MRDJA STARS IN MARINERS WIN
Nik Mrdja played the starring role in Central Coast Mariners 3-0 defeat of A-League newcomer Wellington Phoenix this evening. The former Perth Glory striker scored twice and set-up the teams’ third to maintain the Mariners perfect start to the new season. “It’s been a long time and it’s great to be back and great to be scoring goals,” said Mrdja. “It’s sensational - we’ve got two good results but it’s not finished yet and hopefully we can go on from here.”
The ball had been in motion just 7 minutes when Mrdja received a cross from Dean Heffernan, beat two defenders and buried his shot in the net of Glen Moss. Six minutes later Mrdja laid on a superb pass to Adam Kwasnik who lashed in a vicious shot. The Mariners third came just after the half hour when Kwasnik turned the ball into the path of Mrdja to batter it home. Mrdja should have completed his hat-trick after the break when he danced the ball to the top of the 6-yard box only to sky his shot over the bar.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
Floreat Athena can secure the Premier League title with a home win against Sorrento on Saturday. The www.footballwa.net Match of the Week takes place just down the road at Dorrien Gardens where Perth S.C. take on long-time rivals Western Knights. E.C.U. Joondalup have home ground advantage against Cockburn City in what shapes as a cracker of a game. Stirling Lions can remain in the top four with a home win over Armadale. Inglewood United are home to a Swan I.C. outfit for whom not a great deal has gone to plan this year. The WA Spanish Club is the venue for Fremantle Spirit against Wanneroo City.
First Division champion-in-waiting Mandurah City are expected to pick up all three points from their derby meeting with Rockingham City at Peelwood Parade. Seven points adrift the leaders are Ashfield who will be seeking to extend their seven game winning run away at Queens Park. South West Phoenix have been on the seasons big surprises and a win at Morley Windmills will keep them on course for their best ever end of season placing. Dianella White Eagles face a difficult home clash with a Gosnells City side coming off three successive wins. Canning City will out to arrest a slow slide down the table when they host Balcatta. Bayswater City play Forrestfield United at Frank Drago Reserve.
MEMORABILIA FAIR APPROACHES
The Football Programme and Memorabilia Fair (pdf, 66kb) rolls in to Kiev Sport Ground, home of Inglewood United, on Sunday 16th September. It's the third fair in eighteen months and organisers are bracing themselves for another big turnout. "The feedback on last years two fairs was positive and I'm hoping next months event will build on that interest," said Bob Brown, the driving force behind the concept.
The fair will present WA's biggest range of local, national and international programmes, books, videos, DVDs, framed photographs, badges, trading cards and a variety of other football-related memorabilia. The Football Programme and Memorabilia Fair takes place between 10.30am and 1.00pm on Sunday 16th September at Kiev Sport Ground, Hamer Parade in Inglewood. Entry is free!
Goalkeeper Aleks Vrteski will pursue playing options in Europe after agreeing by mutual consent with Perth Glory to terminate his contract. The 19-year old departed on Wednesday evening for Macedonia where hes hopeful of landing a deal with First Division side FK Pobeda. A graduate of the Australian Institute of Sport, Vrteski joined Glory in March 2006 and played eight games during the season which followed. Vrteski has played locally for Sorrento, Stirling Lions, Wanneroo City and, most recently, E.C.U. Joondalup.
Coach Ron Smith said it was a difficult decision to let the talented youngster go but did so in the best interests of the player. “Aleks has a lot of potential and he felt he could progress more quickly if he was getting regular first team football,” Smith said. “He would have definitely played a role for us at various stages throughout the season however we are in a fortunate position to have a number of talented ‘keepers and it’s difficult for them all to get significant game time, so I understand his position.
A-LEAGUE DEBUT DAWNS FOR DANZE
Anthony Danze is expected to step on to the A-League arena on Saturday evening when Perth Glory takes on Melbourne Victory at the Telstra Dome. A strong week on the training track has shown coach Ron Smith that Danze is well and truly over the ankle injury suffered in the pre-season Cup clash with Newcastle United six weeks ago. The attacking midfielder played eleven games with Glory in the previous national competition before spending two seasons in England at Crystal Palace and Milton Keynes Dons.
Smith has also added versatile big man Jamie Harnwell and Australian youth international David Micevski to the squad for tomorrow's game. Harnwell gives the side flexibility at both ends of the ground, while Micevski adds some bite to central midfield and could open the door for captain Simon Colosimo to play a more defensive role against the reigning champions. The only exclusion from last weekend's scoreless draw with Newcastle United is injured defender David Tarka.
COLOSIMO IN SOCCEROOS SQUAD
Perth Glory captain Simon Colosimo is set to pull on the green and gold against world superpower Argentina. Colosimo is one of five A-League players to be included in the squad to face the South American giants at the MCG on Tuesday 11th September. "Playing for Australia is always a huge thrill and personally I set myself to be part of this big game so I'm really happy to be included," said Colosimo, has been rewarded for his outstanding recent form. "I feel as though my best years are to come and I want to be a key member of the Socceroos squad going forward. No matter how many times you stand on the pitch and hear the national anthem it sends a shiver through your spine and I can’t wait to be part of it next month."
The Australia squad to play Argentina is Scott McDonald (Celtic), Dean Heffernan (Central Coast Mariners), Jason Culina (PSV Eindhoven), Nick Carle (Genclerbirligi), Carl Valeri (Grosseto), Patrick Kisnorbo (Leicester City), Archie Thompson (Melbourne Victory), Mark Schwarzer (Middlesbrough), Brett Holman (NEC Nijmegen), Michael Beauchamp, Josh Kennedy (Nuremburg), Mark Bresciano (Palermo), Simon Colosimo (Perth Glory), David Carney (Sheffield United), Clint Bolton, Alex Brosque (Sydney FC), Vincenzo Grella (Torino), Luke Wilkshire (FC Twente), Lucas Neill (West Ham United), Josip Skoko (Wigan Athletic) and Michael Thwaite (Wisla Krakow),
MUSEUM QUEST CONTINUES (courtesy Hall of Fame committee)
The push for a museum to showcase the history of the game in Western Australia is still high on the agenda of the Hall of Fame committee. Chairman Louis Prospero and committee members Bob Brown and John O’Connell recently met with Football West chief executive Garry Chandler to discuss a range of subjects, including the possibility of establishing a museum.
Chandler was supportive of the project and informed the trio that Football West was pressing the State government on the matter. “Football West have a lot of memorabilia, cups, trophies and other items in storage and are very conscious of the need to find some place in which to put these important pieces of history on show,’ said Prospero.
Members of the Football Fame of Fame committee, along with Football West chairman Kevin Campbell, met Minister for Sport John Kobelke last December to put forward a case for the need to establish a football museum in Perth. Kobelke acknowledged that there was a great deal of passion among the committee with regards to the project, but said no decision regarding a possible museum could be taken until the Government’s task force had concluded its report into major stadiums.
The committee’s preferred location for a museum is Members Equity Stadium, however, no decision has been made as to whether further development of the venue will be undertaken. Campbell raised the matter of establishing a football museum with Kobelke recently but was told a decision was some way off. “A home for the Hall of Fame is on the agenda every time we meet the Government,” Campbell commented. “We will continue to keep pushing the issue.”
Brown recently returned from a trip to Europe where he visited a number of football museums, including the impressive set up at Nou Camp Stadium, home of Spanish giants Barcelona. “It was a wonderful experience and visiting the museum included a film show and a tour of the ground,” he said. “And I certainly came away with some great ideas for exhibiting our memorabilia in Perth.”
While abroad Brown also visited the Coventry City stadium and the English National Museum at Preston North End’s ground. “The one at Preston is superb with areas where the public can participate in things like virtual reality concepts and make use of headphones that relate stories of legendry players and famous incidents. It’s laid over three floors - and the third floor of the building is Preston North End’s own museum. ”
LAZARIDIS VOWS TO CLEAR HIS NAME
Suspended Perth Glory midfielder Stan Lazaridis will fight to clear his name completely after being slapped with a twelve-month ban for a failed drug test. Speaking publicly for the first time about his nightmare year, Lazaridis described the past nine months as the most difficult of his life. "This has probably been the most difficult time in my life, for myself and my family, and I want to thank Perth Glory, the PFA, all my friends and everyone that has supported me," Lazaridis said in a prepared statement.
Lazaridis expressed his relief that the Football Federation Australia inquiry didn't label him a drug cheat. "I have always prided myself on being a fair player and have never once tried to gain an unfair advantage in any way," he added. "The FFA Anti Doping Tribunal stated in their verdict that I'm not a drug cheat. I always had a fear that people would perceive it that way but I want to make it clear that I am strongly opposed to anyone using performance enhancing substances."
The FFA inquiry found red tape within Australian sporting administration forced Lazaridis to stop taking medication which he'd previously been given approval for in England. Lazaridis applied twice for a Therapeutic Use Exemption for the medication in Australia before returning a positive test last November. He was subsequently granted approval to use finasteride in January.
Having had his career effectively on hold for the past nine months, Lazaridis says he is now focused on regaining his fitness and preparing to play his part in the final third of the A-league season. "My main aim now is to concentrate on getting fit and representing my club, Perth Glory, and hopefully coming back in a couple of months or earlier if that is possible through the appeal process," he said.
Privately furious at the treatment of their marquee player, Glory put on a diplomatic face today. "It is by no means an easy case, and it is the best possible result - under the code - that we could have hoped for," chief executive Scott Gooch said. "It has taken some time, but it is not an easy case. There is an appeal to see if Stan is allowed to train with the club, and there is also a possible avenue to get some retroactive approval to use the therapeutic drug."
CRUEL END TO TARKA’S SEASON
Perth Glory defender David Tarka will miss the remainder of the season after rupturing a tendon in his right hamstring. The 24-year old will require surgery to fully repair the problem suffered just 15 minutes into Glory’s opening game of the A-League season with Newcastle United on Sunday. While a time frame has not been put on his return, it is expected to be several months before Tarka is able to take part in full training and considerably longer before he’s ready for match action.
It’s a bitter set-back for Tarka who was joint winner of the club’s Most Glorious Player award last season. “I’m extremely disappointed that I won’t be able to be out there with my team mates, I was looking forward to playing a big role for the club this season, unfortunately it’s not to be,” he said. “The positive thing for me is that once the surgery is complete it’ll give me a clean slate to start from and my hamstring problems will be in the past. The doctors have said my right hammy will be as good as new.”
Tarka is wasting no time and will go under the knife this Friday. He’ll spend several weeks on crutches during which the defender plans to combine his rehabilitation with an off-field role at the club. “The club is heading in the right direction and I want to be a part of it, even though that won’t be on the pitch for a while,” Tarka said. “I’ll definitely be giving my full support from the sidelines and I’m committed to getting back to playing as soon as I can.”
GLORY WON’T BE MOVING TO NEW STADIUM
Perth Glory co-owner Tony Sage used his first pre-match function to tell fans the club would not be prepared to play in the Governments proposed multi-purpose stadium. “There’s no way we would play at a 60,000-seat stadium for two reasons,” said Sage, who took over the club with fellow investors John Spence and Brett McKeon in March. “One, aesthetically it would look stupid getting 15,000 people, which is what we hope we’ll have at our games in a year or so, in a 60,000 stadium. And financially we wouldn’t be able to afford the rental at a new stadium.”
The new owners’ ambitious plans to revitalise Glory got off to a steady start on Sunday when 8,508 spectators braved the wind and the rain for the club’s first game of the 2007/08 A-League campaign. Sage admitted the club had wanted in excess of 12,000 for the first game but he was optimistic that the numbers would improve. Glory averaged 7,671 to their ten home games last season. “Given the conditions, we were quite happy, but our expectations were for 12 or 13,000,” Sage said. “The weather detracted from what was on the pitch, as well as influencing people coming to the ground.”
LAZARIDIS SLAPPED WITH ONE-YEAR SUSPENSION
Former Australian international Stan Lazaridis has been suspended for a year after testing positive to a banned substance. Football Federation Australia this evening confirmed the twelve-month ban for Lazaridis, 35, but said it would be backdated to the date of his positive test. That means the suspension will finish on 27th November, ruling him out for most of the A-League season until Round 15. However Lazaridis last donned Glory colours on 14th December 2006, throwing his retrospective year-long ban into confusion.
Lazaridis tested positive for finasteride, a hair loss drug on the list of banned substances as a possible masking agent for other drugs. The veteran midfielder is understood to have previously been granted permission to use the drug for therapeutic purposes while playing for English club Birmingham City, but that exemption had not been renewed when he was tested in Australia. Lazaridis currently has an appeal underway for a retrospective granting of permission to use the drug after an initial plea was rejected.
FFA haven been aware of Lazaridis’ impending suspension since 6th August but waited three weeks to announce it to allow for any further appeals. “The tribunal made certain express findings regarding Stan’s good character which FFA welcomes,” said Ben Buckley, chief executive of FFA. “In particular it found that Stan had not taken the prohibited substance to mask a performance enhancing drug but for legitimate therapeutic purposes as prescribed by his doctor.”
Scott Gooch, Glory’s chief executive, said Lazaridis was a person of high integrity whose dedication to the development of Australian football is second to none. “He deserves and will get the whole hearted support of everyone at Perth Glory,” said Gooch. “I’d imagine that former team mates and football fans around the world that have had the pleasure of being associated with Stan will be right behind him also.”
Glory has supported Lazaridis throughout the process and will continue to stand by their marquee player, who’ll be back on deck for the final months of the season. “We will give Stan every chance to see out his decorated career on the pitch,” explained Gooch. “Stan is a quality person and a player of the highest order and we are confident that he will return and have an impact for Perth Glory as we enter the business end of this season.”
Gooch said the club was content that the findings of the FFA anti-doping tribunal expressly indicate that Lazaridis’s use of finasteride was for a legitimate therapeutic use. “The findings recognise that Stan has a legitimate medical condition and any suggestion to the contrary is completely off the mark,” Gooch commented. The Australian Professional Footballers’ Association will continue acting on Lazaridis’ behalf for the retrospective approval of his Therapeutic Use Exemption as well as the midfielders’ right to train with Glory while under suspension.
BIRIGHITTI CAUGHT OFF-GUARD BY JOEYS CALL-UP
Teenager Mark Birighitti is the latest in a long line of impressive goalkeepers from the west coast to make it on to the international stage. The Servite College student was stunned when he was called up to represent Australia’s Under-17s at a recent tournament in Japan against the host nation, South Korea and the United States. And the promising shot-stopper now has his sights on higher goals.
Birighitti was taking part in a National Training Centre challenge in Canberra in July when his national call-up came out of the blue. “One night we were in our rooms and the NTC coach (Paul Wozny) came in and asked me if I had a current passport because I’d been picked to play for the Australian Under-17 team,” Birighitti said. “I was shocked and almost in tears. I rang my parents to tell them news and they were crying.”
There may be a few more tears of joy to come for the Birighitti family if the 16-year old continues to live up to his potential. Australia’s goalkeeping coach, Tony Franken, feels Birighitti has a bright future ahead of him. “He’s got a presence about him even though he’s only 16,” Franken said. “And he’s got the added advantage of playing a handful of reserve grade games for Perth before he went into the NTC program.”
Another to have noticed a sharp rise in Birighitti’s skills is Glenn Giudici, goalkeeping coach with Premier League club Perth. “His attitude and dedication is very good,” Giudici said. “He’s got very good technique, a good pair of hands and he’s got good distribution. He’s always shown potential but in the last two or three years he’s really taken off.”
West Australia’s has a strong track record of producing quality goalkeepers. Tony Franken, Robert Zabica, Jason Petkovic and Michael Petkovic have all represented Australia at senior level, while Tando Velaphi and Aleks Vrteski have gained youth international honours. The next stop for Birighitti could be a place at the Australian Institute of Sport whose coaches are sure to keep a close eye on his development.
GARCIA EARNS HULL FIRST WIN
Richard Garcia’s second goal in seven days earned Hull City their first win of the 2007/08 Championship season. Hull dominated Norwich City for large parts of the game, but it looked as through the sides would share the spoils when substitute Dion Dublin cancelled out Dean Windass’ opener early in the second half. Garcia settled the contest with thirteen minutes remaining by converting a pinpoint cross from the left by Windass.
Although Garcia was the goalscoring hero he deflected the praise on to his attacking team-mates Windass and Michael Bridges. “Deano always keeps surprising us,” said Garcia of the 38-year old. “Not only is he scoring goals but he’s providing them as well as he showed out there against Norwich … his ball for the winner was fantastic. Michael Bridges was again involved in the set-up play as he was in the first. Michael played really well out there. His hold-up play was fantastic and he looked to get in behind the play.”
Saturday’s win represented the Tigers most polished performance to date and Garcia believes there is a lot more to come as new players begin to find their feet. “We’ve been champing at the bit for our first win,” he said. “Things will take time - it’s about understanding each others game and getting that togetherness as a team. Slowly but surely, we’re learning about that. It was a great result and good that it was at home as well - hopefully the fans will have enjoyed it because the players certainly did.”
GLORY RUE MISSED CHANCES
Perth Glory started the new A-League season with a hard-fought 0-0 draw against Newcastle United in wet and windy conditions at Members Equity Stadium. Both teams took time to adjust to the swirling wind with the hosts settling the better. Billy Celeski created the first opportunity by slipping a pass through to Nikita Rukavytsya whose well-struck drive was parried by Ante Covic. Glory continued to dominate in terms of possession and territory only to suffer a major blow on 16 minutes when defender David Tarka limped out of the game after injuring his hamstring.
However, the loss failed to stem Glory’s attacking instinct and Covic’s reflex save kept out a goal bound flick by Mate Dragicevic in the 22nd minute. Dragicevic returned the compliment by laying the ball back to Naum Sekulovski whose crisp effort whistled inches wide of the Covic’s left post. Newcastle should have gone ahead right on the stroke of half-time when Jobe Wheelhouse’s searching cross-field pass released Joel Griffiths who pulled the ball back for Brazilian import Denni who scuffed the best chance of the period wide.
Glory were straight into attack upon the resumption of play with Rukavytsya volleying wide from Celeski’s delivery to the far post. However, the home side were almost caught out in the 56th minute when Joel Griffiths’ low cross was met by a sliding Mark Bridge who failed to keep his shot down. Rukavytsya was causing all sorts of problems for the Newcastle defence but, after driving into attack, the youngster was unable to find a way past Covic. Newcastle then wasted arguably the best chance of the game as Bridge lifted his shot high when the better option would have been to square to free team mates Joel Griffiths and Denni.
The close call woke up Glory who forced the visitors on to the back foot for the final quarter hour. Substitute Nick Rizzo caused the Newcastle defence plenty of problems down the left and in the 75th minute his cross flashed across the face of goal with neither Dragicevic nor Rukavytsya able to get a decisive touch on the ball. The game turned a little ragged as full-time approached and the home side was unable to capitalise on a series of corners. The last chance fell to Nikolai Topor-Stanley whose late effort was blocked by Jade North.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND EIGHTEEN (Sorrento v Inglewood United by Kerry Slater)
Floreat Athena remain on the cusp of their first championship in a decade after brushing aside nearest rival Cockburn City 2-0 in the top of the table clash at Dalmatinac Park. It took Floreat only 7 minutes to take the lead when Adam Bachillor’s cross wasn’t sufficiently dealt with by the defence allowing Garin Collins to lash the ball under goalkeeper Dino Pacella. Although stunned, Cockburn wasted little time in fashioning a response through Kamasz whose low shot was well saved by Vas Vujacic. The home side weren’t going down without a fight but Adam Surjan’s cross into the area was punched clear by the goalkeeper with several team mates lining up. Vas Vujacic was Cockburn’s foil again in the 28th minute when he tipped Aaron Dos Santos’ curling effort on to the post. Floreat almost snuck a second goal after Julian Madaschi’s long ball sent Paul Vatistas through on goal but Pacella was quick to narrow the angle and block the shot. The second half opened with a fierce low drive by Kamasz pushed wide by the diving ‘keeper. The corner was worked to Dom De Felice whose deep cross was nodded disappointingly high by Liam Lilly from 5-metres. In the 68th minute Ante Kovacevic launched a Floreat counterattack which gave Boima Karpeh a clear run on goal until Shane Nunes emerged from nowhere to apply a tremendous blocking tackle. The visitors lost captain Bajo Savic not long after to a knee injury suffered when contesting possession with Michael Mirco in the middle of the park. A well-crafted short corner routine saw substitute Miki Vujacic curl in a cross to Karpeh whose glancing header forced Pacella into a fabulous save from point blank range with Nunes clearing off the line. Floreat secured victory in the final minute when Pacella made a brilliantly parried a close-range volley by Karpeh who quickly latched onto the loose ball and turned Nunes before blasting into the net.
Perth S.C. moved back into second place courtesy of Andreas Oliviera’s double that saw off a brave Swan I.C. 3-1 at the Swan Italian Club. Robbie Puca made his presence known early with a blistering drive that forced a smart response from Daniel Agudelo who, minutes later, acrobatically tipped Antonio Naglieri’s long-range strike over the crossbar. Perth took the lead from the resulting corner as Naglieri’s header was brilliantly blocked by Agudelo who was helpless as the Oliveira fired in the follow-up at close-range. The traffic was one-way as Puca combined with Naglieri whose shot was cleared off the line by Aaron Cole. Swan flickered to life long enough for David Perich to chance his luck from distance but the shot didn’t trouble Gareth Deeg. Puca was running the show from midfield and on the half hour his long-range strike whistle just past the post. Agudelo made sure there would be no addition to the score before half-time with a fingertip save to deny Oliveira. Swan gave a better account of themselves after the break with Damien Catalano’s snap on goal pushed wide by Deeg. The teams were level in the 58th minute when referee Steve Muldoon awarded a penalty for Michael Ord’s infringement on Tom Shepheard, and Anthony McStea confidently stroked in from the spot. Dom Ando fired just wide as the home side sought to capitalise, then appeals for another penalty were dismissed when Michael Tronchin went down inside the 18-yard box under Todd Howarth. Perth’s response was to immediately race upfield where Costa Socratous delivered a pinpoint cross to the back post which Naglieri slotted past Agudelo with 66 minutes played. A couple more minutes went by before Naglieri turned supplier with a free-kick that Oliviera fired into the net by sneaking in between David McNally and Agudelo. Michael Icanovski could have added a fourth to Perth;s tally when sent clear by Oliviera but the defenders shot cannoned back of the bar.
Andy Brown’s second goal of the season earned Stirling Lions a 1-0 win against a strong-finishing Western Knights at Nash Field. A positive start from both teams may have produced some entertaining midfield tussle but in terms of chances on goal there were relatively few. In fact the first genuine opening didn’t arrive until the 25th minute when Phil Arnold headed wide from an Andy Brown. A few minutes later Boi unleashed a stinging shot from distance which was parried by Kevin Miller who thwarted Andy Brown at the follow-up. Andrija Jukic featured prominently for the home team and a neat one-two with Aaron Bahadori allowed the young attacker to rattle off a powerful shot which Phil Straker palmed away. Both teams lifted the tempo for the second half which was six minutes in when Phil Arnold’s long throw-in was flicked on by both Keith Brown and Richman to Andy Brown who tucked the ball in from close-range. Stirling were denied a second by Miller who tipped a looping Keith Brown header high, while Richman’s shot on the turn crashed into the crossbar. A terrific exchange between Scott Bushby and Jukic put the latter through but with Straker to beat he rolled his shot wide of the target. With the clock ticking down Ronnie Campbell brought teenagers Andrew Jennings, Anthony Skorich and Ivan Gavranich off the bench to spark new life in his side. The attack-minded trio had immediate impact and only minutes after his introduction Jennings was denied an equaliser by Straker. Not long after Jennings again got himself into position but this time blazed high when it seemed easier to hit the target. The Knights surged forward right up to the final whistle but a well disciplined Stirling side held out to register their tenth win of the winter.
E.C.U. Joondalup came back from a goal down to inflict a 4-2 defeat on Wanneroo City at Kingsway Reserve. The win stretched Joondalup’s unbeaten run to eight games and positions them well to complete the season with a top five placing. The visiting team dominated the early exchanges in which Tom Amphlett and Jon Higgins asserted their presence on the game. Wanneroo always looked threatening on the counter attack and in the 30th minute Craig Cheeseman charged out of midfield and from 18-metres unleashed a rocket that gave veteran goalkeeper Andy Petterson no chance. Although shaken, Joondalup kept their composure and ten minutes later Mark Lee equalised with a delightful chip over Jordan Conti following good work in the lead-up by teenager Howard Fondyke. Possession was evenly distributed throughout the remainder of the half but with no further addition to the scoreline the teams went into the break at one apiece. The second half commenced with Joondalup focused on getting the all-important next goal. Much of the visitors’ attacks stemmed from the left where Lee, Amphlett and Higgins were combining with terrific effect. A foul on Lee resulted in a Joondalup free-kick on the top corner of the 18-yard box which Marc Anthony clipped into the area for Ian McMurray to head into the net. The match looked to be settled when Fondyke put away his teams’ third from close-range in the 57th minute. However, Wanneroo were in no mood to surrender and three minutes later Craig Bowman breathed new life into the contest by bringing the gap back to a single goal. Victory was secured for Joondalup with just minutes remaining by debutant Cesar Meylan who fired in from close-range only minutes after coming off the bench.
Honours were shared at Percy Doyle Reserve where Sorrento and Inglewood United played out an uninspired scoreless draw. The visitors started brightly with Matt Wardle angling a low cross in from the left which flashed across the face of goal and past the far post much to Neil Young's relief. Unfortunately that would be the only clear cut opportunity fopr a good half hour as both teams lacked the creativity to break down the opposing defence. The crowd was awakened from their slumbers in the 36th minute when Dean Apelgren chased the ball down the right to deliver a sharp cross which Albert Osei-Tutu headed straight at Young. The Gulls goalkeeper immediately launched a counterattack that ended with a Cameron Yorke heading narrowly high of Oliver Taseski's crossbar. With this Sorrento sparked into life and not long after Todd Harnwell headed wide after meeting a Gary Lynn cross. A terrific cross-field pass by Glen Thomas put the ball at the feet of Chris Boyle whose shot was beyond the far post. Steve McDonald helped the ball on to Harnwell who was denied by a diving 'keeper. Inglewood almost grabbed a stoppage time lead through Michael Baczynski whose effort was stopped by Young. The next chance didn't presented itself until the 62nd minute when Young held a close-range strike by Kevin Griffiths. Nine minutes later Stuart Banks raced down the left to slip a pass through to Boyle who stepped inside his marker only to fire high. Sorrento almost brought about their own destruction when Yorke's attempted clearance ricocheted goalward off Osei-Tutu and only the sharp reflexes of Young kept the teams level. With twelve minutes remaining the home side went down a man as James Morgan received his marching orders for a second caution. But while Inglewood had the better of late possession the closest they came to snatching victory was through an Apelgren free-kick which crashed against the crossbar.
Fremantle Spirit's 1-0 win at Armadale was over-shadowed by a post-match scuffle that is sure to come under close investigation by Football West. Vas Kalogeracos’ first goal for the port side was all that separated the teams on a day when Fremantle had Tom Straker and Simon Elton-Bott red carded. Further details of this game were not forthcoming from either of the two participating clubs.
FIRST DIVISION, ROUND EIGHTEEN (Forrestfield United v Mandurah City courtesy Mandurah City; Rockingham City v Ashfield courtesy Ashfield; South West Phoenix v Canning City courtesy South West Phoenix)
Mandurah City recovered from being two-goal behind to defeat a young and enthusiastic Forrestfield United 5-2 at Hartfield Park. Forrestfield took advantage of sloppy defending at a corner to go ahead on 12th minute when Matt Harold poked the ball in from close-range. It looked as though an upset was on the cards when Craig Ruthven doubled the margin not long after. However, Mandurah forced their way back into the game and continually applied pressure to their opponents defence for little reward as Forrestfield maintained focus to take a handy two-goal buffer into the break. After a rousing half-time talk, Mandurah opened positively with Jeff Bright’s cross flicking on by Jordan Rhodes into the path of Jake Loreto who forced his way past the goalkeeper, and the ball into an unguarded net. The visitors produced an equaliser midway through the period when Christian Paschkewitz headed in after Michael Bobridges nodded down Scott Halpin’s long free-kick into the area. It was only in the final ten minutes that Mandurah ran away with the game by ramming in three goals without reply. Captain Andy Brown provided the ammunition for Jake Loreto and Bright to get on the scoresheet, while Graham Matthews’ cross in the closing minutes was turned in by Forrestfield defender.
Second-placed Ashfield accounted for cellar dweller Rockingham City 3-1 at Dowling Street Reserve. Slick passing by the visiting side gave them the advantage after 3 minutes as Rydeen Botha stroked in an Andy O’Neill cross to the far post. Ashfield deservedly increased their lead when good approach work by Julian Piromalli ended with a scorching 30-metre volley from Martin Kelly which beating the goalkeeper. The same pattern continued after the break as Rockingham continually found themselves chasing the ball but remained in the game as Ashfield failed to capitalise on their dominance. Martin Kelly squandered a guilt-edged opportunity from directly in front, and Botha forgot to stretch his leg with an open goal at his mercy. The home side were handed a lifeline in the form of a 80th minute penalty which Michael Vaz calmly slotted in to reduce the deficit. This re-energised Rockingham who stepped up the pace and went close to levelling on several occasions. But the game was put beyond their reach when Ashfield demonstrated their superiority and Micheal D’Silva scored their third of the afternoon with only a few minutes left on the clock.
South West Phoenix moved into third place after thrashing Canning City 4-0 at the Soccerdrome. All the early enterprise came from the visiting side who maintained possession for long periods and created several good chances which included Mick Van Dongen’s shot from 15-metres that hit the post. Phoenix hit the front completely against the run of play when Steve Suttie delivered a far post cross which David Murphy neatly laid back for Gary Mayers to tuck inside the bottom corner. Going a goal down certainly surprised Canning but they were far from disheartened as Daniel Trevisol, Ross Posthuma and Dave Mickler continually speared them into attack in search of what would have been a deserved equaliser. The second half was a completely different story with Phoenix piling on a trio of unanswered goals. Greg Hayes provided the ammunition in the 50th minute via a low ball through the area which Suttie turned in from 7-metres. The game was ended as a contest eight minutes later when Hayes delivered a cross to Mayers whose header rebounded off the crossbar and Suttie who made no mistake with the follow-up. The icing on the cake arrived with fifteen minutes to play as Ryan Risdon squirted a pass to Murphy who transferred possession to Suttie who brilliantly evaded his marker to fire in from 10-metres.
Dianella White Eagles were made to work hard for their 3-1 win against Queens Park at Coker Park. The visitors created the first good opportunity when Jon Greenwood played in Mladin Gligorski who cross was fired narrowly wide by captain Dragan Njegic. A golden chance to put Queens Park ahead went begging in the 25th minute when goalkeeper Pedro Pavez spilled the ball and debutant Carlos Jogee placed high from 5-metres. Both sides had further chances but good ‘keeping and the frame of the goal meant they’d go into the half-time break scoreless. Three minutes after the re-start Njegic opened their scoring by expertly turning his marker and crashing a superb shot inside the upright, giving ‘keeper Brendan Symonds no chance. A handball decision in the 63rd minute resulted in a Dianella penalty with which Greenwood send Symonds the wrong way to increase the difference. The game was ended as a contest twelve minutes later when Njegic unselfishly squared to Greenwood who tapped in his 27th goal of the campaign from 3-metres. Greenwood was unfortunate not to secure a hat-trick when played in behind the defence only to shoot wide. Queens Park earned a late consolation when awarded a spot kick of their own which captain Ian McKean sent into the bottom corner.
Bayswater City returned from Graham Burkett Reserve with all three points after out-shooting Balcatta 3-0 in a tight game. Rob Grant, Sal Marrapodi and Damir Kuduzovic were the scorers for Bayswater. Gosnells City extended their winning run to three games by toppling Morley Windmills 3-0 at Walter Padbury Reserve. Jim Capewell, Brian Cairney and Ian Maguire each found the net before Morley were reduced to ten men with the dismissal of Adrian McCann. Further details of these two games were not forthcoming from any of the four participating clubs.
SAGE UNIMPRESSED BY FFA
On the eve of the new season Perth Glory co-owner Tony Sage has lashed out at Football Federation Australia, accusing it of starving clubs of funds, mishandling the pre-season schedule and dragging out the Stan Lazaridis drug case. Sage is particularly out-raged by the treatment of Lazaridis, a veteran of four World Cup campaigns, who tested positive to a medicine used to treat baldness which, unfortunately, also contained the masking steroid finasteride.
The tribunal hearing into Lazaridis’ case, for a positive test returned last November, was held in March. “We still don’t know the outcome and the season is about to kick-off,” Sage said. “He is our marquee player and he still is not allowed to train with us. The FFA knew the medication he was on, as he had been using it in the Premier League in England for five years, but have not done anything once the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) tested him.”
A gruelling pre-season schedule in which Glory played five successive Cup games on the road was also of major concern to Sage. “We didn’t play one home game during the pre-season fixtures and how is that supposed to help us with building membership and home-game attendances?” said Sage, who took control of the club in March after a year under the control of FFA.
Sage was highly critical of the way FFA managed and marketed Glory through season 2006/07. “The FFA only spent $1.4m out of the $1.8m salary cap last year, so you have to wonder why the full amount wasn’t spent,” he pondered. “Also, they only sold three corporate boxes out at Members Equity Stadium last season and we have already sold 30 out of a possible 33 for the first game.”
There’s plenty of hard work ahead of Glory to counter balance the cost-cutting measures of last season. “There are a lot of costs we have had to outlay to get this club back to a professional level, including finding and hiring a CEO, fitness coach, full-time trainer and administrative personnel,” commented Sage, who is committed to Glory’s long-term success. “We have budgeted to lose $3.5m in the first two years and are hoping to get it back in years three, four and five.”
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
The www.footballwa.net Match of the Week is the top of the table clash between Cockburn City and Floreat Athena at Dalmatinac Park. The pair have sat at the top of the Premier League table since the opening round of competition and, with only a handful of games to be played, this meeting could well settle the title race. The equation is quite simple - anything other than a Cockburn tomorrow will effectively hand Floreat their first championship since now-coach Michael Roki spearheaded them to victory in 1997.
The fact Cockburn have not lost at home this year is certainly in their favour, however, last weeks stumble at Inglewood certainly did them no favours. Fresh in the memory for the home side will be the Cup win against Floreat last month, and should the likes of Josh Kamasz, Michael Mirco and Dom De Felice be firing on all cylinders they may just revive their titles hopes. Floreat are unbeaten in seventeen games, posses the league's tightest defence and, given even the slight opportunity, the likes of Adam Bachillor, Josip Magdic, Boima Karpeh will inflict maximum damage.
The ‘Spring in the Valley’ Cup is up for grabs when traditional rivals Swan I.C. and Perth S.C. square off at the Swan Italian Club. Western Knights and Stirling Lions can consolidate their place in the top four with victory at Nash Field. Relegation-bound Wanneroo City has a tough home game against an E.C.U. Joondalup side leader from midfield by star import Marc Anthony. Last years’ champions Sorrento will be out to restore some lost pride when they host Inglewood United in the northern suburbs. Alfred Skeet Oval hosts the match between ninth-placed Armadale and eighth-placed Fremantle Spirit.
Promotion to the top flight is a mere formality for Mandurah City who made the trip to Forrestfield United on Saturday. Even so, an Ashfield win at Rockingham City will keep the pressure on the leaders and keep them on track for a second successive second placing. Third place goes on the line when South West Phoenix welcome Canning City to the Soccerdrome in Bunbury. A strong last week has boosted the confidence of Gosnells City who host a Morley Windmills side aiming to re-establish themselves in the top four. Dianella White Eagles are tipped to take the points from their game at Queens Park. There’s little riding on the outcome of the mid-table clash between Balcatta and Bayswater City at Graham Burkett Reserve.
KOVACEVIC IS YOUR NO.1 DEFENDER
The readers of footballwa.net have installed Floreat Athena hard man Ante Kovacevic as the Premier League’s best defender. A former national league player, Kovacevic topped this weeks’ website poll by accumulating 22% of the vote to edge out E.C.U. Joondalup’s English import David Abel (20%). Liam Lilly (12%) of Cockburn City was a distant third and followed closely by Armadale’s Darryl Platten (11%) and Swan I.C. backman Aaron Cole (10%). Gianfranco Circati of Perth S.C. and Stirling Lions’ Darko Ilmanoski finished level with 9%, while Inglewood United’s Shane Pryce (7%) completed the field. 381 votes were cast in the week-long poll.
DJULBIC EXCITED ABOUT STEPPING ON TO NATIONAL STAGE
There’ll be several new faces in the Perth Glory line-up which takes on Newcastle United Jets this Sunday, but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone more excited than Dino Djulbic. The imposing centre-half will realise a dream eight years in the making when he steps on to Members Equity Stadium as a Glory player for the first time. “When I arrived in Australia eight years ago I immediately started to follow Glory,” said the defender. “I set myself to one day play for the club and this weekend it’ll become a reality - Sunday can’t come quick enough.”
Djulbic admits he’ll have a few butterflies running out of the tunnel for the first time but when that whistle blows it’ll be down to business. “The pre-season has been terrific to get a handle on the level you need to be to perform well. We have a terrific group of guys at the club and they have been very encouraging,” commented the 24-year old whose career started at Perth S.C. “This might be my first outing in the A-League but I’ll be just concentrating on my job of stopping the Jets strikers getting a good look at goal.”
There’ll be plenty of experience around Djulbic on Sunday. Fellow centre-half David Tarka set to return after missing the pre-season Cup final with a calf strain, while Jamie Coyne is no stranger to top level football having played over 70 times for Glory. Completing the back four this weekend is another new arrival in Nikolai Topor-Stanley who was part of the Olyroos side which drew with Iraq in mid-week.
Djulbic hopes the hometown supporters will flock in big numbers to Members Equity Stadium. In total there are a dozen new recruits in the Glory squad and Djulbic in confident the fans won’t be disappointed by the new-look team. “There will be some new faces out there for the fans to see in action and I can’t wait to play in front of a passionate home crowd,” he said. “We played all our matches away during the pre-season Cup and I know all the boys are determined to put on a show for the members and supporters when we kick-off the season.”
PRESSURE ON SMITH TO PRODUCE RESULTS
Ron Smith is all too well aware of the treacherous nature of coaching in Australia’s domestic competition. Of the eight coaches who attended yesterday’s A-League season launch in Sydney only two are survivors of the inaugural campaign just two years ago. And Smith knows the pressure will be on following a solid pre-season and the acquisition of several new players. “Eleven coaches have gone in two years,” he said. “You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that if you don’t do well, your job’s on the line.”
After ending past season in seventh place, Smith knows he must produce results in 2007/08 or risk the wrath of Glory’s new ownership team of Tony Sage, John Spence and Brett McKeon. “There’s nothing worse than knowing you might be out of work if you don’t win at the weekend,” he said of the pressure on all coaches. “It’s not a very nice feeling. If you lose a job you might not work again for three or four years. You could be off the coaching merry-go-round never to return.”
STATE TEAMS FOR NATIONALS FINALISED
Football West have announced the next batch of football champions to represent West Australia at the forthcoming National Talent Identification Championships. The week-long tournament, which takes place in Coffs Harbour between 29th September and 7th October, brings together Australia’s best young, up and coming players who’ll vie for selection in the national Under-17 team.
Garry Chandler, chief executive of Football West, is excited by the calibre of players who’ve been selected to wear the State’s black and gold strip. “The Championships represent a fantastic opportunity for the cream of young footballing talent to display their skills on a national stage,” said Chandler. “Both squads are extremely strong and I am confident they will do themselves and WA proud.”
The State Under-15 squad consists of Cameron Edwards, Ryan Edwards, Samuel Mitchinson, Alexander Pearson (Cockburn City), Julius Davies (Dianella White Eagles), Clayton Arnez, Eli Babalj, Milljon Butshiire, Jack Clisby, Emmanuel Linga, Joshua Risdon, Trent Sainsbury (National Training Centre), Sean Browne (Sorrento), Gratias Matunda, Zoran Vrteski (Stirling Lions) and Adam Bowers (Wanneroo City). On stand-by are Andrew Emsavana, Devon Gibson (Cockburn City), Jake Kenny (E.C.U. Joondalup), Nick Feely (Subiaco United), Tom Lawrence (Wanneroo City)
Representing the State at Under-14 level in Coffs Harbour are Terrance Conner, Hanafi Ghazali, Scott Mellish, Francis Soale, Blake Sokolovski (Cockburn City), Samuel Songpon (Dianella White Eagles), Bao Nguen (Inglewood United), Yosef Sisay Asefa (Maylands United), Rafael Accruso, Matthew Izzo, Jason Marsden (Perth S.C.), Storm Roux, Michael Stuart (Sorrento), Dylan Filicamo and Steven Walmsley (Stirling Lions).
OLYROOS DRAW WITH IRAQ
Australia commenced their final stage of qualifying for the 2008 Olympic Games by securing a valuable scoreless draw with Iraq. The national Under-23 side competed strongly throughout the match despite high humidity and temperatures hovering around 40 degrees in Doha, Qatar. The game didn't spark into life until the second half with Australia going close on several occasions. Claims for an Australian penalty were turned down after Bruce Djite was brought down as he attempted to round goalkeeper Mohammed Kadhum in the 72nd minute. David Williams' low shot forced a good save from the 'keeper, and Djite fired straight at Kadhum after bursting into the area. Iraq's best chance came in stoppage time when Nabeel Lafta's close-range effort was cleared on the line by Nikolai Topor-Stanley. Nick Ward played the opening 89 minutes before being replaced by fellow West Australian David Micevski. Tando Velaphi was an unused substitute.
Perth Glory co-owner Tony Sage has pledged his commitment to strengthening ties between the national league club and those from the local scene. Sage met with the presidents of seven Premier League clubs on Monday evening to discuss the importance of fostering links between Glory and the State League clubs in order to progress football in West Australia.
Barry Wood won’t play again this season after scans revealed torn cartilage in his right hip joint. The Perth S.C. striker requires an operation to correct the problem that has been complicated by a grade three tear to his thigh muscle which will delay surgery until mid-October. It’s a cruel setback for Wood whose scored ten league goals since overcoming a knee problem in pre-season.
Loyal servant of Swan I.C., Justin Hugo, has also been forced onto the sidelines by injury. The 31-year old is currently undergoing treatment for damaged knee ligaments suffered during his clubs recent home clash with Fremantle Spirit. Hugo is awaiting the results of scans on his knee to reveal whether he’ll be out of action for a month, or the remainder of the 2007 campaign.
Please contact ‘The Insider’ via email@example.com if you have any club news or gossip, transfer rumours or general scuttlebutt for inclusion in future editions of Short Passes.
Perth Glory co-owner Tony Sage has pledged his commitment to strengthening ties between the national league club and those from the local scene. Sage met with the presidents of seven Premier League clubs on Monday evening to discuss the importance of fostering links between Glory and the State League clubs in order to progress football in West Australia.
Barry Wood won’t play again this season after scans revealed torn cartilage in his right hip joint. The Perth S.C. striker requires an operation to correct the problem that has been complicated by a grade three tear to his thigh muscle which will delay surgery until mid-October. It’s a cruel setback for Wood whose scored ten league goals since overcoming a knee problem in pre-season.
Loyal servant of Swan I.C., Justin Hugo, has also been forced onto the sidelines by injury. The 31-year old is currently undergoing treatment for damaged knee ligaments suffered during his clubs recent home clash with Fremantle Spirit. Hugo is awaiting the results of scans on his knee to reveal whether he’ll be out of action for a month, or the remainder of the 2007 campaign.
Armadale have lost the services of import Neil Gawley. Irish Premier League outfit Glenavon have recalled the hard-working 21-year old as preparations for the coming season ramp up which commences in just over four weeks. Gawley made half a dozen appearances in midfield during his two month stay at Alfred Skeet Oval.
Please contact ‘The Insider’ via firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any club news or gossip, transfer rumours or general scuttlebutt for inclusion in future editions of Short Passes.
PLANS TO FURTHER DEVELOP MEMBERS EQUITY STADIUM DEAD
Plans for a modern rectangular stadium in Perth are officially dead with the State Government diverting the $25 million promised in 2004 to the proposed 60,000 seat multi-purpose arena. Department of Sport and Recreation chief Ron Alexander has reveal the money former Sports Minister Bob Kucera put aside for the upgrade Members Equity Stadium will now help foot the $800 million bill for the new facility. In return, football and rugby have gained significant concessions in the design of the stadium with 22,000 retractable seats along the sidelines and behind the goals in the rectangular configuration.
SCHOOLBOYS CLAIM BRONZE
The State Schoolboys have returned home from last weeks Schools National Championship in Darwin with a bronze medal. Damon Atthowe, coach of the Schoolboys, was thrilled with the way the team performed. "All the boys played fantastically and represented the State with honour and pride," he enthused. "We were in the running for second place right up until our second to last game against South Australia who ended up taking out the silver."
Goals by Anthony Fearon and Ryan Pretarious gave West Australia a dream start and a 2-0 victory over Victoria in their opening game. WA were unable to capitalise on their early dominance against New South Wales the following day to go down 1-5 with Fearon getting the solitary goal. It wasn't a result they dwelled long on as that evening WA rebounded by dumping Queensland 3-0 with Anthony Skorich scoring twice and Pretarious once.
Skorich (2), Rory Feely (2), Pretorius and Calum O'Connell found the net as the Northern Territory were humbled 6-0. South Australia scored late in each half to defeat WA 2-0 on Thursday afternoon, a result that pushed the silver medal out of reach for the boys from the west. WA cruised to a 5-1 win against the Australian Capital Territory in their final game of the week-long event.
The 2007 State Schoolboys squad consists of Andrew Harold, Kynon Melling (Forrestfield United), Ryan Pretorius (Fremantle Spirit), Calum O'Connell (E.C.U. Joondalup), James Sammut (Inglewood United), Kristoffer Dennis, Todd Ross, Kyle Stuart (Sorrento), Rory Feely (Stirling Lions), Nicholas Feely (Subiaco), Matthew Allen, Michael De Souza, Anthony Fearon, Josip Peran, Anthony Skorich and Craig Thompson (Western Knights).
CELESKI BUZZING TO GO
Billy Celeski is determined to invigorate his career after injury ruined his A-League bid last season. The 22-year old, who made 18 appearances in Perth Glory’s first A-League campaign, is buzzing after recovering from a hip operation that dented his hopes of playing for Glory last season. His patience and resolve have been rewarded and Celeski is ready to embrace the club’s distinguished No.10 shirt when the season kicks off next weekend.
Though Celeski was not signed as a replacement for Despotovski, who retired at the end of last season after 241 games and 113 goals for the club, the midfielder is ready to wear his old number with pride. “He’s been a great player for the club, if not the greatest, and it’s going to be a privilege to wear the number 10,” Celeski said. “Hopefully I can do a few of the things that he did.”
Celeski is certain he has returned to Glory a better player than he was in 2005/06, and he is convinced the club is heading into a more prosperous period after two seasons without finals action. “It’s so much better this time round,” he said. “There’s a lot more unity amongst the boys this year. I think it’s shown on the field. We’ve had a terrific pre-season and things are running smoothly.”
After four months on the sidelines and a dozen games for Bulleen in the Victorian Premier League, Celeski is in better shape than ever. “The injury setback gave me that hunger again,” he said. “I was out for so long and I was missing out on a lot of things. Not just the A-League, but the Olyroos stuff as well.” Celeski is one of six Glory players in the Olympic mix, although a minor adductor strain ruled him out of contention for Wednesday night’s qualifier against Iraq in Qatar.
‘NEVER SAY DIE’ ATTITUDE PLEASES JOONDALUP COACH
E.C.U. Joondalup coach Willie McNally was pleased with the way his side fought back to earn a 2-2 draw with Premier League pacesetter Floreat Athena on Saturday. The point maintained Joondalup’s unbeaten home record that now stretches to nine league outings in 2007. “I thought the first half they were definitely on top, half time we made a couple of changes and I thought second half we did really well,” said McNally.
An inability to convert chances into goals has denied Joondalup the opportunity to be amongst the leaders this year according to the coach. “That’s the story of our season - we create chance upon chance but just haven’t taken them. At the end of the day we took a point from this so we are quite happy,” McNally added. “If you look at the league table, you’ll find we have drawn a lot of games we should have won and that has cost us big time.”
As for many mid table teams, McNally is already focused on what improvements to make for season 2008 in order to challenge for top honours. “This is our first season (McNally and assistant Gerry McEwan) and we know now what we need to improve, we’ve got names and we are looking at people and we’ll see what happens. There’s a few younger players coming through and we think we are on the right track” explained McNally.
STATE FOOTBALL BACK ON THE AGENDA!
Football West have added the senior State team football to their calendar. The efforts of Western Australia’s best players will be recognised by donning the black and gold in both overseas and interstate competition. “This is a fantastic opportunity for our talented players, enabling us to forge greater ties within the game in Asia, further lift the profile of the game and also provides a flagship state based side for football in Western Australia,” said Garry Chandler, chief executive of Football West. The association are currently seeking expressions of interest from coaches with appropriate experience that hold a Football Federation Australia accreditation (or overseas equivalent).
MATILDAS STUN CHINA
Australia warmed up for next months’ World Cup finals by making a clean-sweep of the two-game friendly series with host nation China. The Matilda’s backed up Friday’s dramatic 3-2 win by triumphing 3-1 this evening in front of 52,000 spectators at Tianjin’s Olympic Center Stadium. “It is a great result and I am absolutely delighted with the performance of the team especially considering the difficult circumstances,” said coach Tom Sermanni after the second win. “The matches have been superb preparation on a number of levels and once again the depth amongst the squad has been proven to be significant.”
A goal seven minutes from the end by Sarah Walsh secured Australia a dramatic 3-2 win in the first game of the series. The Matildas stunned the home side with a couple of quick goals midway through the first half from Kate McShea and Lisa De Vanna. But the home nation rallied with Han Duan scoring a double within the space of ten minutes soon after the interval to level the score. The deciding goal arrived in the 83rd minutes when a deep corner from the left was headed back across goal by Kate Gill for Walsh to sweep the ball in at close-range. Katanning-born goalkeeper Lydia Williams and De Vanna both played the opening half of the friendly.
Australia ruined the public opening of the Olympic Center Stadium by downing China 3-1 in the second game. The Matildas though were not overawed by the occasion and went ahead after 12 minutes when Heather Garriock angled a low shot inside the near post after Joanne Burgess had been the provider. Caitlin Munoz doubled the advantage by tucking in the rebound after the goalkeeper parried Collette McCallum’s shot. McCallum took the margin to three goals with a solid finish at the back post after Cheryl Salisbury’s free kick eluded the defence on 51 minutes. China’s grabbed a last minute consolation through Pu Wei. McCallum played a full game, while De Vanna came off the bench after 74 minutes.
AMATEUR PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND SEVENTEEN
WA Maccabi have honoured Mo Caplin’s return to the held by defeating Lynwood Colts 3-0 at Maccabean Memorial Park. The change of coach had the desired effect on Maccabi who were unlucky not to go ahead in the 9th minute when Tino Bruzzeze shot narrowly high of the crossbar. The hosts reward for their early enterprise arrived in the 28th minute as a dangerous corner from Shane Fisher was headed powerfully past the goalkeeper by Johnny Hesselberg.
Tony Hunt had a great chance to level the game not long after when he out-jumped the defence only for the ‘keeper to keep the ball out. Bruzzeze beat the offside trap and fended off his marker but placed high from 13-metres. In the 45th minute an illegal tackle by Hunt on Stuart Gore resulted in a Maccabi penalty which Bruzzeze confidently sent past Rob Pucasti. The day then got worse for Lynwood who went down to ten men deep in stoppage time with Hunt collecting a second yellow card for dissent.
Bruzzeze went close to bagging his second eight minutes into the second half with a long-range strike which curled into the post with Pucasti motionless. Nathan Brown almost got Lynwood back in the game with a powerful drive which the ‘keeper tipped around the post. The points were made safe in the 75th minute when Tal Lahav delivered a cross to Bruzzeze who’d drifted away from his man to casually re-direct the ball past the ‘keeper from inside the box.
Shamrock Rovers defeated Stirling Panthers 3-1 to remain at the top of the Premier League table. Three points behind are Fremantle United who downed a resilient Spearwood Dalmatinac 2-1 at Dalmatinac Park. Hamersley Rovers were 4-2 too strong for Murdoch University, while Southern Spirit cruised to a 3-0 win at South Perth United. Subiaco United went down 0-2 on home soil Perth Azzurri, and Kingsway Olympic overcame CN Canning International 2-1. Bottom team Suburbs United scored just their fourth win of the campaign by outshooting University of WA 2-1.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND SEVENTEEN
Two goals in the last ten minutes earned E.C.U. Joondalup a 2-2 with Premier League leader Floreat Athena and preserved their unbeaten home record. It took Floreat only 9 minutes to claim the lead of a high intensity game through Branimir Mikulic who fired in from 11-metres after Josip Magdic flicked on a long throw-in. Joondalup's first opening came about through a Tommy Amphlett through ball which Ian McMurrary guided past oncoming goalkeeper Alex Dunn but sliced wide from a narrowing angle. A needless foul by David Abel on Boima Karpeh opened the door for John Migas to curl a delightful free-kick in from 23-metres and strengthen the visitors hold on proceedings in the 25th minute. Karpeh almost added to a third to the tally by meeting a superb Madgic cross which he nodded high from 5-metres. Joondalup weren't to be outdone and having spotted Dunn off his line McMurray's speculative shot from distance drifted over the 'keeper and agonizingly wide of the upright. The introduction of Mark Lee at the break breathed new life into the home team who desperately sought to reduce the deficit. A curling shot from outside the area by Marc Anthony found the top netting, and McMurray's glancing effort beat Dunn but not the defender camped on the line. Dunn tipped away Jon Higgins' cross from under the crossbar, and from the resulting corner neither Howard Fondyke nor McMurrary could find a way through a crowded goalmouth. With six minutes remaining Fondyke fed the ball to Craig Young who beat the offside trap and slotting under the advancing 'keeper. The game was levelled two minutes later when Lee rolled the ball across the top of the area to substitute Steve Baines whose first time strike flew over Dunn and under the bar much to the relief of the Joondalup supporters. Higgins almost snatched a dramatic winner when he shimmied past two opponents to go inside the area where he poked narrowly wide under pressure.
Inglewood United handed out a lesson in finishing to inflict a 3-0 defeat on Cockburn City at Clipsal Stadium. Not a lot went right for Cockburn who dominated the game for lengthy periods but failed to convert chances into goals. Swift movement of the ball allowed Cockburn to asserted their authority early, however, it wasn’t until the 16th minute that Adam Surjan called Oliver Taseski into action. Inglewood’s first venture into the 18-yard box three minutes later resulted in a penalty for Alan Dunlop’s sloppy challenge on Kevin Griffiths who, after dusting himself off, converted to give the home team an undeserved lead. This only further fired up Cockburn and Giovanni De Bartolo was denied the equaliser by a stunning reflex save from Taseski. Liam Lilly should have done better than head weakly at the ‘keeper from Dom De Felice’s deep corner, and a fierce strike by Surjan was prevented from finding the bottom corner by Danny Kovacevic. Inglewood sparked late in the half and Shane Nunes scramble a Griffiths’ shot off the line seven minutes from the break. Dean Wallace squandered a golden opportunity on the hour by heading high unchallenged with just the ‘keeper to beat. It was a miss that would haunt the visitors as two minutes later Albert Osei-Tutu latched on to Dean Apelgren’s pass and charged past his marker to angle across Dunlop and inside the far post. Cockburn’s day worsened on 71 minutes when referee Steven Gregory left all bewildered after issuing Johnny Mirco two yellow cards within moments of eachother. Inglewood capitalised and three minutes later Osei-Tutu brilliantly turned Mario De Felice and tucked in his second of the afternoon from 9-metres. Shortly after Michael Baczynski released Osei-Tutu who jinxed his way past the ‘keeper but was denied a hat-trick by Nunes’ superb blocking tackle and a goal line clearance by Paul Natale. Cockburn’s day was best summed up by a late glancing header from Michael Mirco which he angled just past the post.
Perth S.C. moved back into third place by defeating Sorrento 2-1 in a highly entertaining tussle at Dorrien Gardens. The game was only minutes old when Andreas Oliveira slipped the ball through the defence for Brendan Ross who remained cool as he slotted neatly past goalkeeper Neil Young. A rasping shot from the top edge of the 18-yard box by Gary Lynn crashed into the upright as Sorrento looked to restore parity. Robbie Puca made sure there was little respite for the visiting defence and from his position wide on the left laid the ball at the feet of Ross who shrugged off his marker only for Young to make the save. Not long after Chris Boyle surged down the left and picked out an unmarked Todd Harnwell who shot wide from the 15-metres. The Gulls waited just a few more minutes before drawing level when Jared Love's cross wasn't properly dealt with by Trent Kay and Harnwell slipped the ball in from 5-metres. The second half was a little less fluent but contained just as many chances as both teams went for the win. The deciding goal arrived in the 70th minute when Puca darted down the left and laid the ball back for Antonio Naglieri whose cross evaded the head of Stuart Banks and fell to Oliveira who skilfully angled his shot inside the post. Matt Danskin fired into the side netting after being played in behind the defence by Naglieri as Perth sought a third of the afternoon. Steve McDonald was pushed into attack as Sorrento chased the game but there would be few openings as Perth's backline of Michael Icanovski, Kay and Gianfranco Circati responded swiftly to any danger.
An under-strength Swan I.C. pulled off a major upset by belting Stirling Lions 4-1 at Macedonia Park. The black and whites went into the game without regular goalkeeper Corey Hugo and with David Foster and Brendan Knox nursing injuries on the bench. But that mattered little as Anthony McStea found the feet of Damien Catalano whose neat flick helped Tom Shepheard beat the last defender and fire past Phil Straker. David Perich was making his presence known in the middle of the park and on the quarter hour he fired high from 18-metres after a neat string of passes opened up the Stirling defence. The experience of Aaron Cole and Dom Ando came to the fore as Swan repelled their opponents ' forward thrusts. However, in the 26th minute the teams were brought level as Kevin Henderson powered the ball past Daniel Agudelo from a Keith Brown corner. Stirling looked set to seize the initiative as Ludovic Boi's rasping shot flashed past the upright. In the 35th minute Shepheard won possession in midfield to release debutant Michael Tronchin whose low delivery into the area was brilliantly tamed and dispatched into the net by Catalano. Tronchin was leading the charge down the right and not long after played through to Catalano who slipped the ball across the top of the 18-yard box for Perich to chip in goal number three. Damien Scali placed wide from Shephard's delivery as Swan looked to run away with the game after the re-start. Stirling flickered to life when Michael Pugliese got in a good position only to shoot wide on the hour. Ten minutes later Scali killed off the game by converting from the penalty spot after referee Troy Miller blew for Straker's trip on Catalano. The visitors were focused on adding to their tally but Catalano's lob drifted wide, and a terrific flying save by Straker thwarted Tronchin. Phil Arnold was denied a late consolation by Ando who cleared the young attackers' header off the line.
David Price's spectacular late strike snatched Western Knights a 1-0 win against Fremantle Spirit at the WA Spanish Club. The win strengthened the Knights claim for a top four placing in Ronnie Campbell's tenth season at the helm. Jason Barrera and Vas Kalogeracos both squandered guilt edged opportunities inside the first few minutes as the home team started full of running. Fremantle continued to probe forward as the game settled with Cisco Jorqueira, Simon Elton Bott and Dale Wingell providing much of the impetus. Kevin Miller ensured the teams remained level by denying Adrian McBride in the 22nd minute following a neat midfield exchange between Jorqueira and Barrera. McBride then turned provider for Kalogeracos whose angled shot beat Miller but came back off the far post. The Knights weren't without their chances as Andrija Jukic rifled a free-kick narrowly high of the crossbar, and Scott Bushby's low strike forced a sharp response from Steve Grant. The introduction of Callum Roberts had the desired effect on Fremantle who increased the tempo for the second half but, despite creating numerous opportunities, were unable to find an avenue to goal. McBride went closest to breaking the deadlock in the 71st minute with a curling shot which was agonisingly wide of the upright. The Knights flexed their muscle going into the closing stages and Grant was called upon to keep out efforts by substitute Stuart Montgomery and John Thornley. The game was settled with eleven minutes remaining when Montgomery received a contentious corner and laid the ball into the path of Price whose precision shot from 22-metres soared into the top corner. Resilient defending from Cormac Dawson and Jon Mathers ensured the Knights would go home with all three points to stay within touching distance of second place.
Wanneroo City will play next season in the First Division after going down 0-1 to Armadale at Kingsway Reserve. It was a cruel result for Wanneroo who dominated the afternoon's proceedings only to succumb to a late penalty converted by Adam Galvin. Armadale made a strong start with debutant striker Jerry Maguire twice forcing a response from goalkeeper Jordan Conti early on, while Ben Howe rifled wide after advancing on goal. But once the game settled it was Wanneroo that slowly gained the upper hand through the efforts of Ben Yates, Craig Cheeseman and Simon Woodward. The hosts were unlucky not to go ahead on 21 minutes when Carl Harrison smacked a shot into the post after receiving Woodward's through ball. Chances began opening up as Wanneroo increasingly asserted control over proceedings. Darryl Platten and Scott Paterson were working overtime in an Armadale defence under siege, while 17-year old 'keeper Alex Preece had his hands stung on a number of occasions. With the break approaching the visitors briefly sparked into life with Michael Bushby and Howe both shooting narrowly wide. The second half opened with Craig Bowman and Morgan Dendle firing wide as Wanneroo emerged determined to break the deadlock. The way forward was being lead by wide players Woodward and Harrison who piled on the pressure and kept Armadale pegged in their own defensive half. Cheeseman and Yates were denied by the 'keeper while the frame of the goal prevented David Houston from giving the hosts what would have been a deserved lead. The game was in stoppage time when Preece’s long clearance was collected by Michael Bushby only to be brought down while attempting to round Conti, referee Steve Muldoon had no option but to point to the spot from where Galvin tucked away the winner.
FIRST DIVISION, ROUND SEVENTEEN (Ashfield v Forrestfield United courtesy Football West; Morley Windmills v Queens Park courtesy Morley Windmills)
Mandurah City’s goal of gaining promotion to the top flight became another step closer when they defeated Balcatta 3-2 at Hyundai Stadium. Michael Bobridge went within inches of putting the hosts’ ahead inside the first minute only for his shot to come back off the post. The ball rebounded straight to mark Humphries who immediately launched a counterattack that was channelled through Adrian Caliero and ended with Christian Debarro firing Balcatta into the lead. This set the scene for an action packed contest in which both sides traded attacks right up to the final whistle. In the 12th minute Graeme Matthews was brought down inside the area by Humphries for a home penalty which Jordan Rhodes converted to bring the sides level. Ten minutes later Matthews added his name to the scoresheet after receiving a the ball from Bobridge. But Balcatta were having none of it and within minutes Caliero equalised by tucking the ball in from 6-metres after Ben Rogers’ initial shot struck the crossbar. The second half didn’t contain as many goals but still produced plenty of thrills and spills with both sides creating some great opportunities. Jake Loreto capped a memorable performance by bagging the decider with fifteen minutes remaining courtesy of another Bobridge assist.
Ashfield eased themselves to a 3-0 home win against Forrestfield United to remain seven points behind the First Division leaders. The visiting goalkeeper was called into action early by pushing high Andy O’Neill’s goalbound, but poor defending at the resulting corner allowed Martin Kelly to head in the opener from close-range. Teenage striker Trent Wood squandered a great chance to bring the teams level by heading over the crossbar from 2-metres after ‘keeper Kenny Ftynohiannis parried a long-range strike. The second half was three minutes old when Ashfield doubled their lead through Damien Todorovic whose pace took him into the area and around the ‘keeper to slot into the net. Todorovic had another good chance six minutes later when played in behind by Jason Van Rooy but with two defenders hot on his trail the attacker placed high. Forrestfield worked hard to stay in the game and through some stubborn defending limited Ashfield to only scattered shots throughout the half. The points were made safe in the 86th minute by substitute Jake Watson whose vicious low strike from outside the area found the gap between the ‘keeper and his near post.
Jon Greenwood smacked in four goals as Dianella White Eagles claimed the points against Rockingham City by a 5-3 scoreline. The home side came out firing on all cylinders and within 10 minutes had the lead through a Craig Wells corner which found Greenwood who had time to control and pick his place in the net from 5-metres. It didn’t take long for Greenwood to register his second of the afternoon with a diving header that took a deflection off a defender on its way into the net. With half-time just minutes away Wells slammed a free-kick into the defensive and the rebound came to Paul Hickey who unleashed a fierce strike that gave the goalkeeper no chance. The margin became four goals in the 49th minute when Greenwood took advantage of poor marking to complete his hat-trick with a neat header from Wells’ corner. Greenwood then capped off a fine personal display by cutting in from the right and slicing his way past a couple of defenders to knock in his fourth goal. With the result beyond doubt Dianella now eased off the pace to such as degree that Rockingham piled on three consolation goals through R.Hussey, K.Marwood and Michael Vaz.
Morley Windmills swept aside Queens Park 4-0 when they met at Wotton Reserve. The home fans became celebrations after 2 minutes when Seita Hamamoto turned his man on the edge of the 18-yard box and fired in a low shot which gave the goalkeeper no chance. A slick passing move down the left enabled Morley to doubled the margin in the 27th minute as Scott McIlroy threaded the ball to Remo McCann who laid it off for Adrian McCann to slot into the net. It was soon three-nil as Remo McCann sent McIlroy down the left from where he whipped a cross to the far post that Joe Woodin brilliantly controlled before pushing the ball between the posts. Good work by Paul Dundo saw him play down the right to Woodin whose cross was touched by the ‘keeper into the path of McIlroy who made no mistake from 9-metres. Morley were reduced to ten, then nine men as Remo McCann was issued two yellow cards in quick succession and Andy Bowyer was dismissed for foul play. Even so, the home team remained in control and debutant Mitchell Castrilli was denied their fifth by the ‘keeper who came out trumps in a one-on-one situation.
Gosnells City picked up their second win in as many week by upsetting South West Phoenix 3-0 at the Soccerdrome. Brian Cairney, D.Francis and Aaron Nadin got the goals to put Gosnells well clear of the drop zone and ensure their semi-professional status beyond this season. Further details of this game were not forthcoming from either of the participating clubs.
GLORYS’ SEASON HINGES ON EARLY SUCCESS
David Tarka has identified Perth Glory’s first seven matches of the new A-League season as the launching pad for a surprise attack on unsuspecting rivals. The defender believes Glory are primed to take advantage of the personnel changes made since the club slumped to second bottom in last season’s A-League campaign. “We’ve got a lot of players here who teams don’t even know about and it’s going to take them a while to work it out,” he said. “That’s going to work hugely in our favour. The first seven games of the season are going to make a big difference for us. That’s when we are going to catch teams off guard.”
The off-season recruitment of Croatian striker Mate Dragicevic, former Liverpool attacker Nick Rizzo, midfielder Mitchell Prentice and Olyroos defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley has given Glory a new look as well as an injection of optimism. Tarka declared Glory’s line-up as the best in the club’s A-League history, despite losing star recruit Hayden Foxe to a knee injury that will keep him out of action for at least eight weeks and the expected absence of former Socceroos winger Stan Lazaridis until at least November.
Glory have already given opponents a sneak preview of their improved stock in the run to the final of the pre-season Cup, where they lost 1-2 away at Adelaide. But Tarka is adamant there was even better to come. “We’ve set the standard now with pre-season and we don’t want to drop from that. All right, we lost to Adelaide but we were away from home five weeks on the bounce and we drew with them (1-1) earlier in the preseason,” he said. Glory kick-off their campaign against Newcastle Jets at Members Equity Stadium on Sunday 26th August.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
Floreat Athena faces a test of their title credentials when they travel north to take on E.C.U. Joondalup tomorrow. Michael Roki’s side are seven points ahead of their serious title threat, Cockburn City, and look to be only a matter of weeks from claiming the trophy. Ante Kovacevic anchors a formidable line-up which includes former State players Branimir Mikulic, Miki Vujacic and the leading highest goalscorer Boima Karpeh. However, Joondalup are yet to lose at home this year and certainly won’t be surrendering that record without a fight. Willie McNally has an abundance of talent to call on such as midfielders Marc Anthony, Tom Amphlett and Mark Lee as well as striker Ian McMurray.
The www.footballwa.net Match of the Week for Round Seventeen is the bottom of the table clash between Wanneroo City and Armadale at Kingsway Reserve. Wanneroo must take all three points to keep alive their slender hopes of avoiding relegation and will draw inspiration from their last home game that ended in victory against Swan I.C. Armadale are likely to be without as many as nine first team regulars for the clash due to injury and suspension leading Billy Russell to promote players from the youth ranks. When the sides met in Round Four the game ended in a scoreless draw - a result which you can be assured isn’t about to be repeated.
Former Perth Glory team mates Scott Miller and Bobby Despotovski come face to face as Cockburn City journey to Clipsal Stadium where Inglewood United are looking to cause upset. Perth S.C. will hope to put a run of poor results behind them when they welcome Sorrento to Dorrien Gardens. Stirling Lions take on Swan I.C. in a replay of last year’s Cup final at Macedonia Park. Fremantle Spirit have only won at home once his season and it’s unlikely that will change following Saturday’s visit by Western Knights.
Mandurah City welcome Balcatta to Peelwood Parade where a home win will edge Stuart Currie’s side a little closer to next years Premier League. Waiting to pounce should the leaders slip up are Ashfield who have home ground advantage against a Forrestfield United side that have performed poorly on the road this year. Gosnells City, who shocked Canning City last weekend, make the long trip to Bunbury where they meet South West Phoenix who are riding high in fourth place. Morley Windmills can arrest their slide down the table when they host Queens Park. Dianella Whites Eagles are widely expected to comfortably win at home against cellar dweller Rockingham City.
MEDAL WITHIN SCHOOLBOYS REACH
The State Schoolboys have put themselves in the frame for a medal at the Schools National Championship being played in Darwin this week. At the completion of match day four West Australia are placed fourth, one point behind Queensland who meet an unbeaten New South Wales in the final round of games. WA can leapfrog themselves into third place, and claim the bronze medal, with victory against the Australian Capital Territory.
Coach Damon Atthowe has been thrilled with the way the team has performed. "All the boys have been playing fantastically and - touch wood - we'll be coming home with a medal," he enthused. "I think our decision to stay in serviced apartments rather than be billeted out is making a big difference as it's strengthening team unity and allowing us to better manage the minor injuries we've picked up. In all honesty I'd be surprised if at least three of our boys don't get named in the national team at the end of the tournament."
Goals by Anthony Fearon and Ryan Pretarious gave West Australia a dream start and a 2-0 victory over Victoria in their opening game. WA were unable to capitalise on their early dominance against New South Wales the following day to go down 1-5 with Fearon getting the solitary goal. It wasn't a result they dwelled long on as that evening WA rebounded by dumping Queensland 3-0 with Anthony Skorich scoring twice and Pretarious once.
Skorich (2), Rory Feely (2), Pretorius and Calum O'Connell found the net as the Northern Territory were humbled 6-0. South Australia scored late in each half to defeat WA 2-0 on Thursday afternoon, a result which pushed the silver medal out of reach for the boys from the west. WA's final game of the tournament pits them against the Australian Capital Territory today who've won once from five starts.
The 2007 State Schoolboys squad consists of Andrew Harold, Kynon Melling (Forrestfield United), Ryan Pretorius (Fremantle Spirit), Calum O'Connell (E.C.U. Joondalup), James Sammut (Inglewood United), Kristoffer Dennis, Todd Ross, Kyle Stuart (Sorrento), Rory Feely (Stirling Lions), Nicholas Feely (Subiaco), Matthew Allen, Michael De Souza, Anthony Fearon, Josip Peran, Anthony Skorich and Craig Thompson (Western Knights).
COACHING TEAM AN INSPIRATION SAYS JOONDALUP'S MCMURRAY
Willie McNally and Gerry McEwan have every reason to be pleased with their first season in the helm of E.C.U. Joondalup. The 'Super Mac' combination have taken the club's traditional strengths and have blended in further layers of texture to lead the club to a whole new level of professional by according to striker Ian McMurray. "Willie and Gerry have instilled in the side a strong work ethic and that in turn has further developed team spirit," explained McMurray. "Some good signings have added to our depth, and with some quality young players coming through things are looking good for the club."
Joondalup’s coaching staff set the bar very high when they joined the club last October and the player group has responded accordingly. "Willie and Gerry are very professional in their outlook towards training and games and I believe this had rubbed off on the players, " McMurray added. "They compliment each other and both look for ways to better each other, and the team as a whole. I understand they have been installed as the management team for next season and I'm excited to be part of Joondalup at this time."
The impact of imports Marc Anthony, Craig Young and David Abel has been significant on Joondalup this year. "Marc, Youngie and Dave are great assets to the club and all bring something unique to the team," said McMurray. "Marc's creativity and eye for goal makes him a handful for any team. Youngie is just terrific in midfield, he runs all day, is great defensively and is always a threat up front. And big Dave is solid in defence, wins everything in the air and has been a consistent performer for us."
McMurray has also been impressed by the talent coming up through the ranks at Joondalup. "Lads like Tom Amphlett, Jason Mirco and Howard Fondyke have done really well for us, and there are a host of others just waiting for their chance," he said. "The talent coming through is great to see and the boys are a credit to the youth policy in place at Joondalup. In the next couple of seasons these players are going to be very important for the club."
A lack of general consistency has, unfortunately, prevented Joondalup from challenging for top honours this year. Even so, they are well placed with only half a dozen games remaining and remain on course to finish amongst the leading pack. "There have been too many games where we have either failed to kill teams off, or have made mistakes and created ourselves a mountain to climb," commented McMurray. "However, there's only four points between us and third place so we've still got a lot to play for."
A double in last weekend's six-goal thrashing of Armadale took McMurray's season tally to seven goals, and while that makes him Joondalup's leading goalscorer the towering forward would like to go well past last seasons' haul of eight. "I would be a lot happier if I had a few more goals next to my name and I'll be doing my best to improve on this during our last six games," he said. "In general, I've been reasonably happy with our season as we've been playing well as a team and have been improving as the year has gone by."
This weekend Joondalup have a home date with league leader Floreat Athena who McMurray is looking forward to playing. "The fact Floreat are unbeaten really speaks volumes," he said. "They have quality all over the park - a strong defence, a dangerous midfield and up front they have the top goalscorer in the league. They've not yet won the league and we're pushing for a top three spot so it should be a hard fought entertaining game, and all the boys have a big 'welcome back' for Garin Collins."
PLAYERS DESERVE STATE RECOGNITION SAYS SIMMONS
Respected coach Paul Simmons has called on Football West to add the senior State team to the football calendar. Simmons, currently assistant coach at Stirling Lions, says the ultimate honour for a player is to have your abilities recognised at representative level. "It's very important to have something to aim for as a player and to get selected to represent your State is a tremendous honour and privilege," he said.
West Australia often ventured abroad, and tasted a fair degree of success, during the 1970's and 1980's and Simmons sees a return to Asia as the way forward. "The State team should be re-formed and efforts concentrated on taking them to South East Asia to play games," he said. "Football is huge over there and has the potential to attract sponsors and interest throughout the region."
It's been close to four years since Simmons last assembled the senior State team for friendlies against the Iraq national team and Perth Glory. "The last time the lads got together was for the World Peace Game against Iraq in late 2003," Simmons said. "At the time Iraq was ranked 42nd in the world and they beat us 1-0 at Arena Joondalup, and 4-0 in Albany. And as far as I know I'm probably still the State coach as I haven't been told otherwise."
MICEVSKI EARNS OLYROO CALL-UP
Perth Glory midfielder David Micevski has been drafted into the Australian Under-23 squad for next weeks Olympic Games qualifier against Iraq. Micevski joins team mates Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Tando Velaphi in the twenty-man squad which also includes former Glory player Nick Ward, currently under contract to English club Queens Park Rangers. Australia play Iraq, DPR (North) Korea and Lebanon in the third and final round of Olympic qualifiers with only the group winner progressing on to Beijing next year.
The Australian Under-23 squad to meet Iraq is Nathan Burns, Bruce Djite (Adelaide United), Neil Kilkenny (Birmingham City), David Williams (Brondby), Bradley Porter, Danny Vukovic (Central Coast Mariners), Aaron Downes (Chesterfield), Adrian Leijer (Fulham), Trent McClenahan (Hereford United), Troy Hearfield, Stuart Musialik (Newcastle Jets), Matthew Spiranovic, Dario Vidosic (Nuremberg), Nick Ward (Queens Park Rangers), David Micevski, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Tando Velaphi (Perth Glory), Ruben Zadkovich (Sydney FC), Ersan Gulum (Vestel Manisaspor) and Steven O’Dor (Wellington Phoenix).
ON THIS DAY … 1991
An incredible twenty players from Perth Italia were called up for State junior duty on this day in 1991. Heading the list were Tony Carbone, Vas Kalogeracos, John Costa, Marc Wingell, Pasquale D'Ortona, Vince Matassa, Tony Giangiulio and Adrian Biundo who were named in the State Youth team to play in the national championships in Sydney. At the time the squad was announced Carbone and Kalogeracos were in Italy preparing for Australia’s Under-17 World Cup finals campaign.
The sextet of Joe Marrapodi, Luke Colletti, Ronan Crowley, Robert Passeretto, Bobby Lione and goalkeeper Chris Ball were included in the State Under-15 squad for the national titles in Adelaide starting late September. And John Carbone, Sebastian Naglieri, Dario Di Cesare, Peter Coci, Dino Pacella and Pasquale D'Ortona were amongst those included in the State Under-14 squad for the following months nationals in Canberra.
The State Under-14 squad consisted of John Carbone, Peter Coci, Dean Condron, Dario Di Cesare, Pasquale D'Ortona, Sam Doxbury, Paul Hickey, Tim Hutchens, Kevin Griffiths, Michael Lagana, Nathan Lovell, Michael Mirco, Steven Migas, Sebastian Naglieri, Dino Pacella, Robert Rajcinoski and Dario Sorbello.
Strutting their stuff for the State Under-15’s were Richard Antones, Chris Ball, Stuart Banks, Andrew Bowyer, Luke Colletti, Ronan Crowley, Simon Hagland, Eric Lembo, Robert Lione, Joe Marrapodi, Robert Passeretto, Michael Petkovic, Miguel Robles, Luke Slawomirski, Tony Struojevic and Peter Tzavelas,.
The State Youth squad was made up of Kyle Bird, Adrian Biundo, Paul Blakeley, Tony Carbone, John Costa, Craig Deans, Leon Dauzacker, David Dunseath, Tony Giangiulio, Vas Kalogeracos, Vince Matassa, Jonathan Mees, Hugh Miller, Michael Riley, Richard Watson and Marc Wingell.
Floreat Athena are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Argentine-born defensive midfielder Victor Rafael Insaurralde. The 28-year old is due to touch down in Perth on Friday and will see out the local season with Floreat who registered the player earlier in the year. Insaurralde played seven years in Argentina's second tier competition, the Primera B Nacional, and spent last season with Malaysian Pro-League side Johor.
It’ll be all hands on deck for Armadale who go into Saturday’s game at Wanneroo City missing at least nine regulars starters. Goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock is overseas, Jason Goodwin and Matt Bennion are suspended while injury has claimed veteran pair Dusan Macara and Scott Devine along with Darren Kingston, Marlon Ramirez, Simon El Chami and Steven Skilandis.
Swan I.C. is planning a major upgrade of facilities at Francis Street next year. At a club meeting last week, players, coaches, supporters and committee members discussed the ambitious plans which include new changing rooms, a gymnasium and lecture theatre along with a new training ground adjacent to the clubrooms.
The National Training Centre is through to the last four of the Youth Cup after defeating Inglewood United 4-2 under lights at Clipsal Stadium tonight. Eli Babalj scored twice with Liam Harvey and Milljon Butshiire also on the scoresheet to book the NTC a semi-final date with Stirling Lions on 15th September. Brendan Craig and Seb DeCotter were the scorers for Inglewood who had Rory Hollingham send off with seven minutes remaining.
Teenage striker Ricky Simpson has been invited for trials with English League One outfit Brighton and Hove Albion. Simpson has progressed up through the ranks of First Division club Queens Park to become an established member of the first team. The hot-shot striker is Queens Park’s leading scorer this season with eight goals.
All is on course for Rockingham City to move into their new home at Lark Hill in time for next season. The multi-million dollar facility features a high quality playing surface, floodlights, a spacious grandstand and clubrooms. Rockingham will farewell Dowling Street Reserve, their home of the past 37 years, when they host Forrestfield United on the final day of the First Division season.
Please contact ‘The Insider’ via email@example.com if you have any club news or gossip, transfer rumours or general scuttlebutt for inclusion in future editions of Short Passes.
RUKAVYTSYA A CHANCE FOR OLYMPICS
Perth Glory striker Nikita Rukavytsya could be a late bolter for Australia’s Olympic Games campaign as officials investigate his eligibility to play in the qualification tournament. Although his inclusion in the under-23 squad would a Glory side already bracing for the regular absence of goalkeeper Tando Velaphi and defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley, it would be a significant personal achievement for Rukavytsya.
The Ukraine-born forward has lived in Australia for six years and is committed to his adopted country. But there is some confusion over whether he is eligible to play in Australia’s current Olympic campaign after regulations prevented his inclusion in the recent under-20 world championship qualifiers. Asian Football Confederation rules sate players must have been a citizen of their country for a minimum of two years, however, Rukavytsya has held an Australian passport for only 18 months.
Football Federation Australia officials believe Rukavytsya should be entitled to take part in the Olympic qualifiers because although they will take place in the Asian region, the tournament come under the authority of FIFA. The world governing body say only that a player must be a citizen of the country he is to represent and that he has not previously played for any other nation at senior level. FFA’s head of high performance John Boultbee confirmed he has been looking into the matter and was hopeful of a resolution in the near future.
If Australia was to qualify for next year’s Beijing Games, Rukavytsya would be free to play in the FIFA controlled event. Australia’s under-23 A-league players will miss a number of games during the early stage of the season because of Olympic qualifiers against Iraq, North Korea and Lebanon, which will be completed by November. Velaphi and Topor-Stanley will miss vital preparation for Glory’s first game of the new season as the Olyroos play Iraq in Qatar next Wednesday. They return to Perth two days before the season opener against Newcastle United on Saturday 26th August at members Equity Stadium.
SMITH UNHAPPY WITH CUP SCHEDULE
Ron Smith fired a broadside at Football Federation Australia over their planning of Perth Glory’s horrendous pre-season schedule. Speaking after yesterday’s the pre-season Cup final loss to Adelaide United, the Glory boss said a gruelling schedule which took his side to Darwin and twice to each of New South Wales and Adelaide had taken its’ toll. “I’m not looking at that as any excuse but it’s had a detrimental effect on our last five weeks of preparation,” he commented. “We lose two days a week just in travelling and the fatigue factor eventually catches up with you.”
BIRIGHITTI MAKES AUSTRALIAN DEBUT
Mark Birighitti is the latest West Australian goalkeeper to step into the international arena. The 16-year old shot-stopper, a product of Perth S.C. and currently part of the National Training Centre, was between the posts for Australia’s opening two games of the Toyota International Youth Football Championship in Japan last week. The national youth team claimed fifth place at the event which was the first step on the long road towards qualification for the 2009 FIFA Under-17 World Cup.
Australia warmed up for the Championship by defeating a Combined Japanese High Schools team 4-3 on penalties after regulation time deadlocked at ended 0-0. Three goals in the final twenty minutes coupled with the dismissal of Fabio DiLizia saw the Joeys go down 0-3 to a Japanese team a year their older in the first group fixture. And the scoreline was the same a couple of days later when Australia lost to the United States. The Joeys finished the tournament in fifth place after defeating the Korean Republic 3-0 courtesy of goals by DiLizia, Kamal Ibraham and Marc Warren.
The Australian squad for the trip to Japan featured Chris Bush, Stephen Domenici, Danai Gapare (Australian Capital Territory Academy of Sport), Brendan Hamill, Jared Lum, Nikola Stanojevic, Marc Warren (New South Wales Institute of Sport), Benjamin Kantarovski (Northern New South Wales Institute of Sport), Nicholas Tubbs (Queensland Academy of Sport), Joseph Costa, Joel Miller (South Australian Sports Institute), Anthony Bran, Fabio DiLizia, Petar Franjic, Kamal Ibrahim, Bailey Wright, Teddy Yabio (Victorian Institute of Sport) and Mark Birighitti (WA National Training Centre).
GLORY FALL AT FINAL HURDLE TO ADELAIDE
Adelaide United have come from behind to defeat Perth Glory 2-1 in an enthralling pre-season Cup final at Hindmarsh Stadium. Playing their fifth consecutive match away from home, and with defenders Hayden Foxe and David Tarka missing through injury, Glory played their hearts out but fell agonisingly short of claiming their first piece of silverware as an A-League club. “The lads put everything they had into the match and that’s all you can ask of them,” commented coach Ron Smith. “You couldn’t question their commitment at any stage today.”
A cautious start by both sides was punctuated by early half chances to Robert Cornthwaite and Richie Alagich as Adelaide looked to take an early lead. Glory’s first opening arrived midway through the period when Anthony Danze sailed a shot well high of the crossbar. But otherwise there was little to excite the crowd as play remained bogged down in the middle of the park where the teams struggled to assert any for control. But just when it looked like the half would end scoreless, Leo Bertos cross evaded all inside the 18-yard box to sneak in at the back post.
Adelaide came out all guns ablaze for the second period and on the 66 minutes the teams were level after Jason Spagnuolo turned the ball over in midfield and passed to Cassio whose cross was pushed in at close-range by Bruce Djite. The goal changed the momentum of the game with Adelaide peppering the goal in search of a winner. With seven minutes left Cassio turned his marked on top of the 18-yard box before sending his shot into the bottom corner, albeit with the aid of a deflection from a defender.
While disappointed not to get the result, Smith was enthusiastic about his teams’ form heading into the season proper. “There have been many encouraging signs throughout our pre-season campaign,” he said. “We all know there is plenty of hard work ahead and areas in which we can improve but the lads deserve a pat on the back for their efforts so far. I know they’ll use this result to spur them on and we’re all very much looking forward to playing at home and putting in a big performance in front of our members and supporters in round one.”
AMATEUR PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND SIXTEEN (Fremantle United vs WA Maccabi courtesy Football West)
Felim Rugel struck an amazing seven goals as Fremantle United annihilated WA Maccabi 10-0 at Hilton Park. The home team opened their account after 19 minutes when David Onoforo’s cross was put away by Marco Ricciardi. Onoforo doubled the margin six minutes later when he converted from 8-metres after being found unmarked by a team mate. Fremantle’s domination continued as Joe Gentile played Rugel in to execute a precision chip over the advancing goalkeeper. The absence of several key players was having a clear effect of Maccabi who had little in the way of a response as Fremantle piled on the pressure. The visitors defence was sliced open for a fourth time just before the interval as Rugel was again played through to fire past the ‘keeper.
The second half was seven minutes old when Rugel completed his hat-trick by beat the offside trap to coolly slot into the net. Rugel scored again just two minutes later with a superb chip into the top corner. Jon De Felice provided the ammunition for Rugel’s fifth on 61 minutes, and another twelve minutes later he headed in Onoforo’s delivery. Onoforo marked his last game of the season by unleashing a fierce shot past the ‘keeper to make it nine-nil. The final say was had by Rugel who, with nine minutes left, put away his 27th goal of the season after Onoforo lured the defence away from his team mate. Lahav had a good opportunity to grab a late consolation for Maccabi but his tame shot under pressure didn’t trouble the ‘keeper.
Amateur Premier League leader Shamrock Rovers were surprisingly held 1-1 at home by lowly South Perth United. Lynwood Colts enjoyed a 3-0 home win against Subiaco United, while Murdoch University got the better of Kingsway Olympic by 2-1. Suburbs United went down 2-5 at home to Spearwood Dalmatinac, and Southern Spirit were too strong for Hamersley Rovers by 4-0. Perth Azzurri were edged out 1-2 by University of WA, and CN Canning International defeated Stirling Panthers 2-1.
MATILDA’S WALTZ PAST TAIWAN
The Australian women’s team thumped Chinese Taipei 7-0 in their final home match prior to next month’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in China. The Matilda’s dominated the match, played in Coffs Harbour, from the outset by posting their first goal after just 3 minutes. Caitlin Munoz led the way with a hat-trick while Sarah Walsh, Heather Garriock, Joanne Peters and substitute Kate Gill also found the net. West Australian striker Lisa DeVanna came off the bench on 67 minutes. The result confirmed Australia finished second in Group B of the Asian qualifying group for next years’ Olympic Games. Asia’s top ranked team DPR Korea claimed the only qualification berth in the group.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND SIXTEEN (Sorrento v Stirling Lions by Don Evans)
Floreat Athena remains on course for regular season honours after overpowering Inglewood United 2-1 in front of a good-sized crowd at Litis Stadium. The home team displayed great character and resilience by playing with ten men for the final half hour as a result of Vas Vujacic’s dismissal by match official Ton Klaver. The game burst into life on 10 minutes when Boima Karpeh brilliantly weaved his way past a couple of defenders on his way into the 18-yard box before drilling an angled shot past Oliver Taseski and into the net via the upright. Inglewood responded through Kevin Griffiths whose long-range strike fizzed just past the post. Shaun Kilkelly breathed a sigh of relief on 16 minutes when Karpeh’s clever back heel looped off the defenders’ boot and onto the crossbar. Floreat should have gone into the break another goal to the good after Paul Vatistas played a delightful curling pass into the path of James Isaia who lift his effort high after expertly rounding a defender. John Migas opened up the defence with a barnstorming run in which he combine with Karpeh, but Taseski was alert to the danger and deflected the defenders’ shot wide after narrowing the angle. With 59 minutes elapsed Albert Osei-Tutu was brought down inside the area by Vas Vujacic, who was duly red carded, and from the spot Daniel Niederberger sent replacement ‘keeper Alex Dunn the wrong way to tie up the game. But there’s a good reason Floreat are on top of the table and only minutes later Magdic delivered an exquisite cross to Mikulic whose crisp volley from close-range gave Taseski no chance. Karpeh was a continual danger on the counterattack and on one occasion went around three opponents only to poke the ball just wide. Inglewood piled on the pressure in an attempt to snatch a point, however, Floreat stood firm to move one step closer to the championship they deserve.
Johnny Mirco scored twice as Cockburn City accounted for Perth S.C. 3-1 in a pulsating encounter at Dalmatinac Park. A frenetic opening had Perth on the attack straight from kick-off and only a desperate save by Alan Dunlop prevented Antonio Naglieri an early goal. However, the home team drew first blood as Mirco orchestrated a swift move down the left and Aaron Dos Santos' shot from just outside the 18-yard box found the net after 5 minutes. Going a goal down didn't change Perth's game plan and an Andreas Oliviera shot was deflected out for a corner, while Matt Danskin's low cross was just beyond the reach of both Naglieri and Brendon Ross. Cockburn gained a soft penalty on the half hour when Giovanni Di Bartolo went down under the challenge of Micheal Icanovski, and from the spot Mirco increased the difference. Liam Lilly moved sharply to thwart Oliveira after he was sent through on goal, and just before the break Robbie Puca's scorching shot skimmed the outisde of the post as Perth sought to reel in the deficit. The day went from bad to worse for the visitors on 55 minutes with Michael Ord harshly issued his second yellow card after clashing with Dom De Felice. Perth clawed their way back into the game with fifteen minutes remaining when Naglieri released Ross who tucked the ball away at the second opportunity after Dunlop blocked his initial shot. The Cockburn goalkeeper prevented Icanovski from levelling the game by touching his close-range effort, from a Todd Howarth free-kick, on to the post. De Bartolo could have wrapped up the game shortly after but blazed wide from 15-metres after being sent clear by Mirco. With five minutes left Dom De Felice turned the ball over in midfield and threaded a pass to Mirco whose delightful chip over Gareth Deeg to put the result beyond doubt.
Two goals from each Kevin Henderson and Dannie Richman earned Stirling Lions a convincing 4-2 victory against Sorrento at Percy Doyle Reserve. A lack of quality finishing denied Sorrento an early lead before Stirling seized control and Steve Porter and Alan Muir made a lasting impression on the game. Arnold threaded a fine pass to Richman whose explosive shot was palmed away by Neil Young. Muir played the resulting corner to the near post where Andy Brown flicked it into the path of Henderson who calmly put away the opening goal after 11 minutes. There was little respite for the home team as shortly after Arnold left three opponents in his wake before unleashing a scorching shot that slammed into the crossbar. Muir’s piercing pass down the right released Andy Brown who delivered a precise cross which Richman cleverly flicked into the net without breaking stride after 23 minutes. Poor marking lead to the gap becoming three goals just nine minutes later when Arnold’s long throw-in was looped over the advancing ‘keeper by Henderson. Sorrento’s best opening of the period came shortly before half-time when Todd Harnwell drove in attack only to be denied by the feet of goalkeeper Phil Straker. Glen Thomas and Jared Love worked tirelessly after the break to bring the home team into the game. Straker had his reflexes tested when Thomas’ shot ricocheted off a defender and looked to be going in before the Stirling ‘keeper thrust out a glove. Stirling got their fourth goal on 75 minutes when Andy Brown jinxed his way past a couple of defenders and laid the ball off to Richman who rifled past Young. Steve McDonald pulled one back in the 88th minute by heading in a superb cross from Gary Lynn. A minute later Lynn brought some respectability to the scoreline by converting from the spot following Chris Rutherford’s infringement on Harnwell.
Scott Bushby was the three-goal hero in Western Knights 6-2 defeat of Wanneroo City at Nash Field. Attacking football was the name of the game as both sides opened full of confidence. John Thornley fired high when well placed after 5 minutes and not long after Craig Cheeseman did likewise at the opposite end of the park. The breakthrough came on 14 minutes when goalkeeper Kevin Miller lost his footing while collecting a ball played to the top of the 18-yard box to present Ben Yates with an easy conversion. This fired up the home team and ten minutes later Bushby opened his account by rifling across Jordan Conti and inside the far post after turning his marker. A couple more minutes went by before Knights captain Paul Cooke hooked the ball into the net following a goalmouth scramble. With half-time looming Bushby widened the gap by putting away the loose ball after Aaron Badahori's long-range effort hit the post. The second half opened positively for Wanneroo as Craig Bowman and Morgan Dendle each got in good positions but neither forced a response from Miller. Ten minutes after the restart Thornley added his name to the scoresheet by firing in from 9-metres after clever work in the lead-up by Andrew Jennings. The visitors kept plugging away and were rewarded when Peter Vukmirovic’s long ball forward caught the Knights off-guard and Dendle was afforded time and space to pick his spot from 10-metres. But there would be no dream comeback for the northerners as Bushby made his way past three opponents before drilling low past Conti from the top of the 18-yard box. The games’ eighth and final goal came when Andrjia Jukic won possession in midfield and picked out substitute Stuart Montgomery who shrugged off his man to fire in from 16-metres.
Marc Anthony played the leading role in E.C.U. Joondalup's 6-0 demolition of Armadale at Alfred Skeet Reserve. Anthony, a former youth team player at Glasgow Celtic, scored twice and had a hand in the remaining four goals to keep Joondalup in the hunt for a top five finish. Armadale's miserable day out was compounded by second half red cards to Matt Benion and Jason Goodwin. Joondalup made their intentions clear from the outset as Jon Higgins and Tommy Amphlett blazed wide early on. Their enterprise was rewarded on 18 minutes when Anthony's wonderful curling free-kick was beyond the reach of young goalkeeper Matt Johnson and into the top corner. The home team were finding it difficult to break down a solid defensive line led by David Abel, and their only chance of the period came the way of Ben Howe whose powerful drive from 15-metres rattled the frame of the goal. Minutes out from half-time Anthony unleashed a cracking shot from distance which Johnson pushed onto the crossbar and the rebound fell kindly for Craig Young to tap in at close-range. On 52 minutes Anthony charged into attack and cut the ball back to Amphlett who turned his marker and expertly fired into the net. In an eight minute spell Armadale totally wrote themselves out of the game as Bennion was dismissed for lashing out at an opponent, and Goodwin was issued his second yellow for a crunching tackle on Anthony. Goal number four came shortly after as Ian McMurray headed in a delightful cross from Anthony. On 84 minutes Young was brought down inside the 18-yard box by Darryl Platten and Anthony cheekily converted the resulting spot kick. And with the full-time whistle approaching Anthony and Higgins combined well down the left to deliver a cross to the back post where McMurray completed the rout by angling his shot under the 'keeper.
A late long-range strike by Mark Darby earned Fremantle Spirit a 3-2 win against Swan I.C. at the Swan Italian Club. David McNally created the games' first opening by delivering a deep cross to Anthony McStea whose hesitation allowed Fremantle to clear the danger. The port side were within inches of claiming the lead on 17 minutes when Jason Barrera's free-kick hit the upright and rolled along the goal line before Dom Ando scrambled the ball to safety. Cory Hugo came to Swans' rescue with a stunning save from Cisco Jorquiera's long-range strike, and Steve Grant produced similar heroics by deflecting wide an Aaron Cole shot. Swan could not have asked for a better start to the second half which was five minutes in when McStea's free-kick from the edge of the 18-yard box gave Grant no chance. Fremantle hit back within a minute as Barrera who kept his composure to slide the ball into the net after an attempted clearance fell kindly for the midfielder. The visitors now began to dominate and on the hour Darby chased a long pass down the right which he fired low into the area where McNally had the misfortune of deflecting the ball into his own net. The port side were now flying and a long-range effort by Simon Elton-Bott sailed high, while Barrera's low strike forced a save from Hugo. David Foster brought the teams level on 78 minutes by converting from the spot after Tom Straker bundled over Tom Shepheard. Hugo prevented Callum Roberts from putting Fremantle back in control by coming out on top in a one-on-one situation. But there was little the Swan custodian could do with seven minutes left when Darby rifled into the top corner from 22-metres. Swan's search to snatch a late point was foiled by a solid Fremantle rearguard in which veteran stopper Alex Christie was the stand out.
FIRST DIVISION, ROUND SIXTEEN (Bayswater City v Mandurah City courtesy Mandurah City; Balcatta v Ashfield courtesy Balcatta)
Mandurah City returned home with all three points after dispatching Bayswater City 4-1 at Frank Drago Reserve. The visitors came out firing from the first whistle and created by far the better of opportunities throughout the first half. Their positive approach produced the goods on 11 minutes when Andy Brown, Jeff Bright and Shane Crampton combined for Graham Matthews to tap in the opening goal. The margin was doubled within minutes as Crampton squared the ball across the goalmouth for Matthews to repeat his earlier performance. Mandurah’s third came about as a result of Frank Madaferri’s foul on Jeff Bright inside the 18-yard box, and while goalkeeper Gianni Papalia saved Crampton’s penalty kick he was unable to prevent the striker from slotting in the rebound. The visitors should have brought up their fourth goal on the stroke of half-time as Scott Halpin’s free-kick found an unmarked Christian Paschkewitz who placed his header just wide of the target. Much of the spark disappeared from the game after the break. Bayswater pegged a goal back midway through the period when a precision cross was headed in by JamieKumkar. With two minutes to go Michael Bobridge capitalised on some great work by Andy Brown to fire in Mandurah’s fourth and final goal.
A spectacular overhead strike by Shane Mitchell earned Balcatta a 2-2 draw with Ashfield at Graham Burkett Reserve. An entertaining game played in good spirits opened with Ashfield asserting their authority before breaking through on 18 minutes when the ball was turned over in midfield and a quick exchange of passes ended with Danien Todorovic thundering a spectacular shot from 30-metres into the net. The visitors continued their onslaught but Igor Novakovic and Andy O’Neill were unable to capitalise on their chances. 17-year old Adam Stillitano made his mark in the centre of midfield as Balcatta began the second half full of life. A booming kick by goalkeeper Tony Alexovski caught Ashfield square in the 53rd minutes and allowed Ben Rogers to race through and slot in the equaliser. Play then streamed from end to end with some excellent football keeping the small but vocal crowd enthralled. Ashfield reclaimed the lead when Alexovski was caught out of position after Andy O’Neill’s shot deflected off Daniel Colletta. The final twenty minutes was dominated by Balcatta who deservedly levelled proceedings when Mitchell, with back to goal, crashed the ball into the top corner from 14-metres. Both sides had chances to snatch a late winner but at the end of 90 minutes they had to be content to a point each.
A classy four-goal haul from Steve Suttie eased South West Phoenix to a 5-0 victory over Queens Park at Coker Park. The home side twice could have taken the early lead but both Ian McKean and Ricky Simpson failed to hit the target when well placed. They would be misses Queens Park would rue as in the 19th minute Suttie sent a splendid half-volley out of the goalkeeper’s reach and into the far top corner from 18-metre. Phoenix doubled their lead five minutes later when a quality cross was redirected into the net by David Murphy. Simpson was presented with a golden opportunity to reduce the deficit when Queens Park were awarded a penalty, however, Ryan Montgomery blocked his initial effort as well as the follow-up. Just before half-time Suttie headed in a close-range after ‘keeper Phil De Sousa failed collect a cross from the right A dreadful blunder by De Sousa gifted Suttie his hat-trick four minutes after re-start when he striker’s long-range free-kick slipped from the ‘keeper’s grip and rolled into the net. But there was nothing the ‘keeper could do in the 61st minute as Suttie was played in behind the defence and, after taking a couple of touches, stroked the ball past an exposed De Sousa.
Jon Greenwood scored twice against his former club as Dianella White Eagles downed Forrestfield United 4-2 at Hartfield Park. The home were quick out of the blocks and held a lot of the early possession only to be turned away time and time again by a stubborn Dianella backline. However, the only goal of the half came at the opposite end when Michael Maine sent the ball out wide to Dragan Njegic who beat his marker and drilled in a low cross which Ray Rose clinically finished at the far post. Forrestfield came out after the break determined to get back on level terms on that’s exactly what they did after 66 minutes when Phil Bell converted from the penalty spot. Greenwood made his presence known shortly after by looping a header over goalkeeper Brad Effie after pouncing on a dreadful defensive error. Dianella where now starting to flex there attacking prowess and within ten Greenwood had his second by slotting in from the edge of the 18-yard box. A rash of yellow cards then soured the game and resulted in the dismissal of Maine and Peter Barley. In the 81st minute Greenwood turned provider for Rose to crash the ball into the top corner. Bell grabbed Forrestfield a late consolation by firing a dubious second penalty past Pedro Pavez.
Gosnells City upset Canning City’s apple cart by taking maximum points courtesy of a 4-2 scoreline at Walter Padbury Reserve. Ian Maguire, Brian Cairney, Darren Francis and an own goal completed Gosnells’ tally and cancelled out goals by Ryan Allomes and Paul Oliver. Rockingham City registered maximum points for the first time this season with a surprise 3-1 defeat of Morley Windmills at Dowling Street Reserve Goals by Andrew Keary, Michael Vaz and J.McCreery overturned a half-time deficit brought on by Paul Dundo’s strike. Further details of these two games were not forthcoming from any of the four participating clubs.
FOXE OUT FOR TWO MONTHS
Perth Glory have been dealt an injury blow just weeks from the start of the A-League season with experienced defender Hayden Foxe ruled out for up to eight games with a knee injury. Foxe, an off-season signing from Leeds United, was left writhing in pain following a training ground mishap in the wet yesterday. Scans revealed damage to the medial and posterior ligaments of Foxe's right knee and, although surgery is not required, the defender will wear a brace for a number of weeks as part of his rehabilitation.
Ron Smith was trying to be positive about losing one of his few experienced players. "I think this result is as good as we might have expected - and it certainly could have been a lot worse," said the coach. "While it's unfortunate he'll be out for the start of our campaign we can look forward to having Hayden back in the team this season which is a huge positive for the club. He's obviously disappointed however he is a true professional and is now firmly focused on starting his rehabilitation and preparing to get back onto the pitch to do what he does best."
CAPTAIN COLOSIMO BACKS LAZARIDIS
New Perth Glory captain Simon Colosimo has vowed his unconditional support to Stan Lazaridis. The career of Lazaridis is still waiting on Football Federation Australia to hand down its penalty over a failed drug test for the banned substance finasteride. Some three months after FFA heard the case, both Glory and the former Socceroo are still awaiting an outcome, leaving the club furious and the player disenchanted.
Upon his appointment as Glory captain this week, Colosimo made it clear the 34-year old former West Ham United star was still an integral member of the squad despite uncertainty about his playing future. "Stan is definitely still a part of the squad," Colosimo said. "He is part of our club, and the guys are just waiting for him to get the all clear again ... we are in a unique situation in that when he does get to come on board, we know physically he is going to have a lot to prove, he will want to go off with a bang."
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
Tomorrow’s round of Premier league fixtures will go a long way towards settling the title race. Although there are still seven rounds to play, Floreat Athena have opened up a seven point gap on nearest rival Cockburn City, and are nine ahead of third-placed Perth S.C. Floreat are a tough nut to crack at Litis Stadium and, understandably, are widely expected to account for an Inglewood United side which has run hot and cold this year. But all the attention will be focused on Dalmatinac Park where Cockburn City meet Perth S.C. who both the points if they are to keep pace with the leaders.
Perennial under-achiever Swan I.C. have home ground advantage against 2006 First Division champion Fremantle Spirit in the www.footballwa.net Match of the Week. Swan entered the year with high hopes but it soon unravelled for Carlo Scali who has been prevented from fielding the same eleven two weeks running due to injury and suspension. By contrast Marc Wingell’s team have surprised many on their top flight return and head into the weekend brimming with the confidence and determination needed to collect all three points at Swan’s expense for the second time this year.
A number of teams are nervously looking over their shoulder in light of the never-say-die attitude displayed by Wanneroo City last weekend. Although high on confidence, the Roos will need to dig deep to get the better of Western Knights at Nash Field. Not a lot has gone right this year for reigning champion Sorrento and this week it’ll be more ‘backs to the wall’ stuff when they host Stirling Lions. Armadale will be confident of putting a few goals past E.C.U. Joondalup when they visit Alfred Skeet Oval.
A re-energised Queens Park hosts South West Phoenix in the pick of First Division games. Goals have flowed freely for Jimmy Taneski and Ricky Simpson during a season in which the experience of Brian Kinson and Grant Learmont has been vital to Queens Parks' success. Phoenix are on course for their best finish since joining the State League in 2001 thanks to the goalscoring exploits of Gary Mayers and Steve Suttie, and superb service from midfield provided by Greg Hayes and Patrick Quinn.
First Division leader Mandurah City will be out to avenge their early season loss to Bayswater City when they visit Frank Drago Reserve. Balcatta have conceded 15 times in their past three outings and it's hard to see that flow ending when Ashfield travel to Graham Burkett Reserve. Canning City has a strong away record and this weekend play a Gosnells City side which has not won on home soil in 2007. Cellar-dweller Rockingham City are expected to provide little resistance for Morley Windmills, and Hartfield Park hosts the mid-table meeting of Forrestfield United and Dianella White Eagles.
CONTI PLEASED TO PLAY HIS PART IN WANNEROO’S SUCCESS
The celebrations went long into the night at Wanneroo City on Saturday after chalking up their first win in fourteen months. An opportunistic late goal from Craig Cheeseman brought some much-needed relief to the northern suburbs club who’d gone 33 games without victory. “Everyone was ecstatic with the win, especially considering we came back from being in a losing position twice,” enthused goalkeeper Jordan Conti after the 3-2 defeat of Swan I.C. “And it was terrific that the majority of players and supporters stayed around the club after the game to celebrate the win - it was great to be a part of!”
Saturday’s performance was very much a team effort with everyone was pulling in the same direction and giving their all for the full 90 minutes. “The team possessed the same fantastic attitude the week before against Sorrento,” commented 22-year old Conti. “Even though that result didn’t go our way, it was plain for all to see that there are no passengers in the team and that we are an incredibly hard running side. And with a little help from the ‘footballing gods’ that hard work should convert into a few more wins before the year is out.”
Conti played a starring role with his cat-like reflexes and agility leaving the Swan forward line frustrated at every turn. “It felt great that I could contribute in some way to the outcome of the game,” said the former State Schoolboy custodian. “Even though I haven’t played for a while, I’m still pretty critical of how I play and I there were some aspects of how I played that I could improve on. My kicking wasn’t all that great, and I probably could have done better with Damien Scali’s shot which produced Swans’ season goal.”
Earlier in the year Conti decided it was time for a change and hung up his gloves - a decision he reversed when an S.O.S. call came through to join Wanneroo. “I had study commitments that seemed to consume the majority of my life and, plain and simple, I wasn’t enjoying playing anymore,” he explained. “Gary Church asked if I’d be interested in joining Wanneroo as they’d just lost Kevin Miller and Aaron Olow. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain as I hadn’t played in the Premier League for a while and wanted to find out if I could still be competitive against teams like Perth, Floreat and the like.”
This weekend Wanneroo head to Nash Field to take on a Western Knights outfit still licking their wounds from a shock loss at Armadale. Conti is sure to again find himself in the thick of the action against one of the league’s highest scoring teams but confident of his teams’ chances. “The Knights will be wanting to bounce back big after to losing to Armadale, who showed the Knights aren’t invincible,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough game but if we show the same application that we did against Swan I think there’s no reason why we can’t get something out of the game.”
The win has provided Wanneroo a timely morale boost in a season where not a lot has gone right for the northern suburbs’ club. And while the monumental task of avoiding relegation weighs heavy, Conti says the player group are focused on enjoying themselves and playing football. “The team is just looking forward to playing and trying to recreate the same feeling there was after the Swan game,” he said. “You can’t really set a goal past winning your next game - I know that sounds cliched but it’s the truth - and the target of every game we play is to win.”
COLOSIMO GETS CAPTAINS ARMBAND
Simon Colosimo has been installed as captain of Perth Glory for the new A-league season. The most experienced player on Glory's roster, Colosimo is eager to lead the team into what he strongly believes is an exciting new era for Glory. "There is a real buzz about the place and an air of confidence about the coming season and future of the club," Colosimo said. "Glory has a proud history and we are all committed to ensuring the club is again the benchmark of football in this country both on and off the field."
Coach Ron Smith has no doubt Colosimo's is the right person to lead the club. "Simon has played international football at every level and is also a key component in the central spine of our side," he said. "If you're going to have an influence on what happens on the field then that is the place you're best able to achieve that. We have a fairly young side and Simon is someone our players can look to during matches to have a calming influence when things might not be going our way."
Colosimo will look to out-going captain Jamie Harnwell along with other senior players to assist in his added responsibilities this season. "We have a tight knit squad and have built a strong club culture which can only lead to positive outcomes this season," Colosimo commented. "There are a number of players that have displayed natural leadership qualities and we'll all work together to ensure we're heading in the right direction. We are definitely not going to disappoint either the fans or ourselves this year, that's for certain."
MCNALLY STANDS TALL AT SWAN
It’s been a disappointing league campaign for Swan I.C. who’ve suffered greatly at the hands of injury and suspension. But through all the gloom has emerged a shining light in the form of 19-year old David McNally. It’s been a rapid rise to senior ranks for the teenage defender who this time last year was starring for the black and whites youth side. After a series of impressive displays in the reserves, McNally hasn’t looked back since being drafted in by Carlo Scali for his first team debut at Sorrento in late July.
Not surprisingly, the former Kalamunda junior is enjoying his game at the moment. “I have found first team football to be faster and more physical then reserves but have enjoyed the challenge as well as the experience,” McNally said. “I still think I have a lot to learn about the game and hopefully, with some time, I will. Overall, it has been enjoyable, the lads have made me feel welcome and it’s been good to get some wins under our belts in the past few weeks.”
The youngster’s central partnership at the back with experienced campaigner Aaron Cole has been one of the success stories of 2007 for Swan. McNally has relished the opportunity to play alongside Cole and is keen to learn all he can from the former State player. “I’ve definitely enjoy playing along side Aaron, he is a leader within the team and I think the players look up to him on and off the pitch. I think that I can personally learn a lot from him because of his experience and his ability to read the game,” commented McNally.
McNally also tipped his hat to the efforts of the Swan coaching team. “Mick Da Re, Paul Lincoln, Carlo and Doogs (Michael Di Fulvio) have been great,” he enthused. “Carlo and Doogs have taught me a lot about the game which has helped me to adapt to the change from reserves to league. I think they work well together to improve the quality of our football and I think this has helped us string a couple of wins together over the past two weeks.”
Senior coach Scali has been delighted with the progress made by McNally since his senior debut. “Dave has shown plenty of maturity since playing with the first team and has not looked out of place at any stage,” he said. “He has an unbelievably cool head on his shoulders and really has all the attributes that any defender requires to be successful. He is tall, fit and lean, confident on the ball and very calm under pressure. I think he can become one of the best defenders in the league and the fact that he is very quick to learn and has someone like Aaron next to him will only see him get better with time.”
WORLD CUP CALL-UP FOR PERTH PAIR
Years of hard work are close to paying off for Lisa DeVanna and Collette McCallum. Four years after their hopes of representing Australia against the world’s best players in the United States were dashed by injury, the pair have been selected in Australia’s World Cup squad for next month’s tournament in China. Also named in Tom Sermanni’s 21-player squad is Katanning-born goalkeeper Lydia Williams, who these days’ calls Canberra home.
Hot-shot striker DeVanna, who missed the 2003 tournament because of a calf muscle injury, said she would be inspired to succeed next month by the Matildas’ recent failure to qualify for next year’s Olympics. “We didn’t qualify for the Olympics and this is the next best thing. All our focus and determination is on this to prove to everyone in the world that we are a country to be acknowledged,” said the 22-year old who recently spent six months in England playing for Doncaster Belles.
The injuries that kept McCallum out of the last World Cup were more serious, the midfielder sidelined for the best part of two years after having both left and right knee reconstructions. The 21-year old was one of the standouts at last year’s under-20 World Cup in Russia, where a spot in the FIFA all-star squad was her reward, and hopes to carry that form over into the upcoming tournament and earn a contract overseas. “I haven’t been away to see how things are overseas and I’d like to get that experience after the World Cup,” McCallum said.
The pair have made great sacrifices, including training between seven and ten times a week with former Perth Glory striker Alistair Edwards, local senior teams Cockburn City and E.C.U. Joondalup and the National Training Centre boys squad. McCallum said it was impossible to work as well as committing to the national team because of demands on time. “There’s no job that can give you the flexibility to be away for as much as we are,” she commented.
Australia has been allocated a spot in Group C alongside world number four ranked Norway, Canada and Ghana for the World. Their campaign opens against Ghana on 12 September, followed by the clash with Norway on 15 September 15 before the final group fixture against Canada on 19 September. The top two teams will progress to the quarter-finals to meet the best placed teams from Group D which features China, Denmark, Brazil and New Zealand.
The Matildas squad for the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup is Di Alagich, Melissa Barbieri, Joanne Burgess, Lauren Colthorpe, Rhian Davies, Lisa DeVanna, Alicia Ferguson, Heather Garriock, Kate Gill, Collette McCallum, Caitlin Munoz, Kate McShea, Joanne Peters, Clare Polkinghorne, Cheryl Salisbury, Sally Shipard, Thea Slatyer, Danielle Small, Sarah Walsh, Lydia Williams and Emma Wirkus.
Collectors are advised to pencil Sunday 16th September into their diaries as that's the date of the next Football Programme and Memorabilia Fair. Organiser Bob Brown expects next months fair, which will be held in the Inglewood United clubrooms, to be bigger and better than either of last years events. For further details contact Bob Brown on 9446 3338 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Bureaucratic red tape has denied Aleks Vrteski the opportunity to turn out for E.C.U. Joondalup this weekend. The northern suburbs club had sought a short-term loan of Vrteski from Perth Glory to cover the absence of regular goalkeeper Andy Petterson, who is expected to return from injury next week. However, the move was blocked by Football Federation Australia who considers the A-League season to have already commenced.
There are suggestions Football West is considering an expansion of next years' Cup competition to include both State League and Amateur clubs. While planning is still very much in its infancy, indications suggest Amateur teams will participate in the first round with State League clubs entering the competition at a later stage. The last time semi-professional and amateurs teams competed for the same trophy was 1994 when Spearwood Dalmatinac defeated Inglewood Falcons in the Cup final.
Floreat Athena are just seven games away from joining the exclusive groups of sides to completed a Premier League season without loss. The last time team to achieve this was, ironically, Floreat who stormed their way to the 1990 minor premiership by winning seventeen of their eighteen regular season outings. East Fremantle Tricolore (1964), Perth Azzurri (1981, 1967) and Spearwood Dalmatinac (1982) are the only other teams to claim top honours without losing a game.
Shannon Dally made a dream start to his State League career by earning Armadale a 1-0 home win against Western Knights on the weekend. The 23-year-old was signed by the Reds from New Zealand Football Championship outfit Hawke’s Bay United just hours before the transfer deadline. Dally impressed at both ends of the park on his Armadale debut in which he worked hard to nullify a dangerous Knights attack before popping up with only minutes remaining to score the games solitary goal.
DEVINE HELPS ARMADALE FOSTER A SUCCESSFUL FUTURE
Veteran midfielder Scott Devine is doing his bit to ensure Armadale has a bright future by aiding in the development of their youth brigade. The Reds have spent this season languishing in the bottom third of the table but that’s of little consequence to the club who are slowly building towards success further down the track. The teams senior list has been revitalised under experienced coaches Billy Russell and Tom Kilkelly who’ve provided Marlon Ramirez, Stephen Skilandis and Ryan Pearson an opportunity to show what they can do in the State League.
Devine has been impressed by the quality of Armadale’s young players and sees some future stars within he ranks. “Marlon Ramirez has really stepped up this season and Stephen Skilandis looks like he’s been playing senior football for years,” said the Scottish-born 31-year old. “Players like these give the club a great platform and there are a few more coming through as well so it’s all good for the clubs’ future. If we can get a little bit of stability within the league and attract a few more quality players I believe Armadale could really go places.”
In a long and distinguished career Devine has worn the club colours of Gosnells City, Canning City, Kelmscott Roos, Stirling Macedonia, Swan I.C. and Western Knights, not to mention representing the State. “I’ve been fortunate to have played at a number of clubs and it’s difficult to single out any single highlight,” Devine said of his time in Perth. “At the Knights I was honoured to have captained the side and I treasure every League, Cup and Top Four trophy I’ve been lucky enough to win, and to play for the State team was a tremendous honour.”
TRAVEL NO OBSTACLE FOR GLORY
David Mitchell has warned against reading too much into Perth Glory’s pre-season Cup form but remains adamant better times are on the horizon. Glory are just 90 minutes away from their first piece of A-League silverware following Saturday’s 3-2 semi-final win over Central Coast Mariners. “You’re always cautious about having a good pre-season and then not starting well in the proper season,” Mitchell commented. “But it would be nice to win the final and there have been a lot of encouraging signs.”
Glory’s path to their second pre-season Cup final in three years hasn’t been easy with the team playing all four qualifying games on the road. And things don’t get any easier with this Sunday’s decider against Adelaide United being played at Hindmarsh Stadium. “It takes training days away from you but you’ve just got to manage it and handle it as well as you can,” Mitchell said of being on the road. “The positive thing for us is that we’ve had more time to prepare.”
It has been a case of so far so good for a Glory side which is yet to have its full complement of players available for selection. Although Hayden Foxe, Nick Rizzo, Anthony Danze and Jimmy Downey have missed games due to injury the team are undefeated in four starts, which includes a 1-1 group stage draw with Adelaide. “With the squad we’ve got you feel that we’re going to give a good account of ourselves every game we go into,” Mitchell said. “Last year there were times when we’d go a goal down and you didn’t think we’d get back into it. But this year we’ve got the character to turn things around.”
MRDJA READY TO FIRE
Nik Mrdja believes he is finally over the long-term injuries that have frustrated both since the A-League began. The highly-rated striker has been plagued by injury since joining Central Coast Mariners, taking no part in the 2005/06 campaign and completing just 256 minutes last season. “I’m definitely right to go now and want to play every week so I just have to make sure my form’s good enough,” said the 28-year old. “I want to have a big season and maybe take the club one step further than we did in the first season.”
Declaring himself fit, Mrdja says Mariners fans can expect big things from him. “I’ve definitely had a hard couple of years and it’s been great to get back on the park,” he said. “I’m feeling a little bit tight in some areas - but then again, it’s probably because I haven’t really done this sort of training in the past couple of years. I can’t even remember what it feels like to be 100%. I’m getting better in games so I’m improving every week.”
During his career Mrdja has had surgery on both knees and those operations have taken their toll on the striker. “My right quad is still not as big as the left one,” he says. “There’s about a three or four centimetre difference in circumference. It’s nothing like my left one but it’s actually already grown three centimetres. The stronger my quad gets hopefully the less I’ll feel with pain niggly injuries around the knee. Because I’m a left-footer, my right knee would take a lot of impact when I was shooting in the pivotal spot. It was after all the years of running at full speed and then stopping suddenly.”
The arrival of Sasho Petrovski has been welcomed by Mrdja who is looking forward to the possibility of a three-pronged attack along with Adam Kwasnik. “I see it (Petrovski’s signing) as a strengthening of the squad,” he said. “We definitely needed another striker here and I was keen for another striker to come in to play up front with me, because it helps both of you to be as good as you can be. But no one has any assurances and with Lawrie you have to earn your spot. We’ve got more players now and we have to fight to keep our spots.”
‘DESTINY IS IN OUR HANDS’ SAYS LINCOLN (courtesy Swan I.C.)
Paul Lincoln has plans to take Swan I.C. Reserves one step further than last year and claim the league championship for their own. The black and whites second string ended 2006 runners-up in both the League and Cup but, ultimately, trophyless, and with his side again riding high Lincoln says now it up to the players to determine just how much they want silverware. “We’re second on the ladder and have given ourselves the opportunity to win the league, so our destiny is in our own hands,” Lincoln commented.
The race for top honours has intensified in recent weeks with Swan narrowing the gaps on leaders Inglewood United, who’ve dropped valuable points to Stirling Lions and Perth S.C. However, Lincoln isn’t getting carried away and has urged his side to take each game one at a time. “The game against Inglewood on the 1st September will need to be won if we are to win the league,” he said. “But we also must win the other games. For me, and I know it’s a cliche, but its one week at a time.”
The promotion of David McNally and John Monterosso to senior ranks this year has pleased Lincoln who feels there are a couple more players ready for the first team duty. “John Mansaray has scored seven goals from midfield and his had a good year to date,’ commented the Reserve team coach. “James Bongiovanni has also impressed me, he is skilful and he strikes the ball as well as anyone at the club and I believe he will mature into a good player.”
Lincoln retired from a long and successful career only a few years back and is enjoying helping the next generation of players learn their trade. The former Stirling Macedonia, Spearwood Dalmatinac, Floreat Athena and Swan striker says the quality of football played today is not what it once was, but feel it will improve in time. “The standard of league this season is not near the standard it was in the mid-nineties,” Lincoln commented. “Today we have a lot more younger players in the league that are still learning the game, so it will improve down the track.”
GLORY READY TO SHAKE OF LEAN YEARS
A new-look Perth Glory are ready to shake off their A-League shackles and make their mark on the domestic competition this season after a miserable end to their two previous campaigns. That’s the opinion of defender Jamie Coyne who feels Glory are better prepared than ever for the 21-round season and have a squad capable of cracking a finals place for the first time since the A-League was formed in 2005.
Coyne pointed to Glory’s pre-season Cup form as evidence of their improvement, especially in light of the injures the side has endured. Former English league defender Hayden Foxe and midfielders Nick Rizzo, Billy Celeski, Anthony Danze Jimmy Downey and Leo Bertos have all missed games due to minor problems. Stan Lazaridis has not played since testing positive to a banned substance, and visa problems have restricted the participation of Croatian striker Mate Dragicevic.
Glory’s ability to register wins over reigning A-League champion Melbourne Victory, Newcastle United, and Central Coast Mariners, as well as earn a share of the points with pre-season Cup holder Adelaide United - all without a full complement of players - only adds to Coyne’s case. “I think we’ve shown the depth we’ve got during the pre-season Cup,” he said. “We’ve only had thirteen or fourteen players the hole way through.”
Ownership uncertainty and a late change of coach leading in 2006/07 had an unsettling effect on Glory. But the arrival of recruits such as Foxe, Rizzo, Dragicevic and Nikolai Topor-Stanley have helped foster a positive attitude at the club. “You can’t read too much into the pre-season results but we are starting to develop a winning culture, which we haven’t had in the last couple of years,” said Coyne, who has had to shake off his own injury concerns. The 26-year old had a groin operation just prior to last season and is only now starting to feel confident of striking a ball.
MATILDAS SMASH HONG KONG
A youthful Australian line-up romped to an 8-1 victory over Hong Kong in their Olympic qualifying match at the Hong Kong Stadium. Despite the big win Australia remain out of the running for a spot at next years’ tournament after successive losses to DPR Korea in July left the Matildas six points adrift with two matches remaining. The Matildas squad included local product Ella Mastrantonio and comprised players likely to feature in the Young Matildas team at the AFC Under-19 Women’s Championship in October.
Australian adapted well to the extremely hot and humid conditions by going ahead on 2 minutes when Ellyse Perry looped a shot in from the edge of the 18-yard box. Their dominance was rewarded by goals from Renee Rollason, Caitlin Cooper and Tameka Butt. Australia’s fifth came via an own goal soon after the interval before Wing Sze Chan pulled one back for the home team. Victory was assured with further goals by Rollason, a second own goal and substitute Jenna Kingsley. Mastrantonio was an unused substitute.
The Australian squad for the game against Hong Kong was Victoria Balomenos, Tameka Butt, Ashleigh Connor, Caitlin Cooper, Rachel Cooper, Stacey Day, Rachel Doyle, Casey Dumont, Grace Gill-McGrath, Lyndsay Glohe, Elise Kellond-Knight, Jenna Kingsley, Ella Mastrantonio, Ellyse Perry, Teresa Polias, Clare Polkinghorne, Renee Rollason, and Kyah Simon.
GLORY THROUGH TO CUP FINAL
Perth Glory progressed to the pre-season Cup final with a solid 3-2 win against Central Coast Mariners at the Bluetongue Stadium in Gosford. Glory, who have travelled for all four games of the pre-season tournament, showed great resilience to repel the Mariners late charge and progress to the series decider. “We were definitely fighting against the tide towards the end there but the boys did a great job to hold out Central Coast who have been in good form and will be a very good side this season,” said coach Ron Smith. “We’ve enjoyed a good build up and with the addition of some new personnel we have a different composition and resolve this season and you can see that in the results we’ve had so far.”
The visitors opened brightly with Nikita Rukavtsya and Naum Sekulovski causing the Mariners backline some early problems, and both were presented with chances to register the games first goal only to wide from good positions. Glory’s enterprise was rewarded on 23 minutes when Sekulovski’s cross from the left was met by Leo Bertos whose shot was blocked and Mate Dragicevic rifled in the rebound from 12-metres. Nik Mrdja went close on the half hour with a free-kick that beat young goalkeeper Tando Velaphi but hit the outside of the post. But the former Glory striker wasn’t to be denied and three minutes before the break he unleashed a powerful shot which Velaphi to a glove to but was unable to keep out.
Glory regained the upper hand eleven minutes into the second half when a Bertos free-kick deflected off the defensive wall and wrong footed ‘keeper Danny Vukovic to find the net. The Mariners had their chances to draw level with Mrdja crashing the ball into the frame of the goal on three occasions, Sasha Petrovski fired narrowly high while John Hutchinson somehow missed the target from close-range. In the 78th minute Glory launched a counter attack which ended with David Tarka netting in a goalmouth scramble. The Mariners threw everything at their opponents in the remaining minutes only to find Tarka and Dino Djulbic in no mood to compromise. The pressure valve was released in stoppage time when Petrovski beat the offside trap to score the hosts a late consolation.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND FIFTEEN (Stirling Lions v Cockburn City by Don Evans; Fremantle Spirit v Sorrento by Kerry Slater)
Floreat Athena moved one step closer to their first Premier League title in a decade by disposing title rival Perth S.C. 4-1 at Dorrien Gardens. It took Floreat only seven minutes to open the scoring as Josip Magdic used his pace to beat Peter Lord and cut the ball back to the penalty spot where Garin Collins slammed it past Gareth Deeg. Perth thought they'd equalised minutes later when Barry Wood stole possession from Ante Kovacevic and chipped Vas Vujacic only for his shot to come back off the crossbar. The home fans didn't have to wait too much longer before Todd Howarth delivered a corner to the near post where Antonio Naglieri flicked it on for Andreas Oliviera to net at the back post. Floreat hit back in the 24th minute when Trent Kay lost his footing on a slippery surface and Collins swung in an inviting ball which Magdic lashed over Deeg from the edge of the 18-yard box. Kay headed narrowly wide from a corner at the start of the second half to re-affirm Perth's determination to fight their way back into the match. Vas Vujacic blocked a shot by Wood, and Naglieri's powerful follow-up was deflected away by John Migas. Boima Karpeh should have done better than roll his shot wide with only the 'keeper to beat on 56 minutes. However, the noisy Floreat fans were soon celebrating as poor communication between Robbie Puca and Michael Icanovski permitted Karpeh to stream forward and pull the ball back to Collins whose bounced a shot across Deeg and inside the far post. Five minutes later Collins turned provider with a low ball to the far post where Karpeh had a simple tap in from 3-metres. The hosts' misery was compounded when Wood was dismissed for two quick yellow cards on 80 minutes, and shortly after Michael Ord had a late goal ruled out for offside.
A virtuoso performance from 16-year old Dannie Richman provided the catalyst for a second half goalfeast as Stirling Lions belted Cockburn City 4-1 at Macedonia Park. It took only 10 minutes for Stirling to open their account when Steve Porter's cross into a goalmouth was headed down by Andy Brown for Keith Brown to poke in at close-range. Stirling applied further pressure with Phil Arnold and Tom Jones menacing a visiting defence in which Shane Nunes and Liam Lilly stood tall. Cockburn responded in the 22nd minute when Aaron Dos Santos belted a cracking left-footer from 18-metres into the bottom corner following excellent lead-up work by Josh Kamasz. Both teams went within of claiming the lead with Arnold firing just wide after a driving solo run, and Paul Natale's dangerous cross narrowly evaded the head of a diving Nunes. Richman came off the bench shortly before the break as replacement for Jones who'd succumbed to injury, and within minutes the teenager surged past two defenders to set-up Keith Brown who disappointingly lifted his shot high of the crossbar. Five minutes into the second half Alan Muir played a brilliant through ball which Porter drilled past an advancing Alan Dunlop to put Stirling back in front. The difference became two goals on 65 minutes when a precision cross by Richman allowed Andy Brown to cleverly side foot in on the turn. As the half wore on Cockburn found themselves reduced to playing a long ball game in the hope that Kamasz or Johnny Mirco could provide some spark up front. Kevin Henderson put the icing on Stirlings' cake in the 85th minute by converting at close-range a long throw in from Arnold.
A late strike by New Zealander import Shannon Daly allowed Armadale to upset Western Knights 1-0 in front of a passionate home crowd at Alfred Skeet Reserve. After a run of impressive showings for no reward, Billy Russell's boys came out firing with the silky skills and pace of Neil Gawley causing several nervous moments for the Knights rearguard. The first chance of a very tight half was carved out when Gawley threaded a pass to Darren Kingston who dragged his shot wide of the target. The Knights should have gone ahead five minutes out from the interval but Jon Mathers volleyed high at point blank range after being picked out by Stuart Montgomery. Injury to Gawley and Jason Goodwin forced Armadale to re-shuffle their pack for the second half with the addition of Ben Howe and Simon El Chami. With Andrija Jukic running the show from the midfield, it was the Knights who made the stronger start to the new period. And they were unlucky not to go in front when Jukic transferred possession to Michael Johnson whose deflected effort bounced just wide of the goal. Dusan Macura and Daryl Platten were outstanding in the centre of a defence constantly under pressure. As the clock ticked down the pace quickened and the game opened up as both sides went in search of an elusive goal. Kingston was allowed in on 82 minutes but should have done better than shoot weakly into the arms of Kevin Miller. Four minutes later Kingston made amends by pressuring Miller into spilling Macura's chip forward and Dally reacted instinctively by netting the decider from close-range.
Daniel Neiderberger's injury-time strike earned Inglewood United a 3-3 draw from their trip to E.C.U. Joondalup. An action packed contest produced five goals in a stunning 21 minute burst to have the crowd on the edge of their seats. An end-to-end start lead to early chances for Neiderberger and Marc Anthony on which niether was able to capitalise. On the quarter hour Mark Lee played a diagonal ball into the 18-yard box where Ian McMurray expertly fired past Oliver Taseski with his first touch. It took just three minutes for the visitors to draw level through Shaun Kilkelly who headed in at close-range from Dean Apelgren’s delivery. Inglewood hit the front after 24 minutes when Michael Baczynski crashed a superbly struck free-kick through a gap in the defensive wall and beyond the reach of the goalkeeper. The teams were level again eight minutes later when McMurray, Craig Young and Anthony teamed up to put the ball at the feet of Jon Higgins whose shot rocketed off the upright and into an unfortunate Kilkelly who could do little as it rebounded into the net. Two more minutes elapsed before Joondalup pinched the lead through young gun Tom Amphlett who powered the ball in from 17-metres. Things settled considerably at the break with both coaches adopting a more cautious approach. Joondalup twice went within inches of sealing victory as a free-kick by Higgins slammed into the crossbar and Amphlett placed just wide when well positioned. As the game came to a close gaps began appearing the home defence and both Neiderberger and substitute Kevin Griffiths went close to levelling. Inglewood's persistence paid dividends a minute into stoppage time when Neiderberger was set free on the counter attack and coolly finished past the goalkeeper to the delight of his team mates.
Fremantle Spirit and Sorrento gained a point each from their meeting at the WA Spanish Club which ended in a 1-1 draw. The match promised much in the excitement stakes, but failed to deliver with much of play taking place between the boxes and chances on goal a rarity. It took ten minutes for the first opening to be presented as Cisco Jorquiera delivered a low cross from the left to Vas Kalogeracos whose shot was saved by a diving Neil Young. Three minutes later Sorrento fashioned a opportunity through Glen Thomas’ corner which Todd Harnwell headed high of Steve Grant’s crossbar. Both sets of supporters were eager to see further chances on goal but a bumpy pitch and lack of options going into the final third ensured a quiet afternoon for both Grant and Young. Six minutes from the break Gary Lynn unleashed a 30-metre bomb which Grant spectacularly over at full stretch. Shortly after Glen Thomas’ shot was blocked by Grant and ricocheted into the hand of Jorqueira, leaving referee Hugh Best no option but to point to the spot from where Lynn blasted straight down the center as Grant went to his left. Fremantle had a penalty of their own just 16 seconds into the second half when Steve McDonald was deemed to have dragged down Kalogeracos, up stepped Dale Wingell who send Young the wrong way to bring the teams level. Coaches Marc Wingell and Steve Neville both went to their benches in an effort to improve the mix and spark life into their respective attacks. On 69 minutes Thomas had a free-kick tipped away by Grant. Fremantle were reduced to ten men eight minutes later following an altercation between Lynn and Sebastian Booysen who was issued a straight red card. The final opening was created by Jason Barrera who advanced down the right and fired in a low ball to Kalogeracos whose effort from outside the 18-yeard box was just beyond the bottom corner.
Wanneroo City’s long, dry spell has been broken by a dramatic 3-2 defeat of Swan I.C. at Kingsway Reserve. Goals by Ben Yates, Carl Harrison and Craig Cheeseman earned the Roos their first win in over twelve months, however, it was goalkeeper Jordan Conti who played the starring role with a series of saves that left Swan frustrated. Wanneroo held much of the early possession but that counted for little on 10 minutes when Damian Catalano drilled the ball into the net at close-range from Tom Shepheard’s centre. Parity was justly restored just three minutes later when Yates angled his shot across Cory Hugo and inside the far post after neat lead-up work by Craig Bowman and Cheeseman. Swan reclaimed the lead on 29 minutes when Shepheard laid the ball back to Damien Scali whose sweetly struck shot from 14-metres dipped under the crossbar. The game would have been over by the break if not for Conti who acrobatically denied David Perich, and smothered at the feet of Shepheard. Yates had the ball in the net within twenty seconds of the second half only for an offside flag to disallow out his effort. This signalled a blitz from Swan but Dom Ando, David Foster nor Aaron Cole could find a way past Conti. The offside flag denied Yates for a second time after he poked a Cheeseman through ball past the advancing ‘keeper. Eleven minutes later Wanneroo drew level as substitute Carl Harrison rifled into the net from 10-metres after being set-up by Cheeseman. Foster and Catalano both stretched Conti as Swan went looking for the lead. But it was the Wanneroo faithful who were celebrating on 86 minutes when Hugo’s attempted clearance was blocked by Yates and deflected across the face of goal where Cheeseman rammed the loose ball into an empty net despite the best efforts of David McNally.
FIRST DIVISION, ROUND FIFTEEN (Mandurah City v Ashfield courtesy Ashfield; Forrestfield United v South West Phoenix courtesy South West Phoenix)
Ashfield kept their slim title hopes alive by accounting for First Division leader Mandurah City 2-0 at Peelwood Parade. The home team came out firing with Jordan Rhodes’ cross providing a chance for Christian Paschkewitz who spooned the opportunity high from 8-metres. Ashfield hearts were again in mouths when Rhodes created space for himself only to loose his footing on a slippery surface and the chance was lost. After weathering the early storm Ashfield settled and Luke O’Neill should have done better than rush his shot high following a collision between Stuart Francis and goalkeeper Mike Green. As the half progressed Ashfield began to get on top and Julian Piromalli blazed high when found unmarked at a corner, while an Andy O’Neill header hit the upright. The visitors deservedly went ahead just before half time when, in a goalmouth scramble, the ball ricocheted into the net off the face of Martin Kelly. The second half continued in much the same fashion as Ashfield finding plenty of holes on the home defence. A quickly taken free-kick by Kelly had Green scrambling only for the shot to bounce off the bar, while Green was stretched to palm away Andy O’Neill’s fierce drive. The points were made safe when Rydeen Botha delicately chipped the ‘keeper with ten minutes to go.
South West Phoenix survival a late comeback to inflict a 4-2 loss on Forrestfield United at Hartfield Park. It took just 7 minutes for the visitors to open their account as Patrick Quinn played the ball through to Steve Suttie whose cut back was rocketed into the net on the turn by Gary Mayers. Phoenix doubled their lead soon after through a superb strike from 20-metres by Seb Trim after receiving a short corner from Quinn. A terrific sweeping move involving Steven Rooke, Suttie, Mayers and Quinn provided Andrew Cowley with an opportunity but the midfielder shot too close to the goalkeeper. Another free flowing exchange produced the teams’ third goal as Quinn centred Greg Hayes who chipped into the path of Mayers to volley in from 8-metres. Phoenix strengthened their hold on the game in the 50th minute when Quinn’s speculative effort from 35-metres drifted over the goalkeeper and into the corner of the net. It was only now that Forrestfield began to really test the visitors and seven minutes later Phil Bell converted from the penalty spot. Forrestfield were thrown a lifeline when Phoenix substitute Laurence Endersby had the misfortune of directing a cross past his own ‘keeper, however, Phoenix defended staunchly in the final minutes to claim victory.
Morley Windmills returned to the winners circle by out-shooting Balcatta 3-2 at Graham Burkett Reserve. Scott McIlroy gave the visiting side an early lead with a quickly taken free-kick which he powered past a motionless goalkeeper from 22-metres. John Nicolaou was within inches of levelling on 18 minutes by nodding Tony Cumace’s free-kick on to the crossbar. With the break fast approaching Balcatta drew level through Anthony Tountounzis who beat ‘keeper Chris Ramsey from a difficult angle. And right on the stroke of half-time Nicolaou put the home team in front by poking in a cross from the left. Nicolaou headed high from another Cumace free-kick early in the second half as Balcatta attempted to kill off the game. However, Morley had other plans and in the 63rd minute Seita Hamamoto tied the score after being played in behind the defence and beating the ‘keeper Ton Alexovski from 9-metres. Five minutes later Paul Dundo’s shot from distant slammed into the crossbar as Morley went in search of a winner. The game would be settled with eight minutes remaining when McIlroy crashed a penalty into the top corner following a foul by the ‘keeper on Remo McCann
Bayswater City recovered from conceding an early goal to defeat Dianella White Eagles 3-2 at Frank Drago Reserve. The day started positively enough for the visitors who went ahead on 3 minutes when Michael Maine crossed to the far post where an unmarked Jon Greenwood volleyed in. Bayswater worked there way back into the game and parity was restored eleven minutes later when Ryan Frisina found the net after some poor defending. The goal served to boost the confidence of the home team who soon had the lead after an error by goalkeeper Todd Busby gifted Sal Marrapodi his sixth goal of the season. Bayswater were determined to make the most of the momentum and on the half hour Frisina took full advantage of another defensive mistake to neatly lob Busby from 9-metres. Dianella began the second half at full pace and good chances came the way of Greenwood, Maine, Dragan Njegic, Paul Hickey and Ray Rose who were all unable to capitalise. They finally pegged back a goal with fifteen minutes remaining when Njegic slipped the ball through to Dean Gartside who coolly slotted the ball past the ‘keeper. Dianella threw everything snatching a late point only to be held out by a resilient home defence.
Canning City remains level on points with Ashfield despite mauling Queens Park 6-0 at Coker Park. Dave Mickler scored twice and Emlyn Whetnal, Dave Mahon, Simon Versaico and Michael Klaver once each for the visitors. Queens Park played the final twenty minutes with ten men after the dismissal of Adam Bremner. Rockingham City picked up just their second point of the season by holding fellow struggler Gosnells City 1-1 at Dowling Street Reserve. J.McCreery put Rockingham ahead mid-way through the first half only for Aaron Nadin to equalise in the second minute of stoppage time. Gosnells went down a man shortly after when Mark Edwards was red carded. Further details of these two games were not forthcoming from any of the four participating clubs.
YOUNG SOCCEROOS WIN WEIFANG CUP
The next generation of Socceroos took out the Weifang Cup after defeating Uzbekistan in their final match to edge out host nation China by one point. Australia’s Under-20 side won four of their five matches while on tour with the only loss being to China. “I’m very pleased with the performance of the team throughout the tournament especially considering the conditions which were challenging to say the least,” said coach Steve O’Connor. The tournament is the first international outing for the current generation of Young Socceroos who begin the qualification rounds for the 2009 FIFA World Youth Cup in October.
Australian commenced their Weifang Cup campaign with an encouraging 1-0 win over the Korean Republic (South Korea). Both sides struggled in the hot and humid conditions and it was only in teh second half that the young Australian side took the initiative and threatened on several occasions. Matthew Mullen scored the winner in the 73rd minute with a low first time strike from inside the penalty area following a corner from James Holland.
Match day two produced an emphatic 4-1 win over Iran for the Young Socceroos. Midfielder James Holland and Milos Lujic both scored a brace in a physical contest that saw Iran end with only ten players. Australia had opened up a two-goal buffer by the interval through early strikes by Holland and Lujic. Iran pegged a goal back on the hour, but their chances were dashed five minutes later when reduced to ten men. Late goals from Holland and Lujic rounded out the scoring.
Australia's run was halted when beaten 0-1 by host-nation China on Tuesday. The match was a tight contest throughout with the deadlock broken by the home side with a near post header direct from a corner four minutes from full-time. Australia has twice earlier squandered golden opportunities, the first being after 8 minutes when Milos Lujic set up Matt Mullen who placed wide with the goalkeeper out of position. And on the hour Tahj Minniecon and James Brown combined to tee up Holland who failed to convert with only the 'keeper to beat.
The Young Socceroos moved to within one game of claiming the Weifang Cup after a 5-3 defeat of top Chinese club side Shandong Luneng. Early goals by James Holland and Isaka Cernak-Okanya put Australia in a commanding position before being cancelled out leading into the break. But Australia were soon back in charge as Bonel Obradovic, Jason Hoffman and Richard Greer found the net. A converted penalty earned Shandong Luneng a late consolation.
Australia secured the trophy by a narrow 1-0 defeat of Uzbekistan. The match, played in stifling heat and humidity, was a fairly lacklustre affair with little in the way of goal scoring opportunities. While Australia had the better of play for the much of the game, Uzbekistan often looked dangerous on the counter. The only goal arrived just after the half hour when Ante Cicak’s free-kick produced a goalmouth scramble in which the ball was deflected into the net off the back of Matt Mullen.
The Young Socceroos squad for the Weifang Cup was James Brown, Isaka Cernak-Okanya, Ante Cicak, Luke De Vere, Richard Greer, Matthew Harper, James Holland, Matthew Jurman, Milos Lujic, Dane Milovanovic, Daniel Mullen, Bonel Obradovic, Sebastian Ryall, Alex Sunasky, Matthew Theodore, Jerrad Tyson (all Australian Institute of Sport), Tahj Minniecon (Queensland Roar), Matthew Mullen (Adelaide United), Andrew Redmayne (Central Coast Mariners) and Jason Hoffman (uncontracted).
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
The Dorrien Gardens clash between third-placed Perth S.C. and table-toppers Floreat Athena is the www.footballwa.net Match of the Week. Both teams mad surprise exits from the Cup last weekend and are keen to bounce straight back. Perth boasts the best defensive record in the Premier League thanks to the combined efforts of Michael Icanovski, Trent Kay and goalkeeper Gareth Deeg. In all likelihood the game will be decided across the middle where Robbie Puca, Antonio Naglieri and Todd Howarth operate. Add to the mix forwards Barry Wood and Andreas Oliviera and it's clearer Perth aren't someone you take lightly.
Boima Karpeh has been in sensational goalscoring touch this year, and in partnership with Branimir Mikulic forms the competition's most lethal strike force. Like Perth, the key to Floreat's game is quality service coming out of midfield where Josip Madgic, Adam Bachiller and Miki Vujacic continually menace the opposing defence. Former South Melbourne player Ante Kovacevic has formed a strong understanding with local products Julian Madaschi and John Migas, and together they'll be focused on quelling a very dangerous home attack.
There's an intriguing showdown at Macedonia Park where Stirling Lions host Cockburn City. Confidence at Stirling has sky-rocketed after last weeks Cup defeat of Perth, whereas Scott Miller's team need to claim all three points in order to keep the pressure on the leaders. Western Knights should pick up a win from their trip to Armadale. E.C.U. Joondalup welcome Inglewood United to the northern suburbs for an important mid-table meeting, while Fremantle Spirit square off with Sorrento at the WA Spanish club. Wanneroo City are in with a chance of registering their first win of the campaign against a Swan I.C. side that has collected one point from seven away games this year.
In pick of the First Division action pits leader Mandurah City against second placed Ashfield at Peelwood Parade. A home win will take Mandurah one step closer to their first major trophy, whereas Ashfield need the points just to remain an outside chance of catching their opponent. Canning City are tipped to win when they travel to Queens Park, likewise South West Phoenix who venture to Forrestfield United. Balcatta welcome Morley Windmills to Graham Burkett Reserve, and Frank Drago Reserve is venue for Bayswater City against Dianella White Eagles. Rockingham City take on Gosnells City in the bottom of the table fixture at Dowling Street Reserve.
FREMANTLE COACHES TRUST WAS WELL PLACED
Fremantle Spirit’s youngsters have repaid the faith placed in them by Marc Wingell and Allan Pottier by all but assuring a place in next years top flight. The port side were expected to struggle on their Premier League return but have proved the critics wrong by remaining focused on the task at hand. “Marc and Pottsy believed in us right from the start,” explained Fremantle midfielder Simon Elton-Bott. “We might have a young team but the coaches said from day one that if we played the way they asked then we would match it with any team in the league.”
Elton-Bott is very much a product of the Fremantle club. He played youth and reserve team football for the port side, helping them to League and Cup success, and enhanced his reputation by gaining State youth team honours. However, the defender was almost lost to the game after Fremantle ended season 2005 at the foot of the Premier League table. “When Fremantle were relegated I felt I needed a break from football,” he admits. “But when the next pre-season began I realised how much I missed playing so gave the club a call and headed back.”
The decision to stick with Fremantle has certainly paid off for Elton-Bott who last season played an integral role in Fremantle’s capture of the First Division championship. For Fremantle’s top flight return coach Marc Wingell has handed the 23-year old a new role in the team. “Marc has me playing defensive midfield and I’ve been fairly happy with my form so far,” said Elton-Bott. “My job is to sit just in front of the back four and screen the defence and help them out as much as I can. I’m used to playing as a central defender so this has been a good change for me and I’m enjoying it.”
The experience and leadership of Alex Christie and Dale Wingell has been vital to a young Fremantle side over the past couple of seasons. “They are both very important players for the club and are held in the highly of regard by the rest of the squad,” Elton-Bott explained. “As a team we don’t have a experience in the top flight so Alex and Dale have helped us immensely. Alex is a rock in defence and great at keeping us organised, while Dale is a good leader for the team, his experience and physical presence makes a world of difference in the middle of the park.”
The future is bright for Fremantle according to Elton-Bott who sees a lot of positives from their young squad being able to mature and develop as a group. “We’ve got a good bunch of players at Fremantle,” he said. “We’ve gelled really well as a team and work hard together to make sure we get the job done on match day. There’s a strong sense of comraderie, all the boys get on really well with each other on and off the park. By having a young squad we’re going to be able to develop our game together and that can only be a good thing for the future of the club.”
A lot has changed for Fremantle and Sorrento since they met some two and half months ago and Saturday’s game at the WA Spanish Club offers both a chance to get a few more points on the board. “The last time we won was against Sorrento so this is an important game for us,” commented Elton-Bott. “Sorrento sits just underneath us on the ladder and have been playing well of late, but we’re determined not to be overtaken by them. We’ve set ourselves the realistic goal of getting a new more wins on the board in the last weeks of the season to remain in the middle of the table.”
SCHOOLBOYS SELECTION COMPLETES THOMPSONS’ RECOVERY
John Curtin Senior High School student Craig Thompson was over the moon when he made the final cut for the 2007 West Australian Schoolboys. The 17-year old defender, who plays his club football for Western Knights, says gaining Schoolboys selection is a sign his career is back on track following serious injury mid last year. “It’s always a great honour to be selected for the State but this one is special because I broke my leg last July and it’s a good indication that I’m back to where I was before that injury,” Thompson said.
Thompson owes a debt of gratitude to both John Curtin SHS as well as the National Training Centre in aiding his recovery. “Without the extra training provided by John Curtin and the NTC, I don’t think I would have made it back so soon,’ he said. “To be fully recovered and back playing at a top level in such a short period of time has been really exciting. When I was stuck on the side of the park watching it felt like ages. I played my first game on a school trip to Singapore in late November, four months after breaking my leg, and things have been on the up ever since.”
The past few months have been a busy period for the Schoolboys as they prepare for next weeks’ Schools National Championship in Darwin. “Since the squad was named we’ve been getting together every Wednesday,” explained Thompson. “We train one week and play a game the next, but as the tournament gets nearer we’ve been playing games more often. There were a couple of friendlies against the NTC squad where with us winning one and drawing the other, and we also beat Swan I.C. reserves. During trials we played practice games against reserve teams from Stirling Lions and Inglewood United.”
The sixteen-player squad, drawn from eight different clubs, has gelled into a cohesive unit during the past few months and possesses the flexibility required to be successful at the nationals. “The side is squad is fitting together nicely and each player is more than capable of doing any job on the park,” said Thompson. “There have been some positive signs from the friendlies with players linking up well and some good, attractive football played. If you didn’t know the team has been playing together for only a short time you wouldn’t guess it.”
Both the playing and coaching staff of the 2007 Schoolboys have their sights trained on returning from Darwin with a medal, preferably one coloured gold. “There’s a strong desire from the boys to win we want to come back to Perth with a medal,” Thompson explained. “Some of the players even have dared to think once or twice about Australian Schoolboys selection - that’s how high we have set the bar for ourselves. And the coaches feel there’s no reason we can’t win the gold medal based on the way we’ve been playing in friendlies.”
Shane Lowry made his senior debut in Aston Villa's overnight win against Stoke City. The former E.C.U. Joondalup youth team player came off the bench 73 minutes into the pre-season friendly which ended 2-0 in favour of Villa. 18-year old Lowry wasted no time in getting involved and four minutes after replacing Steve O'Halloran played a role in Gabby Agbonlahor scoring the sealing goal.
Wanneroo City needs a miracle to avoid becoming the first team in sixteen years to go a full season of top flight football without victory. The last side to achieve this was Kelmscott Roos who went winless over the winter of 1991 when, interestingly, that years' minor premier were current table topper Floreat Athena. Only three other teams have completed a season without winning a single game, namely Cracovia (1964), Julia (1965) and North Perth (1966).
E.C.U. Joondalup have added goalkeeper Gary Kent to their playing roster. Kent has been signed as cover for Andy Petterson, who is currently receiving treatment on a troublesome hamstring, and following the expiration of Aleks Vrteski’s loan from Perth Glory. Should Kent be called up for Saturday’s home game against Inglewood United he’ll become the fifth goalkeeper to play for Joondalup in eight weeks after Petterson, Brynn Hindley, veteran Alan Young, and Vrteski.
Dianella White Eagles have withdrawn their Under-18 side from the First Division competition. The club took the only available course of action following a series of off-field indiscretions by players from their youth team. The last straw came a fortnight ago when Dianella players confronted the referee after the home draw with Balcatta. Football West has voided the results of all games involving Dianella’s Under-18’s this season and replaced them with a bye.
ROBINSON THE FINAL PIECE IN GLORY’S PUZZLE
Perth Glory will complete their squad for the 2007/08 season pending the approval of a visa for English striker James Robinson. The former Melbourne Victory player trialled in Perth a month ago and has returned to Western Australia at the conclusion of his short term contract with New South Wales Premier League outfit Marconi Stallions. Glory have lodged Robinson's registration paperwork and is awaiting visa clearance before officially adding the striker to their squad.
Glory coach Ron Smith has monitored Robinson for some time and is confident he'll compliment the teams' new look attack. "James is quick, can read the play well and will add another quality option in front of goal for us," Smith said. "We have a good combination of speedy forwards that can evade defenders and catch them on the break plus some big bodies who can win the ball in the air. We have endeavoured to have a variety of options in all positions across the pitch and James will be that final piece in our attack this season."
A product of Crewe Alexandra's youth system, Robinson made 15 first team appearances for the English club before before released in 2005. A four month stint in Iceland preceded his signing for Altrincham where the attacking midfielder played 13 times in the Football Conference. The 24-year old moved down under in early 2006 and initially played at State League level for Richmond Eagles. He turned out on seven occasions at the tail end of the 2006/07 A-League season with Melbourne Victory.
KNIGHTS FIND THE SCORING TOUCH
There are bound to be a few more smiles on the faces of the Western Knights' faithful following the return to form of strike partners Stuart Montgomery and John Thornley. The pair have each battled injury this year with Montgomery hampered by a series of niggling hamstring complaints whereas Thornley was reportedly set to miss the entire season with a groin problem. However, having overcome these setbacks, the Montgomery-Thornley combination is again wreaking havoc on opposition defences.
In the four outings since Montgomery and Thornley were re-united they've shared seven goals, and assisted many more. "It's a pretty good return from us and it's great having John up there with me again after having so long out of the game," said Montgomery, the Knights' elder statesman. "Playing with John has put an extra zip in my step. I had a very good partnership with Carl Medica a few years back and that same understanding is there with John - we just seem to know where each other is and is going to be."
It's a sentiment shared by Thornley who is thrilled to be back out on the park scoring goals. "It's great to finally be injury free and to be finding the back of the net again is pleasing," Thornley commented. "Monty and I really hit it off before I was injured and that's continued in the past month as though I hadn't been away. It's something I can't explain, he seems to know instinctively were I am and I know where he is ... we work well together and long may it continue."
Montgomery feels strongly that his strike partner has the ability to make his mark at a higher level, be it in the A-League or overseas. "John is a very good player with so much potential," he said. "If his body holds up I can see him playing at a higher level as he has all the attributes to make a name for himself. He is strong and quick and he definitely knows where the goals are, and he is always wanting to improve his game and listens closely to what I have to say."
Two years ago Thornley trialled with success in England only to have his chances of earning a contract ruined by back and groin problems. Playing aborad is a dream the 20-year old is not yet prepared to give up on. "I'd love to play overseas, as most youngsters would, but at the moment all I'm concentrating on is playing good football for the Knights," he said. Coaches Ronnie Campbell and Willie Kelly have been great to me and I'd like to repay them with a good end to the season."
The high calibre of young players unearthed by the Knights this year will serve them well in the future according to Montgomery. "There are a lot of good young players at the club right now," he said. "David Price, Anthony Skorich, John Thornley, Scott Bushby and Andrija Jukic are all playing first team, and there is also some outstanding players in the Under-18's such as Michael de Sousza, Matt Allen and Josip Peran. I hope that one day I can sit back and watch some of these guys ply their trade on the big stage."
BALCATTA’S SEASON RUINED BY INJURY
It's unlikely Balcatta will look back on 2007 with any great fondness. The year started out full of optimism for the club who many rated as amongst the frontrunners for the First Division championship. However, a crippling injury toll has forced coach Basil Lenzo to re-assess his plans and put on hold for another Balcatta's push for promotion. "At one time or another we have been without all our senior players through injury," explained Lenzo. "There have been weeks when we've had as many as eight first team players missing, and if we had to play last week we had thirteen players out with soft tissue injuries."
Balcatta's seemingly endless injury list has opened the door for some of the clubs youngster players to stamp their claim in the first team. "The big positive is that we have given the young lads a real go and at different times they have come through with the goods which does augur well for the future," commented Lenzo. "The down side is that we've had to play some boys who are not quite ready for the rigours of a full 90 minutes of first team football. With that sort of pressure come mistakes and our inconsistency has meant we've dropped games that we really should have won."
Big losses to South West Phoenix (7-1) and Dianella White Eagles (5-1) would have many coaches concerned but not Lenzo who is hopeful this trend will end against Morley Windmills on the weekend. "Phoenix played the best football we have seen all year and simply punished our defensive errors, and anyone at the Dianella game would have seen that we gave the game away with basic defensive errors," said the coach. "We've severely missed Tony Cumace and Christian Debarro of late but they'll be back in the line-up against Morley. And we'll see on Saturday if the players have learnt from their mistakes of the last few weeks."
Two-thirds of the way through the season Balcatta unexpectedly find themselves in seventh position, close to twenty points behind the leader Mandurah City. Lenzo believes strongly in the ability of his players and says a final placing much higher on the table isn't out of the question. "It's always about a top four finish and with eight games remaining that opportunity still exists for us, " said the coach. "Our main aim is to achieve that, however, we are also looking to blood some of the younger 16 and 17 year old players such as Daniel Riccardello, Adam Stillitano, Ogi Randonic, Michael Italiano and Alex Billy."
Lenzo sees no reason why Mandurah won't finish the job they started and win this First Division title. "They have a great side and are probably one of the best team I have seen in this league for some time. Mandurah have always had one eye on moving up to the Premier League and full credit to them," he said. "The league is definitely stronger this year and anyone on their day is capable of beating their opposition. Phoenix and Morley have really stood out in terms of improvement but that should not take away the fact that all teams have really lifted the standard."
SMITH SEES RED OVER GLORY’S RAW DEAL
Ron Smith has condemned the pre-season Cup's points-for-goals bonus system after Perth Glory slipped to second place in their four team group, despite a superior home-and-away record to top side Adelaide United. Goals from Nikita Rukavytsya and Jamie Harnwell extended Glory's unbeaten streak to three games, however, they will be away for the fourth successive week for Saturday's semi-final clash with Central Coast Mariners.
Smith is far from impressed with a system that rewards teams an extra point for scoring two goals, two points for three goals and three points for three goals or more. "It distorts football in my view, but I don't make the rules so we have to wear it," he commented. "The object is to win the game. You are trying to score goals anyway, so I don’t see why you should be rewarded (with extra points) for it. If anything, you should get something (extra) for winning away games."
Under normal rules, Glory, who won two games and drew one, would have topped their group and earned a home semi-final. But Adelaide, who won one match and drew their other two, benefited from the bonus-points system designed to spice up the competition. They picked up an extra three points for the goals they scored in a 4-1 win over Newcastle Jets on Friday to equal Glory's eight-point haul, and secured top spot on goal difference.
VELAPHI HOPES HARD WORK WILL PAY OFF
Competition for the coveted number one spot at Perth Glory will be intense this season. Busy staking their claim are Tommi Tomich, Tando Velaphi and Aleks Vrteski, while expected back from injury next month is veteran shot-stopper Jason Petkovic. “Everyone’s working pretty hard to fight for that first spot,” commented Velaphi. “I guess at the moment we just keep working hard at training and in the pre-season games and whoever is performing will get it I suppose.”
An Australian youth international, Velaphi is focusing on learning the finer points of his trade. “I just have keep working hard at my game with Tony Franken and train and perform,” said the 20-year old. “I’ll just sort of take it every day as it comes. I’m still young and I’ve got Tommi with me and Petka to ask questions, and they can try and help me out. Aleks Verteski has played a few games as well and he’s someone my age that I can relate to with the things we’re going through.”
Velaphi believes a number of key off-season recruits will provide Glory with the firepower to put themselves in final contention. “The pre-season is going really, really well,” he said. “We’ve got quite a different look to the team this year with a lot of new signings. We’ve got Foxey (Hayden Foxe) in there and Mate Dragicevic, the big striker, and Nick Rizzo. It’s been good to be able to finally get the whole team together. We’ll get a few more goals and hopefully push for the finals.”
AMATEUR PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND FOURTEEN (Shamrock Rovers v WA Maccabi courtesy Football West)
Shamrock Rovers continued their incredible run of form with a 3-1 victory over WA Maccabi in the Amateur Premier League clash at Harold Rossiter Reserve. Maccabi grabbed the lead with only a few minutes gone as Mitch Partridge played through to Johnny Hesselberg who placed his shot past the advancing goalkeeper. The goal quickly awoke Shamrock who equalised in the 23rd minute when a Keith Roche cross was headed firmly inside the post by Elliot Wilkinson from 9-metres. Shamrock soon went ahead with Wilkinson tapping in from close-range right on the stroke of half-time after a shot from distance deflected into his path.
Glen Brooks showed exquisite skill in taming the ball with his chest before crashing a low shot goalward which the Maccabi ‘keeper moved sharply to save. The visitors had little to show for all their hard work in the second half with their best chance being Warren Dworcan’s free-kick from 22-metres which Ed Schuller knocked around the post. Shamrock made the result safe through Stephen Roche who found the net in the 71st minute when his cross got a kind deflection off a defender and travelled straight into the top corner, leaving the ‘keeper with no chance. The home side had one last chance to go further in front through Marcus Jordan when he knocked the ball down on the edge of the box but his fast-paced shot flashed narrowly high.
Fremantle United defeated South Perth United 1-0 to remain the competitions’ only unbeaten team after fourteen rounds. Murdoch University edged past Subiaco United 2-1, while Lynwood Colts got over the line by 3-2 away to Stirling Panthers. Fifth place is occupied by Hamersley Rovers who downed a resilient Perth Azzurri 2-1. Southern Spirit were humbled 0-3 by visiting Spearwood Dalmatinac. CN Canning International shared the points with University of WA at 3-3. Kingsway Olympic rarely looked to be in trouble when they knocked over Suburbs United 7-3.
GLORY CLAIM VICTORY OVER MELBOURNE
Perth Glory have completed the initial phase stage of the pre-season Cup without defeat after accounting for Melbourne Victory 2-1 at the Darwin Football Stadium. Goals from Nikita Rukavytsya and Jamie Harnwell extended Glory's unbeaten run to three game, and cancelled out a stunning first-half strike by Carlos Hernandez. Ron Smith was delighted with his teams' performance which opened the Darwin Football Stadium. "The stadium was terrific, it was an exciting game with plenty of chances and I'm sure that everyone who came to the ground would have thoroughly enjoyed themselves," he enthused. "I'm very pleased with the efforts of the boys tonight and the fact that we have been able to string some good results together."
The early exchanges were lively as both teams set about the task at hand. The first meaningful shot came from Naum Sekulovski whose fierce volley flashed just wide of the target. Glory thought they'd won a penalty shortly after when Daniel Piorkowski brought down Rukavytsya, however, referee Peter Green dismissed the claim. Simon Colosimo was fortunate not to head into his own net on 17 minutes when Kaz Patafta delivered a superb cross into the 18-yard box. The game opened up as the pace quicken and Leo Bertos rifled narrowly wide, while at the opposite end an alert Tando Velaphi denied Leigh Broxham. The deadlock was broken on 34 minutes when Hernandez' shot from 25-metres gave Velaphi no chance as it soared into the top corner.
Colosimo was the architect of Glory's equaliser seven minutes into the second half by playing the ball through to Rukavytsya who sprinted clear before tucking his shot past Michael Theoklitos. Victory then took things up a notch as Danny Allsopp and Patafta combined well in attack but were unable to convert chances into goals, while Hernandez send a free-kick high from just outside the 18-yard box. A well crafted counter-attack put Glory ahead on 70 minutes with Rukavytsya providing a pinpoint cross that Harnwell volleyed in from close-range. Glory went close to adding a third ten minutes later when Rukavytsya's shot deflected off Rodrigo Vargas and almost lobbing the stranded Theoklitos. Velaphi made sure Glory would end on top by denying Adrian Caceres and Hernandez in the closing minutes.
ASSOCIATION CUP, ROUND THREE
Cockburn City marched into the Cup semi-finals by fending off a desperate Floreat Athena 2-1 at Dalmatinac Park. A goal either side of the break from Johnny Mirco put Cockburn in a commanding position before Josip Magdic pulled a goal back with ten minutes remaining to set up a tense finish. Little separated the regular seasons’ top two teams in a tight opening spell that had the respective defences on top. In fact it wasn’t until the 38th minute that the first genuine shot on goal arrived through Stefan Smiljanic who found space inside the 18-yard box but placed high and wide. Cockburn may not have threatened until just before the break but the finish from Johnny Mirco was clinical after he played a neat one-two with Dominic De Felice to open up the visiting defence. Mirco was proving difficult to contain and eight minutes into the second half he increased the difference with a cool finish after an unselfish lay-off by Josh Kamasz. Ten minutes later Mirco could have had his hat-trick when he beat the offside trap but struck his shot into the body of goalkeeper Vas Vujacic. Floreat coach Michael Roki brought Magdic off the bench to inject some fight into a flat Floreat attack and his presence on the park was imminent. With only fifteen minutes to play Miki Vujacic played a corner to the far post where Magdic crashed the ball past goalkeeper Dino Pacella. Floreat threw everything forward in their quest to equalise, however, the defence of Shane Nunes, Liam Lily and captain Jason Godfrey had other plans and continually turned away their opponents attacking thrusts. In stoppage time Boima Karpeh, who’d been tightly marked by Lilly, finally managed to put the ball in the net only for the referee to disallow his effort for offside. Seconds later the final whistle was greeted by wild celebrations from a jubilant home crowd.
Swan I.C. remains on course for their fourth Cup final appearance in five years after defeating Armadale 3-1 in a pulsating quarter-final encounter at Alfred Skeet Oval. An early shot by David Foster was deflected wide as Swan set about taking the upper hand in blustery conditions. Solid defensive work kept goalscoring opportunities to a few scattered shots from distance, none of which really tested either goalkeeper. In the 37th minute Ben Howe was brought down just outside the 18-yard box by Aaron Cole, and Scott Paterson brilliantly swung the free-kick past the defensive wall and into the net. A minute later Foster brought the teams level after referee Troy Miller awarded a controversial penalty when Tom Shepheard went down while contesting with Daryl Platten and goalkeeper Matthew Johnson. Shepheard was thwarted by the ‘keeper in a one-on-one minutes after the interval, and Damien Scali rifled narrowly high of the crossbar as Swan went in search of a second goal. A long-range strike by Neil Gawley whizzed just wide as Armadale broke on the counter attack. Swan’s dominance was rewarded on the hour when Brendan Knox’ in-swinging corner was met by Shepheard who powered his header past Johnson. It could have been game over shortly after but Platten deflected wide a goalbound shot by Foster. The big crowd were on the edge of their seats as Knox fired wide from close-range, then Steven Sikiladis did the same at the opposite end. The momentum was with Armadale going into the closing stages and only a full-stretch Cory Hugo denied Dusan Macura. Rob Crerar sent Goodwin clear but the attacker sent the ball wide, Ben Howe did likewise from 14-metres, and Darren Kingston nodded past the post from Gawley’s delivery. These misses would haunt the home side as, in stoppage time, Dejan Djukanovic put the result beyond doubt by netting at close-range after Damien Catalano’s corner was spilled by the ‘keeper.
Inglewood United moved into the last four with a 6-2 demolition of Mandurah City at Clipsal Stadium. It took the home team just 5 minutes to go ahead through Daniel Niederberger who stabbed in from 15-metres after goalkeeper Mike Green parried a shot from Mladen Kovacevic into the strikers path. The margin was doubled three minutes later when Jason Colli’s cross from the right was knocked down by Niederberger to Mladen Kovacevic who made no mistake at close range. Mandurah were finding it difficult to match their top flight opponents whose third goal came via an exquisite cross by Colli which fell perfectly for Niederberger who capitalised on a dishevelled defence. Gary Attrill gave the visitors a lifeline in the 26th minute by putting a loose ball away from 7-metres after Oliver Taseski brilliantly saved a Christian Paschkewitz shot. Further chances were created at both ends of the park leading into the break but, with the two defences standing firm, there would be addition to the scoreline. Any hopes Mandurah had to causing an upset were put to rest eight minutes into the second half when Mladen Kovacevic squared to an unmarked James Sammut who fired past a helpless ‘keeper from 10-metres. Inglewood should have had a fifth goal when Alex Stamatiadis’ cross found substitute Albert Osei-Tutu free at the far post but the striker inexplicably nodded wide of an unguarded net. Osei-Tutu made amended in the 77th minute when he skilfully found a way past the ‘keeper and knocked the ball into an open goal after being played in behind by Niederberger. Two minutes later Osei-Tutu was presented with a simple tap-in at point blank range courtesy of Sammut’s cross from the left. Mandurah scored themselves a consolation goal with eight minutes as Jordan Rhodes’ cross from the left found Graeme Matthews who unselfishly played across to Bright to fire past Taseski.
A long-range strike by substitute Alan Muir saw Stirling Lions edge out a ten-man Perth S.C. 1-0 at Dorrien Gardens. The game looked destined for a penalty shoot-out when Muir unleashed a low shot which somehow found its way into the net through a crowded area. Perth came out firing on all cylinders and Barry Wood poked just past the post after pouncing on an under hit back pass. Although slow to get out of first gear, Stirling were unlucky not to go ahead on 14 minutes when Phil Arnold’s cross narrowly evaded the outstretched boot of Tommy Jones. Eleven minutes later referee Ton Klaver took centre stage when he red carded Gianfranco Circati for an innocuous tackle on Jones. Going down to ten men didn’t interrupt Perth’s rhythm and in the 37th minute Wood and Puca combined to tee-up Antonio Naglieri whose low drive was blocked by the legs of Phil Straker. Stirling responded in kind through an excellent cross field pass by Arnold to Ludovic Boi who squeezed his shot just wide under pressure from Michael Icanovski. The second half saw both teams adopt a more cautious approach and tight defending meant genuine chances became even scarcer. Robbie Puca was pulling the midfield strings for Perth whereas Stirling were lead from the middle by the tireless Steve Porter. Todd Howarth’s foul on Arnold provided Stirling a golden opportunity to settle the tie late in regulation time, however, Kevin Henderson’s effort from the penalty spot cannoned back off the upright. Tensions were heightened in extra-time as play swung from end to end and both sides searched for the decisive goal. The final drama unfolded on 117 minutes when a partially cleared corner was lashed into the bottom corner by Muir from 20-metres, much to the delight of the visiting supporters.
FIRST DIVISION, ROUND SEVENTEEN Canning City v Bayswater City by Phil Unsworth)
Canning City and Bayswater City played out a tight 3-3 draw at Willetton Sports Club in a match brought forward from Round Seventeen. Lacklustre defending complemented by a questionable refereeing allowed Bayswater to race to a two-goal lead inside twenty minutes. The opening goal arrived on 12 minutes when goalkeeper Devon Spence handled a back pass, Bobby Klenkloski’s free-kick cannoned back off the defensive wall to Damir Kudozovic who headed the rebound into the roof the net. Five minutes later Canning failed to deal with a long throw-in from the right which somehow found it’s way to Blaz Radanovich who volleyed in from 5-metres. Canning clawed their way back into the game when an unchallenged Dave Mickler got onto the end of a cross to head in at the far post. Adrian Sutton restored the visitors two-goal buffer by tapping in at close-range after Spence spilled a powerful shot by Jamie Kumkar. Canning responded in a similar fashion as Mickler’s shot was parried by Gianni Papalia into the path of Kyle Mitsopoulos who rounded the ‘keeper before netting. The solitary goal of the second period came on 67 minutes when Mickler’s pass across the top of the 18-yard box was controlled by Mitsopoulos who drilled the ball past a diving ‘keeper from 15-metres.
HARNWELL VOWS TO STRIKE BACK
Jamie Harnwell is ready to continue his transformation from defender to striker after confirming this week he will remain with the club for the coming A-League season. The 30-year old, who spent most of the past nine years playing in the heart of Glory's defence, has set his sights on topping the club's scoring charts in the face of competition from import Mate Dragicevic and youngster Nikita Rukavytsya.
Despite finishing as top scorer for the team last season, Harnwell was told by coach Ron Smith in January that he should consider options elsewhere. But after proposed moves to Swiss club Vaduz and A-League rival Adelaide United fell through, Harnwell again approached Smith about his playing future. "I've been pretty happy with the way I've played up front in the last couple of games, so I had a good chat with him. I asked for a fair go this season and he said I'd get one," Harnwell said.
The Glory veteran of 188 games could not be happier about staying with the club he's played for since 1998. "I always wanted to stay at Perth - I love the club," he said. "I'm looking at it as a huge bonus to be staying with my friends and family and hopefully showing them what I can do up front instead of at the back." Harnwell is determined to prove he's an important member of the team and has taken on extra training in a bid to reach new levels of fitness.
Harnwell has started in attack in Glory's two pre-season cup matches but this weeks' arrival of Dragicevic from Croatia is likely to see him drop down the pecking order. Harnwell said he would turn to Glory's assistant coach Dave Mitchell, a former Socceroos striker, for tips on playing up front. "I'd like to think that if I'm given the chance I can finish top scorer again this season," Harnwell commented.
CACERES HEADS HOME
Melbourne Victory midfielder Adrian Caceres is looking forward to heading back to where it all began. The 25-year old is likely to start up front for the reigning champions when they tackle his former club Perth Glory in Darwin tomorrow. Caceres took up football as a youngster in the top end and hopes the trip 'home' will be a hit. "When we came out to Australia we landed in Darwin and spent three years there. It was a very good three years of my life. Obviously I was still really young but it's where I started playing soccer," Caceres said.
Argentine-born Caceres is looking forward to fine tuning his form in this weekend's clash with Glory, for whom he played 61 games over three seasons. "It is getting there - I don't think I am 100% yet, I don't think the team is 100% yet," Caceres said. "That is why this is pre-season and the more games we get under our belts closer to the season we will be 100% and ready to go." Caceres said Victory would head to Darwin to win the contest with Perth, but had bigger fish to fry. "We're going to focus on the first game of the season because that is where it counts," he added.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
The cut-throat world of knock-out football takes centre stage this weekend with the quarter-finals of the 2007 Soccer Pools Cup. Alfred Skeet Oval hosts the second meeting of Armadale and Swan I.C. in the pace of eight days. Armadale will rely on Dusan Macura, Darryl Platten and Matt Bennion to negate the Swan attack, while going the other way the efforts of Scott Devine, Steven Skilandis and Darren Kingston will be crucial in determining the outcome. Cup football is regarded as Swans specialty area and last weekend's 3-1 win provides them a timely morale boost. David Foster looms as the danger man up front with the supply from midfield provided by David Perich and Damian Scali. Teenager David McNally, Aaron Cole and goalkeeper Corey Hugo form the basis of a strong defence.
The two past Cup holders, Perth S.C. and Stirling Lions, square off at Dorrien Gardens. Some indifferent league form has seen the Blues' title hopes face so Graham Normanton's side will view the knock-out competition as a prime opportunity to end 2007 with a trophy. Perth's accounted for Ashfield and Sorrento in previous rounds, and head into the weekend buoyed by a six-goal thrashing of Inglewood United. Fresh in Stirling minds will be their trip to Perth earlier in the month when they became the first visiting team this year to win at Dorrien Gardens. Mike Lyons' young team is still licking their wounds from a big loss at Floreat Athena, and will need to be on top of their game to advance to the next stage.
Cockburn City and Floreat Athena are brought together in the top of the table clash at Dalmatinac Park. Confidence will be sky-high for Scott Miller's side which hasn't lost in ten weeks and are undefeated at home in 2007. They'll be looking for big efforts from a defence marshalled by Dino Pacella and Jason Godfrey as well as the attacking prowess of Jason Dos Santos, Dean Wallace and Josh Kamasz. But to progress to the last four they'll need to get past a Floreat side which is top of the Premier League table and yet to lose away from home. While they possess quality players all over the park, the key to Michael Roki's team is a central core of Ante Kovacevic, Josip Magdic, Miki Vujacic, Branimir Miklulic and goalscoring extraordinaire Boima Kareph.
The first ever game between Inglewood United and Mandurah City takes place at Clipsal Stadium. On paper Inglewood have one of the most talented squads in the State League, however, so far they really have struggled to convert that potential into success. The indications are Bobby Despotovski’s team have turned things around over the past six weeks and they know they’ll need to be tip top form to beat Mandurah and keep alive their trophy dreams. Breakaway First Division leader Mandurah aren’t to be taken lightly having claimed the scalp of E.C.U. Joondalup in the last round of Cup fixtures. Stuart Currie will be happy with the underdog tag that’s been placed on his team that’s won each of their past ten outings.
MANDURAH’S SUCCESS DOESN’T SURPRISE MATTHEWS
With only a handful of games remaining Mandurah City are well on course to claim their first major trophy, the 2007 First Division championship. Underpinning the clubs stellar season has been a strong sense of self-belief as versatile midfielder Graeme Matthews explains. “I don’t think anyone at Mandurah is surprised by how well the year has gone so far,” he said. “We’ve always known we were a good team and this year we getting the results we want whereas in the past we were playing well but coming out with nothing to show for it.”
According to Matthews, the main difference between the Mandurah version 2007 and those of previous winters are the new approach and increased options brought on by greater depth. “Stu Currie has come in as coach and instilled more intensity in our play,” said Matthews, now in his third season with Mandurah. “He also signed some quality players over the summer - Scott Halpin, Jordan Rhodes, Jeff Bright, James Hesketh, Shane Crampton, Andy Pomfret and Jason Carmichael - who have blended really well with the existing player group and given us more depth.”
While Matthews has enjoying playing a number of different positions this season, he admits he’s not been entirely happy with his game. “Stu has seemingly had me play every role he could think of with the exception of in goal. I’ve really been enjoying the variety and as long as I’m getting a game I’m happy to do whatever job the coach asks of me,” commented the 26-year old . “But I can not honestly say that I’ve been playing as well as I would have liked to. I’ve had a couple of good games but I feel the consistency has been missing.”
Mandurah have lived up to pre-season expectations but while promotion to the top flight looks a mere formality, Matthews says they aren’t counting their chickens just yet. “It sounds like an old cliché but at the moment we’re approaching each game ‘one at a time’,” he said. The current round is always the most important and although we’re top of the table we actually have achieved anything yet. The likes of Ashfield and Canning are always going to be right behind us, and there are a few other teams that are capable of taking points off of us if we go into games showing any complacency.”
A trip to Clipsal Stadium for the Cup quarter-final clash with Inglewood United awaits Mandurah on Saturday. “We’ll be taking a fairly relaxed approach to the Inglewood game,” explained Matthews, who played his part in Mandurah’s dramatic 4-3 second round win over E.C.U. Joondalup. “The important thing for the club this year is to do well in the League. The pressure really isn’t on us to perform in the Cup, we’re not expected to win and will go out there and experiment a little. That said, if our match with Joondalup is anything to go by then the Inglewood game should be an absolute cracker.”
Perth Glory's new-look strike force of Nikita Rukavytsya and Mate Dragicevic shared all four goals in last nights' 4-1 practice match win over Western Knights last night. Played behind closed doors at Members Equity Stadium, the friendly provided Glory boss Ron Smith an opportunity to experiment with team formations in a variety of match situations. Glory's superior fitness saw them overrun the Knights in the final fifteen minutes with Rukavytsya piling on three unanswered goals.
2006 Golden Boot winner David Dugdale has called an early end to his season. The Stirling Lions attacker has been sidelined for the better part of a month with a knee injury. Unfortunately the injury hasn't responded to treatment leading Dugdale to opt for a return to England where he plans to undergo the surgeon's knife to alleviate the problem. Dugdale, Stirlings' leading goalscorer this year, is making plans to head back to the club in time for next season.
Inglewood United has secured the services of exciting 19-year old Matt Wardle for the remainder of 2007. The versatile teenager has made his way back to Perth after playing the past couple of years with Scottish club Livingston where he featured regularly for the Under-19 side. Wardle, a former State youth team representative, was recently invited to trial for Perth Glory on their pre-season trip of Malaysia.
John Paroci and Zoran Radic have been installed as the new coach team of Bayswater City. The pair step up from reserve team duties to take over the reigns from former Patrick Thistle and Falkirk player Willie Herd, who resigned in the wake of Saturday’s loss to Ashfield. Touted in pre-season as potential title material, Bayswater have struggled for consistency and two-thirds through the campaign are placed third from bottom with just four wins from fourteen starts.
CUP GLORY INGLEWOOD’S TARGET
Inglewood United will be going all out to win this weekend's Cup clash with Mandurah City and keep alive their hopes of ending the year with a trophy. Tough tackling defender Danny Kovacevic says the inner city club are determined to erase the memory of a sluggish start to the home and away series which ruined Inglewood's title aspirations. "Our early season form wasn't the best, mainly due to a lack of confidence and ability to play as a team, but we've got things back on track in the past month and a place in the last four of the Cup is our if we want it," commented Kovacevic.
Early season losses to Western Knights, Cockburn City, Floreat Athena, Perth S.C. and Stirling Lions made for a tough start to the year for Inglewood. "And it's difficult to turn things around when you're losing one week after another," Kovacevic commented. "Through hard work we strung together five wins in a row are now playing with greater confidence and cohesion ... we've always had talent within the squad and that's now showing on match day. One problem area has been a lack of goals and that's also changing with Daniel Niederberger putting a few away and Bobby Despotovski is good for at least a goal a game."
At the cornerstone of Inglewood's return to form has been a stable defensive line. "Our backline has remained pretty much the same with Oliver Taseski in goal, and Shane Pryce, Danny Stoitis and myself as the back three," said Kovacevic. "It's been important to keep some consistency in the team, and in doing that with the defence we've been able to build from there. Oli and Stoits have probably been two of our better players this year and Prycey's experience is invauable. Add into the mix Shaun Kilkelly's return from injury and a couple the younger guys coming through and we've got some good depth to work with."
Each member of Inglewood's rearguard has something unique to offer the team according to Kovacevic. "Oli is one of the best shot stoppers in the State League and has made some world class saves to keep us in or win matches this year," he said. "Prycey's height and experience are his two biggest assets, he's usually one step ahead of his opponent. Stoits' reading of the play is superb and continually forces his opponent away from goal. We aren't blessed by pace at the back so I'd have to say my speed and strength in man to man marking are the things I add to the side."
This weekend Inglewood have home ground advantage when they meet Mandurah in the last eight of the Cup. Kovacevic admits the First Division leader are largely an unknown quantity to his team but says Inglewood will be taking nothing for granted. "We don't know a great deal about Mandurah but they're obviously a good side - you don't knock off Joondalup and lead the First Division by eight points if you're not good," he said. "We won't being making the mistake of under-estimating Mandurah because they have some very talented players and in the Cup there are no second chances. We'll be going all out to get a win and stay in the hunt to win one piece of silverware this season."
PEARSON AIMS TO IMPRESS
Teenager Ryan Pearson headed overseas in pursuit of life long dream. The 18-year old Armadale striker yesterday departed for England where he has trials lined up with a number of clubs. "I know it will be hard work but it's great to get the opportunity to trial," Pearson commented. "I'll be at Premier League sides Bolton Wanderers first and we'll see how that goes. I've also got trials planned with other Premier League sides, Wigan Athletic and Blackburn Rovers, and League One side Tranmere Rovers."
It's been a roller coaster season for the teenager who only recently reclaimed his spot in the line-up after a recovering from a broken toe. "It's unfortunate that they need me over in the UK for trials so soon and I won't be able to finish the season off for the Reds," Pearson commented. "I'm starting to back into the routine again. I'm just about on top of my game at the moment, and the more I play, and the more match practice I get is making me stronger. I've really enjoyed my time at the club, and I'd like to thank Billy Russell and Tom Kilkelly for their advice they've past on to me this season, and to Peter Murphy for last season."
On behalf of the club, Armadale president Bill Easton wished Pearson all the best in his endeavours while abroad. "It's a dream for players to go overseas for trials and we as a club wish Ryan all the best," commented Easton. "He's worked hard to get back to full fitness after breaking his toe, and although it's unfortunate he can't be in the Reds side this weekend in our quarter-finals cup clash against Swan I.C. it's great for him to have the opportunity in the UK."
MIXED BAG FOR NTC IN CANBERRA
The Institute Challenge has produced mixed results for the Football West National Training Centre squad. The tournament, hosted at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, brings together the finest young talents from around the country under the watchful eye of national youth coaches Martyn Crook and Jean-Paul de Marigny. The NTC defeated Northern New South Wales Institute of Sport, drew with the Queensland Academy of Sport, and lost to the Australian Capital Territory, the South Australian Sports Institute and the New South Wales Institute of Sport while in Canberra last week.
The Australian Capital Territory claimed victory by 2-1 over WA in Friday's opening game. The hosts' came out firing on all cylinders and it was only due to the defensive work of Liam Harvey, Dean Evans and goalkeeper Mark Birighitti that the sides remained on level terms. The deadlock was broken in the 35th minute when a terrific exchange of passes lead to a shot which was deflected past Birighitti in a crowded goalmouth. WA looked to have snatched a point when Eli Babalj equalised in the 85th minute following a fine through ball by John Tancredi. However, within a minute a defensive error gifted the ACT a second goal and victory by 2-1.
WA surrendered a two goal lead to draw 2-2 with Queensland in their second outing of the tournament. A bright opening resulted in Keith Clevenger twice finding the net as the team from the west made the most of their dominance. Queensland worked hard to find a way back into the match but couldn’t break down a WA defence in which Trent Sainsbury was the stand-out. Things unravelled for WA in the closing stages as Queensland put themselves back in the frame by reducing the gap with ten minutes to go. Then shortly before the final whistle an uncharacteristic error by Liam Harvey enabled his opponent to complete their fightback with a dramatic equaliser.
The boys from the west were no match for a strong and physical South Australian opponent who claimed Sunday's game 3-0. South Australia opened their account after 5 minutes from the penalty spot following a foul by Michael Currie. The margin was soon increased when sloppy defending allowed the centre forward to calmly slot past Alex Pearson. Eli Babalj and Trent Sainsbury had goalbound efforts cleared off the line as WA sought to get back in the game. However, South Australia struck for a third time on 25 minutes through a scorching drive from 20-metres. Lead from midfield by Dean Evans and Adam Luca, WA were more involved in the second half but still couldn't fashion a goal of their own with Clayton Arnez and Babalj going closest.
WA's only win while on tour came courtesy of a 2-1 scoreline against Northern New South Wales on Tuesday. The early signs were positive for the west who were rewarded on 25 minutes when Cameron Edwards exquisite pass found Trernt Sainsbury who drive forward to blast into the top corner. Northern NSW countered by piling the pressure on the opposing defence in which Dean Evans, Liam Harvey and Zoran Vrteski stood tall. A scrappy second half was punctuated by a terrific solo run by Clevenger who made his way past a couple of defenders and rounded the 'keeper before drilling in his second goal. A lapse of concentration permitted Northern NSW to grab a late consolation.
The final game of the tour saw WA go down 0-2 to a highly rated New South Wales outfit coached by former Socceroos Jean-Paul de Marigny and Brad Maloney. WA applied good early pressure only to fall behind on 25 minutes through a shot which deflected in off the boot of Liam Harvey. There was very little between the two teams and WA were unlucky not to get back on level terms through Reece Vitiglia whose long range effort came back off the frame of the goal. The second half was much the same with neither team giving an inch as they wrestled for control. Northern NSW made the game safe in the 75th minute by capitalising on a defensive slip.
DRAGICEVIC IN THE GLORY MIX
Perth Glory coach Ron Smith will assess new recruit Mate Dragicevic before deciding whether to include the Croatian striker in the squad for the pre-season Cup clash with Melbourne Victory in Darwin on Saturday. Dragicevic arrived in Perth late last week after overcoming a visa complication which stalled his arrival from Europe. “We’ll see how he pulls up,” Smith said. “Obviously he hasn’t played since we were up in KL and it’s been almost a month, but I think he’ll be okay.”
Dragicevic, who has played for Croatian giants Dinamo Zagreb and Hajduk Split, spent last year in the Russian second division with Khimki before returning home to join NK Pula. Smith said the 28-year-old showed on Glory’s trip to Malaysia last month the poise and composure needed to be a regular provider and scorer of goals. “One of the things about Mate, as he showed in Malaysia, is that if he gets an opportunity around the box he’s got that quality to be able to deliver a good pass to someone rather than to rush things,” he said.
JOONDALUP SPELL DOES VRTESKI WORLD OF GOOD
Spending the winter playing State League football has been a blessing in disguise for Perth Glory goalkeeper Aleks Vrteski. After making ten appearances for Glory in his debut A-League season, the 18-year old answered an S.O.S. call from E.C.U. Joondalup when regular shot-stopper Andy Petterson became injured. And by anchoring the Joondalup Vrteski and underlined why he is considered one of Australia’s best young ‘keepers.
Vrteski rates his performance in Joondalup’s scoreless draw with Perth S.C. amongst his best. “On a personal level, it was probably the best game I’ve played for eighteen months, just in terms of sharpness and the save I made,” Vrteski said. “One of the saves (driven hard to the bottom corner) I probably wouldn’t have got to twelve months ago. It usually would take me a lot longer to react but because of the work I’ve been putting in I’ve got down a lot quicker. I’m a lot fitter, a lot sharper and can recover a lot quicker.”
The free-flowing nature of the State League has helped Vrteski develop his game over the winter months. “Teams would be a lot more strategic in the A-League in the way they attacked the goal because they pass more,” he explained. “But in the local league teams are a lot more direct. Each time they get the ball they look to score. That’s just the mentality of the players because they’ve got nothing to lose. It’s great to be making saves each week and be in situations that you can’t always get at training, so hopefully when you get thrown in the deep end you’ll be able to swim.”
AMATEUR PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND THIRTEEN (University of W.A. v Southern Spirit courtesy Football West)
A late goal earned Southern Spirit a 1-1 draw with University of W.A. from their Amateur Premier League clash at McGillivray Oval. The visitors were outplayed for much of the afternoon before Damien Pescud’s 89th minute equaliser saved them from embarrassment against a University side that started the day in thirteen place. Only 11 minutes had elapsed when University took the lead after a dreadful mix-up in the Spirit defence allowed Neil Hookway to intercept possession and casually finish past goalkeeper Bobson Koroma. Hookway was just inches away from putting the hosts further in front on 23 minutes but his well hit shot from 17-metres sailed narrowly over.
Spirit’s first decent opening arrived in the 61st minute when Pescud’s shot on the turn from 10-metres rolled just past. University almost secured victory in the 87th minute when the ball was played to an unmarked Stone whose firm shot on the run was too close to Koroma. It was a miss that would prove costly as two minutes later Pescud levelled the game by heading powerfully in a cross from the right. The visitors pushed for a stoppage time winner but University held firm despite mounting pressure. The point earned by University is likely to be vital in their uphill battle to avoid relegation, while Spirit’s hopes of catching Group A leader Shamrock Rovers now appear to be over.
Shamrock Rovers remain top of the combined table following a 2-0 win at Spearwood Dalmatinac. Fremantle United, the competition's only unbeaten team, trounced Stirling Panthers 6-0 at Hilton Reserve. Murdoch University were held to a surprise 2-2 draw away at Perth Azzurri. Lynwood Colts took the points over Kingsway Olympic by a 2-1 scoreline, while Suburbs United lost 1-3 at home to Hamersley Rovers. Subiaco United eased past CN Canning International 3-0, and WA Maccabi went down 1-2 to South Perth United when they met at Maccabean Memorial Park.
MATILDAS DEFEAT NEW ZEALAND IN WORLD CUP WARM-UPS
Australia has made a clean sweep of their two-game series with New Zealand in Coffs Harbour. The Matilda's defeated their Trans Tasman rival 3-0 on Thursday, and followed up with a narrow 1-0 victory this afternoon. The practice games served as preparation for Australia's upcoming Olympic qualification games against Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong, as well as the Matilda's appearance at the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup hosted by China in September.
The Matildas claimed a 3-0 victory in the opening match against New Zealand on Thursday. Australia dominated for lengthy periods but were unable to break through with the teams going into the break at nil-all. Sarah Walsh broke the deadlock soon after the interval by netting twice in thirteen minutes. Substitute Lana Harch completed the scoring on 82 minutes. West Australian midfielder Collette McCallum played a full game.
An experimental Australian side edged out New Zealand 1-0 in today's second and final practice match. The only goal came after 24 minutes when speedy striker Lisa DeVanna outpaced the defence following a long clearance by goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri. Australia dominated right up to the final whistle and Kate Gill was unlucky not to increase the difference in the second half after outpacing the defence but lifting her shot high of the crossbar. Former Western Waves striker DeVanna saw out the full 90 minutes.
The Australian women's squad for the Coffs Harbour camp featured Di Alagich, Melissa Barbieri, Ellen Beaumont, Louisa Bisbi, Joanne Burgess, Kim Carroll, Amy Chapman, Lauren Colthorpe, Rhian Davies, Lisa DeVanna, Heather Garriock, Kate Gill, Lana Harch, Lisa Hartley, Collette McCallum, Kate McShea, Caitlin Munoz, Amber Neilson, Joanne Peters, Clare Polkinghorne, Karla Reuter, Cheryl Salisbury, Sally Shipard, Thea Slatyer, Danielle Small, Sarah Walsh, Lydia Williams and Emma Wirkus.
PENALTY HEARTBREAK AS JAPAN OUT-SHOOT AUSTRALIA
Australia's inaugural Asian Cup campaign is over. The Socceroos' early elimination came at the hands of Japan who triumphed in a tense penalty shoot-out after the scores were locked at 1-1 at the end of extra time in Hanoi, Vietnam. John Aloisi gave Australia the lead midway through the second half, but a defensive error only minutes after allowed Naohiro Takahara to level the game. The pivotal moment arrived shortly after when Vince Grella was controversially red carded for elbowing Naohiro Takahara while contesting a header - a decision which was harsh considering the Australian midfielder had eyes only for the ball and wouldn't have even seen his opponent coming from behind him.
Goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi saved spot kicks by Harry Kewell and Lucas Neill to emerge as Japan's hero in the shoot-out. Tim Cahill, Nick Carle and David Carney converted the Socceroos' three remaining kicks to give the side a glimmer of hope, but when Yuji Nakazawa sent Mark Schwarzer the wrong way it was Japan who moved into the last four courtesy of a 3-4 scoreline. Australia coach Graham Arnold was full of praise for his players courage and the way they fought it out in the difficult conditions. "I am proud of their performance, it was a huge effort by the boys," he said straight after the match. "Australia should be very proud, it was not easy in these conditions."
The game failed to reach any great heights with the hot and humid conditions taking their toll on both sets of players. Japan looked the better team when with the ball and went close after 9 minutes when Seiichiro Maki headed just wide of Schwarzer's near post. Australia's best chances came the way of Viduka who twisted past Yasuhito Endo only to fire straight at 'keeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi from 20-metres, and was later about to pull the trigger when Yuji Nakazawa intervened. Japan then had a period of domination in which Yasuhito Endo tested Schwarzer, and Takahara should have done better than place high from close-range.
Clear cut chances were few and far between in the second half for both teams. It took until the 69th minute that the game burst back into life when Aloisi rammed the ball in at the back post after Japan failed to deal with Harry Kewell's fizzing low corner. The lead would last all of three minutes before Takahara capitalised on Mark Milligan's miss-hit clearance by firing past Schwarzer from the top of the 6-yard box. Australia's situation worsened when Grella was dismissed after catching Takahara in the face with an elbow in the 76th minute. But the closest Japan came to getting a winner was in the final minute of extra-time when Shunsuke Nakamura forced a superb reflex save from Schwarzer.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND FOURTEEN
Boima Karpeh scored his third hat-trick of the campaign as Floreat Athena marched towards the Premier League title by dumping Stirling Lions 4-0 under lights at Litis Stadium. The ball had been in motion just two minutes when Karpeh made his presence felt by darting past Kevin Henderson before tucking his shot beyond Phil Straker from 12-metres. Minutes later Karpeh turned provider by unselfishly flicking on a header to Adam Bachillor whose volley flew over the crossbar. Stirling’s first real opening arrived o the half hour when Phil Arnold’s close-range effort was blocked by Vas Vujacic, and Ludovic Boi pushed the follow-up just wide of the upright. The Floreat custodian produced a fine diving save to keep out an Andy Brown header as the visitors sought to equalise. Karpeh was causing all sorts of problems for Stirling’s rearguard and early in the second half Straker palmed away his low shot after a terrific solo run from the half way line. In the 68th minute Karpeh latched on to a long clearance from Vas Vujacic clearance and, aided by a slip from his marker, volleyed brilliantly over Straker and into the roof of the net to strengthen Floreat’s hold on the game. The striker should have bought up his hat-trick in the 82nd minute when found free inside the 18-yard box but lifted his shot past the frame of the goal. However, Karpeh was not to be denied and shortly after completed his three-goal haul after a driving run into attack by substitute Garin Collins. Tensions were beginning to fray on the sidelines and only the quick intervention of the referee prevented things from boiling over. Floreat rubbed salt into the wound one last time when Paul Vatistas converted a low centre from Stefan Smiljanic in stoppage time.
Cockburn City continued their impressive winning streak with a 2-1 victory over local rivals Fremantle Spirit at Dalmatinac Park. The home teams' intentions were made clear from the outset with Dean Wallace finding the net in the 2nd minute only for his effort to be disallowed for offside. A few minutes later Wallace again threatened to break through but on this occasion crashed his shot into the crossbar. Cockburn's early dominance was rewarded in the 7th minute when Aaron Dos Santos got the slightest of touches to send a pass played over the defence past goalkeeper Steve Grant. It was only after going behind that Fremantle really kicked into gear and Simon Elton-Bott and Jason Barerra began to flex their muscle in midfield. Their persistence was rewarded on 18 minutes when a good string of passes featuring Elton-Bott and Dale Wingell opened a gap for Barrera who finished coolly past Dino Pacella. Barrera was by far the most dangerous of the Fremantle players going forward, while Wallace and Aaron Dos Santos were threatening along with Josh Kamasz for Cockburn. Cockburn made a strong start to the second half with Wallace and Dom De Felice going close to restoring their lead. Although slow to settle, Fremantle were unlucky not to go ahead through Vas Kalogeracos whose shot went narrowly wide after being sent through by Barerra. The introduction of Giovanni DeBartolo had almost immediate effect for Cockburn who were denied a penalty for Mark Darby's challenge on the young attacker. However, DeBartolo would have the final say when, with fifteen minutes remaining, he nodded in the deciding goal at close-range from Paul Natale's delivery. Fremantle were denied a share of the points by Pacella whose terrific reflex save thwarted Barrera after he shrugged off his marker inside the box.
Perth S.C. issued a warning that the title race is far from over by thrashing Inglewood United 6-0 at Clipsal Stadium. Andreas Oliveira bagged a hat-trick in a dominant team performance which includes two goals from Barry Wood double and a single by Antonio Naglieri. Inglewood came out looking to take an early lead but Dean Apelgren was denied by goalkeeper Gareth Deeg, and Jason Colli by the woodwork inside the first five minutes. It didn't take long for Perth to find their rhythm and on 14 minutes Wood benefited from hesitant defending to dink his shot over Oliver Taseski from the edge of the 18-yard box. Five minutes later Michael Ord and Wood combined for Naglieri to deliver a perfectly weighted pass to Oliviera who expertly lobbed an on-coming 'keeper. The visitors were having little problem in opening up the Inglewood backline and in the 35th minute Peter Lord and Wood played the neat one-two before feeding possession to Naglieri who tapped into the empty net unmarked. Any hope Inglewood had of getting back in the game was snuffed out just before the break when Taseski spilled a long-range shot from Naglieri which Oliveira instinctively put away at close-range. The home side began the second half promisingly with Mladen Kovacevic and substitute Matt Wardle working hard. However, Perth was in no mood for compromise and just after the hour Wood let a Naglieri pass run through to Ord who drew Taseski before unselfishly laying the ball off for Oliveira to complete his hat-trick. The scoring was completed on 78 minutes when Naglieri’s corner was cleared only as far as Costa Socratus whose neat pass was finished clinically on the turn by Wood. The day ended on a sour note for Perth who had Oliveira sent off for a dubious second booking shortly before the final whistle.
The points were shared at Nash Field where Western Knights and E.C.U. Joondalup finished level at 1-1. Joondalup dominated a frenetic opening quarter hour and would have been several goals the better if not for Knights custodian Kevin Miller who was at his brilliant best in denying Tom Amphlett, Marc Anthony and Craig Young. Having weathered the early storm, the Knights slowly worked their way back into the game through the efforts of Stuart Montgomery and Daniel Trim. A fierce first time strike by John Thornley clattered into the upright, and a terrific shot by Anthony Skorich was expertly saved by Alex Vrteski. The end to end nature of the game produced opening for both sides and in the minutes before the break Ian McMurray and Anthony went close to putting Joondalup ahead, while for the home side it was Andrjia Jukic and Montgomery who threatened to break through. The second half continued in much same fashion as further chances went begging. Joondalup stepped up a gear with the introduction of Jon Higgins whose first involvement was to unleash a 25-metre rocket which Miller tipped away from the top corner. The deadlock was broken on 75 minutes when Higgins lured two opponents before back heeling for Craig Young to fire into the bottom corner from just inside the 18-yard box. With two minutes the hosts had hit back as Montgomery played in Thornley whose shot on the turn was parried by Vrteski into the path of Skorich who slotted in the equaliser. The Knights controlled the closing stages with Montgomery having a shot cleared off the line, and Vrteski moved sharply to thwart Jukic in a one-on-one situation.
Swan I.C. won for just the third time this season by out-shooting Armadale 3-1 at the Swan Italian Club. The win was tainted, however, by the controversial first half dismissal of Armadale goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock. The opening exchanges produced some good chances on goal for both camps. The home side threatened first through Aaron Cole whose header from a David Perich free-kick was held by Sharrock. Neil Galwey chanced his luck from distance only to have Cory Hugo saved down low, and Rory Mouttet thwarted Darren Kingston as the big forward lined-up a Gawley centre. Swan got the breakthrough on 23 minutes when the impressive Perich curled in a free-kick which Damian Scali flicked past a stranded Sharrock. Referee Hugh Best stepped in following an altercation between Scali and Sharrock who, having already been booked, was harshly red carded. Armadale reshuffled their deck with Ben Howe making way for young ‘keeper Matthew Johnson to make his State League debut. The home side were determined to make the most of the extra player and Brendan Knox’ long-range effort was kept out by Johnson. The young ‘keeper came to his sides rescue again in the 36th minute by parrying a vicious strike from Foster, but unfortunately Gawley brought down Perich as they contested the follow-up leaving the referee with no option but to award a penalty. Foster stepped up and scored low to Johnson’s right to take the difference to two goals at the break. The game was all but over four minutes after the re-start as Foster tucked in at close-range after Johnson parried a low cross from Anthony McStea. Armadale got their consolation goal with thirteen minutes to go when Scott Paterson curled a superb free-kick into the top corner following a handball decision against Perich. This lifted the visitors with Scott Devine and Rob Crerar going close to further reducing the deficit before the final whistle.
Sorrento showed no mercy in condemning Wanneroo City to a 4-0 loss at Percy Doyle Reserve. The loss leaves Wanneroo a massive nine points adrift of eleventh place and in need of a miracle of Biblican proportions to escape relegation. The rain had cleared but not the wind when Sorrento leapt into attack through the three-prodded attack of Chris Boyle, Jared Love and Todd Harnwell. Boyle had the ball in the net after 3 minutes but his effort was ruled out for a foul on Jordan Conti who, four minutes later, moved sharply to his left to save a penalty taken by Love. The pressure value was released shortly after when Scott Neville directed a free-kick into the 18-yard box where Steve McDonald's downward header bounced inside the far post to put Sorrento ahead. Wanneroo's first opening arrived on 10 minutes as Craig Cheeseman's effort curled past the post. The game opened up as play streamed from end to end and Love was again thwarted Conti, while Anthony Cochrane tipped a Carl Harrison shot over the crossbar. With half-time looming, James Morgan played a corner to the far post where substitute Daniel Cagorski fired in to double the margin. A disjointed start to the second period was brought to life on 63 minutes by a Cheeseman overhead that flashed slightly over the bar. Play swung to the opposite end where Love centred to Harnwell whose shot was battered wide by Conti. McDonald added a third to the hosts' tally when allowed time to control, turn and shoot into the net from a neville cross. An acrobatic clearance by Daniel Hendley prevented Harwnell from opening his account after latching on to a long clearance from Cochrane. The scoring was completed five minutes from the end by Harnwell who rifled into the bottom corner after racing on to Stuart Banks' chipped pass over the defence.
FIRST DIVISION, ROUND FOURTEEN (South West Phoenix v Rockingham City courtesy South West Phoenix)
Mandurah City put one hand on the First Division trophy after defeating title main rival Canning City 2-1 at Burrendah Reserve. Blustery first half conditions resulted in few genuine chances with the first arriving on 17 minutes when Steve Postuma’s swirling shot was saved by Mike Green. Mandurah’s first opening came in the 31st minute when Christian Paschkewitz’ shot was spilled by goalkeeper Devon Spence who recovered in time to thwart Jordan Rhodes. Simon Versaico was just inches away from putting the home side in front four minutes later when his shot from a tight angle smacked into the upright. Mandurah opened their account eleven minutes after the break through Paschkewitz who slid in to knock Scott Halpin’s cross from the left past a desperate ‘keeper. The sides were brought level in the 82nd minute when the ball was whipped in from the right to Paul Van Dongen who converted past Green from 7-metres. Within minutes of the restart Versaico crashed his shot against the bar as Canning sought the lead. The deciding goal followed shortly after as Michael Bobridge was brought down while going past Spence, and with the resultant spot kick Damien Condo fired into the net to secure an away victory.
Ashfield leapt into second place after inflicting a 4-0 defeat on Bayswater City at Ashfield Reserve. Rydeen Botha opened the scoring in the 12th minute by latching onto a ball played over the defence and rounding goalkeeper Gianni Papalia to slot into an exposed net. The home team were presented with a couple of guilt-edged chances to extended their lead but a close-range shot from Andy O'Neill was slammed into the post, and Luke O'Neill's dipping effort was narrowly wide. Bayswater finished the first period the stronger and would rue Adrian Sutton's miss on the stroke of half-time when he blazed wide from 7-metres. There was more intensity to Ashfield's game after the break who were being lead from the centre by Daniel Webb. Bayswater were lucky not to lose Michael Kovacevic who brought down Damien Todorovic when through on goal, however, the defender survived the referee's wrath. It was shortly after that Julian Piromalli put away goal number two after Botha's shot came back off the post. And the game was effectively over when Andy O'Neill beat his marker before firing past a helpless 'keeper. Bobby Klenkowski provided some anxious moments for the home team with a free-kick that slammed into the crossbar. The scoreline was made complete on 89 minutes by Luke O'Neill who tapped in at close-range.
South West Phoenix jumped into fourth spot with a comprehensive 4-0 routing of Rockingham City at the Soccerdrome. An uninspiring match began slowly as both sides struggled to get out of neutral. Phoenix eventually settled and on 20 minutes took the lead through veteran striker Gary Mayers who benefited from a fine Greg Hayes pass. Mayers doubled his and the teams’ tally soon after by rounding the goalkeeper and coolly slotting in. Phoenix were enjoying the better of possession and should have had another on the board when a Steve Suttie cross found Patrick Quinn whose volley flashed wide from 5-metres. Rockingham worked hard to open up the home defence but found very few ways through. The result was put beyond doubt five minutes into the second half when David Murphy sent a pass through Rockingham’s defensive line for Suttie to race on to and slide into the net. After this the quality of football played deteriorated rapidly and chances on goal pretty much dried up as a consequence. The game’s final play produced a fourth goal for Phoenix as Seb Trim cut in from the left and squared the ball for Hayes who gave the ‘keeper no chance with a neat left footer.
Dianella White Eagles returned to the winners circle by trouncing Balcatta 5-1 at Dianella Reserve. Chris Barbas was called upon to make an early save from an Adrian Caliero header as Balcatta made a strong start. Dianella opened their account after 18 minutes when Dragan Njegic headed across the face of goal and in a mad scramble for possession the ball deflected into the net off a defender. A mistimed clearance from Daniel Colletta fell invitingly for Jon Greenwood who tapped in from 5-metres to increase the hosts’ lead after 35 minutes. Balcatta responded within five minutes when Toby Wright converted from the penalty spot after being brought down by Goran Radinovich. The second half was all Dianella who took the difference to two goals when Michael Maine's near post corner was powerfully headed in by Paul Hickey. The referee awarded Dianella a dubious penalty for Christian Melo’s challenge on Greenwood, who put away his second of the afternoon from the spot. For their part, Balcatta were limited to only scattered half chances as John Nicolaou worked tirelessly in midfield. Greenwood put the icing on the cake with only minutes left by pouncing on some sloppy defending and coolly slotting his third goal past the ‘keeper.
Jordan Hart scored twice and K.Melling once when Forrestfield United upset Morley Windmills 3-2 at Wotton Reserve. Remo McCann tallied up both goals for Morley who finished the day with ten men after the 83rd minute dismissal of Wayne Culverwell. It was a point apiece for Gosnells City and Queens Park whose meeting at Walter Padbury Reserves ended 2-2. Goals in quick succession from Craig McGill and Mark Edwards put Gosnells in a commanding position, only for that the be eroded by a D.Taneski double. Further details of these two games were not forthcoming from any of the four participating clubs.
GLORY EARN POINT FROM ADELAIDE
Perth Glory remains unbeaten in the pre-season Cup following this evening's 1-1 draw with Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium. Nikita Rukavytsya put the visitors ahead in the 53rd minute, however, a well struck free-kick by Brazilian import Cassio levelled the scores shortly after. Ron Smith was happy with his sides' performance but not the manner in which they conceded. "I'm not too sure if the ball went through the wall or over it, I'll have to look at the tape, but either way it was a little disappointing to give up the lead that way," he said. "Aside from that I thought the boys did a sterling job all over the park and I feel we are continuing to get better with each match we play."
Glory enjoyed the majority of possession in the opening half but failed to make a dent on the scoreboard. Billy Celeski's cross was glanced towards the top corner by Rukavytsya but Robbie Bajic's superb reflex save prevented the visitors from going ahead after 9 minutes. Rukavytsya was finding plenty of room to manoeuvre in the final third but was unable to hit the target. Adelaide's best chance of the half came the way of Cassio whose vicious shot was tipped away by Tommi Tomich, and with the follow up Nathan Burns hit the bar. Bajic was called into action several more times as Celeski and Simon Colosimo asserted their authority.
The second half was eight minutes old when Jamie Harnwell's delicate back heel evaded two defenders and Rukavytsya made no mistake with only the 'keeper to beat. But the lead was to be short-lived as on the hour Cassio curled a stunning long-range free-kick past Tommi Tomich and into the net. The game tapered off as two tired teams went looking for the winner and, although both had their chances, a 1-1 draw was a fitting result. There was bad news for Glory on the injury front with new signing Hayden Foxe limping out of the game on 73 minutes after receiving a knock on his knee, something Ron Smith could do without with the A-League season not far away.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
This weeks www.footballwa.net Match of the Week is the Clipsal Stadium meeting of Inglewood United and Perth S.C. Bobby Despotovski's side have bounced back from a shakey start to the year to be brimming with confidence following five successive wins. The trio of Danny Stoitis, Daniel Kovacevic and Shane Pryce form an imposing defensive line in front of Oliver Taseski. Jason Colli, Dean Apelgren, Kevin Griffiths and Greg Sharland pull the midfield strings with goalscoring duties falling to Daniel Neiderberger and promising youngster Mladen Kovacevic.
Perth head into the meeting having picked up just a single point from their past two outings. But rest assured Graham Normanton will have his players primed for a big effort as they attempt to keep pace with the leaders. Robbie Puca has been in outstanding form in the middle of the park alongside Todd Howarth, Antonio Naglieiri and Gary Faria. Gareth Deeg marshals a solid backline which features Michael Iconovski, Trent Kay and veteran Gianfranco Circati. Up front Barry Wood continues to impress along with Andreas Oliveira who is slowly returning to peak form. All in all, this promises to be one of the key fixtures of season 2007.
The blockbuster showdown between Floreat Athena and Stirling Lions has been pushed back to a 4.30pm kick-off at Litis Stadium. Michael Roki’s side hold a four point lead over Cockburn City and Perth but will need to be on top of their game as Stirling attempt to rebound from last weekend's surprise loss. Former Perth Glory team mates Scott Miller and Marc Wingell take Cockburn and Fremantle Spirit, respectively, into the local derby at Dalmatinac Park. The Western Knights-E.C.U. Joondalup clash at Nash Field won't be for the feint-hearted. Swan I.C. welcomes Armadale to the Swan Valley, while bottom of the table Wanneroo City head north to Sorrento.
It’s hard to go past the top of the table First Division clash between Canning City and Mandurah City at Burrendah Reserve. With nine games remaining Mandurah hold a six points lead, so for Canning to remain as title contenders they must win this one. The Peel-based side boast an array of talent which includes star striker Christian Paschkewitz, midfield dynamos Jeff Bright and Jordan Rhodes along with goalkeeper Mike Green. Canning have surprised many this season and will need big efforts from the likes of Dave Mickler, Kyle Mitsopolous, Mick Van Dongen and young shot-stopper Devon Spence.
Ashfield can stay in touch with the leaders by defeating neighbours Bayswater City when they face off at Ashfield Reserve. Fourth placed Morley Windmills have home ground advantage against a Forrestfield United side that has failed to live up to pre-season expectations. South West Phoenix are on course for a top five finish and should take maximum away from Rockingham City. Dianella White Eagles will be seeking their first win in six weeks when Balcatta visit Dianella Reserve. Walter Padbury Reserve is the venue for the eastern corridor derby between Gosnells City and Queens Park.
PERTH JUNIORS CONQUER THE WORLD
The junior players of Perth S.C. can proudly hold their heads high following a successful tour of Italy and Spain on which they captured a swag of silverware. Perth's Under-14 squad went undefeated in fourteen outings, scoring 45 times and conceding just three, to lift both the Italy Cup and Copa-Catalunya. The Under-15's captured the Italy Cup and were awarded the Fair Play award at the Copa-Catalunya with eleven wins and a draw from their thirteen games on foreign shores.
The level of success achieved by both teams surprised Gary Marocchi, chairman of the tour committee. "We didn't think we had a chance of being victorious in any of the tournaments, so to come home with three trophies was beyond our expectations," he said. "The tour got off to a great start with some encouraging performances at the Italy Cup and that was backed up by a solid display at the Copa-Catalunya in Spain where the competition was a lot stronger."
Marocchi was particularly impressed by the players' unity and ability to quickly adapt to situations. "Both teams played as a cohesiveness unit and that aspect of their game got better with every match," he said. "The players had the flexibility to fill a number of roles and the changing the line-ups didn't disrupt their performances. Skill-wise, they matched up well against some tough opposition, but our greatest asset was a willingness to compete at all times with the Australian toughness shining through."
The first port of call was Rimini where the Under-14's cruised to victory in the Italy Cup. Goals from Vid Amidzic and Dylan Tombides opened their campaign with a 2-0 win over Richmond Hill (Canada). FB Denmark were dispatched 5-0 with Amidzic scoring twice and Jason Marsden, Joshua Wilkins and Joseph De Luca once each. Perth complete the initial phase by thrashing US Marquette (France) 7-0 against whom Tombides bagged a hat-trick, Alex Gismondi netted two and singles came from Milan Vulin and Amidzic.
Matthew Izzo got the only goal in a narrow defeat of AS Templeuve (France). Elhurst (USA) were humbled 5-0 through goals by Gismondi, Aaron Jeffery, Amidzic, Izzo and Tombides. This was followed by a 4-0 win oagainst US Pont Ste Maxence (France) where Amidzic, Ben Meredith, Tombides and Jeffery where the scorers. The final was a re-match with Richmond Hill which ended in a 5-0 route and goals from Amidzic (2), Wilkins, Jeffery and Vulin. "Their performance in the final was outstanding and a testament to the quality of football they played in Italy," commented Marocchi.
The Under-15's made a dream start to their tournament by thrashing Sasfeszek (Hungary) 8-1. Hat-tricks came the way of Liam Boland and Million Butshiire with Luke Bower grabbing the remainder. Two more goals by Bower enabled Perth to overturn a half-time deficit and claim victory by 2-1 against Elhurst (USA). The Blues finished top of Group A despite being held 1-1 by Enskede IK (Sweden) with Bower again on the scoresheet.
Bower continued his fine touch by netting the only goal in the 1-0 play-off defeat of Enskede IK. International Academy (USA) were accounted for 1-0 courtesy of a Robert Rixer strike, and Liam Boland got both goals in the 2-0 defeat of Szolnoki (Hungary). The final pitted Perth with Enskede IK for the third time in as many days with the Blues claiming the title 2-0 through a couple of quality finishes by Butshiire and Rixer. "We had a tough draw and our players discipline probably gave us the edge in a series of tight games," said Marocchi.
The Copa-Catalunya kicked-off three days later in Lloret de Mar, a coastal town 75 kilometres outside Barcelona. The Under-14's swept past Ars IK (Denmark) 5-0 in their first game, Tombides (2), Gismondi, Wilkins and Amidzic the scorers. A 1-1 draw with Akarpis IF (Sweden) came courtesy of Amidzic's strike on day two, while Amidzic (2), Gismondi (2) and own goal earned a 5-0 victory against FC Fondi (Italy). Tombides were the scorer in the 1-1 draw with Asteras Varis (Greece) which completed the group stage. Izzo and Amidzic were amongst the goals in a tough quarter-final showdown with Riverstown (Ireland).
A place in the series decider was booked by Amidzic whose late strike earned a 1-0 victory against Ars IK. Polisportiva Kasmene, who are aligned to Serie A club Messina, provided the opposition in the final which Perth won in a penlaty shoot-out. The Blues dominated the game and went ahead with eight minutes remaining through Meredith, only for the Italians to equalise shortly after. James Marocchi, Izzo, Tombides and Amidzic each converted from the spot but the hero of the hour was goalkeeper Tim Doyle who saved two penlaties.
The Under-15's opened the Copa-Catalunya by beating AS Beauvais (France) 1-0 with Bower the scorer. Rixer and Butshiire earned a 2-0 win over AC Passirano (Italy), while the 2-0 defeat of FC Koronida (Greece) came about through goal by Butshiire and Thomas Black. Perth came out flying against Kavlinge GIF (Sweden) in the quarter-finals with early goals by Boland and Butshiire giving them the upper hand, however, the Swedes fought back in the second half to take out the game 3-2.
The minor place-play qualifying game ended in a comfortable 3-0 win against LSC 1890 (Netherlands) against whom Bower netted twice and Boland once. Perth's under-15's secured fifth on the final standings by accounting for Bele-Barkarby (Sweden) 4-1 through goals by Bower (2), Boland and Butshiire. "The boys were awarded the Fair Play trophy for their sportmanship and attitudes on the park but were extremely disappointed with their quarter final loss, especially as Beauvais, who we beat in the first game, went on to win the tournament," explained Marocchi.
While Perth are yet to decided whether they defend the titles won in 2008, Marocchi says the club are making plans to head abroad again next year. "Perth have received an informal invitation for our Under-15's to compete in an invite only tournament in Rome which will include Italian teams such as Lazio, AS Roma and Bari amongst others," he said. "We'll attempt to obtain written confirmation of our invitation and then formally approach Perth and Football West for permission to participate."
WILLIAMS DELIGHTED WITH PROFESSIONAL DEAL
Rhys Williams is over the moon after inking a two-year professional contract with Middlesbrough. The former E.C.U. Joondalup defender overcame a succession of injuries to be rewarded with a new deal. "I'm looking forward to really make my mark this season," the recently turned 19-year old commented. "One of my main aims is to stay fit. I had a hip problem, then groin, then knee ligament and now I've just had a double hernia operation. I've had a lot of injuries but obviously I've done well in the games I've played in and they have seen some potential, so I feel quite lucky."
One of Williams' biggest assets is his versatility which could come in handy during a long Premier League season. "I play right-back or centre-back ... centre-back is probably my preferred position but I will do a job wherever I'm asked to," he said. "It's going to be difficult with current internationals in Jonathan Woodgate, Emanuel Pogatetz and Robert Huth and then players like Chris Riggott, Matthew Bates, David Wheater and Seb Hines all wanting to play in the same position. But hopefully I can get out on loan and get some experience, come back and maybe even make my debut."
The youngster is also is in the unusual position of being eligible to play for four different countries. In February Williams made his Under-21 international debut for Wales against Northern Ireland, a country he qualified for Wales through his Welsh grandfather. But he could also wear the colours of Australia, England or India as he was born in Perth, his father in Kent, and his mother in Bombay. "I can play for four countries, England, Australia, Wales and India and there are currently two who are interested - Australia and Wales - so watch this space!"
RAMIREZ GIVEN NEW LEASE OF LIFE
The strong focus on youth development employed by coaches Billy Russell and Tom Kilkelly is beginning to pay off for Armadale. The Reds boast one of the top flight's youngest senior lists and all the signs are pointing towards a bright future for the club. 19-year old Marlon Ramirez is amongst those who've benefited from the new coaching set-up and through an impressive work rate has cemented his place in the first eleven. "It was difficult last season and I struggled to get a regular start, but this year the coaches have but a little faith in me and I hope I've not let them down," Ramirez said.
Ramirez, a former State youth team player, is enjoying his football with Armadale. "It's great at the moment as all the lads are about my age and we're all pushing for first team selection, which makes training intense but also fun," he commented. "Billy and Tom have been great, I've learnt a lot from them. They both talk to you and tell you were you're going wrong and that only improves your game. They have added a great deal of experience to the young side and we've improved greatly this season."
Spells with Future Glory, Fremantle City and Western Knights allowed Ramirez to hone his skills before being lured to Alfred Skeet Oval in 2006. "I live around the Fremantle area and when Peter Murphy asked me to come down to Armadale, the travel was a big problem," he said. "But the club has been great and Billy Easton has been great toward me and made me fell really welcome. My dad has been great and has helped me in my football career, he's been there to take me to every game and training session before I could drive and he has been a big influence on my playing career."
Jon Higgins' return to E.C.U. Joondalup has added a bit of extra spice to this weekends clash with Western Knights. An apparent falling out with the Knights coaching staff lead to the highly-rated defenders departure from the Nash Field camp during the week, and at the same time opened the door for a return to the northern suburbs club. Should the paperwork be completed in time, Higgins is likely to be to don Joondalup colours on Saturday for the first time in close to three years.
Fingers are crossed at Swan I.C. where David Foster is making a steady recovery from serious illness. The 2004 Golden Boot winner was diagnosed with glandular fever late last year and struggled through the early part of 2007 before deciding to take time out from the game. His recent return to the training track was a welcome relief for Swan's coaching who were further buoyed with the strikers two-goal haul in the Reserves win at Western Knights on the weekend.
Former State player Jamie Kuzmanovich has joined Stirling Lions after ending a lengthy association with E.C.U. Joondalup. The tough tackling 28-year old is regarded as one of the State League's premier defender's and will add greatly to the defensive options of coach Mike Lyons. Kuzmanovich made in excess of 100 appearances and twice collected the Fairest and Best award during his seven seasons at Joondalup. His time with the northern suburbs club was punctuated by a year with Inglewood United.
South West Phoenix' 7-1 spanking of Balcatta equalled the regional clubs' biggest winning margin of all-time. Phoenix showed no mercy with the six-goal margin to equal their 8-2 demolition of Stirling Suns in 2004, and move them into the top five for the first time in two years. Balcatta's late consolation was the first time in 375 minutes that the Phoenix defence had been breached on home soil.
Please contact 'The Insider' via email@example.com if you have any club news or gossip, transfer rumours or general scuttlebutt for inclusion in future editions of Short Passes.
OVERTIME APLENTY FOR YOUNG KNIGHTS ‘KEEPER
The only thing on the mind of 16-year old Beau Geerlings when he arrived at Nash Field on Saturday morning was keeping a clean sheet in the Under-18's game with Swan I.C. But just prior to kick-off the young goalkeeper was advised he'd also be taking the gloves for the Reserve team fixture following injury to Adam Guthridge. Then at half-time of the Reserves, a tap on the shoulder from Ronnie Campbell lead Geerling to stepping up to senior ranks as replacement for an ill Kevin Miller.
Geerling, a product of the Knights youth system, was thrilled to play his part in the Knights 5-0 thrashing of Swan. "When Ronnie told me I was playing, I expected it be a little harder than it was, but I really enjoyed the game," he commented. "The back four helped me a lot. Daniel Trim and Cormac Dawson were great on Saturday, they gave me a lot of confidence and I was very pleased to keep a clean sheet on my debut."
Coach Ronnie Campbell was delighted with Geerlings performance between the posts. "The kid is only 16 and it's a big effort to play three games on one day, and to keep a clean sheet for the first team was a great effort. He made some good saves and it's something he won't forget," said Campbell. "At the start of the season we had seven 'keepers and on the weekend we had one - but, as they say, that's football."
EVANS STEPS UP FOR STIRLING
He made have played only a handful of games but teenager Dean Evans is making quite an impression at Stirling Lions. The 17-year old got his first taste of senior football at the start of the month in the Cup defeat of South West Phoenix. Seven days later he came off the bench to score sensational goal from distance and earn Stirling a 3-2 victory over Perth S.C. Evans' upward trajectory continued on the weekend when handed his first Premier League start for the home clash against Inglewood United.
The memory of scoring his first senior goal will remain with Evans for a very long time. "It was a great feeling to score the winner," he commented. "I came on with twenty minutes to go, and I just gave it my all. The ball came to me and I thought I may as well have a crack - I knew it was going in straight away, and when it hit the back of the net I was swamped by my team mates. But I've still got to work hard to reach my ultimate goal, as a professional footballer. One goal doesn't make you a star, I'll keep my feet on the ground and work hard and we'll see what happens."
Evans is grateful for the faith shown in him and the other 'young cubs' by Mike Lyons and Paul Simmons. "They believe if you're good enough - and it doesn't matter how old you are - then you'll play first team," Evans explained. "They have been great with the young lads and have brought the best out of all of us. There are a number of young lads in the Reserve pushing for a spot, and they will get a chance, but when you're given an opportunity it's up to you make the make the most it."
Stirling president Don Evans, Dean's father, has been delighted with his sons progress under Lyons. "He's brought Dean on to a new level in senior football, and knowing Dean he will take all the advice given to him and that will make him a better player," said the club president. "Dean is only one of the talented young 'Lions cubs' we have at our club at present and with Michael teaching them the club is looking forward to a great future."
His father may be club president but young Evans says it's what he does on the park that earns him selection. "I do get some stick from certain quarters about my dad being the president of the Lions, but I have to earn my spot like all the rest of the squad," he said. "I'm happy to be on the bench and a part of the squad; I'm still young and need to improve in certain areas, but Michael and Paul know if they need me I'm ready to do my job for the team."
PERTH STILL A TITLE CONTENDER ACCORDING TO COACH
Graham Normanton hasn't given up on winning the Premier league title but says Perth S.C. will need luck on their side to close the gap on Floreat Athena. One point from their past two outings has seen Perth slip four point behind Floreat who have firmed as title favourite with nine games remaining. "Of course we can catch them - if they lose,' said the Perth coach. "We play them but we've got to forget about Floreat, we've got to win games and we haven't won too many recently. We've just got to worry about our own front yard and sort that out."
NTC BOYS OFF TO INSTITUTE CHALLENGED
The National Training Centre squad make their way across the Nullabor tomorrow to line-up in the Institute Challenge at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra. The six-day tournament will see the cream of Western Australia’s up and coming stars compete against teams from South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory, and provides a great opportunity to measure the development of the local players involved in the NTC program.
Following the Institute Challenge, Football Federation Australian will select the national Under-17 squad from amongst thirty players identified for selection last month. Those in contention from the west include Jack Clisby, Joshua Risdon, Trent Sainsbury, Eli Babalj, Cameron Edwards and Alex Pearson. The NTC won a four-State tournament in Adelaide during May by defeating Victoria and South Australia and drawing with the Australian Capital Territory.
The National Training Centre squad for the Institute Challenge features Dejan Aleksic, Clayton Arnez, Eli Babalj, Mark Birighitti, Jarrad Bracewell, Keith Clevenger, Michael Currie, Jake Geddes, Liam Harvey, Adam Luca, Joshua Risdon, Trent Sainsbury, John Tancredi, Reece Vittiglia (National Training Centre), Cameron Edwards, Alexander Pearson (Cockburn City), Dean Evans and Zoran Vrteski (Stirling Lions).
AUSTRALIA PULL OFF THE GREAT ESCAPE
Australia has qualified for the last eight of the Asian Cup after a 4-0 victory over a gallant Thailand in Bangkok. Two late goals from Mark Viduka and one by Harry Kewell eased the Socceroos nerves after Michael Beauchamp had given them a first half lead. It is a result to saviour for coach Graham Arnold and his team after a tumultuous three days in which he and the squad have had to fend off allegations of rifts in the camp, which only added to the poor form shown in the opening two matches. Australia now head to Vietnam for Saturday’s quarter-final clash with Japan, who earlier in the day thrashed Vietnam 4-1 to top Group B.
Arnold’s decision to make four changes to the starting line-up worked wonders as Australia started the match looking fresh, sharp and committed. The Socceroos created a couple of early chances but neither Viduka nor Vince Grella could test the goalkeeper. Thailand went within inches of taking the lead through Sutee Suksomkit who wicked curling shot was just beyond the far top corner. Australia’s early endeavour was rewarded in the 21st minute when Beauchamp headed in a Luke Wilkshire free-kick. Not content with one, Australia applied the pressure as John Aloisi and Viduka sent the ball high, while just before the break Kiatprawut Saiwaeo’s desperate lunge prevented Aloisi from reaching a Wilkshire cross.
The Socceroos should have increased the advantage seconds into the second half when Wilkshire advanced on goal but blazed over the bar. Eight minutes later, he had another terrific opportunity when teed up by Bresciano, only this time Wilkshire shot straight at the ‘keeper. From then on, it was backs to the wall for Australia as Thailand lifted the tempo and good openings came the way of Kiatisuk Senamuang, Pipat Thonkanya and Suchao Nutnum. The sucker punch arrived on 80 minutes when substitute Tim Cahill’s cross found Viduka who chested the ball down and held off two defenders before firing past the ‘keeper. Four minutes later Viduka headed in a Cahill cross from the right to take the margin to three goals. Kewell added the finishing touch by racing 30-metres to slot past the advancing ‘keeper.
HARNWELL’S FUTURE STILL UP IN THE AIR
Former Perth Glory captain Jamie Harnwell could yet leave the club before the A-League squads are finalised at the end of the month. Harnwell, scorer of the only goal in Saturday's pre-season Cup win at Newcastle Jets, said there are no guarantees he'll be wearing purple when Glory commence their A-League campaign on the last weekend in August.
Determined to extend his career, Harnwell has been open to offers since coach Ron Smith made it clear he'd play only a peripheral role in season 2007/08. Although a proposed move to Swiss second-division club Vaduz fell through, Harnwell is believed to have attracted interest closer to home. "I've made no secret of the fact that I'm keeping my options open," commented the 29-year old.
Harnwell knows he'll play only a bit-part role as a striker, rather than his familiar position at centre back, if he stays with Glory. "That's the way it's going to be," he said. "If it gets me a game then I'll do it. But playing out of position in the last year of my contract when I'm trying to get another year or two is not something I want to be doing. That's the worry for me."
Glory expect Croatian striker Mate Dragicevic to arrive this week after a delay due to visa complications, which is likely to put Harnwell on the sidelines for Friday's away game with Adelaide United. "They've brought in Mate for a reason and it's not for him to be sitting on the bench," said Harnwell. "I'm pretty conscious of the fact that I'm not going to be a first choice up front regardless of how I do."
LOWRY AND HERD REMAIN WITH VILLA
Shane Lowry and Chris Herd are amongst seven academy players to be handed new contracts by Aston Villa. The pair will call Villa Park home for at least the next twelve months after recently penning new deals with the English Premier League club. "Chris and Shane came across together from an Australian academy via an agent and went from strength to strength," said academy director Bryan Jones, who believes both have the potential to play in the Premiership. Lowry, 18, and Herd, 17, linked up with Villa in early 2005 after playing locally with E.C.U. Joondalup and Bayswater City, respectively. Both players broke into Reserve team ranks towards the end of last season with Lowry gaining an Under-17 international call-up for the Republic of Ireland.
GIRLS UNDER-15’S CLAIM SILVER AT NATIONALS
The West Australian Under-15 girls’ team have finished with a silver medal from last weeks’ National Youth Championships for Girls. The State youth team made it all the way to the series decider where they went down 0-3 to a strong New South Wales line-up. Also in competition were the State Under-17's who ended the event in sixth position after losing to South Australia in the minor place play-offs. The week-long tournament in Coffs Harbour brought together the most talented young female players footballers from around Australia as well as New Zealand.
The Under-15's made a flying start by defeating Capital Football (ACT) 3-1 through two goals from Sam Kerr and one by Jo Randazzo. Renae Rendall (2), Kerr, Hollie Farrell and Corrin Walmsley found the net in the 5-0 thrashing of Northern Territory the folllowing day. Day Three produced a hard fought 0-0 draw with South Australia, and in contention for a spot in the finals. A goals from Carla Bennett after 48 minutes earned the side a 1-0 win over a strong Northern New South Wales line-up which took them two points clear of South Australia at the top of the Group A table.
Western Australia came from behind to defeat Queensland 2-1 in Wednesday's semi-final. Queensland came out firing and went ahead on 4 minutes through B.Whitfield. Kerr brought the teams level with a fantastic solo effort which took her past four opponents before drilling the ball past the goalkeeper. In the 19th minute Kerr turned provider with a right wing cross which Rebecca Davies converted to West Australia in the box seat. Excellent defending from Emily Dunn and goalkeeper Becky Bennett secured the west a memorable victory after Queensland piled on the pressure after the break.
New South Wales struck three times in the first half to overpower Western Australia 3-0 in Under-15’s Final. E.O’Reilly got the ball rolling by putting New South Wales ahead after 6 minutes, and two goals in quick succession by E.Stewart effectively put the result beyond doubt. Nicola Williams team fought back in the second half but had to be content with being runners up for the second year in a row. "The girls have had a great tournament and have played some excellent football throughout and can be very proud of themselves for reaching the final," said Andrew Bettell of Football West. "The Football West girls are a fantastic unit and eight of them will be available for selection for next years championship."
The Under-17's shared the points with Victoria at 1-1 in the opening game of their campaign with Nikki Campbell scoring from the girls from the west coast. Day Two of competition saw West Australia down hosts Northern New South Wales 1-0 courtesy of a 59th minute goal from Shannon May. The following day produced a tight 0-0 draw with New South Wales which took West Australia to the top of the Group B table. Unfortunately, they slipped to third after going down 0-1 to New Zealand in their final group fixture. The Under-17's finished in sixth place after going down 2-3 to South Australia in the minor place play-off, Jiami Carley and Marianna Tabain getting the goals.
The Under-15 squad was Rachel Smith (Armadale), Hollie Farrell, Lindsey Kenyon, Jo Randazzo (Balcatta), Renee Rendell, Corrin Walmsey (East Fremantle), Rebecca Davies (Heathridge), Becky Bennett (Joondalup Jacks), Ashlee Byrne (Lynwood), Jennifer Chantler, Jaymee Gibbons (National Training Centre), Kendrah Pease (Safety Bay), Carla Bennett, Sadie Lawrence (Stirling Reds), Emily Dunn (Victoria Park) and Sam Kerr (Western Knights). Nicola Williams was coach of the team.
The Under-17 squad featured Lauren Bushby, Jessica Byrne, Jiami Carley, Gemma Di Lello (Balcatta), Erryn Gardiner (Bunbury United), Penelope Clayton (East Fremantle), Hayley Castrilli, Madeline Chandler, Casey Webb (Hay Park), Danielle Calautti, Chloe Coghlan, Ella Mastrantonio, Shannon May, Elle Semmens, Marianna Tabain, Emily Williams (National Training Centre), Nikki Campbell (Queens Park) and Shani Lynch (Subiaco). Jessine Bonzas was coach of the team.
AMATEUR PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND TWELVE (Stirling Panthers v WA Maccabi courtesy Football West)
WA Maccabi took a big giant towards ensuring the place in next seasons' amateur Premier League by defeating Stirling Panthers 4-1 at Yuluma Reserve. The game was 4 minutes old when Mitch Partridge who poked the ball in from close-range after Dylan Weiner's cross wasn't sufficently deal with by the defence. Maccabi doubled their lead on 22 minutes as Johnny Hesselberg fended off an opponent to lay the ball off to Tal Lehav who angled in from 10-metres. Stirling pulled a goal back shortly after when Laz Ladislav was fouled inside the 18-yard box, and Dulio Xavier sent the 'keeper the wrong way from the spot. The home team were unlucky not to equalise on the stroke of half-time when Peter Faraguna's header was brilliantly saved by the goalkeeper.
Any chances Stirling had of getting back into the game pretty much disappeared with the dismissal of Ladislav for spitting at an opponent five minutes into the second half. Even so, Stirling kept on pressing and Nick Paone could have tied the game up on 70 minutes when he was played in behind the defence but took too long on the ball and was robbed of possession. Stuart Broom wasn't far from securing Maccabi's victory nine minutes later with a fierce free-kick from distance which Simon Madaschi kept out. The result was put beyond doubt by Yoni Steingeizer who received the ball from a short corner and fired into the net through a forest of legs. The visitors added a fourth in the 83rd minute when Lahav's shot was pushed onto the crossbar by Madaschi who was helpless as substitute Cowan tapped in the rebound.
Shamrock Rovers continued their march towards the championship with a 3-1 home win over lowly University of WA 3-1. Fremantle United slipped five points behind the leader when held to a surprise 1-1 draw at Kingsway Olympic. Murdoch University and Suburbs United also shared the points at 2-2. Southern Spirit moved to fourth position, on goal difference, after thumping Subiaco United 6-1. Hamersley Rovers took the points over Lynwood Colts by a 3-0 scoreline. CN Canning International went down 0-1 on home soil to Perth Azzurri. South Perth United provided little resistance as Spearwood Dalmatinac ran out victorious by 5-1.
WINNING START MADE BY GLORY
Perth Glory made a winning start to their pre-season Cup campaign with a deserved 1-0 victory against Newcastle Jets at the Regional Stadium in Port Macquarie. Jamie Harnwell re-ignited his hopes of figuring prominently this season by scoring the games only goal early in the second half. “We were a bit down on numbers going into the match and I’m proud of the way the lads stuck to the game plan and handled the tough pitch conditions,” said coach Ron Smith. “This is a confidence boost for the team and we’ll be looking to keep the ball rolling in our next match.”
Both sides found the bumpy pitch difficult to handle, but it was Newcastle who enjoyed the better of the first half without really threatening the Glory defence. The hosts’ hard work amounted to nothing with Mark Bridge twice going close, while goalkeeper Tando Velaphi pulled off a top-class save to thwart Tarek Elrich at close-range. Glory’s best opening came the way of Harnwell who should have done better midway through the period when he lobbed goalkeeper Ante Covic for the ball to drift wide of the target
The game changed just three minutes after the break when Nikita Rukavytsya slipped an exquisite pass through to Harnwell who slotted into the net with only the ‘keeper to beat. This lifted Glory and the lively Rukavytsya showed Adam Griffiths a clean pair of heels but shot disappointingly wide. Newcastle pushed forward looking for the equaliser but it just wasn’t going to be their day as Noel Spencer flashed a shot past Velaphi only for it to cannon back of the crossbar. Glory went close to sealing the game late on but both Harnwell and Anthony Danze placed wide when presented with opportunities.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND THIRTEEN (Fremantle Spirit v Floreat Athena courtesy Floreat Athena; Stirling Lions v Inglewood United by Don Evans)
Floreat Athena came from behind to defeat hosts Fremantle Spirit 2-1, and in the process move four points clear at the top of the Premier League table. The speed of Callum Roberts provided significant threat to Floreat during the opening exchanges with only the experience of Ante Kovacevic and John Migas keeping the youngster in check. Fremantle's early pressure paid dividends in the 11th minute when Julian Madaschi's forward pass rebounded off Dale Wingell and the quickest to react was Cisco Jorqueira who dashed through a hole in the defence before driving his shot under the body of Vas Vujacic. Boima Karpeh was making his presence known at the opposite end and twice sprayed wide when presneted with chances to equalise. Vas Vujacic came to the visitors rescue with a superb reflex save which denied Roberts in a one-on-one. Bajo Savic and Paul Vatistas battled hard in midfield with Simon Elton-Bott and Jason Barerra as both teams attempted to establish control. A fine solo effort by Karpeh brought the teams level on 35 minutes by breaching the defence and beating Steve Grant at the near post. Michael Roki's decision to keep his players on the park at the interval had the desired effect with Floreat quickly getting into rhythm upon the resumption of play. Adam Bachiller turned up the heat with some driving runs down the left, while Miki Vujacic delivered a number of penetrating passes in the region of Karpeh. An off the ball clash between Roberts and Madaschi resulted in both players being given their marching orders by referee Joe Fusari. The deciding goal arrived on 78 minutes when Bachiller's rasping shot crashed into the crossbar and substitute Garin Collins, back to goal, executed a brilliant bicycle kick that gave the 'keeper no chance from 8-metres. Fremantle worked tirelessly to conjure up a late equaliser but it wasn't to be as Floreat effectively locked the game down in their defensive third.
Cockburn City moved to outright second after edging past Wanneroo City 1-0 in a scrappy encounter at Kingsway Sporting Complex. Both teams had lengthy absentee lists with Cockburn missing Michael Mirco, Johnny Mirco, Jason Dos Santos, Dean Wallace, Anthony Pereira and Peter Kuzet. Teenage goalkeeper Lee Mackie made his senior State League debut for a home side without Rowdy Yates, Craig Bowman, Aaron Olow, Jack Watts and Ahmed Hafez. Cockburn made a positive start with Giovanni De Bartolo and Josh Kamasz lively in the final third, however, genuine chances were scarce thanks to a resilient defence marshalled by Peter Vukmirovic and teenager Chris Pugh. The visitors' persistence was rewarded in the 28th minute when Paul Natale slipped the ball down the left to Aaron Dos Santos who cut inside two opponents and hit a speculative shot from 20-metres which incredibly snuck inside the far post. To their credit Wanneroo's youngsters remained focused and set about taking the game up to their more fancied opponent. With a little more luck the home team could have gone into the break on level terms as attempts on goal from Ben Yates and Craig Cheeseman going close. Wanneroo stepped up a gear for the second half with Yates, Cheesman and Vukmirovic leading the search for an equaliser. Cheesman crashed the ball into the crossbar, while a goal line clearance prevented Carl Harrison from bringing the teams level. Wanneroo continued to press with Cheesman again going close but no matter what they tried there was just no way for the home team. For their part Cockburn were limited to only scattered counterattacks, none of which really tested Mackie or his defence. The sound of the final whistle was a welcome relief for Cockburn on a day when Wanneroo deserved at least a share of the spoils.
Perth S.C. had their title hopes dented when held 0-0 by E.C.U. Joondalup at Dorrien Gardens. Despite the lack of goals, there was plenty of drama as the healthy crowd were kept on the edge of their seats right up to the final whistle. The first opening came after 6 minutes Andreas Oliviera forced the first of a string of saves from Aleks Vrteski. Oliviera was figuring prominently for the home team and not long after pounced on a defensive slip to clip the bouncing ball over Vrteski and narrowly wide of the upright. It was only after this that Joondalup awoke from their slumber with Marc Anthony in irresistible form with his delightful passing from the middle a standout. Craig Young tested Gareth Deeg with a fine strike which the Perth custodian tipped away, and shortly after Matt Donlevy robbed Michael Ord but disappointingly fired wide Oliviera should have done better than head straight at the 'keeper from Scott Bulloch's centre, while in the minutes before half-time Tom Amphlett twice provided the ammunition for Ian McMurray who was unable to hit the target on both occasions. It was more of the same after the turnaround with Oliviera and Bulloch both forcing good saves out of Vrteski, while at the opposite end a rasping strike by Amphlett was pushed high by Deeg and from the resulting corner McMurray headed against the bar. Going into the last ten minutes it looked as though Perth would snatch a late winner with Todd Howarth thundering the ball into the bar after terrific lead-up work between Robbie Puca, Antonio Naglieri and Barry Wood. The last chance of the afternoon came the way of Wood who stabbed wide under pressure after turning sharply inside the 18-yard box.
Inglewood United’s mid-season revival continued when they defeated Stirling Lions 2-1 at Macedonia Park. Steve Porter and Phil Arnold featured prominently as Stirling dominated the opening minutes and prodded for a way through their opponents’ rearguard. However, Inglewood almost snatched the lead on 14 minutes when Greg Sharland chipped over goalkeeper Phil Straker only to have Darko Ilomanoski prevent the ball from crossing the line. Stirling responded with a string of chances that opened with a long-range strike by Michael Pugliese which whistled narrowly over the crossbar. Teenager Dean Evans was linking to great effect with Porter and Dannie Richman who showed some classy touched in the middle of the park. In the 28th minute Porter sent a free-kick deep into the 18-yard box where it was met by Kevin Henderson who headed the wrong side of the post. Ludovic Boi beating three opponents down the flank but was unable to get through a well-organised defence, then Arnold chanced his luck from distance to no avail. The deadlock was finally broken on 55 minutes when Dean Apelgren drove in a fierce cross that dipped and swung over the defence and a mix-up between Ilomanoski and Straker saw the ball go between the teammates and into the net. Stirling levelled ten minutes later when Porter sent another free-kick to the back post where Henderson stuck out a boot to force the ball past Oliver Taseski. Play was then end to end as both teams went in search of further goals. Evans was unlucky not to put Stirling ahead with a fine shot on the run that sailed over the bar. With ten minutes to go Mladen Kovacevic stuck tout a boot to deflect a long-range effort by Baczynski past Straker and pout Inglewood in the box seat. The home side threw everything into scoring late but could find few holes in a defence composed of Shane Pryce, Daniel Kovacevic and Danny Stoitis.
Stuart Montgomery scored a hat-trick and John Thornley netted twice in Western Knights’ 5-0 thrashing of Swan I.C. at Nash Field. The home team came out seeking an early goal which they got on 5 minutes when Thornley seized upon a defensive error by Robert Monterosso and calming rounded goalkeeper Cory Hugo before tucking the ball into the net. It took only another four minutes for the Knights to double their advantage, this time through Montgomery who beat the offside trap and finished clinically past Hugo. Swans were finding it hard to get out of first gear and very lucky not to be another goal down when Thornley blazed high from an Anthony Skorich cross on the quarter hour. The Knights kept coming and on 27 minutes Andrija Jukic darted into attack and laid the ball off to Montgomery whose neat flick on was fired low into the net by Thornley. A fine exchange between Jukic and Thornley laid the groundwork for their sides fourth goal which came via a Skorich through ball that Montgomery despatched past the ‘keeper. It took until the 38th minute for Swan to muster a shot on goal but John Monterosso’s long-range effort was held by Beau Geerlings. Swan showed a lot more composure in the remaining minutes of the half which saw Tom Shepheard and Damien Scali thwarted by a stubborn defence, while Brendan Knox fired high at close-range. The black and whites continued in much the same fashion upon the resumption of play with good chances coming the way of Scali and John Monterosso. In the 70th minute Scott Bushby played Jukic inside the area where he was brought down by Knox, and Montgomery completed his haul by converting from the spot. Both teams created further chances but Corey Hugo brilliantly kept out a fierce shot by Jukic, and Geerlings prevented both Scali and Justin Hugo from getting the visitors a late consolation.
Armadale registered their second victory of the season by accounting for Sorrento 3-1 at Alfred Skeet Oval. All four goals came in the opening forty-five minutes with Darren Kingston scoring twice and Jason Goodwin once as the Reds opened up a handy buffer before Glen Thomas grabbed the visitors a consolation. Sorrento settled the quicker and looked threatening when going forward with Lewis Flatt and Jared Love particularly effective in their search for the go-ahead goal. Although slow to get into gear, Armadale eventually found their rhythm and Kingston and Goodwin began creating problems for the visiting defence. With 21 minutes gone the Reds hot the front as Kingston finished off a terrific cross from Ben Howe with a precision header into the corner of the net. This seemed to spur on Billy Russell’s side who took things up a notch through fluent passing and off the ball movement. Sorrento almost equalised on the half hour but goalkeeper Cyril Sharrock moved sharply to keep out Todd Harnwell’s effort which came against the run of play. Seven minutes later the margin was increased when good work down the left allowed Ryan Pearson to deliver the ball into the area and present Goodwin with a simple header. Kingston capitalised before Sorrento had time to reassess the situation by putting away his second of the afternoon from Goodwin’ cross from the right. The interval was only seconds away when Anthony Cochrane’s booming clearance made its way to Thomas who rounded Sharrock before tucking the ball in. Unfortunately, the game deteriorated after the break with both teams wasting good chances in the warm conditions. Kingston could have ended the day with a hat-trick but sent the ball wide when well placed late the game. The final whistle was greeted by sighs of relief from the Armadale supporters who are now all but assured of watching their team in next seasons’ top flight.
FIRST DIVISION, ROUND THIRTEEN (Dianella White Eagles v Mandurah City courtesy Mandurah City; Canning City v Ashfield by Phil Unsworth; Morley Windmills v Bayswater City courtesy Morley Windmills; South West Phoenix v Balcatta courtesy South West Phoenix; Queens Park v Rockingham courtesy Football West)
Christian Paschewitz bagged a hat-trick as Mandurah City out-gunned Dianella White Eagles 3-2 at Dianella Reserve. The three-goal haul capped a memorable week for Paschkewitz who, just days earlier, celebrated the birth of his first child. Mandurah started much sharper and were ahead early as Paschkewitz rose to nod a Scott Halpin free-kick past the home goalkeeper. This stung Dianella into action and it didn’t take long for them to equalise as Ray Rose found space down the left and placed his shot wide Mike Green. Soon after Mandurah reclaimed the upper hand via another free-kick which found Paschkewitz in space to head in for a second time. With half-time looming, Mandurah went further ahead as Shane Crampton helped on a near post corner which Paschkewitz powered in to complete a stunning hat-trick. The home side made a concerted effort to get back in the game after the break and within ten minutes Jon Greenwood made the most of poor marking to expertly lob over Green. Dianella were left wondering what they had to do to get back on level terms after Rose twice hit the target only to have both strikes disallowed for offside.
Canning City’s remarkable eighteen game run without defeat came to an abrupt end when out-shot 3-0 by Ashfield at Willetton Sports Club. An entertaining, end to end contest opened with Simon Versaico’s fierce shot cannoning off the crossbar after five minutes. Ashfield’s first chance followed as Rydeen Botha intercepted an attempted clearance and drilled a low shot which young goalkeeper Devon Spence held. For the remainder of the half Canning dominated play but were guilty of failing to make the most of their chances. Mark Purcell’s last gasp challenge halted a driving run by Paul Van Dongen, a Versaico cross narrowly evaded Dave Mickler at the far post and just before the interval Kyle Mitsopoulos’ shot was cleared off the line by Andy O’Neill. Ashfield came out for the second half a much stronger proposition and eleven minutes after the restart Botha’s angled shot was touched onto the bar by Spence and Julian Piromalli acrobatically pushed the rebound in from a couple of metres. The margin was doubled on 71 minutes when Piromalli fed Botha who tucked his shot past the ‘keeper. Luke O’Neill put the icing on the cake with a powerful shot that found the gap between Spence and his near post. Canning’s misery was compounded by the late dismissal of Daniel Trevisol.
Morley Windmills consolidated fourth position on the table with a 4-3 win over Bayswater City on a sunny afternoon at Wotton Reserve. The home team took the lead just 6 minutes after kick off through a thunderbolt from well outside the 18-yard box by Scott McIlroy that had the goalkeeper grasping at air. However, parity was restored a minute later by Rory Grant who finished superbly after being played through on goal. In the 37th minute Wes Ryder put Bayswater in front with a powerful strike that was ruled to have crossed the line by the referees assistant. But that lead was short lived as three minutes later Seita Hamamoto headed past Cody Bradshaw. Midway through the second half Morley regained the upper hand as Scott McIlroy whipped a corner to the far post where Andrew Bowyer hooked it back across goal for Joe Woodin to head in. Bowyer then controversially issued his second yellow card for some over-enthusiastic celebrations in front of the Bayswater supporters. The game was seemingly made safe three minutes later by Woodin who again found a way past the ‘keeper. Bayswater weren’t about to give up the chase and with only minutes remaining Sal Marrapodi converted in a frantic goalmouth scramble to set up a tense finish.
South West Phoenix registered the biggest ever winning margin by belting Balcatta 7-1 at the Soccerdrome in Bunbury. The ball had been in motion only 7 minutes when Andy Cowley picked out Steve Suttie who was afforded time to take a touch before slotting in from 9-metres. Balcatta were determined to equalise and for the next twenty minutes play ebbed and flowed without too many chances either way. However, three goals in a devastating fifteen minute ended the game as a contest. Suttie cut the ball back for Kris Braeckmans to clinically finish from near the penalty spot. Greg Hayes blasted in from close-range after his near post header came back to him off an opponent. Then Patrick Quinn’s shot came off the post for Gary Mayers to volley in from 5-metres and make it four-nil at the break. Any vague thoughts of a Balcatta comeback disappeared within five minutes of the restart when Braeckmans and Mayers and partnered up to tee-up Suttie who made no mistake. Goal number six came from Mayers who converted at close-range after a Suttie shot was parried by the goalkeeper. Balcatta got on the board through Anthony Toutounizs after Ryan Montgomery fumbled a free-kick. Mayers completed his hat-trick minutes by prodding in a through ball from Quinn.
Rockingham City require a minor miracle to avoid relegation after losing 2-3 to Queens Park at Coker Park. Despite improving noticeably in recent weeks, Rockingham have just one point from thirteen outings and are seven points adrift of their nearest opponent with the season fast running out. Queens Park took an early lead when Ricky Simpson sent goalkeeper Craig Olejnik the wrong way from the penalty spot after Richard Lacey was ruled to have handled a Grant Learmont free-kick. Karl Marwood levelled the score in the 31st minute by firmly heading past Brendan Symonds in a crowded goalmouth. Six minutes later Marwood again caught Queens Park out at a corner by out-jumping all to glance his header inside the far post. Queens Park struck back within two minutes as Jimmy Taneski’s stunning long-range shot gave Olejnik no chance. The second half was eight minutes old when Tim Zacharia put the home team ahead with a cool finish from 13-metres. Queens Park should have wrapped the game up on 66 minutes when Simpson made his way past the ‘keeper but hit his shot from an acute angle into the upright. Rockingham were unlucky not to pinch a point deep in stoppage time when Symonds blocked a close-range Marwood header and, after a goalmouth scramble, the ball was hoofed to safety.
The local derby at Walter Padbury Reserve ended in a 3-3 draw between Gosnells City and Forrestfield United. Jim Capewell, Aaron Nadin and S.Leembruggen scored for the home team while Forrestfield’s goals came via Carlo Di Toro, Phil Bell and Brad Eiffe. Further details of this game were not forthcoming from either of the two participating clubs.
GLORY LOSING FIGHT TO SIGN MARQUEE PLAYER
Perth Glory are virtually resigned to starting the A-League season with a marquee player after missing out on Dutch international Michael Mols. Glory chief executive Scott Gooch said the club had not entirely given up on adding a ‘star’ signing, but conceded time was running out to seal a deal before the season opener on 26th August. “It’s getting harder and harder to try and get the type of person who will fit into the team structure,” said Gooch. “It’s along way to come out to Australia and the Hyundai A-League is still in its infancy. I know the respect for the league is growing but when you are competing in the world marketplace it makes it a lot more difficult to attract the players that you would like to get.”
SOCCEROOS HOPES HANGING BY A THREAD
Australia’s inaugural Asian Cup campaign looks to be all but over after falling to Iraq 1-3 at the Rajamangala National Stadium in Bangkok. Despite equalising early in the second half through captain Mark Viduka, Iraq twice capitalised upon sloppy defensive work by Australia to leave the pre-tournament favourites on the verge of elimination. The Socceroos must now beat Thailand in their final group game on Monday, and hope the result of the Iraq-Oman goes in their favour, to stand any chance of making the quarter-finals.
Australia started the match confidently with Harry Kewell presenting Marco Bresciano with a half chance which the attacker sent wide of the near post. Iraq were gifted the opening goal on 21 minutes when Nashat Akram’s free-kick from 35 metres sailed over the defence and inexplicably bounced past goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer and into the net. Try as they might, the Socceroos struggled to break down a disciplined Iraq defence as they went in search of an equaliser. Their best chance came on the on the half hour when Viduka fired a free-kick from 18-metres past the defensive ball but wide of the near post.
A strong second half was needed from the Socceroos who could not have wished for a better start. Bresciano combined down the right with Brett Emerton who delivered a perfectly flighted cross to the far post which Viduka headed across the ‘keeper and inside the far post. Buoyed by the goal, Australia continued to press and Viduka went within inches of a second goal in the 53rd minute with a header that skimmed the crossbar from Emerton’s delivery. However, it would soon turn sour for Australia who began to tire in the energy sappy conditions.
A poor back pass on the hour by Tim Cahill was seized upon by Iraq and Akram expertly picked out Hawar Mulla Mohammed who neatly placed his shot past the advancing ‘keeper from 14-metres. Hawar almost added a second to his tally with a deft chip that Schwarzer managed to push on to the bar. With five minutes left Madhi Karim’s shot deflected off Lucas Neill to an unmarked Karrar Jasim Mohammed who had the simple task of tapping in from 4-metres. It got worse for Australia when Neill was issued a second yellow card for dissent by the Bahraini referee, forcing the no-nonsense defender to miss the make-or-break clash with Thailand.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
Nash Field hosts the www.footballwa.net Match of the Week between Western Knights and Swan I.C. The return from long-term injury of John Thornley has added a bit more bite to a Knights attack which features ever-green Stuart Montgomery. Daniel Trim, Scott Bushby and Andrija Jukic provide the drive coming through midfield, while defensively it's new goalkeeper Kevin Miller, Jon Mathers and Jon Higgins that run the ship.
Swan has already beaten the Knights twice this season and another three points can ease fears of being dragged into a relegation battle. David Perich has matured into a vital cog in the Swan engine room which also features the talents of Brendan Knox, Dom Ando and Damian Scali. Tom Shepheard was outstanding on his return from injury last week and will play a key role in attack, while at the opposite end of the park Cory Hugo, Rob Monterosso and David McNally need to on top of their game in order to keep the visitors at bay.
Table topper Floreat Athena head to the WA Spanish club to square off with Fremantle Spirit , who were only seconds away from defeating Athena in the reverse fixture last month. Anything less than maximum points will be considered a failure by Perth S.C. who visit E.C.U. Joondalup. Cockburn City are tipped to score big when they travel to Wanneroo City. Stirling Lions have a difficult home meeting with a fast-improving Inglewood United. There is a big game at Alfred Skeet Oval with both Armadale and Sorrento looking to move away from the foot of the table.
Queens Park host Rockingham City in an important game for both First Division teams. The home team have slowly moved their way up the table since the mid-season arrival of coach Glynn Shaw and another three points should secure their participation in next seasons' State League. Time is fast running out for last-placed Rockingham to make up ground on those above them and Saturday provides a perfect opportunity to pick up a point, or three.
Dianella White Eagles will be hoping Jon Greenwood can get amongst the goals and help arrest their slow slide down the table when breakaway leader Mandurah City call by Dianella Reserve. It's second against third when Ashfield play Canning City at Willetton Sportsman Club. Morley Windmills take on Bayswater City at Wotton Reserve in one of two local derbies on Saturday, the other being Gosnells City and Forrestfield United at Walter Padbury Reserve. South West Phoenix have home ground advantage against Balcatta.
GLORY SIGNS PRENTICE
Mitchell Prentice has become the twenty-second player to join Perth Glory for the 2007/078 season. A series of impressive displays on the club's pre-season trip to Malaysia lead coach Ron Smith to offering the 24-year old midfielder terms. "Mitchell had been recommended to me by several people and once given the opportunity he made the most of it with some impressive displays in Malaysia," said Smith. "I've been looking for another player who can fill a variety of roles for us and Mitchell definitely fits that bill."
An Australian Institute of Sport graduate, Prentice played national league football with Northern Spirit and Marconi before trying his luck overseas where he had short stints with Scottish club Stirling Albion and most recently with Malaysian Super League side Pahang. "Securing an A-League contract is something I have worked really hard for and I can't wait to join the team and hopefully enjoy a good consistent season," Prentice said. "Perth Glory is on the way up and to be able to play under the guidance of two coaches who have done so much for football in this country is fantastic."
Having received clearance to play, Prentice will get amongst the action when Glory travel to Newcastle United for tomorrow's pre-season Cup. "It's terrific to have Mitchell available for this match particularly in light of our current situation with several of our lads suffering the flu or battling niggling injuries," Smith said. Glory will have just fourteen players available for the game with Nikolai Topor-Stanley (overseas), Mate Dragicevic (overseas), Stan Lazaridis (unavailable), Hayden Foxe (unavailable), Leo Bertos (injured) and Jimmy Downey (injured) missing.
TIME RUNNING OUT FOR STRUGGLING WANNEROO
When the season kicked-off no one would have imagined that Wanneroo City would still be searching for their first win some six months later. But, unfortunately, that's exactly the scenario for the northern suburbs club who have to look back well over a year since last collecting maximum points. And with only ten games remaining in 2007 time fast running out for Wanneroo to pick up the required points to avoid playing next season in the First Division.
The monumental task of moving Wanneroo away from the drop zone has been compounded by a growing list of players who've been unavailable for selection. "Dan Brown returned to England earlier than planned to trial at Colchester United, young striker Ahmed Hafez is in France having trials and Okwy Diamondstar is in Indonesia on trial," said Brazil. "On top of all this we were unable to get Dale McCulloch’s move to Wanneroo over the line, suspension means Luke Croxall will be out until roughly the end of the season, and Kevin Miller has moved to Western Knights."
Despite these setbacks, Brazil remains optimistic and is looking forward to seeing what some of the clubs youth brigade can produce. "As they say 'when one door closes another door opens' and that's exactly what's happened," said the Wanneroo coach. "Chris Pugh has stepped into the centre of defence and performed very well, and Carl Harrison, David Houston and Sam Doherty now have the opportunity to show what they can do for the club with extended runs in the first team."
Brazil is quick to dismiss suggestions that it's all doom and gloom for Wanneroo. "It's far from the case," he said. "We have a very good youth system in place with Mitch Doherty at the helm. Our under-18’s are still in the Cup and doing well under coach Ian Munro, and in fact many of those players are knocking on the door of reserve and first team selection. As a club our focus is to develop young players and give them an opportunity to play first team, with some getting their chance a little earlier than planned."
And while it's a big ask, Brazil isn't ruling out the possibility of Wanneroo overtaking Armadale, Swan I.C or Sorrento in the closing months of the season. "It is still possible for Wanneroo to catch the teams who are sitting just above us on the table," said Brazil. "We've got home games against some of those sides in the second half of the season and if we can get some positive results on the board, be it a draw or win, it'll give our young side a big lift and from that we can then move forward."
RECORDS TUMBLE AT FOOTBALLWA.NET
Thanks to the continued support of the West Australian football family 2007 is shaping up to be another record breaking year for footballwa.net. The state's only totally independent football website continues to go from strength to strength with the homepage viewed 182,309 times during the first six months of the year. That figure puts us on track to eclipse the 355,867 page views recorded for the twelve months commencing 1st January 2006.
The last three months have been amongst our best ever. The footballwa.net homepage received 37,578 page views in April, that figure jumped up to 41,004 for May, and in July it rose even further with 41,639 page views logged. And we've got our fingers crossed that the all-time monthly high of 42,504 page views, achieved in May 2006, will be toppled in the near future.
A new 'weekly' best was recorded for the seven days commencing Monday 18th May when 10,148 page reads were registered. And the 'daily' record was broken on several occasions with the most successful single day being Monday 18th May when 2,132 page reads were logged. We would like to thank all readers of www.footballwa.net for making the first half of 2007 such an outstanding success.
Note on statistics – Page views are widely considered the most accurate assessment of the number of people who visit a website. Some websites gauge their popularity by the number of ‘hits’ received, a method which dramatically over-estimates the number of actual visitors. www.footballwa.net collates only to the number of page views on our homepage.
THE INSIDERS ‘ONE WEEK AFTER MID-TERM’ REPORT CARD
Floreat Athena (Grade: A+)
Where it’s gone right: Undefeated after twelve games and playing some exciting football. Michael Roki’s side is solid all the way down, and across the park.
Where it’s gone wrong: Quite simply it hasn’t yet, but everyone is waiting for the annual ‘Floreat slump’. Conceding four goals in fifteen minutes to Western Knights did expose some worrying signs.
Breakthrough player: ‘Jerry’ Karpeh has promised so much for so long and it’s good to see him finally start hitting the net against quality opposition.
Where to now? The only obstacle between Floreat and silverware is themselves.
Perth S.C. (Grade: A)
Where it’s gone right: Graham Normanton has a squad with tremendous depth and which continues to go from strength to strength. The injection of new blood has some Inclusion of new players added to their quality, whilst Oliviera hasn’t fired a shot.
Where it’s gone wrong: Losing Nikita Rukavytsya to Perth Glory with Andreas Oliviera short of match fitness The loss to Floreat Athena should be viewed as nothing more that a minor hiccup.
Breakthrough player: We all knew Nikita Rukavytsya was a quality player but he’s exceeded all expectations.
Where to now? It may be business as usual at Dorrien Gardens, but will fifteen minutes of madness against Stirling Lions come back to haunt them?
Cockburn City (Grade: A+)
Where it’s gone right: Good young side bristling with talent and desire to succeed. Off-field influences haven’t reared their ugly head and distracted the team from producing the goods on the park.
Where it’s gone wrong: They’ve dropped too many points on the road and that could prove the difference between title contenders and pretenders this season.
Breakthrough player: Goalkeeper Dino Pacella has a proven track record and slipped back into the Premier League as though he’d never left.
Where to now? Another solid season without the silverware to match.
Stirling Lions (Grade: B+)
Where it’s gone right: Started the new season where they finished off 2006. Have performed well despite some key players not yet firing on all cylinders.
Where it’s gone wrong: Big smashing by Perth exposed Stirling’s lack of variety. The absence and influence of English midfielder Steve Porter should not be under-estimated.
Breakthrough player: Teenage defender Steve Hesketh looks destined to take the next step in what’s shaping to be a successful career.
Where to now? Will be hoping another strong run in the Cup can return silverware.
E.C.U. Joondalup (Grade: B)
Where it’s gone right: New coaches Willie McNally and Gerry McEwan have brought with them new ideas and infused a new attitude amongst the squad which is working a treat.
Where it’s gone wrong: An absolutely woeful away record and instability between the sticks have prevented the northern suburbs side from being amongst the leaders.
Breakthrough player: Marc Anthony is an import of immense quality and more players of his calibre can only improve the standard of the local game.
Where to now? Start looking towards next season in order to capitalise on the improvement shown in 2007.
Western Knights (Grade: C)
Where it’s gone right: Their young squad is getting the results required while laying the foundations for what could be a very successful few years.
Where it’s gone wrong: While depth has been tested, the next level of Knights have justified the coaches faith and willingness to draft in ready made players.
Breakthrough player: Anthony Skorich has proven he has what it takes to play at this level, and can do a lot worse than learn the finer points of his trade from Stuart Montgomery.
Where to now? Out of the Cup and with little hope of getting back in the title race, the Knights are best advised to look at 2008 and beyond.
Inglewood United (Grade: C)
Where it’s gone right: They are finally beginning to play with greater fluency and realise the immense potential of a very talented group of players.
Where it’s gone wrong: A slow start coupled by injury to key personnel has effectively ruined Inglewood’s chances of silverware in 2007.
Breakthrough player: Daniel Niederberger - why did it take so long for Inglewood to hand him a starting berth each and every week?
Where to now? The rest of the season provides a good chance to promote some of Inglewood’s talented youngsters and move away from the tried and trusted.
Fremantle Spirit (Grade: A)
Where it’s gone right: Undoubtedly the surprise packet of 2007. Not only have Fremantle beaten the teams they needed to in order to make their Premier League return a success, but they’ve also pinched points from the top two teams.
Where it’s gone wrong: In all honestly, it hasn’t yet.
Breakthrough player: Right sided midfielder Sebastian Booysen has pace to burn, a great touch for goal and limitless ability.
Where to now? Have an excellent opportunity to give valuable game time to youngsters after securing their place in top flight next year.
Swan I.C. (Grade: D)
Where it’s gone right: Swan have put themselves in winning positions in almost every game played.
Where it’s gone wrong: Unfortunately, the blacks and whites have failed to go on with the job and lost the majority of those games. Injury and suspension has crippled the side who could still be dragged into a relegation battle.
Breakthrough player: Brendan Knox’ class still goes largely unnoticed by opposition teams.
Where to now? We’ve seen it all before - a Cup final appearance and a place in the bottom half of the table is the best they can hope for.
Armadale (Grade: D+)
Where it’s gone right: The Reds deserve to be acknowledged for their ability to match it with even the best of opponents when playing at Alfred Skeet Oval.
Where it’s gone wrong: An appalling record away from home has prevented them from claiming a position much higher on the table.
Breakthrough player: Experienced campaigner Jason Goodwin has taken his game to a whole new level in 2007.
Where to now? Try to get the three points needed to guarantee safety for 2008.
Sorrento (Grade: D-)
Where it’s gone right: The arrival of quality imports Chris Boyle and Gary Lynn has brought the Gulls renewed hope and confidence.
Where it’s gone wrong: They’ve been caught on the hop by a chronic lack of succession planning.
Breakthrough player: Jared Love has always been a player to watch out for but this year has shown his true class in a team struggling for form.
Where to now? Good recent form has seen them rise from the ashes, however, they need a few more wins to justify the imports.
Wanneroo City (Grade: F)
Where it’s gone right: They survived relegation in 2006 by the skin of their teeth.
Where it’s gone wrong: A woeful defensive record and a shortage of firepower pretty much sums it up. The management team must be wondering if sacking the coach after one game was the correct decision.
Breakthrough player: Ahmed Hafez has worked hard and shown he is a player of Premier League standard.
Where to now? Time to find out who is committed to helping Wanneroo win their way back into the Premier League for 2009 and put them on the park now.
WILLIAMS TURNS PROFESSIONAL
Teenage defender Rhys Williams has signed his first professional contract. Williams, who played locally for E.C.U. Joondalup, agreed to a two-year deal with Middlesbrough after honing his skills in the clubs' youth academy. The 18-year old was one of three youth team players, the others being Graeme Owens and Jonathan Grounds, to turn professional this week. "All three of our new professionals have been given contracts because of their gradual improvement," said academy director Dave Parnaby. "All three have played significant roles for Steve Agnew's reserve side, but they each now need to push further and challenge any player in their position who is ahead of them in the pecking order."
MRDJA ON COURSE FOR NEW SEASON
Central Coast Mariners striker Nik Mrdja is hoping to get his national league career back on track after an injury-plagued two years. Mrdja, a virtual spectator throughout the Mariners' opening two A-League seasons, has scored three times in two pre-season friendlies for the Mariners and is nearing peak fitness. "It's good to get a full pre-season of training under my belt," said Mrdja. "I'm looking forward to getting out there and playing some games and getting some goals under my belt."
Mrdja's appearances for the Mariners have been limited to just six A-League starts, from a possible 46, due to a series of on-going injuries. Prior to suffering an season-ending knee injury on the eve of the inaugural campaign, Mrdja had displayed his undoubted potential to the tune of six goals from eight matches in pre-season competition. His only A-League goal to date was a long-range free-kick against New Zealand Knights last November.
FOXE ADDS BITE TO GLORY
Perth Glory’s squad has been boosted by the arrival of experienced defender Hayden Foxe who joins on a two-year contract. The 30-year old has played 14 times for the Socceroos and returns to Australia after more than a decade abroad. “The decision for me to come back to Australia was an easy one really, I’m happy to be with Perth Glory and looking forward to an opportunity of working with coach Ron Smith,” Foxe said.
Smith is delighted to add a player of Foxe’s experience and leadership, and is confident he’ll have a big impact this season. “Hayden is a top quality player who has enjoyed a long career at the elite level in Europe and we’re delighted to welcome him back to Australia and in particular to Perth Glory,” said the coach. “He is fit and eager to play for Perth and will bring a lot of experience to our relatively young side.
Despite being born and bred in Australia, Foxe is yet to played professionally in the country but is keen to taste life as a footballer in his home country. “I’d like to think that I can play another six or seven years,” Foxe said. “The season isn’t that long here with twenty-one regular season matches compared to about fifty matches in Europe. I’m feeling good, I don’t have any injury concerns, and if I look after myself right then there is no reason I can’t play for while to come.”
Foxe began his career with New South Wales outfit Blacktown City before moving to Dutch club Ajax Amsterdam as a teenager. Unable to break into senior ranks, he enhanced his reputation through spells with Arminia Bielefeld (Germany) and Sanfrecce Hiroshima (Japan). In 2000 he headed to England to sign for West Ham United and, after a loan period with SV Mechelen (Belgium) made a handfu of appearances for the club before a change of management saw him fall out of favour.
He joined Portsmouth in mid-2002, making 46 appearances for the club and playing an important role in their 2002/03 First Division title success. His time with the club was effectively ended after fracturing a bone in his foot which, eventually, required surgery. Last season was spent with Leeds United for who he played 21 times. Along the way Foxe represented Australia at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, and 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.
IRISH EYES SMILING FOR ARMADALE
Armadale's loyal supporters have been given an extra reason to smile following the arrival of Irish import Neil Gawley. The former Glenavon winger scored on debut against Inglewood United a fortnight ago, and last weekend proved a handful in the Reds narrow loss to Cockburn City. "He's fitted in really well," commented coach Billy Russell. "Neil is a typical British player, he's quick and not afraid to get in were it hurts. He's got good vision and touch and, as the Inglewood 'keeper found out, a great shot."
21-year old Gawley has settled in quickly to life at Alfred Skeet Oval after playing several seasons in the Irish Premier League. "I decided I want a change and came over to Perth," he explained. "I was recommended to Armadale by a coach in Perth and it's been great so far. The boys have made me feel welcome and invited me out to few house warmings and parties, they're a great bunch of lads and I hope I can add a bit on the park and get some victories under our belts."
Gawley says there are certain aspects of his game that he'll need to adjust for the local competition. "The game back home is a lot more physical, and the referees here don't let you get away with anything," he said. "The standard of football is good and I'm enjoying playing a nice pitch every week ... once I get my fitness up a bit I'll be okay. It's been a bit warm, well, 20 degrees is warm from were I come from, but the more I play the better I'll become with the conditions."
RAW DEAL FOR LAZARIDIS
Former Socceroos Bobby Despotovski and Shaun Murphy have criticised the tardy procedure which has left Stan Lazaridis’ career in limbo. Despotovski, who retired at the end of last season after a decorated decade with Glory, said it was baffling that his former teammate’s future was still under a cloud seven months after he returned a positive drug test. “They’ve got all the facts there, so why it’s taken them seven weeks is ridiculous,” Despotovski said. “I feel for him.”
Murphy was also critical of the delay, although he felt it could indicate a positive outcome. “It’s pre-season now and they need to make a decision so he can move on from this and either concentrate on playing or look at retiring,” Murphy said. “At the moment he doesn’t know which way it’s going to go. But maybe the longer they take it’s a good thing because it’s an indication that it’s not a clear-cut situation.”
While Lazaridis returned to Members Equity Stadium to step up his rehabilitation after groin surgery yesterday, the road ahead is no clearer for the 34-year old whose career could be brought to an end by the positive test. He has a season left on his Glory deal but A-League clubs have the right to terminate a contract in the case of an anti-doping policy breach.
AMATEUR PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND ELEVEN (Spearwood Dalmatinac v Stirling Panthers courtesy Football West)
Spearwood Dalmatinac defeated a gallant Stirling Panthers 1-0 in the rematch of last years championship final at Dalmatinac Park. The home created the first good chance in the 12th minute when Rob Santich played to Darren Rich whose shot under pressure rolled wide. Despite looking the better side, Spearwood were unable to convert possession into chances and five minutes from half-time almost paid the price as Nick Paone sprinted clear of the defence only shoot tamely at the goalkeeper. Spearwood were also unlucky not to take the lead in the break with Pesich fiercely shot over the crossbar from a Rich cross.
The deadlock was broken four minutes after the interval when Graham Rickman played through to Rich who finished superbly under pressure. Stirling should have equalised on the hour when Paul Da San Martino was played in behind the defence only to the denied by the home ‘keeper. The visitors were by this stage dominating possession but, like Spearwood in the first half, were unable to find an avenue to goal. Paone shot wide with an open goal at his mercy following a defensive mix-up, and in stoppage time the ball fell to O.Xavier who, with time to pick his spot, placed wide.
Shamrock Rovers moved to the top of the Premier League table after a 4-0 win at Subiaco United. Fremantle United slipped to second place when held 1-1 on home soul by Hamersley Rovers. Murdoch University out-shot Lynwood Colts 2-1 to leapfrog into third position. The points were shared at Dorrien Gardens when Perth Azzurri and Southern Spirit ended 1-1. WA Maccabi went down 2-4 to Kingsway Olympic, and University of WA drew 1-1 with South Perth United. Suburbs United picked up their second win of the campaign by downing CN Canning International 2-1 on home soil.
CAHILL RESCUES AUSTRALIA
Tim Cahill has saved Australia from embarrassment by coming off the bench to earn a 1-1 draw with Oman in Bangkok, Malaysia. It looked as though the Socceroos debut Asian Cup appearance was going to start with an unexpected loss before Cahill struck in stoppage time to grab a precious point. However, the hero of the day was goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer who saved the side on several occasions as Oman, playing largely on the counter-attack, looked to add to their tally in the second half.
The heat and humidity clearly was not to Australia liking and by trying to conserve energy they allowed Oman to dictate play. Oman’s reward came in the 32nd minute when Imad Al Hosni was afforded space on the left and his cutback found Badar Al-Maimani whose shot proved too powerful for Schwarzer. Australia could have gone ahead prior to this when Harry Kewell got in behind the defence but rather than shoot he attempted to guide a pass to Mark Viduka and the chance was lost.
Oman created the first chance of the half with Al-Mahaijri’s low shot turned wide by Schwarzer. John Aloisi went close for Australia with a header from Luke Wilkshire’s free-kick. However, it Schwarzer who was the busier of the two ‘keepers with saves from Al Hosni and Fawzi Basheer at close-range. Australia finally pulled level in the 91st minute when Marco Bresciano’s shot was parried by Ali Al Habsi and Cahill reacted quickest by smashing in from a couple of metres to spare the Socceroos blushes.
PREMIER LEAGUE, ROUND TWELVE (Floreat Athena v Wanneroo City courtesy Floreat Athena; Sorrento v Western Knights by Kerry Slater)
Dean Evans’ struck a stunning stoppage time winner to snatch Stirling Lions victory by 3-2 against Perth S.C. in Sunday’s game at Dorrien Gardens. The teenager’s late strike capped a remarkable second half performance from Stirling who netted three times to overturn a two-goal deficit. Both sides threatened early with Phil Arnold’s shot on the turn flashing wide, then down the other end Phil Straker was at his best in keeping out a Barry Wood header. Perth grabbed the lead after 6 minutes when an unmarked Andreas Oliveira headed past Straker from a Robbie Puca cross. As the rain fell the game opened up and half-chances came the way of Puca and Arnold on which neither player capitalised. A superb one-two on the edge of the 18-yard box between Antonio Naglieri and Puca enabled the latter to knock goal number two past Straker in the 25th minute. Wood could have added another to the tally just before the break but the big strikers’ shot was well-saved by Straker. Stirling began the second half confidently and Deeg was forced to punch clear an in-swinging corner by Daniel Micevski. Oliveira squandered a golden opportunity early in the second when he headed high from Todd Howarth’s pinpoint delivery. In the 77th minute Evans profited from an error by Scott Bulloch and quickly fed possession to David Dugdale who slipped it through for Ludovic Boi to reduce the gap. The sides were level three minutes later through Steve Porter who expertly curled a free-kick past Deeg and into the net. Further opportunities came the way of both teams before Evans picked up the ball some 20-metres from goal, stepped past his man and launched a scorching shot that gave Deeg no chance.
Floreat Athena extended their unbeaten run to twelve games by sweeping aside Wanneroo City 5-1 at Litis Stadium. It was little more than a training run for Floreat who completely dominated a Wanneroo line-up facing almost certain relegation come seasons' end. It took all of 14 minutes for Floreat to open their account through Miki Vujacic who tucked the ball in from 8-metres after Branimir Mikulic's drive ricocheted off the far post. Mikulic made it two-nil by sending his marker, along with the goalkeeper, in the wrong direction to set-up a simple shot from 10-metres. Their third goal arrived in the 27th minute when lazy defending allowing Boima Karpeh to nip in and calmly convert from close-range. The second half began with Floreat at full pace and if not for sloppy finishing the margin could really have blown out. Karpeh failed to make the most of three one-on-one opportunities with the 'keeper, while Mikulic and Miki Vujacic were also each guilty of squandering several good chances. It was only through the perseverance of David Houston that Wanneroo pulled a goal back when the attackers' determined run took him past Ante Kovacevic and Adam Bachiller before angling the ball across Vas Vujacic and inside the far post. However, the visitors' joy was short-lived as Bajo Savic opened up space with an overlapping run before centring to Karpeh who completed a fantastic move by firing into the net. The final goal arrived through a similar build-up as Mikulic broke free and unselfishly laid the ball off to Karpeh to complete his hat-trick.
Cockburn City remains amongst the leading pack following their 2-1 defeat of a gallant Armadale at Dalmatinac Park. A couple of early strike secured the home side the points despite a second half rally from the visitors produced a deserved goal through Jason Goodwin. The midfield pace of Aaron Dos Santos and Adam Surjan were particularly damaging in the opening stages as Cockburn went in search of the opening goal. It arrived through Darryl Platten who had the misfortune of turning the ball into his own net after Cyril Sharrock parried a vicious strike by Paul Natale. The visitors could have drawn level only minutes later with Neil Gawley and Ryan Pearson wasting golden opportunities after getting into great positions. Cockburn on the other hand were clinical in their finishing and midfielder Aaron Dos Santos doubled the difference by unleashing a long-range shot which cannoned in off the inside of the post. Armadale’s passionate and vocal supporters were undeterred and continued to urge their team on as they searched for an avenue to goal. The visitors returned after the break determined to reduce the deficit but claims for a penalty were dismissed after Jason Goodwin’s effort appeared to strike the arm of Liam Lilly. As the half progressed the pressure on Cockburn grew and Dino Pacella was called upon to make a number of timely intercepts. Their persistence was rewarded in the 72nd minute when Marlon Ramirez drove forward and threaded a pass through the defence to Jason Goodwin who poked his shot in at close-range. The visitors upped their quest for an equaliser by throwing everyone forward but ‘keeper Pacella was up to the task and with the very last play of the afternoon smothered Steven Skilandis’s shot from point blank range.
Two stoppage time goals enabled E.C.U. Joondalup to snatch a point from their meeting with Swan I.C. at the Swan Italian Club. Quickest to settle was the home team who went ahead 7 minutes following great work down the right by David Perich whose cross was fired into the net by Damien Catalano. The margin was increased on the quarter hour when Anthony McStea crashed a free-kick from just outside the 18-yard box through the defensive wall and past a stranded Aleks Vrteski. Joondalup’s search for a way back into the game was almost answered by Darren Quinncroft who shot into the side netting after being released by Mark Lee. Five minutes from the break Tom Shepheard jinxed his way past three opponents before sending a low shot past Vrteski to take Swan’s lead to three goals. The second half had been under way only minutes when Lee held his nerve to convert from the spot after Craig Young was brought down inside the box by Aaron Cole, who was duly red carded by referee Ton Klaver. Not surprisingly, the pendulum now swung in favour of Joondalup with Lee shooting wide from distance, Scott Blackmore and David Abel both headed high of the crossbar, and Tom Amphlett was thwarted by Cory Hugo. As the game entered stoppage time Martin Ashworth put the visitors back in the hunt by netting at the back post after Lee’s cross wasn’t properly dealt with by the defence. The equaliser arrived two minutes later with Young netting in a goalmouth scramble to complete a remarkable comeback. However, there was still time for one final drama which saw Abel shown a red card by referee Klaver after confronting the official shortly after the final whistle.
Andrija Jukic’s late goal earned Western Knights a 4-3 win against Sorrento at Percy Doyle Reserve. The Knights got off to a dream start when an unmarked Anthony Skorich latched on to a through ball and fired pass Anthony Cochrane with only 3 minutes played. Shaken by this, the home side took their to regain their composure and on 17 minutes Glen Thomas’ cross was tamed by Todd Harnwell who then looped the ball over Kevin Miller and into the top corner. However, within a couple of minutes the Knights had regained the lead as Scott Bushby slipped a class ball through to John Thornley who fired past the on-coming ‘keeper. A further three minutes had elapsed when Cochrane parried a Thornley shot to the feet of Cormac Dawson who turned the ball in at close-range. Both ‘keepers were kept busy as the game flowed from end to end, much to the delight of an appreciative crowd. A minute from the break Thomas delivered the ball into the area from the left to Harnwell who reduced the deficit by angling his first time shot past Miller. The second half started with Miller brilliantly denying Harnwell an equaliser in a one-on-one situation. A tough battle for midfield supremacy ensured with Sorrento looking more and more dangerous as the minutes ticked by. Their persistence paid off on in the 75th minute when Gary Lynn’s penalty kick was just beyond the reach of Miller following a foul by Daniel Trim on Brodie Martin. The Knights stepped up a gear and Cochrane was called upon to tip away efforts from Skorich and Stuart Montgomery. The deciding goal arrived with only four minutes left when Jukic skipped past his marker and, with the defence backing off, advanced on goal before drilling in a low shot from 20-metres. The home side were denied a late equaliser when Chris Boyle’s angled strike came back off the foot of the post.
A goal late in each half earned Inglewood United victory by 2-0 over a luckless Fremantle Spirit at Clipsal Stadium. The two-goal margin flattered the home team on an afternoon when Fremantle did everything but put the ball in the back of the net. Disciplined defending kept early chances on goal to a minimum and it took until midway through the half for the first real openings to occur. Danny Kovacevic came to Inglewood’s rescue on 22 minutes by glancing Dale Wingell’s close-range header over the crossbar, and not long after Simon Elton-Bott’s stinging drive from distance curled past the post. The home were frustrated by their lack of penetration but on the half hour found a way through via Greg Sharland whose neat lay-off was rifled narrowly high by Jason Colli. Just as the half looked like ending scoreless, up stepped Daniel Neiderberger who seized upon a loose ball which he lashed into the bottom corner from just outside the 18-yard box. The second period opened with great excitement as play streamed from one end to the other through terrific movement of the ball. Steve Grant tipped a delicate Kevin Griffiths chip on to the bar, and a few minutes later only the quick thinking of Oliver Taseski prevented Vas Kalogeracos from bringing the teams level. Eventually Inglewood took control but Grant stood firm against Sharland and Dean Apelgren as they sought to add a second to the hosts’ tally. Fremantle showed they were by no means out of the hunt and in the space of a few minutes Wingell and Kalogeracos brought the best out of Taseski. The sealing goal was the result of a superb exchange of passes between Sharland, Neiderberger and substitute Michael Baczynski which culminated in Colli angling a low shot across the ‘keeper and inside the far post in the 80th minute.
FIRST DIVISION, ROUND TWELVE (Mandurah City v Morley Windmills courtesy Mandurah City; Rockingham City v Canning City by Phil Unsworth; Bayswater City v South West Phoenix courtesy Football West; Balcatta v Gosnells City courtesy Balcatta)
Mandurah City maintained their three point advantage at the top of the First Division table by defeating Morley Windmills 2-0 at Hyundai Stadium. The better of early chances came the way of the home side as Graeme Matthews crashed a shot into the crossbar, while Jake Loreto’s effort was prevented from crossing the line by the legs of the goalkeeper. Morley, playing with the aid of a strong breeze, looked dangerous once they settled and on several occasions home custodian Mike Green proved himself a worthy opponent when put to the test. Jordan Rhodes and Jeff Bright were presented with good opportunities to put Mandurah in front but were both unable to capitalise. Just before the break the home side found a way through via Matthews’ cross to Christian Paschkewitz who made no mistake. The second half saw Mandurah gain the upper hand only to be thwarted by the frame of the goal. Stuart Francis’ header cannoned back off the bar, and later in the period Paschkewitz rose majestically to nod a Scott Halpin free-kick into the woodwork. The result was sealed in the 81st minute by substitute Michael Bobridge who expertly drew ‘keeper before pushing his shot into the net.
Canning City came from behind to defeat Rockingham City 2-1 at Dowling Street Reserve. The home side started the game focused on the task at hand and, consequently, piled the early pressure on pressure who were unable to get into rhythm. This tactic paid dividends ten minutes from half-time when Eric Kuzmar’s free-kick was spilled by goalkeeper Keegan Savage into the path of Michael Vaz who netted at close-range. The second period was a completely different story with Canning’s midfield allowed room to play their usual passing game. However, it via a set piece that they drew level when Ryan Allomes delivered a corner to the far post where Paul Oliver silenced the home crowd by rising highest to nod past goalkeeper Craig Olejnik. Three minutes later Canning grabbed the lead as a flowing move down the right put the ball with Dave Mickler who angled a low shot inside the far post. After this there was only one team in it and if not for the good form of Olejnik the final margin would have been much greater. The win keeps Canning in second place, three points behind leader Mandurah but five points more than third placed Ashfield.
Ashfield moved up into third place following a tight 3-1 win against Dianella White Eagles at Ashfield Reserve. Both teams went into the game missing key players, for Ashfield it was Luke O’Neill and Julian Piromalli that were absence whereas Dianella had to go without the services of central playmaker Michael Maine and star striker Ray Rose. Early possession was evenly shared with both teams showing promise when going forward, and defending staunchly. However, it took until stoppage time for the first goal to arrive when a deep cross by Darius Dweh caught Ashfield napping at the back and Jon Greenwood was on hand to put Dianella in front. Ashfield returned from the break with more purpose and were rewarded when Jason Van Rooy whipped the ball in for Igor Novakovic to bring the teams level. Dianella were reduced to ten men when goalkeeper Pedro Pavez was issued his marching orders following an off the ball incident inside the 18-yard box, and just to rub salt into the wound Van Rooy coolly converted the spot kick. The result was put beyond doubt minutes later when a long ball found Novakovic who rounded Aaron Moschoplolous then replacement ‘keeper Todd Bushby before slotting in Ashfield’s third.
Bayswater City left it until late to snatch a 2-2 draw with South West Phoenix at Frank Drago Reserve. Rory Grant went within inches of giving the hosts a dream start when he headed high a Wes Ryder cross after 6 minutes. It was a miss that would cost dearly as four minutes later Greg Hayes put Phoenix ahead after goalkeeper Cody Bradshaw parried an angled strike from Steve Suttie. The teams were brought level on the half hour when Jamie Kumkar played through to Ryan Frisina whose fierce shot from 13-metres game the visiting ‘keeper no chance. Bayswater piled on the pressure after the interval but the closest they came to taking the lead was when Grant’s powerful header was cleared off the line by Andrew Cowley. So it was somewhat again the run of play that Phoenix took a 77th minute lead through Gary Mayers who was afforded time to pick his spot past Bradshaw from the edge of the 18-yard box. The home side grabbed a share of the points in the 80th minute via Damir Kudozovic’s exquisite free-kick into a crowded area which was nodded in by Grant.
Christian Debarro scored twice in the last five minutes as Balcatta overcame Gosnells City 4-3 in a tough encounter at Graham Burkert Reserve. Balcatta were given a perfect start by young striker Daniel Franklin who was presented with a simple tap in after Peter Koidis’ 2nd minute shot bobbled awkwardly in front of the goalkeeper and ricocheted into the path of the young striker. A fine through ball from Ciaran Allen allowed Brian Cairney to bring the sides level from 12-metres, and three minutes Aaron Nadin converted from the penalty spot to put the visitors ahead. Parity was restored for a second time when John Nicolaou threaded a pass to Colletta who rounded the ‘keeper before tucking away his shot. The see-sawing nature of the game continued with Jim Capewell firing in from the top of the 18-yard box. Shortly before half-time Gosnells were reduced to ten men after Mark Edwards was issued a soft second yellow card. Balcatta controlled play for lengthy periods after the break and good chances came the way of Franklin and Nicolaou who were both thwarted by the brilliance of the ‘keeper. With five minutes to go Debarro equaliser with a cracking strike from 18-metres. And with the last roll of the dice Nicolaou’s free-kick deflected into the path of Debarro who stabbed in the winner.
Forrestfield United picked up three valuable points by downing Queens Park 4-2 at Hartfield Park. Further details of this game were not forthcoming from either of the participating clubs.
LAZARIDIS BACK IN TRAINING
Stan Lazaridis will finally return to the training track with Perth Glory this next - but is still in the dark about whether his decorated career is over following a positive drugs test. Football Federation Australia has given the green light for the former Socceroo to rejoin his teammates on Monday, four months after his initial ban for returning a positive drug sample. But Lazaridis and Glory are still awaiting the verdict from an anti-doping tribunal held in May, despite FFA anti-doping by-laws stating players are entitled to a "timely, written reasoned decision".
Lazaridis' career was put in jeopardy after he tested positive to the banned drug finasteride last November, an offence which carries a maximum two-year ban. The positive test emanated from treatment Lazaridis was receiving for alopecia - a condition he disclosed and was accepted by football authorities on his arrival back in Australia last year. Glory bosses are hoping Lazaridis will receive a 12-month ban, backdated until last November 2006, which would allow the 34-year old to play the second half of the coming A-League season.
The uncertainty surrounding Lazaridis' playing future has frustrated Glory as they attempt to finalise their playing roster for the 2007/08 season. Clubs have to submit their squads to the FFA by 31st July, and Glory may consider asking for an extension if the Lazaridis affair drags on. "We can't finalise our squad on the date FFA has set until we know what is going to happen," said Glory co-owner Tony Sage. "He's our marquee player. He's the most expensive player on our list. How can we go forward when we don't know what's going to happen?"
RIZZO HOPES FOR SOCCEROOS RECALL
Almost a decade after his solitary appearance for the Socceroos, Perth Glory recruit Nick Rizzo is hoping his return to Australia can resurrect his international career. At a time when many players head overseas to enhance their international prospects, the former Liverpool attacker believes a move in the opposite direction will help him press for a recall to the Australian team.
The selection of four A-League players in Australia's Asian Cup squad has proved the domestic competition can be a springboard to international selection. "I'd like to push my way back into the national team. It was one of the motivating factors (for joining Glory)," commented Rizzo. "If you are doing well in the A-League there's always the possibility that you can get picked. It's a goal of mine. You never know."
Rizzo has already seen enough to consider Glory good enough to challenge for the A-League title. "The set-up here seems really professional and the training facilities are excellent. I've been in Europe for eleven years and it's better than some teams have there," he said. "Our goal is to get in the top four but we won't go into any competition not wanting to win. I don't see any reason why this side shouldn't do very well, it's a good bunch of players."
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
Cockburn City will be looking to stretch their six-game unbeaten run when they host a fast improving Armadale in Round Twelve of the Premier League on Saturday. Cockburn ooze quality the full length and width of the park and the goalscoring touch of Josh Kamasz and Johnny Mirco will be integral in their claim for a top two finish. Armadale may have only one win to their credit but their form of recent weeks has been pleasing for coach Billy Russell. Dusan Macura and Daryl Platten underpin a defence that will have to be on top of their game if Armadale are to head home with a result.
Premier League leader Floreat Athena are expected to take maximum points by a comfortable margin from their home clash with bottom of the table Wanneroo City. Not a lot has gone according to plan this season for Swan I.C. who welcome E.C.U. Joondalup to the Swan Valley. Comeback kings Western Knights head to Percy Doyle Reserve where they face a Sorrento line-up eager to away from the foot of the table. Former Perth Glory team mates Bobby Despotovski and Marc Wingell lock horns when Inglewood United take on Fremantle Spirit at Clipsal Stadium.
The www.footballwa.net Match of the Week is Sunday’s blockbuster at Dorrien Gardens between Perth S.C. and Stirling Lions. Graham Normanton’s side sit in second spot and with plans for a repeat of the 5-0 thrashing inflicted on Stirling only a few weeks ago. Stirling, currently placed fourth, will be pulling out all the stops avenge that loss and cause something of an upset. The game will be won and lost in the middle of the park where Antonio Naglieri, Gary Faria and Robbie Puca go to battle with Keith Brown, Steve Porter and Daniel Micevski.
A desperate Bayswater City take on South West Phoenix at Frank Drago Reserve in the pick of the First Division action. Bayswater were amongst the pre-season promotion tips, however, that dream will go unfulfilled with the club well and truly out of the picture in eighth place. Bunbury-based Phoenix have surprised many in occupying sixth position at the halfway stage of the season. Coach Mickie Cairns has transformed the team into a well-oiled outfit and his side will be confident of building on their impressive start with another three points on Saturday.
Table topping Mandurah City come up against third placed Morley Windmills at Hyundai Stadium, Peelwood Parade. Ashfield have home ground advantage against Dianella White Eagles who’ve had a month to forget. Canning City make the journey south to face bottom of the table Rockingham City at Dowling Street. Gosnells City have a tough away game at Balcatta, and Hartfield Park is the venue of the eastern corridor derby between Forrestfield United and Queens Park.
LIONS UNEARTH A RARE GEM IN RICHMAN
The growing number of teenagers pushing for starting berths at Stirling Lions have given coach Mike Lyons plenty of food for thought. The exploits of Ludovic Boi, Phil Arnold, Michael Pugliese and Steve Hesketh are already well-documented, and now it's 16-year old Dannie Richman who is naming a name for himself at Macedonia Park. The lively right wingback hasn't for a moment looked out of place since making the starting eleven for the first time in last months thrilling draw with Floreat Athena.
Richman is thoroughly enjoying the step up to senior ranks. "It's been awesome - I never thought at the start of the year I would be playing first team football," he said. "The game against Athena was a great experience, I was making my first start and that was the biggest crowd I had ever played in front of so that was a real buzz. The game is a lot faster in first team compared to reserves or 18's therefore you have to make decisions quicker and your touch has to be good. There's also the pressure to perform as someone else is there waiting for a chance to take your spot."
Stirling has a strong focus on youth development but, according to Richman, their early season success is attributable to more seasoned heads at Macedonia Park. "The team's doing really well at the moment, I think there was something like seven under-19 players involved in the Cup game against South West Phoenix," he said. "But the more experienced players like Keith Brown, Kevin Henderson, Darko Ilmanoski, Andy Brown, Phil Straker and Dave Dugdale have been the backbone of the team and have really stood tall this year."
There are several coaches to whom Richman says he owes debt of gratitude. "Mike Brazil was my first State coach and the first person to see something in me," he explained. "Last year in the 18's I worked with Michael Garcia who is in my opinion an excellent coach, someone who had been there and done it at as a player. He had a huge influence on me and helped improve my game immensely. Mike Lyons has really taken me and a lot of other youngsters under his wing and is helping us become the best players that we can. He has given me a chance and I hope I don't disappoint him."
Richman, captain of the State Under-14 team which defeated the Young Matilda's a few years back, is enjoying life at Stirling and hopes to one day play the game at the highest level. "I want to strive to be the best player that I can, and we'll see where it takes me," he explained. "I'm only young so I have to keep working hard and listening to the advice of the more experienced players and, hopefully, one day I can become a professional ... but I've still got a long way to go."
POINTS COME BACK TO KNIGHTS
Western Knights have successfully appealed last months' decision to strip the club of three premiership points. Football West's Disciplinary and Grievance Committee overturned the Knights Round One win over Inglewood United, who were awarded a 3-0 victory, for signing a player on a contract that did not comply with the 'National Registration Regulations', and that contained clauses that were incompatible with said regulations. In appealing the decision the Knights admitted to the offence and argued the original punishment was too harsh in light of their previous good record. The Appeal Board accepted this argument, reinstated original result and the three points, and levied an additional fine of $550 (total now $1050).
SCHOOLBOYS TAKE SHAPE
Damon Atthowe is pleased with the progress being made by this years’ crop of State Schoolboys. “The squad coming together quite nicely and we’re looking strong for the nationals in Darwin,” said the State team coach. “There’s a lot of versatility and depth within the squad, all the players are good on the ball and strong athletically. Team harmony is also very strong, the players rate each other highly which is important in building cohesion.”
Trials for the 2007 Schoolboys, held in April, unearthed the wealth of talent coming through the ranks of the State League. “The quality and standard of players who trialed was very good,” Atthowe said. “What that meant it was hard for the coaching team to trim the squad down to sixteen players. There were several players who made it through to the last round of trials that were good enough to represent WA but who we weren’t able to squeeze into the final squad. This is just more evidence that the standard of footballers in WA is improving all the time.”
This is the fourth year Atthowe has been involved with the State Schoolboys and believes this squad have medal potential. “I have big hopes for these boys, this is a team that can play real football and with the right luck will bring home a medal,” said Atthowe. “We are strong the full length and width of the pitch and will lose nothing when we go to the bench.” The 2007 Schools National Championships will be held in Darwin during August.
The 2007 West Australian Schoolboys squad features Andrew Harold, Kynon Melling (Forrestfield United), Ryan Pretorius (Fremantle Spirit), Calum O'Connell (E.C.U. Joondalup), James Sammut (Inglewood United), Kristoffer Dennis, Todd Ross, Kyle Stuart (Sorrento), Rory Feely (Stirling Lions), Nicholas Feely (Subiaco), Matthew Allen, Michael De Souza, Anthony Fearon, Josip Peran, Anthony Skorich and Craig Thompson (Western Knights).
LOCAL MATCHES POSTPONED
Perth Glory has regrettably postponed their upcoming friendlies with State League clubs Floreat Athena and Inglewood United. Niggling injuries to several players in the past few weeks promoted coach Ron Smith into the precautionary measure ahead of Glory's pre-season Cup clash with Newcastle Jets next week. Smith had available only twelve fit players for his teams' mid-week game with Perth S.C. and the situation isn't expected to be any better before next week.
Smith admits he's disappointed at having to re-schedule the games against local opposition. "It's disappointing because we are keen to get as much quality match practise as possible and the State League club's have been very accommodating in setting up these games," Smith said. "We came back from Malaysia with a few injury concerns and I need to ensure we have enough players available for our first pre-season cup game in just nine days ... unfortunately at this stage we're badly down on numbers."
One-time Australian youth international Vas Kalogeracos will wear Fremantle Spirit colours for the remainder of the winter. 32-year old Kalogeracos is a welcome addition to Marc Wingell's artillery and will compete for a place on the front line with Ravi Kuppusamy and young gun Callum Roberts. The experienced striker, who counts Perth Glory and South Melbourne amongst his former clubs, joins Fremantle after several months on the fringes of first team selection at Stirling Lions.
Armadale have added Irish import Neal Gawley to their attacking options. The speedy 21-year old marked his State League debut on the weekend by scoring the Reds third goal in the narrow loss to Inglewood United. Gawley has played in excess of 80 games for Irish Premier League side Glenavon. It’s rumoured Armadale’s ranks could be further bolstered in the next few weeks with the arrival of another import.
It seems the bubble has burst on Dianella Whites Eagles. A month ago the club was unbeaten and riding high at the top of the First Division table. However, a succession of poor results has seen Dianella slip down the standings to fourth place, some eight points behind leaders Mandurah City. Dianella have collected just a single point from their past four outings which have produced losses to Mandurah, Ashfield and Morley Windmills, and a draw with Canning City.
Five time amateur Golden Boot winner Flavio L'Abbate makes his long-awaited return to the playing arena this weekend. L'Abbate will spearhead Murdoch University's attack for the first time in Sunday's vital top of the table Premier League clash with Lynwood Colts. L'Abbate began 2007 as player/coach of Shamrock Rovers but controversially walked out on the club just days before the season commenced.
JOONDALUP'S FAMILY AFFAIR
Sweeping changes at E.C.U. Joondalup have re-energised the club both on and off the park. The northern suburbs outfit are placed fifth at the halfway stage of the Premier League season and victory this weekend at Swan I.C. could elevate them to as high as third. Away from the playing arena president Steve Amphlett has Joondalup heading in the right direction through some well-planned strategies, one of what was the appointment of coaches Willie McNally and Gerry McEwan for 2007. And come match time it’s the presidents’ teenage son, Tom Amphlett, who is providing some of the drive for the clubs rise up the table.
McNally and McEwan have brought a whole new level of professionalism to Joondalup according to the president. “Willie and Gerry have a five year plan and we are already way ahead of where we thought we would be,” said Amphlett. “We just avoided relegation for the last three years and when Willie came on board I told him to look around the club, and he’s added a great deal professionalism to Joondalup. And it’s not just the results. Now nobody misses training without a good reason, the players have breakfast together on match days and wear shirts and ties to the game. Willie and Gerry really have changed the clubs’ image almost overnight.”
19-year old Tom began the year playing Reserve team football but through a strong work ethic has pushed his way into the senior line-up, where he’s determined to remain. “I’m playing in a new position on the right and I’m getting used to it and improving my game each week,” said the midfielder, whose place in the line-up to down to some stellar performances this season rather than any favours granted on account of his father. “I know my dad is the club president but that doesn’t affect if I’m playing in the first team or not. I’m part of the squad and if I’m performing well I’ll be selected, if not I’ll have to go back to the Reserves and try a little harder.”
It was as a fresh faced 16-year old that Tom made his State League debut for Joondalup but it’s been during the past six months that his father has really seen his son grow in stature. “Tom has matured a lot and his confidence is there for all to see at the moment,” Steve commented. “He is his own biggest critic and my position at the club has definitely made it harder for him. It would have been easy for him just to move on but I’m proud that he chose to stay and a lot of what has happened this season has to do with the guidance the coaches has shown him. They have persevered when he has made mistakes, but they have done this with all the young players.”
McEwan, assistant coach to McNally, believes Joondalup are yet to get the best our of Tom. “Young Tom found his way into the team by default really,” explained McNally. “He’s been a striker for years but we tried him in the Night Series and he was off his game slightly and we put him back in the Reserves. He was excellent for the Reserves against Cockburn in Round Two and following that game we tried him on the right side of midfield with the first team. He hasn’t missed a game since, and his games against Perth S.C. and Swan I.C. have been excellent and we hope he continues to fulfil his potential.”
WINTRY WELCOME HOME FOR GLORY (courtesy Perth Glory)
Perth Glory's unbeaten pre-season came to an end this evening when out-scored 2-1 by local outfit Perth S.C. in cold, wet and windy conditions at Dorrien Gardens. First half goals to Andreas Oliviera and Barry Wood put the hosts in the box seat before former Perth player Nikita Rukavytsya bagged a consolation for Glory after the break. "The first half was disappointing from a number of aspects and we didn’t adapt well to the way they lined-up but we changed it in the second half and did everything but score two or three goals," Glory boss Ron Smith said.
A heavy downpour swept across Dorrien Gardens prior to kick-off to dampen what was potentially a free flowing battle. Perth adapted better to the conditions and opened the scoring after 20 minutes when Oliviera poked a close-range shot through the slippery gloves of Tommi Tomich. Rukavytsya and midfielder Anthony Danze were promising on the ball for Glory, however, it was rare that goalkeeper Gareth Deeg was troubled. Seven minutes from half-time Oliviera turned provider by delivering a superb ball into the path of Barry Wood who headed past the on-coming 'keeper.
Glory began the second half with a tweaked line-up and it wasn’t long before they pulled a goal back through Rukavytsya who blasted his 25-metre shot through a sea of defenders and into the bottom corner. Rukavytsya went close to equalising a short time later with a spectacular bicycle kick which was blocked on the line, while later in the half it was Danze whose goal bound shot was prevented from crossing the line. Perth could have wrapped up the game in the final stages but Scott Bulloch screwed his shot wide with only Tomich to beat.
GARCIA SIGNS WITH HULL
West Australian midfielder Richard Garcia has signed with English Championship side Hull City. Garcia moved to the club on a free transfer, signing a three-year deal after spending the last three seasons with Colchester United. "I'm definitely looking forward to the challenge," Garcia told the Hull City website. "I first found out Hull were interested in the middle of the (British) summer when I was back in Australia. The manager called me up and asked whether I would be interested in coming here - I jumped at the opportunity."
Garcia scored seven goals to help Colchester to tenth place in their maiden appearance in the Championship last season. By contrast Hull ended the season in 21st spot, avoiding relegation by only a handful of points. "I thought Hull probably didn't do as well as they should have done last season," Garcia commented. "Hopefully we can change that this season and the ambition of this club is to head forward." With a few more signings on the offering, Hull have set their sights on challenging for promotion to the Premiership when the new season starts on August 11.
GLORY CHASE FOXE
Perth Glory are considering taking a punt on injury-plagued former Socceroos defender Hayden Foxe. Coach Ron Smith, who was informed yesterday that former Dutch international striker Michael Mols would not be joining the club, confirmed a strong interest in Foxe whose career has been blighted by a series of foot problems. The 29-year old, who had spells at West Ham United and Portsmouth before turning out for Leeds United last season, was one of Australia's brightest young stars before injury derailed his career.
But Smith has not been deterred from pursuing Foxe, claiming he could easily manage the A-League schedule which is significantly less demanding than that in England. "We've had some discussions about it and it's on-going," Smith said. "He's okay to play but he can't play twice a week. If it wasn't for that he wouldn't be looking at coming back. He'd be playing in Europe. If he has to keep playing two games a week he'll break down again. He doesn't want that to happen because it could finish his career."
KNIGHTS COACH THRILLED WITH COMEBACK
Ronnie Campbell was delighted with Western Knights late revival that earned them a point against Floreat Athena on Saturday. The Knights produced one of the great comebacks by hitting four goals in the final fifteen minutes to rob Floreat of victory. "Obviously we're happy to get a point out of the game," commented Campbell. "We were outclassed in the first half, three-nil down and it could have been more. But the boys showed tremendous character in the second half - which we won 5-2 - and you really can't ask for much more than that."
It's been a tough spell for the Knights who've been unsettled by Tommi Tomich's recent departure for Perth Glory, which compounded the absence of Ivan Zuvela and Paul Cooke through injury. "We're struggling at the moment," admitted the Knights coach. "We're lacking defenders and we're down on confidence, but I think the result against Floreat will give us a lot of hope for the rest of the season."
Another plus for Campbell was the return of young striker John Thornley who has missed the past eighteen months due to a series of injuries. "John's first game for probably nearly two years was a big plus for us," said Campbell. "He lasted ninety minutes and did well, and although he's not yet match fit it's pleasing to see him back on the park. I rate John very highly, he's a fantastic young player and is good enough to play overseas."
TOUR ENDS WITHOUT LOSS FOR GLORY
Perth Glory finished their four-game tour of Malaysia undefeated after clinically dispatching Police FA 4-0 at the PULAPOL Ground in Kuala Lumpur last night. New striker Mate Dragicevic was again an imposing figure up front and continued his impressive early form to bag a double, while strike partner Nikita Rukavytsya and midfidelder Naum Sekulovski also got themselves on the scoresheet. "Our goals have come about through a good understanding between the lads and that will only get better with the more matches we play," explained a coach happy Ron Smith.
After a scoreless first half, Glory went ahead on 52 minutes when Jamie Coyne and Anthony Danze combined for Dragicevic to blast past the goalkeeper. Two minutes later Danze skilfully chipped over the defence for Dragicevic to head into the top corner. The onslaught continued when Rukavytsya danced around a couple of defenders to fire in from a tight angle on the hour mark. The scoring was completed by Sekulovski who was presented with a simple tap in after Dragicevic unselfishly laid the ball into his path on 63 minutes.
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This page was last updated on the 31st August, 2007