - Red Cards: Elsey 2’
Western Sydney Wanderers: GK Lawrence THOMAS, 3 Adama TRAORE, 4 Morgan SCHNEIDERLIN (8 Oliver BOZANIC 26'), 5 Tomi MRCELA, 10 Milos NINKOVIC (33 Alexander BONETIG 86'), 11 Amor LAYOUNI (14 Nicolas MILANOVIC 86'), 16 Tom BEADLING, 17 Romain AMALFITANO (21 Jarrod CARLUCCIO 78'), 23 Yeni NGBAKOTO (9 Kusini YENGI 78'), 26 Brandon BORRELLO, 28 Calem NIEUWENHOF -Subs not used: RGK Daniel MARGUSH, 19 Daniel WILMERING - Red Cards: Mrcela 84’ – Attendance: 7,980 - Referee: Alex KING
OLYMPIC CROWNED NPL MENS NIGHT SERIES WINNERS
Olympic Kingsway have become the first team to win the NPLWA (Premier League) Night Series after promotion from the State League, after a 4-2 penalty shootout win against Inglewood United in Saturdays Grand Final at Frank Drago Reserve. Newly-promoted Olympic will head into the new season on a high, after coming from behind in normal time to draw 1-1, and then seal the title in a tense shootout.
Michael Domfeh had given Inglewood the lead early, and they had chances to double their lead, but Olympic hit just before half time with Ciaran Byrne firing home from the spot. Both sides had chances to win it in normal time, but in the shootout, Inglewood missed two, and it was Oscar Barry who sealed the dramatic win.
Olympic Head Coach David Tough was proud of his players, and the clubs supporters on the night. “We are thrilled to have brought the Night Series trophy back to Kingsway, the first time the club has claimed the title since 1980,” he explained post-match. “It's a testament to the hard work of our Board and Committee, who have tirelessly supported the team both on and off the field. I’d like to give special recognition to Harry Trandos, whose been a driving force behind the club's resurgence.
“Despite conceding an early goal, we maintained our passing style and I thought we dominated large portions of the game especially in the first half. We were unable to convert our chances, but we stayed focused and fought hard in the second half, but Inglewood posed a real threat on the counter attack. A penalty shootout is a lottery, and we are grateful to have come out on top. The team enjoyed their well-deserved celebration, but we will be back in training on Tuesday, fully focused on our upcoming NPL fixture against Stirling. We look forward to continuing our success on the field and making our fans proud.”
Olympic midfielder Tyler Garner, who won the Player of the Match medal in the game, said it was great win for the club. “Absolutely buzzing with the result, “he said post-match. “We kept the ball well, created a lot of chances throughout the game and I think we deserved the equaliser just before half time. It’s always a tough one when a final is decided on penalties, but we are delighted to start the year off with a trophy.”
It was a bright start from Inglewood, and they were rewarded with the lead on five minutes. Dhours Chol sent Domfeh into goal, but his shot was saved by Malek Kuc, the rebound falling to Harry Evans, his shot was deflected into the path of Domfeh, and he made no mistake second time around. Olympic looked for an immediate response with Cian Hirrell firing inches past the post from distance.
They were in again on 17 minutes, Liam Murray slipping the ball to Garner, who turned his marker on the edge of the box, but he fired straight at Alex Dunn. Moments later Murray eased past his marker on the left, his cross was only inches away from the sliding Byrne at the back post. Domfeh was a constant threat and stung the palms of Kuc, but Olympic hit back and a neat give and go by Sasa Njegic and Byrne on the edge of the box sent the latter clear, but his shot was saved low by Dunn, before Murray’s run and shot flashed just wide of the upright after a good advantage played by referee Shane Skinner.
But on 41 minutes Olympic did find the equaliser, Njegic low cross was well cleared by Chris Tilson, the ball only going as far as Hirrell, who controlled the ball and was brought down by Rene Kisesa and the referee pointed straight to the spot. Byrne stepped and dispatched the penalty expertly past Dunn to bring the sides level. Inglewood almost regained the lead in the final minute, Matthew Ntoumenopoulous’ curling free kick almost found the net, Olympic keeper getting a hand to prevent it doing so, and at the break we were all-square.
Inglewood was out of the blocks early in the second half, Shubham Mokala racing into the box in the opening minute, his shot saved low by the alert Kuc. The Olympic custodian then produced a stunning save to deny Domfeh a second, the strikers header was creeping in the top corner, but Kuc get across superbly to save. It was a great game of football for the big crowd and Olympic hit back, Njegic making space down the right, his low cross was fired inches past the far post by Byrne.
Njegic was giving the Inglewood defence all sorts of problems down the flanks, and on 51 minutes he cut in from the right, but his shot flashed across the face of goal, with Dunn at full stretch. The action returned to the other end with Mokala twisting and turning in the box, before his shot found the side netting. The game was ebbing and flowing, and the outstanding Garner then stung the palms of Dunn at the other end, as both sides pressed for the next goal.
Substitute Chad Nilson then went close for Inglewood, but his shot on the run was over the top, before Evans’ deflected shot dropped inches over the top. Then on 76 minutes Inglewood thought they had regained the lead, Evans flicking on Mokala, who picked out Domfeh, and the striker finished with aplomb from the edge of the box. Inglewood celebrated as the goal was awarded by the referee, but after talking to his assistant on the far side the goal was ruled out for a foul by Evans on Daniel Walsh in the build-up, it looked a little harsh.
Garner then saw his effort saved low by Dunn, before Evans’ teasing cross was well claimed by Kuc, as the game continued to go end-to-end. Both sides had chances to win it normal time, Nilson firing just wide of the far post, while O’Connell blazed over the top after being picked out by Michael Zimarino, so we were off to penalties.
Byrne converted the first for Olympic, but Anthony Bafobusha saw his first saved low by Kuc. Garner then put Olympic 2-0 up, before Nilson scored to make it 2-1. Olympic skipper Shane Cassidy than had his penalty saved by Dunn, and Inglewood were back in it, but Mokala handed back the advantage, skying his penalty over the top. Ollie Annis scored his spot kick to make it 3-1, and Dylan White scored his, so it was up to Barry to win for David Tough’s side and he sent Dunn the wrong way to sela the win for Olympic, in a thrilling Night series Final.
Inglewood striker Harry Evans said it was a great game, but it wasn’t their night. “A decent final and an end-to-end game, it’s never nice to lose in the way of penalties, it is always a lottery,” he said post-match. “I thought we had done enough in the 90 minutes to win the game and we scored late on for it to be ruled out by the linesman for an apparent foul in the build up after the ref had already given the goal. But it’s been a great pre-season from us and we will take the positives from this night series and look to focus on the league and carry on this momentum and wish Olympic Kingsway all the best for the season ahead.”
Olympic Kingsway: GK Malek KUC, 3 Daniel WALSH, 4 Cian HIRRELL (12 James FANELLI 86’), 5 Calum O’CONNELL, 9 Ciaran BYRNE, 10 Tyler 13 Sasa NJEGIC (19 Oscar BARRY 79’), 14 Liam MURRAY (11 Michael ZIMARINO 79’), 15 Shane CASSIDY, 16 David PERICH (8 Ollie ANNIS 71’), 17 Josh SAMSON - Subs not used: RGK David KEENAN, 18 Daniel HARRISON
Inglewood United: GK Alex DUNN, 3 Roberto DEL BORELLO, 4 Ciaran SALINGER, 6 Matthew NTOUMENOPOULOUS, 8 Harry EVANS (17 Dylan WHITE 79’), 9 Michael DOMFEH, 13 Rene KISESA (7 Chad NILSON 58’), 14 Dhours CHOL (10 Anthony BAFOBUSHA 58’), 18 Joseph MARINO, 19 Chris TILSON, 20 Shubham MOKALA – Subs not used: RGK Anthony LANCE, 2 Alex ISHIDA-LIVINGS, 5 Ryan HOGAN, 11 Egide NGENDAKUMANA – Referee: Shane Skinner
MANDURAH BEAT FREMANTLE IN A NIGHT SERIES THRILLER
Mandurah City have won a sensational State League Night Series Final, beating Fremantle City 6-5 on penalties, after the game ended in a thrilling 3-3 draw at Frank Drago Reserve on Saturday evening. The Dolphins won the 2021 final, but this one even more special, in a game that had everything. It looked like Mandurah were in control with goals from Robbie Galvin and Shaun Mukwehvo with 30 minutes remaining, but Fremantle had other ideas.
Pat Loughrey pulled one back, before Alex McLean and Ollie La Galia gave Fremantle the lead. Then with the last kick of the game substitute Sam Byrne fired Mandurah level, and they held their nerve in the shootout to seal a memorable victory. “It was a thrilling game and exactly what you imagine a final to be, and for me personally it was great to come off the bench and make an impact on the game,” Byrne said post-match.
“The atmosphere and the intensity was amazing to experience as a young player, and too come back so late on in the game shows the strength and character we have in the team and what we can achieve this season. To be two goals ahead and concede three so quickly could have put us down, and out but it’s a credit to the team to come back and win a penalty shootout which tipped the night off.”
Hamish van Dieken missed the semi-final with injury, but he was integral in the win on the night. “Fantastic game for a final that was full of real highs and lows. Obviously going 2-0 up was great and we really should have killed the game then but credit to Fremantle for coming back into the game and turning the tables,” he said post-match.
“We had a 10-minute period where we lost three goals which was very poor and showed how dangerous Fremantle can be. We kept fighting to the end and eventually got our reward through a wonder strike by Sammy (Byrne) and then having experienced a penalty shootout last week I felt well prepared for another one, so all in all it’s another piece of silverware for our team and I couldn’t be prouder of the boys.”
It was and even opening to the game and Fremantle’s Ollie La Galia had the best chance early, rounding Mandurah keeper Alfie Brincat, but firing wide of the target. But it was the Dolphins who found the opener just after the half hour. Craig Barker sent Hamish Van Dieken down the right, and he cut the ball back from the bye-line, and Galvin fired home from five meters. Mandurah had another big chance before the break, Joe O’Brien’s shot was cleared off the line by Giovanni Soares, but at the break it was 1-0 to Mandurah.
Fremantle went close early in the second half, with Joshua Macri shot from the edge of the box superbly saved by the alert Brincat, but it was 2-0 to Mandurah on the hour. Player/coach John Baird’s corner picked out an unmarked Shaun Mukwehvo in the six-yard box, and he headed into the roof of the net. It looked game over, but six minutes later Fremantle found a lifeline, Riley van Dieken’s long-range shot was only parried by Brincat, the rebound fell La Galia on the left of the box, and he beat his marker and crossed to Loughrey, who made no mistake, and it was game on.
The Fremantle supporters were in full voice, and they were on their feet again ten minutes later when they levelled. Anthony Topini’s free kick picked out Alex Mclean, who lost his marker to head powerfully home. Fremantle were on top, and Mandurah saw their lead disappear 60 seconds later, substitute Roberto Soares won possession on the left and raced forward, before slipping in La Galia, who finished clinically past Brincat.
Mandurah were now chasing the game and they brought on new signing, former Celtic and Scotland striker Leigh Griffiths, but it looked like Fremantle had held firm, but in the fifth minutes of stoppage time, Mandurah restored parity. Fremantle failed to clear a corner, the ball falling to Byrne, and the substitutes shot flew past Jordan Barbas, to send the game to a shootout.
All the penalties were scored, but at 5-5, the unfortunate Elliot Ireland fired over the top to seal a dramatic victory for John Baird’s side, with Harry Collins taking out the Player of the Match medal. “Outstanding achievement winning the Night Series Cup for our supporters and members,” the coach said post-match. “The players showed great adversity to produce in the end which shows the character we have in our squad.”
Mandurah City: GK Alfie BRINCAT, 4 Harry COLLINS, 5 Shaun MUKWEVHO, 7 Murray MACKINTOSH, 9 Joe O’BRIEN (31 Leigh GRIFFITHS 80’), 10 Craig BARKER, 18 Hamish VAN DIEKEN, 19 Lydon HODGKISS, 22 Graham TOUGH, 29 John BAIRD, 44 Robbie GALVIN (15 Sam BYRNE 64’) – Subs not used: RGK Brad STOUT, 2 James OLDFIELD, 3 Afian GIYANTO, 14 Jordi CALLAGHAN, 24 Zak BYRNE
Fremantle City: GK Jordan BARBAS, 2 Joshua MACRI (19 Ollie PARRY 83’), 3 Pat LOUGHREY, 5 Hayden STEVENS, 6 Elliott IRELAND, 7 Hamza HINA (20 Roberto SOARES 56’), 8 Anthony TOPINI, 9 Ollie LA GALIA, 11 Riley VAN DIEKEN, 16 Brian PATTERSON (15 Alex MCLEAN 56’), 21 Giovanni SOARES – Subs not used: 14 Chris THACKRAY, 17 Martim GALVAO, 18 Adrian CIAPINI – Referee: Andre Ferreira
AMATEUR NIGHT SERIES – WEEK TWO REVIEW
It was the second round of the Amateur Night Series, and the semi-final spots are still up for grabs. In Group A, Jaguar took a huge step towards qualifying after a brace from Magai Deng, gave them a 2-0 win against Wembley Downs in the early game at the Ellenbrook Sports Hub. “It was very difficult for us in the sense that our boys struggled to cope with Wembley Downs physicality and quality of play, we tried to execute our various approaches on the opposition but to no avail as we played against a very disciplined side,” Jags coach Josam Muwowo explained.
“However, a bit of luck was on our side in the first half as we utilised two quick opportunities through Magai (Deng) sensational who went home with a brace. Overall, it was another good chance for us coaches to assess some new inclusions in the squad who showed some positive signs. Otherwise, these so much room for improvement in our squad and we are just taking one step at a time as we don't want to apply so much pressure to our boys. We are all aware in the team that this is pre-season course. We are just trusting the process and see how the situation unfolds.”
In the late game at the venue North Perth United bounced back from a first round loss to beat Maccabi 3-1. It was Maccabi who hit the front early, but Scott Blackmore curled home from outside the box to level for United. Kyle Jackson got the second after good work from Brian Woodall, before Ben James smashed in the third late in the game to seal the game. “Good to bounce back after last week's game,” North Perth skipper Kelechi Osunwa said. “Maccabi are a really good side who play an attractive style but we were able to show some serious character in that second half with three good goals.”
In Group B, Division One club Port Kennedy edged closer to a spot in the knockout stage after Brendan Pratt’s goal gave them 1-0 win against hosts Kwinana United in the late game at Kelly Park, the win delighting coach Liam Harvey. “It was great to get another win in the night series, and the lads are starting to gel, and we are at times playing some really good football,” he said. “Many of the lads felt like we were stuck in third gear and still have a couple of levels to go before we reach our best, so we will hit the training track hard this week and see if we can raise it a gear in our Australia Cup game against Busselton City this weekend.”
In the early game Peel United kept their hopes alive with a 2-0 win against South West Phoenix. United found the opener when Alfie Birmingham made space down right, and his low cross picked out Mitch Kelman, who was brought down, and the referee pointed to the spot, with Scott Martin firing home the resulting penalty. They doubled their lead with a stunner from Mitchell Stopher, volleying home to seal the win. “All in all, a strong commanding performance from our lads which brings us merit after battling for a 2-2 draw with ten men last week,” new Peel coach Daryl Willmott said.
“The first half was end-to-end, but after the break we got on top and used the width of the pitch and get in some dangerous areas behind the Phoenix defence. I thought we had complete control in the second half and made a number of chances, but the Phoenix keeper was outstanding. We now look forward to playing Curtain University this week in our first appearance in FFA/Australia cup.”
In Group C Joondalup United bounced back from a first up loss to beat Quinns 4-2 in the early game at Forrest Park. First half goals from Matt Cherrie and Dom-Brearo Elliot set the tone, before Cherrie added a second with Jordan Lewis making it 4-0. Quinns pulled two goals back late, with Will Oldfield and Connor McCready on target, but it was too little too late. “The boys bounced back from a disappointing defeat last week and with some important players back in the squad we took the lead early on and set the tone for the majority of the match,” Joondalup’s Aidan McGurk explained.
“Last week we started extremely slowly and found ourselves on the back foot immediately, so it was a positive reaction from the boys to take the lessons learned last week into the game this week. Quinn’s did dominate in the closing minutes of the game and found themselves halving the deficit with five minutes to go, however the fast start from the boys put us in a position to see out the rest of the game in front for a deserved win.”
In the late game at the venue North Beach and holders East Perth fought out a 0-0 draw, the result ending Eat Perth’s hold on the trophy. “We were very impressed with the lad’s performance today all across the pitch. We felt we had large periods of control, but were unable to capitilise on the chances we created in the second half,” North Beach coach Nick Di Carlo said. “East Perth are a well-coached unit, so to match it with a top team only gives us more confidence going into the final round.”
East Perth Coach said there was an improvement from his side, something they need to build on. “A very enjoyable game yesterday and a much better performance from us, I thought both sides had some good chances and it was a very good game,’ he explained. “We made seven changes from last week and the lads were a lot better and structured from last performance. North Beach is very good fit side and very good on the counter, so obviously we didn’t get the win, but definitely positive signs for us and another busy week working hard in training ahead.”
In Group D Emerald maintained their perfect start, beating Southern Spirit 5-2 in the early game at Beale Park. They were out of the blocks early, with a brace from Steven Pollock in the opening ten minutes, and had chances to increase the lead, but Spirit pulled one back from the spot before half time. After the break Conor Hogan bagged a brace, with James Craig firing home a rocket of a free kick to seal a comprehensive win.
“During half time we spoke about how important the opening 15 minutes of the second half would be and it was great to see how we were able to maintain a high press, not giving Southern Spirit any time on the ball, and forcing them into making mistakes. It’s something we’ve been focusing on a lot in training to enjoyable to see us get some rewards from it,” Emerald’s Fergal Corry explained. “So overall, we were happy with the performance and looking forward to our next test against Kelmscott next week to decide the group winners.”
In the late game at the venue Kelmscott Roos also made it back-to-back wins after a 3-2 win against South Perth United. It was South Perth who opened the scoring with George Stephens scoring, but the Roos hit back with Amos Doegolia scoring a great free kick. After half time Kelmscott hit the front, with Ishmael Greywood curling a free kick over the wall and into the net. Greywood bagged a third, with yet another free kick to seal the game, although South Perth did pull one back late, Jack Dalla Via scoring a free kick, but it was just a consolation.
“The game was a real test for us, after a week of major interruptions with our head coach Richard Chanadzo stepping down and new coach Alan Armstrong taking over,” Kelmscott keeper Taylor Warwick said. “We came into the game with a real hunger to get one over South Perth, and we started the game well, controlling most of the possession and creating some half chances that we couldn’t put away. The second half was much like the first, we controlled a lot of possession but this time turning it into some really big chances, and we took two. So, a win next week against Emerald sees us into the semi-finals for the second season in a row and that is our next target.”
GLORY’S FINAL HOPES DENT A BLOW IN ADELAIDE
Perth Glory’s six-game unbeaten Liberty A-League run has come to end, and dented their finals hopes in the process, as Adelaide United came from behind to run out 2-1 winners at the ServiceFM Stadium on Saturday afternoon. After a tight first half, with chances few and far between, it was the visitors who hit the front almost immediately after the restart when Hannah Blake grabbed her second goal of the season from close-range.
But the hosts restored parity within three minutes, with Dylan Holmes’ shot rebounded off the post onto the luckless Morgan Aquino and the ball then crept over the line. Fiona Worts header made it 2-1 to United 20 minutes from time, and although substitutes Alana Jancevski and Abbey Green both went close right at the death, Glory were unable to find the equaliser.
The loss, and Melbourne Victory win in the derby against Melbourne City on Monday means Glory are seven points adrift of fourth-placed Melbourne Victory, but Head Coach Alex Epakis certainly believes that their hopes of a finals spot remain alive. “It [the result] leaves us in a position where we have to work even harder now, that’s the reality of it,” he said post-match. “We obviously had a strong hold on competing for that fourth spot and we’re certainly not going to give up hope on that.
“We’re going to push ourselves and challenge ourselves to keep going with that drive for a top-four finish. Today was a performance that went down to fine margins and moments and on this occasion, and Adelaide were better in those little moments. We had a good performance, but not a great performance and as a result, we left ourselves open to fine margins. Ultimately, we weren’t good enough in a few key areas today.”
Glory created a number of chances in a hard-fought first half, with Reds ‘keeper Annalee Grove making a scrambling save to keep Cyera Hintzen at bay and then producing a smart save to prevent a Maruschka Waldus header from flying into her own net. Hintzen also went close with a header before the break, but Glory was not to be denied for much longer once the second half got underway.
Four minutes in, Sofia Sakalis found Hintzen down the left, who in turn fed Hana Lowry and her cross was turned into the net by Blake at the far post. Unfortunately for the visitors, they were pegged back almost immediately, Aquino the helpless scorer of an own-goal as Holmes’ shot cannoned back off the woodwork, into her legs and over the line. Blake then missed a golden opportunity to restore Glory’s lead, placing her shot over the bar with the goal gaping having been picked out by Lowry and the Reds went on to capitalise upon that let-off.
It came as no surprise that it was Worts who bagged what proved to be the hosts’ winner, the English striker capping an excellent performance by racing in at the far post to nod a deep cross from the right past Aquino. Glory pressed late looking for the equaliser in the latter stages and came close to doing so on two occasions, but Jancevski’s lob from a Demi Koulizakis cross drifted wide and Grove made another fine save to block Green’s stoppage-time effort at point-blank range.
Adelaide United Head Coach, Adrian Stenta, was left ‘really proud’ of his side, following their comeback win. “We almost threw it away there at the end,” he said. “A little bit of adversity again, coming out cold in the start of the second half and giving away a cheap goal. But it’s been building for a few weeks and, once again, we went behind and responded. The girls ran really hard and put in a lot of effort, coming into the game with a really aggressive mindset, which is what we tried to do. I’m really proud because (this result) shows that the group’s got resilience.”
Adelaide United: GK Annalee GROVE, 2 Emily HODGSON, 6 Jenna McCORMICK, 7 MelindaJ BARBIERI, 12 Nanako SASAKI, 14 Meisha WESTLAND, 15 Katie BOWLER (28 Chrissy PANAGARIS 84'), 16 Dylan HOLMES, 17 Zoe TOLLAND (4 Erin KONTOUTSIKOS 90+7'), 19 Maruschka WALDUS, 23 Fiona WORTS (9 Paige HAYWARD 89') - Subs not used: RGK Jenna FARROW
Perth Glory: GK Morgan AQUINO, 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Natasha RIGBY, 7 Liz ANTON, 8 Hana LOWRY (9 Demi KOULIZAKIS 69'), 12 Sofia SAKALIS (17 Abbey GREEN 56'), 13 Sarah CAIN (21 Ella MASTRANTONIO 69'), 14 Hannah BLAKE, 15 Cyera HINTZEN, 18 Sadie LAWRENCE, 19 Izzy FOLETTA (23 Alana JANCEVSKI 77') - Subs not used: RGK Sarah LANGMAN – Attendance: 975 - Referee: Bec Mackie
BIRIGHITTI INSISTS CRITICISM ‘MEANS NOTHING’
Mark Birighitti is adamant he possesses the resilience and mental strength to bely his critics and help Dundee United secure Premiership safety. The West Australian goalkeeper has endured a tumultuous debut season in Scottish football.
Damaging defeats against AZ Alkmaar and Hearts - by his own admission - left his confidence “shot”. Then, just as some gradual momentum appeared to be building, a horror blunder in a 2-1 defeat against St Johnstone allowed Stevie May to slide-tackle the ball over the line to give the Perth Saints all three points last month.
Birighitti was pilloried across the board and, given it was initially thought he had suffered a dislocated shoulder, there was tangible doubt over his Tannadice future. But the two times A-League Goalkeeper of the Year has started his team’s last two matches and his self-belief is evidently unshaken.
“You are going to make mistakes so it’s about how you recover from it,” said Birighitti. “It comes down to mental toughness and resilience. I’m a strong character, a strong person and I don’t listen to outside noise. I have good people around me, I have a coach who backs me. I have a close circle of people I speak to and listen to - people I trust and who know what’s best for me.”
Nevertheless, Birighitti acknowledges that blanking out that “noise” can be a challenge, given the prevalence of social media and 24-hour media and online discourse. “It’s tough, people vent their frustration and have their opinions but I don’t read that stuff and let it get me down,” he continued. “People have an opinion but it means nothing to me.
“Back in the day, I was big on social media and loved reading the comments; what people had to say. But the more mature you get, I know how to handle it. It doesn’t do anyone good because it’s all negative. Sometimes the fans love you and sometimes they hate you.”
In the aftermath of Birighitti’s high-profile error, previous head coach Liam Fox dropped him in favour of rookie stopper Jack Newman. Despite a painful 4-0 defeat against Ross County - the death knell for Fox’s reign - Newman made a couple of decent saves to keep the score down.
However, incoming boss Jim Goodwin has restored Birighitti to the number one spot and the goalkeeper seems likely to remain between the sticks for the run-in. “The manager has come in and backed me,” he added. “I want to repay that by giving 110% every week. I’m willing to fight hard for my position.”
“It’s part and parcel of being a footballer when you get dropped. It’s about having the right attitude and being a good team-mate. There’s no point hiding and being down on yourself. You have to recover, and stay professional and resilient.”
Birighitti did endure one wobbly moment against the Lions, spilling a tame Steven Bradley effort onto the base of the post. However, United ultimately claimed a precious point, with Aziz Behich’s second half strike cancelling out Bradley’s opener. “Psychologically, the result was massive because we came back from a goal behind,” continued Birighitti.
“We’ve not done that this year. It showed the boys have character and adds positivity. We scored a fantastic goal in the second half and could have snatched another. That second half sets the standard now. We just need to continue doing the basics right and the rest will take care of itself.”
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES FINAL - PREVIEW
The first silverware in the NPLMWA is up for grabs on Saturday evening, when Inglewood United meet Olympic Kingsway in the Night Series Final at Frank Drago Reserve. (7.00pm) Both sides have met in the group stage and it was a tight encounter, Calum O’Connell giving Olympic the lead, but a late equaliser from Shubham Mokala gave both sides a share of the spoils, and Saturdays game will be no different.
Inglewood topped Group B, and had to work hard to beat Stirling Macedonia in the semi-final, but a late goal from substitute Dylan White secured a 3-2 win, and striker Harry Evans said they were made to earn their place in the final. “Saturday night was a great game of football to be involved in and the supporters would have loved it, end to end and everyone going for it,” he explained. “We were flying early, and went 2-0 up, so we were all disappointed to let Stirling back into it, but I thought we showed the character we have this year to keep pushing till the last minute to get the winner, so overall we were delighted.”
The 27-year-old, who had a spell at Olympic under Coach David Tough, and he knows what to expect on Saturday, but they are ready for the challenge. “Toughy has them playing a good style of football and they are coming off the back of a good win against Armadale,” he said. “But Saturday we are ready for the challenge, because finals don’t come around often, and it will be down to who wants it more on the night, hopefully that is us.”
Inglewood coach Andres Oliveira said the new faces in the club have been good in the Night Series, and they will only get better. “Our new signings have been exceptional but still finding their feet in the team and a lot of work still to be done in way we want to play,” he explained. “But most importantly they are enjoying themselves in the progress, which helps.” Oliveira, who has led the cup to two Night series finals in his tenure, winning the 2021 title, but he believes the pre-season competition is all about preparing for the new league season, but now a trophy is up for grabs, that has changed.
“So far, the night series has helped us prepare well for the season, but like any player and coach now there is a trophy on the line, this what it’s about, these are the rewards we stride for as club/footballer,” he explained. “Kingsway will be a tough opponent, and David Tough has done an excellent job on recruiting and the way they been playing and they deserve to be there. So, we will prepare ourselves, and set us up to win this game.”
Olympic Kingsway finished runners-up in Group B, and were at their ruthless best last week, dismantling a good Armadale side 3-0 to seal a spot in their first Night Series decider since 1985. Striker David Perich, who played for Inglewood a few years ago, said they have played well in all games in the competition but had struggled in the final third, but that all changed against Armadale.
“We've been good at keeping possession all Night Series, but we got a bit too concerned about that and started playing backwards too much in the past couple of weeks,” he explained. “We worked a lot on taking a bit more risk going forward and we found a really good balance on the weekend, but to be fair we should have had four or five at half time if we took our chances.”
The 35-year-old, said playing in a final is what players play for, and he knows both will be up for it on Saturday, but he hopes they can play better than last season’s State League Night Series, when they lost in the final to Murdoch University Melville. “It’s always exciting to be in a final, and last year the night series final was one of our worst games of the year, but we have to look at the big picture, it’s still pre-season so I just hope we play better than last year’s final,” he said. “When we played Inglewood in the group stage they rested a few players, because they were pretty much guaranteed to go through, so it will a good challenge to face them full-strength, we’re looking forward to it.”
Olympic coach David Tough said he was really pleased how his side played last week, and they have set a standard in the win against Armadale, and that’s the standard he wants to continue. “I’ve spoken about last week’s performance at length, and it was very pleasing,” he explained. “We worked all week on our shape and performance and we know if we got that right we would be hard to beat, and it turned out like that. I thought from the first whistle we were first to the ball and turned their attacking threat around, so delighted with the performance, it now up to us to keep that standard.”
Tough said Inglewood were also impressive last week, so he believes it will be another tight game, but he is determined to bring the trophy back to the Kingsway Reserve. “Andres (Oliveira) has them playing well, and we drew with them in the group stage, and it was an evenly balanced game, and I’m expect more of the same on Saturday,” he explained. “We will go into the game confident, and with the ‘Green Machine’ supporters behind us, we’re looking to bring success back to the club, and we are ready for the challenge.”
STATE LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES FINAL – PREVIEW
The 2023 State League Night Series Final will see Mandurah City take on Fremantle City in the early game at Frank Drago Reserve on Saturday afternoon (5pm) Mandurah edged out Western Knights in a penalty shootout in the semi-finals, while Fremantle proved too strong for Gwelup Croatia, running out convincing 6-1 winners, and with both sides unbeaten in the pre-season competition and scoring plenty of goals, this one should be a cracker.
Fremantle will go in search of their second State League Night Series title, the last coming in 2018, and the way they have gone about their business, not many will be betting against them. Midfielder Brian Patterson, who was on target last week, said they started well against Gwelup, and got their rewards, and they will look for more of the same on Saturday.
“I thought we came out the blocks flying and took Gwelup by surprise, and we were very clinical in and around the box. It’s pleasing to see that our goals are coming from all areas of the pitch,” he explained. “The boys are buzzing to be in the final, and anyone says they don’t care “it’s only night series” is a liar. We want to be challenging for all three trophies this year so this is the first on the list. But we know it’s going to be a tough test against Mandurah as they have some great quality, so it should be a great game.”
Hamza Hina was also on target in the big win against Gwelup, and he said there is bragging rights on the line in that game, and on Saturday, playing against his housemates. “It's an extra special occasion for myself personally as I share my house with both Charlie Breen (Gwelup) and Joe O'Brien (Mandurah) meaning I've got the chance to be playing them both in the semis and finals back-to-back,” he explained.
“As for the Gwelup game I was very proud of how clinical we were with our chances, but more so of the diversity in type of goals and different goal scorers proving the strength and depth of our squad. We will be hoping we can continue that in the final on Saturday against Mandurah. I’m excited to be pushed to our absolute limits, as I'm sure that's what it will take for us to beat Mandurah and lift our first trophy of the season.”
Mandurah had to work harder for their win in the semi-final, winning 5-4 on penalties, and they will look for their second State League Night Series title, the last in 2021, and like Fremantle have not missed a beat in the competition, and last season’s top goalscorer Joey O’Brien has continued where he left off, and was on target last week, and he said it was thrilling game to be involved in, and he knows Saturday will be the same.
“Last week was a very intense game to be a part of, the confidence going into the shootout was very high as the whole squad has a very strong mentality, and it showed a lot of quality to put away all our penalties and save their final one,” he explained. “We’re looking forward to playing Fremantle as they’re a team in great form, so it’ll be a good test for us. We’ve been in this situation before and we’re playing good football so we’re confident we can add another trophy to the cabinet.”
Hamish van Dieken missed last week’s win with an injury, and he watched on as teammates got the job done against the Knights, but he’s back in the mix for Saturday’s competition decider. “I picked up a knock during the week leading up to the semi-final, so I’ve been trying my best to manage it and get it right as quick as possible,” he said. “I’m feeling better every day and I’m looking forward to the big final. The boys fought well against a determined Knights team and it was pleasing to see the lads come back after going 1-0 down.
“The team obviously had some changes as players were out due to injury and suspension, but the boys that stepped up played their part and was just so happy for the group to progress too another final. This week we take on Fremantle, who are a superb team and we know they are one of the favourites this season. They have a lot of talent up top and have a good balance of quality over the pitch, so I think there will be great matchups throughout the game. Our team is more than ready to do the business on Saturday, so I really look forward to a great game against them.’
NPLW WA NIGHT SERIES SEMI-FINAL – PREVIEW
We head into the NPLW WA Night Series knock-out stage this weekend, with both Semi-Finals being held at E&D Litis stadium on Sunday evening. In the early game holders, and Group A winners Perth RedStar meet Group B runners-up Fremantle City. (5pm) Fremantle secured their spot after a 3-3 draw with Perth SC, their second draw in the group, while the RedStar’s have carried on where they left off last season, winning all their games.
Fremantle’s Laura Waltman said Sunday is a huge task, but one they are looking forward too. “RedStar will be a really good opportunity to see where we stand this early in the preseason. We are expecting it to be a difficult game, but the girls are enthusiastic and ready to give it our all,” she explained. “Faye (Chambers) has made it clear to us that no matter what our outcome of the Night Series is, the purpose of these games is to work on the fundamentals of how we want to play and our game fitness.”
RedStar coach Carlos Vega Mena has been pleased how the new group have gone in the competition to date, and is expecting a tough game against a good Fremantle side. “Fremantle seems to have adjusted well to their new coach and new philosophy, which is evident in their good results so far,’ he explained. “We respect every team we face and are expecting a tough game this weekend. Semi-Finals are always different, it’s do-or-die, so you need to approach these types of games with a different mentality. We will be focussed on playing our game from the first minute, and the team that makes the least mistakes will go on to the final.”
In the late game at the venue Group B winners Perth SC, meet Group A runners-up the Hyundai NTC Women’s side. (7pm) Perth had already sealed a spot in the next phase, when they drew with Fremantle in their final game, while the NTC secured their place after a big win against Curtin University to deny Balcatta a spot. NTC assistant coach Fernando Barreiro said Sunday is a huge test for their young side.
“I think it will come down to a real tactical battle, and obviously we know Ben (Anderton) and Peter are mates, and they know each other really well, so it will be fascinating if you’re a neutral and a purest of the game,” he explained. “Having said that we’ve worked super hard on the training ground and thrown every scenario at the girls this week, pushed them to their limits in fact. But with every year such a young team and new team we just want the girls to be brave and play with maturity which we know they can, and I believe the midfield is where games are won and lost so should be some really good match ups.
“We know Perth have some dangerous players who can punish you if you make a mistake, so it’s all about us limiting those unforced errors which has hampered us against RedStar and Balcatta. But that’s because we want our girls to play the game the right way, and not resort to long balls or abandoning our principles. Ben and I have been meticulous with our preparation and we know Peter and his team will be a huge challenge but also one we’re looking forward to.”
Perth coach Peter Rakic has been pleased the way his side went in the group stage, and knows they will have to continue that against a very talented NTC outfit. “We're definitely prepared for a tough outing, we know this game is going to be a tactical battle and NTC always bring a high energy that we have to match in all areas of the pitch,” he explained. “We've been working hard in training, gaining confidence on the ball and really working on the little things that we believe will make a difference, I know the girls are hungry to make amends for our poor record against them last season and this is the perfect opportunity for that.”
GLORY HEAD BACK HOME LOOKING TO END SIX-GAME WINLESS RUN
Perth Glory will be searching to end a six-game run without a win, that has seen them slip down the Isuzu Ute A-League table, when they take on Western Sydney Wanderers on Friday evening. (7pm) Although Glory’s form is poor and currently sit second bottom on the table, Head Coach Ruben Zadkovich knows a result would move them to within four points of the top six in a tight table, and he believes that his squad have plenty to motivate them heading into Friday’s eagerly-anticipated return to HBF Park.
“We need to improve, we’re looking for an improved performance and we really feel like Wanderers is at home is a great opportunity for us to bounce back,” he said. “Everything’s still to play for, but you can’t hide from the results. The results are how they are and they’re not at the level that we’d like. It can be a frustrating thing and it can also be a very disappointing thing. There’s no worse feeling than travelling away, being in front twice, playing good football to get in that position and then to give it away softly, throw everything at them late, hit the post and not take the chances.
“They’re very tight losses and they’re very disappointing and so the morale can quickly turn, but with this group, we’ve got a great belief, I’ve said that before. We were in a position where we were down the bottom of the ladder early on in the year and we fought our way out of it and worked our way out of it and showed everyone just how good we can be. And whilst the results haven’t gone our way in the last few weeks, there’s been some real positives in the performances.”
The Wanderers head to WA in good form, sitting second on the table, and only losing two games in the last nine, one of them was in round 11 at Macedonia Park, when a goal from Keegan Jelacic gave Glory the three points. Zadkovich said Marko Rudan’s side will provide a major test on Friday, but he believes his side have shown that they have what it takes to force their way back into the winners’ circle. “Let’s be honest, they [Western Sydney] are a superstar team,” he said.
“They’ve got a lot of quality and are in form as well, so we expect a very difficult challenge, but we played them away and had a very narrow 1-0 loss and then played them at home and had a very narrow 1-0 win, so we can certainly be competitive with the top teams; we’ve shown that. “We know we can match it with any team on our day and the margins are very small for us at the moment.”
The coach is looking forward to getting back to their traditional home (HBF Park), and he said his players are relishing the prospect of playing at the venue. “The playing surface there is obviously very quick and very different to Macedonia Park,” he said. “I played there myself and experienced a lot of games there in a season where we were winning and were top of the league for long periods and the crowd really got behind us.
“I keep saying that we’ve got really loyal members and fans, and they made Macedonia Park a great atmosphere as well, which has been good and we’ve enjoyed that. Now we’re looking forward to making HBF our new home. For some of the players, it’ll be something fresh and something they have to settle into, but we’re excited for it.”
In team news, Mustafa Amini will miss the game through suspension, but the Head Coach confirmed that Darry Lachman will return to the selection mix having recovered from his head injury and he also provided an update on the injured Salim Khelifi. “Darryl’s looks have improved with that scar on his forehead and he still has a smile on his face,” he said. “He was out there today heading balls and he’s had his stitches out now and has recovered quite well. We’re happy to have him back as he’s a big player and a big character for us and he has an infectious personality around the group. It’s great to see him back on the training pitch and he’ll play a part for sure.
“Salim had surgery on Tuesday and got through that really well which is positive news. From all accounts the surgery went well and that will give him some clarity with that foot injury as it’s been something of an ongoing issue… and it got to the point where the pain from it was almost too much for him to handle. He’s got a massive heart for a little man and he’ll be sorely missed during the end of this season, but we’re also taking a long-term view… our best bet with him is to get him fully fit and that won’t be until pre-season.”
Perth Glory squad: GK Cameron COOK, GK Pierce CLARK, 2 John KOUTROUMBIS, 4 Luke BODNAR, 5 Mark BEEVERS, 6 Aaron MCENEFF, 7 Ryan WILLIAMS, 14 Jack CLISBY, 15 Jordan ELSEY, 16 Keegan JELACIC, 18 David WILLIAMS, 19 Zach DUNCAN, 20 Giordano COLLI, 21 Antonee BURKE-GILROY, 22 Adam TAGGART, 23 Mitch OXBORROW, 28 Trent OSTLER, 29 Darryl LACHMAN, 37 Jacob MUIR, 43 Adam ZIMARINO - Ins: Ryan WILLIAMS, OXBORROW, OSTLER, LACHMAN - Outs: 8 Mustafa AMINI (Suspended), 10 Salim KHELIFI (Injured) - Unavailable: GK Brad JONES (injured), 24 Adrian SARDINERO (injured), 36 Joseph FORDE (international duty)
Western Sydney Wanderers squad: GK Lawrence THOMAS, GK Daniel MARGUSH, 3 Gabriel CLEUR, 4 Morgan SCHNEIDERLIN, 5 Tomi MRCELA, 8 Oliver BOZANIC, 9 Kusini YENGI, 10 Milos NINKOVIC, 11 Amor LAYOUNI, 14 Nicolas MILANOVIC, 16 Tom BEADLING, 17 Romain AMALFITANO, 19 Daniel WILMERING, 21 Jarrod CARLUCCIO, 23 Yeni NGBAKOTO, 26 Brandon BORRELLO, 28 Calem NIEUWENHOF, 32 Nathanael BLAIR, 33 Alexander BONETIG, 35 Zac SAPSFORD - Ins: WILMERING, BLAIR (promoted), BONETIG (promoted), SAPSFORD (promoted) - Outs: 2 Gabriel CLEUR (suspended – one week), 6 Marcelo (suspended – one week) - Unavailable: 30 Jack WARSHAWSKY (international duty), 31 Aidan SIMMONS (international duty) 36 Alessandro LOPANE (international duty), 37 Alex BADOLATO (international duty)
GLORY STILL HAVE VICTORY IN THEIR SIGHTS
Perth Glory head to the Service FM Stadium to take on Adelaide United on Saturday in week 17 of the Liberty A-League, looking to bounce back from their 1-1 draw against Western Sydney Wanderers last week, that ended their four-game winning streak. (kick-off at 12pm WST). Glory coach Alex Epakis is expecting a positive reaction from his side, as they look to continue the pressure on fourth-placed Melbourne Victory for a finals spot.
But the coach was not overly perturbed by last week’s result, and took plenty of positives away from the game. “It could be a motivating factor to get us back up and going and finding another level,” he said. “Obviously there was a bit of a sour taste in our mouths after that result, but we’re still six undefeated and in a really healthy position and I’m certainly backing the players to go one step further. Just through being invested in the competition, you are looking at the table and looking at other teams, but we need to do our best to retain our own focus on ourselves. As I said this time last week, we just have to keep our own house in order and if we do that, I’m pretty confident that things can work in our favour.”
Glory will head across the border to face an Adelaide side, who have dropped off the pace in recent months. They started the season on fire winning four of its first five games of the season, including a 1-0 win at Macedonia Park in week two, with Dylan Holmes scoring the only goal of the game. But they have subsequently slipped down the table, and are now searching for a first victory since mid-December, but Epakis is wary of the challenge that Adrian Stenta’s side will present.
“Adelaide, for me, are a team that I respect as an opposition,” he said. “They are well coached and are a cohesive unit with some very strong players and a clear structure in how they play, so it’s a fantastic test for us. They may not have the form at the moment that they’d like, but they do have some fantastic players and players who can do damage. We just have to make sure that we are well prepared. It was a tight tussle earlier in the season when we played against them and they got the better of us, so we’re going to be doing our best to overturn that result this coming weekend.”
The last time Glory headed to the City of Churches, was in round four last season, when the hosts won 4-2. Chelsie Dawber gave Adelaide the lead on the half hour, but Cyera Hintzen levelled. Dawber added her second to give the host the lead at the break, but a penalty from Alana Jancevski restored parity for Glory early in the second half. But late goals from Matilda McNamara and Emily Condon secured the three points for Adelaide.
In terms of team news, Susan Phonsongkham’s foot problem will again rule her out, but fortunately there weren’t been any fresh injuries picked up in the draw with Western Sydney, with Isabella Wallhead being added to the travelling squad. Adelaide will be without Hannah Holgerson and Isabel Hodgson due to injury, joining Emily Condon, Ella Tonkin and Sasha Coorey on the injury list, while Emilia Murray and Grace Wilson are away on international duty.
Adelaide United squad: GK Annalee GROVE, GK Jenna FARROW, 2 Emily HODGSON, 4 Erin KONTOUTSIKOS, 6 Jenna MCCORMICK, 7 MelindaJ BARBIERI, 9 Paige HAYWARD, 12 Nanako SASAKI, 14 Meisha WESTLAND, 15 Katie BOWLER, 16 Dylan HOLMES, 17 Zoe TOLLAND, 19 Maruschka WALDUS, 23 Fiona WORTS - Outs: HOLGERSEN (knee), HODGSON - Unavailable: 8 Emily CONDON (groin), 13 Ella TONKIN (foot), 18 Sasha COOREY (knee), 22 Emilia MURRAY (international duty), 26 Grace WILSON (international duty)
Perth Glory squad: GK Morgan AQUINO, GK Sarah LANGMAN, 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Natasha RIGBY, 7 Liz ANTON, 8 Hana LOWRY, 9 Demi KOULIZAKIS, 12 Sofia SAKALIS, 13 Sarah CAIN, 14 Hannah BLAKE, 15 Cyera HINTZEN, 16 Isabella WALLHEAD, 17 Abbey GREEN, 18 Sadie LAWRENCE, 19 Izzy FOLETTA, 21 Ella MASTRANTONIO, 23 Alana JANCEVSKI - Ins: WALLHEAD
AMATEUR NIGHT SERIES – WEEK TWO PREVIEW
Its week two of the Amateur Night Series on Sunday, but there was a game from week one played in midweek in Group D when Kelmscott Roos beat Southern Spirit 4-1 at Watsons Oval on Tuesday evening. The hosts found the opener early with Jonah Kuman scoring, but Spirit levelled just before half time, Brandon De Abreu on target. But after the break the Roos pulled away, Lochy Cameron restoring their lead on 70 minutes, before late goals from Ishmael Greywood and Isaac Spyce secured the win.
“Tuesdays game was a good one for us, we started off the game playing some really nice football. We came into the game with a point to prove, and I feel like we definitely proved it,” Kelmscott keeper Taylor Warwick said. “They (Southern Spirit) were a tough team and they gave us a good run for our money, but I feel like our overall fitness which is something we have worked a lot on over preseason help us get the win.”
This week in Group D, Southern Spirit meet Emerald in the early game at Beale Park on Sunday (5pm), while in the late game at the venue, Kelmscott take on South Perth United. (7pm) The pair have already met this season, South Perth prevailing in the Australia Cup, and Warwick said they will be looking for revenge from that defeat. “Sundays game against South Perth is a big one, we owe them for the Australia cup game,” he explained. “They have proved to be somewhat of a bogey team for us, and hopefully we can squash those doubts on Sunday against a really good well coached side.”
In Group A Wembley Downs will look for back-to-back wins, when they meet Jaguar in the early game at the Ellenbrook Sports Hub. (5pm) Wembley beat North Perth United in a seven-goal thriller in week one, while the Jags were held to a draw by Maccabi. Jags keeper Michael Dudek, who missed last week’s game, said Wembley will be a tough test. “Looking forward to a good hit out against Wembley this Sunday, especially with myself and a few other boys returning,” he said. “It will be a good chance to see where we are at as Wembley have got some good results, and always have a strong squad, so we're all excited for the challenge.” The late game at the venue, North Perth United and Maccabi meet, both looking for their first wins. (7pm)
In Group B, the games will be played at Kelly Park on Sunday afternoon, and in the early game Peel United take on South West Phoenix. (1pm) Peel fought out an entertaining draw with Kwinana United last week, while the Phoenix were beaten by Division One side Port Kennedy. Phoenix skipper Corey Barclay said it wasn’t the start they were after, but it was good for the new players to get some game time. “Last week’s game was a good starting point for our season with a lot of positives to take away despite the loss,” he said. “We had a few key players out due to the change of day and they were unable to get the day off work but everyone stepped up to do a job despite having them out.
“With the majority of our team never playing at this level after stepping up from the SW league it was a good first hit out for them and great to see the talent coming out of that league. Credit to Port Kennedy who bounced back very quickly after going a goal down and did well to hold on for the second half. We know this weekend’s game will be another challenging one, we played peel in a preseason friendly which they came away 3-2 winners but it was a very good game and I’m sure our lads won’t want them to walk away with a win again. They looked strong in their game against Kwinana last week and I’m sure they’ll have some confidence going into the game this weekend too, I’m looking forward to another great game between the two of us.” In the late game at the venue, Kwinana United host Port Kennedy. (3pm)
Finally in Group C at Beldon Park, Joondalup United will look to bounce back from a first round defeat against North Beach, when they take on Division One side Quinns in the early game. (1pm) New Joondalup Coach Mike Ford said his side battled hard last week with ten men, and knows the challenge they face in this one, with Quinns beating holders East Perth last week. “They (North Beach) jumped out the blocks very quickly and within 15 minutes we were two goals down, a very soft penalty and a basic defence error,” he explained.
“We gradually got back into the game at 2-1 and it looked like being a close well fought game, but the red card just before half time put us on the back foot. To make matters worse we lost our keeper with concussion early in the second half, and had to be replaced with an outside player, nevertheless with 10 men we gave a pretty good account of ourselves and was a credit to the team to come off 4-2. But we move on and look forward to Quinns, who are always a difficult opponent as we look to strength the squad with returning players and possibly a few new players.” In the late game at the venue East Perth will look to bounce back from their shock loss last week, when they meet North Beach. (3pm)
GRIFFITHS RETURNS TO MANDURAH CITY
Mandurah City will go into Saturday’s State League Night Series Final against Fremantle City on a high, after they re-signed former Celtic FC and Scotland International striker Leigh Griffiths. The 32-year-old has put pen to paper and committed to a return to the Dolphins on a permanent basis until the end of the 2023 season, and the proven goal scorer will go straight into the squad for Saturday’s big game.
Mandurah Head Coach John Baird said he is delighted to re-sign Griffiths, and he looks forward to playing alongside him this season. “I’m very pleased for everyone involved with the club, and to bring Leigh back is a credit and a display of the hard work everyone behind the scenes is putting in,” he explained. “Leigh wanted to come back after understanding our goals for the 2023 season, and his ability on the pitch is undoubtable.
“His experience speaks for itself and his signing is an opportunity for him to get back to enjoying his football in a positive and competitive environment. I have had Australian internationals contacting me asking to come down and train because they want to see Leigh play, so it’s a win, win situation for all involved.”
The Scottish striker made two appearances for Mandurah City at the end of 2022 scoring 2 goals, including a screamer against Western Knights, and club President Nigel Mann said the squad is looking good ahead of the new season. “John (Baird) and his staff have put together a strong squad for this season. The addition of a player of this calibre, with experience at an elite level, will assist in reaching our ambitions. An exciting reward for our members and fans.”
NEW KEEPER SAILS INTO THE GLORY
The worst kept secret in football was announced today, with Perth Glory confirming that New Zealand international goalkeeper Oli Sail has signed a three-year deal with the club, which will commence at the end of the current season. He will add to the Glory keeping stocks, with Australia Under 20’s keeper Cameron Cook re-signing for the club earlier in the week, but it almost means the end of Liam Reddy’s time at the club.
The 27-year-old, has been one of the A-League’s most consistent performers, since establishing himself as Wellington Phoenix’s first choice at the start of the 2020/21 campaign and claimed the club’s Player of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year and Media Player of the Year awards last year. The 1.97m custodian is also a key member of the New Zealand All Whites squad, with six senior caps to his name and Glory Head Coach Ruben Zadkovich regards his recruitment as a major coup for the club.
“We have been targeting Oli for some time and I’m delighted we have secured his services for the next three seasons,” he said. “Character is very important in these types of builds and Oli has the right ingredients. He is clearly one of the best ‘keepers in the league, is at the peak of his powers and his presence on the grass is massive. He is obviously right in the middle of his career, with loads of upside in terms of his development and growth and there is really no ceiling to where he may get to down the track.
“With both Oli and Cameron Cook locked in for the next three seasons, we have now created one of the strongest and most balanced goalkeeping departments in the country. I’m looking forward to watching them compete together on the grass. This signing is massive for the club and for the team, Oli will be a crucial part of turning quality performances into positive results next year and beyond.”
Born in Auckland, Sail began his senior career with Auckland City and swiftly progressed into the Phoenix’s reserve side. After featuring for the Kiwis at the 2015 Under-20 World Cup, he was handed his A-League debut in March 2018 and then made the first-team gloves his own during the 2020/21 season. This year, Phoenix’s vice-captain has made 19 A-League appearances, kept three clean sheets and pulled off the second-highest amount of saves in the competition with 67.
Glory’s new recruit won his first senior New Zealand cap in a World Cup qualifier against Papua New Guinea last year and also featured in the qualification play-off clash with Costa Rica and subsequent two friendlies versus the Socceroos. Glory CEO Anthony Radich is similarly confident that Sail will prove to be a key acquisition for Glory. “I am delighted for the club that we have been able to secure a goalkeeper of Oli’s quality and further strengthen our squad,” he said. “His progression has been exponential in recent years and he has clearly established himself as one of the finest ‘keepers in the competition. He will also be invaluable in furthering the rapid development of Cameron Cook who is a very exciting young talent. They will be a great combination and we’re very fortunate to be in their safe hands over the next few years.”
KERR DREAMS OF WORLD CUP AND CHAMPIONS LEAGUE DOUBLE
Chelsea striker Samantha Kerr has her mind firmly set on World Cup and UEFA Women's Champions League glory before the season is out. The Matildas captain has won silverware galore since joining Chelsea in early 2020 but there is one trophy that still eludes her.
"One of the main reasons I came to Europe was to win the Champions League," said Kerr, before referencing the 2021 showpiece against Barcelona that did not go to plan. "Going to the final and losing. I kind of got the taste for it. Now that's the main goal - to win. It means even more now than it did when I first came."
Kerr scored five goals in the group stage of this season's competition, with Chelsea finishing top above Paris St Germain and Real Madrid. "Every football fan wants to turn on the TV and see those big matches, those big rivalries," commented the 29-year old. "It doesn't matter if it's men's or women's football: it's the same format, it's the same game and people are jumping on board and watching it."
Kerr notes how changes to the women's game have brought in a new generation of fans. "Young girls growing up can support the women's team they want, whereas back in the day maybe there wasn't a Liverpool or a Chelsea in their league," she said. "And that's not only in the domestic leagues but in the big European games as well. It's only the start, but it's really nice that young girls can now pick the team they want to support – and aspire to play for."
Kerr can not wait for the Women's World Cup, which kicks off in mid-July in Australia and New Zealand. "You see with the ticket sales already: over half a million and we're still six months out from the tournament," she said. "On a personal level, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play at a home World Cup; so many players don't get to. It's going to be, probably, the biggest moment in my career, just by stepping onto the pitch."
"This is really going to show Australia that football is the world game, because at the moment it's dominated by the NRL (rugby) and AFL (Australian rules football). To bring a World Cup and for them to see the amount of support that comes in, the number of fans and just the culture around football... it's going to be a real eye-opener for our country alone. And then, on a world level, this will probably be – hopefully be – the biggest Women's World Cup ever. I'm very excited."
THE ‘BLESSING IN DISGUISE’ THAT RECHARGED TAGGART'S CAREER (courtesy keepup.com.au)
Adam Taggart’s playing career has featured many “small heartbreaks”. They’ve come in the form of injuries which have regularly deprived the Perth Glory striker of the opportunity to do what he does best.
In 2022, one of those minor setbacks cost him a chance to go to the World Cup with the Socceroos. Prior to that, a two-year stint in Japan was impacted by injury, turning an exciting proposition into “one of the toughest” years in his career.
But through the struggles have come immense pride. Taggart says his fondest memories in football stem from the biggest challenges of his career. “That’s part of football, and part of sport,” Taggart said. “You have these small heartbreaks along the way. I think it’s all about the journey, that’s what makes sport sport. There’s a lot of emotion, there’s a lot of feelings.
“You feel sorry for yourself a bit, you’re disappointed and a bit upset. I think (it’s about) trying to channel your energy into what’s going to benefit you and doing things you know work. I guess the right word is a proper journey... a lot of life lessons and developing as a person more so than anything else. To me, looking back on the journey, I’m proud of those moments.”
“Especially my time through Korea and Japan, because I know how difficult it is. Difficult leagues, really high standard, a lot of games. That was probably my biggest challenge throughout my career in general, because physically, mentally, everything is put to a test. I think looking back, that’s definitely my proudest time.”
In 2019, Taggart began his four-year stint abroad, split between Korean K League 1 club Suwon Bluewings and Japanese J1 League side Cerezo Osaka. At Suwon, Taggart was at the peak of his powers, collecting the K1 League Golden Boot and Korean FA Cup in a memorable start to life overseas. Then came the move to Japan, which occurred in the midst of the COVID pandemic.
“There was so much hype and buzz around this move, to go to Japan, especially within myself, it was a fantastic place and I was really excited about it, and it is such an amazing football club,” he says. “But things didn’t really go my way that year, and as hard as I was working the success was hard to come by during that first year.”
“I spent 122 days in quarantine or isolation, so I wasn’t in the best place by the end of the season. That’s when I had just torn my meniscus, so I needed surgery. I think that moment just topped off the year I was having on a personal level, it just wasn’t sort of happening. I think in a way, that injury was a blessing in disguise.”
“Because you sort of start from scratch again. You get to do all of these things, and work on all of these things you don’t get to do when you’re chipping away at everything and pushing through. It sounds crazy to say, but I look back (at) that injury really positively, because it actually helped me and set me up for a great year the next year.”
Taggart spent his second season in Japan “enjoying the small moments”, relishing his return to fitness. And with the 2022 World Cup on the horizon, the Perth-born Socceroo was finally clocking the consistent minutes needed to contend for a spot in Graham Arnold’s 26-man squad bound for Qatar.
But an adductor strain suffered while in camps with the Socceroos in June ruled Taggart out of Australia’s qualifiers against United Arab Emirates and Peru. “Going into those two qualifying games in Qatar in the June window was probably more disappointing for me than not making the (World Cup) squad,” he says.
“I got injured a couple of days before the first game. I think those sort of things have always hurt me a lot more than those big decisions, like not making the squad. Those small moments contribute to that overall end product of not making the squad. It’s something you just need to get on with it, you move on.”
“Looking back on it, I did my absolute best to be a part of (the World Cup squad). And I think that’s why I’m content. I don’t feel like I could have done anything more personally. The things within your control, which is working hard and dedicating these four years, is what I did to be a part of the national team.”
“I understand those (squad selections) are hard to make, as well, from the opposite side they’ve obviously got to pick a squad they believe is going to be the best fit for that campaign as well. I don’t have any hard feelings towards it or anything like that, it was fantastic to see how well they did, and to see good mates do well as well, which made it nice for me and enjoyable to support the boys.”
As a trying two-year spell in Japan culminated in an omission from the Socceroos’ World Cup squad, Taggart’s mind turned toward home and the A-League. “There was obviously a few clubs interested – but I think for me it came down to what I was passionate about, (and) where I was going to enjoy playing football the most,” he explained.
“It sort of brings you back to what you value... when you get older, you sort of appreciate being around family and friends, and playing your football in front of those people, because it’s a short career. I’ve spent a lot of time overseas and playing for clubs, as amazing as it was, but you don’t have that solid community around you.”
“People don’t see the downside to it all. It is the best job in the world, but it comes with sacrifices. It comes with a lot of challenges. Especially being away from home, when you’re by yourself in different countries and places where you’ve got no-one around you, it definitely makes it more difficult. But I guess that’s just part of being a footballer.”
“It’s also what makes success and achieving things all the more special, because nothing feels that great until you’ve worked hard for it, and know that you’ve gone through those obstacles and difficult times. Family, friends and people who can enjoy the small wins, and people to support you when you’re struggling a bit - those things are important to me.”
“In terms of decisions, and other clubs and things like that, it wasn’t just an obvious ‘go to this club, or go to that club’, it was a lot more deep and a lot more personal to me. Perth Glory is my home, and this is the place that means the most to me.”
GLORY DUO HELP YOUNG SOCCEROOS INTO QUARTER-FINALS
Perth Glory duo Chris Donnell and Joseph Forde have helped the Young Socceroos advance to the quarter finals of the AFC U-20 Asian Cup Uzbekistan 2023, following a 9-1 rout of Qatar at the JAR Stadium on Tuesday night. The youngster found themselves behind early, but an own goal, a Bernardo brace and close-range finishes from Donnell, Raphael Rodrigues, Jonny Yull, Gabriel Popovic, Archie Goodwin and Alex Badolato overturned the initial deficit in what was a rampant display.
Trevor Morgan's side is now just one win away from a spot in the FIFA U-20 World Cup Indonesia 2023 and will face the winner of Group A in the last eight on Sunday morning at the Milliy Stadium. "They're still young players right so they're learning," Morgan said post-match. “Maybe losing on the first day (first game) can do your confidence the other way. We tried to balance ourselves on both, obviously you have to keep winning in this tournament anyway, so following on from this the next match - you don't have a choice, you have to win. But for sure, progressing is an important step for us at the moment."
Despite being level on points with IR Iran (six) and boasting a superior goal difference, Australia finished as runners-up due to the third tournament tie-breaker - goals scored in head-to-head matches among tied teams - after Iran beat Vietnam 3-1. But it was a far from ideal start for Morgan’s side, falling behind in the second minute when Nectarios Triantis' under-hit back pass to goalkeeper Jack Warshawsky was intercepted by Moustafa Asar and he took full advantage.
However, Australia began to immediately dictate terms and retain possession in advanced areas, and they levelled on 13 minutes, Hassan Mohammed Alghareeb inadvertently turned in Rodrigues' cross. After creating a couple of decent chances, the Young Socceroos would take the lead. Alessandro Lopane's strike from the edge of the box, following a half-cleared corner, was parried into the path of Donnell, and the Glory youngster kept his composure to finish off the rebound.
Bernardo then squared a pass to Rodrigues for a tap-in at the back post as the two wingers combined. The Adelaide United winger then made it 4-1 on 39 minutes after being quickest to react from Popovic's saved shot before bagging his second in the 67th minute after substitute Jed Drew slipped through the 18-year-old, who nonchalantly rounded the 'keeper. It was a goal that arrived after a decent spell of pressure from Qatar, but from there the floodgates well and truly opened as Yull - one of three changes along with Badolato and Drew on 52 minute - made it 6-1 into a largely vacant net from Popovic's pass.
Popovic had a penalty saved but a minute later tapped in Goodwin's flick from the corner, before the Newcastle Jets forward got on the score sheet himself courtesy of a through ball from Badolato. In keeping with a similar theme where the provider would subsequently go on to score, Badolato did just that with a clinical effort after Drew's second assist. The result is the Subway Young Socceroos' biggest win at this level and will hope it can continue the momentum into the knockout stages.
Australia: GK Jack WARSHAWSKY, 2 Joshua RAWLINS, 3 Nectarios TRIANTIS, (14 Kaelan Majek 75'), 4 Chris DONNELL, 7 BERNARDO, (19 Archie GOODWIN 75'), 8 Alessandro LOPANE (23 Jonny YULL 52'), 9 Gabriel POPOVIC, 10 Adrian SEGECIC (20 Alex BADOLATO 52'), 11 Raphael RODRIGUES (21 Jed DREW 52'), 13 Panashe MADANHA, 15 Joseph FORDE - Subs not used: RGK James NIEUWENHUIZEN, RGK Alexander Robinson, 5 Matthew DENCH, 6 Rhys BOZINOVSKI, 16 Jake GIRDWOOD-REICH, 17 Aidan SIMMONS, 22 Jing REEC
Qatar: GK Amir HASSON, 3 Mohammed ALI (20 El Hashmi EL HUSSAIN 53’), 5 Hassan Mohammed ALGHAREEB, 6 Mostafa ABOUELELA (19 Ayoub MOHAMED 30’), 7 Mubarak HAMZA, 10 Jassem AL SHARSHANI (15 Mahdi ALMEJABA 68’), 11 Ahmed ALRAWI (20 Mohamed GOUDA 68’), 13 Ahmed MAWLA, 17 Moustafa ASAR (12 Yousef ELKHATIB 68’), 18 Awab HUSSAIN, 23 Saifeldeen FADLALLA – Subs not Used: 8 Ibrahim ALI, 21 Sami DAULEH, 22 Ali Mohammed GHULAIS - Referee: Muhammad Nazmi Nasaruddin (MAS)
COOK SIGNS FOR MORE GLORY
With Perth Glory adding New Zealand keeper Oliver Sail to their squad next season, they have secured the services of current number one Cameron Cook, on a new three-year contract, which will keep the 21-year-old at the club until 2026. The Alice Springs-born shot-stopper joined the PGFC Academy in 2020, made his Isuzu Ute A-League debut in December 2021 and has subsequently chalked up 17 senior appearances, taking over from veteran keeper Liam Reddy, who is on the outer at the club at the moment.
A current member of the Australia Under-23 squad, Cook is widely regarded as one of the brightest young goalkeeping prospects in the country and Glory Head Coach Ruben Zadkovich is thrilled that he is set to continue his development with the club. “Cameron is a player I’ve had with me now for close to three years,” he told the Glory website. “The development and growth, he has shown in this time is phenomenal.
“He’s been an absolute pleasure to work with on and off the grass. His aptitude, professionalism and work ethic to continually improve have made him one of Australia’s best young goalkeeping talents. As a current Olyroo and with his roots now firmly into senior professional football, he is a massive asset to Perth Glory and will be a key figure in the club’s rebuild over the next few years. We are delighted to have secured his services for the next three years.”
Cook, along with Keegan Jelacic have both been named in the Australia Under-23 squad (Olyroos) which will travel to Italy for a training camp during the upcoming FIFA Men’s International window from 20 – 28 March. Cook and Jelacic have been mainstays of Glory’s A-League campaign so far this season, starting ten and 14 games respectively.
The camp, to be held at the Australian Institute of Sport European Training Centre located in Gavirate, Varese in Northern Italy, forms part of the Subway Olyroos’ preparations for their bid to qualify for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. That bid starts with the AFC U-23 Asian Cup Qatar 2024 Qualifiers which are scheduled for 4 – 12 September 2023 and if the team progresses, next on the agenda is AFC U-23 Asian Cup Qatar 2024 in early 2024 (dates to be confirmed by AFC) which double as Paris 2024 Olympics qualifiers.
ITALIANO SELECTED FOR OLYROOS CAMP
Borussia Mönchengladbach attacker Jacob Italiano has been selected to attend the Australian Under-23 squad's training camp in Italy. The camp, to be held at the Australian Institute of Sport European Training Centre located in Varese between 20 and 28 March, forms part of the Olyroos’ preparations for the 2024 Olympic Games qualifiers.
21-year old Italiano, who played locally for Inglewood United and Perth Glory, was recently promoted to Borussia's senior squad after making 65 appearances for Borussia Mönchengladbach II, since 2019. Perth Glory pair Cameron Cook and Keegan Jelacic have also been invited into camp with the Olyroos.
That bid starts with the AFC U-23 Asian Cup Qatar 2024 Qualifiers which are scheduled for 4 – 12 September 2023 and if the team progresses, next on the agenda is AFC U-23 Asian Cup Qatar 2024 in early 2024 (dates to be confirmed by AFC) which double as Paris 2024 Olympics qualifiers.
The camp will include two friendlies against quality opposition in the form of the Switzerland Under-21 national team, on Friday 24 March, and Serie B outfit Como 1907, on Monday 27 March. The squad will assemble again in early June when they contest the Maurice Revello Tournament 2023 in Aix-en-Provence, France.
GLORY SECURE COOK WITH THREE-YEAR EXTENSION
Perth Glory have backed emerging goalkeeper Cameron Cook by signing the 21-year old on a three-year contract extension. The Alice Springs-born shot-stopper has made 17 appearances for Glory since debuting in December 2021, having entered the club’s youth academy the previous year.
Coach Ruben Zadkovich promoted Cook to the starting team earlier this season in place of 41-year old veteran Liam Reddy as he looked to blood more youth. With yet-to-debut Pierce Clark as Cook’s back-up, rumours have been swirling that Glory were keen on signing a more experiences gloveman, with Wellington Phoenix gloveman Oliver Sail linked to the club.
But Zadkovich said he was excited Cook, who is part of the current Australia Under-23 squad and regarded one of the brightest young ‘keepers in the country, would continue his development with the Glory. “Cameron is a player I’ve had with me now for close to three years,” Zadkovich said.
“The development and growth he has shown in this time is phenomenal. He’s been an absolute pleasure to work with. His aptitude, professionalism and work ethic to continually improve have made him one of Australia’s best young goalkeeping talents. He is a massive asset to Perth Glory and will be a key figure in the club’s rebuild over the next few years.”
COCKBURN GO IT ALONE FOR NATIONAL SECOND DIVISION
Cockburn City could soon be Western Australia’s newest domestic league team after pitching to be part of Football Australia’s plans for a national second division. The southern suburbs club were the only Perth team among the 32 clubs named by the governing body to have submitted an expression of interest to join the proposed national second tier competition.
Perth SC and Bayswater City were WA’s founding members of the Association of Australian Football Clubs partner group, a coalition of 35 semi-professional clubs from around the country, with the goal of establishing a national second division competition. But neither submitted an EoI, leaving Cockburn - in partnership with Spearwood Dalmatinac - as WA’s only representative on the shortlist.
The national second tier competition will sit below the A-League, and while promotion and relegation between the leagues will not be established when it kicks off in 2024, connecting the tiers is a long-term goal. Following the evaluation of applications, the next phase of the process involves teams submit detailed proposals and is expected to run from April to June this year.
KERR SCORES BUT CHELSEA GO DOWN IN LEAGUE CUP FINAL
An early goal from Samantha Kerr wasn't enough to prevent Arsenal from lifting the women's League Cup after defeating Chelsea 2-1 in the final at Selhurst Park, London. Kerr struck after only 98 seconds, heading in a cross from the left by Guro Reiten for her 82nd goal in 101 Chelsea appearances.
The Gunners drew level on 16 minutes through Stina Blackstenius, who swept the ball in from inside the 18-yard box. Seven minutes later, Kim Little converted a penalty awarded after Sophie Ingle tripped Katie McCabe. The sealing goal arrived via a Steph Catley corner that flew in off Chelsea defender Niamh Charles.
AMATEUR NIGHT SERIES WEEK ONE REVIEW
The 2023 Amateur Night Series kicked off this weekend, and the competition started on Wednesday evening when Wembley Downs beat North Perth United 4-3 in a thriller in Group A at Wanneroo Reserve. “Good effort from the whole team and lots of new faces that have come into the team and added some good quality,” Wembley’s Ryan Morris said. “A lot of minutes to get under people’s belt, but we now reset and look towards our next opponent, Jags.”
It was Wembley who hit the front with Kyle Thistlethwaite scoring, but Liam Fyfe levelled for United. Wembley regained the lead for just before time, through Josh Chalmers, and Matt Devereaux added a third early in the second half. But Alex Carter’s side weren’t finished and Kyle Jackson pulled one back, before a stunner from Brian Woodall levelled things up. But Wembley prevailed late, with Devereaux added his second to seal the 4-3 win.
In the other game in the group on Sunday, Jaguar and Maccabi drew 2-2 at the Ellenbrook Sports Hub. Erik Klaiber gave Maccabi the lead early and they held that lead at the break. But Jags hit back on 51 minutes with a diving header from Mathew Sesay. They then hit the front 17 minutes later, with Godwin Hamza firing home from the edge of the box. But Maccabi restored parity and took a point in the game with Josh Leib scoring.
“We’re very happy with our performance and result, we had a number of boys from the Ressies last year step up into the first team and they showed the depth we have in our squad which is a huge positive going into the season,” Maccabi coach Ricky Berelowitz said. “I thought we defended really well as a unit and made it difficult for them, got lucky a couple of times with them hitting the bar but I can’t fault our effort, work rate, concentration and discipline as a team.”
Jags coach Josam Muwowo said it was a great game to be involved in. “It was a fair contest to be honest and we just couldn't concentrate properly as a unit especially in the early stages of the game where we conceded our first goal less than a minute which was hard for our boys to quickly responded,” he explained. “The early goal destabilized our rhythm which gave Maccabi more zeal to dominate in main moments of the match. We came back in the second half, so overall the game was fair and great opportunity for us to assess the new players.”
In Group B goals from Bayram Prufer and Sam Salisbury has given Port Kennedy a 2-1 win against South West Phoenix in the early game at Kelly Park. “We made four changes to the starting line up from our win last week in the cup and we started a little slow,” Port Kennedy coach Craig Thompson said. “It took a little while to find our rhythm but once we did, we managed to set up a few nice attacks that we were unlucky not to score from. It hurt to conceed but I knew we had goals in the squad and really felt like the game was ours to win. It was great when we scored the second and the lads were able to see the game out for our first win in the night series. We will work hard this week to prepare for our game against Kwinana, our third this preseason.”
Meanwhile in the late game in the group, hosts Kwinana United drew 2-2 with Peel United. Mustapha Mkanza bagged a brace for Kwinana, with Alfie Birmingham scoring for Peel. Kwinana coach Mark Purvis said it was a good workout. “Game was good really, and it was played at really good pace,” he said. “At times we had to dig in which we showed good character to deal with. I was happy with the workout we got and it’s more valuable minutes in the legs.”
In Group C North Beach beat Joondalup United 4-2 in the early game at Beldon Park. James Di Carlo opened the scoring for North Beach from a corner following a scramble in the penalty area. They continued to attack and were rewarded with a spot kick in which captain Brodie Martin converted calmly. Joondalup pegged one back with Dom-Breard Elliot scoring, but then had a player sent off, allowing North Beach to regain control with another penalty being rewarded and slotted away by Martin. They sealed the game with another goal, scored by Luke Wearing.
“We are very pleased to get three points on the board in our first night series hit out,” North Beach coach Nick de Carlo said. “We planned to get on the front foot early and that pressure paid off. The second half allowed us to play a lot of new young lads and experiment with different rotations. “We walk away with both confidence and motivation to keep improving on our overall performance and look forward to a tough hit out against East Perth next weekend.”
In the late game at the venue Quinns beat holders East Perth 2-1. Quinn’s took the lead after only five minutes, Liam Hunt picked up the ball on 18 yard box turned the defender and shot into bottom left hand corner. Hunt added a second five minutes later, a mishap at the back let him in and he finished. Quinns then had Jack Knowles sent off, and it was East Perth who pulled one back just after the hour, with Oscar Kelly scoring a great strike, and it was game on. East Perth pushed for equaliser but Quinn’s defended well and deservedly took the points. “Lots of new faces which was good to get them playing together, but Quinn’s deserved it,” East Perth coach Colm Costello said. “We need to get working this week at training, although we weren’t happy with how we played at all.”
New Quinns coach Darren Kay was delighted with sides performance. “We were really excited going into the match to see how we’re travelling for this time of year and East Perth in the night series was perfect for that,” he said. “Straight from the off I thought we executed our shape and processes really well and as a result we were reward with two early goals. Disappointing to go down to ten so early in the match but the lads still had enough effort and composure to stick to our game plan and take the win. We’re struggling for numbers a little this year and the lads have been putting a lot of effort into preseason so I’m over the moon for them to get a win first up in the competition.”
In Group D, Emerald beat South Perth United 2-1 at Watson Oval. Emerald were ahead early when South Perth gave the ball away at the back and Conor Hogan punished them, powering home. South Perth levelled before half time, Mason Langham scored the equaliser from a corner, his first effort was blocked on the line, but he followed up his own effort. But Emerald won it, when Gary Smyth chased down a nothing ball and crossed it to Conor Hogan for a simple finish. Both teams had chances late, the best falling to South Perth’s Nick Fox after racing through one on one but unfortunately put it wide.
“Very pleased with the result but more so the performance. We started very well and even after we went a goal down, we were still confident we would get back into the game,” Emerald coach Shane O'Donovan said. “We got the equaliser before halftime and in the second half we took the lead, after that we were the dominant team as our superior fitness really started to tell, although there is still plenty of room for improvement but happy nonetheless.”
South Perth coach Lee Hayward said it was a tough game. “From my perspective it was good to give a few lads that haven’t played a run,” he explained. “Emerald are a good physical team and I thought the boys stood up to the challenge pretty well and look forward to a couple more battles with them between now and September.” The other game in this group, Kelmscott Roos v Southern Spirit will be played on Tuesday evening at Watsons Oval (7.00pm).
STATE LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES SEMI-FINAL REVIEW
The State League Night Series Final will see Fremantle City taking on Mandurah City, after both sides won their semi-finals on Sunday evening at Crazy Domains Stadium, Hartfield Park. In the early game Mandurah took on Western Knights and it was a real arm wrestle, with the Knights finding the opener just before the half hour mark, Shay Donovan sending Jack Bardsley in on goal to finish. But Mandurah were level on 34 minutes, Craig Barker made space down the flank, and his cross was finished well by Joey O’Brien.
It was a tight second half, with both sides having chances, but it was Mandurah who hit the front 15 minutes from time, Murray Mackintosh racing clear to score. But three minutes from time the Knights restored parity, Jack Bardsley was taken down in the box and Alex Kretowicz converted from the spot. It was off to a penalty shootout, and all penalties were scored, but the fifth Knights spot kick was saved by Brad Stout, who was only brought on three minutes from normal time, to seal the win for John Baird’s side.
The Mandurah coach was delighted for the club and his ‘Graham Arnold’ like decision to change keepers late in the game worked. “We scored all our penalties, which left it to our goalkeeper (Brad) to produce what he’s there to do,” Baird explained. “I’m really delighted and proud of the players and everybody at the club.”
Goalscorer Mackintosh said he was confident going into the shootout. “I thought we had some good penalty takers and felt confident, and it was great for Brad to come on and make the winning save after Alfie (Brincat) had a great game too,” he explained. “We are looking forward to the build up to the final now, which is exciting for the Mandurah area so hopefully there will be a good crowd like the semi-final.”
In the late Semi-Final, recently NPL relegated Gwelup Croatia took on the inform Fremantle City, and it was Matty Sparrow’s side who made a great start in this one, and they were ahead on 11 minutes, Brian Patterson heading home. It was 2-0 nine minutes later, Hamza Hina heading home a free kick, and they added a third on the half hour, Roberto Soares finishing well after being picked out by a cut back. Gwelup needed a lift and they pulled on back six minutes later, Charlie Breen cutting the ball back to John Lahai to score.
But Fremantle regained their three-goal advantage just before half time, with Soares added his second. The game was put out of reach of Gwelup early in the second half with Pat Loughrey firing home from the edge of the box. Gwelup had Charlie Chechlacz sent off ten minutes from time, and Ollie Parry added a sixth for Fremantle, to seal a comprehensive win. The final will be held at Frank Drago Reserve on Saturday evening – 5.00pm kick off. “I thought the boys put in a fantastic performance from start to finish, I said before the game we had to be ruthless in both boxes and that’s exactly what we did scoring six really good goals and once again defensively we looked really solid again,” Fremantle coach Matty Sparrow explained.
“The team is gelling nicely and every player in the squad is performing to what we expect of them which is the pleasing thing. It’s another big week of preparation coming up before we face a Mandurah side who’s been in fine form like ourselves so it really sets it up to be a cracker of a final.” Fremantle’s Hayden Stevens said it was another good performance. “A very pleasing result up against an organised Gwelup side,” he said. “It was pleasing to see the boys up top take all of their chances, and I thought Pat Loughrey had an absolute day out, one goal and three assists makes a huge difference. We move on to next week in what promises to be a very exciting game against potentially the benchmark of our competition in Mandurah City.”
RIGBY’S FIRST GOAL IN VAIN AS WANDERERS LEAVE WITH A POINT
Perth Glory’s four game Liberty A-League winning streak has come to an end after a 1-1 draw against Western Sydney Wanderers at Macedonia Park on Sunday afternoon. Skipper Tash Rigby grabbed her first goal for the club to give them the lead early in the second half, but Amy Harrison converted from the spot ten minutes from time to give both sides a share of the spoils.
A win would have moved Glory to within two points of fourth-placed Melbourne Victory, with a game in hand, and while admitting that he was disappointed that his side were unable to see out what would have been a fifth successive win, Head Coach Alex Epakis remains upbeat about their prospects of making the Finals. “It wasn’t as smooth and clean as what we’re used to and what we’re capable of,” he said post-match. “I guess in that sense it’s frustrating, but on the flip side, there was a mentality to stay in the game even though there were aspects of our game that weren’t working and it was a bit clunky.
“Sometimes you rely on that resilience and mental character and just the ugly, but necessary parts of the game to keep you in it. So, I think we did well in that area today, but our play wasn’t as incisive and smooth as it can be. We’re certainly capable of making up the points in the coming games. I would have preferred all three [points] and so would the team, but we’re still undefeated in six, we’re still creating chances and not conceding many chances… and I’m still pretty confident we’ll go and get the job done against the other teams to get the points we need.”
Epakis made two changes to the side that beat Brisbane Roar last week, with Ella Mastrantonio and Alana Jancevski replacing Sarah Cain and Hannah Blake, who both dropped to the bench, and it was the hosts who went close early, with Sophie Harding shot from the edge of the box hitting the bar. But after the early scare, Glory started to take control, and Cyera Hintzen fizzed a low shot across the face of goal for Glory. But the Wanderers hit back, and Morgan Aquino produced a stunning one-handed save to tip Harding’s shot over the top.
Glory finished the half the better, and Izzy Foletta saw her shot saved by Jordyn Bloomer seven minutes from the break, and then in the final minute the Wanderers custodian saved well to deny the dangerous Cyera Hintzen, and at the break it was all-square. Hintzen went close again early in the second half, but the American couldn’t keep her shot down, then ten minutes in they found the opener. A poor clearance from Wanderers defender Malia Steinmetz, was pounced upon by Rigby, and she raced forward and played a neat give and go with Jancevski, before firing low past Bloomer and she was mobbed by her teammates and was given a rapturous applause from the Glory faithful.
But the Wanderers weren’t finished and Harding fired just wide seven minutes later, but Harding wasn’t going to be denied and 79 minutes she won possession off Liz Anton and raced into goal, and was brought down by Aquino, and referee Isabella Blaess pointed straight to the spot and booked the Glory custodian. Harrison stepped up, and found the bottom corner of the net, despite Aquino going the right way. Glory pressed for the winner, and Bloomer was forced to make an unorthodox save with her face to deny Hintzen, before Hintzen sent Blake in on goal, but her shot flashed inches wide of the far post. They had one final chance in stoppage time, substitute Demi Koulizakis’ cross picked out Hintzen, but she was unable to find the target.
Perth Glory: GK Morgan AQUINO, 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Natasha RIGBY, 7 Liz ANTON, 8 Hana LOWRY, 12 Sofia SAKALIS, 15 Cyera HINTZEN, 18 Sadie LAWRENCE, 19 Izzy FOLETTA, 21 Ella MASTRANTONIO (9 Demi KOULIZAKIS 72'), 23 Alana JANCEVSKI (14 Hannah BLAKE 62') - Subs not used: RGK Sarah LANGMAN, 13 Sarah CAIN, 17 Abbey GREEN
Western Sydney Wanderers: GK Jordyn BLOOMER, 5 Lauren KEIR, 6 Amy CHESSARI (4 Angelique HRISTODOULOU 59'), 7 Amy HARRISON, 8 Olivia PRICE, 9 Sophie HARDING, 11 Danika MATOS, 14 Clare HUNT, 16 Malia STEINMETZ, 19 Sarina BOLDEN (15 Cushla RUE 78'), 23 Ella ABDUL MASSIH (29 Melissa CACERES 59'), 32 Bethany GORDON (13 Jitka CHLASTAKOVA 68') – Subs not used: RGK Shamiran KHAMIS - Attendance: 656 – Referee: Isabella Blaess
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES – SEMI-FINAL REVIEW
The 2023 NPLM WA Night series Final will see Olympic Kingsway take on Inglewood United after both won their semi-finals on Saturday evening at the Inglewood Stadium. In the early game Olympic Kingsway dominated Armadale, running out 3-0 winners, with a brace from Tyler Garner and one from Ciaran Byrne giving David Tough's side a convincing win. “Delighted with the performance tonight, everything clicked for us,” Olympic coach David Tough said post-match.
“Armadale have had a good night series to date, but we took our chances and they didn’t. Delighted for the whole side, who to a man put their bodies on the line to keep them out when they had a good fifteen-minute spell in the second half, but I thought our skipper Shane Cassidy and Daniel Walsh, and the whole back four were outstanding. We get back on the track this week and look forward to taking on Inglewood in the final in another stern test.”
Olympic were on the front foot from the outset, and Armadale were defending in numbers, as the newly promoted side pressed for the opener, but they held firm with keeper Yousri Gharsallah outstanding. But in first half stoppage time Olympics dominance was rewarded with the opening goal. A good sequence of passes out of the back, and a patience build up, ended with Garner, on the right and he squeezed the ball past Gharsallah.
Armadale needed to lift and they started positive after the break, and had Olympic on the back foot, with Chris Jackson heading wide on two occasions when well placed, before George Ballah fired over the top. It was the best spell of the game for Armadale, but they couldn’t turn their pressure into goals. But Olympic defended desperately with skipper Shane Cassidy outstanding at the heart of the back four, and after soaking up the Armadale pressure Olympic weren’t to be denied, and they added a second five minutes from time.
With Armadale committing players forward looking for the equaliser, a quick break ended with Byrne on the edge of the box and he lobbed Gharsallah superbly. The icing was put on the cake in stoppage time when Olympic added a third, another fast break ended with Tyler on the edge of the box, and he finished well to seal a comprehensive win.
“It was a great result and performance last night, and we knew coming into the game that Armadale were in form, but last night everything clicked and we controlled the game from start to finish,” Olympic defender Calum O’Connell explained. “But most importantly a clean sheet for us going into the final, but we haven’t won anything yet.”
It was a different story in the late game, with hosts Inglewood United winning a five-goal thriller, beating Stirling Macedonia 3-2. “It was a great semi-final to watch with two very good teams going head-to-head, and we came at Stirling from the start and got in front with two goals, but we gave away a soft goal before halftime, which was disappointing,” Inglewood Head Coach Andres Oliveira explained.
“In the second half it was the same as both teams were creating chances then Stirling pounced on a defensive mistake and scored the equaliser. Credit to our players, they didn’t panic and kept playing the same way and Dylan White coming on made a big difference in maintaining that and when he got an opportunity, he neatly put it away. Overall, very pleased in our progress and in my players for making the finals as this is what football is all about.”
It was the hosts who found the opener early, a corner was only cleared to the edge of the box, and Ciaran Salinger played the ball back into the mix and Michael Domfeh headed home. They doubled their lead on 23 minutes, quick transition sent Domfeh in on goal, and as he rounded Stirling keeper James Bosdet he was brought down and referee Michal Jasinski pointed to the spot, and the keeper was shown a yellow card. But Harry Evans stepped up and scored from the resulting penalty.
But Stirling found a life line eight minutes later, the hosts failed to clear their lines from cross, and it was sent back into the middle and Kingsley Eushun headed home, and at the break it was game on. It was end-to-end after half time, with both sides creating chances, but failing to take them, but that changed ten minutes from time when Stirling levelled. Eushun got in behind the Inglewood defence, and got to the bye line before cutting the ball across box, where Alex Tanevski tapped home.
Stirling were pressing for the winner, but Inglewood held firm, and it was the hosts who found the late winner. Inglewood pinched the ball and on transition Shubham Mokala ran at an outstretched Stirling defence, he drew the defenders in at the last minute before sliding the ball to Dylan White who fired home into the far corner, much to the delight of the home faithful. “The game was back and forth for majority of the game, and we knew they would come out with intensity and pace,” Inglewood defender Ciaron Salinger explained. “We had to match their physicality all over the pitch and we most definitely did and scored two quick goals in the process.
“Stirling were never out of the game, no matter what the score was, so credit to them they came back at us relentlessly and pinched one before half time. The game was very stretched in the second half with both teams trying to get a goal, and they eventually did, but I thought our lads showed incredible composure and tenacity and went looking for a winner, which we deservedly did late.” The final will be held next Saturday evening (11 March) at Frank Drago Reserve (7pm).
GLORY WOMEN AIM TO KEEP HOT FORM ROLLING
Perth Glory coach Alex Epakis says his team can't afford to get distracted by the ups and downs of Melbourne Victory as the race for fourth spot in the A-League Women heats up. Glory's four-game winning streak has put their finals destiny back in their own hands.
Earlier this year, Glory sat 11 points behind Victory. But that margin has been whittled to five points and Glory have two games in hand on fourth-placed Victory. Glory will be aiming to continue their hot form when they host ninth-placed Western Sydney this afternoon.
Epakis wants his team to focus on themselves rather than thinking too much about how their top four rivals are getting along. "If we worry about what next door is doing, our own grass is going to grow a little bit too long and we're going to have to cut it," Epakis said.
"So we need to keep our own house in order and make sure things are running smoothly. We were working very hard to put ourselves in this position now. We let the shackles off and said we're just going to go out to play to win, play every game as if it's a final, and that's going to continue to be the message."
Western Sydney will be looking to bounce back from a 3-0 loss to Canberra United last week. "They do have the players that if we're not focused and if we're expecting to roll up and get the job done, they will hurt us," Epakis said.
"We can't take anything for granted. They have a few players who in transition and in attack can cause damage with their speed and directness." Glory Women take on Western Sydney from 4:00pm this afternoon at Macedonia Park.
GLORY LOSE ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Perth Glory’s woeful away record has continued in the Isuzu Ute A-League, letting the lead slip for the second week running, after a 2-1 defeat against Western United in round action at Ballarat’s MARS Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The defeat, their sixth game without a win, has but a halt on their top six finals aspirations. Jordan Elsey headed the visitors in front midway through the first half, but two quick goals late in the half from Tongo Doumbia and Noah Botic fired them in front.
Ruben Zadkovich’s side dominated after the break, but they couldn’t turn their dominance into the equaliser, the closest they came was when Salim Khelifi hit the post, but it’s another defeat, when they probably deserved more, and that was echoed in the coach’s pre-match press conference. “I felt like we had the better of the game,” Zadkovich said. “We knocked the ball around well at times and created some really good opportunities, but we didn’t take those opportunities and that’s a big part of what hurts us away from home.
“They were soft goals we conceded from our point of view and then you have to score three goals to win away from home which is difficult. It’s very, very frustrating because the players have worked really hard. You don’t have 60% of the ball and all those shots on goal without working hard. It just shows how hard the boys are fighting and working and the belief is there in what we’re doing, but individually, there were some lapses of concentration in key moments and those are hurting us, but I’m proud of the way the guys fought.”
The visitors were on top early, with the returning David Williams going close on two occasions, and on 22 minutes their early dominance was rewarded with the lead. Jack Clisby’s corner was headed goalward by Elsey, it was only parried by United keeper Jamie Young, the ball rebounding back to the defender, who fired home at the second attempt. The hosts looked for a quick response, but James Troisi could only find the side-netting.
It should have been 2-0, midway through the half, Adam Taggart held off Tomiki Imal, but the striker was unable to beat Young, firing his shot over the top. That missed proved costly, and four minutes before half time the hosts levelled, Doumbia got in a free header from Neil Kilkenny’s corner, to head powerfully past Cameron Cook. Then in stoppage time United hit the front, Taggart had been denied at the other end, before substitute Alessando Diamanti found Lachie Walsh, and his cross to the back post found Botic, the youngster controlling the ball on his chest before thumping it past Cameron Cook to give United the lead at the break.
It was an even start to the second half, but it was Zadkovich’s side that created the better chances, with both Keegan Jelacic and Clisby forcing Young into action. Then on the hour they went even closer, a neat one-two between Taggart and Khelifi, saw the latter race into the box, his shot flashed past Young, but the woodwork came to the rescue of the United custodian. The danger wasn’t over there, with Young saving superbly to deny Clisby’s follow up shot and Garuccio completed the defensive job with a clearing header.
Zadkovich went to the bench in search of answers, Zach Duncan, Giordano Colli, Antonee Burke-Gilroy and Adam Zimarino all brought on, but to no avail. Diamanti then curled one just wide of the far post, as United look to wrap the game up, but Glory couldn’t find an equaliser, with United defending in numbers, but at the final whistle they leave again empty-handed from a trip on the road, something they need to get right, if they are to feature in the end of season finals for the first time in three years.
Western United: GK Jamie YOUNG, 4 Leo LACROIX, 6 Tomoki IMAI, 7 Tongo DOUMBIA, 8 Lachie WALES, 11 Connor PAIN (5 Dylan PIERIAS 70'), 14 James TROISI (23 Alessandro DIAMANTI 40'), 17 Ben GARUCCIO, 19 Josh RISDON, 38 Noah BOTIC (99 Aleksandar PRIJOVIC 78'), 88 Neil KILKENNY (10 Steven LUSTICA 70') - Subs not used: RGK Ryan SCOTT, 9 Michael RUHS, 44 Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY
Perth Glory: GK Cameron COOK, 2 John KOUTROUMBIS (21 Antonee BURKE-GILROY 70'), 5 Mark BEEVERS, 6 Aaron MCENEFF, 8 Mustafa AMINI (19 Zach DUNCAN 70'), 10 Salim KHELIFI (20 Giordano COLLI 75'), 14 Jack CLISBY, 15 Jordan ELSEY, 16 Keegan JELACIC, 18 David WILLIAMS, 22 Adam TAGGART (43 Adam ZIMARINO 73') - Subs not used: RGK Pierce CLARK, 4 Luke BODNAR, 37 Jacob MUIR – Attendance: 2,586 - Referee: Jonathan Barreiro
NPLW WA NIGHT SERIES – WEEK THREE REVIEW
The NPLW WA Night Series Semi-Final places have been decided after a huge Friday night of final group games. First in Group A, Perth RedStar had already qualified, but the Hyundai NTC and Balcatta still had the opportunity to move through. But in the first game at E&D Litis Stadium the NTC secured their place in the semi-final after a 14-0 win against Curtin University. That meant Balcatta couldn’t progress, and they ended their group games with a 1-6 loss against top of the table RedStar.
Renee Leota gave Redstar the lead, but Kim McCartney levelled for Balcatta on the half hour. But that’s as good as it got for Balcatta, with Abbey Woolley giving Carlos Vega Mena’s side the lead at the break. After the break further goals from Olivia Wood, Grace Monterio, a penalty from Sarah Carroll, before Chiori Ikeda rounded out the scoring. “We expected Balcatta to play a high-pressure game looking for the result they needed, and trained during the week to prepare for it,” Vega Mena explained. “Going into the game we knew that Balcatta needed a point from us in order to make the semis, but after we scored the second goal, we were able to relax a little and play our game. In the second half the pressure was on Balcatta to score as they needed the result, however the 45 minutes went our way and we saw some great goals from the girls.”
In Group B, Perth SC had already qualified for the semi-finals, but Fremantle City and Murdoch University Melville still had a chance to go through, and MUMFC did what they had to do, beating Subiaco 3-1 in the early game at Ellenbrook Sports Hub. It was a tight first half and scoreless at the break, but half-time substitute Clara Hoarau gave MUMFC the lead finding the top corner. She added a second, from the spot to put them in control, but Subiaco hit back with Dakota van Vugt reducing the deficit. But MUMFC took the points, with Nikita Strickling adding the third.
Despite not qualifying MUMFC coach David Biancuzzo was pleased with how his side performed. “The first half didn’t see many opportunities for both teams resulting in 0-0 at half time, but the second half game seemed to open up more, and Clara came on at half time and changed the game for us,” he explained. “In the end we had to rely on a favourable result from the other game which unfortunately didn’t happen. Overall pleased with how the three games went, we were able to implement our playing style in patches, still have work to do, would still like to add some depth to the squad for the season but so proud of the players how they performed and the attitude and effort in the three games.”
That result meant Fremantle City needed a point in the late game against Perth SC to move through, and they duly found it, after a thrilling 3-3 draw. Fremantle were ahead with Olivia Trueman scoring, but Perth hit back with goals from Abbey Meakins and Ella Lincoln. Laura Waltman restored parity for Fremantle, only for Jaime Duncanson to regain the lead for Perth. It was an entertaining game with both sides having opportunities, and it was Fremantle who earned the point they need with Kat Jukic scoring.
“It was a very entertaining game to be a part of with both teams putting in a great effort. I'm so proud of our girls who despite going down 2-1 then 3-2, kept the energy and intensity levels high to come back and get the draw we needed to go through to the semi-finals,” Fremantle’s Laura Waltman said. “If we can keep that going against RedStar next week, I know we'll have some silverware coming our way.”
Perth’s Jamie Duncanson said it was a great game to be involved in and sets them up for a semi-final against NTC next week. “It was a good match where we were able to see some of the things, we’ve been working on in pre-season come to life. Fremantle put up a good fight, managing to score early and coming back from being down at some points in the game,” she said. “We want to win every game, and although a draw sometimes feels like a loss, continuing to pick up points in every competition is important to us. We saw some big improvements in the mentality of our squad on Friday night. Previously being scored on early would be a battle for us, but we now have the confidence, ability and depth to bounce back and even pull ahead. I think it’s going to be a good year for us, and that was evident in some of the passages on display in the match.”
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES – SEMI-FINAL PREVIEW
A spot in the NPLM WA Night Series Final is up for grabs on Saturday evening, with the two semi-finals taking place at the Inglewood Stadium. In the early game, Group A winners Armadale will look to bounce back from their first defeat of the pre-season competition last week against Perth SC, when they take on Group B runners-up Olympic Kingsway (5.00pm). It came down to the wire for Olympic last week, but they managed to secure their place in the final game on goal difference, with a 1-1 draw against Inglewood United. After promotion last season to the top flight of WA football for the first time since 1999, they have the chance to reach the Night Series Final once again, the last was in 1985.
Head Coach David Tough has been pleased with the direction his side are heading, but he knows there is a long way to go before their league campaign begins. “The Night Series has been going well for us so far, we have been able to successfully integrate seven new players into the squad and improve the squad’s fitness with minimal injuries in the five games played,” he said. “Although we have had some good and bad spells during the group games, we are using these to target areas that we can improve on in training, and our main is to keep improving before our first league fixture.”
The last Night Series Final win for the ‘Green Machine’ was in 1980, when they beat Gosnells City 2-0, that was the same year the club last won the Premier League, could that be an omen on Saturday. Tough said any semi-final is hard to win, and he has been impressed with what he has seen from Armadale. “Saturdays game against Armadale will be a big challenge, given their excellent performances in the group games, and John (O’Reilly) has done a great job in recruiting quality players during the off-season,” he explained. “From the matches I've seen, Armadale has the potential to be strong contenders for the title, but we’re one game away from a final, so we’ll be well prepared and aiming to show improvements in the areas we have been working on.”
Armadale qualified for the knockout stage with a game in hand, and Head Coach John O’Reilly was able to rest a few players in the Perth game, but overall, the coach, who goes into his seventh season at Alfred Skeet Reserve, has been delighted how his new look side are progressing. “The Night Series has been going well for us, and we’ve played some good football, but there is still room for improvement,” he said. “The pre-season competition is great for tinkering with a few formations, and with us signing a number of new players, we are pleased that the squad is starting to gel, and I believe we can only get stronger moving forward.”
The Night Series title has eluded Armadale over the years, but O’Reilly has overseen three semi-final games in his tenure at the club, the last was in 2021 when they drew 1-1 with eventual winners Inglewood United, before losing in the penalty shootout. He knows Saturday will be a difficult tie, and he is delighted to see Olympic, back in the Premier League. “They are the new boys in the league, and a club with so much tradition it’s great to have them back in the NPL,” O’Reilly explained. “They have had a couple of fantastic seasons where they have gained promotion from Division Two, then Division One, and we know they have good momentum and will be a strong opposition, so it should be a great game.”
In the late game at the venue, Group B winners Inglewood United host Group A runners Stirling Macedonia. (7.00pm) Inglewood sealed their place in the knockout stage, when a late equaliser from Shubham Mokala saw them draw 1-1 with Olympic Kingsway, while Stirling booked their place behind winners Armadale, by knocking out holders Floreat Athena 1-0, with Calvin Whitney scoring. A great start to the group stage saw Andres Oliveira’s side win their opening three games, but only a draw in the last two, made things interesting, but they secured top spot by just one point.
It will be the fifth season in charge for Oliveira at the club, and he said the new season couldn’t have started better for his side, as they look to improve on last season’s sixth place finish, and he has been pleased to give the whole squad game time. “Our Night Series preparation has been excellent, it has been part of our preseason as we only started on the first week of January, so delighted the way the players have performed,” he explained. “Everyone has got playing time, and we’ve managed to introduce our new players as well, so we are heading in the right direction.”
The last time the club won the Night Series was in 2021, when goals from Robert Petkov and Scott Blackmore secured a 2-0 win against Perth SC at Dalmatinac Park, and they have had a good record recently in the preseason competition and Oliveira is hoping for more success this season. “It’s the third year in a row making semi-finals in the competition, so it is a great achievement for the club,” he said. “So on Saturday, going up against Stirling, it will be another good test for our preseason campaign. They (Stirling) have kept their core players and added some good players to their squad, but we will focus on our preparation and be up for this challenge.”
Stirling Macedonia made a return to the NPL last season after a two-year absence, and a third-place finish was a great reward for Ian Ferguson’s side. The club will be looking to progress on Saturday, and a chance to add to their five Night Series titles and the coach said they are looking to build on their successful return to NPL football. “We were disappointed how we finished last season, and the draw against Floreat hurt us, and I thought if we had won that game, we would have won the league, so to finish the season that way hurt. But if someone had said to me, we were going finish third in our first season back in the NPL, you have got to be happy with that,” Ferguson explained.
“We’ve been happy how the pre-season competition has gone, but we had a few injuries within the squad at the beginning, and it’s been a bit of a nightmare if I’m honest, and it’s been a challenge but we’ve been able to give some of the younger members in the squad the opportunity, and thrown them in at the deep end, and see if they sink or swim, and they have done really well. Looking ahead, Inglewood have done very well to top their group, and scored lots of goals and are very dangerous going forward, so we know it will be a big challenge for us, as we’re still trying to get our best eleven on the park. So, it’s a challenge for those players given the responsibility on Saturday, and they haven’t let us down, so we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
STATE LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES – SEMI-FINAL PREVIEW
It’s also State League Night Series Semi-Finals on Sunday, with both games being played at Crazy Domains Stadium, Hartfield Park. In the early game Group E winners Western Knights meet Group C winners Mandurah City. (6.00pm) In the quarter-finals Mandurah beat Rockingham City in the ‘Peel Derby’, while the Knights held off a fast-finishing Morley Windmills to book their place in the next stage, and with both sides having big ambitions for 2023, this one should be a great game.
Mandurah City have continued were they left off last season, the Dolphins ended it in style, by taking out the Top Four Series Cup, and have gone through the group stage by winning all their games and proved too strong against Rockingham in the quarter final. They will be searching for their second Night Series title, the last came in 2021, when they beat Olympic Kingsway 1-0 with Joe O’Brien scoring the winner. Mandurah player/coach John Baird has been delighted how his side have gone so far, but knows the Knights game will be their toughest yet.
“Firstly, the group stages top spot, was a big improvement on our performance last season which is excellent, everybody in the squad got minutes during our group stage so that was important,” the Scotsman explained. “The quarter final result was pleasing, but most importantly the performance, which we in the coaching group where really pleased and delighted with. The pleasing thing is we believe there is more to come from us also. So, Sunday is another chance to get ourselves into a final which we’ve done in the last couple of years and that will be the aim again.”
Western Knights will be looking for a third spot in a Night Series Final, and they have won the last two, beating Dianella White Eagles on penalties in 2015, before goals from Matt Henry and Alex Kretowicz gave them a 2-0 win against Olympic Kingsway in 2020. Head Coach Adam Kostrencic is relishing Sunday’s game against Mandurah, and he has been pleased with the progress of his squad, and getting the new faces game time has been important.
“Our new look squad has been tracking well through our preseason programme and there have been some positive signs to take away from each of our night series matches so far,” he explained. “Mandurah are always a tough opponent, and with the game being a semi-final, it will provide our players with a real opportunity to test themselves against one of the favourites for the coming season.”
In the late semi-final at the venue, Group B winners Fremantle City take on Group A winners Gwelup Croatia. (8.00pm) After relegation from the NPL last season, Gwelup Croatia have started the rebuild well under new coach Trim Morgan, and their big win in the quarterfinals, to end the competition for holders Murdoch University Melville, showed that. The club will be looking to reach their second night series final, the last was in 2019, when they lost 1-3 to Forrestfield United.
New keeper Josiah Godfrey, who joined the club after a number of seasons at Inglewood United, said the win against MUMFC has given a huge boost. “After a strong undefeated run in the group stages, we had confidence going into the quarter finals but knew it was going to be a tough match against a quality side,” he said. “It was a hard-fought game in the first half but once our second goal came through, we settled and finished very strong and outplayed MUMFC, and it was a huge confidence booster for the team and overall club”
Godfrey is well aware the threat Fremantle pose, but he said they are ready for the challenge. “I believe Sunday will be an arm wrestle but the way we have been playing these last few weeks, we have really gelled together and found our form,” he explained. “With a very strong backline and midfield position feeding balls upfront and been dangerous with creating chances, so we are ready for the challenge and we feel confident going into the semis.”
Fremantle City will be aiming to reach a second night series final, the last coming in 2018, when they beat UWA Nedlands 4-1. It’s been a great start to the tenure of new Fremantle coach Matthew Sparrow, winning all their group games, and the quarterfinal against Joondalup City and have been scoring plenty of goals, and the coach has been pleased with how the side are going, but know there is more to come. “The boys have done well in the group stages, scoring goals and keeping clean sheets is always satisfying,” he explained. “But now it’s knock out stages anything can happen on the night.
Sparrow, who played over 300 games for Scunthorpe United in the UK, said Sunday’s game against Gwelup will be their biggest test, and he’s looking forward to a good contest. “We need to train well this week and fully focus on Gwelup at the weekend, which we know will be our biggest test so far in the competition,” he said. “The boys are looking forward to it, knowing a win would take us into the final but we’re not getting carried away as there’s still a lot of work to do. The semi-finals have four strong teams left in it, who you’d imagine to be up there in the league come the end of season.”
AMATEUR NIGHT SERIES – WEEK ONE PREVIEW
The 2023 Amateur Night Series kicks off this weekend, with four groups or four teams. The winners of each group will make up the semi-finals, and the final is on Sunday 9 April at a venue to be confirmed. The competition started on Wednesday evening when Wembley Downs beat North Perth United 4-3 in a thriller at Wanneroo Reserve. “Good effort from the whole team and lots of new faces that have come into the team and added some good quality,” Wembley’s Ryan Morris said. “A lot of minutes to get under people’s belt, but we now reset and look towards our next opponent, Jags.”
It was Wembley who hit the front with Kyle Thistlethwaite scoring, but Liam Fyfe levelled for United. Wembley regained the lead for just before time, through Josh Chalmers, and Matt Devereaux added a third early in the second half. But Alex Carter’s side weren’t finished and Kyle Jackson pulled one back, before a stunner from Brian Woodall levelled things up. But Wembley prevailed late, with Devereaux added his second to seal the 4-3 win. The other game in the group is on Sunday, when Jaguar meet Maccabi at the Ellenbrook Sports Hub (6.00pm)
In Group B, the games are at Kelly Park on Saturday afternoon, and in the early game South West Phoenix take on Port Kennedy. (1.00pm) The Phoenix, who were relegated from the State League last season, will want to start their rebuild with a win, while Port Kennedy will look to build on their Australia Cup win last week. In the late game at the venue, hosts Kwinana Unit meet Peel United. (3.00pm)
In Group C, the games are at Beldon Park on Sunday afternoon, and in the early game Joondalup United play North Beach. (1.00pm), while in the late game at the venue, holders East Perth, who beat Kelmscott in last season’s final, will start their defence when they meet Quinns. (3.00pm) Finally in Group D, the first game is at Challenger Reserve on Saturday evening, when Emerald meets South Perth United. (5.00pm), while the other game in the group takes place at Watsons Oval on Tuesday evening, where Kelmscott Roos take on Southern Spirit. (7.00pm)
NPLW WA NIGHT SERIES – WEEK THREE PREVIEW
It's the final group games of the NPLW WA on Friday, with Perth RedStar and Perth SC having already qualified for the semi-finals, the other two spots are up for grabs in the two groups. Firstly, in Group A at the E&D Litis stadium the Womens Hyundai NTC take on Curtin University. (6.30pm)
It’s been a tough start for new Curtin coach Alan Armstrong, losing both games, and eliminated from the competition, but their new squad would have got some good match time together, which is something to build on for the season ahead. The NTC need to win this one, and hope Balcatta are beaten well by Perth RedStar in the late game at the venue to qualify. (8.30pm)
Balcatta sit on four points, after a win in the opening game against Curtin, while they fought back to earn a point against the NTC last week, and coach Tim Cash said it’s a huge challenge to take on the champions, but they are looking forward to it. “I thought we fought back well against NTC but were not near our best in the game,” he explained. “We are looking forward to the challenge of Redstar, and know we need to be on our game.”
In Group B, Perth SC are through to the semi-finals, and they take on Fremantle City in the late game at the Ellenbrook Sports Hub. (8.30pm) Fremantle require a point to secure their spot in the knock out stage, but if they slip up, Murdoch University Melville can still qualify, if they beat Subiaco in the late game at the venue. (8.30pm) MUMFC new coach David Biancuzzo said it’s been a learning curve for all, but he has been impressed with his young sides attitude.
“My focus for the Night Series has been to get to know the players especially those new to the club this season. Their strengths, weaknesses and how they all fit into the various playing styles we have introduced during the two games,” he explained. “It is a young team however I have been really impressed with their attitude and effort both at training and during the games so far.
“For those that have watched our games I’m sure they have been impressed with how the players have that never give up attitude no matter the opposition, no matter the score and as a coach I guess you can’t ask for much more than that. At the start of pre-season, I wanted the players to determine the culture, the standard each session, each game and so far, have been really impressed with what I’ve seen.”
Biancuzzo, who has taken over from Luke Thompson this season at the club, said they will be focusing only on what they can do against a good Subiaco side, and not results from elsewhere on the night. “Our final game against Subiaco is going to be tough, as they are a very good team led by an experienced coaching group,” he said. “However, we go into the game with no fear, and hopefully we can get the positive result. We can only control what happens in our game and then see what happens in the other game.”
GLORY LOOKING FOR MORE HOME COMFORTS AGAINST WANDERERS
Perth Glory will look to keep the pressure on the teams above them on the Liberty A-League ladder, when they take on Western Sydney Wanderers at Macedonia Park on Sunday afternoon. (4.00pm) Following last weekend’s win against Brisbane Roar, Alex Epakis’ side sit five points adrift of fourth-placed Melbourne Victory, but do have two games in hand, so it makes Sundays game vital, and three points a must.
Epakis said his squad is working tirelessly, and are full of confidence heading into the clash, and he said they are focused on continuing their four-game winning streak, and with six games remaining, their finals hopes are in their own hands. “The players and staff are very happy, but we’re also committed and focused,” he said. “We’re happy that what we’re doing on the training ground and the preparation and effort that’s going in during the week is getting us good performances and points on the weekend, but we’re also really fixated on the next game and the one after that.
“It’s step by step and we’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves just yet. The key message is now that we can’t change what we’ve been doing or our mindset. We’ve got to keep believing that every game is just as important and whether it’s in our hands or not, the reality is we just want to win the game. Knowing that that’s there in the background is nice, but we’re not going to change anything we’ve been doing to put ourselves in this position.”
The last time the Wanderers heading west was in round 14 in season 2019-20, when they left with the three points after a 3-2 win in Bunbury. Sam Staag, and brace from Kristen Hamilton saw the visitors race to a 3-0 lead inside the first half hour, but late goals from Celia Delgado and Morgan Andrews gave Glory a chance to snatch a late point, but the Wanderers held firm to take the points.
Wanderers currently sit three places and four points below Glory in the table having struggled for consistency all season, but Epakis knows their potential in their side, and knows they will have to be at their best on Sunday. “Where they are right now, they’re probably looking at finishing as high as they possibly can and building for next season,” he said.
“So, we can’t underestimate that and I think they do have players that, if we’re not focused and just roll up expecting to get the job done, will hurt us. That’s been a key message, we can’t take anyone for granted. They’ve got a few players who, in transition and in attack, can cause damage with their speed and directness, so I imagine they’ll look to utilise those players and we’ll have to be really ready for that.” Glory came out of the win against the Roar unscathed, but he will be without Tijan McKenna who is on international duty with the Young Matildas, while Susan Phonsongkham is still out injured.
Perth Glory squad: GK Morgan AQUINO, GK Sarah LANGMAN, 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Natasha RIGBY, 7 Liz ANTON, 8 Hana LOWRY, 9 Demi KOULIZAKIS, 12 Sofia SAKALIS, 13 Sarah CAIN, 14 Hannah BLAKE, 15 Cyera HINTZEN, 16 Isabella WALLHEAD, 17 Abbey GREEN, 18 Sadie LAWRENCE, 19 Izzy FOLETTA, 21 Ella MASTRANTONIO, 23 Alana JANCEVSKI - Ins: WALLHEAD - Unavailable: 6 Tijan MCKENNA (international duty), 10 Susan PHONSONGKHAM (injured), 11 Rylee BAISDEN (injured), 24 Milan HAMMOND (injured)
Western Sydney Wanderers squad: GK Jordyn BLOOMER, GK Shamiran KHAMIS, 4 Angelique HRISTODOULOU, 5 Lauren KEIR, 6 Amy CHESSARI, 7 Amy HARRISON, 8 Olivia PRICE, 9 Sophie HARDING, 10 Sienna SAVESKA, 11 Danika MATOS, 13 Jitka CHLASTAKOVA, 14 Clare HUNT, 15 Cushla RUE, 16 Malia STEINMETZ, 17 Sheridan GALLAGHER, 18 Bethany GORDON, 19 Sarina BOLDEN, 21 Alexia APOSTOLAKIS, 23 Ella ABDUL MASSIH, 25 Holly CASPERS, 26 Aimee HALL
ZADKOVICH BACKS COOK AS GLORY'S NUMBER ONE
Perth Glory coach Ruben Zadkovich has declared goalkeeper Cameron Cook a big part of the club's future despite rumours that Wellington Phoenix gloveman Oliver Sail is on the verge of signing. The goalkeeping situation at Glory has become a delicate situation, with veteran Liam Reddy unlikely to play for the club again after Zadkovich opted to turn to youth.
Cook, who was born in Alice Springs and played for Adelaide United in the South Australian National Premier Leagues, is now firmly ensconsed as Glory's number one with yet-to-debut Pierce Clark the back-up. The club also have former Socceroos goalkeeper Brad Jones on their books, but a serious knee injury has ruled him out for the season.
"Cookie's a fantastic keeper," said Zadkovich in backing the 21-year old to perform strongly in Saturday's clash with Western United. "Like a few players last week, I know he'll want to do better in a few areas. He's a long-term prospect for this club and a very valuable asset. He'll be a huge part of us moving forward, and I'll keep putting my faith in him."
Reddy is fifth on the list of A-League games played with 350 appearances, however, he the 41-year old has not featured since the loss to Adelaide on January 2. "Liam Reddy's had a hell of a career and he's been a fantastic servant to the club over a long period," Zadkovich said. "But it's pretty clear that the club is going in a different direction."
GLORY FOCUSED ON ENDING FIVE GAME WINLESS STREAK
Perth Glory will look to end their form slump, when they travel to MARS Stadium in Ballarat to take on Western United on Saturday afternoon (kick off 2.00pm WA Time). The five-game winless run has seen Glory’s playoff hopes fade, but if they can get back into the winner’s circle, they are still in the mix, and Head Coach Ruben Zadkovich has said that accountability has been a key focus among his squad this week.
The coach believes that his players are in the correct mindset to secure a victory which could propel them to within one point of the top six, but they need to change their results on the road, having only won once this season. Last season’s Champions (United) might be struggling at the moment, but Zadkovich knows the quality they have, but he said it’s all about them, heading in the round 19 clash.
“We know Western United are last year’s champions and they have a lot of those players still at the club, so we have to be very careful, but the focus needs to remain firmly on us,” he explained. “There are areas we need to improve in if we want to win games and at the moment, even though there have been some good performances in patches, those lapses in concentration are hurting us. We need to focus on ourselves, make sure we do our work for longer periods and make sure it’s a 95-minute performance.
“I feel if we do that, we’re good enough to beat anyone and Western United are no exception to that. We need to be accountable, and the playing group have been big on that this week. They want to hold each other accountable for longer periods in games and I know we’ll be up for the fight. I’m really excited to see how we go this week and I think we can get a good reaction.”
Zadkovich said the loss against Brisbane was disappointing, but he felt that the game was indicative of what is an incredibly tight Isuzu Ute A-League competition this year. “The way the ladder is at the moment, every game is so competitive,” he said. “It’s easy to get very reactive on performances, but it’s very important to stay focused to the bigger picture and clear direction that we’re trying to head in. I look at Brisbane… and they haven’t won many games at home and obviously we were disappointed to give them those goals. But not many teams have gone to Brisbane and won, there have been a lot of tight games.”
The last time Glory played United away was in Launceston last season, a game Glory would like to forget, with Lachlan Wales bagging a hat-trick as United ran out 6-0 winners, but they did beat United in round seven this season, with goals from Ryan Williams and Jack Clisby giving Glory a 2-1 win at Macedonia Park. They head into this one without defender Darryl Lachman, who was hospitalised with a head injury against the Roar, and the suspended Williams. The coach was quick to report the likeable defender was up and about, but would miss this week. “Darryl’s going well,” Zadkovich said.
“He did an activation session yesterday and some controlled stuff that is within the concussion protocols. He’s got a few stitches on his forehead and a pretty solid knock there and I’ve tried to remind him that the scar’s not going to hurt his good looks too much. The nice thing is that he’s in good spirits and he’s back moving. Obviously, he’s a big loss for us this week, but if all goes well with his concussion protocols, he’ll come back into contention for the next game.”
Western United squad: GK Jamie YOUNG, GK Ryan SCOTT, 4 Leo LACROIX, 5 Dylan PIERIAS, 6 Tomoki IMAI, 7 Tongo DOUMBIA, 8 Lachie WALES, 9 Michael RUHS, 10 Steven LUSTICA, 11 Connor PAIN, 14 James TROISI, 17 Ben GARUCCIO, 19 Josh RISDON, 21 Sebastian PASQUALI, 23 Alessandro DIAMANTI, 27 Jacob TRATT, 31 Adisu BAYEW, 38 Noah BOTIC, 44 Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 88 Neil KILKENNY, 99 Aleksandar PRIJOVIC - Ins: LUSTICA (returns from injury), TOPOR-STANLEY (returns from injury), PRIJOVIC (returns from injury) - Unavailable: 20 Ramy NAJJARINE (injured), 24 Connor O’TOOLE (injured) 42 Rhys BOZINOVSKI (international duty)
Perth Glory squad: GK Cameron COOK, GK Pierce CLARK, 2 John KOUTROUMBIS, 3 Jacob DOWSE, 4 Luke BODNAR, 5 Mark BEEVERS, 6 Aaron MCENEFF, 8 Mustafa AMINI, 10 Salim KHELIFI, 14 Jack CLISBY, 15 Jordan ELSEY, 16 Keegan JELACIC, 18 David WILLIAMS, 19 Zach DUNCAN, 20 Giordano COLLI, 21 Antonee BURKE-GILROY, 22 Adam TAGGART, 37 Jacob MUIR, 43 Adam ZIMARINO - Ins: DOWSE, DUNCAN, MUIR - Outs: 7 Ryan WILLIAMS, 29 Darryl LACHMAN - Unavailable: GK Brad JONES (injured), GK Liam REDDY (Not selected), 24.Adrian SARDINERO (injured)
MCGARRY FLIES INTO THE GULLS NEST
Sorrento haven’t taken long to replace Trevor Morgan, who parted company with the Percy Doyle Reserve club on Monday, after appointing former Perth Glory assistant coach Steven McGarry to the role. McGarry, who headed down under from Scotland in 2010, after playing over 300 games for St Mirren, Ross County and Motherwell, signing for Perth Glory, and he went on to play over 100 A-League games, and won the 2013 Most Glorious Player (MGP).
He then turned his attention to coaching, joining ECU Joondalup, before heading back to the Glory and becoming the clubs Academy Technical Director and NPL U18s Head Coach. He then headed upstairs, becoming first team assistant coach, with Richard Garcia, and the 43-year-old is relishing the opportunity that Sorrento has given him. “I’m delighted to be joining the club as Head Coach. Historically Sorrento are one of the bigger clubs in WA and it’s a privilege to lead them going forward this season,” he told the clubs website. “After speaking with the club over the last few days, and getting a feel and understanding for what the club’s ambitions are, it made my decision relatively easy. The season is only around the corner so I’m looking forward to getting on the grass and working and preparing the players for round one.”
New Sorrento President Nico Hoyle said the appointment has been a huge boost to the club. “We’re absolutely delighted to get Stevie on board, he brings a wealth of knowledge on modern football with him, and is highly respected by players and the football community,” he said. “Since his appointment it’s given the club a massive buzz and look forward to see the impact he will have. His vision for the club and people made it clear he was the right person to lead this club forward. It’s clear the club is hungry for success and we are going to drive each other to get where we want to go.”
CIRCATI ON ARNOLD’S SOCCEROOS RADAR
Socceroos coach Graham Arnold is hoping he can convince a number of dual-eligible players - including former Perth SC junior Alessandro Circati - to opt for Australia when they play Ecuador later this month. The up-coming games in Sydney (March 24) and Melbourne (March 28) will be Australia's first appearances omn home soil since departing for last year's World Cup in Qatar.
Arnold is looking to add to his options after successfully convincing Martin Boyle, Harry Souttar and Jason Cummings to choose Australia over Scotland. National team staff have been in contact with a list of players with dual nationality, amongst them Cristian Volpato (Roma), Circati (Parma), Alex Robertson (Manchester City) and Nicholas Bilokapic (Huddersfield Town).
"I think we will eventually get them across the line," Arnold said. "It's about me communicating with those kids and making sure that they are making those decisions for the right reasons. They've obviously got to speak to their families to make sure that when they put on that Australian shirt, it matches (what's in) their heart."
Sydney-born Volpato turned down a chance to play at the World Cup as he weighed up declaring for Italy. Circati was born in Italy but has lived in Australia since childhood and has dual citizenship. Robertson was born in Scotland but is eligible to represent Australia, Scotland Peru and England. Bilokapic was born in Australia but has Croatian ancestry.
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This page was last updated on the 27th February, 2023